Mar 31, 2011

25 years of genius (aka Pixar) in five minutes

Aw. Love. Just, love.

Now where are all my Pixar DVDs when I need them?

Mar 30, 2011

Some uncharacteristic fuss over a pair of shoes

If I ever fell in love with a pair of shoes at first sight... That's one awesome pair of heels! Now, if I was really into craft and a really handy kind of person, I certainly would snitch the idea and make myself a collection of heels like that, with different texts in them. I'm not. But I like the idea, anyway.

...Never mind, though, I wouldn't be able to take one step with heels like that, or even stand in one place without falling down and breaking a dozen bones. Maybe with someone to support me, I could.

You have just read the first and quite possibly the last fashion-related post of this blog. Though who knows, maybe one of these days I'll become a real talented and fashion-conscious craftsperson, who makes awesome shoes. And knows how to walk with crazy heels.

Btw, hasn't little Georgie Henley grown up since I last saw her in a Narnia film? Which was the first one, but anyway.

Mar 29, 2011

What (else) I saw in February

Das Experiment (2001)

Please tell me we're not really like this. (And yet, as the film is based on the real Stanford Prison Experiment conducted in 1971, I guess we kind of are.) In the experiment a bunch of volunteered men are divided into two groups. One group is locked into cells while the others are given the role of prison guards. They're left by themselves, but are constantly observed by the researchers. They're ordered to stay in character at all times, but never resort into violence. And why would they? They're just ordinary people with nothing against each other! Right? Das Experiment reminded me a lot about the classic novel The Lord of the Flies, as they both look at group dynamics and the frailty of human morality in extreme situations. The film was very interesting and quite horrifying at times, but definitely recommended! (Don't know about the recent American remake, but I bet the original is much, much better.)

Persepolis (2007)

One of the the best animated non-kids'-movies I've ever seen! Not that I've seen too many. I should educate myself on this area (too), though! The main character Marji has to be one of my favourite female characters of the recent years, because she's just so cool, in a realistic way. Persepolis is funny, sweet, sad, original, with an interesting visual look and clever ideas about what growing up is like and how where you come from have an effect on where you're going. And listening to French is kind of nice, even though I didn't understand a word...
How to Train Your Dragon (2009)

This was a positive surprise! Apparently it's not only Pixar that does awesome animations, but DreamWorks gets lucky too once in a while. The hero of the story, a young viking called Hiccup, is charming as heck in his haplessness and awkwardness. Didn't realise he was voiced by Jay Baruchel. (And there were also voices by people like Gerald Butler, Christopher Mintz-Plasse and Ashley Jensen of Extras! Well, I feel quite deaf now.) The dragons were cool and I bet this would've looked nice in 3D. Though of course it looked nice in 2D, too. We don't need 3D. Down with 3D.

Luftslottet Som Sprängdes (2009)

 The first instalment of the Millenium trilogy remains my favourite. For me, it felt like the only one with a clear, coherent storyline, or at least the most interesting one: there was a mystery and it needed to be solved. Still, watching Noomi Rapace is never too tough a job, so I enjoyed this film, too, and if they ever make more of these, I'll see them. (I just read somewhere that there might be a script for another book, after all.)
Step Up (2006)

I do kind of like dance flicks.

And I even almost warmed up for Channing Tatum.


Still, a movie can't get much cheesier.

Also, I watched some John Hughes films. But I'm working on some special posts for them... which I will hopefully finish some time before Christmas. Sigh. (I should've published this post in the first days of March, not the last... Oh well. Letting life get in the way isn't always so bad.)

Mar 28, 2011

Winter's Bone (2010) - cold like winter, hard like bone

 directed by Debra Granik / starring Jennifer Lawrence, John Hawkes, Garret Dillahunt

So, I'm depressed now. Damn these movies that are so sad and gloomy and bleak that you lose a handful of your will to live. Winter's Bone was almost as depressing as Precious. (But not quite. That film is the most depressing piece of fiction ever. Just mentioning the title gets my spirits down. I never want to see it again. Please don't make me.) Everything is so dark and cold all time, no one smiles and nothing nice happens. Just more and more bad things, one after another. Give it a rest, and have party or something, okay?

Of course, the Dolly family doesn't have much to celebrate. The 17-year-old Ree is supporting for her two younger siblings and her mentally absent mother, and as if life wasn't hard enough as it is, they will lose their house unless their physically absent father turns up in court. Ree is determined to find him, but no one seems to be either willing or able to help her. And things just suck, a lot.

Jennifer Lawrence is the supporting force of the film just as Ree is of her family. Her distress is convincing, and she's tough, but there's warmth in her too. I think I can a Katniss in there somewhere! The Hunger Games fans shouldn't be worried, as she quite certainly will deliver. Also, John Hawkes does a powerful role as Ree's uncle Teardrop. I can almost forgive him for basically snitching Andrew Garfield's Oscar nomination. And he did that short-lived guest appearance in Lost, too, after all. So I'm quite pro-John Hawkes.

Winter's Bone is quite a good film. It's different from mainstream Hollywood, which is always a plus. Major, serious female roles is another plus. The plot is very simple and not much happens, so it's not the most suspenseful and thrilling film, and I can't say I enjoyed it, in the real sense of the word. I don't think I'll very soon feel like seeing it again.

But still, I'm glad to have seen it this once. Reminded me once again how miserable everything is, if nothing else... Sigh. It's quite shocking that people really still live like that in America, in the hopeless circle of unemployment, poverty and drugs. The film is set is Missouri, which is next to Kansas, where I'll be moving in in August. And these films I've recently seen don't give too a flattering image about the area: on the other side of Kansas there is Colorado (see: Bowling for Columbine) and on the other, Missouri. Anyone know any depresing films set in Nebraska or Oklaholma? I don't want to get my hopes up about the other neighbouring states...

"Never ask for what oughta be offered."

Mar 25, 2011

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) and my epic journey on a Friday night

directed by Stanley Kubrick / starring Keir Dullea, Gary Lockwood

2001: A Space Odyssey is part 3/12 of my resolution for 2011.

17:03 I'm now preparing myself for the ultimate task of March. Forget the six hundred essays and exams, this is my true trial! I've once before attempted to watch the Stanley Kubrick sci-fi epic, but was forced to give up due to boredom after about five minutes. I was about twelve that time, so I should be forgiven for that. But the question is, is there now, a decade later, enough woman in me to sit it through? And maybe, just maybe, actually manage to enjoy it a bit? Place your bets, because an odyssey of 143 minutes is about to begin!

17:12 Juice? Check. Chocolate? Check. Grapes? Check. My comfiest pair of horrible, pink sweatpants? Check. A warning that everyone who'll disturb me will get a pillow aimed at their heads? Placed. Ready for take-off. I'll now proceed to press play.

17:49 I thought I'd report my progress every half and hour or so. So far, there's been some angry apes (okay, early men, or whatever), and just when I thought there won't be any dialogue in the whole film at all, some humans appeared and they're having quite reasonable conversations. I'm not bored, at all, actually. I'm just quite interested to see where this is going.

18:24 The thing is, I don't feel like pausing the film to write reports. Weird! It's like I'm actually kind of enjoying this film! Too weird! I'm expecting something exciting to happen, but more due to eagerness and curiosity than boredom. And by the way, I'm going to have a break from eating, because I feel a bit like a balloon. No eating in the next 30 minutes.

18:54 The screen says 'intermission' so let's have one then. The first signs of tiredness have occured. Might be due to the too few hours of sleep I had last night. I'll soldier on.

19:51 ... Okay then. The good news is, I've seen Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey. Hurray! Now let me gather my thoughts for a minute.

20:09 Or twenty. Haha. Anyway.

The thought that kept coming to my mind throughout the film was: If only I could see this in a cinema. It must be such a dazzling, hypnotizing experience to see this film on a huge screen, in a dark room. Just imagine you go to see a film in a cinema and the first minutes you just sit on a complete darkness... Way to set up the atmosphere.

I guess I should now say whether I liked the film or not. Rather difficult task, really... I kept glancing at the clock, yes, but mostly just to see when I should have my breaks (and as you can see, I deliberately skipped the last one). I will not see this again anytime soon, but I will some time (the moment I get a chance to see it on any screen bigger than my TV's, I'll go for it!). I didn't quite get the whole point of the film, but who did, honestly, without getting some further explanations.

When setting up the list of films on my resolution list, Space Odyssey was definitely the one I felt most concerned about. Not only because of the minor trauma caused by the short-lived attempt of the 12-year-old me. I thought the film would be an over-long, highbrow, ridiculously artistic mess, with no coherent storyline and the capacity to make your head spin like a carousel. And that it is, isn't it? The freaky thing is, I didn't mind. I was happy to get my head spinned by the images and the music and the ideas. I was short of absorbed by the story, though I wasn't sure if there was one, but apparently there was.

Now what about those special effects? The first Star Wars came a decade after this, so why did those effects look so crappy compared to Space Odyssey? And I actually weighed on the possibility that Kubrick had found some damn well-trained monkeys, because bloody hell, didn't those ape people look quite bloody real?

So. March didn't end being the most painful month of the year. (What do you know, I've done some maturing in the last ten years, after all! What a relief!) Instead, it was the most impressive month so far, one that will surely linger on my mind for quite some time. I wrote that title of the post before watching, jokingly, sure to change it afterwards. But I won't, because I actually feel like I took a little journey tonight. Pretty epic it was, as well.

"Daisy, Daisy, give me your answer do / I'm half crazy all for the love of you / It won't be a stylish marriage / I can't afford a carriage / But you'll look sweet upon the seat of a bicycle built for two."

Mar 20, 2011

Bowling for Columbine (2002) - cold world, hot shower

directed by Michael Moore

Bowling for Columbine is one of those documentaries that everyone should see (and I feel a bit bad that I only saw it now myself). I does makes you feel pretty miserable and it surely does not advance your faith in the goodness of our world, but still it's a good reminder that you don't have to go to the third world countries to look for things that suck, hard.

In the documentary Michael Moore tries to get to the bottom of gun violence in America, circling a lot around the 1999 massacre at the Columbine High School in Colorado. As a filmmaker, Moore is excellent: by showing and telling and interviewing he gets his point across in a way that is hard to ignore. I can say I was very upset by the film and cried, too (more than ever when watching Titanic, I might add), for all these things that truly suck in this world and for the cruel and inhumane ways some people have been taught to think. Afterwards I went and took a very hot shower. Maybe I was trying to compensate for all the coldness.

The weapon industry is blooming all over the world, but not the least in the US. Their gun-related homicide rate is higher than anywhere else in the world (the documentary was made a decade ago, but I believe the situation hasn't got much better since), and that should alarm people to do something about the matter. Just last month the news said that Texas is planning on allowing their university students and staff to carry a gun on campus. Yes, that's right. More guns. That'll solve everything.

The documentary makes a good point about the vicious circle of gun violence and fear, and how the media just fuels the paranoia and the general mistrust people have for each other. Carrying a gun is marketed as a civil duty, the only way to keep you and your family safe. It's extremely sad that people are taught to automatically assume the worst of each other. Then, when a six-year-old boy brings a gun to school and shoots a fellow student, who can be blamed? It is always just the abstract factors: the world, the society... the general lack of love and caring. Sucks for us, but what can you do?

One feels so helpless and beaten with issues like this. You feel you'd like to do something about it, but don't know what or how. It might be easy to think that this all happens in America and even though it's sad, it doesn't touch us, elsewhere in the world. But, as we know here in Finland, the problems and dangers aren't just some distant menace from another world, they're right behind our front doors, too. Now, at the latest, as we've gotten some hits much closer than most of us feel comfortable, we feel that we should, the whole world should, those idiots in Texas should, just freaking wake up and actually DO SOMETHING.

... And of course, I'm one big hypocrite myself. I don't know what should be done. So, after I've written this post, I'll have some late lunch and listen to some cheery music and maybe go out to enjoy the early spring sunshine and concentrate on problems I can hope to solve, including mostly essays and dirty dishes and other mundane stuff. And I will continue to watch American movies that make violence a glorified form of entertainment. And in August I will go to the States to study and make friends and travel and have loads of fun, while I'm actively trying to ignore the fact that in the state next to me there is a place called Columbine High School. It's easier to forget than make an effort.

Moore interviews many people and they all make somewhat good points about where the problems lie and what a horrible state the world is currently in. Still, few have any proper proposals for improvement to offer. And yes, there are a billion other problems in the world that have been rooting deep for ages, and can't be removed just like that, as nicely idealistic as the thought might sound. What can one single person be expected to do?

In the end, it was none other than Marilyn Manson, who brought up the point that made most sense:

"If you were to talk directly to the kids at Columbine or the people in that community, what would you say to them if they were here right now?"
"I wouldn't say a single word to them, I would listen to what they have to say, and that's what no one did."

Shouldn't be too hard to fix that, right? Right? 

Mar 19, 2011

Hey solitary Saturday, I've missed you

  What a nice day today! One of those I haven't had in a long time. One of those filled with nothing else but movies! Ah! I've missed days like this! Well, I did go and do an exam in the morning (if noon can still be counted as morning) and I even did pretty well, I think. During the exam I spotted a boy who looked just like Jesse Eisenberg, and I also fell into some sweet nostalgia, because the girl who sat in the seat in front of me had perfume on that reminded me of the smell of the hotel in England I used to work in. Weird.
Then I came home and then I watched three movies and then I rewatched the latest episode of Glee (insert multiple hearts here) and then I began to write a post while trying to decide which movie to see next (too much, Mr Schue? Not even close!). I think it'll be Benjamin Button, though I'm not quite sure if I'm up for it this time of the day.
 OR I could just turn off the lights and lie on my bed and listen to the Glee version of Blackbird over and over... because that sounds wonderfully sane.

Oh, what is this post about anyway? ... I honestly tried to come up with something, but no. But I'd count it as a major achievement that I'm actually writing an actual post! Even if its topic might yet be a bit undetermined. And will probably remain so.

Now I think I'll take a chance and put Benjamin Button on. I'll just keep thinking about the prize (the 20-year-old-looking Brad Pitt) that'll be waiting for me in the end, and I should be able to sat it through. I have to enjoy myself tonight, because tomorrow I again have to face the reality which includes A LOT of school work and no time for four movies a day.

Have a good night, y'all.

Mar 17, 2011

Get ready Panem, here's your Katniss!

The leading actress of the upcoming Hunger Games movie has finally been chosen! The lucky girl is Jennifer Lawrence, best known for her role in The Winter's Bone, which also got her an Oscar nomination. I haven't yet seen the film, but I believe Jennifer has got the talent to bring the strong, hardened-by-life Katniss alive on the screen. And quite honestly, I'm just really happy Effy from Skins wasn't chosen. So I'm all thumbs up for this choice! She may be 20, while Katniss is 16, but this won't be the first time an actor is older than their character. This is not a John Travolta/Grease situation, after all.

Next, I'm anxiously waiting for news about who will play the male lead, Peeta. I'm a huge Peeta fan and the casting is only a matter of life and death for me. I NEED TO LIKE HIM. Just let it not be Alex Pettyfer.

Mar 8, 2011

Black Swan (2010) - release the darkness from within

directed by Darren Aronofsky / starring Natalie Portman, Vincent Cassell, Mila Kunis

 I had better luck today: the projector at the cinema actually worked! So now I've finally seen Black Swan. Before the praising commences (I've been reading Jane Eyre again and that old English is quite catchy!), I want to complain about something. I often go to movies alone, like, I'd imagine, many people do. So I went to see The King's Speech, alone. This is the dialogue that occured at the counter. Me: "Hi, The King's Speech, please." The girl at the counter: "One?" Me: "Yes." Okay. Then, yesterday. Me: "Hi, ONE for Black Swan, please." TGATC: "Anyone coming to sit next to you?" Me: "... No." Today, the girl at the counter gave me one ticket without asking questions. Then I get to my seat and a couple of rows below me there is a girl from my year and the first thing she says is: "Are you alone?" Me: (sigh) "Yes, I am." Just let me go to movies by myself, okay? It doesn't bother me, it shouldn't bother you. Gee...

And actually, I'm very happy I went to see Black Swan by myself. I hate that awkward moment after a film like that ends and you quickly try to sweep the awe off your face and start casually chating with your friends. Now I got to stay in awe all the way back home. I still kind of am.

Black Swan is about Nina, an ambitious, passionate and talented ballerina, who lives to dance and settles for nothing less than perfection. She is cast as the Swan Queen in a production of Swan Lake, dancing the roles of both swans, the black and the white. The White Swan comes naturally for Nina, as she's reserved, graceful and vulnerable. Problem is the Black Swan, whose seductive, decadent and bewitching presence Nina finds hard to assume. Then there's Lily, the new girl who seems to have everything Nina lacks: she's loose, care-free, open and naturally flirtatious. The director of the ballet, Thomas, tells Nina the only person standing in her way is herself, but she's not so sure.

(OOOOH holy mother of... My flatmate just came to my door and said my name in a normal voice and I literally screamed and jumped about five inches to the air. I guess I'm still a bit paranoid after the film. I better sleep on it and continue tomorrow.)

Black Swan is... impressive. Very impressive. The haunting music and the camera angles create an ominous and oppressive mood that keeps you on the edge of your seat all the way through. There are hardly any lighter scenes or comic reliefs. The world from Nina's point of view is a cruel and selfish place, lacking love and compassion and kindness. She is fragile and insecure and as she tries to search her mind for its darker side, it slowly begins to fall apart. It is done very well and I might have had a few minor heart attacks because of the scariest scenes. Creepy, but brilliant.

Let us praise the female leads, then! Nina might've had trouble in finding the evil twin from within, but Natalie played both the White and Black Swan perfectly from the beginning. Enjoy that fully-deserved golden statue, momma! And Mila Kunis fits wonderfully in the role of the playful Lily. I also liked Winona Rider's minor role as the bitter ex-superstar ballerina.

It was fun watching the scenes with Natalie and her then-choreographer/now-fiancé Benjamin Millepied. I kept a hopeful eye for some secret mutual glances and lingered touches, but unfortunately didn't spot any. Natalie was right, he is a good actor! I totally believed he didn't want to sleep with her!

 Ballet is such a beautiful form of dancing and the Swan Lake is such an emotional and powerful story, with score to die for. Just a few tones of the melody of that final act gives me a huge rush of goosebumps. The last scenes of the film kind of blew me away and there's just one word to describe it: perfect. Black Swan is an impressive film that will linger in your mind long after the last frame fades away. (And I bitterly add it to the list of films that I think would've deserved the Best Picture Oscar more than you-know-what. (No, I'm still not quite over this.))

"How about I dance the Black Swan for you?"

Mar 7, 2011

Mulholland Drive (2001) - someone's mind need to be broadened

directed by David Lynch / starring Naomi Wats, Laura Harring, Justin Theroux

Mulholland Drive is part 2/12 of my resolution for 2011.

Last night I went to see Black Swan. Or tried to. After sitting in the auditorium for a half an hour, we were announced that the projector is broken, so they gave us two free tickets and told us to come back some other night. So, I'll try again today... And instead of a cinema night, I then decided to finally watch the film I was supposed to see last month according to my New Year resolution.

 So, I began to watch Mulholland Drive, after first trying to clear my mind of all prejudices and the certainty that I would find it terrible. Well, unfortunately I know my taste too well. The hours crawled by as I kept glancing at the clock and waiting for something earth-shattering to happen or an explanation for the random characters that kept showing up to come. Then, towards the end, I gave in to my lack of interest and began to do other things, though knowing perfectly well that I was making a mistake not fully concentrating on the film. And indeed, I think I missed the most important turn of events, because first they were in that Silencio place and next time I paid attention there was something else, something pretty freaky, going on and I didn't know what had happened. And frankly, I wasn't bothered enough to go back and check. So, I watched the last fifteen minutes with raised eyebrows, not even trying to make sense of it all, because I was already a lost case.

I'm a bit chagrined that I didn't surprise myself and love the film. I was silently hoping to find a cultured intellectual inside of me, but well, what can you do, tiger and her stripes and all that. I'll know better and stick with the more earthly stuff in the future. (Except that it's March now, which can mean only one thing: it's A Space Odyssey time. Oh god.) I can name a few postitive things about the film, anyway. The first scene with the Lost guest star... No, wait, there were two Lost guest stars. Well, the one that had a bit less confusing role in the film. If you're still not following, I'm talking about Mark Pellegrino's character, the hitman or whatever. (You see, I'm getting as confusing as the film. It's clearly affecting me.) So, anyway. The first hitman scene actually made me chuckle a little. That was one positive thing. Besides, the mood was very eerie and quite haunting, which can also counted as a plus, because it shows I'm not totally immune to what everyone else sees in the film.

And actually, as I afterwards consulted IMDb to find out what had happened in the film I'd just watched (pathetic, isn't it...), I was sort of able to see why everyone calls the film brilliant. It is structured in quite a clever way and the plot it pretty fascinating when you think about it. I don't know if it tells more about me or the film, but the story sounds much better on paper that it was on screen. And is the viewer really supposed to figure all that out by themselves just by watching? I know I missed some critical bits, but still, some of the 'explanations' were just pretty damn far-fetched.

Probably by now it's pretty safe to say that David Lynch just isn't for me. I guess my mind just isn't stretched far enough. Too bad.

"It'll be just like in the movies. Pretending to be somebody else."

Mar 5, 2011

Some post-Oscar sentiments 2011

Voilá, a more or less brief summary of the thoughts than ran through my mind in the Oscar Night.

(It turned out to be 'less brief'. So, if you're still dying to get inside my head, proceed by clicking below.)

Mar 3, 2011

Darth Vader in love

He might be the most powerful sith in the galaxy and he might have more midichlorians than Master Yoda himself, but in love life, Lord Vader doesn't have it any easier than the rest of us.