Tag Archives: children’s movies

Tangled, Country Strong, and things

16 Jan

Its epic, isn't it?

Today I sold my car. The picture up there is from my last trip to Austin from Houston. I know I always talk about the sky in Texas and how its blue, but this is proof. I know that its not the last time I’ll make this drive, but it’s the last time I’ll make it for quite a while now that I am without wheels. Which brings me to things. While I was selling my car, I had this moment of doubt. Mainly: “can i live without a car?” And in the end, it came to the fact that a car is just a thing.

I’ve been thinking a lot about things, because my parents are flipping our house. I know this means something in reality tv or real estate or both, but in this case I mean they are literally flipping the house: moving their room and the living room from downstairs to upstairs, and turning their room into a guest room. This means that my room is going to be their room, so I have to get all of my stuff packed before I leave. This then means that I’m throwing everything in boxes that I can’t take with me to New Jersey. I already went through my room this summer and threw out about four large trashbags of stuff that I no longer need, but there is still a shocking amount of crap hanging out in my room. It’s hard to go through years of your stuff and get rid of things that meant something to you at one time, but I’m working on it. I eventually had to adopt an attitude of “if I haven’t looked at/used/thought about this in the last year, there is no need to keep it.” Also, I am trying to think about how they are all just things, and how many things does a person really need? No matter how zen I try to be about it, its still hard to throw some of it out.

Now, on to my movie reviews!

Disney Does Rapunzel

the 50th animated movie, and not much has changed.

Oh, Tangled. What can I say? I went to see it with the hope that this would be the more feminist version of Rapunzel, judging from the trailers, and from what a couple friends had reported back. Let me just be the first to say, I was not impressed. I absolutely loved The Princess and the Frog, despite some of the racist stereotypes and such, because the music was great, the hand animation was wonderful, and it was much more feminist than an story ever before. Plus, it featured a woman of color. Awesome! Fast forward to Tangled, which features an entirely white cast of computer animated characters and songs that are sub par. It features Mandy Moore as the voice of Rapunzel. I have a special place in my heart for Mandy Moore, and I can’t quite explain why. Maybe its because she was awesome in Saved!, or perhaps because I totally loved Because I Said So. Whatever the reason, her success as an actress really made me happy. She does a great animated voice, and she’s still a great singer, but those songs were completely predictable and boring. And that’s just the beginning.

Within the first few minutes of the movie, after the stage is set, you discover that Rapunzel’s 18th birthday is coming up. Meaning: she is only seventeen. Then you meet the dashing Flynn Rider, bad thief gone good, whose body type and facial hair suggest he is in his late twenties. As soon as the two of them were in a room together, her plotting to get to the lanterns for her birthday, him to retrieve his stolen goods, I knew where it was going. I hoped, I prayed to the Disney Gods, and it something along the lines of “Oh, dear Disney Gods, please don’t let this man in his late twenties hook up with this teenager who he met when she was underage.” My prayers went unanswered, and I continued to cringe through a plot where the main focal point of the female character went from finding independence to chasing the man she loved. Gag. Me. With. A. Spoon. When the happy ending comes, as you know it will, I was content with the happy family portrait moment. But no. Disney wasn’t done. In the voice over that closes the film, Flynn Rider says, “I know what you’re all wondering.” Actually, I wasn’t wondering anything, and if I had been wondering something that wasn’t “How many more cliches can they fit in this movie?” it would have been “I wonder what that newfound family dynamic is like!”or, “I bet she makes an awesome queen!” But no. Flynn Rider knows what you’re wondering, and that is, “Did we ever get married?” It felt so completely unnecessary and contrived. There was no need to insert this idea of an unfinished story without the successful marriage of the two main characters into the minds of small children, yet again. But would it be a Disney movie without it? Overall, rent it if you have to babysit or don’t care about well-written, original songs and feminist storylines.

it'll make you want cowboy boots, a cowboy hat, and a horse

Now on to Country Strong, a movie I highly enjoyed. You have to know that my homesickness informed a lot of my desire to see this movie. In Jersey, almost no one likes country music. You better believe I couldn’t wait to sit and listen to some for two whole hours. All of the actors sing their own songs on the awesome soundtrack, and every single one did a great job in the movie. I was really impressed with Leighton Meester‘s twang and Garrett Hedlund‘s… everything. I already knew Gwyneth could act and sing, so I expected her to be great, and she was. Tim McGraw has, for me, established himself as an actor. The plot wasn’t incredibly surprising and certainly had some gendered stereotypes, but also dealt with issues I hadn’t expected to find in a movie about country stars, like mental illness. **insert spoiler alert here** the eventual decision of Leighton Meester’s character to leave her possibly awesome, though bubblegum country Barbie pop-filled, career behind to follow Garrett Hedlund into the “true” country lifestyle a la George Strait in Pure Country. If you can get past the romanticizing of country music, which I was in the perfect mood for, you will absolutely enjoy this movie. I can’t wait to buy the soundtrack and jam out.

And now, I leave you with this: the only man who can rock denim on denim.

where's mine?

in sisterhood and solidarity,

me

The UN, Veganism, and trippy movies you thought you liked as a kid.

1 Oct

Why, hello.

[insert come hither stare.]

Yesterday when I promised to explain how the UN and veganism were connected I had this totally unrealistic expectation that I would have had time to read my new book by now. False. I’m currently reading The Kind Diet . A friend of mine mentioned that she read it and decided to go vegan, and because I really want to guilt myself into not being able to eat smothered pork chops or baked brie I asked if I could borrow it. But seriously. If you read any reports, including this one from the UN, (or a summed up version from the guardian) you will find that the way we eat is really, really bad for us. Huge disclaimer: though I think little fluffy chicks and bunnies are cute, I still think they are delicious and do not really associate any guilt with that deliciousness. However, I’m pretty down for reducing my carbon footprint through a lower consumption of meat and dairy. Did you know that a full fifth of the carbon emissions the US produces come from the meat industry? Isn’t that insane? I learned this tidbit from Mark Bittman, who wrote Food Matters. Also in Food Matters, I learned that the original food pyramid was basically bull shit that was paid for by big food industry lobbyists. I don’t know about you, but that kind of stuff makes activist me incredibly pissed off. When I decided to try to go one day without meat and realized I had no idea how to make lunch or dinner without it, I felt brainwashed. Since then, I’ve been flirting with a vegan/vegetarian lifestyle and I think this book is just another step in that direction. It is hard, though, to imagine my life as a veggie anything. Thanksgiving? Christmas? Easter? Birthdays? Fourth of July? Mother’s Day? Father’s Day? Memorial Day? Saturday? Being a southerner, I find it hard to picture myself still belonging to my family and not being an omnivore. We shall see, though. There are all kinds of options for incorporating these ideas into any diet. I will also keep you posted on The Kind Diet and how it is as a book in general.

In other news, do you remember this really freaking creepy movie that you probably watched as a child and thought “Holy shitballs, what the hell are they doing with that crystal?!” Yes. I am talking about The Dark Crystal. Probably one of the scariest and creepiest children’s films ever made (why thank you, Jim Henson, for my complete fear of…everything.) If you need a refresher, check out this scene on youtube.  Or, if you’re pretty sure that scared feeling in your stomach is from repressed memories of this damn movie and you want to check without upsetting your inner child, the trailer is a nice, misleadingly un-horrific way to jog your memory.  If you are sitting there reading this and wondering, why is she doing this? Why are we going here? It’s because today I had this urge to watch some harry potter (since I couldn’t bring my set of books with me when I moved) and found that none of the movies are streaming on netflix. Neither, I might add, is The Pebble and The Penguin, which was my second choice. I then started browsing the children’s movies sections, because by that point I was just in the mood for something happy that I could count on. That is when it happened. I saw The Dark Crystal right next to Labyrinth under the heading “Children-Adventures.” I don’t know about you, but I don’t think any child needs to see Bowie’s package so up close. Labyrinth is, of course, no Dark Crystal, but it still begged the question, what is up with all of these really creepy children’s movies? Think about it. How many children’s movies have you seen recently and thought “How could I possibly have a positive memory from this movie?” and then there are the movies that, even as a child, you knew were just plain wrong. Consider James and the Giant Peach. If you are like me, you will just remember some fun claymation insects and glowing worms. I somehow managed to block that viscious shark of death and the two masochistic aunts. I guess in some ways those kinds of kids movies are preferable to the sugary-sweet children’s movies of today. Those movies at least acknowledge that even as children we have an awareness that life isn’t all sunshine and daisies, and creepy children’s movies like the ones mentioned above respect the morbid in children. But still. I could have gone my whole life without that Dark Crystal, but then I wouldn’t have understood all the awesome jokes in the Robot Chicken parody, Dark Cristal.

I’m going to go sit around and hum.

Make that money, don’t let that money make you.

-me