Melina Gunnett

October 25, 2012

Review – The Sessions

Filed under: Review — Tags: , , , , , , , , — Melina Gunnett @ 1:23 AM

The Sessions was a difficult film to watch. Not because it was bad, it was actually rather well done, but because of the subject matter. Sessions is a docudrama about Mark O’Brein, a writer and poet who contract polo at a young age and live most of his life in an iron lung. The film covers the last decade of his life.

O’Brein (John Hawkes) his hired to write an article on sex for the disabled. While doing research for the article he begins to wonder about the possibility of having sex himself. Deeply religious he consults his priest (William H. Macy) and eventually hires a sex surrogate (Helen Hunt) to help him explore his capabilities.

While the focus of the film is O’Brien’s sessions with his sexual surrogate, the film is also about his relationships with those around him. While O’Brien had almost no control over his muscles from the neck down and could only remain out of his iron lung for a few hours a day, he was still determined to live as full of a life as possible. He attended and graduated from college and continued to go out into the world on gurney with the aid of his caretakers.

It is through his interactions with these caretakers, his priest and his surrogate that we see glimpses of the wit and intelligence that made O’Brein such a good writer. Samples of his poetry are also interspersed through out the film, giving us an even deeper glimpse into the thoughts and emotions of the man trapped within his own body.

The film is handled tastefully, but it does center around sex and audiences should be prepared for a significant about of nudity.

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October 23, 2012

Review – Cloud Atlas

Filed under: Review — Tags: , , , , , , — Melina Gunnett @ 8:53 PM

I walked away from this movie feeling like I needed to see it again just to catch pieces and connections that I know  I missed. I’m Okay with that, its a Wachowski film. This is a complicated movie, with six interlacing plot lines, and the same cast members portraying different characters in each vignette.

“Our lives are not our own. We are bound to others, past and present, and by each crime and every kindness, we birth our future.” Madame Horrox

 

The Cloud Atlas Sextet is a composition by one one of the characters, Robert Frobisher. Each movement represents its own time, its own story, and is the life music for the character with the comet birthmark.

It is hard to say much more about the story without giving spoilers. The acting is good all around. I even liked Halle Berry, who up until now I had always considered a fairly weak actress. The make up and consumes should both be expecting Oscar nods as should the FX team.

I am surprised to see how many of the “professionals” have been panning this movie. I can understand that it isn’t to everyone’s taste. I’m not particularly fond of movies that jump around between story arcs myself, but in this particular case it is well done and I can not think of any other way to show this particular movie. Had it been filmed linearly, many of the connections would have been lost.

I suspect that the biggest problem most of these critics are having with the film is – they just don’t get it. – People tend to dislike things they don’t understand. I think this movie will go over well with it’s target audience (Science Fiction/Fantasy Fans). I know I will be buying the DVD.

 

October 21, 2012

Review – Lincoln

Filed under: Review — Tags: , , , , , — Melina Gunnett @ 4:01 PM

Lincoln – A name I expect to hear called over and over this Oscar season.

Steven Spielberg has once again brought an amazing docudrama to the big screen. This movie is based on Doris Kearns Goodwin’s Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln. It begins shortly after Abraham Lincoln’s election to a second term in office and takes us through to his assignation. The story focuses on the fight to end the civil war and pass the thirteenth amendment.

Not only is the cast phenomenal, pulling the characters right of history and on to the screen, [You can click here for a full listing of the amazing cast] but the rest of the movie was just as well done. The sets, costume, and make-up artists all came together to turn well known actors into the historical personages they are portraying.

Unless you completely skipped high school history, you probably have a pretty good idea who won the American Civil War and wither or not the 13th amendment, outlawing slavery and involuntary servitude, passed. The true art of this film is in the way it takes those topics and shows us the details behind them making a tense, suspenseful story out of a history we already know.

I came away from this film, not only awed by the skill with which it was done, but with a wonderful reminder as another presidential election year comes to an end – Things do change and people can come together, cross lines and accomplish amazing things if the are willing.

October 19, 2012

Time Keeps on Slipping

Filed under: Odd Thoughts — Tags: , , , — Melina Gunnett @ 11:37 PM

While work has only take up a few hours each day and movie screenings a few more, it seems to have made my time vanish. I finally took a step back today and ask myself why. The answer – I’m not organized, so I don’t have a plan to make my time between activities useful. The solution, sit down and program my schedule into my calendar.

It sounds simple, and truthfully it was, but it is amazing how much time I spend trying to remember what goes when so that I don’t miss anything. I literally felt the relief once it was all on the calendar. My phone will now send me alerts so I can spend the rest of my free time getting stuff done instead of sorting through what I should be doing.

I’m hoping this frees up my brain space for more writing time. I only got one story out the door last month, and if I am going to call myself a writer, I need to do more than that. I have several things in my kitty, ready to start pouring out onto paper, so hopefully I will be able to finish up at least one and maybe two more before the month ends.

In the mean time, I’ll have another movie review up tomorrow and I have a couple more schedule for next week.

Oh, and while I’m thinking about time, just a reminder – Here in the US, Day Light Savings time starts up again on Sunday November 3rd. Remember to set your clocks b

October 17, 2012

Review – Alex Cross

Filed under: Review — Tags: , , , — Melina Gunnett @ 8:23 PM

If you are going to watch this movie, I recommend arriving early enough to get a good seat somewhere in center and not too close to the screen. This is an action movie and there is always something moving on the screen. The director has unfortunately chosen to compound this by using hand held “point of view” shots during fight scenes, making it difficult to follow the action from close up.

Detective Doctor Alex Cross is Detroit’s Sherlock Holmes, picking up clues by observation and psychological profiling, but this isn’t a who dun-it movie. We know who the bad guy is. There is some slight suspense in what he is going to do next, but for the most part, this is an out and out revenge flick.

Tyler Perry held his own as Alex Cross, not an easy feat since the part was previously played by Morgan Freeman. Edward Burns also did well as Tommy although it would have been nice to see him with a bit more dialog, I get the feeling that a bit too much was left on the cutting room floor. Actually, most of the movie felt a bit rushed. It was almost seemed like they director wanted push past all that pesky dialog as quickly as possible so he could get on with the action scenes.

If you enjoy action films, this is worth seeing. I’ll give it a B-. It wasn’t great, but I would be willing to see it again.

October 11, 2012

Review – Here Comes the Boom

Filed under: Review — Tags: , , , , , , — Melina Gunnett @ 8:51 PM

I’m going to give this movie a 7 out of 10 and not just because I was feeling a bit nostalgic when them movie opened by taking a motorcycle ride through my old neighborhood. I have to admit that I was a bit surprised at how much I enjoyed this movie. I didn’t think I would like it much more than the Nelly song it is named after. (I should clarify, since I know that Nelly has a lot of fans. – I’m not one of you. – Sorry, just not my thing.) but I ended up both laughing and crying before I left the theater.

Maybe I just need to stop watching trailers. I had expected this to be a mostly physical comedy about a buffoon pretending to be a wrestler to try and raise funds for his school. Instead I found myself watching a heartwarming tale of a teacher who had lost his zeal rediscover his love of teaching by helping to raise funds to save another teacher’s (Henry Winkler) job.

It isn’t all heart tugs, although there are plenty of them, as they are what motivate Voss (Kevin James) throughout. There is also a lot of humor and, for those of you looking forward to seeing Kevin James flattened, several cage matches and a fist full of training scenes.

The lovely Selma Hayek plays Bella, Voss’s futile love interest and Greg Germann (Who, even though he has played dozens of roles since then, I will always remember as Richard Fish from Ally McBeal) plays Voss’es nemesis  Principle Betcher. Germann isn’t the only supporting actor in this film from my favorite TV shows. Charice (Glee) plays one of Voss’s students and sings a wonderful version of Neil Diamond’s Holly Holy and Reggie Lee (Grimm) plays her father.

October 9, 2012

Review – Seven Psychopaths.

In theatres October 12th, 2012

Seven Psychopaths movie posterAfter watching the trailer, I expected Seven Psychopaths to be about the zany antics of a group of dog nappers as they are pursued by the psychopaths they stole their dogs from. While dogs were napped and antics did ensue, that was only part of the plot.

The real story is that of Marty (Colin Farrell), a writer, struggling to finish his screen play which is, not coincidentally, titled “Seven Psychopaths. Billy (Sam Rockwell), Marty’s dog-napping best friend, wants to help. Unfortunately, his help just might get Marty killed.

Seven Psychopaths was written and directed by Martin McDonagh (In Bruges, Six Shooter). The films style reminded me of Quintin Tarantino’s movies, especially in McDonagh’s use of the aestheticization of violence throughout, and I would not be surprised to see McDonagh list him as one of his influences.

The characters in the movie balance between the uncaring psychopathic ruthlessness and devoted dedication to the things they have decided to love and McDonagh has gathered an all star ensemble (Colin Farrell, Sam Rockwell, Woody Harrelson, Christopher Walken, Tom Waits, Abbie Cornish and Olga Kurylenko) to portray them. Harrelson is at his psychotic best and Walken’s dead pan performance was ideal for the role of Hans, Billy’s dog-napping partner.

Seven Psychopaths is the story of the story being written and it is done well. McDonagh allows Marty’s life to become a mockery of the script he is trying to write without turning the film into a complete farce. Each psychopath has their own tale and they are all brought together in, sometimes, unexpected ways. While the movie is filled with chaos, all the pieces are also brought together and somehow, it all works and works well.

I enjoyed Seven Psychopaths and suspect this film will be finding a place on my video rack when it comes out on DVD.

Review – Argo

Filed under: Review — Tags: , , , , , , — Melina Gunnett @ 7:46 PM

I expected Argo to be a good movie, but I did not expect it to be an enjoyable one. I was pleasantly surprised.

I am old enough to remember the Iranian Hostages being taken and the countdown that appeared every night on the evening news for over a year. I am not old enough to remember the details. The only rescue mission I remembered was the spectacular failure of Operation Eagle Claw and that is what I had thought this movie was going to be about.

Instead the movie was about a crazy plan to to rescue the six Americans that had escaped from the Embassy and had hidden themselves at the home of the Canadian Ambassador. I didn’t remember anything about anyone having escaped the U.S. Embassy as it was taken over and for that I am thankful. It allowed me to fully appreciate the suspense as the rescue was attempted.

This plan didn’t involve special forces and/or helicopters., but it was pure Hollywood. They CIA set up a movie company, backed a B-movie Science Fiction film and created positions for each of the six trapped Americans as part of the crew sent to scout locations. The plan was to simply fly them out of the country as part of the crew. Of course nothing is every quite that simple…

Argo was the name of the movie they were theoretically there to scout for. I did a quick search, but it does not seem that the script was ever made into an actually movie (Although there are three other films with that title.). Sad, I would have found in amusing to watch after having heard bits and pieces about it throughout this film. Perhaps the CIA still holds the option on it, or it really was bad enough that no one was willing to produce it.

While the never made Argo may have been a “B” movie at best, Chris Terro’s script was anything but bad. He masterfully mixed humour and tension to keep everyone in suspense throughout the movie. Will they or won’t they make it. You can probably find the answer on the Internet, but if you don’t already know how it ends, I recommend waiting and seeing the movie first.

September 21, 2012

I am not a number. I am a person.

Filed under: Odd Thoughts — Tags: , , , , — Melina Gunnett @ 3:50 AM

Or I would like to think so, but government agencies have a way of making me wonder.  I as I indicated yesterday, the last couple of days my life have been spent trying to get my driver’s license and car plates transferred to Oregon. I have traveled a lot and lived in several states and I just want to say – Congratulations Oregon! Your motor vehicle processes is the worst I have ever had to deal with.

The first thing I did, before I even left the house, was look at the DMV website.  It didn’t help much. Oh, all the information I needed was there if I had only known which menu to drill down in order to find it. I’m usually fairly good at hunting down the link I need, but this time I failed spectacularly.

Unless you need to register a car or get an Oregon driver’s license, the rest of this post probably won’t be of any use to you.

Getting a driver’s license:

 The first thing you need to know is that a valid driver’s license form another state is NOT a valid form of identification at the Oregon DMV. You need a certified birth certificate, a passport, or a ID issued by homeland security. Oh – tribal ID is also accepted IF you are from one of about a dozen tribes they count.

 Once you have proven who you are, the next step is to prove that you live in Oregon. This isn’t too difficult, they will accept a bill or other piece of mail sent to your Oregon address – as long as it was originally sent there. (Forwarded mail doesn’t count). So, while you are expected to transfer your ID as soon as you move to Oregon, they basically won’t let you until your mail catches up with you.

 Those were the only two things I really needed in order to be eligible to take the written test. Of course being allowed to take the test is another matter.  While the DMV is open until 5pm, they stop offering the test at 4pm, which means you need to be in line to get your number around 2pm.  If your number isn’t called in time, you are out of luck. The first day it took nearly two hours for them to get to my number, the second day only about a hour. I suspect it is just luck of the draw.

Oh – If you don’t already have a license from another state, you will need to take the driving test in addition to the written knowledge test. This means making a reservation, probably a couple of weeks in advance.

Registering my car:

Where to start… The answer would be NOT AT THE DMV. Unless you enjoy spending time waiting in lines at government agencies, if you live in the Portland or Medford areas, you need to start at the DEQ (Department of Environmental Quality). You need to have a certificate from them saying your car meets emission standards.

 Even if you don’t live in one of those two areas, the DMV still isn’t where you will want to start.  First you need to go get insurance on the car. In Oregon you are required to have insurance on a vehicle in order to register it. Likewise, you supposed to have a valid registration in order to insure a vehicle. How do you get around this lovely legal conundrum? The answer is, the insurance companies kind of cheat. At least the one I ended up going with did. Even though I had valid plates from another state, they couldn’t use those to insure me in Oregon. They know the government isn’t going to cave in, so they have to. I was able to get insurance on my car using the VIN number as ID.

 (Just to be on the safe side I’m going to go in next week and make sure they have the new plates on file.  I don’t want to risk the insurance company refusing to pay out if I get in an accident just because the information is missing.)

 Once you get past those two things, the rest is actually fairly straight forward. Just bring your title with the DEQ certificate and proof of insurance to the DMV. Oh, you will need proof of your address for this too. So this is one more thing that will have to wait until your mail reaches you.

 

Now that I’ve written it out, the process doesn’t seem that hard. It just took me most of two days because, every I got to the DMV, they sent me off for something else I needed. Hopefully this will prevent someone else from having to go through the same problems I did.

Oh, one more thing — bring lots of cash.  They don’t take credit or debit cards.

September 19, 2012

Mount Rainier

Filed under: Photographs, Travel — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — Melina Gunnett @ 11:36 PM

I have spent a good part of the last two days hanging around the Oregon DMV trying to get my car registration and driver’s license straighten out. As with most things centred around the words ‘government’ and ‘paperwork’, it was frustrating. I’ll tell you about it tomorrow after I have recovered from the trauma. Today I want to think about more pleasant things, such as my trip up to Mount Rainier last weekend.

I spent the last year living under the shadow of Mount Rainier. Even from a distance the mountain is beautiful. I planned to drive up there numerous times, but something always came up that seemed more important. After all, I could always go up to the mountain another time – it was right there! It finally took moving away to get me to actually take a drive up there.

The drive itself was worth the trip. Had I started earlier in the day, I would have liked to have made a few more stops along the way. There were a couple of little railroad towns along the way that looked like they might be fun to explore. Next time I think I will make reservations for the scenic railroad tour up to Mineral Lake.

Alder Lake

I did stop for a bit at Alder Lake. It caught my eye as I was driving past and I couldn’t resist. The entire Northwest has been experiencing a long dry summer and the Nisqually river is currently no more than a trickle. This meant that Alder lake, which is a reservoir on the Nisqually, is currently low enough to display every long lost stump usually concealed within its depths. I am sure that the lake is normally picturesque, but with so much of the water gone, it was fascinating.

The lake was created in 1945 with the building of Alder dam. There hasn’t been time to grow trees that would provide stumps that large, so those stumps are probably from when the lake was originally created, that meas that they have spent most of the last 77 years underwater. It makes me wonder, if I took a boat out onto the lake, what else I would find.

Instead of renting a boat, I continued on toward Mount Rainier. A few miles before the park entrance I took a little detour by the Ashford Mansion. Okay, it was actually a wrong turn, but it was so pretty I kept going and ended up seeing some interesting things I would have missed out on otherwise. Like a tiny pond with a tee-pee and a wooden boat. This wasn’t a tourist attraction, it was someone’s yard.

teepee lake

I also found the Ashford mansion and a really cool house that I fell in love with. I could easily see myself living there.

Ashford MansionCute House

The road ended up winding back into town (the name of the town was, surprise, surprise, Ashford.). Once again on the correct road, I continued on and finally made it to Rainier Park. I’m not sure what I expected, but what I found was better. From a distance, Mount Rainier always seemed like a stand alone mountain. Up close, while it is the tallest mountain around, it is surrounded by many other mountains and valleys. There were several places through out the park where I could pull over and just enjoy the view as Rainier grew closer.

Mt. Rainier

Interesting peaksThese look outs also provided amazing views of the other weather worn peaks in the area. One of my favourite spots was Narada Falls, just before we reached the summit (Well as close as I could get to the summit by car.). What I could see of the falls was great and next time I plan to Rock wallgive myself enough time to get out and hike the short trail that wanders around the to the front of the falls for a better look. The trail will also put me directly underneath this amazing rock wall, which was on the most interesting outcroppings I saw that day.

Top of the FallsUnfortunately, by the time I reached the falls, it was already getting close to sunset. I didn’t bring a real camera with me, just my phone, and it was getting too dark to take very good pictures even if I had time to take the trail. So back into the car I went and finished the drive up to Paradise – That is what the area nearest the top is called, the Paradise Henry M Jackson Memorial Visitor Center.

I reached the top just as the sun was getting ready to set. The visitor center was already closed for the day, but the there were plenty of placards and trail maps. I hadn’t really thought about hiking, but once I reached the top, I wish I had. The trail up to the Nisqually glacier was only about a mile and would have been spectacular. One more thing to add to my “next time” list.

I got out and walked around for a bit and wished, not for the first of the last time that day, that I had left earlier. There will definitely be a next time, because it was already starting to get dark. It was time to turn around and head home.

Rainier from Paradise

The trip down the mountain seemed a lot quicker than the trip up. I am sure it was, since I wasn’t stopping to take photos and look at the scenery. I need to go back to keeping my camping equipment in the car. It would have been a good night to drop a tent somewhere and continue my adventure the next day. Yup, another thing for my “next time” list.

I did make one last stop on the way back. At the base of the mountain there is a little restaurant called the Wildberry Cafe. They specialize in Yak burgers – also on my “next time” list, I had a burger for lunch – and Himalayan dishes. The Himalayan stew was good, their salads are HUGE and next time, after all that hiking, I am going to be hungry enough for their wild berry pie.

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