A Case Of Mistaken Identity

Oh, you thought I’d be going through my list of ‘things to blog about’ while on holiday? You thought I might write a bit about my trip to Ireland??

 

Meh. I think you have the wrong gal.

(Basically, this post is to say that I’m going to be a non-existent presence here for about a month or so. So please don’t expect anything. Sorry.)

 

But, if there’s anything you’d like to ask or request something, just comment or ask, and I’ll do my best!!!!!

-Let’s call me Lily

 

By the way, Ireland is great. You should visit. (Quite similar to New Zealand though.)

Resolutely Not Sleeping

I left Auckland at 9:30AM NZ time, on Saturday. I flew to Brisbane, during which time the crew forgot to feed me for some reason. I heard a child say to their mother “next time, can we go by boat?”. In Brisbane, I waited for approximately 3 hours as my connection was slightly delayed. Then I flew to Singapore, after which I flew to Abu Dhabi, after which I finally reached my destination; Dublin. Three transits, each for only about 2 hours or so – I couldn’t travel around the airport, and I just got more and more icky and tired.

I slept an amazing 3 hours during this time. I also watched 10 movies, seeing as I couldn’t sleep, as well as finished a book. Now, I am in Ireland, having spent a day doing things, and trying not to sleep before a vaguely decent hour. It feels like it’s been at least 2 days, but in reality, due to time-shifts, it’s probably much less.

Anyway, here’s a quick rundown of the movies I saw:

1) Veronica Mars (like the film of a bad Nancy Drew comic; I think I needed to have watched the show, as it didn’t really stand alone well, and what the hell happened to the boyfriend who she was so devoted to?? Hmmph. Nancy Drew is better)

2) Most of Gravity – the flight stopped with 31 minutes to go, and it wasn’t on any of the other flight, go figure. It was okay. It wasn’t anything spectacular yet.

3) Her; a movie with Scarlett Johansson playing an artificial intelligence who is in a relationship with a mortal man, and then develops and decides to leave the physical realm. I wasn’t too sure of the ending, it was a bit…meh.

4)The Monuments Men – that one was fairly good – about a group of arts men; sculptors and curators etc, who become a team of soldiers tasked with protecting and saving artworks. Based on a true story. And – there were some funny parts too!

5) The Grand Budapest Hotel – that one was slightly wacko. And had Ralph Fiennes in it, and Jude Law – double bonus! I think it by far the best from my selection.

6) Philomena – this is an Irish drama about a woman who had an illegitimate baby and they were separated and there are evil nuns and yeah, it’s based on a book that was based on a true story, and not really my type of thing. Judi Dench though, so I gave it a try.

7) The Dallas Buyers Club – When I start hitting based on true stories, you can tell that I’m getting desperate for options. Nonetheless, I think it did quite a good job at portraying the characters as not to be sympathised with completely, nor romanticised their actions.

8) Divergent – I was pretty damn tired by this time. Yeah, it’s an okay movie. Shallow plot that was utterly predictable. Reminded me quite a bitt of the Cold Awakening Trilogy by Robin Wasserman for some reason, but that had been a much series of books than Divergent was a movie. Maybe that’s what I needed at this stage of the flight.

9) Vaterfreuden (that was a German comedy, it was quite good, I had it in subtitles. There were funny parts. Although the plot was, yeah, rather predictable again.)

10) Captain America 2 (yep, well, I was running out of options there, and I didn’t feel like Rio 2), making it the second time I’d seen the movie. There is a huge plothole that I don’t get. Why the hell does Hill have to shoot the heli-carriers down?? They were no longer controlled by HYDRA – they could have been gently landed and taken a apart for pieces, or helped with the clean-up, or even destroyed at a later date, after Steve was off of it. Why the urgency?

There were no Agents of SHIELD episodes!!!! And no Sherlock!! Or Doctor Who!!! I was disappointed :( Hopefully, there’ll be a selection of movies to my liking – that I haven’t already seen – on the way back.

Dramatic Monologue is Dramatic Indeed

For English every year, a dramatic monologue or seminar is part of the curriculum, and this was mine! It’s lush with exclamations, borrowed quotes and inversed sentences; I hope you enjoy a look into Paulina’s mind (she’s a character from Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale).

Paulina after the announcement of Mamillius’ death in Act 3, scene 2. A freeze-frame monologue that fits in between the aforementioned moment, and her announcement of the Queen’s death, which concludes the speech and links back to The Winter’s Tale.

 

What befalls us now? A fallen heir, my lady swooned; nothing left but a court confused and a wrathful king to rule them.

Leontes’ mind is riddled with disease; a jealousy so strong that it has eaten through reason. To sink so quick into the quagmire of twisted logic; incarnadine Hermione’s rosy lips with the colour of deceit, and so too the actions of Polixenes … had it not been an hour, merely threescore minutes since the three were merrily exchanging affable witticisms in the court? Dissension snuck too bold, for it reared up in Leontes’ mind as guise to friendship, as duty to lust, and ‘ere the king has thrown the queen into an iron trap.

“Speak you”, he charged her, but whilst she may speak her innocence, he doth accept them lies. Thus she speaks not at all, further putting proof into his troubled mind, further giving corroboration of her tongue-tied guilt. Certain of the cuckold’s horns exhibited from whence his hair doth stop, Leontes will not be prevailed upon to halt in his bitter polemics against the chastity of his queen. For in his mind, if women say so, that will say anything but were they false, why then naught Hermione says will cast aside his jealous fervour. Falsely determined betrayal enshrouds his thoughts with violent anger, and vile allegations has he made against the best. He will not be swayed; his reason sundered from his mind.

Claiming nothing to be something! Nothing is what swayed my lord from his preconceived conclusion – not the earnest protestations of Camillo, who wished Leontes be cur’d of his diseas’d opinion, nor those of my dearest husband, he who would hold every dram of women’s flesh as false if ‘tis true Hermione be. Not the eloquent defence of the Lords at my behest! Even the babe, that wholesome evidence for the good queen’s fruitful and unswerving loyalty, did not convince. The print was little, but held truth within it; eye, nose, lip; the whole matter and copy of the father! Nature, which hast made it so like him that got it … well! Even nature was ignored for sightless tyranny. My lord, from ‘pon his throne, casts accusations of paddling palms and pinching fingers, and making practised smiles, though none are seen by us. He believes his perception true, yet if it be so, were it not also true to say that ours would all be clouded? And that be false – ‘tis clear as day!

Yet, knowing this, did I not send forth Antigonus to do Leontes’ crazed bidding? Did I not!?! For though I raged against the deed, I did nothing to derail it. I stood, accepting, by his side as he took the infant from Hermione’s arms and set her on his shoulder; I helped pack food and drink for the long journey to abandonment; and I kissed him goodbye on the day he left. In such a way have I betrayed my queen and my reason, and thus I am struck by wretched evils that rightfully befall me for my sin. For my complicity as bystander I am punished, and ye gods punish well, for am I not now standing by my daughters’ grief and joyless tears? Am I not standing by to see their futures perish? For dear Antigonus is dead. Their future shall be as the good queen’s daughter, and only when she is regained shall our fortunes change.

An ill wind blows through this kingdom’s fields, turning fresh wheat into rotted hay and murmurings into much-bent gossip. Mamillius is listless; cumbered with the tribulations of the imprisoned queen – no smiles light his face whilst his mother languishes in grace. Ne’er the less, he is innocent! He ought not have been so struck, so quick to fasten and fix the shame on’t upon his blameless self. I weep for that dear child’s fate, for too soon did the heavens claim him; too soon did Mamillius fall for sorrow of his mother’s conjured ills. That he should die and leave the throne without successor unseats us all! ‘Tis for sure an omen of disastrous strife, as the Oracle proclaimed: “Leontes is a jealous tyrant”, and the king shall live without an heir till that which is lost be not found. This kingdom needs no more calamity – Leontes, he in madness, he has wrought enough. He must needs a catalyst, for if his path is not revised, nary a thing we’ll do may stop him.  Hasten I, and make such one that will remould his course.

My lord Leontes – the news is mortal to the queen: look down, and see what death is doing!

Harsh Judgement for the Guilty

A potentially PhD-worthy question for today – why is it that the closer it gets to a stressful deadline, the more inclined I am to guiltily, ferociously procrastinate????

 

(I think I’ll go with physics here and blame inertia)

 

Seriously, I have an English exam that’s worth 50% of my grade, and I have to write two essays about four DIFFERENT texts that cannot be repeated, and instead of actually picking the damn texts already, here I am, whining about it on the internet after having spent an entire day doing nothing and watching ice Age 3 with my little sister.

 

It’s like that. Every time I go on the internet, or open my study book, it’s like my brain gives me this image next to something other than what I should be doing, and I look at it and go, yup, sure, might as well. And then I click.

The exam is this Tuesday. It’s in 3 days. Or, to be more precise, it’s in 65 hours and 32 minutes. I am screwed. And I am not doing anything about it, which is the most annoying part.

And please, remember me

A hollow question that deserves no answer

And, please. Remember me; a plea I can’t refuse and dare not think on,

For to ignore it would be deadly and please

Remember that

Should you ask of me to  – please – remember,

I’d shrug you off with shallow shoulders, skimpy smiles and

A silent promise signalled in the air (one that only I would see).

 

So please, remember me, long after we are over and,

Our paths have split, the shared experience is gone and

our lives are intertwined no longer

Will you? Remember me

I’d ask you but I know the answer so I’ll

Remember you, yes all of you

With your sleeves in tatters and your hair in tangles

And I’ll, remember you, wearing jeans a bit too long a tie that’s been pulled far too tight.

Oh, I’ll remember you, remember how we used to sit in trees and swing our legs in time,

Singing lullabies to flowers.

 

I’ll remember you; so please whisper in my ear

That you’ll -

Remember me…

 

(even if I know you’re lying)

Please.

Remember me – if not then I am just

A ghost, of air and skin;

no memories to fill my heart with, no promises to keep it beating

And please, this is just a simple thing,

 

Remember me.

Sergeant James Buchanan Barnes, a.k.a. Bucky, codename: The Winter Soldier.

Oh, you know him? Well, he knows you. He just doesn’t know it yet :P

Be careful, guys, this here is your warning that you are entering SPOILER territory. Does Bucky look vengeful enough to dissuade you? Honestly, watch the movie first, then come back. If you want to come back, that is :)
Be careful, guys, this here is your warning that you are entering SPOILER territory. Does Bucky look vengeful enough to dissuade you? Honestly, watch the film first, then come back. If you want to come back, that is :)

Goodness, Sebastian Stan can pack his acting punches! Having read at least some comics, I am vaguely familiar with the Winter Soldier storyline, and definitely knew that he’d been mind-wiped multiple times and had his personality basically erased (probably through fanfic, if I’m being honest). So I am really curious what someone who didn’t know about Bucky being the Winter Soldier, or even didn’t know that he was being mind-wiped by HYDRA, got out of Captain America: The Winter Soldier, especially given that he didn’t actually have a lot of screen time for the titular character. In fact, what I really want to know was if someone who didn’t know the history of the Winter Soldier, picked up that Bucky was being continuously mind-wiped between missions in that short scene with Pierce and Bucky after he encounters and fails to kill Steve. Because to me, even though no one said it, it seemed so clear. And that was due to Stan’s acting.

I love Bucky’s characterisation so far; I, for one, am so glad that he’s not 12 years old. Or Steve’s sidekick. Although the newer strands of comics, which I’m a tad more familiar with, do portray him more like the MCU version. The power and emotions behind Steve and Bucky’s story comes across much better with Bucky and Steve as best friends since childhood, instead of leader/follower; it puts them on the same level and gives more depth to their relationship. The fact that Bucky was once bigger and stronger than Steve, the person who always cared about and took care of Steve even after Steve’s transformation into Captain America and was saving everybody else. This is really important, because Captain America: The Winter Soldier shows how much Steve needs that – a friend who will back him up and provide the support that he requires; to believe in him, so that he believes that what he’s doing is the right thing. It also, I think, lends more credit to Steve’s reaction at the end of Captain America: The Winter Soldier, as Steve, knowing that he has been taken care of for years, wants to do the same for Bucky now, partly to repay him, and partly because of the deep and abiding loyalty and love that he has for him. It wouldn’t have worked if Bucky was just Captain America’s 12 year old sidekick.

Yep, it was a Batman and Robin scenario going on there...
Yep, there was a Batman and Robin scenario going on there…

Something that I really love about Marvel is their character continuity, wherein they cast an actor in a role, and, for the majority of the time, that actor will stay in their role (a few exceptions are Mark Ruffalo as Bruce Banner and Don Cheadle as James Rhodes, who were recast, but both were markedly well-suited for the job, more than the original choices, in my opinion) for their entire duration in the MCU. I mean, can you imagine a different Tony Stark for each film? In this way, the actors in some ways canonicalise their characters through their stylised performance, as well as depict the development of their characters in a much clearer arc. This is really evident in The Winter Soldier, because we have the strong foundation of Bucky in Captain America: The First Avenger as Steve’s oldest and dearest friend; someone whom Steve loves deeply and looks up to in some ways, as well as a stubborn, charismatic soldier whose abilities are superb and who attracts the dames with his cocky smirk. This makes the change from Bucky Barnes into the Winter Soldier even more dramatic, because the audience recognises Bucky’s face and some of his movements in the Winter Soldier, but his entire attitude to life, the core of his being, has been erased, resulting in a vastly different depiction of character. But, and I stress this point, because that is what makes it such a breathtaking portrayal, there isn’t a ‘new’ character to take Bucky’s place. It is still recognisably Bucky underneath all the brainwashes and torture and experimentation that he has undergone, and it’s all conveyed without words, just the emotion that Stan carries in his eyes. Marvel made the marvellous decision to make the Winter Soldier powerful, strong, yes, but not in control (a bit like Clint Barton under Loki’s power), and in some respects, not aware of the destruction he has wrought because that is a consequence of his mind-wipes; that he is not aware of what he has done and who he has been. The Winter Soldier is a puppet; a broken toy to be used and abused as HYDRA and Pierce wished. This quality was so clear in Bucky’s plaintive, childlike protestation of “but I know him …” and pout, the resignation in his eyes as he prepared to be wiped again, accepting the mouth guard, knowing the pain was coming, but knowing he had no choice. Bucky wasn’t making choices for himself any more; wasn’t his own person, and that was what made Stan’s performance so heartbreakingly devastating.

…. yeah, Sebastian Stan made me feel like Bucky needed a hug.

Run, Bucky! Out of the fire, and into Steve's arms :P
Run, Bucky! Out of the fire, and into Steve’s awaiting arms :P

The Winter Soldier’s costume design was another point in Marvel’s favour. I really loved the way that the cybernetic arm was so smoothly crafted, a fine networking of interlocking parts that could lock together and provide him with a superhuman grip, as well as the way it just fitted onto him – not clunky, but a dangerous weapon that was intricately bound to Bucky and was now an integral physical part of him. Additionally, I always appreciate a comic shout-out, even if I’m not particularly knowledgeable, just because it’s nice to see where concepts are coming from. So while I don’t think that long hair on anybody involved in combat is a very practical idea, it did echo the Winter Soldier’s look, as did the black costume and assortment of weapons. One thing I will ask is: what is up with the smudged eyes? Because in comic-verse, this is one of those flimsy skin-tight masks that totally means that they can’t be identified (cue the suspension of belief), but in the film, it looked like smudged raccoon eyes? I’m not sure if it’s a side-effect because of his goggles or what; I’d really like to know.

Raccoon eyes :)
Raccoon eyes :)

However, in saying all of that. I am really disappointed in the lack of back-story of Bucky meeting with Natasha in the Red Room; that has always been a vital part of their story (and relationship, because the Black Widow and the Winter Solider are an item for quite a long time in most versions), and I was really interested in seeing that modernised and negotiated by Scarlett Johansson as Natasha Romanov. I knew it wouldn’t be explored in depth in this film, but I did want at least a hint that Marvel was going to use it, because 1) it’s in practically every version of Marvel as far as I know, 2) it provides a great link between Natasha and Steve, as it gives them a shared motivation: wanting to snap Bucky out of it (otherwise, as we saw, Natasha would think that Steve is just wasting his time, because she knows intimately that second chances are a risky business) and 3) it was a genuinely interesting back-story that could have led to an origins-type film with Natasha and Bucky negotiating the Red Room, and how Natasha got out of that environment alive. Instead, it wasn’t mentioned at all. In fact, they made up a new story and acted like it didn’t happen – here, Bucky was simply another antagonist that Natasha had faced, albeit one that was more skilled than anyone she’d encountered before. There is a theory going round which tries to assert that as Natasha is an unreliable narrator, she’s covering up her emotional past with this story of being shot and not telling Steve the whole story, which is possible, but a bit unlikely in my opinion, simply because I don’t think that Marvel would want to confuse viewers that much.

One last quibble about the Winter Soldier himself; throughout the film he is described as a ghost, someone who slips past systems and kills and then disappears completely. Well, we don’t really see much of that at all, do we? Instead, we see daylight confrontations, gunfights and dozens of civilian witnesses! I know that this is because such things create more oomph and impact as action sequences, but it would have been nice to see the spectre-like qualities of the sniper in the Winter Soldier – his primary role in comic-verse – to shine through, Maybe it will be covered in the next film in which Bucky is part of? As Sebastian Stan told several interviewers, including here (which offers a very comprehensive look at Stan’s views on the film and his character and the future of Bucky), he didn’t find out that he would be the Winter Soldier until a year ago, and didn’t even know the title of Captain America: The Winter Soldier until it was announced at Comic Con by Marvel; so maybe Marvel is just keeping as much under wraps as possible.

Sebastian Stan’s acting is incredible :D I’m looking forward to seeing more of him. In the seven films that he is still contracted to make with Marvel. I was completely taken aback by that; that Stan had agreed to a nine film contract with Marvel. That’s going to keep him busy for, what, the next decade at least? I hope Marvel makes it interesting, both for his sake and ours.