Friday, December 31, 2010

Favorite Moments of 2010

With the year ending, a lot of people and publications have been coming up with their Top 10 lists of 2010. Time Magazine named its Person of the Year as Mark Zuckerberg which I personally disagree with. I despise Facebook's ever changing layout and its lack of "Reply to Sender [Only]" feature in its message section.

The Onion published its list of The People who Mattered in 2010. My favorite person on the list is Glenn Beck and his blurb reads: "Glenn Beck - The Lone Voice Of Reason In An Age Of Hysteria. Every single day of 2010, Beck's quiet words of humility and reason have touched the hearts of all Americans, healing countless wounds and elevating the level of our national discourse."

So before 2010 ends in a few hours, let me squeeze in my list of my favorite moments of 2010. I can't remember much of the first half of the year, so my list only contains two items:

  1. Sofia Vergara on Ellen

  2. Everything Florence + the Machine related

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas Eve!!!

Friday, December 17, 2010

The Pillars of the Earth

Update: I just finished watching the 8 part mini-series since starting it last night. What a great series! I absolutely love John Adams from 2 years ago and now The Pillars of the Earth. I have a new found appreciation for mini-series. Each episode of The Pillars of the Earth was so enthralling with each part being like a really good movie. And, unlike tv shows, it doesn't drag on. What makes it all even better is the rewarding ending of the series.

So, I definitely recommend it. It's on Netflix instant watch right now. Go watch!

I decided to find out what The Pillars of the Earth is all about after seeing it on the list of nominees for the Golden Globes.

It has quite a star ensemble that includes actors and actresses whose faces are familiar but whose names are difficult to recall. So, it features:
  • Hayley Atwell - Lady Julia Flyte in Brideshead Revisited
  • Eddie Redmayne - Antony Baekeland in Savage Grace
  • Matthew Macfadyen - Mr. Darcy in Pride & Prejudice
  • Rufus Sewell - he's been in a score of films like A Knight's Tale, but I know him best from Paris, je t'aime's first short film.
  • Alison Pill - who looks so familiar, but I haven't seen any of her films
  • Donald Sutherland - who needs no introduction (Yes, Mr. Bennet in Pride & Prejudice).
  • Sorry, lists are so boring.
The set, cinematography, and special effects kind of remind me of the History Channel, which is not necessary the best thing. But I think the story line is quite engaging. At first, the story was a bit confusing. There are two seemingly disconnected story lines--one about the shifting power in the monarchy and one about a master builder who is trying to build a cathedral. Ultimately, these stories become intertwined and characters bond and fight. After watching the first episode, I really want to know what happens next.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Favorite time of the year!

It's my favorite time of the year! No, it's not Christmas (although I do love Christmas). It's award season which kicked off on Tuesday by the Golden Globes! Yesterday, Screen Actors Guild came out with its nominations for the SAG Awards. So after a whole year of cinema-going, we finally get to see which films are considered the best by industry insiders. But, of course, since most nominated films are shown at the end of the year, close to the nomination consideration period, we I really haven't seen any of the films (I'll just speak for myself. I've only been to the movies a handful of times this year including the time to watch the god-awful Clash of the Titans--I predict it will earn several Razzies this year. And with Netflix, I just don't want to pay more to watch a film.)

So the top nominees this year for both the Golden Globes and SAG Awards are...The King's Speech (which I mentioned on this blog after it won the Toronto Film Festival's People's Choice Award) and The Fighter. Other notable nominees are The Social Network, Black Swan, andThe Kids Are All Right.
How's the view, Geoffrey Rush?
Déjà vu???
I am particularly happy for Natalie Portman for her Best Actress nomination in a Leading Role for Black Swan at both the Globes and SAG. She seems so genuine, smart, and amiable. And I think it's about time for her to be in the spotlight after her roles in Garden State, Closer, and V for Vendetta.
What the what? Who is who?
A real black swan that I shot at Leeds Castle.

Natalie, what are you doing? It's like what you did in Closer but classier.

On the television front, I am hoping to see The Big C take home some awards at the Globes especially for Laura Linney. Strangely, The Big C is not nominated at all that the SAG Awards. I would also love to see Modern Family, which is the top nominee at the SAG with 4 nominations, win some awards. Modern Family is a show that I've been trying to catch up with on Netflix, and it's been giving me some great laughs.

Gabourey, your career is lasting a lot longer than you expected, huh! Oprah's prediction came true!
What a lovely neighborhood you live in!
Oh, hi everyone.

Temple Grandin, a made-for-television movie, was a big winner at the Emmy's earlier this year and again a big nominee for the SAG and Globes. Having seen Temple Grandin in person, I can testify that Claire Danes' performance was a perfect portrayal of Grandin. Read my thoughts on Temple Grandin here.
I am little bit disappointed to see Dexter nominated for so many awards. I am a huge fan of Dexter in the past. I absolutely loved seasons one through four, but season five is just awful, so much so that I stopped watching half way through. Michael C Hall should have done what Katherine Heigl did and withdrew from award consideration.
Sadly, the on-screen siblings and real-life couple recently filed for divorce. Awkward~

Anyways, I wish I can go on and on but this post has already gone on too long! So last two things: I was particularly intrigued by Nicole Kidman's nomination for Best Actress for her role in Rabbit Hole. I definitely want to see what this film is all about.
Looks interesting right?

And when will Julianne Moore ever win her big prize???
Oh WhAt! Julianne, I didn't know you were the La Grande Odalisque in real life! You sure are popular around here! Can you hear a thing?

Saturday, December 11, 2010

The Eden Project II

Over a month passed since my first post on my vegetable garden. Here are some new photos!

The peas have gotten really tall. The trellis I set up isn't quite enough, so I found them all bend over one morning. The peas have been blocking the sun from reaching the sweet potatoes on the left. Those little guys aren't doing as well these days.
They're quite pretty, aren't they?
The first pea!
I'm going to harvest the lettuce when I get the chance.
The beets are peeking through the soil.
I watched a Youtube video on Fibonacci numbers and how they apply to nature the other day. I can't help but think of how they're applied to these carrot leaves. On a different note, I think they are almost ready for harvest!
Tomato blossoms
Tomatoes--I'm quite surprised that they are growing! Oh California weather.
Some lemons are ripe. The lemon blossoms smell really good.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Castle Walls

Christina Aguilera seems to had a pretty terrible year. Her album Bionics was a huge letdown and disregarded by the public. Her attempt to reinvent herself landed her criticism for trying to be like Lady Gaga. (Have you seen her video "Not Myself Tonight"? It was horrendous!!!) Then she went through a divorce. And last week her acting debut in Burlesque was released in theatres--it's not doing as well as expected either. BUT her latest song "Castle Walls", a collaboration with T.I., is pretty catchy!

T.I. feat. Christina Aguilera - Castle Walls

Although the two are wading in the wake left by Eminem and Rihanna in "Love the Way You Lie" (the songs are produced by the same producer), I can't stop listening to "Castle Walls"!

Monday, November 22, 2010

I love postcards

They are pretty much the perfect gift/ least for me. Here are two that I got recently. I wish I were there!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Russian Ark

Russian Ark is probably the strangest film I have seen. Dogville is a close contender but I couldn't watch pass the first ten minutes of it. So Russian Ark is the most unusual film I have seen from start to end. It is one of those films that is better talked about than watched. And indeed, the "Making of the Film" feature in the DVD is more interesting than the film itself.
I read about the film on a blog and the blogger listed Russian Ark as his top 10 films EVER. In addition, Roger Ebert wrote that this film is "one of the most astonishing films ever made." It was also one of the films in competition at the 2002 Cannes Film Festival. What more? The film is done in one single take--basically a 96 minute long take. Sounds pretty amazing to me!
The Russian Ark as referred to in the title is the Hermitage Museum housed in the Winter Palace. It contains Russia's history, culture, and art. It was a place of opulence during the time of the monarchy, struggle during the time of war, and pride as it is today for the Russian people. The film's goal is to show us all of this.
The plot of the film (or rather the lack of plot) is what really makes it strange, and it is also my chief complaint. There really is no plot. And what there is is a cursory journey through Russian history with little explanation. We are simply dumped into Russian Ark with a pretty bad guide/protagonist. This guide--the most unattractive guide with the worst wig and breathing noise--who takes us through the palace then museum by a kind of seamless time travel that spans over 300 years. What we see are incidents that happened in the past (many historical events which I have no knowledge of or people who I did not recognize making the experience meaningless to me), the beauty of the architecture, the art that is housed there, and the people who lived there.

While it is a pretty bewildering journey, what is astonishing is the technical, filming aspect of the movie. Done in one 96 minute single take, it is an incredible technical achievement. It is seamless, beautiful, and dramatic. The camera movement is fluid and enchanting. It is a feast for the eyes. Ultimately, it is an experimental film that is an art piece. And with art pieces, they can be hard to understand.

My favorite sequence of the film.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

I Cried for You

Katie Melua - I Cried for You

A mesmerizing video.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Big C

In addition to all the movies that I watch, I try to keep up with a few TV shows. This fall I started watching The Big C which stars one of my favorite actress, Laura Linney, in the role of Cathy Jamison. The Big C has become my favorite show thanks to Dexter being a little bit slow messy this season, Cristina Yang being frustrating and annoying on Grey's Anatomy, CSI being a hit or miss each episode (although the ongoing storyline is fantastic!), Glee being never really that great except for its singing, and White Collar being just kind of boring.
Laura Linney as Cathy Jamison

The "C" in The Big C stands for a couple of things I suppose. First and foremost, it stands for Cathy who is a suburban but separated wife, a mother, a teacher, and, as she realizes in the start of the season, a terminal cancer patient. Before being diagnosed with cancer, Cathy was reserved and pretty much a prude. But when she finds out she only has a year to live, she lets go of her inhibitions and tries to live out her life to the fullest with all the time (and money) she has left. Not wanting to burden her family and friends with the news, she does this without telling those closest to her: her son, husband, brother, best friend from college.
Gabriel Basso as Adam Jamison

She does some pretty crazy things--withdrawing her 401(k), paying someone double the price to build a pool in her backyard, burning her old couch, forcing her son to spend time with her. But she also does some great things for her student played by Gabourey Sidibe and old grumpy neighbor (who is such an important and wonderful character).
John Benjamin Hickey as Sean Tolkey

The show was originally billed as a comedy, but I think it strikes a great balance between a well-written comedy and a touching drama especially as the show goes on. The show is much more than what meets the eye. It's not just about a woman with cancer but about the struggle, turmoil, and surprise that we face as people and the way we react or retract from them. I think each and one of us can find a little bit of us within the show.
Cynthia Nixon as Rebecca

All in all, at just 30 minutes an episode, I can never get enough of it. It always leaves me feeling good. The season finale aired this Monday, and I have to say it was one of the best episode I have seen of all the shows I keep up with this TV season. The ending is bittersweet and rewarding for the audience to watch. It really builds up to a second season that I am look forward to watching.
Oliver Platt as Paul Jamison

Saturday, November 13, 2010

I never thought this day would come!!!

What a glorious day! I hope she stays out of house arrest this time to make some real changes to her nation.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Do we need a Hollywood remake of everything?

The answer is no.
This lovely article was featured on the front page of the Guardian yesterday. It's an interesting read, not only about the unfortunate inevitability of remakes, but also about how foreign films are perceived in the US market.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

The Eden Project

So I finally took some better photos of my garden project that started this summer. There was a patch of land in my backyard with some poorly grown sweet potato, a dead persimmon tree, and a small section that was unused. So I plowed the land and reworked the clay-heavy soil by adding some mulch, manure, and compost in hopes of making the soil better. And now I have some carrots, onions, beets, lettuce, peas, and sweet potatoes growing. Along the way, some random plants popped up too!

One thing I learned about beets is to not transfer them; they usually die after transferring. One beet seed usually gives multiple seedlings so just pluck out the extra ones.

4 rows of carrots, 2 rows of onions, 3 rows of beets, 2 of lettuce, 1 of peas, and 4 sweet potato plants

My camera's humble attempt at capturing a butterfly flying.

Tomato plant that grew by itself.

Squash/melon plant that grew naturally. Not sure what kind it is yet.

This was literally in my face when I saw it while plucking weeds. It may take a few seconds to see it...