Thursday, April 17, 2014

Movie Trailers: Gone Girl (2014) & If I Stay (2014)

Gone Girl, the super-dooper popular book full of twists and turns (and not much else) was always going to be made into a film, but I was pretty surprised when I heard David Fincher was signing on to direct. I thought it was maybe a little too, I dunno, hot-for-now for anyone of real calibre to take on. But now that the first trailer is out (being released hella early considering it's a small film being released in October) and...yay? I don't know, I wasn't a huge fan of the book (here's my review for anyone interested) but I think it could possibly work quite well as a film. At the very least it won't be full of Gillian Flynn's ridiculous flowery writing, soooo bonus! I do love me some Ben Affleck when he's in the right role, so I'll probably see this one in the theatre.

If I Stay seems like your standard Nicholas Sparks/Jodi Piccoult heartstrings tugger but almost every blogger I know has rated it a 4 or 5 star book so I'm thinking maybe the trailer just misses the mark? Or maybe it is exactly what it seems but it's done really well? Help me out guys, does the film look like it'll be as good as the book? Anyway, Chloe Grace Moretz (when did she start adding Grace into her name?) is always a solid actress and I have a soft spot for musicians in movies so I'll probably go see this with my little sister or wait for it to hit netflix and hold out until I'm in the mood for a good cry.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Kayleigh's Ranty Soapbox of Rants: The Internet and Absolutes

So I've been wanting to get some stuff off my chest and I finally decided to sit down and write a post about it. Like most of the times I do something like this, it'll probably be garbled and steam-of-consciousy but hopefully my tangled thoughts will at least approach the realm of sense making.

At any point there are usually hundreds of annoyances and niggles floating around my head. Like why does The Invention of Lying equate telling the truth with being an asshole? If you can only speak the truth why does that mean you'd walk up to a stranger in the street and tell them their ass looks huge in those pants. That movie was really dumb you guys. But while some are mini and insignificant like that, some are larger and end up becoming this great huge bezoar blocking me from moving past and concentrating on more important, and usually more rational, issues.

Right now the issue clouding my vision is the internets. Oh how I love it and I hate it. One of the best things about the internet is meeting people who get fired up by similar things. I have a lot of dude friends and while I'd say they're all feminists and would happily call themselves that, they're hardly the type to rant with me for hours about rape culture. They're much more likely to nod their heads and dart their eyes worryingly when I start to get caught up in one of my anger-spirals (I feel for them, truly, I can go for hours). So it's nice to come to the internet, especially if I've just witnessed/heard about something particularly demoralising, and see that I'm not alone, there are literally millions of people only a click away thinking just the way I do, getting angry like I do and abusing GIFS the way I tend to.

Of course, there's always the flip side of this. I'm not talking trolls or hatemongers (although those guys make me want to cry) but people who refuse to see anything except in absolutes. The thing that really frustrates me about sites like Tumblr or Jezebel (and stop me from getting more involved with either site) is that people are SO quick to pile on or judge or demand apologies over complete non-issues or misplaced rage. One of the best examples of this is the Heath Ledger/Joker tumblr thread that happened a few years ago.

Granted, I don't know if this one actually happened or was a joke about how quick people on the internet are to make snap judgments but it shows the point I'm trying to make. If you've ever made a rape joke you're pro-rapist. If you ever criticise another country's policies you're pro-Hitler. If you accidentally use the wrong pronoun when discussing a trans person you're a huge pile of shit. There are no allowances for human error or for a slip of a tongue, you are written off immediately and no attempts to apologise or explain yourself will suffice.

 JLaw has landed in hot water a few times over things she's said, and while some of them can be taken badly, I'd personally chalk most of them up to being young and really not understanding how offensive it is. I 100% believe that JLaw has probably read over articles calling her transphobic and realised that her quippy joke about her cat wasn't the wisest thing to think or say out loud. I know it's easy to look at people younger than you and say "you should have known better" but seriously, how many people haven't said some shitty dumb things in their lives but are lucky not to have a microphone in their face when they say it? This isn't to say people don't have a right to feel offended, they absolutely do, but maybe we shouldn't be so quick to cast stones for a few off-the-cuff remarks made at 20.

Then there are things like Jenny Trout's (or Jennifer Armintrout or Abigail Barnette) article "Jennifer Lawrence Body-Shames You More Than You Might Realise" WHICH ACTUALLY BODY-SHAMES JLAW WHEN TRYING TO SAY SHE BODY-SHAMES US. It isn't JLaw's fault that the public doesn't react to her and Melissa McCarthy's comments about weight equally. Just because there are larger actresses out there doesn't mean that JLaw doesn't come under fire from her management, producers or tabloid magazines about being too big for film. Just because she is skinny by IRL standards doesn't negate the fact that Hollywood is fucking appalling. In fact, it makes it worse. Look, I love Melissa McCarthy but it's not like you can deny that she's larger in size. I couldn't care less if she lost weight or put more on as long as she's happy and healthy, but of course she's been skewered by producers and tabloids, she doesn't fit their idealistic beauty standards by a mile. But JLaw is tiny and young and gorgeous, she should be their ideal for beauty. The fact that anyone in the industry thinks otherwise is exactly why that industry is so broken. The fact that they're telling a young girl who can't possibly weigh more than 55kg to lose weight is so disgusting it makes me want to vomit. Neither woman should feel pressured to lose weight to get work and neither woman should be abused if they say they just came from eating a burger at Maccas. But just because people would throw mud at MM for saying the same thing doesn't mean JLaw should have to censor herself.
"What are you gonna do? Be hungry every single day to make other people happy? That's just dumb."
How is that statement body-shaming larger women? Are thin women not allowed to state the obvious and say that diets are dumb as hell just because there are bigger women out there? Are you not allowed to say you enjoy a burger AND mention that you hate spending time in the gym but have to for work? How can Jenny Trout not see that her argument has nothing to do with JLaw and everything to do with society and the Hollywood system? I don't know if this is simply the backlash we all knew was coming for JLaw, misguided internet social justice or misaligned anger based on JLaw's transphobic remarks I mentioned earlier, but it is so stupid I want to tear my hair out.

But in my mind one of the biggest internet absolutes has to be surrounding MRAs (men's rights activists). This is actually tricky ground because 95% of MRAs are absolute assholes who are pissed that a woman might ever have the same rights as them. They're the kind of privileged rich white man who would also march down New York streets with signs saying "diversity = white genocide". Ugh.

But there are 5% of people there with legitimate causes that get grouped into that bundle of assholes just for being a man. Grab the pitchforks ladies, how dare he think he has anything to complain about! But he does. Take male rape. It's a very real issue but either people don't believe it exists (because apparently being aroused biologically - which they cannot help - negates a firm NO) or mock/ridicule men who do come forward as victims. The latest campaign by NO MORE with Mariska Hargitay is actually brilliant because it targets male AND female rape myths and tries to re-educate the public about both of these issues. Or how about the fact that a large chunk of MRAs (of that 5% obvs) are actually focused on equalising rights when it comes to their children. Whether it's paternity leave or shared parenting rights* - these aren't outrageous issues to bring up and aren't actually specifically male issues.

I saw a post on Tumblr** the other day which said that patriarchy is damaging to everyone, not just women. Because of the patriarchal values that still reign supreme there are unreal expectations placed on both women AND men.

Thanks go to Tika for reblogging this

In the case of the legitimate MRAs, they are essentially fighting for the same thing as feminists. They want to be treated equally in all areas of life, which requires removing the patriarchal chains that bind us all. But because of the bigots who hide behind the MRA moniker people on Tumblr and Jezebel hurl insults at anyone who dares bring up a male-centric issue or utter the words men's rights. Yes it's largely a defense mechanism against the horrible people that usually use those words, but it's so fucked up that people just disregard legitimate issues because there are assholes out there. Not everyone who is pushing for men's rights is a white rich cis-gendered bigot.

We all turn to the internet to be our perfect escape from the horrors of the world, so when someone threatens to destroy that I think we all get a little defensive. It's understandable, I've been there, I've made those snap judgments. But it's getting to a point where everyone has to tread so carefully because if they make a wrong step they'll be hated by the internet for the rest of human existence. Damn straight we should call people out when they say something stupid or bigoted or incorrect, but maybe let's not jump to calling a commentator a slut-shamer because they're worried about the direction Miley is headed down or transphobic because they slipped up and called someone a he instead of a she. We're all human and we all have opinions and we all make mistakes. So how about we share out some of that special empathy we all have for minority and subjugated groups and treat everyone like human beings and give them the chance to explain themselves or explain to them why they're wrong. Can't we for one second step off the gas and just calm the F down?

So that's where I'm at right now. I guess I'm basically saying don't be a dick and don't assume the worst of everyone. And maybe give people, obviously trolls not included, the benefit of the doubt. It's not so hard is it?

*two areas*** which are majorly skewed in the favour of women, primarily because of patriarchal ideals that women = caregiver and men = breadwinner.

**In one of the rare instance where I came across rationality on Tumblr

***and two areas which are still grossly inadequate when it comes to everyone involved. Everyone gets a raw deal, and both need to be seriously re-evaluated at the most basic level (also yes, I did note a note)

Holiday Photo Diary: Sapporo, Yubari and Otaru (week 2)

Ooops, guys I completely forgot about my holiday posts! Mucho apologies, I promise I'll do much better with getting the next (and final) post out.

So this second week was pretty work intensive. I headed up to Hokkaido, Japan's north island to attend the Yubari International Fantastic Film Festival and interview some film makers. But I did a pretty decent job taking in the surrounding towns as well. It was an amazing experience set against an absolutely stunning background. Sapporo is quite a large city but the rest of Hokkaido is so sparsely populated the mountains and forests and waterways really shine. It was a welcome change after the brightly-lit insanity of Tokyo. Be warned though, Hokkaido is  a lot less English-friendly than Tokyo, so if you're heading up this way (especially away from Sapporo or the more touristy ski resorts) make sure you read up on some Japanese or at the very least have a comprehensive phrasebook with you. Nothing worse than finding yourself stuck in a teensy town with no idea when and if another train is coming by!

The Sapporo Clock Tower

They do love their Eiffel tower replicas in Japan, Sapporo

Tanukikoji Shopping street, Sapporo

Obelisk details in Odori Park, Sapporo
Snowman, Otaru

Bet the kids are eagerly awaiting Spring! Otaru

Suitengu Shrine, Otaru

fortunes on a tree at Suitengu Shrine, Otaru

Poor old man is going to be shovelling for awhile, Otaru

Yubari IFFF signs

The town is absolutely covered in billboards for American, English and Japanese films, Yubari

Bright red bridge, Yubari

small cemetery in Yubari

Excellent ski slopes surrounding the film festival, Yubari

Views around Yubari

The trees reflecting the setting sun, Shin-Yubari train station

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Movie Trailer: The Giver

The Giver is one of those books that I always notice people give 5 stars to and list among their favourite books, but until I saw this trailer I don't think I'd ever questioned what it was even about. Since I haven't read the book I don't really know what to expect from the film, does it look like a decent adaptation? Does it look good? I dunno, it kinda looks like every other grey-toned dystopian YA making headlines at the moment. What I do know however, is that I know the lead actor. Or rather, he grew up down the street from me and I know his name is Brenton and that's about it. BUT YOU GUYS, HOW INSANE IS THAT! I think that technically makes me famous by association right? Tom Hiddleston has no excuse to ignore my emails any longer!

The Giver hits cinemas in America in August. I'm guessing it'll have a similar international release. Maybe.

Graphic Novel mini-reviews #18

Fables: Wolves (Volume #8)

Written by: Bill Willingham; Illustrated by: Mark Buckingham, Steve Leialoha, Shawn McManus, Andrew Pepoy

Published: 2006

My Thoughts: There was a lot to like about this volume but it also had a few issues I just can't quite get past. After being exiled from Fabletown Bigby went on the run and since then Mowgli has been trying to find him with little luck. Mowgli finally finds Bigby and convinces him to come back to perform a secret agent style mission back in the Homelands in exhange for being able to reunite with Snow and their children. But when Mowgli finds Bigby he's shacked up with another woman. Why? Is this going to play into it somehow, will she be coming back? We know that Snow has been waiting for Bigby's return, so is this just to show us that he's a pretty shitty dude or is it about something else? He's supposedly loved Snow since they first met and he's always been a bit of a loner so why did he need companionship? I just don't understand what this serves and it felt kind of hacky. As for the actual mission he goes on - that I liked. It's pushing the story into an interesting direction and I think there'll be some action-heavy volumes coming up. I also really liked Cinderella's story arc in here, secret agent/assassin  is a much better career than Stepmother's cleaner or Prince Charming's wife. She actually reminds me a bit of Buffy minus the vampires which could never be a bad thing right?

The Strain (Volume 1)

Written by: David Lapham; Illustrated by: Mike Huddleston

Published: 2012

My Thoughts: While I wasn't wowed by the book, there were elements I really loved. The vampires for one. The medical investigation for another. The graphic novel streamlines the book; it cuts out some of the unnecessary waste, reshuffles the plot order, places some reveals earlier (where it holds much more weight) and visually depicts the nightmarish vampires Del Toro created. The art style is dark and frenetic, perfectly representing the chaos and panic of the narrative. The vampires are horrific, gory and terrifying. Eph and Nora are much better with less time spent on unnecessary characterisation, and Setrakians flashbacks work beautifully in this medium. It's a much tighter and successful story, and I think I might stick to the graphic novel from now on.

Batman - Streets of Gotham: The House of Hush (Volume 3)

Written by: Paul Dini; Illustrated by: Dustin Nguyen, Derek Fridolfs

Published: 2011

My Thoughts: I haven't read the previous two volumes but I decided to pick this one up when I was at the library and realised how long it'd been since I'd read some Batman. I don't know how this went in concluding the story set up in the previous two volumes, but I thought it was interesting - and easy to get on top of considering I was coming in for the final act. There's a side-along story about a small time crook named The Carpenter who builds traps and hide-outs for Gotham's villains that was fun but went way too far in the pun department. The main story was typical for a Batman comic, vengeance, mistaken identities, double and triple crossing. I like the illustration style but did find that the tall, handsome, dark haired dudes got pretty hard to tell apart by the end. A problem exacerbated by the fact that there are two Bruce Waynes featured in this story. Not bad though, might go back and read the first two.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Book Review: Snake Typhoon! by Billie Jones

Snake Typhoon!

Written by: Billie Jones

Published: 2014

Synopsis: When unseasonable weather hits the sunshine city of Brisbane, a freak typhoon terrorizes the citizens. It’s not just any typhoon though, it’s a snake typhoon! And the deadliest snakes in Australia, with venomous fangs are flying straight for Kez.

Kez is the new girl in the office and she’s desperately fighting to prove herself, but what’s a girl to do when faced with a typhoon of snakes coming straight for her helicopter?

These flying diabolical snakes will stop at nothing to kill their victims and Kez only has one option: Figure out how to stop a snake typhoon and save the world... or die trying!

I like a lot of different genres of films, but the films that give me perhaps the most joy are terrible, terrible B grade action/horror films. There are bad movies and the there are the so-bad-they're-actually-amazing bad movies. Some are filled with A-list stars with a primo budget while others are basically passion projects made by amateur filmmakers with wannabe actors rounding out the cast. The things they all share though, is how wonderfully awful they are. The Room, Mega Shark vs Giant Octopus, Raging Sharks, Super Mario Brothers are some of the best example of these, and seriously, if you've never seen The Room or Raging Sharks then hop to it, because they will make your ribs crack you'll laugh so hard.

And shockingly, these sorts of films actually turn out to be quite profitable. If you make a bad movie bad enough, you end up with a cult following, midnight screenings across the globe and doors opening where they really shouldn't. Sure they won't land you the Oscar these filmmakers probably think they deserve, but they'll make you into a household name, and sometimes that's good enough. This is why we get the bad bad movies, films like Sharknado and Birdemic, films that set out to be terrible and succeed in being terrible because they are far too self-aware and therefore miss that crucial ingredient that flips them back over to awesome. This is all a very complicated way of introducing the book Snake Typhoon, which falls somewhere in between the so-bad-it's good and bad-bad categories.

I originally accepted this book for review for two reasons. First, the whole premise is an attempt to parody a so-bad-it's-good movie in book form and second, it's set in Brisbane, which is where I'm sitting right now. I will help Brisbane represent itself any way I can. I think the book delivered on both fronts, although since most of the book takes place around the red heart of Australia maybe I should expand my Brissy reppin' to the more general Aussie reppin'. The book utilises a lot of the bad movie tropes; terrible dialogue, clunky transitions, nonsensical plot progression, stereotypical characters, sign-posting for an awful sequel, deus ex machina and unscientific science, but it does these things on purpose. It was a fun and silly read and because of the purposeful attempt to replicate bad movies it was almost impossible to predict where things were going. There were some genuinely good tongue-in-cheek moments, like when the pilot points out to our protagonist Kez that we call typhoons cyclones in Australia, and she shoots back that "Snake Cyclone" doesn't sound as good, or when a character dies Kez is told not to be sad because he "believes in the afterlife". It's over the top and ridiculous and it’s laugh out loud funny at times.

But it isn't all good-bad. Like I mentioned before, when something sets out to parody or replicate the good-bad movie it's usually too self-aware and completely misses the mark. I felt like that was the case here unfortunately. Some of the jokes and bad movie tropes were just too on the nose. Like the sudden shift in romantic interest for Kez or the repeated comments saying things to the effect of "don't worry, we can't die, they need us for the sequel". It takes you out of the moment and forces you to acknowledge that it's a bad-movie imitation rather than just overwhelming you with its nonsensical passion and hilarity.

But if you've always wanted to read your bad movies, and go into this knowing it's a parody of the B-grade movie genre then I think you'll probably have a pretty great time reading it. Kez is a strange protagonist, she kind of feels like the "ugly" version of the female lead in those early 2000s movies like She's All That. She has terrible self-esteem, is nervous about her job but a complete over-achiever, talks too much and seems a little dorky. But as the book goes on she gains more confidence (but probably shouldn't, she makes some terrible judgement calls) and takes charge of the situation. It's completely ridiculous but she's still kind of kick ass, and I'll take my kick ass females where ever I can, bad movie parody or no.


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