10 entries categorized "Movies"

The problem of Zooey Deschanel

I’m watching (500) Days of Summer and liking it, a lot.

I put it in my Netflix queue because it stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt, whom I first saw in “3rd Rock from the Sun” (and good Lord, that show ended NINE YEARS AGO?), and a bit later in 10 Things I Hate About You, which I loved. Still do—it was one of the first DVDs I owned, in fact.

“(500) Days of Summer” movie poster (click for larger) Recently I heard about this little indie film, (500) Days of Summer, about a guy who falls in love with a girl who doesn’t. And oh by the way it stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt, whom I like. Into the Netflix queue it goes.

Only then do I realize: It also stars Zooey Deschanel, whom I dislike.

Now if you ask my family about times in the past when I’ve expressed disdain for actors or actresses, it’s very likely they’ll tell you about the time I declared my utter undying HATRED for Steve Martin. How I went on for a good while about how he’d never been in any good movies, never would be. A useless pile of flesh who somehow managed to be cast in movies and by his very presence contaminated them.

The problem with this declaration of utter undying HATRED was, however, that I actually like Steve Martin. I like several movies he’s been in, among them Parenthood and Roxanne and All of Me, and I’ve enjoyed his comedy bits and his TV appearances and his banjo-playing and many of his essays and other writings, even. It's the damnedest thing, then, that at some point in my life I spent a minimum of 20 minutes describing in vivid detail my absolute contempt for Steve Martin, until Katharine reminded me about Parenthood and All of Me and what about Roxanne and oh, yeah, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels and L.A. Story? And I said, hey, the first two times I saw L.A. Story, I did hate it, well at least didn’t like it much, but now it’s grown on me a bit, and really it turns out I don’t hate Steve Martin at all. I just don’t like a couple movies he was in.

Ever since then, when I’ve said I didn’t like an actor, I’ve been reminded of my Steve Martin declaration and its utter insanity.

“Tin Man” poster (click for larger)My dislike of Zooey Deschanel is based mainly on one astoundingly lame turn, her appearance in a SciFi (I can’t bring myself to type that channel’s lame new spelling of its name and since the show I’m going to talk about was before the branding change anyway, puh hah) miniseries called “Tin Man”, a reimagining of The Wizard of Oz for the video-game and text-message era. Zooey Deschanel played DG, the updated Dorothy, with perfect vapidity and a strange detachment that made it seem like she was rotoscoped into the scenes after the fact.

And she was in Eulogy, where multiple generations of a family get together for the patriarch’s funeral and all the secrets come out of the woodwork, and it was like she was channeling her DG self several years in the future.

But now she’s playing Summer in this movie (500) Days of Summer and I find myself thinking, goddammit. She’s good in this. I’m liking her in spite of myself, and it annoys me, because I’m not just liking the character, I’m specifically liking her portrayal of the character.

So.

Who can recommend me a Zooey Deschanel flick that will re-validate my hostility?


Of late

Been a while since I had a non-photo, non-posted-by-mobile something-to-say prattling. Figured I’d catch things up a bit, in no particular order.

:: • :: • :: • ::

Had my eyes examined twice in four days. Bright lights shone INTO MY EYEBALLS at various times, some after I had been given eye drops that would prevent my eyes’ normal response to bright light to safeguard my vision. Institutional evile, it is.

Eye exams are such an odd thing. A bunch of tests designed to safeguard and even enhance our visual acuity, each test resulting in its own odd killing of vision for a short time.

Today’s tests involved digital photos of my retinas. The pics were cool, blood vessels in a circular cut-out on the computer screen, but the method kinda blew. The technician had me watch for the little red blinky light, just focus on the light, she had to make some adjustments and get things just so, don't worry about blinking, just blink like you normally would and keep focused on the red light, almost there, keep watching the light, another slight adjus—ZORCH the camera flash detonated INSIDE MY EYEBALL, practically. Pretty photos, but I saw the flash afterimage for almost an hour.

And within that hour I got to take an extended field-of-vision exam—I stared at a little yellow light and pressed a button each time I saw, somewhere in my field of view, a little secondary spot of light appear briefly. At one point I got a little button-happy and they had to repeat the test for my left eye because I spotted roughly 12,000 non-existent light blips, but I think it was just the machine getting annoyed with my predictive capabilities.

All of that took only 26 minutes. I think that’s like the old cigarette thing, the one where they say each ciggie cuts something like, what, 7 minutes or 23 hours or 800 years off your life? Yeah, that 26 minutes of eye exam from hell cost me 100 hours of sensitivity to light.

Sometimes at night, when I close my eyes really hard, I can still see the spots.

:: • :: • :: • ::

In other news:

We had a thunderstorm over Seattle tonight. I was on the phone with my friend David, because I LAFF AT DEATH and ignore the old saw that you should never use the phone in a thunderstorm, and also I only have a cell phone so if I managed to get zapped by the phone lines, it would definitely be newsworthy. But anyway, I was chatting with David and gazing out over the city, watching the storm move across town and thinking, definitely a good night for Safeco Field to have a retractable roof, eh wot?, and there was a lightning strike atop the Space Needle.

The Needle is maybe 6 blocks from my apartment, so it was roughly, well, NO TIME AT ALL before the thunderclap sounded. But it was quieter than I expected, and though my usual thunderstorm freak-out nerves were jangling, I was fascinated to see a building strike so closely and so uneventfully. Right at that moment David was talking about his recent visit to Cotton Eyed Joe (WARNING: Flash site, loud audio), how crazy it was and how much fun he had, and I was doing all in my power not to run into my bedroom and shimmy under the bed if for no other reason than I will NOT appear that unmanly in front of my cats, both of whom sat at the balcony door watching the storm and didn’t even twitch when the thunder rumbled over us.

:: • :: • :: • ::

Speaking of phones:

My Verizon Wireless contract ended Saturday.

First time in my personal-cell-phone-having life—thanks to the miracle of Palm devices, I can tell you that’s been since March 11, 2000—that I’ve hit the twin milestones of

  1. Finishing a two-year cell contract without making changes to my service, and
  2. Keeping a single phone alive through the entire contract period.

See, I’m usually hell on phones. I’ve damaged or outright killed a couple myself, drops and bangs and general use-and-abuse, and then there was the time my RAZR got smacked out of my hands and shattered into pieces on the tile floor of a downtown restaurant when I was only, what, a month shy of the end of the cell contract I was on at the time. So my keeping alive for (so far) 2.5 years a device that’s both a phone and a PDA is something of achievement in my little world.

Even more than that, I’m not running right out to replace the phone. I’m sticking with the current plan on month-to-month for now, because it suits me and I have a couple of ideas on phones I may want to try, but I’m holding off until I know more about them.

I really hope this isn’t some hideous sign of maturity. I’m only 37, I can’t be grown up yet.

:: • :: • :: • ::

So then, what else?

Oh, I started a 3-person carpool a few weeks ago. Doesn’t matter so much on the drive to work—we use the SR 520 floating bridge to get to Redmond, and there’s no HOV advantage eastbound.

Westbound, however, the HOV lane between I-405 and the floating bridge on SR 520 is a 3+ lane, and we sail past all those fools in their 1– and 2-person cars as they sit in traffic, mostly idling but occasionally moving forward by a car length or two, and I have to discourage my carpoolers from laughing maniacally and pointing and otherwise possibly causing road-rage incidents even though I secretly want to laugh and point as well.

But I was one of those non-HOV fools until earlier this month. Now I’m routinely home less than 40 minutes after I leave the office, and that includes dropping two people off when I’m driving.

Nice to be home by 5 each day, especially when there are still 3 or 4 hours of daylight to go.

:: • :: • :: • ::

Saw two movies in cinema the weekend before last: Star Trek, which I loved, and X-Men Origins: Wolverine, which I kinda liked.

I always want to type Wolvering. Have to correct it every time.

Anyway, two movies at the cinema in one weekend is a lot for me. Usually I’ll see two movies at the cinema in a span of several months, and I’ve realized why. It isn’t the opening-day (or even –weekend) crowds, or the occasionally shoddy projection or the sometimes uncomfy seats or whatever. It’s the people sitting immediately around me who act like they’re in their personal living-room THX auditoriums with the talking and the crinkling plastic and the God knows what other noises are emanating, to say nothing of the occasional dipshit who didn’t silence the cell phone.

I’d usually rather wait for Netflix to deliver the film experience in my own living room, where I know when I’m going to make crinkling noises and I can ignore myself easily.

But yeah. Loved loved Star Trek. I saw it courtesy my friend Matt, who turns 27 tomorrow. (Had to get that in there, of course.) He was dying to see the movie, already had tickets to an IMAX showing on the weekend, but he scored us seats at the 7pm showing on Thursday, May 7th, because he just couldn’t wait two more days for the IMAX showing on the 9th. Good loud visually exciting popcorn movie I’m sure I’ll see at least once more in the theaters and then at least once more on DVD, if I don’t end up owning it.

WolveringWolverine entertained me but didn’t wow me, or even strike me as a very compelling story. Hugh Jackman was good, he’s made the part his own, but I couldn’t buy Liev Schreiber as Sabretooth. Something just didn’t ring true, and in a summer blockbuster of mutants with retractable metal claws and sharp fangs and the like, if you can’t buy an actor in a part, something’s just not right there.

And if I never see Will Ferrell again, it’ll be too soon. They showed the fucking trailer for Land of the Lost FOUR TIMES in those two movies, and I’m sure all the remotely funny bits were in the trailer.

FOUR. TIMES.

:: • :: • :: • ::

OK, I’m done for tonight.

Have a good Wednesday, everyone.


Seven years already?

On this date in 2001, I made my first DVD rental from Netflix. Picked three movies, received all three two days later.

In alphabetical order:

Antz. I can’t remember exactly why I rented this. Only thing I can figure is it was a fairly new DVD release at the time, and probably I wanted to be able to compare it to A Bug’s Life, which was due for release in November of that year.

The Big Kahuna. Hated this movie. Hated, hated, HATED it. Rented it because I generally like Kevin Spacey and the trailers somehow made it look good to me.

Enemy of the State. Will Smith’s latest (at the time) blockbuster, and it held my attention from beginning to end despite the occasionally laughably obvious plot.

I was struck, as I looked over the rest of my rental history, by how strongly I remember some of the movies, or at least the circumstances of their rental or viewing, and by how utterly forgettable other movies have proved to be. The Ice Storm, for example, I still clearly remember watching on a November evening in 2001. The film itself didn’t register on me much, neither particularly good nor hideously awful, though I quite like both Kevin Kline and Joan Allen; but the circumstances of when and where I watched it, I remember well. Not so for Spider-Man 3, which my calendar and my Netflix history both tell me I watched less than a year ago on Nov 15, 2007, but which I have no memory of seeing—neither the movie itself nor the when/where of it apart from my calendar record.

The seven years in my Netflix history since, by the numbers:

  • 435: Number of movies I’ve rented.
  • 165: Longest time (in days) I held a movie. I’d lost a Netflix envelope among a stack of papers and needed several months to find it. And then returned it UNWATCHED.
  • 50: Discs returned unwatched due to lost interest. Some of these I knew I wouldn’t watch and forgot to remove them from my queue.
  • 14: Times I changed my membership level, as high as 4-at-at-time/unlimited and as low as 1-out/2-monthly depending on how I was using the service at any given time.
  • 12: Number of movies I’ve rented twice.
  • 9: Discs returned for replacement due to unplayability. Scratches mostly, my DVD player is VERY sensitive to that; but in one case, the DVD arrived snapped into four pieces inside its mailer.
  • 2: Times I put my account on hold while I was moving from one state to another.
  • 1.2: Average number of movies per week over the entire 7-year run.
  • 1: Shortest time (in days) I held a movie (actually 30 different titles) and number of movies I rented 3 times.
  • 0: Discs I’ve lost and Times I’ve entered movie-rental stores.

Hell of a ride. I wonder how much my late fees would have been on those films I kept longer than the brick-and-mortar stores’ policies allowed back in 2001? I should figure that out sometime, but I think this is enough stats geekery for now.


Weekend in a minute

  1. Beautiful weather. This was all weekend, but it started Friday, so chronologically it goes first.
  2. Drinks and dinner with Katharine and our coworker friend Ian at Macaroni Grill Friday night. Second time I’d been there in a week, but only once for a meal. And while we were there . . . .
  3. Ran into my friend Matt and his roommate Liz, who were there to wait for their other friend Jason, who is one of the bartenders. So of course I had to hang out with them a bit once the dinner part of the evening was over, and somehow that meant a trip to the grocery store to buy a foot-long sub that was actually 14 inches (I called it “the baker’s foot”—I am such a card) and a 12-pack of Coca-Cola. For Jason, that is. I still had my lasagna leftovers.
  4. SLEPT. Ahh.
  5. Relaxing Saturday morning and early afternoon of household stuff. Never used to relax me, now I find it enormously satisfying. Damned adulthood.
  6. A complete reset of my TiVo, which had been doing Spanish-language and cooking shows again, but oddly, no Spanish-cooking shows. Also insisted it was out of program info as of yesterday even though the listings actually ran through the 18th. The little TiVo dude may be cute and cuddly, but damn if I don’t want to slap the shit out of him sometimes.
  7. Lovely happy hour and dinner with Julie Anne at Bell Street Diner on the Seattle waterfront. Watched some cruise ships pull away, watched some drama with a whole passel of Seattle Fire Department trucks and personnel including divers for a water rescue that wasn’t actually necessary. Also a lot of BYU fans who were just pleased as non-alcoholic punch by their football team’s one-point victory over the Washington Huskies, though the one set of blue-wearing jackasses on our left did spend a good part of their meal whining about how the Cougars beat the Huskies by “only” one point, woe are they, their team is better than that! The one guy ordered the salmon pot pie, which Julie Anne hates and would normally warn persons she likes against ordering it. This BYU-fan numbnuts she encouraged to order it.
  8. Home by 21:00 Saturday so I had a nice evening of warm weather, lovely Seattle city views, and my new rope lights on the balcony to add a bit of ambience, and to blind me to the views of the closer neighborhood. Hadn’t quite thought that all the way through, but it works well enough for the light I actually want out there sometimes.
  9. SLEPT more. Ahhhhh.
  10. Woke up absurdly early, silly body getting used to the work schedule and holding me to it on the weekends. Drank 12oz Diet Coke, which seems like way TMI but is important a point or two down the line.
  11. Met Matt for coffee at Borders in Alderwood Mall. Twelve ounces of non-fat white chocolate mocha there (again, not really TMI, just wait for it), ahead of
  12. The 11:30 showing of The Dark Knight in Lynnwood, accompanied by roughly half of a 32oz (they call that “small”) Diet Coke at the theater, so that when the (3-hour!) movie was over
  13. I could barely stand up, my bladder was so stretched. RESTROOM EMERGENCY, I walked out of the theater bent over like Igor from Young Frankenstein, but I made it with no lasting ill effect. Ahhhhhhh.
  14. Late lunch with Matt in Edmonds at Anthony’s Beach Cafe, or Bell Street Diner North as I’ve decided to call it. Similar menu, similar waterfront experience (though the sandbox and screaming children added a whole level of Family Fun! to the meal), absolutely GORGEOUS afternoon.
  15. Home to wind down the weekend with a few more householdy things while I get into the mindset for my first full five-day work week in what seems like months, but is really only a few weeks, after the last few work weeks were shortened by holidays and visiting family.

Seems like such a more happenin’ life when it’s listed in 15 items like this, go figure.


Mad Hot Ballroom (2005)

Mad Hot Ballroom DVD coverUplifting documentary of New York public schools’ ballroom-dancing program. The movie follows fifth-grade students’ efforts in learning the dances and moving through the various levels of competition. The students’ gradual change from typical urban kids to young ladies and gentlemen is really something to see.

It’s a decent first-time effort by Marilyn Agrelo and Amy Sewell, and the kids and their teachers took quite well to having their lives documented on film; they were quite at ease with the filming, concentrating on their dancing and being refreshingly honest in the several individual interviews sprinkled throughout.

Sources:


The Friday Five: 03/12/04

Hmm, an hour ahead of schedule this time.

  1. What was the last song you heard?
    Gravity by Vienna Teng

  2. What were the last two movies you saw?
    Silverado and Down With Love

  3. What were the last three things you purchased?
    A three-pack of Coast soap; a Reach toothbrush; a 12-pack of Diet Coke

  4. What four things do you need to do this weekend?
    Help my friend Sonya move. Help my sister Katharine prepare for her move next weekend. Start organizing/packing for my own move next month. Make moving-truck arrangements for my move.

  5. Who are the last five people you talked to?
    Kat
    Sonya
    Kortland (boss)
    Jeff (coworker)
    Susan (apartment leasing office minion)
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