Monthly Archives: March 2011

Liz Tells Frank What Happened In “Sucker Punch”

Dear Frank,

About two months ago, it got programmed into my brain that I wanted to see Sucker Punch, Zach Snyder’s “first original film” — in part because I’m a sucker for anything that might promise to be a girl power epic, and in part because I have a strange residual fondness for 300. (Not entirely because of this, but, yeah.) Combine that residual goodwill with the fact that American film is currently experiencing a drought of original premises and I like to support the ones that do make it into theaters, and you end up with me giving Zack Snyder my money on Sunday night.

Let’s end the mystery right here, Frank — if the movie had been great, I wouldn’t be writing this, and this installment wouldn’t be filled with SPOILERS. Read with caution.

Sucker Punch starts off by introducing a young girl only known as Baby Doll, who gets sent to a mental asylum by her evil stepfather after the death of her mother. (This movie does not deal in subtleties.) In the mental institution, she meets a pack of girls with whom she teams up for an escape attempt — because in five days, thanks to her stepfather bribing an orderly, she’s getting lobotomized.

What then happens? Read the rest of this entry

Liz Tells Frank What Happened In “Conan the Barbarian”

Dear Frank,

Thank you so much for telling me about My Neighbor Totoro last week! Miyazaki has always been a director I’ve struggled to appreciate, but there is the slightest chance that I now get what the big deal is.

I can only hope I bring that same level of joy to today’s retelling of the 1982 classic Conan the Barbarian. Because let me be clear here, Frank — this movie is a delight. It’s a weird, slowly-paced flavor of delight, but its blunt, hypermasculine telling of a legend I have done absolutely no research into prior to writing this is downright arresting.

Lest you had doubts about this movie’s politics or message, Conan opens with a quote from Nietzsche about his beloved Ubermensch philosophy. When we meet the titular Ubermensch, though, he is but a little boy being raised by his father to believe in the god Krum, who lives in the ground and is responsible for all good things.

Life seems good for Li’l Conan, but then (because these are barbarian times) his home village is raided by an outside gang of troops, and they kill his parents and enlist him into slavery. Eh oh. Read the rest of this entry

New Liz Tells Frank Is Coming on a New Day!

New installments will go live on Tuesdays for the foreseeable future. Please file your complaints with the management, if you in fact do have complaints. We care.

Frank Tells Liz What Happened In “My Neighbor Totoro”

Dear Liz,

First of all, thanks so much for asking me to tell you about something this week. This blog has filled my life with so much warmth and information, and your efforts to shine an edifying light on the underdeveloped corners of my pop culture soul continue to make me a better human being. I know you’re having a busy week, so the least I can do is pick up the baton for once and tell you about a Miyazaki movie.

Liz, like many of us who spent our childhoods in the 1980s, I experienced a deep, early love of cartoons. It started with the animated shorts on Sesame Street and reached its zenith with the arrival of The Muppet Babies, whose imaginative flights of fancy and media mash-ups were the highlight of my Saturday mornings. But like many of us, I gradually realized that most of the other cartoons I was devouring were totally terrible: derivative, violent toy commercials of the crudest hand-drawn sort. (For me, the breaking point was probably the day I recognized the imperialist undertones of The InHumanoids.) In many ways, the 1980s were the nadir of American animation.

Meanwhile in Japan, the 1980s were an animation renaissance, spearheaded by the formation of Studio Ghibli, the company formed by animator-auteurs Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata. I’ve seen a number of Miyazaki movies, but I’ve actually never seen My Neighbor Totoro, so I’m very pleased that we’re sharing it for the first time together. Read the rest of this entry

Liz Tells Frank What Happened In the “Sliders” Pilot

Dear Frank,

Of all the terrible things about being a teenager, here is one that’s only really terrible in retrospect: There will be books and movies and TV shows you consume in your adolescence that, upon future reflection, might prove to be embarrassing, especially when you realize just how much they reveal about you. There’s an inevitability to this — the most you can hope for is that the media with that kind of power over your psyche won’t include a Vancouver-produced micro-budgeted Fox show about people who hop between alternate universes with the help of an oversized cell phone.

I am, alas, not so lucky.

The pilot episode of Sliders opens with Jerry O’Connell videotaping his experiments with wormhole technology in the basement of his mother’s house; blah blah blah science science science Jerry’s a genius, having successfully opened up a portal of some sort to a… I dunno. It’s a mystery! (The answer is parallel universes.) Read the rest of this entry

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