retsuko: (yay doctor!)
The San Diego Opera has been in a state of flux for the past few months or so, due to a lot of financial problems and management issues. A few months ago, the Board announced they were closing outright at the end of this season (despite having booked next season and sending out promotional material.) Great outrage followed, and a lot of fundraising has ensued, including this awesome opportunity to see the classic Marx Brothers film "A Night at the Opera" with live musical back-up, with all proceeds going to benefit the opera. I would adore seeing this movie on the big screen except that the 19th is the last night of work for me. *swoons dramatically* Still, I share this because a) it's awesome, and b) I wish more organizations would put together fun, innovative fundraisers like this. I would probably give away a lot more of my money!

(Only disadvantage: seeing this movie on the big screen means that you can't fast-forward through the insipid love song between the two romantic leads, which is usually what I do. Ah, well, nonetheless awesome.)
retsuko: (moko sake!)
I finally got around to seeing The Dark Knight Rises on DVD and for the most part, I really enjoyed it. It's certainly not my Dad's Batman movie; it was violent and some fight scenes went on so long that I contemplated getting a cup of tea started because I didn't think I would miss much. However, the rest of the story was meaty enough, and the roles that some of characters got were more intriguing than previous installments; I especially liked Alfred's monologue about what he wanted for Bruce's life. Hands down, though, the best part of the whole thing was Anne Hathaway as Catwoman who was perfectly cast as a mysteriously aligned figure of minor chaos, and later ally.

My minor quibbles with the film have to do with some major lighting continuity errors (the final sequence alternates between day and night and later that same day, but all supposed to be on the same day, in the course of about... I don't know, an hour or so?) and the motorcycle/Bat-Pod thing that Batman and then Catwoman drives. On one hand, I can see how it's the coolest of all the gadgets and machines, with its unique turn capabilities, speed, and rocket missiles. On the other, it looked like a Swedish ergonomic desk chair had been glued onto a set of large wheels. When Batman was riding it, it was just goofy-looking (his cape didn't flow the way I think it was supposed to), but when Catwoman was on it, I began to wonder if the entire vehicle had been designed simply to show off her ass. (Because it sure wasn't designed to be ergonomically comfortable.)
retsuko: (bookshelf)
In Books:

The Wordy Shipmates, by Sarah Vowell: Who were the Puritans, other than the image of them I have from elementary school history class, a bunch of white people in buckled shoes with funny hats? Vowell aims to answer this in great detail and traces the Puritans' influence in modern America to great effect, both sobering and funny. Her light touch of self-deprecation and truthfulness adds to the narrative in wonderful ways, yet again affirming my suspicion that I would really love to meet her for coffee someday.

Alice in Sunderland, by Brian Talbot: OK, full disclosure: it wasn't until halfway through this book that I realized that Brian Talbot was maybe pulling a fast one on me, that maybe, just maybe, Sunderland didn't exist. And, ironically enough, it came from a part of the text where Talbot himself wonders if Sunderland is even real. At that moment, I put down the book and FINALLY read the blurb on the back where it presented the idea, from the beginning, that Sunderland might be an invented place. What a fool I felt at that moment! But then I considered the idea from the angle that Talbot had done so well with his invented history that I *had* completely fallen for it, thus proving one of book's theses: History is stories built upon stories and whether they're true or not, some of them take on a life of their own and spring up into history, unbidden, like weeds. Then I still felt a little stupid, but not as much as before.

Anyway, Alice in Sunderland is a dense and beautiful text and highly worth a look from anyone with an interest in history, fantasy, fairy tales, military history, Alice in Wonderland and its author, comic narrative, and the evolution of British society. (One Talbot's strongest points is when he makes a stirring anti-racist, pro-immigration statement, citing right-wing parties in Britain who self-admittedly twist the "too many immigrants" myth into fodder for their racist grandstanding.) Over the course of the book, Talbot examines every wrinkle of the Alice story and the popular myth that surrounds it; the way stories have shaped history, both world and local, and the way that being a storyteller influences his own view of the world. This was a slow read, but it was a spectacular and thought-provoking one that I'm sure I'll be chewing over for weeks and months to come. (I.e., the best kind.)

Honestly, if Talbot, Vowell, and Kate Beaton would get together and write about history, they would be my OT3 of history-related AWESOME.

In Movies:

Food, Inc.: I really wanted to like this film, but I got bogged down in annoyance over the poor presentation of the argument and over-reliance on emotional appeals rather than presentation of logical evidence of why the factory/food industrial complex is harming America. There's a lot of stuff to get angry about in this story (the sequence with Monsanto and its patented soybeans is one of the most depressing and wrong applications of law I've ever seen) but the movie ends up being spread a little thin in places. I wish the editors of the film could have picked and chosen a little better and focused on one or two stories. Still, an important film, and one I'm glad I saw.

Underworld: Rise of the Lycans: MST3K provided the two quotations I need to summarize this movie (or the half of it we watched before we got bored and wandered off to watch The Daily Show.)

On Bill Nighy's "acting" in this production: "C'mon, skull, pop out of my skin!" (I mean, dude, seriously. He had these weirdo, almost glow-in-the-dark contacts, and I know he was going for Mysterious!Intense!Vampire, but damned if he didn't look like he was trying to learn pyrokinesis from a correspondence course.)

On the central conflict and love story: "Y'know what makes this movie so exciting? The fact that we care about the characters." (There was nothing to care about in this movie, except possibly some special effects. However, even those got boring after a while.)

The Men Who Stare at Goats: So preposterous that it must be true, but maybe it isn't? I don't know. I've read a lot of unkind reviews of this movie (the chief accusation has been that it's "smug") and I'm not sure what the reviewers were expecting when they went in. Did they want an insightful analysis of modern military morale? Or maybe some logic? Given that the final revelation of this story has to do with a mass orgy of LSD-inspired crazyness at a secret para-military base somewhere in Iraq, I don't think you're going to get either one of those two. But it was so crazy that it was tremendously entertaining and Clooney and MacGregor are awfully easy on the eyes. There are some very funny running jokes about Jedi warriors. And there's the world's cutest kitten and puppy (granted, their screen time is comparatively short). It was not a waste of time, and I did not find it particularly smug. Preposterous, yes. Worst movie of the year? By no means.
retsuko: (FTW!)
In Comics:

Empowered, Volume 5, by Adam Warren: Normally, I turn to this for superhero parody and the touching relationship between the title character and her lover. In this volume, I was surprised by the gravitas of the final story. Warren knows how to set up true character drama--it's everywhere in this book, from the dialogue between the heroine and her nemesis, to the little visual asides that simultaneously skewer and celebrate superhero comics. This volume handily picks up from the previous one and takes the plot in different and difficult directions. Warren is a fine artist/satirist, and fans of his work will not be disappointed.

Madame Xanadu: Exodus Noir, 1 of 5, Wager/Kaluta: Amy Reed appears to be taking a hiatus from the pencils. Kaluta's work is very Rackham-esque and the illustrative style lends a nice touch to the story, especially the parts set in 1940, where the pictures feel like old photographs and the pacing of the story is consistent with plot. The weak point appears to be in the second half of the story, which takes place in 1493 and introduces a revelation about the main character's sexuality that reads more like a plot device than honest-to-goodness identity. Hopefully, the remaining four issues of the story will pick up the scattered pieces of the first issue.

In Anime:

Gurren Lagen: "Let's reject common sense and make the impossible possible!" This is the most goofily macho anime series I've seen in ages. It's a RPG as imagined by a bunch of hyper-caffeinated 13-year-olds who seem to have no idea that the words "manly combining" function on more levels than just the one they imagine. And it's such tremendous fun! I don't usually give two figs about giant robots, but this is just entertaining enough that I just might switch over to the dark, macho side might.
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. :)

May 2016

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