Movies

Human-alien hybrids changed my life

“So you just figured you’d come here, to the most hostile environment known to man, with no training of any kind, and see how it went? What was going through your head?”

Maybe I was sick of doctors telling me what I couldn’t do.”

This weekend, two months later than the rest of the masses, Sweet and I went to see Avatar.  I’d heard so many amazing things, but we don’t tend to get out to the flicks very often (especially in winter; braving -30 on a Friday night isn’t always our first pick after a busy week), but this week, we decided on a date night of dinner and a movie (followed by late night rock band karaoke, could a girl ask for more?).  And I was STUNNED.

One of the first pieces of dialogue in the movie, there, made me instantly question its relevance to my life.  (Well maybe not instantly, I was initially preoccupied figuring out how to keep 3D glasses on my face over the top of my normal ones, and thoughts of how science was not only correcting my vision but allowing me to see 2D as 3D at the same time.  I’m a nerd, I know.)  The protagonist is an uneducated, physically disabled man who goes on to stand up against evil and save the world.  Seconds after I heard the on-screen exchange, I felt… empowered.  Motivated.  Determined, not only to keep taking small steps to my ongoing goal of overcoming anxiety, but blowing it out of the water – taking a giant leap out of my comfort zone and surprising everybody, most of all myself.

It’s been six months since I made the decision to stop living trapped by a fear that had taken over my life for so long.  I look back on the words in this post in astonishment at the fact that it was only six months ago when I decided I wanted to break free.  I recognised that I had a choice in how I lived my life; I could see what I wanted, but I was choosing to live it differently.  There was a discrepancy between what I dreamed of and held important… and what I was actually doing.  So I made the decision to change everything, and it’s been a journey of small steps, but always choosing to take the risk into new territory in the face of fear, bluffing my way through it… and getting incredible feedback.  Evaluation forms in my classroom full of “strongly agrees”, and this Friday, when I was put in a literal “fishbowl” on the spot in a training room full of staff to demonstrate what I’d learned over the week, inside I was shaking – but I chose to go first.

And as well as some incredible feedback, I got a round of applause! These small victories have kept me going – checking things off lists, practicing with increasingly difficult situations, and getting through them okay – I have an incredible sense of momentum, and I can’t wait for the day I can not only speak in front of a large group without my cheeks flushing or my heart racing, but the day I’m fuelled by the adrenaline and self-belief to actually want to do it.

The quote from the movie really made me think.  It’s taken six months to get to where I am now, but I still have a long way to go.  Every time I’ve pushed myself along the way, chosen to take a step – my initial worries were blown away by positive feedback; success.  I still get nervous – but I don’t let it stop me any more.  I’m no longer held back on the outside – I just want to be totally free on the inside, too.  My outlook has changed enormously – and I realise that the power of choice, making the decision and actively following through has been invaluable.  So if I’ve done okay in my little steps – what if I took a leap? Instead of following my PowerPoint to the letter next class, what if I threw things in on the spot? Games, jokes… and delivered with passion, positivity, and total confidence? It’s the people who can do that effortlessly that inspire me, because they can use it to make such a difference in people’s lives.  And, for the time being, at least – I’m in a position where I could potentially do that.

Found on Caro's blog

Avatar was not only visually stunning, incredibly written, and moved me to tears – but those first few words fuelled me with a desire to reach the finish line.  I’m going to choose to trust those little victories and take a risk next time I get up there.  I’m going to speak up, make people laugh, and really try be a positive influence in my little corner of the world.  Not for myself, but for the hope I might make a difference if I do.  I’m faced with the same choice I was back in July, just on a slightly larger scale.  I see how I’m choosing to live, choosing to let the nerves and anxiety sometimes get the better of me before I get up in front of people, resulting in an impression of a girl who’s uncertain and scared… I’m choosing to appear nervous, and I have the choice not to.  I think now, it’s time to take another risk.  What’s “going through my head”, as the movie said?

Maybe I’m sick of thinking of the things I can’t do.  I’m going to show the world I can.

Some days, I’m extra proud to be a sci-fi geek

This weekend, I did something I haven’t done for what feels like at least a year.  And I did it two nights running.  Ladies and gentlemen, this Friday and Saturday, I went to the cinema.  In a world of video piracy and mass filesharing; actually deciding to go out and spend $20 on a film where you may get kicked in the back of your seat multiple times (and may end up hating anyway) hasn’t really been top of my list on a Friday night.  But this weekend, Sweet and I went for a couple of good old fashioned dates.  Friday, I got to pick.  I scanned the Free Press and landed on the one that I knew nothing about other than the fact it got numerous five star reviews from pretty reputable places, and it was written by Nick Hornby.

An Education held a lot of promise – a great cast (including Carey Mulligan of recent Doctor Who fame, the bad guy off of Flightplan, and Emma Thompson, who I’ve always loved dearly.  It was a nice enough story set in ‘60s England, about a girl with a strong academic background who meets a glamourous older chap, who takes her to Paris, proposes marriage and encourages her to give up school.  Relatively low-key, slightly underwhelming (the “bad guy” doesn’t even turn into a psycho stalker, and after dropping out of school she still ends up with a place at Oxford), but nice nonetheless.

But then we decided to do it all over again.  Saturday afternoon, like the old people at heart we truly are, we grabbed a couple of toonies and hit the cheap seats, where we opted for District 9.  I’d read a bit about it when it came out a few months ago; from what I knew, Peter Jackson had gone off to South Africa to film a Halo-based movie, but something had gone wrong with copyrights and that sort of thing, and he’d done a different movie instead.  What resulted was what I can only say was THE single best sci-fi movie I have ever seen in my LIFE, and for the next couple of weeks I request you ALL go and catch this before it leaves the big screens.

District 9

It was incredible.  With sci-fi movies (and television), my general experience is that big blockbusters with lots of special effects and generic good guys vs. bad aliens formulas have always won over mass audiences, while more “intellectual” storylines in Star Trek and X Files episodes are the nerd armies’ best kept secret.  Sci-fi that makes you think is generally thought of as “for the geeks” or turned into a cult classic, never reigning the box office or drawing in a nation on a Saturday night.   District 9 may just change everything.  It’s comparatively low budget ($30 million) to other recent sci-fi movie endeavours (Transformers 2 had $380 million to play with), and cast with a bunch of no-names whose lead actor has never before graced the screen.  There’s no outer-space warfare, or journeys to other planets, and the only things getting blown up leave you questioning your morality with a sense of enormous discomfort.

I’m not going to tell you what happens in the movie.  They cleverly omitted the major plotline from the trailer, which made for enormous surprise, and I think with good reason.  But I’ve never seen anything like this.  This is a heart-wrenching, thought-provoking political commentary, which, unusually, paints us as the bad guys.  It will tug and tear at your emotions as you feel for computer-generated characters who don’t actually exist, don’t render any sort of human facial expressions, and don’t speak.  You’ll fall in love with these characters based on nothing but subtitles, which in my mind, says a hell of a lot about the quality of the script.   This film is stunningly original and can easily put a good number of larger blockbusters to shame with its performance, intelligence, emotion and imagination.  It’s pretty gory, and I was definitely rather uncomfortable at several points, but anything that causes such a reaction based on raising questions of our capability to be so inhumane is fully justified. Plus, I’m a girl. I get squeamish pretty easily.  But I’ve never been so moved by what initially looked like such a boys’ movie.  I’ve never seen anything so action-packed and at the same time so reflective, so soulful, and so emotional.  I’ve never been prouder to be a sci-fi geek.  Bring on District 10.  I’ll be one of the thousands queuing up for advance tickets that’ll sell out faster than any Star Wars movie in box office history.

The bad news: time flies. The good news: you’re the pilot.

I just watched the perfect movie. Cashback was something I’d downloaded on a whim a few months back, and finally got around to watching tonight after a couple of failed episodes of The Mighty Boosh, and it left me wishing I’d written the entire thing down, just so I could take a piece of beautiful dialogue with me, or taken screen shots of the entire movie to hang on my walls, to remind myself that beauty can be found in the most modest and unassuming places.

It’s filmed mostly in the stark, fluorescent simplicity of a supermarket in the middle of winter in England; hardly the most picturesque of settings, yet the cinematography is so fluid, effortlessly seaming from one location to another. Watch solely for the astounding effect of Ben going from standing in a doorway to lying in his bed, without appearing to move at all. Oh, and Ben has the ability to stop time and examine the world around him – one standout scene, ironically the most graphic and likely to turn me off, was probably one of the most beautiful and strikingly memorable:

“I read once about a woman whose secret fantasy was to have an affair with an artist. She thought he would really see her. He would see every curve, every line, every indentation, and love them all because they were part of the beauty that made her unique.”

This definitely made me want to meet an artist of my own 🙂

I can’t get over the beauty of this film. Its starting point revolves around something we’ve all experienced: insomnia, break-ups, dead-end jobs entirely devoid of significance. I adore how these commonplace nothings are used to explore something personal; internal monologues, a mind’s inability to remain at rest, and living in frozen seconds to explore the beauty of everyday life. I could watch this time and time again and never tire of the magical blend of fantasy, art, amazing photography and heartfelt emotion tied into an everyday life we can all relate to.

“Once upon a time, I wanted to know what love was. Love is there if you want it to be. You just have to see that it’s wrapped in beauty and hidden away in between the seconds of your life. If you don’t stop for a minute, you might miss it.”

Huge recommendation.

Children of Men

Last night I finally went to see Children of Men; haven’t been to the cinema in a while, but this was one I’d wanted to see ever since I heard the premise, I didn’t even need to see a trailer. It was pretty intense, and it feels slightly wrong to say “I loved it” about a movie about the end of the world, but it was fantastic. One of the things about really good stories concerning alternate realities, futures, worlds or whatever, is the believability factor. That’s why I love shows like Torchwood so much – the writing and the stories just bring a disturbing sense of “this could actually happen”, on a level that doesn’t need monsters and aliens to be frightening; the mere idea of the very real possibility that it all could happen is scary enough on its own.

The most disturbing part, I found, was the fact that yes, it was the end of the world, but unlike say, War of the Worlds, it wasn’t an invasion or some global disaster that threatened to end humanity without too much delay. Everyday life was a long, slow walk towards the end of the world, consumed by the knowledge that existence no longer had any meaning. In fifty or sixty years, the human race would be extinct, and life was merely the resulting insanity that was complete and utter destruction and chaos in the streets.

It was very different. You just don’t see movies like this. Movies usually require a willing suspension of disbelief in order to be entertained; this needed no such thing. I don’t even think “entertained” would be the right word to describe it. It was just shocking to fathom a reality that could very well happen, who knows, obviously not in the near future but who’s to say in a couple of hundred years something like that is impossible? What happens to humanity when it’s told that life no longer has any purpose; for surely our ultimate goal is to carry on the species. An incredibly insightful and frighteningly real depiction of what happens when purpose is taken away. Go see it.