Insurgent (3D)

Insurgent (2015) by Robert Schwentke

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I must confess that I gave up on the books 200 pages into the second volume. It all turned too much into some sort of Twilight with Four becoming more important than Tris. I hate when that happens and I’m still in awe of Suzanne Collins and the way she developed Katniss Everdeen into a real person instead of just arm candy for Peeta.

insurgent1Given, Insurgent doesn’t quite give me the same feeling, but it disappointed on another level – a level it shares with the book, no doubt. The plot is… still no more convincing. It actually got a little weirder and wilder and not in a good way.

Okay, let’s get back to what happens for a second:

Tris (Shailene Woodley), her brother Caleb (Ansel Elgort) and Four (Theo James) hide out with the Amity but are out of luck as the Dauntless are still hot on their heels. They are being found out and are just barely able to escape – back into the city. Tris’ only thought is that of revenge on Jeanine (Kate Winslet), Four is tumbling into a Family reunion with his abandoning mother (Naomi Watts), and Caleb leaves the two to follow his own beliefs. They bring him back to Erudite where he and Tris meet again when Jeanine insurgent3threatens to kill people if Tris does not surrender. She does and is forced to use her divergent powers to open a secret box that promises to either make things even worse or bring salvation to those hunted.

It’s a fast-paced movie with a lot of action and little time to ponder what is actually happening. Which is probably a good thing because not all of it is making sense. I find the big reveal quite questionable, probably because I never understood the faction-system to begin with. Or rather, I didn’t be lieve in its functionality, neither as  political system or as plausible post-apocalyptic basis for a plot. Well, I shouldn’t have worried, it’s just a smoke Screen. But what is revealed instead doesn’t make it any better, unfortunately.

insurgent2The movie is not all bad. But most of its story just doesn’t work for me. What still does and will always work, of course, is Kate Winslet. I love her portrait of evil Jeanine and am only sad that it’s come to an end now. I’ll miss her – or maybe I won’t depending on whether I’ll watch Allegiant.

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The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 by Francis Lawrence (2014)

mockingjay1.1The beginning of the end – but we’re already very familiar with this kind of thing, aren’t we? I mean the splitting of the last volume of a book series into two films. Potter had it, Twilight had it, and I don’t even want to know if Fifty Shades of Bad Entertainment will have it as well. But for Mockingjay, I feel it was the right decision, because part 1 is already amazing.

What happens?

Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) has been rescued from the arena of her second hunger mockingjay1.2games and brought to District 13 where the rebels have gathered to wage war against the capitol. Katniss’ home District 12 has been destroyed but Gale Hawthorne (Liam Hemsworth) has saved some people, including Katniss’ mother (Paula Malcomson) and sister Prim (Willow Shields).

District 13 is a military district that works from underground since it had almost been completely destroyed during the war. People there live on essentials. Katniss agrees to be the symbol of the rebellion – the Mockingjay – if the captured tributes, including Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson), are rescued at the earliest opportunity and given immunity.

After a sucessful rescue, Peeta tries to kill Katniss – he’s been brainwashed.

mockingjay1.3What fascinated me most with this part of the series is the barren look. While I would have wished for a more plush trainee center in the first film, the sparse set in this film fits District 13 perfectly. And it’s not just the set, the clothes and make-up of the characters reflect the military status of the district. To see Jennifer Lawrence basically without make-up… it makes her acting that much more intense. And not just hers. Once again, Julianne Moore just takes my breath away with her acting. She’s perfect as Alma Coin, the leader of District 13. Her posture shows miliatry stiffness and strength but she’s also sympathetic.

I think my favorite scene – probably everybody’s favorite scene – is the one with the group of young people (among them Natalie Dormer as Cressida) at the lake. It’s a stark difference to the scenes in the underground facility, it’s more relaxed and peaceful than the setting of the forest in the hunger games, and then there’s the song that Katniss sings – and it’s perfect. Jennifer Lawrence has a throaty, raw voice and it fits the situation and the song perfectly.

If there was something in this movie I didn’t like, I don’t remember it anymore because there were so many good things to remember, most of all the great acting by everyone involved. Effie Trinket mockingjay1.4(Elizabeth Banks) without her make-up, stripped bare of her capitol attitude and desperate and vulnarable is such a beautiful thing. Philip Seymour Hoffman in his last role as Plutarch Heavensbee… The casting is just amazing in this series and it makes this movie in particular sparkle more from within, because the setting doesn’t.

This movie series is getting better with each movie, while with the books, I will always think that the first one is the best. It makes for a nice contrast – and I’m so gonna own these wonderful movies on dvd.

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Back to tv: Battlestar Galactica

Yeah, I know it’s been awhile since this show ran – I don’t even mean the original series but the reboot. But, y’know, I am just discovering it for the first time. And I am more than annoyed that I did not watch it when it aired. Seriously, there is no reason why I shouldn’t have watched it. We watched some of the original series at home when I was a kid, I am also partial to the Star Trek franchise  – but I didn’t watch it. Even when Lucy Lawless joined the cast I refused. I think it has something to do with me not seeing myself as a science-fiction fan. I always denied being a fantasy fan also – I am not sure why that is because my dvd collection clearly belies both these claims… Well, these last few years taught me better than to deny my passions any longer and hence I am free to explore.

I have just ordered the first half of the second season and so I am rewatching season 1. Hell, what a premise:

The twelve colonies of Kobol destroyed, billions dead, and only about 50,000 humans left. And why? Because technology proved its superiority over its master and created – well, mainly those incredible specimen on the left: cylons (Tricia Helfer, Lucy Lawless, Grace Park). Advanced toaster ovens with the one thought: to destroy mankind. I love when our own creations come back to bite us in the behind. I am also fascinated by the premise of how scared we are of machines taking over. I also watching Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles. The same premise, machines are taking over.

But while in Terminator the battle over earth is still on, President Laura Roslin (Mary MacDonnell) explaines slowly to the men who want to go on fighting: “The war is over. And we lost.” And here is one other strength of this show: equality among the genders. Everybody is called “sir” (okay, one could have come up with a less gender-partial nomer than the standard male), everybody is on an equal footing. I like the democratic process within the story telling. And Laura Roslin is one hell of a President!

She is not the only stong female character, though. We have Starbuck, Boomer, and Six to back her up. And even the male characters are not half-baked. Yes, there is some machismo with all the phallic imagery that pervades weaponry but the pheromones are just as widely spread as the testosterone is, so all is good. So far.

I am really looking forward to watching this show (so, no spoilers if you want to comment, please). From what I have seen from the show so far, I can only ask: why only four seasons?

Update: I might have to take some of what I said back. Why? Rape as plot-device. I hate it! I watched the first half of the 2nd season now and the Pegasus-crew seems to feel that raping a cylon-agent is standard operating procedure… and this under the command of a woman! I cannot even fathom how disgusted I am by this plot. And I am amazed that they try to sell it to us… gosh, thank you, dear writers, for destroying another great show with a predictable storyline. I am so saddened by this, I don’t have words.

This Kiss, this Kiss

So, over at Afterellen.com people are a-voting the best lesbian kiss in entertainment. Flipping through all the pix and amazingly wonderful characters that have also formed some of my most memorable tv and movie moments (I am not that much of a comic-fan), I not only voted my favorites I also thought about the kisses that I missed there, or the kisses that were especially important to me.

Yeah, I know, not really lesbian that one. But it actually was the thing that made me watch the show because it was the first thing I saw and I didn’t know that it was not a lesbian kiss. It ran hot and cold up and down my spine, and I mainly watched the next episode because I hoped it would be explained to me – both my reaction to a seemingly lesbian kiss and the kiss itself and whether it really was between two women… well, what can I say, I was 18 and a babe in the woods. But this kiss changed my life. It did not make me a lesbian, I also did not discover that I was one but it made me watch Xena: Warrior Princess. If nothing else, it made a fan-grrrl out of me. And I am eternally grateful for that.

I would say that the first lesbian kiss I remember seeing – it could be the first I saw but with all the stuff I saw on tv it’s rather unlikely that it really was – was the one between Kate Winslet and Melanie Lynskey in Heavenly Creatures. The film fascinated me on an obsessive level (not because I saw girls kissing, more because I saw girls killing), I became a heavenly creature (I did not kill anyone but to this day I am convinced there is a fourth dimension… I hope it’s where I go when I die – to spent eternity with Kate Winslet, mostly). The lesbianism in it is disturbing on more than one level (one of these levels is Freudian), it is distructive and clichéed and if you tell me you hate the movie because of it – that’s your prerogative. Still, it was important to me – these two girls made sense to me, their love, their friendship, yes, their madness, too. Let’s face it, sometimes it is maddening to be different, and I certainly knew how that felt.

Tara and Willow. It is strange because I must have actually missed their first kiss. I do know that I did not see every episode of season 5 – because it bored me to pieces. Since I have just watched the whole show (including season 7 which I have not watched before, so now at least I can rightfully jump onto the I-hate-Kennedy-bandwagon), I actually discovered that most of the things I thought happened in season 5 actually happened in season 4 – I must have completely zoned out when 5 was on. I remembered Tara getting brain-slurped by Glory and Buffy jumping to her death, that’s it. But it also held that marvellously disturbing kissing scene when Willow prepares for Joyce’s funeral. Very sensual if your girlfriend sobs into your face, snot and tears running everywhere, very classy. Okay, this was not one of the important kisses – as I said, I didn’t even remember it – but rewatching it, it makes sense: OMG, Willow and Tara-shippers want them to kiss! What are we gonna do?! I know… let them make out during a marvellously traumatic storyline… when someone died or something. We can sell it as a comfort scene, nobody will be the wiser – and thus it was done… RMB when creators of shows had to come up with rediculous storylines like that just to put in a lesbian kiss – crazypants.

But, of course, then there was that massive making-out/having sex scene just before they killed Tara off… putting it like this is not really giving this scene enough credit. But it was wonderfully acted out by both actresses (Alyson Hannigan and Amber Benson). It was important – and they kinda killed the importance along with Tara, implicating that evil lesbians must die and all that crap.

But let’s face it, if it wasn’t for these two and Xena and Gabrielle, Emily and Maya (and Emily and Paige and Emily and Somara) would probably not have happened – not in the way we can see them nowadays.

And kissing is so important, too. I mean, who doesn’t remember last Xmas when twitter was all aglow with lesbian rage when some writer of Glee actually insisted that Brittana had kissed… oh yeah, that kiss! What?! No, they never did. And they didn’t and now they have. I guess, you could say that the Glee-powers handled this badly. They told us these two had sex, these two were casual and then they gave them a lesbian story line and it all ended up being about THE KISS… The ultimate scene was well-handled, refusing to give THE KISS a big, dramatic moment with violins playing in the background. It made fun of the whole discussion surrounding it and then gave us the little peck that was the introduction to the Valentine’s kissing concert that was mostly well-acted by Naya Rivera and Heather Morris.

A kiss is still a kiss – but this one blew every other kiss right out of the water. And I guess it will win since Glee seems to take all the awards these days. Is it my winner? No. I am way beyond my teenage years and it would probably have rocked my world if I had seen it when I was a teenager. I liked it but my favorites are these:

Because these days, it’s all about them… and even months after All My Children ended I am still rewatching Minx-vids.

This movie always depresses me – I cannot fathom how real it feels to me and how lonely I feel when it is over… but I keep rewatching it because it also makes me incredibly, stupidly happy. Just believing there is love like that – yeah, and that kiss.

And, of course, this (yeah, yeah, I know, not an actual kiss, just life-saving measures… but ROC sure got into it pretty good):

Looking Backwards: Xena… again.

You may have noticed by now that a) I am a sentimental fool and b) I don’t care who knows it. Well, the mood struck me again and I am now watching Xena’s third season which is also – despite season six – my favorite. And I am once again finding out why that is…

And yes, The Debt is still my favorite two-parter. Strangely enough, I cannot feel quite as warmly towards the The DelivererGabrielle’s Hope-desaster. I mean, and I didn’t know before: these two episodes simply suck. It is no wonder I could not remember much of these while reminiscing – I do that quite a lot, sentimental fools do.

And next I watched The Debt and I was so enthralled and  so happy… This is excellent tv, people. Actually, it is the best. They don’t do that anymore, they are not that daring, that brutal, that chokingly honest. And I could be wrong but I think, The Debt is the first time Gabrielle drops the three magic words into Xena’s lap… ohhhh, that is so cute!

I think The Debt filled a certain gap even in the story of Xena and Gabrielle where Xena told a story to her friend, where Gabrielle felt she had to safe her friend. It was role-reversal and then there were the flashbacks of Xena being seduced by ultimate goodness (does anyone else read the flying scene as sex scene between Xena and Lao Ma?). The story moved me back then, it still does…

There were other highlights following The Debt but they seem to be in the same realm of sexy, and mischievious, and xenite pleasure. I mean, Gina Torres abs in The King of Assassins (whatever else you might think of the episode, having two Joxers and all… and tooooooo little Xena and Gabby once again delivered as hapless little blond – and she’s actually getting blonder as the season progresses, isn’t she?), for example. Man!

Okay, the picture has not the best resolution but I guess you still get my point. And then there was the chemistry between Cleo and Xena… oh, please ladies, get a room already (the flirting between Cleo and Auto was not quite as pleasant, you can be straight and subtle, folks…). Then came Warrior… Priestess… Tramp and having Lucy act her full scope of comedic talent was a sight, but, hell, I think Gabby had it for Leah. I mean, think about it: as gorgeous as Xena but, for a change, Gab can take care of her… well, she had her hands all over her in any case.

Okay, I think, I’ll stop now… it’s just, looking back, even with all the fanfiction I have read… these two are still there in the middle of my creativity, teasing, flashing smiles, gorgeous… yeah, I definitely stop now! And watch The Quill Is Mightier, so I might be back later and tell you about it.

Nice weekend, all!

RMB: Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Back in the days I have probably watched each Buffy-episode only once… except for the sixth season which I have on cds (yes, cds). Now I have just watched the first season and man, how much one forgets. For example, that you can get addicted to a show like Buffy.

Even with all this hair (there’s really a lot of hair in those first twelve eps) it is a great show. Sure, it is pretty much “demon of the week” mentality but the legendary one-liners (each and every one you could print on a t-shirt), the chemistry, the nerdiness… and rewatching I even like Angel (a little).

I never liked Angel – or Cordelia for that matter – and I was actually relieved when he got his own show which I never watched. And when he took Cordelia and that weird Windham-Price (was that even his name?) with him I was really glad.

But back to Buffy. I spent the last few days watching the first season and it was great – I said that already. But what really got to me was the chemistry between Buffy and Willow. I actually see some subtext there… weird since every time they talk to each other it’s about “boys.” Maybe it’s about the way Willow pronounces “boys” – is she trying to convince herself that this topic might interest her? Then again knowing Willow’s way this kind of thinking is probably not surprising.

Well, this is also the first time I am watching the first season in English and I am as always amazed at how much better it is to the German dubbing (not that it was bad in this case, it is actually okay other than with Xena which was mainly horrible – the translation was, the voices were okay). With Buffy there are so many popcultural references and you don’t get all of them in the German translation.

I am looking forward to watching the whole show again although that won’t be for some time since money is always a factor (I hate it when they not only make the dvd boxes expensive but on top of that make two boxes out of one season – I am not sure they do this elsewhere but they do it in Germany, it sucks.

I am looking forward to meeting Faith again, and Tara… some of the greatest stories already come back to haunt me and I would like to watch them all right now… and then there is always season 7 which I have yet to watch. Did I mention that I never watched season 7 (except for the first three episodes)? Well, Whedon killed off Tara in season 6 and so I lost interest. I am loyal like that and it was not like anybody except Buffy ever came back from the dead (okay, many others did come back but it was usually as vampires and that did not make them quite immortal with Buffy around, if you know what I mean)… Tara was my favorite at the time, I had already lost Faith…

Well, it is good reminiscing every once in a while. Now I am going back to my paper. It’s Sunday, a good day to going back to something you have once loved, whether just remembering it, or maybe re-watching it. Sometimes it is also good to remember that tv did not always suck (pun intended).

Back to tv: Lost

A couple of days ago I had an inkling to go and watch a show I had never watched before – or only little of. I rented the first cd of both Lost and True Blood and must say, I liked Lost better – despite the fact that True Blood has the better accents (or maybe it is just one accent but it is just the best accent ever). So, I now watched 20 eps of Lost and I like it though I am not sure what to make of it.

When the show came out (when was that? I have to look it up.), it must have been 2005 in Germany, I was a little curious but I think they showed it on an incredibly stupid day at an incredibly stupid time and on an incredibly stupid network because I never really watched it. Maybe I missed the beginning and whenever I caught glimpses of it, I didn’t know what was going on and just changed channels again. Well, it seems I have too much time on my hands these days (despite the papers I should be writing) and I am watching it from the beginning – on dvd.

And I like it. It’s not Xena, mind you, nor Buffy (although I must say, I like the official photos of the cast much better than those of Buffy, what an exotic location can do…) but it has elements of action, and fantasy, and weird what-would-you-bring-to-a-deserted-island-thematic. I mean, this island is paradise, right? Yet, it is also hell… no way around it, and on top of that there is something big that is going to kill everyone eventually, and polar bears, and dogs running around without a leash, it’s a nightmare.

Oh, but for the views, and by views I mean: how hot is Kate?! Evangeline Lilly is incredibly hot (though sometimes when they just show her face you wonder how old – and by old I mean young – she is; close up she looks  like a little girl, might be the freckles…). Actually it is almost rediculous how many beautiful people were on that plane. Of course, friends that been to California have told me that the women there are incredibly hot, but I didn’t know that they all flew in from Australia.

The above picture already indicates on what I am waiting for now: Michelle Rodriguez. Had she been on that show from the beginning I would have watched it from the beginning. I have to check out imdb.com to see when she’ll be on. Useless to say, I like her – every lesbian with a pulse does. And not just because she is hot, but because she’s a really good actress. And let’s face it, I got a thing for tough women (another reason to also like Kate…).

(Is that Kate and Jack playing Twister?)

Oh, for the plot: it is interesting and it can get you hooked. But I am always more into characters… and there’s a lot of that. I like how the stories of the main players are told in flashbacks, how they all seemed to be destined to be on the plane that crashed, how their lives crossed without them realizing it (Hurly owned the box company Locke worked for, on the tv in Japan at Sun and Jin’s you see Hurly being interviewed about his lottery win and so on).

The show is also strangely interwoven into a topic that interests me at the moment: queerness in heteronormative environments (or maybe it is hyper-heteronormative environments). We have still to discover a queer character on the show but that the microcosm of the island is heteronormative is clear… and not just from the fact that they named the bodies they found in the caves Adam and Eve… the love/hate-triangle of Kate, Jack and Sawyer… Sayid and Shannon… Shannon and Boone (though that seems a little incestuous, and I am wondering if incestuous relationships can be considered queer)… John Locke might be gay, or maybe he is just really into male bonding…

Anyway, I like Lost and I will keep watching – at least for now.