Press your spaceface close to mine


Posted by Sunday on May 7, 2009 at 7:35 pm

When I was about 11 years old I started transitioning from fantasy books to science fiction.  As I’ve mentioned before, this was perhaps hilariously the fault of Piers Anthony who himself flipped back and forth between fantasy and scifi at a moments notice.  But I was young and impressionable and for some reason the Elf Quest wasn’t cutting it anymore.

Late one night, long past when I should have been up, I began watching a movie on the local access network.  I never caught the name of the movie and 20 years later can hardly remember the plot, save for one aspect: the main character is a woman in a dystopian future who fights the man.  There is pregnancy involved.  Fin.

And despite perhaps the bulk of the film going over my head, I believe that was the first major turning point for my current tastes in scifi.  I like it dark, I like it grim, and I like it depicting a world on the brink of failing altogether.

Which is all to bring me to a somewhat unbelievable point:  the movie?  Appeared on Hulu today.

Equally surprising is how it made me feel while watching it; after the initial thrilled deja-vu I realized it wasn’t a good movie.

It is okay for what was likely a microscopic budget, but the acting is evenly poor (every minor security guard character over-acts with the passion of a person who believes that someone in Hollywood might see this movie and think, “Jonathan Livingston Seagull!  What a fantastic actor Security Guard #5 is!”) and the motivation of humanity is totally non-existent.  Compare and contrast with films like THX-1138 and Twelve Monkeys, where the powerlessness of individuals is all for that classic irony of a better world, and Birthright emerges as a particularly unsatisfying and unclear snapshot into what could easily just be an Eastern European country circa now.

Mostly disturbing to me was the flip of what made The Handmaid’s Tale (R.I.P., Natasha Richardson) a nicely complex little moral briar of post-modern feminism.  Where Handmaid’s Offred is still a sexual being haunted by memories of her missing (and presumed dead) husband and her stolen daughter, Birthright’s Sarah is infantile and aimless, seeking only to become a mother despite repeated warnings that it is no longer “allowed” and “even if it were, it is no longer necessary.”

It is not just that she wants to have a child to raise, it is that Sarah wants to be impregnated with her own child and then raise it.  Early in Birthright Sarah is offered the care of a 6 year-old child that has already been “educated and socialized” (I think we are to read: indoctrinated) by the comically evil Dr. Steiner.  Sarah refuses it. Afterwards she is sent back to the giant laundry-factory¹ where she is scolded for “failing to meet the quota” because yes!  Quotas and failing to meet them, that sounds dystopian!

In fact, as the movie progresses one wonders what Sarah would truly want if she were just allowed to breed – anything at all?  I suppose that wanting to bear and raise a child is representative of wanting a freedom over one’s own body, but this greater analogy doesn’t pass along to Sarah at all; her single-minded desire to become pregnant takes on a cretinous quality that began to disgust me.  Again, not because she wants a child, but because for her there is no bigger picture.  There is no indignation, no subversive individuality, just the same pedantic bleating of “I want my own child!” over and over again.

Birthright‘s writer and director, Lynn Wegenka, makes a small effort to ameliorate Sarah’s infuriating passivity by having two older, more vocal women in her life, though neither of whom do much more than encourage Sarah’s desire.  I mean, yes, it’s horrible that she can’t have children if she wants to, but maybe we can also discuss that everyone is living in what appears to be an abandoned, underground sanatorium where everyone has to dress the same and sleep on rusty cots and deviation results in death?

The strangest part is that of the few scenes I remember from my youth, one of them isn’t in the film.  Unless I just completely missed it while watching it and spacing out — which is possible — but I remember a scene where Sarah sees a birthing center where fertile women are rendered brain-dead so they can produce babies without argument or interference.  I can clearly envision it, women lined up on tables, bulging fecund abdomens draped in white sheets.  Could it be that I completely imagined what would be the best scene of the movie?  Or am I super-imposing a scene from another movie?  The brain, it is a mystery.

Of note: since Birthright, Wegenka has been sadly relegated to be second assistant director for something like two-dozen made-for-TV movies.  On the list of accolades I saw Better Off Dead and squawked — turns out it is the 1993 made-for-TV-movie Better Off Dead about a dramatic lawsuit.  Yeah.  I know.

¹I guess the dystopian part of the future is that it becomes the Hell of Female Stereotypes?

2 Posted in Apocalypse, Movies

Great, Like I Needed a Bigger Crush on Sam Rockwell

Posted by Sunday on Apr 19, 2009 at 12:23 am

In accordance with what is clearly shaping up to be my total failure as a science fiction fan, I’m about five or six months late hearing about the Sam Rockwell psychological sci-fi thriller Moon:

The way things are going with me lately I wouldn’t have heard of Moon at all. Luckily my cousin Tina loves me and feels sorry for me and sends me emails about stuff.

1 Posted in Movies

The Very Definition of FAIL

Posted by Sunday on Apr 3, 2009 at 6:50 pm

Okay. Do you understand who this is?


No?  Not yet?  How about like this:


THE FUCKING KURGAN.  If for some strange reason you find this unimpressive (and honestly, if you find the presence of THE KURGAN unimpressive I suggest you have your everything examined by a licensed physician), perhaps you will find this more to your taste:


I don’t mean to freak you out or anything, but that is Rawhide from Buckaroo motherfucking Bonzai.  No?  Still not feeling it?  Not even if I reminded you about Sgt. Zim?


No, no, not Busey, the other one.  Oh yeah, and that television show everyone loves to bitch about not making any sense… what’s it called?  Gone?


This pains me so much I can’t even type.  I’m having a genuinely hard time.  Today, as I was at work searching for something on the company database, I looked up and there he was.  Clancy Brown, THE KURGAN.  And, after a million different things I could say went through my mind, all I could squeak out was,

“Can I… can I help you find anything?”


That was it.  Nothing else.  Over.  I didn’t say “Nuns.  No sense of humor.”  For this alone Halcyon will not speak to me for a week.

I’ll understand if my Nerd membership is now up for review.

7 Posted in Daily Space, Movies

This pleases me deeply.

5 Posted in Movies


Posted by Sunday on Feb 5, 2009 at 12:36 am

Man, it must have been… two years ago? Three? On another blog, in another lifetime I wrote about a trailer that was made, an experimental trailer for a movie called The Mutant Chronicles. The experimental part was that the director, Simon Hunter, really, really wanted to make the film but needed to prove that he could make an atmospheric, effects-driven futuristic zombie/mutant film on a small budget.

And here they actually made it! Impressive, if not exactly as interesting-looking as the original trailer was (the original had no storyline and was therefore sort of dreamy and grim – sometimes story ruins everything). Still: Ron Perlman! Sean Pertwee whom you may not remember from such movies as Dog Soldiers, Equilibrium and Doomsday!

Of course, it takes about one second for someone to watch it and go “LAAAAME WHY ARE THEY WEARING WWII GEAR?!!!1!?” but I have to say: it’s a beautiful looking film. Women swinging swords around, that’s always good. Rag-tagness ahoy. Fuck, I’ll go see it.

2 Posted in Movies

Two Movies I Foolishly Liked As a Child

Posted by Sunday on Jan 26, 2009 at 1:48 pm

  Howard the Duck (1986)


Two words: George.  Lucas.

Oh, how I recall laughing at this clever, irreverent masterpiece, which just goes to show how mentally retarded children are.  Rewatching it I found I couldn’t even muster the kind of nostalgic embarrassment I generally reserve for pop-culturey 80s movies.  The dialog has a kind of leaden, rote humor; the eponymous Howard T. Duck is not so much sarcastic as stating facts, the jokes are pun-heavy and the few good ones are a matter of delivery and not writing (as all good jokes are).  The potentially entertaining line between humans interacting with Howard (talking to him) and reacting to him (screaming, dropping groceries) is too distracting – not to mention that Leah Thompson in her underpants “joking” about making out with Howard while actually making out with Howard induces a revulsion I still can’t genuinely describe as “funny”.  There are enough uninspired one-liners in this movie to warrant a Will Smith remake.

The Water Babies (1978)


Dear god, what the fuck is that supposed to be?

Such clear memories of singing along, wanting to be a chimney sweep waif, wanting to dive into a river and find the Water Babies.  Joke’s on me, though: the animation of this film is terrible even beyond late 70′s standards and the storyline draaaags on for an eternity.  Did I really have a longer attention span when I was 5?  There’s no other explanation.  To make matters worse, the original story and Jessie Willcox Smith illustrations are gorgeous works of art in their own right:


It sounds harsh, but the movie just doesn’t have anything going for it at all.  I thought I’d at least still enjoy the music, but the sound of cocky stage children singing along with the stilted, Korean-slave-labor animation is enough to give me a seizure.

1 Posted in Movies

Hey, You Got Your Sackboy In My Apocalypse Animation

Posted by Sunday on Jan 12, 2009 at 9:21 pm

This is the first I’ve heard of it, but I came across a trailer for a Tim Burton, how The Matrix should have been, LittleBigPlanet mashup:

Yes? No?

1 Posted in Movies

Neither Here Nor There

Posted by Sunday on Dec 5, 2008 at 5:03 pm

Leesa and I will defend a few things to our own death, and one of them is the film Labyrinth.  I know what you’re thinking – yes, it was a good film, and yes, everyone likes it.  But the scope of what an impact it made on us is complicated and simple at the same time: we still think about it.  Often.  It still haunts us, images still remind us, voices still jolt us, Bowie still… um, makes us… happy.  Every so often someone captures exactly what it feels like to be that age at that time, and (though it shouldn’t) it comes as such a surprise that Jim Henson just fucking nailed it.  Sure, the man had being kid all wrapped up but a teenager?  A girl?  Oh, it makes me a little weepy.

It can appear superficial, if you’re not paying close enough attention: a girl, Sarah, angry at her stepmother and her life, makes a terrible wish, one she must then courageously reverse.  But it’s one of the few times Henson allowed the ugliness to creep in, the dislike of a stepparent, the terrible purgatory of teenhood, the curious – even sexual – attraction of things dangerous and cruel. Ultimately there is a greater allegory once Sarah is lulled into forgetting what she came for: adulthood looms, as does materialism and greed.  Instead of magic you will have nostalgia, but it won’t be quite right.  Something will be missing.  And she fights it.

So here we are, girls who fought it.  We don’t have careers and we don’t have maturity, but we remember, and that is why Henson in his infinitely, impossible genius made the movie.

And here, a weird juxtaposition!  A Labyrinth-inspired wedding as discovered on Flickr, and me, a girl who is pretty terrified of weddings getting all excited about it (it’s that whole performing in front of a crowd thing, but worse because you’re supposed to be sincere and exposed and have feelings and crap).  Of course, I think it could more Labyrinth-y, but as it was just inspired by and not mimicking, I’ll let it slide.


Flickr member Miss Avalon, at her own wedding.

I still say more damn glitter and more mirror and more spinning around, but I get that it’s a wedding and not the actual movie, so I’ll try and be quiet.


Look, some bridesmaids.

There are other devotees to the masquerade ball, but they aren’t the same.  The “Labyrinth of Jareth,” for example, is more Burning Man than ball and while I like nudity as much as the next degenerate, c’mon.  Dude.  It’s the story of a 15 year-old girl in a gigantic prom dress, sex is a kind of amorphous concept.  I mean, look how fucking fantastic and tense and sensual this is without a bare ass in sight:


It’s perfect beyond my ability to articulate.  And I wear jeans pretty much every day of my life.

Motivational Speaker

Posted by Sunday on Sep 18, 2008 at 12:01 pm

First, a confession: I like Keanu Reeves.

And I’d like to say I’m no fangirl that would fall all over herself trying to touch his jacket should I see him casually trying to be casual while entering some LA eatery, we all know that isn’t true.  I’d probably shriek “I loved you in The Matrix!!!” at him — which is an honest lie — and swoon.

Defense of liking Keanu: he seems like the kind of person I’d like despite their fame.  And I mean that in the least ironic, least winky-winky way possible.  He’s a private person, which I can appreciate, and seems not to give much of a shit about being some bulked-up heartthrob with an actress trophy-girlfriend.  Blah blah blah.  Anyway, my point:  he’s hosting a showing of The Matrix and LA’s beloved Arclight theater, something that piqued my interest despite wanting to punch The Matrix in the nuts. I do adore a roomful of excited nerds, even if it means viewing the singlemost overrated film in history.  And I do adore Mr. Reeves.

Alas, there is a scandal afoot.  The Arclight apparently presold tickets to AFI members and then, as many fans have whined, opened their boxoffice at least an hour before they said they would.  Result: tickets totally sold out before they went on sale.  My disappointment and indignation over this was suddenly overwhelmed by a single memory:

I don’t actually want to watch The Matrix again.  Very little can make me want to see it again.  The second and third movies I saw only in the theater and can’t even justify wasting Netflix time on.  How can I dislike these movies so much and still like Reeves?

I’m just a complicated person, I guess.

2 Posted in Movies

Stay On Target

Posted by Sunday on Sep 17, 2008 at 4:26 pm

Oof.  A lot going on in the last week, including a hell of a lot of stuff I failed to weigh in on.  Not that the world really needed another take on Fringe, but still.  I feel some sense of obligation.

My two cents on Fringe:

  •  A young female FBI agent with a permanent expression of disgusted bewilderment?  And no detectable motive or personality?  As a main character?  You’re certain you want to go with that?  Maybe you can sell it a little better if you half-heartedly muster up a reason for her to strip down to her underwear in front of everyone.
  • Denethor!  Yay!
  • A lot like having a child tell you a long, elaborate fib:  First! There was this FBI agent!  And then she needed to get this scientist who was put in a mental hospital forever but she couldn’t so she flew to Iraq and got his son and they got him and then they needed a super-laboratory so they got one and then they needed to see the killer’s face so they took LSD and they saw his face and then they needed a cure so they made one and then he was a badguy! Not that we want to see her filling out forms requesting travel to Iraq which would then in turn take A THOUSAND YEARS to process and the story would already be over, but you know.
  • Related: LSD 100% not actually like that.   But again, we probably don’t want to watch her sitting around for two hours wondering if she should go outside.
  • Astrid Farnsworth. Is the name of Dunham’s assistant.  The black girl.  Discuss.

What do I think of the most recent ‘leaked’ James Cameron’s Avatar set photo?

  • CG motion capture: sword from the stone.  Maybe Cameron will be king.  MAYBE NOT.
  • Also: if I have one piece of advice, it is to not use “urban tribal” graphic design.


Too late.

What about Joss Whedon officially halting Dollhouse while he works the script a little more?

  •  I’ve got a bad feeling about it, now that you mention it.
  • The explanation makes sense: Whedon was busy directing, rather than writing, and by the time he got the first two episodes in the can everyone agreed that the scripts that had been written without him weren’t up to some kind of standard.  He requested a brief halt in production while he helps write several scripts into the future in order to get everyone on the same page.  Sounds reasonable.  The studio offically supports this, claiming that since production on the show was actually ahead of schedule, Whedon was free to do whatever the hell he wanted.
  • Unless you listen to the other rumors, which point out that having a main character with no memory or free will is a terrible plan (a little tip I told the kids at Fringe: nudity fixes everything).  Elsewhere sources point out that Whedon already refilmed the pilot admidst complaints that the show was either too complicated or too grim.  Wait, what’s that smell?  Is that… failure?

Off the subject, but did you happen to watch the new 90210 series?

  • You mean 90210.1?  HA.
  • Yes.
  • I don’t have a single thing good to say about it, and I enjoy garbage TV.  I’m ashamed and saddened that Rob Thomas (of Veronica Mars fame) had anything to do with this piece of shit.

That is all for today.

6 Posted in Daily Space, Movies, TV