Monday, April 19, 2010

Top 20 Films of the 2000's, Part I

Okay, so I promised this post...a million years ago. But here it is, compiled, but definitely still undergoing edits. And they're not in order (except the top 3). That's just too hard. It was difficult enough to come up with a reasonable list. So here goes.

20. Memento

I only just watched this film about three months ago. It was on instant Netflix and it was in my queue for a long time and so I decided to just watch it one day. And I am so glad I did. I was told a number of times that it was really strange and confusing, but that didn't prepare me for what I was watching one bit. I love this film and am SO GLAD it was made in 2000. Christopher Nolan did a great job and the acting was spot on. I'd go on about it, but I have 19 more films to cover. So on to the next!

19. O, Brother, Where Art Thou?

I actually just finished watching this film about 10 minutes ago (from the time I'm typing this, not 10 minutes ago your time unless you're reading over my shoulder. Creeper.) and I couldn't believe it eluded my list. I had to bump one of my other favorite movies so that I could make the cut. Great cinematography and great dialogue, and that soundtrack is phenomenal! Please tell me one of you has it so I can borrow it when I get back?! This is probably my favorite Coen Brothers film (though Fargo is up there), and I could watch it once a week for the rest of my life and it probably won't get old. 

18. The Incredibles

I had to limit my amount of Pixar films to two (yes, another is coming. Is the anticipation killing you?) and this one is my ULTIMATE favorite, I've decided. Witty banter amidst all the fighting and dire situations and then a great message at the end of it all: no matter who you are and who your family is, stay true to yourself and never lose sight of what really matters. Of course, this doesn't apply to my family because I'm constantly ashamed that I am related to such a rowdy bunch (just kidding, guys! I love you I love the blister on my foot). Anyways, I think the soundtrack is amazing, the animation great (as always), and just all around one of the best Pixar films yet!

17. Frost/Nixon

This is probably the film that will shock the most of you in terms of it being on my top 20. I'm even shocked that it's here. But every time I even think about removing it, I can't seem to do it. Something about this film really struck a chord and I genuinely loved it. The acting was phenomenal. Michael Sheen, despite stooping to the level of being in "New Moon", was so great and Frank Langella as Richard Nixon was very convincing and haunting. I thought it was very well done and definitely, looking back, feel it was under-appreciated at the 2009 Academy Awards. But, hey, it made it onto this list and that's the best honors it can ever hope for.

16. The Prestige

Random tangent: Why is Scarlett the woman in the weird smoke center? There were two other women of more importance that deserve to be all mysterious between Hugh and Christian! Seriously. Ugh. Annoying.
So, Christopher Nolan has a second film in the list. But it is well deserved. Much like Pixar, I had to limit my Christopher Nolan filmage (yes, I made up a word).  I remember the first time I watched the film and remember the emotion when it finished. I believe my mouth was hanging open slightly and I probably had an expression of complete awe on my face. Probably. I can't have an out-of-body experience and stare at myself, so I wouldn't know. But it's a great piece of cinematic genius and Nolan once again achieves something that can't ever be repeated, or else it looks like a copycat. Good work, Chris!

15. Julie & Julia

This is a recent addition to "the list."  I've seen it 3 times in the last two months (2 times so I could write my Final Film Analysis on it with thorough detail), and each time fills me with a strong desire to bake, which I usually oblige by making something severely unhealthy.  The editing is absolutely seamless despite the fact that it's constantly switching between two stories in two very different time periods. Meryl Streep is so lovable as Julia Child and Amy Adams is as personable as ever portraying a frazzled government worker trying to prove something to herself. If it looks to "feel good" for you all, set that emotion aside and give it a fighting chance. It is feel good, but not in all the ways you think. Trust me. Watch it. If you hate it...whatever.

14. Runaway Jury

Apart from seeing the film, I've also read the book. And (sorry John Grisham) I think I love the plotline to the film more. Not that smoking is a very alluring topic of controversy, I just find guns bring out more passion in me. I know, it seems strange that a girl in the ROTC is against the selling of firearms, but I'm just one big contradiction. Get over it. Anyways, I think the film is very suspenseful and keeps you on your toes until the last five minutes when everything comes together in glorious fashion and you just wanna stand up, walk to the screen and laugh hard and loud in Gene Hackman's grimacing face. Well, not to Gene Hackman as himself, but his character. He's probably a very pleasant man. And goodness, I have the worst attention span. Back to movies...

13. In Bruges

I actually have this movie list written down and "In Bruges" is written over a title scratched out. Random fact. Anyways, this is another random addition to the list but the screenplay by itself makes this film so great (minus all the swearing...)! Colin Farrel, who isn't in a lot of stuff I like except his guest appearance in "Scrubs", is hilarious as is Ralph Fiennes, whom I now have a hard time differentiating from Voldemort even though he looks nothing like the Dark Lord without the make-up. The ending of this film is also surprisingly emotional. Here I was thinking this was going to be a movie about shooting and it ends up being a very hilarious movie about shooting with a surprisingly bittersweet ending. But I'm not gonna say more on the matter. 

12. Unmistaken Child

I've already talked about this film once before. And here it is, in the list. This is also the first documentary film so More are coming (more anticipation!).  I cried probably 5 times in this film for whatever reason. I need to see it again to remind myself why I cried so much. Maybe I was hormonal, or maybe it was THAT good. I'm thinking a combo of both. I'm always hormonal.  But it was really beautiful, so emotional, and really puts religion into perspective. It just goes to show that even though I know I have the fullness of the gospel, that doesn't mean that other religions don't have bits and pieces. Ya dig?

11. Man on Wire

This isn't supposed to be here. I had another title typed next to the number, but then remembered that this film was the beginning of my Documentary obsession. It is the reason why I want to emphasize in documentary filmmaking once I get into the Media Arts program at BYU. It started my binging of documentary film and although the binging has slowed to a steady consumption and there hasn't been any purging (what would that look like?!), documentary film is now my favorite thing to watch. Call me boring or snobbish, I just find it very refreshing when you watch a good documentary. But then the complete opposite when you see a bad one. This particular film renewed my dreams and passions and solidified my future. If you haven't seen a single documentary besides the ones you had to watch in Biology or something, watch this one. Maybe you'll discover your inner documentary-fanatic like me!

Alright, well that's all for now. To be continued...

Friday, April 16, 2010

This Too Shall Pass

So, my Biology TA, Addison (he's a dude, not a girl, just so you know), introduced me to this video a few months ago and I only just rediscovered it last week and ever since I have, I've been obsessed with it seeing as it really fits my life right now. Too well.

School is literally over. Well, pretty much. There are NO MORE CLASSES. Just finals for 4 more days. And I have taken all but one: New Testament. And boy will that be a beast of a final. Like I've said in the past, Bro.Merrill is such a great guy but his tests are so hard. So I've been studying for that final like crazy with Justyna and this guy who is in the class and in our ward, Alex. And by studying I really mean we studied for an hour, then played frisbee and chatted with our other friend, Ethan, for the next two hours and then went out to eat at the Cocoa Bean (mmmm, cupcakes) and Carls, Jr. But we WILL study harder. Later. Just not when the weather is gorgeous.

Anyways, while all my friends are going home next week, I'm sticking around for another week so that I can work BYU concessions for the Women's Conference. Nothing like staying in Utah longer than necessary just to cater to the needs of old, crazy women without the distractions of attractive men (because there will be very little I am so excited to return to Missouri, though. But today, as I walked around campus (and a rather dead crowd too, because of finals), I realized that there is a lot to be missed in Utah. The mountains, for one. The fact that I can look around me and know that 80% of the people have the same standards as me, and also being able to date as many guys as I want without there being any strings attached. In the LDS world, you can go on a date with someone and it not mean that you want to be in a steady relationship. It's so nice not to have that pressure and to just ENJOY their company, not be committed to them for the rest of your life.

So, I'll enjoy Utah while I pine for Missouri and I know that the moment I'm back home I'll probably miss Utah. The restaurants in particular: Tucanos, Coco Bean, Jamba Juice, Spoon Me (It is a restaurant, not some strange speed dating bar), Cafe Rio, Wallaby's, The Creamery...all of them. And, of course, the dollar theatre that's a stone's throw from where I live. Really, I'll miss how accessible things are and that you can walk 100 yards any direction and find some awesome hang-out. Not that Columbia doesn't have this, it's just that in Provo you know that it's wholesome.

I guess what I'm admitting is that I'll miss this LDS bubble I've immersed myself in for the last 9 months. But I'll be back. Oh yes, I will. Until then, adios, Utah, and hello Missouri!

Friday, April 2, 2010

Last Week of March

I guess my blog is now a monthly thing again. But to defend myself, BYU has been keeping me on my toes. I had to deal with other tests/midterms in two of my classes, ROTC commitments, my own fun and activities with my friends ("you have friends?!" yeah, ha ha.) and roommates...really, time just snuck up on me and now it's two weeks away from the end of the semester. TWO WEEKS. AH! Usually, in secondary/elementary school I would be enjoying the spring weather and not worrying about anything and just soaking in the moment school lets out. But, maybe this is just a college thing I'll get used to, it doesn't seem as glorious. That's probably because I'm not stuck in a building for 7 hours a day and summer seems like the ultimate freedom. I've pretty much had a summer all year round with my school schedule. It'll be nice not to worry about assignments and have more time to myself and be in Missouri, but it doesn't quite seem the same. Okay, college readers, is this normal? Please inform me!

Anyways, I guess I'll tell you about the FTX I participated in last weekend. Most of you people know the deets already, but I'll just give a run down. Thursday, we spent around BYU campus doing various military activities with UVU, SUU and Dixie. Most of the time was spent in formation, waiting to get our guns and making sure we were in the right company, platoon, and squad. But after that, we did FLRC lanes (Don't ask me what FLRC stands for).  It pretty much consisted of three 30-minute or so missions in which we either had to make a bridge out of two planks over a "river", get your squad safely across a mine field with as few casualties (our squad killed everyone but 2 people), and then to get a mortally wounded soldier across multiple planks without touching the "water" and while moving the only two planks we had to make more bridges. That was easily the hardest one and I was the body used. To get me across, I was draped across my squad leader's back and he crawled on his hands and knees, something he would bring up every day of the FTX when he remarked how beat up his knees were. They were all really fun and afterwards we went to listen to General Petraeus, though we couldn't actually see him since the auditorium was full and incapable of holding 200+ cadets. But we were still really peeved that us cadets and future soldiers weren't able to physically hear him. Oh well.

After that, we did some more accountability formations and then with our huge A-bags, rucks, LBE's and ourselves, we loaded on the buses to be taken to our home for the next two days. I also ate my first MRE: chicken pesto pasta. I did it cold I was so hungry and it wasn't too bad. I would have many more after that. The drive up seemed to take forever but we finally got there and it was absolutely freezing. We stood in formation for about an hour while we got everyone accounted for and then we were allowed to go to our heated and lighted tents and sleep. It was about midnight and we were expected to be up by 0500 to be at first formation at 0530.  I got one of the worst night's sleep that night. Woke up. It was snowing and absolutely bone-chilling. We stood in formation for what seems forever until we were loaded in a van and taken to the first of our STX lanes (I used to know what STX stood for, but for now, just know they're usually missions involving making contact with the enemy or civilians for the most part). There would be three and each of the MSIII's in our squad would be in charge of one.  The first one was relatively boring except for the mine that went off. Not a real mine: a mine blank that sounded like a real mine.  We were supposed to be guided by civilians across a mine field but they got into a fight and landed on a mine. I immediately hit the ground, got in the prone, and pulled security for my sector. That was eventful and woke me from my stupor.

The next lane was a disaster. We were supposed to find the enemy but ran into people from the media. Only one spoke English and the MSIII (who will remain unnamed) wasn't very good at leading. I was responsible for one of the guys and he started wandering off. I asked what to do if I should shoot a warning shot in the air, and he said no, but to keep an eye on the guy. I did, though I shouted warnings. Eventually he was out of sight and not 5 minutes later, a sniper comes out of nowhere and starts picking off the squad. We only had one soldier casualty but the English speaking civilian was killed. Needless to say, the MSIV monitoring us called "End X" (end exercise) and we didn't complete the mission. So we moved on to the next lane and this one involved taking out an enemy bunker. We were really prepared and the MSIII in charge was really on top of things. My fire team leader though was the MSIII from the last lane and so when we were supposed to assault the bunker, I discovered another enemy bunker at the 3 o'clock and began firing on them. My fire team leader was trying to get me to help them out with the other bunker but I couldn't because I was the ONLY one firing against the other bunker and if I abandoned that endeavor, we'd all be dead. Eventually, the supporting fire team caught on and helped me out so I could bound forward and assist in the assault element of the squad. We eventually took them both out and the mission was successful, except one cadet got "wounded" in the leg.

So we were done with STX lanes. We went back to the FOB (Forward Operating Base) and prepped for Land Navigation. We paired up and spent 3 hours searching the far-spread camp for specific marker points with compasses and really poorly drawn maps.  Out of the 8 points we were supposed to find, me and my partner (who claims to be good at this stuff) found 4 and only got 2 right.  Oh well. We went back, had hot chow (when I say hot, it was really luke warm) and prepared for Night Land Navigation, something I was dreading. But me and my battle buddy, CDT Lamb (yeah, they put Lamb and Lambson in the same squad and we're both female, 5'5" and brunette, so no one could really tell us apart. So we were the Lambs) joined up with two UVU cadets that knew what they were doing and we got 3/5 points no problem. And I'm pretty sure one of the cadets started to take a liking to me because from that point on, he was overly flirtatious. It was flattering, but he was about an inch shorter than me.

After that, we went to sleep and woke up at 0445 to pack up our gear and be ready for formation at 0530 again. This time, though, we had to wait about 2 hours in the snow and freezing cold so we could fly in the Black Hawks the National Guard brought down. The wait was worth it, even though the ride was a total of 2 minutes. They took us to the beginning of our two patrol lanes.  The patrol lanes were the longest things I've ever had to endure. Each were about 3 hours long and involved a lot of pointless traveling. Okay, it wasn't pointless but it made me angry how many times I had to ruck up and get in the wedge formation when all I wanted to do was sit and doze while pulling security. Oh well. We failed in both. The first time, the enemy we were supposed to assault came up behind our assault line and we couldn't shoot behind the line because we'd be firing on our support element. So it was an all around bad situation and we got chewed out by the scariest cadre member of UVU, Cpt. Berg (he's a special forces and airborne soldier. INTENSE!). Then we moved to the last lane of the FTX and the worst of them all. It took forever and at the end, we didn't succeed in the mission. My squad leader was pissed the entire time as was I because of the lack of leadership. And the supporting patrols on our left and right flanks watched as we were murdered by the enemy in these really good gilly suits and in sniper positions. Ugh. It was an impressive show since there were tons of mine blanks and grenade blanks going off and colored smoke. It felt like the real thing!
(This is the Black Hawk I rode. I was in the front! Woo!)
Anyways, we get back and we're all really exhausted. We were finally put on the buses and sent home, all of us dirty, tired, cranky, but still joking around and smiling. I was so excited to eat real food and get in a shower.

It was the experience of a lifetime and I can't wait to do it again next semester. But I'm also glad that it's a good distance away. For now, I'm okay not eating MRE's and carrying a gun everywhere I go.

This is my paintball gun that I had with me at all times. It's sitting on top of my field jacket, which saved me from having hypothermia. Loved that thing!
one of my delicious meals. I think this is the beef was okay. Definitely better than the cheese tortellini and buffalo chicken (which looks like bloody vomit). Yum!

Next week, or maybe next month, I'll post about the two concerts I will have attended: Michael Buble and Muse! WOO!