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Archive for the ‘My Better Half’ Category

"Up in the Air"

"Up in the Air"

Last Friday we went to see the new Jason Reitman (of “Juno” fame, son of Ivan of “Ghostbusters” fame) movie, “Up In The Air”, starring George Clooney as a renowned specialist in the area of firing people, who spends only about 40 days a year in his apartment – a blank space, lacking any indications of a real person living there – and the rest travelling around the States, doing his most hated (by others – he himself loves it) job, or, as the title indicates – up in the air, collecting miles travelled on board of various planes.

My Better Half hated the movie, while I quite liked it – it showed exactly the side of corporate America that will definitely come to Poland in some 10-20 years (as everything else did), but which I already have a chance to taste in the company I work in. Several hours before the movie I had a chance to read Javier’s blog post about corporate language (we work in the same company), and how, for example, they don’t ever use the word “problem”. They even avoid using the word “issue”, when something unexpected happens. No. In corporate language something like this is called “opportunity for improvement”.

And that’s exactly what “Up In The Air” is about – George Clooney’s character travels around the US and tells people, who worked ten-twenty-thirty years for a company, have spouses and children to feed and mortgages to pay off, that they’re not losing the job, they’re not fired, no – they are given the fantastic opportunity to chase their long-forsaken dreams! How great is that?

Watching movies like this makes me glad that Poland is still quite far away from Fabulous America. And maybe that’s the reason why we argued so much about it – me with my fiancee, that is – because while I work in a real, american corporation, Ania is working very deep in typical, Polish school teaching environment, and for her it’s very hard to believe she can give negative grades to their students and tell them with a wide smile that it’s a “great opportunity for improvement” for them. “Hey! You failed the test! Look how much there is for you to learn! Isn’t that just wonderful?”

Of course, american middle class movies and shows (like “Desperate Housewives”, for example) show that american education system uses the same corporate approach to show every failure in bright colors and never ever let the students feel bad about their lack of knowledge, skills or just plain laziness. It’s all a great field to improve for them, isn’t it?

In my opinion, the world would be a better place if people were more able to just face the facts. But if they’re not taught to do that as children, they won’t be able to do that as adults. They are just hanging up in the air, with false views on their abilities or knowledge, and when the reality hits, it hits with the force of the ground when you fall from ten thousand feet…

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Mosaic of Love

"Love Actually"

"Love Actually"

A Mosaic Plot is a type of a multi-threaded plot with many separate stories, but where the stories are somehow intertwined – sometimes the characters from different threads know each other or are related to each other (“Playing By Heart”, “Magnolia”), sometimes not even that – they might just pass each other on the street or in some doorway (“Traffic”, “Syriana”).

In recent years there were quite a few such constructed movies, but with romantic comedy plots – “Valentine’s Day” being one of them. After seeing that I was recommended some older movies in similar style, and this week I decided to do some catching up.

“Love Actually” is pretty good. Seriously, “Valentine’s Day” is just a poor copy of that classic British romantic comedy from 2003. The stories are more real, more down-to-Earth and less tasting like diabetes. Aside from many happy endings, there is also death, adultery and painful prioritizing disturbed family over (potential) love life. Much like one of the best Philip K. Dick’s novels, “Flow My Tears, The Policeman Said”, this movie deals with many different kinds of love, not just the romantic one.

"He's Just Not That Into You"

"He's Just Not That Into You"

“He’s Just Not That Into You”, American movie from 2009, is more romantic, but less a comedy – the relationships here are further away from “Valentine’s Day”, and closer to, well, “Closer”: some are happy, but some are quite painful. What I loved here, though, was that even though stories are pretty straightforward and rarely surprising, the actors just made them real. Also, Jennifer Annistor for the third time plays in a movie that seems like a rom-com from afar, but in reality isn’t one (the previous two were “The Break-Up” and “Object Of My Affection” from 1998 – boy, did we argue about that movie with my fiancee…).

I like well-constructed mosaic movies, I’m not so keen on rom-coms, but I still enjoy a good movie, and those two were really good. Not only were they fun to watch, but both of them got me really involved with the characters and left me with something to think about – and that’s what I love in movies the most, whichever genre they are.

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Here comes the sun!

Spring finally arrived in Poland. After four months spent in the dark and cold, the sun came, melt most of the snow away, uncovered the green and brought beautiful, warm wheather. It was so beautiful yesterday that for the first time in a long, long period I left house voluntarily and went for a walk with my fiancee and my camera. We sat on a bench and charged our solar batteries for a while, we opened our windows wide when we got back home, and we basked in the smell of fresh earth. It was amazing.

So amazing that I just couldn’t sit inside for too long – in the afternoon I grabbed my camera again and just got out. My plan was to shoot some photos of the early spring, see my friend Lucy, buy a printer/scanner/copier and go see the new Polanski movie.

The plan was realized in 50% plus – Lucy was not in town and it was already too dark for taking photos, but I bought the machine, visited my parents briefly and did see the movie.

“The Ghost Writer” is not, as some people said, his greatest achievement and the most important movie in his career, but it was good – it’s less a thriller or action movie, and more psychological, very much in the usual Planski’s style. Additionally, it’s great to realize that there are still movies that can surprise me.

And today, since my Multisport card arrived on Friday, I’m oficially launching the swimming season! The biking season is getting closer too – I can’t wait to switch from bus and car (no matter how I love my little Panda) to my two-wheeler…

PS. More photos on how winter caved before inevitable spring – here.

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"Fanaa"

"Fanaa"

So we watched another Bollywood movie. After “Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham” we fell in love with the convention, but somehow we haven’t watched anything since. Then we saw “Slumdog Millionaire” and for some time we were a little discouraged to watch anything Bolly again.

But that phase has passed and now we’re back to exploring Indian cinema. We started with the movie “Fanaa”, known in the English-speaking world as “Destroyed in Love” and starring known from KKKG Kajol (unfortunately, with no Shahrukh Khan …). We chose that film because my fiancee works with blind children, and Kajol’s character in this movie is blind, so she was curious how will that work in a Bollywood movie.

(more…)

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"Valentine's Day"

"Valentine's Day"

Yes, I know it’s tomorrow :)

But we celebrated it today, with a movie called “Valentine’s Day”. My Only Right Girl said she’s taking me for a movie of my choice, but instead of taking her on some post-apocalyptic thriller with Denzel Washington or action packed adventures of Sherlock Holmes I decided we should see that movie.

Girls from my previous job told me about it last Thursday and said it seems to be something like “She’s Just Not That Into You” or “Love Actually”, or some other movie like that – several simultaneous love stories about different people. Then I saw the trailer, and despite it containing the worst fucking song ever (“I Got A Feeling” by Black Eye Peas), I decided it could be fun, and I was sure my fiancee would love it, especially because of half of “Grey’s Anatomy”‘s cast starring in it.

We saw it today then, and we liked it. As far as multi-threaded mosaic movies go (like Altman movies, or “Magnolia”, or “Play By Heart”, or “Traffic”), this was pretty mediocre, but as a romantic comedy (in this area I just can’t believe anything better than “Four Weddings And A Funeral” will ever appear) it was pretty good – it was positive, had some tear jerking moments and even more funny ones. It had maybe a little too many stories, too many characters and, in the beginning, we felt overwhelmed and a little lost, and in the end it felt just too long – we were just waiting for the film to end.

But over all, it was a Valentine’s Day well spent :)

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