Apr 28, 2011

Accio July!

... Oh my.

P.S. Can I begin my Wappu now? The exam book says no. Everything and everyone else says yes. I'm confused!

Apr 24, 2011

A year in a life: Life is like Chocolat turns one!

Exactly one year ago it was a Saturday. The day was coming to an end and I didn't mind, as it was one of those less fun and exciting Saturday nights; I was still recovering from a particularly nasty stomach bug and I had no other company than my flatmate's cat (which I almost forgot to feed as the night went on). So, I was pondering over my options: I could kill some more time aimlessly wondering around the wonderful world of internet (meaning: updating my Facebook homepage), or pop on some movie of the same level of quality as the one I'd seen before that day (Dear John), or... maybe I could create a blog?

So I did, and 365 days and 208 posts later... it's a Sunday night and I just watched The Last Song. As you can see, I've come a long way. Haha. No, but I actually watched it on purpose today, kind of to celebrate the occasion. Maybe I'm beginning a tradition here! ... One twisted and lousy tradition it would be though, because I've never been too fond of Nicholas Sparks and the films adapted from his books - kind of the opposite. Shame it was indeed a Sparks movie I happened to watch on the day I created my blog, and not one of those extremely highbrow and intellectual art house films I usually watch every night. Ahem.

I also wistfully gave up the pink-ish Chaplin layout, and returned to the roots of the blog, so to speak. For the first time, the banner matches the name of the blog, and I quite like this new look. (Not sure about the font, yet, we'll see if I'll get used to it...) Also, I recreated my first profile picture ever. I kind of wish I'd saved pictures of the various layouts my blog has been through during its first year, because they've indeed been quite various. And varying of quality, too, haha.

Blogging has become a dear hobby for me. Though recently life has all too frequently been getting in the way of the whole blogging business, this is still an activily I choose to spend some of my time with, even when it's scarce. (Yeah yeah, I should definitely be studying for an exam right now. In a minute...) Reading other (movie) blogs is also not only entertaining, but also helpful in stretching that Must See list on and on and on and on. I can honestly say blogging has inspired me to watch more movies both in number and variety.

So finally, I'd like to thank every single person who has ever read my blog, especially those who take time to comment once in a while! I'd probably keep doing this without no readers at all (it's been quite therapeutic, really, and fun!), but of course, knowing there's someone to share your thoughts with is more than motivating and makes it worthwhile.

So, thanks, y'all! You rock! Virtual drinks all around! Let's keep blogging! ^^

Apr 22, 2011

The Deer Hunter (1978) - don't hate the player, hate the game

directed by Michael Cimino / starring Robert De Niro, Christopher Walken, Meryl Streep

The Deer Hunter is part 4/12 of my resolution for 2011.

I expected April to be one of the easier months on my little mission, but I still didn't feel too confident about actually LIKING The Deer Hunter very much, as I wasn't sure whether the plot would mostly just circle around the war itself, or be more character-driven. Good for me, the film turned out to be hardly at all about the Vietnam war. Much more than that, it was about the few characters, and how their lifes were affected by the war.

So, yes! I liked The Deer Hunter! It's a bit silly to think, afterwards, how ridiculously long time I kept avoiding the film, not finding the right mood to watch it, because I though it would be either much more artsy or much more difficult to get inside of. And look how easy wacthing it ended up being! I think I might've liked it most out of the four films I've seen due to my resolution so far. I mean, it's a bit difficult to compare this to the other-worldly experience that watching Space Odyssey was, but with Deer Hunter I even feel that I want to see it again sometime in the near-future. So, go April! I have a sneaky, menacing feeling that May won't be this delightful, but let's not get ahead of ourselves.

Oh no. Look at me now, I sound far too cheery. The film I just saw was not 'feel-good', so I'll cut down with the cheeriness from here on.

Until now I've somehow managed to avoid basically all of Robert De Niro's work, I mean the work that made him the legendary actor he is today. Now I'm a bit more educated on the field, and after I'll see Goodfellas in October and somehow magically find the will to watch Taxi Driver, I can maybe agree that he is one hell of an actor, without feeling like a fraud. I mean, sure, I can tell that he's pretty good just by his 30-second appearance in Extras. Haha. Okay, okay, I'll see Taxi Driver. (One of these days.)

Meryl Streep, then! She could do a cat food commercial, and I'd still find her splendid. I just love that woman! And who wouldn't. Though, I'm still yet to see about a million of her earlier films, it's a travesty, really! A change will come, this I hereby promise.

For me, the star of the film was Christopher Walken. (I'm starting to feel more and more inadequate and stupid, but I have to admit I hadn't previously seen Walken in anything as a young man; I knew only the old Walken, and had no idea he was once so good-looking. Wasn't he? I mean, not tradionally, but in that odd, hard-to-put-your-finger-on-it kind of way. Right? He looked a bit like Barry Pepper, didn't he?) He is chillingly good, and I wasn't surprised to afterwards notice that it was indeed he who got the Oscar out of it. (I was sure at least one of the three did.) The way he acted the dramatic and tragic development of his character was just... wow. At times I so would've felt like hugging he poor guy, if only he hadn't looked so freaking creepy. And yet, you have to symphatise him, because you know it's not his fault, it's the effing war that messes him up. (That had to be pointed out just to justify using that 'witty' title. Eh... Sorry.)

Okay. Fail. This post ended up sounding much too cheerful. I don't really feel this cheerful. Seriously, now, The Deer Hunter was pretty terrific; it affected me a lot, I became very engaged to the story and began to care about the characters very early on. Watching a film has rarely felt so tormenting as it did during some of the scenes - I think you know which ones I mean. I actually hid behind my hands a couple of times and shut my ears, and I'm pretty sure my pulse was close to reaching 200 at some point. Now that I think about it, The Deer Hunter might just be the best war film I've ever seen. (Maybe because it actually isn't about war? Haha. Anyway. It still counts!)

"You wanna play games? All right, I'll play your fucking games."

Apr 21, 2011


My dearest darling James turns 32 today, so I gladly take this excuse to post some lovely, lovely pictures. After looking through all those photos (when trying to choose a few for the post (took me long enough)), do you know how badly I want to watch Atonement now, on the scale from one to ten? About seventeen, I'd say... Shame that I have a date with The Deer Hunter. Bugger! This might turn out to be unnecessarily difficult...

Anyway, congrats to James, and I do my best to forgive you for not inviting me to your birthday party. Sigh! Here I was thinking our meeting two years ago meant as much to you as it did to me! (Still, love you, man.)

Apr 20, 2011

Yo ho, a pirate's life for me (again)

You know it hasn't been long enough since your last viewing of a film, when you all the time feel like reciting the characters' lines with them as they speak, and you know to look forward to every single witty/cheesy one-liner and funny gesture. You also know that if that's the case, you've probably seen the film one (or two or three) too many times. In addition, since you still laugh at pretty much every single one of those witty/cheesy one-liners and funny gestures, you know there's a reason why you once again decided to spend numerous precious hours of your day following the same old story all over again. Finally, when you watch the said film for the hundredth time and find yourself noticing new things and understanding some gags you never did before, you know that either a) the movie is amazingly profound and multi-layered, or b) you're just a bit slow. (In this particular case, I'd put my money with option b.)

So, in other words... It was time to refresh some memories and dive into some sweet nostalgia, as yesterday me and a friend held another movie marathon. I know what you're probably thinking; The Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy is a much too recent thing to feel nostalgic about. Oh well. I sometimes feel nostalgic about yesterday or for what happened at breakfast that day. So this is like ancient history for me, if you know what I mean. The third film came out 2007, and that's like WAY back. I mean, I was under-aged back then! ... Or was I? Hold on. Oh, I don't know, that's way too much mathematics for a humanist. (You can blame everything on that, you know? It's quite wonderful, really.)

EDIT // After much contemplating, I came to the conclusion that I was indeed NOT under-aged in 2007. Still, it was a pretty long time ago, so indulge me and grand be my nostalgia, if you please.

Seems like I still wasn't quite able to reach the point. PotC movies were a huge thing for me back in the dark Middle Ages (also knows as some four to eight years ago). I don't know if I've ever left a cinema so utterly delighted as I did after the first film. Later on, I've been expecting myself to outgrow the whole pirate thing, but all I have to do is pop on a DVD and it's clear that the charm is still there, and probably not going anywhere anytime soon.

The movies' charm lies in the adventure, in the fun and engaging characters, the humour and the lack of seriousness. Even if it gets a bit darker once in a while, the Disney behind it all ensures that the gloom won't last too long. I mean, no one really believed that Jack actually died in the end of DMC, because that would've been way too harsh, and basically the stupidest thing one could imagine to be doing to a character like that at that point. So we once again have to thank Disney for bringing us guaranteed happy endings, time after time, allowing us to enter and exit cinemas with gleeful smiles on our faces and a spring in our step! (Okay, I'm determinedly aborting the surge of Disney praise, before I get really going and it's too late to stop me.)

The general opinion basically is that the first film is good (it's on IMDb's Top 250, after all!), and the sequels are bad (though now that I checked, they aren't too poorly rated on IMDb, either). And yes, admittingly, CotBP definitely has the most coherent storyline, and it doesn't resort to ridiculous over-the-top absurdities as often as the sequels. (It's tough, you know? Having to try and top the grandness and inventiveness of the previous action scenes and storylines, because generally everyone believes it's better only if it's bigger. That's when the multiple Jacks and twenty-minute wheel-mill fights and overgrown roaring ladies step in... Anyway.)

As confusing as the sequels might occasionally be (like yesterday, during AWE, we were distracted for about ten minutes, talking about something else, and when returning our attention to the film, we felt completely lost, despite the numerous rewatches before. I mean... "How did she end up in there? Where is he at the moment? Whose side is he on right now? What's his hidden agenda this time, or does he have one?" It's quite puzzling, and not necessarily in a good way...), I still find myself enjoying them over and over again. At least the constant coat-turning and switching of sides keeps the characters somewhat interesting and unpredictable.

Captain Jack Sparrow is one of the greatest and most legendary characters created in the 00's, and that's pretty much all I need to say about that. I'm pretty sure old Johnny sealed his place in movie history the day he first pulled the costume and the eyeliner on and took his first staggering step as the wonderfully eccentric, ridiculously charming, geniously witty and thoroughly lovable pirate captain. Bless him.

In this particular rewatch my favourite character number two ended up being Tom Hollander's amazingly slimy and placidly douchebag-ish Lord Beckett, the vilain of the sequels (or one of them). The character is not one of those utterly horrible vilains, who you just love to hate. Though he can be pretty disgusting at times, in some twisted way I always end up feeling sorry for him. Maybe it's his death scene and that puzzled, beaten, totally dumnfounded look on his poor little face. Or maybe I feel for the actor for always having to play the slimy douchebag? Not that I'm complaining and nor should he; he does it ruddy well.

Other favourite is of course Geoffrey Rush and his varyingly evil Barbossa. I'm so much looking forward to seeing the character again soon, in slightly different circles... Also Jack Davenport's James 'Turncoat' Norrington always wins my sympathies in the end. Tia Dalma was cool before the third film watered down the whole character. Bill Nighy plays the infamous Davy Jones outstandingly behind all those (freaking impressively done) CGI tentacles.

And yeah yeah, of course I have to say something about the young and beutiful pair of super movie stars. Because yes, I like them, too. Orlando maybe looks confused more often than he should but he does action (and kissing!) very well. And Keira... What can I say, I like Keira. She does well in holding her head high among all those scruffy, grumpy men. And that speech of hers in AWE always guarantees some goosebumps, at least for me.

The marathon was a piece of cake really, or at least should've been. We were done in about seven and a half hours, and that should be nothing compared to the previous Star Wars and LotR Extended Edition marathons I've sat through. However, I was dangerously close to falling a sleep somewhere in the middle of Dead Man's Chest, and that's just not right. Am I getting old or what? (Well, clearly... It can be proved by the fact that Curse of the Black Pearl came out 2003, which is now eight years ago. Holy.......)

Anyway. The fourth instalment will reach the cinemas in just a few weeks, and I don't know about the rest of you, but I am more than excited about the comeback of Captain Jack and company (mostly just Jack, though). Bring it on, I'm so very ready.

Finally... Because the PotC films have some of the most hilarious blooper reels ever. Here we go, one more time. You know it never gets old.

Apr 14, 2011

What else I saw in March

Despicable Me (2010)

Another non-Disney/Pixar animation that managed to positively surprise me! Gru is a high-class villan, who's next trying to out-evil himself by stealing the Moon, when three little orphan girls show up to mess with his master plan. Gru with his Eastern-Europian-ish accent is undeniably funny, the girls just melt your heart in a snap, and the little yellow creatures... em, what are the little yellow creatures exactly...? Anyway. The movie is silly, funny, witty and surprisingly heart-warming too, when it comes to it. Oh, how I love animations. If I had to watch movies of only one genre for the rest of my life, I'd go with animations.

Midnight Express (1978)

Loosely based on a true story, Midnight Express tells about a young American, who ends up in prison in Turkey, after trying to smuggle drugs out of the country. The film follows his life in this alien and harsh place, bonding with some other inmates, as his family does all in their power to get him out, soon realizing it might be trickier than expected. An interesting and different watch. The moral of the story is obvious: never try to smuggle drugs out of Turkey. I won't end well...
Mean Girls 2 (2011)

Yeah, I know. I'm a horrible excuse for a human being. The original Mean Girls with Lindsey Lohan, Rachel McAdams and Amanda Seyfried is kind of one of my guilty pleasures, so of course I had to check out this one, too, though I knew it would be lousy. They could've even tried to come up with a different plot, but everything was a poor imitation of the original movie, all the way to the 'personalities' of the Plastics: the queen bee, the dumb one and the neurotic one. Suddenly I realize I miss Lindsey Lohan! And that's saying something.
Buried (2010)

The idea in its simplicity is fascinating: Ryan Reanolds in a box for an hour and a half. But even though I was fairly entertained the whole time, in the end it failed to impress me. It was interesting to follow the resolving of the story in a constant close-up, but maybe it was the ending that pulled the rug under the feet of the whole idea. And as a budding claustrophobic I was expecting more anxiety and minor hyperventilation on my side, which didn't really happen at any point. Still, and alright film. Might've worked better in a cinema.

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (2010)

What an odd movie. Not necessarily in a bad way, and definitely not in the David Lynch kind of way (fortunately (sorry, y'all)). In summary, it's about Scott meeting an awesome girl, but to get her he has to fight her seven evil exes, and more importantly, beat them. It's kind of funny how it begins as a somewhat normal movie and then suddenly some kung fu dude shows up and him and Scott fight for a while and afterwards they are like, "Well, that was weird. Now let's have a milkshake and go to the band rehearsal." I enjoyed the video game-ish-ness of it all, and even if it maybe wasn't the best movie of the year, it sure was quite original. With the thunderous music and the striking visuals this definitely should've been seen on big screen.

Roman Holiday (1953)

Let me introduce you to one of my embarrassingly numerous grey areas of cinma: the work of Audrey Hepburn. I'd previously only seen Breakfast at Tiffany's (some years ago, found it deadly boring), so I found it a bit hard to appreciate this actress, never mind that she's probably one of the most loved and adored movie stars of all time. Roman Holiday began her journey towards that status, and yes, I can see why. Gregory Peck is also very lovable. And a hundred extra points for that ending! Refreshing, if I might say so.
The Cove (2009)

Another great documentary I saw last month. It caused some more tears and anxiety about the cruelty and brutality of man - and frustration about the helplessness of myself. Again, you want to do something, but you don't know what or how. Making a difference it's just so damn hard in the end, and requires so much more than the nice and idealistic (and naive?) thought: "That's wrong. Someone should do something about that." Anyway, the documentary is very well made, and I will never ever again enjoy the dolphinarium of Särkänniemi, that's for sure...

Apr 7, 2011

Funny or Die: When Harry Met Sally 2

Hahahaha. Okay. I laughed. (Mike O'Malley! Whoo! Go Daddy Hummel!)

"I'll have what she's- aaaaargh!"

Apr 6, 2011

Charlie's got something to say

Yesterday I saw Night and Fog and finally rewatched Schindler's List (I swear watching that film didn't hurt so damn much last time... I'm getting old and wimpy), so I thought I'd continue with the same theme today, only the tone would be slightly lighter. Because there's a line in how much my poor heart can take at a time. During this past year or so I've seen pretty much every Charlie Chaplin classic, but somehow I kept postponing watching The Great Dictator. Maybe I was afraid that hearing the Tramp talk (although, yeah, he's not officially The Tramp, even if the costume is the same) would break the magic and ruin the character for me.

But sure, it didn't. Admittedly, it WAS weird. Most times the film didn't feel like the old school Chaplin I so much love, but that wasn't the point. In a way, The Great Dictator is the most important film Chaplin ever made. I know I'm not the only one who'd give a lot to see what Hitler's face looked like when he saw this. (Reportedly, he watched it twice in a row...)

The little Jewish Barber doesn't talk much (which is good. Charlie has a very nice and pleasant voice, but he does best without it) until the very end, when he steps up to give the famous speech. The moment he starts speaking his voice changes and so does his presence, and we are to understand that the character has been dropped; now we see only Chaplin, reminding people everywhere of the importance of humanity. Still today, there are certainly a sadly large number of people idiots walking around, who should stop to listen what old Charlie has got to say and take the message to the heart (if they happen to have one).

"We think too much and feel too little. More than machinery, we need humanity. More than cleverness, we need kindness and gentleness. Without these qualities, life will be violent and all will be lost."

Preach, Charles. You said it.

Apr 5, 2011

Nuit et brouillard (1955) - night and fog, nacht und nebel

directed by Alain Resnais

'The title refers to a strategy instigated by Himmler in December 1941 that helped propagate the fear of the Third Reich. Anyone caught resisting the Nazi occupiers would be arrested and then immediately whisked off to the camps in such a way that they would vanish without a trace, "into the night and fog".' (IMDb)

We've all seen more films and documentaries about Holocaust than we can remember. It makes an effective and emotionally charged setting for fictional stories, and the documentaries always manage to shock you as the thought of such inhumane monstrosity makes you feel so utterly sad and disarmed. You'd think that at some point people would just become numb and start grow indifferent as the endless stream of those initially shocking images began to loose their power and true meaning (the same way we get numbed by media violence and horror movies etc). And I guess that's true to some extent, but some images in Night and Fog managed shock me, I dare say, in a way nothing Holocaust-related has ever shocked me before. (Well, I guess there is still one image more shocking... It was irreversibly etched in the back of my head some years ago and I don't even wish to discuss it.)

Many things make Night and Fog the intense experience as it is. Its running time is only 30 minutes, and I more or less wept the whole thing through. It rabidly and bluntly introduces us to the senseless horror that made 'Auschwitz' one of the most notoriously regocnizable and meaningful names in history. A voiceover provides us with some facts and also helps set up the atmosphere, but, like in most cases, showing is much more powerful than telling. Never before I remember seeing images of such piles of human beings, or what used to be human beings, but have now diminished into something that only remotely resembles what they once were. It's nightmare-ish, really, and won't leave you anytime soon. And it shouldn't.

What adds to the special nature of the film is, of course, that it was made and published so soon after the actual events. It was one of the first films to openly discuss Holocaust. It's weird and a bit haunting to think that when the film came out, so many of the concentration camp survivors were still alive, the nightmare still fresh in their minds. What is more, so were the German soldiers, 'the Machine', all the individuals that made it all happen.

Night and Fog is the second highest rated documentary on IMDb (the highest rated is a 2010 documentary about a Formula One driver. Er, random?) and the placing is deserved. The film also sparked my interest towards other work of the director Alain Resnais. I wish soon to see Hiroshima mon amour, to begin with... But first, today, I think I'll finally rewatch Schindler's List. It's been sitting on my shelf, gathering dust, long enough.

(I'll next go out to the beautiful early-spring sunshine and walk to gym, to my Zumba lesson... I guess jumping around hyperactively will feel somewhat weird today... And mostly just stupid.)

(It did.)

"Who is responsible?"

Apr 4, 2011

Katniss gets her men! And here they are!

They've cast Peeta! And they cast him well! And most importantly, they didn't cast Alex Pettyfer! I think I can breath freely for a moment now.

Oh and they cast Gale too.

Josh Hutcherson aka Peeta

Out of all the characters of Hunger Games, I was definitely most concerned about the casting of Peeta. Sure, I had some serious fears that they might choose Effie from Skins to play Katniss, but Peeta was always my number one source of worry. But lo and behold, there is still some sense in the world! Josh Hutcherson it is! He's best known for his role in The Kids Are All Right (and so far, I guess that's the only role he's known for...) and I'm so relieved to say that I liked him in that movie! I guess he acted the role quite well, but more importantly, he has a likable personality! I can totally see myself falling for his Peeta, just like I fell for the Peeta of the book. Good news, good news. My evening was just saved. Hurray!

Liam Hemsworth aka Miley's old flame Gale

Oh and they cast Miley Cyrus's ex-boyfried as Gale. I'm sorry, but that's all I can associate Liam Hemsworth with. I mean, you google the guy and all you get is photos of him making out with little Miley. This makes me want to cruelly bash his acting skills in the same breath, but unfortunately I have no evidence to base this argument on. Anyone know if he can actually act at all? I'm a bit undetermined about this choice, but I'm just going to go with this, because Gale never mattered as much as Peeta. And I think they got Peeta quite right.

Next, I'll trouble myself with the casting of Haymitch... I won't announce my hopes out loud, because then they won't come true. Okay, they won't anyway. But anyway. These are exciting times we're living.

EDIT // Haha, so now I'm amusing myself with reading people's whining. They're talking about 'miscasts', but I don't honestly think you can talk about that before actually seeing the actor in action, or least in costume. Hell, I might have even given Alex Pettyfer a chance! (...Maybe not, but anyway.) Just, come ON, people. Chill.

Apr 2, 2011

Exit Through the Gift Shop (2010) - a documentary about how not to make a documentary about street art

directed by Banksy

Thierry Guatta is a Frenchman living in Los Angleles, a shop keeper, who never goes anywhere without his video camera. He then becomes involved in street art, and gets to film some artists in their work, saying he is making a documentary about the subject. In reality, he has no intention of turning the hours and hours and hours of shaky, incoherent material into an actual film, or, in fact, ever to even watch again what he's been filming.

When Banksy, maybe the best-know street artist in the world right now, enters the picture, he convinces Thierry to finally make the film. However, seeing the outcome, Banksy realises he has to make the documentary his own business. ("It was at that point that I realized that maybe Thierry wasn't actually a film maker, and he was maybe just someone with mental problems who happened to have a camera.") He turns the camera to Thierry instead and makes him the film's central character.

I'm a fan of Banksy's art. And that's saying something, because I can't say that about any other artist in the world. I love the more or less subtle comments he makes about the world, the stupidity of people, the society, etc. I love his imagination. I love that what he does is not 100 % legal. I love that he keeps his identity a secret. He's such a cool, rebellious and inspiring character! So I was very much looking forward to seeing the film, and even though it wasn't as much about Banksy himself as it was about Thierry, I found it entertaining and funny and clever and interesting.

Thierry is kind of a ridiculous personality. You don't really know what to make of him, because with the silly accent and the curious and care-free naivety, it's hard to take him seriously. And yet, you can't but like him. Some say the whole film is a hoax and Thierry is just a fake character created by Banksy. In any case, he's fun to look at, so I don't bother myself with conspiracy theories.

I have to say I didn't get everything it had to offer out of the film, because the fact that my DVD has no subtitles didn't work very well with crunchy, loud snacks and Banksy's heavy Bristol accent (oh and that his voice had been altered didn't help too much, either). But I got the point. Or did I? If there was one specific message, it didn't come across loud and clear. And that's just good, isn't it? For one, the film ridicules the commercialism that has struck street art in the recent years. Come see an exhibition... and exit through the gift shop. Another thing is, quite bluntly... what is art? Can anyone be an artist? Could I be one? (I could certainly conquer the world with the best (and only) thing I can do with a pencil: stick figures. Just wait and see, one day people will pay millions.)

Anyway, Exit Through the Gift Shop is highly recommended! It's difficult to describe and difficult to write about, but not at all difficult to like.

"I used to encourage everyone I knew to make art. I don't do that so much anymore."


Click below for a massive surge of Banksy's art. Because.