Tuesday, March 30, 2010

IPP: Accepted (aka: The Future of this Blog)

In the Creative Communications program, the Independent Professional Project (IPP) is a year-long project done during the second year. In November, I had an epiphany of sorts, and decided that I just had to watch 200 films for my IPP. After all, film is a huge passion of mine, and I've always wanted a reason to watch a huge amount of movies. This way, I won't be able to say "oh, I've been wanting to see it, I'll add it to the list of movies to watch one day."

I've decided to blog about my experience watching 200 films in roughly 8 months. That comes out to about a movie a day. Pretty intense, huh? I'll be reviewing the movies, talking about how this project affects my life, and tell stories about how I became the film fan I am today.

I'm really looking forward to doing this project, and would like to thank my current readers for their support. When I begin this project, I'd also like to ask that you send my blog link to anyone you think would be interested in this project. Spread the word! And if you would like to have any control over the films I watch, comment with a recommendation or two. I am beginning to compile the list of films I will be watching, so I would love to get as many recommendations as possible.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Julie & Julia

I finally got around to checking out Julie & Julia tonight. I'd done a lot of reading about the film, and Julie Powell's "story", but I hadn't actually seen it, and thought that should be remedied.

Julie & Julia is the story of two women: Julie Powell, who cooked all of the recipes in Mastering the Art of French Cooking, and Julia Child, the woman who wrote the cookbook. Julie Powell kept a blog of her experience, which eventually became a book, which eventually became a movie!

I was in the mood for something uplifting and happy, and I chose the perfect movie to watch. By the end of it, I was in such a good mood (it helped that I was already feeling great when I put it in), and felt like I could do anything in the world. It was inspiring.

It did make me wish I knew how to cook. The food shown in the film looked so delicious, and I found myself mourning my lack of cooking ability. As a kid, I actually wanted to be a chef, but I quickly realized that I was not cut out for it for a variety of reasons. I'm far too clumsy, and the fact that I'm STILL afraid of touching raw meat really disqualifies me from the profession. At this point, I'd just like to be able to cook delicious food for the people I care about, and be able to enjoy doing it. Right now all I'm able to do is cook sub-par food for myself.

I admired both Julia Child and Julie Powell. The film portrayed them as two strong women who were determined to reach their goals. That's something I respect a lot. They both had great husbands standing by their side as well. I enjoy it when Hollywood gives us strong female protagonists. I also enjoy it when husbands/boyfriends/life partners are not portrayed as jerks or obstacles, but as real, kind people who are supportive of their loved one. I wouldn't categorize this film as a romance, but the love shared between these women and their partners sure felt romantic to me, and definitely put a huge smile on my face.

This film gave me yet another reminder of Meryl Streep's amazing talent. I'm convinced she can play any character on this planet convincingly. She was great, and deserved the Oscar nomination she received for the role. And just as a note: if you haven't seen Kramer vs. Kramer, do check it out. She was amazing in it, and won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for her role as Joanna Kramer.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

This Week's Lost

As always, spoilers will be in this entry.

This is the episode we've been waiting seasons for. Richard's episode. Since the "ageless" man was introduced, I've been waiting and waiting to find out his story. Why doesn't he age? Where did he come from? Who does he work for?

Turns out, like many of the Losties, Richard's story is a tragic one. He lost his wife, Isabella, after accidentally killing the doctor he'd gone to for help. The day of his execution, he speaks to a very creepy (and unsympathetic) priest, who tells him that he will be going to hell. However, Richard is sold into slavery, and is bound in chains on the Black Rock.

I'd figured Richard came to the island on the Black Rock after the Man in Black mentioned that he'd still be in chains if not for his help a few episodes back.

After being freed from the chains, the Man in Black tells Richard to kill Jacob, in order to escape "hell". Jacob easily overpowers Richard, and explains that he is NOT dead, and that the Man in Black is the evil one, not him. From my understanding, the island is essentially a prison for the Man in Black. Should he leave the island, it'd be as if pure evil were entering into the rest of the world. Jacob used a wine+bottle+cork metaphor that I liked quite a bit.

Again, here's my understanding of it. The Man in Black was the wine, Jacob was the cork, and the bottle was the island. The Man in Black can't leave the island because of Jacob. Later we see the Man in Black with the bottle. He can't get the cork off. So he smashes the bottle. I took this as a metaphor for destroying the island. Perhaps this is a sign that the Man in Black's true intentions are not just escaping the island as he says, but destroying it?

I also enjoyed finding out why Jacob brings people to the island. He does it to prove that people can do good things without guidance, even if they've done horrible things in their "past lives". The island is a clean slate for them. Jacob is essentially implying that he is something of a God figure for the island, because he brings people to the island, and watches what they do, but without interfering. Clearly he exerts some level of control over their pre-island lives as well, because he has to get them to the island in the first place.

My favourite part of the episode was when Hurley was telling Richard that Isabella was standing right beside him, and he passed her messages along to him. It was very touching. One of the things I've always loved about Lost is the ability it has to make the viewers actually feel something. It's impossible not to get invested in the characters, because it's such a character oriented show.

I also liked that Richard had essentially given up on Jacob, and was turning himself over to the Man in Black when Isabella came to him with the help of Hurley. And it gave the audience confirmation, in many ways, that the Man in Black is the "evil" one. Is Jacob completely "clean" and pure? I don't think so. But I do think that the Man in Black is the villain he's been set up to be. I must say, I would kind of like them to give him a name. But what do you name a character of his magnitude? He's got this almost legendary build up, that any name would seem kind of strange. Maybe it's best they keep it a mystery? Who knows?

Let's get some discussion going. What did you all think of the episode?

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Movies I Need to "Revisit"

I've been a film fan for a number of years now. But in this time, there have been a few movies I've watched before I was really old enough to get anything out of them. As a result, I didn't relate to the characters, or the story, and found myself bored with the movie. But since a few years have gone by, and I've grown up a lot in that time, I often feel like I should revisit the movies I once wrote off as being terrible.

The main one I talk about revisiting is Lost in Translation. I saw this when I was 14 years old. At the time, I'd never experienced the deep loneliness depicted in the film, or understood what it was like to be alone or isolated. I recall enjoying the first half hour because I thought it was funny, but the rest was dry and boring.

As anyone can understand, my life has changed a lot since then. I think after six years, most people's lives change drastically. I think I'd get a lot out of the movie now. It's funny, because from what I remember, there's nothing in the movie that I wouldn't show a 14 year old, but how many people of that age can grasp and enjoy the movie? I like to think I was pretty mature for my age at the time, but I still hadn't had the life experience necessary to find enjoyment in it.

Another one I'd kind of like to revisit is Superbad. I saw it near the end of its theatrical run, after everyone hyped about how amazing it was. The theatre was nearly empty. I find that for many comedies, watching it in a group is what makes the experience enjoyable. Laughter is contagious, right? But nobody was laughing, so I wasn't laughing either. I don't remember much of the movie, I just remember thinking that it wasn't as funny as everyone said it was. I think I'd want to watch it in a fun atmosphere with friends.

But then there are the movies from your childhood that you revisit and end up disliking. My most recent example would be FernGully: The Last Rainforest. I would watch it over and over as a child, because I was a huge animal and nature lover. I decided to watch it again after seeing Avatar and reading the comparisons between the two. You see, I could not remember much of anything from FernGully, aside from the weird bat. I didn't like it. I thought the plot was silly, the characters were thin, and the villain was laughable. I wish I'd just kept it as a childhood memory instead of watching it again, because now those childhood memories are just a little tarnished.

What is a movie you'd like to revisit? Or one you regret revisiting?

Friday, March 19, 2010

Jurassic Park III (Spoilers)

Note: There will be spoilers for all three Jurassic Park films.

So, after discussing movies I watch over and over, I decided to get into a movie that I don't watch over and over. I actually hadn't seen this movie in full since I saw it in theatres back in 2001. I've owned it for about two years now, and this is the first I've watched it. I got it in the "Adventure Pack" with the other two, which I've seen numerous times since I bought them, but I was never really interested in watching number 3 again.

But after a very long week, I decided I was in the mood to enter a world where people have to run from man-eating dinosaurs. And since I've seen the first two so many times, why not put in number three? You know what? I really enjoyed it. It's definitely not better than the first one, but it's comparable to the second. I've always really loved the velociraptors as villains, since they're portrayed as intelligent (and really scary) creatures. I also enjoyed the inclusion of the pteranodons, which brought the biggest scare of the film.

Funnily enough, as a kid obsessed with dinosaurs, my two favourite dinosaurs were velociraptors and pteranodons. I thought they'd have made cool pets. Which I guess is the reason my parents never showed me Jurassic Park when I was a wee tyke, because it would've traumatized me.

I think part of the reason I enjoy the first two so much is because of Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum). He was the best part of the first one. He's upgraded from supporting character to main character for the second one, but I thought he was a completely different character in that one. One could argue that the experience made him a "changed man", but he's significantly less interesting the second time around. I read the second book a few years ago, and from what I remember, it is quite a bit different from the second movie. There are two children in the novel, and neither are related to Malcolm. The filmmakers "merged" the characteristics of the two children together and made the female character Malcolm's daughter. I didn't mind this so much, but if I recall correctly, I preferred the book to the movie. There's no silly dinosaur rampage at the end of the novel.

I've realized that all three movies have some sort of "save the kids/protect the kids" plot line. I hope that if they ever do a 4th film, they'll get away from that idea. Though, I think I would prefer if they let the series rest, due to the fact that Michael Crichton died in 2008. There has been so much talk of a 4th film since the third was released, but nothing has ever come of it, and I don't think anything ever should.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Movies on Repeat

As many of you know, I collect DVDs. On last count, I had about 120, though that number has gone up since then. I have noticed that, while I own many, I tend to turn to the same favourites time after time. I figure it is probably because they tend to suit my mood and my personality. And because they provide some sort of emotional catharsis. Here's a list:

1. Edward Scissorhands

I watch this one at least twice a year. I love the ending, the performances, and the soundtrack. I think that when you're listing movies that are your "favourites", you have to list ones you can watch over and over again. I've lost count how many times I've seen this movie in the last seven years, but it's a big number.

2. Moulin Rouge

Another one of my favourites. What I love about this one is that my feelings towards the female protagonist, Satine, changes depending on my mood. Sometimes I hate her, and think she's unworthy of Christian...other times I love her. I always see her as a tragic character though. I enjoy musicals, and I've got a lot of the soundtrack on my phone. A few have been unlucky enough to play the soundtrack in the car, and have been victim to the unfortunate sound of me singing. Yes, they survived. But barely. So obviously I love the soundtrack, but I also love the costumes, and the sets. It's a very pretty film.

3. Love Actually

I try my best to save this one for the Christmas season, but I also tend to watch it during the summer. As you can no doubt tell, I'm a sucker for love stories, and this movie is full of them. Husband and wife, father and step-son, manager and artist, unrequited love, developing love, etc. It's (mostly) a feel-good movie, and I'm always left smiling (though my cheeks are stained with tears as well) and feeling better about the world after finishing it.

4. The Notebook

I haven't met many women who dislike this movie. In fact, it seems to be the go-to modern romance film for many women. It's another one that makes me feel better about the world by the end of it. I'm the type of person who tends to prefer sad or bittersweet films to happy films. I always explained it by saying something like "with sad movies, you cry, and for two hours, you're crying for someone you don't know, which takes you away from your own problems in life". I still like that idea of mine, but lately I've been craving happy, fun movies because often I'm so stressed from school, that I just need the mental break that laughter gives me.

5. Shaun of the Dead

This one is slightly different from the others. It's a comedy...about zombies...and also (triples?) as a romance. Most importantly, it's great fun. Everytime I watch it, I discover something new to laugh at, and love introducing new people to it. It's always a joy to see someone laugh and enjoy a movie they haven't seen before. It's probably my favourite comedy. Has anyone not seen it? If so, I say we do a viewing at my place sometime.

6. Beauty and the Beast

I don't actually own this one on DVD. We have an old VHS copy, but I'm not even sure it works. Whenever I want to watch this movie, I turn to YouTube, where I can stream it in several parts. Far from the best way to watch it, but it's easy. I've told myself that I'll buy it on DVD one of these days. Three years ago, I watched it for the first time in about ten years, and fell back in love with it. Since then, I've watched it endless times, with friends, or by myself. It's become my favourite "classic" Disney animated film.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Going Through my Closet

I got inspiration from Kenton's blog entry. I tend to keep things around much longer than I should, so my closet is always less-than-organized chaos. My whole room is, really, because school keeps me from organizing things properly. It doesn't help that I'm naturally a very sentimental person. For example: I have a photo album where I've kept every movie stub I've gotten from the past 5 years. In this album I also have photos, and other little mementos. I didn't take a photo of the album, because there really isn't anything visually appealing about hundreds of movie stubs.

But the really interesting stuff is in my closet. Here's a peek into a normally closed off part of my life:

Chocolate! I went to a Halloween social last year, and won a chocolate fountain, and a ridiculous amount of chocolate. These are baking wafers I believe, presumably for use with the fountain, but since I've never used the fountain...I haven't really eaten many of the wafers. I'd actually forgotten I had all this, so my jaw dropped when I saw all of it. I had a few pieces and it still tastes good to me, so I should get on eating it. Does anyone want to help me?

One of my many boxes of stuff. In this photo there are:

A yellow t-shirt I received from the Women in Media camp I went to back in 2004 (I think it was 2004...). It was held at the Red River College Princess Street Campus, and the councillors were CreComm students! We filmed a documentary as part of the camp, and it was a great time.

The white t-shirt has a design I screen printed on it back in the 8th grade.

The yellow and orange box contains an assortment of cool rocks and little fossilized sea animals. I was really into dinosaurs as a kid.

A Canadian flag

Various teenie beanie babies

A ceramic shoe (huh?)

A pipe cleaner and bead crab I made as a kid with the help of my aunt.

My childhood blanket. Well, one of them. My original blanket (which looked just like this one) was lost in St. Vital Centre when I was 4 or 5. I think my brother threw it in the garbage and I didn't realize it until I got home. We went back to the mall, but we couldn't find it, so my parents got out the "other half" of the blanket, gave it to me, and the crisis was averted. It just sits on a shelf in my closet, but I can't bring myself to get rid of it. I guess because it was such a huge part of my childhood. I doubt I'll ever find a use for it, as it is too ratty to give to anyone or do anything with, but it can sit in my closet for awhile longer.

Friday, March 12, 2010

IPP Presentations 2010

I have spent the last three days attending the 2010 IPP Presentations at The Park Theatre. It has been a great experience for me, and it was great to see what I will be doing a year from now.

It was also very overwhelming. The amazing quality of the projects all the second year students presented blew me away. I am honestly not sure how I will ever live up to many of the IPPs that were done. I've been inspired further to do a great job on my own IPP. I've had the idea for a few months now, and I hope it gets through the panel, because I've become so passionate about it already. I loved the emotion I felt through the presentations. Some made me laugh hysterically, while others made me cry. Some did both. I started to imagine what my 'thank you' speech will be like, and for all my fellow first years: put all your 'crying pool' money on me, 'cause I can almost guarantee I'll shed a tear or two during the thank you portion. I'm also imagining what I'll wear when I give my presentation. And I am trying not to imagine falling off the stage in the heels I will likely be wearing. Ladies and gentlemen: you all looked classy and fantastic up on stage!

Another thing I enjoyed was the diversity of the projects. We had charity events, music promotion, musicians, novels, animations, graphic novels, films, radio documentaries, television documentaries, news/sports directing, and that's just off the top of my head. As I said, I've had my idea for awhile, but it was interesting to see what other directions I could go in. Hearing the difficulties some people had filled me with some serious anxiety, though. You all are troopers!

I want to thank my peers in second year for setting the bar so high. We've got a lot of work to do, but you've been an inspiration!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The Movie Free Semester

I've been feeling guilty lately, because I haven't had time to watch a whole lot of movies lately. This semester has been so busy that I simply haven't had the time. And on the rare occasions that I do have the time, I often find myself wanting to watch something light that I've seen before...so I can do homework while I watch!

This week there are the IPP Presentations at The Park Theatre, which means us first years get a bit of a break. I am hoping to get out and rent The Hurt Locker (this year's Best Picture winner at the Oscars) and Moon this weekend. I would also really like to see Alice in Wonderland, but am still looking for someone to go with. Who would like to see a movie this week, or next? It has been at least a month since I last went to the theatre, and I am not used to going this long without going! I think in many ways, I was spoiled last semester, because I was able to get out to the theatre more often, and got used to going at least once a week.

I'll admit to feeling slightly "lost" during the Oscars this year, because I had not seen all of the nominees. Last year, I believe there was one I hadn't seen, and that was because I was not interested in seeing it. This year, there were so many I had wanted to see, but missed because I simply did not have the time to see them. The fact that there were so many changes to the ceremony also bothered me a little. They didn't perform the best song nominees! I always love seeing them performed, and last year was bad enough when they were all performed together. I wasn't impressed with Alec Baldwin and Steve Martin as hosts either. It would have worked better with one host - instead it just felt awkward to me. There were a few funny bits, but much of it fell flat to me. I had a great time watching the Oscars though; I was tweeting live during it, and had a blast reading and responding to everyone else's tweets. Thanks for the fun, everybody!

Perhaps this "break" will end up being a good thing. Soon I'll be watching about a movie a day, which I am really looking forward to doing. It's almost like going from one extreme to another! But on that topic...I am looking for recommendations for this project. Comment with a few movies you would like me to see. Foreign films and older films are specifically requested!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Movie is Better than the Book?

I know, I know. How can the movie ever be better than the book?! Tar and feather her! But I have two examples to give, plus my rationale.


I'm often amazed I watched this film, period. I didn't think much of the trailer when I first saw it, but I decided to buy the book since it was cheap, and I'd heard good things about Neil Gaiman. The book wasn't bad, but to me, the audience was very "split". It seemed like it was meant to be a pre-teen novel, but at times, it was graphically violent. Those bits felt very out of place and disrupted the flow of the novel for me. Nevertheless, it was an easy read, and the opportunity to see it in theatres presented itself. And I LOVED it. Granted, a lot was changed (Robert De Niro's character in the book is very different), including the ending, but it was all an improvement. The problems with the "split" audience was fixed, and what we were given was a light-hearted, fun, fantasy film.

I haven't read anything more by Neil Gaiman, though I would really like to. Not that I have much time to read anymore, but over the summer if I have time, I'd like to try another of his novels. Any suggestions?

Forrest Gump:

My Dad gave me his copy of Winston Groom's Forrest Gump a number of years ago. He'd warned me that the movie was an improvement, but I didn't listen (since the movie is NEVER better, or so I thought at the time), and read the book. I didn't like it. I thought it was a little too ridiculous, and struggled to get through it. To be completely fair, I don't remember much of it, probably because I had so much trouble getting through it. But the experience was enough to keep me from rushing out to see the movie. I caught it a year or two later on television, and was hooked. Sure, Forrest's life is still a stretch, but it didn't seem ridiculous to me. Instead I found it to be very touching. Groom's novel, at least to me, made the events of Forrest's life into a joke, so I didn't feel anything at the end of it. Of course, the film is helped by the amazing performances Tom Hanks, Robin Wright Penn, and Gary Sinise give.

And here is an example of the opposite...a film adaptation that fails in every single way.

Captain Corelli's Mandolin

I really enjoyed Louis de Bernieres novel. The first hundred pages or so were slow going, but as I read further, I found myself fully absorbed in the story. I couldn't put it down. The characters were complex, the story was rich, and the love story was beautiful. Plus the ending was tragic, but...perfect in every way, even if it was also very "dissatisfying". I've been wanting to reread it for a long time, but, again, no time and if I did have time, I think I'd like to read books I haven't read yet, or at least reread a book that doesn't take a huge time commitment the way this one does. I caught the movie on TV about a year ago. I'd read it was a terrible adaptation, but I had nothing better to do, so I put it on.

It was a disaster. Nicholas Cage and Penelope Cruz were both terribly miscast (especially Cage, just listen to that horrible attempt at an Italian accent), and seemed to stumble across the screen. Charming Corelli seemed awkward and artificial when portrayed by Cage. John Hurt, as Dr. Iannis, was one of the few bright spots in the film.

But here's the kicker: they changed the ending! It wasn't surprising since much of the story prior to the ending had been changed or simplified in some way, but it still got a good eye roll out of me. Do yourselves a favour: read the book, and keep the characters in your mind. Don't see this pathetic adaptation of a beautiful novel.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Hot Tub Time Machine

This movie was brought to my attention over the weekend, and I just can't get over it. Here is the trailer:

The title of the movie reminds me of Snakes on a Plane. The title says it all. I enjoyed Snakes on a Plane because it was fun. You can't go into a movie with a title like that, and expect anything serious. I saw it in theatres with my parents, and my Mom, who is terrified of snakes, screamed numerous times throughout it, which only added to the "experience". I have it on DVD, and it's one of my favourite "party" movies.

I figure Hot Tub Time Machine will be similar. Light fun that is best enjoyed with a group. I am hoping to catch it in theatres. I haven't gone to see many movies lately, because school has been keeping me busy, but I think I will have to make the time for this one.

I just want to say one thing about the trailer. There's a gag in the trailer involving one of the characters lamenting the fact that he has to "come find" a girl he's dancing with. I hate to say it, but I did sympathize with him. I've had a cellphone for about four years now, and I have a hard time imagining life without one. If I'm meeting someone and I can't find them, I'll send them a text to find out where they are, instead of risking missing them. If I'm running late, I can text the person so they're not wondering where I am. After experiencing life with a cellphone, I'm not sure I could live without one. I'd panic if I was waiting for someone, and they didn't show up when they were supposed to. How am I to contact them to make sure they didn't get lost? What if I am in the wrong meeting place?

I suppose I am a product of my time. I know very few people who don't have cellphones. Even my Dad, who for years swore he'd never get a cellphone, has one.