Monday, November 1, 2010

The Game's Afoot

Recently I watched Benedict Cumberbatch,the newest incarnation of Sherlock Holmes, in the BBC series "Sherlock", prancing around ecstatically as he made a revelation during his case. He'd just discovered that a serial killer was lose in the city.

"We've got ourselves a serial killer," he says gleefully. "Love those-there's always something to look forward to." This is such a "sherlockian" thing to say. Anyone who knows Holmes knows that he is entirely invested in the impression that he is the smartest head in any group, that everyone is invariably the wrong to his right. He is so obsessed with the game and how he pits his genius to solve his cases, the emotional side of the situation does not faze him. Surely such behaviour usually turns the majority of us off? Generally we hate people who are so sure of their superiority and flaunt it in our faces. Yet many people adore Sherlock Holmes, and we've been doing it for over a hundred and twenty years.

I think my own situation is a testament to the allure of Sherlock Holmes. I read pretty copiously, but I generally avoid mysteries and suspense thrillers. I can get a bit lost watching anything but the simplest Scooby Doo mysteries, but I am fascinated by Sherlock Holmes and go through phases of keen interest. Case in point the fact that I've had the complete short stories for years. I read quite a few of them over time, but have not touched the book for a very long period. Now I'm systematically reading them all again, and even though I detect a hint of sameness in the structure of some of these stories, I am continuing to drive through them, held by the sensational story lines, the warmth of Watson and the attraction of Holmes himself.

There is no doubt that Sherlock attracts us. One of the reasons for our acceptance of him is that - to pickpocket a Jane Austen phrase - "he has the right to be proud". We have a fascination in watching genius at work. For me, that's why I like to watch a good lecturer doing his job or a conductor or musician coaxing brilliance out of their creations. As we read, we see Watson marvelling at Holmes' work, and we understand his hero worship because generally, we're right there beside him, gazing in awe. Holmes may be vain and sure of himself, but it helps that he's generally right in his impressions. He knows for a fact that he's smarter than everyone else in the room.

I also take great pleasure in learning about Holmes' eccentricities. At the moment, I am in a midway state: between those who are Sherlock experts, and those who know next to nothing of the character. I am still learning about him, still learning to picture him, and it's a fascinating image. Through Watson, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle could draw fascinating pictures with precise, detailed description. We see it in every story in the way he describes Holmes' clients. He depicts Holmes in terms which build a perfect image of him in our minds.

When I watch Holmes in other media, it is always exhilarating to see specific "Holmesian" traits manifesting themselves whether in a younger version or a mouse one of Holmes, but we are like Watson and we are always hungry for more. Holmes is reticent about his background, so we get little of his past life or his family except in certain stories, so even as we know him he still seems a bit mysterious.

In the Sherlock mini series, he describes himself as a functioning sociopath which puzzled me. Ironically, that may be one area where I think the character portrayed incorrectly. A sociopath is cold and calculating, and Holmes is often that, but I have noted several times when the stories suggested that Holmes was sympathetic, where he seemed roused to righteous indignation by wrong doing. Of course, he didn't run around becoming deeply and emotionally invested in every case that came his way but cool Holmes may be and manic and calculating, but I think he has more feeling than a sociopath. His relationship with Watson particularly puts me off the idea.

The Watson/Holmes relationship is another big part of the attraction for this character. I don't think we could tolerate Holmes without Watson to relate to and to like for himself. The doctor proves to be a brave, loyal, intelligent, loving friend (who I recently discovered was instrumental in helping Holmes rise up out of us drug addiction). No wonder Holmes appreciates and values Watson. I think he loves the Doctor with the fondness one has for a great friend, and in Holmes' case, an only friend. This is a big part of the Robert Downey Jr Sherlock Holmes movie which built up their relationship into a bromance which I enjoyed to the fullest.

If Sherlock's feelings for anyone else is fleeting, his affection for Watson is unerring. He needs his presence in a life where he otherwise seems fine with being alone. He takes him on many cases, making it clear that he finds his friend, keen, brave, resourceful even intelligent (though of course not as intelligent as himself). It's always clear that he's there for his usefulness and that Holmes values his contribution more than anyone else.

Their situation makes it almost impossible for them not to bond. Besides being roommates, they are partners in numerous harrowing and often dangerous adventures. They're inseparable comrades in arms while they keep watch for suspects and nameless horrors in the dead of night, and sometimes in real physical confrontations. They are perfect examples of the male partners that frequent so many movies.

Another thing I love about Watson is that he is also useful to the reader. Again, we would probably not like Holmes as much as we do, if there wasn't a Watson with whom we could empathize. He gives us a this amazingly detailed picture of Holmes (proving that he is a keen observer like his friend, just not with similar deductive powers) and brings him alive to us with fascination, appreciation and introspection. Besides liking the man for himself - for he is everything Holmes says he is - we can appreciate the role he plays in the narrative.That's why so many people, me included, feels either unhappy or uncomfortable when he is depicted as a silly bumbler or mere comic relief. Even when it's funny like in "The Great Mouse Detective" or "Young Sherlock Holmes"

I don't think Holmes has ever gone out of style, so I don't foresee a big revival of him because of the success of the BBC series, but as usually happens, many people who knew next to nothing about him will start to show stirrings of interest and a new wave of fans will emerge. No doubt we'll continue to see new versions of him cropping up here and there, and I look forward to every new interpretation.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Reflections from the Bowels of Movie Hell!! (Send Help!!!)

Ladies and gentlemen, I am officially in Movie Hell. Yup. I've looked around, squinting at my surroundings, hoping against hope that my premonitions are not correct, but I'm sure of it now and I've come to accept it. I'm in Movie Hell. And if you don't know by now, let me break it to you gently, you're here with me!!!

Cause you see according to Glenn Whip of MSN, we have officially reached the END OF SUMMER, the traditional darkness after the sunshine of the summer movie season, and blah, blah, blah, I know we don't have summer in Trinidad, but we're subject to the change in movie seasons just like the rest of the world.

So here we are fellow sufferers, but no need to fear for long. This wasteland has an end. Fall movies are on the way. In the meantime, one thing you can do in this dreary landscape is reflect on past pleasures...


Robin Hood

I don't think a lot of people saw Robin Hood this year. I ended up seeing it in the deadly row of horror at the movie theatre ie the front row where the only way to see the movie in any comfort is to crane your neck upwards and push your seat backward as far as it can go, and that is not very far at all. Despite the discomfort, I really enjoyed this movie and that attested to its quality.

Everyone knows the traditional Robin Hood story, but so little is known about the actual person, that filmmakers can toy with the details to their heart's content. Ridley Scott increased the scope of the story considerably. I'm not the person to ask if it was historically accurate, but I felt that I was watching an authentic tale. So we see a lot of the Crusades; of the living arrangements of the lords of England at the time; the troubled interactions of the royal family (is it ever anything but troubled?) This is the sort of thing I like, but have to trust to filmmakers that they are being as accurate as possible.

The characters made the rest of the movie for me. Cate Blanchett was sharp, and warm and sweet and earthy, playing a Maid Marion who spent her time labouring and working in the fields with everyone else. There is no time for luxury and soft pillows in her world. Cate Blanchett is lovely as usual. It may seem tired to be gushing over a spirited heroine yet again, but Blanchett fires her character with steel and courage, and she's a true daughter of the soil and makes us feel her weariness and determination.

Russel Crowe plays a Robin Hood reminiscent of Maximus Decimus Meridius' gentleness and gentlemanliness. He is disarmingly polite in the face of Maid Marion's disdain, and is clearly the Robin Hood who sympathized with the poor and fought because he has to and not cause he wanted to. I have a weakness for that type character. There's an element of Luke Skywalker, Aragorn of Arathorn and Frodo Baggins in that type of hero, and I can't get enough of it.

I like that the characters were supposed to be a little older than what is usually expected. When Robin of Loxley calls her a girl Marian observes, "Girl? Either you've grown blind or come looking for charity". They are both world weary and are happy for simple things, and I really enjoyed seeing them together.

Since the movie seems to be a prequel to the more well known legends of Robin Hood, we see many of the key characters developing like Friar Tuck, Prince John and the Merry Men which this sober Robin Hood needs to watch his back. I really appreciated the comic relief provided by the Merry Men especially Kevin Durand who I've really liked in Lost and who seems to enjoy his work and throws himself thoroughly into everything I've seen him in so far.

The critics didn't seem to enjoy this movie as much as I did, and I usually respect their opinions, but I really liked this and found it good fun.

Toy Story 3

I believe this should be on many people's movie of the year list. Pixar I do not know what magic elixir you use on your creative team, but I hope it never dries up.

I teared up during two scenes in Toy Story. The first would be the moment in the incinerator when they joined hands. We've seen characters in movies get ready to face their inevitable demise together, so I didn't think I would be affected as I realized what was happening, but it did. Pixar played this scene perfectly.

The other moment was of course when Andy went to give his toys away. It speaks a lot for my maturity that though I am older than Andy, I did not want him to do it. Yes, I knew it made sense. I knew it was the best thing to do for all involved, but the scene spoke to the side of me who used to keep my dolls boxed away all the time. I hardly played with them, but I liked to think of them stored away waiting for me. I used to take them out every now and then to make sure their hair was combed and their clothes neat. Yes, Andy's the better man.

But fear not, I'm not that selfish. I was far happier that Buzz and the gang were safe and content. I shared the sense of comfort that others probably felt. I was glad that the toys were in a safe new home with a child who would play with them and love them for a long time, and where there would be other toys to round out their family.

I don't know about anyone else, but it was good to see that Andy had grown up to be a good kid. He never failed his little friends. He took care of them and saw that they would be well taken care of. I thought it was just nice seeing that he was would grow into a good man. That single Mom of him raised him right. Good for her!

The people at Pixar have said that they like to drop in on these characters now and then because they are like real people to them. I think they succeeded in creating the same feelings in me.

The theme of loss was very strong in this movie. It's an inevitable part of being a toy and of course of our own lives like the Velveteen Rabbit, like Winnie the Pooh, like every toy ever. This the darkest movie in the lot I think, and I attribute most of this darkness to the innocuous looking Lotso, an old, soft, pink, strawberry smelling bear who's heart has died. The moment when he looks into the window and sees his little girl with another bear, something snaps in him and we can feel it. The way he pulled the baby doll away as well and its pained cry was at once heart wrenching and horrifying. Lotso chose to do the evil he did afterward, but I could not shake the pity I felt for him cause he was broken inside. That's hard to overcome.

However, despite all this depth, this movie was still joyous and fun and heartwarming with moments for characters to shine. The only criticism I've seen for Toy Story movies was the lack of female characters in it. This movie blew this trouble away by having the girls step up here. Barbie herself has a big part to play. Jessie and Mrs. Potato Head are key elements in the overall plot and have their moments of heroism, and the toys end up in the home of a wildly imaginative little girl with lovely toys led by a doll and with other female toys rounding out the group. Its not just a boy's club here anymore. (Thought it was a fantastic boys club to begin with I cannot lie.)

The story has marvellous humour, thrilling moments, and everything else a high calibre movie needs. Well done Pixar. Once more you've stepped forward without putting a foot wrong. Can't wait to see what's next.

Iron Man 2

Years ago I wrote about how much I loved Iron Man, and I knew I would love Iron Man 2, and I was right. Months later I can look back to my first official film of the summer with fondness. Why? Because Robert Downey Jr is captivating to watch, and no one else in the movie rivals him which is a testament to his charm. The fact that he could be rascally and difficult and still have the audience (read: me) on his side is also proof of his skill. His conversations with Gwyneth Paltrow are sometimes lightning quick, but they feel so very natural. Gwyneth fills the slot for my second favourite character. I really liked the direction they took with her, making her more than a secretary and making her the leading player in their business, outranking Tony Stark himself.

As usual, I was moved by the beauty of the "scenery", and I've put Tony Stark's home on my list of One-Day-I-Must-Haves. The hints of a greater comic book universe is such a nice little present for those of us who have some knowledge of that type of thing. So I smiled when I saw Captain America's shield; I grinned secretly at the references to SHIELD and I felt a great glad joy when SHIELD found Thor. (I am looking forward to Thor by the way. I have high hopes for it because I am anticipating it to have a strong mythological back ground and because it is being directed by Kenneth Brannagh, who I will one day blog about to showcase his greatness.)

This movie was of course imperfect. I miss Terrence Howard, and that is the only reason I don't like Don Cheadle as I should as he is very good here. I didn't think Scarlett Johanssen was very necessary. The villains were not fantastic, and adequate, but nothing was poor enough to detract from my enjoyment of this film. Wonderful job as usual Jon Favreau. (Favreau's role as Tony's chauffeur is great as well. A real pleasure to see.)


Some of you may recall that I was raving about Star Trek this time last year, and riding on a constant high because of it. I did not think such an event would be repeated again until 2012 when J. J. Abrams will repeat and surpass the brilliance of the first movie (prays). But miracles can happen, here I am riding the Inception wave with millions of other people and having a blast.

I saw this movie twice, each time with my brow furled in concentration, so I did not lose the thread of the narrative, and I understood it! (Just like that scene in the Rats of NIMH remember? Well perhaps, you haven't seen the Rats of NIMH, but you should.) I have often watched complicated movies and felt the plot points slipping through my brain like water through a sieve. This one held me, and even when I did not understand a detail, it did not prevent me from following this movie, and curling inwardly with suspense over this movie and gaping with my mouth open at this movie.

Inception has brilliant pacing. The story could have been so cold, but no it had me worrying about the characters and fearing for their fates. It has excellent acting as well. Believe it or not, this is my first Leonardo DiCaprio movie, and he is excellent in this, hitting so many emotions, and displaying so many complex feelings and drawing us into his misery. It was lovely to see Ellen Page who I adore, and who manages very well with a role which could have been uninteresting. My favourites here though are Joseph Gordon-Levitt (who I have shamefully ignored for years) and Tom Hardy who I saw in RocknRolla and did not recognize here. My reasons for liking them are simple. They are both the one man armies, the cool heroes, the sharply dressed James Bonds. In short, the kind of character I can dislike or love, and both manage to make me love them. Joseph Gordon-Levitt is smooth, steelly and impassive without being cold and block like, and he has the amazing physical scene in the revolving hallway which I cannot forget. Tom Hardy is calmly professional, but snarky and mischievous and clever as well. Their scenes together are a joy to watch, and that added to the fact that the whole cast plays their parts well is delicious.

Christopher Nolan has a reputation for making intelligent movies, and I like that the intelligence is a trait in his characters as well. I remember a critic saying that when he heard Bruce Wayne use the word "sycophants" in Batman Begins, he knew he was watching something special. I love that these characters are skilled at working with their minds - quite literally too! Together they come up with a scheme which reeks of careful thought, an understanding of the human psyche and audacious cleverness, and we get to see them discussing it. Ariadne creates complex structures in the real world and in dreamscapes. And the experienced members of the team, do their jobs, adapt to problems and overcome them all in their own heads. Amazing huh! I felt like I was watching intellectuals at work, and that's what they really are.

I've appreciated Chris Nolan's work in the past a great deal, but I was astonished at his ability to make a big budget action movie and a thinking one as well. I should have realized that was his strength when I watched the two last Batman movies, but I had to be reminded again here. I would ask you to take notes Michael Bay, but I don't think you'd read them.

So yeah, for once my Summer movie season started off high and ended on a high as well, and for that I am very grateful. Please feel free to comment and tell me how ridiculous I am or how brilliant; what movies I clearly did a disservice to; which ones I missed or all of the above if you wish.

Friday, June 18, 2010

A Hypothetical Letter to Octavia Butler

Once while I was struggling through the obstacle course required of those hapless mortals compelled to write a Master's thesis in English Literature, one of my professors asked me about the author I had chosen for my topic, Octavia Butler. I explained that she was a groundbreaking science fiction writer, a pioneer for black women in the field where they are almost non-existent.  When I explained that she lived somewhere on the East coast of the United States, he suggested I write to her as I was living in Miami at the time.  He thought she would be glad to hear from someone interested in her work. I thought it was a good idea though I wasn't sure how I would get the letter to her. Eventually the task shrivelled away, overwhelmed by the presence of other, more looming, tasks, though I hung on to the concept.  Someday I would do it.
In my head, I planned what I would say.  Ms. Butler's books are among the most disturbing I have ever read. Sometimes I've had to put them aside to give myself some relief from the images they’ve created in my mind. They are not at all typical horrors or science fiction with clear cut figures of good and evil, but curiously vivid situations where flawed human beings had to make terrible choices which could leave them changed and broken whatever the choice. Nothing is ever simple.

For example, in her Xenogenesis saga, Butler's main character Lilith must work with the aliens who have basically taken over the future of human beings. They wish to bond with mankind to help it survive, but this means changing the way humans live, breed and exist. Lilith is seen as a traitor by many humans, but how can she openly resist them without destroying them all? In Kindred a young woman is mysteriously transported to an antebellum plantation in the old South and discovers that to ensure her family's survival she has to condone the possible rape of one of her ancestors.
Butler was interested in looking at the difficult options humanity has to face.  There's no doubt that her works suggested a boundless imagination. As a writer myself, I was intrigued by her original ideas nurtured by her interests in medicine, cloning and what makes us human. While she sometimes horrified me, she compelled me with her juggling of possibilities and with her amazing ideas.
I was fascinated by her herself: reportedly shy, quiet and introspective, she found the creativity and courage to write and succeed in a field populated by white males.  At the age of ten, she started writing her own science fiction, unfazed and unconscious of the trail she was breaking.  She never stopped writing after that. I have to remember that.
The content of that hypothetical letter to her dwelled in my mind even as I procrastinated. I believe I would have thanked Ms. Butler for her single minded determination to do what she wanted to do.  I would have thanked her for opening the eyes of people of many ethnicities to the fact that science fiction and fantasy wasn't just for Them. Somehow I would have tried to express my gratitude for the way she has terrified, inspired and challenged me ever since I got to know her. I would have also thanked her for exposing me to the worlds in her stories, and to the whole experience of immersing myself in that world as I trudged through my thesis.
I would have enjoyed writing that letter. Octavia Butler died far too early at the age of fifty-eight.  That was four years ago. The solitary woman was alone when she died.  As her birthday approaches (June 22), I think of her and again I am glad that her astonishing work was acknowledged and admired during her lifetime.   She won every major award in science fiction, and she generated a large fanbase which spans age, race and ethnicity. Hopefully, she knew that her worth was recognized.  Perhaps my one simple letter would have not had much impact upon her. Or perhaps she would have been pleased to hear from yet another person she had inspired.  Mentioning as much to my sister, she observed, "At least she knowns now." Perhaps she does

Octavia Butler - Bibliography

Friday, June 4, 2010

Sci Fi Heroines Who Are Way Better Than Megan Fox

While watching Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen some months ago, I was moved by various emotions. Not strong ones mind you – I did not feel any strong pathos or excitement or delight while watching this movie. In fact at one point I actually zoned out for a while. Sorry Transformers fans!

What I did feel was a mild annoyance with Megan Fox. Understand me I don’t know Megan Fox. She could be a very nice person. I have never seen her in anything else but Transformers movies, so she may be Academy award calibre in all her other roles (thought I doubt it). I also feel sorry for her because she’s one of the people some of the media don’t like, and when the media don’t like you whoa ho ho! However I don’t have any fond memories of Megan Fox in the first movie, and I wasn’t too pleased with Miss Fox in the second one. Again I didn’t have any strong feelings for her – it just wasn’t that kind of movie – but Megan was so obviously supposed to be eye candy and nothing else it got tiresome. She worked in a garage dressed in skimpy clothes which no self respecting mechanic would wear for fear of severe burns, cuts and other damage. Her makeup and body language was terribly obvious and pinup style, prompting one reviewer to comment that she never seemed to close her mouth. The heroes dragged her around by her hand or arm whenever they were dashing from place to place. In short, she seemed to have been designed to mildly annoy me.

I’m glad that in general the critics seemed to feel the same as I do. I would be worried that people would try to hold her up as a candidate for the Sci Fi Woman Hall of Fame. That would have brought on some strong emotion from me! Despite the fact that science fiction can be a bit of a boy’s club, there are some great female science fiction characters out there, and thankfully no one is making any concerted efforts to try to elevate Megan Fox up there with the sci fi female greats who have gone before her.

However, I am afraid for the rabid fans who think Megan Fox scored in that movie because she was just so hot and – ugh – kick ass. To this I would reply, huh?! Surely those who think this have forgotten (or never knew) that there have been female characters in the past who have been strong, well acted, admirable, feminine and have made you feel for them and actually care what happened to them. At the same time, they didn’t need their attractiveness to be hyped up to obnoxious proportions, their characters shone through and enlivened their appearance or at least that’s not all you remembered about them. Just in case some of these excitable people have forgotten the true stars of the female sci fi universe, I have put inordinate amounts of time into compiling a list of the ladies I have admired in sci fi movie and television over the years. Just in case you weren’t paying attention.

Don’t forget, despite my aspirations to geekdom, I’m not versed in every sci fi show out there, so of course I won’t mention every great female out there. That’s what my comment section is for. As usual my blog is slanted to my preferences. These are the ladies that inspired me, and I’ll try to make you see why as best I can. Feel free to disagree.

Nyota Uhura

If you read my blog posts, you may have noticed that I am a leetle obsessed with the new Star Trek movie. (No you haven’t noticed? Really?) My love for the newest movie rekindled my interest in the character, but I’ve always liked Uhura. Culturally, the character is a role model for many. At the time of the Star Trek original series, it was unusual seeing a black woman playing a character like this.

Ironically (though not suprisinginly) Uhura did not get a lot of chances to shine, but in retrospect the character has many admirable qualities which have been explored in books and later movies. Uhura is intelligent! There is no question. She has an unmatched mastery of many complicated languages. In one of my Star Trek books, she takes some time off to serve on another ship because they need someone with her level of expertise. She is one of the few female officers serving on the bridge. In the new movie, her determination and ambition is made very clear.

There is no doubt that Uhura has evolved over the years. She even moves up through the ranks in the series timeline, going from Lieutenant to Commander! Whether she is Nichelle Nichols or Zoe Saldana, we now know her as a formidable member of the Enterprise bridge crew and the character has bypassed any notion of her being a mere prop...unlike some people we know....

Leia Organa
Much is made of how in Star Wars: A New Hope Princess Leia basically took over her own rescue, and I too applaud her resourcefulness. The importance of her role in the movies was vital I think. Her courage was amazing. I liked how she was so clearly a member of the specialized squad which comprised of Han Solo, Luke Skywalker and Lando Calrissian. Particularly in the final movie, she goes into Jabba’s Palace alone. Later she is part of the plan to infiltrate the Empire on Endor. They cannot do without Leia.

Luke cannot do without her. One of the strongest draws of the series to me is the bond that grows and exists between the twins. She quickly becomes a steadying core in the hearts of those she is closest too. I imagine if Han Solo had any conscious thoughts while trapped for all that time in carbonite, it was thoughts of Leia that kept him from going mad. When Luke was at his lowest moment, he thought of Leia and knew she would save him. She steadied him when he was conflicted later about what he should do about the threat of their father. Not surprisingly when he thought he would lose her later, it was what made him snap.

I cannot imagine Megan Fox playing such a regal, resilient, powerful person. Not at all.

Queen Amidala/Padme Naberrie

No wonder Anakin Skywalker is fascinated and entranced by the Queen of Naboo. Padme Naberrie is the youngest elected official on her planet and we can see why. She is poised. She is regal. She is determined. She is smart. She works tirelessly to save her people. You can see where the Skywalker twins have inherited resilience and honour and nobility.

I have to say that I feel George Lucas did Amidala a disservice in the final episode when her leadership and strength is diluted and overshadowed by Anakin’s story and her own pregnancy! However, I feel even during these problematic plot twists, her nobility shines through, and her potential doesn’t waver in my mind. Lucas had created such a strong character she could not be extinguished in my mind. There are books to be written about this character if need be to explore all of her intricacies. I’d like to see Ms Fox manage to breath any life into such a character.

Ellen Ripley

I’ve only watched one “Alien” movie and that was Aliens. That was all I needed to know that Ellen Ripley is a great sci fi warrior. Sigourney Weaver is a leading player in the sci fi genre, and this movie showcases it well. For me, it’s because as Ripley, she can be fierce and determined, but at the same time vulnerable in her manner that hurts your heart a little. You know she may be wounded. You know she feels strong emotions and can be afraid. By this, she surpasses a lot of heroines I see these days who are so steelly, they’re unbelieveable. Some of the suspense is lost at once. They’re practically invulnerable right? So who cares?

In Aliens, you can fear for Ripley, but you have faith in her because she has the strength at her core that can help her get the job done. And of course she rewards our trust in her, and shows that she cannot be brought down. All the elements I love come to the fore in the classic scene when she faces the Mother Alien. That one moment is unforgettable kind of like the time when Megan Fox

See what I mean in the link below.

Eowyn, Shield Maiden of Rohan

No matter what incarnation you find her in, you have to be fascinated by J.R.R. Tolkien’s shieldmaiden of Rohan. While Arwen Evenstar is a princess in an ivory tower, Eowyn is a princess of the trenches. When her people are called to war, she sets to work. When she finds she cannot bear to be left behind, she goes into battle.

I don’t mean that you can’t feel for Arwen, but I feel that many people feel more connected to Eowyn. Her feelings of pain when it comes to unrequited love are something we have all experienced. Her hopelessness is real. Her troubles are real. And we see her desperately take her fate into her own hands to try to do something.

In Peter Jackson's superior movie Mirando Otto does a wonderful job as Eowyn, and like many of the other ladies I have mentioned, her scenes are memorable. Just take a look at one of her greatest scenes here.

So as I have mentioned, I do not want to deprive Megan Fox of a paycheck. (I admit I could not help smiling rather evilly when I heard she was dropped from Transformers 3 recently, but she's in Jonah Hex soon, so you see... don't worry about her.)I just want to be sure that anyone who thinks she may be a superior science fiction heroine thinks carefully before they make that distinction. The standards in this category are very high, and I really don't think Ms. Fox will ever attain them. Though I could be wrong! Feel free to agree or disagree in my comments and let me know who I've missed from my list!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

The Movie Tide is rushing in!

I just realized that my yearly "Summer Movie Madness"* blog post is imminent. Summer movie insanity has begun in the states, and as usual I am swept up in the tide. I have no predictions about the upcoming season at all. Usually by now I have a solid list of movies I want/need to see. However, at this late stage I only know I am interested in seeing "Prince of Persia" and the new Robin Hood. No inward trembling and anticipation. No figurative salivating. The first movie fills me with concern as Jerry Bruckheimer is involved, and the trailers make me fear that there will be a goofiness involved which will devalue the story for me. I hope and expect the second one to be a good film but not an earthshaking,amazing one.

I really need to get a good preview of the summer movies and really give them a close analysis. I am surprised though that the usual strong anticipatory buzzing has not reached me as it usually does. Is it that my "movie senses" are not as sharp as they once were or is this year's buzz less energizing than usual? We will have to see.

Anyway whatever the season brings, I must admit that it has had a promising start. I saw Iron Man 2 yesterday (it came here before the states. Imagine that.), and I was most happily mesmerized once more by Robert Downey Jr. Surprise, surprise..

(Observe the joy of my recap during the glorious year of the first movie:

After seeing Iron Man 2, I feel as if the big blast for the summer has come and gone, but I hope I will be proven wrong. I won't go into great detail about my viewing experience just yet. In the meantime, in the true summer movie tradition, I will post a teaser to get you panting with anticipation.

Nice eh? Impressed? Me too!

Anyway feel free to post and let me know what movies you are looking forward to seeing in the next few months. I am also open to recommendations of what you think I should see.

And check out last year's recap as well:

*Yes I am still using the word "summer" to describe the movies that premiere between May and August. I know I don't live in a place which has a summer time, but I have no problem using the term. For one, it's the handiest word to describe these movies which are almost a genre in themselves. Besides that this "season" is inherently an American one. I see no problem with using the American way of describing it.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Out of desolation: Inspiration

Today they pulled a seventeen year old girl out of the massive rubble left over after the earthquake in Haiti.

I think about how many hours she spent alone in the dark, thinking she would die, and I fear that she will find herself back in that darkness everytime she closes her eyes. She made it out though, and she lives.

It seems petty to say that this disaster serves as a source of inspiration to us. It seems a little self centred to wonder how I can benefit from such horror when I should be thinking about the Haitian people, but I can’t help how I feel.

I see people going doggedly on with their lives despite everything. People talk about the Haitian people being resilient. Unlike the situation in many Caribbean islands, their slaves rose up and took their independence from the colonists. I don’t like making sweeping generalizations about any group of people, but I hope that many Haitian people have this hardy streak to get them through the next few days – well months and years actually.

I look at news reporters who are on the scene looking haggard and tired and losing their patience because they feel too much. I’m seeing Haitian people sent away to live a better life coming home to help. I see rescuers, trying and trying for hours. I honor the dogs, who with their simple wills, just keep searching and searching because that’s what they love to do.

Who cares right now about language barriers? Rescuers and relief aid workers are there from all over the world. So many little Haitian children will be adopted by families who may not look like them, but will love them anyway.

Yes I’m inspired a bit. I cannot help it, but I don’t want to belittle the horror with my small desires right now. The best I can do is to hold this feeling to me and try to help however I can. If I don’t forget the pity, horror and motivation I feel, I can use this to drive me to reach out and help as I have so often planned to do. Just feeling bad or moved is not enough. It would be unfair to them, and they’ve already had enough wrongness.