27 November 2007

Ooh la la, Larissa!

My coworker and I are obsessed with the proceedings of the trial of one Larissa Schuster, who is accused of murdering her husband by stunning him, stuffing him into a barrel, and pouring hydrochloric acid on him (nice lady). We read the daily updates and discuss the testimonies and ensuing developments.

Schuster is from the Fresno area (Clovis), but is being tried in Los Angeles County, as it was felt that the notoriety of the case would make it impossible to obtain impartial jurors in Fresno County.

Schuster's alleged co-conspirator has already been convicted, and Schuster herself has had to do some fancy talking to provide any explanation for her bizarre behavior in the days surrounding her husband's disappearance, if she wants to demonstrate her own innocence (she claims her accomplice committed the murder, and she merely helped cover it up, out of fear, after the fact). But whether you are guilty or innocent, why would you hide your murdered husband's body in your rented storage unit? That's just not a good idea.

Check it out. This is one crazy murder case.

Film Review: Chariots of Fire

I finally watched Chariots of Fire last night. I say finally, as if to imply that I've been trying to view it and been repeatedly stymied in my attempts, or something like that. Actually, not only have I not had Chariots of Fire at or anywhere near the top of my viewing list, but I've even seen it before, technically. However, I choose to discount my initial viewing, because at the time I was (1) 10 years old, and (2) suffering from a malaria-induced fever of c. 104 F.

My real impression of the film from my childhood was that it consisted of a bunch of people standing around talking a lot, interspersed with scenes of some guys running around. And as it turns out, that juvenile impression was extremely accurate. This movie is stodgy and talky, indeed. However, if you have to have pedantry and verbose pageantry, it's always a safe bet to go with the classy British production, and if you get a fabulous cast, solid script, and well-crafted direction to go along with your tony accents, so much the better.

I have spent the better part of 24 hours trying to decide if Chariots of Fire is a great film, or merely a good film. Many people count it among the very best films ever made, but a glance through IMDB's entry for Chariots of Fire will reveal that many other people also have things to say along the lines of "This movie is more boring than C-SPAN" or "THIS is the clunker that beat Raiders of the Lost Ark for Best Picture Oscar?" Each according to his or her taste, I guess. Chariots of Fire is actually a bit like another slow-moving but critically-lauded British movie that won the Best Picture Academy Award during its time: Cavalcade. Both films have opponents labeling them as "least deserving Best Picture winner ever", and both end up being better movies after one is done watching them. Ultimately, both films are not really about events; they are about people, and watching people who are human beings, and not merely figures in an explosive action sequence, requires a little more concentration and reflection than the standard summer popcorn movie viewing experience.

Anyway, I finally concluded that all things considered, Chariots of Fire could justifiably be described as a great movie, not merely good. Why? Well, why might it be less than great?
The Cons:
-Gab gab gab. The script itself isn't bad, but there's just so much of it.
-Yawn yawn yawn. It's a sports movie that even sports fans can find boring. The overall pacing is incredibly slow, especially considering the fact that it's about men who are incredibly fast.
-The score. Okay, okay, I know Chariots of Fire has one of the most recognizable and beloved film scores of all time. And it won an Oscar, of course. BUT, while the composition isn't bad, I think the arrangement was severely lacking, a fact which is more glaringly evident after one has left the 1980s behind. The whole synthesizer thing is jarringly incongruous with both 1920s Europe and the world of competitive sports.
-Editing. Oscar-nominated, and beautifully done in most parts, yet WHAT IS UP with the constant slow-motion thing? It loses its impact if done too often, okay?
-The fact that, despite the title, this movie contains not one single chariot of fire. As a child, I would really have valued a few wagons being alight at some point in the narrative, and my adult self agrees. If nothing else, it would have been a relief from the tedium of the talk-talk-talk of post-Victorian existential crises.
On the plus side, the Pros:
-First of all, it's gorgeous, a visual treat. The lands of England and Scotland have never looked better, and it's all nicely staged with fairly good 1920s period detail. The Oscar-winning costumes help, too.
-The acting is earnestly done, with sincerity but without undo Brando-style emoting. Very British, very RSC. Seasoned professionals such as Sir John Gielgud and Ian Holm (Oscar nom) keep standards high, and lesser-known individuals such as Ben Cross and Ian Charleson do not fail to meet those standards in their own performances.
-Then there is the script. One never sees characters reciting lines, but rather genuine people speaking honestly and realistically. The above-mentioned acting helps, but good writing shines through in the fact that despite the much-complained-about talkiness of the film, the dialog itself never sounds heavy-handed.
-The honest and positive portrayal of a truly godly man. This is one movie wherein the religious man is lauded for living by his principles, rather than sneered at for his gauche naivety or exposed as a bigoted hypocrite.
-The simple fact that, like all great films, Chariots of Fire works on so many levels. It can be viewed as a sports movie (everything leading up to the Big Race), as a story of the human spirit, as an illustration of the triumph of faith. The film has all of the elements because it is a story of humanity, of human individuals, and so it will have as many facets as real people themselves do.

Bottom Line: See this movie! Even if you don't much like it, you should be able to find at least something to appreciate.

23 November 2007

Mew mew!

Touchy visits Grandma and Grandpa's house, and climbs up into the skylight frame, via the fridge. He's such an adorable little pudgekins!

15 November 2007

Meme (tagged by Willow)

1. Name one person who made you laugh last night.
Billy West, voice actor on Futurama.

2.What were you doing at 0800?
At 0800 today, I was at work, doing work stuff.

3. What were you doing 30 minutes ago?

4. What happened to you in 2006?
At what point? I held four different jobs at three different establishments, I was a bridesmaid in three weddings, and helped out on three other weddings, and then was introduced to World of Warcraft.

5. What was the last thing you said out loud?
I don't remember, but it probably wasn't interesting. I was probably chatting up Touchy or Hobbes.

6. How many beverages did you have today?
Define "beverage". Do you mean "How many ounces of beverage did you have?" Or maybe, "How many different types of beverage?" I drank coffee, a lot of water, and a smoothie.

7. What color is your hairbrush?
Blue and white.

8. What was the last thing you paid for?
Bulbs to replace the ones that died in my headlights.

9. Where were you last night?
Why? Who wants to know?!? I was at home, and yes, I have reputable sources who can confirm my alibi.

10 What color is your front door?

11. Where do you keep your change?
Mostly in a jar, which I raid when I want to buy something at Starbucks.

12.What’s the weather like today?
Foggy in the morning, mild and sunny during the day, chilly at night.

13. What’s the best ice-cream flavor?
Mint chocolate chip.

14. What excites you?
Good theology, a balanced equation, a nicely worded sentence.
Hearing good news from friends or family.

15. Do you want to cut your hair?
Yes, eventually. I just got it cut a few weeks ago, though, so I'm fine for now.

16. Are you over the age of 25?
It depends on what is meant by "25".

17. Do you talk a lot?
Depends on who is listening.

19. Do you know anyone named Steven?

20. Do you make up your own words?
Sometimes. I can't think of any interesting examples, though. I'm more likely to confuse people by tossing a word from another language into my English conversation. If I use a Greek or French word, I might be trying to sound clever. If I use an Indonesian word, it's more likely that my brain is way out there and forgets what it's doing, and in what language, so my mouth just spews forth whatever verbage may be easily accessible.

21. Are you a jealous person?
Sure, but that's not always bad. The LORD is a jealous God.

22. Name a friend whose name starts with the letter ‘A’.
Amanda (Winter).

23. Name a friend whose name starts with the letter ‘K’.
Kevin (White), or Katie (Coffin).

24. Who’s the first person on your received call list?

25. What does the last text message you received say?
Katie was asking if we live near Long Beach (we don't, but I wish we did).

26. Do you chew on your straw?
No. Should I?

27. Do you have curly hair?
My hair is mostly straight, but I have a cowlick, so it curls exactly the way I don't want it to.

28. Where’s the next place you’re going to?
Work, tomorrow morning.

29. Who’s the rudest person in your life?
Meh, lots of people are rude. I'm not tracking and measuring or anything.

30. What was the last thing you ate?
Half of a sweet potato.

31. Will you get married in the future?
I doubt it. I'm already married. If I become a widow, I don't really see myself getting remarried.

32. What’s the best movie you’ve seen in the past 2 weeks?
I'm watching Quai des Brumes right now. It's pretty good, if you like early French film noir.

33. Is there anyone you like right now?
It's more remarkable to note that there is not anyone I am actively disliking right now.

36. Did you cry today?
No, but I cried last night when I found that my car headlights were both burned out.

37. Why did you answer and post this?
Because Willow tagged me.

38. Tag 5 people who would do this survey.
I'll tag Mama Mia, because she needs to update her blog anyway, and leave the other four open to volunteers.

14 November 2007

Still here

Once again, I'm checking in to let folks know I'm still alive and I haven't given up blogging. I'm just focusing on other things right now. December should be much better.