glvalentine: (nerd alert)
Or, if you're me, any day!

Up at Fantasy Magazine this week, I posted Ten Cheesetastic Fantasy Flicks for Summer. For once, there's no competition for which one is best, because they're all the best!

Except maybe Xanadu is the best.

(Look at those hostage eyes. Yipes.)

The thing is, some of the movies on that list are cheesy but legitimately good. The Mummy, for example, is pretty unapologetic summer-blockbuster pulp, but I've seen it quite a few times and it always holds up, because Pulpy and Bad are not synonymous, even though a lot of things that aim for Pulpy end up at Bad. (That's another essay. I'm just noting it here.) Lost Boys is awesome, Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure is amazing. I'll even make a case for Earth Girls are Easy being a pretty solid flick! (Somewhere, Joseph Campbell is cringing.)

But there are some movies (...XANADU) that defy explanation.

Explaining it more doesn't help. )

(I've seen this movie like, six times. It never gets any less confusing.)

It was hard to choose a representative clip. The scene where the sisters wake up from the mural they're painted on (really happens) is pretty good. It gives the right tone for the film, both because the song makes you want to slap your ears off, and because it looks like the people actually in the scene were just as confused as anyone else, and the choreography was called out in a series of impromptu orders. ("Look at your hands! You have some hands! Have more hands! HAVE MORE HANDS.")

But I think this clip has to win.

Notes: this clip has been severely chopped, so you are missing out on the Gene Kelly-led rollerskating step routine and the part where Kira and her sisters sing this in half a dozen different styles, including Country Western, in which Michael Beck (SWAN, WHY) has to shake his shoulders like he's trying to wrench an arm out of the socket so he can be excused to the medic and just keep running and never look back.

Also, many of those sisters aren't the same sisters from the beginning of the movie. I'm just saying, that's the kind of show you're in for.

An awesome one.
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A few days ago I mentioned the cheeseball glory that is Dhoom 2.

Today, we do a Bollywood 180 for Jodhaa Akbar, a sweeping historical drama based on the life of Akbar the Great.

Hrithik Roshan and Aishwarya Rai star in both. I'm glad I saw Hrithik in this before I saw Dhoom 2, and that is all I will say about that. (Aishwarya…does her best.)

Nutshell: In 16th-Century India, Jalaluddin is the young emperor of Hindustan, handsoming his way across the country, trying to be wise and just and whatever. Jodhaa is a stunning Rajput princess who's married to Jalaluddin as a gesture of solidarity between Hindus and Muslims. Will these two incredibly genetically blessed people ever fall in love? Will Jalaluddin ever reconcile the two religions at war under his reign? Will this movie's eight bajillion subplots ever get resolved? We'll find out…in real time. (This movie is awesome, but it is also about eight years long.)

Let's hit it. )
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So, this weekend I saw Splice. I will be talking about it tomorrow, but it's just not the sort of blog entry I want to face on a Monday. Especially since I also saw Dhoom 2 this weekend.

Dhoom 2 stars Hrithik Roshan and Aishwarya Rai, who had been paired to great effect in Jodhaa Akbar (despite Aishwarya's lack of actual acting ability). I thought, "Well, they did well in the other one. Let's check out Dhoom 2!"

Do you guys remember the first Mission: Impossible movie, when everyone had latex masks on all the time and they spent four hours just double-crossing each other and jumping around pulling off latex masks to reveal other latex masks and shooting bullets in an arc and running around and pulling off other people's latex masks, and you spent the whole movie thinking, "What is wrong with these awful people in this movie I don't understand?"

The maker of Dhoom 2 looked at that movie and said, "This is missing two things: dance numbers, and a man dressed up to look like the Queen. I can fix this."

And so, Dhoom 2 was born. )

Best part: I was thinking about writing this up, and I thought, "Well, it won't be the same without a compilation of Hrithik Roshan walking in slow-motion towards the camera with his shirt unbuttoned and his scarf fluttering in the wind, but where the hell am I going to find that?"

Turns out someone made it, and put it to a love song. Thank you, internet. Thank you for everything.

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This is what happens when you hit your biannual Bollywood kick right before you get on a plane: this song, in a loop on your head, for two hours.

Here's the thing: it's a really upbeat, catchy song, performed by Madhuri Dixit (who, for my money, is one of the best in Bollywood). If you do not read the lyrics, it sounds like the best time ever.

But if you read the lyrics, it is the happiest song about questionabe-consent field-going EVER.

This alternate translation is even less encouraging of flirty/fun-time readings, since the words "by force" appear often.

I saw somewhere that this is a folk song? She said, not knowing a damn thing. (Then again, that might have been YouTube comments, which are hardly citable.)

Of course, if it was, everyone's folktales/songs have undertones of Ye Ole Questionable Materiale, so it's hardly fair to single out any particular song from anywhere (and using only one of many possible translations) for having strange subject matter (I mean, Grimm's Fairy Tales, anyone?). I'm just saying that I first came across this clip without the translation, and enjoyed having it stuck in my head, and then I found the translation, and now I don't know what to think. It's too catchy to be wrong! Right?

P.S. It has now been stuck in my head four days and counting. I don't even know.

P.P.S. The movie this is from is Anjaam, the first pairing of Madhuri and Shahrukh Khan, who would go on to partner her in several movies, my favorite of which is Devdas. (I have a total soft spot for sweeping historical epics, as you'll see.) The plot of this movie, summed up as succintly as possible on Wikipedia. (You should click it; it's a work of art.)

I have seen this whole movie, and can confirm it is exactly as cracktacular as it sounds. Immediate addition to the list of my favorite potboilers.
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Wow, that was kind of a long hiatus! (I made the last one in 1996, it looks like.) I know this has become something of a habit, like that time I tried to make a picspam of my French vacation and only got two-thirds of the way through, so if you are a literalist it looks like I never actually came home but am instead blogging from an attic somewhere overlooking the amusement park in Rouen. (Note to that person: well-spotted, mon frère!)

But I have my act together now, and the time has come for another Catherine Cookson Experience!

Today's is different from most of the others, because I genuinely love this one. It is a pulpy mess, and I enjoy every second of its cheesy glory. You will be able to tell this soon, but I thought I might as well warn you up front: this one is awesome, and I have the eight thousand photos to prove it! This is The Rag Nymph.

Vital Stats:

Era: 1850s, looks like.
Heroine: Millie
Siblings that require looking-after: Well, initially Millie is the one who needs looking-after (when you were niiiiiiiine!).
Illegitimate (Self or sibling): It's like a Law and Order episode; it takes you almost until the end to find out, and by then you don't even care.
Asshole Father?: Oh, jeez. Every father in this thing is a total jerkbag.
Romantic interest(s): Mr. Bingley, Paul Atreides. Tough call!
Bairnsketballs: Nope.
Fistfights: Somebody knifes a pimp. It counts!
Assaults: Oh jeeeeeeeez.

Under here, more When You Were Nine goodness. )
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There's something ceaselessly awesome about silent films. They're a living time capsule of social mores, markers of technological leaps, proof of humankind's deep affinity for storytelling, employer of piano-players everywhere.

The great ones are fantastically evocative and moving. The bad ones are hysterical.

Conveniently, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is both!

Also apparently a little judgey! )
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Over at Fantasy Magazine today, I cast my granny-eye across the room and tackle some of Fantasy's Weirdest Relationships. Jareth the Goblin King gets first pick, but he's far from the only creeper on this list.

Obviously this is not an exhaustive list; if I tried to make an exhaustive list of all the questionable relationships in fantasy movies, I'd be here twenty years from now. This is the Whitman's sampler of uncomfortable dynamics, with one exception: The Sea Prince and the Fire Child. That movie is one of the best examples of weird relationships ever. It is just an endless cocktail party of interactions that are Not Quite Right.

This is one of those things, like The Red Shoes or The Linguini Incident, that I spent my childhood thinking no one else had ever seen. (To be fair, that might be because whenever I said, "Have you seen [movie]?" the other person would pull a face and say, "What? No." in that tone you reserve for people who ask you if you've ever eaten a roach.)

If you've seen this movie, you know what I mean when I say that this movie messes with you. For those of you who are new to it, be prepared to make one or all of these faces:

Let's do this thing. )
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A few days ago I got an email from Kate, one of the [ profile] con_or_bust organizers, asking me if I would be willing to suffer through a bad movie for a good cause.

Who was she kidding? I suffer through bad movies for no cause whatsoever; anything else is an upgrade!

So, if there's a terrible movie you've been just dying to make me sit through, you can bid here, and if you win, I will write at least one thousand words about whatever crime against cinema you choose. (Well, almost any. I'm not sitting through torture-porn. Life is too short. Not too short that I can't fit in every Catherine Cookson movie ever made, but too short for torture porn; that is about how short life is.)

I'll honor the top three bids at the time of closing (which I think is March 13? Let's pretend it's March 13), so if you're in the mix by then, your chances are pretty good!

I know there's some movie that's haunted your dreams since you saw it, and you lie awake at night thinking, "Someday I am going to make someone else see that crapfest, too." Well, that day has come. Bid here to share the misery!
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Today, two great tastes that taste great together: Olympic Pairs skating, and the greatest sports movie ever made, The Cutting Edge.

Here's the thing about The Cutting Edge: it's a seriously early-90s movie, as evidenced by D. B. Sweeney and Moira Kelly. It is super-predictable. It also tries to tackle What Ambitious Women Are Up Against, and ends up saying, "Ambitious women are up against an awful lot! Poor thing; let's give her a boyfriend to help her with that."

On the other hand, it is a movie that tells you pretty much everything you need to know about pairs skating, so at least it's useful! It will be especially useful when applied to the Pairs event that just wrapped at the Vancouver Olympics.

It's a bounce spin into a throw twist? )
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Today at, I talk about SyFy's new reimagined-fairy-tale movies of the week. First up will be Beauty and the Beast (naturally), starring Estella Warren (naturally).

Do I think this will be awesome? Yes. But it has some serious work to do if it's ever going to compare to the most amazing version of this story ever broadcast, and I think you know which I mean.

This one. (Immortalized here on Greendale Elementary's picture day.)

Now, this show is not amazing for its overall storyline (which was three ounces of story in a two-gallon jug). Nor is it memorable for its individual episodes, which tended to be like the 90s remake of The Tomorrow People, in that almost every episode featured someone new learning about the underground society that has existed in secrecy for decades, except that judging by the discovery rate on the show, by now everyone in New York probably knows about it and just doesn't realize it's common knowledge because it doesn't come up in conversation. The Underground Renaissance Faire: New York's best-kept secret.

But neither one of those is the element that makes the show truly timeless. That would be the wardrobe.

You do not even know how many pictures are under here. )
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Today at I talk about some awfulsome Christian horror movies.

Two things about this article:

1) I am not joking about The Prophecy. Simon is a wounded angel hiding in the abandoned wing of a school, and when he realizes Gabriel is coming for him, he coaxes little Mary close enough that he can spit the soul he's carrying into her body so Gabriel doesn't find it.

This is not weird in terms of heavenly amorality, ends justifying the means, etc. It's unsettling, but the whole idea is that the heavenly agenda can't be understood by mortal men, so that's all fine. But what this means in real life is that Eric Stoltz looked at the script and went, "Okay, I fight an angel, sure, I talk to the agnostic, okay, I make out with a twelve-year-old, sure, and then Gabriel kills me. I don't see any problems here! Sign me up!"

And seriously, Eric Stoltz is creepy enough without watching him French kiss a child, okay? You can't un-ring that bell.

2) I kid about Stigmata, but no joke, I think that movie is awesome, and here's why.

Lift a stone, and you will find me. )
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Up at Fantasy Magazine, I talk about the implications of Avatar winning the Golden Globe. (Spoiler alert: the people who vote for these awards seem really susceptible to marketing.)

However, for purposes of the article, I operated under the assumption that these special effects will change the game in the way Cameron bragged they would, and thus might be employed to better effect in stories that don't totally blow, and suggested two. One of them is a remake request that will come as no surprise to anyone who reads Questionable Taste Theatre, but I'm dead serious when I say: SOMEONE WHO IS NOT JAMES CAMERON IS WELCOME TO MAKE THAT. (That someone also should not be Michael Bay. Or M. Night. Or most people. Ugh, just give it to Peter Jackson.)

Anecdote! Cameron kept inviting other important directors to play with the equipment (hey-oooo) while he was in pre-production, ostensibly to share this important information but clearly to brag about how awesome he was and try to distract people from his screenplay. Those invited included Peter Jackson, which has to take some balls, considering that out of all the criticism of the Lord of the Rings movies, "shitty special effects" was really not one. Plus, Jackson knows how to do a subtle effect well, JAMES. (Bilbo lunging for the ring in Rivendell: never not creepy.)
glvalentine: (omg no)
At today, I talk about major changes for Spider-Man 4, none of which sound good.

On the other hand, if you had told me after Batman and Robin that someone was making another Batman movie, I would have asked to slap that person in the face for merely thinking such a thing. And then we got two pretty awesome Batman movies. The moral here: it's a good thing I am rarely within slapping distance of people. The other moral: sometimes grinding a franchise into the ground means you are free to start over with something better.

In case anyone was smart enough to avoid Batman and Robin, and are foolish enough to do so now, consider this a primer/warning; a brief photo essay of the sorts of faces you will make while watching this film, presented without commentary.

There's just something about an anatomically correct rubber suit that puts fire in a girl's lips. )
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So, The Young Victoria comes out today! I had the honor of seeing it early on a plane coming back from France. (I also had the honor of seeing it three times, because we sat for two hours on the tarmac and a bunch of other weird things happened. Maybe you guys want to have more than one watchable movie per flight, Air France? Cool.)

Anyway, after seeing it three times in a row, and realizing I always felt like I had dozed off for parts in the middle even though I hadn't, I had some problems. Then I realized if I watched it three times in a row and enjoyed it, then I had some OTHER problems, but we'll get to those some other time.

The point is, review and picspam below! Be warned, there's vague spoilery talk, though nothing that happens in the movie should come as a surprise, since it happened a hundred years ago and we've all had plenty of time to catch up.

In which there are more puffed sleeves than you can handle. )
glvalentine: (omg no)
So! After I vaguely went to bat for Alice Part One, Alice Part Two aired last night, and now I feel like when a friend is visiting a city and you sort of vouch for an old college friend who lives there now as a friend introduction and they end up in a screaming food fight in a diner; totally embarrassed and sad I didn't see it coming.

On the other hand, I called the ending in an email twelve hours before it aired, practically down to the dialogue, so clearly I saw SOMETHING coming.

Too bad it was this thing. has the brunt of my despair, but I'm not done.

Spoilerland. )

Alice, Pt 1

Dec. 7th, 2009 05:01 pm
glvalentine: (omg no)
SyFy aired Alice last night, and after Tin Man, you had better believe I was ready for the worst.

The worst never came! Instead, Passable came, and Passable was so much better than what I had prepared for that by the end I was like, "That was GREAT!" (It is not. It is Passable.) I reviewed it over at

Here, I want to break some things down, to make sure there is no confusion. The plot here is not good. The plot is stupid. The plot involves stealing people and sucking their emotions out, and weird tattoos and a big conspiracy and a magic ring and it's just a mess. But, just like with Beyond Sherwood Forest, it's like the producers sat down and were like, "Here are some likable characters. They'll just run around in the woods while all the rest of it is going on. Also, we'll reference Alice in Wonderland a lot. It should be fine!"

And so they did! (Except that dead guy. The dead guy is not likable. That dude was a jerk.)

I'm glad that skeleton is dead, and other things that might be spoilers! )
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Briefly, for newcomers: Catherine Cookson wrote some hysterically funny romance-y novels back in the day. For some reason, from about 1994 through 1998, the BBC went CRAZY for them and adapted about a hundred and eighty of them into miniseries. From time to time, I like to recap them, because they're hilarious. You can find a primer here, or catch up with them here.

This week, I run you through The Gambling Man, starring Robson Green.

Here's the thing, for those of you not familiar with British TV: of COURSE this is starring Robson Green. EVERYTHING stars Robson Green. British TV is purposely scheduled so that something with Robson Green in it is airing 24/7, in case aliens are monitoring broadcasts for someone who looks very serious and capable with whom they can make first contact. He got his own show about extreme fishing. If you investigate the history of England, there are cave paintings of Robson Green. Next year they're putting him on the five-pound note. There's no rhyme or reason to it; there's only love and casting.

In case you think I'm joking, he's playing a nineteen-year-old in this movie. Does that make any logical sense? No, it doesn't. But it aired on British TV, so they were contractually obligated to cast Robson Green and by God, they did.

Vital Stats:

Era: I dunno; late 1870s/early 1880s?
Heroine: Robson Green.
Siblings that require looking-after: His brother, who is much nicer than Robson.
Illegitimate (Self or sibling): Nope.
Asshole Father?: Yup.
Romantic interest(s): Janey, his wife; Charlotte, his wife. Ruh-roh!
Bairnsketballs: Yup! Legitimate, shockingly.
Fistfights: Oh, for fucks' sake, every two minutes there's a fight.
Assaults: One iffy moment, but mostly fine.

Robson Green in ROBSON: The Robson Green Story. )
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Apparently my favorite Fred Astaire/Ginger Rogers number, from Carefree, has gotten the chop, so I can't repost it here and talk about why Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers remain one of my favorite screen pairs of all time. (Hint: because they are awesome.)

Also, good news: the movie was slightly better than I remembered, because at least Fred wasn't the guy who clocked Ginger. (The rest of the movie makes no sense. Never has, never will. There is a whole song about yams! There's nowhere you can go from there!)

Instead, I will show you this awesome miniature clip-show of them set to Cake's "Love You Madly," which gives the casual passerby a sense of what they could do together (hint: ANYTHING THEY WANTED, THEY WERE AWESOME).

ETA: This is on my mind because the Turner Classic Movies channel is having a Fred and Ginger marathon today, for anyone in the US who feels like tuning in and enjoying!
glvalentine: (omg no)
So, remember that little Disney window I talked about with The Rocketeer, where they skewed for live-action and slightly more adult? This was part of that movement. This was just the part that was a terrible idea.

Let me tell you, this movie firmly deserves to end up on the WNT side of Questionable Taste Theatre. This would be true on its own merits; the fact that, during my middle and high school years, the teachers of three schools in three different states ALL had this as their default sick-day movie, cements the deal. THREE STATES, you guys. I have seen this movie approximately eight hundred times. It pretty much turned me off live musicals forever, and it wasn't even one. Nice job, movie.

The worst part, though, is that I've been Brave New Worlded into knowing most of the lyrics. If some stranger shouts, "Try Bottle Alley or the Harbor!" I would shout back without thinking, "Try Central Park, it's guaranteed!" I can never un-know what I know, don't you understand?

It's a fine life, carrying the bannah! )
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There was an era (and by "an era" I think I mean "a period of three years") when Disney set aside the cavalcade of animated princesses and made a couple of unusual movies. They were unusual because of their settings, unusual because of their gentle skew to the adult, and unusual because they were good. Perhaps the best, certainly the most adult of these movies, is The Rocketeer.

And by "adult" I mean, "Turn the Lech-o-meter down a notch, Tim Dalton, damn."

The Rocka-who? )


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Genevieve Valentine

September 2010

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