The Year of Living Dangerously

 I truly enjoyed watching this film in which Mel Gibson, Sigourney Weaver and Linda Hunt gave a phenomenal performance. It was very moving to see a character like Billy Kwan and how he loved and cared for so many people. I was amazed to discover the Billy Kwan was played by a woman named Linda Hunt. It is no surprise that she won an academy award for Best Actress in a supporting role. The majority off all the memorable lines from the movie are spoken by Billy. Mel Gibson also did a great job in this film as the Australian journalist Guy Hamilton (love the name by the way) on his first foreign correspondent assignment in Indonesia. I believe that Guy was a success because Billy helped him get there, without Billy I don’t think he would have done well in Indonesia. It was very sad to watch their friendship fall apart near the end of the film when Guy betrays his trust with diplomat Jill Bryant just to get the story of a life time. Billy had a sense of loyalty that Guy lacked and Billy felt betrayed by Guy’s decision to seek out his big story. From this point the film got sadder and sadder. I still can’t believe that Billy jumped from the window and killed himself just to get Sukarno’s attention for the people in his country who were starving. In the end I am glad that Guy was able to make it out of Indonesia safely, except for his eye. It was a very intense film that I enjoyed watching very much. This one is a must see. Billy was by far my favorite character in this film.

December 8, 2010. Movie Reflections. Leave a comment.

Whale Rider

I truly enjoyed Whale Rider. It was a beautiful film that introduced to me aspects of a culture that I had previously known nothing about. I fond myself sympathizing with the young girl who was not wanted by either her father or grandfather. The way she was treated just because she was the girl who lived seemed very unfair to me. I liked her spunk and determination to learn the old ways despite her grandfather’s objections. She had a genuine heart that made her a good leader and I am glad that her grandfather finally realized that in the end. I found myself wanted to cry right along with her when her grandfather did  not come to her school performance. I am glad that she lived and everything worked out in the end. I enjoyed the ending watching all of the tribal people, performing their ceremony and going back to the old ways. It truly was a proud moment not only grandfather and granddaughter, but the whole tribe. I highly recommend this movie.

November 30, 2010. Movie Reflections. Leave a comment.

Manufactured Landscapes

Manufactured landscapes was a very interesting documentary. I actually found it boring and intriguing at the same time. At times I was draw into the pictures or the stories, but the rest of the time I found it hard to watch. The photographer is a great photographer, making beautiful  pictures out of scenes that are manufactures by the worlds economies. It made me sad to see whole towns in China that were built around taking apart and disposing of our American e-waste. These towns were polluted by the e-waste and the people’s whole life was based on the task of disposing of it. I was also amazed by the Chinese people taking on the task of building the worlds largest dam. I liked the pictures, but wish the documentary was more interesting.

November 25, 2010. Movie Reflections. Leave a comment.

War Photographer

War Photographer was a very interesting documentary to watch. I am intrigued by this man who travels the world documenting human tragedy. I am surprised that people allow him to stand by and witness their most intimate moments of suffering and take pictures. It is a job that few people can take. I am interested in knowing more about how he copes with the amount of horror and suffering that he has seen and witnessed. He seems so humble, gentle and soft-spoken despite the horrific things he has seen. I was shocked with his photos of famine victims. They were nothing but skeletons with skin. He was right in saying that those are not usually the images that we see of famine because most are taken at feeding centers. It is important to document tragedy and to let the world know, so I value this task that he has taken on. It was a very interesting documentary to watch.

November 12, 2010. Movie Reflections. Leave a comment.

Shall We Dance? Japanese vs. American Version

 Shall We Dance? Was originally a japanese movie created in Japanese. It is a film about a Japanese man, unhappy with his mundane existence is drawn to a dance school by a beautiful woman he sees every day from the train looking forlornly out her window. He was drawn to dance by this beautiful woman, but eventually falls in love with dancing. His wife is afraid that he is having an affair since he stays out late and seems to be more happy, so she hires a detective to find out what he is up to. To be a dancer, especially a male dancer was not something looked well upon in Japanese culture. It was more of an embarrassment and something you keep a secret. He joins a ballroom dance class along with two other beginners and the fun begins. Eventually his dancing develops and he is entered into a composition where his wife and daughter surprisingly show up to. Eventually his secret is out and his beautiful instructor regains her love of dancing to compete once again in the Blackpool competition. It is story full of love, laughter and dance. Truly a delight to watch. 

 The American version starring Richard Gere, Susan Sarandon and Jennifer Lopez came later. It follows the same basic plot with a bit of a modern American twist. The differences between the two versions are not many, but they do make them different. I have seen both of these films before, first the Japanese version then the American version. I like the Japanese version for its peek into Japanese culture, but I still favor the American version. The two main reasons why I favor the American version is because I can watch it without having to read subtitles, unlike the Japanese version which is in Japanese. The second reason because I like the ending better in the American version. The ending is more developed and romantic. It makes me happy to see him reunite with his wife and dance with her. Both films are wonderful and the different characters are well-developed.

November 8, 2010. Movie Reflections. Leave a comment.

Curtains @ The Avo

I had the privilege of attending The Musical Comedy Whodunit Curtains at the Avo Playhouse in Vista on Halloween. I have never attended anything like it before. I have always loved mysteries and someday hope to have the opportunity to attend a mystery dinner theatre. This was the closest I have come so far. It was funny, entertaining and kept you guessing the whole time as to who was the murderer.

This comedy is set inside a theatre where the leading lady in the up and coming broadway musical flop Robin Hood is murdered after giving a horrible performance. She faints after giving her final bow and it is discovered that she was murdered by poison. The police send in Lt. Cioffi to investigate and discover who murdered the leading lady. The entire cast, crew and producers are all possible suspects and nobody is confessing up to the crime, so Lt. Cioffi places them all under “theatre” arrest until the case is resolved.  Lt. Cioffi has his favorite actress that he takes into his confidence and is determined to solve the crime. Everyone has their suspicions, but things heat up when the producer is found hung backstage. Now there are two murders and no murderer to be found. Everyone is fearing for their life and suspicion of some individuals is increasing. Lt. Cioffi uncovers a secret and starts questioning certain members of the cast as to why they are a part of the production. In the end the mystery is solved and Robin Hood becomes the hit Broadway musical that it was intended to be. As a courtesy to others I will not reveal the murderer. If you want to know who did it, go see curtains.

Not only was it a funny and entertaining show, but the acting was phenomenal. The main character Georgia, who took over the murdered leading ladies role in Robin Hood had an amazing voice. It was thrilling to watch her sing. The cast as a whole did a great job singing and portraying their characters. Overall it was a delightful afternoon full of laughter and mystery. I was totally surprised at the end when the murderer was revealed. I had my suspicions, but like any good mystery goes it wasn’t anyone I suspected.

November 4, 2010. Art Events. Leave a comment.

Beauty & The Beast on Broadway San Diego

 I had the privilege of attending Disney’s Beauty and the Beast downtown on Broadway San Diego at the Civic Theatre this past Tuesday night. I have been to several musicals during my lifetime and many of them at the Civic Theatre, but nothing I have seen can compare to this performance. It was by far the most amazing, beautiful and breathtaking performance I have ever seen. I would highly recommend this to anyone looking for a sensational time. It is appropriate for audiences of all ages. Beauty and the Beast is one of my favorite Disney movies, but that was not why I loved the performance so much. The characters were well casted, the costumes creative and exquisite, and the setting was creative and breathtaking. It was very apparent that a lot of talent and creative genius went into creating this musical.

In regards to the characters and their costumes I would have to say that my favorite costumes were those created for the enchanted furnishings in the Beast’s castle. That would included Lumiere the candelabra, Cogsworth the mantle clock, Babette the duster, and especially Madame de la Grande Bouche the dresser who even pulled outfits out of her drawers. The rest of the costumes were fabulous including Gaston, the Beast and Belle’s many dresses, especially the yellow one she wore to dinner with the Beast.

Each of the actors played their characters perfectly. I had the most fun watching Gaston carry on about how wonderful he is while Lafou followed him around doing his bidding. Each characters personalities came alive and brought a lot of excitement and humor to the show. In regards to the setting, I loved the beautiful stage floor that was intricately painted with blue and gold vines. The set that framed the stage was painted to match the same pattern as the floor and before the show started and during intermission there was this beautiful glowing rose that could be seen through a line dark scrim. The scrim was used on many occasions to create a certain effect. It was used during the two scenes when the wolves attacked, so that we could see what was going on, but with fewer details.

My favorite scene of the whole performance was the Be Our Guest musical number. They did a phenomenal job recreating this classic celebration piece from the timeless movie. They had dancing spoons, dancing plates, a whole entourage of enchanted objects and even confetti streamers that shot out over the audience. It truly was a celebration and you could feel the excitement in the room. There wasn’t a thing that I didn’t like or that disappointed me, instead my expectations were exceeded on every level. If you haven’t seen this show, you should go and see it. I guarantee that you will not be disappointed.

October 29, 2010. Art Events. 1 comment.

Billy Elliot

Billy Elliot was a very delightful movie. I love movies about individuals that rise above insurmountable odds to achieve their dreams. Such tales are very inspiring and touch you emotionally. I found myself right there in the film with Billy rooting for him to continue dancing even though his father forbade it. I admired Billy for his courage to dance ballet since it was not something that a lot of boys did. he was really good at it though and I enjoyed watching him dance. I felt sorry for his father because you can tell that he only wanted what was best for his son and could not understand why he wanted to dance so much. I was not sure how his father would react when he finally saw Billy dance, but I was ecstatic when to the realization that he needed to let him dance. I was touched when his father was actually willing to cross the picket line and risk his reputation with his fellow miners. It was hard to watch as he went from a persecutor of scabs to a scab himself. I was glad that his older son rescued him from making this mistake in his haste to give Billy the chance to dance. Mr. Elliot went from being Billy’s biggest obstacle to becoming a dancer to Billy’s biggest advocate and source of encouragement. I was happy with the ending and would recommend this movie to others to watch.

October 29, 2010. Movie Reflections. Leave a comment.

Viva La Revolucion: A Dialogue with the Urban Landscape

  Today I visited the Museum of Contemporary Art in downtown San Diego with my classmate Rocio Hernandez. We began our journey inside the Jacobs building which featured the indoor portion of the exhibit Viva La Revolucion: A Dialogue with the Urban Landscape. As soon as we entered I knew this would be a very interesting exhibit because we heard music coming from one of the rooms and saw this big massive display right in the front. This big massive sculptured piece of artwork (pictured below) was made of cardboard boxes, sand and blackened loaves of bread. There was a lot of writing covering the cardboard boxes, but since it was in spanish and wrapped around the boxes Rocio and I could not read what it said.

Next we followed the sound of music coming from the next room to discover the most bizarre, yet cool thing I have ever seen, a singing trash can. The trash can wasn’t actually singing, but it was creating a beat as the pieces of trash moved inside the can. I have never seen anything like it in my life. I thought to myself, this is an excellent use for people’s discarded trash. I think that this was among my favorite pieces featured in the exhibit just because the idea behind it was so fresh and original.

The next room that we entered featured a couple of vehicles, my favorite being the one created entirely out of old boom boxes and cassette tape players. The artist who designed this had quite an imagination. I particularly was partial to the purple upholstery, my favorite color. The  other vehicle reminded me of an old-fashioned horse buggy without the horses. It wasn’t made out of unique parts like the other one, so I didn’t like it as much.

The room that contained these vehicles also had some amazing paintings on the wall. I call them amazing because they were so colorful and pleasing to look at. There were three of these pieces that looked like the artist had just painted layer over layer of color and designs using stencils. There were three different pieces, the first of these being a large square canvas that was totally covered in this unique burst of colors and design. At first glance it is easy to see the explosion of colors, but you have to look closer at the piece to notice that the colors are a collage of different shapes stenciled on top of each other. The next piece in this collection was also square, but had a design in the middle that was framed by swirls of colors. It almost looks like a fire rising up in the middle. What I liked most about this particular piece was the swirling colors that framed it, this feature made it unique from the other two pieces featured in the room. The final piece in this collection was a circular canvas similar to the other two but smaller. This particular piece contained the most variety of interesting shapes, which included everything from skulls, to seahorses, to spirals, etc. Needless to say the harder and closer you examined this piece the more shapes you began to untangle from the jungle of color and shapes. I would have liked to watch these paintings being created, because I am still unsure of how the artist was able to accomplish these breathtaking works of art. I am pretty sure that the artist must have used stencils of some kind to get such a variety of precise shapes.

Next we moved on to the final room inside the museum which feature several different pieces. I thought the person in the shape of a an upside down musical instruments was quite creative and unique. My favorite piece in this room was a face etched out of a brick wall. I liked this one because I could tell that a lot of work went into creating it and it looked so realistic. I love portraits because that is what I like to paint and I think that they speak volumes to the viewers. I know how hard it is to paint a portrait let alone carve one out of a brick wall. This artist has got talent.

There were many more pieces featured in the indoor exhibit, but there is not enough space or time to feature them all here. The rest of the exhibit was featured outside on the walls of the city. I do have to say that the outside pieces were hard to find and not easily accessible unless you wanted to walk around downtown for at least 90 minutes. The museum curators informed us that a few of the outside exhibits were right down the street so we decided to walk and visit those pieces. The two pieces that we visited on foot are featured below. We also drove by three other pieces in the city on our way home. We saw Barry Mcgee’s graffiti words, Os Gemeos people stacked on top of each other and an ape wearing underwear. I would have to say that I did not care much for the outside exhibit and some parts of the museum collection. Much of it was to weird and gruesome for my taste. I did enjoy many of the creative inside exhibits and am glad that I had the opportunity to visit the exhibit.

October 17, 2010. Art Events. Leave a comment.

Maya Lin, A Strong Clear Vision

Previous to watching this documentary I had never heard of Maya Lin or her work designing memorials. I had also never seen any of the memorials she had designed that were present in the film. I think that Maya Lin is a very creative, dedicated and strong individual. She stood up to opposition and persevered against all odds to create the Vietnam Memorial. It saddens me to think that some individuals were against her design even after it had been chosen just because she was a woman and of Asian descent. Neither of these in my opinion were good reasons to oppose the selection of her design. I am glad that in the end her design was chosen and that she was honored by many Vietnam veterans for her work in creating a memorial that truly cut right to the heart and allowed people to reflect and grieve. All of her pieces in the film were simplistic yet spoke volumes to viewers. She had a way of getting past all the frills to the heart of a memorials purpose.

My favorite memorial presented in this film that she created was the Civil Rights Memorial. I love her use of Martin Luther Kings’ quote, water, a circle and a chronological listing of important events from the civil rights movement. It touched my heart deeply to see all the people gathered around the memorial in a circle, touching the events forever etched in time, creating ripples in the water as they remembered loved ones and their history. Maya Lin is a remarkable artist and architect all in one and as a fellow artist myself I admire her work and dedication.

October 16, 2010. Movie Reflections, Uncategorized. 1 comment.

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