liv: Composite image of Han Solo and Princess Leia, labelled Hen Solo (gender)
Reasons for watching it: Kinky Boots is just the sort of film I like, with a drag queen helping to save a struggling family business in a narrow-minded small town.

Circumstances of watching it: [personal profile] jack was able to come and stay with me for a few days, which meant that for once we had time to settled down with a DVD in the evening.

Verdict: Kinky Boots has a lot of heart but didn't quite work for me.

detailed review )
liv: alternating calligraphed and modern letters (letters)
Apart from Arrival, I managed to find a bit more time over Christmas than usual to watch shows.

brief reviews, including very broad general spoilers for _Rogue One_ )

Also, Ghoti suggested that if she'd dragged me into watching Christmas movies, she should reciprocate by watching a chanukah movie with me. Which is a really sweet thought, but I'm not sure if there's such a thing as a chanukah movie! Does anyone have any suggestions? I mean, that whole New York Jewish custom of eating Chinese food and watching a movie on Christmas Day, is there any particular film that's traditional? Or failing that, perhaps a Jewish themed film (I thought of Yentl or maybe the film of Potok's The Chosen, which I haven't seen), or one that's about identity and resistance to assimilation and rebelling against an oppressive régime. Preferably not Holocaust-related, that really doesn't seem a suitable topic for a date movie. It did occur to me that Rogue One could be considered a pretty suitable thing to watch during chanukah, since it's about a miraculous victory for a no-hope strike against an oppressive empire...
liv: Table laid with teapot, scones and accoutrements (yum)
Reason for watching it: I was completely fascinated by the idea of a film of the marvellous Ted Chiang short Story of your life. I started out thinking the film probably wouldn't do it justice but wanted to see it anyway. And then lots of people started posting really positive reviews of it, which made me even more excited to see it. Not to mention lots of articles about constructing the alien language made it seem even more intriguing.

Circumstances of watching it: [personal profile] jack and I managed to catch about the last showing before everything is taken over by the new Star Wars. We had an early dinner in the somewhat fancy Chinese place, Orchid, mainly because it's close to the cinema. Things I like about Orchid: the ambience, which is very calm and feels much more relaxingly atmospheric than many anglo-Chinese restaurants. The way they have fancy teas as well as fancy wines (for about the same sort of price range.) The amazing grilled aubergines which are like a kind of vegetarian steak. Things I am not so keen on: they have a bad habit of putting shellfish in the dishes labelled vegetarian, and there's little choice of actually veggie food. And they're a bit overpriced, we ended up spending about £30 a head, which isn't ridiculous but there are quite a few places locally when you can get a good meal for quite a bit less than that.

Then we saw our film at the Vue in the Grafton Centre. I'm not a huge fan of this new system where they're trying to encourage people to shell out for cinema tickets by providing fancy reclining seats for everybody, since my legs are too short to sit comfortably in a huge chair, I felt as if I were stuck in a kind of padded bucket. Anyway, I'm really glad I got to see the film as part of a proper date with [personal profile] jack, we so rarely get to have an evening out together like that.

Verdict: Arrival is really lovely thinky SF with brilliant aliens.

detailed review, some spoilers )

So yes, I really enjoyed that film, it was very much what I was hoping for and I'm really glad I got to see it.

Film: Moana

Dec. 8th, 2016 08:41 pm
liv: alternating calligraphed and modern letters (letters)
Reasons for watching it: It had sounded really intriguing from when it first started being talked about, and Ghoti in particular really wanted to see it.

Circumstances of watching it: Ghoti actually managed to find a time when everybody was free, so the whole quad and the younger kids and [livejournal.com profile] fivemack all went to the Light cinema together Sunday afternoon. It was a bit annoying because I had to rush away straight after the film ended to travel back to Keele, and couldn't discuss it with everybody, but still such a great treat!

Verdict: Moana is just delightful!

detailed review )
liv: alternating calligraphed and modern letters (letters)
Reasons for watching it: I had managed not to see this, I think because it came out when I was just at the age of feeling I needed to avoid media marketed at children, and it's somewhat of a classic and the sort of story I love.

Circumstances of watching it: We watched the DVD while we were relaxing after some intense touristing in Budapest.

Verdict: Lilo & Stitch is intensely sentimental about things I'm inclined to care about personally.

detailed review )
liv: alternating calligraphed and modern letters (letters)
Reasons for watching it: It sounded cute and [personal profile] jack and Judith wanted to see it.

Circumstances of watching it: [livejournal.com profile] ghoti was super organized and managed to book tickets for all of us to see a popular new release on bank holiday Monday when every family in Cambridge wanted to go to the cinema. Which meant I got to sit next to Judith and she could cling onto me during the scary bits. That was somewhat of a novelty, up to now she's never really come to me for comfort. Though being pleasurably scared by a film is not the same as being actually scared, but even so.

I'm super proud of myself because I cycled to the cinema, the one in the leisure park behind the station, from our home in north Cambridge. That's my first attempt at cycling through town; the roads were mostly fairly quiet due to the bank holiday, but not completely without traffic. And the longest distance I've cycled in one go, not quite four miles out and I still had just enough energy to come back. [personal profile] jack was really helpful at coaching me in dealing with tricky junctions and other road awareness stuff, which is what I most struggle with at the moment, and also took charge of the navigation so I didn't have to worry about that.

I'm really slow, but I always knew I was going to be a slow cyclist, and cycling to the cinema was still faster than taking a bus. Also more convenient and companionable because we could all cycle back together; my people have been really accommodating about taking the bus because of me not being confident at cycling, but it's clearly easier for everybody if we can all cycle. The advantage of being slow was that we could actually chat at the same time as travelling in a little convoy. Andreas noted that I'm not very good at cycling, so I told him that's why I need practice, and having done that once I now feel pretty confident that I will fairly quickly get to the point where I can use the bike as a viable means of transport.

I did completely crash when I got in in the evening; I knew I was hungry and tried to eat enough to replenish my used up calories, but I was still pretty shaky and exhausted. I think that's something that will get better with more experience, or else I need to increase my estimate of how much extra I need to eat on days I spend a couple of hours cycling.

Verdict Zootropolis is really sweet, but probably doesn't want to be thought about too hard.

detailed review, discussing metaphorical racism )

So I don't know, it's all good fun, but I wasn't able to turn off my brain quite enough to fully enjoy it.
liv: alternating calligraphed and modern letters (letters)
Reasons for watching it: I've seen lots of commentary about how Tangled does interesting things with the mother-daughter relationship, and anyway I was kind of interested in a novel take on the Rapunzel story.

Circumstances of watching it: [personal profile] angelofthenorth and I were trying to watch The perks of being a wallflower, but the file on her computer was messed up somehow. So we took a break and went to the supermarket to pick up some supplies, and I grabbed the DVD from the rack there.

Verdict: Tangled tells a great story with some really strong characterization.

detailed review )

It's also a very pretty film, I enjoyed the imagery throughout. The music is not amazing but Mother knows best is a pretty good number. So yes, on the whole I'm glad I bought the DVD on a whim because I wanted entertainment for the evening.
liv: alternating calligraphed and modern letters (letters)
Over the Christmas break I watched two animated films, Ratatouille and The Lego Movie. I loved both of them, they're happy, compassionate, well-animated and fundamentally sweet films. And I'm not sure if they're actually thematically connected or if I'm just doing superfluous pattern spotting because I happened to see them near eachother, but indulge me here?

spoilers )
liv: alternating calligraphed and modern letters (letters)
Reasons for watching it Maggie Smith, primarily. And the set-up of an indigent woman living for many years in a van in Alan Bennett's driveway sounded interesting.

Circumstances of watching it We're doing some fairly intense prepping the first years for practical exams at the moment, which involves repeating the same mini-lesson 12 times in 8 hours spread over two days. So several of us were pretty shattered by 5 pm yesterday, at which point a colleague offered, who wants to go out for a bite and a film?

We ended up at Hector Garcia's, a chain Mexican place that's mainly good for cocktails and tapas. Since that's a bit intimate for a meal out with colleagues, we ordered entrées instead, and I was kind of disappointed with my chimichangas which just about rose to the level of pleasant, but were more heavy than hearty and more spicy-hot than interestingly flavoured. Plus one colleague who joined the expedition is one of those awful diets where you don't so much change what you eat as talk constantly about how bad you're being for eating food.

Verdict The lady in the van is a technically clever film which fell down for me because it doesn't respect its characters.

detailed review )

Basically I spent way too much of the film cringing compared to how much time I spent laughing from genuine enjoyment, though there were some of the latter moments too.
liv: alternating calligraphed and modern letters (letters)
Reason for watching it: I have read a lot of analysis of the film, some strongly positive and some very angry, and I was curious to see it.

Circumstances of watching it: A nice relaxed evening with [personal profile] cjwatson and his younger two kids.

Verdict: Brave is a lovely story about a mother and daughter, and gorgeously animated, while I'm somewhat ambivalent about the Hollywood "Scottish" setting.

detailed review, with spoilers, mentions child abuse and racism )

Reading Wednesday: Still reading and enjoying The Dervish House by Ian McDonald; nothing much more to report.
liv: oil painting of seated nude with her back to the viewer (body)
Reason for watching it Several people, notably [personal profile] khalinche, had mentioned to me the existence of an arty Hungarian film about lesbian kink, and I was definitely intrigued by the concept.

Circumstances of watching it [personal profile] angelofthenorth had seen it in the cinema and wanted me to see it as well. We live in the future so we could buy and download the film from the internet and that was our evening's entertainment with basically no effort.

Verdict The Duke of Burgundy is a thoughtful character piece, and visually pretty.

review plus some personal thoughts related to kink )
liv: alternating calligraphed and modern letters (letters)
I was really excited to hear the book had been made into a TV series, although in practice I don't actually have time to watch TV series. But anyway, we had a couple of hours between social events on Saturday, so I sat down with [personal profile] jack to watch an episode. Which in fact ended up being the second episode as we'd somehow failed to record The friends of English Magic, but having read the book, watching the title sequence was enough to make How is Lady Pole? comprehensible.

Basically the episode was pretty much what I wanted from an adaptation of the book. Pretty BBC costume drama, well acted, telling Clarke's story without being slavish about it. It's ten years since I read the novel and I don't remember the details that well, though the emotional impressions have stayed with me; this probably makes me a good audience for the show since I'm not going to be offended by what they've abridged to fit the very long novel into seven hour-long episodes.

Some people have complained that the colour palette is too dark, but I didn't find that bothered me. I found the fairy magic really impressively spooky and other-worldly, and Marc Warren is particularly good as the Gentleman. I don't know if I'll ever get round to watching the rest, but in theory I'd like to. And perhaps I should take this as a cue to reread the book, it has a lot going on and the fact I don't really remember it well means I might enjoy a reread.
liv: alternating calligraphed and modern letters (letters)
Reasons for watching it: Mad Max really couldn't be less my kind of thing, but the internet got excited about it and I thought it might be worth trying something outside my comfort zone.

Circumstances of watching it: Actually had a free evening for a date with my husband, and we planned it a bit at the last minute and there wasn't anything obvious on so we defaulted to the classic dinner-and-movie. We had dinner at the new (ish, I haven't been paying very close attention to changes in Regent Street shops) Turkish restaurant, Çinar. Good food, a bit more distinctive than the somewhat generic Mediterranean served at many mid-range Turkish places. It felt a bit over-priced for what was on offer; I'll probably continue preferring the vegetarian platter at Efes. And then we had a bit of time and wanted something sweet, so we got bubble tea from Chatime. I liked their offerings a lot better than Ooshi just up the road: drinks actually based on tea and fruit rather than just combinations of sweet syrups.

And then we wandered up the road to the Arts Picture House. The small cinema was pretty much packed, so we had to sit right at the front, but on the positive side it looked like a rather more mixed audience than might be expected at action films like that.

Verdict: Mad Max : Fury Road is a successful Big Dumb Action Movie, but not much more than that.

detailed review )
liv: alternating calligraphed and modern letters (letters)
Reasons for watching it Judi Dench and Maggie Smith, basically. And I'm kind of a sucker for rom-coms about older characters and accessible to European things set in India.

Circumstances of watching it [personal profile] jack and had to wait up late for friends arriving from the airport, so we wanted to do something relaxing and companionable when it was too late in the evening to do anything thinky. So we bought it from a streaming service and snuggled on our little futon in our little TV room / guest bedroom, which is one of the reasons we have that room.

Verdict The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is very sweet if more cringey than I was really hoping.

detailed review )
liv: alternating calligraphed and modern letters (letters)
Reasons for watching it I'd seen trailers for it and thought I would probably enjoy it as the excerpts seemed funny and cute and well animated. Though I also thought it might be too annoying, not cos it's pitched at children but because it relies too heavily on cringe humour. And there was some amount of buzz on Twitter about a DreamWorks film with a POC as a protagonist and with Rihanna voicing the lead, which was another thing that encouraged me to see the film.

Circumstances of watching it We let the six-year-old pick the film this time :-) I had been ill all week and was just out of quarantine in time to come to the film as originally planned; I'd have been really disappointed to miss it. So I went back to the Light cinema yesterday afternoon with [personal profile] jack and [personal profile] cjwatson and [livejournal.com profile] ghoti and their younger two, and we watched the film and then went to the Indian buffet in the cineplex and it was generally a really nice way to celebrate being better.

Verdict Home II (Worlds Collide) is amazingly sweet and original and a whole lot more fun than I was expecting.

detailed review )
liv: alternating calligraphed and modern letters (letters)
Reason for watching it: I went to the cinema with friends including a teenager, and it was his choice. It would probably have been quite low down in my own priorities, given it's the middle of a trilogy where I've neither seen the first nor read the books, and YA dystopias aren't terribly my thing anyway. But I was very glad to join my friends on their cinema trip.

Circumstances of watching it: I'm working from home today, which meant for once I was in Cambridge Sunday evening, and was able to join the party going to the Light cinema in the complex behind the station, along with [personal profile] jack, [livejournal.com profile] ghoti and her oldest.

Verdict: Insurgent is watchable even if it's not the kind of thing I'm usually into. I also agree with [personal profile] jack's review quite a lot.

detailed review )

Film: Wit

Mar. 3rd, 2015 11:02 am
liv: ribbon diagram of a p53 monomer (p53)
Reason for watching it: We screened it for the second year students, who are getting to the point where they're spending enough time in clinical environments that there's a good chance they will see someone die in the coming months. The idea is that they get a supportive environment in which to do at least some of the emotional work ahead of dealing with this for real, and hopefully they then won't completely fall apart when that happens. (There's a ton of research about the detrimental effects of medical students and trainee doctors not being adequately prepared to deal with death, but nobody quite knows what "adequately prepared" looks like. So we're working on it.)

Circumstances of watching it: Ugh, this term! I've had a solid six weeks with a heavy enough teaching and marking load that I feel I've been running a Red Queen's race since the new year, I haven't had time to do anything at all non-urgent, and it's making me really anxious. In theory things were supposed to slow down by the end of February; in practice everybody's kind of scrabbling, and the school were short of staff for running a bunch of sessions through March, so I've ended up roped into more teaching in the coming weeks. And because it's all last minute cover it's all in bits of the curriculum well outside my expertise. I really didn't want to be a facilitator for this session where we get the students to talk about death, but needs must. I kind of feel like this is one of the times where it's more important than usual to have a clinician leading, cos it's not just factual knowledge, it's being able to speak from experience of dealing with death as a doctor. But I suppose I was better than no-one.

Verdict: Wit is thought-provoking if at times over-dramatic.

So, look, the whole point of this film is that it's 90 minutes of the protagonist dying of cancer. Not in real time, it covers several months from diagnosis to the end, but the whole film, and therefore my review, is about illness and dying within the medical system.

fictional death )

It seems possible that I'm somewhat emotionally affected by this; the film is genuinely harrowing in places as well as a bit over-dramatic. And running the discussion where I had to manage a lot of the medical students' emotions was pretty draining, I think, especially coming on top of generally stressful stuff. So lots of things that should be fine are feeling daunting, just now. Send hugs pls?
liv: alternating calligraphed and modern letters (letters)
Reason for watching it: I have a feeling I saw a trailer for it and thought it looked fun, and [personal profile] jack independently thought of it as a film we might both enjoy. It's had really surprisingly little buzz, goodness knows there's enough Disney fans, both adult and child, in my social circles.

Circumstances of watching it: I had a weekend that was in some ways wonderful, cos I got to spend time with people I really like, including [personal profile] khalinche and [personal profile] ceb. But in some ways a bit difficult, because I scheduled too many social things and didn't have quite enough time or focus for any of them, and I didn't handle communicating about this very well. Anyway, in the middle of this [personal profile] jack and I managed to plan a date to mark three years of marriage and seven years together. So, film.

Verdict: Big Hero 6 is a lovely piece of animation, albeit in service of a weak plot.

detailed review )

I found the film really endearing and exciting and just the thing for a date. I'd also be really intrigued to see it with children in the age-range of its target audience. I mean, I like it better than pretty much any other children's film I've seen since Wall·E, but I can see why something like Frozen was more commercially successful.

The showing also included a short, Feast, which I didn't really love. It has a very cute puppy, but the animation wasn't particularly great and the storyline is your basic boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy proves his love by stalking girl shtick, and the cute puppy doesn't much make me favour that plot shape.
liv: alternating calligraphed and modern letters (letters)
I've never really quite had time to get into the Marvel franchise, but I really like a lot of the fandom response I see drifting past me on Tumblr and to some extent my DW network. And I was over at [personal profile] jack's for the weekend and he happened to have Captain America: the Winter Soldier in his rental queue. He reckoned it was probably accessible to someone who hadn't watched the whole rest of the series, so I decided to give it a go.

And we watched about the first hour and a half and then paused the DVD to get up and pee. And at that point I realized that there were any number of things I'd rather be doing than watching the rest of that film, so we gave up and did other things instead. ([personal profile] jack was ok with watching the ending after I'd headed back to Stoke).

Basically, I just couldn't bring myself to care about anything. The characters seemed to have no depth or complexity. I didn't care enough about S.H.I.E.L.D to be invested in the fact that the agency had been infiltrated, and I pretty much guessed the identity of the "mysterious" Winter Soldier even though I have no real background in the mythos. I wasn't moved or shocked by Nick Fury's assassination, I was only mildly disappointed that having that character played by Samuel L Jackson didn't prevent the cliché of the African-American mentor figure getting fridged to give the blond hero some motivation. There were lots of explosions and shoot-outs and the obligatory car chase, but I found them so dull I was mainly noticing flaws in the CGI (the whole thing looks like being inside a fairly generic FPS computer game) rather than getting emotionally involved.

I don't think the problem was unfamiliarity with the franchise. All the characters kept explaining direct to camera what was going on and how they were feeling. If anything the film was almost too accessible; even as someone who isn't in superhero fandom at all, I felt talked down to. I tried to relax and enjoy it as just a big dumb action movie, but I was bored or irritated a lot more than I was excited or moved. So even the combination of sunk cost fallacy and narrative drive which usually means I always read or watch all the way to the end wasn't enough to keep me from wandering off half way through.

Basically, I like the version I'd glimpsed through fandom a lot better. The apparently entirely imaginary film that really explores what it would be like for a superhero veteran from WW2 to suddenly wake up in 2014. And where the Black Widow has a really interesting past as a former Russian spy and is genuinely morally ambivalent, rather than just looking sexy and pouty in very tight clothing. Where the friendship / bromance between Captain America and the extremely cute Anthony Mackie's Falcon takes centre stage rather than Mackie just being a minor comic relief character.

In general, feh.

Film: Pride

Sep. 9th, 2014 12:20 pm
liv: alternating calligraphed and modern letters (letters)
Reasons for watching it: I saw a poster for it at the cinema and I was really interested in the concept of a gay rights group supporting the miners' strike. And then IJ was enthusiastic about the film at a party, so I had some hope that not only is it a cool premise, it's a cool premise done well.

Circumstances of watching it: [personal profile] jack and I got to the point where there's nothing else further we can do to get things ready for moving, other than tasks that need to be done at the last minute. So we went out to the cinema in the shopping complex behind the station; I'm still not used to the idea that there's actually stuff in that bit of town one might want to go to!

Verdict: Pride is a very strong film, both funny and emotionally affecting.

some review, mostly feels )

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Miscellaneous. Eclectic. Random. Perhaps markedly literate, or at least suffering from the compulsion to read any text that presents itself, including cereal boxes.

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