Thursday, April 27, 2017

Entertainment Drying Up

Meanwhile, A Quiet Passion won't come here for a month, so there's no good movie for me to see until maybe Wonder Woman in June. Might have to watch the Gertrude Bell movie on iTunes since I apparently missed it in theaters. I've already seen Born in China, and I was surprised by Dawa's story being so tragic for a family-friendly movie.

As for TV, my favorites finally came back with new episodes, and Supergirl was finally addressed Kara's unemployment, which they had been ignoring for several episodes. She got rehired again at Catco, but I still don't understand why her DEO job doesn't pay. I enjoyed the Lena Luthor story, and seeing Jiya from Timeless. Still worried about what shows will be cancelled at the upfronts soon. And then there's the possible Writer's Strike to worry about too.

I've tried to read more, continuing with my Parallel Lives book. There's also another Kate Warne kids book coming out in May.

Texas elections

I early voted in my local election for city council and school board positions. There were a handful of candidates, but only one endorsed by the local Democrats, so I had to research the other people, but there was very little information about them. Only the League of Women Voters had any info on them, and even then, many candidates did not provide information. So I did the best I could, voting for one guy who seemed very informed and specific about issues.

It reminded me, though, that we still have that damn Voter ID law in place even though it's been struck down multiple times. But it keeps getting appealed higher, and we still have to live with the effects of Voter ID, bad redistricting, etc. When can we start having fair elections again?

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Go Away, Bernie

Bernie Sanders needs to go away. I hate him coming to Texas and I hate his stupid Unity tour with the DNC Chair. I hate his smug, lecturing, know-it-all attitude. Fuck you, Bernie! You're not a fucking Democrat. Why should we listen to you? Why should the DNC kowtow to you? You're the reason Daily Kos continues to be a pie-fighting wasteland. And this whole thing about Mello--you've got your toady fans making excuses for you. That it was a "voluntary" ultrasound, that it was the lesser of two evils about bad abortion bills--but the guy fucking co-sponsored it. He wasn't holding his nose reluctantly forced to vote for it in an impossible situation. He fucking co-sponsored it, which is in fact an endorsement. I hate you Bernie and I hate your fucking lying rabid Berniacs! Fucking hypocrites talking about how it's okay to disagree on one thing, big tent party--when you're the fucking ones who claimed Hillary was a corporate shill who didn't match your purity standards. Fuck you all!

If you're not lecturing Trump, then shut the hell up, Bernie. You don't get to dictate to us who we should vote for. You're not our leader. Fuck you!

Thursday, April 13, 2017

The Devil's Dance

The s(her)lock web series posted another episode on youtube, this one based on "The Adventure of the Devil's Foot." It features great character interactions as Mr. Hudson and Watson take Holmes away for a detox, in the wake of an intervention for her drug use. The mystery has appropriately creepy effects for the poison drug, and I love the update on the Leon Sterndale character. Holmes also gets into a religious debate with Roundhay, the local priest. They're so creative with these adaptations of the canon. I hope all episodes will be available eventually.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

War

I finally saw the Zookeeper's Wife last night. It's sad that I'd rather watch a movie about WWII than the current news about possible war in Syria. Unfortunately there was a preview for An Inconvenient Sequel, and it featured two clips of Trump, so I couldn't escape from him after all. It dredged up more dread and anxiety about the future. Worse yet, someone in the audience laughed after the trailer, like they too thought climate change was a fucking hoax. I hate living in a red state and feeling so helpless. Trump being in Mar-a-lago yet again during this crisis makes it even more of a farce.

Monday, April 3, 2017

April Showers

Thunderstorms woke me up early this morning and the sky remained gloomy all day. I actually saw a mockingbird perched on the top of my tree, though, so hopefully that's a good sign for spring.

Apparently I missed an April Fool's prank where Will Arnett narrated an office, but it's already gone. That's what I get for not checking Netflix for more often. I'm still craving more Arrested Development, but there's been no news on that front either.

I wanted to see The Zookeeper's Wife, but it's still in limited release and I wasn't up to driving half an hour to the nearest theater. A lot of movies I want to see are specialty films like that; they only open in New York and LA first, then you have no idea when it will expand to nationwide. So frustrating! I want to see the Gertrude Bell one and the one about Emily Dickinson. I hope the biopics won't be romanticized too much, focused on love interests. I recently watched the Pancho Barnes movie starring Valerie Bertinelli, and they fictionalized it too much, focusing on some love triangle with two other pilots. The PBS documentary on Pancho Barnes was more interesting.

Oh I also heard that Constance Wu will star in a romantic comedy called Crazy Rich Asians. I hope it will be great and get her other lead parts. I'm still upset that she hasn't gotten an Emmy nomination yet for Fresh Off the Boat. When will "diversity" include Asians too?

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Rogue One

I belatedly saw the film and didn't enjoy it as much as The Force Awakens. It was really slow and ponderous in the beginning. Plus it seemed to have a lot of nonsensical moments, like Saw Gerrera tossing the pilot in with that weird creature who was supposed to read his mind and/or turn him crazy. I mean, what was even the point of that, other than be gross? And why bother making it look like Saw was maybe crazy and not a good guy? His reunion with Jyn was initially tense, then began to warm up after seeing the holograph message, then Saw just decides to stay behind after the Death Star strike. So he'd prefer to die than join Jyn on her new mission? So incomprehensible.

SPOILERS BELOW, though probably everyone else has seen the movie already:

Monday, March 6, 2017

A United Kingdom

It was an enjoyable movie, though the beginning courtship felt rather vague about how long they had been dating before Seretse proposed to Ruth. Once engaged, they face strong opposition from both Seretse's uncle and Ruth's father, along with the British Government itself. Bechuanaland is a British protectorate, so under the guise of preventing a civil war between Seretse and his uncle, the British bureaucrats try to keep him off his throne. Britain's real motive is to avoid offending South Africa, with its new apartheid policies; the prime minister argues that they need South Africa's uranium and gold, so they must exile Seretse. He and Ruth resist the machinations, but end up separated as they each try to stir public outrage to reverse the exile. Ruth was not welcomed at first by Seretse's sister and his aunt, but slowly they warm up to her and help her out, especially when she has to face pregnancy and childbirth alone.

Meanwhile, Seretse keeps making their case in England, with the help of a reporter and a sympathetic government official. I was surprised to learn that Winston Churchill even spoke out, claiming that he would end the exile if he was elected. When Churchill does win, though, he instead exiles Seretse for life! So apparently the campaign promise was all politics, and not sincere. Contrast that with the community-based kgotlas meetings, and the Bechuanaland government seems more respectable and honest.

There is a secret "Harringdon report" that Seretse is looking for, as well as an American mining company searching for diamonds on their land. A lot of political intrigue. Then Ruth finally gets to reunite with Seretse and her family in England, while Seretse works out a way to make up with his uncle to end the stand-off. Ultimately Seretse gives up the throne and argues that Bechuanaland should become a democracy and seek independence from Britain. It's a moving film, and David Oyelowo delivers some fine, impassioned speeches about leadership, freedom, and not going along with segregation.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Historical movies

I didn't really watch the Oscars on Sunday, but I caught a few minutes during a break at work, and I got to see the Hidden Figures cast bring out Katherine Johnson to a standing ovation. It was great that such an important film was recognized; sadly they didn't win any Oscars, so they'll have to settle for the considerable box office success. Still, I was very pleased later this week to hear about the new Lego Women of NASA set, featuring Katherine Johnson and other STEM women.

As for the rest of the Oscar kerfuffle, I only checked the winners online, in that short minute between the initial announcement of Best Picture and the correction of Best Picture, so I was shocked by the reversal too. Though I've not seen either Moonlight or La La Land, I'm glad that Moonlight won. Prior to the Oscars, all the hype building about a La La Land sweep annoyed me, because I'm tired of Hollywood being obsessed with itself and tongue-bathing any movie about show business. As Honest Trailers called it, it was a Hollywood hand-job, so I'm glad that they looked beyond themselves and rewarded diversity instead.

As for diverse movies, this weekend I'm going to finally see A United Kingdom with David Oyelowo. This film was very slow to arrive here in DFW, much less move out beyond the specialty art theatres that are so inconvenient to me. I'm excited to learn about a historical romance I never heard of before, and in my favorite African country of Botswana. (It was the setting of the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency.)

Monday, February 20, 2017

Allegiance

This Broadway musical about the Japanese internment was beautifully sung and acted. The sight of people chanting "Resist" in the face of prejudice and wartime paranoia is very timely, and I thank George Takei for pushing this message so we never forget. It's also so refreshing to see a cast of mostly Asian Americans instead of more Hollywood whitewashing. Too bad that this show was not successful against Hamilton. It is not depressing but rather uplifting, with a touching personal story of redemption and forgiveness.

George Takei plays WWII vet Sammy Kimura in the present day, as well as Sammy's grandfather in the past. The flashback introduces us to the family during a Japanese summer festival where they tie wishes to a tree, so that the wind will blow them away and grant the wishes. The song conveys their hopes and dreams for the future, and is bittersweet in light of what the war has in store for them. After the Pearl Harbor attack, Sammy and his friends try to enlist, but are rejected as "enemy aliens." Sammy's father argues not to make trouble or draw attention to themselves, that nothing can be done about the rising anti-Japanese sentiment.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Lego Batman

The Lego Batman movie was funny, sweet and great. Not at all grim-dark, though it had serious dramatic moments. Just the right dose of Will Arnett that I needed to cheer myself up these days. And I don't know if it was an Arrested Development nod to the hermano confusion over Marta, but I liked how they kept using Spanish for their terms of endearment. Goofy, earnest Robin was fantastic, as was parental Alfred and awesome Batgirl.

I would say the only complaint I had was that the movie seemed to shove aside all the regular Batman villains in favor of the Phantom Zone villains. We barely had any lines from Catwoman, Two-Face, Riddler, etc, simply to focus on the Joker as the greatest enemy. It also took me a second viewing to realize the female police chief was a genderbent Chief O'Hara, and I'm not sure why Batman kept calling Bruce Wayne "Bruno" when talking about his "roommate." But I do agree that "Iron Man sucks" lately in the last couple of Marvel films with the Avengers.

Another thing was that I saw an ad for the Fathom Event showing of George Takei's Allegiance show about Japanese internment camps, so I'm going to see that today. I wish they wouldn't do such short notice on these kind of events. I missed the last showing because I was working that day and couldn't take off.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Effie Gray

Currently I'm reading a book called Parallel Lives, portraying the lives of famous Victorian couples. I've just read the chapters concerning John Ruskin and Effie Gray, and their unconsummated marriage. Very interesting, and the author makes an effort to balance the viewpoints. She shows how each spouse has a different, parallel view of the marriage, just as there are two sides to every divorce. Having grown up a spoiled genius, John Ruskin convinces himself that Effie is insane, and that she is the one causing the problems because she insists on sticking up for her family and wants to avoid his suffocating parents. The author also quotes Ruskin's parents, who think Effie is ungrateful for the wealth and comforts they pay for; they believe she should be obedient and defer to them, while John agrees with his parents. So apart from never having sex, their marriage had fundamental problems from the start. It's really strange how foreign old Victorian attitudes are, and the author even points out that other Victorian marriages had been unconsummated as well.

I remember watching the movie about Effie, and being dissatisfied that the movie ended before we actually saw Effie's marriage annulled. I guess they wanted to emphasize that the annulment was for her own well-being, rather than being for the specific goal of her marrying the painter Millais. (And indeed, the book says in real life that Effie made him stay away for a time to avoid scandal.) I look forward to finishing the book and learning about the other couples, such as the Carlyles.

By the way, I found that the s(her)lock web series has uploaded an episode to Youtube. I'm not sure what that means about the other episodes they made. Will they be available to purchase somewhere? I hope so.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Season 5

So apparently there's new AD scoop that the season 5 will be half flashbacks starring other actors as the young Bluths. I find it strange that we keep hearing things like this without Netflix making an official announcement. I want firm news, not gossip and speculation.

I wouldn't mind some flashbacks, if they concerned periods of time that we don't know anything about, like when Michael's wife Tracey was alive, when Lindsay and Sally Sitwell competed during the high school election, or when Lucille Bluth had a pet ostrich and developed her suspicion of brothers colluding. However, I'm not sure I want half the show to be flashbacks; I would prefer the story move forward on plots like Lucille Austero's murder, Gob and Tony's relationship, and Lindsay's new election battle against Sally.

Hope there will be better news soon. In the meantime I'm working again on Far From Over to write things how I want them to be in my alternate universe.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Curious Incident

I went to see The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, based on the book of that name. It was less Sherlockian than I hoped; they mentioned once that Christopher liked reading Holmes stories, but did not even explain that the title quote came from a particular story.

I got cheap tickets way up high, but was allowed to come forward 4 rows because that section was mostly unsold. I was still too far away to see any faces, so some emotional, dramatic moments were hard to read and felt like they went on too long. I particularly thought that there was going to be an act break during the scene where Christopher's dad finds him after he discovers the truth about his mother, but the intermission came long after that. Also I found the ending ambiguous when Christopher keeps asking his teacher if he can do anything, and she just glances at the audience and won't answer him.

The production had a lot of jarring light/sound effects to create Christopher's sensory overload, but after a while the special effects felt gimmicky and too long. It also became unclear what was happening in the real world while he was stuck in his internal frenzy. The scenes in London did remind me a bit of my trip to London, from Paddington train station to all the tube stops. It was nice to hear all the British accents, and several moments were funny. An interesting story, though I'm not sure I liked the way it was told.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Coping

I didn't realize that Black-ish was going to do an election episode last night. Though they talked about it being a New Year, I'm sure it was written and filmed weeks ago. I was surprised that they made Stevens anti-Trump, but they explained it as him being a Mitt-Romney supporting Republican. His spoiled son "Pumpkin" was pro-Trump though, and I was disappointed that they brought back the Lucy character to be a Trump voter too, making the argument that she just didn't like THIS particular woman. (I hate that. It's not like we were asking her to vote for Sarah Palin or Anne Coulter. I hate progressives who kept smearing Clinton as a Republican and as a liar who "you don't even know what she's thinking".) Even if that's how you think of Hillary, why wouldn't you want a normal Republican vs an unstable loon like Trump? A puppet of Putin? Oh, but whiny cynics were tired of "the lesser of two evils" and wanted to trust fucking Wikileaks...

Black-ish tried to end on a "let's all get along" moment of not viewing the other side as crazies. I mean, it's fine to ask for politeness and decency in conversation, but it takes two to get along. I know there are Trump voters in my office but I don't want to talk politics with them. And when will enough be enough about Trump's daily outrages against laws and reality? Still can't stand that they're trying to rush through confirmation hearings now, without vetting or anything, when they stalled on even holding hearings on Merrick Garland. I feel as powerless as a Texas Democrat always does, and hearing political news is depressing and draining. That may be why inspirational films like Hidden Figures, Lion, and The Eagle Huntress are so necessary to me lately.

Though I did enjoy last night's Speechless episode satirizing "inspiration porn" and "the magical negro". Really love that show and The Good Place. The Black-ish episode was preachy at times, and reminded me of Norman Lear, but overall I liked it. I doubt if there will be any healing, though.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Hidden Figures

I finally got to see Hidden Figures today, and it was outstanding. The theatre was so crowded that I got a seat way too close and had to crane my neck, so I may try to see it again another time. Taraji was wonderful, and I liked the other women's stories too. Very inspiring and hopeful, especially when you began to see all races of Americans united in wanting the space program to succeed. These women were their own small piece of the larger civil rights movement. I hope everyone sees it now that it's released wide.

I also recently watched Lion, about the lost Indian boy who found his birth family after 25 years. Good film too, and based on Saroo Brierly's life. Glad he's been able to have both families in his life.

I keep seeing trailers for those evangelical Christian movies, and they're so annoying. I want to roll my eyes and tell them "Nobody's oppressing you! When's the last time you saw a Buddhist or Muslim movie get this much attention or pandering? Even your Jewish movies aren't so defensive." Sheesh.