Saturday, June 5, 2010

In Case Anyone is Unaware...

I am blogging for my IPP at a new website now, so for anyone who hasn't already, please update your bookmarks:


Wednesday, May 19, 2010

I'm Running...

Run Lola Run, 1998, Germany

Twenty minutes is really not a long time. It often feels like forever to me, especially when I'm feeling anxious about something, but in the grand scheme of things, it's just a few grains of sand in the hourglass known as life.

Lola has twenty minutes to find 100,000 DM, and deliver it to her boyfriend in order to save his life. Twenty minutes to run to where he's located, get the money (somehow) and deliver it. Not a long time, huh?

The film is not a long one, at 81 minutes. But in that time, three different scenarios are played out, each lasting roughly 20 minutes. They sure managed to cram a lot of story in those 20 minutes. Before watching the movie, I was aware that it consisted of three different scenarios, and I was also aware that the film was parodied in an episode of The Simpsons called "Trilogy of Error". In fact, that may have been how I first heard of the movie. I'm vaguely recalling a conversation I had with my Dad way back when the episode first aired, where he told me that it was based on a movie called Run Lola Run.

The purpose of the three scenarios is to show how mere seconds impact events in the rest of your life. Minutes, seconds, can end a life or save a life. I haven't spent much time thinking about it, but I sure am now. Everyone has those days where they get a phone call they've been waiting for all day when they're in the washroom and can't take the call. In the film, one single event at the beginning of each scenario determined whether Lola was delayed by seconds, or faster by seconds, and those seconds matter.

I loved the movie. It was exciting, and made me feel...energized. I was familiar with Tom Tykwer from Perfume: The Story of a Murderer, but this is by far the better film. The edits, the soundtrack, the acting, and the story all fit together. Speaking of the was fantastic. I'm not sure I've ever heard a soundtrack quite like it, but I loved it!

I've got this song stuck in my head as a result of the movie:

In other news, I can't help but wonder what watching 200 movies will do to my figure. I do enjoy a snack while I'm watching a movie, and since I'll be watching roughly one a day, that's a lot of junk food! Perhaps I should make it a goal to adopt better snacking habits over the duration of my IPP?

Does anyone have any healthy snack recommendations? Remember: I am a pathetically bad cook.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

"Robert Downey Jr is the Only Man Cocky Enough to Play Iron Man"

My friend Tiffany said the above line. This means...I've just gotten home from Iron Man 2!

Iron Man 2, 2010, USA

Ultimately, I enjoyed it. It was a fun summer movie. But it wasn't as good as the first one was, which is not unexpected. To me, it felt like they tried to cram far too much story into too short a time. This meant that certain plot lines were neglected, or given a less than satisfactory conclusion. This is a common problem with sequels: they try too hard to live up the original, so they try to cram in every "cool" storyline possible, in order to impress the fans. It doesn't work! I think the movie would have been better if pieces were trimmed a little. Perhaps Scarlett Johanson's part, which felt like a bit of a waste to me. I thought Mickey Rourke was awesome, but very under-utilized. I wanted to see a lot more of his character.

Don Cheadle replaced Terrance Howard as James "Rhodey" Rhodes in the sequel. Cheadle did an adequate job, but I think the role belongs to Howard. He felt more convincing to me, and it's a shame that he was replaced. I know he has a reputation for being hard to work with, but he was just brilliant in the role.

And as Tiffany said...there's only one man who could play Iron Man, and that is the magnificent Robert Downey Jr. I never really noticed him until I saw Iron Man, but oh did I ever notice him after that movie. Since then, I've seen a few more of his movies (though not nearly enough of them), and I think he's got a real talent. Plus he oozes charisma.

Definitely go see the movie in theatres. It's so much fun, and enjoying an air conditioned theatre is a perfect way to spend a summer evening!

It's Funny how Fallin' Feels like Flyin' for a Little While

My Dad rented Crazy Heart last night, so I decided to give it a watch today. I’d wanted to see it in theatres, but I didn’t really have anyone to go with, and even if I did, I didn’t have any time to go. Two things in the movie stood out for me: Jeff Bridges, and the soundtrack.

I enjoy Jeff Bridges. It’s funny: I enjoy his work, and he has a very recognizable face, but I can never remember his name. While on my way to Chicago, we watched Iron Man on the bus, and I sat there, driving myself crazy trying to remember what his name was. I could list off a bunch of movies he’d been in (most notably, The Big Lebowski), but I couldn’t for the life of me, remember his name. I was thinking something like Jim Scott, but I knew that was wrong. Whenever I can’t remember something like that, it tends to reenter my head the moment I go off to look it up. That’s when I shout the name, or the fact, or whatever it is out in glee, confusing and scaring all those around me.

Unfortunately, I was on a bus and had no way of looking up his name. It was days before I remembered his name, and I may have actually found a way to look it up. I don’t remember, but I think I did scare someone when I remembered it and shouted it out. I can never seem to remember his name. I’m the same way with Holly Hunter.

So Jeff Bridges made the movie for me. Without him, it would have been a very simple, very straightforward story. His performance was layered, and he created a character that was at times heartbreaking and pathetic. It was a well deserved Oscar.

The soundtrack really impressed me as well. I’m generally not a big fan of country music, but Jeff Bridges and Colin Farrell were great singers, and really made it work. I can’t help but wonder if my Dad’ll buy the soundtrack – I hope he does so I can borrow it and put it on my iPod. My Dad likes Jeff Bridges, and the music in the film is probably the type that he enjoys. He has the soundtrack of O Brother, Where Art Thou?, and often listens to it in the car. I’ve heard it about a million times. I actually really like the soundtrack…but I’ve never seen the movie! I’m hoping to see it over the course of this project, but I wonder how strange it will be to see it for the first time, and be able to sing along to half the songs?

I’m going to be going out to see Iron Man 2 this evening, so I am hoping to write another entry when I get home about that movie as well! It has been a movie I’ve been looking forward to since the sequel was announced.

This song was my favourite off the soundtrack, at least after a single viewing of the film:

Saturday, May 15, 2010

And so I Begin

Casablanca - 1944, USA

Recommended by: Amanda and Desiree

A couple people have asked what my first movie would be for this project of mine. I always sort of assumed it would be Requiem for a Dream, since it is the first movie I put on my list.

But as I sat here at my computer last night, I felt restless, and felt like I needed to start on this project of mine. And I felt like watching Casablanca. I wanted to watch a love story, and more importantly, I wanted to watch a tragic love story. Ultimately, this was a movie about sacrifice. Rick loved Ilsa. Ilsa loved Rick. Maybe they would have been happy together…maybe they wouldn’t have. But they’ll never get a chance to find out, because both of them made sacrifices that were, perhaps, for the best. In Paris, Ilsa didn’t leave with Rick because she received word that her husband, Victor was alive and hiding in Paris. At the end, Rick refused to leave with Ilsa because he told her, in the iconic line, that she would regret it if she stayed, "maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but soon and for the rest of your life." And Victor sacrificed too. He begged Rick to take Ilsa to America because he loved her so much, he just wanted her to be safe, even if she was with another man.

During my first year of University, I wrote a paper on film censorship for my Academic Writing class. I focused on the Hays Code, which set the “moral” standards that films had to maintain. This code was in effect until 1968, when the MPAA rating system was put into effect. One of the principles stated that “the sanctity of marriage and the home had to be upheld”. So, according to this code, Ilsa could never end up with Rick. I must wonder: would the ending change today? I hope not. I love the tragedy of it, and the sacrifice involved from all parties. Plus she married Victor before she met Rick, so surely she must love him?

I read in the Wikipedia article that the film was colourized in the 80’s. What a crime. When I was watching the movie, my Mom teased me, and remarked that I needed to “adjust the TV” because it wasn’t in colour. But while I was watching the movie, I found myself admiring the cinematography, and the striking contrast between the black and the white. It was gorgeous. There are screenshots from the colourized version on Wikipedia, and it takes away so much, in my opinion.

So why hadn’t I seen it before? I’ve seen very few “classic” films. An ongoing theme of this project will be me rectifying all of my “cinematic embarrassments”. I’ve seen a good number of films from about 2003 onwards, but there are many important and respected movies from before that time that I’ve just never seen. Part of it is the fact that I love going to the theatre, and often, if I don’t see a movie in the theatre, it’s months or even years before I catch it. I love the experience of sitting in a dark theatre, watching a movie on a big screen, and experiencing it with a group of people. Last year, I saw something like 50 movies in the theatre. This year, I haven’t gone nearly that often. I probably won’t go all that often, but I fully intend on seeing a few movies at the theatre. I will just need to prioritize them.

So movie number 1 is down. 199 more to go. I’m feeling pumped, and ready to watch more!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Doing the Tourist Thing in Chicago

I thought I'd devote this entry to the day I went to the Art Institute of Chicago, and the Willis Tower (formerly known as the Sears Tower).

That morning we arrived at the Art Institute in the rain. I'd been really looking forward to visiting it, because I've only ever been to the Winnipeg Art Gallery, which is great, but much smaller. I'm far from an art expert, but I enjoy looking at it, and admiring the talent involved in creating an art piece. I also find the creativity fascinating. Many of the art pieces were very simple - I could have made them, but it was so interesting to see what one considers art. My favourite art style is impressionism, so it was wonderful to go through that section of the museum. Unfortunately, I could not spend as much time there as I'd have liked, because it was nearing lunch time, and I was starving. My favourites were the Van Gogh pieces, because he's my favourite painter. I completely fell in love with Monet while I was there - I wasn't familiar with his work, but the Art Institute had a lot of it, and I loved it!

I also enjoyed looking at all of the artifacts on display. Yes, in their time they were nothing more than everyday objects, but to us they're fascinating. I'm also a bit of a history nerd, so I always get a kick out of artifacts. I loved thinking about what modern objects would be placed in a museum 400 years from now. Perhaps an iPod would be placed behind glass? That begs a question: would Steve Jobs be named as the "artist"?

After lunch, we decided to visit the Willis Tower. The weather had cleared up, and it was warm and sunny, so we thought it'd be perfect for taking pictures. We got on an elevator after watching a movie about the tower, and taking photos with the wall paintings of Michael Jordan, Oprah and Barack Obama. It was a 60 second elevator ride to the 103rd floor, and our ears popped the whole way.

I'm generally pretty good with heights. I'm okay with tall buildings, and being up high - even looking down from the window in a tall building. Therefore, I was completely okay on the Skydeck. My tolerance was severely tested by the glass balconies. I got brave enough to stand in one, but feeling the wind shake beneath me, and seeing all the way down shook me up a bit. I stayed there long enough for a few photos, and got right out of there. My friend Amanda is much braver than I, and actually lay face down in the box when she visited the tower!

Brietta and I were able to sit down in the glass balcony.

The view was absolutely gorgeous. We really lucked out, because we picked the perfect day to go up. Here are some of the photos I took:

Of course, as a film fan, I got a real kick out of this wall of the Skydeck.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Movies in Chicago

I came home from my trip last night. This will be the first of what will probably be several blog entries about the trip, since I just can't get it all in one entry! I thought I'd talk about my movie experiences while on the trip.

I had decided to bring my portable DVD player, and a number of movies on the off chance anyone wanted to watch a movie on the bus or in the hotel room. It turns out there were TVs and a DVD player on the bus, so we watched a whole bunch of movies on the way there and back. I like to think I did a pretty decent job picking out what movies to bring. I brought: Shaun of the Dead, Serenity, The Shawshank Redemption, Anchorman, V for Vendetta, Iron Man, and Monsters, Inc. We ended up watching all of them except for V for Vendetta. If you're planning a trip and bringing DVDs, bring a variety, so there is something for everyone. For the most part, I kept it to pretty light-hearted movies. And of course, ones without subtitles, which are difficult to read on any small screen.

I'd decided to go see Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back with Jason and Kenton as well. I wanted to see it on the "big screen", since I'd only ever seen it on VHS. Actually, I think I'd only seen it twice in its entirety, when I was about ten years old. Back then, I had a huge crush on Luke Skywalker, and watched it those two times over the weekend we'd rented it. I thought it'd be a pretty neat experience to watch it in a theatre, and it was! The picture and sound were amazing.

Kenton looks giddy as can be!

I thought it was awesome to compare the thoughts I'd had as a child with my thoughts now. Back then, the Luke stuff was obviously my favourite, but now, I found the Yoda/Luke stuff to be a little dull. The stuff with Han Solo, Leia, and the rest was much more interesting. I also didn't catch a lot of the humour within the movie as a child. Kenton mentioned at one point that he thought that Han was really the hero of Episode V, and I'd never thought about it like that before. But I do agree with him: Luke is off doing his own thing for much of the movie, so Han steps it up and becomes the hero.

We saw the movie at the Field Museum. I only had about an hour to look around the museum before the movie started, so I only got to see the lobby, and the Egypt exhibit. The museum looked amazing, and I definitely want to return someday to see the rest.

I also went on a mob tour Thursday morning. One of the locations our tour guide took us to was the Biograph theatre, which was the location of John Dillinger's death. Last year, Dillinger's story was told in the film Public Enemies, starring Johnny Depp. I could only get a photo from the bus I'm afraid, but it was still pretty neat to see.

We agreed to meet at the theatre, right, Mr. Depp?

One of the tour guides looked and sounded like David Morse.

I'm not sure if I saw any movies actually being filmed, but I saw shooting locations from The Dark Knight, Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Public Enemies and The Untouchables.

Keep reading for more Chicago experiences!