Things I Love Thursday

I have a goal this year to publish as many of my things as I can. With this in mind, I finished the running notes for my Quiet Day in the Library LARP, recruited Will for a title image and published it for sale on RPGNow for US$10. You should totally go buy it, or share it with your LARP loving friends. Today I went on a team building excursion to Waiheke Island and I tried ziplining for the first time and it was super awesome amazing fun! Sailing through the air over the treetops is pretty intense but very magical. Plus it was a fantastically sunny day and I went swimming in the ocean! Swimming in the ocean is the best swimming. Lady Gaga performing a medley of songs from Sound of Music at the Oscars. I didn’t cry when Julie Andrews hugs her at the end, you did! http://youtu.be/Dvg_bwdirxQ Honourable Mentions: The food at Oyster Inn, getting spare room closer to sorted out, people enjoying the Monsterhearts game I’m running, weird dreams, making connections with new people, discovering great new breakfast spots, excellent books, publishing things and sleep! Blackbird Chain ~ Beck https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vm7x2N9VUZE

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My Neighbour Totoro (1988)

My Neighbour Totoro
Directed and written by Hayao Miyazaki
(number 282)

In 2005 Disney translated and dubbed this movie and the Western world was introduced to something amazing. Some of my friends had seen Nausicaa before this, and I know I’d seen Princess Mononoke but I also knew that this was a very different sort of movie so I had no idea what to expect. Suffice to say I was delighted.

To me the most amazing thing about this film is that it’s a story with no villain, which is very unusual when it comes to children’s animated moves. When I was a kid my favourite movies were the Care Bear movies and the Henson films, Labyrinth and Dark Crystal which are full of villains. The whole plot is about good guys overcoming bad, but Totoro is just a magic tale about family conflict and confused and sad children.

I have to say, Mei’s personality and emotions pull on all my youngest child, younger sister feels. Hayao does a good job of showing her trying so hard to keep up with Satsuke, being scared but refusing to be anything but brave. It’s so familiar and so very real. It’s beautiful.

Then of course, Mei finds Totoro and if there was every a friendlier, softer looking gigantic mystical troll thing then I don’t think I’ve seen it. And the little rabbit like baby Totoro minor spirits are so cute! It’s just so appealing in so many ways.

The neko basu (cat bus) is both disturbing and appealing and I love that about it. The multiple legs are creepy like a centipede and the noise is makes is unsettling, but it’s so friendly that you just like it anyway. The inside looks so plush and soft too.

Does it make me love the people? It makes me love all the characters and the world too. It’s a gorgeous film for capturing the magic in the world around us, the pure wonder that children hold for the world. The joy of discovery and taking delight in what we see.

Bechdel test: Yes, Mei and Satsuke talk about all sorts of things and almost never boys! Also Satsuke talks to Nanny, which.. may or may not be a real name actually. But she is a very important character to the story so I’d count her, especially since the movie passes anyway.

Best line:
Tatsuo Kusakabe: Trees and people used to be good friends. I saw that tree and decided to buy the house. Hope Mom likes it too. Okay, let’s pay our respects then get home for lunch.

State of Mind: The gentle environmental message is wonderful because unlike so many other movies where it hits you over the head, this movie just makes you love the forest, growing plants and living in peace with nature. I adore this film, I don’t ever seem to get sick of it. So beautiful and so peaceful.

Plus I’m clearly a fan, I have a soot ball, a little snoring Totoro and a Totoro onesie so … I do love this film.

This is my 100th posted blog review of a 500 list movie! I wanted it to be a movie I knew I loved 🙂
Watched movie count

X-Men 2 (2003)

X-Men 2 or as imdb wants me to call it X2
Directed by Bryan Singer, superhero whisperer
Screenplay written by Michael Dougherty, Dan Harris and David Hayter based on story by Zak Penn, David Hayter and Bryan Singer
(number 432)

This is the only X-Men movie on the 500 list, but Anna and I watched the first one right before it because why the hell not? My absolute favourite X Men movie is First Class but this one was my favourite up until that came out.

The opening sequence of this film is killer – Nightcrawler in the White House just bamfing around like a total bad ass. I really like Nightcrawler as a character, because he’s so gentle and kind despite his appearance and his power is super cool. Teleportation is the best super power, I’ve known that since I played a teleporter in a superhero roleplaying game Dale ran.

The story is more involving than the first movie, it’s less origin story and more interesting villain/character development which I appreciate.

Best joke of the movie: Pyro doesn’t like the uncomfortable silence in Scott’s car, so leans through to the front to turn on the stereo and ‘Bye bye bye’ by N*Sync comes on. It’s so perfect because it so perfectly fits boring old Scott Summers’ bland personality.

Although generally the idea of society reacting to mutants is an allegory for racism, in this film there’s a great scene for mutant powers as homosexuality where Bobby literally has to come out to his family and they don’t take it well. It’s horribly awkward and painful but very beautifully done.

I really love the scene right after it too when the police arrive and Rogue uses her power to stop Pyro killing a bunch of people. It’s understated and the acting is fantastic, Pyro’s face when he realises what she’s done to him is incredible.

Jason, the poor sucker mustant with Styker for a father who can project images and control people’s minds appears to Charles as a little girl, which is interesting to me. I mean, sure it’s a good way to hide who he is from Charles but I also like the idea that Jason is trying out a different gender identity.

Does it make me love the people? Yes it does, especially Rogue, Ice Man and Pyro. I find it a bit hard to care too much about Wolverine. I do love Magneto and Professor X though, I ship it.

Bechdel test: Yes, because of Storm and Jean this movie passes a few times over. Mystique is a bit confusing though because she talks to men and women but sometimes she’s a man when she does it? But because of Storm and Jean we’re all good in this film.

Best line:
Mrs. Madeline Drake: [to Bobby] Have you ever tried… not being a mutant?

State of Mind: The death of Lady Deathstryke is really deeply disturbing, especially when it’s been established that she’s acting under mind control. I have never really noticed how happy Wolverine is to kill people before I watched this again, but then I suppose that’s what Wolverine is for… it just seems very harsh and intense.

I like the movie a lot, and I like the Phoenix bit at the end but I sort of get bored once the story moves from the school to Stryker’s base, from that point on it’s really just action sequences and less character stuff.

Watched movie count

Things I Love Thursday

Via some genius I follow on twitter I found this collection of tweets imagining the Harry Potter characters as modern 20-30 somethings. It’s harsh and painful and brilliant an I adore it. #MDHP, give it a read.

Book Riot is just a really great website and I am not sure why I didn’t know about it already, lots of interesting looking articles about books and reading.

My cellphone food pictures collection is steadily growing and I find that it’s very fun for me to look through and enjoy the memories of great food I’ve had. It’s also great getting a great meal and going ‘I have to photograph this for my tag’! Haha I’m a total dork.

Milse, Tanuki’s + the Abbey , speaking of great food. Milse, Tanuki’s and the Abbey are officially my favourite Auckland restaurants. Please see below for our handmade bombe on a stick (two flavours of gelato in a white chocolate case and covered in soft meringue- to die for, plus blueberry tart thingie and handmade chocolate.

jennitalula milse

Powerade – there are so so many bad things about having a stomach bug, such as pain, frequent bathroom stops, feeling like whining is a valid life choice and figuring you might as well start marathoning Friends on netflix… but being brought cold green powerade by your love or the supermarket delivery people isn’t one of the bad things. Powerade is like nectar of the gods when you’re ill and dehydrated, it’s sweet so your messed up taste buds won’t make it bitter and gross and your body needs the salts and the liquid so it’s win win.

My Anna took good care of me this week when I was sick and I adore her.

Honourable Mentions: Grooveshark playing my station, fresh fruit and vege from my local grocer, Katamari Forever, friends, facebook stickers, sunshine and steak.

I feel I’m a bit late to ‘Take me to Church’ by Hozier but good lord it’s a fantastic song

Crash (2004)

Crash
Directed by Paul Haggis
Written by Paul Haggis and Robert Moresco
(number 460)

This movie starts with a car crash and racism. Woo ! In fact the whole movie is about racism and the culture of it that exsits in Los Angeles and pretty much made me want to a) never live in L.A. b) do something for the benefit of other races than myself.

I want to say that the actors were brave to play these incredibly racist characters, but I don’t know. Maybe it’s just realistic, and not even that much of a stretch. It’s kind of nice to see Ryan Phillipe again, I mean, I had such a crush on him when he was in Cruel Intentions but his career kind of fizzled. That said his character is one of just many incredibly problematic characters.

The scene where Matt Dillon’s horribly racist cop pulls over the black couple and then sexually abuses the wife, played by Thandie Newman is just… so awful to watch. It’s subverted beautifully later on when he’s on the scene of a car crash and trying to help her out of the flipped car, she sees who he is and starts protesting ‘not you, not you’ and there’s this look on his face where he just doesn’t understand, maybe doesn’t even recognise who she is. It’s extremely powerful cinema.

I had a horrible feeling that he wasn’t going to save her but he did and I am thankful for that, at the very least.

Then of course, you have the moment where you think everything has gone horribly wrong with the locksmith character, who had told his daughter a story about an invisible cloak that makes you invincible… but thankfully the store owner’s daughter bought him blanks rather than actually bullets. Argh, this movie is really quite horrible to watch.

It puts me in mind of End of Watch a bit because of the setting and the cop characters and the racism, but Crash has none of the humour or loveable characters that End of Watch did.

I found the soundtrack kind of distracting/ overbearing. Cleolinda coined a term for the sweeping/wailing music used to show emotional scenes are happening as ‘Our Lady of Soundtrack sorrow’ and Our Lady was definitely busy in this film.

Does it make me love the people?
I dunno…. maybe it makes me want to love the people. It shows people’s good sides as well as the nastiness they are capable and how easy it is to dehumanise another person based on their race. Right down to actual human trafficking…I got very upset at times though, so yes. It makes me love the people and then it makes me hate them a bit, or it shows how flawed they are and sadly barely shows them learning and if it does show them learning it’s very small steps being taken.

Bechdel test: It does pass, and quite early on too. Sandra’s character Jean talks to her cleaner, Maria about whether the dishes are clean and snaps at her.

Also Lara talks to her mother Elizabeth, mostly in a ‘mommy!’ ‘what?!’ back and forth before Lara starts referring to her Daddy but it still passes for the first bit.

Best line:
Lara: I’ll protect you, Daddy.

Graham: I swear to you, Mom. I’ll find whoever killed him.
Graham’s Mother: Oh, I already know who killed him. You did. I asked you to find your brother, but you were too busy for us. We weren’t much good to you anymore, were we? You got things to do. You go ahead. I’ll sign the papers.

State of Mind: Urgh. I hate racism and privilege so much. Urgh urgh urgh.

Watched movie count

Well, it’s not race based, but I do encourage you to donate to kidscan to help out kids in need in New Zealand. Any recommendations for other places to donate or in fact, ways to make the world a better plac would be gratefully received in the comments…

12 Monkeys (1996)

12 Monkeys
Directed by Terry Gilliam
Written by David Webb Peoples and Janet Peoples based on Chris Marker’s film La Jetee
(number 466)

I first watched this movie at the movies in 1996/7 (whenever it got released in NZ) with a bunch of my friends. I remember that we saw it at Midcity cinemas and I can’t remember why we went to go see it but it blew our minds. Once the credits started rolling we started arguing about what had actually happened. We eventually left the cinema but had to stop again at the top of the escalators. We realised we were in people’s way and went down the escalator before arguing again at the bottom! It’s one of those films.

This time round I watched it on a sick day when I had to keep going to the bathroom and had a nap halfway through. It was a really good nap.

The opening music and iconography in this film are killer. The weird red monkeys spiralling away, the insistent and mysterious tones of the music. Then it goes into a strange dream sequence and am even stranger reality where Bruce Willis is a captive who is forced to go into a post-apocalyptic frozen Earth to retrieve living specimens.

I very much enjoy this film but I can’t quite get away from the director’s quirks: so much detail in almost every shot, so much evil bureaucracy and weird torture/bondage whenever it can be justified. Once I notice a director’s quirks like this (when I don’t appreciate them) I find them a bit too obvious and therefore distracting.

Madeline Stowe is a psychologist in ‘the present’ where James Cole has been returned to. And she fulfills her role as a very beautiful therapist who makes a connection with James. He sweeps her up in his story later on because he didn’t know what else to do when he had no money. She goes from thinking he’s totally crazy to seeing evidence that he really is a time traveller. In the same moment he becomes convinced that she was right and he is totally crazy, meaning she has to convince him that the stuff he’s said previously was true. It’s a clever narrative switch which is the kind of thing I think is necessary in time travel movies because it’s so easy to have the same ‘avoid the paradox’ kind of plot. The smarter the better when it comes to time travel scripts.

Brad Pitt plays a delightfully nutty dude who James encounters a couple of times and he’s a brilliant kook to assign the guilt of the end of the world plot too.

Creepy voice character who follows James around is a specially terrifying touch. Can he be trusted? Who is he really? Is he on James’ side or does he want to help him? I remember it was the first time surround sound in a cinema really freaked me out, because when the voice is speaking to James for the first time in the cell the voice kept coming from a different single speaker, moving about the space of the theatre.

Does it make me love the people? I guess so. It’s not a deep riveting examination of the human soul but you can see these characters wanting to do what’s right – in their unique flawed definitions of right – and you do feel for them.

Bechdel test: Madeline Stowe’s Kathryn speaks to the woman cabbie and the ticket agent but sadly ‘woman cabbie’ and ‘ticket agent’ is how they’re credited so it doesn’t pass. Jones is the only other woman character with a name and significant lines but they never speak to each other.

Best line:
I really like James Cole: All I see are dead people. – on account of the 5th element pre-reference that happened.

But I think the actual best line is: Oh, wouldn’t it be great if I *was* crazy? Then the world would be okay.

State of Mind: I remember this movie packing a huge punch when I first saw it. I think it’s lost its impact on repeated viewings. That said there’s lots of neat bits and cool lines, and I ultimately think it’s a great film and worth seeing. Just maybe not too often.

… I wonder if I should track down the TV show they’ve made of it?

Watched movie count

Sunday Crafting

I managed to arrange the unpacked stuff/junk in the spare room and managed to access my sewing machine. First project up on the list is a plastic bag holder!

jennitalula

I used an old tourist T shirt which I got for like, $4 at a touristy place on Pier 39, San Francisco. I kind of love it but it’s not the most comfortable thing to wear, a bit stiff and scratchy and big. Perfect for crafting. I hacked it up and used the elasticated neck of the t shirt for the top of it where you put the bags in, an unused red converse shoelace for the hanger and elasticated the bottom of it with a quick tube.

jennitalula

It’s not the prettiest thing I’ve ever made, but it’s functional and looks sort of awesome all the same.