The Secret of Moonacre picture image

The Secret of Moonacre

The Secret of Moonacre is a 2008 girly fantasy movie aimed at young girls who like jewelry and horses. It’s based on a book by Elizabeth Goudge called The Little White Horse. Now while I like jewelry and horses, I admit I’m not the target demographic. However this movie knows who it’s aiming at and there is Tim Curry in it so it’s not all bad. Also I’m really trying to resist making a Sailor Moon joke.

Dakota Blue Richards as Maria Merryweather & Natascha McElhone as Loveday de Noir The Secret of Moonacre picture image

Dakota Blue Richards as Maria Merryweather & Natascha McElhone as Loveday de Noir

Movie starts off with a newly Orphan tween girl Maria getting a historic book and then sent off to the country to live with her uncle in a manor house that is falling apart, though she gets an awesome bedroom, seriously it’s magical. Maria soon learns that her family, The Merryweathers, have an ancient grudge with a rival family, the De Noir. It started when one of the daughter of De Noir was given a necklace of pearls by the moon. She was about to marry a Merryweather but the family fought over the pearls so she put a curse on them, that if the pearls were not returned to the sea before the 5000th moon by another Moon Princess who is pure of heart then the valley would be plunged into eternal darkness. So Maria has to race against the full moon to save the valley from the two families pride.

Natascha McElhone as The Moon Princess & Ioan Gruffudd as Sir Wrolf Merryweather The Secret of Moonacre picture image

Natascha McElhone as The Moon Princess & Ioan Gruffudd as Sir Wrolf Merryweather

In this movie a “moon princess” is marked by the fact that she can see a magical white horse, so that and the fact  the whole plot boils down to pearls, mixed in some pretty costumes with nice sets and you have a movie that six to ten years old will love. But there is something a bit more going on here than just little girl wish fulfillment.

There is a proverb that goes “Pride comes before the fall” meaning that overconfidences leads to destruction and that is very overtly what is happening in the movie. Everyone’s pride gets in the way of ending the feud between the two families and they are willing to let their valley get destroyed because of their pride. It is only fixed when Maria actually throws herself into the sea so the pearls can be return that they let their pride go.

To most adults this moral is very much a slap in the face but it’s not that bad for children. It addressed to them in a easy to understand manner.

Dakota Blue Richards as Maria Merryweather, Juliet Stevenson as Miss Heliotrope, Michael Webber as Digweed and Andy Linden as Marmaduke Scarlet The Secret of Moonacre picture image

Dakota Blue Richards as Maria Merryweather, Juliet Stevenson as Miss Heliotrope, Michael Webber as Digweed and Andy Linden as Marmaduke Scarlet

So what are the character like? They are not very interesting or deep. I would say Maria doesn’t have much of a personality as she is nice and curious but her curiosity is the result of a weird house and getting the plot to move forward. Probably the most interesting characters are Loveday, what a name, and her brother, Robin.

Loveday is interesting because she a weird bohemian that lives in the woods and her pride is a weird combination shyness and a broken heart. She also keeps a lot of animals in her dwelling. Robin is really the only character who seems to get a slight arc as he starts off as a bad guy but helps Maria out and even seems to like her romantically a little bit.

Dakota Blue Richards as Maria Merryweather & Augustus Prew as Robin de Noir The Secret of Moonacre picture image

Dakota Blue Richards as Maria Merryweather & Augustus Prew as Robin de Noir

The style of this movie has a very shabby chic dreamy and for lack of a better description fairy tale. The shabbiness of the house is a plot point but it does add some interest however there are some very weird style choices. For instance all the costume have weird textures to them that sometimes look cool but mostly it looks awkward. Like Maria’s bustles that look like shelves, most of Loveday’s costumes and Robin’s feather chocker where the feathers look like spikes. There is a nice organic look to the costumes but mostly they look unpleasant. Though I want Maria’s saturn necklace.

The acting is what you would expect for a movie aimed at little girls. It’s cheesy and over the top but it’s serviceable. No one here is out to win any awards but they do their best with the material.

Dakota Blue Richards as Maria Merryweather & Ioan Gruffudd as Sir Benjamin Merryweather The Secret of Moonacre picture image

Dakota Blue Richards as Maria Merryweather & Ioan Gruffudd as Sir Benjamin Merryweather

The Secret of Moonacre is perfectly adequate children fantasy movie. It spelled out a moral with cute and pretty things and if you need more than that this movie isn’t really for you.

Gargoyles sing to Quasimodo,The Secret of the Hunchback picture image

Gargoyles sing to Quasimodo,The Secret of the Hunchback

If you had known two things about Secret of the Hunchback going before now it would have been Quasimodo is an angel and the singing “Jazzy” Gargoyles. Clearly this is what inspired Josh Brolin with his failed “jazzy” Hunchback movie.

This song is sung by a Gargoyle in Quasimodo’s dream, so unlike Disney this movie makes it clear that the Gargoyles aren’t real except when they cry, confusion. The subject matter on this song is just what you think, Quasimodo is awesome, fuck looks. The Gargoyle uses phrases like “out of sight,” and “doo-wa” to get this point across.

My God is this song just out of left field in terms of style. It’s Jazzy with its “Doo-was” and electric piano and cello that they back-up gargoyles are playing. One could make the  argument that Disney’s Gargoyles did this but they were more consistent throughout their movie, here it’s like a weird WTF slap in the face.

It’s a harmless dumb song but my brain can’t really process the utter dumbness of Doo-was and sunglass wearing Gargoyles for a few minutes.

Also this song feels much longer than it is, I blame the Jazz-y-ness.

Black Swan picture image

Black Swan

If Red Shoes and Perfect Blue had a baby it would the 2010 movie, Black Swan. It’s a movie that looks at the break down of a young ballerina in her quest to be perfect which is set against a metaphoric and literal retelling of Swan Lake. Let’s just say I hate respect this movie.

Natalie Portman as Nina Black Swan picture image

Natalie Portman as Nina

The plot follows Nina Sayers, who is a young woman trapped in childhood by a fairly controlling mother. Nina wants to play the lead in the her ballet company’s new production of Swan Lake where the innocent white swan and the seductive black swan are played by the same dancer. Nina doesn’t have the inner sexiness to play the black swan but lands the role after kissing/biting the head of the ballet. She then thrown into a paranoia spiral of trying to become a more sexual person at the cost of killing her innocence self all while thinking that another lady in the company, Lily, is replacing her. But in the end she does away with the perfect little girl for the imperfect sexual woman and find she was perfect.

Black Swan picture image

Natalie Portman as Nina

So what don’t I like about this movie? Well in my humble opinion, the movie tries WAY too hard to be edgy and artistic that is just comes off as pretentious. It just has some downright unpleasant imaginary which really just a style thing so if you like this style, that is cool, I just think it tries way too hard that it became almost cute in a way.

Along the same lines there is the editing. The editing plays with reality and Nina’s crazy fantasies to the point were you really can’t trust anything that the movie presents or the characters. There is the 1994 French movie called L’Enfer which has this sort of editing but I prefer this style of editing in that movie  because the rest of the technicals are kept simple. Another movie that  plays with weird editing as part of the narrative is the 1999 Japanese movie Audition, which I don’t recommend. In that movie a scene is shown twice with different dialogue to show one character is not listening to what the other character was telling him. Again that is just me and my preferences. Though when I first saw Black Swan I had recently seen L’Enfer so I liked in Black Swan more but on a second viewing is came off as really gimmicky.

Black Swan picture image

Natalie Portman as Nina

Also I don’t care for the characters. Black Swan is a character study of a dancer going crazy with a fairy tale woven throughout. Besides Nina’s perfection tendencies and being girly we don’t know that much about her. We know that she got into ballet because of her mother but that isn’t that much. We pretty much meet her and she starts going cuckoo. She couldn’t go a twenty minutes without the crazies starting. Now she did have the scratching habit and an eating disorder (I think) before but is that enough for very quick mental decline based on playing a dual role and taking a method style acting before she even starting rehearsing? I don’t think so, she just starts off crazy.

The other character are also one note, either sexy or prudes. The only character that has a little more than nothing going on is Beth a.k.a the dying Swan. A ballerina who is getting too old to dance and tries to commit suicide because Nina in a sense replaced her.

Natalie Portman as Nina (white swan) Black Swan picture image

Natalie Portman as Nina (white swan)

Now I get that the reason for the simple characters is that they are all dual role with character from the ballet and ballets aren’t know for their true to life characters and this duality is some thing I like. I like how the movie merged Swan Lake with a story about crazy dancer trying to be perfect while not being perfect. The duality of the white swan being childhood and innocence and killing that aspect and embracing a budding powerful sexuality to be a whole person is interesting. And the prince/Ballet head guy choosing the woman (black swan) over the child (white swan) is clever.

Black Swan picture image

Natalie Portman as Nina (black swan)

Despite the pretentious of this movie, it is really well down, though all the following Nina shots got old fast but it’s still a well crafted movie that does keep one guessing.

Though I gotta say I really loved the costumes, especially the ballet costumes. But the costumes fit into the simple nature of the characters. Mostly they all wear black and Nina where mostly whites and pinks and then shift to dark grays. I really liked Nina’s white gown but I love the Black Swan crown. I love how dark yet organic is it which is a combo you don’t see very often.

Natalie Portman as Nina becoming the black swan Black Swan picture image

Natalie Portman as Nina becoming the black swan

Black Swan is a polorzing movie, some people love it and others loath it. I can seem both sides which is why I hate respect Black Swan.

Painting of Esmeralda and Djali by Wilhelm Marstrand

Painting of Esmeralda and Djali by Wilhelm Marstrand

Get ready to be confuse because I know I am. Skin has three tones; Cool, Warm or  Neutral. No matter your skin color you’re one of these these tones. Cool means you have a blue tint to your skin, you burn easily and your veins look more blue. Warm means you have green tint and your veins look green. Neutral skin tone means you have the bluer veins but you don’t burn as easily, I think . However it’s very hard to REALLY judge the whole green vs blue veins and also I’m far from being an expert on skin tone, I can’t figure out my own skin tone. But we’re  not here to take about me, no we’re here to figure out Esmeralda’s skin tone using the book.

Victor Hugo surprising did give a few clues about Esmeralda’s skin tone though I’m sure that was not his intention at all and I’m reading way too much into the words he wrote back in 1831. So let’s begin.

Frollo at one point comments on Esmeralda’s blue veins. Blue Veins means she would have a cool tone. But there is more. There is some evidence that Esmeralda’s golden skin that resembles Roman and/or Spanish women is the result of tanning or being outside a lot. Which means she more than likely tans easily and doesn’t burn as much which points to a warm tone. But more than that, Hugo says Esmeralda has a Golden Skin tint.

So either Esmeralda has warm tone and Frollo misidentified the color of her veins OR she has a fairly medium neutral skin tone. Of course with all her depictions in media she runs the gambit of skin tones.

 

 

Esmeralda The Secret of the Hunchback picture image

Esmeralda

Ok, let’s be real, on the spectrum of songs that could be in a Hunchback movie  there is one end that is Disney and Notre Dame de Paris i.e good songs and then there are the songs on the level of the rapping dog from Titanic The legend goes on or what that shit was called or the shitty songs. The Secret of the Hunchback songs falls closer to the rapping dog end but it’s much better the songs from the Jetlag  version or Enchanted Tales.

The First song in this version is Esmeralda’s something more song and literally those are lyrics. This is unquestionably stupid, I mean they didn’t even try to hide the trope. She literally wants more than her current life offers. Though in her shallow naivety she just wants nice stuff and a cute boys  which feels very in line with book Esmeralda.

This overt song should bother me more but I like that the “Something more” is sing by one of the Goons who sings the line with regards to stealing more from people, which is cute. But it’s sung well and the music is fun. So sure it’s dumb but it’s sort of delightful and short.

Julian Sands as The Phantom & Asia Argento as Christine Daae The Phantom of the Opera Argento picture image

Julian Sands as The Phantom & Asia Argento as Christine Daae

One thing I will say about the 2004 version is that it is not the worst version of The Phantom of the Opera. This isn’t even an opinion because I can guarantee that if you ask anyone they will say the 1998 Italian Horror version directed by Dario Argento is the worse movie version. This version is just downright weird and unpleasant.

In this version the Phantom is NOT deformed, instead he was raised by rats and he has a little bit of a fetish for them. This raises so many questions as he speaks normally, plays musics, wears clothes etc, Did the rats teach him all that. Also considering that the deformity is what cause him his isolation and his madness, where does it come from? This movie doesn’t even get the basics right.

Christine is also very much into the Phantom and his weird sense of pick-up lines. He also rapes her. This is not a creditable version in the slightest.

There is SO many weird off-putting side plots and visual that leave with a sense that your brain is being evaporated through your eyes.

Please Don’t Watch this movie!

 

Site Note- To deal with some burn-out have been going through, I’m taking a brief break from posting on Mondays.

 

Ondine picture image

Ondine

Ondine is a 2009 modern telling of not so much a fairy-tale but more of the concept of Selkies. Selkies are a mystical creature that are like seals in the water but assume human form on land and if they are like the film’s idea of the they have a lot of rules.

Colin Farrell as Syracuse & Alicja Bachleda as Ondine Ondine picture image

Colin Farrell as Syracuse & Alicja Bachleda as Ondine

Ondine is about a down on his luck Irish fisherman, Syracuse who is a recovering alcoholic. He is divorced and his daughter has kidney failure, I know what a cliche. One day he pulls up a lady in this nets who doesn’t want to be seen by anyone. She goes by the name Ondine Also his luck starts turning around as he he catches more lobster and other big fish. Syracuse and his daughter, Annie start really thinking Ondine is a seal maiden but this story has a twist to it, which I won’t spoil.

Though they never explain how Syracuse caught those Salmon

Colin Farrell as Syracuse, Alicja Bachleda as Ondine & Alison Barry as Annie Ondine picture image

Colin Farrell as Syracuse, Alicja Bachleda as Ondine & Alison Barry as Annie

So while it turns out Ondine isn’t a selkie the movie REALLY plays up that she is till Syracuse hears the song she had been singing the whole time is real-world song by Sigur Ros. So if you don’t that she isn’t one the movie gives some world magical coincidences that point it being true, the movie tricks you.

And I will say that the big reveal/climax and ending are a little weird and silly in not the best way.

Alicja Bachleda as Ondine Ondine picture image

Alicja Bachleda as Ondine

But why does Ondine play that she is a selkie? She doesn’t really deny it. The reason is she wants to escape her sordid life and gives in to the fantasy that Annie and Syracuse come up with to explain it. I should make it clear, the idea that she is a Selkie comes from a hypothetical story that Syracuse tells Annie and she say “oh the story you’re telling is a about a selkie.” This give the story and the way the characters operate in the story fell organic even though they are flawed.

The shots of the Irish ocean and seaside are lovely. It has a very monochrome color palette that works for the story. There is also a understated rustic bohemian style. The acting is fine on the whole, nothing feels unnatural.

 

Alicja Bachleda as Ondine Ondine picture image

Alicja Bachleda as Ondine

Ondine is a take on the selkie myth with interesting characters and a story that doesn’t speak down the audience, though the ending is rather weird.

Rupert Grint picture image

Rupert Grint

Rupert Grint was suggested by Neala897 to play Quasimodo. Grint is most known for playing Ron Weasley in the Harry Potter film series. So let me just make a VERY unpopular statement, I’m not a big fan of Harry Potter. I have seen most of the movies but the story and characters never captured me. I don’t hate it but it’s not my thing.

Rupert Grint picture image

Rupert Grint

One thing that Grint has going for him in my opinion is that he is young. You can’t know how tired I am of seeing 40 years old actors playing Quasimodo. So the idea of a younger actor playing Quasimodo is great. Also he already has the red hair so double perk. Also base looks for Quasimodo don’t matter that much since the make-up should do the work on that score.

Rupert Grint as Johnny in Moonwalkers picture image

Rupert Grint as Johnny in Moonwalkers

But Quasimodo isn’t so much about the make-up, it’s a physical and emotional role filled with a ton of pathos. Considering Grint played Ron, who is more comedic and his lasted role in Moonwalkers, Grint does comedy role more but that doesn’t mean he couldn’t pull off the role. I think with right director and script, he could pull off Quasimodo.

Rupert Grint picture image

Rupert Grint

I would say all things considered, Rupert Grint wouldn’t be my top pick to play Quasimodo but he would be a fine Quasimodo especially over all the over 40 year old dudes who want to place the role for vanity.

Esmeralda with Pierre and masked Quasimodo The Secret of the Hunchback picture image

Esmeralda with Pierre and masked Quasimodo

Like as the case with MOST version of Hunchback aimed at kids the characters are overly-simplictic water down versions of the book characters mixed with touched of Disney. This version isn’t that much different except with regards to Frollo who is more of a copy of the Enchanted Tales version of Gaston. None of the characters are deep, they are just blandly nice, which makes them uninteresting.

Is it because these movies are for kids and kids don’t need as complex of characters? I don’t think that is true. While I think kids might have a higher level of torrence for bland nice character they still can gauge that they lack personalities. But the REAl reason why these are lack anything that makes the interesting save for the weird humor is this movie is a keep crash grab off of Disney  and bland characters are easier to create as no thought goes into being a nice person. One can’t just be nice.

Let’s just take any character from Moomins which is aimed at children too. All the characters are generally nice but they have other facets of their personality. Moomin is naive and adventure seeking, Little My is rude and Snork Maiden is vain. They all have flaws and that adds to the likable. Quasimodo’s only flaw is that he is ugly but aside from Frollo none of the other character have flaws, though Gringoire is delightfully bad a poetry.

So these character are boring version of the book characters/Disney. And yet they aren;r version of these character, Dingo and Enchated Tales are far worse.

Next Time we’re looking at the shitty songs