Wednesday, April 30, 2008


Sorry I've been MIA for awhile. I'm getting married in June, and I have been working on my research agenda for my dissertation. That has pretty much sucked away any knitting time.

Knitting news:

But, I have managed to slowly keep plugging along on my shetland triangle. The pattern was originally written with about 8 repeats of the body chart, but I've done 14. I had to add all these repeats because the intended recipient, my mother, complained that the shawl was too small when I showed it to her in December with 8 repeats. I've put my foot down at 14, so I've now started the edging chart.

Movie news:

I did see a bunch of stuff over the past couple months.

Elizabeth: The Golden Age
I liked this movie, even though it was incredibly heavy handed. (We get it! Catholic=Bad! I can totally understand why some Catholics were offended by this movie. ) Nevertheless, Cate Blanchett really owned the role of Elizabeth. It's the strength of her performance that lifts the film from mediocrity.

In Bruges
This is an odd little film written and directed by the playwright Martin McDonagh. It follows in the tradition of many modern Irish plays, dwelling on themes of death, fate, and the plight of the working-man. (Admittedly, I'm basing this assessment after only having read one JM Synge play.) Imagine something depressing along those lines, then throw in a dose of ridiculous gun violence, cocaine, and midgets. The result is oddly funny and quite watchable. I haven't been able to take Colin Farrell seriously before, but he was quite good as the main character in this film. And for some reason Ciaran Hinds (Munich, There Will Be Blood, Persuasion) pops up for an uncredited cameo.

This film is pretty weak in its plotting, but it's so short that it doesn't really matter. The story revolves around a Guy (Glen Hansard) and a Girl (Marketa Irglova) who run into each other on the streets of Dublin and decide to collaborate on a demo album. The Girl and the Guy both have a lot of emotional baggage that prevents them from acting on romantic feelings that are kindled over the course of the ensuing week. But the music they create does help both of them make something new out of their lives. The scene where they first play "Falling Slowly" is fantastic. That song was very deserving of its Oscar.

I neglected to see this before I saw the sequel. In some ways, I'm glad of that, because this film was better, allowing me to end things on a higher note. The plot is hopelessly romanticised (even I could tell things were off, and I haven't read anything about Elizabethan history since sophomore year of college), and like the sequel, it boils everything into a Protestant v. Catholic brawl. Nevertheless, Cate Blanchett again delivers as Elizabeth, and Geoffrey Rush has some striking scenes as Francis Walsingham. I think Joseph Fiennes is largely wasted, but you can always watch Shakespeare in Love to make up for that. The one thing that I thought was really odd about the movie was its sometimes amateurish effects and subtitles. They used this huge, ugly, white lettering to tell us when the action moved to Scotland or The Vatican. And there is one scene where someone gets beaten to death that looks like it's from a low-rent war movie. This doesn't gel well with the otherwise rich atmosphere.

Iron Man
Robert Downey Jr. is the man. I don't even like Tony Stark as a character, and I still had a great time watching this one. (Note: I actually saw this on May 3rd, even though this entry is dated April 30th--I went back and edited this in.)