Kathleen
I had a super nice birthday, complete with presents, for the first time in ages, which was really lovely. I got DVDs of Maleficent, Cinderella, Prom, What's Eating Gilbert Grape, Syfy Alice, The Stand, The Pillars of the Earth, and the complete series of Firefly and Moonlight. I also got this little pretty:


And I finally got my very own funko pop! My family got me the absolutely adorable one of Hook from Once Upon A Time so I now have a little personal pirate to keep me company on my desk.

 
 
feeling: loved
calliope tune: "Green Door"-Jim Lowe
 
 
Kathleen
The episode "Millennium" of The X-Files has always been one of my favorites so I was thrilled to discover it was a crossover with another show of the same title and by the creator of The X-Files. Millennium is a fascinating, much forgotten series in a different vein but with many of the same characteristics that make The X-Files so good. Frank Black, a former police detective who has the uncanny ability to see through the eyes of killers, is a sympathetic and incredibly human protagonist, and his relationship with his little daughter Jordan is adorably precious. The themesong and intro are beautiful, and the episodes, including the stunning "Kingdom Come", are poignant and haunting character studies exploring the motives behind crime. Other excellent episodes include "The Well-Worn Lock", a deeply moving look at a difficult issue, and the haunting "The Wild and The Innocent". I worked my way through season one and am completely captivated by the series. I'm on season two now and lamenting the format changes. The Millennium Group has transformed from good to edging into evil, growing more and more shady with each episode, Peter and Frank are beginning to drift apart, Frank snapped and actually killed a man, and Katherine has separated from Frank, taking Jordan with her, which means the cute father-daughter moments are few and far between and making even the Christmas episode leave a bittersweet taste. Also the lingering end times mythos of season one is more oppressive and far reaching, accounting for better than half of the episodes. Much of the spellbinding plots have been toned down, settling for often confusing and open-ended stories. Not to say there aren't some gems among the rest, though, like the poignant, thought-provoking "Luminary", one of the scant episodes to have a hopeful conclusion as well as an intriguing guest character, and the chilling "Monster" in which a troubled child accuses a daycare worker and Frank of abuse against the town's children and herself. The season's best is the stunning two-part "Owls"/"Roosters", a fascinating mix of religious treasure hunt and Nazi war history which brings some hope in Frank, Katherine, and Peter's separations. The finale was one of the most shocking and bold episodes I've seen on any show, leaving Peter's fate hanging in the balance, Katherine dead, and Frank left alone in a cabin, holding Jordan as everything falls apart. It was good in an intense and chilling way, and I'm more worried about Peter's fate than the loss of Katherine, even as surprised as I am that the writers chose to kill her off. I'm grateful Jordan was spared, though, as I don't think I could have handled that.

I'm on the ninth and last season of The X-Files, now, and the whole show just aches without Mulder. I love Doggett dearly, and he's wonderful, but everything makes me miss Mulder, especially the gloomy tone of the series as it winds down. Monica Reyes is now a regular, and while not one of my favorites by any means, I'm getting used to her. Sadly, the relationship, friendship or otherwise, between Scully and Doggett isn't explored further until halfway through the season, and most episodes team up Doggett and Reyes with Scully a third wheel. Still there's some unique ideas left, such as "4D" in which a murderer is able to shift between parallel worlds, shooting and paralyzing the parallel Doggett in this world and trapping the real Doggett in the parallel world. While Reyes's decision to let the parallel Doggett die to bring back the real one saddened me, I loved the concept of the episode, as well as the twists in the plot. Also there's the poignant "Trust No1" which expands on the supersoldiers story arc by showing they have a weakness, as well as building another chapter in the mystery of little William. The episode made me miss Mulder more than ever, and I wish he'd been in it, if only for a little bit. Doggett gets to shine as an amnesiac stranded in a Mexican town in "John Doe", and Robert Patrick does some incredible, heartbreaking acting throughout, especially during the scene where he relives his son's death. The disturbing "Hellbound" is also one of the season's most unusual and fascinating episodes about a murdered man reincarnated over and over to avenge his death. Doggett is brilliant again in the poignant and original "Audrey Pauley" which features a beautifully sad performance from the title character as well. "Jump The Shark" brings back some much needed humor to the show, and even returns The Lone Gunmen's Jimmy and Yves, but ends on a heartbreaking note when Byers, Langly, and Frohike are killed. I could have dealt with one of them dying, but all three was too much, and even though the writers spared Jimmy I sobbed over losing the others. I like to believe the comic book retcon and think the trio's deaths were faked and they survived. To make matters even worse, Scully gives little William up for adoption to protect him right after the child is cured of his powers. While the couple adopting him was sweet, I teared up through the episode, especially at the end, and it was just one blow too many. Still the episode brought Jeffrey Spender back, a character I grew to really like before his "death" a couple seasons ago, and even as badly hurt as he was, I was glad he survived. "Release" provides closure for Doggett over the loss of his son and Hayes is one of the most fascinating non-recurring characters in a long time. I'm conflicted on the finale "The Truth", though. On one hand there was a lot I loved: Monica's finest moment in all two seasons of her when she stands up to the court, Mulder and Scully together at the end in a bittersweet parallel of the pilot, Kerst helping Mulder finally, Spender and Mulder are confirmed to be half brothers, and all the cameos from past characters - the Lone Gunmen, X, Gibson Praise, Spender, Marita, and even Krycek which left me incredibly emotional and nostalgic. But there was so much more that was never tied up. Doggett and Reyes are left on the run, Mulder and Scully can't visit William, Gibson never can be safe, and the date of the invasion still looms over everyone.

I discovered the wonderful miniseries Alice, a brilliant updating of Alice In Wonderland. Andrew-Lee Potts was fabulous as the colorful Hatter, a completely different character except for an occasional flash where I saw Connor in him, and I loved his take on the role: a mix of quirkiness and sadness, but all completely adorable. I loved his relationship with Alice as she grows to trust and love him. Wonderland was incredibly reimagined and very clever, from the Looking Glass to the bottled and sold emotions, and I loved all the characters, especially the quite hilarious Charlie. After that I watched Tin Man, a clever reimagining of Oz. I loved Glitch dearly, and the brilliant way the tale was retold, with all the elements just dfferently put together. The ending was a little too sugary but I was glad DG and her friends and parents all survived, as well as Cain finding his son back. I also squeed a little over the fact that the parallels for Glinda and the Wizard - DG's mother and father - were married.

I finally got to see Man Of Steel and was left with mixed emotions. There were a lot of changes - I'd expected as much - and it was a very different look at Superman, so while I hated some things I was pleasantly surprised to find some of the changes were actually for the better. Most of the time on earth was reduced to smashing action scenes with little pause for emotion or human moments, with the scenes on Krypton feeling the most personal. While the flying creatures were a bit much, I liked the strange silver robots who projected images. Jimmy was absent without a mention which saddened me, but Perry White was awesome, actually getting to do more than barking at Lois and Clark from behind his desk. I loved how determined he was to save Jenny, and he gave the character depth I've not usually seen. Zod was all right. While he lacked the subtle creepiness and emotional depths of Callum Blue's take on the role, he was evil enough to make Zod seem formidable. Lana was reduced to little more than a cameo, which I didn't mind, and Pete strangely enough started out as a bully, but the biggest surprise was Jor-El who I usually hate, yet in this film I not only grew to care about him but actually rooted for him and was heartbroken when his consciousness died without knowing if Superman was able to stop Zod. My main problem was, strangely enough, with Lois. With all the hype about her character saving his emotionally, I was expecting a strong, 3-d character and a carefully crafted relationship between Clark and Lois. And while the concept of her knowing Clark was Superman right from the start improved things greatly - and I like the film taking Smallville's route of the two knowing each other well before Clark started at the Daily Planet, everything else was very disappointing. Unlike Erica Durance's strong woman with hidden depths, or Kate Bosworth's quiet yet delightfully realistic heroine, Amy Adams's character was flat, reduced to little more than a damsel in distress who gets saved multiple times and does nothing of worth in the film beside force Superman to rescue her. Their relationship felt forced and awkward, and the only scene in which they felt like the Lois and Clark I've always shipped was when Lois comes over and holds him after Zod's death. Henry Cavill was so-so as Clark/Superman. He definitely looked the part and was unquestionably handsome, but his performance felt largely wooden. Only twice, when Jonathan died and during Zod's death did he exhibit any realistic emotion, and the first scene was so out of character, Clark would never stand by and watch Jonathan die no matter what he wanted, that I felt uncomfortable more than sad. Unlike most people I didn't truly have a problem with the writers having Superman commit murder, though, because it felt like a complete expression of how much he cares about the people of earth, and he killed Zod with such sadness that it was one of the few moments he truly felt like Superman. I did love the scenes of Clark as a child playing with a cape, though, and the beginning parts of him drifting from place to place was an interesting and fresh perspective on the character. I watched Spiderman, a refreshingly old-fashioned and incredibly fun take on the superhero. Tobey Maquire did a lovely job as Peter, but my heart went out to James Franco's tragic and flawed Harry Osborn who reminds me so much of Lex in Smallville. I ached for him, and absolutely despised his father in the film; I've rarely been more happy to see a character meet their end. The CGI felt nicely restrained, the theme and photography was soaring, and I grew to love the characters as I never have before. I followed that with Spiderman 2 which was every bit as good as the first one, even if Mary Jane grated on my nerves. My favorite scene was when Peter stopped the train using his webs, and then passes out from exhaustion. It was beautiful and moving to watch the people catch and carry him inside, and promise not to reveal his secret. Then Spiderman 3 which broke my heart to see Harry turn into the goblin. Harry is so very sweet when he's not consumed with hatred for Spiderman, and completely adorable like in the scene where he dances the twist with Mary Jane. It bugs me that Peter never fully explains Harry's father's death which might have mended things before it was too late. Still his grief and determination to save Harry when his heart stops is beautifully done. Harry and Peter were incredible together in the last battle, and I couldn't help sobbing oat Harry's death..so poignant and haunting. Both the actors are superb - and goodness, can James Franco ever cry - and the scene was heartbreaking. Despite that, I loved the ending, very fitting and lovely for the trilogy. After that I gave a try to The Amazing Spiderman, and while Andrew Garfield's Peter is a rougher version than Tobey Maguire's sweet and endearing take on the role and he has no concept of humility, he still managed to grow on me enough to want to see the next film. My favorite scene was when he saved the little boy, and I loved his relationship with Gwen, too, far better than Peter and Mary Jane. On my superhero list I watched Thor, a fantastic film that was equal parts superhero movie and a refresher course in Norse mythology. I loved Thor's journey from headstrong and spoiled egotist to warmth, kindness, and greatness, contrasted with the tragedy of Loki who I pitied and still loathed by turns, as well as being fascinated by his origins. I adored Thor's relationship with Jane most of all, and can't wait for the sequel. In the meantime I watched The Avengers with it's delightfully new to me set of superheroes, and Thor, who I've grown to love, to introduce me to them all. I adored Clint who has a little bit of Oliver Queen about him, and his hinted-at romance with Natasha, and not knowing the character, I was grateful he didn't get killed off after Loki took him over. Steven/Captain America was wonderful, and Iron Man/Tony was hilarious and easy to love. I also really liked the film's Bruce Banner, a kind and soft-spoken person, even if I couldn't warm to the CGI Hulk..I'm too used to the The Incredible Hulk's gentler, more human Hulk, but I did giggle at his scene where he whacks Loki around. I loved how old-fashioned pieces of the film were, just like old superhero films, and the amazing closing credits. I loved when Tony saved the island by flying the bomb, and how Hulk saved him. The team was fantastic together, much like the Justice League, and I hope there's at least one sequel in the works eventually. Then I had to watch Captain America: The First Avenger, and I loved Steve and how courageous he was, both before and after his transformation, like the scene where he falls on the grenade, thinking it's live, to save everyone, and later when he takes off after his friend and saves all the prisoners in the factory. His costume is one of favorite superhero get-ups, and I love how he uses absolutely everything as a shield. Chris Evans is also classically handsome and very old-fashioned looking which, aided by fabulous makeup, clothing, and period detail, helps make things realistic to the time period, despite the sci-fi elements. Then I watched Iron Man and Iron Man 2 and I love Tony..he makes the entire show as I don't find the superhero side of him nearly as fascinating and fun as the human part. I ship Pepper and he so much..they're wonderful together and so sweet, and I adore his holograms and talking computer. Next was X-Men and the excellent sequel X2, my favorites out of the bunch so far, with an intriguing, multi-layered world and characters, especially the mysterious but good-hearted Wolverine. I loved his friendship with Rogue and how he was willing to sacrifice himself for her. The scene where he heals her was powerful and very poignant, and I can't help shipping them just a little. It also made me strangely happy that Hugh Jackman looks like a young Clint Eastwood, and even sounds like him a little! I also loved Scott and his unusual ability, even if he's forced to live behind odd sunglasses most of the film, and Xavier, one of the kindest and genuinely good characters I've seen in a long time. Nightcrawler is also a wonderful caring character, very much unexpectedly so. I love how the films are more about the interpersonal struggles and emotions than just special effects, a unique spin on the genre, with some heavy, powerful moments like the raid on the school and everyone trying to save the children, as well as the people's attitude toward the "mutants". Last was X-Men: The Last Stand, and while I hated and cried over how Scott and Xavier, both characters I loved, were written out, I loved the way it tied everything up. Bobby, someone I'd thought wouldn't make it through the first film alive, thankfully survived and got his happy ending with Rogue. I loved that I got to see more of Kitty, and her friendship with Bobby was adorable. I sobbed for Wolverine, having to kill Jean to save everyone, but I loved how the school carried on and continued, and people seemed more accepting of the mutants. Next was Fantastic Four and the sequel Rise Of The Silver Surfer. I wasn't familiar with the comics but I grew to love the characters, especially the good-hearted Reed and the hilariously endearing Johnny. I loved the unique development of their powers, as well as how they all worked together to defeat Doom. Ben's story arc was especially poignant and I was glad he found some happiness by the end of the first film. I loved how Johnny proved himself a hero in the second film, and I was fascinated by the mysterious Silver Surfer. After that was the fantastic and incredibly underrated Green Lantern. The special effects were dazzling, and I loved the concept of it all, along with the richly imagined aliens. Hal was a loveable, cocky protagonist, and I adored how his humanity made him the best of the lanterns as well as how he destroyed Parallax, and how the others finally came to his rescue. Next was Batman Begins which I surprisingly enjoyed a lot considering I've never cared for Batman. As I expected, Christian Bale was fantastic in the role, and it was a treat to see him playing a superhero. Bruce's relationship with Alfred was beautiful, and I loved the contrasts and comparisons between Bruce and Batman. After that was The Wolverine which, while the weakest X-Men film so far, was still a lot of fun, with Hugh Jackman effortlessly assuming the role of the tortured loner. While I disliked the focus on Jean, I loved seeing Wolverine coming back to life emotionally, paralleled by his death and coming back to life after removing the robot parasite from his heart. His relationship with Yukio was sweet, reminding me of Rogue and he, and I adored seeing Charles Xavier at the end. Next was the original Superman '70s film, and I loved Christopher Reeve nearly as much as Brandon Routh as the character. The concept of turning back time was fascinating, too.

I found another animated film, Rise Of The Guardians, a beautiful and touching fairytale with many whimsical touches. Jack, Bunnymund, North, Tooth, and Sandy were loveable protagonists, as was little Jamie, and the walking eggs and little elves were hilarious. It was equally heartwarming and poignant and I kept smiling and tearing up through the whole film. After that was the fun Megamind. I loved Megamind, such a perfect mix of over-the-top bad guy and superhero, and Metro Man, despite his short role, was hilarious. I also loved Minion and the delightfully happy ending with Megamind and Roxie. Next was the amusing The Incredibles, which, while far from a perfect film, was fun and featured a very cute family of superheroes. I loved each of their powers and how they all fought together. Then I saw Wreck-It Ralph which was quite clever and cute. I loved the candy world of Sugar Rush and the adorable characters, as well as the retro feel of the games. Next was Sinbad: Legend Of The Seven Seas, a gorgeously animated, swashbuckling adventure. I loved Sinbad, his colorful crew including a cute dog, and their mythology-tinged quest. After that was Epic, an imaginative and cute fantasy. I loved the world and concepts of the story, and Nod was adorable. I do wish MK had stayed small, though, as she and Nod were sweet together, but I was happy Ronin survived and he and Nod patched things up. Then I saw the Toy Story trilogy. While not my favorite animated films by any means, and surprisingly dark for kid's films, there were still quite a few cute moments. I loved the clever way the toys were each portrayed, like the etch-a-sketch, Barbie and Ken, or Woody's floppy legs, Woody's devotion to the other toys, and Woody and Buzz's friendship. Buzz's Spanish setting was absolutely hilarious, definitely the best part of the films, and I teared up at the bittersweet ending. After that was the adorable Gnomeo and Juliet. I enjoyed the clever, light-hearted, and even poignant take on the story, and the characters, especially Gnomeo, Shroom, and Featherstone were precious and loveable. Next was Home whose adorable cat and alien won me over, as did the sweet storyline.

I watched the latest version of Les Miserables. Although I was correct in my assumption that the story would feel strange as a musical, and I found the constant singing of lines better spoken to be annoying after a while, there were some very good things about it, too. Some of the music, especially "I Dreamed A Dream" and the barricade boys's songs, were beautiful, and the filming was stunning, showing the poverty yet beauty of old France. Hugh Jackman was brilliant as Jean ValJean, definitely the most layered and realistic portrayal I've seen in all the versions I've watched, and the ending, with him joining those lost, had me in tears. He also, surprisingly, had quite a lovely, expressive voice. While no Marius can ever steal my heart the way Hans Matheson did in the 1998 version, Eddie Redmayne, despite not looking anything like I picture Marius, did a good job with the role, especially with the heartbreaking "Empty Chairs At Empty Tables". His getting injured at the barricade and the sewer rescue were uniquely done, and I was impressed by how realistic and filthy everything looked, as well as the foreshadowed imagery of the coffins as part of the barricade. I loved the kinder, more fatherly image of Jean and Marius, especially the gorgeous "Bring Him Home", but I missed Marius's closeness to Gavroche as the two had little to no interaction unlike most versions. Little Cosette was precious and perfect with Jean, but sadly grown up Cosette's role was reduced to little more than a sweet voice and a few longing looks at Marius. As much as I loved actually seeing their wedding in a version, I was disappointed by how the film treated her character, as well as her seemingly whirlwind romance with Marius, pushing Eponine as the more sympathetic ship of the two with Marius, unpleasantly for me since I've always disliked her. Gavroche was perfect, a cocky mix of adorable imp and little spitfire rebel, and his death, as usual, was one of the toughest scenes to watch, as was the poignant death of the last two barricade boys. Javert, for the first time, had a sympathetic side, and I even felt for him when he pinned the medal on Gavroche's body.

In other new films I saw the hilarious Disney George Of The Jungle, a delightfully tongue-in-cheek comedy that kept me laughing through the whole thing. George was sweet, innocent, and incredibly funny, and I loved his relationship with Ursula. Ape was also amusing, and Shep was precious. It was one of the happiest, most feel good films I've seen in a long time, and the happy ending with little curly-haired baby George made me grin ear to ear. Next was Newsies, a fun and wonderful musical. The period details were impressive and I adored the characters, especially Jack and little Les and the friendship between the boys. After that was Inkheart, a beautiful, highly imaginative fantasy where book characters come to life. I loved Farid - and ship him with Meggie - and the family relationships between Mo, Meggie, and Resa. My favorite character, though, was the fabulous Dustfinger. My heart bled for him at the same time I rooted for him to get home and adored his fire skills. He was quite a complex, fascinating character, too, and I was so glad he got his happy ending. Then I saw Empire Of The Sun, an unusual and deeply poignant war film through the eyes of an English child in Japan during WWII. Christian Bale was amazing as little Jim, going through every emotion and growing so much throughout the film, and his performance had me alternating between smiles and tears. The last parts were especially haunting and the entire film was beautifully done. After that was Pacific Rim, a fascinating concept including my favorite sci-fi trope of mind-melding that didn't quite measure up but with some flashes of brilliance here and there, especially when the focus was less on smashing things and more on the human interest side. I loved Raleigh - I've missed Charlie Hunnam's pretty face - and the film was at it's best when focused on him, showing him from an idealistic young pilot whose brother is killed to a seemingly decades older man called back into action in a last ditch effort to save the world. I liked his relationship with Mako and would love the sequel to explore more of them. I loved Herc, too, and his relationship with Chuck and Chuck's ultimate sacrifice had me in tears, especially when he said goodbye to his dog. Newton and Hermann were amusing in their few scenes, and I was sad about the Russian duo and the triplets who had far too little screentime. I never could warm up to Stacker, though, and disliked him for how he treated Raleigh so I wasn't as affected by his death. The recurring theme of the clock up until the last part where it's finally stopped was poignant. Next was The Mortal Instruments which, despite my watching it entirely for Jamie Campbell Bower, I ended up enjoying. The premise was fun, especially the fascinating idea of runes, and I loved most of the side characters, especially the werewolves. Jace was my favorite, though, showing a lot of character growth and depth across the film. After that was the sweet Sooner Or Later, a film I've wanted to see for ages. Rex Smith was lovely as usual, playing a sensitive singer, and on a shallow note his hair was gorgeous. The story was touching and quite funny in parts, the music was perfect, and I loved the hopeful ending. Next was The Trial, an intriguing legal thriller and excellent adaptation of the book which I enjoyed. Next was A Child Is Waiting, a poignant and deeply moving study of a little filmed subject. It made me cry but I loved it, and thought it was Judy Garland's best film. Next was the heartwrenching '40s version of i>Waterloo Bridge, a beautiful and haunting tragedy. Next was a childhood obsession and my favorite Shirley Temple movie Bright Eyes which I still love just as much.

I'm finished with season five of Wagon Train, now, and the feel was slightly different, with more of the stories taking place in towns instead of on the journey. The cast is still the same, but it's Flint's last season and I'm already missing him, even though I love Coop. Excellent episodes include the fascinating "Kitty Allbright Story", the utterly heartbreaking "Charlie Shutup Story", and the adorable makeshift family saga of "The Clementine Jones Story". The season's best, though, is the wonderful "Dick Pederson Story" which casts James MacArthur as a sweet loner who befriends a fatherless family of little girls and nurses them through an epidemic. Best of all the episode features an adorable ending. Onto season six now and mourning Flint's unexplained absence - a word or two saying where he was would have been nice - but otherwise enjoying it. There's a touch of comedy in the fun "Charlie Wooster Outlaw" to balance out the tragedy of the poignant "Lily Legend Story" which explores Duke's past. Other excellent episodes include "Davy Baxter Story" in which Chris is forced to make an agonizing decision to amputate a young man's arm to save his life, a story in which Tommy Sands gets to shine as the title character, and "Caroline Casteel Story" about a woman rescued from the Indians who returns home to find no one accepts her.

I watched the fascinating and haunting documentary Our Spirits Don't Speak English about the Indian boarding schools and was both deeply moved and horrified at all I learned about a very bleak time in America's history. The personal testimonies were especially poignant.
 
 
calliope tune: "An Old-Fashioned Love Song"-Three Dog Night
feeling: silly