Monday, February 28, 2005

Oscar Post-Mortem.

Ok, the Oscars are over. I sat at Mike's eating homemade garlic fingers (they don't make them in Upper Canada) and drinking cider. I don't know why, but for some reason "train wreck" comes to mind when I think of this year's awards.

It seemed a little sloppy. I can't decide if I liked Chris Rock as host or not. I didn't like that he introduced guests by insulting them. He kept it fairly clean, though. I missed the first 15 minutes because I thought it started at 9pm and Mike and I were watching "Arrested Development." So, I didn't hear all of the monologue.

I didn't like the whole "let's bring all the nominees onto the stage" thing. It made it feel like they were being picked for dodgeball or something. I didn't mind the ones that were presented from the audience, though. Good for Jeremy Irons for being funny after Rock implied that he didn't have it in him.

Ok, I'll bite the bullet and discuss the awards. I hated how Million Dollar Baby was directed. It was all so predicable and repetitive. It was like: "Check me out! I'm directing a drama! Shadows, darkness, and stark lighting: check, check, and check!" I thought Mystic River was way better. Fine, I don't care that it won Best Pic. I agree with Melanie when she says she wasn't all that moved by it. Neither was I. It was my third favourite. I knew Sideways wasn't going to get it, but it would have been a great upset.

Jamie Foxx, yup. Fine.

The Swank: worst acceptance speech ever.
False emotion + bland = reflexes contrary to swallowing.

Cate: Yay on Cate getting this. She looked gorgeous, her speech was humble and lauditory, and she deserved it. I would have also liked to have seen Virginia Madsen up there for a kick, but meh.

Morgan Freeman's awesome, but I hated this role. I think it's one of those we love him, let's give him an Oscar, anyway, situations. If it was that type of award, I'd rather give it to Alan Alda.

Meh. That'll do for my commentary. I was glad I'd seen all the best pic picks. Still, I have to see Hotel Rwanda, Vera Drake, and Closer.

Sunday, February 27, 2005

Oscar Picks.

Oscars are tonight, so I thought I'd post my picks. These are what I want, not what are going to win.

Picture
Sideways

Director
The Aviator

Actor
Jamie Foxx

Actress
The Swank

Screenplay (Adapted)
Sideways

Replacing One's Blood with Chocolate.

It's been a bit since I've updated.

I've been to Ottawa in the last week. Mike and I picked up Ro in Waterloo and drove to Melanie in Ottawa. It was cold and lovely. We went up the Peace Tower, Adrienne Clarkson waved at Mike, we saw Ian Hanomansing, the girls skated on the Canal, we got poutine at the "Pataterie Hulloise," went to the National Gallery, went to the Museum of Civilization, drank beer, played lots of cribbage and I even saw a bit of "Freaks and Geeks."

How cool is it that people skate to work along the Rideau Canal in the winter? It's so neat.

Big thanks to Melanie for hosting us for the demi-week. It was a big help and she was very welcoming. Yay Mel!

Oh, and on the way home we stopped in to Smith's Falls and visited the Hershey Factory, hence the title of this post.

Anyhow, I'll get back into the habit of posting and keeping my life interesting enough to post.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

The Birthday.

On my birthday, my classmate Lily drove Mike and I into the city. We wandered for a bit, I showed Mike the Capoeira school, we briefly visted Anders' friend Jan and her boyfriend Andrew and they kindly directed us about. Then we made our way towards Much Music. The Environment was very quiet, being Saturday, and much to my disappointment, Justin Timberlake was not making a special appearance that day. We had a good lunch at the Bishop and the Belcher, which no one will remember was the pub Mike and I drank at while Marianne enjoyed seeing the Beastie Boys live for the first time. Shadrach!

We then went to the Royal Ontario Museum (The ROM) and wandered for a few hours in there. I love museums, and I'm looking forward to next week's museum stalking in Ottawa. We didn't get to the Egyptian or Greek wings because it was getting later and Mike was getting thirsty. For those of you don't know, Mike's body and spirit begin to fade with an hour of not having water. We left and found a drugstore for water and first-aid tape to bind the already-forming blisters on my feet.

We then found a bookstore that had only text- and academic books. It was called Atticus and was very cool. From there we set out to find the proper restaurant for supper. I knew there was a Spring Rolls accross from the movie theatre playing Million Dollar Baby, but I wasn't sure exactly where it was. We found a Spring Rolls, but it wasn't the right one, and then we had to get on the Subway again to go south to the proper one. By then, my feet felt like bloody stumps. That happens...

Supper was great at Spring Rolls, as usual, and then we saw the movie. See review below. We caught the 12:30am bus back to the Hammer, and I was in bed asleep by 2am. I was sleepy after a quite eventful and satisfying evening.

This birthday narrative might sound boring, but no, my friends, it was not. Last year I spent the night before my birthday marking shitty undergrad papers all night long. I did eventually get into the city to see Mare, but I was dead tired. Oh, yeah, this year my classmates threw me a very casual sorta-birthday thing the night before. It was really sweet. I think I might just miss these folks when I leave. I won't miss them enough not to go, though, that's for sure.

Monday, February 14, 2005

Million Dollar Baby.

On Saturday I saw this film. I have a knack for choosing feel-good flicks on my birthday. Yup, this was a real uplifting piece. Um. I'm lying. Million Dollar Baby is not a heartwarmer. I'm lying twice, really, because I saw fucking Monster last year on my birthday.

The good news is, although this movie was pretty dark, I didn't want to throw myself off a bridge like last year. That is especially remarkable considering I'm a year older and not that much has happened to me. Mike and I had a discussion about the different kind of 'sads'. This movie was sad because bad things happened to the characters, but Monster is sad because it makes you think about what a shithole the world is. You must agree that one sadness is far more profound than the other. That's why The Pianist screwed me up in the head, leaving me loudly sobbing in a Toronto cinema.

Anyhow, on to Million Dollar Baby. The characters were only a little more than stock characters. The hardened boxing coach who goes to church, reads Gaelic, has an estranged daughter and a husky voice. The black ex-champ who lost his eye in his final match who is caring and tough and works as the janitor at the boxing coach's gym. Oh, and he's also got a husky voice. Yeah. And of course, the tough, optimistic and dedicated lady boxer who is set on being the best. They all love each other, but would never say.

A point that Mike made was, that the audience is not lambasted into caring for the characters. There was no pity elicited from the story or the direction, but they are simply there for your consideration. For me, that just made me not care about the characters. They seemed 1-dimensional. I don't like to think that I can only care about characters if there is some manipulative push from production, and I don't think that's true, but I couldn't really get behind these people. See my review of Sideways for related discussion.

I don't know if I have enough experience to criticise the direction, nor should I because it is The Eastwood on this one, but there were some choices that I thought were pretty lame. The lighting was obtrusive, but that's probably more the department of the D.O.P. The action sequences were good, though, to my eye.

Anyhow, in the end, I thought it was good. Good. I can understand why it was nominated for Best Picture. Swank will maybe win. The Academy loves it when actors beef up for roles. I don't know if Eastwood will get Best Direction. I thought his choices were contrived and cliche. It's 3rd on the list of the Best Picture Nomination films I've seen. Even though it's my 3rd favourite, it might not be the 3rd best. I recommend.

Sideways.

I went to see Sideways on Wednesday. I liked it very much. While it might not be the "Best Picture," and it certainly won't win top honours, it was my favourite of the Best Picture nods I've seen so far.

Sideways had that gritty, shaky feel you get in a lower budget film. It was a cool little story, but its strength was really in its characters. Paul Giamatti was a depressed schlub writer/public school teacher/wine aficionado who had resigned himself to live in his rut. He took his playboy washed-up actor friend for a week's wine-tasting tour in California as a send-off before his wedding.

It was all Giamatti. When the camera was on him, he barely betrayed his emotions, but you could see him panicking, or getting furious, or his heart breaking nonetheless. There's no way he's going to get Best Actor, bless him, but I loved this performance. The new everyman.

The movie was tragic and sweet and funny as hell. I laughed more in half of this movie than I did all together for the other three put together (I'll see Ray this week). There were performances from these actors that were subtle and broad at the same time. It was also refreshing to have a reaction to characters that wasn't manipulated with music or direction, but was totally dependent on the writing and the performances.

As it stands now, here is my ranking of the Best Picture Nominations:
1) Sideways
2) The Aviator
3) Million Dollar Baby
4) Finding Neverland

I saw Million Dollar Baby on my birthday. I will review both the movie and the day in a later post. I'm sure you're all on tenterhooks. Hm.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Down for the Count.

So, I went to the doctor yesterday because my knee has been hurting for about 3 weeks now. She pushed and pulled and manipulated and she came to the conclusion that I have fluid in the joint. She prescribed me a course of anti-inflammatories and ordered me off Capoeira for a month. That is half saddening and half a relief. I've missed a couple of classes now because of my knee anyway. I wasn't looking forward to going back to the pain, no matter how much fun it is.

No one had better dare use that last line as a quote out of context.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Solidarity!

So, they say strike while the iron is hot. Hm.

It looks like me and over 1000 other TAs will be striking by the end of the month. While I relish the idea of not doing work, I don't look forward to being paid half as much for spending twice as much time on the picket lines than I did preparing tutorials. Yeah. Craptastic.

There was a meeting tonight that Mike and I went to briefly. It was half interesting and half union propaganda. Yay CUPE local 3906!

I guess I'd better go mark next week's assignment now, before I don't get to do it at all! Oh, cherish these moments...

Monday, February 07, 2005

Part 1: And the Sky is Brown. Part 2: Sunday's Roda.

Hamilton smells so stinking bad. It smells like rotten eggs and really ripe farts and -- I dunno -- off meat.

There's a smog advisory today. There's been a poor air advisory for the last two days. It's so gross to see a browny-grey-green cloud over all the buildings in the city. Yesterday I went to Toronto and as the skyline came into view, we could see that the CN Tower was partially obscured. Later, I counted up the floors of a 35-storey building, and it was only the first 10 floors that weren't hazy.

But it's Hamilton that smells so bad. Toronto just had that dirty, dusty, summer city smell, but Hamilton's smog is a cap on the already existing stink.

I went to Toronto to go see the Open Roda at the Capoeira school. It was really good this week. My friend Anna played in the Roda for the first time, and the higher students did a really cool Brazilian dance called the Maculele. It's really rhythmical and done with sticks. It's awesome and I want to learn it, but if my heart threatens to stop during Capoeira, then it would straightup explode in my chest for the Maculele.

At one point the Roda got really aggressive. There's this one cocky beginner who is not bad, but I think he is known to be a dick. He started playing with Careca, who has a brown belt and is my substitute instructor. I don't know what the cocky guy did, but all of a sudden, Careca shoved him and kicked him in the ribs. This was strange because there's rarely contact in Capoeira. Then, Careca grabbed his neck, held him to the floor and started punching him -- once in the head, but mostly in the chest. They broke up for a bit and did a "Walk around the World," when the two opponents circle the Roda to rest or calm down. They rolled back in to the Roda and instantly collided and fell out of the Roda -- like through the wall of people. The Roda just closed up, people kept singing and clapping, and Careca and the cocky guy kept fighting outside the circle.

Then, later, the cocky guy was playing again, and one of Careca's friends went in the Roda, it got aggressive again. Eventually, Careca's friend picked the cocky guy up over his head and slammed him into the floor. It made a terrible smack.

At the end, Mestre Bola lectured us about controlling emotions. He said, amongst all other things, Capoeira is a martial art, so the only rule is, there are no rules. He wasn't saying that the game shouldn't get that aggressive -- that's totally fine, but he reminded us to keep personal beefs outside the Roda, and if you are superior to someone you are playing, you have an opportunity to teach the other person something. This means if your opponent gives you the opportunity to pick them up, you don't have to slam them into the floor to prove the point that you can slam them into the floor.

I remember watching Mestre Bola's Mestre, Mestre Barrao, play with other students. He could see every weakness in the player's game and would take advantage by kicking, but he stopped short before making contact. He knew that he didn't have to kick the student to teach the student about their weaknesses.

Wow, this turned into a Capoeira narrative. Huh.

I have to go mark a crapload of weekly assignments, read and prepare for tonight's tutorial. Awesome.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Feeling Better About Being Wretched.

Once again, Sex and the City has given me some insight. No, it’s not about pear-cut diamond rings or post-it notes, but this time about my single life.

I’ve been kinda sour this year at all the presents that my sister has been getting because she’s now married. She didn’t have a big wedding at all, and accordingly, she didn’t get a dumpload of gifts, but it’s the little extras she gets because now the Crown gives her tax credits. Nothing changed in her life except the fact that she doesn’t check the “single” box on questionnaires anymore.

I had realized before that this was petty and stupid, but now I see that it’s more the fact that I will not be recognized in ways that she is.

It’s not that I don’t want to celebrate when people I love have a big event, it just sucks that I’m out of the loop. Carrie wrapped it up very well. She was discussing how people get recognized for some of their life choices and not for others.

Carrie:
“If I don’t ever get married or have a baby? What? I get bubkis? Think about it. If you are single, after graduation there isn't one occasion where people celebrate you. ... Hallmark doesn't make a "congratulations, you didn't marry the wrong guy" card. And where's the flatware for going on vacation alone?”

Think on that. I have.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Finding Neverland.

'Pauvre moi,' dit L'Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

So, Finding Neverland was nominated for Best Picture this year. How hard up were the folks at the Academy? I thought there were some clever bits, but overall, it came out a little lame. I did, as always, enjoy The Depp, but ugh -- children actors can be so hit or miss. There were 4 child actors in this movie, so the odds were bad. Kate Winslett was ok, though. Oh, and Dustin Hoffman proved he had a Peter Pan complex by making appearances.

There were some neat parts where J.M. Barrie had epiphanies occur to him from day to day that led to bits in Peter Pan. I always like watching movies about writers. I like watching them quietly work and think. It's quite inspirational.

Overall, the look was pretty soft and green and summery. The Depp had a pretty great (to my ear) Scottish accent, too.

So, I'd say unless you're a big fan of The Depp, or a big fan of Peter Pan, I wouldn't rush to see this movie. Or, if you're like me and have only seen (now) 2 of the 5 movies nominated for best picture and you're one of those that likes to see all of them, well, you know the drill, then.