Monday, February 22, 2010

A Lesson on Chew

Good afternoon, class. Today I'm going to go over the guidelines for using chewing tobacco in a public place. Clearly, NOT using chewing tobacco in a public place is preferable, but sometimes needs must be met, so please take note of the proper way.

1 - find a containment device (henceforth known as a "spitter") with a lid. Your best option is a plastic bottle with a lid - juice bottle, soda bottle, water bottle, as long as it has a lid, you can use it! If you are not able to procure a bottle with a lid, obtain an empty cup with a lid. You can generally find both beverage bottles and cups at your concession stand.
(I've heard that, if you're using a cup, you should put some napkins in the cup. As I suggest that you use the plastic bottle option, I won't focus on the napkin aspect.)
NOTE: a wide-mouth cup without a lid, such as a popcorn tub, is not an acceptable spitter. Please, ask your concessionaire for an empty cup with a lid. Which leads to...

2 - USE YOUR SPITTER! Don't spit on the floor! Even if you are at an outdoor concert, rules of propriety state that you spit into your spitter.

3 - when you are done with your spitter, replace the lid or cap (see? just a friendly reminder about the plastic bottle!) and throw your spitter away. This part is crucial. Those that must pick up trash are appreciative that you replaced the cap, but really, they would prefer to not pick up your use spitter in the first place. If you are at an arena, coliseum, or stadium, where 90% of the crowd leaves their trash behind, then at least replace the cap. However, if you are in a fully restored historic art house cinema and yet still feel the need to chew, throw your own trash away.

Next week's lesson: how to flush a toilet in a public restroom!

filthy patrons - D-

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Sundance - Part 2

I left off a little bit of day one that's integral to the story of day two, so here goes: while I was sitting in Life 2.0, waiting for the film to start, I heard this woman behind me say "I guess I'll just go down to the shows a little early and try to sell these tickets at the door." You know me, gregarious 'n' shit, so I turned around and said "What are you selling?" She had three tickets to unload to three different programs, since she had also purchased a series package and already had all the tickets she needed to everything she wanted to see (must be nice). The first two were for screenings taking place after I'd be back at home - but the third was for Philip Seymour Hoffman's directorial debut, PREMIERING the very next night! "I'LL TAKE IT!" That's the beauty of Sundance - everything ticket is $15, and they like you to pay cash, so I handed over my money and presto, I was going to PHS's film on Saturday night. Good times!

Even though I had my industry pass on Saturday, I used tickets that one of my colleagues purchased for me to attend the documentary shorts program. I was SUPER GEEKED about the doc shorts for one reason: DRUNK HISTORY. If you're not familiar with Drunk History, click this link: this is my most favorite episode of Drunk History, for me, the one that started at all. And from a filmmaking standpoint, it takes the meaning of "documentary" and twists it a little. Oh it's a documentary, all right, but a real fucked-up one. So in the doc shorts program, there was a NEW episode of Drunk History: Tesla & Edison! With Crispin Glover as Thomas Edison and John C. Reilly as Nikola Tesla! It was hysterical, and those five minutes were probably the highlight of my trip...
Next to seeing THIS guy! Alan Tudyk played Wash on Firefly. Yes, Wash, the character for whom I named my dog. For me, seeing Alan on the street (I was on the bus, no, I didn't speak to him) was better than seeing Robert Redford.
Anyway, back to the doc shorts. There were seven films, ranging from 5 minutes to 28 minutes, and they were all pretty good. I loved Drunk History, of course, and I loved Born Sweet and Wagah, too - expecting to see them nominated for Oscars one of these days.

After the docs, it was back to the industry screening theater for Teenage Paparazzo. This film had gotten some buzz - here's a little description from the Sundance website:
"When precocious 13-year-old paparazzo Austin Visschedyk snapped a photo of celebrity Adrian Grenier (HBO's Entourage), little did he know his life was about to change. Turning the tables on the juvenile paparazzo, Grenier stepped on the other side of the lens in an attempt to mentor a teenager obsessed with the lure of the Hollywood lifestyle. Grenier develops a meaningful relationship with his camera-clicking young friend as he attempts to reconcile their mutual exploitation. Indeed, Grenier puts himself on the line here, trying to make sense of his own recently acquired fame."
By all means, if you're into celebrity culture OR documentaries, you should check this out when it comes to your local theater. It was simultaneously off-putting and compelling - I was definitely one of those people saying "I would NEVER let my kid do that."
OK, then I saw Armless, which I don't need to talk too much about because it wasn't awesome. It's a narrative film (not a documentary) about a guy who has body image dysmorphic disorder, who feels that he will be perfect if he could only cut off his arms - hence the title. Janel Moloney from The West Wing was in it, and she was great, but I didn't love this movie. And you'll probably never see it anywhere, so don't even worry about it.

AND THEN, I saw Jack Goes Boating, Philip Seymour Hoffman's directorial debut. In the audience that night: Adrien Brody and Tom Arnold! Not together (but wouldn't it be sweet if they were friends?). Here's the Sundance description for this one:
"Jack Goes Boating is a tale of love, betrayal, and friendship set against the backdrop of working-class New York City life. Jack and Connie are two single people who on their own might continue to recede into the anonymous background of the city, but in each other begin to find the courage and desire to pursue their budding relationship. In contrast, the couple who brought them together, Clyde and Lucy, are confronting the unresolved issues in their rocky marriage. The multifaceted Philip Seymour Hoffman makes his directorial debut demonstrating an assured style and grace, both behind the camera and in front of it. He leads a skilled cast, who waltz through their group scenes in perfect counterpoint, each getting what he or she needs from the other. The writing is fiercely authentic as are the performances. Lyrical and lovely, Jack Goes Boating is an offbeat love story that almost forgets to happen."
My take? PSH is an incredible actor, so I wanted him to be an incredible director and this to be an incredible film. And it was really good - but it wasn't incredible. And the whole was less than the sum of its parts. The acting was outstanding, the cinematography was superb, the story was great, the script was great, basically, everything taken individually was great. But as a whole, it was just really good. And that was the most disappointing thing about the film - it didn't meet my expectations. Maybe that's the big lesson to take away from Sundance: have no expectations. I loved the first movie that I saw, and I barely knew what it was about. JGB was good, and for all you movie fans, you should add this to your "to watch" lists.

Overall, attending the Sundance Film Festival was really cool, and certainly made even cooler by the fact that it was a work trip - can you say per diem?

Sundance day two - B+
Sundance overall - A-

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Sundance - Part 1

OK, OK. I know some of you want to know what Sundance was like. I wrote about one film, but then I lost steam. So now, the official NaiveHelga Sundance recap!

Day 1 - got into Park City about 5 PM, after three 1/2 days at a conference about 45 minutes away. (note: I never saw the Salt Lake Temple, which was kind of a bummer) If you haven't been to Utah, I highly recommend it. It is really beautiful. Lots of mountains, lots of snow, horses grazing in pastures, that sort of thing. As soon as we dropped our bags off at the condo (thank you, Nice Board Member Lady, for letting us stay for free - more about NBML in a little bit), we headed for the main box office so I could buy some tickets.

OK, I can see that I need to back up. Here's the scoop: I went to Sundance for work, and three of my colleagues plus NBML had industry passes, which has its own merits and drawbacks. The way I see it, the merit is you're basically guaranteed a seat at any industry screening you choose to attend. They're held in smallish (250 seats) theaters, all in the same building, so even if you do get shut out of one, there's another screening starting in no more than a half-hour. The drawback is no celebrities, and no Q&As. But if you're there to see movies, then no Q&A isn't so bad - you can certainly see more movies in a day if you don't have to listen to the director or produce talk about his vision. I digress. When I arrived, I didn't have an industry pass, so I embraced that and just decided to take whatever was offered to me: if I could get in, I was going.

And that's how I wound up at Bran Nue Dae, the best Australian indigenous musical I've ever seen! When I arrived at the box office, they only had tickets for this, so I bought two, gave one to one of my art house buddies, and said I'd see her at 8:30 AM the next day. And am I ever lucky I got tickets to Bran Nue Dae. I LOVED it! It was campy, it was predictable, it was sunny and colorful and happy and I loved every single second of it. How can you go wrong with a song including the lyrics "There's nothing I would rather be, than an Aborigine, and to watch you take my sacred land away!?" For realz, if you get a chance to see this, whether at your local fancy movie theater or via Netflix (fingers crossed), take it. You probably won't love it as much as I did, but you'll love it.

When Bran Nue Dae was over, I hopped on the bus (free ALL YEAR ROUND!) and headed back to the box office, where I picked up tickets for Life 2.0, probably one of the weirdest movies I've ever seen. Life 2.0 is a documentary about Second Life, an online virtual world that allows users to interact with each other through avatars, which are sort of like... replicas of the real people? Only, some people have avatars that look like them and some people have avatars that look like they want to look? And you can buy stuff and sell stuff for real money, and build things, and on one level it's all about computer programming but on another level it's about building relationships with people you'll maybe never meet who become your best friends... and that's enough. It was weird, y'all. The movie itself was fine, but the subject matter was really disconcerting. In fact, I don't even really want to talk about it. Just take my word for it, it's bizarre and made me feel really uncomfortable.

So then, I met up with my boss and my art house cronies and... got an industry pass! Probably not totally ethical, but hey, NBML was only there for a half-day, so I took her pass for the rest of the evening. I saw His & Hers, an Irish documentary "which chronicles a ninety-year-old love story, through the collective voice of seventy ladies" thank you, IMDb). H&H stars with this Irish proverb: "A man loves his wife the most, his girlfriend the best, but his mother the longest," and features about 88 minutes of 90-second clips of girls and women talking about their fathers, boyfriends, husbands and sons. It was nice, and I'm sure it will do well at my theater, but I had enough after about twenty minutes. Snooze.

And then I saw Hesher. You all know what I thought of that.

And that was just the first day! I saw four more screenings after that! I'll tell you about those tomorrow.

Sundance, part 1 - A-

Monday, February 15, 2010

In It To Win It

Hi readers. I've hit a wall.

I don't really have anything to blog about. I'm still reading books, watching TV and movies, playing with my puppy, going to work, and trying to find a little time to see my man in between. But there's no SPARK to anything I'm doing. It's all day-to-day stuff. Not that there's anything wrong with that. It's real life. But where does that leave this little corner of the blogosphere? I'm not planning a wedding, I'm not having a baby, I'm not embarking on a quest to read an insane amount in a set period of time. I have nothing to write about.

And that's where you come in. I am SERIOUSLY taking requests. Want me to watch a show and write about it? OK! Want me to test a product or a recipe or a restaurant and give you the lowdown? Sold. I'm not done writing, I just need inspiration. So help me.

a new beginning - I, but with a chance to upgrade