luni, 19 iulie 2010

Bitchin' time

So, a famous national singer killed herself some days ago, I think she drank something funny. It was pretty sad for her fans and it was all over the news. Like a lot. Seriously, Michael Jackson would have been very jealous.
Anyways, some schmucks on television decided to start a debate about suicide. If you're going to start a debate on that, you'd better not talk crap. But they kinda did.
First off, they mentioned how important it is for parents to talk to their kids and reassure them about life and such. It's a nice idea. Sure, a healthy childhood makes a person saner than the average Joe, but what does this have to do with suicide?
You know, guys, not all cases of suicide are a direct consequence of some parental abuse.
Actually, a lot of suicidal people have great families. Most of them have parents that treasure all their diplomas and eating contest cups.
I'll admit that there might be cases where people end their lives because their moms and dads suck big time. But most of the cases we see on TV (the shocking, juicy ones) have some pretty absurd motivations that are only logical to the person at hand.
All I'm saying is that making parents talk to their kids about how sparkly and pink life is won't necessarily prevent them from killing themselves.
And another thing that pissed me off, those guys were talking about depression and how it's such a spiral into your own personal hell.
Well, my mom looked at me with a worried face and asked me why I'm depressed.
Guys, being depressed is serious business.
If you're sad that it's summer and you have nothing to do, that's just being a lazy ass.
If you're sad that your boyfriend or girlfriend isn't paying attention to you, that's just being needy.
If you're sad that you can't lick your elbow, that's just being stupid.
Depression is a serious thing and it can be pretty damaging. If you feel bad, you aren't necessarily depressed.
So many pricks across the globe shout about how depressed they are when half of them just can't upload a good pic of themselves on facebook.

duminică, 23 mai 2010

Winter's Love

Animal Collective describes a tea cup falling on the floor and the pieces turn to snow. In my mind.

luni, 10 mai 2010

And you must not forget Paris, and you won't. Everlasting.

Bine si acum sunt aici din nou. Si in pofida asteptarilor, e bine sa fiu aici, e chiar foarte bine. Desi nu mai ma cutremura ceva cand privesc in zare, ma incalzeste locul familiar si familial. Am iesit pe o poarta si a fost minunat, desi poate am sa traiesc senzatia de abia saptamana viitoare.
Caci inca nu m-am dezmeticit, am vazut Parisul!
Si l-am vazut gol, parfumat, inrourat cu tot felul de suspine. L-am vazut intr-o primavara rece cand Champs Elysee redevenea o oda a obiectului. Insa cantecul onorat acestui bulevard mi se pare atat de banal, aproape o insulta. E doar o parere dar o sustin.
Paris parea o carte postala, mestecata de un pictor nevrotic si parea mai mult decat atat, parea ca eram eu si toti ceilalti, urcati unul peste altul, intr-o lupta neinteleasa catre cer. Dar ador Parisul ca oricine din lume care se simte un pic interesant. Am vazut tot si simt ca n-am vazut nimic, dar asta e sentimentul cel mai frumos, de vartej al frumusetii, nimicul care devine arta, golul care se umple, odata ce privesti cerul parizian, nevazutul ochilor care devine vazutul picioarelor, al degetelor...
Ce mai conteaza ca nu stiam unde sunt si ce fac? Conteaza ca simteam ceva.
Iar acum chiar ca nu imi mai pasa ca raman rece la poeziile de dragoste ale lui Nichita Stanescu, caci am avut o emotie mult mai mare pur si simplu privind doi copii dansand pe malul Senei.
Poze mai tarziu, cand nu e asa de tarziu in noapte :)

marți, 9 martie 2010

Alice in Wonderland, the 3D experience

I've said it before and I might as well say it now too: I don't think I'll ever find the 3D experience entertaining. True, I have seen very few movies in 3D but I don't think that the pleasure will increase with further viewings. I know a lot of people share my complaint and feel that, in a way, cinema is trying to make them swallow this mind-numbing product, without bothering to give them an actual option; like watching the damn movie without those glasses. It's sort of denying part of our freedom, if you think about it. And it's not doing it in a pretty, subtle way; it's just throwing it in our faces, expecting us to deal with it.
And really now, we will have to deal with it because more and more movies are being shot in 3D. Whether they're doing it to enhance the movie's quality or simply get the extra money on the ticket, this scheme has already run old, before it even reached adulthood.
It's sad to see, in this case, that Tim Burton thinks he needs assistance from the not-so-helping hand of 3D. Knowing him and his creative release in movies, 3D would be too much for the audience to take.
...or at least, it would have been, had he invested more than special effects and a good cast into his new movie, Alice in Wonderland.

Now, before I go any further, I would like to say that I found this movie quite good. I had been waiting for it for ages (last august to be particular) and I was ready to overlook the casting of Johnny Depp (yet again and again and again...), because this was going to be Burton's version on the wonderful, classic tale and Helena-Bonham Carter would have a double-sized head.
The trailers looked fantastic and I was expecting to be dazzled.
Well, I was the number of people who came out of the cinema saying this movie was brilliant.
This movie was fine, no doubt, but, considering the material at hand, quirky Mr. Tim could have done wonders. He had the freedom to do anything and I mean anything and yet the movie looked more like a clean-cut zoo. Maybe the problem was that he had too much freedom and he didn't know how to use it. But the fact of the matter remains; he limited himself to action scenes, some amazing visuals and teen-psychology (which was well-handled, I'll admit).

I guess the problem came with the script, written by Beauty and the Beast veteran, Linda Woolverton, who probably had something else in mind when she handed her written work to Burton. It seems to me and this is a personal opinion, that her view and his clashed on a couple of aspects. Burton tried to make the story look like Alice's dream in which Alice was painfully aware this could be a hallucination and this worked brilliantly for the first half of the movie. However, Linda wanted to make this world real, but not in the sense that Caroll probably intended, satirizing the boorish and absurd English society (it was more a satire of some fascist regimes, but not of England that much). More likely, she wanted "Underland" to be the opposite of reality, in that in Underland, Alice would finally live free to dream and be herself, implying that she couldn't have done that in her own world. She expects Alice to go through this rite of passage in which she becomes a woman, but I think she underlines that this new maturity needs to be applied in her real world, because once she grows up, she doesn't need Underland anymore.
So, in a way, Underland is just the waiting room for real life and while this idea is fairly interesting, it was not fleshed out that well and Burton would have been better off with his initial take on the story.
The acting in this movie is sometimes beautiful and sometimes just downright subpar. We have a studded cast here that's just exuding potential, but when we do get to see them performing our balloon starts to deflate slowly.
The man who should have refused this part was Johnny Depp. No matter how good an actor he might be, this particular character was so painfully reminiscent of all his other performances that we didn't really care about The Mad Hatter; we just saw Depp trying to be Depp. And when you can see that in an actor, you know the acting will suffer. He did try his best, I will say that, but his attempts were ousted by his constant care to remain in character. I really liked some of his scenes, but at the same time almost choked on my popcorn at others. That's right; the Godawful break-dance scene at the end of the movie. Depp should have said no to that, at least, but I guess he is really committed.
Another Burton favourite, Helena-Bonham Carter gave a pretty solid performance, but once again, we were painfully reminded of a dozens other characters she embodied in movies. We saw something interesting, but not something new. She seemed to be replaying every other part she's ever had, or at least that's how it felt. But she did give a lot of colour and dynamics to the movie and saved a lot of awkward scenes.
The fairly new-comer, Mia Wasikowska, gave a truly brilliant performance. I was really impressed by this girls' acting skills and the way she could portray a very fragile, innocent girl one minute and the next, turn into a headstrong, powerful woman who could slay monsters. I felt what she felt, I could actually understand her and sympathize and she had this humanity that went beyond the screen. Of course, the script cut off her potential in many scenes, like the ones in the beginning of the movie. The exposition was rushed and silly, trying to explain everything in two minutes and failing to give any outline to the heroine. But that was easily fixed when she entered Underland.
Other brilliant performances belonged to Anne Hathaway( who, despite what others might say, was a heck of a White Queen) and of course Stephen Fry and Alan Rickman (adoring sigh).
The Chesshire Cat and Absolem were, by far, the most entertaining characters of the "wild" bunch. Crispin Glover was not bad as the Knave of Hearts, but at times Helena seemed a lot manlier than him, even Mia perhaps. And if he was stuck being a wimp, we'd expect him to show his oddball side he interprets so well, but that didn't happen either. He was uncommonly bland for two hours.
The March Hare and the Dormouse were awfully annoying and unnecessary, especially when they tried to seem eccentric and "crazy". They looked like they needed direction and maybe some decent lines.

Now that we've covered story and acting, we're left with visuals which were impressive of course and breathtaking in some scenes. My only complaint remains that Tim Burton didn't let himself go. I barely saw this world come to life. It didn't have a mind of its own. The scenes that were truly beautiful distracted me from noticing everything was far too normal, but in the long run, I realised what was missing. The 3D was better used here than in Avatar, but it didn't make some scenes more entrancing or more creative, it just made them more exciting perhaps.
In conclusion, I would sum up Alice in Wonderland as a box-office movie. It gets the money, it makes people happy and it leaves you with an impression. Too bad that the dancing sequence at the end almost threatened to destroy that impression for me.

miercuri, 10 februarie 2010

101 Dalmations

What would any normal person do on a normal school night with lots of stuff to do and lots of guilt-trips to suffer? Play a childhood game after midnight of course. And not just any childhood game, but a game that brings back hours of delight, stupidity, general lack of sense and direction, but also a sort of charm that kind of escapes you after you hit puberty.
I'm talking about 101 Dalmatians:The Game, of course.
The game is based on the beloved Disney story about a psychotic lady who only wants fur and believes kidnapping 101 dalmatians and slaughtering them in order to make the perfect to-die-for outfit will render her happy. Such a lovable story about fantasy and dreams, isn't it? But really now, having puppies as main characters can be a lot more entertaining than having to watch a thirteen or fourteen year-old Snow White sing into a fountain about how she wants a boyfriend. Don't get me wrong, I love Disney princesses and all the buckets plastered with their faces that are marketed off as Disney products (yes, buckets!), but it's nice to have another species on screen that can prevent one from thinking one is fatter or uglier than one really is.
That being said, this game basically takes you on a journey where you play a dalmatian and you have to save all your brothers from Cruella and also defeat the wicked Glenn Close (because you can't tell the difference anymore), all the while trying to fend off toys that will explode in your face and avoid the annoying hitmen that work for Cruella who I swear look more like printouts of those burglars from Home Alone.
There are many levels you have to go through and they're very whimsical and wacky, like one time you have to go through a logging factory, another time you have to find your way through Big Ben tower (yeah...plausible) and I also recall this magical forest done in the Alice in Wonderland style. There's actually a very peculiar chamber in that forest that allows you to go to different parts of the forest and while that does not seem strange initially, you have to see the room for yourself to get really creeped out. There's also a memorable level where you start off in a subway by the looks of it and then you end up in these sewers with a bunch of alligators and very queer Harry Potter-like chambers filled with keys and other interesting objects.
Some could argue the game tends to take on a surreal note at times, but I guess it was marketed for a certain age group so I suppose the more you grow up, the more you realize it really was created for the inner child in you who can still come up with mind-boggling scenarios like the ones in 101 Dalmations.
The graphic is pretty neat, I mean I've had this game since I was about nine or ten which was some time ago so for that period this game could be labeled as cool and maybe innovating, but since I'm not a gamer and don't know so many games from that period I might be ridiculously wrong. However, to me, this did seem like a break in the mould, if we're talking about children's games, because it wasn't geered up with too much violence, but it wasn't overly-friendly like those educational games that tried to have a moral at the end. It was just a fun-packed adventure that relied mostly on your reflexes and partly on thinking, because it wasn't and will never be a really smart game.
As a sort of conclusion, I really can't estimate if this game can still be appealing to children these days because they're really hard to please. I remember being nine and having no other wish in the world than to play this cutsy skateboarding game with Goofy as main character. But that's because expectations were lower back then. Now, I probably wouldn't be satisfied either. And yet, if 101 Dalmations can't really please kids out there anymore, it's still fun to try out, if only to enjoy those ridiculous and over-the-top scenarios that I've mentioned.
Plus, it gives you this feel-good vibe that not many childhood games can provide.
All in all, I don't regret having spent many, many hours of my childhood playing it (even though I could've, let's say, gone out to play with friends or take some exercise).

miercuri, 3 februarie 2010


A kind, gentle, hardworking Palestinian woman and her son travel to America, seeking a better future, on the backdrop of the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Even though their country has nothing to do with Al-Qeada or the events of 9/11, they are still shut out, discriminated and even bullied by some xenophobes who believe they should go home. This is a quick outline of what the movie Amreeka is portraying, but it is a vague summary that does not do justice to this little gem that I've had the fortune to watch.
Amreeka is not a political movie and does not have religious messages. It deals with problems that probably all people from the Middle East have to face once they immigrate to America. Even though most Americans no longer have this narrow-minded view on immigrants, some still harbour some very prejudiced ideas about foreigners from the Middle East.

But Amreeka is all about hope, because Muna, the struggling mother, smiles sweetly and kindly to everyone, even if they insult or laugh at her or even pity her. She suffers but she has hope and she always finds a reason to be happy, if only a little. Her excitement and passion are shown in her love for her son. She tries to do everything for him, that is why she takes this chance of going to the US so she can offer him a higher education and a better life. So when he strays from the right path because of some bullying at school and bad entourage, she tells him that he should never be ashamed of who he really is and he should stand up proud, because no one has the right to tell him he doesn't belong in America or any other place. And I think the message of the movie is just that: we are all humans, we are all the same, no matter our country and we must learn to accept and live with each other, otherwise there will always be wars. Muna is the woman who accepts everyone even if she is not always accepted and I believe that is what makes her so likeable. She is a breath of fresh air for everyone.
Cherien Dabis, the writer and director, grew up in America during the Golf War as the daughter of Jordanians and she also suffered some discrimination in her childhood so this movie is a statement of her beliefs and experiences.
The movie is an experience, a journey that one takes with Muna from Palestine, where her country is under siege, to America where she is not accepted. And still, after many obstacles, at the end Muna smiles and looks triumphant.