Category Archives: Movies

Episode 16 — Elysium

Elysium

We’ve taken ourselves off world for this one in order to heal our wounded expectations. If you’ve ever wondered what Lindsay really thinks about Matt Damon, here is your chance.

Oh and here is Keeping up with the Cardassians, as promised:

A word to the wise, don’t google “Keeping up with the Kardassians” by mistake. You will get a very different type of result (HINT: It involves one of Kim’s more renowned body parts).

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Filed under Babes in the Woods, General Apocalypse, Movies, Podcast, Rachel, Robots, SciFi

Quick mood-lifter

I know I’m long overdue for a long, think-y post here, but since I don’t have one to hand, I offer you these, instead:

Oh, brother

heymonster’s Liz Lemon

Spencer Salberg of the Hey Monster tumblr has done a series of adorable and perfect miniature portraits of Strong Female Characters. He also sells prints. I don’t know if he takes suggestions, but it’s Tumblr, so maybe send him an ask?

– Nissa

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Filed under Fantasy, Feminerd, Firefly, Movies, Ripley, SciFi, Video

Everybody loves infographics!

So over at Next Movie (which I found via BuzzFeed), they have posted an infographic relating to young adult film heroines of the past season or two. Have a look (and of course click to embiggen):

Don't get confused, know your girls!

Now, I think that this is a great idea, but executed without a great deal of thought. Every single one of them is “shy/quiet?” I mean, they are all white, which is its own problem, but surely Hermione is neither of these things? Or Julie? Or even Katniss, though she doesn’t talk much? How, exactly, does Bella Swan qualify as a “fighter?” Do we know specifically that Hermione is a virgin? Does that sort of thing help us quantify our heroines in some way? Those are a few examples of issues I have with this particular image, but we’d love to hear your thoughts (agree? disagree? further questions/complaints?) – talk to us in the comments!

– Nissa

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Filed under Feminerd, Hunger Games, Movies, YA

World War Z’s First Trailer

Our esteemed colleagues at Io9 object to the lack of zombie marketing, but I’m going to tell you why the absence of zombie talk is music to my ears.

1. There are too many #$&(% zombie things out there lately. The market is saturated, and if semi-pro geek moi is tired of it, you can bet that both seasoned nerds and the mainstream have some feelings as well.

2. World War Z isn’t a traditional zombie story. When I read it for the first time, I was reminded of nothing so much as HBO’s Band of Brothers, or Schindler’s List. What makes the book compelling is that it’s a collection of anecdotes and viewpoints from various survivors of World War Z, which if you don’t know, I realize now, I should explain refers to World War Zombie. In the book, we get a worldview of a complete zombie apocalypse. There are stories from France, Japan, and China, as well as from the States, stories of long-term resistance and survival. It’s RICH, THICK, and dare I say, MEATY.

3. Honestly, I am just so stoked about this movie, and the delicacy with which they are handling the zed stuff is totally exciting to me. Can you imagine, a delicate handling of zombie materials? WE LIVE IN THE GOLDEN AGE OF GENRE, FOOLS. So many and varied are the stylistic offerings that we can have true critical debates.

Have you read World War Z? How do you feel about zombies these days? I’m going to go see Warm Bodies this weekend, so clearly when I say I am tired of it, what I mean is the opposite.

I want to spend my life with a girl like you,

Lindsay

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Overactive Imaginations, Horror Movies, and You (well, Me)


People who like scary movies, and there exist many wonderful examples thereof, tend to be of the stoic, or at least very cynical type. You know, the ones – you might even be one! – who can watch creepy, gruesome, and/or generally petrifying films and appreciate the structure, the pacing, and the relative artistic values without batting an eyelash, and sometimes with a laugh.

Personally, I cannot pretend to understand how these giants of will manage it. I belong to the other, much less popular variety of horror enthusiasts. I am terrible at scary movies. Let me give you the most recent example of what I mean. Friday night, I went to see Mama. I had seen two or three trailers for it, and knew it would be at the outside edge of my tolerance, but I love Guillermo del Toro and had to give it a shot. In terms of plot, it wasn’t really what I had expected, but I enjoyed it. Overall, I thought it was well-made if not groundbreaking. This is, of course based on the 95% of the movie I actually saw, because there were definitely moments where the peep-gap between my elbows closed for my own protection.

You see, I spent the first half of the movie fidgeting and trying to melt into the theater seat, with the intention of hiding just how bad I am at being scared from my companion. There was a moment around halfway through when it just became too much and I gave in. My knees came up to my chin, and I hugged them until the scary parts, when I pulled my hood over my face to watch through the weave. That worked until the really scary parts, when I wrapped my arms around my head and peeked through my elbows, which worked until the worst parts where the elbows closed and I was safe. All of this was accompanied by near-hyperventilation, and a great deal of effort spent on not making a sound. And that’s just while the movie was on.

The worst part of all of this is that because the movies are so good at getting me to identify with the situations the characters are in that I absorb the fear, and the movie is never completely over. Once I’m out of the theater, the movie is just a movie I saw…until bedtime. Once I’m home, even if I’m not alone in a dark house,  everything is sinister and I physically cannot help being afraid. I see creatures and creepers in every shadow, every corner, and my closet becomes an enemy. I don’t turn lights off, I don’t leave the room (I tried Friday night, but was too scared of the hallway), and I certainly don’t sleep. This can go on for days – it did this time! Friday night, I didn’t sleep. Saturday I slept fitfully, still with all my lights on. Sunday night, I turned off my overhead lights, but not my bedside lamp. And so on- it’s a process. This movie turned out to be particularly bad for me, but it’s hardly alone. This sort of this isn’t unusual for me when I go see horror movies (especially zombie movies, which I also feel compelled to see no matter what), or even non-horror movies with creepy parts or similar. Even Cabin in the Woods, which I loved, cost me a few hours’ sleep.

The point of all this is not just to embarrass myself in front of the internet, or to celebrate my psychological frailty, but rather to demonstrate the different ways that audiences can experience genre media, all with equal legitimacy. People who witness my extensive cowering often suggest not watching scary movies, but why shouldn’t I? I like them, and I like the stories they tell. I don’t like being unable to sleep, but I can live with it every now and then. Just because I don’t have the constitution of a columnist for Fangoria doesn’t preclude me from enjoying the same films, in the same way being an adult doesn’t preclude me from watching animated movies, or being female doesn’t prevent me appreciating action movies. Genre films – all films – have core, targeted audiences. One of the best things about being a genre fan is being part of a group of people who share your tastes and experiences. But it’s not the only thing – ingroups do not exercise sole ownerships over things they enjoy, and you should never feel like you don’t deserve to love something. If you’re like me, though, you should maybe make sure you don’t see a scary movie the night before doing anything important.

PS If you saw Mama and weren’t sufficiently creeped out, you should watch this motion test.

PPS I’m definitely not the only person with my problems (though I can’t speak to their severity for anyone else), as evidenced by Day[9]’s videos of himself playing Amnesia: the Dark Descent. Watching his playthrough makes me feel better about myself, except that I would never follow the instructions and play it in the dark. And I can’t play StarCraft at all, so I’m obviously not as cool as Day[9].

– Nissa

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Dorkness Rising

It’s Friday afternoon, the time of clock-watching and absolutely no productivity. Always here to help you maintain that grueling standard, the Babes present to you a window into the gateway drug of the tabletop world, Dungeons and Dragons! This film is by Dead Gentlemen, and has been the breaking point for many DnD holdouts. And yes, I have a) been this girl, b) played with all these guys (thank God not all at once), and c) still enjoy DnD. Without further ado, I give you Dorkness Rising:

Enjoy!

– Nissa

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Filed under Fantasy, Games, Movies, Tabletop, Video

A Public Domain of Mars


Among other things, for me 2012 was a window into the early days of science fiction. A trailer for Disney’s very expensive box-office blunder John Carter set me looking for source material: it was clear there was more the audience was supposed to recognize! As I have always been a read-the-book-before-the-movie type, I was pleased to discover that John Carter and his eleven documented adventures upon Barsoom were not only fairly simply to find, but also public domain works! I managed to find a way to read A Princess of Mars for free, and became fascinated with the fantastical retro-future Edgar Rice Burroughs developed a hundred years ago (literally – the first serial in what became the first book was released in February 1912). The book was clearly an early form of pulp novel, and deeply problematic to the modern reader on many thematic levels. But it was so outlandish I couldn’t help but love it.

My experience with A Princess of Mars (and subsequently The Gods of Mars and Warlord of Mars) brought Burroughs himself further onto my radar. Before John Carter, I had mostly dismissed Burroughs as the creator of Tarzan, many of whose books had gotten my mother into trouble at school. Upon finishing the first Barsoom novel (so called for the native Martians’ (single) word (across many races) for their home planet), I did some digging and found out what many older SF/F fans (especially the men, I suspect) will already know: Burroughs has an extensive bibliography of scifi novels, beginning with A Princess of Mars and not letting up until his death (and with the Tarzan series, not even then). I had never really classified Tarzan as scifi, rather lumping it generally under pulp/adventure, but looking at the other series Burroughs created (including Pellucidar, a hollow-earth series reminiscent of Verne’s Journey to the Center of the Earth (which is also in the public domain)) it’s clear that science fiction (or science fantasy, or even the dreaded “speculative fiction”) was his definite M.O..

Basically, the trainwreck effect has caused me to become the only fan I personally know of a slightly terrible hundred-year-old series of pulp novels. What it also has done is made me think about public domain. Disney was obviously interested in exploiting the centennial of Barsoom with the film (of which I attended my local midnight showing, of course), and in response Edgar Rice Burroughs, Inc (did you know he was the first writer to incorporate himself?) trademarked phrases like “A Princess of Mars,” “John Carter of Mars,” etc, despite their being public domain and thus not trademark-able under the USSC’s Dastar Corp v Twentieth Century Fox Corp decision. This couldn’t and didn’t stop Disney from making their film (and, for modern sensibilities, improving the source materials substantially) and using precisely whatever terms they wanted, which, as it turned out, eschewed the word “princess” as is now Disney’s habit.

Obviously a more famous example of public domain exploitation is the sudden explosion of Sherlock Holmes all over everyone. We’ve got movies, we’ve got TV series, we’ve got different TV series, and people coming out of the woodwork claiming they’ve been fans all along (some of them probably even have). The idea that anyone can do whatever they like with Sherlock Holmes simultaneously makes the property extremely tempting and oversaturated, especially with something as iconic as the Holmes stories – the ultimate “safe bet.”

Disney has been playing public domain both ends against the middle since the 1930’s, banking on adaptations of public domain properties while also seeking to prevent any of their adaptations or other properties ever entering the public domain. As we reach the point of semantic overload and the term “public domain” ceases to mean anything when we see it, my point is that this year, mostly due to John Carter, I have found it interesting to condsider the uses, abuses, and exploitations of public domain works, famous and obscure, by all kinds of media. Sometimes it’s as simple as counting the commercials this fall and winter using Little Red Riding Hood imagery. Sometimes it’s like what happened to me with John Carter. It also makes me think a lot about copyright and its implications for adaptive and transformative works that would be perfectly legal were works in the public domain, but aren’t yet. Having a time limit on when a work becomes art sits funny with me, but there has also been quite a lot of wailing and gnashing of teeth in the past few years about fanfiction and fan works generally as the posterchild for this sort of thing. Even authors and artists are divided – popular and iconic examples include Marion Zimmer Bradley’s famously pro-fanfic stance (minus her legal need to step away from helping with it) and George RR Martin’s equating fanfic to one’s children being raped (to be fair, I don’t accurately remember if the quote was his or if he was simply agreeing with someone else who had said that).

These next couple of decades are going to be fascinating as we try to legislate the ever-changing face of information and consumption. There must be thousands if not millions of public domain works I didn’t mention – are there any you want to see adapted? Are there any you hope no one ever finds? Let us know in the comments!

– Nissa

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