Monday, February 23, 2009

2009 Nominated Film Reviews: Spoiler Alert

Late at night, after the baby and hubby are off to bed, I've been sneaking out for double features of Oscar nominees. I've only seen five films (MILK, SLUMDOG, REVOLUTONARY ROAD, THE WRESTLER and THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTONS-at three hours, no double feature that night) but here are my humble opinions thus far:

MILK. Close to perfect film making for me. Great acting. Relevant story. Passionate moments. Attention to detail. Had a message. I was in San Francisco in 1978, and I remember the vibe and look of Market and Castro, very well. This film captured it perfectly.

I hated SLUMDOG. I don't know if it was the hype or being a mom but the violence to children was relentless and I saw every child as my own and I just couldn't take it. During the blinding scene I nearly vomited.

The last film that had such a physical effect on me was CASINO, when the actor's head was in the vice I got so nauseous that I got up to leave and I fainted. Luckily I was at the Director's Guild in Los Angeles, and someone took care of me.

Sure I thought SLUMDOG was clever in the way each of the answers to his questions could be woven into his life but I also thought it was a one trick pony and did not compensate for the violence.

This movie made me frightened to go to India and deeply saddened that people saw it as a love story and were not outraged by the injustice portrayed in nearly every aspect of their every day lives. I think our society is too desensitized to violence. Yes, I know that I am a bleeding heart, empath, overly sensitive psychic and I take that into consideration, but still, I saw this movie as an out cry for the Mumbai experience of most, not a love story of hope for a few.

I did NOT appreciate the Bollywood dance at the end. By then my sense of humor had been raped from my spirit and I was nothing more than an empty cavern of sorrowful remorse for my fellow human being.

Also wasn't impressed with THE WRESTLER, but could appreciate the attention to detail and the significance of the story we all will live out on some level. I thought the acting was good but not great. I was more impressed with the story. What was up with his white fingernails? Every person I ask has no idea what I am talking about.

REVOLUTIONARY ROAD: while I adore Kate, her acting wasn't what impressed me, it was the subtle thread of the feminist struggle that won me over. I saw her character as a modern day Virgina Woolfe. I thought the affectation of vocal cadence was distracting from Leo and Kate's acting. I got the joke about the 1950s and one's inability to be authentic in the face of convention during that era but I thought the direction was ceaseless on that aspect and could have been more of a spice than a main dish component.

Thus far my favorite film is (reluctantly) THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON. I get the Forest Gump comparison and I think most people have some part of their subconscious that isn't willing to fork over great acting accolades to a beautiful man who seems to have it all. But is was the only dog gone movie with hope, that took me away to a better place for three hours. And because of that, it was the first time I wasn't annoyed at a movie for being longer than 120 minutes, I was grateful. I say reluctantly because I don't consider myself a sucker for sap, I'm usually the one with the taste buds for edgier cinema. Perhaps it's the economy or the general state of fatigue in and around the world today but at this moment in my life, I feel too close to the edge to crave it. Right about now I like myself a bit of silly, happy fantasy WITHOUT violence against children, thank you very much!

Wait...I also saw THE VISITOR, early in the year. Loved it. Truly terrific acting. Deserves all its accolades.

Release Party Update

I cannot do the dieting thing. I think it's dangerous on so very many levels: physically, mentally, spiritually, psychologically, and even psychically. It creates obsessive compulsive addiction behavior and I am just too old for that s@*t. I'm a grown woman, not a 15-year-old writing in my diary.

I don't want to "lose" anything. I'd like to lovingly release my excess weight so that I can dance again, in a ballet studio, in a leotard and tights, not baggy sweats. I'm too over heated by peri menopausal hot flashes to hide behind clothes. Summer will be here before I know it and it's time to make some serious changes to my body if for nothing else than my own physical comfort level.

The key to healthy change is routine, clean and simple. That comes from balance. I eat what I want (not always so balanced as much as indulgence) and I exercise as much as I can. As of yet, I have seen no change on the scale but I think scales are for weighing produce and despite what the construction workers say, I am not a muy caliente tomatilla.

I judge by the way my clothes feel and most importantly how my spirit feels. I LOVE to move and be physical, my challenge is having the energy to do so. I am sleep deprived. I haven't slept for more than 2 hours straight in nearly three years. One needs sleep to have the energy to move. When I do sleep I use whatever energy reserves I have for my highest priorities and my goal is to make myself one of those priorities.

Here's some notes from January/February on my process:

Tracy Anderson: trainer to Madonna, Gwyneth and now jd smith. I'm using "The Tracy Anderson Method" (Post-Pregnancy Workout DVD). This woman is Casper the friendly sadist. The day after struggling through the first 15 minutes of the routine I awoke with massive back spasms and was out of commission for a week. Note to self: MODIFICATION!

I am doing better. I just have to be really present when I exercise with how my body is feeling. I have way too many health issues to push myself the way others can. I do push myself more than I should with my energy because I always have so much I want to do. I keep thinking if I could just finish all the projects I have going and not start anymore, I will feel a sense of peace and accomplishment and can therefore make space for me to release my excess weight by exercising more and planning my meals better. I know that's probably never going to happen but I act as if it will nonetheless.

The video is good and speaks to me because she was a dancer, as was I, so the way she uses her body ignites my own muscle memory. Having said that, I think these exercises were created ONLY for people at the fitness level of Madonna so I don't know if it's practical for people like me.

Here's my exercise update today, Monday. Thank you for indulging me as an audience it gives me another reason to exercise as I compose a review to you while doing so. I got back on the horse today. Proud of myself for that. But still did not make it through the entire workout. I had to do a lot of modifications and take breaks. I have to constantly remind myself that I am not at her level so I need to honor my level. I am not getting as discouraged as I have in the past. But I do feel a bit of anxiety at her expectations which is that I do the floor routine (still don't know how long it is, maybe 60-90 mins) in addition to the cardio dance routine SIX DAYS A WEEK. For now I am doing as much of the floor routine as I can every other day and "exercise-beach walks" versus "casual-beach walks" on the alternate days. When I get to the point when I can make it through the entire floor routine I will start adding days and once I can do that one six days a week I will start the cardio, may take a month...or so!

This work is not easy and when you have to put a lot of effort into something you don't want to sabotage that effort. When I do her DVD I eat better throughout the day, make better choices because I want to see the fruits of my labor, maybe that fruit is the kind we weigh at home.

I am still with the program but have yet to reach the point where exercise gives me more energy versus less. For now, the workouts are so hard that I am exhausted the next day. I skipped the past two days because of schedule conflicts and when I wanted to do it today and had the energy I had a toddler preventing me by hurling Leggos at my head. As if these killer moves aren't hard enough without friendly fire in my temporal lobes. I plan to get back to it tomorrow. Have yet to make it through the entire DVD, but will.

Made it through the whole video today! Hip hip hooray! It's the first time that I have hope that this will work for me and change my body back to the butterfly it once was...or at least get me less caterpillar looking. The arms and legs part is more manageable for me than the abs. That is killer and my weakest body part. But the other is great for a dancers muscle memory.

Regarding this "exercise thing.": I have barely made it through three times a week. At some point during every workout with Tracy I actually believe that I am going to die. Which is still a step above yoga which sent me to a coma before killing me (not a yoga fan).

I still have sweat dripping in my ears. Body maintenance is so UN attractive! But I love the way my muscles feel after doing her routine, it's just getting through it that I struggle with. ps her arm routine is the simplest and most effective I have ever done...but none of it is "easy."

Hubby said he is impressed with how defined my stomach is getting. I think he's just trying to seduce me (it's working). I am now at the point where I can get through the entire DVD (60 mins) each time, but I do need to go at a slower pace (so it takes me about 90mins with breaks). There are still about 2 or 3 moves that I skip or modify beyond recognition, but hey, a gals got to do what she can to stay in the game.

Good news is: I crave these workouts. I love the way I feel after one and for the rest of the day. I still need a day off to recover after a day of working out, but I know my recovery time is getting shorter. I am fully committed to this as I find myself skipping things I love in place of rest to prepare for exercise.

I am asking for the cardio workout Tracy suggests, as a birthday gift from hubby. I think I'll get it.

Took a tour of the nearest ballet academy today and am dreaming about taking classes again. May still be a few months from now. We'll see. I feel hopeful. It's a nice feeling.

2009 Academy Awards Review:

I think it was the best Oscars in 20 years!

What can we do to ensure this again? Who can we write to praise?

The past few years I have been devastatingly disappointed with various efforts to change up the Oscars. From having people accept their Oscars in the isles (hideously lame) to turning the event into an Ellen show (even though I adore her, she made the show about her instead of the Awards and it was tasteless and self-indulgent).

Last night was stupendous. It was so well done.

I don't recall anyone being played off the stage because their speech was too long (so tacky and cruel). I presume this was because there was less presenter banter and fewer televised awards. Let's keep it this way!

I loved the combining of the nominated songs even if Peter did not.

Hugh was a delight (I am a huge Billy fan, love me some Whoopie and Steve and even liked Dave but Hugh might just be perfect). He entertained and as he said, brought more show and less biz into the festivities. He stayed out of the way and we nearly forgot there was a host until he would pop up and entertain us again.

The musical number felt a bit disjointed but I give it an A for ambitious, valiant effort. I am NOT fan of Beyonce but was so glad to see someone with her body type next to all the anorexic twigs on the carpet. Angelina's arms are scary thin. Natalie Portman is the size of my daily afternoon snack, she's the fourth meal at Taco Bell. And most the dames were nothing much past silicone on bone. But I still love a parade.

I was very impressed with the entire look and feel of the show and ESPECIALLY the way each nominee was given a few minutes of spotlight by prior recipients to be recognized, honored and truly celebrated for being nominated. Class act all the way!

I cried more in this show than I did in all the others combined and that's saying something since the Oscars are my annual self-pity party for my lost dreams and personal deficits ranging from physical challenges and financial losses to career failures and familial abandonments. But I like to cry. I find it cathartic and now that I am a mom (role model) I can't break down and cry as a release as much as I used to without frightening my child and making her feel that her mother is emotionally unstable. I think the ones who cry are the most stable because there is no combustible components in them ready to explode as they always have a slow leak, letting it all drain out.

But I missed the acceptance speeches that make me have the "ugly cry" like Halle Berry's, Cuba Gooding Jr.'s and that Italian guy who jumped on the chairs. But just looking into the weepy eyes of thinner, richer, more successful people than myself was good enough. I was touched that they were touched...and a tiny bit pained at the loss four out of five of them knew they would experience.

For many actors this is a life long dream come true, a few minutes to bask in the glory isn't asking too much even if other deserving members of the industry in more technical areas of production have to sacrifice a public acceptance speech for it. If those people wanted to be in the spotlight they wouldn't be working behind the scenes. They get mentioned. They get an award. I think that's enough. Let the actors, writers and directors give the speeches, it's usually more inspirational and entertaining for all of us and isn't that what this self-absorbed, magical, circus is all about: being inspired and entertained (if not also inducing self-loathing)?

While I am not a fan of SLUMDOG mania, I get it and expected it would win. I was happy with all the awards and like usual, thought most everyone nominated deserved to be.

Hated the dresses with seat belt straps across them. I prefer the classic gowns.

But I always enjoy seeing people get all dolled up in uncomfortable boning and high pointed heel shoes while I sit in my sweats, cozy as can be feeling for a few simple hours that I have it better than them in one small but significant way no matter how impermanent. And sure, while I wish I had the abundance of Kate Winslet: she's authentic, talented, beautiful, young, wealthy, successful and has a husband and children….I bet she doesn't have time to make the memorable scrapbooks for her kids that I have which hopefully will mean something to them if they don't get destroyed in a fire, flood, Tsunami or earthquake.

Life is a trade off. I dreamt my entire life of living the dream I watch others live and my life isn't over so the dream lives on… but I also bask in the glory of my simple life in this moment of now. My life of having the priviledge of putting my child to bed each night and staying at home all through the night should she wake, reading to her, dancing with her, cooking and cleaning for her, being in a mom's group because she made me a mom, bloggling and Facebook-ing about her and me and life, going to ballet classes, home schooling, scrapbooking, care giving for family and friends, baking from scratch, walking on the beach without photogs taking unflattering pictures of me in my scraggly swimsuit and privacy wherever I go while wearing comfortable clothes and shoes.

My award is the string of simple pleasures I wear in lieu of diamonds and pearls…

…and someday It would be nice to hang it on an Oscar.