Archive for May, 2008

Watching Indiana Jones

Warning: Long post, but NO spoilers on The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.

When I was a little girl, I was never interested in adventure films. It was only after having boys that I got to experience this kind of films and stories. It was my oldest son Reggie who introduced me to Harry Potter. He was the one who got me to watch Star Wars and Indiana Jones.

I was glad when I learned last year that they were making a fourth Indiana Jones movie. And I got all excited when the opening of The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull neared. There I found myself again doing an Indy movie marathon. The Indy theme song has been playing in my head ever since.

And today my boys and I watched Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. It’s good to see Dr. Jones again. But it was kind of weird for me. Because I was just watching the first three movies last week and Harrison Ford was so young and fresh in those movies. And here I’m watching him on the big screen in his 60s with gray hair and lines on his face. He still looks good though. I’ve read that he kept fit all these years since there had been plans of doing a fourth Indy film. Well anyway, as Harrison Ford said, Indy’s appeal is not his youth, but his imagination and resourcefulness, his ability to get out of tight situations.

I’ll try not to give out any spoilers but I enjoyed this film just as I did the first three ones. I wasn’t blown away but I think it was still a good movie. It was a thrilling adventure film with the exciting car chases, things blowing off, a temple crumbling down and of course the supernatural element. Indiana Jones is back with his fedora and whip. I didn’t see much whip cracking though. And it was young Mutt Williams, played by Shia Lebeouf, who did much of the hanging and swinging in the jungle. Indy’s love interest in the first movie is also back, Marion Ravenwood (Karen Allen), now Marion Williams.

Before I am tempted to reveal anymore, let me share with you some trivia that I gathered about the Indiana Jones movies.

While they were both vacationing in Maui after the success of Star Wars, Spielberg told Lucas that he wanted to direct a James Bond movie. But Lucas told him that he already had something in mind, something better than James Bond, which he called The Raiders of the Lost Ark. It was about a character named Indiana Jones who is an archeologist who goes around the world looking for antiquities.

At first, Lucas wanted to cast a fresh face so as not to be identified with any project. Tom Selleck was initially cast as Indiana Jones, but he already had a contract for a TV series, Magnum P.I. Spielberg suggested Harrison Ford.

Harrison Ford did as much stunts as he could in the first three movies and even in the fourth film.

Karen Allen was cast as Marion Ravenwood because she was spunky and had a devilish smile like that of Ford’s.

Lucas and Spielberg wanted the series to be about a treasure hunt of mystical objects. They wrote the Nazis in the first movie because they thought that the Nazis were the personification of evil. Also, Hitler was possessed with supernatural artifacts.

In the first movie, Indiana Jones and The Raiders of the Lost Ark, we learned that Indiana was afraid of snakes when he found a snake in the helicopter. And it made me laugh when the pilot said, “That’s my pet snake Reggie.” Well, that is my oldest son’s name, too. And how funny it is that Indy had to encounter 9,000 snakes later on in the Well of Souls. By the way, there’s also a snake in The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. And yes, Indy’s still afraid of snakes.

The second movie, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, is actually a prequel to the first movie. Lucas wanted to give a backstory to the first one.

In the first movie, the female lead was very tough, very strong and very independent. Lucas didn’t want to repeat that character. And so enters Willie Scott, less self-confident, a spoiled brat, a prima donna, and not at home with the outdoors. Spielberg cast Kate Capshaw. But Lucas wanted a blonde this time, so Kate had to bleach her hair. And did you know that Spielberg later on married Kate?

The name of the Shanghai nightclub in the opening of The Temple of Doom is Club Obi Wan, as in Obi Wan Kenobi from Star Wars. I couldn’t help but smile today when I was watching The Kingdom of Crystal Skull and I heard Indy say, “I have a bad feeling about this.” This line has been mentioned in all the six Star Wars movies.

When they were planning the third movie, Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade, they thought that it would be the final installment in the Indiana Jones series. They struggled on how to make it different. They wanted Indy to go after an antiquity rarer than the Shankara Stones or the lost Ark of the Covenant. He was going to go after his father. That was going to be his rescue mission, the antiquity that he retrieves.

They also wanted the third movie to be lighter than The Temple of Doom. And the father-son theme brought humor to this one. The third movie’s my favourite of all in the series, by the way.

Who would they cast as Indy’s father? Who could intimidate Harrison Ford? Since the James Bond film was the father of the Indy movies, who better to play Indy’s father than James Bond himself, Mr. Sean Connery. At first Connery didn’t want to play the part. Because he’s only twelve years older than Ford.

The actor who played young Indy in the third movie was River Phoenix of Stand By Me. He was such a promising actor who died at a young age of 23 due to a drug overdose. He was the older brother of Joaquin Phoenix (of Gladiators and Walk the Line), who once called himself Leaf because he wanted to have a nature-related name like his brother, River, and sisters, Rain and Summer. Their parents were missionaries.

Indiana Jones was named after the family dog. Indiana was also the name of Lucas’ dog. We learned in the third film that Indiana Jones’ real name is Henry Jones, Jr. In the fourth film, he was referred to more often as Henry than Indy.

There were snakes in the first movie, bugs in the second, what else was left for the third movie? Spielberg thought that the viewers would be looking for the equivalent of the snakes and bugs. So they came up with rats. And did you know that Harrison Ford was not actually afraid of snakes? And that he raised lab rats when he was 16 years old? So he wasn’t really put off by them. What did they have then in the fourth movie? You’ll just have to go and find out.


May 31, 2008 at 9:37 pm 11 comments

Feeling the pinch

I don’t think that the price of gas is going down. I’ve been hearing people complaining not just about the price of gas but also the price of almost everything.

Ma-ann from work said that her usual $20.00 a week of gas is not enough anymore.

Libay was also complaining to me on Friday. She and her husband went grocery shopping on Thursday night at Superstore. She spent $75.00 and they only had three bags of groceries. And they didn’t even buy any meats.

I told her that I’ve also been noticing that my grocery bills are going up by the week.

And I was in total shock when I reached the Oriental aisle of Superstore on Saturday to check out the price of rice. Because it went up a few weeks ago.

We consume one bag of this eight-kilo bag of Rooster brand rice per week. About five years ago, a bag of this rice cost about $6.98 and it used to be a ten-kilo bag. Later on, the price went up to $7.98. It stayed there for quite a while. But after some time, the ten kilos became eight kilos, at the same price. It stayed at eight kilos but the price went up to $8.98. It’s been like that for I guess over a year now. And then a few weeks ago, I was surprised that it went up to $10.98. But what can I do? We eat rice everyday. Gotta buy it. And my jaw dropped yesterday when I saw the new price. It shot up to $15.98. Que horror! I checked out the other brands just to compare. The prices are the same. I had no intention of switching brands anyway. We like this brand. It just cooks right.

What about you? Are you also feeling the pinch?

May 25, 2008 at 8:49 pm 22 comments

Queen Victoria, The Coward, and The Kite Runner

It is a long weekend here in Canada, today being Victoria Day. That means we get an extra day off from work (and school). Which is really nice because I’ve been working extra hard these past six months or so.

And just a little trivia for you. Did you know that Canadians originally celebrated Victoria Day on May 24th? That was Queen Victoria’s actual birthday. I learned this when I was studying for my Citizenship exam about twelve years ago. And I remember the date because that is also my birthday. 🙂 But now, we celebrate Victoria Day every third Monday of May, giving us a long weekend.

How does niceheart spend a long weekend, you might ask? Well, I slept in a little bit this morning. I was going to get up at 8:00 am so I could do some closet organizing, but I wasn’t able to get out of bed until an hour later. 😉 Yesterday, my family and I went to the malls, which were a bit crowded for a Sunday in my opinion. But of course, it’s the long weekend. And I rented two movies from Rogers Video for some “me” time. 🙂

The first one has a very long title and it is a very long movie, 160 minutes. That’s two hours and forty minutes. I have to watch it in two sittings. It’s called The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford. The title basically tells you what the story is all about. I only wanted to watch it, no, not because of Brad Pitt, but because he was here in Winnipeg for one day to shoot a few scenes. Okay, I think that every time I mention Brad in my posts, I say that I am not a fan. But I realize now that I’ve seen quite a few of his movies. Does that make me a fan? Okay, here’s a confession. I was turned off by what happened to him and Jen Aniston. Because I liked Jen. I was a fan of Friends. But now I can see that he’s happy with Angie. And I guess, I am turned on seeing how he is a responsible family man now.

Well, anyway, I didn’t go out there on Princess Street that cold fall morning when they transformed it into a Western settting. I recognized the Pantages Theatre in the movie because I was once there when I watched my oldest son sing with his class during a music festival when he was still in grade school. I think I’ve also been to the Burton Cummings Theatre once when it was still an Odeon Cinema. These two theatres were used for the stage recreation of Jesse James’ murder.

Spoilers Alert:

I’ve always wondered why Robert Ford was given the title Coward. At first I thought it was because he was meek or weak. In the beginning of the movie, he was portrayed as an insecure man. And after watching the ending, I think he was labeled a coward because he betrayed who people thought was his friend, the same one who gave him food, bed and shelter. And because he shot him from behind. Does that make one a coward? And that day when he was murdered, I think Jesse knew what was happening. But why did he take off his gun belt? And when he saw Robert’s reflection from the dusty picture frame hanging on the wall, his gun pointing at him, why didn’t he duck or something? I guess he has accepted his fate at that point.

I hope I don’t sound twisted by saying this, but I feel bad for Robert. The people and the government wanted Jesse James dead and when Robert finally killed him, Jesse got all the recognition as the famous outlaw. But when Robert was murdered, he got nothing. As the narrator said at the ending of the movie: “There would be no eulogies for Bob (Robert), no photographs of his body would be sold in sundries stores, no people would crowd the streets in the rain to see his funeral cortege, no biographies would be written about him, no children named after him, no one would ever pay twenty-five cents to stand in the rooms he grew up in.”

The other movie I rented is The Kite Runner. I like the story. I haven’t read the book, although, I thought of buying it yesterday when we were at Chapters book store. But I ended up buying Dan Brown’s Angels and Demons instead. You see, I won $21.00 from a 50/50 draw at work and I wanted to spend it on a book. The Kite Runner is $21.99. If you add the 5 % GST, it will come up to $23.08 and Angels and Demons is only $12.99, $13.64 including the taxes. But it wasn’t only the price that I considered. For me, it’s different when you already read the book and you want to see how it’s played out in the big screen. But if I haven’t read the book yet, and I was going to watch the movie, why buy the book? But now after watching The Kite Runner, I think I’m going to buy the book anyway. I’ve read on the internet that the novel wasn’t portrayed in the movie as graphically as it was in the book.

Spoilers Alert:

Well, anyway, The Kite Runner is a story about two boys, Amir and Hassan, two good friends in Afghanistan, but after witnessing his friend being assaulted by an older boy, a bully, Amir did nothing to defend Hassan. The scene was done so discreetly in the film that I was having second thoughts as to whether Hassan was beaten or actually raped. The event caused a falling apart between the two friends and it haunted Amir through his adult life. But when he received that phone call from Afghanistan from his old friend, Rahim Kahn, when he was already an adult living in America, “Now there is a way to be good again…,” he found a way to redeem himself.

Amir’s betrayal of his friend sort of reminds me of a certain incident that happened in my childhood. It’s not as big as what happened to Amir and Hassan. But I had this good friend in my childhood, you could call us best of friends. We would always go to each others houses, hang out and play. Paper dolls were the craze back then. We would pass by this store where they sell these paper dolls and other novelty items. We had our eye on one of the paperdoll booklets and we decided to save up our allowances, put our money in together and buy the paperdoll booklet together. I received a better allowance than she did and saved up my share a lot quicker that she did. When I thought that we had enough, even though I put in more money, I told her that we should buy it already. And so we did. We played with the paperdoll and its clothes and shared its ownership. But I don’t know why I became greedy one day. I told her I’d pay her back her share that she contributed and I wanted to keep the paperdoll for myself. I can’t remember now how she reacted or if I ever redeemed myself for doing that. But we stayed the best of friends for as long as I stayed in that town.

Here’s an interesting quote from the movie: “There is only one sin, only one. And that is theft. Every other sin is a variation of theft… When you kill a man, you steal a life. You steal his wife’s right to a husband, rob his children of a father. When you tell a lie, you steal someone’s right to the truth. When you cheat, you steal the right to fairness.”

May 19, 2008 at 6:19 pm 19 comments

Watching the jazz man play

This was originally posted in my other blog on May 3, 2008.

Since the jazz man started university, I haven’t had the chance to watch him perfom. It’s not that he hasn’t been playing his flute. Because, he is, since he’s taking a Music course with a major in Jazz Performance. But it’s not like High School anymore where they have concerts at school and some other venue where the parents are invited. He performs at the university and there was this one Saturday night when they had an event and I told him that I might be able to watch him. But he said that there were tickets that were sold and that it’s like a kind of dance thingy.

Also most Monday nights, he hangs out with his friends at this little Italian restaurant and he plays jazz with his friends sometimes. There was also this one time when he performed at a cultural centre here in the city. I planned to go that Tuesday night even if I had to leave my two youngest sons at home alone, but that was a really busy day because my middle guy had a basketball game that day. And the jazz man didn’t think that I should watch his performance because he said that his group was not that prepared and they were performing in this sort of night club thingy and that he had other upcoming performances that I could watch anyway.

And so when that other performance night came, I made sure that I made it there. It was also on a Tuesday night. They had this thing called Mardi Jazz. It was on the second floor of that cultural centre and it was indeed set up like a night club. The jazz man played with his group in the second part of the show. They played several Latin and Jazz pieces. There were five of them at the front playing the flute, trombone, trumphet and saxes and another four at the back on the guitars, drums and keyboard. They also had lady singers and it was just a fun night. I took a couple of pictures and I wish I had recorded at least one of the songs in my digicam. Either one of the familiar tunes or his duet with Danny on the sax. He’s gotten a lot better since high school and he played with such an emotion. But I was kind of shy because I didn’t see anybody else videotaping it. Half of the audience were senior people, probably grandparents of the performers. My mother also came that night to watch him. I was really surprised to see her there even though my son already told me that she was coming. Because if you know my mother, you’ll know that she doesn’t stay up that late. The show went on until almost 11:00 p.m. and it was almost midnight when we got home.

Last weekend, the jazz man also played at this restaurant called Rembrandts Bistro. It’s outside the perimeter and since we have to drive him out there, I told the husband that since he would be playing at 6:30 at night, let’s bring the two younger boys and let’s all have dinner there. The jazz man warned me that the food is expensive. He checked out the website. Oh, that’s okay, I said. It’s just this one time.

We drove out there last Saturday night for half an hour. It was a fancy restaurant. There were these two senior guys who the jazz man was playing with at the balcony. The jazz man’s university friend was supposed to sing that night but she couldn’t make it. So she asked the jazz man if he could play with them instead. He got paid, so that was good. But what I paid for the food was more than what he got. 🙂 But that’s okay. That’s his money anyway. And the kids didn’t care much for the food. Okay, they didn’t like it. They said that we should have just gone to McDonald’s. 🙂

Well, anyway, we also stayed at the balcony. We were the only ones there aside from the musicians. The owner was kind enough to let us stay there so we can watch our son. And our server was very nice and I now realize that it was more of a hassle for him going up the stairs from the kitchen to serve us up there. I only took one shot while they were playing. Now looking back, I feel bad that I didn’t record at least one of the songs they played. I really enjoyed “The Girl From Ipanema” with accompaniment of the flute. Well, maybe next time.

But you know what, I enjoyed watching him better without a video camera in my hand. Because in the past, I couldn’t concentrate on just watching him when I had the camcorder in my hand. I’d be minding where to sit to get a good angle and when to zoom in or out. And I’d be wondering how the video will appear on youtube and if I can post it in my blog. 🙂

May 3, 2008 at 8:15 pm 1 comment