Thursday, October 14, 2010

Well hey, I forgot all about you!

Hello blog, it's been awhile, hasn't it? I've been neglecting to post anything in the past few months - not because I have nothing to say, but because I've had no idea how to phrase it lately. Lost my inspiration, or my muse, or writer's block, or whatever highfalutin name you want to call it apart from laziness or procrastination, which is what I call it.

Fear not, the dark ages are over and I rise triumphantly through the storm clouds of negigence and lethargy, creating arcs of inspiration with my sword of enlightenment. Or whatever, I don't know.

Glad to be back.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Tim Burton Art Exhibit Coming to Toronto on November 26th

According to the New York Times, the acclaimed Tim Burton exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art (which came to a close this Monday) is stopping off in Toronto, after the Australian tour, at the new Bell Lightbox (which, evidently, isn't finished yet - and is everything in this city named after a telephone provider now?) from November 26th to April 17, 2011. Because I've matured since the height of my Burton-worship from the teen goth years (due to both growing out of the phase and because, lovely as they may be, I'm tired of seeing Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter don corsets and fantastical wigs together), I'm not sure how excited I should be for this. It has piqued my curiosity, though, and I may go solely for the severed Sarah Jessica Parker prop head.

Monday, March 22, 2010

A Very Rare Instance in Which I Have These Things Called 'Feelings'

Today I watched Every Little Step, the documentary about dancers auditioning for starring roles in the revival of A Chorus Line on Broadway and got perilously close to bawling my eyes out.

I know its obviously constructed to manipulate the audience into caring about specific dancers and making us emotionally respond to watching them achieve their dreams, but something about people succeeding in the arts despite the harsh reality of the fact that almost nobody actually does makes me go to pieces.

My boyfriend the former theatre actor also pointed out that this was probably completely fabricated and not a role touching too close to home, but if this doesn't tug at you at least a little, you may have no soul.

The fact that the last shot of the film was this guy getting out of his costume after his first Broadway show and looking absolutely elated was way too much for me to handle. I am clearly a rubbery pile of mush.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Oscars fail to be engaging as usual and I stop caring

Last night was the first time the attendees of the 2010 Academy Awards looked particularly bored as the ceremony runs approximately half an hour past its scheduled end. Last night was also the first time I didn't watch a single second of the awards (while on syndication, at least - my impression of the ceremony results from watching YouTube clips for the brief fifteen minutes they remain on the site before being deleted for copyright infringement).

Once again, the Academy plays it safe and rewards everyone we knew would be rewarded, and the Iraq War is deemed culturally more important than nature-loving blue aliens. Cristoph Waltz, the only winner who hasn't yet been chewed up and spit out by the Hollywood robot machine (everyone looks stiffer and blander every year) is also the only person to appear genuinely thrilled, humbled, and does not prompt me to throw a shoe at my television (Sandra Bullock winning an Oscar for playing a rich hick housewife in a predictable, schmaltzy, and possibly borderline-racist family film, however, does).

Jeff Bridges also addresses the director of Crazy Heart as "man" and giggles during his acceptance speech, reminding me why The Big Lebowski is the greatest movie of all time.

Some thoughts on the last few movies I've seen

Shutter Island
I was enjoying this quite a bit up until I realized I knew exactly how it was going to end. I initially thought, "Nah, Scorsese has more integrity and imagination than that," but, well, my initial suspicions were confirmed. This movie was pretty chilling, well-acted, and clever when it was subtle and affecting, before it decided to run with a twist that rivals M. Night Shyamalan's most ridiculous. I'm pretty disappointed. This could have been so much better if it hadn't relied on a gimmick.

Sukiyaki Western Django
As someone with a love/hate relationship with Quentin Tarantino, I couldn't help but find his presence in this movie kind of out-of-place and jarring, and this is a film about Takashi Miike's version of a Wild West Nevada populated by rival Japanese gangs. It's actually surprisingly subtle for a Miike film, and even when the violence borders on the extreme, it doesn't veer into ridiculous territory. It's obviously indulgent, but not to the point where it is obnoxious due to how lovingly crafted it is. Enjoyed this very much, but for the love of god Tarantino, stop acting.

A legitimately sexy and intense vampire film. I'm a big fan of Oldboy, and stylistically this is very similar - it's dark, moody, and it looks beautiful. It grappled with religious issues in a way that I admired for being touching and refreshingly honest. There were times when I felt the film unnecessarily incorporated too many vampire tropes, but the touches of black humour made me smile and the score was eclectic and almost jazzy. Really liked this movie.

I generally enjoy Charlie Kaufman's awkward, paranoid view on life (except for one of his other films that shall remain nameless), and deep down I geek out over a movie like this, with so many layers of meta I confuse myself trying to keep track of all of them, get them all straight, then lose myself again. The screenplay is pretty damn close to a masterpiece. Nic Cage is surprisingly excellent in this, and reminds me that he can actually act when teamed with a competent writer and director. I did think there were times when the constant reiteration of Charlie's pathetic loner-ness was hammy and overstated, but it petered out by the last half of the film.

Inland Empire
I have a very tenuous grasp on exactly how I feel about this movie because I, like most other people I'm sure, have no idea what the fuck it was about. I'm left with a strong sense of being both horrified and fascinated. I liked it a lot. I'm fairly sure of this. It's probably the most frustrating thing I've ever seen, but I felt such a sense of wonder at how powerfully psychological and disarming it was. It feels more like a long, bizarre, frighting, trip with frequent flashes of brilliance than a movie, and I'm wondering if this really is the point of Inland Empire after all.

All That Jazz
I'm not sure why I haven't seen this before, but it's probably the smartest, most affecting, most creatively crafted quasi-musical-(auto)biography I've ever seen. It also becomes a million times more disturbing when you realize that Bob Fosse wrote, directed, and choreographed a film about essentially himself as a drug-addicted workaholic who is too "generous with his cock". The whole thing is fast, wild, and, just like Inland Empire, feels like a trip - albeit one that's much more fun (and much less hopelessly confusing. This has a plot).

Monday, January 25, 2010

Tattoos and Why One Woman Thinks You Shouldn't Bother If You're Not Angelina

Sitting in the waiting room of a downtown Toronto counselling clinic (not for therapy, for once – scouting out locations for a student film and awaiting the arrival of my partner-in-crime), I idly flipped through the October 2009 issue of Elle, a highly-regarded Canadian fashion magazine that leans toward the haute couture. Due to this fact, I did not expect to happen upon

A: An article about tattoos;

Or B: A positive article about tattoos.

Best guesses as to which the article contained (Hint: it sure as hell wasn’t Option B).

Oh, it wasn’t all bad. The author did admit that tattoos look “fab” on Angelina and Rhianna, but she cautions the rest of us mere mortals to think twice before getting a tattoo, because we might not “suit one.”

There are some interesting notions surrounding this tidbit of advice. One is that only “certain people” can appropriately pull off tattoos. Whether they be exotic Hollywood goddesses or punk rock rebels remains to be seen, but the author seems to be hinting that “normal” people, with normal clothes, normal looks, and normal attitudes, would look positively ridiculous with a tattoo. She claims tattoos “suit” a person, like a particular outfit would, and if a tattoo doesn’t fit within the boundaries of your look, it is inappropriate for you to bother with one.

The other strange part of this article is the author’s experience with her own tattoo, which she got on a lark in college – by a tattoo artist in a dingy shop who smoked a joint the entire time and, quite obviously, ruined the Urdu script she had chosen. She went home, immediately hated the tattoo, scrubbed it with a scouring pad (allegedly believing this might actually work), and eventually gave up and took to constantly wearing clothes that hid the tattoo for the next fifteen years.

According to this enlightened individual, because she was incredibly irresponsible and chose to leave something as monumental as a first tattoo, a permanent and life-altering decision, in the hands of an "artist" under the influence of drugs in a shoddy shop, we should all take caution when getting a tattoo. The author could have stressed the importance of research, or how to locate a friendly and clean shop with talented artists, but instead she simply shrugs off her story as yet another reason why some people should avoid tattoos altogether.

Reading this, my immediate thought (aside from irritation and “I should totally write an article about this”) was, “Why doesn’t she just get a cover-up from someone who knows what they’re doing?” Sure enough, the author does address this – and claims it is only one of her many fantasies. She imagines herself (I paraphrase here) “At L.A. Ink, hair flowing over one shoulder as Kat von D constructs an elaborate piece to cover up my mistake, but this will never happen.”

Probably not, dear author (practically being in the presence of Kat von D herself costs at least a grand) – but why not do the apparently unthinkable and actually put more than thirty seconds of thought into your cover-up design, visit an artist who doesn’t have a blunt sticking out of his mouth, and change your mangled piece into something beautiful? Or can only incredibly attractive rebellious celebrities who get tattoos from other incredibly attractive rebellious celebrities fulfil this particular fantasy?

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Another Tentative Attempt to List the Best Movies of the Decade

Keeping in line with the last update, here's a list of what movies I enjoyed the most from the last ten years, not necessarily those that were objectively best (No Country For Old Men made me sleep, as did all three Lord of the Rings movies).

Big Fish (2003)
Paris, je t'aime (2006)
Let The Right One In (2008)
Inglourious Basterds (2009)
Y tu mama tambien (2001)
Breakfast on Pluto (2005)
Ghost World (2001)
Anchorman (2004)
Pan's Labyrinth (2006)
Chicago (2002)
28 Days Later (2002)
The Incredibles (2004)
Hot Fuzz (2007)
Moon (2009)
Grindhouse (2007)
Moulin Rouge (2001)
Memento (2000)
Amelie (2001)
The Prestige (2006)
Oldboy (2003)
Donnie Darko (2001)
Eastern Promises (2007)
Benjamin Button (2008)
Little Miss Sunshine (2006)
The Aviator (2004)
Catch Me If You Can (2002)
Thank You For Smoking (2005)
Sweeny Todd (2007)
Spirited Away (2001)
Kill Bill: Vol. 2 (2004)
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)
Children of Men (2006)
O Brother Where Art Thou (2000)
Burn After Reading (2008)