Category Archives: Square Eyes

Film, TV and the world of visual entertainment

Merida’s Makeover (Or “The Tale of Beautiful Tough Girl”)

Last week, Disney announced its new addition to the Disney Princess series: Merida, the fiery red-headed star of Disney-Pixar’s movie Brave, had made it to the immortal ranks of little girls’ childhoods all around the world. My three nieces absolutely adore the adventurous, bow-and-arrow wielding princess who tries to change her fate of an arranged marriage. She’s tough; she runs around, rides horses and climbs mountains. In the eyes of a little girl? She is totally cool. However, her unveiling to immortality was received with wide criticism.

To be a matching set alongside Belle, Cinderella, Jasmine and Rapunzel (just to name a few!), Merida had a makeover. With a pinched waist, tighter dress and smoother hair, she is also saliently missing her bow and arrows. This caused outrage from mothers, saying that they had “sexied” Merida up, making everything she stands for irrelevant. One person went as far to say that her new look is subconsciously allowing young girls to take in a “sexy, come-hither” attitude.

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Winter is coming: the premiere of Game of Thrones

game of thronesCold rain has fallen in Sydney this week, signalling the end of summer. Yes, winter has come! And, excuse the terrible pun, so has Game of Thrones!

The most anticipated television show of the year has finally aired, smashing records in the US; not only on the ye ‘olde television set but online as well. With the season premiere shown three times in the one night on HBO, around 6.7 million people in the US watched one of the three airings. This doesn’t include more than one person sitting around the TV, so the figure could very well be more.

In Australia, the show is “fast-tracked” onto Foxtel each week. While this next statement could cause arguments in itself, Australia’s free-to-air television has pretty substantial quality on its own without the need to pay for a cable service.

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Derek; m’names Derek: the genius of Ricky Gervais

Everyone has heard of the health benefits of laughter. The average child laughs over 700 times a day, yet the average adult only laughs 7 times a day. With 5 minutes of hearty laughter being worth 20 minutes on a rowing machine, why would you pick the gym over time with friends? So never hold back sharing that funny video at work, it’s exercise!

Comedy isn’t without its controversy though, and Ricky Gervais is a prime example. He is regularly criticised for his work, especially his treatment of good friend Karl Pilkington. But I have always liked Ricky Gervais and I couldn’t understand why until a couple of months ago. I would watch, listen or read his work, feel anxious about his words and wave it off as “not my kind of comedy”. It would then be a day or two later that his point would hit me and I’d go back for more like a drug, insisting that I won’t give up until I understood his intention.

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The Modern Miss Bennet

Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth as Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy in the 1995 BBC adaptation.

One may argue that since the release of the iconic Bridget Jones’ Diary, there has been an over abundance of Pride and Prejudice adaptations. To those people, I say “Yes, you’re probably right, BUT GIVE ME MORE.”

My Austen insanity aside, let’s have a quick look at a few of the more recent adaptations:

Bride and Prejudice (2004) – A surprisingly charming Bollywood retelling.

Pride and Prejudice (2005) – A feature film staring Keira Knightley. It’s still too soon for me to talk about this. Just… I can’t.

Lost in Austen (2008) – An Austen obsessed fan gets sucked into the world of Pride and Prejudice, and whilst trying to maintain the story manages to destroy it in every way possible. I thought this was going to be horrible, but it’s actually incredibly clever and hilarious.

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (2009)Pride and Prejudice. With Zombies. This has been adapted into a game, a graphic novel and there have been talks of a feature film. There has also been a prequel, a sequel and various other spin offs.

Austenland (2007)– Yet another Austen obsessed woman travels to a Jane Austen theme park in an attempt to find her real life Mr. Darcy. There is a film adaptation coming out this year.

The Lizzie Bennet Diaries: breathing new life into an Austen classic.

Last year, Pride and Prejudice made its Vlog debut in the form of The Lizzie Bennet Diaries – a modern story where the protagonist, Lizzie Bennet, shares her life with the internet as part of a grad school project.

The show calls itself an “innovative, original episodic video and social media series produced for the web.” In reality, it’s an addictive bi-weekly retelling of Jane Austen’s most iconic tale, in which Darcy is a hipster, Lizzie is a beleaguered grad student and her mother is an aging Southern Belle just as desperate to marry off her daughters as she was in 1813. Oh, and Kitty is an actual cat. LBD is Clueless for the web generation, and viewers experience the story in real time as Lizzie’s videos get interrupted by her sisters, friends – and a certain brooding hero. Continue reading

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The Rhythm and Hues of Hollywood

Like anyone, I love a good movie or television series.

I was hooked into Lost and Heroes all those years ago. I couldn’t afford any merchandise at the time, being a high school student; but if I could have I am sure I’d still be stuck with figurines and posters. I even named my indoor plant Ando!

Sadly Ando is no longer with us (the plant, not the actor), but it was around to see the Writer’s Guild of America strike occur way back in 2007 and 2008. All of Hollywood was brought to its knees when screenwriters went on strike, demanding better working conditions and ultimately, payment. (As you’ll know, if you’ve watched Lost or Heroes, both of these shows suffered in terms of storyline through the strike.)

It was at this time that YouTube took to the stage. Many television shows created by actors and budding writers in those months came to light through internet distribution. Probably the most notable is Joss Whedon’s Dr Horrible’s Sing-A-Long Blog starring Neil Patrick Harris and featuring Nathan Fillion. Internet distribution meant that people could keep the world entertained without having to be a “scab” and deal with studios, who were the people not paying the writers who create from scratch the product they make money from. That all sounds reasonable, right?

Wait, what’s that sound?

My DVD collection of Spartacus, Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead call to me; heavy with visual effects in every episode. My House Stark scarf is being delivered from the USA as we speak because I’m so in love with the show! I even saw Oscar-winning Life of Pi at the cinema to be sure I got the entire experience.

Yet, I am horribly saddened. The Visual Effects studio that created the amazing CG tiger Richard Parker (above), has gone bankrupt.

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Take Me Holmes: The Modern Sherlock

This week, we welcome Sheryll to the Rubies family! Kuwaiti by birth, Indian by passport, and nomad at heart, Sheryll is a firm believer in the healing powers of a great book, good music, and fabulous shoes. This week, she gives us a beginner’s guide to the fan-girl phenomenon swirling around the latest re-imagining of the world’s greatest detective: Sherlock Holmes. WARNING: Contains spoilers!

sherlock_uk-showSherlock Holmes’ most perplexing modern mystery is not The Hounds of Baskerville or A Scandal in Belgravia. It’s not even the latest ‘How did he fake his death?’ conundrum.

No, Sherlock’s greatest mystery is this: why hasn’t everyone heard about the BBC show already? Sure, it’s been nominated for a bunch of awards and has been mentioned in more than one top 10 list, but ask any regular person on the street if they’ve heard of Sherlock and you’ll get the horrifyingly disappointing response: “Oh! You mean the Robert Downey Jr. one?”

Or maybe it’s just my friends. Note to self: get new friends. Continue reading

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Homeland a flop for Channel 10

The award-winning drama Homeland bombed in the ratings for Channel 10 on Sunday night.

It was part of Channel 10’s “Fast-tracked” Super-Sunday, appearing alongside other so-called fast-tracked US hits as Modern Family and Merlin.

The season 2 premiere of Homeland, starring Emmy award winner Claire Danes, bombed after going head-to-head with the Nine Network’s House Husbands and the ABC telemove Jack Irish, which starred Australia’s very talented Guy Pearce.

But, was Homeland really to blame?

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