Megamind

Nov. 18th, 2010 08:02 pm
So after deciding today that I needed to go see more movies, I up and went to the mall late this afternoon to see Megamind, it being the only movie that both sounded interesting and didn't have completely atrocious reviews. It reminded me a bit of Planet 51--irreverent, not always quite as clever as it thought it was, a bit predictable, but overall enjoyable. It's a bit late to be putting out a revisionist superhero movie now, though, and I think the backlash against this film (and my initial reluctance to see it) came from that as much as anything. There's also Despicable Me out this very same year with another super villain as its lead, which certainly doesn't help the case. I haven't seen Despicable Me myself, but my brother tells me it was a disappointment, which we both called the moment the expanded trailers came out and revealed that the movie had a Mr. Mom subplot (or just plain plot?) going on. Talk about predictable! All I can really say, though, is that Ben felt there were large, incomplete, and incompatible chunks of two or three movies there that had been mashed together, and I don't feel particularly inclined to rush out and get the DVD to double check that.

So at least Megamind has going for it that it's relatively coherent. I felt engaged with it from start to finish, the animation was really nice (though there were one or two character designs I didn't particularly care for), and it was funny. Familiar and predictable is not always bad. There's a reason tropes become tropes: they work. I wanted a movie to have a little fun with, and it delivered. Not one for the ages, but definitely one for the matinee.

Previews are looking...well, some of them are looking good. I had to cringe my way through the Yogi Bear one for the second time (I watched it online out of morbid curiosity a few weeks ago), but Tangled is looking fun (if a bit generic in animation--please, Disney, do not copy Dreamworks's style!), and I'm sort of on the fence about Gulliver's Travels. It's looking like they abridged it to just the part about his adventures in Lilliput, but that might not be a deal breaker.

Looks like Harry Potter's out tomorrow, but I really didn't feel like hanging around for a midnight showing all by myself (plus it's totally showing at the IMAX theater closer to my apartment). I'll have to try to figure out when I can go when I'm not too likely to run into a bunch of little kids whose parents didn't catch on that Harry Potter gets darker as it goes.

127 Hours

Nov. 3rd, 2010 12:05 am
I keep forgetting to write up my thoughts about this, but I'd like to say a little something about what I saw at the Austin Film Festival last week and the week before. I bought a basic pass for $42, and feel very much that I got my money's worth after the seven or eight programs I attended. I saw two very lovely documentaries (Make Believe and Waste Land), a mediocre Irish comedy (Zonad), more short films than you can shake a stick at (some good, some bad, some animated, some live action), and one movie already slated for wide release (127 Hours, based on the real life story of Aron Ralston). This week, in fact; it opens on Friday here in America.

Surprisingly, it's the last film that has stuck in my mind the most. I try to be a cynic about "based on a true story" movies since you have to take it all with a grain of salt and as soon as you spot the differences between the film and the real story it quickly starts seeming cheap (Newsies is adorable, but was there any actual reason for Kid Blink being turned into a secondary character?), and I try to be a cynic about movies that make me cry, precisely because I recognize that I cry at movies very, very easily, but I have to say that 127 Hours is truly excellent. It turns out James Franco is very much capable of carrying a movie that consists mostly of him standing in a dark hole and talking to himself, and that Danny Boyle is very much capable of turning "man falls down a hole, gets his hand trapped under a rock for five days" into something in which it is very easy to get (and remain!) emotionally invested.

I don't think discussion of the ending really counts as a spoiler since it was in the news seven years ago, but here's a courtesy cut anyway )

I don't want to give the impression that this one sequence dominates the whole movie. It's a very introspective film, peppered with flashbacks and hallucination/dream sequences in between Aron's internal and external monologues (he has a camcorder, which he uses to record final messages to his family). It's also, as I mentioned above, surprisingly funny--Aron is a very charismatic, playful character, and at points he uses humor to keep himself alive and fighting.

Just...here. Watch the trailer. It's making me want to go see it again, regardless of what an intense, exhausting experience it was the first time.



I was also going to rant about the movie rating system, but I got all distracted and wound up by this trailer, and I need to try to get back to my homework. Another time, maybe.

ETA: Found this, and it sounds like the real Aron Ralston is quite happy with the movie, and that Boyle's intentions in doing things the way he did in the film were a.) true to Ralston's book about it and b.) exactly what I thought they were. Those last attempts at cynicism on my part are just melting away.
OH HEY. In case you haven't heard, Wednesday is a day of remembrance for six boys who have recently come to national attention after they committed suicide in response to homophobic abuse. Dustin Lance Black (writer of Milk and Big Love) was here giving a lecture last week, and he pointed out that what we're seeing is not a rise in the suicide rate among young homosexuals, but a rise in media attention to the problem. Regardless, I think this is a good opportunity to show solidarity, and if you spend any time reading the comments on the page I've linked here (my advice: DON'T), you'll be treated to plenty of proof that we as a society still have a long, long way to go. I couldn't find anything purple in my closet, so I quickly knitted a purple wrist cuff the other night, and I'm all ready to go on Wednesday.

oh, hi

Oct. 11th, 2010 05:33 pm
Apparently it's National Coming Out Day!

I'm already out to all you all, right? I mean, it's in my profile.

Great timing for that wank earlier this week, btw. :|
MY ETSY SHOP, LET ME SHOW YOU IT

Only three mice currently listed, but I'm working on more stoofs.
Warning: contains spoilers for both the movie and the TV show

Went and saw The Last Airbender with Ben tonight.

It is the most amazingly bad film I have seen in a long, long time. I say that as an avid fan of the television series, which actually dealt pretty maturely with its themes of war and loss and heroism and all that jazz while still delivering a show that was fairly lighthearted and highly enjoyable. It had well-fleshed-out characters, a world built out of amalgams of things from our world (like the animals, which were mostly things like platypus bears and turtle ducks, and like the characters themselves--the Water Tribe, for instance, consists of black people with blue eyes who live more or less like Inuits), and more cool uses of elemental "bending" than you can shake a stick at. Fire benders? Let's kick it up another notch and have some lightning up in here. Water benders? Okay, let's take that a step further and have them learn blood bending and deal with the moral ramifications of that. It was a really cool show.

The movie on the other hand, is about as bland as bland can be. All the main characters are white except for Zuko, who, like the rest of the Fire Nation, is randomly Indian now. Oh, but everyone in the Water Tribe other than Katara and Sokka are Inuits. They're just the two random white offspring of a whole tribe of Native Americans. Oh, and Zuko's massive facial scar? He's got a couple little scratches now. Can't mar the pretty, after all. Don't forget, either, that the Fire Nation is suddenly a desert when it was actually a rather nice, vaguely Japanese place in the cartoon.

But that's just the look of the thing, you say. What about the characters? What about the plot?

What characters? What plot? Iroh's now a generically wise old martial arts master, Zuko's a whiny little bitch...okay, so first season Zuko was like that, but that's no excuse for making him so damned boring. Katara and Sokka have been drained of all life, Aang sort of halfheartedly goes through the motions of being in mourning for his entire race, Ozai is just some guy who shows no sign whatsoever of being impressive or intimidating, and Zhao wanders around telling everyone about how he's found some scrolls in the library that reveal the secret location of the ocean and moon spirits. Seriously, he's constantly saying that. He seems to feel that every single person he encounters goddamn needs to know that he found some scrolls in the library that reveal the secret location of the ocean and moon spirits. And yeah, he dun found those spirits in the show, but in the show I didn't end up laughing my ass off when he finally went ahead and shanked the moon spirit. It was a sad moment. Now it's just some guy blathering on about scrolls from the library and stabbing a fish in a sack.

Also, the line "Zhao has no sacredness" will never ever not be funny to me. CLEARLY HE DOES NOT. THANK YOU FOR THE CLARIFICATION THAR.

Or "We need to prove to them that we believe in our beliefs as much as they believe in their beliefs." Whaat. Yue, you are on crack.

Speaking of Yue, we only know that Sokka's supposed to be in love with her because Katara tells us so in a voiceover. Yup. Look, M. Night Shyamamamalan, I know you're crunched for time, but one stilted onscreen conversation about how her hair turned white as a baby and how Sokka hates sand--wait, that's Star Wars does not a compelling romance make. Oh, and Sokka's other love interest is not included in the film at all. The Kyoshi Warriors apparently don't exist in this version, so no Suki for Sokka. Tho thad.

Okay, I'll lay off...after I complain about one last thing. Why, oh why would you ever do something so stupid as to take a well-known show and, in the process of adapting it for the big screen, go ahead and change the pronunciation of half the characters' names? Did Shymamalamb never even watch an episode of the show? That would certainly explain a few other things.
Finally went through my messages on deviantart tonight, and uploaded a few pictures to show that I really am still drawing. All of these are from my animation project.

Background 1
Background 2
Background 3

Aaand

Still frame with Dido
A still frame with both Dido and the flock of geese

Phew!

4/20

Apr. 20th, 2010 03:34 pm
So it's no secret that I hate 4/20. Ten thousand people are flooding the campus today for the sole purpose of smoking some weed on Norlin Quad. They call it a protest, but no one gives any speeches, no one carries any signs, and no arguments are made for the legalization of marijuana. If anything, the event itself is an argument for why marijuana should continue to be a controlled substance, as apparently those who smoke it are inconsiderate, self-entitled, rowdy morons not capable of using a recreational drug in a responsible manner.

So about half of campus reeks from the massive cloud of smoke hanging over the quad. They'll be leaving their trash all over the quad, too, rendering it unusable for the rest of us until someone goes out there and cleans it up. And gee, who pays for that? Is it the out-of-towners who come in and encourage this nonsense? Of course not. It comes out of the tuition of all the students at this school, regardless of whether we participate in this asshattery.

Word was it was going to rain today, but it cleared up now that we're nearing 4:20 PM, when the event gets going at its strongest. Too bad. I wish the police would hand out more citations for this crap, but I think they're afraid of starting a riot. As it is they're just keeping an eye on things and ticketing anyone they catch with a joint outside of the main clump on the quad.
I'M BALD!!!

Pictures and details to follow. Right now I mostly feel itchy from all the little loose hairs down the back of my neck.
I'M-A SHAVE MY HEAD.

Yep! Going to be bald as of this coming Thursday! Or, well, with half an inch of hair across my entire head, but that is close to the same thing! I'd been debating with myself about whether or not I'd do it, but now I've decided to go for it.

It's for an event put on by the St. Baldrick's Foundation for children's cancer research. I've put a little money down on it, but to make this thing really worthwhile, I'm going to need help raising funds through my participant page. You can find said page right here, and donations are accepted both online and (I think) by mail.
So I just watched Sita Sings the Blues for my animation class--it was made using roughly the same software that's available to us at the university (she used Flash, but we're using ToonBoom), so our instructor wanted us to see what can be done with consumer-grade equipment. It's very impressive in that regard, and it's an awesome movie to boot. It's free to download in its entirety if you visit the filmmaker's website, so check it out.

And I'm really thinking I'm going to have to pony up and buy the software we're using in class (i.e. ToonBoom Studio and After Effects) so I can keep working on the computer after I graduate. I think I've said it before, but homemade animation is really the kind of filmmaking I'm most interested in pursuing--you can do anything you want, and you can do it at your own desk.

But for now, I need to get up and get moving so I can get to campus in time to reserve lab time before going to see Spartacus. So that's me stuck on campus for ages tonight with that three-hour screening and then trying to at least start the project I have for animation. Or I might be naughty and just not start the project before class tomorrow like we're supposed to. I do at least know what I'm doing and have the materials I'll need. That might be preferable, since tonight I really have to come home and get something typed up to talk to my thesis advisor about tomorrow afternoon.


This is me playing around with the tablet and learning the basics of ToonBoom. Took maybe about two hours, and I found out afterwards that there were easier ways of doing some of the things I did here. LIVE AND LEARN.
I went home for the weekend for a belated Christmas with my immediate family as well as my aunt and (much) younger cousin. We did the whole thing with a vegetable tray and the spicy shrimp and all, and ended up watching the copy I got of WALL-E in order to keep our cousin entertained. The whole family ended up watching, even Dad, who never likes sitting through movies without having two or three to switch between, because WALL-E is just that good. I planned to come back to my apartment on Sunday, but it's now Monday afternoon and I just got in, so there you go. That's mostly because I ended up spending Saturday night at my brother's apartment, where it was cold and the bed was uncomfortable and *insert more complaining.* We played some games, though, including one of the Nancy Drew PC games I got last summer (turns out that even with an emulator they don't run for crap on my Mac, so I'll have to play them at his apartment). We also went and saw Avatar, which he wasn't into and about which I was ambivalent.

On the one hand, yes it is completely gorgeous, even close to visually perfect. And yes, the action sequences were a lot of fun. And yes, I felt that the story flowed smoothly, though there was a point at around the two hour mark when I began thinking that we'd been watching it for an awfully long time. I didn't have a problem with the blue kitty people's FireWire connection to nature like I thought I would (I mean come on, they plug themselves into animals--literally plug themselves into animals wtf how does that benefit the animals no ecosystem would ever be like that raaar), because it became clear pretty early on to me that this was not at all an exercise in building a realistic world; but rather a way of making a fairly simple morality play (very) interesting visually.

But that's part of my problem with the film, in the end--the symbolism gets taken so far and built up so much that whatever message the film has ceases to be applicable to the real world. Oprah said (yeah yeah, Mom watches it and I happened to be in the room, okay?) that it was about how we're all connected to nature--but it's not. The humans in the world aren't connected at all to anything. Only the blue kitty people get that privilege, and in their case it is absolutely literal. So what, then, the message is don't be human? That doesn't work for me. And of course my other problem with it is that the morality of the story is far, far too simple and black and white. Industrialists and military types bad, blue, tree-hugging natives good. Never mind that the Na'vi are racist to the point where they won't even converse with a human unless that human is speaking through an avatar body that looks like a nice, familiar blue kitty--nope, they're the good guys, and there's absolutely nothing about them that should be taken negatively. And, of course, there wasn't much effort made to steer clear of certain tired action cliches, and there was more than one plot hole to niggle at me (like how did Trudy not get jailed for dereliction of duty, thereby preventing her from aiding the heroes later on?). In the end...yeah, I think the writing was pretty lazy.

I hope I'm not giving the impression that I hated the film, because I really didn't. I might even see about going again while it's still in theaters, since I'm pretty sure my TV won't do it justice when it comes out on DVD. I just wish that it had been a more complicated movie, especially when it was so long--they had three hours of movie to play around with, and still didn't manage to flesh out the so-called villains even to the point where they consistently behaved in a realistic fashion, much less to show their point of view or where this conflict was really coming from beyond providing us with a caricature of extreme capitalism. I've seen the issues surrounding the meeting of two alien species and the subsequent attempt to 'Westernize' (or Terranize?) the other race handled more intelligently in a series of parodies starring teddy bear people. Seriously, James Cameron--if you really do make that sequel, you'd better step up your game story-wise.

doodles!

Jan. 14th, 2010 07:52 pm
I have a ton of doodles from work over the last five months to upload, but as for right now I've just put up what I drew today in my planner. I may have to go back to bringing a sketchpad to class, but that's a bit more conspicuous. I listen in class, I really do, but it's this or fidget madly.

Today's creature was the humble dodo. Or, well, it was, until I turned it into a sort of dodo-bobcat griffin.
I should have mentioned this sooner, but it's not too late to get in on it! I'm currently catching up on the last three days, myself.

Jen and John over at Cake Wrecks are running a charity countdown for Christmas. If you haven't heard of them before, go over there and check out the latest posts to get an idea. Today is Sunday Sweets, so the current post is one with pictures of good-looking cakes, but on every other day of the week it's all about professionally made cakes that are mind-bogglingly bad.

Anyway, the explanation is in this post. Rather than buying all the Christmasy odds and ends this year, Jen and John are giving $200/day to charity for the two weeks leading up to Christmas. The $200 goes to a different charity each day, and all they ask of their readers is that each of us gives $1 to each charity they list. They've already raised thousands of dollars for each of the charities listed, but have not yet met their $10K goal for any of them (though Love146 is getting close). All of the charities are listed in order of their appearance in the countdown this page, too, if you don't want to go wading through the last week and a bit of posts to find them.

Just thought I'd share.
If you saw the Rifftrax holiday shorts program, you know what that's about. Or if you've seen Christmas Rhapsody elsewhere. It's basically the autobiography of a tree with an inferiority complex.
Which is why I'm on here posting crack. I've had the first chapter of this typed up for literally over a year, as Platy can attest, but never got around to tweaking it and putting it up. There will be more, but I can't say how soon that'll be, since the rest of it isn't quite so ready to go. I just felt like actually putting out some writing for once, and maybe having it out there and in progress on a few sites will help me get my butt in gear when it comes to writing in general.

Title: The Care and Keeping of Your Timelord
Summary: Set after the events of The Sound of Drums and Last of the Time Lords. The Doctor finds a somewhat...unconventional...way to "keep" the Master onboard his TARDIS.
Warnings: Pure, unadulterated crack, and it's only going to get weirder as we go on.

Links: Here on Teaspoon and here on ff.net.
I was going to wait to see The Princess and the Frog until it had been out for a while and I could use one of my vouchers to get in for $6 instead of $8, but I gave in last night and went to Downtown Disney after work. I realized while on the guest bus that I could have just gotten on the CP bus like usual and gotten off at Pop Century to get the next bus from there (no direct service between the parks and DD), but I had a brain fart, so I didn't and I got there juuust in time to run in and grab a seat in time for the previews (that new Jackie Chan movie--and I'm sorry to say this, I do love Jackie Chan--looks completely and irredeemably awful; however, I'm actually starting to look forward to Toy Story 3). Today I was thinking about going to see Fantastic Mr. Fox, but I have a lot of work to do around the apartment, and it'd be kind of nice to just chill out today anyway. Maybe on Wednesday? I dunno. Sometime soon, anyway.

I was prepared not to like the movie, though I'd been getting more enthusiastic about it as time went on, but I really enjoyed it. It was funny, it was touching, and man, it was really, really pretty. And the music! The only song I didn't particularly like was the modern-style Oscar-bait they had over the credits--it was alright, but I would have rather had some more jazz. Ben has said that he will not go to a Disney princess movie by himself (oh the tribulations of being a manly man), but if it's still playing when I get back in January, he'll go to it with me. I'm already planning to see it again sometime before then, though I'm going to try to hold off for two weeks so I can use those aforementioned vouchers.

I definitely feel that this is a case of the classic fairytale sort of attitude being updated. I don't want to spoil it for you, but when I say that I don't mean because it's irreverent or even because it's been relocated to New Orleans in the roaring twenties. I mean it because Tiana doesn't sit around singing about how someday her prince will come; she goes out there and she works to make her dream (not actually a heterosexual coupling, though the movie does subscribe to the old Disney idea that heterosexual coupling solves all of life's problems) come true.
Dear Microsoft Word,

Please stop underlining any sentence you decide is written in "passive voice." Not every sentence has to be the literary equivalent of a pushy used car salesman.

No love,
Spoofie

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