January 16, 2011

For the Zen-impaired

Gumballs to count the number of sun salutations I do in a row
Mellow out. Form a mudra with your fingers. Empty the mind. Drop your brain. Be in the present. Concentrate on your breathing.

That was the theme to the first two weeks of the new year for me, but unfortunately I couldn't tap into that. Thoughts stayed trapped in my head, and I couldn't perform even breathing. No, there was no Zen for me.

For a week I took three free yoga classes at one of the local studios to help with the sun salutations, lotus poses, and meditation goals I have. But the focus wasn't there. I couldn't get into poses without quietly venting or being confused. I was surrounded by people whose cars cost as much as my yearly salary and could put their foot behind their head.

I purchased gumballs to help me keep up with the sun salutations as I made my rounds. So far, I've been able to do only five of them. I hated myself for that.

But through these roadblocks claim clarity. My bucket list was invading my yoga practice. Even before this, I didn't -- and still don't -- believe in the healing power of yoga. Yet, I was giving it too much control over me. Make me flexible. Make me thinner. Make me learn to live simply and humbly. Give me inner peace. Yet, of those who know me, they say that yoga has a good effect on me.

For now, I'm taking it one step at a time. I plan to start a three-week meditation series to achieve the one-hour week goal, not thinking about downward-facing dog or hip openers.

January 1, 2011

I learned everything I know from the movies

Before the Centerpiece screening
Before the Centerpiece showing
It's no secret that I love film. It developed at an early age, probably when I was 2, that my addiction began. It started like any other addiction. I went through the normal cimematic phases of life:
  • I was hooked on Disney and wouldn't see any other animated film that wasn't Disney produced up until age 18.
  • Saw "Coming to America" and most of Spike Lee's early films when they were in theaters.
  • Saw Denzel Washington films at age 9. Went through the Keanu Reeves phase from age 11 to 16. 
  • Watched "Driving Miss Daisy" when I was 10 and liked it. 
  • Watched every Oscar telecast since age 10.
  • Obsessed with teen-themed flicks with Leonardo DiCaprio and Alicia Silverstone in middle and high school.
  • Unfortunately watched Jean-Claude Van Demme and Steven Seagal movies on a regular basis.
  • Followed all those Jane Austen/Shakespeare adaptations of the mid- to late 1990s.
  • The only thing I remember about Senior Week in high school was seeing "Contact" at the dollar movie theater.
  • Had already seen all the "Nightmare on Elm Street" and "Friday the 13th" movies before going to college and danced the time warp with "Rocky Horror Picture Show" before freshman year.
  • My first vacation as a responsible adult with a job and a car was to the Savannah Film Festival.
  • I'm a member of the Film Society of Lincoln Center, and I don't live in New York. 
  • I go to the theaters between October and February to see all the potential Best Picture nominees.
  • I saw all but one of last year's 10 Best Picture nominees before the telecast. I watched
With this in mind, I thought that when choosing the 100 movies I would see for this challenge, the choices should go along the lines of refined cinematic taste. I have to keep my reputation of being a connoisseur of all things film. I had this in mind when I went to see "Kidnapped" as part of the Film Society's Spanish Cinema Now program in December.

This is not included in the challenge because I came into the movie about 20 minutes late. I had a free ticket, so I wasn't too mad about missing so much of it. Nevertheless, I am only including films I've seen from beginning to end. Despite the great reviews and the cinema verite qualities to this family-taken-hostage caper, this was by far the worst movie I have ever seen. Needless violence and melodramatic crying were over the top, and I can't believe anyone can find any value to this.

Six days later, my mother suckered me into watching an original Lifetime movie, "Unstable."

I usually hate Lifetime movies with a passion. They're so predictable and lack substance that I can solve the mystery or even know the dialogue within the first five minutes. It's like there's a Mad Libs puzzle used as a script. This link is probably the best to summarize my feelings toward Lifetime movies. However, this movie was a lot more entertaining than "Kidnapped." Unrealistic? Absolutely, but I couldn't stop watching this.

This got me thinking: Do we give more weight to movie in the way they're released? If "Unstable" were to be at the Toronto Film Festival first and not on Lifetime at 2 a.m., I'd probably buy a $20 ticket to see it. I have seen plenty of bad films premiere at top festivals (case in the point my photo from "The Tempest" premiere at the New York Film Festival), and I've spent a great deal of cash to say I saw it first and got to ask the director and its stars a bunch of questions. I've been to red-carpet premieres featuring big names:

Rob Lowe and Jennifer Garner at the TIFF premiere of "The Invention on Lying"
But the fact is a bad film is a bad film no matter how you look at it. Do I anticipate having more Lifetime movies on my list? I actually hope not, but I don't want to spend too much money on cable-quality movies.

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