selenak: (Obsession by Eirena)
( Oct. 21st, 2014 08:37 am)
This was the season finale, right? It definitely felt like one. And I am ever so glad we're getting another season.

Some revelation is at hand )

In conclusion: definitely one of the smartest shows of the year, about complicated people and issues. So many pop culture stories treat WWII basically as the ultimate role playing game, clear cut good/evil issues, compromise with the other side impossible because the other side is bent on genocide and led by the embodiment of evil in the 20th century, therefore only dashing heroism on the Allies side. And so often it gets contrasted to the present with murky issues, endless wars, and ever shifting alliances and the impossibility to see anyone as the dashingly heroic side. Yet here is this show, picking up a very specific part of the homefront of the war seen as the "good war" in US public memory, and relates it directly to one of the most disturbing current day issues, the way state surveillance, "enhanced" interrogation and the giving up of liberties has become an accepted and even deemed necessary practice. Wow.
In which Goethe joins the ranks of OuaT writers, and given Regina's stated goal this season, this suddenly makes me think of crazy RPF crossovers. She'd be his type. Emma, otoh, would be Schiller's.

Hat der alte Hexenmeister sich nun einmal wegbegeben... )
selenak: (Default)
( Oct. 20th, 2014 07:15 am)
Dear Yuletide Writer,

I'm happy and grateful you're going to write a story for me. We must share at least one fandom, and I hope you'll have fun writing in it. The ideas in my requests are just that: ideas. If you feel inspired by another direction of story altogether, go for it, as long as it features the characters I requested.

General likes and dislikes: pretty ordinary. I don't like character bashing. (Or the bashing of a relationship in favour of another, but that hardly applies with my requests.) Not to be confused with whitewashing; some of the characters I asked so have canonically done some pretty apalling things, and you don't have to pretend they didn't, or that it was all someone else's fault, just because I love them. As long as they come across as three dimensional people with flaws and strengths, I'll be content.

Quiet character exploration or plotty tale, gen or slash/het/any combination thereof, humor or dark fic, it's all good, though unless you're one of those awesomely talented people who can write characterisation via sex, I'd prefer a story that's more than a PWP.
Now, as to individual requests:

The Americans )

Penny Dreadful )

15th Century RPF )
In case I haven't mentioned this before, I really like this season. Not without individual complaints, of course, but those always happen. In totem I haven't liked a Moffat season so much since s5. (There is a difference between liking individual episodes and liking an overal season.) I know it's not everyone's cup of tea, but the dynamic between Clara and Twelve works for me, the Doctor's re-emphasized alienness works for me, and the way (present day) Clara suddenly came into her own constantly reminds me that in the utopian day when I have more time, I want to write an essay about Doctor-Companion combinations and why some Companions work with different Doctors (though in different aspects, like Sarah Jane), while others click with just one specific regeneration.

Now, on to Flatline, which definitely belongs into the "liked much, want to rewatch!" category of episodes for me.

To misquote Stephen Sondheim, exceptional is different from good )
Sometimes it really seems that the time between fannish expressions being coined and them being used in a way that's far from their original meaning gets shorter and shorter. The most prominent example being "Mary Sue" which after a gazillion people used it just in the sense of "female character I don't like" lost all its usefulness. Two or three days ago, I started to add "man pain" to the number, after reading a tweet wherein the writer of same talked about Steve Rogers' "man pain" in "Captain America: The Winter Soldier."


Steve isn't even my favourite MCU character. Or comic book character. But. If there is one superhero who reliably puts saving people first and his own angst for later, it's Steve Rogers. This, btw, is something I like about him. "Man pain", as far as I know, was coined to signify a character (usually male, though I did see people use the expression for the occasional female character as well) making not only something bad happening to him but something worse happening to other people into fodder for his own angst, and his own drama. (Come to think of it, wouldn't the female version be the expression "white women's tears"? Though that one is strictly related to poc's fates being used as angst fodder for a white female character, which "man pain" is not.) Meanwhile, Steve throughout "Winter Soldier", where he gets a couple of shattering revelations both general and personal, never loses sight of what's most important (that would be: no fascist surveillance state taking out its enemies) while finding the time to comfort Natasha through her moment of of "what the hell was my life about?"' angst. The point where he whited for spoilersprioritizes Bucky isn't until Hydra is already defeated. When it's solely his, Steve's, own life n the line. Which he's prepared to sacrifice rather than kill his friend. But when everyone else's lives were still at stake, he did fight, and he did finish that mission. Again: if there's one superhero currently in the MCU who never prioritizes his own pain over anyone else's danger or pain, and who certainly does NOT make other people's tragedies about himself, it's Steve Rogers.

End of MCU Captain America Has No Man Pain rant.

Meanwhile, via [personal profile] lonelywalker, a fabulous interview with John Logan, the creator of Penny Dreadful, in which we find out that Vanessa Ives is a Wilkie Collins kind of heroine (of course she is!), the Ives-Murray abode in London is the bridge of the Enterprise, and Victor Frankenstein isn't likely to find out happiness in season 2 (naturally; he's Victor). Consider me more thrilled than ever we'll get more of this show.
selenak: (Raven and Charles by Scribble My Name)
( Oct. 17th, 2014 01:08 pm)
Briefly, re: multifandom news:

1) New Twin Peaks: Do not want. Leave well enough alone, I say. The second season has been pretty shaky already, and although the ending was great (in a completely mean way, of course), I can't see what a follow up would achieve that would improve on it. I'd rather not know for sure one way or the ther whether SPOILER ever managed to get rid of SPOILER. Or whether SPOILER survived. And that's leaving aside that a lot of what made Twin Peaks so charming and original back in the 1990s has been copied, quoted etc. ad infinitum ever since.

...Otoh, what do I know? I'd have said "do not want" about a Shining sequel, too. And Doctor Sleep turned out to be Stephen King's best book in years (not least because he ditched the first person narration of the last few again), which I wouldn't wanted to have missed.

2.) MCU does Civil War rumor: I'll believe it if it's a bit more substantial than, well, rumor. For starters, the whole Civil War premise makes no sense in the current MCU as it is - only a few superheroes who, after Captain America: The Winter Soldier, had their identities revealed to all and sunder. And that's before we get to the part where the emotional content of Civil War depends on these people having been friends for eons, not being a couple of new aquaintances who just started to get over hostilities.

And a vid rec from the X-Men films: A beautiful portrait of Raven/Mystique!
selenak: (Hyperion by son_of)
( Oct. 16th, 2014 10:02 am)
Still an awful combination of sick and busy, so behind with replying to everyone's replies. But finally able to catch up on Manhattan which I just learned got renewed for another season!

Transparacy is democracy )
selenak: (Alicia and Diane - Winterfish)
( Oct. 14th, 2014 01:41 pm)
In which the creators of The Americans have a cameo which is distracting for me and makes crossovers difficult (and here I thought Alicia could represent Henry and/or Paige when they try to sort out their citizenship issues decades later), but also made me smile. Oh, and the episode continues to prove this show is just sublimely confident in itself, and justly so, in its sixth year.

Reporters don't like irony )
In which your faithful reviewer was treated to a couple of familiar (actorly) faces while the characters found out a couple of new things.

It's getting frosty )
selenak: (Equations by Such_Heights)
( Oct. 13th, 2014 11:19 am)
Running a fever doesn't stop you from watching tv, thankfully.

Read more... )
This year's Frankfurt Book Fair was exciting and eventful as ever, but unfortunately I cought the dreaded Book Fair Flu. It happens nearly every year to those of us who stay the entire week in the small city of halls with thousands of people breathing the same air, but usually the symptoms wait for Monday. Not this year, where I'm running a fever and sniffling like a Dickensian orphan, so the report will be shorter than usual.

 photo 2014_1012FrankfurtMersse0063_zpse110a9ae.jpg

Report under the cut )
selenak: (Bayeux)
( Oct. 7th, 2014 02:22 pm)
It's that time of the year again - starting tonight, with the opening ceremony, the world's largest book fair takes place in Frankfurt. This year's guest of honor is Finnland. I won't be able to go to the opening ceremony for the first time in eons because of other rl obligations, but from Wednesday morning till Sunday afternoon, I'll be inhaling books at the fair, and hence rarely online.

Also, I wasn't able to catch the latest Good Wife before hitting the road, so I won't be able to watch it until next Monday, together with the next one. Something I did manage to watch before losing the benefit of broadbent access, courtesy of [personal profile] trobadora, is the lovely Snow and Regina scene they cut from the most recent Once upon a Time. Which really should have been in the episode!
selenak: (Equations by Such_Heights)
( Oct. 7th, 2014 09:01 am)
In which people's love lives take a turn for the worse, and keeping secrets is a lost art.

Read more... )
selenak: (Mother and Daughter by Lostdragonfound)
( Oct. 6th, 2014 05:42 pm)
Beastly day for rl reasons, but I did manage (some) tv. OuaT, I embrace your endearing corniness! You make me happy when I direly need it!

It's your curse, you fix the electricity! )
Still chewing on this one, but in a good way. The scriptwriter is new, isn't he? I don't recall reading his name before.

Read more... )
selenak: (Hank McCoy by Stacyx)
( Oct. 5th, 2014 06:28 am)
So Days of Future Past came out on dvd, I rewatched (am still battling for time to write the Charles and Raven story I want to), was hit by the urge to check out what everyone else had written in the meantime that's relevant to my interests, and came across this fantastic and intense Hank McCoy portrait. This is MCU Hank, his massive issues, his loyalty, bravery and devotion, his smartness his love for Raven and Charles, from childhood till after the end of Days of Future Past.

the boy who blocked his own shot (12263 words) by primavera
Chapters: 1/1
Fandom: X-Men: First Class (2011), X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014)
Rating: Mature
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Relationships: Hank McCoy/Charles Xavier, Hank McCoy/Raven | Mystique, Erik Lehnsherr/Charles Xavier
Characters: Hank McCoy, Charles Xavier, Raven | Mystique, Erik Lehnsherr, Sean Cassidy, Alex Summers
Additional Tags: Angst, Unrequited Love, Minor Character Death, Self-Esteem Issues, Self Confidence Issues, Self-Acceptance

He doesn't look so terribly different from all the other boys. It's simply a stroke of dumb, genetic luck that he's asked to join Mensa when he's eleven years old.

Having read the novel, I couldn't watch the movie unspoiled, so I can't tell you how it comes across to the unwary. The trailer, as opposed to many a trailer, has been very careful not to give away the big twists, so I expect the producers are counting on the fact a part of the audience has no idea. It's the type of story that provides a different type of reading/viewing pleasure the first and the second time around, and thus, I'll be careful with the spoilers, too, separating the review into unspoilery and spoilery comments.

First of all: it strikes me that if The Social Network felt like more imprinted by Aaron Sorkin, who wrote the script, than by Fincher as the director, this is even more true of Gone Girl, where the script is an adaption by Gillian Flynn of her novel by the same name. Or maybe I should say: David Fincher in both cases serves his writers well and adapts to them? (As opposed to the conventional view where the director's vision reshapes everything.) In this particular case, there is a gleeful malice to the dissection of both romance and suspense story tropes which I recognize from the novel and which came across to me as feminine. It's also interesting to compare this to Robert Altman movies because Altman is a director who specializes in presenting unlikeable characters which (not always, but often) nonetheless have interesting, often satiric stories, but his type of narrative comes across as masculine to me. (For that matter, the Sorkin/Fincher Social Network did, too, which also offered unlikeable characters - no, I didn't like Eduardo, either - in a fast paced narrative.) Gone Girl, by contrast, I couldn't see as an Altman movie. It would have weighted its narrative emphasis and view points differently, for starters. (And there'd have been lots of overlapping dialogue. :) )

Acting wise, Rosamund Pike does most of the heavy lifting; she has the trickier character to play, and she does it beautifully. (Also with great comic timing, which is more important than you'd think.) More in the spoilery section. Ben Affleck's role is actually pretty straightforward by comparison; it's what the audience (both on an in-story and a viewer level) projects into him that counts, and you can see why Fincher cast Affleck, who from his image could plausibly be either creepy wife killer or wrongful suspect and at any rate can do that aura of seediness of someone whose best days are gone and whose charm, if employed, has become somewhat smug routine. (For a poignant version of this, see Hollywoodland, where he plays murder victim and ex TV Superman George Reeves in the flashbacks. But George Reeves is tragic, and Nick, his character in Gone Girl, is anything but.) Everyone in the supporting roles has great fun, especially Tyler Perry as Nick's slick lawyer (a true comrade of Breaking Bad's Saul Goodman) and Kim Dickens as shrewd Detective Rhonda Boney, who investigates Amy's disappearance and possible murder. (While the novel is strictly divided between Nick and Amy as first person narrators, the movie leaves their povs briefly now and then to show us Rhonda and her sidekick investigating and exchanging views.) I also really liked Carrie Coon as Nick's twin sister (Mar)Go. Now I have a soft spot for sibling relationships anyway, but in the novel I couldn't quite believe in Go and Nick as twins who grew up together. Without a change in dialogue or narration, the movie sells me on them via the acting; Coon and Affleck have that kind of easy rapport complete with occasional exasparated/disgusted eyeroll on Go's part. David Clennon and Lisa Banes as Amy's parents have only a few scenes, but they're absolutely golden; Lisa Banes especially, in the scene where she ends her plea for people with information about Amy to contact them by naming the newly established website for this; the slight pause before she says "dot com" makes it a maliciously comic masterpiece.

Speaking of Amy's parents, succcessful children's authors famous for their book series Amazing Amy, while both novel and film obviously target the media and the way it builds up (and destroys) public hate and sympathy figures, it only occured to me during watching that Amy's parents and Amy's backstory also makes it into an entry in the " parents/guardians/adults-with-close-relationship-to-you who write children's books and use fictionalized versions of you in them really suck" chronicles (for fictional versions, see A.S. Byatt's The Children's Book; in real life, step forward, James Barrie and Lewis Carrol). By necessity, the film had to leave out some things and could, for examply, only briefly sketch and hint at at Nick's background with his parents, but Amy's background with her parents is really important to who Amy is, and the film manages to convey it all in a flashback scene to the latest Amazing Amy book launch which Amy takes Nick to early in their relationship. (The art department also had fun with the Amazing Amy book covers.)

Now, on to some observations about both film and book which spoil the various twists and ending, hidden beneath spoiler white: In absolutely every review of the book I've seen, it's mentioned that it has not one but two unreliable narrators. Welll, yes and no. Or rather: only until half of the novel. Nick's an unreliable narrator during the first half in as much as he omits some information and later casually drops bombshells like the one about having an affair with his student from the writing class in a "oh yeah, did I forget to mention this?" manner, which serves to make a first time reader suspicious what else he's not mentioning/leaving out; also, his memories of Amy as manipulative conflict with the image Amy creates of herself in the sections of her diary (covering the years from her meeting Nick till her disappearance) that serve as counterparts to Nick's present day narration, and in which he comes across as a budding textbook future wife killer. However, around half point of the novel we reach the first big twist: Amy's diary is a fake, fabricated by Amy along with a lot of other Nick-incriminating evidence in careful preparation of her disappearance in order to frame him for her murder. Nick, while an adulterous jerk, is not an abuser or murderer. From this point onwards, both Nick and Amy continue to narrate the novel in the present, with the suspense question going from "did Nick murder Amy?" to "will Nick manage to get Amy to come back in order to save himself?" and "will Amy get away with it?" After this twist, there is no indication either Nick or Amy are unreliable narrators, or that what they describe happening in the present isn't exactly what happens. Now, one of the things I was most curious about was how the film would manage Amy's diary entries. Because it's one thing for a book to declare that part of what you've just been reading was actually not true because it was written by one of the characters with an in-story purpose to mislead other characters, and another for a visual medium to declare that those scenes you just saw didn't really happen this way. The film pulls this off two fold; one, every Amy flashback in the first half is framed by a brief glimpse at Amy's hand writing the relevant diary entry, so that the audience is reminded what they see is straight from this diary, not from an "objective" pov; and two, Amy's voice over in the second part as well as a scene between Nick and Rhonda makes clear which parts of the Amy flashbacks really happened (all until they're both unemployed; the gameboy scene, the argument about having a child and Nick pushing Amy were faked), and which didn't. Most of all, though, it's Rosamund Pike's performance which holds it together. In the novel, the transition from vulnerable victim!Amy in the diary to gleeful sociopath!Amy in the present day is jarring - and meant to be, since the former was a creation of the later. In the movie, you can see Amy's capacity for faking a facade while being seethingly angry - at her parents - in the book launch scene, as well as her joy in games, verbal and mind games, in her early relationship with Nick. Conversely, in the second half when Amy is vengefully watching Nick being torn apart by the media on tv with a new aquaintance, she within a lie tells a true story of how she found out he was cheating on her, and here she comes across as genuinely hurt, sociopath or no sociopath. And as I said: being the child of novelists who kept rewriting her life into a more perfect version through her childhood works as a suggestion as to one (not the only) reason why Amy became the way she is. Mind you: the film ditched one of Amy's victims from the book, the girl from her school whom she framed as a Single White Female type. Which in the movie leaves us with the ex boyfriends and Nick, none of whom are inviting much sympathy - though Nick, by virtue of his sibling relationship with Go and by being a considerate cat owner even when framed for murder , invites just enough that one doesn't want to see him dead for something he didn't do -, so the main feeling when watching Amy framing them is amusement at her ruthless cleverness. (I was wondering whether casting Neil Patrick Harris as Desi would make us feel sorry for the guy, but no; he comes across as the proverbial Nice Guy and so creepily obsessed with Amy that one could almost hear Chicago's "He had it coming" when the film got to its sole actual murder.)

Another thing, to explain further what I meant about male and female narratives: one obvious movie to compare this to is Hitchcock's Vertigo, because Vertigo, too, has a mid-story twist/reveal showing that the male main character has actually been set up and that the person whom the audience had been watching for half the film never existed but was an artificial creation. But the next emotional twist in Vertigo is to feel sorry for Judy as she's forced to recreate the "dead" Madeline for Scottie, with the scene in which he makes her completely transform being one of the most emotionally violent on film without any physical violence whatsoever. Part of what makes this scene so memorable, so intensely uncomfortable and great is that while on one level you know what Scottie does to Judy is horrible, on the other you can understand why because the movie sold "Madeline" so well before to the audience, too. (And then there's the meta level of Hitchcock creating a Hitchcock blonde by tormenting an actress, obviously.) Judy is an instrument - first for the real Madeline's husband, then for Scottie -, not a player, and she dies for real at the end; despite the mid story reveal the audience remains in Scottie's pov.

Meanwhile, Amy is no one's instrument, she's the mastermind. Not an invulnerable one or infallible one; she underestimates, very much for snobbish reasons, the dangers of the couple next door in her hideout, plus Nick once he's figured out what exactly is going on successfully manages to manipulate her back to save his life. But she is the stringpuller, and the ultimate winner of the tale. After the mid story reveal of Amy's survival and true nature, the narrative doesn't invite you to feel sorry for her but to share in her glee as she makes her unfaithful husband squirm. In Vertigo, Judy's post-reveal submission (and Scottie going from sympathetic hero to oppressive obsessive) is the emotional twist. In Gone Girl, Nick does the submitting. And how.

Now advance publicity for this movie made a big deal about a changed ending. This must have been so the people who already read the book would go and see the movie anyway, because the ending is exactly the same, the meanest twist on a "happily ever after" since Altmann's The Player. And honestly, I can't imagine another one for this particular story. Amy being exposed and arrested, or Nick snapping and actually killing Amy would both feel like a let down by comparison. To misquote Jesse Pinkman from Breaking Bad, it's not that Amy and Nick deserve each other, but Amy and Nick deserve each other. Poor Go, though. And poor future spawn.

In conclusion: for this spoiled-by-the-novel viewer, the movie was a witty, biting and smoothly proceeding entertainment. Very watchable.
selenak: (Bruce and Tony by Corelite)
( Oct. 2nd, 2014 06:05 pm)
In which Sid's wife shows up and I love that events from the pilot still have ongoing consequences.

Also there is mind messing - or is there? )
selenak: (Richard III. by Vexana_Sky)
( Oct. 2nd, 2014 02:07 pm)
....we've got our first glimpse at CumberRichard:

So far so good. Now give me photos of Sophie Okenodo and Judi Dench as Margeret of Anjou and Cecily Neville respectively, internet!


selenak: (Default)


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