Amour-QuestForBest Picture

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MY review for Amour, as part of my Quest For Best Picture series. **Contains Spoilers**

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If the emotional response evoked by a film is any measure of greatness, then Amour wins.

I just got home from the theater. I cried most of the car ride home, and then once in the bathroom since I’ve been here. My eyes are welling up right now thinking about it. I am so incredibly sad.

I was thinking, with the title being Amour, that I might see more of a traditional love story, albeit a senior citizen love story. I thought perhaps the suffering of one would bring them closer together, they’d fall more deeply in love, “still the one”, all that jazz. But this was a different kind of love story.

Amour shows us the depth, the brutality and beauty, of a love that has withstood time and joy and pain and just about everything in between. Both terrifying and admirable, this portrayal is perceptive and sincere.

Amour follows husband and wife, Anne (played compellingly by Emmanuelle Riva) and Georges(Jean-Louis Trintignant), through their struggle with Anne’s deteriorating health and journey. She goes slowly, suffering one stroke that leaves the right side of her body paralyzed. Wheel-chair bound and utterly vulnerable, she needs Georges’ help for the most basic tasks like washing her hair, pulling up her pants after going to the bathroom, or getting in and out of bed.

While Georges is out attending a funeral one rainy afternoon, Anne tries to kill herself by jumping out of the courtyard window in their apartment. When George walks in earlier than expected and finds her, she shrugs that she was sorry that she was too slow. She very seriously tells him that she doesn’t want to live any longer, doesn’t want to wait around for things to get worse. But she lives, and they do.

The second stroke leaves Anne completely helpless and utterly unrecognizable as the person she once was. Unable to speak or move on her own, Ann continues down the slope. And Georges stays the course, stating Things will go on, and then one day it will all be over.”

The movie caused me a cascading pendulum of emotions that swung from benevolent sympathy to gut-wrenching depression. At one point I recall thinking to myself in the theater I could have gone my whole life without seeing this movie. And been happier for it.

I’m not unhappy that I saw the film. But the aftermath is severe and so right now I’m generally unhappy. No need to worry, as I’m sure it will pass. But I think the feelings that the film has left me with will be long-lasting, or at the very least, will again well up inside of me when I recount the experience. Michael Haneke, Amour’s writer and director, must have known what he was doing.

In one scene, Georges tells an anecdote about a film he had seen as a boy that touched him so deeply that he found himself distraught afterward and ended up crying in front of the first person who asked him about the movie.

Georges: I started to tell him the story of the movie, and as I did, all the emotion came back. I didn’t want to cry in front of the boy, but it was impossible; there I was, crying out loud in the courtyard, and I told him the whole drama to the bitter end.
Anne: So? How did he react?
Georges: No idea. He probably found it amusing. I don’t remember. I don’t remember the film either. But I remember the feeling. That I was ashamed of crying, but that telling him the story made all my feelings and tears come back, almost more powerfully than when I was actually watching the film, and that I just couldn’t stop.

Yeah, I see what you did there. Projecting exactly what’s going to happen to me once I am finished watching your film. Well played, Haneke.

The struggles that these two characters face—the humiliation, the power-shift of extreme dependence and responsibility, losing a partner, and facing death head on—are intensely painful and difficult to watch. But that’s not what makes it so hard, and it’s not what makes this movie so emotional.

We, the audience, we’re not crying over Anne and Georges. We’re crying over our grandmothers and grandfathers who we watched lose mobility and shrivel down to half-size and suffer the confusion and maddening frustration of not knowing who they are. We’re crying thinking about our parents falling ill, the hard decisions we’d have to make, and whether we’d make the right ones. We’re crying about the prospect of being so completely dependent on others, of someday not having control over our own bodies, our own minds. We’re crying over the time we should have spent with the people who are gone when they were still around. We’re crying, during Amour, about the terrifying prospect that we’ll be Anne or Georges one day.

And this is why this film, as the film that afflicted Georges, sticks with you long after you’ve exited the theater.

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QuestForBestPic-Beasts of the Southern Wild

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I’m on a quest to see and review all of the films nominated for Best Picture. I have one left to see (Amour) and a bunch of reviews to post before the Academy Awards on Sunday. Here is my review for Beasts of the Southern Wild:

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Beasts of the Southern Wild follows a father (Wink) and daughter (Hushpuppy) living on an island off the coast of Southern Louisiana through the hit and aftermath of a fierce storm. The film harkens Hurricane Katrina, and the fictional setting, Director Benh Zeitlin has said, was inspired by Louisiana’s Isle de Jean Charles.

The inhabitants of “The Bathtub”, as the island is referred, live in poverty and seem to have their own society completely separate from the main land. The houses are shacks made of scrap metal and wooden boards or an old boat converted with canvas and tarps. They are a tight-knit community, a tribe of sorts.

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The local teacher, of questionable qualification, tells the riffraff school children about a species of giant ancient beasts called Aurochs that apparently froze in the polar ice caps. These extinct creatures become our narrator’s vision of real-world struggles. Natural disaster, the subsequent “end of the world” and the necessary shift to a new way of living, broken family, illness and death are all displayed in the film. And in each case, not far behind is the Auroch, stalking, charging or retreating depending on scenario. It is in the context of these intangible beasts that Hushpuppy, our young narrator, is able to make sense of the world around her, with all its messy twists and injustices.

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They touch upon the real world issue of climate change here when, with the innocence and ignorance of a child, Hushpuppy says “Sometimes you break something, so bad that it can’t be put back together.”

In fact, this scrappy little ragamuffin is full of coarse grains of wisdom.

“The whole universe depends on everything fitting together just right. If one piece busts, even the smallest piece… the entire universe will get busted.”

“Strong animals know when your hearts are weak.”

All the time, everywhere, everything’s hearts are beating and squirting, and talking to each other the ways I can’t understand. Most of the time they probably be saying: I’m hungry, or I gotta poop. …but sometimes they be talkin’ in codes.”

Young Hushpuppy has an extraordinary way of putting things that are far too complex for her to understand into concepts which make perfect sense to her, and to us. She really is a remarkable character, and it seems a shame, when watching, that her stubborn alcoholic father doesn’t realize it.

The relationship between Hushpuppy and Wink is sad but interesting. You hate him for not taking her out of the Bathtub before the storm. For living with that beautiful child in filth. For drinking instead of nurturing. For yelling instead of hugging. By the end he’s not quite so bad. Dying men always seem more tolerable. But, I think it is less about the actual impending loss of life, and more about the interim. The life he has left. He becomes vulnerable. You see his weakness, his illness, his desperate attempts at denial, and the utter terror he feels about his way of life, his people, becoming extinct.

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In a scene towards the end, the whole tribe is taken to a hospital/shelter on the mainland. Wink, who is more sick than we realized, finds himself in a room alone, hooked up to IVs and machines, his family and tribe nowhere to be found. He makes a break for it, and the rest of the group follows. It is in this moment that we see the true intense care that Wink has not only for Hushpuppy, but for his home. We begin to see that perhaps Wink was being more heartfelt than originally assumed when he said “My only purpose in life is to teach her how to make it.”

You see, for Wink the Bathtub was not just a place, and the people around him were not merely neighbors. They were a separate species. The only one he’d ever known. And much like the Aurochs, they were on the brink of extinction. In the back of his mind, being hard on Hushpuppy was not merely an icy way of getting through his mandatory parental duties. Don’t get me wrong, he was cold and mean and unkind and certainly less than nurturing. But the more I examine this relationship, I begin to believe that Wink’s behavior was a demonstration of his most basic, beating parental drive: ensuring the survival of his offspring.

The world in which they lived required skills that we, the audience, felt so guilty for Hushpuppy having to acuire. The truth is they were different from me, and from you, and in some weird, fucked up way, Wink may have had her best interest at heart.

Could he have been more affectionate? Yes. And I still wish that little girl had someone to hug her and say “I love you” and protect her from the storm. But she didn’t. And she was a strong enough animal to survive.

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Now..

Beyond feeling like I was one step closer to Katrina, the film also held another point of reference for me. For anyone who has ever read The Road by Cormac McCarthy, this work has some striking similarities in theme. I know I’m not supposed to be reviewing The Road, but it was all I could think about after seeing this picture.

So The Road follows a father and son on their journey through the destitute streets of what used to be what we know as planet Earth. Some untold catastrophe occurred, destroying society and most of the inhabitants of the land. The father and the boy travel a long journey on foot, making their way south in order to survive the harsh winter. I’m a sucker for post-apocalyptic and dystopian story lines, so, while the book was slow going, the theme kept me involved.

So the similarities start:Book  The Road by Cormac McCarthy

  1. Father and child. In Beasts of the Southern Wild, the mother is nowhere to be found. Hushpuppy says that she left and often sees her through flashbacks. In The Road, the boy’s mother committed suicide shortly after he was born, unable to cope with the aftermath of the disaster.
  2. Nameless children. Throughout The Road, the son is never named and is referred to in his father’s thoughts as “the boy.” In Beasts of the Southern Wild, the main character, narrator, daughter is called by her nickname—Hushpuppy—by everyone in the community. (I suppose her parents could have actually named her Hushpuppy, but come on, let’s be serious.)
  3. Disaster and aftermath, “Us against the world”. The father and son in The Road must walk on through treacherous landscapes, scouring for just enough resources to last the night, knowing the next night will be just as cruel. In Beasts, Wink and Hushpuppy survive the storm, but are soon faced with the real struggle, the aftermath. The subsequent isolation, illness, and lack of resources threaten the survival of Wink, Hushpuppy, their community and their way of life. They trudge on, and fight the uphill battle to make it to a dryer day.

So I sort of went off on a tangent, but they’re both intriguing, depressing, and ultimately moving works.

The acting was fantastically convincing. Nine year old Quvenzhané Wallis (who was only five at the time of her audition) deserves every accolade she receives, including the her nomination for Best Actress. And Dwight Henry, the Louisianna bakery owner who played Wink gave a professional performance. Maybe more directors should take a cue from Zeitlin and go with amateur talent.

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And that is Beasts of the Southern Wild. Poignant. Simple yet complex. Harsh, insightful, and emotional.

Watch it if you haven’t.

Les Miserables– they weren’t kidding

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Reviewing Les Miserables on my Quest for Best Picture

I was an almost Les Mis virgin before seeing the film. Almost because although I had never seen the show, I was in chorus and chorale in high school and one year we performed all of the songs. So while the music was familiar, the details of the story were pretty blurry to me.

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This being said, I was SUPER excited to see it. And let’s be serious, that trailer featuring starring Ann Hathaway was awesome. As a matter of fact, Ann Hathaway’s performance in general was phenomenal. In stark contrast with the rest of the cast, I cannot say one negative thing about Hathaway’s portrayal of Fantine. Her singing was haunting and lovely. She was beautiful and wretched and desperate and hopeless. Believable. The silver lining of this uninspiring film.

As for the rest of you….

Russel Crowe’s singing voice is nasally and unpleasant to say the least. His singing sounds strained as if each note in each song were a struggle. (I once heard a singing tip that it should never sound like you’re straining and that the audience would hear it and be turned off. This was in the back of my mind the whole time listening to Crowe.)Les Miserables

I can’t (or won’t) hate on Hugh Jackman in the same way. His singing wasn’t great either (by any means) but I suppose his character had more emotion and more life. I felt more compelled to like him. NO, not because he’s the good guy. I have no problem liking a bad guy (hence my strange affection for Billy Bob Thornton—real life!) BUT where Crowe’s portrayal of Javert felt flat and boring, Jackman got across the emotions that he was hired to display and incite. Like really, Javert is a huge asshole. I should have left the theater hating him, and instead I left feeling nothing.

And THIS, my friends, is the issue I have with Les Mis. It’s not that Amanada Seyfried’s voice was quivering and shaking (probably out of terror), or that Crow sounded like he had a cold throughout the ENTIRE film. No. What made me give this terrible review is the fact that after two and a half hours sitting on my ass watching this piece of work I left feeling NOTHING. Not one ounce of emotion.

Am I alone on this one? Did anyone out there see this movie and seriously love it? There were people crying in the theater I was in. I’m not some kind of hard ass, I cry a lot in movies. All the time! So why wasn’t I crying? Should I have seen the show first before seeing the movie? Is it one of those things you have to have background knowledge of to really get into? But…but…I know the songs!

IF this is the case, that you had to know the story already to enjoy the film, then it is probably not a good film. End.

Almost end.

I can’t sign off without saying Sacha Baron Cohen was GREAT! And Helena Bohnam Carter, come on! The two of them were perfection in these roles. (Not that I know what I’m talking about since I’m a nouveau Les Mis-er.)

I guess this is the end of my Les Mis rant. I recommend you see it, but only so you can agree with me.

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QuestForBestPic-Lincoln

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Being that it’s  President’s Day, it seemed an appropriate time to finally post my Lincoln review. (And by this I mean it was President’s Day…before I finished at 12:20am.)

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In case you didn’t catch the other posts, I’m on a mission to see and review each film nominated for Best Picture…

After all the buzz and rave reviews Lincoln received, I was looking forward to seeing it. My dad, a big movie lover, was as well. So we did.

I’m not a history buff, but the older I get the more interested in politics and history I become. (Is it me or is it so unfair that we teach this stuff in school when kids don’t care about it and by the time we’re curious adults most of it has been forgotten…?) The film looks at President Lincoln’s struggle to get the Thirteenth Amendment, abolishing slavery, passed before the end of the Civil War. The direction and acting were fantastic, but there were two other things that really interested me when viewing this film.

First, it was really cool, I thought, to get a glimpse of the Republicans and Democrats of 1864 and their respective party stances. I’m not going to insult your intelligence (“you” being the maybe five people who will ever read this blog post). I’m a registered independent. But the truth is I can’t vote Republican because I have a soul a lot of the stances of the current party I just can’t jive with. “Who votes on social issues?” I know, I’ve heard it before. Try being gay. OK, the gay card was a bit much. But seriously.6a00d83451b74a69e20167659bac90970b-pi

I vote on economic issues too, I just don’t think that everything without a monetary value is worthless. I really believe that for our society to flourish and to be the great people we imagine ourselves to be, there are certain standards we must hold ourselves to, there are certain necessities to which everyone should be entitled (healthcare, for example), and there are certain investments we must make, not because the profit is great, but because they are just and because they will benefit our people as a whole.

Now, don’t go calling me a socialist. I’m a reasonable independent thinker. But that Tea Party shit is Fucking NUTS. Logical Republican Americans know this. Do yourselves a favor, band together and make those lunatics secede to form their own group…They could be the “Mad Hatters” or something, if they want to keep the tea theme.

Anyway, that being said, it was actually very fascinating for me to watch the Republicans as the good guys on screen in this film. I’m not demonizing anyone, but in all honesty in 2013 who would we expect to be holding onto racism? (Hint: not Democrats.) I know it’s a movie and so the truth was stretched to be formatted to fit the screen, but, similar to how I felt about Life of Pi, it was really cool for me to connect with and root for the opposition.

What also drew me in was the reality of the good guy/bad guy complex that is so palpably demonstrated in this film. I mean…none of us are all of one and none of the other, are we? Lincoln’s best intentions were realized by corrupt, illegal, even immoral measures.

The movie covers only the last four months of Lincoln’s life, the end of the Civil War, the passing of the Thirteenth Amendment, and his untimely death. The Emancipation Proclamation, which had been signed in 1863, a year prior to where the film begins, was of questionable legality. In one scene, Lincoln admits to this, pondering, himself, the legitimacy of the Proclamation and the potential legal quandary it could result in.

I decided that the Constitution gives me war powers, but no one knows just exactly what those powers are. Some say they don’t exist. I don’t know. I decided I needed them to exist to uphold my oath to protect the Constitution, which I decided meant that I could take the rebel’s slaves from them as property confiscated in war. That might recommend to suspicion that I agree with the rebs that their slaves are property in the first place. Of course I don’t, never have, I’m glad to see any man free, and if calling a man property, or war contraband, does the trick… Why I caught at the opportunity.

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Lincoln, a figure for the people, oversteps his executive power—the power granted him by the people– to ensure that his objective is advanced. A pure intention it may have been, and reflectively we forgive him this transgression. But it makes it awfully difficult, looking at the actions of one of our most beloved historical figures, to discern where the line of right and wrong lie, whether they’re rigidly set by some ultimate guide, or whether, more likely, they’re relative, bending and swaying as necessary, meeting at some eventual plot on the map of existence.

Honest Abe did whatever it took to get his Amendment passed, including cheating, lying, and bribery. His actions would get him thrown in prison in 2013, but, luckily for us, it was 1864 and the man took care of business.

Dad thought the movie was a little dry. He said he would have preferred more action. I found the dialogue, the back-and-fourth verbal jousting, to be quite entertaining. But I was a Legal Studies major in college and spent my days reading and deciphering case law and legal journals and debating absolutely EVERYTHING for years. And now I spend my time in the car listening to talk radio, catching up on the ins and outs of the day’s current events and political happenings. Soooo this film was right up my alley. I think Dad thought there would be more war scenes, which I was quite happy to do without. The presentation of the factual legal and political arguments tied in with the humor of Lincoln’s long-winded stories or of Thaddeus Stevens’ political trash-talking was enough to keep me entertained.

The acting was wonderful. I cannot say truthfully that the “character portrayals” were excellent because, if I’m quite honest, I’ve never seen footage of Abraham Lincoln or Mary Todd Lincoln or Thaddeus Stevens or any of the other characters. And yes, I did list these three as examples because they are the stand-outs for me.

Daniel Day Lewis is getting more praise than maybe Lincoln did himself. His performance was captivating. Lincoln’s quirks, his lengthy, at times exasperating stories, his manner of avoiding difficult subjects when he saw fit, and his soft spoken and distinctive speech and mannerisms all helped to solidify the idea that this historical figure was no ordinary man. And yet, at the same time, the honesty of the scenes of his and Mary Todd Lincoln’s arguments, the visual of a strained relationship between a father and son (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), and the clear inner turmoil and uncertainty about his actions and the potential for success, show the true humanity of our treasured monument. Bravo Daniel Day Lewis, and Bravo Steven Spielberg, and Bravo Doris Kearns Goodwin.

sally-field-as-mary-todd-lincolnSally Field. As with the multidimensional qualities I mentioned above when discussing Abraham Lincoln, Mary Todd Lincoln was also a woman of many hats, so to speak. She was difficult to like at times. She was very emotional. Screaming, crying, giving her husband absolute hell when she thought it necessary, aiding to her long-standing reputation as a crazy woman. But this fiery disposition came in handy as she used it to put Thaddeus Stevens (played by Tommy Lee Jones) firmly in his place at the President’s Ball. Another side of Mary Todd Lincoln was shown in the film. While emotionally charged and undoubtedly fragile, she also was a woman of concrete opinions and ideas. She was not merely a devoted supporter of her husband, but she was a powerful force behind him. She, a woman, knew of the goings-on of the presidency, of the political battlefield, she had her own thoughts about the best use of her husband’s power, and she was indeed one to be reckoned with. So another complex character gets my approval.

Tommy Lee Jones as the Asshole-With-a-Heart sort of melted mine. I liked that Thaddeus Stevens was disagreeable. I liked that his intentions were pure, outspoken, and unyielding. And I liked that when he came to that ultimate bridge where principle meets action, which he probably never imagined crossing, he crossed it. And I really liked the “twist” at the end, showing his personal stake in abolishing slavery.

It may have been long and it may have been dry, but I found myself emotionally and intellectually involved throughout Lincoln, and that is something of great importance to me.

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This theme of actions vs. words, the blurring of the lines of good and bad, the sight of honorable intentions and dishonorable actions brings about the age old question of whether the means justify the ends. Do they always have to? Are victories less sweet when you’ve jabbed a hole in your moral compass to achieve them? Are pure and just goals reason enough to commit dishonest acts? Or do those ends become less pure, less just, in the process of objectionable procurement?

These are questions I cannot answer. But ones that I, and probably all of you, have wondered about.

QuestForBestPic- Life of Pie

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I’m on a quest to see all the movies Academy Awards Nominees for Best Picture. Here’s my review for Life of Pi *Contains Spoilers*

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Life of Pi was beautiful. I just saw the film and I can see why it was nominated for Best Picture.

Much like the title suggests, Life of Pi is the story of a big adventure, and the life leading up to it, of a boy named Pi. He dubbed himself Pi in grade school because of the target that his full name, Piscine, made him for torturous teasing (Pissing). He declared on the first day of school that he would be “known to all as Pi”, explaining the significance of the mathematical figure and writing the number out in its entirety (almost), impressing students and teachers alike and becoming a school legend. Which turned out to be a theme of his life.

I can’t let this go. Because I don’t remember a lot of mathematics from school, but I remember Pi. Everyone does. IT is a legend! And Pi is an irrational number and also a transcendental number. I would argue that Pi, our protagonist, is also both of these things. Here is a quick Wikipedia article on all the different forms of “transcendence” (religion and math are the top two, go figure.) Anyway, I thought this was pretty rad and tied in nicely with the film. (And don’t we all love feeling we’re somehow smarter because we’ve picked up on the significance of clues the artist gives?)

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The first portion of the movie documented his upbringing, family and religious template. A practicing Hindu-Christian-Muslim, Pi found his way through each religion, keeping bits of every one with him. It was fascinating to me to explore this idea of subscribing to more than one religion. In the society I find myself living in, you have a religion or you don’t. Just one. And the ideological differences seem so vast and people seem so separate and so segregated from one another that this picture of multiple religions living and flourishing in one being was like a firework of original thought.

I liked the disagreement between Pi and his Parents Father. Father believed in logic and rational thought above all, telling his son that religion is dark, that one shouldn’t practice one religion, and certainly couldn’t have more than one. The reason this resonated so much with me is that while Pi, the thoughtful protagonist of our story grabbed my attention and got me to root for him almost instantly, in real life I’m on Dad’s level.

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I’m not religious, was never brought up in a religious home, but I would say that much of my family “has a relationship with God” or is spiritual in some ways or at least believes. When I was younger I went back and forth and ultimately became convinced that if God was real he would know that I was only pretending to believe and only just in case. I figured if there was someone up there he wouldn’t appreciate my farce or following, so I kind of gave up on it. I suppose now that I’m older I’d be more up to exploring the issue, and I’d love learning about different religions.

But what’s always held me up is exactly what Pi’s father brought to the table. Darkness. Like why is everyone killing in the name of God? How the hell (oops pun-drop) does that even happen? And why does it seem like every strict interpretation of religion=no fun? WHY? You put me here to what—work at some job and give money to church and have kids (in heterosexual wedlock) so they can do the same thing? So I “sinned” (which I wouldn’t have done if you had created me the way you wanted me) and now I have to what go to Hell for it? Or can I just give money to the church? Either way it sucks. Okay (since we’re here) how are priests born normal people and then go to priest school and all of a sudden they’re spitting the words of God like they had coffee with him yesterday. Really? Why, if being gay is a sin, are there so many gays? If he made us all why didn’t he work on that part? Gay people exist in every single tiny section of the globe. Literally everywhere. Very quick example.

Anyway, in addition to this darkness and hypocrisy that seem to be easily found when examining organized religions, there is also a lack of logic and of reason that doesn’t sit well with someone like me. I suppose this point was illustrated above where I feel the need to keep asking “why”. One of my legal studies professors said something in class one day which has become my all-time favorite quote: “If you can’t defend it, you’re not right.” This is literally how my thought process works. This is how I function. So when the “hows” and the “whys” don’t have good, solid answers…How do you believe them? And why?

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Seeing the interaction between Pi and his father was great for me. Because I could identify with both of them. What Pi did was at the same time strictly religious and highly unorthodox. It was brilliant. And he had reasons for each thing he believed. Maybe I took something from it, because I’ve been thinking a lot about this religious aspect ever since.

Pi recounts the story of his great adventure to a writer. “It’s a story that will make you believe in God.”
And I suppose it could. But at the end there’s a little gotcha moment and I was left wondering who was right…Pi or me his dad.

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So on this journey Pi finds himself without family, without friends, without anyone-except a Bengal tiger-lost at sea. The movie follows his dangerous and desperate journey through storms, and seas and near starvation. And of course terror of being killed by his shipmate.

Shit. Goes. Bad. Like everything is going horribly for Pi. And I hate saying it, but I was way more invested in the movie in the first half (through the first couple disasters at sea) of the movie. I HATE saying it because I really liked the movie a lot, but the incredible things that were happening to him, at a point, become sort of redundant. Am I a lazy American viewer? Maybe. I appreciate each of the things that happened to him, but the movie was two hours and it felt like three.

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That being said, let’s get to one of the best things about this film. I need to talk about the magnificence of the cinematography. Every scene is a visual indulgence. It is breathtakingly beautiful. I could have smoked a bowl and watched the thing on mute like a 2003 Windows Media Player sound Visualizer (you remember those right?) I mean it was completely synthesized and computerized and edited and whatever other terms apply….I don’t even know if a single scene was shot with real people in a real location or if it was all done on a green screen in a studio. But I DON’T CARE. It was, in addition to being a thoughtful (thought-provoking) film, a display of artistry. And I ate that shit up.

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All in all I’m gonna give the Life of Pi a thumbs up and recommend that you see it if you haven’t. Let me know what YOU think. Also, if you have the answers to eternity, please feel free to tell me what’s up.

Thanks for reading!

My New Toy (No, not that kind.)

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This is my brand new Nikon D3100

Happy Birthday to me!

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I have always been a lover of pictures; taking, sharing, and most recently of photo-gifting. I travel as much as possible (on my budget) and do a lot of fun things (I think). I’m always taking pics wherever I go, and some of them turn out to be great shots. But I’ve never taken the time out to really learn about basic principles of photography or functions of a (my) camera. It’s definitely time.

So I signed up for a photography class.

And it starts tomorrow EEEEEEEE!!!! (that’s my excited noise)

And feeling in the birthday spirit, I, with the help of my lovely mother, purchased my first Digital SLR.

When I took it out of the box I was pretty intimidated. But it’s bought and paid for, and I’m gonna learn how to use it like a pro over the next six weeks of class. (No no no, to all and any photogs who may be reading this and thinking I’m stepping all over your toes, I’m not gonna pretend to be a photographer…until I am one anyway.) I’m just excited to learn 🙂

Took her out for a spin yesterday (in the freezing cold). Here’s some gray and gloomy New England winter for you:

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A Quest for Best Picture

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By the time the Academy Awards roll around on February 24th, I will have seen each film nominated for Best Picture, reviewed, rated, and picked my preferred “best”.

So I’ve never done this before. I like movies but I am by no means a film critic. I am not trained in film at all, other than my Australian Film class I took while studying abroad. But I’ve been seeing a lot of movies lately and I had a lot of fun with the Cosmopolis review I wrote for Literary Traveler. Alas, movie reviews I shall write.

This year I decided to see each of the films nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards. This decision was really made because I happened to have already seen Lincoln and Argo and figured I may as well continue through the list (which contained many of my “I really want to see that” picks.)

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I got pretty into this idea, and on my birthday, which was last Sunday, January 27th, I decided what I wanted to do was to see some movies. Kate and I hit one movie theater for an early afternoon showing of Silver Linings Playbook (which my mom and little brother joined us for), drove to the other local theater for a late afternoon showing of Les Miserables, and then hit up a Red Box on the way home and watched Beasts of the Southern Wild from the comfort of my bed. It just so happens that Monday is my day off, so the following day I saw Zero Dark Thirty with my dad.

I’ve put quite a dent in my list. Just three more to go.

Seen:                                                                  Not Seen:
Argo                                                                     Amour
Beasts of the Southern Wild                            Django Unchained
Les Miserables                                                   Life of Pi
Lincoln
Silver Linings Playbook
Zero Dark Thirty

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I have to say thus far I’ve been really impressed (with all but Les Mis, which I am decidedly rooting against.) Lincoln I loved for the historic factor. I’m pretty into politics and law now, so it was fascinating for me to see the making of an amendment, the struggles of a nation at war and what it really took to end political stagnation and put something together that was just, right, and for the people. (Ummm…hello Congress.)

I heard great things about Silver Linings Playbook, so I had pretty high expectations. It was a really nice story. The character development was great and it was easily accessible for audiences. I enjoyed it a lot.

Argo and Zero Dark Thirty I liked for the same reason: that they found a way to make “true” stories into entertainment. The Iran Hostage Crisis and the hunting and murder of Bin Laden. Argo may have been more fun to watch, more entertaining on a superficial level, but this could be because throughout the movie you’re rooting for a group of people to be saved, rather than rooting for one person to be caught and killed. Grim if you look at it that way, eh?

Beasts of the Southern Wild was beautiful, moving, and disturbing all at the same time. An emotional film, the story takes place on an island off the coast of southern Louisiana and portrays a family, and community’s struggle through Hurricane Katrina. I went in with no expectations, but I can certainly see why it has been nominated.

Les Mis did nothing for me. Other than checking one more movie off my list.

I’ll have more in depth reviews of each of these films, and I’m planning on getting to the ones I haven’t seen in the next week or two. I’m probably most looking forward to seeing Life of Pi, although Kate said she loved Django.

Stay tuned for more of my Best Picture Adventure!

And please share your thoughts on any these films in the comment section. I’d love to hear! 🙂

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