Saturday, July 18, 2009

YU+Me Dream

Wow guys, I apologize. I am just terrible at doing this on a regular basis; between a full-time job, a significant other, surfing the internet, and all those danged friends demanding time and attention, where am I supposed to squeeze in some blogging? I mean really?

But anyhoo, guess what I've got for you? Some stuff I like! Woo!

The other day I spent the majority of my time free of responsibility sitting on my duff transfixed by this webcomic I came across. Literally, I could not stop reading. It's been ongoing for five years and the author's artistic style has grown in leaps and bounds (warning, you will have to start at the beginning and plunk your ass down for six hours).

The story follows Fiona as she tries to navigate life at her Catholic high school and at home with her mecha-betch stepmother (keep "Cinderella" in mind, folks) and befriends, then falls in love with, her new neighbor, Lia. The author is herself a lesbian, and the issues that surface with coming to terms with being gay are addressed during the story.

Although some aspects of the story during the part one seem fairly overdramatized high-school kitsch, one: there is a very good reason for it, revealed at the end of part one, and two: C'mon, we all know that you still hoard one or two of the more juicy Babysitters Club books and your Dawson's Creek DVDs deep in your closet of shame. However, if you pay attention, you'll find that the author introduces incidents early in the story that come into play much later. I love this kind of storytelling; it means that the author has thought out the plot and put a lot of effort to surpise the reader, but also make it a cohesive unit. If you can make it to part two, the pay-off is great. She also goes in-depth exploring dreams (a primary theme); how they can affect our sense of reality, how they can seem like real life, and how they can become a place to escape to when life becomes too much to handle. This is probably one of the main reasons I identify with the comic; when I was in high school, as a way to cope with depression I would sleep a lot. It was a lot easier to do that than to deal with the fact that every day of the week felt the same and that I was so bored with everything, my brain was obsessing with the most insignificant details of my day. Sleeping and dreaming about those details, however, really didn't help. (Don't worry, I found some self-esteem at college, and things are (more or less) right as rain.)

One of the things I love the best (besides Fi's curly red hair and red hightops), is how the art has matured over the course of the comic. It begins in an amateur anime style...

then add a splash of color...

occasional dabbling into a different style...

It is good times, Charlie Brown. But it's really in Part Two that the author exercises her artistic ability and whips out all different kinds of styles, all of which make me squee.

Picture 'splosion.

It's entirely possible that you could just start at Part Two and read on from there; the author is kind enough to have little footnotes when something in Part One is referenced. But I would really encourage you to start at the beginning so you can appreciate how much the author has grown as a writer and an artist. She's absolutely an artist worth supporting, one of the few making her living doing what she loves, and doing it well. Not to mention that her shop has some goodies that I can already see my next paycheck going towards.

In other news, I went to see the new Harry Potter movie. I know you don't want to hear one more conflicting opinion on the subject, so I'll just say that me, personally, I enjoyed it very much, but was a little disappointed with three or four things. This is the kind of movie that everyone is going to feel differently about, regardless of the level of fan you are of the books or the franchise, so really, instead of listening to what other people think, you should just shell out the ten bucks and go decide for yourself.

And as a special treat:

"Kanske Ar Jag Kar I Dig"

"I'm Leaving You Because I Don't Love You"

Until next time!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Some tunes

I accidentally stumbled upon this band, The Avalanches. They're a more upbeat and lighthearted version of The Books, another group I would high-five for being awesome.

"Since I Left You" from album of same name.

I'm also digging around to see if I'll like this "riot grrl" music. I should, I'm a card-carrying feminist and frequently angry at the patriarchy, and so far The Slits seem like my kinda gals, so we'll see how this goes.

"I Heard It Through the Grapevine" from the album Cut.

Friday, July 3, 2009

The Brothers Bloom blows me away

Writer/director Rian Johnson has joined the ranks of the unappreciated filmatic geniuses along with Christopher Nolan, Jean-Pierre Jeunet, and Michel Gondry (I was trying to think of a female director to round this out, but of course, I couldn't think of any off the top of my head. But I think it's safe to say that all female directors are underappreciated.) If you missed his debut film Brick, you need to stop reading this, run down to Blockbuster or your best film-obsessed friend, and get your hands on that movie. You need to watch it, then come back and finish reading this.

It's okay, I'll wait.

All done? Good. What did you think? Pretty effin' good, right? Detective noir set in a high school with some of the snappiest dialogue since Snatch? Yes. A thousand times yes. Now, to The Brothers Bloom.

Brothers is a more lighthearted film than Brick, and, though set in the present, has whispers of decades past thanks to brilliant costuming by Beatrix Aruna Pasztor (Costume designer for ├ćon Flux and Vanity Fair) and filming in Montenegro (I smell a new vacation destination). The characters are quirky, and if you know anything about me, I love quirky characters. Mark Ruffalo and Adrien Brody star as brothers who, after a hilarious childhood montage narrated in poetic rhyming prose, become gentlemen thieves, the classiest of con artists, fellows one wouldn't mind being swindled by. Ruffalo is Stephen, the elder brother and mastermind of the cons, which he writes like Russians write novels.

Brody is the younger, more brooding and anxiety-ridden, brother, the lonely protagonist in Stephen's plots who wants out of the conning game, but can't find the strength to leave his brother and the only life he's ever known. Joining them in their exploits is Bang Bang (Rinko Kikuchi), the sexy, mute Japanese demolitions expert.

Let me just say that while watching this film, keep an eye on Kikuchi. Though she has very few lines, her mannerisms and interactions with the brothers are HILARIOUS, but not over the top. She also has a lovely moment of karaoke featuring her real voice, because, you know. JAPANESE.

For the brothers' last con, they take shut-in millionairess Penelope (Rachel Weisz) on a whirlwind adventure in antique smuggling. Penelope is reminiscent of Evey from The Mummy, but is different enough that the two characters stand apart. Penelope is more awkward, more excitable, and so goddamned precious you're going to be waving your fists in front of you going, "Eeeeee!" for a good portion of her screen time. Oh, and by the way, that card trick she does while talking to Brody's character about her childhood? Yeah, Weisz spent a month learning that trick for the continuous shot of her hands. She also learned skateboarding and rapping from Brody while shooting for the montage of Penelope's hobbies. BAM.

Besides the acting, which is superb, the writing, which is inspired, the story, which is fresh take on an age-old genre, and how achingly adorable the characters are, MEN PAY ATTENTION NOW, this movie makes me reevaluate my wardrobe. I know, guys, I know, CLOTHES ::SNORE::, but look, everyone in this movie looks AWESOME, especially the men. Pinstripes, vests, bowler and porkpie hats, cravats, driving gloves, black, white, and dark grey, OH MY GOD YOU MEN NEED TO DRESS LIKE THIS ALWAYS.


It's really hard to talk about this movie without giving too much away; now, in my perusal of the internets for pictures, I've come across some reviews that were decidedly in the negative vein. Some nonsense about this film being "ostentatiously quirky," and being "over the top." These people clearly haven't seen Twilight, so they don't really have a proper frame of reference of what constitutes a bad movie. Someone else drew an unfair comparison, saying that Johnson was ripping off Wes Anderson; while they both have an eye for cinematography and color and costume, Anderson's characters tend to be disconnected from their emotions, while Johnson's experience the strata of mood and actually demonstrate that outwardly. Anderson's movies also tend to slowly saunter towards their conclusions, whereas Johnson's are fairly active and quick-paced at times. This is nothing against Anderson; I do enjoy Wes Anderson films, but personally I think there is a definite separation between the two directors.
So, you know, me and those guys, we can't go to the same Olive Garden anymore.

I saw this movie twice, and I enjoyed it just as much on the second viewing as I did the first. This absolutely will be going into my DVD collection, and I've pretty much hassled everyone I know to go see this film immediately.
As my mother said when we went to see this, "I was so disappointed when it ended; I was like, wait, I can't just live in this movie forever?"

ps. Check out the cameos of Brick players Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Noah Segan, and Nora Zehetner.