New Starts

So this page has been dark for a little while now. Honestly, this has been due to a few factors. Primarily we have been extraordinarily busy moving into our first home. Between the hunting process and then moving process, our days have been really full.

We love our new home, and are super excited about being homeowners. The home was move-in ready, but we are trying to change somethings right away. I will get into the details and post pictures real soon.

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Winter in Westwood

Sometimes it all comes together somehow. I woke up on a Saturday morning in January, and was amazed with the weather outside my window. It had snowed an inch or two the night before, while I witnessed this a few times already this year this was completely unique.  I had never seen such a combination of snow and fog before. It looked like I imagined Narnia looked like when Peter first went through the wardrobe. I still had a few hours before I had to be at work, but I knew I had to document this unique weather occurrence  Luckily (very luckily), I had recently loaded my Holga with 800 speed film which proved to be necessary to shoot in such low light. I opened up the aperture and started walking around my neighborhood. Sometimes, its better to be lucky than good.

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Winter Movie Project

Currently, there are a lot of movies I want to catch up with. I have spent hours the last couple of weeks just flipping around on the old Netflix queue just trying to make a decision. So I have been thinking about a project that would narrow my focus and force me to watch some movies that I have missed.

Then while I was watching the Golden Globes on Sunday and discussing  awards season, an interesting idea occurred to me. Every year at this time, I try to scramble to see all the important movies that I can. I’m sure I will do that again this year, but I thought it might be fun to try and catch up with best picture winners from the past that I may have missed. So I picked four Best Picture winners from the past 35 years that I have never seen, and before Oscar night I am going to try to watch them all.

Here is the tentative list:

Ordinary People 1980

I am interested in this one because I feel it is always being held up as an example of an ill awarded Oscar. Is it better than Raging Bull? I don’t know, but unless I see it I can’t really say.

Platoon 1986

The one surprise on the list. I knew it was a big hole in my viewing history, but didn’t know it was an Oscar winner.

The English Patient 1996

The length of this one always kept me away, but this will force me to decide if I am with team Bennis or team Petermann.

The Artist 2012

This one has been on my Netflix queue forever, and before that it was a forgotten red envelope on my dvd player. The weird thing is that I have watched silent movies in that time span, but never sat down and watched this award winner.

Here is a list of the other Oscar winners I haven’t seen.

Chariots of Fire

Out of Africa

Last Emperor

Titanic

Chicago

So I have seen 75% of best pictures in my lifetime. I wonder how normal that is with other people. I really have no idea. Kind of interesting though. Might go back and check the all time list.

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Messy Autumn

These are some photos I took on a little daytrip Lesley and I took to Bryson City NC. We had a great trip with wonderful weather. I would advise anyone taking this voyage to take the time and avoid “the dragon” on 129, unless driving is something you really enjoy. 

These photos came out as a real mess. Mostly in a bad or annoying way, but some have acquired really interesting characteristics. Lots of mistakes in these from inescapable ones like light leaks and other more obvious mistakes like the camera strap coming into the frame. I post these merely to serve as a document of a weekend trip on a beautiful fall day. 

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Fascination

Before it actually fascinates. Fascination serves merely to titillate. In fact, the first half of this film is an increasingly frustrating experience. All the dialogue about what is going to happen later intercut with softcore sex scenes. The two female leads are both very attractive and play their parts well, but we start to lose interest when the narrative slows to a crawl.

Luckily, something wonderful happens at the half way point. Almost instantly the sexual aspects of the film are dropped and a sequence of  violence changes the whole direction of the film. This sequence is not particularly brutal or grotesque, but rather is done so well and feels earned that the viewer becomes enthralled with the story and changes happening with the major characters. Now new characters are introduced and new themes as well. Where before sex was titillation of both characters and audience, it is now portrayed as a means to wield power by both men and women. Before the plot felt static and repetitive, in the second half the narrative seems to burst with possibilities. At the end, the reveal is not an entire surprise, but the manner in which it is delivered catches the viewer off guard.

This is the first film I have viewed by Jean Rollin. Outside of Eyes without a Face, this may be the only French horror film I have seen. Naturally, I loved the style in almost every aspect of the production. While this film never truly scares, there are quite few unsettling images that made me look away. I look forward to explore more titles from this subgenre.

3/5 Butcher shops. This is probably the bloodiest scene of the film. Butcher shops are always pretty gross, and it didn’t help that this film was set in 1909.

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Final Destination 5

Ugh. I watched this on a hungover Sunday afternoon. Man this franchise has really become tired. The acting has hit a new low. Rob Cordry has been brought onto the cast with little or no comic effect. Some of the  3D shots may have been interesting in the theatre, but here they feel and look extraneous. Gone are the Rube Goldbergesque death sequences. In their place are completely random and unsurprising deaths. The climax involves gunfire and fistfight which always means death anyway. Just a really silly and uninteresting addition to the franchise.

1/5 Lasers (This is the best death scene, but both obvious and unjustified at the same time)

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The Curse of the Mummy’s Tomb

How exciting would a trip to Hammer Studios in the sixties have been? I imagine actors in monster makeup and period costumes wandering around and socializing in front of fake European castles. Hammer films always fill me with a sense of nostalgia for old time showbiz.

The Curse of the Mummy’s Tomb has this sense of nostalgia in spades because it attempts to recreate not just one but two historical time periods. I know when first released Hammer films were genuinely received as new horrifying versions of classic Hollywood horror. Watching them now, they feel even older. The ridiculous stock characters and bright cheesy sets make them feel like direct continuations of Universal horror films then the reimaginings that they were. This is not a bad thing. There are great chuckles to be had at obvious cleavage and ridiculous accents on background characters. Yet, something happens while you are chuckling. Suddenly, you become invested in the plot, because at it’s core this film has a well-crafted, thoughtfully-paced narrative. When the climax arrives, which may not be a shocking revelation, you are hooked.

With it’s engaging plot and solid acting, The Curse of the Mummy’s Tomb feels like a horror movie out of time, in a good way.

3/5 Head-stompings (This is the most brutal death in the movie and happens off-screen. Still it is very effective.)

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