Month: November 2012

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Disney Reviews with the Unshaved Mouse #17: 101 Dalmatians

DISCLAIMER: This blog is not for profit. All images used below are property of their respective companies unless stated otherwise. I do not claim ownership of this material.

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What kind of Disney movie reads Playboy?

Only two years separated the releases of Sleeping Beauty and 101 Dalmatians but they are, in every sense, eras apart. 101 Dalmatians feels so different, looks so different and sounds so different from its immediate predecessor that it almost feels like the work of a different studio. This is the first of what I call the Scratchy Movies, because of the harder, scratchier outlines of the characters compared to previous Disney eras. Take a look:

Tar and Sugar Era.

Never-Heard-of-Em Era.

Restoration Era.

Scratchy Era.

You see how the lines are so much starker and rougher in the last one? Why is that?

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Happy Thanksgiving from The Unshaved Mouse!

I’d like to take a moment to wish all my American readers a very happy Thanksgiving, or as we call it in Europe “Um…all the Puritans just like, FUCKING VANISHED and I am seriously freaking out here, you guys.” Day.

392 Years ago the Puritans, unhappy with the teachings of Surak and the embrace of logic by the peoples of Europe, embarked upon a perilous voyage to found a new nation in an event knows as “The Great Sundering”. I think that was the gist of it anyway, history was never my strong suit.

From your cousins in the old world, we hope that your day is peaceful and joyous, and your turkeys slow and unable to pull together an effective military counter strategy.

Live long and prosper, America.

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Disney Reviews by the Unshaved Mouse #16: Sleeping Beauty

DISCLAIMER: This blog is not for profit. All images used below are property of their respective companies unless stated otherwise. I do not claim ownership of this material.

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Let’s talk a little about “house styles” shall we? A house style is basically where you have a large number of creators working on a single work, and so they modify their individual artistic voices to conform to a uniform style. The goal is essentially to make something that is the product of all these individual people seem like it’s the work of one person, a single artistic voice.

Say you’re a journalist. Depending on which publication you get work for, you will have to write in a completely different style than you might normally use. It’s almost like becoming a different person. 

This is you as the New York Times…

…The Sun…

…The Guardian…

…aaand the Daily Mail. Thanks folks, I’ll be here all week!

It’s something that most writers have to deal with, and learning to adapt to a house style is a vital skill for anyone hoping to make their living as a scribe. And I absolutely SUCK at it. I learned this when I tried to get a job writing for Ireland’s most popular soap opera.

My idea was for a two year long crossover with Eastenders set during a zombie apocalypse, but here’s the thing…the zombies are actually GHOSTS.

Pff. No RTÉ. I think you’ll find that it is you who are “wildly impractical“.

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Check this guy out…

Chuck “SF Debris” Sonnenburg is one of my favorite internet reviewers and, along with others like Doug “Nostalgia Critic” Walker, Lindsay “Nostalgia Chick” Ellis and Bob “Movie Bob” Chipman, one of the people who inspired me to start this blog in the first place.

Chuck’s particular wheelhouse is science fiction, particularly hilariously brutal takedowns of bad Star Trek episodes. A while back I asked him to review what is (in my opinion) one of the all time worst Star Trek episodes, the TNG First Season  trainwreck “Angel One”. He did, and even survived.

Check it out : http://sfdebris.com/videos/startrek/t115.asp

Reflections on the death of Savita Halappanavar

Hello everyone.

So, you may have noticed my country is in the news right now, and not in a good way. Firstly, to anyone who thinks it’s in questionable taste to tackle such a tragic and awful topic in what is usually a comedy blog, I don’t necessarily disagree. But this is the only blog I have and I need to talk about this.

If you don’t know what’s happened over here, this is what we know.

Savita Halappanavar was a 31 year old dentist who moved here to Ireland with her husband Praveen from her native India. Five months ago she was overjoyed to discover that she was pregnant, with a girl who she was going to name Prasa. Last month she presented in a hospital in Galway on October 21 with lower back pain. Savita was told by her doctors that she was miscarrying and that there was nothing that could be done to save her baby. Savita, now dilated and in intense pain, requested several times over two and a half days that the pregnancy be terminated but was told that this could not be done because the foetus still had a heartbeat and that under Irish law to terminate it while it was still alive would be illegal. It has been reported widely that one doctor told Savita (who was neither Irish nor Catholic) that this was because Ireland was a “Catholic country.”

Now…

We can’t really know what was going through that doctor’s head as he said that. Best case scenario he was giving Savita the broad, socio-historical reason for this law. Worst case scenario he just fell through a time vortex and he was from nineteen forty fucking three. On October 28 owing to complications from her miscarriage, Savita died.

The “Catholic Country” line has been getting a lot of play and as with anything involving abortion this whole thing has gotten very frenzied, very, very fast so a few things need to be clarified here. The question you are probably asking is “Why is it illegal in Ireland for a doctor to terminate a pregnancy where the mother’s life is at risk and there is no hope of saving the baby?”

The answer is: It isn’t. Sort of. Maybe. We’re not sure.

Ireland broke from the British empire in the early twenties at a time when over ninety percent of its population was devout Catholic. They got the country they wanted, an overwhelmingly Catholic one. Our constitution begins with an invocation of the Holy Trinity and it does specifically prohibit abortion. Now, that does not mean that an Irish woman who wants abortion can’t get one. Britain is a half hour plane journey away and thousands of Irish women take that flight every year. This is the archetypal “Irish solution to an Irish problem”.

However, following a rather horrific incident in 1992 known in Ireland as “Attorney General v. X” or more commonly as “The X Case” an Irish court ruled that exemptions to the ban on abortion could be made in cases where the life of the mother is at risk.

So it’s legal? So why did Savita die? Well, here’s the thing. Courts don’t make laws. The Dáil, the Irish legislature, has not yet gotten around to implementing the court’s ruling into Irish law fully twenty years after  The X Case, and the reason for that is that an Irish politician who ingests cyanide has healthier long term prospects than one who stakes a position on the abortion issue. It is utterly toxic here. And in fairness, it’s not entirely the fault of law makers. The Irish Medical Council has never issued concrete guidelines to its members as to when it is legal to perform a termination to save the life of the mother and when it is not. So the doctors are left in a state of paralysis. We have a court ruling that says it’s legal. We have laws still on the books that say it’s not. In practice it becomes a case of whether the doctor in question is willing to risk it or not.

I bring this up because as a result of that “Catholic Country” remark you may see a lot of “The Catholic Church killed Savita” threads. That’s not what happened. There is no evidence that the Catholic Church or any of its representatives played any part in the doctor’s decision not to grant Savita a termination. The Irish Catholic Church does not have the power to order doctors to perform or withhold medical procedures.

Ahem.

Anymore.

So yeah. It’s legal, except when it’s not, except when it is. Sort of. Maybe.

This week, Ireland’s highwire, gravity-defying, plate balancing act on the abortion issue has come crashing down in the most awful, spectacular and public way imaginable. Savita’s death has kicked off a political and social firestorm here in Ireland the likes of which I honestly cannot remember. The news first broke yesterday and by the evening of the same day there was a protest of over two thousand people outside Leinster House. My guess is that many Irish politicians in power today will not be by the time this thing has finally run its course. There is a palpable sense in the air that something is going to give. I have no doubt that Irish historians will be referring in the future to “Pre-Savita” and “Post-Savita” Ireland.

It may surprise you to learn that I consider myself pro-life. I accept that it is necessary in some circumstances, but in broad strokes the concept of abortion is repellent to me and I cannot get behind it. But, and this may seem a thuddingly obvious thing to say but it still needs to be said: This should not have happened. There was no moral, rational or medical argument to deny her a termination in those circumstances. If you are pro-life and think that what occurred was right and proper, consider that two people are dead instead of one. Prasa could not have been saved. Savita could have been.

Am I in favour of criminalization? No. Doesn’t work. Best case scenario it  moves it somewhere else like it does here in Ireland. Worst case scenario a whole load of women die in back alleys. I am in favour of comprehensive sex education, easy access to contraception and poverty reduction. You know, the stuff conservatives hate but that actually reduces the number of abortions.

In Ireland we have five national sports, gaelic football, hurling, camogie, hand ball and kicking the can down the road. But we’ve finally reached the end of the road. An innocent woman has died a horrible death because we couldn’t bring ourselves to look this issue in the face. Because we could not accept that sometimes the Right Thing is fucking horrible but it’s still right. That cannot happen again.

I did not know Savita Halappanavar. I cannot imagine the grief her husband and parents are going through now. When I try to imagine what it would be like to lose my wife like that my mind just digs its heels in and refuses to go there. It’s like putting your hand in a fire, you just can’t force yourself to do it. I did not know Savita Halappanavar, but I know that she was a unique individual. Of very few people can this be said:

Her death has left an entire nation transformed.

उसकी आत्मा को शाँति मिले       Solas na bhFlaitheas dá anam uasal

 

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Disney Reviews by the Unshaved Mouse #15: Lady and the Tramp

DISCLAIMER: This blog is not for profit. All images used below are property of their respective companies unless stated otherwise. I do not claim ownership of this material. 

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Hello everyone. A little bit of housekeeping before we get into this week’s movie. Back in my Alice in Wonderland review I used three racist anti-Irish cartoons to demonstrate why nineteenth century artist John Tenniel was invited to suck my…ahem…unshaved mouse. Now, I’ve since discovered that one of these cartoons:

THIS little treasure.

…was actually not by Tenniel but by his contemporary Thomas Nast. Which honestly I should have twigged as their styles are quite noticeably different. I’ve since changed the Alice review but I felt I should come clean anyway. So yeah, I was sloppy. Sorry. John Tenniel?

Ahoyhoy?

 I apologise for confusing you with that OTHER racist dick weasel.

Oh, quite alright my dear fell…I SAY!

So, now that I’ve hopefully eaten enough crow..

Figure of speech, figure of speech! God! Don’t look at me like that.

…we can get on with the review.

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Disney Reviews by the Unshaved Mouse #14: Peter Pan

DISCLAIMER: This blog is not for profit. All images used below are property of their respective companies unless stated otherwise. I do not claim ownership of this material. Would you like me to review a particular animated film? I’m currently fundraising for my play Joanna and I need your help! In exchange for every donation of €10 or more I will review ANY cartoon you like. Details HERE.

The rock was very small now; soon it would be submerged. Pale rays of light tiptoed across the waters; and by and by there was to be heard a sound at once the most musical and the most melancholy in the world: the mermaids calling to the moon.Peter was not quite like other boys; but he was afraid at last. A tremor ran through him, like a shudder passing over the sea; but on the sea one shudder follows another till there are hundreds of them, and Peter felt just the one. Next moment he was standing erect on the rock again, with that smile on his face and a drum beating within him. It was saying, “To die will be an awfully big adventure.”

JM Barrie, Peter Pan

I don’t know what it says about me that, on the cusp of my thirties, most of my favorite books are still children’s books. Watership Down, The Mouse and His Child and the inspiration for this week’s movie Peter Pan, by JM Barrie. Peter Pan is at once a rip-roaring children’s adventure, a great work of literature and a haunting meditation on the nature of childhood and innocence. It is a work of breathtaking, melancholy beauty. And yet, unlike many great works of literature, it seems perfectly suited for adaptation to screen (probably something to do with the fact that the story began life as a play). This is a story replete with sumptuous visuals and thrilling action, in the right hands you could make an absolutely fantastic Peter Pan movie. And they did.

In 2003.

Seriously. See this movie.

But that’s not the movie we’re looking at today. This is Disney’s 1953 adaptation. Well, I love Disney. And I love Peter Pan. This can’t go wrong, surely?

Why!? I love Jeff Goldblum AND Flies! HOW COULD THIS GO WRONG??!!

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Disney Reviews by the Unshaved Mouse #13: Alice in Wonderland

DISCLAIMER: This blog is not for profit. All images used below are property of their respective companies unless stated otherwise. I do not claim ownership of this material. There is an audio version of this review here.

 

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Here’s a controversial statement: Revenge of the Sith is my favorite Star Wars movie.

Here’s another controversial statement: I do not care for Lewis Carroll’s classic novel Alice in Wonderland. Never have. I can certainly see how it has some good individual elements, but for me the whole is just a series of bizarre, barely connected episodes featuring an unlikeable protagonist sprinkled with contemporary (at the time) political and cultural references in place of any real plot or characterisation. So basically it’s a nineteenth century Family Guy. 

Yeah. I just compared Alice in Wonderland to Family Guy. Come at me, bro.

But-but-but-but Mouse!” I hear you stammer “What about the iconic characters, the ingenious wordplay, the wonderful illustrations by John Tenniel?”

WHO SAID JOHN TENNIEL!!??

Okay, this is a comedy blog and I realise it can sometimes be a little hard to tell when I’m serious or not so let me make my feelings absolutely crystal clear…

John Tenniel…

…can suck…

…a DICK.

So that must mean I hate the Disney version, right? Well…funny story.

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