2004 19 April :: 1.45 am
Alias was AWESOME. Really, it was AWESOME. Holy shit. THIS is what I'm talkin' about!! Sloane and Jack interaction? AWESOME. Sark getting his hot little ass kicked? AWESOME. The entire CIA finally coming down on Lauren's bony little ass? AWESOME. It's about fucking time!
Why did the writers wait all year to give us ONE perfect episode? It's like they stopped smoking their special stash and got their shit together. Ken Olin directed this episode. He fucking ROCKS. His episodes are the BEST. Writing was amazing this episode, return of seasons 1 and 2. All the subplots were zipping at full speed, full of intrigue and tension. I can't believe they didn't clue people in on Lauren's duplicity sooner. It's so much more fun when both parties are trying to double cross each other. However, it takes the CIA years to figure out Lauren while it takes her one episode to do vice versa? Not accepting that, saying as how she is the worst spy ever. If I had been writing Alias and stuck with Lauren, I would have had Lauren evil all along, figured out rather soon, and spent most of the season have both sides play each other. Sort of like the double agents days for Sydney. JJ would get his wish for angst between Vaughn and Syd, with the whole keeping up the marriage facade deal. Lauren would have been a far more tolerable character because at least the audience wouldn't be encouraged to like her, and the tension would have been sustaining throughout the season, as she slowly figures out that they're on to her, but can't disappear easily like Irina did because her activities are fully tracked. Then we'd get genuine drama as both sides have to decide what to do, and build toward the end of season with confrontations, high risk missions, and eventually all powers converging to accomplish this one huge Rambaldi whatever before anyone else. There would be no disgusting Sark relationship. Sark would instead be trying to take down the Covenant with the secret help of Syd and Jack in some kind of grudging alliance of mutual interest, while trying to track down Irina, who betrayed him to the CIA and left him to rot in jail for two years. The season ends with Lauren killed by Vaughn or Syd, the Covenant taken down, the reveal of SpySis, and the return of Lena Olin! A girl can dream...
David Carradine rocks. Sark was in too few scenes. David Anders also rocks, as always. His hair looked great. Yes, that's very important to me. I wasn't digging the flipping hair of the first 2 seasons, and it was too short at the beginning of 3rd season, but right now it's perfect. He's so hot. I wonder what the significance of Carradine knowing Sark's name was. I want Sark to be part of the Prophecy, that the monk recognized from some Rambaldi page from the trillions that seem to be floating around. I want Syd, and Sark to interact in combatting the prophecy that the SpySis (spoiler: name is Nadia, which means "peace" - notice the link to Rambaldi's Il Dire thing?) is to fulfill. I want the younger generation of Syd, Sark and Nadia to inherit the power struggle setup that Jack, Irina, and Sloane currently occupy. I need strong characters, people. You KNOW I'm exciting when I start speculating about the future instead of bitching about the current assy, but getting better, season.
Vaughn's also getting more attractive, now that he's not a pussy whipped tool. Amazing what a pair of balls will do, eh? I was actually nervous for him in that Reed house, which is fantastic now that they have dropped the "Will he die? Gee, I wonder" bullshit. I can't wait until next week, when Sark tortures him. That'll be so pretty.
Jack, oh Jack. "Salut." He's the baddest badass ever. So many great lines, just wicked writing. Victor Garber is a god. Ron Rifkin also. LOVE. Fake death? LOVE. I knew Ron Rifkin had basically a lifetime contract with Alias, but I totally believed that he died. Wow. I love that the twists and turns are original and interesting again. I love that we're finally getting payoff for all these little mysteries they've set up along the way. Especially the Jack-Sloane relationship showdowns. I love that Jack has this complex relationship of friendship and odd loyalty alternating with intense anger and hatred with Sloane. We finally find out why Sloane has done all these things over the years, including the Omnifam bullshit that no one was buying. Fantastic continuity, just amazing. This was really just brilliant writing and storytelling. I just wished we didn't have to sit through a whole year of shit to get this payoff.
SpySis Nadia had better be the hottest, most evil person alive. I want her to be the mini-Irina, a strong, seductive, enigmatic character to rival Syd.
Alias likes to put stuff in people's favourite wines.
More Sark, please.
I'm very happy tonight. Wow, it's been a while since I've thoroughly enjoyed an Alias episode without qualification. I'm back to being this show's bitch.
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2004 15 April :: 2.49 pm
A huge thank you to jessa lynne for unexpectedly paying for my account. I'll keep this one open now, and set up a community at live journal to keep track of the growing number of friends I have there. I'll have this as my book and movie review blog, and maybe separate personal entries to the other one? I'll see...
Apprentice finale on tonight! I don't think you're a great leader persay, but go Kwame! Go Kwame's hot shoulders and thighs! As long as the cameramen throw in gratuitous beefcake shots, I'll still be happy if Bill wins. In all seriousness, Kwame's probably the classiest, most eloquent, respectable, diplomatic and clear headed reality contestant ever. Lacking a bit of assertiveness, perhaps, so he isn't perfect for this job, but I'm still cheering for him.
Watched the Last Samurai. Sort of. Downloaded off the university net thing, in thee parts. Part 2 stopped working halfway through, so my roommate and I just skipped to part three. Heh. Blasphemy, I know. It was well made, I guess, but terribly predictable and hellishly narcisistic, but it's a Tom Cruise movie, so what else do you expect. I thought many of the sequences resembled LOTR, down to the samurai armour which looked very similar to orc costumes. And all my life I had believed that samurai were rather minimalistic in their dress. Here, they've got viking helmets and scaled, woven armour. This is basically a self-serving ego trip for Tom Cruise, with America trying to claim that the Last Samurai was one of their own. Wow. There's Hollywood for you. Sickening, no? 3 stars.
Had my bio exam yesterday, don't think I did as well as I hoped. Oh well. My biology prof died 3 days ago. I didn't think he was a good teacher and I hated the notes that he made for us to study from, but all the time I'm studying and writing the exam I'm thinking - he died. I'm writing a dead man's exam. This is probably the last thing he ever accomplished, putting together my bio exam. I just saw him a couple of weeks ago and all the while I'm disliking this guy who thinks he's funny and witty and interesting while he's really not, and not really a great lecturer either. And now he's gone, heart attack. Damn.
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2004 12 April :: 4.55 pm
So last night's episode didn't suck. Totally. I couldn't stomach GothVaughn - sorry, he looked icky and stupid, and I felt so embarassed I couldn't watch. Sark on the other hand was HOT, as usual, but dude, if someone wants to KILL Lauren, fucking let him!! Don't kill Bomani instead! You fucking dumbass! I really liked the Jack-Sloane faceoffs, and finally Syd's kicking some ass. It's been weeks without a fight, thank god. Still, Lauren's shit is about to hit the fan, and I hope they don't drag it out. Just gut her already.
Watched Femme Fatale. Liked it quite a bit. Brian de Palma was responsible for the pretty, but stupid Lara Croft 2, which he at least didn't write. He wrote and directed this "erotic thriller" and made a rather interesting movie. His shots are gorgeous, wonderful framing, amazing location selections, just a pleasure to watch. The plot is intriguing and original enough - won't give too much away. Basically about Rebecca Romijn-Stamos stealing diamonds and trying to escape. There's obviously more, but I won't get into, just watch it for yourself. The film is extremely sexual in parts, and it's clear that Stamos was chosen more for her perfect body than for her acting skills, which is a shame. She's not terrible, better than I expected, but I wish a more talented actress could have played her character. Yes, physical beauty is obviously a huge part of the allure, but the caustic attitude, the predatory, primal aspect to her personality could have been played better. She almost got there, but not quite. 3.5 stars.
Watched Adaptation. First half of the movie - absolutely wicked. These are the character pieces I love. Nicholas Cage plays a screenwriter and his twin, trying to adapt the novel The Orchid Thief by Susan Orlean into a movie. The film is his struggle with writing the screenplay (which ends up as the screenplay for Adaptation) and with self-loathing in his inabilities as a writer and a person. So the movie is actually a story about writing this movie, ultra-meta. Great dialogue, great acting (I now somewhat respect Nic Cage). I didn't like when it turned all thriller and action-y in the second half, but I guess it was worth it for the great moment between the brothers. Watch it. 4 stars.
Going back to London tomorrow,boo. I'm SO behind with studying. Wow. I'm actually going to have to work now. Shit.
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2004 5 April :: 3.27 pm
You are a GRAMMAR GOD!
If your mission in life is not already to
preserve the English tongue, it should be.
Congratulations and thank you!
How grammatically sound are you?
brought to you by Quizilla
Haha. That was kind of hard. Please, my darlings, try it. Now I have to look up the answers to the ones I didn't know.
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2004 28 March :: 11.52 pm
Watched Monster on Wednesday with Mel. That was one of the most brutal movies I have seen in a while. Basic storyline: True story of serial killer Aileen Wurner who was brutally raped by one of her johns in one of the most traumatizing scenes I have ever witnessed, or not witnessed, as I hid behind my hands and listened to the horrible screams. She shots him dead, and goes home to her lover played by Christine Ricci, who selfishly urges her to continue as a prostitute to earn money. So Aileen continues, but is so thoroughly affected by the rape that she begins to view all men as threatening monsters, and goes on a killing spree, losing the ability to differentiate between right and wrong, and killing a number of harmless men.
Charlize Theron plays the complex main character. Aileen was poorly treated as child by her family and by boys, no childhood friends. She has a naive, powerful sense of hope that over the movie becomes extremely painful to watch; it was probably a survival instinct developed in the rough early years as a coping mechanism, but as an adult who is mentally falling apart, that hope leads to heavy delusion. She's desperate to keep her lover happy, and overcompensates by hooking and killing for money. The movie very sympathically portrays her as someone who is looking for the love and acceptance she has never had. Finally she's found it with Ricci's character, she thinks, but it's obvious that their relationship was borne out of loneliness and desperation. Aileen is selfish with Ricci's affections, unwilling to share her with anyone else. Ricci is immature and childish, looking for a fun time with someone who will take care of her, but she is unwilling to help Aileen support their lifestyle. I believe that Ricci genuinely loves Aileen, but doesn't understand the emotional toil of her prostitution, rape, and escalating murders, and won't assume any responsibility whatsoever. There is a strong protector/protected element to their relationship that contributes to Aileen's ultimate breakdown; the responsibility is too much.
Charlize Theron portrays a very different character from her usual roles, and succeeds in giving us a sad, eternally hopeful woman whose life ends in great tragedy. Ricci's character is much more one-note, and simple, but the innocence, wide-eyed wonder, petulance and growing internal conflict as she watches Aileen continue her killings is very well portrayed. The relationship is strong, and the escalating tensions are deeply felt.
I have rarely been so unsettled and disturbed for such a long period of time. Life is Beautiful had a similar effect; I was bawling through most of movie, but it was more poignantly tragic than brutally violent. I couldn't watch as Aileen began killing more and more irrationally, and couldn't stomach the scenes with her numerous johns. This movie was effective, but extremely empathetic to Aileen; lack of love from childhood, rape, and inconsistent affection from a highly immature, demanding and dependent lover contributed to a tragic loss of sanity for a character who otherwise could have been something good. I realize that this movie's value lies in the attempt to understand her actions, recognize that she wasn't a monster, just someone deeply scarred by repeated abuse. However, at times that angle was somewhat heavy-handed, as if nothing was her fault; that she was driven to madness by circumstances beyond her control. Yes, while that is a valid view, the fact remains that Aileen had the choice to not kill those men, and let her rationale and sanity slip. Her first killing was self-defense, her last was cold-blooded murder. Very memorable, and deeply disturbing. 3.5 stars.
Citizen Kane is regarded by many as the greatest movie ever made. It's the study of the title character after his death through a series of stories told by five or six (can't remember) people who were involved in his life. Excellently executed narrative device; I love non-linear storytelling that forces me to piece together the plot myself. A lot of interesting, innovative techniques used, not of all which I understand, but all of which I can appreciate. Made in 1942, no doubt influenced a ton of movies made thereafter. I admired it, didn't love it because I wasn't very emotionally invested, but I'm definitely rewatching this later in life, when I know more about filmmaking as an art form. 4 stars.
I went home with weekend, spent Saturday with Aleha walking downtown. Fabulous evening, great conversation. I miss her a lot. Everytime I see a very good friend these days it just serves to remind me of how crappy Western is. I'm okay most of time; I can neatly arrange my days by reading or watching movies, but I rarely get the chance to interact with people whom I can really talk to. 4 weeks until summer. Thank the lord.
Alias is back to its usual season 3 suckage. Guess I spoke too soon last week. Pacing awful, dialogue chunky, acting horrible.
Oh, but David Anders can do no wrong. Him and Djimon Hounson sharing the screen? Sweet jesus. HOT. I'm so disappointed my delicious Sark didn't join Bomani in his underwater fun. How could they have missed the boat to stick David Anders in a wetsuit? Djimon, do me a favour and can back soon. And baby? Ditch the shirt. You have a killer, wicked bod.
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2004 23 March :: 2.09 pm
I have a book critique due tomorrow fror which I have to bullshit 1000 words. The book is an easy read, but not particularly insightful or well-written. It's for an MIT class that I despise even more than the one last term, and I need to do well because I don't have to have a mark below 85 this year. This, of course, gets me thinking about the general uselessness of my first year at university, and the futility of trying to do a good job at something too stupid to merit my effort. I expected easy courses and easy grades here, which is definitely the case, but I guess I expected that I could coast through all of it without putting in any effort, which for the most part is true. I have a suitemate who slaves day after day in her science major, earning great grades on the way to a likely 90 plus average. That's great for her; she's earned it. I'm probably not going to get as high an average, and well that doesn't exactly please me, I'm totally ok with the grade/time exchange.
I'm just bitter because sometimes I actually have to put in work. This seems stupid of me; I know. It's university, I'm here to work and learn, blah blah. Except that I'm not learning. Or, I'm learning some bullshit on the relationship between media and sports organizations/government/consumer/whatever that is of absolutely no interest or use to me. I don't want to do that anymore.
It's partially my fault. I chose French, Bio, Calc, thinking yeah, it'll be easy review in the beginning, but I'll get to learn some new stuff later. The whole higher education transition will be easier. I didn't except that my assessment would be such an overestimate. It's almost the end of the year, and as I sit here looking back, trying to determine what exactly I gained, it's hard to find anything that this university gave me. Yes, I have say, 3 great friends I trust. But that's it. In every other respect, school has stood in the way of what I want to do. Extracurriculars suck, people generally suck, classes definitely suck. I'm tired of being surrounded by mediocrity; I want to be inspired by something I learn, enough to go read stuff on it, and scour the internet for every last morsel of knowledge on the subject.
I'm frustrated that university involves a ton of bureaucracy. I hate that with a million "executive" positions on the billions of committees and shit that exist on campus, that the only thing I'm good for is layout. I hate that I can never get a VP finance position, or become an editor for a publication because I don't have ridiculous experience, and I refuse to kiss the interviewer's ass. I hate the people who are ultimately chosen are in no way more qualified or capable than I am, but have learned to present themselves in a more favourable light to get a position that they can put on their resume. They pitch ambitious ideas that will never materialize while I go with a grounded, realistic proposal that is rejected. I'm assigned to the artistic team. Then they slack off or are genuinely not able to do the excellent job that they promised, and I'm here, watching their mediocrity with extreme frustration, piecing together some table of contents page for the fiftieth time. I hate that knowing the right people will indeed result in getting good positions and that people who don't know me assume that I'll good for one thing only.
I have spent the better part of the year in my room reading or watching movies. I love that I have so much time. I LOVE that I can indulge in what I have passion for, that I can drown myself in it for days and not have to worry about neglecting work. But I hate that occasionally I have to drag myself out to complete the useless of assignment of the term and engage in ridiculous small talk with the people who live around me, making small sympathic noises when they complain about work that is so fucking easy. I hate that I take some subjective (read: no all multiple choice) courses in which I can't get perfect. But there's no way I'm ever putting in the work to get a higher score, because no effort get already get me something decent. Why put in 2-3 days of studying to get the extra 5 percent learning useless material when I can just read something that is actually worthwhile?
I'm starved for inspiration. I want something to come along, grab me, shake me by the shoulders, and scream at me to get my ass up and dive in. I know you guys roll your eyes (affectionately, I hope) when you see me superlatively extolling figure skating, Lord of the Rings or some other excellent movie, Alias (last year, anyway) or the latest great experience I had, but I do so because these things inspire me. There is nothing greater than an experience that leaves me feeling like I've just been run over by a truck, a brilliantly executed idea that blows my mind so much that I can't think coherently, just replay the moment of impact again and again and feel its purity.
I don't expect to find this very often; the rarity of the occasion is what makes it so special, but I guess I've always been surrounded by a level of excellence, by people who are so amazing that simply looking at them was enough to make me vow to get into gear and WORK. There have been so many times in class (physics, english, biology, art) or in a conversation with Mr. Fautley when an idea was presented, and my reaction was "Whoa, that's so fucking cool." Moments when I looked at the teacher and he became a hero of some sort, far surperior to anyone else in the world for that fleeting minute, because he was in possession of a power (knowledge, wisdom) that I hungered for. I guess I expected to encounter at least somebody here that could offer that, just once.
This is just a rant, and the sentiment will quickly dull as I get set to write my book critique, but it's there, all the time, always aching a little bit. I was desperate enough to seriously consider a transfer to Waterloo, just as Mel has been granted one to UT. That probably wouldn't have been the answer, now that I've had time to reflect, but I'll never know for sure. I hope summer will be better, and I'm sure it will be, because at least I can spend time with people that I appreciate and respect. I'm still in the middle of On the Road, and what I would LOVE to do is take a road trip with a couple of friends anywhere, and just talk. I hope we can succeed in putting something like that together.
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2004 21 March :: 8.32 pm
So, um, Alias wasn't THAT bad this week either. Huh.
Could it be?
Ugh. Dudes, don't toy with me.
Really, bitches. Don't fuck with me.
They addressed the tension problem. They placed Dixon's kids in danger. Not Sydney. Well, for the most part. Not that the kids were going to die. They can't possibly kill his wife, and then his kid(s). Nice mission, good setup, nice of Syd and Dixon to pair up again. Oh, nostalgia. I like that they continue these tiny little Syd-Sark sexual tension nods. Parallel with the Jack Irina C4 necklace. Ugh, look at me all getting into it again.
I don't like that the writers continue to be inconsistent with Lauren. So one minute she's a sex-crazed bitch who gets off on car chases and killing people, the next minute she's all compassionate and shit with Dixon's tortured state of mind. Whatever.
Keep it up, kids; you might save this sinking ship yet.
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2004 21 March :: 7.11 pm
Orange County was light, but not entirely stupid nor offensive, so 2.5 stars. I wanted a no brainer. I like Jack Black, somewhat. Who knew?
When Harry met Sally was cute, light romantic comedy. I really liked it. Fun, smartly written, just enjoyable. 3.5 stars.
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2004 20 March :: 5.23 pm
American History X
This is a film that needs to be seen. Racism, the breeding of hate through words that don't seem so important. It's so easy to breed anger, so difficult so let it go, move on. This is a movie about the impact of hatred on a white American family and the neighbourhood, and the consequences of starting a racial war. Edward Norton plays a character who was formerly a racist skinhead, convicted of killing two black robbers. He's now reformed due to a friendship with a black man in prison who saved his life, and is back to make amends, and more importantly, dissuade his younger brother Danny to not follow in his footsteps. He finds out, though, but the angry, racial sentiment that he helped build in the neighbourhood has only gotten stronger since his arrest, and it's not simple to derail.
This is excellent social commentary that needs to be heard, even if we are not the perpetrators. It's important to understand and be aware of the root of anger to effectively dispel it. I had some minor issues with the ending and the movie itself, but it doesn't ruin the message nor the movie's social impact. 4 stars.
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2004 20 March :: 12.35 pm
The Royal Tenenbaums was pretty good. Quirky, offbeat dramedy about a father who has been an asshole his entire life trying to get his family to accept him now that he's gone broke. Of course he's not a pure asshole, and through little gestures, he manages to show his family that he's not entirely heartless; just an old lonely man who realizes the errors of his ways. The performances are odd, very cold, and cardboard-like on purpose, but it's all the more touching when the characters show their emotions and pain. A nice, unconventional family film. 3.5 stars.
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2004 18 March :: 5.52 pm
Whoa. Has anyone else seen this movie? I need to talk. Brilliant, at least I think it is. I didn't understand everything, but I felt it. This movie features a series of vignettes that intersect, sometimes in person, mostly just in theme. It's about normal people with various seemingly normal lives who have to deal with the pressure, with the shame and the tragedy of the past and present. Powerful because these people aren't special; they've just lost perspective of the present because they can't come to terms with the past, and they've crossed some kind of line. They're on the verge of having everything fall apart, but they can't let people know. It's a kind of scambling they've done their whole lives and it's led to a series of mistakes they've made that makes them feel guilty, but as they approach an end of some sort - death, death of someone else in their lives - they feel the overwhelming weight of this guilt that they must atone for before it's too late. This is a fantastic movie that doesn't come together in a nice package. I'm still reeling from it, but I loved it. 4.5 stars.
Payback sucks. As does Practical Magic, which sucks more.
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2004 17 March :: 5.39 pm
Snatch was good. I think. That movie moves so quickly it's hard to catch and understand everything. It's my second time watching it. It's funny, totally random, and very very creative. Beyond that, I don't think I understand enough to commentate. It's about a host of different men (thieves, mob, murderers) involved in 2 plots: a staged boxing match, and the hunt for a missing diamond. Everything overlaps, and the characters in the different plots eventual manage to screw each other over in amusing ways. Crazy movie, and I liked it. Everyone talks in very thick accents, or in Brad Pitt's case a parody of an accent, so that really doesn't help with the clarity, but adds an amusing twang to the whole thing. 4 stars.
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2004 17 March :: 3.46 pm
High Fidelity was pretty good. It's about a man who deals with relationship issues that have plagued him his whole life while trying to work things out with his current girlfriend. Great commentary on dating and human interaction, smarter than the premise implies. Jack Black was great as the obnoxious friend. Light, fun movie that delivers more than expected. 3.5 stars
I'm sick today, so took the day off. Heh. Watching movies. It's not like I'm doing anything differently, really, but whatever. I'm so tired.
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2004 15 March :: 5.10 pm
Blow is meh. Seriously, after Requiem for a Dream, is there any other drug movie out there worth watching? They all have the same basic plot: some guy discovers durgs, peddles it, makes some serious bling, operation making too many enemies or things get out of control, spectacular downfall, the end. This movie was ok. Johnny Depp plays a cute guy from Boston who goes to LA in the hippies 60s, lands a local weed distribution gig which soon turns into a national operation of cocaine smuggling from Columbia. Various girls, business partners come in and out of his life, he gets caught a few times, and eventually meets Penelope Cruz's hot Spanish pout, and engages in S&M sex. No, seriously, there's an entire stylistic camera work sequence devoted to illustrating this little, irrelevant factoid. Things take a turn, won't ruin shit for you, predictably sad. True story, apparently. Nothing particularly bad, just predictable rehashing of themes. I like the ending, which probably saved the movie, and bumped my rating to three stars.
Alias was pretty ok.
I know. Color me shocked. The pretty boy fight was lovely. Vaughn's faux accent was not. No Lauren! Wheeeee! A bunch of things still bothered me: of course no one was going to die. I HATE when they try to create tension that way. I loved Syd's kicky red wig, hated the nose ring. Loved Vaughn's glasses. Loved Sark. Oh, Sark, you're so much hotter just standing there than having sex with Lauren. How is it that David Anders can pull off such a better accent? Sloane and Barnett? EW!
In other news: The Apprentice ROCKS.
Next week: Return of the Dixon! Yay!!
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2004 14 March :: 1.09 am
I'm playing hermit this weekend.
Scarface is meh. With such cult devotion to this movie, I thought the story would be more mindblowing. It's basically about a Cuban ex-convict, Al Pacino, arriving in America to escape communism and build his own life, entering a small drug organization and eventually taking over the entire distinct through his brash, hungry attitude. However, as is typical with all power, oce he has it, he becomes paranoid of losing it, and starts going crazy. The more at stake, the more he overcompensates and slowly descends to madness. Not a fun ordeal, and unfortunately not a particularly enlightening one, just an in-your-face ordeal that has adequate writing. Predictable, not groundbreaking personally, but Roger Ebert reminds me gently that this film was made in 1983, when all of this brazen violence was rather original. Alright, so three stars for that. Rather disappointing.
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