Monthly Archives: February 2012

Review Catch-Up

I feel bad I’ve finally gotten around to seeing some stuff lately and haven’t commented on them yet. Sure, I’m already way behind the curve because things are usually released a bit later here, but whatever. With the Oscars coming up this weekend, seems like a good time to do it.

The Artist

The current front runner for best picture, since it’s sweeping nearly every award show, I had very high hopes. Aside from the occasional curmudgeon here and there I had only heard raves about THE ARTIST.

But, wow, I was incredibly disappointed. And, unlike in many cases, I don’t think I was a victim of hype this time. I really don’t understand what all the fuss is about.

I mean, really, THE ARTIST? This? This is what everyone is going nuts for? This?

Sure, there’s a slight caveat in that I saw it in German. Since the movie is silent that meant I mostly had to fend for myself when it came to the dialogue cards. I understood enough of them, and their message is made clear by the context and what’s happening, but that may have had an effect. I saw it with Shinyee, who was able to translate for the two or three times I had no idea what it was saying. That and the title cards were so fast I sometimes couldn’t even finish reading them.

Still? What the hell is so special about this. The story? It’s very simple. And not in a cute or interesting way, but a stupid way. And it’s sort of a rehash of other movies that have dabbled in this subject matter before (albeit with dialogue). Why can’t he start making sound movies? It’s not really explained. Is his voice terrible? Can he not really act? Does he just not want to? If so, why not? He just doesn’t, because he likes silent movies. So? He doesn’t show passion for it, just arrogance that it’s the better art form.

And, really, she’s a stalker. It’s creepy.

Not that the movie is terrible. It’s enjoyable enough. It has some fun moments. The two leads are absolutely wonderful to watch, Dujardin in particular. They do a great job.

But best picture? Really?

C

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy

Chris thought this was the dullest movie he’d ever watch. I wouldn’t go that far, but considering it’s a spy movie about intrigue and backstabbing and espionage and all that, it’s certainly not very tense. At all. It plods along at a pace that’s just shy of boring. And the story isn’t even terribly interesting. We don’t get to know the characters very well, and the big reveal at the end isn’t that big a reveal.

The dialogue was also somewhat frustrating. A lot of obtuse lines and sentences that cut off halfway be-

And why was Gary Oldman nominated for this? You’d be hard pressed to call it bad, but you’d be equally hard pressed to call it Oscar worthy.

C

The Descendants

Of the best picture nominees I’ve seen (7 out of 9 so far, seems War Horse or Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close won’t show in English anytime soon), THE DESCENDANTS has been my favorite.

Sure, it’s bleak and potentially depressing and heavy. But, for a film about death and loss and betrayal, it certainly has some vitality to it. Alexander Payne is so great a giving us flawed yet still likable characters that just have shit dumped on them but pull through it with tenacity and good humor and humanity. A great performance by Clooney as well.

A

Hugo

I think HUGO is the first film I’ve seen where I can safely say the 3D actually enhanced it. Where it’s a downright necessity to see it in 3D. Scorsese plays with the format in such fun and subtle ways. Here it’s actually a tool instead of a gimmick.

Unfortunately, I found a lot of the film to be a bit of a jumble. Themes jump all over the place, scenes and subplots mash together in weird ways and transitions, and the characters all seem a bit shallow and never have enough room to really breath. What drives Hugo more anyways? Is it fixing the automaton and finding closure with his father? Bonding with the girl? Movies? Where did movies come from? They’re never mentioned until halfway through the movie, then they’re suddenly the most important thing and the focus for the rest of it. It’s weird and distracting.

But this doesn’t detract from the fact that it’s still great. The story is jun, no matter how jumbled, and when it starts preaching on the magic of movies you can’t but help be swept away by the magic of it. You spend the last 30 minutes or so on the edge of tears in a way. And the boy who plays Hugo has crazy eyes. I don’t know if they were CGI enhanced or what, but they sure are huge, blue, and emotive. An anime character brought to life.

It didn’t take long for me to think turning HUGO into a Broadway musical was inevitable. Because it would make for a fantastic one. You can practically slot the songs in now.

A-

Moneyball

Sports bore me. So a movie about baseball statistics should in theory be just as boring. Turns out it’s pretty interesting.

Not amazing, mind you, but certainly better than I thought it would be. Brad Pitt actually delivers and Oscar-worthy performance, and the direction is fantastic.

How Jonah Hill got a nomination I will never understand. Because he just sits there, mouth agape, barely saying anything. He adds nothing to the movie as a whole and he could have been replaced with anybody and had the same effect.

B+

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I e-mailed someone with an important question a week ago. A professional matter, mind you. Not someone I’m friends with. I followed up with them yesterday as I hadn’t heard back. They then took the time to e-mail me saying they’ll probably have time to answer my question in at least 2 weeks.

2 weeks. To answer a question. Because they’re so busy. Never mind that they probably could have handled it in the time it took to write me the passive aggressive e-mail telling me to wait.

Half the time I hear a professional tell me something will take a while because they’re busy I instead get the strong suspicion that they’re really just bad at managing their time. The older they are, the more this is true I’ve found.

I remember having a co-worker at the film festival, an older guy, who was always busy. Just swamped. But if you watched him you would realize he was just really, really slow at accomplishing anything. Not because of interruptions, or phone calls, or meetings. Just because they naturally plod along. We once watched him fiddle with something in MS Word for over an hour while writing a letter. In what universe is that acceptable?

I’m tempted to write this person back in just as snarky a fashion as they wrote me. Won’t accomplish anything and would probably hurt the outcome considering the question I need answered. But come on, what kind of person can’t find the time to answer a question in a timely fashion? In this day and age if you don’t answer a business/professional e-mail within 48 hours, you’re an asshole. Period. Even if it’s just to say “busy/investigating, will respond soon.” To not respond, and to say it will take another 2 weeks or so before you can even think of doing it, when it’s your job to, makes you an asshole. And probably inept.

Ein Bisschen Kalt

Update: Ignore all that stuff I said about no snow. Spoke too soon it seems. It’s been snowing like crazy all day. Go figure.

 

Maybe you’ve seen in the news as of late, but there’s a bit of a cold snap going on in Europe.  Here in Göttingen it’s pretty darn cold, down to -20 at night sometimes, and lately hovering around -8 or so during the day. Much, much colder than I’m used to, and certainly colder than last year.  But unlike last year, where we had snow from November to March, this year we’ve yet to really have any. There was a dusting of it when this cold set it, but it didn’t really stick then either. We might get some more I hear, and the rest of the country has been blanketed apparently, but the northwest has gotten through relatively unscathed. Good for us, I guess.

I would update more if I had much to say. But I don’t really. I keep meaning to post some reviews, mostly for The Artist and The Descendants, but I procrastinate. Next week we get to see Hugo, which I’m excited about.

I got some textbooks in the mail on Monday along with information about new classes to start teaching in Kassel. This was, really, the first I heard of it. They had mentioned it might be happening, but that was nearly a month ago. So I got in touch with them and found out that they expected me to teach starting this week. As in today. I pretty much flipped out at them. How could they forget to, you know, actually see if the teacher is even available to teach? I told them there was no way I’d be able to prepare three classes in time so they should cancel. They told me not to worry, no need to prepare, just wing it! And the classes were set in stone. So I flipped out even more and made it clear I simply wouldn’t be there this week, tell the students what you want. So next week, should they ask, I’m supposed to say I was sick. They couldn’t even own up to their own mistake. But with those classes, the return of my Monday one-on-one student, and the phone classes, I’m back into teaching mode for now. I guess. Kind of hate it though. Not much to be done about that. Need the money to live.

Still planning the trip to Prague for next month. Pretty exciting. But beyond that, there’s diddily-squat on my calendar. I’ve got nothing on the horizon to look forward to, which is the primary way I can keep my sanity. Sure, I have video games to play and writing to do, but it only prolongs the general annoyance of being here still. I’ve already put in nearly 30 hours to Saints Row 3, and the games my mom sent me as B-day gifts still haven’t even arrived yet, 3 weeks after they were mailed. How long before you simply count them as lost in the mail? German mail is unpredictable that way though. Insanely fast, or glacially slow. Nothing in between.

My weight loss has also plateaued, which is very frustrating. I’ve been hovering in the 190 to 195 range for nearly two months now. It’s odd to consistently lose at least 2 pounds a week for months and then it just stops like that. No tapering off. Just a halt. I’ve made a little progress the past two weeks (Christmas and Birthday weeks off didn’t help, but I acknowledge that), but I’ve lot faith in the consistency. My diet and exercise will stay all but identical for two weeks in a row, but the results are wildly different. It makes no sense to me. My next goal weight was 175 pounds, which would put me at 142 pounds lost. But it seems very difficult to reach now. As long I don’t gain anything back, that’s what’s important. And that’s the only thing that’d actually piss me off.