Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Where the Wild Things Are (October 16, 2009)

A live-action film of Maurice Sendak's "Where the Wild Things Are". Who's excited? I most certainly am. Let's hope Spike Jonze doesn't disappoint. With Forrest Whitaker playing the voice of the wild thing, it's sure to be an instant hit in my heart. I read the book more times than I could count as a child, and I have a feeling I'll be watching this movie more than once (at least).

It doesn't hurt that The Arcade fire is played in the trailer, either. :) I'm crossing my fingers for an equally as memorable soundtrack.

EDIT: the video was replaced with one that works. sorry about that.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Looking Forward: The 2010 release of Alice in Wonderland

Another Tim Burton / Johnny Depp collaboration? I thought I would have grown tired of such a thing, but Depp as the Mad Hatter tickles me to the very core. I cannot wait to see him play this role. Here's hoping Burton follows his traditional route & shows the "darker side" of the story, and judging by this photograph of Depp as the Mad Hatter, he probably will. Kudos to him for sticking to his guns!

By the looks of things, this will be an incredible movie. The young, fragile looking blonde who is playing the part of Alice looks to be the perfect candidate for the role. Although the choice of Anne Hathaway as the White Queen is a bit shaky to me, (I can't stop seeing the little princess of Genovia every time I see that face) here's hoping she'll prove me wrong! And, of course, every Tim Burton film has to feature his wonderful wife, Helena Bonham Carter. She will be playing the Red Queen. I think this is a good choice, she can do sinister quite well, as she showed us in Sweeney Todd. My favourite choice was Stephen Fry as the Cheshire cat. Take a look at him! He is absolutely perfect for the role.

We shall see if Burton's most expected film of 2010 will excite or disappoint. Here's hoping for the former.

Movie Review: The Watchmen

Who watches the watchmen? I most certainly did, & I wasn't alone. Millions of people around the country rolled into theatres to watch this highly expected film. But was it worth it? I most certainly think so.

From the diverse cast (mmm, Jeffrey Dean Morgan) to the incredibly unique filming, this movie didn't even come close to disappointing me, although I can see where some people might have been less than thrilled with it. The artistic approach is rarely accepted by all. However, I greatly enjoyed everything about this film: the casting, the filming, & the editing. It was far from a disappointment.

I'd have to say Rorschach was my favourite character in the movie. But thank Jesus H. Christ they didn't show his face for most of the film, Jackie Earle Haley isn't a very pretty person. But Rorschach's snide comments and dry humor stole the show. If you were quick enough to catch his incredibly sarcastic jabs, you had yourself a giggle or two.

*SPOILER* My favourite scene? The scene in the jail when Rorschach followed the "little man" into the bathroom... the door swinging back & forth to reveal snippets of what you knew was happening was incredibly creative... and the toilet flush at the end sealed the deal.

All-in-all, the film was incredible. If you aren't a huge fan of the more creatively shot films, you probably want to wait until this one is out on DVD. It's well worth the movie ticket, regardless.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

My top 5 favourite places in the Midwest-ish.

(in order, finally!)

5. Holiday World (Santa Claus, IN): I had to put a theme park in here, didn't I? Why not put one that's a bit lesser known? I pretty much went here every year growing up. It's a small park with three wooden rollercoasters & some other fun rides, but the atmosphere is unmatchable. They also have a pretty awesome waterpark (with free sunscreen), and have won awards for being the cleanest & friendliest theme park in the US. Not to mention the best part: free soft drinks! They have stations all around the park where you can duck in & get some cold beverages. Can't beat that! website

4. Mammoth/Merango Caves (IN & KY):
I don't know what it is about them, but I love caves. I love the mystery of them, the beauty of them, and most of all... the coldness of them. The atmosphere is unmatched. I even went "dirty spelunking" in Merango Cave & got down & dirty in the mud. Sliding down a cliff on my belly into a pool of water in the middle of a cave is quite an experience! Also a fun feature in Merango is the "bat cave" crawling area. I'm not sure if it's still there, but it allows you to crawl through a wooden replica of a tight cave. It's dark, disorienting, but quite fun! Don't be afraid to bump your head once or twice. merango

3. Gatlinburg, Tennessee: Yes, the whole town is my favourite place. There are tons of shops lining the street which snakes up the mountains, an amazing lift which takes you up the mountainside, and wonderful trails that you can take. It's an almost otherworldly place. I've never visited a place where I got so many beautiful photographs in my life! Visit the "highest point in the Smokey Mountains", you may not see much because of the fog that covers it much of the year, but the fog alone makes it a sight to see. website

2. Garden of the Gods (IL):
One of the most beautiful places in the area, truly. Situated pretty much in the middle of nowhere Illinois, this place will have you on your tip-toes in awe of it. You can climb on the rock formations (CAREFULLY!) and look down the mountains into the trees below. It's beautiful & majestic. When you go, also stop by Cave In Rock, IL. (You can get there via Ferry... which is also quite fun) It's a tiny town of around 300 people... situated around one big open cave. website cave-in-rock

1. St. Louis City Museum:
This is literally the most magical place I've ever been. From giant pipe organs that span several stories and fill the entire 10 story building with music to lifesize white whales you can climb on top of and peer through the blowhole at your friends below, this is a place for the young and the old alike. I often call this place a "playground for adults". You can do anything from watch a circus to climb two stories in wire tubes into a real airplaine stories above the ground. Quite literally my favourite place in the world. website

Monday, March 16, 2009

Top Useful Websites of 2009

1. Twitter: The new phenomenon! I adore twitter. Not only is it simple & free, but it's so easy to access on so many different platforms. Twitter on your blackberry, iphone, PSP, Firefox plugin, or website. Seriously, how can it get more accessible? Here are some links & plugins for those wanting to get into the twit: (a firefox twitter plugin, i use this & find it quite useful!)
twitterberry (for those that wish to tweet on their blackberry)
iphone (an iphone app that is clean & colourful for twitting!)

2. Digg: For everchanging interesting news & information, Digg is the place to look. Based on "diggs", or votes, websites, videos, & photos climb & fall down the list, making it easy to see what the world is interested in. I've found many many interesting articles this way. Digg is WONDERFUL. You can even get a firefox plugin & Digg things yourself! :)
Digg for Firefox

3. StumbleUpon: Similar to Digg, but you only need to push a button to "stumble" onto new & interesting websites of your topic choices. :) Great if you love surfing the internet & get bored with the same old websites very easily. I recommend downloading the firefox extention for it as well. I've spent countless hours stumbling!

SU Firefox addon

4. UrbanDictionary: Always wondered what that slang term your friend always says means? This is the best place to find definitions for offbeat words.


5. Guerrilla Mail: For those times in which you need an e-mail address... ANY e-mail address but your own. Useful for websites where you need an e-mail for an activation code, but are sure you'll get spam later. The e-mail stays active for 15 minutes, allowing you to grab the activation link and... voila! You're done.


6. FreeTranslation: If you need a quick translation of a word or sentence in a diffrerent language, use this website. Simply click on FREE TRANSLATION. :)


7. BugMeNot: Gives you useable login information for many popular websites that require you to register before browsing. So useful if you want to try before signing up, or only need to use it momentarily!


8. Woot: One day, one deal. Every day, auctions off a limited supply of ONE item. The deals are atrociously amazing, and it changes every day! Check back for anything your heart desires, besides the kitchen sink.


9. Skype: I don't know where I'd be without Skype. Free computer-to-computer calls in any country & awesome rates for computer-to-phone calls. Makes international calling much cheaper... and much easier! For computer-to-computer conversations, grab a webcam & utilize the video talk feature. Probably the best of its kind! Also a messaging platform for those that wish to type instead of talk.


10. Nutsie: Create an online copy of your ITunes, or listen to other people's playlists. Wonderful for finding new music, or listening to your music on the go! Can also be used on some mobile phones!


11. eSnailer: Allows you to send snail mail letters FREE from the internet to anywhere in the United States!


12. OhDon'tForget!: a useful website that sends free (text message rates apply) text messages to you (or others!) reminding you of anything you wish or telling your friend happy birthday for you! So useful if you don't want to forget the milk after work.


5 Movies to be Excited About in 2009

(in no particular order)

1. Nine (December):
This movie is looking to be an incredibly adorable, but smart, movie. Not only does it have a star-studded cast, but it's looking to be a wonderfully animated film. IMDB

2. S. Darko (not announced): FINALLY. The sequel to the amazing movie, Donnie Darko. Following the story about Donnie's younger sister Samantha Darko in her later years, the curiosity of the plot is killing me. IMDB

3. The Lovely Bones (March): Based on the incredible book by Alice Sebold, this movie could go two ways: it could be wonderful, or it could greatly disappoint. (I'm going to assume it's going to be awesome, & pay the money for the ticket) Directed by Peter Jackson, how can you go wrong? I adored the book & am looking forward to adoring the film. IMDB

4. The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus (not announced): Ahh, the final performance of the late, great Heath Ledger. A film full of curiosities and wonderfulness. I cannot wait until this hits the big screen, if only to see Heath's final bow. IMDB

5. Angels & Demons (May): Although the first film starring Tom Hanks failed to excite, I'm crossing my fingers that this one will be better. A&D is my absolute favourite Dan Brown book, so if it's ruined, I'll be furious! IMDB

4 Movies that Everyone Should See, & 3 to Skip

Now, before I begin, I realize that there are going to be some disagreements with this list. But, then again, aren't there disagreements for pretty much everything in the world? Regardless of how you feel about this list, let me know. :)

4 Movies Everyone Should See-
1. Coraline: For those of you that are a big fan of "Nightmare Before Christmas", be ready for a film that's just a bit different. Made entirely out of tangible figures with stop-motion animation, this film is not only a movie, but a piece of art. Although it's a bit dark for younger children, the older will appreciate its more aged humor. I absolutely adored this film, & I recommend at least seeing it once. It can't hurt to try. :) (Also check out the book by Neil Gaiman. It's quite different from the movie, but wonderful.)

2. He's Just Not that Into You: I read the book when I was merely 16 & found the advice helpful. The movie, which is based on the tips in the book but set to a fictional storyline, is equally as cute. The star-studded cast are sure to please. :) I laughed, I cried, I devoured popcorn. It's not quite DVD buying worthy, but it's definitely worth the movie ticket or the Blockbuster rental.

3. Seven Pounds: I'm a big fan of Will Smith, and this movie didn't prove me wrong. It's such a sad, sad story. But I can't say too much about it without giving away the plot! Definitely worth the rental.

4. The Boy in the Striped Pajamas: This movie is so surprising. I've seen many movies about the Holocaust, & it's surprising to have an original concept. This movie is based on a book, which is also a recommended read. It's a simply-shot movie, but still manages to be beautiful in its greyness. Definitely a must-see.

3 Movies to SKIP-
: If I could undo seeing this movie, I probably would. I greatly enjoyed the books, but the movie failed to please. Although Kristen Stewart (Bella) gave a nod-worthy performance, her lead-role counterpart, Robert Pattinson (Edward), was nothing to smile at. He was nothing like I pictured Edward in the book. His acting left something to be desired. This movie may be worth a rental once it comes off the New Release shelves, but nothing more... at least to me.

2. Disaster Movie: (or any movie of the sort) Sure, Scary Movie was an original of its time. But how many more of these stupid parody movies can we make? I believe they've covered every single movie genre. I certainly hope the next step is not to start making up new ones. Not even worth the RENTAL, let alone a movie ticket. Skip this one altogether.

3. The Tracey Fragments: I'm usually a huge fan of Ellen Page, & even in this movie her acting did not disappoint. It was the confusing, artsy filming that made the movie sporadic & confusing. The storyline is hard to follow & the way the film is edited is choppy and misconstruing. This movie is worth a rental, but not a buy. You may not want to see it again after you see it once.

Monday, March 2, 2009

5 tips for college students.

Being a college student, I wish I would have been given heartfelt advice from a seasoned student before I took the plunge, besides the cliche "IT'S GOING TO BE HARD! YOU WON'T HAVE A LIFE!". So here is MY two cents, because everyone knows college students need every penny they can get. :)

1. The first semester, take as many classes you'd enjoy as possible: Your advisers are probably going to push you to get into as many core classes as possible your first semester. If you're the kind of student who can handle it & want to get them out of the way, more power to you. But if you're like me, you probably aren't quite prepared to utilize the awesome study habits needed to succeed in college. If you're like this, I strongly suggest enrolling mostly in classes that are considered "electives", or even core classes that you enjoy. Try to stay away from the classes you hate or are horrible at, at least for the first semester. (You can't avoid them forever!) Study as hard as possible, develop a system for organization & studying and stick to it in the future semesters. But don't get too comfortable, realize that you'll probably have a bigger work load in the semesters to come. I found it much easier to ease into the college experience than to dive in head-first.

2. STUDY UNTIL YOUR BRAIN HURTS!: (you've probably heard this one a million times, that's because it's TRUE.) ...especially if you had a bad track record with studying in high school. Pretty much no matter what your study level was in high school, you'll need to step it up for college. Professors (unless you have the lazier ones) don't tell you exactly what's going to be on the test anymore. The test questions are spread out all over the notes, the book, and other reading materials. It's not as easy as it once was. So, if you complained about study load in High School, buckle your seat belt and call your friends & tell them you won't be able to hang out this weekend. You'll be able to have a more steady social life once you get into the swing of things.

3. Hang out with people who take school seriously: I sound like a nagging mother, I swear I'm not. If you surround yourself with people who have a drive to succeed, especially when it comes time to study for the big test or write that 596 page paper, you'll have an increased drive to get them done. This may not happen immediately, it's not like pixie dust. But you'll slowly find yourself more and more motivated to kick ass in school when you see people around you doing it. This does not mean all of your friends have to be straight A students. Just have a small circle of friends or acquaintances to boost your own motivation. (For the record, yes I'm asking you to use people for your own self-advancement. Have fun!)

4. Be strong enough in yourself to not NEED a ton of socialization:
Many kids think that when they graduate high school, their social life BEGINS! This is a jaded concept. You need to go into college with enough strength in yourself to realize that missing a night out with your friends won't kill you, and it also won't kill them. If your friends hate you for not hanging out with them while they teepee yards and booze it up for one night, you need to rethink your BFFs. Try to befriend people who are also in college. People who aren't in school have a hard time understanding your desire to succeed rather than partying 24/7. Students in Japan go to school for over 300 days of the year. You have plenty of breaks and vacations in which you can socialize and party all you want. If you party more than you study, don't expect grades you can take home to mom.

5. Realize that SOMEONE is paying for your education:
Whether you took out a student loan or mommy & daddy are paying for school, SOMEONE is paying for it. (I shouldn't even have to mention scholarship / grant / financial aid students. You do know that if you get bad enough grades, you lose that, right?) Sit down & take a long look at the bills you rack up for college expenses. Even if you're attending a community college, between classes, supplies, & books you accumulate a bill of around $3,000 a semester. If you're going to school for 2 years (4 semesters), that's $12,000. That's enough for a brand new pretty awesome car, or a down payment on a small house. No matter who is shelling out the dough for your education, don't take advantage of it. Keep in mind that if they're paying for it, they can just as easily NOT pay for it. Contrary to popular belief, parents don't have an obligation to pay for their children's schooling after high school. You're blessed if they did it willingly, try to let them know you appreciate it by doing as well as you possibly can.

While most of this might seem cheesy and/or cliche, keep in mind that if you've heard it a million times from a million people, it probably has some truth to it. Unless you want to work your ass off until you're 65 or flip burgers and barely scrape by on rent, you need a college education. If you can succeed without one, congratulations. You're in the minority. Don't slack off and get lazy, you'll just be in school that much longer. Get it done & over with, get an awesome job, and retire when you're 45 on a luxury yacht in the Carribean. Okay, so even people who go to college don't usually do that, but it's possible! Most of all, have fun. College is an amazing opportunity, especially if someone is paying for it for you. They're giving you something that will set you up for the rest of your life.

Good luck!