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/souvenir...at 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...

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Follow me.

Move over smart


Aston Martin Cygnet

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

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Helsinki, December 2009

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

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Ai Weiwei

Sunflower Seeds

Unilever Series

Turbine Hall

Tate Modern

Utterly incredible. Follow me.

Too bad it can't be walked on anymore.

Monday, November 1, 2010

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