Archive for July, 2008

The Other Boleyn Girl

The Movie Club tried to use Video On Demand to watch The Other Boleyn Girl, but since it wasn’t a part of the list, we rented it on Blu-Ray. I was highly disappointed by this movie. I was expecting it to be comparable to The Tudors (of which, I’ve only seen the first few episodes). Miles thinks it was mostly the direction. He’s probably right.

There were so many times where I thought, “What? That doesn’t even make sense!” If you’re pulled out of the movie in this way, it’s never a good sign – and it happened multiple times. So many things unexplained and characters would do things that just didn’t make sense for the way they had set them up. Even though you probably know how it all ends, I don’t want to go into specifics of this because of spoilers.

I couldn’t hear anything that was said because everything was spoken in a whisper, no matter how loud the TV was.

Ever since this SNL digital short, (offensive language/suggestion used) I can’t help but thoroughly enjoy Natalie Portman – even though I didn’t enjoy the way her character was portrayed in certain parts of the movie (again, probably a reflection of the direction). Eric Bana and Scarlett Johansson did probably as best as they could. But the intensity of the passion and scandals weren’t as intense as I felt it should have been and when any of the characters were convicted wrongly at trial, or at even if convicted justly, I didn’t feel bad for them. The whole movie left me feeling … *blah*. Miles asked me, three hours later, what I thought of it and it took several moments to even remember what we had seen. It left no impression.

I *did* enjoy one thing from the movie. The exterior establishing shots. They were of buildings and villages in a style I tend to fall in love with – high contrast with a hint of a goldish hue. If the rest of the movie had been in this same style, I would have had something to be interested in.

It was a movie based on historical events and it could have been better. I have such a bland feeling toward it that I don’t know how to rate it, but just for the sake of rating, I give The Other Boleyn Girl a 2 out of 5 stars.

Watch The Tudors instead – it’s about most of the same characters.

Edit 07/11/08, 8:45PM: Miles has reminded me the reason why we didn’t continue watching The Tudors was because what we saw contained a surprising amount of partial nudity; it is rated Mature.  The Other Boleyn Girl did not have nudity; it is rated PG-13.

Bleed Green

If any of you read blogs written by anyone other than your friends, it’s likely you’ve run across a “green” post or two. Miles and I are trying to reduce our carbon footprint, save energy, and save money. You can, too!

Some things we/I currently do, or try to do:

  • Bring canvas/fabric bags to the grocery store. HyVee will take 25 cents off your bill if you use them! Hopefully we can end up like Ireland (I think) who *charges* 33 cents per plastic bag – then everyone would start bringing reusable bags! Even Walmart, who is definitely not considered green, has updated their plastic bag turntables to include one (yes, just one) fabric bag holder to make it easier for cashiers to bag.
  • Wash full loads only in the washing machine and dishwasher and wash clothes with cold water.
  • Use a Brita water filter for drinking water so we can bring water bottles to work, instead of buying bottled water.
  • Save unused napkins from restaurants and keep them at my desk for future use. Subway’s napkins are 100% recycled fiber with at least 60% post-consumer material with no chlorine and uses water-based ink.
  • Send in our empty ink cartridges in the recycle envelope provided by the manufacturer.
  • Get multiple uses out of the plastic bags we *do* still have bunched up in a pile in the closet.
  • Replacing normal light bulbs with CFL’s.
  • Replacing current cleaning products with non-toxic ones – as they run out.
  • Turn off air conditioning and heat while out of the apartment

Most of these things we don’t even realize are saving the environment (and our budgets), they just something we’ve always done that just come natural. Some of them require a little more effort.

Some things we/I don’t currently do:

  • Don’t rinse dirty dishes before loading into the dishwasher.
  • Have live plants inside or outside to improve air quality.
  • Eat lunch at work one day a week to save gas usage.
  • Drive at speeds that have the best gas mileage for my car.
  • Get serious about recycling pop bottles and cans and other household plastics/aluminum.
  • Recycling printer paper.
  • Purchase products for their recyclability, rather than price. (Look for numbers in the recycling triangle symbols, look for products that have little packaging or packaging that uses recycled materials.)
  • Asking for no receipt if given the option.
  • Setting thermostat higher in the summer and lower in the winter.
  • Unplugging items that aren’t in use – cell phone charger, computer, etc.
  • Use ceiling fans (none in our apartment).
  • Use shower heads that conserve water
  • Encourage employers and coworkers to print less (most-specifically, websites and emails).

These lists aren’t all-inclusive. It’s what I’ve come up with quick off the top of my head and with little research. Make a list of what *you’re* doing – use websites like this one to help get you started. I think you’ll be surprised by how much you already do without thinking about it. There’s always more we can do, so today I challenge you to pick a “green” new habit.

Earth thanks you.

Hancock

Ticket stub for Hancock When we arrived at the Rausch Reunion on Thursday, about 18 cousins (and 2nd/3rd cousins) were set to go see Hancock, so we joined them. I enjoyed the first half of the movie. I hated the second half. And it seemed like pretty much all of the first half I’d already seen in previews. The second half had this odd twist that 1) I saw coming with the first very slight indication and 2) did not add depth to the movie, nor improved it.

I did enjoy the story and struggle of Hancock. I was also really pleased to find that Jason Bateman, playing Ray, has a much large role in this film than I thought. But of course, the story of Hancock and Ray trying to help his image, wasn’t the main plot in this movie and that left me highly disappointed.

The visual effects were less than satisfactory. The compositing of Hancock flying through a city was a wreck and the only way they could hide it was by shaking the camera and adding a motion blur to his image.

I’d like to get more in depth with this, but this is truly all I can say without spoiling it.

The first half of Hancock gets a 4 out of 5 stars. The second half gets a 2. So all together, Hancock gets a 3 out of 5 stars.

WALL•E

Wall•E ticket stub

The Movie Club met for WALL•E tonight – saw it on DLP (so worth it). We have been looking forward to this movie for over a year – since we’d seen the preview last summer, I think for Pirates 3. So I was worried the anticipation would ruin it because expectations would have been high. I was glad to find out little was ruined.

The animation and modeling were the best I have seen from Pixar, yet. A lot of it looked almost photo realistic. Except for the animated humans…they looked like all Pixar humans look like, so sometimes it felt a little strange to be seeing such detail in the robots and such simplistic renderings together in the same movie. Pixar is known for their detail. And this movie is no exception. With every scene, I learned something new about how Wall•E works. And I actually craved to know more about the other robots we saw and all of their little characteristics, but there’s only so much you can do. I really enjoyed the future Earth (over 800 years from now) and the little history you find out from all the piles of junk Wall•E sorts through. For this paragraph alone, it is worth seeing.

The character interaction was more than I expected. Pixar does a great job with dialogue, but as you’ve probably guessed by any previews you may have seen, Wall•E doesn’t have much for vocabulary. And yet, somehow they were able to make me giggle, almost non-stop at times with his “dialogue” and interactions with things/people/robots.

There were a few disappointments.

One of the things I love about Pixar is how they make a whole new world in (most of) their movies. Like Monsters, Inc, Cars, Finding Nemo. And they always take it to that next step. I wanted to learn more about Wall•E’s life on Earth. I wanted to learn more about what was going on in space. But they make up for it in Wall•E’s and friends’ character development. Unfortunately, I sometimes felt like Wall•E’s character development was so advanced, that we missed jokes and quirks. And that makes me think the younger audience it’s bound attract will miss even more. Which brings me to my next disappointment.

I felt as though the plot was pushing some agendas. An environmental agenda and a “keep yourself healthy” agenda. While I don’t necessarily disagree with the agenda, I do disagree with pushing it in a children’s movie.

The last thing I was slightly disappointed by was how slow the movie felt. While I was always fascinated by Wall•E and some other characters, the plot *was* slow and simple and the lack of *real* dialogue would make it extremely hard for a younger audience to interpret or pay attention to. This movie is best for upper-elementary school aged and above.

I’ve got to leave you with a happy note. It was a great movie and not at all a disappointment, worth seeing in the theaters. I give Wall•E a 4 out of 5 stars. And for the Mac users, there’s a few surprises for you.

Oh yeah, also, I *love* Pixar animated shorts.

So Long, Gigglebees

Entrance to GigglebeesAs kids, Dad would take us to Sioux Falls in August to go shopping for school supplies.  (He’s a teacher, so he had summers off too.) Then we’d get to eat out for supper and do something fun. It was called “Kids’ Day”, (since our parents each had their own parental day). More often than not, our Kids’ Day celebration was at Gigglebees. As my brother, Adam, and I got older, we ventured on to other things like Thunder Road or a movie, but since my sister, Marissa, was 5 years younger than me (8 years for my brother), we still went to Gigglebees every few years, and still enjoyed it. We all had birthdays in April, and we’d get a coupon in the mail from Wilbur, so many of our early birthdays were spent there as well.

I was fascinated by the robotic raccoon-like animal on the tricycle. I remember the day I figured out that the robot was controlled by the guy behind the mirror – and that was a sad day. I had grown up. I also remember all the useless trinkets I would get as prizes for games like skee ball. Like the chinese finger trap I accidentally broke many years after I forgot I had it.

Dad recalls memories of Gigglebees adventures: “I remember the tradition of going to Gigglebees on many birthdays. The video games and bumper cars were fun. And you kids either loved or were terrified of Wilbur!” Our feelings toward Wilbur are confusing for us too, Dad.

Adam remembers, fondly: “My Gigglebees memory is when dad was playing a racecar driving game and I needed money. So he gave me his wallet and I took out some money. Then I put his wallet on the floor next to him. Well, either he forgot this or he never knew I put it there, but anyway after we left Gigglebees he realized he didn’t have it, so we went back to that spot and the wallet was still there. Unfortunately, none of his cash was.” What a great place.

Marissa struggles: “I tried to think but I can’t remember any.” It’s OK, sister. Life’s tough.

I’m sure Mom would have something to share, but I’m too impatient for her to get home from work and reply to my email for memories. She’ll comment if she has any to share.

The last day Gigglebees is open is Thursday, July 3rd. According to local blogs I have been reading, the land is being redeveloped and so the building will be gone soon. They are looking for someone to purchase the entire business and those persons would need to find a new building to restart Gigglebees in. We ate there today for lunch. It wasn’t like I remembered it, and I probably shouldn’t have gone because of that.

I wonder what they’ll do with the games. And if they’ll be selling Wilbur.

Photo courtesy of Adam Bubolz.