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A Movie a Day Catch-Up (Part I)

I’ll admit I’ve been a bit lazy on my New Year’s Resolution to watch a movie per day.  Work, friends and family don’t exactly offer several opportunities, but I still try to keep to it and watch as much as I can, which has made for a little over a dozen viewings thus far.  To keep things more spaced out than my 2012 recap, I’ll aim for about five movies per post.  I’ll gradually get more of these to you, so here you go, hopefully the first of many updates.

The Road

This film was torture.  What could’ve (and should’ve) been a poignant, engaging piece turned out to be little more than a dragged out, downright agonizing experience.  If the filmmakers wanted to make us feel as miserable as the characters in the film, then job well done.  Except it felt that awful for all the wrong reasons; a lack of sympathy, awkward and annoying characters, no real story or plot, and numbing boredom.

The Prince of Egypt

Better than much of the material Disney was rolling out around the time, The Prince of Egypt made Dreamworks seem like a serious contender for the next supplier of (near) classic animated features…then we got the Madagascar and Shrek sequels.  Regardless, The Prince of Egypt did exactly what any animated feature should, it told a story while taking full advantage of technology and visuals.  There’s a surprising amount of heart and development to both the story and especially the characters too, much more than what several live action films afford us (see above).

Sideways

As an introvert, I found Sideways a very self-reflective piece.  I swear I saw myself as Paul Giamatti’s character, and it still scares me.  It might be odd to use that word when describing a dramedy, but I think it adds all the more humanity and strength to the film.  Paul Giamatti and Thomas Haden Church are a wonderful combination; they’re authentically fleshed out as people who generally don’t get along, but still like and even need each other.  And when you’ve got something as strongly forged as that, the rest of the material essentially writes itself.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

Even though The Hobbit is a 2012 release, I didn’t catch it until the new year.  For the longest time I thought I’d just catch the HFR 3D IMAX showing (look at all those caps), if only for the Star Trek Into Darkness prologue.  But the trip and reception didn’t mix well enough for me, so I caught a standard 2D showing.  My thoughts?  It’s good, just not Lord of the Rings good.  What’s odd is that a lot of the things people didn’t like are things that didn’t bother me.  I didn’t mind the opening in the Shire too much, the dwarfs obnoxious behavior aside; Radaghast I honestly found amusing and a decent overall character; and even though the sets are clearly CGI most of the time, it’s still a beauty to look at.  Plus, I kind of think that’s the point, given the book is seen more as a kind of childhood story for some.  The Lord of the Rings is more real and dark, hence the real sets.  My problems do come with the length and an apparent misuse of development, especially given the fact we have to wait for two more parts.  And while it was great to see Smeagol again, I actually found the whole riddles sequence a bit overrated.  Also, none of the main villainous characters really did anything for me.  I still enjoyed the film and would watch it again if I could set aside the time, but it didn’t leave me suspended like The Lord of the Rings did.

Inglourious Basterds

One of my co-workers lent this movie to me, essentially saying that if I loved Django Unchained, I’ll love this.  I still remembered seeing previews for Inglourious Basterds and feeling like it wouldn’t be my cup of tea.  Still, I took and watched it and, to be honest, my early impressions weren’t far off.  So far the Quentin Tarantino movies I’ve seen have been pretty easy for me to pinpoint my opinion on before I even see it.  The only surprises were Pulp Fiction, which I thought I’d hate and wound up loving, and Django which I figured I’d enjoy, but ended up loving the hell out of it.  Inglourious Basterds managed to accomplish what I thought no Tarantino movie could or should: bore me.  Other than the opening with Christoph Waltz and the “sticky situation”, I couldn’t wait for the movie to end.  Even Reservoir Dogs, a film almost devoid of laughs for me, maintained my interest.  This just did absolutely nothing for me.

 
 

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The Taste of Chocolate

This past weekend brought a doubly delicious treat for me.  For starters, I finished the last of my classes at the University of Central Florida (I’ll be graduating Thursday morning).  The second and sweeter treat, however, was the arrival of the Festival of Chocolate.  Since I’ve been living right off campus, it made attending this decadent event a bit easier.  And when you’re a college student who has to pay for an event that demands $17 just for entry, anything easier is all sweeter.

My expectations were wondrously met as I wandered about, eyes darting back and forth at numerous booths, each simply begging for the last share of my student loan.  Of course, this being the end of the semester and seeing so many overly rich treats, the concern of temptation quickly becomes irrelevant.  And when I say “overly rich,” I don’t exaggerate…someone actually had a heart attack.  Granted, I didn’t actually witness this, but the sweet and rich factor can’t be underestimated.  Until I treated myself to a golf ball-shaped cake drop, I was convinced sweet was synonymous with non-filling.

All of the booths and displays throughout the festival were, to put it simply, overwhelming.  For all of the sweets to crave, I actually found myself initially drawn to trivia posters and boards placed throughout the Arena.  A few weren’t too surprising, such as how people who eat chocolate typically live a year longer than those who might not.  But then there was some more curious trivia, such as how a single chocolate chip can apparently give one person enough energy to walk 150 feet.  Or how about this?  Even though chocolate is the most liked flavor in the United States, we’re far from the greatest chocolate consumers…that honor goes to Switzerland.

There was certainly a fair share of the usual suspects for a festival dedicated to chocolate treats, ranging from large cookies, to immaculately designed cupcakes of all sizes, ice cream, multi-flavored fudge, covered apples, doused marshmallows and many more of what you’d expect to find.

This isn’t to say there weren’t some surprises and twists to find lying about.  Some chocolate sculptures were on display, including an unnamed Chocolate Lab, a life-size jazz man made of fudge, several dresses made out of candy wrappers and even a game of hands-free doughnut-eating (hung above the contestants).  Watching people struggle to chomp and talk while eating their doughnut only made me chuckle, thinking that this must be how dogs feel when we tease them with Beggin’ Strips.

Something else that drew much attention was a wedding cake decorating contest in which four people had two hours to make their best creation.  Two of the contestants were trying their hand at a wedding cake for the first time, while the other two had several under their belts.  It shouldn’t be tough to guess who did better than the others.  Regardless, I have to give credit to anyone who can make a decent-looking cake in such a short span of time, especially since one of the contestants didn’t wind up faring so well (but the judges at least liked the way it tasted).

Not long after the winner was crowned for the cake competition, I wound up making my take-home purchases of the day and went on my way.  The damage came to $18 for four pieces of the aforementioned fudge and five assorted cupcakes (and a brownie bite on the house).  It’s a miracle I haven’t brought myself to finish them all at this point, two days later.

But why should I have all the fun?  Have a look below at some of the photos I took and see a bit of what I saw at the Festival of Chocolate.  If it ever comes near you in the future, then be sure you check it out, especially if you haven’t before!

 
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Posted by on May 1, 2012 in Blog, Food

 

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Quote Review: The Hangover Part 2 (2011)

“You totally butchered my life.”

What ruins The Hangover Part 2 isn’t the fact it’s essentially the same concept, but that so little works even on its own level. The attempts made at humor almost always fall flat, and a generally serious tone only make enjoying this film all the more challenging. A handful of humorous moments aside, this is a complete waste.

 
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Posted by on April 12, 2012 in Film Review, Movie Review

 

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