sechan19: Photo of me in a Spider-man crop trop. (Default)
165 years for us; one year for Neptune. Welcome back, buddy.

Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) has got a debt limit plan. Ezra Klein breaks down how said plan is actually both politically savvy and geared toward ending a major threat to the American economy. A number of could-care-less politicians are, predictably, already against it.

North Dakota isn't actually really a state, but they're going to fix that real soon. Not before the rest of us crack the hell up, though.

A man is killed in Yellowstone after encountering a mama grizzly and her cubs. I realize that bear threats are pretty slim (my father and I encountered a brown bear and cubs once in Yosemite National Park and escaped unscathed), but this is still an excellent illustration of one of the many reasons why I don't particularly care for the great outdoors. Bugs and a lack of running water are the other key reasons. ;)

If Superman was real, this is what we'd do with him.

The recall process in Wisconsin is ongoing, and Republicans there are naturally doing their utmost to swing things in their favor. But so far it doesn't seem to be working. Maybe there's some hope for this place yet.

But, then again, maybe not. The recent freak-out over Michelle Obama having a calorie-heavy meal argues for the continued dominance of the histrionic elements of American culture.

Buster Keaton: Bangable Dude in History. Me-ow!

And finally, here's a cool review of the film I went to see in New York this past weekend: Yakuza Weapon.
sechan19: Photo of me in a Spider-man crop trop. (Default)
Caryn Rivadeneira over at ThinkChristian talks about things that Christians can appreciate about the Slutwalk trend. She suggests that violence against women can occur no matter what a woman wears (and not as a result of it) and that ending said violence is a moral imperative that all Christians should advocate for. That's my kind of believer.

At the same time, John McWhorter over at The Root thinks people should stop using the Bible to justify homophobia. After all, he notes, it used to be used to justify racism, and we've managed to move on from that. (For the most part, in my opinion. At the very least, it's harder to get away with using the Bible in such a way in public. Privately, I think a lot of that kind of nonsense still goes on.)

After fifteen-plus years in production, Pixar is finally putting out a film with a female as the main protagonist. And about darn time, too. (Note: don't bother throwing Elastigirl, or Jessie, or Dory at me. I said "main" protagonist.)

The Art Newspaper explores the question of whether or not the release of Ai Weiwei means that the Chinese government is easing up on its policy against dissent. And the answer is no.

Wanna learn the history of English in ten minutes? It's a lot of fun. (Watch out for that guy with the axe!)

Linda Holmes breaks down the recent furor over the Oxford University PR department's decision to do away with the Oxford comma. Holmes does a really good job of explaining why the Oxford comma makes sentences so much cleaner and clearer by its presence, and also of embodying the silly attachment that all of us language nerds have to peculiar pieces of grammar while pointing out just how not silly attachment to Oxford commas is. I'm an Oxford comma girl, myself, you know. In fact, they can have my Oxford commas when they pry them from my cold, dead fingers. 'Nuff said.

Ezra Klein on Amazon's bad sales tax behavior. I imagine a lot of the fuss could be solved if states just got around to passing laws that imposed sales tax for products being purchases by people in their state. Let's see Amazon decide never to sell anything to California because they don't want to pay sales tax.

Evolutionary biologist Mark Chengizi thinks that the wrinkles that develop on wet hands are our body's natural attempt to increase grip capabilities in inclement weather.

Only in Japan will you see a tv commercial wherein businessman sing about the woes of summertime itchy-crotch syndrome.
sechan19: Photo of me in a Spider-man crop trop. (Default)
The socio-political implications of the "Gay Girl in Damascus" hoax, both for the real Syrian LGBT movement and for the stuck-up, self-satisfied, orientalist pricks in the West.

Judge Vaughn Walker's ruling in the matter of Prop 8's legality has been upheld. A US District Court judge has found that Walker showed no signs of prejudice in making his ruling, setting an important and powerful precedent about the fact that the impartiality of LGBT members of the American justice system should not be in question merely on the basis of the fact that they are LGBT.

Feministing presents a concise breakdown on why Michele Bachmann must never become president. (Hint: It's because she's a radical bigot.)

Looking for the perfect summertime food? You'd better eat your beans, boys.

A snapshot of how feminists go to the movies. And for all of you out there who think we don't sneak alcohol into films for the purposes of giggling, gossiping, and generally calling that anti-feminist romantic bullshit out for what it is, I invite you to join [ profile] foxxydancr, [ profile] derrangedferret, and I for the opening of Breaking Dawn: Part One. It will change your whole perspective on shit.

Daily Kos on the tendency of Conservatives to lose track of who poor people actually are. This is an interesting article, but I have one major problem with it. The author of this post notes that most Conservatives are out of touch with reality and therefore not cognizant of the fact that most poor people are children. The implication seems to be that their behavior might therefore be okay if the majority of poor were black or illegal immigrants from Mexico and Central America rather than children. And that's kind of fucked up.

How American film production companies are slowly working their way into the Chinese film market.
sechan19: (lin fengmian)
The problem of revisionist history has been much on the minds of opinionators of late. In the Washington Post, Alexandra Petri weighs in on the Sarah Palin-Paul Revere scandal that has resulted in a flurry of insults, protestations, scoffing, and—most astonishingly—attempts to rewrite the Paul Revere entry on Wikipedia in order to make it correspond to Palin’s somewhat embellished account. In the New York Times, the brilliant Ta-Nehisi Coates examines how the new X-Men film has managed to efface the hot-button racial issues of 1962 that the X-Men—ironically—were largely based on.

In her post, Petri notes that the Palin-Revere situation is but a small piece of the overall tendency of Americans to a) overwhelmingly fudge their history and b) subsequently refuse to face up to the fact that they’ve fudged their history. No one likes to own up to the fact that they don’t know something, and even less people like owning up to the fact that they made a mistake. And this is especially noticeable in the Tea Party era, where a recreated conceptualization of American history has democracy-loving founding fathers running rampant through the streets of old America with a gun in one hand and a copy of the bill of rights in the other.

Of course, we can’t blame it all on the Tea Partiers (no matter how much we want to). Studies have recently shown that the human brain makes decisions about issues within fractions of seconds—and those decisions once made are almost completely impervious to the introduction of dissenting information. The irrationality of the rational processes of the mind are clearly visible in such things as the Birther movement, the belief that abortion leads to breast cancer, the notion that the country can be treated like an individual when it comes to debt management, the idea that women who wear mini-skirts ask for it, the insistence that indie bands can’t make good records once they go major, and the myth of a post-racial society.

This particularly irksome myth of the post-racial society is taken up in Coates’ post. He notes how this subtle denial of historical reality allows people of both dubious and considerable social advancement to claim a superiority that they do not really possess. Racism remains lamentably ingrained in the very fabric and one needs look no farther than Hollywood—the so-called bastion of the liberal-media bias—to see how institutionalized racism continues to permeate us each and every one.

In the first decade of the twenty-first century such films as The Last Airbender and The Prince of Persia (which I fully admit that I enjoyed) have shown us how very far we have yet to go, and these in extremely obvious ways. It would seem that X-Men First Class is showing us something similar, albeit in a far more subtle and insidious way.

And yet, I have to think there is hope. True the mind plays tricks on us all, but perhaps being aware of how the mind works, of how it takes shortcuts that don't suit the society we are now evolving into, can help one to circumvent the system by assessing and changing the process as it happens. If I know that I make snap decisions, in spite of myself, then I'll be better equipped to recognize when I make a snap decision and to back up and try it again. If I know that racism is still so interwoven into my culture that even a story meant to act as a metaphor for racism still reflects and utilizes the inequality that inspired it, then I can call it out and know that we are not there yet and that hard work must still be done.
sechan19: (morisot)
I really, really enjoyed this film. It argues well for the notion that more omnibus films should be made in the west. (Plenty of omnibus films are made in Asia already; in Japan there are usually three or four released a year.)

My favorite segments (in chronological order):
Bastille by Isabel Coixet.
Tour Eiffel by Sylvain Chomet.
Place des fêtes by Oliver Schmitz.
Père-Lachaise by Wes Craven.
Faubourg Saint-Denis by Tom Tykwer.
14e arrondissement by Alexander Payne.

My absolute favorite segment, 14e arrondissment, requires some spoiling. Read on at your own discretion. )

Anyway, I really loved this film.

Bonus favorite sequences:
* During Porte de Choisy, by Christopher Doyle, one of the characters switched into Chinese and I understood every word. I even understood well enough to spot the verbal pun that was being made and to comment on it before the characters in the film did. (This caused my viewing partner, A., to claim that she hates me that much more now.)
* During Quartier de la Madeleine, by Vincenzo Natali, A. and I experienced a simultaneous irrepressible desire to laugh the minute Elijah Wood appeared onscreen. We also both immediately acknowledged that we shouldn't be laughing at him, because he's not really that funny, but that we just couldn't help it--there's just something so adorably laughable about him.
sechan19: (lin fengmian)
The early gangster film supposedly wanted to demonstrate that a lack of virtue led to ignominious death. But in many of the films, it's actually a surfeit of virtue that does the villain in.

Rico, Rocky, Tom Powers, Duke Mantee. They all of them pass up chances to escape their doom solely for the sake of friendship with an often, though not always, sanctimonious figure.

It makes you wonder if people of the thirties really took away the lessons that the Legion of Decency wanted them to.

I'd like to think they didn't.

Not so much because I applaud a lack of virtue, but because I really despise condescension.
sechan19: (butterfly)
Just home from taking in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader and Tron: Legacy back-to-back. I'm sure many people will be going to see either or both of these films soon, so I'll keep my remarks short and spoiler-free.

Dawn Treader was magnificent. The scriptwriters, in their effort to create a more cinematic and cohesive story, managed to craft an even more CS Lewisian tale than CS Lewis originally did, I dare say. The film was breathtakingly beautiful and fluid, and it adhered cleanly to the heart of the book while managing to become something greater. I really hope the film does well and they keep making them. I continue to dream that someone may yet undertake an adaptation of The Last Battle and the much-needed reevaluation of "the problem of Susan." Fingers crossed!

Tron was a very good movie, and I think I need hardly point out that everyone should experience the Tron universe as imagined with 2010 special effects. The filmmakers did an exquisite job of rending the Grid in all its sublime, linear grace. Too bad they didn't devote half as much time to the script. The story was perfectly adequate to the task of visual stimulation, but the wonderful acting of Jeff Bridges made it clear that the film could easily have been a masterpiece if they'd wanted it to be.


Nov. 12th, 2010 11:52 pm
sechan19: (lin fengmian)
Just got back from taking in a showing of RED. It was awesome. Malkovich is the man. Mirren is the uber-man. The Willis is - as ever - The Willis.

The end.
sechan19: (morisot)'d think that when someone begins a film commentary with the statement "most moviegoers only get 40% of a film the first time out" that said commentator was preparing to actually talk about the stuff you might allegedly have missed, but apparently that doesn't always follow.

Just an observation.
sechan19: (kusama)
I realize that in the 1930s and 40s criminals could not be shown to get away with it in the movies. However, in this case I really wish they'd made an exception. Of course, that's the brilliant thing about The Postman Always Rings Twice - that you want them to make an exception.

You see, the murdered man is a selfish, apathetic fool, and the law of the land would have left his wife destitute if she'd tried to leave him honestly. There was no other way. We might even say that society itself had signed his death warrant.

The following zeal of the prosecution to convict can consequently be seen as a reflection of the social misogyny that brought things to such a sorry pass.

And that brings me to my chief irritation: the persistence of film historians in casting the so-called femme fatale as an evil, conniving character who lures the otherwise straight-arrow Joe to his doom.

Such a characterization is particularly improper for Cora Smith, the erstwhile heroine of this piece. In all respects she behaves contrary to how such characters are proclaimed to act. She resists, rather invites, the persistent attention of her "prey," only giving in ultimately out of a kind of desperation that is clearly driven by the realization that her own husband doesn't really want or care for her. She truly comes to love her lover, rather than merely to seek ways of using him for her own ends. And her drive to kill her husband is practically justified by his determination to retire to a good life that involves her waiting on him and his paralyzed sister for the rest of their days - in spite of her obvious dismay at such a prospect.

Seriously, would-be suitors take note: Don't ever make the mistake of thinking I'll be your fucking maid. I'm not saying I'd kill you for it, but you wouldn't want to face that kind of wrath just the same.

In spite of all this, the description of the femme fatale never evolves. She's always evil, always conniving, always a user. And her male counterpart is always caught up, always hoodwinked, always good-at-heart. It's almost as if film historians are still seeking a conviction on the grounds of the same social misogyny that proliferated sixty-five years ago.

And people dare to say we've come a long way.

In a pig's eye.
sechan19: (morisot)
Mom: So, these vampires can't go out in sunlight because they sparkle?
Me: Yep.
Mom: They fucking sparkle?!
Me: Yep.
Mom: [blank stare]
Me: Yep.


Mom: So how long before she starts begging him to change her into a vampire?
Me: Any minute now, but he won't do it because he doesn't want to ruin her life.
Mom: So, he'd rather he wasn't changed? He'd rather be dead than be a monster?
Me: I don't think he spends a lot of time thinking things through to their logical conclusions.


Mom: So if vampires all have special powers, what's the blond girl's power?
Me: ...
Mom: What? She can suck the chrome off a trailer hitch?
Me: Yeah, pretty much.


Mom: Why does that guy want to kill Bella.
Me: Uh, so we can have a plot?
Mom: ...

sechan19: (morisot)
Last night, I kicked off my month-long film noir fest with a screening of Billy Wilder's 1944 classic, Double Indemnity. In addition to viewing the film, which I had never before seen (this time around, I'm going strictly for never-before-seens), I also watched a special about the film and its historical legacy.

There were a number of things that struck me as interesting in the program. First of all, I was surprised by the way that everyone seemed to feel that this film was the progenitor of the noir genre when John Huston's superlative The Maltese Falcon predates it by three years. Is Falcon, then, not a film noir? I find that somewhat hard to believe, frankly. However, as I went over in my mind the things that the film historians and specialists had said about Indemnity, it was clear that the film did indeed flaunt a quality that was original to it.

The Maltese Falcon, though a great noir (and easily my favorite, thus far), is about an exotic adventure. Now, granted, Humphrey Bogart's everyman Sam Spade does get caught up in it, but it is still heavily tinged with the exotic other. The falcon itself is an ancient relic of a far-flung foreign land, and it is brought to the wastes of San Francisco by a rag-tag team of eloquent, otherworldly odd-balls (Peter Lorre, Sidney Greenstreet, Mary Astor).

By contrast, Double Indemnity takes place in the mundane world of Los Angeles and involves the sad and wholly unremarkable denizens of that city: a housewife, an oil worker, an insurance salesman. These are people with everyday nine-to-fives, with boring lives like you and I have. They do not have adventure fall into their laps, but instead seek it out themselves because the similitude of their very lives is suffocating. It's an intriguing difference in tone, to say the least.

But that notion of similitude and boredom brings me to another point that I found interesting. Much is made of the character of Phyllis Dietrichson, who was portrayed by Barbara Stanwyck, and her qualities as a femme fatale. In comparison with her, Fred MacMurray's Walter Neff is seen almost as a victim of her cunning plot. However, I simply cannot read him that way. At the end of the day, he is as bored with life as she is, and he sees in her an opportunity to test his boundaries and perhaps escape the confines of a life that he secretly hates. Stanwyck's vicious housewife is indeed a terrible figure, but her crimes are never really against the man she engages to help her in the plot to kill her husband. He knows the score, and he's in the heist for reasons of his own.

All in all, I liked Double Indemnity a hell of a lot. I'll have to see it again sometime once I've cycled through my store of film noirs to see if I truly consider it definitive. (And, of course, I'll need to re-engage Falcon again to determine if I think its sense of exoticism really acts as that much of a disqualifier when it comes to tracing the origins of the noir genre.)
sechan19: (butterfly)
1) Crock pots.
2) Neighbors who bring Ruben sandwiches to apologize for missing a party.
3) Peter Lorre's performance in Fritz Lang's M. (I always knew Lorre was good, but my god I never knew how good. I'll be mulling over his portrayal of a tormented serial killer for days to come, methinks.)
sechan19: (butterfly) assumes that I would actually rather go see Julia Roberts find herself than see a bunch of hot men in their prime blow some shit up. And it assumes that simply on the basis of the fact that I have a twat instead of a cock.

For the record, guys?

Speaking as a woman:

FUCK chick flicks.

(And fuck you for thinking that about me.)

Viva the bomb.


Jan. 11th, 2010 03:44 am
sechan19: (butterfly)
First, a little bit of "only-in-Japan" for you.

Not content with being the American burger joint in Japan, McDonald's is stepping up its game (*snigger*) with a series of four Big American burgers that will debut over the course of the next three months.

First off, the Texas Burger on January 15th. Then, the New York Burger from the early part of February. The California Burger will follow at the end of February, and the Hawaiian Burger will appear mid-March. Each of these burgers is said to include ingredients that capture the essence of their [ahem] point of origin, and - knowing Japan - each meal will probably cost the soul of your firstborn.

Don't believe me?



In other news, the new trailer for Joe Carnahan's The A-Team - which stars Liam Neeson as Col. John 'Hannibal' Smith - has officially made Teva's "Fuck-Yeah" list.

Check it out here.

There is no plan b, bitches. ;>


Sep. 23rd, 2009 07:15 am
sechan19: (kusama)
Once upon a time, there was a man who wanted to build an outhouse. He measured the space for the outhouse and made exact calculations of the necessary bricks and mortar required to build it. He then bought the bricks and the mortar and built the outhouse. And there was one brick left.

Once upon a time, there was a big man with a filthy cigar and a little old lady with a yappy dog riding a bus. The big man turned to the little old lady and said, "why don't you get rid of that yappy dog!" The little old lady responded, "well, why don't you get rid of that filthy cigar!" And they argued, and they argued, and they argued. Finally, the little old lady became so incensed that she reached over, grabbed the cigar, and threw it out the window. The big man responded by grabbing the dog and throwing it out the window. And they argued, and they argued, and they argued all the way to the final stop. And there was the dog.

And guess what he had in his mouth? )
sechan19: (kusama)
My god, what a brilliant film.

In a sparse, damp prison block one young man stands accused of murdering a fellow inmate. But if he did commit the crime, why? And how did he come to the prison in the first place? How did his victim? What bonds of madness, pain, and self-doubt held them together, and what tore them apart?

Thus lies the foundation of Miike Takashi's mend-bendingly, soul-wrenchingly, super-saturatingly epic psychological drama, Big Bang Love, Juvenile A. At the heart of the film are the performances of Ando Masunobu (the victim) and Matsuda Ryûhei (the assailant) who portray the fragility of warped human minds with elegance, humility, and empathy. More than just a clever murder mystery, this film is a shocking rendering of lives destroyed before they've even begun and of the ways in which destruction is contagious, insidious, and - sometimes - seemingly unstoppable.

Miike brings all his powers of stunning visual prowess to this production, creating a rich tapestry of pulsating visuals that work upon the viewer almost as much as the taut performances themselves. The story itself shuttles back and forth between past and present, delusion and reality, wound and weapon, and ultimately there is no cure for the sickness that permeates. But somehow, the film holds onto a delicate beauty in spite of its tragic poise.

Utterly essential.


Jun. 9th, 2009 07:13 pm
sechan19: (morisot)
Although I have never discounted the artistic value of animated films, until recently I haven't fully explored their potential. That appears to be changing.

I was deeply moved by Pixar's latest offering; moved by its lyrical grace, by its bittersweet tone, by its heartrending vulnerability, by its forthright sense of adventure. More and more, I am discovering in these films the capabilities of expressing sense and emotion beyond the scale of ordinary live-action cinematography... of taking their viewers to realms outside of typical imagination.

The famed Japanese playwright, Chikamatsu Monzaemon (1653-1725), who wrote primarily for the puppet theater, believed his dolls capable of transcending standard human emotion. He felt that because they were not human, they could actually express humanity in a pure form that human beings themselves could never attain. Is animation perhaps the successor to that philosophical viewpoint? UP (and other astonishing films I have seen recently) are beginning to convince me that it is.

This was easily the best film I've seen in ages; I can't wait to see it again.
sechan19: (kusama)
Take a drink anytime...
...Prisoner KSC2-303 swirls his coat.
...someone spits blood.
...someone rolls down a hill.
...someone pulls a gun from nowhere.
...the filter color changes.

PS - moving is teh suck. But I'm nearly done.
sechan19: (kusama)
For some reason, a memory of this film trailer popped into my head and I figured I'd share it. It is, in my opinion, one of the most brilliant film trailers ever produced.


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