Friday, December 31, 2010

My Top Films of 2010

It's been a bad year for films: I'll say it. There were far too many rehashes and sequels and wholly uncreative movies out in 2010. Looking back at last year's post of my top films of 2009, I'm astounded at how many more quality movies there were. And that list would have changed, too! I hadn't seen A Single Man or Moon until this year, and they would have garnered spots right up there for sure. (A Serious Man would have been filed under worst, sah-rry).

But back to this year - there were most definitely films that rose above. I believe the top five especially are exemplary of good films that chose in one way or another to feel new or, not redundant. There's a gleam of innovation and creativity there, and for that I love them.

01 Black Swan

Now, there are a lot of themes here that are quite conventional - anorexic ballerina, doubles, mirrors, murderous ambition - but director Darren Aronofsky, lead Natalie Portman, and the sounds of the film formed something beautiful and original as I watched. The rising intensity of the film played like horror, and I relished in seeing a modern, well-made horror film.

02 The Social Network

Because the rhythm of Aaron Sorkin's writing will always rope me in. I don't care at all that this "based on a true story" movie isn't really at all: the writing, David Fincher's dark and moody directing (after Benjamin Button I was getting nervous...), the score, and the surprisingly great young actors were enough for me to watch in glee from the first scene on. Not to mention that as as BU girl, I remember signing up for the first inception of Facebook. Speaking of...

03 Inception

Oh, how daring for a movie to be not only smart and artistic but mainstream. I love movies that continue in your mind long after they're over; seeing this in the theater with friends several times was always fun because of the many conversations that would ensue afterwards. I love movies that create conversations. Not to mention those visuals, that script, and another score for Christopher Nolan - a director my father and I kept our eyes on after seeing Memento in the theater so many years ago. Another film that had us talking for weeks afterwards.

04 The Kids Are All Right

Hilarity at it's best! The only thing that surpassed the perfectly tuned acting of Annette Bening, Julianne Moore, Mark Ruffalo, Mia Wasikowska, and Josh Hutcherson was the script itself by Stuart Blumberg and Lisa Cholodenko. I appreciate a good comedy because it seems to come along so rarely - well a good comedy that is also non-offensive, I should say.

05 Blue Valentine

On the opposite of comedy is this film, starring Michelle Williams and Ryan Gosling. The film is wretchedly uncomfortable and I don't think I could see it again. But there's something to be said for a movie that makes you squeam not because somebody is being bludgeoned to death, but because you see a couple trying to make things right, trying to combine their lives into one and not always succeeding. Those minor details of real life are so often passed over in film, but this one puts them front and center. And juxtaposes them in a "duet" (as the director said at the screening I saw) of a couple's relationship during two different times.

06 Winter's Bone

I saw this movie pretty early on in the year, but it's stuck with me over the months. I think the lead actress, Jennifer Lawrence, along with John Hawkes, are astounding. The movie is slow-paced and eerie; the scenery cold and dank. Scenery like this is usually used in awful horror films; there's a different, far more realistic eerieness residing in this film.

07 The Fighter

I think I loved this film because I went into it expecting a heavy-handed drama about boxing (not exactly my cup of tea) but was pleasantly surprised by a really funny movie. Sure, there's some real dark stuff going on here at times, but the best parts are when Christian Bale is on screen as Dickey, a crack-addicted former boxing champion from Lowell, Massachusetts. At times I thought he overplayed it a bit (not that I minded) - but after seeing real video of the person which his character is based on, he's right on. Christian Bale bordered on funny in American Psycho, but you know, I'm more used to him as the brooding Batman or sickening insomniac in The Machinist. Him, plus the other supporting characters really make the film, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

08 True Grit

I wasn't sure I was going to enjoy this film, either. It was a remake (though, thankfully, not of a film that came out in my lifetime). But I always like Coen Brother-directed movies. However, what most blew me away was lead actress (this is NOT a supporting role no matter what the awards are deeming it) Hailee Steinfeld. It's hard to think of a thirteen-year-old actor who's not playing cute or cloying or precocious. The rest was also great, and I enjoyed it quite a bit.

09 Scott Pilgrim vs The World

What a love it or hate it film! I loved it. I enjoyed all the risks it took in the visuals and story because, hey, at least I'd never seen it done before. It felt like a ride and it made me grin in its silliness. I had to give it the thumbs up for being so daring. (Also, anybody think Zach Snyder should take more tips from Edgar Wright? Just me?)

10 Toy Story 3

Well, because Pixar. They know good story. Find something non-good or enjoyable in this film. Seriously. I can't. It's great.

And the rest!

Pretty honorable: The King's Speech, Vincere, Micmacs, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Shutter Island, Going the Distance (I'm serious, I love this movie), Easy A, Exit Through the Gift Shop

Pretty fun: Iron Man 2, Kick Ass, The Crazies

Pretty meh: Catfish, Just Wright, Love and Other Drugs, Due Date, Machete, The Runaways

Pretty full of issues for me to like it at all: The Town, I Am Love (I will debate anybody over a cup of coffee and a slice of pie on these two films, oof.)

Movies I've yet to see: 127 Hours, Casino Jack, Another Year, Animal Kingdom, The Ghostwriter, Please Give, Never Let Me Go (ugh, want to see it so badly!)

Whaddya think? What are your faves? Anything I missed?

PS Happy New Year - have an enjoyable evening!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

My Top Albums of 2010

For the past three years, I've ended the year by recounting my top ten albums. However, this year, for the most part, I've oddly gone ghost on music. Nothing really grabbed a hold of me. I tried listening to Mumford and Sons but it just made me want to listen to The Avett I did. I tried listening to Best Coast but it just made me want to listen to She & I did. I didn't listen to many new albums more than once or twice, and so I feel like I didn't put a lot of effort into music this year.

Of course, you know, I did have a few albums I became obsessed over. And so, I can only give you but five albums I would present as my favourites of 2010.

 Motion City Soundtrack / My Dinosaur Life

I can still play this on repeat without getting bored. That's basically what I did for several shows this year to see the husband - each time, so excited to hear all the songs!

A Great Big Pile of Leaves / Have You Seen My Pre-Frontal Cortex?

I wish exciting new bands like this were more frequent; I honestly can't remember the last time I was so stoked on a new band. Probably not since college. Which was ten years ago, people. Check them out NOW. Also because their album is currently FREE on their site. Exactly.

She & Him / Volume Two

Obsessed. You could probably tell by the fact that this year alone I saw them live four times. Whatever. I could sing along to Zooey and M. Ward forever and ever.

Ryan Adams & The Cardinals / III/IV

This, I've been listening to for the past few weeks on repeat. It's so much FUN! Sometimes Adams & The Cardinals can be a bit "downer" in sound, which I enjoy too, but I find myself smiling when I listen to this.

Various / The Scott Pilgrim Soundtrack

Yes, a soundtrack. But a soundtrack that contains diddies by Beck and Metric. And two-second long songs with titles like "We Hate You Please Die." I also totally love Sex Bob-omb's "Garbage Truck."

Three other albums I remembered I enjoyed for a while:

The National / High Violet (This one actually should probably be above, I love it.)
Jimmy Eat World / Invented
Empires / Bang

And while there were few moments that music really dazzled me this year (but when I love something, you know I LOVE IT A LOT) - I definitely paid attention to film. Tomorrow, stay tuned for my favourite films of 2010.

What were some of your best albums? Anything you think I'd like that I might not have heard? I think AGBPOL totally ruined my palette because now I want every album I listen to to be innovative and creative and fun and awesome. Thanks, dudes.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

And the knives up in the kitchen are all too dull to smile.

Jiscilla snapped this photo of me before our plane took off to Austin.

I am back to post again! November was quite a busy month; I traveled, worked, played, and read! Oh, and I wrote a novel.

Yes! I completed it. That's why you see that pretty little banner in the left column now!

I began writing my novel on November 1st, on a plane from Chicago to New York. I continued writing in my Brooklyn apartment. I wrote it in Providence and on a train racing over Connecticut to take me back to Brooklyn. I wrote it flying to Austin, in Austin between great life moments with my best friends Christy and Jiscilla, and I wrote it flying back from Austin with Jesse sleeping in the seat next to me. I wrote it in Massachusetts with my Mom, Dad, brother, and various pets bustling around me. I wrote from night into mornings. I wrote the final sentence (one of the only sentences I spent a lot of time on) and thus finished 50,211 words at approximately ten o'clock last night.

I am exhausted!

But I feel quite accomplished. I mean, I knew I always had it in me, I just never knew when I'd get around to it. Boom! Done, sitting on my desktop. And that's where it will stay until 2011. I've always been someone superstitious about my "serious" writing, and since this is just a draft, nobody will get a chance to read it until a rigorous editing process takes place. Sorry if you were expecting a link to it here! Not even Jesse is privy to the document!

I can tell you some things that were influential, or, rather, that I had taken in during the process and maybe influenced me a bit.

Run River by Joan Didion - I finished this book right before I started writing; it's structure is the main reason I made my novel's time structure a bit round-about. The book is bleak and beautiful and I love it dearly.

Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates - another depressing book about two people's lives that I read at the beginning of November; there were some real mean, gutting, despicable things uttered by some of the characters and it made me think of some of the dialogue between my own novel's characters.

Reprise (dir. by Joachim Trier) - This was probably the most motivating factor in writing a novel. Of course, for me, it came from a film. It's a Norwegian film about two novelist best friends and it's fresh but bleak, and I got caught up in it right before November started, and I've watched it twice since the first time. There's a scene in which one of them writes until dawn, and there's a scene where a character shuts herself in the bathroom after a stark realization, and these were especially motivating to me.

The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers - I'm in the middle of this southern novel right now, and I find myself thinking in a drawl sometimes, and I so happened to make one of my minor characters originally from the South. It's another bleak novel (really hitting up that tone this month, huh?), but the theme of loneliness pulls at my heart strings every time I read it. Not to mention, the author - she wrote this impressive novel when she was only twenty-three. Mark that as more motivation.

And finally, music. I found myself sometimes walking the streets of Manhattan alone (and once in Chicago, too), listening to my iPod and thinking of my story, my characters. I listened mainly to soft, sad music - Ryan Adams (but I always turn to him when the weather gets cold anyway), Aimee Mann, The Avett Brothers and some Cardigans. But when it actually came to writing, I could only listen to solo piano music, a genre station on Pandora. I found some really great music, and it was part inspired by the fact that I also played this piano cover of the Pixies' "Where is My Mind?" on repeat for much of my writing as well.

I'm excited to not feel like I have a second job. I would go to work, come home, eat, and delve right into the writing on most days. I'm excited for all that December has in store. At the same time, it's a little strange to realize I have a real attachment to my story and the characters. They started coming to me in my dreams, and I was thinking about the plot whenever I had a free moment. I know I'll see them again in January, though.

Where do you look for inspiration for projects? Any body else become a NaNoWriMo winner this year?

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Everything was melon and orange.

I've hit 100 followers! THANKS READERS!

Here are three photos of Jesse and I - well, actually it's the same photo, but an example of running it through some iPhone filters via CameraBag. The first is the original, the second is using the 1974 filter, and the last demonic version is the 1962 filter. We were watching the Patriots game versus the Browns, so perhaps it was just unveiling my inner frustration? There's an app for that!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Nothing breathes here in the cold.

The view from our hotel in Chicago last week.
As you may have noticed, NaNoWriMo has most certainly taken over most of my writing time! I'm currently a little behind schedule even in that, but it's all going very well. I visited Jesse and The Tour this past weekend in New Jersey and Providence, and he sweeps back into town tomorrow for their New York show.

I can say without question that this tour has been the best one I've been able to visit - the other people in the crew and bands are all fun, nice, and surprisingly grounded. I mean, on Saturday night when I was hanging out by the stage door waiting for a friend, Chris Conley passed me, then stopped to introduce himself to me. I mean, what? The guy who wrote one of my top ten albums of all time is saying hi to ME? Unreal. I suppose it was warranted given the many times we'd been part of the same conversation in dressing rooms and stage areas the past few days. But still. The people who make up Valencia, A Great Big Pile of Leaves, Saves the Day, and Say Anything are rad - and if you don't have a chance of checking out the live show, buy all their music (with Motion City Soundtrack's own included, of course!) and make an equally rad playlist. Given all the crap skeezball dudes and crap scenes I've witnessed over the years, it's refreshing to see a good group of talented people go out there and have fun.

November's already become a whirlwind of activity, and though I'm enjoying it, I'm already exhausted. I'll try to check in more often here (by the way, I'm at a 98 count of Google readers there on the sidebar - which two of you would like to turn that into 100??) but, as always, you can find me posting on the go via Tumblr or Twitter. And, my Formspring's still up and running, too - and since now I have an iPhone app to  help me out, your questions can be more readily answered. I actually have a post to show off some Gap black pants I love, pictures have been taken and everything, so stay tuned for that!

If you've been wondering about my pop culture intake lately, here are some things I've immediately loved recently: the novel Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates (even more soul-crushing than the film - but invigorating), the British series Skins (on Netflix Instant! I told Say Anything's Jake he reminded me of Tony aka Nicolas Hoult), and I finally own the film In The Loop (and you should watch it if you like witty comedy! The next time I meet my NaNo day-quota, I'm treating myself to a viewing). Oh, and this song, constantly.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

CONTEST: Owl Earrings!

Okay I have a contest for you all! My rad friend Kaleigh runs an Etsy shop called Unexpected Expectancy. She's given me reign to give away two pairs of OWL EARRINGS to two of you lucky readers. Given how trendy owls are these days - I mean, have you seen Hungover Owls? that owl movie? heard that crap owl-named band that I can't even post about here? - it seems pretty apt to start wearing some self-adornments. I myself already own an owl ring purchased in Chicago last year, and how sweet are these in brass and gunmetal:

I was going to join my love of film and owls together into the contest, but had trouble coming up with very many "owl scenes" in movies myself. (But how good is the owl scene in Dumb & Dumber - how good???) So the contest is this: link me to a picture of either the cutest owl(s) ever or the most hungover owl(s) ever. First two people to do this AS WELL AS leave their e-mail address gets to snazz up their wardrobe with the brassy or gunmetaly version of the earrings!

Also, you should check out the other creative jewelry she sells, too - I love this brass key necklace (keys, duh), this librarian glasses necklace (again, duh, right?), and this really beautiful bronze feather ring! The other great thing about Unexpected Expectancy is that each month, Kaleigh gives 10% of every sale to a different charity. For the month of October, 10% will be donated to the Animal Protective League.

Full-disclosure-wise, Kaleigh came to me as a friend about this contest, but after I'd already agreed to it, she said she'd be sending me a little surprise. Totally would have done it for nothing!

I feel like dudes should totally get in on this if you're reading to - the holidays are on the way and if you have a sister or girlfriend or even mom that would totally love these, get in on it!

Post me some owl pics, now!

EDIT: We have our winners Liz & Cupcake! Thanks for all the awesome owl photos, I love owl photos!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

'Cause you're the storm that I've been needing.

A picture from the fun times in Coney Island this summer; the weather's since turned cooler.
This week marks the calm before the storm. A good storm, mind you.

On Friday, Jesse flies in from the Best Tour Ever for an evening at Pee Wee Herman's live Broadway show. He was lovely enough to get us front row tickets!

Saturday morning we jet to Chicago for two evenings of the Best Tour Ever, as well as hang time for me and some of my favourite friends! Not to mention the husband, who has been truckin' away on this tour for a good three weeks. I can't wait to see some Valencia, Say Anything, and Saves the Day - and Motion City Soundtrack!! Given that it's the Halloween show and Chicago contains some of their most awesome fans, there will be some traditional MCS dressing up, though I've not been privy to the plans yet. I do have a costume of my own I'll be packing...

I'll be back in time for the work week on Monday, but Monday also signifies the beginning of November. And I've got BIG PLANS this November! I'll be participating in my first ever NaNoWriMo - which means "National Novel Writing Month." I'll be writing nearly 1700 words every single day in the hopes of reaching at least 50,000 words by November 30th...50,000 words of a NOVEL. If you're embarking on this quest as well, feel free to friend me on the website, my username (as always) is jessicaxmaria.

You could be hearing right now a gleam of the near future's SENSATION! The top of the bestseller lists! The instant-classic yet to be written! Or, not. Most likely not. But at least I'll have something to work with after November. Something malleable, something to edit. I'm quite excited and motivated.

My blog posts in the month of November may be short and sweet, as you can probably understand. Though I may do plenty of updates from the road - updates from the Best Tour Ever - as I'll be sure to have my computer handy for plane and train writing! I wish I had a light, sleek MacBook Air just for this month! But, it cannot be at the moment. No worries, my November means traveling, seeing my dude, hanging with friends, and writing - four of the best things in my life.

I aim to have an adventurous month! Anybody goes to the MCS shows? Participating in NaNoWriMo?

PS Stay tuned tomorrow for a fun contest with prizes!!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Way it goes.

It was a particularly emotionally draining weekend. However, through all the somberness, there was the light that breaks through when friends gather for one another. There was laughter and silly jokes and memorable stories. There were many, many hugs. I can only hope that my friend's pain continues to be eased as the days pass. For now, I look for the positivity in all things. The brighter spots in life. And I wish to one day own the same amount of strength and poise my friend does.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

We are imperfect mortal beings, aware of that mortality even as we push it away, failed by our very complication, so wired that when we mourn our losses we also mourn, for better or for worse, ourselves. As we were. As we are no longer. As we will one day not be at all.
-- Joan Didion, The Year of Magical Thinking

It's hard to sit here at work when my best friend is in pain and grieving hundreds of miles away. It's all I can do for now. Feeling helpless. But I sit here and mentally send my love. I can see it whirring through the winds now, reaching for her and her family. It's all I can do for now.

Monday, October 18, 2010

And you'll ask yourself.

I am never really alone. I enjoy constantly being surrounded by my friends, the city, the noises, the smells. Of course, there's always room for alone time when needed, but sometimes after a scary movie, you're at home by yourself having just said goodbye to your friends and you grab the cat as you head to bed and you're lying there with the lights off and trying not to think of things like Bloody Mary because you catch a glint of the mirror in the room - sometimes then alone time isn't all that fun.

But let's not talk about my Saturday night.

On Friday, Erica, Kelly, and Amber joined Sam and I for a Ladies Evening (also known as "Girls Night"). We cooked, we feasted, we wined. The conversation grew louder and the theme of the night quickly became "fake gagging," as we told each other gross-out stories and pulled up grotesque pictures on our phones. Like we ladies do.

My weekend also included a book club meeting and debating opinions as we are halfway through this book, as well as getting a new countertop thanks to Jim's parents (total kitchen makeover coming soon!), many couch-movies, a bit of football with fun friends (some from far away), and a five-mile walk through Central Park for Making Strides Against Breast Cancer. Donation is still open if you'd like to give to the team! I also walked and donated a couple of weeks ago for my employer's breast cancer walk, and it's been nice to see all the awareness being raised in the media and nearly everywhere I look this month.

How was your weekend?

PS [Edit] allusions I made previously to a contest have been deleted because I don't think I'll be able to hold it tomorrow, something came up. Perhaps later this week or next. Thank you.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Back then our bones wouldn't break.

A myriad of activities kept me busy the past few weeks. Really, I thought when summer winded down I would have a great lot of time to spend writing. However, plans are just a list of things that don't happen, right?

Now I can divulge in a few of the details; the changes in life that have brought me to where I stand today. I'm happy, slightly more scatterbrained than usual, and constantly trying to organize my surroundings even when it seems there's not enough time in the world. New York continues to take hold of my life every day - no, it never slows down. And I enjoy every minute of it. The friends that fill my life are the best, and I'm finding that I wouldn't trade a slowed-down life for them any day of the year. I'm now 27, and I see no reason why aging seemingly relates to having any less fun.

Surely, my life when I first moved to New York was different - I lived at 120 miles per hour, so to speak. I reveled in watching the dawn break over the skyscrapers and dancing for hours though my feet protested. Since then things have evolved as time makes us do. I got a fabulous job, married the man who surprised me over and over again, and I tend to see the dawn in the hours when I wake up and not when I go to sleep. The pace remains high, but with different avenues to race down. I assume it's what living in New York is for everyone, and though my rent is higher than other places, I understand I pay extra for living in the greatest city in the world. And I'm surrounded by the best people in my world, right here in this little island and its burroughs.

Back in September, the girl I drove a u-haul with in 2006 moved from our apartment in Brooklyn to a new, beautiful neighborhood in Queens. Erica, my virtual sister and companion in exploring the city, the nightlife, the shows, the stores, the subway... has moved away - no longer a whisper-yell of "hermana" across our rooms (whether we had walls or not) - but still a ventricle in my heart that beats across the burroughs. New York connects us all, with places easily traveled, and "activities" that keep us together. Though locations have changed, nothing in our friendship has deteriorated, in fact probably just the opposite has happened.

And in the apartment, Jesse and I have welcomed two wonderful individuals, Samantha (Sam) and Jim. Yes, we live with another couple! Sam and Jim are two fantastic people we've met over the last few years that have become damn great friends. Sam may be the most positive, loving person I've ever met. She works at an animal hospital, and I think those assets just come naturally to people who decide to work with animals all day (see also: nurses). Speaking of, she also brings along her cocker spaniel pup Melly, who is adorable, and to which Pee Wee still casts a condescending eye, but for the most part they get along splendidly. I am currently working on a "Melly and Pee Wee" photoset to share soon. Jim takes improv classes and fights the good fight of a desk job through sarcasm and wit - you should probably read his tumblr and follow him so that he starts writing more funny stuff, because at this point he just thinks nobody reads! He's hilarious on stage at the Upright Citizen's Brigade theater and just as a friend to talk to. Sam and Jim have been great fun to have at #410, and I know I'll have more stories to share about the apartment in the future.

In more news updates, Jesse just recently left for his Best Tour Ever. I'll be meeting up with him a few times on the road, namely in Chicago, the East Coast, and Austin. I'm especially excited for Austin - not just because it's the last date of the tour and I get my husband back - but also because I am flying there with Jiscilla and we are visiting our best friend Christy. It's been a couple of years now since Christy left Manhattan for Austin, and I'm excited to visit her in her own personal Great City.

Finally, I should give you the last big update, and another reason I've been unable to really pay attention to this little spot on the internet lately: I got a promotion. I'm now a business manager as opposed to just an analyst (or "transponster" as my friends knew my previous title). It's something I'm quite proud to have accomplished, and it's reinvigorated my career-thinking.

And now, I'm just spewing it all out. Well, I'd tell you to expect more frequent updates, and I'd honestly mean it and intend to, but I never know where I'll end up tomorrow or next week or next month; what might spring up and take hold of me and bring me joy or sadness or something inbetween; the leaky faucet of my fingers today may get clogged with a writing (or sharing?) block next week. But for now, you should know that I'm happy in this fast-paced world of love I live in.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

You know, you'd like to think you're both in all this pain.

An anecdote from a moment in my life the past week --

A couple of nights ago, I curled up in bed with my cat. The husband was out meeting friends, and I excitedly turned on Netflix and settled in for a movie called Broken English. The film has been on my radar for a long time because Netflix said I would enjoy it, it had something to do with France, and it stars two actors I really like - Justin Theroux and Parker Posey.

And I was enjoying it - I really was. It opens in New York and I recognized so many blocks I've walked, eateries and bars I'd been to, and a movie theater (of course). Parker Posey's character was developing well and I laughed and sympathized with her. We would be friends, I'm sure of it, I told Pee Wee as he watched on with me. Posey's suitor in the film, a French dude, was a bit too-good-to-be-true, but I let that slide (I often do for romantic comedies, so why not in this indie romance?).

The story moves to Paris, and like most films that involve Paris, I was whisked into the romantic-whimsical feelings of that place I've never visited. I enjoyed the moments Posey's character had with her married best friend and travel companion, played by Drea de Matteo, and I relished in her solo experiences in a foreign city.


And then the ending hit, a few minutes after a moment of true revelation to Posey's character, and I almost threw the remote control at my television. Firstly, because it should have ended at said revelatous moment (I'm so angry I'm making up WORDS! And, also, I don't want to be spoilery.) and secondly, BECAUSE IT STOLE ONE OF MY FAVOURTIE FILM'S ENDING.

Literally, the last two lines of Broken English (2007) are NEAR EXACT to the last two lines in Before Sunset (2004). Those last two lines are perhaps my favourite ending lines in any movie, ever. Richard Linklater's closing scene is beautifully filmed, and I remember the cuts, the slow zoom-in, the looks on the actors' faces. The Oscar-nominated script for Before Sunset was written by those actors Ethan Hawke, Julie Delpy, as well as director Linklater. Those last two lines run through my head at least ONCE a week.

You know when you have those moments where you get so frustrated and you just want to drop everything, run outside and scream, or let go of all communications to anyone and run away, or just set out somewhere with no idea why - just that you want an adventure because your life seems so far from adventurous right then? In the aftermath of those moments, that's when I repeat those last two lines because they embody some sort of calming beauty to me. (I realize it may be just me.)

The last ten minutes of Broken English indeed left me incredulous, especially since every minute leading up to those last were pretty good. Not great, but good. That ending ruined it. And it ruined it in a much sadder way than The Town's ending ruined the whole (...I pondered to myself after calmly turning off the tv, setting down my remote, and turning off the light to sleep). I thought, perhaps, regarding The Town, I had been too harsh the first time around. But then I watched the movie again. Only to find more examples of craptitude, and I sadly must dismiss that movie's story/writing as well.

Back to me laying in bed on Monday night, eyes wide open, still angry. I rarely read movie reviews before seeing a film, so as not to cloud my head with expectations, and so on Monday night I grabbed my iPhone in the dark and quickly searched "Ebert - Broken English." And I skimmed it for the most part, but here, too, I rested on his last two lines:
There is a very good movie named Before Sunset that begins more or less where this one ends. Which tells you something right there.
Ebert knows.

I believe I can forgive most of Broken English because it was good to a point, and it was only the debut effort of director/writer Zoe Cassavetes (yes, of those Cassavetes). Though I truly have no desire to see it again. And! I can only recommend to any one who wants to see it to NOT waste their time and just watch Before Sunrise and Before Sunset. I forgive Netflix, too, because what else do you suggest to the American girl who has either seen or queued every single French movie you have to offer?

In similar news, if you like Louis CK, go see Hilarious. If the internet, psychology, and making BFFs on the internet are in any way interesting to you, see Catfish (though personally I'd have waited for DVD). If you like comedies that are smart, funny, not corny, and not afraid to be risque, I'd recommend the good jokes in Easy A. And finally, if you enjoy not-of-this-world (but delicious) dialogue, dark and hypnotic directing, and can get past the fact that the story revolves around the very website you may have come to this post from - I'd recommend The Social Network. But, for the most part, just don't see Broken English.

So, how was your week?

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

I like the way you move.

Facts about my birthday and how awesome my friends are...

  • Jesse took me out to dinner at Lil' Frankies and he bought a Ben Sherman shirt for the evening that he hoped "would match my nails" (it did!)
  • Jesse then led me to a "dessert place" that was actually the bar Hi-Fi and a ton of my friends were there which was incredible and great and I felt very loved.
  • Erica picked out IRON MAN 2 as my theme, see photo above. That pin's ribbon says "Birthday Hero."
  • As well as the other Curbside ladies, Amber and Kells, getting me Magnolia cupcakes and cards with kittens on them!
  • All the online love! Thanks, people!
  • At Jonah's birthday hang out on Monday night, Fred Armisen and Abby Elliot showed up (because his awesome, talented, extremely nice sister Vanessa is a featured player on SNL this season!) and he proceeded to make a joke about "have SNL actors ever come to your birthday party?" He mentioned this not only on Monday night, but AT my birthday last night. It was okay, because guess what? Brandon Flowers has been to one of mine! Boom.
  • Unfortunately, Robert Downey Jr. could not make my birthday party.
  • Came home to a cute scarf and earrings from my new roommates Sam & Jim! (I'm wearing the scarf today!)
  • As part of his birthday gift, Jesse and I are going to see American Idiot on Broadway tonight - and Green Day's lead singer Billy Joe is making a special appearance!
  • Pee Wee said happy birthday by spooning with me as I went to sleep. He's a cuddler.
It was a truly memorable birthday and I am so grateful to have such wonderful friends!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

And the sky was made of amethyst.

Thanks to That Ain't Kosher, I had to make a list of seven things - anything. Her own list was quite off-the-wall interesting, and I'll be honest: she's much more creative than I am in discovering what seven things she should cover. However, most of the thoughts on my list are thought about on a daily basis. I present...

Seven Things I Wish I Could Do

01 Dye my hair lavender.

In college, I tried many times to dye my hair purple. It never took because I refused to bleach my hair. And my hair is near-black. With my current position in the corporate world, I don't think having lavender hair would help my professionally, and I'd like to be taken seriously. Also? I highly doubt I could even pull off lighter hair, at all. But I truly lust after a lavender similar to Kelly Osbourne's former shades:

02 Cook intuitively.

I can follow a recipe - I'm good at directions. But understanding food, cooking, baking, measurements, and taste is just out of my scope. I wish I could "whip up dinner" without it being a lengthy process of should I do this or that? Can I do without this one ingredient I don't have? Of course, I overanalyze nearly everything, and meals I cook are not safe!

03 Whistle.

Seriously, I can't whistle. In elementary school (prime whistle-learnin' times) we were banned from doing so, and nobody ever taught me. I look a fool if I even try.

04 Wear socks and heels.

I used to harbor hate for this look secretly because I can't ever do it. Personally I think it's pretty impossible to look the "cute" way it's supposed to unless you have skinny legs. I have shapely legs, and socks with heels would cut me off in severely unflattering ways.

05 Not feel guilty if I ever dressed badly for a couple of weeks and taped myself solely to convince What Not to Wear producers that I deserve a $5,000 shopping spree.

I've given this a lot of thought. But I know there are more deserving people of such sprees than me. I'd feel guilty every time I donned a piece from what would ultimately be called the "Shameful Selfish Shopping Spree Full of Deceit."

06 Related: wear the stylish ensembles created by J.Crew's stylists for their catalogs and not look like a crazy person.

I know I would look ridiculous. But also? Affordability is an issue here.

Sequined shorts + bowtie thing? Couldn't do it right.

So many layers on me would look bulky, not effortless.

These textures look lovely here, but probably monster-like on me. (See also #4)

Okay, OKAY, some of them are actually NOT styled that well, but you get my point.

07 A month-long vacation once a year for me to spend living somewhere around the globe.

Going somewhere for one week or one weekend can sometimes be exhausting for all the planning and activities packed into it. I'd like leisurely vacations in foreign places to explore at my will and take in my surroundings - with my husband, of course! Basically, I want my summer vacations back. (You know, before summer jobs were a requirement.) Places I'd stay? South of France, Buenos Aires, Vienna, George Clooney's Italian Villa (I'm sure I could make that happen), Japan, Spain, etc., etc., etc.!

Jesse and I would simply call up George for the keys.