Wednesday, December 30, 2009

I Present to Current Favourite Commercial (and Movie Thoughts)

And for those who want to see it in its full glory here it is.

This Toyota ad has been playing this month at Cineplex theatres. I don't usually notice the ads they play before movies, but this one really stood out to me. It's moving, uses a great song (which was apparently created for the ad...because many people online can't find a title or an artist), and it's Canadian! I went to see The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus, and Sherlock Holmes today with a friend of mine, and raved about the commercial once again to her. I explained exactly why I think it's a good ad. And here's what I said:

It's not your typical car ad, meaning there's no flashy driving, speeding, lights flashing, etc. It's simple, and it leaves you wondering. Why are they showing all of these clips? What is this ad even for? Until the statistic and voiceover came on, I couldn't have even given a guess. I like being kept guessing. One day I want to be able to come up with an ad this good. Of course, the writers were helped by a pretty awesome statistic, something you'd obviously want to be advertising (Toyotas are long lasting, so go buy one!).

Kudos to Saatchi & Saatchi.

I'll write a top movies of 2009 list sometime early in the new year, since I'll be out tomorrow night. However, I saw my last two '09 movies today, and wanted to give some brief thoughts on both.

The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus: I was supposed to see this last night, but my friend was unable to get a ticket, since I got the last one (curses to cheap movie Tuesday). We decided to go today, were able to get tickets very easily, and thought that maybe we should go see Sherlock Holmes as well. Anyways, this movie certainly left me thinking. Far from a "leave your brain at the door" film; I found myself having to concentrate really hard to follow the plot. Which made me very happy. The late Heath Ledger was excellent, as were Johnny Depp, Jude Law, and Colin Farrell, who all took over his role after he died. I enjoyed it very much, though it felt very bittersweet. I love Johnny Depp, and have for years, but I have also loved Heath Ledger for years. As a young teenager, it was my dream to see the two of them act in a film together. That dream came true today, but under the very worst of circumstances. Indeed, they never "acted" together, since Depp was simply taking over the role he was unable to finish.

The visuals were outstanding, and the acting was pretty good all around. I really like Tom Waits, who played Mr. Nick, and Lily Cole was just beautiful. She has the face of a doll:

It's an interesting fantasy movie...go and check it out.

Sherlock Holmes: This was more of a "fun" movie. I certainly didn't really need to think much through it. Robert Downey Jr and Jude Law worked very well off of each other. This is my first real experience with anything Sherlock Holmes related (save for having one of the stories read to me as a kid, which I don't remember a thing of), so I can hardly judge how accurate it is to the books. I took it as a film alone as a result, and it kept me entertained. By the way, Eddie Marsan plays Inspector Lestrade in the film, I recognized him, but could not place where I'd seen him. Turns out, he played Scott, in the excellent Happy-Go-Lucky! He did a good job with a fairly small supporting role.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Viewing the French Channel

I had an interesting experience this evening. I ended up at my good friend's place, and after a marathon of Wii Sports Resort we decided to switch off the video games and watch some television. After channel surfing, we happened upon a screening of Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End. Only problem is: it was in French, and neither of us speak it. She hadn't seen the movie; she's seen the first Pirates and about half of the second, but we decided to watch a bit of it. I've seen all three numerous times, but it has been about a year, so I was giving her information about the plot from memory. It surprised me just how much detail I was able to give her, and how watching it with my commentary made it almost make sense for her. Ultimately, we tired of putting up with the poor dubbing, and changed the channel.

The experience made me think though. Is there a movie out there that would be great, or even better if you couldn't understand it? If the characters spoke a different language, and you had to decide what was going on through action alone. I can't think of any off the top of my head. There is one that would certainly be very bizarre without the subtitles. It's called Battle Royale. The basic premise is this: a class of high school students are sent to an island, given weapons, and told to kill each other. The last one standing "wins". I saw it after reading the book so it wouldn't be nearly as bizarre to me. I can just imagine it from the perspective of someone watching it un-subtitled, and without any prior knowledge, I think it'd be rather frightening.

Now I'm kind of feeling a Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End, and a Battle Royale double feature. What a strange combination. If anyone is interested in watching Battle Royale, I'd like to advise that the sequel is not much good. It brings up some very interesting points, but ultimately, it was poorly executed. Not a complete waste of time, but not a film I'd watch again (which is a shame because I got the two of them as a package). The first one is quite good though.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Avatar (and Soundtrack Musings)

I'm quite ill today, so I'll probably refrain from going into as much detail as I would like to on this topic (or so I say at this time, I may get carried away). Nevertheless, I wanted to get into this topic while it was still fresh in my mind.

First off: Avatar was a decent film. The visuals definitely made it what it was, storywise, it was pretty weak. Like I thought, it was a retelling of Dances With Wolves and The Last Samurai. But visually, it was a masterpiece. I don't think I've ever seen a film look as good as this one did. The 3-D was the best I've seen in a film. The Na'vi looked so real, almost like they could walk off the screen. See it in theatres. Even if you don't "like" the story, it'll be worth it for the visuals alone. I was disappointed by the lack of character development though, and would like to learn more about the world of Pandora. It was just so fascinating, and so beautiful--almost like a character in itself.

Now, a topic most people aren't talking about: the soundtrack. I liked it. However, I recognized several bits of the music from other films. I sat there in the theatre at one particular moment wondering where one piece was from, because I knew it was from a film I'd seen multiple times. Y'know, instead of paying attention to the movie, I was thinking about music. I'd thought far enough that it was probably a violent movie, possibly a war film. Here is the piece of music in mind (I've included it as a link because the title of the piece contains a slight spoiler to the film, and I want to give people the choice whether or not they want to view it based on that fact):

Avatar soundtrack, piece 10 (begins about the 5 minute mark)

It's not the main musical composition of the piece, but still I recognized it! I did research when I got home, and found out that James Horner, the composer, likes to "recycle" his past music and rework it into his soundtracks rather than creating entirely new pieces. Therefore, I did more research, and John Tillnes a man who is obviously much more knowledgeable about music than I, gave me the insight I needed to solve my problem (with some help from the commenters as well). Apparently the repeating music at the end is called a "four-note motif", and it's a common theme of Horner's. After reading the comments, I finally figured it out: Enemy at the Gates! That motif is used quite liberally through out the film during really tense moments, thus making it stick out in my mind. It helps that I've watched the film numerous times. Here's the piece in question (again, linked to because of a slight spoiler):

Enemy at the Gates

Clearly the motif is used at the forefront of this piece, whereas it is a bit more subtle in the Avatar piece.

I found another, with a bit of assistance from a friend as well, the following piece is similar to many pieces of the Glory soundtrack:

Avatar Soundtrack, Piece 6

I've read that there are similarities to the Titanic score, among many others. I didn't catch any other similarities though, because my fascination with movie music is a fairly recent one. Before, I hardly noticed the music, save for a particularly good piece. That, and I haven't watched Titanic in over two and a half years, despite owning it on DVD. It's just too long to watch most of the time, I don't have the attention span for it. Gangs of New York is one of the very few "long" movies I can watch on even a semi-regular basis, because it's one of my favourites. However, I don't believe Kirk has seen Titanic, so that should be remedied at some point.

So how do I feel about Horner "borrowing" from his past sound tracks? It doesn't really bother me that much. He's clearly got a specific style, so if it works for one film, and can work for another...go at it. But it is a problem when the pieces are much too similar. Noticing that four-note motif was clearly distracting for me, but I also recognize that I'm quite nerdy about movies in general. For the casual fan, I doubt they'd notice. I don't think I'd say that I dislike Horner, his music is actually quite moving, but there are other composers out there that I like a whole lot more.

Friday, December 18, 2009

They're Tryna Mess with Conan!

If the rumours are to be believed anyway.

This upsets me. As everyone knows, Conan is my favourite late night personality, and I watch his show whenever I can. If they are true, it's really not fair to dump him so quickly. The Tonight Show has undergone a large (and positive) change this year, so of course viewership is going to be down. And to put that dunce, Jay Leno, on just before Conan is obviously going to affect the ratings of The Tonight Show, and not in a positive way. Who came up with the "brilliant" idea to get rid of five hours of prime time programming anyway? With Leno spouting his mouth about taking back The Tonight Show if offered to him, of course NBC is going to be tempted. Leno gave them good ratings because his demographic was much older than Conan's. I'm more in Conan's demographic, and I know I can't watch his show all the time because of school obligations and social commitments. That's the norm, plus many people my age don't watch any light night tv.

This reminds me of what I read about his very beginnings on Late Night. I don't actually remember any of this happening since I was a wee tyke, but from what I've read, he was almost fired several times in his first few years. But he started in '93, can't NBC have a little faith in him by now? He's a funny dude, and they should know it.

It's clear that NBC is scrambling because ratings are falling everywhere. I can't see lasting past this season because ratings have been taking a nose dive and it's expensive to produce. Plus the quality of the show is not great. I mourn for the first season when the show was actually....gasp!....good. Now I watch it mostly out of habit, and because I want to know how it ends. They're probably canning Trauma as well, from what I've read, and that's a show that has been getting better and better.

Therefore, if they get rid of Conan, I'll most likely have no reason to watch NBC anymore. Am I the only one who sees the network either doing a large restructuring or going under sometime in the next few years? It is not doing well at all. Maybe one good thing that would happen if Conan gets fired is that at least he's off that sinking ship. Surely another network will snatch him up.

Monday, December 14, 2009

My Feelings on Christmas

I don't particularly like this time of year. I could even be called a "Grinch" by some, though I don't think I am. I've got a good explanation as to why I don't like this time of year, and I hope you all bear with me while I get into it.

My birthday is a week before Christmas (and my brother's is December 3rd). I hate this fact, because it makes for a very busy December, and I get overwhelmed when I'm too busy. Why can't my birthday be any other time of the year, so that the celebrations are more spread out? Celebrating my birthday is tough for me as well, for the same reasons I'm about to get into.

When I was in high school, I was really depressed. I don't like to get into details, especially in a public setting such as this, but I'm fine now in that department. But the holidays are tough when you're depressed. Imagine having to pretend even harder that things are "okay", not just okay but "awesome" for a whole month? It was always tough for me to do. I wondered why the Christmas "magic" didn't hit me the same way it hit me when I was a kid. I was also an insomniac back then, and I remember one very early Christmas morning where I sat in front of the computer listening to "Happy Christmas (War is Over) " by John Lennon (my favourite Christmas tune) and U2's "Window in the Skies" on repeat because I couldn't sleep and for some reason the voices of Lennon and Bono cheered me up.

Then the December before last and last December were still a little rough. Both times I was dealing with boy issues and obviously such things put a damper in the holiday season. Last Christmas I loved someone very much who I saw for the first time in several months on my birthday. We had decided over the summer to continue whatever our relationship was when he came back to the city in December, but he showed up to my party and made it clear he wasn't interested. It became very clear when he refused to kiss me at the end of the night. I went home, from my own birthday party that night, and cried all night. I had to pretend everything was okay a few days later because it was my friend's party, but after going home the next day, I spent it moping, and had to be pulled out of the house by friends to celebrate our own version of Christmas. But I basically spent all the days leading up to Christmas crying every minute of the day, until I saw this individual and we actually talked about it and he told me he wasn't interested. It still broke my heart, but I'd done so much crying by that point I accepted the time anyway.

Christmas Eve last year was okay because we went to see family. I still spent a lot of time there hoping I'd feel my phone vibrate and that it would be him, deciding he wanted to see me. Christmas Day was also a nice day, but it was all the same thing. My mind was preoccupied by someone who I have long realized wasn't worthy of more than a second thought.

So why do I still dislike Christmas? I have a wonderful boyfriend who loves me dearly and treats me like gold, the best friends on the planet, and an amazing family. Surely I should be out there carolling, and wearing tinsel wrapped around my head? But I can't. The magic has been ruined. I know there's never a good time to hurt, but I think Christmas is the worst time of year to be depressed or get your heart broken. And I've experience two heartbreaks over Christmas, and several years of really terrible sadness before that. I think I stay unenthusiastic over this time of year in order to protect myself. If I'm not excited, I can't be disappointed when it goes wrong. But I think that tactic is a bad one because I think it will be a good Christmas, because things are all set up to go RIGHT and not go wrong. But it's hard to let down that wall, and I've actually been a little sad these past few days, because my birthday and Christmas are coming up, and the painful memories have been rushing back. My birthday party is actually going to be on my birthday again this year, and I'm worried I'll be sad, because of all that happened last year. But I've got great friends coming, and Kirk will be coming so it should go well. :) Maybe then the Christmas spirit will come out.

But right now, I've got John Lennon on repeat, and that's about as full of Christmas spirit as I can get. It's just fine for right now. We put up the decorations earlier this week. I got told by my Mom a few weeks back that I "better not turn into my Dad" (who hates putting up decorations until about December 13th), because I said that Christmas decorations should not be put up until at least December 10th. But I think I've already become my Dad in that regard, like Father, like daughter in yet another way. I don't think he's one to get super enthusiastic about Christmas, but my Mom is. She gets so disappointed on Christmas morning because my brother and I don't react with the glee we used to when we open our gifts. I'm appreciative of course, but very...stoic. I like Christmas dinner, because the food is delicious, and it's just time spent with my family, which is always nice. We usually watch a movie in the evening as well, which doesn't happen often enough.

If you all see me running through malls dressed as an elf, you will know that either I've embraced the Christmas spirit, or I've gone mad. Happy Holidays!

Oh, and to keep it somewhat on topic, what's your favourite Christmas special? And your favourite Christmas movie? For me, I always liked Christopher Christmas Tree as a kid. As for movies, depends on what counts as a Christmas movie. Edward Scissorhands, my favourite movie, takes place during Christmas, but I don't really count it. I do count Love Actually, so I can say that one is probably my favourite. I also enjoy It's a Wonderful Life, and Elf. And while we're at it, favourite Christmas tune?

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Alpha Prime One

It's now Winter break and even though I'm excited about the time off, it's a little bittersweet. I am going to miss everyone in Section 1, and especially our dynamic. We were loud, crazy, and always super fun. I love how supportive we all were of one another, and how close we all became. I've made many very close friendships that mean the world to me. And every day going to school after the first few days, I had a smile on my face because I knew that the day was going to be fun, because everyone makes it fun. You really couldn't be sad for long around everyone because we are such an enthusiastic, barrel of sunshine bunch. Don't all be strangers, everyone!

That being said, I am looking forward to coming back to school to not only see my friends, but to meet new ones too! I can't wait to meet everyone in the new Section 3! And of course, going to more excellent CreComm events with new people, and with old. I just want to say thank you to all of Alpha Prime One for making my CreComm experience as excellent as it has been. You're all wonderful folks.


And to keep this blog entry somewhat relevant, I started playing Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 yesterday. My brother, Steven, came downstairs and watched me while he was playing on the computer, and continually marvelled at just how poor I was at the game. I don't think I quite get it yet, here's a snippet of our conversation:

Me: Hey, when they say get cover, where do I go? Does someone come to give me first aid?
Steven: No, you just go and hide until you're better.
Me: But that's not how war works. You don't just 'get better', I was shot, why am I not dead?
Steven: It's just a game.
Me: ....I just died again...I fell off a cliff.
Steven: I didn't even know you could do that.
Me: I did it three times.
Steven: Man, you suck.

Aww man, I love shooters, but I really am no good at them. I'm better off sticking to Harvest Moon. But back to the game for me I think. It's fun, though I do much prefer the Resident Evil series.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Home Stretch, and Blind Buys

One last exam tomorrow, and I'll be free for three weeks. I'll be using this time to do the things I haven't had time for: reading, video games (my brother got that new Call of Duty game and I'm itching to try it out), and of course, more movies! I've been pretty lucky when it comes to getting theatre films in: I manage my time pretty good and they're usually date nights for Kirk and I. But that means I don't watch nearly as many at home. I actually have several movies I've "blind bought", but never watched! Here's a list of some of the ones I have, that I've never seen:

A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints: I really like Robert Downey Jr, and I bought this a year and a half ago, because it sounded interesting. Unfortunately, I've never watched it, claiming to have never been "in the mood" for it. I'll try to put it in during Winter break.

The Green Mile: I got it in a 2 for 1 deal along with The Shawshank Redemption (which I'd also never seen, but I watched it and it was amazing) and still have not seen it. The long running time has been keeping me from getting on it, but I can see it being a "date night" movie.

Freaks and Geeks: The Complete Series: I got this well over a year and a half ago as well, on a recommendation from someone. I have yet to watch a single episode. In my defence, I am notoriously bad for watching tv on DVD. I have been trying to get through all of the early ER seasons for years now, but I go through stages where I'll get through an entire season in two weeks...only to get bored and stop for a year. That's partly why I've never put it in.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The Complete First Season: Take the above excuse, and add onto it the fact that I received it from someone shortly before our relationship ended. That kind of soured it for me, so I honestly can't see myself ever watching it.

Dracula, Frankenstein and The Wolf Man: I put these three together because I got them with the "Ultimate Edition" of Van Helsing. Van Helsing is one of my favourite "guilty pleasure" movies, so I just had to have the collector's edition, which came with these three movies. And I've never watched them. I will though, most likely starting with The Wolf Man, since the remake is coming out next year.

Spanglish: This one belongs to my parents, but I've still never seen it. Never had a whole lot of interest in it, but maybe one day I'll put it in.

Paul Blart: Mall Cop: My brother got this one as a gift. Again, could not be less interested in it if I tried, but who knows? Maybe one day...

I'm pretty sure that is all of them....not as bad as I'd thought actually. I collect DVDs (as well as books....and my ticket stubs), and on last count had about 120, and I know I've bought a few more since then. CreComm has kind of killed that habit since I haven't bought a single DVD since before I started school. I have a few on my Christmas list though, so I'm hoping to get a few.

Have you ever "blind bought" a film? It's a bad habit of mine. I usually only do it with films I've read about at length (so I'll be sure I'll like them), or ones that come highly recommended (as with The Shawshank Redemption, heard nothing but glowing things, but knew nothing about the plot until I put it in).

As for Winter break, I am hoping to get a chance to check out Adam Resurrected. I think it sounds really interesting, although a guy I know said it was "ridiculous", but not necessarily in a good way. Jeff Goldblum is awesome, however, so even if it is not very good, it won't be a waste of my time at all. Plus there's going to be a ton of awesome movies coming out, The Lovely Bones, Avatar, The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, Nine, even Sherlock Holmes looks like a ton of fun, although way over marketed in theatres. Personally, I'm most looking forward to Doctor Parnassus, Heath Ledger's last (incomplete) role. Johnny Depp, Jude Law, and Colin Farrell save the day by helping to take on Ledger's role, plus Christopher Plummer, and Tom Waits are in it! Directed by Terry Gilliam (I really need to see Brazil and Twelve Monkeys)! I have high hopes for it.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Drive By Post: Weekend Movie Viewings

I see a lot of movies, and managed to catch two in theatres this weekend. Here are my brief thoughts (then back to studying).

New Moon: I saw it as a glimpse into the psyche of a modern tween girl. Apparently they like awkward looking, buff, consistently shirtless men. I have moral objections to the Twilight series, but that's for another entry. For now, I'll say the movie wasn't great, but hearing the excited squeals of the tweens in the audience, and the sheer awkwardness of numerous shirtless men on-screen was amusement enough for me. Keep your shirts on boys, a little mystery is good for a woman on occasion.

Fantastic Mr. Fox: This one was fun. It was an adult movie hidden in a kids movie. The animation was fantastic, and it was hilarious. George Clooney especially did a great job voicing his character, Mr. Fox. Another excellent Wes Anderson film.

After studying, I think I'm gonna put in Love, Actually. First Christmas movie of the season!

And now I leave you with more great movie music: The Lonely Shepherd by Gheorghe Zamfir, from Kill Bill.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Thank You to my Readers (and Happy Holidays!)

It's nearing the end of the semester, and I'd like to take a moment and say a genuine thank you to all of my loyal readers. Here are a few in particular:

Amanda's Mom- Thank you for being so supportive, not only of Amanda, but all of us. It really means a lot to all of us.

Kenton- Your comments are so awesome, thank you very much for reading all my entries! Love your blog too.

Kirk- You're the most supportive boyfriend ever, and it means a lot that you read all of my work. :)

Melanie- You have been an excellent instructor, and I feel I learned a lot. I also enjoy reading your blog, it's very informative.

And for everyone else who reads: Thank you. And happy holidays for everyone, be sure to take it easy (and indulge just a little bit)!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

2009 Cannes Lions at the Winnipeg Art Gallery

Yesterday I went to the 2009 Cannes Lions presentation with Kirk and some of my fellow CreComm classmates. I'd never been before, and it was a great experience.

Here's some background: I've never been a commercial fan. When I watch tv with my Mom, she teases me because I bolt out of the room when they start playing. Therefore, I've never thought it would be something I would enjoy. But after this first term in CreComm, I've started to strongly consider majoring in Ad. I really enjoy it, and think I could be pretty good at it. So I've been trying to make more of an effort to sit through commercials because I may end up writing them for a living. They're not great most of the time, but I can recognize when they're doing an adequate job...and when there's no redeeming quality to them. I've even seen some gems on television, such as the recent Viagra ads that I'm sure we've all seen. They're brilliant.

The Viagra commercials are just a few of the ads presented at the WAG last night. There were many other gems, including a very moving condom commercial from Japan. It managed to get its message across in a nice way, without being overly preachy.

Here is another Canadian commercial for Shreddies cereal. It is in regard to the recent ad campaign concerning the "new" diamond Shreddies. Before CreComm, I under understood this campaign, after all, it's the same cereal, right? But the campaign was light hearted, generated interest, and kids especially might want a box of Shreddies to see the "new" diamond shaped cereal pieces.

So last night convinced me that really great advertising can be funny, and can really move you. What I have sworn not to do is use a bunch of cool shots or images, and make something so long, that it feels like a short film...and not make any mention of what the product being advertised actually is. I feel that is what the Grand Prix did. I thought it was visually quite compelling (though I loathe clowns), but I had no idea what it was advertising! I did a bit of looking around just now, and it is an ad for a Philips 21X9 tv, and the commercial intended to look cinematic, and show what it would look like on this television. Here is a link to the ad being played on the television being advertised, and a description from Philips: commercial. Now that I understand it a bit better, it's not as bad...but I still hate clowns, and I still believe it's a bit too difficult to understand. However, maybe it was just getting late when that ad played last night.

I'm very glad I went, because I saw some commercials from all over the world, and other countries have rather different ways of advertising than Canada and the US does. I didn't much care for the British commercials, because they were quite long, and I felt that they dragged quite a bit. I'm used to my commercials being short and sweet (or at least bearable). I'll definitely be going next year, especially if I end up majoring in Ad.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

The Road

For everyone on Twitter, I promised a review of The Road. I could quite easily do it in six words: Best movie I've seen all year....however I'll get much more in depth.

I love films that make you think. And I love film, literature, etc, that take place in a post-apocalyptic or dystopian society. The Road is post-apocalyptic, and really made me think, because even a day later I'm still mulling it over in my head. It's about two unnamed characters, the man (played by the amazing Viggo Mortensen), and the boy (Kodi Smit-McPhee), travelling across the country to reach "the coast", because the man figures they won't survive another winter where they originally lived. This is roughly ten years after an unnamed event happened, that killed off most humans, animals and plants, so food is very scarce. On their journey, they must try to avoid the "bad guys". There are no more laws, and it's essentially every man for himself.

It's a shocking film, and often very tragic. How do you retain what keeps you human when there are so few humans left? How far do you go to keep yourself and your family alive? When is life still worth living? These questions are asked within the film, and I found myself thinking at length about them as well. Flashbacks to the boy's mother, and the Man's wife (Charlize Theron) help bring these questions to the forefront of the movie.

For the majority of the film, Mortensen and Smit-McPhee are the only characters on screen. They work off of each other very well. What I loved most about the film is how the characters, and your perception of them changed within the two hour time span. They were very convincing as Father and son. The man was so devoted to his son that he would do absolutely anything for him. I admired that dynamic, and was very moved by it. But at the same time, it is something that is very hard for me to imagine. I can't imagine having nothing in the world, but a son or a father. But I think being in such a situation, where you depend on each other so fully would make you extraordinarily close. The Road is being described by many as the "feel bad movie of the year", and I gotta say I agree with that statement. Expect to feel bad, to feel horrified, and to think when you watch it. It's very difficult to watch. I actually find it amusing that the release date is when it is, because this weekend was Thanksgiving in the States. Why would they release such a bleak film Thanksgiving weekend? Surely they could have released it next week. That being said, I hope word of mouth spreads and a lot of people see it. Mortensen definitely deserves an Oscar nomination for his role in the film, and I also think it should be a contender for Best Picture. I was also very impressed with Smit-McPhee. He was quite young when this film was made (and is still quite young). I can't imagine making such an emotionally heavy movie right now, as an adult, let alone when I was 11 years old! They found themselves a gem when he was cast.

Another thing that really impressed me was the imagery. There is very little colour in the movie, most things are shades of grey, or other muted colours. They did a very good job creating a bleak and destroyed world. Everything, from what they wear, to the trees and buildings look the way one would imagine they'd look ten years after a world-ending event. Numerous close-ups are used to show how skinny and dirty the man and the boy are. I read somewhere that some of it was CGI edited to make the colours more muted and bleak, but a lot of it was simply excellent choice in filming locations. Kudos to the film makers.

I wish I'd had time to read the book, by Cormac McCarthy, who also wrote No Country for Old Men, which was adapted into film. I've never read any of his books, but I think I'd start with The Road, because as much as I loved No Country, I liked The Road quite a bit better. Maybe over the summer I'll have more time to read it. I do recall reading the back of the book a few years ago, and thinking it sounded pretty interesting, but for whatever reason I didn't pick it up. I wish I had.

That being said, make sure you have something fun planned after you see the film. Had I just been going home afterwards I probably would have been a little depressed all night. It's emotionally exhausting.

Here's a link to the trailer.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Been a Stressful Week

This has easily been the most stressful week yet in CreComm. It has been a week full of assignments, and research projects. I've been lucky, because I had my review mostly written last week, but I've still felt the pressure. Twice in the last 24 hours I've found myself on the verge of bursting into tears because I found myself in a spelling dilemma, but one has been dealt with for sure, and the other is most likely okay as well. I'm a worrier by nature, but my reaction was a product of my stress. I'm thankful that tomorrow is Friday, and that I have plans with a friend on Friday, and I'm going out with Kirk on Saturday. That will give me an opportunity to unwind a bit.

I do a lot of my homework at home in the evenings, so on days when I can sleep in a little bit, my favourite way to unwind for the evening is to finish it off with The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien. I've spoken before about my great admiration for Conan, and I find that watching his show, and getting a good giggle calms me down and helps put a nice end to my day. Last night I was so stressed when it came on, but I had to tell myself that the situation was out of my hands until I received an email in the morning, and I sat down to watch it...and I felt better by the end of it. :)

I want to share a cool video I found a few days ago. The Muppets do Bohemian Rhapsody. I love Queen, and Bohemian Rhapsody is one of my favourite songs ever, so I got a great laugh out of this!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


Today in Melanie's PR class, we learned how to use Twitter. I've been using Twitter for about six months now, as @MissJenh. I started to follow @postsecret but kept with it after I realized just how useful it was. Around the time of the Iranian election was when I started checking it every single day. Twitter was an invaluable resource for the Iranian people at that time, and I found myself worrying when the people I followed stopped updating. Were they arrested? Or even killed? Several accounts stopped updating long ago, and I was told by a friend that, that was because Iran cut off the internet in the country...but I fear something worse happened to them. I know for sure one of the people behind @persiankiwi was arrested, but I believe they were later released. I found they were the best source for news on the protests in Iran. I really got behind their fight, and even changed my time zone to Tehran time (and kept it there until yesterday in fact) to help throw off the Iranian government, who were looking for these brave individuals.

Now I use it to get my news, and to get a good giggle on occasion from @simonpegg and @ThatKevinSmith. I follow folks at the Winnipeg Free Press, but my favourite news source on Twitter is @shortformblog. It gives the news in one sentence format, and provides a link to the actual news story, should you choose to read it in full. It's a great way to get news on the go.

It has only been recently that I've started communicating with people I know "in person" on Twitter. Before that, my own updates were infrequent and I used it to get my news. But now I'm communicating with people I know more and more, so I feel like I am getting more out of Twitter than I was before. I think it is useful for PR folks, and other people in the communication industry, because it allows you to get your message out to a number of people, very quickly. You are not relying on the mass media to get your message out, so you can do it on your own terms, albeit in 140 characters or less. You can provide useful links to your followers about what your organization stands for, and advertise products. I think taking advantage of social networking is essential to getting your organization off the ground. Why would one turn down the chance to spread the word, promote and advertise their organization? I think in this day and age it would be foolish not to take advantage of Twitter.

My Twitter account is used both recreationally and professionally. I follow a large variety of people, and tweet about school stuff, link to things online I find interesting, and stuff about day to day life. Since starting CreComm, I have tried to keep my own personal tweets fairly work safe, meaning free of course language (difficult because I can have quite the sailor mouth and it has been difficult to keep this blog free of curse words), nudity, and the like. I've become fairly devoted, and at least skim through every tweet I receive on my home page, and check it at least once a day.

I hope to see you all on Twitter, and if you have any people you think I should be following...let me know!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

You Know You Love Movies too Much When...

...dinnertime conversations about CreComm turn into conversations about how Jen watches too many movies. Case in point:

Me: You know, I like Journalism, love the course, love writing...but I can't major in it. The industry is too bad, I won't get a job, and I just like eating too much.
Mom: You don't like eating do you?
Me: (as I'm putting a mouthful of food in my mouth) No Mom, I hate it, but I have to do it to, you know, live.
Mom: I thought you would have said you love watching movies too much.

Oh boy. She says this because Kirk and I spent yet another evening at the movies, seeing Pirate Radio. I may review it when I have more time, but I will say that it is not getting the love it deserves. It's one of the funniest films I've seen all year.

Do your family members poke fun at your obsessions frequently? Leave a comment with your response.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Survivor (another other reality television, plus some LOST)

I feel compelled to write a blog post about my favourite guilty pleasure tv show, Survivor. Since I last posted, the big villain, Russell H has turned into the big hero. He's the main member of the underdog folk in the newly merged Aiga tribe, and while he's still not a "nice" guy, he's just an excellent player. I'm rooting for him, maybe not to win, but it will be a sad day when he leaves. My Mom has made a great point when she says she doesn't want him to win because in the first episode he admitted to being a multimillionaire. She's right. I'd rather one of his allies win for that very reason.

I got to thinking today about how Russell H has become the hero of the season. It's all about the editing. The producers realized they got a winner when they started seeing all the footage of Russell H. So in the early days, most of the time was spent on his tribe, Foa Foa. Therefore, the viewers got to know that tribe better than the Galu tribe. There were actually some members of Galu that did not get any significant interview time until the merge, so I did not actually know their names. How can you root for someone when you don't know anything about how they're playing the game? I think the audience has almost been forced into rooting for the Foa Foa members, including their big hero: Russell H. It's amazing how the "villain" has been shifted into hero status, and the practically unknown Galu folk are kind of the villains. At least, this is how I'm interpreting the game.

Survivor is awesome in that it is always best to start rooting for the underdogs. As a fan since near the beginning, I've watched all (or almost all) of every season, and I know that when you are in an underdog position, you start to scramble. And when the majority alliance gets cocky, that's when the trouble starts. Audiences love an underdog, so most of the time that is who I'm rooting for. My favourite season ever was the Cook Islands season, with Yul, Ozzy, Becky and Sundra. They became a tribe of four, and during the merge, they managed to pick off the majority tribe by continually winning immunity before the merge, and making agreements with the majority tribe members. When you're part of the underdogs, you stick together, and when you find cracks in the majority take advantage of them. It was brilliant game play, and Yul, the eventual winner, is among my favourite players ever (along with Ozzy, who got second place that season).

Yes, Survivor is serious business to me. I like it, and The Amazing Race because they don't feel as tacky as some of the reality shows that have been produced (The Swan on FOX comes to mind as an example of a tacky show). Essentially they're games of skill. Survivor has a huge networking and social aspect, which I really respect. I also acknowledge the difficulty of both shows. I'd never go on Survivor (and can't, because I'm Canadian) because I'm out of shape first of all. Secondly, I'm very shy and not particularly good at scrambling to make friends fast. Thirdly, I have a low tolerance for stupid things people pull, and am painfully honest as a result, which can come across poorly if people don't know me well. Lastly, I don't deal with hunger well. I get dizzy and nauseated if I go too long without eating, and I tend to get cranky as well.

However, if I were able to, I'd love to go on The Amazing Race. I wish they took Canadians, because I would find a partner and apply. Not that I would be a particularly good team member. I don't have my full license so I couldn't be the driver, and I don't know left from right so I wouldn't be a particularly good navigator. Couple that with being out of shape, always in need of a snack close by, and my need for lots of sleep...and I'd be the most incompetent team mate ever.

I think I'll stick to the couch with my bowl of ice cream and my glass of water, and shout at the tv when I think someone is doing something stupid.


Oh, and in non-reality television news, LOST starts on Tuesday, February 2nd! I can't wait! I've been trying not to read any spoilers about it, because I want to go in surprised for as much of it as possible. It's very much like the last Harry Potter book for me. I spoiled myself for all the other books by reading the end before I got to the end...but I refused to do that with the last one, to the point where I read it in one shot. With the final season, I want to experience as much of it "fresh" as possible, so I'm forcing myself to avoid spoiler sites, and I may not even watch episode previews. That way I can get the full emotional impact of each episode.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Awesome Movie Music

I enjoy soundtrack music, and often listen to certain pieces while working on homework. I thought today would be a good day to share some of my favourites. I tend to enjoy powerful pieces that play at the climax of the film. Generally they have a slow start and build up into something very powerful.

"In the House - In a Heartbeat" by John Murphy from 28 Days Later

A great example of a powerful piece playing at the climax of a film. I'm listening to this one on repeat as I'm writing this.

"Coronation" by Ilan Eshkeri from Stardust

One of my big beefs is that this movie didn't receive the love it deserved. I blame the poor trailer for that. I bought the book on a whim, thought it was nothing more than mediocre and wasn't even going to see the movie based on the trailer and the book. Turns out the movie was much BETTER than the book (and how often do you see that?!). The excellent soundtrack definitely helps, and this is my favourite piece off of it.

"The Ice Dance" by Danny Elfman from Edward Scissorhands

Not sure if I have mentioned here, but Edward Scissorhands is my favourite movie. And this may possibly be my favourite piece of instrumental music ever. It's enormously tragic, probably because of the scenes where it is played in the film. I cry every time I watch the movie and if I'm in the right mood when I hear this music, I cry as well. Danny Elfman writes fantastic film scores.

"PM's Love Theme" by Craig Armstrong from Love Actually

In the interest of full disclosure, I have all three main "themes" from this film (PM's Love Theme, Portuguese Love Theme and Glasgow Love Theme) on my iPod and listen to them very regularly. This one is my favourite of the three, but the whole soundtrack is fantastic. It's among my favourite Christmas movies, and I can't wait to watch it again this year!

"The Kraken" by Hans Zimmer from Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest

All three films have great scores done by the great Hans Zimmer. This piece always stood out to me, it's a little long but it very easily changes tone and seems composed least to my very untrained ear.

Hans Zimmer also composed some fantastic music with James Newton Howard for Batman Begins and The Dark Knight. Here are two more pieces from those two films:

"Molassus" (the Batman theme music):

And "Vespertilio", used in the trailers for The Dark Knight:

Good music sets the tone for the film. Have you ever watched your favourite movies on mute or without the music? It feels "off" doesn't it? Soundtracks should be enjoyable within a film, and great soundtracks should be enjoyable outside a film. Notice I haven't used some of the most famous pieces of music from films--I wanted to showcase some of the less well known pieces that I enjoy.

Happy listening!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


On Monday I unexpectedly ended up seeing the film Amreeka at The Grant Park theatre. I had heard good things about it, and was not disappointed.

It's about a Palestinian woman, Muna, who wins the green card lottery, and takes her son, Fadi to Illinois to live with her sister, Raghda. In America, she struggles to find work, and both her, her son, and her extended family face racism in the face of the Iraq war. The film takes a generally light hearted approach to some very serious subject matter, and it is something I appreciated. I think Hollywood too often portrays Arab individuals as stereotypes, most often as terrorists or suicide bombers. The film makes fun of this stereotype quite often, as the main characters are often accused of being both--and of course they are neither. They are normal people who just moved to a new country and are trying to adjust to a new life. I think Hollywood stereotypes play a huge role in people's perceptions of individuals and we forget that the roles Arab people are given in film is definitely not the role they fit in society, 99.999% of the time. It's hard for Middle Eastern actors to get work as "normal" characters, instead of extremists.

That being said, I just want to give a heads-up to people. The film is in both Arabic and English (though mostly in Arabic). I knew it was a Canadian film, and I assumed that after the characters came to America, the film would switch to English. I am, of course, okay with subtitled films (I stated in a previous entry that I love listening to other languages and picking out English words), but I know not everyone is. But along with the heads up is a bit of a cool fact: the film was partially shot in Winnipeg! I had heard of this before I saw the film, but had forgotten about it until Kirk whispered to me that the high school used in the film was actually the high school he went to! I'm still at the point where I get excited when I see landmarks I recognize on film, so it was really cool to recognize parts of my city.

One thing I didn't like about the film was the ending. It was very abrupt, and when the screen went black, I felt slightly dissatisfied...almost as if it ended mid-sentence. A better ending would have been about two minutes before the actual ending, because it offered better and less awkward closure. However, that's a very minor quibble. I know how difficult it is to end stories, and often you want to get as much in as possible, so you can't decide where you stop the story.

Here's the trailer:

If you get the opportunity, check it out!

Sunday, November 8, 2009


Kirk and I went to go see The Men Who Stare at Goats on Saturday, and they played this trailer before the movie. We both agreed that it looked interesting, so I thought I would share the trailer with you all:

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

"True Stories"

I thought about this "genre", and the following blog post while I was watching Disney's Pocahontas the other day. I was just a wee squirt when the film was released (and even saw it in theatres), but I'm sure much of the promotion was in regard to how it was based on an "amazing" true story. I've long known that Disney took several liberties with her story, and that in fact, Terrence Malick's film The New World is quite a bit more accurate, though it still does take some liberties. Knowing what I do now, is my enjoyment of the film affected?

I was watching the movie on my computer, and because I can't NOT be on the internet when on my computer, I kept pausing the film to look up things about the characters on Wikipedia. Pocahontas was very young when she first encountered John Smith and there was never a romance between the two of them. Smith, it seems, was a troublemaker as well. I read snippets from a fascinating book (only some of it was online) on Sunday, and I wish I could find the link again. In it, the writer speculates that Smith actually raped Pocahontas. Rape was a very serious crime to the Native American was seen as worse than kidnapping. The women were actually taught how to deal with being kidnapped by other tribes, because it was a common thing to do at the time apparently, to spread out family lines. Pocahontas ended up marrying John Rolfe and she had a child named Thomas with him before she died in England in 1617. This link says what the book speculated on about the parentage of Thomas. It's thought that a man named Thomas Dale raped her and fathered her son, especially since her son is not named after his "Father", John Rolfe. Some believe her marriage to Rolfe was simply to keep up appearances, which is sadly like some modern marriages.

Quite different from the Disney version where trees sing, leaves fly, Pocahontas is a gorgeous grown woman and John Smith is a beautiful man with perfect golden locks. I quite enjoy the Disney film, despite all of the knowledge I've collected over the years about the "true story". I think it is because I take it as fiction, and it is a touching little love story. I liked The New World as well, though I would like to watch it again; I thought it was rather slow in parts when I did see it and don't remember it as well as I'd like. Besides, how can you not find "Colours of the Wind" enormously catchy? I've had it on repeat as I'm writing this!

I think you have to take "true stories" with a grain of salt. When I see movies that make that claim, usually I'll do some research after the fact if I found the film compelling enough. Sometimes it is fairly close to the truth, other times it's not even close.

I think a large concern with Pocahontas is that it is a film aimed at a young audience, who may not be able to differentiate between a true story and a very embellished "true story". Obviously the film is full of stereotypes, both about Native Americans and Europeans. Some pretty inappropriate language is used to describe the Native American people, but I figure that, that language is used primarily by the "villains", and it is the job of the parents to take the film as a "teachable moment". Discuss the language with your children, explain that the language used is inappropriate and wrong, and explain why it was used. I don't think it is necessarily the job of a film studio, even one that makes films aimed at a younger audience, to have perfectly politically correct movies. I do understand the criticisms though, because many parents would not be "on the ball" and use the film to teach children about "good words" and "bad words", and some may even share the views held by the villains in the movie.

As I said earlier, I was very young when this movie came out, probably about six years old. I actually didn't like it very much in theatres, because it was "too sad" for me. I don't recall my parents ever talking to me about the language use or the stereotypes, but I think it was because I was too young to understand the word "savage", and didn't pay attention to that sort of thing. At the time I hated it when characters broke into song, "Back to the story please!" was my thought process, so my mind checked out during the song moments. I think my parents probably answered some of my questions about the issues in the movie, because like I said, it was a bit too old for me at the time.

I do have one quibble with the end of the movie though. Obviously, there will be spoilers in this next paragraph, so if you don't want to be spoiled, please skip over:

John Smith was badly wounded by a gun shot, but the voyage from the "New World" to England would be about three months, depending on the weather. Infection from such a wound sets in VERY quickly. I would think that it would be best to treat him in the "New World", because at least then they won't be trying to treat him on a boat that's rocking on the ocean. Surely they would have brought a surgeon or someone with medical training with them. Also, how much more could have been done for him in England at that time? I would think that there wouldn't be much more that could be done for him, and he'd be long dead by the time he got back anyway, from infection. Does anyone with any medical history knowledge have any insight? I'm just kinda bitter about the ending because to me, it would probably be best to treat him on land or on an anchored ship in the "New World", rather than take him back to England. Then at least in the Disney movie, he could have been with Pocahontas and I wouldn't have ended up crying at the end like I always do. And yes, I know this is the least of my worries with the film, because as I've established, it's not historically accurate in the least. And anyways, can a film with a talking tree be historically accurate?

(end spoilers)

I do think "Based on a true story" is thrown around too much. That's why it is up to the movie-goer to do research, and maybe find that the "actual story" is more interesting than the movie version! The real story of Pocahontas is much more tragic, I think than the Disney version, but quite a bit more interesting. She was more than just a love affair.

Do your research folks! Don't just follow what Hollywood tells you.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween!

I haven't had time to watch any films since Dead Snow, so I thought I would go off topic and speak about Halloween.

I quite enjoy Halloween, particularly the candy part. I have a serious sweet tooth, and as soon as my Mom buys the candy, I dig right into it. So much so, that my parents tease me about it. An example: the other day I decided to try a yellow tootsie roll pop, thinking that it would be lemon flavoured. It wasn't. It was the dreaded banana flavour, so I cringed, and offered it to my parents. They both refused, and my Dad, in a mock serious tone, said something like "You are going to eat that Jennifer". I laughed. Then I ate it...very quickly, because I just can't waste candy, even the really bad stuff. However, the yellow tootsie roll pops are at the very top of the bowl of candy, so we're going to give them away.

From the age of 14 until I was 18, Halloween lost some of its appeal because I was too old to go out trick or treating and too young to go to any of the "adult" social functions. When I was 17, and in my first year of University, I put on a Scream mask and gave candy to kids, and really enjoyed that. But last year was the first year I got to really dress up and go out to a party. I went way overboard and bought a rather expensive costume at "Party Stuff", but it was a good night. This year I went the cheaper route and put together my own costume, which I wore at school. I'm probably going to wear the same costume I wore last year for the event I'll be going to tonight. My Dad suggested I wear a suit because of the costume Kirk is wearing but I'm not so sure about that. Don't know if I could pull off wearing my brother or my Dad's suit.

Surprisingly enough, I don't watch a lot of the Halloween specials. I was never into Charlie Brown as a kid, so I've only seen pieces of that. I'm not going to have time to watch a scary movie tonight, I'm thinking, so my horror movie watching last week will have to do in that department. I don't actually own a lot of horror movies, because I get so scared. I have Shaun of the Dead, which is closer to a comedy, 28 Days Later, which is a brilliant film, and The Ring 2, which was a gift, and not a movie I cared for too much. I may have to put in 28 Days Later sometime soon. Maybe even with the lights off to set the atmosphere. I do also have The Nightmare Before Christmas on VHS, my Dad was awesome enough to track down buy for me a year ago because I'd never seen it and Disney had it in the awful "Disney vault" at the time. It's since been released again and I'm thinking about buying it on DVD because I love it so much, and VHS is a near dead technology.

I hope you all have great Halloween plans and have a Happy Halloween!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Dead Snow

I finally had an afternoon where I didn't have any homework to do, so I watched Dead Snow, on Kenton's recommendation. I had a great time with it, and am going to give a few thoughts.

It is a Norwegian film about a bunch of med students going off to a remote cabin (of course) over the Easter break. There, they run into a strange hitchhiker who tells them the history of the mountains, and warns them not to "wake up the evil within". Of course, our drunk med students laugh, and refuse to take the hitchhiker seriously. Then the zombies show up. What makes Dead Snow different from other zombie films is that these are not normal zombies. They're...NAZI ZOMBIES. Much better than the regular kind, I assure you.

The film was billed as a horror/comedy, but for the first hour or so, there was relatively little humour. It was actually quite scary...or I thought so, but I'm kind of a wimp when it comes to movies like this. All the lights were on, and I was watching it on a fairly small screen, but I was still squealing during all the "jump scenes". It is also very gory. It's more cartoon gore, meaning that it is not "realistic" gore, but still disgusting nonetheless. After the first hour, the film seems to switch directions, and it becomes slightly more comical. It actually turns into almost a parody of other zombie/horror movies. Unfortunately, it's a fairly short movie, so this change of tone only lasts for about twenty minutes. I found that a lot of the humour comes from the ridiculousness of the situation these young people were in. They weren't just zombies...but they were zombies in Nazi costumes. Something about that makes it funny. But at the same time, it puts other horror movies into perspective: how likely is it that dead people are going to rise up from the ground? So maybe next time I sit through a horror movie, despite how scary it is, maybe I'll be able to find some humour in it.

I also want to say that I was quite impressed with the make up job on the zombies. It looked very good, and very creepy. The filmmakers must have known that their movie was going to be cliche, but instead of trying to hide that fact, they embraced it. I liked the movie a lot, so anyone who is into horror and can handle really gory stuff should check it out! Though if you're a wimp like I'll probably end up sleeping with the light on. I'm fully expecting nightmares tonight, but that's part of the fun of these movies. I can't watch really scary horror movies very often, but when I do, I generally end up having a good time. And this film was a good time, for sure.

Just a little note: The film is subtitled, as it is in Norwegian. I love watching foreign films so that was not a problem for me at all. I actually really love listening to other languages, especially hearing how similar (or dissimilar) they are to English. Norwegian is actually pretty close to English, because there were several words I was able to pick up, because they sounded just like their English counterpart.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Where the Wild Things are

In short...biggest disappointment ever. Or of the year at the very least. Let me get this clear: I liked it, but I didn't like it as much as I wanted to. I think my problem was with character development. Even ten minutes in, I realized how hard it was for me to love Max and I just wasn't "feeling it". And maybe it's because I had had a rough day last Friday and my mind was elsewhere, I'm really not sure. I felt that the characters weren't very well fleshed out, so I couldn't bring myself to care very much for them, even after spending almost two hours with them.

That being said, it is a very beautiful movie. The scenery is gorgeous, the costumes are perfect (I'm fully expecting them to win the "Best costume" Oscar), and the "Wild Things" world felt real to me. It's just character that was an issue for me. And a lot of people I've talked to who have seen this movie have loved it, so Kirk and I are probably in the minority, but that's okay.

I think my big problem is that I hyped it up too much. I went in expecting it to be one of the best theatre experiences of my life, so of course I was going to be disappointed. I had this discussion with Jeremy once, about how if you have high expectations for a film, you are going to be disappointed. But if you go in expecting to hate it, then it feels better when you are pleasantly surprised. Since the trailer for Where the Wild Things are was among the better trailers I've ever seen, of course my expectations were high. Whereas a few years ago a friend dragged me to Beerfest, and I went in fully expecting to hate it, because I'd hated Super Troopers. But I loved it, and I think part of it was the fact that I was so pleasantly surprised.

So the big lesson? Try to keep expectations in check. No movie can be everything you want it to be, and going in expecting it to be is going to set you up for disappointment. I have learned that a few times in the past two years with films I've put on a pedestal (such as Watchmen, and Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull). Neither were as good as I'd hoped, though I still enjoyed them. Disappointment is a bitter pill to swallow, but I think this time the lesson has sunk in.

I think I'd probably give Where the Wild Things are a 6/10. I think people should go see it for sure, especially on the big screen, but it's not worthy of raves from me. I do want to see it again, probably on DVD, to see whether it was just my mental state that affected my enjoyment of it.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Spike TV's Scream 2009

Not much to say right now, but I found this story on the internet and wanted to share it: Scream 2009.There doesn't seem to be very many surprises, the very popular Transformers, Twilight, and Star Trek all won awards.

I'd just like to take this moment to show the female readers what audience members got to enjoy setting their eyes upon. Wait for it....

For anyone who doesn't know, that's Mr. Johnny Depp, looking spectacular as always. I think I'd faint if I was at an award show and he came onstage. Depp accepted the award for "most anticipated sci-fi movie" for Alice in Wonderland.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Buyer Beware: Compact Fluorescent Lamps Versus Incandescent Bulbs...Which is Better?

CFL light bulb on the left, incandescent bulb on the right.

I worked with Berea, Chris and Michael on our “buyer beware” project. Everyone came into the project with some good ideas, but we were all most enthusiastic about the idea Chris pitched: CFL bulbs versus incandescent bulbs. We were all skeptical about whether CFL bulbs were really as good as what the government and CFL producers were saying. Can they really save consumers money? Our they really good for the environment? We also wondered how to dispose of the bulbs in a safe manner, considering the mercury content of the bulbs.

We researched our project using a mixture of primary and secondary sources. We did a confidential survey over the internet to gather the opinions of consumers. We decided that an online survey would be easier as it would allow us to ask more questions in a shorter period of time, plus it would be more confidential, as we would never know who exactly completed the survey and what their answers were. We used the free survey website SurveyMonkey to conduct our survey.

We also looked at information obtained through Government of Canada websites, Manitoba Hydro, and Clean Nova Scotia, which is an organization that works with the public and private sector on environmental issues. We looked at three specific issues: the environmental impact of CFLs, the human impact, and the cost savings. By looking at CFL bulbs in three different ways, we were able to determine whether the bulbs are as good as they are claimed to be.

Environmental Impact

The Federal government says that by using CFL bulbs instead of incandescent bulbs, it is estimated that, as a nation, we will be reducing greenhouse gas emissions by over 6 million tonnes a year. Considering that would be the equivalent of taking 1.4 million cars off the road, that’s pretty impressive! We also found that CFL bulbs use about a quarter of the energy that incandescent bulbs use. However, the bulbs also contain mercury, which is dangerous to humans.

The people we asked were split on the issue of environmental impact. Many acknowledged that they were good for the environment, though some raised the issue of mercury being bad for the environment, if not disposed of properly. Others felt that they were not good for the environment at all. The bulbs are heavily advertised as being environmentally friendly, and it seems that the advertising is working as most have heard of the energy-saving claims.

Another issue is that CFL bulbs increase the amount your furnace will have to work during winter time, as the bulbs do not generate the heat that incandescent bulbs do. Manitoba Hydro claims that the money spent on heating will be offset by the money saved over the summer when your air conditioning does not have to work as hard to heat your home.

Human Impact

The biggest concern regarding CFL bulbs and human impact is the mercury levels. As I mentioned earlier, mercury is dangerous to people, and if the bulbs are broken and not cleaned up properly, or not disposed of properly, this could lead to prolonged exposure to mercury. We wanted to research the proper way to dispose of CFL bulbs, as none of us were aware of the procedure at the beginning of the project. It seems most other people weren’t either! We asked a question regarding disposal on our survey, and the vast majority simply disposed of CFL bulbs in the trash. Those who were aware of proper procedures admitted that they could not be bothered to follow proper disposal procedures. Do not throw away CFL bulbs! It is actually prohibited to do so by City of Winnipeg law. Doing so can cause the mercury to leech into the water and soil at land fills or even get into the air. Instead, Winnipeggers have the following disposal options:

Please dispose of your burnt out CFL bulbs properly, it is free after all! The used bulbs will be recycled, according to Home Depot. So you will not only be preventing harmful mercury from being released into the environment, you will be helping to reduce waste.

Another thing we feel should be advertised is how to clean up the bulbs safely if they are broken. Most people we surveyed did not have a bulb break while in use, but many people are unaware of how to clean up a broken bulb. One person stated that they used a broom, which is not a good idea, according to Energy Star .

Instead, open a window, leave the room for at least fifteen minutes, and shut off any air conditioners to keep the mercury from circulating through the air. Use paper or cardboard to scoop up the glass and powder, and place them in a jar or sealed plastic bag. Use tape to pick up and smaller fragments that are remaining. Wipe clean with a wet paper towel or wet wipe, placing the used towels in the jar or plastic bag. Do not use a vacuum or broom. A vacuum is only to be used on a carpet, after all visible pieces are removed. Afterwards, you are to remove the vacuum bag and place it in a sealed bag.

It is also recommended that any bedding or clothing that has come in direct contact with a broken CFL bulb be thrown out, as washing them in a washing machine will contaminate the washing machine. Clothing that has come into contact with just the vapour however, can be washed.

Cost Analysis

According to the Government of Canada, the use of CFL bulbs could save the average Canadian home (containing roughly 30 bulbs) , about $50 on their electricity bills. However, considering the price of CFL bulbs (a 15 watt bulbs, equivalent of a 60 watt incandescent bulb) is $5, meaning replacing incandescent bulbs with CFL bulbs is an investment. CFL bulbs should last much longer than incandescent bulbs, up to five years, so that means consumers should make a return on their investment after three years of normal usage.


Ultimately, we concluded that CFL bulbs had positive and negative aspects. They greatly reduce the amount of greenhouse gas emissions, air pollution, and energy use, which are all good for the environment. Consumers also save money by switching to CFL bulbs, as they last longer, and use up much less energy than incandescent bulbs.

However, we feel that not enough is being done to educate consumers on how to dispose of bulbs properly. While they are good for the environment in the reasons stated above, the mercury in the bulbs is very bad for the environment. The City of Winnipeg is trying to prevent mercury leeching by setting up disposal sites, but more needs to be done to educate consumers on where to take their used bulbs. It would be helpful if the government created an advertising campaign to let the general public know that throwing away the bulbs is bad, and that there are places to dispose of the bulbs for free. Home Depot could even cash in on this, offering a free incentive for those who come in to dispose of a bulb. This would raise awareness and hopefully prevent people from disposing of their bulbs in an unsafe manner.

CFL bulbs are a great product for your pocket book, and for the environment when used and disposed of correctly. We think that with more promotion of safe disposal techniques, people, and the environment will benefit further from CFL bulbs.