I've seen a few films lately, and - amazingly - started watching a new television programme without falling decades behind the rest of the universe.
The other weekend I watched The Secret Life of Bees, which was quite good. Dakota Fanning is that rare breed of child actor who may actually go places in future. I'd like to think she might be the 'next' Christina Ricci. I remember being impressed with her in another film not long ago (I can't remember what it was called but it had Robert de Niro in it as her father) and she was very good in ...Bees, too.
(Talking of Christina Ricci, I really need to get Black Snake Moan on DVD. I don't know what it was about that film , but it was absolutely brilliant...)
Immediately after ...Bees I watched Amadeus for the first time in years. I thought I'd not seen it all the way through, but apparently I remembered the ending so I must have done. We watched it at school once when they'd exhausted the endless reshowing of My Left Foot and had decided we couldn't handle Schindler's List... Anyway. I think I'm losing my suspension of disbelief in 'grown-up' films somewhat, because I was bugged throughout Amadeus by the accents and turns of phrase... I think I'd forgotten it was meant to be a comedy, at least in part - an affectionate nod to Mozart rather than a proper biopic.
I really did enjoy the final section, though, when he was trying to finish Requiem on his death bed and translating the symphonies in his head for someone else to write them down. I think that bit really highlighted his genius, and how difficult it is for any artist to translate those images and sounds in their head so that someone else can understand them.
Skipping forward a bit, on Monday night I watched the new version of The Day the Earth Stood Still. (I am beginning to hate the word 'remake', or at least the laziness with which it's bandied about. I think it's somewhat akin to Norma's opinion on making a "comeback". :P) For the most part it was watchable, though it seemed to spend the first hour not doing very much at all, and the last half an hour rushing around trying to cram in the rest of the plot. If anyone is able to play an emotionless monotone alien, however, it's Keanu Reeves.
Also? Jennifer Connelly has aged really badly...
In television news, I started watching Glee because I'd heard good things, and I'm quite enjoying it. For the most part this is because it's a musical, but also because last week it mentioned fanfiction and quoted Sunset Boulevard in the same ten minutes, which pretty much sold me on it. :D
I do feel like it hasn't quite found its feet just yet, and the mishmash of musical styles is a little bit grating (barbershop quartet a capella hip hop = WTF), and feels a bit like they're trying to suck in two entirely disparate breeds of audience... but whatever, it's brainlessly enjoyable (so far), and some of the song arrangements are pretty good. Assuming the cast are actually doing their own singing (some of it looks dubbed but I can't quite tell if that's just because of post-production) then they are at least all appropriately talented...
I also hope it's not going to stick with the format of songs-being-on-stage, which was why I didn't like the film adaptation of Chicago. It just cries out, "Hello, I am a song and I am separate from the narrative!", which is not how musicals work. I would prefer if the songs were properly incorporated into the action (it kind of managed that at the end of episode 2, and I'm not counting those done in 'rehersal' because they're obviously going to be on a stage to start with), rather than being separately choreographed as big numbers. We'll see how it goes.
I don't have a ship
This week at work has been much more bearable than last week, not least because we have heating / a working lift / electrics, and there's been plenty of work to do. I'm trying to make up some hours because I need to take 1.5 flex days before the end of January and currently have 0.14 of an hour. Don't think I'll manage it somehow. (I need to take 1.5 days because Legal's 8-week flex allowance is three days total rather than two, and if you take two days in one four-week period you must take one in the other, ditto for 1.5 - I took 1.5 flex days before Christmas, so am rather stuck.)
This season in choir we are doing Fauré's Requiem (iminently popular) and MacMillan's Seven Last Words from the Cross. Mr MacMillan, whoever you are - you are EVIL.
The MacMillan piece is so complicated that we have been told to achieve at least 75% attendance at rehearsals to be allowed to do the concert. It is very high a lot of the time, insanely complicated and presently makes very little sense. But at least it's mostly in English. Except for that bit in Aramaic. It's one of those pieces which is in the ordinarily comfortable vocal range for a soprano but only if you're not doing it all the time. At one point last night it felt as though my vocal cords had failed to de-contract. Meh.
The hope is that the Fauré will get the punters in, and then they'll experience the MacMillan at the same time, as not that many people will have heard of it, whereas everyone loves a bit of Fauré... To be honest, I'm just glad to be doing something I know for once. :D
Next year at some point we're also doing Cantique de Jean Rancine (another Fauré piece which I have on CD - must revise) and Durufle's Requiem, which I know I sang with Derby Choral Union, but buggered if I can remember a single note of it. Hopefully it will all become crystal clear when we come to rehearse it...
Aaand finally... The other reason I need to gain hours this week is that Paul and I may have to go into the bank on Friday morning, if the branch continue to fail to answer their bloody phones...
Long story short - on Friday Paul was out doing a site visit with his Annoying Colleague, who was driving in a BCC company car. They parked in a pub carpark and didn't spot the "clamping in operation" notice, got clamped and fined £150, of which he had to pay half. So no he has no money and needs to get some from somewhere. We went into the bank Saturday and they said to try again on Monday when things might have changed. Obviously the account manager forgot to contact us, and Paul has been unable to get through to the branch all week, so we're going to go in on Friday to harrass them.
I also forgot to mention that on Sunday we went to visit a friend who's had a very rough year, as an upshot of which he is now very unwell and not like himself at all... The point being that 2009 was mostly shit and 2010 was meant to be better. Thus far, things are not going very well at all.
Anyway, that'll do. I think I've not been updating because it would be mostly doom and gloom. I'll come back when things are looking up. So... probably in about five years. Bye.