The Precious Snowflake Guide to Crimson Peak

Allerdale Hall
Allerdale Hall, nightmare of building code inspectors worldwide.

Tom Hiddleston likes to make my life difficult, it seems. I mean, I’m not a huge fan of horror movies, but here he goes, making a horror movie directed by Guillermo del Toro. It’s like he wants me to have nightmares, because obviously I have to see it. If you’re in the same boat, but also hate horror movies, read on. Maybe knowing what’s coming will make the experience more fun?

But in all seriousness, CRIMSON PEAK is not that scary. It’s a stunningly beautiful film, full of delightfully gothic-gory details (the walls are bleeding, but it’s ok, it’s just clay… right?), and really comes alive in the IMAX version I saw (seriously, go see it in IMAX). And Thomas Sharpe is the kind of character Hiddleston excels at: a Victorian Loki, charming and seemingly sweet, with dark secrets and an essentially good heart. Totally worth the scary movie.

In a mostly spoiler-free summary, the horror is basic: things go quiet before a loud scary noise, so it’s easy to tell when you’re about to flinch. If you’re me, you still flinch, because loud scary noise, but the sound design prepares you for most of the jumpy moments. And most of the truly gory moments are brief, and don’t dwell on the gore. Overall, it’s less gory that, say, UNDERWORLD, and with a much better plot.

SPOILERS AHEAD Continue reading

The Martian

themartianThe Martian is fine. It’s fine. Just fine. It’s not the movie’s fault that I am quite hardened and like a darker, grittier, more unpleasant movie-going experience. But, as I have said to many people already on this topic, it is good to see movies I can recommend to normal people.

Mark Watney (Matt Damon) is… The Martian. He is an astronaut and through no real fault of the rest of the crew on his spaceship, he gets left behind on Mars (presumed dead). Turns out, he’s not dead! And you don’t get to Mars without being quite smart and more than a little resourceful, so he starts to figure out how to sustain his own life until someone can come back and get him (to repeat a joke from the interwebs, between Saving Private Ryan, Interstellar, and The Martian, we sure have spent a heck of a lot of money and effort rescuing Matt Damon). Continue reading


sicarioSicario sure is a deeply unpleasant film. In my page of notes, if I had 25 items, approximately six of them are just versions on “This is unpleasant” and “an intense sense of dread.”

So, good job? The movie is about Mexican drug cartels and Emily Blunt (kind of), and it is a piece of work. There’s not a particularly strong narrative throughline (or, what’s there isn’t really elaborated, and we’re kept as in the dark as Kate (Emily Blunt’s character) is), but it’s got a lot of violence, with some particular flourishes of explicit torture, and a whole whack of Disturbing Imagery. So when I first left the theater, I was kind of lost and disturbed, because it felt like all of this nastiness didn’t add up to much.

Then I talked it over with my movie-going buddy and it became obvious that that was the point. Spoiler alert: Mexican drug cartels are bad. Also, we’re not always the good guys, or if we are, we’re not always doing good things to get the information we need. Basically, the whole thing is a mess. And so the movie is like hey, this is a mess. Look at all the sadness and the extreme, oppressive violence. And so you’re like k thanks movie! I… feel much sadder now and vaguely queasy. I agree that this is very bad, and I see it much more graphically now. So… uh… thanks? Question mark? More question marks? Continue reading

The 67th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards

emmys_2015_ad_f3_simp_hires2Almost a week later and I’m finally ready to talk about the Emmys. As much as I often roll my eyes at the Emmys, this year’s were pretty good. Most of the awards actually made sense and Andy Samberg seemed to really understand what was needed of him as a host. He was an excellent balance of being entertaining while also keeping the show moving along.

Part of the reason the show seemed to move along so quickly is that a large number of categories are announced at the Creative Arts Emmys eight days before the live ceremony. Notable wins there were guest actor and actress in a comedy, Bradley Whitford (Transparent) and Joan Cusack (Shameless), guest actor and actress in a drama, Reg E. Cathey (House of Cards) and Margo Martindale (The Americans), and Bessie for Outstanding Television Movie. Inside Amy Schumer won outstanding original music and lyrics for “Girl You Don’t Need No Makeup”, Jane Lynch won Outstanding Reality Host for Hollywood Game Night, and Late Night for John Oliver won for Best Interactive Programming. I hope that Oliver and company have a better chance at the bigger awards next year now that the voters are going to start finding shows that aren’t The Daily Show with Jon Stewart to give them to.
Continue reading

Jurassic World

raptorsI saw Jurassic World this weekend. Spoiler alert: I wasn’t a fan.

Obvious spoiler warning is obvious.

Don’t get me wrong: I’m not going to tell you how the science is wrong, or how the raptors should have had feathers. There’s plenty of paleontologists who can do that much better, and really, that wasn’t my biggest issue with the movie.

My biggest issue was that it was boring, uncreative, and in some parts blatantly offensive. Let me explain: Continue reading


tomorrowlandTomorrowland: not as saccharine as it could have been! Feel free to use that on the DVD cover, Tomorrowland marketers.

I knew nothing about the plot of the movie going in, but I knew from a podcast that was largely making fun of it that there was going to be a lot of earnestness and “Dreaming can solve everything!” So mostly I was waiting for it to be too sappy, or put too much faith in, well, faith and hope. But it wasn’t!

I mean, that’s not to say that it’s not still very PG, in a way that probably all PG movies feel like and I’m just not used to it because I don’t see very many of them. The premise of the movie is kind of “We can save the world by having good ideas and being really inventive!” Which, I suppose, is true, but it’s a very varnished kind of representation of that. But I’d still rather have Disney showing people of legitimately varied backgrounds–men, women, all colors, and all ages–contributing meaningfully to The Future than, well, not that. Continue reading

Prometheus: The Truth

p8815605_p_v8_abPer the terms of the bet, I had to write at least 300 words of a positive review of Prometheus. And I did! At least, I listed 300 words worth’ of positive things about it, which is close enough. Per the terms of that same bet, it had to be in its own post, and I could not just write three hundred isolated words about it being good and spend the rest of the time listing all the ways that it’s bad. But I can do that in a separate post! So here we are!

This post is going to suffer from the same problems as the other one, in that I haven’t magically seen the movie again in the 45ish minutes since writing the first one. Sorry-not-sorry.

So, as I said in the other post, this will be full of spoilers because it’s a terrible movie and you shouldn’t see it anyway. Continue reading