Sep 30, 2012

September recap

This September started off very strong, but dosed off after the first week. Let me explain why: I handed it my dissertation on the 30th of August, then, from the 1st of September, I think, I got to participate the Fall Preview organised by the Film Distributors' Association, where I got to watch a lot of great movies. 15 out of the 16 viewed this month were because of this event.

After 4 days of intense film viewing, I packed by bags and went back home to Bucharest- I was sad to leave London, it wasn't actually by choice. Anyway, the next 3 weeks were spent adjusting to the new life and my time and mood for movies were practically nonexistent  but thank God I have a good final balance, and I have to thank the London event for it :)

Anyway, here's the list!

Movies 16
Madagascar 3 [2012]
Hope Springs [2012]
The Knot [2012]
Private Peaceful [2012]
Holy Motors [2012]
Anna Karenina [2012]
The Sweeney [2012]
Untouchable [2011]
Sister [2012]
Rust and Bone [2012]
End of watch [2012]
Frankenweenie [2012]
Lawless [2012]
Sightseers [2012]
Now is good [2012]
The Apartment [1960]

Books Sadly, I haven't had time to finish any books this month :( Hopefully, I'll be more successful the next one!

As usual, I ended disappointed in my September, but I'm not going to promise or hope for a better month- que sera, sera! :)

What did you do/see/read this September? anything good?

Sep 27, 2012

Small Roles... Big Performances blogathon

The lovely Ruth from FlixChatter had this great idea of highlighting smaller, but still impressive performances in movies, and asked me to be part of it.

The idea of this blog-a-thon is "to shine a spotlight on the 'unsung heroes' if you will, the overlooked performers who add so much richness/entertainment value to the film no matter how brief their appearance is, but yet they don't get the credit they so deserve." For general rules and other details, if you are interested in participating, click here:

When I first received Ruth's email, I had to think long and hard and even leave it for another day to actually find a performance like she was asking, I don't know why I found it so difficult to do or find. I am sure I have forgotten many great small performances, but this is what I thought of when I got the proposition. I have several choices: a very small part that maybe isn't very powerful, but that had an impact over me, a bigger, more appreciated role, and the last, the one I like and think fits the best Ruth's request. So taking that into consideration, here are my 3 choices:

1. The cigarette guy aka Carlos in A Single Man- there's no surprise in finding out that the part of the mysterious, yet highly attractive man who asks for a cigarette outside a supermarket in Tom Ford's A Single Man is a famous model that goes by the name of Jon Kortajarena. He may have an extremely small role in this stunning adaptation of the Christopher Isherwood novel, but for me it was quite memorable. It may have been for the predictable and shallow reason of me considering him to be a very attractive man, but I also think he had real charisma and appeal, making that scene ten times more sexier and sensual than a normal model/actor would have managed. Plus, it helped us understand George better and it was visually, very well made. Here's a clip of that moment:

2. Jared Leto in American Psycho- people don't give him as much credit as he deserves. I never actually understood how good an actor he was until this movie, and I haven't even seen Requiem for a dream, in which I've heard he is fantastic. He always has smaller, yet interesting and memorable parts, and American Psycho is no exception. He plays Paul Allen, one of Bateman's colleagues, who Patrick has a grudge on, because of Allen's success and charm. Leto portrays the wacky, cocky character wonderfully and blends into the crazy, unbelievable world quite easily. Here's a clip of the movie- he is in it for a short time, but the whole scene is pretty great:

3. The housekeeper from Schindler's list-Helen Hirsch played by Embeth Davidtz- Schindler's list is one of my favorite movies of all time and, in a sea of amazing actors, stunning scenes and memorable performances, I still remember her very well. Firstly for her beauty and quiet demeanour. Secondly, for the way she brought humanity to the story, the environment and the house, and more specifically, to Ralph Fiennes' character. I absolutely love the scene in the basement when he discovers her bathing, the fascinating conversation between the two and change in attitude of Amon. This could have been a turning point for him, but it wasn't, just because of his nature- no matter how much he tried to look at things from different perspectives or listen to his heart, he couldn't change. Still, Embeth's performance is breathtaking and I loved it. 

With the exception of the third choice, I am not very convinced that the first two are awards-worthy or fantastic performances, but I just wanted to highlight them one way or another. You can call them Honorable Mentions, as number 3 is the final and, probably, best choice!

Hope you enjoyed it, can't wait to see what the others chose!

Sep 24, 2012

The Apartment [1960]

The Apartment is a 1960 romantic comedy written and directed by Billy Wilder. It tells the story of Baxter, a New York bachelor who often "rents" his apartment to his friends from the office, or better said, his bosses, out of courtesy, but also in hope of getting a promotion. His neighbors think he is a ladies man and is always partying, but they couldn't be farther from the truth, as Baxter is a sweet, rather naive, incapable of saying NO man.

Trouble and comedy arises when he finds out the woman he likes, Fran, the lady who runs the elevator at the office, is in a relationship with Sheldrake, the man responsible with promotions in the building, and, to make things worse, they are using his place to meet. After a quarrel between the two lovers in Baxter's apartment, she tries to kill herself, but the sweet young man comes in and saves the day, daring to do more and finally admit his feelings to her and to the older man.

As one would expect from a Billy Wilder script, it is funny, charming, full of misunderstandings, complications and hilarious situations. And although I haven't seen all of his movies, I still felt that it was too...Billy Wilder?!? His style is easy to recognise and this film frequently made me think "Hmm...I've seen/heard something like this before", plus the characters are very similar to the 50s comedies with Marilyn Monroe. Don't get me wrong, I liked it, but it certainly wasn't refreshing or extremely interesting to watch (that being said, I also felt the movie went on a little too much, but maybe it was just me).

The casting was spot on, and I just adored the two leads, Jack Lemmon and Shirley MacLaine. Lemmon portrays the sweet and naive man in a very charming, entertaining way, and Shirley MacLaine as Fran, the sweet, sexy, sultry, sassy, lovely woman operating the elevator, was the standout for me- maybe because I have never seen her before in an early days film, but I thought she was remarkable. One thing that was off for me was the resolving of the conflict between the two the end- it felt a little bit rushed, I felt like the transition and his change would have been done better and more fluidly, and the romantic aspect could have been more explored.

To conclude, I can say The apartment is a perfectly enjoyable and sweet Billy Wilder romantic comedy that you will like, but not particularly be impressed by. Still, it is worth a watch!

"Why can't I fall in love with a nice guy like you?"

Sep 21, 2012

Can you recommend me...?

Hey there lovely blog readers,

How's your day going?

Mine is fine, a little bit melancholic because of the grey, rainy weather, but otherwise, pretty good.

As you might remember, I endeavor to write a Recommendations post every month, with the music, books, magazines and/or websites I like at the moment. Now, I am writing to you with a small request. Can you recommend me some things? Like, for example:

- What are your favorite all-time and/or current documentaries?
- Best/most interesting music films/documentaries? (bands, artists, music movements, events, concerts etc)
- Do you know any good websites, if not, books, to help me learn Guitar (acoustic) by myself?
- What are your favorite non-film related blogs out there? I'm also looking for lifestyle or analytical/essay type of blogs, you know, with real people and real thoughts, not necessarily cultural related

I am looking forward to your suggestions and I thank you in advance!

I hope you have a great day!

Sep 18, 2012

Untouchable [2011]

During my intense film viewing at the beginning of this month, I had the pleasure of seeing a wonderful French movie called Untouchable. It tells the real story of two men from different social classes reunited by a lovely friendship, which forms when Driss, a young man from the wrong side of the tracks, gets a job as a caretaker at the house of Philippe, a quadriplegic. Directed and written by Oliver Nakache and Eric Toledano, Untouchable is a lovely story that deserves your attention and love.

The strength and beauty of the film lies in the quality of the script, which manages to mix an emotional story of hardship and problems with the funny interaction of two totally different men. Featuring funny and silly lines from Driss and sarcastic, sometimes moving retorts from Philippe, the two carry on their shoulders the weight of the movie, and they do it wonderfully, as their chemistry is palpable and very enjoyable to watch.

Driss is a young man who grew up in a family of too many kids, who is now trying to get away and find a job. He ends up being hired as a caretaker for mister Philippe, who sees something in him, although he isn't the obvious choice. Or maybe the old man just wanted a change of scenery, a breath of fresh air and honesty around him and Driss provided that. Whilst the young guy is crazy, spontaneous and says exactly what's on his mind, with no reservations, Philippe, having been brought up in another environment, is pretentious, taciturn and hard to please. But the interesting thing is that they complete each other, as corny as it sounds- they offer to each other what they can't have or do for themselves and that leads to a great friendship. The old man teaches the young one about art and music, offering him a nice roof to live under, and Driss pushes the quadriplegic man to live life more, to dare to do more, in spite of his incapacity.

The performances are great and deserve credit. the super funny Omar Sy who maintained the easygoing and cool aspect of the script and worked perfectly with Francois Cluzet, a great French actor who shined through his supposed illness and delivered a heartfelt performance. Other worthy mentions are Anne Le Ny as Yvonne, one of the helpers in the house and Audrey Fleurot as Magalie, the young, beautiful assistant that Driss has a crush on.

I don't usually watch a lot of foreign, or more specifically, French movies, but Untouchable is worth every penny spent and minutes wasted seeing it. Its warmth, funny lines and wonderful performances make this film an unmissable one- you should see it, it will brighten up your day and make you laugh multiple times.

Sep 16, 2012

Random Recommendations

I always like to talk to people about things I've seen or read or listened to, so this monthly post of Recommendations is a pleasure to do. Here's what I've been up!

My playlist has been pretty diverse lately, from folk or guitar songs (Lucy Rose and Michael Kiwanuka), to indie rock and dance. Here's a short list of my most played songs in the last few weeks:

Bastille- Bad Blood
Lucy Rose- Middle of the bed
Foo Fighters- My Hero
Jessie Ware- Night light
Grimes- Genesis
Michael Kiwanuka- Tell me a tale
Daughter- Love
The Maccabees- Child
Jeff Buckley- Everybody here wants you
You me at six- No one does it better

For movie lovers, I highly recommend Little White Lies- wonderfully packed, with amazing designs and drawings, it has one of the best interviews and articles around. This month's piece about On The Road is amazing, and so is its interview with KStew. If you find in your local store or online, please do check it out.

I am now reading Bob Dylan- Chronicles: Volume one, and it's a pretty interesting read. I love the way he describes and talks about the 60s and his adventures in New York, although I do find it to be a little bit out of focus- he goes from one character, or year, to another and not only is it confusing, but it makes you lose interest at some points. That being said, I am still intrigued, and I will definitely finish it, his writing style is wonderful. 

I'm planning to read 1Q84- Haruki Murakami. [From Amazon: "A love story, a mystery, a fantasy, a novel of self-discovery, a dystopia to rival George Orwell’s—1Q84 is Haruki Murakami’s most ambitious undertaking yet: an instant best seller in his native Japan, and a tremendous feat of imagination from one of our most revered contemporary writers."]

Have you read it yet? should I do it?

TV shows
One type of TV shows I love to watch are crime series, you know, like Criminal Minds or CSI. The ones I am currently seeing and recommend, in case you are looking for something similar, are:

Criminal Minds- case by case TV show run by CBS, about the FBI Behavioral Unit- their job is to understand, locate and capture serial killers. I love the cases and some of the characters are adorable (Doctor Reid, Garcia)

Castle- Wildly famous mystery novelist Richard Castle, learns that a real-world copycat killer has started staging murder scenes depicted in his novels.Rick is soon questioned by NYPD Detective Kate Beckett (Stana Katic, "The Spirit"), a very bright, aggressive detective who keeps her investigations under tight rein. Rick and Kate's styles instantly clash, yet sparks begin to fly, leading both to danger and a hint of romance as Castle steps in to help find the killer.And once that case is solved, he and Beckett build upon their new relationship as they look to solve strange homicides in New York - as much fun as one can have with death & murder [official synopsis]. Again, the characters and the chemistry is what sets this show apart from others, from my point of view. 

What have you been reading/watching/listening to lately? Please do let me know in the comments!

Sep 12, 2012

Hope Springs [2012]

Hope Springs is an easy romantic comedy, directed by David Frankel and written by Vanessa Taylor. It follws the story of Kay and Arnold, played by Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones, a married couple who, after 31 years, don't have any passion or interest left to keep them together. Kay decides to change things and books a 1 week intensive program with doctor Feld played by Steve Carrell, hoping that her husband will learn to love and touch her again.

Hope Springs has an interesting script, a little bit static, but if you like in-depth analysis of relationships or personalities, then this is the movie for you. Moreover, it's a character study of the in and outs of people and some of their sessions are actually really interesting to witness, since thy uncover not only feelings and past situations, but also character traits and reasons behind some of the actions.

Although it is heavy on analysis, it does also feature funny, very awkwards scenes, that sometimes make you cringe, because well, they are older, and you feel like your parents could be like that, too. The cinema or the hotel room are just two examples of those kinds of moments.

Performance wise, as you would expect from a cast like this, eveything runs smoothly. Meryl Streep is just fascinated to watch; she plays a woman that does and knows everything, in the perfect housewife way, but hasn't actually experienced life. In one of the sessions, when she's tearing up, there is a close-up on the expression on her face- she showed years of experience and talent through one look, and that's just something that very few actresses nowadays can do; I love her. Tommy Lee Jones is Arnold, her husband, a very grumpy, complaining man, who's oblivious to his marriage problems. His chemistry with Streep was very good and believable and they worked perfectly with Steve Carrell, the third major actor. He gave a surprising performance, as he played a very serious part- I was actually expecting him to crack a joke or do something stupid, but no, he maintained his part throughout the movie and it kind of worked.

Overall, Hope Springs is a good movie that will make your night more pleasant, but of which you will forget in a day or two. Still worth checking it out, but maybe on DVD.

Sep 10, 2012

Lawless [2012]

Lawless is a 2012 drama movie about the lives of three brothers (Jack, Howard and Forrest) who fight to survive and keep their business afloat in the prohibition era. John Hillcoat directed a Nick Cave script based on a book written by Matt Bondurant.

One of the most anticipated movies of this fall, Lawless features an ensemble cast with big names like Tom Hardy, Jessica Chastain, Shia LaBeouf, Gary Oldman and Guy Pearce, and promises a hell of a ride, not only by looking at the names involved, but also by checking out the synopsis and possible outcome. Many say it's a gangster movie; it is set in the prohibition era, when liquor was hard to find and distribute, and there are a lot guns and violence used. Actually, when it's violent, it's fucking violent- a lot of force and strength, hard hitting punches and blood-heavy moments. Some scenes are unsettling to watch and this kind of violence affects you more than the usual guns firing or horror movie killings. The story follows the Bondurant brothers of Franklin, Virginia, who were one of the very few people who didn't give in into the pressure of the petty thugs and protected their business with all costs during those hard times. Guy Pearce, as Charlie Rakes, is the classic monster, villain and all around bad guy, giving probably the standout performance of the film, while Gary Oldman, as Mafia man Floyd Banner, kicks ass and proves his ability from the start, giving a very believable gangster performance in under 1 minute; he has a surprising change in character development, but is underused. Maybe that's where the problem lies with this film - the little flaws of the script that are not visible immediately, but that ultimately affect the overall opinion of it: underdeveloped characters, unbelievable stories and lines, and so on.

Otherwise, Lawless is pretty wonderful to watch. It has beautiful cinematography, it's well directed and the soundtrack is appropriate to the action. The sets and costumes are very good and it has the right feel of the era. As for the casting, there was little to no fault to it, although I had my doubts with Shia LaBeouf, mainly because I just find him to be quite annoying. By the end, he proved me wrong, in most scenes, but then again, I don't think he had a challenging part to play. The two best performances definitely come from Guy Pearce and Tom Hardy. The first one, as the wild, control-freak, obsessed, dirty police force, proves to the world, yet again, his immense talent, and I am pretty sure we will definitely see him around the awards ceremonies this year for his Supporting Role. Tom Hardy is probably one of the best and the most underrated actors of our time and his performance in Lawless just enforces this opinion- he plays the grumpy, distant, no-emotions Forrest in an amazing way, demanding attention and respect for his courage, unwillingness to surrender and loyalty. Other big names are, unfortunately, underused, and that was a shame- Gary Oldman barely had 10 minutes on screen, and the two leading ladies, Chastain and Wasikowsa, could have had more developed and complex characters to base their performances on, but still, they did a good job.

In the end, you will leave the cinema thinking "That was a very good movie", but not being too impressed by it. I liked it and I suggest you should see, but don't go in with high expectations- somehow, somewhere, it doesn't quite deliver its promises all the way.

Sep 7, 2012

Anna Karenina [2012]

"There can only be misery or great happiness for us"

Recently I had the pleasure of seeing Anna Karenina and oh, what a treat that was, I loved it. As you might know, it tells the story of Anna, a married woman who starts a scandalous affair with a much younger man. Based on a book by Leo Tolstoi, with a screenplay by Tom Stoppard and directed by one of my favorites, Joe Wright, this wonderful Imperial Russian classic romance will enchant you, although not completely move you.

Anna, a faithful and loving woman to Alexei Karenin, a prominent figure in Russian politics, meets, in her trip to Moscow, Count Vronski, which is to be wed to Kitty, a close friend to Anna's brother, Oblonski (Matthew Macfadyen). After her departure, he realizes he can't let go and travels to Sankt Petersburg to see her again, and so things evolve into a scandalous affair that ruins, not only her married life and her reputation, but also her health. By the end, she goes crazy as she believes her love for Vronski is not enough anymore, and begins a paranoid, mood shifting phase of her life. Although their love is still strong and he does not give up on his mistress- he loves and understands her, despite all of her antics, things go south, and the end is dramatic.

As we would expect, Wright's vision and direction is what makes this movie shine- one of the most innovative, visually beautiful and interesting methods he used for Anna Karenina was the use of stages. How can I properly explain? The intermissions, the breaks from one scene to another where made as you were actually present in a theatre and you're seeing the decor move, but all done in a much more dynamic, fluid way. There is also a mix of slow and fast pace between some acts, with an almost musical-type feel to it, that made it even more charming. This combinations were all appropriately made to highlight either a character or a storyline. This definitely set the film apart in the beginning and made it more much more appealing. Unfortunately, that didn't continue throughout the whole film, and many observed and punished him for that. Still, it's a lovely method that I have rarely seem, so I was intrigued and entertained.

One other absolutely strong point is the art direction and all sets and costumes- the latter will definitely be a major contender for awards this season. Visually, few bad things can be said about it- I personally didn't find any flaws although I am sure some will. The cinematography is stunning, the use of close-ups and interesting shots makes the film much more magical and attractive and that gives the characters more life and passion. The score has the same details as Atonement, like, for example, the use of stamps as part of the orchestral piece. It works very well with the rest of the songs to create the atmosphere required for an Imperial Russian drama.

I do want to mention the dancing scenes- I particularly liked them because of how it was directed, but also because of the choreography and the lovely use of hands. It felt quite magical, like you were in a fairytale and everything floated gracefully; it all culminated with a much more frantic, angry moment of jealousy and passion, and that was beautifully scored, too.

The casting was quite on point, with few bad choices. Kera Knightley, as the main character, Anna Karenina, did an amazing job, but still, she didn't impress or stand out for me. Don't get me wrong, everything was very well acted, but I don't feel this is a memorable or awards worthy performance. As for Aaron Johnson, the Count Vronski, I started off thinking something's not right with him- it felt too gimmicky, not quite convinceable, but by the end I warmed up to him. He did a good job overall, especially in the second part. I think Jude Law had a challenging part, just because he had to stretch himself out of his comfort zone and it paid off- he gave a powerful, sincere performance. The standout for me was Matthew MacFayden- he shined in all of his scenes and gave a wonderful performance. I would push him for supporting actor awards, but I don't think he has any chances. The cast overall is very strong and all delivered: Kelly Macdonald, Olivia Williams, Emily Watson, Alicia Vikander, Domhnall Gleeson and so on.

As you can see, I was rather impressed by Anna Karenina- for me it worked in all levels: script, character development, performances, visual appeal, direction, entertainment, everything. But I am not saying it was perfect- one common opinion I have heard is that it isn't very consistent and that it lack some extreme emotion or passion in some parts, and I partly agree with that, but I was able to take that aside and enjoy it. I really do recommend it and I hope you like it (it will probably more entertaining for the female population than the male one, but men, please do see it).

Sep 5, 2012

Aziza's Picks- one year anniversary!

On the 5th of September last year I was posting my first article on my new blog, Aziza's picks, hoping to embark in an interesting journey of discovering new movies, perfecting my English and making new friends. It's 5.09.2012 now and I can proudly say I have accomplished that. This blog helped me so much, not only in gaining more information and knowledge, but also forming great relationships, meeting new, exciting people and developing myself personally and professionally, as it did help with my studies, one way or another, as well.

I didn't knew what to do for this special occasion, but I remembered that blogathon that was going on a couple of months about personal film facts and I said this was a nice way of celebrating. I am sure some of the things below you probably already know, but I hope to surprise you with others. Here we go:

1. My passion for films started rather late, but I was always fascinated by arts, especially dance and music. Film came later, when I discovered the beauty and complexity of it
2. THE movie in heavy rotation in my house was Dirty Dancing (I wanted to be a dancer when I was little, plus I loved the music and Johnny was so handsome)
3....and then Cry Baby (again, music and a sexy Johnny Depp)
4.....but sometimes I would still go back to basics and see Beauty and the Beast :)
5. The first movie I saw in cinema was Wag the Dog, with Dustin Hoffman and Robert de Niro- it was released in 1997, so I guess I was....8!?!
6. I saw Titanic on a VCR tape, which I received as a gift for my birthday, almost a year after releasing it in cinemas and I remember I didn't cry....and I still don't cry to it, even now.
7. Our family would sometimes do movie night, usually on a Sunday, because that's when most good films would be on TV in my country. The best of the 90s/early 2000s that I still remember? My best friend's wedding....
8....Legends of the fall
9....and Die hard series
10. One time, I wasn't allowed to watch the Sunday night film because I hadn't finished my math homework. I missed Last of the Mohicans. I still haven't watched it to this day.
11. I have to thank Beverly Hills, MTV, my sisters and the endless movies I watched without subtitles for my good English.
12. Three things a movie needs to get my attention and love: beautiful cinematography and/or direction: I will always remember the fantastic way Hunger, Taxi Driver, There will be blood or Drive were directed. Likewise, with the cinematography of Tree of Life, Schindler's list or Hugo, just to name a few.
13...the 2nd thing: character-driven stories. I am sucker for scripts that have character development and let's us discover an individual
14...and 3rd: unusual topic. Crazy premises? Unbelievable storylines?Wacky characters? I am in
15. I really like close-ups.
16. Hands down the sexiest performance of all time- well, of what I have seen so far in my life- is Marlon Brando in A streetcar named Desire. I literally had to fan myself and stop from starring. Wow!
17. Actually, A Streetcar Named Desire was the movie that made me want to start a blog in the first place. I loved it so much that I felt the need to talk and write about it, so I did, and here we are now.
18. I love the smoking habit and how it's visualised in the 1950s movies- "do you have a lighter?"
19. I don't like to spend too much money on DVDs, CDs or books. I only do it if it's something I really love or want. I know most will disagree with me, but looking from the practical, rational point of view, if I can find it online for free, why pay for it? Yes, yes, I know, artist recognition and so on- that's why some things I do pay for
20. That being said, I have developed a passion for buying used DVDs at 3 or 4 pounds at a store in Soho.
21. I once found there a copy of Memento for 1 pound= about 2 dollars. Of course I bought it immediately
22. I usually don't watch the extra scenes or features on DVDs, and I don't remember seeing a film with film commentary- it seems so weird for me, I don't think I would be able to concentrate, but then again, Alex keeps mentioning it, so I think I will try it soon
23. As most bloggers usually are, I am the film expert in my circle of friends and in my family- they always ask me what I have seen lately.
24. That being said, I don't know how, but most movies I take my friends to see, they end up not liking it, which makes me really sad
25. After a recent interview for my dissertation with a lovely person in the acquisition department of a big distribution company, I decided that is what I want to do- all she does is read scripts and go to all the film festivals and choose films. Can I do that, too, please?
26. Former and current male actor crushes: Henry Cavill, Johnny Depp, Clive Owen, Garrett Hedlund, Michael Fassbender, Tom Hiddleston, Benedict Cumberbatch and so on- observe the British repetition? :)
27. I do think Angelina Jolie is one of the most beautiful women in the world, although she is too skinny these days. Still, a fantastic woman, I admire her for many things
28. ...and I really can't stand Jennifer Aniston. It has nothing to do with the Jolie thing. I just don't like Aniston's face, expression, personality etc. She just annoys me.
29. Very embarrassing confession- I have never seen a Stanley Kubrick film....but I do have DVDs of his movies waiting for me, so don't worry, this little problem will soon be resolved
30. My filmography is pretty limited, if I think about it. I don't go to the cinema that often and I don't watch that many films per month- considering I started taking the film passion seriously recently, there are a lot of films I haven't seen, unfortunately.
31. That is why my To Watch list is never ending, which I am ok with, since I will never run out of movies to see
32. Packing for home, I just realised I bought an obscene number of DVDs and books from London- that kind of contradicts with n.19, but I guess living in UK changed my usual habit.
33. My first official press/preview screening happened this Sunday- I saw Madagascar 3 and I loved it, both the movie and the experience
34. Since I started this blog, I always had this idea/dream of becoming a professional film critic and going to million screenings, but after 3 days of this, I changed my mind. It's not that I don't like the job, it's just that I noticed that most critics/ film lovers who go see so many movies are much more critical and extremely hard to please- some don't want to be entertained; I don't want to offend anyone, I respect everyone, but I don't want to be like that, I prefer my ignorance sometimes.
35. Do you ever that feeling that your blog name is weird? Whenever I got asked what's my blog's name at the event I went to yesterday, it felt so weird and awkward to say it out loud...
36....maybe that's because extremely few people who know me personally know that I write a film's blog, and those that do, haven't seen it yet..
37....If you're wondering why, well it's just because, for me, this blog is a way out of the real world, a magic place where I can say what I want and talk about the things I love without sounding too weird or caring about what others think; I feel like I can talk more freely and be more daring on my blog or on Twitter than in real life
38. That's one of the reasons I love bloggers and I think I can safely say I have made some great friends through this blog
39. The two most beautiful cinema theatres I have ever been to are the NFT1 at the British Film Institute/Southbank and Empire Leicester screen 1, both in London. I always have the urge to take photos, but then I think people will look at me in a weird way or think I will record the film, so I never do
40. The cinema prices these days are insanely high- from an economical point of view, I get it, but honestly, if they will keep raising the, don't be surprised if I use Torrent or something like that
41. The most annoying person I have ever sat next to in a theatre was a woman who kept describing and telling her friend not only what was on the screen, but also what happens in the book and her opinions on it- she talked like crazy and that was the only time I had to ask someone to be quiet. She gave me a horrible look, but eventually stopped. Oh, and it was during Harry Potter 7
42. I need something to drink during a movie, preferably Coke, I can't watch it without it
43. I am one of those very few people who didn't like or, better said, wasn't impressed with Lord of the rings. Sorry, didn't do much to me, although I must admit it was beautifully made.
44. Battle of the summer blockbuster: Avengers or Dark Knight Rises? For me, Avengers, hands down. I need that DVD just for the gag reel :)
45. I don't think I've ever read comics, and I really want to, but I don't know what to start with and where to get them. Do you have any ideas?
46. If I could be part of a film team, I would be the scriptwriter or producer, although I am not sure how good I would be at any of the two jobs. I do aspire to write at least one script in the next 2 years, even if it doesn't go anywhere.
47. Speaking of scripts, I wish I was a better writer, I wish I knew how to use words and metaphors and create a magic world jus with a phrase. I have a notebook half full of quotes- movie, poems, lyrics, essays and others. I just like to read them from time to time, they somehow change my mood and inspire me.
48. Do you take notes during a film? I do, most of the times- usually a key word or two, three words to remind me to talk a certain aspect of the movie; sometimes I write down phrases, but only if I can pause it so I don't miss much of it
49. As much as I like realism in a movie, my main reasons of watching films is to be entertained, to escape this world and go into another and forget about my life for two hours and discover another one.
50. I don't think I will ever get rid of the movie bug and I hope I won't, it's been too fun and interesting so far

Well, that's it, I hope you enjoyed it! 

I just want to thank everyone who has visited and/or commented here- it means so much to me that people would take time to read and talk about I have wrote. I love everyone of you. Special thanks to all my lovely blog/Twitter friends- Alex, Stevee, Ruth, Ruth, Margaret aka Sati, Nikhat, Max, Scott, Tyler, SDG, Dan, and so many more,  sorry if I forgot, but you know I love you, right?

Happy birthday to me/the blog :)) Here's to another better, more successful year!

p.s. I really want a cool, new, visually beautiful banner for Aziza's Picks, but I am horrible at drawing or designing one. If someone wants to help, please do let me know- I can provide virtual hugs, blog posts or whatever you need :) just let me know! Thanks!

Sep 4, 2012

The Full Monty [1997] + a short screening madness update

I recently re-watched Full Monty and I must say, I still liked it as much as I did the first time I saw it. The Full Monty is one of the most famous, most loved British films ever, because of its success in highlighting a social problem in a funny, entertaining way. It tells the story of a group of unemployed men who decide to put on a striptease show for the local women in order to raise some money, since their job hunting so far wasn't that successful.

As far as British movies go, I think this one is quite memorable. It's not perfect, but its beauty lies in the fact that it treats the British culture and challenges with a lot of humour, heart and realism, and here is where the film's magic sits. It has the accent, the dirty mouths, the crazy characters, and the actual story is both funny and heartwarming. Some scenes, in particular, are hilarious: the auditions, stealing Flashdance, the practices (the Arsenal analogy, and especially, the part where they get undressed in Gerald's house). My favorite moment has to be the dancing in line at the job center, I just love it for its simplicity and fun factor.

It features many fine British actors, like Robert Carlisle, playing Gaz, the main character, a broken man who is trying to keep his son from a messy custody settlement, or Mark Addy (King Baratheon) as Dave, the shy best friend who is reluctant to the whole situation. I also have to mention the famous Tom Wilkinson as the uptight Gerald, most likely to succeed out of the group, who gives a wonderful performance.

In the end, Full Monty is an easy going, funny British comedy that deserves a shot. It might surprise you.

P.S. Advice: put on the English subtitles, if you have the option- sometimes it's hard to understand :)

Short personal update- screenings madness

So you know I told I'd be back after the 1st of september, super active and committed to twitter and blog? Well, I am kind of breaking that promise now, but I have a really good excuse. By some miracle, I got accepted and now attending a special event organised by the distributors of UK showcasing some of the falls biggest films and it's been a crazy, but highly enjoyable and entertaining experience.

I am pretty paranoid about what I can or cannot say and I did sign some embargo papers, so I think I am just going to mention the movies I've seen so far and what I will see today and tomorrow- that should be ok, right? Reviews will be up shortly, especially for the ones coming out in the following weeks, but I will have to wait for others, because of the said embargo.

So far, I've seen Madagascar 3, Hope Springs, Private Peaceful, The Knot, Holy Motors, Anna Karenina, Sweeney, Untouchable, Sister, Rust&Bone, End of watch.

Going to watch: Frankenweenie, Ruby Sparks, Lawless, Now is good, Sightseers and probably Killing them softly

Favourites so far: Anna Karenina, Private Peaceful, Untouchable
You should avoid: The Knot, Sweeney

Please do come back tomorrow, I have a nice special post for you :)

Sep 2, 2012

Moulin Rouge [2001]

Directed by Baz Luhrmann and written by him and Craig Pearce, Moulin Rouge is a love story set in Paris 1899, between a young writer and a courtesan. A young English man (Ewan McGregor) travels to Paris to find inspiration and, most importantly, love, and gets mixed up with a group of artists who are looking to put on a show in Moulin Rouge, so they recruit the talented writer and end up convincing the owner and investor (the Duke) to do the improvised Indian play. All this time, the main actress (Nicole Kidman) falls in love with Christian, behind the Duke's back, and the complications threaten to put in danger not only the show, but also the lives of the people involved.

I've been wanting to see this movie for a long time, after I've heard so many great things about it, so I guess I can say I had high expectations for it. Did it rise to the challenge? Not entirely, but it is a very interesting and entertaining film, able to capture the love and attention of people of all ages.

The most appealing factors of this film are obviously the visual and musical aspects. Firstly, the music, a mixture of orchestra, old school pieces and contemporary songs (bold choice, putting a Nirvana song in a cabaret show), definitely raised some eyebrows and I was a little taken aback by it, but got used to it by the middle of it. I loved the use of Your Song and the one she played on the rooftop, after she met Christian, but some songs were weirdly showcased- Like a virgin comes in mind, that was a strange scene.

Secondly, the visuals. I have to say, Baz Luhrman always knows how to put on a good show- Moulin Rouge is no exception and everything looks amazing. I absolutely love the sets and the costumes, I thought Kidman's entire wardrobe was just breathtaking, and the art direction was very good. One thing that put me off was some of the very quick camera action in some scenes, like the audition one or the beginning of the film- I almost got dizzy and it didn't help the movie overall- I understand where he was going, but he overreacted with it just a little, in my opinion. I did like his direction, especially what he did with the Tango scene- that was beautiful. Although at parts crazy, the audition part in Satine's room with the whole cast was very well executed and entertaining to watch- from the poetry reading and its following hilarious scene where he wants to read his poetry and she thinks it's sex what he is after, to the singing and dancing and improvising the story for the Duke.

As for the casting, it was great for the script, although I would have liked more recognizable faces, especially for roles like The Duke or the artists group. Moving on, Nicole Kidman played Satine's sexy, sultry part to the T and I admired everything about her, from the performance, to the singing, to her fantastic dresses. Ewan McGregor was the equivalent of charm and grace and did his part perfectly- I saw the love in his eyes, I believed his tears at the end and I rooted for him and his quest for love throughout the film. I also have to mention John Leguizamo, who played Toulouse-Lautrec- he is a great actor who deserves more credit, and he was very sweet in his role.

In the end, Moulin Rouge is a love story, a tragic one, but one that gives hope. Not the best musical or romantic movie I have ever seen, but a very good one that mostly deserves its praise.

Sep 1, 2012

August recap

Hello lovely blog friends,

August is gone- honestly, how did it fly by so fast?- and so, fall is here.

As you know, I was MIA for some time because of my dissertation and now I can proudly say that I have finished it, submitted and can call myself a happy unemployed girl, not student anymore :)

Unfortunately, I didn't have as much luck with my job hunt, so I have to go back home to Bucharest, Romania in a couple of weeks, and I am rather sad about it- London is a fantastic city and I feel like I belong here, more than my hometown. But life goes on, and so will I- I'm sure there are a number of great opportunities waiting for me there, as well.

You'll still love me even if I'm not in London anymore, right? :)

Anyway, moving on to the very short recap of the month:

Vera Drake [2004]
Garden State [2004]
Searching for Sugar Man [2012]
Submarine [2011]
On the road [2012]
Dirty Dancing [1987]- for the 1000th time
Moulin Rouge [2001]
Brave [2012]

Books 2 (YA novel, Looking for Alaska)

I have some serious catching up to do if I am going to resolve my New Year Resolutions, I better get on it.

September looks like a much more interesting, free month for me and I plan to read, write and watch a lot of things, now that I have officially ended my academic journey.

I hope you all have a great month!


p.s. In a couple of days, Aziza's Picks turns one year old :D happy times, gonna celebrate with an interesting, revealing post, I hope!