King Kong (1933)

King Kong
Directed by Ernest B. Schoedsack and Merian C. Cooper
Written by James Creelman and Ruth Rose based on an idea by Merian C. Cooper and Edgar Wallace
(number 251)

I had an idea that I’d seen this film before but maybe I just *meant* to watch this before the Peter Jackson version. The story line is essentially the same but PJ takes much longer to do everything. What I mean to say is that I don’t think I’ve seen this before and it felt like watching it fresh even though it’s familiar from the PJ version. Fay Wray is stunning, luminous in black and white and absolutely captivating.

I read that the director/creator Merian C Cooper was an American fighter pilot who helped the Polish movements against Soviet Russia, he was shot down and spent around 9 months as a Prisoner of War. It sort of brings a bit more weight to this story about a big destructive force and trying to control things you don’t understand.

Carl Denham is collecting up a huge crew for a small ship and won’t tell anyone where he’s going or what he’s doing for the film. Everyone knows that he’s a daring film maker who goes right up to lions apparently. After an interesting talk with two of the other men about the dangers a woman may face on their trip and the dangers to women in New York he goes and collects Ann Barrow who is faint from lack of food. In a totally non creepy way he picks her up and takes her to the boat to star in his film. She hits it off with Jack Driscoll, one of the sailors who had initially been unhappy about having a woman on ship and they make their way to dreaded skull island.

You can kind of forgive the portrayal of the Island Natives in this film since it is the thirties – but one wonders why they used the same kind of caricatures in the Pirates of the Caribbean movies so much later. Then there’s Charlie the Chinese cook although he is much less of a racist caricature than Mickey Rooney in Breakfast at Tiffany’s, and he’s an important member of the crew.

The reveal of Kong, after we’ve heard the stories and seen the extent that the natives go to in order to placate him is quite powerful. I found myself looking at the screen wondering how they patched together the stop motion Kong and the live action Ann, but then was distracted by the expressiveness Kong displays. He has a very sweet face and you can tell exactly what the emotions he’s feeling are.

I was quite excited about the animation of the dinosaurs as well. Wayne did point out that the dinosaurs that attack them are all herbivores which is a bit of a strange thing to happen. The kill count in this movie is very high, which for some reason surprises me even though it was the same in the PJ version. The deaths of Kong shaking people off the tree branch and into the ravine are particularly nasty – using little miniature doll people to show the bodies hitting rocks. The King Kong vs T Rex fight is pretty damn great.

It starts to stretch credulity a bit when every single monster and beast on the island seems to exist just to steal Ann and be killed by Kong but I just started thinking of it in terms of a Geiger Counter game and it made more sense.

The final sequence in New York has become so iconic it’s hard to imagine cinema without the homages. So many giant animals or monsters storming cities, so many climbing to the top of a tall building, damsel in hand.

Does it make me love the people? Yeah, you immediately feel for Ann – she’s innocent and vulnerable, and she’s a victim of so much. Jack Driscoll is a pretty great action hero, dedicated to saving his lady love. It’s harder to enjoy Carl Denham when he’s such a selfish ego maniac but hey, the guy learns some stuff right?

Bechdel test: Two women talk to each other about what they get at the women’s shelter at the start of the movie but they’re not named. Ann is the only named woman in the film so that’s a fail for this film.

Best line:
Jack: Hey, I guess… I love you Ann
Ann: But Jack! You hate women!
Jack: I know…

State of Mind: Such drama. I mean, super melodramatic ending aside, I really enjoyed that film. And hey, it wasn’t three hours long!

Watched movie count

Impostor Syndrome

The ironic thing about this post is that I’ve tried to write it a few times and then cancelled out, thinking I’d do it later. I had it sitting in my drafts for ages, unsure how to proceed… then in a fit of self doubt (I don’t know what I’m talking about, what’s even the point of talking about impostor syndrome, etc etc) I deleted the post altogether.

It just took Steve saying he’d like to read it to motivate me to try again, so this blog post is a different format and hopefully better than the original was.

Impostor syndrome. I don’t have it for everything… but I have it for some things that really matter to me.

  • Game Designer
  • Writer
  • Tester
  • Here’s how Imposter syndrome manifests for me.

    Someone: You wrote this game? That’s great!
    Me: Aw, well, it’s only a couple of pages long.
    Secret in brain meaning: it’s not very big, it barely counts as a game! My accomplishment is minimal, don’t you agree? In fact, it’s hardly even a *game*

    Someone: You put it up for sale? Maybe you’ll make some cash.
    Me: No, well I put it up for pay what you want, so people can get it for free
    Secret in brain meaning: I don’t deserve to make money off this because it’s a small game and it’s silly and probably nobody will even want it anyway so there’s really no point in making it a proper price because no one will buy it.

    Someone: You’re a game publisher right?
    Me: well, I only have a couple of games up for sale, nothing compared to my brother or my friend Hamish, you should really check their stuff out!
    Secret in brain meaning: my accomplishments mean nothing in comparison to people who are way more successful/have run kickstarters. Please pay attention to them and not me because I am more comfortable talking about other people’s success than mine.

    Someone: Have you ever written anything?
    Me: never been published…… oh wait, yes, I put some stuff up for sale. And… I’ve been published a few times, in magazines and a short story compilation. Huh did I forget that?
    Secret brain meaning: I forgot I have done super cool things what is up with that seriously???

    What does this all boil down to?

    I find it really to believe that I am successful… or rather, that I am allowed to be successful enough to call myself a game designer/writer. What makes a writer? What makes a game designer? At what point am I allowed to define myself that way?

    And more to the point, why do I have so little faith in my own skills? I mean, there’s a heap of reasons but none of them make much sense. With anyone else in my position I’d go ‘yeah, you made it, look at those games you published’ but I just can’t quite see it for myself.

    I would really like to conclude this blog post with handy answers that explain everything and some kind of handy hint you can take away to prevent this kind of belief in your own life but sadly, it’s not that easy.

    I do know some things though:
    – I can look at the sales reports of my games as often as I want and see that actually yeah, some people do want to buy my games and feel good about that
    – I can run my games for people and see that they enjoy them and feel good about that
    – People can say things like ‘your game is good’ or ‘can’t wait to play it’ or ‘what will your next one be?’ and feel really really good
    – I can look at the positive feedback on my work performance review and feel fantastic
    – People can come to me for advice because they trust that I have the skills and knowledge and I feel fantastic about that too

    Reassurance is huge, and I think people can underestimate how good reassurance is from your own self. You can say out loud or inside your head ‘I did this. I achieved this, look at the evidence’. In fact, I’d say thinking or repeating that stuff to yourself is a huge step in beating the imposter-y feels.

    Reassurance from other people is also super great, but it has to be tempered to be believe. If all someone says to you is ‘You’re great! I love your stuff!’ then it becomes a bit harder to believe it, the paranoid impostor brain starts to say ‘oh hey, they’re just saying this to be nice, they don’t really mean it’, which can feed into the bad thought patterns.

    My number one piece of advice is to just push through. If you know the steps, you can do the thing and once you’ve done it then you are someone who did the thing.

    If anyone has any ideas or thoughts about impostor syndrome, I’d love to hear them, please comment below!

    Things I Love Thursday

    This is so happy making!!!

    Beginner’s Guide to Meditation. It’s really seriously long, but Tim is about as down to Earth and cynical as they come and his writing is magnetic. Mostly linking here so I’ll have it to refer back to because I’d love to understand meditation more than I do.

    Catching up with friends. Even if all we do is watch a movie or whatever, time with friends is important for my little extrovert heart.

    Selfies with elephants…


    Exploring the Auckland zoo! I hadn’t been for a few years and it was a lovely hot sunny. I promise you this baby giraffe didn’t look so pissed off in real life, but the picture is so hilarious I had to share it all the same. Hippos! Rhino! Rando birds! Flamingos!

    Created with Nokia Smart Cam

    Gigs in Auckland aggregator my dev gave me and it’s pretty great and I loved the

    Honourable Mentions: camero cremes, packing lunches for my Anna, snuggles, reading Jacqueline Wilson books, Dick Grayson comics, kaiju, soft new pjs, looking forward to going back to Wellington over Easter, Easter chocolate, the sound of rain on my umbrella, kisses and a clean house.

    Okay so this is song is everywhere and it’s because it’s really good and a great song, Uptown Funk by Bruno Mars and Mark Ronson:

    Ikiru (1952)

    Ikiru (Ikiru means ‘to live’
    Directed by Akira Kurosawa
    Written by Akira Kurosawa, Shinobu Hashimoto and Hideo Oguni
    (number 459)

    A black and white Japanese movie from the early 50s – the only other Kurosawa film I’ve watched is Seve Samurai which I thoroughly enjoy but suspect this movie is nothing like that one.

    A man who has worked for decades in the same bureaucratic job finds out he has less than a year to live. This piece of storytelling is handled beautifully though – the bureaucracy shown with a group of people wanting to complain about an cesspool in their community and being sent place to place, through department after department until they’re back where they started.

    The diagnosis is shown with Kanji Watanabe waiting in the doctor’s office and a talkative fellow patient explaining that if you have really bad cancer then the doctor will only say it’s a mild ulcer and to eat whatever you like… Kanji gets more and more afraid and then gets the mild ulcer diagnosis. It’s an inevitable piece of dialogue, and the emotions are sold perfectly by Takashi Shimura. You feel his fear and his sorrow just by watching the way his eyes crinkle and shine.

    With this as a premise, it’s undoubtedly a movie with an aura of sadness to it. Watanabe asks what he’s been doing with his whole life? The only thing he has to show for it is the certificates of long service for his government job.

    Its kind of heartbreaking how relevant this whole story line is still to modern society, like.. working endlessly at a job and not doing other stuff with your life. The way bureaucracy can wear down intention and make people not even want to try.

    Does it make me love the people? I adored the novelist with his hat and his high thoughts, Toyo and her Genki outlook on life but ultimately I loved Watanabe the most. How relatable is he? I’m sure everyone at some point in time is waiting in a doctor’s office imagining the worse, or daydreaming about ‘what if I only had six months to go?’ what would you do? What could you do?

    Bechdel test: Toyo talks a lot but not to other women. This movie is pretty tightly from Kanji’s point of view and the other characters pretty much talk to him.

    Best line:
    Kanji’s brother to his son: he’s stayed single all these 20 years for you, makes sense he’d explode eventually.

    Kanji Watanabe: I can’t afford to hate anyone. I don’t have that kind of time.

    Novelist: How tragic that man can never realize how beautiful life is until he is face to face with death.

    State of Mind: I feel that this movie’s spiritual successor is Departures, a Japanese film I really love. It was long but it didn’t feel long to me, it wasn’t boring, there was always an emotion or an experience happening on screen.

    It makes you want to go out and seize the day a bit, but it also is a calm movie so it quite made me want to sleep as well. Will seemed to enjoy it as well, although he kept trying to name all the other characters as manic pixie dream (whatevers), when really the motivation factor was Watanabe’s cancer.

    Watched movie count

    Things I Love Thursday

    Video heavy this week 🙂 I have found a lot of awesome vids and they are glorious.

    This film maker having a conversation with his 12 year old self is beautiful

    Kate Beaton’s Germany comics are great.

    I discovered the minute physics channel and it’s brilliant:

    My lovely dev sent me this video: drunk man sings Seal to his cat !

    Honourable Mentions: Photo booths, good news, gaming, new friends, rewatching Glee, LCR chocolate milk, chocolate bunnies, corn nuggets, Wellington people visiting and making Anna smile.

    My teenage music playlist

    Funny Face (1957)

    Funny Face
    Directed by Stanley Donen
    Written by Leonard Gershe
    (number 329)

    I knew that this was basically a rom-com starring Audrey Hepburn but I didn’t really know another thing about it. Imagine my pleasure when the movie started and it appeared to be the 1957 version of The Devil Wears Prada, set in a fashion magazine headed by a formidible lady. I watched this with Will and Anna.

    They’re having some trouble with a shoot and so go on location to a bookshop where works the stunning Ms Hepburn as intellectual book store worker Jo Stockton. Talk about your meet cute, Fred Astaire’s photographer shoves a rolling ladder along the shelves which she is standing on – dressed in brown and blending into the background.

    Also it’s a musical, did I mention that already? Because it is and there are not just songs but also extended dance numbers. The best of which being the weird ass Jo expressing herself in modern dance bit in the Parisian Bohemian bar. This is after she’s basically told Dick that he’s a caveman, because women shouldn’t have to wait for men to ask them to dance, if they want to dance they can ask a man or just do it. They’re not restricted by boring old social norms.

    Jo is reluctant to be a model although she is spotted by the talent scout/agent. She’s much more concerned with being intellectual, and her goals in Paris are to attend lectures and talk to the bohemians about philosophy.

    The sequence where Audrey runs from the fashion ladies to escape a forcible makeover was quite wonderful. She runs into Dick the photog again and he convinces her that despite her claim that she’s got a funny looking face, or possibly because of it, she would make a great model.

    It’s an important trope of musicals from this sort of era that the leading lady be smitten with the leading man, even when he has been somewhat tasteless or gauche with her. Mostly I was distracted by Dick’s blue socks with slip on shoes… but as Will pointed out he was more or less insulting her when he collected her from the bohemian club. He makes it up to her with an elaborate ‘let’s kiss and make up’ song below her hotel window.

    I realised part way through that this is the movie that Chris takes Lorelei to watch on the side of a barn in The Gilmore Girls. I kind of hate Chris and that ship but I didn’t let it affect my enjoyment of the film. It’s charming.

    Does it make me love the people? Oh yes. Not just because Jo reminded me quite a lot of my dear friend Celeste. Fred Astaire’s really the one with the funny face, in my opinion, but he’s pretty sweet too. His character isn’t particularly interesting or different to regular male leads of the time but then he does exactly what he’s supposed to – he’s a charming foil for Audrey to shine against. The story is entirely about her and the movie doesn’t pretend anything else.

    Much like in Singin’ in the Rain there’s a long extended dance number with Dick and Miss Prescott pretending to be Bohemian to get in to see Jo. They lost me during this number to be honest.

    Bechdel test: Yes, almost immediately and then again and again. Marion speaks to Miss Prescott, Miss Prescott talks to Jo, and they talk many times over the course of the movie. It’s very satisfying to watch an old movie which is so forward thinking … well, I guess the story isn’t necessarily but the politics are in there anyways. Plus yay, named women who speak to each other.

    and look at how wonderful this song and dance is…

    although it did rather remind me of this clip…

    Best line:
    Random bohemian: I feel a hostile vibration
    Dick Avery: That’d be me.

    Dick: You are mad aren’t you?
    Jo: No, I’m not mad. I’m hurt, and … disappointed and.. mad!

    State of Mind: The movie was a lot better at the start than the end. The late – end of the film kind of… lost my interest. Maybe it’s just because there was (people are watching me type this and it’s putting me off) maybe it’s just because there was interesting Winter Soldier stuff on pinterest I dunno, but the first half of the movie is much more fun than the last part.

    Will live blogged it: part 1, part 2, part 3

    Watched movie count

    Things I Love Thursday

    What if there was infinite time in the day to do whatever you wanted? Like, probably you’re just gonna nap and blob out right? But what if there was infinite time and infinite motivation and energy? How wonderful would it be? I dream.

    Team building – watching The Girl Who Leapt Through Time and eating Japanese snacks, playing board games, having lunches and laughing with workmates, it’s an awesome thing.

    Skin of Fire last week was incredible, then on Saturday Anna and I went to see Walking with Dinosaurs, which I have seen once before but I was pleasantly surprised with how little I had remembered and then that they’d updated the dino designs to include feathers and fur. It was awesome. Plus I got candy floss as big as my head and a brachiosaurus 🙂


    I had a two Mr Whippy day. Started with this guy and then I had a single flake choc dip after dinner …


    Honourable Mentions: Rewatching Glee, takeaways, my car, movies, naps, making Anna smile, new books, re-reading Asterix, exciting new creative projects and wonderful friends.

    two of my fave songs mashed together in an intense aural bomb blast of awesome: