Best Movies (Thus Far) of 2012: Self Digging Deep

  • Beasts of the Southern Wild!
  • Dark Knight Rises!
  • Magic Mike!  (Cheeky Tatum Channing cheeks evoke the most entertaining Manohla Dargis review in aaaages!)
  • Mirror, Mirror!  (Self has developed such a fondness for Armie Hammer!)
  • Moonrise Kingdom!  (If there were an Oscar for “Best Casting,” Moonrise Kingdom would win, hands down)
  • Skyfall!  (The best James Bond movie EVER.  All hail, Daniel Craig, Javier Bardem, Judi Dench, and Sam Mendes!)
  • Sleepwalk with Me! (Saw this with son and Jennie in Claremont:  FIVE STARS!  Bravo, Mike Birbiglia!)
  • Snow White and the Huntsman!  (Self is not repelled by K-Stew, she just isn’t!  Sorry, Niece G!)
  • The Avengers!  (Luuuv Tom Hiddleston!)
  • The Raid:  Redemption!  (Self was in Edinburgh, avidly describing this movie to an Indonesian student who had just taken the seat next to hers.  “OK, OK, I’ll watch it right away!” he promised self.  Dear blog readers, this was the best action movie of 2012.  No, wait:  the second best, after Skyfall!)

Much adjusting will be made in the next month or so, self is sure, dear blog readers.  After all, she still hasn’t seen A Late Quartet, Argo, Lincoln (Daniel Day-Lewis supposed to be just phenomenal in this one!) and The Details.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Glory Be! Self Has Finally Seen “Skyfall”!

The screen is from Cebu. Self found it in the Redwood City World Market.

Self is back in the suburban anomie of Redwood City, California.  The city where, despite the name, there are no redwoods.  Where teen-agers in scruffy jeans slouch through Sequoia Station.  Where the local See’s store knows just exactly how many peanut butter patties self limits herself to buying per week.  Where every day self is reminded that she does not know how to cook a turkey.  Where there are movies galore!

Oh San Francisco Bay Area, the nights have never seemed so cold, especially when juxtaposed against the velvety heat of Bacolod City.

Here are a few of the momentous decisions self must make within the week:

  • Will she renew her membership to the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco for next year?
  • Will she give anyone a gift subscription to the New York Review of Books?
  • Will she agree to teach two back-to-back quarters for UCLA Extension’s Writers Program?
  • Can she finish her novel in time to submit to various contests?
  • Is Argo a lock for Best Picture and Best Director Oscar nominations?
  • Will she have time to see The Late Quartet this week?
  • Should she get take-out from Su Hong?
  • When does Justified Season 4 start?
  • Who did she leave off her Christmas card list last year?

Self saw “Skyfall.”  It was amazing.  The fight sequences were so beautiful, especially one near the end where you forget it’s Daniel Craig and just think Bond!  Bond!  Bond!  He and his opponent appear in silhouette against a background of the most planchent midnight blue.  Adele sings the theme song.  “Q” is played by a wonderful, skinny whippet of an actor with geek glasses, finely sculpted cheek bones, an air of great chagrin, and dark, muppet hair.  SPOILER ALERT:  Judi Dench’s M floats serenely out of the scene, but not before she gets to say, “To hell with dignity!” Self will miss the sardonic twist Daniel Craig gave to the response, “Yes, mum.”  Dench’s place is taken by Ralph Fiennes’ Mallory.  There is a new regular, a woman with a superb bod, whose name just happens to be Eve Moneypenny.  And oh, what can self say about Javier Bardem?  When he has bad hair, he is just the most cheeky kind of villain!  Self thinks the scene where he prissily approaches Bond, as if on tiptoe, as if disregarding completely the fact that Bond is roped to a chair, as if he is addressing an equal, is such a madcap, funny/poignant/scary scene.  Bardem in the flesh (like in those tabloid pics with Penelope Cruz) is very handsome, but when he has bad hair (and not only is his hair bad here, it also happens to be blonde), his eyes bug out accordingly, and he looks like a goldfish.  A malevolent goldfish.  With rotting teeth.  In one scene, self swears one can practically smell the rot.  At the end, the packed moviehouse (Century 20, downtown Redwood City) clapped.  For once, self joined in the accolades.  She has never clapped before, not even at the end of Inception, when the audience engaged in similar effusions of praise.  Self must admit, she didn’t like Sam Mendes when Kate Winslet left him because of allegations he had fallen in love with Rebecca Hall.  But with this movie, he has redeemed himself.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Christmas Eve 2011

Christmas this year falls on a Sunday, so Monday is an official holiday.

Today is a “Spare the Air” day, so we cannot light a fire, boo.

Yesterday afternoon, self and the husband were at the Stanford Shopping Center — not to buy, you understand. Just to look “busy” and halfway “with it.” The Coach store was full of Asian women. We stopped by Sprinkles, where self discovered that they only carry peanut butter cupcakes on Tuesdays and Fridays, which is so lame. For the first time ever, there was no line at Pinkberry. Self almost bought a sweater from J. Jill that was 50% off. Good thing the husband decided to stand just by her shoulder as she tried to make up her mind. This small gesture alone was enough to restore self to her senses.

Son was off with his friends.  Self decided to look through back issues of The Economist. In the November 19, 2011 issue, there are reviews of two books which self finds most interesting.

The first is Ghosts of Afghanistan: The Haunted Battleground, by Jonathan Steele. Self loves anything with “Ghosts” in the title. There is a very specific reason for the use of the word in the title, and here is that reason: “On taking office in 2009, President Barack Obama found a longstanding request from the army on his desk, asking for more troops for the war in Afghanistan. He soon acceded, though not in full. According to Bob Woordward’s book, Obama’s Wars, which came out in 2010, the late Richard Holbrooke, Mr. Obama’s envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan, reminded his boss that Lyndon Johnson had faced similar demands during the Vietnam war. “Ghosts,” whispered Mr. Obama.

The second is Bill Clinton’s Back to Work:  Why We Need Smart Government for a Strong Economy.  According to The Economist, “the American public’s growing criticism of Barack Obama has been accompanied by warmer feelings for the Clintons.  More and more Democrats now wonder if they should have chosen Hillary in his place, and it is increasingly common for the president’s lackluster handling of the economy to be contrasted with the surer leadership and much happier economic times when Bill ruled the White House.”  And self is one of those second-guessing people who now wishes she had voted for Hillary in the primaries.

Finally, we saw the Dragon Tattoo movie today. Rooney Mara makes a great Lisbeth Salander.  Self is so enamored, in particular, of the way she says “Hey, hey” whenever she visits someone’s apartment.  And Daniel Craig is, needless to say, a very, very hot Michael Blomkvist.  And Joely Richardson, in a very small role, is very, very moving.  Goran Visjnic most emphatically does not look good with platinum blonde hair.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Movie Stars Were Here! Condé Nast Traveler, March 2011

There they were, those jet-setting movie stars, ordering Manhattans in some bar in Tribeca, or sipping tequilas in the French Quarter.   Herewith, the definitive last word on your favorite movie star’s whereabouts, lifted from the March 2011 issue of Condé Nast Traveler (Self still in catch-up mode, clearly):

  • Cape Town:    Ryan Reynolds and Denzel Washington filming “Safe House”(Incidentally, someone who looks like Ryan Reynolds can never —  self repeats, never —  be credible playing a spy, dear blog readers.  Unless he scruffs up his face.  Makes it not so clean-cut and boyish-looking.  Adopts a limp.  Applies fake warts to the sides of his nose.  And so on)
  • India:   Suraj Sharma filming “Life of Pi” (directed by Ang Lee)
  • New Orleans:   Kate Beckinsale and Mark Wahlberg, filming “Contraband”
  • London:   Keanu Reeves filming “47 Ronin”
  • New York City:   Robert de Niro and Jake Gyllenhaal filming “New Year’s Eve”
  • New Zealand:   Cate Blanchett filming “The Hobbit, Part 1” (directed by Peter Jackson)
  • Stockholm:   Daniel Craig filming “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” (directed by David Fincher)

The places self has never been to, and that she so longs to visit someday, are Cape Town, India, New Zealand, and Stockholm.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

A Very Bond Thanksgiving

Finally, hubby got to fulfill his most earnest Thanksgiving wish: to watch the new James Bond movie. And to watch it at a time when it would not interfere with the great football games taking place Thanksgiving Day. And so there we were, hubby, son, and self, seated in the downtown cinema for the 6:30 p.m. show. Seated directly behind us was a whole row of young-ish men, who were having a “boys night out,” obviously, and chuckling at all the previews (They seemed to like Clive Owen’s “The International.” Self adores Clive Owen, but why is Naomi Watts in the preview for all of three seconds?)

Self is here to declare that all those people who derided this version as “not very good Bond” are talking through their hats. For this was indeed a very good Bond.  Perhaps not as good as the Bond/Vesper Lynd installment (Olga Kurylenko doesn’t have quite the acting chops of Eva Green, in self’s humble opinion), but still very good. There were a lot of slap-boxing fight scenes (reminiscent of the Bourne movies); there was a lot of fancy inter-cutting of scenes of local color with scenes of mayhem (a horse thingamajig in Siena, Italy intercut with fancy rooftop chase scenes; Austrian opera intercut with more chase scenes); there were a lot of really atmospheric shots of Haiti; and there was a hotel of surreal modernity (fantastic!) right in the middle of the Bolivian desert. A young woman named Gemma Arterton (22 years old) who was recently featured in Vanity Fair was on-screen for maybe five minutes. Tim Piggot-Smith of “Jewel in the Crown,” which Penny and self were so ga-ga over during our Stanford days, made a brief cameo appearance, and he was sadly fat.

Afterwards, since self was so exceedingly thrilled by the two hours spent ogling Daniel Craig’s biceps, she wanted to bite the bullet and plunk down $5 for a treat at Marble Slab Creamery. Alas, tonight of all nights, when self had girded her loins to plunk down the money, the shop was dark. So self had to settle for Beard Papa. They have a new type of cream puff called “cookie crunch” and, my, it was heavenly! Self could hardly wait to get home to begin noshing on it.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers, stay tuned.

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