Suddenly I See

An audience views a film using 3D glasses

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Went to see Martin Scorsese’s Hugo tonight (review to come!) and we opted for the 3D showing.  I’m not a lover or hater, really, of the medium, but there have certainly been times I loved it, and hated it, depending on the film.  So the news of certain ginormous films being re-released in the next coming months and years in the format has me filled with both excitement and trepidation.

The trailers at Hugo were for a variety of upcoming 3D films, mostly things like The Lorax and The Adventures of Tin-Tin.  But suddenly, a murky, underwater image of a sunken ship appeared on screen and before my “thinking” brain knew what hit it, my “emotional” brain imploded with all the love and intense feelings I have for James Cameron’s Titanic, along with every explosive emotion that came with being 16 and 17 years old, and remembering what I was doing and thinking and saying and smelling when I went to see

Cover of "James Cameron's Titanic"

Cover of James Cameron's Titanic

that flick (NINE times in the theater, no less. It might be a record, just sayin’.).  No lie, when that soaring theme was flooding my ears and a montage of the film was flashing before my eyes, I immediately started crying – I couldn’t help it.  Do I think 3D is going to help this film?  Not really.  To be honest, every time I catch this on TV, I am loath to admit that the special effects haven’t held up, and the acting is cheesy as all get out.  I don’t think retrofitting it to 3D is going to look all that great.  What I AM way pumped for is the opportunity to see this again in a theater.  Some films are sooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo much more fucking magical in an auditorium, surrounded by a screen, darkness, and however-many watts of sound.  I’m not necessarily pumped for the 3D, but I’m stoked into a fire of absolute JOY thinking about it being in an actual theater again.

Tron: Legacy

The same can be said for The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, and the Star Wars films – all being re-released over the next couple of years.  The movies that have blown me away with their 3D-ness were films that were SHOT  in 3D.  Not converted to, after the fact.  Avatar is obviously, and rightfully, the standard, but the under-appreciated Tron: Legacy was a feast to the senses, as was How To Train Your Dragon (whose flight sequences were far more exhilarating than Avatar‘s).  Converting movies gives you Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland (or Clash of the Titans, Transformers, we could go on).  A mediocre film that was quite visually interesting, but when you throw in the post-production 3D, it looks so muddy and stupid, it ends up taking away from whatever you were trying to attain.

I know for a fact that I’ll pay to go see these most (if not all) of these again, they can have my money – I WANT to give it to them.  But not for the 3D.  Just for the enjoyment of having the all-encompassing, immersive, blast-from-my-past adventure of seeing them again on the big screen.

~Annie

Dark Have Been My Dreams Of Late

Zone One is, if you can fathom it, a literary zombie novel.  I know, I know…zombie novels aren’t literary, they’re genre.  But not this one.  This is a zombie novel (and, therefore, a genre novel) written by a literary novelist in a literary style.  And, for my money, it’s a lovely union of the two.  (Full disclosure: I’m a lover of literary fiction.)

Zone One spans 3 days in the life of Mark Spitz, a man filling his time as a “sweeper,” essentially a member of a military-style team of 3 volunteers out to find, kill and dispose of skels (short for skeletons, a.k.a., zombies) or stragglers – people who’ve been bitten and infected but become catatonic, not really a threat.  Though nowhere near as bleak as The Road, this novel is somewhat reminiscent of it.  Colson Whitehead, Zone One‘s author, utilizes such beautiful language – the imagery and honesty painting a vivid and stark picture of a world we’ve all seen before: America ravaged by flesh-eating zombies.  Yet nothing about it feels recycled.

They say the devil lives in the details, and maybe it does, but I say so does genius.  The presence of stragglers and their description is one such detail that adds rich depth to this fictional world.  Kudos to Whitehead for thinking up such a unique element to propel his readers into this grim reality.  Because the truth is, if any infectious agent were to cause an apocalypse of any kind (not necessarily one involving zombies) there would undoubtedly be some who reacted to it differently.  Some who were exposed but still survived, as there were with Smallpox, the Black Plague and AIDS.  And there would be some whose symptoms wouldn’t quite match the symptoms of the majority.  As is the case with the stragglers.  They are infected and slowly dying, but they don’t wander aimlessly in search of human or animal flesh to devour.  Instead, something inside trips up and they spend the rest of their ruined lives repetitively reliving some fragment of their former lives.  A former psychiatrist, for example, sits in the chair in her office, endlessly waiting for her ever-late patient to arrive.  Another woman stands in the dressing room of a deserted bridal shop, cradling a wedding gown, slowly decaying over the dress until she either falls to the ground for lack of physical strength or someone like Mark Spitz happens upon her and ends her mindless existence.  These stragglers make up maybe 10% of the infected and their existence causes Mark Spitz to wonder which of the many mundane routines of his former life would consume him if he were to become a straggler.  Where would he go, what part of his former life would surface through his plague-ridden brain and summon him back?  Details like this set this book so far apart from any other “zombie” novel.  From other novels period.

Another beautifully-executed detail of this fearful world is Post-Apocalypse Stress Disorder, or PASD, and every single survivor suffers from it.  “PASD had as many faces as there were uninfected.”  What Whitehead does so eloquently is showcase the truth of this statement with the varying behaviors of all characters in his novel, including the main character.  They all have baggage.  They all have issues.  They are, each and every one of them, damaged.  And they all express the effects of their damaged psyches a little differently.  Which is exactly how it goes following any major trauma in people’s lives.  Similar though we all are, stress manifests itself in varying degrees and in a variety of ways for each of us.  Mark Spitz tends toward extended internal reveries during which he recalls pieces of the world that no longer exists.  He has trouble speaking with people; basic language often evades him.  Gary, another member of Mark Spitz’s unit, refers to himself in the collective plural we, as he was born one in a set of triplets, his two brothers both long gone.  Kaitlyn, the third member of their unit, seeks order and organization anywhere she can find it, trying to create the illusion of control in a world almost completely devoid of it.

There isn’t much of a plot but that’s no complaint.  The characters are fully developed and the elegant prose moves the story along gracefully.  It’s mostly a 3-day glimpse into an America that’s been transformed by a zombie-creating plague, filled with flashbacks that answer many questions and raise others, its lack of plot more than compensated for by its characterization and its beautifully crafted theme: the devastating but no longer deniable truth that all life, including human life, is random, without design or meaning, and however we might get there, there is but one end for us all.  This story is not for the delusionally optimistic.  Yet, there was no cynicism in its telling, either.  When I reached the end, I felt there was no other place this story could have gone.  I hadn’t predicted it, yet I thought, of course, this is the end.  And I immediately flipped back 15 pages and read it again.

~Nikki

Stuck Still No Turning Back

It was a bit of a crazy week, what with the holiday and all, and there were reruns a plenty, something to be thankful for since it allowed me to catch up on the shows that have been piling up on my DVR.  Of all the series I regularly watch (way too many, by the way), these were the Best of The Best this week:

How To Make It In America: The Season 2 Finale aired this past Sunday and, though far from a perfect episode, it was one of the best of the season.  Ben finally realized that Yoshi is a hack, but not before inadvertently exposing his affair with Nancy – surprisingly not as big a deal as I expected.  He and Cam made up, which warmed the cockles of my heart.  (I love Cam.)  Rachel’s storyline has been weird all season and this episode was another odd installment.  Is she really going to work for the Neanderthal dude?  He’s Ben’s competition, for crying out loud.  First she slept with Domingo and now she’s taking a job from Ben’s rival.  Maybe she’s out for revenge or something.  If so, change it up, girlie.  Ben’s not quite taking the hint.  Regardless, it was a good season closer.  I’m looking forward to what’s next for these guys.  If for no other reason, this show is NYC eye candy like you’ve never seen.  Every episode makes me long to go back to the Big Apple.

The Sing-Off: OH MY GOD!!!!  Pentatonix KILLED it again this week!  If they don’t win this competition, I will swear off reality TV for good.  I literally can’t wait until they put out a CD so I could buy and memorize it.

Sons of Anarchy: Three words: Opie shot Clay!!  Holy mother of mayhem – this season is out of control!  Clay has been progressively turning into a villain all season and I’ve thought for some time now that he would either be dead or in prison before the season finished BUT SERIOUSLY – I can’t believe Opie shot him!  I’m so glad it was Opie, though, since Clay is entirely responsible for both Donna’s and Piney’s deaths.  If anybody deserved to shoot that bastard, it was Opie.  And Otto, oh Otto, you broke my heart.  (To be said like Michael Corleone after a full-on mouth-to-mouth smooch.)  Although, after Bobby read some of that list Otto wrote, I couldn’t hold it against him.  Cannot wait for the 2-part season finale!

Parenthood: This was not my favorite episode of the season BUT, I’m so, so, so insanely happy that Crosby and Jasmine have finally buried the hatchet and gotten back together…that is, if they’re back together for real.  It’s possible they just hooked up in a moment of weakness.  But I suspect they’ll give it another go and I am elated.  On a different note, I’m also glad that Adam didn’t fire Rachel.  She deserves a chance to redeem herself.  Christina, on the other hand, needs to dial down the crazy.  I totally get the jealousy and her insecurity -Rachel is damn near a goddess- but come on!  Adam adores you and is, like, the perfect dad and husband.  And he tolerates your insanity better than any other man (or woman) would!

Happy Endings: Again, not the best overall episode so far this year, but Max and Penny cracked me up this week.  Max is rapidly becoming my favorite character.  And how could he not with lines like this: “I hate kids.  And I’m not talking the type of hate that goes away after a series of zany misadventures where we grow to love each other.  I’m talking a blistering hate of them and their creepy tiny features.”

Did I miss anything…what impressed you the most this week?

~Nikki

Happy Thanksgiving – a post about FOOD!

I’m way too much of a “glass half-empty” type to tell you about the things I’m thankful for today (my Facebook feed is seriously grossing me out this week), and because the whole idea of the Pilgrims and the Indians makes me desperately sad (just read the first chapter of this, which will haunt your dreams and turn your stomach), I decided the best way to commemorate this day would be to talk about one of my favorite things:  FOOD.

Having recently been to New York City for the very first time, my hosts took me to some of their favorite spots, and I definitely had some fantastic meals.  Here’s some of what I ate (Oh yeah, I take pics of food):

  • Clover Club – My first meal in town, and a decadent one at that.  This place was classy, comfortable, and had a really impressive menu.  I felt like we were in a small castle, with the candles, dark wood, and brick.  It was intimate, but also fairly busy.  My friend and tour guide for my trip made me get his favorite item – the lamb burger with goat cheese.  We also had a side of their mac & cheese and steak tartare.  The burger was rich, greasy (in an awesome way), and creamy.  The mac & cheese was fancy, with huge chunks of bacon and breadcrumbs.  I love when traditional fare like this is given a twist; white cheddar and Gruyère are used instead of the same old shitty Velveeta.  I was a steak tartare virgin, and I’ll pretty much eat anything, but I was a tad hesitant, given that this is a raw item.  However, it’s served to you with these fabulous rippled chips – it was like, the best chip dip ever.  A bit pricey, but get over it.
  • New York bagel – Numerous friends and co-workers told me I’d die for a bagel in this town, and they were quite right.  See, I love me a bagel.  And this one was the best one I’ve ever eaten.  Crispy on the outside, SO SOFT inside (nooks and crannies unlike anything I’ve ever seen), and salty as all hell.  Sigh.
  • Building on Bond – A lovely, funky cafe/restaurant, that had a homey vibe – there were people there with friends, and also some alone, on their laptops.  The decor was whack, but in a good way – totally random stuff everywhere – file cabinets, records, a disco ball, yet it all kind of works.  My buddy lives in Brooklyn, and this is one of his favorite places.  He’s really fond of their chicken sandwich, and it didn’t disappoint.   It came with some wonderfully seasoned fries, and I had a really awesome Pinot Noir.  They had a nice list of interesting-sounding cocktails, but as Annie gets older, she finds that straight liquor tastes like nail polish remover, and usually passes on things that aren’t beer or wine.
  • Jacques Torres Chocolate -  My maternal unit saw this guy on “The Chew” and when she discovered I’d be staying in Brooklyn (where he has a store), she begged me to go try the chocolate chip cookie.  We made our way over to DUMBO (a lovely area) and did just that.  I have to say, meh.  It was a perfectly good cookie, but the shop was packed, the employees slight idiots, and the food was a bit stale.  I did not try any of his actual chocolate (which was all beautiful), so I can’t comment on that, however, if the cookie had been fresh and warm, I probably would have enjoyed it more.
  • 5 Napkin Burger – A fun, hopping place (we visited the Upper West Side location), that was like a fancy diner.  I will say I was slightly drunk the whole time we were there, but the service was good, the food was tasty, and their bathroom was super gorgeous and awesome.  Oh yeah, and the “Original 5 Napkin Burger” was pretty damn excellent.  Not the best burger I’ve ever had, but a quite delicious one.  The fries were AWESOME (I love perfectly seasoned fries), and they give you a pickle.  :)  Looking at the menu whilst not inebriated, it seems to be pretty diverse.
  • Rothschilds – Another Brooklyn eatery.  We stopped here for brunch one morning, and ohmydearlord – the BEST. FRENCH. TOAST. EVER. EVER!!!!!!  I’ve provided a photo for your viewing pleasure (and to make you way jealous).  With each bite, I could have started weeping.  For some reason it’s not listed on their online menu, but if memory serves, it was made with challah bread, and my knife cut through it like butter – it was THAT creamy.  Not raw, just magically soft.  The perfect level of sweetness, covered in berries and the most enthralling maple syrup I’ve ever poured.  The place was a tad pretentious, but with food like this, who gives a shit.
  • Natori -  Billed as some of the best sushi in town, we had to give it a try.  A tiny, closet of a restaurant, completely adorable, with a miniature outdoor patio.  The sushi overall wasn’t the best I’ve ever had, but it was quite close.  Our waiter was very friendly, and I can say it was the best Philadelphia roll I’ve ever consumed.

New York City has so many food offerings, it’s like the universe – it defies the confines of your brain’s understanding.  I realize I barely scratched the surface, but I felt like I got to try a varied mix of cuisine.  I can’t wait to visit again, and delve even deeper.

~Annie