Sunday, February 26, 2012

Its Oscar night

So the Oscars are around again and as usual, I haven’t gotten round all the nominated movies yet. Tell me something new J
One thing I can say off my head though is…the offerings are pretty ordinary. I am yet to be wowed by a plot or cinematography.
I haven’t been inspired enough to cheer for the good fella - at least not like I cheered myself hoarse for Jake Sully & Neytiri in Avatar or The King’s Speech. None has made me doubt my smartness (or ability to understand convoluted stories) like Inception did, Thrilled me like Black swan, nor given me equal doses of sexy, family and comedy like ‘The kids are alright’.

‘Charming’ a word as fuzzy and inane like ‘nice’ is my favourite adjective to describe most of 2012’s offerings – ‘Hugo’, ‘Extremely close and incredibly loud’, ‘The Artist’, ‘The Descendants’, ‘Midnight in Paris’. I haven’t gotten round to Moneyballs maybe it will the balls (pun intended) so far lacking in the Oscar nominations.
Lastly I noticed that most of the movies paid tribute to the past in some way or the other, like producers/directors were told that the Oscar theme for 2012 was Nostalgia. Lol.
Okay let me give you a review of the nominations.

Nominees:

The Artist (2011):
I really really liked the Artist and hope it wins. The storyline is quite simple. A popular silent movie actor at the height of his career meets a young wannabe and falls in love. Unfortunately the days of silent movies were about to be over. Talk was in. and as her star rose, his fell. A fire, a rescue will love conquer all. What makes the Artist different was the throwback to them days of black and white movies and the use of no talk!!!
I didn’t believe how much we have been spoilt by color/HD/audio surround. I had to pay extra attention to that movie cause the colorlessness was doing me in. At a point I was craving like a drug addict wants his fix to hear their voices. To fit a voice to the characters. The score did help tremendously to set the mood.
Jean Dujardin totally deserves to win best actor too. Without talk he took us through the whole gamut of joy, pain, sadness, anger. And he didn’t have to over dramatise aka Nollywood. Side eye.
Oh and it’s high time animals begin to get an Oscar award too. Uggie won my heart!
The Descendants (2011):
The determinedly single George Clooney starred in this movie as a husband forced to deal with his dying wife’s affair. It dealt with the politics of a land sale (save the trees/save the planet) and showed us how absent fathers deal with their daughters – they don’t. they look to the elder to take care of the younger and continually look askance when the 8 yr old uses swear words. All in all it was a great movie for seeing adultery from a loving husband’s POV.
I got a bit emotional at the scene where the betrayed wife met the ‘home destroyer’. All in all a charming movie but I doubt if it will win best picture nomination. George Clooney is my next best choice for best Actor nomination
Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close (2011): Scott Rudin
A charming movie with a most uncharming lead actor..pffft. I wanted to turn him over on my laps and give his ass a whooping so many times. I read a comment section on IMDB where a man who claims that two of his sons have Aspergers syndrome defended his ‘wonderful’ charm as normal.
Uhmm Ok. If you say so. What do I know….the nearest I’ve been to someone with Asperger’s was in the movie ‘My name is Khan’.

The plot – we are taken on an incredible search for the matching lock to a key in the possession of a 10yr old boy who recently lost his father in the WTC on 9/11. He is convinced that the key he found atop his father’s wardrobe will lead him to last message/gift/note from his Dad and maybe when he finds it he will be free of the sadness and guilt over his father’s death.
His roughshod treatment of those who loved him best – his family was quite difficult to watch. My most memorable scenes were with his psychologically-dumb granddad Max Von Sydow (I’m rooting for him for Best supporting Male Actor!!) and the final 15 minutes when the Mom(Sandra Bullock) makes that wonderful revelation. I’d wanted to hug her so many times. How does a widow deal with a son like that at a time when you need bonding the most??
The Help (2011):
I reviewed The help here. The performances were stellar and I hope Viola Davis wins Best Female actress. I was thrilled when the cast got the Globe award. Indeed, it was one movie where everyone did their bit and the synergy was truly greater than the individual person’s input. I can’t decide between Octavia and Jessica Chastain for supporting actress. Actually I can – Octavia it is.
Hugo (2011/II):
Hugo is the story about an orphan boy who lived by stealth in a train station in Paris. He had inherited a passion for fixing mechanical things especially an automaton (robot)..a job both of them started before the father died. Hugo desperately believed that there was a message for him from the automaton from his father but he can only get the message when the automaton is fixed.
Despite hindrances like a one-legged station guard and a grumpy toy fixer, with the help of Chloe (the toy fixers granddaughter), he found the message he sought.
This movie received a lot of critic acclaim…mostly cause of its award winning director Martin Scorcese (imho). I watched it cause of my favourite young actress Chloe Moretz (Hit girl) I am thankful they haven’t pigeon holed her in any genre. Asa Butterfield the lead was ‘ahem’ suitably winsome and blue eyed. Did you notice the too much camera focus on his eyes pfft.

The story was cutesy enough and my best scenes were the horrifying dream he had, and the romantic goings on of the people who worked in the train station. I also enjoyed the brief history on film making we received. Was it really true that the first movie produced was the video of a train moving across the cinema screen? And here we are in 2012 watching movies like Unstoppable, Transformers CGI etc without blinking an eyelid.
Having said that, I can understand why it got an Oscar nod even if it might not win....it was an ode to film making. It reminds us again to appreciate those who were/are dedicated to the industry and made it grow. They were there not just for the money but cause they wish to be remembered for 'truly entertaining' their audience. bringing some magic into their dull lives………..and you know the old fuddy duddies who vote will appreciate it.
Best cinematography and directing maybe..

Midnight in Paris (2011):
Midnight in Paris started with an assault on my ears and eyes – a idyllic score and 10 mins of a slide show of Paris. Then there was Owen Wilson the lead actor talking like he had pebbles under his tongue ala Woody Allen (Imitation is the best form of flattery they say), annoying! Also Woody Allen’s aptitude for verbose dialogues made it easy for me to listen to this movie while I did other work. Lol.

A successful Hollywood movie writer turned struggling novel writer travels with his fiancĂ©e Inez (can we push that spoilt lil’ bitch into the Seine pls) and in-laws to Paris to seek inspiration for his new book. Gil falls in love with Paris in the ‘20s (he sorta of time travelled) – the literati of the 20s – Matisse, Picasso, Gertrude Stein, Scott Fitzgerald, Hemmingway and especially ….. a lady from the 20s, only to find out that she longs for the 17th century cos she thought they were more romantic. Game set match.
Owen finally realizes that indulging in the past makes you unavailable for the present – lesson for everybody!! Let nostalgia be for table conversations and blog posts. Heck I can’t imagine a word without 3D Films, the internet, smartphones, ultrasonographs, flat-screens and social media. Imagine if there was twitter then he could have taken pictures on his phone uploaded it and tweeted ‘having a chat with Hemmingway and Stein woot woot’.
I half-wished I was clever and bourgeois enough to understand the inside jokes about the great men and women of the 20s who made cameo appearances – Matisse, Picasso, Gertrude Stein, Fitzgerald, Hemmingway. Ah well. Maybe in 50yrs when they make a parody of George Bush, Kim Kardashian, I’ll be explaining the inside jokes to my granddaughter.

I think this movie got a lot of hype because of its producer/director Woody Allen. Yes I admire his diligence but I don’t normally seek out his movies to watch. Midnight in Paris scored a 7.8/10 on Imdb. Really? I struggled to give it a 5.5/10.

Moneyball, The Tree of Life,  War Horse - Yet to watch

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

I've been Google Plused :/

One of the times I wish i had a Twitter account so i can rant in short sentences. 

1. Why is Google forcing us to use Google+. Google friend Connect for blogging and Facebook were perfectly alright for me..till blogging starts paying I can't afford to spend more time on social media than I do right now.

2. I don't get the circles thing joo. Well I do sort of (I understand sets and subsets from those Maths days). Some people are strictly friends, some can be friends and following, Some friend and family, Some friend, following and family. Just that its tiresome. Feel like making friends all over again.
Google+ can never become another Facebook or Twitter. Yeah I said it and I am ready to swallow my words with a glass of bitter lemon if it does.

3. Google+ interface is weird or should i say not attractive or maybe Zuckerberg has got us all Faceblued. Google you can't afford to be slow with your changes like you are on Blogger. See, it took you almost 3 yrs to introduce threaded comments. Enough said.

Notwithstanding, I still love Google. Imagine if we all had to pay for the awesome services they give for free. Eg. Gmail -  I use Outlook on my laptop and with Gmail which pulls mail (sort of what a blackberry does) so i can work on my mail online or offline. Yahoo requires you to subscribe and pay for that service.

Google docs - I used the free Survey software to do my thesis. Thankfully a friend recommended it before i spent 28 pounds for the same service on Survey Monkey. Moreover they offer you some large gigabyte of space to store your documents..all for free.

Picasa - Stores all my pics 
Blogger - Blogger just keeps getting better and better. True. They really listen 

So here I am saying Thank you Google. You are the Pied piper, I am the mouse. where you go, I follow :)

Meanwhile Where are you all? Can you write your handle on Google+ so I can follow or befriend, or familia-rise, whatever you want.

Update it seems it's not yet compulsory to use Google + but i heard the Google connect thingy is closing and when i clicked on someone's blogger profile it took me straight to Google+. I have since realised hers was a random case but yeah I am on Google plus now anyways.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Fame and other drugs

Girl meets Boy. They fall in love. They get married.
All is hunky dory at the beginning.
Then Boy’s career nose dives
As Girl’s career soars
Girl is generous with her love and fame
Boy is generous with his smack and crack
She used to say ‘no’
But familiarity breeds temptation
And her demons – career, sexuality, media, marriage demanded a sacrifice
She succumbs.
Begins to enjoy the false calm
One day she wakes up to realize she can’t live without it –

Hello Drug addiction.

Defined as, compulsive drug seeking and abuse despite the known harmful effects upon functioning in the context of family, health, school, work, and recreational activities.  
 I’d been meaning to write a post about addiction and there’s no better time than now as we mourn the loss of my all time favorite female singer Whitney Houston. I can just picture those lips quaver as they open wide to belt out a tune.
Michael and Whitney are the only singers I have even gone on my knees to pray for. They were the icons of my childhood. When I listen to X factor hopefuls that is the only criterion I judge them with…can I recognize that voice from a thousand others? Are you a Whitney/Mariah/Michael? Sigh. 
I kept hoping she’d rise from the ashes of addiction. I kept waiting for that comeback hit. I truly believed she could do it.

My opinion resonates with many about the cause of death – A bad Brown decision made in 1997. But then there are those who insist that we should stop blaming Bobby. That she always had a choice, after all they’ve been divorced since 2007.
Well, they are equally right – I don’t blame Bobby Brown really. He is who he is. It was the choice she made to love him and loose herself that breaks my heart.

Doug Sellman of the National Addiction Center (US) says that the most important thing to know about addiction may be that addiction is "fundamentally about compulsive behavior". Secondly, such habits originate outside of consciousness. The compulsive sequence of behaviors are so practiced that they can be extremely difficult to avoid initiating, and even harder to interrupt.

I think that makes a lot of sense. It explains why relapses occur. You see, going cold-turkey might rid the body system of the drugs and eliminate physical dependence but the compulsive behavior, basic instincts are harder to kill. 

We don’t really talk much about substance abuse in Nigeria yet it is so pervasive (as usual we pretend it doesn’t happen; just like we think 14yr olds are not sexually active). A public health issue that’s silently destroying youth and homes. Marijuana is the drug of choice and though it is illegal to possess it in Nigeria, I can wager that 60% of our law enforcement officers (police) ON DUTY will not pass a urine test ..just saying.

“Marijuana intoxication can cause distorted perceptions, impaired coordination, difficulty with thinking and problem solving, and problems with learning and memory. Research has shown that, in chronic users, marijuana's adverse impact on learning and memory can last for days or weeks after the acute effects of the drug wear off.2 As a result, someone who smokes marijuana every day may be functioning at a suboptimal intellectual level all of the time.

Think of the irrational shootings carried out by police - Are those actions of a ‘normal’ functioning person?
Area boys? - most of the petty thieving and  violence going on is just to fund their drug use.

The rich ones are not left out. Bright futures that have been buried in the ashes of Igbo/marijuana/dope.  I know friends who are battling sibling-drug addiction in their families. A friend said jewelry and electronics are not safe in her house anymore..cause if her brother is broke and in need of a fix, better be sure he is going to steal and sell whatever he can lay his hands on.

Back in the , of Ibro, a friend at University who came from a wealthy home. He used to be this sharp dresser, fine dude. By his final year, he was a shadow of himself. Ibro walked around campus with uncombed hair, flip flops and wrinkled shirts. From this gentle smooth talker he became loud and confrontational. I don’t know what happened to him case our paths diverged at this point. He frightened me. I’m not sure he graduated.

Drug addiction also hits uncomfortably close to home. I have close kin battling with addiction. This made me a bit too familiar with marijuana. I could easily identify the sweet/sour smell of marijuana from a mix of smells by the time I was 14. It used to shock male friends, they prolly thought I was doping. Lol. Nah, I could never be tempted. I have seen firsthand the havoc it causes.
 I remember finding out that an ex bf smoked cannabis. I came across a drawer filled with the dry leaves in his apartment!!! Not funny.
However, he argued that “he’s been smoking marijuana for relaxation since he was 14 and was not dependent on it. If it was that bad, he wouldn’t have graduated first class nor hold an executive position in a top notch firm’.
Me: Ha..and you have a drawer-full of leaves to ensure you don’t ever run out at midnight. Dependence pls!!

By the time we broke up I could even tell when he was under influence from the way he professed love to me. smh
He quit his job over 7 years ago and has been sorta-loafing about since then as self employed. I’m not knocking his independence I am just convinced that his ‘failure to launch’ is tied to drugs. Cos yeah, he smokes full time now.

Interestingly cannabis isn’t as addictive as heroin and cocaine. Only 9% of users become addicted but this number increases to 17% for those who start young and up to 50% among daily users.

Adverse effects: A number of studies have shown an association between chronic marijuana use and increased rates of anxiety, depression, and schizophrenia.

If you’ve ever seen drug abuse up close and personal, watched movies like Sugarhouse, Trainspotting, Blow, or celebrities – Elvis, Marilyn, Dorothy Dandridge, Britney Spears, Lindsay Lohan then you’d applaud countries like China, Singapore and Malaysia’s for their death penalty rule for drug traffickers.

The difference between the murderer with a gun and the one who lures the innocent into drug taking is aesthetics. A Gunshot is instant and leaves a bloody mess while Drugs have a long term collateral damage.

Addiction isn’t incurable, but the addict can’t do it by himself. God, unwavering family support, empathy but not tolerance, resilient good health, change of environment and the addict’s resolve are integral to the long long journey to recovery.

Adieu Whitney and thank you for the greatest love songs!

Do you think drug use can actually be managed like ?

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Love makes the world a better place

Hey people. Getting your love groove on huh? To all the loved up bloggers hmmm...may you be loved and cherished in return.
For my single folks...Jesus loves you so does Ginger. now pass it forward :p

Sharing with you one of my favorite musical videos from 'Freshly ground' a South Afrikan group. I love their use of colour as a metaphor for differences.

Anyways, have a love-filled day. 

Sigh. Going to have a Val-ala-phone day :(

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