Originally published at a denizen's entertainment. You can comment here or there.

Yesterday I watched a Care Bears movie (Care Bears Movie II: A New Generation), because it was on and I was curious how I would respond to it. I've never been familiar with the Care Bears franchise, wondered if it would evoke childhood nostalgia or not.

About half an hour in I decided the movie made a good metaphor for the cold war. At that point the Care Bears have just taken a couple of dispirited blond kids to their realm and given them a boost of caring and self esteem. Meanwhile Dark Heart has extorted control over their brunette friend with the promise of power.

So, proxy warfare by two competing interests to decide how third parties will live.

I do like the end credits song a lot. I was first shown that piece (Forever Young) by Elena and have enjoyed it very much since. Very straightforward song of friendship.

I was a bit taken back by race in the movie. All the humans I saw were very white, except one non-speaking background child who was black. That seemed very odd.

Speaking of which, I was disappointed to discover in starting a new game of Doom 3 that there are no character customisation options beyond choosing a name.

aesmael: (haircut)
In conversations with [livejournal.com profile] lost_angelwings one of the topics she has talked about, especially in relation to Star Wars (and criticism of same), is conveying narrative through fight scenes and how this can be done well or poorly.

Last night I had this in mind as I was watching a movie presented as The Protector (or more properly, Tom-Yum-Goong according to Wikipedia), which features a man named Kham who is of a line of guards protecting the King of Thailand's war elephants and who pursues poachers to Sydney, Australia when the two he is closest with (Por Yai and the calf Kohm) are kidnapped, trying to rescue and return them home. Along the way he is troubled by corrupt white Australian cops who try to kill him and large numbers of people who arrange to be beaten up him, or occasionally to beat him up.

I was not paying especial attention to the plot since most of the movie is in Thai and subtitled and I was busier with my laptop for most of the time. One part which did catch my attention is very relevant to the first paragraph of this post. About halfway through the film Kham has tracked the the people responsible to a restaurant and I was amazed to see a single shot go on four about four minutes following Kham as he fights his way in a spiral up to the top floor. He bursts into the top floor of the restaurant and demands to know where his elephants are. A small group of people come out from the back and mock him about it, shots from around the restaurant and the service counter imply the elephants have been killed, cooked and are being eaten right now. We see his despair as he takes this in and as the lead of the group, wearing white, knocks him down decisively a couple of times while he is still too stunned to defend himself, taunting him with the elephant Kohm's bell. At this we see Kham recollect himself with anger and determination, wrap the bell around his hand and beat down his opponent and others, pushing his way to the back of the restaurant where he finds numerous smuggled animals ready to be killed and served (and the elephant calf Kohm who is alive).

That scene had me rapt all the way through.

There is another somewhat similar scene toward the end when Kham finally finds Por Yai's skeleton mounted on display. He is overcome by this and knocked around helplessly by his roomful of opponents for several seconds. When he recovers himself he takes out his anger by methodically breaking the bones of each of them in turn, leaving behind a floor covered in people groaning in pain.

These are I suppose simple things to communicate in fight scenes (although I did not do them justice, I think), but seeing them so well executed helped me to appreciate the power such sequences are capable of having. It has definitely inspired me to think about how I might apply such craft to my own work.

I said I was not paying much attention except to scenes which especially caught my attention so unless I was watching the US cut (which edited this out among many other changes, and which seems likely at this time) that probably explains why I did not realise until looking it up on Wikipedia that one of the film's main villains is a transsexual woman played by a transsexual woman.
aesmael: (tricicat)
I always thought of Kill Bill as basically the Mirror Universe version of Charlie's Angels.

Edit: The part where she goes after O-Ren Ishii reminds me of the Hundred Man Battle from Berserk, with Gogo in the role of Adon's brother (same weapon and all, updated), although... hard to say who fared better. Guts seemed to manage the fighting easier, but The Bride can walk away under her own power at the end.

Edit2: I'll take that back. Accounting for the story styles those events are embedded in, I'd say they do about even.

Kinda wishing I could watch this with [livejournal.com profile] soltice and [livejournal.com profile] pazi_ashfeather, since mockery is probably the only way I could enjoy watching it. Could very well be among the very most scientifically laughable things I've seen even including fantasy stories.
aesmael: (tricicat)
Been seeing ads for Star Trek recently. Usually I perk up and think it looks like a fun actiony science fiction movie. Then I see which movie it is and get disappointed. Presumably the trailer is misleading to some extent but... the Enterprise crew should not be putting me in mind of space marines from Quake. It does not look or feel like Star Trek to me. It looks and feels like a potentially fun action adventure movie in space, one that happens to have familiar franchise and character names.

So, unless this film has some really magical quality that makes me revise my opinion when I see it... as far as I am concerned they have failed at making a Star Trek film. Which does not mean I think it is necessarily a bad film (though it might be), or that I am opposed to a franchise reboot (actually would have favoured an outright reboot rather than one which, according to what I have read of it, seeks an internal explanation for suddenly altered history).

What it does make me think is maybe we should have a franchise which fills the cultural role this film looks to be aiming for, so we can have that and the Star Trek role both filled. Although there's often been action in Star Trek, and I rather like seeing it there, I think the franchise is let down when it becomes the main focus (cf. Nemesis). Balance of Terror was a great episode not specifically for including combat but for what it used the battle to show about the characters and politics involved. It also happened to, I think, establish starship combat as more akin to submarine combat than dogfights, something which seems to have been forgotten since Generations. Then again, a lot of what has been going on since seems to have been attempts to replicate past successes.

But that's a digression. What I mean is, seeing these ads has had me thinking I would really like to see a science fiction franchise for which they would be accurately capturing the spirit. I want a science fiction series, television and film, in which the standard thing is big explosions and fights and heroic battles against evil with spaceships and all that jazz. I've never actually, really, seen something like that even though it has enough cultural presence already to suggest it would be very welcome. I want to have that show, that series, and I would really like to see it coexist with Star Trek.

As for Star Trek itself, my pre-film thoughts are that I want the franchise to be rebooted, because the existing continuity is worn out. However, I'd rather an outright reboot than the time travel messing about my reading suggests is happening. And it looks like this version might be more action-adventure than I'd prefer, where my ideal Star Trek is offering of utopian future and meditative on human nature (and not infrequently informed by violent conflict, yes).

So that's how it looks to me currently, and what I'd like to happen.
aesmael: (tricicat)
Dr Shepard, a famed astrophysicist discovers - all too late - that the sun's age has been miscalculated and that it will supernova in a matter of only days destroying the Earth and everything else in our solar system. When Dr Shepard disappears, his prophecy materialises as enormous solar particles start to land on Earth. Amongst the panic, a group of scientists begin the desperate search for Dr Shepard, while the government scheme to help a small group of civilians escape the coming disaster by furnishing underground bunkers to shield and protect them.
Now, we could say everything in this movie works fine because if they are positing an error in one aspect of our astronomical knowledge for the premise of this film, why not more errors to cover up everything else? But that would not be fun.

They included a shot of Sydney being destroyed. I thought that was nice, the film-makers remembered Australia and decided to include it in the destruction. Then I looked up some material on the film and discovered it was supposedly set in Australia. I'd been confused by the lack of Australian accents, locations, set dressings, demographics, or indeed anything which looked other than American. I mean, excepting shots of places like the Taj Mahal or Korea. Apparently it was actually shot in South Africa using South African actors (and a lot of Americans), which I suppose gives an indication of the attention to detail and consistency here.
"We watched for a while before we realised that it wasn't Sydney, it was Capetown and the movie was actually set there. That explains why there were so many black people in 'Sydney', why the paper money was not Australian, why the number plates on all the vehicles were not Aussie and why one of the bad guys had such a weird accent.
Other clues - a quick glimpse of a building with a Dutch name and several long shots over the blasted city showing Table Mountain clearly as a background. "

"Negro house maids??? Negro?? Housemaids?? And not just one but two, one for each house"

We, uh, we don't execute people either. Better stop there before I run out of space.

Now, the disaster? Maybe it is not fair to criticise it since... No, we will get there the long way. Let's admit the premise of the disaster, and that alone, say maybe we have the age of the sun wrong. Unfortunately that is still not going to get us a supernova, because our sun has far too little mass for such an event to be part of its undisturbed existence.

If they wanted to be more realistic we might have to worry about an imminent expansion to red giant but perhaps most film-makers have difficulty sustaining tension over thousands of years of story time. They'd have to have that before we would be having a supernova anyway.

Then there were those... solar meteors. They looked a lot like meteorites from Armageddon destroying cities except these supposedly were ejected from the sun. Back before I realised this was supposed to be set in Australia I thought we had a bit of a 'flat world' effect when there appeared to be simultaneous strikes in India, Australia and the United States... but that might have been meant to be Australia too. After a while of that falling the scientist figures pronounced that they'd induce a nuclear winter and render humans extinct even before the supernova.

Bunkers seem a pretty pitiful way to attempt preservation of the species. Even if the planet weren't effectively destroyed by the explosion, humans remain ultimately dependant on sunlight to survive. It would be condemning them to a slow death rather than a swift one.

But we needn't have worried, because it turns out there was a mathematical operator substitution in the equation predicting the sun's revised lifespan and therefore no disaster impending after all. The solar meteors obligingly stopped at this point, and then the nuclear winter was rained out of the sky but not before a family had to fight off a serial killer (awful lot of handguns for Australia, btw).

In conclusion: o.O

I think the most saddening aspect was looking it up on IMDB and finding a couple of posts insisting on the movie's plausibility, one from someone claiming to have an interest in science. At least it is followed by Conan the Barbarian, which has the advantage of being set in a fictional time in a fictional place and not giving me any cause to think it might have been meant to be taken seriously.
aesmael: (tricicat)
Bizarrely, my mother refuses to believe me that I am not watching Terminator 2: Judgement Day tonight because it is a bit of a tear-jerker and I don't feel like crying tonight.

Also, I want to start using these. This only reinforces my contention that our language could be far richer, or even possibly is far richer than common use would suggest.
aesmael: (haircut)
Which school of not acting do you subscribe to? Will Smith or Keanu Reeves or other?
aesmael: (nervous)
Also a few minutes ago watching a different, non-Firefly related film, This Is England.

The subject being skinheads, it was a very tense and disquieting film with a little actual and a lot of implied or threatened violence. And this is a very short post, because what I really want to say is...

What struck me most about the film is how closely the skinhead rhetoric in the film matches mainstream media messages about race and immigration in at least Australia and I think probably other English speaking nations too. Stories on the news saying immigrants taking advantage of welfare, or talk of Asians taking jobs from hard-working 'Australians', colluding with each other in business. Or of Lebanese men as thugs and rapists... the only significant difference I saw between the skinheads portrayed in this film and mainstream media and culture is that the skinheads spoke with open intention of taking direct personal action about their rhetoric.

But the stories we tell ourselves in this white-dominated culture serve to suggest menace, danger from those who do not look like us. They refuse to learn our language. They take all the jobs, deal with each other, and keep the hard-working 'us' from catching a break in life. They are like animals, without respect for authority and after our women. These look like the stories people tell to justify and motivate racist violence because they are the stories people tell to justify and motivate racist violence. Or legislation.

These aren't secret thoughts whispered in hidden robed meetings. These are our cultural narratives, spoke openly, widely, absorbed. Default perspectives.
aesmael: (sudden sailor)
Just finished watching Dr. Strangelove for the first time. There is a terrible beauty to it.
aesmael: (haircut)
Bored with that titling system. Let's leave it blank for now.

Dispatches from the Culture Wars
  1. Thoughts on Day One of the DNC [Maybe I should amalgamate all the Scienceblogs postings under a single heading. I find something vaguely distasteful about this and the last post from here. Maybe it is an air of self-congratulation.]
  2. Effete Hollywood Elitists for McCain

Google Reader Shared Items
  1. The Future of Books [via [livejournal.com profile] soltice. Was expecting "E-books: Yea or abomination?" Instead, Pretty.]
  2. Laser pointers banned in New South Wales after rash of attacks on pilots [via [livejournal.com profile] soltice. But I want one.]
  3. Super Mario Girls [via [livejournal.com profile] soltice. Cute, yes. Not everything needs to be done with sex appeal in mind though. And since when are "fluffy clouds with faces and bubbly turtles and blocky landscapes" unmanly? But I like the picture.]
  4. Cat 5 wedding rings help nerds couple [via [livejournal.com profile] soltice. I, uh, don't know what these actually do.]
  5. Moe Angel with Headphones [via [livejournal.com profile] soltice. Cute cute cute! *save*]
  6. Bioware devs debate whether Wii is part of gaming [via [livejournal.com profile] gentle_gamer. It seems an odd question to me, since the Wii seems clearly a device for playing games, but the post is just a quick summary linking to an interview. No, wait. That was a preface too. Interview here. There are lots of words there at the beginning but I am not entirely sure these people are saying anything... a bit like reading some Post-Modern discourse. It seems like an interesting question though: what counts as gaming? I want to say "playing a game". This talk of narrative... that seems like something else to me. Something called 'narrative'. Describing the experience of playing a Wii as "toy-like", or making a distinction with sports such as tennis, this seems to me like an attempt to mark gaming as a particular kind of experience, a particular approach to an activity. I think what is being gotten at is a degree of seriousness and immersion. I think it probably does constitute a bundle of approaches, any subset of which can apply at a given time, and what the Bioware folks are talking about constitutes one of these subsets. Although reading to the end of the page I think I misunderstood them a bit. I am being vague because I am tired. Possibly follow up later with input from others?]
  7. Celebrate Mario Kart Wii with alternate karts, Wii wheel substitutions [via [livejournal.com profile] gentle_gamer. Funny.]
  8. Working NES squeezed into ... an NES cartridge [via [livejournal.com profile] gentle_gamer. Wow, neat! This title messes with my ideas of how it should be pronounced.]
  9. SIU responds to anti-feminist email [via [livejournal.com profile] gentle_gamer. Oh, wow! It feels so rare to see such a desirable response, it can get disheartening.]
  10. The Fag Bug is back! [via [livejournal.com profile] gentle_gamer. That's a pretty creative and great response to vandalism. Interesting seeing the change in tone of people's responses between the first post, in which Erin Davies starts her mission, and the second post, in which it is revealed she is getting a book and film deal out of this.]

Gmail Web Clip clickings
  1. David Wain Moves From Wainy Days to Role Models [Who is this guy? Why do I care what he does? I fear curiosity clicking from gmail has gotten the better of me...]
  2. Time to "Free the Airwaves" [Google would like people to be activist on their behalf.]
  3. Top Fun Date Ideas [These are not romantic? My idea of a going-somewhere date is to do something we will enjoy, so these seem more like standard date ideas than special fun ones. Admittedly I have been on very few dates in my life, but this makes it seem like something which is supposed to be very restrained in ways which are not interesting to me. At least now I know what an Interpretive Center is.*]

Respectful Insolence
  1. "To kill and cure cancer, you must first understand it" [Orac is as ever verbose.]

  1. The luxury of time [I've not encountered this blog before. This is... fascinating. Not much to say because processing.]

Uncertain Principles
  1. It's 4am [Labs are not supposed to be flooded. Unless you work in underseaology.]

My assignment is as done as it is getting, so I sleep now. Test in five hours.

*This whole response reads like something which I would respond to in someone else with scorn, as if they are trying to show off how special and above ordinary concerns they are. Ah well.
aesmael: (tricicat)
As ever, I am reminded how much I wish The Hedge Knight had been made instead.
aesmael: (friendly)
Watching The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and the Professor, when talking with the children on the possible truthfulness of Lucy's tale of Narnia, used the same 'Lunatic, liar or Lord' argument I am told C. S. Lewis used as an argument for Jesus as Christ.

Now I am wondering if this is from the novel or if it were added in to the film. It never seemed a convincing argument, since there seemed far too much unexamined space in the first two parts of the trilemma. I have not yet seen Lewis' own formulation, though (beyond this).
aesmael: (transformation)
(10:37:16 PM) flynnacatri: http://www.sluggy.com/daily.php?date=980814
(10:38:06 PM) aesmael: Medic flowers are very rare, but have tremendously fantastic properties.
(10:38:20 PM) flynnacatri: Zigactement!
(10:38:24 PM) flynnacatri: Like bezoars
(10:38:31 PM) flynnacatri: ...and sleep...
(10:38:36 PM) flynnacatri: and anithistamines. Dammitr
(10:38:47 PM) aesmael: Sleepistimines.
(10:39:14 PM) flynnacatri: yesssss....
(10:39:20 PM) flynnacatri: frog pils
(10:39:22 PM) aesmael: Bezoars live deep in the forest. Their quills make extracting the healing juice a risky prospect.
(10:39:27 PM) aesmael: Dessicated.
(10:40:06 PM) flynnacatri: Requires gloves of the northern silver thistle leaf and tongs from sapient pearwood to fend off the individually attacking bristles
(10:40:07 PM) aesmael: http://www.gocomics.com/calvinandhobbes/2008/04/01/
See? You are real!
(10:40:23 PM) flynnacatri: No. I am a typing autobot.
(10:40:57 PM) aesmael: Alt-form?
(10:41:06 PM) flynnacatri: Invisible
(10:41:38 PM) aesmael: Translucent.
(10:41:46 PM) flynnacatri: Dryers are evil consumerism
(10:41:46 PM) aesmael: Transparent aluminum.
(10:43:12 PM) flynnacatri: Yes! IT CALLS ME! A great disturbance in the ocean mesopelagic zone! As if many phytoplankton CRIED OUT in sudden terror
(10:43:33 PM) aesmael: =^____^=
aesmael: (Electric Waves)
    Watched it for the first time last night. It was just as tangentially related to the source material as I expected and bore, in my opinion, closer resemblance to Caves of Steel and Caliban than I, Robot. Very surprised to discover the central character was not named Elijah Bailey (just looked it up; I am terrible with character names in film).
    What I think annoyed me most was that they made Susan Calvin into the sidekick. She is a brilliant robopsychologist, not someone who needs Hansel & Gretel explained to her, nor a person who needs constant saving. She was one of my childhood heroes and it was painful seeing her made a foil to the protagonist.
    I suppose there is no market for science fiction detective stories.
    The truth is, I did not actually pay much attention to the film. It simply was not interesting. I only watched it to compare with the original collection

    Now I suppose I should scrounge around for a copy to reassure myself that Susan really was intelligent, perceptive, sharp... I remember her as being middle-aged too, although she has been older and younger in stories. *sigh* She did have a nice coat.

    The rest of the film is very rantable too. I do not think I can consider this film for what it is or tried to be; it reminds me too much of what it is not.
aesmael: (tricicat)
    Thanks to iGoogle, a quick sweep through the most recent entries in my feeds.
  1. kimberella|Larvatus Prodeo in exile So much for the religious right [Family First made barely a blip in election; I think they were split with the Christian Democrats]
  2. The Merchant of Menace|The Anti-Theist and Misoclere Society Blair Admits His Delusional Psychopathy [Faith is not a justification for anything to anyone but oneself. I do not agree with the characterisation of all religious believers as delusional or liars - I believe most are simply mistaken]
  3. Heather Mallick|Comment is free Top quality sleaze [I know not what to make of this]
  4. Autumn Sandeen|Pam's House Blend Beginning An Occasional  Series On Hometown Activism [California Democratic Party adopts resolution supporting anti-discrimination legislation protecting transgender people]
  5. ScienceWoman|On being a scientist and a woman Minnow 36: Old science project [Had not seen this blog before (I subscribed to the Scienceblogs Combined Feed once I realised I could not read all my subscriptions anyway. Looking forward to seeing more from her.]
  6. David Michaels|The Pump Handle Money Changes Everything (Still More Evidence) [Links to this very interesting article on the influence of money on how doctors look at and frame the positive and negative features of drugs]
  7. writerdd|Memoirs of a Skepchick Are ratings harmful? [I think they are pretty silly]
  8. Tim Lambert|Deltoid Slap happy Overington [Australian journalist accused of slapping Labor candidate for Wentworth]
  9. Ed Brayton|Dispatches From the Culture Wars Promote Peace, Get Harassed [Of all the responses to students wearing peace shirts and putting up posters, scrawling swastikas over them and wearing Confederate flags shirts in opposition is surely one of the worst]
  10. Orac|Respectful Insolence Takin' care of business: A triple dose of...well, you don't want to know [Blog mascot picture post - man dressed as enema bottle]
  11. Joseph j7uy5|Corpus Callosum Agomelatine: A New Approach For Depression [I often find this blog enlightening and interesting. This is not an exception.]
  12. Austin Cline|About.com: Agnosticism/Atheism Mailbag: Purpose of Life [Go read. I tend to agree with Austin Cline. I did actually make that assumption - reincarnation is not out of line for Christians I have met. The rest I suppose flows from the language being used (English). Or, y'know, I could accept being mistaken.]
  13. JP|SF Signal When Did Star Wars Jump The Shark? [Probably]
  14. Jim Downey|Unscrewing the Inscrutable This is a remarkably bad idea [Just another day]
  15. Ed Brayton|Dispatches From the Culture Wars Heisman Trophy: Tim Tebow [Not something I know or care about]
  16. Ed Brayton|Dispatches From the Culture Wars Scalia Hires Two Orthodox Jewish clerks [The comments are... interesting]
  17. Ed Brayton|Dispatches From the Culture Wars Michigan Protects Transgendered State Employees [I am slightly less pleased after rereading and seeing it is only state employees and not everyone working in the state{1}]
  18. Abel Pharmboy|Terra Sigillata Docs as drug reps: a physician's inside story [Another (longer) take on the story linked at item #6]
  19. PZ Myers|Pharyngula Faith is not a prerequisite for science [Paul Davies gets on my nerves too. PZ Myers does not. Blake Stacey, also awesome.]
{1} It often annoys me seeing trans women described as ladies. I get the impression there are not many women these days who enjoy being called 'ladies' these days and it strikes me as patronising, as in "Ladies, ladies, calm down". *shrug*
aesmael: (haircut)
  1. One of my new least favourite things about summer is the wheel getting so hot it hurts to hold
  2. Heard an ad for Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End on DVD. I hear the phrase "the trilogy comes full circle" too often. This time I was amused to realise it is accurate, at least for Jack.
aesmael: (friendly)
    Those are tasty. Star Wars: Attack of the clones, less so. I prefer stories where I don't have to roll my eyes and ask "But why didn't they...?" Although that is fun too.

    I have not written anything since my last writing post, however I did update my silly studying wiki. It is not so good but hopefully I can fix that as I learn. Perhaps tomorrow will see both activities happening. We shall see.
aesmael: (it would have been a scale model)
    I am disappointed. Not only is it more horribly sexist than I remembered, I was looking forward to seeing how the stories were cut together since I had previously seen them only separately on DVD. Unfortunately they are not intercut at all. The one exception is that Hartigan's story bookend's the film in a way that specifically violates continuity (Kevin is dead dead DEAD by that point!).
    *sigh* All that speculation on my part about the precise ordering of scenes and they did not even bother.
aesmael: (friendly)
    Just finished watching. I had forgotten how much I enjoy that movie, mostly for Mystique and Magneto. Sure, they are the villains, but they are magnificent! Especially Mystique. She does not sit around uselessly like most minions do when the villain is imprisoned, she works her way in the world, still furthering their cause. And that escape plot. No coordination, just two people who know each other's capabilities well.
    My delight is, I suppose, fuelled by my desire to see people in fiction act intelligently. They do not behave idiotically so the heroes can win.

    And now Sin City. However bad its treatment of women, I get tempted to describe its cinematography as perfect. Really that is just the opening moments and a few other parts. The rest is not so good, although it was partial inspiration for Discourteous Joe. Bet it is rather cut down for showing on television.



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