Former Movie Theaters
This is why I buy lots of movie concession stand food and patronize local theaters. This “Surf Mall” in Ocean City, NJ was once a movie theater. (Okay, I really love Sour Patch Kids too… and Twizzlers… and popcorn… so it’s not exactly a hardship).

While I was in the midst of edits for Dark Light of Day and finishing up the second Noon Onyx book, I was in a massive dry spell of movie viewing. So the minute I handed in that second book I went on a movie watching binge. I rented them at home and tried to see as many as I could in the theater this summer. (I have a feeling another dry spell is approaching! ;-))

So the “reviews” that follow are really just my thoughts on a bunch of movies that I had fun watching. If any of you saw them too and want to discuss, please tell me your thoughts in the comments. If you saw other ones that are worth seeing, let me know! If you disagree with my thoughts, let me know! Half the fun of watching movies is comparing notes after. So here they are in no particular order:

Secret World of Arrietty

Watched this with my kids. Simply adored it. When I was a kid, I loved reading The Littles. This movie reminded me a bit of those stories, but possibly even better. Why? Well, for one, I am a huge Hayao Miyazaki fan. He did the screenplay. (He was also the director for these fantastic movies:  Kiki’s Delivery Service, Spirited Away, and Ponyo, as well as many others). I also loved the relationship between the two main characters, which was sweet and touching. And I loved how some of the scenes in the movie celebrated nature.

Are you a Hayao Miyazaki fan? If so, what’s your favorite movie of his?

First Position

This is a terrific documentary that focuses on the lives of six ballet dancers ranging in age from nine to nineteen as they prepare to compete in one of the most prestigious ballet competitions in the world. It is an inside look at the life of those who dedicate themselves to this discipline, showing both the good and bad. Usually I watch documentaries in pieces as I do stuff around my house, but the whole family watched this one start to finish one Friday night. It was compelling and gave us something meaty to discuss. My oldest was fascinated by the dancers’ talent and dedication, but I’m honestly not sure I could put my kid through that kind of rigorous life. There’s a fine line between pushing and supporting.

If you or your child had that kind of talent, how would you handle it?

Giant Mechanical Man

I would put this movie squarely in the “quirky romance” category, which I love. The characters were fantastic, especially the title character Tim, who performs as a giant mechanical man because he feels like “modern life can be alienating. It can be like you’re mindlessly walking through it, like a robot.” And he wanted people to know that they aren’t crazy. That they’re not alone. So he created an alter ego, this silver-painted, stilts-wearing street performer. Jenna Fischer (of The Office fame) plays the other main character, Janice, who’s down on her luck and living with her sister. Topher Grace’s portrayal of a massively self-centered, egotistical author was funny too.

Do you like quirky romances? What are some of your favorites?

John Carter

I have to admit, the poor reviews had me staying away at first. But then Katy Hulme, the Storytelling Nomad, said how much she liked it, so I figured I should at least give it a try. While John Carter may not be my favorite movie of the year, I enjoyed it and was glad I watched it. For anyone who likes science fiction or fantasy, you should give it a go. Watch with an open mind. I would *love* to hear other people’s thoughts on this, but my take on why it didn’t do better is (1) it was set on Mars. The story seems a little too fantastical for Mars these days (A Princess of Mars, the story upon which the movie was based, was written by Edgar Rice Burroughs in the early twentieth century); and (2) its title was confusing. Unlike Spiderman or Tarzan, the name “John Carter” isn’t immediately recognizable outside of the SF/F fan community.

Did you see John Carter? What did you think? Why do you think the movie wasn’t more successful?

Summer Blockbusters

At the beginning of the summer season, I predicted the movie I would love the most was Ridley Scott’s Prometheus. Self-prognosticating usually doesn’t go as well for me, but I’m happy to report that, after seeing all of the “big ones,” Prometheus was indeed my favorite. Why? Hmm… I guess because, one, I loved Noomi Rapace’s character (man, was she fierce or what?! And yet vulnerable too. My favorite type of heroine.) Two, I LOVE movies that combine big special effects and awesome SF/F settings with a little mind-bending “what if?” I like movies that entertain, but also allow you to think. Prometheus was also a fantastic action movie, with a little mysticism thrown in for good measure. How could it not be my favorite movie of the summer?

Which SF/F films have made you think and, if so, what about?

Forget about The Endless Summer. Don’t we all just want endless popcorn… and endless movies? Thankfully, Oscar season is just around the corner! 😀