Milan's The Heiress Effect. Book 3 of Brothers Sinister series. Two unusual leads that make this story crackle and pop. Jane and Oliver are better together then apart. They figure it out and it's entertaining making the journey with them.
What I'm reading now
Ransom Riggs. Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children. YA. Supernatural of sorts. So far it's likeable and entertaining. I'm almost half way into it. I confess I'm reading this because a movie is coming (with Eva Green as Miss Peregrine) and I wanted to read the book before the movie spoils me.
What I'm reading next
Something from my to read shelf of borrowed from the library books. It's almost overflowing.
What I bought/got from the library this week
Cory Doctorow's graphic novel In Real Life.
A Georgette Heyer's early work in ebook : These Old Shades.
Anyway I bring this up because Colorlines (racewire_feed, great source, I recommended trying it out) linked to this interview with Naomi Ko, who has one of the roles I loved an wished had been more developed. (Mostly she's there to deliver one liners or horrified facial expressions.)
Ko is quick to point out that the same millennial qualities that make the generation so creative bleed over into a new type of racism, a subtler, less conscious kind. And no, don’t call it a “microaggression”—she hates that term because it downplays the fact that the acts are still aggressive and racist, regardless of whether the individual performing the act is aware of that fact or not
One of my Yuletide requests has an offer that isn't from me, so that's a relief. I'm matchable. Ten or so of the fandoms I offered have requests, too, so I'm matchable that way, too. I probably won't edit my sign up unless I panic about the possibility of matching on one of the fandoms I've offered. I've been pretty lucky in years past to have matched with people who wanted gen. That luck won't necessarily hold. There's at least one fandom I didn't offer because I was afraid, given the nominated characters, that the nominator was interested in a ship I couldn't see (and I may be wrong-- They may want gen. It's possible).
I need to make banana bread, but I also have to go out in an hour and a half for an eye exam (which I have put off for years and really need), so the banana bread may not happen until after Cordelia's home. Hopefully, I can get myself moving on it. It would be a shame to waste the bananas.
Starting on Monday, Scott's going to be on third shift for two weeks. Third shift is very short handed (hence a lot of overtime to cover), and each person from first shift has to take a turn working third shift for two weeks to help out. I suppose I should view it as a test run for if Scott gets the supervisor job on third shift. I'm worried that Scott won't get enough sleep, that weekends are going to be difficult, and that all of our ordinary errand running and such will be much less likely to get done. Scott does a lot of things on his way home from work right now, and coming home at 7 a.m., a lot of those things won't be possible. He'll have to make special trips out.
On Monday, Cordelia brought home a violin instead of her viola. She never practices at home, so she didn't notice until last night. I hope the boy whose violin she took didn't panic (or, as is more likely to have been the problem, that his parents didn't panic). She took the violin in today, so he'll have it back.
I probably ought to be encouraging Cordelia to practice her viola. I just forget. Music of that sort isn't habit in our family. I listen to music (so, I believe, does Cordelia at least judging by what I sometimes hear from her room), but I've never played an instrument. Scott has, but I don't think he realizes that Cordelia doesn't practice.
Last week, Cordelia had a math test and failed it. She was more than a little freaked out because she's used to this stuff coming easily. There's a retake this Friday, and we're trying to help her prepare for it. The subject is order of operations, and she has real trouble remembering what to do. She's got parentheses down pretty well, but remembering to multiply and divide (and specifically figuring out which numbers to multiply and divide) before adding and subtracting is much harder.
The school gave us no guidance at all on studying for the retake. Scott had to find a website with practice problems. They're pretty good except that they don't include exponents. I looked for practice problems, but the site I found (which looked wonderful) had things formatted badly. The PDF printed with hollow squares in place of every mathematical symbol.
I hope that the teacher would have given us some help if we could have persuaded Cordelia to ask. Cordelia refused point blank to even consider asking. She's going to have to get over that. This isn't likely to be the last time she needs help, and we won't always be able to cover.
( More detail. )
Mirrored from Words, words, words, art..
“Candyman” is a classic horror movie about racism, abandonment, and Chicago.
I grew up in a really religious household, although I didn’t realize it at the time. I went to Mass every Sunday and Holy Day of Obligation, I went to Catholic school from second grade (CCD classes prior to that) through High School. The way I was raised just felt normal. Most of my friends were Catholic, or came from conservative families, or both. My parents were a little stricter in some ways than my friends’ parents, and I felt very little desire to rebel against them (out of very real fear of rejection/abandonment. Ironically, I got thrown out of the house for doing laundry at the wrong time and not for any petty teenage rebellion or high spirits. In retrospect, I could have lived it up a lot more and gotten the same result.). So when my parents banned almost every movie in existence, I didn’t really question it or try to sneak around to watch them. The upshot is that there are a ton of classic movies I have never seen. “Candyman” is one of them.
“Candyman” is a movie set in Chicago. Like the best urban fantasy and horror the city is a vital, integral part of the story. It’s almost a character in its own right. The movie opens tracking vehicles along the knotted tangle of expressways, moving from the South Side Northwards. Views of the luxurious high rise condos of the Gold Coast through protagonist Helen Lyle’s window; the cop car tooling down Lower Wacker Drive; Cabrini-Green, the setting of much of the horror; the University of Illinois at Chicago, pre-extensive external renovations; the bridges spanning the cold murky depths of the Chicago River; Stroger Hospital. Part of the character of Chicago is racism and segregation, and the movie digs much more deeply into issues like systemic racism and sexism than I was expecting.
Grad Students Helen Lyle and Bernadette Walsh are working on a thesis about Urban Legends, back when your average college student didn’t know what Urban Legends were. Helen’s husband, Trevor, is a professor at UIC. Despite her protests, he touches on Urban Legends in a lecture, cuing in potential interviewees/story tellers about what Urban Legends are and how they spread. He’s also very flirty with a female student, something he seems to have a history with. While transcribing tape recordings about a Bloody Mary-esque character named “Candyman” in her office, a cleaning lady mentions she’s heard about him. Intrigued and hungry for more data, Helen asks her and then another cleaning lady (who lives in Cabrini-Green) questions. They tell her a story about a woman who was killed by Candyman when he came in through her bathroom mirror… waiting in an adjoining apartment, removed the mirrored medicine cabinet, kicked her mirrored medicine cabinet out, and came through the hole. Helen does a bit of research and discovers that this is an actual thing that actually happened, and that the Housing Projects were so poorly made that the medicine cabinets were just set into holes in the cinderblock walls. There was nothing, no barrier, between the medicine cabinets. The victim called the police twice about the intruder, called 911 to report a break in, and was ignored.
I want to point out two things here:
1) Bernadette and the cleaning women are all Black, and the film passes the Bechdel test with wildly flying colors. Helen listens attentively to the cleaning women and treats them as experts in their knowledge, learns from them… but she’ll also be profiting from their story in a way they can’t, as she has access to academia and publishing and they don’t.
2) The bit about the congruent space between bathrooms? True. People WERE murdered by intruders punching through the bathroom cabinets. “Candyman” is based on a Clive Barker short story, a story written by an Englishman and set in England. Bernard Rose, another Englishman, wrote the script and directed the movie and did a fantastic job localizing the story. At the same time, he’s a white man who is literally profiting off the pain of Black people, sensationalizing actual horrific things that actually happened to actual people and making money off them in ways the people who experienced these things don’t have means of doing. Themes of abandonment thread their way through the film: people call 911 and are dismissed; Helen calls her husband for help and he’s off fucking a student; Helen and other people scream for help and are ignored; Trevor abandons Helen for his sexy perky-nippled student; multiple housing projects holding thousands of people are left to rot and decay, those within written off as unsalvageable human trash.
After a smug, condescending lecture from another man doing Urban Legend work, Helen decides that she and Bernadette are going to gather some first hand data and visit the Cabrini-Green projects, interview some residents, take some photos. This is a shockingly bad idea and Bernadette, who has actual brains in her head, does everything she can to convince Helen not to go. The two women wind up going together. A resident points out that every time white people come by bad things follow them, and this is very true as Helen’s actions rile up Candyman and cause problems for everyone, including herself.
The “real” history of Candyman, which omits his name and date of birth or death, is an absolutely unrealistic bit of unlikely circumstance and convoluted torture and murder, yet is told as unassailable fact by a man who studies Urban Legends and their hallmarks. The Urban Legend of a man breaking through a medicine cabinet is revealed to be true. UIC, a campus rich with Urban Legends of its own (both legends common to any campus with heavy use of Brutalist Architecture as well as more specific ones relating to the Behavior Science Building and Art and Architecture Building), is a wonderful choice as Helen and Bernadette’s college. Helen is attacked, but is not sexually assaulted or raped; she undresses on camera and it’s not titillating or voyeuristic. Her friendship with Bernadette is deep and loving. Helen repeatedly crawls through small openings, emerging from screaming mouths, born again from concrete birth canals. Helen fights to retain control of herself, of her mind, of her actions.
“Candyman” also explicitly questions the function of Urban Legends. Why are they so wide spread? Why are they so important? What do they mean, what do they offer? What if they are religion, a sacrament, something sacred and divine? What if we create god? What if our desires and fears manifest themselves as power and flesh, and become hungry? What if Urban Legends grant a special form of immortality?
It’s a fantastic movie.
It’s also not without its flaws.
One of the themes of the movie is that Candyman, a large Black man who is literally not human, preys upon and controls a white woman. He ruins her character, destroys her mind, posesses her, touches her body, kisses her. This is a pretty common, and pretty racist, fear about scary Black men despoiling white women. This could have been avoided by casting Helen Lyle as pretty much any ethnicity other than white, even made less obvious by darkening her hair. Urban Legends and stereotypes about sexually insatiable white-virgin-deflowering Black men abound. Does the movie knowingly play with this trope, or simply lazily fall prey to it?
Ultimately, I was pretty blown away by this movie and wish I’d watched it earlier. I was aware of its status as “cult classic,” and all too often that means “kind of shitty and very dated” (and so much about this movie IS dated, like UIC’s East Side architecture which as drastically been changed, or the fact that most of the housing projects have since been torn down and the ones close enough to the Gold Coast developed as luxury condos… which were supposed to be mixed-use with a certain percentage going to CHA (Chicago Housing Authority) tenants. That has overwhelmingly failed to happen, and a whole lot of people have been left homeless.). But there’s a lot about this movie to enjoy, to think about, and to unpack.
In my personal rating system for 31 days of horror, 5 stars means “buy this movie, it has good re-watch potential”; 4 stars means “rent this movie, watch it”; 3 stars means “find this movie for free, eh”; 2 stars means “skip it”; and 1 star means “ugh.” I’ve run across one movie that I thought deserved negative stars. “Candyman” is the first movie I felt deserved 5 stars. There’s a lot going on.
5 out of 5 stars for “Candyman.”
I’m really glad. I was getting super burned out by shitty, hateful, shallow gore horror and flapping tits.
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(For the record, she was also very much against this science sequence. I haven't talked to anyone who is FOR it.)
2. Our local high school has a block schedule; they take three or four classes each semester for an hour and a half each instead of six-seven classes for 45 minutes each. I have been told by coworker's wife that most people really like this system, and I believe it. I think in particular that for strong students who can easily handle that kind of information density, it's probably a great thing.
For C. it is a disaster, especially for physics, because we are barely keeping up with the flow of information. I'm struggling to keep us up with the stuff they do in class, so that I have been completely unable, except in small bits around the side which she then promptly forgets, to teach C. the things she actually needs to know to do physics (that is, math: fractions, decimals, the concept of a base ten system in general, manipulation of abstract variables *throws up hands in despair*).
2a. What can you do when you ask what two divided by four is and the pupil wildly guesses 1.3? I JUST. I think had I known what an uphill job this was going to be, I would not have taken it on. Except that this is apparently the kind of thing I can't help but want to try to help with.
3. Things I would really prefer not ever to have to do again: attempt to explain the concept of the universal gravitational law being directly proportional to mass and inversely square proportional to distance to someone who does not understand/remember fractions or the concept of abstract variables or that multiplication is the opposite of division. aaaaaarrrrgh.
Many companies have arrived at the same conclusion as Six Foods – that it’s best not to confront consumers with insects too directly. That often involves processing and disguising the bugs, but it can also mean doing a little clever rebranding. Take waxworms, which live in beehives and eat honeycomb. By all accounts, they’re delicious: buttery, with a taste reminiscent of bacon. But the word ‘worm’ can be a deal-breaker for diners, so Six Foods has re-christened them ‘honey bugs’.
"Lovely grub: are insects the future of food?", Emily Anthes, Mosaic. 14 October 2014.
Scott's still waiting on parts to get the car door fixed. The dealership managed to get the panel off to look inside, so they knew what to order. I'm not sure if the car door currently opens or not because I haven't so much as seen the car since they took the panel off (so I also don't know if they put it back on. I'm assuming they did because exposed electronics would not be good).
Last night I dreamed about a book series that I so would read if it were real. In the dream, I was in a library, and I was talking to someone, recommending this series of mysteries about a 40 something con artist (retired), female, who was something like Jarod of The Pretender but not quite on the same scale, and a 60 something retired police inspector or some such who had pursued her during her career and was friendly to her now that they were both retired. I think the books were set in Europe somewhere. Now I'm sad that this series doesn't exist. I don't have the right skills to write it, either (like I need another writing project!).
I did end up making the pot pie sort of thing for dinner. I wasn't able to use almond milk to mix up the biscuit dough because Scott bought vanilla almond milk the last time he bought almond milk. He does that from time to time and never seems to get that doing that severely limits what we can do with the stuff. I can't use it to cook anything savory. It's fine for what he uses it for-- making pancakes-- and it would be fine if I were making ordinary biscuits. Biscuits meant to be soaked in chicken stew aren't so great with vanilla flavoring.
I signed up for Yuletide yesterday. The requests were easy, but I dithered over my offers. I settled for only offering the twenty or so fandoms that I know well, could review easily, and would be thrilled to write. There were another thirty or so fandoms that I could probably write but that would be a stretch and that I'd be less thrilled to be assigned and that I couldn't review easily. I'm going to keep an eye on sign ups and see what's being requested. I may change my offers based on that, but I also may not. As of yesterday, nine of my offered fandoms had requests, and that's enough to match.
I'll be keeping my fingers crossed, though-- The only visible offers in my requested fandoms are from me. Someone might have put them in a bucket list, and that wouldn't show up on the summary, but I also might not have a writer match. I'll consider adding another request, but going through the tag set before, I didn't see anything that I could request that wouldn't disappoint me by not being one of my three original fandoms. I'm still hopeful-- Somebody else nominated Drujienna's Harp. That person might offer to write it.
The card visible at the center of the cross represents the obstacle that stands in your way - it may even be something that sounds good but is not actually to your benefit. Four of Swords (Truce), when reversed: Restlessness and mental disharmony. Deserting a struggle in progress. A temporary retreat from stress that turns into a permanent rout. A lack of vigilance that could lead to disaster.
The card at the top of the cross represents your goal, or the best you can achieve without a dramatic change of priorities. Two of Swords (Peace), when reversed: Indecision due to contradictory characteristics brought together. Tension in the aftermath of a quarrel that has been resolved. Scheming, abuse of trust, and agreements made in bad faith. Allowing the mind to block off the emotions. Self deception as a means of justifying cruel acts.
The card at the bottom of the cross represents the foundation on which the situation is based. Death, when reversed: Stagnation or petrifaction. The refusal to let go of the past. Resistance to change because of fear.
The card at the left of the cross represents a passing influence or something to be released. The High Priestess: A pure, exalted and gracious influence. Education, knowledge, wisdom, and esoteric teachings. The forces of nature. Intuition, foresight, and spiritual revelation of the most mysterious and arcane sort.
The card at the right of the cross represents an approaching influence or something to be embraced. Two of Wands (Dominion): Established power and influence over others. Setting goals and a vision for the future. Coming to grips with the impact of past decisions, considering the current state of affairs, and developing a plan of action. Responsible leadership.
The card at the base of the staff represents your role or attitude. The Fool, when reversed: Apathy, negligence, and dangerous carelessness. Unquenchable wanderlust. Obsession with someone or something. Losing all sense of proportion. Foolhardy adventuring and lack of interest in critical matters. Immature or unrealistic ideals. Strange impulses and desires coming from unexpected sources. Vanity, delirium, folly, and oblivion.
The card second from the bottom of the staff represents your environment and the people you are interacting with. Nine of Swords (Cruelty), when reversed: Mental anguish or ill health endured and overcome. Refusal to be dragged down by the dishonor of others. Attempting to avert a shameful or regrettable act. Faithfulness, patience and unselfishness. May indicate the narrow avoidance of a death or other catastrophic loss.
The card second from the top of the staff represents your hopes, fears, or an unexpected element that will come into play. Four of Cups (Luxury): Being surrounded by love and devotion but taking it for granted. Ignoring the real and longing for the indefinable. Apathy and disengagement from the world. Dissatisfaction with the condition and direction of affairs, but the inability to accept new opportunities.
The card at the top of the staff represents the ultimate outcome should you continue on this course. Three of Swords (Sorrow), when reversed: Unsettling news that helps you to distance yourself from a destructive relationship. Painfully honest communication that needs to take place. Not letting yourself be dragged by your emotions into a negative situation. A trust or confidence betrayed in an attempt to help someone in need. The revelation of a painful truth.
Mirrored from Words, words, words, art..
“Vampires” is a pseudo-documentary about vampiric society in Belgium.
I’m a big fan of vampires, and a year or more ago saw a trailer for a vampire mockumentary making its rounds online. When I was flipping through netflix and saw a vampire mockumentary I thought YES THIS IS IT FINALLY and settled in. I was soon confused. This was… subtitled? I didn’t… remember… subtitles? It turns out the trailer I had watched was for “What We Do In The Shadows” which hasn’t been released in the USA yet but contains the line “we’re Werewolves not Swearwolves.” Can you see why I was so excited about it?
The movie I actually watched is simply called “Vampires” and is a Belgian film.
The film asks very reasonable questions: what if vampires existed? How would their society work? How would it affect human society? Are all vampire societies the same? What would happen if a documentary crew followed a vampire family around for a while?
Like good fake documentaries/mockumentaries, the film takes itself just seriously enough. It’s grounded very firmly in reality and recognizes that vampires living openly would cause some pretty big changes in human society. I was expecting more dark humor than there was, though. There is a lot to poke fun at or find tragihumorous with regard to vampires, and the “dark comedy” wasn’t very comedic… or perhaps humor was lost in translation.
One interesting aspect of the film is that the vampires are very much portrayed as the 1%, so to speak. They keep a woman, a former prostitute, in their house. They refer to her as “Meat” or “The Meat” and feed from her on special occasions because she tastes good, much as one would keep a goat around to milk it. The cops bring them (Black) “illegal immigrants” and criminals, who they refer to as “sausages,” who are kept in a pen in the back yard like livestock to be drained to death to feed them. They apparently stole the house they live in, the former owners dessicated body stored in the living room, wearing a clown wig. Vampire families with children are given (take? are assigned?) houses while vampires without children are forced to live in the basements of vampire families. The family that’s followed is casually racist, sexist, and ablist. When they are exiled to Montreal, Canada the adults are shocked to find that they are expected to work for a living and can’t casually murder anyone they feel like. But the social commentary is glancing at best, not very meaty at all.
This was an ok film with a few interesting concepts, but it doesn’t go deep enough, far enough, or darkly humorous enough. I give it 3 out of 5 stars.
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I am currently having a really hard fall. But one of the things I am thinking about a lot is how the people we learn from, learn how to do things with, change us. We hope, for the better. Sometimes that’s about formal education, but a lot of the time, it’s about something more complicated and faceted - and fascinating.
When I went through the Yuletide tag list for ‘things I want to remember are options this year’, it’s these three that jumped out at me. And one of the things that really strikes me is how they’re all about incredibly competent people sharing what they know in interesting ways. Or making choices based on what they know, are committed to, are passionate about.
So. Yeah. Basically, fic that does something with that is the thing I want. People being awesome at knowing their things, people caring about what they do, trusting other people to do it with them. That. :insert waving hands here:
You can feel free to take a look at my previous Yuletide letters and recs for things I’d like, but actually, most of the details while they still apply to me, don’t really apply to my requests this year.
If you got matched with me on any of these fandoms, I'm pretty sure that what you're inclined to write will be awesome.
But in case you’d like some more details, there's more below. Two of these three canons are quite easy to pick up quickly (one is a movie, one is a single volume book. The other one’s more complicated, alas.) I’ve included some general background for people reading because of one request who might also find the others interesting.
( Read more... )
Most of the things she's suggesting are formal Girl Scout activities-- Things sponsored by GSHOM that cost money. With the money left from last year and the money from the candy and magazine sale (I doubt we made very much. It was kind of slapdash and ended very, very soon after our first meeting), we can do one, maybe two such activities. After cookies, we'd be on a firmer footing financially, but doing a lot of activities would mean, most likely, no camping trip in the summer. I suppose we could ask for dues or event by event fees from parents. We were trying not to do that because not everybody can afford it.
While Cordelia and I got ready for Girl Scouts, Scott went to the library and picked up bubble tea. He talked to the folks at circulation about the book on CD that he'd been listening too-- The last CD turned out to be missing, so he couldn't finish it. I was afraid they'd charge us for it, but they didn't. Instead, they just found another copy on the shelf and checked that out to Scott.
Scott finally got rid of the branches that have been on the front lawn since June when a thunderstorm took them off the crabapple tree. I think he was hoping that they'd magically go away or something. They took up most of the space in our compost cart (the city provides us with three carts, trash, recycling, and compost. They pick up all three weekly April through November and trash and recycling only December through March), so there's a big pile of leaves in the middle of the yard.
It used to be that we could rake the leaves into the street and the city would come by and pick them up, but now we have to put them in the compost cart or compost bags (which we can buy at the hardware store) for pick up. Scott hates compost bags or, at least, seems to. Hopefully, we'll get rid of all the leaves by the end of November. The current pile is pretty large, and there are still an awful lot of leaves on the tree that overhangs our yard.
I'm trying to decide whether to bake a cake or brownies. Both would be from mix. The cake would be slightly more trouble (I'd have to flour the pan) but would last longer. Brownies are more popular, but the mix makes less, and they vanish rapidly.
I'm thinking to try making that sort of pot pie thing again tonight. We've got the right amount of cooked meat, and we've got chicken broth that needs to be used up. This time, I think I'll sift the Jiffy mix to get the lumps out. Or maybe not. That seems kind of silly. Except that there were a lot of little lumps of Jiffy mix that didn't mix into the dough last time. I'm not sure what the best solution is.
Having a lot of bad dreams. Like, I'm living with wolves instead of dogs, and my baby has disappeared. He isn't a baby-baby, more like two or three, and there isn't any blood or screaming, but he's gone, and I'm searching, yelling, "Simon! Where are you? Make some noise!" and wondering why I thought it was okay to let these wolves live in my house.
(My baby has in fact gone, but in a good way. And he skyped me for help with physics just before the wolf dream, so I have recent reassurance that he is safe.)
My local art cinema has posted:
The Lyric is very excited to announce that in November we will be hosting our very first Story Swap event. Story Swap is a time to gather together and share life experiences with each other. Each event (which we hope to hold every-other month) we will choose a theme for you to come prepared for. If you bring a story and submit your name to share, you just might be one of the names called! Story sharers will receive a special prize for being open and willing to share.I think I should do this.
Our first theme is simple: Good Times, Bad Times. Maybe you have a story of complete joy and hilarity, or maybe your story is about the most difficult period of your life. As long as it is centered on the theme, we want you to bring it! Please make sure your story is under 10 minutes.
Mirrored from Words, words, words, art..
“The Awakening” is a tense ghost story set in a boarding school in the early 1920s.
If you’re anything like me, you saw “The Awakening” available to watch on netflix and thought to yourself “Huh. I wonder if there’s any connection to Kate Chopin’s feminist short story about desire and sexual awakening.” The answer is no, although the trousers-wearing (at home, at least), cigarette smoking, atheist, ghost debunking Florence Cathcart has consensual sex with the emotionally traumatized but sex headmaster of a haunted boarding school, which is pretty great for a woman in London in 1921. Cathcart, who’s written a best selling novel about ghosts not being real, also works with the police to debunk fraudulent charlatan spiritualists intent on ripping off grieving patrons… an actual thing that actually happened, although in real life they pulled cheesecloth “ectoplasm” from various orifices, instead of using blood capsules and killing birds. After one successful raid, she’s approached by a teacher at a boys’ boarding school in Cumbria. A boy has died recently, apparently at the hands of a ghost, and the students are terrified. After a bit of emotional blackmail on his part, she agrees to join him at the school and investigate things.
At the school she reveals she attended Cambridge, unusual for a woman of her time. She sets up a variety of ghost/fraud hunter traps including tripwire cameras, and investigates the school. Despite some creepy events (including an alarming and unsettling dollhouse), she figures out what happened: some of the boys pranked her… and the dead child was killed because the English teacher locked him outside in the dark to help him “man up.” Terrified and alone, he had an asthma attack and died. “These boys must be strong– stronger than us,” he says in his defense.
The specter of both victims of the flu and the dead and surviving soldiers of World War I are laced throughout the film. There’s conflict between Robert Mallory, the teacher who contacted Cathcart, who is a veteran and Edward Judd, the groundskeeper, who faked physical disability to avoid being drafted. Mallory resents Judd’s cowardice while Judd resents that Mallory and other veterans are treated as heroes, as his betters. Cathcart, it turns out, is obsessed with ghosts because she desperately wants them to be real, she desperately wants to make amends to her dead fiance.
The acting in the film is fantastic, and the cinematography is interesting. It has a washed out, faded look and feel to it that I absolutely adored. Had the movie ended with Cathcart solving the mystery of the student’s death and leaving the fate of ghosts up in the air, I would have been very happy. A nice little mystery neatly solved, with the question of spirits not conclusively solved. Sadly, the movie continues on, and although the acting and atmosphere are both wonderful the plot descends into convoluted yet predictable plot twists and el oh el the skeptic is proven wrongity wrong about her deeply held beliefs and career.
There’s also an attempted rape scene, where Judd just happens to witness Cathcart and Mallory having consensual sex, so he decides that Cathcart is a slut and he beats her and tries to rape her, because that’s the price that must be paid if one is to see a woman in a film I guess. It’s a price I’m getting increasingly tired of paying, and quite frankly I’m getting burnt out on movies at this point. I was really enjoying “The Awakening” ridiculous over-telegraphed “plot twists” and all, and then BAM! a violent struggle and attempted rape of a very cool woman. There’s no escaping it. And that’s just so incredibly depressing and disheartening.
If the movie had ended after the mystery of the student’s death was solved, I would have rated this a 4 out of 5 stars. But it went on and took some bad turns and ultimately, as much as I wanted to like this movie, it only gets 3 out of 5 stars. Which is a shame. The acting is great, the ghostiness is great, the creep actor ramps up nicely (I’ve never seen such an effective use of a spooky dollhouse), and the cinematography is gorgeous. Alas.
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( Once Upon a Time, The Apprentice )