The Swan Princess (1994)

I didn’t see The Swan Princess when I was a kid so I have no happy nostalgic feelings for it. I have almost no happy feelings for it at all, to be frank. It was the stupidest thing I’ve seen in a long time.

Was the whole thing terrible? No… The villain song was good. Still, although I love me a good villain song (Ursula’s in particular), even a great villain song can’t hold up an entire movie.

And no, in case you were curious, the plot is nothing like the plot of the ballet. That’s what I’m told, anyway, and I believe it—in part because I can’t imagine a ballet that would be anything like this movie.

Whereas The Swan Princess seems hopelessly outdated, Beauty and the Beast, which came out three years earlier, seems like a timeless classic. I hesitate to even compare the two, though they are both early nineties princess cartoons. A less unfair comparison to make would be with Thumbelina (1994), which came out the same year… and was also terrible.

Maybe kids like this nonsense… after all, The Swan Princess has like… eight sequels! Still, I think children deserve better.

I don’t think it means what you think it means.

Carousell is a fantastic classified ad platform. It embodies one of my favorite proverbs, “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.”

However, to find the treasure, you have to hunt. There are clues, but sometimes the clues are misleading.

In particular, I’ve noticed that people use words for different kinds of furniture in surprising ways.

There are people who use the word cabinet to describe a piece of furniture when it is clearly a shelf—and vice versa!

Deciding what to call something is hard. Especially if you’ve got more than one language rattling around in your brain.

See below for proof.

Continue reading I don’t think it means what you think it means.

Carouspell: A collection of spelling mistakes in Carousell classified ads

Oral language is a blur. We don’t notice, unless we try to sing karaoke and realize we have no idea what the words to our favorite songs actually are, or—worse—that we’ve been singing them wrong with utter conviction for decades.

Eggcorns (plausible malapropisms) are words or phrases that exist thanks to this kind of ambiguity. Wrong song lyrics, in case you’re curious, are called mondegreens.

On classified ad sites like Carousell, language assumptions that pass unnoticed in speech are made visible. You can learn a lot about the local dialect by cataloging the unintentionally hilarious mistakes that local native English speakers make.

See below for examples.

Continue reading Carouspell: A collection of spelling mistakes in Carousell classified ads

The Lion King (2019)

Okay, Disney. The Lion King (1994) is my, like, second-favorite Disney cartoon. How are you going to handle it? Hopefully with great care.

You want to change the jokes?
Great. That’s a must.

You want to give Nala some kind of “Lion Queen” status, more agency, even her very own second-tier villain?
Fine. Do that. Yay for us wimmin.

But then, you also want to take away Rafiki’s words of wisdom? You’d better have a good reason!

You know what I’m talking about… right?

Continue reading The Lion King (2019)

XKCD Unpopular Positive Opinion Challenge: Speed Racer (2008)

When I saw the Unpopular positive opinion challenge on xkcd, I scrolled through my movie log and looked up a few scattered titles to see what their scores were on Rotten Tomatoes.

The challenge is to find a movie that…

  • you genuinely like (not “so bad it’s good”)
  • came out in your adult life post-2000, and
  • is rated below 50% on Rotten Tomatoes

I didn’t find many low-rated movies that I strongly disagree about. The exception is Speed Racer (2008).

Continue reading XKCD Unpopular Positive Opinion Challenge: Speed Racer (2008)

War Horse (2011)

Next time someone says to me, “The book is always better than the movie,” I can say: “Hah! You have not seen War Horse!”

Stories evolve. Later versions are not necessarily better, and stories told using different media have different strengths and different constraints. Nevertheless, though the movie owes much to both its predecessors—the children’s novel written by Michael Morpurgo and the stage play that uses puppets by Handspring—the movie is hands down the best version.

Why?

The relationships between the characters have been tweaked to support the story better. The story itself has been tweaked to smooth the pacing and heighten the drama. Moreover, the settings shine. A book can describe a setting evocatively, but not every book does. Spielberg’s pictures are worth many more thousands of words than Morpurgo gave us. Meanwhile, the anti-war didacticism, which sometimes upstaged Handspring’s puppets in the play, is toned down to the point that it’s almost absent from the dialog of the movie. After all, on the big screen, the horror of war speaks for itself, and anyway, there are other stories that better show its terrible cost. This is not the story of the lives and deaths of human soldiers, nor even the story of a boy who loved his horse. This is the story of a horse that went to war.

It’s beautiful, and so absorbing that I didn’t realize until after I’d watched it twice that it’s two and a half hours long!

According to the reviews, not everyone likes the old-fashioned “honest, emotionally direct” storytelling, calling it overly sentimental, and some deride it as mere family-friendly entertainment, too clean to be serious about its ostensibly grim subject matter.

I refuse to dislike the movie on those grounds. Is it calculated to be emotionally satisfying? Maybe. But it satisfies, which is more than I can say for a lot of movies.

See below for a short summary, a very very detailed summary (with SPOILERS), a list of the changes I liked in the movie, a list of some of the movie reviews, and a few other thoughts.

Continue reading War Horse (2011)

War Horse by Michael Morpurgo (vs War Horse the stage play)

I knew that the book would be different from the stage play because halfway through the film of the stage play the organizers showed a short “making of” documentary describing the development of the play and its puppets. Just how different, I could only imagine.

Now I know. It’s hugely different.

See below for more on the book’s characters, settings, plot, style, but you might want to read the book first, because it’s short and this post has SPOILERS. You might also want to read my post on War Horse (the film of the stage play).

Continue reading War Horse by Michael Morpurgo (vs War Horse the stage play)

When and Why I Read War Horse

I recently saw a film of the stage play. I wanted to compare the story as it is told in the book.

Genre: Children's Historical Fiction / Animals
Date started / date finished: 31-Jul-19 to 31-Jul-19
Length: 188 pages
ISBN: ASIN B00457WZEI
Originally published in: 1982/2010
Amazon link: War Horse

War Horse (the film of the stage play)

Sometimes the medium is the message. When I watched a Singapore screening of the play War Horse which had been performed in London at the National Theatre, I was underwhelmed by the plot and script but full of admiration for the puppetry that brought horses (and a hilarious goose) to life on the stage. Hats off to Handspring Puppet Company for an awesome performance and the engineering and practice that went into it.

Continue reading War Horse (the film of the stage play)

Carousell, how do I love thee, let me count the ways…

All my life I’ve been a fan of buying second-hand stuff at thrift stores, fall festival charity fundraisers, yard sales, garage sales, and online.

Unfortunately, there don’t seem to be many thrift stores in Singapore, and the few I’ve seen don’t have the variety, quality, or ludicrously attractive prices that their American counterparts do. There is no fall festival because there’s no fall. Practically nobody has a yard or a garage. But we do have the internet.

And what is the internet but a huge marketplace? A marketplace of ideas, yes, but also lots and lots of stuff. I love stuff. And Carousell is a great place to get it. See below for why.

Continue reading Carousell, how do I love thee, let me count the ways…