Thursday, March 31, 2011

Can You Believe That I Haven't Seen - Saw

Welcome to my third installment in this series. In January I watched The Shawshank Redemption, February was three hours with The Godfather and for March I spent some time with Jigsaw by finally watching Saw.

In the grand scheme of great movies, it’s not strange that I never watched Saw. This is a specific type of genre that you’re either into or you’re not. The reason I decided to finally give it a try is because so many people over the years told me I would like it.

My brother-in-law made the mistake of mentioning that he always meant to watch this too, so I recruited him as my movie buddy when he came over this weekend. Then my husband, who was not going to watch it, ended up taking a seat and getting involved in the story line.

Well, I think there are six Saw movies now so I probably don’t need to tell anyone the plot, but just in case, this deranged dude kidnaps people and sets them up in would you rather situations. Like, would you rather dig inside this guy’s stomach and find a key to unlock the bear trap I put on your face, OR be chicken and die when the trap timer goes off and explodes your head? Simple, ordinary stuff.

I was most surprised by how non-gory this film was. I think each film began to push the envelope a bit more, but this first time out, the gore was quite low. I will say that the plot held my interest, even if I wasn’t completely won over. I did feel they fell into cliché several times when bad guys were caught and not shot at. Really? I’m mean we’re not talking about someone caught robbing your house so you’re holding a gun on them. This is a sicko; you’re going to plug the guy! Hey, maybe that’s just me.

As a fan of the TV series Lost, it was quite freaky to see both Miles and Ben in this film. I felt like I was the last to know a something.

In the end, this film was okay. I don’t regret watching it, but it didn’t convert me to a fan of the genre. And I’m certainly not running out to rent II thru VI! At least now, though, if I say I don’t care for these types of films and someone chimes in with, “Well you should see Saw.” I can say, “Yeah, I saw that.”

Sidenote* I did find him pretty funny on his little trike!

Next month – Cat On A Hot Tin Roof

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Song of the Week - One More Night

A couple of weeks ago I read an article that Phil Collins is retiring from music. Apparently, he has a physical limitation that makes drumming difficult and he claims that he’s sort of done with all of it anyway. It really made me feel like you don’t realize how much you’ll miss someone until they’re gone. I started thinking about all the great Phil songs. Of course “Against All Odds” is fantastic and for a white guy, he did a pretty decent remake of The Supremes, “You Can’t Hurry Love.”

“One More Night” has always been one my favorites. He says the line so many times, it should annoy the heck out of you, but instead his pleading really does make you want to give him one more night.

Phil always seemed like a nice guy to me. He was a regular bloke who could sing and play piano and bang the drums like nobody’s business. I even saw Phil in concert back in the 80’s. When he did “In the Air Tonight,” he brought the house down! I’ll miss you Phil. I hope you enjoy yourself, and we’re here if you ever want to come back.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Half A Life - Book Review

About a month ago I was driving home from work and had a close call.

We have a very long bike trail in my county. It links all our surrounding cities together and is widely used. Parts of the trail though must end and you’re forced to cross through auto traffic before you can pick it up again. These transitions are set up safely. The section for my encounter has a traffic light; the biker just decided not to obey it. He ran a red light and crossed right in front of my car. I was going the speed limit of 40mp and had to slam on my brakes. I’m not a honker. I really think honking should be used to alert other drivers of danger and nothing more. Honestly though, I laid into that horn! And what did this douchebag, that I could have killed, do? He flipped me off! He ran a red light and if he was going faster, if I was going slower, if things were timed one more second either way, I could’ve killed this guy. Even though he was completely in the wrong, I had this split second flash of my brain not comprehending what was in front of me. I remember thinking, “Why is something right in front of me? That doesn’t make any sense.” BRAKE! A few blocks later I thought about how horrible I would have felt even though it would not have been my fault. If my fate was entwined with the extermination of a life, it would be a large cross to bear. This experience reminded me of a book I recently read, but never got around to writing the review.

I have not read Darin Strauss’ fiction. Actually, I just remembered, I started reading More Than It Hurts You, but it was on loan from the library and I couldn’t finish it in time. I think I picked up a used copy at some point, but obviously, still did not read it.

Anyway, this book is far from fiction. It’s a memoir, but only about one specific time in Mr. Strauss’ life. When he was a teenager, he struck a bicyclist with his car. She was a teenager too and the accident killed her.

What’s different about this book is how he was never blamed for what was deemed as an accident. However, this does not escape him from feelings of guilt and responsibility. It’s an interesting examination and carefully written by Strauss. It’s clear that this is not a pity-party and he’s cautious of the fact that one person is dead and the one that is alive never wants you to feel he was the unfortunate one of the situation.

It’s important for people to know though how this psychologically affects a person. Even though an investigation did not find him at fault, you know some people actually do think you’re to blame and in some ways, you do too. Why weren’t you more aware? Why couldn’t you see it coming or reacted faster? This, of course, would replay in your mind forever.

It doesn’t help that the girl’s parents decided to sue Darin after it was already determined that he was not at fault. This dead-end court case looms over him during his college years and has a hold on him that I could not imagine carrying around at that young age.

I was attracted to this book for somewhat sadistic reasons. Hitting someone with my car is one of my top fears in life. I did not learn to drive until I was 30 years old and I really don’t get behind the wheel more than I have to. I never drive on the freeway and if I’m going into my beloved San Francisco, I’ll take public transportation thank you! So it probably wasn’t the best idea in the world for me to read this. Sometimes I think I’ll be better if I rip off the band-aid and immerse myself in “the worst that can happen.”

Fortunately, this is a small book, so just when you feel that you can bare it no longer, it’s over. For Darin Strauss, I’m sure this was more a therapeutic exercise than a literary work. Writers need to write these things out and I hope by putting this experience on the page it has helped him achieve another level on the road towards peace.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Inside Job - DVD Review

The main attraction for viewing the documentary Inside Job is to find out where all our money went! If you were an adult in 2008, you were in someway affected by the banking fiasco. You may have lost investments, retirement, nest eggs, had a subprime loan, had a crappy mortgage, lost your job, or just plain could not understand how these clowns got away with highway robbery. This film, winner of the Academy Award for Best Documentary, will answer your questions. You may not like the answer, but it will be laid out in a comprehensible manner.

There was a small section about derivatives where I was happy to be watching on DVD. I paused the movie and my husband and I batted it back and forth a bit until I felt I grasped it a little better. Those are still confusing to me. Maybe, because they have a shady aspect to them?

I do feel this movie won an award because of its explosive subject matter as opposed to its filmmaking qualities. I was on the edge of my seat, but the documentary style was basically movies your forced to watch in school. People are interviewed, pie charts are shown, stock footage, strategically placed captions and oh look, a bar graph! If a high schooler had to watch this, I honestly think they’d be bored out of their minds!

So if you’re watching this to find out what happened, you’ll have a comprehensive film that will leave you angered, but informed. If you want to see what’s new and avant garde in the area of documentary filmmaking, skip it. This one kicks it old school!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Conan - Thursday

I KNEW I heard this song somewhere before! Conan's version is way better.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Song of the Week - Uncharted

I'm still in a new groove right now. Here's the latest from the artistically wonderful Sara Bareilles. She wrote this song about having writer's block. I can dig that. SHe's also being helped by some pretty famous friends like: Vanessa Carlton, Guster, Ben Folds, Josh Groban, Ingrid Michaelson, Guster, Adam Levine and more. Wow, I wanted to be invited to one of her dinner parties! Enjoy this happy, feel good song.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Desert Island CD - Blogathon Sponsored by Anomalous Material

Desert Island Blogathon
This was just a genius idea. Talk about a Blogathon I can really sink my teeth into! Here’s the premise. The minds over at Amomalous Material sent out a call to compile a movie soundtrack desert island CD. So I’m trapped on my desert island and I’m basically screwed because I’m petite, out of shape and can’t swim! I’m going to be there for awhile and this CD will keep me going.

1. Calling You – Bagdad Café
This was one of my first forays into quirky independent films. I loved this movie and I remember hunting this soundtrack down on vinyl (there was no internet in the 80’s dude!) This song still gives me chills. What a voice!

2. More Than A Woman – Saturday Night Fever
Okay, I’m a little embarrassed to admit this one, but guess what? I’m on a desert island. No one has to know. I can’t help but get all quishy and nostalgic whenever I hear this song. Plus, look at the disco dancing!

3. New Slang – Garden State
Natalie Portman is so right, The Shins will change your life. I did not know who The Shins were before I saw this film. Now, I own all their albums. Zach Braff also used this in an episode of Scrubs from season one. Since I never get through a full week without listening to this song, it would be pretty hard to be on that island without it.

4. In Your Eyes – Say Anything
Everyone is going to have this on their list right? Well I don’t care. This is another song that I listen to on a regular basis. I can sit back and daydream that Lloyd will not stop searching for me.

5. Hard Times – Georgia
I’m actually surprised I found this clip. I don’t know anyone else who has seen this movie. I love Mare Winningham’s voice in this film. By the way, it really is her singing.

6. Love Theme by Vanelis – Blade Runner
In reality, if some dude slammed a door I was trying to open and keep me from leaving, I’d kick him in the balls! No means no Mr. Ford, even if I am a replicant. However, this is a movie and Harrison Ford is hot. I was just a teenager when Blade Runner came out. I remember thinking, “Now that is some sexy music!”

7. Don’t You Forget About Me – The Breakfast Club
This song in extra special for me. I’m old enough to have seen The Breakfast Club when it first came out. It was also my prom song and my prom date was my future and current husband! Why wouldn’t I want to hear this all the time?

8. Theme – Raiders of the Lost Ark
Okay, this is my all time favorite movie and the theme song always makes me feel happy and excited. I can recite this entire film by memory. So, on my island I can kick back, close my eyes and watch it whenever I want! It also really made me appreciate musical scores. All hail, John Williams!

9. When Doves Cry – Purple Rain
Try to get a clip of a Prince song. Ah, you know how it goes anyway. Seeing this film was like going to a Prince concert. It was incredible. People were standing up dancing and we were all screaming. I had a blast! I later did see The Purple Rain Tour, but this film and song holds fond memories for me.

10. Loco de Amor – Something Wild
Great song from a crappy movie. Salsa legend Celia Cruz (who I met back in day) and Talking Heads frontman David Byrne. Odd pairing that totally works. This whole song soundtrack is awesome with songs from Oingo Boingo and Fine Young Cannibals. Unfortunately, it’s currently out of print. If you ever find it in a used bin though, snap it up. You won’t be sorry!

11. Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want – Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
I still remember my best friend leaning over to me in the theater and whispering, “Oh my God, it’s The Smiths!” I poo-poohed her. I learned that day to never question the awesomeness of my friend Sheila. She was absolutely right. I remember thinking, “How could John Hughes possibly know who The Smiths are?”

12. Tequila – Pee Wee’s Big Adventure

It doesn’t get much better than this one. Already a great song and a little Pee Wee makes everything better, right? IF I could pass the time doing this dance, things might not be so bad. The only problem is I can't find an authorized clip of this one. Boo! Please Google it though and let Pee Wee put on smile on your face today.

Now make sure you hop on over to everyone else’s’ list.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Friday - Rebecca Black

Are you kidding me with this? I can't believe how bad this is. My daughter made me watch this yesterday and I thought she was exaggerating, but no, this is atrocious! Listen to these lyrics. She is telling you the days of the week and deciding to sit in the front or back of the car! Plus, the singing is simply awful. She sounds like a robot. I feel bad because this is a young girl and I truly hope the joke is on us and she's kidding, but if she's not...
Anyway, I was forced to post it because, well, it's Friday.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Our America with Lisa Ling

TV Review
The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Lisa Ling
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical Humor & Satire BlogThe Daily Show on Facebook

It was this interview on The Daily Show that prompted me to check out this show on the OWN (you know the new Oprah Channel) network.

For me, this show takes the place of my beloved and missed 30 Days. I’ve now seen both episodes she mentions in this interview and I have two more waiting on my DVR.

This show is intelligently done and really shows you lives you probably know little or nothing about. I appreciate these glimpses and I like to be challenged by what I watch. In a sea of over dramatic, reality show losers, it’s nice to see a reality based show that actually shows reality!

This is one of my “Shows You Should Be Watching List.” Check it out and come back and let me know what you think.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The King is Dead - The Decemberists

Album Review
The newest album from The Decemberists is a bit like the old Decemberists. While I appreciated the creativity behind 2009’s The Hazards of Love, I simply didn’t have time in my life to devote to a concept album. I hope to really give it an intense listen someday soon and maybe I’ll do a back track review. The new album fits my listening style a bit more. I can take each song in its own little chunk. The album starts off strong with, Don’t Carry It All. This is probably the most radio friendly song on the album, but many others are beautiful gems. It’s funny that it was too much of a commitment for me to listen to the last album in its entirety, yet I feel this one can be played all the way through. Go figure. As strong as the album starts it lets go sweetly with Dear Avery.

*My favorite track – January Hymn

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Song of the Week - I Wrote the Book

I think it's common knowledge by now that my entertainment budget has been seriously strapped lately. I started a list of songs and albums I can't wait to download once I'm back in the black. Well, Beth Ditto just made my list. What a stick in your head great song. This video has a great "Vogue" feel and man I'm digging it!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Howl - DVD Review

Even though I grew up in San Francisco and go to City Lights Bookstore whenever I’m in North Beach, my knowledge of the Beat Poets/Writers is basically, Jack Kerourac. Admittedly, I never read On the Road (I have it though) and I’ve never heard of the poem Howl, by Allan Ginsberg, which this film is based on. I tell you this because it did not stop me from thoroughly enjoying this film.

I must warn you from the start that I don’t believe this film is for everyone. It’s very arty; with cartoons, jazz, and basically someone reading a very long poem throughout the course of the film. At first I was hesitant, but it’s only an hour and 24 minutes so I decided to stick it out. I was glad I did.

In 1957 a poem was published by City Lights Press. After its publication, the publishers were sued on obscenity charges. This film not only shows the poem being read by Ginsberg (played by James Franco), the filmmakers actually take the real court transcripts as the script for most of the film. This is spliced in with a lengthy interview that Ginsberg gave in 1957.

Whatever personality Franco lacked in his Oscar hosting gig, he completely takes on this role with gusto. I get the feeling he loved getting into this character. He’s vibrant and alive and I love the passion and youthfulness he brought to this role.

What I enjoyed the most was hearing the interview. We tend to think certain artist didn’t really have intent when they wrote certain words or painted certain images, but in his interview, Ginsberg makes it quite clear that he knew what he was doing.

I plan to be in the North Beach area next month. I promise you I will be picking up my long overdue copy of Howl and Other Poems. If you’re feeling particularly creative, give this movie a try. I think you’ll be ready to do some serious creation work afterwards.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Can You Believe That I Haven't Seen...The Godfather

The Godfather

Okay, I’m getting a bit behind. The Godfather was supposed to be my February CYBTIHS flick. I did manage to watch it in February, but I’ve gotten seriously behind on my blogging lately. So I’ll be posting two movies in March to get back on track.

Let me begin by saying that I’ve seen so many clips, excerpts and bits of The Godfather, I feel like I have seen this film. I remember my parents watching it and I would bounce in and out. Somehow, during childhood, I never managed to watch it from beginning to end. Then in the 1990’s I came across a “special edition” video at my local rental store. This incarnation spliced together one and two and put it in chronological order. So I came home with six hours of Godfather goodness. Well of course I never finished it and honestly, that was the total wrong way to watch this saga. Talk about taking all the artistry out of it! I saw so many jumbled up scenes I didn’t know which way was up. I finally righted this wrong and watch the original 1972 The Godfather in its entirety.

This film certainly had a lot of expectations to live up to. How often to you wait too long to watch a movie only to be disappointed because there’s no way it can live up to the hype? Well let me tell you, I was blown away! This film was and still is perfection! I can’t think of a single thing I would want to change. The casting, direction, soundtrack, cinematography were all a lesson in, this is how it’s done.

What surprised me the most about this film is how much I liked the Corleone Family. They showed you this family with a shady business, but they still knew where to draw the line and they were okay with Michael (Al Pacino) not being part of the family business. I have a feeling this integrity will not quite carry over into The Godfather Part II, but I’m going to judge this film solo for now.

Al Pacino was truly magnificent. I loved that he was this little guy and the whole family looked up to him as a war veteran. Sweet Michael shouldn’t be involved in this, plus really, what is he going to do? He tries so long not to get involved because what he knows, that know one else does, is that not only can he do this job, he will be the most ruthless mother f***er the mob ever laid their eyes on!

Everyone’s acting was top-notch and they probably all deserved Oscars. Brando did a hell of a job creating an iconic figure, but the two performances that stood out for me were Pacino and Robert Duvall as Tom. Maybe it’s the half Irish in me, but what family doesn’t need a devoted Tom who’s got your back at all times?

From the opening scene your drawn in to this family and their “business.” How can you not sympathize with the father whose daughter was beaten into disfigurement? You can see yourself in his shoes, desperate for retribution and you may go as far as to ask The Don for a favor.

So far I’m two for two. This film and January’s pick The Shawshank Redemption both hit it out of the park. I would say if you’ve never seen The Godfather, clear your calendar this second and plop your butt down. For March I’m taking a bit of a detour. The film I haven’t seen but soon will…Saw!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Song of the Week - Never Gonna Leave This Bed

I'm going to drop a new tune this week. This is currently the song stuck in my head. The critics kind of dissed Marron 5's latest album, but this is already the third great single to come off of it. I also don't mind watching Adam Levine. Yummy!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Thank You Charlie Sheen

Since Charlie Sheen has decided to concentrate on “winning” instead of admitting to his drug problem, CBS finally canned him today. I was never a fan of Two and A Half Men, so it won’t cut a hole into my TV schedule.

This did however; enable CBS to take a look at some of their other shows and maybe give them a little hard earned love. One of my top favorites, How I Met Your Mother was picked up for not one, but two seasons.

I would have to recommend giving this wonderful show a try. It’s smartly written and has heart.

As for the fate of Two and A Half Men? Well, Charlie Sheen won a Golden Globe when he replaced the irreplaceable Michael J. Fox. It just may live on.