Tag Archives: movies

Time for a Check-up

Time for the semi-regular check-up of my New Year’s Resolutions.  In case you don’t know them, by heart, here’s the quick run down:

Be 100% smoke free–  Part of the reason I wanted to write this post is to declare myself a bona fide non-smoker.  But for some odd reason, I had ONE cigarette on Saturday.  That’s one in February, one in March, and one in April.  Really… what’s the point?  Stupid!

Avoid fast food–   Again, I was doing pretty well, but my food supply at home is almost non-existent. I ate fast food TWICE this weekend… and had Za’s today.  It’s a function of not wanting to go to the grocery store more than anything else.

Finish more books– Uh… no.  I haven’t read a book since my trip to San Francisco.  And I really liked the book. I plan on writing about it.  Someday.

Learn to write fiction–  This has been an interesting endeavor.  I’m taking a class at Parkland. I’ve written a couple of “throw-away” stories, one I’m kinda proud of, and one that has potential, but needs significant revision.  I think I’m getting better.

Watch more movies–  Again…NO!  I cancelled my Netflix because I just don’t have the attention span to sit through a movie.  And I haven’t been TO the Movies since February (?)

Be more honest–  I think I’m okay in this category. We can cross it off the Resolutions list. 

Learn to appreciate poetry–   Eh… I have to admit.  The T.S. Eliot book I got for my birthday is still on my table.  I open it up occasionally, but I wouldn’t say I have an appreciation for poetry.   Not yet anyway.

Get back to a fighting weight– Believe it or not, I’m actually doing okay in this category.  My goal was to lose 20ish pounds and I think I’m probably down about 10 from the beginning of the year.  Our first “official” Biggest Loser weigh-in is Friday. I’m a little nervous (see above re: fast food), but I think I’m on the right track… for now!

Get control of debt–  I’m not doing as well in this category as I’d like to.  I (finally) made some of the cutbacks I promised months ago (cancelled Netflix, downgraded cable, cancelled magazines.)   But I know I need to curb more spending– Starbucks runs, new clothes, eating out,  etc.

Be more responsible–  I think I’m doing okay with this.  I really need to get my a$$ in gear at work a little more, but  I’m acting like a responsible adult.  Most of the time.  Except some weekends ;)

I’ve also set a few more fitness-related goals for myself this year:   I’m running another 5K in a couple of weeks.  My goal is to improve on my previous time.  Then  then thinking about maybe training for a mini triathlon in August (which requires a new bike, which requires more $$… the vicious cycle). My goal is to become a better swimmer and actually FINISH.   

My Oscar Picks

I haven’t quite decided how I’m going to do my annual fashion re-cap this year.  I might try live-blogging… or I might just sit in front of the TV with my computer so that I’m not transcribing my notes tomorrow at work (shhh….).  At any rate, there will be some sort of fashion coverage, but Iwanted to include my picks for the actual awards.

Full disclosure:  I haven’t seen many of this year’s nominated movies, so some of my picks are either by default or are based on a “body of work” rationale. I realize this isn’t exactly “legal,” but I’m not exactly a member of the Academy, am I??  

Best Picture

I have to go with Slumdog Millionaire.  It’s the only film in this category that I’ve seen and yes, it’s that good.  I really wanted to try to see Milk and Benjamin Button before the awards, but I haven’t had a chance.  I’d be okay if either of those won.   I’m not, however, rooting for The Reader, mostly because I despise Harvey Weinstein.  

Best Actor

Mickey Rourke all the way. I saw The Wrestler and he was phenomenal in it.  Yeah, one could argue that it’s not such a stretch for him to play a washed-up guy making a comeback, but he gave the performance of his life.   I’d be okay if Sean Penn won. He’s a great actor and I hear that he gives a good performance in Milk.

Best Supporting Actor

I’ll be surprised if anyone other than Heath Ledger wins this.  I still haven’t seen The Dark Knight.  (Letters can be addressed to Carich Blogs c/o Under a Rock, IL), but he deserves the win.   Since I haven’t seen any of the nominated films in this category, I’ll pick Phillip Seymour Hoffman as the runner up.  Just ‘cuz he’s always awesome.

Best Actress

Kate Winslet, The Reader.  There was a bunch of hub-ub about Kate getting the nod for this role and not for Revolutionary Road.  And I’ve already said that I despise Harvey Weinstein.  But Kate Winslet is one of my favorite actresses and she deserves the win.  I want her to play me in the story of my life (take that, Toni Collette!!).   If Kate doesn’t win it, I’d like to see Anne Hathaway come home with a trophy.  She’s had a bad year and I don’t want Angelina Jolie to win, Meryl Streep is too obvious and I’ve never heard of Melissa Leo.

Best Supporting Actress

This one’s a toss-up:  I liked Marissa Tomei’s performance in The Wrestler but I’m not really sure it’s Oscar-worthy.  I didn’t see V icky Christina Barcelona,  but I want to.  And I like Penelope Cruz’s accent.  So, either one of them would be fine.   Or Amy Adams. I like her too…

Best Director

Again, this is pretty subjective ‘cuz I’ve only seen one of the movies, but I think I’d like to see David Fincher win for Benjamin Button. It’s hard to take a short story and make it into a believable 3+ hour movie.  Plus, I don’t see this film winning in any other categories, so let’s throw him a bone.    Runners up:  Danny Boyle for Slumdog, ‘cuz everyone likes a good underdog story or Ron Howard for Frost/Nixon, ‘cuz Opie Taylor is still pretty cute, even if he’s now a big-time director.

The Rest of the Categories

I’d like to see Wall*E win for original screenplay, but it will probably go to Milk.  I hope Benjamin Button wins for adapted screenplay and one of the songs from Slumdog wins for best song (they have 2 of the 3 noms, so it’s likely).  Other than that, I have no clue.  But I’ll be watching!

Review-a-Palooza: Movies

Due to the rain,* I spent a lot of QCT (quality couch time) this weekend, which means I have a bunch of stuff to review.  I literally gorged myself on an entertainment buffet– movies, TV shows, music, magazines, a book.  I can’t promise I’ll review it all, but  for your first course, let me present:  Movies!

The best movie I saw this weekend was Adaptation, hands down.

As you may recall, I’m a bit obsessed with the storyboard blog over at Wired magazine.  Since the piece is about Charlie Kaufman and Adaptation has been sitting in my Netflix queue for way too long, I decided that I needed to do some background research.

Nicolas Cage stars as a screenwriter (named Charlie Kaufman!) who is adapting a book called The Orchid Thief (yes, it’s a real book) into a movie.   He’s introspective and artistic and is trying to make a movie “about flowers” even though the studio wants him to add romance, drama, and car chases.  Meanwhile, his douche bag brother Don (also played by Nick Cage) is writing a paint-by-numbers thriller script with the help of a screenwriting workshop.

Throughout the course of the movie, we get glimpses into how Kaufman would write The Orchid Thief. Meryl Streep plays Susan Orlean– the author of the book, who is interviewing John Laroche, played by Chris Cooper.   These real-life characters become fictionalized in the book and then re-fictionalized (?) within the context of Kaufman’s movie.

By observing his creative process and struggling to come up with a compelling hook for a film book “about flowers” the fictional Kaufman writes himself into the movie, much like the real-life Kaufman has done by naming the main character after himself.    Although the movie-within-the-movie-based-on-a-real-life-book-based-on-a-true-story plot line may seem a little far-fetched, it works beautifully on the screen. It becomes not only a compelling story, but also an in-depth critique of movie making, Hollywood, “human nature,” and the creative process.

The title itself takes on a double meaning as well. Adaptation is-on one level-about the process of adapting a book for the screen, but it’s also about the evolutionary/Darwinian concept of evolution– how orchids (and people) adapt and change to survive within their environments. It’s really profound and deep and a bid mind-blowing, in a “WTF just happened?” sort of way.

This movie absolutely blew me away.  It’s one of those films that you keep thinking about long after it’s over.  I’ll definitely re-watch this one and it has earned a permanent place on my “favorite movies” list.  If you haven’t seen it, rent it now.  If you have, I’d love to discuss it with you.  It rocked my world.

I Also Watched . . .

Sweeney Todd

Full disclosure: I went into this movie with a bunch of pre-conceived notions.  On one hand, there’s the Tim Burton/Johnny Depp pairing, which I usually love.  On the other hand, it’s violent and a musical which I don’t tend to like at all.  On the other-other hand, I have a friend who has been singing the praises of Sweeney Todd since, well, since I met him.  So I had to decide for myself.

The best thing I can say about the movie is its exactly what I expected.  Johnny Depp was perfect in a role that’s part Edward Scissorhands, part Captain Jack Sparrow, part that guy from The Nightmare Before Christmas.  Helena Bonham Carter was ideal as Mrs. Lovett, yet she looked exactly like her character in Big Fish and the little boy (who was also in Finding Neverland with Johnny Depp) was wonderful.  The sets and cinematography were pure Tim Burton-dark, gloomy, creepy, and gorgeous.

The violence and singing didn’t bother me as much as I thought they would, with one small exception. I couldn’t hear/understand the words as they were being sung.  I even turned on my closed captioning at one point.  For a movie where so much of the drama occurs through lyrics, it was crucial that I could hear the characters singing, which I couldn’t.

All in all, it was an enjoyable and entertaining movie, but it probably won’t go down as one of my favorites.

Batman Begins

I originally rented this movie to watch during my Staycation thinking I’d watch it and then go see The Dark Knight.  I fell asleep the first time I tried to watch it and never made it to The Dark Knight, so I decided to give it another chance this weekend.

It was good, but not knock-my-socks-off good.  I’m not a huge fan of the Batman franchise. I remember being super excited about the first movie with Jack Nicholson as the Joker (back in 1989–man, I’m old), but I all I remember about the other movies is that they were made into Happy Meal toys and rides at Six Flags.

So, in that respect, I was glad to see a darker, more introspective Batman movie and it was good to get the “creation story.”  I thought Katie Holmes did a really good job and I now have a crush on both Christian Bale AND Michael Caine (weird!).  As far as superhero movies go, it was one of the best… but I’m not a huge fan of superhero movies.  I’m anxious to see  how The Dark Knight continues this story and whether or not it lives up to the hype.

Wait ‘Til Next Year: The Saga of the Chicago Cubs

Interesting documentary on the Cubs’ famous losing streak including the 1984 season (which I don’t remember) and the 2003 season (which I distinctly do). It’s playing on HBO On Demand now and is good viewing for any Cubs fan, but doesn’t present anything we don’t already know.

(I also watched part of the game on Sunday where Zambrano threw that no-hitter, which was WAY more exciting!)

No Reservations

Another movie in the “exactly what I expected” category, except in this case my expectations were admittedly lower.  The story centers around Kate (Catherine Zeta Jones), who is an executive chef at a fancy New York restaurant.  Her sister dies leaving her to take care of her niece, played by Abigail Breslin of Little Miss Sunshine fame.   Kate is famously stand-offish when it comes to relationships and is infuriated when her boss hires a new know-it-all sous-chef, played by Aaron Eckhart. 

[Spoiler Alert!] They begrudgingly fall in love until there’s some sort of fall-out about the restaurant.  A mini-crisis with the kid reunites them and they live a culinary happily-ever-after. It’s a perfect “waste away the afternoon while you have nothing else to do kind of movie,” but it’s not exactly original.

———–

*And while we’re on the subject of rain… I know it sucks, but let’s think about the people in Texas, who have it a lot worse than we do.  Like my friend Hannah, who is in Houston and has been blogging from her phone to keep everyone updated on her safety.  Let’s send the good people of Texas some happy thoughts. They need it!

And I thought *I* was a meta-blogger

The guys over at Wired magazine are blogging about the creation of an upcoming article on screenwriter Charlie Kaufman (Being John Malkovich, Adaptation, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind), who is making his directorial debut with the movie Synecdoche, New York.

http://blog.wired.com/storyboard/

By “peeling back the curtain” on their own creative processes, the Wired guys are creating the ultimate meta-blog, culminating in the actual print story, scheduled to run in the November issue.  What a fascinating and mind-blowing concept and unique insight into the world of magazine production.

Or–at the very least– great promotion for both the issue and the movie.

It’s Friday, Craig

Why is it that every time Friday rolls around I inveriably start quoting Friday, the stoner movie starring Ice Cube and Chris Tucker?

“It’s Friday, Craig… You ain’t got a job. You ain’t got SHIT to do”

I don’t even particularly like this movie.  Sure, I watched it a million times in my friends dorm room in college, with the towel placed strategically under the door and the dryer sheet over the toilet paper roll so the RA wouldn’t “bust” us.

But now I’m 29 years old.  I *do* have a job.  I have *plenty*  of shit to do.  But quotes from that movie continuously pop into my head every Friday.  Hmmm…..

Juno–out on DVD today!

Read my review of Juno.  Originally published on mySpace.  Then re-published here.  Great movie.  Watch it!

When the Levees Broke

On to my day.  Not a great diet day.  Too many carbs.  Boredom is the enemy of dieting. I’m eating entirely too much food and not exercising enough (or in the case of this week… not at all)

I *finally* got around to watching Disc 1 of the Spike Lee documentary on Hurricane Katrina When the Levees Broke. I’ve had it for over a year.  Seriously, since February 2007.   Just like the first time I tried to watch it, I fell asleep about halfway through the first act.  But this time I actually finished it.  Probably because I’m going to New Orleans next week.

I’m ashamed to admit it, but I somehow managed to skim over the horrendousness of Katrina.  Yeah, I knew it happened, but I wasn’t really engaged in how much these people struggled (and continue to struggle). I think I gave $20 to save the displaced pets, but didn’t really think about the amount of human suffering.  I guess that was Spike Lee’s point.  While all these people were literally fighting for their lives, other people in America (most notably the president) were going about their lives as if it were business as usual.