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This inspiration hit me like a ton of bricks the other day, right after I took a shower to wash my hair. I was feeling so incredibly refreshed after washing my hair that I decided to write a post about it, but I couldn’t just write a bland post about hair washing, so I decided to include other things that made my heart flutter 『ドキドキ』 recently. Here is my shortlist.

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Photo Credit: Pinterest

  1. That feeling you get after washing your really dingy, greasy hair. You know how there are times when you’ll wait a couple of days to wash your hair, to really build up the grunge? You know those times when you’re trying not to over-wash your hair & strip it of its natural oils, & then it’s the moment of truth, hair washing day. You really slather on the shampoo & really work up a good, thick lather. You massage your scalp & thoroughly rinse all the suds from your glorious mane. Then apply a fresh coat of conditioner. It’s that really squeaky clean, refreshed, weight-off-your-shoulders, relieved feeling you get after finally washing your hair once & for all.That’s the feeling I got a few days ago after washing my own hair. For some unknown reason, my hair was especially greasy & stringy that day. I had been trying to stretch out the days between hair washes because I don’t want to strip my hair of its natural oils & nutrients. I guess I probably applied too much anti-frizz oil from my previous hair styling, so it really built up greasiness on my scalp & hair. Oh man, I gotta tell you that I felt so extremely refreshed after washing my hair that day. It made me feel so incredibly overjoyed that it compelled me to write about it. My hair felt like I had just gone to the hair salon & had a professional stylist spruce it up for me. I felt like a big weight had been lifted off my shoulders, & the semi-germophobe/neat freak inside of me was screaming with happiness that I was clean from head-to-toe once again.Sunday Cologne1.jpg
  2. I got a new fragrance from BYREDO for Christmas from Jian. I’ve been wanting to try this Sunday Cologne scent for a very long time but always end up going back to my two favorite scents: Flowerhead  Black Saffron. Jian was generous to splurge on this fragrance for my Christmas gift, & I was so happy to be able to try it. This has been my go-to fragrance for this month. I love the gentle floral & slightly herbal notes of this fragrance. This fragrance provides a nice break between my other BYREDO fragrances, which are more strong on the sweet & floral notes. This fragrance makes me feel so light & happy. Also, the best part about this BYREDO fragrance, all of their fragrances, is they don’t give me any allergies. I am highly allergic to anything with a perfume smell & generic perfume in generall, so being able to find perfumes & colognes that don’t make me sneeze or make my skin itch is a win for me.
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    Took me 8+ hours (over a span of 4 days) to finish this set. It’s a little smaller than a typical LEGO set.

    3. I’ve probably never mentioned this on my blog before, but I love collecting LEGO modular creator sets & building them. So far I have nine city building sets (Café Corner, Green Grocer, Grand Emporium, Pet Shop, Town Hall, Palace Cinema, Parisian Restaurant, Ace Brickman’s Detective Office, & Brick Bank), & currently Jian is building the newest addition to our collection, the 10th Anniversary Assembly Square. I’ve also got 3 world landmark sets including the one pictured above (India’s Taj Mahal, London’s Tower Bridge, London’s Big ben).

    This Big Ben modular set was one my all-time favorite sets to build so far. Pardon my language here, but this was a real bitch to build. There were quite a few custom brick pieces, & a lot of the bricks & tiles had to be placed diagonally. You know the neat-freak/compulsive organizer iniside of me had to make sure every diagonal section matched up perfectly. That made the building process a real pain in the ass. On top of that, there were so many repetitive sections to build  that I was getting frustrated in the middle of building this set. However, once I completed building the set I felt so accomplished, & it was so rewarding. Surprisingly, my most favorite part to build of this entire set was the lone tree, not even the clock mechanism in the main tower. Also, building this set really ramped up my desire to visit England. I’ve been extremely wanting to visit London for many years, but building this set (as well as the Tower Bridge set) made me want to visit that city even more!

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    Photo Credit: Minimal Movie Posters

    4. A couple of weeks ago I re-watched the movie Midnight in Paris again. I started watching the movie while I was taking a shower. Ok, so I didn’t exactly watch it when I was in the shower. I just proped up my tablet on the bathroom counter as close to my shower as possible & just let the movie play in the background while I was showering. I continued to watch the rest of the movie after I got out of the shower. I think I’ve probably watched this movie 7 or 8 times already, & I’m still not sick of it yet. I love all of the famous characters portrayed in this movie, & I especially love the aspect of traveling back in time to one’s favorite era.

    If I could travel back in time, I would travel back to the 1950s-60s, but only if I would be spared the racial discrimination for being Asian…or, like if I slipped back in time to a place like the one portrayed in the movie Flower Drum Song. I wish I knew a guy like the movie’s character Gil Pender. I would love to explore Paris with him, & like he says in the movie, walk along the river with a baguette under my arm & sit at a café while scribbling away on a novel. That would be…lovely.

    Spotify-icon-256.png5. I’ve said in my previous post that I recently subscribed to a premium account on Spotify. I’ve talked on-and-on about how much I love the wide music selection on Spotify & the menu options & such. I just discovered the entire Midnight in Paris original motion picture soundtrack on Spotify, & it has made me so happy. Ever since I first saw this movie I had wanted to download the entire soundtrack on iTunes, but I never actually did it. Then, when I found out the entire soundtrack was available to listen on Spotify, I was over-the-moon with joy. I’ve probably listened to all the songs 20 times each since my Spotify discovery. I even listened to this soundtrack on repeat throughout the duration of my LEGO Big Ben build.

    Yes, I know it sounds weird to be listening to French classical music while I’m in the process of building a British historical landmark. I should’ve been listening to some Brit-Pop music like The Clash or the Arctic Monkeys instead, but I couldn’t help myself. I’m a creature of habit, as I’ve stated many times before, & I also love all of the songs from this movie. The music from this movie just puts me in a good mood, just like the music from the animated Pixar movie Ratatouille, which is also French in theme. (I am so envious that my mom got to visit Paris, France last year, even though I want to vist London, England more than any other place in the world.) Don’t laugh at me, but I’m listening to the Midnight in Paris soundtrack on Spotify right now, exactly as I’m typing this paragraph. I am currently listening to Can-Can From “Orpheus in the Underworld” as performed by the Czech National Symphony Orchestra on my Spotify app. See? I love this app. I’m using everyday to listen to all of my favorite music. I’ve hardly touched my iTunes app in the past month. All I can say now is that I am so happy I subscribed to Spotify.

Well, that’s all I have to say about that. I can’t believe that January just flew by like a crazy bat out of hell. I hope February doesn’t slip by so quickly. Until then, cheers!

Today’s song of the day:

“Gold On the Ceiling” by The Black Keys

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image credits: Universal Studios & Paramount Pictures via IMDB

 

“A wheelchair-bound professional photographer spies on his neighbors from his apartment window, and is convinced one of them has committed a murder.” (via IMDB)

So I got this hankering, a real itch, to watch a movie the other night. I love watching classic films from the 1950s & 60s, but it’s hard to find movies made before the 1970s in a streaming format on the Internet. Sure, it’s much easier to buy a DVD & watch it on the home TV, but first of all, who watches DVDs anymore now that there are such outlets like: Netflix, Crackle, Hulu, & On Demand cable listings? Secondly, who has the time to buy DVDs and convert their formats into tablet compatible video files? Mostly, I enjoy the convenience of watching from my portable device, so I can do things like take a shower & watch my movie at the same time.

It really is hard to find Classic films to rent & stream or to buy & download on the Internet. Before Netflix took it off their streaming list, I’ve probably stream-watched Breakfast at Tiffany’s at least a dozen times or so…To Catch a Thief, perhaps half a dozen or more times, all while working out at the gym (or soaking in the bath tub, again). I rented Rear Window the other night on my tablet, & it just brought back to my mind all of the reasons why this movie is arguably my most favorite film of all-time. These are a few of the movie genres I like: Mystery, Romance, & Action & Adventure. This movie had all three genres rolled into one. There were thrills & suspense without the movie being overly predictable & corny. After all, this IS an iconic Alfred Hitchcock film.

image credits: Universal Studios & Paramount Pictures via IMDB

 

I’ve always enjoyed the fine acting of James “Jimmy” Stewart, & of course, Grace Kelly. Of course, who doesn’t love director Alfred Hitchcock? He has directed several of my favorite films (i.e. To Catch a Thief, North By Northwest, The Man Who Knew Too Much, & The Birds). I won’t remember Jimmy Stewart from the film It’s a Wonderful Life, as I haven’t seen the film in its entirety, but I’ll always remember him in this film Rear Window & in The Man Who Knew Too Much (since I saw the latter film in high school for a class assignment). I’ve also mistakenly seen the 1990s Christopher Reeve remake of this film, & it could never compare with the original. What a disaster the 90s remake was! At least I didn’t have to pay even a cent to watch that movie, it was such a flop in my book. The original version of Rear Window is so timeless; I could watch this movie a hundred more times & not get sick of it.

Jimmy Stewart’s character L.B. Jeffries would make a great detective if he ever decided to give up his photography career. I love how he uses his camera equipment to take a closer look into the lives of his fellow apartment neighbors. Let’s see, we’ve got the older couple with the friendly dog who pulls their mattress onto their balcony every night to sleep, the aspiring ballet/Broadway dancer, the newlywed couple who always keeps their shades drawn, the music composer who’s run out of inspiration, the bohemian art sculptor who likes to sunbathe in the afternoons, Ms. Lonelyhearts…the single woman who is so desperate for a man that she makes them up or picks up guys from bars. Then you have the most famous neighbor of them all, Mr. Thorwald, the costume jewelry salesman with a nagging invalid wife who begins to act suspiciously upon the sudden disappearance of his wife.

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image credits: Universal Studios & Paramount Pictures via IMDB

I get such a thrill stepping into the shoes of Jimmy Stewart’s character, spying on my neighbors in an act of pure voyeurism. It’s so naughty, yet so fun to snoop on the neighbor’s living around you. Maybe it’s because Jian always says I like to snoop on my neighbors. He makes fun of me about this all the time. I don’t like to say that I’m snooping per-sé, but, I will embellish my answer by saying I am a glorified “neighborhood watchman”. I do like to know what’s going on in my neighborhood, so that I can be prepared in case of emergencies and natural disasters. Therefore, it’s not really being nosy or snooping. However, there are times when Jian & I are walking around the major city center & I will sometimes peek into apartments with large windows…not because I’m a pervert or a voyeur, but because I like to see how others decorate their own homes. I have a mild interest in home decorating & often watch home improvement programs on the HGTV & FYI channels.

image credits: Universal Studios & Paramount Pictures via IMDB

image credits: Universal Studios & Paramount Pictures via IMDB

OK, let’s get back to talking about the movie. I sometimes wish I could be as observant as Jimmy Stewart’s character L.B. Jeffries, taking mental notes about my interesting & colorful neighbors. This brings up old memories of when I was a young tween, reading the classic children’s book Harriet The Spy (I’ve also seen the 1990s movie starring Gossip Girl actress Michelle Trachtenberg). Oh man, when I was a young teenager I really, really, really wanted to be just like the character Harriet The Spy. I even started collecting notebooks just so I could write down everything I observed. I wanted to roam the city streets, sneak through dirty alleyways behind Chinatown, make friends with the local butcher & delivery truck guy, use my binoculars to peek through grimy back alley windows, & write down everything I see around me. I believe I’ve somewhat achieved that goal. I’ve got this blog after all. Now, I don’t want to ever discover a murder crime scene, or anything gruesome like that, but it would be a little cool to learn more about my neighbors quirky habits & getting to know them.

You know one thing’s for sure, Holly Golightly from Breakfast at Tiffany’s would not much care for L.B. Jeffries from this film. You know why? Because just as Ms. Golightly said to Paul Varjak just as he woke her from a nightmare, “Let’s get one thing straight. I hate snoops!” (You see! That shows just how many times I’ve seen ‘B at T’s’! I can quote parts of the movie off the top of my head.) Speaking of lead female characters, let’s chat a little bit about Grace Kelly’s utterly fabulous character Lisa Carol Fremont. Oh, how I truly admire a strong female such as she! A woman who knows her own mind, knows what she wants, & works hard at getting it, even if it comes in the form of a stubborn wheelchair-bound photographer who thinks she’s too good for him. It does not matter to Lisa that she’s an upper crust socialite & L.B. is a blue-collar guy who sticks his neck out for a smashing photograph. She’s in love with him, & she works hard to prove it to him: providing him a gourmet lobster dinner, warm after-dinner brandy, & one overnight bag carrying only the essentials a girl would need to stay the night at her lover’s apartment. Lisa also takes care of L.B., not only attending to his everyday needs while he is confined to that damed wheelchair, but she really gives him loads of TLC…ahem, plenty of kissing. Like I said before, she is a woman who knows her own mind. Lisa practically immediately believes L.B.’s claims that his across-the-way neighbor has been acting very bizarrely, ever since the invalid wife’s disappearance. She helps him in any way to gather evidence against the suspicious neighbor, helping him sort through crazy theories, & even providing a woman’s perspective with her “Women’s Intuition”. Lisa is quite brave sneaking off to the neighbor’s apartment in the middle of the night to snoop around for clues. That show how much in love & devoted she is to Mr. Grumpy Wheelchair Guy.

image credits: Universal Studios & Paramount Pictures via IMDB

image credits: Universal Studios & Paramount Pictures via IMDB

The other lead female character in this movie should also not be overlooked. Thelma Ritter’s character Stella, the insurance company’s home-care nurse, is also one of my favorite characters from the movie. Stella provides the quick wit & sharp humor that cuts through the thick tension throughout this film. She’s always trying to push L.B. to move his relationship forward with Lisa, never mincing her words. Hey, she’s a maladjusted misfit who’s been happily married to her other maladjusted misfit for years, so she knows a thing a two about love. The only way to get her wedding ring would be to chop off her finger. I think Stella needs to spread a little more common sense on L.B.’s sandwiches from now on. I really think Thelma Ritter was nicely cast for this role. I haven’t seen too many of her movies, but I still quite enjoy her acting. Her most notable acting role that I can remember was Alma the loveable, eavesdropping, drunk housekeeper in the film Pillow Talk, starring Doris Day, Rock Hudson,Tony Randall. She also provided much needed dry wit & sharp humor in that film as well.

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image credits: Universal Studios & Paramount Pictures via IMDB

One thing I really loved about this movie is that it was all entirely filmed in one sound stage. Everything was pretty much shot in the infamous apartment of L.B. Jeffries. No grand location shoots or car chase scenes, just one beautifully designed apartment. Oh, how I just adore the architecture & home decor of the 1950s & 60s!! What was considered Contemporary back then is now considered Mid-Century Modern nowadays. Well, I now live in an Eichler home, so I guess that influenced my love of Mid-Mod decor. I’ve always dreamed of living in a downtown city apartment decorated just like L.B.’s in the film. So, when I lived in my own apartment for a time, I felt so happy & content. I was really proud of & loved cleaning my apartment everyday & finding new ways to decorate it. If only I had an unlimited budget, then I would’ve surely decorated my apartment to look very Mid-Century Modern. I’m not sure how much Jian would’ve approved, but I would’ve been over the moon. I amazes me that the entire movie was filmed in such a small apartment complex, & yet there was so much action going on within the storyline. Each apartment neighbor provided their own little side story, which made the film seem like more & feel much bigger than it actually was.

And lastly, we shall conclude with the main character who really, truly, utterly stole the show within this movie…Grace Kelly’s masterpiece of a Chanel haute couture dress! I long to one day have a stunning figure like Grace Kelly. She’s not only tall & svelte, but she’s got just the perfect amount of feminine curves to give her a sensual aura. Her hair is always perfectly styled with not a stray hair out of place, & she never wears overly done-up makeup, only enough to accentuate her glorious femininity. No one can ever pull off wearing such a glamorous dress, except maybe Audrey Hepburn, if everyday was a Funny Face kind of day & Fred Astaire was your personal photographer & love interest. Just look at how stunning the actress AND the dress look…and I will end it at that. Cheers!

Today’s song of the day:

“Hoops” by The Rubens

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As you may or may not know, lately I’ve been taking more frequent baths. I truly enjoy my sacred bath time. I take my time to set-up the bathroom for a high level of relaxation & fun. I always place my bath towel in the exact same spot (even when I take my showers); I put out my soaps & hair care products in strategic places around the bathtub, so I won’t have to get up every five minutes to grab something. I also bring in my plastic stool to prop up my tablet for optimum movie watching. Which brings me to the next topic because I almost always watch a movie, TV show, or some sort of video while I’m taking a bath.

I am an absolute creature of habit. Sometimes, I’ll venture out & watch a movie I’ve never seen (& often have never heard of) before. The most recent “new” movie I watched was one on Netflix called “Final Girl“. The movie features: Abigail Breslin (Scream Queens), Wes Bentley (American Horror Story), Alexander Ludwig (The Hunger Games), & Francesca Eastwood (yes, Clint Eastwood’s daughter). I most certainly am not a fan of slasher-thriller type movies; I especially despise movies that involve a crazed madman chasing a woman through the woods. However, this movie was actually surprisingly entertaining to watch. I enjoyed the chemistry & the relationship between Abigail & Wes’ characters. That’s probably one of the few movies I’ve watched outside of my self-prescribed rotating list of movies I like to watch while I’m taking a bath.

Another movie (not on my list) that I’ve watched recently is “Rust and Bone“, starring: Marion Cotillard (The Dark Knight Rises, Inception, Midnight in Paris) & Matthias Schoenaerts (Far From The Madding Crowd, The Drop, Bullhead). I absolutely loved this movie & am considering buying the digital download for my movie collection. The slow-building romance between the two main characters is so achingly beautiful, painful & raw at the same time. I truly & completely loved the ending of the movie. It was because of the ending scenes that made me swoon over Matthias Schoenaerts’ character. I’m not going to give away too much of the movie & let you watch it for yourself. I will just add at the last minute that Marion Cotillard is one of my favorite actresses, & that is all.

I have no problems whatsoever with watching a movie multiple times, especially if it’s a movie I thoroughly enjoy. I think I can get quite picky borderline annoying regarding the movies I choose to watch, but when I find one I truly like &/or love, I can watch that movie over & over again without getting sick of it. There are just some movies that stick with me for a long time, & I will have no problem watching that movie several times (consecutively, sometimes). Jian often does not share my taste in movie genres or story lines, so we often watch our movies separately. We enjoy watching current box office movies together, & on that regard, we do enjoy the same now-in-theaters movies. However, when it comes to movie rentals or On Demand cable TV movies, we can never agree on much.

I end up watching most of my movies while I’m taking a bath. That’s the perfect time to squeeze in one of my movies on my tablet, while Jian is occupying the home TV to play video games or watch his silly Comedy Central TV shows. I have noticed, during my most recent bath sessions, that I’ve been frequently cycling through the same few movies over and over. Jian often teases me mercilessly over my movie choices. He sometimes wonders aloud why I am watching that movie again. I have a difficult time explaining to him why I enjoy watching the same movies multiple times without him teasing me for being so predictable & routine. Therefore, I watch my movies in secret; often times when he’s at work, or other times when I’m taking my baths. I’m not ashamed of watching the same movies over & over again. I just don’t like listening to Jian openly tease me about it, or listen to him complain that I’m controlling the TV with things that only I want to watch.

So I’ve made up a list of movies that I call my guilty pleasures movies, even though I don’t feel guilty about them at all. I will say one thing, please excuse my selection of movies. My taste in movie genres, like my musical taste, runs all over the map. So forgive me if the list bounces around & possibly gives you an eye strain. Cheers.

1. Midnight in Paris: I have seen this movie at least twice in the past month. I just love the plot to this movie. Hopping into a time-traveling taxi & hob-knobbing with the notable celebrities of one’s favorite “golden age” era. Falling in love in the rain in the middle of Paris with the Eiffel Tower twinkling in the background. How romantic is that? This movie makes me wish I could take a vintage taxi & travel back in time to my favorite time in history & just soak up the atmosphere for a little while before slipping back into the harsh, gritty reality of the present.

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image credits belong to: Minimal Movie Posters at www.minimalmovieposters.tumblr.com

2. You’ve Got Mail: I have watched this movie several times on TV, & I find it endearing each time I watch it. It breaks my heart when Meg Ryan’s character has to close her quaint little bookshop, but it also brightens my heart when she develops a friendship with Tom Hanks’ character that evolves into love. I enjoy the simplicity of emails & instant messaging…long before the days of SnapChattexting/sexting. I can see how this movie can feel so out-dated when you see the main characters using big, chunky IBM laptops with a dial-up modem, & they still have to log-on to AOL. However, I find that aspect charming, & it hits close to home, as I’ve done such things (like instant messaging & chatroom conversations) with ex-boyfriends past. This is overall a “cute” movie that I wouldn’t turn away from if it aired on TV again.

you've got mail

image credits belong to: Minimal Movie Posters at www.minimalmovieposters.tumblr.com

 

3.The Boat That Rocked (a.k.a. Pirate Radio): This movie renewed my interest (& semi-passion) in music from the 1950s & 60s. I grew up listening to my local “oldies” radio station all throughout my Elementary school years. A girl, who was my best friend at the time, & her mother both got me into music from that era. The girl’s mother had a vintage record player & would let us listen to all of her vintage (& original) Beatles, Simon & Garfunkel, The Association vinyl records. I fell in love with the music & started listening to my local “oldies/classic” radio station on my walkman at night. Of course when I got into Junior High School & High School, it was uncool to listen to anything but the Top 40 hits, so I quickly started listening to whatever was popular on the radio station to fit in with the rest of the kids at school. After watching this movie, it just reaffirmed my love of the music from the 1950s & 60s. While watching this movie, I was surprised that I could actually sing along to some of the songs played throughout the movie. Needless to say, I downloaded the soundtrack almost immediately after watching the movie. This movie also reminded me of a time when I wanted to become a radio station deejay. I enjoy watching this movie because it lets me live vicariously through the rebel deejays during the musical revolution of the 1960s in the UK.

boat that rocked

image credits belong to: Minimal Movie Posters at www.minimalmovieposters.tumblr.com

 

4.Secretary: I can attest that I am not a masochist, nor am I a submissive to anyone’s domination. However, I don’t mind a little kinky fuckery every now and again. This movie will always be at the top of my “Top 10 Movies” list. Hands down. I love this movie so much, yet I can’t find the apt words to describe how I feel about it. Sometimes, I feel lost in life like Maggie Gyllenhal‘s character from this movie, but I most certainly do not feel the need to cut or burn myself just to feel any emotion at all. I am often intrigued by the mysterious, dominating, intimidating, powerful, sexual types like James Spader’s character from this movie. How would I react if I had an employer who acted that way around me? Would I be fearful & afraid? Or would I be turned on & motivated just like the main character in this movie? The slow-burning, highly erotic romance that develops between the two main characters in this movie turn me on. I’d love to be in an all-consuming, passionate to the point of heartbreaking, relationship just like the two main characters. Two people who know how & when to push each others buttons, but only to bring pleasure, not to cause harm…& to help one another not only grow within themselves, but grow to love the other unselfishly & unconditionally. Plus, the spanking’s hot too.

secretary

image credits belong to: Minimal Movie Posters at www.minimalmovieposters.tumblr.com

 

5.Music And Lyrics: The first time I watched this movie was on a flight to Japan. I was skeptical to watch this movie at first because I am not a big fan of movies with Drew Barrymore. However, I ended up thoroughly enjoying this movie. Recently, during one of my bath sessions, I re-watched this movie & grew to like it even more. What’s more is that I can’t get the Pop song from the movie out of my head, & I’ve been humming the song to myself on & off a lot lately…you know that song: “Pop Goes My Heart” by the fictional Pop group POP! from this very movie. I remember once, when I was a teenager, trying to write my own song lyrics. I had no clue on where to start. Do I create a background melody first? Or do I write the words first? My attention span at that age was so short, I gave up before I even put pen to paper. I will say that watching this movie makes song lyrics writing look fun (stressful, yet fun). Also, I found Hugh Grant’s character to be funny, cute & a little charming. I love how his character can easily make fun of himself & his past career as a cheesy 80s Pop idol. This movie is both cute & fun to watch, just to pass the time, for a good laugh, or if you’re stuck on a boring plane ride.

music and lyrics

image credits belong to: Jon Glanville on Flickr at www.flickr.com/photos/27980022@N04/

 

6. Battle Royale (a.k.a. BR I): I said earlier on in this blog post that I dislike slasher movies, however, this movie was so beautifully done that it has become one of my all-time favorite movies. Director Kinji Fukasaku unfortunately passed away before the completion of filming the sequel Battle Royale II: Requiem, but his memory plays on through this iconic film. This is surely a tale of love & survival. If you thought The Hunger Games was cruel & unusual punishment, then you haven’t seen this movie. Battle Royale puts the Hunger Games to shame, even though they share similar traits in how these “games” are set-up. Both games are set up as follows: 1. Game contestants are selected at random. However, in BR, instead of selecting competitors by ‘district’, each group of contestants are young students who are selected by school, grade level & classroom, & they are stranded on a deserted island. 2. Whomever is the last person standing is the victor of the games. 3. Use any means &/or weapon necessary to become the last person standing at the end of the games. However, unlike The Hunger Games, in BR, you already start with your own survival pack complete with a weapon, a map, a compass, food rations, & a bottle of water. Also, you have a tracking collar locked around your neck, & at different intervals throughout the day, different spots on the island become hot zones which will cause anyone within that hot zone to detonate the explosives within the collar.

Like in The Hunger Games, there is a romantic couple that arises, who become each others’ allies & help each other survive the game. Yes, these two young characters witness some of their closest friends die right before their eyes, but that only hardens their resolve to stay alive. These two star-crossed lovers vow to protect each other & stay by each other’s side no matter what. They vow to fight together against the jaded, corrupt adults who created this game to rid Japan of its troubled, lazy, & unmotivated youth. From the moment that I first saw this movie, I fell in love with actor Tatsuya Fujiwara & his acting. Tatsuya is brilliant in this movie (as well as in his other movie roles), but alongside actress Ai Maeda, & the pair make a heartbreaking hero-heroine couple. Just to warn you, this movie is extremely graphic, violent, gory (& vulgar in some areas). The most iconic scene in the movie is when Chiyaki Kuriyama’s character stabs another boy in the crotch with an ice pick, crying out that he will never get to touch her. It was because of Chiyaki’s character in this movie that prompted director Quentin Tarantino to specifically create the character GoGo Yubari in the movie Kill Bill Vol. 1 just for Chiyaki…& also as an homage to her BR character. I couldn’t end this without mentioning the perpetually depressed & angry Takeshi Kitano (a.k.a. Beat Takeshi). When I first saw him in this movie, I thought he was so cold-hearted, unfeeling, & cruel; yet, the more I watched him, the more I wanted to reach out & hug him…to show him some sort of affection his daughter (the ones both on & off screen) never gave him. It is so heart-wrenching to see a man fall to his knees, desperately searching for a young daughter’s affection & attention, & the one who showed him any compassion at all ended up being the one who ended him.

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image credits belong to: Minimal Movie Posters at http://www.minimalmovieposters.tumblr.com

 

Today’s song of the day:
“Beautiful Love (Take 2) by Bill Evans
beautiful love take 2

 

“Baltimore industrialist Wendell Armbruster crosses paths with London shop girl Pamela Piggott when they come to Ischia to pick up the bodies of her mother and his father, who have been killed in an automobile accident after a ten-year summertime affair. Straitlaced Wendell tries to avoid a scandal while free-spirited Pamela is impressed by the romantic setting. After some confusion with the bodies and a blackmail attempt by unscrupulous locals, Wendell and Pamela extend their parent’s affair into the next generation.” via IMDB

Before this week, I had never even heard of this movie, called Avanti! (circa 1972). I know of actor Jack Lemmon; I’ve seen a few of his older movies & TV shows in the past (eg. The Odd Couple with fellow actor Walter Mathau). I know little of actress Juliet Mills. If I hadn’t “Google searched” her name, I would not have immediately recognized her. I only remember her from her days on a long-ago cancelled daytime American TV soap opera, & as the wife of fellow actor Maxwell Caulfield (whom I only recognize from the movies Grease 2 & Empire Records). I just happened to stumble upon this movie one evening while I was channel surfing on my bedroom TV. I often enjoy watching the classic movie channels, & sometimes I’ll uncover a real winner…like this one.

In just this one week alone, I’ve already watched this movie THREE TIMES. Yes, I understand that I sound like a crazy person, but I really, truly enjoyed this movie, & found it to be quite romantic even though some may argue that this movie glorifies & beautifies the act of openly & freely committing adultery. I choose to look past the sordid details of adultery & focus on the budding romance between the two main characters Wendell Armbruster Jr. Pamela Piggott. I can’t quite understand how a man, back in those days, could go on vacation to Italy for one moth every year for ten years without his family, & it doesn’t raise any red flags. I get that in the movie, it was mentioned that the main male character’s father had health issues & was visiting the Italian hotel to relax & relieve his ailments. However, staying in Italy for ONE MONTH, alone? If I were the wife of Mr. Armbruster Sr., I’d tell him to take the kids with him. I need a vacation too. [laughs]

There were definite parts of the movie that I enjoyed the most. I really liked how, through the course of the movie, Jack Lemmon’s character Wendell Jr. has a change of attitude & a change of heart toward’s Juliet Mills’ character Pamela. Jack’s character is at first cold, surly & impatient.

“Look, Miss. On a train, or on a boat, there’s nothing I can do about it. But when you come barging into my room…” – Wendell Armbruster Jr.

“I thought maybe tonight we’d do something different…our thing.” – Wendell Armbruster Jr.

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However, Juliet’s free-spirited & happy-go-lucky character slowly thaws his icy heart & slows his quick-tempered pace. Eventually, the two main characters grow to enjoy each other’s company & build a relationship without immediately realizing it. My most favorite scene(s) of the movie has to do with Juliet’s character Pamela Piggott. I absolutely LOVE that Pamela shows a little vulnerability & sensitivity toward her not-so-slim figure (a.k.a. her weight), yet she is able to keep a sense of humor about it all. Through the course of the movie, Pamela becomes increasingly confident about her voluptuousness. I wish I could be as confident about my body as Pamela is about her own body.

“I’ve been called plump. I’ve been called pudgy. I’ve been called chubby. But I’ve never been called fat…ass.” – Pamela Piggott

“Mrs. Armbruster, just to put your  mind at rest, you needn’t be worried one bit, because if you saw me, I’m short, I’m fat, & I’m not very attractive. OK?” – Pamela Piggott

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Besides the two main characters, there are a few other colorful characters worth mentioning…such as:
1. Carlo Carlucci, the charming, witty & quick-thinking hotel manager
2. Bruno, the cheeky valet with a penchant for taking raunchy photographs
3. Anna, the mustachioed housekeeper with a trigger finger & an unrequited passion for Bruno (Throughout the movie, I thought this character was played by an effeminate man, only to discover that she really was a woman…Oops!)

This movie starts off rather cold, with Wendell Jr. desperately trying to keep Pamela quiet about their parents’ love affair. Wendell sees the affair as a sordid black mark on his well-respected & high-profile father’s life, while Pamela only sees the pure & genuine love the two shared between each other. After spending a night of reliving their parents’ past, the two warm up to each other & start to really see things the way their parents saw things when they were together at the hotel. One of my favorite lines from this particular part of the movie comes after the pair decide to take a morning swim in their birthday suits (& a pair of black socks…because some people are in mourning.)

“Well here we are…basking like two baby seals…” – Wendell Armbruster Jr.

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The hotel is very beautiful, & I wish it were a real place that I could visit. All of the rooms seem quite luxurious, & I would love to have a cocktail (or two) at the bar & enjoy a meal of Duck à L’Orange with a side of pasta (perhaps green, for color).

And now, we come to the end of the movie. It’s time for Wendell to wrap up business in Italy. After all, he was there to claim his deceased father’s corpse & rush to a hasty funeral, not to fall in love with his father’s mistress’ daughter. The whole time in Italy, Wendell is cursing his father for having a ten-year secret love affair. All the while, Pamela is just happy that her mother was happily in love (whether her mother’s lover was married or not did not phase her at all). My final favorite scene in the movie was when Wendell asks Pamela about her mother. He asks her, in a roundabout way, if she was a kept woman. Pamela assures him that her mother was not receiving gifts from his father. Her mother was a working woman who paid her own way in life. Her mother never wanted money or gifts from Wendell’s wealthy father. She only wanted his love.

“I told you the first day, she loved him. She didn’t want any tips.” – Pamela Piggott

Isn’t it rather romantic (& a lot of Hollywood movie magic) that the son & daughter of the two former lovers end up falling in love with each other, & carry on the romance their parents once held at that very same hotel? Of course a storyline like that only happens on extremely rare occasions & in flashy Hollywood movie scripts. However, I quite enjoyed the storyline all the same. I guess you could say that I am in love with LOVE. I am a sucker for a sappy good romance. I thoroughly enjoyed this movie, & believe it or not…most likely you will…I was watching this movie yet again, simultaneously while writing this blog post…and NO. I am not going to watch this movie after I finish this post. Cheers.

Today’s song of the day:

“I’m Glad There Is You” by Oscar Peterson

Im Glad There Is You

uncle-posterUNCLE1

In the 1960s with the Cold War in play, CIA agent Napoleon Solo successfully helps Gaby Teller defect to West Germany despite the intimidating opposition of KGB agent Illya Kuryakin. Later, all three unexpectedly find themselves working together in a joint mission to stop a private criminal organization from using Gaby’s father’s scientific expertise to construct their own nuclear bomb. Through clinched teeth and stylish poise, all three must find a way to cooperate for the sake of world peace, even as they each pursue their own agendas.

via: IMDB

I recently saw the film The Man from U.N.C.L.E.. This was one of the films in more recent years that has truly piqued my interest. I’ve been finding movies within this decade are so uninteresting and boring. Nothing has been grabbing my attention or even getting me remotely excited, until this movie came along. Upon the first time viewing the trailer for this movie, while I was in the theater watching Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation, I was instantly hooked. Oh, yeah. I fell in love with this movie straight away.

This movie really caught my attention right from the start because it reminded me of all of my favorite classic/vintage/retro films from the 1960s. I absolutely adore films from the 60s…more so than the films of my generation or even in the current decade. This movie had a bit of James Bond, mixed with a little bit of The Italian Job, mixed with a dash of Charade, mixed with a small helping of The Avengers (TV show), mixed with a dose of To Catch A Thief.

There was plenty of espionage, sexiness, comedy, secret identities, evil-doing, just-in-the-nick-of-time moments, car chases, gun fights, explosions, & the hero(es) saving the damsel (sort of) in distress.

The incredibly soulful, Motown-esque music soundtrack really set a great vibe throughout the film, & it really got me tapping my feet (quietly) & bobbing my head the entire time. I’m debating if I should just pull the trigger (no pun intended) & purchase the deluxe soundtrack on iTunes.

Man, oh man, I sure did love all the eye candy that were the costumes & accessories used in the movie (especially the sunglasses & smart dresses with matching coats)! I love fashion from the 1960s, & this movie showcased all the best 60s retro couture & accessories. I often wish I had lived in the 1960s, so that I could walk the streets wearing the colorful, chic clothes of that era.

After all that whiz, pop, pow, & bang, what could possibly be the icing on the cake? How about a slow burning romance between two very hot characters? There’s sexual tension AND chemistry afoot, & it sizzles just beneath the surface between the hardened yet soft (on the inside) KGB agent played by Armie Hammer & the sexy yet strong decoy/bait played by Alicia Vikander. Oh, how I wish the two of them would just get the kissing scene over with & just do it already! I was & still am dying to see the pair steal a sweet kiss. Armie Hammer’s character Illya Kuryakin was one of my favorite characters from the film. This particular character reminded me of my favorite fictional character from one of my all-time favorite books. The character from the book I mentioned was also Russian (from Siberia) & also had a hardened personality that was softened by the touch (& love) of a strong female lead character. Because of that, I strongly gravitated towards Armie Hammer’s character Illya. I also enjoyed Alicia Vikander’s character Gaby Teller. She’s strong, sexy, sweet, funny, cute, innocent, & above all…a classy lady with a killer fashion sense that I wish I had. Sometimes I dream of being like her with a lover of my own just like Illya Kuryakin. Hahaha!

Overall, I truly enjoyed the storyline of this film. I often tend to gravitate towards spy & action movies, & this film fit the bill all around! I loved the acting by all of the actors, the espionage, the car chases, the scenery backdrops, as well as the 1960s setting. It almost makes me wish I were a secret agent myself. Almost. Until then, I shall wait for the DVD to be released, so I can watch this movie again. Cheers!

* All photo credits belong to IMDB and Google Images.

Today’s song of the day:
“Judy In Disguise (With Glasses)” by John Fred & His Playboy Band
Judy2

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