Lingua Mea Vita


Why Sucker Punch Was a Pleasant Surprise

I’d just about had with Zack Snyder. I want to laud him as one of my people—one of my  graphic novel reading, SyFy channel marathoning nerds who live to be taken away to alternate universes where colors are saturated, theme music sweeps as you walk into a room, and slow-mo shots are abundant.

But time and time again, Zack lets me down. All I can remember from 300 is a woman’s freakishly long nipples and Xerxes striking a pose on his throne. Somehow, Zack managed to suck the very breath of Watchmen, cutting out the good stuff to dazzle my eyes with gorgeous cinematography. And then there was some crap about owls.

But I decided to give Zack a third chance and see Sucker Punch (mostly because I saw the soundtrack on iTunes and was really curious/intrigued. FUN FACT: The opening song, a cover of the Eurythmics Sweet Dreams, is sung by Emily Browning who plays Baby Doll in the movie). And guess what? Sucker Punch didn’t suck! Not nearly as much as 300 or Watchmen or The Legend of the Googly Owls or whatever the hell it was called.

Sucker Punch had all the elements of a Zack Snyder film: the breathtaking cinematography, stunning action sequences, a soaring soundtrack/score full of glory, and copious amounts of slow motion—but it had something the others didn’t: an original storyline that was easy to follow! Given, it wasn’t the greatest storyline (it would’ve been amazing for a game), but a clear story was present.

Zack (yes, I’m referring to him by first name) actually wrote the story and co-wrote the screenplay for Sucker Punch unlike 300 or Watchmen. This may be why the story for this movie actually makes sense.

Either way, I felt like I was the only person in the theater going to a Zack Snyder film for a story (especially when there were fighting scantily clad women).

I did have a good time enjoying the graphics and saw so many visual cues that reminded me of other movies and directors, I started to think of Sucker Punch as a giant shoutout to other directors who are known for their visual cues (minor spoilers):

The Initial Dance Scene — M. Night Shyamalan’s The Last Airbender
The Map Dance — Quentin Tarantino’s Inglorius Basterds
The Fire Dance — Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings
The Knife Dance — George Lucas’ Star Wars

There were a couple of other little references: the girls’ landing poses were a little Matrix/N’SYNC’s “Bye Bye Bye” And the number of girls, the font and styling on the poster, and Baby Doll’s costuming, especially at the end, was so reminiscent of Sailor Moon.

I left the theater impressed, though I’m not sure if it’s because I prepared for no story and prettiness. I will recommend it to those who inquire about it (and I will definitely recommend the soundtrack which features remakes/mixes of one of my favorite Beatles songs (!), a Queen mash-up (!!), and songs by Bjork (!!!!) and my favorite person Emiliana Torrini (!!!!!!!!). Dig it.)

All in all, go see Sucker Punch. Zack even tries to inject a good message in the end.



Is “Eve’s Bayou” Southern Gothic Literature?

Eve’s Bayou is a fantastic movie.

fantastic [fan-tas-tik], adj.

  1. conceived or seemingly conceived by fancy; so extreme as to challenge belief; exceedingly large or great
  2. marked by extravagant fantasy or extreme individuality
  3. excellent, superlative

[Again,] Eve’s Bayou is a fantastic movie. Even by definition. What is NOT fantastic about the story of a mischievous 10-year-old Louisiana Creole girl who believes she killed her womanizing father by performing voodoo rituals with the local shadowlady?

After watching the movie the other night, I perform my post-movie ritual of going to imdb and reading comments on the movie’s discussion board. One of the topics was:

“Is Eve’s Bayou considered Southern Gothic Literature?”

I kid you not, I shouted “YES, OF COURSE” at my computer. This is only because I have a deep appreciation for Southern Gothic Literature. I like to blame this on my ragin’ Cajun roots.

For those who are like, “What the hell is Southern Gothic Literature”, it (is):

  1. An offshoot of gothic literature, set in the American South. (Gothic literature put very simply is atmospheric, supernatural fiction. Think Frankenstein, Interview with the Vampire, House of Leaves)
  2. Usually features strange characters. Puts a twist on your stereotypical Southern characters, e.g; the southern belle is a murderer (“A Rose for Emily”), the righteous, football-hero, man of the house may have feelings for another man (“Cat on a Hot Tin Roof”).
  3. Use of the grotesque (which was described by my Chicano/Latino Lit proffy as “something disturbing, but you feel an affinity for it, and in the pit of your stomach, you may want to laugh”) to criticize Southern culture (as Wikipedia puts it). Example: To Kill a Mockingbird and racism. The trial is the “something disturbing”, you feel an affinity for it because you believe that Jim is going to get off, and you may want to laugh at the drunken ridiculousness of Bob and Mayella Ewell.

So clearly Eve’s Bayou fits this. It’s got the supernatural aspects of old gothic literature (the voodoo, Mozell’s psychic ability), strange characters (Louis, the womanizing father, Cisely, the nearly-psychotic 14-year-old sister), and use of the grotesque (the affair, the SPOILER ALERT: kiss between Cisely and Louis, and the relationship between Elzora and Eve).

So why would there even be a question about this movie being counted as Southern Gothic Literature?

I think it’s because it’s a black movie. I’m not implying that the poster who asked this question is racist. It’s more of the fault of black movies that often rely on the formula of “let’s commit a crime and make it funny” or “let’s tail-chase an impossibly annoying (but sexy!) woman and make it funny” or “let’s take a man and put him in a dress and make it funny.” Eve’s Bayou not only was more thoughtful and exciting than your typical “black” movie, but actually thoughtfully researched and  artfully written to fit under the SGL genre.

In fact, the fact that this movie has mostly black (or rather, Louisiana Creole) characters puts an interesting twist on an already interesting genre. Eve’s Bayou combines between Black literature and Southern Gothic Literature, that have been somehow separated for some reason, despite black people being a rather large part of Southern culture.

FUN FACT: This movie was written by Kasi Lemmons, aka Jodie Foster’s FBI agent friend in Silence of the Lambs (which also could be considered Southern Gothic Literature, in my book).



Rollin’ With My Homies

Jane Austen’s Emma was a cherry-popper for me in a few ways. It was the first book that I read on my own outside of required reading in high school. It was the first “old-timey” language book, I read (and trust me, I was petrified that it wouldn’t make any sense). And it was the first Jane Austen book I read.

Oddly enough, despite 95.2% of my female friends in high school being obsessed with finding their own Mr. Darcy, Emma still is the only Jane Austen book I’ve read.

I  read Emma in the first place because my inner-teacher’s pet had been awakened in my 10th grade English class, and I was going to impress my teacher by showing that I had a broad taste in books. I borrowed her copy of Emma and realized it was the same story as one of my all-time favorite movies, Clueless.

SUMMARY

Aside from Dionne and Murray, the characters  and plot in Emma and Clueless totally align:

Cher Horowitz and Emma Woodhouse — The pretty, spoiled brat main characters in their stories, both Cher and Emma decide to fix up singles in their high society group after successfully matching up their teachers.

Josh and Mr. Knightley — Like, Cher and Josh, Emma and Mr. Knightley share the awkward is-he-my-brother-though-he’s-not-my-brother relationship. Also like Josh, Mr. Knightley is older than Emma, and irritates her on occasion, but she sees the good in him. SPOILER, BUT SERIOUSLY HOW HAVE YOU NOT SEEN CLUELESS: They end up together in the end.

Tai and Harriet — Both Harriet and Tai are naive, but sweet. Emma/Cher tells her to reject the guy she’s actually interested in, for another disinterested guy. At one point, Harriet wants Mr. Knightley, like Tai wanted Josh, and that makes Emma/Cher uncomfortable.

Elton and Mr. Elton — No parallels here. 😛  These are the guys who Emma and Cher try to set up with Harriet and Tai, but rejects her because he’s a snob and more interested in the “higher class” Emma and Cher. Ends up with Augusta/Amber.

Christian and Frank Churchill — This is where the main difference between the stories occurs. Emma/Cher are trolling for new guys for Harriet/Tai when she stumbles upon Frank Churchill, whom she wants for herself. In Emma, Frank Churchill is really interested in Jane Fairfax, who is pretty much perfect. Clueless does away with Jane and puts a modern twist on it, by making Christian gay.

Mr. Martin and Travis Birkenstock — Both are the guys that Harriet and Tai are initially interested in, but are rebuffed at the assistance of Emma/Cher. Mr. Martin is a farmer and Travis is a stoner.

Mr. Hall and Miss Giest and Mr. Weston and Miss Taylor — The couple that is set up by Emma/Cher in the beginning. In Clueless, both Mr. Hall and Miss Giest were her teachers, though in Emma, only Miss Taylor was her teacher (governess).

And if that wasn’t enough to confuse you, just remember: Emma is the same as Clueless, just instead of Valspeak, they spoke old-timey language.

WHY THIS BOOK IS RELEVANT

Though there are other Jane Austen  books on the BBC Book Challenge list, Emma is the only singular romantic-comedy book that made the cut. When you think about it, Emma is the the original “modern” romantic comedy (Shakespeare wrote RomComs, but they just don’t seem to make as much sense as Emma). There are mismatches and mixups but in the end, everyone is coupled up and happy. We know the warming (or groaning) effect that romantic comedies have on women today, imagine the impact of a romantic comedy written by a woman way back when everything was “serious-serious-find-a-husband-or-die-alone”!

So on top of being the original RomCom, Emma really opened the doors for modern romantic comedies. Kate Hudson, Reese Witherspoon, Jennifer Lopez, you owe your careers to Miss Jane Austen.

I would like to end this entry by giving a shout out to the late Brittany Murphy. I know you’re rollin’ with your homies up there in the sky.

Also, completely unrelated, HOW OLD IS PAUL RUDD ANYWAY?



Stay Hungry

You will never believe this:  a Sci-Fi/Fantasy Young Adult novel series is being turned into a big-budget Hollywood movie.

THAT NEVER HAPPENS! Just ask Harry Potter and the vamps from Twilight.

This time it’s The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins that’s getting the movie treatment. I’m pretty excited for it: The Hunger Games is darker than both Harry Potter and Twilight—It’s like Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire meets Fight Club with a little bit of Z for Zachariah thrown in. It has the potential to be  an excellent movie.

However, both Harry Potter and Twilight did something so right that I think that the production team for The Hunger Games is already missing the mark for—casting. (The reason I’d heard about the Hunger Games movie was because of a blog post about the casting, back when Hailee Stienfeld was the favorite).

Daniel Radcliffe as Harry Potter? Perfect. Emma Watson as Hermione? Even more perfect. And though I am deeply creeped out by them, Kristin Stewart and Robert Pattinson as Bella Swann and Edward Cullen? Perfect and Perfecter.

Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen?

I think if you’ve ever posed wet in a bikini for Esquire, you’ve given up your right to play a 16-year-old girl.

But the casting directors (I hope) are familiar with the book, so why cast a 20-year-old for such a young role? My best guess is that they had problems with casting Peeta, the main male character.

Peeta is 18-year-old, blonde, smart, and the definition of good. Are there any 18-year-old hot-boy actors (with tween girl pull) that can rope in big money at the box office? No. The casting directors are wise enough not to cast Justin Bieber.

The closest thing they can cast are these early-20s, blond hearththrobby guys that keep popping up. There are a ton of them. Perez Hilton loves them. But due to their age, they have to age Katniss. But if they age her…it just isn’t The Hunger Games done right.

I think the only young actress who is even remotely capable of pulling this off is Chloe Moretz.

She’s tough (Kick Ass), smart (500 Days of Summer), dark (Let Me In), and proven that she can handle material above and beyond her age. I don’t care if you have to cast a 20-year-old blondie and it looks like pedophilia, CAST. THIS. GIRL.

But the casting won’t be the nail in this coffin.

The best thing that HP and Twilight had going  for them was the wild, inconvenient, absolutely-ridiculous-in-every-kind-of-way popularity preceding the film release. And while this battle of the actresses is garnering more attention for the movie, it’s not going to make an affinity as strong as a Twi-hard or a Pott-head. The movie has to be smartly cast and promoted to avoid whatever happened to Percy Jackson & the Olympians.

(Note: Stop trying to cast Alex Pettyfer. He’s not attractive. And he scares me. Cast an unkown and breed a new heartthrob—a charming, acting Bieber, if you will. And cast Chloe Moretz.)



Oscar 2011 Recap or Why the Academy Will Never Truly Understand The Social Network

This years Oscars ahem, “Oscar”, presentation was not that bad. I like that they took blatant jabs at their blatant attempt to bring in a younger audience as a blatant attempt to boost ratings (I mean, young audiences LOVE self-deprecating humor, especially when they can see it from a mile away). We have two hosts this year who happen to be extremely talented. (It doesn’t help that they were both extremely good looking). Anne Hathaway was charming and energetic and eager to host. James Franco? Not so much. His nerves during his pre-show interview were enough to give me an aneurysm.

But I like James Franco. I think it was great that he was nominated for 127 Hours. I love that you rarely see him without that giant alligator grin. And I love that he loves Oprah:

Oprah recently featured him in her magazine because on top of being a good actor, a slut for punishment Ph.D. student at Yale, and a generally happy person, he’s an author. I haven’t gotten around to Palo Alto, his series of short stories, but I will and blog about it here, because I want to know all of the things that they didn’t tell Harry (Spider-mannnnn). I also love that he likes House of Leaves, the trendy book of my circle of friends in high school.

But enough about James, let me get to the part of the Oscars that evoked such guttural shrieks  from me that likely scared the crap out of my neighbors.

The Social Network won Best Adapted Screenplay.

The Social Network lost Best Picture.

  1. Best Adapted Screenplay—I expected the Social Network to win Best Adapted Screenplay this year. Not only was the dialogue and flow of the movie out of this world, it was written by Aaron Sorkin, Movie Great (whom I mentioned in a previous entry). No other movie deserved it as much. End O’Story.
  2. Best Picture—For this to be the new, “young, hip Oscars” that Anne Hathaway and James Franco often mentioned, The Social Network would have to win. Not only was it a thoughtful examination of the human condition (that aching need to belong), the examination was of an issue that I think that is specifically poignant to Gen-Y. Gen-Y aren’t babies anymore, and with the rise of social networking, everyone (not just Mark Zuckerberg) is feeling this incredible need to belong, to be accepted, and make sure that their voice is heard. This isn’t exactly true of previous generations. The Social Network points this out in such a moving way, and a way that no one else has touched, and I feel a way that no one else will touch for a very long time. But instead of giving the Best Picture Oscar of the “New, Young, Hip Oscars” they give to the inspirational movie that you still have the blow the dust off of (The King’s Speech). It may be that the members of the Academy are simply too old to understand how powerful The Social Network is, and honestly, that’s okay. I will just have to wait for the Academy to evolve at the speed of its presentation.

I do realize I have probably butchered any chance I have at ever winning an Oscar for criticizing their choice, but I can live with it. 😛 I just felt really strongly about it, and had to let it go somehow. 🙂



Valentine’s Day Movie Quote Love — About a Boy
February 11, 2011, 3:48 am
Filed under: Cinematic Stylings | Tags: , , ,

Considering the fact that my last post pretty much spewed a crapload of anti-love vitriol, I should come out and say that I love Valentine’s Day. I really like the idea of love and celebrating it. I, however, don’t like being smacked in the face with roses, chocolate, and crotchless panties as symbols of what love is all about.

This is why I love this quote from the movie, About a Boy. The two main characters Will (played by Hugh Grant) and Marcus (played by Uber Pale Dorky English Kid) are having a conversation about the women they want in their lives. Marcus asks will what is the difference between a girlfriend and a girl that is your friend. Will says something along the lines of if you want to touch her. To which Marcus replies,

“I want to be with her more. I want to be with her all the time. And I want to tell her things I don’t tell you or Mum (NOTE THE MUM, HE IS ENGLISH) And I don’t want her to have another boyfriend. So I suppose if I could have all of those things, I wouldn’t mind if I got to touch her or not.”

Aaaah, the words from the mouth of babes. That single quote spoke more to me about love than any RomCom I’ve ever seen. Or maybe it’s because I’m PMSing. And I’m single. Before Valentine’s Day.

Ooooh, I’m a wreck. 😛



The Newest, Best TV Show You Will Probably Never See

Before I even start with this post, I guess I should explain who Aaron Sorkin, who is going to be the star of this post, is. He’s a beloved and respected writer in Hollywood best known for:

  1. Writing The American President and one of my all-time favorite movies, A Few Good Men. He’s also up for an Oscar this year for Best Adapted Screenplay for The Social Network.
  2. Being the creator, writer and driving force behind The West Wing.
  3. Drawing and quartering Sarah Palin via blog post on the HuffPo.

Now Aaron Sorkin is brewing up a new TV series for HBO, hoping to capture “the same kind of idealism and romanticism that made government sexy on The West Wing.”

…”sexy” isn’t the first word I’d use to describe The West Wing. While it was a good show, I think The West Wing was one of those shows you watched while rubbing Bengay on your arthritic joints and waiting for your vanilla ice-cream to thaw. And his other two shows, Sports Night and Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, fared well critically, but were not on the air very long.

A move to a premium channel where you can be sexy as you wanna be could be what a Sorkin-show needs to actually hang in there. Sorkin himself said that he thought HBO is were people are turning for “more literate programming.” And with a history of airing shows like  the iconic Sex and the City, the awesome bro-fest that is Entourage, the introspective and darkly funny Six Feet Under and the only halfway decent product of the neo-vampire phenomenon True Blood, he’d be 100 percent right.

However, the true test will be set up of the show itself. Just because a show is on HBO doesn’t mean it’ll survive (R.I.P. John from Cincinnati). Sorkin is known for his “show about a show” style, and it looks like this show is going to take on that format. But I guess I’m wondering if it’s the network choice or the actual “show about a show” set-up that is responsible for the demise of Sorkin shows.

I guess only time will tell, but I’m rooting for ya, Aaron! The show about a show thing works for 30 Rock!