ASK Musings

No matter where you go, there you are.

Movies Archive

Wednesday

22

October 2014

0

COMMENTS

Steel Magnolias

Written by , Posted in Reviews

I have not watched this movie in years. I’m not going to say it ‘holds up’ in that it is timeless, but it does, in a way, hold up. The decor gives away the decade (80s), but the clothing … not so much. Shelby’s honeymoon suit could be found, more or less, in any department store these days. And although the hairstyles are dated, the shirts that the guys are wearing could be found at American Apparel. It’s weird.

The story is as dramatic as I remember, and man, the dialogue is super cheesey but it’s also super awesome. I’m finding that I remember so many of the lines. I mean, I’m pretty sure at least once a holiday season I ask someone if they have a reindeer up their butt. Even the lines that are just too over the top somehow work. Maybe it’s because I first saw this when I was really young so I didn’t bat an eye at so much sincerity in one place.

There are obviously some problems with it (for example, the only black people in it were housekeepers or wedding guests). But it’s really cool to think about this as a movie that explores not just mother-daughter relationships, but relationships among older women. I mean, look at that cast. These are women in their 40s and 50s, and they have conversations about silly things and real things. I don’t know how the film was marketed when it originally came out, but as I get older I appreciate it more.

Thursday

2

October 2014

0

COMMENTS

Veronica Mars

Written by , Posted in Reviews

Oh man. Did you know there’s this show about a high school detective? And it’s good? And she’s a complex character with flaws but isn’t dumb or written as primarily existing for men? And she has conversations with her dad that are interesting and not just ‘sullen teenager’ b.s.?

I don’t know why I didn’t start watching it when it came out. I was 24 and had just finished grad school when it premiered; maybe I thought it was a purely high school show? Regardless, I’m a season in and really enjoying it. One benefit of having been outside the target demographic is I am not spoiled; I know nothing other than it lasted three seasons and then there was a movie recently. So I feel like I’m watching a new series.

But back to why the show is so good. It deals with class issues and gender issues and sexual assault and relationships in ways that feel new and interesting while not actually being that original. I mean, yes, the flowers in the attic thing was a new one for TV, but dating best friends? Yeah, we’ve seen that. But here they show that not all interactions are extreme hatred or pure love. People are complicated and selfish and flawed, and Veronica is no different.

I can’t wait to watch more, but I know I’ll be sad when it’s over.

Friday

4

July 2014

0

COMMENTS

The Internet’s Own Boy – A Review and More

Written by , Posted in Politics, Reviews

The Internet’s Own Boy

The way I spent today is not how I’ve spent past 4th of July holidays, but I think I’m going to aim to do so in the future. Instead of fireworks and barbecues, I would love to take the 4th of July as a day to really examine an issue or two (via film, music, art or books) that our country is getting wrong. Yes, there are some fantastic things about this country, but the more I read and the more I learn, the more I see so many injustices. There are the obvious ongoing ones (colonialism, slavery, racism, misogyny, the carceral state, income inequality), but there are also the ones that I am just not tracking but clearly should be.

This film falls into the latter category. After watching it I’m angry, I’m sad, and I’m inspired as hell but also a little overwhelmed. A lack of knowledge – scientific, historic, and political – motivates the authors of so many bad laws, court decisions, and policies. We only need to look at Monday’s Hobby Lobby ruling, where a company was allowed to argue that because they claim to believe something – even if it is wrong (Plan B is not, in fact, an abortifacient) – they can use that to deny access to healthcare to others. That basic lack of scientific understanding is the foundation of so many horrific policies. If more people in the public (not those in power – they likely know what’s up, but don’t benefit from the facts and so twist or deny them instead) had the opportunity to see how laws are implemented, or studies are conducted, or research is done, they might view things differently, might support different causes, and might not be as content with the status quo.

Aaron Swartz was many things, and this documentary seeks to share who he was with the public while exploring the seemingly abusive prosecution that appears to have ultimately lead to his suicide. Faced with 13 counts of charges stemming from plugging his computer into MIT’s system to download journal articles (possibly with the goal of analyzing them to see if there is a relationship between corporate dollars and how climate change science is researched), he took his own life. I had read about what many view as prosecutorial misconduct in this case – this likely should have been a simple civil matter between Mr. Swartz and MIT, not a literal federal case – but this film certainly helped me understand it better.

The narrative is pretty straightforward. We follow Mr. Swartz from his youth (reading by the age of three) through his 20s, when he was an instrumental part of stopping SOPA, a horribly crafted piece of legislation that you might remember from when many sites – including Wikipedia and Reddit – went dark for a full 24-hours to protest the censorship the bill would perpetuate. Mr. Swartz believed in knowledge and education, and felt strongly that the public should have access to knowledge and public materials. Through interviews with his family members, former colleagues (including Lawrence Lessig), and members of the community fighting for an open internet (e.g. Electronic Frontier Foundation), the film builds a picture of someone who was a rational idealist and a real progressive who saw important wrongs that needed to be fixed.

When I was contemplating law school I assumed I would go into mass media law. I found it fascinating, and since I was attending school during the turn of the century, there was a lot that was not known. Napster was still a thing, and piracy was presented as the beginning of the end for creativity and knowledge. And here is where I am still conflicted. We live in a money-fueled society. In the current system, journal articles and other research and knowledge are often built as a way for the authors to learn but also to survive. For someone to be able to spend months on a research project, they need to be able to have a place to live, food to eat, etc. While many of these articles are funded by research grants and tax dollars from the government, I have a hard time trying to figure out how, in the system we currently have, right now, we can change the motivation while still making the information public.

But thanks to films like this, I’m interested. I want to learn more. I know net neutrality is in trouble, and I want to be involved in ways to ensure that corporations can’t limit my access to certain website. I’m furious that the FBI and others felt that it made sense to prosecute this man literally to death because he downloaded journal articles. I’m also interested in learning more about how to balance creativity and knowledge with surviving in the system we have now while seeking to change the system itself.

I suggest checking the film out, especially if you are someone who wants to see this nation do better and be better. If you’re in Seattle, it’s playing at the Egyptian from the 11th through the 18th. It’s also available nationally via Amazon streaming for about $7 for a three-day rental.

Monday

26

August 2013

0

COMMENTS

Miss Representation

Written by , Posted in Feminism, Reviews

Four stars

Miss Representation is a mostly well-done documentary about the portrayal of women in the media. It looks at a whole host of issues, from the roles available the female actresses, to the lack of women in high political office to the dearth of women on the boards of media conglomerates. There are interviews with some extremely high-powered and visible women (such as Condoleezza Rice and Geena Davis) interspersed with profiles of high school-aged women discussing how the ways women are portrayed in the media have impacted them directly.

Before I jump into what I liked, I wanted to take a minute up front to say what I didn’t like. The filmmaker employs a narrative device that was a little cheesy for my tastes. The whole premise is that she’s pregnant and going to have a girl, and she’s wondering about the world this daughter will grow up in. That part I totally get, but the way it’s done is not … great. It feels a little like an SNL parody. Additionally, there isn’t enough intersectionality for my tastes. Secretary Rice does bring up representations of women of color, but the film could have been SO much stronger if it spent some time really focusing on how the ways women of color are marginalized often differ from the ways white women are marginalized.

Beyond that, nearly every part of the documentary spoke to me in some way. From the depressing reminder of how both Palin and Clinton were treated in the 2008 election (that clip from SNL with both Fey and Poehler at the podium still makes me laugh and then want to cry), to the lack of support for female screenwriters and directors who clearly could have a different perspective, to the photo-shopping of women’s bodies to lead us all to believe that a size 2-4 (can’t be TOO skinny, amirite?) with DDD breasts, clear skin and long flowing hair is not only attainable by all women, but should be their goal, it’s all so familiar and really depressing. I think about how much of my own internal monologue (I’m healthy, it’s fine, so I gained ten pounds, ugh I’m fat, no but that’s society and I’m awesome as I am, but still why can’t I look like HER) has been shaped over the years, and how it’s really a daily struggle to fight back against what I’ve been exposed to my whole life.

To pull out one component to share as an example, there is fantastic (albeit fairly short) segment focused on the B.S. idea that men are the default, and anything featuring women is a specialty bit of media. A film with a male lead is meant to be for everyone, but a film with a female lead? That’s for women only, because how could men expect to be interested? It doesn’t help that those female leads are so often searching for a man to complete them, whereas so many of the male-led films are about the man’s quest to find himself or to solve some problem. The example they used was Star Trek (the first in the latest reboot) – it’s not about Kirk finding love, it’s about finding his destiny. Can we have more of that for women?

All of this makes me think about my friends who are having kids and how I can actively promote positive views of women that fall outside the mass media norm. Not talking negatively about people who look different from me is a no-brainer, but even being vocal about non-conventional choices I’ve made to show that there are all sorts of ways to create a happy life is a way to live my feminism and ensure that it isn’t just something I think about. We’re not having kids, and that’s not something to hide; it’s something to share to point out that there are a lot of different ways to have a family. The fact that we now have a blended last name is also very important to me; it shows that the decision of how to create the new family can be an active choice, and one that represents my values. But what else can I do to be supportive of these kids in a way that shows women have value for reasons beyond how they look in a swimsuit?

Some of this, I think, requires us to make more conscious choices about the media we consume. Sure, it’s easy to just go to the blockbuster because it’s out and everyone wants to go – but what if we DON’T go if there aren’t women represented in them with a story line that isn’t focused on their attempt to find a man? The Heat wasn’t the best film I’ve seen in years, but I was thrilled to give it my money because the focus was not on a romantic interest, but on women and their relationships with each other and their work. I don’t think every decision about the media we consume needs to be a political act, but I wonder how much more representative it would be if more of our decisions WERE political acts?

Anyway, those are my thoughts. Below is the trailer – see for yourself. It’s currently streaming on Netflix.

 

Tuesday

13

August 2013

0

COMMENTS

What I’m Reading – August 13 2013

Written by , Posted in Reviews, What I'm Reading

I just saw “Kick Ass 2” and it was not good. Depressingly not good. Racist, xenophobic gags (a ‘good guy’ actually says at one point “want me to go Saudi Arabia on that hand of yours?” and then cuts it off). Also so much violence not from a comic-book-superhero-place but from a “wait, is this Saw LX?” place. I really enjoyed the first one, and maybe I missed racism and xenophobia in that one, but man, it’s pretty impossible to ignore in this one. Bad. Really bad.

Now that I’m done with depressing fake stuff, here’s some depressing (and not so depressing) real stuff!

– Tired of reading about race and feminism? Too bad! We Need to Talk About Hugo, Race, and Feminism (via @BitchMedia)

– Another article on the HS issue: Yes, This Is About Race (via @redlightvoices)

– Here’s a term I didn’t know until about a week ago: Microaggressions (h/t @stavvers)

You’ll likely notice the @someone after the articles. I realized today that even though I’ve mentioned I get virtually all these links from interesting folks I follow on twitter, it’s appropriate to actually credit them. If it says ‘via’ it’s because I found it directly from the author; if it’s h/t, it’s the person who tweeted about it but isn’t the author.

– And finally, via the Mister, Back to the Future. In 60 seconds.

 

Tuesday

13

October 2009

0

COMMENTS

Sunday

19

July 2009

0

COMMENTS

One month to go

Written by , Posted in Reviews

I fly to Caifornia in a month. So much left to do. Like get a ticket to London.

 I have chosen to spend my time not packing, or sorting, or selling.

No, I’m going to movies.

 There are some blockbusters I have no desire to see (Transformers, I’m looking at you), and some I’m excited for (Funny People may have Adam Sandler, but I’m still looking forward to it). Yesterday I fit in two biggies – Public Enemies and Harry Potter. Johnny Depp and Marion Cotilliard are brilliant. Christian Bale was ok. But I enjoyed it. And Harry Potter was as expected – entertaining and fun

 Today I’m really excited to see 500 Days of Summer. Zooey Deschanel can do no wrong in my eyes. And Joseph Gordan-Levitt has that something working for him.

Sunday

21

June 2009

0

COMMENTS

Sondre Lerche – Modern Nature

Written by , Posted in Reviews

The moment has come to face the truth
I’m wide awake, and so are you
Do you have a clue what this is? (I don’t know)
Are you everything that I miss? (I don’t hope so)
We’ll just have to wait and see (Wait, and see)
If things go right we’re meant to be

The surface is gone, we scratched it off
We made some plans, and let them go
Do you have the slightest idea (No, I don’t)
Why the world is bright with you here? (Oh, is that so?)
Stay a while and wait and see (wait, and see)
If things go right we’re meant to be

Oh, what a world this life would be
Forget all your technicolour dreams
Forget modern nature
This is how it´s meant to be

The time is here for being straight
It´s not too early and never too late
People say I should watch my pace (What do they know?)
“Think how you spend all your days” (They all say so)
They´ll just have to wait and see (Wait, and see)
If things go right they´ll have to agree

Oh, what a world this life would be
Forget all your technicolour dreams
Forget modern nature
This is how it´s meant to be

Do you have the slightest idea (No, I don’t)
Why the world is bright with you here? (Oh, is that so?)
Stay a while and wait and see (wait, and see)
If things go right we’re meant to be

Oh, what a world this life would be
Forget all your technicolour dreams
Forget modern nature
This is how it´s meant to be

Forget modern nature
This is how it´s meant to be

Saturday

20

June 2009

2

COMMENTS

Do Not

Written by , Posted in Reviews

Do not go see The Taking of Pelham 123. So bad. And it takes A LOT for me to actively warn against a film. Now, part of the problem is that I know about a) emergency management and b) the layout of the City. But still. Bad acting. As Justin put it; “It was an action movie from 1990.”

 Maybe Netflix it to play the following drinking game – every time John Travolta’s character says “f–k,” drink. If he says “Mother F–ker,” do a shot. You’ll be passed out 15 minutes in.

Sunday

10

May 2009

0

COMMENTS