Monday, February 27, 2012

84th annual Oscars

Having just squeaked in the ninth film on the Best Picture list, I will say poppets, I dropped the ball.  I normally would have shared my predictions with you prior to the red carpet, but alas; Sunday snuck up on and and I just had so much to do.  I had printed out a ballot for all of us to fill in, and we even put our five bucks into the kitty.  I did not fare well, overall, only getting twelve categories right.  I did not anticipate the love-fest for Hugo in the technical department, who walked away with five statues, tying with The Artist, which I thought was a much more... creative film.  I did bat 1.000 on the Big Six, correctly predicting Best Picture, Director, Actor, Actress, Supporting Actor and Supporting Actress.  I was also very happy to see that Tree of Life was shunned.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Now Playing: Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close

The final entry on the 2012 Oscars list: Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close.  Starring a multitude of famous people, this a story centered around a boy named Oscar trying to cope with the loss of his father during 9/11. While the acting etc. was passable, I actually found the story the most compelling part of this movie.  Because I don't want to spoil it for you poppets, this will (by necessity) be a short review.  I just want to say that the unfolding of the six messages is probably some of the best tension you'll find in the top nine this year and the "reveal" at the end involving two of the main characters demonstrates quality plot development.  This is definitely the movie that surprised me most, in the best possible way: 3.5 out of 5 stars.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

For Rent: 2012 Oscars

Normally, I don't do DVD movie reviews (I'd have to do this full-time if I did that) but since I watched so many Oscar nominees on video this year, I thought, what the heck.  So, here are my short thoughts.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Now Playing: War Horse / The Artist

Catching up quickly on the top nine, yesterday we went to see two more Oscar noms.

War Horse: okay, I'll admit that I didn't take this nomination very seriously.  I mean, a horse movie?  Best pic?  Come on.  But I put prejudice aside and settled in for the longest film on the list.  This is a movie about a boy who falls in love with a horse that isn't his, which fate conspires to become his and which a war takes from him.  The horse, Finders Key, is actually an amazingly trained animal, with many scenes relying on just him to carry it through; I would have never thought I'd be so moved by an animal, and yet...

The plot itself is quite epic, spanning many fronts of WWI, with the horse changing hands from English to German to French back to German and back again to English.  And while the horse-and-boy story is compelling, it's the side stories of Emilie and Gunther and Peter that really stick out. 

Well-acted, -directed and -paced, I can't find too many faults with this family-friendly drama.  It was a bit long and, paradoxically, I found it didn't spend enough time on certain vignettes (Gunther, especially).  And, relative to its running mates, War Horse is a good solid entry in the Best Picture category. 3.5 out of 5 stars.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Now Playing: The Descendants / Chronicle

I am not doing very well in my pursuit to watch all nine nominations…

We were supposed to see War Horse and The Artist; then I chickened out due to impending snow and we went closer to home instead catching The Descendants and Chronicle.

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Now Playing: Underworld: Awakening

I cheated. I’m supposed to be catching up on my Oscar contenders after weeks of neglect and what do I find myself watching on Tuesday? Underworld: Awakening. Good thing no one pays me to do this here “weblog”. (You know what’s funny? Spell-check underlined “weblog” but ignores “blog”.  Hmm.)

Monday, February 06, 2012

Now Playing: Hugo

Now that I’m mobile, the Oscar list needs to be whittled down.  Anything that can be watched on DVD has been, so I’m moving back to the theatre.  On Sunday evening, I took in the 3D version of Hugo, based on the fabulous kid’s book The Invention of Hugo Cabret.  Directed by the venerable Martin Scorcese and starring Ben Kingsley, Sacha Baron Cohen and the wonderful Asa Butterfield (whom I loved in The Boy in Striped Pyjamas). 

Sunday, February 05, 2012

baking bread

Assignment #5: food

My apartment, last night: suburban lights twinkling outside, uninterrupted by skyscraper, ambient music in the background (“oh this uncertainty is taking me over”), countertop strewn with flour, oven preheating to four hundred.  In my life, there are few outlets for creative control.  There is writing, but she is a harsh, cruel, and fickle mistress.  My hands cannot play an instrument or draw a still-life or knit a scarf.  No, my hands can do only one thing: bake. 

Saturday, February 04, 2012


Assignment #4: overheard at a bar

Thursday night is my quiet night. After work, I walk over to the local pub, sit at the bar and read my book. Two amaretto sours, fifty pages or so, and I head home. Thursdays are sometimes local band nights; mostly, though, it’s quiet. The bartender and I are on a first name basis. Alex usually has my low-ball poured by the time I sit down.

One night, on a particularly warm February night with dry sidewalks and a quiet wind, I walked in to find the place crowded. Clearly the natives were restless and had come out to play. I actually had to manoeuvre my way to the bar. Alex removes an empty beer case from the stool furthest from the stage, giving me a wink. He’s a good man, that Alex.

Friday, February 03, 2012


Assignment #3: birthday

I am an only child.  Sure I have a sibling, but in my brain, I'm still an only child.  I can amuse myself for hours, do not like to share my toys and am most happy when it's quiet.  When my mother revealed that she was pregnant and that I was going to be a sister,  I said I did not want to be a sister.  She said I was going to be one anyway.  I was unamused.  When LilBro came home, I asked how long he was going to stay.  Mom said forever and I cried.  It wasn't a great beginning.  The months that followed were not good for me.  I was only five and couldn't quite grapple with the intense envy I felt for the new baby.  I mean, I had gone from being someone to being someone else's older sister.  I began having nightmares and wetting the bed.  I lost so much "baby fat" that my school uniform had to be resized twice.  I would hide under the dining table and blithely turn a deaf ear to being called.  My hair began falling out, darkened noticeably, lost all its curl.  There are no cute pictures of me holding a baby.  As an adult, anyone would say I was sinking into depression; as a child, everyone just waited for me to grow out of it.  Perhaps it was guilt that prompted the most lavish birthday that followed.

Thursday, February 02, 2012


Assignment #2: music

When I was seventeen, I ordered a set of classical music CDs from Columbia House.  Upon receipt of them, I was immediately drawn to Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata (which I prefer in D minor).  I played it on loop, wrote reams of (bad) poetry, read his encyclopaedia entry.  Fifteen minutes was too short.  I visited my local library and borrowed all his CDs; I sat cross-legged in front of my floor to ceiling window, watching the crab-apple trees outside blossom white and pink, crescendoes crashing in my ears.

I fell in love.  Hard.

For a good month, all I did was listen to Ludwig.  I felt his pain, his torture.  I felt his frustration and rage.  I felt his quiet sorrow.  I even related to  his pithy attempts at feverish jocularity (which always felt stilted and awkward).  This man was made for teen angst.

It is no great secret, then, that whenever I hear the Sonata (standing in my lobby, on hold with a certain cable company) I am immediately transported back to the windy Spring days of 1998.  I connect that melody with the beautiful tragedy of the asymptote, which is ever-diminishing even as it carries on to infinity.  I think of university applications and awkward (unsent) infatuation letters.  Mostly, though, I remember the thick sadness that coated my movements, a sadness that (after a while) became addictive.

I hadn’t heard the sonata in its entirety for many years.  Until today.  Its power has not waned.  I know that I can only give it a few hours before I must stop listening.  Its dark thrall is as enticing and as seductive as it ever was.  It would be too easy to wallow, to drink deep of his melancholy.

Wednesday, February 01, 2012


Assignment #1: internal monologue

How much of ourselves do we really reveal to those around us?  Even those to whom we're close?  Can anyone really know what we're thinking?  Humans seem to be such empathetic creatures, expressing sadness for others, feeling vicarious joy.  Sometimes, though, I wonder if indeed that's true empathy or just a reflection of our own experiences as we project our feelings on to others.  I mean, whenever I witness someone's pain (physical, emotional) my first instinct seems to be to measure how I would feel in that situation and judge whether that person is demonstrating the appropriate response.

I don't think we ever really think about the pain of others unless it directly relates to us.
I said it.