More Nannydiddering (+ bonus Moana)

So in my pursuit of watching anything to distract me from our current hellscape and musings about the sweet release of death, I found myself thinking, “I should watch a Disney movie.” That’s one of the things I wanted to do this year: catch up on the despised “kiddie fare”. Not despised by me, certainly; one of the vows I made when I was a kid was that I would never stop watching cartoons. That’s about the only one of those promises I kept (becoming a mad scientist required some facility with math, it turns out). Luckily I didn’t specify that the cartoons had to  be cel animation (as in those days, teaching a computer to slur “Daisy, Daisy” was the height of technical artistic achievement) or I would be screwed.

Or reduced to watching nothing but my box sets of Jonny Quest and Frankenstein Jr. That could still happen.

Anyway.

Later for you, primitive DVD technology!

Remember back at the turn of the century when Disney put out The Black Cauldron on DVD? I had seen it when it was released theatrically in 1985 and wasn’t terribly impressed, but this was back when I had disposable income, so I bought it… and proceeded to forget about it. I guess I had foreseen that 18 years later I would have a mad posh to give it another chance and was simply planning ahead.

Settled in, pressed start on the player… and the disc wouldn’t cooperate.

I could soothe my minor disappointment with the memory that I had tried a similar venture with The Black Hole a few months ago and discovered that by golly I may have been younger when I saw it in the theaters and was disappointed, but I was still right. But my Disney mood was in danger of going unslaked! No big deal, as my wife is a teacher and that somehow means we must always have Disney on hand. So what would also fulfill my mission to scope out cinema for young’uns I had missed while watching four-hour Russian movies?

Well, hello Moana.

Hooray! Saved by modern blu-ray technology!

For the benefit of others who were distracted by *harrumph* more serious pursuits: Moana is the daughter of the chief of a South Seas island. As is required of all spunky heroines, she is a bit of a thorn in his side because she is fascinated by the ocean, and Pop has a definite policy against voyaging no further than the outer reef. This is really put to the test when the coconut trees fall to disease and all the fish leave the immediate vicinity. This appears to be due to the curse incurred when the legendary shape-shifting demigod Maui stole the Heart of the Sea from the goddess Te Fiti. Wouldn’t you know, there’s also a legend that someone has to cross the ocean to take Maui back to the scene of the crime to return the Heart. And we know just the title character to do it.

Now, Moana is a good movie, with a story that has remarkable depths. Playing about in the mythology of another culture always yields dividends, and reminds me of my youth when I was devouring books worth of exotic folklore from other nations. The voice acting from Auli’i Cravalho as Moana and Dwayne Johnson as Maui is superb. The graphics are frequently gorgeous. But it is, in the end, a Disney movie.

I mean, look at that. That is freaking gorgeous.

That means it’s a musical. I hate musicals.

I’m trying to figure out why that blindsided me here. I mean – just to reiterate – it’s a Disney movie. Disney movies have songs. In Moana, however, they move the story forward, yet somehow don’t seem very well integrated. I actively resented that Moana’s signature song got stuck in my head, but then I realized it wasn’t so much the song as the power of Ms. Cravalho’s pipes – she sings the living hell out of that song. I think… it’s the songs themselves?

I try to remember Moana’s song – “How Far I’ll Go” – and all I can come up with is Pocahontas‘ “Just Around the Riverbend”. The single villain song that we get – “I’m Shiny” (with Jemaine Clement, who’s got a great voice)? I can only come up with “Oogie Boogie’s Song” from Nightmare Before Christmas. I just don’t find the songs in Moana memorable at all, and that is a hell of a thing for a guy who hates musicals to have to say.

Really liked the rest of the movie, though. Do more non-European fairy tale stuff, Disney. Guess my next posh will go to Zootopia and aw, crap, that’s gonna be a musical, too, isn’t it?

Anyway.

Besides watching other “kiddie stuff” like LEGO super hero videos – shut up, they’re funny, and actually respectful of the source material – there’s all the (here come the quotes again) “prestige TV” I’ve been watching, so strap yourselves in for nannydiddering…

There are also cows.

I’m currently only two episodes away from the end of Season 2 of Legion. After a rocky start for me, the season has steadied into a much better, if somewhat infuriating, groove. We’ve had episodes focusing on one character or another, which is nice, and there are times that the series’ marriage of music to imagery is simply. splendidly unmatched. Homages/lifts from movies like A Clockwork Orange, Office Space and Eraserhead only add to the mix. We’ve been given more Aubrey Plaza in a most unusual way. Way way back in the day when I was reviewing Wild in the Streets, I wondered what happened to multi-panel layouts on movie screens, so prevalent in movies at the time, even in mainstream fare like The Boston Strangler – well, here they are again. Surprise!

A continuing fixture in this season has been mini-lectures on various forms of delusion narrated by Jon Hamm, which surely have some overall connection to the major arc, but as in all thing Legion, we are still uncertain. The one in Episode 9 about sociopathy in the digital age is a particular humdinger.

There has been, though, a singular lack of dance numbers.

And then of course there’s WHAT THE HELL

Legion fills a hole in my head that was left after Twin Peaks: The Return ended, which is gratifying, but also worrisome, in that there is another similarity that is gnawing on my brain: that all this fun, enjoyable stuff seems to be at the expense of the major story arc, and with only two episodes left in the season, I worry about a too-hasty conclusion to all these hectic threads (I don’t know why I was expecting anything different from Twin Peaks, I guess I’m just an old fool). Luckily, Season 3 was announced at the beginning of this month, so hey: more weirdness. Eventually. Chances are I’ll just watch the last two episodes this weekend, to coincide with the finale of Season One of Westworld, Leaving The Expanse the odd man out.

Speaking of which…

It’s slightly older news that there will be a Season Four of The Expanse, and as I catch up with S3, this has new importance to me. On Twitter, someone mentioned being interested in how the series would handle a narrative shift present in the novels, and I guess that’s happened now? Maybe? In any case, one of the books has obviously wrapped up, with the shooting war between Earth and Mars circumvented, and now there is a huge piece of alien technology in orbit near Uranus, and nobody knows what the hell it is, but, as usual, our main characters – who are finally starting to figure out that they really are the unluckiest SOBs in the solar system – are right in the center of it.

Are missiles supposed to do that?

I don’t much care for the personnel shakeup that happened, but also know that the characters lost are still kicking around in that universe somewhere. (Especially since one character we were pretty sure was dead is suddenly turning up and acting all Keir Dullea in 2010) The trade-off in story beats is worth it, I guess, as it’s given me one of the biggest kicks I’ve had in a long time: A massive generation ship – a massive church converted into a battleship – flying into the alien artifact, into the unknown, because every other faction has done so and it is vitally, politically necessary to follow – dang it, that’s just good science fiction.

Got a new favorite character, too, in David Straithairn’s Commander Klaes Ashford, a boisterous reformed pirate who’s the second-in-command on that church warship. It’s typical of the care shown both by the showrunners and the cast that I’m still uncertain of Ashford’s true motivations and loyalties, and damn if it ain’t interesting to watch. Not to mention that he’s managed to steal my affection away from characters I have two and a half seasons invested in!

If Season Four hadn’t been picked up, there would be cops outside the building right now asking me to put down my weapons. I’ve got the first two books on my Kindle, I guess I’ll be reading them soon. To try to alleviate the twitching after this season ends.

Westworld S1 ends for me this week, and at least with it I can move on to Season 2, not something I can say for those other series. No, I’ll be waiting for their return along with the rest of you, which occurs to me would be a way for the awakening AIs in Dellos to forge their emotions closer to human.

I’m starting to make some sense of those timelines I keep hearing people talking about in the plot, I mean now that I’m listening to people talking about the show. I seem to have developed a method of enforcing blind spots on social media when I perceive a show or movie I have not seen is being talked about. It’s far from foolproof, as I have movies spoiled for me on a regular basis (you bastards), but it enabled me to watch Season One blissfully ignorant of Bernard’s true nature until the fateful question, “What door?”

It also let Tessa Thompson be a surprise, so win/win

The Season One Finale awaits me this weekend, which I suppose will answer some questions but ask many more, to open up the next season. With Legion dropping out of my weekly rotation, I think it’s about time I started Sense8, don’t you? Then, when I run out of The Expanse, there is a better than even chance that I’ll indulge my new Noah Hawley fetish with Fargo, see how that goes.

Maybe I’ll even watch some movies.

8 Comments

  1. Heh. I’m of the mind that Disney has a DVD-wiping device at their disposal that forces you to buy Blu-Ray upgrades because I’ve heard and seen this DVD no worky crap happen a few too many times.

    As for Legion, I liked that last pair of episodes, but I had a few questions Season 3 will likely take care of. Methinks Hawley will get another season or two out of his arc, but we shall see. The ending of this season certainly leaves things in a… oh, you’ll see soon enough.

    • I still remember seeing the last episode of The Prisoner and going, “Bwuh?….”

      We shall see, hopefully in a few hours.

      • Oh, that last episode of The Prisoner scarred me for like. It’s as if they said “Well, we’re going off the air for good, so fuggit!”. All that last show needed was Number Six riding a Rover like a giant Hoppity Hop (which still wouldn’t have been the weirdest thing that happened).

    • Also, I totally accept that Disney somehow found a way to weaponize laser rot.

      • Not too far off. Disney is one of the companies which uses a particular form of copy protection that works by filling the disk with physically damaged sectors and having the program on the disk jump over them during playback. But because many players try to prevent skips and pauses by reading ahead, they’ll sometimes try to read a bad sector anyway, and then, depending on the player, the whole thing will go to hell because it basically gets hung up trying to correct the error (Especially if you’re playing it on a laptop or any other sort of computer DVD drive; player DVD drives are mostly designed to give up and move on when they hit an error, computer DVD drives are mostly designed to slow down and try harder to get a good read).

  2. Zootopia is not a musical. It was also one of the best films of 2016. Highly recommended.

    • That sound you hear is Zootopia rocketing to the top of the list.

  3. It has a lot of heart and had a lot of things to say, and said them rather deftly without pounding you about the head and neck with the Mallet of Morality! Also, pretty hilarious, a good mystery, and great characters and world-building. Enjoy!


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