Thursday, February 25, 2010

the Valeries

With the Oscars rapidly approaching, here is my list of movies of 2009 that I loved. I'm not a movie critic nor do I claim that this list is comprehensive or definitive, just a list of movies that touched me in some way. I'm extremely cynical about Hollywood and am always going off about how 42 horrible movies are made for every good one and what a waste of money and time and effort, etc, blah blah blah but for once I need to eat my words. I was in love with so many movies I've watched over the past few months and decided to make a brief list of my favorites here. I think they're in chronological order? But I'm certainly not going to double-check.*

Coraline- just enchanting. Stunning visuals and a cute but spooky story with quirky and original characters.

Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun Li- just kidding.

Obsessed- this movie blew chunks but it's on here because it was hilarious to mock with my friends and almost worth sitting through to see Beyonce beat a white chick.

Up- It was well-made but I'll never watch it again because I cried four (4) separate times while watching it in the theater with my parents, one of which occurred within the first ten minutes. Not ok, disney.

Inglourious Basterds!!!- possible my favorite movie of the year. There are no words. Just see it if you haven't. I'm always opposed to gratuitous violence but Tarantino somehow always makes it palatable. I am also in love with Eli Roth, not that this is relevant to my love of this movie (except it is). And can we talk about Christoph Waltz?! If he doesn't win an Oscar then I will, um...kick a baby. Ok I would've done that anyway.

Extract- worth it if only for the David Koechner plotline. But all the other parts were good too, like Ben Affleck as the drug-addled, hippie bartender, the best braindead 17 year old poolboy ever, and Jason Bateman's general existence...I like Kristen Wiig too but there just wasn't much humor to her role in this movie.

The Invention of Lying- so funny. so so funny. Louis CK was heavily under-utilized though. If you remain skeptical, just look at the billing on that poster and tell me you're not curious. Plus for It's Always Sunny fans, there's a brief cameo from one of the Mcpoyle (sp?) brothers that helped me reach Jungian self-actualization.

Zombieland- I hate horror and violence and gore movies but this was funny and well-written and acted and all that. Best cameo EVER. You know what I'm talking about if you've seen it.

An Education- This movie inhabited my soul. I don't know how else to explain my love for it. Peter Saarsgaard is always just delightful, even when he's not supposed to be.

Men Who Stare at Goats- weird but funny and interesting.

Fantastic Mr. Fox- Wes Anderson ftw. Maybe my 2nd fave movie this year? Every scene with Jason Schwartzman made my life complete.

Up in the Air- I didn't actually agree with the final message that George Clooney's character learns but I did agree with everything else about this movie (not just talking about plot here).

Avatar- the plot, characters, and dialogue were stock, but still compelling and entertaining and I don't think I need to go into the visual effects. Yes, James Cameron is an unoriginal hack, that fact has already been well-established by his previous work, but the man knows how to spend money on special effects. You can't understand what they mean when they say this movie is a game-changer until you see it. (Note that I am not including posters for movies that were widely enough advertised that I'm guessing everyone already knows what the movie poster looks like. Or that I simply am too lazy to get a poster for.)

The Secret of Kells- precious little Irish animated movie. The style is whimsical, original and beautiful, wrapped up in a magical and moving story. I cannot overemphasize how stunning the visual experience alone of this movie is, all without motion capture and CGI. Just wait until you get to the forest sequence. James Cameron could learn a few things from these animators. Namely that it's possible to make a visually stunning movie without spending $500 million on motion capture and CGI.

The Young Victoria- this movie stayed way more under the radar than it should have. Great acting, great writing, great story, unbelievable costumes and set. I watched it twice in two days, that's how much I loved it. This is tied with Fantastic Mr. Fox for my 2nd fave movie of the year. To be fair, its biggest strength is probably the crazy-elaborate costumes, so here's a peek at one of Emily Blunt's many dresses.

The Hangover (I've officially stopped any attempt at chronology or order in my life.)- Keep walking grandpa.

Role Models- LAWL. Just lawl.

Julie and Julia- cuuuuuuuute. Proof that chick flicks can be great cinema. Although I just watched The Lovely Bones the other day and the fact that Stanley Tucci can be so creepy in that and so charming and likeable in this makes me simultaneously more creeped out and impressed with his acting skills. There are a lot of actors out there who only seem to play one role in any movie- Will Smith, Michael Cera, Denzel Washington, Tom Cruise (don't argue with me, when was the last time besides Tropic Thunder that he played a role with any character depth or variation? And even in that one he was hiding behind a fat suit, prosthetics and a lot of accessories/makeup) come to mind, but Stanley Tucci is NOT one of those actors. Good for him.

Away We Go- also cute. and funny. and moving. lots of great performances. I cannot recommend this movie enough because so few people seem to have seen it. And yet Transformers 2 was the 4th top grossing film of the year? Excuse me for a minute, I need to go rail at God.

Funny People- just watched this last week and it made me fall even more in love with Aubrey Plaza and Jason Schwartzman.

Movies that are very deliberately missing from this list: 500 Days of Summer, Transformers 2, Harry Potter 6, Taken, He's Just Not That Into You, Watchmen, Star Trek, The Hurt Locker, District 9. I have subjective reasons for disliking only two of these, the rest I can come up with solid, objective criticism of, which I may do at a later point. If I feel like it. So there.

*they're not.

Friday, February 5, 2010

please don't judge me

Clearly my project of putting all/any worthwhile old blogs on here got sidetracked, what with work and school and my commitment to never miss the Daily Show. How else am I supposed to stay informed? I'm still not doing that, I just felt the need to write about addiction. Afrin is addictive. So is my job.
Most people know about Afrin's addictive potential but do most of them also know how dangerous it is? Apparently it can cause horrible side effects like semi-permanent closure of the nasal passage, hallucination, suicidal thoughts, gnashing of teeth, killer robots, etc. I discovered this b/c I took afrin tonight (and cough syrup. I'm drinking it out of the bottle these days, don't judge me. It's really more to do with impatience than irresponsibility) and had a bad reaction as I do from time to time with Afrin. My throat has been irritatingly dry and prickly for the past couple hours. I've been sucking on citrus vitamin c drops non-stop in an attempt to get my throat to re-hydrate itself to no avail.
In the height of my discomfort, I googled "afrin throat needles" or something like that to see if my problem is common and/or has a simple remedy. I did not find any forums or sites discussing my particular problem but I did find a woman describing how Afrin had basically ruined her life. It makes me think twice about using it, except not really because the aforementioned woman, let's call her Beth for convenience's sake, took Afrin for five days straight, whereas I adhere strictly to the three day max rule as proscribed on the bottle. Besides, Afrin is magical, I could never give it up. What other over the counter (or prescription) medication works as instantaneously and well as Afrin? NONE that I've ever tried. When a product delivers on that level, I cannot abandon it. But I'm still scared of it. Kind of like Lady Gaga. I guess we didn't really need to name Beth, did we?
But what really inspired this post was my job. It takes longer than three days to become addicted, but the addiction is just as life-ruining. I hate myself. I hate people. I'm tired of my friends, and I can't hang out with the friends I'm not tired of because I'm too busy. I have little to no faith in the world, I get angry more often and faster than I used to, I'm a bigger asshole when I drive now, and I can't lose weight b/c of my ridiculous schedule and because I'm surrounded by fatty restaurant food.
But I can't leave because I'm addicted. Why? The money. I'm not a Rockefeller, or even one of the hussies that Tiger was probably paying off in vain to keep their mouths shut, but I'm living pretty comfortably as a college student. I can go shopping or go out to eat whenever I want, rent a private room in a nice, newer apartment, buy dvds and $44 Flight of the Conchords tickets, afford the monthly payments on a car with leather heated seats, take a road trip to LA, pay for unexpected $1200 car repairs when I break down in the Mojave desert on the way to LA, etc. I was a poor college student before I had this job, and I'm not going back!
I need these luxuries like a heroin junkie needs her needle. And unfortunately, I've become accustomed to prostituting myself at the feet of Utah Valley restaurant patrons in order to get my fix, just as the junkie would prostitute herself on the Reno street corners to get hers. Drugs do not beget happy, fulfilled lives, and neither does restaurant work. Yet so few of us seem able to leave it behind and build a more functional life. The parallels between drugs and my job are disturbing.
The light at the end of the tunnel, of course, is that I'm set to graduate in a few months, at which time I intend to throw my apron down dramatically on the line and leave the service industry forever, having acquired the necessary qualifications to find a bleak office job and wither away in a 9 to 5 life.