Sep 28, 2010

Bring it again, Sam!

I just watched the Charlie's Angels movie for the first time in years. It's a very stupid movie, isn't it? Yet, as expected, that one 30 second bit made it all worth it. (Kind of.)

Good night then, sleep well. I know I will. After that. Ah, good gracious. How can someone so disgusting be so hot?

PS. A proper movie post expected in... the near-future. Isn't that just a wonderfully vague promise?

Sep 27, 2010

R.I.P. Gloria Stuart


Gloria Stuart


Lost Season Two - press execute for cool new characters and the best setting ever


Number of episodes / Days it took me: 24 / 18 (... just like last season! I thought it took me much longer... Sure felt like it did.)

What goes on on season 2: We get to go inside the mysterious hatch, to start with! There's a cool Scottish guy in there and he's been saving the world for three year by pushing a button. He takes off and Locke & co. take over the job. Also, the passengers from the tail-section of the plane (or what's left of them) unite with our friends with a bang. Then they catch a man who calls himself Henry Gale from Minnesota, but really he's an Other and on his way of becoming one of my favourite characters. Michael wants to find his son (... I think. He doesn't talk about it much. Only in every freaking sentence he says...) and is ready to do anything, I mean ANYTHING, to get him back. Not cool, Mike. Well, we know what's waiting for you...

Coolest new characters: Desmond (aah, I love him! Maybe THE favourite character of mine. Maybe), Ben, eh, I mean "Henry" (obviously. What would Lost be without him, really?) and Bernard (didn't care much for the other tail-section characters, but Bernard rocks).

Coolest storylines: Everything about the hatch. It's just my favourite setting in the show, it's so cool! The computer and the beeb beeb beeb sound, the lavalamp, the ping pong table, the record player, the marks on the wall (counting days, weeks...?) and all that... Pushing that button is just brilliant! How they keep pushing it to "save the world", no matter how ridiculous that sounds, because you just never know... Shame it blew up. I also like the "Henry Gale" storyline.

Coolest foreshadowing: There's a lot of that this season! All that ambigious stuff about the Dharma Initiave - the Orientation film, Pierre Chang (not going by his real name yet), the Incident, Radzinsky... Just think how cool it is we get a hint of all these things so early on! Also, hinting that the Others are civilized, the Widmore Labs pregnancy test, the look in Sun's eyes after she tells Jin "the whole truth", Penny's line "with money and determination you can find anything"... And the statue! Damn, yeah! (Though I'm still a bit bitter about that lousy explanation... Mumblemumblemuble...) It was also cool that they said the line "what's done is done" a couple of times, as it'll play an important role later on. And of course, how could I forget the genious introduction to the epic story of Jack's tattoos and Phucket! ... Kidding.

Coolest character developments: Michael goes through a lot this season. And John's struggle with his beliefs is interesting to watch.

The "...meh" moments of the season: Fire + Water is officially my least favourite episode of Lost. There are a lot more boring episodes I feel more indifferent about, but this Charlie episode just always makes me feel so bad. I never enjoy watching it. Poor Charlie.

The "OMGSFRgtrh"#¤#T%TY!!!11" moments of the season: Shannon getting shot. Damn, that was cruel! The monster's first proper appareance was quite shocking, too. We went short of inside it and there were those flashes... Cool. The biggest OMG moment was in the finale, delivered by Desmond: "I think I crashed your plane." Aweeeesome. EDIT // Well, damn it. As Harri kindly pointed out, I forgot to mention the obvious OMG moment, the deaths of Ana Lucia and Libby in the end of Two for the Road. That was OMG, alright...

The "WHAT-THE-F..." moments of the season: The dripping wet ghost walt, whispering strange things. That was super creepy, too. The Pearl station Orientation video, claiming that pushing the button is just a psychological experiment. The last scene of the season - the two guys in that very snowy place, a flashing red light and a call to Penny Widmore... "I think we found it." Cool.

The "snifsnif" moments of the season: The end of Collision - the slow motion reunions of Michael and Vincent, Jin and Sun (my favourite of all their reunions), Rose and Bernard (so sweet, so joyful, so touching!). Hurley on Libby's deathbed. "I'm sorry I forgot the blankets." Oh god... Libby and Ana's funeral - Hurley's speech especially.

The "HAHAHAHAHA" moments of the season: Kate kicking Jack's ass in golf. The poker ("How about you put your mangoes where your mouth is."). Bringing back the Scott/Steve joke, I always found that funny. I also get a kick out of that 'got caught in a net' gag - "Is that what they're calling it these days?" Charlie is hilarious this season. His humour is short of mean, even meaner than before, becase he's going through those dark times, but I like it! For example, his line to Ana, regarding Sayid: "Humour is not his strong suit. (pause) And I'm saying this to you." And him pretending to give the gun to Ana and but giving it Sayid instead, and asking Eko if he's building a Starbucks. Not to forget: "Did either of you see a guy run through here? In a bathrobe? With a coconut?" "No, I saw a polar bear on roller blades with a mango." Ah, Charlie...

The "awwwwww" moments of the season: Hurley giving Charlie peanut butter in the end of Everyone Hates Hugo. Kate helping Sawyer swallow the pill by stroking his hair and whispering into his ear. Hurley giving the thumbs up to Jin when Sun's not looking and Jin giving the thumbs up to Hurley when he's about to have the picnic with Libby. The whole failed surprise picnic thing is very sweet, at least until the other participant gets shot. S.O.S. is perhaps the most aww episode ever, because Rose and Bernard are the sweetest couple of Lost.

The "WHOO! Kick ass!" moment of the season: I had to add this one category of moments, although I tried not to. Anyway, here it is now, and the most kick-ass moment of the season is Hurley beating the crap out of Sawyer. It's funny too, with Jin watching the tussle amused, but also a bit tragic, because of what's going on with Hurley in that episode.

The moments I can't fit under any other category but want to mention anyway because they are simply awesome: Sayid and Hurley listening to the radio broadcast that "could be coming from any where in the world" ("Or any time." Haha. Who knows, really?). Jin listening to the others, but only hearing gibberish. They did it once already on season one, and again, it's a great reminder of what is is like for Jin, not understanding a word of what people around him are saying. Sawyer admiting to Jack that he's the closest thing he has for a friend, after Ana's death. End of dave - hell, for a moment I wasn't sure if it was all real after all! The final scene at the pier... "We're the good guys, Michael."

Dumbest Jack moment of the season: "How long do you think it would take to train an army?" 

Funniest Sawyer nickname of the season: "This is how people end up dead in scary movies." "If this was a scary movie, I'd be with a hot chick, not you, Barbar." "It's Babar." Also, Pippi Longstocking. I think he was refering to Kate. Heja Sverige!

Best openings: Man of Science, Man of Faith has perhaps my favourite opening scene ever. I remember seeing it for the first time, feeling confused and checking if I had the right channel on. Not only it's the first appareance of my soon-to-be favourite character, it's also wonderfully confusing and unexpected in the most brilliant Lost kind of way. 'What's inside the hatch?' was the question on everyone's mind, and there you go, they didn't keep us waiting. Add the Mamas and the Papas song and that's it, a perfect opening. Also, the first 30 seconds of The Other 48 Days are quite cool.

Best endings: "You guys got any milk?" That's so chilling, seriously! Like the first glimpse of real Ben.

Best special feature: The World According to Sawyer. Isn't he lovely?

Best of the Blooper Reel: "I can't quit you, baby." & "I must have been... doing something." & "That baby IS delicious." And of course, Dom Monaghan dropping the branch, then looking up and smiling idiotically. That guy is hilarious...

Best episodes: Man of Science, Man of Faith, I think. Also Live Together, Die Alone, because Des rocks. And Long Con.

The questions I wanted aswered but they never were: Libby and Santa Rosa. Argh, you guys!

The quote to summarize season 2: "Just saving the world."

Overall how it felt like to watch season 2 again: The rewatch evoked quite a lot of memories from the time I first saw this season. I'll share a few of them with you: When the season opening aired, I'd just had a surgery and there was a fresh operation scar on my lower stomach. Anyone who's ever had a scar in their stomach knows you can't do anything with your abs without a terrible pain - so no laughing, no getting up too quickly, no sudden movements. So, when the first commercial break of Man of Science, Man of Faith came (that was after the first appareance of ghost Walt) I was so freaking excited about the season's killer start that I got up from my bed, ran to the living room, hysterically tried to explain what an awesome show Lost is, and then had to kneel down and swallow tears because I noticed my stomach was about to burst open. Haha. Understandable, really. That was one hell of an opening. Also, by that time I was so freaking ignorant that I actually expected to get some vital info from an episode called The Whole Truth. Nah. Finally, I remember being bitter because in the finale, before the Others put the bag over her head, Kate looks at Jack, not Sawyer. Back then I still thought Kate should be with Sawyer, and I remember why, they share some great scenes and that chemistry is undeniable. Of course, that was before season five and... Oh well, I'll get back to that in time.

What's next: The truth about the Others!

Ps. I don't know about the quality or coherence of this post, I have a nice little flu and fever and it's making my head quite hazy. Sorry. I'll never go to a foam party again.

Sep 23, 2010

Welcoming back a dear friend...

(...And I'm not talking about hangover. Damn, mistä näitä bileitä oikein tulee...?)

It's back! Glee's baaaaaaaack! Hurray! I missed these guys so much and am more than happy that we're back in business. I think season two will be A W E S O M E. (Can't wait for next week and the Britney Spears episode!) In addition to the old favourite characters - like Sue (who's just ruder and more obnoxious than ever and I love it) and Kurt ("So is that a men's sweater...?" "Fashion has no gender." Aw, Kurt, my man...) - there are a bunch of new characters, and I feel unprecedentedly good about them!

First, there's the new football coach, Miss Beiste. There will be some great moments between her and Sue, I'm sure... Sunshine is an exchange student, a little girl with a huge voice. I liked her a lot and hopefully we'll still see a lot of her. Last but not least, there's a new guy, Sam, played by this dude called Chord Overstreet. He's somehow incredibly sweet and adorable and I'm not very secretly hoping he'll be Kurt's new love interest this season. I could totally see that happening and I'm already melting just thinking about it. We'll see, I know I'm not the only one with these thoughts... Also, there was this very funny and random and weird moment regarding Chord's mouth.

"Dude, your mouth is huge. How many tennis balls can you fit in there?"
"I don't know, I've never had any balls in my mouth. Have you?"

...Hahahahaha. No but really, it IS huge, it was the first thing a noticed about him. Damn, just look at those lips!

(One more thing. Someone mentioned this, and now I can't get rid of the thought. Wouldn't he just be the most awesome Peeta? Now, Chordie my lad, stop growing up so that they can cast you to the Hunger Games movie. I don't know about the rest of you, but I have found my Peeta!)

PS. If you yet haven't checked out the new Deathly Hallows trailer, do it now! Novermber can't be here too soon. Hello, goosebumps...

Sep 21, 2010

Locke and load!

Praise the Creator, you fans of Lost! The latest news is, J.J. Abrams is planning a new show starring Michael Emmerson and Terry O'Quinn. So maybe we haven't yet seen the last of those memorable Locke/Ben moments we got to enjoy for many seasons! Just think about these guys playing ex-spies together...? Needless to say, I'm really hoping they actually make this show. It would be one of the coolest things ever on TV, no doubt. Get Josh Holloway and Ken Leung to guest-star and that's it, I'm in heaven!

Sep 20, 2010

Student life makes you watch movies you have nothing to say about, so you just sqeeze them all in one post. (It also makes you lazy.)

I guess the title says it all. My lectures began again last week after a loooooong summer, and the switch back to normal life didn't treat me very gently. I'm hoping this is a passing phase, and I'll soon be inspired to write proper posts about proper movies. Until then, here's some uninspired thoughts about movies I saw last week, with quite a hazy head. 

Heavenly Creatures (1994)

directed by Peter Jackson / starring Kate Winslet, Melanie Lynskey

Watched this because of Kate Winslet, of course. And because of Peter Jackson, too. BUT (I can't believe I'm saying this) I'm beginning to wonder if PJ actually is a very good director, or a director to my taste. Besides that one little trilogy, I haven't really liked any of his movies. Though I've only seen this one, Lovely Bones and Meet the Feebles, none of them really worked for me. But sure, a normal person couldn't have made Middle Earth so freaking real and amazing, so I'll always be a PJ fan. I haven't said anything about Heavenly Creatures, but I guess I don't have anything to say. Maybe I watched it in a bit indifferent mood, but I didn't get much out of it. But Kate is cool no matter what she does.

Leap Year (2010)

 directed by Anand Tucker / starring Amy Adams, Matthew Goode

 A boy meets girl and they very much dislike each other, and then they experience somtething cool together and then they are in love. The end. Someone really put some thought on the plot of Leap Year. Hope they got a rise. No, but seriously, you've seen this pattern a million times before, but it's always quite nice to see it one more time. Especially if the boy is played by Matthew Goode. And there was actually one scene I liked a lot - the ine on the bed of the motel, with Dream a Little Dream of Me playing in the background. And Ireland is of course damn beautiful.

The Princess and the Frog (2009)

directed by Ron Clements, John Musker / voices by Anika Noni Rose, Bruno Campos

 It's becoming quite clear that Disney makes films for kids and Pixar makes films for the whole family. In case you didn't know, I ADORE Disney, so I really, really wanted to love this film, but well, I didn't. It's not a bad film, of course, but it's no Beauty and the Beast. I wonder if the kids of today will watch The Princess and the Frog twenty years from now and feel the way I do with Belle and Simba and Pocahontas... No? I wouldn't want to think that the Disney movies are getting worse, maybe I'm just getting old and boring? But I guess they are. Well, Disney had their hour (well, it lasted a bit longer than an hour) and now they have to share the stage with Pixar. And why not, they doing quite slendidly! I just don't want old Walt to glance down from his cloudy retirement mansion and frown upon what they're doing with his good name.

 But anyway. I think it's very cool that a Disney princess has now journeyed from Snow White to pitch-black - Tiana is the first dark-skinned Disney heroinne ever! Also, the frail, delicate, high-voiced, snow-skinned, ebony-haired little princess is only a long-lost bad dream, when Tiana takes the stage with that kick-ass attitude and a serious case of workaholism. And his prince is a bit of an idiot. Still, no matter how modern this princess is, she still has the mandatory annoying animal friends. Tiger can't change her stripes and Disney can't change its most sacred princibles.

The songs are alright, so none very memorable. Visually the film was stunning. That picture above is just an example. Next, Disney will do its magic to the story of Rapunzel, and despite everything, I'm kind of looking forward to Tangled. Though the prince seems silly again. I guess that's the new Disney trend.
Camp Rock 2: The Final Jam (2010)

directed by Paul Hoen / starring Demi Lovato, The Jonas Brothers (I thought they were an actual band or something... I guess not? Or are they...? Oh well.)

So why in the name of all things good and holy (I kind of stole that from Lost. Sorry, Hurley) did I watch a movie called Camp Rock 2: The Final Jam?? Here's your answer: cable open. I spent my Friday night quite cosily in front of TV, watching Disney Channel. Ah, some high-quality entertainment! And this was on. So I watched it. Duh. And it was so überly High School Musical-y that I would've felt disgusted if I hadn't been so amused. All they've changed is the setting. The songs and the characters are just the same. Though this one had much more annoying female lead. (And HSM is better. Ahem, it's just one hell of a guilty pleasure, you know.) Poor kids, having to watch junk like this. It's just so bad... that I feel ashamed saying that I had no problem sitting through it.

Dear Walt, don't look down.

Sep 19, 2010

Suzanne Collins: The Hunger Games - so I'm not immune, either

I lift my chin and stand as straight as I can. The cylinder begins to rise. For maybe fifteen seconds, I'm in darkness, and then I can feel the metal plate pushing me out of the cylinder, into the open air. For a moment, my eyes are dazzled by the bright sunlight and I'm conscious only of a strong wind with the hopeful smell of pine trees.
   Then I hear the legendary announcer, Claudius Templesmith, as his voice booms all around me.
   "Ladies and gentleman, let the Seventy-fourth Hunger Games begin!"

For a long time I kept hearing things about these books. How they were so amazing and best-sellers all over the world and rapidly becoming the new phenomenon to replace the Twilight series (good luck with that... sigh). I always knew I'd read these some day - the idea sounded fascinating and my taste (in books and in films, too) usually goes with the flow, pretty much hand in hand in the mainstream's taste.

Earlier this week I checked if the first book happened to be available at my local library. And it was! And so was the original version (I definitely prefer reading a book in English, if that's the original language. I can't remember what was the last time I read fiction in Finnish... It somehow sounds very stiff and clumsy to me)! And it wasn't on loan at the moment! And when I went to fetch it I found the second book right next to it! Knowing me and my mainstream-like taste, I borrowed it, too. Good thing I did, I'll begin with it later today. (Actually I did already. My hands felt a bit empty while I was having lunch.) I might have to buy the third one online, who knows when it'll reach our little library, since it only came out last month.

 The Hunger Games takes place in the near future, in Panem - a country that rose out from the ashes of North America. Panem was divided into 13 Districts, and all was swell until the Dark Days and the rebellion of District 13. The District was destoryed, and Capitol - the central city of Panem, from where the goverment holds power over the whole country - creates the Hunger Games to demonstrate how feeble and powerless the people in the Districts are.

Every year a boy and a girl  from each District is chosen to compete in the Hunger Games. The idea is simple: the contestants, called tributes, are left in a huge outdoor arena by themselves and the last one alive wins. Everything is televised, and made into a massive media event, with gambling, sponsors, stylists and interviews... prompting - or forcing - people to regard the Games as high-class entertainment.

Katniss Everdeen is a sixteen-year-old girl, living in District 12 with her mother and little sister. They lead a very simple life, living from hand to mouth. Since the death of her father, Katniss has been forced to keep the family alive, bringing the food to the table by hunting and gathering illegally outside the city walls. This has really toughed her up and taught her survival skills that will be vital for her as she ends up volunteering to be a tribute in the place of her sister. The boy tribute from her District is Peeta Mellark, who once helped Katniss' family, and so she feels she already ows him. Which of course isn't good, knowing they soon have to try and kill each other.

The Hunger Games is a real page turner, just like everyone's been saying. It's suspenseful, fascinating despite the dark and grim nature of the subject, it keeps you in its grip and makes you want to glance a page or two ahead, or the last page, just to learn how it ends and let yourself breath normally again, but you don't because you know a fastening pulse is only a good thing in a case like this and anticipation isn't always the worst part.

I grew very fond of the characters. No main character syndrome this time (meaning, I liked them unlike I often do). Katniss is very cool - fiery, termperamental, witty, smart and cabable, harded by life, but still kind-hearted and empathic under that shell. Peeta stole my heart at once, and I was glad to let him. He is just very likable without being boring. He's very sincere, yet there's always that little mystery about him. As much as I enjoyed the brutal action and surviving and struggling to stay alive, the romantic aspect of the book really worked for me, too.

The Hunger Games is a violent book, of course, but it's not gorging with the blood and murdering and dying in any way. It is a "young-adult novel", after all. It's all up to your imagination how bestial it becomes. For me, it's not the actual act of killing that is so horrifying - it's the concept, the cruelty of it all. Forcing kids kill each other. Which of course isn't fiction in some parts of our world. This actually gave Suzanne Collins the idea for the book: she was surfing the channels between a reality TV competition and actual war coverage. That's what the Hunger Games is after all - reality TV gone bad.

I haven't been hooked in a book series like this since Harry Potter, and I'm so looking forward to the following novels (not to forget the film version on the way). The first one definitely left me wanting more, and I will shamelessly let myself dive into the world of Katniss at the expense of my school work. Essays can wait, right?

Sep 18, 2010


First - I'm still very much alive and so is my blog, despite the lack of posts this week. My freetime has been mostly controlled by Lost (I need to get a move on, season 6 dvd box set is less than a month away...), The Hunger Games (they got me, too, finally), Pokémon (...yeah. I'll come back to this some time) and hangover some films I haven't really felt inspired writing about. Anyway.

Second - the IMDb Hit List always provides us with some pretty interesting links to articles and interviews and art work and such. This time I spotted these. Star Wars propaganda posters! These are cool. I remember seeing many real propaganda posters in the Imperial War Museum in London and it's easy to see the resemblence. Here's two of my favourites. (I think it's been too long since my last SW marathon... I just have too many marathons waiting to be on my schedule.)

Sep 13, 2010

Reindeerspotting (2010) - escape from Santaland

I've been sitting here for ten minutes now, this window open, waiting for me to write about the documentary I just saw, but I didn't know how to begin. Reindeerspotting left me feeling very empty.

Reindeerspotting is about Jani, a young drug addict living in Rovaniemi, Northern Finland, in 2003. The footage is all shot by Jani's friend, describing Jani's everyday life, controlled greatly by drugs, of course, either taking them or worrying about getting the next fix. With a prison sentence approaching, Jani finally decides to carry out his life-long dream - he escapes from Finland and heads to Paris.

Reindeerspotting is sad, upsetting, disturbing, horrifying. It shows in a blunt way what is it like to be a junkie. I had to look away several times - they show people shooting up in their arms very closely, and it's not very pretty. Also, they quite explicitly show and explain how to use Subutex or other drugs. Which would be very wrong if the film didn't give out such a strong anti-drug message. It shows the inhumane life the addicts lead. Drugs are always present - if they're not on them, they talk about them. Only times Jani actually looks happy is when he has a great pile of drugs in front of him, waiting to be used. But we know it's not real happiness. His life is empty, miserable, dangerous, stuck.

And yet he has dreams. He talks about them very sincerely, how he one day wishes to have a small house and a wife and kids. Humble, simple dreams, but many of those in similar situations never come close to achieving them. He also tells how he much he loves his family, though apparently they are not in touch. These parts were definitely the most powerful ones. Saddest, too.

The film is very subtle, plain, bald. There's no dramatic music, no huge climaxes. It's plain reality shown in the least theatrical way possible. We just follow this one person's life for a while. In the end they only tell us that afterwards he got stuck in a circle, going in and out of prison, but we don't know how he ends up.

... Only we do. It was just recently reported that Jani died in Cambodia a few months ago. I don't know if he was ever able to kick drugs, but knowing he didn't live to be thirty makes Reindeerspotting even more upsetting. Did he ever come even close to his dream about the house and the family? I don't know, but I'd like to. Though I have a feeling the truth would make the story of Jani even sadder than it already is.

Sep 12, 2010

Valentine's Day (2010) - a lot like love, actually

directed by Garry Marshall / starring Ashton Kutcher, Jennifer Garner, Anne Hathaway, Shirley MacLaine, Jamie Foxx, Bradley Cooper, Julia Roberts, etc

Once again the power of low expectations has been proven great. Somehow I ended up enjoying the poor man's Love Actually.

Valentine's Day takes place in Los Angeles, descriping the lives of a bunch of people during one day. The day is, surprisingly, Valentine's day. People all over the city struggle to meet the expectations of the holiday. Love is in the air and no one can escape it.

 Everyone from Queen Latifah and Jessica Alba to Taylor Lautner and Doctors McDreamy & McSteamy is in this film. It's both funny and a bit pathetic how shamelessly Valentine's Day relies on its all-star cast. And people take their bait, of course. Guilty as charged, I only wached this because of all those famous faces. In addition to feeding on people's irrational fascination towards celebrities, Valentine's Day is just as shamelessly trying to do to Valentine's day what Love Actually did to Christmas. It has too many characters and too many little storylines, thus the characters lack depth, and the storylines don't have time to evolve into something original and truly touching. Sure, many of them are kind of connected to each other, but mostly just in boring ways. This won't become an annual tradition, like Love Actually is, for me.

And yet, as I mentioned, I actually enjoyed the movie. It was a fitting choice for my s l o o o o o w Sunday morning (although it wasn't techinically morning, I just woke up a bit, um, late. That Buzz Lightyear straw (and whatever I was drinking through it) sure took me a bit beyond infinity...). It didn't take much brain to follow the story, which was fine, and I even kind of liked some of the shallow, one-dimensional characters and their storylines, like Anne Hathaway's adult phone entertainer (cool euphemism) and Topher Grace and their budding relationship, Shirley MacLaine's marriage crisis, the cute little boy and his bouquet mission, and  Bradley Cooper and Julia Roberts in an airplane. (According to IMDb, Julia Roberts was paid 12 000 dollars for every 251 word she spoke in the film. Rocks to be a pretty woman.) Yeah, and Queen Latifah just is the queen, the end.

On the other hand, I could've happily left out some of the "love" stories, to make room for the better ones. The Taylor/Taylor horridness was almost painful to watch at times. Lautner was stiff and awkward and Swift plain annoying. (Though the only line in the movie that made me laugh out loud was in their story. See the quote at the end of the post.) Also the other high school romance story was quite boring, the whole oh-I-want-the-first-time-to-be-oh-so-special scenario is just kind of ancient history as a storyline. I didn't really feel the love in the Jessica Biel/Jamie Foxx thing, though there's nothing like a good old I Will Survive singalong. Ashton Kutcher and Jennifer Garner were supposed to be the central characters in the mess of love stories, but I didn't feel for them much.

So. Valentine's Day was a lot like Love Actually, but still clearly a poor man's version. And yet, some parts felt, for me, a lot like love, actually, and I have to admid I even shed one tiny teeny weeny tear at the end of the Julia Roberts story. (That was the only ending I didn't see coming. That, and the Bradley Cooper one. That was aww.) Also, it made me feel a bit love sick. Damn, they got me, those sneaky bastards! I feel a romcom phase coming on... Sigh.

"I don't feel comfortable taking my shirt off in public."

Sep 10, 2010

No toy gets left behind... not even on the second watch

Today I heroically sacrificed 10 € and my Friday night to accompany my friends in cinema, where Toy Story 3 happened to be playing. Hmm, weird, right? Anyway. Aaah, dear, I love that movie! It was the dubbed version, but it actually worked pretty well in Finnish, too. Though Mr Pricklepants wasn't as funny without that posh accent. After the film we went to buy a bag of chips and put my Toy Story 2 DVD on. Haha. I think I'll watch the first one tomorrow.

So, I haven't been watching that many films recently (except for certain films about certain toys), because Lost has taken most of my time. But I'll report back to you when I... have something to report.

PS. Tomorrow I'll finally get to put my Buzz straw into action! Buzz Lightyear to the rescue! TO INFINITY AND BEYOND! It'll be a, eh, lively night. (My neighbours are apparently having one right now...)

Sep 8, 2010

Lost Season One - a crash landing to the best tv series ever

SPOILER ALERT! (Some references to later seasons, too. Nothing dramatic, though.)

Number of episodes / Days it took me: 25 / 18

What goes on on season 1: The Oceanic airlines flight 815 crashes on an island. Only it's not just AN island. There are polar bears, freaky French chicks, a tree-shaking monster, visions of dead parents, whispers, and some other people, too. The survivors do their best to, well, survive - they start forming their own civilization, where doctors, hunters, con men, interrigators and French-speaking divas all have their own place. They play golf, kick each other asses, build rafts, burn them and build them again, find a hatch, torture people, shoot people, live, die, have babies, blow things up, blow themselves up, and at the end of the day sit by the fire and feel quite content. Until the next disaster arrives, of course.

Coolest new characters: Well, they are all new this season. My favourites once upon a time were Charlie, Hurley, Claire, Sawyer, Sayid, Locke (until he went a bit too nuts towards the end of the season) and Boone because I thought he was so damn cute. And he is, isn't he?

Coolest storylines: The beginnings of the biggest mysteries, like the monster, the numbers, the Black Rock... I also like everything that has to do with Sawyer and his letter. Locke is an interesting man to follow on his journey of faith. And of course the first appareances of the Others - Ethan, sweet dear Ethan, and Tom.

Coolest foreshadowings: The hatch - just think about everything it'll introduce us to later on! Many things about Rousseau - Montad's arm and the gun without the firing pin. Also Adam and Eve (though of course the writers didn't know who they'd be back then).

Coolest character developments: Jin and Sun. Many other characters are still only beginning their journeys - Sawyer is still pretty much the chain-smoking jackass, Jack is a man of science from head to toe, etc. Jin has already turned into a loving husband and Sun has showed she's not as innocent as she might seem. The dynamics between them work well, and, unfortunately, that's as good as it gets.

The "...meh" moments of the season: I felt a bit "...meh" during some mid-season episodes, like All the Best Cowboys Have Daddy Issues, Whatever the Case May Be and Special. I guess some episodes just can't handle five million rewatchs...

The "OMGSFRgtrh"#¤#T%TY!!!11" moments of the season: Dr Artz goes BOOM. The polar bear. Pretty much every appareance of the monster. It liked to destroy trees back then.

The "WHAT-THE-F..." moments of the season: The French transmission. That's what got me hooked for good. Also, the light at the hatch and finding out the numbers are written on the hatch.

The "snifsnif" moments of the season: The death of Boone, what else. He was the first major character to go, and we felt it. And the launching of the raft... "Vincent, go back!" Aww.

The "HAHAHAHAHA" moments of the season: Sayid taunting Sawyer about the boar that destroyed his tent. "Maybe it wanted to fo camping." Hurley trying to spell 'bodies' and Walt correcting him. Ouch. Walt beating Hurley in Backgammon. Charlie and Hurley trying to catch fish. Hurley asking Jin to pee on his foot. "You're gonna have to pee on my foot, man!" Hahahaa. Sawyer's glasses. Hurley singing I Feel Good to calm baby Aaron down. (Didn't work.) Sawyer "getting the evening news" from Walt. God, there are so many of these...

The "awwwwww" moments of the season: The imaginary peanut butter. Sawyer reading the car magazine to Aaron.

The moments I can't fit under any other category but want to mention anyway because they are simply awesome: Sawyer and Kate's I never game. Seriously, what a great great scene! And Sawyer telling Jack about meeting his father. And Sawyer and Jack inside the fuselage. "Me? I'm in the wild." Jack and Locke's destiny debate in the finale.

Dumbest Jack moment of the season: "Where are you going?" "To kill John Locke." Sure. You do that. ("Hey! Let's cut off Boone's leg, shall we!" was pretty close, too.)

Funniest Sawyer nickname of the season: Jackass. (Also, Freckles was a classic from the beginning.)

Best openings: Yeah, well, I have to say the opening of The Pilot, of course. Because it's freaking epic. I like every other "eye opening", too, they did a lot of them back then.

Best endings: Sure, the season itself ends in a spectacular way, in that spectacular shot. But maybe even more than that I love the ending of Tabula Rasa: Hurley puts his music on, pours the sand out of his shoe and watches people around him. It's a happy and hopeful scene - Michael gives Walt Vincent back, and Sayid throws the apple to Sawyer (that's aww) - but it ends with that creepy shot of Locke. Cool. And third, ...In Translation. A harmonious scene with Delicate by Damien Rice playing in the background ends suddenly as the batteries run out of Hurley's CD player. He taps the player, mutters "Son of a bitch", removes the headphones and continues sitting in silence. Pretty random but totally awesome. I missed moments like that in the later seasons.

Best special features: The Genesis of Lost is very interesting, and Before They Were Lost pretty nice, too. The Jimmy Kimmel clip is quite funny.

Best of the Blooper Reel: Everything Dominic Monaghan does. "I don't know my line." and "Sorry. Didn't mean to grab your ass like that." The guy's just hilarious. Also Jorge Garcia's "Dude. That was terrible." And Harold Perrineau is so much cooler than his character. "...And you stink in bed!"

Best episode: The Pilot. It's just freaking great. It's so fun to watch it and know where all those characters finally end up after six seasons. Other favourites are Walkabout, Moth, Confidence Man, Oulaws, Numbers, Exodus...

The questions I wanted aswered but they never were: Whose was that white tennis shoe?? Haha. Seriously, I would've loved to know. Also, how is Walt special again...? And where was Jack going when he got up from his seat in the plane, got pushed aside by Charlie, and returned to his seat? I guess we'll never know.

The quote to summarize season 1: "Guys... Where are we?"

Overall how it felt like to watch season 1 again: Good. Real good. Season 1 is the best of Lost. It was fairly simple, yet exciting and fascinating, all the mysteries were open and there was so much to find out and discover. After that the storylines started to get more complicated, not that I don't like complicated, but that left less room for all those wonderful little character moments. But of course, any show has to evolve, things have to get bigger and new characters have to be introduced. We couldn't have spent six seasons hunting boar, opening a hatch and struggling with drug withdrawal. But still. Season 1 is number one.

What's next: In a word... Desmond! Bring it oooooon!

Sep 7, 2010

Toy Story 3 (2010) - to brilliance and beyond

directed by Lee Unkrich / voices by Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Joan Cusack, Ned Beatty

I finally saw Toy Story 3 last weekend. A very much wanted to see it before, but they played only the dubbed version in our local cinema. When I went to Tampere for the weekend to see my friends I convinced them that we should go see it (to be honest, I didn't have to do much convincing). And yes, oh yes. The film may have kept me waiting for a long time, but who minds a little wait if this is what you get.

Many things have changed since 1999. Andy has grown up and is leaving to college in just a few days. This also means winds of change to our dear toy friends, Woody the sheriff, Buzz Lightyear the space ranger and co. - who gets thrown away, who ends up in the attic in a small hope of getting played with again when Andy has his own kids, who gets donated and who gets to go to college with Andy? After a few twists of fate, they all end up in the Sunnyside daycare centre, which first seems like the perfect place to everyone - except for Woody, who just can't get over Andy. Very soon it becomes clear to them that Sunnyside is actually an evil, corrupted prison, ruled over by Lots O'Hugging Bear, or Lotso, who was once embittered by the loss of his owner. The stakes are higher than ever as the toys get ready for the great escape.

What can I say? Pixar once again proved that whatever they have for breakfast is superior to everyone else's morning meals. Gee, who would've thought a third instalment of an animated movie series would be one of the best movies of the year, if not the best? ... Actually, I know I'm not the only one who believed just that. Pixar can't seem to do wrong.

Like the two previous films, Toy Story 3 was sweet, funny, intelligent and heartfelt, but this time darker and deeper, and seriously, there were times when I threw the hopes of a happy ending away, far away. And that's saying a lot about a film that has something to do with Disney, you know. It's amazing how attached I felt to those characters, every single one, each of those three Pizza Planet aliens and even Jessie the cowgirl, who kind of annoyed me in the second film. And of course Woody is just great. ("He'll never give up on you... ever. He'll be there for you, no matter what." Ah, goosebumps.) My favourite is still Buzz. I always cherish every "return of the astro-nut". The Spanish mode was pure genious, hilarious, just hilarious... I can't wait to put my Buzz straw from Disneyland into action! Haha. God bless the impulse purchases. (PS. I kind of miss Bo Peep.)

Let's talk about the new characters! There were lots of them, which troubled me a bit beforehand, but luckily they didn't steal the stage from our old friends, only shared it with them peaceably. I cracked up to Mr. Pricklepants and his posh accent, and I'm not even getting started with Ken and his extensive wardrobe, ooooh dear (and how it's totally normal for him to wear high heels? Hahahahaha)... I think it was a brilliant idea to make the pink, fluffy, huggable, strawberry-smelling teddybear the big bad villain. He was really scary, but you can't talk about scary without mentioning the Big Baby. Damn! That 180 degress turn of the head. Kids will have nightmares all over the world. Also, the monkey's creepiness rate isn't much lower than the baby's.

And thumbs up for Barbie for proving she's not just a silly blonde! "Authority should derive from the consent of the governed, not from threat of force." You said it, girl. Also, you kick ass. Awwww, there were so many charming and funny bits, I'm going mad, I need to see it again! NOW! Come DVD, come.

Ah, a word or two about the 3D. This was my most pleasant 3D experience so far. Avatar was torture, Alice in Wonderland not quite so because it was shorter, but anyways, my eyes were sore which was disturbing. Now, I don't know if my eyes are just getting used to 3D, but I was a bit bothered by it only in the beginning. My guess is, I forgot about my sore eyes, because I was thinking about nothing else but the movie. I wasn't even conscious of the third dimension all the time, which means it was just the nice little finishing touch for a film that would've worked well otherwise, too. (I wish this 3D phenomenon passes, soon.)

Toy Story 3 was wonderful, so wonderful. Inception has met its match, quite possibly. I'm now stuck thinking about the ending and how perfect it was... Oooh dear. That's it, I'm going to see it again. There are much worse ways to spend 10 €.

 "Buzz, you're back!"
"Uh, yes, yes I am. Where did I go?"
"Beyond infinity, my friend."

Sep 2, 2010

In Search of a Midnight Kiss (2007) - rude romance in black and white

directed by Alex Holdridge / starring Scoot McNairy, Sara Simmonds

'Between December 25th and January 1st the number of people on, CraigsList and MySpace increases by three hundred percent.' So begins the search of a midnight kiss, in the modern tale of modern love, In search of a Midnight Kiss. This film hasn't got much attention, and I only learned about it when reading a blog. It caught my attention, because it sounded similar to Before Sunrise, one of my favourite films. And yes... Midnight Kiss definitely had some similarities to Before Sunrise, but I'd say it's a more... rude and bitchy version of it. And less romantic. And romantic in a different way.

It's New Year's Eve in Los Angeles. Wilson plans on spending it sulking and wallowing in his misery, missing his ex-girlfriend and gloating in self-pity, but his friend convinces him to post a personal ad online. So he meets Vivian.

While I was convinced from the beginning that Wilson is a cool guy, Vivian, at first, was so rude and bitchy that I couldn't imagine myself learning to like her at all. Though of course I knew it was just an act and under that bitchy core there is a sweet, confused woman hiding, that's how these things just roll. She hides behind her sunglasses and talks so absurdly awful things you just can't belive she's serious. And she isn't. Totally.

Okay, so. I don't think I've made this clear yet, so I'll do it now. I liked Midnight Kiss, a lot. It was funny and witty and harsh (in a good way, meaning no prudishness here, at all) and finally also touching and romantic, and despite some of its cynical elements - and the rudeness and the bitchiness - quite encouraging and heartfelt.

To bring up the similarity to Before Sunrise again, the romance in Midnight Kiss isn't the same kind of soulmate-y, instant-connection love that worked so well with Jesse and Celine. What Wilson and Vivien develop that night is affection, no doubt, but merely just, in my interpretation, two people finding something they need at a time in the other person. And that is quite beautiful, too.

Speaking of beautiful, Los Angeles looks just that! When you think about the city, you always just remember the Hollywood sign and the Walk of Fame and the wide streets with palm trees where all those ridiculously rich people live. But it's really quite pretty, the downtown and the shops and the streets and the theatres. The black-and-white-ness just emphasizes this. Oh right, I guess I forgot to mention that the film is shot in black and white. Yeah, it's one of THESE Thursdays again, you know. Anyway, the b&w thing really works well. There's no particular reason for it, but I liked it and I'm glad they still do it from time to time. Colour is so overrated! (Okay, not really.)

 There's one random thing that came to my mind just now, and I'm just going to say it here and not try to look a better place for it. I'm blaming this on The Thursday. In the film Vivien has this 'hobby'. She takes pictures of lonely, lost shoes whenever she sees one. And I'm thinking, what a fascinating and fun thing to do! I should come up with a bobby like that.

I just keep on writing these random things. Stream of consciousness is a beautiful thing, isn't it! I liked both of the actors and I liked that they were both unknow faces. Everyone in this film was unknown. It's cool. Somehow it helps you to have an unprejudiced, fresh attitude on the characters, because you've never seen those faces before. They could as well be just who they act they are.

The dynamics between the two characters work quite splendidly - how their attitudes towards each other change gradually and though Vivien's switch from the rude bitch to somewhat normal person is quite swift, it works and is interesting to watch. In summary, I liked In Search of a Midnight Kiss very much and will definitely see it again. I haven't had a watching experience like this in a while, and this was a great reminder of the power of a good romance. No matter how bitchy.

"The midnight kiss. It's not just another kiss. It's all the hope of romance of the year culminating on just one moment."

Sep 1, 2010

The Green Mile: the novel and the film

"Van Hay rolled on three and The Chief surged forward again, twisting a little from side to side in the grip of the current. When doc listened this time, he nodded. It was over. We had once again succeeded in destroying what we could not create. Some of the folks in the audience had began talking in those low voices again; most sat with their heads down, looking at the foor, as if stunned. Or ashamed."

Stephen King's The Green Mile was first published in 1996, one volume per month - all six were New York Times bestsellers. The film version - directed by Frank Darabont - was released in 1999.

I first saw the film when I was in ninth grade, in school, in a movie/novel course I took. I remember liking it more than the other films we watched during the course (like Piano and Fried Green Tomatoes). After that I've bought it on DVD and rewatched it quite regularly. I bought the book last year and now finally found the time to read it. And it was at least as good as the film.

 Paul Edgecomb is an old, old man, living in an old folks' home. He begins to write a book about his past - the year 1932 (1935 in the film, for some reason), when he worked as a guard in the Death Row of the Cold Mountain Penitentiary, called the Green Mile, because the colour of its floor. In that year John Coffey came to the Mile, condemned to die for a horrible murder of two little girls. As it happens, Coffey changed the lives of the prison guards forever.
 Of the movies based on books, some are obviously bad (like P.S. I Love You, the film almost ruined the book), some okay, but don't work if you don't know the original material (Harry Potters, The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas), some are great even without having read the book (Fight Club), of which some might get even better once you've read the book. Atonement is a great example, here. I think the film is brilliant, and the book is brilliant, and together they are extra brilliant - they complete each other, so to speak! The Green Mile falls under the same category. The book might help clear some things that were left a bit vague in the film, and I sometimes like that I have an image of a person in my head when I'm reading, meaning that I can imagine the book's Paul to look like Tom Hanks and so on. Call it a lousy imagination, but sometimes it helps! 

The book was a joy to read. 'Joy' might be a strange word, considering the dark and disturbing subjects, but it's simply very well written and I was always happy to pick it up. Stephen King is one heck of a storyteller.

Let's look at the characters and the actor playing them. They have some really great actors playing these great characters. I really like Tom Hanks, he's somehow always very warm, whatever the role. (Has he ever played a real bad guy? That might be interesting.) I like all the actors playing his collegues, too, Brutal and Harry and Dean... Dean somehow always gets my sympathies, maybe partly because of the actor, Barry Pepper. He hasn't starred in much, but I always like him. He's been in some war movies, like Private Ryan and Flags of Our Fathers, he played that sniper, I think. And of course the Babe farmer (I WILL remember his name some day without cheating, I promise... James Cromwell) as the Warden.

Not to forget Doug Hutchison, bringing the oh-so-disgusting Percy Wetmore to life in a brilliant way. (He was Horrace in Lost, later, and I never quite trusted him completely, because he'll always remind me of Percy.) Percy is one of these excellent characters, who you have to like because they are so easy to hate. He's cowardly, careless, cocky, intentionally mean, always combing his hair and hiding behind his connections to some important people. He gets what he deserves, of course, but time to time I had to slap myself for almost feeling sorry for him. Maybe because he's so young, after all? SLAP. Right. He's an a-hole all the same.

Speaking of a-holes, The Green Mile was also the first time I became aware of Sam Rockwell's awesomeness. Of course, it wasn't Rockell that the word 'a-hole' brought to my mind, but his character, William Wharton, or Wild Bill, as he likes to call himself. He's a so-called problem child, terrorising the Mile and the people working there when ever he gets the change (but unlike Percy, he does this from behind the bars). It's well put in the book: The man just doesn't care. Sam Rockwell is so good. I understood that already back in the ninth grade. And almost felt like putting a picture of him as my desktop wall paper, but somehow it would've been wrong, because of the, eh, nasty nature of the character. But he's fantastic all the same. Those teeth and all.

The casting of John Coffey was obviously vital for the whole film. If he didn't work, the film wouldn't have. Luckily Michael Clarke Duncan is very good as the enourmous, weepy, simple-minded Coffey (like the drink, only not spelt the same), who doesn't seem to understand what's going on around him, or even within him. I can't imagine anyone else playing Coffey, and that's usually a pretty good sign of a nailed role.

 Ouch, I almost forgot Eduard Delacroix, or Del, the little Frenchman, who 'tames' himself a mouse, names him Mr Jingles, 'teaches' him tricks and treats him like a son during his last days in the Mile (and on Earth, for that matter). Del totally ges my sympathies, poor little man. It's weird, you know he's done terrible things, but you can't help feeling sorry for him.

The Green Mile includes the most horrifying execution scene in the history of cinema, or that's at least what I think. Hrr. There's also that guaranteed tearjerker scene in the end, not once have I managed to watch it with totally dry eyes. Oh dear. The film is long, almost three hours, but it doesn't feel that long. Every minute is necessary, because the story is quite complex and all the scenes are needed for us to get to know the characters and care about them. And there are no boring moments.

Another thing about the book. In the film we meet the old Paul only in the beginning and the end, but in the book we visit him quite often. He talks about writing the story and so on, and I always liked those parts. Stephen King somehow knows what it must be like to be an old, old man.

...I don't know how to conclude this post. Well, by once more stating the obvious, I guess? The book is excellent. The film is excellent. It's an excellent story with excellent characters. And a touch of something magical.