Links of Import

Monday, December 2, 2013

Guinevere (1994)




I've already watched a number of bad period films for this blog, and enjoyed them (for what they are.) Most of the movies I review aren't even that bad. They're either contrived and sickly-sweet, like Captured Women, Stolen Hearts, or 80s fodder, like a Hazard of Hearts. Sometimes both.

This movie, though, actually is mediocre. The acting, the plot, and the script, all leave me puzzled. It's a trinity of terriblness. But the actors are still working in the industry, so either they've improved their craft or they just had bad luck with this film. In any case, Guinevere shifts between being silly and being boring, and that makes for very snarky review.

Fridays nights with the fam
1) Morgan le Fay is a powerful sorceress of the old religion / the leader of a feminist cult, and she wants to use Guinevere and Lancelot to take over the country for the old belief system. She also runs a commune of a few dozen children who serve as her followers. Many are noble. For instance, Guinevere's dad is the king. No biggie.


Summary time:

The blood-letting ceremony begins. It's the moment of declaring life-long loyalty to the le Fay cause. Morgan mumbles something about loyalty, codependence, blah blah blah and slits Guinevere's wrist over an altar. The blood is in the bowl. This is it. There's no going back. Or is there? All of a sudden, Guinevere declares that she might not want to rule the country as a puppet Queen after all. Interesting time to have a revelation. Morgan is definitely not going to let Guinevere just walk out. What's a naive feminist to do? Certainly she can't gallop off on a stolen steed in broad daylight the next day. Or maybe yes. (To be discussed a little later.)

2) It's unclear exactly how Morgan le Fay became Guinevere and Lancelot's guardian and the benefits their parents thought they would gain from the experience. Apparently, Guinevere's father gave her away after her mother died (?), and Morgan le Fay saved Lancelot from drowning... ???

The impression I got was that Morgan le Fay runs a version of the Night's Watch where kids are sent when their parents don't know what to do with them. She trains them and builds them into legitimate citizens. Except that Morgan is actually trying to convert them all into little Morgan-le-Fay-Kingdom warriors. It's like you go to a tea party and after you drink your tea, the host is like "Hey, that was cool. Now, why don't we all just go flirty fishing for Satan?" And you're like "Wait, can I stop at the tea?" And she's like, no, no you can't, because the tea was just preparation, and now that you're here, you can't get out.
This, but without the awesomeness

3) A main plot point is that Guinevere has her first period in the beginning of the movie, thereby marking her entrance into DOOM, because Morgan can begin her evil plans now that Guinevere is a woman. But Sheryl Lee (Guinevere) is 27. Casting actors in their twenties isn't unusual for TV, but the problem here is that there isn't a hoard of other twenty-somethings to show that all teens look ten years older than in reality. All the other le Fay children are actually children. The only exceptions are Guinevere and and Lancelot (Noah Wyle, 23). The effect is that Sheryl Lee seems way too breathy and innocent throughout the first part of the film. It's hard to imagine that she's anywhere between fourteen and seventeen years old.

Guin washing the evidence from whatever they used for pads in Arthurian legend.
As usual, getting your period means that you've grown up enough for something dreadful and traumatizing to begin.
Thanks, Nature.
This character is supposed to be the imposing and powerful High Queen Guinevere, and I only ever saw Sheryl Lee acting. I partly blame the fake accents that the main characters put on.  I don't know what accent they were trying to do, but hard Ts and awkward sentence structure do not an English accent make.

The white figure with four legs is
actually one escapee and her idiot boyfriend

4) Lancelot bugs the hell out of me. He notices that Guinevere is escaping and pursues her on horseback. When he catches up, he promptly throws himself off his own horse and tackles her to the ground like a football player. Let's review all the options that would have been less potentially damaging:

A) Shout for her to stop
B) Ride parallel to her to get her attention
C) Gab her horse's reigns
D) Cut her off

Basically, anything would have been safer than what he did. Nice going. This totally makes me want to root for him as a wise and trustworthy character. BTW, he later pulls a knife on her. Sooo...
You can't see her father because he's hiding in the corner

6) Guinevere returns home and reunites with her father. Seconds later, the King of Gore steps out of the shadows and announces that he intends to marry her for her kingdom. He then gropes her thoroughly. Everywhere. A little inappropriate for the first meeting, I think. And her father doesn't protest at all. What the hell? He's on your turf, dude. Not only are you allowed to become enraged, but it's expected. At least be like, "Hey, look, dude, that's enough." But no, he turns away, and later assures Guinevere that she doesn't have to marry Gore. So, you're allowing groping and you can't even justify it with an impending marriage? What the what.

You could argue that her father's absence of a response shows her lack of worth, but that's just not the vibe you get. He seems to value her very much, so we can't make a wider judgment based off that.  He's just a little King, and Camelot (his kingdom) doesn't become powerful enough to warn other kings off groping its royalty until Arthur comes along.

If he were any less hot, the rolling would be objectionable
7) One of Arthur's frat brothers / knights gives a little speech when Arthur proposes to Guinevere. They are gathered around the King's deathbed so, as you can imagine, it's a romantic scene.

Guinevere: If you are not entitled to be king, you will rule here as my consort. And we shall be as equals, you and I.

Knight: I'm afraid not, my Lady. Not quite as equals. For you are Queen of Camelot, but this man, who will be rolling you between the sheets soon enough, is Arthur Pendragon, High King of Britian.

Wow. The girl was just orphaned and engaged in the last ten minutes. Give her a break. And imagine all the appropriate things he could've said. A ton of activities happen before the wedding night. Like arranging the wedding. And standing at the alter. And eating stuff. And signing contracts. But no, he doesn't reference any of that. It's all about the rolling and the sheets.

8) The fem-fight is annoying

Arthur: Maybe you should be heading home. All the other women have.
Guinevere: I won't go home before you.
Arthur: And when the prince is born, will you nurse him amidst the clang of battle?
Guinevere: The princess, I hope, will be weaned on peace.

Good job fighting over facts, guys. Someone get these people a time machine and an ultrasound. And the same in-your-face feminism continues throughout the movie. It's not delicate or well-done, but it is fun to see an extreme version of my own feminism filtered through a 90s TV movie.

---

Luckily, I am one of those people who enjoys commenting to myself and growling at screens, because that was my experience with this film. I'm pretty much a B-movie fan for solely the reason of interacting with my entertainment. If you are similar to me, I would give this a look and then switch it off if it doesn't go far enough to be fun. Or maybe you'll even like it genuinely. It's possible. Like unicorns. 
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Sunday, October 6, 2013

Lifetime Movie: Stolen Women, Captured Hearts (1997)


Lifetime's Stolen Woman, Captured Hearts



I just want to preface this: Yes. This is one of those 'Hot savage' movies.
            More complex movies can circumvent the wild romanticism of Native American history, but this is not a super complex movie, and I don't hold it to those standards. Sometimes, a girl just wants to get away from her fat white husband and meet a lean and mean Native American with a luscious mane of hair (said every romance novel ever.) ---> See the end of this post for some awesome romance novel covers.
            I remember studying a Victorian poem in which the writer describes his ideal spot: a hut in the the balmy islands of the New World, where he'd have a "dusky" wife and children. This movie reminds me of that poem, but for Christian American housewives who just want a hot Indian to take them away. I say Christian because the film team inserted the Bible into the film (a lot) and made it significant for the heroine, so I get to comment on it.

Holding a bible over your heart is actually a very useful way to stop a bullet in most films, so good job
            Very, very brief summary: It is 1868, a woman in a Midwestern town marries a man she doesn't know very well and is then kidnapped by Native Americans. One falls in love with her and she resists his really, really obvious advances (For a while) because she is married.
            I will stop there (spoilers!)
            Michael Greyeyes IS pretty hot (also Canadian, for an unrelated fact share.) I really want to know where that surname started in his family line. At what point did that name go from whatever language it started in to Greyeyes? 

Now, for my top five favorite parts!

1) Hitting on the redhead




Tokalah leans back to lounge on some furs and rubs the space next to him. "Anna," he says, smoldering.
            But what he really means is, "I would totally like to sex you up, but my English is limited and I've decided to just sum it up with some bedroom eyes and your name. What do you say?"
            She says no. She's married.
            And I would also say no too, but because I would not want to A) sleep with someone who kidnapped me, B) sleep with someone who I've known for only a few days, and C) end up pregnant. Then again, no one ends up pregnant in romance novels or movies unless it suits the plot.
            Give her a few days, dude! Wow.

2) Learning English

I am 5 years old and I will teach you all I know about English.
First lesson: The white man sucks major ass to everyone but white men
Imagine deciding to learn English for a girl and then speaking to her in that language the day you start learning it. Tokalash does pretty well considering the time limit. True, he drops some of those connecting words, but still - well done!

One of his first full sentences is "The white man is a son of a bitch," but they're not on friendly terms (him and the white man.) Learning English, like a sir. 

3) Slap-Slap-Kiss

Prime example of Slap-Slap-Kiss


I don't know exactly what she's saying here, but based on the Spanish subtitles, it's something along the lines of "You're a stupid, arrogant asshat."

Watchu say, woman?

This is him eating her face, a traditional Native American custom in the territory of Hallmark.

4) Every time the Sarah complains and is NOT killed

Sarah White, known as the Great Complainer of the Wild West
The Native Americans capture this girl along with Anna and she just begs to be killed throughout the movie. She has a word to say about everything, which is not a great method to surviving. And she tries to get Anna killed too. When the tribe leader tells your friend to make a cap or a tie out of some scalps, just sit back and be grateful it's not you. Don't advise her against it. 

"Don't touch that! It could be dirty!"

5) Smolder / Stare

Listen, don't underestimate the power to smolder. When I do it, I look like I'm about to attack you in a park. Tokalach actually achieves a wide range of brooding looks, which I enjoyed thoroughly.


Lasting impressions: Not a great movie, but I liked it anyway. The cheesier, the better. Besides, as far as bad movies go, I've seen worse acting. I love you, Tokalach. You and your inexplicably shaved chest.

---

<3 <3 <3 Romance Novels: The Half-Naked Native American <3 <3 <3

A short time into my hunt for Native American themed romance novels (because romance covers are always fun), I just went wild on the word savage in Google Images. Savage Heart, Savage Soul, Wild Savage, etc. Talk about the psychology of the Other. Also interesting, as far as unhealthy body expectations for men go, romance novels have it down pat. It pretty much seems like the authors used the same model for all these covers.  Note that none of them look at all Native American. Maybe a really good looking white couple joined a tribe and had many, many brunette children who they named Hawk, Eagle, and Wolf. 


So much muscle, so little hair. Native Americans must work out and shave a lot.


And if you enjoy this, I'd check out this page. Also, this one.




























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Sunday, August 19, 2012

#whatshouldwecallcollege


Time perception during the summer:


Time perception during the school year:


First GIF via http://www.tumblr.com/tagged/dean-winchester-gif?before=1343754393

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Saturday, August 18, 2012

#whatshouldwecallpeoplewatching


When I people-watch on my way to work every morning...


I think it's like:


They think it's like:


It's actually like:


Persuasion (1995)





This is one of my favorite Jane Austen novel adaptations.

It's one of the few movies that doesn't have Hollywood Syndrome, where beautiful people are cast to play the plain and average-looking characters. One of the victims of this Beast to Beauty transformation (and a big one) is Jane Eyre's Rochester.

Take the latest adaption for example. Even if you don't think Michael Fassbender is hot, you have to face the fact that most other people do. The actors who portray Rochester in Jane Eyre adaptions are often just roughed by the makeup department to crank up the Byronic aspect, and that only serves to make them hotter. 

ANYWAY, this tangent has a point. Austen did not write Persuasion's Anne and Captain Wentworth to be striking, and the actors are properly average looking. Ciarán Hinds brings great charisma to Cap'n Wentworth, and you come to think of him as attractive due to that (and his lovely eyes!) He also happens to have played Rochester in the 1997 adaption (And I thereby justify the above Jane Eyre rant.)

This was a quality adaption, with a great cast. Just be aware that it's been a while since I've read the book, and I've forgotten most of it, so physical appearance is where I end the comparisons.

Anne Elliot
Although Anne Elliot (Amanda Root) was excellent, I just LOVED the supporting cast members.

A) The Family

Walter Elliot enjoying Mrs. Clay's flattery
Corin Redgrave as Sir Walter Elliot, Anne's father, was excellent as the peacock of the family, and Phoebe Nicholls as Elizabeth Elliot played the shrill, self-satisfied daughter to perfection.  I really enjoyed the family and the details that fleshed them out. Walter Elliot's love for flattery, for instance. Its power almost attaches him, (as the Victorians would say) to Elizabeth's simpering friend, the widow Mrs. Clay (Felicity Dean.) 

Elizabeth Elliot was stick thin despite constantly appearing on screen with a box of chocolates. If I have any complaints, one is that I would have liked the actress to be a little chubby to reflect her rich diet and lazy lifetyle. Otherwise, I just distracted myself with theories.

Elizabeth (left) and Mrs. Clay (right)
As for Sir Walter Elliot and Elizabeth Elliot as a duo, they showed constant disrespect and disregard towards Anne, and raised the mindless Mrs. Clay far above her. Poor Anne had quite the family to deal with. Two of them were social climbing, class-worshipping jerks, and the other (Anne's married sister, Mary Musgrove, played by Sophie Thompson) was a hypochondriac. A loud, complaining hypochondriac.

B) More about the Elliots, the quarters

I wasn't a big fan of Anne's coral jewelry, but the costumes were good overall, and I loved those white-on-white rooms that the Elliots rent in Bath. They were so overdone and superficially grand, which is a great setting to represent the Elliots and their ambition.

C) The super small roles



I also enjoyed Mrs. Smith (Helen Schlesinger) and her maid / companion / helper. They play small parts, but I enjoyed them nonetheless. I'd totally take tea with them. They're among the few characters who give Anne the appreciation she deserves. Yes, the maid kind of looks like she should be running a brothel, but I'll take that over Elizabeth's upturned nose.



D) The Weasel
William Elliot

Lastly, I'm not going to deal out any spoilers, but there is a reason that Anne's cousin, William Elliot, (Samuel West) looks faintly like a weasel.





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Sunday, August 12, 2012

Fabulous Feature: Elizabethan Costume


Mrs Bertin's Jewelry Box: Dress of the Day: Elizabethan Costume: An Elizabethan-inspired dress with gold embroidery and a hint of the fantastical, featured for your viewing pleasure! This is an appropriate reblog for us as a site that features not-quite-historically-correct pieces of art (AKA movies featuring Gerard Butler and set in Spartan times where everyone is naked and Native Americans with shaved chests) that are nevertheless quite beautiful



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