Archive for the ‘Acting’ category

No, Arm & Hammer is not paying me

June 5, 2011

I’ve never really liked my hair. It frizzes so easily. But lately, I’ve disliked it more than usual. I think it all started when I got a perm in January. I started using a special leave-in conditioner to keep my hair moisturized. The problem is I think it led to product buildup on my scalp (I probably should have just used it on the ends of my hair).

I stopped using the leave-in conditioner, yet the buildup wouldn’t go away. It was so annoying– I always felt like my hair was so dirty (even right after showering). I would just put it up in a ponytail so I didn’t have to deal with it. Finally, I decided to research how to fix the problem. I simply looked online, and came across tons of sites advocating baking soda.

So, this morning I put a small amount of shampoo in my hand, and added a quarter-size amount of baking soda. I mixed the two together, and lathered them into my hair. I was sure to rub the mixture across every inch of my scalp, as well as rub as much hair as possible. I also made sure to thoroughly wash the mixture out of my hair.

I blow dried my hair and voila, the buildup was entirely gone (I could actually feel it was gone when my hair was still damp). I feel so great today, and am thinking of wearing my hair down (this is a big deal for me!). Yeah, I’m so happy to have discovered baking soda as a hair product. My only question is: How often should I used it? Also, should I supplement it with a clarifying shampoo (another piece of advice on the Internet)?

I saw The King’s Speech last night

April 1, 2011

I only have a minute, so I’ll just provide my initial thoughts. The King’s Speech was a great movie but I don’t think it should have won the best-picture Oscar this year. The story was too simple/predictable.

What I liked:

  • The acting. Colin Firth exhibited an amazing fake stutter (he played the king), and Helen Bonham Carter charmed as the supportive wife (she’s always good, though). Geoffrey Rush played the king’s speech therapist; I really appreciated his believable portrayal of such an intriguing character (the speech therapist is real tough on the king while having lots of faith in him).
  • That the movie is based on a true story. I had been unaware that King George VI had a severe speech impediment and that he only became king because his older brother, Edward VIII, had to abdicate the throne (for proposing marriage to a divorced American socialite). Edward VIII only ruled for 11 months, making his reign the second-shortest in English history.
  • The music. The renowned Alexandre Desplat composed the majority of the film’s music, and let me say it stays with you (in a good way). I’ve had the lighthearted piano theme song in my head all day.
  • The cinematography. They are some great shots in this movie. For example, when the king and his speech therapist are walking through the fog-filled park, or when the speech therapist is making his way down the lengthy main aisle of the Westminster Abbey.

What I didn’t like:

  • Much of the story is very predictable. I guess it’s the nature of this type of movie, but you pretty much know that the king’s speech is going to be improved. I guess the mystery, though, lies in how he’s going to get there; not the end result.
  • Some of the characters are too vanilla. With the exception of the speech therapist, I felt like the characters were pretty one-dimensional. For example, some were portrayed as highly immoral while others where depicted as extremely upstanding citizens. I don’t think this is the fault of the actors, but rather the screenwriters. Then again, maybe back then things were more black and white.

Some random gastronomical musings

March 6, 2011
  • The Flour Bakery + Cafe’s cookbook rocks. I’ve never actually made anything from the book (nor do I own it), but I’ve sampled two desserts from it. One was a chocolate cupcake with white butter frosting, and the other was a lemon square. A friend of ours brought over some of the lemon squares the other night, and I can’t stop thinking about how good they are.

The remaining lemon squares

  • Wegmans rocks. You’ve all heard of this amazing grocery store right? Each year, the Rochester, NY-based supermarket makes Fortune magazine’s list of best places to work. Not to mention the store has an excellent selection of produce, baked goods, meat, and much more. Well this past week, when I was in Syracuse for some wedding planning, my mom made veal and spaghetti with Wegmans’ vodka sauce.

The sauce is unbelievably tasty. Its ingredients include diced tomatoes, tomato puree, diced onions, cream, olive oil, vodka, Romano cheese, roasted garlic, and basil. She mixed the sauce with cooked mushrooms, put the mixture atop spaghetti, and served it with Wegmans-brand veal.

My mom bought some of the Wegmans-brand veal for me to bring back to Boston.

I love how the veal is nice and skinny. My mom basically dipped the veal pieces into an egg and flour mixture; then covered them with breadcrumbs. She cooked the veal in some olive oil for a couple of minutes, put mozzarella on top of the veal pieces, and microwaved them for a minute. So the cheese was nice and melted atop the crispy veal. Oh my gosh I was in heaven eating this meal. It was of restaurant quality (a good restaurant, that is)!

I stopped by the local wine store, looking for a decent boxed wine. As I was reading the back of this one, a lady giving out samples of another wine told me a couple of customers had just recommended this one. So I went with it. It was pretty reasonably priced ($15 for 1.5 liters, which is two bottles-worth), and it is organic/contains no sulfites. I’m no oenophile; I just like a smooth, decent-tasting wine. Well, this one fits the bill. I mean, it’s a little spicier than the wines I’m used to, but by no means is that a negative thing. I would surely purchase this brand of wine again.

When does art go too far?

January 11, 2011

Every now and then I’m reminded of the “Philosophy of Art” class I took in college. In this class, we discussed different philosophers’ perceptions of what constitutes good and appropriate art. Some philosophers claimed the purpose of art is to inspire us to do good; thus, art must depict positive images, or images of people doing saintly things.

Others believe the purpose of art is to make you feel a full range of emotions; that in doing so your purge yourself of extreme emotions. In other words, when you see something horrible happen to a character in a play, for example (say he’s murdered), you initially feel extremely upset, angry, or fearful. But after experiencing these emotions you realize that your life is very good in comparison. You realize there’s no need to live life with lots of anger or fear. So the act of experiencing a “negative” work of art is in fact cathartic and good for our well-being.

Sometimes I feel like the first group of philosophers were “more correct” and other times I feel the second group had a better grasp of how art should be used. Lately, I’ve felt that “negative” art has resulted in more good than bad. I think that’s because I’ve heard stories of “negative” art encouraging (or at least not preventing) murderers to do bad things. For example, apparently those involved with the New Hampshire murder of Kimberly Cates and attempted murder of her daughter (she was severely attacked) enjoyed watching “Dexter.

I’ve never seen this show before, but know it’s about a serial killer. A guy I know who watches it told me that Dexter is actually a sympathetic character. Crazy, huh (being that he’s a serial character)? I guess life isn’t always black and white, but I fear the blending of good and bad in this show could confuse already deranged people and prompt them to do something bad. Maybe I should watch the show first before jumping to this conclusion.

I have, however, seen movies that blur the lines between good and bad. In “The United State of Leland,” for example, you find yourself asking whether murder can sometimes be justified, or at least viewed with less disdain. One of the characters basically murders an autistic boy because he thinks he is very sad. He wants to put him out of his misery. The movie does not reach a conclusion about whether the murderer did the right or wrong thing. Looking back, part of me thinks this moral relativism is a horrible thing. But the other part of me thinks it’s good the movie makes you think (if only to arrive at the conclusion that the murder was reprehensible).

The thing with these morally muddled shows and movies is reasonable people end the experience with a fairly sound knowledge of what’s right and wrong, despite the reflection that was invoked. Not-so-stable people, however, see a horrible act being glorified or accepted, and take that at face value. They see something honorable about hurting others. And then maybe, just maybe, they do something stupid as a result.

The problem, however, is that something huge would be sacrificed if we only allowed artists to make paintings, shows and movies depicting inspiring actions. Life isn’t always peaches and cream, and we’d be doing truth a disservice by representing it that way. Plus, maybe seeing horrible things does purge of us unhealthy emotions. But unfortunately, crazy people’s minds don’t work the same way as everyone else’s. Who knows, though- maybe even inspiring art wouldn’t keep them from doing something terribly immoral.

Photo credit: www.flickr.com/photos/aneye4apicture/429810396

A couple of good movies

November 3, 2010

I’ve seen both of these within the last month. One is “Departures,”  a Japanese film. Here’s the DVD cover:

The other is “Get Low,” an independent movie starring Robert Duvall, Bill Murray and Sissy Spacek. Here’s the DVD cover:

It’s funny both pictures have a cerulean blue background. Anyway, I saw the Japanese movie at my friend Ina’s house. She had a bunch of girls over to watch an Academy Award-nominated film in the Foreign Language category. We plan to get together again and watch another movie that falls into this category.

Overall, we enjoyed this film. It’s basically about a man who loses his job as a cellist, and must find a new one. He comes across a job listing in the paper, but it doesn’t exactly state what the job is. He goes to an interview, and finds out he’d be cleaning dead bodies and conducting rituals to lead their spirits into the afterlife.

That doesn’t necessarily sound THAT bad, but you come to discover the job has some pretty negative aspects. Like, he gets calls in the middle of the night to retrieve dead bodies from wherever the person died. One lady had been dead for a week or so when she was discovered, so the body was all gross and decomposing when he arrived.

Another difficult aspect of the job is that society looks down on you. I think it’s because Japanese families used to take care of cleaning the body and doing the ceremonies. I think they view the man’s job as something a “stranger” shouldn’t be doing. The man’s wife certainly didn’t approve of what he was doing until she saw him perform some of the rituals. She was moved by their beauty, and her husband’s care at performing them.

The rituals also made a really positive impact on the families of the deceased. Anyway, here are some reasons I like the movie:

  • The beautiful string music
  • The glimpse into Japanese culture (for instance, I learned about their public baths)
  • The way the man’s job gives him a greater appreciation for life
  • The unusual plot
  • The subtle humor

I saw “Get Low” with my mom at an independent movie theater near Syracuse, NY. It’s the story of a hermit (played by Robert Duvall) who decides to throw his own funeral party. The catch is he wants to have the party while he’s still alive.  He finds a funeral home that is willing to help him out (they are mainly in it for the money).

At first, he tells everyone he wants to have the party so all the attendees can tell a story about him. The problem with that idea, however, is no one really knows him. He has lived in seclusion in the woods for over 40 years. Whenever anyone walks onto his property, he greets them with a gun and a threat. So the only stories people have are rumors or about brief unpleasant encounters.

So eventually he starts telling everyone (he and the funeral home are advertising heavily for the party) that he’s going to reveal a secret at the party. He’s going to tell everyone why he’s shunned society for so many years. This is a big draw for the townspeople, and results in a huge turnout at the party.

I’m not going to tell you what he ends up telling everyone, but it’s pretty amazing. I will say that it’s a bad thing he did during his youth.  To repent for his sin, he lived in solitude for all those years. When he felt he had paid his dues, he decided to confess his transgression to everyone. It’s quite a story of redemption.

Here are a few reasons I liked this movie:

  • The strong performances by Robert Duvall and Bill Murray (he heads the funeral home, and is quite funny)
  • The overarching question of why the man lived in seclusion for so long
  • The suggestions that he used to be happy and in love (and your desire to learn more about this)
  • Some of the cheesy but moving dialogue, like a quote about how leaving things alone (like nature) makes them beautiful…I’m really frustrated I can’t find this particular quote online.
  • The movie’s rural setting
  • The fact the movie is based on a true story

I really liked this movie, but not quite as much as “Departures”. I think part of the reason was because for a while you don’t understand why the man would organize a party to have people tell stories about him. You don’t realize there’s another reason for the party until later on, and are kind of confused in the meantime.

Some things I learned about Ingrid Bergman

September 27, 2010

Most of us know Ingrid Bergman from Casablanca, and some of us have seen her in such films as Gaslight, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and Joan of Arc. The other day I decided to learn more about her by listening to  a 2002 radio segment devoted to her life. Here are a few things I learned:

  • She was born in Stockholm, Sweden.
  • Both her parents died when she was a child.
  • She was loved for both her beauty and her acting ability.
  • She was also loved for her combination of European sophistication and American innocence.
  • She wasn’t always innocent, however, getting involved in numerous affairs.
  • Once people found out about the affairs she was vilified.
  • Her appearance was more natural than that of her American actress counterparts (e.g. she didn’t pluck her eyebrows).
  • She played a diversity of roles that gave women more dimension than they had generally been given before.
  • She got used to being in front of a camera during her childhood, when her father habitually took photos of her dressed up in funny hats and costumes.
  • Her acting advice for her daughter, Isabelle Rossellini, was to not do anything. She said that was better than doing something wrong or badly, and that there will always be violins to give your character the right mood.

So there you  have it, some fun facts about the actress!

Photo credit: www.flickr.com/photos/geminicollisionworks/3115497962/sizes/m/in/photostream