13 July 2011

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and Her Tits Out.

I picked up Empire Magazine today for the first time in ages and was treated to a picture of the new poster for David Fincher's remake of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. For those who haven't seen it yet, it looks like this:

Yeah, that's right. Lisbeth Salander, super hacker, is topless. Why is she topless? Fuck knows. She doesn't actually spend much time topless in the books. I've written and rewritten why this poster pissed me off, and I can't actually explain it beyond "why the fuck is she topless?" Seriously. Forget the fact that Daniel Craig looks like he's been startled mid-kidnap, or the fact that the tagline sort of implies Lisbeth or Blomkvist are actually evil; why does this woman have her tits out?

Maybe more film posters could benefit from random, unexplained nudity, completely unconnected to the plot of the film. I mean, if it's in black and white then it's arty, and not exploitative, right? I've had a go at recreating the Fincher poster magic for Meryl Streep's upcoming Maggie Thatcher biopic, a perfect contender seeing as it probably has no tits in it at all, and Maggie is possibly a feminist icon so it's not going to look like thinly veiled porn. Here we go!

What do you think? It's pretty good, huh? Hollywood, I am available for an immediate start.

Here are some interesting blog posts/articles that I've read on the much-debated topic of whether The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is feminist or not. Personally I think they're a little too voyeuristic and exploitative in tone for me, but I'm willing to be convinced otherwise. Sadly, I think this poster implies that Fincher's take on the books isn't going to be all that feminist-friendly.

Warning, spoilers for books and films:
Tiger Beatdown: http://tigerbeatdown.com/2010/07/29/the-girl-with-the-lots-of-creepy-disturbing-torture-that-pissed-me-off-on-stieg-larsson/
Bitch Magazine: http://bitchmagazine.org/post/pushback-at-the-intersections-stieg-larsson-feminist-hero
Re/action Blog: http://reactionblog.livejournal.com/7930.html

17 June 2011

Kittens And Converse Signify A Weak Mind.

I usually post about films and pop culture and occasionally about the rad white water rafting I did on holiday, but I hardly ever post about my love of knitting and cake and rompers (or playsuits, or onesies for those of you confused by my terminology). Mostly because these things don't really inspire me to post all that much, and this is my blog so I will fill it with rants about shit 3D conversion and the overexposure of Eliza Dushku's rear in Dollhouse because that's what makes me reach for my keyboard. However, I do love those things. I like pink (you may have noticed that my blog is pink themed) and I like wearing Converse with skirts, and buying jewellery from Etsy.

Why am I telling you this? Because according to Julie Klausner this means I am failing the sisterhood.

Above - a kitten and a pair of Converse. Doesn't mean I want you to infantilise me.

In her blog post, Julie rails against women who are, according to her, increasingly acting like little girls. She thinks it's because we want men to think we're sweet and inoffensive, and that we're trying to live up to some weird needy babyish vision of the perfect woman.

Yep, I'd agree there's a definite trend for cutesy, girly stuff for women at the moment. Some of it I like and some of it I don't. I get upset when it's foisted on to children as the only choice for a little girl (see the recent Twitter campaign against Tesco's "zones" for boys and girls). For adults, however, it is a choice and should be respected as such.

Basically, fuck off telling me what I should and shouldn't like.

Fuck off with the "you only like this stuff because (insert reason) and women should like (insert item)". I like what I like. I don't live in a blinkered bubble where I think I make all my choices free from external pressure, and I appreciate that bloggers want to highlight what they consider to be a growing pressure on women to choose things that make them seem childish and inoffensive, but really, fuck off. You might think Etsy and Converse and rompers and knitting makes me a women playing at being a little girl. I think I find crafts soothing, even if I can't afford to buy in to the expensive luxury end of the knitting scene. You might think buying things from Etsy is childish, but I think I can't afford real, non-costume jewellery and so Etsy is a place to get something nice and not cheaply mass-produced from Topshit. You might think my Converse makes me a permanent tweenager, but I think they're comfier than high heels.

I would challenge the idea that most women who like this cutesy stuff don't also read things written before they were born (thanks, Julie, that's super patronising), or share a glass of wine with their friends. Perhaps I'm wrong, but so what? We're all different, and that's okay. This version of womanhood is just as fake and just as bullshit, and I hate that reading that blog post has made me feel the need to justify myself but saying that, hey, I also know how to rewire a plug and change a fuse, and I read Kafka for fun, and I drink wine with my friends.

I also think Julie's post confuses fluffy femininity with childishness (hence the clash of bunnies and baking with trainers and Xbox). To define these concepts by items of clothing and hobbies is ridiculous. None of these things are inherently childish or feminine, but how they are experienced can make them so, and different people will have different definitions of what isn't age-appropriate behaviour.

God, I even hate the term "age-appropriate" in this sense. It seems a little bit too much like "mutton dressed as lamb" and other woman-on-woman hate phrases.

Yes, it's frustrating when women put themselves in a position to be patronised and belittled and have their power leached away because they choose to be babied. It has nothing to do with how they choose to dress or spend their spare time. Hell, in my eyes one of the worst offenders in TV history was Carrie in Sex And The City, who used to love it when Big called her "kid" and patronised her, and she didn't dress like a little girl as far as I can remember. If you want to criticise this behaviour, then believe me I understand the urge, but perhaps don't be so short-sighted as to blame it on a woman's choice of outfit?

There's a  far more interesting look at the childish/feminine trend over here at the Ch!cktionary, which manages not to bash women who DO like things considered to be very feminine, whilst considering why women make these choices.

I should also add that despite the fact that I disagreed with Julie Klausner's post so much that I wrote my very own rant, I do want to read her book. Hey, just because I disagreed with her on this one thing!

05 June 2011

Is that the sound of a perfectly timed guitar riff I hear?

Is there anything so fist-pumpingly, smile-inducingly perfect as the marriage of an action packed trailer with a classic rock song? Iron Man became ten times more exciting when I saw the first trailer, which was set to the rocking guitar riffs of Black Sabbath's, uh, Iron Man (a song choice that probably surprised no one), and now Cowboys & Aliens is at it, using the main riff from Audioslave's Gasoline to turn a high-concept sci-fi action film that I was sort of maybe going to check out to something I absolutely have to see. Heavy guitars and crashing drums in my ears, explosions in my eyes. Sold.

See for yourself:

12 March 2010

3D. Sometimes it's a bit shit.

If the third dimension becomes ubiquitous, then I'm going to have to stop going to the cinema altogether.

Let's be honest here- to many films, 3D adds little more than a headache, mild seasickness, and hordes of people in the cinema complaining that their specs make them look like Buddy Holly/Woody Allen/a twat. It's often just another shiny distraction hiding the entire lack of plot, the terrible acting, or the shoddy direction. In this sense, it's right up there with that well known cinematic tool often employed in teen horror films: girls getting naked.

Above- Alice. Thankfully not naked.

It's a trick. And as such, it can entertain. I enjoyed watching things fly at me during A Nightmare Before Christmas 3D and otherwise awful horror My Bloody Valentine. In Tim Burton's Alice In Wonderland, however, the occasional 3D rocking horse fly blurring it's way across the screen felt like an annoying misuse of the technology. Here you want to focus on the beautiful CGI scenery and the quirky ticks of the actors but you're finding it hard to see them past the fuzzy blobs lurching out of the screen towards you.

In fact, the majority of the film is 3D-light, the technology barely registering when you lift your glasses. Then every now and then it's as though the director suddenly remembers he's supposed to be using this new stuff, and so he lobs a hedgehog croquet ball at your face. It's horrible. It's distracting. It's tacky. If this is the future of cinema, I don't want it.

That's not to say that done with subtlety, 3D technology can't add something to a film. Avatar, for all that it was arse-numbingly long and mostly like watching someone else play a computer game (which, in essence, you were), had moments that were truly immersive thanks to the depth of the images on the screen. Coraline, too, had a surreal acid-trip feel to it thanks to the use of 3D alongside the animation.

I suppose the difference is that in the hands of a director actively committed to using this new tool, 3D isn't horrible. Tim Burton comes off like a guy who was told "use this so we can sell more tickets" and went with it, begrudgingly. He doesn't seem happy.

What about the film? Well, you can see it in 2D and it will be beautiful, surreal, disturbing and familiar all at once. Mia Wasikowska is a perhaps slightly flat, but dazed and dreamy Alice. Johnny Depp is Johnny Depp, just in a different outfit. Helena Bonham-Carter is doing and out-and-out impression of Blackadder's Queenie. It's a Tim Burton film- you already know what you're getting.

That said, there are some genuinely funny moments in this which set it apart from the likes of (the slightly disappointing) Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. The story takes familiar elements of the books but gives them more of a root in teenage Alice's real life, and the choice she is being forced to make between doing what is expected of her, or what she wants. It makes the story feel more substantial, and ultimately this is what made me like it.

Oh, that and the amazing costumes. I would like to own everything Alice wore in Wonderland, please.

04 March 2010


I've just got back from seeing Jean-Pierre Jeunet's Micmacs and I wanted to post whilst it was fresh in my mind. It's bloody freezing in my flat though, so this may be short as my fingers are seizing up as I type!

I really enjoyed Micmacs. The film has suffered slightly at the hands of critics by not being Amelie, which seems more than a little unfair. No, it's not bittersweet and there's no adorable girl discovering life and love and making you feel all teary. It's the story of a bitter man getting even with the people who ruined his life and cost him his home, twice. For all that the premise sounds like a bit of a downer, it's actually a lovely, lighthearted caper film with all the beautiful cinematography and quirky asides that you would expect from a Jeunet film, interspersed with some real belly laughs and Ocean's 11 style cons, although with less smug Hollywood faces and more homelessness (yes, I wish I'd made a better film reference there too, but what can I say, I liked Ocean's 11).

Dany Boon has run afoul of British critics who say his humour doesn't translate when they're being generous and labelling him "bland" (in The Guardian review) when they're not. Actually I found him charming as the likeable Bazil whose misfortunes at the hands of two rival arms dealers guide the plot. Admittedly, he's not as hilarious as some of the supporting cast (especially Jeunet fave Dominique Pinon) but in a film like this with an ensemble cast I think that actually works in the film's favour.

The expected asides (here mostly fuelled by the bullet in Bazil's head which threatens to kill him under stress, so he asks himself curious questions as a distraction) don't feel like Jeunet imitating his own work, which can be the case when a director establishes such an obvious signature. One thing to watch out for in Micmacs are the billboards that you see advertising the film itself, with images that match the scene they appear in. Subtle, but a brilliant piece of meta fiction, if you like that sort of thing.

The plot is light enough, although the topical, arms dealer angle adds some weight, and the themes of finding a family and a place in the world, and how the little guy who protests against big corporations can pack a powerful punch (aided by social networking on the internet, of course) gave me the warm fuzzies, I must admit. As a literary nerd, I loved the references to Rimbaud, too. All in all, I'd recommend it as a popcorn comedy with added directorial panache.

13 February 2010

Colin Firth in designer glasses, Sean Bean in a skirt.

I just got back from seeing Percy Jackson, and A Single Man, and despite the fact that tomorrow promises a hellish tube journey (via Tottenham Court Road, with large bulky luggage, on a Saturday. Kill me now.) I just have to post about them both.

I started with A Single Man, which I keep wanting to call both A Serious Man after the Coen's latest film which I never got to see, and A Simple Man, my favourite Lynyrd Skynyrd track. Anyway, I was surprised by how unsurprised I was. Tom Ford's debut is exactly what you'd expect. One third of the film is like watching a perfume advert. A man floating naked underwater. A slow motion owl. Whimpering music. Another third is film student experimenting with his new-found saturation control. Oooh, look how when he's engaged and enjoying life the colour fades back in! I get the symbolism. Stop beating me over the head with it already.

The final third of A Single Man is, however, quite brilliant. Colin Firth is compelling, heartbreaking and hilarious all at once and sometimes all at the same time. When he gets down to just telling the story, Tom Ford does it quite beautifully. If he could drop all the other bullshit (or at least trim it down a bit. I mean, I'm all for beautiful, artistic cinematography provided it doesn't make my arse go to sleep) it would have been perfect. The fact that it is unfalteringly stylish goes without saying, of course.

Now, Percy Jackson and the Lightening Thief has been touted as the new Harry Potter, as has every film starring a teenage boy for the last ten years or so. It isn't. For starters, the writing is dire. The lines are clunky, none of the actors seem particularly sure if this is a drama, a comedy, an action or an outright farce and it doesn't come together particularly well. The support from the likes of Uma Thurman and Pierce Brosnan are cringe-makingly camp, and that's before we get to the glam rock Hades played by Steve Coogan. Yes, Steve Coogan. See now why no one knew whether they should be taking this thing seriously when they were making it?

It's a bit of a shame, as the central premise has some legs. The kids are all half gods, and they end up spending a fair amount of time doing the legwork for their parents whose hands are politically tied. Or sort of. We see the kids of Athena, Poseidon, Hermes, Aphrodite, Ares... I'm curious to see the kids of Dionysus. I bet they're a real riot. The three kid leads (probably all in their twenties, but that's Hollywood) are pretty solid, and do their best with a somewhat confusing, and occasionally strangely paced film that fails to build any real tension whilst spending rather a lot of time on throwaway gags. Some weird product placement (BUY AN IPOD NOW!) and an ending that goes a bit Honey I Shrunk the Kids rounds off this lengthy but not wholly unenjoyable affair.

The trailers were amazing though. That dragon thing looks great. I like cute dragons. Plus something with The Rock as a tooth fairy in ice hockey gear? So dreadful it might be brilliant. Or just dreadful.

11 February 2010

CSI: it's all about the ladies. And the serial killers.

I was going to make a "Who" joke but they've all been done before- SPOILERS FOR CSI SEASON 1O EPS WHICH HAVE AIRED ON FIVE IN THE UK

New year, new season of CSI on Five. I wish I could say I was anticipating the start of season ten with excitement, but somehow it's just worn off a little over the years. It's so hard to keep a show like this fresh and exciting and within the realms of reality after all the many, many cases the Vegas grave shift have tackled over the years. To its credit, the minds behind CSI have realised this, and continue to include tantalising character development threads behind the gory case-of-the-week action to keep the audience hanging in there.

Season ten opens by moving Laurence Fishburne's Professor Langston from bumbling newbie to fully trained-up and newly-promoted CSI level 2. Hurrah! There was only so much of Ray getting his tie in the corpse I was willing to put up with. This also allows the show to instead explore Ray's character, starting with his relationship with his violent father and his concern that he may have inherited the same traits. In this respect, Ray has become a perfect alternative to Grissom, lending a quiet depth and tension to every scene. Oh, and did you see him kick that guy through the glass wall in the season opener? Yeah, that was cool.

Catherine is struggling to fill Grissom's shoes as head of the grave shift, whilst Nick gets to step up as the second longest standing member of the team. Fortunately for the bland twins, they're supported by the ever watchable Greg, the deliciously snarky Hodges and my new favourite CSI lady, Wendy, who will hopefully soon graduate from narrative tool to real cast member.

My favourite thing about season ten so far though has to be that Sara is back. I love Sara. I missed Sara. I know everyone loves Grissom, but Sara was the best female character on a police procedural. I could relate to her. She was strong and opinionated, and throughout her time as cast regular she struggled with a crush on her boss, an inability to relate to her coworkers, a lonely lifestyle, alcoholism, and being pinned under a car in the desert with a broken arm.

Mostly I loved Sara's interaction with Catherine. As the two women on the team, they had a relationship that seemed so much more real that the Grissom-as-father-figure theme that was the main thrust of the male characters' interaction. Sara and Catherine initially held each other at a suspicious arm's length, butting heads frequently over their styles of working. Later on, as they worked together, they developed a respect for each other as professionals that became a trust and a friendship. In the two-part season 7 opener, when Catherine awakes in a motel room suspecting she has been the victim of a date rape, she calls Sara in to help her investigate, and avoids telling her male coworkers. Right or wrong, this is a reaction and a relationship that I can believe in.

CSI might not be the most liberal thing on television (there's a fair amount of stereotypical evil women murderers and swaggering black drug dealers propping up the plots) but it drip-feeds character development in a way that keeps me watching. Not to mention that the trend towards serial killer arcs in recent seasons (the Miniature Killer was brilliant) helps to keep me tuned in. This year's Dr Jekyll, tying up a corpse's intestine in a bow, in wonderfully macabre! I can't wait to find out more.