Saturday, June 23, 2012

In Which I Review Brave

I'm not going to lie to you all: I'm a bit of a Pixar fangirl. Two of the first movies I can ever recall seeing in theaters are Finding Nemo and Monsters Inc. I shed tears in public when I watched Toy Story 3, and Up. I also aspire to have a house with lots of balloons attached to the roof whether it flies or not, because that's just cool.

However, I didn't know what to expect sitting in the theater waiting for Brave. There's something that's surprisingly different about it. I was a little disappointed with it, but it's still miles above some of the other junk in  theaters right now (sorry Avengers, I don't mean you, I love you, you're awesome, let's have dinner).

So I've split up my review into things I liked and disliked because if I don't, this post will probably dissolve into me talking more about other movies than anything else.

Things I Liked

-Pixar's first female protagonist is a welcome addition to their repertoire. She's a bit bratty in the beginning, and therefore a little annoying, but Merida has great character development. Also, awesome hair.

-I found the mother/daughter relationship in the movie really refreshing. To see something like that in a wide release film is more amazing than people give it credit for. Often in movies we see more of an emphasis on love interest where the mother figure gets tossed aside, or more often than not, the mom is a total butt trumpet. To center the movie around Merida's relationship with her mom was, well, brave.

-Brave parodies quiet a few little things here and there, well-known Celtic influenced movies like Braveheart and How To Train Your Dragon (I know, big difference between those two, but whatever). And as usual from Pixar, there are a few jokes that will go over kid's heads, but my mom and I were rolling on the floor laughing.

Things I Disliked

-Despite the label of unconventional princess, I still wish there was a little more unconventionality (is that even a word?) to Merida. I feel really hypocritical for saying that, because compared to Cinderella or Snow White, Merida looks like a total rebel. Don't get me wrong, I love the classic Disney princesses, but there is no denying that a lot of their actions were a fry cry from standing up for themselves or breaking rules. And yet, Merida still feels predictable and conventional in the non-conventional way.

-The middle section of the movie is a little slow. But maybe that's just me.

- Pixar is famed for putting the "family" back in "family movie". This one just felt directly aimed at nine and ten year old girls. Maybe it's just because I'm older now, but Brave feels firmly stuck in it's kid-ness.

I still really enjoyed the movie, but this one fell flat in a few places. Don't go in looking for Up or Toy Story, but it's still a fun little film.


Friday, June 15, 2012

The Fall of Grace Potter and the Nocturnals

About two years ago, I was watching a stupid VH1 music special. I don't really know why. I kind of hate VH1 music specials, but I end up finding bands I really like when I watch them. Anyway, this particular one featured a favorite band of mine, Heart, playing with a band I'd never heard of called Grace Potter and the Nocturnals. After wading through Katy Perry and Kerri Hilson, the band took the stage. I was pretty impressed, they had a hard rock edge, and excellent vocals by Ms. Potter.
I ended up buying their latest album at the time, self titled, and full of cool bluesy jam band like songs. It was pretty good.
Then I bought the previous one, This Is Somewhere, which easily beat out the former for their best album.

Fast forward, to now. Grace Potter and Co. have just released their newest album The Lion, The Beast, The Beat. I'm thoroughly disappointed.

I listened to most of the album on Spotify this morning, and my only thought the entire time is "What just happened?"

The Lion The Beqst The Beat suffers from what I've titled The Lana Del Rey Dilemma. Every song has the same content, speed, sound, and style. But also like Del Rey's debut, Born To Die, there are a few good moments.

Whereas This Is Somewhere was alive and kicking and raw, and their self titled a little more polished, TLTBTB seems like the Nocturnals lost steam and fell asleep. It's one un-inspired moment after another. There is no kick or punchline or anything to keep you from mindlessly bobbing your head and waiting for something good.

On a slightly different note, it's exceptionally sad that the worst song of the bunch "Never Go Back" has been chosen as the lead first single. I've heard it on The Spectrum  a few times, and it sounds like a  song that a P!nk knock off record, or the ever failing Madonna. I can barely stand it.

It's a shame to see a band like this go in for the mainstream kill. I'm sure their success will be massive after this album. And I'm not saying that's a bad thing. Maybe the band wanted to move in this direction, but I personally will not be listening after this disaster.


Monday, June 4, 2012

In Which I Make Tea Blends

I'm not usually one for self promotion, but I started making tea blends, and I'm quite proud of some of the ideas I've had, so this is a master post of all sixteen teas I've made thus far. No witty reviews today :) But I'd be super grateful if you looked through these.

Oh, and I'm leaving the code for 5$ off at the bottom of the post. It's good for your first order.  Click on the links to be whisked off to the tea's page. All the ingredients are listed there too.

1. Fandom Recovery
This is what I'd like to be drinking when I'm just too overcome with feels.

2. A Midsummer Night's Dream

A light herbal blend based off the Shakespeare play of the same name.

3. Between Two Lungs
Inspired for Florence + The Machine's debut album. Very fruity.

4. Captain Jack Sparrow
Why not? I consider this one to be one of my best.

5.Corpse Bride
A slightly romantic blend. This uses Adagio's Earl Grey Lavender blend, so it has a bit of calming effect as well.

6. Halloween At Hogwarts
I've always loved how J.K. Rowling describes autumn at Hogwarts, and how the Halloween passages always have some  significance. So here's one for that. Basically a good pumpkin spice tea with a bit of chocolate.

7. Hex Hall
This is named after one of my favorite YA book series. Very southern and sweet.

8. Luna Lovegood
An odd but tasty blend for the incomparably awesome Luna Lovegood.

9. Mr. Pond
I figured if Rory from Doctor Who keeps dying, he ought to have a tea in his memory. Strong and a bit fruity.

10. Not Your Housekeeper
Something for Ms. Hudson. Good for the afternoon tea fix.

11 River Song.
A dessert tea. This one was co-engineered by my little sister. Her favorite Doctor Who character is River Song.

12.  Shakespeare
My personal favorite tea blend. I actually have tasted this one and it is ridiculously good.

13. The Consulting Criminal
Jim Moriarty is one of my favorite Holmes characters, so therefore, this. It's got just a hint of citrus in with the Irish Breakfast and hazelnut.

14. The Consulting Detective
What better to go with the Consulting Criminal? An excellent spiced chai blend.

15. The Graveyard Book

Based on the fantastic Neil Gaiman novel, The Graveyard Book. A very autumn-y tea. I'd been dying to use Spiced Apple Chai, and this was the perfect oppurtunity.

16. The Raven
An Edgar Allen Poe type deal. Very dark.

Making these has been really fun for me, and Adagio has tons of other amazing blend makers.

As promised, here's five bucks off a purchase if you decide to buy any. It's only good for 24 hours after this is posted. Here's the code: 7085495612. 


Friday, June 1, 2012

Hollywood and the Curse of Fairy Tale Remakes

I've been keeping a wary eye on the recent wave of fairy tale retellings and imaginings. This year alone we have had Mirror Mirror and Snow White and the Huntsman, the latter opening today. Last year we had Beastly and Red Riding Hood. Most of them have been written off as abysmal. I have not, in fact, seen any of these films, but some anonymous Tumblr user asked me what I thought of fairy tale remakes, so I figured it was worth a shot.

Honestly, none of the recent makes have looked particularly appealing. If I was forced to see any of them, it would be probably be Snow White and the Huntsman, based on a few aspects, like Chris Hemsworth, Charlize Thereon, and Florence + The Machine on the soundtrack. It looks visually interesting, and I'm up for that. What I think to be the greatest problem with Snow White is that it has an epic miscast in the form of Kristen Stewart as Snow White. We are supposedly lead to believe that Kristen Stewart is the very picture of life and Charlize Thereon is the very picture of death. Backwards thinking.

Anyway, most of these films, aimed at the Twlight-ed, teenaged set, feature doe-eyed "empowered" women, sexy men for whom they fall for, and some variation of an evil witch/queen. They're apparently full of angst and vague symbolism. What I don't understand is this: Why are they so popular? We've literally seen this at least five times before. I mean, look at all the Alice in Wonderland imaginings? Tim Burton's was easily the best of the re-making batch, thanks to a kind of spunk present in almost all of Burton's films, but Alice has been overworked in particular.

And in the years to come we're going to see more double re-tellings, with at least two Little Mermaids, Peter Pans, Sleeping Beauties, and maybe even more Alice coming soon.

I'm simply asking this question to you: Why are they so popular? Is it sexy men? Is it the Twilight factor?

Oh, the Twilight factor. Here's the theory: Twilight's central heroine main person type thing, Bella Swann, is such a cardboard character, that girls of any age can insert their own personality traits or interests into the character and live vicariously through her fictional escapades.

Therein I think lies the appeal of these types of films. The fairy tale themes are just a very marketable way of wrapping up the Twilight factor.

I love fairy tales as much as the next teenage blogger, but these angst-y remakes need to stop before I A) finally give in and see  them or B) I go insane.