sovay: (Otachi: Pacific Rim)
sovay ([personal profile] sovay) wrote2017-08-11 03:14 am
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Guess I chose the right tattoo

I just finished watching Moana (2016) with my mother and [personal profile] spatch. I can't believe that music lost out to La La Land. Also, Zootopia better have been some kind of artistic landmark, because I'm willing to bet it didn't have hand-drawn animated tattoos, a bedazzled neon monster crab, or a sea I wanted to swim in.

I had seen Auliʻi Cravalho perform "How Far I'll Go" at the Oscars in February; I knew surprisingly little about the film otherwise, although that had not prevented me from being impressed by Philip Odango's Maui cosplay. I'm sorry I missed it in theaters. I am normally a hard sell on computer-generated rather than traditional animation, but the super/natural world of Moana is beautifully done, the star-thick skies, the curl and shatter of the waves, a green and flowering goddess settling herself to an island's sleep again. I'm not in a position to comment on the accuracy of the film's mythological representation, although I recognized most of the stories Maui tells about himself (the eel into coconuts one was new to me), but I really enjoyed seeing a movie whose trickster figure is a real trickster, not just the malevolent side of chaos. I like Moana as a protagonist—her sea-longing, her sense of humor, her stubbornness and her occasional incredulity that her life now involves having to fight tiny spiky sentient pirate coconuts over the world's most clueless chicken; I like that her conflicts with her family and with Maui are not gendered. Her return to Motunui with her grandmother's necklace around her throat and an outrigger canoe gifted her by a goddess, a wayfinder, a hero, makes me think someone else read Armstrong Sperry's Call It Courage (1940) as a child and wanted a better ending. The bond between her and her grandmother is the sort of thing that causes me to cry through a movie. I have also heard much worse reincarnation ideas than a manta ray. My mother made the connection between Te Kā and Te Fiti even before the film revealed it: once you remove the ability of a Pacific island to flower into life, of course all that's left is the volcanic rock, the earth cracking into the sea. The writers of Moana handle it a little differently than Lloyd Alexander, but I realized after the fact that Maui's final willingness to sacrifice his fishhook—his magic, the only thing he thinks makes the difference between a shape-changing culture hero and an unwanted child—called out the same response in me as Fflewddur's sacrifice of his harp. I had somehow missed that Dwayne Johnson can sing.

Is the film an authentic depiction of pre-colonial Polynesia? I don't see how it could be; first of all, there's a whole lot of cultures bracketed in that description, and despite the credited participation of the Oceanic Story Trust, which I appreciated seeing, both directors Ron Clements and John Musker and screenwriter Jared Bush were white and not as far as I can tell from anywhere in the relevant regions themselves. It's a Disney movie. They're adapting to the concept of diverse creators slightly faster than the subduction of the Pacific Plate. But its attention to material culture is notable, it does seem to have taken care with some traditions, and I'm still amused that the only actor in the main voice cast who is not of Polynesian descent is Alan Tudyk, voicing the above-mentioned chicken. (I'm also weirdly pleased that I have apparently heard enough Flight of the Conchords to recognize Jermaine Clement by his Bowie impression.) I hadn't heard of Opetaia Foa’i or Te Vaka before tonight, which may mark the first time a Disney musical has actually introduced me to musicians I plan to pursue beyond the soundtrack; I don't speak Samoan, Tokelauan, or Tuvaluan, so I am not the intended audience for some of Foa’i's lyrics and that's all right. I am glad they are in the languages they are in and I can appreciate the ones written by Lin-Manuel Miranda, since I'm pretty sure he's the best English-language lyricist Disney's had since Howard Ashman. Also, I realize that snappy, poppy, intermittently immature dialogue is a necessary component of a modern Disney film, but in the persistent wake of Girl of the Port (1930) and the convention of confining indigenous characters to pseudo-pidgin or formal speech, I am cool with a cast composed entirely of Pasifika characters who get lines as lofty as "Nope!", "Fish pee in you! All day!" and "Really? Blowdart in my butt cheek?" I mean, there are also serious conversations about responsibility, apology, healing the world, growing up. There are powerful, wordless sequences between human characters, nonhuman characters, elements of the natural world. There's a shot of a conch shell that speaks volumes. But also an accidentally half-shark trickster glumly describing his chances of beating a lava spirit with a well-deserved grudge as "bupkes."

I have had a migraine for about three days now and correspondingly haven't slept except for a couple of hours this afternoon, so I know this post is more notes than extended consideration, but I liked Moana so much, I wanted at least to mention it. It's funny, it's numinous, it celebrates traditional Polynesian navigation, it has no villain in the usual sense and I love its idea of a heroic happy ending, horizon, spray, steering by the swell and the stars. My mother tells me that my niece has imprinted to the point of going around randomly quoting the dialogue, so between Gramma Tala and "Shark head!" I'm wondering if she might like to visit the aquarium to pet the sharks and rays. [personal profile] handful_ofdust, thanks for the DVD! I will acquire the soundtrack on my own time. This voyage brought to you by my sea-called backers at Patreon.
cmcmck: (Default)

[personal profile] cmcmck 2017-08-11 07:37 am (UTC)(link)
'Rolling down to old Maui'..............
swan_tower: (*writing)

[personal profile] swan_tower 2017-08-11 08:02 am (UTC)(link)
Without in any way intending to make an overall definitive statement on the film's accuracy to pre-colonial Polynesia, I'll say that it rang pretty true to the research I did when writing Voyage of the Basilisk. And, in a similar vein to what I was aiming for with that book, I take it as a plausible depiction of Polynesia rather than any specific location therein: that is, it feels to me like it fits believably within that culture sphere, like these could maybe be a handful of islands somewhere in the Pacific that just don't happen to be the ones we know.

All of the above accompanied by a heaping spoonful of "I did this research several years ago and certainly didn't become an expert" salt. Maybe I could just say, it was accurate enough to make me pleased that I saw things I recognized from my reading being represented on the screen.
asakiyume: (far horizon)

[personal profile] asakiyume 2017-08-11 11:04 am (UTC)(link)
I think your niece would *love* to pet the sharks and rays--I sure would.

It *is* funny and numinous, and I loved the care they took with costumes and the sails and things like that. It made me spontaneously well up with tears at moments.

I'm really glad you enjoyed it

sartorias: (Default)

[personal profile] sartorias 2017-08-11 01:31 pm (UTC)(link)
I've been subscribed to Te Vaka's YouTube channel ever since I saw MOANA.

Whereas I found the music in LaLaLand both boring and forgettable. In fact, I fast forwarded through a lot of it after one tedious verse, and the fact that the female lead could not dance.
negothick: (Default)

[personal profile] negothick 2017-08-12 11:32 pm (UTC)(link)
And the male lead can't sing. . .I have a copy of the score, and it's even more boring as sheet music. There's ONE melody--and it's not very original.
sartorias: (Default)

[personal profile] sartorias 2017-08-12 11:35 pm (UTC)(link)
hawkwing_lb: (dreamed and are dead)

[personal profile] hawkwing_lb 2017-08-11 04:02 pm (UTC)(link)
The bond between her and her grandmother is the sort of thing that causes me to cry through a movie.

I cried great heaving sobs at the moment when grandma says "Go," and Moana heads out through the reef to "How Far I'll Go" with a glittering manta ray figure in the water beneath her. I cried again at the grandmother's love and support for her when all seems lost and beyond her. (Some of this is that my grandmother helped raise me, and she died a couple of years back, and now I cry at grandmother-grandchild bonds in films, which are rare enough. Some of it... is it was just that powerful.)

I cried again the second time I saw it.
hawkwing_lb: (Default)

[personal profile] hawkwing_lb 2017-08-12 03:05 pm (UTC)(link)
handful_ofdust: (Default)

[personal profile] handful_ofdust 2017-08-11 04:38 pm (UTC)(link)
So glad you responded to this in pretty much the same way I did. We showed it to Cal again recently; he kept quoting Michael Jackson's "Thriller" video, which I think is his way of signalling that something is getting too scary for him, but he stayed the course otherwise and definitely enjoyed "Shiny" more than he seemed like he did the first time 'round.
kate_nepveu: sleeping cat carved in brown wood (Default)

[personal profile] kate_nepveu 2017-08-11 05:16 pm (UTC)(link)
some links and a con panel report:
kate_nepveu: sleeping cat carved in brown wood (Default)

[personal profile] kate_nepveu 2017-08-13 02:49 am (UTC)(link)
glad it was helpful!
lauradi7dw: (Default)

[personal profile] lauradi7dw 2017-08-11 07:43 pm (UTC)(link)
Arthur felt that "You're Welcome" was the obvious choice for an Oscar nomination, but then we wouldn't have been able to see Cravalho's poised reaction (ignoring) to being grazed by one of the fabric things.

Odango's cosplay is impressive, as opposed to the pre-Halloween controversy
At the Disney Princess Enchanted 10K in February, there were a few runners clearly meant to be Moana, but in clothing only, no blackface equivalent, as far as I could see.
selkie: (Default)

[personal profile] selkie 2017-08-11 07:45 pm (UTC)(link)
Your godchild will also GLADLY give a rendition of 'How Far I'll Go' and appreciates Moana's physical strength and capability. Your godchild is also, however, still completely, entirely, fabulously tone deaf and those big notes soar in all directions. It must be the donor.
thistleingrey: (Default)

[personal profile] thistleingrey 2017-08-12 04:07 am (UTC)(link)
Reason likes the three song-sized clips she's heard (and watched) from YouTube. :P (I prefer "We Know the Way" to "How Far I'll Go" because (a) prickles from the former the first time I saw the clip and (b) the latter's ending with the swinging boom echoes Anna's stumble in Frozen, but like, isn't there another way to show that a girl's confidence can have reasonable external limits not yet encompassed by the determined girl? Reason was about your niece's current age when everyone that size was mad for Frozen; she still finds whole films too much, too scary and/or too sense-overloading.) I imagine that your niece would adore visiting the sharks.
thistleingrey: (Default)

[personal profile] thistleingrey 2017-08-14 04:38 am (UTC)(link)
did you like it?

Frozen is miles better than The Little Mermaid (at which some classmates and I laughed during high school, so perhaps not a high bar), but in general I'm underexposed to Disney films, esp. recentish ones, and I'm happy to leave it thus. I haven't seen Brave, e.g., which I might like if I did see it. Frozen certainly captured the imaginations of little kids beyond the direct result of marketing exposure, however: in Reason's preschool class of yore, there were four or five Halloween Elsas, and one was a boy (with an older sister).

The bit from Frozen that I'm thinking of is the very end of "For the First Time in Forever," which is mostly not on YT as a clip. Here's a Thai fan version. Their English subs aside, during the last few seconds (as Anna skips towards the waterfront) the words are, "For the first time in forever / For the first time in forever / Nothing's in my way," and then she trips.

I haven't seen Moana entire yet. (Spoilers don't matter--just didn't want to imply by accident that I have.)
umadoshi: (sea turtle 01 (totaldevotion))

[personal profile] umadoshi 2017-08-13 03:18 am (UTC)(link)
I saw Moana for the first time a couple of weeks ago, and I loved it, so reading this review was lovely. ^_^

Also, I had a chance to pet rays in Toronto a couple of years back, and that was wonderful too. I hope your niece feels up to doing it!
starlady: Raven on a MacBook (Default)

[personal profile] starlady 2017-08-13 06:09 am (UTC)(link)
I cry multiple times I watch the movie, every time. It will endure, while Zootopia is already being (deservedly) forgotten, which is a judgment I make with no malice despite the fact that LIN AND MOANA WERE ROBBED. I saw both in theaters, and Zootopia was fun, but applying even 10 seconds' worth of critical thought to the concept will demonstrate why making animals an allegory for race is very bad, no, don't do that. And I can't say I remember the songs from Zootopia, whereas I walked out of the theater the first time I saw Moana singing parts of "You're Welcome" to myself.