Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (1954)

Seven Brides for Seven Brothers
Directed by Stanley Donan
Written by Albert Hackett, Frances Goodrich, Dorothy Kingsley
(number 465)

Adam Pontipee comes to a town from out in the backwoods, sings a song and picks up a wife, Milly. I’m so happy I could sing!

Fifties Hollywood was a weird place, and it was weird for the musicals it produced. To the modern eye you can really see the matt paintings. It’s a very odd story. Adam’s brothers are all jealous of his wife, and they go into town and meet girls and then a couple of months later they kidnap them.

Over time the girls (perhaps cabin fever?) start to like the boys (Stockholm syndrome?) and then in the end when their daddy’s come to rescue them don’t want to go and trick the boys into marrying them, which is what the boys wanted in the first place… so… Um.

There was a really weird barn raising dance battle sequence. But the best thing was the boys are sad in the snow and do a sad ballet around their farming equipment sequence.

The whole thing… it just feels really wrong. I mean, you can kind of say ‘oh it was a different time’ but it’s really not okay. They kidnap six women! And we’re meant to just think it’s cute and funny? Ehhhhh

Does it make me love the people? … I … don’t know any more.

Bechdel test: The girls talk to each other about how bored they are and what book to read, also about how they miss their families and mothers, and also about the boys. Definitely a pass though.

Best line:
Best in the sense of one of the most upsetting, Milly, the new wife to Adam: “I’d like to be wearing something that belonged to your mother”

State of Mind: Didn’t like it.

Stoker (2013)

Stoker
Directed by Chan-Wook Park
Written by Wentworth Miller
(number 479)

I’ve never seen a Chan-Wook Park movie before but the style is very familiar somehow. The hyper realism, the gorgeous colours, the intense gaze on small every day things. The story is simple enough in premise, India’s father dies and an uncle she didn’t know existed moves in following the funeral.

Although clearly set now the film has a very old fashioned styling. Nicole Kidman is classically beautiful in the austere, pinned down clothing that costume designers are so fond of putting her in. It makes it quite shocking when her hair is out and down, a sudden softness.

India is played by Mia Wasikowska who I have seen before as Alice in Tim Burton’s movie. She reminds me of Saorise Ronan – the same pale, serious face, big eyes and vulnerable mouth. Both of these actors are also incredibly compelling to watch, relateable even though they seem so cold.

The movie follows a slow start (Blair thought it was much too slow) with a disturbing and strange turn of events. The movie seems to be a mix of Lolita, Hamlet and The Talented Mr Ripley… I found it beautiful but deeply disturbing – the family history and the madness of Charlie. The indication that India’s father taught her to hunt as a way to protect her from something that he dreaded might happen in the future.

I found this movie more disturbing than Saw and Antichrist. Maybe I shouldn’t have watched it on a day I woke up from creepy nightmares.

There is a familiar and unsurprising meshing of love, sex and death in regards to the psyche of a girl becoming a woman. I feel like it was done best in Ginger Snaps, this movie is still too much about the men. Byzantium did it well too. Maybe if they had made Evie’s actions less predictable and reactive it could have saved this film – but as it is Charlie is the driving force for everything which makes him the motivator for any change in India.

Does it make me love the people?
It’s tricky. You sort of love India, but you’re a bit afraid of her as well. Charlie is a fascinating character, compelling and charismatic but so frightening as well.

Bechdel test: Yes, and very early on. India talks to her grandmother about the devilled eggs and her birthday present. There is also a scene with India and her mother, Evie, in Evie’s bedroom where they talk about their relationship.

Best line:
“We don’t need to be friends, we’re family.”

State of Mind: Hold me… No but I wanted it to have a different ending.

Things I Love Thursday

Easter chocolate! Cadbury’s milk chocolate eggs and bunnies, caramello bunnies, creme eggs, mini eggs.. nom nom nom.

True Detective
Okay so I’m not actually done with this show yet, but I’m getting there and holy hell do I love it. Blair and I enjoy doing the accents of the leads, and dear god it’s intense but it’s so funny as well. The characters are fantastic.

SCP Foundation – another thing on the darker side of enjoyment. My friend Simon has been methodically working his way through the whole archive and he sends me especially good ones, which means I get to read the highlights. It’s awesome, dark and spooky and again with a sense of humour.

Clean house!
Okay this is slow going – but on Sunday I went hard and cleaned the bathroom top to bottom and it looked so much better… It actually make me smiley and happy about showering on Monday morning. I also did a deep clean of my bedroom this week and that feels wonderful as well. Nothing like having clear space and knowing things are clean to ease your mind.

Honourable Mentions: My lovely girlfriend Anna, Frozen Free Fall, Skype, clean PJs, Netflix, new toys (I got Randy’s old Xbox 360 and a kinect off trade me), Pinterest, lovely workmates, roast chicken, odd dreams and having nothing planned for the weekend.

Frozen parodies continue to be pretty great…

(Ssssh I’m not crying it’s just a bit damp in the eye regions today)

Keep your Head Up ~ Ben Howard
(Thanks Sophie for introducing me to this dude)

The Master (2012)

The Master
Directed and written by Paul Thomas Anderson
(number on the 447)

In the manner of films such as Wake in Fright or perhaps more appropriately, the Men Who Stare at Goats, this is essentially a film about one broken man getting into strange circumstances which he doesn’t understand. These circumstances are hard for us to understand as well, the nature of the way the story is told is obtuse, hard to understand and unfolds in its own time.

This story is about Freddy, back from fighting in the second world war in the Pacific. He’s a drunk, messed up thug who’ll try and solve any problem with his fists. Somehow he connects to Philip Seymour Hoffman’s strange Master, the leader of a movement concerned with awakening men and reconnecting them to their past lives. He’s, as always, magnetic in his performance, and Phoenix is, as ever, exceptional at portraying a broken man.

The movie is supposed to mirror the psyche of Post WW2 America, but I find it hard to speak to that myself.

Amy Adams is amazing as Hoffman’s wife, the redoubtable woman who assists in the processing, is kind and soft spoken, but ready with a motivational slap when needed.

Exquisitely acted, fiercely beautifully filmed, but just a bit too… male and obscure for me maybe. Right now.

Does it make me love the people?

It doesn’t seem like it should, but it does. Peggy truly cares for Lancaster, and Lancaster truly cares for her and for Freddy. For all his disciples. You want Freddy to overcome his boozing and his violent ways and you want Lancaster to stay out of jail.

Bechdel test: There’s a brief moment where Peggy leaves a scene talking to Mildred about her pregnancy and food, but it’s more like filling in a bit of space while we pay attention to the men. I’m not sure that should count as passing – this movie is primarily about the relationship Freddy has with the world, and the movie is his point of view.

Best line:

Lancaster Dodd: Your fear of capture and imprisonment is from millions of years ago. You are not there. You are asleep.

State of Mind: I …. Uh…. a bit unimpressed to be honest. I wanted more than this.

But I do love how Lancaster remembered how they’d met…

Lancaster Dodd: I recalled you and I working together in Paris. We were members of the pigeon post during a four-and-a-half month siege of the city by Prussian forces. We worked in raid balloons, delivered mail and secret messages across the communications blockade set up by the Prussians. We sent 65 unguided mail balloons and only two went missing. In the worst winter on record. Two.

Things I Love Thursday

Trips to Auckland. I had a lovely four day weekend spending time with Anna, shopping, checking out some delicious foods and generally having fun. I like how warm Auckland is and how Anna-having it is. Especially loved the ‘hard to find’ bookshop in Onehunga, where I managed to restrain myself to just three books. We also had a lot of luck in K Mart where I got a kaiju pillow pet and a glow in the dark solar system.

Just kind of love aeroplanes as well. I know I’ve mentioned this once or twice before, but it’s a really brilliant technology and I like it. Plus both my flights were in ‘Koru hour’ which meant I got fancy cheese and crackers and an open bar service. Good times.

Getting writing done, it’s very satisfactory. I don’t have much planned for the weekend so I may try and go hard and get a bunch more done.

This gave me a bit of a happy tear…

Honourable Mentions: Buzzfeed personality quizzes, Frozen Free Fall, music playlists, hot baths, awesome fan art, Welcome to Night Vale, Rekorderlig, drunken singstar, Japanese food, tumblr and pinterest.

And for your hipster music, more Fun.

This one is called Carry On and it’s lovely.

Writing Wednesday

I’ve been chipping away at Kiki – my first novel, which is a middle school pitched story about two girls who find out they have magical powers, accidentally go into Faerie and have to try and find their way back. Similar to books like Narnia or Alice in Wonderland. They meet lots of neat characters along the way and learn about themselves and each other, etc etc.

I’ve been feeling pleased with doing just a couple of pages a day but something neat happened on Saturday. I went along with Anna to her barbershop group practice and sat and wrote while they sang. I could have just stayed behind at her house, but I’d read this brief article about ambient noise boosting creativity.

I guess it inspired me to try it out. So I took my new wee windows tablet and it’s dinky bluetooth keyboard along with me, sat at the dining table and over the course of the three ish hours of singing, in between breaks for puzzle games, I got 15 pages of my book rewritten.

I’m pretty pleased with this progress.

Also I’ve found that coming home after a busy day at work I sometimes feel a bit brainless. In a lot of ways, feeling a bit brainless is the best frame of mind for me to concentrate on writing; there are no distractions, my brain is calm and open, I can just plunge into the story and focus clearly.

So my optimum writing times at the moment are when I’ve just woken up or when I’m feeling sort of tapped out. In fact I have been known to have a brief nap on the weekend and then wake up to do some writing – the sleep sweeps my mind clean.

Ambient sound is also a great one – I usually put on some calm quiet music like Leonard Cohen or Belle and Sebastian, but there are some amazing ambient noise websites purpose built for writers. This is my favourite: Soundrown because you can mix and match different sound genres (I seem to gravitate to some mix of birds, night and rain).

As of this evening I’m sitting at 77 of 136 pages rewritten, and feeling great about my progress.

The Incredibles (2004)

The Incredibles
Written and Directed by Brad Bird
(number 405)

The first Pixar movie on the list that I’ve got around to 🙂

I remember being totally blown away when I first saw this at the movies. It was so unlike any animated movie that had come out of Hollywood in… ever? I’ve seen it many times since then, but it’s one of those movies you can put on and kind of ignore, because you know what’s happening anyway, so I don’t know when I last paid very much attention to it.

The styling all seems very Mad Men now, but of course it came so much before that show. The styling isn’t just super cool but it also emphasises the ‘perfect’ American nuclear family – the housewife, the husband who works in a soul crushing office job and two point five kids – the boy obsessed with sports and the girl who’s shy and in love with a boy.

The fact that they’re all superheroes contrasts well with the expectations of such a stylised setting while also being absolutely part of the same era, which is all very clever. Plus we have neat science, hilarious bad guy (Voiced by Jason Lee) and everyone’s favourite animated fashion icon, Edna Mode.

Does it make me love the people? Oh yes, because Helen is styled like a typical housewife, terrified that her husband is cheating on her but then she also pursues what she wants and will stop at nothing to protect her kids and her husband.

Bechdel test: Yes. First when Helen Parr calls Edna and there’s cross talk about the mended super suit and then when Helen visits her. They talk about costumes, and about going out there and being Elastigirl. There is a lot of talk about Mr Incredible during this exchange, but it still passes on other lines. There’s also a nice conversation between Helen and Violet about Violet’s powers and how she can be brave, trust herself and how Helen was unfair to expect so much of her out of the blue.

We have four main named female characters, and two minor named females which is a great improvement on many of the films on the list I’ve watched so far.

Best line:
“Fine. I will also fix the horrible suit”

State of Mind: Pretty pleased. We chased it up with some episodes of Batman: the brave and the bold