Nov 25, 2008
Nov 15, 2008
Well, maybe I'm cheating a little bit on this one - I have just seen it, but it's not the first time. You know how there are some films you just keep catching on TV all the time? Well, a few years ago it kept happening to me with 200 Cigarettes (incidentally, one of my friends is the most extreme example of this phenomenon that I've ever heard of. For a while every time she went home to visit her parents, she would always catch the exact same scene in an episode of Coupling in which Susan is supposed to show one of her boobs to her friends!).
Anyways, I remember quite liking this film at the time. I also remember being a little bit mushy about it because one of the storylines was quite similar to a really complicated relationship I was in at the time. I was pretty interested to see whether my opinion would change after so much time. And... It hasn't. I'm really puzzled by the fact that 200 Cigarettes flopped so spectacularly at the time of its release and garnered almost universally bad reviews. Sure, it's not a masterpiece, but it has an all-star cast and an unpretentious, sweet script.
It's 1981, New Year's Eve, and a bunch of twenty-somethings all try to find love on their way to a party. It's just a simple feel-good movie, exactly what it says on the box. If you don't expect too much, I'm sure you'll have a good time with it. It's cheerful, colorful, and its heart is in the right place. I recommend seeing it a few days before New Year's, just to get you in the mood.
Nov 14, 2008
For years I've desperately been trying to find a cartoon I saw on MTV2. All I knew is that it featured two egg-like characters that kept talking about pie. I have finally succeeded! Their names are Weebl and Bob and they're just about the funniest thing I've ever seen!
Oct 26, 2008
And I loved it! Which is really weird, because I don't like cartoons at all! But this has got to be the sweetest thing ever! The robots are so cute! I want one for a pet!
Anyways, apart from the fact it gave me a sugar rush, I also liked how the first 40 minutes or so used almost only gestures and facial expressions of the main characters, and there was no speech or people. In fact, I think that if it had gone a slightly different route and left out the humans altogether, it would have been completely perfect. I also thoroughly enjoyed all the Space Odyssey and other sci-fi classics references (there's a lot of that stuff, just pay attention). This is probably one of the best, if not the best cartoon I've ever seen. 9/10
Oct 25, 2008
Oct 20, 2008
So I live on Mars. Shoot me. I've never seen a single episode of Dexter - the TV show. The truth is, I don't watch TV. Almost at all. So, when I heard a review of Jeff Lindsay's novel Dexter In The Dark (the third and, so far, latest in the series) on the BBC books podcast, I had no idea what they were on about, but it sounded interesting. So I decided against seeing the show first, picked up the books and read them.
The three novels, namely Darkly Dreaming Dexter, Dearly Devoted Dexter and Dexter In The Dark, were a pretty cool reading experience. Dexter from the title is a forensic blood spatter analyst by day, and a righteous serial killer by night. Childhood trauma has rendered him a psychopath with an inner voice that he refers to as The Dark Passenger. Every once in a while, when the moon is full, the Dark Passenger urges Dexter to kill. However, there are rules, set by his foster dad Harry, who used to be a cop. Dexter is only allowed to kill people who he is absolutely sure have gotten away with murder.
The other notable characters include Dexter's sister Deborah, his girlfriend Rita, and her two children - Astor and Cody. Oh, and Miami, where the books take place. Yes, using a place as one of the protagonists is nothing new, but I like it nevertheless.
In each novel Lindsay manages to come up with brilliant plots, gruesome but innovative murder ideas and a bit of new insight into Dexter's psyche.
The style is playful, with a lot of alliteration, puns and wry remarks, which is a winning combination paired with the narration of the emotionally impaired main protagonist who has almost no understanding of basic human behavioral patterns.
Lindsay does sometimes natter about the Dark Passenger for too long, so although these are pretty short novels, they could have been a bit tighter. Also, you will need to suspend your disbelief at times, as almost every other person in these books is recognized by Dexter as a fellow psychopath (in the novels they can see each other for what they really are, no matter how well they fake being normal). Another thing that bothered me was the unfortunate generalization that anyone who suffers extreme psychological trauma turns into a merciless murderer.
Still, with all their flaws, and though they are fluff (yes, it is slightly weird to label as fluff something in which beheadings are a perennial occurrence), they are very good. They are exciting crime novels with an interesting twist and you can't help noticing that a lot more talent and thought went into them than is usual in this genre.
Oct 15, 2008
I've been obsessed with this beautiful song ever since I heard it in The Jane Austen Book Club (not a bad movie either). Feist's dreamy voice, the sweet lyrics and that melody... I can't stop humming it to myself. Unfortunately, it doesn't have an official video, so this will have to do.
Oct 11, 2008
First of all, Mel Gibson is a despicable man who needs to seek professional help. His movies seem to have the unique ability to make me feel physically ill. Also, on a side note, he couldn't direct his way out of a paper bag.
Apocalypto is a deeply disturbing film, merciless in its brutality. I suspect it also suffers from racism. I don't really know much about the Mayans, but weren't they supposed to have been quite advanced in astronomy? Advanced enough not to act like savages at the sight of a solar eclipse? Also, does anyone else get the feeling that the whole movie (ending with the historically inaccurate scene of the arrival of the Spanish) has a sort of "they had it coming" tone? Especially when you take into consideration that Mel himself said it was "a universal story of exploring civilizations and what undermines them". Ahem, ahem... They got what they deserved, huh Mel?
What I found the most appalling was that all the inhumanity depicted serves no point whatsoever - except maybe to shock, or satisfy Mr Gibson's obvious appetite for sadism.
The storyline is virtually non-existent: there's fifteen minutes of crass sex jokes and then a two hour chase. And that is it. That was all that good old Mel and a certain Farhad Safinia could come up with in the way of a script. Oh hell, who needs a script anyway, just let a few bare-bottomed savages into the jungle and have them run after each other and occasionally smack each other over the head. Great! Throw in a bit of lewd slapstick for good measure, and spice things up with a pointless prophecy. What more could you ask for!
Visually it is incredibly disappointing. It really takes a genius to come up with such bland shots of the jungle. All those possibilities, and we end up with a film that just looks washed out and faded.
All that's left is a feast of unsavory scenes of futile violence. So, next time Mel Gibson mentions he might want to make a movie, would someone just, please, lock him up somewhere away from all the cameras of this world??
p.s. Oh yeah, the costumes and make up are very good. Way to go! That makes it all better!
Oct 4, 2008
I'm sure I'll earn myself a whole army of enemies by saying this, but Fargo has got to be the single most overrated film I have ever seen.
I approached it with mixed feelings: it was released in 1996, the same year as my favorite movie - The English Patient. Well, I don't know why, but a lot of people don't seem to like the Patient, and I often hear the comment that it shouldn't have won the Oscar for Best Picture, especially as Fargo was also in the running. After I'd heard/read this a sufficient number of times, I decided to finally see Fargo. After all, it does have cult status and is one of those films that I'm embarrassed to admit I've never seen (my top three of those are: 1) Citizen Kane, 2)The Godfather series and 3) Schindler's List).
So, a synopsis would be in order here, methinks. A car salesmen (William H. Macy) hires two criminals (Steve Buscemi and Peter Stormare) to kidnap his wife so that he would get a hefty ransom from his wealthy father-in-law. The kidnapping goes awry and is followed by a series of murders later investigated by police chief Marge Gunderson (Frances McDormand).
First of all, I have a problem with this plot. It has garnered almost universal praise and I just can't see why. It's one cliche after another, you can always see what's coming next, and what it all boils down to is, essentially, a bunch of very greedy, evil and, above all, amazingly stupid people killing each other. The characters are the most unlikeable bunch I've seen in a long time, and, when I say unlikeable, I mean bland. They're not even people you love to hate, that's the worst part. They are just uniquely uninteresting stock characters, and typecast at that. I really didn't give a damn about what happened to them for one second. I suppose that Marge is the one you should care for, but the awful script and McDormand's over the top acting ruined that for me as well. I suppose it was meant to be ironic and subtly funny, but the vernacular of the protagonists is so ridiculous that it suspends all credibility, and yet it's not funny enough to make you laugh. The only thing that could possibly get a chuckle out of you is the thought that Frances McDormand won an Oscar for this role (does she even have enough screen time to be considered a lead?)! To think that Kristin Scott Thomas' nuanced performance lost out to this ridiculously overdone charade is a joke. It would've been, I think, more subtle and crafty if McDormand had tattooed "I'm a Midwestern simpleton" on her forehead!
One of the greatest problems with today's movies is that they tend to be overlong. Hardly any last less than two hours. However, Fargo is one of those rare examples which lasts just a bit over an hour and a half and still manages to be boring as hell. I literally felt the seconds of my life ticking irrevocably, frittered away on this silly story.
I'm not going so far as to say it's all bad though. Fargo was beautifully shot and the editing was interesting at times. The sound editing was quite impressive as well. And as much as I appreciate good cinematography and some other technical and artistic aspects of a film, if it doesn't have a point AND doesn't entertain either, long shots of snow-swept landscapes,however beautiful, unfortunately, just aren't enough.
Oct 3, 2008
Oct 2, 2008
In an effort to get people to look
into each other's eyes more,
the government has decided to allot
each person exactly one hundred
and sixty-seven words, per day.
When the phone rings, I put it
to my ear without saying hello.
In the restaurant I point
at chicken noodle soup. I am
adjusting well to the new way.
Late at night, I call my long
distance lover and proudly say
I only used fifty-nine today.
I saved the rest for you.
When she doesn't respond, I know
she's used up all her words
so I slowly whisper I love you,
thirty-two and a third times.
After that, we just sit on the line
and listen to each other breathe.
Sep 30, 2008
My favorite song from The Mighty Boosh is Love Games, from the season 2 episode Old Gregg, and now I've found an incredibly cool cover on youtube! It sounds like a real song (well, yeah, I know the original is actually a song as well, but, you know what I mean)!
Here are both the original and the cover.
The cool cover:
Sep 22, 2008
Why is it that whenever I discover a really cool show, they always go on a hiatus and don't make a new season for ages? No IT Crowd, no Conchords, and now no Boosh! I discovered Boosh in 2007, just before the 3rd season, and now I have to wait probably 'till 2009 for the new adventures of Howard and Vince. There's some talk of a movie, but that'll take a while as well. By the way, the Boosh boys are currently on tour. I wish I lived in England! Here's a trailer for their last live release. Genius!
Sep 15, 2008
I discovered Niccolo Ammaniti by pure chance - a friend got me Steal You Away for my birthday a few years ago. She had no idea who he was, or whether the book was any good - she just liked the title. I liked it too, but expected a corny romance lurking behind it. Boy, was I wrong...
So, a few years down the road, Steal You Away is one of my favorite books of all time, and I've just read my third Ammaniti book called How God Commands. I've never been more disappointed that I don't speak a word of Italian than now. This book is so brilliant that now I want to read everything Ammaniti has ever written (unfortunately, a lot of his books haven't been translated into any of the languages I speak). You know how sometimes you can't put a book down? Well, I stayed up until four a.m. reading this one, although I knew I had to get up at 6 for work...
Like Steal You Away, How God Commands also depicts a small town in the middle of nowhere, in Northern Italy. We follow six days in the lives of a handful of its inhabitants, with the 13 year old Cristiano and his neo-Nazi dad Rino as the lynchpin. Cristiano's mother left when he was a child, and now it's just him and his dad. The father is an unemployed violent drunk who hates the whole world except for his son. The two, who love each other more than anything, live in constant fear that Rino is going to lose custody over his son and that Cristiano is going to be sent to a foster family.
The other inhabitants of the town are Rino's loser friends - Quattro Formaggi and Danilo, Fabiana - a pretty girl from Cristiano's school, Beppe Trecca - the father and son's social worker.
Quattro Formaggi (a nickname he got because of his love for pizza) is the town fool, often abused because he can't speak and walk properly as a consequence of a high voltage power shock. Danilo is a drunk dreaming of the day his wife will come back to him. Fabiana is the cool girl at school, who experiments with drugs and goes out with boys but longs to leave her suffocating hometown or at least to lead a more innocent life again. And Beppe is a pious social worker who lusts after his best friend's wife.
As Rino, Danilo and Quattro plan to steal an ATM (yes, not rob it, but tear down the wall of the bank and actually steal the whole thing), all their lives intersect on the night of the worst storm in years.
In his masterful storytelling, Ammaniti manages to create an atmosphere of impending doom, with the night of the storm as the moment of Apocalypse, and yet there are few writers that make me laugh as much as he does. Coming from me, that is a huge compliment - I seldom laugh out loud while reading, but I had tears of laughter running down my cheeks last night. The secret of Ammaniti's humor is that, like everything in his books, it's so ridiculously lifelike, and stems from the wonderfully colorful and detailed characterization. From the very first page you believe these people as if they were standing in front of you, with all their hopes and dreams and quirky little idiosyncrasies. Yes, all the characters are losers, but the most lovable losers you've ever met. They trudge through their tragicomic little lives, so undignified in their hilarious and, more often than not, heartbreaking struggles that you find yourself truly caring for them. But Ammaniti, like life itself, is merciless and, as in his other novels, doesn't deal them a very good hand. You never see it coming though. All the twists are so unexpected, and yet, in retrospect, so perfectly plausible.
When you've finished reading this bittersweet, poignant masterpiece, you will see that
Ammaniti argues that life is often not fair, that provincial life will drag you down like quicksand, that maybe God doesn't exist, or, if he does he is just a cold, impassive observer. And you will agree knowingly, feeling a little sad, and a little lost, and loving life that little bit more.
Sep 13, 2008
I think I must be one of the least athletic people I know. I've never done any sports - I find them all incredibly boring, and I've always had a good figure so I never had to do anything. Actually, I find sports SO boring, I've never even followed any. Except gymnastics. Gymnastics is something special. I don't know why I love it so much... I guess it's just something I grew up with. I stopped following the sport during the 2004 Olympics. I was already pissed off slightly because of the vault scandal at the 2000 Olympics (Sydney) which ruined Svetlana Khorkina's chances of winning the all-around title. When the 2004 Olympics in Athens provided an even bigger scandal I decided to just stop watching. Alexei Nemov was given an abominable score despite his excellent performance, so that Paul Hamm, who fell flat on his ass could win the all-around gold.
Now there is a completely new scoring system that I'm not familiar with, and the American and Chinese domination just don't do it for me somehow. I think the new scoring system has diminished the beauty of the sport, forcing the gymnasts to just do high difficulty routines without much concern for beauty, grace and artistic elements. It's all just crass acrobatics now. Not my cup of tea.
Anyway, last night I was surfing the web, and you know how these things go - sometimes you just end up somewhere although you have no idea how. I ended up watching videos of Nadia Comaneci's perfect tens (the first in the history of the sport) from the 1976 Montreal Olympics. The gymnasts I grew up watching were Svetlana Khorkina, Lavinia Milosovici, Simona Amanar... Nadia was before my time, and I hardly ever saw her routines. Having watched a bunch of these videos last night, I'm in awe. I now see that my heroines have nothing on her, let alone today's gymnasts - I'm sure she could kick their ass in her sleep. Take a look at the video of two of her perfect 10 performances - both on the uneven bars. I particularly love the first dismount - she literally flies! Her skill is amazing - she owns the bars. I don't remember ever seeing anyone with such incredible control. Truly spectacular!
Sep 3, 2008
In Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Peter is left by his girlfriend Sarah, who is an actress in a popular crime show. He goes to Hawaii brokenhearted, only to meet her there, together with her new rock superstar boyfriend Aldous Snow.
I saw this movie for two reasons - one is that, against all odds and despite my strong prejudice, I quite liked Superbad and thought it was funny as hell, and the other is that my beloved Russell Brand stars in it as Snow.
Well, personally, I didn't find Sarah Marshall as funny as Superbad, although it did have some moments. I'm not big on parodies, so the bits that parody the CSI shows didn't appeal to me. Basically, the funniest thing in this film was Russell (and many critics have said this as well so I know it's not just the fangirl within me speaking). The character he plays - Aldous Snow, a rock superstar, is wonderfully funny, charismatic and just SO cool. I was delighted to hear that the same team are planning a new flick in which Aldous will be the main character.
It was refreshing to see Mila Kunis as someone other than the annoying 70s Show girl whose name I can't recall right now. Kristen Bell was quite predictable as Sarah, and while Jason Segel is likable, I'm getting a bit tired of all the loser-gets-the-girl movies.
Basically, it's light fun, nothing special, but worth seeing for Russell and a few jokes. 6/10
Aug 25, 2008
I've already explained my weakness for teen shows, and I think I've mentioned the obsessive-compulsive nature of my need to always have a new TV show that I can watch in one sitting. So, when I finished Skins – the British show that, although flawed, left me wanting more, I picked up season 1 of The O.C.
Again, I'd seen it on TV a few years ago, but at the time didn't pay attention. Yes, I knew it starred Mischa Barton, but thought - “What the heck, how bad could it possibly be?”
Well, really bad...
It follows Ryan Atwood, a young delinquent, as he moves in with the rich Cohen family after his mother leaves him. He befriends Seth, the Cohens' son, and falls in love with Marissa, the troubled girl next door.
The show has a cast from hell. Mischa Barton (Marissa) has the most annoying accent I've ever heard, and can't act to save her life. All I knew her for till now was her catastrophic dress sense, but now I've discovered that her lack of style goes hand in hand with her lack of acting skills. Benjamin McKenzie, who plays Ryan, has exactly two facial expressions: 1) “Hm, I've slipped a fart, I wonder if anyone will notice” and 2) “Sh*t, they've noticed!”
Rachel Bilson gives the expected, boring and incredibly artificial 'popular bitch' performance. Adam Brody (Seth) is cute as the rambling nerd, but I suspect he's not even acting.
The only thing worse than the acting is the plot. It's predictable yet amazingly implausible. From the starting premise that a rich family (especially the stuck-up mother) would adopt a teen delinquent, to the so popular plot where the nerd gets the most popular girl in school who is a real bitch, but it turns out she isn't really, she actually has a heart of gold and falls head over heels for him and... Oh pur-lease! When does that EVER happen in real life?? And finally, Marissa Cooper and her family... Maybe it's just because Mischa Barton is my new pet peeve, but I really, REALLY hated the character of Marissa. I also found it hilarious that we are supposed to feel sorry for her family who spend all their money and fall into debt, and then, IMAGINE THE HORROR – have to sell their house and she and her dad move into an apartment! God! Now living in an apartment instead of a $5 million house is really horrible. I don't know if I (or anyone else, really) would be able to go on with my life if I had to sell my $5 million house and move into an apartment! Marissa truly is a hero!
Anyways, enough sarcasm... It's a horrible show, just skip it and forget it ever existed.
Aug 10, 2008
I've just arrived home from the cinema where I've finally seen The Dark Knight.
Now, I was really scared of being totally disappointed with it because of all the hype. I guess that what saved me was the fact that I never, for one instant believed that it's really the best film of all time. 9.2 at IMDb, 94 % fresh at Rotten Tomatoes... Not to mention the rabid Batman fans who are ready to stone to death anyone who dares call the film anything short of a masterpiece. That really sets the bar high.
Well, I'm glad to report that I wasn't disappointed. Unfortunately, I wasn't proven wrong either. First of all, the makers of Batman should really be congratulated for being able to pull off the new franchise without too many compromises. You see, when something is expected to make as much money as the new Batman movie, it almost inevitably turns to sh*t. Well, Chris Nolan obviously doesn't let them push him around, and stands up for his ideas, and in that respect Batman is perfect. However, I think the pressure did get to him, and it led to the one flaw this movie suffers from: it's too damn long. Too many plots, too many twists. You almost feel like they could've made two movies out of this.
Also, what's with the new action sequences? Maybe it's just me, but the fights and chases in new action movies (not just Batman) are too fast to follow. Really, half the time I have no idea who's hitting/chasing who. It seems to be some sort of a recent trend (when I say recent, I mean the last 5 years or so). I can sort of see how it was born out of the need to make every film that comes out more exciting than anything before it, but it's just too much.
The most talked about member of the cast is, of course, Heath Ledger as The Joker. Yes, he was brilliantly insane, eerie and fun at the same time. It truly was the performance of his life, creative and dazzling acting that many older, more experienced and recognized actors couldn't pull off. It's a tragedy that the world has lost such a talented actor. However, I must admit I'm getting weary with all the Oscar talk. Yes, he surely deserves a nod, but isn't it a bit too early to talk about the award? Also, there's an online petition to nominate him, which seems a bit tasteless in my opinion. As often as I disagree with the Academy, I still think it's their awards, and they're entitled to nominate/vote for whomever they want. I think things like this petition actually belittle Heath's performance, as if he can't win the Oscar based on his talent, so we should all try to give him a little push and help him. Unnecessary, in my opinion.
All in all, the movie was a true Saturday night treat. But to all the people who are hailing it as the best film ever (and the ones who are doing the same with The Return Of The King, for that matter): people, try to actually watch more than 5 films before uttering statements of that magnitude. It's a good, solid 7/10, well worth watching, but it's not Space Odyssey, is it?
Aug 9, 2008
I've admitted already that I'm actually a teenager trapped in the body of a 27-year-old. This means I watch teenage TV series with a passion. Having said that, I have to mention that I divide all teenage shows into two groups: a) My So-Called Life, and b) everything else. You see, My So-Called Life is probably my favorite TV show ever, of any genre, and it just happens to be a teenage show as well. So, it must be noted that I don't actually expect any other teenage series to ever live up to it, but if that's the elusive 10, at least I can use it for comparison. That doesn't mean I don't enjoy other shows, though! I do, I just have to forgive their imperfections and shortcomings.
Skins is a British show that, of course, follows the lives of a group of friends who are 16 when season 1 starts. There are two seasons so far (the third will have a completely new set of characters), and in each season every episode is named after and focuses on one of the characters (although there are story lines that span several episodes). There's Tony, the good-looking, super-intelligent, ambitious but manipulative boy who is brilliant at everything and gets whatever he wants. His girlfriend is the beautiful, popular, but insecure Michelle, who is worried that Tony doesn't really love her. Sid, Tony's best friend, is in love with Michelle, shy, always in Tony's shadow, not really good at anything. Also, he's a virgin, and in the very first episode, he is supposed to lose his virginity to Cassie. Cassie is anorexic, has a lot of psychological problems, and agrees to sleep with Sid only to do her friend Michelle a favor, but ends up falling in love with him. Jal, is a serious girl who plays the clarinet. Chris, is a party animal from a broken home, who has a crush on their psychology teacher. Maxxie is gay and has problems with his best friend Anwar, because Anwar is Muslim and is afraid of what his family is going to say about having a gay friend.
I don't actually know what I thought about the show. The characters were cliched, the plots were unrealistic. At least, that's not how I lived when I was a teenager... Okay, yes, teenage life does typically imply a certain amount of sex and drugs, but this was really over the top...
The writing was mostly okay, but at times it was truly appalling. For instance, there is an episode set in Russia (a school trip), in which Chris manages to have sex with the psychology teacher, Tony tries to seduce Maxxie just out of boredom, and Anwar tries to rescue a Russian girl from her violent husband. Now trust me, I have literally seen porn films with better, more convincing, less corny scripts than this episode.
Why did I see all 19 episodes then?
The answer is simple: Tony. The character of Tony was absolutely wonderfully written, and the boy who plays him – Nicholas Hoult – that boy will go far! Or at least he should. Without giving too much of the plot away, I'll just say that there is a huge twist at the end of season 1, so in season 2 tables have turned for Tony and he is facing a really rough time. It's amazing how convincingly young Mr. Hoult pulls off the change. I was mesmerized by his acting, and missed him in every scene that didn't feature him.
So, it's not all bad. It's quite fun, and it's all you expect a teenage show to be, no more and no less. It does have some really stupid bits, but then sometimes it really dazzles you. The one thing that is consistently dazzling is the soundtrack – Tricky, Elliott Smith, Feist, Portishead, Low - they all chime in, always at the exact perfect moment to break your heart.
Not to mention season 1 finale. You see, I'm generally good at liking things, I'm not a hater by nature. But the song Wild World was one of the rare things I hated with a passion. Ever since I was little I thought it must be one of the stupidest, corniest songs ever written. After Skins though, I absolutely adore it. See season 1 of Skins, if for nothing else, then for that ending. I don't know who came up with the idea for it, but it's genius, and it transcends the little teen show it's in. Trust me. It will fill your heart with beauty.
Aug 6, 2008
Aug 3, 2008
Yes, in the wake of Batman mania, I'm almost embarrassed to admit that I've only just seen Batman Begins. And not only that - this is the first Batman movie I've ever seen! The first franchise just seemed very stupid and childish to me. I once caught a part of the one with Uma Thurman and Arnold Schwarzenegger, and it was so painfully bad, I think I must've spent half of those twenty minutes with my head between my knees! My husband, on the other hand, is pretty keen on Batman (I hesitate calling him a fan, because he's just NOT the kind of person who'd be fanatical about anything). So, long story short: I'd heard that the new franchise is actually quite good, I like Nolan and Bale, and hubby wanted me to go to the cinema with him to see The Dark Knight, so I figured i should see Begins first.
Now, you might remember that, when I saw the Bourne trilogy I said something to the extent of "I really don't like action movies, but this is good stuff". Well, I've discovered that I've been deluded all this time. It's not me, it's Hollywood! I now see that I do like action movies, only, most action movies are crap! When I finished Batman Begins, I actually felt a hunger for another one! I think that, had it not been the middle of the night, I would've gone to see The Dark Knight straight away! Trust me, all this was a revelation for me: Terminator 2: Judgment Day is not the only quality action movie?? Really? Wow!
So, if an action movie gets a decent script, a talented cast and a director who's not a total idiot, you'll, more likely than not, get a good piece of cinema. It's as simple as that. The same as with any other genre.
Luckily, Batman Begins has all of the above. Nolan has managed to create the perfect dark atmosphere. Christian Bale is one of the most talented actors of today. Seriously, that man is SO good, I'm sure he found the role of Batman a piece of cake (with all due respect, it's not the most complex role in the world, is it?), and the rest of the cast is not bad either (I especially enjoyed Cillian Murphy's performance as Dr. Crane).
I found that the two story arcs were well balanced and blended, and both were quite interesting. I did consider the last half hour of constant fighting, chases, explosions etc were slightly boring, but I suspect that, for true action movie aficionados that was actually the heart of the film. So, I guess there's something for everyone in it. I'm glad to see that it's still possible to make such a big budget flick without ruining it.
My verdict: 8/10.
Jul 28, 2008
I first heard of Neil Gaiman almost ten years ago, through the music of Tori Amos.
“Me and Neil'll be hangin' out with the dream king...”
“Get me Neil on the line, no I can't hold. Have him read Snow, Glass, Apples...”
“Will you find me if Neil makes me a tree...”
...And so on. There are numerous references to a certain Neil in Tori's lyrics, and all I knew at the time was that he is her friend and a writer. About a year ago, long after I'd lost interest in Tori, I was in the library and I accidentally came across a little book called Stardust, written by Neil Gaiman. I thought his name sounded familiar, but I couldn't for the life of me remember where I'd heard it before. The book looked sweet though, so I read it. That's how my love affair with Neil's work began. Well, I've now read all of Neil's novels, nut I still have a bunch of short stories and graphic novels left.
Smoke and Mirrors is a short story and poem collection, first published in 1998. The stories belong to a mixture of genres – fantasy, science fiction, horror, even a couple that qualify as erotica, and they contain plenty of references to folklore, literature and popular culture.
The stories are diverse and all are unputdownable. Neil comes up with some pretty insane ideas – most notable of which must be the retelling of Beowulf as a Baywatch episode and the morbidly funny tale about an agency of assassins who offer discounts for large orders.
The collection ends with the wonderfully dark Snow, Glass, Apples, a new version of Snow White told from a different point of view, with all the traditional roles reversed.
Anyway, my verdict is, that, while I'm always more inclined to read a novel, Smoke and Mirrors WAS worth reading, and quite an enjoyable way of passing time until Neil's next title, The Graveyard Book, comes out this September. And if you've never read Gaiman, well shame on you! Run to the nearest bookstore, get American Gods and start reading asap!
Jul 21, 2008
Yeah, I saw two movies in one night. I have no life.
No, seriously, when I saw the disaster that was Evening, I couldn't possibly go to bed feeling all bored and depressed. It's one of my compulsions - if I see a terrible film, I have to try another one to make me feel better.
I don't know why I chose London. It's a film I knew almost nothing about, but it seemed different enough from Evening to give it a go.
And it was. It's a dialog-driven piece about Syd (Chris Evans), a guy who hears his ex-girlfriend is moving to California tomorrow with her new boyfriend and is having a going-away party to which he was not invited. He decides to show up anyway, bringing along Bateman, a British banker/cocaine dealer whom he'd just met. He arrives at the party intending to confront London (the girl's name. Played by Jessica Biel), talk to her and try to win her back, only, he's so spun on coke he can't actually bring himself to get out of the bathroom. So, most of the movie consists of drug-fueled philosophical discussions in the said bathroom, interspersed with occasional flashbacks of Syd and London's relationship.
I quite enjoyed London, although I can see how it could be annoying for some people (a lot of bad comments over at IMDb). I imagine that if I met Syd in real life, I'd just want to slap him so he would shut up already, cause, frankly, all his stories are pseudo-intellectual BS that you can only hear from a drugged up 20-year-old. But, I found that, if you don't even try to take it seriously, it's actually a lot of fun. I got a few laughs out of this and a not too corny love story, and what more could you ask for... Jason Statham is great as Bateman, and Jessica Biel is SO stunning, her beauty alone makes this worthwhile.
I was feeling pretty generous last night, so I gave London 7/10 on my IMDb profile. However, I think that, if I hadn't had the misfortune of seeing Evening before it, I would've opted for a more realistic 6/10. Still, it's worth watching if you're up for a bit of mindless fun. It reminded me of Rules Of Attraction, only less depressing, and Go, but without all the action.
... and am wondering: WHY?? Why did people spend time and money to make this?? And, more importantly, why did I spend two hours of my life watching it (well, okay, not really two hours... Fast forward is a great option)?
Basically, this is a drama about a woman on her deathbed, remembering her youth, and about her two daughters struggling with their own problems and differences. Now this sounds exactly like my kind of thing. I like stories about women. I like stories about wasted lives and wrong choices. I like that kind of Mrs Dalloway thing.
Well, let me tell you - this is not Mrs Dalloway...
I have just one word: soppy soppy soppy!
I am utterly amazed at the number of brilliant actors (well, actresses) in this mess. You've got Vanessa Redgrave, Meryl Streep, Glenn Close, Toni Collette, Claire Danes... But what you don't have is a decent script and a director who has a clue about what he's doing. I'm assuming that, since this was based on a book, it must be a very good one. That's the only reason I can think of that the film got made and all these people participated. The story is a complete cliche, and the characters are just totally... flat. You don't give a toss about what happens to them, who lives or dies, who loves who, who's wasted their lives or not...
Oh, and one more thing... The male lead, the heartthrob, the ideal man is played by Patrick Wilson. Patrick Wilson is, I grant you, very cute, but ever since I saw him in Hard Candy (now that's a film!) I find him a bit creepy. It's awkward watching a romantic love scene and wondering whether the hero has a bit of a maniacal twinkle in his eyes...
(p.s. The picture I posted is small on purpose. Trust me, you don't wanna be able to read the tagline!)
Jul 19, 2008
Bow to the kings - formerly New Zealand's fourth most popular guitar-based digi-bongo acapella-rap-funk-comedy folk duo!
I want a new season of the Conchords... Is it ever gonna happen?
Just to remind you of the geniuses that are Bret and Jemaine, I give you - The Most Beautiful Girl in the Room!
...Which chronicles the relationship between Paul Verlaine and Arthur Rimbaud (you know, the French poets...). I've always been slightly obsessed with the fact that Rimbaud was practically this child genius who wrote all his worldchanging poetry by the age of twenty, and then became a merchant and never wrote anything again. So I was quite interested in the subject matter. The film was a 6/10, and is unlikely to appeal to anyone who's not interested in poetry. However, it's absolutely worth seeing, if for no other reason, then at least for the mindblowingly magnificent acting of the two leads (David Thewlis as Verlaine and Leonardo DiCaprio as Rimbaud).
Jul 18, 2008
Well, technically, I haven't actually seen it... I started, but had to stop in order to fetch my vomit bucket. Seriously, picture the scene: an extended family of about 15 people, old and young, are having dinner, and a fully grown man looks at his girlfriend and announces to the whole room "The first time that I saw her I thought that I just died because there's an angel in the room"...
See, I told you it won't do without a bucket...
Jul 15, 2008
Janet Evanovich's Plum Lucky is a between-the-numbers novel (13 1/2) in the hugely popular Stephanie Plum series. Stephanie, lingerie buyer-cum-bounty hunter, is a reckless, incompetent, hilarious Jersey girl who catches FTAs, partners with a plus-sized black ex-prostitute, and can't decide between two hot guys. In Plum Lucky, it's Saint Patrick's Day, and Stephanie needs to team up with the mysterious Diesel, Snuggy the leprechaun, little person Randy Briggs, and two ladies with an attitude - Lula and Connie, in order to save Grandma Mazur who's been kidnapped by a local mafia boss.
I remember that, when I was a kid, my dad had a VHS of The Bourne Identity TV film, and as I recall, I rather liked it.
I got the new version ages ago, but never got around to it until last weekend. As I enjoyed the first part of the trilogy, I saw The Bourne Supremacy a day or two later, and tonight I've seen The Bourne Ultimatum as well.
I highly doubt that there's anyone who doesn't know the basic premise, but here it is: an unconscious man is found in the Mediterranean, and he can't remember anything. The only clue he has of his own identity is a Swiss bank account number embedded in his hip. It turns out he is an assassin in a top secret CIA program. That's about it. All three movies follow Bourne on his quest for the truth and his lost memory, while the Agency is trying its best to cover it all up and “terminate” him.
What can I say? The verdict is a bit tricky... While I loved the first part (and I really, really dislike action movies, so 8/10 from me on this one is a huge compliment), I found myself getting a bit fatigued by the second part, and I almost completely lost interest watching the third one. After all, there are only so many car chases you can see before you start yawning. Also, the plot, save a few details, seems to follow more or less the same pattern in all three films, so it becomes predictable and a bit derivative. So my recommendation is – see the first one, and then take long breaks before you see the second and third one. Don't expect it to be anything else but a good, fast, action-packed adrenaline bomb. And don't trust the IMDB rating which says not only that the third part (Ultimatum) is the best one, but also that it's 127th best film of all time. Not true. But still fun.
Jul 12, 2008
God, I've missed Russell! For those of you who don't know, I'm an avid fan of the British god of comedy – the lovely Mr. Russell Brand. Ever since I first listened to his podcast last August, I've gotten totally hooked, and not only have I never missed a show since, I've also found and listened to all of his previous shows. And seen his movies. And all his TV work... Yes, I'm a twerp...
Anyways, a few weeks ago, my little niece dropped my beloved MP3 player into her bath water, so it hasn't been on top form, which means I've given up listening to my podcasts for a while. And, while I do miss other stuff, like Mark Kermode's movie rants (subscribe here), nothing compares to Russ. His outrageousness, randomness and refusal to conform, and especially his “odd couple” relationship with co-host Matt Morgan have me in stitches every time.
Anyway, this morning I saw Russell's latest “viddycast” (if you think this name for a vodcast is idiotic, check out his autobiography called “My Booky Wook”), and then I had a stroke of genius – my e-book reader also plays MP3s (so does my husband's iPod, but that thing always intimidates me for some reason)!
Now I have some catching up to do, as there are 4 unlistened to shows in my RB folder!
You can find the viddycast and the latest episode of his show on his BBC Radio 2 page.
Jul 9, 2008
Wow! I'm listening to Radiohead and feeling 17 again... I used to love love love Radiohead during my high school years, but then, somewhere around the time of Amnesiac, I stopped following their work and moved onto lighter stuff. Of course, I heard about the landmark release of In Rainbows last fall, but felt too lazy to download it. Oh, what a mistake!
Strangely enough, the one who did get it (now, but better late then never) was my husband, who thoroughly dislikes Radiohead, dismisses them as the most depressing band on the face of the earth, and never calls Thom Yorke by name – in our house he is known as “that whiner of yours” (he shares that title with Damien Rice). So imagine my amazement when I got a text from hubby yesterday saying that In Rainbows is “pretty good”.
Well, after listening to it for hours on repeat, I must say I agree. I wouldn't go so far as some who are touting it as the best Radiohead yet, though - my heart belongs to OK Computer – always and forever. But, although this is not Computer, it's still bloody brilliant. The opening song, 15 Steps, is completely different from anything I've heard from RH so far, and it sucks you in so you are compelled to listen to the whole album. It's my favorite so far, along with the beautiful, melancholy Nude and Reckoner. Take a listen to the live version of Nude in the post below, and get In Rainbows now!
Jul 4, 2008
It's strange how instincts seem to be right on most occasions. When I decided to see this film, I just couldn't remember where I knew Noah Baumbach's name from. Then I started watching it, and I kept thinking “God, this reeks of Wes Anderson”... I don't know why I thought it – Wes Anderson's films are usually much 'quirkier' than this (Rushmore, The Royal Tenenbaums...), but I just somehow got the same feeling watching it. Turns out? Wes Anderson produced this... Which means...
I hated it.
Don't get me wrong – yeah, I dislike Anderson's movies, but I hated this even before I found out he was involved.
The story is too simple for its own sake: two intellectuals – Joan (Laura Linney) and Bernard (Jeff Daniels) are getting a divorce, and their children Frank and Walt are having a hard time accepting it. And that's it. No, really. That's all there is to it. And with a synopsis as straight-forward as that, it still could've been a decent film. Unfortunately, the characters are so unlikeable that it's impossible to sympathize... The father is a declining writer, jealous of every other writer in the world, including his wife. Oh, and he is also a pathetic, sleazy, pompous ass. The older son is trying to be a replica of the father, minus any kind of talent, AND he is a jerk. The younger son is just – I don't know – sort of disturbing... And the mother is perhaps the most likable character, but not explored thoroughly enough. The acting is, I must admit, very good (except maybe from Linney – I've gotten used to expecting much more from her). Jeff Daniels is especially brilliant as the lost middle-aged man trying to hide his failures behind a PhD.
Apart from that? It's just emptiness... Emptiness in the script and in the characters' souls. It's supposed to be an emotional topic, but I just ended up feeling very cold and removed from it all.
Plus, you could see the ending coming from a mile away.
Jul 2, 2008
I have just finished, and I'm sort of speechless... Not often do you get to see a 10/10 movie.
Where do I even begin on this one??
Ok, deep breath... Now start with the synopsis...
It's 2027, and human race faces extinction, as people are no longer able to procreate. The world's youngest citizen has just been killed at the age of 18. The world is in chaos, and Britain, where the film is set, is a true Orwellian society, torn apart by conflicts and terrorism. The totalitarian regime mercilessly persecutes illegal immigrants. In all this mayhem, Theo (Clive Owen) decides to help his ex-wife (Julianne Moore) - who is now a leader of the resistance - to get a young African refugee named Kee to reach the almost mythical Human Project organization. Why? She is the first pregnant woman in 18 years.
Now, what can I tell you about this film? Let's start out with the fact that Alfonso Cuaron is a genius, and we should all kiss his feet... I must say I used to be skeptical about Cuaron, and I could never quite see what all the fuss was about when it came to him. But this? This is truly a work of art... The story is, of course, great, but what really won me over was the attention to detail. Nothing in Children Of Men was left to chance. The cast is superb, and I was especially taken with Owen, whom I'd previously only seen in Closer, where i found him - well, frankly - quite obnoxious... The young lady who played Kee (Clare-Hope Ashitey) was also very convincing, and I think it's a bit lame that they put Julianne Moore's name before her in the credits (don't mean to spoil anything for anyone, but Julianne doesn't play a particularly big role).
The visual identity of the film is magnificent... The cinematography, sets, costumes, everything blends seamlessly to create a true dystopian, and highly disturbing feel of the there and then. Images as brilliant as a stark, grey, futuristic room with the original Guernica on the wall will stay with you long after you've finished watching. So will the combat scene filmed through a blood-splattered camera lens...
The soundtrack, score and sound editing are perhaps the most impressive of all aspects of this masterpiece... Whatever detail I might give you, I'd have to incorporate a part of the plot, but please pay attention to the sound if you watch this. It more then accentuates the plot, it attacks you, then lulls you into a sense of security, only to slap you in the face mere seconds later... It causes unease, and illustrates the pandemonium. Make sure you watch the complete end credits, though. That's something really special...
Speaking of end credits, for a full understanding of the film, and the meaning of the words at the end of the credits (also repeated a few times in the film itself), it would be perfect if you read T.S.Eliot's Wasteland. I know it might seem too much of an effort, but trust me, even if you don't care about the richer understanding of this film that it will provide you with, it's still one of the greatest poems ever written.
Now, if you've never seen Children Of Men, see it this instant. And if you have? See it anyway.
Shantih shantih shantih
Jun 30, 2008
Not Always Right is a laugh-out-loud website about people's stupidity. As you may have guessed already from the title, the people in question are customers - in particular the thick or annoying ones, and the unfortunate employees who had to deal with them give their accounts of these hilarious and often baffling events. I'm not 100% sure all the stories are true, but who cares! They will keep you entertained for hours!
Jun 29, 2008
Jun 25, 2008
If you're addicted to fashion and beauty, and you've got some time on your hands, I have a couple of excellent, highly contagious timekillers to recommend.
Number 1 is Polyvore, where you can make your own fashion sets and dream about all the designer clothes you'd wear if you had that kind of money. And number 2 is my recent discovery - Taaz, a website where you can upload your own pictures and then give yourself makeovers and try different hairstyles. I've been playing with it tonight, so I might upload some of the pictures a bit later.
Another interesting idea is Liftmagic where you can check out what you'd look like after some of the most common plastic surgery procedures! (I thought I looked ridiculous... oh well, that must mean I'm perfect, hehehe)
Jun 23, 2008
Entertainment Weekly has made a bunch of lists celebrating the new classics (entertainment gems from the last 25 years). I have just finished reading the The 100 best films from 1983 to 2008 list, and while I fervently disagree with the number 1 spot, I did quite enjoy the read and was pleasantly surprised by more than one entry (don't mean to spoil the fun for anyone, but Moulin Rouge at number 10 was a great moment!). I must admit though, that I was a bit bummed out that none of my two favorite films was mentioned (The English Patient closely followed by Chasing Amy)... However, a list as diverse as this (think: Austin Powers and Wings Of Desire) deserves to be read, so head over to their site to check it out.
Jun 21, 2008
I'll let you in on a little secret. A sorta embarrassing secret. I'll be 27 in about a week, and I'm still a sucker for coming of age movies. There. I've said it. I'm a 27-year-old who still feels like a teenager.
So, is it any wonder that last night I saw (and liked)a film called Try Seventeen - where the number refers to the age of the main protagonist? The 17-year-old Jones is played by Elijah Wood (of the LOTR fame), and this is the storyline: Jones moves to a town where he is supposed to go to college, but drops out on the first day, rents an apartment and spends his time trying to befriend the other tenants and writing letters to his unknown dad. Mandy Moore and Franka Potente (a German native who you might know from the Bourne movies, or the German Run, Lola, Run) play the two female leads: a manipulative aspiring actress, and a strange, recluse photographer.
So, what did I think of it? I thought that Elijah was at times too dorky to be likable, but was, on the whole, passable. The story was sweet, though cliched; but pay no notice, I say that for every movie I see. After all, all the stories have already been told. It reminded me a bit of Igby Goes Down, although this is much, much lighter and less kooky.
I'd give it a 6.5 out of 10, which, in my eyes is a recommendation.
Jun 19, 2008
I don't watch TV that much, but every once in a while a TV show comes along that I get completely addicted to, and I end up watching all of the episodes in two days. Well, I saw all episodes of Californication in a single afternoon. Yeah, it's that good. "I'm just going to see the first episode to see whether it's any good, and then I'm gonna clean the house." As if.
So, what is it about? David Duchovny plays Hank Moody, an accomplished writer whose life sucks: his partner has left him (and taken their daughter with her), he is facing a writer's block, and his best novel has been made into a corny romcom. His way out? Having as much sex as possible, usually in a drunken stupor. Apparently, the character of Hank is based on Bukowski (Hank Kinaski, anyone?), which might be a tad pretentious. Yes, I like the show, but it is, as hard as it tries, still too sugary and nowhere near the rawness and honesty of good old Buk. But never mind that, it's still better than the other stuff on TV. The script is good, quite cynical and bittersweet at times, and David Duchovny is perfect for the role - wry, older than you remember him, but still as charming.
I highly recommend this, but beware: it is at times obscene, so if you are easily offended, it might not be the show for you. If you're looking for something clean and absolutely pc - you might wanna give it a miss. If you're just looking for fun, make sure you see it! And then join me to speculate about what debauchery awaits Hank in season 2.
Jun 18, 2008
A Softer World is a strange site I occasionally come across when stumbling, and when that happens, I always go back and read ALL the entries. Then I forget about it for a while, until the next chance meeting, and so on. So, what is A Softer World, really? To be honest, I'm not sure how to describe it... It's like a mix of photography and poetry, which reminds one of peculiar, three-picture comics. Some of them are poetic, others humorous in a sophisticated manner.
Anyway, it's beautiful. Go check it out, I'm sure you'll like it.
Jun 17, 2008
Actually, I saw this not half an hour ago, so it's still maybe even too fresh in my mind to make a coherent comment. It was directed and written by a guy named Duncan Tucker, whom, I must admit, I've never heard of before.
Felicity Huffman plays a male to female transsexual (Bree) who is only days away from her sex change operation when she gets an unexpected phone call from the juvenile delinquent center in NYC. She finds out that she has a 17-year-old son from a long forgotten straight relationship, and that he is currently under custody for hustling and substance abuse. Bree is reluctant to deal with the situation and wishes to just forget about the whole thing, but her therapist refuses to let her go through with the operation unless she goes to bail the boy out of jail. And then all the cliches of a classic road movie ensue.
Having said that, I must say I rather enjoy the cliches of road movies.
Felicity Huffman was excellent. I speak without the bias a Desperate Housewives fan would have, cause I'm not one. Having never seen her in a single episode, nor, for that matter, in anything else, I really didn't know what to expect from her, but I must say I was more than pleasantly surprised. First of all, and I don't mean to be rude, but, you know... She's not a very attractive woman, and her features are a bit masculine, so physically she fit the part very well. But what I really loved about her performance was how she managed to overemphasize the femininity slightly, like a man would, and, most of all, the constant sense of restraint seen in her every move and word, and even the very posture of her body.
All in all, the film, although more than a little bit predictable, is still worth seeing. It doesn't cop out with too sugary of an ending... I couldn't yet give a mark out of ten, but I would recommend it for a light cocktail of comedy and drama, a few laughs, and some sincere emotion.
Jun 16, 2008
Jun 15, 2008
Jun 14, 2008
A few weeks ago I discovered Songza, a very useful little website. What is it? Well, basically, it's a large music database that allows you to look for and listen to artists or songs. Music is not available for download, and you're not required to register or pay anything. What is it good for? Well, while I don't think it would be practical to use it to actually listen to music, it is quite useful if you' re not familiar with a particular artist or song and want to check it out; also, if you're in a dilemma about buying an album, listening to a few songs off it might help you decide. All in all, it might come in handy every once in a while.
Popping bubble wrap is one of those things that everybody loves, but no one quite knows why. I must admit that I sometimes feel like an idiot when I realize that my favorite part of buying new electronic equipment is that it's usually wrapped in a bubble wrap sheet. In our house, my husband is the one who actually tries out the device, and I just lunge at the bubble wrap like a mad woman. I've been "popless" for a while now though, and during these dry spells I sometimes visit this page, which is basically a flash which allows you to pop as many fresh sheets as you like, and in two modes: bubble by bubble, or manic. Try it out!
The Forbes list of most powerful celebrities for this year is out, and, as per usual, Oprah tops it, based on her earnings and the approaching launch of her own network. The rest of the top 10 is as follows:
2. Tiger Woods
3. Angelina Jolie
4. Beyonce Knowles
5. David Beckham
6. Johnny Depp
8. The Police
9. J.K. Rowling
10. Brad Pitt
I must say I'm surprised with the presence of The Police on the list. Okay, they reunited and had a successful tour, but would you really consider them "powerful"?
Jun 12, 2008
As I mentioned earlier, JK Rowling was one of the authors who contributed their work for Waterstone's Charity auction. Rowling wrote an 800 word prequel to Harry Potter, set in the days of the original Order of the Phoenix, with James and Sirius as the protagonists. Is it any good? Well, it depends... It's in typical JK style and quite fun. The bad sides? It's so short, and it makes you long for the whole back story. Now I'm hungry for a new book on the Marauders, and the Order and the First Wizarding War, and, unfortunately, I think that's never going to come...
By the way, the card with this story was sold for $50 000 to a Japanese businessman, which, I guess, is peanuts compared to the $1.95 million that Amazon.com paid for The Tales of Beedle the Bard in December 2007.
There is a free audio download of The Study In Emerald, a short story by one of my favorite authors - Neil Gaiman. The story is from his Fragile Things collection, and, apparently, it combines the world of Sherlock Holmes and an HP Lovecraft universe. The PDF story is also available for download from the author's site. (Roam around the Cool Stuff section of his website to find other interesting free downloads.)
Gaiman was also one of the 13 world famous writers (including J.K. Rowling and Doris Lessing) who contributed a story for Waterstone's charity auction held yesterday in London. More about these from me later, and if you want to read them yourselves, you can do so here.
Jun 11, 2008
Apparently, my favourite comedian Russell Brand has been included in the latest edition of the Collins Concise English Dictionary. Way to go Russ! More delicious fame!
If you don't know who Russell is, watch Forgetting Sarah Marshall, or, even better, download the podcast of his radio show on BBC2.
You know how there are some movies that you can always watch... Like, you're bored. Or depressed. Or you accidentally catch it on TV. Or you happen to be reorganizing your DVD collection, and then think to yourself: “Aaaaw, look at this! I might pop it in the player! Just a little bit... Just the first few seconds...” (and the next thing you know, it's been two hours and you haven't actually done any work.)
Here's my list of chick flicks which make me laugh and fall in love alongside the characters, and ALWAYS leave me with a sheepish grin on my face.
In no particular order:
Bridget Jones's Diary (part I) – I'm a bit embarrassed to say that I watch this every Christmas. I mean every. single. one. It's the ultimate feel-good movie with some of the funniest scenes in chick flick history, and an occasional nugget of wisdom. Which woman doesn't identify with Bridget? AND Colin Firth is in it, looking his best (plus, I love the Mark Darcy/Mr Darcy joke. Check out Pride And Prejudice BBC mini series and the Bridget Jones books if you don't know what the joke is.)
Muriel's Wedding – the film that launched Toni Colette's career. It's an Australian gem which features quirky, lovable characters, great dialogue, and a bunch of ABBA songs. Friendless, loveless, unemployed ugly duckling Muriel befriends wild, promiscuous Rhonda and they decide to move to Sydney together. You'll laugh and cry with Muriel as she deals with family problems, illness and death of loved ones, as well as her addiction for trying on wedding dresses. Oh, she will get married, but it won't be quite what you'd expect.
A Lot Like Love – If you haven't seen many Ashton Kutcher movies, I'm sure you tend to think of him as : a) the stupid guy from That 70s Show; or b) the annoying guy from Punk'd. Or at least that's what I knew him for before I saw A Lot Like Love. And after seeing it? Well, I developed a bit of a crush on him... The “regular guy” Ashton meets “bad girl” Amanda Peet (who is absolutely stunning!) on a plane, and then they keep crossing each other's path for the next seven years. The New Year's Eve kiss? (*swoons*)
Reality Bites – this flick just oozes the spirit of the 90s, which I love. The essence of Generation X, only not depressing. You know: a bunch of twenty-somethings don't really know what to do with their lives after graduating. Winona Ryder is torn between smart-ass, rude layabout Ethan Hawke and obnoxious yuppie Ben Stiller (who actually directed this! Why he went on to star in a bunch of crap films will never be clear to mankind...).
Breakfast At Tiffany's/Roman Holiday - I couldn't decide on only one of these Audrey Hepburn classics. Anything I could say about them feels superfluous, except: see them! Both are charming, although I would say that Breakfast has a slightly darker, more serious feel to it. On the other hand, Roman Holiday doesn't have a happy ending... I don't even know why I'm explaining this... As if there's anyone who hasn't seen these.
A Life Less Ordinary – back in the day, when Cameron Diaz wasn't annoying, and Ewan McGregor was young and cute. Any part of the plot I could tell you is a cliché, but when you stick it all together, it becomes a unique, hilarious and slightly weird RomCom. Two angels are desperate to complete the mission of bringing together Celine (Cameron Diaz) - a spoilt rich girl, and Robert (Ewan McGregor) - a cleaner who used to work in Celine's father's company, but was replaced by a robot. Celine and Robert try to fake her abduction in order to get money from her dad, but things don't go quite as planned. The ransom demand scene will have you rolling on the floor, and Holly Hunter and Delroy Lindo are comedy gold as the two angels.
My Best Friend's Wedding – You know the story: Julia Roberts has just realized that she's in love with her best friend Dermot Mulroney and she has only a few days to prevent him from marrying Cameron Diaz. For once Julia Roberts is likable (although playing herself, as usual), and Rupert Everett is brilliant as her gay friend/voice of reason. The karaoke scene will reduce you to tears - due to both laughter and embarrassment. Oh, and this one comes from the same guy who directed Muriel's Wedding.
Love Actually – another British Christmas favorite, a perfect choice for Boxing Day, when you're stuffing your face with sweets and leftovers. Follows the love lives of a group of interconnected people. Very warm and comforting. The cast is absolutely superb. British crème de la crème. If I had to pick a favorite storyline, I don't think I could... It's absolutely incredible how the filmmakers managed to develop all the characters so well that you actually care about ALL of them.
Show Me Love – a cute Swedish film, about two very different teenage girls and their search for love and their sexuality. One of my favorite kiss scenes. The storyline is very simple: one of the girls is an outcast because of rumours about her alleged homosexuality (which are true), and the other is popular but bored with everything: her friends, boys, and the small town she lives in.
Chasing Amy - Now, I love almost all of Kevin Smith's movies, but this is definitely my favorite, and also probably my second-favorite movie of all time. It's laugh-out-loud funny, it's sharp, it's intelligent, it has an excellent script, the specific feel of the Kevin Smith universe, references to characters/events from other KS films... Why is it better than the rest of his films? It's deep, emotional, personal. To quote the film: "I guess I finally had something personal to say..."
Why isn't it in the original list?
I don't necessarily think of it as a chick flick.
Pride and Prejudice (BBC mini series) - I know that having a crush on a fictional character is super-lame, but show me a woman who claims not to have a crush on Mr Darcy, and I'll show you a liar!
This is by far the best adaptation of the Jane Austen classic, with Colin Firth as the ultimate Darcy and feisty Jennifer Ehle as Lizzy. Gather your girlfriends, buy A LOT of snacks and set off on a 300 minute marathon of best romance that ever existed. And be prepared to faint at least once due to Mr Darcy's sexy scowl...
Why isn't it in the original list?
Well, technically, it's a mini series, not a film.