Friday, December 22, 2006
So, based on the trailer, this seems to be the premise: There's a computer simulation that pits boxers from different time periods against each other. Problem one. It's a computer simulation. That anyone would assume anything from that is just dumb.
Okay, we'll let that go and continue. Computer simulation Rocky, from the 70's, wins the boxing match against the current champ. Okay, fine. But based on this, 30-years-older Rocky decides to take on the champ he "beat" in the simulation. Big problem two. Does he not realize the simulation was him in the 70's??? When he was already over the hill as a boxer in his 30's???? The simulation didn't age him 60 years, does it? And if it did, how could it? I would love to have heard the discussion at the studio where someone decided this was a good idea.
I know the whole Rocky franchise is about the underdog beating unbelievable odds, but this premise is just about the dumbest thing I've ever heard.
And really, does the world need another Rocky movie??? (Did we need more than one in the first place?)
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
Vote for her by sending an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org with One Shot, Two Kills in the subject line. Vote from every e-mail address you have. Tell your friends!
For more info about the contest visit http://www.romantictimes.com/news_amtitle.php
For more info on Kim visit: http://www.kjhowe.com/
Good luck Kim!!
Sunday, December 17, 2006
First the comedy/musicals:
I haven't seen DREAMGIRLS, yet, so I can't comment on that... But I have seen the other four nominated films and if LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE doesn't win this category, there is no justice in the world. (Although I expect DREAMGIRLS will win and I guess it's not fair of me to claim this is wrong, since I haven't seen it. But I do think it will win and probably not because it's better. It's been well reviewed, there's Oscar buzz and it has big stars... Therefore, will probably win.)
But LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE! I think this just came out on DVD and I want to see it again. It was a fabulous movie. The characters were amazing and not predictable and there's not one minute of wasted time or dialogue in this film... (I'd like to watch again to test this assertion...) But no wasted scenes or lines is a big deal in comedies, where so often there are portions there just to be funny, that don't really serve the story... Not in this movie. But I'd call it a "dramedy" not a comedy... Great movie.
THANK YOU FOR SMOKING is largely funny because of the amazing premise and good performances. But I found that most of the funny stuff was shown in the trailer and the story wasn't that riveting and overall I was a little underwhelmed. I probably just went in with overly high expectations... I wish I'd seen it when it had its world premiere at the 2005 Toronto Film Festival. By the time it was released to theatres, it had made the festival circuit, showing at Sundance, too, and there was way too much hype around it. However, if you haven't seen it -- especially if you haven't seen the trailer -- rent it. There are some unbelievable lines/ideas in this movie. And it has one of the best premises I've seen in ages... A story where the protagonist is a lobbiest for the tobacco industry. Too funny. Amazing satire.
BORAT: CULTURAL LEARNINGS OF AMERICA FOR MAKE BENEFIT GLORIOUS NATION OF KAZAKHSTAN
I've talked about a couple of times... I really did think this movie had moments of uncomfortable brilliance and Sasha Baron Cohen is amazingly adept at turning a light onto ugly things about western society in a very unorthadox way (no pun intended) (well, maybe a little bit intended).
THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA
Really? I mean Meryl Streep was fabulous in that role, but really?
Will let you know, if I get a chance to see it...
And the foreign films... I've only seen two of these... But want to comment anyway, 'cause I can't stop myself and the two that I saw were AMAZING!!!
Go see this movie. Right now. Even if you think you hate subtitles. Go. Even if you've seen a Pedro Almadovar movie before, and you think he's too weird. Go. Trust me.
This was his most accessible Almadovar movie I've seen (no porn stars getting kidnapped and seduced, no transvestites, no major religious controversies)... Don't get me wrong. I love Almadovar's movies... and you've got to love a director who introduced the world to not only Penelope Cruz (who's great in this, as she was in his other film ALL ABOUT MY MOTHER -- another film that's really worth renting...) but also Antonio Banderas in TIE ME UP, TIE ME DOWN. If you haven't seen either of these actors work in their native tongue, you're missing something...
PAN'S LABYRINTH (Mexico) I saw at the film festival this year and although it's not my kind of movie, per se, the buzz was so great I picked it. And I was blown away. It's a fairy tale and the protagonist is a little girl... but don't let that fool you into thinking it's a movie for children or simplistic in any way. Very dark. Very creepy. Very good.
THE LIVES OF OTHERS (Germany) I haven't seen this. (Don't know if it's been released to theatres here, yet... Maybe now it will be.) But I've heard from others that it's amazing. I know it screened at the Vancouver Film Festival but not in Toronto... Too bad. Can't wait to see it.
LETTERS FROM IWO JIMA (USA/JAPAN) I'm actually looking forward to seeing this, but I didn't see the first one... FLAGS OF OUR FATHER. I kinda hope they'll rerelease it along with this one so I can see them both on the big screen... A double feature would be great. Clint Eastwood understands storytelling, so I have high expectations for these films and like the idea he's showing the history from both the US and Japanese perspectives. Great idea.
APOCALYPTO (USA) I don't think I'll see this movie. Partly because of the whole Mel Gibson thing and partly because, while I can take a lot of violence in movies if it's in context and important, somehow I can't take the violence in Mel's movies. I found BRAVEHEART horrible to watch and most of the violence completely gratutitous, and don't even get me started on his Christian snuff porno. Why did I go see that???? Okay, I felt like I had to out of curiousity and to judge whether all the anti-semetic accusations etc. were justified... But I'm done with Mel Gibson as a director, unless he does something that isn't 95% graphic violence -- which is what I've heard about Apocalypto.
Impt note: I'm not a rabid anit-violence in the movies person. I love Quentin Tarantino's films. Pan's Labryrinth has some graphic violence... but it's not the whole freakin' movie and it fits the story and adds impact when it's there. It's Mel's 20 minute battle scenes with nothing but gore (or the 70 minute shredding of someone's body in the Passion) that I take exception to. No one needs to see that kind of violence.
Friday, December 15, 2006
Okay, you can argue: Who cares if it's impossible (other than in a zoo) for penguins and polar bears to be in the same place? Who cares if polar bears only live in the far north of the northern hemisphere and penguins only live south of the equator? (Although penguins get way closer to the equator than polar bears ever do.) Who cares if the ads (which must be in the north, because it's december and it's dark) show lots of open water when that much open water is improbable for that time of year--even with global warming. Who cares?
Me. I think it does matter. (I also think it matters when words are spelled incorrectly, or poor grammar is used in materials targeted to children. But that's another topic.) So many people get all their information from television these days, and if they see penguins and polar bears together enough, they start to think it must be true. Just look how the Flintstones influenced fundamentalist Christians. LOL.
Proof of my theory that these ads are evil? I just read today that, "A new science textbook for school claims that polar bears eat penguins..." This was reported by Graeme Paton, in British newspaper, The Daily Telegraph. Peter Cotgreave, the chairman of the Campaign for Science and Engineering, is quoted in the article as saying, "....It reflects a loss of respect for science."
Yes, that's true. But I also think it proves that it does matter what you show in ads and movies. How influenced the average person can be by misinformation. (Hey, great fascists and dictators understood this. They called it propaganda. Arguably the good people at Fox News understand it, too, but I serioulsly digress.) Obviously the writers and editors of this text book (TEXT BOOK!!!) were influenced enough by images like those ads (that beverage company isn't the first offender, here) that they believed this was a fact.
Maybe (I hope) the people who created those ads knew the polar bear/penguin land they created was fanciful... but I fear far too many of the viewers who see it, including children, don't understand the fanciful part.
(But I totally buy that there are polar bears on the island in LOST. ;-)
Today, the Dramas:
I loved two of these films (Babel and Little Children) I really liked the other three. I think I've listed the films below in the order I'd rank them...
BABEL is a little sad but totally engrossing. I've been planning working on a blog post comparing and contrasting the themes in Babel with another good film I saw at the festival this year, BREAKING AND ENTERING. But that film hasn't opened yet. (opens at Christmas?) Anyway, for me, Babel shows the worst of human nature and Breaking and Entering the best... I
talked about Babel on the Drunk Writer Talk blog a while ago, so won't do it again, here...
LITTLE CHILDREN really blew me away, too, and is another film I'd like to see again... There are so many layers to it... Some which I'm sure I didn't notice or get on first viewing... It explores suburban life, personal fullfillment over family obligations, settling, infidelity, child abuse (on both overt and more subtle levels), guilt, shame, prejudice, mob mentality...
I also think the film was just interesting as films go, using some devices like voice overs and other intrustions that I really thought worked and added humor to what could have been a very dark film. This film didn't get a very wide release, but maybe this nomination will help that. If it comes to your town, check it out. I also talked about this movie on Drunk Writer Talk...
THE DEPARTED. Okay, now I'm thinking about it again, I'd probably put it on my LOVED list along with BABEL and LITTLE CHILDREN, but I thought it deteriorated into almost comedy at the end... (So tragic it becomes comedy?) But maybe the "everyone's corrupt", "you can't trust anyone" message is encapsulated in the way this story ended. I think I'd like to see this film again... and to see the Chinese film it was based on, INFERNAL AFFAIRS. But both Leonardo di Caprio and Matt Damon blew me away in this movie. Molly likes to say you could see Damon's character's ulcers growing. I just thought he made an amazingly charming (and therefore diabolical) bad guy. (Although I already knew he could do this from THE TALENTED MR. RIPLEY... which I liked more than most people did... but I'm a big Patrica Highsmith fan. And I liked Damon's Ripley much better than other supposedly "better" actors who have played him, including John Malcovich... It's easy to believe Malcovich is evil and the point of Ripley is that he's a sociopath hidden in sheep's clothing. Cloying, engratiating, self-effacing sheep's clothing... Okay... how did this become a blog on Patrica Highsmith's wonderful character, Tom Ripley??
Back to the films...
Anyone who reads this blog or the Drunk Writer blog, knows I love multiple interconnected stories... but I think BOBBY suffered from not having strong enough story arcs for each of the individual stories in the film. Most were just character sketches...
I also think viewers of this movie need to know some of the historical facts in order for the movie to have any tension or forward drive... This, to me, makes it an imperfect movie -- though like I said, I did like it...(I knew the "important historical fact" going in, not because I remembered, if I ever even knew, but because someone had given me a spoiler, which I normally hate, but for this movie, I think it helped me enjoy the film.) The spoiler detail is that other people were shot the night Robert Kennedy was assassinated. If you know this... you watch the movie wondering which of the characters, Emilio Estevez (filmmaker) is introducing us to, will get shot. It adds some drama and tension in a film that doesn't have a whole bunch until the final 10 minutes, which are then nothing but tension and drama. I expect politics also affected this nomination... That is, the film's very politically relevant today with the US in another unpopular divisive war.
THE QUEEN was another film I liked but didn't love. I admit I have an odd soft spot for QEII. Maybe it's because when she was younger, I always thought she looked a bit like my mom... (Probably just the same hairstyle. My mom is prettier.) Or maybe I associate her with Christmas because our family used to always watch her on TV Christmas morning. Andrew is a few years older than I and Edward a few years younger and I think my sisters and I felt like we grew up with those boys, watching them (and their stodgy older brother Charles) appear with their mum in our living room every Christmas morning via the TV. But this movie really boils down to some amazing performances... I agree with the best actress nomination for Helen Mirren... (I also think the actor who played Tony Blair -- Micheal Sheen -- and maybe the guy who played Prince Charles should have been nominated... but I'm not sure about the movie getting nominated... But also not sure what I'd nominate in its place, so there you go...
Thursday, December 14, 2006
Okay, what possible reason could the US Secret Service have had for tapping Princess Diana's telephone? Hoping to get some good gossip? Maybe hear some royal celebrity phone sex? Perhaps an overweight agent was hoping to get some weight loss tips (because those "anna" web sites for anorexics/bulimics didn't exist yet)?
Seriously... I think they just tapped her phone because they were curious and they could. Makes you wonder if they often tap celebrities' phones for fun.
If you could listen in on someone's conversations and get away with it, whose would you listen to?
Tuesday, December 12, 2006
One of the good manners lessons my mother taught me as a very young child was to cover my mouth when I sneezed or coughed and NEVER to wipe my nose on my sleeve. Only people who grew up in barns do that, apparently.
Well, the City of Toronto is trying to get us all to move into barns, with their "Do the Sleeve Sneeze" campaign. I guess the idea is that if you cough or sneeze onto your hands and then touch stuff, like the hand railings in the subway or whatever, everyone who touches where you touched will pick up your germs.
Maybe this makes sense... But gross! I wonder if we'll start to see lots of slimy looking coat sleeves this winter. I think I'd rather get the flu.
Sunday, December 10, 2006
I'm all for descriptive collective nouns, but when someone recently referred to my front hall as containing "an embarrassment of shoes" I took exception.
Shoes are great. I totally related to the main character in In Her Shoes. No matter how much a girl's weight goes up or down or sideways (mine's gone all three directions too many times to count) shoes look great. And regardless of weight issues, I just don't have one of those clothes friendly bodies. Never have. Never will. I'm short. I'm stocky. I'm learning to live with that. One way I live with it is buying great shoes. And earrings. I'm big on earrings.
Yes, it's true. I own enough shoes to make Imelda Marcos slightly giddy, but I'm not embarrassed about this. Hmmmm... What would be a better noun for a large shoe collection? A pride of shoes? A glory of shoes? A spectacular?
Don't know. But I do know the the sunbeam, which arrived in my living room midway through my writers' group meeting this morning, highlighted an embarrassment housework sins.
PS. Photo of shoe from Fluevog.
Wednesday, December 06, 2006
I've been remiss in posting interviews and am very happy today to post an interview with Margaret Moore. This interview was first published in the Toronto Romance Writers Newsletter Romantics in March, 2006.
Margaret has forty (forty!) published books and novellas under her belt, over six million copies in print and is a USA Today Bestseller. She has written for multiple houses, most recently HQN where she was one of the imprint’s launch authors.
Maureen McGowan: Thanks so much for taking the time to do this. When did you first know you wanted to write novels?
Margaret Moore: Not until I was home with my second baby, and even then, it was sort of, “Hey, this might be fun.” I didn't want to go back to a “regular” job, my degree is in English literature, I have a vivid imagination, and my friend had recently given me THE WOLF AND THE DOVE, which I really enjoyed. I wasn't somebody with a burning desire to write and be published. I had a burning desire to be an actress, actually, but—and this is hilarious in retrospect—the possibility of rejection made me decide I wouldn't be happy in theater.
MMcG: Going into publishing to avoid rejection. That is funny! Tell us about your first sale. How many manuscripts had you written? Did you have an agent?
MM: I started writing an historical, then thought short contemporaries would be an “easier” sell. The gods laughed and laughed. I got a couple of rejections on partials, and then took a course at George Brown College on romance taught by Valerie Susan Hayward, who was a Harlequin Temptation editor at the time. She left Harlequin here to go to Silhouette in NY shortly after they started Harlequin Historicals. She phoned me from NY to say, “Are you still working on that historical? 'Cause they're desperate here.” (Or words to that effect.) I took a week, worked like a maniac finishing and polishing my historical, then sent it off. Four months later, Tracy Farrell phoned to say they wanted to buy it. A WARRIOR'S HEART, the first book I sold, was the first manuscript I ever finished. I didn't get an agent until many years later when I decided to try the single title waters. I have to say, I'm still fuzzy on when to call in the agent rather than just picking up the phone and asking questions myself. Poor agent.
MMcG: You’re well known for your medievals. Have you written in other time periods?
MM: Although I most often write medievals, I've written books set in the Dark Ages, Restoration England, Victorian England and the Regency.
MMcG: Do you think the market for historical romance is changing? Is so, how?
MM: I live in hope that the days of Regency domination are coming to an end.
MMcG: Tell us a little about HERS TO COMMAND.
MM: This is the story of a very handsome man who's basically been drifting through life on his looks and charm. He does, of course, have Very Serious Issues beneath that pleasant surface. He meets a woman who, essentially, hires him to command her soldiers. That woman and those circumstances lead to love, and his desire to prove that he's more than a pretty face. The woman who arouses those feelings has, naturally, some Very Serious Issues of her own, and tries very hard not to fall in love with handsome Henry.
This is the fourth book in my Brothers-in-Arms series; Henry is the brother of the heroine in the first book (BRIDE OF LOCHBARR), and their brother was the hero of the second book, LORD OF DUNKEATHE. Henry's was supposed to be the third story, but we hit a bit of a snag, and instead I wound up writing about his friend, Merrick, in THE UNWILLING BRIDE. However, I was able to include Henry in that book, and use an incident from that book to good effect when it came to telling Henry's story, so it all worked out.
MMcG: HERS TO DESIRE is out in August, 2006. What’s it about?
MM: It's about Henry and Merrick's friend, Ranulf, and a character affectionately known as “little Lady Bea.” She's in THE UNWILLING BRIDE, and it's fairly obvious Ranulf likes her. He's in HERS TO COMMAND, too, but it isn't until HERS TO DESIRE that I get them together. I just love Bea —she's a chatty young woman who was a lot of fun to write. And Ranulf...the poor guy. He's so in love with her and trying so hard not to be! I had a blast getting them together—although they are in serious jeopardy in the story, too.
MMcG: Cake or pie?
MM: Oooooh, noooo! Can't I have both? Chocolate cake and cherry pie are my favorites.
MMcG: Okay, you don’t have to choose. What’s your favourite thing about being an author?
MM: I get paid to make things up. I enjoy being self-employed. I never liked group work in school.
MMcG: Your least favourite?
MM: It's very isolated. I literally don't get out much.
MMcG: How much research do you do for your novels? Any tips for aspiring historical authors regarding research?
MM: It varies, depending if I'm using a time period I've already researched, or using a new one. I think the amount of historical detail a writer uses is part of their voice and style, so there's no definitive answer to how much research a writer “should” do. I want things to sound realistic, and I always keep an eye out for the “telling detail,” some interesting and unique tidbit that's indicative of the time and/or place.
MMcG: Where do you get your inspiration? Characters first? Plot? Dreams? Divine intervention?
MM: I start with a character (most often the hero) and a time/place, and build from there. If I start with the hero, I try to imagine the sort of woman that's going to make him furrow his brow a lot. Sometimes I'll get a seed of an idea from my research, sometimes from TV. For instance, my next series is about four half brothers because of Bonanza. I always thought it was neat that Hoss, Joe and Adam (have I got the name of the oldest one right?) had the same father but different mothers.
MMcG: Are you a plotter or a seat-of-your-pantser?
MM: I know the beginning, I know the end, but the middle is a free-for-all.
MMcG: Do you write full time?
MM: Writing is my job, but do I spend eight hours a day at it, five days a week? No. How much time I spend working on a book depends on where I am in the process. If it's the first draft, I take a lot of breaks, because it seems like every sentence is a decision—if I do this, then that can happen. If I do that, then this can happen...and on and on. That gets fatiguing. Once the first draft is done, I work for longer stretches. At the end, I'm literally working morning, noon and night.
I think the hardest thing to get across to somebody who isn't self-employed is that you're never really “away” from your work. It's always there, lurking.
MMcG: That is so true! What are you reading right now?
MM: I just finished DEVIL'S BROOD by Alfred Duggan. It's about the Plantagenets—what a family! It was research and a little dated, but I enjoyed it. There were some great anecdotes about William Marshall I'd never heard before.
MMcG: What are your favourite books, movies, TV shows?
MM: Books —Jane Eyre, Pride and Prejudice, anything by Lucy Maud Montgomery, and several more. I was a bookworm growing up, as my Grade Two teacher noted on my report card.
Movies: Too many to really name, but off the top of my head: Errol Flynn's Robin Hood, Galaxy Quest, The Count of Monte Cristo (latest version), Gladiator
TV —The Amazing Race (my daughter and I have twice gone to NY to watch the season finale at Madison Square Garden, which is how we came to be personally “philiminated” by the Amazing Host, Phil Koegan), Survivor, Lost, The Apprentice, Prison Break, 24 (I could listen to Kiefer Sutherland all day!), Corner Gas. One thing I can't watch is medical shows.
MMcG: Johnny or Brad?
MM: I assume you refer to Johnny Depp and Brad Pitt?
MMcG: Tee hee… You got it!
MM: Johnny. I love Don Juan de Marco (should have that in the list above). Brad's too pretty for me. And I prefer dark hair to blond. Currently at the top of my hierarchy of hotties is Gerard Butler, followed by Richard Armitage, and Jamie Bamber.
MMcG: Good list! What’s the most annoying question you get asked at cocktail parties or book signings? Have I asked it? :-)
MM: It's “Are you still writing?” And it's not annoying so much as rather baffling, as if, once I found out I could actually get paid to write, I'd quit. I appreciate that people really don't know what to ask a writer, though.
MMcG: Are you still writing? Just kidding. What are you working on now?
MM: The first book of a new four book series for HQN (the one about the half brothers). It's called MY LORD'S DESIRE and it's set during the reign of King John. (MY LORD'S DESIRE will be released in February, 2007)
MMcG: What’s your #1 piece of advice for aspiring pre-pub’s?
MM: Write what you want the way you want. Publishers don't want “same old, slightly different characters.” They want new.
MMcG: And my final burning question: Flowers or chocolate?
MM: Chocolate all the way, baby!
MMcG: Great! Now I know how to bribe you if ever I need to! Thanks so much for chatting with me.
Check out Margaret’s website at http://www.margaretmoore.com/
Sunday, December 03, 2006
Turns out they're a Genesis cover band that not only cover Genesis songs... but actually reenact actual concerts--down to the costumes, sets, movements, on stage banter, even (if you believe my brother) the in-the-dark-pre-first-song tuning noises.
Here's a picture of faux Peter Gabriel in concert. (See below for real Peter Gabriel in same silly costume.).
I have to say, the concert was pretty cool, if a little bizarre. Bizarre that so many people are so seriously into the early days of Genesis that they'd want to see these concerts reenacted. Bizarre than many of these people (including my brother) were too young to have ever seen these concerts when they actually happened. (Early 70's)
Me? I didn't discover Genesis until the Duke album... Way past the era being reenacted by The Musical Box. Watching the concert I couldn't help wonder why, if I had as a 10 year old, discovered bands like Yes, (and Rick Wakeman) and Jethro Tull etc. Why not Genesis? (I realized the "cool" bands from the early 70's I did know about were all introduced to me by older cousins or siblings of friends. I guess none of them were into Genesis.)
It also made me slightly nostalgic for the much maligned decade of the 70's. As much bad music came out of that decade, it was also kind of a renaissance period for rock music where exremely talented often classically trained musicians (above bands, plus Frank Zappa come to mind) were exploring the limits of the new electric/electronic instruments--pushing them further than "rock and roll" ever had, creating symphonic-style concerts and albums, rather than a bunch of hit songs.
Now, I'm no sort of music historian so I'm probably talking out of my ass here... but the concert did make me nostalgic for a time when FM radio was avante guard, for a time when not all music had to have hooks or get radio play to be appreciated, for a time when when black lights and strobes were the "coolest things ever!"
Would I have sought out this concert on my own? No way. Did I enjoy the experience? You bet.