Saturday, May 28, 2005

Post a secret

I ran across this site (via Althouse) and found it very interesting. I wish I'd known about this when I was planning the trip to Ixtapa! No clue if the postcards are real or not, but it's compelling reading. My secret? Dies with me.

Friday, May 27, 2005

Thursday, May 26, 2005

And this isn't from Paris, but I thought I'd share it anyway. This was a sunset from Burnsville last summer. Posted by Hello

This cafe caught my eye. Posted by Hello

A pretty boulevard in the Marais district. Posted by Hello

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Movie notes

and yes this is becoming a busy day of blogging. We own all of the movies from the 1994 list and so I thought I'd put the schedule out ahead of time in case anyone wants to watch along. It's a great year of movies and you may enjoy playing! So, in order:

Quiz Show
Pulp Fiction
Four Weddings and Funeral (weekend of my sister's wedding reception)
Shawshank Redemption
Forrest Gump

1993 in review

The Fugitive
The Piano
In the Name of the Father
Remains of the Day
Schindler's List

'List' is clearly the best movie of this group and in some ways might be the best one of the decade. The rest are all good or even very good but not quite great. The 'Fugitive' was clearly the most plot driven of the movies and probably the most remembered of the other movies here. But not remembered as an Oscar film. The other three were standouts because of the acting which was outstanding in each. My favorite music was probably from 'In the Name of the Father' which offered varied bits of period music. The score from 'List' was haunting and memorable. A very good selection of movies.

Schindler's List - 1993

Not sure what to say about this movie. It's a great one, historically great, but I don't particularly care to review it. Liam Neeson, Ben Kingsley and Ralph Fiennes are all very good in this. Fiennes especially because the part of the concentration camp warden is the most difficult.
I remember seeing this in the theatre back when it was originally out and being very impressed. I also remember not really wanting to see it again. And that held true to this viewing as well. The inhumanity is just too much.
It's a must see movie at least once. I don't know about more than that.

Napoleon being crowned by victory. Just more beautiful statuary. Posted by Hello

The dome over Napoleon's tomb. Gorgeous. Posted by Hello

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

This is outside of the Louvre. It's a lion killing a crocodile (I think). This was the only struggle of alpha predators I saw the whole trip. Posted by Hello

One of the things I loved about Paris was the statuary everywhere. I wish we had such beautiful work over here instead of statues of modern art. Posted by Hello

Monday, May 23, 2005

I've gotten requests for more Paris pictures, so here they are. Posted by Hello

The Arc getting a bit of a facelift. Posted by Hello

Tuesday, May 17, 2005



Let me just say that bringing up the C-word here is almost unforgivable.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Remains of the Day - 1993

A new movie to me and a very good one. Connected in my mind with Howard's End because of Anthony Hopkins and Emma Thompson. This movie moves about one generation in time to England in the '30's. Hopkins is the head butler in an english manor. The movie begins with Thompson being hired on as a maid. The interesting piece is that the manor lord is working towards strengthening Germany and is laying the groundwork to appease the growing Nazi movement.
The conflict in Hopkins character is simply put but incredibly difficult to convey. He is so commited to service that he has negated himself in the pursuit of being the perfect butler. The scene where he turns his attention away from his just passed father to have the doctor tend to a French diplomat's blisters is a masterpiece. You can constantly see him want to react only to pull himself back in the name of professionalism.
The balance required here is what sets this performance apart. One of the standards in judging an actor is to ask who else could have done so well with a particular role. Tom Hanks won the '93 Best Actor award, but it doesn't look as good in retrospect. The award was clearly graded on a curve. It was good, but not nearly as exacting as what Hopkins has done here. The other side of the balance is that Thompson was nominated here for Best Actress in what was a fine but not really extraordinary performance.
I was also struck by the similarties between the Nazi collaboraters and George Galloway, recently reelected to the British parliament despite reports of taking bribes from Saddam Hussein. If convicted, he deserves to hang.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

"Now where would I have left my keys?" Posted by Hello

Notre Dame from the back. It's most interesting view. Posted by Hello

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Personal opinion: The dome at Les Invalides was the prettiest of the major landmarks. Posted by Hello

We got to see a French tradition: a strike. The twist here is that it was the lawyers on strike. Only in France. Posted by Hello

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Night shot of the Eifel Tower from that same cruise. Posted by Hello

Me wearing a suit (which was the cause of much trouble). Shot taken on a river cruise. Posted by Hello

General notes

As you can see from the following posts, the movie reviews are still coming. I'm now caught up with putting the durn things onto the blog. If I can keep from leaving the country for awhile, I should be able to stay caught up.
Yesterday was the Kentucky Derby, the most exciting three minutes in sport. Last year I made the FP Fiance watch it with me and pick a horse to root for. She picked the right one. This year we tried it again and again she picked the right one. A 50-1 longshot and it rode home. Next year I'm taking her out to Canterbury for the race.
I'm afraid to mention my Sox as my last mention sent them into a three game losing streak. But...their 24-7 record bears mentioning. The pitching has been nothing short of amazing and the offense needs work. Each game, they seem to do just enough to win. The most amazing thing about this beginning for me is that they've had a lead at some point in all 31 games so far. (On a personal note, they're 6-1 when I'm out of the country. Attn White Sox Mgmt: I'm open to an international move. Get in touch and I'll provide a list of the countries I'd be willing to move to.)
Been meaning to mention a book that I read recently and greatly enjoyed 'Snow Crash' by Neal Stephenson. The book is set in the near future and involves a sword wielding, code writing pizza delivery man. It reminded me in many ways of the writing of Tim Powers who I wrote about here. The conclusions about ancient languages are interesting (if not very believable). A real page-turner.

In the Name of the Father - 1993

This film is better than I remembered. It centers around the falsely accused 'Guildford Four' and their fifteen years of false imprisonment. The movie starts, literally, with a bang as pub is blown up in England. It's the work of the IRA and the movie works hard to illustrate the explosive situation that existed in Northern Ireland and England at the time.
Daniel Day-Lewis stars as a young man whose foolishness is only exceeded by his anger at his father. In a classic wrong place/wrong time situation, he becomes accused of being the ringleader of the group that blew up the pub. His father follows him to England to try and help him, only to be rounded up and accused of being part of the same circle.
Two things struck me from this film. Why isn't Day-Lewis a bigger star? His filmography is impressive. He's taken very difficult roles and done amazing things with them. The ladies at work assure me that he's quite sexy. So what happened?
The other thing that struck me was the depth of paternal love that Pete Postlethwaite portrays to his very difficult son. Film and TV fathers are usually depicted as overgrown children, heartless jerks or clueless idiots. Seldom are they shown as loving and dedicated.
This film is quite good. The echoes to our current war against terrorists are important and more timely than when the film was actually made. Quite good.

The Piano - 1993

This movie is very art-house. The camera loves the beach and the surf. And Holly Hunter. She plays a woman who has suffered such an enourmous shock that she's gone mute. The only voice she has is her piano. A man in New Zealand has sent for her as his wife. She arrives with her piano and young daughter.
Anna Paquin plays the daughter and is quite good. Especially when you consider her age at the time. She shows amazing complexity and depth. And that's important because she is the key figure in the movie. Everything collapses without her giving voice to her mother and eventually attatching herself to her new father.
Harvey Keitel is also quite good. He plays a man who longs for a woman, although none are around that he can have. He makes a bargain for Hunter's piano, and then another one with her to 'buy' back her piano with favors. The gimmick that sells this, is that each favor will be worth a certain number of keys.
When I mentioned this movie at work, I got an expected response, "Is that the one with that guy's penis?". And yes it is. If you ever wanted to see Keitel naked (show of hands?) this is the movie for you. To be fair, there is quite a bit of nudity from Hunter as well. Still, after 17 movies so far in this project, the nudity score stands at Penis 2, Bare breasts 1 (set). Who'd a thunk that?
In all, I really wanted to like this movie more than I did. The closest I came to liking a character was Keitel. There's probably some male/female short-circuiting going on that kept me from liking it more. The camerawork is beautiful and so is the music. The story is interesting to a point but never quite sold me.

The Fugitive - 1993

When putting together the list of movies for this project, this came as a surprise. I remembered it as good, but Best Picture quality? Really? Well, that's one of the reasons for this thing, to revisit movies and see how they stack up both against time and each other. The FP Fiance hadn't seen this one yet, so I got to get her opinion as an unseen film.
Harrison Ford stars as a surgeon falsely accused and convicted of killing his wife, played by the very attractive Sela Ward. He claims a one-armed man is the real killer but no one believes him. An fortunate series of events, including a very cool train wreck, free him to try and clear his name. In a faliure to anticipate OJ, he doesn't search at even one golf course.
Tommy Lee Jones really steals this movie, though. He plays a US Marshal who is tasked with finding the escapee. His mixture of wise-cracking, tenacious and tough sells quite well.
The movie is well told but whiffs in a couple of areas. The motive for the killing is unconvincing at best. Does anyone really think that pharmaceutical companies are really that evil? Faking tests to get initial approval might work, but the ensuing law suits when the product that hits the real world would be crippling. Better to just scrap this drug or tinker with it so it would be better.
The other problem I had is that the main theme to the movie sounds just like the opening to 'Hit the Road Jack'. Distracting. In a weird bit of synchronicity, I saw a documentary on landslides the next day that used this score.
In all, I thought the movie was good, but not great. The FP Fiance thought about the same.

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Upstairs at Ste-Chapelle, all aglow. I didn't see Dave Chapelle even once while I was there. Posted by Hello

Interior of Ste-Chapelle. Love the color of the ceiling. Posted by Hello

I'm Back

And it was wonderful. A week really isn't enough time for Paris, but I got an overview at least. I'll put up some pictures, but I don't know if I'll do a blow by blow description of the week.
The highpoints of the week were dinner at the Moulin Rouge (good food, incredible entertainment) and a small cathedral, Sainte-Chapelle (two blocks from Notre Dame and more impressive). Also the incredible amount of sculpture scattered everywhere. And the centuries of history that the city has.
The group I was with were quite a bit of fun. I'd tell you more, but we all agreed that what happens in Paris, stays in Paris. I will say that some livers got a workout, but I think everyone's marriage (current or impending) is still in fine shape.
Expect pictures all of this week.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Paris update

Having a wonderul time. No news to report at this time. Full updates when I return.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Heading out

Leaving for Paris today. Won't be able to see the FP Fiance for about six days and I'm sad about that. least I get to miss her in wonderful surroundings. It's possible I'll blog from the road, but I won't have anywhere near as good (or big) a news to tell as from Mexico.