X-Men: First Class [Review]

I watched the first two X-Men films on a television screen in preparation for seeing the third in the theater. I remember choice moments from the series, although if you asked me to organize them, I wouldn’t be able to figure out which bit belonged in which film. I remember, for instance, the talented Sir Ian McKellen as Magneto; I remember lovely Anna Paquin playing some character with a white streak in her hair and not being able to kiss anyone; I remember the fascinating Mystique, her character a silent, blank, dimension-less shadow; I remember Xavier’s infuriating calm and how angry I was that he pronounced his name Exavier instead of Zavier.

The newest addition to the X-Men saga is a prequel that follows the origins of the mutant movement. The film was fun, gripping and action-packed but managed to move through a coherent and interesting plot as well. No small feat for a film based on a comic series that includes so much information that it could never hope to all be transferred to the screen. I enjoyed seeing Xavier’s arrogance as a young man, his high-and-mighty nobility that really stems from a need to be accepted and adored. I found the friendship between him and Magneto to be a beautiful thing, but very much like that of Sebastian and Charles in Brideshead Revisited or else Dumbledore and Grindlewald in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – that is, beautiful, but with a clear lack of balance and sticking-power. It was, I suppose, to good to be true, and so of course they must part. This isn’t a spoiler, mind you, because anyone who’s seen the X-Men series so far will remember that Xavier and Magneto are sworn enemies who speak very nicely to each other and allude to a former friendship.

And yet, sadly, there was much to complain of. Mystique’s character was annoyingly vague – fine, she appeared in Xavier’s kitchen one day, they became staunch friends… and? Where did she come from? What makes her trust him? Why does it take her so many years to realize that she has feelings for him? And those feelings, once displayed, disappear so quickly that I wonder if they were even there at all! She’s very confusing, which isn’t helped by the fact that the actress seemed, to me, to be having a tough time stringing more than a couple of words together at a time. The script, too, failed me towards the end, when I began to predict every line the characters uttered because they were a string of clichés that explained, very quickly, several facts that are supposed to make the audience go “ooooh!”

Finally, I remained unconvinced that the film was taking place in the early sixties. Everyone’s clothes seemed exactly like those we wear now. Maybe the X-Men all have another mutation that allows them to predict the fashion sense of the future? Maybe I’ll find the scene explaining that one in the deleted scenes on the DVD.

Prediction Pertaining to (Pretty) Pirates

I know next to nothing about the newest installment of the (apparently never-ending) Pirates of the Caribbean film series. We’re up to number four now, with On Stranger Tides, and although I’m looking forward to seeing it this evening, I also have a niggling guilt in the pit of my stomach, telling me that it is going to be a complete waste of my time and money.

So here is what I know about this film: 1) Johnny Depp is in it, playing one of the best characters he’s ever done, Captain Jack Sparrow. 2) Keira Knightly and Orlando Bloom are NOT in it (shame about the first of those, since she’s talented, fun, and incredibly beautiful to watch on screen). 3) There are man-eating mermaids of some sort.

Based on admittedly very little information, I am, nevertheless, prepared to bet that:

1) The film’s only redeeming feature will be (in my eyes) the inclusion of Mr. Dapper Depp.

2) The man-eating mermaids will be scantily clad and apparently good until they reveal their true natures.

3) There will be more than one racist stereotype included in the plot.

4) There will be many half-hidden, slightly sexual jokes.

5) And, last but not least, I’ll enjoy the film very much until the end of it, at which point I’ll wonder why on earth I spent two hours or more watching such drivel.

Disclaimer: I have nothing against silly, action-packed films. Nothing at all. It’s the constant sequel-turned-trilogy-turned-quartet syndrome that drives me nuts, because I want something new to enjoy, not a rehash of the same plot-devices and scenery used over and over again. 

Horror

Horror doesn’t only happen at night, you know. It happens on the streets of London and in the slums of New York. It happens in the homes of the rich and the poor alike. It happens in your back garden when you’re not looking, or right in front of you when you’re trying not to see. Horror is everywhere.

Believe me, I know. Why? I’m not sure you’d understand. I’m not sure you really want to know. See, there’s a problem with you people – you always say you want to know, but then you cringe and cry, snivel and beg, and I need to deal with it. It all gets very tiresome. So if you want me to tell you why I know about horror, you need to promise me that you can deal with what I’m going to tell you. Well?

Ah, there, I knew it. Once you’re confronted with what happened to everyone else who asked the same question, you back off. That’s smart of you. Sometimes you people actually do learn something. I like that. There’s nothing fun about playing with your food if it doesn’t know what the outcome is. The mouse, for instance, instinctively knows that the cat wants to eat it, so when a cat’s paw descends on its tail, it’ll bit that bit off in order to get away. Of course, once it does that, the cat will catch it by its body and eat it anyway. But the point is, the only reason it’s fun for the cat to play with the mouse is because the mouse knows what’s coming. And now, you do too.

Now, now, don’t give me that look, please. You knew from the moment you called for me what was going to happen. Yes, remember? You’re the one who called me here. You called horror upon you, and horror comes in the guise you gave it. It’s time for you to live with it simply being your own fault. You think you’re dreaming, I know, and maybe you are! But tell me… Right now, does it matter whether or not you’re dreaming? I’m pretty horrible either way.

 

Ten Things

1. I’m still alive.

2. I’ve been horribly neglectful.

3. The reason for the above is that I’ve been either writing furiously and feverishly on one of my two projects (yes, there are two now, but one needs a composer… Does anyone know a composer?) or tearing my hair out, quite literally, with frustration at not managing to write.

4. After years of reluctance, I’ve finally started watching the Harry Potter films. I’m a huge fan of the books – they changed my life. I might not have become such a reader if not for them. But now, after so long of refusing to watch the films, I’ve agreed to. The first part of the seventh film is coming out in September, I believe, and damn if I don’t want to have something Harry Potter-ish to look forward to. I’ve just finished watching the third film, and I must say that more than anything else, I’m finding great hilarity in them.

5. I do hope that starting today I’ll stop being quite so neglectful.

6. I went to a perfectly marvelous cabaret on Saturday. It was perfectly marvelous. You see, we do have some creative people in Israel!

7. I’m currently reading The Picture of Dorian Gray.

8. And Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.

9. I’m hoping to start taking voice lessons. Hopefully this will lead me back to guitar as well, and eventually to drama too. I know it’s ridiculous, but I can’t help it – I feel the need to try and be creative in every way possible. I want to take drawing lessons, too. *sigh*

10. It’s 1:27 AM in Israel, I’m tired, and I’m going to bed. Goodnight, lovelies.

The Bringer of Dreams

The Bringer of Dreams is an artist. She’s old, as old as humanity itself, but she doesn’t look it. Not always, at least. She changes bodies as the whim takes her. Sometimes she’s a little girl with red curls and freckles. Sometimes she’s a teenager dressed all in black, hair a mass of spikes and metal rings through every bit of skin that can hold them. Sometimes she’s a soft-faced woman, dressed in a flannel shirt and jeans, hands rough but kind. Sometimes she’s an old, old woman, wrapped in shawls, knobbly cane at her side and eyes tired with the hurt she’s seen and the wisdom she’s acquired.

The Bringer of Dreams lives outside of time. Her home varies as her bodies do, changing from mansion to cottage to trendy apartment to wooden cabin to an abandoned squat full of dust. She feels comfortable whatever her home looks like – comfortable in her skin, in her surroundings, in her art.

Her media vary just as much, because all humans dream a little differently. There are times when she’ll paint pictures in oil, making the details perfect and the shades magical. At others, she’ll work in crayon, roughly sketching in shapes and rubbing the colors to look blurry and unclear. Sometimes she’ll snap photos, or film something, making the most life-like dreams imaginable and sending them off.

She does this over and over again. For each human, a few dreams a night. Every night. For all eternity. But she lives outside time, and her impetuous, playful nature means she never gets bored – or if she does, she’ll just change everything around her, and start anew with something else.

The Bringer of Dreams is an artist, and she’ll always be there, sending us dreams, night after night, year after year, age upon age.

Movies of Books

For most of my life I’ve been vehemently against the adaptation of novels to the big screen. I’ve always felt that it ruins the book – so many parts are skipped, or changed, or made to fit the Hollywood world rather than fit the style of the novel. However, over the years, I’ve seen quite a few movies that were made by adapting a novel into a screenplay, and I’ve had varying degrees of satisfaction from them.

There are the classic ones, the ones that I actually, and shamefully, didn’t know were based on novels until quite a while after seeing the movie: A Clockwork Orange and 2001 Space Odyssey are two of those. They’re both incredible and incredibly weird.

Then there are the ones like Bridget Jones which are so true to the feel of the novel that they’re actually worth seeing. Another like this is Atonement, the novel of which I read right after seeing the film. It’s an amazingly moving and wonderful film and almost 100% true to the novel – what’s definitely true to the novel is the atmosphere in it.

Then there are the fantasy books that are exasperatingly and constantly being made into films. One such is The Golden Compus which I will NEVER see because Phillip Pullman’s His Dark Materials are way too good to ruin with a flashy film. Another example are the Harry Potter films. I saw the first movie and was so sick to my stomach by how the novel was butchered that I haven’t ever seen any of the sequels and I never will. But then, there’s Twilight, and that I’m going to see right now, tonight. But mostly because I don’t actually appreciate the book all that much – not enough to respectfully pass on what’s supposed to be an entertaining feature for anyway.

What do you guys think of books being made into movies?

Israel Geek-Fest’ 2008

Oh, what a joy going to conventions is! On one side, there is a girl holding a big sign that says “OBJECTION” on it. On the other side are four or five hairy boys dressed all in black. In front of you is a girl with a ton of black make-up and a flouncy pink skirt. Behind you is a famous Polish fantasy writer. What could be better than being among your peers this way?
The iCon, as this fantasy/sci-fi festival is called, is a really great event that happens once a year here, in Tel Aviv. It is truly a geek fest, and it’s incredible. Last night, for instance, there were screenings of “Gamers”, which is a movie about role-playing college boys, and then “Zombie Strippers” which is exactly about that. Strippers who become zombies.
Tonight I am volunteering there, and although my schedule is super-full, there is something that feels really good about giving to this community, because I am truly an avid fantasy book fan and a lover of all that is animated or strange.