Nana-nana-nana-nana… Batcat!

I love Batman. I love him from his “nana-nana” to his butler, who made me cry during the last cinematic release on this epic superhero.

I love him for his dead parents – poor, lonely Bruce! – and for his attitude. He is no Tony Stark, arrogant and attention seeking.

He visits charity events because he has to, even if he stayed out late the night before, defending Gotham City, and would rather retire to bed early – and he does all that, not because it is easy, but because it is right.

Endure, Master Wayne. Take it. They’ll hate you for it, but that’s the point of Batman, he can be the outcast. He can make the choice that no one else can make, the right choice. (Alfred Pennyworth)

Besides being tall, dark and handsome, which never hurts, he is kind and clever.

It’s not who I am underneath, but what I do that defines me.

To me, he’s everything a superhero should be – and this Batcat does a remarkable impression of him!

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Doesn’t he look heroic?

Why the girls of Hayao Miyazaki are better than Disney’s Princesses

This morning I stumbled upon an interesting article on “Wired“: “Great Geek Debates: Disney Princesses vs. Hayao Miyazaki“.

Author Erik Wecks ponders the disadvantages of his daughters’ growing up while looking up to Disney princesses as role models.

 

 

He concludes that the majority of those girls embody a negative self-image for young girls as most of them have a troubled relationship with their parents and rely on their prince to save them.

 

 

Though Wecks agrees that this is more a cultural than a Disney problem, he fails to see that all of these movies derive from old fairytales.

This is a genre where not only the princess is more of a figure than a character, the prince, the king, the evil stepmother all are. In most cases they don’t even have a name, only a title.  “Snow-White” or “Cinderella” are the exeptions, and those are only descriptive names.

To conclude, as Wecks does as well, Disney is not to blame. It even started to create active heroines, as soon as the early nineties.

Remember this girl?

 

 

It is true, she had some fights with her over-protective father.

But she had a goal, too: She yearned to live at the surface. Meeting, and rescuing!, the prince was only the incentive she needed to go for her dream.

 

Erik Wecks does not only thrash the Disney princesses. He offers a healthy alternative in the form of the studio Ghibli films.

 

 

Wecks describes their assets very well in his article, so I won’t repeat them here.

Let’s only say that I completely side with him when it comes to the values Miyazaki’s films convey.

 

So what is my verdict here?

I’m certainly not one to condemn the Disney princesses movies. I grew up watching and loving every single one (up until “Pocahontas“, which I didn’t really get at that time and never bothered to watch).

But it hasn’t left me feeling like I need to be spectacularly beautiful just to snatch a husband.

On the contrary, my favourite princess, besides Arielle, has always been Belle.

 

 

Sure, she is beautiful. But she’s a booknerd, too, and rescues her prince in the end.

No matter what some jealous people say about stockholm syndrome ;-).

 

If I’m lucky enough to have the chance of raising a daughter one day, I’ll certainly let her watch Disney, just like my parents let me.

But, just like my parents did, I’ll be careful to provide her with some counterparts.

My parents took to Ronja, Pippi and the rest of the Swedish girl-force.

I for one will make sure my daughter will benefit from Chihiro, Ponyo, Kikki and the rest, as well.

 

 

 

Fairytales

Dwarves, princesses and witches seem to be everywhere these days. No matter where you turn, there’s bound to be some character right out of the brothers Grimm’s book.

Have you noticed yet? Just around Halloween, American TV has started two new series with a strong link to fairytales.

One of them is NBC’s Grimm, starring David Giuntoli and Silas Weir Mitchell. I really came to appreciate Silas through his performances on 24 and Prison Break.

 

 

——— Spoilers ahead ———–

The story itself is simple: a young detective begins seeing strange transformations in stranger’s faces, just as his aunt is visiting him, dying of cancer. His first case after his aunt’s appearance quickly leads him to finding out that the old stories might be true, when a young girl goes missing. She was last seen wearing a bright red hooded sweater…

Sounds like you’ve heard that one before? Sure you have:

 

 

Detective Nick Burckhardt’s investigations lead him to a wolf, albeit not the big bad one, who blames him and his family of having stigmatised his whole race. See, Mr. Burckhardt is a decendant of noneother than the Brothers Grimm themselves! His family has taken up the business of hunting down all those fairytale beings you wouldn’t want to meet in your dark laundryroom.

Concerning the serie’s future it isn’t hard to guess what the next episodes will be about. The detective will have to keep on hiding his abilities from his partner and fiancé. And he’ll have to be careful not to go on breaking as much police protocol, so he won’t be exposed.

The filming itself seems to be well done, the question is if the audience will want to go on seeing stories they’ve already known since kindergarten.

 

Another new series is abc’s “Once Upon a Time“, starring “Big Love‘s” Ginnifer Goodwin.

 

 

According to the IMDb it “centers on a woman with a troubled past who is drawn into a small town in Maine where the magic and mystery of Fairy Tales just may be real.”

Though hubby is concerned this might lead to “Desperate Housewifes“-esque dramatic scenes, I’m kind of intrigued.

 

The whole business of basing new movies and shows on fairytales isn’t really new.

 

In 1997 Sigourney Weaver freaked me out with “Snow White: A Tale of Terror“.

 

 

Director Michael Cohn managed to freshly adapt the old story of the evil stepmother and even Sam Neill couldn’t destroy my viewing pleasure.

 

The same story was used in 2001’s “Snow White“, whose protagonist I will, unfortunately, always connect with her role as Smallville‘s love-interest of Superman. Blech.

 

 

2005 brought us “The Brothers Grimm“, which wasn’t too great, considering the current IMDb voting of 5.9.

 

 

One reviewer remarked:

“People have a curious tendency not to notice how bizarre and gruesome children’s fairy tales often are. Terry Gilliam’s “The Brothers Grimm” does notice. Unfortunately, that’s just about its only insight into the subject. The film shows no understanding of what makes fairy tales memorable and exciting, or why they have endured through the ages.”

 

In 2007 Korean “Henjel gwa Geuretel” came out, a horror-movie based on the “Hänsel und Gretel” story that actually sounds interesting.

 

 

“When Eun-soo gets lost in a country road, he meets a mysterious girl and is led to her fairytale like house in the middle of the forest. There, Eun-soo is trapped with the girl and her siblings who never age”.

I might try to get my hands on that one. Even though I don’t think it will live up to k-horror classics like The Tale Of Two Sisters.

 

Most of the films above are just mainstream fairytale adaptations, yet not counting the Disney ones. Take the Shrek movies for example, which have “borrowed” lots of fairytale characters during the years.

 

2011 brought a new wave of fairytale-movies.

The audience being warmed up by movies like the Twilight series, but at the same time finally getting bored of vampires, flocked the theatres at the opening of “Beastly” in April.

 


The story is based on “Beauty and the Beast”, following a highschool student apparently so in love with himself, that a young witch curses him – he’ll turn into a beast regularly until he finds true love.

Only able to brag with a 5.0 on IMDb it supposedly isn’t one of the best adaptations and I would rather watch the Disney version again before watching this. At least there’s singing.

 

The second 2011 fairytale was “Red Riding Hood“, starring another “Big Love” alumn, Amanda Seyfried.

 

 

Although the cast seemed promising (Gary Oldman!) and the director had proven himself to make movies the audience liked (Twilight) the movie’s rating can only deliver a 5.1.

A reviewer called it “ruined by trying to be too many things” and goes on to complain that “in fact, for a supposedly sexier take on a classic folk tale, it’s in desperate need of thrust in general. It flits around the idea of being a more adult folk tale but never commits”.

 

 

2012 surely will bring about many more “Grimm” stories, “Mirror, Mirror” one of them.

 

 

This one is another “Snow White” adaptation starring Julia Roberts and Sean Bean. Sean, Sean, will I have to watch you die again? Otherwise than that, I’m not really interested.

Director Tarsem Singh brought us “The Cell“, so I’m not really sure what to hope for with this one. And what can be expected from a man who thinks J-Lo can act?

It is tagged as “Comedy, Drama, Fantasy” and I’m quite afraid it’ll be no more than a Hollywood-lovestory… blech again.

 

Snow White and the Huntsman”  will be out in the summer of 2012. Here we go again, another Snow White? Oh dear. Would make you think that the Grimms hadn’t written down countless other stories to choose from.

 

 

Personally I’m not that eager for more of Kristen Steward‘s lip-biting or Chris Hemsworth‘s “look-at-my-nice-muscles”-attitude. But “Shaun of the Dead“‘s Nick Frost, Bob Hoskins and Charlize Theron still might convince me of giving the movie a chance.

Snow White and the Huntsman” probably won’t be the taillight in the rising trend of fairytales.

The 20th December 2012 will mark the 200th birthday of the Grimms’ fairytales’ first edition and throughout Germany there will be lots of different festivities.

 

But why are fairytales still so popular?

There are countless reasons why people love fairytales. They’ve always been around, for one. Being imparted from one generation to the next, they are considered as poetry of the people. They can’t be traced back to one author, they’ve been told and re-told for hundreds of years.

And they keep on being told because there always is some truth in fairytales.

Each of us knows what it is to be on a quest for someone’s trust and respect, we have encountered evil witches of our times, fought against concepts that seemed more otherworldly than a scary dragon could.

The hero of a fairytale is us. He’s wandering, has to redeem himself. As do we.

Then of course, the world of fairytales offers escapism on a grand scale. It is hard to worry about mortgages, the rising cost of living or high numbers of unemployment when there are evil witches or wolves on the loose.

I could go on and on about fairytales, but will save the more scientific approach for my university studies, especially my Master of Arts thesis.

 

I don’t expect the fairytale-trend to die down soon. After all, it is another way for screenwriters to come up with new storylines … even if the stories themselves aren’t new.

Among friends

All I see is rotten bodies with a greenish hue. Dripping eyeballs and flaking skin.

Their sounds are scary, crunching bones mingled with moaning that would be heartbreaking, came it not from an undead, no longer a person.

They are shuffling, some with missing limbs, all of them dirty and probably stinking like the sixth circle of hell.

Now they have smelled something, they shift their bodies and cock their heads, sniffing, searching. They are hungry, closing in.

 

 

 

I’m pulling my blanket up, on the verge of being afraid.

But these are my old friends, surrounding me.

And not only the undead, though they have shared my life for quite some time now.

I mean the others. My husband, to my left, holding my hand. My newest friend to my right, leaning in to my old friend, her husband-to-be, squeaking at the Walkers when I am.

Last our glassblower to the front, protector of the fire.

 

I can’t put my finger on it, but something about the combination of Undead, old friends and various snacks makes my heart heavy. In a good way.

 

 

 

“Vous êtes de la police?” / “Einmal Polizist, immer Polizist”

Last night I was zapping through the channels in search of something good when I stopped at arte just as they showed their primetime preview. I’ve often watched their show Karambolage and various documenteries, but seldom any movies.

Then it said “A detective moves into a retirement home and isn’t happy about it, but then things start to happen…”. I directly thought of Bubba Ho-tep and was filled with glee. I knew I couldn’t expect Egyptian zombies, but it sounded interesting nevertheless.

 

 

Not to tell too much: Ms. Sablonnet takes on a murder case in the retirement home with the help of his oldschool rocker friend Francky. They meet obstacles in the form of the home’s directress, the nurses and the other inhabitants.

Though sometimes on the edge of being depressing the movie has many humorous and outright funny moments: highly recommendable!

 

Some trivia at the end: Jean-Pierre Cassel stars as the detective and if that name sounds familiar it might be because of “The Crimson Rivers” (“Les rivières pourpres”).

 

 

It might also be because of his son, Vincent Cassel, who also starred in “The Crimson Rivers” and is of “Black Swan” and the “Ocean’s” movies fame.

Another tid-bit: Jean-Pierre Cassel was father-in-law to Monica Belucci, who is still married to Vincent. Lucky guy!

 

 

Game of Thrones, Gozo-style!

HBO’s “Game of Thrones” adaptation begins and quickly pulls the audience into a fantastical world so unlike our own. Blue-eyed beasts, vast kingdoms, bearded warriors and fair maidens.

But is it really so much unlike our own?

Experienced Malta travellers might have excitedly clapped their hands screaming calmly recognized the wedding scene of barbar Khal Drogo and fair princess Daenerys Targaryen.

See that rock formation in the background to the left? The one with the big gap in it?

 

 

Yep. You say it looks like a big window? That is probably why it is called the “Azure Window”.

Hubby and I were standing in that exact place this winter on our escape to Malta. It is near Dwerja on Malta’s sister island Gozo and truly beautiful.

Do you see that otherwordly looking ground I’m standing on? That is probably where the guy shown above spilled his guts. Literally.

 

 

Had I known back in January that Game of Thrones would be shot here, I probably would’ve made Hubby wear some seriously skimpy loincloth 🙂

Again, the site while filming:

 

 

And this is the Azure Window like we saw it:

 

 

Look again at the ground we were standing on:

 

 

Doesn’t look like one for safe footing, right? That’s why HBO’s production company filled it up with sand to make sure nobody gets hurt.

 

 

Unfortunately, said company apparently wasn’t to worried about the site’s eco system and failed to properly clear the area of all that sand after filming was wrapped up.

This incident, understandably, has seriously upset Malta’s people and its Environment and Planning Agency (MEPA), who were promised that the area wouldn’t be damaged.

HBO’s production company later apologized for the incident, but it still remains uncertain if Dwerja’s eco system will recover from the mess the filming has done to it.

 

It is too bad that this treatment of a beautiful place leaves a slightly bad taste after an otherwise brilliant start of an TV series.

CSI: Miami

I’ve never been a big fan of the crime-genre (except “die drei ???”).  Dead guys’ chalk outlines? My heart doesn’t skip a beat. Bad-tempered men in trenchcoats? I couldn’t care less.

But last night’s tv schedule didn’t offer lots of alternatives, so here I went, watching my first episode of CSI: Miami.

Season 7’s (!) 17th episode, “the Divorce Party” starts as its title promises: A recently divorced woman is holding a big wedding-styled party to ring in her new life. What a surprise when her ex-husband falls through the festive gazebo’s roof. With a rope around his neck.

The first suspect is the ex-wife’s gay best friend. A cop implies that he isn’t really gay and murdered the husband because he had the hots for the wife. He answers: “I’m not a good actor” to which the cop, with a brooding eye, shoots back: “Maybe you’re a good murderer”.

And that’s just the beginning of continuously bad dialogue.

Followed by a plot straight out of a reality-soap. The scripted kind.

Lo! and behold, the dead ex led a double-life! Two wives. Two kids. How anyone manages that in one town is beyond me. Even if it is the 7th largest US city. But since that plot wouldn’t have been exciting enough, let’s have the two kids of the two wives meet. Cross that out, let’s them have sex! Still not enough? Why, an unplanned pregnancy seems like a great idea! Of course now the two have to find out they’re siblings. As soon as they find out they’re related the -now dead- husband is confronted. Since he doesn’t tolerate their undying love and wants them to have an abortion the only obvious solution for the teens is to murder him.

Seriously, why is this show that successful? It is beyond me…