Prince Of Humbug

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The opening moment of The Greatest Showman is Hugh Jackman, as P.T. Barnum, in silhouette, standing, cane extended, top hat on, ankles crossed, poised to start dancing, and he sings in a husky whisper, “this is the moment you’ve been waiting for.”

I inhaled sharply. I have been waiting for this moment. For a very long time, it feels sometimes. I’m a superhero fan so to complain about Jackman’s career eschewing his song and dance roots so that he could play Wolverine for all those years always felt like choosing between air and water. I wanted, I needed both.

Les Mis came and went mostly unremarked upon. (A shame really, because Jackman is very good as Jean Valjean) and three more rounds as Logan (all quite good) kept him away for five more years. So as The Greatest Showman began it’s run up, I found myself singing “Hello Dolly” in my head everytime I saw something related to it.

I tell you all this so that you understand how much I wanted to love this movie. My heart was open, ready to fill in the space carved out nearly fourteen years ago when I watched the West End version of Oklahoma on PBS the first time. Barnum is a perfect persona for Jackman, all flash and twinkle with a dark side a mile long. Add in Zac Efron (also coming home) and Zendaya and Michelle Williams (who is incredible in this, but who is always incredible) and I was a perfect mark, the kind of sucker Barnum would have dreamed of walking by his museum.

This movie. *sigh*

This movie is fine.

It could have been great, and has flashes of greatness. The performances are strong. The songs are very good. The script is thin but satisfactory.

But the movie lacks style. The whole time I was sitting there thinking, “this movie needs Baz Luhrman and it needs him badly.” Hell, it probably even could have been stepped up with Bill Condon, who co-wrote the screenplay and did truly interesting work with Chicago and Dreamgirls. Instead aesthetically, it feels like Moulin Rouge‘s technicolor dream world of oddballs got lost and popped into Newsies and it never quite gels.

Jackman is phenomenal, and Williams is even better as Charity Barnum, and the movie hinges on them. Efron and Zendaya do well in their roles and their duet “Rewrite The Stars” is probably the best song in the movie, though “This Is Me” a full company song lead by Keala Settle as the Bearded Lady is the best number, and certainly the one with the strongest point of view and “The Other Side” a duet between Jackman and Efron is pure musical theater goodness, complete with soft shoe and Sondheim-esque talk singing.

I’ve very recently decided that while I appreciate the music of Pasek and Paul, I think that their work is not always for me. I loved the movie La La Land, but found the songs underwhelming, I hated the song they wrote for The Flash, I’m not in love with A Christmas Story and while I get the appeal of Dear Evan Hansen, I am no longer sixteen and so the music doesn’t do much for me. (And it winning Best Score over Natasha, Pierre And The Great Comet of 1812 or War Paint or Come From Away is criminal…) The Greatest Showman is a bit of an outlier there. These songs are very good if terminally poppy and a bit obsessed with dropping the beat.

Rankings:

  1. Wonder Woman
  2. The Big Sick
  3. Coco
  4. Star Wars: Episode VIII: The Last Jedi
  5. Battle Of The Sexes
  6. Dunkirk
  7. Spider-Man: Homecoming
  8. Guardians of The Galaxy: Volume 2
  9. The Greatest Showman
  10. Thor: Ragnarok
  11. Justice League
  12. King Arthur: Legend of The Sword
  13. The Dark Tower
  14. Cars 3
  15. Pirates of The Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales

Trailers

I’ve stopped commenting on trailers mostly because few grab me these days.

Peter Rabbit looks awful. It doesn’t even appear to have anything to do with Peter Rabbit at all. Whattabummer

Paddington 2 I didn’t see the first one, thought I heard it was surprisingly delightful and I’m sure this one will be quite good too, and features Hugh Grant, whom I completely adore.

Love, Simon: GAY YA MOVIE!!!!!!!!!!!!! WE SHOULD ALL SUPPORT THIS. Yes, it’s still a white cis upper middle class gay boy, and it’s a coming out story, (booo) but STILL!

Next week is going to be dedicated to wrap ups. Movie Season summaries. (And possibly a rearranging of rankings) a “what I learned in my Disney Year” post, and a plan for moving forward in 2018 (whether I stick to that plan or not WHO KNOWS…but it involves a lot of Marvel)

I’m still going to be going to the movies pretty regularly even though the season is over, and I may review an Oscar bait here and there, we’ll see.

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Coronation Day

It’s Annalise’s coronation! And Marina makes a decision…because of consent and boundaries.

The Marina Chronicle

Everything in the past month happened so quickly, that I nearly forgotten it was coronation day when I woke up. I was still up ages before Annalise, though I’ll never beat Athena, who wakes up before the sun every day.

She says it’s from growing up with the General, I think she’s just showing off.

“Oh, good,” she said as I entered the sitting room, she was dressed in her guard uniform and had her gown for the ball hung up. I love that gown. It’s green, for Dovetail, but it’s embroidered with Pantona’s crest, it’s officially acknowledging her and Aaron’s engagement. “You’re awake, you can help.”

“Sure,” I said, “with what? We laid Annalise’s clothes out last night, and she’s still asleep so she couldn’t possibly need anything.”

need your help,” she sighed. “Aaron mentioned you were,” she sighed, “he said you’d been working on something.” I…

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Renegades, World Building, And Other Thoughts

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This summer, when I read The Lunar Chronicles, I eventually fell head over heals with the complicated and fun sci fi fairytale world that Marissa Meyer created. (Also, when I learned she got her start with Sailor Moon fan fiction, a lot of her decisions suddenly made a lot more sense to me.) And, I give an immense amount of credit to both  The Lunar Chronicles and The Dark Tower and their games of genre mashup, which helped give me the confidence to finally dive in and work past my fear of making The Marina Chronicle what I wanted it to be and to share it with people. (HEY! READ THE MARINA CHRONICLE! Also check out my facebook, where there is now an album of likenesses I created of many of the characters!) (The genres I’m mashing up are old school WB style teen dramas and epic fantasy.) (It’s easier than you’d think.) (If you live in my head.)

But, when I finished Cinder I thought, “I liked this, and I think the world is cool, but it took a while for me to get into it.”

And here’s the thing, the exact same thing happened while I was reading Renegades: Book 1, the first book in Meyer’s new series about super heroes and villains.

I love the conceit. A world where people with powers come to prominence, live for years in a world of villain sponsored chaos and then a group of super heroes defeat the villains and establish something akin to an autocratic rule. In the middle you’ve got a generation of teens who remember the terror of their childhood, but aren’t sure about the new system either.

At it’s center is Nova, a girl raised by supervillains, who infiltrates The Renegades, and find her loyalties torn when she falls in love with the son of two of the most influential Renegades.

This book has everything I love. Seriously, super heroes, girl lead, teens with powers, star crossed romance, murky motivation, philosophical discussions about the nature of human beings and societal constructs.

But it took me forever to get into it. Like, I would read a chapter, think, “huh,” put it down and then not pick it back up again for a week.

Finally,  because I’m starting a new reading project for 2018 in January, I decided I was going to finish it last night.

And once I got to about the halfway point, I was hooked. I was invested in Nova and Adrian’s love story. I was invested in the murky decisions the Renegades were making. I was invested in the Anarchists (the villain gang that raised Nova) and their goals. I was invested in Nova and her torn loyalties.

But, here’s the thing, this story that has all these elements that I love should not take nearly one hundred pages to hook me, and as it’s now the second time this has happened with me and Meyer, I think it must be some disconnect between me and her way of kicking off stories.

But I like her stories, so I guess I’m going to keep reading. And in the end Renegades was very worth it.

Anyway, about that 2018 reading project? Like The Vonnegut project, (cut off early, and unfinished, because my depression was sort of kicking my ass, and I needed to lighten up my media intake for a bit) (this is also why I haven’t watched The Punisher yet and I’ve been rewatching Psych!) (Psych is awesome!) (And really good for depression watching.) (It’s so perky and life affirming!) it’s about making sure that I stretch my brain a little bit. I’m going to read an epic novel every months of 2018. I’m starting in January with War And Peace. (What, Natasha, Pierre And The Great Comet of 1812 has nothing to do with the decision…what a ridiculous thought.) I’ll also be tackling Dune, Middlemarch, David Copperfield, Infinite Jest & probably Ulysses.

That’ll push me up to June, and I’m sure others will come to me in that time, but I’m SUPER open to suggestions. I’m trying not to reread any epics I’ve already read. Though I’m overdue to try Les Mis again, and I’m curious what my new slightly woker self would think of Gone With The Wind and no visit to Middle Earth is wasted, it’s time to expand my view a little bit. ESPECIALLY looking for epic novels not written by white dudes. Or white people in general, as my those first six are REALLY white. (I’ve also already read The Color Purple.)

A Letter From The Future

Annalise gets a disappointing letter, and Aaron teasing Marina about liking a boy.

Also people pointing out class differentials to her. Like she doesn’t know. *Eyeroll*

The Marina Chronicle

I think this week, has been the most incredible of my whole life. I study and help Annalise during the days and at night, when he’s through his duties and mine, I find myself in different gardens with William.

Or in parlors, or well, in his room. His room is wonderful. It’s simple and clean and smells like him. And his smell, clean linen, mixed with grass and gunpowder. He holds me close and whispers my name and kisses me and his hands move over me and, it’s wonderful.

He uses his hands on me, well, in me and that’s even more wonderful. I use mine, and I think it’s clumsy, but he hasn’t complained. It’s amazing.

“I want you,” he whispered in my ear tonight as I nuzzled against his neck in a rose garden. “I’ve never wanted anyone,” he let out a soft moan, “gods Marina, stop!” I…

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Merry Dapper Day: Hotel Review and Favorites

OK, so, the trip went really well, so it’s time, obviously, to talk about staying at Pop Century, and my favorites from the trip.

So, we stayed at Pop Century and it was pretty great. We were in the 80’s section in one of the newly renovated rooms. (We requested it. I also requested a top floor room, this was a mistake that I felt bad about the whole trip.)

The resort is great, huge, and well laid out, with a great food court, and a good gift shop. The new rooms though, are the real reason to stay here. (besides price, the price really is great.)

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The rooms feature a queen bed, and a queen sized murphy bed that when it’s folded into the wall is a small table for two. This allows for extra space when you’re not sleeping and a table is a great way to make that space also functional. The rooms also feature linoleum floors instead of carpet which also allows the room to look sleek and modern.

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Also there’s cool pop art of Mickey and Pluto.

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Given the choice, I’d spend the little bit extra to stay at Riverside, just because having a proper lobby bar rather than just the food court is something that’s important to me. But I was a tag a long this trip, so I happily tagged along and really enjoyed Pop!

Favorites:

Ride:

Fligth Of Passage holds on to the top spot, it’s so special and beautiful and amazing and wonderful. Runner up goes to Dumbo, which after 30 years on this earth I have finally ridden and really is quite magical.

Show:

This was a tough call between The Very Merry Christmas Parade and Festival Of The Lion King, and I think I have to stick with the parade. It’s a beautiful tribute to the Christmas spirit and the costumes are absolutely divine.

Meal:

Tusker House takes the cake, not just because of the characters. I loved the food and atmosphere and service too. Le Cellier was great, really, and I’m glad to have done it, but in the future, if I’m going to spend that money, I’d rather go back to Jiko or California Grill, or try one of the signature restaurants at a resort that I haven’t tried yet. (I still have to do both Narcoosee & Citricois, plus Artist Point and Flying Fish and Yachtsman Steakhouse.)

Drink:

This one does go to Le Cellier, the Coudoulet de Beaucastel Grenache Blend I drank with that dinner was divine. I’ve even passed the label and name on to the wine shop that I go to, so that they can keep an eye out for it and let me know if they order it. I know just enough about wine to know what I like and what pairs well with different meats, and this fit the “good with steak,” and “I like this,” bills quite well.

Snack:

Pongu Lumpia for the win! Sweet, tangy and a cool texture, this was for sure my favorite thing I ate the whole trip.

Special Bonus: Holiday Favorite

It was really cool to see the parks all done up in their Christmas finery, but I have to say that my favorite park Holiday decorations were at Studios. They fit with the Hollywood motif perfectly, and really make it look like something different for, ahem, that time of year.

Let The Past Die

The Last Jedi

 

*SPOILERS FOR DAYS*

 

 

Star Wars: Episode VII: The Last Jedi is a strange movie. There’s no getting around that. It’s paced oddly. (Poorly in certain spots) It’s full of weird looking creatures and off center character beats, and more weirdo philosophy than the seven movies that preceded it combined.

It’s also Carrie Fisher’s best performance of the five that she’s in, a fitting goodbye to a legend that we all love, allows Mark Hamill to play the comedy that he’s excellent at, deepens both Kylo Ren and Rey, and executes a B-Plot with exactly 0 white guys. (Seriously, the B-Plot heist is centered around Poe, Finn, new character Rose, Leia, new character Vice Admiral Holdo, and a surprise appearance by Benicio Del Toro.)

I need to see the movie again before I really evaluate it. But I enjoyed it immensely, if only for it’s truly spectacular moments. (This is why I want to see it again. I felt similarly about Revenge Of The Sith, so I want to watch it a bit more calmly.) Rey and Kylo fighting off Snoke’s guards after Kylo assasinates him. The force connection between Rey and Kylo convincing each of them that the other can be turned. Luke’s final conversation with Yoda. (Who after 40+ years is finally fed up with the Skywalker boys and their shit) The Star Wars version of the battle of Helm’s Deep. (Just when you thought there was nothing left from Tolkien for this series to mine!) Holdo’s sacrifice. Leia using the force to survive in space. That final moment between Luke and Leia. Luke brushing his shoulder off after a barrage of bullets in the battle.

The plot is what it is. There’s a maguffin, there’s a confrontation, there is, truly the best saber battle we’ve seen yet. The performances are strong, the character beats mostly work. The themes discussed including legacy, corruption and hope are well explored. It’s way too long. There’s definitely fat that could be trimmed, but for the most part it’s worth it.

I’m sure I’ll have more to say. I’ve got plenty of family time to log this week, and talking Star Wars with my family is my favorite thing.

Rankings:

  1. Wonder Woman
  2. The Big Sick
  3. Coco
  4. Star Wars: Episode VIII: The Last Jedi
  5. Battle Of The Sexes
  6. Dunkirk
  7. Spider-Man: Homecoming
  8. Guardians of The Galaxy: Volume 2
  9. Thor: Ragnarok
  10. Justice League
  11. King Arthur: Legend of The Sword
  12. The Dark Tower
  13. Cars 3
  14. Pirates of The Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales

Like My Father Before Me

I think it’s just my slight contrarion nature that makes me dig my heels in about Empire. I get that it’s objectively from a filmmaking perspective the best movie. But it doesn’t move my heart the way Return of The Jedi does. (I realize that after tomorrow, we can no longer just call it Jedi…that’s kind of weird…)

Anyway, here’s some stuff we get:

  • Jabba The Hutt and his weirdly psycho sexual den of inequity. This also leads to Twi’lek slave girls, and of course, Leia in that damn bikini. (But also Leia the Hutt Slayer)
  • Han and Leia are an official couple! YAY!
  • Luke is a Jedi (almost) though Yoda and Obi-Wan’s ghost claim that he can’t be a real Jedi until he kills his dad. I mean, I love them and all, but that’s a real dick move. (Turns out that in order to be a real Jedi, all Luke has to actually do is stand up and declare it.)
  • Obi-Wan reveals that Luke has a sister. Luke thinks about it and notes that he only knows like one girl, so it’s probably her.
  • We meet the Emperor. So that’s pretty cool. He’s a huge asshole. He no longer controls everyone around him, but he still thinks he does.
  • Yoda dies. After the rebels win, Luke sees his ghost standing alongside Obi-Wan’s, and suddenly, Ooooh, his father, who appears as his sexy-pants, 20-something self. (This is controversial, a lot of people are made very angry by it. I think it’s sort of dumb, but eh.)
  • Vader straight up refers to Luke as “My son” the whole movie. This is because he is awakening to his true self.
  • Luke never attacks in that light saber fight. It’s not the Jedi way.
  • Everytime that I see Luke burn Vader’s body now, I think about how weird it is that Kylo Ren went to Endor and took the helmet all melty like so that he could mope in front of it begging for guidance to the dark side.

That’s it for the original triology! Tomorrow we’ll  talk about The Force Awakens, and then OMG YOU GUYS! The Last Jedi, comes out tomorrow! WHO’S EXCITED!