Friday, June 12, 2015

The Unexpected in "Jurassic World"

I saw the movie Jurassic World today, and was struck by how they handle they audience's expectations of characters. In particular, where romance and gender are concerned, and how they either play up what the audience will like or throw something at us that we don't expect.

*a few spoilers*

First of all, a certain redhead weird woman wears high heels all through the movie. As I recall, the actress said that she had to learn to run in high heels. This is something that I personally think is nuts when I look at a woman doing this, but it works for the character, so I can hardly criticize. And since I decided very quickly that the character was a tad bit crazy, it worked for me. Heck, the male lead even pointed out that her shoes were ridiculous, so it's not even like everyone was pretending that she made good fashion choices.

And, just like the female lead was as feminine as possible, even to the point of running hither and yon in heels, the leading man was very rugged and masculine.

So the two leads are very feminine and masculine, as we might expect in a movie. But from there, we have a few unexpected things.

One thing sure to grab anyone's attention are a pair of employees in the park, a man and a woman. Nothing is said to indicate romance, but it's easy to assume romantic interest given that that's what we think of when we see two people of different genders set side by side in movies. Eventually it comes to the evacuation where the woman asks the man if he's leaving with her, and he bravely responds that someone has to stay behind. Then, as we might expect, he steps forward for his mandatory farewell kiss. Because that's just what happens, the brave man gets his kiss from the beautiful woman. But that's where things change from what we anticipate, as she awkwardly explains that she already has a boyfriend, and never mentioned him since she doesn't discuss her personal life at work. They hug as friends, and part ways.

Giant neon text may as well have been placed on the screen, "Things don't always have to be about romance, you know."

Even the two lead characters aren't dating at the end of the movie. Sure, there's some sexual tension that goes back to a failed date they mention, and he kisses her when she saves his life. But at the end, even though they agree to stick together for survival, they are clearly not (yet?) a couple, even though they have new respect for each other.

Jurassic World is an odd mix of giving the audience what is expected with very feminine and masculine leads, while also doing the unexpected where romance is concerned. And I like it.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Reading in 2014

For the past couple years I've written about my previous year's reading resolutions, how I met (or didn't meet) them, and made a list of what all I've read. It's a bit late in the year this time around, but I figure I can still do that.

Alexander, Jonathan F. -- Finding Out: An Introduction to LGBT Studies
Aristophanes -- Lysistrata
Bond, Stephanie -- Southern Roads: Baby, Hold On
Bryson, Bernardra -- Gilgamesh
Butcher, Jim -- Dresden Files: Storm Front*
Butcher, Jim -- Dresden Files: Skin Game
Cavelos, Jeanne -- Babylon 5: The Shadow Within
Collins, Suzanne -- The Hunger Games: Mockingjay
Green, John -- Will Grayson, Will Grayson 
Hansberry, Loraine -- A Raisin in the Sun 
Ibsen, Henrick -- A Doll's House
Jacques, Jeph -- Questionable Content, Vol 1
Johnson, Alaya Dawn -- The Summer Prince 
Kaufman, Moisés -- The Laramie Project 
Keyes, Gregory J. -- Babylon 5: Final Reckoning: The Fate of Bester 
Le Guin, Ursula K. -- Very Far Away From Anywhere Else
Ochs, Robyn -- Getting Bi: Voices of Bisexuals Around the World*
Pierce, Tamora -- Beka Cooper: Mastiff*
Pierce, Tamora --  The Immortals: Wild Magic*
Pirandello, Luigi -- Six Characters in Search of an Author
Roberts, Nora -- Inn BoonsBoro: The Next Always
Roberts, Nora -- Three Sisters Island: Dance Upon the Air
Roth, Veronica -- Divergent: Divergent
Roth, Veronica -- Divergent: Insurgent
Roth, Veronica -- Divergent: Allegiant
Shakespeare, William -- Hamlet*
Shakespeare, William -- A Midsummer Night's Dream*
Smith, Jeff -- Bone: Out from Boneville*
Smith, Jeff -- Bone: The Great Cow Race*
Smith, Jeff -- Bone: Eyes of the Storm*
Smith, Jeff -- Bone: The Dragonslayer*
Smith, Jeff -- Bone: Rock Jaw, Master of the Eastern Border*
Smith, Jeff -- Bone: Old Man's Cave*
Smith, Jeff -- Bone: Ghost Circles*
Smith, Jeff -- Bone: Treasure Hunters*
Smith, Jeff -- Bone: Crown of Horns*     
Szymanski, Mike -- The Bisexual's Guide to the Universe
Wilde, Oscar -- The Importance of Being Ernest

*have read before

Goodreads challenge
As to reading challenges, with the Goodreads challenge I'd meant to read 55 books but managed 38.

I also took part some in The Artful Readers Club, and had my own reading list that I didn't complete. I don't feel like listing either out though, since yeah, I didn't finish my own reading list and eventually stopped participating in the arty club.

For 2015 my plan is to focus on enjoying reading without any real goal in mind. I think that's a good place for me to be right now.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Butcher and Pierce

This would be filed under notes that may not be of any interest to anyone other than me, where I'm just jotting things down. I got to thinking about similarities between Tamora Pierce and Jim Butcher, bearing in mind that I've only read Butcher's Dresden Files.

Obviously, they both write fantasy. They both take characters who are figuring things out, still learning (at least, at first...but then, they never really stop learning) and follow their stories.

(Of course, Pierce follows different characters over various quartets, whereas Butcher has Harry plus a few side characters who we see grow over a longer period of time, but same sort of thing.)

Both of their characters get knocked down a few times, but that's just part of growing. They face bullies and outright enemies, and sometimes lose a few fights. Or at the very least, they go up against someone who would have killed them if help hadn't arrived in the (ta da!) nick of time. But they learn from these experiences, and ultimately wind up strong enough to win a fight with those who had just knocked them down. Which means, of course, that a bigger badder bad guy will come along.

Butcher and Pierce both write characters who are funny and likable, who the reader can really care about. The main characters tend to be idealists in an imperfect world, trying to be the white knights to set things right when that isn't really possible. And they might know that they can't set everything right, but they'll still try their best, even when others point out the harsh realities of the world to them.

Last, one thing that Pierce's Beka Cooper books have in common with Dresden Files in particular is that they're mysteries solved by magical people. They even both have a cat, though Pierce's Pounce is a bit more vocal and involved than Butcher's Mister.

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