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…

    jennitalula

    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 🙂

    WP_20150307_001

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

    jennitalula

    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:

    Crocodile Dundee (1986)

    Crocodile Dundee
    Directed by Peter Faiman
    Written by John Cornell, Ken Shadie and Paul Hogan based on a story by Paul Hogan.
    (number 449)

    I’m sure in some way I’ve seen this movie before. I mean, it was everywhere in the eighties and my mum and dad almost certainly got it out at the video shop or watched it on TV. It’s all sort of vaguely familiar when I watch it and maybe that’s scraps of seeing it before or all the bleed through this movie has had on other Australian films I’ve seen, the familiarity of the Australian landscape.

    I don’t imagine this film is on the UK version of the top 500 list but… I’m using the Australian magazine one so I watch it 🙂

    A New York reporter in Australia goes to the Northern Territories to track down a man who’s had his leg bit off by a giant crocodile. Once she arrives she finds that the town, the man and the people aren’t what she expected. It’s a fish out of water tale followed by a fish out water tale when Mick follows her to New York.

    It’s a very eighties movie, the glitz and glam of the big city, big hair, shoulderpads, big ambition and discovering something new about the world and people. The obligatory watching the girl swim scene is thankfully cut short by a croc attack although the sound effects and music used for this incident is pretty over the top.

    David Gulpilil in one of his early roles subverts all the assumptions the Western world and our POV character have about Aboriginals. He appears in the night, painted up and presented as a threat – Mick even holds a knife to him just in case. He’s revealed to actually be a city boy, just up in the bush to please his father. There’s a moment where he tells Sue she can’t take his picture and she softly says ‘oh, do you think it will steal your soul?’ and he says ‘nah the lens cap’s still on’. It’s an interesting moment revealing the assumptions made about those who are distinctly ‘other’ to us, but it’s uncomfortable – especially since Mick himself feeds into the faux-mysticism, saying that Nev can just ‘imagine his way’ through the dark forest because he’s a bit telepathic, undercut immediately by the sound of Nev walking into a tree.

    I had a moment of being pulled right out of the film by logic though. Mick’s never been to a city, he doesn’t know what an escalator is and he’s never travelled out of Australia, so how did he have a passport to travel to America at the drop of a hat? Eh. It’s not a big deal at all but it yanked me out of the story.

    Does it make me love the people?
    There is a fair bit of time given to Mick’s dry humour and also the depth of thought he’s capable of. Plus it’s hard not to enjoy the easy flow of the story.

    Sue is not a particularly deep character. She’s the love interest to two men and the connection between the Australian culture/Mick and the New York world/Richard. In the tradition of anime heroines everywhere, Mick moves through the life with an open mind to meeting new people and his approach usually improves the lives of the people he talks to – opens their eyes/gives them wonder, etc.

    One exception is the scene where Mick is hit on by a lady. It’s pretty horrible trans-shaming at the point in the NY bar though. I want to say this is down to the times – showing the ‘weird’ people that Mick is suddenly exposed to, but it’s treated entirely as a joke. And besides that, I don’t imagine that what happened in that scene is any different to things that happen now in various bars and places.

    Bechdel test: Rosita and Sue sort of communicate in the hotel room but it’s half unspoken and half spoken through Mick. Again the two prostitutes Simone and Karla both speak but it’s to Mick or about Mick… and I’m sure Sue speaks to her mother but it’s about Mick or Richard. So, unless I missed something, which is highly possible, then it’s a fail.

    Best line:
    Mick: That’s incredible. Imagine, 7 million people wanting to live together. New York must be the friendliest place on Earth.

    State of Mind: Pretty standard romantic comedy from the eighties, very much in the vein of Big. It’s very watchable, rather sweet and totally unchallenging except for that one bar scene.

    Watched movie count

    Jules et Jim (1962)

    Jules et Jim
    Directed by François Truffaut
    Written by François Truffaut and Jean Gruault based on the novel by Henri-Pierre Roché
    (number 344)

    The music in this film is jarring, that’s the first thing I noticed. Then the narration started and I realised that the conceit I’d found so surprising and charming in Amelie was in fact an homage to this classic French film. Fast talking quips about how people think, feel and know each other.

    A classic of French New Wave cinema, you can feel how it influenced other things just by watching and seeing what other films it reminds you of. It’s also very reminiscent of Warhol’s Flesh, just for the naturalistic way the conversations are filmed and the way it celebrates the loushe lives of the characters.

    In some ways Catherine feels like the original French manic pixie dream girl, she stirs up the men, enlivens their lives and is a romantic interest for first one then the other of them. Especially in the first part of the film. There’s a fascinating bit where she dresses as a man and one of them draws a moustache on her and the narration said that the disguise made her really happy but it just made Jules and Jim confused.

    That said, later on the movie demonstrates the dangers of loving a woman who is flighty and loves freedom, she had thought she could change Jules and cheer up his disposition but of course she hadn’t succeeded. Instead she had left, having given him a daughter, but found herself drawn back to him. I suspect this is less a flaw of her character than a comment on the nature of society that puts women into these boxes. Jules and Jim are both drawn to her flightiness, her spontaneity so she, being interested in them, lets that side of her flourish. Then she cannot leave those traits behind and is punished for it.

    In a lot of ways the war is a side note to the story here, which is entirely about the tortured love triangle, people making emotional sacrifices out of fear of losing the one they love forever.

    Does it make me love the people? Yes? although mostly it made me want Jules and Jim to make out. Or at least have Jules and Catherine add Jim into their relationship. I guess there wouldn’t be so much drama and conflict if they did that though.

    I couldn’t get past how much Jim resembles Brendon Fraser.

    Bechdel test: We have Sabine and Catherine, but I don’t think they speak. Therese says an awful lot but only to the men.

    Best line:
    Catherine: We were happy for a while but happiness didn’t become a part of us, we ended up face to face not together.

    State of Mind: Overall this movie didn’t really grab me. It’s too much telling and not showing, the characters are kind of annoying and the movie is on the whole kind of dull. I don’t think I’ll watch it again. Maybe 60s new wave films just aren’t my thing, and that’s just fine 🙂

    Watched movie count

    Things I Love Thursday

    As a lover of the film Boyhood, I was quite pleased to find that Ethan Hawke had actually compiled the ‘black album’ featuring the Beatles solo work but mixed in with each other. The list ishere so you can try and assemble it yourself.

    Lions who know what’s what in the car tour section…

    Beach! Summer! Sea! Swimming! Friends are neat and it’s especially neat to go to the beach on a hot summer’s day with them. Plus the water at the beach is so warm up here! Blisssss. Must try and do it again more before summer stops being so warm.

    Rangitoto

    Rangitoto

    Look maybe it’s a bit on the silly gooey coupley side, but I have been making Anna packed lunches to take to school and I’m really enjoying packing them and knowing she’s getting a good lunch. I especially like how appealing they look some days… (also I am maybe slightly obsessed with lunch boxes)

    jennitalula packed lunch

    Exciting weekend planned which I’m counting starting right now because tonight I’m going to Skin of Fire, then tomorrow at work we get a treat movie for being a good squad, then I have dinner with friends old and new and on Saturday we’re going to Walking with Dinosaurs!!! DINOSAURS! EEeee I can’t wait. I’m a little sad to not be going to Buckets of Sand, which I always love, but I think I have enough fun stuff to not worry about it too much on the day.

    Honourable Mentions: Anna, cuddles with Anna, laughing til I cry, reading aloud, people coming to me for advice, delicious takeaways, crossing movies off my 500 list, pretty music, fancy pens, considerate drivers in rush hour, new mix CDs, movies which pass the Bechdel, sorting stuff out in the house, the thought of my new kindle winging its way towards me, publishing games and sending love out into the world.

    Nostalgia track, which I knew really well thanks to my parents playing it in the car when I was a kid, rediscovered via the ‘black album’ – My Sweet Lord by George Harrison