sartorias: (white rose)
Thanks to [personal profile] rachelmanija, yesterday I got to see Bahubali 2 on the big screen.

Oh, my. If you love myth, bigger than life characters, resonance through history, great action, and jaw dropping beauty (with amazing details), you have to see this one on the big screen.

Because of the structure, I think one could actually begin here, as most of it is flashback, but for the full effect and many emotional payoffs, get Bahubali I (which ends on a staggering cliff hanger, so we waited two years to find out what happened and why!) and watch it first. On the biggest screen you can.

This is a film by the south Indian film community, far less known than the bigger northern community. With this film, I hope that that will no longer be true, and we might be able to see more of their offerings. I want to find this director's other work.

I want to see it again, and I rarely feel that way after movies. It was longer than two hours but it passed so fast!

Two Things

May. 30th, 2016 06:29 am
sartorias: (Default)
A chewy interview with Ada Palmer over at [livejournal.com profile] mrissa's LiveJournal. Makes me want to sneak in and listen when Ada is talking about narrative process.

Second thing, I met with my Jane Austen group yesterday afternoon, to go see "Love and Friendship" which was showing two miles from here. What a delightful film! They really did a good job with a somewhat problematical book; Austen wrote three epistolary novels when she was young, and turned two of them into Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility but she never published Lady Susan--which both shows flashes of her genius, and is problematical.

But this writer captured the spirit of the book, and this is the time when such a book/film could be enjoyed, as it breaks the rule of nineteenth century novels that Bad Women Must Always Die. All of us in that theater--mostly old people, but not all--where whooping and cracking up. It's been so long since I've seen real wit in a film!

Various

May. 6th, 2016 09:23 am
sartorias: (1554 S)
In other things, who has seen the south Indian film Baahubali? It's terrific, full of rich image, mythic resonance, and awesome women. Rachel and I watched it together, and she remarked that in an American film, if you see a middle aged woman who has been chained in public for 25 years she is helpless, and object of pity. But in an Indian film, there's a good chance she fiercely refuses rescue until she gets what she wants . . . revenge!
sartorias: (desk)
So we went out to see it last night. Twenty seconds in, I knew it was again a Guy Fantasy, what with all those souped-up car/tanks with the gigantic tires and the sound like heavy V-8s with the mufflers off. My son locked into it and didn't come out until the credits.

Spouse, who escaped the Car Gene, said as we walked out, "Kind of superficial world building, wasn't it?"

"What world building?" I said. "It's the lightest possible framework for an extended car chase with fighting, and if you accept that going in, it's pure genius." Because really, that's what it was, with awesome women added to rivet me. Not that I mind an action movie with a lot of pretty men to look at. No siree, you will not get any complaints from me, except afterward when I sigh, and wish that we could have the same sort of fun with female characters.

Well, Furiosa took care of that quite nicely. I loved those out-of-the-corner-of-her-eyes glances she'd give right before gunning for the road or for bad guys. Never mind that they have an endless supply of gasoline for those engines, or that there's no reason for those thousands to stand around waiting for a bit of water to splash down when green valley was plainly visible between the rocks behind the barren canyon that formed the Citadel. Or that the biology made little more sense than the economics. The design was fantastic, the scenery jaw-droppingly wonderful, the music driving, the women terrific [though oh, the visionary A. deserved a better fate than . . . and I hope to read fix-it fic about that], and the actors did an astounding job with a screenplay that seems to have had about a hundred words of text for two hours of screen time.

In short, terrific movie. Though whoever it was who said it was shot and edited like the silents, I was puzzled. All those sweeping overhead shots, and the quick sharp ones (really, too quick at the end, I lost some of the crucial action) are not in my mind at least hearkening back to the one-camera-pointing-at-a-stage silent days. The directing and camera work reminded me of William A. Wellman.
sartorias: (desk)
On Valentine's Day, I hoped those who like it too would talk to me about glamour.

Moldova

Feb. 11th, 2015 02:55 pm
sartorias: (desk)
This looks really promising. Gorgeous music by Pizzetti in the first half, bonus.
sartorias: (desk)
Interesting female writers--what does my favorite kidzbook when I was nine and a famous film about an alcoholic who sees a six foot rabbit have in common?
sartorias: (Fan)
Black Lightning trailer here), a Russian sf adventure film about a flying car.

The Hussar Ballad, made in 1963. Full of adventure, romance, passion, elegance and war, with a cross-dressing heroine faking it as a Hussar, it's terrific entertainment--even if I can't understand a word. At least it's there on YouTube, which leads me to hope that someone might come along and redo it with subtitles. Hey, it happened with the superlative Russian historical drama 17 Moments of Spring.

I'm pretty sure it has to be based on The Cavalry Maiden, by Nadezhda Durova, one of the first published autobiographies in Russian. I wonder if Tolstoi used it as part of his research for the intensely detailed and resonately realistic battle of Borodino sequence in War and Peace. The film greatly romanticizes Durova's experiences, which she recounts with trenchant reality, even if she finesses stuff like her age and her lovers.

Watching this delightful film, it's weird to think of the height of the Cold War in the background. Makes me wonder if someone a hundred years hence is going to look at history during my own lifetime and think it the surreal dream of a dyspeptic entrepreneur. Give me my romance, please.
sartorias: (Fan)
Certain films have so much magic they get remade, though the remakes can feel very different. You've Got Mail was the latest iteration of Lubitsch's The Shop Around the Corner a charming and brilliantly written film from 1940 that I watched recently, and discovered some entertaining elements.
sartorias: (Fan)
Ein Stern fällt vom Himmel (A Star Falls from Heaven), featuring the magnificent tenor voice of Joseph Schmidt, was made in 1934. Even though the quality of the restored film was jerky in places, and the sound typical of the time, The Bel Canto Society did their best.

Schmidt was Jewish, and was caught in the invasion of France; he got sick, got minimal treatment, and died a day before he was issued a work visa to leave Europe. He was only 38.

He was a very famous radio star, and in spite of his short stature, managed to play a romantic lead in a couple of films, this being one, before Europe erupted into war.

As it happened, the next one on my Netflix was Tea With Mussolini, made in 1999. A group of Englishwomen living in Italy in the 1930s take in an orphan and do everything they can to protect the child and preserve their way of life, believing that Benito Mussolini will protect them as the fascists rise, then the Germans come.

When you consider that the cast included Judi Dench, Joan Plowright,Maggie Smith, and Lily Tomlin, you figure it has to be pretty good, and it was. It was shot in Italy, so beautiful it could make you weep, and Cher proved to be as terrific as the above named. The Italian actors were excellent--the costumes and sets perfect--but I couldn't help comparing tiny details to the German film that revealed how modern everyone really is.

The second interesting thing about that film is that the little boy in it is based on the life of Franco Zeffirelli, who directed this film.
sartorias: (Fan)
Via [livejournal.com profile] jazzfish, Gertrude Stein gets a rejection letter.

Speaking of whom, I loved the version of Gertrude Stein in Woody Allen's Midnight in Paris. I don't usually much care for Allen, and Owen Wilson can be a little much, but I loved the Paris of the twenties in this paean.
sartorias: (Fan)
I was watching The Thin Man last night, with William Powell and Myrna Loy. The opening of the film simply shows the cover to the book, which was tremendously popular at the time, though Hammett has not worn well. (The Maltese Falcon is another I think is far better on film.) The sprightly dialogue and above all the acting is so superior to Hammett's gimmicky prose and (at least to me) two-dimensional characterizations . . . two dimensions? The women don't even get that much depth.

I was thinking later about films that are better than the books. Of course so much of that is personal bias, and which one you encountered first. I have always known that, but it hit me afresh when I over heard some young people talking about how much better the Lord of the Rings films were than the book, which was slow, boring, no women. I utterly disagree, but that was how they felt.

I've also heard the same about Breakfast at Tiffany's. Nobody I've ever talked about this with has trashed Capote's prose, I think it comes down to image, and also, whether you like the bittersweet ending the filmmakers tacked on, or prefer Capote's Dark and Bitter without a bit of sweet. Another I've heard both ways is Rebecca, some preferring du Maurier's spike take on the Gothic with her unnamed heroine, the dweeby men (du Maurier really seems to have disliked men) up against a couple of powerfully evil women, and the moody film.

Re bad prose, I've often heard film friends say that Billy Wilder took Cain's blah writing and injected it with brilliance when he made Double Indemnity. I feel that way about Last of the Mohicans, book and film. (though the film is a bit too gory for my taste.) Another I've heard that about is Journey to the Center of the Earth, and also the Anthony Andrews Scarlet Pimpernel--Baroness Orczy's prose being dreadful, but her sense of story pretty good.

Then there are the ones where the book is turned into something completely different, but better, like the plodding, overly earnest Red Alert in Kubrick's hands becoming Dr. Strangelove.

There are some anime films that seem better than the manga they are based on, as well. Like X1999.

For a total change of pace, but I don't want to forget it, [livejournal.com profile] azdak found this tremendous YouTube offering: Stalingrad '42-'43, Volgograd 2013. This was arguably the most decisive battle on the Eastern front during WW II, lasting from August to February, with bitter close contact fighting, in which roughly two million people were killed. Two. Million. It ranks up there with one of the nastiest battles ever. When I was in school during the Iron Curtain days, it barely got a mention, while we heard about D-Day, the bombing of London, and maybe the Battle of the Bulge.

The sinister music is by Hans Zimmer; it fits, though I can't help wishing the maker had found something suitable from Russian composers, many of whom were no slouches at both sweep and sinister.
sartorias: (Default)
I have always enjoyed spies, gadgets, action, handsome guys in tuxes, and I'd heard good things about Skyfall, the latest Bond film, on the train home, from some UK folks.

But Abigail Nussbaum's review (warning: spoilery) put the skids on my enthusiasm. Has anyone seen it? Re the women, really?

If so, I guess I'll rewatch Covert Affairs, which has all the spy fun, action, great gadgets and clothes, and interesting women. Even married women, who still managed the spy life. (With awareness of the costs.)

Potpourri

Apr. 12th, 2012 12:12 pm
sartorias: (Default)
Just did a podcast, a first for me. If I don't sound like too much of a gasbag and a whacktoon, will post link when it goes live.

Sirens is putting out the call for programming. This excellent, excellent con that focuses on women in fantasy draws its programming from its members. If you've ever wanted to organize a panel, present a roundtable discussion, give a demo for any kind of a skill, present a paper--this con will help you make it happen.

Almost done with my bunkerhunker . . . been taking time out for some watching to rest my hands, as well as reading. Will report on reading later, but watching, old movies mainly. I already talked about "It" with Clara Bow. Another interesting one was James Cagney and a young Joan Blondell in FOOTLIGHT PARADE, which is set when talking pictures were still so new that the silent features felt obliged to present "Prologues" (mainly scantily clad dancing girls, with a smattering of Vaudeville). As a piece of Americana during the Depression, it's fascinating.

Again, a film that was fascinating mostly for its setting and also for its gender play was Cary Grant and Ann Sheridan in I WAS A MALE WAR BRIDE. At the end of WW II, many studios had discovered their assets frozen, so they packed up and went overseas to shoot films and use up those funds. As a result, we see war torn Europe as a backdrop, in this film of 1948.

It's set in Germany, Heidelberg to be specific, and when you consider that massive cleanup had been taking place for three years, yet how startling the ruins still are, it gives scope to how terrible it was. The story itself has to do with occupational forces, a light-hearted look at the difficulties of a romance between two officers of different nationalities and the red tape involved. So some interesting stuff about gender, and the German is also interesting. I think they used locals--there's a bit where regional differences in German gets some funny byplay--but it was fun and historically interesting.

Potpourri

Apr. 12th, 2012 12:12 pm
sartorias: (Default)
Just did a podcast, a first for me. If I don't sound like too much of a gasbag and a whacktoon, will post link when it goes live.

Sirens is putting out the call for programming. This excellent, excellent con that focuses on women in fantasy draws its programming from its members. If you've ever wanted to organize a panel, present a roundtable discussion, give a demo for any kind of a skill, present a paper--this con will help you make it happen.

Almost done with my bunkerhunker . . . been taking time out for some watching to rest my hands, as well as reading. Will report on reading later, but watching, old movies mainly. I already talked about "It" with Clara Bow. Another interesting one was James Cagney and a young Joan Blondell in FOOTLIGHT PARADE, which is set when talking pictures were still so new that the silent features felt obliged to present "Prologues" (mainly scantily clad dancing girls, with a smattering of Vaudeville). As a piece of Americana during the Depression, it's fascinating.

Again, a film that was fascinating mostly for its setting and also for its gender play was Cary Grant and Ann Sheridan in I WAS A MALE WAR BRIDE. At the end of WW II, many studios had discovered their assets frozen, so they packed up and went overseas to shoot films and use up those funds. As a result, we see war torn Europe as a backdrop, in this film of 1948.

It's set in Germany, Heidelberg to be specific, and when you consider that massive cleanup had been taking place for three years, yet how startling the ruins still are, it gives scope to how terrible it was. The story itself has to do with occupational forces, a light-hearted look at the difficulties of a romance between two officers of different nationalities and the red tape involved. So some interesting stuff about gender, and the German is also interesting. I think they used locals--there's a bit where regional differences in German gets some funny byplay--but it was fun and historically interesting.

"It"

Apr. 4th, 2012 07:16 am
sartorias: (Default)
In my Netflix queue was IT, the 1927 hit with Clara Bow. It was fascinating in spite of the silly storyline, which was already threadbare in the twenties: perky, good-hearted shop-girl falls for handsome department store owner, and gets her man.

What she falls for is a handsome face and his wealth, and she uses his silly-ass best friend to get to him, without any sign of regret. The pair have nothing in common but attraction--you know that this marriage would last about a month--and yet Bow's charm reaches across the intervening eighty years, making you root for her.

It's been said that sound finished her career because of her Brooklyn accent. Too bad--that accent would just add to her charm now. She's got an insouciant attitude, a restless, bouncy physical presence that attracts the eye. In some scenes she just stood there making eyes at the camera and panting.

Elinor Glyn makes a guest appearance, swanning into the Ritz looking ridiculous with about an inch of kohl around her eyes, and moving like an automaton. But that was the height of popularity of her story about sex appeal, or "It"--which by the way gets defined several ways without actually using the word sex. (I read something or other by her a few years back. It was staggeringly awful, though I still love her granddaughter's book, Don't Knock the Corners Off, written when she was a teen the same age I was when I read it.)

The glimpses of twenties life were so interesting that they not only fill in the holes in the plot, but sometimes overshadow it--the girls' crummy apartment, the goods sold inside the department store (and how they were run). The way Clara turns her uniform into an evening gown. The trip to the fun park, and how the girls were constantly tugging down their skirts, though the camera was clearly trying to catch them hiking up. The body language and cultural cues were fascinating.

"It"

Apr. 4th, 2012 07:16 am
sartorias: (Default)
In my Netflix queue was IT, the 1927 hit with Clara Bow. It was fascinating in spite of the silly storyline, which was already threadbare in the twenties: perky, good-hearted shop-girl falls for handsome department store owner, and gets her man.

What she falls for is a handsome face and his wealth, and she uses his silly-ass best friend to get to him, without any sign of regret. The pair have nothing in common but attraction--you know that this marriage would last about a month--and yet Bow's charm reaches across the intervening eighty years, making you root for her.

It's been said that sound finished her career because of her Brooklyn accent. Too bad--that accent would just add to her charm now. She's got an insouciant attitude, a restless, bouncy physical presence that attracts the eye. In some scenes she just stood there making eyes at the camera and panting.

Elinor Glyn makes a guest appearance, swanning into the Ritz looking ridiculous with about an inch of kohl around her eyes, and moving like an automaton. But that was the height of popularity of her story about sex appeal, or "It"--which by the way gets defined several ways without actually using the word sex. (I read something or other by her a few years back. It was staggeringly awful, though I still love her granddaughter's book, Don't Knock the Corners Off, written when she was a teen the same age I was when I read it.)

The glimpses of twenties life were so interesting that they not only fill in the holes in the plot, but sometimes overshadow it--the girls' crummy apartment, the goods sold inside the department store (and how they were run). The way Clara turns her uniform into an evening gown. The trip to the fun park, and how the girls were constantly tugging down their skirts, though the camera was clearly trying to catch them hiking up. The body language and cultural cues were fascinating.

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