Thursday, December 30, 2010

Blue Valentine is not an appropriate date movie.

Note: I wrote this a few days ago, then fell asleep halfway through, then went camping for NYE. Soz.

I just went to see Blue Valentine. It was truly amazing. So many types of amazing, in fact, I worry that in my somewhat tired and sleep-deprived state, I won't do the film the justice it deserves.

With regard to context, I had been on the verge of asking a particularly attractive and interesting boy that I've been hanging out with somewhat frequently if he would like to see it. With me.
Good thing I didn't.
It really isn't a date movie. By any stretch of the imagination. I mean, I may have gone to see this with a previous boyfriend of mine, but that's only because we were both film nerds of the massive variety and that's the sort of thing we'd watch at any time of day or night. Be that as it may, this particular boy is not Mitts. Nor is he a cinephile who (I assume, anyway) enjoys watching incredibly emotionally draining arthouse films on dates. Films that include, amongst other things, rather intense sex scenes, abortion, divorce, and many, many arguments.

So. It's a good thing I went with Brian. While our friendship often steps (read: stomps) over the line of decency, I can't say any time spent in the company of only each other could ever be seen as a "date". And let it be said right now, that after watching Blue Valentine, I am rather put off having A Relationship (at least for a little while).

The specs: directed by Derek Cianfrance, starring Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams. In a nutshell? We spend two hours watching a couple's marriage fall apart, while flashing back to the joyous moment that they met and fell madly in love.

This film is utterly, completely heartbreaking. That's the first thing I'll say about it. Watching a relationship break down can't really ever be described as enjoyable, and while I loved the film, it wasn't exactly easy viewing. The performances are brave, honest, and for the film's two hour running time I felt like a sneaky voyeur peeking into somewhere that I shouldn't really be peeking into. That though, is probably the sign of incredible performances from the two leads, and great direction from Cianfrance.

The film opens with Cindy (Williams) and Dean (Gosling) at home with their young daughter, Frankie. He paints houses, she's a nurse. He is never without a beer and cigarette in hand, she doesn't ever seem to smile. Their life seems terribly mundane, and it's obvious that the bright spark of young love faded long ago. The still-young but tired-looking couple can't have a conversation without fighting. Filmed in close ups (with a Red camera), with muted colours, it really is like eavesdropping on their private moments and observing something breaking in slow motion with painful detail.

Contrasting those scenes in wider, somewhat more vibrantly coloured shots (Super 16mm) is the courtship of Dean, who just took a job at a moving company, and Cindy, a college student with a douche-bag boyfriend. She wants to go to medical school and wonders how you know you're in love, he wants to fall in love with a girl completely and utterly, forever. They meet, and marry in a slightly whirlwind romance. Gosling is all confident, brash physicality, Williams is more reserved, enigmatic. They're a great pair onscreen, mesmerising for the two hours that they inhabit the screen.

You know? Brian and I left the cinema in somewhat stunned silence (first words uttered, "Shit, son!") and I admitted that I had cried. I was lying though. I didn't cry just the once. I cried two, three, four times.

I guess I mentioned earlier that the film is emotional, heartbreaking. I have to then add, that Blue Valentine doesn't punch the audience in the face with sentimentality or ham-fisted emotion. The film refuses to tell us perhaps just as much as it does choose to divulge. What happened in the six years in between beginning and the end of the relationship? Who's more to blame? Does it really matter?

Anyway. It was great. One of the best films of 2010, probably an Oscar contender, definitely one of my personal picks of the best of a year that had some pretty gosh-darn fucking good films in it.

Friday, December 24, 2010

"Reb, you don't have to abbreviate everything you say."

On the set of Star Wars: A New Hope. Superb, I think. 

To me, it's become habit to say "soz" instead of "sorry". 
Is this bad? Probably. For someone who values correct grammar and a good vocabulary, this horrible, horrible automatic "soz"ing and this propensity to litter most sentences with "like" is ... painful. 

I apologise. I am trying. 

Try as I might though, it's proving extremely difficult to completely rid my day-to-day vocabulary of "like".
"And I was like, whatever!"
"...then he was like, NAH!"

That's really not the point though. The point is, while I haven't been writing much on this blog due to Christmas and everything that it entails, I haven't been completely idle. Just mostly.

Head over to Cut Print Review to read my article, 10 Festive Films That Won't Make You Vomit

It's festive, it's movies.

From somewhere on Reddit. Sozlol, can't remember where.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Once Chance...

One Chance, by awkwardsilencegames.

This is superb. 

Let's say the world has seven days left, seven days until every living cell on Earth will die. What would you do? What if you were the scientist who accidentally created the virus that will kill everyone on the planet, including your loved ones? You'd only get one shot to get it right, to make those decisions. It's a stunningly simple premise, and an infuriating one at that. 
In One Chance, a simple, side-scrolling adventure by awkwardsilencegames, you really only get one chance. You've got six days, and every day goes by in the blink of an eye. Do you stay at home or go to work to continue to try to find a cure? Do you sleep with a co-worker? The world is ending after all. Or do you say, "Fuck it!" and spend the day with your daughter at the park? 

At the week's close, you might be dead, you might be alive. Did you make the right decision? You won't really know, because it's over. You don't get another shot. 

You don't even need to play the game to guess there's plenty of angered comments to peruse... but in the words of the brains behind it, "You bastards will have to pry this game out of my cold dead hands before I put a replay feature in."

One Chance is bleak, thoughtful, haunting. The music is superb, conjuring a mood that is not only ominous, but slightly urgent and certainly melancholy. 

All the reasons I've named above that intrigued me and made me love this game might drive some people away. It's not a fun game in the same way that oh, say, Robot Unicorn Attack (ha) is, but its merit lies elsewhere. Mostly in the story, the idea, the mood, as well as the fact that it makes you really wonder what would matter to you in the last six days of your life. 

Go play!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Jaw Drop

In Soviet Russia, write ON pencil. 

I did the sitting-at-one's-computer equivalent of a double-take when I laid my eyes on pencil sculptures by Dalton Ghetti. As always, I was alerted to his existence and skill via Reddit, sent to this site. Some quick Googling followed being met with Russian, and thus, I've spent the past hour so looking at photos of tiny, tiny sculptures. The mind boggles at the steady hand, patience and amounts of sheer skill needed to complete just one of these mini works of undiluted awesome.

Go, go gadget jaw drop. Thanks Reddit, for sending me to Willard Wigan (sounds like a super hero to me ... ), the master of the microscopic sculpture. Apparently, he is only able to do some of his work between heartbeats. That to me, is something of downright Jedi proportions. Except, you know, it's real.

That's a girl on an eyelash, on the end of a needle. THE FUCK.
Wigan pictures from here.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Let the Right One In

I've spent the past week or so pondering horror films. More specifically, that I find a great number of horror films released (for lack of a better term I guess) "nowadays" to be somewhat lacklustre. So last night I was rifling through my brother's DVDs and was intrigued to find he had a copy of Let the Right One In (or, Låt den rätte komma in). I hadn't ever gotten around to watching it or it's American remake, Let Me In, so I promptly sat down, quite ready to have the bejesus scared out of me. 

Not so, bro, it seems. 

Rather than the jumpy, terrifying vampire flick I was expecting, I found myself watching a gorgeous coming-of-age film. A captivating, beautiful one at that. Being that Eli, the mysterious girl that our bullied, lonely protagonist Oskar becomes involved with is a VAMPIRE, one has to expect a certain amount of darkness to the film. Well, there's plenty. Much of Let Me In takes place at night, in the gorgeous, snow-covered landscape of Sweden. The black night sky, the falling snow, the thoughtful meandering pace of the film made for a cinematic experience that was completely mesmerising. Let the Right One In is absolutely beautifully photographed. Every shot, every scene, is something to behold and be swept up in. Of course, it helps that the two young leads are superb also. While of course, given the subject matter and the fact that Eli does feast upon a number of locals throughout the film, Let the Right One In does have the ominous feeling that you'd expect. The kind that makes one expect tragedy to befall poor Oskar at any moment. However, rather than huddling under a pillow, I found myself enthralled and charmed. Winner.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Oh hai, summer.

So far, summer weather has shown itself to be akin to a moody fifteen-year old girls. Prone to wailing tears, doorslams and then bright sunny moods that suddenly revert back to sulking.

In fact, today I happily awoke to streams of sunlight bursting through my window. That isn't to say that the sound of rain pattering on the tin roof of my backyard abode isn't a lovely sound to wake up to, but I much prefer the warm ground under my toes over having to wade through ankle deep water to get into the house.

This really doesn't do any justice to how inconvenient and
surprisingly deep the water is outside my room.

However, as this is Melbourne after all, it's pouring with rain and Elvis the Dog is cowering on the couch at the sound of thunder. It appears I'll be stepping my hunt for an umbrella up a notch.

I have to admit, I'm a little envious of Mitch's lamentations about his pale Irish skin being burnt to a crisp over in Perth. In the time that I've spent writing this, the rain has stopped, the sun has come out, and then the rain has thus resumed (with the sun still out).

I suppose I have a love-hate relationship with summer. For all the endless complaining about sitting around covered in sweat and constantly feeling uncomfortable I'll be doing in about a month's time, all I feel like doing at the moment when a (half) day of sunshine occurs is smiling. It's amazing, how a sky of more blue than grey can lift the mood of pretty much everyone. People are cheerier, more polite, and certainly in Melbourne, are prone to disrobing at the first sign of sun. I guess that means these legs'll eventually have to see the light of day. I suppose I owe them that much. Without a trace of a joke, I can honestly say that I can count the number of times my legs have been out from under tights or jeans (in public of course, I lounge around in shorts all the time at home) in the past five months on two hands. Ridiculous, no? Time to hit the gym, and make my pale legs match the colour of my arms.

The few feeble days of proper sunshine in the past week or so have been seized upon however, and luckily for us, the weather gods smiled down on us throughout the entire day of our outdoor escapades. Brian, Fish, some pals from work and I trouped down to Chesterfield farm earlier this week to engage in some hayfever, picnicking, and delighted squealing at baby animals. There's just something about seeing cuter, smaller versions of already quite cute animals that brings forth the inner squealing girl in me. And everyone else, it seems. There were baby goats (who seemed intent on eating our clothing and bags), a baby cow, countless bunnies, baby pigs, baby chickens, and baby ducks. Hell, there was even a baby llama accompanied by his mother. A small posse of geese roamed the farm, honking at us, and an ugly turkey sat there, staring. We scampered around, our voices significantly more high pitched than they usually are. The presence of deer, donkeys, sheep, bunnies and especially the llamas even made me forget that I was sneezing every two minutes and I had been bitten on the face by a spider (I'm not even kidding).

Photos via Brian

To top it all off, there was definitely a delicious picnic involved. Everyone brought sandwiches, enough for everyone else to have a few, so as a result the sheer amount of food was akin what one would use to feed a Lord of the Rings sized army. Fish even made profiteroles. Those, combined with the fairy bread Carly brought, meant that I for one, felt like I should have been rolled back to the carpark. Certainly, that would have been preferable to walking. I still have sandwiches in my fridge, if anyone's interested.

Let you be a witness now as I vow to at, one point in my life, somewhere in the future, own a llama. It's testament to my overwhelming love of llamas that I am posting this picture up (again, courtesy of Brian) even when I look sickly (thanks hayfever and spider), sans make up, and my ridiculous excitement means I have about ten thousand chins. There is something very, very spectacular about llamas.