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Dreamwidth just lost an entire draft post.  :(  Bother.  To be fair, it may be related to the internet being out of commission for half the day, and not DW's fault at all.  (Is anyone on Dreamwidth reading this, by the way?) 

As best I can remember it included talk of:

Doctor Who, Season 18, State of Decay.  I thought the plot was too much of a rehash of the old Sevateem idea (which was a good idea in itself), the acting was particularly bad, especially in the main cast (K9 excepted), and the Doctor's strategy for overcoming the resident evil (whose very name I've forgotten) looked awfully haphazard - the writers missed an opportunity for Adric to do ultra-high maths with K9, to ensure accuracy of execution.  As it was, Adric was looking more like a liability than an alert and useful companion.  I'd feel sorry for the  Doctor, except he was a bit annoying, too.

Shakespeare.  I'm gradually dragging the words out of my brain for the Stageoffools exchange, though with (of course) many qualms that this isn't what my recipient wants.  But I'll finish a first draft and then think again.

Tam Cam, the Untold Story - which was a movie based on a Vietnamese fairy-tale with lots of similarities to Cinderella.  (Tam is the "Cinderella"; Cam is the "Ugly Stepsister").  The untold part of the story included lots of fighting - the one-on-one martial arts kind, and the big CGI battles kind - and not one, but two CGI monsters - the bad scorpionesque one and the good leonine one.  What startled me most was the final, mid-credits scene of Tam and her wicked stepmother - Tam bringing to the stepmother a brimming bowl of some mixed stew, and saying "Eat, mother."  I thought - "oh - noble Tam - even after all the cruelty and wrong she's suffered, she displays filial piety to her father's wife."  But it wasn't that at all.   Oh dear.

Pulses:  this weekend just gone - the good old standby Chilli Beans, with red kidney beans, tomato and chilli and much else.



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Mid-December, and Christmas is approaching rapidly - I've posted everything that needs to be posted - or I hope I have. Whether they get to the recipients by Christmas… well, I hope they do. Or the parcels, anyway, and most of the cards; the two cards I posted yesterday probably won't, but it's too late to fret about that. I plan to make a gingerbread house again, but have no other cooking plans at all (as yet); it'll be a quiet Christmas.

For Star Wars fans - the story of one fan of the old, un-Special Edition version, and his quest to save them from George Lucas's second thoughts.

It's a story that raises interesting questions. Of course artists have the right to redo earlier works (da Vinci made at least two attempts at painting Madonna of the Rocks, for example) or change them significantly (there are so many examples of authorial rewrites!) or even to attempt to obliterate them (Nathaniel Hawthorne tried hard to make his first novel disappear). Works can be revamped or withdrawn after publication, no question. But it does feel queasily unfair to digitally obliterate actors who were in the first version - or come to that, to remove from public access the work of the pre-CGI special effects artists.

The year's end is approaching, too - and I'm being forced to concede in reviewing the year's reading that I probably never will finish Capital in the Twenty-First Century. On the other hand, I did finally read the Silmarillion and Les Misérables, so that's something. What big book should I read next year, people? Classic or new, fiction or not - I was pondering something about Shostakovich and the siege of Leningrad, if I can find it in a bookshop before this year's end. Does that sound good?

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This first is very, very sad, but it is also a true story, of a woman who died as part of the struggle against Nazism.  I'm putting it up not that I've anything much to say except how hideously sad war is, and how amazing this woman was.  And that her story needs to be more widely known. (But seriously, not a post to be reading if you're not feeling robust.  It can wait.)

And I watched recently a fictional story- the film The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp (UK, 1943) which I had seen praised as giving a sympathetic picture of honourable Germans in wartime.  I found it not impressive on that score - how inept and foolish would it be to portray all the members of the other side in war as irredeemably evil, especially when there's been a long history of social and cultural crossover between combatants?  In fact, I found it very straight-down-the-line in terms of what I'd think a wartime propaganda film would be - it's targeted at British (especially the middle class?) with qualms about actions like the destruction of the French navy, or worse.  And I won't go into that here. 

Instead, I was interested in the film as historical document.  It opens in 1902, and thus shows the London and Berlin of that time as reconstructed by people who had actual memory of those locations then.  So the hansom cab bit is how calling up a hansom cab worked, the 'Turkish bath' (ie for gentlemen, in London) is how a 'Turkish bath' was, the German gymnasium is how the German gymnasium looked, and the duel is how the duels worked.  There's plenty of written documentation of those things, of course, but there's so many incidental details that are second nature to those who've lived through something but which are never actually written down - like where the seconds stand in the duel, or the costume of the bath attendant.  The whole movie a classist propagandist fantasy, pretty much, but still based on the real memories of real locations.  So... interesting.  :)

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So... on the weekend I watched for the first time the movie His Girl Friday (1941).  Very interesting.  I had expected it to be about equality between men and women - a vindication of women's contributions to journalism (though I knew it was comedy, of course).  But it wasn't - the woman journalist was manipulated and used by the male editor throughout, and defeated in the end, and returned to her subordinate position, and the non-manipulative man was scorned by the film and... maybe I take these things too seriously. :(    The film showed how women could be useful to men, and that's about it.
Also, I hadn't expected it to be so cynical and blunt about corruption in American city politics, and hadn't expected it to be so brutally honest about capital punishment (and how it's used often for political ends).  And then I was very taken aback that these grim topics were the pivot of quick-fire farce - and a bit sickened by the fact that the film felt able to do this by making the victim of the shooting African-American (i.e. so that in the film's terms it didn't matter all that much that he had died - he was just a plot device). 
In the end, the character I most wanted to know about was the unseen wife of the courier, who took a stand against corruption, and convinced him to refuse the bribes.  (The film didn't seem to think much of the courier for this stand - it seemed to think he was too amenable to his wife's arguments.)
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I was going to post gloomily about the looming Australian Federal election, but I think I'll just let a Michael Leunig speak for me.   Whoops!  I tried to link to just one cartoon, but that link took me to 52 of them, so I've scrubbed it!  Suffice it to say that the cartoon I wanted to link to was pretty gloomy about the campaign, about the lack of vision and the horrible, destructive carping tone of the whole thing.  Oh, and the distractability of the media/electorate generally, which finds the troubles of a football club more gripping than the question of asylum-seekers, or climate change. :(

Though to be fair, I do have the pleasure of having a person worth voting for standing in my electorate; someone sane, honest and capable.  This isn't always the case, to have all three virtues at once.  Shouldn't think he'll get in, though - there would need to be an 11% swing for the seat to change hands.

In other non-news:  I didn't manage to get to the movie I was thinking I'd go to (Lua Phat, ie Buddha Fire, first ever Vietnamese action fantasy movie).  The closest I got to action fantasy this weekend was when I began to make pumpkin soup, and had a prolonged, silent, Arthurian struggle, when the big knife got stuck in the pumpkin and wouldn't come out.  Though the rightful claimant shouldn't have had to struggle, so I suppose that makes me one of the anonymous pretenders. Bother.



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I saw Pacific Rim yesterday.  It was the first contemporary big-action, humans-versus-aliens I've seen, and I found it enormously interesting, but it also left me with much to think about.

I really loved its look, which seemed to me in places to owe a lot to Blade Runner, by the way.  But then again, I was told by my learned companion that the film also owed a lot to Godzilla,Transformers and Top Gun, none of which I've seen, so there might have been references all over the place.  Actually, I thought one keynote speech was practically a rewrite of the "but not this day!" speech from LOTR, but that's the only other ref I noticed, if it was a ref.  Anyway, I was saying, that I loved the look of the movie, especially the wonderfully detailed battered metal of all the infrastructure that the group was working with, even from the very beginning (of the movie, which starts some years into the story, i.e.some years after the alien monsters first appear).  That and the colour palette, and the terrific effects, especially the water battles.  The whole look of the movie at pretty well every point, actually (barring the sudden burst of sunshine and blue skies at the end, which after all the gloomy rain and snow was stretching credulity somewhat - monsters destroyed and skies are suddenly blue again). 

I liked Mako very much indeed, from her first entry with umbrella and all the way.  And yes, wonderful to see a woman not on display (visually or by the plot) as sexual object, but as a person - and uncompromisingly herself, all the way.   Though... the script did her some disservice at points, most notably her long silent standing by while the hero (more or less) beats up someone for not apologising... well, it's complicated, and I don't want to get spoilery.  Did we even get a reaction shot, though?    And in  the closing scenes, too, she wasn't well served by the script, I thought.  Still, the actress did really well in the part - she has great eyes!   And brilliant body language -- I loved her challenging, unyielding, utterly certain stride under the umbrella, in the opening scene -and then her eyes showed the things she doubted.  (And while I'm on Mako, the little girl Mako was terrific! especially before she saw Pentecost.)   But not even Mako could escape the scourge of the Monster Script; even she had to play a round of Inane or Pointless Scripted Action Roulette, though she was much, much less prone to it than others, including the Whole Combined World Defence Force.  Okay, no point in getting picky about plot holes and inconsistencies and plain silliness, because it's not that sort of movie.  But...

...the national stereotyping, and which nations are expendable, and the am-I-reading-too-much-into-it subtext did leave me uneasy.  The Russians, who build the biggest, heaviest jaeger monster-fighter, and who are cold, vaguely threatening, nearly silent and edgy-looking; the Chinese, who build a weird three-armed abnormal jaeger monster-fighter, and who are quick and lithe and great at sport, but totally silent; and the Chinese crowds, who just mill about to be background when called for.  Let alone the Australians - basically useful allies, all like Thingummy Dundee, need to learn a bit of respect.  And was that the Magical Negro I saw there? the man whose background story we (in the person of the hero) are specifically told we will never learn, the one who alone of all the pilots, can drift without memories, the man who therefore (in the movie) comes from nowhere to appear in a haze of golden light, and... ooops.  Almost a spoiler.  And the whole idea that what saves humanity from the relentless incomer monsters, is a private band of heroes, specifically not endorsed by any public consultation or agreement or authority, ex-military who decide to take action unilaterally, after being betrayed by the pusillanimity and inanity of the...I think the phrase was "men in suits"? or "men in ties"?  Still pondering that subtext.

I have high hopes of seeing another movie before the week is out: the first Vietnamese action-fantasy, Lua Phat, or Buddhist Fire/Buddha's Fire, about a monk (oh, yes.. a martial-arts fighting monk.  I don't think that's a spoiler!) who comes to aid of a beleaguered village... sort of like The Seven Samurai, I think.  This is more movies than I usually see in six months.  :D

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