Friday, 28 June 2013

What I've Been Watching 28/6

A quick round up of recently watched films and TV shows:

Man of Steel (2013)

An interesting spin on the origin story as it makes use of flashbacks and flipping the expected order of events. It's very action heavy and did feel a little flat in places but overall it was a good watch.

Ruby Sparks (2012)

A quirky fantasy drama/comedy about a writer who creates his dream girl only for him to struggle with her coming to life for real. Its surprisingly deep and beautifully shot.

Kamikaze Girls (2004)

A Japanese movie about the unlikely friendship between a yanki and a gothic lolita that manages to be heartwarming without being overly sentimental and is funny to boot.

The Man who Laughs (1926)

A gorgeously shot silent film starring Conrad Veigt as a man who was disfigured as a child and now has a permanent, deranged grin. It starts tragically and goes downhill from there but it is well worth a watch.

Mangirl (2013-)

A cute series available to watch on Crunchyroll about a group of hapless would be editors trying to publish a manga magazine

Revolution (2012-)

I wrote an introduction piece for this over at Culturefly and I have to say the series is progressing really well. It's finished its run over in the US and there are still plenty of mysteries to be solved but a second series has been commissioned and I'm excited to see what comes next

Star Trek: Into Darkness (J.J. Abrams, 2013)

My initial impression was that this was much better than the first film, it did get bogged down in explanations and introdctions. It's very action heavy despite the fact that it is mostly confined to the ship. Looking forward to see what Abrams does with Star Wars.

Monday, 10 June 2013

4 (sort of) biopics you should watch

Cross posted to Yellow Bunting

The Notorious Bettie Page

Directed by the Mary Harron who also directed American Psycho, The Notorious Bettie Page uses the hearing at which Page was called to testify as a framing device. Switching between black and white and glorious Technicolor it follows the life of the Queen of Pin Up and Bondage from small town girl with a rough upbringing to the icon she is remembered as. The film mixes raunch with quieter moments of reflection showing Page as a multi faceted character with vulnerability and naivety rather than just a body to be gawped at.


An arty film with a mosaic like structure. Firstly we have a New York publisher on trial for publishing a collection of poems by Beat Generation icon Allen Ginsberg, then there is Ginsberg being interviewed and reflecting on his life and writing career and this supplemented by flash backs which is interspersed with gorgeous animation and James Franco as Ginsberg reading the eponymous poem. It is visually engaging with a dreamlike feel to it and doesn’t alienate those (like myself) who were unfamiliar with Ginsberg’s work before.

All That Jazz

Not strictly a biopic but the life of the main character mirrors that of writer/director Bob Fosse to a tee. Fosse juggled editing a biopic about comedian Lenny Bruce with trying to stage the Broadway musical Chicago, hence the title. Similarly, Joe Gideon (played by Roy Schieder) uses a cocktail of drugs and sex to plough through his own fanatic attempts to stage a Broadway Musical and edit a Hollywood film. He isolates everyone around him as he flirts with death (literally. She keeps appearing in dream sequences) and experiences heart complications. It isn’t a musical itself though it does show the performers sings and dancing. However it does have one of the best final scenes of any film I have ever watched.


Again not strictly a biopic but screenwriter Charlie Kaufman makes himself a character in the film and gives himself a fictional twin brother. It follows him struggling to turn the book The Orchid Thief into a film and Kaufman penned the script while struggling to turn The Orchid Thief into a film… Add to that the fact that the real life author of the book is a character in the film (played by Meryl Streep) and some of the book is dramatized and you get a mind bending, oddball film that is worth watching for Nicholas Cage’s portrayal as the goofy Kaufman brothers alone.

Sunday, 9 June 2013

Anita Sarkeesian and the need for more female critics

Check out this awesome article from Maddy Myers at Hyper Mode. It talks primarily about Games journalism but I think most of her points are valid for any women critiquing in any field:

If you’re a critic or a journalist, your job is hard enough. You have to love it to do it at all. Don’t believe me? Try it sometime; see how the unforgiving hours and low pay treat you.
If you’re also a woman, you’ll endure more scrutiny and more harassment online just for that reason. If you’re a woman and you write about gender roles in relation to videogames, the harassment will get worse. If you’re also visually present online (in photographs or video), the harassment worsens yet further. Anita Sarkeesian can put a check mark next to every single one of these boxes, and no one should envy her for it. No amount of money could make up for the difficulty of her day-to-day life.
It is enough to put any woman off of going into the field which is the exact opposite of what needs to happen. Even if you don't  agree with the points that Sarkeesian makes in her videos (and you don't have to, as Myres points out Sarkeesian is not supposed to be "the perfect critic") she doesn't deserve the vitriol pointed her way just because of her gender.