Archive for the 'movie' Category

Just because it’s awesome (“all we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us”)

Thursday, April 22nd, 2010

I got the opportunity to use a quote in conversation to a colleague about a difficult work situation which a friend and former colleague once said to me at the right time:

Frodo: I wish the ring had never come to me. I wish none of this had happened.

Gandalf: So do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us. There are other forces at work in this world Frodo, besides the will of evil. Bilbo was meant to find the Ring. In which case, you were also meant to have it. And that is an encouraging thought.

– Lord of the Rings

Things I saw today (opening/end credits)

Sunday, July 5th, 2009

Casino Royale is on and again, I was struck by how stunningly beautiful the credits are:

Seeing it again I noticed details I’d missed like Vesper’s face as the Queen as the gun sights move past it and how the hearts on the 7 card become broken.

I was trying to think of any other credits that I’d been so impressed by and I remembered I thought Iron Man’s end credits were great when I saw the movie and so I looked again for them, but I have to say, though very good, they’re not quite as amazing as Casino Royale (still really good).

(update: Unfortunately, they’ve removed the audio from the video and it doesn’t seem to be available anywhere else. Not worth watching now – boo hiss WMG!)

Things I saw today (End of the Affair)

Monday, May 25th, 2009

I tripped across a film stills site which had images of The End of the Affair, one of my favorite movies and one which I mention often but amongst my friends at least, seems not so widely seen.

Julianne Moore is absolutely luminous:

And Ralph Fiennes’ performance in this movie is simply incredible. I’m astounded at the range of emotions – love, desire, anger, sadness, not just longing but aching – he can express while also visibly, so Britishly, repressing them.

The actors are perfect for the era, the cinematography lush and dark, the story passionate, simple and sad.

Things I saw today (Animation backgrounds)

Saturday, July 26th, 2008

Animation Backgrounds gathers the beautiful backgrounds of cartoon movies.

As a child, cartoons strongly informed my understanding of other places in the world, how adults interacted or how things worked (or as with a favorite Bugs Bunny cartoon, formed the entirety of my knowledge of opera). It’s interesting to re-see these spaces with adult eyes and to realize the degree to which they lurk in my subconscious.

From Cinderella

From Bambi

From Bugs Bunny

From The Rescuers

From Tom and Jerry

From Peter Pan

From Lady and the Tramp

Time Traveler’s Wife, Eric Bana

Saturday, June 21st, 2008

Dean mentioned the other day that they’re making a movie of The Time Traveler’s Wife, a wonderful book. It is a moving love story (moving, as one can gather from the title, in time as well as emotion). It is both complex and achingly simple. I was bracing myself to be disappointed when I followed the link to read about the movie. I was shocked, ecstatic, when I saw they’d cast Eric Bana. I thought: “They got it right, for once, absolutely, perfectly, right!”

Eric Bana is one of my favorite actors. He is very masculine yet exudes vulnerability. He is complex yet never pretentious and even when playing violent characters, (as he often seems to do), can project an amazing gentleness. He is always completely believable and more just than being believable, he adds something indescribable, something compelling and he is so subtly arresting that he can seem like the most real thing in the movie, as though other parts fade slightly into the background. It’s hard to take your eyes off him.

The first time I saw him was in the Australian movie Chopper about a notorious criminal, Chopper Read. I remember being floored by his performance.

The killer who feels no remorse is a movie cliché, but Chopper is about a killer whose remorse is as strong as his initial desire to wound, a much more interesting basis for a drama. Every time he hurts someone in the movie, he becomes immediately regretful and worried about their safety. ‘You alright Keith?’ he asks Keithy George (David Field) after stabbing him nine times in the face in H Division, the most notorious wing of Pentridge Prison….

– “Chopper” from Australian Screen

A scene from the movie which still echos with me is in a prison room where Chopper’s friend Jimmy stabs him several times. The look on Bana’s face and his tone when he asks: “What are you doing, mate?” in a genuinely surprised, bemused, even caring way, amazed me.

In another scene, he’s out of prison and with his hooker girlfriend; she is talking about her clients and he plaintively asks her something like: “but I’m the only one you kiss, right?”. Then there’s a scene later when he beats her and yells at her after: “Now look what you’ve done! Your Mum’s upset!” with something like anguish. The crashing together of horrifying acts and a such a likable character is what makes the movie so disorienting and so amazing. I liked this character, it’s hard not to, but I had a hard time reconciling this continued desire to like him as he did such awful things. I think the scene of him hitting his girlfriend (you don’t actually see the blows connect, which in some ways makes it worse, as your mind fills in the action) was the first time in a movie that I’d gotten a glimpse behind the dark part of love mixed with anger and felt the merest twinge of sympathy for the pain which drives the aggressor. It wasn’t a glimpse I wanted to have and my reaction confused and upset me. It’s rare enough to be moved at all by films, let alone be moved to an understanding, to a place I hadn’t wished to see. Bana is a much more likable and sympathetic person than the real Chopper, I’m sure — he was the one who was so likable and he wasn’t really hitting the girl, but I had to consciously think like this, distinguishing the actor from the character. My thought after seeing this movie and the feelings it inspired was that he was an almost dangerously good actor.

The next movie I saw him in was Black Hawk Down. Though this is a big-budget war movie, I felt an unexpected level of empathy for the characters and, as when I watched the movie Master and Commander, I felt I got a brief glimpse into the world of men in war, grasped some of the fortitude it must take to not just to run at people who are shooting at you, but what must be the constant stress and pressure of living up to some notion of honor or masculinity or even just getting through the situation. Probably because my personality type is so exactly opposite this physical, militaristic, masculine type, I find it fascinating, if intensely foreign, to watch it in such a well done movie (with, however, no little gratitude in the end for being as abstract, introspective and female as I am). Bana has a small role but he stands out and shows his amazing skill with accents.

I thought he was one of the most watchable parts of the roundly awful (though wonderfully fun) Troy and I loved his performance in the Hulk.

I think Ang Lee’s Hulk is very under-appreciated and Bana’s performance is the saving grace of the movie for me.

There is something powerful and moving in watching a gentle, thoughtful man who has previously relied on a fierce suppression of emotion, wrestle with childhood demons and hurts, wrestle with his own rage and strength. Bruce says to Betty: “Even now I can feel it, buried somewhere deep inside, watching me, waiting… But you know what scares me the most? When I can’t fight it anymore, when it takes over, when I totally lose control… I like it. ”

One aspect I haven’t seen addressed in the reviews I’ve read is the issue of adoption as part of what makes Bruce the way he is. In the beginning, Bruce doesn’t know where he came from, doesn’t know who is he is; he is deeply different and he uses a supression of emotion as defense against the world, against others, against what lurks underneath in his genes and in his mind.

I think too that there’s a message in the movie about love, about acceptance and understanding; that in some ways, rage is a less powerful force and that it is love that saves. The relationship between Betty and Bruce is important though not very deeply explored. It it she to whom he tries to express himself; it is her presence, wanting to be near her, which allows him to transform from monster to man.

Though I know it is based on a comic-book I was frustrated at the comic-book rules of the movie like that in the end he must leave the woman he loves and isolate himself in a jungle where his remaining strength is not understanding but anger (like how Spider Man leaves Mary Jane at the end of Spider Man 1 and how Batman can have a girlfriend but not a long-term relationship). I would happily cut out almost all parts with Nick Nolte or the CGI monster, too. In fact, now I’m imagining a movie where the green bits happen ‘off stage’ and we see only the man and what moves him. It would be more subtle but, to me at least, more interesting (though I suppose that movie would have to be called “The Bruce!”). The movie is a let-down in many ways but I think that Lee explored things in a very interesting and deeper, if flawed way, and that Bana managed to make a three-dimensional character in a two-dimensional story.

The last movie I saw him in was Munich. The movie opens with the taking and killing of Israeli hostages at the Olympic Games of 1972 and it traces the aftermath and retaliation by a small, undercover group of Israelis, led by Bana’s character Avner.

Again, I found Bana’s performance absolutely mesmerizing. It’s like the other actors almost recede to the background in his presence somehow. It took me forever to recognize Mathieu Kassovitz as Nino from Amelie and Daniel Craig, who I thought was pitch-perfect: masculine, suave and controlled as James Bond, hardly registered. Ciarán Hinds stood out in a wonderful performance as Carl the “cleaner” but Bana was the heart of the movie.

This movie might be one of the most haunting performances of his that I’ve seen. These men do not start out as cold, professional killers. Avner is a loving husband and father and his joy in and longing for the family he must spend so much time away from is affecting. As the story progresses and the assassinations become further and further removed from the sense of rightness, or righteousness they started with, the men begin to question what they’re doing, what matters and to lose themselves. You can see Avner disintegrating from the inside, the wear on his face, in his eyes. It becomes agonizing to watch and the final scenes, when he comes back to his wife and his family damaged and obsessed, are painful and sad.

I’m looking forward to seeing him, one of my favorite actors, as Henry DeTamble, one of my favorite literary characters.

Henry: How does it feel? How does it feel?

Sometimes it feels as though your attention has wandered for just an instant. Then, with a start, you realize that the book you were holding, the red plaid cotton shirt with white buttons, the favorite black jeans and the maroon socks with an almost-hole in one heel, the living room, the about-to-whistle tea kettle in the kitchen: all of these have vanished. You are standing, naked as a jaybird, up to your ankles in ice water in a ditch along an unidentified rural route. You wait a minute to see if maybe you will just snap right back to your book, your apartment, et cetera. After about five minutes of swearing and shivering and hoping to hell you can just disappear, you start walking in any direction, which will eventually yield a farmhouse, where you have the option of stealing or explaining. Stealing will sometimes land you in jail, but explaining is more tedious and time consuming and involves lying anyway, and also sometimes results in being hauled off to jail, so what the hell….

How does it feel?

It feels exactly like one of those dreams in which you suddenly realize that you have to take a test you haven’t studied for and you aren’t wearing any clothes. And you’ve left your wallet at home…

Is there a logic, a rule to all this coming and going, all this dislocation? Is there a way to stay put, to embrace the present with every cell? I don’t know. There are clues; as with any disease there are patterns, possibilities. Exhaustion, loud noises, stress, standing up suddenly, flashing light — any of these can trigger an episode. But: I can be reading the Sunday Times, coffee in hand and Clare dozing beside me on our bed and suddenly I’m in 1976 watching my thirteen-year-old self mow my grandparents’ lawn. Some of these episodes last only moments; it’s like listening to a car radio that’s having trouble holding on to a station. I find myself in crowds, audiences, mobs. Just as often I am alone, in a field, house, car, on a beach, in a grammar school in the middle of the night…

It’s ironic, really. All my pleasures are homey ones: armchair splendor, the sedate excitements of domesticity. All I ask for are humble delights. A mystery novel in bed, the smell of Clare’s long red-gold hair damp from washing, a postcard from a friend on vacation, cream dispersing into coffee, the softness of the skin under Clare’s breasts, the symmetry of grocery bags sitting on the kitchen counter waiting to be unpacked. I love meandering through the stacks at the library after the patrons have gone home, lightly touching the spines of the books. These are the things that can pierce me with longing when I am displaced from them by Time’s whim…

I hate to be where she is not, when she is not. And yet, I am always going, and she cannot follow.

– Audrey Niffenegger
The Time Traveler’s Wife

avoidance (things that made me laugh)

Wednesday, April 18th, 2007

This cartoon reminded me of one of Coralie and my favorite scenes from “The Science of Sleep” (trailer) where Stéphane jumps onto the bed, curls up and covers his eyes when caught by Stephanie in her room.

these are a few of my favorite things (‘Sabotage’ and ‘Praise You’)

Thursday, February 1st, 2007

In a work conversation today (describing the aqua blue leather couches and general 70s decor of some meeting hotels we were considering, then side burns, mustaches and ‘foxy’ polyester dresses), I thought of one of my favorite music video ever*, “Sabotage” for the Beastie Boys by Spike Jonze.

Probably my favorite video is “Praise You” for Fat Boy Slim, also by Jonze. When this video first came out, I made my sister miss her exit (twice!) from laughing while I was trying to describe and act out the dancing in the car.

At dinner one night a colleague asked us which video we’d watch if we had to watch one over and over again and this was my choice. I said I’d take the opportunity to learn the dance. Dean, who was there, later offered to learn the Napoleon Dynamite dance if I’d learn this one — a bet I am still willing to take on. Get your moon boots on, Aussie!

*To be completely honest, if the overall strength of liking a video counts instead of just the most current favorite in defining “favorite, ever” then the answer would be greatly, embarrassingly, skewed by the blinding ecstasy with which I loved some Duran Duran videos when I was 13 years old (Simon LeBon, *sigh*). I may someday embarrass myself further on this topic.

Things I saw today (Star Trekkin)

Friday, July 14th, 2006

It routinely happens that I learn (or see) something and it’s not important, or even necessarily interesting, but I realize that it’s going to stick in my head.

In the spirit of the astounding, terrifying and yet, awesome, Mr. T “Mother” video – the link to which I sent around in an email to friends with the note: “I’ve seen it, now it’s in my head and you must suffer too” – I thought I’d start a category of “things I saw (or learned) today. Here is today’s offering: “Star Trekkin” (via Dean).

Also from Dean: Happy Morning

World Cup practice

Tuesday, June 27th, 2006

Max found this brilliant ad:

I don’t know who to root for (or cheer for, depending on where you’re from in the world and exactly how you think I should encourage my team) now that Australia is out.

Blocks of time – Saturday morning or “Still Life (with clown and mattress)”

Saturday, June 24th, 2006

7:34am: I wake up, it’s a grey day. I wander around the house a bit, see who is on IRC and decide go back to sleep.

9:15am: I wake up again, it’s still grey out. I eat, have some coffee and look at news, blogs and Flickr from my RSS reader

10:49am: I’ve been sitting with my laptop for more than an hour, a friend of my sister Marijke’s comes to see some of the furniture she is selling. Being one of Marijke’s friends, chances are fairly good she thinks I’m unfriendly and a bit odd. I wave from my chair but don’t get up.

11:20am I look up from the laptop and there’s a black-and-white movie on TV but I haven’t been paying attention so I’m not sure what’s going on. Ah, someone chokes a clown! This might be worth watching.

11:34am: I decide (yet again) that I like the make-up style from the 40s.

11:38am: Though I am not, in fact, 13 years old, I play with make-up. I don’t get the 40s look quite right.

1:11pm: Cereal for lunch. Convention can consider itself flouted! What a whirlwind life, eh?

2:04pm: Shower (yes, finally).

2:20pm: Driving – the red light is rather beautiful against the still grey sky.

2:34pm: At a coffee place, I have the iced mocha and Marijke has the lemonade. I hear a girl at a table near us say loudly at one point: “She’s a slutbag!” to her friend, who doesn’t say much.

3:25pm: We go to one of those huge, overwhelming mega-stores that sells 50 lb. tubs of mayonnaise and four weeks worth of cereal and I’m proud, now that I’m more used to it, to have pretty much stopped cringing and whimpering when I walk through the door.

5:03pm: I buy a new mattress at the mega-store! (they really do have everything). It’s one of those lovely, lovely memory foam ones I’ve been coveting for almost a year now. Yummm.

9:42pm: Cleaning, laundry, other house things done, I lay on the really quite delightful mattress and watch Poirot. Mischief (of a dull kind) managed.