Monday, October 29, 2012

Downton Abbey is like, Upper Class Crack

You know that I must have been very busy with class studies and work to not update in a week. Since the last post, it was a congratulations to the Detroit Tigers for sweeping the Yankees to go on to the World Series. And what a difference a friggin' week later makes. The Tigers were swept up themselves and tossed in a rubbish bin by the San Francisco Giants. Karma? No... the Giants were just a better team. Oh well...

School and work has me busy, and I spent all this weekend working on a paper for my Communications Activism class. I will turn the paper in on Tuesday, but I have already had to start working on the details for my class project. I'm  thinking about creating a website/blog for my project and I will have to give a demonstration of how it is suppose to work. I'm partnering up with a classmate that I worked on a big presentation project last term, we're a good team, and I'm hopeful she likes my idea.

So because I had a breakthrough in my studies this weekend, I treated myself to Season 2 of Downton Abbey, courtesy of Prime. Now, I only  just discovered amazon prime just two weeks ago. I read a review of a movie somewhere, and the person made reference to watching it streaming on amazon prime. If you have an amazon prime membership, you can stream select movies/TV shows and videos, for free! I was able to treat myself to Season 2 of Sherlock last week, and on Saturday and Sunday, I watched all 10 episodes of Season 2 of Downton Abbey. It's so exciting to be able to watch, uninterrupted, an entire season of a favorite TV show, and that's what I was able to do. I feel so 'caugh up'. Now if amazon prime has Dexter, First Blood and The Walking Dead, I will literally explode with complete glee, but I won't get my hopes up yet because again, amazon prime is for "select" shows.

Now that I have a year completed at grad school for my Communications Degree, I'm going to start looking for employment in this field. Ideally I want a full-time job, but I'll take a volunteer position or an unpaid internship to get my foot in the door. The economy is in really bad shape here in Michigan, but it's better here than in other places. So I hope I can find something.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Joaquin Phoenix

In lieu of today's earlier post below in which I mentioned going to see The Master again this weekend, I found a BRILLIANT interview article with Joaquin Phoenix from Interview Magazine. For many years now, I have greatly enjoyed Joaquin's work, especially in 'Walk the Line', and I have always found him to be incredibly sexy and intelligent. This new interview proves it. As the coming months will start focusing on the 2012-2013 Oscar season, I just love Joaquin's attitude about all the Oscar craziness, and what he truthfully refers to as "bullshit". The entire interview is incredibly enlightening and interesting, and I learned just how real and socially aware and conscious Phoenix is... my respect for him went up several more notches! Read the full interview here:

MITCHELL: So what are you going to do when they put you on the awards circuit for The Master?

PHOENIX: You're out of your mind, dude. You're out of touch with what has happened.

MITCHELL: I think we've established that you're the one who's out of his mind. [Phoenix laughs] You don't think that's going to happen?

PHOENIX: I'm just saying that I think it's bullshit. I think it's total, utter bullshit, and I don't want to be a part of it. I don't believe in it. It's a carrot, but it's the worst-tasting carrot I've ever tasted in my whole life. I don't want this carrot. It's totally subjective. Pitting people against each other . . . It's the stupidest thing in the whole world. It was one of the most uncomfortable periods of my life when Walk the Line was going through all the awards stuff and all that. I never want to have that experience again. I don't know how to explain it—and it's not like I'm in this place where I think I'm just above it—but I just don't ever want to get comfortable with that part of things.

If you haven't seen The Master yet, go check it out... and Joaquin better get ready for Oscar talk whether he likes it or not, he's great in this film.

Real October Madness!

As I have warned you previously, studies for class would leave me little time to update the blog, as this past week can attest. Since the last post, I was able to buy a Sony Blu-ray player along with the Prometheus DVD and The Avengers... but I haven't even been able to unpack the box, plug it in, and watch either DVD. That's just sad. I think I may be able to do it soon, but I have more readings to stay on top of as well as starting work on a journal article review. However, there are a few things I want to share with you.

Joaquin Phoenix in The Master @ State Theater
 This weekend, I very much look forward to seeing The Master again with my friend Laurie. Now I know I gave it a lukewarm review when I saw it at TIFF last month. But, I held out hope that upon a second viewing, I would embrace it's meant-to-be great potential. So it's going to play at the State theater starting Friday. I wanted to go that evening, but Laurie's going to a concert, and we wanted to go on Saturday, but there's that crazy rival home football game between Michigan and Michigan State. Joy! (Go Blue!) With a 3:30pm start time, you can't pay me to be anywhere near campus or downtown. However, just for shits and giggles, if Laurie did the driving, I'll go. Her son goes to Michigan State, so I think he'll be in town for the game. Otherwise, we'll just see it on Sunday, which may be better anyway because I'll get the bulk of my readings done tonight, Friday, and on Saturday. I'll post a re-review of The Master next week.

Although the 4th game between the Detroit Tigers and the New York Yankees was rained out at Comerica Park, it looks like the weather will be cleared tonight so that the Tigers can sweep this series and clinch the American League Championship title, and then go on to their 11th World Series. So if the Tigers win tonight, the Detroit area is going to be partying hard. If not... dammit, they'll go back to New York. But I think they'll do the right thing and seal this bad boy tonight. Good luck boys!

I'm Running Again!

I have a new health goal target, and that is to start running again so that I can compete in the Tortoise and Hare 5K race next spring. I ran the race back in 2005, and when I was much younger, I use to run all the time, all over the place. I was insane... I should have gone into track and running. Although I have a strong cardio regimen, and I do the Bikram yoga weekly, and I walk daily... there's nothing like getting in shape like running. So, I started that last night with a walk/run, and I wound up running for longer than I anticipated, which is very good, and gives me great hope that I can run a steady two miles within a month without stopping. My goal is to run 10 miles a week by running 2 miles over 5 days. I can do it,... but winter's coming and I'll need to find an inside track... I'm sure EMU has one. Anyway, the next thing I need to do is invest in proper running shoes. I have some New Balance, but, they are not the most ideal for my running practice, I need to go to a sports shop and drop some dough on good running shoes. Looks like I'll be taking advantage of the 10% off coupon for shoes at Tortoise and Hare.

To Be or Not Be for Continued "Change"?

We have just a couple more weeks before the Presidential Election and I'm still firmly in the corner of 'I don't like either candidate'. What I find so distressing is that in my country, if you are indifferent to President Obama, you are hated, mocked, not considered human, a fool, a conservative (the nerve), or a racist (how fucking dare you!). And if you aren't voting for Romney, you want government to run your life, get free handouts, support Obamacare, and don't want to see the economy or unemployment stats improve. In this election, what has turned me off the most is to see how mean and irrational many democrats have become. I used to be a Democrat, but I'm a Green Party supporter now and have been since 2000, but my roots are with the Democratic Party. But I don't identify with them anymore, they have let me down... they are no different, in many ways, than the Republicans. Now more than ever, we need a strong third party... people like me, disenfranchised, and disillusioned with the primary two political parties, NEED another party to vote for that has a real chance of winning. But until people who ID themselves as either Democrat or Republican stop hating and blaming each other for the country's woes, and vote for a different party that represents true change, we ain't gonna change, there's no hope, it's going to be the same old same old regardless if you like elephants or donkeys! And you know I'm writing the truth! I'm not voting for either Obama or Romney, and I feel good about that. But, I have to continue to deal with insane tweets from people I follow who slam Romney for his ideologies, while turning a blind eye to some shady shit Obama's administration has done, and failed not to do. Can our country handle four more years of the same, or is it ready for four new uncertain years of something "different"? It's sad and it's disgusting seeing the heighten hate between the two parties and their supporters, but, it's only a few more weeks. :/

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Future Trip to Paris was Inspired by 'Midnight in Paris'

I have wanted to visit Paris, France for quite a while now. Back in 2007, I started to make serious plans, but health concerns derailed that trip. My friend Lucinda in London, visits Paris yearly because she's so close to it and I wanted to go there with her when I visited her in the past couple of years, but it just never worked out for us to go there together. Well, when I saw Woody Allen's 'Midnight in Paris' earlier this year, I really enjoyed the movie more than I thought I would. In line with my fascination with Looper that I saw last week, 'Midnight in Paris' also has a time travel plot to it, but it's very funny and endearing.

The film is about a guy played by Owen Wilson who is engaged to a selfish brat played by Rachel McAdams. He is dissatisfied with his life as a failed writer and he fantasizes about going back into a more pure and exciting time in Paris, circa 1920's, where he really felt a connection with that era. As he is walking around Paris, at the strike of midnight, a fancy automobile from the 1920s rolls up next to him and the people inside invite him to a party. He goes back in time and is in a state of disbelief that he's meeting all of the cool Who's Who of high society of the world from that time, as well as many artists and authors that he is a fan of. But in the morning, he goes back to his hotel in the present and is reminded about how much he hates his current life.

The backdrop of the city of Paris is what is the main character of this film. It's a beautiful and vibrant city that is different from any city here in the States, as well as my beloved Toronto and London. And as I'm a fan of museums, I just have to visit the Louvre. I finally want to see the Eiffel Tower in real life, and I want to sit outside of a French cafe eating and drinking exactly what the French eat and drink.
France magazine Nov 2012 issue
To psychologically solidify my travel plans, I have bought this France magazine issue over the weekend, I will be buying the Lonely Planet Pocket pal Paris travel book that they suggest as well. I have already bought a speak French cd set. It's on the very elementary end for brief conversational French, but it's a start, and as a visitor to Paris, it would rock to be able to order something in French, and read a French menu, as well as signage while I'm out and about. For convenience, I already plan to spend a few days in London to meet up with Lucinda, and hopefully a couple other friends. Then I will take the eurostar train from London to Paris and spend about five days there. I'm really excited about this trip and I'm going to make it happen either in late May or mid-June, so that gives me plenty of time to save up and plan.

Have you been to Paris? If so, do you have any recommendations for me? 

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Film Review: Looper was Phenomenal! (9.5/10)

Bruce Willis and Joseph Gordon-Levitt were both fantastic!
 **massive spoilers**

Weeks before the Toronto Film Festival, I was excited about seeing Looper at tiff, however, it looks like everyone else was anxious too because we could not get tickets. Thankfully, Looper was going to be released just a couple weeks later and I knew I would see it then. I was able to see it last night, and I must say, Looper is one of those films that left me completely mesmerized, in awe, and totally satisfied! This film was the perfect blending of science fiction (time travel is one of my favorite themes), mutants, the mob, and a dystopian world.

In the year 2044, Joseph Gorden-Levitt (Joe) is a young punk hitman for the mob called a Looper. He and his peers are assigned to kill people from the future that are sent back in time from around 2074. Also at this time, 10% of the population have telekinetic powers (TKers). One shotgun blast to the chest is all that's needed when the victim arrives instantaneously on a white sheet, in an open field, at a specific time. It's difficult to kill people in the future and hide them because of tracking abilities, so they are kidnapped and dumped into an illegal time travel machine to be killed on the spot and disposed of in the past, removing all existence of the person. However efficient this process is, someone in the future, a brutal crime lord who goes by the name of the Rainmaker, is also closing the loop of the Loopers by sending back their older selves to be killed by their younger selves. When this mission is successful, the young looper is retired and lives off the silver and gold they collected from the victims, and their older selfs. If they do what they're suppose to do.

The first mistake happens when Paul Dano's character, Seth, is suppose to kill a guy, but the man appears in front of him singing a familiar tune from his childhood. It's Old Seth... and young Seth just can't bring himself to close his loop and kill him. Seth is on the run and seeks out Joe, his only friend, to hide him while he figures out an escape plan. But the organization figures Joe is hiding Seth and makes a bargain with him - which in turn, works, and Joe gives up Seth. However, the awesome thing about time travel is the mysterious things that happen to two selves in one time frame. The Looper organization, managed by a man from the future, played by my local neighbor Michigander, Jeff Daniels (Abe), takes the young Seth and scratches directions into his arm a location for him to go to. And piece by piece, they torture Seth with cuts and amputations which subsequently disables the future old Seth horrifically as he doesn't understand what is  happening to his body. As old Seth reaches the location, he is killed and in the background is bloody Seth on a table. Awesome! What happens to Seth is an example for Joe to be mindful of.

On Joe's next assignment, something is off, the victim doesn't arrive on time... however, he eventually appears and he does not have a hood over his face to cover his appearance: It's Old Joe, played by Bruce Willis. Young Joe realizes this in a shocking moment, but goes to kill him anyway. Old Joe turns around and the bullet hits the gold bars on his back. Old Joe jumps up, throws a gold bar at Joe and punches him out. He then escapes. Ooops! Joe knows he messed up and the Loopers are out to get him, but he tries to make things right. He scratches on his arm a place for him and Old Joe to meet up to talk, it's an awkward situation because they are two different selves separated by 30 years, and both have attitude problems. Old Joe explains to Joe that someone by the name of the Rainmaker has set all this crap into action, and if it wasn't for him, he would still be happy in China, 30 years in the future with a woman he loves very much and who saved him from his bad ways. Old Joe believes that if he can kill the present day Rainmaker, who is just a little kid at the time, he can go back into the future and be with his wife, who was subsequently killed by accident when the Loopers came to collect Old Joe to send him back in time to be killed by Joe. Get it?

This Rainmaker dude is the arc of Looper... because of him, the world is what it is 30 years from now, and he's apparently very evil, very powerful, and people fear him. What I love about Looper is that it all makes sense of a sci-fi concept that can easily be confusing and misunderstood. So in smart flashbacks, we see Joe after he successfully kills Old Joe like he's suppose to do, then he retires and lives an amazingly corrupt life filled with drugs, brutality, murder, and partying until he met a woman he fell in love with. He realized at this point in his life, that because of LOVE, Joe changed his bad ways and found peace in his life... until, the Loopers came and got him. During this future flashback of older Joe, the reason for the delay of him arriving in time for Joe to kill him is that he fights with and kills the future loopers, but he realizes then that because his wife is now dead, he does have to go back in time to kill the Rainmaker so that he does not live to create the future that old Joe is in and no longer with his wife. He has to set things right for him to be with the one he loves. Old Joe has the hood off so that could buy him time with Joe to recognize him and for Old Joe to react and protect himself. But as events unfold, that is what happens, the hesitation to kill him immediately, changed events. However, prior to being captured by the future Loopers, people who were trying to uncover and destroy the Rainmaker in the future were able to find crucial numerical ID information about him, and someone read off some numbers to Old Joe and he wrote those numbers down.
Cid played by Pierce Gagnon (he stole the film)
Those numbers were eventually used in 2044 when Old Joe researched the significance of the numbers which were related to three children, one of whom would grow up to be the rainmaker. Old Joe gives a piece of this information to Joe to help him find and kill these kids. As fate would have it, Joe winds up at a farmhouse where a young mother, Emily Blunt (Sara) is there with her 5 year old son Cid, brilliantly played by a handsome and talented Pierce Gagnon (read more about him at review). The viewer picks up early on that Cid is not your typical 5 year old... he is incredibly smart, perceptive, and spooky even. But he's still a little boy, and he's angry and distrusting of Sara, whom he doesn't believe is his mother. Joe shares with Sara the numbers that he has that lead him to her farmhouse and she is immediately alarmed as those numbers represent Cid's birthday and his hospital ID number. Joe explains to Sara that some people want to harm Cid and they must protect him, but at this time, Joe isn't aware of how special Cid is. Meanwhile, Old Joe mistakenly kills a child he thought was the future rainmaker and is remorseful about it because nothing changed, he was still there, and by killing the right child, that would set things right and he would re-appear back in the future.

A looper killer tracks down Joe at Sara's house and harasses her and wants to take Joe back with him. Cid is so curious about what is happening in the living room, he startles the man, which then scares him and causes Cid to fall down the stairs. Cid gets upset quickly and when he does, his secret TK powers are on full power mode and extremely dangerous. What happens next is the most incredible surprising scene of the film, a full demonstration of the future Rainmaker's power, and it's scary - a lot of gasps in the audience, I thought one woman was going to run out the theater crying. Joe is pulled out of the house by Sara because she knew what was going to happen and that's when Joe realizes who Cid really is and he's pissed off and scared. He now wants to do what he was sent there to do, kill Cid. He runs off to find a very bloody Cid in the sugar cane fields and he realizes then, that Cid is just a little boy, very scared, with powers beyond his control. Something clicks in Joe and he realizes that as long as Cid does not grow up misusing his powers, but understand them, guard them and use them for good, and be loved and cared for, he'll be ok and won't become the Rainmaker.

Old Joe shows up on the farmhouse scene ready to kill Cid. Joe tells Sara to take Cid somewhere and hide, but just as they are driving away, they can't escape Old Joe so they run into the sugar cane fields. Old Joe is shooting at them and knicks Cid... which upsets him again. He sends out a TK blast that suspends Old Joe and Sara in mid-air, and flips over the car that Joe is driving in to come help them. At this moment, Sara is telekinetically speaking to Cid to assure him that she loves him so very much, that it's ok, to calm down, and that she's his mother. Cid starts to cry and realizes that Sara is his mother and loves him very much. This was the turning point for Cid's life to not become the Rainmaker. However, as he releases his TK power blast and hugs his mother, Old Joe fully understands the horror of Cid's power and he must kill him in order to set things right, according to his mind. Sara tells Cid to run and hide in the sugar cane fields. At this moment, Joe is too far away to shoot at Old Joe and he foresees a series of events that could unfold if  he doesn't act. He sees old Joe kill Sara, causing Cid to lose the one thing that he loves and that can provide a normal life, he grows up alone, filled with complete hate, and go on to do exactly what he does in the current future. Joe realizes that all Cid needs was his mother's love and a good life to not become the rainmaker, so Joe shoots himself in the heart, instantly killing him, and making Old Joe disappear from existence.

Cid is not going to grow up to be the rainmaker now - the future has changed. His mother loves him, and Joe left them all his silver and gold to make them financially secure in their future.

I sat in my chair in the theater just letting my head wrap around what I saw, and I just absolutely loved this film. My friend Laurie almost wanted to cry at the end. Looper is one of those movie event films that has everything that cerebral and entertaining films should have. I would have given it a 10, if somehow Joe could have just killed Old Joe, and go off with Sara and Cid as a family, because Joe didn't have that growing up and he deserved that happiness. So, I took five points off for that, but otherwise, director Rian Johnson did a splendid job in making an original, very creative, suspenseful, and entertaining film!

(as a reminder, I was thisclose to Joseph Gordon-Levitt at the TIFF screening of Cloud Atlast - he's so damn cute!)

Score: 9.5/10