Friday, October 30, 2009

Life's Big Questions

Another survey, courtesy of a user over at imdb. I thought I'd post my response here instead of there because most of those threads have relatively short shelf lives...over to the survey.

1. What's bigger, movies or life? Movies-they're my life support system, along with family and friendship of course.

2. Paste one movie quote that you find profound: One that I can't get enough of ever since hearing it: "
The heart is a resilient little muscle." -- Woody Allen in Hannah and Her Sisters. You can't hear it on paper, but in the film it somehow comes across as the sweetest, cutest and moving thing. I don't know what breaking up is like, but the remedy is this quote I am sure.

3. What's the one thing (tangible or non-tangible) you most regret losing? I have no idea.

4. Are you a romantic? If so, have you ever been in love? I used to be a romantic, but now I'm more cynical for no reason (I've been watching too many movies about adultery and fizzled out romances courtesy of Woody Allen). I'm also probably not a romantic because I've never been in love...except unrequitedly for a movie or book character....hmm...

5. What's one song you can't get enough of right now? I love Bobby Caldwell's Beyond the Sea. It's nice and jazzy and breezy.

6. What's your favorite fashion accessory (other than clothes of course)? I love the hats of the 20s and 30s.

7. Tell us something about the last film you watched: Zelig. A mockumentary about a man from the late 20s who has a psychological disorder where he assumes the identity of those around him. Among other things, he achieves wide fame and ends up falling for his psychoanalyst and finally his condition becomes less of a nuisance. It's a Woody Allen treasure. <3>

Favorite movie from The Archers (alias Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger)? The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp. From the moment I heard of it I was sceptical about its appeal. Anything with the word 'colonel' sounds too military like and bland. Somehow this movie, in its glorious technicolour and great storyline, was anything but bland.

9. About how often to you post here on IMDb? Very rarely. I read other people's comments more. What can I say, I'm an observer first and participator second.

10. Coffee or Tea? Bleh, I dislike coffee (and yet I was addicted to it when I was 12, go figure), but tea is practically a staple. I drink it every morning with milk.

11. Favorite subjects? Cinema studies, Literature, Sociology-related subjects, Philosophy (which I've been really taking indirectly through Self & Other).

12. If you could be one film character for one day, who would you be? The ultimate question and yet I'm stuck. I have no definitive answer for this, so I'll have to answer with one out of a million choices. Any of Jean Arthur's characters would be great, but I'd especially like to be her Connie Milligan, no-nonsense working girl with sharp wit who's secretly yearning for romance. Why definitely.

13. What is your best and worst quality? I can't be objective about this, but at my best I'm an honest, kind, perceptive and humble person. At my worst, I'm narcisstic, insecure, unsociable and irritating/irritable. Woops, that was four qualities each, narcissicm (sp?) creeping in again.

14. What is your motto? It's simply, be happy.

15. If you could listen to one voice for the rest of your life, whose voice would it be? Charles Boyer. Sexy French accent yes.

16. If you had one superpower, what would it be? The power to be incredibly witty, now that is talent if you ask me.

17. What came first, the chicken or the egg? This question just puts me round in circles. Unanswerable.

18. Name one historical figure you find absolutely fascinating: Anne Frank. Remarkable writer, utterly complex, firm believer in good at such a time of atrocity. Her life and her diary haunt and inspire me whenever I return to them.

19. If you could live during one time or place, where would it be? Hollywood in the 30s and 40s.

20. If you could change one thing about you, what would it be? To be more productive and put some more effort into things rather than run away when the going gets tough.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

A Survey (classic-ish style)

A survey mood! I found the following one on this blog
It's classics-ish which is a bonus.

1. What is your all-time favorite Clark Gable movie?
Probably Gone with the Wind, it's Clark at his roguish charming best I say.

2. Do you like Joan Crawford best as a comedienne or a drama-queen?
Hmm, she's a great drama-queen, particularly in Mildred Pierce. But she's delightful when she's wise-cracking like say in Grand Hotel or The Women. Perhaps a tie?

3. In your opinion, should Ginger Rogers have made more musicals post-Fred Astaire?
I kind of wish she had made a couple or so with Gene Kelly...

4. I promise not to cause you bodily (or any other serious) harm if you don't agree with me on this one. So please be honest: do you like Elizabeth Taylor? Hm?
She can be quite a tour-de-force actress at times (particularly in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and Suddenly, Last Summer) and she's stunningly beautiful, so I like her for the most part.

5. Who is your favorite off screen Hollywood couple?
Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward. 50 years of marriage, I think that's wonderful. <3

6. How about onscreen Hollywood couple?
Hmm...a tie between Fred and Ginger and William Powell and Myrna Loy.

7. Favorite Jean Arthur movie?
The More the Merrier (I like Mr. Deeds Goes to Town a bit more, but I think The More The Merrier is more of Jean's film).

8. What was the first Gregory Peck movie you saw?
Roman Holiday, but I got my first glimpse of him in the court room scene in To Kill a Mockingbird. I don't think I saw how powerful a person can be on screen until that moment.

9. What film made you fall in love with Alfred Hitchcock? (And for those of you that say, "I don't like Hitchcock" -- what is wrong with you?!)
I've admired Hitchcock for a while, but it was seeing Vertigo last year that gave me a newfound appreciation for his art.

10. What is your favorite book-to-movie adaption?
Gone with the Wind.

11. Do you prefer Shirley Temple as a little girl or as a teenager?
Hmm, I haven't seen any of her films of her as a little girl, and yet that's the image of her that is most prominent in my mind.

12. Favorite character actor?
Charles Coburn.

13. Favorite Barbara Stanwyck role?
The Lady Eve, I think it's the most layered role I've seen of hers so far (I still need to make my way through most of her filmography though).

14. Who is your favorite of Cary Grant's leading ladies?
He worked terrifically with just about all of them, but I've liked him most with Kate Hepburn, Ingrid Bergman and Irene Dunne.

15. Bette Davis or Joan Crawford?
There's a truckload of movies I need to see of both, but so far Bette is a finer actress. But to give Joan credit she has quite a dazzling and dynamic screen presence.

16. What actors and/or actresses do you think are underrated?
Actors: Charles Boyer Actresses: Jean Arthur, Irene Dunne, Claudette Colbert

17. What actors and/or actresses do you think are overrated?
Not sure...I mean I know Marilyn, Audrey and James Dean are probably the most exposed of classic cinema, but their talent beneath their iconic/commodified images is much underrated outside the classic loving sphere imo.

18. Do you watch movies made pre-1980 exclusively, or do you spice up your viewing-fare with newer films?
I was kind of exclusive for a while, but spicing it up is good and allows me to appreciate a wider ranger of films.

19. Is there an actor/actress who you have seen in a film and immediately loved? If so, who?
Maybe Rosalind Russell. When I saw her in His Girl Friday I immediately thought that was one of the best performances an actress could have the opportunity to give.
Also Humphrey Bogart. I saw him in Sabrina and felt I knew immediately he was a good actor.

20. Gene Kelly or Fred Astaire?
Fred Astaire for me.

21. Favorite Ginger Rogers drama?
I recently saw her in Romance in Manhattan and thought she was so touching in there, particularly when faced with the moment where her brother was to be taken to an orphanage. It's a good depression era film and Ginger excels as the struggling working class girl.

22. If you wrote a screenplay, who would be in your dream cast and what roles would they play? (Mixing actors and actresses from different generations is allowed: any person from any point in their career.)
There are probably trillions of 'if only' pictures I could imagine (though strangely they're not coming to me now), but here's one: Fred Astaire, Gene Kelly and Ginger Rogers. The plot would probably be a recycled love triangle one that allows the two leading men to dance with Ginger and then for there to be a nice number at the end where they all come together to dance (something like the near end of Broadway Melody of 1940). It would be made in the early to mid 40s, shot in colour, produced by Arthur Freed and perhaps directed by Vincente Minelli.

23. Favorite actress?
Audrey Hepburn, though she might be more my favourite all round humanitarian and role-model.

25. Favorite actor?
Humphrey Bogart.

26. And now, the last question. What is your favorite movie from each of these genres:

Drama: Bonnie and Clyde

Romance: A Matter of Life and Death

Musical: Top Hat

Comedy: The More the Merrier

Western: Shane

Hitchcock (he has a genre all to himself): Vertigo

Blue Skies Turn to Grey

I'm not supposed to have much free time right now (not with my last essay of the semester hanging in the air and upcoming exams trailing not far behind), but I'm so pooped this evening or night. Blogging sounds like a good diversion.

But then we get to this pressing question: What to write about this time? I was going to write about film highlights I've had lately, but as it turns out, there has been really only one standout film I've seen since New York New York.

A back-story: Two or so weeks ago, on a Sunday night when I should have been researching for a French debate (which wasn't so crash hot in the end, but I digress), I chose instead to embark on a three hour filmic journey. It was something I had eagerly wanted to watch ever since a) I found out it was a good film and b) I grew really interested in the actress Jennifer Jones.

I mentioned the film's length, 3 hours, and on average such a length can give me pains and an incessant looking over at the time. Heck, even a one hour and a half film can have the same effect. But this film -- and I've neglected to give its title, Since You Went Away (1944) -- stood faithfully by rule number one "Thou shalt not bore". It was an engaging treat, combining interesting storylines with interesting characters.

The film circles around the Hilton family, who has recently had to separate from their husband/father who went to war (the second world war to be specific). And so we get a picture of what this war was like for those on the home front. We see this family feel that slightly bit emptier and then pick themselves up and do what they can for both the war effort and for their personal happiness. It's a bumpy ride for them, since they encounter happiness, then sadness, death, and then hope. And so you get this homely atmosphere, perhaps a little sweet and sentimental, but all the same their journey is genuinely touching. You want them to have all the happiness they could get really.

I can't quite explain it in minute detail, but this film was a treasure. There's something both slightly ominous and then sparkling about it. It never wants to be completely depressing nor completely light and make something frivolous out of war, so it straddles between the middle line and the result can be a sort of bitter and sweet combination.

All the main actors do a top notch job, but there were two that particularly stood out for me. There's Monty Wooley who plays a sort of war veteran (if I'm correct) who stays at the Hilton family's house because of housing shortages. He starts off kind of grumpy and keeps to himself, but gradually you find he has endearing qualities. He doesn't exactly have the most screen time, but he's a character who adds something to the atmosphere and whose presence gradually becomes familiar and more potent as you progess to the end.

Then there's the tour-de-force that is Claudette Colbert. I've seen four of her films and she's not one to disappoint. It isn't that she does something dramatic and dynamic with her role, it's really how she subtly underplays and remains the constant source of strength of the film. She plays the mother role and she's the kind of warm, understanding and capable mother one would like to have. She displays the range of her talent in this film, showing why she is one of the best comediennes of the 30s and 40s during the lighter moments. She's equally good in the more dramatic moments, displaying well her emptiness and struggles in the absence of her husband.

The cast is pretty much what is called an all star cast. You have:

- the aforementioned Jennifer Jones as the older sister, who matures from naive teenager to someone who learns what it's like to deeply love and then to lose that loved one,

- Shirley Temple (yes, the cute curly blonde Depression star with the addition of a few years) as the younger sister, who's as chatty and chirpy as any younger sibling is known to be,

- Joseph Cotten as the charming and cheeky-ish dear family friend,

- Robert Walker as Jones' love interest (curiously, and perhaps painfully, Walker and Jones were once married in real life, and were pretty much estranged during the production of this film. In an arguably cruel twist, David O. Selznick --producer and lover of Jones at the time--decided to make them the estranged couple love interests in the film. I think the chemistry is there in the film, but it's almost unsettling to watch with the above knowledge),

- Hattie McDaniel, as the Hilton's servant and dear friend is as warm and engaging as always,

- and in a great, deliciously catty role is Agnes Moorehead, portraying an irritable character to perfection.

So that's that. This is a great film. I think it would fit perfectly on a double billing with 'The Best Years of Our Lives' to show classic Hollywood's representations of the during and after effects of war. An idea for future curating?

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Change Your Mind {Jane Eyre part deux}

True to my fashion, I've decided to go blogging on the night before my French debate. I should really be preparing my heart out, but no, I have something 'important' to say.

Two entries ago I wrote a positively gushing love note to what was one of my favourite books of all time 'Jane Eyre'. And all was going well until my Literature tutorial last week. And unforuntately I can't look at that novel the same. Now it seems bizarre, contradictory and not quite the celebration of women's rights I once saw (because why does Jane keep insisting on calling Rochester 'my master'. Sure I could once bypass this and even mentally erase it, but not anymore).

Plus, why does the book end with Jane pondering on St. John Rivers, the guy she declined to marry? Is she not happy with Rochester? Suddenly the love she must have felt for him somewhere in the middle of the novel feels like it deteriorated at the end. And did Rochester ever really love her? After all he was planning on making her his mistress. Right now to me he seems predator-like and only wanting selfish desires out of the relationship. By the time he's blind and a shadow of his former life, it feels like he's more happy that he's got someone, and someone who loves him than because he loves her.

Well it's still an intriguing book, but it's not quite the same wildly romantic read it once was. Now I only have cynical lens when I approach it. But upon reflection, that's not so bad. I've gotten an alternative reading out of it, sure, but maybe it's more intriguing and dark this way.

But yes, by a general rule, it's best to steer clear of literature subjects that feature your favourite novels on their reading lists. If you have a malleable perspective like me, you're bound to never look at the novel in quite the same beloved way.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

A Review : New York, New York (1977)

Hmm, I'm not sure how easy it's going to be to review this film. I want to try and balance the good aspects with the not so good. I'll see how it goes.

This film is, for one, quite long. Apparently the original was four and a half hours long so director Martin Scorsese had to cut it. Well it went through a series of cuts and then a restoration of extra material, before finally standing at 163 minutes. How did I bare it? I rarely noticed the length, such is the engagement I had with the film.

But engagement doesn't necessarily equal a flawless film experience. I did have issues with the film, mostly because it doesn't move in a typical, familiar way. It's not simply a musical, nor simply a dramatic love story nor simply a comedy (because actually a lot of it is comedic, sometimes awkwardly so--deliberatly I think). It aims to be all and then to transcend genres and be something else.

The film could be what you may call a homage to those technicolour musicals of the 40s and 50s. It has some of the most beautiful colours swirled together and you can just tell that the scenes are taking place on lush, romanticised sets that probably bear little resemblance to New York as it actually was. But at the same time the film wants to express truth and it does this through Liza Minelli (as Francine Evans) and Robert De Niro's (as Jimmy Doyle) tumultous relationship. There's a certain tension between the artifice and the attempted reality of emotions, and I'm not sure if it works. However, I will admit that this tension adds a certain poignancy to the film (it is somewhat reminescent of watching the 1954 version of A Star is Born, starring none other than Liza's mother, Judy Garland).

Another tidbit is the seeming bipolarity (a word?) within the film. It goes through certain hyperactive moments and tries to balance this with more subdued, tender scenes. I'm not sure, but this could partly be because of the following trivia: both Scorsese and Minelli have stated that the dialogue was mostly improvised (though taking cues from the script) to add to the seeming reality of the main characters' relationship. Apparently it was hard to edit these improvisations and still make the film seem like seamless viewing. And so it feels apparent in the film, for when I examine the film as a whole I get some points of disjointedness. But again, I can somehow rebut this by saying that the film becomes truer to real life this way. Sure, we love a flawless film, but they aren't life. If we were to review our lives as a film we wouldn't get such a seamlessness. This is where, as a film New York, New York has room for improvement, but as a piece of reality, it works much better. Interesting that it can become this within the bounds of a lavishly photographed film.

So it turns out that when I get to the bottom of things, the above mentioned aspects of the film don't bother me much at all; they're simply passing observations. Perhaps the uneasiness I really have with the film is Robert De Niro's performance. I'm sure it's written in his character to be a tryhard Joe Cool and to be at times overbearing, arrogant and chauvinistic. However, there were times when I found him to be overdoing it. Maybe this is a feminist's perspective, but one has to ask what Liza's Francine really saw in De Niro's Jimmy. But then it got me thinking that indeed he does have a bit of charm and when he's tender and subdued, he's very likeable. Plus, he's a talented saxophone player which somewhat gels with her singing skills.

And I suppose there's this: in filmdom fantasy, only the most perfect man will do for the heroine. He's got to be effortlessly funny like Cary Grant and never be overbearing. And yet, often as he does, De Niro is attempting here to portray a person, not a movie-star persona. However, unlikeable he can be in this role (sometimes hamming it up), he's being that much more truer to life. In life, nothing moves smoothly, nobody has quite the right lines like in the perfect comedy; and nobody has the right things to say in painful scenes.

And actually I can't deny that there are some scenes where De Niro really excels (in that, rather than getting choppy moments of overacting, you're getting a more complete character), and you feel all at once that he's fading into the background, that he's quite not so successful without Francine. That underneath the Joe Cool act there's a bit of self-loathing. No it's not likely the performance that is going to make it into the top De Niro performances list, but it deserves to be looked at for both its flaws and triumphs.

I think Liza's Francine comes across as much more sympathetic. Her character development is less jagged than De Niro's and we can gradually see her move from wall-flower-ish singer to confident star. She has a notable naturalistic acting (perhaps helped by the improvisations) and her emotion-charged scenes work well. On a somewhat more aesthetic note, she looks quite stunning in the film. I also want to bring attention to her big eyes that are particularly haunting in one close-up scene. Her singing moments are also note-worthy for being in turns entertaining and poignant.

Just by writing this review, I'm starting to see something very special in New York, New York. It's an interesting, bumpy experience (just like Francine and Jimmy's relationship). It made me laugh, cringe, feel uneasy and all the while my eyes received such a treat through the cinematography and art design. An intriguing blend of a film that somehow transports you back to post-war 40s through a 1970s Scorsese lens.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

"Reader, I married him"

I'm re-reading Jane Eyre for Literature and falling in love with it again. It's my 'it had to be you' book (for all your faults/I love you still) because it is in fact flawed, yet it still retains something special. Jane Eyre, with all her plainness and quietness, is an intriguing character. She's observant and acutely aware of things that nobody else cares to see. Rochester (move over Cullen, this is the real Edward) is incredibly questionable in his morals and his treatment of Jane, yet she gets him--even if a lot of readers don't--and he happens to be just as observant as she, however immersed in his troubles he may be. And for the record, it never detracted from the book that Bronte's main characters happen to be 'ugly'. Maybe because I always reached the conclusion that:
a) they're not that 'ugly', they're unconventional
b) whatever the case, they have attractive qualities that speak louder than exterior appearances

Anyway, I just wanted to put on this blog a powerful passage (courtesy of Charlotte Bronte's moments of inspired poetry) about Jane 'getting' Rochester, while simultaneously revealing the hidden, profound love she fosters for him.

I saw Rochester smile - his stern features softened; his eye grew both brilliant and gentle, its ray both searching and sweet. He was talking, at the moment, to Louisa and Amy Eshton. I wondered to see them receive with calm that look which seemed to me so penetrating; I expected their eyes to fall, their colour to rise under it; yet I was glad when I found they were in no sense moved. 'He is not to them what he is to me,' I thought: 'he is not of their kind. I believe he is of mine - I am sure he is - I feel akin to him - I understand the language of his counteance and movements: though rank and wealth sever us widely, I have something in my brain and in my heart, in my blood and nerves, that assimilates me mentally to him.


[I'm still waiting for the perfect film companion to the book, though the 2006 BBC version was pretty good. I think Rochester is not too difficult to capture on screen, he's naturally a fascinating and engaging character. What's harder is to capture Jane Eyre without making her dull or submissive, and also not to increase her age--she never quite looks eighteen in the film versions. But Ruth Wilson in the aforementioned BBC version was pretty good...gosh I gotta watch that again...]

In other news, I found out via email that one of the dvds I requested of the city library to purchase has come through and it's ready for me to borrow. I say, Christmas has come early. Why? Because this is not any film, it's Martin Scorsese's sole musical feature (as far as I know), called none other than 'New York, New York' (with that famous theme song). Liza Minelli and Robert De Niro? It's sure going to be one of the most intriguing pairings I've seen.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

30s and 40s : Glitz, Glamour, Drama, Humour, Wonder

I've had a really good run of films lately, and they've been mostly from the 30s, early 40s (I'm going back to my classic roots). Here are some little summaries from the best of the bunch:

Come Live With Me (1941) - Hedy Lamarr and James Stewart make an interesting couple. She's foreign and has a raven beauty (well she was dubbed the most beautiful woman in Hollywood) and he's the everyman. But they make it work. The film has some comedy and clever lines, but at heart it's a (albeit light) love story. It has some nice cinematography (particularly when considering these films were usually made on the studio lot) and nice performances (I've seen one other Hedy film, Ziegfeld Girl, and she was unfortunately cardboard bland in it. But in this film she is much comfortable and engaging). Overall a very enjoyable film.

It's a Wonderful World (1939) - Another Jimmy Stewart film, and this time he's paired with Claudette Colbert (one of the fine comediennes of the 30s imo). Again, they're not the couple you'd expect to be paired up, but they work fine. There's a particular scene where Colbert's character has to get up on Stewart's back (this is a screwball comedy so it's to be expected) so she can get apples from the tree. The processes of this action and its results show a real naturalness between the actors and great comedic timing from both. The rest of the film is great lighthearted fun and was much more enjoyable than I was expecting (since it's not talked much of, I naturally thought it wasn't good).

My Best Girl (1927) - This was my first Mary Pickford film and it didn't disappoint. The fascinating thing about Mary was that she was quite young looking and played ingenues even when she was well passed thirty (as she is in this picture). She was also short and petite and cute, which I guess helps. Here she was teamed with a younger man, Charles 'Buddy' Rogers (just about the cutest, baby-faced looking guy in silent filmdom), who would later become her husband. It's no surprise I say because they have quite good chemistry in this. There's such a lovely boy/girl cuteness between them, but also tenderness in one particular close-up scene. The film is on a whole pretty funny and very lovely, capturing a sweetness that only other silent films of its kind can capture.

The Barretts of Wimpole Street (1934) - I'm generally a sucker for period romantic films, but I'll admit that they're not always well made. That said, this one is wonderful. I think it might be because the romance is not overbearing (nor under utilised), and also the heroine is a fascinating character. I've never cared much for Norma Shearer (I've only seen her in The Women, where she played arguably the dull character amongst show-stoppers), but watching this has made me re-examine her. I don't know if she was Oscar-nominated [edit: she was nominated, yay], but she should have been. The story itself is fascinating. It's about the poet Elizabeth Barrett's life around the time that she met and fell in love with Robert Browning (played by the handsome Fredric March, though his performance was a little over the top, or maybe that's how Browning was?). They have one obstacle, her overbearing and possessive father (played to perfection by Charles Laughton) who doesn't want his children to marry. The film is a winner for me.

Romance in Manhattan (1935) - I've seen about five (now six with this new inclusion) of Ginger Roger's films sans Fred Astaire, and each of them have given me a different outlook on her. As it is, different co-stars and settings can bring a different dynamic to an actor's performance. In this film, Ginger still keeps up her 30s, no-nonsense, yet wise-cracking working class girl persona, but she brings something a little varied to the plate. This time she has to deal with the Great Depression (it was also an issue in Swing Time, but somehow there wasn't a doubt she'd pull through financially). I don't know if Romance in Manhattan is classified as a comedy, but it's through-and-through drama for me with a side-dish of smiles. Ginger is great as the struggling working girl who has to find a way to prevent both her brother from going to an orphanage and her newfound Czechoslovakian lover (Francis Lederer, also very good and sympathetic in this) from being deported. Up until that final reel I still didn't know if the ending would be happy or not (though, alas, the ending is happy--perhaps wishfulfillment happy, but I'm not complaining; it would otherwise have been a painful film).

I Love You Again (1940) - I just watched this one today and boy, William Powell and Myrna Loy can do no wrong when they're together. Now this is the screen couple upon which all others are measured. In my opinion, nobody quite has the believability that they do. Their chemistry is mostly known for its comedic qualities, but blended in this comedy is much affection and a dash of romance. In their own rights they are fine actors and they make this film possible, which would otherwise probably not work (the plot is slightly absurd and the comedy could easily have been uninteresting and unfunny if actors with less enjoyment and dedication to their work had been on board). That said, the plot does run smoothly and this film is very funny and has meaning. Powell and Loy are wonderful, unique talents.


Up-lifting music

I've been listening to some ace music and watching some ace films lately, but I haven't been doing that dreaded two-part word that will be addressed here only as 'hw'. Yes, I have two essays due in on Wednesday (which means I still have three days and whatever is left of this day, but still I also have classes on those days too, so I really don't have much time). The best break from stressing would be to actually do the work, but no, I'll take blogging instead.

I saw Up (2009), the latest Pixar wonder last week and I loved it. Films of its calibre are just peerless. Before they come along, you feel like you've seen the height of filmmaking. And then you watch this superior film and you realise that filmmaking has no limits. Up has what I call the perfect blend, and that is of comedy and drama (which--as Jack Lemmon said and probably Charlie Chaplin affirmed this--is what life is about). Watching it, I laughed hard (to the point of tears) and I felt sad and inspired (to the point of tears). And I generally don't expect animations to make me feel the sort of emotions I expect from live-action films. And yet Pixar's Up does what even live-action doesn't. It's so balanced that it never feels cheesy, nor too silly. And all the while it has meaning.

One wonderful thing about Up is its soundtrack. My particular favourite song is 'Married Life' and it has everything -- happiness, sadness, excitement, quietness. And on top of that it has this nostalgic, 30s/40s feel to it that makes me happy. I made a tribute video set to it just recently, of classic film marriages (what else?). I'll probably post it on yt later in the week.

I also found out that my favourite scene in 17 Again is set to the Cat Power song 'The Greatest' and I realise that half the emotion of the scene is directly from the song. I've been listening to it frequently, but such incessant listening has worn off the impact of the song. Oh well, it's still lovely.

And then...I've heard of Sarah Blasko for a while now. She's apparently one of those quiet achievers who slip under the cover if you're not paying enough attention. She's got a nice, indie, mellow voice (the kind that's pretty popular now). I really like the songs 'Planet New Year' and 'Perfect Now'.

That's all for the moment.