Sunday, July 31, 2011

Love from Courtney

Popcorn Poetry 3: Day Five and Jack's Shack

I might have to make this a more regular feature (which just means I come up with a logo for it, ha ha) because there is a lot of poem-writing going on at Cinemark.  Seriously, I don't know what's wrong with all of us but we seem to enjoy making things rhyme.  Here is a poem Michelle wrote me today:

Day Five
by Michelle Stokes

Roses are red,
Violets are blue,
I'm at work,
And I feel like poo,
But it's not about me,
This poem is for you,
So Happy Day Five,

Aw, isn't that a sweet poem?  About a week ago another coworker of mine named Beka wrote me a poem on the back of a One Day promotional postcard.  I thought it would be fun to share it as well.

Jack's Shack
by Rebekah Barker

Jack's got ma back
He lives in a shack
And makes the girls go smack
He dreams he was black
But he's too cool for that

My favorite part is the "amen" at the end.  Classy.

25 Days of Jack: Day Five

I cannot slice and dice to save my life.

I don't know what it is about knives, but they sort of terrify me.  I can cut into bread or cake just fine, but it when it comes to vegetables or fruit or anything used in cooking, I'm pretty pathetic.  Brian can chop, mince, julienne, chiffonade, or spatchcock with the greatest of ease and speed.  I however move at a snail's pace carefully avoiding my fingers to cut something into giant, uneven cubes. The other day he asked me to peel some apples for a pie he was working on.  An hour later I had managed to peel half an apple so he took over and assigned me a new task.

This happens quite often.

The task I'm best at when I'm trying to help Brian in the kitchen is cleaning up after him.  This works out really well actually because it's the thing Brian is worst at.  When Brian has finished cooking, there is usually a messy countertop strewn with dirty cookware and utensils with even more dishes piled high in the sink.  His mom usually has a cow over this and comes down into our lair shouting his name like a wounded banshee...


So in order to keep Mama Kesler happy, it's just better if I clean alongside Brian.  That way when our meal is prepared and ready to eat, the only thing dirty is whatever the food is in!

I tell you all this because that's about the only thing we did yesterday to celebrate 25 Days of Jack.  Other than making some pasta (with a velouté sauce, peas, corn and shrimp) we just lounged around in our pajamas watching a lengthy movie called Reds—which stars Warren Beatty and Diane Keaton and is really good if you haven’t seen it.  Beatty won the Oscar for his directing and the film was nominated for Best Picture in 1982.

The rest of the night was spent at work, which was thankfully busy and flew right by!

As far as giving out buttons goes, nobody answered yesterday's question.  However, I discovered late last night that Jennifer from Colorado had left me a joke in my inbox (rather than in the comments section) that I hadn't noticed before.  So I've decided to reward her with a Joaquin the Chihuahua button!  Here was the joke she sent:
A husband and wife are laying in bed on a Sunday morning.  The wife asks her husband to go to church with her.  The husband says, "No, I don't want to go to church."  She says, "Give me two reasons why you won't go to church with me."  He says, "Number 1, I don't like them.  Number 2, they don't like me."  And then he asks his wife to give him two good reasons he should go to church.  She says, "Number 1, I want you to.  Number 2, you're the preacher." 
Hee hee!  That's cute, right?  

Today's button will go out to the first person to call and sing "Happy Birthday" on my voicemail.  Unfortunately, only those who know my cell phone number can participate this time, but, oh well.  There are still 20 more days to go!

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Day Four Shout-Out from Michelle

25 Days of Jack: Day Four

Did you know that the average American eats 23 pounds of pizza each year?  Or that on any given day 100 acres or so of pizza is being consumed in our country?  That's a lot of pizza!  So it should be no surprise that two of my 25 Days of Jack have now been celebrated with pizza.

Yesterday, however, my birthday craziness was not to blame.

Did you know that here in the U.S. over 10,000 people are born each day?  So with so many people being born all the time (and especially at this time of year) my 25 Days of Jack were bound to overlap other people's birthdays.  I mean, on a nearly daily basis Facebook is reminding me that some friend of mine is celebrating a birthday.  Sometimes several.

Day Three was no different.  Happy (belated) birthday to Pene Lolohea and Katie Scalf!  Katie invited Michelle and I to her birthday party, so we went last night and ate lots and lots of pizza, stuffed our faces with birthday cake and watched a movie with all of her roommates and friends.  It was fun!  We didn't stay long, however, because Michelle and I wanted to visit our friend Wes who was sick.

So my third Jack Day was spent acknowledging other people.  Part of it was a Katie Day.  Part of it was a Wes Day.  It was fun.

I'm not so sure what Day Four will bring...  maybe I can wake Brian up and get him to do something fun!

Oh!  I almost forgot prizes!  Okay, so yesterday's Joaquin the Chihuahua button was won by Mary from Washington!  Here is her winning joke:
Why did the girl fall out of the swing?

Because she had no arms!
Ha ha ha!  It's funny because it's mean!

Another button will go out to the first person to email ( me the correct answer to this question:  What are the names of all three of Brian's sisters?

Friday, July 29, 2011

Movie Reviews: Crazy Captain Pooh with Benefits

Winnie the Pooh, image property of Disney.
Friends with Benefits, image property of Screen Gems.
Captain America: The First Avenger, image property of Paramount and Marvel.
Crazy, Stupid, Love, image property of Warner Brothers.

Sometimes I see a lot more movies than I have time to write about!  It’s a problem I’m sure many of you are familiar with.  Or not.  I read somewhere that the average person only goes to a movie theater three times a year.  That’s so little!  I’ve seen three this week alone!  Did you know that including the four I’m about to review now, I’ve seen forty movies this year?

Winnie the Pooh ADMIRABLE

There’s something about simplicity that can be so magical.  Based on the A.A. Milne books, Disney’s Winnie the Pooh is as charming and uncluttered as you can get.  The storyline is fairly shallow on plot, but it’s brimming with happiness—even if Eeyore is characteristically glum.  Pooh is hungry, Piglet is scared, Tigger is energetic, Owl is full of himself and Rabbit is as bossy as ever.  The story loosely revolves around Eeyore’s lost tail and a creature called a “Backson” that may or may not have captured Christopher Robin.  I particularly enjoyed a segment of animation done in a chalkboard style and the music which features actress/singer Zooey Deschanel.

Friends with Benefits AWESOME!

I was incredibly surprised by how much I enjoyed this movie!  Mila Kunis plays Jamie, a headhunter from New York City who convinces Dylan (Justin Timberlake) to leave the website he works for and take an art director job for GQ Magazine.  The two become friends and swear that they can have sex together without it becoming complicated.  This leads to some sexy, funny love scenes between the two, and if you were not in love with Justin Timberlake before, you will be after.  SO HOT!  The movie playfully makes fun of all the rom-com clichés while following the formulaic rules anyway.  However, it does it with some really funny dialogue and a chemistry between the two leads that cannot be denied.

Captain America: The First Avenger ADMIRABLE

In many ways Marvel’s Captain America is the best superhero movie to come out this year.  Chris Evans plays our hero, Steve Rogers, who begins as a short, scrawny kid from Brooklyn.  He wants nothing more than to join the army, but he can’t.  He meets Dr. Erskine (Stanley Tucci) who gets him into the army where he meets Colonel Chester Phillips (Tommy Lee Jones) and Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell) who quickly becomes the pin-up girl of his dreams.  Dr. Erskine recognizes Steve’s courage, and with the power of science turns him into the tall and hunky Captain America!  Hugo Weaving plays the villain Red Skull, who is unfortunately more goofy-looking than menacing.  I enjoyed this movie for its 1940’s nostalgia and action, but only wish there was more to Peggy and Steve’s relationship.

Crazy, Stupid, Love. AWESOME!

I have a feeling that a lot of people won’t like this movie as much as I did, but I loved it.  It wasn’t quite the comedy that the trailers made it out to be, but for me, the movie had a lot of heart and feeling and wasn’t afraid to explore all the messiness of love—even unconventional love like the kind a teenage girl secretly harbors for the father of the kids she babysits.  It covers a lot of ground while staying quirky, screwball, and optimistically hopeful that soul mates exist and that love is worth fighting for.  Steve Carell stars as Cal, who’s wife (Julianne Moore) announces she’s slept with someone and she wants a divorce.  Rejected and depressed, he goes to a trendy bar where he meets the ladies’ man Jacob (Ryan Gosling) who shows him a few tricks of the trade… that is until he meets Hannah (Emma Stone) who is a “game changer.”  Carell, Gosling, Moore and Stone deliver some remarkable performances and Marissa Tomei is always a delight to see onscreen, even in her small role here.

Love movies?  Check out my Movie Page!

25 Days of Jack: Day Three

I think the first time I ever went to the Olive Garden was when I was fourteen years old.  I could be wrong, of course, seeing as the human memory is not an infallible thing.  Especially mine.  I was just there yesterday and I can't even remember what it was I ordered.  Carbonara something... no, Ravioli Chicken something...  maybe a taco?  Who knows.  I did eat a lot of breadsticks, got good and fat, and enjoyed the conversation with Michelle.

I paid seventeen dollars including the tip.  That I remember.

But yes, I think I was fourteen because that was how old you had to be to go to Church dances.  Every year we would drive a couple of hours in the Mayhoffers' Suburban to Colorado Springs, Colorado (from our tiny ward in La Junta) and go to a tri-stake youth activity called The Best of Especially for Youth.  It was what the Mormons refer to as a "devotional", and if you aren't or have never been LDS this is probably a lot of confusing gobbledygook.  I apologize.  Just know that all the teens would get together, listen to motivational speakers, and then afterwards we would have a big dance!

It really was a lot of fun.  But the best part was going to Olive Garden.  My family didn't go out to eat much, let alone a "fancy" place like Olive Garden.  But the Mayhoffer family, who tended to be our chaperones to a lot of these events, were quite fond of the place so it soon became a tradition.  We would always eat at Olive Garden between the devotional and the dance.  I ordered a lot of Fettuccine Alfredo back then.  Now I order things like the Chicken Ravioli Taco Something with a side of Guacamole.  I think.  Gosh, what in the world did I order?

It was freaking delicious whatever it was.

Moving on, yesterday's button went out to a coworker and friend named Wes.  This is my 36th move!  Yikes!  Today's opportunity to win a 1-inch Joaquin the Chihuahua button is by posting a funny joke in the comments below.  If it makes me laugh, you will win!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

25 Days of Jack: Day Two

So yesterday was the first day of my 25-day-long celebration, and it was a fun day!  Of course I still had to go to work.  I'm not exactly rich or stupid enough to take nearly a month's vacation from the movie theater.  So I will have to be doing normal daily routine things amidst the birthday fun.

I did, however, wake up to that really nice email from my friend Michelle, then Brian and I ordered Dominos Pizza for lunch while watching a movie, and then after work Brian and I played Monopoly!

In case you were deprived of a childhood and have never played the game, Monopoly takes a really long time to play.  We played for a couple hours late last night and had to put the game on pause.  I'm winning though, which isn't normal for me.  I usually lose and spend the whole game complaining that all I ever do is give Brian my money.  This time it was Brian's turn to be the complainer.  And boy, is he a crybaby!  I felt so bad for him that I pretended to see a spider in the corner just to distract him and sneak him some extra money...

Today I'm offering another chance to win a 1-inch Joaquin the Chihuahua button.  Yesterday's went to a former classmate named Scarlett who lives in Washington!  And the answer was blue, by the way.

So the trivia question is this:  How many times have I moved?  (Hint:  Read the updated "Traveling Gypsy" post.)

Be the first to send it to my email,, to win!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

25 Days of Jack: Day One

My friend Michelle was talking about how much she loves her birthday and how she likes to celebrate it the whole month long.  I thought that sounded like a lot of fun!  Together we came to the conclusion that my birthday should also be celebrated with such fanfare.  I mean, it's not every day that a person turns a quarter of a century, now is it?

My birthday is on August 20th, which is 25 days from now!  That means today is Day One of a 25-day celebration of my 25th birthday!

This morning I got an email from Michelle saying:

Ok so I really like this 25 days of birthday fun, even though we might not do something together every day.  So it might be an email, a text, a little present or an activity but I'm doing something each day!
The rest of her email got a little cheesy...  too cheesy to post on this blog actually.  I have a cheese limit.

The point is, I will try to do something extremely exciting and equally egotistical every day leading up to the anniversary of my birth!  Doesn't that sound fun??  And in order to make it less about me (although it really is all about me) I thought I'd give you guys presents too!

How?  Well, I'll ask a question every day and the first one to get me a correct answer will win something!

Today's question is:  What is my favorite color?  (Hint:  It's on this blog.)

Email me the correct answer at and you will win a Joaquin the Chihuahua button!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Camp Rock

While I was in the Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah many moons ago, I met a kid named Jason Langlois who is simply electrifying.  He's fun and he's loud and he's wild and he's quirky and he's comical... and he's talented.  Just a few days ago I had the opportunity of seeing him perform in a local production of Disney's Camp Rock: The Musical and his talent was made even more apparent.

My fabulous friend Jason played a supporting character named Sander Loya who, along with some other break-dancing boys, was the source of much comic relief.  Jason did a fantastic job.  When I had asked him previously what part he was playing, he cheekily replied, "The best part!"  Upon seeing the show, I would have to agree!  He was so full of energy and always spot on with those dance routines.  I was impressed to say the least.  I never knew the skinny guy had it in him!

The show was put on by the SCERA Center for the Arts here in Orem, Utah.  Here are some of my thoughts on this particular production of Camp Rock:
  • Disney is able to produce some of the cheesiest yet ultra-addicting pop music known to man.  You can try not to like it, but you will fail.
  • Pulling songs from two Disney Channel movies (Camp Rock and Camp Rock 2: The Final Jam) and then shoving it into one stage show results in a musical that is heavy on the music and light on the plot.  They would say a sentence or two and then sing another song.  Sometimes songs were just back to back.  Sometimes you didn't even know why they were singing the song at all...
  • Mitchie's big finale from the first movie, "This is Me", is sung right at the beginning of the stage version.  It has no emotional weight here, which is unfortunate.
  • It was performed on an outdoor stage, meaning lots of mosquitoes to suck you dry.
  • Being outdoors, you don't appreciate the full beauty of the set until the second act when it's dark enough to notice the lighting.  Their backdrop was really cool looking!
  • Orem, Utah seems to be a bit short on talent these days.  When casting Shane Gray and his pop star brothers (originally played by The Jonas Brothers), the casting director here decided on choosing the weirdest looking kids he could find.  One of them looked as if he belonged with the vultures from Disney's The Jungle Book.  Beetles hair cut, long neck... you get my drift.  The lead "heart throb" Shane Gray was played by a balding kid who looked like he was in his mid to late forties.  Of course looks aren't everything, but unfortunately his voice proved inadequate in many of his big numbers.  When he and the girl who played Mitchie sang "Wouldn't Change a Thing" I literally cringed.  It was like nails on a chalkboard.  People in Utah need to know that belting is not equivalent to screaming.
  • Camp Rock can be really fun with a good friend!  Thanks for coming with me, Michelle!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

I Want to be a Writer

"A writer? What do you have to write about? You're not oppressed. You're not gay."

That's what Shaun Brumder's dad says to him when he announces his desire to be a writer in the movie Orange County.  Luckily for me, I am oppressed and I am gay.  Not that I necessarily want to write about my gay oppression, but I have decided recently (or has it been always?) that I would like to be a writer.  Words seem to have become more beautiful and expressive to me.  I'm still an artist... but letters are my paint and blank pages are my canvas.

I'm currently working on a novel, A Tent in Summer, which seems to be evolving into something quite different than the original premise.  "Books write themselves," Brian always says to me.  In a way they do.  My life seems to do the same.  It blossoms, it unfurls, it unravels, it metamorphizes, it transcends beyond me and through me and with me and without me and sometimes I just hang on for the ride not knowing where it might lead me.

I decide things on a whim oftentimes.  And sometimes my whims are fruitful and sometimes they are as barren as a desert.  But regardless the outcome, my whims are my own.  And I don't regret a single turn, for better or worse, that my life has taken.  Every detour and off-ramp and roundabout and sideshow attraction has entertained me, scared me, uplifted me, shaped me, molded me into who I am. 

Small dusty towns, Temple Square, farmland, tall buildings and seedy motel rooms in Los Angeles.  The Book of Mormon, The Bible, Harry Potter, Lewis Carroll, Charles Dickens and Ray Bradbury.  Proselytizing on Chilean soil, performing in community theater, Spanish lessons, art classes, animation, drama club, choir and Intro to Film.  Otero Junior College, Brigham Young University, elementary, high school, Seminary, diplomas and awards.  Soaps and lotions, suit coats and mannequins, hot dogs and popcorn.  Paycheck to paycheck.  Trips to San Francisco or Disney World or The Grand Ole Opry.  Girlfriends, boyfriends, crushes, friends, enemies, family, love and divorce.  Nights under the stars and days under the sun.  Indoors and outdoors.  Laughing and crying.  Breathing in and breathing out.  Stepping forward and stepping back.  Falling down then getting up.

Today I applied to Utah Valley University here in Orem, Utah.  Thirty-five dollars for the application fee; fifteen minutes of my time.  Major?  English with an emphasis in Creative Writing.  Perhaps I'll be a successful author.  Or perhaps I'll become an English teacher.  Or perhaps I'll change my mind later.  I guess I'll never know.  I just trust that my life is heading somewhere, if not anywhere I've expected.

Movie Review: The Bosses May be Horrible... But it Sure is Funny!

Horrible Bosses movie poster, image property of Warner Bros.
Horrible Bosses ADMIRABLE

With the exception of Bridesmaids—which I have seen three times because I love it so much—I have been disappointed with comedies this year.  Hangover II and Bad Teacher were really quite forgettable, each causing me to laugh more in the 3-minute trailer than I ever did in the 2-hour movie.  But Horrible Bosses surprised me because it was a comedy that was, well, funny.

Yes.  It’s funny.  Crazy, huh?

Jason Bateman stars as Nick Hendriks who is working overtime as a middle manager hoping for a big promotion.  His psycho boss Dave Harken (Kevin Spacey) dangles the job in front of him making him jump through bizarre hoops and essentially tormenting him unceasingly, only to screw him in the end.  Nick is so angry that he wants to kill the guy.  Metaphorically speaking, that is.  Or is it?

His best friends, Dale Arbus (Charlie Day) and Kurt Buckman (Jason Sudeikis), also hate their bosses.  Dale works as a dental assistant to a dentist named Dr. Julia Harris (Jennifer Aniston) who is a sexual deviant.  She is blackmailing him to have sex with her, and does everything in her power to make him feel uncomfortable.   She could care less that he’s engaged.   Then there is Kurt, who works at a chemical manufacturing company and whose terrific boss has just died.  Now the former boss’s crazy tool of a son, Bobby Pellitt (Colin Farrell) is in charge of the company, having wild parties in his office, doing drugs, and running the company into the ground.

One night they decide to kill their bosses and find an ex-con named MF Jones (Jamie Foxx) to do it for them.  He takes their money but doesn’t do the dirty work.  Instead he convinces them to do it Strangers on a Train-style, each one killing the other’s boss and not his own.

I mean, I wouldn’t mind seeing my boss deader than a doornail… but I know I could never actually commit murder.  Could you?  And I bet you are wondering if Nick, Dale and Kurt do.  But you’ll just have to watch it to find out.

What really made this movie work were the quick pacing, clever writing, and terrific casting.  Really, the stars of this movie knew how to milk each line or each situation for all it was worth.  Jennifer Aniston hasn’t been this funny in a long time, and I was really blown away by just how perverted she could be.  Kevin Spacey is a brilliant actor, of course, and in this movie you want nothing more than to gouge his eyes out with a spoon!  And our three frazzled employees are each separately funny, but even better when together.  They have a really great comedic chemistry, and had me laughing gleefully all throughout the movie.

I mean, what could be funnier than attempted murder?

Love movies?  Check out my Movie Page!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

As If We Never Parted

Friendships are very interesting things to me.  Sometimes I'm amazed how human beings interact with one another, remember one another, and how we can even go years at a time without seeing a person and still feel like we are somehow connected.

Like a child with a roomful of toys.  He loves them all, but he plays with them in rotation.  Maybe he'll be obsessed with his toy soldiers for a good solid week, devoting all his time and attention to them.  Then he'll suddenly have a day where all he wants to do is color or play with Play-Doh.  Then it will be the dinosaurs for a month, or the stuffed bear at nights, or his Legos for a weekend.  And when he suddenly has the urge to play with the toy soldiers again, their story picks up right where he left it.  Nothing has changed.  They are still familiar to him.

Last Thursday Brian and I were heading to Salt Lake City for a 1am showing of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 and decided to make the most of the trip.  We tried our best to see as many friendly faces as we could.

Our first stop was in South Jordan where I was able to catch up with two sisters who belonged to my home ward in La Junta, Colorado many years ago.  One sister is named Becky, who was just a few years older than me and who would often babysit my younger brother and sister and I.  She was always so much fun!  When my mother was single after her divorce with my father, she began to work for Becky's father, who was a doctor with a small family practice office.  Dr. Cummings and his wife sort of became our surrogate grandparents, and I would even walk to their house after school until my mom was off work.  They were a great support to my mother and a big part of our lives for many years.

Becky's sister Mary is ten years older than me, so I didn't interact with her too much when I was younger.  After she graduated high school she moved out and went to college, so the last time she had actually seen me in the flesh was when I was like 8 or 9 or 10 or so.  Pretty young.  However, in recent years, through the magic of Facebook, Mary and I have become good friends.  We have had many interesting conversations online, and I consider her to be a very wise and honest confidante.

Mary lives in Washington, but was visiting an old mission companion in South Jordan, Utah.  It's right on our way to Salt Lake City!  I couldn't pass up the opportunity to see her and introduce her to Brian, so we decided to get together.  Turns out Becky lives in Utah as well, so she came down to South Jordan also.  She was able to see her sister and she was able to see me!  So there we all were, in a house that belonged to none of us, gabbing away for hours.  It was so great to see them, and honestly, it felt so easy and natural to talk with them again.

As if we had never parted.

From South Jordan we continued on to Salt Lake City.  At 10:30pm we met up with a ragtag group of friends at the downtown Denny's.  I was calling this the Pre-Potter Pancake Party, even though I don't think anyone actually got pancakes.  I was able to see a lot of my old coworkers from Banana Republic like Ryan, Neil, Gina, Dan, Angie and Caitlin.  They all knew each other of course, but then I went ahead and invited Bath and Body Works friends as well.  Wendy, Rebecca and Mesun came and it was so very good to see them.  With the exception of Wendy, I hadn't seen any of these people since December.  I was very glad to be able to eat with them all, laugh with them all, and even play Harry Potter Scene It with them all on Dan's iPad.  It was so much fun!

And once again, it seemed like we had never parted.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Popcorn Poetry 2: Kazoozles

Today one of my managers wrote some cool little poems about various foods from Cinemark.  I followed her example and wrote one of my own.  It's inspired by the Wonka candy Kazoozles which my friend Michelle and I tried for the first time the other night.  We weren't so impressed with them...

a poem by Jack Garcia

Listen, Kazoozles
I feel so bamboozled
Hate to say it, but I'm really mad
You charge a high price
Which isn't so nice

And the truth is, you taste so bad!

Your outside is sticky
Your inside is icky
All sour with the texture of toothpaste
I feel sick to my tummy
Oh, why weren't you yummy!?
All my money has just gone to waste!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Why Jennifer Loves Harry Potter:

Wizard Week Movie Review: End of an Era

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 movie poster, image property of Warner Bros.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 AWESOME!

Sometime towards the end of 1999 I found myself looking at books that were being sold at the Book Fair in the school library.  I was 13 years old and in eighth grade.  For my first hour class I would go and help out in a second grade classroom at the nearby elementary school.  We had taken the kids to look at the books, and that’s when I spotted J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone for the first time.  I bought it.  I read it.  I loved it.

To this day I’m not really sure what made me buy it in the first place.  It wasn’t exactly my proper reading level.  And where did I get the money?  I guess I’ll never know.  But for some reason I did, and I’ve been a huge Harry Potter fan ever since.  I loved the blending of fantasy with reality.  I loved the quirky characters, strange locales, and the mystery of it all.  I loved the surprise twist at the end of every book!  I was sure Snape was the bad guy, I never dreamed that Ginny would have opened the Chamber of Secrets, and who wasn’t thoroughly convinced Sirius was a murderer?

For the past ten years we’ve been treated to a new Harry Potter film almost annually.  Ten years is a long time.  When the movie Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone first came out in November of 2001, I was fifteen years old.  I was a sophomore in high school.  I saw Prisoner of Azkaban the summer after I graduated, the fourth and fifth installments were released while I was on a mission in Chile, and just last night I found myself in my mid-twenties—with a job and a fiancé—watching the final half of the final film.   I marvel at just how much of my lifespan has been experienced with Harry by my side.

But after the much-anticipated movie Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 was over and the credits were rolling, I was left with a very odd feeling.  Why wasn’t I beaming with sheer joy??  Why wasn’t I screaming my excitement from the rooftops??  I have been obsessing over the movie for a full week on this blog, and yet there I was, riding home from the theater in Salt Lake City, filled with such a melancholy that I feared that perhaps I hated the movie. 

But in reality it was a very good movie.  I just wanted more somehow.

The movie was over all too quickly, partly because it was the shortest Potter film yet (only 130 minutes) and partly because it had a very quick pace.  It also didn’t feel like a complete movie, which I had to remind myself was because it isn’t a complete movie.  Part 2 is the exciting climax that Part 1 was leading up to.  I feel like if I had seen both parts all together, as one cohesive story, I would have left the theater feeling more fulfilled.

However, looking back on it, I feel like the movie got a lot of things right.  The Battle of Hogwarts was done very well, with spells both beautiful and terrifying.  People were dying, heroes were made, and the stakes definitely felt at their highest.  While war was raging all around them, the trio had to find and destroy the last of the horcruxes.  Then Harry ultimately had to confront his fate.

Daniel Radcliffe was on the top of his game as far as acting is concerned.  I thought Harry’s decision to die was handled very well, as was the otherworldly scene in King’s Cross.  The only thing that bothered me a little was his final battle with Voldemort.  I just felt like it was a bit anticlimactic.  Some details were changed from the book, but I’m not necessarily mad at that.  I just don’t understand how simply disarming Voldemort caused him to crumble away like he did.

Alan Rickman’s performance as Snape was hands down the best he’s ever done.  Snape’s death was tragic to see, and I really thought there was a good connection between him and Harry during those final moments of life.  Even before seeing the memories in the Pensieve, I felt like Snape and Harry came to an understanding.  The flashbacks that showed us the full complexity of Snape—his love for Harry’s mother and his true allegiance to Dumbledore—were very moving and in my opinion, artfully done.  Seeing Snape weep over Lily’s dead body was one of the saddest things I have seen onscreen in a long time.

The score by Alexandre Desplat was very good, and I was grateful that he used so much of John Williams’ original score.  Since this movie was like the final bow for all of the characters we’ve come to love, it was very nostalgic to hear bits of “Hedwig’s Theme” and even “Harry’s Theme” which we haven’t heard in a Potter film for many, many years. 

I also thoroughly enjoyed the epilogue, where we were able to see that peace and order has been restored to the wizarding world.  The now grown-up Harry giving words of comfort to his own son was lovely, and I was impressed with the makeup and costuming.  They really did look nineteen years older.

Now, back to the odd numbness I felt after Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 ended:  It wasn’t about the movie necessarily.  The movie was everything it could have been and more.  I guess I just expected the end of an era to feel more earth-shattering or life-altering or important.  But in the end, it was just me sitting in a dark movie theater.  It was just the close of a book.

Love movies?  Check out my Movie Page!

Wizard Week: Contest Winner!

Thanks to everyone who participated in my Harry Potter Contest!  I hope it was fun playing the little game, because it sure was fun putting it together.  Sixteen of you guessed the mystery word correctly and were entered into the random drawing.  And the winner is...

Wizard Week Chihuahua Comics: Harry Dearest

He's serious, you guys.  He's going to Avada Kedavra your butt if you keep using those wire hangers!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Wizard Week: The Prophecy

In the fifth book (and movie) we discovered that Professor Trelawney had once made a very important prophecy.  That prophecy led Voldemort to kill the Potters, attempting to kill the young Harry.  The prophecy led to the lightning bolt scar, marking Harry as Voldemort's equal... The Chosen One.

Why Joaquin Loves Harry Potter:

Wizard Week: Reviews for 'Deathly Hallows Part 2'

Daniel Radcliffe says, “[Deathly Hallows Part 2] is pretty spectacular.  I mean, I really don’t think anyone is going to be disappointed.  I think the action is all fantastic… Lots to look forward to!”   

Emma Watson seems to agree, enthusiastically saying, “Bloody hell!  It was so much more than I could have ever anticipated it to be.  It’s a remarkable film, and I’m like the most critical person ever!  It exceeded all my expectations.  Epic… it’s like epic times four!”

And movie critics can’t find anything negative to say either!

“My, how the children have grown—and the movies too.” –Manohla Dargis, The New York Times

“It has been extraordinarily fun, and now the decade-long saga has reached its grand finale. The best has been saved for the last.” –Claudia Puig, USA Today

Well done, Harry! You've saved the best for last.” –Amy Biancolli, Houston Chronicle

“It's virtually non-stop action, though director David Yates, who has taken good care of these final four, ever-meaner Potter adventures, does a very crafty thing, following adapter Steve Kloves' screenplay.” –Michael Philips, Chicago Tribune.

“This movie is impressively staged, the dialogue is given proper weight and not hurried through, there are surprises which, in hindsight, seem fair enough, and "Harry Potter" now possesses an end that befits the most profitable series in movie history.” –Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times

“Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 puts a triumphant capper on a decade of Pottermania.” –Peter Travers, Rolling Stone

“A fitting, expertly made final chapter, freighted with hard-won emotions, shot through with a sense of farewell, and fully aware of the epic stakes involved.” –Ty Burr, Boston Globe

“Part 2 is a magnificent finale for this fantasy opus, one that pays ample justice to Harry's long-in-the-making showdown with He Who Must Not Be Named, a battle in which life and death, the past and the future, precariously hang in the balance.” –Nick Schager, Village Voice

It's wonderful. Epic and heartbreaking and just as grand as it needs to be.” –Elizabeth Weitzman, New York Daily News

“Everything a summer blockbuster should be but rarely is - a whip-smart, slam-bang piece of entertainment where we deeply care about the fate of the central characters (and many subsidiary ones who return for their last bows).” –Lou Lumenick, New York Post

“In the end the thing works like, well, magic...” –Glenn Kenny, MSN Movies

“The thrilling conclusion to a phenomenal cinematic story 10 years in the telling, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 2 is proof that authentic movie excitement is its own form of magic.” –Lisa Schwarzbaum, Entertainment Weekly

“While 'Deathly Hallows: Part 2' offers long-promised answers, it also dares to pose some eternal questions, and it'll stay with you after the final chapter has closed.” –Christy Lemire, Associated Press

“HPATDH 2 works like a charm.” –David Edelstein, New York Magazine

“An outstanding capper to the most lucrative film franchise of all time.” –Todd McCarthy, Hollywood Reporter

Why Sydney Loves Harry Potter:

Wizard Week: My Favorite 'Harry Potter' Movie

Not long ago I ranked all of the Pixar movies in order from my least favorite to my most favorite.  With the last Harry Potter movie opening tomorrow (or tonight at midnight rather) I decided to do the same with all of them.  Are you curious to know which is my favorite?  Well, you should be!

7  Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
I love all of the Harry Potter movies, but this one has to be my least favorite.  I feel like the filmmakers struggled condensing all of the events into a comprehensive movie.  It jumps quickly from one task to another, leaving a few loose ends unattended.  And those boys need to cut their hair!
6  Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
This one has a lot of the same problems as Goblet of Fire, but manages to handle things a little bit better.  Seeing them form Dumbledore's Army is a lot of fun and who doesn't love to hate Professor Umbridge?  She's so evil!
5  Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
Chamber of Secrets is a pretty cool movie, I must say.  It has a great score, a fun mystery to solve, scary basilisks, flying cars and giant spiders!  Harry, Ron and Hermione are a tad bit older now and starting to feel comfortable in their roles and Professor Lockhart is gleefully fun to watch.
4  Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
This movie may sport some of the worst special effects of the series, but Sorcerer's Stone still remains so endearing and magical.  This was the movie where we were first introduced to the wizarding world and it was so much fun discovering it alongside Harry.  Director Chris Columbus laid the groundwork for a fantastic franchise and the score by John Williams is superb. 
3  Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
I feel like this movie was either love it or hate it amongst fans, but I happen to love it.  I was surprised at how funny Half-Blood Prince was with all of its romantic subplots.  There was also plenty of drama especially involving Malfoy's character.  Tom Felton really did a fantastic job.  On the technical side I was very impressed with the lighting and composition of this movie.  There was a really beautiful play with light and shadow.
2  Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1
What I loved about this movie was the raw emotion of the characters, the beautiful cinematography, and the slower pace.  Although skeptical at first of the decision to split Deathly Hallows into two films, I now see that it was a good idea.  I feel like there was a closer attention to detail in this movie because of it.  I liked the somber mood and I felt they all really gave fantastically mature performances.
1  Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Since its initial release Prisoner of Azkaban has been my very favorite and it hasn't changed over all these years.  I thought director Alfonso Cuarón brought such a new look and feel to the series; it was edgier yet more whimsical all at the same time.  Part of what makes the aesthetic so great is that he didn't rely one hundred percent on CGI images for the special effects.  The blowing-up of Aunt Marge and the transformation of Professor Lupin are both perfect examples of this.  I also really love the use of visual foreshadowing, such as the swinging pendulum to hint at the time travel at the end or the shots of the Whomping Willow that not only mark each season but play up the tree's importance later on.  So good!  As far as artistic filmmaking is concerned, Prisoner of Azkaban simply trumps the rest.

I wonder where Deathly Hallows Part 2 will rank... I guess I'll find out soon enough!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Why Brian Loves Harry Potter:

Wizard Week: Silly Song Spoofs

It seems I'm not the only one excited for the new Harry Potter movie.  I can't log in to Facebook anymore without seeing that so-and-so posted a Harry Potter this... or what's-his-face commented on a Harry Potter that...  The obsession seems to have bitten us all!

A lot of the fun videos my friends are sharing are spoofs on popular songs.  My friend Trevor and my cousin Tyisa both told me about this music video by Brigham Young University's Divine Comedy.  It's called "Firebolt" and it's based on the Katy Perry song, "Firework."

Another video I've come across was mentioned by sisters Mikell and Madison.  It's based on the song "Friday" by Rebecca Black, and it's really pretty hilarious.  It's done by The Hillywood Show.

And just yesterday I saw two of my friends, Wes and Jason, had both posted this fun version of the song "Hello" from the Broadway musical, The Book of Mormon.  I watched this one from my phone on break, and it was definitely the highlight of my 14-hour workday!

Ha ha!  I love that Harry Potter is wearing a blue bow tie like Daniel Radcliffe wears in How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.  He also lovingly caresses a stuffed horse and then stabs it to death just like Daniel Radcliffe's role in Equus.  And Hermione disappears and then reappears with short hair just like the real-life Emma Watson.

I hope these silly song spoofs made your day!

Why Kayla Loves Harry Potter:

Wizard Week: Composer Alexandre Desplat Talks 'Deathly Hallows Part 2'

Recently one of my favorite Harry Potter fan sites, Mugglenet, shared an interview with Alexandre Desplat who was the composer for Deathly Hallows Part 1 and is continuing to do so for Deathly Hallows Part 2.  I’m glad he’s finishing the second half, because I thought his score was fantastic the first time around.  When asked what he thought about Part 1’s score, he said, “It was great. I think the essence of what it portrayed—the sense of loneliness and a loss of childhood—were very strong, and I think it was a great first part.”

For this next movie, he says that he will be using snippets of scores from previous Potter films as well, especially the iconic “Hedwig’s Theme” composed by John Williams in Sorcerer’s Stone.  “Now we're back in Hogwarts where the battle takes place, and all the friends are there so it made sense to have [“Hedwig’s Theme”] there.  Also, at the end of the film when we say goodbye to these three kids who are becoming adults and are looking towards a new life, the John William's theme is present.  It's one of the most wonderful themes ever written for films, so it's a delight to work with it.”

Agreed!  John Williams is a brilliant composer!  His work for the first three films was quite genius in my opinion.  But Desplat didn’t just reuse Williams’ music.  He composed quite a lot of it on his own.  His favorite piece of music for Deathly Hallows Part 2 is entitled “Lily’s Theme”—which is of course, named after Harry’s mother.  Desplat said, “Yes, I think Lily's theme, which opens the film, might be the one I like the most because it has the kindness and mysteriousness that we need to feel when the movie starts even though everything isn't explained yet about how Lily influenced Harry and other characters' destinies in the film, so it’s the theme that I think I like the most and cherish a lot.”  

So what’s the theme like?  “I think the goal was to find something as gentle, as sweet, and as kind as a lullaby with a guilty touch to it. It's a very simple melody that anyone can hum, child or adult, and we found this incredible singer, Mai, who has a very pure voice, almost like liquid gold. So it will haunt the film and Harry all along the last episode.”

He continues, “Death is very present in the Harry Potter story from the beginning because it starts with an orphan who lost his parents, and, actually, the theme of death is very present in this episode, since Lily, Harry's mother, is the lead character of this episode.  We start the film with hearing Lily's theme, which will kind of ghost the film all along and be the music thread that will take us from the beginning to the end of the film.  So that's one element of death, the people that you miss, the people that you long for, the sorrow, and the question about death and the resurrection stone and how you cope with the death of the people you love.  That's very present in the themes that are used and you see it when you see the film and hear the soundtrack that I've tried to be very sensitive and emotional on these matters.”

The soundtrack to Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 is now on sale wherever music is sold.  Currently, Amazon is selling the MP3 download for just $6.99!


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