Films of the Week Vol. 11

Yay, I have had this blog for something like 2,5 years and this is Vol. 11?! I’m lazy. Anyway, here we go, couple of films to review. I will probably see something else too this week but let’s just go with these now.Pitch Perfect 2

PITCH PERFECT 2 (2015)

Directed by Elizabeth Banks

Written by Kay Cannon & Mickey Rapkin

Starring Anna Kendrick, Rebel Wilson, Hailee Steinfeld & Brittany Snow

Synopsis (IMDb): “After a humiliating command performance at Lincoln Center, the Barden Bellas enter an international competition that no American group has ever won in order to regain their status and right to perform.”

Pitch Perfect 2 is ok. Which is kind of sad as I loved the first part. It was such a great surprise how much I liked it and I wished I’d like the second one as well but it’s kinda meh. It’s not bad but there aren’t any really good songs that you want to go back to like in the original one had. A lot of them. I listened to the soundtrack for a long time and I can still go back to it. And as both parts are about music it should stand out.

I don’t know. I didn’t care about any of the characters. Well, maybe about the guys in Treblemakers but not the girls. I like Anna Kendrick a lot as well as I like Elizabeth Banks a ton, I hope she will continue directing films but I hope they will be better than this. Rebel Wilson and her over-the-top characters are becoming kind of old, don’t you think? In here you have basically none “normal” scenes of her. But there still is something endearing in the film because during the last scene I did find myself crying, so they did get something right, it moved me (not a hard thing to do but at some point I really though I don’t care enough to shed a few tears, in the end, I did).

Pitch Perfect 2

Even though Pitch Perfect continues in the familiar way of the original, it feels more like separate scenes than the first one that indeed was growing up story like this one is pretending to be. Moving on is a hard thing but for some reason PP2 left me feeling like there should have been one part in between. Now it was a bit hard to identify within the situation because time jumps that much ahead from the first part. Anyway, Pitch Perfect is ok.

Rating *** (out of 5)

P.S. I know it’s so fun to make fun of Germans and their accent but really! That again made me feel like I’m watching something set in WWII.

 

the-man-from-u-n-c-l-e

THE MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E. (2015)

Directed by Guy Ritchie

Written by Guy Ritchie, Lionel Wigram, Jeff Kleeman & David C. Wilson (Original series by Sam Rolfe)

Starring Henry Cavill, Armie Hammer, Alicia Vikander & Hugh Grant

Synopsis: “In the early 1960s, CIA agent Napoleon Solo and KGB operative Illya Kuryakin participate in a joint mission against a mysterious criminal organization, which is working to proliferate nuclear weapons.” 

I saw this film about four hours ago. I already almost forgot I saw it. I think that is saying a lot. The Man from U.N.C.L.E. is all about style and less about content. I’ve never been a big fan of Guy Ritchie and this sure didn’t change that.henry cavill hot and shirtless

Henry Cavill looks too good. I annoys me for some reason. I have hard time to concentrate his acting or character because I’m only paying attention to his physics. Yeah, I know, that sounds weird but it’s true. In a scene I just stare at his pecs instead of even thinking what is happening around them. And in this film he wears really nice suits too. Bothering. Armie Hammer’s character here (despite his stupid accent, again!, what is wrong with you people! Especially in this one, he plays a spy, wouldn’t he have perfected his accent? Huh?! Gosh, that makes me angry…) is much more approachable in the way that he feels and looks real. If anyone in this flick. And I can’t get over the fact that Alicia Vikander is a) a very talented actress b) an amazingly beautiful woman c) soon to be an Oscar nominated d) dating Michael Fassbender. I kinda hate her…

Yeah… It looks like my complaints are bit off here. 😀 But really, the film is empty with its content. It’s a bit like the first episode of series, it introduces everyone with a twist and then when you really start being interested in characters the film ends. I do want to know what happens to them next but unfortunately Uncle has made only about 100 000 $ according to Box Office Mojo which means with its 75M production budget that there will not be a sequel. Let’s hope it rallies within streaming services.

The film sure looks good. Just look at these costumes and make-ups and hairstyles and settings etc. Looks great, huh?

Elizabeth Debicki and Henry Cavill in the man from uncle with costumes Costumes in the man from uncle Production setting of the man from uncle in Rome Beautiful Alicia Vikander in The Man from Uncle

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And I appreciated it that Russians spoke Russian together like Germans spoke German and Italians Italian. I do appreciate this. But when you watch a film like this in Dutch cinema with Dutch subtitles and don’t speak said language it’s a bit challenging. 😀 Thankfully I speak some German, so I wasn’t totally lost.

Rating: **½ (out of 5)

P.S. Based on the reviews it looks like I should have given more stars to Uncle but the thing is that Pitch Perfect 2 is not that bad, it’s just that the first part was so much better.

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Midnight Sun Film Festival

Seems like my  promises are worth of nothing. The last week I promised to write two more posts during that week and I didn’t… But here we go with the first one.

msffposterSo. The last month I volunteered at this Finnish Film Festival called Midnight Sun Film Festival. Volunteering at a film festival has been a dream of mine for a while already. Though I’ve always imagine taking part to Sundance Film Festival or Toronto International Film Festival. And I’m sure I will at some point. I also realized that I’ve already volunteered at Helsinki International Film Festival but because it’s one kept in the city and I was working at the same time, it didn’t have the same feel to it.

Midnight Sun Film Festival is held in Sodankylä, Finland. And that’s in Lapland! About same the latitude as the northern parts of Alaska… It took me nine hours to get there by public transportation. And people just live there like we do here in “south”. “South” meaning that even my hometown is more above than Anchorage in Alaska. I don’t even know why we live here. But back to Sodankylä! So, it’s up there. Small, out of nowhere place, where people were the nicest I’ve met and the atmosphere so not like in Finland. And that’s a good thing. I always say that “only in Finland” in the meanest possible way because our government tends to forbid everything they can. But seems like only in Southern Finland we follow the law that much. When there’s 130 km between the towns, guess the law can’t be everywhere and people are able to relax a bit. The best.

The main road in Sodankylä in the middle of the night.

The main road in Sodankylä in the middle of the night.

The Finnish way of enjoying the terrace.

The Finnish way of enjoying the terrace.

Apart from Sodankylä, the festival itself is like gathering of a bunch of hippies or wannabe-ones. This year 27 000 ones. I really don’t consider myself the one but during the week I spend there it felt like I was becoming one. The atmosphere was the most relaxing one even the weather was the opposite. The temperature went from minus three to +23 celsius in one day! And I worked at this pub tent outside. But well, I guess, I am a Finn in the end because it wasn’t that bad. I had four shirts layered on me and I just took three of them off when hot (well, warm) and put the three back on when cold. Though I got to admit, the rain got me a bit. The one night we had to shut down before we intended to do because our tent was flooding. And I only had a one pair of shoes with me because of the inconvenience of  another trip right after this one.

For the volunteers the festival was really easy one. Meaning that you had one six hours shift per day and the rest of the day was free for you to watch films or do something else.
Something else involved quite a bit of drinking some alcohol beverages like we do in Finland. Though when consuming them on this tiny pier like this they do taste a bit better:

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Photo by Saana Kotila

Some of the volunteers, I heard, saw some 20 films during the four days of the festival. I have to admit, I only saw five. I also have to admit that MSFF might be a bit too arty for my taste when it comes to the films on display. There were some of the lighter ones as well but unfortunately I was working during the showings but I don’t mind. To me the best thing at the festival wasn’t the films but the atmosphere of it all.

But a few words of the films I saw. The first one that I watched was The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Philip Kaufman who was a guest at the festival. The guy came up with the idea of the first Indiana Jones’ plot. It is still hard to believe because I also saw another film of his, The Great Northfield Minnesota Raid, and both are so so boring. There lenaolinwas nothing light (except some beautiful shots) in The Unbearable Lightness. And quite hot Lena Olin. But I don’t want to watch more of Philip Kaufman’s films. Especially if I have to sit on the floor like in the first one that I saw because it was sold out.

The second film I watched was karaoke (or sing a-long) version of Grease. There wasn’t anyone acting the parts which was a pity but it was good fun anyway. Pity that Finns are a bit uptight and the singing wasn’t that huge as I hoped. But in our corner of volunteers we had fun! Grease was probably also the best film that I saw during the festival.

The other two were Bella Addormentata by Marco Bellocchio, also the guest at the festival, an Italian film of euthanasia that wasn’t really sad. I liked it quite a lot. It was refreshing to watch a film about that kind of subject that is not brooding or depressing. Plus I love Italian language. The last but not the least was

Photo by Taru Kalvi

Photo by Taru Kalvi

Occident by Cristian Mungiu that just got to Sodankylä right before the showing of this film. I was so excited to see him live! He has, in the end, won Palme d’Or and is young and from Romania. He’s so talented. Occident was his first film they showed in Cannes and even though he’s come a long way since then, it was an entertaining piece of cinema. I’m always a fan of people dreaming of bigger things. I assume the title of the film is an indication to the situation when one is that suffocated by the ones surroundings that the one can’t breathe anymore. Figuratively speaking.

Photo by Pauliina Leikas

Photo by Pauliina Leikas

In addition to mentioned films I saw the panel of Finnish film makers discussion of the scene. What makes it, how it’s made, what is a scene and so on. It was, to me, the highlight of the program. It was very interesting to listen to the actual makers of the films how it’s done and the different opinions what exactly is a scene. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to listen the discussion to the end because my shift started. I also saw one screening of Kino Euphoria that is the short films of the film makers taking part to this workshop during and before the festival. I was quite hammered by that time (if I remember correctly the screening started at 5.15am or something like that) but I remember the second film of the bunch was really funny. The director was Italian, I think, but that’s about it. The film was about hangover. If anyone reading this could tell me the maker’s name, I would appreciate.

In conclusion, I will definitely go back. And I think everyone should visit this festival once in their life. It’s an experience that, I would imagine, one can’t see anywhere else.

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All the credited photos are taken from the official site of the festival.

Films of the Week Vol. 6

I haven’t posted anything concerning love of my life, the movies, for a while, so let’s review the films I watched during the last week.

Demolition Man (1993)demolitionman

directed by Marco Brambilla
written by Peter M. Lenkov, Robert Reneau & Daniel Waters
starring Sylvester Stallone, Wesley Snipes & Sandra Bullock

I saw Demolition Man back then when it was in cinemas. Back then I also thought it was quite good. Fortunately I was 13, so I can forgive myself. It’s not good. And it’s really hard to understand Stallone if you don’t have subtitles. I recorded this from telly and for some reason the subtitles didn’t work properly so I had to watch this without them and man! that guy can’t speak palpably. Very annoying. Sandra Bullock is the best thing in this one. But I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone except maybe those guys who love those Expendables casting-kinda things.

Rating: ** (out of *****)

Julia-Roberts-20My Best Friend’s Wedding (1997)

directed by PJ Hogan
written by Ronald Bass
starring Julia Roberts, Cameron Diaz & Dermot Mulroney

First of all, I’ve never understood what’s hot in Dermot Mulroney? He seems really stuck-up and kind of slow. Not interesting at all. So why they put him in the male-lead in those romantic comedies? I don’t get it. Especially in My Best Friend’s Wedding because Roberts and Diaz are competing of his love? Really? Why? Gosh, I just noticed this film has been nominated to an Oscar! WHY??? I’m in a bit of a shock now. But anyway, this one is decent rom-com (as you probably know already, I’m a fan of that genre and watch really embarrassing movies if they’re rom-coms), it was even better than I remembered. Roberts is endearing and Diaz is funny. That’s about it but it’s enough.

Rating: **½ 

(I should explain myself because I gave this only half a star more than the previous one but there is my line of what’s bad and what’s not. Two stars equal bad but 2,5 is already on the better side.)

Letter’s to Juliet (2010)letterstojuliet

directed by Gary Winick
written by Jose Rivera & Tim Sullivan
starring Amanda Seyfried, Vanessa Redgrave, Christopher Egan & Gael Garcia Bernal

Letter’s to Juliet is one of my favourite rom-coms that has come out recently. I have a thing to Amanda Seyfried, Gael Garcia Bernal is always hot, Egan speaks deafeningly beautiful English, it’s about filling your dreams and it all happens in stunning Toscana. If you didn’t know, I love Italy. Ok, the film is not exactly anything new or even original but it has the taste of summer and look of love. Makes me smile.

Rating: ***

titanicTitanic (1997)

directed by James Cameron
written by James Cameron
starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet, Billy Zane, Kathy Bates, Bill Paxton, Gloria Stuart & Frances Fisher

I’m the king of the world! That’s what Cameron said after receiving his Oscar for directing and I couldn’t agree more. Titanic was and is the love story of all love stories. And I remember how everyone talk about Titanic sinking with it back-then-huge budget. And the enormous success after the release. To me Titanic is the movie that got me once and for all hooked to the world of cinema. I simply love it. Yes, it’s a bit too much and the special effects are a bit out-dated but the story inside is never. And it gave us two of the best performers of today, Leo and Kate. To me Titanic is all about Roses journey to freedom and one of my favourite quotes is from the film:

He saved me… in every way that a person can be saved.

titanicliberty

Rating: *****

Assassination of a High School President (2008)

directed by Brett Simon
written by Kevin Jakubowski & Tim Calpin
starring Mischa Barton, Bruce Willis & Reece Thompson

This little gem I had in my digibox and on a lazy Saturday I decided to watch it and I’m very glad I did. First of all it introduced me to Luke Grimeslukegrimes, a very nice eye-candy who seems to be able to act. Secondly it has charming air to it, it’s a bit weird but at the same time it’s a perfect example of how to construct your movie. Assassination of a High School President has the script made by the text-book. It’s an example how to hide your hints of what’s coming into the film. Everyone who has studied at least a bit of film analyzing (or novels) sees those clues and knows easily what’s gonna happen in the end. But it was kind of fun. Characters in this little movie are interesting enough and the soundtrack is awesome, I probably need to find it somewhere. I recommend this one if you’re into a bit weird or high school movies. I like both.

Rating: ***½

Up in the Air (2009)

directed by Jason Reitman
written by Walter Kirn, Jason Reitman & Sheldon Turner
starring George Clooney, Vera Farmiga & Anna Kendrick

George-Clooney-in-Up-in-the-AirFor some reason I didn’t manage to watch Up in the Air when it was Oscar nominee, so I kind of forgot it. But thankfully recorded it when it was on telly. Because it happens to be very, very good movie. All of the actors are doing top-notch work and it looks like George Clooney is becoming one of my favourite actors. In my opinion he should have won the Oscar for The Descendants because that was his best work to date but in Up in the Air he’s also in a fine form. So are Farmiga and especially Kendrick too. She’s really growing to be quite a talent. That means, there was something good in Twilight saga after all. The script in this one is ridiculously well written. It’s real, funny and heart-breaking at the same time. I especially liked the one scene where Kendricks character is talking with Farmigas about men and expectations women have towards them. There really is a difference between a 23-year-old and 43-year-old. Director Jason Reitman has emerged as a real player in Hollywood with this, Juno and Young Adult. Next up is Labor Day with Kate Winslet, Tobey Maguire and Josh Brolin. Can’t be bad.

Rating: ****½

Tomorrow I’m off to Sodankylä and Midnight Sun Film Festival. Let’s see what I get to see there. A lot of Finnish films I guess and probably also some gems from Europe mostly. I’d at least like to see Sightseers, Blancanieves, Fill the Void, Dupa Dealuri, Room 237, Laulu Koti-ikävästä, The Purge and 21 Tapaa Pilata Avioliitto but then again, I’m volunteering, so I’ll see what I’m able to see.

La Bella Roma

As a part of my 101 challenge as a number 15 I have “Edit all the pix you’re gonna save.” I have tons, well, at least hundreds of photos to edit on my laptop and memory cards and I really need to edit and publish them someday. Preferably sooner than later. I managed to get some work done the other day when I edited the last of the pix from Rome where I went over a year ago and here are the results.

colosseo1I have loved Italy as long as I can remember. The love affair probably started with spaghetti, continued with football (that’s soccer to you on the other side of Atlantic) (’86 World Cup to be exact) and has grown ever since. But I never visited there until March 2012. And I’m so glad to say, the everlasting city did not disappointed. It’s the most beautiful place I’ve ever been. And I will go back there. Enjoy the trip to Rome through my eyes (and camera lens).

hostelli

A view from our hostel window. Loved it, very italian. The hostel, called Maison De Julie was very clean and near to everything. And Davide, the owner, came to open the doors for us even though we arrived in the middle of night.

tunneli

The tunnel (which name I couldn’t find) to Trevi fountain.

I'm a fan of Dan Brown and especially his novels of religion, history, art and so on. Angels & Demons is my favourite of his books and if you've read it, you know it's quite interesting to visit many of the sights in Rome. This is the one of them: Fontana di.

I’m a fan of Dan Brown and especially his novels of religion, history, art and so on. Angels & Demons is my favourite of his books and if you’ve read it, you know it’s quite interesting to visit many of the sights in Rome. This is the one of them: Fontana di Trevi. Also the place I’ve seen the most tourist together. Ever. A loads.

A street view in the Vatican City (right in the heart of Rome).

A street view in the Vatican City (right in the heart of Rome).

Piazza de Spagna and Spanish Steps. John Keats lived and died in there.

Piazza de Spagna and Spanish Steps. John Keats lived and died in there.

popolo1

Piazza del Popolo pictured up above.

A pillar inside of church of Santa Maria del Popolo that is also one of the settings in Angels & Demons.

A pillar inside of church of Santa Maria del Popolo that is also one of the settings in Angels & Demons.

Castel Sant'Angelo, also one of the setting in A & D. Very important one.

Castel Sant’Angelo, also one of the settings in A & D. Very important one.

Piazza Venezia, a kind of centre of Rome and also way too huge and stravagante.

Piazza Venezia, a kind of centre of Rome and also way too huge and pretentious.

pantheon1

Pantheon. No explanations needed, I guess.

We also climped to the top of the Basilica di San Pietro in Vaticano aka St. Peter's Basilica. Here's the first warning.

We also climbed to the top of the Basilica di San Pietro in Vaticano aka St. Peter’s Basilica. Here’s the first warning.

portaat1

BUT I think they should have warned about this! So narrow that I almost got hit by claustrophobia. Never again!

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The view after taking the elevator.

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The view after taking the stairs.

Although the basilica is ridiculous (you have to see it to understand what I mean), it is conceived beautifully, the natural light is used unbelivably. Loved it.

Although the basilica is ridiculous (you have to see it to understand what I mean), it is conceived beautifully, the natural light is used unbelievably. Loved it.

Look at the floor how light hits it.

Look at the floor how light hits it.

Oh, we saw this guy too. By accident. I almost turned catholic, the atmosphere were fantastic.

Oh, we saw this guy too. By accident. I almost turned catholic, the atmosphere were fantastic.

Rome wasn't build in a day. - But I'm glad they build it.

Rome wasn’t build in a day. – But I’m glad they build it.

That’s all for now. I’m off to Prague. Arrivederci!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Buon Appetito!

italiannite9

Ever since visiting Rome the last spring I’ve wanted to host this Italian dinner party. And I finally managed to get it together the last month for my birthday. Well, it wasn’t exactly the same day but close enough. Cooking is one of my hobbies and I’m quite good at it. To be modest, I’m that good that my step dad always asks me, whenever I cook for them, that why I don’t I make it as my profession. I enjoy it a lot but it’s not my passion like movies or television. I can go without proper cooking for a couple of weeks but I could never stop watching tv-series or films for that long. You need to have a passion for cooking if you want to be really good.

Well, anyway, as I said I finally managed to set the date and prepare a menu for the dinner. I had approximately 12 people coming and I only noticed the day before that if I’m going to offer everything I planned, I need to drop a visit to Ikea. And so I did. ikea
I’m not a big fan of the place because everyone in the Western world has Ikea furnitures and other stuff at their homes. But I got to admit that when you need to buy three different kind of glasses for alcohol beverages and some other stuff for the kitchen basically only for one party, it’s nice to get them cheap. Plus now, that I have them, I can always organize another party again.

So, the menu for the evening was the following:

l’aperitivo: Bellini with Finnish twist (meaning I used this blueberry smoothie to them)

gli antipasti: marinated veggies, olives, focaccia, prosciutto, salami, cantaloupe and garlic shrimps

il primo piatto: spinach risotto

il secondo piatto: Italian style pork or mozzarella salmon and rustic root vegetables

i dolci: Tiramisu

il digestivo: Limoncello and cheeses with crackers

italiannite1I did the most of the foods myself with a super-help from my friend and roommate. The first one on the list was Tiramisu because everyone said it’s better when done the day before.
So we made it the night before. I’ve never made it before, so I thought it would be difficult but it wasn’t at all. And apparently it was good as well. So, I most definitely will be making it again. I guess the secret of my recipe (well, Giulia’s) was that there were the same amounts of sugar, eggs and mascarpone. Here’s the end result of the first time:

italiannite2

The next one on the list was focaccia. I made that for the first time as well and also the night before. I used this recipe of Hans Välimäki who’s known cook in Finland. I couldn’t find his recipe in English but here’s one from Jamie Oliver. What I’ve read was that the main point is not to spare with the olive oil. And I didn’t as you can see from the “before going into the oven” pic:

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For the flavor I used rosemary, black seedless olives and sea salt. Worked. And it’s also easy to made but will take much longer than Tiramisu because the dough needs to stand.

italiannite5

I should have made the marinated veggies the night before as well but they worked just fine after running them on the frying pan. All of the other courses and parts of them I made the next day. The schedule was way too tight, so I couldn’t concentrate on the guests at the beginning of the feast as well as I have hoped for and I also made some of the foods kind of “left-handed” but fortunately for me, they turn out to be good. Especially the spinach risotto. I only used spinach, salt and pepper to spice it. And I managed to buy a really good parmesan that of course was the huge part of the meal. Also very easy to made and you can always spice it up with pine nuts or mushrooms or whatever you like. I have lived with vegetarians for two years now, so I tend to make food that they can eat too.

kuva-2While I was preparing the food my lovely roommate made the setting. Simple but working. We don’t have a huge apartment and that table for ten is usually shrinked to the normal size that is half of the size in the picture. We also don’t have that many chairs but the little extra tables next to wall worked as seats just well.

The Rustic root veggies included some potatoes, carrots and a little of parsnip seasoned with sea salt and a lot of thyme.

italiannite6Unfortunately I don’t have proper pictures of the main courses because of the scheduling. And I couldn’t find recipes in English either but here are the ones in Finnish if you are interested: pork and salmon.

But all in all the Italian dinner was very succesful. We ate for approximately five hours, drank a lot of good wines and listened quite enough of Italian dinner music (that can be found from Spotify with that name).

italiannite8

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Salute!