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How To: Stud Earring Display & Storage

17 Jun

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I collect cheap, odd, kitschy jewelry like there’s no tomorrow. Because honestly, you never know when the market is going to get tired of making necklaces of foxes in business suits. One thing I’ve amassed a fair number of are stud-type earrings, and I’ve found it kind of hard to keep track of them. I had them in a fancy mesh baggie, but finding pairs was just too much effort. I tried the “store them on a long ribbon!” method but the fraying was just annoying. So I came up with something much, much simpler, infinitely cheaper, and it takes up pretty much no space!

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All you need is a wine cork (I got mine on eBay because I wanted fun names–I mean, come on, it says Faust!) and a sharp, thin implement to poke the holes in. If you try to do it with the earrings themselves, they might bend. I used a dotting tool for nail polish because it happened to be directly next to my earrings. Make two identical holes, put your earrings in, continue!

I have 17 pairs on my current cork and enough room for 6 or 7 more, making this insanely space-saving. But what about the backings? I keep those in the old mesh bag. I mean, earring backings aren’t really that fancy–just grab some and go! And for longer earrings? Put the holes on the top of the cork, and have them dangle down. As long as they’re not super long–but then you could improvise by hot gluing several corks together and making a little earring tower. Which of course I want to do now because it sounds hella cute.

Oculus Early Screening Review

3 Apr

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{Half of this is a rant, skip to the bold if you just want the Oculus review!}

There’s something great about going to the movies. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes nothing is better than curling up in bed and watching a movie in the privacy of your bedroom (no pants required!), but midnight screenings and pre-showings are my bread and butter. There is usually a great sense of community and camaraderie.

This is not the case, apparently, at a Reddit-sponsored screening. While this is no reflection of the movie itself I have quite literally never had a worse experience than the Reddit pre-screening of Oculus. There were a set number of seats, and only that number of tickets were given out. So if you have a ticket you get a seat, right? WRONG. Half the theater (literally) was saving a seat “for a friend.” It took a very, very long time for me to actually find someplace to sit, and I didn’t get to sit with the person I came with. Even though I was maybe the 30th person on line?

When I DID get a seat I was stuck between the two people you don’t want to be next to at a movie: the talker and the elbower. I can get over elbowing (I’m tiny, scrunch yourself up and voila! out of elbow range), but the talker. My goodness. This woman talked LITERALLY THE ENTIRE MOVIE. “Is that his sister? Are they in the past? Oh, how did it turn back into an apple?! Ohhh I forgot my glasses. I can’t see! What’s happening? Wait, is he gonna kill her? Are they all dead?” Hilariously, she had no concept of the plot (no, they’re not all dead, no, they’re not time travelers, no, items aren’t literally morphing into other things…). It was like sitting next to a small child! Only the child was eating stinky stew she snuck in, had bags piled literally on my feet, and smelled awful.

And for some reason (probably because the Reddit hivemind is above liking anything), it was an antagonistic crowd, something I’ve never experienced at a movie. Constant laughter, yelling, booing, giggling. It was a strange experience, horribly unpleasant, but not even grumpy dudebros could spoil Oculus for me.

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Thus begins the actual review! I love horror movies, but I’m pretty picky about them. There are few modern ones I actually like. My conditions for a good horror movie are strict: good atmosphere, a significantly scary Big Bad, an awesome soundtrack and lighting, clever camera angles, at least one strong female character, absolutely no sexual violence, and at least one person has to die. Like come on, horror movies without death are dull. I’m looking at you, The Conjuring. My strict “no sexual violence but I need death AND a strong (aka well rounded–she doesn’t have to be a warrior, just not a cardboard cutout) female character” often leave me left out in the cold. You don’t get a whole lot of it. The Descent, Sinister, Grave Encounters, and The Ward qualify (along with, surprisingly, Dread, which is criminally underrated). Insidious is close but the monster is goofy at the end. Paranormal Activity didn’t wow me. Anything Rob Zombie gets knocked out for obvious reasons–along with things like Hostel, The Hills Have Eyes, et cetera.

Oculus fits all the criteria. Karen Gillian is vibrant and fierce, the set design and lighting is spectacular, there’s enough cringe-worthy gore for you to believe that everyone is at risk all the time, the atmosphere is pure madness. There’s an element of delirium–you never know just what is going to come next. The movie plays out over two time periods: the past and the present, with both intertwining elegantly. It’s smart horror, like The Woman in Black in a modern setting with a lot more blood. And fingernails.

They do an excellent job of setting up what the mirror is capable of early on without actually revealing what it is: you know the rules, which of course is critical to understanding the trippy narrative this movie winds up to. Note: if you are talking to yourself the entire time, you probably won’t follow along that well. I’m looking at you, crazy bag lady sitting next to me.

The fingerprints of Paranormal Activity and Insidious are all over Oculus: there are camera footage tricks, hordes of creepy ghost people, the sense that no one is who they seem to be (or could turn at any time). But it evens out many of their flaws: Paranormal Activity is ponderously slow until the finale (and its sequels get more and more ridiculous: haunted Xbox!), and Insidious goes from fantastic to “why is he being chased by Darth Maul?” By keeping the pacing constantly intense but the monster out of sight (and more grounded on human anatomy) you aren’t constantly jerked out of the narrative.

But since there is no such thing as a perfect movie (except for Sinister, my precious baby), Oculus is not without a few flaws. The acting of Brenton Thwaites, who plays grown-up Tim, is nowhere near as good as Karen Gillian’s. He’s flat next to her, and it shows–especially near the end, when the emotional tension is at a peak. And the soundtrack leaves me wanting. You need a good soundtrack. Look at The Omen! What do we all remember from that movie? Okay, we remember the head getting sliced off by a pane of glass. But also the amazing music.  Oculus‘ is just so-so. For me, a truly perfect horror movie has to have a soundtrack like Sinister or Suspiria, one that I want to listen to in my spare time and sends tingles down my spine.

But the good outweighs the bad by far. I adored Oculus. But my opinions tend to be different from the masses, so I expect it to get panned. Like The Woman in Black, sob. However, early crowd reviews are coming back pretty positive (except for grumpy Reddit crowd, grumble grumble)! This looks like it is going to be a good month for horror: The Quiet Ones is coming out on the 25th, and not even my extreme fear of exorcisms will keep me from that!

Divergent: Book Versus Movie

23 Mar

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The transition from book to movie is often a rocky one. Most do a decent enough job with the atmosphere while chopping out large chunks of the plot (Harry Potter), while others fall flat on their faces in an embarrassing fashion (Winter’s Tale, I can’t even think about that one…). A few movies do justice to their book counterparts, like the Lord of the Rings trilogy, and on rare occasions even surpass them. Somewhat controversially, I’d say that The Hunger Games achieved this, rounding out flaws in the book in an effortless fashion.

My hopes for Divergent were not very high. While I was secretly hoping for a hilarious YA-trainwreck like City of Bone, I expected a pretty middle of the road rendition. Sadly, it was bad–but not so bad that it was funny. Actually, I think if you haven’t read the books it’s probably pretty good. They did not change a whole lot, but the things they did change were so frustratingly minor. Why is Tris blonde? Why did they change the meeting with her mom to an illicit affair instead of an official one? Who knows!

Minor Quibbles:

  • The first shot in the movie is not in the books. Not a good sign…
  • I found the mascara and falsies on Tris & her mom crazy distracting. What were they wearing?! I bet it was Tarte’s Lights, Camera, Lashes. It looked fabulous, but the “no makeup makeup” was painfully obvious in a whole “no one wears makep” world.
  • Erasure of minorities: Christina is supposed to be Hispanic, yet in the movie she is black. The characters who are black in the books (Uriah, my favorite!) are barely in the movie. They cut the gay female character. Tori was as un-Asian looking as possible. The books do a great job with diversity. The movie? Not so much…
  • The finale is supposed to be at night. It wasn’t at night. Why? Who knows!
  • They cut out all of Peter’s character arc, which is going to bite them in the ass if they do a second movie.
  • Eric looked so much like Macklemore, I kept expecting him to break out in song. The hair was a bad choice.
  • Marcus looked like a hobo. WHY?
  • Abnegation is supposed to have boring clothes but everything Tris wore was amazing. Can I have that jacket, please?

Major Quibbles:

  • Why did EVERYONE know about Divergents? It was a huge change from the book, and it made no sense. For one, if rumors of them are really known all over the city, Tris would have understood the meaning of her whack test scores. Having it go from this big, government secret to something teenagers tell urban legends about shifted the tone significantly.
  • Will, Al, Peter and Ed looked IDENTICAL. I literally could not tell them apart. Same height, same face shape, same hair color & cut. It was a real problem, since two are “good” and two are “bad.” HUGE casting error. Also, focus on the 4 identical white boys but cutting so many minority characters? For shame.
  • The romance was nothing like the books. Tris & Four had no chemistry, it seemed so forced and awkward.
  • My biggest issue: when Tris is in her fearscape and deals with Four’s romantic advances, it is a nuanced issue. In the books, at least. It is a fear of opening up emotionally and physically to someone, a fear of growing up and changing. But in the movie, it’s… a fear of her boyfriend trying to rape her. REALLY?
  • Kate Winslet should have played Four’s mom. Such a wasted opportunity.
  • So many tiny details were changed. And for no reason: they did not make the plot go faster, or fix plotholes. It seemed totally random and was disjointing if you read the books. Things like the zipline suddenly being dangerous, or having them run up 100 flights of stairs instead of the elevator scene (which, by the way, was my favorite part of the book and they cut it, ahh).
  • Continuity errors: right after Tris injures her ear, it is fine in the next scene. Surely their budget was big enough for some fake blood.
  • What is up with YA books and the stupid insertion of pop songs? SO ANNOYING. They did it in Twilight and City of Bone, and it needs to stop. Now. Do your soundtrack like The Hunger Games. Please, I beg you. Otherwise I am sitting there during the big romance scene going “huh, where have I heard this before…?”

My biggest issue, though, was this guy:

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Theo James is 29. Theo James looks 29. It added a creepy, robbing-the-cradle element to the Tris/Four romance. I would make allowances if he was fantastic and the perfect Four, but let’s face it… he can’t act. He was terrible. Giggle-worthy.

Lastly on the list of complaints, the pronunciation of Erudite was ALL OVER THE PLACE. Yes, there are two proper ways to pronounce it. But we got at least four in the movie. Hehe, Four. The thing is, someone should have said “okay, we are going with THIS pronunciation. Everyone, stick to it!” Instead of having everyone do whatever. So distracting. It was Rorschach all over again.

So, it wasn’t all bad, right? Things that I actually liked:

  • The atmosphere was great. Totally captured the feel of the books (except for The Pit, which was way too bright)
  • The costume design was PERFECT. The colors were fantastic, really drew lines between the factions.
  • I think Tris was acted much better than I expected. Still not excited for Shailene Woodley in The Fault in Our Stars, though.

Yeah, that’s pretty much it. So much potential but it fell horribly flat. A letdown, as I expected, though it falls between “bad” and “so funny bad it’s amazing.” It is getting good reviews, so I expect a sequel… which I will happily skip. Once was enough, thank you very much. For those of you working on The Forest of Hands & Teeth and The Daughter of Smoke and Bone, please take this as a lesson on what NOT to do in a young adult book-to-movie venture. I have such high hopes for both of you.