In light of the way the 2016 Oscars acting award nominations went and with the general whitewashing of roles in mainstream big budget Hollywood movies, Esmeralda is an interesting role to discuss as her book self and her film presence are at weird odds.

Patsy Ruth Miller as Esmeralda Hunchback chaney version 1923 picture image

Patsy Ruth Miller as Esmeralda

In the book Esmeralda is presented as a Romani, and without getting it into too much, the Romani people are Ethnically different from the rest of Europe specifically France.  However Esmeralda’s backstory in the novel is that she was born Agnes to a French woman and raised by the Romani. This backstory is really only presented in two movies (three if you think the Dingo version count), those versions are the 1923 version and the 1999 Parody version albeit that version flips things around whereas she is born Esmeralda to Cubans and raised as Agnes by mean French people.

Lesley-Anne Down as Esmeralda, 1982 Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Lesley-Anne Down as Esmeralda, 1982 Hunchback of Notre Dame

Esmeralda in most movie versions of Hunchback is depicted as a full Romani, though the 1982 version  there was a throw away line that questioned her background but it went no where, so it hardly matters.

Gina Lollobrigida as Esmeralda, 1956 Hunchback of Notre Dame, picture image

Gina Lollobrigida as Esmeralda, 1956 Hunchback of Notre Dame

This brings us back to the topic, as Hollywood whitewashes many roles it interesting to note that in Esmeralda’s case they take role of girl who despite having dark hair and eyes  with tanned skin is for all accounts a white girl and instead makes the role one for a very specially ethnic minority and yet casts mostly white women. So far in movie versions only Gina Lollobrigida and Salma Hayek have looked the way the film versions theoretically want to depict the character.

 

Maureen O'Hara as Esmeralda

Maureen O’Hara as Esmeralda

While in my own naive  little world I think casting should go to right person for the right part but it’s not that simple. A lot of roles are specific to someone’s looks and background. Hollywood however does of course forget that or ignores it and has a history of awarding parts that should go to people of minorities to white actors. Like the casting  of Emma Stone in Aloha or Rooney Mara in  Peter Pan or pretty much everyone in The Last Airbender or Scarlet Johansson as Major Motoko Kusanagi in the upcoming Ghost in the Shell movie, heck Lucy was a Akira knock-off… I digress. The list of whitewashing practices in Hollywood is long.

And as this pertain to the Oscars, actors who fall into minority seldom get nominations and seldom win. Just for example Asian actors which Indian actors fall into, Only two Actors won the Academy Award for Best Actor, Yul Brynner (1956) and Ben Kingsley (1982). Kingsley also  got a nominations in 2003. For Actress only Merle Oberon got a best actress nomination in 1935 and no one else since. For Best Supporting Actor, only Haing S Ngor has won in 1984  and only five others have been nominated, Sessue Hayakawa (1957), Mako (1966), Pat Morita (1984), Ben Kingsley (1991) and Ken Watanabe (2003). Oddly the same goes for Best Supporting Actoress with only one winner and five others nominated. The only Asian winner was Miyoshi Umeki in 1957. The five who were nominated were Meg Tilly (1985), Jennifer Tilly (1994), Shohreh Aghdashloo (2003), Rinko Kikuchi (2006) and Hailee Steinfeld (2010).

Salma Hayek as Esmeralda, 1997 Hunchback of Notre Dame, picture image

Salma Hayek as Esmeralda, 1997 Hunchback of Notre Dame

So how does this apply to Esmeralda? The Hunchback of Notre Dame as I have said before, could be one those movies made specifically to win  awards. The role of Esmeralda could be deepen which has been done in the past like in 1939 version or even the Disney version. It could be made into one those Oscar bait roles with relative ease. If that did happen given the state of Hollywood I would prefer to see an Actress who fits into the Romani look more than being a purist to the book. Either an Indian actress or Hispanic actress could fit nicely, though ideally, a young Romani actress would be ideal.

Melanie Thierry as Esmeralda

Melanie Thierry as Esmeralda

Though given Hollywood’s warped sense of itself they probably would make Esmeralda a Romani, as  is the traditional method to her character and cast a popular blonde actress.

Is there an actress you would like see play Esmeralda?

 

Paheli picture image

Paheli

Today we have a different fairy tale movie because it’s a Bollywood movie. Fantasy movies are uncommon in Bollywood and more to the point this movie is based on a folk tale. It’s also based on a short story written by Vijayadan Detha which also had another Bollywood movie based on it called Duvidha from 1973.

However the movie we’re going to look at today is called Paheli which means Riddle. It came out in 2005, stars Shah Rukh Khan in a double role and Rani Mukherji. It was also India’s entry for the 79th Academy Awards but since it’s not about Indians having issues with being Indians or some historical events it didn’t get the nomination.

Rani Mukherji as Lachchi and Shah Rukh Khan as the Ghost Paheli picture image

Rani Mukherji as Lachchi and Shah Rukh Khan as the Ghost

The plot goes that a young lady named Lachchi is getting married and she is pretty excited. On her way to her new husband’s home, they stop at a place where it’s said a bunch of ghosts lives erm haunt or really just hang out. One of these ghosts falls in love with Lachchi. And stalks her a little bit.

On their wedding night, Lachchi’s husband, Kishanlal, is more interested is managing accounts, much like he did on the road. He then tells Lachchi that his father is making him leave on a seven year business trip the next day, so it’s better if they do nothing on their wedding night as Lachichi has to stay behind. This devastates her. Kishanlal stops at the same place with ghosts from before, it’s like watering hole rest stop type of place. The ghost who loves Lachchi recognizes Kishanlal and takes on a physical form and learns about Kishanlal’s extended business trip. The ghost then takes on Kishanlal’s likeness and goes to his home so he can be with Lachchi. He does tell her that he is not her husband but a ghost that fell in love with her and he asks her what she wants. This moves her as no one ever asked her what she wanted before so she accepts him and his love.

They spend four blissful years together while Kishanlal pines for home and writes letters that don’t get deliver because the Ghost pissed off the messenger. However he returned home when he hears rumors of Lachchi’s pregnancy. To settle the two  Kishanlals the men decide to go to the King as one Kishanlal is totally cool and the other one is a massive whiner. Before they get to the king they run into a shepherd, who makes them perform tests to prove who is the real husband. The final test is that the Shepherd asks the real lover of Lachchi to enter a water bottle which the Ghost does and is sealed inside. This devastates Lachchi but then it’s revealed that the Ghost possessed Kishanlal before entering the water bottle so they can be together.

Just to note, the book ends with the Ghost staying in the water bottle.

Rani Mukherji as Lachchi and Shah Rukh Khan as the Ghost Paheli picture image

Rani Mukherji as Lachchi and Shah Rukh Khan as the Ghost

On the one hand this movie is very mean to Kishanlal who is just presented as weak-willed man who is just doing what his parents told him and he does harbors affection for his wife and then is all but abandon in his duty. However on that pesky other hand, the preceptive the movie took is about a woman who is posed with a riddle, live a sad life as the duty of marriage forces on her or take the love she is offered. According to Shah Rukh Khan it’s a woman’s liberation movie though small in scope.

This movie really is a riddle because Kishanlal and Lachchi are two side of the coin, Kishanlal does his duty and is punished for it to the extent that he is possessed by a Ghost for the sake of Love while Lachchi takes love in a selfish manner and is reward for it. The way the movie presents it, you’re on Lachchi and the Ghost’s side but it still misguided even with a nobler theme.

 

 Shah Rukh Khan as the Ghost Paheli picture image

Shah Rukh Khan as the Ghost

Given as the movie has its core story components at the start and end you would think that this would mean that the Characters would be a least be interesting. Well no.  The Ghost’s characterization is he is a bit of a prankster, nice and charming. That’s not bad but it’s very typical of characters played by Shah Rukh Khan which are ubiquitous. Lachchi doesn’t seem to have much of a personality either. She likes love but that is kind of it.

Rani Mukherji as Lachchi and Shah Rukh Khan as the Ghost Paheli picture image

Rani Mukherji as Lachchi and Shah Rukh Khan as the Ghost

As is standard with Bollywood movies this one has musical numbers. The songs aren’t bad but they are not that interesting either. All the songs are nice but run together in terms of sound. It could be because the movie is a period movie so there isn’t a ton of variations of style they could use effectively. Again the songs and choreography are nice and nothing more.

Rani Mukherji as Lachchi Paheli picture image

Rani Mukherji as Lachchi

Where this movie really shines is the technicals. It’s pretty! Most Bollywood movies are pretty, it’s their style but this one is lavish. The jewelry even gets its own credit. It was done by Tanishq and at the time of this movie’s release they offered a Paheli collection. The costumes are very nice too, nothing is very like distinctive as a stand-out but Lachchi is often seen wearing oranges with blues which is a striking combo.

Rani Mukherji as Lachchi Paheli picture image

Rani Mukherji as Lachchi

Paheli is a beautiful movie on the visual level but the spirit of love is well intentioned but misguided.

Big Fish picture image

Big Fish

Big Fish is 2003 movie by Tim Burton based on the 1998 novel of the same name by Daniel Wallace. It looks at the father-son relationship as well as storytelling. The fairy tale elements are woven into the story the father tells which creates a nice somewhat fluid narrative though this movie is not without its flaws.

Ewan McGregor as Edward Bloom & Alison Lohman as Sandra Big Fish picture image

Ewan McGregor as Edward Bloom & Alison Lohman as Sandra

This movie presents a very simple story in a very complicated manner. Very simply, it’s about a man who is trying to reconcile his father’s tall tales with his real life. In hearing the stories and seeking them out he learns that there is a half true to them but the impossible and grand stories are better to leave behind as a legacy. Of course the stories feature things like, giants, conjoined twins, werewolves, witches, mermaids and a very creepy yet happy town.

Ewan McGregor as Edward Bloom picture image

Ewan McGregor as Edward Bloom

The biggest thing about this movie is that all the stories were true to a far degree just mostly exaggerated to give them more importance and so that the father would in a sense live on through the stories. However this movie despite it grandness in a normal life is predictable and doesn’t offer any surprises. Is that a bad thing? No, but it worth noting and by the film’s own admission it complicates a simple story.

Albert Finney as Edward Bloom & Billy Crudup as Will Bloom Big Fish picture image

Albert Finney as Edward Bloom & Billy Crudup as Will Bloom

In a weird way this movie with its dreamy story vignettes would make you think this story wasn’t about the characters. And while the technicals stand out more than the characters, I would say this should be a character piece at least it’s about the father and son, but no one else really has a personality.

In fact the father, Edward Bloom has two personalities. Older Ed seems to only want to tell his stories and talk about himself while the younger version is a people person who wants to help. Both are ambitious and want to be “Big Fish” but I can’t really reconciles my mind around these two facets and I’m left not really liking either of them.

The son Will is a complainer. He wants the truth but he can’t handle the truth. Actually the truth is boring. Really he just the foil to his dad and nothing else. Though I did like the touch that he is a reporter, where he has to report the facts as they are.

Ewan McGregor as Edward Bloom Big Fish picture image

Ewan McGregor as Edward Bloom

The de-facto star of the movie are the technicals. It is a really lovely and dream-like in the shots and cinematography. The use of colors of bright and cheerful for the stories and darker for hard realities. It’s a great movie to watch.

The acting is mostly good but nothing amazing, though listening to Ewan McGregor do a Southern accent made me think of Vivien Leigh, though didn’t he use a Southern accent in Down with Love, which I saw on a plane.

Also The Danny Elfman score is very Elfman-eseque which is lovely, fitting to the story and predictable.

Albert Finney as Edward Bloom & Jessica Lange as Sandra Bloom Big Fish picture image

Albert Finney as Edward Bloom & Jessica Lange as Sandra Bloom

Big Fish is a lovely movie though it has its issues it well paced and is touching.

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.

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 it 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.

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 know 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 gives 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.

Sydney White picture image

Sydney White

In the scope of movies, this shit isn’t the worst thing ever made by humans but it comes so close. Sydney White is “modern” retelling of Snow White from 2007. It’s tries really hard to be funny, clever and delightful that it is unsettling, beyong dumb and painfully unlikable.

Amanda Bynes as Sydney with The Seven Dorks Sydney White picture image

Amanda Bynes as Sydney with The Seven Dorks

If you want to know the plot it’s Snow White but in college with  frats and sororities. But instead of evil witch, it’s bitchy rich sorority girl, instead of a  magic mirror it’s a Myspace list, instead of dwarfs they are dorks and instead of a poisoned apple it’s a Mac that gets a virus.  The virus mac really only pads out the movie for like a minute and half. Really she does what every other college student has to do, write a paper the night before it’s due, and she does, great conflict there movie.

Also the Prince’s last name is Prince, ZOMG is so fucking CLEVER. And the bitch blonde girl’s last name is Witchburn. My mind is blown by this movie’s cleverness.  Pfffffft.

Amanda Bynes as Sydney and Sara Paxton as Rachel Witchburn Sydney White picture image

Amanda Bynes as Sydney and Sara Paxton as Rachel Witchburn

This movie operates on tried boring stereotypes. Like that all rich blondes who care about their looks and like designer labels are terrible people, it’s like Clueless and Legally Blonde never existed.  Or all “dorks” are all a socially awkward losers with allergies. And cool girls are like dudes, in that they read comics and know football.  And popular guys are normal and like video games.

It is interesting to watch this movie in nearly a decade later as the “dorks” are more socially acceptable. Like making video game is great and Star Wars Episode 7 is the highest grossing movie ever. But the climax is everyone saying they are dork, yay fitting in? It’s dumb.

Also Syndey herself as mention is one those chill, nice, pretty girls who is more like a dube-bro. But the films tries to make her comfortable with the dorks by making her like “comics” BUT there isn’t a SINGLE scene of her reading one. She just has them and refers to the once or twice same with football. She is a jock and that makes her attractive in the movie world. But women who like being “feminine” are “bitchy” and “shallow.” This a girl-power movie at it’s most superficial from the male-gaze.

Amanda Bynes as Sydney and Matt Long as Tyler Prince Sydney White picture image

Amanda Bynes as Sydney and Matt Long as Tyler Prince

So the characters are all one dimensional ass-hats even the so-called likable ones, so the real question is that since the plot is just Snow White at college with stall characters right out of script from the early 1980’s  how are the technicals. Well, the acting is shit. It feels likes  VERY sitcom circa 1980’s.  But with Bynes’ acting I couldn’t not made a distinction between her being snarky, sarcastic and nice.

Also what was up with Sydney’s tan? It was distracting and not even from the source material angle, she just looked orange. So the technicals sucked.

Amanda Bynes as Sydney with two dorks Sydney White picture image

Amanda Bynes as Sydney with two of the Dorks

I pretty hated everything about Sydney White, but more than that I hated that some wrote this thinking they were being clever, funny and charming and got paid money and have a career. I hate that shit like this gets made when there are literally thousands of more talented people writing better stories, scripts and characters on fan-fictions site.

Also Kappas are a creature from Japanese Folklore. They are a River Imp.

Way back in July, Skylar suggested that I make a list of my personal favorite movies. So here they are, my ten favorite movies in no particular order as of December 2015.

Stiff Upper Lips  

Samuel West as Edward Stiff Upper Lips picture image

Samuel West as Edward

Stiff Upper Lips is a parody of British Edwardian movies in particular Merchant of Ivory movies and that time period all together.  I first saw this on Masterpiece theater and thought it was super silly. It’s super well acted, the sets and costumes are great and the humor is awesome.  I quote this movie all the time, in fact my AMV editing name came out this movie.

Veer-Zaara

Shah Rukh Khan as Veer and Preity Zinta as Zaara in Veer-Zaara picture image

Shah Rukh Khan as Veer and Preity Zinta as Zaara in Veer-Zaara

Veer-Zaara is a Bollywood movie and it was the second one I ever watched, the first was Devdas. It’s such a lovely movie in its look, plot and characters. I know it flawed but I really love it.

 

Parineeta

Vidya Balan as Lalita in Parineeta picture image

Vidya Balan as Lalita in Parineeta

Another Bollywood movie. I watched this movie late one night when I was very anxious and it calmed me right down so this movie has a calming influence on me. Again it just a lovely pretty movie.

Lust/Caution

Tang Wei as Wong Chia-chi and Tony Leung Chiu-Wai as Mr. Yee in Lust/Caution picture image

Tang Wei as Wong Chia-chi and Tony Leung Chiu-Wai as Mr. Yee in Lust/Caution

If you want a Depressing movie about China in WWII here ya go. This is not like a nice movie in its plot BUT it’s so pretty. It was based on a novella and the movie gives the plot/characters so much depth without like spelling it out for you. It’s a really well done movie.

 

Castle in the Sky

Pazu and Sheeta seeing Laputa Castle in the Sky picture image

Pazu and Sheeta seeing Laputa

I have talked a out this one before, I love it.

Land before Time (Original, the sequels do not exist)

The Land Before time picture image

The Land Before time

This movie, this movie, sigh, it was my childhood favorite. I loved dinosaur when I was a little kid. This movie is traumatic for little ones but I love the characters and the animation is still great.

L’Amant (The Lover)

Jane March and Tony Leung Ka-fai in The Lover (L'Amant) picture image

Jane March and Tony Leung Ka-fai in The Lover (L’Amant)

I think this movie is like a guilty pleasure for me. It doesn’t have a plot but it has a meaning and point. Again it’s a well done movie.

 

Flushed Away

Flushed Away picture image

Flushed Away

The first time I saw this one I thought I was going to hate it but I loved it. I love its humor  characters and style (in parts). I love the slugs, the frogs, and Robby’s alias Millicent Bystander. I also love the mime on the cell phone.

Frida

Salma Hayek as Frida Kahlo picture image

Salma Hayek as Frida Kahlo

Agian it such a beautiful movie. I love the way the film incorporated Frida’s artwork into the style of the movie.

Hero

Maggie Cheung as Flying Snow in Hero picture image

Maggie Cheung as Flying Snow in Hero

GAH This Movie is way too pretty, I love it.

So yeah those are some of my favorite movies. I actually watch a lot more TV shows (and anime) than movies like as go to things or just in general.  I need to watch more movies.

Here some Honorable Mentions,

Gone with the Wind (I love Scarlett, I think is a great character, terrible person but great character and the costumes.)

Gloomy Sunday (Another depressing yet lovely movie, I love the ending though.)

Rebecca (I love the mood and style of this one)

Ranma 1/2 second movie Nihao My Concubine (Ranma is one my favorite anime and this was the first thing I saw of it and I was confused but I still love it)

Asoka (I love the music in this one and the style)

La belle et La Bete (I have talked about this one before)

Muppets Caper and Most Wanted (I love the muppets and I can’t pick between these two^^)

Lady and the Tramp/Dumbo (I dunno why  love these movies as much as I do. I might do my top disney movie )

Gorgeous (I need to rewatch it because I loved when I first saw it but I can’t recall it well right now except for the Just Smile fight which was awesome)

 

 

The Neverending Story picture image

The Neverending Story

Ah, the 1980’s when it was totally ok to traumatized the child audience with creepy imagery, weird complex meta plots and harsh heart-break. This is where the 1984 movie The Neverending Story comes in. It was based on the first half of a book of the same name by Michael Ende.

It was a West German English language movie. At the time it was the most expensive film produced outside the USA or the USSR. It also spawned two bad sequels, which I’m not getting in to.

Noah Hathaway as Atreyu and Falkor The Neverending Story picture image

Noah Hathaway as Atreyu and Falkor

So nerdy, cowardly bibliophile, Bastian is getting chased by bullies and hides out in a creepy book store. He impressive the shopkeep with all the book he has read but the shopkeep tells him that the book he is currently reading is different. Bastian takes to book though he promises to return it. Bastian then skipped a math test to read the book in the school’s creepy attic.

The story is about a world called Fantasia that is quickly being reduced to nothing. The Nothing is some kind of weird force engry thing erasing the world. The ruler of Fantasia, The Childlike Empress is somehow dying and she summons a warrior from the Plain people who hunt the Purple Buffalo, Atreyu to find a cure for her illness. Atreyu has to leave all him weapons behind but is given AURYN which like The Empress symbol and will protect him.

So off Atreyu goes on his quest with his horse pal Artax. They are being follows though by an agent of the Nothing, a wolf-like creature named Gmork. Atreyu literally wonder around aimlessly till he get an idea to ask a great old ancient one named Morla but to get there he has to go through the Swamps of Sadness. There if you let the sadness get to you, you drown. This what happens to Artax, he becomes sad, sinks, and dies, and if you don’t cry at this scene your heartless.

Atreyu meets Moral who is a giant Turtle and is the mountain that Atreyu was standing on, this freaks out Bastian and his scream is heard by Atreyu and Morla. Anyway Morla is a little draft and not super helpful to Atreyu. Moral suggests that Atreyu go to the Southern Oracle who is 10,000 miles away. Atreyu despairs and in nearly caught by Gmork but he saved.

He is saved, treated and brought close to the Southern Oracle by Falkor, a luck dragon who just like children. Atreyu then meets Engywook and Urgl. Engywook is an expert of the Southern Oracle and he shows Atreyu the first gate to get to the Oracles, The Sphinx Gate. Those who don’t know their own worth are killed by the gate. Atreyu tries to pass through but he loses his confidence. He does escape teh blast from the Sphinx’s eyes but Engywook bemoans that he didn’t tell Atreyu about the Mirror gate which shows a person’s true self. At the icy gate Atreyu sees Bastian reading the book, which freaks Bastian out and he throws the book but resumes reading.
Atreyu gets to the Southern Oracles who tells him the only way to save the Empress is for a Human child to give her a new name. Atreyu tries to find the human child but Nothing hits them and he falls off Falkor and he loses AURYN. It’s here that Gmork shows up and tells Atreyu that Fantasia is a place made up of Human’s imagination amd the nothing is like adult apathy. He also says he in league with the nothing because with out Imagination and hope people are easier to control. Atreyu then kills Gmork.

Falkor find AURYN and Atreyu but Fantasia is destory and it just bits of ground. Atreyu wonders if The Empress‘ seat of power, The Ivory Tower exists. They find it intact. Atreyu meets with the Childlike Empress. She tells him that Atreyu did not fail his quest and they he brought a Human child with him who has been with him on his quest. Bastian relieve she is talking to him. She begs him to give her a name. Bastian is hesitate but give her the name of Moon Child, which was his mother’s name, and I can hear him say Moon Child. The Empress shows Bastian the only bit of Fantasia that exists, a single grain of sand but through Bastian dreams and wish he can bring back Fantasia. Bastian then makes a wish to fly Falkor and scare the bullies.

Barret Oliver as Bastian The Neverending Story picture image

Barret Oliver as Bastian

According to some, the book is better as it has more going on and Atreyu is green. I never read the book though I have heard the author didn’t really like the movie but let’s just keep to the film in question.

So this story is REALLY complex, I’m not sure I can get my head fully around it. That or I’m trying too hard. The story makes it’s clear that Atreyu and Bastian are like two side of the same coin. Atreyu was picked because he was the one to appealed to Bastian and in turn Bastian is a surrogate for the audience watch him.

So does that mean, if I were to read the story in the film’s context that I would get the same story but with a different character? Like the character I relate to does the same things as Atreyu, which really isn’t that much and I give the Empress a new name like I dunno Sally or Mabel Joy Snickerdoodle the Third? Or would be a different story? Or is the battle with the nothing and the the renaming the first time you read the book then after you get the Emptiness and the Babbies? Or something else. See what I mean about over thinking it? But there is this lovely philosophy that the movie has about the power of one’s imagination.

Noah Hathaway as Atreyu and Artax The Neverending Story picture image

Noah Hathaway as Atreyu and Artax

As I mention before this movie has its moments of scaring children, both in the movie and to the audience. First this movie was very hard on the child actor who played Atreyu, Noah Hathway. He was hurt twice and nearly lost an eye. The role was also looked physically exhausting.

But more than that there is the Swamp of Sadness scene where Artax dies and you can see Atreyu’s going through of the stages of Grief and really his performance makes that scene heartbreaking never to the horse just stand there. Also the horse didn’t really die, there was an elevator which admittedly hurt Hathaway and not the horse. The movie shows that you that child can take a lot of dark and sad imagery as long there is a happy ending and at the end Artax is alive again, though that scene will always get me.

Tami Stronach as The Childlike Empress, The Neverending Story picture image

Tami Stronach as The Childlike Empress

I’m a character person, I can forgive a lot if I like the characters. So how are the characters? Well, they are interesting in their simplicity. Most are not deep or fleshed out with engaging backstories, problems or flaws.

The most developed character is Bastian since we get a sense him and he is the only was with flaws and a character arc of overcoming being a wuss and learning there is value is dreams and imagination. And even still his is annoying.

The rest of the character have elegances to the way they presented in the movie. Their simplicity makes them likable in a effortless way. I would say for me my favorites character are Falkor and the Childlike Empress but the racing snail was so adorable so honorable mention.

The Sphinx Gate The Neverending Story picture image

The Sphinx Gate

The technicals in this movie are lovely. Sure at time they look stagy but there is a nice lush and realness to them. It gives the movie a very unique look, tone and atmosphere. Everything looks like it was made to best of the ability at the time and it adds so much to feel of the fantasy.

Also while costumes are really a focus in this movie, I love The Childlike Empress’s Art Noveau pearl white gown, it’s so pretty.

As I just want to add, I love way the world feels very big and old in this movie.

Barret Oliver as Bastian and Falkor The Neverending Story picture image

Barret Oliver as Bastian and Falkor

The Neverending Story is a classic example of 1980’s children fantasy. Is it a perfect movie? No, is fun and interesting? Yes!

Deep Roy as Teeny Weeny with the Racing Snail The Neverending Story picture image

Deep Roy as Teeny Weeny with the Racing Snail

clue 1 and Clue 2

The Slipper and the Rose Cinderella picture image

The Slipper and the Rose

The Slipper and the Rose is another title I randomly found. It was made in 1976 and it was based on a book of the same name. From what I can gather it was musical movie not based on a stage show, which was more of the standard back then. These days it’s more typical that movies are based of a pre-exiting stage show unless it’s Disney.

Anyway this is a Cinderella movie. So we have have seen intellectually ass-kicking Cinderella, a Gandhi type Cinderella and one who likes nuts but how does this one compare? Well Cinderella in this one is nice, as in the norm but this movie isn’t really Cinderella’s story it’s more about the Prince.

Gemma Craven as Cinderella and Richard Chamberlain as Prince Edward The Slipper and the Rose Cinderella picture image

Gemma Craven as Cinderella and Richard Chamberlain as Prince Edward

The plot is quite simple but have some differences. Prince Edward of some made-up European country, Euphrania, is being pushed to marry a royal princess for both succession and secure an army. Edward however would rather marry for love and doesn’t fancy any of the princesses.

Meanwhile, Cinderella’s‘ father has died and she is pushed into serving for her mean stepmother and dum-dum step sisters. It was either that or go to an orphanage. One day Cinderella seeks off to her parents graves. She then spies on the Prince who does notice her. When she returns home her stepmother is mad at her and gives her a mountain of vegetables to prep. She then gets a visit from a woman who has magical powers who gives her a dog and while Cinderella’s back is turned finishes her prep work.

The King arranges a ‘Bride Finding Ball” for the Prince which he is not keen on but his  foppish cousin wants a lady. Also there is a subplot that Edward’s servant companion, John, is in love with a lady too far above him and his position in life makes him unable to anything about. The king extends invite to his subject to fill up the room. The stepmother and the step-sisters miss their chance to get new gowns she Cinderella is forced to rework old gowns into new ones. She doesn’t do a good job and the magical woman visits her again and she reveals she is a fairy Godmother. The Fairy Godmother does Cinderella work and stepmother and the girls are please. The Fairy Godmother decides to revisit Cinderella and decide she will borrow magic to get Cinderella to the ball. The magic has to be return at midnight so she must leave before then.

Cinderella makes her entrance as Princess. Edward falls instantly in love with her. They dance and bond for a little but she runs away at midnight and leaves her very dainty glass slipper. Edward does the customary slipper search but can’t find her. Three months later Edward makes a monument to his lost love. He then elevates John to a knight so he can go after his lady love. Edwards get mad and throw the slipper away off some tower.

Cinderella’s dog finds it and brings her to it. John sees Cinderella and tells Edward. Edward and Cinderella reunite and decide to get married. Edward asks the stepmother for permission which she grants and Cinderella forgives her which the stepmother doesn’t take kindly too.

The political implications of Edward marry a girl without the aid of a strong country backing her prompts the king to send Cinderella into exile. Cinderella then asks the Chamberlin to lie to Edward saying that she never loved him. Edward mad that he has lost his love twice says he will marry who ever father wants but the line ends with him.

On the day of Edward’s wedding, The Fairy Godmother sees Cinderella in exile saying this wasn’t her plan and now she will have to something spectacular. As Edward is getting married Cinderella comes down the aisle after the bride which causes a commation. The Fairy Godmother convinces the King to allow the marriage and makes it so Edward’s cousin and the Princess Edward was suppose to marry to fall in love. And thus Cinderella and Edward get married.

Gemma Craven as Cinderella and Annette Crosbie as the Fairy Godmother The Slipper and the Rose Cinderella picture image

Gemma Craven as Cinderella and Annette Crosbie as the Fairy Godmother

I knew nothing about this movie so I was very surprised to actually like it as much as I did. It’s very entertaining. Is it deep with developed characters? Yes and no. There isn’t much to Cinderella though she does have a bit of a mouth of her when the stepmother first made her a maid. She also doesn’t except anything from the ball and meeting the Prince. He wanted marriage and she wanted a fun night out, they make that clear. But this movie does give the Prince a.k.a Edward and the Fairy Godmother more to do.

A common complaint I have seen about the Fairy Godmother is that she only helped Cinderella go to ball after years of abuse. Here she does help her more than once and Cinderella wasn’t subject to years of indentured servitude, maybe nine months, tops. Also I like that movie gives a reason for why Cinderella must leave before Midnight instead the standard magic shit just wears off.

Gemma Craven as Cinderella and Richard Chamberlain as Prince Edward The Slipper and the Rose Cinderella picture image

Gemma Craven as Cinderella and Richard Chamberlain as Prince Edward

This movie is really about the Prince. His motivation is just he just wants to be in love with someone he wants. Not a deep or novel motivation but it works. The movie builds up the class systems and how it’s in opposition to Edward’s desire. In fact every song with the exception of the the Fairy Godmother/Cinderella’s make over song is either about Positions in society or love/marriages.

Gemma Craven as Cinderella The Slipper and the Rose Cinderella picture image

Gemma Craven as Cinderella

The reason why the simplicity of the characters work is because this movie is really well acted. The actors sell everything. Edward and Cinderella have such a good chemistry with each other that it makes up for their love at first sight love. I don’t think the roles are hard to play but they do a good job conveying everything. For example right before Cinderella enters the ball Edward makes this face the indicated he annoyed by another Princess arriving but then his face lights up when he sees her. It’s a subtle little thing but it a good example of the acting in this movie.

Gemma Craven as Cinderella and Richard Chamberlain as Prince Edward The Slipper and the Rose Cinderella picture image

Gemma Craven as Cinderella and Richard Chamberlain as Prince Edward

So at last we come to the technicals. Well this movie is very stagey in its editing and direction. I can see this being off putting to some. I didn’t mind it. It’s not the best but I think it adds the tone of the movie. The songs aren’t amazing but they are fun. I didn’t hate any of them. Protocolligorically Correct might have been my favorite.

Now the costumes. They were wonderful. They were all impeccable and just added so much to the vibe of the movie. They were in that 1740’s style of fashion. They even recreate Jean-Honoré Fragonard’s Swing painting for Cinderella’s exile gown. Even Cinderella’s working dress is pretty. However there is an subtly in the way the movie presents the costumes that it doesn’t really call attention to itself as it just woven seamlessly into the film. I think comes the movie keeps to one style and all the costume even for the extra seems just as lovely as the ones for the leading characters, with some exceptions.

Gemma Craven as Cinderella and Annette Crosbie as the Fairy Godmother The Slipper and the Rose Cinderella picture image

Gemma Craven as Cinderella and Annette Crosbie as the Fairy Godmother

Is The Slipper and the Rose the best Cinderella movie version? Maybe not but it is very enjoyable. I would recommend it if you want 2 hours of fun songs, beautiful costumes and likable acting.

One clue this week because I’m making it too easy.