shirenomad: (Whedon)
I was reading the Mark Watches review of Firefly and, although Mark and I both love Joss Whedon's work in a lot of similar ways, we heavily diverge on at least one point of interpretation. That of the meaning of Inara and her "career."

Mark, it seems, thinks that Whedon means to respect the profession of prostitution as a proper career. In Mark's mind, it's a part of Inara, and Mal is stubborn and overly-protective for dismissing it as worthless. And there's definitely nothing harmful about it.

Except Mark then contradicts himself when he reaches "Heart of Gold," by calling what Burgess did to Petaline a violation, and rightfully cringing at "get down on your knees." Why? Surely Burgess paid both women properly for the service, didn't he? It's a dignified service to provide, isn't it?

But Burgess is not alone in his misogyny. Atherton treated Inara as property ("I know what's mine"), despite Inara's later claims that she's very careful about who she selects as a client. Fess's father (the one who actually called Inara in and paid her, mind you) treated her dismissively as well. There's a pattern here. When a man meets a woman who gives him, well, everything in return for some cash, it's hard to see how he'll respect her.

Or see her as anything but an unusually sexy device. Remember Mr. Universe and his robot bride? Had Atherton taken Inara as a personal (and permanent, "bought and paid for") companion, would he see her as anything more than that, other than that Inara makes better conversation? At best, wouldn't she be like the indentured mudders, just with a better wardrobe?

I remind everyone that for all its faults, the world of Firefly is not sexist. No one ever, meeting Zoe, questioned for an instant her ability to kick copious ass. No one ever, meeting Kaylee, questioned for an instant her ability to keep a ship running (on duct tape if necessary). Patience owns a moon and leads a small army of thugs. Good guys have no issues slugging women who earned the privilege, with no thoughts of "she's a woman, be gentle!" ...And then you get to the sex workers, and all of the sudden people see only objects.

Oh, Whedon understands perfectly the harms of the oldest profession. Inara was not in the original plans of the story, but Fox insisted on including a "space hooker." So Whedon gave them the geisha-like companions, who behave with high class, who have the (supposed) protection of their guild... and who are only respected by those not their clients. (And then we got Dollhouse later, if you really want to see the horror of "selling yourself" amped up to eleven.)

But I still need to talk about Inara herself. The model of professionalism, of poise, of grace. Of artificiality. Her every move, every word, is calculated. We so rarely see the facade drop, and only when she's dumbfounded (Jaynestown), enraged or terrified (Our Mrs. Reynolds), or devastated (Heart of Gold). There's something beneath, and we catch glimpses of it in the above episodes, but she buries it. For the job, to present the face her "clients" want to see. Until she almost forgets the real self exists.

Therein is the tragedy of Inara's "career." "Inara, he doesn't even see you." So few do.
shirenomad: (speculative)
I'm ashamed to admit that I forgot Saturday was Talk Like A Pirate Day. Nonetheless, I had it covered by sheer accident: I went to see Ponyo with my girlfriend, which is a seaworthy movie and therefore at least thematic. So yarr, sort of.

Movie review in 100 words or less: Fun, feel-good, but somewhat simple in theme and plot, and less emotionally moving than I'm used to seeing in a Miyazaki film... also of lower budget in the animation, and nothing in the soundtrack grabbed me either. Don't go in with expectations of being blown away like you were for Spirited Away; this is clearly meant for kids first, adults second. And try not to snicker at the techno-remix of the ending theme. Still better than the majority of children's films available.
shirenomad: (inspired)
I drove up north to Santa Clara County over the weekend for a few reasons. One was a party for a soon-to-be-married good friend of mine: he can describe that better than I, so I'll let him do just that. One was to get my teeth checked by my dentist of choice: I doubt you want to hear about that. But the third was that it was Father's Day weekend.

For Father's Day (and a belated Mother's Day) I treated my parents to dinner and a movie. Surprisingly, I was able to get both for a single movie; Mom actually enjoys heist/caper movies if they don't go crazy on the sex and violence, so I thought Ocean's Thirteen was something all three of us could enjoy. I was a little concerned given that Twelve had been a relative stinker... but Thirteen was rating a decent if not stunning 70% on RottenTomatoes.com, so I figured it was worth the risk.

Anyway, what I like most in a caper movie is a coherent plan, where the details are hinted at but you don't hear all of them until you see them in action. And, of course, some last minute but clever adjustments when things don't go as flawlessly as hoped. I got plenty of both, more so than even in Eleven. (And way more than in Twelve, which revealed that the entire plan from day one was a screen for the real one we never saw a hint of until the end. That's what we call "god-modding," dude. "Oh, you think you foiled me, and so does the audience, because we've been acting foiled for days even when there's no one to see us, but no! We've been victorious from the start, because...!")

But enough ranting about Twelve. Thirteen was good. I liked it; so did both parents. Silly in places, sometimes their resources and gizmos seemed ridiculous (though we've seen these guys pull hundred-million dollar heists, so maybe not so ridiculous after all), but hey, I like Bond movies and the Mission Impossible series too. Let's send a bunch of guys in to have fun being sneaky. Watch it. Enjoy it.
shirenomad: (SciFi)
I first watched the first season of Battlestar Galactica on a DVD set borrowed from a friend of my dad (Ron). My dad watched as well. After the cliffhanger at the end of the season, he asked Ron how things were going to get better; Ron responded, "They don't, they get worse." Dad: "How can it get worse?" Ron: "It can always get worse."

With the conclusion of Season Three, how can it get worse? "Returning in 2008." That's how. ARGH!

But in the meantime, I've finished geeking out about the cliffhanger (took me a while, but I managed), so here's my spoiler-y thoughts: )
shirenomad: (CoH)
I've had a chance to try out not one but two trials for World of Warcraft, by the nudgings of several friends who want me to buy the game and join them on raids and all that. The problem being that my MMO heart belongs to another: City of Heroes. They've been trying their best to woo me away, but it's not happening.

It took me a while to figure out why, though -- World of Warcraft is indeed a quality game, with great graphics, history, and personality, and most of all plenty to do. But what it comes down to is the fun factor. How fast can I go from 0 to fun? I'm paying for my time; I should not be delayed in my effort to play. And WoW throws too many obstacles in my path that CoH bypasses neatly:

- A level 1 CoH hero can cross most zones in less than eight minutes with Sprint on. Once he gets his travel power at level 14, cut that to two minutes, and add the ability to get to most zones in less than ten minutes. And cell phones mean frequently you don't even have to return to your contact. So basically you can get wherever you want in 5 to 15 minutes, usually closer to 5. But a WoW character doesn't get a mount until level 40; until then, crossing a single zone can easily take 15 minutes or more, and a griffin ride from one zone to another can take so long I have literally made myself dinner while waiting to get to my destination.

- A WoW character must gather weapons, helmets, chest armor, boots, wristbands, gloves, cloaks, and ammo to be effective. He must gather ore from mining or leather scraps from beasts and combine them with purchased goods to create useful equipment (but only if you've learned how to make that particular item!), or he can hope that a quest gives something he needs as a reward. A CoH hero gets enhancements as regular drops or direct purchases, pops them to a power of choice, and is set; anything else comes automatically with leveling.

- A CoH hero manages enhancements in one inventory and inspirations in another. Mission-related items and single-shot bonus powers take no space whatsoever, and due to the aforementioned speed of travel, selling after each mission is a breeze, so inventory management is minimal. Meanwhile, a WoW character is constantly juggling quest items, equipment, equipment components, ammunition and single-shot items, and several flavors of boosters, such that buying inventory expansions becomes mandatory in a hurry.

Most important (to me) is combat. Put one character in WoW up against two critters his own level and he's got a definite challenge ahead of him; add a third and he'd better be a fast runner. Now toss a CoH hero into three-on-one odds... for most hero archetypes at most levels, those three are all toast. Why? He's a hero; heroes should be able to wade through small armies and come out smiling. Whereas in all the Warcraft games, one orc grunt and one human footman have always been about an even match, and WoW reflects that. This is just a different style of play -- it's also notable that taking on just one target in CoH is impossible in most cases due to the way they group, so you wind up with about the same level of challenge. But it's a style of play I prefer. I like the frenetic combat that results from being surrounded, loads more than the slow grind of pull one guy, kill him, pull another, kill him, rest, pull another... And if I ever find CoH just too easy, and decide I should only be able to take one-on-one odds, then I can crank up my difficulty and all my mission opponents adjust accordingly. But for now, I'm happy to be able to say, "Hmm, six of them, one of me. This will be a bit of a challenge..."
shirenomad: (geeky)
But for any Fans! fans who haven't been checking the site since the conclusion, Campbell couldn't resist putting up a little side story, apparently about one of the timelines the General toyed with. Quick read, still free for the moment. Go to http://www.graphicsmash.com/toc.php?name=fans, scroll down to the bottom, and enjoy "The Iron Easel" .

And actually, for those who've never read a word of Fans! up to this moment, this will be a good introduction to T Campbell's style in condensed form, so check it out if you like.
shirenomad: (memorable)
"A 300 pound griffin cannot carry a five-ton boulder!"

Such are the comments that arise after a viewing of Narnia with friends as geeky as you. (But hey, those are the best kinds of friends to see movies with!)

So anyway, review time!

Spoilers, but not for anyone who's read the book )

Report!

Nov. 28th, 2005 07:05 pm
shirenomad: (memorable)
How I spent my Thanksgiving vacation, assuming you care. )

Oh yeah, and I found out my City of Heroes month expired today. Hence my current mood. *scowls* I thought I had another couple days, otherwise I would have made more of an effort to sign on one last time last night... not that I would have been a very good player given how tired I was.
shirenomad: (webcomics)
The latest webcomic to join my (already lengthy) reading list has been Dominic Deegan. That fact it made the cut surprised even me at first, because it alternates between overly dramatic epic events and really cheesy puns. As I'm not a fan of either, I'm frankly amazed I pulled together enough patience to rip through the archives at all, much less want to stay afterwards.

I had to think about this for a bit, and if you'll indulge me, I'm going to steal a page from Eric Burns and Robert A. Howard and put down my thoughts in an amateur webcomic article. )
shirenomad: (Whedon)
As mentioned, saw Serenity last night. (Because I earned it!)

Great job with the opening sequences; they caught everyone up who hadn't seen the episodes. Introduce the story world (with details even faithful show followers had never had confirmed). Introduce River and her situation. Have a rapid series of interactions with Mal and his crew, establishing the family feel of the team while letting Simon show there's a bit of tension too, and establish everyone's place in the grand scheme of things.

Spoilers ahead! Flee, ye uninitiated! )

Whedon, as fans of his work know, likes to plot out his story arcs well in advance, which is why Firefly getting killed in its crib hit him so hard... he had so much planned for it. But scuttlebutt has it that Serenity moves everything up to about where he wanted the show to be at the end of Season Two. If that's the case, and Fox (or some other network) wakes up and smells the moolah, then he can restart the series at the beginning of "Season Three" and continue uninterrupted. Some fans are keeping their fingers crossed for the movie to become a trilogy, but I'd rather have the series back, thank you very much.

I think anyone unfamiliar with the series can still enjoy the movie; Whedon did an excellent job overall in making it accessible. However, some moments just won't be as poignant or powerful if you don't really know the characters in advance. If you have the chance to watch the series over the next few weeks (only a 2-hour premiere and 11 episodes, available wherever fine DVDs are sold), do so first, but if not, see the film anyway. You can catch up later.
shirenomad: (fandom)
My boss treated me out to Star Wars this morning. Hey, who needs to work for Google? (Which, I am informed, packed the theater next door to us.)

First, the pre-show entertainment... that is, three-hundred-plus geeks in a packed space with nothing to distract them but advertisement slides. Naturally, the traditional beachball had to come out. We got a bit more action when someone knocked it back to the best costume in the house: a really well-done wookie in the back row. He hammed it up for a moment to cheers before tossing it back (which may have been a mistake, because he got targeted more than anyone else over the next hour, just to get him to stand again).

Previews came up. Fantastic Four, Mr. and Mrs. Smith. War of the Worlds. The Adventures of Shark Boy & Lava Girl, which I can't imagine would get advertised on any other PG-13 movie. No Serenity, unfortunately. But then came a trailer with four British kids, and as people started recognizing what they were seeing the first glimpses of... well, when the wardrobe opened, I swear it got more cheers and applause than anything in the actual movie.

Here come the spoilers! )
shirenomad: (it's so freakin' cool!)
Yup, just saw Kill Bill 1 for the first time. (Whee! ...yeah, that's all the reaction you're going to get out of me for now. Whee!)

One question: what's the name of the song (the loud one with all the brass) that plays when O-Ren and gang enter the restaurant?
shirenomad: (fandom)
Yup, they finally finished the exam, and all the after-effects thereof. Spoiler-y commentary within... )
shirenomad: (fandom)
That in brief, is my review of Spidey 2.

Details and spoilers within... )

Also seen today: the last five episodes of Excel Saga. That includes the aptly-named bonus episode "Going Too Far". In the words of [livejournal.com profile] ren_narf, ;>~
shirenomad: (wtf)
...and my friends drag me off to Punisher.

I'd expected overdone action moments, Heroic Quips(TM), and cheesy wannabe-drama. I did not expect it to have so many deliberately funny scenes in it. (I mean, it's about the Punisher! They could at least try to make it dark!)

In short, I am so glad it was their treat, because I'd never have forgiven myself for paying to see it. :P
shirenomad: (geeky)
"The Dark Crystal". Great creatures (expected no less from the Henson workshop), mildly interesting plot, but some of the most cheezy dialogue I've ever heard.

Also, does anyone else look at gelflings and think they resemble taller tarutaru?
shirenomad: (nerdy)
Family friend Ron brought over Firefly: The Complete Series on DVD. Given Dad's opinion that Buffy and Angel are both brainless, I expected much the same reaction to Joss Whedon's third series, but he's really enjoying it so far. Maybe he just likes sci-fi. Or westerns. Or sci-fi westerns. (Mental note: show him Trigun sometime.) On the other hand, it may be because most of the characters aren't college-age.

I have only one comment on the show myself so far: Kaylee is definitely Willow's great-great-etc.-granddaughter.

Now for an overdue meme. )

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