firecat: red panda looking happy (Default)
[personal profile] firecat
Movies

Lucy

Lucy wasn't precisely the worst movie I've ever seen, but it had one of the largest expectations <> reality gaps. (I have been a big fan of the writer/director of this movie, Luc Besson, so I had high expectations.) Joe-Stef sez save yourself $9 and look at the YouTube trailer instead. It has almost all the good parts, in more or less the correct order. Then go watch 2001.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MVt32qoyhi0

However, there is one good part, where Lucy phones her mother, that isn't in the trailer.

My friend [personal profile] snippy had a different take on it:
It has a female lead who has her own plot, her own desires and plans, and her own resolution of plot instead of being just the Macguffin for a male lead to get motivated. She doesn't give up her power or die or anything banal at the end of the movie.
I agree with [personal profile] snippy—the reasons I didn't like the movie had very little to do with sexism. And I have to say, it is really nice to be able to dislike a movie for reasons other than sexism.


Pete Seeger, The Power of Song

Biopic made when Pete Seeger was 88 years old. It's supposed to be uplifting I think, but it made me sad. Something about cultures dying and changing makes me sad sometimes, and I feel like the culture he came out of is dying, although that might not be true. Also when I see stories about people who live a life totally dedicated to one thing, that makes me think about people who don't or can't for various reasons. Also there's a thread in the biopic that claims Pete Seeger is completely straightforward and uninterested in self-promotion, and he achieved success because his talents and vision deserved it. Which is probably at least mostly true. But it makes me think about how managing one's image seems super-important these days if one wants to be a public figure. Also insofar as Pete Seeger didn't manage his image but just acted like himself and achieved fame that way, I think for every Pete Seeger there are a kazillion people who are straightforward and aren't remembered.

I am too complicated for my own good sometimes.

Tl;dr: If you like Pete Seeger you will probably like this biopic. The OH grew up with Pete Seeger and liked it.


Fiction

Rhys Bowen, A Royal Pain (Her Royal Spyness series #2)

I finished this fast. The mystery was heavily foreshadowed, but that didn't diminish my enjoyment much. I'm going to wait a while before getting the next one because I'm not crazy about the narrator. (Last week's info about the book and series follows.) Audiobook narrated by Katherine Kellgren. Light historical mystery / romance series set in England and Scotland in the 1930s. Lady Georgiana is 34th in line to the throne and has a family mansion in London but no money, so she puts on a disguise and cleans people's houses for a living, while the Queen involves her in matchmaking schemes. The Lady Georgiana character is a foil for the more broadly comic characters she interacts with. Many of the characters are kind of stereotyped and Kellgren's voices are sometimes a little forced so I am not quite sure why I like this, but when it came time to pick a new audiobook I felt like downloading this one instead of starting any of the ones I already have.


Kerry Greenwood, Cocaine Blues (Phryne Fisher #1)

Historical mystery set in the 1920s. I'm about 1/4 of the way in. The Audible description makes it sound pretty fluffy (dancing! gaming! cocaine!), but so far, although it's light, it's not fluffy; it's got a fairly serious focus on social problems and one rich woman's attempts to help with them. Elizabeth Peabody meets Dickens and Dorothy Sayers for tea, or something like that.


Robert Galbraith (J.K. Rowling), The Cuckoo's Calling (Cormoran Strike #1)

Rowling really is an excellent stylist and that's probably what I liked best about this modern noirish mystery. It's got a pretty classic skeleton with some twists. Strike, the P.I. protagonist has an interesting family, and his female secretary ends up being his assistant and a good intellectual match. I love the way he and the secretary maintain an emotional distance from each other in the middle of being thrown together in weird circumstances. Strike has a disability, and the way Rowling describes how he deals with his disability rings true to me (I don't have the same disability, though).

I wasn't all that satisfied with that ending. (Obviously to say more would involve massive spoilers.)

There is one thing I strongly disliked about this book—there's a ton of classist, looksist, and somewhat racist judgementalism. And it feels to me like that judgementalism comes from Rowling and is inserted into her viewpoint character—some of it doesn't really fit with the rest of his personality.

I have this sort of problem with a great many mystery series, admittedly. I have a hard time going along with authors who seem to expect the reader to sympathize with all of their viewpoint characters' opinions, and that seems to be a general tendency in mystery series. Maybe I am wrong about what the authors expect. Or maybe part of the fun of mystery series for some people is getting to feel judgemental along with the protagonist about certain kinds of characters. I'm not going to pretend that I never feel judgemental or that I don't enjoy feeling self-rightous sometimes, but I don't seem to enjoy feeling judgemental about the same sorts of characters that some of the mystery protagonists do.

Kerry Greenwood series

Date: 6 Aug 2014 09:18 pm (UTC)
prairierabbit: Bandstand by Illinois River (Default)
From: [personal profile] prairierabbit
I've really enjoyed that series and there are now two sets of DVDs out for an Australian TV series based on the books. I still prefer the books, but the DVDs are fun and the costumes are GORGEOUS. The actors are likeable and although the story is altered, it still has some of its bite.

Date: 6 Aug 2014 10:19 pm (UTC)
inkstone: One Piece's Nami after the time skip (Default)
From: [personal profile] inkstone
This is the thing about Lucy. I had no complaints about the treatment of the heroine. And while it's racist, I don't think racism is the source of the movie's badness either.

I just don't know what happened to Luc Besson with this one.

Date: 7 Aug 2014 04:08 am (UTC)
lilacsigil: Hermionie Granger, "Hooray Books" (hermione)
From: [personal profile] lilacsigil
I agree about the judgemental comments in The Cuckoo's Calling, but they were vastly less than in The Casual Vacancy (which I stopped reading due to the rampant fat hate), and it's less again in the sequel, The Silkworm.

Date: 7 Aug 2014 05:30 am (UTC)
st_aurafina: close in crop of Phryne Fisher, 1920's lady detective, with a gold snub nose revolver (Miss Fisher: Phryne)
From: [personal profile] st_aurafina
Miss Fisher! The series is excellent. *points to icon*

Date: 7 Aug 2014 07:07 pm (UTC)
spiralsheep: Flowers (skywardprodigal Cog Flowers)
From: [personal profile] spiralsheep
Thanks for sharing your interesting observations about Pete Seeger. :-)

Date: 7 Aug 2014 08:39 pm (UTC)
jesse_the_k: kitty pawing the surface of Atlantic phonograph record on turntable  (scratch this!)
From: [personal profile] jesse_the_k
I found your Pete Seeger comments to be right-on. Anyone who is that well known has two or ten people supporting them. I can't remember whether it was that movie or an earlier one where I discovered that the heaviest lifter has been his wife of many years, Toshi Reagan.

Besides which, Pete was an out Communist. There were definitely gigs he didn't get, schools he never played, records unpurchased because of his political views. He made folk music into pop music because the music itself is great, and Pete isn't a hard-working miner, or farmer, or sharecropper. It's that which afforded him time and space to bring this music from the back yard to the juke box and Carnegie Hall.

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