oxymoron67: (Default)
Today, I went to the Museum of the Moving Image for a Short Subject Documentary Festival.

All the docs were directed by Michaelangelo Antonioni (director of Blow Up, among other things) and done at the very beginning of his career -- most were done in the mid- to-late 40's.

They were introduced by a film scholar from Yale whose specialty is early-Soviet era documentaries. His talk was informative and interesting, but about five minutes too long.

Of the docs, the most interesting for me were:

People of the Po River. This was Antonioni's first film, about the people who live in Italy's Po River valley. It was produced in 1943, a time of hardship (WWII and all), but I got the feeling that the grinding poverty the movie showed was there before the war. Life on the river was hard: either you hauled things along the river in a barge that also served as the family home or you were a fisherman on the marshes, which flooded with every storm.

Grim.

Superstition: This was about, well, superstitions in rural Italy.

N. U.: This was about street sweepers: they're lives as street sweepers and garbage pickers. One group had a small pig farm, and the pigs fed on, among other things, the trash that had been collected.

The one about photo-stories. In the 40's and 50's in Italy, lots of people bought magazines featuring actors and actresses photographed while the story played out. This doc (whose name I forget) discussed how these magazines were made, that ir would take over 200 photos to tell some stories, and it discussed the life of one the male stars, who did this on the side, but was also a mechanic.

I didn;t get to see all of the documentaries, I had to leave early because I couldn't stop coughing and didn;t want to disturb the other moviegoers, but still, an interesting way to spend an afternoon.
oxymoron67: (Default)
I started out yesterday wanting to do two things:

1) See the Irish Hunger Memorial
2) Go to The Skyscraper Museum

They're both in the same part of town, so I thought it was possible.

Things went wrong.

1) Construction on the subway system led to delays.
2) As I got off the subway to connect with the M22 bus, I ended up in the middle of a protest march. It was a pro-union protest march. But since the street was blocked, no bus.

I don't know that part of town well, so I just went to a nearby Starbucks to wait for the thing to end.

3) After the march ended and the buses started running, I hopped on the bus, figuring that I had about a half hour drive to my destination.

4) A half hour later I was at the last stop, on the Lower East Side by FDR Drive.

This was not where I was supposed to be. I got the right bus... but going the wrong way.

Now, I'm not upset. I think of my weekend excursions to museums and monuments as adventures, and when things go wrong, I just shrug it off. It's the weekend, I'm not going to be upset because I have no sense of direction.

It's far, far too late to get upset over my lack of direction sense.


5) So, I had to wait for the next bus. I got on it, but by then, with all the delays, it was after 2:00 pm, and I didn't think that I could do what I wanted to do, so I got off at the subway station and headed for Times Square, to see a few movies.

I hadn't been to the movies in a few weeks.

I saw three: Death at a Funeral, Kick Ass and Oceans

The theaters worked for me: as one movie ended the next started within a half hour. Long enough to buy a ticket and run tot he restroom and pick up a snack if I wanted to, but not too long.

Ideal.

I liked all three, but thatll be a separate post.

6) Then, as I got out of Oceans, well, the bomb at Times Square thing.

All in all, an action packed day. No one needed the car bomb mess, though it was handled well.

Despite that I still had fun.

Movies!

Jan. 11th, 2010 08:52 am
oxymoron67: (Default)
I saw two movies over the weekend: Young Victoria and It's Complicated. Both were good, but not without problems.

Young Victoria
I thought Emily Blunt did a good job in the title role, as did Rupert Friend as her eventual husband, Prince Albert of Coburg, although he had to overcome some really unfortunate facial hair choices.

I guess my problem is that I already knew most of this story, and, honestly, the script did descend into clicheville sometimes.

Still, the performances were good and if you like a costume drama, you'll like this.

It's Complicated
The three leads, Meryl Streep, Alec Baldwin and Steve Martin were all excellent. They were very well cast and the chemistry between Streep and both men really clicked. John Krasinski also did a really great job, holding his own as the fiance of Streep and Baldwin's eldest and as the one who sees them in the hotel.

Streep's set of girlfriends? Kind of dull. Frankly, her pals in Mamma Mia were more fun.

The story moves at a nice pace; the main actors are great... but the actors cast as Streep and Baldwin's kids? They annoyed the Hell out of me.

They were whiny, whiny, whiny. At one point, the three of them were huddled on a bed together in their pajamas being all pathetic and big eyed. The youngest here was maybe eighteen.

This struck me as very, well, immature. I *NEVER* did this sort of thing with my siblings.

In fact, it made them all look about eight.

They bugged me.
oxymoron67: (Default)
Background information: when my grandmother died, my cousin the priest gave the eulogy. He said something like, "I read a story about someone who had a vision of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Mary took him aside and told him all of his faults, but he knew she loved him. That's what my Aunt Bid was like. She always let you know when you were out of line, but she always loved you."

My brother and I were talking about Purgatory last night.

Him: You know they'll just have grandma follow us around berating us for everything we did wrong.
Me: Totally. She'd be in Heaven and we'd be doing Penance.
Him: She'd be all 'Do you remember this? What were you thinking? Jesus wept!'
Me: I'd get in trouble with the Purgatory Bureaucracy though.
Him: Why?
Me: Remember how grandma used to tell stories? You know half the things she'd say would be like 'What were you thinking when you and who's-its were at the place doing what you did?"
Him: That sounds just like her.
Me: And I'd say 'You have to be more specific. I... don't know what you're talking about.' And suddenly, St. Jude would have to intervene as grandma would be chasing me across Purgatory.
Him: Then she;'d do that thing where she'd list every single family member before coming to you.
Me: I hated that. She'd start, and you knew you'd be there for five minutes before she hit your name, then she'd start lecturing.
The scary thing is that grandma could say "Remember when Sean and who's-its were at the place ..." and mom would totally know what she was talking about.
Him: I couldn't do that.
Me: Me neither. I never was fluent in grandmother.
------
Later we were talking about the movie 300.
Him: I only lasted about forty minutes.
Me: Really. All those men in leather speedos and fetching red capes did nothing for you?
Him: Why weren't they wearing body armor? Did they think they'd just dazzle the Persians with their six-packs?
Me: Their manscaped six-packs. Sparta had body waxing, but, from the looks of the hair on the men, no hair conditioner.
Him: I just couldn't do it.
Me: So you missed Xerxes' entrance?
Him: Yes.
Me: That's too bad. HE's seven feet tall and in a gold lame speedo. He is FABULOUS.
Him...
Me: This is the gayest action movie ever.
oxymoron67: (Default)
I was out and about all day today, saw two movies and had adventures in public transportation.

Movie #1: Humpday
A married man, living a comfortable maybe even a little staid life, is awoken in the middle of the night by the arrival of his living-the-Bohemian-lifestyle roommate from college. Hijinks ensue.

Okay, we've see all sorts of variations on this theme, but this one is new to me: the Bohemian dude and the middle class dude end up at this party where everyone is talking about doing pornos for a local amateur porn festival. Well, the two guys get drunk and a little high, and one thing leads to another and suddenly they, two striaght guys have basically dared themselves into doing a porno with one another.

There is all sorts of potential for interesting things to happen here, and most of it was wasted. The wife just kind of says "Go for it. Get it out of your system" with no apparent fear that the husband won;t be coming back or knowledge that the husband wonlt go through with it.

And the dudes: there was an awful lot of slapping going on for my tastes. I don't smack anyone around like that, playfully or otherwise. I'm guessing that this was supposed to be some statement about masculinity and heterosexuality in men, but it was just kind of dull.

Movie #2: Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen
From the cartoon show: does anyone remember if the leader of the Decepticons, Megatron, had an uber-boss? I don't recall that, so all through the movie I thought of that Decepticon as Darth Transformer.

This was loud and stupid. And those were its best qualities. I may now have to see G.I. Joe just to see which is worse.

Adventures in public transportation, in convenient letter form.
Dear guy in really short shorts,
Underwear is your friend. Well, okay, maybe not YOUR friend, but it is the friend of all those around you. We did not need to see your nutsack banging against your inner thigh on the bus.

I don't care what kind of underwear you choose: boxers, briefs, g-string... it's not my problem. But for the sake of the city of New York please choose one of them.

Thanks,
Your fellow public transportation using public

Dear lady in the halter top,
Several things, actually:
1) Interesting tattoo. Do the eagle's talons each encircle one of your nipples, because that's what it looks like you're going for.

2) I know it's a halter top, but WEAR A BRA. Free range boobies can be problematic in real shirts, but in halter tops? Well, to quote my sisters "Those breasts just look like two dead fish." Which is what I thought every time the bus hit a pothole and they started flopping around.

3) Just so you know, between the tattoo and the halter top, you were radiating skank. If that was the look you were aiming for, congratulations. If not, you might want to consider covering up.
oxymoron67: (Default)
It was good, silly fun.

Spoilers ahoy. )
oxymoron67: (Default)
*Contented sigh*

It started snowing about two hours ago. We're expecting about a foot here in NYC, so I decided to extend my vacation and take Monday off. I'll do some cleaning, and lounge around the apartment.

I saw two more movies today.

Under the Sea

This is a documentary about the creatures that inhabit the coral reefs (including the Great Barrier Reef) off the coasts of Australia and Papua New Guinea. Towards the end, the shift focus to the seas off the coast of Southern Australia.

It was in 3D Imax, so I had to get special glasses. Because I have a mutant huge head, the glasses didn't fit right. Weirdly, when I wore the "properly", they pinched my nostrils shut, which, as you can imagine, made breathing difficult. But, when I adjusted the glasses, the three dimensional effect got blurry around the edges.

Also, Jim Carrey narrated. While his voice didn't annoy as much as I thought it would, the whole time I was thinking "His voice is just wrong for this kind of voiceover work."

It was beautifully shot-- the shots routinely took my breath away, and is totally worth seeing. Just make sure the glasses fit right.

Then I went to see Coraline

WOW!

Great fun: a wonderful movie. Oddly, I also saw this in 3D, but THESE glasses didn't bother me the way the Imax 3D glasses did.

If you haven't seen this in 3D, do go see it.

A friend of mine complained that "Coraline, like Harry Potter, relied too much on friends to defeat the bad guys,"

I do not understand this complaint in either case, but especially in Coraline's. I think it's just a stupid remark.

After this, I went to high end grocery store, and bought cheese and crackers, two mini-quiches made on the premises (the brie and caramelized onions one was delicious. I'll let you about the other one tomorrow.) Mmmmmm.
oxymoron67: (Default)
First off, the movie.

Two friends and I went to see Man on Wire, the documentary about Philippe Petit's tightrope walk between the two World Trade Center towers.

It's excellent. Petit himself is a character. He's a performer at heart and it adds a certain liveliness to the film which documentaries sometimes don't have. The scene about the hide and seek with the security guard is a blast.

The film itself .. with sections in French, but subtitled in English... starts with Petit and his team getting into the tower, then goes into flashback mode, interviewing Petit and members of his team, who discuss the events leading up to the tightrope walk, including Petit's tightrope walks between the spires of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris and his tightrope walk on a bridge in Sydney Australia.

The planning for the walk was incredibly detailed and, frankly, it's kind of amazing that it happened at all.

Finally, after the successful walk, the team, who were mostly friends, scatter. The relationships end. I wish they had spent more time discussing this. I guess it makes sense.... these folks had concentrated so hard and so long on one goal that by the time that goal was completed, they had nothing left for one another. That's kind of sad.

Go see it if you get the chance.

Now, the book.

Basilica: The Splendor and the Scandal: Building St. Peter's by R. A. Scotti

I paid less than five dollars for this book, and it was worth every penny. There are apparently some historical errors in the book, but they aren't the type that get in the way of the story.

As a history buff, I should probably be more upset that these inaccuracies (things about construction) but the book isn't really about construction techniques. It's about the personalities involved, from the popes, like Julius II to Paul III to Sixtus and the artisans and architects like Michelangelo, Bramante, Raphael, and Bernini. These personalities, many of them larger than life, figured into the history of the period.

The author makes the claim that the construction of St. Peter's -- built on the site of the original St. Peter's, built under the Emperor Constantine-- was partially responsible for the Reformation, since the selling of indulgences helped with early stages of construction. It is interesting that Scotti seems to hold Julius II, the pope who started construction of the basilica, in greater esteem than most. In her book The March of Folly, Barbara W. Tuchman criticizes Julius II severely. Scotti seems to save up most of her censure for the Medici popes, Leo X and Clement VII; not without reason.

Of all the popes mentioned, I found Sixtus V to be the most interesting. Though he did not come to power until almost 60 years after the Sack of Rome (which happened because of the inept politics of the Medici Pope Clement VII), Sixtus V found rome to be a total mess, a city in ruins with no reliable source of clean drinking water. Yet, in his nrief, five year reign, Sixtus V rebuilt the city and its infrastructure and restarted the St. Peter's project. (Also, Sixtus V started life as a swineherd. And then became pope. There's a rags to riches story for you.)

As for the artists, while some time is spent describing the personalities of each one, most of the description is done through exploring their relationships with the various popes and with each other. I found the popes to be more interesting, maybe because of all the political tricks they played.
oxymoron67: (Default)
I thought it was good... not as spectacular as a lot of people seem to think, but good.

Opinions and stuff. )
oxymoron67: (hypnobasset)
To escape the heat and especially the humidity, I spent a great deal of time in theater this weekend. I saw four movies. Herein, my thoughts on Get Smart, The Incredible Hulk, Wanted and Prince Caspian.

Spoilers ahoy! )
oxymoron67: (Default)
So, I had this week off (which I why I've been uncharacteristically silent: no internet.), and immediately converted from my normal "get up at 6 am" schedule and am now on a "go to bed at 3 or 4 in the morning" thing, which is problematic, as I have to be up at 6 am for work. This morning wasn't pretty.

Today has been awfully annoying, and here's why:

1. Motion sensitive lights in the hallway are off, making where I work kind of creepy.

2. I've been fielding phone calls all day from students who want to register for some biology course or another. I can't help them with this because, well, I teach speech and ESL.

3. We share one of the labs with our immigrant outreach program. By and large, they're nice people -- with one notable exception, but she isn't involved in this-- but their talking about students recording themselves and saving these recordings. They're complaining about the time constraints. (If you take a flash drive, and go from machine to machine, less than 10 minutes.) Since I shot down the "we're just not able to work with this technology" argument, my guess is the next one will be something along the lines of "our people are too busy, can your people do it?" Which will cause trouble.

4. I've been trying to find the hard copy of this year's goals, so I can write up my report -- and start organizing things for a possible promotion. Alas, I can't find it. It's not that I didn't meet my goals, I know I did. I'd just like to know what they are. The only one I remember is the wildly offensive "execute your job with excellence".

Meantime, I'm teaching SAT test taking skills again, and, only two sessions is, I was called mean. Here's what happened, you decide:

Me: When you see a long reading, like this one on page 53, read the little blurb at the top and move onto the questions, so let's turn the page.

(No one turns the page, all are busy reading the selection.)

Me: FOLKS! (Everyone looks up at me.) I've seen your reading scores. They're not that good, you can't afford to be ignoring me right now.

Student: That was mean.

Me: I prefer "bracingly honest."

By and large, though, I like this class. They're serious enough, even the two who I refer to as "thug lite": all the clothes, none of the attitude.

Anyway, among other things I did during my week off, I had two days of "seeing movies until my eyes bleed".

So....

The Ten
While this was funny in spots, overall? Not so much. Easily my least favorite of the movies I saw. I like the concept: ten short stories, each based on a commandment, I just didn't think it was executed well. It was funny at places, but overall... meh.

Becoming Jane
Anne Hathaway was fine, although I thought that other members of the cast overshadowed her. James MacAvoy was delightful, as well. Still, pretty good. I have a friend who refuses to see this movie because, in her estimation, if Jane Austen had really been as pretty as Anne Hathaway. she would have had no problem getting married and wouldn't've written her books.

I don't know that I buy this. I don't know enough about Jane Austen's life or the societal pressures of the time to be able to make such a judgement.

Stardust
I loved this movie. DeNiro was fun. Surprisingly so, for me. I think he's been coasting for years, but I really got a kick out of him in this. The movie moved along at a very nice pace. Between this movie and Hairspray, I'd say that Michele Pfeiffer has had a blast playing the bad guy recently.

But my favorite movie of the bunch was...
Death at a Funeral
This movie was great from start to finish. I adored it. Go see it. It kind of reminded me of family funerals, except that we don't have the actual services in our house. (Anymore. We used to, before I was born.) In fact, in particular, it reminded me of my grandmother's funeral. (not my insane paternal grandmother, who would get drunk with my father, but my maternal grandmotherwho kidnapped my cousin. But this journal entry is long enough. That can wait.
oxymoron67: (Default)
So, for my 40th birthday (Friday-- thanks to all those who wished me a happy one! It totally was.) I took a little vacation to Maryland to see my friends Heather and Dan. (And other people I haven't seen in forever, like Mike, Lance and Gina.) (I'm big on parentheses today.)

I left on Wednesday, on Amtrak. It was on time and I enjoyed the trip. It dawns on me that I'm only a three hour train trip from these people, I should probably see them more than once every four years.

Well, I get in on Wednesday night, we talk and have fun. On Thursday, Heather and I (Dan had to work) went to The Spy Museum. It's located across the street from the Masonic Temple, which I found amusing -- a museum about secretive government activities across the street from a building for a secret society.

The museum itself was fun-- it was engaging for both kids and adults. The gift shop rocked. I bought five books (and can legitimately say that I showed restraint. I could've easily bought 10.) Heather got a t-shirt. If you get a chance, go to this museum! It's great. You get to pretend to be a spy, they have you answer questions about your cover and mission while you tour. The museum itself was very informative, and for a history geek like myself, lots of fun. Then we went to Hain's Point to see the statue "The Awakening", which is a giant emerging from the ground. It's really cool.

Friday, we stayed at home and played games. (I didn't fully break in my new shoes before I got here. And I have problem feet. One arch is significantly higher than the other, so breaking shoes in is a pain.) Then we went out to dinner and a movie. The dinner itself was forgettable, but we saw Hairspray I heartily recommend it.

Yesterday, Heather and Dan had a barbecue and all sorts of people came by. We talked and played games and reminisced. It was a blast. I'm leaving tomorrow. This was totally the right decision.
oxymoron67: (Default)
So, I went to see Sunshine last weekend.

And boy did it suck!

Spoilers under the cut!

Let me count the ways )

Also, can I please be spared the Bratz trailer? I've seen it way too many times. Didn't Mean Girls cover this ground better? Although, it would be a nice twist if the girls realized that they were just another clique and melded into the system, but I don't see that happening.
oxymoron67: (Default)
So last weekend I went to see three movies. I saw Transformers again, because it rocks! Although there are plot holes. Why take the device to a crowded city and put civilians at risk when you can just have helicopters fly out to the empty desert? In all the years the feds had the device, wouldn't someone... anyone... have managed to trigger it's shrink function?

Then I went to see Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. I got a kick out of Luna, but Teen!Emo!Snape bugged. And for the first time (in the movies, anyway), Harry Potter's muggle family served a purpose rather than just being a Dickensian-esque plot point.

Finally, I went to see Ratatouille. It was cute. I wasn't expecting all that much because the concept of a sewer rat who is a chef bothers me. (Which is odd, because I frequently watch Semi-Homemade with Sandra Lee, so, as a friend pointed out, I can't really take the high road here. Especially after watching her vile "cooking with chocolate" episode.) Anyway, it was fun, because they dealt with the whole ickiness issue.

One thing about the commercials before the previews. There was one with sheeple and deviants who did mean nasty things to the sheeple, like behead them. These deviants also drove a particular car. Was this supposed to encourage me to buy the car? Because, ew. It;s kind of like the feminine product commercial where the voice over talks about feminine issues while animals like porcupines appear on the screen. I don't get it. Seriously, if your lady parts feel like a porcupine, I don't think the douche will help that much.

I also watched the second season premier of Dogfights on the History Channel. It's a show about great airplane battles in history. Great fun. While watching this, I found out that the pretty but dim host of Digging for the Truth is going to be hosting a Discovery Channel special "Can we Control the Weather?". I can;t wait! Although I wonder if he'll get to rappel down a cliffside in this, since that seems to be what he loves to do.

Meantime, on Sundays Bravo runs a Law and Order: Criminal Intent marathon. This past weekend it was all about Goren's (VIncent D'Onofrio) nemesis Nicole Wallace (Olivia d'Abo). While I don't find these episodes to be the highlights of the series, the two of them have this creepy, insane chemistry together. Like you'd tell them to get a room, but you wonder if either one would survive the experience.
oxymoron67: (Default)
Transformers was probably the first movie this summer that eceeded my expectations. It was fun from start to finish. Okay, I thought that some of the high school stuff was rather dull, but it didn't last long, so who cares?

This damn cold won't let go, though it's not nearly as bad as it was.
oxymoron67: (Default)
What kind of a puppy *would* I be? )

I've had this stupid cold all week. I was all stuffed up -- and bow have ear infections because I get them every time I have a cold. Anyway, now I feel okay most of the time, then suddenly I'm coughing up a lung. Which, during class, while I'm leading a drill exercise, is a bad, bad thing.

I also kind of wanted to go see a movie or something tonight, but I don't think it's such a good idea, if I feel like this. Or, I could go all ironic and see Sicko

Last week, I went to see A Mighty Heart and Surf's Up. I liked A Mighty Heart, I guess, but it wasn't earth shattering or anything. Some have criticized Angelina Jolie's accent, but compared to her accent "choice" in Alexander, this was okay. Granted, that's not saying much. My biggest problem with this movie is that I never fully connected to the characters. Everyone did a fine job, but I always felt a distance there.

After that, I decided I wanted to see a "fun" movie, to clear my palate I guess. One night, I saw Mystic River followed by Monster, which was a huge mistake, as neither is an up with people movie. So, I went to see Surf's Up. It was silly. And at best mediocre. Feh.

I'm reading Hitler's Willing Executioners right now, and it's a difficult read. Not because it's poorly written, because it's not, more because of the subject matter and the matter of fact way the author makes his case.

Meantime, my brother's still on paid administrative leave, though no one will tell him why. While he acts like it's not bothering him, his wife tells me that he's not sleeping or eating.

Oh, and my bank called. Considering all the trouble I had earlier this year when someone got my bank numbers (which have all been changed), this better not be a repeat. I don't think it is. I think it has to do with a new electronic payment I set up, but I always prepare for the worst.
oxymoron67: (Default)
My thoughts? )

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