In which K and C gchat about Catching Fire

We are trying something new! Instead of texting or skyping about our reactions to Catching Fire, Kate and I saved our thoughts for a lengthy gchat, which we have posted here for your, um,  enjoyment (Seriously we didn’t talk about it AT ALL before this conversation. We must like all of you). It was an interesting exercise, because we knew we were writing for the blog, so it’s a LOT more sensical than our usual conversations, and with way less profanity and capslocks. We did a little editing for content, and for the fact that I type like a drunk raccoon. Let us know if you like this format and we can do it (or NOT do it) again in the future. We talk  a little about the whole series, but nothing super spoiler-y outside of Catching FireCatching-Fire-22-exclusive

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The Hobbit: The Invisible Women

The Hobbit: an Unexpected Hotness. Credit: Warner Brothers

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Hotness. Credit: Warner Brothers

I’ve been carrying around some strong feelings about the movie The Hobbit. A lot of them are good. It’s charming, funny, poignant, it makes me feel nostalgic, and some of the dwarves are hotter than they have any right to be (hello, Kili, Fili, and Thorin Oakenshield). But I also walked out of the theatre in December feeling unsettled. The lack of diversity in that movie is staggering.

On top of that, we see the only named female character in the whole movie, Galadriel, for a grand total of five minutes. Even then, I understand that she is a character borrowed from Lord of the Rings, and doesn’t appear in the Hobbit book. I can’t even take a bat to The Hobbit like Kate did with Star Trek: Into Darkness because the women are simply not there.

Galadriel in all her soft focus glory. Credit: Warner Brothers

Galadriel in all her soft focus glory. Credit: Warner Brothers

Which leads me to a really strange argument and problem. Continue reading

The Great Gatsby: The Long Review

Original 1925 cover art by Francis Cugat.

I had not anticipated how much time I’d end up spending on The Great Gatsby.  At this point, I have seen it in the theatres twice and just finished reading the novel for the first time since high school, and there’s a lot to unpack here.  Given the slant of this blog, I’ll try to keep focused more on the portrayal of women in the film and novel, but so much more could be said about how race, wealth, poverty, and any number of other issues are addressed.  (For the earlier and briefer “tl;dr” review, go here.)


There are going to be spoilers in this review, as the movie sticks fairly close to the book, the book came out close to a century ago, and you should have read it in high school.  Proceed accordingly.  If you are unfamiliar with the characters and their relationships with each other, this is kind of a gorgeous character map.

As I mentioned in the short review, I learned through extensive research (yes, that is sarcastic) that Fitzgerald drew a ton of inspiration from his relationship with his wife, Zelda Fitzgerald, to the point of lifting text directly from her diary and inserting it into one of his books.  In fact, there’s stenographic record of Fitzgerald basically losing it when Zelda had the temerity to write a fictionalized account of her own mental breakdown and hospitalization, since he had been planning on using that material in future works:

 I don’t want you….to write a novel about insanity, because you know there is certain psychiatric stuff in my books, and if you publish a book before me, or even at the same time, in which the subject of psychiatry is taken up, and people see “Fitzgerald,” why, there is Scott Fitzgerald’s wife, they read that… Everything we have done is mine. If we make a trip….and you and I go around, I am the professional novelist, and I am supporting you. This is all my material. None of it is your material.

So… yeah.  Fitzgerald had a complicated relationship with the primary lady in his life and the material of both of their lives as fodder for his writing.  As such, how he deals with both the primary woman and his narrator are worth greater examination, as well as the choices Luhrman makes in bringing these characters to the screen.

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Pick-Me-Up: Hello, Tailor Discusses Pepper Potts

WARNING: this site is addictive if you care at all about costuming.

Gwyneth Paltrow as Pepper Potts – ass-kicking girly girl who isn’t afraid to work hard, look good, or work hard at looking good.

Hello, Tailor is my newest obsession, thanks in large part to this post on Pepper Potts and why she is a great female character that is also an underrepresented type: that of the non-bitchy, intelligent, highly motivated girly-girl. Pepper (like Gwyneth) likes looking pretty and clearly puts effort into it. This article goes into all of the reasons why her character design is AMAZING, and how her costuming does a lot to enhance her character traits.

If you have any interest at all in costuming and the way that clothes shape our perceptions of people, I highly recommend checking the blog out. Nothing too technical or fussy, just an interesting take at a side of the movies that most people don’t actively think about.

Kate now has an overwhelming urge to go get her sewing machine fixed.

The Great Gatsby: The Short Review

So I fell into a bit of a rabbit hole with The Great Gatsby.  I hadn’t intended to do anything with the film at all besides enjoy what I was sure would be a messy and gorgeous movie with some friends and some smuggled beverages.  (Lesson learned: champagne cocktails do not travel well.)

Credit: Warner Bros

I had not read the book since it was assigned in high school, so I wandered into the film roughly familiar with the plot, not expecting a lot, and a little tipsy.

The first time I saw this film, I was overwhelmed.  I’ll get to why in a little bit, but I ended up reading the book again for the first time in 10 years and seeing the film a second time decidedly sober.  I’m posting a much more detailed review on here in the next day or two, but not everybody has time for that sort of thing, so here’s the overview.

(Mild spoilers here.  Major spoilers in the full review.)

Love him or hate him, Baz Luhrman has a style that he does incredibly well, and that style works beautifully with the look and feel of The Great Gatsby. Continue reading

Much Ado About Virtue

One Hero died defiled, but I do live,
And surely as I live, I am a maid.

Much Ado About Nothing, Act V, Scene IV

Hero's disgrace

Hero’s disgrace

I had a chance to see a screening of Joss Whedon’s film, Much Ado About Nothing last week. As we have established here on Sassafrakas, I’m a big fan of Shakespeare. The language, the stories, the themes… they speak to me.  As some of you know (but we have not discussed here on the blog) I am also a big fan of Joss Whedon. Buffy the Vampire Slayer is one of the first TV shows that I decided to watch on my own as a teenager, and in its own way, it stuck with me. I’ve stuck with Joss Whedon throughout his career. This film for me is the perfect storm of things that I’m into.

You know the drill about this movie, right? Its been buzzing all over the internet for months, but if you don’t know (hi, Mom!) here are the basics. Director and producer Joss Whedon shot it in 12 days in his own California home, with a collection of actors plucked mostly from other productions of his over the years.  It’s filmed in black and white and set basically in the present (although the fashion is decidedly non trendy, and that throws the viewer’s ability to place it). It has guns instead of swords and very, very, little technology.

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Why I Liked Star Trek: Into Darkness, But Mostly Why It Made Me Mad


Warning: Spoilers ahead. Also, rants. I freely admit that I go into waaaaay more detail about some things that I didn’t like than the things that I enjoyed.

Let me start off by saying that I enjoyed the new Star Trek movie. I repeat – I had fun watching Star Trek: Into Darkness, and overall, I liked it. It was a well-made blockbuster action movie. It was pretty to look at, it was full of attractive people, and the set (for the most part) looked like the high-tech love child of the original Enterprise and an iPad. I really, really liked how much screen time was given to Benedict Cumberbatch. Because seriously. I would pay money to watch him in anything. A movie about watching paint dry, you say? Fine. Take my money. It was well spent.

I did not prefer the blatant sexism. Because seriously, Mr. Abrams, what the hell? I know that it is a blockbuster, and thus I expect for the focus to be on a white male protagonist, because unfortunately that is the world we live in right now. I accept that. If I wasn’t prepared for some sexism and/or racism, I would not go see a summer blockbuster, just like I wouldn’t have gone to see Into Darkness if I had an overwhelming hatred for lens flare. I’ve made my peace with the fact that I can like something in spite of its flaws.  But this went kinda overboard on the sexism, and the worst part is that I don’t know that Abrams & Co. even cared enough to notice.
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