Archives for the month of: June, 2014

So day four was up late- ish, 730am! I’m loving sleeping in!

I do some yoga, it hurts! I’m out of yoga shape! And hang out a bit where I’m staying. Have an interesting conversation with my host about the state of Toronto politics. Manage not to offend her too badly, I hope.

My friend and I meet up before noon and get ourselves over to a pub that is playing that game. They are neutral so all are welcome. We get prime seats, me do I have an excellent view of the large screen and he doesn’t. The barkeep is friendly and finds me a couple of beers that I’m ok with. I get half pints, my friend does full.

Have a blast watching the game, the crowd is enthusiastic but not rowdy and I explain badly, some of the rules. Nicely done.

After. We meander down the street and stop in at a couple of store, for me, it is all about the Fluevog store and then we check out the comic store.

Do some aimless wandering and see the place my friend works and I recognize some of the people I was at the party with the other night. Everyone is friendly and working hard.

There is a time limit for me tonight, so part ways after me getting nervous about getting to my destination safely.

I get there. An hour early. I find a snack at a little Greek bakery yum yum and sit around until the doors open.

Vancouver ukulele circle! Everyone is super friendly and amazed that I’m visiting from Toronto. I decline the offer to do open mike and we play and play and play.

Very different than my uke jam. Almost 100 people show up and everyone just flips through the books and everyone plays and plays and plays.

Have a worse time getting back to where I’m staying. Manage to get turned around and when I ask the bus driver he explains where I want to be. I cross the street and then check for directions. Get on the bus and hope for the best.

Lucky me, I get off the bus in the same neighbourhood where the pub from earlier was so I’m recognizing things on my walk home.

Feel myself unwinding and relaxing. Loving vacation!

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I can always tell when I’m on vacation – I’m doing a pile of things that I want to tell people about and write about and I always seem to get behind!

So yesterday was up late, about what 930am or so and met up with my friend soon after. He had a place in mind for breakfast that reminds him of a favourite stomping ground from when we lived in the same city. We took transit and the ride was smooth and easy, this place is really attractive and I’m liking it a lot. On our walk from transit to the place we noticed people seemed to be setting up for some kind of street party or festival. We found the place, decided on food and got our stuff. For me it was second breakfast so I had something heavier, you never know when you are on vacation when you will need some extra fat and calories, right?

Very tasty, very fun place, the music was various and it was fun keeping tracking of the songs that were playing. Then we decided to take a walk about and see what was going on. Soon after we started our walk, the sky opened up and it was a downpour! Lucky me, I wore my jacket with a hood so I pulled my hood on and kept walking. Unfortunately,my friend was wearing a hoodie, in spite of living here for four years! So he got kinda wet. Most others took off inside.

We had a very nice conversation with a group who teaches sword fighting and got a chance to pick up some of the swords they had on display. Cool.

We stopped in at place and sampled some local beer and watched a bit of the game.

Then it was out into the world again!

We were a bit soggy, him more than me, and we were debating what he should get his friends who were having us over for a housewarming party. After finding out a abut about them, I suggested an edible plant, like basil. (I used basil as an example, becuz I love basil and from what I have heard it is hard to grow from seeds?) (I’m not spending a lot of time reading about basil or anything…)

We stopped in at a whiskey bar and I found my favourite whiskey, Smokehead. I was very happy about it and I swear I wouldn’t shut up telling the wait staff about how thrilled I was. I don’t know if there is such thing as a whiskey geek, but perhaps I would almost qualify.

Then we walked some more and found another tent set up and they were seeking plant. Among the plants my friend found Thai Basil. He picked up the small potted plant and we went inside to pay. There we discovered a whole care that was serving raw, vegan and organic food. And they had key lime pie! We sat down and had a drink, juice for him, chai latte made with almond milk for me, and key lime pie. Yum yum!

The it was back into the downtown for a quick bite – found a cute sushi place that had shrimp gyoza! – and then the transit ride out to his friends’ place. Moment of anxiety when we got lost right outside of the place and one of the hosts had to come and find us, but it all turned out in the end.

What to say. The people at the party were lovely and funny and I had a tray time. The place where they live, Burnaby, was beautiful and I had fun on the balcony looking around at the views. I have to say that listening to one of the hosts talk and being there that that is somewhere that I would consider living.

Later night than I expected and my friend must have partied a bit too hard as we were off the bus some after we got on so he could throw up on the sidewalk. Poor guy!

We make it back to downtown Vancouver and he walks me home, I give him strict instructions to let me know when he is home, to drink some water and take a pain killer and text me no earlier than 1pm. (It was way way later than I had planned for! I must have gotten back at almost 1am!)

So!

This morning I slept in until almost 10am! What a feeling of slothfulness! I’m so lazy! I chat with my host but decline the offer to do the seawall. I’m not sure what time my friend is going to contact me and I’m taking things slow this morning.

Eat a large breakfast – 2 eggs and 2 slices of toast! – watch a bit of the game and then wash up, dishes first and then me. Dry off and the. It is time to bring out uke and enjoy a bit of quiet and fill it with some music.

It is coming along. If only my voice weren’t so awful right now! It is really sad. But, still, I’m having fun.

My friend wake up and gets in contact, it is a beautiful day so a bit of back and forth, mostly me saying “are you sure you are alright enough for a lot of walking?” And him assuring me that yes, he is fine we met up and get out into the world.

Today, I’m all about seeing the traditional Japanese garden out on the UBC campus. Wow. We got so lost. Many, many times. It seemed like every time we tried to get somewhere we ended up lost! Even the person who worked at the botanical garden, which is affiliated with the Japanese garden couldn’t really help us get there. Finally, some guy in a truck heard us talking to a woman who couldn’t help us and explained where to go. Then we got lost again.

Finally, finally we found it and. Wow. It was amazing. So beautiful and peaceful and calm. I played photographer and we meandered around. It was worth the adventure it took to get there.

W meandered back to transit and decided that dinner would be Indian food – oh yum! My friend took me to one of his favourite places that he orders from a lot. Strangely it was the first time he ate there. It was great!

I indulged in both a mango lassi and dessert! Yum yum!

After we are done I ask my friend if we are good to leave it there. I’m wiped out. So much fresh air, so much relaxing! It makes a person tired!

So we leave it there for the day and start making plans for tomorrow. And yes, I’m attending the Vancouver ukulele circle tomorrow night, so have to be rested up,

Great times.

Lucky me! I’m on vacation in Vancouver!

So, first, why Vancouver? Out of all the places in the world that I could go, that I want to go, why would I decided to go to Vancouver?

Well, very simply, I was invited.

And you know, when someone values my company high enough to issue and invite and it is within my power and circumstance, I will do my best to get there. And yes, there have been many, many time that I have not visited people when they invite me somewhere – reasons not to range from I’m ill to I don’t have the money to I don’t have the vacation time or the timing is bad to it just isn’t working for me. But mostly, I do my best to visit and spend time with people who invite me.

As it happens this time round the friend that suggested I visit happens to be in Vancouver. So Vancouver it is!

And you know I love Vancouver. One of my most favourite memories is landing in Vancouver and meeting a friend here when I came home from South Korea – most of it was her, but a little of it was Vancouver and this amazing place that she chose to call home and that she shared it with me.

So , yes, Vancouver. Different friend this time round and much longer than 12 hours as well.

So up early yesterday (4am!) and got a drive from dad (thanks dad!), plane was on time and I snoozed a bit, unusual for me I know, but the flight was smooth my seat mates well behaved and my friend was right there at the luggage pickup waiting for me! So, over to his place, drop luggage, say hello to roommate, epic walk about, find the place for lunch, realize how early we are, find somewhere to use the loo and have a beverage, then back to the place for lunch.

Yum yum! We have Thai fusion and it is amazing, we get caught up, a bit, share stories over super tasty food. Films, food, friends, the conversation meanders in ways that conversation will with good friends.

Find out way back to his place, where roomie suggests one of the films we’ve just been talking about! Decide to see it, roomie books it and then it is time for me to find where I’m staying for the week.

Wow! The place is lovely and my host is lovelier still. We hit is off just as much in person as we did on email. It is quick wash up and unpack for me, then it is time to see the movie with the guys. We are both so tired that we call it a night – we were both up super early – and forgo the night market, maybe another time?

I write my review, unpack seriously and check emails etc. and then snuggle into the bed.

So tired that I sleep well with only brief moments of wakefulness when I hear sirens.

A very good night to be be up at normal time and dray to start the day!

What adventures will today bring?

“Edge of Tomorrow” is directed by Bill Liman, screenplay by Christopher McQuarrie, Jez Butterworth and John-Henry Butterworth, based on the novel “All You Need is Kill” by Hiroshi Sakurazaka.

When I first saw the trailer for this movie, I turned to my friend and said “Pass”. I justified it later by saying “I don’t like Tom Cruise”. He insisted and I informed he would seeing it without me.

Then I read a fabulous interview and in it was outlined why it was such and good movie and why, exactly, we should go and see it. I’d link to it but it was in the paper and for the life of me I can’t remember who wrote it or which paper, sorry! But I can tell you the reasoning was something like this “a lot of studios are doing a lot of sci-fi, superhero, re-boots, monster and movies for nerds and geeks…these movies are mostly things you already know – they are sequels and adaptations of existing, established franchises. For example, Avengers, X-Men, Spider-Man, Godzilla, Fantastic Four, Star Trek, Star Wars etc etc. Edge of Tomorrow is based on a novel most people haven’t read and don’t know. This film can be considered originally sci-fi and Tom Cruise is the only one who is doing, sure he did that horrendous sci-fi a couple of years ago, but he is still supporting new sci-fi and we should support him doing it of we want to show studios that we want new sci-fi as well as established stories. And he is one of very few actors who could do it – he has the power and influence and money to get these films made.”

And you know, good point.

So I decided to see it.

Wow! You should see it too!

It was very well done. By now you’ve it called “ground hog day meets sci-fi” and although there is much thematically about re – living the same day over and over again, this time the stakes aren’t about love, they are all about saving the world from alien invaders.

And what invaders they are! Scary, surprising and there were a few times I jumped out of my seat. I saw this movie in 3d which made me a little tense and I would suggest seeing in 2d instead – those aliens really frightened me!

Tom Cruise was great and Emily Blunt was a far cry from charming, but, as usual, riveting to watch – they make a great team.

I think the thing I liked best about this movie was that it never lets up – not for a moment and stays true to the premise right to the final line of dialogue and to the final shot. I applaud the film makers and actors for their commitment.

Even though I would never call myself a Tom Cruise fan, I admit that he puts on an impressive performance, he plays it straight and commits fully to the premise, bravo. Emily Blunt is amazing as a solider and I absolutely believed her performance, nicely done. The rest of the cast is note perfect and creates a believable world on the edge of total destruction.

If you are someone who loves sci-fi, see this film. Even if you aren’t a sci-fi lover and you did love “Groundhog Day” see this movie and I promise you will never think of that movie in quite the same way.

Bravo!

I keep forgetting that I saw this film. Which probably tells you a lot about what I thought about this film…

“Belle” is directed by Amma Asante, written by Misan Sagay.

Hmm. You know I just checked out the description of this film on IMDb and it begins “BELLE is inspired by the true story of Dido Elizabeth Belle (Gugu Mabatha-Raw), the illegitimate mixed race daughter of a Royal Navy Admiral.” and then goes to explain that she is raised by her great-uncle who is Lord Chief Justice and talks about how her skin colour prevents her from fully participating in all the traditions of her social standing.

Interesting, because the film is very clear that although she is the child of slave and nobleman, the nobleman recognizes her fully as his child, sees her raised by his family and ensures that she is financially able to do what she wishes, be it marry or be independent. She is only illegitimate in so far as her parents weren’t married, she isn’t hidden or a shame. Actually there is a scene in the film where she explains this clearly to her cousin. So…

Ok!

This should be an amazing film – it is a period piece, it has wonderful costumes, beautiful scenery and a stellar cast.

Unfortunately, it isn’t an amazing film. Actually it is kind of boring.

The character of “Belle” is played by Gugu Mbatha-Raw and she is incredible beautiful, she is wonderful to watch on-screen, but…well, she does a lot of “eye-ball acting”. Her eyes get very wide and she stares. Every time something remotely interesting or dramatic happens her eyes get wide and she stares. It got boring really fast.

I don’t really understand that either – was this style of acting supposed to show her restraint or is that how she acts? I’m going to guess that this is solely down to directing…this woman was “Tish Jones” on Dr. Who, so she must have serious chops.

This film is solely concerned with racism and the abolition of slavery, but, strangely, these issues were actually better dealt with in “X-Men: Days of Future Past”. And I like historical movies!

I found it slowly paced, the characters either boring or dis-likeable. Don’t bother with this one, there are better films out there.

(I’m late on this too…sorry!)

“X-Men: Days of Future Past” is directed by Bryan Singer, screenplay by Simon Kinberg, story by Jane Goldman, Simon Kinberg and Matthew Vaughn (adapted from a story by Chris Claremont and ???).

Finally the X-Men movie that I have waited for – the movie that is dark, moody and just rather…not nice. It isn’t pretty, the characters aren’t happy, they don’t always get along and they struggle with survival.

Disclaimers:

1.            I followed the X-Men in the 80s and very early 90s, so my tastes for the X-Men reside firmly with Chris Claremont’s story arcs and super-powered mutants as an extended metaphor for racism. These characters struggle with being different and living lives that are vary extremely from the norm. They are subjects of violence, hatred and being outsiders and outcasts – even though they repeatedly save the world and humanity for various threats.

2.            I hated X2, the third X-Men movies and the one Wolverine movie I was forced to see – I hated what was done to the characters and still can’t figure out what happened to Nightcrawler and why the writers and directors seem to hate him so much. What is going on here? Is it a budget thing? Too many all blue people running about (Beast and Mystique are fine, but one more is totally out of the question?!) He just disappeared and we don’t know what happened to him!

Ok, so this movie.

It was dark, it was moody, it had time-travel and a twinned cast and…well, it was really well done. In this film, the sins of X2, the third X-Men and the Wolverine movies were finally FINALLY! Put to rights. The way in which the time travel takes place was a little far-fetched – umm, according to film continuity the character that makes the consciousness-only time travel work can’t exist because her parents were killed – but they did an ok job of it. A little too much Wolverine, it has been proven that this character can’t carry movies on his own so why make him such a pivotal role? But nothing that I couldn’t get past. There are characters that interest me more, but I do like Wolverine, although that may be me just being a patriotic Canadian?

I loved that this film was challenging, it was unflinchingly in facing uncomfortable truths about racism. Although I have to say, that I would have not been bothered by a heavier approach. There were no great speeches or incredible actions and the confrontations were mostly physical and not intellectual. One of my favourite things about the specific arcs in the 80s and early 90s was that there were some pretty deep thoughts to go along with the violence – deaths and injuries were usually counter measured by introspection, sharing lessons, which was mostly lacking in this film.

A word about casting – I don’t have strong feelings about Jennifer Lawrence, but I think she is all wrong for Mystique. I find Jennifer Lawrence charming and charismatic and she is fascinating to watch. I’m just not afraid of her, I don’t get the sense she is dangerous, even when she is kicking someone’s a$$ and being all blue with weird eyes, all I can think is ‘Gee, she is so cute! I could watch her for hours!’ which I’m not sure is the right response to Mystique…

As you no doubt know by now, the must-see scene is with Quicksilver. It is the only scene in the movie that has any humour and lightness. This film is dark – visually and thematically – and this early on scene is the only place where there is any levity. I’m not going to complain it though, it would have been nice to have maybe one lighter scene near the end or as the end, but I understand that there were, no doubt, other considerations.

That said, I found the texture and pacing of the film very well done. I don’t know if I would have liked the film if I wasn’t familiar with the comics, but as someone who is, I liked it immensely.

I think Singer and his colleagues did a wonderful job rehabilitating the franchise and now I can’t wait until the next film!

Nicely done!

(haha, I’m really late posting this…sorry!)

“Godzilla” is directed by Gareth Edwards, screenplay by Max Borenstein and story by Dave Callaham.

The fact it has taken me so long to write this review shouldn’t be seen as disinterest in this movie or as any kind of indication that I didn’t enjoy it. I loved this movie, it is just my life seems to have gotten in the way a bit, so sorry about that…

So, “Godzilla”.

Ok, disclaimers:

1.            I love Godzilla. I’ve been waiting to see this movie from the moment I saw the trailer, I’m a huge fan of the original from 1952 and when I was a kid we (my brother and I) would often catch monster films on TV or our parents would take us down to the ROM where they did children’s programming on the week-ends. Back then, childrens’ programming was showing Japanese monster films on Saturday afternoons in the basement. If this was some sort of tie-in with the dinosaur exhibit I have no idea, but they were great films and it was a great time. This is also how I saw the brilliant NFB short “Bambi meets Godzilla”. Check it out, you will laugh for days. In my case, I’m laughing years and year later.

2.            I gave the 1998 version a pass. At the time I was living with my ex and I read so many horrid reviews that I decided if I wanted to continue to love Godzilla I would have to let it go and give it a pass. I have no regrets about that decision and am convinced that I did the right thing.

3.            I see a lot of movies. Sometimes I think maybe I think too many films. And even though I see so many films, I don’t always keep track of the actors. This sometimes results in very awkward moments. I had a few of these awkward moments during this movie – I honestly couldn’t figure out why John Lennon was suddenly in the US Army and what he had, specifically, against Godzilla. And where did his English accent go anyway? Freaked me out.

4.            I found it weird and hilarious that when we saw this movie there were people lined up to see it – Godzilla will forever remain as a strange movie that strange people love.

5.            We saw it in 2D. I’m done with 3D and I’m just finding films worth the extra “D”.

Ok. Wow. Great movie. Loads of fun, lots of destruction and Godzilla battling and destroying everything. I loved it.

Now the parts I didn’t love…

I could have done with more Bryan Cranston – he was the heart of the movie and the only human that was remotely interesting or sympathetic. I’m not exactly sure why the director and writers thought that the audience feelings would transfer neatly over to the character’s son or similarly minded scientist – they didn’t and there was no reason to assume that they would. Feelings are funny thing, they don’t just latch on to the nearest human. When his characters dies, the human interest dies and we are left with an unsympathetic John Lennon without an English accent to follow on his quest to…actually I’m not sure what he was trying to do, whatever it was it was far less interesting that what Godzilla was doing, that is for sure. Don’t kill off interesting characters before near the end of the film! If you want me to care about humans in giant monster films, which mostly I won’t, then don’t kill them when I’m just starting to like them! Bryan Cranston and Juliette Binoche were so underused it was almost criminal.

I had to wait 1 hour – ONE HOUR! – before the audience sees Godzilla in his entirety. I loved the glimpses and parts of Godzilla that you saw, but did they ever drag it out! When I want to see a movie about a giant monster fighting and wrecking buildings, I see Godzilla, when I want to see a movie about humans I see…something else.

Not enough Godzilla! I may be alone in this, but I could have done without the humans, the dialogue and any semblance of plot if there was more time spent seeing Godzilla smash things and battle those huge parasites.

But, all in all, a wonderful film. I enjoyed it immensely and if you like destruction and giant monsters, this is a movie for you. Just ignore the humans. And don’t ask why John Lennon is in the US Army, it will just confuse things.