An Ending...?

Tuesday, June 18th, 2013 09:32 pm
retsuko: (fierce!)
Yebisu and I watched "Mama", which is an excellent suspense film... except for the last fifteen minutes, at which point the plot overbalances, the story slips into slo-mo, and all the buildup from the previous story evaporated into no scary payoff and a very clumsy set-up for a sequel. (I say 'suspense' on purpose because while there were a few jump scares, the story was more atmospheric and creepy than genuinely terrifying.) In fact, the whole ending reminded me of an RPG where the players are suddenly dithering about what to do, and the storyteller is too kind to step in and make some action happen, or hopes that they'll find another solution to the problem altogether. Anyway, this wasn't the first horror movie to dash my hopes like this; Splice was another where the whole equation fell completely apart, to a ludicrous and embarrassing degree.

So, I started to wonder: what's the most satisfying way to end a horror movie? How would I have ended "Mama" in particular? There's nihilistic approach of "everyone dies," which sometimes makes sense, sometimes not, and I don't think would have worked well in this storyline. There's also the magical "everything's fixed!" method, but that would have been equally unsatisfying, given the set-up the film had presented. I started to think of great horror movie endings, and all I could come up with off the top of my head was the twist "gotcha!" at the end of the excellent Korean horror movie "A Tale of Two Sisters", which I don't want to give away here, but was so good that I thought about the movie for weeks afterwards. The ending of "Cabin in the Woods" is certainly... uh, definitive, for lack of a better word. Horror stories are some of the most difficult to end, simply because the audience's expectations are going to be so high, and the permutations of the conclusion to the story will radically change people's perception of the movie as a whole, whereas with other genres, I think there's a little more leeway.

But now I'm curious: what's your favorite horror movie ending? Least favorite? Spoilers are fine. I'm far more interested about what makes a horror plot successful than preserving my knowledge of a few movies/TV shows.
retsuko: (don't like where)
So, as everyone may or may not know, LJ has implemented new commenting format and in some formats, the subject lines in comments are gone, or don't display the way they used to. Of course, when changes are implemented here, everyone usually kicks up a fuss and then gets used to the new system, but this time, a large number of people (mostly people in fandom circles and RPs) are making noise about jumping ship. This change will definitely stop some communities from existing, as well as make many, many others much more difficult to read. What really irks me is the way this change was handled: the Russian programmers came up with the changes, blogged about them in Russian, and then released limited, vague language about them on the English-language [ profile] news community.* I also don't like the timing; close enough to a major holiday block of time when many users are away from their computers and therefore unable to protest.** The final straw has been that the LJ Staff refuses to acknowledge the complaints about this change and, apparently, has given a workaround option that is only temporary.

Anyway, this whole situation is depressing to me because it's the same sort of B.S. that drove me away from Open Diary about ten years ago. The site staff stopped responding to any sort of comments and collected their money while trolls ran rampant and users bitched. I forget what finally caused me to shut down my account over there, but whatever it was, I moved over here and haven't looked back. Up until now, I'd been very loyal to LJ, recommending it to friends considering blogging, and giving it a not insignificant amount of money over the years. But this move bothers me, because it's as if the opinions of the people who use the site mean nothing, and that nothing we ask for will get done. This seems like a spectacularly poor business model.

What this means is that I'm probably jumping ship. Not immediately, of course; I've made too many friends here and am part of quite a few communities that I enjoy reading/participating in to just suddenly leave. But after the holidays are over and the dust has settled, I will almost certainly be moving full-time over to DW, and be looking to Blogger or Blogspot for an independent site for my public entries. To that end, if anyone has any recommendations for services like that, I'd be very interested in hearing them.

*I'm also rather appalled that apparently said programmers have made public posts in which they say people "had better" get used to the changes, with the implication of "how dare they complain?"

**This practice reminds me of the way that UBC "negotiated" with the TA's Union by setting the meeting time with the administration at 7AM on the first day of spring break. Reportedly, the administration was angry when TA Union representatives actually showed up.

Movie Walk Out!

Wednesday, July 13th, 2011 08:49 am
retsuko: (eels in the photobooth)
There's an interesting essay over on The Onion's A.V. Club page about whether you should be able to ask for a refund from a theater if you don't like the movie. I've never, ever walked out of a movie, although I have received refunds and free tickets from a theater when there were projector problems (in the case of one of the "The Mummy" films, the movie was so bad anyway that the projector breaking down didn't really bother me; in the case of "Doubt", I did notice a strange shadow on the screen throughout the whole film, and was pleased that the manager of the theater was waiting at the exit, freebie tickets in hand and apology at the ready.)

There have certainly been movies that I wanted to walk out of, but didn't do so because I was with someone else. For example, "Event Horizon" was awful and gross, but I was with a friend who didn't seem bothered by the content, so I just waited for it to be over. (After the movie, a guy in front of us was going on and on about how great it had been, and my friend and I walked to our car, silent. After a long while, she said, "I wish I could have seen the movie he saw, because it sounded really cool.") "Mortal Combat 2" was so laughably terrible that I couldn't take seriously at all; it also helped that the theater was filled with drunken frat boys who kept screaming "MORTAL COMBAAAAATTTT!!!" at every conceivable opportunity. The film itself was horrifically stupid, but the viewing atmosphere was fabulous. And the part of me that doesn't like hyper-violence wishes I had walked out of "Kill Bill, Part 1", because, well, I just can't un-see things.

But, in general, I feel like asking for a refund from the theater itself is counter-productive. The staff didn't make the film; they're just showing it to you. You're paying for the opportunity to sit in the theater and watch a movie, not comment on its content. If you want to vote with your dollars, shouldn't you have already done so before walking into a movie? There are plenty of reviews out there that will tell you if the film is your cup of tea, and even though I think the ratings system is deeply flawed, at least it gives you some indication of what you're about to see. But perhaps I am overthinking it. I know that some people just walk into a movie, judging it by its poster and crossing their fingers. Do they get a refund if they don't like the content?

[Poll #1761434]

I try to come up with a straight answer to this and keep going around in circles. Say there was a scene in the movie that you were utterly unprepared for, even after doing research and reading reviews; would that warrant a refund demand? And how soon is said refund demand appropriate--10 minutes into the movie? 20? The end? There's a detail of the social contract here that I'm definitely confused about.

In all honesty, there are other matters that I feel far more inclined to complain about at the theater, most notably the exceedingly overpriced popcorn and candy. And, then, of course, there are the movies that I WISH I could have walked out of, because they were unpleasant ("American Beauty"--how I despise that film) or boring ("Meet Joe Black" = UGH). Anyway, given how rarely I get to theaters now, I hope never to walk out of a movie and plan to do my review-reading homework as diligently as possible.
retsuko: (cleaning cat)
In cleaning up the room that will soon become Baby's, I've been making drastic cuts to the manga collection. Is anyone interested in some of the Kodansha bilingual comics I brought back from Japan with me? I have:

The Tale of Genji, Vols. 1&2;
Card Captor Sakura, Vols. 1-6;
Kindaichi Case Files, Vols. 1-6 (I *think*; I need to go back and check); and
GTO, Vols. 1-3 (This is the translation done by the British guy where Onizuka-sensei calls the gang of motorcycle thugs "you blokes", which is either the funniest or the worst translation I've ever seen. My interpretation wobbles back and forth.)

Obviously, I'm perfectly happy to send these on, although if you feel like donating in any way for them, that's fine, too. And, if there's any interest, I'd be happy to make a list of my VHS anime tapes when that time comes along (which will likely be very soon.)
retsuko: (lost no evil)
There's a fabulous "pre-season" write-up for "Lost" here at the Onion A.V. Club. Noel Murray has recently rewatched the previous five seasons and has a number of witty and intelligent observations about the show in general. Scroll down the page, and there's an eight-minute video recap of all the action that's taken place so far, minus flash-backs and -forwards.

Murray speculates about the season to come, and has a number of questions that he wants answered.

Whatever happened to the Oceanic 815 stewardess Cindy, and the kids Zach and Emma?

I suspect we will never find this out. There are actually a number of minor characters who I'm very curious about, but I don't think the writers have enough time left to deal with them properly; I shudder to suspect that maybe the writers aren't good enough to answer all those minor people questions when they've let them dangle so terribly in the past. The bigger question, of course, is why were these characters important in the first place? Hell, we know why children were so important to the Others now, but why squirrel the kids away way back in Seasons 1 & 2, only to be all open about them later?

Who are The Others, and what is their purpose? How vast is their reach into off-island affairs? How do they get on and off the island so easily? Who the hell is Richard Alpert?

Please, Lost writers, if you answer no other questions with this final season, answer these!

Is Locke actually special, or has he just been a pawn all this time?

This question could be answered pretty quickly and simply, and I bet it's a small reward we'll get in the first few episodes. OTOH, depending on the writers' willingness to answer the previous set of questions, it could get tied up in innumerable plot complications.

The questions I add to this list are:

* What is the Smoke Monster? Is it an actual monster, or a scientifically explainable phenomenon as the writers have claimed in the past? And where's it been hanging out all this time? (I saw a funny fanvid recently of a Doctor Who/Lost crossover, where Smokey was actually one of the Weeping Angels, just in different form. While it would never work, it's a fun answer to contemplate.)

* Are forces on the Island (well, Islands, plural, really) controlled by those with strong willpower? I think that Ben was in charge for so long because he was focused and purposeful; but then Locke came along and he was more focused and purposeful, and the Island appeared to choose him over Ben.

If we could answer any or some of the above questions, I would be very grateful. But, as Murray observes,

"I’ve had a blast watching Lost, and I trust that the final season will be entertaining at times and frustrating at others. (Such is the appeal of the show; it’s fun to get mad at it sometimes.) I've never been one to get overly dismayed by the notion that the Lost writers have improvised a lot of the show on the fly. There's a place on TV for the kind of pre-planned, tightly controlled narrative (as seen on The Wire, Breaking Bad, Mad Men, etc.), but the trade-off is that those kinds of shows are often slow-paced and largely uneventful on any given week. I like that the Lost writers think about what will entertain and surprise an audience from episode to episode, even if that means introducing elements that that prove to be dead-ends. As a pastime, I certainly have no complaints about Lost."

This sums up very well my attitude about this show at this point. Since there's no way the writers can wrap everything up, I just hope they tell a good story, one that's reasonably connected to what proceeded it and that answers, hopefully, more than a few of the big questions. I've had such a good time watching this show, and it's not been a guilty pleasure in the slightest (unlike that one season of Survivor I watched from beginning to end and felt terrible about afterwards). Lost has consistently delivered quality debate material, compelling characters, and I'm glad that the writers have enough foresight to see that a definite end point is a stronger place to be than syndication.
retsuko: (Time Lady)
Last night, when I was at book group, I found myself looking at the shelf of "show spin-off" style books and wondering how to deal with the content in them. For example, if I bought an "Angel" novel, would I treat the information included within as canon in the Buffy universe? If [ profile] yebisu9 reads the Timothy Zahn "Terminator" prequel, can he expect to see characters/information/plot elements turn up in the forthcoming movie? (And, if they do, was it really an original idea of Zahn's, or something he was paid to include?) And do these works become part of the overall canon mythology of a creative work, if they're not written by the original author(s)? Or are they just glorified, officially sanctioned fanfiction? I'm sure Lee Goldberg would have his own ideas, but I wanted to hear yours.

[Poll #1388685]

For the record, I'm not talking here about "The Story of the Movie!" books here; I'm talking about character-driven novels such as Splinter of the Mind's Eye (an excellent book that I am happy to consider Star Wars canon). Does quality have a part to play in this as well?
retsuko: (plothole?)
OK, picture the situation: you're a poor girl who's grown up with a rich guy, and now as an adult you have feelings for him, but you're not sure what to do. Meanwhile, the King is ill, and you're the only one who has a cure that can help him. The King promises you anything in return and you ask to name your husband, and it's your childhood friend. He reacts badly, says that he thinks of you like a sister, but the King threatens him with banishment if he doesn't say yes. Eventually, your guy says yes, but imposes a whole lot of conditions and then runs off to fight a war, leaving you behind.

[Poll #1238251]

Guess which option Shakespeare's heroine choose? The least practical and most roundabout one of those three: )


This trip to the Globe was preceeded by dinner at the Prado, where I had a chocolate souffle cake so delicious that I actually found myself saying OM NOM NOM NOM aloud. :)
retsuko: (mucha)
The new Watchmen trailer is up here at Apple.

It certainly does look good, but then again, any trailer can, with a little snappy editing and some well-recorded theme music. I find two things a bit off-putting, though:

1) The only major star in this picture is Billy Crudup. How will the marketing campaign for the film go, and who will it target, without the obvious draw of a major Hollywood player? I wonder if the studio will go for something incredibly low-key, almost the "instant cult" route.

2) The tag-line "From the most celebrated graphic novel of all time" appears about halfway through. Is "Watchmen" really the most celebrated graphic novel? Of all time? I would argue that while "Watchmen" is a highly influential work, there are other, more beloved works that rightly deserve that accolade. ("Maus" and some of the Tintin books come to mind--but I could still be half-asleep.) And I almost hate to say this, but I have always thought of this work as the book that boyfriends press their comic-disliking girlfriends to read.

But am I crazy? Is this indeed the greatest graphic novel of all time? What does everyone else think?
retsuko: (inu-what?!)
To my friends who have seen the "Death Note" live action movie: is it worth seeing on the big screen?

And is it worth paying $11 a ticket to do so, or should I just Netflix it and be done?

Is the movie disappointing, compared to the manga?

I was pretty excited to see that AMC is showing it in May, but then the preview looked really convoluted and I thought I might want to get some outside perspective before I bought anything.

Thanks in advance!

Books Podcast?

Friday, February 15th, 2008 08:28 am
retsuko: (book love)
Can anyone recommend to me a podcast that focuses on books and publishing, comes out about once a week (every day is too often for me), about 45 minutes long or so, that is reasonably entertaining?

Exercise really is more fun when you've got something interesting to listen to.

Stamp Rally

Tuesday, February 12th, 2008 12:49 pm
retsuko: (all ok!)
So, as of May 1st, the postage rates will increase again. This is incredibly frustrating to me because I just bought a lovely set of 20 Tiffany stained glass stamps, and I'm still working on using up my 39 centers! I don't want to have to sort out the buying of 1-cent stamps. Ordinarily, it would take me about 6 months to work through the 20-stamp sheet. So, I propose that as many people as are interested and I exchange letters/recipes/interesting articles/funny cartoons/cards/notes/whatever strikes your fancy in an effort to use up our stamps. I know I've proposed stuff like this in the past and gotten very little interest back, and I know everyone's busy. So, I want to emphasize that there is no pressure to participate, and if you do participate, there is no pressure to exchange soul-baring, poignant letters that will be treasured for generations (although those are awesome, too). Just do what you can, but get rid of those stamps!

Who's with me?! *waves stamp rally flag about*

(I'm perfectly happy to exchange with overseas/Canadian folks as well, as the overseas postage will go up, too.)

EDIT: This doesn't just have to be for Valentine's Day, either. I won't get rid of all of these stamps for quite some time. (I just found half a sheet of Marvel superheroes!) So I'm hoping to extend this through March/April.
retsuko: (procrastinate!)
The good part about being a student is that occasionally, classes are cancelled, and you feel like you've won the lottery. Hence, all my extra writing and general good cheer today.

Recently, my Mom and I were talking about origami and she mentioned the folded fortune tellers that I made (and she had made, when she was my age) when I was in elementary school. She wanted to know what those were called, and all I could think of was "fortune teller". But then, a moment later, I remembered hearing them called "cootie catchers" by a friend of mine from Iowa, and I wondered if this were a regional thing. So...

[Poll #1133088]

I used to love these things, especially writing my own snarky "fortunes" like, "You will die tomorrow" and "You will marry a snail." And there were the friends who would drive me crazy by taking forever going through the letters/numbers/colors on the inside and outside over and over again... Ah, sweet nostalgia. ^-^;;

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