Friday, April 29, 2011

Royal Wedding Coverage

I wanted to come up with something clever and funny to say about the royal wedding but I couldn't think of anything that was that clever or funny, so I will tell you this instead:

I was awake in the early hours today and so could have watched the wedding on TV. I did turn it on briefly with every intention of feeling delighted for these two nice-looking celebrities from whose lives those twin demons, Loneliness and Heartache (not to mention their pesky cousin, Hard Work), will apparently be forevermore absent. But the twins were lurking in the room with me and quickly found their way into my all-too-bitter heart. So I didn't watch the wedding. I turned it off.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Studying For A Really Hard Exam

Studying for a really hard exam is the type of "who cares" bad day thing that it's socially appropriate to tell someone you don't really know about, but it is still painful enough to cause me to go to sleep feeling tense and have really vivid bad dreams. However, literally as soon as the exam is over, whether it went well or not, I forget about how painful it was to study for it. That makes it totally different than practically any other bad experience, you know? A new and better job doesn't take away the pain of having felt stupid and demoralized in your old one. A new and better relationship doesn't take away the pain of having been dumped in your old one. Those painful things become more distant, but you don't forget them like you forget studying for an exam.

So imagine if other bad things were like studying for an exam. Imagine if there was a guarantee that you only had to feel bad about your breakup for like three days or something, and then you'd have a new and better relationship right away. I bet you'd forget about the bad experience too, faster than fast.

Kind of makes me realize something, which is this: it's not the experience itself that was so bad. It's the endless business of thinking about it afterwards.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Your Highness

I think I said over here that I'd be easing up on the long line of movie reviews, but I LIED!!!! I just saw Your Highness which is out in theatres now, and I have to say that while it had potential, it ended up suffering from a severe case of what I'm going to call "Family Guy Syndrome," which is when a movie or TV show or something thinks that being crude is the same thing as being funny.

Your Highness is a comedy that takes place in the Middle Ages or some fantasy version of the Middle Ages, where there are all sorts of bizarre demons and castles and weird old squires. All of this could have been funny and awesome, but it very quickly degenerated into dumb jokes about private parts and the like that were probably funny to the 21-year-old guys to whom this movie was surely targeted, but nobody else.

This got on my nerves more than it otherwise would have because Natalie Portman and Zooey Deschanel were both in this movie, and if you've been with me for a while, you probably know that I always look for reasons to dislike girls like this because I am jealous of how good-looking and successful they are. In this case, I could totally see Natalie thinking "wow this movie is so funny and smart that they should have a course on it at Harvard!" and Zooey being like "wow this movie is so quirky that I'm going to put framed stills from it on the counter next to my Hello Kitty George Foreman grill!"

I don't know whether such a thing as a Hello Kitty George Foreman grill exists but if it does, I bet Zooey has one because she tries so hard to be a quirky hipster. I mean, apparently she even has a blog where she posts all this dumb hipster stuff like thoughts on life and recipes. Who does she think she is?????

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Have A Nice Day

I've been thinking about how strangers, acquaintances, and even friends always tell you to have a nice day, and how it's totally socially inappropriate to tell anyone you're not close with that you're having a bad day unless the reason is totally who cares like "I'm so busy" or "I'm running late" or something like that.

If you're having a bad day for some other reason than those, I mean like a real bad day, it's not even enough to be close with someone to tell them about it. You've got to be very close, like ridiculously close. I mean imagine getting right in someone's face who is even a fairly good friend and saying something like "my boss criticized me harshly and I shed tears in public," "I'm jealous of my sister's life," or "my ex whom I have never gotten over just started dating someone else and I am totally crushed." Or more generally, perhaps, "I feel fundamentally useless and dissatisfied," "I crave validation," "I wish someone would hold me and understand me so badly my entire body aches."

No, you can't just come out and say those types of things to practically anyone. I mean, it's pretty much mandatory to have a nice day.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Attention Deficit Disorder

I've been thinking lately about how loads of kids get told they have Attention Deficit Disorder because they don't pay attention in school. And I'm sort of wondering where one is to draw the line between having Attention Deficit Disorder and just thinking that school is boring.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Toy Story 3 and Too Hard to Find a URL's Oscar

The long saga of reviews on this blog is (probably) easing up for now with this post, since I have just seen the last movie that was nominated for best picture. Given that I was really not expecting a whole hell of a lot from a movie called Toy Story 3, I was quite pleasantly surprised that it was very well-done. I am actually tempted to say that it achieved the ring of perfection (which is a concept that I talked about here and here) because for what it was, it was just as good as it could have been. In fact, it was beautifully human, and it moved me, even though it was just about a bunch of toys. But still, it was a kid's movie, and to be perfectly honest, I was sort of like "OK is this almost over?" starting about halfway in.

Of the movies nominated for best picture, I basically liked Black Swan, True Grit, 127 Hours, and Toy Story 3, felt sort of ambivalent about The Social Network, didn't especially like The Kids Are All Right, Winter's Bone, and The Fighter, and positively despised Inception and The King's Speech (so much so that I wrote about it three times, here, here, and here).

As between the ones I liked, Black Swan was imaginative but not one hundred percent successful if you know what I mean, True Grit was enjoyable and Jeff Bridges was totally hilarious but it was nothing new, 127 Hours was inventive and cool and I basically have nothing bad to say about it but I wouldn't say it has the ring of perfection, and Toy Story 3 may have the ring of perfection but it wasn't as good to watch as 127 Hours. So if you could follow that line of reasoning which makes loads of sense to me, it's down to 127 Hours and Toy Story 3, which leaves me with the fundamental question: does ring of perfection trump fun to watch? Umm... not in this case, no. So if I were in charge of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, in addition to never letting Anne Hathaway near that stage, I would have given the thing to 127 Hours.

But the ring of perfection could trump fun to watch. Like if I were to give an Oscar for best picture I saw this past year, including ones that weren't nominated, I would give it to Another Year, which was also not as fun to watch as 127 Hours. But it was still one of the best movies ever in the history of the universe. That I've seen anyway.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

127 Hours

And now back to the endless run of movie reviews. You may be surprised to hear that I actually liked 127 Hours, particularly considering that a movie about a guy who gets his arm stuck under a rock for that amount of time and then cuts it off frankly sounds like horribly gruesome meets mind-numbingly dull.

But what has become of this seeming non-starter of a plot is really rather amazing. You get to see how this guy survives when there's no chance anyone will find him, and what he thinks about for all that time. And while I have said elsewhere (by which I mean here) that I was less than impressed with James Franco at the Academy Awards, I have to say he was pretty darn handsome in this movie, even while he was drinking his own urine and cutting off his own arm. Yes, that last scene was gruesome, but it was very well-done. It came closer to depicting real-life physical pain, from which filmmakers tend to try and shield us, than anything else I have ever seen onscreen.

And you know, this director was smart - and, I daresay, different from practically every other Best Picture-nominated director - not to make too much of a hero out of a guy who is really just a regular guy trapped in an interesting situation. And since I was a total douche to Roger Ebert over here, I will now attempt to make up for it by quoting his review of 127 Hours, with which I completely agree, in an admiring tone:

"He did what he had to do, which doesn't make him a hero. We could do it too. Oh, yes, we could."

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Happiness, Sadness, and Ordinary Things

I'm thinking of the way ordinary things - like a broken-off bit of sidewalk, or a billboard for a real estate agent -  look when you're happy: simple, straightforward, life-affirming. And then I'm thinking of how those same sorts of things look when you're sad, or maybe not how they look but how they make you feel: utterly alone, heavy-hearted, with a sinking feeling in your stomach. Maybe that's why it feels easier to just stay where you are when you're sad.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Winter's Bone

Obviously I prefer to watch a string of movies all in a row than study for any exams or anything like that, so you're getting a string of reviews in a row. If you're by any chance new 'round here don't be confused. This is actually an all-manner-of-mundane-shit blog, not a movies-only blog.

So Winter's Bone. I'm going to go into pretentious snob mode for two secs and say that I thought this movie was exquisitely acted and beautifully shot. And now I'm going to get out of pretentious snob mode and say that the story kind of made me feel like an idiot. This is possibly because it was so deadly slow that I had to concentrate pretty hard to even notice whether something important was happening, particularly since the exasperatingly suspenseful music never let up for a second. It may also be because every so often, a character would show up without having been properly introduced and I would just be terribly confused about who he was and why I should distrust him.

And oh, you better be ready to distrust everyone if you want to watch this movie, because everyone is trying to sabotage its spine-of-steel, supersmart, and superconfident heroine. My spine has a consistency a little closer to cheddar cheese or something so she's a bit hard for me to relate to but I can't very well complain about shit like that in every review, so I'll complain about something else this time: I'm frickin sick of watching movies that are supposed to be populated by "real" (read: ugly) people and pretty much are except for the heroine, who is like hotter than hot. I mean, jeez. If I were them I'd try to sabotage her too.

Friday, April 8, 2011

The Kids Are All Right

It is not without a touch of glee that I deliver the following statement: fittingly, this movie was all right. Not fantastic, not terrible. Which is a shame, because it had great potential. I can even tell you how I would have done it differently, if only I were a big-time director with a nice budget and sweet skills.

The story is about a family that has two children, lives in the suburbs, and is generally very traditional except for the fact that it is headed by a lesbian couple who each had one kid using the same sperm donor. The couple is played by a spectacular Annette Bening and Julianne Moore. I take my hat off to these two gorgeous and talented middle-aged actresses who really made me feel as though their anxious moms were women I knew. I hope both will continue to get amazing parts in youth-worshipping Hollywood.

Anyway, when Annette and Julianne's older child, a daughter, turns 18, she contacts the sperm donor and all hell breaks loose.

I'm serious. This guy shows up in the story, wins over the kids almost immediately, then practically breaks up the family by seducing one lesbian mom in a series of completely gratuitous sex scenes that I suspect were devised to encourage heterosexual men to like this movie. I would have had him win over one of the moms emotionally only. That would have been harder for the other mom to pin down, harder for her to oppose, but perhaps altogether even more devastating.

I also would have made this movie far less man-hating. I mean, there's a subplot about an affair between the sperm donor dad and one of his coworkers that has no purpose whatsoever other than to make him seem like a tool. And even the son in the family is none too bright; it's the girl who has all the brains.

Now I'm giving away the ending here but it's not that big of a deal because the movie is still worth seeing even if you know this in advance. I wasn't that satisfied with the couple's decision to stay together in the end because frankly, their relationship sucked from the word go. There's a bit near the end where Julianne Moore's character gives a speech culminating in the statement that "marriage is hard," as though that is a reason to stay in one that isn't any good. As someone who is very unmarried myself, I'm certainly not one to judge, but to be honest, all I could think was, "Yeah, if your marriage has no passion or intimacy, I bet it's pretty damn hard."

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The Fighter

I did say that I was going to try and see all of the movies nominated for best picture this year, so I am going to try and stick to that. So, here's The Fighter. This movie was good, by which I mean it was easy to watch and didn't completely and totally rub me the wrong way or anything like that. And yet, it wasn't perfect. Let me explain what I mean.

The story is basically about a pro boxer whose family, while deeply loving, is also completely crazy and includes a crack-addicted brother-cum-trainer, a ridiculously overbearing mother, and (count 'em) seven of the trailer trashiest-looking sisters I've ever seen. The thing is worth seeing for these actors' performances alone, because all expertly straddle the line between funny-outrageous and pathetic-sad, which I bet is not easy to do.

That said, the boxer himself and his cute bartender girlfriend kind of got on my nerves, not least because the boxer, played by Mark Wahlberg, seems pretty damn hot to have come out of that hideously ugly family. As for his girlfriend, played by Amy Adams, well, she just kept on stomping off and saying she was through every time her bf's family showed up and started acting like asses even though you knew she was nowhere near through, and the bf kept on like showing up on her doorstep and begging forgiveness just like he was supposed to.

This bothered me because I have recurring fantasies about all sorts of people showing up on my doorstep unannounced, and the only ones who actually do are various individuals, none of whom have appeared in said fantasies, who try to sell me chocolate-covered almonds, pesticide, and Jesus. This lack of fantasy fulfillment has a sordid tendency to prevent me from saying I'm through when I'm actually not but definitely should be. So why should Amy Adams get to live my fantasy just because she has a nicer ass, know what I mean? No? Well then, I suppose what I'm saying is that this movie wasn't entirely true to life. At least not true to my life.

Monday, April 4, 2011

On Sports and Sportsmanship

Baseball fans are better sports than soccer fans. They're also funnier, more colourful, and generally more pleasant to be around.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

On Coffee Breaks and Solitude, Part II

But then, coffee breaks aren't the real impediment to productivity, are they? Sleeping in, the Internet, and a perverse kind of solitude itself (what we call loneliness): these are the enemies of productivity.