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Update and thoughts on movies

Quick update, just because: I have a new phone! No new phone number, and everything in my contacts list transferred over, so this is just me squeeing a little and letting people know that maybe now my phone will no longer drop every other call. Okay, so, coolest part of getting a new phone: the charger can charge via USB. I can charge my phone on the computer or via an outlet. How cool is that, seriously?

As a side note, my sister got a new phone at the same time (her battery life was less than 12 hours), and one of her ringtones was called Dancing Cowboy. How cool is that? My coolest one was called Born To Dance, which isn't nearly as cool.

And now that I've conned you all into reading, I'm going to write a little about more stuff that really doesn't matter. Although if you don't care, I really wouldn't blame you and you're welcome to stop now. I've been wanting to make a post on random stuff, mostly media related, for a bit now, but none of this stuff deserves a 10th of Awesome or anything like that, so it gets part of a normal LJ post.

First thing to talk about: what I like about Castle For those of you who haven't seen it, it's a show about a famous, rich writer called Castle (Nathan Fillion) who gets the mayor to give him permission to follow around investigator Kate Beckett (Stana Katic) as research for his books. It's a bit police procedural, a lot mystery show, and a fair amount comedy. It's not a fantastic show; it's good, but it definitely doesn't count as more than that. The mysteries are simple and easily solvable within the episode, the writing is pretty good but nothing stellar or award winning, and the acting...okay, the acting is really good 90% of the time. Honestly, the real reason I like the show so much is the characters. Those who know me well know I'm a character girl through and through, and this is an example of a show with really good characters. To give an example, the most recent episode featured a one-shot character who has never appeared before and may well never appear again. By the end of the episode, this character is extraordinarily well developed, undermines character stereotypes, has flaws and good characteristics in balance, and has become a likeable person, not just an image. And that's just for a one-episode character. Castle and his family, Beckett and her coworkers, all of them are very well fleshed out, given their own lives and backstories and personalities. The show also has this tendency to give itself opportunities for lighthearted meta, like when Castle says it would be way too meta for him to sleep with an actress representing his own character in a movie.

Additionally, the show actually does pretty fantastically with the female characters. All or them are allowed a sexuality, are allowed great characters, are given plenty of slack to be whatever or however they want to. Beckett's allowed a couple of one-night stands without any judgment, and given a steady boyfriend with whom she seems to have a healthy sex life. Castle is the same, minus the steady. (And, okay, fessing up, I really don't ship them together, and I really desperately hope the show stays with its current plan of vague sexual tension with them going with others occasionally, but nothing more between them, forever.)

Obviously, since I haven't given this show its own spotlight before now, it's not perfect. As far as social issues go, there are very few non-white characters, no non-straight characters that I can remember, no characters are too skinny or overweight by societal standards, and no recurring characters who are not between the ages of 16 and late thirties. Like I said before, the mysteries are simple as well, and to be honest the show has this unfortunate tendency to turn a lot of the genuinely poignant/thoughtful character development given to Castle's family, into life lessons for Castle. Example: his mother's longtime boyfriend who just proposed to her dies. We have never met this character. His death and Castle's mother's suffering become a lesson to Castle on how brief life. Yeeeah. Not perfect. But, I love the characters, I love the character development, and I think it's a very funny show on its own.

Thing number two to talk about: horror movies. One general statement, and then a little more specific. The general statement, to all horror writers and filmmakers out there: things are less scary when you show their faces and give them personalities. Seriously, how hard is this to get through your heads? It's been said by others before me, so I know I'm just reiterating, but still, it apparently needs it. (For those who are wondering, 30 Days of Night set that off.) If you can't see something, it's a lot scarier than if you can. For example, Sunshine is terrifying, even if you do have to ignore any and all science in it, because you never see the monster, and because the monster cannot be reasoned with or quantified for that reason (I know there is some disagreement on this point, but this is my opinion). It's also what makes zombies so deliciously scary to me: you can't reason with them, and they will just keep coming, never slowing or becoming sated, unless you put them down.

Obviously, there are a lot of things that can make effective horror, and with that I will be talking about Silent Hill the movie. (Why yes, I have been using break to catch up on my list of movies I've been meaning to watch.) Okay, I'm gonna ignore most of the normal review elements here because honestly, I don't really want to review this. Most of what I want to say can be summed up by this: I am the target audience for this movie.

Okay, that's not actually true; the target audiences that the makers were going for was both people who have played the games, and people who haven't. However, because of how the end result came out, I really did end up as the target audience. I'm not really a gamer as such; I own a grand total of three games or so, and two out of those three are really short. I like to play videogames, but I'm not usually dedicated enough to become really good at anything that requires a lot of skill or leveling quickly. However, I think videogames are a great medium to combine a lot of different elements, such as storytelling, worldbuilding, graphical elements, gameplay, difficulty/easiness of control, and so on. Basically I really like video games as a medium. This means I've looked up stuff on videogames I'm interested in or are famous or landmark games, such as the Silent Hill games. I'll never play them, and I haven't watched gameplay, but I've read about the plots, how the games work, what the monsters are meant to do and represent, the characters, etc. So, I know enough about the games generally to be able to tell what the movie isn't filling in and to spot references and easter eggs occasionally, but not enough to be really really invested in any of the above or to care sufficiently to be mad when they "get it wrong."

Which is the crux of why this movie doesn't really work for a lot of people. The game fans generally saw it as terrible compared to the games, too much of a mishmash of elements, and undermining the psychological nature of the games themselves. Those who hadn't played the games didn't understand the plotholes the fans could fill in from gameplay, didn't get the references the makers tried to give to the fans, and the format and length of a movie doesn't allow the same depth of psychological exploration and, more importantly, explanation the games allow. So thus why I'm the target audience: know enough to fill in holes, but not enough to feel it doesn't live up to the spirit of the games. Like I said, I won't go into detail on any of the other elements of the movie here, although I did think it was an effective horror movie in its own way, and I also think it had a fair amount of issues. But I do kind of wish that it could have been a little more...complete?- I guess that a good enough word- in its own right, be it on the side of fans or on the side of people who have never heard of the games before.
Plus, the cover kinda sucked. C'mon, a little girl with no mouth? Really?



( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 6th, 2011 10:32 pm (UTC)
The general statement, to all horror writers and filmmakers out there: things are less scary when you show their faces and give them personalities.

Remember when you said that about Medusa's eyes? Not the personality bit, but just that we should never have seen them. I was thinking about that the other day. I was watching a Classic Who episode called "The Three Doctors." At one point, the villain orders two of the Doctors to remove his mask, which he's been wearing because some sort of energy has been corrupting his face. The shot is from behind him, so all we see are the back of his helmet and the Doctors horrified faces as they lift the mask up, then quickly close it. I was thinking, "Yes! Yes! Don't show us more than that!" because with Classic Who special effects...well, other sinister beings have turned out rather rubbery looking, which is less than terrifying. Of course, the villain was upset that they didn't remove the mask, so they have to tell him why, and he takes it off himself to look in a mirror. All of this we see, and I thought, "Gah, no, don't ruin it!" But they had a solution: there was no face at all. The villain's body had been corroded entirely away (apparently without his noticing); all that was left was his will forcing him to exist. I was, I have to admit, impressed. It's probably the only way the Big Reveal could have been more horrifying than the imagination.
Jan. 6th, 2011 11:20 pm (UTC)
Well done indeed, Whodom; I think that's the first time I've heard of that being done too, which is even more impressive.
Jan. 7th, 2011 02:14 am (UTC)
Also on the horror movie thing: agreed. Like, whatever my imagination is going to come up with will be way, way worse than whatever T.V special effects you can manage. Not seeing the monster is infinitely more terrifying.

Though, I do disagree on giving the monster a personality. I think what's scarier than just a blunt force of nature is something that is malicious, intelligent, and utterly unrepentant. Something that can plan is scarier than something that can't. /my two cents.
Jan. 7th, 2011 03:41 am (UTC)
You were who I was thinking of when I put that caveat on about my opinion. &hearts So many ways to terrify...Actually, my own example of Sunshine works against me for this, because the monster did have a "malicious, intelligent, and utterly unrepentant" personality and that really is part of what made it so scary...Hmm, okay, gonna have to add that in then, that it really can work both ways. Always expanding my horizons, baby. ;)
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )

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