Sunday, January 30, 2011

True Fighter Animal Inception – And Oscar Nominations!

My movie watching has slowed down a bit since my last Oscar Snob 2011 update. But I have managed to get four more movies checked off my list. Also, since the official Oscar Nominations have been announced, I thought it was really time for an update. If you would like to read more about my Oscar Snob 2011 mission…read my original post. To keep track of my progress…click on the link at the top of the page!

The other weekend I buckled down and went to see True Grit. I didn’t think I would enjoy this movie at all and was dreading it being on my list. Based on the trailers I had seen I just imagined this crazy action western flick which just isn’t my type of movie. To my surprise, I liked it a lot more than I expected. It had less action and was more focused on the story of a girl who chased after the man who killed her father. I think Jeff Bridges and Hailee Steinfeld were GREAT and so was Matt Damon. The acting was great. And while I did like this movie more than I thought I would, I don’t think I like it enough for it to win Best Picture. Personally I don’t the story was strong/unique enough for it to win that sort of award. But I have to say I’m glad I gave it a chance. Its appeal surprised me…but that also sort of makes me wonder who designed the trailers…I don’t think they were that accurate of a portrayal of what the movie as a whole is like.

Inception Poster
That next week Inception came in the mail from Netflix. This summer I purposefully avoided this action flick, as my friend Sam and my family can attest to. But when it was put on the EW list I figured I had to break down and watch it. The concept behind this film was interesting…but the movie as a whole didn’t sit that well with me. Some of the “rules” surrounding the dreams felt like they were made on the fly for convenience. I also thought all the action in the movie was a bit unnecessary. I think it probably got some people to the theaters….but I feel like there could have been a compelling story without ALL of the gunfire. It just seemed a bit overkill to me. All in all it was an interesting concept and film…it was alright…but I’m not sure I agree with everyone who raves about it.

Animal Kingdom Poster
My next Netflix movie was the Australian film Animal Kingdom. I hadn’t heard much about this film or seen any trailers so all I had to go on was the Netflix description. I thought it sounded interesting: A 17 year old’s mother dies and he gets caught up in a crime family while a detective attempts to help him get out. I actually thought it sounded interesting but I have to say I was a bit disappointed. I had a hard time staying interested…it seemed like the whole movie was whispered in pretty thick Aussie accents and the kid was just so….quiet/meh….you just wanted to shake him (not acting wise…character wise). I think the story had potential to be more interesting and keep my attention more than it did. Sometimes I felt a bit lost as to what some of them were really talking about or thinking. Maybe I just wish there was a little more “umph” in the film…and maybe less frustration….and maybe that doesn’t make sense…but if you watch you might see what I mean.

The Fighter Poster
Today I went out to see a matinee of The Fighter. This was another movie that I wasn’t super excited to see because I don’t tend to enjoy boxing movies (or the sport really…sort of bores me…and also seems really REALLY painful). Anyway I have to say I was pleasantly surprised by this film. The main part of the story I think started a bit slow and I didn’t really see how it was going to be different than the same old: underdog fighter starts overcoming obstacles and comes from behind to accomplish his dreams. But without spoiling a surprise of the movie…the twist I think does make it interesting. And it takes a little bit to sort of understand why the story is so special. Its one of those movies I sort of want to go back and watch again from an “all knowing” perspective. I think the actors did a wonderful job and I really enjoyed the way the movie was shot. I don’t know what its called but it wasn’t glamorous and perfect….on purpose….felt more genuine for this movie. Overall it’s a pretty good movie that I enjoyed more than I thought. (I have to admit that I really enjoy Amy Adams’ acting so that might have swayed me a bit haha).

Oscar Nominations!
So this past Tuesday the official Oscar Nominations were announced. You can see the complete list here. I am very excited to say that I have now seen 7 of the 10 films nominated for Best Picture! As of now I’m rooting for The King’s Speech to win Best Picture. But keep in mind…I haven’t seen The Social Network yet…and I hear that it is really good. I also still am rooting for Colin Firth and Natalie Portman for Best Actor/Actress. So far with those two I have been correct in that they won both the Golden Globes and the SAG Awards! Also, I think for the first time ever…while watching the SAG Awards tonight I had seen every movie for which the Best Supporting Actresses were nominated….I was really excited! Soooo I think my Oscar Snob 2011 Mission is succeeding…even if I don’t wind up being able to see them all!

I recently made plans to be home in NJ for a family party over the weekend of the Oscars so I will be watching the big show with my family…maybe we can have a Movie Themed Charades Party like my favorite Modern Family!

UPDATE: I am sorry that the pictures (movie posters) from this entry seem to be broken...I'm having trouble fixing it but I'm working on it. 

Also, I don't think I can stop watching the MF clip above hahaha "Cloudy with da chance of da meatballs!"

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Obsession Confession: Calendars

Every year around November I start getting really excited. It’s the time of year when the bookstores start pushing the next year’s calendars. It’s the time of year when that temporary calendar store in the mall opens up! (Or at least it’s the time of year that I really notice these things). I love seeing what new calendars are coming out. I start thinking about which calendars (yes plural) I want to buy and enjoy over the next year.

My name is Laura and I’m obsessed with calendars. Page-a-day calendars to be precise.

The excitement builds for me because I make myself wait until January 1 when they immediately go on sale for 50% off. But January 1 is the limit for my waiting for two reasons:

1) All the good calendars go fast!
2) I just can’t wait too long into the year for my new calendars!

Anyway, I’m finding that in the past few years, the good calendars are going faster and faster :-/. I may have to break down and buy one before the new year next year if I see one that I REALLY want. This year…I was excited by a few, but there weren’t any that I was specifically looking forward to. But of course, as soon as I got back to DC after the new year…I ran out to find my calendars!

Now I was all set with my wall calendars. I got two for Christmas. Both happened to be from my lovely sister Linda, although one (the Darts) was via our cousin grab bag!

Modern Family Wall Calendar 2011Darts! Calendar 2011

The Modern Family Calendar is on my cube wall at work and I LOVE it! It has a page for all the adult characters and couples with some of their funniest lines! And by the way, if you don’t watch Modern Family, you should! It’s a really great mockumentary sitcom! And you don’t need to watch it in order to understand what is going on. Each episode pretty much stands by itself! I think its my favorite show on TV right now! (I have Season 1 if anyone wants to borrow it!)

The Darts! Calendar looks like tons of fun. Each page is a new type of dart board with different targets to try to hit with the magnetic darts that come with it! I have the perfect place on my wall for this calendar…..but I accidentally left it in NJ. I will be sure to hang it as soon as my mom mails it to me (or I get home to retrieve it). Sorrrrrry Linda!

Very happy with my wall calendars, my first trip to the bookstore I was looking for page-a-day calendars. In the past I have been drawn to puzzle calendars such as Sudoku or Scrabble word puzzles. However I always remember how I fall behind and save the puzzles to do later and then the pages pile up. I also usually like the ones that are activity based...I was given an origami calendar one year and was really excited about it. But then it turns out I either wanted to save the cool origami, or save the patterns that I wanted to try later…and then found I was saving things that I really didn’t need. (Don’t worry I’m not a hoarder…I have since thrown them all away).

Because I know of my page-a-day saving habits, I decided not to allow myself to get a calendar I would be tempted to save something from….or calendars that required a lot of puzzle thought because I’d save those to do later too. This meant that I was sort of limited…to cartoons…or daily advice/tips/jokes…or maybe a daily picture?

I was fine going in looking for cartoons. Personally I got into page-a-day calendars with The Far Side calendar. I used to get that calendar each year…until they stopped publishing it. I have gotten other “fun” calendars since then…but I was ready to try a new daily cartoon.

I found these two calendars and brought them to work:
Argyle Sweater: 2011 Day-to-Day Calendar   Dog Cartoon-a-Day: 2011 Day-to-Day Calendar

I thought I might enjoy The Argyle Sweater because it’s a single frame cartoon much like The Far Side. The Dog Cartoon-A-Day choice I thought I might appreciate being a dog owner myself. But I have to tell you…as the days went by…I wasn’t all that pleased with either of these calendars. The dog calendar isn’t too bad (not great) but I was pretty disappointed in particular with The Argyle Sweater. Maybe its my sense of humor…but it is just not nearly as funny to me as The Far Side. Long story short, my calendar addiction this year was not satisfied…I soon found myself in back on the hunt!

Last week my friend Shirin and I went to see The Black Swan. We had some time before the movie and there was a bookstore so of course I had to go check out the calendars. I found two calendars that I really liked. One I had passed up before, and one that I hadn’t seen at all yet. And while they both broke some of my earlier rules, with my lack of success with the cartoon calendars, I allowed myself to break them.

The first:

Tangram Magnetic Puzzle-a-Day Calendar
Tangram Magnet Puzzle-a-Day Calendar: 2011 Day-to-Day Calendar
With this calendar, I broke the rule of no hard puzzle type calendars because I will get behind and want to save them for later. I decided to break this rule because I came to realize, I missed the puzzles. This is also an easy puzzle to take random quick breaks to solve. (Unlike a word puzzle or sudoku where you don’t want to loose your train of thought). I also thought it was really neat that there was a magnetic board to stick back a few pages and you can do the puzzle right on the calendar! Since having it about a week I have to say that this is one of my favorite calendars that I’ve had. I don’t spend TONS of time on the puzzles, and there are a nice variety of colors and difficulties. I also think it might be a fun set of magnets to have at the end of the year to play with in my cube! A+

The next:

Sewing CalendarSewing: 2011 Day-to-Day Calendar
I hadn’t seen this calendar during any of my previous calendar hunting. But I have been getting into sewing with my new machine and I thought it might be fun to see new cute projects to try throughout the year. It broke one of my rules in that I know I will be tempted to save the projects in this calendar to try later. But the great thing about this calendar is that its one page every 3 days. It feels more like a cute sewing book that I bought myself than a calendar. Its not like silly origami instructions that I wanted to attempt…these could be potential gifts! I promised myself I’d try to get myself to toss the ones that I know I probably won’t ever make. I’m really pleased with this calendar and I think it was the perfect choice for my desk at home! A+

To be honest…I decided to look up the 2010 version of this calendar on  Amazon. I thought maybe if it was really cheap…ya know because its way out of date…I’d buy it to look through for other projects (hoping that they wouldn’t repeat a lot year to year). Turns out….this calendar gains value as the year increases…its so unbelieveable…check the price out for yourself! Here is the link: 2010 Sewing Calendar (and be sure to click on the link for the 8 used ones to check those prices out too hahaha) UNREAL RIGHT???

I failed to mention that I have two work pay period calendars on my desk wall at work, I have my work email calendar for work meetings, and I like to keep my Google Calendar up to date (because I can access it on my phone)…..soooo that brings me to a total of 10 calendars???? Yea I might have a problem….but ya know I don’t typically have THAT many calendars. I sort of feel like giving myself too the rules to follow lead me to two calendar duds… year I’ll keep the rough rules in mind….but I’ll let myself get the calendars I feel drawn to as well.

Does anyone else have a calendar problem like me? Anyone have any great calendars this year to recommend? Anyone a fan of The Far Side and know of a good replacement cartoon? Just want to comment on the prices of the old Sewing Calendars?? Leave me some fun comments!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The King’s Black Dragon Tattoo is All Right

Last week I announced the beginning of my Mission Oscar Snob 2011. You may have noticed that on my saved list, I have made a LOT of progress this week! So I thought it was time for an update and thoughts on some of the possible Oscar worthy films this year (all according to EW of course). Here are the movies I’ve seen and a few quick thoughts on each (no spoilers I promise!). The titles of the movies have links to their trailers! I will also share the number of Star  I intend to give it on Netflix….here is the code:

Star Hated it!
StarStar Didn’t like it.
StarStarStar Liked it.
StarStarStarStar Really liked it.
StarStarStarStarStar Loved it!

(NOTE: I apologize for the crazy spacing in this post...Its not me...when I use Blogger (or even use Live Writer) its impossible to predict how the spacing turns out when I press the publish button for a post....and then gets worse when I try to fix it....I am working on this)

I started the week by renting The Kids are All Right. I really liked this movie but it was and wasn’t what I expected at the same time. I think I expected a bit more comedy…but with the way the plot worked I think the amount was perfect. There were challenging moments for the characters that I wasn’t expecting….and points in the plot that weren’t quite as bumpy as I was expecting. Knowing the main couple were lesbians raising kids, I expected them to want to break some stereotypes, and they did, but not in the obvious ways. It also pushes some boundaries and makes you realize that no matter how open minded you might be, its possible to subconsciously expect different things from a non “traditional” couple. All in all I think it’s a good movie that’s worth seeing.

The next day I went to see The King’s Speech with my friends Liz, Lauren, & Danielle! I was really looking forward to this movie because I LOVE Colin Firth (he is sort of my older actor crush). It did not disappoint! I think this drama had a great balance of touching realness and comic relief. It was very interesting to see that point in history how radio was changing the relationship between the Royal Family and their subjects. Its kind of cool that this is a true story as well. I loved the character of Bertie, and watching him as he learns his own strength. By the end if the movie you could really feel for him and your are holding your breath with the rest of the characters to see if he can successfully conquer his stammer! I really thought it was a fascinating story and I would recommend this film! I think so far I’m on Team Firth for best actor (and maybe even Team Rush for supporting)!

My next movie adventure was streaming the foreign film The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. Now I have to admit, I may have missed parts of this movie. It is a pretty long movie…and having to read subtitles the entire time I think wore on my eyes and I started to doze. So I revisited the next day and was doing a few necessary chores while I was watching….so I am sure I missed a few lines. That being said…I thought it was a really cool crime movie and it made me excited for the US version of this film (which I think is being filmed right now). I was confused about a few things but I could sort of tell it was because I must have missed something. But in general it was a cool mystery with an interesting resolution. If you are going to watch this film though, be warmed that there are some scenes that are quite shocking/graphic. I thought it was good. I think I’ll like it better when its not so easy for me to miss a few important moments. If I spoke Swedish…it would probably have another star (is that bad? Its just that subtitles take a lot of effort!). 

Last night my friend Shirin and I went to go see Natalie Portman in Black Swan. WOW this movie is INTENSE! A lot of people who like scary movies say “no this movie isn’t scary…it’s a psychological thriller!” They are correct….but for those that don’t LOVE scary movies… definitely has its creepy/scary moments…I have to say it is a film that emotionally exhausts you…and makes you think…a lot. But let me tell you Natalie Portman did an AMAZING job and is definitely my personal front runner for Best Actress. Mila Kunis did a really good job herself. Be prepared for some freaky and also raunchy scenes in this film. I personally think it was really good. Definitely something I’d have to be in the mood to watch again though.

Today my next Netflix movie arrived in the mail: How to Train Your Dragon. This movie surprised me a lot. Based on catching the joke glimpses in trailers and with a title that seems sort of….ummm…silly? (Not sure that’s the word I’m looking for)…it really didn’t seem like it was going to be that great of a plot/story. But honestly it was a really sweet movie. Milo even was entertained by a few scenes. And to be honest the relationship between the boy Hiccup and his found dragon Toothless reminded me a lot of the really cute moments in my relationship with Milo! And Mom & Dad…did you know Craig Ferguson was a voice in this film!?!?! It was a cute movie with a nice plot, good characters, and a few nice messages. I sort of wish it had a better title but I guess I don't really have any good suggestions either. I would recommend it and I can see why it could be in Oscar contention (although I think Toy Story 3 is the animated front runner). This gets 4 stars from me!

That’s all for now! I don’t think I’ll have this productive of a week again…but I’ll be sure to keep everyone posted as I see more films! And remember you can always keep track of my progress here!

Has anyone seen any of these movies? Have comments on them? Agree/Disagree? Want to see them??  Let me know in the comments!!