Weird Love for Pretty People; or Lilly watches Despicable Me 2

Despicable Me 2 was a film that answered the question “what do you get the villain who has everything?” with “a inept/insane wife”. As I watched the film, I found myself wondering what message was being sent. It’s ‘just a family film’, yet the implications of that classification lead me to thinking what children were coming to learn from the characters on the screen.

At the beginning of the film, we have Gru, an example of modern masculinity in the form of a super (villain) dad throwing the best party his little girl could ever hope for. He does his best to give her all she wants, even going to the lengths of dressing as the fairy princess when the woman who was hired fails to show up (one of the several female let-downs in the film). He is questioned by the children because fairy princesses are apparently not fat, ha ha. Sorry chubby cheeked little girls, if baby got back, they don’t got a crown! Don’t be foolish.

 

And don’t be telling me children say the darndest things and would ask that question of a fairy princess because they could ask other darned questions that didn’t tie to weight, perhaps like “why do you look just like Agnes’ daddy?” or “what are these little yellow things?”

Princess Gru then makes the point that he eats to avoid his problems, which is totally fine because people don’t do that in real life! Ever! Let’s laugh about the thought! Ha! Over-eating and body image issues are a joke! HA! Fat shaming is funny especially when the person being shamed is a man in a dress.

Anyway. That wasn’t even the problem that really got under my skin. I mean, it clearly annoyed me, but it wasn’t the worst part. Imagine!

Enter one of the most reasonable characters of the film, Jillian. I found this woman inexplicably hilarious because she was painfully like women I’ve met, and yet what plot she brought along with her should have stayed home. She could have been brilliant as a nosy neighbour offering up her ambrosia recipe and tips on raising the girls for Gru but instead, Jillian was the harbinger of the unnecessary parade of ‘inadequate women’ to be compared to the perfect match Lucy was to be.

Bachelorette number one was Natalie. Let’s hear about her, shall we?

“…she’s a riot. She sings karaoke, she has a lot of free time, looks aren’t that important to her..”

And let’s see why!

 Oh, I get it. No T, no shade, but girl has a face for radio. She can’t have high expectations! Look at the state of her. That’s fine then. She should be happy with what she gets! It’s funny because that whole body image issue thing as mentioned before isn’t a thing. Kids should totally laugh at people that look funny, and expect to be laughed at if they look any different than the other kids. They’re walking jokes who should expect no better. Also, who dressed her, Professor Philip Brainard? Jillian should have said something. Also, she breaks the table behind her.  Because she’s fat. Which, as we have learned already, is not acceptable. Go home, Natalie.

Then we meet Lucy.despicable-me-2-picture02

Lucy with the coordinated car for her outfit, svelte figure, and even her weapon is dainty and feminine! Who says you don’t have to be a lady when you are using a taser? Besides anyone on the opposite end of the tasing, one imagines. Lucy, who parades as a independent woman with her weapons and sass and cupcake beating (she doesn’t have to be smart if she can beat people up and wear cute outfits!)  until, much like Daphne from Scooby Doo, she gets kidnapped and used as leverage against the hero.

However. My problem doesn’t lay in the way Lucy acts or that Gru likes her over the other women (I’ll talk about his date in a moment), but rather that the movie tries to get away with the “weird love” angle where two odd balls fall in love and it’s sweet when it fat shames, slut shames, and then makes one half of the “weird love” a pretty woman and the other a bald headed, scrawny legged penguin-esque man–the mis-match Hollywood loves to make. Think about how many sitcoms feature hot wives and average husbands. Now think of the sitcoms with hot husbands and average wives. If Gru was to fall in love with her personality (as it seems to imply), why did Lucy have to be made to look like the societal norm for pretty? If her personality was the important part, why was she adorbs? 

Let’s look at Gru’s other date.

Jillian shows up mid film (the bit where Gru hasn’t realized Lucy is the best yet) with another date offering. Gru has shown himself to be afraid of dates (due to past rejections) so naturally, he ends up with a non-threatening woman–ohwaitnoshebeatscupcakes. Whatever. Anyway. The date.

Shannon is Jillian’s second offering to the slaughter, a blonde haired, big lipped woman on a cell phone who has no interest in anything but taking care of her figure and hating ‘phonies’ (which is what Gru is being on their date, which makes her threatening in the end–unlike the woman who shoots her with a dart). Now, this character is another stereotype, but rather than going on about how she is represented, I’d like to talk about how she is treated. In a horrifying show of abuse towards another human being, Gru and Lucy take Shannon home in a way that is justified by…what? Comedic value? They have a cute talk on the porch? Oh, that’s fine. That’s fine then, because Shannon might have a concussion and injuries and mental trauma from her night out, but Gru and Lucy are cute, so whatever! She was asking for it, anyway, by being…what? Being what? Shallow? That makes it okay to strap someone to a roof like a prized buck you got hunting? That makes it okay to watch as their head gets continuously battered in a door? What does watching the two characters haul around this woman tell kids? It’s okay as long as you are drugging and dragging someone with friends? Or dates? Or if it makes you laugh?

If this was a romantic comedy aimed at adults, this wouldn’t be as big an  issue for me. Adults make the choices to watch things, make the choices to act on their own knowledge and their own life experience. Children, however, learn from the world around them, and that includes what is on the screen.

The last thing I want to look at is the tale of Margo and Antonio. It actually wraps up the narrative started with Natalie in the beginning. Margo is a cute little girl. She has plain looks, wears unique outfits (little blazer!) and has glasses. She is not the society’s norm for a ‘pretty girl’ (
look at Gru’s crush, Lisa, for example) but she is smart, kind, and protective of her sisters.

Enter Antonio.

Antonio is a Mexican boy who is charming, suave, debonair–everything Margo deserves and desires, as told by her brilliant  “say whaaaaat” expression when he speaks to her. It’s great. It’s like ‘hey, girl, don’t you worry about your prescription eye wear or untucked shirt. I dig you.’ and all the little girls who relate to Margo get a moment of “say whaaaaat” along with her because clever girls with glasses and cartoons on their t-shirts can get boys, too, damn it!

Wait. Psych!

She doesn’t get him. Margo gets her first taste of what this film’s society seems to value when she turns to find Antonio dancing with a girl in a little dress with matching shoes and matching accessories. Much like Lisa and Lucy. Because if you aren’t coordinated, you are just not going to be happy. Even Gru can match a scarf to his outfit, ladies!

 

 

So the lessons we learn are: don’t be fat, don’t be blonde, don’t be shallow, don’t be brainy, don’t wear mismatched outfits, and don’t worry about men’s looks, you’ve got your own to work on!

That is if, after all that, you even want a man.

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You’re Chum, Bitch; or Lilly loves a good shark creature feature.

A week ago, the boyfriend and I celebrated one year of putting up with each other’s shenanigans and living to tell the tale. We both set out to buy presents for one another that would not only put our affections into material form but also show we try to think of each other’s interests and are aware of what can make the other happy. For him, I purchased the second in a series of Lovecraft graphic novels and a poster of Sean Connery as James Bond, leaning on his Aston Martin. For me, he purchased a box set of Cary Grant films, a box of chocolates, and finally, something that truly spoke to my heart: Jurassic Shark. The following is a review of this brilliant film. If one shark film review isn’t enough for you, see here for the boyfriend’s review of the other shark monster flick we watched recently, Bait.

Yes, please.

Yes, please.

As wikipedia will tell you, Jurassic Shark is a  “Canadian independent action horror” film,  and while all of those descriptive words are brilliantly apt,  I have never seen such a Canadian film  and I am counting Men with Brooms in this. I had no idea going in that I was about to watch my people be torn apart by a Megalodon, yet the moment the two pieces of shark bait at the beginning began to speak, I had a great joy in hearing what could only be Canadians delivering some of the best/worst dialogue I’ve ever heard in my life. One girl said “spaz” about a million times and the other kept saying “Like, I don’t get it” about the beach on the abandoned island being deserted.  It was great.

Now, don’t get me wrong. This film was awful. It was probably one of the worst films I’ve ever seen. And yet…I’ll try and explain piece by piece why I want to share it with everyone and anyone who will listen.

Let’s start with the plot. On an island in a lake (?), there is some questionable science going on (?) wherein they are drilling into the earth for oil (?). While doing so, they released the horror that is a megalodon (something we know for sure, since it proceeds to eat everything on/in/around/above the island). Nowhere seems to be safe: the shallows? Nope. The beach? Nope. In a boat? Oh shut up, do you even know what kind of film you’re watching?

The film opens with two “teen” blonds standing on a beach and being smug about how there is no one else there. Well done, you found a secluded place in Canada, ladies. Super hard. They proceed to go on for roughly a lifetime about how everyone else are idiots for not being where they are. They also strip down to bikinis in a way that is somehow boring. How. Talent? Probably! They chatter away about the beach being empty for roughly five minutes before one of them finally gets into the water–the one who kept saying “spaz”, which I believe is karma? Not P.C., ya twit.

"Why does she having a fucking oar?" said Lilly. Yelled Lilly.

“Why does she having a fucking oar?” said Lilly. Yelled Lilly.

She gets her friend in using some more brilliant verbal gymnastics (something along the lines of “chicken?”) and before we know it, the two are splashing each other happily in water up to their waists, not knowing that in moment’s time, a shark that is estimated to have been 79 to 82 ft long is going to sneak up on them. This means that this shark is apparently a lean, mean, tube of a beast since it is 82 ft long and probably 2 ft high.

I love this.

Enter the two rivaling groups, the “art thieves” (?) and the “sexy” (?) “teens” (?). I’m not going to lie, during the points where they were explaining what they were, I was just thinking “Who is going to get eaten first?” so wasn’t completely able to follow what I am sure was brilliant, nuanced dialogue .

First, the “art thieves”. Don’t know why they were stealing art, just knew they were because every other damn word out of the lead thief’s mouth (and I will get to complaining about her later) was “we need that painting”.  They also spoke of a rendezvous, but that might have just been Canadian bilingual laws rearing their ugly heads, who knows. In any case, they were going to…you know what, I don’t know! For some reason, they had this painting in a boat and were rowing across a lake to hide on the island (?) until they had their rendezvous with the buyer of the painting.

Megalodon was not having this, however. He (or she, who knows) knocks them out of the boat and eats one, the painting falling to the bottom of the lake (that’s why you should avoid heavy framing) to become the plot point for the rest of the film. The story of Jurassic Shark  from this point on is the saga of the attempts of several idiots to get the painting back even though there is a shark-tube-monster-thing out in the water.

When it came to characterization, the thieves were probably the worst, and this is in comparison to the “sexy” “teens” of the film who we

"We need this dialogue to be more varied."

“We need this dialogue to be more varied.”

couldn’t remember the names of so called them “black bikini”, “curly tits” and “the other one”. The lead thief was what I can only assume was the writer’s attempt at a ‘strong female character’, while meanwhile, she was some bitch with a gun who kept saying ” we need that painting” over and over like a broken record. I get it, you are ruthless, but one of your men–whoops, two, sorry–has been eaten by this shark. Calling the remaining ones cowards is not going to help. It’s a megalodon in between them and the painting, not a spider or something.

The other thieves were a bunch of guys who had varying personalities. By “varying”, I mean there was a dumb one, a heart of gold one, a left-hand man, and a mass of muscles. They just followed along with anything Top Bitch said, really, and were non-characters overall, unless one counts mass of muscles’ ‘roid rage moments. They didn’t move the plot ahead, they were just shark bait, much like the blonds at the start.

You can actually see the bottom of the lake here. Watch out for shark tube, though!

You can actually see the bottom of the lake here. Watch out for shark tube, though!

Then, there was the “sexy” “teens”, both terms ridiculously relative. Apparently, they are on spring break, and black bikini has decided she wants to spend her last few days doing research on the mysterious science going on on the island (oh yeah, it’s not just all sharks and art thieves!). She brings with her curly tits (so called for the fact that her hair is curly and her breasts are always very, very visible) and the other one (she didn’t make a real impact, clearly), the bitchy rich chicks who pay for the research as an excuse to get a tan. Oh, and Kyle, the guy who clearly has a thing for her but she doesn’t realize this until it is too late.

It's behind you!

It’s behind you!

You might guess what happens next. The “teens” are menaced, they end up running into the menaced thieves, and the film devolves into a parade of attempts to get the painting/shark meals. Curly tits comes into her own at one point by saying to Top Bitch “You’re chum, bitch” (showing a surprising amount of knowledge about shark feeding, really, given that up until this point, she had basically been giggling and fluffing her hair up), ‘Roid Rage has an amazing death that is surprisingly not shark induced, and the film manages to jump the shark by…well, featuring a jumping shark.

In Canada, shark jump YOU.

In Canada, shark jump YOU.

Jurassic Shark was all I had hoped for in the short amount of time there was between my seeing the cover and putting it into my dvd player.  It had a shark, it had amazingly ridiculous deaths, and it had little-to-no real development of anything besides the over all plot of “oh my god SHARK”. I don’t need a conservation message, I don’t need a “we’ve played God one too many times” message, I just need a big ol’ shark eating people for no real reason and I’m happy as a clam. Or rather, happy as a megalodon in a lake somewhere in Canada.

I Want Him To Suck My Blood; or Lilly Discusses Dracula at Length

I discuss everything at length, just to be clear/show my own self-awareness, but on with the blog!

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“I got ninety-nine problems but a bride ain’t one–it’s three.”

Dracula is a character that has tickled my fancy since I was far too young to even know about the Count. I was only six years old when my parents rented the VHS of 1992’s Bram Stoker’s Dracula and, thinking it would save my little brain from scarring, sat me in the other room to colour, leading only the noises of the Count’s adventures to reach my little ears. After a few nights of nightmares, my dad’s approach to my fears of what I had heard was to get a child’s version of the tale to read to me, and while it sounds like that would only make it worse, it cured me of nightmares and insensed in me a need to find more stories like that, with strange other worldly creatures and regal monsters and castles full of bats. What more could a little girl want from a story?

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Hot for (undead) Teacher

I broke into it all easy. Mona the Vampire, The Bailey School Kids (I never reached Dracula Doesn’t Rock and Roll, but wish I did since Mr.Drake was a favourite of mine, unsurprisingly), Scooby-Doo–all socially acceptable things for someone my age. Very quickly, however, I was not getting nearly enough from my pre-teen novels and needed more. Buffy, The Vampire Diaries, Angel? Yes, please.

Grade eight was a fantastic year for vampire literature, at least for me. It was then that Interview with the Vampire and Dead Until Dark came into my life, and Queen of the Damned was in theatres (with the amazing soundtrack that matched my Big Shiny Tunes tastes of the time). Vampires were tough, they were sexy, and they were, most importantly, accessible due to the surge making more and more authors and screenwriters come out of the woodwork to put forward their own creatures of the night.

Yes, this lead to Twilight, and I feel like apologizing for promoting the industry that produced that, but it’s not our fault, I swear. It’s not vampire literature, anyway; it’s YA romance. Different genre, move on.

Now, I’ve never been one to say “enough with the vampires, already!” or “no” to any version of Dracula (I allowed for Dracula 2000 in my life, I was that keen), however this fall, NBC is testing my patience. Just watch:

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Lightbulbs? What?

I understand, NBC. You have an American audience to work with, so making Dracula sound like he is from Pennsylvania rather than Transylvania works (Hannibal, however, can still sound European–I know, I know, “European” isn’t an accent, shut up–without problem since…why?) and maybe you need to add more intrigue with what looks like a sexy vampire hunter (Apparently Van Helsing isn’t sexy enough), and yes, let’s make him bring electricity to the town–wait, what. What.

Let me tell you why this all upsets me after all that talk of taking vampires any which way I can get them:

It takes something I love and yet again makes it “socially acceptable”. Insulting.

Since when was Dracula not allowed to sound vaguely foreign, be vaguely evil, and look vaguely terrifying even when he is supposed to be charming your pants off (before biting you, not wooing you, MINA).

Also, who said Mina and Dracula have a past? Why do they need a past? Why can’t he just hunt like the predator he is, like the hunter he proudly proclaims to be? It would be like taking a film like Alien and making it a television series in which the alien is the descendant of a bully from Ripley’s primary school days or maybe the second cousin of a prom date who jilted her, I don’t know. It’s ridiculous. Dracula doesn’t pick Mina Harker for any specific reason (Francis Ford Coppola, are you listening?) besides she’s a lady. Yep. That’s it. Not even that, she is the last lady that is young in the area, no less! She wasn’t even his first choice. What is all this Mina-hype? Come on. Come ON.

Anyway.

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“Hey you kid, get down off my clock!” more than “Prince of Darkness”.

The casting. I know there is a good deal of love for Rhys Meyers out there, and I did once admire him greatly (in a squealing teenage girl kind of way), but to me, he doesn’t have nearly enough presence in the trailer for the series to be the Count. Maybe the Count’s little brother or nephew, or his neighbour’s bratty kid, perhaps, but not Count Dracula himself. The Count is not the vampire next door, he is the mother fucking Count who you don’t want to mess with. Even when he is trying to charm those around him, there is still the air of “Back off” wafting off him. Yet no. No, he is all smiles, flirts, and cheeky grins. Don’t get me started on Renfield, either. And no, it’s not about race, it’s about why the Hell is he sane in the slightest? Nope. No, thank you.

I will admit I had some worries about Hannibal coming to the small screen, however the show has amazed me and has me eagerly awaiting each new episode, but my worries were that of a fan of Anthony Hopkins as Hannibal–Mads Mikkelsen has completely won me over, so that’s that. My worries about NBC’s Dracula rebirth stem from being a fan of Dracula himself, and I don’t think they’ll be soothed by any amount of good characterization. Maybe I’ll be surprised or maybe I’ll be annoyed.

Knowing me, though…it’s going to be annoyed.

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I’ll sulk with Hannibal and that skull. Yorick is a mope.

Always Be Polite to a Chasseur; or Lilly Watches Another Film You Don’t Care About.

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“Classic” might be a bit of a stretch…

It’s the year 1963 and Boris Karloff and Jack Nicholson are riding the high of a horror buddy comedy (no, seriously), so clever director/producer/writer/Francis Ford Coppola enabler Roger Corman decided he would take advantage of the madness that follows success to convince both men to come back into his world and create The Terror, a film that would become “famous for being filmed on leftover film sets from other AIP productions“. Not the riveting plot, not the brilliant acting, but the fact that other films had been shot where other things had been shot once.

That boded well when, fast forward to 2013, we (the Enabler and I) sat down to watch it on youtube (the wonders of public domain). It came via a list of films found free–legally free, to be clear–and was worth every penny. Crap quality, crap acting on everyone’s part besides Mr.Karloff (who I will talk about at great length later on), and crap plot (“That bird attacked me!” is something at least two of the characters can and do say in the film, if that is any clue) all meshed wonderfully together to make a hilariously weird and wicked film with special effects that included face melting and a burning witch. Great!

So, on with the plot synopsis!

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We meet French Chasseur Andre Duvalier (played by brilliantly/stubbornly unaccented Jack Nicholson) as he huffs along the seaside on his put-upon horse, looking forlorn and tired of all this shit, being a Chasseur just no longer his cup of tea.

Blogger’s Note: I didn’t know what a Chasseur was until this film, so I am going to pretty much use that word as much as possible in this blog and then never again. Promise. Chasseur. 

Chasseur Andre meets a hot girl on the beach (as you do) named Helene who “saves his life” (I’m still not clear as to how, if only because she was hot and he walked towards her and ended up finding water, which he could of done by just following his horse who was probably more reliable and less ghostly) and he proceeds to become so obsessed with her that you aren’t entirely sure if you want him to “win” or just shut up about Helene already by the time you get to the middle of the film. They only met once and a hawk attacked him. Bad omen, dude. If I am hitting on a guy and an Eagle kicks me in the face, I am bailing. Just saying.

Then comes the weird bit where Chasseur Andre is being fed by an old woman in a shack who denies the existence of the girl, has a hawk (say what!) and a semi-mute guy who really plays no part besides crazy-bitch/hawk fodder. The old lady talks at Andre a bit, basic weirdness, before she mentions the castle down the road–down the road being the way Chasseur Andre saw Helene run off. Well shit, Andre seems to think, I am so going to that castle.

Thank God he stupidly did, or else we wouldn’t have the wonder that is Boris Karloff in a blue velvet dressing gown enter our lives after twenty minutes of accents from all over the shop assaulting us. Boris plays Baron Von Leppe, a tortured soul with a spooky lisp–no, a spooky history, sorry, which includes adultery and murder (related, obviously). He insists on keeping the pesky Andre around due to manners, even if the man keeps reminding him of his dead wife and insisting she is alive and being kept prisoner or something. “Or something” being that she is sorta alive and sorta a prisoner but not in the way that anyone thinks, including the audience.

Great!

I would go on, but the trailer (found here) sums it up: Boris is “THE TERROR” (OR IS HE?), he killed someone, he has a gun to escort Andre with, he has “evil, mystic powers”–wait. What? No, he has evil mystic dressing gowns and wears a tuxedo after six (since he’s not a farmer), but no powers. Trailer, come on. That hawk isn’t even his. I do like the add on of “that a man can enjoy” about Helene being a “blood and flesh beauty”, though. No ghost action approved of in this flick. If you want supernatural hijinks like that, you watch Ghost Dad, thank you. Anyway, phrases like “gossamer myth” and “distorted desires” have me sold, so I don’t even know why you would watch the rest of the trailer before running to watch the whole darn thing on youtube, but then it claims to have the “Frankenstein monster from ALL horror motion pictures” in it, which I assume is a hybrid beast-man of Boris, Christopher LeeCharles Stanton Ogle, Percy Standing, Lon Chaney Jr., Bela Lugosi, Glenn Strange, Gary Conway, Michael Gwynn, Mike Lane, and Harry Wilson, making it even better. It’s his “most blood-chilling screen experience”, so that tells me either this film is terrifying, or Boris can’t handle his shit. Who knows! Cue the natural disasters followed by the sexy water wrestling followed by some footprints in the sand, and you have me hooked. I don’t even care that the skeleton scare wasn’t even in the film. Don’t even care.

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“Are you even trying to sound French, Jack?”

Boris Karloff was amazing in this film. He is always amazing (shut your whore mouth if you believe otherwise), but in this film you got to see his range from polite coldness to passionate pleading to cries of dismay and terror. All while wearing an array of dressing gowns and dealing with fake-Frenchmen! His troubled self got more and more pathetic as the film went on, and yet he never lost his regal presence (able to loom into a room with the best of them). His plot is interesting enough, and then when you learn the twist (which is huge and then confusing) of his identity, you are at a loss as to how completely awesome this man is for not going over the top with what becomes a clear issue with his mental stability. Now, I hear you taunting “If you love him so much, why don’t you marry him?” and my reply is that you are heartless bastards for pointing that out because I would if he weren’t dead, and am now weeping into my pillow from the loss. He’s brilliant. Full stop.

The film, on the other hand…

The plot was weak. The dialogue was weaker. Someone’s face melts at the end…I don’t know. I wouldn’t suggest it for many, as the quality is pretty low in both the film sense and the story sense, but it is well worth a watch just to see Boris in action.

Or you could just watch How The Grinch Stole Christmas over and over for that. Your choice!

P.S.: we also watched Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? and Dementia 13 (the aforementioned Coppola’s first swing at directing, which made one wonder why anyone gave him another go), the former reviewed here by my boyfriend. Enjoy!

Sometimes to create, one must first destroy; or why Lilly liked Prometheus

In my recent attempts to watch all the films ever, I delved into the world of Ridley Scott’s Imagecreation in the films Alien and Prometheus. One I had seen but remembered little-to-nothing about (Alien) and one I hadn’t seen due to my lacking memory of the former leading me to believe I would just be annoyed by the in-jokes of the latter (Prometheus). I had seen Alien when I was a teen, too scared by the jumping and screaming to really get into it, truth be told. So, in an effort to give one of the most talked about sci-fi/horror films a (fair) shot (and placate the man who wishes to marry Alien, aka my boyfriend), it was watched again.

Now, why is this relevant (I hear you ask, all two of you reading this)? It’s relevant because while these two films are made in the same universe as one another, there are two different worlds being shown. When Prometheus came out, I was (frankly) annoyed by all the people posting on facebook about how it “wasn’t as good” as Alien. That argument agitates me for two reasons:

one) Who said anything about Alien? Well done, you spotted that Prometheus isn’t Alien. It makes me wonder if the people saying things like that were confused for half the film because Ian Holm looked a lot more like Michael Fassbender than they remembered. If I wanted to know what you thought of Alien, I wouldn’t have asked “How was Prometheus?” 

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Also known by the title “The one that isn’t Prometheus”

two) It’s not helpful. You know what else isn’t as good as Alien? Getting kicked in the face,  which is what is going to happen to the next person who gives me that review of the film Prometheus. Just sayin’.

Now, I am going to avoid the trap of talking about Alien any further, even though I’d love to talk about it, because I don’t want to be one of those dicks who go on about one film when you want to talk about another one. We’re here for Prometheus, and for Prometheus we will be.

To get it out of the way, I actually really liked it. I liked the style, I liked the plot, and I even liked Charlize Theron, which is saying a lot since I usually hate her. Her “upset” emoting is like the human equivalent of a plate wobbling to a stop after being spun–annoying and never ends at the right time. Luckily, she plays a cold bitch who doesn’t do much emoting, so all was well.

I am going to be honest here. The reason I wanted to watch Prometheus (and surely the reason a good deal of people wanted to watch Prometheus) was to get a chance to watch this handsome bastard in action:

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Bet he just noticed his reflection in that globe and is admiring his beauty like the rest of us.

Michael Fassbender was amazing in this, and not just because I “fancy” him (there is jealousy in the room just having him on the screen right now). He was the perfect android-becoming-a-real-boy. From the formative years of his film-watching and hair-dying (what was that about?) to his rebellious days of killing the guy who was a jerk to him (as we all do at some point), we watch David go through the stages of development without the key element pointed out by his “father” and creator, Peter Weyland; a soul. While he goes from duty-bot to sassy-bot (saying “I didn’t know you had it in you” to a woman who just had an alien life form inside her–get it?), he shows understanding of key moments through quotes from Lawrence of Arabia and thoughtful glances. He came off as fake and real at the same time, and had the ability to not piss me off when he knew everything because he should–it was his task while everyone else on the ship slept for the trip. He went from open-eyed awe to angst-y know-it-all to regretful adult in the span of one film, and it was awesome to watch.

Moving on!

The story was good. Religious idiots seeking answers get funding, go in search of maker, find out maker wanted to unmake them–with aliens. It wasn’t much to work out, frankly, which is a good thing when a film is full of body horror, sci-fi technology, and Guy Pearce in old man makeup. There was some hidden agenda action, some surprises (foreign bodies in the abdomen, ick), and some strange motivations (Fassbot getting rid of his competition for Noomi in particular) but over all, I wasn’t forced to watch closely while creatures were sucking off guy’s faces. There were some things I could see coming–Guy Pearce wouldn’t be made to look old for only a two second cameo, and also wouldn’t be in the opening credits for that, for instance–and there were some things I didn’t see coming–the buddy film set up for Noomi and Fassbot is fantastic–but over all, I thought it was explained well enough to not leave me annoyed or thinking “…well now what?” It ended, it was done.

The visuals were stunning. It was clean, it was light enough for me to see things, and the engineers (should I capitalize that?) were awesome looking. I was delighted when the crew with questions woke up the last one to only have him go on a rampage, pissed off that he was woke up by what he considered rodents. I would also go mad if I was woken up by household pests (if my reaction to getting roused out of slumber by my boyfriend tells me anything, it would be a bloodbath). I loved the map that Fassbot wondered at, I loved Charlize’s rooms in the ship, and I loved that the buttons the engineers used were sqidgy and weird since why should buttons look the same across the universe?

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Ah yeah, steer this ship right on into my bed, Captain.

I liked how people acted like they ought to have acted, meaning the geologists were only interested in rocks and the zealots were only interested in being batshit insane and doing stupid things in the name of answers. The boss-lady  was only interested in her ship (and its captain, ow ow, Idris Elba), Weyland was only interested in not dying, and the engineer was only interested in smashing shit a la the Hulk. None of this silly “adapting to the situation and becoming stronger” nonsense, it was all “go forth and do as you do, and see how that goes for you” nonsense. Even after having been wickedly menaced, the religious chick still was looking for answers from her makers–none of this “I’m a survivor” stuff, just keep on trucking on in the direction that got everyone else you knew killed! Good. Good.

It was entertainment. Harmless, bloody, alien-riddled entertainment. Prometheus was sci-fi/horror for the person who likes horror that is humorously gory and sci-fi that is clean (we are a strange people full of contradictions). It had some good parts, some great gore, and some interesting ideas. Most importantly, it had nothing to do with Ripley, Dallas, or that damn annoying cat. For all those people on facebook who whinged about Prometheus ruining the Alien franchise, and complaining that it wasn’t “as good”, I say this:

Then go watch Alien. 

Easy.

An Awfully Briant Adventure; or Lilly watches Hammer Horror (Again)

Pretty even with a gagged girl in the way

Pretty even with a gagged girl in the way

I’ve been watching a lot of horror films recently. No, for serious, a lot. I don’t mean “three or four over the last week or so” a lot, I mean “three on Saturday alone” sort of a lot. I naturally blame my enabler (and boyfriend) for this, though “blame” isn’t exactly the right sentiment, given my enjoyment of the classic films of the genre. Whatever.

As you might recall, I reviewed (in a sense) Hammer’s latest effort, The Woman in Black (found here for those interested) and rambled on about how it was brilliant and not quite like the stage version (which was okay by me) and so on, showing my absolute love for not only film but also having people read my ramblings. It’s been a while, and instead of looking to another recent Hammer flick (i.e. Let Me In or Wake Wood), I have come out of blog hiatus to discuss a film that is to be in a series of blog reviews the aforementioned enabler has been doing due to the film being  in Hammer Horror’s Ultimate Collection. Yes, I’ve come back to the world of blogging to discuss the brilliance that is Straight On Till Morning. Please, form a queue to put in your two-cents on this one, since I’m sure everyone ever has seen this and wants to talk about it for ages on end.

Or is it just me?

Right, so for those few idiots among you, Straight on Till Morning is a film from 1972 that was sold as a “love story from Hammer”, which is like something being sold as “your creepy neighbour with the scar telling you about his girlfriend”. So…awesome.

Here’s a trailer:

Brilliant, right? Calm down, if you can, so I can now discuss its awesomeness at length.

Pretty and his dog, Adorable

Pretty and his dog, Adorable

First of all, this is one of the very few Hammer films where the pretty lead isn’t some busty chick (as heavily emphasized by enabler’s “Hammer Glamour” section) but rather Shane Briant, a lady-pretty manchild with a Julian Rhind-Tutt look about him who struts about the film with tight seventies trousers (which is why everyone watches a film from that era, right?)  and pretty blue eyes (or are they green? I don’t know! Titter titter swoon). Shane plays Peter, a (pretty as a descriptor is now to be assumed present) young man who is actually not the main character, but you hope he’ll come soon, since the character you are left to start the film with is Brenda, a batshit blonde who is nothing if not desperate for a baby. Seriously, she really, really wants a baby. It’s the tagline of the film, she wants a baby that bad.

Baby-crazy Brenda is not the worst of female leads (see: every cleavage-toting, blank-eyed bride of Dracula or Sandra Bullock) but she certainly isn’t one you think “I hope she’s gonna make it after all” about, or even think about at all, as she is whiny, weird, and has a face that only a mother could love. Not that her mother seemed overly fussed when she said she was leaving Liverpool for London in the first five minutes to find a father for her baby that she was already carrying–not! It was a clever, crazy ruse. That Brenda! Cue the title sequence!

"And they lived happily ever after because the prince gave her a baby times a million. The End."

“And they lived happily ever after because the prince gave her a baby times a million. The End.”

Brenda goes to London and, surprise surprise, no one likes her. This has nothing to do with her butterface and everything to do with her wearing her womb on her sleeve. She prowls the streets and boutiques with a creepy smile, hoping to ensnare some gentleman into a baby-daddy situation by using her charming pickup line of “HI BABY IN ME NOW PLEASE” (or something along those lines). She doesn’t seem to have any real need for a husband, just for a baby, which might be why she ends up shacking up with a boy trapped in the body of a man who is a (spoiler alert) psychopath. Or sociopath. Or narcissist. You choose! But we get ahead of ourselves.

The first unfortunate housemate of Brenda is Caroline, a co-worker who just wanted someone to help with the rent (a subplot which leads to the confusing fight over not shitting where you eat, so to speak, between Caroline and her boss/lover, angry John Lennon). Instead of someone who would just follow the cleaning rota and get on with life, Caroline ends up with the social mess that is Brenda showing up at a party and leering at all the single guys with her ovary-obsessed eyes. Then, to make matters worse, while Caroline is just trying to make angry John Lennon even angrier by sleeping with another co-worker, she ends up breaking Brenda’s fragile heart as said co-worker was in line to be Mr.Brenda’s Baby Daddy (or so Brenda thought since he was nice to her once).

This hideous rejection of her feelings (that she had not voiced at all, not noticing the flirtation and deep dopey love the co-worker had for Caroline in the first place) causes Brenda to run off. Enter Tinker, the most adorable of adorable dogs. Brenda meets Tinker and realizes that this poor pooch belongs to the hot blonde down the road from her, our pretty (pretty) Peter. “Eureka!” she clearly thinks as she steals the wayward pup, “I’ll take this and wash it and surely Peter will impregnate me!”

No. Seriously.

No. Seriously.

No, seriously.

As you can imagine, when Brenda shows up at Peter’s door, I rejoiced. Finally someone that didn’t make me worry about mentioning wanting kids casually ever again, just in case I came off as insane. Of course, Peter (surname never given or worried about) brought his own baggage. He hates beauty, which is ironic since he’s beautiful, and funny since he adores Brenda (burn).

Once the two get to talking (for about five minutes, no joke), Brenda reveals she has come to get Peter’s babymaker inside her for a quick drop-off delivery, and he offers her a live-in cleaning job. Naturally. That’s normal. Completely normal.

It might not surprise you to know that it gets weird from here-on in.

After renaming Brenda as “Wendy” (as if we didn’t get the Peter Pan thing yet), the couple delve into the weirdness that is their relationship. They tell each other fairytales which are thinly veiled stories about themselves (Peter’s featuring clips of his previous lady-loves that ended up getting snuffed since they wanted nothing but his beauty) and live off money Peter keeps in a drawer (stolen from said lady-loves). He buys “Wendy” a bassinet to place in her (separate from his) bedroom and she cleans out his many ashtrays while not getting her questions about Peter’s past answered after talking about her mother at length. It’s touching besides the creepy underlying fact that Peter has done so much murdering in the place that you can almost hear the screams still.

Did I mention he kills Tinker because he's too pretty now? Well that happens.

Did I mention he kills Tinker because he’s too pretty now? Well that happens.

Wait, no, that isn’t the ghosts of the past screaming, it’s Peter’s recordings of his murders that he has done and listens to now and again for nostalgia’s sake! Oh, that’s fine then.

The film has a sense of “when is he going to kill Brenda already?”, or perhaps that was the sense I had due to my mammoth dislike for her character. The moment she steps into that house and he shows tendencies towards being a bit murder-y, it’s just a waiting game to see how long it will take before he gives in and just has at her face. It is heavily implied that the only reason that he likes her is that she’s not pretty, a wonderfully uncomfortable point that she doesn’t seem to pick up on (bless her) and almost ruins when she tries to make herself beautiful (an amazing scene shown in the trailer followed by Peter groping at her face to wipe away that sad attempt at sexing up a woman who is basically Dobby’s sister).  He scrapes that makeup off and seems relieved while Brenda sobs her ugly little eyes out. It’s touching.

"The fuck is this?"

“The fuck is this?”

Obviously, I’m not going to tell you the ending. That would ruin it for you, and I would hate to do that when you are clearly going to run off to go and watch it RIGHT NOW. I can say, of course, that it leaves you feeling like you want to watch it again just to be sure you didn’t miss what it was that happened, but not in an Inception way, more in a wake-up from a blackout sort of way. It’s not a case of wanting to know what happened, but how.

The main thing about this film that I loved was the grazing-the-surface look at the mind of a spoiled, child-like killer who was born of being called “beautiful” just a little too much when he had so much to give from deep down in his dark little self. Peter is the product of a society who values trends and forgets that horrors can lie beneath even the prettiest of covers, and Brenda comes along, too plain to be a threat and too eager to say anything that displeases Peter, including commenting on his looks. She sees him as something else besides a handsome prince: he’s a handsome prince who can give her a child. Unlike the others who came along and met their end by Peter, Brenda didn’t want his body; she wanted his offspring.

The story was messed up. The couple were messed up. The title song was incredibly messed up. And it all worked. Not one part of the film felt out of place, too sane or too crazy (even Tink’s sad end made sense in this twisted world), and the glimpses into Peter’s mind were just as troubling as the glimpses into Brenda’s mind, both psychos in their own ways. It was a thriller inasmuch as you weren’t sure if Peter’s affection for the weird-looking (and apologies for all the comments on Brenda’s face, but it was rather the point of the film) Brenda was going to last and those crazy kids were going to make it, or if the “crazy” part of that term might reign supreme, the film taking a darker turn. The atmosphere created by the flashes to Peter’s past and the flashes of pure fearful adoration in Brenda’s eyes made it worth watching alone, the chemistry of an abusive relationship with a manic child-like excitement running throughout to make the pair watchable.

Of course, if we’re talking about watchable, Shane Briant’s pretty didn’t hurt.

Just sayin’.

Thoughtful Pretty.

Thoughtful Pretty.

Straight on Till Morning was a decent film. I loved it, partially due to the Enabler (capitals now) being so confused about what to feel about it and partially because I love a good seventies based tale of a serial killer. This was right up my alley; serial killer, Peter Pan references, a cute dog, and tight trousers for everyone. I wouldn’t suggest it for everyone, and, in fact, I can hardly think of anyone I would suggest it to specifically, but if you want a weird love story that involves an inversion of the usual “way-too pretty girl with decent human-looking boy” with a murderous twist, this is the film you might watch if you thought of it. Eventually.

Christmas! or how Lilly came to be a Christmas Elf

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Gimme.

It might surprise those just getting to know me that I’m a Christmas freak. You don’t really see it coming, I’m told, when you meet me in, say, April or May. If asked, I’m sure your first impression of me wouldn’t be “full of cheer” unless I was in a good mood or had just had some sort of sweet. I am known for my sarcasm, my humourous rants, and my swearing at inanimate objects (such as two-way zippered mother fucking coats), not for my good will towards men or general attitude of peace on Earth.

Knowing that, I think it’s only fair (and slightly self-indulgent) to explain how I went from The Grinch to…well, the Grinch still, but post heart growth, cutting the roast beast with all the Whoville gang. What better way to update this blog finally than to talk about Christmas, anyway?

Stave I

The Ghost of Christmas Past

I used to get up at five o’clock on Christmas morning. I had hardly slept at all, even with the tiring event of Christmas Eve church having happened the night previous, my stress of being in the choir (one time we had to hold candles!) not working to put me to sleep. I would eagerly spy the stocking at the foot of my bed and gamble if I could manage to open it without anyone hearing and getting mad that I had started without them. I’d go to the bathroom and flush the toilet maliciously, to wake the household, making eye contact with my bleary-eyed parents to make sure they knew I knew they were awake. There was no escape–Christmas was happening and it was happening at five thirty am, damn it!

When Nanny was alive, the process then spread, and I’d barrel down the stairs to go and get her, hauling that poor eighty-some year old woman back up to the living room with the tree and demanding she sit. I’d then plunk down on the carpet in front of the tree and wait until everyone graced us with their (ridiculously slow) presence and gift-opening could happen.

Those bits were the best bits of Christmas.

Stave II

Nanny’s Ghost

I don’t remember the Christmas right after my grandmother died, but the one after that was in our new home which didn’t have a lot of room for a Christmas tree. The picture above was taken there, in fact, and that was the full width of the room. I woke up the same, early as ever, excited as ever, but there was something different. Something missing.

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And it wasn’t my awesome velvet dress.

From that Christmas on, we always felt it. Or lacked feeling it, I wasn’t sure. But there would be a point where we all were done unwrapping gifts and then there would be a quiet where we felt an absence. While it ought to have gotten shorter, the pause seemed to get longer as the years went on. Christmas became something sad and awkward. It became something I didn’t want to get excited for, because I knew what was coming. I knew the silence would be there and no matter what I gave or got, it would weigh down on us more heavily than the turkey we’d have for dinner that day. The pause ate up the day, and I began to skip the holiday in my heart. I loved Christmas specials and cards and all, but the day was dismal. You can’t spend a whole month getting jolly to only come crashing down on the day it was all meant for, so I didn’t.

Stave III

The Ghost of Christmas Present

Then I went to university, and Christmas became two separate events. It became the season I so love and the visit home. I could go to Christmas parties in St.John’s, enjoying snow and all the egg nog I could drink, to then come home to old friends to enjoy more festivities before the pause. I could celebrate myself silly, just get it out of my system, before it was sucked out.

With my leaving home, something else changed as well.

The pause got shorter. I hadn’t thought it could, I had thought Christmas would always be a time for mourning a loss so long ago now. It changed, however. Something switched with two grown up children out of the house and Christmas became more about having us back than what we didn’t have before. The silence was still there, but it passed quickly. Last year, it was nearly unnoticed.

All I had to do is leave. Who knew?

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Bet Percy there did.

Stave IIII

The Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come

This year will be my first Christmas away from home. I don’t know how I’ll feel about it on the day, but right now, I’m pretty excited. I have decorations up, I have Charlie Brown’s Christmas’ soundtrack going, and I have high hopes that I’ll shake the pause this year completely. Christmas can be all about giving gifts and having awesome food and looking at beautiful trees, right? I’ve believed that all along, and it’s only now that I get to live it.

So that’s why I’m a Christmas Elf. I might start early with my celebrations, but it’s hard to wait to feel the happiness that Christmas brings, something I’ve missed out on for a long time. Loads of Christmas catching up to do!

Christmas Bonus!

As if I could get through this post with the Muppets. Merry Christmas!