Rogue Nation Movie Review! Custom Scarves! And Pumpkin Hurling!

It’s already been a long day, people, and it ain’t nearly over. I had to get up lots earlier than I’ve been used to, cuz B and I went to see Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation. It’s very definitely the kind of movie that seems like a bunch of Hollywood hacks threw a ton of spy movie scripts into an industrial blender and pasted together randomly-selected bits of the results. It also sounds like it was written by stoned teenagers. The beginning is trying very hard to be clever, but ends up being flat slapstick that might have been hilarious if we’d had more time to get drunk first. Tom Cruise seems asleep at the switch for most of the movie. About the only good parts (I’ll save the best for last) are the dude who plays Benji, who has several good moments and also a fascinating accent, and of course Ving Rhames as Luther. It was tough taking Alec Baldwin seriously as a hard-ass CIA director type person, and zomg, some of the cheese that poor man had to deliver with intense serious-face. And I could not think of Jeremy Renner as anything other than Hawkeye. It made it hard to focus on what his character was supposed to be, especially since that character did not become cool until at least halfway through the movie. [Read more…]

Amy Schumer’s Trainwreck is More Like a Delay

B and I love Amy Schumer, so we had high hopes for Trainwreck. We even braved a packed house to see it on Sunday, when we’d normally wait until a few weeks after opening.

We enjoyed it, but neither one of us was bowled over by it. There were plenty of funny lines, and everyone in the theatre howled several times, so if you’re looking for a good, light rom-com, it’s a great choice. But it’s basically a standard of the genre. I was hoping for something more revolutionary. Amy does reverse a few tropes: it’s her character who’s playing the field, and the dudes who want the commitment. There are some truly hilarious moments, like the baby shower for her sister, where she gets to shock a lot of very sheltered people who make the mistake of deciding to play some confession game. LeBron James is pretty awesome as himself. In fact, there are many sports cameos, so you’ll enjoy that if you’re in to that sort of thing. [Read more…]

Never Mind Fury Road, Go See Spy!

You know how everybody was going on about what a feminist movie Mad Max: Fury Road is? Yeah. I saw it a while back, and it’s pretty good, and it was nice to see the hero get the tar (briefly) beaten out of him by a woman, and the MRA tears were simply delicious. But while it had strong female characters and was a pretty good flick, it wasn’t the feminist movie I was looking for.

Spy is.

ZOMG, you guys, it was delicious. B and I went together today in a bid to escape the heatwave. I thought I’d like it okay, y’know, well enough for a hot summer day. I didn’t expect to love it entirely and wish to stay for the next showing, and want to own it on DVD the instant it comes out. [Read more…]

Links on the Travesty that is Fifty Shades of Grey

Oh, how I hate to see that dreck making bank at the theatre. Thing is, erotica for women is so thin on the ground in popular culture that crap like this gets made into a movie, whereas the quality stuff like The Boss series doesn’t. However. Let’s hope the FSOG horror show opens up the market for better things (and full male nudity in film, which I hear didn’t happen in a film meant for horny heterosexual women, WTF?!). In the meantime, those of us who hate FSOG can continue to say why it’s so horrible. Other than the fact it won’t show us whole nekkid dudes, I mean.

Jenny saw the movie. She live-tweeted it, if you want her on-the-ground impressions, and reviewed it thoroughly. She also has these excellent posts, which I wished to commend to your attention: [Read more…]

Did You Go See Fifty Shades of Grey? Planning To? Read On…

Nope. Haven’t seen it, won’t see it, meself. But I won’t judge you if you did, whether it was a hate-watch or a guilty pleasure. I’m just here to throw a few resources your way, provide a suggestion for salving your guilty conscience, show you where to find out what real BDSM is, and open up the thread to those who want to kvetch about it. [Read more…]

Can Someone With Bollywood Knowledge Please Tell Me WTF’s Going On Here?

I miss Nami and Janhavi. They used to drag me to their houses to watch Bollywood films. I’d sit there watching people in very colorful costumes swirl around, and I’d listen to some very energetic songs, and be thoroughly mystified as to what was happening and why my friends were laughing their asses off. But then they’d pause the video and explain. For a few minutes, at least, I’d be able to vaguely follow the action, until it all got away from me again and I was left sitting like an ignorant lump until next they paused to enlighten me. One thing was for sure: anything I ever wanted or needed to know about Bollywood movies, I only needed to ask them.

But we’ve lost touch. And I haven’t many friends now who are in to Bollywood. And I haven’t been able to catch my friend R, who is a fan, outside of work for a while. So this video has thoroughly flummoxed me.

I know this must be several scenes from a film, but I haven’t the foggiest which film. I know there was a battle, and that was obviously Kali collecting blood in a bowl (hi, Kali! You’ll always be one of my favorite goddesses). I think the young dude looking on like a derp might be Krishna. And I know whoever the big brute at the end is got subjected to a mighty lecture before being finished off by the main goddess there. Outside of that, I can’t puzzle it out. I don’t know what events led to this, or what the lecture was about, or who everybody was. I have no idea if the song at all matches the clip. And I’m not sure why I’m intrigued, but I am.

So if any of you are Bollywood fans and can step in to take up Nami and Janhavi’s movie-‘splaining role, I’d love that very much. Also, you could, if you like, educate me as to your favorite films. Especially really good musicals.

Thank you, my darlings!


Goddess going after a god with a trident. I don't know who she is, but I bloody love her style.

Goddess going after a god with a trident. I don’t know who she is, but I bloody love her style.

The Truth About Guys and Gals

Last night was completely fucked up in all the best ways. Well, most of them. And it’s led to semi-deep thoughts.

Mind you, I hadn’t had enough sleep. I’d had a shitty day at work, following the shittiest four-day weekend I’ve had in forever, and just that afternoon our call center director had asked me how things were, which led to me saying “not good” and then doing too much sniveling on the way home from lunch to feel capable of stopping by the gas station for a lighter. So this is the context.

[Read more…]

Didn’t Miss a Thing – Aside from Pure Fucking Bullshit

Last week, my friends at work invited me to go see Transformers when it opened. I’m a purist, so I said no. I’m not having my delightful childhood memories of a damned fine cartoon ruined by live-action malarkey.

Turns out it’s a bloody good thing I didn’t go, because I would’ve spent most of my time fuming. My friends tell me there was plenty of not-so-veiled racism. And then there’s this:

A reader emailed me the other day to let me know about the political subtexts of Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, a big-budget action flick released last week. Reader P.C. told me the movie mentioned President Obama in a less than flattering light.

I haven’t seen it, but Matt Yglesias also saw the movie, and noticed its “searing indictment” of the administration.

[O]ne critical turn in the storyline comes when a heroic Major in the United States Army (or possibly Air Force) decides to disobey orders and mutiny against a civilian operative specifically sent by POTUS to take command of the operation. But what’s more, this is no rogue special forces officer, he’s clearly supported in his action by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who elects to turn a blind eye, and leave President Obama (who’s named specifically) in the dark as he cowers in fear in an underground bunker. Obama, you see, has ordered American forces to attempt to appease the Deceptecon threat by halting all collaboration with the Autobots, and agreeing to turn Sam Witwicky over to the forces of evil. By defying Obama and staging what amounts to a coup, the military saves the day.


Maybe Michael Bay could stick to explosions and steer clear of political messages? (If we’re lucky, he might also stay away from cameras, the movie industry, scripts, actors….)

If only we were so lucky. Hollywood’s output would improve a thousand-fold if a Transformer prop were to fall over and end Bay’s career. There should be a law against no-talent hacks politicizing movies inspired by iconic childrens’ cartoons.

At least we know whose side he would’ve been on in the cartoon series. It begins with Decepti– and ends in Con.

Oceans of Inspiration

Every writer has something that opens every floodgate and releases images and words in torrents. A song, a drink, an exercise, a person.

For me, it’s movies.

Certain movies become anthems. They scour me down to essentials: I become an instrument, nothing more than the story that’s unfolding inside me, spilling from my fingers faster than I can type. They strip everything else away. Food, sleep, other people all lose their importance. The movie drives the story, and the story becomes the entirety of my world.

I’m almost afraid to tell you which movies have done this. Just remember that no matter how the critics panned it, no matter how many folks thought it was the most ridiculous bit of Hollywood schlock ever to hit the big screen, it somehow tickled the Muse. And when the Muse gets tickled, all choice I have gets definistrated.

(That’s thrown right out the bloody window, for you non-sesquipadaleans in the audience.)

One of those movies was MI:2. Seriously. Yes, even with Tom fucking Cruise. Remember, it was right before he went completely batshit insane. I lost count of how many times I saw it in the theater. It came out right as I was halfway through Trinity, the only novel I’ve ever actually finished, and something about it just screamed Adrian Sykes, the anti-hero star. For weeks, I had a specific routine: I’d see MI:2 every couple of days, and I wrote. That movie, coupled with the Highlander episodes starring Methos, drove the story to completion. Highlander, I can at least explain: Adrian comes from the same part of England as Peter Wingfield, the actor who plays Methos, so there was the accent to consider. There was also the fact that I first heard Adrian speaking to me because of Highlander. But I still to this day don’t know exactly what it was about MI:2 that released the flood. Adrian’s nothing like Ethan Hunt, and the book is really nothing like a Mission: Impossible story. But there we were, and what else could I do but what the Muse demanded?

(And yes, in case you’re wondering by now: inspiration is an awful lot like insanity. Thanks for asking.)

Lord of the Rings should be a no-brainer. And yes, I saw it more than MI:2. But not as many times as the group of high school kids in their elf costumes. That trilogy is something I try to watch at least once a year, because it gets me into epic storytelling mode. It knocked the breath from my body when I first saw it. It was precisely what I wanted to accomplish: the myth, the meaning, the sweep and scope, the rich detail…. So I don’t have elves, Hobbits, wizards, or any of that sort o’ thing. What I’ve got is worlds as beautiful, stories that dive as deep into the huge questions of good, evil and fellowship. Those movies taught me something important: slow down. The story can move along just fine even if you’re travelling down a few scenic routes rather than flying along the freeway. And fantasy worlds need to be so complete.

Batman Begins is my theme movie for the book I’m preparing to write now. I think you’ll understand when you meet the main character, which you should soon, because I plan to have it complete by the end of next year. Christian Bale’s Batman is absolutely him. Although no, he doesn’t dress up in costumes and fight supervillains. It’s the darkness they share.

Dark Knight is going to take me in a whole new direction.

You see, movies spark ideas. And what this movie has shown me is exactly how much work I’ve got cut out for me, making my Big Bad truly terrifying. It’s gotten me to thinking about adversaries you can’t fathom, desperation on unimaginable scales, evil you just can’t overcome. I’ve been struggling with that for years. I’ve read books on evil, and all of it falls so short of what I know that evil would be. Satan? A buffoon, a rank amateur, compared to my main evil guy. Think of every terror you’ve ever had, every bad guy who left you shitting yourself in terror, and magnify that by a trillion. Somehow, that’s how Sha’daal has to come across – and yet, seductively elegant, understated, nothing at all what you’d expect. The dichotomy between world-destroying acts and a soft-spoken being drives me absolutely nuts. But I think Dark Knight will allow me to achieve the proper mood with him and the destruction he leaves in his wake.

(And no, he’ll be absolutely nothing like the Joker. I’m not that obvious. Look, people who read Trinity didn’t even realize the inspiration had been provided by MI:2. And I’m getting rid of the stupid Highlander in-jokes that crept in when I do the re-write.)

What Dark Knight does for me is helps me to feel what my characters are going through as their entire world comes toppling down around them. And I needed to feel that. I caught a glimmer of it in the Battlestar Galactica miniseries, when the Cylons destroy the colonies: but this is so much darker. It makes the destruction of the colonies look like a bad day at Disneyland.

If I can make Dark Knight look like a really bad day at Disneyland, I’ll have accomplished what I set out to do. And then it’s off to intensive therapy for me: a few months of Pirates of the Caribbean, coupled with massive amounts of rum, should bring me back from the utter darkness again.

Until the next time we have to slide beneath the waves…