Wednesday, March 28, 2007

While we're talking movies...

Mikaela says:
The other one Eric & I saw at the Dollars Movies (ahem) that I haven't been able to shake is Stranger than Fiction. Now I am not a Will Ferrell fan. Never have been, never will be (she says, feeling suddenly unsure of herself...).

But this movie gets you from the beginning. Like a good Charlie Kaufman flick (Eternal Sunshine, Being John Malkovich), this movie presents a seamless alternative reality that is so airtight, there's no escape. Unlike Michel Gondry, however, this director chooses to present the world straight up, something like Truman Show.

Charming, quirky, and philosophical in the vein of I Heart Huckabees (speaking of, has anybody watched the YouTube video of the director going ballistic and yelling at Lilly Tomlin? What an asshole!), this movie doesn't fall into the trap like many similar movies do of taking itself too seriously. There's just enough postmodern twist to keep us snooty intellectuals preoccupied, but in the meantime, the characters are real and communicate on an everyday level. So refreshing!

Add to that a shameless effusiveness about the beauty of urban places, a couple stellar performers by veterans Emma Thompson and Dustin Hoffman (oh, and throw in the hotter-than-baking-bread Maggie Gyllenhaal), and you've got yourself one satifying movie.

On a personal note, the film is shot in Chicago. The university scenes take place at my old stomping grounds at UIC (University of Illinois at Chicago, formerly known as "Circle campus"), and there's hilarious interchanges with a literature professor (Dustin Hoffman) who becomes the "expert" to help the main character out of his dilemma (reprising the role played by Robin Williams in Good Will Hunting, in some ways - whew! no movie reference left unturned). Oh boy! Theory in a popular flick? No....

Believe it. Will Ferrell is in a very smart movie. And it's good! What could be stranger than that?

Reign Over Me

Mikaela raves:
Eric & I saw this movie last week and loved it.

I admit I'm a sucker for a good male friendship story. This is a classic. Great things to say about love, relationships, survival, and the people who come into and out of your life at just the right time for magic reasons.

Beautiful acting. Gorgeous cinematography. Impeccable script.

Go, go, go!

(Believe it or not, this was a decision between the Adam Sandler movie and Chris Rock. We snuck in to see part of the Chris Rock movie -- I Think I Love My Wife -- afterward and promptly walked right back out. You couldn't get me to sit through that horror show, even for free. Awful, awful, awful. All the worst of men and women rolled up into one boring, un-funny, voiced-over mess. Ick. Ack. Awful. It was a testament to how good Reign Over Me was that we weren't left with a bad taste in our mouths.)

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Tired of Bad Virgo Horoscopes

Mikaela says:
While Senior Eric/Brian Francis (covering my bases there) does a good job finding interesting prognostications for Virgo, most horoscopes are deadeningly bad.

As I've said many times, Virgo is the straight man of the calendar. We're fussy, meticulous, exacting, perfectionistic, anal, serious, and endlessly hard-working.

Here's a typical daily horoscope:

Your ability to enjoy yourself today depends upon how you manage your schedule. It's rather unlikely that you'll impulsively go off to have a good time, as that would be out of character for you. But building playtime into your routine will help you feel less guilty about having fun, whether you're playing with children, participating in sports or just kicking back to relax for a while.

Now, if this were any other sign, it would say:
You're drawn to play and have fun today. Don't fight the urge! Be your playful, bad self! How can you not? Just remember to keep a balance with other responsibilities, and everything will work out just great. No worries.

Instead, here's a double admonishment, as though any Virgo needs reminding of our responsibilities. 1) Make sure you manage your schedule. 2) Make sure you remember "fun."

It's just such an insult any way you look at it. Can that really be true that Virgos have to pencil in playtime? Or pen it in, so that we don't erase it for work when our guilt overcomes us?

It's ridiculous. Even the straight guy gets a laugh every once in a while. More astrologers should remember the less-talked about but less-insulting sides of Virgos -- our intuition, our ability to communicate, our healing powers, our easy service of others. We've got huge reserves of wisdom that astrologers very rarely tap. It's annoying.

And that is all I have to say about that. Carry on!