I think I broke something…

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Really.  At a later date I may share with you all my extreme level of broken-ness (I was born with cracks in my mold :D)  But now, I must have injured my arm–still not 100% how!  I can barely move it (it has been normal to swollen to OMG swollen to now normal-looking again).  Of course, it has to be my right arm, so it is difficult to do much of anything–especially type.  I have set a doctor’s appointment and hopefully it will not be too serious.

In the mean time excuse my lack of posts.  I shall return with several reviews: Carnage–Extremely Loud…–We Bought a Zoo–etc, etc.  And The Avengers! Woo hoo!

Thanks for keeping up with my site–I appreciate all of you!

I’ll be back.

Liebster Blog Award!! Really?! Thanks 3 Guys 1 Movie!! You guys rock!

I was shocked!  One of my favorite blogs–3 Guys 1 Movie–gave me a Liebster Blog Award!  I love the set up these guys have on their site and hope to get to that level some day.  You have to check them out–I know you will love their humor and wonderful take on films.  (Fog’s Movie Review just recommended them on their Follow Friday post–way to go!)   I have also been lucky to have them help me out with advice and support. 😀  I am honored to get the shout out and I will strive to continue to earn this recognition.

“The rules are that the winners have to pay forward to other people whose sites are worth the recognition. If they accept the award, they should: thank the person who nominated them; nominate five other favorite blogs with fewer than 200 followers, and copy/paste the Liebster Blog Icon into their post.”  Okay, guys…I am not sure if all my choices have fewer than 200 followers (couldn’t figure how to get those numbers)–so I am sorry if I am wrong.

Here are my 5 selections for a Liebster Blog:

Square Eyed: The subjective mind of a film junkie on film (http://charlotteweston.wordpress.com/)  Charlotte is one of my first blogs to follow.  She has a wonderful voice and her love for film is very clear.  I hope this award will get more people over there to join in her discussions. Here’s to your future Charlotte!

Keith & The Movies  (http://keithandthemovies.wordpress.com/) I enjoy Keith’s reviews and his creative 5 Phenomenal (blank) Lists–(best movie phone calls? nice).  He has fresh angle and is always entertaining.

Yay Kiss Purr: A writer’s Perspective (http://yaykisspurr.wordpress.com/) A self-proclaimed “odd duck”–yaykisspur loves all forms of storytelling. The site explores movies, TV and books in very detailed fashion, yet is clear and interesting to read.

Dan the Man’s Reviews (http://dtmmr.wordpress.com/) I believe Dan was the first to leave a comment on my blog. 🙂  I, in turn, went to visit his site–and wow! He is very busy over there…He writes a review pretty much everyday!  This young man has a strong passion for film and it shows!

All Eyes on Screen (http://alleyesonscreen.com/) Last but not least, is Kristin at AEOS. She may be an “average girl who loves movies” but her reviews and opinions are always beautifully shared.  Whether you agree or not is part of the fun and Kristin will love the debate.

So, I hope you all will give these guys a peek.  Like me, I am sure we would all be grateful for your time and attention–we know how precious that is and if you choose to share with our us that is a huge compliment!  Thanks, in advance!!

Bye-bye 2011films! Oscar finalizes the award season…

84th Academy Awards Poster.png

It is over!  The Academy Awards have come and gone for 2011.  The verdict?  Not too bad. The theme was going to the movies and I will dare say this was the best show in a LONG time.  It felt faster paced (liked the combining of categories)–fresh (loved the Cirque du Soleil piece and the pre-recorded interviews)–and funny (Billy Crystal was fantastic–and there were some funny bits due to Robert Downey, Jr and Emma Stone).  The theme was cool–especially for all of us cinephiles–I could relate to many of the comments made about film, their impact and importance in our lives. 

There were no real big surprises, except for Meryl Streep‘s win–everyone was certain it would go to Viola Davis (even Streep herself)–but no one can be upset though because Streep is amazing. Period.  And her speech was lovely. 

I was also pleased that Hugo was getting some love, but not quite enough since The Artist still managed to win the big categories–BOO!  As you know most of my favorite films of the year were not in contention tonight so I was just cheering for anything that wasn’t The Artist (on principle). 

I was happy for Rango to win in Animation.  (I still think Tintin should have been there!)  Was upset Rise of the Planet of the Apes lost the visual effects trophy–they deserved it.  Or at least Harry Potter, but no. Potter was also robbed in the Make Up category.  Original score should have been John Williams.  Everything else was alright

So, bottom line?  We need to bring Billy back every year until he dies (c’mon what else is he doing now?)–keep the brisk pace and creative additions and maybe the Awards can return to their old glory. Because to quote Billy, “Nothing helps the economy like watching millionaires give each other gold statues!”

Enjoy some video highlights! 

 

Before the Oscars, I finally get to my Top 15 of 2011!

Academy Award Winner

Academy Award Winner (Photo credit: Dave_B_)

I will start by saying that the Academy Awards are frustrating. Sometimes they get it right, but mostly the awards end up being either a popularity contest, an oops-sorry-we-got-it-wrong-last-year-so-we-will-give-it-to-you-now-for-a-way-inferior-role, or just plain crazy!  So, why do I watch? Why year after year, do I torture myself? I can not help it!  I have watched the Oscars all my life.  It is a tradition. 

As a lover of films, it is what you do and I must admit that part of the fun is the craziness. You get to talk with your family and friends–for or against–the choices that the Academy makes, the dresses worn, and the speeches. This year I am stoked that my favorite host, Billy Crystal, has returned (Hugh Jackman has been my only other favorite host since Crystal departed).  As you will notice, not many of my favorites are represented this year at the Oscars…I know–that’s what I was talking about…

Now a few disclaimers before my list.  This is my Top 15 list–not the critics and I tend to choose films that have affected me–emotional and/or intellectually.  Also, I am, first and foremost, a sci-fi//action girl–so every year those films creep into my list.  I have reviewed most of these so you can search for them to read more about them.

Here we go…Top 15 of 2011! 

15.  Midnight in Paris

Beautifully told.  Whimsical and brilliant.  This is what I love about Woody Allen.  This role was tailor-made for Owen Wilson.

14.  The Help

Hit all the right notes.  Humorous, dramatic and heartfelt.  Deserves all the attention it is getting. I am rooting for them on Oscar night. 

13.  Warrior

What should be a clichéd, typical sport movie is transformed into an intense and effective character study.  Nick Nolte deserves this Oscar. 

12. Super 8

A homage to Spielberg and a different era of storytelling.  It is perfect. 

11.  Another Earth

Creative and unique.  Brit Marling is a force to be reckoned with. 

10.  The Adjustment Bureau 

I loved this film.  Matt Damon and Emily Blunt‘s chemistry is worth the watch.  This is how I like my romantic films to be–interesting, realistic with a sci-fi twist.

9.  Hanna

Wonderfully acted.  Awesome action sequences.  Fantastic music.  Intriguing heroes and unforgettable villains.  Yeah, it is BADASS!

8.  Attack the Block

Talk about BADASS!  This film is the ultimate sci-fi/action flick.  It is AWESOME!  Then they surprise you with depth and meaning.

7.  Beginners

This plays like an artistic piece.  It is poetry on film.  Christopher Plummer is lovely (I will not be upset if Nolte loses to him–which he might).  Ewan McGregor is wonderful.

6.  Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy

Gary Oldman.  Enough said.  Yes, I am biased.  But this is a clever, quiet, deliberate film.  Layered and nuanced.  And yeah…let’s not forget Benedict Cumberbatch. 🙂

5.  Drive

You either love or hate it.  I loved it.  One of the best deconstructing of a character on film.  Pretty impressive.

4.  Shame

Michael Fassbender not nominated for an Oscar?  Sad.  This is a brutal, honest look at a man’s struggle with his demons.  It will haunt you.

3.  The Skin I live In

Blew me away.  It sneaks up on you.  Revealing itself slowly and deliberately.  Antonio Banderas is fantastic!

2.  Take Shelter

Beautifully crafted.  Michael Shannon was also sadly forgotten by Oscar.  Powerful and intense.  A true mind bending experience.

1.  50/50

Real. Emotional. And laugh out loud funny. I loved everything about this film.  I am a huge fan of Joseph Gordon Levitt and this only solidifies his awesomeness!  (Shame on you Oscars–shame on you–not one single nomination.)

Max Landis is definitely one to watch…

OMG!  I found this after my Chronicle review and was totally impressed. I am even more excited about this young man’s future.  He wrote and directed this short about the infamous “death” of Superman in the comics–now I want more of his screenplays to get picked up.

I was literally laughing out loud!!  BRILLIANT!!  (and it helps that I never liked Superman) I love all the celebrity cameos.  Super fun!  ENJOY!

The Death and Return of Superman

Related articles

To Love a Missy Cat

Eight years ago I walked into Kitten Rescue ready to meet the 2 week old kittens I had  selected.  I had seen their pictures and they were perfect.  One was a male, dark tabby with beautiful markings and the other was a female, black & white ball of fluff.  Little did I know, that on that day I would meet my kitty soul mate–their mother, Missy. 

I still remember how skinny and frail she appeared.  A unique tri colored tabby with the most interesting patterns I had ever seen.  I still remember how she immediately came to me and starting kissing (licking) and following me around.  (Two behaviors she would never stop doing.)   My heart melted and when I heard her story, my heart ached her. 

Missy was found on the coldest night of that year  with 4 kittens.  One was found frozen and obviously killed by another critter–one was dead but Missy was still carrying him around and grooming him.  Only 2 had survived–the 2 I had chosen.   Her loving and caring  maternal instincts towards all the kittens in the rescue gave her the name of “the Mrs.” which turned into Missy.  I could not leave her behind.  She had stolen my heart. 

 Three weeks later I brought home 3 cats.  It was unexpected yet wonderful.  We were able to see Missy teach her son, Tuzigoot and her daughter, Akira how to be cats.  From meowing to hunting.  Missy was patient with her children and it paid off.  It was amazing to watch her.

Within months, Missy had adopted us too.  She would groom us and teach us how to play new games.  She was my shadow–following me everywhere.  I could feel her gratefulness.  Missy knew what it was like to suffer and now she had found safety and happiness.  And it was expressed in the most soulful, love stares ever.  I always compared it to the famous Puss in Boots stare–big, round and “awww” inducing. 

Over the years, Missy was ever-present.  She had attitude and personality.  The alpha cat–she made sure the other cats (which number grew to 5) knew their place.  One of her unique traits was her ability to eat anything!  And I mean ANYTHING!   It became a game to see what she wouldn’t eat–which wasn’t much.  (She loved weird things like prunes and corn!)  Not so cute traits?  Her love of chewing cables and shredding/eating paper.  There were many angry call outs of her name–homework or important papers destroyed and many expensive cables “killed” by her.  🙂

Through sickness, divorce and many changes–she was my constant.  My ever steady companion.  I would share my thoughts and my tears with her.  Missy would comfort my spirit, with her kisses and cuddles.  The sweetest kitty EVER.  Anyone who met her, loved her.  Missy was everyone’s favorite. 

A few months ago Missy lost her fight with cancer.  I knew instinctively that she was sick.  As crazy as it may sound–I knew she was dying.  And for a month we tried to do all we could, but there was only one choice.  I am fortunate to have a fantastic vet and Missy was able to be home when she went to sleep.  Her passing has left a void in our lives.  All of us–her children and her humans–are forever changed.  I miss her terribly.  We all do.  I now live with two very different cats–at times I can feel their sadness and I am sure they feel mine. 

It is incredible how much an animal can affect our very existence.  They give us so much and ask for so little in return.  I have received so much support during this difficult time and many times I have heard how lucky Missy was to have found me–how I rescued her.  The fact is I am the lucky one and she rescued me many times over! 

Thank you, Missy Cat!  I will love you forever!  I know you are surrounded by cables, paper and all the human food you can consume!!  Until we meet again, on the Rainbow Bridge

It has been a long time…

                                                                                                                                                                                             Sorry! It’s been almost 2 months from my last post and a lot has happened–from a crazy 2 job schedule–the holidays–and the recent passing of my beloved kitty, Missy–to say I was little preoccupied and distracted would be an understatement. 

In fact, I have NOT seen many of the releases of the past two months–even ones I would normally watch just because I was curious or semi-interested–like In TimeImmortals and Arthur Christmas.  And some movies I really wanted to see like Moneyball, The Rum Diary and J.Edgar just came and went before I could find the time. 

I did make time for a few–I will be writing about some of the special ones (The Muppets and Puss in Boots) but I was pretty much unimpressed with the lot that I did see:

The Thing (2011) was disappointing–loved the John Carpenter 80s version–and I had hope for this prequel concept…yet it was an epic FAIL.

The Three Musketeers was so bad it was hilarious.

The indie darling Martha Marcy May Marlene left me wanting.  It had a strong cast–I could understand the spotlight Elizabeth Olsen is receiving–a star is, indeed, born–and John Hawkes continues to impress–but the story, to me, felt recycled and superficial. 

Cedar Rapids was actually much better than I expected.  The trailer made it look crazed and over-the-top, but it was not.  It was charming, funny and had some heart.  And, again John C. Reilly ROCKS!

Margin Call is a small movie that has gotten some indie praise, that I was not a 100 % taken with.  It has a super talented cast–incredible performers that are not given enough to work with and the plot drags.  My real issue is that there is no real climax–actually it’s a bit anti-climatic.  Wall Street 2 did a much better job of addresses this concept in a shorter amount of time–so, you may want to check that one out!

 So, I am back.  In time for the award season and ready to get back in the grove.  I will also be trying to catch up with book and TV reviews–I will do my best–thanks for your support and the time you take to read my thoughts and opinions! 

Hope all is well on your side of the world and Happy Holidays! 🙂

Fantastic Fest 2011–It was truly FANTASTIC!!

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Wow! What a week!  As a Fantastic Fest  first time badge holder, I kept hearing that this is many of the veteran festival attendees “favorite week of the year!”  And now I understand why.  Fantastic Fest is a genre film festival that is a film geek’s dream–I should know because I am said geek.  It showcases independent films from all over the world–(70+)–that focus on the strange, sci-fi, action and horror forms of entertainment.  One of their taglines is ” A film festival with the boring parts cut out.”  And that is the truth. 

First of all, it is held at the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema on South Lamar in Austin, TX–which happens to be my favorite theater house.  You get to eat delicious food and drink while watching movies–can it get any better?  Yeah–add 8 days of awesome movies! 

Another thing I loved was the casual atmosphere that promoted conversations and allowed you to mingle with everyone from film guests to the fans.  And the coolest part is that we were all similar–why else would we be there?  Starting debates and discussions was easy and fun.  I actually made a few friends and look forward to keeping in touch. 

Besides movies, the special events were super fun and a nice break from being in a darken theater.  We enjoyed the Opening Party–Karaoke Apocalypse–Prom Night–and the Closing Night Superhero Carnival.  We missed some events  to watch movies–and did not regret that decision since watching movies was our main directive.  But next year, (yeah–gotta do this again!) we might check out the Debates, which include some boxing matches–crazy fun, so I heard.

I watched 26 films and a block of animated shorts.  Interestingly enough, I liked most–loved a handful–thought a few could have been better–and disliked only 3.  That is pretty cool and stands as a testament of how good the festival programmers are in finding quality films. 

I am not going to review each film–that would take a while 🙂 — instead I will list them and rate them with stars–5 stars being the best, of course.  I will try to find trailers and/or links so you can check it out for yourself and keep an eye out if they get US distribution and/or American remakes, which some of them have. 

Overall, I did have one of the best weeks and may have to join the chorus…It has become one of my favorite weeks of the year!  Now, I get to look forward to Fantastic Fest 2012!!

 An American Werewolf in London  (US)  ***** –Nice to see this classic on the big screen!

Aardvark (US)  **

Blind (Korea)  ****

Borderline (France)  ****

A Boy and His Samurai (Japan)  *****  — # 1– Absolutely wonderful!

The Corridor (Canada)  *** 

The Day (US)  **** 

The Devil’s Business (UK)  ***

Extraterrestrial (Spain) ****

Haunters (Korea) ****

Headhunters (Norway)  ***** — # 3

The Innkeepers (US)  *****   — # 5

Juan of the Dead (Cuba)  **** — # 10

Last Screening (France) ***

Let the Bullets Fly (Hong Kong)  ***

A Lonely Place to Die (UK)  *****  — # 4

Melancholia (Denmark)  **  (Sorry Von Trier fans–did not like this…)

Penumbra (Argentina)  ****

Retreat (UK) ***

Sleep Tight (Spain)  *****  — # 7

Sleepless Night (France)  ***** — # 6   (optioned for a US remake)

Snowtown (Australia)  ***

The Squad (Colombia)  **** — # 9

Take Shelter (US)  *****  — # 8

You’re Next (US)  *****  — # 2  (picked up by Lionsgate–will be released in  2012–which is awesome!) 

Animated Shorts (Various Countries)  ***** Favorites… Lazarov (France) –Bedtime for Timmy (US)–The Last Norwegian Troll (Norway)–Create (US)

I want to borrow a gun–to shoot almost everyone in Something Borrowed!

 

I consider myself tolerant.  I try to be fair and judge movies within, what I consider, are the expectations of their genres.  And I usually enjoy romantic comedies–they are nice break from the serious stuff.  I call them light and fluffy movies.  With that said, I disliked Something Borrowed–and I was actually looking forward to it–a real narrative on a subject not often addressed.

So what happened?  Well, the bottom line is that I disliked 3 out of the 4 principals.  Really, really disliked them.  Except for John Krasinski’s Ethan–who was the ONLY character that had any common sense–the rest were annoyingly…what word could I use?  oh, yeah–stupid!  They are exaggerated stereotypes. 

I am not even going to get into it, because it frustrates me.  I will say that I hate they way women are portrayed on film (most of the time)–needy and desperate or conniving and slutty–but what is sadder, is that some of these women exist in the real world.  Which is fine…I just do not want to cheer for them in a movie. 

If you have to go see this–go ahead.  Just remember I tried to warn you…

Jane Eyre revisited

Image via Wikipedia

I have had a 30 year relationship with Charlotte Bronte‘s classic novel and every few years I find myself drawn to its pages.  Each time, I am excited to see what  new discoveries await among the familiar words.  The story I thought I knew so well surprises me and reveals a layer of itself that had remained hidden until I was ready, not only to find it, but to understand it.

It all started at the age of 10 when Mrs. Donovan, my 5th grade teacher, asked me to stay after class to talk–she had caught me reading a romance novel during class.  I was braced for the stern lecture on paying attention and the importance of not being distracted during the lessons, but instead I was met with a smile and a question.

“Do you like romance novels?”

“Not really.  There are a bunch of these books around the house.  They’re kind of boring, to be honest.  Very predictable.”

“I will make you a deal.  You can read after your work is done–except I will select the books and you will have assignments to complete throughout.”

“Okay.  That sounds like a good deal.”

The next day she handed me a dark hard bound book.  “We will start with Jane Eyre.  It does have romance…yet, it is much more and definitely not boring.”

And with those words and that keenly astute gesture, Mrs. Donovan changed my life. 

(As a side note–the books that followed were all memorable and opened my eyes to a whole new world–Wuthering Heights–How Green was My Valley–The Stranger–The Sun Also Rises–etc, etc–but, none captured my heart and imagination like Jane Eyre.)

Why such a strong a reaction to this story in particular?  Because Jane Eyre was the first character I related to on a personal level.  Like her, I was alone and felt the sting of feeling unloved.  Like her, I felt trapped by the expectations and standards of my environment.  Like her, I was full of passion and opinions.  Like her, I sought to be independent and free. 

“I longed for a power of vision which might overpass that limit; which might reach the busy world, towns, regions full of life I had heard of but never seen: that I desired more of practical experience than I possessed; more of intercourse with my kind, of acquaintance with variety of character, than was here within my reach…I could not help it: the restlessness was in my nature; it agitated me to pain sometimes…”

Jane became my first and only role model for many years.  I wanted to be like her–to have the strength of her convictions and the determination she mustered.  Without realizing at the time, Charlotte’s pioneering feminist views would have a powerful influence on my life.  

“Women are supposed to be very calm generally; but women feel just as men feel; they need exercise for their faculties and a field for their efforts as much as their brothers do; they suffer from too rigid a restraint, too absolute a stagnation, precisely as men would suffer; and it is narrow-minded in their more privileged fellow-creatures to say that they ought to confine themselves to making puddings and knitting stockings, to playing on the piano and embroidering bags. It is thoughtless to condemn them, or laugh at them, if they seek to do more or learn more than custom has pronounced necessary for their sex.”

The interesting part is the constantly changing interpretation.  At different stages of my life I have walked away with a new meaning that relates to me.  I could see myself in her solitude.  I could see myself in her keen mind.  I could see myself in her forgiving nature.  In this last reading, I was amazed that I could see myself in her absolute love for Mr. Rochester! 

In all my visits to Jane’s universe, I had never truly believed in the soul mate kind of connection, in romantic terms–I may have subconsciously longed for it–but never truly believed.  This time I found myself stopping and rereading passages out loud to my Rochester–Matt Greene.  He would listen and smile or comment on the eerily similar feelings we had lived with for the last few years.  

“I have now been married ten years. I know what it is to live entirely for and with what I love best on earth. I hold myself supremely blest—blest beyond what language can express; because I am my husband’s life as fully as he is mine. No woman was ever nearer to her mate than I am: ever more absolutely bone of his bone, and flesh of his flesh. I know no weariness of my Edward’s society: he knows none of mine, any more than we each do of the pulsation of the heart that beats in our separate bosoms; consequently, we are ever together.”

Honestly it kind of shocked me.  Wow!  Creepy and unexpected!  That I would find myself even more connected to Jane than I ever had previously.  I understood all of it now–and it was scary and yet, lovely.  I can only hope that I can live through my happily ever after.  Jane deserved it and so do I. 

I look back and I can not help but feel an immense gratitude to Mrs. Donovan.  What would my life  have been like without her handing me that book?  I shudder to think of my past without  Jane as my faithful companion.  Looking ahead, I wonder what else awaits me–what will Jane Eyre tell me 2 –5–10 years from now?  Only time will tell what my old friend has yet to share with me.  I look forward to it. 

P.S.  Follow this for my review of the most recent Jane Eyre film interpretation–