The Wicker Man (1973)

The Wicker Man
Directed by Robin Hardy
(number 484)

Not the Nic Cage version!

Sargent Howie comes to Summer Isle to investigate the disappearance of a little girl. The island is totally pagan, and of course, he is in for much more than he expects. I’ve seen this movie several times over the years and I adore it, but it had been at least two years, maybe longer. I couldn’t resist the chance to watch it again if I’m honest.

Can we please talk about how amazing the sequence with Willow trying to seduce the policeman is? Not only is she stunning and the song is bewitchingly pretty, the dancing seductive and absolutely gorgeous.. but there are some fascinating deeper meanings to the sequence. If he had given in and slept with her, against his personal beliefs, he would have been spared from his final destiny.. in a total switch from most horror movies: if he’d slept with the hot girl he wouldn’t have died.

Further from that it’s an amazing image of a sexual woman pursuing what she wants with no shame or hesitation. Of course, in context he’s ‘evil’, a temptress, but the way Britt Eckland performs the scene, it’s pure. How unusual is it to have a female character, honestly and joyfully portrayed as sexual and happy to go after what she wants?

The beetle in the desk, always goes around and round the same way… the little girl is warning the policeman too, that if he looks at things the same way he always has he will surely end up in the trap that is set for him.

The film plays on a few basic human fears: fear of the unknown, personified by the police Sargent himself – his utter distrust for the people around him and his refusal to understand what they are doing, where they’re coming from. People in masks… oh god, don’t even mention people in creepy masks to me, just popping up silently and watching. It’s so unbelievably creepy – knowing someone is there, watching, and having no idea who it is or what they want.

And of course the fear of being alone, abandoned. The Sargent is alone in a strange place with no friends, no one to turn to when things go bad. Pretty visceral stuff, non?

Also I really love the folk music soundtrack. Pretty and catchy soundtracks for the win.

Does it make me love the people?
Yeah it does, in a weird way. I dunno if I can explain why.. except that the Summerislanders all seem so calm and cheerful, and the Sargent is so earnest and righteous. I dunno, probably the wrong kind of movie to ask this about heh.

Bechdel test: No, I don’t believe so. The women speak of course, but always in conversations with either Lord Summerisle or the Sargent or both.

Best line: “The little old beetle goes ’round and ’round. Always the same way, y’see, until it ends up right up tight to the nail. Poor old thing!”

State of Mind: Fuck yeah. Love this film.

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000)

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
Directed by Ang Lee
(number 497)

I have seen this before, I remember seeing it at the movies when it first came out, at the Paramount, and being blown away. I hadn’t seen too many wu shu movies at that time and it opened up my mind. The elegance of the flying during battles, the sweeping drama and the forbidden romance.

I’ve seen it since then, I’m sure I have, but I remember being vaguely bored last time and it’s been several years. Watching it again on a Saturday morning when I’ve slept poorly due to ridiculous levels of wind I’m reminded of how I felt the very first time I watched it.

The whole film is so beautiful, so incredibly well acted and so epic that I felt a little blown away again. The vistas, the colour saturated palette and the understated but utterly convincing performances of the actors making for a truly wonderful movie.

I feel so bad for Lo through most of the movie. (Dark Cloud), the bandit leader. He’s a classic ‘bad boy’ type, roguish and dashing, presented at first with his shirt mostly open and carefree, joking. He loves Jen truly and deeply, and he can’t understand why she won’t stick to the promises she made to him.

I love Jen, even though she makes some seriously shite choices. I love Yu Shu Lian and Li Mu Bai as the heroes who are really feeling their age, and the weight of their own previous shite choices. Their gentle affection for each other, and the way you never doubt that they will back each other up in anything. Horrible tragic ending ;_;

Bechdel test: This movie passes the Bechdel test over and over. Jen talks to her governess/Jade Fox and she talks to Michelle Yeoh’s character Yu Shu.

Best line: “When it comes to emotions, even great heroes can be idiots”
“If you believe it, it will happen.”

State of Mind: Yeah, I need to play Mountain Witch and Feng Shui/Read Across the Nightingale Floor and Bridge of Birds/Learn martial arts/learn to fly.

Things I Love Thursday

wooooo I’ve been busy!

I really like this a lot:

Roleplaying: I’ve had some very excellent emotional roleplaying lately. Fall, and Ellen’s post-Narnia trauma game. I love that I have people I can trust so much to get emotionally deep into a game with. I am forever thankful.

Hunger Games movies Okay well, they’re not exactly fluffy bunnies and candy floss, they’re stressful but so very good. Beautiful and emotionally and yeah. Okay I cried all over the place, but I also enjoyed them an awful lot.

Dr Who madness

In the run up to the 50th anniversary there’s been so much neat stuff and so many people celebrating the fandom. It’s been a lot of fun, and last night me Steve and Norm went to a 3D screening of the special at the Embassy. It was awesome, I dressed as Captain Jack.

capt jack jennitalula

Mindfulness of emotions vs body. My body responds to my emotional state, and to stress. I’ve realised that the pain in my neck is largely because I clench my jaw, so lately I’ve been concentrating on breathing deeply (when I remember) and letting go of stress, which means the pain in my shoulder has been getting better. Emotions and bodies, man.

Honourable Mentions: Georgie Pies from Maccas, tasty ice creams, a cold refreshing drink on a hot day, waterproof boots on a rainy day, hayfever meds, aloe vera tissues, new creative ideas, costumes, laughing, christmas mince pies, excellent books and snuggly warm monster pajamas.

Using siri to get a date:

Song which is dark and poppy and I love it, This Could Be Love by Alkaline Trio

What are you thankful for at the moment?

Another Year (2010)

Another Year
Directed by Mike Leigh
(number 489)

A movie about old people. About distinguished English people growing old. I’d not heard about this film at all, until I saw it on the 500 list, I like Jim Broadbent. I haven’t managed to see any other Mike Leigh films so I really didn’t know what to expect.

It’s a pretty standard family drama, issues with love and life and getting old. The film has a rather restricted colour palette of greys and earth tones. The acting is subdued, slice of life stuff.

I found it hard to connect to, the characters weren’t all that loveable. I mean, there were moments, and jokes and some cute stuff but it all felt bittersweet and hard. It seemed a bit long too, too much drawn out silences, and people having personal tragedies.

I dunno. I think I didn’t like it. Slow and depressing. It’s pretty at points, and it’s… about the human condition. But I can think of better movies for those things. Basically it’s a movie about people talking and also being miserable.

Thanks to watching this with Ellen I learned that all English people have identical tree houses.

Bechdel test: Yes, a few of the lovely ladies speak with each other, about smoking at one point.

Best line: .. no idea, honestly.

State of Mind: Urgggghhhhhhhh *groans*

Superbad (2007)

Superbad
Directed by Greg Mottola
(number 486)

The story of three high school boys with a mission to get drunk and laid… which… isn’t a very original premise I have to say. Lots of swearing, lots of homophobic, misogynist language.

I’m in a bit of a bad mood, I didn’t sleep that well last night, I might be extra critical of the movie.

But I just… the whole white males in middle class America get up to shenanigans movie isn’t one that appeals to me, as a rule. I like some of the actors, Michael Cera and Emma Stone ❤ I'm not a fan of Jonah Hill, but I suspect it's because I don't enjoy the scripts of the things he's in.

There's a lot of gross out humour, a lot of swear words being used instead of jokes. I don't find a whole lot of people being awful or dumb amusing particularly.

Does it make me love the people? Well, that's a tough one. Like, every now and then I'd find one of those characters would be a bit endearing but then they'd start spewing homophobic insults and the actual worst cops ever.

Bechdel test: Weirdly yes in the last ten minutes the two girl objects of the male leads's affections are shown together at the mall, talking about the stuff they did at the party last night… as in, vomiting and so on.

Best line: Uhhhhh…. I'm sure I laughed at something but I don't remember what it was. I think the dancing silhouettes over the opening credits were my favourite thing.

State of Mind: Patriarchy, privilege… I just… urgh. URGH.

Crafting – affirmations quilt

Last night during a rather excellent and emotionally intense roleplaying session I finished off my affirmations quilt. I bound it with pale blue fabric printed with white stars. I put three loops in the top so I could put it up on the black wall above my bed.

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The finished beastie!

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I realised I hadn’t included my favourite ever quote, so I sewed it into the border. I may add some more as they occur to me.

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Here you can see it hung up in my bedroom, looking lovely.

So satisfying to finish a big project and especially one that is for me. It’s been a few years since I made myself a patchwork quilt!

The quotes are: a line from Dr Who episode ‘Vincent and the Doctor’, “Rain don’t change the sun”, “Jealous is the night when the morning comes” – both from Delta Rae ‘Morning Comes’.

Second row: “This life is more than just a read through” which is a Red Hot Chili Peppers gem from ‘Can’t Stop’, “Use my head alongside my heart” is from ‘I Will Wait’ by Mumford and Sons (I could have made an entire quilt of Mumford and Sons lyrics honestly), “Everything you feel is valid” which is something that Sophie once said to me.

“Here and now, breathe and relax” which was advice from a TED talk, “Breathe in, exhale, rush of blood to the heart” from Alt J ‘Bloodflood’

at the bottom “I am not afraid to keep on living” from ‘famous last words’ by My Chemical Romance, “I’m on top of the world, eh!” Imagine Dragons and finally a quote from Zenhabits “Stop waiting for happiness, happiness is right here, right now.”

Sideways (2004)

Sideways
Directed by Alexander Payne
(number 494)

This movie did astonishingly well. I’ve tried to watch it once before and Lee and I both got so frustrated with the awful ham fisted speech about why Miles loves Pinot Noir that we gave up on it half an hour in.

I wasn’t looking forward to this movie, because I could remember that so clearly, and how annoyed I was at these two middle class heterosexual white dudes just complaining about the horror of being them. But hey, this project is about trying these things and approaching them with a different perspective.

I wish I could say I understand why people love this movie.

Miles and Jack take a week long holiday together as a kind of bachelor thing because Jack is getting married on Saturday. Jack is sorta goofy, sorta dumb and the more socially adept of the two. He’s also determined to sleep with a girl before he gets hitched and it’s game over.

Miles is hung up on his ex wife no longer loving him and drunk dials her and I dunno.

They just aren’t very nice guys and it’s hard to sympathise with them. They talk about wine, about how hard it is to be them, and they treat the women poorly. I just… can someone explain the appeal to me?

The movie is very nicely shot, lots of lovely images of wine country and the music’s fine.

Bechdel test: Nope, the women are only shown talking to the men. Interestingly this aligns pretty closely with In the Company of Men where it feels like it’s a conscious choice. This story and these women are shown purely from the point of view of the male characters.

Best line: Jack roaring and swinging his club at some other golfers was my favourite moment, which I guess translates as ‘raaargh’ being the best line.

State of Mind: Mehhhhhhh.

In the Company of Men (1997)

In the Company of Men
Directed by Neil LaBute
(number 493)

Two businessmen, totally career oriented, cocky and misogynistic men make an arrangement to both date the same woman in their office and then once she’s good and hooked on both of them they’ll break her heart and therefore ruin her entire life.

Chad, played by Aaron Eckhart is a swaggering embodiment of male privilege, concerned entirely with how much he can get away with. How far he can push without being pushed back, and he’s charming and charismatic with it. I think this is a sign of a true actor, he’s a total bastard but I cared about him anyway.

Howard, his co-conspirator, is the follower, a little unsure and a little concerned about what they’re doing. Do not mistake these things for him being a nice guy though… well. Unless you’re talking ‘nice guy’ like these nice guys.

This is a movie that exposes horrible attitudes, the satire so extreme that you start second guessing what’s going on… is Chad really falling in love with her after all? So many movies have told that story before that I found myself hoping for it, but it’s not that movie. It’s the other one, where you’re not sure if maybe this is just dramatised true life stories maybe.. people being horrible to each other and not realising just how horrible they’re being.

It’s fantastically well made, but not very much fun. I enjoyed it, to a degree, but I don’t know how keen I’d be to watch it again.

Does it make me love the people? Yeah. I mean, Aaron Eckhart, and Christine, their target, her character is portrayed almost entirely through the lens of the males, but she was amazing. Perfectly acted by Stacy Edwards. I just realised she was in the Bling Ring, no wonder she looked familiar to me.

Bechdel test: No…in this movie women are talked about and talked to, but they aren’t people in their own rights and I think it’s entirely intentional.

Best line: “What kind of feminist bullshit is this?”
“Listen Listen Listen!”
“How does it feel, right now?”

State of Mind: Uuuuurrrrggghhh people aren’t really this awful are they? Of course they are.

Kick Ass 2010

Kick Ass
Directed by Matthew Vaughn
(number 496)

I’ve seen this before, several times, but when I went to try and write about it for the sake of the 500 project I found I couldn’t really remember the story beats or what I liked about it.

Watching it again it struck me that it’s a weird combination of a genuinely good, interesting real life superhero movies and being shocking for the sake of it. Like little tiny Chloe Grace-Moeritz swearing and killing people, lots of language use actually, for the shock value.

It’s fun enough, a bit of a laugh, but maybe I don’t love it the way I used to. I know the stuff I’ve seen about the sequel has turned me right off.

It’s fantastically acted. Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Chloe, Nick Cage as Adam West, Mike Strong and Christopher Mintz-Plasse…they’re all enjoyably invested in their roles and the movie ticks along because of them.

Bechdel test: Three named female characters but they don’t talk to each other. The love interest and her best friend… they talk to the boys, and they are shown chatting as they wander off together, but we don’t hear that they say. (Fail)

Best line: “I’m Kick Ass”

State of Mind: I’m feeling pretty whelmed.

Saw (2004)

Saw
Directed by James Wan
(number 499)

I was afraid. I was disapproving. I was sure I would never watch it.

But I did! It was actually not as bad as I’d feared it might be. It’s actually pretty clever and twisty and interesting. I’d had the main twist spoiled for me a while ago, and I knew a few things that happened in it, but I have to say I was pretty absorbed.

I do love Cary Elwes, which definitely helps, his voice is dreamy and his eyes and gahhh yeah okay I still have a massive crush on the Dread Pirate Roberts. Of course he’s playing someone else, but it was an instant access affinity effect for me.

I actually really liked the other lead as well, Adam, he was a good freaked out everyman, and the interchange between the two of them was believable and felt natural.

The traps and gore was pretty gross, but watching Supernatural has kind of given me a certain level of tolerance for that kind of stuff. The bits that had me squirming in my chair were the creepy puppet doll thing and the weird masks, the crawling and sneaking around people’s houses. That wigs me out a lot more than the complex death traps…

But that said it was tense, and my stomach is in a knot after watching it, and I’m glad Blair’s home because being alone in the house doesn’t appeal and besides all that I’m watching Pokemon cartoons to detox.

This movie is important because it spurred a whole genre of torture porn movies, and those make people talk. I guess it changed popular horror. I’ve universally been told not to watch any of the sequels and I’m not tempted to, but I may consider watching this again actually. Maybe. Some day.

Bechdel test: Yeah actually. The wife and daughter of Cary Elwes’s character talk a couple of times. Plus there was a pretty bad ass red head cop woman but she vanished pretty quick after flashbacks. Maybe she was only in flashbacks.

Best line:… Nothing comes to mind of this one actually… I guess.. ‘I want to play a game’ will stick with me? Not in a good way.

State of Mind: A bit tense, shell shocked… but impressed. The movie was better than I thought it would be, honestly.