dimanche, janvier 13, 2008

2007 The Year in Movies

By way of introduction, we often saw movies because the time worked out well. TinyE was on a play date or at an organized event, and the only movie that worked was one that we might not have seen otherwise. Most of the time (Music and Lyrics, Premonition, The Invisible) this did not work. But sometimes (In the Valley of Elah, Eastern Promises) it did. Overall, Mrs. Duf and I saw 37 movies. But there were 22 that we did not see that we might have if there were world enough and time.

Movies We Saw in 2007:

Happily N’Ever After
Music and Lyrics
Meet the Robinsons
The Invisible
Shrek the Third
Mr. Brooks
Surf’s Up
Nancy Drew
Evan Almighty
The Simpsons Movie
The Bourne Ultimatum
In the Valley of Elah
Eastern Promises
The Game Plan
The Darjeeling Limited
Michael Clayton
Gone Baby Gone
American Gangster
Bee Movie
Fred Claus
No Country for Old Men
The Golden Compass
Alvin and the Chipmunks
I Am Legend
Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
Youth Without Youth

Movies I Also Wish We’d Seen in 2007 (italics = really wish we'd seen):

Grindhouse: Planet Terror and Death Proof
Knocked Up
A Mighty Heart
La Vie En Rose
Live Free or Die Hard
Death at a Funeral
3:10 to Yuma
Into the Wild
Lust, Caution
Elizabeth: The Golden Age
Lars and the Real Girl
Things We Lost in the Fire

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead
Charlie Wilson’s War
There Will Be Blood

My Top Ten of 2007 (so far):

10. Hairspray – didn’t want to go (love the original to much), had a blast
9. Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street – I’m a fan
8. Zodiac – quality from start to finish
7. American Gangster – strong acting performances
6. I Am Legend – a great story, strong acting, best set design of the year
5. In the Valley of Elah – Jones was phenomenal; overcomes formula ending
4. Eastern Promises – intense and amazing
3. Michael Clayton – some flaws, but overall very dog gone good
2. Gone Baby Gone – the “gotcha” was not so “gotcha” but the film was superb
1. No Country for Old Men – a flawless classic, works on every level

Honorable Mention:

Mr. Brooks

Best Children’s Movies:

5. Bee Movie
4. Enchanted
3. The Game Plan
2. Surf’s Up
1. Ratatouille (the best by a country mile)

Pleasant Surprises (went in expecting little, and left thinking – “not bad” or even “very darn good"):

Mr. Brooks
Nancy Drew
The Game Plan
Gone Baby Gone

Disappointments (high or medium expectations were dashed):

The Simpsons Movie
The Bourne Ultimatum
The Darjeeling Limited

The Swimming Upstream Award (everyone loved this movie (or hated it) and I saw it the differently:

Juno (not bad, pleasant enought, but not great. It didn't make my top ten or honorable mention, and think of the movies I haven't seen yet)

The “Didn’t really get it” Award:

Youth Without Youth (I understood the basic plot, but I have not idea why Coppolla invested his own money into making it (and yes, he has a lot of money these days). Well except that I dounderstand why no studio would back it. It's a good movie, it's just not a money making movie).

Moments when Narcolepsy Triumphed; or: movies I feel asleep in (not necessarily a comment on the movie) reason and duration in parentheses:

Meet the Robinsons (exhaustion, not engaged; 10 minutes)
Shrek the Third (exhaustion, not engaged; 10 minutes)
Bee Movie (missed most of it, exhaustion, warm theater, tummy full; 50 minutes)
Enchanted (exhaustion, not engaged; 10 minutes)
Alvin and the Chipmunks (exhaustion, not engaged; 10 minutes)
Youth Without Youth (film too high brow, tummy full; 15 minutes)

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mardi, janvier 08, 2008

For General Delivery

Just after the holidays, I went to the main post office in downtown Minneapolis. It is a stunningly beautiful, wonderful and amazing art deco building along the Mississippi riverfront. If you’re ever in downtown Minneapolis, and you have any interest in historic buildings or art deco, you absolutely must see it.

I was there to mail a few packets prior to a meeting that Mrs. Duf and I had downtown. I walked in, and I stood in a line labeled “general delivery.” I’m embarrassed to say that I thought that was the line for me because I was just mailing some packets.

I’ll confess that I noticed that the customers were different than the customers I typically see in the post offices I frequent in St. Anthony Park and at the airport.

When I reached the front of the line and then the calendar, I presented my envelopes to be mailed, and the clerk politely indicated that I was in the wrong line.

I walked along the lengthy main corridor toward the line I was supposed to be in, and as I made my way, it became clear to me what “general delivery” meant.

General delivery is the place you go to receive your mail when you don’t have an address.

The general delivery line was extra busy, because it was early in the month, and checks had just been sent.

It was a reminder to me that the struggles that middle-class Americans face (the burdens of navigating stressful and expensive holidays, the trappings of the material life) are small and ridiculous compared to the struggles that others face.

This post office visit reminded me of an interesting exercise that my dear friend shared with me last year. It set forth standards that were designed to indicate whether you identify with the wealthy, the middle class, or the poor.

For the wealthy, it articulated standards like: you have a favorite restaurant in multiple cities in Europe, or you own more than a few pieces of original art, etc.

For the middle class it noted things like: you take annual vacations, and you know how to get your children into college and little league.

For the poor: you know who to call if your power is about to be shut off, or you know how to get care if you’re sick but lack insurance.

Walking through the inventory, I was not surprised to find that I solidly identified with the middle class. I was a bit shocked that I more closely identified with the wealthy than I did with the poor. I have favorite restaurants in cities all over the United States, but not in Europe (yet). I do own original art a few pieces, but I typically buy one a year. I have no clue where to go for help when times are hard.

For good or bad, it is the type of thing I tend to think about when, from time to time, circumstance gives me a gentle reminder.

You might have a day (like we did yesterday) when you’re tempted to complain about the $350 December utility bill that just arrived in the mail at your home address. And on those days it might be helpful to remember that someone else might be complaining about how long the line is for general delivery mail.

lundi, janvier 07, 2008

In My Utopia, Dennis is Still Our Nominee; or: [sigh]...

I took this political quiz, and here's how it ranked the candidates for me (no surprise at the top (or bottom), but after that a few surprises):


Dennis Kucinich (no surprise there at all)
Mike Gravel
Christopher Dodd
Bill Richardson
Barack Obama
Joe Biden
Hillary Clinton
John Edwards

Then the Republicans:

Ron Paul
Rudy Giuliani
John McCain
Mitt Romney
Fred Thompson
Duncan Hunter
Mike Huckabee

Based on this (and viability - I've long been a fan of Kucinich), I guess I'm an Obama man - though I've been backing Edwards the most. And no, I don't plan to have the quiz make my political selection.

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