Life As We Know It

Really, it’s a pretty ghastly title. “Life as we know it?” Give me a break. Sounds like some noon-time melodrama between Guiding Light and As the World Turns.

Now that I have that out of the way, I can get to my point.

It is being slammed by critics. It has a terrible rating on Rotten Tomatoes. I saw an early pre-screening, so I don’t know anyone who has watched/liked it yet. But I’ve suggested it to some people, and considering all it’s bad press, I feel like I should at least defend my recommendations.

Despite its faults, I actually really enjoyed this movie.

This comes as something of a shock because (I know, I know) I’m not the kindest critic of romantic comedies. But can you blame me? With films like When Harry Met Sally and You’ve Got Mail and Annie Hall and Say Anything and all those classics setting the bar high, it seems wrong to simply dismiss “RomCom” as a hopeless (but thriving) genre. It can be done right!

Well, Life As We Know It doesn’t exactly do everything right, but I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised.

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The Social Network

It’s hard to avoid disappointment when you go into a film with as much expectation as I had going into The Social Network. I was seriously scared that, despite Aaron Sorkin being a genius writer and David Fincher being a stunning director, I would come out of the movie thinking it fell short.

I should have known better. It is so much more than just a movie about Facebook.

Everything was executed so well. They turned a bunch of people sitting around a table discussing money and lawsuits into a story as engaging and interesting as any action movie. They somehow took a socially inept, nerdy guy sitting at a computer writing code and turned him into this arrogant, rebellious character that you couldn’t help but watch. That’s talent.

I bow deeply before the genius of Aaron Sorkin because I know this is his work. It made me miss West Wing. It was so reminiscent of West Wing. I mean, for seven solid seasons, the man made political life in the White House (not the exciting stuff that happens as a result of political decisions, but the creation and execution of political decisions themselves) something everyone wanted to watch and something that was very very worthy of watching.

He did the same here and I hope it gets all the recognition it deserves. But it was definitely more than just that one thing. I loved the promotional advertising for it. I adored the trailer(s). The casting, writing, directing– so good. Everything was done with such perfect subtlety that it really made me appreciate film as an art. That sounds like such a lofty, loaded statement, but I mean it! It showcased the actors’ talents, the ease and complexity of the writing, the power of visual images. It was just rich, solid storytelling and filmmaking.

I could say more, but I don’t want to undersell or overhype it. I’d rather just say it’s a MUST SEE and leave it at that.

*Side Note: Apparently, I am not the only one.

Do Your thing.

Second star to the right!

I am somewhat of a trickster when it comes to learning. I somehow manage to cling to the threads of my oddball childhood by passing them off as a part of higher education. Yesterday in COHI 123: Children & Media, we watched Sesame Street. A few weeks ago, we watched Disney’s Peter Pan, which despite its slight problems of racism, sexism, other-isms, will always be a classic in my book.

Before my stepfather went on a vindictive raid of my childhood memories and decided to sell nearly everything that has shaped who I am today, I had in my possession a massive collection of Disney movies. My sister and I would play and replay those VHS tapes until we had the dialogue memorized or until the cassette just broke from overuse. We popped them out of their sturdy plastic cases and listened patiently to the hum of the VCR as we waited for our movie of choice to rewind. And Peter Pan was always high up on the list.

Years later, I began to read J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan, a twinge of skepticism skipping around inside my head. Would it do the movie justice? Would it ruin the idea of Neverland I had imagined for myself, so many years before? W0uld I even like it? And I was older then, so I thought maybe I wouldn’t. But I swear, I loved it from its very first lines.

All children, except one, grow up. They soon know that they will grow up, and the way Wendy knew was this. One d ay when she was two years old she was playing in a garden, and she plucked another flower and ran with it to her mother. I suppose she must have looked rather delightful, for Mrs. Darling put her hand to her heart and cried, “Oh, why can’t you remain like this for ever!” This was all that passed between them on the subject, but henceforth Wendy knew that she must grow up. You always know after you are two. Two is the beginning of the end.

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Nitwit Oddment Blubber Tweak!

Harry PotterAt the risk of revealing myself to be an even greater nerd, I will take this time to pay homage to one of my greatest (and lifelong) loves–

Harry Potter.

Oh yeah, I went there.

I literally spent the entire day of my eleventh birthday outside scanning the skies for owls with a pair of binoculars in my hopeful little hands. I used to read each book over and over again, living in the fine print and drinking in all that was buried in between. It’s been a long time since then, but I have to say that a part of me misses it.

I think I will always have a thing for Harry Potter, despite its faults (that horribly unnecessary epilogue… Albus Severus… dear lord) and in spite of my age (oh, it’s been over a decade since JK Rowling began to write it).

No other book has characters I love so dearly. No other author has made me care quite as much as JK Rowling has. Harry Potter made me read more deeply and write more joyfully. So much of my youth has been molded and framed by this series, and regardless of what judgment or humor comes to your mind from such an embarrassing truth, I just have to say it.

It’s funny how much a book can change you.

To be honest, I don’t really like the movies all that much. They can’t possibly compare, and I don’t really expect them to. Some stories you can never quite catch on a big screen. Still, they remind me enough of the books to stir up shadows of those giddy feelings I felt each time I waited in line for the latest installment. So now that the 6th movie has finally arrived, and ABC Family has been playing Harry Potter movies for the past week, I can’t help but remember how much it meant– how much it still means.

A good book is a beautiful thing. And in this case, there are seven.

He’s Just Not That Into You? Really?

He's Just Not That Into YouIt was finals week. I was at the public library in downtown La Jolla without wireless internet, suffocating under the heavy weight of a quickly approaching final exam.

Apparently I am incapable of studying by myself. I start off strong– documents open, headphones on, fingers hovering slightly over the lettered keys. I type my first sentence. Pause. Adjust the margins, fix the spacing, change the font to fit my current mood. Times New Roman when I have to focus, Calibri for the duller assignments, and (on occasion), Courier New to delude myself into thinking a typewriter font makes me more of a writer. And before I know it, my mind is completely gone. I wander off, and end up in the section with books like:

  • What Men Won’t Tell You, But Women Need To Know
  • Don’t Call That Man! A Survival Guide To Letting Go
  • Make Every Man Want You (Or Make Yours Want You More)
  • Man Magnet: How To Be The Best Woman You Can Be

And I’m thinking: Sweet Jesus, how did I get here, and someone please take me to the Harry Potter section. I spent at least 15 minutes suppressing my laughter as I pulled book after book from the shelf. Bright, bold covers pasted with provocative statements. Exaggerated cartoons of single women holding a cosmopolitan in one hand and cigarettes in the other (clearly, the shining image of feminine independence). Then, amongst the rubble, I found it– He’s Just Not That Into You.

I think it was a poor thought process, surely brought on by extreme sleep-deprivation and unparalleled hunger (i clearly remember it being past 1:30pm). But after watching the movie only to leave the theater disappointed and $10 poorer, I naturally reasoned that books were always better than movies and this had to be the case. It had a clever title– blunt, honest, catchy. So I thought, what the hell! My papers can wait! I found an empty table hidden behind thick bookshelves. No one would see me, particularly not with the book. I slid my gigantic, Princess Leia headphones over my ears and used my hair to cover most of my face. I was settled, conveniently hidden from judgment and quite incognito. I was ready to read.

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Truth is stranger than fiction.

http://www.manonwire.com/

 

On August 7th 1974, a young Frenchman named Philippe Petit stepped out on a wire illegally rigged between New York’s twin towers, then the world’s tallest buildings. After nearly an hour dancing on the wire, he was arrested, taken for psychological evaluation, and brought to jail before he was finally released.

Following six and a half years of dreaming of the towers, Petit spent eight months in New York City planning the execution of the coup. Aided by a team of friends and accomplices, Petit was faced with numerous extraordinary challenges: he had to find a way to bypass the WTC’s security; smuggle the heavy steel cable and rigging equipment into the towers; pass the wire between the two rooftops; anchor the wire and tension it to withstand the winds and the swaying of the buildings. The rigging was done by night in complete secrecy. At 7:15 AM, Philippe took his first step on the high wire 1,350 feet above the sidewalks of Manhattan…

James Marsh’s documentary brings Petit’s extraordinary adventure to life through the testimony of Philippe himself, and some of the co-conspirators who helped him create the unique and magnificent spectacle that became known as “the artistic crime of the century.”

 
I have become extremely appreciative of documentaries lately, especially in the case of Man on Wire. There is something really refreshing about their honesty. Fiction is wonderful, and I often prefer it to the truth, but there is just something about real life, real people, real possibilities. Twain is right– truth is stranger. Philippe Petit is insane in the most extraordinary and reckless sense of the word. I don’t know what to say. Frankly, I’m a bit stunned. People like Philippe are rare, practically nonexistent. What would the world look like if everyone lived just as simply, as passionately, as honestly? One day he just decided that he wanted to walk a tightrope between the World Trade Center towers. And then he did it. Simple. He knew what he wanted, and he did what he had to do to get it– legalities and fears aside. What a way to be, walking through the clouds and balancing life on a cable-thin line.