Posts Tagged ‘movies’

Maths and Mouse Brains Equal Sunday Fun

Monday, November 7th, 2011

What a great day! I woke up fairly late this morning due to a long and very enjoyable evening entertaining our friends, Sonia and Guibril, last night. After breakfast, I met up with some other friends, Becky and Vivien, and we headed off to the Fondation Cartier – a gallery space owned by the Cartier corporation which houses some very interesting exhibitions. The current exhibition is an exploration of mathematics, and presents an interesting mix of maths and arts in a single space. It is the first Sunday of the month, meaning most galleries in Paris are open for free. Not this one it seems. No matter – we paid our entrance fees and went in.

Fondation Cartier

The Fondation Cartier is in a really nice glass building surrounded by a very pretty garden

The exhibition consisted of seven or so large exhibits, usually requiring you to stand and watch for a fair length of time. The exhibits explored various concepts around mathematics and included robots that are able to learn; a large sphere that had images of mathematical problems projected on it; and descriptions of the mathematics involved in the Hadron Collider. For most of these, I stood back and watched the pretty pictures and said, “WOW!” a lot as completely foreign concepts were thrown at me. I have never been a particularly maths and science person, however I have always wished I was, purely for the stability and ‘factual’ nature of it all. Cultural theory is far too open ended and ‘there is no answer’-ish.

My favourite part of the exhibition was a series of films where mathematicians spoke for about three minutes on what mathematics means to them. Words that were mentioned and that struck a cord with me included creativity, exploration and expression. Obviously the films were made with the topic of mathematics and art in mind, however these mathematicians were passionate about how mathematics provided them with creative outlets and how it was beautiful, magnificent and amazing. A few of the mathematicians admitted their love for the physical shape of lines within equations or geometric forms. A mathematician by the name of Sir Michael Atiyah said that he felt maths to be a more creative way of expressing yourself and that the written word was archaic. I would require further explanation before I could agree with this statement but I found the concept fascinating. My whole concept of mathematics as a dry and quantitative thing was completely refuted by these mathematicians. They were all very passionate about their work and the affect the field has on the way in which the world functions. It was very inspirational.

After the exhibition, we went and ate galettes (yum.) before Becky and Vivien invited me to their laboratory. They are both neuroscientists who are studying (together) the way in which a part of the brain (the hippocampus) affects memory. At least, I think that’s what they’re studying. Anyway, they showed me their lab which is full of very, very cool machinery and instruments which they use to dissect mouse brains into teeny tiny pieces and then study them under microscopes. FASCINATING. They were kind enough to explain everything to me and I got to look in a microscope and then on a large screen I saw the neurones inside a mouse brain. So cool.

Microscope

It's a giant microscope!

I have recently been reading a grant proposal they are working on, hopefully providing them with helpful advice about where to place commas, and I am completely in love with what they are studying. It amazes me to learn what other people do all day and how there are people in the world who are working towards solving problems and finding answers to how humans function and how we can make the world a better place. I makes me feel like what I do all day, every day (ie. nothing) isn’t really having a great impact on the larger picture. That said, I’m not sure I have the brain capacity or the inclination to study for that long in order to do so. So instead I will write about how great Becky and Vivien are and stay out of their way to ensure they can continue to do amazing things.

Becky and Vivien's view

Not only do they have cool machines, they have a great view from their lab, too!

Somewhat connected, yet also not, I am currently reading Brave New World by Aldous Huxley, which makes me wonder about all of these science experiments and the desire for human improvement. Hopefully all science students are forced to read that book to ensure the world doesn’t follow Huxley’s concepts.

Dreaming of a Midnight in Paris

Friday, August 12th, 2011

I have been meeting a lot of new people during my six months in Paris and recently, whenever I mention that I am a writer who has moved to Paris to ‘be inspired’, the person I am speaking to asks if I have seen Woody Allen’s latest film, Midnight in Paris. As I generally dislike Owen Wilson, don’t really enjoy Woody Allen’s work, and found the advertising posters for the movie to be particularly off-putting, I had avoided seeing it. However, everyone insisted that I go and see it and so Tom and I finally spent a rainy afternoon sitting in a tiny cinema, reminiscent of the Luna cinemas in Perth.

Midnight in Paris

Oh it's so awful...

Ok, I will admit it straight away – I cried at the end of the movie. Not because the movie was so amazing or the script so wonderful, but because Owen Wilson’s character was me. Someone searching for something that they can’t necessarily get but hoping that Paris will provide them with the answers. No, I haven’t gone back in time and met amazing writers from the past or fallen in love with someone from the 1920s but I do walk the streets of Paris wearing rose coloured glasses and seeing this city as the be all and end all. The main reason for my tears was that the movie painted Paris as I see it – amazing sites, beautiful people, constant excitement – and it frightens me that I am going to lose it all soon. Owen Wilson’s character arrogantly decides to “move to Paris” – although I do wonder how French immigration feel about that – and all I want to do at the moment is make that declaration myself. Luckily for Owen, visas don’t exist in the movies.

Anyhoo, the movie itself was fun and easy to watch and I didn’t completely hate Owen Wilson but I think that’s just because we suddenly had something in common. The script wasn’t bad, the plot was acceptable and Woody Allen managed to make a fairly exaggerated story line seem somewhat acceptable. It is a fairy tale for adults but who doesn’t like to escape with the fairies every now and then? Plus it was fun to play spotto with the scenes in the movie – I get a bit of an ego kick when I watch a movie set in a city like Paris and tell you exactly where they are. Owen Wilson spends a lot of time down near the bridge Pont Neuf (built by Henry III in the 1500s) and keeps walking past where I explained the history of Paris to my tour groups.

Pont Neuf

Pont Neuf in real life

Oh, and I think the reason why I managed to like Owen Wilson was because I detested his girlfriend and her family so much. Those characters were a bit excessive with their dislike of Paris and their over-the-top wealth. I found them to be more unbelievable than the characters from the past.

Fantastic Work

Friday, August 5th, 2011

I have just discovered three videos entitled “Eat“, “Move“, and “Learn” put together by three Australian guys and supported by STA. You have to go and watch them – this is what travelling is all about. How do I get to be in a position to produce this sort of work? It’s beautiful.

MOVE from Rick Mereki on Vimeo.

Tower Time

Tuesday, March 22nd, 2011

Today the sun was shining, the birds were singing, and Tom was in the mood to climb a tower. And so he took me on a hot date to the top of the Eiffel Tower. If that isn’t cheesey romance, I don’t know what is.

Eiffel Tower

The tower of love

We had put off going up the Eiffel Tower until the weather improved and today was glorious – clear blue skies and sunshine. Tom has a habit of making off-the-cuff decisions and so I was unprepared for the trip up the tower and chose to go for a run in the morning. I also chose to push myself on the run and came home to discover Tom ready to climb 600-plus stairs. My legs are a tad sore but I will sleep well tonight and wake tomorrow with buns of steel.

Paris

I live in this city.

At the top of the tower, Tom gave me the inspirational idea of writing a book on the theme of “Stupid Things American Tourists Say”. Joining the quote we heard at the Vatican on our last trip when an exasperated girl looked at the continuing stairs in front of her and said, “More stairs? You’ve got to be kidding me!”, today I overheard many American tourists gravely concerned that they had been separated from members of their group. Clearly they had buddies and were all supposed to stick together, but I really wanted to reassure them that the levels on the Eiffel Tower aren’t actually that big and the person they had ‘lost’ could only be within 100 metres of them. The problem with writing a book on this subject is that you lose the accent. Perhaps it could come with a tape.

In other great Parisian news, it is currently Printemps du Cinema – three days where all movies in all cinemas are just 3.50 Euros. Wonderful. You would think the cinemas would be impenetrable but we have just returned home from seeing True Grit and there were lots of seats left in the cinema. Tom went and saw some alien invasion movie yesterday and tomorrow night we’ll probably go and see something else. Have to make the most of a bargain!

Oh Dear.

Wednesday, October 20th, 2010

Warning: I am going to ruin the plot of a movie that you should never watch so it doesn’t really matter. Continue reading.

Don’t you hate those moments in life where you raise your expectations about something and then are severely disappointed with the final result? If this is so, never ever watch Chloe – a film starring Julianne Moore, Liam Neeson and the pouty Amanda Seyfried.
Ok, so I felt like going to watch a film and the only film that sounded ok and that was on at a decent hour was Chloe at Luna on Sx. Most movies were on at either 6.30 or 9pm and I wanted to eat some food and then go and see a film and not get home at midnight. Is that too much to ask? Anyway, I had never seen any previews for Chloe or read any reviews or heard anything about it really, other than reading the description on the Luna website. It sounded interesting – a bit of intrigue, drama, sexual tension and some potentially ‘risqué’ concepts. The idea and general concept behind the film wasn’t bad – a woman suspects her husband of cheating so she hires an escort to try to seduce him. This is where it becomes bad. BASICALLY the escort seems to take things too far, the wife gets jealous but then becomes attracted to the escort (apparently because the escort is getting close to the husband and the wife therefore feels closer to him… err… right.) and then there are some lesbian sex scenes, lots of boobs and a lot of “What the hell?!” comments from the audience.

Chloe

The sordid romance begins...

It seems the writer and director of Chloe just wanted to throw in as much nudity, lesbian sex, discussion of genitalia, and random plot changes as possible. At some point, the young, sexy escort who is in love with the wife (yes… that’s right…) becomes insane and tries to kill the wife with a hair pin. The tension between the characters builds up to such a point that the writer clearly realised they had to kill off one of the characters and so there is the “oh no, she has fallen out of the window” death. And so ends the film with the wife, her husband and her disillusioned son (who also had sex with the escort because it only seems fair), doing an uncomfortable three-way glance around the room. The wife turns around and in her hair she is wearing the hair pin that almost killed her. As you do…

When the audience in a movie theatre is laughing in disbelief and murmuring “You’re kidding me…” when a plot direction is revealed, it isn’t necessarily a good thing. Chloe was bad. The plot was full of twists that didn’t make sense and it was generally just over the top. Definitely a DVD movie but only when the DVD has moved into the $2 bargain bin at JB HiFi.

A Series of Wonderful Lines

Tuesday, September 28th, 2010

I watched Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events for the third or fourth time on Sunday night – a brilliant film and one of few movies starring Jim Carrey that I actually enjoy. For those who haven’t seen it, three rich children are orphaned and have to escape from their evil ‘uncle’ Count Olaf who is attempting to kill them to get all of their inheritance. The children move from one relative to the next as Count Olaf changes character and appears on the scene to kill the new guardian and get to the kids.

Every time I watch the film I wait with great anticipation for the section of the movie starring Meryl Streep who plays a long lost Aunt Josephine who lives in a rickety house on the edge of a cliff and who is literally scared of dying in every possible way. Stay away from the fridge, it will squash you flat if it falls. Aunt Josephine is also a grammar addict and picks on people’s faults as they are speaking. Brilliant! There need to be more of these sorts of people in life. Sadly, she is eaten alive by giant leeches. But throughout this section of the movie is one of my favourite movie lines of all time. Count Olaf has dressed himself up as a peg-legged Irish sailor who woos Aunt Josephine with seductive grammar and syntax and then attacked her when the children are out of the house. The children return home to find Aunt Josephine missing and from the cliffs below, Count Olaf cries out, “You stay where you’re at, I’ll come where you’re to!”
Not only is this creepy, but what a brilliant sentence! I literally jump and giggle in my seat when that line in said in the film. A clever piece of wording by the script writers.
While writing this entry, I googled the line and discovered that a version of that line was used as a slogan for a tourism campaign for Fort McMurray in Canada. “Where You At” was created to lure past residents back to their original home towns to visit their families. It would certainly work for me.

Note to Self: The Movie is Never as Good as the Book

Thursday, July 15th, 2010

I knew it. I have always known it. If you read a book you should never see the movie because it will ALWAYS ruin it. When the hype of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo started I decided to go against my natural instincts of poo-pooing overly-popularised books and I read it. And I enjoyed it. I remember thinking at the time that it was a very long and complicated story and wondering how on earth they would condense it into a movie. I finally saw the movie last night and discovered how they did it – by removing key elements and squidging it to fit. It was a bit like a square plug in a round hole – they shaved off the corners to make it the right shape, at the same time losing all of the elements that made that plug square.

My dad (I went on a movie date with my parents. Romantic.) made the valid point that really it should have been turned into a tv series, and even the filming techniques and style of the film suggested ‘Sunday night on the ABC.’ It was over dramatised and the music just made me cringe and if I hadn’t read the book I think there would have been elements that I would have completely missed. The section of him serving his prison sentence didn’t look like prison at all, and the whole Wennerstrom debacle became insignificant. Also, Blomkvist was against taking on the project in the first place and it wasn’t until he was bribed with information on Wennerstrom that he took interest. Anyway, my point is that a book can provide you with the intricate details and background information that a movie can’t. The complex nature of Stieg Larsson’s story needs to be told in a book form and a movie can’t do it justice.

Over all the movie was reasonable – quite graphic in parts and the scenery was pretty. Noomi Rapace who plays Lisbeth Salander does a great job and I can understand the hype around her performance. I wouldn’t rush back to watch it again. And I think I’ll just read the next two books in the series and skip the movie versions.

Girl with the dragon tattoo

Hooray for the book.

New York, I’m Not So Sure It’s Going To Work…

Wednesday, May 19th, 2010

Last night I went and saw New York, I Love You at the Luna cinemas. I had my new Luna Privilege Card to use which was very exciting because no one likes paying full price for films! And I’m very glad I got a discount for this film because it was very disappointing. I had seen previews for it when I had gone to watch some other movies and I had built up my expectations about how brilliant it was going to be. I had imagined a New York-ian version of Love Actually (one of the only decent romantic comedies in existence) and how wrong I was. I read a review of the film on Six Thousand which I should have actually listened to.

New York, I Love You

The poster is ok... movie not so great.

Basically the film is a collaborative work from ten directors who each capture an aspect of “Love in New York” in 8 minutes. These are all then interwoven into one film where characters cross paths, sometimes directly, sometimes simply through passing each other in the street. The stories include a funny old couple who yell and scream at each other yet ultimately can’t live apart; two teenagers on their Prom night; a young guy and an older woman who meet in at a bar and who have a night of forbidden fun; and a random story of a retired songstress who goes to a hotel to commit suicide. The short films themselves all have something interesting about them (except for the strangest tale of a jewish woman who is about to get married but is in love with a Muslim man. It’s just plain awful.) but they are then ‘tied together’ by a poorly acted film maker who is apparently walking around New York and ‘capturing’ these moments on film. As Mel Campbell on Six Thousand says, “The most pretentious storyline is the one meant to cement everything together. An awful video artist (Emilie Ohana) endlessly films people because, y’know, we’re all, like, human, and shit. I think we’re meant to take that warm, fuzzy notion out of the cinema. You might. I didn’t.” Neither did I.

I’m disappointed it wasn’t better. The concept was an interesting one and it could have been exceptionally good. But the problem lies when you try and join together a range of films made by different people and some are good and some are bad. The bad films just look terrible, and the good films lose all credit because you’re too focused on complaining about the bad bits. Instead, I recommend seeing How To Tame Your Dragon which I refused to see until my boyfriend begged me so much that I felt like an evil woman crushing his hopes and dreams. I made him go and see New York, I Love You as a consequence but really he won this film battle.

Classic

Wednesday, March 24th, 2010

I have been reminiscing this morning. When I was younger and stayed overnight at my Grandparents’ my brother and I would wake up early and watch videos. Our viewing included:

  • Mr Bean losing his bathers at the swimming pool
  • A candid camera show
  • For some reason I remember watching a bulldog eating a peanut
  • The Plank.

Now, The Plank was quite something. I managed to find it on YouTube this morning and was astonished to discover it was in colour! I thought I had better share it with everyone. Enjoy.


Burton Gets Lost in Wonderland

Wednesday, March 17th, 2010

Last night I went and saw Tim Burton’s new adaption of Alice in Wonderland. I had been looking forward to the moment for some time, having learnt of its pending existence in the middle of last year. I am a huge Tim Burton fan and feel his collaborations with Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter have been some of the most visually appealing movies ever made. The fact that I think Mr Depp is the hottest man alive helps, but his and Helena’s acting styles combined with Burton’s use of colour, shape and sound make for almost edible visual experiences.

The Queen of Hearts

Can a head get much bigger?

To be honest, I was disappointed with Alice in Wonderland. It didn’t have the same pizzaz, the same kaboom, the same slap in the face as Sweeney Todd and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. There was just something missing and I think some of the special effects let it down. Slayn, the Red Queen’s right hand man, looked fake and undercooked and sometimes it lacked consistency in the look of the digital characters. One moment in particular stands out – the Red Queen requests a pig to put her feet on and the pig looks very flat and almost like it should be appearing in Toy Story 3, rather than a Burton film. Plus I felt the movie was too short and skipped through scenes too quickly. Oh, and it ended with Avril Lavigne singing to the closing credits. WHAT?!?!

But otherwise I enjoyed the film as a whole and encourage everyone to go and see it. There are some classic lines and Johnny recites the one poem that I actually enjoy – Beware the Jabberwock, my son! Good times.