Snow Flower and the Secret Fan

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I read this book a few years ago and was excited to learn it was going to made into a movie.
This story, at it’s core, is about a life-long friendship between two women, matched up as friends when they were children. The story takes place in 19 Century China. I knew about the awful tradition of foot-binding wealthy girls when they were young, but I don’t think I really thought about what these girls endured (and even died) for the sake of beauty and the standards of living in a certain class.
I loved this book. I loved the life-long friendship between the women as they endured growing up, arranged marriages, bearing and raising children, and even having to escape their village and live in the mountains when it was under attack.
I can’t wait to see the on-screen adaptation. The story is beautiful, the writing is amazing, and I think I might go dig it out and read it again.

10 WORST Movies I ever saw

I first published this post on September 5, 2009 and it remains one of my favorites. So let’s revisit this post just for funsies, shall we?

To be clear, this blog post is only my opinion. This is only based on the movies I’ve seen and wished I hadn’t. I’m not a professional movie critic. This is just of short list of movies that made me wish I was rather having a root canal than watching them. These movies either bored me to tears, enraged me, or left me wondering how anyone with common sense would green-light spending money on this crap.

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. This movie should be called “Shitty Shitty Bang Bang.” First of all, this movie is waaaaaaaay too long for it’s own good. It is officially 144 minutes. Holy Hannah. That is 2 hours and 24 minutes. Just when you think you’re going to be released from your prison of cinematic awfulness, you’re only half way through the movie! And c’mon…the names in the movie? Caractacus Potts, Truly Scrumptious. Please just shoot me in the face now. The songs are horrible, “Toot Sweets,” and the acting sucks. I don’t care if the script was written by the children’s author genius Roald Dahl, I’d rather be eaten alive by ants than sit through this movie again. The poor kids, Jemima and Jeremy, have to put up with an eccentric inventor father. He invents a flying car that the evil dictator of Vulgaria steals and the movie turns from some fun-loving movie about a flying car into “let’s save all the children of Vulgaria.” Please, let’s save me from ever seeing this crap again.

Spirited Away. My sister will argue that this is one of the best movies of all time. And I will readily admit that I hate anime. But this obnoxious cartoon by Hayao Miyazaki (who is lauded as a genius…I don’t get it) follows a sullen 10 year old girl named Chihiro. Her family is about to move into a new suburb when they take the wrong turn and her parents are turned into pigs and Chihiro is thrust into a world of witches, monsters, and a bathhouse for weird creatures (aka Japanese Gods). My sister would say that this is a retelling of Alice in Wonderland, and I would say that watching this was the biggest waste of my time ever. The bathhouse scene where Chihiro cleans up after a mud monster was truly disgusting. Chihiro is forced into servitude by the bathhouse’s owner Yubaba who makes her change her name to Sen. Her spirit guide Haku convinces Sen this is the only way to save her parents. And he is really a dragon. Sen’s only true friend at the bathhouse, Lin, constantly insults her telling her how stupid and slow she is. Maybe it’s a cultural thing, but I don’t like it. This plot is so complicated and convoluted that my tolerance level for suckage was up after Chihiro was convinced by a boy who was really a dragon who was really a servant that he could help her save her parents by selling herself into servitude. Huh? All you anime dorks can have this movie.

Leap of Faith. I took a leap of faith when I thought this movie was going to be good. Instead it’s another Steve Martin comedy from the early 90s about a traveling preacher who is, dun dun dun, a FRAUD! Who didn’t see that one coming? And of course he falls in love along the way with a “good woman” who is a small town waitress with a teenage son. This “good woman” makes this shady preacher want to change his shady ways. This could have been a Lifetime movie rather a major motion picture. No wonder its one of Steve Martin’s most forgotten movies. I don’t think he even lets his agents put it on his resume.

Independence Day. What isn’t wrong with this movie? A lot of people claim that this is a great movie. And yes, it was a blockbuster for Memorial Day weekend of 1996. It was so over-hyped that it’s like the Paris Hilton of movies. I don’t know what annoys me more about the plot of this movie…the fact that Jeff Goldblum’s character is able to take down the aliens by infecting them with a computer virus from his laptop! Or, that Vivica A. Fox’s character is a stripper with a heart of gold cliche. Both are annoying. And the bad acting is as bad as the plot. Will Smith was the only good thing about this moving and that’s more because his charm and charisma come careening through the screen, just like it does in all his movies. There are a lot better things to do on the 4th of July than watch this trite pile of dog crap.

Shanghai Surprise. The surprise in this movie isn’t really a surprise – Madonna can’t act her way out of a paper bag. In my defense the only reason I ever saw this movie is because it was given to me as a gift from a friend when I was a young teenager. This movie is a teaming of Sean Penn and Madonna. Maybe horrible movies like this are the reason why their marriage broke up. It’s kind of insane to think about the acting genius who is Sean Penn and then see a movie this horribly bad. Madonna’s acting is so bad that when my sister and I saw the movie we thought she was lying when her character was telling the truth. And Madonna plays a nun in this movie. There’s nothing wrong with going against type in a movie, but c’mon! She’s also a nun who ends up in bed with Sean Penn’s character. This movie is about smuggling opium. Sean Penn’s character wants it for his monetary benefit and Madonna wants it for the healing effects it has on her flock. They then meet up with every crime lord/criminal/smuggler in Shanghai and somehow end up on top. It was dumb, badly acted, and boring. ‘Nuff said.

Back to the Future, Part II. This movie had so much promise. “Back to the Future” was such a fantastic movie that I think the public’s (and especially my) expectations for the sequel were just too high. And let’s face it, any time you try to portray the future, it’s just gonna look silly the older the movie gets. We’re 6 years away from 2015, when this movie is set, and we’re no where close to flying cars and hoverboards. Although I do like the nostalgic 80’s cafe. Another thing is, you expect that the majority of this movie is going to take place in the future with Marty trying not to run into his future self. Instead it devolves into some complicated plot where old-geezer Bif from 2015 steals the time machine (because he knew how it worked?) and just happens to go back to 1955 on the exact day of the Enchantment Under the Sea dance and gives younger Bif an almanac telling him the scores of every major sports event until the end of the century. Bif then uses the almanac to bet on games and makes himself into a millionaire. Marty goes back to 1985 after he thinks he’s resolved the conflict in 2015 and finds a new reality. Hill Valley is now kind of like Pottersville in “It’s a Wonderful Life” after Harry Bailey wishes he had never been born. It doesn’t end there, when Marty realizes what Bif has done and that he is his new step-father, Marty goes back to 1955 and basically ruins the original movie. Somehow in all of that Doc is struck by lightning, which sends him back to the Old West. Are you as confused and as bored as I am? I’ve seen this film exactly once, and that’s all I needed.

You’ve got Mail. This is the most formulaic romantic comedy I’ve ever seen. Let’s rip off an old movie, “Shop Around the Corner”, and throw in Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks and it’s sure to be a hit, right? Well, it was a hit but not because it was a good movie. All this movie does is put a twist on an old concept. This twist happens with the advent of email. Back then it was new and exciting. What are the chances the person you hate in real life is the one you love in cyberspace? Yawn, I’m so bored I don’t even care. I can tell you the whole plot in one sentence: Boy meets girl, boy and girl hate each other, boy and girl fall in love online, boy and girl fight offline, boy and girl find out “the secret,” boy and girl are disgusted for 2.4 seconds, and then boy and girl fall in love offline. Cue the sweeping music and credits. Don’t forget that the female lead has to have a wacky best friend. I firmly believe Meg Ryan had a bad face lift before the production of this movie. Movie producers only made this movie to try to wring out every ounce of perky out of Meg Ryan that they could before the public came to their senses. Isn’t Tom Hanks’ character so adorable when he calls Meg Ryan’s “a pill”? No. Anyway you slice it, this movie made me never want to use my email again.

Varsity Blues. A badly acted movie that was supposed to be a huge career booster for “Dawson’s Creek” star James Van der Beek. Instead it probably killed it. Dawson lives in a small Texas town where football is King and the coach is a tyrant. He plays second string quarterback and is just fine with that. Because Dawson is really a Kurt Vonnegut-reading scholar at heart who has his heart set on Brown University. That all comes to an end when the star quarterback is injured and he must play in his stead. Dawson rebels against the football coach and his shady antics, which include injecting stuff into injured players so they can play, and not helping with recruiting for the token black kid. Add in a lovable obese player, an all-nighter at a strip club where the featured stripper is their English teacher (how exactly did the high school students get into the strip club?), a ambitious, social-climbing cheerleader in a whip-cream bikini, and a rousing speech by Dawson about being heroes (because playing high school football is so heroic) and you’ve got a dud of a high school football movie.

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. This movie was just too “conceptual” for me. There are many people who tell me this is their favorite movie, and like anime, I just don’t “get it.” I guess it’s cool to be able to erase your memories of a love gone wrong, but our memories and experiences, no matter how painful, make us who we are. Having bad relationships in the past is what makes me so grateful to have someone like the hubs today. Being badly treated is what made me so attracted to the hubs, because from past experience I knew what I didn’t like. That being said, after watching this movie, the hubs and I both thought it was a huge waste of our time. We kept watching it hoping that it would get better. For us, it didn’t. Kate Winslet is wonderful as usual, but Jim Carrey is just trying too hard. You’re a comedian, Jim…there’s nothing wrong with that. Please explain to me why this movie is so good?

The Island of Dr. Moreau. This movie was so bad that Marlon Brando had to wear a radio receiver to be fed his lines! One of the main actors in this movie, David Thewlis, refused to go the premier and has never seen the finished product because it was such a negative experience. I wish I could say the same! Set in the year 2010, Dr. Moreau (Brando) has successfully combined human and animal DNA to make a crossbreed animal. Well, as usual, something goes wrong and David Thewlis must try to stop it before it’s too late! Except by “too late” they mean the minute I bought my ticket to see this movie. Apparently it was “toned down” so it would appeal to a wider audience (wider meaning those who like crap), but I don’t remember anything tame about the whole animal/human orgy thing. I saw this with a group of friends in high school and we were all flabbergasted at the awfulness…and the fact we didn’t walk out. It was not Brando’s finest hour or even minute. This movie is so bad it’s almost funny. Even the actors act like it’s a big joke. And if they’re not going to take it seriously, than why should I?