retsuko: (spoilers!)
Netflix's very careful, non-spoilery summary: "The new starship Enterprise and its crew's first mission to explore the mystery surrounding the creation of Far Point Station on the planet Deneb IV."

There are two elements of this opener, one of which involves Q putting Picard & Co. on trial as proxies for the human race for crimes against... humanity? The universe? Crabgrass? Or something. (This part of the episode plays out like the worst job interview ever, complete with crazy outfits and impossible questions.) The other involves (obviously) the "mystery" of Far Point station, where everything is built to exact StarFleet specifications by some ~*~mysterious~*~ means and everything that people want keeps magically appearing. I use the sarcastic tildes and stars above because the idea that people (especially Star Fleet engineers) would dismiss this magical perfection as "just a coincidence" when they know that the planet doesn't have the materials to do this is ludicrous. The opening exposition dialogue between Riker and Dr. Crusher is really odd in this respect. My mental summary was:

Riker: Everything's too weirdly perfect here!
Crusher: LOL, you're such a suck-up.
Riker: But, APPLES!
Crusher: If only this cloth had an ugly pattern.
Shopkeeper: (eerie stare)
Riker: BUT!
Crusher: Whoa, this cloth has an ugly pattern!
Wesley: That pattern wasn't there before!
Riker: See?! Something weird--
Crusher: It's just a coincidence. Good luck with that sucking up while I reveal my angtsy past.

Seriously, StarFleet doesn't seem like an organization which would ignore weird coincidences, especially not on planets where it wants to build a permanent base. Of course, there's an explanation: Spoilers, just in case. )

The solving of this mystery leads to the other part of the episode, which is Q's trial for humanity, in a courtroom that's rumored to be modeled on one in the year 2079, after some event called "The Atomic Horror." It appears to be canon that ST:TNG's working model for our immediate future is that Mad Max does happen at some point, and that armies drug up their soldiers to get them to perform... better? Run faster towards their deaths? Or something. The courtroom is filled with people who look like they're all in a community theater production of "Monty Python and the Holy Grail" and Q has this awesome scissor lift chair that I noted as, "must own." Q and Picard have a snarky battle of words; Q uses his infinite cosmic powers to ice Lt. Yar like he's Mr. Freeze in an old Batman episode; and while this is all very dramatic, it's weird sequence of events. The pacing is really odd, with a lot of reaction shots from all the characters involved, and they all look awkward and grouchy.

This leads me to my other area of surprise in the rewatch: everyone is awkward and grouchy around each other. More spoilers! )

There is something interesting character building that I had forgotten: Geordi, for example, reveals that using his visor means that he can effectively see, but that he's in pain most of the time, and he's not going to let Dr. Crusher meddle with his brain to deal with that pain if it means he can't do his job or be himself. Geordi is a total badass. I also liked the revelations between Crusher and Picard, even if the entire tone was awkward; it still felt right, given what they'd been through together. Data and Riker's first meeting was pretty nice, too.

Awesome-est part of the episode: DeForest Kelly! And Majel Barrett Roddenberry's familiar voice.

Signs it's not the future:
* Picard orders the Enterprise to cease all internal communications in order to fool Q; he says they should use "print outs" instead. ZOMG.
* The lighting in this episode is very odd: sort of florescent, but weirdly dark in patches.

Signs that it's the future:
* Cloth is sold in cylinders, not in bolts! THE FUTURE!
* The Enterprise's elevator technology is YEARS ahead of ours. Years, people.
* Far Point station is in the form of a city with a pointy spire at its center. Pointy cities = always the future!
* People are always poking at wall computers, although it's never clear what they're doing (except for the time when Riker uses the computer to find Data in the Holodeck.) Wall computers! THE FUTURE!

Next time: Everyone gets some virus that makes them act drunk; Lt. Yar goes to that planet where she has to fight some guy's wife. This should be good.
retsuko: (hugs)

Snow White and the Huntsman: This was surprisingly good! The design aspects of this production, from costumes to sets to creatures, were all excellent; there is a strong sense of imagery and purpose that runs through the whole thing. I'm actually a little sad that I didn't get to see this on the big screen. Charlize Theron is magnetic. The aura she creates for herself in this role was like a dying star, burning bright and dangerous, but always just on the edge of turning into a black hole. Everything that surrounded or clothed her was beautiful and pointy. (Her wedding dress, with its exoskeletal shoulders, was probably the best example of this, but the raven cape was pretty great, too.) I also liked the way the story shifted between different character's perspectives at pivotal moments, suggesting that meaning and interpretation was everything in the world, and giving greater heft to the idea that power is not what it seems. There is one scene where the filmmakers borrowed a little too much from "Mononoke Hime", but perhaps there are others who argue that they borrowed a little too much from Lord of the Rings as well, so maybe we should give them the benefit of the doubt. Making a fantasy movie--and one that is a retelling of an already-told, multi-versioned story--without repeating anyone is pretty damn difficult these days, and these filmmakers did their best. See this on the night before your D&D game, to get in the mood.

50/50: It's so tempting to snark away this movie by saying I only enjoyed half of it, but that's the truth. Half of this movie was touching, even a bit of a tear-jerker, while the other half featured the main character and his douchebag best friend behaving selfishly and thoughtlessly. I think if Joseph Gordon-Levitt wasn't such a likable guy and brought a lot of humanity to the character he was playing, I would have given up fairly quickly. The story, which is every young person's secret nightmare (perfectly healthy guy gets diagnosed with surprise!genetic!rare!cancer, from which there is only a 50% recovery rate) careens between genuine sentiments (I dare anyone to watch the scene where he's going into surgery and his mother doesn't want to let go of him, without crying) and frat house highjinks (medicinal weed=score!). This film read almost like a guy's "chick flick": yes, there are feelings that get talked about, but at no point do these feelings infringe on the main character's "rights" to do whatever the hell he wants. There's also one alarming plot point that pops up at the end that sets off all sorts of warning bells on my ethics radar. All this said/snarked, the virtuoso acting jobs from Angelica Huston and JGL are worth watching, and this might be a good movie to show to young guys who need to learn to empathize, or gain perspective that their lives could be a hell of a lot more precarious. (If anyone has seen it, and wants to rag with me about the scene with the painting, I will happily do so, though. That pissed me off beyond measure.)

On TV:

The current season of Adventure Time, with spoilers up through "I Remember You": This is the best show I'm watching right now; it has the most compelling characters and is bursting with original ideas and jokes. )
retsuko: (FTW!)
In no special order:

1) Anne Hathaway could have handled the hosting duties entirely by herself and I would not have noticed James Franco's absence. Her costume changes alone were made of awesome and win, but her charisma, musical talent, and wit were miles better than anything Franco could come up with.*

2) Hailee Steinfeld was robbed! Robbed, I say! *grumbles*

3) Yay, King's Speech! It's nice to see a movie that is simultaneously crowd-pleasing and well-made be honored for its many accomplishments. Out of all the awards it received, though, I was most pleased with the screenplay win. For your work to finally be recognized after years and years of plugging away... I imagine it must be quite validating.

4) Fashion: I would like to buy Hilary Swank's dress. I will wear it everyday. When I am doing laundry, going to the grocery store, teaching, etc. etc. Helen Mirren looked amazing (as per usual) and made me look forward to getting older and more graceful. On the flip side: what was going on with Cate Blanchett and Marisa Tomei? Both of them appeared to be wearing outfits where two dresses were at war with one another. But in dress wearing (as in Highlander) there can be only one!

5) I wish "True Grit" had garnered more awards, but... :(

6) Whoever put those montages of the 10 Best Picture nods together had a monumental task of crazy... and while she/he did the best he/she could, it still didn't make a whole hell of a lot of visual sense.

7) Why do the shorts always play for one week ONLY at the tiny art house theater that is almost impossible to visit without excessive planning in advance? Couldn't these be shown in the bigger theaters? Because I would go. I am curious what these films are like, and just as in an anthology of short stories, you learn a lot about the craft when you have the chance to see it in miniature.

8) On Friday, my Mom and I will have our annual fashion snark session! Wheeee! :D

* Is it just me, or does Mr. Franco seem perpetually stoned?

Worst Band Names, 2010

Wednesday, January 5th, 2011 07:42 am
retsuko: (music!)
The Onion A.V. Club's list of the worst band names of 2010 is here! As usual, there's some brilliantly crazy and stupid naming jobs:

* Stop with the unicorns, already! As much as my inner 4th grade girl's heart thrills every time she sees the word 'unicorn', it doesn't lend any "badass factor" to your band name, just an arched eyebrow of 'O RLY'. Examples:

Sex Unicorn (... what?)
Unicorn Basement (... sort of what?)

* Unintentionally funny? It's hard to tell anymore, since one of the bands claims that their life's ambition with their naming choice was to be featured in the Worst Band Names list. Regardless, intentional or not, examples:

Dangermuffin (I'm picturing a little English muffin, dressed up like Danger Mouse, threatening some bad guy and getting stepped on.)
Feng Shui Ninjas (This would make an awesomely crazy one-shot comic book, along with the Sushi Police.)
Begin By Gathering Supplies (... OK. And then?)
Piano Fondue (Is this a dinner theater battle band?)
Federal! State! Local! (It's the exclamation points that make this one work.)

* Second Person: You're not sure, but you think this is a bad trend for band names:

Kill You in the Face (... whut.)
Music Hates You (For listening to this band?)
You Might Think We're Sharks (Oh. I was thinking you were killer whales, but I'm glad you set me straight on that.)

Anyway, enjoy. Warning: Good for hours of time wasteage!

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