geeking out

Let the Games Begin!

Ahhhh. The London 2012 Olympic Games are finally here. Spending the last year in London was especially exciting (and frustrating) because of the upcoming quadrennial event. There was LOTS of construction. And the city only seemed to get more crowded. I visited the Olympic park in May, and by that point it still had a long way to go (see my personal pics below). Part of me is glad I’m not there (did I mention the crowds??), but the other part of me is also sad that I’ll miss out on the global camaraderie that comes out of the games. That’s the main reason why I love the Olympics – it’s a truly global event, and we can find inspiration by some amazing people, many of them overcoming unimaginable obstacles (let the underdog stories begin!). And I love me a good Olympic montage, complete with a John Williams’ score. You see the tears of pain, but you also see the tears of joy. The Olympics show us people in these incredible moments. How can anyone forget the moment the USA men’s swimming team won the relay in Beijing? I specifically remember where I was and who I was with when I watched that – my friends and I replayed it over and over again since it was so thrilling and just made us so happy. I can’t wait to watch and see what memorable moments this year brings. And I really hope that Danny Boyle and his team can bring us a spectacular opening ceremony…it’s not like the Chinese put them under pressure or anything…

Views of the Olympic Park

Flip him the bird

How fantastic is this poster for the Flight of the Conchords Australian tour? It works on so many levels. I’m really digging the artist’s other work, here.

(the moment I was introduced to and fell in love with Aziz Ansari)

Hungry for The Hunger Games

I am loving this fake Hunger Games poster, courtesy of Entertainment Weekly, who decided to have some fun in imagining how the film would be interpreted if handled by different directors. This one envisioned with Roger Corman (Little Shop of Horrors, and other B horror films) at the helm. See all sixteen of them here. Having read the series over a year ago now, I’m relishing re-reading the first novel this week in a last-minute effort to remind myself of the intricacies of this riveting story. Hopefully I’ll be back next week with a review of the film, if only those teensters don’t sell out every showing over the weekend. Ahh the power of the 12-19 year old demographic!

Everybody Loves Ewan (How could you not?!)

To put it bluntly, I share Louis C.K.’s sentiments about wanting to be, um, “involved” with Ewan McGregor. I first took notice of Ewan in The Phantom Menace of course, but the real infatuation began with Moulin Rouge – how can you not fall in love with that charming smile and that voice? – as I’m sure was the same for most teenage girls upon seeing that film. From there it seemed as if every weekend in high school was spent discovering more of Ewan’s body of work (Trainspotting, Velvet Goldmine, Black Hawk Down)…and his body. Seriously, that man is naked in so many of his films. But he’s had such great recent work too (The Ghost Writer, Beginners), I think now more than ever he’s in his prime. Plus, he’s so cool he rode a motorcycle around the world. Twice.  He is definitely in my top 5 of celebrity crushes that you’re allowed to sleep with if in a committed relationship. Definitely. So I can totally see where Louis C.K. is coming from. I think he’s spot on, in a completely vulgar and kind of creepy way.

Happy Academy Awards Day!

Also known as my favorite day of the year, the 84th Annual Oscars are finally here, after what has felt like the longest film award season yet. Perhaps that’s due to the fact that most of the categories are locked in, (i.e. The Artist is going to win pretty much everything) yet that doesn’t stop me from enjoying the telecast one bit less. And hey! Billy Crystal is back! So things are looking good – and much better than last year. To get you in the mood, why don’t you check out these spot-on and enlightening infographics from Vulture on all the best picture nominees (thanks to my sister for sending me the links!).

Check out the rest of the entertaining infographics here!

Figwit Lives! From Rivendell to the Oscars…

As a huge fan of Kiwi Bret McKenzie, I am so thrilled for his Oscar nomination for Best Original Song, even if he is up against Sergio Mendes. And also as someone who has spent a significant amount of time in New Zealand, I am so fond of the way he talks about his childhood memory of watching “The Dog Show” (it’s actually “A Dog’s Show” according to Wikipedia, and is appropriately referenced in an episode of Flight of the Conchords). I also love this clip for revealing that the McKenzies are Elven royalty when it comes to being LOTR extras (well, most of the McKenzies anyway). For anyone that is not aware of the Bret McKenzie story, you might be interested in learning that Bret was not just an elf extra in Fellowship of the Ring, he was an Internet and LOTR sensation – earning the fan-created name Figwit (acronym for “Frodo is great…who is THAT?!” based on the reaction of a fan pleasantly surprised by the ethereal beauty of Bret’s natural Elven qualities). Meanwhile, Bret was also a member of three musical acts: reggae band The Black Seeds, The Wellington International Ukulele Orchestra, and of course Flight of the Conchords. Quite a repertoire if you ask me. In researching his Figwit days in further detail, I came across a made-for-television documentary about it that aired in New Zealand just as McKenzie and Conchords partner Jemaine Clement landed the HBO deal to adapt their live comedy act into a series. Watch the documentary below (it’s in five parts, only an hour long) and you’ll see some great footage of LOTR cast and crew, of McKenzie as an even shier and more modest guy than he is today, Jemaine Clement looking ridiculously young with shaggy hair, and some really entertaining footage of LOTR superfans.*

Figwit Documentary

Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5

*This content includes fake elf ears and gratuitous amounts of awkward silence

The Merriment of The Muppets

q&a with The Muppets' director James Bobin (right)

Part of my life in London revolves around attempts to do “cool” things that this capital city has to offer. So when I saw recently that the BFI (British Film Institute), in partnership with the London Comedy Film Festival (LOCO), was premiering The Muppets two weeks before the official UK release (more than two months after the US – a rant I shall have on a future post), I jumped at the opportunity to get tickets. Then to my horror, they were sold out for the one-time showing. Good thing I found out that the BFI releases standby tickets, and good thing I harassed the front desk staff (something I learned from my own work experience, that yes, it pays off to ask because extra tickets are often released). I was able to snatch up two of four tickets left for my friend and I. There were no commercials, just the adorably fantastic Toy Story short, the film, and a Q&A with the director, James Bobin (also a director/writer for Flight of the Conchords and Da Ali G Show). No big deal. I must say, I haven’t consistently laughed that much in a long time. And when I wasn’t laughing, I had a huge grin on my face. Yes, the movie is ridiculously silly and preposterous – which makes it so wonderful! All of the tongue and cheek humor and random cameos (Feist?!?! love it.) were a delight. What made the experience even more entertaining was the fact that we were clearly in a theater full of (hardcore) fans – everyone got the inside jokes, everyone embraced the campyness. Everyone went with it and enjoyed the ride. I loved the new addition, Walter. I loved that all kids in Smalltown, USA enthusiastically love school. I loved the maniacal laughs. I loved Jason Segel’s over-the-top enthusiasm. I loved the songs written by Bret Mckenzie. I loved that Jim Parsons was Walter’s human alter-ego. I loved that Gonzo owned a recycled toilet company. I loved that everyone traveled by map. I loved Kermit and the crew singing The Rainbow Connection. And I really just loved seeing all the muppets back together again. Long live The Muppets!

Here’s the Oscar-nominated “Man or Muppet”

Concerning Hobbits…and My 14 Year old Self

As a current grad student, I spend much of my time reading and writing for assignments, which obviously means I have a great “Study” playlist on my iTunes. No seriously, I do. One of my favorite pastimes is creating playlists. It’s an incredible waste of time, but I take pleasure from organizing this aspect of my life into categories. But I digress. Currently I’ve been on an LOTR kick (Lord of the Rings, for all of you who are cooler than me) and listening to the soundtracks on repeat. And with The Hobbit trailer now out (OMG!), I’ve suddenly been transported back in time. I read the entire series when the films were announced, and finished them before their release. I saw The Fellowship of the Ring five times in the theatre. The Two Towers three. And The Return of the King four. My mom was embarrassed to call me her daughter, I’m sure. Yet she drove me to the cinema anyway, and supported my obsession by allowing me to attend the midnight showings (still the most fun midnight showings I’ve been too!) and even, to her and my sister’s dismay, bought me one of those lifesize cardboard cut-outs of the four hobbits. Not even kidding. Although life size in this case means they were about four feet tall. Anyway, my point in all of this, while I’m listening to the soundtrack, I’m replaying the accompanying scenes from the film in my head. And I can remember them vividly, almost to the point that I find myself tearing up at the same point I would watching the films. It is remarkable that eleven years later (wow really?!) and sadly not having rewatched any of the films in their entirety in the past few years (after all, it’s a huge time commitment to watch the extended DVD versions), that these moments still resonate with me in exactly the same way as the first time I heard the music and saw the films. This is why I love media and why I am studying it, and why I want to have a career involved in it, in whatever capacity. The power of film can be paralyzing, and when I think of myself eleven, ten, nine years ago when seeing LOTR in the theatres and how much love I had for them, I’m so happy that love hasn’t faded one bit. I’m realizing more and more as I get older how important it is that film has this quality to transport you to your past self, remind you how you felt the first time. Remind you how you felt as a teenager and how sometimes it’s not too different from the present. I suppose it’s our best form of time travel really. And I will happily travel back in time, whether it’s visiting my six year old self watching Star Wars and having my true obsession with film begin, rediscovering a sense of adventure with my nine year old self and The Goonies, or remembering all the raunchy laughs with my fellow 18 year old friends and The 40-Year-Old Virgin, because they are all cherished moments that I will continue to remember, thanks to film.

Here is a clip of my favorite moment in Fellowship, maybe even the series. The sound mixing here is incredible and the whole moment, particularly when the music fades and Merry and Pippin start to fight back, is so beautifully done and gives me chills every time. And a bit of Aragorn kicking some ass never hurt anybody. Well, besides all those Orcs…