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Appleseed: Ex Machina
2007 anime movie. A sequel to the 2004 Appleseed, which I saw but can't remember a single thing about. Deunan, a human, and Briareos, originally human but now in a cyborg body, are lovers and special ops partners. (Spoilers for general plot points) Briareos is injured in a battle and while he is recovering, the team leader tries to pair Deunan with another agent, who looks like Briareos used to look when he was a human, because he's a bioroid engineered from Briareos's DNA. Deunan is not happy about any of this. Some people try to take over the world with a satellite network, and the special ops team tries to stop them. I really liked this for the beauty of the fight choreography (especially in the opening scenes), for the relationships, and for the exploration of body and identity issues. It's a bit like Ghost in the Shell but more grounded, if that makes any sense.

The Asphalt Jungle
1950 noir film directed by John Huston (who also directed The Maltese Falcon); stars include Sam Jaffe (who plays a great character, a German criminal mastermind); Marilyn Monroe plays a small supporting role that was her first major film roleā€”and she is really something. Some people claim that this is the first heist film. Beautifully filmed in black-and-white. Pretty slow-paced in a way that I liked a lot. I cared about all the characters, which can be difficult to pull off in noir films. I also liked that there's almost no background music in the film.


For the 3.27 people who don't know, this is a crime drama series based very loosely on Conan Doyle's Holmes and Watson, set in present day New York City; Holmes is a drug addict in rehab and Watson is his minder; Holmes is a white guy and Watson is an Asian woman who used to be a surgeon.

I've watched a handful of episodes so far. It has a lot of elements that annoy me about Sherlock Holmes remakes and TV series in general, but there are also a lot of elements I like. Overall the good has slightly outweighed the annoying so far.
  • Minus: I hate TV shows that are driven by a male character's asshole-ish behavior, especially if there are also folks around him who are applying "if you talk about your wounds, you will be healed and no longer an asshole" therapy.
  • Minus: I hate it when Sherlock Holmes is portrayed as a socially inept asshole, or as an asshole who isn't really socially inept and so he comes out with super-sensitive social skills at key plot moments. Holmes is NOT an asshole in the original stories, nor is he socially inept. Sometimes he is brusque and sometimes he complains about how stupid most people are, but that's not the same thing. I can somewhat set aside this objection to stories set in modern times by telling myself it's not really supposed to be the original Holmes.
  • Minus: I hate it when Sherlock Holmes is portrayed as working via particularly brilliant hunches and when he encourages people around him to pursue their hunches. The original Holmes was all about deduction, which is the opposite of hunches.
  • Plus: I love the Joan Watson character. I love that she's a woman of color without that being a plot point. I love that she knows more about medicine than Holmes.
  • Plus: I love that Holmes & Watson like and are interested in each other as people but do not appear to have romantic interest in each other. (At least not so far. And if that changes I will be pissed.)
  • Plus: I like the convoluted plots that throw suspicion on one character after another.

Witch Hunter Robin
Thanks to [personal profile] azurelunatic, [personal profile] inkstone, and [personal profile] jennaria for recommending this anime series about a global organization that hunts down people who use magic to commit crimes. The title character was raised in a Roman Catholic convent before joining the organization.

I like this for the subtle character interaction (it gets closer to capturing coworker relationships than most stories about offices), for the spare animation style, and for the way characters' personalities and backgrounds are revealed a little bit at a time. I just finished watching an episode that was set in a homeless shelter, and I don't often see such subjects treated in anime.


N.K. Jemisin, The Kingdom of Gods (The Inheritance Trilogy #3)
OMG SO GOOD. I'll try to put a few more words to my reactions when I've finished it.

Katherine Lampe, Demon Lover (Caitlin Ross #6)
I made a separate post about this.

J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring (Lord of the Rings #1)
When I was a pre-teen my dad and I read all the Tolkien books out loud a couple of times, and then I took over reading them myself once every few years; I've never written any fanfic about it, but I consider Middle-Earth one of my home fandoms, essentially. This is an audiobook version narrated by Rob Inglis. His narration is not exactly the way I would do it, and because I've read the book so many times I am persnickety about how I would do it. But he does quite a good job overall. I do rather dislike his singing of the songs and poetry, though. He has a superb singing voice, but I don't care for most of the "generic Celtic style" melodies (again, this is because I'm persnickety and have made up my own melodies for some of them). When Inglis narrates the poetry rather than singing, he does fine. Tolkien is a writer who must be read aloud to be fully appreciated.

I am sad that the racism and sexism fairies have been at this book since the last time I read it.

Date: 1 Sep 2014 11:47 pm (UTC)
megpie71: Sephiroth holding Masamune ready to strike (Compensating)
From: [personal profile] megpie71
At least part of the problem a lot of (particularly American) adaptors of the Sherlock Holmes stories have is trying to translate an artefact of the British class system of the late 19th century (namely, inherited aristocratic privilege) into terms which make sense to people who haven't grown up inside that particular class system. These days, this category includes modern Brits. The Holmes in the original stories wasn't a socially inept type at all - in fact, he was a perfectly adapted icon of his class, namely the wastrel third son of an aristocratic family who was using his family's money and position in order to do whatever it was he wanted. About the only unusual thing about Sherlock Holmes in context was his choice of occupation: the more usual options were partying, artistic endeavours (particularly literary), or puttering about as an eccentric academic.

The point being, the behaviour Sherlock Holmes exhibits in the books toward people who aren't of a comparable rank and class to himself is actually rather abrupt and brusque, and he relies on his status as an aristocrat to protect him from a lot of the fallout of his actions. Watson, who is part of the upper middle classes (the middle classes at worst) as indicated by his medical training and his officer status from the military (this was, after all, the era where promotions were still largely available for purchase if you had the money) gets treated with a modicum of respect, but he's still the junior partner in the relationship, and forever will be. When you translate this into modern terms and a more egalitarian society, you get someone who comes across as being rather arrogant and rude - Sherlock expects deference and is offended when he doesn't get it. So I can see why the prevailing trend with modern adaptors for visual media is to essentially portray Holmes as an unrepentant arsehole, or at the very least, somewhere on the autism spectrum.

That said, one of the things I quite liked about the first series of Elementary (got it on DVD and watched it a few months back) is the way Joan Watson goes from "I'll put up with this for my job" to "stuff that for a lark, he can learn to be a civilised human like the rest of us!".

Also, I'd rather argue against it showing Holmes as working off hunches - there's a lot of pointers in the series to things like him doing research, and finding things out the hard way. It's just that one of the constants of the Sherlock Holmes media overall is Holmes has a high intellect - which I tend to read as "his brain is processing at a faster speed than most people" - and therefore he appears to be jumping to conclusions or running off "hunches", as compared to everyone else (if you want this sort of effect made explicable, the Robert Downey Junior Sherlock Holmes movie did a pretty good job of it - basically slowed down certain scenes into effective stop motion, and illustrated the thought process which was leading to the action of the next few seconds. Problem is, this sort of thing is probably a bit too expensive for regular use in a TV series).


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