Author Archives: buymeajellycup

About buymeajellycup

I like writing and sharing silly things.

My boyfriend’s best friend is dreamy

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First up, full disclosure: I don’t currently have a boyfriend.

This is why I think I have waited until this golden, shining singleton moment to confess that I have never failed to have a thing for the quirky sidekick of the leading men in my life. It’s a little tricky (not to mention risky) to write this post when you’re in a relationship.

Of course I have never acted on these crushes over the years. In reality, no matter how deliciously understanding, cute, sweet and funny your boyfriend’s best friend is, the true reason for his appeal is that he is similar to your boyfriend but you don’t have to deal with his annoying habits. You get to hold onto the fantasy that he is like your boyfriend, but without the stuff that makes you grind your teeth at night. You know, those things that your boyfriend says or does that you try to ‘work’ through, but are really concerned are giving you a stomach ulcer due to all of your repressed anger and frustration.

However, it’s an entirely different situation in movies. The quirky boy best friends are exceptionally awesome and, quite often, are shunned by the girl even when they prove they are far more worthy than the leading man.

So without further ado, here is my tribute to the unsung heroes of film: the guys on the sidelines who I firmly believe should have been chosen over the guy saying, “Sorry, just realised I have been a complete tosser this whole time, but I love you. Lucky you. Will you marry me?” at the end of the movie.

Jon Cryer, Pretty in Pink.

Jon Cryer, Pretty in Pink.

1. Classic Jon Cryer. How can you turn down a young man named Ducky? He sang to you, Ringwald, he sang to you. And side note, I don’t know, I just don’t think that dress is quite… there yet.

John Krasinski, Something Borrowed.

2. Are you kidding me, Ginnifer?? What kind of name is Ginnifer? Ginnifer is the Molly Ringwald of the present day, I’ve just decided. Nothing like a close, loyal, smart, funny friend who you love dearly and is JOHN KRASINSKI, the nicest guy on the planet after Steve Carrell, when you can try to be with a guy who fell for your ditzy, self-absorbed ‘best friend’ and isn’t sure a relationship with you looks right.

Jason Biggs, My Best Friend’s Girl.

3. I refer to My Best Friend’s Girl yet again. This movie contains so many ‘what the f*@#!’ moments for me. Sure, the pie guy comes on a little strong in this one but if we’re holding him up against Dane La Douche Cook? Neither guy wins on the names though. Tank and Dusty? Sounds like an ill-written children’s book about a couple of scrappy mutts comically awaiting adoption at the local pound, lest they be sent to doggy heaven. Alec Baldwin should have been called Rover. But hey, at least Kate Hudson’s character was named after Joan Collins in Dynasty. Ok, I’ll stop it on the name criticism. But seriously, Hollywood.

Jason Lee, Chasing Amy.

4. Banky Edwards. Now I’m not saying Alyssa Jones had a shot with him (due to his predilection for dick and fart jokes), but maybe I would have taken a moment’s pause to consider the uh, offer in that living room scene at the end. Grown men who can pull off a backwards baseball cap are my weakness. Very few can. Many try.

Mark Ruffalo, Rumor Has It.

5. Ok, Jennifer Aniston, really try to concentrate this time. Mark Ruffalo or Kevin Costner? NO, GODDAMNIT! … Ok. I’m sorry. I’m going to ask you one last time. Ok. Maark, as in the handsome guy who rocked Meg Ryan’s world in In the Cut, or Kevin? Now remember, Kevin was in Waterworld. And you thought he was your father. Thank god she gets it right in the end at least.

Ed Norton, Fight Club.

6. This one isn’t entirely valid because well, 14-year-old spoiler alert, Helena Bonham Carter did actually choose Ed Norton, but to my mind, Ed is the sexier version of Brad Pitt, not the other way around as it is presented to us. Like if they were really separate people, I would be all about Ed.

Ed Norton, Keeping the Faith.

7. Ed Norton, part two. Keeping the Faith – why doesn’t Dharma, I mean Jenna Elfman, pick Ed over Ben Stiller? Given Ed directed this movie, I’m guessing it’s because he’s humble. Which makes me love him even more.

Adam Goldberg, How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days.

8. Adam Goldberg. His character is witty, articulate and gets the leading man to see reason about the lady in the end, before she gets away. Just imagine Adam on the motorbike to the tune of the best Gin Blossoms song in the movie’s finale, instead of the guy who communicates via a series of grunts, squeals and chin thrusts. Best line from McConaughey in the movie: “Naw, naw, naw, naw, naw, come oon, man, hoooooooo!” Use your words, Matthew.

Ron Livingston, Buying the Cow.

9. Three words, Bridgette Wilson: spoilt for choice. Your boyfriend’s friends include Ryan Reynolds and Ron (slacker has never been made more sexy) Livingston and you’ve gone with the crybaby who couldn’t cross a bridge in Stand by Me. And you’re a smoking hot blonde. I may also be looking at you, Rebecca Romijn. Not going to rub it in though, Bridgette, you paid the price for your mistake. We’ve all been there.

Jon Favreau, The Break Up.

10. Putting this one out there… Jon Favreau. He’s got that big bear thing like Javier Bardem that makes me just wanna sit on his lap. No, just me? Ok, never mind. I also don’t have dreams about Pete Hornberger from 30 Rock taking me out to a dive bar for beers and under-the-table knee rubs. Really, I don’t.

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You can’t come back from that

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Movies can sometimes set audiences up for disappointment in real life. There are certain things one just can’t do if one wants to maintain a relationship with another person. Unless the person in question has really low self-esteem, there are quite a lot of deal breakers that will ruin any chance of the ‘happily ever after’.

Here are the movies that are guilty of overestimating human forgiveness and understanding.

Wedding Crashers

Your new boyfriend seems uh… nice. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Wedding Crashers

“So, sure, Mom, he lied to us all about who he was, crashed both my sisters’ weddings, but it was only because he and his buddy like to spend every summer lying to strangers to spoil their days and have sex with any girl they can get drunk enough. It doesn’t mean he’s a bad person. I think he’s The One.”

– No ending to any real story that has happened ever.

Film poster for My Best Friend's Wedding - Cop...

My Best Friend’s Wedding, aka 10 Ways to Ensure Your Best Friend Gets a Restraining Order Against You. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My Best Friend’s Wedding

“Hey, remember that time you tried to sabotage my marriage and get me fired? Haha, good times.”

– Awkward future conversation that a man won’t be having with his former best friend.

Cover of "My Best Friend's Girl (Unrated ...

Why is she SMILING? Name three good qualities the guy has, just three, seriously, Kate Hudson! (Photo credit: Amazon)

My Best Friend’s Girl

“When I first met Tank, he was such an asshole. He took me out for a date to a strip club and got me to pay for his lap dance. But then he had no strings attached sex with me for a series of weeks before attending my sister’s wedding, vomiting on her during her first dance with her husband, fatally injuring my grandmother, and propositioning my mother for fellatio. And I think that’s around the time I realised he was the man I was going to marry.”

–      A speech you won’t hear from a bride at her wedding reception.

Once Upon a Time in America

He’s a very distinguished looking leading man (with a great hat) who just gets a little rapey sometimes. (Photo credit: 3G Blu-Ray)

Once Upon a Time in America

“I can’t believe you won’t forgive me after I never even apologised for raping you. We’ve clearly loved each other all these years.”

–      Man in straitjacket.

Big Daddy (film)

Aww, that’s so sweet. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Big Daddy

“I think it’s totally cool you only work one day a week, sit on your ass all day, and lie to child services to get a kid to care for irresponsibly.”

–      An intelligent, beautiful, successful lawyer’s response to her date right before the fake emergency phone call from her friend to get her the hell out of there.

Film poster for The Exorcist - Copyright 1973,...

Kill it, seriously, kill it now. Why are you talking to it? What, now you’re recording it?? Are you two making an album together? What the hell, priest? (Photo credit: Wikipedia, Copyright 1973, Warner Bros.)

The Exorcist

“Thanks for inviting me over yesterday to see your daughter who’s clearly possessed by Satan and literally the most terrifying thing I’ve ever seen. I’m back to have another word with her.”

–      A little white lie told with crossed fingers and a firearm held behind the priest’s back.

Cover of "The Family Stone (Widescreen Ed...

So much awkwardness. (Photo credit: Amazon)

The Family Stone

“Things feel so much more comfortable this Christmas since we swapped girlfriends.”

–      Not a likely remark to be passed between brothers at the family dinner table.

Family antiques

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Family antiques

I love shopping for antiques at the markets. There is something extra special about buying something that has a history, a personal story behind it. Most of the time though, unless you encounter a particularly informed and chatty salesperson, you can only ever conjure up this story in your imagination.

That’s why those little hand-me-downs from my own family are so valuable to me. That’s the tea cup my mother filled after putting me down for a nap when I was a baby (to enjoy while watching Days of Our Lives), the stools my great great grandfather made for his young granddaughter, the brooch my Nanna wore when she was embarking on a nice day out, the beer mugs my grandfather displayed with pride in his own makeshift bar at home, and my Dad’s records that are responsible for my taste in both music and comedy.

The beer mugs from my Poppy’s bar that don’t have naked ladies/mermaids on them.

The beer mugs from my Poppy’s bar that don’t have naked ladies/mermaids on them.

Nanna Rosie loved Snow White almost as much as I do. Any doll or ornament that bore even the slightest resemblance had to be immediately obtained.

Nanna Rosie loved Snow White almost as much as I do. Any doll or ornament that bore even the slightest resemblance had to be immediately obtained.

My Nanna’s brooch and little pillbox and my Mum’s beads that go perfectly with my favourite yellow dress.

My Nanna’s brooch and little pillbox and my Mum’s beads that go perfectly with my favourite yellow dress.

Mum’s very cute and retro tea set that she was going to get rid of! I rescued it from a dusty box.

Mum’s very cute and retro tea set that she was going to get rid of! I rescued it from a dusty box.

My Nanna knitted this owl tea cosy. That’s her very well used teapot too. It’s more than a little stained inside. She had a big family to make tea for.

My Nanna knitted this owl tea cosy. That’s her very well used teapot too. It’s more than a little stained inside. She had a big family to make tea for.

My Nanna Rosie had a huge doll collection and left them to her granddaughters in her will. These are the two I chose. They’re small and strange but almost look like brother and sister, or sister and sister if you note the lipstick on the doll in the suit.

My Nanna Rosie had a huge doll collection and left them to her granddaughters in her will. These are the two I chose. They’re small and strange but almost look like brother and sister, or sister and sister if you note the lipstick on the doll in the suit.

5th generation stool. Do I dare stand on it to reach the top shelf? Still seems pretty sturdy…

5th generation stool. Do I dare stand on it to reach the top shelf? Still seems pretty sturdy…

Future generations: this simple combination will get you through your angsty teenage years. Guaranteed. Thanks Dad.

Future generations: this simple combination will get you through your angsty teenage years. Guaranteed. Thanks Dad.

More macho movies

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Rocky has such a heart of gold he takes personal responsibility for tenderising all of Philadelphia's meat.

Rocky has such a heart of gold he takes personal responsibility for tenderising all of Philadelphia’s meat. (Photo credit: Comic Vine)

It was quite the sausage fest on my TV screen this week with five more movies crossed off my Top 250 IMDb list: Rocky, There Will Be Blood, The Wrestler, The Third Man, and The Bourne Ultimatum.

The Bourne Ultimatum

Interesting timing to watch this movie! I think I read about the Edward Snowden NSA leak the following day and the third installment of the Jason Bourne series certainly plays on the same idea: does a government have the right to make fundamental decisions about people’s lives without the consent or knowledge of those people? Is it ever justifiable to give someone the ‘no questions asked’ go-ahead to destroy the life of anyone they choose in the name of greater safety for all?

I liked this movie and think it raised these questions quite articulately but like the other Bourne movies, the action sequences lose me a little. Don’t get me wrong, I really like the series, but I have learned that I may as well get up and make a coffee when Bourne starts kicking ass because my eyes obviously can’t keep up with the rapidity of shots that are so short they may well qualify as subliminal messaging. All I need to know is what happened in the end. Did Bourne win again? Of course he did. Then it’s just a matter of finding out if anyone has switched sides. Oops, spoiler alert!

All of that and Matt Damon makes for the most attractive action hero ever. Can more action heroes not be jerks? I like that there is a cap on how many cheesy one-liners in the vein of ‘I have come here to chew bubblegum and kick ass… and I’m all out of bubblegum’ are included in these movies.

Rocky

“Adrian!” Oh Sly, what a charming leading man you make. You know, if a woman is either deaf or stupid. Given your leading lady doesn’t really say anything until halfway through the movie, I could make sense of why she agrees to date you – she’s got to be impaired in some way, right? Wrong.

Yes, Rocky is the sweet underdog. Yes, he has a heart of gold. But he also talks wall-to-wall crap for the entire duration of the movie.

I don’t like this movie, but I don’t hate it either. It’s about as subtle as a very slow, intentional punch to the face, but I’m super glad that there are people out there who love it. It has a lovely message that I haven’t seen communicated so well since Walt Disney’s Dumbo. I would explain the message but I don’t want to be condescending.

The Wrestler

This is what a more sophisticated movie about a fighter looks like. This movie repeatedly broke my heart and then mended it from start to finish.

The plot makes you want to jump off a bridge, it is so tragic, but it is an incredible character piece for Mickey Rourke.

I thought some steroid-injecting, old guy with long bleached hair who fake wrestles other men for fun and hangs out at his local strip club would be hard for me to relate to. This, the second film I have watched of Darren Aronofsky (see my review of Black Swan from last week), perfectly captures the one, universal thing about humans no matter where they are in the world: we crave connection.

As much as Mickey’s character Randy loves wrestling, he would throw it all away if it meant he never had to feel lonely again. Realising that he lost the person he cared most about, his daughter, because he instead chose the fast times of being a professional wrestler is the biggest lesson of his life. Even though he is solely responsible for his loneliness, you want so badly for him to have his daughter back in his life. It is unbearable to see someone alone with no one who cares about him and I think this audience reaction is a defining thing about humanity.

Also, I didn’t really buy that no one wanted a private dance from Marisa Tomei’s stripper character because she was older. She is insanely hot in the movie; I don’t care how old you are.

There Will Be Blood

With Daniel Day Lewis, a filmmaker can’t go wrong. I don’t think the plot of this movie really worked but it still held my attention while I dug my fingernails into my knees because Daniel Day Lewis is so intense in every scene I was always convinced he was going to murder someone, anyone.

Paul Dano as his nemesis gives a great performance, but he just can’t compete with the Day Lewis factor. They need to give him a more formidable opponent.

The film makes a pretty clear statement about the trappings of success and greed and how it can leave a person cold to even their own family. It’s nicely paralleled in the final scene when Paul Dano’s character Eli Sunday renounces the one thing that is supposed to mean the most to him.

Daniel’s son H.W. is the one person you care about, but he’s not really well developed enough to carry your interest. Everyone else just seems evil, stupid, or like a potential murder victim.

Because there is no strong character to empathise with, I didn’t feel invested beyond feeling terrified that I was about to see murders all the time.

The movie’s title may also have had a hand in this anxiety.

The Third Man

That Orson Welles, what a kidder. His character, Harry Lime, certainly leads his poor buddy Holly Martins up the garden path, alright. (Reread those last two sentences in a 1950s sassy American reporter voice. It will help you transition to thinking about old movies.)

Not just his buddy, but the army police, his girlfriend, everybody really.

It’s a nice little mystery to watch unfold, but it is very hard for me to see why his friend, Holly, and his girlfriend, Anna, ever thought so highly of him. His character is a real scumbag and when we finally meet him and hear what he has to say for himself, he is completely unapologetic and finds the whole situation and the damage he has caused to be a joke. He doesn’t seem capable of putting on a charade to fool anyone into thinking he is a great guy.

I enjoyed this movie, but only in the same way I enjoyed those ‘Choose your own Adventure’ books when I was a kid. It’s a short-lived novelty to figure out the answer to the mystery with the main character.

On the upside, there’s a lovely shot of Orson Welles’ face caught in the moonlight halfway through the movie. He really had a cool-looking face and his voice was neat-o. That’s all I have to say about that.

My favourite places

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I have now travelled to 25 countries, which is really just like dipping my toes into the water as far as exploring the world goes. Still, after my last trip to Eastern Europe, I started making a list of my favourite places so far. It felt like a nice time to look back and figure out an answer to the question asked by those who diagnose you with the ‘travel bug’: “Where did you like best?” I might also have been bored on a long train ride.

So, in no particular order, here’s my list.

Paraty, Brazil

Stunning small coastal village with colonial buildings and cobbled streets. A day out on a yacht never hurts either.

Stunning small coastal village with colonial buildings and cobbled streets. A day out on a yacht never hurts either.

Rome, Italy

There is nowhere like Rome. You wander through narrow little streets and then stumble upon a massive ancient monument. I was awestruck.

There is nowhere like Rome. You wander through narrow little streets and then stumble upon a massive ancient monument. I was awestruck.

Geneva, Switzerland

My friend who lives in Geneva took me for a tour and warned it wouldn't take long. She was right. We happily wandered around the beautiful lake and Old Town and I got carried away photographing the gorgeous spring flowers in the peaceful park.

My friend who lives in Geneva took me for a tour and warned it wouldn’t take long. She was right. We happily wandered around the beautiful lake and Old Town and I got carried away photographing the gorgeous spring flowers in the peaceful park.

Bled, Slovenia

A tiny town by a still lake where motor boats are not allowed and a man paddles you out to a small island where you can ring a church bell and make a wish. If that's not enough, visit the medieval castle on the hill and bottle your own wine with a monk.

A tiny town by a still lake where motor boats are not allowed and a man paddles you out to a small island where you can ring a church bell and make a wish. If that’s not enough, visit the medieval castle on the hill and bottle your own wine with a monk.

Český Krumlov, Czech Republic

I arrived in this town exhausted but walking around completely reinvigorated me. An old Bohemian town, highlights include artwork around every corner in the form of paintings on the walls of buildings, sculptures, and even writing on the stones of the cobbled streets. Plus bears living in the moat of an old castle, super friendly people, arts and crafts stores in abundance, medieval feasts, and a lively gypsy bar.

I arrived in this town exhausted but walking around completely reinvigorated me. An old Bohemian town, highlights include artwork around every corner in the form of paintings on the walls of buildings, sculptures, and even writing on the stones of the cobbled streets. Plus bears living in the moat of an old castle, super friendly people, arts and crafts stores in abundance, medieval feasts, and a lively gypsy bar.

San Francisco, USA

Being from a bayside area in Australia, San Francisco instantly felt familiar. It's easy going and you would almost feel like you were in Europe with the Victorian architecture if it weren't for the blue sky and sea breeze.

Being from a bayside area in Australia, San Francisco instantly felt familiar. It’s easy going and you would almost feel like you were in Europe with the Victorian architecture if it weren’t for the blue sky and sea breeze.

Paris, France

Paris is one of the few cities that completely lived up to the hype for me. Staying in Montmartre, we wandered around gathering delicious macarons, pastries, bread, poulet et pommes, and bottles of Bordeaux. I almost wept one night thanking the chef after the best meal of my life. Beyond the food, Paris is one of the best cities to explore on foot and via the Metro, from the old haunts of artists like Dali, Monet, and Picasso, to stunning churches like Notre Dame, to quirky bookshops where you can walk upstairs and sit on the couch while your friend plays the piano. Oh, and there's this little place called the Louvre where I nearly passed out because I forgot about hunger as I walked around in a trance.

Paris is one of the few cities that completely lived up to the hype for me. Staying in Montmartre, we wandered around gathering delicious macarons, pastries, bread, poulet et pommes, and bottles of Bordeaux. I almost wept one night thanking the chef after the best meal of my life. Beyond the food, Paris is one of the best cities to explore on foot and via the Metro, from the old haunts of artists like Dali, Monet, and Picasso, to stunning churches like Notre Dame, to quirky bookshops where you can walk upstairs and sit on the couch while your friend plays the piano. Oh, and there’s this little place called the Louvre where I nearly passed out because I forgot about hunger as I walked around in a trance.

Edinburgh, Scotland

With dark, gothic architecture and a rich artistic history, this city is fun to explore at night. A journey that began at a castle, wound through streets lined with warm pubs, up some stairs into a cemetery to visit the grave of 18th century philosopher David Hume, then up Calton Hill to the half-built, full-size replica of the Parthenon, lit up and overlooking the city below.

With dark, gothic architecture and a rich artistic history, this city is fun to explore at night. A journey that began at a castle, wound through streets lined with warm pubs, up some stairs into a cemetery to visit the grave of 18th century philosopher David Hume, then up Calton Hill to the half-built, full-size replica of the Parthenon, lit up and overlooking the city below.

Bath, England

Bath is exactly what you would expect the one time home of Jane Austen to be: completely charming and romantic. It feels like a town willing its  residents to enjoy themselves with lots of public parks, theatres, and of course the Roman Baths.

Bath is exactly what you would expect the one time home of Jane Austen to be: completely charming and romantic. It feels like a town willing its residents to enjoy themselves with lots of public parks, theatres, and of course the Roman Baths.

Dunedin, New Zealand

A city built around a big lake is always a thing of beauty. Dunedin has that beauty plus an albatross nesting area and a history involving the Maori peoples, Scottish settlers, a gold rush, and a thriving indie rock scene. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A city built around a big lake is always a thing of beauty. Dunedin has that beauty plus an albatross nesting area and a history involving the Maori peoples, Scottish settlers, a gold rush, and a thriving indie rock scene. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Isle of Pines, New Caledonia

Imagine snorkelling here. With tropical fish. With no one else on the tiny little beach but the people you came with. Enough said. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Imagine snorkelling here. With tropical fish. With no one else on the tiny little beach but the people you came with. Enough said. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Here’s the silly part though. I am guilty of the same thing that many travellers admit to with shame in their eyes; I have not really explored much of my own country, Australia.

I have not included any Australian destinations on my list of favourites because, even though I think our country is incredibly beautiful and unique, I haven’t really seen the best bits yet. I’m yet to snorkel the Great Barrier Reef, visit the big red rock at Uluru, or go down to that little extra piece at the bottom that sometimes gets forgotten, Tasmania, which is so beautiful it inspired one of my friends to pack up and move down there.

I have seen the Twelve Apostles and driven along the Great Ocean Road, which is stunning, and I do enjoy a visit to what is the trendiest of our cities these days, Melbourne.

I am committing to seeing more of Australia before I journey to any more of the rest of the world. That way, when I next cross paths with a Canadian backpacker who tells me about their trip to Australia, I will understand what the hell they’re talking about.

I want to live with Petunia Pig again

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You pretty little piggy, where have you been all my adult life? Oh, Etsy.com.

You pretty little piggy, where have you been all my adult life? Oh, Etsy.com.

I’ve been hit by a wave of nostalgia. Hard. My bank account may also suffer some of this impact.

On one of my recent journeys around the Internet, I came across this little Petunia Pig glass for sale on Etsy.com and I lost my freaking mind. I had completely forgotten that Petunia had ever existed. You know her, right? Porky Pig‘s girlfriend? She started out sassy, paving the way for others like Miss Piggy. Then she softened a little and was the sweet, quiet girlfriend (and later wife) of Porky. She took pity on him with his stutter, gathering him under her wing, uh, I mean, trotter.

Now, not only can I rediscover my childhood love of Petunia, but I can drink out of her! It got me thinking: a) what other awesome cartoon characters have I forgotten from my youth, and b) can I fill my house with them?

Here’s what I have found so far. This isn’t over.

Little Lulu ring

Little Lulu wrapped around your little finger (or ring finger)

This chick rocked my world. I even call my dog Lucy ‘Lulu’ when she’s mischievous (and ‘Lucifer’ when she’s truly evil). I had a video of Little Lulu and she taught me that you can outsmart teachers in the classroom and ticket inspectors on the train. I can only assume she has since turned to a life of crime. Bet they never caught her though. Little Lulu, still at large.

Come along with the lady in the rad Snorks top.

Come along with the lady in the rad Snorks tank top.

My mum never would have convinced me to get out of bed for school if it wasn’t for The Snorks on Cartoon Connection on weekday mornings. They were basically like The Smurfs but UNDERWATER. Suck that, Smurfs. You wouldn’t last one minute down there. Well, you might last one minute but then your little blue lungs would fill with water and you would drown. Where is The Snorks 3D  feature film 20 years later? There is no justice here on land.

Spooky the Tuff Little Ghost kicked Casper's ass.

Spooky the Tuff Little Ghost cookin’ up a storm.

Someone gave me an old copy of a Spooky comic book when I was a kid and I actually felt afraid when I looked at the cover. Spooky might be little, but look at those eyebrows! They’re so menacing. What’s up with that sneer? And the hat, even though I was not aware at the time, is a little bit Clockwork Orange.

Jem and the Holograms - to wear with pride.

The three great music rivalries of our time: The Beatles v The Rolling Stones, Nirvana v Pearl Jam, and Barbie and the Rockers v Jem and the Holograms.

Taking their fashion cues from David Bowie and Cyndi Lauper, Jem and the Holograms were the glam rock girl answer to GI Joe for the boys. They also had fabulous ’80s young adult fiction names: Jerrica ‘Jem’ Benton, Kimber Benton, Aja Leith, Shana Elmsford, and Carmen ‘Raya’ Alonso. I can’t help but favour Stormer from their rival band The Misfits though. I’m a sucker for a keytar player.

This week… in my living room

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Oh wait, no, I didn't murder anyone in my living room. I just watched some movies.

Oh wait, no, I didn’t murder anyone in my living room. I just watched some movies.

Over the past week, in my mission to watch all the movies on the Top 250 IMDb list, I have watched Black Swan, Inglourious Basterds, Dial M for Murder, Gandhi, and The Godfather Part II.

Here are my thoughts…

Black Swan

Obviously, I didn’t exactly rush out to see this one. It has taken me until now to worship at the altar of Natalie Portman. Oh, I thought she was a pretty good actress, for sure, but no performance she had delivered had ever blown me away. No, not even in Star Wars, can you believe it.

That has all changed with Black Swan. I was actually angry with myself for not seeing this earlier. For once, I wished I had listened to the hype. Natalie’s performance, and the movie itself, mimics its subject matter. It is exactly like a ballet, perfectly executed.

As Natalie’s character Nina loses herself more and more in the dance and her quest to find the Black Swan, the dark side within herself, I found myself sitting on my couch, finding my anger over so many things that had happened in the past year of my own life. Seriously, I need to pay Natalie and director Darren Aronofsky for therapy.

Natalie perfectly portrays Nina’s childlike vulnerability, ambition, social awkwardness, fear, and anger. The film forces the viewer out of their comfortable, distant role of the knowing aunt, tsk-tsking at Nina’s low self esteem and fragility, into her world of confusion, fear, and darkness.

I think this film will stand the test of time and will still be regarded a classic in decades to come. I will be watching Aronofsky’s The Wrestler this week and can’t wait to see how he has told this story.

Inglourious Basterds

As a welcome change to all the old mafia and western movies I’ve been watching from the list, I saw a second film from within the past few years this week.

I have a complicated relationship with Quentin Tarantino. I so admire and relate to his nerdiness, his ability to reference such a diverse range of pop culture in his films (and his chatty-chat-chat interviews).

What I find difficult to deal with are the graphic killings in his movies. And boy, wouldn’t he love to hear that.

It’s not that I can’t take violence in movies. It’s a vital part of telling many stories. One of the earlier films I watched from the list was The Pianist, the story of a Jewish man during the Nazi occupation of his native Poland. Every murder in that movie shocked me and broke my heart, until I realised I’d spent an hour with my hand over my mouth and tears in my eyes. I visited Auschwitz and many other sites of Nazi atrocities during my trip earlier this year, and it was clear that the violence that occurred during this time was in no way exaggerated or glamourised in The Pianist.

Perhaps this Eastern Europe trip and the conversations I had with people who either lived through the Nazi occupation or whose family members did, was not going to be the best place for me to come from to think this movie was awesome. It certainly simplifies a very painful history that still exists within living memory for many people in the world.

Or maybe I’m just getting a little tired of Tarantino’s spaghetti western approach to telling any story.

The, yes, Jewish American, but American cowboys who come in to save the day just seemed so unnecessary to me. Why couldn’t the story have stayed with Shosanna? It begins with her and her family and the climax of the movie takes place in her cinema, where her plan comes to fruition; why are the cowboys necessary? It is an entirely fictional story, after all. I feel like the movie sells out Shosanna and her importance as the central character, in favour of Brad Pitt and his big knife. [Insert phallic theory here.]

I guess this angle is the only way that Tarantino could feel he had some claim as storyteller about this subject matter.

Coming up on the list is Django Unchained and I’m trying to keep an open mind, even though the approach seems to be about the same. Like most film lovers, I really really want to like Tarantino’s films. He is, after all, one of us. But I think his films need to grow up a little and stand on their own two feet.

Dial M for Murder

Hitchcock’s reputation as a flawless storyteller remains intact, in my mind, after watching this movie.

One of his lesser-raved-about films, I had the same experience watching it as I have had with his others; I feel like I can almost hear him thinking about each shot, each line of dialogue, the placement of each prop.

Like listening to a great album for the first time on vinyl, I turn a Hitchcock film up loud and hold my breath, not wanting to miss any subtle detail.

Dial M for Murder mostly takes place in a single room and I didn’t even realise this until the end. Hitchcock is such the master of suspense that I never once felt bored.

Ray Milland as Tony Wendice is incredible. He inspires hate, empathy, admiration, and fear in the audience. And that voice! He sent shivers down my spine. Tony Wendice is a refreshing change for a villain; the only weapon he ever wields is his intelligence.

I won’t say too much more about this one for those who haven’t seen it, but I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Gandhi

Watching this movie has made me want to change my life! It makes you believe in the power of an idea and of committing to that idea at all costs.

The real-life character of Gandhi makes it difficult to think of the film alone. The man is so inspiring and continues to carry such an empowering message of peace for people, even beyond his death, that watching the movie feels like a deeply spiritual experience.

However, thinking this way, I realised that this is evidence of how good the film is. Richard Attenborough knew he had an incredibly powerful subject for his film and just had to get out of the way.

I watched an interview with the actor who portrayed Gandhi, Ben Kingsley, and he spoke of just copying Gandhi as best as he could from recordings. The scenes of Gandhi with the crowds were shot with Ben and the crowds. There was no digital combination of the two created later, they were really there together, giving Ben the sensation of what it must have felt like for the real Gandhi.

This movie beautifully shows that when you have an incredible story to tell, don’t try to tell it, don’t embellish, don’t sign to the audience that this is dramatic or important, applaud here, etc. Just tell it.

The Godfather Part II

What an appropriate film to see directly after Gandhi. Talk about a different philosophical approach…

So while I had just experienced a spiritual awakening about peace and tolerance, this film, which thematically centres on revenge, still lived up to the hype for me.

And I totally agree that it’s better than the first Godfather. This is called the ‘De Niro Factor’.

Robert De Niro is just so damn good at making you feel a connection, an empathy with his characters. In this movie, when he is standing outside the room where his baby is ill, your heart goes out to this young father, feeling helpless and desperate that he can’t properly provide and care for his family.

The superiority of his performance, spoken almost entirely in Italian, made me long for more Vito Corleone, less Michael Corleone. Don’t get me wrong, Al Pacino plays Michael well, but he has become too much the hardened mob boss by this part of The Godfather story. The opportunities to feel empathy for his character (the rifts between Michael and his brother Fredo, and between him and his wife Kay) fall flat because it’s just so hard to see his vulnerability anymore. These experiences seem to affect his ego more than play on his fear of losing his family.

The contrast between the young Vito and the older Michael though does help to tell the story and it’s obvious what Francis Ford Coppola was trying to achieve. Personally, however, I think the recipe was just ever so slightly off. A dash more Vito and a sprinkle of remaining vulnerability in Michael and it would have been perfect.