Friday, October 11, 2019

What's Next On My List? Last Action Hero

I have compiled a list of movies I have seen since as long as I can remember. Now, I am going through that list and just writing down movies that I would like to talk about a little bit. These were surprises, hated movies, and some that just worked their way into my hear unexpectedly. So let us get in deeper:

Danny is handed a golden movie ticket to see his favorite movie on the big screen, all alone, before the cinema closes down. As if by magic, he is transported into the movie where he goes on an incredible adventure with his favorite action hero of all time.

This is one of my sister's favorite movies. I do believe that this fell under the radar because... Americans are f*cking idiots. Hear me out: you know how we used to look bad at a singer if they wanted a career as actors? Or the other way around? I remember that this used to be headline back when, and it isn't anymore, which I am happy about, but the reason for that is that Hollywood requires even more from someone to get into the business. Think of every single British actor you have known: they can all sing, act and dance, can't they? That is right, in most countries these arts cross into each other, but not in the US. So much so, that if an action hero wanted to make a fun or a dramatic movie, NOBODY wanted to know about it. My favorite movie of all time is Stallone's Oscar, which was nominated for awards for being the worst... yet, everyone I show it to today cannot help but fall in love with it.
Same with this movie: people do not want to see Schwarzenegger as a good actor, they would much rather have him be in action movies or making fun of himself, I mean, him playing Shakespeare is foolish and screw this movie. Right? I am sure that many thought this was going to be another awesome action movie, but then... then it turned serious with an actual plot and it made people think about the story they were seeing, and people don't like to think when they want to watch an action movie! Now, at the same time, think of something like Ready Player One. People love popular culture references, people love it when one breaks the fourth wall, we like stories that are aware of themselves... today. So my summary is actually that this movie was truly ahead of its time. If you watch it today you will laugh, you will cry, you will be scared and left wanting more. It is still an action movie, but it is so much more than that, and thank god it is. The characters are lovable, the way they combine different genres of movies was done very smoothly, and even if I was often scared, I knew that I would re-watch this movie every chance I got.

Watch it? Another movie that I find needs a second look at. And well, movies that were underrated very rarely gets remakes, so I am not afraid that someone is gonna come in and force a new version on us that completely misunderstands the depth and genius of this story. And for that very same reason I do hope that people go and watch the original and rethink their criticism over it. There is a lot more there to see!

Until the next item on my list!
_ _ _ _ 

Austin O'Brien - Danny Madigan
Arnold Schwarzenegger - Jack Slater
F. Murray Abraham - John Practice
Art Carney - Frank
Charles Dance - Benedict
Frank McRae - Lieutenant Dekker
Tom Noonan - Ripper / Tommy Noonan
Anthony Quinn - Tony Vivaldi
Mercedes Ruehl - Irene Madigan
Ian McKellen - Death

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

What's Next On My List? Grease 2

I have compiled a list of movies I have seen since as long as I can remember. Now, I am going through that list and just writing down movies that I would like to talk about a little bit. These were surprises, hated movies, and some that just worked their way into my hear unexpectedly. Out of those, I have decided to write my most detailed review about this movie, because I feel that it deserves it.

Michael comes to the same school where his cousin Sandy graduated from, and there he immediately runs into the T-Birds and the Pink Ladies. One lady in particular, Stephanie, catches his eyes, but she is looking for someone who can ride a motorcycle like no one else. Michael decides to fight for her in his own romantic way, and in the end, she falls in love with him before realizing it herself.

Before I tell you if I liked this movie or not, I want to write my review. First, the music: it is really good. Unfortunately there are four different songs just about having sex, which means that subtlety wasn't this movies forte, but, the songs that are not about "scoring" are simply excellent. You know, if you follow my blog, that I care for musicals, they just have a special place in my heart. And to me a good musical is measured by the songs: if I catch myself singing a song, or wanting to listen to it again, then there is value to it. I know a lot of songs by heart from this movie, so you can tell, I am very satisfied with the music. I loved it when I heard of reviews of The Fabulous Baker Boys, and people where astonished that Michelle Pfeiffer can sing, and all I gotta say is: bitch please. Second, the casting. It is actually amazing to discover this movie once you are grown up and you know the actors from it, for example, our lead Michael was my favorite asshole, from Empire Records, the one and only Rex Manning. And he is an adorable lead in this movie. Some returned from the first Grease movie, and others have since never acted in everything ever again... but that can happen quite often even today.
And that brings us to point three: the story. Obviously, it seems pretty straightforward, there was a gender swap, with the girl being the cool one and the guy being the nerdy kid who does not fit in just yet. On the surface, it looks like the same movie. When you look at Grease today... At least one out of five are gonna argue with you about the moral lesson of the movie, and they are not wrong... love is one thing, but these two don't really meet halfway, the woman completely suppresses herself for the other one. And yet, we all wanted to be Sandy! ... Well, I wanted to be Rizzo, but that is something that I need to deal with in private with my therapist. Here, however, simply by making the guy the little nerd who seeks to become cool for the girl he loves - instead of impressing someone he is supposed to be in love with already - I cannot find any moral questions that were dealt with in a wrong way. Stephanie clearly has feelings for Michael, he is funny, smart, and caring, but he isn't a T-Bird, he isn't a "Cool Rider", but she is not against getting to know him. When she finds out that it is him in the end, she is very happy to know that the mysterious man that has been courting her for so long is the same sweet boy. The way Michael learns to be a cool rider, and he still studies all the time, while even helping others at school, makes him someone to look up to, and you want them to get together, without either of them denying a part of themselves for the other one. That is why, in my humble opinion, Grease 2 is actually just as good as the first one.
Did I think that in the beginning? Oh, of course not. The reason I kept going back to it was actually the songs, and the more debates I got into regarding Sandy's suppression of her true self in order to be liked by her boyfriend and his friends, the more I thought: this movie is stupid. Don't get me wrong, I love Grease because I have very strong nostalgia goggles on and the music still gives me shivers after all these years. But as much as we like to avoid the fact that this sequel exists, because let's face it, Grease did not need a sequel, I personally don't want to ignore its existence and do believe that it needs to be re-watched before we claim that it is a bad movie, period. Does it need that many songs on sex? No. Are any of the other side-characters likeable? The reason they make an impact, is actually the fact that they are not stereotypes. Another thing I have to note as a good writing in this movie, is that we spend a lot of time getting to know the side-characters. They have interactions that made me invested in them. The biggest change in the original movie is from the female lead leaving one cliche character to become another. Is society's pressure so unbearable? Since that is what both movies come down to, in the end, the fact that we always care about what other people think. And Danny almost got there, who knows if he would have been strong enough if Sandy had not taken steps toward reaching him sooner, but in this movie, Michael really only cares about Stephanie and what she thinks; getting approval from the others is just the cherry.

Watch it? Well, I couldn't be more detailed if I tried. I am sure I raised enough points to get you interested. Is it a flawless movie? Of course not, but no kind exists. Is it hated on a bit too much? I definitely think so. People put this movie to impossible standards and of course it did not live up to it at its time. But forcing a more modern feminist look on it, I think I lot of people should see how the heroine of this movie is actually pretty bad-ass, and someone who, after all these years, did not make questionable choices from a moral point of you. I recommend you give it a second go, and if you haven't seen it yet, the more so.

Until the next item on my list!
_ _ _ _ _ 

Michelle Pfeiffer - Stephanie
Lorna Luft - Paulette
Maureen Teefy - Sharon
Alison Price - Rhonda
Pamela Adlon - Dolores 
Adrian Zmed - Johnny Nogerelli
Peter Frechette - DiMucci
Leif Green - Davey
Didi Conn - Frenchy

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Blogger: 5 Things You Should Stop Saying When You Learn A Foreign Language

(Gurulj le a magyar verzióhoz!)
_ _ _ _

I have been teaching one-to-one for over 7 years now, having had more than 30 students who studied both English and Italian with me, as well as having tutored in American culture and history. My students have passed their exams with a 93% of success, and that makes me very proud. But with every single student there is a moment, when they reach down the well of defeat and bring up 5 phrases that I cannot hear anymore without going insane... I decided to write these down to help future students, whether they learn with me or with any other teacher out there.

1, "I will never learn this." 
Somebody out there is saying the same thing about math. The other one about geography and so on... we all have different brains. Language might be harder for you, but just like those others who learned to pass in that one subject they believed they will never master, so will you pass it as well! People who have difficulty with certain subject will never get A-s on a test, but you need to remember, that passing is what is important, nobody cares in the end and they can never take away your success.

2, "How does anyone speak this language?"
Well, it might be strange to hear, but there is a native speaker who is failing grammar classes of his mother tongue... nobody said languages are easy, but we need to learn to put things into perspective. There is a reason that language developed the rules it did, and as a result, you can learn it too. And remember, sometimes a language is much easier to learn through movies, music and books, so if grammar is your enemy, don't let it defeat it. There are a hundred ways to go about mastering a language, don't stop until you find yours.

3, "I didn't do homework, but I will next time."
No, you won't. And that is OK! What you need to understand is that the teacher does not give a shit if you did your homework (*author's note: many organize their lesson plan around you having done your part and meeting halfway, but even then, we are quite good at improvising). Homework is not something we give you because we learned in school that that is what teachers do... we do it, because the way the learn a language is ONLY possible through practice. The minute you understand that homework is meant to help you, this will change. That said, there are indeed cases, when you did not have the time, and for that, I recommend phrase 4:

4, "Sorry, I am just tired."
Of course you are, you are either a student with 12 courses, or somebody with a full time job, or a mother of three, or a manager on whom people are dependent. It is OK, that you have a life. If we have an evening class, of course you are tired. If we have a class at 8 in the morning, trust me you are not sleepy, I AM the one who is SLEEPY. You are here because YOU need to pass a language exam or a university exam. On the day of the exam, you are there to be there 100%. You will do at least ten times better because you can concentrate on it and not have anything else on your mind. Teachers do not define your language knowledge based on bad performance... we see everything. Trust us, we believe in you a lot more than you believe in yourself.

5, "I won't pass the language exam."
You are right. With that attitude you won't. So change your attitude! Stop assuming your teacher/tutor hates you for making mistakes. When you make mistakes in your mother tongue nobody attacks you for it! You have the ability to comprehend another language, can't you see how beautiful that is? What if your grammar isn't perfect or that you need longer to remember words and expressions? Everything will be fine.

+1, "This might be stupid..."
It's not. Again, you might confuse two words, you might pronounce it wrong, in my experience, people who think they are about to say something stupid give me the correct answer nine times out of ten. Stop underestimating yourself and remember: you make simple mistakes in your  mother tongue as well. Even if you make a mistake, what you say will never be stupid. You are trying, and that is half the battle.
_ _ _ _

5 dolog, amit nem szabad többet mondanod, 
ha egy idegen nyelvet tanulsz

Már több mint 7 éve tanítok privátban, több mint 30 diákom volt, akik velem együtt tanultak angolul és olaszul, valamint korrepetáltam amerikai kultúrából és a történelemből. Diákjaim 93%-ka sikeresen teljesítették vizsgáikat, és erre nagyon büszke vagyok. De minden egyes diákkal van egy pillanat, amikor nem bírják tovább és a csalódottság kútjából előveszik azt az 5 mondatot, amitől felforr az agyvizem... Úgy döntöttem, hogy összeírom ezeket, hogy segítsem a jövő diákjait, függetlenül attól, hogy velem tanulnak-e majd vagy bármely más tanárral odakint.

1, "Sosem fogom ezt megtanulni."
Valaki ugyanezt mondja a matematikáról. Valaki más a földrajzról és így tovább ... mindannyiunknak más agya van. Lehet, hogy neked nehezebb a nyelv tanulás, de csakúgy, mint azok, akik legyőzték azt az egy tárgyat, és azt hitték, hogy soha nem fogják elsajátítani, úgy fogod legyőzni te is! Emberek, akiknek nehézségeik vannak egyes tárgyakkal sosem fognak 5-söket szerezni, de emlékezni kell, hogy az senkit sem érdekel és a sikereidet senki sem veheti el.

2, "Hogyan beszél valaki ezen a nyelven?"
Nos, furcsa lehet hallani, de van egy anyanyelvű, aki éppen most bukik a nyelvtan órán... Senki sem mondta, hogy a nyelvek könnyűek, de meg kell tanulnunk a dolgokat perspektívába helyezni. Oka van annak, hogy egy nyelv kidolgozta azokat a szabályokat, amiket használ, és ennek eredményeként megtanulhatja azt bárki. És ne feledd: néha egy nyelvet sokkal könnyebb megtanulni filmek, zene és könyvek segítségével, tehát ha a nyelvtan az ellenség, ne hagyd, hogy legyőzzön. Száz módszer van a nyelv elsajátítására, keresd meg a tiédet.

3, "Nem csináltam házi feladatot, de majd legközelebb."
Nem, nem fogod. És ez rendben van! Amit meg kell értened, hogy a tanár le se szarja, ha a házi feladatod elvégezted (*szerző megjegyzése: sokan úgy szervezik meg az óra tervüket, hogy elvárják, hogy te megtetted a részed, és félúton találkoztok, de elég jól tudunk improvizálni). A házi feladatot nem azért adjuk neked, mert az iskolában megtanultuk, hogy ezt csinálják a tanárok ... csináljuk, mert CSAK a gyakorlás révén lehetséges egy nyelv megtanulása. Abban a pillanatban, amikor megérted, hogy a házi feladat célja, hogy segítsen neked, ez meg fog változni. Igaz, vannak olyan esetek is, amikor nem volt konkrétan ideje az embernek, és ehhez ajánlom a 4. mondatot:

4, "Sajnálom, csak fáradt vagyok."
Persze, hogy az vagy. Lehetsz egy diák, akinek 12 kurzusa van, valaki, aki mindennap 8 órában dolgozik, vagy egy háromgyerekes anyuka, vagy egy olyan menedzser, akitől az emberek függnek. Persze, hogy van életed. Ha esti órát tartunk, akkor természetesen fáradt vagy. Ha reggel nyolc óra van, bízz bennem, hogy nem Te vagy álmos, ÉN vagyok álmos. Azért vagy itt, mert nyelvvizsgára van szükséged vagy mert át kell menned egy vizsgán. És annak a vizsgának a napján 100%-ban ott leszel agyban és lélekben. Legalább tízszer jobban fogsz szerepelni, mert koncentrálhatsz rá, és nincs más dolog a fejedben. A tanárok nem a rossz teljesítmény alapján határozzák meg a nyelvtudásod... mindent látunk. Bízz bennünk, sokkal jobban hiszünk benned, mint te magadban.

5, "Nem fogom letenni a nyelvvizsga."
Igazad van. Ezzel a hozzáállással nem is fogod. Tehát változtass a hozzáállásodon! Ne feltételezd többet, hogy a tanár/ oktató utál téged a hibákért. Ha hibázol az anyanyelveden, senki sem támad meg érte! Képes vagy megérteni egy másik nyelvet, nem látod, milyen szép ez? Mi van ha a nyelvtanod nem tökéletes, vagy ha több időre van szükséged a szavak és kifejezések megjegyzésére? Legyen az a legnagyobb bajod!

+1, "Ez lehet hülyeség..."
Nem az. Megint, összetéveszthetsz két szót, helytelenül ejthetsz valamit, de tapasztalataim szerint azok az emberek, akik azt gondolják, hogy valami hülyét mondanak, harmincból huszonkilenc alkalommal a helyes választ mondják utána. Ne becsüld alá magad többet és ne feledd: az anyanyelvünkön is egyszerű hibákat követünk el. És ezek egyáltalán nem jelentik az, hogy bárki is hülye lenne vagy hülyeséget mondana. Próbálkozol, és az már a harc fele.

Friday, September 20, 2019

What's Next On My List? Atlantis: The Lost Empire

Having talked about all of these Disney cartoons that were simply underrated, I felt the need to include one of my favorites.

Milo is recruited by an old explorer to go with him on one last mission: that of discovering Atlantis. Milo possess part of a map, but the missing piece is the reason he could not venture out, nor did he have the funds. This old explorer not only gives him the rest of the map, but also a team that can help him see if there is indeed an empire lost under the sea. Once having reached their destination, the uncover a lot more than they bargained for.

I got this movie on VHS one summer, I think even a whole year after it actually came out, and I think I watched it back to back at least seven times in a row. I do think that I was fascinated by the nerdy guy getting the hottest girl. Not to mention that she isn't on of those princesses that needs saving... and ultimately, when you really look closer, Milo is only a hero at heart, but he is not physically superior to anyone, nor does he want to be. He is meant to be the brains of this operation and he remains just that. It is the side characters that step up and say out loud that there is a certain moral code they are not willing to step over. And when you think about it, this is not a kids movie... so far I have found that only those among my best friends who also have old souls in their bodies find this to be one of their favorites. There is lying, betrayal, the killing of a pensioner essentially, and well, magic, but the kind you really want to believe in. The general Disney message of: power creates monsters is still there, but there is so much more darkness surrounding it that I remember being scared. And if your child is scared, it is not a good experience for you either as a parent. Honestly, when it comes to how well an animated cartoon meant for a younger audience does at the box office, it is all about the person who has the money in the house, not the child... Another reason why all of this cartoons have adult jokes embedded as well. But being for a more mature audience does not make it any less of a great movie about a breathtaking adventure that makes you want to pack your bag and discover the world for yourself.

Watch it? I do believe this deserves a serious live action remake, and make it for adults. Just go nuts with it, dare to make it for a much older audience, and let us see where it lands. I do think I was too young when I saw it, but you see the main character and you love him and you feel his anger, disappointment, and being powerless in the face of evil. It is worth a re-visit if you haven't gotten around to it in a while.

Until the next item on my list!
_ _ _ _ _

Cree Summer - Princess Kida
Corey Burton - Moliere
James Garner - Rourke
John Mahoney - Preston Whitmore
Phil Morris - Dr. Sweet
Leonard Nimoy - Atlantean King
Don Novello - Vinny
Florence Stanley - Mrs. Packard
David Ogden Stiers - Mr. Harcourt
Jim Varney - Cookie

Thursday, September 12, 2019

What's Next On My List? Takers

As a tradition, each year in memory of Paul Walker, I review a movie that he starred in as long as I run out. I miss him terribly still... he was truly one of my favorites. This is for you, happy birthday!

A group of professional robbers come across an old member of their team who went to jail for some of his side deals. Their old member, however has some beef and wishes to take revenge on the men who left him behind. Meanwhile, two cops going through their own personal trauma decide to dive into the last robbery the team committed and get pretty close to taking down the whole gang.

It still amazes me how this movie has not blown up. It has the biggest names, not just for 2010, but today too. Starting from Idris Elba, Zoe Saldana, Matt Dillon, Hayden Christensen, and Jay Hernandez. I remember back then that, I was hyped that at the time, my two favorite actors, Walker and Christensen had a movie together. And I don't want to force my female gaze onto the viewers: but OH MY GOD, Walker looks stunning gorgeous in this movie, like he was cut from marble. But basically everyone, I just... giving them dark suits, seriously, the designer deserves all the awards. These men were dressed in the best way possible and I couldn't look away. That said, going back to the movie itself... I feel conflicted, after watching it, but I do think that was the intent of the movie. Allow me to elaborate.
We see the "bad guys", the team of robbers, and at the same time the police officers, the "good guys", as they try to crack this case. And what we see is that the line between them is terribly thin. The bad guys might have money and the skills to pull off jobs, but they also have everyday problems: they want to be married, they want to care for their siblings, their parents and try their best to not harm anyone in the meanwhile. And then we can look at the cops: one of them breaks the law just in order to not lose his family. They are not rich, and they very well know the difference between good and bad, but life pushes them to a line where they don't know how to get back from. One neglects his family, the other would do anything to save them. So what is the line between good and bad? The reason I am conflicted about this movie, is that it puts a one villain to the story, who then makes everyone else look better, both good and bad guys. But I actually LOVE that I cannot wrap my head around my feelings in this movie, because that what life really is: complicated. It is impossible for me to decide if I was rooting for the right person and I like that. Our own moral compass might not always be the best way to proceed, it is, however, how we will proceed every time and in every case. 

Watch it? I think it is a wonderfully made movie with some incredible star quality on the screen. I think it simply went unnoticed and then it disappeared because of the terrible human being that Chris Brown turned out to be... and it is a shame, because the rest of the cast should have kept it afloat. I know, because if I went and cut out all of his scenes, this movie would still be awesome. Maybe they should do that...

Until the next item on my list!
_ _ _ _

Paul Walker - John Rahway
Idris Elba - Gordon Jennings
Matt Dillon - Jack Welles
Michael Ealy - Jake Attica
Chris Brown - Jesse Attica
Jay Hernandez - Eddie Hatcher