Saturday, January 31, 2009

Let's talk about these contenders...

I did it! I did it! I did it! Something I learned today: movies before noon on the weekends are only six bucks. Add that plus the free movie pass (which I get periodically just for having an AMC Moviewatchers Card and going to the movies...), I saw three movies for 18 bucks today. In this city, where the price is usually $12.50 for one, that's called AWESOME.

Back to the business at hand - I saw all three movies today and I have opinions on all of them. I'll try to be as brief as possible, as not to spoil anything (though I make no guarantees) and write about them in the order I saw them.

Revolutionary Road

Many people told me their opinion of this movie; one particularly stuck with me. At a bar one night, one of my guy friends said he'd seen it and that, like what most other people had said, it was depressing and dreary about relationships. He also added that Kate Winslet's character was certifiably insane, mentally unstable, and that he wouldn't be able to deal with someone like her. I replayed the preview in my mind and thought that it seemed to fit, and perhaps it has something to do with her mental instability and the dissolution of their marriage. Cut to today, seeing the movie, and the woman (living in 1950s suburbia) that Kate Winslet portrays is in no way mentally incompetent... these are emotional reactions to emotional issues: if she's crazy, then he is, too. Anyways - had to get that out.

The film is definitely an emotional wallop; even the quiet moments are full of questions and intensity. I didn't feel drained, though, I liked it. It provoked a lot of thought and kept me interested in the characters throughout - hard to do early on a Saturday morning. These performances are terrific: Leonardo DiCaprio continues to amaze (yo, when is he getting an award??), Winslet was perfect, as well as standout supporting actors like Oscar-nominated Michael Shannon. I was surprised I liked it. I was surprised I liked Sam Mendes' directing...and how reminiscent it was in themes and visuals as his previous Oscar contender, American Beauty. It was shot beautifully. The only thing that took me out of the movie was the piano-driven score - it reminded me too much of the piano parts in American Beauty's score. But it still fit into this film. In summary, yes, the movie was depressing and intense and the characters are nearly unlikable - but they feel real and not entirely callous, well, at least not all of the time. I liked it.

The Reader

I have a problem with the glorification of the male coming-of-age story. It's not the main plotline in The Reader, but it's there in this movie in the form of the main character, who is played by Ralph Fiennes in his older years. I found his character, the protagonist of the film, completely and utterly unlikable. In fact, pathetic. Let me back up; I liked the movie when it started and the way his character found himself having an affair with an older woman (Kate, again) and learning from the sex and the eventual love. I thought the rest of it sucked. Winslet, as always, phenomenal. But she was better in Revolutionary Road. The movie (or perhaps it's the story? I'm not sure, I haven't read the book...), never settles. There was too much being thrown into the mix in an illogical manner, and I think it comes off heavy-handed a lot. And at the same, the movie is boring. I don't even know how to explain all of this. It was awful. I can't believe it's nominated for Best Picture. Though I'm pretty sure Harvey Weinstein, the power producer, made that happen. I would have nominated Wall-E, Dark Knight, and Revolutionary Road over this tripe.

Ugh, I can't even post a picture for this movie because any image will just make me angry, I'm sure.


Based on a play, the film is obviously made for the actor's actor. Meryl Streep and Phillip Seymour Hoffman deliver wonderfully; I think it's hard for either of them to be less-than-great. They just are. The script and characters were great - the directing was a little, beginner-esque? There were definitely some elements that brought me back to my film studies classes, though it didn't ruin the movie or anything. What shines (and what rightfully is supposed to) is the writing and these nuns and priests and schoolchildren and their interactions. There's some humor here, too - that didn't happen a lot in the earlier movies, ha - and I think Amy Adams helps here, and will eventually be able to play characters that aren't always so high-pitched and...smiley. I like her, I do, from Junebug to Enchanted, and I'm really looking forward to Sunshine Cleaning, but she needs to start showing some range. She's more solemn here, as a nun in the 1960s, and it works. The other supporting actress nominated here is Viola Davis, who only has one scene to her credit, but plays the character wonderfully. She's a surprising element here. In the end, deserved nominations for all and especially to the script.

There it is. What are your thoughts? Feel free to disagree! I'd actually really like to hear the opinion of someone who liked The Reader, hahaha. Maybe I missed something?

I'll be posting my Oscar thoughts as they near and I finish up my movie-viewing. Last night Erica and I watched Vicky Cristina Barcelona, and while being Woody Allen-y (per usual), it was one of his more enjoyable movies. Though Erica and I agreed that Scarlett Johansson is actually not a good actress. I have a new hands crush on Javier Bardem, and now I also want to go to Barcelona and lounge about drinking fine wine and listening to Spanish guitar. I love Penelope Cruz, and she's a noteworthy performance here. Having seen all the other actresses' performances in her category, I think she deserves the win - though Viola Davis might be able to best her when they are announced. But more on that later!



I'm off to enjoy some reading...

What am I doing up so early on a Saturday?!

Well, since Jesse is off galavanting in San Francisco, I'm piling on same major nerd points today. I'm heading to the theaters to see three movies. THREE! Yeah. Revolutionary Road, The Reader, and Doubt. I'm looking forward to it. Because, I love going to the movies. And I've got a free movie pass. And sometimes I have a hard time choosing just one thing to see. Also, subway and wait times give me a lot of reading time - I'll be back tonight posting about my progress so far on 52 Books, on this last day of January.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

We will keep it going strong.

Me, Jiscilla, Kelly, Erica, and Christy.

I know how annoying it must be when I talk about my girlfriends every five seconds and how much more awesome they are than yours, but it's the straight truth.

I'm just kidding - kinda.

The Curbside Gang formed in 2006, on a random curb in Rhode Island, consuming Rita's Italian Ice. Some of us knew each other better than others, but that would all change starting right then. Within a year we were all living in New York. Once here, the The Curbside Daily began - a running dialogue between the five of us via Gmail (we accept no other email form) in which we discuss EVERYTHING. This daily email has been going on for TWO YEARS now. We make plans, we talk about current events, we gossip, we share everything that's going on with us, we talk about our futures, we ask questions, we give advice, we "pretty much" divulge our secrets, we go back and forth on TLC specials about women who didn't know they were pregnant, etc., etc., etc. Seriously, at any point during the day, we can turn to each other.

Christy and Jiscilla have since moved to Texas and Connecticut respectively, but the Daily continues. And though email is viewed by some as a deterioration of meaningful communication - I assure you our emails mean the world to each of us and we appreciate a way in which we're all connected, because even when we were living in the same city, we all have different schedules and careers and obligations. The Daily keep us together and I couldn't be more thankful to have the words of those four intelligent and amazing girls in my inbox every day, all day (and night). This is, I think you can see, partly a thank you to them.

And yes, Kelly there is holding up a necklace that says "Curbside." That's how we roll.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Well the birds have been freed from their cages.

The weekend ended too soon!

On Friday, my parents drove into town carrying a bevy of presents in the form of food and other household knick-knacks a girl like me doesn't realize I need until I receive it via my wonderful mother. The parental units settled into the couch and hung out with the blu-ray player and the cats to rest up, while Jesse, Erica, Sean, and I headed into Manhattan for Katie & Aileen's joint 25th Birthday Party at Hi-Fi.

Or so we thought. Upon descending into the L Train abyss, we were met with a challenge: the weekend train schedule due to L Train maintenance. How to overcome this challenge? PATIENCE. A LOT OF IT. I'M TALKING A GOOD HOUR OF IT. Which, I believe, we did with aplomb - by playing each other in backgammon on various iPhones.

Late into the evening, or really, morning, we finally arrived at Hi-Fi and entered to a bar full of friends. Aileen lives in San Diego and travels with the Plain White T's, so I hadn't seen her in forever! (Forever, in this instance, means last August at Warped Tour.) And Katie, though I hadn't seen her in maybe a day, well, she's still easy to miss in such a short while. It was a grand time, filled with catching up and birthday wishes. At one point, Keller, Erica, and I had a rousing discussion about books. NERDS. The lot of us.

The soiree also leads me to some advice for any single men out there. If you're at a bar or social event, DO NOT make a pass (see what I did there?) at a woman by telling her that she looks like she's not having any fun. Why would you do that? See, this hasn't happened just once. In my history of passes being made, this line has happened several times. First of all, looking like we're not having any fun is probably due to the fact that you just came up to us and said that. Second of all, if I'm not having any fun I would leave. Third of all, it's NOT a compliment in any way. If someone looks like they're not having fun, the first thing that comes to mind is a pout and an attitude (both somewhat unattractive qualities in a social setting). You're not making it any better. So please, anybody and everybody, if we weren't having fun, we'd have the power to leave if we so chose. Most of us - we're not stupid enough to hang out in a joint that's no fun, and we're also not stupid enough to fall for that line, which, I'm presuming, has never worked for the likes of you.

I digress.

On Saturday morning, bright and early, my mother made the household a wonderful breakfast. Then Erica, Kelly, my mother and I headed to New Jersey for a mission whose details I can't divulge in at this moment, suffice to say it went rather well. Jesse and my father hung out in Brooklyn while the women were away, and I don't really know what they were up to, but I'm assuming it was quite manly and involved burgers and/or various other meats like steak.

By the time we ladies returned from our journey, everybody had already had quite a full day. We decided to order pizza, nap, watch movies, and play games. That's what you call a relaxing and near-perfect Saturday night.

In the morning, we bid adieu to my parents, and went back to sleep for hours (the mark of a lovely Sunday). When we woke up, we decided to brave that damn L Train again to see The Wrestler. A compelling movie, for sure, and Rourke deserves all the hype about him. I'm slowly narrowing down the list of must-see films. I'm planning a movie-going extravaganza this coming weekend - if the L Train sees fit for such an excursion.

In other news, an old friend of Jesse's called in a favor last night and I tip-toed around the slew of musicians sleeping on our living room floor this morning.

And how was your weekend?

Friday, January 23, 2009

I found the safest place to keep all our old mistakes.

I know everybody's faces were glued to their tv sets on Wednesday night watching LOST, but did anyone catch The Real World: Brooklyn? Because if you did, you would have seen The Dagger, aka my bestie and roommate Erica, teaching cast member Baya how to play the jams at AK! And she looked totally rad doing it.

There were a lot of posts back from last summer/early autumn that alluded to tv cameras and whatnot, and it was all regarding the RW. The cast came by AK nearly every (Trainwreck) Tuesday because of Baya's weekly gig with regular DJs Rob Hitt and Erica. And the trio are still together at AK every Tuesday!

I think this season is good so far - in most of the recent seasons I can't even stand to watch five minutes of the show because it tends to involve a lot of immaturity, wrecklessness, and thoughtless decisions which isn't necessarily what I like to see as "representative" of people in their 20s (like, say, me). I saw a lot of cast members using the Real World as a jumping off point to their "entertainment careers" (where are they now?). I stopped watching, I think, during RW: Las Vegas. That and every cast since seemed completely and utterly worthless. This season is back to being interesting - I am interested in how these eight people are trying to figure themselves out as individuals. I'm interested in their group dynamics, which are much more friendly than in the past, thought there still remains tension. I'm interested in how they manage to find jobs (though, let's be honest, the last episode was quite a set-up). These are all interesting people in their own way, and I don't believe any of them are as worthless as previous castmembers of the past six or seven seasons.

And c'mon, you KNOW you want to know what's up with Chet -

(via a hilarious RW post at fourfour)

To be sure - Chet is a really nice dude; I was at AK one night and he started talking to me, but I didn't know he was a Real World-er until there was a tv camera in my face. He legitimately "made a pass" at me (do people even say "make a pass" anymore?) and I showed him my ring and smiled awkwardly, because, yeah, I had made some assumptions, too. Perhaps Chet serves as a lesson in not making assumptions - no matter what you see.

I know some people are totally not down with this season (LIZ!), but what about you?

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

You've always been the latest thing to be.

Every year I try to see all the Oscar-bait out there so that I'm well-informed when watching the Academy Awards. I still have so many to see! Such as: Vicky Cristina Barcelona, Frost/Nixon, Man on Wire, Frozen River, Doubt, Revolutionary Road, The Wrestler, The Reader, I've Loved You So Long, Happy Go Lucky. And I'm halfway through Changeling.

I don't know how I haven't seen either Kate Winslet movie, as she's one of my favourites. However, I've been kind of avoiding Revolutionary Road due to how depressing I know it will be regarding relationships, and in turn, marriage. But I'm still interested in seeing Sam Mendes' direction. And The Reader looked only okay - the preview did nothing to entice me. She's been racking up the awards, though, so I'll have to check them out pre-Oscar night. I think she probably deserves those awards, too, given how great she tends to be.

And so what did I think of the other contenders that I have seen? In order of best to least-best:

Wall-E (I'm really hoping the Academy recognizes its brilliance.)
Slumdog Millionaire
The Dark Knight
Iron Man (um, it has to be nominated for something, right?)
Gran Torino
Rachel Getting Married
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (I'm finding in retrospect I may not have liked it as much as I though I did...and I love Fincher.)

And I'm hoping RDJ gets nominated for Tropic Thunder, though I think it's a safe bet that Heath Ledger's name will be called. Don't even kid with me about Tom Cruise getting nominated for it (Golden Globe fail). I've always felt that the Academy awards drama too much - comedy is so much harder to get right. RDJ! RDJ! IRON MAN OR TROPIC THUNDER! RDJ! RDJ!

Guilty pleasure style: I'm totally a dork about this, but I really did love Australia. It's being termed a "bomb," but I like Baz Luhrmann's weirdness. Also, Hugh Jackman. I still abhor Nicole Kidman. I think she just needs the right director - the only works I like of hers are by like Baz and Gus Van Sant (To Die For). Feel free to mock my Australia love; I can't help myself with sweeping epics. (Also, I'm still bitter about Moulin Rouge getting nominated for Best Film and Baz Luhrmann not getting nominated for Best Director - if anything, that was a director's movie.)

Looks like I have a lot of watching to do! What are your favourites? What do you hope gets nominated or even wins? The nominations are being broadcast tomorrow morning, and I'm not envisioning any surprises - but one can hope!

PS LOST is on tonight. Remember this.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

I am looking for the crest of a new wave.

You know how sometimes you just need to feel inspired? Or re-inspired? Well, January's been a month full of plans and details infesting my brain. (I may have also used that wording because I've been reading a lot of post-apocalyptic and/or zombie-ridden novels.) The point is, I'm back with this, my 801st post, and because this morning I woke up to what felt like a new dawn. I said, Jesse, new president! Today! And we high-fived. I'm not kidding. You may attribute it to early-morning grogginess, but no, we definitely high-fived.

Today I'm feeling quite inspired. Inspired enough to write, and share.

Yesterday, in keeping with the theme, Jesse and I rearranged our room. It's a change we mediated, and I can't tell you how much better it feels. I'll try to post pictures of it when we're done cleaning. I even reorganized the books by color. YEAH.

I am somebody that tends to welcome change, and I can't believe I've been in New York for two and a half years and still love it. But, I moved here because I always said that it seems like the only city that will keep me entertained. Always something going on, always something new. I know my disposition won't always keep me here in New York, but for now, I'm love that I'm still enjoying it. Even in the hibernation of the winter months.

I've seen some great movies lately in Milk and Gran Torino. I can't tell you how much reports of Sean Penn's off-screen behavior turns me off, but he's brilliant in character. And I think Milk is his best work. And Clint Eastwood's directorial work, always mired in tragedy, still provokes genuine emotion from me. I think I should start a little Clint Eastwood section of my dvd library...

And what else? I'm doing well on my reading! I highly recommend World War Z: The Oral History of the Zombie War. The plot might seem very sci-fi and dorky, but it's actually pretty scary in terms of gruesomeness and realistic human reactions. I found myself thinking about where I would be in the chaos and how I would react. I'm now reading Cormac McCarthy's The Road, another book taking place after a global disaster. I love it so far.

Today is the inauguration, and my office is allowing live streaming video for the day! Yay!

Monday, January 12, 2009

What's with today today.

Oh dear. So, I continue to laze about regarding this blog. I'll get back into the swing of things soon enough. Since I'm being so self-referential right now, I might as well mention that today in the blog world it is apparently "De-Lurking Day." I've seen it on several blogs and thought I'd pose it here -

I may have readers that don't leave comments, and therefore, I may not know who you are! Leave a comment today - maybe include where you're from, how you came to my blog, and if you have your own. I'm quite curious. :)

But if you don't want to, and would rather remain anonymous, you obviously don't have to. Because at the same time I'm like, who picks these days? Who was like January 12th - you shall be De-Lurking Day! My brain's all over the place these days, can you tell?

In other news, I'm thinking of redesigning the site. It's a typical blogger layout and I'm at that point where I need one with a little more pizazz. Scratch the pizazz. I just want something different - lighter and cleaner? Maybe it'll reinvigorate my writing here.

This weekend I played a lot of board games, did some wedding planning, went to Perry's Mad Men birthday party, watched football and cuddled with kittens. Oh, and books. I'm trying to read as much as possible! How was your weekend?

Sunday, January 11, 2009

How I spent most of today.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Literate and stylish.

I know I've been sporadic as of late. It's been a tough week to get back in the groove of work after a couple of pretty sweet two-day workweeks.

I've seen a lot of people deciding to read 52 books this year as a promise to themselves in 2009. I think I'd like to try that goal and read more, if possible. That'll be pretty tough with the whole "getting married" hoopla and whatnot, but I think I can do it. I commute everyday via subway (prime reading time!) and I do a lot of travelling otherwise - to go home, to visit Jesse.

Though Jesse's been home for quite a while and methinks he'll be here for some time, too.

I've already finished one book, the second book in George R.R. Martin's epic fantasy series, A Clash of Kings, which Sean got me into. I started it in 2008, but I'm counting it because it's 1001 pages long. SERIOUSLY.

With the help of* to keep me organizied and vigilant in my quest, I'm starting the countdown with all the books I got for Christmas, plus a book Sean and I have promised to "Book Club" together.

Also, I'm counting Eclipse of the Twilight series, as I'm only 200 pages in and I started reading it in or around the beginning of December. These books are hard to get through, HOLY CRAP. Jesse can attest to me picking up the book on the bedside table, groaning, and going, "Okay, okay, okay, I can get through this," and then he just laughs at me and goes, "Why???" But I shall conquer this, because I know not even horrible writing and nonsensical plots will defeat me! Okay, I'm getting melodramatic.

I present, my burgeoning list:

01 A Clash of Kings, George R.R. Martin (DONE 01.05.09)
02 Eclipse, Stephenie Meyer (CURRENTLY READING)
03 Infinity Blues, Ryan Adams (CURRENTLY READING)
04 Y: The Last Man, Brian K. Vaughn (CURRENTLY READING)**
05 World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War, Max Brooks (CURRENTLY READING)
06 Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy (Future Sean/Jessica Book Club Book - FSJBCB)
07 The Road, Cormac McCarthy
08 A Storm of Swords, George R.R. Martin
09 Ender's Game, Orson Scott Card
10 The Heretic's Daughter, Kathleen Kent
11 Never Let Me Go, Kazuo Ishiguro
12 Daughters of the North, Sarah Hall
13 2666, Robert Bolano
14 The Handmaid's Tale, Margaret Atwood
15 The Red Tent, Anita Diamant
16 Breaking Dawn, Stephenie Meyer (UGH LAST ONE FINALLY)
17 Crimson, Brian Augustyn (graphic novel series)
18 A Feast for Crows, George R.R. Martin
19 Best American Magazine Writing 2008, ASME

So. That's where I'll start. What are you reading? Anything I should be reading? Leave any suggestions in the comments to check out and possibly add to my "to-read" list! And add me on Goodreads if you have an account!

*To my Shelfari lovers - I simply couldn't; I had already invested myself in Goodreads and Shelfari wasn't as detail-oriented about the books as GR is. I like being able to update my book-reading status with page number and notes(couldn't figure it out on Shelfari) and it was easier on GR to browse and find interesting books. I deleted my Shelfari account.
**Y: The Last Man note: it's a series of graphic novels, 10 volumes at about 120 pages each - I'll count them all together as one book.

Monday, January 5, 2009

My sincere architecture.

I'm pretty happy with the way 2008 turned out. I mean, I think I can safely say it was the best year of my life thus far. In no way can I try to quantify or qualify it in order to demonstrate its supreme awesomeness.

I continued to be surrounded by the good friends, loved by the one, and did away with the bad, evil, and life-ruining elements.

There's still work to be done, kinks to be sorted out - true of every life. Keep working until the end. Keep loving until the end.

[I've been reading Ryan Adams' Infinity Blues; please excuse my aimless pondering.]

I've never really believed in resolutions, because I make goals for myself all the time - not just at the beginning of the year. I feel on the brink of something...not quite sure what, but there's a lot I want to accomplish, not only in 2009, but in my life. Damn everything and anybody that stands in my way or judges my logic.

I think it's time I speak up when I want to, instead of cowering or tiptoeing. I'm done with people trying to do the "cool" thing; when you do it, it exhausts me, and I just want to have fun. I want to have fun without being frivolous or doing frivolous things. Stop making me feel bad for not doing something or voicing my own personal opinion. I want to read lots of books and put more thought into my writing. I'm ready to check things off, and not procrastinate. Prioritize. I'll do it my way, thank you. I'm done apologizing for things that aren't my fault.

I feel good. Here it is: I'm getting married and I've never felt more independent.

Changes are coming, but given my lifestyle from birth to present, that's always been the case. I welcome them, always.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

It's 2009 !

Happy New Year! More pictures to come of last night; Jiscilla was there, as you can see:

I have NO idea what my eyes are doing!!!

It's the end of two-thousand-great, but I'm pretty stoked on oh-nine!