Thursday, May 30, 2013

one hand in my pocket

Part of my spring cleaning ritual is to go through all my clothes, no matter how often (or not) I wear them.  As I began piling coats/jackets for dry-cleaning, I emptied the pockets of each.  The contents are usually a very good indicator of the last time they were actually worn.  Also, this year, I’ve decided to replace my cheap pleather jackets (which make me unbearably sticky) with real leather.  This was an easy decision to make in a vacuum.  Actually holding my little black number, with its ruffled detail and pewter buttons, I vacillated.  I remember where I was when I bought it (Sainte-Catherine St W, with AnCe and Nish) and where I first wore it (Au Pied de Cochon).  As I emptied the pockets, I also remembered the sad occasion when I wore it last.

Here’s what I found:

Two American pennies:
1994: starting high school, this year was a formative one.  I had access to the best music and the easiest wardrobe choices; I made lifelong friends and nemeses; I discovered my sense of self under a great big Canadian flag in front of a bunch of strangers.
2006: debt-free, clear-eyed, newly-housed – this was the true beginning of the rest of my life.

Hair-Tie, in apple green.  Can never have enough of these, especially in apple green.

A poem, by Dylan Thomas:
Your breath was shed
Invisible to make
About the soiled undead
Night for my sake,

A raining trail
Intangible to them
With biter's tooth and tail
And cobweb drum,

A dark as deep
My love as a round wave
To hide the wolves of sleep
And mask the grave.

A receipt for $42.97 from The Flower Shop

Sometimes, it’s not worth hanging on to something for sentimentality only.  I don’t wear this jacket, ever.  In theory, it’s beautiful: totally my style and edgy-cool.  In reality: it makes me uncomfortable.  Into the donations bag it went, hopefully a memory-maker for someone who can stand the heat.  Me?  I’m moving on.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Now Playing: Furious Six

The sixth instalment in the Fast & Furious franchise.  That's right, SIX.  You know, back in 2001 when The Fast and the Furious came out, it was nothing more than a badly written car movie.  At best, it was wisecracking stunt driver's fantasy; at worst, a B movie.  When 2 Fast 2 Furious came out, sans Vin Diesel, one could only surmise that this franchise would be short-lived.  Tokyo Drift?  That didn't headline a single original actor.  The series had clearly, ahem, stalled.

Then, in 2009, Fast & Furious came out.  I was unimpressed, clearly.  Did they really think we could alter time-lines, bring back dead characters, inject some awesome stunts, and revive the franchise?  In short: would a chassis replacement change the engine performance?  Well, no.  But, in a spectacular feat of retconning, it did set up quite the story arc.  One that I couldn't appreciate until I ingested Fast Five.

So, here we are: Furious Six.  I will not deny that I was very much looking forward to watching this.  Having rewatched 4 and 5 (like, last night), I really enjoyed the almost seamless tying-in of the previous five movies.  Yes, all five.  Even lonely little Tokyo Drift.  Let's lay it out there: this is not a franchise that's built on a novel, graphic or otherwise.  Its canon is entirely on-screen.  The only other modern-day equivalent would be Pirates of the Caribbean.  This means that it has to make up for its choices (bad and otherwise) as it goes, knowing that the next movie may not get made.  So, the fact that it speaks to its predecessors, sets up the future, illuminates the past and does it while thoroughly entertaining the masses with fast cars, unbelievable stunts, and beautiful people?  Well.  This little franchise has gone way beyond where it started out.

F6 (ha! I just realised that ...) is another effects-laden, adrenaline-pumping, action flick.  Scores points for real stunts with minimal green-screening.  It reunites the "family", has some great twists (one of which I totally called), and, the best part, ties in all.  six.  movies.  what.  On its own, it would be an entertaining 3 stars; but for the sheer work it does to pull the franchise together and set up the (final?) instalment, I have to give it 4 out of 5 stars.

Starting now would be a waste of your time; watch all five first.

Also: I'm using Furious 6, instead of the "official" title of Fast & Furious 6 in deference to Justin Lin, the director and possibly the only reason this entire thing isn't just a dim memory.  Over to you, James Wan; do us proud, grasshopper.

Edit: in my haste to get this post up, I forgot to mention that this movie has one of the best fight scenes I've witnessed on film, between Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) and Riley (Gina Carano) - holy hot damn, those ladies sure did bring it.  I have no idea where the actresses ended and the stunt doubles began, but it really didn't matter.  It was right up there with Bourne or the latest Batman: brutal, realistic, and supremely well-executed.  Need moar.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Now Playing: Star Trek: Into Darkness

Star Trek is one of the few reboots of a franchise that is both well-timed and well-done. After watching Star Trek (in 2009!), I was pretty stoked to see the material treated with both reverence and imagination. It’s too bad we waited so long for the second instalment. In the meantime, I watched all the original series movies (yes, they are as campy as you remember them).

When Star Trek: Into Darkness was announced, there was much speculation about the bad guy. It’s no stretch that Wrath of Khan is probably the best of the original movies and it has been such a pervasive part of our pop culture, I really had no idea how they would modernise it without losing …something. Benedict Cumberpatch was announced as the villain John Harrison, an ex-Federation officer gone rogue and so we all accepted that, yes, this is a new cast with a new time-line and new stories. Let us let Khan rest.

Difficult to talk about STID without talking spoilers. Truly. So I’ll try my best to avoid plot points.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

spring cleaning

Since I was chained to my desk today, waiting on phone calls and such, I was able to clean up around my (temporary) office. Here’s something I didn’t share with you, poppets, and I hope you’ll understand why.

For the past few months (since January), I’ve been an acting Area Manager. What’s an Area Manager? Good question. For us, it’s the position between our front-line managers and the Director. It’s the equivalent of a vice-president or deputy director. It’s been an eye-opening experience, and I’ve really enjoyed learning to view everything through a very wide system lens. It’s also been a humbling experience that has taught me just how little power those in this position wield. Honestly, I consider myself an ambitious person; so, I’m a bit surprised at myself wanting to get back to being with front-line staff. I think I miss having an immediate team, attaining goals and ticking off projects, chatting with the coffee klatch. Or, maybe it’s the fact that this is an acting gig, where I’m constantly trying to figure out if I should take on a project or not (Will I be able to finish in time? What are my parameters? Should I make a decision that someone else will have to live with?).

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Now Playing: The Great Gatsby

I haven’t read F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel since, well, high school. That was, like, a millennia ago. I do remember devouring it and wanting more (I ended up buying and reading his collected works). This is also one of maybe five books that LilBro has read to the end and enjoyed – so there’s some cross-demographic appeal there. Upon hearing that Baz Luhrmann would be putting his unique spin on The Great Gatsby, I was a little more than intrigued.

It is everything you would expect from a Luhrmann flick: pomp, glitter, drama, and messed-up relationships. These are the same things you get from the novel. What is missing, however, is the tense and eloquent prose which allows us to see the characters without the characters being able to see themselves. There’s a little bit of it via words floating across the screen, but it’s just not the same. What it lacks in scripting it makes up for in scenery and setting. The slight whine of the green light at the end of Daisy’s dock, the JG crest imprinted on every surface of Gatsby’s grotesque mansion, the shiny yellow motorcar, the costumery (oh, the costumery!)… all very evocative.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Now Playing: Iron Man 3

This review is very late in being posted – I watched Iron Man 3 over a week ago and just haven’t had a chance to put thoughts to keyboard. (It’s been a very busy few months for me, poppets, and I am sorry to see that our time together suffers because of it).

Anyway – a return to the world of RDJ's Tony Stark. My first reaction was “meh” – seriously. Perhaps it was because I had just watched Avengers again, a movie that was pretty amazing for its cast, plot, script, and effects. Maybe it’s because the first and second installments were so good, that this one felt a bit.. I don’t know, flat.

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Now Playing: Oblivion

Yet another Tom Cruise flick that’s well done, if a tad predictable, Oblivion’s main strength has actually nothing to do with its stellar cast. It is, simply put, a striking film. At first, I didn’t get it. It was just more green-screen wizardry with high-tech future toys and impossibly impeccable landscapes… right?


I have since learned that director Joseph Kosinski actually built real things. And shot real clouds. And aged real books. The result? A very palpable environment in which the characters can immerse themselves and the (sometimes thin) plot can evolve. It also didn’t surprise me when I learned that this guy worked on Tron: Legacy – it had that same future-realism that really sells impossible plotlines.

Anyway back to Oblivion. Indeed, it is gorgeous. I think if you have a decent home theatre, you would probably get to experience much of it. I would say to watch it in normal theatres but the plot really is quite predictable and may distract you from the eye candy. All 3 out of 5 stars is attributed to its landscape, scenery, set design, and sheer beauty.