Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Let's talk about movies!

I am a movie lover!

If you know me or are familiar with my blogging you will already know that about me. I love everything about movies and I often wish that I had the discipline to write about them more often. I entertained the idea of writing movie reviews/critiques for about 5 minutes and then realized that I would make a terrible movie critic because I enjoy too many movies. And I only want to write about the movies that inspire me to want to write about them which would only be a handful a year.

For me, the greatest thing a movie can do is to make me feel something; and the worst offense a movie can make is to be forgettable. Someone asked me what I had seen recently and for the life of me I couldn’t remember. I had seen something a week earlier and had no memory of what it was. While racking my brain to try and remember what movie it was, I thought to myself ‘Well it obviously wasn’t very good’.

I did finally remember - It was Admission. And here’s the thing, it wasn’t a bad movie at all. I was entertained while watching it but had completely forgotten about it by the time I drove home from the theatre. At least if it had been bad it would have been memorable. Sorry Tina Fey! You did your best with what you were given.

I once rented a movie 3 separate times because I didn’t remember seeing it. Even now I only remember not to watch it again because of that – I still don’t remember anything about the movie. (XX/XY is the movie just so you all know not to bother). When a movie is thought-provoking or inspiring there is nothing better than a good discussion with other movie lovers. And then, after talking all about it, I love reading reviews, essays, critiques, tweets… whatever – I can’t get enough! I downloaded a nasty virus on my computer in my quest for more on Cloud Atlas. (I was in the process of creating a chart for which character had the birthmark in which time frame. The chart never did get finished – damn virus.)

I don’t want to debate whether a movie is good or not. It’s arbitrary and subjective and we are likely going to have differing opinions and we should be able to respect each other’s differences. What I want to know is how did the movie make you feel? What did you notice? What did you like? What did you hate? What caught your attention?

As for a movie that is forgettable… well, I don’t think I could sustain a 5 minute conversation about Admission. But start up a conversation about a movie that got me thinking or feeling something and I could probably talk all day long.

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Simple Pleasures revisited

I first posted this in Oct 2008. I stumbled across it today and thought that it was still relevant enough to post again today.

Someone asked me this weekend what my simplest pleasure is. It took me a while to come up with my answer. I could have given a list of responses. The shade of pink Cooper's nose turns when he is feeling playful, a square of 70% good quality dark chocolate, a perfect cup of tea, a delicious artigiano latte, taking a deep breath of fresh air, standing at the edge of the ocean and looking out at the horizon, the absolute softness of Cooper's paws, crawling into bed between clean, crisp, cool sheets, a hug from someone I love, a good song on the radio while I'm driving, a sunny, cool day, the view from my corner when the ocean is as smooth as glass, reading a good book, the silence of a snowy night. What I take from this is how blessed I am to have so many simple pleasures.

What I ended up picking as my absolute simplest pleasure was watching the rain fall. When there is a downpour, I love nothing more than shutting off my tv or computer, turning out all the lights and just sitting at an open window to take it all in. I love the smell of it, the sound of it and how it looks. I can very easily sit at a window and watch the rain fall for an extended period of time. It makes me feel peaceful and content. It is for this reason that my dream house has window seats. I need to be able to sit right in the window and be surrounded by the rain.

Friday, 5 April 2013

R.I.P. R.E

I found out about Roger Ebert’s death via twitter. I had, just hours earlier, read his blog post from the day before about his cancer recurrence and taking a ‘leave of presence’. So Diablo Cody’s tweet, ‘RIP Roger Ebert’ came as quite a shock. I wasn’t prepared for the news and I instantly felt the loss. The next tweet I read simply said “the balcony is closed”, and the one after that said “RIP Roger, see you at the movies”. It all made me a bit teary.

I am not normally affected so deeply by the loss of someone I’ve never met, but fresh off of reading his blog post about slowing down (which is still 99% busier than I am at my busiest) it just hit me right in the feels. In the 24 hours since then, I have read numerous posts and articles about Roger Ebert and it has become very clear that a lot of people are feeling deeply affected by his death. The topics are varied but all of them boil down to the same core themes – his strength and determination in fighting cancer, his positivity and joy at being able to do what he loved to do, and his passion for both watching movies and talking about them.

Many people have also written about his kindness, his adaptability (he transitioned seamlessly to new mediums – newspaper, tv, blogging, facebook, twitter) and his relatability. He was a champion for films he believed in and didn’t care if anybody agreed. He unabashedly liked what he liked.

What I remember about watching Siskel & Ebert is how unpretentious they were in their movie reviews. Ebert talked about movies in a way that made them accessible. He didn’t talk about movies the way that film students are trained to – by analyzing and dissecting; He talked about movies the way movie-lovers are naturally inclined to – by what they liked and didn’t like and how it made them feel, and that is what I loved about him.

After every movie we see, my sister seeks out Ebert’s review of that movie. Sometimes she forwards them to me and often she just tells me what he has to say. It never mattered if we agreed with his opinion, we still valued knowing it. I think for Stefanie, it wasn’t a complete movie-watching experience if she couldn’t top it off with reading Ebert’s review. I know she will miss that aspect of her movie-going experience.

So, Roger Ebert, you will be missed. See you at the movies, I’ll bring the popcorn.

The balcony is now closed.

Saturday, 30 March 2013


Well that's annoying. I used a lot of white space in my draft - I'm a fan of short paragraphs when blogging. Yet, when I published, it just shows up as one chunk of text. That's going to bug me!

*Update* I learned how to make paragraphs!

Hello 2013

I have just learned, in a very frustrating way, that blogging from my laptap is going to be annoying. I keep accidentally hitting things that make whatever I've written, disappear. Aaargh!

Twitter has killed blogging for me. There are few times that I wish I had more than 140 characters to say what I want to say. And even then I am usually just wishing for 15 more characters. I've lost the ability to sustain a topic beyond 140 characters - it's terrible! The only other time I wish I had more space for posting something is when I am making a list - I really do love lists!

I am in the process of making a life plan for myself and one of the things on my plan is to blog at least once a week. So that is the new deal. Though, while I figure out what I am going to use this space for, it may be a bit lame to read. In fact, unless you are my mom or my sister, I don't encourage you to watch this space. And if you are my mom or my sister - hi, thanks for reading!

The life plan is an investment plan. It was my chiropractor's idea and the timing was perfectly right for me to love the idea. The plan is to do the things now to invest in me that will pay out in my future (near or distant). I have started to draft what this plan will look like for me - so far I have come up with a fairly intensive but totally doable 6 month plan. Once I have it more concretely mapped out I will share it on here.

Til then, Happy Easter!

Enjoy the sunny long weekend


Friday, 20 January 2012

My top ten movies of 2011

The title of this post is a big ol lie! This isn't a top ten list at all. It's a top twelve. When I combed through the list of movies I saw last year I starred the ones that entertained me the very most. Some wildly amused me (Bridesmaids), some kept me on the edge of my seat (Mission: Impossible), some charmed me completely (The Artist), and two fit every category of movie-going joy I know (Crazy Stupid Love and Drive). When all was said and done, my top ten was a top twelve.

This wasn't an entirely easy process for me. It never is. I am an easy person to entertain. As long as the movie isn't pure crap (I'm looking at you Bad Teacher!) I will probably find something redeeming and enjoyable about it. If for an hour and a half, a movie doesn't bore or offend me then I am likely pretty pleased to have seen it. For the record, the most offensive thing a movie can do is assume that the audience is made up of idiots. Because I am so easily entertained, I could have starred nearly every movie I saw last year. I tried to be more discerning, but I'm not gonna lie, I mean Footloose was really, really good!

My top 12 in a very loose (and not agonized over) top down order based on sheer entertainment value and enjoyment level:

#1. Bridesmaids
I loved this movie. It was funny, well written and fun from beginning to end. I giggled from the time it started until it ended. I had received free passes to see a preview of it and loved it so much that when it came out in wide release, I went back and paid full price to see it again. I have to add that my mom didn't like this movie and I cannot for the life of me understand why. Yeah it had some good crude bathroom humour but done in such a ridiculously fun and charming way. Yes, I believe I just referred to Melissa McCarthy defecating in a sink as fun and charming.

#2. Drive
Ryan Gosling, 80's sounding infectious pop music, hot pink titles, an intriguing story, creepy-cool visuals, car chases, shootouts, crazy unexpected bursts of violence, a scorpion jacket, and a sweet love story. This slow moving, character driven movie was compelling and thought-provoking. I wanted to see it again in the theatre but just never got around to it. It has been nominated for a BAFTA and I am hoping it gets an Oscar nod or two.

#3. Crazy Stupid Love
Again, Ryan Gosling, in all his shirtless wonder. As Emma Stone's character exclaims when she sees him shirtless, dude looks photoshopped. This movie is a triple threat, drama, comedy, and romance. A Dromancedy if you will! (I am more proud of that word than I probably should be). In terms of what I'm looking for in a movie that I wish I could experience for the first time over and over again, Crazy Stupid Love has it all!

#4. Footloose
Everybody cut, everybody cut, Footloose! Better than the original I dare say. Updated and less bleak than the original. And the dancing is just so damn fun to watch!

#5. 50/50
Aside from being a touching, heartwarming and ultimately uplifting film, this movie was enjoyable just to look at for a couple of reasons; it was filmed in Vancouver, so it was fun to see so much of our fair city (even if it was posing as Seattle), and it stars the adorable and talented Joseph Gordon-Levitt who is just a pleasure to watch do anything. This movie has the distinction of being the one movie this year to get me to do the ugly cry - twice!

#6. Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol
I'm not sure I took a single breath during the Dubai hotel sequence. Tom Cruise is crazy! My palms were actually sweating. It was interactive movie-viewing at its best! Without any 3-D tricks. I saw it on IMAX and I'm so glad I did. Also filmed in Vancouver (posing as ... everywhere!) it was fun to spot my neighbourhood! This was just good, clean, adrenaline-pumping fun!

#7. Hanna
The opening scene made me cringe and wonder what I'd gotten myself into. The next 109 minutes were thrilling and made me glad I was there. The story of a 16-year-old girl (the amazing Saoirse Ronan) who was raised by her father to be the perfect assassin, dispatched on a mission across Europe, tracked by a ruthless intelligence agent and her operatives.

#8. Moneyball
I didn't have much of a desire to see this movie. I'm not a big fan of Brad Pitt and it is a movie about baseb..zzzz. What? Oops, sorry did I drift off there?! Well, thankfully Moneyball is the least boring movie about baseball ever! I was enthralled and fully entertained! And Brad Pitt was, dare I say it, great! Jonah Hill ruled the movie and the side story about Billy Beane's relationship with his daughter captured my heart - so sweet!

#9. The Artist
I had to do a bit of smooth-talking to get my sister to go see The Artist with me. She didn't have much interest in seeing a black and white silent movie. As we sat among a sea of white-haired movie patrons waiting for the movie to start, I felt the pressure of having talked my sister into a movie that I knew nothing about, all based on one positive word-of-mouth review. What if the black and white silence is gimmicky? The movie began and, admittedly, it took about 10 minutes before I felt no longer aware of the 'gimmick' which wasn't gimmicky at all! It was charming and beautiful and entirely enjoyable.

#10. Midnight in Paris
I am a fan of the Woody Allen movies I end up seeing, which seems to be every other one or so. Apparently, I'm on the right track because I hear that every other Woody Allen movie is not very good. I somehow jumped on the right schedule! I am also an Owen Wilson fan, and a fan of Paris and charming time travel stories, especially when the time travel is into the character doing the traveling's favourite era.

#11. The Help
I struggled with putting this movie on my list. I read the book two weeks before seeing the movie and so it was nearly impossible not to make comparisons and see what was different. It's a mistake I will try to avoid in the future. Having said all that, I was fully entertained, if not a bit distracted by my brain. The cinematography was beautiful. I'm frustrated by two minor changes to the ending of the movie because when it comes down to it, they aren't really minor changes at all in how much they alter the message of the book.

#12. My week with Marilyn
Michelle Williams is a wonder! Having said that, I also struggled with putting this movie on my list. I enjoyed every part of MWWM, so I have no reason not to add it to my top movies. It's like the difference between an A and an A+ on a college paper; it did everything right, it just didn't go over and above for me. Other than Michelle Williams of course, she really is a wonder!

#13. Super 8
I didn't star this movie at all originally. I looked back over my list and wondered how on earth I could've missed it. Kids, aliens, Steven Spielberg, JJ Abrams. This movie was like the love child of Goonies, E.T, Stand By Me, Close Encounters of the Third Kind and Cloverfield - all great movies!

Ok, ok, so I snuck in a last minute 13th movie! Whaddaya gonna do?!

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Movies 2011

I wasn't going to do it but I am such a movie person and such a list person that I can barely stop myself!

I was able to compile a list of all the movies I saw in 2011 by relying on lists made by my two movie buddies. I knew that the list was going to be shorter than years past but I didn't really know by how much. Turns out it was a fair amount. I saw only 31 new movies in the theatre in 2011.

Because I am me, and slightly O.C.D. with my list making, I categorized the list of 31 movies 7 different ways: chronological, how many per month, by days of the month, by days of the week, alphabetical, from favourite to least favourite, and then my top movies of the year.

I won't bore you with the statistics (though I probably really will at some point) and instead just jump into the full list. My top picks for the year will be in another post.

Movies I saw in 2011 in chronological order

No Strings Attached
Blue Valentine
Cedar Rapids
The Adjustment Bureau
The Lincoln Lawyer
Source Code
Something Borrowed
Super 8
Midnight in Paris
Bad Teacher
Forks over Knives
Horrible Bosses
Friends with Benefits
Crazy Stupid Love
The Help
Our Idiot Brother
Ides of March
Breaking Dawn
The Muppets
New Year's Eve
Young Adult
My Week with Marilyn
Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol
The Artist

I saw only one absolutely terrible movie this year and it was Bad Teacher. Awful movie!

There were so many other movies that I wanted to see: Martha Marcy May Marlene, Margin Call, Beginners, The Trip, The Tree of Life, Another Year. But for whatever reason I just didn't get out to the theatre as often in 2011. I would like to think that for 2012 I'll be back in the swing of regular theatre going, but it is Jan 20th today and I have yet to see a movie this year!