Rocky Mountain Ramblings

“The Social Network” – Not Only Did I See the Movie but I Wrote a Review October 6, 2010

Filed under: Movie Reviews — rovinglady @ 2:21 am
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Yes, it’s true, I paid $10.50 on a good Denver Saturday night, on it’s second day of release, to sit in a movie theater and watch “The Social Network”, which I and I’m sure many others like to refer to as “The Facebook Movie”. Was it worth it? Eh – the movie wasn’t bad, and it wasn’t really boring, either, but I wouldn’t quite say it was “awesome” or anything. I guess you can’t expect too much from a movie specifically about the origins of the site everybody loves to hate on – “Facebook”.

Perhaps some techies would disagree, but I say the story line was not thrilling, climatic or incredibly interesting. My movie companion brought up the good point that there really aren’t any characters in the movie you feel affection or a genuine liking for. I will, however, say it was portrayed well and featured adept actors, including Justin Timberlake (I thought that looked like him!). The movie held my mind’s captivity for the full two hours, which is more than I can say about the guy sleeping in the chair next to me.

The film is directed by David Fincher, who directed “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” and is currently working on “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”. Through the talent of the main star Jesse Eisenberg, “The Social Network” re-caps the night the social networking site “Facebook” was born, which, it turns out, was an event that occurred after a few beers and a boy/girl conflict.

Actually, that’s not exactly true. The website that was produced that night was the beginning of what would become “Facebook”, but was actually a completely different concept – kind of like the tadpole that becomes a frog. Mark Zuckerberg, President, CEO and co-founder of “Facebook”, first created “Facemash”, a site that allowed his colleagues at Harvard to view pictures of enrolled females and vote on which they thought was better looking. The site gained quick popularity around campus and immediately following its initial launch “Fashmash” received so many visitors the campus’s server crashed.

The popularity and brilliancy behind “Facemash” gained Zuckerberg some attention and he was invited by colleagues to collaborate and write code for an idea they had for a Harvard social networking site. Basically what happened was, Zuckerberg used ideas the colleagues presented to him to change and expand his own site “Facemash”, which was soon re-named “The Facebook”.

“The Facebook” was introduced in February 2004 and started off solely on Harvard campus, but then spread to a few other Ivy League schools, and eventually to college campuses across the county. I personally remember joining “Facebook” in 2005 and it required a college e-mail address. I also personally remember when the website was “thefacebook.com” and that is still the site name I always type in to this day (it automatically re-directs you to facebook.com).

When “Facebook” reached Stanford University in Palo Alto, CA it gained special attention by a young entrepreneur named Sean Parker, co-founder of the free file-sharing service “Napster”. Parker sought out Zuckerberg, suggested he change the site from “The Facebook” to just “Facebook”, and also advised Zuckerberg to move to CA to expand the website, and ultimately business. Zuckerberg took Parker’s advice, moved to CA and then used some of Parker’s business networks to secure investors for the website.

The website boomed and grew more rapidly than anyone may have ever imagined. As current statistics point out, there are currently over 500 million users on “Facebook” that spend over a collective 700 billion minutes per month on the site. CEO, President and co-founder Mark Zuckerberg, born May 14, 1984, is currently the youngest billionaire in the world.

The movie is sure to point out that Zuckerberg was not a very popular guy before, during or after the creation of the site. He is displayed as speaking condescendingly to and of females, he never once in the film made an attempt to “dress to impress” (in one scene he showed up to a business meeting in flannel pajama pants with an untied bathrobe flailing in the wind), and he appears to be out of tune with mainstream society, though that does not seem very uncharacteristic to me of someone with his intelligence.

Granted, the timeline of the film represents a rough patch in Zuckerberg’s life – a time when he was ultimately friendless, going through a lawsuit over the website, and had to settle to pay many millions of dollars. Maybe now he’s doing better – sailing in yachts with hot b*tches and posting status updates from remote islands around the world. Maybe not. Who knows? But we do know one thing – he most likely just got even richer than he was because “The Social Network” topped box office sales, earning somewhere around $23 million the weekend it was released (including my $10.50).

So, what do I get out of having seen “The Social Network”? Well, for one thing, a blog, and I guess maybe a conversation piece. I would not suggest running out to the theater to catch this flick on the big screen, but I reckon it is a slightly engaging story about how another asshole made a shit ton of money.

The end.

 

Movie Review – “Phish 3D” May 10, 2010

Filed under: Movie Reviews — rovinglady @ 2:28 am
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This past weekend I saw “Phish 3D” at the Cinema 12 movie theater in Parsippany, NJ with Wags and Brad. Wags is my friend from college and coincidentally the only person who responded to my Facebook status update that said, “Phish 3D is in Parsippany, who wants to go?” I didn’t think when he replied that it would work out we saw the movie together, especially since I hadn’t even seen the kid in a few years, but wouldn’t you know, that’s how the tale unfolds.

I wasn’t sure if we should have gotten tickets before we went to the theater. Part of me thought it would be sold out, or at least very crowded, but part of me also thought that most heads were probably out doing something a little more fun than seeing Phish footage from the band’s Halloween 2009 festival in the movie theater at 10 PM on a Saturday night. My second presumption proved to be more accurate. I’d say aside from us three, there were about six other people in attendance.

I loaded up on snacks before the show and smuggled them into the theater in my purse. There weren’t too many previews, and no bullshit beginning to the movie. One second I was commenting I want to see the newest “Toy Story” movie, and the next thing I knew I had the closest view ever of the Phish members walking on stage at Indio, CA, the crowd clamored, the beginning chords to “AC/DC Bag” erupted through the surround sound, and I experienced the Phish on the big screen…….while wearing silly 3D glasses that kind of annoyed my vision but were necessary for a clear viewing of the film.

What exactly was 3D about the movie? The balloons in the crowd. Sometimes I felt like I could reach out and touch one, but don’t worry, I never actually tried. The keyboards were 3D, the drums, the disco lights, and the band members from a side view.

Thoughts I had during the movie:

(1) Phish creates such intense music, but they all seem so calm on stage. It’s amazing the sounds, energy and passion they compose by standing there fiddling around on a few instruments!

(2) Phish needs a second drummer. More percussion.
Re: “Undermind.” “Undermind” needs more BOOOOOOOOOOOM!!!!

(3) The movie has very great footage with a pristine, crystal clear view. Incredibly up-close shots and very precise editing! The view of the band is a million times better than one could ever get in concert, even in front row seats. The major downfall is I felt too ridiculous to dance in the aisle, and I felt tortured sitting in a movie theater chair with such powerful music and crowd raging all around me.

(4) “Phish 3D” is a great way to get kids pumped up for tour. I quote myself as saying to Brad during the movie, “If Phish does a festival on the east coast this summer I might have to go. Scratch the ‘might’…..I have to go.”

(5) Considering the low turn-out of the crowd and the incredible quality of the movie, do movie ticket sales even cover what it cost to produce this film? Even though it probably doesn’t matter…….

(6) Negative aspects of the film: For a very short part of the movie the main focus was on a guy who was painting in the crowd, but the videographer shot the guy from the back. You could barely even see what he was painting, and you couldn’t see the stage, all I saw was the back of the guy and his ponytail. The creators went back to this dude and view several times. It just didn’t make sense to me. Maybe somebody knew him. Another negative aspect was the crowd roaring was way too loud for the surround sound. It was ear piercing.

But alas, nothing but love for the Phish……the movie was good and it kept me entertained and well behaved on a Saturday night. Can’t wait til the real thing!!!!!!!

 

Movie review – “God Grew Tired Of Us” November 4, 2009

Filed under: Movie Reviews — rovinglady @ 5:11 pm
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I really felt that “God Grew Tired Of Us,” a National Geographic production, was an excellent, educational and thought-evoking film. It focuses on three Sudanese males who were transplanted to different cities in America in 2005, after living in a refugee camp in Kenya for the previous ten years.
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The transplants, named John Bul Dau, Panther Bior and Daniel Abul Pach, were part of a group of about 27,000 young Sudanese boys, known as the “Lost Boys,” that left their homes on foot in the 1980s to avoid being killed or sterilized during the vicious civil war that has been going on in Sudan for the past several decades. Thousands of children, some just babies, left or were sent away from their homes and families and forced to walk through the desert for up to five years, until they found shelter in United Nations refugee camps in neighboring countries Ethiopia or Kenya.
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The particular camp this movie acquaints viewers with is in Kakuma, Kenya. Here thousands of boys live together, work together and support each other on a daily basis. They are best friends. They are family. They have been through hardships that I don’t believe any god or supreme being would ever intend for. They are malnourished, uneducated, almost pre-historic people. Children in the camps do receive some education, but there is nowhere to go once their lessons are done. There’s not even a single store in sight, let alone places to work. They would probably praise the high heavens every single day to have such a blessed opportunity to have a paying job flipping burgers at McDonald’s.
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I have been to Africa…and the main ideas I took from this movie were very similar to what I took out of my actual two-week excursion in Namibia. Africa is a trip. It is a place out of time…a place where “time” itself is almost irrelevant. It’s a beautiful, amazing, mind-blowing land…but their standard of living, or even knowledge of westernized “standard of living” is much, much different than what we here are exposed to. I took this photo in Namibia. I like to call it “African school bus.”

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I loved how in this film the creators captured the culture shock of the three chosen immigrants moving to America. Here is a great picture. This shows the boys sitting in JFK Airport in New York, having just arrived in America, waiting for a connecting flight. It’s so ironic because New York City is just as much of a trip as Africa is because there are about 649 different cultures visible with a single head rotation.
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As the three transplants are exposed to America their thoughts on our customs amuse me in a sense that they are so right on, and I wondered if one day after the glory wears off they will think that America sucks and is stupid and they miss Africa. I like how the guys comment on Santa Claus and Christmas trees. They wonder what those two figurations have to do with the birth of Jesus Christ. They ask, “Is it in the Bible?”

The newcomers also find that Americans are “unfriendly.” They said nobody helped to show them around town, nor did they feel any sense of communion with their neighbors. Also, our American sense of employment and “family time” is very bizarre to them. Coming from backgrounds of mostly cattle farmers, the migrants are surprised and saddened to find that people in the same family work different types of jobs, and that people in the same family work different hours, resulting in much less time spent together.

I think most of the Sudanese American transplants are very grateful for this unimaginable opportunity to live and work in the United States, so far removed from the horrendous accounts they witnessed as children, though it is apparant they struggle with loneliness.

According to Wikipedia, several thousand “Lost Boys” have been uprooted to America, with the largest percentage of them living in Omaha, Nebraska. At the end of “God Grew Tired of Us” they showed a Lost Boys convention where many of them were reunited for the first time since moving to America. It was funny and kind of sad to see a majority of the Lost Boys so sucked into our culture; wearing trendy, name-brand clothing, do-rags, flat-brimmed hats and American sports teams apparel…though others still seemed to be holding on to their traditional customs.

I really enjoyed this movie and I am interested in learning more about the situation. Good job, Nat Geo!

 

Movie review – “Where the Wild Things Are” October 18, 2009

Filed under: Movie Reviews — rovinglady @ 3:32 pm
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Last night, on its second day of big screen release, I went to the theater to see “Where the Wild Things Are”. I chose to go do this so that I could have a relaxing and inexpensive Saturday night. I chose to go do this instead of traveling to and from NYC to see two of my most favorite bands, Yonder Mountain String Band and Railroad Earth play together at the Nokia Theater with about 10 of my old, dear, music-loving, dance-feigning college friends. In terms of ‘enjoying my Saturday night entertainment’ I most certainly made the wrong decision.
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On a scale of 1-10, I give “Where the Wild Things Are” a 2.5 or 3. If my movie companion had agreed, I would have walked out of the film less than 45 minutes into it, but when I suggested the idea of leaving early he wanted to stay, so stay we did…even though “enjoy”, we really did not.

The story line was wicked depressing. It’s supposed to be a film for children, but the plot is so emotionally intense it should be rated at least PG-13. It’s pretty much a film targeted at troubled children who are having a difficult time coping with a parent’s divorce. However, the story line did nothing to raise said child’s spirits, it did not comfort the child or teach the child an invaluable lesson that “things will be alright in the end.” Although, the film did focus on the idea that children can use their imagination to escape the reality of a world they already hate at such a young age.

The movie displayed a boisterous little boy, Max, who wrecks havoc and runs around out of control torturing his family and pet dog in what I thought was a raccoon costume, but apparently was supposed to be a wolf.
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I understood that Max felt neglected and unloved as a result of his parents’ divorce, but my lord, I hope I never have a child like that. He was always screaming and shouting and running and breaking things…all in that silly costume that really couldn’t have made him feel superior to anyone else. It was just a fluff ball outfit for 4 year-olds, but apparently he liked it. Whatever floats your boat, Max.

One night Max got mad at his mom and ran away from the house. His mom must have taken him sailing a lot in the past, because Max ran to a body of water (which looked to me like an ocean) hopped into somebody’s sailboat and sailed on out into the night for several days with no food or fresh water…braving storms and riding the waves…all in that precious little costume. Eventually he reached an island, miraculously survived his boat being thrown around in rough, gigantic waves, landed the boat on some rocks, was smart enough to think to pull to boat over to calm water and dock it so that when he was ready, he could sail on back home. A very intelligent character and sailor, that Max.

As depicted in the 1963 children’s picture book by Maurice Sendak, Max finds some large animal/monsters on the island. The animal/monsters agree to make Max their king if he promises he can prevent them from ever feeling sad or lonely.
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Max stayed in the community for multiple nights, orchestrated the building of a large group home and unsuccessfully tried to help the animal/monsters cope with their mental issues and come to an understanding that relationships don’t always work out, times and situations always change whether you like it or not and life, unfortunately, isn’t one big joy ride.
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Eventually Max decided he was ready to go back home, re-traced the exact route he took the get to the island and ran back to his mom who probably hadn’t slept a wink since Max was gone and developed at least 15 gray hairs because of the situation…though I wasn’t sure if it was supposed to appear as though Max had been gone for several days or only a few hours or even minutes.

There was never any uplifting moment in the film, and the second it ended I jumped out of my seat, more than ready to leave. The animation of the characters was well-done, the acting was professional and the camera shots were to my liking. I heard the young woman in front of me say, “That was awesome!” after the film ended, but I really have to disagree. My movie companion commented that the girl who thought it was awesome was laughing at scenes the entire movie that weren’t even funny. “As far as a plot was concerned, it was snooze-ville 99,” he said.

I would not recommend this movie.
Bye bye.

 

Movie review – “The Soloist” October 3, 2009

Filed under: Movie Reviews — rovinglady @ 2:08 am
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“The Soloist” is the true-life tale and eye-opening account of the life of a Los Angeles homeless man, street musician and Skid Row inhabitant named Nathaniel Anthony Ayers, played by Jamie Foxx.

Produced in 2008, this drama takes the viewer on an intriguing and humbling trail, down which one day in a small park, a man on a two-stringed violin attracted the attention of a columnist from the LA Times, and ultimately, the attention of the world.

LA Times columnist Steve Lopez, played by Robert Downey Jr., learned in his first encounter with Ayers that he had at one time been a student at The Juilliard School of Music. Lopez decided to write a column about Ayers because he thought it would make an interesting story to tell readers how a Juilliard educated man ended up on the streets of Los Angeles, with a shopping cart.

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It’s never actually diagnosed in the movie, but it is suggested that Ayers has some sort of mental disorder, such as schizophrenia. He seemed to like to dress in costume. He liked to play music under the tunnels of highway overpasses, because he felt that’s when the music was most alive, when it was conjoined with all the sounds of the city.

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As portrayed in the movie, Lopez’s columns about Ayers drew some significant attention. His research and what became a friendship with Ayers required Lopez to spend time in Skid Row, Los Angeles. Skid Row is a small part of the city designated by the government as a place where homeless people are allowed to sleep on the streets.

From what I saw in the movie and can compare to my own life, Skid Row is kind of like a music festival. There were streets lined with people and tents. There was action, there was hustling, and there was bustling…But honey, there ain’t no band coming on any sort of stage at Skid Row. It is just blocks of homeless people…cardboard boxes…drugs…violence…mentally ill…and apparently a man named Ayers who captivated some of his homeless comrades with his musical performances.

A city donation of $50 million to help improve Skid Row was a direct result of the publication of Ayer’s story…though I am not sure if that happened in actuality, or only in the movie. A quick Google search did not answer my question.

I think the most important theme people involved with this story wanted to get across to viewers is the value of a friendship. In this situation an unlikely encounter lead two strangers into a kind of weird friendship, but it benefitted both of their lives immeasurably.

I give “The Soloist” an A because it was a great human interest story. Heck, maybe I’ll go befriend a bum….

 

Movie review – “Into the Arms of Strangers, Stories of the Kindertransport” September 23, 2009

I just finished watching my first Netflix movie, “Into the Arms of Strangers, Stories of the Kindertransport.” Talk about a tear jerker! The story was a documentary told through survivors’ memories and photos, as well as archival footage. Surprisingly, I had never known about the Kindertransport before watching this movie.

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The Kindertransport was a train/ship system that took about 10,000 children from 1938-1939 from Nazi conquered areas and brought them to England where very generous families accepted the refugees into their homes. The children were sent away from their homelands by their parents just before WW2 broke out and were able to live relatively normal childhoods with their new English families, who took care of the children and made sure they were educated and looked after. Many of the Kindertransport children lost touch with their parents during the war and came to find out years later their families had died in the Holocaust.

According to the movie, 1.5 million children perished in the Holocaust, and only 10,000 were saved from the Kindertransport. What a noble, social and progressive idea the Kindertransport was! I find it hard to believe anything of the like would occur in the present time. Imagine CNN news announced tonight that America was going to be opening its doors to thousands of adolescent war refugees from Iraq, Darfur or Sudan, and that any family who wants to take in a child can show up at JFK, O’Hare or Los Angeles International Airports on Saturday to pick out a child to bring home? That would be the day!

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One female survivor who shares her story on the documentary boarded the Kindertransport train as a child, but her father pulled her out the window as the train began to roll away because he didn’t want to lose her. A few years later that girl was sent to Auschwitz, the largest of Germany’s concentration and extermination camps. She ended up in eight different camps and by the time she was liberated at age 20, she weighed 58 pounds. It really makes me think that even as much as I might think my life “sucks,” I have no idea and probably never will know the turmoil others have been through. My life seems as sweet as a German chocolate cupcake compared to the story I just learned.

This movie was very interesting to me and left me feeling extremely emotional and sympathetic. I recommend this movie to anyone who takes an interest in history, Nazi Germany and/or documentaries. Although I felt like I was in high school history class while I was watching it, my eyes were glued to the screen the entire two hours. The movie has some intriguing old footage that really helped me feel and understand exactly what was going on at the time.

I really can’t believe that one man, Adolf Hitler, could have been so incredibly evil and could have risen to such power and performed as many horrible acts as he did. Not only did he destroy land, cities and cultures, but he put an end to millions of lives. And for the people that survived his vicious and atrocious wrath, he left them with mental wounds, experiences and memories that I wouldn’t even dream about in my worst nightmare. I would like to end this by stating that I hope Adolf Hitler is a tortured, rotting, persecuted, agonizing, mutilated soul that does not feel any sort of peace or happiness in his resting place. Thank you.

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