meirwen_1988: (Strive)
"As you know I have made a vow never to give you information that could potentially alter your destiny. Your path is yours to walk, and yours alone."

That said, because my friend Tom requested it, here are my thoughts about Star Trek: Into Darkness. (Tom asked for a review, I'm not sure this is that, but here goes.)

I should start by saying I still vividly recall watching the premiere of Star Trek in 1966, sitting in the living room with my parents. I remember coming home from school one afternoon to a delighted mother who said "William Shatner came on Jeopardy today to thank all the fans for saving Star Trek--it'll be back for another season!" I remember, in the days before VHS recorders, setting up a tape recorder in front of the television in the dorm to record the episodes so I could listen to them when the show wasn't on.

I remember my first model kit: Enterprise NCC 1701. I still have my Enterprise necklace, and I cried when my posters finally died after moving to the 5th apartment. I sobbed so hard it disturbed the guys in the row in front of me when Spock died in Wrath of Khan. I'm a total fan girl. I watched all the other series iterations of the franchise, have seen all the films multiple times (even, painfully, Nemesis). I have some favorites among them, but for me, Kirk, Spock, and McCoy are...everything.

So when the reboot was announced, I was nervous. But J.J. Abrams managed, with the first film, to make me happy. It was respectful, without being slavish. It found a clever way to allow the original universe and the reboot to actually co-exist without competing with each other, a way to write a new "canon" in a way that allows preservation of the original, and will allow the novels and games set in the Federation to be one, or the other, or perhaps, in the spirit of the Mirror Universe worlds, cross the boundary and exist in both.

Star Trek: Into Darkness (colon optional, apparently) continues in that vein. Though there have been spoilers sprinkled liberally on the internet for months now, I want to avoid them here, which makes talking with any detail about the film torturous at best. But Abrams, and his cast, have yet again managed what I thought was impossible: he took something so beloved as to be sacred, put his hand to revisioning it, and did it beautifully, due in no small part to Benedict Cumberbatch's performance, and the rest of the cast was outstanding as well. Simon Pegg, in particular, is becoming more solid in his role, with the irascible Scot we came to love in James Doohan's hands shifting ever so slightly into something thoroughly Pegg's. The script is solid, the XF never felt forced, and Abrahms remembered that ultimately the Star Trek franchise is about characters, and character. My only disappointment was in one role that was badly written, and even in the hands of a good actor was nearly cartoonish. But that is a small disappointment in a film that otherwise was completely satisfying.

Twenty-four hours after watching the film, thinking back, I can see all the ways Abrams manipulated the audience, the tropes and inversions, the twists on convention, the exploitation of memory. It was masterful puppeteering, and if I were to describe each one, the film would seem trite and shallow. But the film was neither. Abrams and his cast created an experience that was funny, and bleak, that made me laugh, and gasp, and cry--in all the right moments, in all the right ways. If Abrams doesn't make another Trek film (and that's likely since he's taking over the Star Wars films), I will be content. The two he has done are outstanding.
meirwen_1988: (Queen)
One of my friends on Facebook (a friend long before there was a Facebook) has been going off on people, ungracious, and sometimes downright mean. I know her life sucks right now (hubby working far away all week long, menopause, economy is trashing her business), but I might just have to hide her until she stops being...irrational.

Saw The Hobbit in the 48fps 3D version today. Very mixed ideas about it. I think I want to see one of the 24fps versions before I pronounce judgment on the technology. And I want to re-read the book up to the point the movie ends before I pronounce judgment on the script or direction. Two points I will make now though, are the "Riddle Scene" was brilliant, and Richard Armitage as Thorin Oakenshield was a revelation. I will never look at dwarves in Tolkein the same way again, and I mean that in all good ways. I was very nervous about his casting, but in this Jackson was right, and I was wrong. I can't say I feel that way about all of it, but in Thorin's case, I do.
meirwen_1988: (Default)
  • So, I was out in my car today when the "near tornado" weather came through. Smart enough to pull over to the shoulder during the first, stopped and parked in a store lot for the second. The second was definitely the worst, with the car moving very alarmingly and the peanut sized hail. When I went into the grocer's the power was out. They did, however, have all the refrigeration and registers on the backup generator. But it was a bit...odd, shopping in the dimness, with all the employees hanging around with a sort of "deer in the headlights" look.
  • Made it home, and now there is the cooking and the baking. Ah, and finally watching Jonah Hex, which, in fact, is not as bad as reported. If you like lots of mindless mayhem, and comic-bookish plots. Fortunately, I do. I can profoundly enjoy deep, intellectual art--but sometimes I just want things to go "Boom!" It's a "Boom!" kinda day in Meirwen-land.
  • Also, if anyone has a Dreamwidth invite, I would like one. I want to back LJ up given all the issues lately. Thanks.
  • Oh, and one last thing--the Thundercats new iteration premiers Friday. The trailers did not look awful. However, I must say that having watched part of the marathon of the one, the original Thundercats earlier this week, it was really pretty. And bad. So really my bar for the newest one has come down a few pegs. ;-)
meirwen_1988: (writing)
...but not in the doomy, ominous Vorlon sorta way.

The semester.

Fourteen kids (which will change, but not as big a percentage as Fall/Spring semesters. Two students from previous classes--both really great people, and BTA (better than average) students. Yay.

A few (four I think) second language folks--Burmese, Vietnamese, and two former Soviet block, if names and features are anything to go by. Two students (at least) not regularly enrolled at MV (either making up an F from their institution or trying to get a gut course out of the way). Interesting mix. Should be fun, if they embrace the whole "you apply the literary concepts we go over together to the stories and share your results with the class" approach that I use. Some do, some don't. We'll see.

Since class gets out at 10, I've scheduled busman's holidays for myself all summer on Tuesdays and Thursdays--I'm free, and the before noon shows Monday through Thursday have a discounted price. Today I went and saw the 11:15 showing of Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides. Without spoilers, I can say: A) 2D was fine. I was able to see the shots that were included to really take advantage of 3D, but, really, not necessary; B)Penelope Cruz is very acceptable as the Kiera Knightly substitute [sorry, Kiera--she wins]; C)the Orlando Bloom substitute was also acceptable [sorry, Sam--Orlando wins]; D) Barbarosa needs a better writer; E) Ian McShane was wasted as Blackbeard--I'll blame the script, because I refuse to blame Ian. And a note: "Dear Makers of Pirates Movies: Please, can I have some more of the arrogant Spanish commander? And in Tortuga would be lovely. Thank you. Me"

If there was an Easter Egg, I didn't stay for it. Decided home had charms I couldn't ignore--like a fully stocked refrigerator.

So now it's read the essays from today, maybe put something in the DVD player (maybe season 3 or 4 of B5 to remember those who've gone beyond the rim), or some oldies but goodies--still haven't cracked open The Scarecrow of Romney Marsh.

Thursday will probably be Rio since Kung Fu Panda: 2 (in 2D) will probably be there next week.

For the record--I miss my air conditioner. :-(
meirwen_1988: (tired)
Grades are done and submitted. My summer class starts May 31, so I've got at least a little time to de-frag the mental hard drive, and deal with some life.

Took a break in the middle today to go to Thor with chosen brother, his beloved, and her eldest, then dinner before coming home to finish the last class's work.

Tomorrow I'm going to try to excavate my office, and then go to one of the "Yippee! the Academic Year is Over" shindigs.

But now, it's time for bed.
meirwen_1988: (Thoughtful)


Last week I had a guest from Pennsylvania here. Actually, the guest isn't "from" Pennsylvania. She's living there. She's from England--at least that's where she spent most of her formative and young adult years. Where she'll return when retirement age arrives.

She's led quite an interesting life, including spending some time in a commune in the mountains of Wales. We talked about it a bit, and it turns out that the day she left the commune it was because she had just "had it" with the men sitting around and "finding themselves" and expecting the women to do all the work. That afternoon she blew up at the man in the commune she considered the worst offender.

That man's mother died today. Elizabeth Taylor Hilton Wilding Todd Fisher Burton Burton Warner Fortensky. The woman Sinatra famously complained he couldn't get into bed because she required marriage, or the promise of marriage. The woman with three Oscars, two for acting. The woman with the diamonds. The woman who filled the tabloids in ways that not even Britney Spears or Paris Hilton or Charlie Sheen can equal--though they do try. Not because of scandals (so long as you skip over that awkward Eddie Fisher-Debbie Reynolds-Richard Burton period). But because she was beautiful, and talented, and public, and fragile physically--though not, apparently, spiritually.

She was a tigress. She loved and lived fully, completely, committedly. And she was loyal. And when a friend died of a disease shunned and denied, she took her fame, and her voice, and her heart and decided that she wouldn't stand by and write checks, but would put her reputation, and character, in service to the cause of saving lives.

I recently read a book that was less than kind to her. I guess that beautiful mouth was capable of incredible vulgarity. And her capacity for alcohol was...legendary. Long after Burton was drunk reports are that Elizabeth was still coherent, on her feet, and had been well ahead of him all night. And she paid for it, ultimately, with weight, and addiction, and her already fragile physique probably didn't benefit from pouring so much poison in.

Everyone, I think, has a moment in their lives when they are wholly themselves, and the famous often find that self captured on film. But the beautiful British girl who grew up in America had so many selves, I don't know which image that is. I've seen photos of her fat. Slovenly. And recently a heartbreaking photo from the last few months. Is it that girl with her arms around a collie's neck? Is it Michael Wilding's beautiful bride? Or Mike Todd's heartbroken widow? The AIDS activist with the stark white temple wings, or the post-cancer Taylor with the white spiked crew-cut? The woman standing beside a dangerously ill Rock Hudson, or the one defending Roddy McDowell when he was facing federal charges, or the woman mourning the man she divorced twice. I don't know which is the "self" she would say was her. Or perhaps it is all of them.

But for me, she is that beautiful woman with porcelain skin white as snow, lips red as a rose, and hair of blackest ebony.

Fare thee well, Miss Taylor. Your being here made the world a more beautiful, and a better, place. No one could ask for a better epitaph.

meirwen_1988: (small but mighty)
It has been a brutal 8 weeks. Administrative phoo. No contract. Screwups with my paycheck. Me sick. Colleagues sick. Kids sick. Weather that seems to conspire to really play hell with my MWF classes. So need Spring Break.

So, 1 o'clock class, Friday of Spring Break.

3/4 Full. What? Are you serious?!?! Swear to God!

Win!!!

But even better, after class a student who had been sick came up to my office. After we finished business he said, "I love your class."

"Thank you."

"No. Really." Beat. Beat. "You have to understand. You've really opened my eyes. Black and white films. Westerns....See, I come from an Italian-American family, and if it isn't the Godfather films, or Goodfellas...it just doesn't happen. I got Netflix because of Double Indemnity. After you showed it I wanted to see it again. I loved it--it was amazing!"

*Gasp*

"Thank you."

There was more. Since he's been laid up for 2 weeks, and now can stream Netflix, he's watched slews of movies, and we talked about some of them. And...just...wow.

And now, suddenly, going back on the 20th is something to look forward to.

I love these days.
meirwen_1988: (Huh?)
Well yay! the annoying whiny part of the book is over!! (Yup--just saw Deathly Hallows.) On the other hand, the first four previews demonstrated that my childhood is being trashed, one movie at a time. Green Hornet, Yogi Bear, Red Riding Hood, and Gulliver's Travels. Fortunately the trailers for Green Lantern (I think I may have seen Sinestro in the Green Lantern Corps [before he went all evil-evil]), Voyage of the Dawn Treader (yay--more Reepacheep, and, bonus!, Caspian eye-candy), and Tron took the bad taste out of my mouth (OMG the CGI they did on Bridges is...stunning). Though, to be fair, Katherine Tate as the Queen of the Lilliputians may make GT worth the price of admission. And has anyone heard anything about Sucker Punch? Looks seriously weird.

As I was watching the trailers it occurred to me that the high proportion of films related to icons from my childhood tells me something about the age of those greenlighting productions in TinselTown. They're signing off on movies that plug into their nostalgia, that they tweak to appeal to the current youth market. It's a bit pathetic, really, if you think about it.

Frankly, I don't care that the movies are based on recycled material--it's a long proud tradition that includes Homer, Ovid, Shakespear..., and in movies includes many really great films (The Maltese Falcon, Gone With the Wind, Philadelphia Story,  For Whom the Bell Tolls, Rebecca, From Here to Eternity, Ben Hur [book, then silent film, then the Heston film], The Graduate, True Grit, Jaws, etc., etc., etc.). But some of the current crop, to me, don't seem to be trying to make good movies, based on other material. They just seem to be cranking out product to cash in on. I could be wrong.

Oh, well, time to stop dithering and do some work.
meirwen_1988: (happy dance)
meirwen_1988: (Default)
I had a great weekend with loved ones. I apparently lost a bet (I'm a bit foggy on the details, but it started with my asking the question "Did Rene Auberjonois play Lumiere?") So now I must pen something involving a Brown Betty. *begins to plan*

In other news, my students (some) did great on their midterms, but others cheated. It has taken me 4 weeks to decide what to do about it. Decision made. I really hate this sort of thing.

Duchezz is home from the event. Sorry I missed it, but discretion is the better part of valor sometimes--and I did get to hang out with the aforementioned loved ones.

Okay, back to grading.
meirwen_1988: (brain)
Some days in the classroom I am unstoppable. Technology failures, student screw ups, you name it, I can roll with it. Today, not so much.

AV equipment did not work...AT ALL. Media people could not solve problem so I could show my powerpoint.

On another day, I could have done it without. I've done it before, I can do it again. But I cannot do it today.

I gave them credit for attending, announced I'd move the test off 1 weekend. Sent them home.

The good news is that now I can show On the Waterfront for the acting chapter, since it's now three weeks of films instead of two. Maybe not a silver lining, but a shimmer of rainbow for a second there.

(For those keeping track the other films I'm showing for the acting unit were Little Miss Sunshine, Wednesday will be Singing in the Rain, and then OtW next week.) Now, it's time to use the unexpected minutes to catch up on paperwork.

Trying to get through the day, one gasp at a time.
meirwen_1988: (tired)
After a trip to Utica (driving the Forester, which I really shouldn't be driving, because cars definitely shouldn't sound like that--like an avalanche of rocks--when you put on the brakes) I came home and was shortly joined by the Matt and Jeci.

We had a lovely day, catching late lunch, early dinner at Cafe Tramontane (really, you need to go there!), and then after a 45 minute walk around the Uptown district that took us past what used to be Hamish and Ysabeau's house we caught Clash of the Titans, in 2D (as originally shot/planned) at the Uptown. (It was fun--not as much of the gods as a I wanted, but fun nonetheless.)

Then home for tea and conversation. I had a wonderful time, with beloved family. And now, sleep.
meirwen_1988: (bitter)
I just changed the film for this afternoon's class to Dr. Strangelove, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb. Oh, I can justify it, but I'm a little...perplexed by myself.

Maybe I just needed to see Slim Pickens ride a nuclear bronco?
meirwen_1988: (Tag kitten)
So, we'll just pass over the sad commentary on my priorities that is demonstrated by the fact that when scanning Yahoo! News a few minutes ago that I quickly bi-passed the article about the President's speech tonight and instead instantly clicked on the story about the death of David Gerber. As an irredeemable geek I am one of those that organizes her CDs by artist, then by date of release (not title), who actually reads the credits on TV shows and can tell you what the difference is between an executive producer and producer (hint, one does the actual work--and the word "executive" and "work" are not generally substantively linked), the name actually meant something. So, I read through the news story, and at the end I saw that he has only one survivor, his wife, "actress Laraine Stephens."

"No, it can't be that Laraine Stephens!" I thought to myself. So I instantly went to my old reliable friend IMDb. So, there it was. She is that Laraine Stephens.

"Who?" you say?

No one special. A moderately talented, moderately attractive television actress from the sixties and seventies. But, most importantly, she was "Diane Waring" on Bracken's World (1969-1970). It was the years of obsessively reading movie star biographies, total television immersion (after being without one for nearly 2 years), and total Hollywood mania. Not to mention fledgling adolescent hormones. And here was a series about making movies!!! And I was finally old enough to stay up for the shows on 10-11 on a school night!! It was the perfect storm. And Diane was my favorite of the three starlets (the show was set in the then present, but actually showed a studio system that was virtually gone at that point).

Oh, the show was a soap, no question. Sort of an early attempt to be what <i>Dallas</i> finally achieved. But in the process it taught me things. Like how to set up shots. About molding actresses and actors to "fit." About what a script girl actually does. Sometimes as I'm prepping for my film class my mind flashes back to that show, and in my mind it is Peter Haskell directing, or Madlyn Rhue saving the continuity of one shot, and wrecking one later. Of Laraine Stephens shouting against the waves in Malibu to damage her vocal chords just enough to lower the pitch of her voice so the sound on the loop is less shrill.

David Gerber isn't a real person to me, unlike the tiny woman who gave me any number of enthusiastic hugs, who we lost this week. And I don't grieve for his loss in the same way as I do hers. But his passing has brought back to me nights of sitting at my parents' table in my pajamas, watching television that touched my life. It may not have been great art, but it meant a great deal to me.
meirwen_1988: (Christmas House Mouse)
Christmas day was lovely and quiet. We had dinner with [livejournal.com profile] retiredmaj and family, and it was lovely. Amazingly good plum pudding, as well as much yummy that preceded it.

So now it's St. Stephen's Day. After morning caffeine, we headed to town to pick up main course for tomorrow's guests and catch a film. On our way in we got a call from [livejournal.com profile] emt_hawk and the fair [livejournal.com profile] svan_1004 . We were able to meet them in New Hartford for a lovely brunch, quite serendipitously. Delightful way to start the day. Did a bit of shopping, then went to see Holmes. Marquee was insane, so we went off to the Uptown. We enjoyed the show (most satisfying Guy Ritchie movie I've seen, though I think Snatch! is a better film). As one friend said, sometimes the FX intruded, sometimes it dragged a bit, but I really liked Law's Watson, and it's becoming a surprising truth that Downey is demonstrating an amazing depth of talent--profound talent.

Then home. Quiet evening watching Shrek the Halls and The Lost Christmas Eve, then the beginning of the end of one of the best Dr. Who runs ever (and as a fan of Baker and Pertwee, that's quite a concession from me).

Tomorrow is cleaning up for guests and cooking. :-)

There is a rightness that on what would have been her 79th birthday I watched a new film of one of my mother's favorite fictional characters.
meirwen_1988: (Default)


"Cross the Rainbow Bridge of Asgard,
Where the booming heavens roar,
You’ll behold in breathless wonder,
The God of Thunder, Mighty Thor!"

"THOR CASTING
The Hollywood Reporter writes that Jaimie Alexander and Colm Feore are coming aboard the Marvel Studios adaptation of its comic book featuring the Norse god of thunder. Kenneth Branagh is directing.
Alexander and Feore join Chris Hemsworth, already cast as Thor; Tom Hiddleston, who plays Loki, the god of mischief who serves as the movie's villain; and Natalie Portman is Thor's human love, Jane Foster.
In Marvel's epic fantasy, Alexander is playing Sif, a skilled Asgardian warrior who can hold her own against any man. She also is one of Thor's loves.
Feore's character is shrouded in mystery -- the studio isn't even sending the actors the script -- though it is known to be a villain.
The movie's story centers on Thor, a powerful but arrogant warrior whose reckless actions re-ignite an ancient war. As punishment, Thor is cast down to Earth and forced to live among humans. Once here, he learns what it takes to be a true hero when the most dangerous villain of his world sends dark forces of Asgard to invade Earth. Alexander, best known for "Kyle XY," also has been cast as a pharmaceutical sales rep in "Love and Other Drugs," starring Anne Hathaway and Jake Gyllenhaal. That movie begins shooting in October.
Feore is coming off stints on "24" and "The Listener." He appears "The Trotsky," which debuted at the Toronto International Film Festival."

There's just something a bit...fitting...that this news came out today.

FWIW--at least they've cast a brunette as Sif--which is Marvel canon, if not Norse canon.
meirwen_1988: (Huh?)
"A-TEAM CASTING
Variety confirms that DISTRICT 9 star Sharlto Copley will be joining the cast of Fox's THE A-TEAM as Capt. "Howling Mad" Murdock. They also have reports that Jessica Biel is in final talks to join as well.
Biel is set to play an Army general pursuing the team who is the ex-love of Cooper's character "Faceman."
The two join Liam Neeson, Bradley Cooper and Quinton "Rampage" Jackson in the Joe Carnahan-directed action-adventure, scheduled to be released on June 11, 2010. Ridley Scott, Jules Daly and Stephen J. Cannell are producing the film, written by Skip Woods. Filming begins this fall in Vancouver."
meirwen_1988: (mischief)

For the film buffs, here is the viewing list for Film Appreciation this semester (in alphabetical order):
Annie Hall
The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari
Citizen Kane
The Devil's Backbone
Joyeux Noel/Merry Christmas
(2005)
Night of the Hunter (Mitchum, not Chamberlain)
Pride and Prejudice (2005)
Psycho (1960)
Sin City (if we have it)
Singin' in the Rain
Stagecoach (1939)
Some Like it Hot
Tampopo
Tron


Why Stagecoach rather than The Searchers? Searchers is prettier, Stagecoach is a better overall enterprise. And there's the length thing.
Why Tron? To show a movie can rock in one area and be weak in another (and because it's cool!)
I may add Murnau's Sunrise. We'll see.
meirwen_1988: (flashback)
I ignored the reviews and went to see G.I. Joe.

Hehehehehe.

I win.

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