Sunday, July 29, 2012

Summer Olympics: Opening Ceremony

The opening ceremonies in London were a mixed bag, kind of messy and complicated with various "storylines," but enjoyable for various highlights involving celebrities/notables.  Queen Elizabeth's participation in a film with Daniel Craig (playing James Bond) was a definite highlight.  Amazing how long her reign has been, just a few years' short of Queen Victoria, therefore to-date currently the second longest reign of a British monarch.  Mr. Bean was a distraction but I still liked his bit (it totally, however, took away from the performance of "Chariots of Fire").  Kenneth Branagh was cheery as "Isambard Kingdom Brunel" (apparently Americans [on Twitter] thought he was playing Abraham Lincoln, and wondered why: my guess is they were being wise-asses and didn't really think he was playing Lincoln). I always love the Parade of Nations, particularly when the commentators inform the audience of the nations participating that have never medaled in the history of the Olympics! One of the best trivia pieces offered by commentators, was about tiny group island nation Tuvalu's sale of their .tv web domain, see NYT article here and wikipedia page here (unfortunately, Tuvalu is one of those South Pacific island nations that's in danger of being under water one day due to climate change).   Just before getting to the Zs, Bob Costas summed up how I feel about the Parade of Nations at the Olympics: "Regardless of the political tensions and differences-- the world hot spots-- the smiles on the faces of these Olympians are so genuine.  They're all, each in their own way, so happy to be here."   I must say that during the speeches by the officials, the clunky term "your Royal Highnessess" sure sounded like "your Royal Highn-asses" to me.  As always, the lighting of the Olympic cauldron was a natural high point, with the numerous torches coming together this time to create it a novel approach.  Paul McCartney delivered a nice finale, and was the perfect choice.  All in all, enough "spectacle" and water cooler-talk worthy highlights to say the '12 opening ceremonies succeeded, but they probably won't go down as one of the better ones.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

The Dark Knight Rises Tragedy

I thought I'd say a few words about this.  I see a lot of movies and have spent many hours in a darkened theater being moved/ thrilled/ happy/ bored by the latest film.  When I saw The Dark Knight Rises I couldn't help but think in its opening minutes about the horror that befell the patrons at Aurora, and yet here I was watching the same movie settling in to enjoy what turned out to be a great epic film.  The experience was tainted as it will be for anyone who has a heart, and for me I felt especially so because the movies seem to be the one place where you can (and should be able to) forget your troubles and its also the place where, frequently, you can marvel at the most positive of our abilities: the creativity of the human race. And now I'll always probably think about how some innocent people lost there lives by going to the movies. People who instead should have been forgetting their troubles and enjoying themselves.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Best of the Year So Far: Mid-Year Top 5 2012

Several years back I realized that I had trouble diferentiating between the movies I liked and the movies I loved from the early part of the year. Roger Ebert has always suggested that this was true of the Academy and why the Oscars have such "short attention span."  He recommended a mid-year ballot to go along with the end-of-the-year ballot combining both to create the nominations list.

For me, I decided a mid-year top 5 usually works.  I wait until July 15, since the first few weeks of January are generally a wash for new releases, and so 7/15 is a little closer to the mid-point (sorry, although it would have been "eligible" I haven't yet seen Spider-Man-- I just can't get excited for a reboot that's premature!).

I have just eight "nominees" for my top 5 this year (the least since 2008)— but three at the top, i.e. "must see" (Moonrise Kingdom, Prometheus, and Seeking a Friend for the End of the World).  This year's nominees (films I'd seen by 7/15 that made my "must see" and "recommended" categories) include: The Avengers, The Grey, Haywire, Snow White and the HuntsmanThe Hunger GamesMoonrise Kingdom, Prometheus, and Seeking a Friend for the End of the World.

My top 5 2012 so far (listed alphabetically)
The Grey
Moonrise Kingdom
Seeking a Friend for the End of the World