A Good Yarn

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Time Flies

I've definitely been having fun, but I didn't mean to once again go so long between posts. I'll get this figured out eventually. I've managed to make time to see a few movies, so I'll start there. The first one I saw was this:

That's a pretty lame, boring name for a pretty good film. It's based on a true story about a group of petty criminals who rent out a handbag shop in early 70's London so that they can dig under the shop next door and into a bank vault. They're in it for the cash, but they've been manipulated by MI-5 to do the job because they want some naughty pictures of Princess Margaret that are being used by a radical black power leader to blackmail the government. The film is pretty fast moving and keeps you interested and following along through the whole thing. I had never seen a Jason Statham movie before and I really liked him. He's got a great screen presence and hopefully he'll get more interesting parts like this and not just the pure adrenalized action he's been doing. I'd recommend this for people who enjoy heist flicks and just want a fun, easy afternoon at the movies.

I can't recommend the next film I saw, luckily for free:

It was really just a mess. Charlize Theron stars and produced the film. She plays a down on her luck mother who seems to have gone through a string of bad relationships and has a strained relationship with her 13 year old daughter. After her latest boyfriend is thrown in jail for growing large amounts of marijuana on his property, she and her daughter move in with her younger brother, played by Nick Stahl. Theron's character hits the road with some plan in mind and leaves her daughter behind with her brother, who starts to try to take care of her, although he has a tough enough time caring for himself. I liked the performances of all of these actors, but the story was really disjointed. They threw in every indie film cliche you can think of and it just didn't flow very well. There was also a dream-like sequence at a swimming pool that seemed completely out of synch with the rest of the film. If you're really interested in film acting, maybe check it out, but otherwise I'd say don't waste your time.

The last film I saw was:

The film is set in 1930s London and has the feel of the screwball comedies of the era, especially at the beginning. Amy Adams plays an American actress, who goes by Delysia Lafosse, trying to hit the big time by sleeping with a hot young director, living in the apartment of the owner of the club where she sings and romancing her piano player. Frances McDormand plays an out of work nanny, Miss Pettigrew, who manages to work her way into Delysia's life and serve as her social secretary. As you can imagine with all those relationships to juggle, Miss Pettigrew has her work cut out for her with plenty of door slamming and fast talking and the sort of hijinx you saw in Screwball Comedies. Miss Pettigrew is utterly capable, though, and as the film goes on, you start to see the real people behind the overacted facade. Everything is wrapped up a little too nicely, as is the tradition, but I found it satisfying. I was thrilled to see Ciaran Hinds in a romantic lead role, as a lingerie designer who has an interest in Miss Pettigrew. If you're a fan of the old 30s comedies or just romantic comedies in general, this is worth a look.

Besides movies, I also saw this guy:

It was an amazing show. Probably my favorite of all of the Springsteen shows I've seen. He had an incredible energy and seemed really in synch with the rest of the band. The guy is amazing. Here's the set list, if you're interested:

1. Night
2. Radio Nowhere
3. Lonesome Day
4. Darkness on the Edge of Town
5. Gypsy Biker
6. Magic
7. Reason to Believe
8. Prove It All Night
9. She’s the One
10. Livin’ in the Future
11. Promised Land
12. Waitin on a Sunny Day
13. Backstreets
14. Devil’s Arcade
15. The Rising
16. Last to Die
17. Long Walk Home
18 Badlands

19. Girls in their Summer Clothes
20. Jungleland
21. Born to Run
22. Dancing in the Dark
23. American Land

It was fun to close the show with "American Land" on the day before St. Patrick's Day.

I guess I'll cover the knitting world in my next post. I'm hopelessly behind in the ABC-Along postings, too.

Labels: ,

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Actual Knitting Content

I know I've been promising, and here it finally is. I've been knitting up my Elann samples from the last six months, so that's kind of boring to look at. But I've almost finished the Olivia's Sweatshirt for Jessica:

That's kind of boring to look at too. It's just plain blue stockinette. The real excitement is feeling it. It's a very nice, soft fabric that I think Jessica will like. All I have left is knitting and sewing on the hood and installing the zipper. Just in time for spring! :-) Oh well, you can always use a hoodie when it gets cold at night, right?

I've also been working on a pair of socks:

These are called Cable Lattice Socks - I got the pattern in an old issue of Knitnet. I'm using Socks That Rock yarn in the Little Bunny Foo Foo colorway. I'm in love again! STR is definitely my favorite sock yarn. It's so pretty and also so soft and cushy. This particular colorway is extra yummy because it looks like ice cream - chocolate, caramel, strawberry. Mmmmmmmmmm.....

Labels: ,

Monday, March 10, 2008

More movies

I know this blog has become all movies, all the time, but I promise there will be knitting content. I've recently been knitting something I don't want to blog about, so that puts a crimp in things. But I also have started a new pair of socks and I'm almost done with Jessica's hoodie, so I do have some blog fodder some day. In the mean time, I saw some movies this weekend:

Be Kind, Rewind is directed by Michel Gondry and stars Mos Def as a video store clerk, Mike, and Jack Black as his best friend, Jerry. The video store is owned by Mr. Fletcher, played by Danny Glover. The video store is in trouble, so Mr. Fletcher pretends to leave town for a few days while he actually scopes out the fancy chain store in town - you know, the one that actually has DVDs instead of video tapes. He leaves Mike in charge of the store and while he's gone, Jerry comes in and erases all of the tapes after he's become magnetized while trying to sabotage the power plant he lives next to. The guys decide to re-enact some of the videos so the customers can still watch the movies and maybe Mr. Fletcher won't find out they screwed up. Their movies catch on and become very popular.

I must be the target audience for Michel Gondry because I find his films charming and amusing (he previously directed The Science of Sleep and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind). The set up is completely improbable, the world the characters live in is unrecognizable as reality and the ending is totally cheesy, but darn it, I just enjoyed myself so much watching this film. I loved the characters and wanted things to turn out well for them and I loved their movies. So, I guess if you like something kind of off-beat and different, check it out. Especially if you love movies and feel a personal connection to them.

This weekend was also a Talk Cinema weekend and the film was a French mystery/love story:

In English this is being marketed as either "Crossed Tracks" or simply "Tracks." I'm not sure if this will get much of a release state-side so I won't go into any great detail. As I mentioned there's a murder mystery and a love story and it was pretty engaging, but I doubt it'll stay with me for long.

I had the great pleasure of seeing this, too:

U2 is one of my favorite bands and this was definitely a must see for everyone else who loves them. It was filmed in South America during the last tour and really envelopes you with the 3D process. The visuals are amazing and you feel like you're really in the crowd. The digital sound is also fantastic. I just loved Adam Clayton's bass and the Edge's guitar in New Year's Eve and Where the Streets Have No Name. They also did a pairing of Sunday, Bloody Sunday and Bullet the Blue Sky, which I've seen them do in concert before, but am thrilled to see again. Two great songs which go so great together. The film is strictly concert footage - there's no interviews or behind the scenes stuff. The 3D effects are almost all just to make you feel like you're actually at a concert, though there is one part where Bono reaches toward you as if to touch you and there are a couple of visuals that float in front of you - mostly words. This film is not being planned to be released on home video, so instead of drinking green beer to celebrate St. Paddy's Day, why not go see Ireland's favorite sons?

To bring knitting back into the blog a little bit, I will post this great poster I saw at the Edina:

I saw a preview for this documentary a few weeks ago and it looks great. Here's a preview:


Thursday, March 06, 2008

Best of 2007

It was a good year for film, so it was hard to choose the Top Ten. Here are my favorite movies of 2007:

1. Diving Bell and the Butterfly
2. Into the Wild
3. Once
4. King of Kong
5. Lars & The Real Girl
6. Taxi to the Dark Side
7. The Savages
8. Sweeney Todd
9. Sicko
10. Gone Baby Gone

Yeah, none of my Top Ten were nominated for the Academy Awards this year. In 2005 my top five were the five nominees. That was really rare, but it's also really rare that none of my favorites are nominated. I actually really liked all the nominated films this year, but they just didn't grab a hold of me like these did. I should say none of them were nominated for Best Picture, because Taxi to the Dark Side actually won the Best Documentary Oscar.

On July 1 I did a top five of my favorite movies so far and it was a light and funny bunch, with Once at the top. I predicted that more dramatic films would make it on my top ten and oh boy, did they. Diving Bell and Into the Wild edged out Once for the top spot on my final list and they were both really emotional for me.

This year I intermixed the documentaries and fiction films because I didn't see as many documentaries this year as I had in years past - I think the big bounty of documentaries has passed again - or maybe I just wasn't as good about seeing them when I wanted to. In any case, I had three documentaries on my list and if I slid those off, I probably would have added Rescue Dawn, Knocked Up and Michael Clayton. I also really liked another documentary this year, My Kid Could Paint that. I haven't seen No End in Sight yet, though.

So, that's the list for this year. I highly, highly recommend all of the films I listed and pretty much all of them are available on DVD if you want to add them to your Netflix list.

In other fun and exciting news, I got a great package in the mail! My Special Swap partner this time was Kat and she sent me an outstanding parcel. Our theme this go around was A Day at the Spa. Everything arrived in this pretty box:

I opened it up and found a pretty card and these pretty little surprises:

Soothing blues and greens, I'm already relaxing! But when I opened those little packages up I found some pretty great stuff:

Kat was way too generous!! Starting from the right, there's a hand-knit beautiful blue and green facecloth - gorgeous and soft. Next in the back is a really fragant candle - I can't wait to try that out. It smells fantastic. Beside the candle is a bag of chocolate/white chocolate squares. I couldn't wait to try those out - they are delicious!!! In front of and beside that are two big packages of Burt's Bees products. LOVE the Burt's Bees (luckily Kat does too, because I sent her some too). There a little something to soothe every part of my incredibly dry hands, feets, face and body (come soon spring!) Next to that is the best relaxation of all, knitting! Kat included a bunch of really fun accessories and a gorgeous skein of yarn and scarf pattern from Knitspot. You want to see that yarn close up, don't you?

As you can see on the tag, it's Arequipa from Ball and Skein - an alpaca/silk blend (two of my favorite fibers!!) It's a gorgeous colorway called storm - purple and gray and black, beautiful, beautiful! Thank you so much for the fantastic package, Kat. I'm really looking forward to continuing our friendship and of course using this stuff up!!

Labels: ,

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Movie Update

Since I haven't blogged regularly lately, I have a few movies to review. I get a mixed reaction to the movie reviews. Some people really like them and some people just want knitting content. If you fall into the latter category, move on - just movies today.

I finally saw this film:

I liked it, but I didn't love it. There's been a lot of comparisons this week between Blood and No Country and my reaction to both was similar. Really well done, great filmmaking, but kind of left me cold, so not my favorite movies of the year. Blood is about an oilman played by Daniel Day Lewis. The film opens with DDL mining for silver and is completely dialog free. It's beautiful filmmaking and really sets up who this character is and what he's about. During his mining he finds oil and becomes a very successful oilman. One day he's given a tip about some oil rich land that can be had for cheap by a young man played by Paul Dano. DDL goes to this land and buys oil leases and develops the oil fields. He meets the brother of the man who gave him the tip, also played by Paul Dano. This man is an ambitious preacher and there's a lifelong animosity between Dano's character and DDL character. So the film is about oil and greed and ambition and religion and family. There were times I struggled to stay with the film, because it has a very slow, deliberate pace and it's a pretty long film. Those are two things that usually don't bother me a bit, but maybe because it was a Friday evening or just the film itself, I had a tough time this time. I would recommend it, though.

Shorter and much easier to follow was this:

This is a family film about two twin boys and their older sister who move into their family's ancestoral home with their mom when their father leaves the family. The house had been occupied by their great aunt before she was finally committed to an insane asylum. See, she thought that fairies had stolen her father. Turns out, the old lady was on to something. Her father, Arthur Spiderwick, played by one of my favorite actors, David Strathairn, had written down everything he had learned about the secret world of fairies which is all around us, but we just don't see. The fairies, goblings and other spirits are animated and the CGI and real world look really good together in this film. The twins are played by Freddie Highmore, who does a good job distinguishing the two brothers. I was a little troubled by how poorly the dads come off in this film, but overall I thought it was a fun film and the kids all really liked it (age 6 to 12).

Even shorter and easier to understand was the last movie I saw:

Yes, another Will Ferrell comedy, this time about an ABA league basketball team, the Flint Tropics. If you giggle at the idea of a team in Flint, MI called the Tropics, you'll enjoy this silly film. This is not one of the great Will Ferrell movies, but it's funny enough. I agree with Robert Wilonsky, who called it "comedy comfort food." There's a lot of gags about the 70s and sports and Will Ferrell's typically enthusiastic but kinda dumb character. But there's also the cliched sports movie storyline about the grizzled old vet who needs to find his love for the game again for one last run at glory - this time the grizzled old vet is played by Woody Harrelson. There actually are a couple of black guys on the team too, including Andre Benjamin as the star of the team, looking to make it to the NBA even if his team doesn't make it through the ABA/NBA merger that is looming. Benjamin (aka Andre 3000 of OutKast) really looks like a baller - who knew he was so sexy? There are a number of characters who are really funny and although the movie as a whole isn't fantastic, I'd still recommend it for a fun matinee when you need a laugh. I also have to mention the soundtrack. As a huge fan of 70s soul, I enjoyed the film just for the great music. It may have been set in Flint, but the music is pure Motown.

OK, that brings me up to date. There are a couple of other films I wanted to see from 2007, but I think I've seen all the essentials. Next time I'll post my list of my Top Ten of 2007. It was a really good year and it'll be hard to limit it to just 10.