012. Wonder Woman

This post may take a couple of days to create, as I want to do this movie justice, so I’ll endeavour to keep the normal posts going and just backdate this one, but we all know my resolve has the structural integrity of a house of cards.

So my first thought when I saw that The AV Club’s Alex Dowd was reviewing Wonder Woman were “well, here we go”. There are two possible explanations for the fact that within the last three to six months, A.A. Dowd has provided just one film a grade higher than a B+, and I don’t think the most plausible is that “he is provided with the shitty movies”.

But don’t get me wrong, I understand the compulsion to nitpick, it’s a more valid and clinical way to treat reviews, right? You emphasise what you hate in order to elevate the status of your approval. Because if you abhor everything, then simply by approving, your respect is more profound. Of course, I get it, I’m hip to the groove of young white boys on the internet. I know how this works.

Largest eye-roll ever.

Of course this review is not about Alex Dowd, it’s about Wonder Woman, but as the premise of the film is built on a trusting and optimistic disposition, I believe it benefits the viewer to also be a little open minded. Although I also really don’t believe you need to be to be impressed by this film.

One final note about reviewers and not this review: I have not found a single female-written review of this movie, although admittedly so far my search has been confined to preferred media discussion providers (holla AV Club, New Yorker and Isolated Nation). While this would not normally bother me, and I prefer the unbiased account of film for equality’s sake, I feel that taking into consideration the importance of the first high grossing comic-book movie starring a female protagonist, as well as the impact of Patty Jenkins as the first female director, is a significant step in discussing this film, because while it was not made primarily FOR women, it’s sure as hell going to help us.

So, I don’t pretend to be on a similar level to any aforementioned reviewers because I am brand new at this and there’s a high chance I don’t know what I’m talking about. But if you wanted a girl’s opinion, you’re gonna get it.

EDIT: I have since found a review by The Guardian’s Wendy Ide, which is well written and unspecific on gender politics but does address that this film is great for further female protagonists. You can read that review here at The Guardian’s film review.


 

wonderwoman1

Wonder Woman (2017)
Released 2 June 2017
Action, Adventure, Fantasy, DC Universe
Starring Gal Gadot & Chris Pine
Directed by Patty Jenkins
Written by Zack Snyder, Allan Heinberg
& Jason Fuchs
Based on the Original DC Universe
Comic by William Moulton Marston


I want to start this review by talking about the negatives, partly because they are the minority, but essentially because I want this post to culminate in positivity and optimism, just as I believe the film does.

CONS:

The stylistic approach to special effects in this movie, in particular the pacing changes throughout fight scenes, seemed gratuitous and distracting. It’s not a novel approach, but in this case it was poorly rendered, and reminded me of pumping power-up bars to build for a boost in video games. The fighting itself also seemed inefficient and clunky, however I could be projecting because I don’t “get” fight scenes. Like, honestly, Game of Thrones could be so much shorter??

PROS:

With the possible exception of Captain America, Diana of Themyscira is our first superhero with something more important than physical strength or expensive weaponry, she has empathy. It is that, more than any other characteristic which will make this DC Universe movie stand-out above all others, especially among women. Patty Jenkins et al. have provided the world with not only our first significant female superhero, capable, strong and feminine, but the first superhero with primitive humanitarian instincts. To put it another way, they have provided us with a mother.

Rhys Tarling, of Isolated Nation, put it best when he said: “Part of what makes Wonder Woman the best, most distinguished DCEU film yet, is that its protagonist, unlike say Ben Affleck‘s Batman or Henry Cavill‘s Superman, is somebody who’s not an angry boring dickhead.”

Now, I can talk about how the colouration and costuming during the “the war is that way” scene was perfectly created to convey a sense of depression and anxiety, that grey is used to inform the audience that the characters on screen are experiencing a bad time. I can describe a multitude of ways that pacing and camera angles are used to connote and impress certain notions and feelings into an audience. I can use words and pictures to explain film techniques until the cows come home.

But that’s not what this blog has ever been, it’s not who I am and I have no interest in convincing someone to watch a movie because the white balance is on point.

My posts have always been about stories, either those told by someone else, or myself, and I believe that Wonder Woman is a story that we needed to see. She’s not “an angry boring dickhead”, she’s the first superhero to, however naively, care about the inherent good in humanity. In a time when we see and experience so much negative press, in a time when it’s entirely conceivable that maybe humans are the root of all evil, we were given a feminist movie that portrays the necessity and sincerity of synergy between the genders.

While moviemaking involves a myriad of technical skills, storytelling is about making people feel a certain way, and Wonder Woman did just fine at that. It is a movie that made me feel empowered, strong and just maybe as though hoping for more strong female leads was not a hopeless task.

x The Girl Who Loves Stories

PS: in case this review is not technical enough for you, or if it seems disjointed – which it is because I wrote it across two nights and completely lost my train of thought – here’s what my friend Mick had to say about it:

“My first sentence last night was ‘It’s easily the best DC film since The Dark Knight Rises, if not since The Dark Knight.’ I really like the period setting and the fact that it’s not as cheesy as Captain America’s scenes around the same era. The length of the movie isn’t for everyone, but I liked how there was time for plenty of character development, it covers so much at a good depth compared to so many other superhero films, that spread it over a series of films and crossovers.”

– the ever logical, Mick Hawkins

010 & 011: It’s easier this way…

Following Friday, the weekend became a bit of a lag in the media department, but there are a few things to check off first… or, all at the same time right now before I go to bed.

11th & 12th June, 2017

TV SERIES: The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt

The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt – S01E01 & E02

Kimmy Schmidt is a show I began watching last year about this time, probably as season two was launching on Netflix, just as season three launched last week and I started season two. With my very favourite opening sequence, and absolute fire from Tina Fey, this show has a very special spot in my heart despite my difficulties following the dialogue for many episodes at a time. Kimmy Schmidt has been my “dinner” show, since I decided that more recent or new series should really be incorporated into the watching schedule. But there’ll be more about this after I see a few more episodes.

TV SERIES: Parenthood

Parenthood S01E02 & S01E03

BOOK: Illuminae by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff

I started this book as a new “alternating current and classic novel” system as well. I haven’t read past the first dozen pages as I’ve been trying to catch up on Parenthood but the style – which incorporates different points of view as well as different text/image formats – is intriguing and I’m interested to find out more this week.

NHL Playoffs: Pittsburgh Penguins v Nashville Predators – Game Six

Ahhh, what a series. I’m not really keen to discuss details about this game as it only happened yesterday, meaning not everyone has watched yet. But what an absolutely inconsequential and shitty/boring/stupid end to the series. I missed an entire period trying to find a place to watch it, and I still missed nothing. I’ve definitely enjoyed watching playoffs hockey this season though and can’t wait to both play more hockey, and watch more next season when I can follow my team (Minnesota Wild) from the beginning.


Anyway, those entries have been building for days, I’m glad to get them off my chest. Now to correct the bunch of typos I’ve made in old posts that I found from researching this one…

x Casey

008. Natalie Port[beach]man Black Swans

Last weekend to celebrate W[estern] A[ustralia] Day, my favourite hockey people and I dressed up as the Natalie Port[beach]man Black Swans, which informed my choice for this week’s “Friday #the1001project” movie. I also read about four of Aesop’s fables, but don’t worry, I can predict that tomorrow will be the wind-up post for that one finally.

blackswanhockey

June 9, 2017

BOOK: Complete Fables, by Aesop

Tomorrow, I promise. Seriously, because it’s already “tomorrow” and I’ve finished it.

MOVIE: Black Swan (2010)

“See also: ‘Mental illness in film'”
Wikipedia

“Black Swan is a 2010 American psychological thriller-horror film directed by Darren Aronofsky, written by Mark Heyman, Andrew Heinz and John McLaughlin, and starring Natalie Portman, Vincent Cassel, Mila Kunis and Winona Ryder. The plot revolves around a production of Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake ballet by a prestigious New York City company. The production requires a ballerina to play the innocent and fragile White Swan, for which the committed dancer Nina (Portman) is a perfect fit, as well as the dark and sensual Black Swan, which are qualities better embodies by the new arrival Lily (Kunis). Nina is overwhelmed by a feeling of immense pressure when she finds herself competing for the part, causing her to lose her tenuous grip on reality and descend into a living nightmare.” Thanks Wikipedia for a more concise synopsis than I am capable of currently.

Black Swan has always been a movie that, considering my … concerns … with anxiety during the past few years, has seemed like a bad idea to watch, basically. Despite my infatuation with Mila Kunis, and my appreciation of Natalie Portman in movies that don’t include Star Wars, no attraction has counteracted my fear of the subsequent mental breakdown. But lately I’ve even been able to watch Freaks and Geeks without a panic attack, so I’m obviously growing as a person.

That’s not to say I had an uninteresting response to the film as this morning I woke up ready to kick life’s ass and didn’t even eat any carbs today. Emotionally I think Portman’s Portrayal of Nina struck a chord with me, the first person to admit that I am meek and timid in regards to self-confidence. You cannot be a boss-ass-bitch if you are concerned with being in control 100% of the time and even though that’s not entirely the point of this movie, it’s my personal moral for the week. Also: be hot and crazy and you’ll get everything you want, basically.

Cinematically, I thought this movie was well done. I grimaced in several places and that’s how you know a psychological thriller-horror movie is horribly thrilling, I guess. I once saw Red Shoes in a small hotel room in Kalbarri, and Black Swan recalled similar aesthetic and thematic motifs and, similarly, communicates the leads’ anxiety well. Aronofsky used camera angles and movement to simulate the movie’s rhythm of dance, and the striking colour palette well represented the shifts from naivety to proactivity on the protagonist’s part. And it’s pedantic, but the use of phonetic similarities in Nina/Lily – much like Odette/Odile – make the word-nerd in me happy.

Overall I really enjoyed Black Swan, wasn’t freaked out at all and woke up this morning ready to achieve anything. Let’s hope the similarities between myself and Nina end there.

x Casey

007. One Week

June 8, 2017

Thursday was another nondescript day, nothing new; same same same…

PODCAST: Harry Potter and the Sacred Text

Episode 6: Expectations: The Journey From Platform Nine and Three Quarters (Book 1, Chapter 6)

BOOK: Complete Fables, by Aesop

x Casey

006. Remember Cedric Diggory

As we reach the end of this first week of the “media diet”, and following several days of scarcity, yesterday I finally found some content I wanted to discuss. But first a quick note on productivity since the inception of this idea.

Since beginning this project last Thursday I have been the most productive I have been since February where #the1001project is concerned. Finishing one book, one movie and a tv season doesn’t seem like much, but I’ve been overcommitting to life outside my house for a while now, and it’s time I took it easy and went back to the project I enjoy most of all. That said, I have also been branching out with podcasts and music this week too, an endeavour that provides me with insight and entertainment respectively. I’ve also been enjoying the NHL playoffs, though I’m yet to see my first catfishing.

But without further ado, here’s what I listened to and read yesterday:

June 7, 2017

PODCAST: Gilmore Guys: Lauren Graham

Gilmore Guys is finally over. I remember listening to my first episodes while entering data about botanical specimens at Maia and being instantly impressed and inspired. For the past two years this has been my answer when anyone asks how I can type long strings of letters and numbers so efficiently and enjoyably, and to have passed the end of the series is a little surreal. Through their genuine humour, backdoor knowledge of improvisation, film, television and theatre, and their demonstrable work ethic in a notoriously difficult and inauspicious industry, Kevin and Demi have taught me not only technical concepts, optimism and perseverance, but also that entertainment can be made from… pretty much anything.

In this final episode of Gilmore Guys, the boys “gab” with Lauren Graham who is also an exceptional inspiration. While the final episode would have been great as a return to roots farewell to the series, it feels as though full circle has been achieved. It wasn’t classic Gilmore Guys, but Graham’s harmonies for “Where You Lead” were on point.

BOOK: Complete Fables, by Aesop

I’m nearly finished with this, I swear.

TV SERIES: Parenthood

Parenthood, S01E01

After listening to the final episode of Gilmore Guys, I was left wanting more Lauren Graham, and since Mae Whitman and Dax Shepard are also in that show, and I had heard great things – not to mention, it’s helpfully a #the1001project show – I decided to watch Parenthood. I have only watched the pilot at this point, but my thoughts are thus:

  • This is a sweet show and I like Lauren Graham’s character even though I can foresee future frustration with that branch of the family.
  • I’m interested to see these variations on the nuclear family – kind of like Modern Family but with a more serious base.
  • I just know I’m going to spend a lot of time in tears because of this show.

So I’m looking forward to continuing! Although I’ve also picked up The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt as my dinner show because I’ve decided that I need to focus on new media to a greater extent or this cycle of missing out will just continue forever.

PODCAST: Harry Potter and the Sacred Text – Being a Stranger: Diagon Alley (Book 1, Chapter 5)

This podcast episode, more than anything else I’ve read or watched or listened to, has been the most influential media I’ve exposed myself to over the past week.

Harry Potter and the Sacred Text is a podcast created by Vanessa Zoltan, Casper ter Kuile & Ariana Nedelman with the intention of reading the Harry Potter series as though it were a sacred text, reading the books “not just as novels, but as instructive and inspirational texts that will teach us about our own lives”.

I initially encountered Harry Potter and the Sacred Text several months ago when one of my best “internet” friends Kelly suggested it to our “Old HP Pals” Facebook group. I listened to the first few episodes available at the time and while vaguely interested, I never remembered to catch up when further episodes were released. Now, one year after it began, the podcast is almost finished with book three but I decided to pick up where I left off and listen to episode five where Vanessa and Casper read “Diagon Alley” through the lens of “being a stranger”.

In the opening minutes of this episode, Casper reveals that they had recorded the audio just days before the attack at Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida. Following this, he explains that while many would turn to prayer in times like these, for many listeners that may not be an option. Instead Vanessa repeats Dumbledore’s speech from the end of Goblet of Fire as a call to reflection and an alternative for those who felt more comfortable with a different option.

Remember Cedric. Remember, if the time should come when you have to make a choice between what is right and what is easy, remember what happened to a boy who was good, and kind, and brave, because he strayed across the path of Lord Voldemort. Remember Cedric Diggory.

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, by JK Rowling

While I have seen internet jokes in the past about Harry Potter as religion, or gospel and even particular reference to the series as a sacred text for certain people, I have always considered that too far a line to cross for even my most adored stories. But as someone who has always considered herself to be, if not spiritual herself, then at least empathetic to any belief in which all are equal and deserving of kindness, there are of course lessons within Harry Potter that speak to that part of me.

While I don’t consider Harry Potter to be a spiritual text, the literary analysis and religious critique, as well as the general lessons of kindness, blessing and thoughtfulness that Vanessa and Casper share through this podcast have been refining the way I understand religion and spirituality, something I had dismissed long ago as not for me.

While I’m not saying Harry Potter is my bible – I feel like that’s a strange precedent – I do appreciate the intent to see positive instruction in obscure places, and encourage anyone to listen to this podcast for an alternative take on structured religion.

x Casey

005. [Insert Title Here]??

I spent most of Tuesday in bed with the flu, so it wasn’t a particularly productive day all round, but I did get to watch #pensvpreds game four, finish season one of The Big Bang Theory and work my way through a chunk of Aesop’s Fables while in a cold medicine haze.

NHL Playoffs: Pittsburgh Penguins v. Nashville Predators – Game Four

Remember how I said Smashville brought it last game? Well, I was admittedly in a hazy stupor for 90% of game four, but it seems like they ramped it up even further, and the defending champs have to be shaking themselves now. No spoilers because I know at least a dozen people who haven’t seen the game yet, but Gaudreau more like oh my Gaud, you can reau reau reau my boat.

TV Series: The Big Bang Theory

The Big Bang Theory S01E16 & S01E17

Book: Complete Fables, by Aesop

Still going…

x Casey

004. Go Polar Bears

Some days are going to be fairly light on content, and while today I have already watched more than enough to talk about in tomorrow’s blog, yesterday was a different story. After finally submitting to the flu after weeks of “just keep moving”, and losing the afternoon to the WA Day street hockey tournament, I only managed to get through a few of Aesop’s Fables and several nondescript episodes of The Big Bang Theory. 

Book: Complete Fables, by Aesop

Television Series: The Big Bang Theory

The Big Bang Theory, S01E13 to S01E15

x Casey

003. In the Wee Small Hours

Yesterday was a light day on fictional media at least, with hockey to fit in I only got about fifteen minutes of Aesop’s read, but I also decided to begin working through 1001 Modern Albums You Must Hear, and of course it was Pens v Preds game three, so the day was not entirely empty.

NHL Playoffs 2017: Pittsburgh Penguins v Nashville Predators – Game Three

With everything going on this past few weeks, I’ve missed the first two games of the series, but the Preds b r o u g h t i t yesterday, so I’m happy that’s the one I saw. To be honest, this is my first season watching playoffs, but I’d be keen for the under-catfish to take this one out – even if I do want to have Sidney Crosby’s babies.

Book: Complete Fables, by Aesop

Album: In The Wee Small Hours – Frank Sinatra

For years people have been telling me I don’t understand music and I’ve sort of leant in to that, not having an opportunity or particular reason to indulge – you don’t really learn things from music, you just feel them – so when I get asked if 1001 Modern Albums is one of the “lists” I usually shrug it off with the disclaimer “no one has succeeded re: me and music before, and you won’t be the first”. But yesterday I figured YOLO and re-established my Apple music (that right there should be indication enough, since it’s not ~SPOTIFY~) subscription as a baby step towards appreciation. This is not going to be easy for me, so I wouldn’t be holding any breath, but this post, and probably tomorrow’s, was brought to you by Frank Sinatra.

x Casey