Tag Archives: movie

A Horrible Confession

It’s that time of year again.

The second half of October is, in the eyes of the English-speaking world, a time for carving pumpkins, picking a scary costume and reading horror books. In other words, Halloween’s coming!

In Slovenia, we typically never celebrated Halloween as a holiday. We do get a free day for November 1, All Saints’ Day, and visit the graves of the people who meant something to us and passed away. We also light loads of candles. In recent years, however, Halloween parties have become more popular, especially among the student population (costume parties are always a favourite). :)

But I don’t like it. I find it weird that Anglo-American habits are leaking into our culture, even though I’m all for multiculturality. At a risk of souding like a grumpy old lady, it’s a very commercial practice, what with the spooky paraphernalia and costumes – much like Valentine’s Day which was never a huge thing in Slovenia until the arrival of American pop culture. We have a holiday called Pust (at the beginning of Lent), when we dress up in all sorts of costumes and try to chase winter away.

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To be honest, though, much of my dislike for Halloween stems from my intense dislike of anything horror-related. I am a total chicken when it comes to movies and books that are even remotely scary.

I used to watch horror movies, but I stopped because they gave me nightmares. I specifically remember the last horror movie I saw, the original version of Rec, which is so terrifying I can’t even think about it without shuddering. Seriously, it’s a problem for me. I once walked out of the movie theatre when I realised a movie we were going to see was a horror story (it was The Orphanage and I’m really glad I didn’t stay because little kids’ ghosts are just something I can’t deal with).

I’m not sure I ever read any true horror books, unless Bram Stoker’s Dracula counts as one, and I didn’t finish that one because my brother scared the living hell out of me when he jumped at me, yelling like a crazy person, while I was reading it. I’m telling you, I’m not a fan of scary stuff.

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But the truth is that this dislike for everything scary extends to real life situations as well. I hate walking alone at night, even though I live in a safe neighbourhood, and I always had problems with walking through the woods at night, even though I’m a scout. We used to have night orientation races and I always got through them on an adrenaline high and then had to eat loads of chocolate afterwards. I don’t like being alone in houses where I feel people can see in when I can’t see what’s happening outside. Seriously, people, the dark just gets me.

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This is why I don’t participate in any horror readalongs or fall events. Everything seems to be centered around getting scared as much as possible and my fragile self just can’t deal with that! :) I really like autumn as far as the colours and the weather and the clothes and the food go, but I tend to ignore much of the cultural stuff in this time of year.

However, I recently realized that I am not alone! There are other people who hate horror and scary stuff, so I’m thinking about giving this Halloween stuff a chance next year. Here is a very nice list of “Creepy Reads for Squeamish Readers”, if you’re like me and interested in getting into the mood regardless of your fears, and here is a guide to books with witches and dark magic, which, I admit, aren’t all that bad (and not as scary, usually)!

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Do you like Halloween? How about reading/watching horror? Do you share my dislike for anything that gives you goosebumps?

I’d love to hear your thoughts, people, so come and share! :)

Movie Review: Guardians of the Galaxy

guardians_of_the_galaxyGuardians of the Galaxy, Marvel Studios, 2014.

Director: James Gunn.

Runtime: 121 minutes.

Stars: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Vin Diesel, Dave Bautista, Bradley Cooper.

IMDb. Facebook. Official Site.

IMDb rating: 8.6/10.

My rating: 7/10.

 

 

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I’m a fan of Marvel movies. And other sci-fi (I think the Star Trek movies might just be my favourites). I’ve watched both Thor movies, X-MenThe AvengersCaptain America, Iron Man (though this one isn’t a favourite) and so on. But I’ve never read the comics, so I never know what true fans think about these adaptations. For me, they are an excellent opportunity to see some kick-ass action, gorgeous heroes, bantery humor and cool storylines. I always watch them with my husband, who enjoys all of the above, but prefers Natalie Portman to Chris Hemsworth. So they’re movies made for the both of us, which is cool. :)

I really liked Guardians of the Galaxy. I liked the characters, the smart dialogue, and the soundtrack – the soundtrack was really great, people! I liked that the movie didn’t take itself too seriously, because serious sci-fi is really hard to get right.

I loved Rocket, the genetically engineered racoon whom Bradly Cooper brought to life in such an awesome fashion. I think the last Bradley Cooper movie I saw was American Hustle, so I kept seeing his terrible, terrible hairdo, but I’m really happy with what he did with the racoon. Groot the tree was cool as well, though he didn’t require that much innovation when it came to his lines (I am Groot.). He reminded me a bit of Hodor from The Game of Thrones, truth be told, and I’m never sure if these similarities are accidental, a nod to the previously existing bit of culture, or plagiarism. Anyway, I thought the tiny dancing Groot was really cute!

Chris Pratt was just handsome enough to pull off Peter Quill’s cocky attitude. I haven’t really seen him in other movies before, so I can’t compare this performance to others, but I liked him well enough. As I’ve said, the movie doesn’t take itself too seriously, so Quill isn’t some gorgeous heart-throb (he’s more of a Captain Kirk from Star Trek than a Thor, I’d say), but I think found the walkman-listening scene with Gamora to be one of the best in the movie.

And then we come to Gamora. Gamora, played by a green-skinned Zoe Saldana, is a genetically mutated assassin. And she’s kick-ass, she really is, perfectly trained and everything. She’s got a tragic past and all, but I still felt she was rather too… bland. While she smacked around the bad guys, she never took the initiative but mostly followed other people’s (other men’s) orders and ideas. As one of the five main characters in the movie – and the only female – she really could have been more fleshed-out and self-sufficient. I always have a problem with this, I can’t help it.

From the movies I’ve listed only X-Men come close to anything remotely similar to gender equality, I’m sad to say. I always feel like I’m repeating myself when I start going on about “hot females who look like they’re independent and are dangerous and all but are only there to serve as props most of the time”. Think of Uhura (also played by Saldana) in Star Trek, Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) in The Avengers, Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) in Thor, Mikaela (Megan Fox) in Transformers, Lois Lane (Amy Adams) in Superman and Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone) in The Amazing Spider-Man. I really wish for a heroine that would have her own agenda, her own sense of purpose and her very own strength, regardless of her male companions. Maybe Wonder Woman and the female Thor will change this, and maybe sci-fi will always be ruled by men. But I hope not.

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If you’d like to check out other book bloggers’ reviews of the movie, here are two I’ve encountered: Book Haven and Reviews from a Bookworm.

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Have you watched the movie? I’d love to hear your thoughts! 

Have you also read the comics? Do you like Marvel’s movies in general?

 

The Girl Can’t Help It

Yesterday, I saw Frank Tashlin’s The Girl Can’t Help It (1956) in our local cinema. It was accompanied by a photographic exhibition of modern pin-up girls and a whole lot of rock’n’roll music.

The_Girl_Can't_Help_It_poster

♪ “The Girl Can’t Help It” by Little Richard

While the movie was pleasant with lots of situation comedy, I was quietly horrified by the sexist message of the story. Georgiana (Jerri) catches the eye of a retired mobster, Marty ‘Fats’ Murdock, and he decides to make her a star so he can marry a somebody. He hires an agent, Tom Miller, to promote her, and then flies into jealous rages because Jerri and Tom fall for each other.

I want to say (I really do) that the situation in show business has changed since the 1950s, but it hasn’t, not really. The part of the movie where Tom takes Jerri to all the bars of his acquaintances in a scandalously sexy sequined red gown is supposed to be funny (and it is, and people laughed, don’t get me wrong), but it’s actually rather insulting for the poor woman whose verbal reactions are limited to answering “Ask my agent” to any and all inquires from the drooling men.

But this really isn’t any different from modern “honeypot” scenes. Just think of recent action movies (Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol springs to mind). Sometimes, these women have other “redeeming qualities” – as in, they also kick ass and the movie focuses on that as well. But not always. And this complete objectification of the female body is what bothers me so much, people!

On the sidenote, I learned that Jayne Mansfield, who played Jerri, was one of the original Hollywood “blonde bombshells” and an important sex icon, like Marilyn Monroe. She died in a horrific traffic accident when she was just 34. Yikes.

So, did I have a pleasant evening? Yes. Will I be recommending this movie to people? Not very likely. Sometimes that’s just the way it is.