Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Movie Listing (2001)

Now, to 2001: year of many a change in my life. New city, new house, new school, "new" family. Hated that year. But it was very good, movie wise.

My favorite movies of 2001:
Moulin Rouge!: directed by Baz Luhrmann, starring my dearest Ewan McGregor and gorgeous Nicole Kidman. This movie brought the musicals back to life - thank God for that! I've always been a little upset that the story has the touch of The Lady of the Camellias. The courtesan that dies from consumption after finding true love... cliché. But the movie is simply amazing! Visually, mind-blowing, and the songs, goose-bumps-giving. And, wow, boy can McGregor sing, are you kidding me? Impressive! One of my favorite movies.

Lord of the Rings - The Fellowship of the Ring: directed by Peter Jackson, starring Elijah Wood, Sean Astin, Viggo Mortensen, Orlando Bloom, Ian McKellen, Sean Bean, Cate Blanchett and Christopher Lee, among many great others. I'm a fan of the books by Tolkien, and I think the LOR trilogy is the best movie adaptation from a book I've ever seen. This movie, just like the others, is spectacular - and I clearly remember catching my breath when Aragorn/Strider takes off his hood for the first time, revealing his face to Frodo. And then I forgot to breathe for a while - he was just soooo handsome.... Anyway, moving on: the story is carefully adapted, maintaining only the essential to make it flow naturally. And if they change a few elements here and there, in order to have more appeal to the great audience (like the substitution of the elf Glorfindel for Arwen), well, who can blame them? One of my faves from all time as well.

A Beautiful Mind: directed by Ron Howard, starring Russell Corwe, Jennifer Connelly, Paul Bettany and Ed Harris. Brilliant, brilliant, brilliant. I can think of no one better to portray John Nash in such a beautiful way than Crowe. And to play such great roles, like Maximus and Nash, so different from each other, in a row... Hands down to this guy. Also to Connelly, she's great! Paul Bettany, whom I abslutely adore, was flawless here! And Crowe totally deserved the Best Leading Actor Oscar, btw.

A Knight's Tale: directed by Brian Helgeland, starring Heath Ledger, Rufus Sewell, Paul Bettany, Laura Fraser, James Purefoy, Mark Addy and Alan Tudyk. Again, top of my list. I absolutely loooove this movie, to the point of knowing Chaucer's introduction speeches by heart. Bittersweet now, with Heath Ledger and all... but for geeks like me, who actually like reading Chaucer, and love Medieval stuff, this was a banquet! And the idea of a modern soundtrack was great. Just don't like Laura Fraser that much... Love James Purefoy's Edward, the Black Prince! Great historical character, he plays a very charismatic prince. But the best part of the film, for me, is always Bettany's Chaucer. Everything is perfect, the way he moves, looks, speaks... Bettany and Ledger acting alongside each other... hard to get any better.

Spirited Away (in the original: Sen to Chihiro kamikakushi): directed by Hayao Miyazaki. This is a jewel of Japanese animation, a kingdom where Miyazaki is the sovereign. Though often compared to Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, this is much more delicate, touching and inspiring. Alice must simply find her way home; Chihiro must find herself in order to go back home. She starts the movie as a whiny sullen pessimistic little girl, and ends it as a hard-working strong and generous girl. And how can one not fall in love with Chihiro and Haku, as they fall for each other? A true masterpiece. 

Shrek: directed by Andrew Adamson and Vicky Jenson. One of the funniest animations to come out in years! This was a score alright. The spoofing of traditional fairy-tales is just priceless! And the voices of Mike Meyers, Eddie Murphy and Cameron Diaz (whom I truly don't like) are just perfect for the roles. Many other parody animations have followed since then, but none has gotten near Shrek. 

Monsters, Inc.: directed by Pete Docter and David Silverman. Disney and Pixar is a perfect combination! The idea that being under the bed or inside the closet is actually the monsters' living is hysterical! And to think that many of them are stooges themselves can make any child stop being afraid of boogey monsters. And the little girl "Boo" makes all of us say "Awwww" whenever she's on screen. Awesome. 

Others worthy of notice that year:
From Hell, Sweet November, Serendipity, Legally Blonde, Bridget Jones's Diary, Gosford Park, The Princess Diaries, Le Fabuleux Destin d'Amélie Poulain, Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, O Xangô de Baker Street, Ocean's Eleven, The Others, America's Sweethearts, Vanilla Sky.

What I regret having watched in 2001:
 Scary Movie 2: the first one was a novelty, and so it managed to be funny. The sequels are not. I did not bother watching any of the others, the second was bad enough. I remember smiling ONCE during the entire movie. Boy, was that a bad date...

Glitter: I did NOT watch it. But the idea of Mariah Carey acting... argh...

Not Another Teen Movie:  gross. Simple like that.

Josie and the Pussycats:  an inferior Spice World. And Spice World was as bad as it gets...

Pearl Harbor: ... Nobody says it better than one of the songs in Team America: "I miss you more than Michael Bay missed the mark/ When he made Pearl Harbor/ I miss you more than that movie missed the point/ And that's an awful lot, girl/ (...) Pearl Harbor sucked/ And I miss you/ I need you more than Ben Affleck needs acting school/ He was terrible in that film/ I need you like Cuba Gooding needed a bigger part/ He's way better than Ben Affleck (...)/ Why does Michael Bay get to keep on making movies? (...)". 'Nuff said.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Movie Listing (2000)

With the end of the decade approaching us, everyone's making lists of "best..." and "worst..." of the 00's. And I thought "why the heck not?".
The first list I thought of making was, of course, a list of the best books. But then it hit me that I'm surprinsingly unaware of contemporary literary works, my wheelhouse being 19th century and before. It's much more advisable my making a list of movies. Therefore, this starts with a trip back to my 15 years of age. Oh, those days... (it was a particularly good year). Bear in mind that this list is exclusively my opinion, regardless of the critics and whatnots, and that I also haven't seen a number of much praised films.

My favorite movies of 2000:
Gladiator: directed by Ridley Scott, starring Russell Crowe and Joaquim Phoenix. The movie that finally threw Crowe in the long-deserved arms of success and world-wide acknowledgement, not to mention the Oscar nod AND the Oscar itself. Great, great movie, from beginning to end. Nothing is overdone - and  this can happen in the blink of an eye when it comes to epics. Most importantly: it doesn't suffer from the presence of overrated leading actors in its midst, like Alexander would, a few years later...

Almost Famous: directed by Cameron Crowe, it revealed my dear, dear Kate Hudson. She managed to gave unexpected life to a role that could've been easily shallow. All the actors shine there and the movie, though with a simple plot, makes you feel like you actually got something from just watching it. If you're a rock fan, this is mandatory, for sure.

Chocolat: directed by Lasse Hallström, starring Juliette Binoche, Johnny Depp, Judi Dench, Alfred Molina and Carrie-Anne Moss. Great cast. Some have complained about the predictability of the plot. Well, it's not about whether you can guess what's gonna come next - but how it makes you feel. Yes, you know Roux is gonna come back, that the Comte de Reynaud and Caroline Clairmont are eventually gonna cave in, and that something's gonna happen to the ashes of Vianne's mom. That's not the point at all. The point is learning more about standing up for what we believe in, about tolerance and love. We need more stories like that nowadays.

Chicken Run: directed by Peter Lord and Nick Park. Brilliant! Specially at a time when the great audience was up to here with Japanese animations. Well, you take that, Jap studios! The British can still kick your butt! (still? when could they ever?... anyway...). The voice cast is rightly chosen, and the lines are something of a genius, like the old rooster Fowler's "Pushy Americans, always showing up late for every war." Ha! And Mrs. Tweedy is simply frightening as the villainess... Had I been younger, I think I would've had a couple of nightmares with her! This is a movie to be seen over and over again. One that makes you believe that hens can actually fly (long distances, I mean). And if they can fly that far, what can't you yourself do, if you set your mind to it?

The Emperor's New Groove: directed by Mark Dindal, it's a much, much underrated Disney movie, and my personal favorite of that year. The last of a long lineage of brilliant animated movies (until this year with the, for me triumphal, return with The Princess and the Frog), this one passed pretty much under the radar. There are no princes in white horses, damsels in distress, fairy-tale castles, singing animals, romance, nor people bursting into song, except for the initial "Emperor's Theme Song", and Sting singing something over the credits - which we can forgive. What it has is a simple plot in a fast pace, with quick-witted jokes and laugh-out-loud satires. It's probably the funniest Disney animation movie since Aladdin. And David Spade's voice for Kuzco is right on the money! And it does have some of the traditional Disney moves: the necessity of the protagonist's internal growth in order to overcome his difficulties, the over-the-top villain, with a stupid but funny sidekick who's usually not really evil, the kind light-hearted peasant who helps the protagonist (usually someone from royalty). Definitely, a Disney classic, not to be missed!

Others worthy of notice that year:
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon; Bedazzled; O Auto da Compadecida; Memento.

What I regret having watched in 2000:
Unbreakable: ok, I gotta be completely honest here. I have no friggin' idea why I didn't like it. The whole thing just seemed so eeeeeendless, and the plot stupid... it did nothing for me. Yes, random and vague, but there's nothing I can, or rather, nothing I wanna do about it.

Cast away: maybe it was the fact that I went to watch it cus it was mandatory for English classes at school, I don't know... point is, I hated it. And good Lord, how I hated the damn volleyball!

The sixth day: an utter waste of time.

Dracula 2000: I bet Anne Rice was tossing and turning in her tomb. Oh wait, she's not dead... I meant Bram Stoker. They're all the same, all those people writing about vampires, what's up with that... But I gotta admit something: the idea of Dracula being actually Judas was really interesting, I'll give it that.

Cruel Intentions 2: how dare they make a sequel without Ryan Phillipe???? That was outrageous, really. Besides, the movie sucked. I choose to forget Amy Adams was Kathryn, cus I absolutely adore Amy Adams.

Blair Witch 2: The Book of Shadows: I haven't seen it. Nor do I intend to, ever. But to think that someone actually deemed it a good idea to create a sequel to the 99 movie (which I did see) is simply ludicruous. And what's UP with this title anyway? Did they copy it from Charmed or something?

2001, here I come!

Sunday, December 27, 2009


Well well well, would u look at that... I said "Humbug!" three times, with all the contempt I'm capable of - and yet, no ghost of Christmas Past, Present nor Future has paid me a visit. I thought they would, u know, telling me to stop being such a spoiled girl, otherwise Tiny Tim would die. Or something like that.
Huh. Apparently, the Xmas Ghosts don't work like Beetlejuice.

Well, that being the case... God bless us everyone! (Jeez...)

Tuesday, December 15, 2009


"I'm not like them/ But I can pretend (...) I think I'm dumb/ Or maybe just happy."
(Dumb, In Utero, Nirvana)

One of my best friends - my brother, actually - is one of the most intelligent people I've ever met. And I know some darn smart people, mind. And yet, he accepts things as they come, doesn't ask himself or anybody else any kind of questions, and that's that. I'd come down to the conclusion that it was out of sheer laziness.
But I found out the true reason the other day, over lunch:
"Man is the only animal that needs to think. All the other animals simply... are. And they're utterly happy. We're not. We keep looking for happiness here and there, never truly finding it. And the more we think about it, the more miserable we become. You know what I really want? To live like an animal. I just wanna fuck, sleep, eat and fuck some more. When we think, we raise questions. Unbearable questions. Why thinking, then? It's just unpleasant."

Yeah, "lazy" is not the word. "Coward"? I don't think so either. I just had to agree. How could I not? Thinking, true thinking, IS unplesant, it IS unbearable, more often than not. How many times haven't I wished that I could just stop?

House M. D. We're in the 6th season, and I see it every goddamn week. A couple of weeks ago, the episode revolved around this guy, Jimmy Sidas, a genius with an I.Q. of 178 - but  who abused his cough medicine, along with booze, to lower his intelligence. He got married to this dumb woman, and worked as a courier. Why?

I work as a courier because I want to. It's easy, I don't have to think.
Dr. Taub [ironic]: It's too hard to think.
Jimmy: No, just unpleasant.

Jimmy: When my brain was on low, everything didn't seem so miserable anymore. Life was bearable.

Jimmy: It's lonely, isn't it?
Dr. House: It's not that bad.
Jimmy: Then you're not that smart. You ever tried to kill yourself?
Dr. House: Not quickly.
Jimmy: I did. 12 years ago I jumped off the top of my eight-story building into a dumpster bin the day before pick up. I broke my collarbone, my leg, and three ribs. When I was in the hospital they put me on narcotics, and suddenly everything was just better. I didn't feel isolated or lonely. That's where I met my wife. She was so happy. And dumb. And I was... smart... and miserable. You tell me who the genius is. I fell in love with her, buzzed out of my head, and I knew I wanted to stay that way forever.
(Esteban Powell as James Sida in Ignorance is bliss, House M. D., 6th season)

It is not for the faint-hearted, indeed.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Quoting Favorites II (or: on Laughter)

"Because he knows you have to laugh at the things that hurt you just to keep yourself in balance, just to keep the world from running you plumb crazy
(One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, by Ken Kesey)

"He knew you can’t really be strong until you can see a funny side to things."

Again, top 3 books.

That laughter, that was exactly what Chief Bromden needed. He was entrapped in the fog of his creation, where everything was heavy and mostrous - where he was small and weak himself.
It took this laughter - this laughter that filled up the silences and voids and shook the room with it - to get him out of there. To make him realize he was actually one of the biggest and strongest guys around. To make him be able to run again.

"If you can't laugh at yourself, life's gonna seem a whole lot longer than you like.
(Natalie Portman as Sam in Garden State)

Wednesday, December 2, 2009


We're always learning. Ooops, cliché alert!
Well, what I've learnt this week is that I need to learn (wow, isn't that repetitive?!) how not to give a crap.
Raindrops are falling on my head/ But that doesn't mean my eyes will soon be turning red/ crying is not for me/ Cause/ I'm never gonna stop the rain by complaining/ Because I'm free/ Nothing's worrying me.
(Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head, B. J. Thomas)
Right on the money.
The rain always, always falls -  how we face it depends entirely on us.
(Credits to M. H., for a great metaphor.)
Somedays we're just not in the mood - we're all dressed up, our hair nicely done, and we don't wanna get wet. We do, and then we get pissed.
Somedays we're in the right mood for that - we see the first raindrops battering agaisnt the windowpane, and we rush out the door, parched for some rain. Gettting wet is all we wanna do then (no pun intended, please).
Somedays we're neither here nor there - and then we think "screw this, I'm already wet, I'm gonna fuck" (pun intended). If life gives you a lemon... you know how the chorus goes. Getting wet, whether we like it or not, that's life. However, we seek shelter from it nonetheless. And that's what relationships are: a shelter from the rain, when it's pouring down.
But shelters are built by human hands, are they not? Just like everything that is human, they're weak. They, too, leak; and we get wet.
At such a time we have two options ahead of us: we can either get pissed all over again, and not forgive our shelter for having failed us so - or we can remind ourselves that, had we built it, it might've been just as weak, and allow others to make mistakes as well. And not give a crap about being wet.
Not giving a crap makes us much, much lighter. Being soaked - to your very bones - and not giving a tiny little rat's ass... talk about freeing.