"When the world is running down, you make the best of what's still around"

Film Wrap-up for 2006

By Shanathalas
Last year was a banner year for film. I haven't seen such quantity of quality films in ages. For a long time there it was a matter of picking a few good ones amongst a veritable sea of crap films. As the Oscars approach, I reveal my favourites, whether they were actually nominated or not.

Best Film: The Departed
Runners up: Pan's Labyrinth, Children of Men
This one was very hard. I just kept seeing movies that seemed so great. Choosing an absolute favourite from these three was hard, but The Departed just seemed like the most complete piece in the gallery. Pan's Labyrinth was visually stunning, and Children of Men was just so poignant.

Best Actor: Clive Owen (Children of Men)
Runners up: Leonardo Di'Caprio (Departed), Kazunari Ninomiya (Letters from Iwo Jima).
Clive Owen gave the most un-stereotypical performance in years. Tough but sensitive, cynical but hopeful, a man who knows there's no point trying and yet doesn't give up. Leonardo Di'Caprio has finally grown up, and is a very compelling figure in both the Departed and Blood Diamond. And while the better-known Ken Watanabe gave a great performance in Letters from Iwo Jima, it's Kazunari Ninomiya's role as Saiko, the poor grunt who just wants keep his head down and get home to his family, that was the most touching.

Best Actress: Ivana Baquero (Pan's Labyrinth)
This was a tough category as I must admit to having not seen most of the films that the contenders are nominated for. Many of the films I have seen lately have cast almost all men. Two of my favourite actresses, Kate Winslet and Cate Blanchett are nominated, but the films they're in don't seem to compel me to see them. Ivana Baquero's performance in Pan's Labyrinth is reminiscent of Natalie Portman's in Leon. Once again a young girl is forced to deal with the dangers and burdens of a violent, adult world.

The Underachiever: Babel
Runners Up: Little Miss Sunshine, Last King of Scotland
This category is for good films that somehow let me down. Babel had a great story and absolutely amazing performances, but seemed like only half a film. Certainly a very good film, but not satisfying. I feel perhaps that Little Miss Sunshine suffered from overhype. Everyone said how fantastic it was, so I must have been expecting more. The performances were very good (I love Alan Arkin and Greg Kinear) and there were amusing spots in the film, but just too many bits seemed to drag for me and lacked "pop". Last King of Scotland had a great performance by Forrest Whittaker, but when the main character is fictional in a recent historical film, it makes me feel played. The cinematographer was going for a retro look, but hand held cameras just serve to make the audience nauseous.

The Secret Shame: Borat...

Runners Up: Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest, V For Vendetta
I came out with a sore tummy from cringing so much in Borat... I also laughed my fucking head off. Regardless of whether it was exploitative, it was one of the freshest things I've seen in ages. And the Pirates franchise might be cheesier than a quattro formaggio pizza, but the pace makes it sooo much fun. V for Vendetta is a great film with a powerful message, but the flood of poor comic-based action films in recent years make me feel defensive about endorsing it.

Worst Film: Superman Returns

Runners up: X-men 3, Da Vinci Code
While I am sure there were many more worse films than these three, these were the worst I actually sat through. I'm probably going to hell for saying this rather non-pc thing: Christopher Reeves was a very bad actor. I'm sure he was a nice guy, and it was awful what happened to him, but an terrible actor. But at least he had a modicum of charisma. This new superman is so dull and boring, it makes you miss Christopher Reeve. The script must have been written by a computer, and while I love Kevin Spacey, he was just doing an imitation of Gene Hackman. I thought X-Men 3 must have suffered from the loss of the director of its first two iterations. That was until I saw Superman Returns*. The X-Men franchise is one of the few where the second film is better than the first. Unfortunately the curve did not continue, and the script for the third movie must have been written by a 80s video game designer. And the DaVinci Code? I knew it was in the crapper when I heard it was being directed by smaltzmeister Ron Howard, but I got suckered into paying good money to see it because of how much I love Ian McKellen, Jean Reno and Paul Bettany. I chose poorly.

*Bryan Singer turned down directing Xmen 3 so that he could direct Superman Returns. Go figure.

other picks:

Best Documentary: An Inconvenient Truth.
This film made people sit up and listen to the drip, drip, drip of the glaciers melting. The general public has finally realised what scientists and greenies have been telling them for years. Its actually a good thing he never got the presidency; I'm sure he's never have been able to devote so much time and effort to this cause.

Film I most regret not seeing: The Fountain.
I was so looking forward to this film as the photography looked amazing and I love both Hugh Jackman and Rachel Weiss. But the stupid "50" score on metacritic made me hesitate, and before I knew it, this film's very brief theatre run was over. I will definitely see it when it comes out on DVD, but I am sure that it would have been stunning on the big screen.

Film in 2007 that I most want to see: 300
The trailer for this film gives me goosebumps everytime I see it. Artistically, it looks stunning, and historically, the Battle of Thermopylae was just that violent.


Some good news at last

By Shanathalas
For the benefit of the viewing several out there who are starting to think that this blog has a decidedly negative tone, I can finally report some happy news. Firstly, and right off the presses, I am very happy to report that our good friends Jen and Dan have just seen the arrival of their third child. Little baby girl Elora is here! Congrats you guys.

Other good news is that I have finally found myself a job. I am now working as the Information Services and Graduation Assistant at a local college here in Vancouver. Not sure what the Information Services and Graduation Assistant does? Neither do I! Its not a dream job, but it is full-time and gets me out of the house and earning money.

Healthwise, things are still in the shitter, but heh, what can you do? Still in the cast, still on crappy blood thinners. But later this week I have a scheduled battle with my old nemesis: The MRI machine. That's right folks, its round two of me trying desperately to cling to the idea that I am indeed not claustrophobic. While the MRI will be keeping me longer in its noisy and confined clutches this time, I will be armed with a magic weapon: tranquilizers.

Proximal and distal...and never the twain shall meet

By Shanathalas
This Tuesday morning I was very hopeful. I was going to the Orthopedic doctor for my six week checkup for my broken foot. I was convinced all would be good and I could tell my crutches and cast to piss-off. So imagine my disappointment on seeing my latest x-ray and discovering that my broken bone has NOT HEALED AT ALL. Nothing. It has not even started putting down new cartilage. Its like the proximal and distal ends of my metatarsal have had a big argument and neither wants to be the one to call and say "I'm sorry". And thanks to the anticoagulants for my DVT, surgery is definitely out. So its another month of the cast. At last I was able to convince the doc that crutches weren't necessary as I can walk on the aircast without any pain in my foot.

To add insult to injury, my ballet teacher rang today to ask if I would attend her new Saturday class.