Month: September 2014

The Hangman’s Daughter- Chapter 20

CHAPTER 20: KATHY

 

When she awoke, she was in bed.

Mariana’s perfume was still trailing in the air, and she could smell wisps of it on her clothes and sheets.

Mariana…

She wrestled with the idea of Mariana killing Virgil. Was that the right word?

On the one hand, she knew he deserved it. But then, that wasn’t the reason she had done it. And was it ever right to kill, even a monster like Virgil?

Even as her body ached for sleep her mind was flying, battering itself from one thought to another like a blind bird in a cave. She lay awake, thinking over everything that Virgil had said. To even try to rescue her father, it seemed, was suicide. The Nine Unknown Men would kill her without a qualm if she tried to alter history for her own ends, no matter how noble. In the darkness she gnashed her teeth in anger. It was so unfair. She spoke to herself silently:

I am Marie. I can travel back in time. I can slow time around me. And one day I’ll be able to move across oceans just by thinking it.

Wow. But, say if you wanted to save someone who you loved very much from dying, could you do that?

Well, no.

But, what if you knew that they were in Hell and the only way to save them was by going back in time and warning them, you could do it then surely?

Nope. Can’t. Rules.

Oh. Well, at least you won’t get old.

Um, well actually I will.

Oh. So this time travelling? Is it actually any use at all?

Well. No. No it isn’t.

Right so.

(more…)

Wreckitralphposter

Disney Reviews with the Unshaved Mouse #52: Wreck-It Ralph

(DISCLAIMER: This blog is not for profit. All images and footage used below are property of their respective companies unless stated otherwise. I do not claim ownership of this material. New to the blog? Start at the start with Snow White.)

 

Before we get into Wreck-It Ralph there’s something I want to say.
 
See this? This is Loki.
 
LokiAvengers_1314991333
 
He’s a lying, traitorous, sociopath who brought untold death and destruction on Earth and plotted on several occasions to murder his own foster brother and father.
 
The ladies of the internet love Loki. And you know what? I get that. He’s charming, he gets all the best lines, he’s got a tragic backstory and he loves his muddah. And he’s played by Tom Hiddleston, who’s a right bit of yum. Ladies of the internet? I get it.
 
See this? This is Turbo.
 
Turbotastic
Y’all are fuckin’ nuts.
 
***
 
I’ve mentioned before how Disney movies often take their sweet-ass time from conception to release (for example, the movie that eventually became Frozen was first conceived in 1937) and Wreck It Ralph is no exception. Disney first toyed with the idea of making a movie set in the world of video games (then titled High Score) all the way back in the 1980s, back when you could be forgiven for thinking that these new-fangled “video games” were just a passing fad that would soon be swept aside by the next big thing.
pogs

In hindsight, Disney dodged a bullet by not green-lighting POGS: The Movie.

 
“What?” I hear you cry (Mouse hears all) “Disney almost made a movie about video games thirty years ago.” Of course they did. This was eighties Disney. Desperate, starving, try-anything-to-seem-relevant Disney.
 
Make-a-pact-with-the-forces-of-pure-evil-for-a-chance-of-making-some-bank Disney Oh-God-what-were-they-thinking? Disney.

Make-a-pact-with-the-forces-of-pure-evil-for-a-chance-of-making-some-bank Disney
Oh-God-what-were-they-thinking? Disney. 

And frankly, I don’t think we missed out on anything. I’ve mentioned already how I feel that some movies in the canon were made in the wrong era. For example, I will eternally lament the fact that the Peter Pan we ended up with was the pastel-coloured, safe, stultifyingly conservative Restoration era movie we got and not the gorgeous, dark, wild, Tar and Sugar movie that might have been. Wreck-It Ralph is not one of those movies. Wreck-It Ralph is like a wizard. It was neither late, nor early. It arrived precisely when it needed to. Firstly there’s the animation. I’ve made my peace with the notion of CGI canon movies. They’re here to stay, they can be done very well and I just have to live with it. But while I would have loved to see a traditionally animated Frozen or Tangled I can’t say the same about Wreck-It Ralph. This movie needed to be in CGI because, duh, these are computer generated characters. A cel-animated Wreck-It Ralph would just feel wrong. But aside from that, the world of computer games is just such a deeper subject for exploration now than it was in the eighties. There is a culture and lore and mythos to be mined that just wasn’t there thirty years ago. The whole medium is a thousand times broader and more diverse, and in fact some of the very best stuff in this movie is seeing character from vastly different generations and genres of game reacting to each other.
But was the movie worth waiting thirty years for?
Yes. Yes it was. Let there be absolutely no mystery of suspense on that point.
But just for hoots and chuckles, let’s take a look at the film.
 

(more…)

A long overdue thank you.

So huge thanks to everyone who voted for Unshaved Mouse in the Blog Awards. Voting’s now closed and we came in a very respectable fourteenth place considering the very broad and strong field (Irish Blogging. Serious Bidniz).

Congratulations to the top ten winners, may your readers be loyal, your hits many and may death come swiftly to your trolls.

Thanks again guys, the support is hugely appreciated as always.

Mouse.

The Hangman’s Daughter-Chapter 19

CHAPTER 19: VIRGIL

 

There was a great yellow moon sewn into the black and grey fabric of the night sky and the path ahead of the two men was a golden thread, leading them home.

“I hear there was a murder.”

“Yes.” Luke replied “Our magistrate.”

“I’m sure you’re all distraught.” said the youth tonelessly.

Luke did not reply, not wishing to lie, but not wishing to show disrespect for the dead.

“Did they catch the murderer?” and again the words were passionless.

“No.”

“Do you think they will?”

“I don’t know.”

The youth snorted at this, as if it amused him.

(more…)

My friends, the time has come for begging.

Okay guys, we’re now down to the wire for voting for the Blog Awards Ireland and Unshaved Mouse is now only a few (hundred) votes short of getting into the final ten. You know, some might think it’s impossible to get that many votes in three days. But I know you’ll simply consider it a challenge, because you are without fear.

If you got a mo, any votes would be most welcome. The link awaits beneath. Thanks guys.

Blog Awards Ireland

The Hangman’s Daughter- Chapter 18

CHAPTER 18: LESSONS

 

 

There is a way of waking up that cannot be bettered.

That way involves being woken by sunlight coming through the curtains, and slowly coming to consciousness like rising from the bottom of a warm bath. You spend a few seconds as a blank slate, waiting for the memory of who and where you are to return. The bed is soft and just warm enough. And then the smell of eggs, bacon and toast wafts up from the kitchen.

Marie woke up this way, and knew at once that it was going to be a good day.

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ian_paisley

Rev. Ian Paisley (1926-2014)

News has broken today of the death of Reverend Ian Paisley, former First Minister of Northern Ireland, founder of the Free Presbyterian Church of Ulster and former head of the Democratic Unionist Party.
And that is about as much as anyone on this island will be able to agree on.
Paisley’s legacy is…
Wow.
When we consider the life and times of Ian Paisley we must first Jesus Christ where do I even start?
Eulogies of people like Paisley are a tricky thing. You have to be truthful, but, at the same time lambasting an 88 year old man whose bones have not even been laid to rest is neither brave nor decent. I suppose all you can do is try to be fair. So, here it is.

(more…)

gauntlet

Challenge…extended.

See this guy here? This is my brother John. And he’s basically just been crowned King of the Impressions in Ireland.

(Fair warning, a lot of the celebrities he impersonates are Irish so you’re just going to have to take my word for it that he nails them to the frickin’ wall)

Since uploading this video he’s become something of an internet sensation. I’m very proud of him naturally, but as his older brother I feel it is my duty to make sure that he doesn’t get too up himself.

Also, I owe him for the time he broke my collarbone. And the time he split my head open with a rock. And the story that he told in his best man’s speech about the encounter between me and that Moldavian hooker that was nothing but a tissue of half-truths from beginning to end.

So, John, I’m calling you out.

An Impression Off. You versus me. Man versus Mouse. 25 characters chosen at random.

The winner gets bragging rights and the loser’s share of the inheritance.

You in? Or are you going to show them that your best impression is of a certain farmyard animal?

chicken

“He’s insulting both of us!”

Oh, and just FYI, the impression that you say is of Young Biff is actually Griff, his grandson from Back to the Future 2.

Tsk, tsk, tsk.

 

"Youre getting sloppy, Mouse."

Labyrinth (1986)

 

(DISCLAIMER: This blog is not for profit. All images and footage used below are property of their respective companies unless stated otherwise. I do not claim ownership of this material. New to the blog? Start at the start with Snow White.)
Sigh.
Some days are harder than others in this job unpaid perpetual indentured servitude.
This review came about because one of my very, very closest friends donated embarrassingly generously to Joanna and simply asked that I review a beloved childhood movie of hers, Jim Henson’s Labyrinth.
And now I’m going to crap all over it because I’m classy like that.
Oh, and she’s just announced that she’s engaged (Congratulations Fleur!).
Sorry.
Sorry to everyone who loves this film and I know there are many of you. Sorry to fans of David Bowie and Jim Henson (of which I consider myself one on both counts). Apologies to all you ladies out there (and a not inconsiderable number of you gentlemen) for whom the sight of David Bowie in those pants was your Leia in a Gold Bikini.
This is one nostalgia wave you must surf alone while I sulk on the beach complaining about the sand up my crack.
Don’t like it. Never have.
Labyrinth came about during the filming of Dark Crystal when director Jim Henson and concept artist Brian Froud started throwing ideas around for a movie that would be similar to Dark Crystal but maybe a tad less traumatising for the man cubs. Froud is an absolutely phenomenal fantasy artist, but unfortunately his work is often little more than pro-fairy propaganda, and I cannot recommend any artist who’d try to burnish the image of those baby-snatching, milk souring, potato mooching, cow-hassling little mother…
Sorry, sorry. I swore when I began this review I wasn’t going to let this turn into an anti-fairy screed.
Anyway, Labyrinth began and remained to the end more of a showcase for Froud’s designs and the Henson company’s animatronic wizardry than a real attempt to tell a story. The movie is really just another entry into the surprisingly large genre of “young girl enters a strange land, makes some weird friends and sees some craaaaaaazy shit man”, joining such other exemplars of the form as Alice in Wonderland, The Wizard of Oz and that time your older sister went backpacking in Amsterdam.
David Bowie was cast as the Goblin King Jareth, over other possible choices like Sting and Michael Jackson. Michael Jackson as the Goblin King is one of those things that could have gone very, very right or very, very wrong but on the whole I think they made the right choice with Bowie. He’s still not my perfect casting for the role though.
Dr-Frank-N-Furter-the-rocky-horror-picture-show-1716659-500-590

I should be a casting director. I should live in Hollywood and have a big house and a fancy car.

George Lucas produced, Bowie provided songs, Monty Python vet Terry Jones wrote the script and the puppeteering features work by veterans like Jim Henson and Frank Oz. A lot of talented people and George Lucas worked on this. No question.
So what’s my beef?
Let’s take a look.
***
So the movie opens with a barn owl flying over the credits in what is actually the first ever attempt at rendering a photo-realistic animal in CGI in a motion picture. It always bowls me over to think that, far from being new or cutting edge, computer animation has been used in film for well over three decades now. As 1980s computer animation goes it’s…not at all bad actually. I mean, it’s clearly CGI but the animation is fluid and realistic and it actually holds up pretty darn well.
In a park, Sarah (Jennifer Connolly) is running around in a white dress and talking guff about goblins.
I…honestly have no idea what she’s doing here. She’s fifteen years old and playing by herself in a park. In costume.
Is she role-playing? Rehearsing a play? Feigning madness to catch the conscience of the king?
I have a theory that Sarah is actually in a constant state of delusion and that the movie and all the stuff with the Labyrinth that happens is just what she does every single day. Connolly of course went on to have a long and fruitful acting career but here she’s…a very nice young lady who’s doing her best. Alright, I know that acting almost entirely with a cast of puppets is a real challenge for any actor, but honestly I think she’s actually better in scenes where she has to interact with the various denizens of the Labyrinth. When she has to carry a scene on her own though, things get iffy. There’s some really weird line readings. Like when she hears the town clock ringing and yells “Seven O’Clock! It can’t be!” and it’s less like that she’s surprised that it’s that late and more like the very concept of seven o’clock is unthinkable because she was always taught that the clock only goes up to six.
Anyway she runs home and her parents are angry with her because they’re going out tonight and they need her to babysit her baby brother Toby. Toby, incidentally, is played by Toby Froud, Brian Froud’s son. He was originally called “Joey” in the script but they had to change the character’s name because Toby would only react to his own name on set.
Brando used to pull shit that like that all the time.

Brando used to pull shit like that all the time.

Sarah is super pissy that this baby sitting gig has called her away from LARPing solitaire and her stepmother essentially says that at her age she should be out getting laid.
"Its the EIGHTIES for Gods sake! Do some coke! Live a little!"

“It’s the EIGHTIES for Gods sake! Do some coke! Live a little!”

Her parents chew her out for causing them to be late and she goes to her room and throws herself on the bed in a huff because nobody gets her.
Youre nuttier than squirrel poop, whats to get?

You’re nuttier than squirrel poop, what’s to get?

I admit that I use to feel sorry for Sarah when I saw this movie as a kid. Now of course, I have a baby of my own and know that unreliable babysitters deserve only tortures not seen since the darkest days of the reign of Caligula.
Toby wakes up crying in the middle of the night and instead of, y’know, comforting him, or changing him, or feeding him Sarah goes in and just yells at him for five minutes and I really, really don’t like this scene at all. One, because it establishes Sarah as such a horrible person that I really can’t root for her after this and two, because Toby Froud doesn’t have a fucking clue why Jennifer Connolly is yelling at him and is clearly just freaking out.

Sarah tells the kid a story about a beautiful young girl whose horrible baby brother was carried away by the Goblin King. Somewhere, in some dark nether-realm, an army of filthy goblins springs awake.

Kinda like what happens whenever someone mentions misogny on the internet.

Kinda like what happens whenever someone mentions misogyny on the internet.

The Goblins listen intently  as Sarah says “I wish! I wish! I can bear it no longer! Goblin King! Goblin King! Wherever you may be take this child of mine far away from me!”

The goblins complain that “it didn’t even begin with “I wish”” and I gotta say, I think the Goblins are being overly generous to Sarah here. I mean sure, it’s not a complete sentence but I think any reasonable judge would rule in their favour if they just snatched the kid there and then.

Anyway, Sarah finally does make the wish and leaves the room and as soon as she closes the door the baby stops crying, and I’ll admit it’s an extremely creepy moment.

Sarah goes back into the darkened room to find Toby gone and finds herself face to face with the Goblin King (David Bowie, at his very Bowiest). I’ll admit, I love Bowie’s performance here, even though I’m not sure you could exactly call it great acting. It’s kind of like the performance a lot of actors give in Muppet movies, not exactly mugging for the camera but very clearly in on the joke. There’ s no denying that the guy has incredible charisma though, and it doesn’t hurt that he’s sporting a package that would be the pride of a male pornstar or indeed an internet critic.

The Fremen call it “Shai-Hulud”. The Old Man of the Desert.

The Fremen call it “Shai-Hulud”. The Old Man of the Desert.

Sarah begs him to let her brother go, saying that she was actually just joking and Jareth reveals that as well as being king of the land of the Goblins he is also Emperor of the Confederated Realm of No Backsies. Jareth tells her that if she wants Toby back she’ll have to make her way through the labyrinth to his castle in thirteen hours.

Jareth then disappears and Sarah sets off on her journey, saying “C’mon feet!”
She’s talking to her own feet.
"Wow. Shes craaaaaazy."

“Wow. Shes craaaaaazy.”

"You said it buddy!"

“You said it buddy!”

At the entrance to the labyrinth she meets Hoggle, a dwarf, who’s spraying fairies with flit and oh yes, again! Again!
Now step on em! Crush their little heads!

Now step on ’em! Crush their little heads!

Sarah, feeling sorry for the gold-hoarding little shits actually picks one of the fairies up which then bites her and Hoggle asks what she expected from a fairy.  Yes. Yes! Exactly! It’s them or us, listen to the dwarf!
I’ve got to make mention of Hoggle here because, as well as being remarkably clear-eyed about the fairy menace, he’s an absolutely amazing effect. Apart from the design, which is a perfect rendition of Brian Froud’s style, Hoggle was achieved by having little person actor Shari Weisner portray his body movements while essentially wearing a robot face controlled and voiced by Brian Henson (it was originally going to be Terry Jones doing the voice but that ended being too much hassle). It looks gorgeous.
Gorgeous.

Gorgeous.

Hoggle shows her the way into the Labyrinth and then leaves her to it. At first Sarah doesn’t know what to do because the Labyrinth actually seems to be more of a corridor that just goes on and on without any turns (and I gotta admit, as a way of keeping people out of your castle, that’s a pretty good labyrinth). Fortunately, she’s helped out by a friendly worm who shows her a hidden entrance and she’s on her way.
Meanwhile, in the Goblin King’s castle, Toby won’t stop crying because he’s a baby surrounded by a bunch of creepy ass Goblin puppets and I don’t like this. This kid’s not acting. He’s a one year old baby who’s obviously really scared and they filmed that and put it in a movie for our entertainment and I do not like that.
Anyway, to shut the kid up Jareth sings Dance Magic. and tells the goblins that they remind him of the babe.
"What babe?"

“What babe?”

"The babe with the power."

“The babe with the power.”

"What power?"

“What power?”

"What power you ask? How about the power of flight? That doing anything for ya? That's LEVITATION homes.."

“What power you ask? How about the power of flight? That doing anything for ya? That’s LEVITATION homes.”

"What are you talking about?"

“What are you talking about?”

"I...think hes talking about Power Girl."

“I…I…think he’s talking about Power Girl.”

The babe with the power.

The babe with the power.

Bowie is awesome in this song. His goblin backing vocalists are not however, and they really drag the song down. Other than that this song is only really memorable for the scene with Bowie throwing the baby high into the air.

Yeah. I could definitely see Michael Jackson playing this part.

Yeah. I could definitely see Michael Jackson playing this part.

Meanwhile, Sarah comes to two doors that are guarded by Scottish accented moustachioed camels (one of my favourite Saturday morning cartoons from the eighties incidentally) and has to solve a version of the Liar’s Riddle. This scene I actually really like, Connolly seems more engaged in her performance and it actually shows Sarah using intelligence to solve a problem rather than trusting to blind luck. If the movie had done more of this (I say “more” because it does do some) and actually showed how Sarah’s character learns and becomes a better person through her struggles in the Labyrinth I think it could have been a much better movie. The potential is definitely there, and shines through a lot of the time, but the script really needed more work to make the story more about Sarah’s journey rather than a random series of shit that happens to her. Anyway, she chooses correctly (I think?) and falls through an endless tunnel of grabbing hands.

Poor girl. Like travelling on an Italian subway.

Poor girl. Like travelling on an Italian subway.

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The Hangman’s Daughter- Chapter 17

CHAPTER 17: THE TOWER

 

Mariana stared at the spot where Thomas had been standing only moments before. There was nothing, no charred bones, no smouldering teeth. The lightning had melted the weather vane to black, dripping slag, and the thatch had caught fire and was hissing in the pelting rain.

Mariana crouched down, desperately searching the burning thatch for any trace of the Thief’s son. The flames died. And then there was nothing. Gone. He was gone.

“Oh no.” The old woman said under her breath “Oh no, no, please no…”

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