Saturday, April 25, 2009

Funny Quotes of the Week 21

"A computer once beat me at chess, but it was no match for me at kick boxing." (Emo Philips)

"Avoid employing unlucky people. Throw half the CV's away before you even look at them." (David Brent)

"I took a speed reading course and read 'War and Peace' in twenty minutes. It involves Russia." (Woody Allen)

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Movie: The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency

I love Alexander McCall Smith's books, and that love started with the books about Precious Ramotswe. I was a bit worried at the beginning of this film - what if everything turned out different than the beautiful country inside my imagination? However, although Botswana in the movie was a bit drier (more sand, less vegetation) than in my mind, pretty much everything else was like I had imagined.

These stories are not about murder and wars. But they are still about incredibly important events in some people's lives; a cheating husband, a missing finger, a returning father and a lost son. Some of the beauty of the books lies in the strength of this woman, her courage and her sense of what is right.

I liked this movie very much. If I understand it correctly, this movie is a pilot to a TV series. I hope it will turn up on a screen near me...

The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency (2008)

Director: Anthony Minghella

Main actor:
Jill Scott as Precious Ramotswe
Anika Noni Rose as Grace Makutsi
Lucian Msamati as JLB Matekoni

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

One million hits!

My hit counter has now passed one million hits on my blogs. Thanks to everyone who has contributed!

These are my top 3 postings of all time:
1. Roskilde nude run - again (ca. 29,000 hits)
2. Roskilde nude run 2007 (ca. 22,000 hits)
3. Eating Out 2 - Sloppy Seconds (ca. 20,000 hits)

Hm - nudity seems to do well.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Movie: Another Gay Movie

After seeing far too many silly straight college movies focusing on sex, it is time to see a gay one. This has everything that the straight movies have - a silly script, painfully embarrassing situations, a race to have sex within a certain time, lots of skin... Like the straight counterparts, it's also a rather bad movie.

About the skin: it's really an amazing amount of skin in this movie. Compared to most US movies, it's a shock. Full-frontal nudity lots of times (which suggests to me that this movie was never meant for full cinema release in the US, although I don't know that).

The references to other movies are plenty, particularly "American Pie". This is quite funny. And I do admit that I might have enjoyed the movie more if I'd seen it in a cinema full of laughing people instead of at home. But that's the way it is...

Another Gay Movie (2006)

Director: Todd Stephens

Main actor:
Mitch Morris as Griff
Michael Carbonaro as Andy Wilson
Jonah Blechman as Nico
Jonathan Chase as Jarod

Monday, April 20, 2009

Britain really has got talent

There is something magical about people imagining all life that they might have a talent, and then, when they try to persuade others ... they actually do.

This year, it was Susan Boyle, a few years ago, it was Paul Potts. (The links are to Youtube videos of them from Britain's got talent.)

Hear also earlier recordings of Susan Boyle:

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Movie: Bowling for Columbine

Michael Moore's style is well-known, and this is probably his most well-known movie, receiving an Academy Award. To me, however, it seemed strangely unfocused for the first third of the movie. After a while, however, it seemed to get more on track, and it got better.

The main topic of the movie is why there is so much more violence in Michael Moore's country (the USA) than in other countries that have much the same culture, similarly violent pasts, similar gun laws etc. This means that even though the movie is about local matters of limited interest to people outside his country, the comparisons are still interesting.

The problem is a difficult one, without clear answers. In a way, his movie about the US health system ("Sicko") seemed more effective, as it showed so clearly what was wrong with the US system which means that the people of the US does not have a health system comparable to the systems in most of the rest of the western world.

As usual, some of Michael Moore's tricks are a bit cheap. While I do like his politics, I don't always like the way he behaves. He performs the incredible when he almost makes me sympathize with Charlton Heston when trying to hand Heston a picture of a six-year-old victim of a school shooting.

Anyway, his movies should be food for thought for lots of US voters.

Bowling for Columbine (2002)

Director: Michael Moore

Main actor:
Michael Moore

Movie: Pinocchio

This movie is in a rare category: I've seen small parts of it almost every year since I was a kid, in Disney's Christmas show sent on Norwegian television every December 24th. It's strange to finally see the whole story and see the original context of the well-known bits ("When you wish upon a star" and "I have no strings on me").

I can't say that the rest of the movie is really in the same league as these bits, however. Granted, I was tired when I watched this movie the other night, but it didn't seem to me as entertaining as some of the other Disney movies, for instance Dumbo.

But I'm still happy to finally have seen it.

Pinocchio (1940)

Director: Hamilton Luske and Ben Sharpsteen

Main actor:
Dickie Jones as the voice of Pinocchio

Movie: The Conversation

Harry Caul is the best surveillance expert there is. He loves the challenge of recording conversations in seemingly impossible places. As long as this is all a question of technique, everything is fine. From time to time, however, the recordings he make have real consequences in the real world, which poses ethical questions that he is uncomfortable facing.

The movie starts with Harry Caul trying to record a conversation taking place in a crowded urban square. Immediately, our interest is aroused, as we try to figure out who the people in the square are. And as we are given more and more information, there are new things to consider.

This movie is (as so many movies I've seen lately) on the IMDB Top 250 movies list. In a way that probably means that I should discuss why I didn't like the movie even more than I did. I can't really pinpoint that. Partly, it's probably because movies containing lots of technology tend to age more quickly than other movies. But that shouldn't be reason enough, as technology is not really the real point here - rather it is the mental state of Harry Caul which is the point. But that's as close as I get...

The Conversation (1974)

Director: Francis Ford Coppola

Main actor:
Gene Hackman as Harry Caul

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Funny Quotes of the Week 20

"I tended to place my wife under a pedestal." (Woody Allen)

"A signature always reveals a man's character - and sometimes even his name." (Evan Esar)

"Arguments are to be avoided; they are always vulgar and often convincing." (Oscar Wilde)

Movie: Hurra for Andersens!

Some of Norway's finest comic actors play a part in this classic movie. The Andersens are living a care-free life in an old house in the outskirts of Oslo. However, closeby a series of houses has been built, and the inhabitants here have very clear opinions on what kind of people are "suited" for this part of town.

While portraying, in a funny way, the quarrels between neighbours that are quite familiar anywhere, the movie also portrays a very particular period in the history of Oslo, in which lots and lots of new homes were built to accommodate a growing population. I'm currently living in just this kind of home (although built a bit earlier - in 1948), and find the historical portrayal of additional interest.

However, the main point of watching the movie is the humour, which works well even 43 years later. And to see these great actors again - all of whom are approaching the end of their careers or already are dead.

Hurra for Andersens! (1966)

Director: Knut Andersen

Main actor:
Arve Opsahl as Carl Alfred Andersen
Aud Schønemann as Hildur Evensen, Andersens forlovede
Rolv Wesenlund as Hermansen
Elsa Lystad as Fru Salvesen

Meme: About blogging

From Sunday Stealing, I've stolen this meme:

1. How did you come up with your blog title OR what does it mean?
Ehm... The title is quite self-explanatory. I didn't expect the blog to have a particular theme, so just to name it after myself seemed like a good idea. Moreover, I'm a fan of being non-anonymous on the net.

2. What are your general goals for blogging?
I don't know. It's just a way of getting my opinions "out there", I guess. Partly, it's also a sandbox - I've realized a few times that I can better articulate my opinions (for instance when talking to journalists) because I have "practiced" the arguments in my blog.

3. Do people “in your real life” know that you blog and do they comment on your blog OR is it largely anonymous?
It's not at all anonymous. Both my boss and the minister of education know that I blog...

4. How often do you post (x per week)?
On average, perhaps five times a week. (Mostly in weekends, though.)

5. How often do you read other blogs (x per week)?
I use Google Reader, and follow lots of blogs there. I check it out almost every day.

6. How do you select blogs to read (do you prefer blogs that focus on certain topics or do you choose by tone or…?)
Mostly, I just come across one post that I like, and then follow that blog. And then there are of course friends' blogs.

7. Do you have any plans to copy your blog entries in any other format, 0r do you think that one day, you’ll just delete it all?
I don't throw away anything, so it is unimaginable that I will ever delete it. But I certainly don't foresee a "My best postings" book either...

8. What are the things you like best about blogging?
It simply feels good to express my opinions. But I also enjoy getting in touch with people from all over the world who comments on my blog. There are people that I would never have got in touch with if my blog didn't exist.

9. What are the things you don’t like about blogging?
I can't really think of anything serious. Of course, there are some comments that are less considerate than others, but that's life.

10. How do you handle comments?
Anyone can comment. I answer any comments that I feel I have an answer to. I've only once or twice deleted a comment (for racist remarks).

11. Do you have any burning thoughts to share on blog etiquette?
But personally, I'm very careful not to involve my family or friends in my blog without their knowledge. I don't blog about conversations with my brother or about my friends' new house and that kind of thing. That's a bit problematic, because it may make me seem a bit more lonely than I am. There are things in my life that are incredibly important to me but are never even mentioned in the blog.

12. Any desired blog features?
I think Blogger works fine, and can't think of anything I miss.

13. Have you suffered blog addiction?
Well, in a way I guess I do. When reading the newspaper in the morning, I often feel an urge to post on something or other there. But the word "addiction" gives negative associations. I'm also a water addict and a food addict - not to mention oxygen addict - but these addictions are not problems.

Movie: Notting Hill

I've seen it before. And now the movie has stooped so low that it's been included for free in a celebrity magazine.

Well. This is one of the mindless, romantic, ultra-commercial lightweight comedies that just happens to have so much charm that I can't help enjoying it a lot. Hugh Grant is doing his Hugh Grant role (pretty much the same as in Four weddings and a funeral), Julia Roberts is being beautiful and romantic, Notting Hill is portrayed as a beautiful place to be.

There's no point in trying to find bad things about the film - either you are in a mood to have fun for a few hours or you're not. If you're not, you could see yet another Tarkovsky movie instead.

Notting Hill (1999)

Director: Roger Michell

Main actor:
Julia Roberts as Anna Scott
Hugh Grant as William Thacker

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Movie: Singin' in the Rain

In my youth (which I consider long gone by now), I didn't like musicals. I found it strange that people burst into song all the time. But lately, I've seen several musicals that I've liked a lot - for instance Hedwig and the angry inch and Mamma Mia! However, I noticed that some of my old distaste for musicals crept back on me when I saw this movie. And I know why - it's because the musical numbers too often made the story stop entirely for a bit too long.

Apart from that, it is a very enjoyable movie. The wonderful new technology that made it possible to produce movies with sound obviously was "disruptive" for many people in Hollywood, and this movie portrays that shift. There are many funny scenes in the movie, and in addition, the ending is classic.

So in the end I'm very divided on this: I enjoyed the movie very much for much of the time, but was also bored at times. On the other hand - what does my opinion matter? Of course, everyone should see Singin' in the rain at least once.

Singin' in the Rain (1952)

Director: Stanley Donen and Gene Kelly

Main actor:
Gene Kelly as Don Lockwood
Donald O'Connor as Cosmo Brown
Debbie Reynolds as Kathy Selden
Jean Hagen as Lina Lamont

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Movie: Slumdog Millionaire

This is an entertaining movie. It is both funny and moving, and also gives a little insight into a form of life that I haven't seen many movies depicting.

There are two brothers in this movie, growing up in the slum together and also being in contact in real life. Patel is the main character (as we understand already from the first images in the movie), but the other brother (Salim) is also important. Sadly, his character does not work for me. Maybe it's just that we don't get to know him enough to understand why he acts the way he does. Therefore, a movie that could have been great, is only "good" for me.

Slumdog Millionaire (2008)

Director: Danny Boyle

Main actor:
Dev Patel as Jamal K. Malik
Freida Pinto as Latika
Madhur Mittal as Salim
Azharuddin Mohammed Ismail as Youngest Salim
Ayush Mahesh Khedekar as Youngest Jamal
Tanay Chheda as Middle Jamal
Ashutosh Lobo Gajiwala as Middle Salim

Monday, April 13, 2009

Russ again

Apparently, it's already time for another "russetid", the time of year of the Norwegian the end-of-school-celebrations for the 18-year-olds. Central to the celebrations are certain "tasks" that everyone should do - such as drinking lots of alcohol in a limited time, running naked down a street or having a bath before the 1st of April.

Akers Avis has a story about Didrik Brenna og Martin Kårperud (both 18) who went for a bath in nearby Steinbruvann - having to remove some ice before jumping in. This seems a bit cold to me - I think I'll wait for another two or three months...

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Funny Quotes of the Week 19

"I'm a godmother, that's a great thing to be, a godmother. She calls me god for short, that's cute, I taught her that." (Ellen DeGeneres)

"Anyone who lives within their means suffers from a lack of imagination." (Oscar Wilde)

"The world is full of people whose notion of a satisfactory future is, in fact, a return to the idealised past." (Robertson Davies)

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Funny Quotes of the Week 18

"Anybody can sympathise with the sufferings of a friend, but it requires a very fine nature to sympathise with a friend's success." (Oscar Wilde)

"It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit." (Harry S. Truman)

"I don't want to achieve immortality through my work... I want to achieve it through not dying." (Woody Allen)

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Movie: Pulp Fiction

This is a movie that I've stubbornly stayed far away from since its premiere fifteen years ago - even though it got lots of honors. But it is not nearly as bad as I expected. Of course, 2,5 hours are a bit too much, but the subplots are all moderately interesting, the directing is partly quite fascinating and the actors are good.

Well, what more to say? I always find it hard to write about movies that other people love (it's currently at #5 at the Imdb top 250 chart) but that I only like moderately. While I may be quite eager to recommend a movie I've loved or to warn against a terrible movie, writing a lukewarm review with enthusiasm is hard.

So instead, maybe I should rather just say that my still ongoing project of watching lots of the movies that I "should have" seen earlier, is still working fine. As of now, I've still to see 27 movies which has got the Academy Award for best movie, 523 of the "1001 movies you should see before you die", 59 of the best 100 Norwegian movies of all time, 23 of the "50 greatest gay movies", 37 of the Empire Top 100, 341 of the Empire 500 best, 63 of the Palm d'Or-winners and 71 of Cahiers du cinema's 100 best. So there's a lot still to see...

Pulp Fiction (1994)

Director: Quentin Tarantino

Main actor:
John Travolta as Vincent Vega
Samuel L. Jackson as Jules Winnfield
Bruce Willis as Butch Coolidge
Ving Rhames as Marsellus Wallace

Movie: Brief encounter

A married couple meet at a station - but they're not married to each other...

It is said that this movie met with laughter at a test screening, because the basic tenets of the movie seemed very dated already in 1945. It is easy to see why. And in the 64 years that have gone since then, the movie has dated further.

Of course, David Lean was a good director and Noel Coward was a great writer. The actors are also good. But it is almost hard to take the story seriously today. Moreover, the voice-over doesn't work well, in my opinion.

Brief encounter (1945)

Director: David Lean

Main actor:
Celia Johnson as Laura Jesson
Trevor Howard as Dr. Alec Harvey

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Marriage for all

Today, Sweden's parliament decides whether the people of Sweden will enjoy a non-discriminatory marriage law. See website of Riksdagen. The site is in Swedish.

(The same kind of law was passed here in Norway last year.)