sasha_feather: Retro-style poster of skier on pluto.   (Default)
[personal profile] jesse_the_k and I saw this together and we both really liked it.

Set at a Harvard stand in called Winchester, DWP focuses on 4 black students who are searching for their identities in a highly pressured environment. The houses that people live in feature prominently, as do the newspapers and satire publication. People's connections and activities have the inflated importance of the Ivy League environment. Race, class, and sexual orientation are addressed in a way that is natural to the characters and plot.

Samantha White, an activist and artist, runs for president of her house and wins unexpectedly. She becomes the de facto leader of the activist black students on campus, while struggling to find her own true voice and desires. She has a radio show called "Dear White People" and makes films.

Troy Fairbanks loses this election, to the disappointment of his father, the Dean of Students. Searching for something else to get involved in, he investigates the satirical publication Patische, (the not-Lampoon), which is run by the most entitled white boys on campus.

CoCo Conners wants to be a star and is willing to stir up trouble in order to catch the eye of a talent scout who is on campus. She is most definitely not an activist.

Lionel Higgins is a queer, geeky writer who doesn't fit in anywhere. He thinks about writing a story about Samantha, tries hanging out with the white journalism geeks, and ends up finding his place with the activists.

The villain of the piece is Kurt Fletcher, who heads up a fraternity and runs Pastiche. All of these people and threads come together when the fraternity throws a racist Halloween party.

There is a lot going on here but it's easy to follow, and easy to get drawn into these people's lives and dramas. They are realistic and sympathetic characters even when they sometimes make foolish choices. There are some very funny moments and some painful ones.

The experimentation and searching that people go through during college are familiar themes, and it's wonderful to see things like racism, homophobic bullying, etc, consciously explored through several characters' view points. Sure, everyone searches, but some people have more shit to deal with, and different people respond in different ways.

I hope this movie makes a ton of money and we get to see more like it.
sasha_feather: white woman in space suit (Astronaut)
Beginners (2010) R. Ewan MacGregor, Christopher Plummer, Melanie Laurent.

MacGregor plays Oliver, a 38-year-old graphic designer who has recently lost his father. In flashbacks and narration, we see his close relationship to his father, who came out publicly as gay at age 75. Now, in 2003, Oliver is struggling with grief, with the fact that his parents were never in love, and with his own relationships and feelings. Oliver falls for a woman named Anna. In flashbacks, his father falls for a younger man, played by Goran Visnjic, and gets involved with gay politics. The movie is engaging and told with sensitivity and emotional nuance. People at any age can be beginners at life and love.
sasha_feather: Max from Dark Angel (Max from Dark Angel)
After reading [personal profile] thingswithwings' latest fic, Odd One Out, and relating a lot to Eliot in that story, I am idly wondering if I am perhaps aromantic.

It seems like a simple relationship style that would work for me.

There is a lot of upheaval going on in the world and in my community right now. Things are rapidly coming into hard focus. Sustained anger seems to be really working for me right now actually. *Imagines Eliot growling*
sasha_feather: Retro-style poster of skier on pluto.   (Default)
Short-term 12

Recommended to me by [personal profile] jesse_the_k; this indie film is about a short-term care facility for foster kids. It's from the perspective of a young woman who works there, Grace, who is a survivor of abuse and spent time in foster care. She is dating a fellow employee, Mason. They and their fellow employees clearly care deeply about the kids they are working with, and there is a lot of inherent drama and reality in the situation. I loved the way this film focused on relationships and the struggle to express oneself after experiencing abuse and trauma. It is a quiet film that focuses on hope, while not shying away from reality. I think this would make a good TV series too! Content notes for: self-harm (on screen), discussions of incest, discussion of abortion, physical abuse.

The History of Future Folk: Anti-Rec

I thought I would love this: a silly comedy about a space alien whose plot to colonize Earth is foiled when he discovers music. Unfortunately, the writer, John Mitchell, is one of those people who apparently thinks that stalking is romantic. Don't watch it.

upsetting details )
sasha_feather: Max from Dark Angel (Max from Dark Angel)
I am enjoying watching "Longmire" on Netflix. I started watching for Katee Sackoff and Lou Diamond Phillips, who are great; they play a Deputy and a bar tender, respectively. The main character is Walt Longmire, the sheriff, and he's grown on me. He's portrayed as a man who has a lot of integrity and a deep respect for other people.

I like the beautiful Wyoming landscapes. I'm seeing more portrayal of Native American culture in this show than I have in a while. Some other cultures are also given representation-- Basque immigrants, Amish people, etc.

The man pain is a bit ridiculous at times. Walt's wife died, and he has issues with his daughter. There are times when Walt's daughter, Cady, seems like a plot device or an item for the men to bicker over.

In contrast, Vic (Katee Sackoff) gets to be her own person and is portrayed as a complex and normal person. She's married, and her husband is only occasionally around. Her love life isn't really at issue. It's just so refreshing.

I'm having my usual reservations about watching a show that is centered on murder. Not just crime, but a murder every episode. You'd think these people would start to get concerned considering they live in a rural county with, presumably, a fairly low population! One episode in season 2 seemed like it was going to be about preventing a murder--yay--but then someone got killed anyway. Sigh.

We, the audience, don't really see the ripples that such violence creates. It seems like the story is done once the killer is caught, which is the structure of murder mysteries. The story is most definitely not finished.

I would like to see more mysteries not involving murder or extreme violence. I would also like to see stories that explore the consequences of violence in communities, and how it ripples outwards.

One of the only portrayals I've seen of restorative justice is in a movie called "The Angels' Share", which is available on Netflix. The movie is an enjoyable tale about petty criminals trying to steal some valuable whiskey, earn some money, and start new lives for themselves.

Robbie, the main character, did some time for assault. He is trying to get his life on track and has a supportive girlfriend and new child. In the scene I'm thinking of, he is required to go to something called "talk back after serious crime".

In this scene we see Robbie's victim and the victim's parents confront Robbie. It is an emotional and complex scene, and I wish there were more models of this in media and life.
sasha_feather: Max from Dark Angel (Max from Dark Angel)
Cloudburst, 2011, starring Olympia Dukakis

A funny, great film about an old lesbian couple that have been together for nearly 30 years. Stella and Dot live together in a New England house, but when Dot gets hurt, Dot's granddaughter tries to put Dot in a nursing home. Stella busts her out and decides to drive them to Canada to get married. They pick up a hitch hiker along the way and have some adventures. There is lots of fun banter because Stella has a dirty sense of humor and good chemistry with Dot. Dot is blind and it's so refreshing to see realistic disability representation.

Content notes (here be spoilers):
notes )

Pit Stop, 2013

A sweet, slowly building film about getting over past relationships and moving on with life. It deals with the real complexity of gay relationships in a way that I loved, and dealt with working-class men in small-town Texas. I liked going into this movie not knowing who these people were and trying to figure out their relationships, so I don't want to give too much away. The movie's protagonists are Ernesto and Gabe, and each of them have pasts, attachments, and deep emotions that the viewer gets to see. Occasionally it looks a little low-budget in that the lighting and camera shots are bad, but overall it's well done. No content notes that I can think of.
sasha_feather: Retro-style poster of skier on pluto.   (Default)
Some things I've been reading:

Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh. Really enjoyed this! Some of the comics were emotional, so I read it in short bits. The one about the toy parrot made me laugh so hard I gave myself a coughing fit. Some of these I had read before on the web; some are new material. The comics about depression are in here, and may be difficult for some readers.

Blue is the Warmest Color by Julie Maroh. I hated this a lot. The art and colors are gorgeous but the story was not for me at all. I don't need to read about dysfunctional lesbian relationships where the people seem like unhappy liars and then one of them dies. This is a love story?

Stand Fast in your Enchantments by [personal profile] devildoll. I loved this Teen Wolf story a lot! I just started reading TWoof even though I don't watch the show much-- I've really been enjoying fanfic and looking for new things to read, and this is what my friends are into. This Derek/Stiles story is largely about communication. At first Derek can't speak because he's trapped in wolf form, and then later because he's just bad at talking about his feelings, or bad at talking, and I can relate to that a lot (it seemed like/reminded me of selective mutism). Luckily, Stiles is a very good problem solver. This fic also keeps going after the point where a lot of stories would end, and I loved that-- it deals with the consequences of a traumatic event in their lives, the fallout, and they really have to live with the complexities of being in a relationship. It's not easy for Stiles and Derek, and the ending is earned. Totally excellent.
sasha_feather: Toph and Katara from avatar: the last airbender cartoon (Toph and Katara)
I recently finished 3 YA novels-- pretty darn good for me since I hardly ever read novels any more!

Inheritance by Malinda Lo. Not as good as the first book (Adaptation). This book couldn't quite decide if it wanted to be a relationship book or a thriller, and so the pacing felt off. It went slow, slow, slow, SUPER FAST, and then a whole bunch of fascinating stuff was packed into the afterward. I personally found the relationship stuff a bit boring, with the exception of Reese's friendship with Julian, which was an awesome queer friendship and very realistic. I liked the fast pace of the first book, and this time around I kept wondering where the story was going.

I appreciate this book for political reasons-- ie representation-- because the types of relationships portrayed here are just not seen very often in Sf/F or mainstream literature. Lo does really well with race, orientation and gender, and types of relationships. There was one use of "so OCD" language in this book which surprised me, and another instance where a person with a body difference (a deformed arm) was seen as being horrible. So, not the best on disability, which was disappointing since the first book had some cool embodiment things going on (Reese's body changing without her knowing what was going on, etc).

Overall, just kinda "meh" on this book. :/

Dairy Queen by Catherine Gibert Murdoch

Set in rural Wisconsin, this book is about DJ, who is running her family's dairy farm more or less by herself, because her dad is temporarily disabled. Her younger brother (who almost never talks) is her only help. This summer, quarterback Brian Nelson comes to the farm to help out and to "learn how to work".

The strength of this book is DJ's voice, the realism of the setting and people, and how DJ changes over time. She makes assumptions and mistakes, and she needs to learn to connect with people and talk about her problems. I really enjoyed this book, despite the football theme!

There is one scene of homophobia in the book. It didn't bother me much due to context-- ie, Reese is a dumb kid who has learned stupid messages, and that's what's being presented-- but it might bother other readers.

Half-World by Hiromi Goto

A beautiful, creepy tale about a 14-year-old girl, Melanie, who must venture into the Half-World, a place where the dead try to work out their traumas before they can join the spirit realm, in order to rescue her mother. She is tasked with trying to restore balance to the realms. I liked this story's focus on how one is only responsible for one's own choices, and how Melanie ultimately solves problems using courage and kindness. Melanie's guides are older women. Recommended.
sasha_feather: white woman in space suit (Astronaut)
The Sapphires

This absolutely delightful film focuses on 4 women who form a soul singing group in the 1960s. They are Aboriginal Australians-- 3 sisters and a cousin-- who travel to Vietnam to entertain the troops and make money. Their manager is the white guy from the IT Crowd. Great to watch if you like ladies, music, singing, and movies that don't focus on white people. Content notes: overt racism, discussion of awful racist Australian policies towards native peoples, and some war violence. Has captions. Based on a true story.

I'm sure there are other things I've enjoyed watching lately but I need lunch!
sasha_feather: Steam punk goggles (Steam punk goggles)
Europa Report. 2013, 90 minutes.

This tense SF film is done in documentary style, about a troubled mission to Jupiter's moon Europa. I liked it quite a lot! It moves back and forth in time, contains "interviews" with mission planners and astronauts, and keeps you wondering until the end. It's one of these movies that has a fairly simple idea and does it well. A bit scary at times. Recommended.

The Bletchley Circle

I highly recommend this mini-series even though is about tracking down a serial killer. The heroine of the tale is a housewife who was a code-breaker / analyst during WWII, and now after the war she solves puzzles as a hobby. When she starts to investigate a spate of killings, she gets the band back together (3 more women) to help her. They use math and complex data analysis to try and catch the killer; one of them has a photographic memory. They do all this without the police's help, and their partners/husbands don't support them either. It's a brilliant show.
sasha_feather: Max from Dark Angel (Max from Dark Angel)
Warrior. 2011, PG-13. Tom Hardy, Joel Edgerton, Jennifer Morrison, Nick Nolte.

I went in with low expectations (I am not a sports or fighting fan) but I ended up loving this movie. It has a lot of emotions in it and tells its story well. Tom Hardy plays Tommy, a laconic former Marine who returns home to visit his alcoholic father in order to ask his dad to train him to get back in the ring. Meanwhile, his estranged brother, Brendan, needs money to save his house from foreclosure and decides to return to MMA fighting. This decision gets him suspended from his job as a high school teacher, and so he trains full time for a big upcoming fight. Naturally, the two brothers are going to end up at the same fight. Little bits of back story are revealed through out and the acting is good. It wasn't as violent as I expected, because it focuses on technique and emotions rather than brutality. It was just a solidly well-done movie and I loved it!!

North and South. British miniseries.

This adaptation had a "Jane Eyre" feel to me, except it's in a Mill Town rather than a manor. I liked how Margaret's ideas about places and people change. She has a complex relationship with an owner of one of the mills, who is a friend of her father. Margaret is an outspoken and compassionate person who seems fundamentally normal, and very relatable. Recommended.
sasha_feather: sirius black from harry potter films (sirius black)
[personal profile] livrelibre asked about movies I like or are looking forward to! I will answer both.

Some of my all time favorite movies are:

Spiderman 2. I was lonely and struggling with my life when I saw this film, and I felt like Peter Parker was struggling in similar ways-- to make ends meet, to get his relationships to work, to figure out what to do with his life.

Seabiscuit Just a beautiful film about a horse and the people who love the horse. Also a found family. It gets me right in the heart.

Harry Potter 3 Because Alfonso Cuaron! The music, the creepiness, the imagery (birds, reflections). So great.

Some comedies I own are Hot Fuzz, But I'm a Cheerleader, Tommy Boy, Office Space, Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure, and About a Boy. I tend to like warm, silly comedies. A few other movies I own but don't watch quite as often: Iron Man, I Love you Philip Morris, Brokeback Mountain, X2, Amelie, Gattaca, Pitch Black. (In my head canon, Pitch Black has a gender queer character.)

A movie I'm very much looking forward to (despite some issues it has) is X-Men: Days of Future Past. I am an Erik/Charles shipper, lord help me, their luuuurve really gets me, and even the movie posters have me all squeeful. The posters meld the faces of young Charles/old Charles and young Erik/old Erik. Aaaaah! Even if the movie is wretched, hopefully a bunch of new fic will come out of it! And Bryan Singer is usually pretty decent.

I love going to movies; I will go see a mediocre movie just for the theater experience. I find being in the darkened theater very relaxing and have been known to go by myself. There are quite a few movies I will re-watch, but I enjoy re-watching things more if I have someone else with me.
sasha_feather: Amelie, white woman with dark hair, smiling cheerfully (Amelie)
[personal profile] meganbmoore asked about my favorite Studio Ghibli movies.

The first one I saw in the theater is my favorite: Ponyo.

I'd seen maybe 1 or 2 Ghibli movies before, but this one really made an impression on me. It is so beautiful and magical, and watching it (similar to other Ghibli movies) feels like dreaming. After seeing this one I watched a bunch of others, but sometimes I get Ghibli movies confused in my head and can't remember which title goes with which plot. Well, the plot is not the most important thing anyway. I should rewatch some of them.

These movies tend to have themes I enjoy: a focus on women and children, relationships, beautiful animation, domestic scenes, and a respect for the land and environment.

Ponyo herself charms me greatly. She is a little girl, born in the sea, who wants to join humans on the land. She finds a family and has a sibling-like friendship with a little boy. I read a review of this movie that posits Ponyo herself a metaphor for a kid with autism-- she doesn't quite get the social rules, and looking after her is a lot of responsibility (so says her new brother). Anyway you choose to look at it, it is a great movie!

Ponyo loves food, especially ham. "HAAAAAM!"

I just don't remember the other films as well, but I would say My neighbor Totoro is my next favorite!
sasha_feather: Clint from the Avengers drawing his bow (Hawkeye)
Recently finished
Hey, I actually read a book! It was Malinda Lo's Adaptation, a science fiction young adult book that we read for book club.

I really enjoyed this and read most of it in one day. It is fast paced and has a mystery element that keeps the tension going. I identified with the protagonist, Reese, who is exploring romantic/sexual relationships. She is an independent person who is afraid of intimacy and afraid of her feelings for others. Because of some spoilery things that happen in the book, she experiences some changes in her body that lead to this delicious and creepy feeling of alienation from her own self. The relationship with Amber felt very realistic to me. One thing about Malinda Lo is that I trust her to have good queer representation, and I trust her on issues of race. That is true for this book. The book ends a bit abruptly, but I am told it picks up right where it leaves off in the next book, which I am going to request from the library.

I also recently finished Hawkeye #1 (comic), called "My Life as a Weapon". I liked the first parts better than the last parts, but overall thought it was beautiful and fun. I especially liked the dog parts.

Currently Reading

I started and bounced off several fanfics today while at the doctor's office. So, nothing.
sasha_feather: Black, white, and red image of woman with futuristic helmet (Sci Fi Woman)
I really enjoyed "Top of the Lake", a mini series on Netflix. It is about a woman detective in New Zealand, who has returned home to visit her sick mother. While there the detective, Robin, gets called in to assist on a case where a 12 year old girl, Tui, has attempted suicide in a cold lake. The show takes place in a rural area and the scenery is very beautiful. There are 7 episodes that flow one right into the next. This show deserves many content warnings, but I did not find it nearly as difficult to watch as other shows of the same genre, such as "The Killing" or even some episodes of Special Victims Unit. It deals with some heavy material, but it feels hopeful. I really believed in Robin.

Some spoilery things below the cut.
Read more... )

content notes )

TV recs

Sep. 1st, 2013 09:16 pm
sasha_feather: Avatar Kyoshi from avatar: the last airbender cartoon (Lady avatar)
Some things I've been watching on Netflix:

Exit Through the Gift Shop: a documentary.

I watched this without knowing much about it, and absolutely loved it! It is about graffiti artists, but mostly it is about a guy named Thierry who films street artists. His cousin is such an artist, and so he starts filming and says that he is making a documentary, when really he just has a compulsion for filming. Thierry begins filming many different street artists for years, and making some street art too. The artists are passionate risk-takers and it's exciting to see them at work. Eventually Thierry meets and befriends Banksy. Banksy, who is in this film (disguised), comes off as very intelligent, reflective, and wry. Thierry is more of an enigma. Banksy eventually encourages Thierry to make the actual film, and from there the movie takes an unexpected and hilarious turn. I don't want to spoil it.

A Gifted Man (TV show, one season).

Michael Holt is a high-powered neurosurgeon in New York. One day he has a chance encounter with his ex-wife, only to learn later than his ex-wife died two weeks previously. His wife's ghost encourages Michael to finish her business: namely, go fix things up at the free clinic where she worked. In the first episode, they seem to be going for "asshole surgeon", but they soon back off of this and Michael is actually a decent guy and an excellent doctor. The narrative goes back and forth between the expensive, world-class neuro facility and the bare-bones walk-in clinic. The conflicts felt real to me and not preachy. I enjoyed the friendships between the various doctors and other characters, including a hippie-healer guy who tries to help Michael with his ghost problem, and Michael's secretary/assistant. This is just a nice medical drama with a side helping of a friendly ghost.

The Heat

Aug. 12th, 2013 11:31 pm
sasha_feather: Simon Pegg from Hot Fuzz holding a gun looking tough (hot fuzz)
I saw "The Heat" tonight with [personal profile] laceblade. Overall I really liked it, mostly because I love Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy. They play an FBI agent and a Boston cop, respectively, and this is a fairly standard buddy-cop comedy, except that it stars women. The movie is about their friendship and how they work together.

Read more... )

Movie notes

Jul. 5th, 2013 01:03 am
sasha_feather: Aang from Avatar the last airbender TV show (Aang)
Defiance (2008)

Daniel Craig, Liev Schrieber, and Jamie Bell play 3 Belorussian Jewish brothers who escape into the forest during WWII and start a camp to protect Jewish refugees. This is based on the true story of the Bielski partisans. I quite enjoyed this movie about resistance and survival. We accidentally watched the Russian parts with no translation; VLC stripped out the subtitles from the library's disc (or something). But we got the gist anyway because the plot is not especially complex. The brothers balance their desire for revenge with the the need for taking care of survivors: they must find food, build shelter, and keep order in the camp. They train men and women in how to use guns. A few times they have to move the camp. I kept expecting this to have a terrible ending but it has a good ending! Among the special features are interviews with the descendants of the Bielski brothers, who now live in the U.S.

The Interpreter (2005)

Not Recommended. Too long, draggy, and, worst of all, takes an African tragedy and makes it all about the pain of white people. Stars Nicole Kidman and Sean Penn.

Safe (2012) - Jason Statham

I have a soft spot for Jason Statham and this movie provided. He plays a washed-up ex-MMA fighter named Luke, whose life has been ruined by the Russian mob. Luke runs into Mei, a tween girl who is on the run from Chinese triad gangs. She has a secret that both the Russians and the Triads want, and also some corrupt cops. Luke takes them all down. It is GLORIOUS!!1!11! This one is streaming on netflix.
sasha_feather: Black, white, and red image of woman with futuristic helmet (Sci Fi Woman)
Not feeling so good today. I watched two movies lately which I quite liked:

The Last King of Scotland 2006. Rated R. James McAvoy, Forest Whitaker, Gillian Anderson, Kerry Washington.

While not happy nor easy to watch, this movie is very captivating and fascinating. McAvoy plays a naive Scottish doctor (Dr. Garrigan) who travels to Uganda seeking work and adventure. By happenstance he encounters the newly-in-power Idi Amin. The two men are charmed by each other; Dr. Garrigan becomes an adviser to Amin, and Dr. Garrigan doesn't realize what he's gotten himself into until it's almost too late. I thought about this movie for days after seeing it, because it is such a powerful, subtle movie that takes you along with Dr. Garrigan's conflicted emotions. There are a couple of very violent/gory scenes and we did fast-forward through one torture bit. Also the actors really sell it, and it was filmed in Uganda. I loved this film and it will stay with me.

Repo Men 2010, Rated R. Jude Law, Forest Whitaker, Alice Braga.

I'm not sure why I never saw this movie nor heard much about it: it's really my kind of movie. Law and Whitaker play Remy and Jake, company thugs for a corporation called Unity. Their work is to (legally) repossess artificial organs from people who can't make their payments. Remy's marriage is on the rocks and he is thinking about switching his career path, even though being a Repo man is something he is good at. After an accident, Remy finds himself needing a new heart, and with his new equipment he also gets a conscience, putting him on the wrong side of Unity and the law. This is a fun Sci Fi action movie. It's somewhat bloody. (I disagree with Remy's interpretation of Schrodinger's cat, but ymmv.)
sasha_feather: Retro-style poster of skier on pluto.   (Default)
Fastening One Heart to Every Falling Thing (51519 words) by thefourthvine
Chapters: 1/1
Fandom: Hockey RPF
Rating: Explicit
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Relationships: Sidney Crosby/Evgeni Malkin, Evgeni Malkin/Alexander Ovechkin
Additional Tags: Alternate Universe, Alternate Universe - Soulbond, Trope Subversion/Inversion, Spacetoaster

Geno can't. Sidney won't.

This isn't my fandom and I know nothing about hockey. That said, I loved this story a lot. It's a great tale about neuro-diversity, and a wonderful subversion of the soul bonding trope.

The world of the fic is one where everyone is psychic to a degree, and everyone soul bonds with their mate. People are warned as teens to be careful about soul bonding too early through touch and sex. Geno is born without the ability to soul bond, thus is able to have casual sex. He's seen as a resource for this purpose; but this of course also leaves him lonely.

Sidney is born super-psychic and isn't taught to control his abilities. He is sensitive, doesn't like to touch, and adamantly does not want to soul bond, despite the nearly universal expectation that he should.

Sidney is told explicitly that he's not broken, but in fact he's significantly impaired by his abilities and must make accommodations daily. He resists therapy, and indeed his therapist is annoying, but therapy is ultimately what he needs. Geno is told that he is broken, but to my eye his problem is all social stigma: people assume that he can't have a partner, and therefore doesn't want one. He's internalized the stigma to a certain degree.

These two men play hockey on the same team and end up being really good for each other.

This fic is really brilliant and I highly recommend it!


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