LGBT: The Out 100 Portraits
Space: Bright Spot on Uranus!
Weiss Kreuz: Crawford/Schuldig As Vampires by 2nds2disaster. SFW.
On Saturday evening, I went to see Cowboys & Aliens. I liked it, but the set-up was far more compelling than the execution. A nineteenth century cowboy wakes up in the desert with no memory and a digital bracelet that he doesn't understand. He tries to smash it off with a rock, but then evil cowboys arrive to take him to prison. He defeats them the old-fashioned way (fists), steals their clothes and heads into town. Brilliant.
One of the key charms of the film (and I don't believe this to be a spoiler) is the aliens facing off against cowboys against the backdrop of a realistic-looking desert. But after the initial set-up, we start to have problems. There are a large number of flashbacks which are made to stand out by turning up the brightness/contrast to max. So far, not a problem. However, roughly half of the rest of the movie has also been attacked by DI techniques such as colour grading, while the other half has been left relatively untouched. It makes for very uneven cinematography, when they should be using those bright expanses of desert to their advantage.
If nothing else, the realism and grittiness expected by the presence of cowboys is your selling point. Use it.
Then there are the female characters. It starts off well enough, with the only female character being fairly strong and who appears to be at the start of a genuine story arc. It goes nowhere. She goes nowhere. It turns out she's a completely different alien, but that doesn't mean she becomes competent at fighting, it just means she's available to explain the plot. She dies and comes back, and it doesn't mean a thing because she was never really there. Overall, I think that was probably the biggest scripting mistake of the entire thing and it was done because they needed a dramatic beat. J pointed out that if it wasn't for the fact that she was an alien, none of the cowboys would ever have known they were fighting aliens rather than demons. I say, "So what?"
There is, of course, her final demise. Was that even needed? And if it was, why not combine her role with Harrison Ford's? One of the only three fleshed-out characters should have died, and it would have made sense for it to have been Ford's after he made the racist remark about his Native American son.
The final fight scene was poor. They should have done it as they did in Lord of the Rings where you have a huge battle over a huge expanse of land, but you make it meaningful by focussing on small battles, rather than orc after orc being knocked over in various different ways.
As for the good stuff, the opening is fantastic and the alien architecture in the desert looks great when they ease off on the digital processing. I must also commend them on finding the shortest route between the concepts of "aliens" and "cowboys" to justify the whole thing. Oh, and waistcoats.
Overall, it wasn't bad, but I could have fixed it all. And a film that I could fix single-handedly is probably not that good.
On Sunday, I saw Captain America. I'm very surprised to note that I loved it! While it has also undergone extensive colour grading as well, it's only really noticeable in one scene where a motorbike explodes in a flash of orange surrounded by a completely teal forest. And it's not like you wouldn't have known that from the promo shots.
The key point to its success, apart from genuine stars like Hugo Weaving and a ton of nods to comic book fans who already know the story (such as the way Steve Rogers holds a dustbin lid like a shield in the beginning), is that it knows that excessive jingoism is a risk and goes up against that problem head-on. Because Captain America and his costume start when he is hired to be a propaganda figure, complete with dancing girls. He even has his own comic book! It really helps put the rest in perspective.
Another thing is that the characters are all supposed to be from a variety of countries, even Japan. Yes, all are stereotypes, but unashamedly so and all positive. Britain gets a no-nonsense guy in a bowler hat. :)
I can't wait for the Avengers movie.
Next up, will be Suteki na Kanashibari, which has been heavily advertised around here. The title translates as either "Awesome Sleep Paralysis" or "Awesomely Tied Down By Money" and I guess that's why the English title is "Once In A Blue Moon".
I hope to see that today.
As for writing, I posted the first part of my Crawford/Schuldig fic, Golden Jubilee! Maybe I'll stop feeling quite so guilty as I clean up the rest of it. I'm also waiting on the results of an anthology I submitted to a few months ago. If you have a second, send a few positive thoughts my way?
I'm also thinking about what to do with my blog over the next three months. It's called "Spam From Japan" and it won't be from Japan for much longer. By chance(?), I have an extra webhosting package. Long story short, my webhost kept sending me reminders to renew pretty much every other day, warning me every time that when my hosting expired they really couldn't guarantee that it would be automatically updated (although it might be). So I renewed it and they charged me for that AND the auto-renewal. So I could have a new blog very easily.
But what would it be about? Spam From Japan wasn't as popular as it could have been. Maybe I wasn't a good enough writer or photographer, or got the balance wrong. Maybe I didn't SEO enough. Maybe 'spam' in the title scared people off. Maybe no one really wanted pretty pictures of Japan mixed with Japanese pop culture.
So let's try again. Something that is me. Something very, very narrow in scope rather than 'popular and traditional Japan depending on my whim'. I don't want to do movie reviews, not just because there's too much competition, but also because I don't know how much money I'll have to regularly go to the cinema in Britain. I must admit, I'd love to do something Hyperbole and a Half, detailing my "adventures" in Britain. Any other ideas?