Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Blogger: 5 Things That I Still Don't Understand

Over the past year I have become a big fan of the podcast Dear Hank And John, hosted by the VlogBrothers (about whom I have spoken a couple of times in the past entries), where, the two answer questions e-mailed by listeners, give "dubious" advice and talk about the weekly news from the planet Mars and the 3rd tier English football club AFC Wimbledon. Now, since I have been listening to it, I have reached two conclusions: people have fascinating brains and I have a million questions about the world that I never would have thought about asking from two strangers. There are things that I of course wonder about, but I never say them out loud. Also, once you fall in love with these two men, and how can you not, they are simply wonderful human beings, you too will want to have hour long conversations with them about literally anything. Around me a lot of people emphasize how it is the end of the decade, and how important that is, and well, I want to write down at least these five big questions so they do not torment me anymore in the next decade. Maybe the universe will answer me!

About Hollywood...
1) Why the make-up department doesn't give men beards when they have to make them look older?
This is something that makes me mad... first of all, yes, being attracted to facial hair is a fetish, here you go world, women have fetishes too that is not restricted to the kitchen and having a clean apartment! But most important, even if say I DO prefer EVERY male actor with ANY kind of facial hair, I just know by fact that a man with a full grown beard simply looks older. I do not understand the hours they spend on giving them lines around their eyes and mouths instead of covering their face... Especially because it is at an old age that men have enough of having to shave so often. Once the missus doesn't care, trust me, the razor goes into the bin. And of course, beards are usually associated with those men that don't really take care of themselves, or do not have the possibility to shave whatsoever, but if anything, the hipster revolution (that is what I am calling it) showcased that there is fashion and value to a well groomed goatee or mustache. And here, I am not talking about men who themselves do not like to have facial hair, but simply the make-up department and the person responsible for the look of the actors on set: GIVE THEM BEARDS IF YOU WANT THEM TO LOOK OLDER. Imagine, for a second, search for pictures of Daniel Radcliffe with a full on beard, and tell me that the last scene of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows: Part 2, that ridiculous scene where they all still look 16, would not have looked better had Harry and Ron been covered by a beard instead of a fake, what, beer belly?! That scene had "divorce" written all over it, and it made me feel like perhaps these people are way to young to be having sex... ANYWAY, culture has spoken: a well groomed beard is sexy, it is not a sign of neglect anymore, so get on it Hollywood!

About growing up...
2) Why aren't people warned about the price of cheese?
Photo by wahlerb from FreeImages
I have been living alone for a couple of years now, and dear god, I still read lists of things people compile over stuff nobody warned them about when it came to adulthood and I am offended that NONE of them list cheese! How the f*ck can a family afford cheese? Especially at the rate of which we are eating it! OK, manufacturing perhaps isn't that cheap, but think about it: there was always a slice of cheese in your sandwich growing up, how?! We are conditioned to have cheese as a necessary component to enjoy, really, ANY food at this point, come to think of it, but its price is simply outrages to me. Imagine having to go shopping without your parents for the first time in your life, and you buy 6 items, and 50% of the money you paid is just that one triangle of cheese... I am furious. I can't let this go, why did nobody warn me?!

About faith...
3) Why is climate change a question of belief?
Every single person you have a conversation with, let it be a 70+ person, or one who is only 15, will tell you that summer/winter "wasn't like this when I was young". First, it is scary that a 15 year old, someone born in the 2000s already experiences changes in the weather to this degree. Second, I find that saying that it is a Chinese hoax is no longer an argument, if you yourself are telling me and admitting how the world has changed. And my issues comes here... I do not think that the idea of climate change should be excluded because of your religious affiliations. My father told me a joke once, well, more of an example of stupidity, in my opinion, but it goes like this: Flood arrives to a little town, an old man sits in his kitchen, neighbors arrive and tell him to go with them before the flood takes over, he says "No, thank you, God will take care of me". Water rises, and he sits up on his table, when another group of neighbors arrive and ask the old man to go with them, he says "No, thank you, God will take care of me". He has to climb higher, and sits on top of the house now, when a small boat passes by and a group of stranger ask him to go with him, he says "No, God will take care of him". The old man dies and at the gates of Heaven asks God why he did not save him, when God answers that he had sent three different people to help him and he was the one to refuse their hand. I find this to be a perfect analogy, because, just looking at Noah's Ark, you cannot tell me that it would be unprecedented, if indeed your belief is that there is an omnipotent being above us, that this climate change might have been his doing. Look at pollution, look at plastic waste, at cars... we made this. If your belief dictates that you can be punished for your wrong-doing, even the kind that was involuntary, I just do not see how this does not fall into the same category. I, myself, do not believe in this entity, but from all that I have learned on religion I cannot see how one cancels out the other, unless you have a stupid preacher who focuses on one or two pages of the Bible instead of its overall teachings. #Burn. But in that case, I invite you to start looking around you not through the pages of a book, but between the lines and see what experience dictates to you.

In the kitchen...
4) Where does 1/5 of my water go when I fill it up for tea 
(while the teabag is inside)?
I know what you are gonna say... the teabag soaked it up. And yes, that is the only logical conclusion I could come to, however, when I squeeze on the bag to let out the excessive water, it is never the same amount coming out (actually, it is never more than a few drops). This is especially frustrating when I fill up my cup, and have just enough water, and then I look back and almost half of it is gone... I am not looking for a very tasty SIP of water, I f*cking want a cup of tea!!! I do not know how many times I was just sitting there watching the cup, and you know what is fun? Water NEVER disappears when you are actually looking at it, it only does when you turn away to put the kettle back. I know, I know, I should just stare at it all the time, thanks, you are very helpful... And I know I can put more water in, but I still get to be upset!


In a social setting...
5) Why does everyone feel the need to share their own method for stopping hiccups every time another person actually has the hiccups?
"You know what works for me?" No, Karen, and I don't give a f*ck either, because I am 30 and I had the pleasure of stopping a couple hundred hiccups already in my life. You can hold your breathe, take small sips of water, big sips, while holding your breathe, or swallowing a lot, and you can jump from a bridge and die because hiccups are the f*cking worst... HOWEVER, you telling me what I am doing it wrong, when I try to stop it makes me want to punch you over and over again. There is nothing constructive about this interaction, as I find that nobody is actually trying to give advice here, we are just all undermining the other's ability to stop their own effing hiccups. I can tell you that EVERY single time a different method worked for me, and I actually have to go through all of them to get rid of it every once in a while. And unless you can actually tell me something that does not involve me breathing differently and a combination of water intake, then you can keep your method to yourself, thank you very much. (Does this reaction come from the same part of our brains that claims "It's not cold once you are inside!", when we are trying to get someone to come into the water? Because that interaction has about the same value, which is 0.)

While writing this entry I got into thinking and I decided to include an extra question, as I experienced one of these just 5 seconds before posting my last entry of the decade. Thank you everyone for reading, liking and sharing my posts over the years, I look forward to year 9 of the blog! Have a super Happy New Year!

The extra question...
+) When someone says "What?" why do we only repeat the end of the sentence?
".....mhhmhhmh and Pikachu." What? "Pikachu!", oh my god, 99.9% of the cases you do not hear what someone says because you are not paying attention at the BEGINNING of the sentence. Yet, all of us, me included, always just repeat the end of the sentence. Where does that come from? Is it coded into us? I feel that this is such an instinct that we do not pick it up from our parents, or adults around us when we get older, but we do because we are wired to do so. And I find it funny, that I still do it, knowing how frustrated I am, because once I realize that someone is talking to me I do look up, listen, but only catch the end of the sentence. Let us exclude the fact that most times we realize we did in fact hear the whole sentence by the time the other repeats it, but I still find it fascinating that I cannot kick this bad habit. But let us all try, in 2020, to repeat the WHOLE sentence, not just the last word.

Friday, December 27, 2019

What's Next On My List? Let It Snow

This November a movie came out, which was based on a book by Maureen Johnson, John Green, and Lauren Myracle. The book was released in 2008, October, and since has been subject to the idea of various adaptations but not much came of it, as you might have suspected. This year it was Netflix that decided to adapt it, and I watched it straight away. I put off writing about it because I wanted to read the book first, but here we are.

The teenagers of Gracetown come together on an adventurous Christmas Eve, at the only Waffle House in their little town, after having a holiday season they will never forget. The night ends in confrontation among enemies, of their feelings, and of their biggest fears.

Let us talk about the book first. I have decided to read it after the movie came out because I have been going through a bit of a reader's block, and it was actual a John Green novel that helped me through that transition and I thought, hey, it is Christmas after all, perhaps this book will help. I am not really used to reading stories about the holiday season, I don't really have a specific reason as to why not, but I do love romantic movies and stupid stupid holiday romance Hallmark and ABC movies. I do believe that seeing the snow and the tree is something I require WHILE I am wrapping presents or crafting. As you might have guessed: it is quite hard to read a book while I am wrapping presents (and I am speaking from experience!). So even if generally I do not seek out romance stories, I did however want to read this one, because one thing became blatantly clear from the movie: these are very well crafted characters. I actually love a story that is not about a one dimensional character that goes nowhere fast... I never got romance novels where you don't understand why someone would care for that someone else once they find out about their lack of personality. The forced romance doesn't really do it for me... but what does is seeing characters that are actually as complicated as people are in real life. Just a couple of days ago I wrote about Nora Ephron, one of my favorite people, and she said: "I try to write parts for women that are as complicated and interesting as women actually are". I do find that when it comes to John Green novels, that is very true for teenagers: they are much more interesting than the raging hormonal mess that young adult movies and TV shows make them out to be. What was genius about this book was that I read three short stories, where each conveyed more personality for the main character than sometimes a 600 page book would. And the adaptation made sure to take that with it when it was re-written as a script, but... that is pretty much the only thing it did...
First off, I would like to delete from the poster that it is based on the best-selling novel, I would rather use the word "inspired by", because I understand that changes had to be made, as these three stories happened separately in the book, but actually at the same time as well, and the movie wanted to showcase that. Nonetheless, despite the names of the main characters I have found about 10 percent that is the same as the book and well... I don't care. This is a terrible adaptation and an incredibly wonderful movie, as weird as that sounds. I feel like I got two great Christmas stories that have little to nothing to do with each other, so I was still awarded for reading the book and for having seen the film. I would actually ask the opinion of what the authors thought of it, but I am sure it was great publicity for their book again, I guess that they did not mind overall. And here is the most important nugget of information: although you can see that this movie was influenced by the holiday mandatory Christmas romance movies that all end with a happy ending, this one STILL has the complex and interesting characters. Not to shit on Netflix Christmas movies, but they are short of horrible...

Watch it? Definitely. Snow does have an effect on people, and I don't know who decided to give Joan Cusack the narrator and over-arching character who kind of bring everyone together, but they deserve an award. I just love this actress so much, and the movie already had major talent with the young actors it collected, but she was just the cherry on top of the cake. I do think that everyone should see it! And, after, read the book and let it take you with it, because it is a beautiful snow-filled adventure.

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

Shameik Moore - Stuart
Odeya Rush - Addie
Liv Hewson - Dorrie
Mitchell Hope - Tobin
Miles Robbins - Billy
Anna Akana - Kerry
Joan Cusack - Tin Foil Woman

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

What's Next On My List? Mixed Nuts

I have compiled a list of Christmas movies I re-watch 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 more in detail. I have some of these on my "Best of" Christmas lists, but I have found, after years of writing my blog, that some things just deserve a bit more attention. So let us get in deeper:

A crisis hotline experiences a Christmas Eve unlike any other, it turns out, that it is them who need help to survive the holiday season, and their callers are more than happy to pitch in. In the end, the magic of Christmas brings together a pregnant woman, a transvestite, an unemployed painter, a veterinarian, and the desperate workers of the hotline in a night they will never forget.

I do believe that me and my family have been re-watching this movie every single year for almost 20 years now. December 23, while we bake gingerbread, we put this movie on and still up to today we laugh at every single joke as if we were hearing it for the first time. Nora Ephron has been one of my heroes when it comes to screenwriting. A couple of years back, after her passing, I wrote about what it was like to grow up with her movies, and there is one sentence that always resonates with me when I am writing my characters: "I try to write parts for women that are as complicated and interesting as women actually are". I find that this movie is a perfect example of that, as not only the female, but the male characters too are some of the most unbelievable, yet perfect reasonable personalities that I have ever seen on the screen. I do have to say, that this was co-written with her sister Delia Ephron, who worked on such wonderful stories as Bewitched (2005), Michael (1996), The Sisterhood of Traveling Pants (2005) and also with her sister on You've Got Mail (1998). These two women have truly been responsible for the best of the 90's and the fist decade of the 2000's, and I do feel like growing up with them helped me in my writing more than any other story out there.
Now, getting back to this movie, it is beyond me while this is not the most beloved classic in the history of Hollywood. I just had the pleasure of seeing it in the original voice, and I will say, the Hungarian dubbing added a lot of jokes, but overall, it was equally hilarious with just differently timed puns and gags. And of course, for our family the Hungarian version is closer to our hearts, but I could share it with my girlfriend finally this year as I got it on DVD, and it was delightful to see this as if it was the first time. all over again. Besides the incredible talents behind the script, the director and the crew, the cast in this movie is simply to die for. I am yet to see a movie (American! Because they always f*ck up stories with big names in them) with such a line-up of outstanding and award winning actors who work so well together and actually have a smart script behind them. I can only imagine how awesome it must have been to be on the set of this movie. 

Watch it? Yes, please. I have made it my mission to recommend this movie to everyone, because it is simply the best one I know, and every time someone mentions Christmas, I can only think of this. Also, it is a great to have something to share with my whole family. And what is more, I am not even blinded by nostalgia goggles: having shown it to a new person and them appreciating this hectic and insane story but having good laughs at the same time reassured me that I have good reason to love it and return to it every year.

Until the next item on my list!

_ _ _ _ _

Steve Martin - Philip
Rita Wilson - Catherine
Madeline Kahn - Mrs. Munchnik
Robert Klein - Mr. Lobel
Juliette Lewis - Gracie
Rob Reiner - Dr. Kinsky
Adam Sandler - Louie
Parker Posey - Rollerblader
Jon Stewart - Rollerblader

Thursday, December 19, 2019

Fresh From The Theater: Star Wars - Episode IX, The Rise of Skywalker

This review is FILLED with spoilers! 
Do not read on, unless you are curious little fella! 
_ _ _ _ _ _ _
Before we begin: I would just like to say, to everyone from the cast and JJ Abrams, f*ck you for shitting publicly on Episode VIII, which I believe critically to be one of the best movies made in this decade. And based on the outstanding reviews from various critics, it was only idiot little fans whose conspiracy theories didn't pan out that shit on it. I still don't understand HOW somebody thought that Rey was gonna be either Luke or Leia's child, like... do they seem to you like people who abandon their children??!!! Anyway, as for fan service everyone caved to the commentary of fans and I find that to be DISGUSTING. Actress Kelly Marie Tran, playing Rose, had to quit social media because people kept bullying her... do these sound like people you want to please?! WHY?! A shit-ton of things in this movie were for fan service alone as well, and they felt ridiculous. Episode VIII was a masterpiece, I was surprised and shocked and I loved every second of it. The way the cast has been openly criticizing director Rian Johnsson has been nothing short of stomach revolving and I almost didn't go see the movie. I honestly am sad that it wasn't a third director who did the movie, as it was originally planned, because I had big problems with it, but let me tell you about it in detail in my review.

Rey trains relentlessly to prepare for her fight against the First Order, now led by Kylo Ren. A spy reveals them the location of a secret fleet ready to destroy every and all planets that do not wish to succumb to the power of the First Order, and the trio of Rey, Poe and Finn get on their way to abolish them. On their way Rey's past is brought to light, and the Rebellion faces extinction like never before. Our heroes win only with unexpected help from unexpected sources.

The plot...
Here is the first and probably the biggest mistake this new trilogy made: it made us believe that the story was about something OTHER than the Skywalker's war against a dictatorship. We were all fooled. Fooled into thinking that we will get to know Poe more; that indeed there is a new legion of storm-troopers that will turn against dictatorships, or at least, that they will get more screen-time; that Han and Luke's death means that it is time for us to move on--- oh, hey Palpatine. And this is it, really, this was a new wave of kids fighting a war that apparently, and ever so conveniently, nobody was able to end. I would not have minded this had I not been fooled to believe that I am watching something far bigger than the unluckiest family in the history of this galaxy. And here my problem does not simply go back to Episode VIII, but to VII as well. I do find, upon seeing this movie, that they had no idea how they will end the saga, and well, they did an OK job, because if I remind myself, that "This is about Luke and Palpatine", than it kinda all makes sense. And even the dumbest choices come together. I wouldn't necessarily say that this movie deletes Episode VIII, but it f*cking tried its hardest and for that alone I am pissed. But... I think every movie wanted to teach us the lesson that it does not matter where we come from, only where we are going, and I love that message. EXCEPT that they were like "oh no sorry, your origin story is important after all", and the only reason I excuse it is because in the end it was not ONE who brought balance to the force, but two, two who became unexpected allies through one act of selfless kindness, and that is why prophecies can be overlooked and you should just work on being your best self.

Every Star Wars Rebels reference that wasn't...
The only reason I believe why I want to go and strangle every single person who worked on this movie, is because they knew their audience and they caved to fan service in the dumbest of ways (e.g. the kiss), and I am a fan too, so you can only imagine how excited I was for things that were shown to me in the trailer, like the infamous Ghost ship, commanded by Hera, someone who according to the canon is very much alive, just like her son. And there is the ship, to the right of the Falcon... does anything ever happen to it? Nope. Not even through a com-link or... *Screams into the void. Forget the extended universe, forget wikipedia pages, just f*cking look at something Disney made as part of the canon... WHY ARE YOU BEING SO TERRIBLE INADEQUATE ABOUT THE INCLUSION OF THIS?? Number one: "the wayfinder", aha, that is a f*cking Sith holocron. It is a mother-effing holocron, which has Sith teachings as well as maps in them, we all know, WHY can't you call it a holocron?! You own the rights to it, IT IS ALSO A DISNEY SHOW. Second, holocrons show the location of (drum roll) temples! The place where Palpatine has been hiding was so clearly a Sith Temple, and the visual elements, oh my god, it was to die for! It was so beautiful and exactly the way Rebels introduced me to it and I was in awe. But then NOBODY referenced it as a Sith Temple and I died inside a little bit again... THIS would have been very useful, because only a Sith or someone seeking the path of the dark side is actually able to open and use a holocron, so Rey's ambiguity could have been demonstrated perfectly. NOPE. No time for that, we did however, include the 5 most useless characters in the universe (more on that later). I did hear Kanan Jarrus's voice, and I trembled, because it was a beautiful scene, but it was from a character who is no longer present in the franchise, so it was still too little too late... So, I love the person who was like, "hey, we should use this", but I want to punch the person who then said "yes, but let's not actually give the fans anything really, just the idea that someone in a crew of 1000 people watched a couple of episodes of Rebels by accident". As so it was. F*ck you movie. 

And here is an important lesson that both Star Wars Rebels and Episode VIII touched upon: it isn't just about good vs. evil. Keep your mind clear, don't let your bad judgement guide you, don't succumb to feelings of hatred... all very useful ideas, but do they really work? You think Obi-Wan was not furious and filled with anger when he mutilated Anakin? Do you believe that Yoda was not scared to death for his life whilst fleeing from Palpatine? When Luke screams "NEVER!" and then starts beating the shit out of his father and destroying everything in sight, like, does that look like someone with a clear mind? No. And when Ahsoka Tano quit the Jedi order and just fought for herself, I do believe she highlighted how perhaps the Jedi order does not have it right either... here, Ben Solo in the end fought for himself and I loved that, but boy, the movie refused to say out loud again that there is enough room to question this endless war of good vs. evil, but I would have welcomed that discussion very much.

Knights of Ren...
... absolutely no need for them whatsoever. One fucking fight scene. These incredible fighters were always one single step behind the rebellion and then, instead of taking that step, they just disappeared. They were outside of the bar on Kijimi, they took no action. They got Chewie and we never saw it. I would have been scared of them, had I not forget they existed every other second. When they showed up around Ben I thought, OK, maybe this will--- oh and they are dead. Cool. Give me one scene were they answer to Palpatine, or at least they fight off a whole squadron of... something, I don't know, seriously, this was terrible writing on their part. They tried to make Kylo look more menacing, by giving him a boy-band, and then included them in about 2 of his scenes... what. I really hope somebody makes a 8 episode series out of them just so I can give a f*ck retrospectively. 

The Last Jedi...
In an article published a couple of weeks back, the late Carrie Fisher's brother revealed that the intended recipient of the title of the last Jedi was actually gonna go to Leia. And well, because of the tragic passing of the actress, that could not have been done. You see, I wish I could have seen that movie, instead of this one. And the reason I bring up this issue, is because the movie did decide to include Leia's backstory as a Jedi... but forgot... to call her... a Jedi... ONCE. Honestly, she was Rey's master, she had a lightsaber, and that flashback scene (more on that in a minute), and nobody called her a Jedi... like movie... who do you hate? The fans? The producers? The saga? Stop giving me clues and start saying things out loud. Leia's presence was immense in this movie, and I wish there was more of it. I wish she had not died in the story and would have lived on in this universe forever. In a way, she will, in others, perhaps this was the only way to get fan boys around the world to shut the f*ck up about the Skywalkers already.

The Yellow Lightsaber...
Oh boy... I HAVE SO MANY ISSUES WITH THIS. My first question is... WHERE THE F*CK DID LUKE GET A BLUE LIGHTSABER? This is an issue I have had for years now. One very important thing you need to know about the extended universe is that each Jedi earns their crystal, which is then put into their saber and used for training and teaching the ways of the Force. Now, Episode VI, final fight between Luke and Darth Vader, we see Luke's own saber, not the one inherited from Obi-Wan, but his own, glowing green. Fast forward to Episode XI, this very movie, flashback scene of Luke and Leia training, he has his green saber, great, OK. Back to Episode VII: blue saber. HOW?! WHAT AM I MISSING? And here is my issue with Rey's saber: so, we know she needs a crystal, OK, she got a yellow one, this is not the first time we see a saber of this color, not the problem, my problem is that Jedi earn their crystals in Jedi Temples which... AFTER HAVING A SITH TEMPLE, would have been the effing easiest thing to include in this goddamn movie. Instead of a shitty scene about literally-no-one-cares-Tatooine, why not let us see that Rey got her own saber? Not to mention, that beforehand she buries Luke's and Leia's, which to me said that the fight between good and evil is over and she won't fight it either, oh no, wait, yes she will, just with her own. Cool. *Screams into the void. The way in which the last scenes were cut after each other was terribly done.

The Title of The Movie...
This is I believe still debatable. See, besides the... whatever scene at the end of the movie that was like "you wanted her to be Luke's daughter? Here you go!", I will proclaim that the title was in reference to Kylo. Although, physically speaking, Rey rose from the ground and kept on fighting, the real protagonist who had to rise above everyone's expectations was Kylo Ren, as in Ben. When Palpatine throws him off, he calls him a Skywalker, which to me had much more weight to it then Rey's final scene did. Rey might live on for their legacy, but I also think that the name she chose for herself was on the much more literal sense, as in someone who walks in the sky. (This is the dumbest example, but as bastards born in the North in Game of Thrones bear the name Snow, she too is someone who lives among the stars and is a sky-walker. I don't know if that makes sense to you, but it does to me.) Overall, I think the title really is up for interpretation, and I want to take the literal sense because of that little boy in Episode VIII who used the Force, because of Finn who sensed Rey's death miles away from her, and for all the Jedi that died in the Clone Wars who were NOT of the Skywalker blood lineage. This f*cking family is not the only one in the galaxy, and fine, the Palpatines also procreated apparently, but don't take away from me the hope of finding the Force myself one day.

Kylo Ren was irredeemable. His death was sad, but also, the only way it could have ended. I will not argue with that, just wish to know why Rey's body remained there long enough to be saved, while he joined... the Force? Or the Dark Side? Again... these fucking clues that lead nowhere... I wish she would have burned his body like Luke did with Vader.

Moments that made this movie worth it...
Honestly, not that I have written all of this down, I can tell you, that I actually liked the movie a lot. First, knowing that this was about nothing more than the Skywalkers lowered my expectations and those expectations were actually met. Second, the casting was once again fabulous. I am honestly very happy that they cast Adam Driver for this conflicted character, because his smile at the end, and the action hero that he turned into left me in awe. Third, still back to Kylo, his fight scenes with Rey were incredible. I loved how their connection was always used to move the story forward. You could tell that these two share a very different bond that we are used to in this universe, and I welcomed that bond. I still feel like there is so much more to the Force than the cinematic universe allows to show us, and that is another reason why Episode VIII was so marvelous. Fourth, Rey remained, overall, a gender-less character. She showed affection left and right, but I did find it amazing that they have kept her a neutral hero. There is this adorable scene where a girl tries to befriend her and you can see her sweet side, but it isn't more feminine than necessary. Her character was not defined by her sex and I actually adore that about the story. Every single female character in this series was on the equal level as the male characters, sometimes perhaps even exceeding, and it did that without making jokes about it or acknowledging it as something weird or unprecedented. Every character in the movie actually came full circle and that too was very well done. Fifth, Luke's scenes felt close to my heart, like when Obi-Wan returned for him. Him admitting to be wrong was also very important, because some things in life you just cannot avoid, and trying to avoid it leads to more trouble. Just because someone is dressed as an old wise man, they might still be in need of lessons to learn. Sixth, there was a clear lesbian kiss shoved into our face and I almost screamed from joy! F*ck yeah! Equality and love for all.

... and to all the people who worked on this movie: if you want to argue with me that most of your decision were NOT based on fan service, I will direct you to the scene where random Maz Kanata (who now fights for the rebellion, OK, cool), hands Chewie a medal. You know, the thing EVERYONE on the internet was bitching about, after re-watching Episode IV back in 2015. Come and tell me to my face that you were NOT influenced by a bunch of loud people on the internet. This is why Disney should stop making movies and focus on separate series playing out in this galaxy, like The Mandalorian: pre-set 8 episodes without outside interference. It is the most watched show in the decade, and they did NOT give in to fan service. And this is very important because, hear me out, the fans CAN be wrong. So much so, that I am willing to except criticism on anything I have written down here. I could be wrong too and I welcome discussion on this topic.

Watch it? Sure, why the f*ck not. If you are one of those people who whined about Episode VIII because your little brain cannot comprehend the extent of a good movie when it is in front of you, then this movie, which explains everything in almost obnoxious detail, for the exception of things that might be cause for controversy, will be perfect for you. They played it safe, they so clearly played it safe to make as much money as possible, and I am mad about that. However, I was happy to have seen it and will probably watch it again many times, because even if I had many theories and my own expectations, I accept that I was not the one who was writing the script and they are not inside my head. I will not be one of those people who hate on it without proper argumentation. And I find that this blog entry was just about enough to showcase that this is in no way a perfect movie. I will, however, give them credit, because I cried like a baby at many scenes, and I felt touched to see as much of Leia and Luke and Han as I could, and I will also acknowledge that the movie makers had a lot of pressure on them to finish this saga. This is in no way as bad as I made it out to be, I can tell you that the minute I realized that this isn't about Rey, but it is still about Palpatine's revenge, I cleared my mind and welcomed every little thing. I am sure that upon re-watching it I will love and hate more things as well. But for now, I say goodbye to this trio of young heroes and move on from this galaxy far far away.

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

Rey - Daisy Ridley
Finn - John Boyega
Poe Dameron - Oscar Isaac
Kylo Ren, Ben - Adam Driver
Leia Organa - Carrie Fisher
Rose Tico - Kelly Marie Tran
General Hux - Domnhall Gleeson
Chewbacca - Joonas Suotamo
C-3PO - Anthony Daniels
General Pryde - Richard E. Grant
Zorii Bliss - Keri Russell
Luke Skywalker Mark Hamill
Palpatine - Ian McDiarmid

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

What's Next On My List? How The Grinch Stole Christmas

I have compiled a list of Christmas movies I re-watch 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 more in detail. I have some of these on my "Best of" Christmas lists, but I have found, after years of writing my blog, that some things just deserve a bit more attention. So let us get in deeper:

Just above Whoville lives a green who, who hates Christmas, but nobody knows why. One little girl, however is determined to find out, and her search finds not only the pain that makes the Grinch hate Christmas, but the way to increase his heart big enough to care once again. And finally all learn that Christmas doesn't come from the store, Christmas is something more.

I remember when this movie came out and me and my brother went to see it at the only cinema place in Rome that had original voice. He, having had a bit of an American upbringing, with all the shows and movies and books he had read, he was definitely deep into American children classics. We were super excited to see this one, because we love Jim Carrey. And well... we loved it. This is still, up to today, one of our favorite holiday movies. So we were hurt when we found out that the American audience was not happy about it... of course, I understand that it was a movie that gave a lot of background to a story that is quite simple and they did not care for that. However... what I am sure they have not anticipated that the European audience, for example, the ones that have never encountered Dr. Seuss and have not grown up on his rhymes, do not take this so seriously... I do not care if the Grinch's reason for hating Christmas isn't because of a heartbreak or children making fun of him, because it does not matter! It matters that somebody cared enough to make him care too. And looking at the original, when I see the pure spirit of Cindy Lou Who... that is the same spirit I felt in this movie. I do believe that an adaptation is good when it makes you learn the same moral lesson as the story it wanted to adapt. 

Watch it? Oh my god, YES! I actually saw a lot of critics admitting, that even if they don't like this movie as an adaptation, they really do enjoy it as a holiday movie on its own. This is a wonderful movie, who cares where the original story is coming from?! Is the story sound? Yes. Are the actors good? OMG, best cast ever. Is the music good? Yes, it introduced me to the original and I am glad it did. On top of that, it is funny, cute, and heartwarming, and it made me want to live in Whoville more than the original book did. This movie was my childhood and I embrace it!

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

Jim Carrey - Grinch
Taylor Momsen - Cindy Lou Who
Jeffrey Tambor - Mayor Augustus Maywho
Christine Baranski - Martha May Whovier
Bill Irwin - Lou Lou Who
Molly Shannon - Betty Lou Who
Clint Howard - Whobris

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Fresh From The Theater: Last Christmas

After I watched an interview with Emma Thompson about how she wrote this movie, and having met the wonderful George Michael before he passed, I just got extra excited about the movie and me and my girlfriend got tickets and put on our Christmas sweaters and headed to the movies. [This review does NOT contain spoilers!]

Kate is trying to break into show business with her singing, but all the signs point to the fact that perhaps she should find her place in the world someplace else. Her lack of success pushes her to stop taking care of herself, until she meets a man who is nothing but self-less. Meeting someone who spends his life giving back, makes Kate realize that she has been selfish and without a purpose for too long. This Christmas she decides to turn her life around, and touch a few hearts while she is doing it.

As we were watching the movie, at one point, my girlfriend turned to me and said, "I think I know what the twist is!", and at that point I did not even think that there would a big twist, but I guessed it right there and then. And you know what, I was still not disappointed. Without giving anything away, I find that this movie was about self-love, and I do not see many stories that focus on this. You know, how American TV channels have like a hundred Christmas movies each year, all about the importance and the magic of Christmas and the holiday season and well... the British still do it better. Both Love Actually and the first Nativity (BBC), for example, as well as this movie, are about something much more. First, there are great stories out there that can be made even more interesting in the Christmas season, and not the other way around. American movies about the holidays would have no real plot or even interesting characters (well, most of them) without it being played out on Christmas Eve... here, of course, the story is inspired by Wham!'s most famous song, so the story has to play out in the holiday season, but more importantly, it would work without it too.
Second, you are fooled to believing that this is another romantic story, and it is, but as I said, it is about self love and not just finding yet another person to kiss under the mistletoe. Kate gave up on herself and it is actually a good night's sleep and owning her fear in life that pushes her to watch out for herself. The thing she was missing the most was there all along, and I find that message incredibly important. And once she cares for herself, she finally has the ability to care for others. Third, and most important to me, the movie has a gentle yet powerful message about the current cultural and political situation following Brexit in the UK. Which, so far, not many movies tried to do, and well, you would not expect it in this story, but that just shows the genius of Emma Thompson.

Watch it? It is definitely not something you want to miss out while it is still on the big screens. This movie was one of the funniest things I have seen in years, not to mention that I love Christmas and this movie had just the right amount of magic that I know the season brings with it. For me it became an immediate classic and I cannot wait to share it with everyone else!

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

Emma Thompson - Petra
Lydia Leonard - Marta
Michelle Yeoh - Santa

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

What's Next On My List? The Santa Clause

I have compiled a list of Christmas movies I re-watch 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 more in detail. I have some of these on my "Best of" Christmas lists, but I have found, after years of writing my blog, that some things just deserve a bit more attention. So let us get in deeper:

Scott Calvin finds Santa Claus on his roof, and accidentally makes him fall off of it too... in an attempt to make his son happy, he puts on the coat and helps deliver toys on Christmas Eve. The next morning he wakes up in bed, and it all seems like a dream, but perhaps it was not... as the months pass, he gets more and more excited about Christmas, not to mention, that his appearance changes slowly and his ex-wife starts to worry about his impact in their son's life. The events of a magical Christmas night unfold and Scott ends up being much more than just a good father to his boy.

I don't even remember how young I was when I saw this movie for the first time, but it is definitely one of my favorites. I still believe that I have not seen any holiday movie made for families as smart as this one. Not only is it funny, but there is actual growth from the characters, not to mention, very serious moments. At one point Scott is thought of being insane and taking this magic fairy tale too far, and his ex-wife sues for custody of their child. I have found that this movie highlights how the holiday season should be both about the children and the adults, particularly those who no longer believe in the magic of Christmas. I decided not to re-watch this movie every year, because I like to forget the little details, and that way it holds a bit of magic every time I go back to it. I do, however, love it very much and will surely show it to my own children, to teach them about the magic of the holiday season.

Watch it? I do believe that the sequels were not equally well received, and that might have in retrospect shone a bad light on this otherwise genius movie. And well, the sequels are silly, but they are nearly not as bad as some TV movies that I had the pleasure to see. This is a family movie and as a result the kid that I was grew to love it, and the child in me today is still reminiscent of the magic that is waiting for a sweet-hearted man to come and gift me for having been a good child!

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

Tim Allen - Scott Calvin
Wendy Crewson - Laura
Eric Lloyd - Charlie
David Krumholtz - Bernard