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The Center Seat



a girl who likes good movies



Updated: 2017-10-04T06:18:05.444-05:00

 



where i am

2012-03-15T15:36:12.030-05:00

This is what work (you know, my day job) has been like for me this week:

That's me with my pretty manicured nails clawing the air.

See you next week when someone makes this cube into a seven-layer salad.



day zero update #3

2012-03-15T15:36:12.939-05:00

It's the day after Thanksgiving, and I'm SO NOT in line at the stores. I intend to spend this entire day in my pj's, feasting on leftovers. So there.

Completed Tasks

#44: Get all new gifts put away and house in order. With a LOT of help from Mr. Nayana.

Tasks in Progress

#15: Watch all AFI 100 movies. I saw Platoon! Now at 45/100.
#16: Get 200 Facebook fans. No movement here.
#17: Watch all Academy Award Best Picture winners. I saw Platoon! So now I've seen 43/82.
#19: Watch all Coen brothers movies. I posted the list on Wednesday; I'm at 8/15.
#22: Stay caught up on Google Reader for a month. Still going! This task will be completed on December 11.
#23: See all feature films directed by Hayao Miyazaki. I'm planning to post this list next Wednesday. I'm about halfway done.
#24: Pay off all credit cards. Nothing to report here.
#25: Pay off car loan. Or here.
#47: Finish name changes. Does the electric company really have to have my legal name on file?
#64: Eat at ten new restaurants. No new restaurants this week. Still at 1/10.
#65: Learn sign language. Had to skip my ASL class this week; hope I didn't miss too much.
#71: Complete our wedding registry. No real progress, but I did convert much of it into a Target "List", so family has a nice Christmas list to work from. (Am I the only one that usually draws a blank when someone asks what you want for Christmas?)
#77: Watch Buffy the Vampire Slayer (TV series) from beginning to end. We're through Season One! See yesterday's post.
#82: Get caught up at work. I expect to be done with this by this time next week. Yay!
#85: Structure my work time into a set schedule, and stick to it for a month. Still going! I should be done with this goal December 9. I'll probably stick to it after the month is up, as it makes my job MUCH easier, and gives me time for blogging.

There you have it! Have a fantastic weekend.



buffy the vampire slayer: season one, episodes five-twelve

2012-03-15T15:36:12.168-05:00

Nayana's standard Buffy disclaimer/Reverse spoiler alert: This is my first time EVER watching this series. I am very interested in keeping my experience pure, so please take care in the comments to not give any spoilers, clues, or insights from future (to me) seasons or episodes.We've been powering through these episodes! They're so fun to watch, so it's really easy to keep clicking the "Next Episode" button when we're done with one. Eight episodes in a week... it's not going to be the standard, but it could definitely happen again.Episode 5: Never Kill a Boy on the First DateBuffy's got a date! Despite all the bug-hacking, witch-fighting and vamp-hunting, the girl still wants a social life. That proves problematic, though, as Giles' vampire-slaying prophecies tend to coincide with when Buffy is supposed to be slow-dancing with shy, bookish Owen. Of course the two sides of Buffy's life don't stay neatly separated, and Owen gets the full Slayer experience. It turns out to be a little too exciting for Owen, though, and Buffy has to cut him loose.Though it's not the meatiest of episodes, I enjoyed Episode 5, as it helped me sympathize with what the life of a teenage Slayer might be like. It's hard enough for any sixteen-year-old to juggle the responsibilities of young adulthood, but the responsibility shouldered by the earth's sole Slayer would indeed be profound. This episode was notable, too, in that it introduced the Anointed, a young boy who is being groomed by the Master for what appears to be Buffy's destruction.Episode 6: The PackI found "The Pack" alternately fascinating and horrifying. The premise is as follows: a group of kids, including Xander, sneak into the closed hyena exhibit at the zoo, and become possessed by the hyena's spirit. So it's a bunch of high school kids acting like hyenas.At first, they're just mean to some of the other kids. After a while, though, it gets nasty. They eat the school mascot, a little pig... and later, minus Xander, they eat the principal. They eat the principal. Blech.Of course, Buffy et al eventually saves the day, and Xander is back to his Xander-y self. But the principal doesn't get uneaten. *shudder*Episode 7: AngelI already knew Angel was a vampire. Of course I knew... if you ever watched TV in the 90's, the commercials basically told you. So that wasn't a surprise. But the backstory was interesting: the gist is that he used to be ravenous and amoral like all other vampires until a group of Roma (gypsies) cursed him. Now he's a vampire with a soul, which means that he can't bring himself to kill humans. He staked Darla, though, which was a relief; I was getting sick of her.Episode 8: I, Robot... You, JaneWillow accidentally puts a demon on the Internet when she scans the book in which the demon had been imprisoned. All hell breaks loose.I admit that, viewed from a 2010 perspective, this episode seemed a bit silly. It really highlights the vast differences between the online world of today and the infant Internet of 1997. For starters, when Willow seemed to have a new online love, Buffy and Xander reacted with extreme suspicion; nowadays, of course, it seems quaint to not meet your spouse on the Internet.I'm a fan of the computer teacher, Ms. Calendar, who was introduced in this episode. She's cute, and witty--is it too much to hope that she could be a future love interest for Giles? But... techno-pagan? Come on.Episode 9: The Puppet ShowI knew from the second I saw the kid with his creepy ventriloquist's dummy that the dummy was going to come to life. That part was über-predictable. It was completely unpredictable, however, that the creepy-ass dummy turned out to be a good guy! That was a nice surprise. I have to say, though, that they laid on the suspense extra-thick at the end. Giles on that guillotine.... Ack! It reminded me of when Sylar was stealing brains in the first season of Heroes.Also, Armin Shimerman as the new principal! Loves it! He's not exactly Quark, but he's pretty fan-freaking-tastic. I wonder if this [...]



day zero: my coen brothers movie list

2012-03-15T15:36:12.352-05:00

I heart the Coen brothers. They are easily my favorite local-boys-made-good (they're from Minnesota, just like me!) So I think it's tragic and a bit embarrassing that I have not yet seen the entirety of their oeuvre. Therefore, I added it to my Day Zero list at lucky #19*, and I can tell you this is one task I'm really looking forward to.

Here's the list:

  1. Blood Simple
  2. Raising Arizona
  3. Miller's Crossing
  4. Barton Fink
  5. The Hudsucker Proxy
  6. Fargo
  7. The Big Lebowski
  8. O Brother, Where Art Thou?
  9. The Man Who Wasn't There
  10. Intolerable Cruelty
  11. The Ladykillers
  12. No Country For Old Men
  13. Burn After Reading
  14. A Serious Man
  15. True Grit

I've got 8 out of 15. How many have you seen? Any thoughts on the ones I haven't seen yet?

*Just saw the "Nightmares" episode of Buffy. Review tomorrow.



127 hours: whaddaya think?

2012-03-15T15:36:12.038-05:00

All signs are pointing to Oscar nominations for Danny Boyle's new release 127 Hours, in theaters now. If you don't already know, this is the story of that guy who got stuck in a canyon a few years ago and escaped by sawing his own arm off. Compelling story, but... ew.

I'm about as queasy as they come. I can't usually handle the gore. But this is supposed to be a fantastic movie, and it seems destined for the Oscars. So what do I do? Do I suck it up and go, watching the icky scene through my fingers? Or do I stay home and just get by on everyone else's reviews?



platoon

2012-03-15T15:36:12.398-05:00

I am a pacifist. I'm going to level with you all and confess that I didn't quite know which direction to take with this review, as pacifism isn't exactly a philosophy that is appreciated and understood by most, especially in a time of war.Let me just say that while I love and appreciate the soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, and guardsmen who protect my freedom to believe in peace above all, I have a big problem with governments who choose to put those folks in harm's way when there may be other, more effective options available. War is costly (both fiscally and socially), it's ugly, it's the birthplace of a whole host of evils, and in this blogger's opinion, it's morally wrong.OK, I'm putting my soapbox away, and getting to the movie now. I just figured you would get more out of my thoughts on Platoon if I first let you know where I was coming from.Oliver Stone, the writer and director of Platoon, based this movie on his own experiences serving in the Vietnam War. I believe this movie is a success because it shows, on a few different levels, some of the distinct evils that war begets.Platoon is the story of Chris Taylor (Charlie Sheen), a soldier who dropped out of college and actually volunteered to serve in Vietnam. His idealism is quickly brought down to earth as he witnesses, and experiences, the soul-changing nature of war.After a member of Taylor's platoon goes missing and is subsequently found mutilated and tied to a post, the humanity of many of the soldiers starts to fray. The platoon comes upon a village; the soldiers suspect the villagers of conspiring with the North Vietnamese Army, and they take that excuse to terrorize the petrified civilians. Taylor finds himself screaming at a disabled boy and shooting at his feet, forcing him to dance; another soldier eventually bludgeons the boy to death and laughs at how his head falls apart. As some of the prominent villagers are being interrogated, one woman bravely confronts the intruders, and is summarily executed by the villain of the film, Sgt. Barnes (Tom Berenger). He then takes a screaming child, presumably the murdered woman's daughter, and threatens to kill her too if the villagers do not give up information about the NVA (which they may or may not have). Sgt. Elias, played by Willem Dafoe, confronts Barnes and saves the little girl, but this is only the beginning of the war between the two sergeants, which becomes a "civil war" (in Taylor's words) within the platoon.Americans like to believe that when we go to war, we're doing it for a just cause. We want to think that our soldiers are out there being noble, helping the locals, making things right. That's just not always the case, and Platoon lays that out quite clearly. The men were supposed to be fighting a specific enemy, the North Vietnamese, but they ended up fighting and killing civilians, each other, and sometimes themselves.I don't know why we were in Vietnam. I've taken plenty of history classes and read plenty of books, but I still haven't heard a justification that makes sense to me. It was a mistake which cost millions of Vietnamese, Laotian, Cambodian, and American lives, displaced even more innocents, and poisoned an entire country's landscape, with effects still being felt today.So yeah, I'm anti-war. But can I say I'm pro-war-movie? At least when it comes to movies like Platoon which unabashedly show the horrors of war; I'm probably kidding myself here, but if enough artists show truth as effectively as Oliver Stone did here, maybe we'll think carefully before getting ourselves into more scrapes like Vietnam... or Iraq... or Afghanistan...[...]



day zero update #2

2012-03-15T15:36:12.702-05:00

One more week has gone by, and I've made a teensy bit of progress.

Completed Tasks

None this week. I have a feeling there will be many weeks like this.

Setbacks

#83: Get to work on time and leave on time every day for a week. This is really, really hard. I've tried and failed twice already. Next attempt will be the week following Thanksgiving.

Tasks in Progress

#15: Watch all AFI 100 movies. Still at 44/100.
#16: Get 200 Facebook fans. Still at 89. Active users are up, though, so maybe that's a good sign?
#17: Watch all Academy Award Best Picture winners. Go look at my list, which I posted Wednesday. I've seen 42/82.
#19: Watch all Coen brothers movies. I'm roughly halfway done. I'll post this list soon.
#22: Stay caught up on Google Reader for a month. Well, I've stayed caught up this week. If I keep it up, this task will be completed on December 11.
#23: See all feature films directed by Hayao Miyazaki. I'll post this list in the next few weeks. I'm about halfway done.
#24: Pay off all credit cards. Ha.
#25: Pay off car loan. Double ha.
#44: Get all new gifts put away and house in order. Triple ha. But I intend to get this done before Thanksgiving.
#47: Finish name changes. I've been slacking on this one this week.
#64: Eat at ten new restaurants. I forgot to include this one last week! Mr. N and I checked out a local Italian restaurant called Amici. The food was delicious, but pricey. Incidentally, Pistola says Amici has given her food poisoning in the past. So maybe we won't go back there. But anyway, that's 1/10.
#65: Learn sign language. I've just signed up for the second round of classes. It's community ed, so I'm not learning as much as I'd like to, but it's good for what it is. I'll have to take a college course on ASL at some point in the future.
#71: Complete our wedding registry. No progress on this.
#77: Watch Buffy the Vampire Slayer (TV series) from beginning to end. If you read yesterday's post, you know I've started on this one. And I'm loving it!
#82: Get caught up at work. I have actually been kicking ass on this one. Mostly because of...
#85: Structure my work time into a set schedule, and stick to it for a month. This has been amazing for my productivity. I'm almost all the way caught up, and I haven't felt overwhelmed at all since I've started this. I guess you could say I started doing this on November 9, so we'll consider it completed on December 9, assuming I keep it up.

I didn't complete anything this week, but I'm still feeling positive because I made some good progress on some of those goals. We'll see where we stand next Friday! Have a good weekend, folks.



buffy the vampire slayer: season one, episodes one-four

2012-03-15T15:36:12.719-05:00

Nayana's standard Buffy disclaimer/Reverse spoiler alert: This is my first time EVER watching this series. I am very interested in keeping my experience pure, so please take care in the comments to not give any spoilers, clues, or insights from future (to me) seasons or episodes.Last night Mr. N and I sat down to watch the first several episodes of Buffy, and I actually had to give him the above disclaimer a few times. I really want to experience the storyline as Joss Whedon wanted it to unfold; I've already got a great opinion of him as a storyteller, and I'm really looking forward to the experience. Now, without further mucking about, my thoughts.Episodes 1 & 2: Welcome to the Hellmouth/The HarvestAs an introduction to the Buffy mythology, this pair of episodes did a great job. There was plenty of exposition, but the story never got boring, which is quite a feat. We meet Buffy Summers, newly transferred to Sunnydale (yes, I did relish the "sunny" and "summer" irony) High School after being expelled from her former school.Buffy is a Vampire Slayer--the only one in the world--and, as such, she's got super-human strength, martial arts skills, and comprehensive vampire knowledge. It's unclear at this point how much of that is innate, and how much was learned. We are led to believe that Buffy was expelled for events that were a direct result of her battles with vampires: a burned-down school gym, missing classes, etc. As a result, Buffy is reluctant to get back into the vamp-killing game, but we all know that the "I don't want to kill vampires anymore" angst will last all of 10 minutes. We also meet Rupert Giles, a Watcher (kind of like a Slayer's coach?); Willow, a nerdy girl befriended by Buffy (Alyson Hannigan, whom I already LOVE LOVE LOVE); Xander, a sweetheart of a doofus who's got the hots for Buffy; Angel, a mysterious hot guy who seems to know an awful lot about vampires; and Cordelia, the (for lack of a better term) class bitch.The storyline in these two episodes centers around a den of vampires who live in Sunnydale's underground electrical tunnels and their Master who is trying to come back to the surface to feed on human blood. The vampires plan to trap a group of humans and feed on them, somehow sending their souls directly to the Master, who will gain strength from them and then be able to return to the surface. Of course, Buffy and her gang thwart that plan.I truly enjoyed this introduction to the Buffy mythology, and I really like the character of Buffy herself. I don't know what I expected, but I was surprised to find her relatively intelligent, and her superhuman strength, agility, and mid-fight banter was very entertaining. Also, maybe it's because I'm watching this for the first time post-True Blood and Twilight, but it was a bit jarring (and, admittedly, refreshing) to see actual ugly vampires. I'm looking forward to more of this; it's not a bad way to spend an evening.Episode 3: The WitchBuffy wants to be a cheerleader. Naturally. That part made me roll my eyes a bit, but I dug the fact that there was a mystery in this episode right off the bat. I hope more of the episodes do that; I like a little self-contained mystery in a TV episode, a la Law & Order. During the cheerleading tryouts, one of the more promising girls inexplicably bursts into flames. Later on, a few other not-so-nice things happen to other would-be cheerleaders, and it turns out there's a bit of witchcraft going on in Sunnydale. Who's surprised? Not me, though it is nice that they've branched out a bit from the vampire thing. We think we know right away who the witch is, but in a sneaky little twist, she's actually switched bodies with her mother, Freaky Friday-style. Unfortunately Buffy ticks her off, and becomes the victim of a spell which starts to slowly kill her. Giles does a little "chemistry" of his own, reverses the spell, and onc[...]



day zero: my academy award for best picture list

2012-03-15T15:36:12.880-05:00

Task #17 on my Day Zero list requires me to watch all movies that have won the Academy Award for Best Picture. This is one of those tasks that I want to be able to say I have done, but I'm not all that excited to actually get down and do it. I think that's mostly because some of the Academy's choices over the years have sometimes been, as we all know, a bit flawed.All that having been said, I'm determined to jump into this task along with all the others. So here's the list; movies I've already seen have been struck through. Just like with last week's list, I've decided to only count the movies I've seen in the last fifteen years. I have a hazy memory of watching Mutiny on the Bounty with my parents when I was about ten... but there's no way that counts.1928 - Wings1929 - The Broadway Melody1930 - All Quiet on the Western Front1931 - Cimarron1932 - Grand Hotel1933 - Cavalcade1934 - It Happened One Night1935 - Mutiny on the Bounty1936 - The Great Ziegfeld1937 - The Life of Emile Zola1938 - You Can't Take It With You1939 - Gone with the Wind1940 - Rebecca1941 - How Green Was My Valley1942 - Mrs. Miniver1943 - Casablanca1944 - Going My Way1945 - The Lost Weekend1946 - The Best Years of Our Lives1947 - Gentleman's Agreement1948 - Hamlet1949 - All the King's Men1950 - All About Eve1951 - An American in Paris1952 - The Greatest Show on Earth1953 - From Here to Eternity1954 - On the Waterfront1955 - Marty1956 - Around The World in 80 Days1957 - The Bridge on the River Kwai1958 - Gigi1959 - Ben-Hur1960 - The Apartment1961 - West Side Story1962 - Lawrence of Arabia1963 - Tom Jones1964 - My Fair Lady1965 - The Sound of Music1966 - A Man for All Seasons1967 - In the Heat of the Night1968 - Oliver!1969 - Midnight Cowboy1970 - Patton1971 - The French Connection1972 - The Godfather1973 - The Sting1974 - The Godfather Part II1975 - One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest1976 - Rocky1977 - Annie Hall1978 - The Deer Hunter1979 - Kramer vs. Kramer1980 - Ordinary People1981 - Chariots of Fire1982 - Gandhi1983 - Terms of Endearment1984 - Amadeus1985 - Out of Africa1986 - Platoon - watched 11/20/101987 - The Last Emperor1988 - Rain Man1989 - Driving Miss Daisy1990 - Dances With Wolves1991 - The Silence of the Lambs1992 - Unforgiven1993 - Schindler's List1994 - Forrest Gump1995 - Braveheart1996 - The English Patient1997 - Titanic1998 - Shakespeare in Love1999 - American Beauty2000 - Gladiator2001 - A Beautiful Mind2002 - Chicago2003 - The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King2004 - Million Dollar Baby2005 - Crash2006 - The Departed2007 - No Country for Old Men2008 - Slumdog Millionaire2009 - The Hurt LockerAs you can see, I've done OK in recent years, but I've got a lot of catching up to do. I've got 42/82 so far. How many have you seen?[...]



why I like sappy made-for-tv christmas movies

2012-03-15T15:36:12.361-05:00

Two or three years ago, I would have reacted to that title the way many of you probably did: with an eyeroll and a "did Nayana have a stroke?" But my dear mother has converted me.

Thanksgiving weekend 2008: Mom and I were sitting in her TV room, and she was insisting on yet another Hallmark/Lifetime/ABC Family original movie. Because I love my mother, I kept watching. To be sure, I rolled my eyes and told her why the cheesy movies were making my teeth hurt. "Mom," I sighed, "This is not realistic. In real life, everything doesn't just get wrapped up with a neat little bow by Christmas Eve."

She replied that that was the point. Apparently not everyone wants edgy gloom and doom when they're feeling Christmassy. My little indie-girl brain did not compute, but as I sat back and started to let the saccharine Christmas cheer wash over me, I started to get it. And, as much as I hated to admit it, I was all over the sappy-ass movies when the 2009 holiday season rolled around.

This works much better for me if I compartmentalize, and just tell myself that these "original movies" on cable are not actual movies. I watch movies for artistic value as well as entertainment, but maybe it's OK once in a while to shut the indie brain off and relax. The purpose of watching A Christmas Visitor, starring Meredith Baxter and William Devane, is not (believe it or not) to appreciate the masterful cinematography*, but to let yourself float away on a gingerbread-y, deck-the-halls-y, Christmassy cloud. And that's OK on a Tuesday night.

So if you're looking for an excuse tonight to plop down and watch Hallmark's The Christmas Card (one of my favorites), here's a list of reasons why I think it's ok for a film geek to occasionally indulge:

  1. Made-for-TV movies provide honest work for non-movie-star actors. In just the next few days, you can see Ed Asner in The Christmas Card, Kelsey Grammer in Mr. St. Nick, or Wallace Shawn in Karroll's Christmas. Inconceivable!
  2. It's safe to watch this stuff with Mom. As I hinted earlier, this is perfect family viewing fare. My mother is a very sweet lady, but I can't exactly enjoy my all-time favorite Christmas movie with her. A budding romance between two body doubles on a porn set is not her idea of a fun storyline.
  3. Fun with clichés! When you're watching schlock, it's 823 times more enjoyable if you mock it just a teeny bit. I'm a big fan of Entertainment Weekly's annual Holiday Movie Cliché Checklist, which is fantastic raw material for a drinking game, assuming Mom's not sitting next to you on the couch. See last year's version here. (Even more fun here.)
  4. They make you feel Christmassy. OK, I know that's pretty damn glurgey. But it's a glurgey topic, so there was really no avoiding this. The truth is, I loves me some Christmas. LOVES IT. I usually try to show some self-control by not playing my ska version of "Joy to the World" until November... but it's a losing battle. And to be honest, these made-for-TV movies stoke those holiday embers for me till I have a lovely, chestnutty blaze. And I don't see anything wrong with that.
*Heh.



    i can't get this out of my head...

    2012-03-15T15:36:12.683-05:00

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    Apparently it's a phenomenon. More here.



    day zero update #1

    2012-03-15T15:36:12.336-05:00

    Each Friday, I'm going to try to update you all on my progress on my Day Zero list. Hopefully that will get me motivated to work on the thing! As Mr. Nayana mentioned last week, I've already gotten a few things knocked off the list (though not as many as he gave me credit for).

    Completed Tasks

    #21: Get caught up on Google Reader. I did it! I don't want to tell you how many items there were when I started. :-/
    #43: Get thank-you notes done. Of course I've got no reason to whine about the lovely wedding gifts we received, but those thank-yous can lurk in your mind like the yet-unseen killer in the first 20 minutes of a slasher flick! I got tired of seeing them waiting for me on my desk every day, so I set a deadline: November 5, two months after the wedding date. And they went out! Just waiting on Mr. Nayana to deliver a few at work, but I think we can consider this one completed.
    #86: No Facebook at work for a week. It wasn't easy, but I did it. And it was amazing how much work I got done that week, though I obviously shouldn't have been surprised.
    #88: Influence another person to make a DayZero list. Mr. Nayana doesn't count, because we're kind of doing it together. But this was still the first task I completed; one day after I started, my friend Karen got on board. Yay!

    Tasks in Progress

    #15: Watch all AFI 100 movies. I just posted my progress on this one on Wednesday. Right now we're at 44/100.
    #16: Get 200 Facebook fans. We're at 89 right now, people. If you haven't "liked" me yet, go here. And tell your friends!
    #17: Watch all Academy Award Best Picture winners. I'm sure I'll post my progress on this one in the near future, too. I'm not as excited about this movie list as some others, just because some Best Picture winners have, frankly, sucked.
    #19: Watch all Coen brothers movies. I'm MUCH more excited about this one. I think I'm about roughly halfway done.
    #22: Stay caught up on Google Reader for a month. I officially got caught up yesterday, November 11. So this task will be completed December 11, 2010.
    #23: See all feature films directed by Hayao Miyazaki. See #19. Pretty much the same goes here.
    #24: Pay off all credit cards. Aren't we all working on this? It'll be a few years.
    #25: Pay off car loan. See #24.
    #44: Get all new gifts put away and house in order. Working on it. But, "house in order"? Yeah, right.
    #47: Finish name changes. I actually changed my name with my cell phone company today! All I've got left to do is insurance company, electric company, cable company, one of my credit cards, and my passport. Have you ever tried to change your name? This is my third time. It's a pain in the ass.
    #65. Learn sign language. I'm taking a class on this every Tuesday with my friend Karen (see #88 above). Super fun, though I've not had to use it with an actual deaf person yet.
    #71. Complete our wedding registry. This is going to be a whole lot closer to completion after Christmas.
    #82. Get caught up at work. Working on it, but it will be a few weeks before I can cross this one off.

    And that's my progress so far. I hope to have good news for you next Friday.



    megamind

    2012-03-15T15:36:12.071-05:00

    OK, kiddies, I'm going to get right to it. Megamind is good. It's entertaining, witty, fast-paced, and it'll make you giggle. There. That's my review. Now, on to some not-so-reviewy thoughts I had while watching the thing (a few mild spoilers after the jump):

    Firstly... Is it weird that I think this guy is kind of hot?










    Secondly... I'm loving the in-jokes! Will Ferrell's Megamind alternately lifts lines from Dr. Evil ("I had a fairly standard childhood") and does an obnoxious caricature of Marlon Brando as the new "hero"'s father. And those were just the obvious ones. There were so many little one-liners sprinkled throughout this film, that I found myself snickering every 60 seconds or so..

    Thirdly... Is Jonah Hill not the best, most neurotic superhero villain in recent film history? There was quite a bit of Buddy/Syndrome from The Incredibles mixed in, but that whole "referencing other superhero films" thing was par for the course throughout this movie.

    As a matter of fact, fourthly, that was one of the greatest things about Megamind. It was quite self-conscious, as any quasi-parody must be; but it was not done in an obnoxious way. References, plot devices, and entire characters lifted from other franchises were treated with good humor. The whole thing had a potential to get tiresome, but we never got to that point. Rather than beating the superhero genre to a gooey pulp, Megamind celebrated it... and actually made me want to go see another superhero movie!

    I must say, as someone who has wearied of parodies recently, that I was quite pleasantly surprised.



    day zero: my afi 100 list

    2012-03-15T15:36:12.196-05:00

    I posted an earlier version of this a while ago, but this is going to be my official Day Zero version. Task #15 on my list requires me to watch all the movies on the AFI Top 100 list; so here's where I'll keep track of my progress. So far I've seen 44 out of 100: not bad, but not nearly good enough. See the full list, after the jump.I only counted movies I've seen in the last fifteen years; anything before age sixteen is probably something I don't remember too well. Movies I've seen have been struck through. How many on this list have you seen? And do you have any recommendations as to where on the list I should start?Citizen KaneThe GodfatherCasablancaRaging BullSingin' in the RainGone with the WindLawrence of ArabiaSchindler's ListVertigoThe Wizard of OzCity LightsThe SearchersStar WarsPsycho2001: A Space OdysseySunset BoulevardThe GraduateThe GeneralOn the WaterfrontIt's a Wonderful LifeChinatownSome Like It HotThe Grapes of WrathE.T. the Extra-TerrestrialTo Kill a MockingbirdMr. Smith Goes to WashingtonHigh NoonAll About EveDouble IndemnityApocalypse NowThe Maltese FalconThe Godfather Part IIOne Flew Over the Cuckoo's NestSnow White and the Seven DwarfsAnnie HallThe Bridge on the River KwaiThe Best Years of Our LivesThe Treasure of the Sierra MadreDr StrangeloveThe Sound of MusicKing Kong (1933)Bonnie and ClydeMidnight CowboyThe Philadelphia StoryShaneIt Happened One NightA Streetcar Named DesireRear WindowIntoleranceThe Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the RingWest Side StoryTaxi DriverThe Deer HunterMASHNorth by NorthwestJawsRockyThe Gold RushNashvilleDuck SoupSullivan's TravelsAmerican GraffitiCabaretNetworkThe African QueenRaiders of the Lost ArkWho's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?UnforgivenTootsieA Clockwork OrangeSaving Private RyanThe Shawshank RedemptionButch Cassidy and the Sundance KidThe Silence of the LambsIn the Heat of the NightForrest GumpAll the President's MenModern TimesThe Wild BunchThe ApartmentSpartacusSunrise: A Song of Two HumansTitanicEasy RiderA Night at the OperaPlatoon - watched 11/20/1012 Angry MenBringing Up BabyThe Sixth SenseSwing TimeSophie's ChoiceGoodfellasThe French ConnectionPulp FictionThe Last Picture ShowDo the Right ThingBlade RunnerYankee Doodle DandyToy StoryBen-Hur [...]



    introducing mr. nayana

    2012-03-15T15:36:12.509-05:00

    I've been married for a little over two months to this great guy; we'll call him Mr. Nayana. I know I've mentioned him a few times over the past couple years, but this will serve as his official introduction.

    Mr. Nayana is a geek, like me, though not of the artsy film-and-novel variety. Rather, his interests lie in things like anime (I like me some Miyazaki, but some of Mr. N's tastes go far beyond my level of comfort), video games (the current soundtrack which won't get out of my head is to something called Rogue Galaxy), and Dungeons & Dragons (it's how we met, actually). He also works at the Science Museum of Minnesota, of which he is justifiably proud.


    So we've got this artsy-sciencey dichotomy in our house. There's a little bit of friction, but in the end it's probably good for both of us.

    Mr. Nayana has joined me in the Day Zero project, and has been journaling his efforts here. You might see him comment on this blog from time to time... and now you know who he is. :-)



    pride and prejudice (1995)

    2012-03-15T15:36:12.818-05:00

    Mr. Nayana was working late the other night, so I took the opportunity to curl up with Zoe the Putty Tat, a bottle of Door Peninsula American Riesling (a holdover from my kickass bachelorette party), and Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy.

    I used to roll my eyes when people would say, "Oh, you like Jane Austen? Have you seen Pride and Prejudice?" I would nod, commenting that I thought Keira Knightley was a surprising but good choice for Elizabeth Bennet. "No," they would reply, "I mean the BBC version." Oh, sure. Like I'm going to spend six hours watching some made-for-TV-movie.

    Good Lord, was I mistaken. When a coworker finally insisted I borrow her copy of the BBC's 1995 Pride and Prejudice, I was impressed in spite of myself. I had recently read the novel, and it was astonishing how faithful the mini-series stayed to the spirit, and the letter, of the original work.

    (image) Readers may be surprised to sit down with a 200-year-old book and find it as lively, witty, and fast-paced as P&P; I had much the same reaction to the BBC mini-series. Yes, it's six hours long, but who thinks about that when you've got Mr. Darcy galloping around on his horse; Mrs. Bennet (Alison Steadman) shrieking about wealthy prospects for her daughters; and Mr. Collins (David Bamber) simpering around like the little Victorian bitch that he is. At any given moment, you're giggling, rolling your eyes, or catching your breath; there's no time to be bored.

    Oh, and those long looks between Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet (Jennifer Ehle). The sparks fly between these two actors, whether they're hating each other or falling in love despite themselves. This thing smolders, more so than most feature-length "romances". The trick is that it actually makes me believe that these two people have fallen in love; and I tend to be more skeptical than most when it comes to movie love.

    So Mr. Darcy has married his Elizabeth. The Riesling is gone, and the cat is attacking some invisible foe which lives halfway up the living-room wall. I'm feeling utterly relaxed and right with the world, as I always seem to do after a healthy dose of Jane Austen. But I'm sure it won't be long before I get a craving for Mr. Darcy again.



    my day zero project ~or~ 101 things in 1001 days

    2012-03-15T15:36:12.601-05:00

    I just got married. Whoo. :-)So now I'm moving on with the REST of my life. Kind of a daunting task, as there's about a million things I want to accomplish.Enter the Day Zero Project.The point of this thing is that you come up with 101 things you want to do, and you get 1,001 days to complete your list. That's about 2.75 years, which is great for a professional procrastinator like yours truly. It's exciting, though: of course I've got tons of goals, and now I'm going to attempt to actually keep track of them! And yes, one of my goals is to spend much more time with my dear blog readers (you know...you). I'm starting this project today: October 10, 2010. 1,001 days from today will be July 8, 2013. Totally doable. And I'll be keeping you up to date as I make progress on my goals, both in this list and in regular "dayzero"-tagged posts. (Strikethrough means I've finished the goal; italics mean it's in progress.)So...here goes:HealthRun a 5K raceTrack my food and exercise for a month on SparkPeopleGo swimming twice a month for a yearFly in an airplane without a seatbelt extender (I have a juicy ass, FYI)Eat five freggies a day for a monthRide my bike to workDrink 8 8-oz glasses of water a day for a monthRun a 10-minute mileMovies, Writing, & Blogging Write in my blog every day during Oscar seasonGet paid to writeAttend a film festivalGet 100 hits on my blog per day and maintain for a weekParticipate in five blogathonsWrite a short storyWatch all AFI 100 moviesGet 200 Facebook fansWatch all Academy Award Best Picture winnersMake an updated Top 100 movie listWatch every Coen brothers movieGo back to collegeGet caught up on Google ReaderStay caught up on Google Reader for a monthSee all feature films directed by Hayao MiyazakiFinances Pay off all credit cardsPay off car loanGo a week without buying anythingPut an entire paycheck into savingsAchieve a good credit scoreBuild a three-month emergency fundBuy a houseGo an entire month, only eating out onceTravel Put my hair in the ocean againGo on a cruiseGet another stamp in my passportVisit Washington, DCGo camping alone with my husbandTake a spontaneous road tripEat at a Waffle HouseGo to Canada with my husbandRide the Ducks at Wisconsin DellsDiscipline & Spirituality Keep the house clean for a full monthGo to church twelve Sundays in a rowGet thank you notes doneGet all new gifts put away and house in orderBuy 10 food items for the sole purpose of donating them to a food bankOrganize our storage closetFinish name changesJoin a small group at churchParticipate in a run or walk for a causeMove husband's curio cabinet to our homePlan meals a week at a time, every week for a monthGet tree up by December 5Take tree down by the end of JanuaryLeave a 100% tipRead a book by Greg BoydCover a meal for a random servicepersonBrown bag my lunch every day for a monthJust for Fun Get a tattooTake a Spanish classAsk 10 friends to suggest one book each, and read them allRead three books from the banned books listRun a D&D gameDo a 1000-piece jigsaw puzzleEat at 10 new restaurantsLearn sign languagePerfect five signature dishesGo to a Jimmy Buffett concertGet three pedicures in a six-month periodSee a play or stage show in Minneapolis or Saint PaulKnit a scarf and hatComplete our wedding registryGo to a football gameOrganize a hide and seek with at least 20 friends at IKEABeat five video games I've never beatenLearn how to make jamBeat my husband in Risk.Watch Buffy the Vampire Slayer (TV series) from beginning to endGo back to the Elephant Walk B&BLearn the Electric SlideBeat five Guitar Hero songs on hardBeat one Guitar Hero song on expertWork Get ca[...]



    fargo

    2012-03-15T15:36:12.478-05:00

    Hey Center Seat readers! I'm back from my much-needed hiatus. Wedding plans and work duties are back on track, so here I go again with this crazy film obsession of mine.How is it that I've never reviewed Fargo before? After all, I am a Minnesotan... I've lived here for 12 years, I love it here, I probably will never move.Minnesotans in general tend to have a love-hate relationship with the movie Fargo. For one thing, it drives us nuts that many assume Fargo to be a city in the good ol' Land of 10,000 Lakes. It so isn't. Go get yourself a map of North Dakota. For another thing, we don't all talk like that. I don't think I've ever in my life uttered the words, "Yah, you betcha." We do all say "Minne-soh-ta", but that's pretty much the extend of it. So to have folks from the coasts coming in, giggling at us, and asking us to say lines from the movie, can get a little grating.But aside from all the "I'm annoyed because I'm a local" conceit, it's really freaking brilliant. I know I may skew a bit on the favorable side when it comes to movies from the Coen boys, but there's a good reason for that, folks. They're masters.Have you ever looked out your window on a January day and thought to yourself, "Damn. There is no color out there. My life is a black-and-white movie"? OK, you smartasses in California and Arizona get a pass, but that is exactly what Minnesota looks like half the year. And the Coens captured it perfectly; the starkness, the colorless landscape. And the way that, even in the city, Minnesota in winter can start to resemble Siberia.Beyond the setting, Fargo mixes comedy and violence more effectively than any other movie I can name*, without making the bloodshed seem trivial. The murders that happen in this story come about in a very matter-of-fact way, but the contrasts between the casually violent attitude of the criminals and the mournful viewpoint of Marge the pregnant cop can be quite jarring. You find yourself being grateful for Marge's frank perspective, while feeling a bit guilty that in the first half of the movie you were almost rooting for the bad guys.Of course the cast is wonderful: I think the witless schemer Jerry Lundegaard is William H. Macy's best role; and the same could probably said for Frances McDormand's Marge. The script is great too, and the setting wouldn't be as powerful without the amazing cinematography. But when you're watching Fargo, you're not thinking about any of that. Setting, script, characters, and acting are all blended together homogeneously into one beautiful product, as though shoved through a wood chipper and sprayed onto the white snow of your screen.*Except maybe another Coen brothers movie.[...]



    postlet #23

    2012-03-15T15:36:12.223-05:00

    OK, this is going to happen once in a while. I am currently buried at work, so you won't see anything earthshaking from me in at least a day, maybe two. I'll be back soon. Stay tuned for reviews of The Time Traveler's Wife, It's A Wonderful Life, and Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog.



    glee

    2012-03-15T15:36:12.369-05:00

    (image) This is a movie blog. But I'm gonna talk TV for a second.

    Can I tell you how much I love, love LOVE Glee?

    I don't watch a whole lot of TV. That's partly because I've got lots to do; partly because I hate commercials; but mostly because, frankly, TV is crap lately.

    Not Glee. Only four episodes into its first season, Glee is on the FOX network (home of some of my three least favorite shows). In contrast to FOX's normal fare of escalating torture-based serials and tired reality shows, Glee incorporates humor, drama, and goosebump-y music in a way we've not seen in ages. Matter of fact, have we ever seen a television musical series that was actually good?

    Glee centers on a high school teacher (played by Broadway vet Matthew Morrison) who is trying to relive some past glory by putting together a kickass show choir. The thing is, the fabulously singing students are a bunch of... well, freaks. The brat, the stutterer, the flaming gay boy, the sassy black chick, the jock, and the kid in the wheelchair are all relative unknowns. A few have done stints on Broadway here and there, or bit parts on the odd TV show, but this is the first time most of us have ever seen them. Together, they're absolutely magic.

    The cast is rounded out by some fantastic villians: Jessalyn Gilsig (don't you remember Ms. Davis from Boston Public?) plays the teacher's spoiled wife, and the scene-stealing Jane Lynch is a nefarious cheerleading coach who wants nothing more than the demise of our little glee club.

    If you haven't caught this show yet, it's on Wednesday nights on FOX... and you should definitely catch up by watching the first four episodes on Hulu. It's free, and no, Dad, it won't put a virus on your computer.

    For now, enjoy Glee's football team and their rendition of Beyoncé's "Single Ladies".
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    fiddler on the roof

    2012-03-15T15:36:12.426-05:00

    I realized something weird today. Out of the 172 posts I've written (yeah.), I've only featured two musicals. And I really love musicals. I can only think of one musical I didn't enjoy--From Justin to Kelly--and nobody enjoyed that one. I don't even think Justin and Kelly enjoyed that one.

    So I'm going to be talking more about musicals I love, starting with Fiddler on the Roof. My parents brought me up on this one; I think I probably saw it for the first time in third or fourth grade, and then I think we came close to wearing out the VHS. My parents would close their eyes reverently when Isaac Stern would get going on his solo during the title credits, we'd all sing along with all the songs. And as part of his extraordinary parenting philosophy, Dad would spout Fiddler wisdom at really random times ("why, you ask? I'll tell you. I don't know"). It went well with his Rolling Stones wisdom ("you can't always get what you want") and his Pink Floyd wisdom ("if you can't eat your meat...")

    Anywho.

    For me, Fiddler is one of those classic movies, like The Princess Bride and The Wizard of Oz, that never fail to entertain and thrill me, even if I think I know the whole thing by heart. Of course it's got its classic moments: the parents singing "Sunrise, Sunset" at the wedding; the freakishly awesome bottle dancers (does anyone know if those bottles were somehow affixed to those hats? Mr. N and I had a bit of a disagreement about that); and my favorite part, the drunken inter-cultural dancing at the tavern.

    (image) What really sets Fiddler on the Roof apart, though, is its lush versatility. In one cinematic breath, it showcases the mundane life of a Russian turn-of-the-century peasant, and then knocks you over the head with huge issues like revolution and bigotry. This movie goes in a heartbeat from light comedic banter, to poignant longing for a simpler time, to plain awe at what makes life beautiful.

    Most of all, I love to watch Tevye as he navigates the precarious tight space between his long-held beliefs and his love for his daughters. It mirrors what I've figured out in the past few years: just because you've believed something as long as you can remember, don't be surprised when you learn it's worthless in the face of real life.



    the proposal

    2012-03-15T15:36:12.460-05:00

    I didn't want to see The Proposal. I even (briefly) considered featuring it as a FWLFS. From the moment I saw that first trailer, the whole thing just felt... icky. The premise--a put-upon gopher is forced to get engaged to his abusive female boss so that she can stay in the U.S.--is classic, egregious sexual harassment. Would we laugh, I opined, if the genders were reversed, and a lecherous male boss did the same to his female subordinate? Of course not. Because it's awful.

    With my air of progressive hipster superiority fully satisfied, I happily shunned all opportunities (including a free preview) to see The Proposal. It was beneath me, don't you know.

    But then some writers whom I actually respect (I'm looking at you, Jess!) had to go and say it wasn't that bad. So on my inaugural Wednesday night movie, I headed down to the Riverview and saw it for $3.

    OK, seriously. The premise is awful. But looking past that for a second--can I just say how much I've missed Sandra Bullock? She hasn't been this yummy in a rom-com for at least nine years. And her chemistry with Ryan Reynolds was muy caliente.


    So, really, this movie was saved for me by two things: first, the delicious cast (Mary Steenburgen! Betty White! Coach! Oscar from "The Office" doing a lap dance!); and, secondly, the hilarious script*. I have not laughed this much since Forgetting Sarah Marshall.

    Yes, The Proposal was a run-of-the-mill romantic comedy, and yes, it followed a formula. You always knew what was going to happen next. But--it didn't suck. I was smiling as I walked out of the theater; and that, in itself, transcended my best expectations.

    *"You know I can't swim!" "Hence, the boat." If you saw it, you know what I'm talking about.



    wednesday nights are movie nights: whaddaya think?

    2012-03-15T15:36:12.931-05:00

    Relationship Nayana has been beating the crap out of Movie Nayana. So last week that whole thing came to a head, I got upset, decisions were made. Relationship Nayana is still in charge, but she has to let Movie Nayana out once in a while. So...

    Wednesday night is movie night! I'm gonna go, every week, by myself, to a movie in the theater. But here's the rub... I have no idea what I should see this week. I've been unplugged for far too long. I need your guidance, my bloggy friends.

    Here are some of my options. Suggestions, please!

    1. Food, Inc.
    2. The Proposal
    3. Public Enemies
    4. 9
    5. Extract
    6. The Informant!
    7. Inglorious Basterds
    8. Julie & Julia

    OK, lemme have it.



    (500) days of summer

    2012-03-15T15:36:12.417-05:00

    I've had quite the struggle lately between the movie-lover me and the relationship me. It's not that Mr. Nayana actively keeps me from going to the movies per se... it's just that it hasn't occurred to me to get my ass to the theater when I could just hang with my best bud at home. Does that make any sense?

    Anyway, this whole "I never go to the movies anymore" thing came to a head this week. More on that tomorrow. But Mr. Nayana, in his infinite sweetness, saw that I was upset and promptly decided to take me on a date. We saw (500) Days of Summer, which I had been itching for since I first read about it months ago.

    First of all, it's definitely not your standard romantic comedy (which, honestly, was a huge part of its appeal for me). Secondly, it stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Zooey Deschanel, both of whom I looooove.

    The coolest thing about this movie is that it doesn't give us the normal crap we get about love from your standard commercial film:

    Step 1. You meet someone of the opposite sex whom you immediately despise.
    Step 2. Your quirky best friend helps you realize you actually are in love with aforementioned despised person.
    Step 3. An unfortunate misunderstanding will drive the two of you apart.
    Step 4. It all comes right in the end (thanks again to your quirky best friend).

    This, as we should all know, is complete shit. And (500) Days of Summer--blessedly--doesn't do that. We are taken on a journey through a realistic relationship... the highs, the lows, the initial blush, the later disillusionment. And guess what? They don't like each other exactly the same amount! Sound familiar?


    This movie was a beautiful, refreshing look at the real stuff we go through when we make the rash decision to allow another human being to become intimately close to us. It's not always pretty, but it's real life, not fantasy. And as for me, I'd much rather my film (or music, or art) reflect the life I actually lead.



    changes are coming...

    2012-03-15T15:36:12.665-05:00

    So, yeah. I haven't blogged in about a million years. (Five months is about a million years in bloggy time, isn't it?)

    I think that may have a lot to do with the fact that my life has changed dramatically in the last year... but I do miss y'all. So I'm going to give The Center Seat a face lift and we're going to get going with a second wind. Hopefully this week, but I make no hard and fast promises.

    Biggest change: remember Nuevo Man? We have to change his handle, I think. On September 7 he asked me to marry him.... so maybe "Mr. Nayana", a la "Mrs. Fletch"?