Say Hello To the Person In the Seat Next to You On the Burning Plane

So from me to you, I hope you’ll hear me and believe me when I say It’s going to be okay.

I’m still alive! Just busy.

I’ve been watching a lot of movies, but haven’t had time to blog about them. I’ve been working on fiction, and wrote up an entry on Mudder of Dragons about my trip to New York and I’m working on another one for tomorrow. Go check it out if you’re bored or stuck in traffic!

Patricksponaugle linked to an amazing Oatmeal comic on Twitter last night and reading it really gave me pause. Here it is:

It’s going to be okay.  

You need to read it. Right now. Don’t save it for later, don’t scroll past and think ‘Oh I’ll read that later’ like I almost did, because I am NOTORIOUS for such and then forgetting. Just read it. It takes less than five minutes.

–Yeah.

If we are alive and reading this, we’re all on that burning plane RIGHT NOW, and we all have the opportunity to tell someone ‘It’s going to be okay.‘ Half of the act is saying it out loud – the other half is believing it yourself once you’ve said it.

It’s easy to gloss over the nuance of human suffering with what seems like a platitude… but really, it’s true. Holding on to hope in times of desperation is one of the best things about humanity – maybe that sounds like bullshit off a greeting card, and people say it all the time in situations when things AREN’T going to be okay and bad things happen anyway… but that isn’t what life’s about.

It actually reminded me of something that happened to me, one of my life’s great regrets.

The rest of this entry is behind a cut because it deals with the death of a family member and a personal failing on the part of the writer. I invite you to read it, but please be warned, it’s depressing.

Continue reading “Say Hello To the Person In the Seat Next to You On the Burning Plane”

More Britishiest Brits Entry: Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy

Based on a John Le Carre novel, TTSS is that kind of old-school film that challenges without being obnoxious. I would highly recommend it to anyone who’s a fan of thought-provoking political thrillers, taut, reserved performances, and distressingly accurate fashion reproductions. Seriously, Gary Oldman looks like he walked out of somebody’s 70’s era family photos. Put a goofy party hat on him or a kid in his lap and he’s there.

I don't smoke but this movie damn near got me started. People smoke constantly and make it look GOOD.
I don’t smoke but this movie damn near got me started. People smoke constantly and make it look GOOD.

A few months ago, Simon Pegg stepped in it by opining that current trends in science fiction and fantasy are possibly infantilizing its audience; that a love of cartoons, comics, and other escapist media are contributing to an immature mindset.

Naturally the internet landed on him with both feet and he clarified his comments later. Personally I can see both sides of the argument, but I’m not really exploring that in today’s post; and as a  shy person, I can only imagine how challenging it must be to have to do promotional stuff 25 hours a day and have to “switch on” the moment there’s a microphone in your face. I have days where I can barely order in restaurants and I already know what I want. 

Anyway, that social gaff occurred to me during the opening of Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy because it is the exact kind of film Pegg was talking about. I was cruising around my queueueueueu and decided to take a break from Stephen Chow movies (4 this week so far!) and hit play.

This film is just amazing. It’s the kind of old-school thriller that I love and secretly fetishize: dudes walk around in sharp suits, smoking, drinking whiskey during their meetings and talking big game while their personal relationships crumble from within, and I would SWEAR that the cast were chosen for their beautiful voices as much as their acting or appearance. John Hurt, Mark Strong, Benedict Cumberbatch, Colin Firth, Gary Oldman, and (gasps) TOM HARDY basically turn every scene into choral conversations. I wish I knew how to do sound mixing – I’d do dance mixes of them just TALKING.

And talking is what this movie is. I love seeing a spy movie that really captures how deeply boring and uncool government work IS – and yet still captures the enormous tensions its employees labor under at all times. The setting was another twist; I admit my impression of London in the early 70s comes from Laugh-In, James Bond, and (embarrassingly) the Austin Powers movies, so seeing a “Swinging London” that looked about as festive as the inside of a government-issued filing cabinet was a novelty. I loved how drained of color the world of this film was; and even the moments where color should be bright seemed tired and faded. Everything is taking place in offices and the flats of people who have negated all personal interests and personality in service of their country, so of course it would appear drained and drab.

SASS!
I am pleased to report that while everything else was gray, Colin Firth’s sass game was on point.

The plot is intricate, and carried by the aforementioned conversations. Often something the viewer is shown is deconstructed later on, so we can’t always trust our eyes. Some things occur offscreen, or are so subtle as to be barely noticeable.

At times I just accepted that I had no idea what was happening and let my impressions be carried by the music score, which must be how a puppy feels on the way to the vet. I had no idea where we were going or why, but was just thrilled to be along for the ride. That’s kind of the point – you need to accept that you know nothing before you can reach enlightenment, and by the end of the film everything was cleared up, plotwise.

*SWOON*
IKEA needs to make fainting couches so I can buy one,  look at this picture, and faint onto it. Over and over. For days. 

As I mentioned before the cast was perfectly chosen. I never would have imagined I’d dig Tom Hardy with feathered 70s hair but today I learned something about myself. His character is part of a romantic subplot, and there’s a scene where he playfully teases his girlfriend by shining a mirror on her face. I am here to tell you that if people could bottle and sell his quiet manly radiance there would be a lot more love in the world. And babies. Probably. Or just sex.

Another facet to the film is the treatment of closeted gay men in 70s London. One character is closeted gay and another is revealed to be bisexual, adding another layer to an already magnificently nuanced film. Characters sacrifice a great deal for their country as I mentioned before, including relationships – and when one character (I won’t say who) has to break up with his partner or risk being outed, his pain is palpable; his was one of the few happy, functional relationships of the film and he has to end it. Other characters relationships are falling apart around them and the one who has managed to cultivate something must set it alight and walk away.

Based on a John Le Carre novel, TTSS is that kind of old-school film that challenges without being obnoxious. I would highly recommend it to anyone who’s a fan of thought-provoking political thrillers, taut, reserved performances, and distressingly accurate fashion reproductions. Seriously, Gary Oldman looks like he walked out of somebody’s 70’s era family photos. Put a goofy party hat on him or a kid in his lap and he’s there.

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy is available on Instant Watch.

Apples and Oranges Entry: OZ and Orange is the New Black

I love Orange is the New Black. Unflinching without being obnoxious, it was brave and awesome and it took a huge risk and totally paid off. It brought Laverne Cox onto the world stage, and started a lot of intelligent conversations about race and how people of color are portrayed in the media. It was AWESOME. And to compare apples and oranges, I am comparing it to HBO’s brilliant prison show OZ.

Welcome to Apples and Oranges! This is a new feature I’m trying out where I compare incomparable things only because of a thin thread connecting them.

[Some spoilers, but I haven’t finished the 3rd OITNB season yet so please avoid spoilers in the comments!]

Ain't no party like a Litchfield party!
Ain’t no party like a Litchfield party! Also this is clearly from season 2. 

I love Orange is the New Black. Unflinching without being obnoxious, it was brave and awesome and it took a huge risk and totally paid off. It brought Laverne Cox onto the world stage, and started a lot of intelligent conversations about race and how people of color are portrayed in the media. It was AWESOME. And to compare apples and oranges, I am comparing it to HBO’s brilliant prison show OZ.

OZ was literally what gave HBO its middle name of “god damn this is some fine television right here.” It began airing in 1997 – almost twenty years ago! – and depicted the lives of inmates and staff at the fictional Oswald State Correctional Facility. It contains many alumni of other HBO shows, particularly The Wire. OITNB is similiar in a lot of ways, although WAY less brutal.

I admit it’s unfair to compare the shows because OITNB takes place in a prison, and OZ takes place in a max facility. Basically, it’s the prison where you go if you don’t behave in regular prison and they get tired of your shit. Please also note that I am not going to try and make some grand point about the difference between men’s and women’s prisons, because that would be asinine; these are fictional products inspired by reality, but do not function as examples of such.

In OITNB, people get their feelings hurt and sometimes get beaten up, or even beaten to death.

In OZ, they got their faces caved in or fed ground glass until they bleed out.

So, you know, different playing field, different rules.

Oz’s legacy is so ubiquitous its title sequence was lampooned on the Venture Bros, which is a major benchmark of pop culture– sort of like being parodied by Weird Al.

AND when Homer went to jail on the Simpsons, his little hat was a nod to Simon Adebisi’s own ever-present accessory. THAT Is a whole other level of pop-culture achievement!

Requirement of Being Cocked at A Sassy Angle: Check!
Requirement of Being Cocked at A Sassy Angle: Check!

And the original in all it’s glory:

Granted it's a little bigger, but it's ALL in the angle.
Granted it’s a little bigger, but it’s ALL in the angle. Also if you find this picture frightening, you should; Adebisi is not a nice man. 

That photo accurately depicts the real Simon Adebisi; he’s a handsome, highly intelligent man played to the hilt by the magnificent Adewale Akinnouye-Agbaje, but my GOSH was Adebisi a great villain. On the show, almost every character, no matter how brutal, was given some kind of humanizing moment that allowed another facet of their personality to shine through. My memories of the show are hazy but I don’t recall Adebisi ever having that moment (although dropping his pants and fiddling with his bits during his physical was hilarious, and apparently the actor’s improvisation).

One thing that OZ did so much better than OITNB was letting the viewer pick their narrative; for white, middle-class viewers like me, the story of Tobias Beecher heading to prison after drunken vehicular manslaughter was our window to this world. But the beauty of the show was how it drew us into those other windows as they opened wider and wider, providing other characters – Alvarez, Augustus,  Poet,  Kareem Said, Wangler, a forum for their stories.

I will totally admit that the premise of the first season of OITNB, of a ‘good girl’ going to prison, was what drew me in. That and curiosity about what women’s prison might be like, especially since I’m too lazy to go read about it myself. And naturally at the base of such curiosity is the self-absorbed First Wonder of the First World, Could I make it on the inside?  Piper’s story was the main narrative, and that got me watching. But you know what? By about midway through the second season I was absolutely done caring about Piper because the characters around her were so much more compelling and had eclipsed her. At this point, everyone else in the prison is more interesting to watch.

So when season 3 began with her reunion with Alex and the selfish thing she did to achieve that, I sort of stopped giving a shit. Now obviously I have a lot more of this season to get through and since it’s OITNB, shit will go down and things will happen, but I’ll be honest, every time Piper is onscreen my mind starts wandering. She doesn’t seem to be growing as a character and her emotional gurning is so infuriating. When Red tells her to get in touch with her inner Russian and she immediately puts that into practice by pretending to ignore Alex and then having hatesex with her, I threw my hands up into the air because I just didn’t care. And then Alex forgave her! I get that they’re stuck inside and have to make the best of it; I suppose the one character’s (can’t find her name, sorry!) monologue about how prison is a band-aid and nobody who’re friends on the inside can sustain their relationships outside comes into play here, or will later in the season.

I wouldn’t mind if the story wandered away from Piper and her boring entitled bullshit to focus on more worthy characters. I know that Taylor Schilling is doing her best with her performance, and the show has certainly pulled back from her narrative, but I wouldn’t mind if it left her even farther afield. It still feels like she’s the sun and all the other characters orbit around her, but she’s very slowly collapsing in on herself and in danger of becoming a black hole.

Awful But Accurate Depiction
Awful But Accurate Depiction. Also I think they PS’d Chapman’s eyes blue; in the show her eyes are dark brown. Also Daya looks AMAZING here! That glow! Those lips! 

Oz’s strength lay in the showrunners following ALL the stories, not just one. It feels like when Piper finishes her sentence, OITNB will end, and that’s just not what the show is anymore. It’s done too much for the LBGT community (Laverne Cox was on TIME MAGAZINE!) and for actresses of color to go out that way.

Have you watched either show? What are your thoughts?

In Lieu of Real Content, Another Link!

Taking a break at work I read this wonderful hilarious article from the wonderful hilarious people at Filmdrunk, a publication combining two of my favorite things. GOD can they do comedy!

Forgive me!

I have been lazy!

Well, not lazy. I work 40 hours a week and then write between 20 and 30 the rest, on top of housework, social engagements, reading, cooking, and exercise. I haven’t been this productive in YEARS and it is awesome.

But I have been a lazy blogger!

And I’m doing it again! 

Taking a break at work I read this wonderful hilarious article from the wonderful hilarious people at Filmdrunk, a publication combining two of my favorite things. GOD can they do comedy!

Please enjoy this post of theirs, which boiled down is basically The Rock Should Be In All the Remakes.

8 Movies We Should Remake With The Rock.

The “Jaws” poster had me crying at my desk. I’m not even playing.

ALSO –

Anybody else on the edge of their seat for the Hannibal premier tonight? I hope they stream it right away like they did with Constantine!

A Hysterical Man’s Thoughts on Mad Max: Fury Road

I am hurting from not seeing it. HURTING.

So I plan on buying two tickets, both to support the movie, and because the theater owner is closing the theater for my friend’s bday.

Normally I skim Jezebel headlines and don’t read too many articles (as a laid-back social progressive, their inexhaustible supply of outrage tires me) but this one caught my eye. I haven’t seen Mad Max yet but I REALLY want to!

The New Mad Max Film Is So Feminist My Scrotum Killed Itself.

Excerpt:

“Anybody who has seen the original three Mad Max movies knows that women exist for one of four man-created reasons: to be raped so Mel Gibson can get mad, to be sexual partners with a guy trying to kill Mel Gibson, to be murdered so Mel Gibson can get mad, and to force Mel Gibson to fight in the Thunderdome. They have character names like “Nurse,” “Nightrider’s Girl,” “The Captain’s Girl,” and “Victim.” ALL OTHER REASONS ARE A PERSONAL AFFRONT TO ME AND THE SACRED LEGACY OF MAD MAX, WHOSE HAUNTED EMOTIONAL EMPTINESS I RELATE TO ON A VERY DEEP LEVEL DESPITE THE FACT THAT MAD MAX WATCHED HIS FAMILY DIE IN A HOPELESS FUTURE HELLSCAPE AND THE WORST THING TO EVER HAPPEN TO ME WAS THAT SOME GIRLS SAID THEY DIDN’T WANT TO BUMP UGLIES BACK WHEN I WAS A TEEN.”

It’s… *wipes away a tear*… it’s such glorious, glorious parody.

I haven’t seen it yet because a friend forbade me to until his birthday, so a bunch of us are getting together on Thursday night to see it.

I am hurting from not seeing it. HURTING.

So I plan on buying two tickets, both to support the movie, and because the theater owner is closing the theater for my friend’s bday.