bird by bird

“bird by bird – Some Instructions on Writing and Life” is a short book by Anne Lamott that essentially recaps her life as a writer, her challenges, failures, successes, and lessons learned. She is funny at times, and most of what she says will sound familiar to anyone inclined to put words on paper. Is it a way to a bestseller? Certainly not, you may even decide not to write anything because you are tuned in 24/7 to “KFKD radio” and you can’t turn it off. Well, Anne has been there, she can turn it off and so can you. You can find your “broccoli” (Mel Brooks in “The 2000 Year Old Man”), and you can quiet your distractions, be it through rituals or whatever works for you, like focused breathing as my Apple Watch reminds me just after getting up.

I like to do “morning pages,” getting a cup of coffee, sitting down with my A4 notebook and Sailor fountain pen and letting the ink flow onto the page, watching it form words as if by magic. I usually don’t revisit these pages for months, if ever. It’s not a diary. It’s a warming-up exercise. You may or may not need it. Whatever works for you to get going.

Anne Lamott gives some advice in her book. None are new, and you probably have heard them all before, and if not, it doesn’t hurt to hear them again: Short assignments, formulas like ABDCE (Action, Background, Development, Climax, Ending), index cards or an app (e.g., “Day One”) to jot down ideas. Also, consider giving yourself a daily minimum quota (300 words), have someone read your draft, know your audience and so forth but most importantly, get out of the way and let the writing happen.

I would say it’s not about the advice as much as it is about her truth and the way she tells it. You can enjoy that and in the end, it may not help you with your writing, but maybe it will help you to regain your buoyancy and that is a good start.

The Adventures of Priscilla – Queen of the Desert (2007)

The Adventures of Priscilla - Queen of the DesertThe Adventures of Priscilla – Queen of the Desert” ain’t no “Brokeback Mountain”, so relax. OK you don’t care anyway? Good. Then you may also be able to enjoy the “Abba turd” joke, after all this is a movie about tolerance. If so, you are in for a wild surreal ride of laughter or if you are more for the emotional drama you can laugh less and smile more. One thing is for sure, this movie oozes positive energy and makes you feel good, contagiously so. If you say this ain’t so then I am afraid we have to agree to disagree and let bygones be bygones.

This “Extra Frills Edition” is a new release of the originally 1994 released Australian indie movie about three drag queens on a road trip through the Outback. It is a “gay” movie indeed, in the original meaning of the word. Personal interests aside, this is not a kids movie and some may not have any interest in musicals and even less so in musicals where male actors dress up in women’s clothing, wear tons of makeup and all sorts of silly stuff is happening on screen. Having said that, “Priscilla” isn’t quite a musical, it has quite a lot of music in it but it is not a musical per se, yet the actors move their lips to the sound of music, they don’t actually sing, just like in a musical, huh? OK, it is a musical, sort of… and yet it is a road movie, too.
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Pixar Short Films Collection, Vol. 1 (2007)

Pixar Short Films Collection Vol. 1Pixar has been on the forefront of animated movie for over two decades and has brought us hits such as A Bug’s Life, Toy Story, Monsters Inc., Finding Nemo, The Incredibles and Ratatoullie.

Anyone who has seen a Pixar movie has also seen some or most of the shorts in this collection at some point. Finally having them all on one disc, chronologically with commentaries is a real treat for me and for all fans of animation and of Pixar in particular.

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Twin Peaks – Definitive Gold Box Edition (2007)

Twin Peaks Definitive Gold BoxWhen “Twin Peaks” aired in 1990 no one thought it would have much of a chance as a TV show and even today one must wonder why or how it did become such a phenomenon. Was it because of the cherry pie and the fine cuppa Jo? Was it because the mystery of Laura Palmer’s murder kept people coming back to “Twin Peaks” each week? Was it Dale Cooper’s (Kyle MacLachlan) messages to Diane on his Dictaphone? And who the hell is Bob?

“Twin Peaks” was and still is full of mysteries, mysteries that will never be answered. Some of them should have better remained unanswered but such is life, you seek the answer until you finally get it and then you move on. And what about Laura Palmer’s murderer? You really needed to know, didn’t you? I won’t spoil it for you here, so read on!

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Casshern (2004)

CasshernFor those not familiar with the anime series “Cashan, The Robot Hunter” which “Casshern” is based on, this movie may be a tiny bit confusing. Additionally, there is a lot of text to read with subtitles racing by (as there is only a Japanese audio track) and on top of that, the subtitles are not beneath but across the film which can be distracting and since they are burnt in, you can’t switch them off either. Also, cutting the movie by 24 minutes for Region 1 DVD release may have been a marketing decision, somehow I am not so sure it was the right one. Enough of these technicalities and on to the story then!

In director Kazuaki Kiriya’s debut effort we meet “Casshern”, a young man killed in war and risen from the dead by supernatural powers, reincarnated to fight against evil – but let’s rewind a bit.

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Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978)

Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978)“They get you while you sleep!”

Yes they do, no matter what version you are watching, however if you choose to watch the 2007 one, you may fall asleep anyhow and it would be for the better if you did. Watching Philip Kaufman’s version of “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” you won’t fall asleep, you cannot. I promise you that much.

For those unfamiliar with the “Body Snatcher” theme, the gist of the matter is that somewhere in outer space there are spores on a devastated planet orbiting a dying sun. The spores are driven by their impulse to survive to leave their doomed planet, drifting through space trying to conquer new planets.

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The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)

The Bourne UltimatumMatt Damon once again shows us how good Jason Bourne is in The Bourne Ultimatum (2007). In fact, he is so good, it is unbelievable how good he really is but this is beside the point since we do not care if Bourne is a believable character or what his real name is. It does not matter at all. What matters is the action, the stunts, the chases, and more of the same, perfectly orchestrated to one big race with one winner, Bourne, of course.

Now, if you dig all that then you will enjoy this third installment, even though I must say the often praised shaky camera cinematography has been annoying at times in this one, pay attention to the camera shakiness and judge for yourself.

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War (2007)

War (2007)War” (2007) starring Jet Li and Jason Statham is about an FBI agent Jack Crawford (Statham) seeking vengeance for the murder of his partner Tom Lone (Terry Chen). The mysterious hit man called “Rogue” (Jet Li) who killed his partner, wife and daughter comes back to San Francisco after 3 years and Jack is determined to get even by killing “Rogue” this time.

“Rogue” has an agenda on his own, inciting a war between the two rivaling Triads and Yakuzas, double crossing the bosses Chang (John Lone) and Shiro (Ryo Ishibashi) for reasons that become apparent in the end but are rather obvious early on.

If you want to see a “Jet Li” movie then this is not one of them. This is not necessarily bad and Statham and Li going up against each other is a good duo, however there is nothing more to it. It’s just that, lots of gun fights with a bit of martial arts thrown in.

The plot twist at the end is predictable and the suspense never really builds up. The character of “Jack Crawford” remains flat and two dimensional, a brute only driven by vengeance without any other purpose in life and the one phone call where the ex-wife reminds him of his son’s first basketball play doesn’t change that either. Bad script writing galore. I cannot shake the feeling that this could have been a much better movie if it were an Eastern one.

There is not much else to write about this movie except that it’s 103 minutes of mostly gun fights with strong bloody violence, sexuality and language, hence rated R. Don’t expect too much from this “War”.

Shoot ‘Em Up (2007)

Shoot ‘em Up (2007)

I went to see “Shoot ‘Em Up” (2007) directed by Michael Davis without reading anything about it and so I was in for quite a surprise.

The film starts out with the hero “Smith” (Clive Owen) sitting on a bench at night waiting for a bus, munching on a carrot when a pregnant woman in a yellow raincoat stumbles by moaning. She disappears in a nearby alley and is being followed by a very angry man with a gun. This prompts our hero to get involved and angry, too. From that moment on it is all about shooting people.

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1408 (2007)

1408Someone once said that horror movies are always a bit cheesy. True or not, “1408” (2007), directed by Mikael Håfström, is about a book author and skeptic, Mike Enslin (John Cusack), who writes about paranormal occurrences. Sounds cheesy enough so far. The film is based on Stephen King’s short story of the same name and this is where things start getting interesting.

For his latest book, Mike Enslin wants to check out room 1408 at the Dolphin Hotel in New York. The manager of the hotel, Mr. Olin (Jackson), tries to convince Enslin not to stay in that room and warns him in fact not to enter. No one ever lasted more than one hour in that room. This only prompts Enslin to check into 1408 no matter what.

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