icepixie: ([Skating] Z&G marionette far away)
Yesterday during my lesson, I actually managed to center a spin of more than two revolutions. (It was somewhere between three and five; it's hard to count revs while you're in one.) THIS HAS NEVER HAPPENED BEFORE. Did I mention I finally found the spin rocker on my blades? (On any blades, for that matter; I never found it on my old ones.) I can feel the drag pick scraping when I spin, which is not ideal but is a hell of a lot better than I've ever managed before, because it means I'm just a millimeter forward of the right spot rather than half an inch behind it.

I just need that to show up for the test on Friday. I didn't get a chance to try and center one out of P's sight because my lesson was at the end of the session, but I'm certainly going to try tomorrow. (Skating reminds me of my struggles with math in K-12. Everything worked perfectly in class when the teacher was there, but the minute I tried to do stuff we'd just done that school day at home, everything went to hell. I grew up practically believing math teachers were magic and I could only really do math in their presence. My skating always improves when I'm in a lesson, even when P is not actually giving me corrections at that moment.)

*

I watched Guardians of the Galaxy this weekend. I went into it completely blind, purely on the recommendation of a co-worker. Things I was not expecting:

1. The talking raccoon.
2. Lee Pace.
3. Sweet, innocent, adorable Lee Pace as the villain.
4. Lee Pace with his eyebrows covered up (sacrilege!).
5....except I guess on some level you could argue that the makeup department made his eyebrows take over his entire face? But they were still hidden by makeup! Why do you have a Lee Pace and immobilize his eyebrows??

I wasn't impressed with the movie. It felt like it had the structure of a children's movie, with half-hearted attempts at the trappings of an adult movie thrown in at random intervals. Pixar manages to do the "kids movie with some fun bits for the adults," but this was not like that at all. It was awkward and weird.

The tree was cool, though. I liked the tree.

*

How much stock should we put in the ever-more-substantiated rumors of an X-Files remake/continuation with Duchovny and Anderson? Part of me is squeeing uncontrollably, while another part is remembering that the second movie was actually not that good, so I have mixed feelings.
icepixie: ([Movies] Remy OMG)
My coach, C, is leaving in July to go to medical school. If P, who taught the edges and MITF class, is taking new students, I'd like to switch to her, but if not then perhaps T, who taught a group class I liked and whose specialty is spins. Right now, I need all the spin help I can get.

I did at least learn the usual back crossovers to an inside edge, step forward into the spin spin entry this weekend. I just...don't really have a spin to go with it yet. But I feel totally legit while I'm setting it up!

Other big things: I'm all signed up for allergy shots and just need to wait for them to make my serum. I'm going to have to get three shots at each visit (because I REACT TO EVERYTHING), which sucks, but I work less than a block from the clinic, so I can easily get myself through the induction shots more quickly by going three times a week rather than two, and then it's only a maintenance dose every other week for a few years. With luck, this will mean less medication over time. And if I could get to a point where I could ditch the dust mite cover on my mattress, that would be great, because sleeping on what is essentially plastic is hot.

And my laparoscopy is Monday. I can't say I'm looking forward to it, but I am looking forward to the anticipated results.

*

Seen around:

That Crucial Movie meme...Everyone should post their ten most CRUCIAL CRUCIAL CRUCIAL-ASS movies, like the movies that explain everything about yourselves in your current incarnations (not necessarily your ten favorite movies but the ten movies that you, as a person existing currently, feel would help people get to know you) (they can change later on obviously).

Contact
The Cutting Edge
Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow
(for my aesthetic!)
It Happened One Night
It's hard to pick just one Astaire/Rogers flick, but perhaps Shall We Dance
You've Got Mail
The Sound of Music
GATTACA
Alice in Wonderland
(Disney animated version)
The Thin Man (or really any Myrna Loy/William Powell comedy)
icepixie: ([Movies] Myrna Loy as a blonde)
Learned forward inside three turns today!

...Totally wiped out on one!

Thankfully, it was more of an embarrassing fall than a painful one, though I'll probably feel it tomorrow. I landed flat on my butt/back, so I have some padding there that took the brunt of the impact. Nevertheless, I managed to complete several in each direction.

My arms are a mess on the inside and outside turns, though less so on the clockwise ones. Between that and my distinctly poorer ability to "open" my left hip, I'm starting to wonder if skeletal structure is playing a part in this. My right hip is higher and sticks out more, and while it's not obvious to my eye in the mirror, I suspect that does something to my right shoulder that makes it correspondingly more "closed."

Or maybe I just need to practice more.

All I need to pass Gamma is the stupid hockey stop. Rar. I'm getting there, but it's slow.

My instructor and I were talking about ballroom dance (she's an ice dancer, so she's done a bit of ballroom) and I think we may wind up going to the Monday night old people's dance lesson/party someday soon. That would be fun! Pain-inducing the next morning when I have to get up early after getting home late, but, you know.

*

After being a doofus and missing it when it was in the theaters (the first movie I actually wanted to see in 3D!), I finally watched The Great Gatsby last night. Spoilers )
icepixie: ([Movies] Fred and Ginger heart)
I watched De-Lovely last night, which is a biopic about Cole Porter that came out in 2004. I knew absolutely nothing about Porter except that he wrote "Night and Day" and "Anything Goes," and was otherwise well-regarded as a Broadway/jazz standard composer in the first half of the twentieth century. Now, of course, I know much more. I was iffy on the "Cole Porter's ghost and the director of a musical based on his life talk about the musical as it goes on" structure, but by the end I had warmed to it. Actually, I thought it was a bit reminiscent of Copenhagen, which is one of my favorite movies.

I also have new respect for Porter as a lyricist. Holy crap, those lyrics are awesome! He must have been, like, a living rhyming dictionary or something. And even more impressive, the rhymes almost never sound forced. First they're surprising, and then when you think about them for a second, you realize how inevitable they were. Obviously he was, you know, not a bad composer either.

The "unconventional" love story was not bad either, although admittedly the entire movie was basically an excuse to feature as many Porter songs as possible, and I was totally okay with that.

Since I'm on the topic, have a link to this very cute ensemble skating number to one of the songs from the movie ("Let's Misbehave"). Charleston and tap dance on skates! Yes!
icepixie: ([Movies] Myrna Loy as a blonde)
Because sometimes you just need to write a missing scene for a 75-year-old movie almost no one still alive has seen, you know? (P.S. It's Myrna Loy and William Powell being cute and awesome, so you should watch it!)

This also fulfills the "being silly" square on my Cotton Candy Bingo card.

Title: On the Sunny Side of the Beach
Rating: Ever so G
Word count: 1650
Pairing: Charlie Lodge/Margit Agnew UST
Summary: "This morning by the sea, this afternoon in the woods..." Well, we saw the woods. I couldn't help but wonder about the sea.

'How can you really appreciate a summer day at the sea without a bathing suit?' / ' I believe I can manage.' )
icepixie: ([Movies] Fred and Ginger heart)
[So, um...hi. I intended to write an LJ entry of moderate size, but 4,000 words later, I appear to have an essay. I feel like this might be a metaphor for my life.]

My most recent vid has inspired me to poke some more at my screwball comedy vid. I have several films lined up for it, but I figure I could probably use more, and I might want to switch some of them out for better representatives of the genre. Which led me to the question, apparently rather difficult to answer, of what exactly constitutes a screwball film, or even screwball comedy as a genre. More than most genres, it seems to be a case of "I know it when I see it."

Still, I figured there had to be some kind of guidelines. For answers, I turned to James Harvey's Romantic Comedy in Hollywood from Lubitsch to Sturges, which the internet tells me is one of the most highly-regarded texts in this field. I skimmed a couple chapters of it for my Modernism and ballroom dance (with a special appearance by Fred and Ginger) paper in grad school, but due to time constraints never read the rest of it.

It's a very good book: extremely readable, well-argued and supported, covering a good breadth of material, making a thorough analysis of specific films or scenes where warranted. Harvey's also an unexpectedly funny guy; the text is aimed at an educated popular audience, but it's still written mostly in academese...except when he calls this character a "dumbass," or says these characters are "talking shit." 1 He also has this hilarious vendetta against Ronald Reagan (the book was published in 1987) that he carries out in the footnotes and which even intrudes into the text in the concluding chapter. He links Reagan to Capra's socially conscious films like Mr. Deeds Goes to Town and Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, which he deplores basically for being boring and false. This was my favorite bit: "[Y]oung people, who get restive at the high romanticism of old movies...sit rapt and unprotesting and apparently moved through the platitudes of Meet John Doe and Mr. Deeds Goes to Town. The Capra vision isn't dead. [footnote] Unhappily. Reagan in the White House (a Capra event in itself, though certainly no joke) 'explains' his economic policies to reporters by quoting 'lengthy passages' from Mr. Deeds Goes to Town!"

Harvey and I agree on many things. Our views on Capra are very similar; I find his movies bland and platitudinous, except for It Happened One Night, which is in my top five movies (Harvey loves it too). Like me, his favorite Astaire/Rogers film, at least scriptwise, is Shall We Dance. We both find My Man Godfrey overrated. But we differ on Irene Dunne, and specifically on The Awful Truth, which he considers the epitome of screwball comedies, and which I couldn't even make it halfway through, I found it so painfully unfunny.

He's a little too into the director-as-auteur theory for my tastes, which I think influences his tendency to ramble on about an individual director's whole oeuvre, from westerns to melodramas, rather than focusing on the romantic comedies. The book could do with tightening there. But overall, it's excellent.

It also helped me define screwball comedy for myself. Well, sort of. Mostly. In a way. Because it is a very tricksy genre. )

Anyway, ALL OF THIS IS TO SAY...what are your favorite screwball comedies? What do you think makes one? OMG, TALK TO ME PLZ.

Footnotes )
icepixie: ([Movies] Fred and Ginger heart)
My Fandom Stocking has been hung! I would love to get fic for anything on my list, or general notes and/or squee from y'all. If you're participating this year, point me at your stocking so I can leave you things!

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I've been cruising Tumblr lately. Here are some fruits of my voyages.

Photo of Ginger Rogers attempting to put makeup on a German Shepherd. Dog: "LOL no."

In which Ginger Rogers kicks ass, 1938 style. Seriously, that is hilarious. The movie it's from, Vivacious Lady, is pretty good too.

A sweet picture of Myrna Loy and William Powell I've never seen before. It looks like it might be a still from one of the later Thin Man movies.

Art Deco Batman posters. This one too. This one as well. (Batman's costume does translate really well into the Streamline Moderne style, doesn't it? I'm the last person in the world to notice this, aren't I? Ah, well. Can't say as I ever paid much attention to him or any other superhero...)

And for something completely different, Cookie Monster on Colbert. Part 2.

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Unguessed answers to the ship description meme from the other day )

Mixed bag

Nov. 23rd, 2011 10:19 pm
icepixie: ([Fringe] Vulcan)
Hmmm. Do I need to see the new Muppets movie in the theater? I was going to wait for the DVD, but it's been getting very good reviews. I might need to bump it up my priority list. (Pezzers, why aren't you nearby so we could see it together?)

Speaking of movies, I watched Super 8 tonight. If you ever wanted to see a movie where Mulder and Scully have been replaced by a group of fourteen-year-old boys (and Elle Fanning) and sent back to 1979, but still have a run-in with aliens and creepy military people, this is the movie for you.

I watched it because of the J.J. Abrams pedigree, since I usually tend to like what comes out of Abrams's crazy head--though, admittedly, I tend to like it more once it's been filtered through the heads of people who can keep details straight--and it did not disappoint on that score. Spoilers. )

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Awww, look, someone made a Julian/Jadzia vid! Okay, the song actively makes me want to set fire to something, but but but Baby's First OTP! And no one ever makes vids for them, and literally there hasn't been a new fic written for them since 2003!

*

Finally, some more music recs. I've mentioned before that I have something of a like-hate relationship with The Innocence Mission, but recently Pandora started coughing up tracks that I actually love. Who knew these were their best albums?

First is Glow, which is from 1995 and sounds basically like the album The Sundays might have made if they were American. (For that matter, have my current favorite Sundays song: Can't Be Sure.) Again like The Sundays, this album is built around the sound of a hollow-body electric guitar. I only just recently learned that this instrument is what produces the sound I find so attractive.

Anyway, my four favorites from this album:
Brave
That Was Another Country
Spinning
There

Fast-forward fifteen years. Not long after Glow, their drummer quit, and they just...never bothered to replace him, which had a considerable effect on their sound. Where Glow fits in, albeit not perfectly, to the wide, wide field that was alternative rock of the early- and mid-nineties, by the time they got to My Room in the Trees they'd obviously decided they were a folk band, by god, and so like some of their others I've recced, this is much more piano-driven and generally quieter. But my quibble with much of their other work is that Karen Peris lets the melody noodle around unattractively for ages and ages until she gets back to the chorus or another verse, and while I like variations and inventiveness as much as the next person, these just make me want to yell at her to get back to the point. Thankfully, this tendency is much less in evidence on this album, and in particular on my two favorites:

Gentle the Rain at Home
North American Field Song

Annnnd one more for the road, entirely unrelated to any of the above:

Follow the Arrow - Rosi Golan & Human. Dunno who Human is, but this sounds exactly like one of Golan's bouncier solo tracks.
icepixie: ([Other] Book)
Someone took photos at some recent location filming for Fringe. Spoily! Spoily comment )

This one is not spoily at all, but it is very weird. Is it bad that I can't be absolutely certain whether it's just the biggest stage light in the world (apparently attached to a blimp? It seems tethered to the buildings rather than supported by them), a plot-related UFO, or an actual UFO.

On a different note, here's an undated picture from what appears to be a con: Anna Torv and Josh Jackson. I'm sure it's not been taken out of context at all...

A movie version of Midnight's Children is coming out next fall. I imagine it'll leave out a lot, as that is one packed book, but I bet it'll be gorgeous to look at. I learned about this from Salman Rushdie's Twitter, which just kind of blows my mind. Is he actually supposed to talk to mere mortals? I have no idea.

Apparently a Swede named Tomas Tranströmer won the Nobel Prize in Literature this year. An author named Teju Cole wrote, "Tranströmer's words remind me of Arvo Pärt's music," to which I immediately said, "WHERE DO I FIND HIM?"

The answer is here, here, definitely here, and most certainly here. Cole is right about the Pärt comparison.
icepixie: ([B5] New Beginnings Susan)
I had the idea for this great Oliver-centric Slings & Arrows vid, done to Whitacre's "Sleep." I thought it would be perfect for Oliver, because the composition originally used the text of Frost's "Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening" (which is about death), only copyright interfered and Whitacre got a friend to write a new text for it, all about going to sleep. (Spoiler: Also a metaphor for death.) There is even inclusion of "what dreams may come," so of course it would be perfect for Oliver!

Except for the part where Oliver's tragi-comic story is a little heavy on the "comic" for that music. "Death by pig truck" just doesn't work with "slow, dramatic choral piece." I put some pieces on the timeline and most just didn't work...although some of them did. I have a nice little section at the end I'm rather fond of.

Anyway, let this be a lesson: Not only does the canon have to make sense with the story you're using the music to tell, but the tone has to match. (Unless you're intentionally going for funny, but that's a whole other .mov file of fish.)

*

Assorted other things from the past couple days:

- Yesterday I watched The American President, which is a romantic comedy written by Aaron Sorkin and directed by Rob Reiner. It is...exactly what you would expect from that combination. Quite good, although IMO the romance part got shortchanged for the benefit of the political story. Anyway, I mention this because wow, Michael Douglas looks and sounds (especially sounds) a hell of a lot like Bruce Boxleitner, and his President Shepherd is basically whom John Sheridan would be if he were president of the US instead of the ISA. BB fans (*glances at [livejournal.com profile] nhpw and [livejournal.com profile] kungfuwaynewho*), you might enjoy this film.

- There is going to be a new Muppet movie! Trailer. Sadly, it also stars Amy Adams, whom I have never warmed to, but MUPPETS!

- I watched the season premiere of Rizzoli & Isles mostly on a whim, and...hey, the show kind of got good! Or maybe I was just so overwhelmed by all the subtext that I didn't notice the giant plot holes I remembered from last time I watched the show. I think every scene Jane and Maura shared contained at least one innuendo, with bonus cute bits (like Maura spit-cleaning Jane's uniform tie!) when the innuendo wasn't enough.

Hodgepodge

May. 9th, 2011 08:01 pm
icepixie: ([Fringe] Vulcan)
Aaaaaahhhhhh it's a cicada year aaaaaahhhhhh. There are brown bug husks all over, and it's only going to get worse for the next six weeks or so. (For the record, the last cicada year down here was 1998, when both the 13- and 17-year broods emerged. Musicians actually had to stop recording for a couple weeks at the height of it because the racket the bugs made penetrated the soundproofed studios. I trust this year will not be quite so bad.)

*


I finished Middlemarch! I...find myself with little to say on it, actually. It was worth reading, but I think I liked Mill on the Floss better. My problem while I was reading it was that I was most interested in Dorothea's story, but the entire last third of the book is centered mostly on Bulstrode and to a lesser extent Lydgate. I read the introduction to my edition afterward, though, and Felecia Bonaparte wrote about their storyline in a way that convinced me of its importance to the work as a whole.

I do like the flashes of Modernist thought you get in Eliot's work, particularly in the way she starts to represent consciousnesses, as opposed to just characters. Rosamund especially got that treatment; she was like Mr. Dalloway's statement about everyone being solitary little icebergs on the sea in Woolf's Voyage Out taken to an almost ridiculous extreme, she was so trapped in her own little half-made-up world.

This novel highlighted a quality of Eliot's writing that I find both amusing and intriguing: she has this way of writing about provincial life that's simultaneously cutting and loving, sort of like the sentiment of "No one can insult my family but me." For biographical reasons, I get the impression that she really loathed large swathes of her past in the Midlands, such as the resistance to new ideas, gossipy tendencies, and hypocrisy, but at the same time, if I remember correctly she set everything she wrote in that area of the country, and even her most annoying, judgmental characters have their good sides.

I have to say that I thought the prelude portended much more death and destruction than actually occurred in the novel. I figured spoiler ) would never make it out alive after that cheerful little comparison to St. Theresa.

*


In further media commentary, I recently watched two excellent films: The King's Speech and Copenhagen. Much has been written on the exemplary qualities of The King's Speech, so I'll just say that it's ALL TRUE and leave it at that.

Copenhagen (2002) is a BBC version of a play from...I think 1998? Nineties, anyway. It centers on a meeting between Niels Bohr and Werner Heisenberg in 1941, of which there is no definitive record besides of the fact that it occurred. (Most people think they discussed the possibility of using nuclear fission to create a weapon.) The film depicts several "drafts" of how the conversation might have gone, all tied together by the ghosts of the three characters commenting on the, uh, draftiness of them in an extradiegetic sort of way. Each version of the conversation touches on quantum physics, the morality of scientists working for war efforts, nuclear bombs, and all sorts of other interesting topics. It reminded me a good deal of Wit, because so much of the characters' human experience was filtered through an academic understanding of a particular field, and if there's one trope I love, it's that one. Not a lot happens, in a plot summary sense, in this movie, but it still fascinated me. Highly recommended.

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Fringe fans, I need fic recs! I usually don't read fic for this show; for whatever reason, it's just one of those shows (like BSG and Castle) that I don't feel the need for fanfic of. However, with S4 some four months away, I'm definitely feeling the need now, so if you've got favorites, lay them on me. I'm partial to Peter/Olivia, and after last week, I'd love some kidfic, but I'll happily read gen and other pairings that don't break them up. (Um, okay, I won't read Astrid/Walter. Not unless the writer can sell it amazingly well.)
icepixie: "All the Queen's Horses." Lyrics misquoted from The Innocence Mission. ([DS] Fraser/Thatcher train joy)
OMG OMG OMG. Lee Pace is going to play Thranduil in The Hobbit. Between that and Jackson's unleashing of massive technical wizardry (something about filming at sixty gajillion frames per second? I forget exactly), now I have to see this in a theatre when it comes out.

(OMG LEE PACE! AND HIS EYEBROWS! ON A BIG SCREEN!)

I didn't even like the book when I read it (I think I might have been too old; I read it at nineteen or so), but...yes. Hard to go wrong with a combination of Tolkien, Peter Jackson, and Lee Pace.

Plants!

Apr. 27th, 2011 09:30 pm
icepixie: ([BSG] Nothing but the rain)
In a document that I read at work today honoring a seed company, there was an awesome and I assume unintentional pun: "[Company name] was a growing enterprise on [street]..." Heh.

Speaking of plants, a couple more pictures: under the cut )

And finally, I won the Netflix lottery and got Black Swan the day after it came out. Unfortunately, the film stank. )

Woof.

Apr. 2nd, 2011 09:48 pm
icepixie: ([B5] Ivanova facepalm)
Ugh. Apparently my bad luck with rom-com movies continues, because wow, The Truth About Cats & Dogs was not nearly as funny as I remembered it being. I must have had really low standards as a twelve-year-old.

On top of that, I now have a burning need for Abby/Noelle femslash, and there is almost none to be found online. None! Even though they cry out for mountains and mountains of fic. (Noelle brought Abby flowers! They were holding hands while walking through the mall! They were so much more adorable than either of them paired with the male lead!)

I think it's time to go back to books for the rest of the weekend. At least Salman Rushdie won't let me down.

(P.S. Speaking of Janeane Garofalo, apparently she's now one of the leads in a Criminal Minds spin-off, which I think counts as my biggest pop culture WTF moment of the year. Though I hear her character is supposed to be a vaguely feminist loudmouth, which at least seems less out of character. And IMDB suggests she's been slowly transitioning to dramatic roles in the decade since I last paid much attention to her, so maybe it's not as odd as it seems at first glance. I watched the most recent episode of the show online, but I won't be making that mistake again--I dislike procedurals as a rule, and adding nightmare-inducing scenes of people getting dismembered while alive does not endear them to me any further.)
icepixie: ([B5] Ivanova facepalm)
(I watched this yesterday afternoon, but even a day later, I still feel the need to excoriate that mess. So now you all get treated to my ranting. Sorry.)

I'm sure it's not news that marriage of convenience/otherwise faking couplehood is my bulletproof narrative kink. I also have a tremendous fondness for even the most formulaic romantic comedies out there. Sure, I wouldn't want to watch one every day, but a well-done series of predictable cliches, portrayed by charming people in charming settings...there's nothing quite like it for comfort entertainment.

So in theory, I should be all over The Proposal like a chicken on a junebug. Like white on rice. Like scum on a pond. Etc. Not only is it basically an updated Green Card, which I love, but it's Green Card set in small-town Alaska! It has Betty White! For the love of god, it's about a book editor and her assistant! You could not make a movie more tailored to my interests!

...And yet in fact it is an affront to formula rom-coms. It is offensively bad. Look, I know how these things work. I'm willing to suspend my disbelief and buy that two characters who don't much like each other can fall in love over the course of three days if they do it convincingly, but this was about as convincing as William Shatner's toupee. Instead of more than two scenes where Margaret and Andrew are shown beginning to tolerate each other, the writer decided the movie needed Sandra Bullock and Betty White, who was wearing some kind of faux Native Alaskan blanket, rapping and dancing in the woods. I wish I were making that up.

More ranting. )
icepixie: ([NX] Chris on Christmas Eve)
So apparently Disney is making a Miss Marple movie.

Starring Jennifer Garner.

My inner spinster is most displeased. Way to miss the entire point of her character, Disney.

*

Speaking of spinsters, someday, I'm going to build this house in the middle of the woods, paint it crazy colors, and let any surrounding children believe I'm an evil witch so they'll stay off my property. (Possibly I'll also wave an empty BB gun in a threatening sort of manner.) I like the idea of the even smaller houses on that site, but climbing a ladder to get to bed is simply not going to happen for me, so I'd have to get one with an actual bedroom.

(Actually, I'd really like to design my own based on that model. I'd ditch the loft and make the kitchen a tiny bit bigger, then perhaps adjust things so that the bedroom is toward the back rather than the front.)

*

Body of Proof spoilers )
icepixie: ([Fringe] Vulcan)
Awesome open source app that allows QuickTime to read basically any video format: Perian for Mac OS X. It essentially turns QT into VLC, then allows you to save whatever you need in QT format. Very useful for situations when, say, you have a bunch of AVIs and your video editing program only reads QT files. Not that I would know anything about this. *cough*

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I watched You've Got Mail a couple days ago--what can I say, sometimes nostalgia strikes hard, and I do own the DVD--and you know, it's really amazing how much has changed in the twelve years since it came out. The main plot is about a big chain bookstore pushing a little indie shop out of business, and now the big chains are closing stores right and left while they struggle to keep their heads above water thanks to Amazon et al. Not to mention the technological advances; modems are certainly a throwback, as are AOL chatrooms. (What do people even use to chat with now? Is it still IM, or has Skype and the video equivalent thereof taken over? Or do people who used to chat just write on each others' Facebook pages instead? Cell phones? Hi, I'm a dinosaur.)

Speaking of the nineties, I was shopping for a pair of khaki pants last week, and for a brief moment, among the short, floral-pattern skirts and plaid shirts, I wondered if I'd time-traveled back to 1995. Apparently we're having a nineties revival. A little disturbing is that--seeing as we're still in the throes of eighties leggings and off-the-shoulder shirts--this will be the second revival I will have lived through where I have first-hand experience with the original. Thankfully, though, I have seen no sign of mom jeans returning. (I don't even care what they look like, I just remember them being very uncomfortable.)

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I watched last week's Fringe, but found myself with nothing much to say on it. It was good! In a non-specific sort of way. Okay, I do have one thing: Spoiler )
icepixie: ([BSG] Nothing but the rain)
I finally got around to watching Passchendaele. I tend to avoid war movies like the plague--I can't hear any of the dialogue over the thunder of the artillery, I always lose track of who's who under the uniforms and mud, and even when I can figure out what's going on, I generally don't care--but this starred Paul Gross, who's always pretty amazing, so I gave it a go. I think I'll give you my reaction in a good/bad list:

Spoilers )

In other news, a couple more pictures. Still working with macro, but now branching out to shallow depths of field.

icepixie: ([SG1] Didn't teach this in grad school)
Wit (2001)
aka The Perfect Storm of Elements Combining to Make Me Bawl Like a Child for Half an Hour.

First there's the play itself, which, when I read it a couple years ago, knocked me utterly breathless. It is, in short, about Vivian Bearing, an English professor--a Donne scholar--in the last stages of ovarian cancer. She faces her own death as analytically as she has her life, using the lens of the comma--not semicolon--dividing life and death at the end of "Death be not proud." She finds, as the play continues, that metaphysical wit is not enough armor for this challenge, and comes to rely on the compassion of her nurse, Susie.

Of the metaphysical poets, I've always found Donne the most affecting. Even if you don't like him, the things Edson does with his verse and the abstract versus the concrete are just incredible, and I can't recommend the play enough. It's a wonderful treatment of what literature can do for us--and what it ultimately cannot.

So there's that. I went into this figuring no matter what they did, I was going to wind up sniffling for a while, because it's this text. Then the movie added Emma Thompson, among other extremely good actors, and I thought, "Oh, dear."

And then they added Arvo Part's "Spiegel im Spiegel." And I realized I was not going to make it through this movie without a box of kleenex.

AND THEN THEY ADDED THE SECOND MOVEMENT OF GORECKI'S SYMPHONY NO. 3. BECAUSE THEY REALLY WANTED ME TO SUFFER. It took, literally, two notes for me to a.) recognize it, and b.) start wibbling. Yeah, so, modern Eastern European composers kind of have a lock on my emotions, 'cause their compositions make anguish concrete. If there is a sadder piece of music in this world than this symphony, I don't want to know about it, because I truly don't think I could handle it.

The filmmakers liked to tease the audience with both pieces of music, using them in bits and pieces, exquisitely, but also knowing when no background music would be just as exquisite. (Scene with Vivian, Susie, and the popsicles, I'm looking at you.) And then...and then there was the scene where they used all eleven-odd minutes of "Spiegel." It's the one where Vivian's old professor, E.M. Ashford, comes to visit her, almost purely by chance, while Vivian is perhaps a day or two from death and in considerable pain. She has, by this point, realized that while Donne is fascinating and even comforting in the abstract, death is an altogether too tangible reality for poetry. She's lost pretty much all power of speech, but somehow seems to communicate this to Ashford when she asks if Vivian would like her to recite something. Instead, she reads a book she was taking to her great-grandson, The Runaway Bunny. And you know, I'm sure what was happening on screen was beautiful and powerful, and each of them had perfect facial expressions, and the camera work continued to be as magnificent as it had been all through the movie. I saw practically none of it, because by the time Ashford read, "'If you become a fish in a trout stream,' said his mother, 'I will become a fisherman and I will fish for you,'" and called it "a little allegory of the soul--wherever it hides, God will find it," I was curled in a ball wondering if one box of kleenex would be enough to see out the end of the film.*

So in lieu of anything actually intelligent to say about the movie, I give you all of the above. I also give you the recommendation that it is, I think, the most affecting--and, for values of "best" where it is equal to "most affecting," best--movie I've seen in ten years. I also give you the following quotes, one which made me cackle, and one which, well, you know what I probably did by now.

"Wasn't that [grand doctors round] grand? Full of subservience, hierarchies, gratuitous displays, sublimated rivalries...I feel completely at home. It is just like a graduate seminar."

"You cannot imagine how time...can be...so...still. It hangs. It weighs. And yet there is so little of it. It goes so slowly, and yet it is so scarce."


* You can watch the scene here. Obviously, I recommend tissues.
icepixie: ([SG1] Didn't teach this in grad school)
I watched The Breakfast Club for the first time in my life tonight. I know, I know, unamerican, alien baby dropped in a field, etc. etc. One day I'll make a list of all the pop culture standards I missed the boat on and get around to watching them.

Anyway. The best thing about that movie was Ally Sheedy's haircut, and yet...it was still strangely compelling. Perhaps after teaching college freshmen for a year, I have more sympathy for high schoolers. Or perhaps after teaching college freshmen for a year, I have more sympathy for the principal, particularly when he's telling the janitor how horrified he is that these kids will one day be running the world.

I think I would've appreciated the emotional highs and lows more had I seen this at sixteen; instead, the whole grinding-to-a-halt-so-everyone-can-cry-for-a-while section came off as unintentionally hilarious. I was glad when the flare gun bit got it back to something resembling comedy.

The ending made me cringe somewhat, with the whole NO ONE WILL LOVE YOU UNLESS YOU'RE CONVENTIONALLY PRETTY message that Andy and the newly-made-over Allison falling into each other's arms sent. Not to mention that she was more more striking and attractive pre-makeover. Bender and Claire I saw coming a mile away, and it was pretty entertaining the way they did it ("Remember how you said your parents use you to get back at each other? Wouldn't I be outstanding in that capacity?"). Bender in general was like the train wreck you can't look away from--he was horrible, but full of fascinating energy.

So tell me, was this at all representative of high school in the 80s, or high school in general? 'Cause I went to nerd school for grades 9-12, and more and more I realize how very unusual my high school experience was, at least compared to popular representations of it. Well, okay, yes, part of this is me--I was so uncool that by comparison I made Brian look like a hep cat, as the kids say. But I don't remember all this brouhaha about whether one had or had not had sex, don't recall such well-defined cliques (nerd school, remember--we all fell into the bright kid category, so differences were muted), don't think there even was such a thing as detention, let alone shop. I don't seem to remember much ado about boyfriends/girlfriends (this could be because 2/3 of the student body was female), and there never seemed to be this adversarial relationship between students and teachers/administrators that always gets depicted. Not that I would have liked to have had any of that as part of my high school experience, but I have to admit that it feels much like I grew up on Mars.*

* OR MAYBE I DID. *whistles X-Files theme*

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