Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Leap Year.

Yeah, I saw it. So shoot me.

I have a lot of time on my hands, a valid metro pass, and $4 whispering at me to go to the movies.

Again, I went to the Rainbow Market Square, which has $4 Tuesdays. It's no swank cinema, but it serves the purpose. There are cool murals on the walls and a piano in the lobby. I guess that does sound kinda swank. It's not, honest, but I like its grittyness.

Also, before I write about Leap Year, can I admit that I am fully aware of the slippery slope on which I stand. I am dangerously close to letting this blog descend into me writing about cute boys all the time.

No joke, every day, I could write a missive about some new poor man who puts himself out there for me to ogle. I'm not proud of myself. I'd like to keep this a little more high brow, but I can't see that happening. I guess I shouldn't try to stray too far from my roots. If I've written about farting in yoga class, how can I start to have poignant political and philosophical discussions?

Because it would take effort?

Exactly. That's why I'm not going to bother.

I suspect getting twitterpated about The Lookers is too silly to be OK at my age. I should be worried more about mortgages and RRSPs and RESPs, not who's soaked to the skin in which movie.

As it is, I've got no job, no man, no kids and no money, so I guess this is an ideal pastime.

SO: Leap Year. Yeah.

I entertained the thought of walking out. (In all the scores of movies I've seen, I've only ever once walked out of one movie in the theatre, although there is one more I would have walked out of if I weren't restrained.)

The first hour was rough. Amy Adams is Anna, who is a persnickety cubed apartment stager whose idiosyncrasies are not endearing. Her boyfriend is dull but successful, and she wants him to propose. When he goes to Dublin for a conference without popping the question, she decides to take advantage of an old Irish tradition of women "being allowed" to propose on the 29th of February. She has a terrible trip to Ireland, and in her Louboutins, she's stranded clear on the other side of the country. She totters up to the local and the publican is also the cabbie! Har! Small towns are so funny!

She hires him to drive her to Dublin. She's got 2 days. He needs the money to save his pub. There are mishaps. Sigh.

Here's the thing: in this kind of movie formula, the Existing Boyfriend is supposed to be vile, but the Sweet Protagonist is blinded by love. Then she's supposed to think the New Guy is vile (and he's none too fond of her, either), which he might seem to be on the surface, but then, though a series of hijinks, they reveal to each other their fluffy puppy insides and fall in loooove.

In Leap Year, the Boyfriend's not so bad. In my mind, he just has some bad cell phone etiquette. Maybe I'm supposed to be appalled that he hadn't proposed, but I didn't care about that. That's probably because I didn't care about the Sweet Protagonist. There's not enough attention given to her in the beginning, and I wonder if more exposition was trimmed for some reason.

The New Guy (Declan) isn't so vile, either. I think he burped once, and ate a sandwich in a sloppy way. Otherwise, he's kinda stoic and regular. Well, regular if regular is the New Hottness.
I would be a full-on, stumbling alcoholic if he were the bartender at my local pub. You would have to peel me off the floor every night, weeping and mumbling about beards.

OK, besides me being profoundly distracted by Matthew Goode, I would have expected more from a romance being set in Ireland, too. I would never categorize this as a "love letter to Ireland." There were some very pretty scenes, but it was not the focus of the film. I think the filmmakers missed out on a bigger opportunity here.

I said the first hour was rough. It did get better. Sparks did start to fly and little frissons of breathless expectation did arrive, finally, but a little too late. I would have liked more of that earlier on, and more clearly defined characterizations.

So, I was not impressed, but I am going to draw a big heart around the initials MG in my pink poodle diary. I have lost $4 and 100 minutes, but gained some prey.

Monday, January 25, 2010

How Do I Put This Without Being Disrespectful?

Since when has that been an issue?

I'll try. Gene Wilder was damn good lookin'. Piercing blue eyes, perfect comic delivery, flaxen curls... fantastic.

Who might a present-day Gene Wilder be?

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Au Revior, Cone Zone.

Most who know me know I've long been a fan of Conan O'Brien's work. I became a fan of his pretty early into his time as host as "Late Night." The absurdity spoke to me. I liked Andy and Max and the perverse humour.

And this is really saying something considering his show came on at 1:35am in my home time zone. I can probably thank the Confederation Centre of the Arts for guiding me to Conan.* I worked as an usher for years, and getting home at 11:30 at night was perfect timing to get a snack and wind down watching Dave and then Conan. (And Bleu Nuit?)

I was 18 when I wrote to NBC to ask for an intern position. I misspelt Conan's name on the envelope. When my family and I got back from Newfoundland for Christmas, there was a voicemail for me from a guy whose name used to be in the "Late Night" credits (I think it was Chris DeLuca) of the show asking me to come down to New York for an interview. It was verboten for me to come to NYC, mostly, I think, because if I had actually gotten the job, I would have to live in the Big City with no income. BUT, I could have met Jack McBrayer, and possibly married John Krasinski, two former Late Night workers. I could have learned so much about comedy writing and mounting a daily show.

I was concerned about how Conan et al would translate to an earlier time slot, mostly because of the non sequiturs and absurdist comedy. I was afraid the kind of audience that would still be awake might not take to Conan's brand of humour.

Well, Conan, I give you a humble bow tonight. You're a honourable man, and I admire your integrity. I'm sorry that things ended so badly once you finally got to host the holy grail of comedy work, but thank you for not compromising. We know you always had your eye on that spot. You sported portraits of Jack Paar, Steve Allen, and Johnny Carson on the set on "Late Night." Well, the "Tonight Show" is not the end all. Conan has graciously reminded us not be cynical. Bless him, I say. He's proved he's a bankable writer and performer over the years, so he'll be fine. He comes away smelling like roses, and NBC looks like an incompetent, impatient boob.

It's just all too bad.

*It's not the first and probably not the last time the Confed Centre changed my life for the better.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Here I Go Again On My Own.

Well, this is a new one: I've quit jobs and I've finished up contracts, but I've never been laid off.

It's been no secret that I didn't like my job. It wasn't very challenging, paid me peanuts, and didn't pay me very often. In fact, I think it was 4 times this past year I wasn't paid for 6 weeks.

So, it wasn't much of a surprise that I was laid off this week. In fact, I was relieved and a little happy. The job wasn't good and the pay wasn't good or regular. I'm probably better off.

I'd been hunting for work all year, but now I've got more of a fire under me.


Sunday, January 10, 2010

Open Letter To Britney Spears.

Miss Spears,

I have noticed something of a distracting idiosyncrasy in your performances. It has to do with your lip-synching, and I think we should come to an early agreement that lip-synching is clearly a feature of all your performances, be they "live" (in front of a live audience, anyway), or on video.

The sound "ell" /l/ is not made by touching the tip of your tongue to the exterior of your upper lip.

I suspect (or hope) that this is a piece of misinformation you were directly or indirectly given early in your professional career. Maybe someone told you to exaggerate everything you do in real life by 20 per cent when you're in the spotlight, and it made sense to you to move your tongue from behind your teeth to outside your mouth.

It's clearly seen here, in your first video:

This continues well into your career:

You know, though, having a sort of Spears video retrospective while choosing the right illustrative evidence, your songs are tasty little nuggets of pop from my youth. Sure, it's not very nourishing. Your music is the Toaster Strudel to say, Dave Matthews Band's egg white omlette, but it sure does hit the spot from time to time.



General Comment not directed to Britney Spears: Toxic is an effing awesome video. It's super fun, colourful, high-concept, and it's a catchy song. I love the campiness of the flight attendants. I don't like the metal triangle covering Britney's business. It doesn't match the spangles and I suspect it would cut.

Monday, January 04, 2010

Oh, That Magic Feeling.

I was recently startled when I heard the original "I'm Looking Through You" in the opening credits of Ghost Town*. I can't think of modern examples of original Beatles tunes being used in movies since Ferris Bueller's Day Off, and in Can't Buy Me Love and those are from 1986 and 1987!**

It immediately told me one thing: Michael Jackson was having cash flow problems.

So, what I understood was: the bulk of the Beatles catalogue was up for sale in the late 80s. The Beatles didn't own what was for sale because of early and uncharitable deals with their recording company. At the time, Paul McCartney and Michael Jackson had a friendly (and recording) relationship going (See "Say Say Say" and "The Girl Is Mine"). When the rights to the music went up for sale, Paul McCartney couldn't compete with the kind of money Jackson was (then) rolling in, in the wake of Thriller and Pepsi. Jackson buying the rights to dozens and dozens of songs that McCartney co-wrote, severing the ex-Beatles' access to the royalties and ability to make decisions about how his music is used, (predicably) drove a wedge between the friends.

Then (again, from what I understand), Jackson jacked up the price to the rights to use the music so much, it was prohibitively expensive to do so, and Beatles music disappeared from movies and commercials. It would be nice to think that no one bought the rights to Beatles music out of an honour code over how hosed McCartney was over being bilked out of the rights, but it was more likely prohibitively expensive.

This was fine by me, since I don't like the idea of the Beatles' music being used to sell something. This is a major double standard on my part. Modern English's "I Melt With You" is great for schilling any number of products. Go nuts, Modern English. Bob Seger can sell as many Chevs as he wants. Franz Ferdinand? Good luck to you.

But not the Beatles. No. To me, it's like the Dalai Lama singing "I'd Like To Teach The World To Sing". They're too sacred. Too good to be sullied by mundane, ordinary, crass world of commercialism and consumption.

(I know the Beatles were not immune to crass commercialism - I do. I realize a good chunk of Beatles money was tied up in mop top wigs and lunch boxes, but I'm reeling from modern commercial developments, ok? Give me a moment to vent.)

It bothers me that it's not just Beatles' music advertizers are using, but it's the spirit of the Beatles. The Beatles are not just "The Beatles," a gifted band that broke up almost 40 years ago(!), but there's a complex social construction behind them; a unique brand, if you'll allow me (and I know Brian Epstein would), bound up with the spirit of the 60s, the lives of the bandmates, and advancing musical experimentation.

The advertizers get all this added icon bonus when they use Beatles music.

So, when Blackberry tells us "all you need is love," they don't mean it. They mean there's nothing you can do that can't be done if you have already purchased a Blackberry. They tacitly mean you can be as creative and trend-setting as the Beatles. You can grab a part of that idealised esprit de temps of the 60s. You can try hard and design and crunk and rock etc. etc. etc. to your heart's content - just like the Beatles! (Well, the rocking part, anyway - but please picture Ringo crunking nonetheless.)

At the same time, though, I'm thrilled, as always, when I hear a Beatles song. I'm torn that it's being used to sell me something as opposed to just the music for the music's sake.

*An excellent choice.
** No, I'm not forgetting about I Am Sam, a movie I did/will not see for a few reasons, one of which is the solid, wall-to-wall Beatles covers. I am of the opinion that Beatles covers are shadows of the original which ain't broke. (John Lennon did, however, say Anne Murray's cover of "You Won't See Me" was his favourite cover of one of his songs - high praise, although I miss the ooh-la-la-las.)

PS: After I wrote this, I found this post, saying everything I was trying to say in a much more concise, non-crazy, and creative way. Blast.

Friday, January 01, 2010

Head's Up.

For those of you in Toronto, the Bloor Cinema is showing Harold and Maude on Monday and Tuesday the 4th and 5th of January. It's a rare chance to see it on the big screen.

I love love love this movie. I used to find excuses to show it when I was a teacher. Death in Family Studies? Sure, that works. May-December romances in English Lit? Yeah! Buddhism's take on life's transcience in Religious Studies? Oh, yes, it's perfect. If I were teaching calculus, I would have found a way.

In fact, I thought this week, "When I get back to Toronto, I should watch Harold and Maude" again.

Wrapping Up.

As I started writing this post, symptoms of a major creepy naked virus took over my folks' computer and it's been at the doctor's for a couple of days. That means I missed posting one last post before 2010.

Oh, well - I totally missed commemmorating the 5th anniversary of this blog in November, too. I think, therefore, that blogger years are worth 5 human years, so my blogging age is in the reckless, careless teens. And I don't care. =scoff= "No, I will not post an image to illustrate my point. Yeah. I'm a badass. Check out how infrequent my blog post are. Yeah."


It's coming to the end of my time on PEI. Well, I have another 4 days, but that seems like too few.

It's finally started to snow here. It was a very green Christmas, and about 5 degrees for days. That was nice, I must say. There's meant to be nasty weather this weekend, though. I hope it doesn't mess up my flight plans on Tuesday.

I went to see Avatar this weekend. It is worth the hype. James Cameron is an amazing storyteller. I'd love to learn more about the technology that was developed to make the (considerable) CGI part of the movie so real.

I heard someone say that Avatar is the Star Wars of this generation. That might be overstating it a tad, but in some ways I understand why someone would see parallels. The scope of the world Cameron has created is like the world(s) we saw in the Star Wars movies. I don't know if there are continuing stories planned for Avatar, but that could help that comparison.

Now, having re-watched Episodes IV, V, and VI of Star Wars on the 24th, I am now deeper in love with the whole series. (It was the re-tooled versions with the superflouous tacked-on CGI, which was pointless. Am I being redundant much?) I couldn't watch the first three episodes, mostly by time constraint, but also with a nod to Simon Pegg's opinions on those first three episodes. I still like Episode III best of those new ones, as one can re-read here, in my review from 2005. If you go read that link, I think you're awesome but might have too much time on your hands.

Wow. This was a review of Avatar which spiralled out of control into another rant about how awesome Star Wars is. God, I'm lame. But, I'm probably the first blogger ever to write about Star Wars, right?