Film Festival second week

Farewell

Lee was struck down with man flu, so I hurriedly texted a couple of people I knew lived in Wellington and would hopefully be free to take the other ticket. My brother in law came through and we saw Farewell in a packed out Embassy theatre. I really really enjoyed this movie.

It’s based on the story of an actual KGB colonel who started leaking important information to France and America and essentially started the end of the Cold War. The espionage was great, but the best thing about the movie was the humanity of the two leads: the KGB agent and his amateur French contact. The KGB agent was funny and playful, actively making friends with the French businessman who had been roped in to be the contact. The French guy’s relationship with his family suffers and it’s very tense because you’re constantly worried that they’ll be found out.

Great movie, would recommend.
See also Svend and Morgue’s reviews for more opinions…


Wah Do Dem

I’m not sure about this one. It was kind of like watching unhappy hipsters the movie. It was kind of like watching a documentary about the worst trip ever. It was kind of funny and I liked the lead character, most of the time. It is very very indie, lots of handheld camera work and some poor sound and lighting. It got a bit mystical/noble savagey in the middle and then it ended very abruptly.

Overall I think I liked it, but then I think I might have been happier if I’d stayed in, had a bath and then gone to bed with a book. Tough to say.

On Wednesday I thought I was going to see The Strange Case of Angelica but I had the day wrong and nobody noticed until someone else tried to sit where I was sitting. How silly of me! So I went home and Lee suggested we see Inception and I said yes, because the internet is a dangerous mine of spoilers when you haven’t seen it.

Without spoilers: I really enjoyed Inception and it was pretty and mind-warpy and Joseph Gordon Levitt was awesome and Leonardo was awesome and Ellen Page was super awesome and I liked it. Also Cillian Murphy is very pretty.

The Runaways

Awesome. Just plain awesome. Great music, great acting, great chemistry between Dakota and Kristen (Cherie and Joan). It’s the story of The Runaways, all girl punk rock band that launched Joan Jett’s career. I don’t want to say too much, just that if the thought of watching an all girl punk band in the 70s appeals then you should see it. Reading Cinemas have a poster up for it so it looks like it’ll get a regular release.

After seeing it, I am inspired to: write, start an all girl rock band, wear crazy ass 70s shoes, style my hair like Joan Jett and sing lots and lots and lots.
Also, I am now totally addicted to this one song:

The original:

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Things I Love Thursday

I took advantage of the recent sale on Gala Darling’s Love and Sequins book and bought a full subscription in PDF/MP3 format. I haven’t had much chance to read or listen to it, but I am excited about it. Which reminds me I must finish reading How to Be Rich and Happy. In fact, I think I should start at the start of that and just read it straight through some weekend. With all this self help from the internets, I am on track to being super incredibly awesome.

The film festival. OK so it’s a massive time suck, and I’m worn out and everything, but it’s great fun. I’ve seen some great movies in the last couple of weeks. I like seeing people I recognise at the screenings, I love talking about the films after also I love ice cream.

My Job: So today started with a team breakfast, then we had an all company meeting in which I patted a baby dingo(!!!), followed by free lunch, then in the evening we had drinks and dinner. Oh and our Auckland team member brought down Dunkin’ Donuts. I got the one with pink frosting. So much win. My company and my new team takes good care of me.

I have registered for Au Contraire and I got time off from work so I can attend things on the Friday and have Monday off to recover/write. Au Contraire is a big sci fi convention and I’m very excited about all the writing classes and also about the spec fic NZ launch and attending the Sir Julius Vogel awards (which you’ll recall The Event was nominated for,) and meeting all the lovely people who will be there.

Some fun videos this week…

Glee/X men mashup at Comic con:

Adorable Pallas cat kittens!

Honourable Mentions: 6 realities about time travel that makes it sound less than awesome. The film festival, ice cream, books I’ve ordered online arriving, my new job, reading, waking up all warm and cozy, our cleaner, Inception, my pink striped hoodie, editing in the morning, my electric blanket and my awesome friends.

Your TiLT list goes below…

Writing Wednesday

So with my new hours and my new life schedule I had to find time to write. I can’t be giving up on sleep, and I have to work a regular 40 hour week in my new job. It doesn’t help that the film festival is on at the moment as well, eating up my evenings and weekends. This will not be a problem after Sunday, but I like to have a routine if I can…

What I’ve done is keep my wake up time the same, even though I start work a half hour later. I get up like normal, have breakfast and get ready to go. Then I have (depending on how slothful a particular morning is) 20-40 minutes to write. Or rather, edit/rewrite, because I’m working through WtWTCH? as you recall.

It’s been very productive. I’ve noticed before that I’m best at editing when I’ve just woken up (hence how many naps I’ve taken on designated writing time), (no really, that’s the only reason I ever napped on those free afternoons), (seriously) and I feel good having done it when I leave for work. Starting the day doing what you love is the way to go. It’s only a little bit each day, but it adds up and it’s way better than just sleeping for an extra half hour.

Besides that I’ve found time before movies and while Lee reads the paper at brunch to write short stories. My ideas have been flowing thick and fast ever since my Auckland holiday and I am very thankful for that. I have a few half completed though, one because it’s threatening to become a novella, but a couple just because I started something new rather than finish the old one. I hate doing that, so I’m gonna set aside some time to finish things off. Then I’ll need to type ’em all up as well, because I’ve been filling up my notebook all long-handy. I love writing long hand. It’s the best.

Linky:

A great article about Boys and YA, with some very good points about the stereotypes that boys are in YA lit. Although I’m not sure that boys have been weakened by the empowerment of female characters. I believe that in good stories boys and girls can both be bad-ass 🙂

An awesome list of 20 questions to ask yourself before submitting a short story. Me likey.

Very relevant to my superhero chick lit is this article on 13 ways police can help superheroes, if they are so inclined. (Awesome blog, must return and read more.)

What makes a bad guy bad? is a great run down of how to make a compelling villain.

Film Festival Weekend 2

Babies

An easy to watch, slice of life documentary following the first year or so of 4 babies in different places around the world: Mongolia, Namibia, Toyko and San Francisco. It kind of reminded me of anothe French doco from a couple of years ago Avoir et Etre which just followed some kids through a year at school. The documentarians are expert at staying out of the way, not affecting what’s happening with their subjects but getting incredibly close all the same.

It was really a study in cultural differences. Like the Namibian kid who had a bone to chew on comapared to the fancy toys the American baby had. Or the incredulous laughter in the audience when the Mongolian baby’s swaddling blanket was tied with string so it wouldn’t come open. I felt bad about really judging anyone though, it’s so not my place. Except for when the white, upper middle class ‘Friscan father and baby were at a baby sing along class and they were doing a Native American chant. Seriously, cultural appropriation much?

My favourite moments were: Mongolian baby is taking a bath in a tub by a window when a goat comes to have a drink from the tub. Excellent WTF? expression from baby. Emo drama when Japanese baby can’t get ring to stay on stick, throwing herself backwards on the ground and wailing. Then she sat up, was going to read a book, took one look and then throws it away, wailing and throws herself back down.

Jean-Michel Basquiat: The radiant child

I love documentaries about artists, they’re so inspirational. Most of what I knew about Basquiat I knew from the old movie and from some mentions in the Keith Haring doco a couple of years back. I know a lot more now. It was a good, if fawning, depiction of his career and his life, with some thought put into how he died and why. Lots of great interviews with people who knew him and lots of shots of his art and his influences. I liked it a lot but I came out feeling a bit sad and introspective.

The Room

How to describe The Room? It was an excellent viewing experience, with funny things being called out, lots of laughter, spoons to throw at the screen and a football that was tossed around while it happened on screen. The movie itself? I gotta say, it’s not the best worst movie I’ve seen. Lee pointed out that unlike Birdemic the production values (particularly lighting, camera work and sound) were generally pretty good in The Room.

The script and acting are bad, but since it’s a romantic drama there’s no terrible make up or badly animated monsters, there’s no ridiculous Mega Shark eating an aeroplane and I found that I missed those things. My theory is that awful/awesome movies are better if they’re genre.

There is lots to love about The Room though. My favourite character, Denny, makes no sense at all. There are such great lines as ‘you’re tearing me apart’ and ‘so, how’s your sex life?’ I’m gonna show it at a movie night I think, so we can try it again with our friends.

An excellent viewing guide to The Room.

A little mash up of all the ‘oh hai’s and ‘hey Denny’s (worth watching right til the end, trust me.)

Howl

Another inspiring movie about a creative person. This was a kind of almost-documentary biopic about Allen Ginsberg, centred around the court case about whether his poem Howl is obscene. Cross cutting between Allen (played by James Franco) reading Howl at a Beat cafe, animation of the poem, Allen, older, recording an interview and the court case. Apparently the movie script is taken in large part from the actual court records and interviews, so I feel like it was accurate.

As someone who has studied 20th Century American literature, and therefore, Howl itself, I loved the movie. Not sure how much you’d understand otherwise, since both Svend and Stacey mentioned specifically that they hadn’t read it.

Anyway, I came away inspired.

Teenage Paparazzo

A weird circular, meta kind of documentary. Adrian Grenier, who is famous for playing someone famous on TV, investigates the paparazzi phemomenon in the process he tries out being a pap and also elevates the subject of his documentary, a teenage pap, to semi-celebrity status. I really enjoyed it.

Basically, Adrian notices this kid in amongst the regular paparazzi and asks him what he’s doing. Austin, 13, is a paparazzo just like the others. He has tip offs, a really flash camera, he’s sold pictures for a thousand dollars a pop. Through him Adrian explores what it means to be famous, whether the paparazzi have a right to be doing what they’re doing and what the implications of it all are.

It’s a very entertaining doco and peppered with interviews with celebs (Matt Damon, Paris Hilton, Linsday Lohan, Whoopi Goldberg, etc), plus it made you examine the way you relate to celebrities and Adrian himself was very open and honest about what he was doing and what he learned.

After the screening he did a Q&A and some interesting stuff came out of that too, although it bugged me that two people asked much the same question (how do you like NZ?). Adrian seemed very down to Earth, soft spoken and polite.

Film Festival first week

Once Upon a Time in the West

Amazing. OK, it was very long and there are some long, indulgent shots of people squinting, but it’s all part and parcel of the Serge Leone experience. It was funnier than I thought it would be, and the story was very involving. I wouldn’t have minded how long it was, because it has an excellent story, but it was getting to be quite late at night and I started dropping off.

There is probably a whole lot of deep and meaningful stuff I could say about the railroad being built, and the way progress changes towns and people but let’s just leave it on: I like trains!

Exit through the Gift Shop

It’s been advertised as the world’s first street art disaster movie. I would agree with that. Ostensibly a movie about Banksy, it’s really a movie about Thierry Guetta, a slightly mad man with a handy cam who became involved in the street art movement. There’s a lot of speculation about whether the events as depicted in the film are real or fabricated but I choose to take it at face value.

We did a learn a little about Banksy, there’s lots of footage of him and other street artists (I am slightly in love with Shepherd Fairey now) sneaking around rooftops at night and putting art up. We saw inside Banksy’s studio and how his stencils are put together. Overall the movie was about the modern art world, and what makes art valuable to people. The conclusion you’d draw from this movie is that hype is all you need. I don’t think it’s quite as simple as that in real life, but there is some truth to it. Same as hype working for movies, books and clothing, really.

Anyway, the doco was great fun and I’d definitely recommend it. Lee was a bit worried about the cringe factor and the possible soul-crushing disaster towards the end but it all worked out.

Strange Powers: Stephin Merrit and the Magnetic Fields

So I went into this never having listened to the music of The Magnetic Fields. Well, I’ve heard their stuff in a couple of movie soundtracks, but not like sitting down and listening to them on purpose. I knew of Stephin Merrit because he collaborated with Daniel Handler on the Gothic Archies for the Lemony Snicket audio books. Yeah. Oh and Neil Gaiman appeared in the doco.

I wasn’t disappointed. The doco gave me a love for the music of the Magnetic Fields and specifically for the voice of Stephin Merrit. It wasn’t a documentary about any big event or anything, just a wee history of the band and interviews with people about them and the band members talking to camera. Lovely. I queued up a gigantic list of Magnetic Fields music on Grooveshark and have been enjoying it ever since.

Especially this one, Papa was a rodeo:

Oceans

As a documentary it had a number of failings. The biggest problem for me was the unfocussed nature of the whole thing. Like, they’d show some orcas and the voiceover said “this particular pod of orcas has developed a new and unique method of hunting” and you’re like, oh yeah? Tell me more, and then the movie flicks to footage of dolphins jumping out of the water and then polar bears or something.

To be honest, this movie suffered in comparison to the BBC Life show that I recently watched on Blu-Ray.

That said, it’s an entertaining movie and there was some beautiful footage of whales, sharks, sea lions, and a bad ass mantis shrimp that tore the arm off a crab.

I like this image from it:

Fall 205 – The agony of life and death

Kermit pulls up outside Darius’s house and the gang pile out. Alex tries the front door but it’s locked. She knocks. Darius’s head appears, he’s on the roof and leaning over to peer at them.
Darius: Oh hi guys, (he sees Megan) who’s that?
Alex: This is the new Megan.
Darius is suprised and nearly falls off the roof, but he manages to catch himself. He comes down to let them into the house. Nebby is very excited to see new people who aren’t moping about on the roof so Calvin plays with him. Darius opens the door and lets Alex and Megan in.
Darius: what, no Ash? No Yuki?
Alex, mubles: They left town, don’t talk about it.
D: What, they left?
Alex elbows him.
Megan: They’re gone.

Darius glares over at where Calvin and Nebby are wrestling and calls Nebby in. Nebby ignores the first two summons but reluctantly goes in after that. Apparently no one is allowed to have fun.
Darius, looking Megan up and down, says slightly meanly: so Megan, do you want some absinthe?
Megan, sulky: You haven’t got any. I checked last time I came over.
Alex, brightly: Calvin, you want a drink?
Calvin: yuh.
Alex: what kind?
Calvin smiles and shrugs. Alex and Darius go into the kitchen. Megan is sulky, Calvin plays with Nebby on the floor.

In the kitchen Alex corners Darius, asking what’s wrong. He is defensive, saying why is Megan allowed to sulk but he’s not. Alex points out that she knows why Megan is upset, but Darius is a bit of a mystery. Unless it’s about Megan and her dating Ash, which Alex can understand Darius might be annoyed about.
Alex: Besides, that’s all over. He left town and broke her heart, she’s pretty messed up about it.
Darius: Oh. But it’s other stuff. Like you’re always saying ‘oh no, don’t do the things that are actually helpful’, you know, like magic.
A: OK Darius, if you want to blow your own head up, be my guest. (She takes two cokes from the fridge and goes back into the lounge)

Darius sits next to Megan: Alex caught me up on what happened.
Calvin: Did she tell you about the werewolf?
Darius is startled, Megan explains about the werewolf attack and they decide they should really do some research about werewolves and whether Megan could be infected. Alex had already gone into the library to read about ghosts, fed up with the Sulky McSulkerson twins. Continue reading

Things I Love Thursday

Video heavy this week, in honour of the film festival.

My New Job!

I don’t have to answer the phones, I don’t have to deal with angry people, I can take lunch whenever I like, no one else is using my desk so if I leave my stuff out I know I’m not bugging anyone…it’s the little things. My new team is very friendly and welcomed me in, I have a desk with a view over the waterfront and I’m just generally very happy about it.

Leonard Nimmoy’s song about Bilbo Baggins. Yep. You read that right.

Pajamas. Yeah, OK I know this one comes up all the time in my TiLT lists, but they really do bring me joy. My new cotton Peter Alexander PJs are blue and white stripes with a repeating pattern of a bed with a pink duvet over the top. It also says ‘sweet dreams’ and ‘Peter Alexander’ and ‘time for bed’ on it. Embroidered in pink thread on the back of the collar it says “Peter says time for bed”. Very comforting. Cotton On Body has PJ pants printed with Batgirl comic panels. I don’t need them so I won’t buy them. I don’t need them so I won’t buy them. I don’t need them…

Friend of a friend’s 14 part harmony version of the Ghostbusters theme…

Awesome bad movies. What is is about terrible movies that I love so much? I guess it’s the silliness. I love ridiculous plot lines about animals attacking. I love bad acting. I love lines that make no sense. Overall I love the experience of watching these films with other people. The shared experience takes an averagely bad movie into the realms of awesome.

With that in mind, please watch the trailer for Birdemic, which shows you the quality of the acting, the SFX, the script…

Now watch the trailer for SHARKTOPUS!
I am very excited.

Honourable Mentions: Quiet or papa spank! This article about making your blog popular, snacks, the hot lemon, honey and ginger I had this afternoon at Ora cafe, how Wellington smells like the sea when there’s no wind, vivid dreams, <a href="http://www.zefrank.com/youngmenowme/”>young me now me, roleplaying Calvin in Fall (new actual play report tomorrow), playlists on Grooveshark, getting things done, my doc boots, my red check scarf and my Lee.

And how about you, what are you thankful for?