laurajv: Don't give me any wild ideas! (Default)
[personal profile] laurajv
So, I had to take a very. long. plane trip recently, and in the process I ended up watching three movies, about which I have some thoughts.

Spoilers below for the live-action Beauty & the Beast, Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, and Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them.



1. Beauty & the Beast. I couldn't finish it. If you're going to make (remake!) a musical, make a musical. If you're not, don't put random halfassed songs in your movie. The Gaston song in the pub was the best part, of what I saw.

The problems are extensive. I feel like I don't understand one single choice the filmmakers made. This doesn't have anything to do with the acting -- all the actors were doing a fine job -- but the overall structure of the film was an outright mess, everything was weird, and I did not like it.

OK, I did like the costuming and casting for the villagers, which I thought made for fun visuals and background scenes and enhanced the Gaston song.

But I shouldn't feel like the entire movie EXCEPT the Gaston song is completely missable, and I do.

2. Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children. So...everyone in this movie did a decent acting job, for the most part*, but there's literally one non-white person in the whole thing and he's the villain. It's Samuel L. Jackson, who was marvelous as always, but it's very noticeable that the only extant nonwhite dude in the entire film is the villain, is what I'm saying, and the character ends up being the weirdest fucking combination of Magical Negro and Evil Scientist tropes.

* Asa Butterfield can't maintain an American accent. Who let those lines get through without overdubbing or something?

3. Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them. By far the best of the three, in that (a) I finished it (b) without being completely weirded out by some particular grossness. It's far from perfect, but here are what the notes I wrote myself at the end said (I'd been awake almost 24 hours at that point, I needed notes):

a. Newt autistic? Cute autistic visits New York, indulges special interest, falls in love?

b. At least this time the black person was the President and not a villain

c. Graves clearly queercoded & scenes w. Credence very charged. Then turned out to be the villain...is it better or worse if he turned out to be a villain we already knew was gay? I mean. I don't know how to feel about this one.

d. Tina and Queenie are SO ADORBS.

To try to expand on those a little:

a. I MEAN. I have no idea if this was intentional? But it looked, to me, like an intentional performance, like Newt is meant to be understood as on the spectrum. I wonder how people who are themselves on the spectrum feel about it?

My personal reaction was that it was a warm and nuanced performance, and it reminded me very much of how a very dear friend (who is herself on the spectrum) tends to approach her friends and her special interests. The performance also, intensely, reminded me of her mannerisms. She isn't the only friend I have on the spectrum, but for me the performance was so evocative of her specifically that I almost can't help but both LIKE the performance AND read it as intentionally portraying a person with autism.

b. New York City should not have been that white. Period. President Picquery wasn't actually the only black person in the movie, either, but she was by far the most prominent. I think they could have done better in this regard but coming right on the heels of Miss Peregrine all I could think was "at least she's not the goddamn villain".

I did kind of have some unpleasant memories of Harry Potter fandom back in the day. Apparently in the US in that time period, magical and non-magical folk were not legally permitted to marry. Leta Lestrange, Newt's former girlfriend, was portrayed by Zoe Kravitz, and none of the US magical folk found that interracial relationship worthy of comment. So of course I remembered that really awful challenge, back in the day, about Muggleborn-Pureblood relationships, you know the one, and I felt like the movie was trying to make an explicit parallel in a way that didn't really work out for me? Like maybe I would have felt it worked better if Tina and Queenie had also been cast with black performers, esp. since Queenie also has a romantic relationship with a non-magical person? I don't know, I have complicated feelings about this, but at least I don't feel like they outright Fucked The Fuck Up, which is how I feel about Miss Peregrine.

c. Before we knew Graves was a villain, I was like "...there have to be 85 million slash stories about Graves on AO3" because he was -- well, the scenes with Credence were, as I said, charged. Then he turned out to be a villain, and I was all "...what the FUCK. You were doing pretty well there, movie, for a hot second", and I remained upset right up until he turned out to be Grindelwald. Because we already knew Grindelwald is gay, so this somehow in retrospect made me less cranky? Maybe because for me Grindelwald's sexuality is bound up with Albus Dumbledore's, and so there is already at least two kinds of queer wizards running around in this world ("complicated manipulative ruthless good guy" and "maniacal supervillain", and "maniacal supervillain" also has a heterosexual representative in Voldemort, and I hate Cursed Child for making me think about Voldemort's dick, but I digress). Also, I think, partly because I was like "oh, well, at least this isn't a NEW queer villain, it's the same one" which...not that I think queer villains are awesome representation or anything...but at least this one already was, so at least he wasn't adding to the Library of Unpleasant Representations of Queer People.

d. It's just nice to see sisterly relationships on-screen that look like sisterly relationships I know. Where two women can be very different in their personal styles and strengths and not be competing or running down how the other one "does" being a woman, but where they genuinely love each other and support each other and where both ways of being a woman are treated as equally valid by the movie itself.
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