Sunday, March 26, 2006

V For Vendetta.

Isn't Vendetta a beautiful name for a girl? Strong, exotic, and feminine at the same time?

Like most movies based on comic books, excuse me, graphic novels, V for Vendetta has that great live-action cartoon sentiment behind its images. Sumptuous or bleak, but nothing wishy-washy.

Natalie Portman is Evie, an everyman (everywoman?) in a future British deistic/fascist regime. The fact that her mother and father were imprisoned for subversive leanings don't seem to play a big role in her life. V is a shadowy, masked, sociopathic burn victim with a Big Ben-sized chip on his shoulder and a penchant for clumsily quoting Shakespeare. He "rescues" her from the Matrix and tortures/trains her in a weird catacomb of objets d'art and butter with breakfast. (The odd Stockholm Syndrome that follows creeps me out a little.) As effed as V is, he's more sociable than the Phantom of the Opera, albeit much more destructive.

V wears a mask the entire movie. Fine. That didn't bug me all that much, but it did get a little boring. Hugo Weaving "played" V. I pity this guy, who so effectively creeped me out in the Matrix trilogy, for being trapped behind a mono-expressioned mask.

This movie was meant to be released last summer but it was held over for technical reworkings or some such excuse. The accepted reason is that it was too soon after the London transit bombings of last summer to show a movie featuring systematic subversive destruction of an autocratic secretive British government.

While Vendetta was a cool movie, don't expect the pants-pooping effects of the original Matrix movie. The Wachowski brothers are responsible for both. There is only one scene that hearkens back to Neo besting agents. In Vendetta, V channels Tarantino while he turns a seemingly endless line of hapless henchmen into blood geysers. It was probably cool, but I had my eyes closed.

Despite (what in my opinion were) some little niggly problems, I really liked this movie. The spectacle of the last scene was worth it. No, that makes it sound like I suffered through the rest of the movie. That's not true. I enjoyed the whole thing.

Very Good Movie.

New Linque du Jour.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Proof.

Proof is the story of a famous mathematician's daughter, Catherine (Gwyneth Paltrow), trying to cope in the days after his death. She was also a math student, but dropped out of school when her father couldn't be left alone when he got more and more sick with schizophrenia. She seemed to have the same unorthodox methods of attacking mathematical proofs as her father (Anthony Hopkins); they both snuck around and took the back door instead of using popularly accepted methods.

After her father's death, she is afraid that she has inherited her father's illness. Catherine's out-of-touch sister sweeps into town for the funeral and gets too involved after years of not being involved enough. One of his father's grad students also enters the scene (Jake Gyllenhaal). He asks her permission to read through over 100 notebooks that her father complusively filled with proofs. He is hopeful that in his three years of illness, there were glimpses of lucidity where he might have written something important. The father worked obsessively on his notebooks, and believed he was producing groundbreaking scholarship, but his reality was severely skewed. In a heartbreaking scene that shows no doubt of her father's illness, her father forces Catherine to read aloud his new proof about which he is very excited:

"Let X equal the quantity of all quantities of X. Let X equal the cold. It is cold in December. The months of cold equal November through February. There are four months of cold, and four of heat, leaving four months of indeterminate temperature. In February it snows. In March the Lake is a lake of ice. In September the students come back and the bookstores are full. Let X equal the month of full bookstores. The number of books approaches infinity as the number of months of cold approaches four. I will never be as cold now as I will in the future. The future of cold is infinite. The future of heat is the future of cold. The bookstores are infinite and so are never full except in September..."

"Proof" was a play that Paltrow performed in London. Like Niel Simon's "The Goodbye Girl" adaption to screen, I like the tight dialogues, minimal scene changes, and economic storytelling. I was surprised by how much I liked this movie. I had read reviews that were lukewarm, saying it fell flat, but I didn't find that. Gwynnie was great. Her character was so angry. And Gyllenhaal played a great geek-chic grad student. For a long time, I wondered if I had a girly crush on this actor. When I wasn't watching him on-screen, I never thought he was all that great, but when I'm watching him, I'm always smitten. He has a great way of being present in a scene, but not out-shining other players. (I almost called him "The Gyllenhaal," but only The Clooney is great enough to be referred to with an article. Gyllenhaal gets no article. He's on the same greatness level as Depp. Depp and Gyllenhaal.) Anthony Hopkins was Anthony Hopkins. He sparkles in an Anthony Hopkins way. I am at a loss to describe him.

See Proof.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Coldplay.

On Thursday, I left the Moncton train station. I had a cabin, which was well worth paying for. It was a 14+-hour trip to Montreal, and I would have been crippled had I been travelling in a regular seat.

On Friday, my train arrived in Montreal at 8am. I had a 90-minute stopover (where I had a great conversation with a ViaRail employee named Carl, who taught me what a nid-de-poule is).

I arrived in Ottawa at about 11:45, where I met my sister. It was great to see her after three months back in Charlottetown. I was fairly sleep-deprived after my restless night in the little train berth, but still, Marilyn and I hung out and ate.

At 7pm(ish), my cousin Kris picked Marilyn and I up to drive out to the former Corel Centre, now the Scotiabank Centre (rolls off the tongue, doesn’t it?) to see our Coldplay concert.

I know some might be saying, hey, Catherine, how do you justify travelling to Ontario for a concert when you’re constantly complaining about being jobless and penniless? I say, call me Miss Sweet. Then I say, I dunno. Having no money, not doing anything and not going anywhere for months on end is fairly oppressive, so digging into the line of credit for a little therapeutic trip is worth it.

Back to reality (oop, there goes gravity?): Kristina, her friend Jen(n?), Marilyn and I all agreed that Coldplay wasn’t our favourite band, but we didn’t change the radio station when they came on and we weren’t sick of their music. That was our gauge. I think only Kris and I have CDs of theirs, and I only have one. We also agreed that Chris Martin was cute and it how it be a mixed blessing to be an unrecognized Other Member of the band.

Kris and Jen(n) went off to their seats, which were separate from Marilyn’s and mine. We were almost as far from the stage as we could get, which actually wasn’t that bad because we were almost at a 90 degree angle with the stage, so we could see the whole thing.

The opening act was on when Marilyn and I entered, and a couple of songs in, I realized I recognized the music. I told Marilyn that I had heard this guy on virginradio.co.uk, and then I said, yeah, I think it’s that guy who went solo after his band had a huge hit that I didn’t particularly like. You know, that symphony song. Ugh, what’s it called. And then his last song was “Bittersweet Symphony” and it was Richard Ashcroft from The Verve. Well, I still don’t really like that song, but his set was great. There were moments where he sorta sounded like a more rock ‘n’ roll version of Van Morrison. Is his stuff played here on commercial radio? It was good, anyway.

More than half and hour after Ashcroft finished, Coldplay finally came out. In the interim, about 5 joints were passed around us, and the middle-aged couple next to me seemed increasingly agitated. I liked the man, though, despite his armrest-hogging. There were some high teeny-boppers behind us screaming like banshees and the man and I exchanged a look, as if to agree that they should all be sterilized.

Coldplay was great. Martin was a little melodramatic, falling to his knees and bending backwards while singing (actually vocally impressive), and stalking around the stage like he’s the chick in Duran Duran’s “Rio” video. Yeah, that’s right – I just referenced Duran Duran. Deal.

I recognized a lot more of their music than I thought I would, and did enjoy the whole show. At the Brit Awards, they announced that this would be their last tour for a while, and they’re taking a couple of years off. I don’t know why I was surprised that I liked the show so much. I guess I just didn’t expect it to be so good.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Jibbly Jibbly.

I realised the other day that I no longer expect to see bugs. When I left Hamilton for the niceness of Kanata and Ottawa, I was still jittery about creepy crawlies. Sure, in Kanata, there were a few spiders, but they weren’t very threatening. Just icky.

When I lived in Hamilton, I used to enter a room and give it a furtive scan for insects. Black shadows on the carpet, in the joint of the wall and the carpet, or anything moving, period. If I found a creepy crawly, I would assess the situation by the bug’s levels of creepiness, mobility, and threat. I would then kill, remove, or ignore the thing, or, in extreme cases, call my roommate or leave the room.

I will grant that the two apartments I had in Hamilton were a) basement or floor level, and b) shitholes. Still, we don’t have House Centipedes on the East Coast. Jesus Christ, those things still make me panic.

Here, I don’t have to go through that. Sure, I’m chronically unemployed, but I never have to chase of those Jeesly lightning-quick House Centipedes. Jibbly jibbly.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Failure to Launch.

Beige. Blah. Some laughs. I guess.

Since when did wildlife slapstick have a place in a rom-com? It wasn't even all that 'com', and I was utterly disinterested in the 'rom' part.

Matthew McConnaughey's teeth were milky white, especially set off from his leatherface. SPF 45, Matthew, look into it.

Like Something's Got To Give, there was an extended old-man-ass scene. We all screamed "Ah, hell, nah," to Jack Nicholson's ass, why do these producers think we might change our minds for Craig T. Nelson's ass? Urk. Urk. Retch. And where's the self-respect? Their own asses as part of a comedy routine? Oh, no.

It wasn't funny, but it was ridiculous. And not in a good way.

Addendum: It's not Craig T. Nelson, but Terry Bradshaw. My unpaid but still appreciated editors Lisa and Jackie informed me of my error. I will not change what I wrote, though, as a pre-emptive strike against Craig T. Nelson bearing ass on film.

Whale Rider.

Please see this movie. Own it. I loved it.

It's a story about Paikea, a girl whose twin brother and mother died in childbirth. Her grandfather, Koro, is a bigwig in their small New Zealand Maori community. He is heartbroken because the eldest son of each generation traditionally carried on the lineage from the first Maori. That Maori was also called Paikea, and he rode a whale from the land of the ancestors to New Zealand. Left with only a girl as a descendant, Koro despairs that the connections to their ancestors are irrevocably severed, and although he continues to teach the community's young boys traditional stories and fighting methods, he becomes increasingly depressed.

Paikea is determined to participate in her Maori background, even if it is only "for boys."

This is one of those movies I don't want to talk about too much. Just see it. Tonight.

Keeping The Vultures At Bay.

This was a busy week for me. My Mum came home after being in Newfoundland for 5 weeks, I worked a couple of very long days at the Confederation Centre, and I started a yoga class. The yoga thing is probably the most interesting part of the week. Oh, and I applied for a stuntastic internship through Foreign Affairs Canada. With fingers crossed, I’ll be representin’ the heimat in universities abroad by the end of this month. Yeah, I’m really holding my breath, like I hold my breath for the other hundred jobs I’ve applied for in the last 6 months. Sigh.

I guess I should also report that in the next couple of weeks, I will be joining the jet set. Or train set. On the 16th, I’m taking the train from Moncton to Ottawa to see my sister and other assorted family members, see a Coldplay concert (!), and hopefully find my passport, which is (hopefully!) in an undisclosed location in my post-moving boxes. Even if I don’t get that internship, I really would feel better knowing where my passport is. I return to Charlottetown on the 21st.

Then, on the 28th, I’m off to Ottawa again. This time to help Mum and Dad drive a car back home. Hot dog. Well, it’s good because I’ll be able to bring back some of my gear. Like, my computer and some clothes! When I came home for Christmas, I only had one suitcase, and I’m getting pretty sick of the five sweaters I brought back with me. So’s everyone else.

So, here’s the glorious return to blogging. This should give my readers (fans?) their fix for a few more days. I was at a support group meeting on Saturday night and these readers had the shakes. Calmez vous, mes p’tits moufettes. (Yeah, I know. But it sounds cutesy, though, doesn’t it?)

Oscars Post-Mortem 2006.

Ahh, Oscars.

I have to write this commentary before the memories fade more than they already have. The Oscars are like that – a toothsome little nugget of indulgence that tastes sweet but makes one feel a little sickly after consumption. Ok, that’s editorializing. It’s not that bad. I see it more like a trivia source, and a good source of Clooney-watching.

Speaking of Clooney (don’t mind if I do!), this Oscars started very Clooney-strong. And I’m not even talking about his early Oscar win for Syriana, but his appearance in the Jon Stewart intro reel. Clooney… in bed with Jon Stewart… can’t process awesomeness… KABOOM!!! (um, that was the sound of my head exploding).

Yes, Crash was a nice surprise, but as I wrote in the previous post, I liked all 4 of the best pic picks, so I wouldn’t be disappointed if any of them won. On cbc.ca, one the commentators wrote that the theme of the evening was “racism is bad, y’all!” Yeah, that works. Crash as best picture, Richard Pryor with the place of honour on the “they’re dead” reel, Clooney’s somewhat clumsy Hollywood’s American Anti-Apartheid reference, and then Jon Stewart reminding everyone that thanks to Hollywood, there is no longer any hatred in the world. Well played, sir.

WTF with Charlize Theron’s dress? I thought it was a mess, but Joan Rivers (a name I never thought would appear on my blog) said in person, it was stunning. And she’s not forthcoming with compliments, is she, seeing's as she black and rotten on the inside. On TV it looked black, but apparently it was dark green. Does that mean in real life that fucking great teratoma on her shoulder didn’t look like a fucking great train wreck? Well, I didn’t see it in real life. I saw it on the TV, and it was a train wreck. Consider your audience, Charlize. Oh well, at least she didn’t look orange this year.

As for dresses, it was all Jennifer Lopez and Salma Hayek. Amazing.

Heath Ledger: please shave. It doesn’t work on you. Who do you think you are? Depp? You are not Depp.

Will Smith is awesome.

Grown men: don’t carry around plush penguins. Not becoming.

Michelle Williams… I don’t know where to start. Gasp-worthy. And not in a good way.

And... scene.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Abbreviated Movie Appendix.

I’m stoked, of course, about the Oscars tonight. I know sometimes they’re “unfair” and have the nasty habit of awarding statues to actors not for the role nominated, but for some perceived slight from years past. It's one of those bittersweet traditions where you watch rich people being rich and not living up to your (oh-so-qualified) artistic expectations. It's a total spectacle and I'm totally all for it, which is just what people expect of me. I've been unhappy with the last few years' Oscars.

Not tonight, though. We’re going to see Clooney, and a lot of Clooney. Even if he doesn’t win (which he probably will just on odds), there’s be a camera crammed into his face each time they open an envelope. His beautiful, smile-lined, studly face. Clooney.

I already said that I’ve not seen all 5 best picture pics, so I can’t do a complete ordering, but here, out of four, is the order where I’d put my favourite movies.

1) Brokeback Mountain
2) Good Night, and Good Luck (pushed to #2 because of obvious reasons)
3) Crash
4) Capote

I was speaking with Sobia in Windsor earlier today, and I mentioned that this year, there’s not one movie that I’d be disappointed if it won (or some comment that’s more grammatically clear). It’s not like last year, where I was confused by the forgettable Finding Neverland being nominated for best pic. (Depp’s spell on the Academy? {Boy, I would have loved if he’d won Best Actor in the role of Captain Jack Sparrow!})

Maybe a movie retrospective in honour of the Oscars tonight? Sure. I’ve had this blog for about 16 months, so I’ve had some opinions on movies. Reading over some of them, I wasn’t always very focused on reviewing the movie itself. Ah well. I usually italisize movie titles, but for the sake of sparing you vertigo, I'll forgo.

Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
Sideways
Donnie Darko (Gyllenhaal!)
Fever Pitch anticipation
Jimmy Fallon Anonymous Meetings
Fever Pitch
Clooney. I mean, Ocean’s Twelve
Ginger Snaps / Scary Movies/ Welcome to Collinwood
Walk the Line / The Squid and the Whale / Syriana / O Brother, Where Art Thou?
Newest P&P
Birth / New Goodbye Girl / Monsieur Verdoux
HPIV
Stay
The 40-Year-Old Virgin
What the Bleep Do We Know / Star Wars III: Revenge of the Sith (The first time I saw it)
Star Wars III: Revenge of the Sith (Second time.)
Dodgeball / I Robot
Million Dollar Baby
Phantom of the Opera
The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou
Spanglish
Back to the Future