I've got one less essay to worry about now, but there are still other things going on. I had my first exam this week, and it was stressful to prepare for but it's done, so I've got one less to worry about. That just leaves one more plus a take-home exam. In other words, I'm more or less done, and I'll be completely finished in a matter of weeks. My classes are over now so it's just finishing everything up. It's been a bit stressful for sure but having one out of the way is good at the same time.
On the bright side, I finally got one of my stories published. A short story I wrote titled Hello Earth: A Lunar Odyssey was published in an online magazine dedicated to publishing the work of people registered with accessibility services at the university (which I am, though there may be people with far worse conditions than I have). Now I'd love to just post a link right here and let the whole world see my creative work, but at the present moment I can't do that. It's nothing personal. There were other people who contributed to this publication and right now it's going to be too much of a hassle to check with everyone involved to make sure it's okay for me to publicly share their work (which I would technically be doing). However, if I can get the approval of my publishers, I might be able to privately send the link to a few of my blogging friends. If you'd like to read it, you can leave your e-mail address below and I'll send it out if I get the go-ahead.
The story itself is pretty simple, it's a science fiction piece about an astronaut who is the lone survivor when her ship crashes on the moon. The rest of the story is about her experiences being the first woman on the moon and her wandering its surface unsure if she will be rescued in time. It's a bit depressing, I know, though I've written some far more bizarre pieces (I've also got a science fiction story about an astronaut who develops maternal feelings toward her probes). Funnily enough, this one started as a simple writing exercise and was inspired by a Kate Bush song ("Hello Earth", hence the title) but ended up growing into something bigger. It's funny how some stories come about, isn't it.
Now that my classes are done, my schedule is a bit out of sync. I haven't actually done a lot of movie-watching this week. Most of what I have been finding myself doing is re-watching action movies I happened to have in my collection: Die Hard, Air Force One, The Heat, Basic, and Battle: Los Angeles. Basic is actually quite an underrated film in my opinion. Aside from being very well done in terms of action and suspense, it has a pretty good array of strong female characters, and it's nice to see a film make an effort to create a positive image of women in the military. Connie Nelson is great but the real gem is the presence of Nunez as a female Army Ranger treated almost literally as just one of the guys. They even avoid falling into the obvious pitfall of oversexualizing her (if anything, several of the men wear far less than she ever does), instead keeping her in practical combat gear and even having her spend most of her screen time under warpaint.
To me, this touch is especially impressive since I've been told that the U.S. Army didn't even allow women to enlist as Rangers at the time Basic was made, though from what I understand they have since started to opened up the ranks. I think they've opened up the Marines as well to women. Now if they would just get around to integrating the Navy SEALS they would be more on par with the Canadian army. Speaking of military branches, did you know Canada has an equivalent to the Navy SEALS? Yeah, me neither. Apparently that function is served by an organization called Joint Task Force 2, which isn't as sophisticated as the SEALS but apparently has proven to be quite effective.
The one new film I have managed to see is Kathryn Bigelow's Strange Days. It was certainly an... interesting experience. There was something intriguing and compelling about it but I'm not entirely sure I fully understood it all. Something about a new form of technology that could literally record events through people's eyes and then allow other people to experience it and then Tom Sizemore had some plan to frame Ralph Fiennes for a bunch of murders and there were some dirty cops involved or something. It was also a bit jarring since the world depicted looked absolutely nothing like 1999 (it's a bit like how Escape From New York claims to be set in 1997). One lesson I've learned as a writer, and the first piece of advice I give to anyone interested in writing science fiction: if your work is set in the future, never, under any circumstances, put a year on it. All it does is give people reason to point and laugh at you when your audience gets to that year and whatever is described in your story hasn't happened.
On the other hand, Angela Bassett was a pretty good character. She was a pretty good early example of how Kathryn Bigelow is capable of handling strong female characters when she wants to (though you do also have James Cameron, who wrote the script, to thank for that). She is tough, competent, and has some interesting characteristics. I'd still say The Hurt Locker is Bigelow's best film and the one where her career really started to take shape, but I'd be open to seeing more of her early work if the opportunity presents itself.
Speaking of Kathryn Bigelow, I've recently found myself in a position to try and take advantage of my large amount of free time and obtaining a gift card to a really great used video and record store but can't quite decide how to use it. There's a few movies I've found myself interested in obtaining but can't seem to find. Among them is Bigelow's Blue Steel, which I have found myself craving to see for some time but can't seem to get anywhere. I don't even know if it's any good (the IMDB reviews seemed to be mixed) but it does look like it has a positive image of a female cop so I guess that's a good thing. I've also received recommendations to see the movie F/X which also remains elusive in every form imaginable.
That's not even getting into my seemingly endless quest to seek out "Die Hard on an X" films, which has not been so successful lately. I've seen just about every one that is available on Netflix or On Demand, but there's some that I wish would just show up in one form or another. I've found myself wanting to see Under Siege for some time, among other things. The only trouble is it won't appear on Netflix or On Demand so the only option as far as seeing it goes (barring illegal torrents that, now with the loss of Pirate Bay, runs the risk of putting viruses on my computer) is obtaining it on DVD. The same happened with Passenger 57 and Executive Decision. I'm scared to do that because I'm not sure if it's going to be any good. On the other hand, I keep telling myself that I won't know until I see it, and that even the bad "Die Hard on an X" films I can learn from (if only how not to write one of these movies) but it doesn't help much.
As for the usual material, I haven't had much time for Banshee or Hannibal. However, from what little time I did get to watch Banshee there was the rather shocking development that they killed Nola, one of my favorite characters. She literally had her throat ripped out and it was nasty, and she hardly went down without a fight (if anything, she was the first person in the entire cast to come anywhere near killing the person who did this). It was really painful to watch. That's the real trouble with violent shows like this. It's not that it influences you to commit acts of violence, it's that you get so attached to the characters that when they are killed off it becomes very hard to deal with. That does pop up in The Walking Dead from time to time as well, and it's not easy to handle.
Meanwhile, in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. we've finally started to get some answers about what Bobbi and Mac are up to. It seems there is another S.H.I.E.L.D. organization that doesn't like the way Coulson is running things. We got to see Lucy Lawless come back for a few flashbacks which was nice (when they said they were bringing Xena onto the show I didn't want them to kill her off in her first episode). On the other hand, I have found myself wondering if there's something they're not telling us about Bobbi's role in all this. I'm half-expecting that either she is going to question her allegiances to this other S.H.I.E.L.D. or it will turn out she's secretly working undercover for Coulson like what happened with HYDRA. Considering Hunter is now on the opposing side and they were starting to reconnect I've got a feeling that's going to go somewhere interesting. Meanwhile, Ward and Agent 33 seem to be doing their own thing. I get the sense that neither one of them is working with HYDRA anymore, but they're not exactly good guys either. If anything, their allegiance is probably chaotic neutral at best, and they're just out for themselves at this point trying to figure out what to do.
I did receive one bit of upsetting news this week. It seems that there is talk of David Lynch leaving the planned Twin Peaks revival. From what has been said, it sounds as though its a budget issue. Lynch wants a certain budget for his vision and the studio is reluctant to offer it. I hope they work it all out and Lynch is able to come back. Laura Palmer promised that we'd see her again in 25 years and if it doesn't that whole article I did speculating on where the revival could go will have been for nothing. I guess if Lynch doesn't end up directing the revival, they might be able to get someone else, but would it be the same at all? Mark Frost might be able to do something worthwhile with it. Jonathan Glazer did seem to show a certain respect for Lynch in Under the Skin, perhaps he's the guy we should call for the revival if Lynch won't do it.
Common Lynch. Please don't make Laura Palmer a liar!
Of course, that might be too optimistic. Even if they did manage to get someone as obviously respectful of Lynch's vision as Glazer I'm not sure it would be quite the same. Even if they could get Kubrick to take it on I'm not sure that would be quite the same. Nobody can capture Lynch's vision quite like Lynch. There's a reason I continue to point out how much I love his work while showing the nerve to write an article criticizing the very people who inspired him literally titled Art Cinema is Garbage. Yes, I mean the entire art cinema movement and everyone who participated in it. They were no better than the "confining" Hollywood structure they attempted to avoid.
I've also had some ideas for blogathons to run in the summer, though if I'm going to do any of these they probably won't happen until June at the earliest. For a while I was wondering about revisiting The Gay on Film Blogathon. The idea behind that one was simple, it was all about identifying strong gay couples in film, but the last time I ran it I only got one entry besides my own. Maybe during the summer more people will be able to take part, and it will be a bit more fitting since that is when the Gay Pride Parades often happen. Would anyone be interested in seeing it come back?
I did also have this one idea for a blogathon that would fit into my tradition of feminist blogathons. My concept was that it would center around identifying iconic male-dominated or all-male films that could have benefited from greater gender diversity. Essentially, the way it would work is that participants would select a film that features a predominantly if not exclusively male cast and make a case for why it did not have to be that way and how the film could have worked with a strong female lead without changing much. It would of course disregard films that actually had a reason for making those choices, the most likely being the cultural context of either the time it was made or its setting.
The idea would be to draw attention to the large number of predominantly male films that don't need to be that way, in order to encourage more filmmakers to offer better representations of women. I thought it could be a neat exercise, and it might open the eyes of a few readers. It's a neat idea in theory, and I think it could be a very good exercise, but on the other hand my feminist urges seem to have gotten in the way of a lot of things lately. Even when there is a perfectly rational and non-sexist reason for a film to have a predominantly or all-male cast I often seem to find myself irrationally bothered by the lack of female characters.
It seems I can't enjoy anything now unless it has a strong female lead. I don't know, what do you think? Would you be interested in an activity like this or do you think this is just me being oddly paranoid? It makes it all the weirder that nearly all the films I keep consistently citing has my favorite movies (i.e. 2001: A Space Odyssey, Zulu, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, The Hurt Locker) are films with all-male or predominantly casts. My brain is confusing. It doesn't seem to want to make any sense.
Stuff From Other Bloggers
- Roderick Heath and a few other bloggers are hosting The Film Preservation Blogathon, which they hope will raise money for film preservation. Basically the idea, if I'm understanding it right, is that you write about a science fiction film and then include a donate button so that readers can contribute money to the film preservation group they're trying to sponsor.