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.

Advertisements

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. 

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.

Action-Figure?

It’s a very boring life, being an action-figure. I mean, it’s fun at first – there’s your birth, which, unlike humans, we remember of course. We’re born in a factory, when all our parts are suddenly together for the first time. Then we get packaged, in nice cozy plastic that really fits snug all around. I don’t know if most people realize this, but you know how action-figures all have joints that move just this way or that way? Yeah, well, our joints hurt, it hurts when we’re moved to much, so being set into a perfectly me-sized bed made of plastic was probably the most physically therapeutic thing I’ve experienced.

‘Course, that doesn’t last. After we get put in boxes – and usually they’re kind enough to let us have clear plastic around us, too, so we get to see outside – we get put in other kinds of boxes, big cardboard ones that get sent off places. When I was just a newborn, I didn’t know much about what was happening to me – I learned all this later in life. So we get sent somewhere, and then we get unpacked. Some of us, like me, get put up in shelves in dusty rooms that are where they keep the extras. But soon enough they came and got me from that room too, and put me smack on the “Action-Figure!” shelf, Batman on one side and Spiderman on the other. We had a nice chat before a kid with a runny nose tore Batman off the shelf. The next one wasn’t as nice as the first Batman, but he was alright. Spiderman stayed there a long time, just like me, so we got to know each other pretty well, and he told me some of this stuff I just told you.

But then, of course, it happened, just like Spiderman told me it would. A girl, Lisa, a really tiny thing, tried to reach up to my shelf and knocked me down face-first. She picked my box up, though, so I guess even if she wasn’t aiming to get at me, she liked me enough to start yelling at the top of her voice for her mommy to buy me. I got to take a trip around the entire store while her mommy tried to get her interested in Barbie dolls and Dora the Explorer puzzles, but that Lisa, she took to me and wouldn’t let me go. At least I got a tour of the store, though!

Well, I suppose you could say the rest is history. But that isn’t really the point – I mean, yeah, it’s obvious, Lisa took me home, took me out of my box and started playing with me, which is supposed to be a good thing, but man my joints hurt, she was really boisterous that kid… But then one of my arms broke – no wonder, with that kid pulling me every which way – and then I got put up on a shelf, and that’s it.

Now, I’m not trying to make you pity me, because it’s not like I’m one of those dudes from Toy Story. Yeah, I know about that, we all know about that. Lisa has the movie and she watches it over and over. Lucky me – not – my shelf’s facing the TV so I get to hear Woody and Andy and Buzz-what’s-his-face three times a week. But see, they make it look so fun. They can move on their own. Man, the truth isn’t like that at all. Sure, we can think, we can talk if there’s no one in the room, but move? As if.

So that about sums it up. It’s a boring life being a so-called ‘action’-figure. I don’t even know what the ending is for my kind – but hey, maybe Lisa will leave me on this shelf for many more years and I’ll get to watch some more interesting movies than that false-hope Toy Story. A figure can hope, right?

Wake Up Man!

Okay, people – look at the title of this post. If you’re a stickler like me, you’ll see what’s wrong with it immediately. This sentence appeared in a Nescafé advertisement that was hung on numerous billboards around my area a few years ago. My mother, who taught me all I know about the proper use of English, and I sighed loudly each and every time we passed one of these advertisements. I know I make occasional grammatical mistakes. I know I make more than a few mistakes regarding the proper use of punctuation marks – but then again, I believe many people ignore the finer print of the rules of punctuation and that this is okay for most writers.

Then again, there is a limit. For those who haven’t realized it, the mistake in the title is the lack of a comma between the phrase “wake up” and the person it’s addressing: “man.” This mistake, to any English sticklers, or sticklers-in-training like me, is glaring.

Here’s another one. Remember that movie with Sandra Bullock and Hugh Grant? The title is this: Two Weeks Notice. This is another example where the mistake is glaringly obnoxious – two weeks notice doesn’t mean anything! It SHOULD be Two Weeks Notice – notice that little apostrophe there? Quite important, in terms of meaning.

I love language and I adore words – I’ve said as much before. I’m willing to accept proofreading slipups in books or mistakes caused by simply not knowing the language. I do NOT, however, have to accept mistakes made knowingly and purposefully in order to make a poster look less “cluttered” or “complicated.” How can we strive to educate the masses if we’re willing to drop punctuation marks to make things easier? How is this okay?!

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?

Work With What You Know

Following is the beginning of a conversation I had with my brother this evening.

-Hello?
-Hey.
-Oh, hey, what’s up?
-Not much. You?
-Not much either, you know, just applying to jobs.
-Oh yeah, how’s that going?
-Well, the job I applied for last week – you know, with the hotel interview and everything – I didn’t get that one. But I’ve got an interview later this year I’m really excited about.
-Cool! Where is it?
-Just this place in Washington, a research center.
-Wow, that sounds pretty awesome. I hope you get it!
-Thanks. How’re your applications going?
-Ok, I mean, I’m almost done with the essays – I still have to go over them obviously, but I’m mostly done. Now there’s just the bureaucratic stuff to finish. Oh, by the way, have you heard about the book “The End of Mr. Y”?
-No, don’t think so, what is it?
-It’s right next to me now, that’s why I mentioned it… it’s this cool book I’m reading, it’s got a lot of really awesome references to all these psychological and philosophical theories in it.
-Cool, I should check it out. You know a new Terry Pratchett book came out?
-No! Seriously?
-Yeah, a non-Disc-World novel.
-He writes about something that’s not Disc World? Wow, I didn’t know he ever did that.
-Oh yeah, he’s got a bunch of books that aren’t to do with it.

….My brother and I have fun phone conversations. The conversation continued on to talk about many fantasy writers, the reasons why so many of them are Mormon and some music. I now have homework from him. I need to check out this British show called “Ultra-Violet” and another show by Aarin Sorkin. I need to read this short story called “A Logic Called Joe” and look up “The Hipster Olympics” on Youtube. There will be a test.