Now You See Me

Thursday, July 25th, 2013 11:06 pm
kate_nepveu: sleeping cat carved in brown wood (Default)
And now, I continue my pop-culture brain dump with a movie that hardly anyone I know saw (though it did unexpectedly well at the box office) and that isn't in theaters any more, because I believe in putting these things on the record: Now You See Me, the magic-show-as-heist flick with Mark Ruffalo, Michael Caine, and Morgan Freeman.

It opens with four individuals being observed by a mysterious figure in a hoodie (not a mysterious hooded figure; that's Welcome to Night Vale, which is next in my queue, I think). One is Woody Harrelson, using hypnosis to be a blackmailing asshole. One is the guy from The Social Network (Jesse Eisenberg), doing large-scale card tricks and being kind of a dick. One is a woman (Isla Fisher) doing a straight-up escape trick and being fierce. And one is some young guy (Dave Franco) picking pockets. They're all brought together for some mysterious plan . . . and then a year later, are running a magic show in Las Vegas with Michael Caine as their backer. Mark Ruffalo is the FBI agent assigned to investigate the aftermath of the show; Morgan Freeman is a professional debunker of magic tricks.

The thing about caper movies is that they need two things. On the mechanics side, they need both a satisfyingly non-obvious trick and a satisfyingly fair reveal. And on the story side, they need a reasonably just, by the standards of the genre, conclusion.

Now You See Me does well with the first at the beginning, but gets pretty wobbly in this regard thereafter. (I should never think "that's stupid" during an explanation; ideally I should never think it, but at least have it wait until the next day or even just the drive home.) As for the second . . .


Because this was back at the start of June, my partial notes on the trailers are all outdated except one, which is:

The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones: there is no justice in the world.
kate_nepveu: sleeping cat carved in brown wood (Default)
For those of you Trek fans looking for a bitter cathartic laugh: Star Trek Into Darkness: The Spoiler FAQ from io9.

two silly videos

Saturday, March 23rd, 2013 09:48 pm
kate_nepveu: Wakko with hands on hips and tongue hanging out to one side (Animaniacs (yup! silly!))

Three seasons' worth of alternate endings to the Animaniacs theme song:

embedded video )

Lion King bloopers, animated:

embedded video )

(This may just be nostalgia talking, but the Disney animated movies of my formative years—The Lion King, Aladdin, The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast—seem to have way better songs than my sole recent example, Tangled, of which I can hum exactly one line of one ("Mother Knows Best") right now, after having been in the same room with it twice. No, wait, Winnie the Pooh is also a Disney flick and is extremely earworm-inducing, but it's not trying to be the same thing.)

kate_nepveu: sleeping cat carved in brown wood (Default)

In the movie version of Chicago, the bandleader introduces "When You're Good to Mama" thusly: "And now, ladies and gentlemen—the Keeper of the Keys, the Countess of the Clink, the Mistress of Murderers' Row: Matron Mama Morton!"

Which almost scans to "The Watcher of the Seals. The Flame of Tar Valon. The Amyrlin Seat. Egwene al'Vere!"

I will leave the resulting filk to someone else, and let you all admire Queen Latifah's everything:

kate_nepveu: sleeping cat carved in brown wood (Default)

And so perhaps if I say it, it will stop bothering me.

I say "irrationally" here only because I have not seen Skyfall and do not intend to, so have not witnessed the things that are making me angry about it.

SPOILERS for Skyfall )

kate_nepveu: sleeping cat carved in brown wood (Default)

Went to see Cloud Atlas tonight, so I type in-between eating pita chips because it is a long fucking movie and having the babysitter not put the kids to bed meant skipping dinner.

Umm. It was a movie? It's kind of hard to say, because it is really just full of ALL THE THINGS. I'm pretty sure I'm glad I saw it, but it's a little stunning in both senses of the word.

So this is a movie adapted (apparently fairly loosely in substance as well as form) from a well-known book that I have not read, which takes six stories from the mid-nineteenth century to a post-apocalyptic far future and shuffles them together thematically and with the same actors playing multiple parts.

The intercutting actually worked surprisingly well for me; I didn't have any trouble following where we were or what was going on, and I liked the way things began overlapping very closely toward the end. I was mostly tracking the progress of the movie by the first-closest future timeline, which has the most-obviously-an-endpoint that we are introduced to early, so somewhere in the middle-ish I did find myself wondering how close we were getting to that end. (I mentioned that it's a very long movie?)

Less successful was the multiple actors, for two reasons. One, for a $100 million movie (ha, ha, I remembered that it was largely independently-financed and dropped a zero in talking to Chad, which was absolutely ridiculous of me), sometimes the makeup was just awfully obvious as makeup. Maybe I was spoiled by tiny!Steve Rogers in Captain America, which was all digital? Maybe I've just spent too much time thinking about makeup from watching that silly reality show Face Off? (About which finale all I really have to say is that I hate that they moved the winner to a popular vote.) I don't know, but it distracted me.

Second, the first future plotline is set in Korea and there are only two actual Asian people in the main cast. And I found the modifications to the other actors' eyelids to try and make them look Asian not just awkward to look at from a "that's not a real face" point of view, but viscerally disturbing and upsetting. I actually think the filmmakers' reasons for this do not suck, for a change, but it really bothered me all the same. So, not that you all need my approval to chose not to see a movie that does this, but you should be aware that this is one of the things that the movie is full of. (There are at least two instances where non-white actors play white characters; I cannot think off the top of my head of any other instances where white actors play non-white characters. This is probably because the rest of the storylines are set in majority-white populations.)

What else? There were definitely times when I wanted to say, "Yes, I get it" at the screen when someone was talking about choices recurring and reverberating and interconnectedness and so forth, sometimes simultaneous with feeling warm-and-fuzzy about it. I feel like I want to make a really big chart to track and analyze it all and also like I just want to leave it as a thing. Hugo Weaving chews scenery like he's a teething baby. The guy who was adorable as Tom Pullings in Master and Commander is also adorable in the composer segment, though it gets stolen out from under him by the other young guy, the actual composer. (Oh fine: James D'Arcy (tell me that's a stage name, because, seriously?) and Ben Whishaw (who is apparently going to be the new Q), respectively.) Lots of lows, some highs. Some suspense, though on reflection in only about half the plotlines; two proceeded basically as I thought and I was fine with that, one I didn't care terribly about, one I really didn't know what would happen, and two I was pretty sure I knew and wished I was wrong.

Basically this is a movie that believes very strongly in going big or going home. If that sounds appealing and you can get past the yellowface, go see it while it's in theaters.

Oh, right, trailers:

  • The Hobbit: weirdly on looking it up, it appears we got the first trailer, which explains why it said "next December" on it! I still do not have high hopes for this, but man, I have such a Pavlovian response to the instrumental Ring theme.
  • Les Misérables: I am pretty sure I do not want to see this but it was surprisingly good as a trailer anyway.
  • Anna Karenina: there has never been a trailer I was more surprised to see "Screenplay by Tom Stoppard" at the end of.
  • The Impossible: oh look, it's a movie about the 2004 South Asian tsunami that is all about a white family! *stabbity stab stab*
  • Gangster Squad: might as well have had "glorifying the (once lawful but now out of necessity really!) lawless elite" written all over it. What-fucking-ever.

30 days of gratitude:

past days, for my own reference )

  1. Babysitters. =>

pop culture miscellany

Thursday, July 12th, 2012 01:01 am
kate_nepveu: sleeping cat carved in brown wood (Default)

This baby is refusing to be put down and I am very tired, so while I wait for a reasonable next-feeding time, some pop culture miscellany.

The AV Club had an interview with Mark Waid about various comics projects of his, which reminded me "oh yeah, he and John Rogers (Leverage) were working on this digital comics thing, I should take a look."

So far it has two titles up, an apparent one-shot about zombie roadkill which is not something I want to look at, and a serial called Insufferable which has the tagline, What happens when you’re a crimefighter and your sidekick grows up to be an arrogant, ungrateful douchebag? What on Earth could draw the two of you back together again?

Well, okay, I'll give that a try. The physical experience of reading is nice, but the story . . . in the first week, we learn that the crimefighter and sidekick are father and son. I'll give you three guesses whose death precipitates their final break from each other, and the first two don't count.

I don't remember what week of the comic that was—it was early, but our Internet is being grindingly slow right now so I can't check—but whichever it was, was when I closed the browser tab. Because, even if it's a soft launch, starting your "let's broaden readership!" project with another fridged woman does not impress.

(Speaking of which, the essay Natasha Walks Out of a Refrigerator may spoil the plot of Marjorie Liu's run on Black Widow, but it does so in a way that made me put the collection in my Amazon cart.)

Anyway. I was reminded of this by the first ten minutes of The Losers, which starts out as all banter-y action, silly but engaging and with an actual majority of non-white characters on the team, and then cut for brief description of violence that upset me )

At which point I carefully closed VLC and decided to write this, because seriously, fuck all of that sideways with a chainsaw.

Finally, in less egregious movie-dom, I half-watched The Incredible Hulk (the prior Marvel movie with the Hulk, the one with Edward Norton and Liv Tyler). I say "half" because I mostly skipped the smashing-things-up sequences and most of the General Ross stuff as boring.

spoilers, half-formed musings on disability and the Hulk )

I presume they're going to re-cast Betty Ross, since I just can't see Liv Tyler and Mark Ruffalo in the same movie (she looks a lot younger than him, just for one thing). Who do you all think they should cast as Betty?

kate_nepveu: sleeping cat carved in brown wood (Default)

Haywire: the weekend of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, I & the kids were staying with Chad's parents, and I escaped for a couple of hours to watch a movie. I was going to see Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, but then I saw [ profile] glvalentine's review of Haywire and decided to see it instead: partly because it was shorter and partly because it sounded really interesting.

I liked this less than Genevieve, for two reasons. One, I missed the first few minutes and spent most of the movie wondering if it provided some kind of context for the main character's goals and situation. I'm not sure why I felt vaguely aswim—maybe just sleep deprivation?—since in the end it was pretty simple: she was betrayed, she escaped, she finds out why, she makes them pay. I think I wasn't sure what she knew at any given time. (It is a Soderbergh movie, which means non-linear and lots of significant verbal omissions. One of which convinced me that a certain character was doing completely the opposite of what it turned out to be, which didn't help matters.) Two, I'm not that fond of the type of action movie this is. I love competence porn in capers or action movies, but I like either character development or a reveal to go with it (Ronin, The Bourne Identity, Ocean's Eleven). Haywire is instead in the "main character gets revenge and returns to status quo" mold, which I find unsatisfying. I didn't get a strong hook as the movie unfolded (character development), and I didn't have any reason to revisit my conclusions at the end (reveal). Instead I felt, as the credits came up, "That was it?", and was left with more abstract admiration than enjoyment.

So, if you like that kind of thing, you need to see this, and if you don't, it's worth background watching when it comes on basic cable in a few years.

The other two episodes in season two of Sherlock: "The Hounds of Baskerville" was very silly and not at all scary and entertained me in a way that almost entirely failed to engage my brain. Thus, I have nothing else to say about it.

"The Reichenbach Fall" was mostly terrific: I liked the updating of the conflict, and that Moriarty toned the swoopy down, and spoilers, minor and major )

Face Off: this is, of all things, an original reality show on the SyFy network, in which contestants design and execute special effects makeup. I saw some commercials for it and then found the whole season free on demand on my cable system one day when I was out of DVRed things to half-watch while dealing with the Pip. Anyway, I like seeing the different designs and all the craft involved, and generally find the judging clear, educational, and reasonable. Despite my best efforts, though, I find myself having opinions about the contestants as people, which I was trying to avoid because I know how manipulatively these shows can be cut to create interpersonal conflict. There's very little of that, however, so if you like how-to kinds of shows this is worth checking out.

White Collar: I dropped this show for a long time but the second half of this just-concluded season has also been maternity-leave TV fodder. Most of it was background noise, and I actually watched a couple episodes mostly on FF, but I thought the season finale was genuinely strong. (Well, except for the worst green-screening I have seen in quite some time.) And wow, Beau Bridges has a talent for playing characters who get on my last nerve (I watched SGA before SG-1 and so was introduced to General Landry in a much more confrontational posture).

kate_nepveu: sleeping cat carved in brown wood (Default)

I'm almost certainly not going to, as I have many hours of things I want to do while the house is quiet and I'm not responsible to anyone but the dog. But I could. So if there is anything I need to see while in theaters, let me know.

(I am half-tempted by the last Harry Potter movie, just because I suspect it would do better in theaters, and it's not like I don't know how the story goes, so having skipped the prior two shouldn't make much difference. Right? On the other hand, many things to do here and only half-tempted.)

kate_nepveu: sleeping cat carved in brown wood (Default)

For instance, its review of The Help begins thusly:

The civil-rights movement might have ended segregation and beat back centuries of slavery and oppression, but let’s save a slow clap for well-meaning white folks with the moral courage to put themselves at the center of the narrative.

Yes indeedy.

Inception (SPOILERS)

Thursday, August 5th, 2010 11:26 pm
kate_nepveu: sleeping cat carved in brown wood (Default)

So SteelyKid went off to visit her grandmother yesterday, and Chad and I took advantage by going to see Inception tonight.

I knew almost nothing about it before going to see it, having deliberately avoided all reviews and even trailers. I knew it was about dreams and manipulating them, that someone did a lot of wire-work (*waves at [ profile] glvalentine*), that it seemed to be well-received, and one other random thing that I will put behind a cut.

My thoughts without going and reading anyone else's:

I really enjoyed it. Look, it's a caper/action movie, with an ensemble, many of whom are nice to look at (this would be where my inner twelve-year-old draws sparkly hearts around Arthur), that was exciting and moved fast (mostly) and wasn't stupid and didn't have major fail that jumped out at me, and that only made me somewhat motion-sick starting about 2/3 of the way in. Of course I'm going to enjoy it (see also: Ronin, Ocean's Eleven).

Further thoughts behind the cut. Warning: I am tired (the first half of the week was very very long) and a little loopy from motion-sickness and though I worked some of this out in the car on the way home, there's still going to be some talking-out-loud quality to this.

movie-destroying SPOILERS for Inception )

Right, now I'm off to read other people's thoughts. I know Genevieve, Leigh, and Abigail had posts, who else? Gimme links.

Cold light of day ETA: yeah, the problematic bits look worse now, but they didn't intrude much during the movie and on the whole I still enjoyed it a lot.

kate_nepveu: sleeping cat carved in brown wood (Default)

Nerds of the Earth, take note!: a Leverage/Iron Man-movieverse crossover fic (set after Iron Man 2), by [personal profile] brownbetty and [ profile] emeraldwoman. General audiences, 7890 words, Hardison-POV: SHIELD needs a hacker. Funny and insightful.

kate_nepveu: sleeping cat carved in brown wood (Default)

Dear M. Night Shyamalan,

Did you actually say, "The features of the characters [in the animated series] are an intentional mix of all features. It's intended to be ambiguous."

Intended to be ambiguous? Are we even looking at the same show (warning: extremely image-heavy)?!

No love,


kate_nepveu: sleeping cat carved in brown wood (Default)

In one short links dump:

[*] The "what these blue people need is a honky" one, not the live-action version of the cartoon (which is actually titled The Last Airbender). I already said (probably) all I have to say about that.

kate_nepveu: sleeping cat carved in brown wood (Default)

From Kate Griffin's A Madness of Angels, Or, The Resurrection of Matthew Swift:

The plot was something about a genius arms dealer who discovered redemption, cardiac conditions and an interesting and potentially lethal use for spare missile components in a cave.

(I'm halfway through the book and really enjoying it, by the way. More later.)

kate_nepveu: sleeping cat carved in brown wood (Default)

So if you haven't heard about the whitewashing of the live-action movie of Avatar: The Last Airbender, well, I have two images and one video:

The images (from, where they used to be on the front page, now no longer hotlinked):

characters in original

characters in movie

and an embedded video )

For more, see [ profile] racebending or

Duplicity (movie)

Tuesday, March 24th, 2009 09:00 am
kate_nepveu: sleeping cat carved in brown wood (Default)

Sunday, SteelyKid's paternal grandparents came up to see her, Chad was watching college hoop, and I took the opportunity to go out! By myself! And see a movie!

Even better, if someone sat down and said, "Let's make a fluffy non-guilty-pleasure movie that will make Kate happy," Duplicity would be it.

Ray (Clive Owen) picks up Claire (Julia Roberts) at an embassy party; or, rather, she lets him seduce her, and then she drugs him, searches his hotel room, and walks off with some secret documents.

Five years later, Claire has left the CIA and is working undercover at one corporation's bitterest rival. Ray, also no longer with MI6, has been hired as her handler. And the head of the rival corporation has just announced that a top-secret product is about to launch. Capers, banter, and a non-head-desky romance ensue.

It's as though Julia Roberts said, "I'm going to show Steven Soderbergh what he missed by not letting me do any of the really fun stuff in the Ocean's Eleven movies, and in as unattractive a character design as possible while he was at it." The movie's opening is a deliberate and pointed statement that her character is Ray's equal, or possibly even superior, when it comes to their shared profession. And the obstacles to their relationship are mutual, sensible, and parallel. (I could probably draw up a really pretty chart of the movie's structure, parallels, and inversions, if I had a DVD and a lot of time.)

At the first reveal, I sat back and said, "Okay, you just got a whole lot of goodwill from me." And I was having so much fun that I forgot that I'd I spotted the final reveal as soon as it was set up, until it came back around again. It's fluff, anchored by the central relationship and just a dash of satire, but it's very satisfying fluff, and it was exactly what I needed after a pretty sucky last while.

Previews: in The Soloist, Robert Downey Jr. is the honky that Jamie Foxx needs fully realize his Magical Negro-ness. And yes, I know it's a true story, but wow that trailer just shrieks both of those cliches at top volume. The Taking of Pelham 123 could be an interesting hostage thriller, and maybe the original novel or one of the prior movie adaptations was, but I don't have a lot of faith in Ridley Scott. Ben Affleck appears to be making a career comeback with State of Play, a political thriller starring Russell Crowe, which is nice for him. And X-Men Origins: Wolverine continues to look very crowded.

kate_nepveu: sleeping cat carved in brown wood (Default)

You all will probably be shocked to hear that . . . I thought this was very good.

My reaction may have been helped by my having ramped my expectations down. I inferred from reviews (and confirmed from someone who'd seen it) that I could expect two plot elements, one of which is not to my taste and the other of which I really doubted could be done well. But the first was handled relatively non-sporkily, even if I still would have preferred something else, and the second worked much better than I expected. And I'll give a movie a lot of leeway for head-on engaging with hard questions that Iron Man, for instance, just shrugs aside.

(Speaking of which, I highly recommend The Kids Aren’t All Right: Politics & Power:, which is fanfic set a year after the end of the movie and done as a pitch-perfect article by Christine Everhart, complete with glossy magazine page mockups. If the movie had been half that smart and complex, I wouldn't have been so bored with it.)

Back to The Dark Knight—so, plot better than I expected, and also, really quite an intense experience. Even at two and a half hours—at one apparent-lull I got up to go to the bathroom, looked at my watch, and said to myself, "I can't believe we still have another hour to go." But when I got back things had jumped into high gear and I don't think I looked at my watch again.

Anyway: Heath Ledger's Joker is indeed astonishing (and, good grief, people, not something to subject your five year old to! There were points at which I thought the movie was almost too dark for almost-thirty-one-year-olds!). The low-key supporting players (Michael Caine, Gary Oldman, and Morgan Freeman) were delights. Christian Bale was unobjectionable, which is all that I ask in a Batman, considering, as were Aaron Eckhart and Maggie Gyllenhaal. The action sequences were exciting and visually impressive without killing the entire movie under their weight, and while occasionally they did rely on action-movie lack-of-logic, I was willing to roll with it.

In short: good stuff. And since I suspect this is the end of our new-release summer movie viewing, yay, ending on a satisfying note.

Spoilers: )

(Oh, and it stands alone just fine. There's one little bit in the beginning that doesn't make sense if you haven't seen Batman Begins, the drug dealer in the odd mask, but it really doesn't matter.)

(Additional note: there is a series of special effects late in the movie that I found motion-sick-inducing, but if you're prone to that, you'll spot them almost immediately, and you won't miss anything by squinting through them.)

kate_nepveu: sleeping cat carved in brown wood (Default)

Back from seeing Hellboy II: The Golden Army, which we'd been really looking forward to.

Non-spoiler version: visually stunning (Guillermo del Toro is apparently to direct The Hobbit, and I can't wait to see his version of Middle-Earth); plot somewhat more coherent than the first one; emotion pitched a little obvious at points; and is it really too much to ask to have a summer movie without subtext—or text, actually—that makes me want to tear my hair out?

Spoiler version: )

You know, at this point I'm not sure whether to pin all my hopes on The Dark Knight or dial my expectations way down, when it comes to story rather than spectacle. (Still haven't found time to watch Batman Begins.)

kate_nepveu: sleeping cat carved in brown wood (Default)

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang is a neo-noir/dark comedy/buddy movie that apparently sank without a trace in 2005. It stars Robert Downey Jr., Val Kilmer, and Michelle Monaghan.

Harry (Downey Jr.) is a small-time thief who blunders into a movie audition while running from the cops. Whisked out to L.A., he is told to take detective lessons from "Gay Perry" (Kilmer; I do wish the two main male characters did not both have —rry names). Perry's the only sensible character in the entire movie, and so he's understandably upset when Harry panics and makes it impossible for them to go to the police about the dead body they just saw get dumped in a lake:

"Look up idiot in the dictionary, you know what you'll find?"

"A picture of me?"

"No! The definition of the word idiot, which you fucking are!"

Besides being an idiot, Harry is also our narrator and provides one level of meta by breaking the fourth wall several times (mostly at the beginning and end). A series of pulp novels provides another level of meta: he and a childhood friend, Harmony (Monaghan), read a bunch of them at a formative age. So when Harmony's sister appears to have killed herself, Harmony thinks it was (1) murder and (2) the seemingly-normal plot strand that will eventually intersect with the weird plot strand of the girl in the lake, just as always happens in the books. She begs Harry for help, and because Harry wants to get in her pants, he lets her think he's an actual private detective who'll take the case.

(Yes, they're supposed to be the same age, even though Downey Jr. is eleven years older than Monaghan and looks more like fifteen. This was tough on my suspension of disbelief and perception of Harmony's character. Also, either Downey Jr. gained a lot of shoulder muscle for Iron Man or his clothes were cut very much differently there, because I kept being distracted by how big his head was in relation to his shoulders.)

The plot may or may not end up making sense; I was tired and distracted by some other aspects of the movie. I'd be surprised if anyone watches this for the plot, though. As this A.V. Club review with clips says, it's a movie to watch for the dialogue, the meta riffing, and the fun the actors are having. There are a few cliches that I wish it had avoided altogether, instead of winking and nodding at them, and one of the underlying assumptions makes me mildly twitchy, but if you like your comedy dark and your noir self-conscious, and you miss the buddy movie, you should probably give this a try.

I'm going to ROT-13 the spoilers because so few people will have seen this movie (and then cut them just for tidyness).

ROT-13'ed spoilers )

August 2017

678 9 101112
13141516 171819

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags