Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Movies seen over Summer 2006

Movies seen over Summer 2006 (this years + decades ago):

- "An Inconvenient Truth" - 5/5 stars (amazing commentary and discussion: startling, inspiring, succinct)

- "The Lakehouse" - 3.5/5 stars (good summer flick, but not if you like your movies to make sense)

- "The Devil Wears Prada" - 4.5/5 stars (the only female-empowering movie out amidst action and G-rated inundation, it still carries its own weight and has amazing story, execution and acting. true to the book and with its own flair. the whole brunette journalist image is beginning to grow a bit tiresome, though. I may identify with it, but it's wearisome, especially as they're all waifish, pale, and romantically linked to a superhero of some sort (Rory Gilmore, Lois Lane, Andrea Sachs).)

- "M.A.S.H." - 2/5 stars (boring and horrendous. comedic perhaps for the 1970's, but utterly despicable and rather insulting to the modern intelligentsia, as well as women, in general. The whole "boys will be boys" mentality is rife throughout this movie and despite its setting in South Korea during the Korean War, the excuses and lack of responsibility and accountability is a somber reminder of just how irreverent military structure and training is/can/has been in the United States. Especially with consideration to the problems, scandals and controversies emanating from our current wartime activities, the behavior and representations (bc I think the filmmakers were attempting to shy away from gross characterizations) of women, nurses and notions of male masculinity are appalling.)

- "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest" - 4/5 stars
Full of stomach-turning and entertaining action, humor, cringe-worthy moments, I loved almost every minute of this action movie... enough to forgive the abrupt and blatant lead-in to the trilogy ending sequel. Johnny Depp does not disappoint and neither does Orlando Bloom, but Keira Knightley's portrayal of Elizabeth Swann was rather painful and uninspired, although the problem may lie in the character development instead of the actress. Honestly, the idea of Elizabeth and Jack as a couple, however temporary, convenient or thrilling for story power, repulsed me. Whether this is due to the fact that the first film set up Elizabeth and Will as soul-destined lovers or because Depp's portrayal of Jack has been said to imply a certain undertone of homosexuality ("gay pirate" in tv critic circles) I am not sure, but either way, it doesn't make sense. I don't care if she needed a way to sacrifice Jack for the greater good without his knowledge - it just doesn't work. But other than that, the film had amazing scenes and is lots of fun, especially as a friend-flick. There's plenty of opportunity for hysterical laughter and jaw-dropping stunnedness. Personally, I found the presence of a Chinese-speaking conch-shell guy stitch-pop worthy.

- "Superman Returns" - 4.5/5 stars
Contrary to the response of critics and intelligensia, I both enjoyed and liked this movie a lot. Putting aside the inevitable questions of common sense, logistics and unless Newton's 3rd law is accepted, the pesky laws of physics (Superman gets rid of Lex Luthor's attempt to destroy the Americas in space - only to FALL down to Earth in a potentially gravity-defying act even die-hard fans would find hard to ignore), the basics behind the legend of Superman are there and back, stronger and more vivid than ever before (as far as I know). If I've seen any of the previous movies featuring the Man of Steel, I don't remember it, but this film made up for that. I felt hopeful and inspired upon walking out of the theatre... that's a good thing. Kevin Spacey reaffirms his place in the acting canon while Brandon Routh enters Hollywood in a wonderfully blinding burst of light. Kate Bosworth looks way too young to be a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter with a 5-year-old son, a long-term old flame and an approximately 7-year journalism career with the foremost newspaper in the country, but she delivers a beautiful, graceful and strong performance as Lois Lane. James Marsden is always wonderful to see on screen as he is incredibly attractive with a huge talent for acting, but my goodness, his characters have the worst luck with making women fall in love with him - getting the short end of the stick when the woman's heart goes to the superhero (here, it's Superman; it's Wolverine in X-Men).

- "Bullitt" - 1/5 stars
Granted, I didn't stay for the entire movie and I played cards throughout the portion I was there for, but from what I did watch, this precursor to the modern-day action/detective flick was wildly empty and confusing to follow. Actor Steve McQueen did not make this movie worth watching.

- "The Bandwagon" - 2/5 stars
Fred Astaire and Cyd Charisse in a wacky, light-hearted 50's dance comedy tinged with commentary on the dangers of making too much of art. Great actors, great dancers, horrendous story and presentation. The first third left me befuddled, the second third wincing in pain, and the final third a bit relieved, but even the barely tidy ending could salvage the night for me. Nothing against Cyd Charisse, but I liked the Fred & Ginger films better - they had story that stayed in one place.

"High Noon" (quite good. lived up to expectations as a classic western)

"A Shot In the Dark" (never again... never, never, never again)

"The Manchurian Candidate" (the original, from the 1960's. good, startling, confusing, and more than horrifying what with all the deaths. It's never pleasant when a "good" character is killing more "good" characters.)

"Charade" (quite good. lots of twists and quite funny, as well.)

"Wedding Crashers" (great fun)

"Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest" (for the second time. having previous knowledge of the plot, I was better able to notice details and possible future implications of body language and dialogue.)

"Deadly Game" (middle-late 1990's adventure/mystery/crime drama. terribly formulaic and horribly irritating to any sane and stable mind. you want to knock off every character and writer involved in the making of the movie, and possibly yourself, during the first half... the second half manages to salvage some of the writer's integrity, but that's not saying much.)

Friday, September 29, 2006

The Spirit of Giving

Every day is a day to be filled with giving.

In that spirit, I bring to you an advocacy note for a particular non-profit organization: the Foundation for Grieving Children.

This is a wonderful organization that funds counseling centers, educational events and other avenues and organizations of support for children grieving over the loss of a relative or other loved one. So please check out the site, read the stories, think about how you dealt with instances of grief in your life, and perhaps make a donation or opt to volunteer as fundraiser, researcher or simple awareness raiser.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

“I would like to make an exchange.”

The cashier stopped filing her nails for a moment to
look at the young boy standing across from her.

“This is Customer Service. Exchanges and Returns are
back there.” She jerked her thumb in the general
direction of her left side and quickly returned to
her nails.

The boy glanced towards the dimly lit, seemingly empty
corridor, and sighed. He stood unmoving and quiet,
staring straight at her with an unwavering gaze, the
only sign of nervousness his shifting arms. A girl
stood next to him. No more than 14 years old, she was
clad in a red flowered sundress with her eyes downcast.

“There is no one there, ma’am. This is a matter of
Service, anyway,” he said, looking at the girl beside

Putting down the file, the cashier smiled at him and
asked him what was wrong with his initial purchase.

“Too young,” he replied.

“An older one will cost more.”

“I know.”

“I’ll be right back,” she told him.

The woman got up from her seat. She unlocked the
cubicle door and took the girl by the wrist, pulling
her away from the boy and into a back room. The girl
turned her head to look at the boy, her eyes raised,
silent and empty. But he didn’t notice her.

It was just another day.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

A Single Tear

A single tear in my heart.
… tired from stretching, 
Shades of pulsating red, 
Nearly collapsed
But still whole; 
The heart is not something to be used and discarded - 
At will.
The words written upon it 
Cut into membrane and flesh: 
Beware the instrument used to create, 
The mark left, 
A single tear in my heart, 
Felt for a long time to come; 
Cry through the opening, 
Mix with the blood… 
A single tear to remember the pain - 
Before it heals. 
-- (copyright) By Heather Jean Chin

Free-form thought, written in response to a writing prompt and edited for presentation amongst fellow artists and writers, I consider this poem a reflection of the pain, loneliness and perseverance of all of our human hearts and human souls. The tear is both a painful affliction and healing salt-water, representative of the dual nature of so much in our lives (love-hate, life-death, end-beginning...) and how they beget one another.
Change. Continuation. Growth.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

A Public Service Announcement of Artistic Nature


A Non-Profit Corporation

P.O. Box 960 • Carlsbad CA 92018 • Tel: 760.730.9447 • Cell: 760.310.0177


August 3, 2006
Dear Friends:
Some of you know our story; others have yet to be introduced. If I might just have a few minutes of your time, I would like to tell you just a few things about the theatre and our needs to date.
I founded the children's theatre in the summer of 2004, but could only manage one production. I incorporated Classic Youth Theatre as a non-profit 501(c)(3) in 2005 and produced 4 shows last year; two shows thus far this year with two more productions scheduled before year's end.
The mission of the theatre is to build a tuition free creative environment where the children can come together and explore human character through drama. Intellectually speaking, we have excelled. Two years ago it was simply my theory that the children would connect with such great works of dramatic art as "Cyrano de Bergerac" and "Midsummer Night's Dream", now we know it is a reality.
Originally, we didn't know what types of children would be attracted to the theatre, we didn't know if it would help the children feel more connected to their community and we didn't know if a tuition free theatre was needed. We now know all of these things.
Recently, our local Jr. High School fired its drama director and mothballed its drama department for lack of financial resources. Every child that has been involved in one of our productions has come away with the knowledge that they could accomplish more than they believed they could and most of them enthusiastically remain involved.
70% of the children participating in our productions could never afford the kind of dramatic experience they have gained through participation in Classic Youth Theatre, Inc..
After a long and trying 18 month wait, we have just received our 501(c)(3) certification establishing Classic Youth Theatre, Inc. as a non-profit charitable organization. It is now possible for us to raise money through grants and public funding, but these potential resources won't be realized overnight.
The theatre is in critical need of funding, privately donated money, to get us through the end of the year. Our goal is $120,000 by January 2007.
If you are a patron of the arts, if you support children or education, would you take a moment to browse our web site? Please familiarize yourself with our past accomplishments, the local youth who have benefited from this outstanding grass-roots endeavor, and consider making a donation to help the theater survive.
It would be of great benefit to the hopes and aspirations of these dedicated young people if you would pass their story and this humble request along to others (please cut and paste this e-mail and send it to freinds and loved ones in your address book). With that in mind here's a link to our fundraising page. http://users.adelphia.net/~classicyouththeatre/donations.htm

Thank you so much for helping us get the word out.

With sincere gratitude,
Loralie McGill
Executive Director/Founder

Friday, July 28, 2006

The Hidden Good

I see the good that can be done - that I can play a role in - and I want to make it happen.
I see what one person really can do and I am inspired to dream and reach for more.
I see the gratitude on their faces and the pride, excitement and pure delight in the power that comes with these films (), stories and projects ().
I read about these people, feel only an inkling of their despair, and know in my heart and in my mind that I can make a difference in their lives - make their lives not just "better," but full of possibilities and thus full of hope. I want these children to have an education (). I want them to be able to dream of something outside of their immediate life and to actually feel that there is a possibility of that dream coming true. I want them to have the resources to make these dreams come true.
I read and hear about my peers going out into the world and actively working to change it - to help ALL people; not just the ones who look and talk like us - and I envy them... this is about the only thing I can truly say I am envious of: the opportunity, willingness and support to go out there and make things happen.
Maybe I'll start in education administration or legal and non-profit advocacy and communication, but at some point and preferably at many points, I want to do the field work. For myself and for the people I'd be working with and learning from as well as teaching, I want to experience that which I would be supporting and advocating. On a base level, I need the experience in order to truly understand.

I want to make a real difference... I never was and still am not one for getting my hands dirty in a literal fashion, but I think I"m beginning to realize that the only reason I haven't been a fan is because there hasn't been any reason to stick my hands into it in the first place. Who cares about playing in the beach when it serves no purpose other than to get suntanned or sunburned and to get unnecessarily filthy from dirtified sand and sea water? The view and conducting environmental studies aside, it'd be the glorified equivalent of taking a dip into a heated cesspool of sweat.
And camping... damn insects crawling all over you. That's about my only issue with that.
But if I were teaching kids survival skills or studying the wildlife in the rainforest, that's a different story. There's a purpose there. A real meaning. So whether it's through domestic education programs in high-need, underserved areas in another state or through travelling to a village, town or city in another country in order to teach, work or study, I feel this urge that borders on a need to see what exists outside of the confines of my comfortable lifestyle and neighborhood, heading somwhere where I am truly needed and where I can have the most impact.

As often and as practically as possible, I need to balance my family life with my personal goals and get out there to make it happen.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

No news? Make news.

I'm tired of sitting back and thinking the words will come to me. I'm also tired of thinking and trying so hard to make the words conform to absurd, self-made rigid molds that I shut myself down. Getting up off my ass to DO SOMETHING and MAKE A DIFFERENCE, as Aaron and so many people have said since a long time ago, is not hard. So what the heck am I doing letting deadlines pass by and shutting myself down because my brain says these words are not good enough and the story has to be told a certain way and damn it, my willingness to indulge analysis gets in the way of getting anything done. Screw that.

I don't know if I'm meant to be a journalist or a writer and there is no way that I am going to wax poetic about how it is my passion anymore because talking and writing like that means that it isn't really something I feel. I have to say it because I'm hoping that if I say it enough, I'll believe it and that'll make it true. So no more. Just write it and do it.

Teaching. Yes, I love kids and I think they're adorable and I want to play with them and teach them new things about life and toys and games and people, but I need practice first. Just like in writing. Practice, practice, practice. Proficiency and skill are not going to come any other way. So classes, lessons, do it and get out there and find the best teachers and mentors to help me and there it'll be. No wishful thinking and writing or talking it into reality anymore. Just do it and enjoy it and learn from it and expand on it and share it. Spread it - like really good butter and jam.

Do it, do it, do it - always do it... first, before anything else. Be cautious, but don't be afraid to do it just because there are so many scenarios that can happen. I need this to happen. I need to stop worrying and holding myself back and acting like I can put off for tomorrow what can be done today. Pfut.

So here are my writing archives. And lesson plan archives. All the publishable and enactable products of my work - of getting up and out into the world beyond four walls and doing. Flying is in the feeling, not the measuring of wing span and speed. Weather permitting, yes, but salmon swim upstream every year, so this New Yorker can handle herself in the air. Dip and soar. Feel it. Do it.