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Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Flat on my back

Eek, can there be no worse sign of aging that the bad back. After an attempt at real bowling the past Saturday, I sent my back into terrific turmoil. I then spent the remainder of the weekend laid up on my bed trying not to move. This is naturally a lot harder than it sounds. With each leg extension, head twist, sneeze, cough or laugh, or attempts to get to the bathroom, my lower back would be sent into unceasing spasms. Expletives flowed until the pain ebbed.

Thankfully, there was Trimacet, an excellent analgesia which was coupled with warm and loving back massages from Mr. Hippo and cold compresses. Mom provided the requisite comfort food of rice porridge/congee with pork, chicken and preserved pickled vegetables.

I did get a lot of movie watching done.....Brick, Air Guitar Nation, Eastern Promises, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, The Assassination of Jesse James and Sweeney Todd, the Demon Barber of Fleet well as finish more than half of Bel Canto. Alas, as with all illnesses, the end the start of Monday, the beginning of the work week.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

The Hollywood writers' strike

The first week of January has passed and many are feeling the effects of the on-going TV/Movie screenwriters' strike. No new episodes of Heroes, CSI, Criminal Minds, Lost and other TV series are in sight and the entire season of 24 is likely gone. Only the reality TV shows persist which shows you how much actual production goes into them. All is not lost however, as this "lost" TV season has given me the opportunity to explore my other favourite pastime: the movies.

During this past holiday season, I finally completed Deepta Mehta's trilogy. Having seen Fire on CBC a few times and renting Water last year, I have had to find Earth. But it was in Rogers' Video this week and what a movie. Unconventional and complicated in its depiction of love and betrayal amongst a group of Hindu, Sikh and Muslim friends during the last days of pre-partition Pakistan's Lahore. The only film where I dislike Aamir Khan's role but what a grand performance. Then there was Wong Kar Wai's masterpiece, In the Mood for Love. The music, camera angles, costume and dialogue were in vocative of a time and place that is lost and almost forgotten....Hong Kong in the 1950s. Maggie Cheung's hair and cheongsams were so meticulously constructed, it was not surprising to learn that her makeup, hair and costume took hours. The plot slowly evolved in quiet, pensive and simple scenes. His last film was 2046 that I found far more abstract as 2046 may have been a time or a place or both. His trilogy started with Days of Being Wild which I have yet to see.

Of course, January is the run up to the awards season. So I have been catching up on loads of great movies. The Romanian film, 4 months, 3 weeks and 2 days, depicted a gritty and bleak world of terminating a pregnancy. This films seeks not to be pro-choice or pro-life but focuses on a totalitarian world run by a heartless bureaucracy where only the work of a true friendship saves the day at a huge price. Filmed with a hand held camera to convey a near documentary style, it brings home the fear and urgency of the plight of the protaganists. Not surprising that it won the Palme d'Or this year.

Against my better judgement, I did see Charlie Wilson's war. The true story of a Congressman who managed to raise the budget for the largest covert CIA operation in history. Charlie Wilson raised money to buy and train the mujahideen against the Soviets. I had mixed feelings about this storyline for as we now know, the defeat of the Soviets and the fall of the Cold War, has brought more problems out from the rise of capitalism in the former soviet republics and of course, the rise of the Taliban. Anyway, the only good reason to see the movie is the fabulous scene stealing Philip Seymour Hoffman as the CIA agent with a name that sounds like a fruit.

I'll skip over Atonement altogether save to comment on the gorgeous performance from James McAvoy. I found, however, the relationship between he and Keira Knightley's character lacking well passion. My favourite pick of movies though is No country for old men. This Coen Brothers film delivers award winning performances from both Javier Bardiem and Josh Brolin. The tense interplay between the two lead characters is the key to this film. Quirky like Fargo but accompanied by a sharper and surprisingly funny dialogue, the film's tense and suspenseful direction leads to its unexpected and unconventional end. However, all this talk of award season but be for nought. Neither the Globe Globes or the Academy Awards may see these award shows needs writers too and well, you see the screenwriters are on strike.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Strange New Year's Weather

It looks like the weathermen are in for it in 2008. The weather is becoming more unpredictable. First, 10cm of snow fell on New Year's Eve. Now, the deep freeze is upon us....minus 11 degrees celsius and with the wind chill, it feels like minus 20. Next week, rain is predicted with a midweek high of 13 degrees. I won't be surprised if the rocks start showing their cracks.....