Saturday, February 5, 2011

Movies for Mom & Dad

It’s the holidays – Lunar New Year, to be specific. This means that Seoul is a bit empty as many families saunter back to their far-flung hometowns to ring-in the new year with relatives. I started writing this post in a mostly empty A Twosome Place on Friday. It’s now Sunday, just after noon, and I’m finishing writing this post in a central Starbucks in Myeong-dong and it’s EMPTY. Nice. Cushy seats and a wall outlet for me.

I’ve mentioned this before, but recently I read something that helps to put things in proper perspective. Korea is a country with a significantly greater population than my home country (48,875,000 to Canada’s 34,345,000). Considering the area, that equals a population density of 491 people/km squared compared to Canada’s 3.41 people/km squared. That’s pretty crazy. Know it would be more accurate to measure the corridors of Canada as opposed to including the areas of permafrost, but it’s far more impressive the other way.

Anyway, roughly 75% of South Koreans live in the Seoul metropolitan area, and at least 50% of them head out of town at this time of year as well as Chuseok in September of October. It makes for a much easier time getting a seat on the subway, that’s for sure. Just try and imagine the clogged roads throughout the peninsula – winding through all of the mountains and hugging the coastlines. Imagine all Canadian citizens (plus 14 million more) cramming the highways and by-ways of a place about just this side of twice the size of Nova Scotia all at once. It sounds very unpleasant to me. Especially considering that they all leave and return in the same direction at roughly the same time. Yeesh.

Anyway, as it turns out, I’m going nowhere – nowhere, that is, except to meet-up with some friends for some games, going to movies, and heading to the hospital for the odd blood test. It’s a very low-key time off. I’ve been low-key Dave for some time now, actually. I don’t mind it – I suppose it’s necessary. After-all, I’m old and my legs don’t really work, so I may as well conduct myself accordingly. I was very busy in the fall, and I’m about to get very busy again, so if I want to sleep-in each day while I’m not working, then so be it.

I’m getting tired easily these days. I’m going to blame it partly on the grayish weather and the fact that I haven’t really been able to get-around as freely as I would like for some time. It was 3 weeks of hobbling plus a week in the hospital, plus a week of bed rest at home, after all. I’m also going to blame it on these blood-thinners that I’ve been taking everyday. My ankles are much better, but I still have this big, colourful sack-o-pills to enjoy. Had blood tests today, and will see the doctor again tomorrow for an update once the results are in.

Wow – reading that over, it seems as though I’ve been leading a bit of a boring life. Mayhaps. But it’s re-grouping time, it seems. Gotta do what I gotta do. I suppose I should also mention that a week tomorrow was the day I had scheduled to go to Thailand. I had to cancel do to my illness, and it’s highly unlikely I’ll be seeing any money back from the canceled ticket. That makes me sad, but I’m equally sad about the fact that I won’t be in Thailand in a week. The trip that had changed in focus more than any other I’ve ever planned just won’t be happening. The whole deal just got more and more disappointing, until finally, it doesn’t exist at all for me. That sucks. I was looking forward to seeing some friendly fish and would have appreciated the chance to travel with a friend. Oh, well.

In the meantime, I have been doing a lot of reading, relaxing, and I have seen a lot of movies. I used to review them all, but haven’t had the time or energy these days to review any of them properly. Anyway, I’m not going to write any proper review here either, mostly because I don’t have the time. Instead, I’ll offer the titles of some movies I’ve seen since the summer, at home or at the theatre, along with very short review (how I liked it), and a recommendation to my parents on whether or not I think they should see it. Aside from the first one, I hope that you guys check them all out – head over to Auntie’s and take advantage of the Blue Ray and the big screen. Sandy and Jay, you too…

Here we go…

Movies I Saw in the last few months that mom and dad might like, plus one to avoid. – some were suggestions of the rabbit’s, some were suggestions of mine…

Eat, Pray, Love

Julia Roberts breaks-up with her husband because she’s bored, so she inexplicably gets a 6-figure advance to travel around the world, have unremarkable experiences, and write a book about it. There was talk of another Oscar nomination for Roberts. That talk was short-lived.

Bill Maher said: “If your girlfriend gets to take you to a movie called ‘Eat, Pray, Love’, then you should be able to take her to a movie called ‘Football, Jerk-off, Nap.”

Mom & Dad – there’s very little here aside from some nice scenery of Italy and Bali. The rest is well beneath you, unless you enjoy stories about privileged pretty people who cry about their lot in life. Don’t bother. Auntie, you’ll be tempted because of the Itlalian locales, but no… just, no. Re-watch Roman Holiday instead and then be glad that you once saw all those cool things in-person, and in colour.

Last Chance Harvey

Dustin Hoffman loses his job, flies to London to attend his estranged daughter’s wedding, meets Emma Thompson, and they admit the romantic potential between them in the middle-to-twilight of their lives.

Roger Ebert says: “Last Chance Harvey is a tremendously appealing love story surrounded by a movie not worthy of it.”

Mom & Dad – I found both lead characters to be captivating, charming, and real. I think you’ll see them the same way. Emma Thompson will make you cry as she did in Love Actually. Rent this one for Valentine's Day.

The Social Network

Bill Maher said: “Nobody wants to see a movie about Facebook. What's the big Second Act crisis, a server going down? If this is a hit, what next? "Google: The Musical?" "Craigslist 3D - The Search For A Slightly Used Rowing Machine?" They might as well make a sitcom out of that blog where some guy just repeats shit his dad says.”

Mom & Dad – This is the story of a Harvard student who gets dumped by his girlfriend and uses his negative feelings surrounding the experience to fuel him toward the creation of facebook, stepping on a number of friends and colleagues along the way. The script is by Aaron Sorkin of The West Wing, so mom – you’ll love the dialogue. Also, with all of the deposition hearings, it’s like the 2nd act of Law & Order without the murder. It says a lot about who we are as social animals today.

The Fighter

Mark Wahlberg is a small town Massachusetts boxer and Christian Bale is his meth, oxy cotton, heroin, and crack-addicted brother who is living for his own former boxing glory. Wahlberg fights against his insanely trashy family to decide what’s best for his future.

Roger Ebert says – “Micky Ward has less personality than the hero of any other boxing movie I can remember. Maybe that's because he can't get a word in edgewise. He has a motormouth crackhead for a brother, a mom who acts as his manager and seven blond-headed sisters who seem to be on a break from a musical being filmed on the next sound stage. It's easy to imagine Micky growing up in this family and sitting ignored in the corner.”

Mom & Dad – This movie has some fantastic character performances. The family is so strange and unlikeable, but you can’t take your eyes off of them. You feel like a part of the odd-ball crew by the time it’s all over.

127 Hours

James Franco plays-out the brutal 5-day period of Aaron Rolston who, in 2003, got trapped by a boulder while solo-hiking in Utah, and after 5 days, realized that his only way out was to cut-off his own arm with a multi-tool and hike on out of there.

Roger Ebert says – “Is the film watchable? Yes, compulsively. Films like this don’t move quickly or slowly, they seem to take place all in the same moment. They prey on our own deep fear of being trapped somewhere and understanding that there doesn’t seem to be any way to escape.”

Mom & Dad – don’t let the possibility of gore scare you. This is up for Best Picture and Best Actor for good reason. It’s about family and waking-up. I really hope you guys see this one.

True Grit

A remake of the 1969 Oscar-winning film, this time starring Jeff Bridges instead of John Wayne. A 14 year-old girl hires a drunken lawman to track down the varmint that shot her pa. Classic western movie ensues.

Roger Ebert says – “The story hinges on the steely resolve of a girl who has been raised in the eye-for-an eye Old West, seen some bad sights and picked up her values from the kind of old man who can go and get hisself shot.”

Mom & Dad – I watched this movie and thought of you guys the whole way through. The dialogue is wonderful and the characters - so colorful. You’ll be giggling like twits from beginning to end. Such a good movie.


Leonardo DiCaprio hires a team of specialists to follow him into constructed dream scapes to retrieve information from targeted human beings, or to plant information there.

Roger Ebert Says –“We are always in the Now. We have made some notes while getting Here, but we are not quite sure where Here is. Yet matters of life, death and the heart are involved--oh, and those multi-national corporations, of course. And Nolan doesn't pause before using well-crafted scenes from spycraft or espionage, including a clever scheme on board a 747 (even explaining why it must be a 747). The movie is a perplexing labyrinth without a simple through-line, and is sure to inspire truly endless analysis on the web.”

Mom & Dad – This was maybe my favourite movie this past year. You will NOT understand what the hell is going on in the first 15 minutes, but give it time. It’s such a rewarding movie-watching experience – you’ve never had to work so hard in a movie, and you’ll be rewarded for doing so. It’s exciting to feel your brain racing in the red for 2 hours.

Shutter Island

Leonardo DiCaprio (Teddy) is a cop who recently lost his wife in a fire. He is asked to accompany his new partner to a remote, civil war era, island prison off the Massachusetts coast to uncover a mystery of a missing inmate. He discovers something more sinister possibly being conducted under the watchful eye of the prison’s doctors.

Roger Ebert Says – “It's clear that Teddy has no idea what he's getting himself into. Teddy -- such an innocuous name in such a gothic setting. Scorsese, working from a novel by Dennis Lehane, seems to be telling a simple enough story here; the woman is missing, and Teddy and Chuck will look for her. But the cold, gray walls clamp in on them, and the offices of Cawley and his colleagues, furnished for the Civil War commanding officers, seem borrowed from a tale by Edgar Allan Poe.”

Mom & Dad – This movie is so involving – mostly because you will have a whole new set of questions to ask every 15 minutes or so. There are many high tension moments, as well as a handful of spooky scenes, but there is a whole new feeling that will wash over you when it all wraps-up. You will want to watch this movie again IMMEDIATELY after you finish. I saw this twice in the theatre and it was fun to piece it together with all of the new information I had from the first viewing.

So there ya go, mom & dad. Do as Ricky Gervais says and avoid The Tourist. It may be in the cheap theatres, but it sounds like a waste of time. Check these movies out and let me know what you think.

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