Wednesday update

July 19, 2017

I’m still, slowly, unwinding and putting my brain back together from my week of A) new book release yay! and B) turning in new new book wah!  It’s taking a long time for my brain to clean itself out, but it’s happening. I’m even able to sort of start getting ready for the next round of travel. And do some relaxing. Finish up knitting projects, that sort of thing. I should probably clean house.

Last night’s event at Barnes and Noble went great! We even had a real Irish Wolfhound attend! So many people and so much fun!

Here’s my long review of Wonder Woman, with a couple of bouts of analysis of what historical settings mean and why it’s been so hard to get a viable superhero movie featuring a woman main character.

My take on the New Doctor announcement. Meh? I know it should be more than that, particularly with the casting of a woman, but I stopped watching Doctor Who regularly a few years ago. I’ve heard this last year, post-Clara, has been quite good, and maybe I’ll try to catch up and watch the new doctor. But I’ve got so much to watch right now. At any rate, I’m happy to see changes in the show and I’m happy that so many people are happy. I like Jodie Whittaker, and if you haven’t seen Attack the Block, which features both her and John Boyega, you totally should. Like, right now.

 

trailer talk

July 17, 2017

BANNERLESS has been out a week!  Remember, Kevin Hearne and I are appearing at the Barnes and Noble in Boulder tomorrow at 7 pm!

Movie trailers. Been thinking about them lately, again. I finally saw the trailer for Blade Runner 2049, the entirely unnecessary, 35 years after the original sequel. I avoided it when it was big on social media because I’m pretty much aghast that this even exists. So I saw it for the first time on the big screen, which is exactly the way to see it. It’s spectacular. Of course I want to see this movie.

I’m still suspicious of it, because I think the trailer is playing on nostalgia rather than story. It nails the aesthetic of the original, and we eat it up like candy. For me in particular, it’s the music — Vangelis’s Blade Runner score is one of the most iconic in movie history. Those resonate synthesizer chords — nothing else sounds like Blade Runner. So when those chords start in this new trailer, it’s a pure endorphin rush in the back of my brain.  For me at least, that visceral “holy shit this is awesome!” response to the trailer is a lizard-brain adoration of the aesthetic.  It depends on my nostalgia for the original. I discuss this in my review of Stranger Things as well — is it good, or are we just so happy to see something we love that we can’t tell the difference?

Then there’s the newly released trailer for A Wrinkle in Time, which is spectacular for a lot of reasons. SO MUCH COLOR. So much amazing cosplay to look forward to.  I’ve watched it multiple times and cried every time for a lot of reasons — it’s so rich. First, the trailer has the scene that almost everyone who reads the book remembers vividly as a knife cut — the clone suburban neighborhood with the balls bouncing in perfect unison. This wins so much good will just from that scene alone: “Yes, the filmmakers know what they’re doing.” Another part of this everyone is talking about is the epic cover of “Sweet Dreams” accompanying it. Another piece of familiarity to draw people in. Skewed, this time, which tells you something about the movie. This song is probably not going to be in the final cut of the film — it’s there to pique our interest.

So much psychology goes into these things. It’s just fascinating.

 

I spent this weekend at an SCA event that nearly got flooded out by an epic 2-hour mountain deluge and I got no sleep because I was freezing cold and I’m still dehydrated and BANNERLESS COMES OUT TOMORROW and BANNERLESS #2 IS DUE ON FRIDAY and I’m a little frazzled so here’s a quick post, with a few more thoughts on Spider-Man: Homecoming.

This one is CHOCK FULL OF SPOILERS.

Michael Keaton is a treasure, and his evolution from Bat to Bird to Vulture is tremendous fun.

A lot of comics geeks are bitching about young Aunt May, and first off it’s really wonderful to hear a 50 year old woman called young, but I really like young Aunt May, that she’s Peter’s aunt and not his great aunt, that she’s a regular harried middle aged woman, still vibrant, and she worries and has a million things going on, and there are all these implications — she’s lost her husband (as implied in the brief backstory given in Civil War), her sibling (Peter’s parent), and gosh darn it she’s not going to lose Peter, and that’s why she’s so flustered about him. I love it.

My comics geek friend is tremendously happy that this Spider-Man invented his own mechanical web-slingers, just like in the comics, rather than have it be biological because that never really worked, did it?

I’m scared to go back and watch the first Sam Raimi Spider-Man because while I loved it to pieces, I’m worried that it will now look as cheesy and dated as the first Tim Burton Batman.

I’ve been saying “I can be your guy in a chair” all weekend. I’m pretty sure that whole thing was a dig at the DC TV shows.

Just like the ferry scene was a dig at The Dark Knight.

And then when the door opened at Liz’s house, HOLY SHIT.

Those Captain America high school PSA’s were a riot.  “How many more of these are there?”

I loved the opening scene, all these real world implications of the alien invasion in Avengers, like yes there’s going to be contractors hired to clean up the city, and this is something I think the MCU is doing really well, following through some of these implications — and not in a big way. It’s part of the worldbuilding. It’s always there in the background. It’s lovely.

I loved Peter’s complete meltdown when Vulture dropped the ceiling on him. He’s still a kid. He panicked. Such a human moment.

And I loved that he fought the big last battle in his homemade sweat suit costume.

Okay that’s probably enough now…

I SHOULD BE WORKING.

 

Spider-Man: Homecoming

July 7, 2017

This was wonderful.

I’m having trouble figuring out what to say, because there’s so much I want to say, but I also don’t want to spoil a single thing because part of the joy of this is the ton of little easter eggs and jokes and just really nice moments through the whole thing. It’s clever, but doesn’t make a big deal about its own cleverness. It’s also really heartfelt. What is it like being a 15 year old kid with superpowers in the Marvel Universe? Here, this is what it’s like.  (In fact, the movie doesn’t stand alone. The plot’s deeply connected to what happens in Avengers and Civil War, and there are references to the whole MCU scattered around. But I have to say, at this point this is one of the things I love about the MCU:  they don’t spend any time trying to explain what happened before, they expect you to just know, and in the process have built up an entire world that doesn’t require any explanation, that acquires new layers with every outing.)

This is a superhero movie that’s also a nearly perfect teen comedy. That’s also an homage to teen comedies. But when the story of a teen comedy would go in one direction, this veers back into the superhero movie. So you think you know what’s going to happen, but then something else entirely happens.  We all stood outside the theater after asking each other, “Did you see THAT coming, at the start of the third act?”  “No I totally did not, did you?”  “Not even a little bit.”  We were all amazement.

And there’s the scene where Michelle is wearing a Sylvia Plath T-shirt.

Gah, I must stop now, before I start quoting lines. And stay all the way through the credits. Really really. I shouldn’t have to keep saying this…but just do it.

 

 

Wonder Woman

June 5, 2017

Yeah, that was just fine. I don’t think it was the best superhero movie ever the way some folks are saying, but it was good. I had some quibbles but nothing deal-breaking. I probably need to see it again without the weight of “OMG please don’t suck” hanging over it.

I’m writing a long review for Lightspeed, and will have a lot more to say there. For now, the biggest thing for me is how the movie proves what I’ve been talking about for years:  Women superheroes need to be designed as heroes, not pinups. When the primary design specification is “sexy” (for typical straight male definitions of sexy), she’s not going to be believable as ass-kickingly powerful.

Wonder Woman gets that.  The film could have easily decided that “well, the Amazons are immortal and magical so we can make them all supersexy model-pretty and young and that’ll be okay.” Except that amazing battle on the beach would have been completely unbelievable, the Amazons would not have been as astonishing as they are, and the whole idea would have fallen flat. As it is, the Amazons — including Diana — are so, so strong. There’s been a lot of press about how they’re portrayed by athletes and martial artists, they trained for months — and it really comes across. Moreover, they’re not young. You look at these women, and they have experience and wisdom, they’re comfortable in their skins. They haven’t just been training and fighting, they’ve been doing it for years.

On this foundation, the authenticity of the entire film is built.  I’ve been saying this for years. Women heroes, first and foremost, needed to be heroes. And this is one of the reasons why Wonder Woman succeeds.

 

Wonder Woman day!

June 2, 2017

I’ve been discombobulated all week, so I ducked out this morning to take a walk at a nearby pond — and logged twenty bird species! Including a new-to-me osprey nest that I hadn’t seen before! And like six great blue herons having big dinosaur fighting matches for some reason! Seriously, those guys were all over the place.

So I’m feeling much better now.

Now I just need to get some work done before heading out to Wonder Woman tonight.  I’m thinking part of my bad mood this week is anticipation. Wanting so much for this movie to be good but not really sure what I’m in for. When people like me who grew up on the Lynda Carter Wonder Woman say we’ve been waiting for this movie for 40 years, we’re not kidding. I’m trying not to get so emotional, but it’s hard. Argh.

Oh hey, here’s the Boulder Fairgrounds osprey nest. Three chicks, doing great!  Woohoo!

 

First off, this has way more in common with Conan the Barbarian than with anything resembling Arthurian mythos.  In fact, I kept thinking that squeezing Arthur through a Robert E. Howard and Lovecraft filter the way this movie does is really kind of genius and I wish I had thought of it.  When the film opens on a darkness-shrouded ziggurat  and a passable replica of Minas Morgal, complete with flames shooting out of the top, I knew to chuck any expectation of anything making sense out the window. Since Arthur and his band of miscreants are all quite likeable, and I for one find Guy Ritchie’s directorial quirks delightful — he knows exactly when to skip a long narrative sequence and replace it with a snappy montage instead — I had a pretty good time with this.

In fact, it’s a way better Dungeons and Dragons movie than the actual D&D movie. Someday I’m going to rank my “way better D&D movie than the actual D&D movie” movies.

Although I have to admit, none of us could abide how badly Arthur treated his sword. You don’t drag Excalibur on the stone floor, even if it makes cool sparks!