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Top 5 Movies I Watched in 2014

December 10, 2014

When it comes to watching movies, this year started out on a dry spell. I have been busy with work, studies and Levi was still one which required a lot of attention. Charmaine and I use to watch a lot of movies at night, but after the baby that has become almost non-existent.

Two changes took place at about the mid-point of the year that have opened up a time opportunity for me to indulge in my hobby. First I started being stricter with my own sleeping habits. This change in behaviour meant I was not semi-comatose from a lack of sleep on the morning commute and was able to keep my eyes open for a movie. You see my train trip is one hour each way with plenty of idle time in between, perfect to use.

The second big change was an upgrade of my mobile to one with more memory, more high definition screen and larger storage. Also with a recommendation from a friend to use the app Airdroid, putting movies on my phone wirelessly was never easier.

So with the year wrapping-up, I consumed around 50 movies with a range of genres, year of productions and the  ratings.

Here are my favourite five movies I have watched this year

But first 5 Movies I did NOT enjoy the most in 2014

1)Apocalypse Now (1979)

2) Princess Mononoke (1997)

3) Moonrise Kingdom (2012)

4) The Deer Hunter (1978)

5) Seven Psychopaths (2012)

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So now for the ,favourite 5 movies I watched in 2014:

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1) Silver Linings Playbook (2012)

Wow, what an unexpected gem of a movie. I resisted seeing the film for a while due to whole romance comedy classification and the cliché picture of the perfect girl and guy combo on the cover. The persistently nagging high rating on IMDB has finally persuaded me to take the plunge.

First let me state that this movie weighs heavily towards the drama category, before anything else. The romance and comedy are definitely there, but they are weaved into the plot to take a seat further from the centre stage. Both Bradley Cooper whose acting talent I now regard much more highly than when I saw in in the first Hang-over, and the ageing Robert De Niro, have done a superb job playing the roles of actors who suffer from various mental health issues.

This is precisely what  I really enjoyed about the film, the characters battling their personal demons and trying to improve on their situation. Highly recommend if you like a good drama with some comedy.

Silver Linings Playbook

2) 50/50(2011)

This is another film that was on my back burner for a long time waiting for me to be in the right mood. I somehow developed a prejudice in my mind against Seth Rogen, placing him in the crappy movie category, even though I have reviewed some of the films he has starred in and found that I enjoyed them for most part.

Anyway, the two characters Joseph Gordon-Levitt who contracts a rare cancer and his friend Seth Rogen who sticks by him through the ordeal were a great pick in my view. This movie is most definitely another drama but has a plethora of funny scenes to dilute the film to a semi-comedy.

What I enjoyed about this film is a view into a life of a healthy individual who is suddenly struck with something as shattering as cancer and the impact that has on their life, after all it could happen to any of us.  The movie didn’t feel pretentious or try to make this into some prolonged tear-jerker. As I said plenty of funny bits even as the main story climaxes for the main character. Very engrossing film.

50-50-Poster

3) Heat (1995)

Robert De Niro & Al Pacino in their prime, must I say more to convince you otherwise? Lots of action, drama, quotable lines and above all great story line.

This movie resurrects a time when the likes of De Niro & Pacino were considered the giants in their field and starring in action films at the zenith of their careers.

heat movie

4) The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014)

The most recent film on the list, and probably the most unique. The Grand Budapest Hotel is the latest film from the director Wes Anderson. I have watched a backlog of his films this year and this is probably one of my favourite due to the quirky style, props and camera angles used through the 90 minutes.

Ralph Fiennes’ character in the film M. Gustave did for me. Something about his eloquent and at time verbose speaking manner made the flick very memorable.

The-grand-budapest-hotel-poster

5) 21 Jump Street(2012)

The only pure comedy on the list, which the likes of I need to watch time to time after I have watched a number of more serious films back to back.

I put this film up high because it really made me look stupid cracking up constantly on the train. Lots of absurdly hilarious scenes and a great addition of Ice Cube as the police captain. This movie reminded me of other high school comedies, so I have to rate it high.

22 Jump street could note match it by the way. Personally the movie fell flat.

21 jump street

Levi Doing Puzzle – 22 Months

December 10, 2014

Shot this video of Levi last night putting together a puzzle board all by himself. Very impressed at how quickly he picked up, in my opinion a relatively challenging task for his age group. I have to remind myself that he is only 1 year and 10 months of age. Mind you this was not the first time he was doing it, first couple of times we helped him put the pieces in the correct places, rotated them to match the faded picture in the background.

What I love about this video is his commentary on the individual pieces, if its a piece of a truck, he will comment that its a “truck”. Applauding his own accomplishment was the funny cherry on top.

We picked-up a similar puzzle but with more pieces for him as part of his Christmas presents. Let’s see how he goes with that. If he conquers that, next time we give him one of those 5000 piece puzzles of the clear sky.

DSC_0521

Levi Update – 21 Months

October 12, 2014

So what’s the latest on this kid? He is around 10 days shy of being 21 months of age, which is still a few months short  of his second lap around the glowing celestial ball we all call the sun. I am sure all my numerically astute readers have already deduces that all this means is Levi’s second birthday is getting nearer, and with that I am reminded of the phrase “terrible twos”. Now I am sure that there will not be some magical Cinderella transformation in behaviour when the pair of birthday candles are blown-out, and Levi makes it look like a stick of dynamite has been planted in his cake. I do wonder however if there is a term that has not been coined yet, not as pithy and definitely with less consonance, something like ‘terrible one and three quarters’ that would convey similar level of tantrums and horror public outing stories.

I guess what I want to know is, is Levi an earlier bloomer when it comes to the toddler tantrum ability, or is this still the teaser, the sample spoon? The real pot of horrors is still simmering on the proverbial kettle after two?

But it’s not all bad; there are lots of fun, new and exciting things that have happened with this kid. So now in no particular order of importance or relevance. List of Levi’s life accomplishments:

5)  All the teeth are nearly there. Makes for a great little smile, but also very handy in chopping up all those carrots that are so favoured by the little guy. It will be sometime before these get replaces with the massive tombstones that older kids get.

4) Can pretty much identify all the items when asked in his picture books. Hey may not be able to still say them all, but his comprehension levels are superb. These even include items I have never heard of probably because they are from some British or other archaic book. Things like ‘articulated lorry’, which is describing some large construction machine.

3) Loves to help around the house (waiting for the day that will change). For now at least Levi loves to help in putting and taking out the clothes from the washing machine, putting dirty (plastic) plates into the sink and opening the bin that is hidden away to place any pieces of rubbish on the ground. Next on the agenda, to iron my work shirts.

2) Can say more words that include, point to correct number of objects and say two or three (one is still out..). Remembers and can pronounce names of his cousin, uncle, aunty, and a few other people in his life

1)After Levi accidently hurts one of us, or gets a bit too excited and wacks us with his hands, we ask him to say sorry. The best things to receive from him are those genuine apologies. He places a hand on your cheek and gives you a small hug, it makes me forget everything else after one of those.

0) Levi is the personification of the Energiser Bunny that fires up when your energy light is blinking on empty. What’s that you want to rest your feet for a few minutes, sorry you are now my horsey and must trot around the house with Levi holding on the back. Great fun… sometimes.

Levi Alexzander water bottle smiling

Levi Alexzander - Big eyed

Sydney – Botanical Gardens

September 30, 2014

Working in the heart of Sydney has its many benefits, this week has uncovered a trove more. I am already rewarded with a huge shopping venue situated below my feet, a bustling plaza that attracts an eclectic group of performance artists and the convenience of a public transport system walking distance away. But I am also now privileged to be working so close to the vast areas of preserved greenery situated so peacefully within the bustling city. Across from my place of work is Hyde park that has captivated me for a while now with its Greek Myth inspired fountain and giant trees enveloping the central walk that intersects the park. That much has been known to me for some time now, I even wanted to have my wedding shoot there, until the photographer complained about a lack of parking options.

If you look on Google maps there is a continuous stretch of preserved vegetation that spans from Hyde park, through to the Domain, and transitions to the Botanical Gardens. These Gardens is what I have been frequenting this past week on my hourly breaks.

Much like Hyde park, the Gardens contains many enormous trees that would have seen numerous seasons, fashion trends and technological developments pass over the years.

I took a picture of this tree that shaded everything in its wide-reaching circumference, others of similar stature had people litters underneath them enjoying the warm weather from the safety of the direct sun. Filter using Google photos.

Botanical Gardens - Sydney

One great thing about the Botanical Gardens is that a lot of the plants are labelled so if something catches your eye and perhaps you are considering incorporating it into your own garden a convenient labelling system will be of great help. The place has a good selection of unique trees, flowers, shrubs, palms, ferns etc.

I took a picture of these flowers that had bulb like heads on top on them.Sydney - Botanical Gardens - Flowers

This cool looking greenhouse pyramid sits inside the park. Looks like its not open to the public until 2016…DSC_0246-EFFECTS

Here is me looking back at Centre Point, seeing how far I have travelled.Sydney Botanical Gardens - City View

Hope this has inspired others to go check out more of the city you work and live in, and see those places that you may never have considered checking out before. The warm weather this past week has made the experience so much more enjoyable and it will only keep getting warmer, so go on.

EDIT

Here is other shot I took on separate day of this week

Blossoms Sydney Botanical Gardens

My Movie Watching Habits

August 23, 2014

For a while now I have been tagging all the movies that I recall watching on the IMDB website. The list of movies goes back all the way to when I was a child. For each Movie I provide a rating from 1 to 10, with 10 being the sought after rating by movie producers. IMDB provides a bit of data analysis on my movie habits, which I grabbed and chucked into excel,  so Enjoy.

Total number of movies I have seen (recall seeing) is close to 570. I entered a few more before these graphs which I don’t think IMDB captured. Assuming the average length of a film is 2 hours, that comes to a total viewing time of 1140 hours or 47.5 days or just over 1.5 months, talk about a movie marathon

Most movies fall into several genres. What IMDB does is include each movie into all the respective categories it falls under e.g Shaun of the Dead (2004) being both a comedy and horror. glancing at the data, it looks like a big chunk of my movie watching habits fall under Drama & Comedy. I wonder if that is saying that after watching a depressing drama, with tears in my eyes I hurry to put on a comedy to restore my mood to a happy equilibrium? Maybe, or maybe I just like those two genres more that other films.

Sasha's Movies by Genre 2014

As previously mentioned I rank movies from 1 to 10, here are the aggregate rankings I have given to all my films. It looks like I am quiet generous with a median of 7.2 and a mode of 7.Believe it or not I have not seen a film that I thought was so bad that it was a plague on society and deserved a rating of 1. I think there is some bias in my data, as I try to research what I want to watch and look at IMDB ratings before hand to get a sense of what to expect. I tend to dismiss films with a ranking below 7, unless they fall under a director I like or have been recommended by someone whose opinion I value.

Sasha's Movies by Ratings 2014

Here is an interesting graph. My movies by the year they were made. As expected the older the film is, the less likely that I have watched it. That is mainly for two reasons: 1) there are just less films in those years and 2) the cinematography appeals less to me with older flicks. I can also see that there is a time lag when it comes to most recent films as I don’t see the value of attending cinemas. I have only seen one film dating to 2014, latest thing to come from the director Wes Anderson – The Grand Budapest Hotel. Something a bit different from the other Hollywood stuff, yet enjoyable. 1999 was big for some reason. Looking at movies I have seen that fall under that year they include: American BeautyThe MatrixBeing John MalkovichElectionStar Wars: Episode I – The Phantom MenaceToy Story 2 etc.

Sasha's Movies by Year 2014

Finally I have already done a post for the IMDB’s top 250 movies, but i am going to revisit it. I tallied up all the films I have seen from the list and those I have not. The count is close to half in favour of those I have not had a chance to experience, but still quiet a valiant effort on my part I must say. How does that compare to last time I looked at this?  It was 96 v 154, somewhat better. Mind you this is a living list, with new movies coming and bumping out other movies that are close to the bottom of the list, so not a true comparison.

Sasha's Movies by Top 250 2014

The Train Shed – Part 2 Video

August 16, 2014

A little video from the Train Shed we went to last week.

https://vimeo.com/103584013

Robin Williams Tribute Post

August 12, 2014

Today we were told of the unfortunate and unexpected passing of Robin Williams. The popularity of the man was evident with the scores of tribute photos and posts that covered my Facebook feed. Most people at least in my generation would have grown-up with films that had Williams as one of the actors. I think nostalgia of youth and the things that brought laughs and entertainment are important aspects to many people’s identities. When someone was instrumental in forming these memories passes, it can be natural to feel a personal loss even though you didn’t have a real life connection to the man.

After the sad news broke today I went onto the man’s profile page on IMDB to see the legacy that he left behind. There is just over 100 titles of movies and TV shows that had one of the actors listed as Robin Williams. There were even a few films that have not even been released yet. The prolific acting career of the man was evident just by the list. But astonishingly Robin Williams was not just an actor but a comedian. I recall watching one of his stand-up shows and amazed how he could deliver 90 minute repertoire with a machine-gun like speed.

Here are my favourite Robin William films that I have seen:

Jumanji (1995) – Loved this movie growing up. The computer effects were top notch for the time. Watching grown-up Williams, his female childhood friend and two kids playing a game that absolutely pummels them with every roll was somehow very appealing to the young me. Oh what’s that you rolled a 7 here take a plague of monkeys!

movie jumanji Robin Williams

Aladdin (1992) Robin Williams playing the voice of Genie without a doubt makes this Disney animations a classic in most peoples eye. Genies over-the-top magic, hilarious eclectic dialogue and constant anachronistic references made the already great cartoon even better.

Aladdin genie

The Birdcage (1996) the premise is this; a gay cabaret owner and his drag queen companion have a son who is engaged to a girl. It is time for both parents to meet for the first time; problem is that her parents are overly conservative and moralistic. This complete mis-match is a recipe for a disaster in anyone’s books, but with Williams on board the situation becomes a laugh out loud comedy.

Bird Cage Williams

Mrs. Doubtfire (1993) Looking at the year of all these movies it looks like the golden age of Robin Williams films were the 90’s. Mrs Doubtfire delivers another dose of Robin this time in a costume of an old female baby-sitter. The movie does have some adult themes of family separation that made this movie a part drama, but there was enough humour to make this another one of my Williams favourites.

Mrs Doubtfire

Hook (1991) Man I was hooked on this film (see what I did there). Just a fantastic kids movie doing a retake of the old Peter Pan story. In it Williams plays a grown-up Pan trying to retake his youth. I remember at the time thinking why would the character want to stay a kid forever, but now all grown up I can see the appeal. Apparently the early reception of the film wasn’t that great, but eventually it develops into a cult-classic.

Hook movie robin williams

 

 

- Other notable movies are

- Good Will hunting (1997)

- Patch Adams (1998)

and

- One Hour Photo (2002)

 

I made it my mission to watch some of the other movies that Williams is famous for. On top of my list are:

- Good morning, Vietnam (1987)

- The Adventures of Baron Munchausen (1988)

- A.I. Artificial Intelligence (2001)

and

- Dead Poets Society (1989)

 

If you can recommend anything else i would love to hear it.

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