Tuesday, November 17, 2015

LiveJournal facsimile blog, part 4372

I'm in that weird ennui-space again and it's self-indulgent to write about it, AGAIN, but I will, because I have to. Because if I don't type these words out of my body, I might self-destruct.

I deal with depression. Big deal.

"Nobody likes their jobs, nobody got enough sleep...just suck up, suck up and be nice."

Reverting to lyrics to express my angst? Check.

I deal with anxiety, dyspraxia, autism, migraines. PMDD. Whatever. We are all steeping in mental illness and we all need validation for our pain. Who the fuck cares?

But the fact remains that I am unhappy. I am unhappy with the way things have transpired in my "career" and I don't know what to do about it or where I want to go with it. I don't know how much to care. And I am so sick of caring what people think of me. I'm unraveling, but I won't admit it outside this very public space of admitting it. I'll HATE that I wrote these words tomorrow.

Mostly, I've stopped drinking which I think is why all these things are more salient at the moment. They're rearing their heads for me to figure out how to confront them. Mostly, I've also stopped moving, doing, anything. This is probably a depressive episode. Lots of people have had this same issue, are sharing this same problem right this minute, as I am.

I need to funnel my propensity to daydream and live entirely inside my own head into art. I know I do, but inertia claims me as her loyal subject. This is actually a really big change from yesterday wherein I washed my hair, put on eyeliner, and listened to Chelsea Wolfe all day. Today I barely put on pants and went for a walk.

The worst part about depression (aside from all of it?) is the guilt. I feel guilty that I'm indulging myself...letting myself steep in the stew of my self-loathing. It is crippling, but I'm doing it anyway. I've already stepped onto the Sadness Train. There's no going back now. I just have to wait it out. Wait it out. Listen to music. Take a walk. Watch "The Office". WALLOW.

Wait it out and
ALLOW it to pass...

I wallow quite well, in fact.

At the root of the listlessness is a situation that feels like a lack of control. I've lost control over my job because I've let it all just be as it is, like a river passing by me as I sit on the bank. That's a great way to meditate and it has even worked out really well in life most of the time, but not right now. Right now I am angry and I want to run. My solution last week was to separate myself from it emotionally, and that worked well for me then. But it's not a permanent solution.

Inside my head, when I'm not having nightmares or feeling guilty about work, I am a mythological creature that rules a magical world no one but those I invite can inhabit. The older I get, the less time I spend in my magical world. That stops now. Fuck you and your adult world. I choose oblivion because fantasy has kept me alive for 33 years now. It is my most favorite friend.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Today was.

"Why are you looking for a harmony?
There is harmony in everything."

I've had a very strange day. What started out frantic anxiety soon dissolved into an apathy so pervasive that I almost reveled in it. I felt a blissful calm as I looked upon the world, removed. I could not seem to care about anything at all. Needles of emotion crept back in by evening.

Then I listened to the new Grimes album twice in a row. The lyrics are already up on AZLyrics, so I read them and I felt like myself again...not because of Grimes necessarily, but because I was immersing myself in something that came from creativity and light.

I miss the person I used to be before the library...not that the library made me any kind of way necessarily. It's maybe that adulthood settled into me at the same time that I began there. 

I used to be quite simple. I experienced life in real time and I didn't care what anyone thought about my reactions to it. I am a simple girl, yet I tried to appear complex. Why? Because others do that?

With the term "adult" came anxiety, worry, thinking thinking thinking. Thoughts so plentiful that they crippled me into a state of inaction. I stopped trying to see beyond its mass...and maybe fell asleep. 

That post-storm mist is finally dissipating and I don't like what I've become. I've become this thing that worries and doesn't stim and doesn't live and doesn't move and doesn't dance. My ways of coping have always been my own. Why did I start using conventional methods? 

As a child, I created a structure all by myself that I lived quite happily within. I had it all figured out by age 15. I knew how to regulate myself. I got so lost.

I appear distant and unfriendly when I take care of myself, perhaps even vacant. I am tired of trying to be this congenial creature. I'm more like a Darcy than a Jane. I'm more Gahan than Gore. I'm so tired of being nervous and surrounded by people. 

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

I've been thinking about women in horror...

How we rule as villains. How women are more often protagonists in horror than we are in any other genre of film (besides maybe romantic comedy?)...

Suddenly, I get it. It's right there in front of me, actually. The reason I love horror is because of the presence of women. I like them. I like them a lot. I like looking at them. I like being one. I like the delicious evil they can deliver while wearing the shit out of a vinyl jumpsuit. I used to think it was mostly attraction, but it's power. We have it in horror.

But, we are ONLY allowed to have power within very specific contexts. We are allowed to take this power in horror because this is a space in which we scream and run for our lives. If we succeed in NOT getting raped by overwhelming monsters and fear, we get to live and maybe look like a hero.

Conversely, the villainous women haven't escaped this violence. They've turned it upon their aggressors. Y'all want the dominatrix, but only when she comes with a menu of torture methods YOU can choose from. Y'all want the chick in the leather jacket, but only when she's got the tortured past that makes her receptive to a man that's the minimum amount of nice to her, like maybe he pays for a dinner and doesn't hit her the first time she "talks back". What a MAN.

When I talk about how much I love Drusilla or Akasha or Julie or Carrie, I don't know that in a world of equality I would enjoy the havoc they wreak quite as much. The blood and the telekinetic fire is a catharsis for the injustices suffered daily by the everyday woman. The onscreen vengeance of a man-hating villainous woman is catnip to me in a way that would make a person think I hate men (I don't.), or that I've been wronged by men (I have. I really really have.).

Bad girls aren't, as is commonly thought, who the good girls wish they could be. They are who we wish we didn't have to create in order to cope. The real woman is not the perfect girl-next-door or the bad-whore-down-the-street. She's a flawed and complex person somewhere else on that continuum. We're all open books, but YOU don't know which page to turn to, do you, do you?

We can take up space if we're exceptional, like Sigourney Weaver or Meryl Streep. We can take up space if we're attractive, but this is a transient space that is constantly threatening to close in upon us. Meanwhile, men are allowed to be complex and awful or complex and good, granted big spaces either way, just for the existence of the protuberances between their legs.

Can you imagine a life in which every movement you make is scrutinized? A world wherein a simple act like pulling hair up off your face in public invites comments from strangers? A society in which walking down a street is an invitation of harassment? Can you imagine there NEVER being a time in your life when some man doesn't expect something from you, whether that be kindness, sex, or time? This is the path women tread every goddamned minute we share space with men.

So maybe we want to set you on fire with our minds...just a little. Would you blame us?

We are not virgins and we are not whores because we are not defined by whether or not men have invaded our spaces. We will be taking our spaces back and that's going to look ugly at first. We're going to have to use elbows and knees. Men are going to react with cruelty to take us back down, but I think we're collectively too fed up to go back now.

This is why girl-villains are important, because women have a right to be angry and we have a right to take up space. Men should consider themselves lucky we're getting our aggressions out through fiction. It won't always be this easy for men. For now, we're letting you live.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Top 5 Horror Heroines.

Let's take a moment to honor some women that make my enjoyment of horror movies possible. It's time to give the good girls of horror a standing ovation. These ladies saved the day/the world/themselves from the terrifying situations they faced. Here are my top 5 heroines.

"I'm into survival."
#5 -- Nancy Thompson of "A Nightmare on Elm Street". She woke HERSELF up from nightmares that killed everyone else and defeated that mean old Freddy Krueger without ANY of the men in her life helping her out.

#4 -- Sidney Prescott of "Scream". She's got PTSD and she still snarks and outsmarts the killer.

#3 -- Alice from "Resident Evil". She's stylish, badass, and a woman that employs both an economy of words and actions. I dig that a lot.

#2 -- Ellen Ripley from "Alien". She was against the whole "bring the alien on the ship" thing from the very beginning. She was the only professional in the whole crew and the only one that survives all four movies. Do. NOT. Fuck. With Ripley. or her cat.

"I'm the chosen one...and I CHOOSE to be shopping."
#1 -- Buffy Summers from "Buffy the Vampire Slayer". Ok, so I didn't watch this movie as part of my horror movie reviews but the movie is technically the beginning of this character and horror is part of the Buffy brand. It counts, I tell you! No one is better than Buffy. She eclipses genre and pop culture medium!

Monday, November 2, 2015

Horror Movie Review: Cabin in the Woods

The Cabin in the Woods (2011) is a meta-analysis of the entire horror genre. It's funny, self-aware, and gruesome. Lots of spoilers ahead as per usual, but this time, if you haven't seen the movie (and you should if you like meta-horror or Joss Whedon) DON'T read on. This movie is best viewed without spoilers.

I was really really super-psyched about this movie when it came out because it is a horror written by Joss Whedon. I knew he would subvert the genre and flip it on its head. He did and this is a really great horror film, but it also disappointed me this time around...just a bit.

We have the traditional horror formula here. Hot dude and hot chick are in a relationship, stoner dude, smart dude, and "virgin" girl protagonist. The film has interesting ways of letting you know that these are out-dated archetypes and if these are the rules, perhaps it's time to break the rules and start over. Buuuuut, they still employ these outdated stereotypes of horror. We still see gross displays of the over-sexed blonde, including her topless. That disappointed me. It's not like you HAVE to have it. They could have shown the reaction to it without showing it, if they wanted to make the point that it's part of the process.

I do like that the movie ultimately threw the gauntlet of horror at you and then blew it up. Like see, we can be done with this formula now, ok? But again, it used the formula to make the movie that thinks the formula should be blown up, sooooo....

I don't know what to think. The meta of horror was done better in "Scream" without showing boobs. The music is pretty good in this film, but the score wasn't even noticeable. Joss has terrible taste in music for the most part though, so that wasn't a surprise. All three of the boy-protagonists are hot, so that's a bonus you don't normally get in horror.

I enjoy that the take-away is supposed to be a big reset button on horror as we know it, but I didn't enjoy it as much this time around as I did the first couple of times watching it.

I would have liked seeing the personalities of the characters a bit more before they were brainwashed. I would have liked this movie a LOT more if they had simply treated the "over-sexed blonde" character with a little more respect. They didn't have to be so overt. We know this character already. Don't hit us over the head with it. AND it was Joss! The film would have benefited from his patented flip-the-gender technique here. We could have seen Hemsworth's character being the oversexed one. Wouldn't that have been nice? He could have been the "whore" archetype! Damn it, why didn't they do that?

Other random notes:
*Joss. Why you gotta always have a big fuck-off snake?
*Sigourney!!! How perfect was that moment when she showed up? No. One. Else. Could have been that character.

If you're a horror aficionado, this movie should be up your alley, because it makes fun of everything you love while still DOING the thing you love. If you want to be genuinely freaked out by your horror, this probably isn't for you. Other than that, pretty great horror film.

Aesthetics: 3

Plot: 4

Characters: 4

Score: 3

Treatment of Women/Minorities: 3.5

Rewatchability: 3


Horror Movie Review: The Haunting

"...a house that was born bad."
The Haunting (1963) inspired a lot of haunted house horror. It includes several female characters, passes the Bechdel Test, and even includes a lesbian character. Its imagery is intriguing with composed shots and decadent set-pieces. It included some snarkiness, particularly from the character of the probably-lesbian Theo. There's not really any sexism present here either, which is very surprising for 1963.

The two main female character's relationship to one another is interesting. They yell at each other, share sexual tension and help comfort one another all in the space of a minute effortlessly. There's almost zero passive-aggressiveness between them, besides the shade thrown by Theo frequently. I really like Theo.

Beyond that, I didn't find this movie scary or the main character Nell's psychological downfall particularly intriguing, and I think that's what the film is mostly about. I can see why this film is considered a classic in horror, but I probably won't be watching it again. I had to buy the DVD to see it, and I'll be donating it to the library, so look for it on the shelf to check out in the next month or so if you're interested in seeing it.

Aesthetics: 2.5

Plot: 3

Characters: 3

Score: 2.5

Treatment of Women/Minorities: 3.5

Rewatchability: 1


Saturday, October 31, 2015

Horror Movie Review: Carrie

Carrie (1976 & 2013) is THE horror icon for me. I saw Brian DePalma's version (1976) back in middle school and immediately rechecked it all summer from the library (I guess they allowed multiple renewals back then?) and showed it to my friends one by one. I think they all thought I was as damaged as Carrie White herself for loving this movie so much at the age of 12. That is a little messed up, isn't it? I have seen the original movie probably more times than any other film. I made a Carrie-inspired Barbie back in high school using corn syrup. She was very sticky. All of this is leading up to the fact that I just want to let y'all know that I am very biased when comparing these two movies. I have seen the '70s version like 25 times at least and the new version I've seen only twice. Also, this comparison is for people that have seen both films mostly, because my comparisons are mostly about details within. That said, here's my comparison between these two films.

They both pass the Bechdel Test almost immediately. This film is about the antagonistic relationship women have to one another in our women-fearing culture. The casting and performances from both films are pretty great, but Spacek's Carrie wins for me. Chloe Grace Moretz is an intriguing actress, but she is too pretty to be Carrie and she just doesn't bring the menacing enough for me. I enjoy Julianne Moore's performance as Carrie's mother in the new version. It has a bit more nuance and you feel more sympathy for her. I don't like how controlling Carrie became to her mother in the new version, though I get it. The sympathy Sue still felt for Carrie at the end of the new version seems really unjustified after all the brutal murders Carrie just performed. I don't think Sue would have tried to help her at that point. She would have been too scared.

I enjoy the added scene of Margaret giving birth to Carrie alone, not knowing she was pregnant and almost killing baby Carrie right after she was born. I feel like that's exactly what happened. The newer film serves for me as a retcon for the old film. I will be able to watch the old film now inserting the details from the 2013 version that I liked in my mind, enhancing a movie I've loved for two decades now.

I have a bit of a problem with the casting of Tommy and Sue. They're so vanilla and boring-looking to me. I prefer the original definitely here. I prefer the aesthetics of the '70s much more than the aesthetics of 2013, so I missed the visuals in general from the first one while watching this one. It's a total bonus that we don't have to endure John Travolta in the new version, though. There are a few people of color (two even with names!) in the new version, though, so major points for that!

Ok, let's compare the bloodbaths at the end. The blood is more realistic in the new version, which is one of the only parts of this scene I prefer to the original. The biggest part that bothers me about the new version is Carrie's movements and expressions. In the old version, she is wide-eyed, robotic, and emotionlessly ruthless as she kills. She walks slowly with her arms rigid at her sides. The killing is coming entirely from her mind. No movement is necessary. I think that makes her scarier. In the new version...first of all, they do an instant-replay of the blood hitting Carrie. That is SUPER cheeseball, and I don't like it. Carrie in the new version used her hands a lot, which I could forgive if she held them tightly in a way that makes it feel like she's really causing the damage with them. I don't really believe Moretz's Carrie is a tortured soul, despite what I've seen her go through. She just looks too innocent or something here.

I think the new version trimmed a bit of the fat from the old one in this scene, however. The old version's scene at the prom after Carrie gets hit with the blood is longer than it needs to be. The editing in the new version during this scene is tighter. But, Carrie's ruthlessness once she leaves the prom in the newer version is a bit much. That slow-motion-Chris-going-through-the-windshield thing is where the film really loses me. I think the car-flip in the original is a much better way to show Chris' death. I do love a girl-villain walking away from fire she's caused, however, and both of these films have it. I think the main issue I have with the destruction Carrie causes in the new version is the fact that she's displaying emotion as she does it. She looks like she's cognizant of the terror she's causing and I felt that the wreckage caused by the original Carrie was more like a trance...a blackout of destruction she wakes up from when she goes home to her mother. Carrie in the new version awakes from this trance in the same tub-scene, but she never looked catatonic, so I don't believe it. I like the catatonia of the original Carrie much better. I can't enjoy the killing if she is aware she's doing it and is enjoying it. Not sure what that's about, but there it is. There are some great little moments in the new version's ending but I grew up on the old version, so nothing could ever eclipse it for me.

Most of my criticisms come down to performance. I actually think some aspects of Moretz's Carrie could have been added to Spacek's. Honestly, this remake is quite good and both movies are worth your time if you like female villains in horror. I'd say choose the old version if you like the aesthetics of the '70s and choose the new version if you're into more realistic blood and Julianne Moore and if you REALLY hate John Travolta, because he is at his most annoying in the original.

Carrie (1976)
Carrie (1976) -- 

Aesthetics/Visual Effects: 4

Plot: 4

Characters: 3.5

Score: 3.5

Treatment of Women/Minorities: 3

Rewatchability: 5


Carrie (2013)
Carrie (2013) --

Aesthetics/Visual Effects: 3.5

Plot: 4

Characters: 3

Score: 2

Treatment of Women/Minorities: 3.5

Rewatchability: 3.5


Horor Movie Review: Young Frankenstein

Young Frankenstein (1974) is a perfectly fun parody of the "Frankenstein" movies. It's a good movie to have in the background while you're doing something else. I found that paying close attention to the movie for this review caused me to become restless and bored. It has its very quotable moments (mostly from Madeline Kahn), but it is mostly a fluffy rip-off of "Bride of Frankenstein". I was surprised to find that it's from 1974. I think the comedy feels more '80s to me, so it was ahead of its time.

Without Gene Wilder and Madeline Kahn, this movie would have lost me. It's the kind of film that benefits from repetition, but again, as long as you're not paying your FULL attention to it. I think it could have really benefitted from being about 25 minutes shorter.

Here were the only notes I took on this film:

Love Gene's mascara! What a proper queen, he is.
"Taffeta darling!"
Bechdel Test passed- 1hr and 26min in

This review is making it sound like I don't like the movie. Quite the contrary. It is a very quotable play-while-making-Halloween-crafts-or-putting-on-Halloween-costume movie. It's fun. I love Madeline Kahn so much and Gene Wilder's hair is on FLEEK in this movie!

Aesthetics/Visual Effects: 2.5

Plot: 2.5

Characters: 2.5

Score: 2.5

Treatment of Women/Minorities: 2

Rewatchability: 4


Friday, October 30, 2015

Horror Movie Review: Scream

Scream (1996) is THE horror film of the '90s. Straight-up slasher film with meta-commentary on slasher films built into every crevice and a female protagonist that breaks all the "rules" of horror and still outsmarts the killer. Bonus: it's 1996 so you get the fashion, ambience, and music of 1996!

It passes the Bechdel Test even before two MEN talk to one another. I used to find Sidney's PTSD slightly annoying but now I totally get it and I don't really think she was over the top about it. The women aren't overly sexualized in the film. Even the more sexual Tatum is an attentive friend to Sidney, isn't portrayed as stupid, and doesn't shame Sidney for being shut-down. There are three competent women in this movie and even the opening scene with Drew Barrymore doesn't portray her as being overly stupid for getting killed. There's a lot of victim-blaming in horror, portraying women as stupid and therefore maybe deserving to die, but Craven obviously wanted to subvert that trope in this film. I really really like that. I loved this film way before I called myself a feminist.

Dewey with the ice cream cone: one of the best sight-gags ever in horror.
No people of color, though. Man, where are the people of color in horror?

An interesting flip on the only-virgins-live trope in this film is that not only does Sidney have sex and then live, but immediately after the sex, the smoke seems to clear for her and she starts to put everything together, almost like the sex cleared her head. That sort of makes it sound like she needed the D, but it was really more subtle than that. It was like the sex didn't phase her at all. She didn't look guilty or super in-love as a result of it. She just put her clothes back on and continued with a conversation as if it wasn't a big deal. Having sex for the first time really isn't a big deal, of course, so it was nice to see it portrayed that way in a film. Judging by his boob-grab technique, I'm sure Billy wasn't a great lay either, so she was probably avoiding the "Was it good for you?" question anyway. Ooh, maybe it was like, "I'm sooo over you now that I know I was waiting so long for THAT. Might as well fill the time by accusing you of murder."

Oh, and Matthew Lillard's performance in the last few scenes is just...I won't ever not laugh at that. How did he not get more acting work? I need to see "SLC Punk" again.

I love this movie. It's funny and smart and just a great time. I don't even like slasher-films but this one isn't focused on the maiming of women, so hey, maybe that's why I can like it. Definitely in my top five horror films ever.

Aesthetics: 3.5

Plot: 4.5

Characters: 4.5

Score: 3.5

Treatment of Women/Minorities: 3.5

Rewatchability: 5


Horror Movie Review: Shaun of the Dead

Shaun of the Dead (2004) is half slacker-bro film and half zombie parody. The tone feels similar to "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy". The best bit of this movie are the opening credits comparing humanity to zombies. You go in knowing this movie is going to be about zombies and you realize that the plague hasn't happened yet when the film begins, though everyone is lumbering, looking at their phones, and shuffling along to work. This film is unique in the fact that the outbreak is only starting to creep in as it begins. The cool part about that is that people aren't noticing it. You're seeing zombies in the background and when the characters see them, they think the zombies are drunk or think nothing at all, which is probably how humanity's reaction to zombies would really happen.

Beyond that, this movie is a pretty typical slacker-bro film wherein the bumbling 30-something protagonist that can't manage to do anything with his life save for playing video games and going to the pub somehow saves the day when the zombies come. The part that makes me forgive this a little is that the zombies are REALLY slow and ineffectual and Shaun isn't really THAT competent at fighting them at all. The reaction to the zombies by the characters seems mostly believable. No real heroics take place except that everyone seems to inherently trust Shaun to be their leader for no real reason other than he is acting like he knows what to do. Which I suppose is kinda believable too.

I didn't plan to watch "Shaun of the Dead" again because it seems that the further into his career he gets, the more Simon Pegg forgets that women exist too. This movie doesn't pass the Bechdel Test until an hour in, which is particularly infuriating because Liz (Shaun's girlfriend) is roommates with a woman and they're in several scenes together before you see them interact. This movie suffers from the my-girlfiend-is-cool-and-competent-but-no-other-women-are trope as well. The roommate Dianne seems like she might be really cool but they don't give her anything to do and then she just anticlimactically runs out into the zombie hoard at one point. No one mourns her. All of the sudden I'm like, "Where's Dianne?" That's how little they paid attention to her demise. Shaun's mother is also very clueless. They give her no personality other than "mother". There is another female character that is the leader of a group identical (with switched genders) to Shaun's but she's mostly there as a sight gag. Another big feminist issue I have with this film is that both Shaun's mother and BFF Ed become zombies by the end. Shaun kills his mother but chooses to keep Ed around, chained in his shed with video games so he can still "sneak off" to hang out with Ed despite his new living-with-girlfriend existence. Why was Ed important enough to keep around, but mom had to be "dealt with"? Also, Liz spent the first part of the film breaking up with Shaun because their lives were stagnant and then after the zombie fiasco she's shown being totally FINE with a stagnant life. Her needs weren't met and she was talked out of even having any anymore. Also, why is no one upset that EVERYONE else died? I know this is supposed to be a comedy, but Shaun had to kill his mother and stepfather and Liz lost her roommate! They wouldn't just be all cozy on the couch talking about tea without any baggage.

There are ZERO people of color in this film. Maybe a stray black zombie, but none of note even. There's also the use of "gay" as "lame" in several jokes. I used to make that joke too in 2004 without knowing any better.

Overall, it's an enjoyable stoner-zombie movie, but I don't think we should trust Simon Pegg anymore. He's a nerd that is fighting for his fellow straight white male nerds, perhaps, but he doesn't create female characters with their own agency/personality and he doesn't care about people of color. His later films are WORSE in all of the slightly annoying aspects (stoner dude humor, slacker types being heroes, women on the periphery, etc) this film presents.

Aesthetics: 3.5

Plot: 2.5

Characters: 2

Score: 3

Treatment of Women/Minorities: 2.5

Rewatchability: 3.5