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Thursday, March 27, 2014

the 10 best woody allen films

"There's an old joke-um...two elderly women are at a Catskill mountain resort, and one of 'em says, "Boy, the food at this place is really terrible." The other one says, "Yeah, I know; and such small portions." Well, that's essentially how I feel about life - full of loneliness, and misery, and suffering, and unhappiness, and it's all over much too quickly." -Woody Allen, Annie Hall

In a world filled to the brim with crappy movies without any substance or originality, it's good to know Woody Allen is still out there to entertain the masses time and time again. Goes to show you really don't need a high budget or fancy special effects to keep an audience happy, all you really need is Woody's brain and you're set for a lifetime. With witty dialogue and a fascinating look into the human psyche, it's hard not to enjoy his work. Add a bit of wackiness, sarcasm, and romance, and there ya have it; the perfect combination that has made Woody Allen one of the greatest directors of all time. 

My top 10 favorites (in no particular order)

1. Husbands & Wives 

"See, I will always have this penchant for what I call kamikaze women. I call them kamikazes because they, you know they crash their plane, they're self-destructive. But they crash into you, and you die along with them."

2. Sleeper 

"And I haven't seen my analyst in 200 years. And he was a strict Freudian. And if I'd been going all this time, I'd probably almost be cured by now."

3. Manhattan

Isaac Davis: Chapter One. He adored New York City. He idolized it all out of proportion. Eh uh, no, make the he, he romanticized it all out of proportion. Better. To him, no matter what the season was, this was still a town that existed in black and white and pulsated to the great tunes of George Gershwin. Uh, no, let me start this over.
Isaac Davis: Chapter One: He was too romantic about Manhattan, as he was about everything else. He thrived on the hustle bustle of the crowds and the traffic. To him, New York meant beautiful women and street smart guys who seemed to know all the angles. Ah, corny, too corny for, you know, my taste. Let me, let me try and make it more profound.
Isaac Davis: Chapter One: He adored New York City. To him it was a metaphor for the decay of contemporary culture. The same lack of individual integrity that caused so many people to take the easy way out was rapidly turning the town of his dreams in - no, it's gonna be too preachy, I mean, you know, let's face it, I wanna sell some books here.
Isaac Davis: Chapter One: He adored New York City. Although to him it was a metaphor for the decay of contemporary culture. How hard it was to exist in a society desensitized by drugs, loud music, television, crime, garbage - too angry. I don't want to be angry.
Isaac Davis: Chapter One. He was as tough and romantic as the city he loved. Behind his black-rimmed glasses was the coiled sexual power of a jungle cat. Oh, I love this. New York was his town, and it always would be. 

4. Match Point
"The man who said "I'd rather be lucky than good" saw deeply into life. People are afraid to face how great a part of life is dependent on luck. It's scary to think so much is out of one's control. There are moments in a match when the ball hits the top of the net, and for a split second, it can either go forward or fall back. With a little luck, it goes forward, and you win. Or maybe it doesn't, and you lose."

5. Annie Hall

“I feel that life is divided into the horrible and the miserable. That's the two categories. The horrible are like, I don't know, terminal cases, you know, and blind people, crippled. I don't know how they get through life. It's amazing to me. And the miserable is everyone else. So you should be thankful that you're miserable, because that's very lucky, to be miserable.”

6. Love & Death

"To love is to suffer. To avoid suffering one must not love. But then one suffers from not loving. Therefore, to love is to suffer; not to love is to suffer; to suffer is to suffer. To be happy is to love. To be happy, then, is to suffer, but suffering makes one unhappy. Therefore, to be unhappy, one must love or love to suffer or suffer from too much happiness. I hope you're getting this down."

7. Vicky Cristina Barcelona

"...only unfulfilled love can be romantic."

8. Midnight in Paris

"I believe that love that is true and real, creates a respite from death. All cowardice comes from not loving or not loving well, which is the same thing. And then the man who is brave and true looks death squarely in the face, like some rhino-hunters I know or Belmonte, who is truly brave... It is because they make love with sufficient passion, to push death out of their minds... until it returns, as it does, to all men... and then you must make really good love again."

9. Hannah & Her Sisters

Mickey: One day about a month ago, I really hit bottom. Ya know I just felt that in a Godless universe I didn't wanna go on living. Now I happen to own this rifle, which I loaded believe it or not, and pressed it to my forehead. And I remember thinking, I'm gonna kill myself. Then I thought, what if I'm wrong, what if there is a God. I mean, after all nobody really knows that. Then I thought no, ya know maybe is not good enough, I want certainty or nothing. And I remember very clearly, the clock was ticking, and I was sitting there frozen with the gun to my head, debating whether to shoot.
[gun fires]
Mickey: All of a sudden the gun went off. I had been so tense my finger squeezed the trigger inadvertantly. But I was perspiring so much the gun had slid off my forehead and missed me. Suddenly neighbors were pounding on the door, and I dunno the whole scene was just pandemonium. I ran to the door, I didn't know what to say. I was embarrassed and confused and my mind was racing a mile a minute. And I just knew one thing I had to get out of that house, I had to just get out in the fresh air and clear my head. I remember very clearly I walked the streets, I walked and I walked I didn't know what was going through my mind, it all seemed so violent and unreal to me. I wandered for a long time on the upper west side, it must have been hours. My feet hurt, my head was pounding, and I had to sit down I went into a movie house. I didn't know what was playing or anything I just needed a moment to gather my thoughts and be logical and put the world back into rational perspective. And I went upstairs to the balcony, and I sat down, and the movie was a film that I'd seen many times in my life since I was a kid, and I always loved it. I'm watching these people up on the screen and I started getting hooked on the film. I started to feel, how can you even think of killing yourself, I mean isn't it so stupid. Look at all the people up there on the screen, they're real funny, and what if the worst is true. What if there is no God and you only go around once and that's it. Well, ya know, don't you wanna be part of the experience? You know, what the hell it's not all a drag. And I'm thinking to myself, Jeez, I should stop ruining my life searching for answers I'm never gonna get, and just enjoy it while it lasts. And after who knows, I mean maybe there is something, nobody really knows. I know maybe is a very slim reed to hang your whole life on, but that's the best we have. And then I started to sit back, and I actually began to enjoy myself.

10. Purple Rose of Cairo

"I just met a wonderful new man. He's fictional but you can't have everything."
woody allen woody allen woody allen woody allen woody allen woody allen

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

the 20 greatest movie scores

Scene from Requiem for a Dream
"Music is a moral law. It gives soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and charm and gaiety to life and to everything." -Plato

Whenever I think of a specific movie, the first thing that pops into my head is the soundtrack. To me it's one of the most important factors because nothing else touches my soul the way music can. I have even associated certain events in my life with a specific song or score without realizing it. So here they are! The 20 greatest movie scores of all time.

1. "Lux Aeterna" by Clint Mansell-Requiem for a Dream

2. "Time" by Hans Zimmer-Inception

3. "Nightmare" by Artie Shaw & His Orchestra-The Aviator

4. "American Beauty" by Thomas Newman-American Beauty

5. "Theme" by Jon Brion-Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

6.  "The Artifact & Living" by Michael Andrews-Donnie Darko

7."Fargo, North Dakota" by Carter Burwell-Fargo

8. "Shawshank Prison" by Thomas Newman-Shawshank Redemption

9. "The Grand Duel" by Luis Bacalov-Kill Bill vol. 1

10. "Main Theme" by Danny Elfman-Edward Scissorhands

11. "Dawn" by Dario Marianelli-Pride & Prejudice

12. "A Silhouette of Doom" by Ennio Morricone-Kill Bill vol. 2

13. "Roots & Beginnings" by Howard Shore-Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King

14. "The Last Race" by Jack Nitzsche-Death Proof

15. "Morning Passages" by Philip Glass-The Hours

16. "A Kaleidoscope of Mathematics" by James Horner-A Beautiful Mind

17. "Briony" by Dario Marianelli-Atonement

18. "Big Brother" by Stephane Wrembel-Vicky Cristina Barcelona

19. "Hand Covers Bruise" by Trent Reznor & Atticuss Ross-The Social Network

20. "Solomon" by Hans Zimmer-12 Years a Slave

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

best spoofs & parodies on the internet

There is so much crap on the internet these days, but one important thing I've learned is that for every horrible pop song or movie that is made, a glorious parody/spoof is born. These by far are my favorites that I can watch over and over again.

1. Bound 3-James Franco & Seth Rogen 
>The inspiration

2. Gangnam Style (Without music)
>The inspiration

3. Bohemian Rhapsody-The Muppets
>The inspiration

4. Harry Potter Puppet Pals

5. The Dark Knight-Barely Political

6. Twilight-Bad Lip Reading

Monday, March 24, 2014

5 ways to spice up your life

Life can be tedious and unoriginal sometimes, and when it gets to that point it's always important to shake things up. It doesn't have to be big, even the simplest change can make a huge difference. Here is a list of five things that make life more enjoyable.

1. Keep conversation with your family and friends stimulating. 
"How are you?" "What are you up to?" "How was work?" Those questions are boring and you already know the conversation is headed for a dead end real soon. You could ask questions like "If you had a whole day to yourself, what would you do..." or "If you could move to a different country right now, where would it be..." Stray away from questions that can be answered in one word. With those day to day questions, at LEAST try to be more specific. "How did your presentation go at work today?" "What was your favorite thing that happened today?" Your family and friends are what's most important in your life. It's necessary to strengthen those relationships. 

2. Leave your phone at home for a day.
I've tried it, and it makes a huge difference. It felt as if a dark fog had been lifted and I could see things clearly again. You lose so much when your eyes are glued to your phone every waking minute. Conversation is better, your focus is better. I started noticing life's little details again and it was exhilarating. Try it! Even after a few hours you'll notice a difference. 

3. Try a new hobby. 
My new(ish) hobby is writing. I've always wanted to be a writer, and I've done a bit in the past on and off. It's not my greatest strength, but the important thing is I enjoy it and it makes me happy. I have also learned the more I practice, the better I become. 

4. Plan a weekend vacation.
By yourself, with a friend, doesn't matter. Studies have shown that even the planning itself makes a person happier. Just because you work the mundane M-F, 9-5 every week doesn't mean you have to put your life on hold until some vacation time finally comes up. 

5. People watch. 
A couple weeks ago I spent a day at the library. I'll admit, part of the time I was on my laptop, but the rest of the time I observed all the different people coming and going. I'm not a social person by nature and I usually stray away from parties or get togethers because the conversation is usually forced and superficial. People seem to feel this obligation to fill silence with blabber, which drives me up the wall. That's why I love watching people when they are out and about, just living their lives. They seem to be in a more natural state and it feels like you can catch a little glimpse of their humanity. If you are more attracted to the weird side of people but don't have enough money for the circus, hop in your car and head on down to your nearest Walmart, that is always a treat. 

5 benedict cumberbatch performances

Benedict Cumberbatch. A name that has become quite famous in the past few years. Making women everywhere swoon, while others simply sit back and watch in awe at his talent, there's no question as to why he has become an international star so quickly. Widely known for his performances in Star Trek into Darkness, Sherlock, The Hobbit, and 12 Years a Slave-just to name a few-he has also made a name for himself in the theatre such as Danny Boyle's Frankenstein and Thea Sharrock's After the Dance. Here are five more performances by BC that I love:

1. BBC's Hawking
Benedict plays young Stephen Hawking around the time he was diagnosed with motor neuron disease. Unbelievably inspiring and heartbreaking. Reminds me of A Beautiful Mind.

2. Parade's End
A love triangle develops in the midst of WWI between a husband (Cumberbatch), wife, and another woman. So good.

3. Wreckers
When Dawn and David (Cumberbatch) return to his hometown, an unexpected visit from David's unbalanced brother makes Dawn question how well she knows her husband. Benedict is so creepy in this one, definitely a good thriller/drama to watch. Also available on Netflix.

4. Inseparable
A short but empowering film about a father/husband, and his brother. 9 minutes long. Worth the time.

5. Starter for 10
This movie has been my favorite for years before I ever even noticed Benedict. He plays an extremely nerdy quiz team captain at a college. Even if you just watch this video you'll die laughing when you compare his character to the supposed "sex symbol" he is today.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

what to watch on netflix

Tired of watching the same shows over and over on Netflix? Frustrated with the lack of movies you've actually heard of? Look no further! I took a bullet for you and found some sweet little gems among all the crap that I think you might actually enjoy. Keep in mind some definitely aren't Oscar winners, but I enjoyed them nonetheless. I also added ratings (NR-R) for the people who aren't a fan of adult content. 

1. The Giant Mechanical Man (PG-13)
Janice, still adrift in the adult world in her 30s, shocks her family when she falls for Tim, a similarly aimless street performer.

2. Mary and Max (Not Rated) 
A chubby 8-year-old Australian girl, and an obese, adult New Yorker with Asperger's are a pair of unlikely pen pals in this clay animation feature.

3. Like Crazy (PG-13)
An American man and British woman fall in love in Los Angeles but must make their relationship work long distance when she returns to London.

4. Mud (PG-13)
Two Mississippi teens meet peculiar drifter Mud and get caught up in his web of tall tales about lost love, crimes of passion and bounty hunters.

5. Robot & Frank (PG-13)
After his kids give him a robot caretaker, elderly Frank -- a retired cat burglar -- begins to treat his new mechanical helper as a partner in crime.

6. Prince Avalanche (R) 
While repainting traffic lines along a burnt-out stretch of rural highway, a mismatched pair form an unlikely bond that builds upon their differences.

7. Friends with Kids (R)
Friends Jason and Julie decide that the way to have kids without sacrificing their social lives or careers is to raise a child together platonically.

8. Safety Not Guaranteed (R)
A team of journalists are sent to find out who's behind a classified ad seeking a companion for time travel, then must decide how to approach him.

9. Take This Waltz (R) 
Filmed in Toronto, this intimate, unflashy romantic drama portrays a happily married woman who experiences a sudden and strong desire for another man.

10. Drinking Buddies (R)
Complications ensue when Chicago brewery workmates Luke and Kate -- the best of friends on and off the clock--spend a weekend at a lakeside retreat.

11. A Late Quartet (R)
After working together for 25 years, members of a famous string quartet are faced with tragedy when their leader receives a grim medical diagnosis.

12. Happy Go Lucky (R)
When a chirpy schoolteacher takes up driving, she's paired with a sour instructor who's attracted to and repelled by her in this upbeat slice-of-life.

13. Ira & Abby (R)
A wry look at the insanity of married life, this offbeat comedy follows the whirlwind romance between neurotic Ira and free-spirited Abby.

14. Jeff, Who Lives at Home (R)
Siblings Jay and Mark Duplass direct this comedy focusing on two brothers -- one a moderate success, the other still living with Mom.

15. TiMER (R)
In this comedic fantasy, biotechnological implants count down to the moment one is supposed to meet his or her soul mate.

remembering philip seymour hoffman

People need each other. And that actual interaction, or relationship, or friendship, or romantic love affair, all the different ways relationships take form is one of the hardest things we do in our lives. It’s one of the biggest risks we’ll take in our lives. If you say yes to someone, I will, you are also saying, I will be hurt by you. You can’t have relationships if you’re not willing to be disappointed and hurt by that person. It’s impossible. You have to be able to enter into the world and realize the richness of life is all the good and joy and thrill of it, but also all the disappointment, hurt, and heartache of it. And that all of that is what’s great.” -Philip Seymour Hoffman

Philip Seymour Hoffman will always be remembered as one of the greatest actors of all time. He was the actor you had to see no matter how good the film was because of the raw passion he poured into his work. He was the face, heart, and voice of the people who struggled the most, which is why he meant so much to me. No one else could bring both tears and laughter to the screen like he could, and all in one sitting. Magnolia was the first film I saw him in and from then on, I was hooked. I had to see who he was going to become next, which new character he was going to bring to life. It's so rare to find such a versatile actor, and he made it seem effortless. I thought to myself, if I could find something that made me as passionate as he was about acting, my life would have meaning. He will always be an inspiration to me. If he has somehow touched your life in one way or another, I strongly suggest you watch this tribute to him. It is absolutely beautiful.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

the kiss of death

Sometimes I think to myself how lucky I am to be living on my own. I have the freedom to do whatever weird thing I want to do. I have my own apartment that I can decorate to my heart's content. I can eat what I want, wear what I want. Sometimes, if the mood strikes, I interpretive dance naked in the kitchen...Whatever suits my fancy. It's a judge-free zone. The thing is, you kind of need a job to keep those freedoms. Last month, I quit my job. Was it the smartest thing to do without having another job lined up? Eh, probably not. But I couldn't stand it for another second. It was literally sucking the small amount of happiness I had left in my body, like a dementor in the Harry Potter series. Just before that pesky dementor performed his final kiss of death, I waved my metaphorical wand, performed the necessary spell and got the heck outta there. As I made my final steps out of that evil, soul-sucking, corporate-owned building that had me in chains for the past year and a half, I felt something. I was invincible! For the moment, at least. This past month has been an interesting mix of ups and downs. The ups consisted of getting to do whatever I want, when I want. I explored the SLC area. Every day was an exciting, grand adventure. I slept til noon. I went out with friends til all hours of the night without feeling that pang in your gut when you realize you have work the next morning. As my bank account started to empty at a rapid rate, however, that familiar pang came back to the pit of my stomach. Coming to the sad realization that vacations don't last forever, I started my job search. After I went from interview to interview, receiving job offers from more evil, soul-sucking places, I decided that I was not going to settle for anything less than extraordinary. Unfortunately, I have yet to find that extraordinary calling in life, but for now, I am getting certified to be a Nursing Assistant. I am officially certified next week, so we shall see! Maybe this will be the start to a path I want to venture onto, maybe not. One thing I have learned from this little experience is to not be afraid of making a change and taking risks, which coincidentally "change" and "risk" are the two words I fear the most.