Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Movie recap

I neglected to mention in my last post that I did have a little mini-marathon of my own last week on Tuesday after my Japanese sword class - did I forget to mention that too?

I have my third class tonight where we'll be focusing on drawing the sword. It's been interesting to learn the movement and relate them to the focus and discipline from yoga, albeit for the purpose of violence versus peace. I bought a wooden practice sword (bokken) to use at home, because handing my real sword means I'd have to clean and oil it each time I touch the blade. Besides, I wouldn't want to accidentally slice open my brand-new couch.

So after class last week I went to the AMC Empire to see The Perks of Being a Wallflower before it went out of theaters and maybe a couple other movies around it. I got there early and started with Lincoln, knowing that I was going to have to leave before the end. So I saw about 3/4th of Lincoln, then saw all of Wallflower, and then the midnight premiere of Anna Karenina.

Of the three, I liked Wallflower the best. It reminded me of a teenage version of Bernardo Bertolucci's 2003 film The Dreamers, starring Eva Green. And like that movie, you can't take your eyes off the female lead, here played by Emma Watson in her first big post-Harry Potter role. But other than Ms. Watson's undeniable star quality, the movie is a hip and touching coming of age story with a few dark twists thrown in. The characters are a bit one-note, but it was a satisfying ending.

Lincoln I can't really say much about since I didn't see the whole thing, but my impression was that Daniel Day-Lewis is a front-runner for Best Actor this year. He loses himself so completely in the role, not unlike Christian Bale did in The Fighter two years ago. I was very impressed.

Anna Karenina was something of an enigma. I give it points for being true to the novel (one of my favorites of the classics when I read it) and for a lush, sumptuous concept and production design. I want to like Joe Wright's work (Atonement, Hanna) more than I do, but there's something about his films that don't quite click for me. The movie itself reminded me of Baz Lurhmann's Moulin Rouge! but gentler. And like the first 15 minutes of Baz's movie, it was difficult to emotionally connect with Karenina. I've often heard it said that if you can get through the first 15 minutes of Moulin Rouge!, it will become one of your favorite movies. If you can't, then you'll never know what all the fuss was about.

Speaking of movies that people make a fuss about, I want to say again how much I enjoyed the Twilight finale. Tara once retweeted how Twilight is like soccer in that people run around for two hours, nobody scores, and its billion fans insist you don't get it. That is an apt description of the phenomenon.

I did a video interview with a VH-1 blogger at the premiere and I talked about how there's an innocence to Twilight that does not hold up well under scrutiny and cynicism. But if you watch movies with an open heart and not let tabloids and snarky GIFs on Facebook influence your opinions, the Twilight story is actually a very beautiful and loving work of fiction. And the quality of the movies, just from the production, script and acting, are on par with just about any popular movie out there, which is something you can't say about every fan franchise that is not based on Tolkien.

Here is the short interview I did for the blogger and a link to the full blog post on the marathon itself:

Monday, November 26, 2012

Holiday melancholy

Puck just left to get the train back to school, after staying with me since last Wednesday night. We had a little bit of a rough parting, not because of a fight, but because they are feeling sad and depressed and I'm frustrated that nothing I do seems to help. So this has not been the best holiday weekend ever, even though I spent so much time with Puck. In years past, that alone would have been more than I could want or expect.

The reason Puck was staying here is because their house in Staten Island continues to be uninhabitable as it is being repaired from Hurricane Sandy. I went there a couple weeks ago to remove my projector and screen and the first floor is almost a total loss. It feels awful seeing them have to go through what I went through with my fires of 2007 and 2009. I can't imagine how hard it would be for me to have that kind of disaster hit me now, with the lack of support system I used to have back in Houston (such as it was) and in New Jersey.

It's been a while since I've had to get up for work. I took Thursday and Friday before Thanksgiving week off to see the Twilight Saga marathon, which was all five movies culminating with the finale at 10 pm that night. It was a great ending to the series and I really enjoyed myself.

On Friday I got a ZipCar and drove out to Stony Brook to pick up Puck for the weekend because we hadn't seen each other in a month to that point and we were missing each other. We were supposed to see each other at Ryan's wedding earlier in the month, but that got postponed to January due to Sandy. Saturday we went to House JAPaN for a hot cocoa and hookah party hosted by Alex, then went to visit Puck's family and sister at their grandmother's place in the Lower East Side.

Sunday I packed my stuff to go on a business trip to Ivanpah, our large solar thermal plant in California. It was a fun trip, as those go, especially since it was only one night and spent in Las Vegas at a posh hotel. I even won $0.10 playing video poker.

I got home late Monday and woke up Tuesday to have lunch with my past summer intern at Nearing. We went to the Tick Tock Diner near Penn Station and got caught up on each other's lives. She's eager to come back and help out during the winter break, and I will be happy to see her in the office if we can make that happen.

The rest of Tuesday and Wednesday was spent grocery shopping and preparing food for the upcoming holiday weekend with Puck. We had Thanksgiving dinner at their grandmother's place with all the grandparents, including a wonderful pie their mom made.

Friday Puck went to visit Ryan and I spent the day hiding from the shopping crowds. In the evening, Puck, Lori and I went to try our luck with the Broadway ticket lotteries, but struck out twice. So Puck went home and Lori and I had dinner at Schnipper's and then contributed to a record-breaking Thanksgiving box office tally by seeing Wreck-it Ralph, which surprised me as being the best animated film I've seen since Toy Story 3, (which admittedly wasn't that long ago) but also probably one of my top 5 animated films of all time (Beauty and the Beast, Toy Story 3, Wall-E, and Howl's Moving Castle are the other four). It was amazingly good. When I got home, I woke Puck to let me in and we stayed up late watching a bunch of episodes of the new CW show Arrow (the Oliver Queen/Green Arrow character from DC Comics) before heading to bed.

Saturday I went to get my hair coloring redone, which was long overdue, while Puck went to visit family. My colorist, Kelly, left Sassoon with a bunch of other coworkers and opened Salon SCK, near Columbus Circle. It's a gorgeous space, so open and airy, with a view of Trump Towers and Columbus Circle from the second floor. I got my hair all done in a slightly darker shade with purple highlights like I used to have.

In the evening, Puck and I went to see the play Cyrano de Bergerac from orchestra box seats we bought the night before. It was a sumptuous, grand staging and full of action, romance and comedy. We were lucky to see it before it closed today - Puck is reading the play in Russian with their mom. I've been a fan since I read it in high school, and of the 1950 movie starring Jose Ferrer. When we got home, we started a marathon of James Bond movies (just one more thing we're planning to go through) with Dr. No and From Russia With Love.

Today's been a quiet day, other than the way it ended. We walked over to Best Buy to see if Puck could find an e-reader, but no luck. I got a copy of Prometheus, which I missed in theaters so I'm looking forward to checking it out. We got some vegetable dishes from the Sichuan restaurant on 48th Street and I made some fried beef dumplings and curry chicken to go with it. I went to yoga, but I felt scattered and unable to focus in the now. So now to bed and hopefully things will be better tomorrow. Good night.