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I've had a few movies on my to-review list since I watched them last year, so here is me giving up on writing anything lengthy and thoughtful in order to catch up on all the movies and tv series I can remember watching that I haven't talked about yet.

I'm in the unusual position of having a number of review to-dos stacked up. Rather than scheduling them for the next half dozen Fridays, let's just have some extras now.

There will proably be spoilers in this review, although I'm not really going to be focusing much on plot issues--more just a jumbled collection of emotional reactions. But if you haven't seen the movie and don't want any substantial elements spoiled, don't read this.

OK, are we all still on the same page?

My friends are often frustrated at my resistance to their suggestions of books or movies they think I’d like. “This is just up your alley! You’ll love it! You liked X so you’re going to love Y! I think this is really your sort of thing!” When I don’t want to deal, I’ll point out that I have an enormous to-be-read list already and mumble something about adding it to the list, or I’ll leave my movie-going up to the chance of which movies my friends are getting a group up to see when I happen to be available.

Every once in a while, I see a movie because I don't feel like sitting in traffic. I was feeling rather dragged out yesterday after work, and even after my gym workout the traffic app showed red most of the way home, so I pulled up a movie app to see what was showing in the Berkeley/Emeryville area. Not feeling the love for the latest SFF releases, but one of the local art-house type theaters had an intriguing listing for A Quiet Passion, about 19th century American poet Emily Dickinson and starring Cynthia Nixon (as Emily) and Jennifer Ehle (as her sister Lavinia).

This is a hard movie to review without diving much too deeply into social and political issues that for the most part aren't mine to comment on. Even in the barest summary, alarm bells start ringing: medieval European travelers to China arrive at a critical point in a cyclic invasion of ravening monster hordes to help win a decisive victory.

I was dithering between a fairly cursory review and an in-depth analysis, but fortunately Emily Asher-Perrin at Tor.com has covered almost everything I would have said in the latter. So I'll just mention a few things in addition. (Uh...go read Emily's review. Because otherwise this is going to sound really random.)

This is not an actual blog entry. This is an attempt to troubleshoot the display and feed of blog entries which has gone completely bonkers. Today's blog should be a movie review of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. If you miss it, it's unimportant. (That goes for both the review and the movie.)

I'm fairly picky about which animated movies I see because there are some common tropes that grate on me. And Disney movies that "trespass in someone else's garden" (to use the Alpennian saying) face a high hurdle. I'd seen enough advance discussion and critical evaluation of this movie from people with roots in Polynesian culture to have confidence that, although not without flaws, Moana took cultural representation issues seriously and had worked to have creative staff and consultants from within the culture.

Well, I saw it. Lots of fabulous effects, especially in creating the creatures. But also lots of unanalyzed tropes that felt worse than lazy. The ditzy blonde with the heart of gold. The callously predatory mentor of a teenage boy where the relationship involved enough physical affection to cross the line (for me) into evoking pedophilia. The message that you can be an endearingly dorky guy and still be a hero, but if you're a tormented broken outsider, you have to die.

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