Marvel Movie Marathon: Avengers: I love this movie.

I would have loved writing this review more if my browser hadn’t eaten it when it was halfway written, but I’ll try to recreate it with as much enthusiasm as the first go had. :p

The truth is I was really not confident about Avengers. I’ve watched a lot of Joss Whedon’s stuff, but I’d never drunk the Kool-Aid, and I was grimly afraid we were going to end up with Magic Widow the Superhero Slayer for this movie. We didn’t, and I’m still both astonished and grateful. I read a while after the film came out that Joss (or someone with enough influence over him) had looked at the early cut and thought “this movie has too much Joss in it” and subsequently left 20 minutes or so on the cutting room floor. If that’s the case, it’s a rare instance where I’ll doff my hat to Joss Whedon, because normally ego would override that kind of decision, and it was to the betterment of the film that it did not.

I don’t love it just because it’s funny, although it is (Cap paying up the $10 to Fury, and his delighted, “I understood that reference!”; Tony poking incessantly at Bruce; Loki’s snarky, “I’m listening!” and his baffled, “This usually works…”; Nat’s irritation at her interrogation being interrupted–“I not give…*everything*..?!”; Coulson’s utterly mortifying, “I watched you while you were sleeping.”; and the unbeatable Harry Dean Stanton line, “Then, son…you got a *condition*.”). And it’s not just the delight of seeing a long build-up pay off in the “meet, fight, bond, battle” arc that happens again and again in the comics, although the joy of watching Cap and Tony and Thor throw down in the forest never gets old.

I think what ultimately makes it work for me so well are the moments of poignancy and connection. I think it’s in Avengers where we start to understand how deeply Thor loves Loki, and how agonizing it is for him to have his brother be the bad guy. Natasha and Clint’s relationship, despite being given literally no screen time before Clint is compromised, is remarkably well wrought. And there’s Coulson’s story, of course, which didn’t rip my heart out THIS time (although I do desperately want to know if his ex-wife in the Framework was The Cellist), but that’s probably the first time it didn’t hit me viscerally. And his last line is a great one. Tony, trying to call Pepper, while Pepper is watching the TV to see what happens to him. There are a lot of really great emotional beats in this movie.

But of course if there’s a single moment that really lifts the whole film, it’s the old man rising to face down Loki. “There are always men like you.” And it’s because that moment isn’t about superheroes and impossible fantasy. It’s simple human courage, doing the right thing against insurmountable odds. He doesn’t know Cap is going to fall out of the sky and save him. He just knows he’s not going to kneel to a monster. And that’s the moment that seizes me by the throat, in Avengers.

Anyway, yeah, I could go through it on a line by line basis and complain that the beginning is a little slow, maybe, or that we could really do with some more women, thanks, but the guts of the matter are that I think Avengers works better than almost every other movie in the MCU. It remains in my top five, and I’m really pleased to have watched it again.

Picoreview: The Shape of Water: pretty sweet.

I haven’t seen Get Out and I’m not likely to, because I really don’t like horror movies, but having now seen The Shape of Water and not Get Out, I pretty well suspect that Get Out was more deserving of the Oscar for Best Picture (assuming it was between those two, which, for the purposes of this discussion, I am. :)). The Shape of Water is a largely sweet, charming, beautifully filmed, well written love story to the movies, which is why, I think, it got the Best Picture: Hollywood does love films that love Hollywood. I’m very glad it *did* get Best Picture, and I actually do think this is a film that will stand the test of time in many ways, but it’s not the same kind of incisive political and social commentary horror that Get Out is.

The Shape of Water did nearly everything I expected it to, up to and including the twist(? was it a twist? I saw it coming from the first seconds of the film, but there were people who interpreted it completely differently than I did) ending, but it did it well. I genuinely loved the opening narrative about “the latter days of a beloved prince’s reign” or whatever it was, so much so that when they later nailed down the date of the film more precisely I was almost disappointed.

I loved Octavia Spencer as Eliza’s very talkative friend: both the trope and the actual performance made me happy all the way through. I thought bad guy Michael Shannon’s final line was magnificent. I loved Michael Stuhlbarg’s character and the decisions he made. I was less charmed by Richard Jenkins than I expected to be, and I thought Sally Hawkins put in a strong performance.

ALSO IT HAD DAVID HEWLETT YAY DAVID HEWLETT! What a terrible haircut! But yay David Hewlett!

Doug Jones retains the ultimate ability to emote through prosthetic makeup (well, ‘ultimate’: him, Ron Perlman, & Andy Sirkus kind of all hold the top spot for that). I thought his Creature was one of his more alien, er, creatures, despite the obvious Abe Sapien parallels, particularly with the eggs, but I felt the Creature was really very different from Abe, perhaps because Abe doesn’t have savagery as part of the character package. And on one hand I sort of wish he’d stop doing Doug Jones Hand Things, but on the other, when your face and eyes are as covered as his usually are, maybe the Hand Things are necessary.

I also completely understand–although I’d purposefully not read any of the articles about it before seeing the film–why it’s a problematic representation of disability. I think there are some aspects of its representation that are probably meant to be culturally indicative of the film’s era, rather than the modern era or even GdT’s sensibilities, but it’s not a film *of* that era, it’s merely set there, so that’s…finding loopholes, and I don’t think that’s especially useful. So, I mean, yeah: my fave is problematic.

But even if it is problematic, I still liked it a lot. I didn’t love it unconditionally, which is kind of what I expected, but I came away from it happy, and I’m very, very happy for Señor del Toro that it took home a bunch of Oscars. ♥

On the way home from school, Indy asked about King Henry, and I said there had been several of them, from about 1200 to about 1550 (I was wrong, they started in 1100, but close enough). I said Henry VIII was the last one, and that after him his son Edward had been king, and then his daughter Mary had been queen, and then finally his daughter Elizabeth had been queen for a long time, and she’d never married or had any children.

Why not, queried my child, and I said well, she wanted to be queen, and back then if she’d gotten married her husband would have been considered more important than she was.

Indy, baffled, said, “What?! But she was QUEEN!”

I said yep, but back then, and even still in a lot of ways now, people considered men to be more important than women (Indy gaped disbelievingly), so if she’d gotten married, people would have thought her husband was more important, and listened to him instead of her, and she didn’t want that. I said she’d considered getting married a lot of times, and had pretended she might to build political alliances–

“Oh *no*! That wasn’t nice!”

“Oh,” I said airily, “no, that happened a lot. Most of the time people, especially kings and queens and other nobility, didn’t get married for love. They got married because it would give them more land or more money.”

“So they would share,” Indy said, satisfied.

“Well, no,” I said, “see, if I had a lot of land, and I’d gotten married back then, my land would all become my husband’s. Women were basically owned by their husbands.”

By this time Indy was horrified. “*SLAVERY*!?”

“Yeah, pretty much,” I said.

Indy, completely horrified: “BUT THAT’S *WRONG*!!!! Mommy, I’m going to say this, and you might not like it, but *people weren’t very nice back then*!”

I agreed that they weren’t, and that things were somewhat better now, and that we all had to keep working until everybody believed men and women were equal. And then we talked about Victoria and Elizabeth II and then we were home. :)

I didn’t really find the Oscars all that comedic (save for the dynamic duo Tiffany Haddish and Maya Rudolph, who should absolutely 100% host the Oscars next year, and possibly every other award show ever), but the home events around the Oscars were sort of comedy-of-errors-ish.

Anyway, so I haven’t watched the Oscars since I came to Ireland, because the state station only carries an abbreviated version, the night after, and what’s even the point. But I really, really wanted to see Keala Settle perform “This Is Me” in this year’s show, and it turned out Sky TV has a thing called NowTV which has a 14 day trial period etc etc so I signed up and we got it working on the tv and…caught up on some 4th season Agents of SHIELD…and…and some Lip Sync Battle…and then at EXACTLY MIDNIGHT OUR TIME, which is when the red carpet stuff was supposed to start, the whole thing crashed as, I presume, everybody in Ireland and the UK logged on to watch it.

I picked up my phone to tweet a complaint, and realized that for the first time in 138 days, I had forgotten to do my DuoLingo. Fortunately, I had a streak freeze in place, so I didn’t lose it, but that was the first time in almost five months I completely forgot. Then at 5AM I logged into Facebook to say I couldn’t believe I’d stayed up all night, and realized I’d forgotten to post about the 100 days count as I’ve been doing daily. So I was really having a banner day.

THANKS, OSCARS.

Anyway, we tried for most of an hour to get the wretched NowTV working on the tv again, but I gave up and watched it on my laptop, which worked just fine. I was holding out (unrealistic) hope that “This Is Me” would be one of the first couple songs performed so I could go to bed, but no, it was the last, and at that point there was only like 45 minutes left so I went ahead and stayed up to watch the rest of it.

Best dressed, AFAIC, went to Kelly Marie Tran, Jennifer Lawrence (who, wearing heels and having a 6 inch height advantage anyway, looked like an actual Amazon standing next to Jodie Foster in flats), Lupita Nyong’o, Chadwick Boseman, ARMIE HAMMER IN THAT DARK RED VELVET TUX OH MY GOD, JANE FONDA GOOD GOD WOMAN, RITA MORENO YOU ABSOLUTE QUEEN IN THE SAME DRESS YOU WORE 56 YEARS AGO, Danai Gurira, Allison Janney’s epic sleeves, Margot Robbie, ZENDAYA NOT MANY PEOPLE COULD ROCK THAT DRESS BUT WOW, *both* of Mary J Blige’s looks, Taraji P Henson oh my god, look, I better just stop now or I’ll be here all day.

Overall I thought the presentations were pretty flat–I rarely thought Kimmel was funny–and I actually even thought the musical numbers lacked energy/verve, but there were some great moments: the aforementioned Rudolph & Haddish, and Lupita Nyong’o and Kumail Nanjiani’s DREAMers speech, the final line of which, “To all the DREAMers, we stand with you,” damn near made me stand up and applaud them. That was beautifully done. *Beautifully* done.

I nearly fell out of my chair when Jordan Peele won the Best Screenplay Oscar. I’m so glad he did. And I desperately wanted Get Out to win the Best Picture Oscar, but I also desperately wanted The Shape of Water to, so I’m happy and disappointed all at once and I would have been either way. I thought there was an extremely good chance, once they’d given del Toro the Best Director Oscar, that, having filled their POC quotas, they’d give Best Picture to Dunkirk or Darkest Hour. I was *very* happy they didn’t. And I was very pleased for the old guy who got the best adapted screenplay one, that was nice.

I was straight-up disappointed that “This Is Me” didn’t win. None of the rest of them *disappointed* me, but that one really did. It’s cool that yer man is now a double EGOT, the first one in history, but while The Greatest Showman is not a great movie, Hugh Jackman got stiffed at the Golden Globes and I genuinely thought it was going to get its one Oscar to put on the mantle.

I was a little underwhelmed with…all the best actor awards, I think. I thought Metcalf from Lady Bird was gonna get the best supporting actress and was surprised but pleased that Janney did, except I hoped Blige would. I was just straight-up surprised that Sam Rockwell won. I thought Christopher Plummer had a shoe-in there. I didn’t think Oldman’s performance was a tour de force, so I was quite meh on his win and thought Daniel Kaluuya should have gotten the Oscar there, and if not Kaluuya, I hoped Timothée Chalamet would because he was so charming. And I knew Ronan wouldn’t get it, didn’t think Streep needed another one, and really hoped Hawkins would get it, so was kinda meh about McDormand getting it, although she gave a decent speech.

I have definitely not done Oscars since Twitter was a thing, and that made staying up until 5am really quite a lot of fun, participating in a global Oscars Party online. I’m glad I did, even if it was a perfectly ridiculous thing to do and I’m not bleary with sleep deprivation. :)

day two books!

February has not been quite as busy as January, because January was shockingly busy, but I have also not slept enough in February, either, which is definitely one thing I did the same as January. Still, I got quite a lot done:

– finished dissecting a book to see how it worked. it was really interesting and the post about that will be up soon at my Patreon
– wrote a fairly intensive 40 page grant proposal
– did about 15K on the new book
– read a couple of research books
– roughed out 3 short synopses
– wrote 1 short synopsis

I actually planned/expected/hoped to get quite a lot more than that done, but the grant proposal took a lot longer than I thought it would, so, well, y’know. Such is life. Still, it wasn’t an unproductive month. :)