Show me what you love

(Alucard is watching Adventure Time in his room)
(TV suddenly explodes as Luke enters.)

Alucard: That was a 70-inch… plasma screen TV. (smacks his lips and inhales deeply) So… how can I help you?
Luke: You must be the great Alucard…
Alucard: ‘Suup.
Luke: I’ve heard quite a lot about you.
Alucard: Oh, really?
Luke: The nightwalker…who glides through oceans of blood… beyond human, a monster whose power radiates with a darkness that casts a shadow on darkness itself—
Alucard: Oh, you dirty bitch! Work the shaft!
Luke: …Excuse you?
Alucard: Oh, I’m sorry, I like the dirty talk when someone’s sucking my dick.
Luke: Perhaps I should just skip to my point. My name is Luke Valentine.
Alucard: And I’m Carmen Sandiego. Guess where I am.
Luke: I’m trying to have a serious conversation with you here.
Alucard: Oh, so am I, and I’m failing, and I’m sorry for that. It’s just that I’m so agitated, because this blond little shit just strolled into my room, destroyed my 70-inch plasma TV, and is trying to impress me like I’m his alcoholic father.
(Both draw and point their guns at each other’s heads from point-blank range)
Alucard: Be a sport and grab Daddy another beer, would you?

I’m also highly partial to:
Alucard: Get that bitch a cannon! Bitches love cannons!
And,
Alucard: BITCH I EAT PEOPLE!
And, 
TV Announcer: The terrorist duo inside is comprised of a young British woman and some Ozzy Osbourne-looking motherfucker
seras_with_dead_bernadotteBut the thing that, at the end of the day, makes this show actually kind of worth it (I mean…arguably….) is the fact that, aside from being completely consistent with the characters’….somewhat exaggerated….personalities for shits and giggles throughout, it still knows when to sober up and take matters seriously. So when our big-tittied police girl has lost her arm, her eyes, her love interest, her duty post, and almost her sanity–not to mention that Nazi vampires have overrun London, and the Catholic Church, Mexican Inquisition, and the Salvation Army decided to “kill them all and let God sort them out”–we get a scene that is very genuine, emotional, and meaningful. 
Alucard: Listen to me, Draculina! You are so much stronger than you let yourself be!
Seras: (sobbing) ‘Ow do you know?!
Alucard: Because behind those eyes, I saw something I lost long ago: the will to live. Now, stop running from who you are. Confront it! Embrace it! And go for its fucking throat. Like a REAL FUCKING VAMPIRE!
Honestly, I hate secret government organizations that hunt supernatural threats, I hate vampires, and I hate sexy vampires….but thing is, so does everyone in this show, including the secret government organization and the sexy vampires. Put that together with oodles of stylized violence, fancy costumes, drama, melodrama, angst, blacked-out silhouettes with glowing/reflective eyes, guns, violence, more violence, no seriously the amount of anime gorn is what kept me from watching either the original or the abridged series for the longest time–you can’t get better than this. And I mean either the original, which plays things absolutely seriously, or…y’know, this version, which doesn’t.
 
Rated:
Anderson: Time the fuck out! If we’re doing this — and WE ARE DOING THIS — I’m not gonna come swinging at DRACULA! I’M KILLING ALUCARD!
Dracula: You do know that it’s just my name spelled–
alexander_anderson2c_monster_of_god

Small town libraries

Are pretty awesome, even if sometimes they operate by odd rules. Turns out, my library card for Town A Library is not accepted in Town B Library, twenty miles away in the same state and county. However, my card for County XZ library–one hundred and fifty miles distant as the car drives–is.

(“Skaith?”
“Yeah.”
“Riders?”
“Yeah.”
Of?”
“Yup.”
“Huh. There you are.”)

Or would be, if I’d gotten it renewed before, y’know, moving three hours away.

On the other hand, since I’ve just gotten my brand-new Kindle fired up and loaded, it’s probably for the best. Even though I’ve wanted to read Tarzan Alive since I was eleven years old.

On the gripping hand, paperbacks were 0.25$.

  • Son of the White Wolf – Robert E Howard
  • Solomon Kane: The Hills of the Dead
  • The Moon of Skulls

And, changing genres (to donate to a homeschool group I know of, which will probably thank me profusely and then ignore them because kids these days):

  • Anne of Green Gables – Lucy Maud Montgomery
  • Anne of the Island
  • Anne of Avonlea (helpfully degunked by the nice lady. Well, 90% degunked)
  • Anne of Windy Poplars

Happy Things Go Boom day!

I’m out until Tuesday. In the meanwhile, please keep in mind:

– Keep long hair or dangling jewelry tied back or tucked away while lighting fireworks.
– Make sure to hold sparklers by the nonflammable end.
– Even if everybody else ran, don’t be the one to try and look cool by walking slowly away from lit fireworks, because having the casing fall on your head detracts from this image.
– Make sure all fireworks are secured to a firm, level, non-flammable base.
– Or at least are pointed up when you light them.

Twins of Evil (1971) – Hammer Horror review

s-l640a) Send help, I’m on a Hammer Horror trip. I’ve watched this, The Gorgon, The Curse of Frankenstein, and The Hound of the Baskervilles in the last three days (sick leave time.)

b) This film isn’t meant to be a good film. It’s meant to be titillating trash. It’s not meant to have deeper thoughts or meaningful themes which are presented via the circumstances which the characters find themselves in and then examined by watching how the characters and situations deal with each other and change. It’s not really meant to have characters who have the deepest or most complex of motivations and character arcs, either: It’s mostly just titillating trash. But! And here’s what sets a good B-movie apart from mere titillating trash: it has just enough to make you look twice–and no more.

It has just enough enough structure to support its own weight (yes, there are the obvious questions such as, “A Puritan? In Germany? Making the sign of the cross?” and, “Which Emperor is this, exactly?” and, “Why doesn’t burning supposedly kill the vampires?” and, “So where did Mircalla go?”) and it has just enough characterization–and character development–to make it actually interesting, so that you watch to see what happens to these people or what they do next, rather than just marking off time until someone else’s top falls open or another rather suggestive biting session occurs. Or somebody burns a witch. Mind you, a solid 90% of this supposed character development is due purely to the fact that it’s happening to Peter Cushing and he was incapable of acting poorly AFAIK. Nevertheless. Even the Playboy bunny twins do their best. Being able to have actual twins probably helped this movie a lot, not only in the cinematography allowing them both to be on screen at once, but in not taxing the efforts of a single starlet cast for her looks rather than her acting abilities. There’s Good Twin Maria, who is quiet and demure; there is Evil Twin Frieda, who is defiant and reckless; and it’s not actually difficult to tell them apart.

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c) Terry Pratchett’s Carpe Jugulum is exponentially more funny after having watched a couple of Hammer Horror-type vampire movies.

Plot: The fanatical Gustav Weil (Peter Cushing, and it’s pronounced “Vile” because why waste time on these things?) and his sinister group “The Brotherhood” are hunting down and burning witches. Exactly how they determine these witches are in fact witches is unclear, because the opening of the movie shows them ignoring the fact that the victim is wearing a crucifix (but Maria proves her innocence by touching a cross at the end, so….); later, someone accuses them of simply targeting single, young, attractive women. As one would. Meanwhile, a genuine degenerate exists, considers himself immune to The Brotherhood’s rampaging, and regards them with complete contempt: Count Karnstein, who by virtue of his title and the friendship of the Emperor is free to seduce, ravish, and conduct Black Masses and/or orgies as the mood takes him. The mood has become less of late, because Count Karnstein is becoming, frankly, bored with a surfeit of Earthly pleasures. He’s more interested in unearthly pleasures now; and the only side that’s likely to satisfy him is the diabolical one.

At this point, Gustav’s recently-orphaned twin nieces arrive. One of them is quiet, well-behaved, and obedient: Maria. The other one is rebellious, headstrong, and horny: Frieda.

Long story short, Karnstein accidentally resurrects Countess Mircalla (AKA: Millarca, AKA Carmilla of Joseph Sheridan LeFanu’s novella of the same title), who turns him into a vampire, gives him a brief crash course in vampiry, and then vanishes from the movie. This is presumably so Karnstein can remain the main villain, and in turn, make Frieda into his sidechick. vlcsnap-2014-09-15-21h19m24s194Keeping another sexy vampire around might have been too distracting. 

Anyhow, with the mysterious deaths increasing, the witch-burning is intensifying, and, eventually, Frieda gets caught red-handed, red-fanged, and red-faced. Given that she’s Gustav’s niece, she does get the courtesy of a trial, and while she’s languishing in a cell, the Count decides to rescue her by replacing her with Maria.

Maria, possibly because she’s been hypnotized by the Count and possibly because she’s already been mistaken for Frieda before, or possibly because it’s pretty obviously useless to protest given the circumstances, isn’t able to or doesn’t bother to try to inform them of their mistake. However, the local schoolmaster does figure it out, rescues her from the stake in the nick of time, delivers a blistering rebuke to the Brotherhood (and some bonus exposition on what actually kills vampires, i.e., NOT FIRE), and leads them to Storm The Castle.

There, Gustav beheads Frieda, restoring her soul and innocence (and….it’s a moment that’s actually really scary.) Karnstein kills him (stagger, stagger, sign of the cross, collapse), and then, for reasons known only to classical movie vampires, instead of fleeing, stands there on the balcony menacing her, flashing his fangs, and taunting everyone until the schoolmaster manages to throw a spear through him. The end.

The bad stuff:

I mean, this movie wasn’t ever intended to be anything more than a cheap trashy watch with lesbian vampires. That being said, depending on your point of view, it might be a good or a bad thing to learn that there isn’t all that much lesbian vampire action in this movie, and none of it involves the twins. The closest we come to that is Frieda threatening Maria with unspecified consequences if she snitches to their aunt and uncle.

There is also the fact that after a certain point, everybody in and out of the movie just gives up and goes for it, consistency and intelligence be damned. Yes, this is normally a good thing–but it comes right after the point where, for instance, Gustav has just realized he may be doing the wrong thing, may have been in the service of evil all along. There’s an almost-good scene where his equally-fanatical sidekick offers to be the one to set (unbeknownst to them, Good Twin Maria) on fire; but he refuses and moves forward firmly himself. That’s good. But then we switch over to a moronic (I mean….it just falls so damn flat and that’s not what you want at the climax of the movie, right?) Storming The Castle sequence that, ugh it’s just so cheap! and it’s not even because I kept having Carpe Jugulum flashbacks! Yeah, yeah, yeah, most of the budget must have gone to the twins’ wardrobes, but still. Can’t you even make an axe-, spear-, and torch-wielding mob attacking the castle exciting?

The good stuff:

Peter Cushing, Peter Cushing, and not to mention, Peter Cushing. From his OTT-prayer whilst a fair maiden burns in the background introduction, to his moment of horrified realization that he’s on the wrong side, to his remorseful yet determined acceptance of Frieda’s death, Cushing dominates this movie. Perhaps informing his role (and definitely changing his look, as you can see above): this movie was filmed only months after the death of his wife of 28 years. The man looks gaunt and haggard, as he would for the rest of his career. Also a plus on the casting side is Damien Thomas as Count Karnstein. And, while his is a role that, y’know, does not call for subtlety, development, fine emotional shading, etc….you gotta admit Thomas never looks embarassed by what he’s doing. Silly, sometimes, but never embarassed. He commits to the bit and that’s great.

Silly, sometimes, but great.

Again, the Collinson twins do a fine but not particularly taxing job.

And, yeah. This movie isn’t great. It’s titillating trash and doesn’t really aspire to be anything more.

But it also doesn’t try to be less than thoroughly entertaining, and it succeeds.

Rated: it’s okay, I’m on medication now.

1-person, 4-cheese pizza

OK, so I am quite proud of how this one turned out, for once. Most of my pizza experiments have ended up just about edible, but nothing to write (or blog) home about.

So!

Preheat your oven. I had it at 350F and used a glass casserole dish, but an actual pizza pan and a higher temperature would work better. Grease it thoroughly (this step is IMPORTANT.)

– 50 g cottage cheese (technically, this is supposed to be Greek yogurt, but I didn’t have any. This worked fine, though, so I’m going to keep doing it. More cheese = more better pizza.)
– 10 g of whatever dried grated cheese substitute in a can you have on hand because it’s cheap (praise Aldi)
– 2 g (1/2 tsp) of baking powder
– 2 g (shakeshakeshakeshakwhoopsnahit’llbefine) of salt
– dash of Italian seasoning + garlic powder / onion powder if you feel like it
– 25 g flour

Mix, adding very small amounts of water as needed until the dough pulls together. It’s quite sticky.

– Add about ~10 g cornmeal to unsticky it.

En-dish it and bake for a while. Since you have gone to some trouble to grease your baking pan, don’t smush the dough directly into it. Smush it out flat on the counter first, then transfer to the pan. Once it looks like it’s mostly cooked through (~20 minutes?), remove, and add:

– 90 g or about four big spoons of pizza sauce of choice
– 25 g of one type of cheese (muenster from the discount grocery!)
– 25 g of another type of cheese (parmesan from the other discount grocery!)
– toppings of your choice (….I have long wondered whether asparagus would be good on pizza, but today is not the day I find out)

Frankly, the oven should be hotter than 350, because it took a while. Pull it out when it’s ready or you get tired of waiting.

It was just about the right thickness, nice and crispy on the bottom but not too much, fluffy in the middle, and very cheesy on top. Kindly pretend this post is illustrated with pinterest-style making of pics, because I’m not about that. 

Normal content programming will resume whenever I get the time to read an actual book.

Zack Snyder’s Justice League (part 2) – just the good stuff

So…I’m not exactly sure where the switch flipped, but somewhere along the line, I stopped watching this movie to critique and review it and just started watching to enjoy it. Here’s my review: It’s…it’s quite good, actually.

Now, I don’t know how well it will hold up to repeat viewings. I agree that it has its flaws and excesses. It had moments that fell flat or didn’t really hold up.

But overall and I think the thing that redeems it, is that: Zack Snyder aimed for greatness with this movie. He wanted this to be an epic, yet meaningful story. He wanted this to be a story about larger-than-life heroes fighting a larger-than-life foe for the highest of stakes against a backdrop of the world in chaos. And if anyone had suggested 1,000 elephants to him, he’d have put them in, too.

The thing about aiming for greatness, is that sometimes you’ll hit it.

Plus, there are lots of little bitty moments that just work, like Diana shooting Barry Allen a tiny, reassuring smile (whilst obviously worried about the Bruce/Cyborg situation currently going down); or Cyborg’s mental image of the stock market manipulations being a bull and bear fighting. Or AquaMomoa angrily pointing at Flash after the latter has knocked them both to the ground. At super speed.

And, the fights in this one are a lot more epic. Like, a lot more. And it’s really awesome. Like, by the time all the heroes + Superman are done whaling on Spikywolf you feel kind of sorry for the guy. And something I never thought possible became possible: Soyboy Flash manages to have a scene where he is serious and commits to it, is heroic and goes beyond his limits–and it is touching and meaningful and it’s properly set up and builds on what came before and as the action climax of the movie, it’s marvelous.

Are the four epilogues completely unnecessary and even counterproductive? Yeah. Turn the movie off after Flash visits his dad in jail. Are there jarringly unnecessary and aggravating salutes to the holy flag of political correctness? Yes, but only a couple. You can hard-reset your brain back to enjoy mode by smacking it against a wall or something. I only needed to do that twice and I enjoyed the whole rest of the movie!

Or maybe I was watching the microwave. Anyhow.

Rated: I watched it. I quite liked it.

Zack Snyder’s Nustice Jeague (1st hour) – hilites

So. We open at the battle against the whatever that guy who was in BvS. Cyborg is in an apartment somewhere and the glowing box in his closet freaks out. Lex Luthor is chest-deep in a pool somewhere, and….a box assembles?

Someone, somewhere else is underwater, and her box is freaking out. Is that Amber Herd? She ain’t all that if you ask me. Meanwhile in Themiscyra, a bunch of Amazons (and I mean a bunch) take up battle poses around their box which is–you guessed it–freaking out. One Amazon of color edges forward, only to skitter back when the box! Cracks! Oh no! “Alert the Queen!”

Meanwhile someone in the tundra, someone is going all throw the leftover coffee out of your tin cup on the smoldering fire and saddling a horse….really?….is this the recut of Bruce’s quest to find Aquaman? You had to travel on horseback? Really? Really? Seriously???? (I lol’d. I mean, I like it, sure, but….really?) It’s also only eight minutes in (minus Zack Snyder’s intro/thanks to the fans), and that’s a LITTLE EARLY for epic LOTR. Especially when Bruce poses on a cliff, overlooking a thoroughly modern-looking town on the seaside.

And, with a Nolan-style “woommmmmm”/thump sound, we get our title card (Part 1 – “Don’t count on it, Batman.”)

OK, so! AquaMomoa strips and shows off his guns and wades off, refusing Batman’s offer as we know he would. And then the villagers start to sing some kind of mournful farewell? song and one woman picks up AquaMomoa’s discarded sweater and cuddles it. And sniffs it. OOOOOOOOOKKKKKKAY THERE.

(I gotta say, I actually am kinda liking this so far. My skepticism is natural, but I can definitely still be won over. Stupid things and weird things aside.)

And the gaping void of charisma, motivation, and character that is Lois Lane. Fortunately, this scene is brief.

At this point there is only ONE FUCKING MEDIOCRE WHITE MALE AND AN ENTIRE ROOM FULL OF HOSTAGES, RUSH HIM YOU EUROWEENIE IMBECILES. Wonder Woman blocks all the bullets again (this sequence looks kind of stupid) but then also enacts Step 2: help everyone to their feet, ask if they’re okay, smile, reassure girls that THEY CAN BE ANYTHING THEY WANT TO BE (seriously???) Well, okay fine, I’ll give you a pass on that one, especially since we cut back to Themiscyra right now and this was my favorite part of the first movie, honestly…and honestly now it’s….still pretty good too. So then the parademons start swarming in (WHY ARE YOU GUYS NOT SHOOTING AT THEM??) followed by a very spiky Steppenwolf, who monologues a bit but this I will also forgive, because:

“I will bathe in your fear” gets “Daughters of Themiscyra! Show him your fear!” “WE HAVE NO FEAR!” and that’s kind of really awesome.

So the battle is on….and this time the Amazons make a pretty good showing again, physically piling onto Spikywolf to keep him from reaching the box. And, despite some manufactured drama, the Queen + box make it out of the cave before it gets completely collapsed. Oh, wow, and then the entire complex gets collapsed off the cliffside and into the water. Okay. The queen hands off the box with orders to keep it moving….and takes a moment to mourn her fallen sisters as the stones continue to collapse.

BUT THEN! THE PARADEMONS LAUNCH OUT OF THE WATER OH NOOOOO! And Spikywolf is still with them. Oh dear. Commence the CGI horse-chase. And the Amazons actually pincushion Spikywolf with arrows (they all pop out when he flexes, heh) and give a pretty good account of themselves again with their lassos and teamwork (or try to). This is all stuuuuuupid, but it’s also kind of cool. The Amazon queen is down to her last arrow, not that it is going to help much when he can catch arrows in his hand, when the all-CGI, all-Amazon cavalry arrives, extremely late to the party. Spikywolf peaces out.

Part 2 (wommmmmmmm/thud)

Elsewhere, Master Bruce and Alfred are Master Bruce and Alfreding around.

Elsewhere in a different location, some janitor guy is unlucky enough to have the job of mopping a grate, directly after someone broke into the lab where not-Miles-Dyson has just left. And, because it’s everybody’s first instinct to walk towards a red-glowing winged figure hunched in the apex of a hole that has been smashed into the ceiling of a maximum security building, he gets parademon’d.

Meanwhile in the Louvre, Gal Gadot is incredibly beautiful while wearing skintight white dresses with low necklines and bronze button accents. News at 11.

Meanwhile, AquaMomoa spends entirely too much time posing and flexing in sllllloooooowwwwwwmooooooo. I mean, I objectively know this guy is a hunk but I’m also having trouble taking him seriously right now. (Especially since he plays the same character in every movie and last time I saw him he was FurryMomoa.)

Ye gods, is that Nick Nolte?…no, but IT’S THAT GUY. You know. The one who played the Green Goblin. THAT GUY. What’s his name?????  Incidentally, “Take up your mother’s trident!” is not the rallying cry you think it is….

Anyhow, Diana explains the plot to Bruce a bit (if the three boxes come together, Darkseid destroys the world, heroes came together last time, world was not destroyed), and the incredibly CGI epic battle is actually really kind of epic even though it’s overly exposited, overly CGI and overly slow-mo’d. I mean, come on. You gotta have some fun sometimes and if you can’t enjoy an epic battle in the age of heroes for being epic during the age of heroes, what can you enjoy?

(wommmmmmmmm/thud)

(vvvfrrrrrooooooosh)

The Thief of Baghdad (1942) – With My Mother (repost)

“Wait, this is the little movie with Sahib or Saboo or what’s-his-name, isn’t it?”
“You never watched it! You can’t say it’s bad! You’ll like it!”
“You’re still hung up on that silly movie from when you were a kid?”
“It’s a good movie!”
“…”
“You promised you were going to watch it.”
“And I don’t know why.”

The movie begins in medias res, with a blind man and his dog begging for alms on the street. Conrad Veidt drops by:

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“Who’s he?”
“Jaffar.”
“Is he the Sultan?”
“No, he’s the evil usurping vizier.”
“Usurping what?”
“The kingdom.”

Like the blind man, the dog is special and more than he appears to be–as demonstrated when he picks out false coins from an offering.

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“What?”
“He said, the dog must have been a tax collector in a previous life.”

The blind man is collected by the enigmatic Halima:

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“I didn’t get all that.”
“The blind guy is the real king. The dog is the thief, Sabu. Jaffar did that to them when he did the usurping. But now he needs the king back to do something for him.”
“Who is she?”
“She works for Jaffar.”

“Oh! So that’s why the dog can tell! He’s really a person!”

“Is Tony Curtis in this?”

The blind man begins to tell his story, and we flash back to the beginning:
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He is the king whom Jaffar usurped, was tricked into leaving the palace, thrown in jail, rescued by the little Thief of Baghdad, and fled the city for safer climates.

“What’s his name? The king.”
“John Justin. He never hit it big.”
“I can see why.”
“…”
“That is one scrawny looking man.”

They end up in the nearby city of Basra, where armed guards ensure that no man sees the face of the Princess before she is married.

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“He said, is she that ugly?”
“Heh.”

 

“June Duprez….”
“Apparently she never hit it big, either. I think she said it was because Joan Fontaine or one of those people had it out for her.”
“I can see that happening.”

Ahmad, however, sees the Princess, is smitten, and with Abu’s reluctant help manages to sneak into the palace to see her up-close.

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“He said, Sinbad the Sailor offered them berths on his ship.”
“Mm-hm.”
“Isn’t that nice?”
“….mmm.”

Fortunately, the Princess is receptive…
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“Oh please. NO.”

Unfortunately, Jaffar arrives, intent on founding a dynasty (no, seriously, those are his exact words), and he has planned ahead.

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“What is it? What is it!”
“It’s a clockwork horse.”
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“What!”
“It’s a flying clockwork horse.”
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“How could that work!?”
“It’s a magic flying clockwork horse.”
“Is it real?”
“What?”
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“I know what he wants for that!”

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The Princess makes a run for it. Meanwhile, a captured Ahmad confronts Jaffar–unsuccessfully–resulting in the state of affairs that we began with and catching us up to the story in the present.

“Why is he so happy?”

“What’d he say?”

“He turned into a dog!”

“What’d he say?”
“He said, the king would be blind and the thief would be a dog until he gets to hold the Princess.”
“Hold the Princess?”
“…hug…the Princess…?”
“Oh.”

It is then revealed to Ahmad that he is in the same place as the Princess, she having been captured and bought by slavers, but is in a strange magical coma (you know, the kind Princesses are prone to…it must be genetic), which only he can break.

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“They lying?”
“No.”

Jaffar watches the proceedings:

“He put a spell on her he can’t break?”
“He didn’t enspell the Princess, she just fell into it herself. He enspelled THEM.”

Ahmad wakes the Princess successfully, but is then hustled out by Halima. He leaves Abu:

“Guard her? One dog against a sorcerer?”

–While Halima then lures the Princess onboard a ship, promising that Ahmad’s sight can be restored there.

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She’s not lying….

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“But he had her before, I don’t understand.”
“Yeah, but she wasn’t awake.”

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Conrad Veidt was actually the big star of the movie (I think this was John Justin’s first role, while Veidt had a long list of international credits to his name), and was ordered to play the tortured, suffering lover to the hilt. Veidt obliged. In fact, watching this movie with a couple of girl friends a year or so ago, the general consensus was that, aww, he can’t be all that bad, why can’t he end up with the girl?

Because he’s a creepy, usurping Grand Vizier, that’s why.

“What’s he doing?”
“Hypnotizing her.”
“Why? So she will like him?”

“He hypnotized her?”
“No, because he can’t get her to like him, only to obey him.”
“…what’s the difference?”
“…”
“Well from his point of view! She’s not going to like him anyway, so why is he even bothering?”

It’s all for nothing, though, as Ahmad and Abu are once again on their trail:

“What’s he doing now?”
“He’s calling up a storm to stop the other boat.”
“Oh that’s really gonna get her to like him now. Fool!”

–and all that gets him is a mopey Princess.

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“Go where?”
“She doesn’t want to go with him. She wants to go home.”

“Oh, he took her home?”
“He’s trying to be nice.”

The Princess does get a promise from her father that he will never send her away, as long as he lives.

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“This is a funny premise. For toys he’d give up anything. You heard about men and their toys.”
“Well, they’re right.”
“…she’s going back to Baghdad….”

“Aaah! She gon’ kill him!…oh…”

“Hm! Wouldn’t like to live in them times. Always be watching your back because people gon’ stab you in it!”

Meanwhile, Abu finds a genie in a bottle. There’s only one problem: Genie has been in the bottle for two thousand years, and is unhappy about it.

“Solomon put him in there? Must be a bad genie.”

“Uh…”
“Why else would Solomon put him in there, then?”

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Abu keeps his wits about him, and fortunately, has read the correct stories.

“What’s he doing?”
“He tricked him back into the bottle.”
“He CAN’T BE THAT FOOLISH. NO.”
“…it’s one of the traditional stories about the three wishes and the genie. They didn’t just make this up!”
“…”

“Why should we trust him?”
“He swore.”
“So?”
“He swore by King Solomon!”

Abu needs to know where Ahmad is, and to know where Ahmad is, needs the All-Seeing Eye of the Goddess of Night. But first things first.
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“He gon’ use one wish for a meal! Please!”

The heroic part of this adventure then begins, as Abu enters the goddess’s temple to steal the All-Seeing Eye:

“What is it, a spider’s web?”
“Yeah.”
“Oh. Oh Lor’, he goin’ up a spider’s web and the spider coming for him?”
“Yep.”
“Does he know?”

“Wait, where is the Prince?”
“He’s trying to find the thing that will allow him to find the Prince.”
“…What thing?”
“The All-Seeing Eye.”
“…”
“…And then he’ll see where the Prince is and the genie can take him there.”

Ahmad and Abu are reunited, but the genie is cackling ominously:

“The genie is a fool?”
“The joke is, he’s about to get away and he knows it.”

…Which promptly happens.

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“He looks like a scrawny person! Look. One scrawny man.”
“Mom!”

“What? Who’s going to be chained!”
“They’re both gonna die.”
“What? He gon’ kill the girl? Why? He just said he had her!”
“She broke free. And he got mad.”

Abu smashes the All-Seeing Eye, and then things go wonky:

“What, the genie came back?”
“No, something else happened.”
“What?”
“I dunno! Something else happened.”

“He died?”
“No.”
“Then who’s this old man? And how come he’s a prince?”

…I’m not sure what the logic is behind this scene, taken out of context. Let me just say, that like all great stories, it makes perfect sense when you’re going with the flow of it. Anyhow, the Sages give Abu the title of Prince and a bow that will not easily miss evil, but explicitly forbid him to take their flying carpet. That carpet. Over there. It flies if you tell it, “Fly carpet.” Now, excuse me, I’m leaving the room now. Remember, now! That carpet.

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“The boy, he gon’ stay there?”
” ‘No thanks.’ “

So Abu arrives in the nick of time and the people, emboldened, rise against their oppressive overlord:

“What’s going on?”
“They’re revolting against Jaffar.”
“Because they saw the cloud?”
“Because of the prophecy!”

Jaffar attempts to escape on the flying horse, but:

“Oh my.”

And they all live happily ever after, including Abu, who takes to the hills on hearing that Ahmad intends for him to–gulp–attend school.

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“Ahahahaha.”

I love this movie so much. I always have. I think I always will.

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“See! I told you it was good!”
“This should be the last time you look at this, ever.”

Sigh.

Mud (2012) – Movie Review

Directed by Jeff Nichols and starring Matthew McConaughey, Sam Shepard, Reese Witherspoon, Tye Sheridan, Taylor Lofner, Michael Shannon…wait, what? Wasn’t he Zod in Man of Steel? Huh, what else has he OH MY GOSH THERE’S A HANK THE COWDOG PODCAST ADAPTATION THAT JUST CAME OUT LAST YEAR OH MY GOSH AND IT’S AVAILABLE ONLINE (okay, back to business)

TLDR 1: This movie did not represent me…unless you take into consideration representation actually is.

TLDR 2: it’s really good.

This movie is easily two hours long, and it was around an hour and a half in that something–right around the time all the threads pull together and the plot starts moving on nitro–bumped it up for me from “I’m watching intently” to “Oh, I’m gonna to show this to my friends”…whether they like it or not.

It’s a boy’s movie, and the women in it are secondarily characters and primarily sources (and forces) of conflict. So why did I like it? How can I like a movie that doesn’t represent me?

Because representation is not about what the character’s skin color is. There never has been, ever, a heroine who looks like me, even the ones who stare at themselves in a mirror and whine about having brown hair instead of blonde. But there have been many heroines that I can sympathize with–and many heroes.

This movie spoke to me because I can sympathize with the protagonists when they learn that the people you admire and look up to might not be worth that admiration or don’t have all the answers, that love might not conquer all; that your parents are fallible, and yet still love you, and still are worthy of respect. I can sympathize with the struggles of having to leave a familiar, beloved home but still know that my friends have got my back. And though the target has changed and changes often, sometimes I just totally wanna beat the hell out of people, you can totally understand why. And hell, I still flip out over Hank the Cowdog because I loved those books to pieces when I was a kid and I was not, at last check, a dog.

This movie is excellent because I can admire the protagonists, even though they’re imperfect, frequently make bad decisions and quite often stupid ones, work hard but still need outside resources, fight hard and still need help. They’re courageous, generous, loyal, and honorable. When they think something ought to be done, they go and try do it, regardless of odds or reasons. They’re good men–or trying to be–or learning to be.

And it’s a good story, told in a way I personally really like: with tons and tons of implied backstory that motivates everyone, shapes their reactions and explains their actions but which isn’t actually shown, merely implied. I love that one. It means someone has sat down and thought things through.

So what is the story?

Well, there’s these two kids, (Tye Sheridan as main hero Ellis, and Taylor Lofner as Neckbone)–who are out exploring an island on the Mississippi river where unexplained events have somehow stranded a boat in a tree. They claim the boat as their own but soon discover that someone else has gotten there first: a man with hob-nailed boots, snakes tattooed on his hands, a white shirt with a wolf’s eye sewn into it that protects him (and a pocketful of other weird superstitions) who calls himself “Mud.” (Matthew McConaughey)

Mud is on the island, hiding out, and waiting for someone. He asks the boys to bring him food and keep an eye out for his girl, the most beautiful woman they’ve ever seen. This turns out to be Juniper (Reese Witherspoon), and the relationship between her and Mud turns out to be a lot more complicated than first appearance. Mud has been infatuated with Juniper since they were children, but, it is later revealed to the boys, he also has a history of violently attacking anyone else who gets involved with her…or maybe Juniper sets him off on purpose. That’s been their pattern for a long, lont time–but this time he’s killed someone. Mud’s story is that he did it to protect Juniper from being outright murdered by an abusive boyfriend…and though circumstances seem to bear him out, the guy’s family has muscle, money, and is out for blood. Oh, and they have a couple of informants in the Sheriff’s department, the hospital, and the state police.

Mud recruits the boys to help him to repair the boat so he and Juniper can make it down the river to God knows what but he seems to think it’ll be freedom.

Ellis throws himself into the project as a way of escaping from, or seeking answers to, the problems in his own life that he doesn’t have the power or vocabulary to address directly. His parents are separating: his mother is done with their rickety houseboat and hunter-gatherer lifestyle, and his father isn’t taking this at all well. At the same time, Ellis’s love life is taking its first tentative steps, only for him to discover that, while girls might find doglike infatuation flattering, they are vain and deceitful at heart and not to be trusted…

So it goes, right up until the part when the wheels come, inevitably and completely, crashing off.

Again, why is it good?

Because it’s an interesting story, well-told. It has themes which, while meaningful, are never over-emphasized. Because it has, first and foremost, well-realized, deeply human characters who are flawed but basically good and who learn from their mistakes to become better. Or, at least, learn not to make those particular mistakes again. In Mud’s case, it’s taken a lifetime. Ellis, though, might not take so long and might not have to end up hiding out on a deserted island running from the cops and your girlfriend’s boyfriend’s vengeful father’s henchmen.

What else? Oh yeah, the acting is superb, including the child actors; the script never once made me cringe (possibly because even the more, shall we say “thematic” bits were delivered so well), so, props for the casting as well as the acting; the cinematography is very pretty and the colors are–well, actually the color is pretty washed out and brown but Arkansas, amirite? There’s also a pretty badass shootout at the end.

Rated:
You’re a good man movie, Mud.