Weekly “I’ve been”.. April 4th – 10th

4th to 10th of April I’ve been..

Reading: Wuthering Heights

  • Wuthering Heights – Emily Brontë. I’m about halfway through this novel right now, and quite liking it so far. It’s about horrible, HORRIBLE people, as I’m sure most of you know (I’m really late to the party when it comes to this classic), but it’s well written and interesting so I can handle the unsympathetic main characters. For now at least.
  • I haven’t made much progress when it comes to Galileo’s Finger: The Ten Great Ideas of Science, which I’ve been reading for a long time now, but have to admit I haven’t picked it up the last week. I really like it and find most of the topics so interesting, but I just need a break between every theme I read about. Will try to get into it again this week though!

Watching:

  • Season 2 of Curb Your Enthusiasm. It’s great to have a TV-series in the 20-35 minute span that you can always put on, and I’ve just started watching Curb recently, and I’m loving it, although I’m usually cringing throughout the whole episode.
  • A film I watched last week that I really want to highlight is Das Boot (1981), which I thought was an amazing war movie, and although we watched the Director’s Cut which is a whooping 209 minutes long, I was never bored. Such a good film, brilliant acting and masterfully shot.Das Boot
  • We also rewatched Amadeus (1984), which both Tommy and I have seen before, but it was almost like watching it for the first time, as we were both quite young the first time and remembering very little. It was a great watch, and a must-see film for anyone interested in music. And Tom Hulce’s laugh is wonderful.

Listening to:

  • Christoper Tin – Baba Yetu. My choir is practicing this for our spring concert, and it’s soooo cool. I need to listen to it a lot to get a feel for the rhythm and how to pronunciation the text properly though, as I’ve never heard it before we started singing it (Yup, I’ve never played Civilization IV).

Doing:

  • Quite a lot of revising. Starting next week I have two take-home finals, before my month of interning at a library, so I’m going through all of this semester’s lectures and reading through the curriculum list.
  • Karaoke! Yaaay! After choir practice last Thursday a small bunch of us went to this amazing bar in Oslo called Syng, where you can rent your own karaoke room. With about 15.000 songs to choose from, we had such a good time, and will probably go again very soon.

Here’s to another good week. I’ll continue reading Wuthering Heights, but probably won’t have the time for any new books with my exams lurking just around the corner. This Saturday is also our choir’s practice day, where we use the whole day to go through our repertoire, before a well deserved party at the end. Before that I’ll just have to study hard 😉

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January and February Recap

Books read, movies watched, songs listened to and cultural happenings attended in January and February 2016. Click on the links to see the respective blog posts about the experience.

Recap

Books read:
John Steinbeck – Grapes of Wrath
James Joyce – Dubliners
Fyodor Dostoyevsky – The Double
Mary Shelley – Frankenstein

Films watched at the movies:
The Hateful Eight – Quentin Tarantino
The Revenant – Alejandro González Iñárritu
Room – Lenny Abrahamson

Plays attended:
Tenk om (If/Then)

Most listened to songs:
Blackstar – David Bowie
Lazarus – David Bowie

On the literary front, the first two months of the year turned out to be all about the classics. It wasn’t planned at all, but quite fun to see that the authors read turned out to be Steinbeck, Joyce, Dostoyevsky and Shelley. After Shelley’s Frankenstein I started reading John Irving’s Avenue of Mysteries and the popular science book Galileo’s Finger by Peter Atkins, which are both quite big, and the latter very complicated (for me at least), so they are sure to take a while. I’m also following a book challenge on Instagram for March; #tuvalusbookchallenge so if you’re looking for some Instagram inspiration I recommend that you check out the tag 🙂

I’ve watched A LOT of films these two months to prepare for the Oscars, and of course keeping up with my general “film education”. I managed to see all the Best Picture nominees, and almost all the other big categories except for Joy and Creed. There were quite a lot of strong nominees in all categories this year, and I’m really happy with most of the awards. Spotlight for best picture was well deserved, and I’m of course very glad for Leonardo DiCaprio. One of the best surprises was Ex Machina winning for visual effects and Mark Rylance for Supporting Actor. A brilliant film and a brilliant actor! It’s no secret that I quite disliked The Big Short, and would have liked to see another film take home Best Adapted Screenplay, like for instance Carol. But all in all, happy with the ceremony!

New favourites:
Frankenstein (book)
Grapes of Wrath (book)
The Revenant (film)
Spotlight (film)
Blackstar (album)

Here’s to another two good months with many good things to explore!

Preparing for the Oscars: Brooklyn, The Big Short and The Martian

I’ve finally watched all the nominees for Best Picture in this year’s Oscar Awards, with Brooklyn and The Big Short being my two latest watches. I thought I’d write some short opinions on those two and The Martian. For my thoughts on the rest of the nominees, I made one blog post about The Revenant and one where I discuss Bridge of Spies, Mad Max, Room and Spotlight over here.

Brooklyn – Watched February 22nd
The Big Short – Watched February 23rd
The Martian – Watched November 6th 2015

Click on the title of the film to read more about them on IMDB, as I will not go into much detail about the premises or plot of the films!

BrooklynBrooklyn – John Crowley
Starring: Saoirse Ronan, Emory Cohen, Domhnall Gleeson

I found Brooklyn to be a really beautiful and quite understated, in a good way. Saoirse Ronan does a great job, and the film definitively made me tear up a few times. You get to care about the characters, and even though it’s not a very fast-moving drama-filled picture, it’s not in any ways boring either. I also have to commend Julie Walters in her role, I hardly recognized her at first! Domhnall Gleeson makes yet another appearance in one of 2016’s nominated films, and though his role here isn’t the biggest, he is surely one of the actors you should keep an eye on in the year to come!

My only issue with Brooklyn is that it just wasn’t memorable enough. It has so many strong points, especially when it comes to the acting and the visuals, but even though the story is touching it didn’t really stick with me, and it’s only been two days since I saw it. For it to be a contender for Best Picture it would have needed some more originality, to make it stand out more. But it’s a recommended watch all the same!

The Big ShortThe Big Short – Adam McKay
Starring: Christian Bale, Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling

Right. I’ll straight out say it, I didn’t care much for The Big Short. Reading on IMDB it seems like most people loved it, so I’m obviously not speaking for the majority here. The issue for me that it tackles such complicated topics, and it’s constantly doing quirky things to try to explain them, which just made my head spin. There’s a lot of breaking the forth wall in this film, cutting to scenes where models and celebrities explain advanced economics, combined with some meta moments where actors break character to tell you that “this didn’t really happen” or “this was a tad different in reality”. The concept of that is quite exciting, and The Big Short is in no way lacking originality, but for me it just didn’t work. The cuts and editing were too irregular, and while they were going for the very “cool” style and also poking some fun, it just felt too silly at times.

Christian Bale is nominated for his role, and though I wasn’t a fan of the film I think he did a fine job. One of the big surprises for me was also Steve Carell, I think his portrayal was absolutely fantastic, and equal with Bale’s. One of many this year that could have been nominated, but wasnt.

The MartianThe Martian – Ridley Scott
Starring: Matt Damon, Jessica Chastain, Kristen Wiig

Ah, The Martian. It’s been a while since I saw this, but it’s still quite strong in my mind. Let me start of by saying: I really enjoyed The Martian, I thought it was a really good film, it was exciting, funny and emotional at times. I left the movie theatre with my expectations met.

I don’t however, think it deserves a nomination for Best Picture OR for Best Actor in a Leading Role. It’s just not that much of an achievement, even though I enjoyed it. The thing is, and it’s gonna sound harsh: I felt most of the work that was done in this film, both with the production and acting could have been done by most capable actors, directors, producers et cetera. I didn’t leave the movie thinking “Wow, how did Matt Damon pull that off” or “Boy, only Ridley Scott could have made something like that”. It wasn’t outstanding in any way, even though it’s a good film. Would I rather watch this again than The Big Short? Yes. But I still think it shouldn’t have gotten as many nominations as it has. Sadly.

But if you haven’t seen it, go ahead! I do recommend it 🙂

Having now watched all of the nominees my favourites are still The Revenant and Spotlight! There are still some films missing from the other big categories, but as of now I’ve seen most of the actors and actresses nominated for both lead and supporting, especially after I see The Danish Girl this Saturday.

If you have any thoughts on the Best Picture category for this years Academy Awards, please leave a comment below 🙂

Preparing for the Oscars: Bridge of Spies, Mad Max, Room and Spotlight

The Oscars are quickly approaching, and I’m trying go watch as many nominated films as possible before the ceremony, especially those nominated for Best Picture. I’ve managed to see quite a few so far, but it’s difficult to get to all of them before the 28th as several of the films aren’t released in Norway until March, and I really want to see them in the best quality possible. So far when it comes to the Best Picture nominees I’ve seen:

Bridge of Spies – Watched January 23rd
Mad Max: Fury Road – Watched January 17th
The Martian – Watched November 6th 2015
The Revenant – Watched January 24th – Review here
Room – Watched February 1st
Spotlight – Watched February 5th

Click on the title of the film to read more about them on IMDB, as I will not go into much detail about the premises or plot of the films!

I’m only missing Brooklyn and The Big Short, which I’ll hopefully get to see soon! I thought I’d just share a few thoughts about the latest films I’ve seen which I haven’t already written about.

Bridge of Spies

Bridge of Spies – Steven Spielberg
Starring: Tom Hanks, Mark Rylance

Horrible poster aside, I liked this film much more than I thought I would. It looks very standard Spielberg: family friendly, good side and bad side without nuances, polished.. and in a lot of ways it does present itself with a lot of that classic formula, but it’s still a good film with very solid acting. There’s also a lot of well written dialogue, which I always appreciate. Tom Hanks does a fine job as usual, but the film’s strongest point by far is the subtle yet brilliant Mark Rylance, who is a strong contender for best actor in a supporting role.

Very well deserved nominations for best supporting actor and best original screenplay, and quite justified that it doesn’t have any directing or editing nominations, as it didn’t really stand out in those departments. Not a strong contender for best picture in my opinion though. Still, a film worth watching.

Mad MaxMad Max: Fury Road – George Miller
Starring: Tom Hardy, Charlize Theron, Nicholas Hoult

With it being nominated in 10 Oscar categories, I was quite intrigued before watching Mad Max, it doesn’t appear to be my type of film at all, but I ended up enjoying it quite a lot. Still, 10 nominations is a slight overkill in my book, but it’s interesting seeing the Academy paying more attention to different types of films and genres, it’s quite rare seeing a full on action movie receiving so much Oscar-buzz. Anyway, Mad Max: Fury Road is a breath of fresh air in it’s genre, keeping in balance, combining old cliches and finding its own path as it goes along. It’s also a great film visually, both in terms of camerawork, editing and effects, and deserves a lot of recognition there. All in all a very good movie, but not quite best picture for me.

Poster for "The Room" (2015)Room – Lenny Abrahamson
Starring: Brie Larson, Jacob Tremblay

A beautiful film in my opinion, about a emotional traumatizing case, yet it doesn’t become “emotional porn” to put it in those terms. It’s not without flaws, the pacing of the film could perhaps be a bit different, but the acting is so strong, and the story it self very well written. It’s interesting to follow a story that takes us beyond the happy ending, and explores what happens afterwards, both on the outside and inside the characters. I really appreciated how the characters in this film are shown as extremely human, and everyone’s reactions to a near unthinkable situation I found very realistic. Brie Larson seems to be one of the strongest contenders for the female in a lead category, which I fully support, but I cannot understand how Jacob Tremblay isn’t nominated! He isn’t just great for a kid actor, he’s absolutely phenomenal no matter who he is compared to. Several of his scenes had me tearing up. In my opinion he is absolutely robbed of a nomination.

With its strong acting and great storytelling, Room is a good contender for the best picture, although it doesn’t quite reach up to the greatness of The Revenant and Spotlight in my book.

SpotlightSpotlight – Tom McCarthy
Starring: Mark Ruffalo, Michael Keaton, Rachel McAdams, Liev Schreiber, John Slattery and Stanley Tucci.

I saw this only yesterday, and I was so so pleased with it! Spotlight is a film I hadn’t heard that much about, there hasn’t been a lot of promo or trailers around in Norway for it, don’t know about the rest of the world? As a result I didn’t know much of the premise of the story at all, which I find is a good starting point for every film you see, the less you know beforehand the better.

Dealing with a very important, yet touchy subject, I felt Spotlight never borders on the verge of tasteless. The strong highlights of this film are its dialogue (there’s a lot, and it’s fast so pay attention), the strong cast who all do a great job and the way everything flows together; the tempo and rhythm of the film is so perfect and fitting, and it’s all done in a very subtle way. Very good editing! Mark Ruffalo’s acting is also a very strong point and he received a well deserved nomination. I would have liked Tucci to receive a nod as well, his performance reminds me of Rylance in Bridge of Spies, subtle yet very moving. Anyway, as pointed out, all the actors do a great job, from the leads to the smaller ones who only have a scene or two. A film I’d recommend to everyone, and which made me conflicted after watching, I’m now very torn between Spotlight and The Revenant as for which should win best picture. They’re both great films, and very different as well! Hopefully they will both take home their fair share of awards.

Conclusion
From the films I have seen so far The Revenant is still one of my favourites, but now with strong competition from Spotlight. It’s also quite interesting to see the differences in the films nominated for best picture this year, from the “standard Oscar film” Bridge of Spies to the hardcore action movie Mad Max: Fury Road.

Hopefully I’ll get to see Brooklyn and The Big Short soon. I will also write more about films nominated in other categories before the big ceremony February 28th, and a blog post about the films I think should have nominated (more) as well.

Films watched in 2015: Part 3

September, October, November and December.

A collage of some of the films watched in 2015

A period defined by lots of school work, lots of job hours, exams, traveling to Prague and of course Christmas. Compared to the two previous periods this is the one where I’ve checked the least films, but still managed to get up to the count of 35. Not too bad! In early autumn my boyfriend and I started our “B-movie”-period, which I’ve blogged about previously. Later in the year I also saw more Chaplin films for the first time, having only seen “The Kid” before. My boyfriend came home one day with the complete box-set of Charlie Chaplin films, so even though we watched quite a few already there will be plenty more to explore!

At the movies I saw the Norwegian film “The Wave”, “The Martian” and of course, this year’s most anticipated film: “Star Wars: The Force Awakens”. “The Martian” was quite entertaining, although how it is nominated for 7 Oscars I will never understand. Now “Star Wars” I absolutely loved. I came in with mixed anticipations, but ended up very pleased, despite its flaws it was a very good film, and absolutely worthy of the Star Wars universe.

I also FINALLY watched some great classics, both old and not quite that old, such as “The Shawshank Redemption”, “2001: A Space Odyssey” and “Hamlet” (1948), all great films.

Films watched: 35
Most watched director: Charlie Chaplin (4)
Favourites: The Great Dictator, Star Wars – The Force Awakens, Killer Klowns from Outer Space, 2001: A Space Odyssey
Watched at the movies: The Wave, The Martian, Star Wars: The Force Awakens

The following is a list of the films I watched in September, October, November and December 2015. The list does not include films I’ve seen before. To keep track of the films I watch I use ICheckMovies, which is highly recommended 🙂

  1. Inside Llewyn Davis – Ethan Coen and Joel Coen
  2. Bølgen (The Wave) – Roar Uthaug
  3. Dallas Buyers Club – Jean Marc Vallée
  4. Annabelle – John R. Leonetti
  5. The Conjuring – James Wan
  6. Army of Darkness – Sam Raimi
  7. 2001: A Space Odyssey – Stanley Kubrick
  8. Young Frankenstein – Mel Brooks
  9. Robinson Crusoe on Mars – Byron Haskin
  10. The War of the Worlds – Byron Haskin
  11. Barbarella – Roger Vadim
  12. Dracula – Terence Fisher
  13. The Beast from 20.000 Fathoms РEug̬ne Louri̩
  14. Killer Klowns from Outer Space – Stephen Chiodo
  15. Forbidden Planet – Fred M. Wilcox
  16. The Hound of the Baskervilles – Terence Fisher
  17. Leprechaun – Mark Jones
  18. Inside Out – Pete Docter and Ronnie Del Carmen
  19. My Neighbour Totoro – Hayao Miyazaki
  20. Reprise – Joachim Trier
  21. Howl’s Moving Castle – Hayao Miyazaki
  22. Hamlet – Laurence Olivier
  23. The Martian – Ridley Scott
  24. The Cook the Thief His Wife & Her Lover – Peter Greenaway
  25. Star Trek: Into Darkness – J.J. Abrams
  26. The Great Dictator – Charlie Chaplin
  27. The Gold Rush – Charlie Chaplin
  28. City Lights – Charlie Chaplin
  29. Limelight – Charlie Chaplin
  30. The Aviator – Martin Scorsese
  31. Sherlock Jr. – Buster Keaton
  32. Black Christmas – Bob Clark
  33. Silent Night, Deadly Night – Charles E. Sellier Jr.
  34. The Shawshank Redemption – Frank Darabont
  35. Star Wars: The Force Awakens – J.J. Abrams

Films watched in 2015: Part 2

 

The Evil Dead, Moonrise Kingdom, Lawrence of Arabia and Ex Machina

The Evil Dead, Moonrise Kingdom, Lawrence of Arabia and Ex Machina

May, June, July and August.

This period was a wonderful mix of old classics, horror movies, older and new. Though very few films from the year 2015, I think only Jurassic World and Ex-Machina if I remember correctly. Jurassic World was unfortunately quite forgettable and tame, but Ex-Machina was absolutely wonderful, one of the best films of the year. Such an original story, ad it is a beautiful film to look at, it’s just absurd how it hasn’t been nominated for best cinematography in this year’s Academy Awards. It is an especially impressive film considering that this was Alex Garland’s directorial debut!

May of 2015 also introduced me to the Evil Dead-series, which I’m now a big fan of! I love cheesy comedy horror, if it’s properly tongue-in-cheek. We also watched the the French-Polish “Three Colours trilogy” by director Krzysztof Kieślowski, which was very good, especially the first one, “Blue” with Juliette Binoche.

Hitchcock continues to dominate among the directors of films watched in the May – August time span, though the period also introduced me to other greats such as Woody Allen who I (shockingly) have not watched anything by previously.

Films watched: 40
Most watched director: Alfred Hitchcock (5), Krzysztof Kieslowski (3), Woody Allen (3)
Favourites: Ex Machina, The Evil Dead & II, Moonrise Kingdom, Lawrence of Arabia
Watched at the movies: Jurassic World

The following is a list of the films I watched in May, June, July and August 2015. The list does not include films I’ve seen before. To keep track of the films I watch I use ICheckMovies, which is highly recommended 🙂

  1. The Cabin in the Woods – Drew Goddard
  2. The Evil Dead- Sam Raimi
  3. Evil Dead II – Sam Raimi
  4. Singin’ in the Rain – Stanley Donen and Gene Kelly
  5. Skyfall – Sam Mendes
  6. Match Point – Woody Allen
  7. Moonrise Kingdom – Wes Anderson
  8. The Trial – Orson Welles
  9. The Searchers – John Ford
  10. Heavenly Creatures – Peter Jackson
  11. Picnic at Hanging Rock – Peter Weir
  12. Ex Machina – Alex Garland
  13. Vicky Christina Barcelona – Woody Allen
  14. Poltergeist – Tobe Hooper
  15. Annie Hall – Woody Allen
  16. The Apartment – Billy Wilder
  17. Lawrence of Arabia – David Lean
  18. All Quiet on the Western Front – Lewis Milestone
  19. Dial M for Murder – Alfred Hitchcock
  20. Rear Window – Alfred Hitchcock
  21. Jurassic World – Colin Trevorrow
  22. Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me – David Lych
  23. The Killing – Stanley Kubrick
  24. Fargo – Joel Coen and Ethan Coel
  25. Black Swan – Darren Aronofsky
  26. Brief Encounter – David Lean
  27. Vertigo – Alfred Hitchcock
  28. Blade Runner – Ridley Scott
  29. Trois couleurs: Bleu – Krzysztof Kieslowski
  30. Trois couleurs: Blanc – Krzysztof Kieslowski
  31. Trois couleurs: Rouge – Krzysztof Kieslowski
  32. Se7en – David Fincher
  33. The Birds – Hitchcock
  34. Kind Hearts and Coronets – Robert Hamer
  35. Intouchables –     Olivier Nakache and Eric Toledano
  36. If…. – Lindsay Anderson
  37. The 39 Steps – Alfred Hitchcock
  38. Sweet Smell of Success – Alexander Mackendrick
  39. Fantastic Mr. Fox – Wes Anderson
  40. Gravity – Alfonso Cuarón

Films watched in 2015: Part 1

When I started putting this list together, I quickly realised I had to divide this in to more parts. I watch quite a lot of films, and at the end of the year it’s fun to look back and see what type of films I’ve watched, has there been a theme, are certain directors more present than others, and so on. Reviewing my “I-checks” for January, February, March and April, I clearly started the year by catching up on as many Oscar-nomitated films as possible, as is the situation this year.

Further out in February and March my boyfriend and I had our “great film period”, before we moved in together we were catsitting my aunt’s cats and living in her house for a month, and took advantage of the huge HD-TV to watch a lot of films. The theme is quite clear, I was being introduced to a lot of old classics, most of which I loved. You can cleary see some directors being listed several times..

We ended the first third of 2015 by going to the movies and seeing It Follows, which I truly think is one of the best modern horror films, and truly recommend!

Stats:
Films watched: 44
Most watched director: Alfred Hitchcock (6) and Billy Wilder (5).
Favourites: Sunset Blvd, The Grand Budapest Hotel, Psycho, 12 Angry Men and It Follows.
Watched at the movies: The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared, Adieu au langage, Into the Woods, It Follows.

The following is a list of the films I watched in January, February, March and April 2015. The list does not include films I’ve seen before. To keep track of the films I watch I use ICheckMovies, which is highly recommended 🙂

The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared – Felix Herngren
Big Hero 6 – Chris Williams, Don Hall
The Princess Bride – Rob Reiner
Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) – Alejandro G. Iñárritu
To Kill A Mockingbird – Robert Mulligan
Boyhood – Richard Linklater
The Grand Budapest Hotel – Wes Anderson
How to Train Your Dragon 2 – Dean DeBlois
The Theory of Everything – James Marsh
Serenity – Joss Whedon
Adieu au langage – Jean-Luc Godard
Slither – James Gunn
Groundhog Day – Harold Ramis
Sunset Blvd. – Billy Wilder
Roman Holiday – William Wyler
The Other Boleyn Girl – Justin Chadwick
Sabrina – Billy Wilder
Charade – Stanley Donen
Some Like It Hot – Billy Wilder
Psycho – Alfred Hitchcock
The Grapes of Wrath –John Ford
Rebecca – Alfred Hitchcock
Witness for the Prosecution – Billy Wilder
North by Northwest – Alfred Hitchcock
The Lost Weekend – Billy Wilder
The Innocents – Jack Clayton
The Princess and the Frog – Ron Clements and John Musker
Prisoners – Denis Villeneuve
In the Heat of the Night – Norman Jewison
Into to the Woods – Rob Marshall
Big Fish – Tim Burton
Prometheus – Ridley Scott
Taxi Driver – Martin Scorsese
Star Trek – J. J Abrams
Nosferatu: Phantom der Nacht – Werner Herzog
To Catch a Thief – Alfred Hitchcock
Spellbound – Alfred Hitchcock
Peeping Tom – Michael Powell
Shadow of the Vampire – E. Elias Merhige
Barton Fink – Ethan Coen and Joel Cohen
Paths of Glory – Stanley Kubrick
Frenzy – Alfred Hitchcock
12 Angry Men – Sidney Lumet
It Follows – David Robert Mitchell