ljlee: (kira)
I'm not a fan of Sherlock. The show has clever references and is visually well-crafted, but Watson's Throwing Off the Disability in the first episode turned me off big time and I have seen little from subsequent, passing views that there is anything there to interest me.

Nevertheless, when my visiting mother-in-law wanted us to watch The Abominable Bride special I went along with it. Well actually I was like, "Wait, how about Suffragette?" at the last minute but my husband had paid the VOD system by then, so The Abominable Bride it was. Besides, it turned out that our subscription doesn't carry Sufragette anyway.

Spoilers for The Abominable Bride )

The Abominable Bride left me fairly confirmed in my opinions. (Which is what experience usually does to opinions anyway.) Sherlock is a slick, smart show that draws a lot of drama from the relationships between its well-defined principal characters. It doesn't go much deeper than that, though. This holiday special, like the show itself, doesn't have much in the way of self-awareness or moral authority, and that in a nutshell is why Sherlock doesn't interest me.
ljlee: (muzi_laugh)
Dragon Blade 2015 posterMark was feeling a little down on New Year's and we searched for movies to watch. We both wanted something historical and he hit upon Dragon Blade, a piece of historical fiction (with heavy emphasis on "fiction") that was supposed to portray a clash between the Han Dynasty and Roman Republic on the Silk Road. I remember mentioning this movie to [personal profile] lb_lee a while ago, and it came out in early 2015. With that sexy premise and a star-studded cast of Jackie Chan, John Cusak, Adrien Brody and more, it looked promising in theory. We had both seen the trailer, though, and didn't have very high hopes. Still, we just wanted to see cool battle scenes and turn off the higher brain functions for a while.

The critical brain, however, is not so easily turned off in geeks and ended up making everything gloriously funny. I don't even know where to start. There's the hilariously implausible idea that a branch of the Han military were basically UN Peacekeepers dedicated to keeping the peace on the Silk Road without hurting anyone. (Jackie Chan beating up both sides of a fight to break it up totally counts as hurting in my book, though.) There were the unnecessarily drawn-out fight scenes. There were the huge leaps in the story that left the audience scrambling to fill in the gaps. There were crowds of men screaming in slow-motion about every half hour like they won the Superbowl, while emotional music swelled in the background trying to manipulate the audience into joining in the undeserved emotional moment. It was Hollywood's Greatest Hits put together without any structure or design, making for one of those incoherent movies where you're left wondering at the end what the hell it was all about.

In which I proceed to spoil the entire movie )

Okay, so not everything was funny and some things were just rage-making and the whole thing sucked. Still, there were some spectatular battles and fight choreography as advertised, and plenty of unintentional comedy to laugh at. The production values were high and would have worked in a better put-together movie. This possible glimpse into the future of Chinese blockbusters--the movie did fairly well in China--is both instructuve and disturbing because, as I said, Dragon Blade learned some of Hollywood's lessons very well. The disturbing part is that the lessons don't stop at overdone CGI effects and manipulative swelling music.
ljlee: (peach_moved)
I have been meaning to do a Mad Max: Fury Road post approximately forever since I've seen it (and you won't convince me there was a whole world, history, and civilization before it came out), but everything kept coming out as FTBRRLT MUST MARRY IT AND HAVE ITS BABIEZZZ. The only halfway coherent thoughts I got down were in a discussion with overlithe, so I decided to repurpose my comments into a blog post.

My thoughts on Fury Road are many and tangled, but one aspect among many is that it took and demolished common sexist tropes. Here are three major ones I can think of:

Spoilers, of course )

These three, Plucky Girl, Damsel in Distress, and Women in the Fridge are the major tropes that Mad Max: Fury Road did an excellent job of dissecting along with a whole host of toxic assumptions about women and men. The best part is, as Charlize Theron (Furiosa) said, the movie didn't even have a feminist agenda; the story is feminist by way of being honest and truthful, simply by presenting women as people. I've read stories with feminist agendas and they tend to be dreary and moralizing as agenda-driven fiction tends to be. (Legend of the Last Princess, though a concept, is representative of the type.) The latest installment of Mad Max is driven not by agenda but by truth, and that's why it is among the best feminist films of all time.
ljlee: Queen Artesia! (artesia)
Frozen is, in my memory, the first movie I have been agitating to see for an entire month. This began when I saw the Let It Go clip on YouTube via Love, Joy, Feminism. Like Libby Anne I was deeply moved by the way Elsa felt free to break away and express everything about herself she had been forced to repress all her life. Watching it, I tasted again the lonely exhilaration of that moment when you forget about being good and dutiful and give yourself permission to be your own self, a necessary if not final step to healing.

This began my hankering to see the movie, which to my disappointment would not open in Korea for another month. I all but marked the day on my calendar and pestered the husband about it every few days, until the long-suffering man took me to see it yesterday on opening night.

Here be many spoilers )

For all its flaws and limitations Frozen has come further than just about any Disney movie since Lilo and Stitch, and shows that feminist storytelling is good storytelling, period. That's only natural, since stories are about human concerns and feminist themes are issues that affect people in their relation to gender and sex. Feminism, in other words, is about huge swathes of life. Leave those out and you can't tell the full truth of human experience. Frozen goes in the right direction. My only complaint is that it doesn't go far enough.
ljlee: why not? (conch)
Here's something you might not often hear from a Lord of the Rings fan: Elves bore the hell out of me. I'm not talking the elves of the First and Second Ages, actual red-blooded bastards like Fëanor who destroyed himself and his entire line in pursuit of three sparkly gems, or his fellows who disobeyed their benevolent Valar overlords to forge a way to Middle Earth and committed lots of murder in the process. Those were the interesting elves, the ones who actually wanted stuff in the world and made mistakes, even committed crimes over those desires.

Complain, complain, complain. Also, The Hobbit. )
ljlee: (sybilla)
Movie night this time was with Kingdom of Heaven (2005), dealing with the fall of the first Christian kingdom of Jerusalem in 1187 and the plucky bastard (no, really) who led the defense of Jerusalem against the mighty armies of Saladin. My boyfriend swore up and down that the director's cut was not nearly the confusing mess the theatrical cut was said to be, and since he had gone through all the trouble of finding the version I decided to give it a shot.

Liked: Ooh, pretty... )

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L.J. Lee

June 2016

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