Mo movies

**Warning – the following will contain spoilers. Do not proceed unless you don’t care about ruining your own viewing experience!!**

This week, my intention was to see the following movies: The Tourist, Tangled, The Chronicles of Narnia: The Dawn Treader, and The Fighter. I was planning on one movie per night at $5 each.

Well, first night, I go to buy my ticket for The Tourist, a movie I’m given to understand isn’t very good, and I’m told that Sony Pictures doesn’t allow the theatre to do the $5 deal on its movies. So I opt to see Tangled instead. I liked this movie! The animation was excellent, the voice acting well done, the songs were pleasant, and wow, the textures on some objects were just incredible! When I was a young lad, there were half a dozen or so animated Disney movies (Snow White, Bambi, Cinderella, Dumbo, Lady & the Tramp, a couple of others) and being as how there were relatively few, each movie sort of stood out. Now, there are many, many, MANY animated Disney films and each individual movie seems now to just be part of a tapestry. So although I did like this movie quite well, I doubt that it will shine more brightly in my memory than any other Disney film. Recommendation: Go see it. It’s good. :)

Because I ended up seeing my Tuesday movie on Monday, I wasn’t sure what I should do on Tuesday. See Narnia a day early? Substitute in another movie like Country Strong that was also on the nominee list? Ultimately I decided to see no movie this night, and instead go down to the church to see a guest speaker, Fr. Tony Ricard. More on this in a future post. Maybe.

Thus far I was 1 for 2, which is a really great batting average, but lousy pretty much everywhere else.

Ok. So then I hear from my friend, Betty, with whom I had been planning to see The Fighter, that she’d like to maybe see Inside Job on Thursday in lieu of or in addition to The Fighter. I’m down for a double feature so I decide to skip a movie on Wednesday and make it an early night so that I’m not tired on Thursday evening.

Thursday evening I met up with Betty after work and we went and got a quick bite to eat at Hero’s Sports Lounge. I had their happy hour pizza, which is about 9” in diameter. Filling! As we’re walking to the State Theatre to see Inside Job, Betty’s mom, Jan, decides to come see the film with us. Bonus! One more person participating in the challenge!!
Inside Job was a pretty good movie but just a little heavy handed for me. When I am being presented with information, whether in person, via the news, or a documentary, if that information is presented straight, without bias, I am perfectly comfortable drawing conclusions from that information. However, if the information is coming slanted, from a position, I feel it would be irresponsible to make up my mind until I hear one or more opposing viewpoints. To me, this is just part of critical thinking. So this film lays plenty of blame on all kinds of people and entities. And though they may be dead on accurate, some of the snarkiness in the presentation is off-putting and prevents me from just taking the film maker at his word. He clearly has an axe to grind and I will not just accept whole hog someone else’s point of view. The film maker points out over and over that this or that person declined to be interviewed for the movie. I think this is supposed to be an indictment of those absent voices, but I can’t blame them for saying no. There is zero upside for them; the best they can hope for is to not look too bad. Because the film maker’s point of view is that they are bad and I would fully expect him to edit the footage in the most damaging way possible so as to reinforce his bias. Mind you, I have no complaint with this as long as his bias is disclosed.

Next up, we travelled a few blocks over to see The Fighter. We thought that this movie was scheduled to start at 9:40 but it turns out that it was really 9:00. Zoinks! As it happens, we were right on time. Jan skipped this second movie but Betty and I took our seats during the previews. The Fighter was also a good movie. (I’ve been rather fortunate in my movie selections over the past several weeks. All fair to good movies!) I think Mark Wahlberg did a good job and Christian Bale did a GREAT job! Amy Adams was pretty good too. Definitely a different type of character for her. The characters in this movie may have the most annoying family I’ve ever seen. So mind boggling to think that this was based on a true story. I mean it, this family is awful. And they don’t know they’re awful. And that may be the worst kind of awful. At some points during the movie, I was so annoyed by some of the characters and circumstances that I felt like crap. By the end, I really came around to liking this movie. Just at the beginning of the credits, there is a 30 second clip of the real life brothers. This 30 seconds may just earn Christian Bale an Oscar. He nailed it.

So, final score: I saw 2 of the 4 movies I set out to see, but I did see a total of 3 movies. Ima go ahead and label this a successful week of movie-going. Word.

Some movie reviews

**Warning – the following will contain spoilers. Do not proceed unless you don’t care about ruining your own viewing experience!!**

I have seen three movies in the last week. I anticipate seeing many more in the weeks to come. There are three things fueling this prognostication.
1) Brenden is offering $5 movies Monday – Thursday, all showings, so it’s actually affordable.
2) It’s awards season and, just as happened last year, my friend Betty is engaged in an effort to see as many of the Oscar (and Golden Globe) nominated movies as possible prior to the ceremonies. And also like last year, I am joining her (at least to an extent) in that pursuit. So far, I’ve seen 10 of the 34 movies that are involved in the Golden Globes.
3) I’m not taking an evening class this semester so I have more free time than I’ve had in the past 6-7 months.

So, first, here is a list of the movies that I have seen that are up for a Golden Globe.
• Black Swan
• Inception
• The Social Network
• Alice in Wonderland
• Red
• Easy A
• The Town
• Despicable Me
• How to Train Your Dragon
• Toy Story 3

So I have two more Best Picture-Drama to see (The Fighter, The King’s Speech), and 3 more Best Picture-Musical/Comedy to see (Burlesque, The Kids Are Alright, The Tourist), as well as numerous other films that made it in other categories. I plan to see The Fighter and The Tourist (and possibly Burlesque) next week. Pretty good!

**Begin (potential) Spoiler section**

The first movie I saw recently was True Grit. This version is supposed to be much closer to the book than was the original movie starring John Wayne. In preparation for seeing the new release, I made a point of watching the original (for the first time!)
I enjoyed the original although of course it seems a bit dated now. But I liked this new version better. Westerns from the 50’s, 60’s, and 70’s seem to offer a sanitized version of the 1800s. The actors rarely appear to get dirty and never swear for example. I prefer the (theoretically) more accurate representation we get nowadays (but for all I really know, they’re just as romanticized and skewed as films of past decades).

On Tuesday evening, I went to see Black Swan. I didn’t really expect to like this movie; I was only seeing it because it’s on the list. I was surprised to discover that I really did like it! I didn’t know much about the premise or story before going in. And I’m not sure how much others know about what the movie is all about. If I’m NOT worried about spoiling it for those who haven’t seen it, I’d say that it depicts what mental illness might look like from the perspective of the person suffering it. That the sufferer in this case is a ballerina strikes me as especially true to life. I have known a few ballet dancers and while their experience may not be typical, this movie reminded me quite a lot of what I saw in them. I’ve had one friend opine that the cause of Nina’s mental illness may stem from an overprotective mother. It makes me ponder about possible associations between mental illness and ballet. Do those sufferers gravitate towards ballet? Can ballet push one over the edge? Is there a reciprocal connection? I’ve just known too many dancers who knew that they weren’t supposed to eat anything, who were pushed to punish their bodies for the sake of dancing, who ultimately turned out to have real emotional and/or mental problems. Yep, I am not a fan. But, like I said before, that is what I have witnessed. YMMV.

Finally, last night I went to see Tron: Legacy. One word: Meh. Like with True Grit, I made a point of watching the original TRON recently so I would be all primed for this sequel. I was sort of surprised at how poorly the original held up over the years. As I was watching last night, I found myself wondering if, in 20 years, we will think that these graphics looked cheesy and dated. Right now it looks pretty darn good; except for the CGI Jeff Bridges. I think they should have waited another 5 years to let the technology advance a bit. They still don’t get faces right. Olivia Wilde looked amazing though. All in all, I can’t see that this is a sequel that needed to be made. The premise of the original was pretty thin and this one isn’t much more robust. I still don’t understand why programs are forced to play games. Oh well.

Stay tuned….

How I spent my winter vacation

In case I haven’t mentioned it before, my time off work really needs to be down-time for it to do me any good. Upon returning to work yesterday after being off for 11 days, a coworker told me that she hadn’t accomplished anything (housework, cleaning, organizing, whatever) during the break. I replied that this sounded like an awesome break to me. I know plenty of people who use their weekends and vacations to go do all the things that they normally don’t have time to do. Even their stories of whirlwind travel, snow or water skiing, hiking, camping, running around, shopping, parties, and family gatherings leave me feeling exhausted. It’s a wonder they have any energy to get up and come to work on Monday. But, that is what rejuvenates and re-creates them. This is not me. I enjoy doing stuff but not nearly to the extent that these people do and certainly not all at once. It’s almost like my goal is to do so little when I’m off that I’m excited to go back to work. (Yeah, it sounds sort of thin to me too but let’s just go with it.)

That being said, I had a very relaxed and stress-free break; starting Wednesday, the 22nd. The boss told us to go home at 1:00 in the afternoon and we were only too happy to do so. For the entire span of my break, unless otherwise stated, I spent my time watching tv and playing LOTRO. I don’t remember what, if anything, I did on Wednesday evening. Probably nothing, which is perfect! Thursday evening I went to Camp 4 to see my buddy Aaron play his last Modesto gig before moving down to southern California. It was a pretty good show. The place was packed! I had a really nice time chatting with people, taking photographs, and enjoying the music.

The next day was Christmas Eve and by golly, I don’t remember doing anything all day. Until nighttime anyway. I was the sacristan for Midnight Mass. I also took some photos during and after Mass. It wasn’t as cold out at midnight as I remember it being in past years. Saturday and Sunday I guess I pretty much did nothing (SCORE!!).

Monday was a game day at the House of Robot Pets (HoRP). Ross ran Brandon, Jay, Kathleen, Mike, and I through a short little adventure that involved searching for a missing smuggler and dispatching some goons that were trying to muscle in on his operation. Giacomo (my dwarf bard) acquitted himself admirably.

Tuesday was a rather frustrating day. I had on my schedule: donate blood, take my friend to a movie using passes that I was to get from the blood bank, and play guitar for the first time in months at a home Mass. I went to the blood bank for my appointment and had to wait 15 minutes for them to open; always annoying. Then of course there’s the donation process. I do aphaeresis which involves taking my blood out of me, separating out the parts they want, and returning the rest back to my body. This used to mean a needle in each arm for about 90 minutes. Nowadays, it’s a single needle/arm but it takes closer to 120 minutes. I’d rather it be the first way. (There are other complaints I have about recent changes, but you’re bored enough already.) Anyway, after being there for 2½ hours, I went to redeem some points for movie passes only to be told that they don’t do movie passes anymore. Grrrrr! So I had to call my friend and, with 30 minutes notice, tell her we’d have to postpone seeing the movie. The upshot of the whole experience is that I am DONE with the blood donation thing. At least for the foreseeable future.
The only part of the day that went as planned and therefore well, was playing for the home Mass that evening. Turns out I haven’t forgotten anything about playing, although I have lost all my calluses.

Wednesday and Thursday must have been uneventful as I do not remember those days.

Friday I ran around paying some bills then drove to Copperopolis to do a photoshoot with my percussion group, Burning Sky Musicians. I think the shoot went reasonably well. As I was racing home to meet up with a friend (we had plans to see a movie), I got word that she was feeling ill and had to cancel. *sigh* I wasn’t having much luck with movies to this point. That night, I was in bed by 9:30 and slept right through the commencement of 2011.

Saturday, I finally made it to the theater to see a movie! My friend (from Tuesday) and I saw True Grit. I really enjoyed it! I had watched the original a week or so earlier and liked that version, but I liked the remake better.

The rest of the weekend was uneventful/can’t remember.

Regarding tv. I watched all of the first season of Magnum PI, most of the first season of Lie To Me, some Rockford Files, and various other things on my dvr and computer. Speaking of Lie To Me. I really like this show! It’s too bad that it’s on Fox as that network has broken trust with me. I’m not sure I will ever forgive them for cancelling Firefly. In any case, I refuse to watch new shows on Fox because God only knows if they’ll make it through even a full season.

Regarding LOTRO. I spent most of my playing time leveling my captain, Aluatis and doing the winter festival event. Good times.

So, dear reader, thank you for sticking with this lengthy post to the end. Feel free to leave a comment indicating what you think the reward for your perseverance should be.