so this weekend i watched Jude, a film made in 1996 (yeah, i guess i'm a little behind on this one since i'd never heard of it), starring kate winslet and christopher eccleston. the film is based on a thomas hardy novel called Jude the Obscure, and like all of hardy's novels is a cheerful romp through late 19th century english social ills. so cheerful, in fact, that i can't imagine why anybody would want to make such a film; the story is downright treacle.


any of you who know hardy's work know that hardy wasn't one for a happy ending, so don't expect one here. in fact, i think i only finished watching this because i ghoulishly wanted to see how they would play out the ending (not that i thought they would change it, but more that i was curious as to what they would show). it's a spoiler, but there's a murder suicide toward the end that even if i warn you about it here, it'll probably shock you if you decide to watch the film.

anyway, the performances here are excellent and the driving force behind an otherwise drab horrorshow of misery, disappointment, poverty, and despair. there's also some fairly graphic sex which is sorta necessary for the story and well done, so i won't fault it too much (though a more gratuitous birthing scene later on is something i totally could have lived without!). the palette is very drab. england looks english ~ which is to say very grey. in keeping with this temper, perhaps, the costumes are very understated. there's very little color here and for this being the height of the most opulent part of the victorian era, the dresses in particular seem rather plain. it's all good and well for kate as poor sue bridehead, but wealthy arabella wears very plain black (okay she's in morning, but it's arabella ~ does she really care?). i think the only dress with any splash is arabella's bar costume. so on the one hand a bit of a disappointment there, but on the other, nice to see some plain clothes and to get away from the glamorous set for a change from most period pieces.

a thoroughly depressing, well-made film. i can only guess the filmmaker was wanting to make a comment about the nature and definition of marriage. i almost wish that if this was (as i speculate) a soapbox against anti-gay-marriage laws, that the filmmaker would have went ahead, been more bold, and adapted the story making the two principles into two gay men or something. i dunno. hardy just straight up is pretty much a drag.

: o p
lookingland: (ghost rider)
( Aug. 30th, 2009 11:34 am)
socks ~ !

the weather is turning and i had a long day of on and off fighting with the Reconstruction project (and mostly winning, so it's all good), but i thought i should take a little break and work on something else for a while just to get my energy back up.

i could have washed dishes or sorted the laundry or cleaned the bathroom, but that'd be boring, so i tried to watch Lost (everyone and their mother has recommended it to me). i settled in with a frosty Coke and popcorn, put on the pilot, and enjoyed all the way up to where they shoot the polar bear in the second episode.

i wasn't bothered by the polar bear. i was strangely bothered by most of the behavior of the survivors. of course it's a tv show and we have to expedite the shock and horror and move onto monsters and adventure and mystery and all of that, but...i dunno. the expedition leading to the polar bear sorta did it in for me. first of all, they take shannon, who's totally useless physically ~ and they do it knowing there's a people-eating critter in the jungle. of course, she speaks French, so that makes it okay. secondly, they are on a hunt for water (allegedly), but don't appear to have any means for carrying water. what are they going to do, find it, drink some, then come back and say: yep, there's water! likewise, it just rained. does nobody think to maybe set something up to catch rainwater? they are equally careless salvaging stuff from the cockpit and...wait a minute...there's a man-eating critter snacking on the pilot, but they decide to run from the cockpit instead of stay inside where it might actually be safe? oy vey!

anyway, i was perfectly okay just flowing with all that nonsense until Sawyer pulled out the gun and had his little contretemps with Sayid. instantly i hated Sawyer as a character and dreaded the thought of suffering through untold number of episodes of this guy making trouble for no real reason at all. i took a desultory stab at finishing through the third episode, but it's over for me. i don't like any of the characters enough to stick with it. Hurley and Claire were about as interesting as it got, and i guess Jack was okay, but i didn't like the actor playing him. the rest of them were just cardboard to me.

the show is well put together, but doesn't do it for me, alas. i might give it another go when winter gets dark and cold and there's nothing else to watch. eh.

anyway, so i gave up on that and started digitally painting paper dolls (naturally). and above are some adorable socks to prove it.

hope everyone is still enjoying their weekend!

: D
lookingland: (ghost rider)
( May. 8th, 2009 03:36 pm)

I thought I better turn in my "I saw the new Star Trek movie report. This is generally spoiler-free.

First off, I can't imagine how difficult it is for an actor to play another actor's character. while there's a little bit of room for doing your own thing, it's the moments when you nail it that it really works. Zachary Quinto was phenomenal as a different kind of Spock (though I confess: at first I had a hard time seeing him as anyone but Sylar from Heroes). Chris Pine was okay as Kirk. The final scene was the only real moment of recognition for me, though there were other moments where he was really trying. McCoy was dead-on in some moments, less so in others. Scotty was also excellent. I feel more ambivalent about Chekov (the voice was spot-on, but the hair was distracting), Sulu (generally good, but nothing particularly amazing), and Uhura (I think they felt the need to "empower" the character; she looked great, but I didn't feel a connection; also, there's some plot stuff with her that's maybe too weird).

The plot is good, but gives lots of room to complain. Some of it is a little facile and silly (but then so was the TV show). I think the writers wanted to create something new without violating the canon). I think they succeeded (and what a monumental task, considering!). There were a few things here and there that I snerfed at, but overall it was a rollicking good ride, lots of stuff blew up, there was plenty of good humor, and it was an opportunity for a new adventure with characters I love. A lot of it is origin stuff, so I'd like to see a sequel, though this is the last Star Trek that will ever feature Majel Barrett (she's in every incarnation of the show ever made). And who knows how long Leonard Nimoy will last. His role in this was just right and exactly needed to make the passing of the baton work.

Die-hards will likely call foul on many a detail, but I've always been an easy fan (which is why I never liked Next Generation: it was too snobby for my goofy "space western" tastes).

It's worth a watch whether you're an old fan or never even saw an episode in all your life. That's a pretty major accomplishment, so overall I give it the thumbs up.

: D

I'm running a little late today, but I haven't forgotten about Millennium Monday! Blasting through season two, we're headed for big transitions in the show. Check out Fourth Horseman Press Millennial Abyss, as always, for details, more pictures, and other cool stuff. To read more about the episodes from my own meager perspective, click the cut-link! )

I'll try not to miss next week! Too bad there's only one more season to go!

: D

Millennium Monday is here! Continuing with season two, which is chock full of delicious episodes. Check out Fourth Horseman Press Millennial Abyss, as always, for details, more pictures, and cool trivia. And as per the usual, click to continue on the episodes! )

More Millennium next Monday!

: D

Welcome once again to Millennium Monday! Lost yet another week and I've got lots of episodes to cover, so we'll press onward! And, as always, check out Fourth Horseman Press Millennial Abyss for details, pictures, and cool trivia about the series. We're beginning season two in today's post, so click to read all about it! )

More to come next week!

: D

i had a three-day weekend during which i was really hoping to accomplish something. i started off well. did the dishes, went to Stillwater just for a nice outing. but i felt mungy all weekend and ended up watching really bad movies:

director: here's a great idea for a film ~ it's the end of the world and we have all these great special effects ~ trains! planes! we can make it horrific and exciting!
executive: what's the plot?
director: who cares! stuff blows up!
executive: who's your star?
director: hmmm, witlessly scripted, insipid plotless mess overreaching for profundity, but with great special about nicholas cage?!
executive: perfect! roll film!*

that's my imitation of [ profile] utter_scoundrel, who is fall more clever than i in such matters.

anyway, i tinkered a little with Reconstruction, but not nearly as much as i wanted. i added some about the author-type info (as requested). i added a new scene which might actually be an old scene to some of you, though it has a pretty new picture! and i forgot to mention that i added a rating warning to the site (which you can read here). most of the time i don't worry about what other people think of my writing, but i did this is because i think my Disneyesque illustrations can give the wrong impressions about this project.

oh, and i wrote a very brief early history of the Darkesville Independents revealing at least a few little never-before mentioned details. this is not a live link anywhere on the site, so consider it exclusive content (aren't you special?)

i also discovered that the notifications are broken (and i haven't the oompa to fix them ~ meh). i am not in the proper flow with this and i still haven't got the archive or the galleries in order, which is a frustration. but i am going to work on the stories this week and maybe with more content, some solutions to the organization will begin to present themselves.

happy monday all!

: D

* in my defense, i did not actually pay to see this drek.

Welcome to Millennium Monday! Lost another week (I'm so bad!) so I am still catching up. As always, I refer you all to the Fourth Horseman Press Millennial Abyss for more details, etc. These comments will wrap up the first season and then next week I can start in on the second season, which I actually finished this weekend (I've been savoring the show, knowing it's finite!). Click to read final notes to the first season! )

More next week!

: D
lookingland: (ghost rider)
( Mar. 7th, 2009 09:21 pm)
i just watched the Watchmen (and women).

it's a wonderfully complex tale full of gritty harsh realities and the intricacies of moral ambiguity.

yeah, i think i hated it.

please feel free to try to convince me otherwise.

: o p

Welcome to Millennium Monday. Lost a week back there since I was out of town, so I have a lot to catch up on. Hopefully I can do so with relative competence. My memory is not so good these days, so I'm relying on Fourth Horseman Press Millennial Abyss to jog me on the details. Click to read all about it! )

More next week!

: D

Welcome to more yabbering about the TV series Millennium. I'm way behind in my reviews compared to where I am in watching the show, so I'll up the ante a little by commenting on six episodes instead of four.

Again, for more complete synopses and cool picts and whatnot, check out the Fourth Horseman Press Millennial Abyss. Meanwhile, away we go! )

More next week, though I am going out of town (briefly), so it may not be 'til Tuesday or Wednesday! Again, if you remember the series, I would love to hear your thoughts!

: D

So my dear pen pal of twenty years, [ profile] utter_scoundrel, sent me the complete TV series of Millennium for Christmas and I hunkered down to start watching it this weekend (and subsequently did little else ~ ha!). For those of you who may not know the show, it ran in the late 90s (heading for the millennium), and was Chris Carter's (of X-files fame) second child. I think the show probably suffered from Carter overkill (X-files was heading for rocky shores with much of its fan base ~ including me at the time). After three seasons, the show was canceled.

Which means you have to suffer through three seasons of me yabbering about it. I promise I'll try to keep it painless.

I'm not going to belabor the plot points of these episodes because there's a ton of information out there about the show and its particulars, especially at the Fourth Horseman Press Millennial Abyss site. What's mostly here is brief impressions from a first watch, but they will have spoilers and since this seems like a great show to pick up between other shows (just as I am doing, I guess), I'll put the comments under a cut and you can read or not. And away we go! )

More next week! If you watched the series and remember it, I would love to hear your thoughts!

: D
i thought i would apprise you of the recent movies i've watched. not for any particular reason. just felt like posting something different.

for turkey day i went to the theater and saw Australia. this was fun and epic and pretty much in keeping with baz lehrman's usual schtick (maybe even a notch or two toned down compared to his previous efforts). i am not a fan of nicole "the stick" kidman, but she wasn't terribly offensive in this ~ and who's bothering to look at her when hugh jackman is on the scene. i'd never paid much attention to jackman in the past (he's not really my type), but wow was he an eyeful in this movie. ladies, do yourself a favor this cold season and see something you wouldn't mind cuddling up with. rawr. the movie sprawls and sometimes feels a little long, but it's got a little bit of everything. the plot is fairly basic, but there's so much eye candy i actually appreciated getting to just look at the scenery and not think too much about what was going on.

i also saw Twilight which i found to be a huge crashing emo-bore. several people had told me that the book wasn't half bad, though rather overwritten, so i decided to give the flick a chance. i thought the girl was dumb, the vampire boy was ugly, and the plot whiny and repetitious. i liked the vampire boy's dad ~ he was an interesting character, and, interestingly, bella's father as well. the rest of it was just glossy teen time-wasting. feh.

lastly, I watched The Mist which is not something i would have ever picked up except that i kept reading reviews about "omg the ending!!!!", so of course i had to check it out. this is a film based on a stephen king novella and king's success with films is very 50-50 in my book (if even that). surprisingly, however, i really thought this was a decent horror film (and yes, the ending was great ~ a real element of true horror for once). i loved the creepiness of the mist itself and the critters hiding in it. some of the plot threads were a little pointless and the carmody bible-thumping woman got to be a nuisance, but overall this was played with generally good realism. there are a couple of stupid moments throughout, but the special effects are fun enough to make them forgivable. i would watch this again on a halloween night just for giggles.

today's picture is some lovely mist from the amazing gallery of jon miller whitney:

it's wretchedly windy today, unfortunately ~ can't even enjoy the little snow there is! hope everyone is having a good saturdy. it's time for me to get to work.

: D
in reading news: last night i finished reading s. weir mitchell's When All the Woods Are Green (such a nice title). i couldn't find any substantial synopsis of the book online. only a single sentence: a family in the Canadian woods. then i read the book and realized that's about all the synopsis it deserves.

this book was an appalling 400+ pages. and i finished it. it was an endless prattle from start to finish between some hoighty campers who considered themselves terribly droll. about 150 pages in there was the hint that the story might be about a murder. then, about 300 pages in there was a bear attack and that almost got interesting. fifty pages later a child's gravestone was stolen and wow what a great plot that might have made. but the characters continued to talk about fly fishing and ancient greek poets and i don't even know what ~ witty nonsense, only it wasn't terribly witty, mostly just nonsense. and then in the last twenty pages of the book, the murderer made her move, shot a guy and only wounded him in the shoulder, and the last ten pages were endless denouement about the guy and the girl finally getting together to live happily ever after.

ye gads what a turd of a book. i've never thought mitchell was a "great" writer, but up until now i had at least enjoyed his stories. this was a waste of a good premise (the stolen grave, rolling rich campers for their money, hunting bears), as well as some perfectly good characters (nerdy ned lyndsey, who got almost no book time after the first few chapters and oliver ellet who was adorable but completely pointless), and had the most annoying heroine in the history of literature (whiny, stuck-up rose lyndsey). blarghhhh.

in writing news: i have spent most of the day working on various projects and have settled in to the writing this evening, though with some unease. it's very hard to cope with a protagonist who is a racist. i never used to let this bother me because i used to avoid the presence of scenarios in which the fact would come up. but clearly i can't write an epic about the Civil War and Reconstruction without addressing the issue. so i've been doing a lot of reading and trying to get some perspective on the exact kind of racist i'm writing about. and it's hard because characters in books are allowed to have flaws, but i have such a low tolerance for racists myself it's hard to permit such a flaw (and especially seeing the degree to which it manifests). and besides, character flaws are usually pc. archie bunker would never fly today. today, it's okay if your character is misanthropic ~ as long as they treat everyone equally bad. but you can't have a character who hates jews or black people or homosexuals. it's too easy to judge.

and today i was idly shopping around online for some perspectives and wound up watching the first part of Goodbye Uncle Tom, which is a heinous film. what is it about me that reads a review in which a film is declared shocking and exploitative and i immediately have to see it ~ i did the same thing with Soldier Blue and i was pretty grossed out about it. i am dead certain i will have nightmares after watching only 40 minutes of Goodbye Uncle Tom, which is ludicrous and offensive in turns. i don't know quite what to make of it, but much of the truth of what it portrays is revolting enough to make me queasy.

America doesn't like picking at its scabs. boy does it have some doozies.

painting of a Richmond slave auction
by english artist Lefevre James Cranstone (1862).
Richmond sold an average of 10,000 slaves a year
in the 30 years preceding the Civil War

you see pictures like this and everything looks so cheery and clean and colorful! then you take a real hard look at what this business was really about (i mean really look at it), and the suffering and indignity of it all can really overwhelm you. it's hard then, as a writer, trying to find ways of making a character blind enough to the humanity of slaves as some vile, egregious justification for their own lack of empathy. merg.

okay, not so cheery a thought on which to end this post. i hope everyone is having a less gruesome weekend!

: D
kinda hard act to follow, The Dark Knight. nevertheless, i wandered out for my third friday in a row to go see the new X-Files movie (subtitled "I want to believe".

cut for big ol spoilers )

duchovny and anderson look really good. i enjoyed spending time with mulder and scully (seemed like almost too little time ~ made me homesick for the show). i'm not sure the movie is any good (it's definitely not "great"). but i think if you're a fan, you ought to see it. you'll enjoy it just for a (perhaps final) romp with old friends. just for kicks.

: D
just wanted to stop in and give my two thumbs up to the Dark Knight.

this is a movie in which the evil bad guy is genuinely scary, nobody is safe from the treachery, and heroes show what it takes to be heroes: they make enormous thankless sacrifices (and this movie has sooo many heroes in it aside from the guy in the cape).

it felt long to me, but only because of its roller-coaster pacing: lots of ups and downs. every time you thought it was winding up to the climax, there was another edge of the seat grabbing conflict around the bend.

this is very different from Batman Begins, but diverges in good ways to make this an extension of the Gotham world rather than just a sequel. and the emotions are very real: these aren't just comic book characters prancing around in costumes. very dark, very intense, but very good overall, with an ensemble cast who's so good, you wish each of them could have a movie all their own.

edit: spoilers in the comments!
fun and fabulous ~ if you've never seen the first one, get it and watch it first; it'll help contextualize the character relationships. otherwise, this one stands on its own, storywise. lots of action, lots of fun weird creatures, alas too much cgi (but what can you do?). ron perlman is excellent again in the title role and the villain is lovely-creepy in a strange live-action manga sort of way.

two thumbs up if you dig this sort of goofball stuff.

: D
i decided to splurge a little on myself and got the HBO series John Adams. i am only a little more than halfway through it, but i love it. i read some super-negative reviews, but obviously these were from people grinding axes because the complaints about it being nothing but a bunch of people sitting around talking are unfounded (yes, there's talking, but a whole bunch of stuff happens too!). also, complaints about the film style are mostly unfounded as well. yes, there is some creative camera angling, but for the most part it works (a few scenes stand out as sort of awkward for the tilt perhaps).

my single complaint is that sometimes context is wholly lacking (and for an audience of ill-educated americans and foreign viewers, this can be deadly). if you don't know much about american history, there's a whole lot here that will probably frustrate you. there has been at least one point at which i had to pause the dvd to look up what the hell was going on because there was no exposition to explain the scene. the performances are great. laura linney is a scene stealer in the best way and paul giamatti is fabulously cloying and nebbish as the title character (that adams fella was a dweeb in his time ~ which is not to say that he wasn't brilliant, but he certainly made his own bed politically).

so it's flawed, but i think very enjoyable. naturally i wish they showed more of the actual war, but the story is about john adams, not George Washington (when are they ever going to make a respectable movie about George Washington?)

ooo snow. a movie with snow.
it automatically gets thumbs up for that.

oh, and in case i didn't indicate enough: George Washington is just the coolest ever (both in the series and in real life).

it was update day thursday, but i didn't blog that day. i'm barely getting by week to week, and second-guessing myself every step of the way. i redid thursday's "page" twice and it still came out middling, and then rewrote this post half a dozen times, which also does not bode well. i keep reminding myself that i started out with this story just to find a style, practice drawing, and get the hang of the week-to-week posting thing ~ to see what the schedule will be like. i figure i have a dozen or so more pages to do before this story is over and then maybe i can get some perspective.

if i struggle through it.

[ profile] msmcguire made a post the other day that best captures my feelings on the matter. yeah. same-o. and off i go to wrangle with dragons.

happy sattidy all!

: D
i am back from the the beyond!

despite taking work with me to my sisters, i accomplished absolutely zero this weekend, which puts me perilously behind in all things. this means more than ever posts may be short and responses may be slow while i catch up.

about the film: (no real spoilers!) despite the lack of sean connery, i was not disappointed with Indiana Jones. the story struck me as slightly bizarre, but i suppose no more bizarre than the previous films when you sit down and think about it. i wasn't "disappointed" with the ultimate resolution, and it was just nice to spend time with Indy and company once again. the major fears i had about the plot (from rumors i had read hither and yon when the project was still plagued by script problems), were thankfully unfounded. i think spielberg (or whoever it was) made some intelligent choices about what to do with this one to please the fans. while some of those choices seem overly deliberate (there's a business about Indy's famous hat that is a tad hamfisted), only a movie like this could pull off such a high cheese factor and make an emphatic point about it. one of the best moments in the film in the subtle way in which the audience is reassured that there is only one Indiana Jones (and there will be no substitutes).

i'm sorry that Harrison Ford is getting so far up there in years, but he pulls this off with great energy. it might have to be his last Indy film (and maybe that's for the best), but i think the whole team did us proud overall.

two thumbs up: go see it!

: D

oh, and Reconstruction updated on monday in case you missed it. i like this page. i like Gretta Collier. i have a story in mind about her and Alan, but i doubt i will ever write it (at this rate anyway).

gotta get back to work. hope everyone had a happy weekend!
i can't stop singing this song. worse, i don't actually know the words.

: o p

jamie campbell-bower (currently fashionable for singing said tune) has a really interesting face. from some angles he's super girlie, but he's also sort of got this weird boyish middleground look about him. i would totally cast him as Hollis in my dreams.

funny, looking back at that post, i can't recall if i wrote all those things about Hollis because i was being deliberately coy or if i was just brainstorming ideas for the character. i mean, it's a fair description of Hollis, i guess (but now i am being deliberately coy). i seem to have a good number of characters who aren't who they appear to be. hmmmm.

it's update day: it's monday, and therefore Reconstruction has posted! i'm also registered over at top web comics, so if you also feel like voting for me, you can click the vote link at the bottom of the page. i'm not crazy about those sorts of popularity things, but i like the idea of posting extra artwork or whatnot as "vote incentives" ~ mostly because the extras can be fun. not that i, er, have any extras there for you to see if you vote. i think i like the idea more than i like executing it. hahahahahaha.

anyway, there you have it and there it is.

happy Monday and welcome to March, all!

: D