Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Movie: Ma nuit chez Maud

This movie is a very French movie. Is there any other country in which people can meet after 15 years and immediately sit down to discuss philosophy and mathematics? Part of the fascination with the movie is exactly that - how people can (try to) live their life through speech.

The movie is a classic, so the story may be well known. Jean-Louis is a Catholic. He meets again an old friend, a Marxist, and his "girlfriend", Maud, who is a free-thinker. Most of the movie is an evening and a night with Maud (giving the title: "My Night at Maud's").

The philosophical/mathematical part is also interesting to me. Pascal's rather untenable argument for believing in God is reconstructed to become a positive "seize the day" kind of argument: even if there is almost no chance of something infinitely wonderful happening, you should still try, because the expected value will still be better than doing nothing and staying in a boring life. This way of looking at life has real and great consequences for Jean-Louis...

Ma nuit chez Maud (1969)

(See a register of all movies I've seen at Collectorz.com.)

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Oslo-Beijing with SAS

I have had a significant number of flights between Asia and Europe through the years. Lately, I have often been flying with Finnair, both because I like the airport in Helsinki, because they are often cheap and because the service on board is good. This time, however, I had to fly SAS, because they had the cheapest option. (Well, not really, Aeroflot via Moscow was cheaper, but as the return flight was too late for me, I had an excuse to ignore that.)

The Oslo-Copenhagen leg of the journey was no problem. It’s short and painless. In Copenhagen, I had several hours to wait, but that’s okay. Moreover, the flight was on time, both out of Copenhagen and into Beijing.

The service, however, was not as good as I would hope for. SAS does not provide video-on-demand to their Economy passengers (as far as I understood). For a long time, I thought they did not provide video at all to us poor people in the back of the cabin, but when I finally started looking around, I saw that the movie I wanted to see had started long ago. Maybe a better explanation would be in order.

When they handed out drinks at the beginning of the flight, almost everyone got something. I and the guy next to me were ignored. After finally getting the attention of a flight attendant, I ordered a beer and a glass of water – which was delivered quite promptly. I got the beer on my table and the glass of water in my lap. (Of course she apologized – and brought another glass of water…)

It will be interesting to see what service Austrian Airlines can provide – for some reason I’m flying with them (via Vienna) back to Oslo. No more drinks in my lap, I hope.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Funny Quotes of the Week 69

"The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not 'Eureka!' (I found it!) but 'That's funny ...'" (Isaac Asimov)

"Like I always say, there's no 'I' in "team". There is a 'me', though, if you jumble it up." (David Shore)

"It's not that I'm afraid to die, I just don't want to be there when it happens." (Woody Allen)

Friday, March 26, 2010

Movie: A Single Man

What can a man do when the love of his life unexpectedly dies? Surely, just to give up and die is one possibility. But there may also be a chance of recreating a belief that life may still be worth living.

I think Colin Firth does quite an impressive job in this movie. The whole movie is dependent on the viewer believing in his love and his loss. In addition, Nicholas Hoult does a rather less demanding role as a beautiful and charming student, with no problem at all. Matthew Goode ("Match Point", "Brideshead Revisited") is also good.

In my opinion, the movie has it's faults, for instance by spending too much time on some parts of the story and not enough on others, but all in all it's a touching debut by Tom Ford.

A Single Man (2009)

(See a register of all movies I've seen at Collectorz.com.)

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Funny Quotes of the Week 68

"Money can't buy happiness, but neither can poverty." (Leo Rosten)

"Money doesn't always bring happiness. People with ten million dollars are no happier than people with nine million dollars." (Hobart Brown)

"Life is far too important a thing ever to talk seriously about." (Oscar Wilde)

Friday, March 19, 2010

151 best movies you've never seen

Leonard Maltin has written about the "151 best movies you've never seen". How many of these have YOU seen?

Here's the list:
American Dreamz
The Animal Factory
Aurora Borealis
The Ballad of Little Jo
Better Than Sex
The Big Hit
Blood and Wine
Bubba Ho-Tep
Career Girls
Chop shop
Citizen Ruth
Connie and Clara
Dark Days
The Dead Girl
The Devil's Backbone
Diamond Men
The Dinner Game
Dinner Rush
The Dish
Disney's Teacher's Pet
The Door in the Floor
Driving Lessons
Duck Season
East is East
Everything Put Together
Fast, Cheap & Out of Control
15 Minutes
Find Me Guilty
Gilles' Wife
Gloomy Sunday
Go Tigers!
Going In Style
The Great Buck Howard
The Greatest Game Ever Played
The Hard Word
The Harmonists
Hedwig and the Angry Inch
A Home at the End of the World
The House of Sand
How to Lose Friends & Alienate People
I Served the King of England
In the Shadow of the Moon
Indigenes (Days of Glory)
Innocent Blood
Island in the Sky
Keeping Mum
Kill Me Later
King of California
The King of Masks
King of the Hill
La Ciudad/The City
La Petite Lili
La Promesse
Lady for a Day
The Last Shot
Lawless Heart
Look Both Ways
The Lookout
Love and Death on Long Island
Mad Money
The Maltese Falcon (1931)
The Man from Elysian Fields
Man Push Cart
Marvin's Room
The Matador
Matchstick Men
Maybe Baby
The Merry Gentleman
A Midnight Clear
The Mighty
Mountains of the Moon
Mrs. Palfrey at the Claremont
My First Mister
The Mystery of Picasso
Nine Lives
Nothing But the Truth
October Sky
Off the Map
Once Were Warriors
One Fine Day
Owning Mahowny
The Painted Veil
Paradise Now
Peter's Friends
Phoebe in Wonderland
The Pledge
Prisoner of Paradise
The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio
Queen of Hearts
Raising Victor Vargas
Resurrecting the Champ
Safe Men
Seven Men From Now
Something New
Son of Rambow
Spring Forward
Starting Out in the Evening
State of the Union
The Steel Helmet
Still Crazy
Stone Reader
Sweet Land
The Tao of Steve
Taste of Cherry
The Third Miracle
Tristam Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story
The TV Set
Two Family House
Two Lovers
Waking the Dead
The Weather Man
Welcome to Sarajevo
Went to Coney Island on a Mission from God ... Be Back By Five
What Doesn't Kill You
The Whole Wide World
The Wide Blue Road
Winter Solstice
Word Wars
The World's Fastest Indian
Zathura: A Space Adventure

So, I've seen only 10 of them so far. And I will not even claim that I remember all of them very well. On the other hand, Hedwig and the Angry Inch is a favorite.

Update: I seem to have forgotten two movies. Now I've updated - I've seen 12...

Movie: The Wizard of Oz

The Wizard of Oz is another one of those movies which I've heard mentioned thousands of times but have never had the time or chance to see. So now, finally, I saw it. I am quite impressed with the technical wizardry of the filmmakers in 1939, especially in some (although not all) of the tornado scenes.

That's hardly the main point of the movie, though. It is a beautiful story of a child realizing where her heart is. And in the process, we are also told what bravery is, what brains are good for and what a heart can do. The movie is also funny from time to time, and a few of the songs are good (and in particular "Somewhere over the rainbow", of course.

I enjoyed it very much, and do understand why it remains one of the best-known movies from the 30s.

The Wizard of Oz (1939)

(See a register of all movies I've seen at Collectorz.com.)

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Movie: Omaret yakobean

This is an Egyptian ensemble movie, following lots of different characters who all have only one thing in common: their connection to the Yakobean building in Cairo. It is also quite a depressing movie, in that it is a story of the decline of Cairo as well as showing the terrible influence religion can have on different people's lives.

I've said many times that some movies are worth seeing just by bringing me to a place I've never been - sometimes I pay lots of money to get to new places, so why shouldn't I also enjoy watching an unfamiliar place for two or three hours? This movie certainly has that quality, but it also has interesting stories, many straight men doing strange things to get sex and also a gay man doing not-so-strange things.

But it is the claim that Egyptian society is basically corrupt (and the consequences of that corruption) that may be the most lasting image of the movie.

Omaret yakobean (2006)

(See a register of all movies I've seen at Collectorz.com.)

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Funny Quotes of the Week 67

"It is only an auctioneer who can equally and impartially admire all schools of art." (Oscar Wilde)

"All you need in this life is ignorance and confidence; then success is sure." (Mark Twain)

"The lion and the calf shall lie down together but the calf won't get much sleep." (Woody Allen)

Kissing Eurovision host

This week we got to know who will host the Eurovision Song Contest final in Oslo in May. It will be Erik Solbakken, Nadia Hasnaoui and Haddy N'Je.

Erik Solbakken is mostly known from children's television, and even got into a small controversy after this "kissing song", wherein he kisses many of the most famous people in Norwegian TV (apparently, some parents thought that kissing was too delicate a theme for their children...):

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Movie: Das Weisse Band - Eine Deutsche Kindergeschichte

I always find it difficult to write about a movie that I didn't like, but that lots of other people have enjoyed a lot. I start to think of what effect my "review" will have - will people avoid the movie and thereby miss a potentially good movie (for them). Or will they be upset with me for not seeing the movie's "obvious" qualities? Moreover, why should I explain that I did not like a movie? Most often, I dislike movies not because they had certain characteristics, but because I simply didn't find much to like. Explaining that is perhaps better done in one sentence than in a whole review.

Anyway, I didn't like Haneke's earlier movies too much, but they made an impact. This one was just too slow-moving. Yes, the children were abused lots of times, but the emotional effect on me did not multiply every time - quite to the contrary.

If you want to see a movie about a troubled childhood, by all means go and see "Fanny and Alexander", Bergman's masterpiece. That's my advice...

Das Weisse Band - Eine Deutsche Kindergeschichte (2009)

(See a register of all movies I've seen at Collectorz.com.)

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Funny Quotes of the Week 66

"Death doesn't really worry me that much, I'm not frightened about it... I just don't want to be there when it happens." (Woody Allen)

"Human beings, who are almost unique in having the ability to learn from the experience of others, are also remarkable for their apparent disinclination to do so." (Douglas Adams)

"Diplomacy is the art of saying 'Nice doggie' until you can find a rock." (Will Rogers)

Friday, March 05, 2010

Movie: The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford

For many, the story of Jesse James may be well-known. For people like me who are not familiar with it, the title is a bit unneccessary - it gives away a bit too much of what will happen.

Brad Pitt does another good role in this movie - his brooding Jesse James is quite convincing. I can't say Casey Affleck impresses me as much, beautiful though he is. He does not come across as altogether believeable.

The main problem of the movie, though, is its length. It is slow at times, and thereby goes into the pile of movies that could be cut with half an hour without being any worse.

The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (2007)

(See a register of all movies I've seen at Collectorz.com.)