Category Archives: Film

Quick Belated Review: The Man from U.N.C.L.E.

Gorgeous men, beautiful women, wit, clumsy innuendo, Guy Ritchie directorial stylings, fairly simple plot. Hampered by Henry Cavill’s character annoying the crap out of me. Boring, self-satisfied, booooo. The twitchy Soviet spy was far more interesting, and of course Alicia Vikander’s character was more charismatic than both put together.

For a diverting short time on cable, it was …

OK, Cavill’s character just drove a truck onto a boat, which was an unexpected tactic. I’ll give the movie that. And the 60s fashions/cars.

Crappy Movies I Love: Congo

I have a lot of time on my hands, given that I’m currently a housewife.  One of the ways I pass the time (read: procrastinate from cleaning the litter-boxes) is to trawl Netflix for streaming video worth watching for more than five minutes.  As anyone with a Netflix streaming video habit can attest, that gets difficult after a while.  Soon you’re down to Syfy monster movies and direct-to-video nerds-have-a-party-with-boobs stuff, and …yeah.  A whole lot of bad movies.

That said, I love some bad movies.  LOVE.  So while some are on Netflix, I figured I’d share.  While they’re “free” (read: cost of a monthly streaming membership, so about $10/month).


Why I love it (and big spoilers) after the cut: Continue reading

everything is awesome

or:  The Lego Movie, a mini-review

It’s old news by now that the Lego movie is a ton of fun.  For an extended toy commercial, I actually found it fairly affecting.  There’s something to be said about imagination and teamwork and respecting different aptitudes and not being afraid to “break” things and explore, etc. etc.  It was also a hoot to hear Morgan Freeman and Liam Neeson cut loose.  Well worth seeing even if you’re not escorting kids to the theater.

That is also the catchiest theme song in the history of theme songs.



To sum up:  what a charming, delightful animated movie.  I walked out with a huge smile on my face before walking three blocks with my husband to look at San Francisco’s Christmas tree and all the fancy decorations around Union Square.  On our way back to the Muni, we walked past the Macy’s windows full of kittens and puppies ready to adopt.  The volunteer I talked to about the joy of rescue cats said that 111 cats and dogs have already been adopted due to the window displays.  Awesome, right?  And then I walked into the Disney store and burst into overwhelmed tears.

Which is me, really.  That’s what I do.


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Things with which I am currently besotted:

  • This blog:  my scandinavian home.  A heap of my heritage is Swedish, and I’ve always been fascinated by the stark-yet-homey crispness of Scandinavian design.  So elegant.  Love.
  • This superhero:  Thor!  I enjoyed the movie to bits (except that the villains looked like Teletubbies in their masks, and I just can’t unsee it).  And then at Disneyland, my husband and I saw replicas of movie props and had a photo op with a costumed young man we’re calling “Mall Thor,” and I squealed like a tween with Bieber Fever.
  • That said, I would watch a Sif and the Warriors Three movie on repeat forever.
  • Origami.  Which I am documenting here, including the destruction of my creations by my cats.
  • OPI’s fall/winter 2013 collection, “San Francisco.”  My nails are now all foggy and creative.
  • Gail Simone’s run of Red Sonja, especially the woman-drawn variant covers.  Simone’s Sonja is satisfyingly angsty and pulpy, and I’ve enjoyed every issue so far.  My runner up for comic-of-the-moment is Oni Press’s contribution to weird Americana, The Sixth Gun.
  • And, Turbine releases an expansion for my beloved Lord of the Rings Online today.  Helm’s Deep, I am soon to be in you!

In belated praise of Pacific Rim

Because all I said about it at the time was, I really liked it.  And I did!  I think it’s a splendid adventure, and it brought me right back to being a tween in the early 80s watching Voltron and Robotech.  Mecha, and the people who love it.

But there’s more to say about the movie, and why I liked it, and why I have a bit of a fangirl squee over the character of Mako Mori, who has the most sensible name in the entire film.  Stacker Pentecost?  Really?  Idris Elba is magnificent at enunciating ludicrous dialogue so well that I wanted to get up and do fist-pumping cheers, and Charlie Hunnam did a fine job as the tormented beefcake, but it was Rinko Kikuchi’s movie.  And robots.

Spoilers, of course.

I’ll just point this out, for starters:  when the camera lingers on a physique, it’s Hunnam’s.  That alone changes things up.  Mako Mori the character is allowed to be girlish, fierce, stunted, efficient, noble, rebellious, and honorable.  No, in the end, she is not the one to push the button and blow up the other dimension.  She, the far less experienced pilot, passes out from oxygen deprivation, and Beckett saves the day.  That said, this was one situation in which I thought that was fine.  They were partners. He finished what they started.  He could have done none of it without her.

But let me back up.  She’s allowed to be flawed.  She’s allowed to choose her adoptive dad over the handsome dude, even if dad doesn’t hold out long with the sternness.  She’s allowed to be fit and attractive without that being her character’s point.  The character’s arc matches the plot’s high stakes.

As for the movie itself:  holy cats.  I’ve said several times that it’s a WWII movie wrapped up in modern trappings.  You have a diverse group of people on an isolated base racing against time and dealing with interpersonal issues on the way.  The jaegers have nose art and mechanics and an air traffic controller.  There’s even a DOG, for gosh’s sake.  People have to put aside their differences and work together to defeat the enemy.  There’s a stirring (ludicrous?  Yes.  But Elbafied) speech by a leader.

And the visuals!  In one interview, director Guillermo del Toro talked about how the really difficult bit of the whole movie was actually inventing the jaegers.  To make them seem real, his team had to figure out how they would work, how the hydraulics would look, how the legs would support the rest, and so on.  And you see it in the film, how pistons move and hatches slide.  The jaegers have a gravity to them that many effects pictures are sorely lacking.

It’s not a perfect movie, nooo.  What I want is the director’s cut with the hour of character development footage del Toro had to excise.  I want to know more about the Chinese and Russian teams before they meet their demise.  And I want to know more about Beckett and Mori and Pentecost (really?).  But for a movie in which robots punch dinosaurs in the face (not that that’s ever a bad thing), it manages to have grit, heart, fun, and lead characters who saw each other as people and pilots first.  Well done!

In praise of Natalie Dormer

After watching the trailer for Rush about five times in a row, I have a new term for Natalie Dormer.  She’s a chaos hottie.

Seriously.  Her character kisses Captain America without being Peggy Carter.  Her character topples Catherine of Aragon.  Her character snuggles up to Joffrey.  Joffrey.  You think he linked death-by-crossbow with sexy before she was all ‘ooh show me how‘ at him?

And in Rush, she’s a nurse who falls under James Hunt/Chris Hemsworth’s shirtless spell in about three nanoseconds.  David Bowie starts up on the soundtrack.  She pulls the curtain shut around the examination area.  It’s a busy medical center, but she’s Natalie Dormer.  The chaos hottie.

I really look forward to her showing up in things by now.  Her characters will purr at someone, they’ll say something ridiculous in the most innocent of voices (“Shall I fetch my brother?”), and something chaotic will happen.  Awesome.

Fast and the Furious 6 mini-review

Great action sequences, great fights, ridiculous dialogue, other-world physics, the Rock, Vin Diesel.  No connection to reality, but characters who have managed to become lovable plush versions of their criminal selves.  I’m looking forward to part 7 about as much as I’m dreading them using a director besides Justin Lin. 

I give it three stars – three stars that meet in mid-air, collide, get run over by a tank, fall off a bridge, land in jail, escape from jail, and then hang out in the backyard and say grace.


First:  Really?  My father used to have a thing about never patronizing a business that deliberately misspelled its title.  I get that.  I feel the same way about names that all run together using lowercase letters, as if that makes everything more profound.

Anyway.  To sum up:  About 70 years ago, the whole population of a tiny New Hampshire town left home and walked a trail that led to the death and/or disappearance of just about everyone.  Now, a couple of photographers/writers, along with support staff and a local, attempt to recreate that walk to find out more about the townsfolk’s final days.  A horror movie ensues.

The first two-thirds of this movie scared the bejesus out of me.  I’m a sucker for excellent sound effects, and even on our lousy home system, the music and sound-related creepiness had me ducking under blankets.  And I can’t really talk about the rest of my opinions without a great big spoiler tag, so:


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What a great movie. Gareth Edwards put together this science-fiction-travel-romance-tragedy on a relatively small budget, but the cash went to all the right places.

Creature effects are rare, but captivating — and eerily beautiful, in a few pivotal scenes.  The plot involves an initially antagonistic North American man and woman who are attempting to get out of alien-infected Mexico and back to the United States.  As is pretty much the case with any film based on getting from point A to point B, their plans to make it home in comfort and safety go out the window almost immediately.  Parallels between the human characters and their alien counterparts are low-key, but poignant.

This isn’t an alien-invasion action film. Instead, “Monsters” is a quiet and mournful tragedy about fleeting connections and people (and creatures) far out of their element.

It’s currently available on Netflix streaming.