Thursday, April 30, 2009

April 2009 Books and Movies

Mambo Italiano

Absolutely hilarious! I laughed out loud again and again. Not only at the Italian stereotyping, but the characters themselves, because they were exceedingly well drawn. The premis is simple, a closeted gay Italian Canadian man, involved with another closeted gay Italian Canadian man, comes out to his family. What isn't simple is that entire proposition is fraught with pitfalls, where all the comedy comes from. I loved that it was Canadian, that it was set in Little Italy in Montreal, that it starred starred Paul Sorvino, Mary Walsh and Claudia Ferri. I watched the short lived bilingual Ciao Bella, which was spun out of this movie and just loved it. I seriously laughed harder at this than I have at any other movie in a long while. Watch it!

The Squid and the Whale

This has a Royal Tenenbaums feel to it, but not so much that you are affected by it. Set in 1986 in Brooklyn, two boys have two very different reactions to their parents divorce. There is lots of stuff here, and definitely needs more than one viewing to take it all in. I take back what I said before about Jesse Eisenberg channeling Michael Cera and now definitely think it's the other way around. His character, Walt, is decidedly different from his Adventureland character, whereas Michael Cera's two characters in Juno and Superbad are very much alike. Great performances by Laura Linney (whom I love) and Owen Kline. The film ends very abruptly, with no satisfactory conclusion, but is still satisfying, because this is actually how life is. A definite must see.


Overall this was a good movie. Of course, there were things I liked and disliked about it. I liked that it was set in 1987. The clothes and music took me back. I liked Jesse Eisenberg although he was channeling Michael Cera something fierce. He is very cute, love the cheekbones, aquiline nose and the curly hair, especially when it got wet. Kristen proved that she really only knows how to play Bella Swann. I say that because Twilight was the first movie I ever saw her in, and she was exactly the same in Adventureland. I didn't like the stereotyping, that all the Italians in the movie were shown as townie non-intellectuals (one was even labeled anti-semitic) and most of the Jewish characters (with the exception of Joel) were well off and well educated. It didn't make a difference to the plot and felt like the point of view was being forced on the audience. I loved Martin Starr, mostly because his character was much like Bill on Freaks and Geeks. Love his dead pan, dry wit. That boy has talent! It was good to see Ryan Reynolds playing a bit of a jerk character, usually his golden boy roles make me roll my eyes. Good story, not a bit like Superbad, which is great. I'm thinking that we're going to see a lot more movies like this. Even in the previews, there was yet another Judd Apatow flick coming out with Adam Sandler, Seth Rogen and others from his past films including his wife. Currently, I Love You, Man is starring Jason Segal, another Freaks and Geeks alum. This is a coming of age story, but I thought it was targeted more at older people who want to look back. I got the feeling that younger people would be bored with the old setting. This is a pretty long post for a movie, probably because I'm reviewing immediately after watching, so my brain is fresh.

The Other Boleyn Girl

Hmm. I decided to watch this movie before reading the book because I had heard the book was so much better. I'm tired of being disappointed by movie renditions of books, perhaps I should start forgoing the movies all together, like Amy. Anyhow, while lush with beautiful scenery and costumes, this film was uninspired and one dimensional. The characters didn't give the viewer a reason to invest in them, and some were very wrong for their parts, especially Scarlett Johansson and Eric Bana. The historical liberties were fine, I went in to it aware that the plot was mostly fiction. I'm still looking forward to reading the book and will blog about it soon.

Midnight Sun
Stephanie Meyers

Ummm, ok Stephanie Myers, I think it's a good thing someone leaked this before you could finish it! Midnight Sun is so self indulgent. Most of your other work is too, but I kept reading because I liked the plot (where it was furthered) and wanted to find out what happens next. Better that you write your next book (which we all know will come out eventually, as money talks) about Nessie and Jacob's relationship. The limited new information we find out from Midnight Sun isn't worth the 265 page read. Give it a miss.

Playing for Keeps (TV)

Interesting concept for a TV movie. A white woman has an affair with a basketball player and gets pregnant. He doesn't believe the child is his until four months after his birth, come to see him and then initiates proceedings to take the child away from his mother. Apparently based on a true story. Canadian production, solidly acted tear jerker. Highly enjoyable, watch it if you get the chance.

Freaks and Geeks (DVD Box Set)

Where the h*ll was I when this was on in 1999? Oh right, I was living in the UK, where it didn't even air! Which was seriously a shame, because I'm sure I would have loved it just as much back then as I do now. Of course, like all shows I love, they are cancelled too soon, just like the excellent Firefly. Set in 1980, it's the story of what high school is like for two different groups of kids, the Freaks and the Geeks. Each episode reads like a mini-movie, the production value is that high. The cast is stellar, the brightest spots being Martin Starr as Bill, John Francis Daley (he's great on Bones too!) as Sam and Joe Flaherty as Mr. Weir. So well written, freshly acted (most of the teenagers were hired for their first jobs on this show, except Linda Cardellini, who was 25), interesting and funny. An absolute must see, especially now that the the DVD box set is available. I'm going to get it for my collection, I love it that much!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Running Outdoors, the new frontier

Now that the weather has turned, it's outdoor running season! I've been using this site to figure out how far I've gone.

Distillery/ Don River/ Queen St. Run - 4.18 K

This was me trying to extend the original Distillery Run, and not actually adding very much distance. But the view was great, and although the stairs up to Queen were brutal (yes, I walked them!) I really enjoyed running along the river. I have to remember to bring a timer with me, because, although I got back home in 50 minutes, I don't know how long I was actually running.

Distillery/ Market - 3.83 K

I only had 30 minutes, so I just started out and made it up as I went along. I quickly found out that the Distillery isn't very far away, so had to run other places in the neighbourhood to make up the time. I even had to double back up and down the same street for the last 5 minutes. I'm getting marginally faster, but I still have a ways to go. 1.17 K to be exact! :)

Queen's Quay/ Harbourfront 4.9 K

I originally thought I would run only the one way then walk back. But, to my surprise, my endurance has obviously improved, as I wasn't tired and kept on running. That was great! Almost there!

So I've learned that 5 K is actually a long way! Although I'm super pleased that I can now run it continuously, I'm not sure that 5K in 30 minutes is realistic. At least I have time on my side, the race isn't until September!

Friday, April 10, 2009

First Guesstimated 5K outdoors!

I'm pretty sure it was almost 5K, because I ran for almost an hour, and I usually do 3 or so K in 30 minutes on the treadmill. I'm still very very slow, but I was happy that I was able to run to my destination and back again without stopping for anything but lights. Stupid lights! :) The race I'm aiming for is in September, so hopefully I'll be able to ramp up my speed before then, to reach my goal of 5K in 30 minutes.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

The Sound of Music

Brilliant, brilliant brilliant! What a show. Go see it as soon as possible. Since it was a Wednesday evening, we saw the runner up to the show "How do you Solve a Problem Like Maria" (the Canadian version) but she was absolutely excellent. Another standout was Noella Huard, who played the Abesse. What a voice! Climb Every Mountain was phenomenal. The kids were cute, the sets were really technically advanced and the orchestra was great. Fans of the movie will notice a lot of changes, as the stage show is much shorter, but all the songs are there. An absolute must see.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Cosi Fan Tutti at the Royal Conservatory

What a wonderful performance by a number of up and coming classical musicians. These kids (although there are a few older students in the program) are the future of classical music in Canada. I only hope that they aren't all snapped up by orchestras in Europe. They did the entire opera, not just excerpts, which was great. I'm looking forward to seeing more from the RC, especially now that they are building their brand new performance hall. The new building is amazing, especially the way they molded the new building onto the old. Most concerts are free (including this one) so definitely check it out.