QZ qz thoughts
a blog from Eli the Bearded
Tag search results for 2013 Page 3 of 5

Monster University (2013)

I can echo many of the comments made so far about originality (little in plot), emotional punch (none), humor (good), and animation (good). I'd also like to add that I saw this in 3-D.

I don't know if was bad glasses for the 3-D or bad seating (a little closer than I'd have liked; we were at the Kabuki which does assigned seating); but I couldn't keep the whole screen in 3-D at once. Beyond that complaint, I found the 3-D very smooth, unneeded for the story, and never gratuitous.

It runs with a short The Blue Umbrella, apparently demoing some new lighting and rendering algorithms.

That short was very photo-realistic. It was a little while before I realized I was watching a new Pixar short. Blue Umbrella, however, seemed to have 3-D that was added in post-production. The images seemed to be flat shapes floating on one of six planes. The bad 3-Dness was a distraction at the start for me. Blue Umbrella sets a great scene, but the story seemed lacking.

Final thought: we've been repeating lines from the movie, like "I want to touch it"

Two by Oscar Wilde

For some reason this week I've been wanting Oscar Wilde stories.

First I watched An Ideal Husband (1999) on Netflix.

While I generally enjoyed it, for some reason the Sir Robert (Jeremy Northam) and Lady Gertrude (Cate Blanchett) kept reminding me of Benedict (Kenneth Branagh) and Beatrice (Emma Thompson) from Much Ado About Nothing.

The story concerns one man who is a husband with a secret from his wife, and another man who is unmarried but being pressured to settle down. There is everything you'd expect from a Wilde story: a commentary on the then contemporary society's values, a plot that has us root for morally flawed characters, and witty dialog. It also incorporates a few overt and subtle references to Wilde himself. I'm not sure if the original play has the characters attend a showing of The Importance of Being Earnest, but they do here, and the author makes a curtain call.

Four boutonnières out of five.

Second I watched Salomé (1923) which is perhaps the polar opposite. A silent film with frequent intertitles, some wordy, but no wordplay, and a story about absolutes. I watched got it (youtube-dl) from here: on Youtube

The costume design in this production is described as after the Aubrey Beardsley illustrations for the play: Aubrey Beardsley at wikimedia And while it is certainly not exactly like those, it is supremely stylized like Beardsley's work. Look to The 5000 Fingers of Dr T or Priscilla for similar extremes in costume design. Is that a wig of light bulbs? Were those women supposed to look like they were run over by a steamroller? Regardless, they are evocative and images to remember.

The visuals are the thing here, again with a mix of detailed and plain that goes with Beardsley. Besides the outré costumes, the makeup is extreme, although not out of bounds for the silent era. The setting is spare, clearly a soundstage, but with the minimum needed and nothing to distract. I understand there is a distinction made between props and set decoration in that props are things the actors handle. By that rule, this film has props but no set decoration. It also has exaggerated acting to match the outfits, and movement that is more dancing than acting.

The story is brief, the characters unlikeable, the ending well known, the soundtrack unnecessary. But, even at 72 minutes, it feels longer than needed.

Four to five out of seven veils.

An Ideal Husband at IMDB

Salomé at IMDB

Much Ado About Nothing at IMDB

The 5000 Fingers of Dr T at IMDB

The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert at IMDB

Final thought: thinking of Lady Windermere's Fan next

Dear Mr. Watterson

Dear Mr. Watterson at IMDB

This is a documentary that does not even show a photo of the person named in the title. Bill Watterson is a very private person who does not want to give interviews, do publicity photos, have people paying attention to him. Mr Watterson is, of course, the man who created, wrote, drew, and finally ended "Calvin and Hobbes" after some 3000 strips.

The guy making this film knows he has no chance of getting Mr. Watterson to talk to him and he doesn't try. Instead he tries to determine what has made the comic so endearing and enduring. In some ways this is a love letter to the strip, to the man behind strip. In some ways this 90 minute documentary is too long.

But he does get a lot of interviews with people who are interesting to listen to: Bill Amend, Stephen Pastis, the widow of Charles Shultz, the guy who represented the comic at the syndicate, Berkeley Breathed, Hillary Price, and a few other comic artists. People who were affected professionally by by the strip.

No one here has a bad thing to say about "Calvin and Hobbes" and few say much bad about Bill Watterson. It's a very feel good look at a comic that was (mostly) a be funny every day strip. The most anyone can say about why it has aged so well is the timelessness of the material and the quality of the art. Some argument is made that the purity of the no licensing decisions helps its legacy but some argument to the contrary is also presented.

It's a pleasant way to spend an hour and a half, but it won't change your life: three panels out of four, on a Saturday strip.

Final thought: betting Jim Davis (of Garfield) might have bad opinions of "no licensing"

Queen of the Damned

Queen of the Damned at IMDB

I knew little about this movie except the the skimpy costume the title character wears on the movie poster and the long remembered news about Aaliyah's death. Aaliyah was a R&B musician who plays the title character (aka Queen Akasha) and who died in a plane crash after filming ended (2001) but before the release (2002).

This movie concerns vampires in modern times. Akasha is a long dormant (portrayed as a statue) Egyptian vampire who is waking up because of the music played by another vampire, Lestat (Stuart Townsend). Many other vampires are unhappy about his purpose and methods. Akasha and her husband, presumably a pharoh, but only ever shown as a slumbering statue in this film, were extremely brazen in their time and a threat to vampires and the current vampire status quo.

Lestat is very happy to be waking Akasha as he's feeling lonely because of Reasons. There's this nice, pretty young woman, Jesse Reeves (Marguerite Moreau) investigating the musical group Lestat is in, because of Reasons. Lestat knows this and, more than doesn't care, he saves her from being prayed upon by other vampires, gives her information, and looks out for her in other ways.

Then a bunch of fights occur and a huge mob of goths at a concert get to watch one of the bigger fights. All the bad vampires are vanquished and the good ones live on. What makes a vampire good? Apparently feeling bad about killing people for food.

Aaliyah wears suprisingly little when on screen, but is not on screen all that much. Stuart Townsend does a lot of topless scenes. Vampires are pretty good at not spilling much blood when they kill people, but still always manage to get some on their chins. Also I'm not convinced any of the music here is good or bad enough to wake the (near) dead.

A guy from the band Korn wrote the music, a woman named Rice wrote the story the characters come from. Overall I'd rate this as two grains out of six servings.

Final thought: that guy from Korn has a cameo as a ticket scalper