Category Archives: Entertainment

no trolls were harmed

image courtesy Magnet Releasing

As I’ve mentioned at least twice now, we saw Trollhunter last Thursday at the Tribeca Film Festival. We had been talking about seeing something, although we hadn’t decided what or when, and, since we had the time (and inclination) on Thursday, we scanned that evening’s options. The above image immediately caught our eye. That was clearly our movie.

Because we hadn’t purchased tickets in advance, we had to queue up forty-five minutes prior to the start of the movie for a chance to purchase rush tickets. I am not at my best when in lines (although I’m constantly striving to be more zen about them), and standing for forty-five minutes in the drizzling rain in what seemed like a hopeless line was not a very enjoyable experience – particularly when a group of shrieking, self-amused college students queued up next to us for another movie. We stuck with it, though, and the line started moving … and then the line attendant stopped me. “One more,” she said. “Are you alone?” I told her there were two of us, and she motioned for a single behind us to come forward.

I was so sad. We had been so close! But, as it turned out, that wasn’t the end. The attendant came back and collected us and someone else, and we were shown into the theater to purchase tickets.

The film itself was incredibly fun. It was in Norwegian (with English subtitles), and presented in documentary-style. The story centered around a group of (either journalism or film) students who were filming a story on a suspected bear poacher. They follow him into the woods at night, only to have him run towards them, screaming, “Troll!” They follow him out and find their vehicle destroyed, with the wheels gnawed off, and things only get weirder from there.

He reveals to them that he works for the government helping to contain the trolls that populate Norway. He agrees to let them film him as he tries to identify why the trolls are suddenly escaping from their regions, and he shares with them all sorts of information about the trolls. (For instance, trolls cannot convert Vitamin D, and, when exposed to bright sunlight, they were either explode or turn to stone.)

The film is at times humorous in a completely absurd manner and at times frightening. (I watched the cave scene through my fingers.) You know from the framing device (this being “found footage”) that everything will most likely not be sunshine and puppies in the end, but you still can’t help being more fascinated than scared of the trolls. The trolls, after all, aren’t evil; they’re just wild animals.

The director, André Øvredal, held a question and answer session after the film ended. One of the most interesting things he mentioned was that they drove across Norway without any set locations in mind; when they came across somewhere that they thought would make a good backdrop, they just stopped and used it. Indeed, the Norwegian landscapes were stunning. Once home, I found myself googling more images of Norway and dreaming about exploring there.

After the credits have run, the screen claims, “No trolls were harmed during the making of this movie.” It’s the perfect ending, as the film asks you to suspend your disbelief in trolls to fully appreciate the documentary-style experience, while at the same time realizing the absurdity of the escapade.

Watch the trailer:

Read More:
☆ Visit the official Trollhunter film site
☆ See the film’s details on IMDB
☆ Like Trollhunter on Facebook
☆ Read a review


I always wanted to join the circus

As a kid, I loved those boxes of Barnum’s Animal Crackers. (Okay, who am I kidding? I still love them. I have to talk myself out of purchasing them each and every time I see them.) I always wanted to retain the boxes after the crackers were gone to play traveling circus. This probably would have been more successful if I hadn’t had a dog who would rip them apart, searching for the animal crackers he could still smell.

In any event, I was always interested in the circus, and I liked to imagine what I would do if I were part of the circus. I’m not much of a gymnast (I can’t even do a cartwheel) and my balance has never been the best (I fall down more than any adult I know), and so I ruled out being a trapeze artist or a tightrope walker. I also ruled out being a fire-eater; I had set the dining room table cloth aflame once and therefore didn’t think my mother would allow me to practice any skills involving fires. I certainly didn’t want to be a clown.

image credit: D'arcy Norman on Flickr

I decided that I would be a lion tamer. I tried to practice with my dog, but Homer was older than I was and thoroughly uninterested. It’s possible, of course, that he was offended at being asked to portray a lion. Maybe he would have been more amenable if I had asked him to be a wolf.

Accordingly, when Water for Elephants came out, I pounced on it. I read the whole thing in just over one day. I was spending a weekend up on Lake Michigan with some girlfriends, and I spent my time on the beach with my nose buried in the book, only looking up when someone offered me a cocktail. I re-read the book this past Sunday, and I read the whole book in one sitting.1 It is, obviously, a quick read. It’s not the type of literary fiction that I usually love, the kind that inspires me to write, but it is the fun, entertaining kind of fiction that makes me want to own an elephant.

I had re-read the book because my sorority sisters had a planned outing to see the movie last night, as well as the idea of it being the first book in the book club we’re starting. I hadn’t held out many hopes for the movie – books are always better than movies.2 I was pleasantly surprised to find that I really enjoyed the movie. The movie takes some liberties, of course, that I found disappointing, but, that’s to be expected. Movies can’t follow books to the letter; there simply isn’t enough time. The film was at least faithful to the spirit of the book, and it was entertaining. If I hadn’t known anything about the book, I would have really enjoyed it. It’s about running away to join the circus; how could I not enjoy it?

My recommendation: Read the book and see the movie, but not necessarily in that order.

1 Actually, that’s not entirely accurate: I walked to the park, read for a few hours, realized I was starving, briefly left the park to purchase a bagel, and returned to the park where I ate my bagel and read the book at the same time.
2 Except for when they’re not.

… and in New York

I’ve been so busy recapping my trip to Italy that I’ve forgotten to blog about the awesome things Marc and I have been doing in New York!

Last week, we went to the opening of German Expressionism: The Graphic Impulse at MoMA. I knew nothing about German Expressionism before we went, and it was interesting to see the progression of subjects from nudes to prostitutes to war-ravaged skulls. The exhibit runs through July 11, so there’s plenty of time to check it out. The exhibit website provides a great first look, grouping pieces by styles, themes, and techniques.

On Monday night, we went to see a film at BAM. Shortly after we moved into our apartment, we received $20 coupons for BAM as a reward for taking a building-related survey. Our coupons were expiring on March 31, so we decided it was time to finally cash them in. We decided to use them to see Certified Copy, a trip of a film about a French woman and an English man spending an afternoon in the Tuscan countryside. It was certainly a well-done film – the distractingly beautiful lead actress (Juliette Binoche) won Best Actress at Cannes for the role, and much of the camera work was interesting – but I spent so much of the film trying to figure out precisely what was going on that I think I’ll need to see it again. Every time I thought I had a handle on what was happening, something would happen to make me question my interpretation. It was particularly interesting for me, having just returned from a trip to Italy myself.

Last night, we were able to visit Pompeii: Life and Death in the Shadow of Vesuvius at Discovery Times Square. We really weren’t sure what to expect, but it was really neat. I imagined it would be a gallery-style presentation, with artifacts displayed, but it was much more like a museum. The exhibit was laid out in five basic parts: (1) a short introductory film, (2) artwork, (3) a film about the eruption of Vesuvius complete with a vibrating floor and flashing lights, (4) casts of the bodies from Pompeii, and (5) miscellaneous objects from daily life. The artwork was my favorite part: the frescoes were so colorful and spirited, and I loved the small bronze household gods. The price tag for the exhibit is pretty steep, but there’s a lot of really interesting stuff in there, and it’s all presented with enough context to make it really captivating.

Taylor Momsen, I’m sorry

I have, at times, been a little hard on Taylor Momsen. I’ve called her “abrasive, self-involved, and pantsless,” I’ve mocked her hair extensions, and I’ve linked to The Scary, Sorry Sartorial Devolution of Taylor Momsen … and that’s just what I’ve done here on the blog. (You have to admit, though, that Fug Girls piece is pretty spot-on.)

In any event, the time has come to tell her I’m sorry. I downloaded Light Me Up, the album by her band, The Pretty Reckless, last night, and, man, I’m hooked. I knew that she could sing – I used to work out to Make Me Wanna Die, her band’s song from the Kick-Ass soundtrack,1 and, just after calling her “pantsless,” I linked to her covering Forget You – but the entire album is awesome.


In fact, the only problem that I have with it is the lyrics to Nothing Left to Lose, which start with the line “I was only nineteen.” Taylor Momsen, as we know, is actually only seventeen.

1 FYI, Make Me Wanna Die is also on Light Me Up.

iTunes organization impossibility

I need your help.

As you can see, I have 1,388 items in my iTunes library. I tried to organize them last night and realized that it was an impossible task.

My first problem is that I don’t even know what some of those songs are or where they came from. I had something from an “unknown album” titled “1iwantitall1.” It turned out to be I Want it All by Birdman, but I only learned that by listening and then googling the lyrics. I’m still not sure how it ended up amongst my music.

Assuming I’m able to properly identify everything, where do I even begin to organize? I’ve tried using the ratings to help me sort through things (and I like to assign stars), but I’ve discovered that I end up giving songs that I’m currently listening to five stars, even if they don’t deserve it. (Case in point: You can see that I’ve given five stars to Na Na Na and Bulletproof Heart, but that’s because I’m really enjoying them right now. I’m sure in a few months I’ll be over them, and their five-star designation will be useless.)

My iTunes library is completely out of control. Does anyone have any tips? I’d be interested in hearing anything. Help!

the end of January

January is probably my least favorite month. I find it really hard to motivate myself to do anything (even blog!), when it’s so cold and bleak outside.

Winter Feed I don’t think I’d mind winter so much if there were sheep.
image credit: jamarmstrong on Flickr

Thankfully, we have waved goodbye to January for now! (Only forty-eight more days until spring …) Despite the unending gloom, I managed to do some fun things that last weekend of January:

☆ On Thursday, we went to the Cobble Hill Cinema to take advantage of their $7-movie night. We saw True Grit, about which, I have to admit, I was completely uninformed: I wasn’t sure what the movie was about, and I didn’t know that it was a remake of a John Wayne classic. Neither of those things affected my enjoyment, however, and I really liked the movie!

☆ On Friday, I was on my own, so I decided to take advantage of it. I ordered in Thai food, drank wine, and watched The Vampire Diaries. If you don’t think that sounds like fun, you obviously haven’t been watching the show! Here’s some reading for you: Ten Reasons You Should Be Watching The Vampire Diaries [The AV Club].

☆ On Saturday, I met some other Alpha Gams for a wine and cheese night. It’s always fun to meet new people – and especially fun to discover that you have the same couch, same random box of matches from a bar in Chicago, and same appreciation for Ethan Embry in Empire Records.

☆ On Sunday, we had dim sum at 9 Chatham Square. We arrived at 1:30 and found the place almost completely empty. We figured that we had missed the dim sum rush. Fifteen minutes later, the place was packed. It’s much more fun when it’s bustling!

☆ On Monday, we finally cashed in our Groupon for Madiba. I bought the Groupon way back in July, and I gave the place a five-star review on Yelp last April. The food was just as good as I remembered (he had the ribs, I had the prawns, and we split the malva pudding dessert), but I think the atmosphere is what makes Madiba really fun. They had a live DJ last night, and the place was lively without being too much of a scene. It was a nice place to have a late dinner on a snowy Monday night.

Anyway, Happy February!

Do This: American Idiot

I work out at Crunch, which, in celebration of its 21st “birthday,” was giving away prizes this summer. The prizes ran from small things like t-shirts to gym-related goodies like a year of free membership to some things that were truly awesome. The most desirable prize, as I saw it, was tickets to see American Idiot on Broadway … and I won! Can you believe it? I was so excited!

I won a pair of tickets to a schoolnight show in September, so I grabbed one of my friends and went to see the show last night! I was incredibly pleased with our seats – since they were free, I assumed we would be in a less than desirable location, but we were towards the front of the balcony, right in the middle. The seats were amazing. Our only problem was that the woman in front of us kept filming parts of the show on her phone and the woman next to us had taken it upon herself to be The Enforcer, but that’s neither here nor there.

The show itself is awesome! The show is, of course, based on the rock opera of the same name released by Green Day in 2004. The show includes a couple of extra songs for good measure, like Know Your Enemy and 21 Guns, but otherwise follows the progression of songs on the album and only adds a bit of dialogue. I loved the album and listened to it pretty much constantly when it came out, so I really enjoyed seeing the characters in the flesh.

The show has a lot of energy and is a lot of fun, and I would definitely recommend it!

Read More:
☆ Visit the official American Idiot on Broadway site
☆ Read the NY Times review
☆ If you’re so inclined, next week is a good time to see the show, as Billie Joe Armstrong is briefly playing St. Jimmy
☆ Watch Green Day and the cast of the show sing 21 Guns