Saturday, January 2, 2010

6 Degrees of Movie Renting

So my husband teases me because I always rent at least 4 movies at a time-- and when I do, they're always connected somehow. Sometimes, it's obvious-- all children's movies. All romance. All action.... But not usually.

Usually, I have no idea that they're connected. Until we watch them all, and then Mark laughs at me because, lo and behold-- they're all connected.

Here's this weekend's movie list: 9, All About Steve, 500 Days of Summer, Terminator Salvation, The Hangover and G-Force.

Okay, so you probably immediate see the connection between 9 and G-Force. Both kid's movies with miniature heroes against killer machines. Also, obvious connection between All About Steve and 500 Days of Summer-- both comedic romances where only one partner is actually interested.

Here's where it gets interesting. 9 and Terminator Salvation are both post apocalyptic man vs. computer movies. 9 is the world of Terminator-- if John Connor failed years ago.

All about Steve and The Hangover are both comedies that star the actor, Bradly Cooper. I have to admit, until we watched The Hangover-- I thought I might have broken my tendency to connect the movies. But as soon as we saw him, Mark laughed at me.

So how do you connect all the adult movies with the kids movies?


The human factor in G-Force is played by Zach Galifianakis.

...Who also stars in The Hangover. (;

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year!

Turns out this New Year has a lot going on-- it's a blue moon in more than one sense. First, it's the second full moon in the month. Second, it's the thirteenth full moon in the year. And third, it's rare-- a blue moon on New Year's eve hasn't happened in 20 years. If it had actually been BLUE, due to dust particles in the air, it'd been a blue moon by all four definitions.

But as my friend Wendy noted, it's ALSO the dawn of a new decade. Which led a friend of her's to quote the song "Aquarius". A quick internet search indicates he might not just be joking (lol).

According to Rex E Bills, The Rulership Book, 1976, Pgs 362-365, "Ages are believed by some astrologers to affect mankind while other astrologers believe the ages correlate to the rise and fall of mighty civilizations and cultural tendencies. Aquarius traditionally "rules" electricity, computers, flight, democracy, freedom, humanitarianism, idealists, modernization, rebels and rebellion, mental diseases, nervous disorders, and astrology." Ages last 2150 years each. Though there's a wide range of possible start dates for the Age of Aquarius, if you go with the song's opening line, "When the Moon is in the seventh house, and Jupiter aligns with Mars. Then peace will guide the planets, and love will steer the stars." Then this alignment happened on Valentine's day, this year: February 14, 2009.

All of this as an introduction to a recap of 2009 in the Wise household (;

This year, Mark finished his classes and received his Associate’s Degree in Airframe and Powerplant. This year, Grandmother moved in with her son, Mark’s Dad, and I finally returned to school to begin finishing my Bachelor’s Degree and making art again for the first time in almost a decade. My oldest son is in second grade, almost as tall as I, and advanced to a camo belt in Karate. My youngest son started Pre-4K, talking more and making his own friends. This year, we went on local adventures—trips to Chuck E. Cheese and Fun Zone; Trips to a variety of wonderful local playgrounds. And playing tourist close to home: Dothan Botanical Garden, Dothan Museum of Art, Troy’s Pioneer Village and Pioneer Museum, and to Atlanta to the Museum of Art to see the Terra Cotta Warriors. And Mark and I celebrated our 10th anniversary. All in all 2009 lived up to what I hoped for it!

A new year, a new decade: Borrowing a quote from my friend Traci Moss, "May you all ring out the year with love and memories of wonder and salute 2010 with the hopes of continued love, laughter and new adventures!"

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Thoughts on Avatar

WARNING: This blog contains spoilers-- so if you haven't already seen the movie, stop here, get yourself a ticket for the movie and go see it.

Mark and I went to see Avatar in 3D this afternoon. Before I get into what I thought about the movie, I will say that I enjoyed it. It's a good movie. Do I think it's worth seeing 3+ time in the theatre? Not so much. But it's a good movie, and I'll be buying a copy when it becomes available on DVD. If you absolutely LOVED this movie-- go ahead and stop reading now. You're probably NOT going to be interested in what I have to say.

Okay, now that that is out of the way.

It amazes me the advances they've made in 3D technology! Even still, almost 3 hours of it, and when we walked out, I was more than happy to take those glasses off. Mark and I were discussing it, and with HD quality 2D out there, we suspect the 2D version is just as good as the 3-- without the headache.

The movie has been out for 10 days tomorrow. And we went to a 3:30 matinee-- and the theatre was PACKED. It's been a while since Mark and I had to sit side by side with strangers. And it's a completely different movie experience when everyone is in there like comfortable sardines. It's more of a bonding experience-- if that makes any sense. You're all sitting -together-. So even though you didn't choose the majority of the people you're watching the film with, you're all there with each other. An audience that large feeds on each other's responses. At one point, I HAD to head to the restroom-- and when I came back in-- not a single person was moving-- all eyes were on the screen, and collectively, they held their breath, watching.

The first thing that struck me, as the movie began and the voice over by Jake Sully begins, I found myself sitting up straighter in my seat, tilting my head to really LISTEN. What struck me is that Sam Worthington (the actor playing Jake Sully) has the voice of Patrick Swayze. The same accent and way of pronouncing words. After the movie, I mentioned this to Mark and he said, "It's funny because I thought I recognized his voice-- I just couldn't place it."

As we watched the movie, I couldn't help thinking that this is what would happen if Mechs (from Battle Tech), were introduced to Pocahontas and Dancing With Wolves. Don't get me wrong, I like all three. I even liked all three together.

I couldn't help thinking, as Sigourney Weaver's character yelled at the boss for sending out the troops to destroy the tree, and as I saw the pictures of her avatar with the natives, of her role as Dian Fossey in Gorillas in the Mist. When Mark and I were talking about it, he told me that she and James Cameron had worked together on Aliens. And he had flashed back to that movie when he saw her and the mech like machines. It sparked a discussion on Directors and preferred actors, like Tim Burton and Johnny Depp, because one of the previews was for Robin Hood-- by the director who did Gladiator (Ridley Scott), starring-- you guessed it, Russell Crowe.

This led to a discussion about James Cameron. With his use of mech like armor in both Avatar and Aliens-- it's a wonder he doesn't look to getting the licensing for BattleTech. But we also discussed that he's done some truly amazing movies/ television shows. His Titanic had the same kind of movie goer response that Avatar is getting-- with people willing to pay theatre prices repeatedly to see it again. Now THAT was a movie I DID pay to see three times in the theatre. But he also did an amazing television series called Dark Angel. It's one of my all time favorites. And as the second season of that show progressed, so too did his fascination with the combination of human and animal. The character Joshua was very tall, and though he was supposed to be dog related-- he looked more like a cat-- especially if you grew up adoring Beauty and the Beast staring Linda Hamilton and Ron Perlman like I did. So it was no surprise to either of us that his Na'vi would be very feline.

Previous to seeing the movie, I'd read plenty of articles that ranted that the Na'vi were a bunch of blue, tree hugging, Native Americans with dreadlocks. That it's blatantly anti-war. That it's a statement about American consumerism and how we're the bad guys in the current war. If you want to read those, you can search for them, because this isn't that.

I mention them because I can see the similarity to pre-existing Native American movies. Anyone who's watched television in the last 50 years is going to, when they see very little clothing, feathers in the hair, bows and arrow and horse back riding. Okay, so it's a people who are deeply connected to the world they live in. I don't see anything wrong with that. And I don't know of a single person who looks back on the Trail of Tears and doesn't think it was wrong.

I actually liked the analogue that Dr. Grace Augustine made for their connection to their world being much like a living computer-- uploading memories and able to share them. It makes me think of the astonishing advances the internet has made possible in our world.

Then we almost get to the fight scenes. Yes, his riding Toruk is predictable from the moment Neytiri tells the story of her Grandfather. Yes, from the same story, it's also predictable that he's going to unite all the tribes. But just before the fighting starts, two very interesting things happen.

First, the Na'vi attempt to save Grace by transferring her into her Avatar at the Tree of Souls. I was immediately reminded of the Zar and Guedra bellydances, which are both healing trance dances.

has excellent information on both-- and you may notice that the Guedra is performed by the Moroccan Tuareg, who are known as the blue people. Just sayin' (;

Secondly, JakeSully links to the Tree of Souls to request help from Eywa, the goddess of the Na'vi. But his mate, Neytiri tells him that Eywa doesn't choose sides-- that she only maintains the balance of life.

Then the final battle begins-- and there are a LOT of casualties on the Na'vi side. Then Eywa rallies and all the creatures of Pandora rush into the fight. My -first- thought was, that if Eywa had responded sooner, there would have been way fewer deaths. The whole calvary with bows and arrows charging the guns and artillery was disheartening to watch, even before it began, because, let's face it, it's the whole, "brought a knife to a gun fight" scenario. And without Eywa's addition, the battle would surely have been lost. But then I thought back to what Neytiri had told Jake at the Tree of Souls-- Eywa didn't choose their side. But she DID step in to maintain the balance of life on Pandora.

And in the final scene, as JakeSully lay beneath the Tree of Souls in both his dying human body and his Na'vi form, I remembered a conversation Mark and I had with his 9 year old second cousin on Christmas eve. He was talking about why he couldn't understand why Avatar the movie had the same name, when it had absolutely nothing to do with the last air bender. We explained to him that Avatar the last air bender is called that because Ang is the embodiment of all four elements on earth. And that when you're on the computer, you have avatars-- images that represent you, without actually being YOU....and that was when I returned to the movie and thought, "Unless of course, you have a way to transfer you into your avatar like JakeSully does."

René Magritte would either be rolling in his grave thinking about the modern use of avatars.... or applauding.