Recap: 1 March 2009

Was a bit blogged out after churning out my Oscar predictions, but I’m back now (for the two or three of you who may have missed me). 🙂

What I Watched

  • Changeling (4 stars): I think it’s easy for a lot of people to forget exactly how talented an actress Angelina Jolie is. She’s the rare sort of person who actually suffers from being strikingly beautiful. While the woman she plays in Changeling is just as beautiful, she’s so different (in the beginning) from the type of woman I consider Jolie to be: she’s timid, oppressed, plays by the rules, etc. And Jolie is utterly convincing. Her Oscar nomination for this role was well-deserved. The rest of the movie holds up well, too, so it’s worth seeing even if you’re not generally an Angelina fan.
  • An Ideal Husband (3 stars): Not as good as director Oliver Parker’s adaptation of The Importance of Being Earnest, but still generally amusing. I’d recommend reading the play over seeing the movie, though.
  • Frozen River (3½ stars): This is the story of a woman willing to do just about anything to provide for her family. Melissa Leo was nominated for an Oscar for her performance and understandably so. The film was an eye-opening look at both immigration and Native American territories and their relationship with the U.S. law enforcement. It’s not an issues movie, but it does open your eyes to some issues without preaching, all through the lens of two women trying to make the best of the cards dealt them.
  • La Maison en petits cubes (4 stars): This year’s Oscar winner for Best Animated Short. Melancholy story with a sweet ending. Creative animation. Viewable online, too: Part 1 and Part 2.
  • Oktapodi (3 stars): An Oscar nominee for Best Animated Short. It’s a cute story about two octopi fighting for their love, more or less. I actually enjoyed this more than “La Maison,” but it’s not groundbreaking. View it here.
  • Lavatory Lovestory (3 stars): Another Oscar nominee for Best Animated Short. Simple but sweet story of a woman trying to find out who her secret admirer is. View it here.
  • The Professional (5 stars): Fantastic movie, written and directed by Luc Besson, starring a very young and exceptionally adorable Natalie Portman. The story of a hitman who takes on a girl whose family is murdered by corrupt law enforcement officers. Sounds a bit dreary, I know, but it’s actually quite amusing throughout. Highly recommended.
  • Dumplings (3 stars): Part of “Three… Extremes,” a compilation of three short films by different Asian directors. Not really my thing, but my friend Matt said it reminded him vaguely of the script I’m working on, so I checked it out. It was certainly interesting, especially from a film studies perspective in the manner of how different cultures communicate. Definitely not for the faint of heart, though.
  • Starz Inside: Fantastic Flesh (4 stars): Really interesting documentary on film make-up interviewing some of the pioneers and best known artists in the field. It covered range of films, from classic horror to modern fantasy.
  • Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason (3 stars): Not nearly as good as the first one, but still enjoyable. The story was a little bit more out there, which took away from the movie, I think, but that’s OK. It’s Colin Firth and Hugh Grant. I’m not going to complain.
  • That Funny Feeling (2½ stars): Bobby Darin and Sandra Dee star in this fairly typical rom-com. If you’re in the mood for Bobby & Sandra, I’d go with If a Man Answers instead. This had some laughs but was otherwise pretty weak.
  • Sita Sings the Blues (4 stars): I’ve been hearing about this for what seems like ages, and it’s now available to view in its entirety here. I’m not even sure how to begin describing this animated film. It tells the story of both Sita and Nina, one a goddess separated from her Lord and husband, the other an modern-day animator shunned by her husband via e-mail. It’s narrated off the cuff by three shadow puppets. And on top of all this, Sita sings out her emotions in the voice of ’20s jazz singer Annette Hanshaw. It really shouldn’t work, but somehow, it all manages to come together to create something pretty charming.
  • When Did You Last See Your Father? (3½ stars): The story of a man seeking to reconcile his feelings about his dying father. Great performances and a touching story about how neither life nor people are perfect.

What I Read

I finished reading Persepolis, an autobiographical graphic novel about a girl (and then woman) growing up, first in Iran and then as an immigrant in Austria. Extremely funny, extremely touching, and extremely eye-opening. Hard to ask for more than that. I have yet to see the film adaptation, co-written and directed by Marjane Satrapi herself, but you can definitely expect to see it in a recap soon.

I also made it through Good in a Room, which is a guide on how to communicate your ideas effectively and with poise. A lot of it is common sense, but I found it really helpful to have the concepts laid out succinctly and honestly. I read it with my writing aspirations in mind, but it’s given me some insight into how to better conduct myself at my day job, too.

What I’m Writing

And finally, I’ve decided to give up on EARNEST for now. It just wasn’t working, and I’m not a fan of beating my head against a wall. I’ll save the idea for the future when I’m better equipped to tackle it.

So, that means I’m moving on to a rewrite of the screenplay I wrote last year during ScriptFrenzy, TEA. It’s already been through one rewrite, but I’ve learned a lot since then. I realized my main character had no flaw, which makes it hard for him to have any meaningful arc. So, that’s what I’m working on. It’s reading better so far, and there’s still a lot of work to do, but it should keep me busy until it’s time to start planning for this year’s Screnzy in a couple of weeks.

Whew, that was a lot of movies. That’s it for now. Hope everyone’s March is off to a good start!

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