Monday, February 22, 2010

Now Playing: Crazy Heart

I saw this movie last week and have only just gotten a chance to sit down and review it.

Crazy Heart is pretty predictable. In nutshell: old codger on the brink of self-destruction must find a way to redeem himself before he fades into complete obscurity; enter woman. It reminded me of The Wrestler in many ways, complete with fantastic performances by leading man and supporting actress. I was also pretty surprised to see Colin Farrell and Robert Duvall put in time here too… and they were pretty good. The other compelling thing about the movie is the soundtrack and Jeff Bridges singing - who knew he was that good?

In the end, a nice movie, nothing more, nothing less: 3 out of 5 stars.

PS: cool poster!

You know what movies like this are really good for? Taking away sound bites. Getting the dish over spaghetti afterwards, I am astounded to see otherwise clever, witty, intelligent women get sapped of their energy by not-so-clever/witty/intelligent women. So, we come away with this: one day at a time.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Now Playing: The Lightning Thief

Based on a set of books I haven't read but that have been highly recommended to me, The Lightning Thief (or, its proper title, Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief) had me at Sean Bean. And the it threw in Uma Thurman and Joe Pantoliano for good measure.

Movie was good - it wasn't super-fantastic, but it was solid. Scripting was especially good - realistic dialogue and reaction. (That pen exchange made me laugh out loud - @ 1:55). Lots of unanswered questions, but that's to be expected from a franchise that can go five movies. Special effects were pretty good, as expected from Chris Columbus. In fact, the flying scenes were quite reminiscent of the HP quidditch scenes (and nothing like the Muggle version).

Would I recommend watching it? It depends: if you're a fan of the books, have kids in tow or like fantasy movies, then yes. If not, I say you save it for a rental. 3 out of 5 stars.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Now Playing: The Lovely Bones

It’s almost always a bad idea to watch a movie right after you’ve finished reading the book. I mean, you’re more than likely going to be tainted by trailers while reading already; imagine, then, the impact of watching a movie that has been thoroughly spoiled. Inevitably, I spend the half hour post-movie talking about all the stuff that’s missing/changed/added, which really detracts from the movie in and of itself. Clearly, there’s a philosophical divide: to read or not to read, that is the question. Is it truer to the movie experience to forgo the book or should we doing so in order to understand the source material? In the end, something has to be sacrificed.

Just so you know, I come down on the side of the book... when I can. Thus, I put off watching The Lovely Bones, until I finished Alice Sebold’s novel. Given the amount of materials that had to be edited out and the plot changes needed to accommodate a movie format, it was very much like a movie inspired by, and not based on, the book. So, in fairness to the movie, I’m going to skip all the comparators and bite into the movie alone.

Casting: I thought it was as close to brilliant as we could get. Wahlberg as Jack Salmon may have been a bit dicey, but he pulled it off in the end; Weiss as Abigail was perfect, Tucci as George Harvey was inspired (is this really the same man I just watched in Julie & Julia?)... but it was Saoirse Ronan that simply captivated. I mean, I have always thought she was a scene-stealer; this time, she was a show-stopper. Oh, and let's not forget the jewel that is Susan Sarandon, though I felt like she was playing herself more than acting. Really, no complaints in the acting department.

I did feel like there were some plot holes that went unexplained... like, why the police couldn't track down George Harvey fast enough? What happens to Ruthie Connors? What's with the icicles? Why does Susie decide to leave? I know there's like 120 minutes in an average movie, but sometimes I wish they'd take some care to elaborate. What saved the entire thing from sinking were the details in the set and costume design - I loved that bits of Susie's real world and Susie's heaven echo each other (crashing ships, penguin hedges, silly hats).

All in all, a lovely movie. 3.5 out of 5 stars.

Sunday, February 07, 2010


Sometimes I feel like I'm being punished. Like when I go to a party and yet another new mom is showing me pictures of her impossibly average-looking kid and I have to coo about how adorable they are. Let's face it - most babies look the same; only a few are stand-out gerber-cute. I have decided, to combat this, I'm going to carry around pictures of my vacabies (that's trademarked). For every baby-in-bath picture I have to "aww" over, I'm pulling out the pictures of my cute little growler icebergs. Toddler-in-cowboy-hat? Rockies-with-cowboy boots. Baby's-first-whatever? My-first-caught-lobster. I'm done with congratulating people on successfully performing basic animal functions.

And, you know, I like babies. I think they're pretty amusing. I had one toddle up to me in the elevator just this morning and kiss my purse. We shared a moment of mutual accessory appreciation. It's not the babies, it's the parents. I just wish that parents would get a grip on themselves. Very few mommies (and I'm happy to report that I know one or two) are cognisant of the fact that we're friends with each other and that I'm not necessarily friends with their babies. Especially when they're still potentially spitting up on my cashmere or yanking on my delicate jewellery.

So, the next time someone asks me to catch them up on my life and they ask the inevitable "Married? Kids?" I'm going to answer truthfully and say "No, happily. Would you like to see pictures of my vacabies?"

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

The Lovely Bones By Alice Sebold

It's not much a secret that I'm a big sap when it comes to sad movies and sad books. I will cry. In public. (I think this makes up for otherwise evil, apathetic soul - it's all about balance, you know?) So, given the subject matter (girl dies at hands of horrible sociopath, spends afterlife watching her loved ones cope), it comes as no surprise that I was a complete wreck while reading Alice Sebold's The Lovely Bones. So much so, that I stopped carrying it around with me, as It only lead to me swallowing tears and blaming red eyes on allergies. Embarrassing really.

Enough about me.

Can I just say that I thought this book is simply beautiful. The descriptions and dialogue are marvellous. And Sebold's imagining of the afterlife is just… spot-on. It could have been so schmaltzy, with the perfect Heaven and the following of loved ones, yadda yadda. Amazingly, it isn't. The perfect Heaven isn't perfect and (paradoxically), that's what makes it perfect. 14-year-old Susie Salmon seems to be written with the perfect blend of first-person candour and third-person omniscience. Just as she gets to know everything there is to know about life, something small will happen (a dance, perhaps) that brings us back to the girl whose life ends far too abruptly. And really, that's where the beauty comes in: this book is peppered with some of the most heart-wrenching vignettes I've read in print (making ships in a bottle, a screaming match between teenager and mother, building a fort in the backyard).

Aside from the almost poetic reading of the novel, comes the fact of how close to home this all hits. I think anyone who lived through the trials of Bernardo and Homolka would have a hard time not imagining Kristen and Leslie in a situation just like this, or maybe, even, as one of girls in a bloody dress. Read it. Read it. Read it. I can't begin to tell you how good this book really is.