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Saw this movie last night with Sam.  It sounded vaguely interesting so we thought we'd give it a shot.  For the first couple of minutes or so (okay, maybe few minutes) I was scared it was going to suck.  It looked a bit Blair Witch-y in that it's shot as a documentary (it's not an actual documentary of course).  As the movie went on though it picked up momentum and actually became VERY entertaining and interesting.  It's slow goings for the first few minutes as they establish the sort of back story as to why these kids filming are filming, but it picks up steam and doesn't let up until the movie's over.

Anyway, as you might expect from the title, the movie is about a troll hunter.  The overall idea of the movie is that the Norwegian government is covering up the existence of trolls.  They've hired one guy to keep them within their territories and not harm people or livestock.  The way the movie is set up is that the kids (from a local college) are filming a documentary about animal poaching and come across this hunter who lets them film his work because he's not happy with his pay and benefits. 

The creature effects are AMAZING!  The trolls don't look ridiculous, in fact they look very accurate to historical accounts in art and folktales.  They're not over-the-top and in fact blend in very well with the environment (gorgeous Norwegian scenery). 

What I found most interesting were all the little tidbits of information they dropped throughout the film.  I'm very interested in mythology and I loved all the detail they put into making the movie.  More than that they purposefully omitted certain details from folklore, explaining that "fairytales are for kids" in an effort to make it more believable.  There are really trolls out there, they're just not exactly like the stories say.  I'm really glad that this movie came out of Norway because I feel like no other nationality could have done a movie about their mythology better (though I understand there are rumbles of a US remake *shudder*).  Besides that it lends more credence to the film.  Folklore passed on to us by the people who grew up with it.  That's one of the things that made this such a great movie for me personally. 

Besides that it's also pretty funny.  Though I've never heard of them, many actors in the film are comedians in Norway.  They don't come off as goofy or over-the-top in the film, but you can feel the humor.  All the jokes are delivered dead-pan and generally play into the overall storyline which is believably absurd.  I guess what I mean by that is that it's just realistic enough to be believable ("this COULD happen, but probably doesn't...") and that that adds to the humor.  I would highly recommend this movie to anyone.  There are subtitles, but it's well worth it.  Not that subtitles usually turn me off anyway, but if it's not something most folks care to expose themselves to (reading, with a movie!?) make an exception for this one.  Don't wait until they make an English version, it won't be able to compare.
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So lately we've been watching another BBC program on Netflix.  It's called Rosemary and Thyme and is about two women, Rosemary and Ms. Thyme, who solve murder mysteries.  Rosemary is a botanist and Thyme is a retired constable.  After Thyme separates from her philandering husband she partners with Rosemary who is soon sacked from a university position to do contract gardening and consulting work.  While designing and working on the gardens of usually wealthy clients there is inevitably a grisly murder committed which the two of them proceed to summarily solve.

Sam and I saw the description of this show a while back and thought it might be interesting to watch, so we filed it away in our memories.  Not too long ago CD asked to see it because she had watched some episodes while house-sitting for a friend and wanted to see more.  It was clear enough that we were all interested in checking it out, so we did.  I have to admit I wasn't that open to it at first because that day I was getting a bit sleepy and a murder mystery seemed a little dense and hard to stay awake too (I probably should have gone to sleep).  Despite a sort of rocky personal start though I've gotten really attached and involved with the subsequent episodes we've watched.  I think we're about three episodes in out of the six available.

I get involved trying to figure out who's done it.  It's hard for other shows to get me mentally involved beyond acknowledging what's on the screen; but this show does a great job of giving my brain some things to mull over instead of just glazing over.  The characters make it really easy to get involved as well.  Rosemary is straight-forward interesting.  She has a lot of information to put out there as well as being the one who usually puts the logical spin on things.  There's also this wonderful spin on her character though; she is knowledgeable and confident, but when confronted with "accidentally" overhearing something she is deliciously awkward.  Her reactions near slapstick quality.  Thyme on the other hand is more intuitive.  She doesn't mind gossiping and taking in anything and everything people say as possible truth.  She has a son who works for Scotland Yard and occasionally asks him to "check out" possible suspects as well.  Where Rosemary is matter-of-fact, Thyme is a bit more scattered but usually a little closer to the truth.  The two characters play off of each other very well.

I've grown a bit attached to the classic Murder, She Wrote television show and enjoy it a lot.  It's one of the few murder mystery shows I actually enjoy.  Having said that, I can say honestly that Rosemary and Thyme has a similar charm and wit.  It's a shame Netflix only has six episodes to offer.
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Watched this film on Netflix with Sam the other night.  It is a French film (which means subtitles) called “Prete-moi ta main.”  On Netflix it’s listed as “I Do: How to get Married and Stay Single” though when the movie starts they translate the title as “Faux Wedding.”  I don’t actually know what the French is translated literally, but I’m going with “Faux Wedding.”  The basic story is about a man (Luis) who is 43 and single.  He likes it this way.  However, his family of nearly all women wants to get him married off.  The reason given seems to be that they are sick of doing all of his chores for him.  After several horrible dates he schemes to have a faux wedding.  He wants to hire a woman to act like his fiancée and then leave him at the altar.  The idea is that he will then be so horribly depressed that his family won’t mention marriage to him again.  He finds a woman named Emmanuelle who is the kid sister of a co-worker (Luis makes perfume).  As is often the case in romantic comedies there inevitably develops at least a surface-level interest.

I think this movie worked really well to kind of show how family sometimes is counter-productive when it comes to personal fulfillment.  On the other side of the coin though it can serve to give us that push we need to further ourselves, even if it’s in spite of their specific ideas.  It also goes on to examine how people aren’t always what they seem.  Age, occupation, even lifestyle don’t always give you a full picture of what’s going on.  Through this movie I think we get to see quite a change in Luis as well as a few different spotlights cast on Emma showing her as more than just a young love interest.  There’s also a comfortable little side story about Luis’ career which occasionally works itself into the main plot.  In so many ways I really don’t feel like I’m doing a good job describing the various themes of the movie but it certainly stuck out as something more than “just another romantic comedy.”

I could appreciate Luis having the pressure to try and please his family.  I more than cringed at a particular part when he was “made” to choose between his family and his love interest.  It’s not easy to get passed something like that.  Finding ways to show and appreciate your own personal ticks and habits and your own life while also finding room for this other person is something this movie is great about showing off.  So many mistakes are made which make this one a little more realistic too.  It’s not one of those films where by the last fifteen minutes every character has magically healed his or her flaws.  I liked that aspect of it. 

Another thing which is a bit more of a run-of-the-mill idea actually is this idea that there are loves we can’t get over yet don’t want to confess or get beyond.  So many forms of entertainment have touched on this idea but this one stuck out to me.  I won’t lie that since it was a bit of an out of the ordinary film for me it probably had some effect; but the themes were still the same.  Getting over an old girlfriend, admitting to yourself that you like someone who is nothing like her, fighting not only yourself but others as well (including the girl) is something that adds a lot of layers if people are willing to think about it a little instead of just watching it and hoping it’s handed to you. 

As hodge podge as this “review” is I would recommend it to anyone to at least give a glance.  I gave it 5/5 stars myself.

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Ah, Netflix, you give me amusement, excitement, and new entertainment avenues to explore.  Sam has been pretty good about varying our queue as for what we get at home.  Most of our viewing has been done with Instant Watch but for those things not available there we order through the mail still.  We have an account for just Television shows.  Well a few shows from the BBC have been put into our queue and tonight me, Sam, and Byron watched two of them.  We watched "Peep Show" (not pornographic by the way) and "Being Human."

"Being Human" came first.  It's a drama about a vampire, werewolf, and ghost all living together in a flat.  Basically they try to go about their daily lives (except the ghost who so far seems bound to the house and isn't visible to everyone).  The vampire was turned during WWII and is battling with his urges to feed.  He has a bad habit of turning women who are interested in him.  His issue is only exasperated by a big event fellow vampires keep hinting at, our main character has chosen to be on the human side of things.  (keep in mind we've only seen the first episode so far, so don't know where any of this is going).  The werewolf was lucky enough not to be eviscerated because there was another man with him being chased that night.  He escaped with a scratch and a Curse.  There have been hints about a mysterious man getting involved with him (in the next episode it looks like) which look like his major story arc.  In addition he also has a lot of issues about accepting who he is now that he has this uncontrollable part of himself.  The ghost is living in the flat because that's where she died.  She is pining for her ex-fiance who has since moved on and is dating again.  She is easily excited when someone can see her and takes full advantage by being overly talkative, and active.  I suppose she's sort of a melancholy manic in that sense.

The show was really interesting actually.  Some of the themes are a bit other than original but the way that the characters are presented and the way their interactions have been woven together make it intriguing.  I particularly like how they put a focus on the vampire and the ghost trying to help the werewolf come to grips with who he is.  (side note, I don't remember the characters' names, except for the werewolf, who is George I think... sorry).  When they refer to vampires turning others they refer to them as monsters and predators, which adds a little dimension I think given the obvious states that our main characters are in.  I think it's a little hard to get a lot of feel for a show just from one episode, but I really look forward to seeing more.  This disc has three episodes, so we'll see how far we get.

After that we watched two episodes of "Peep Show."  Honestly after the first episode I was feeling a bit weirded out, I didn't quite get it; but during the second episode I found myself chuckling throughout most of it.  The idea is that there are a couple of roommates.  One is stuffy and the other is out there.  Not an original concept really.  The part that made it so interesting was that most of the dialogue is from the characters' thoughts.  In that sense we see that the stuffy fellow is actually a lot like his roommate in what he wants to accomplish.  Of course his thoughts rarely materialize into actions, so he ends up sputtering horribly when talking to women and being afraid of neighborhood children (who call him a pedo..).  The other roommate is trying to break into the music business and that seems to be his main motivation, though like with his friend, women are also a main focus.  These episodes were shorter than "Being Human" and focused in a lot more on little story lines.  The first one was about the roomies competing for the sexual attention of a neighbor.  Neither won out, as is often the case, but the way in which each failed was pretty fun to watch.  The second episode was about stuffy (sorry, don't remember the names here either, awful about that) trying to get the would-be musician hired on at the company where he worked because he never paid his part of the rent.  The musician does not get the job, but does get interested in a pyramid scheme that is NOT a pyramid scheme.  The stuffy roommate makes an embarrassing phone call to his object of desire at work but things somehow seem to work out.

Like Sam said, this must be a guy show.  It has a dialed back over-the-top humor, if that even makes sense.  I think the fact that we aren't meant to hear thoughts that go with actions, but here we do, makes it so appealing.  It makes things these two characters do make so much more sense, but makes them more ridiculous at the same time.  Writing that I think about a scene in the first episode when the stuffy roommate chases after those neighborhood kids with a steel pipe out of frustration.  It's so easy to understand having heard everything he thought up until that point driving him to the act, but it's still so zany.  How would you react if you saw a middle-aged man chasing kids around with a pipe?  Of course that kind of masculine sense of humor (especially with their women issues) appeals here too.  I have a feeling that me and Byron are going to be watching these on our own if we keep getting more discs, but we have six more episodes to go on this one I think.  We both got a kick out of them though.  

There's a lot to be said about watching programs that are from other countries.  We watch foreign movies every now and then (watched "Bloody Mallorie" the other day, great French horror flick) but it feels different with TV shows.  I've seen some from the BBC that I have a hard time "getting," like "Keeping Up Appearances" which Sam and the others love.  Keeping that in mind it should make it really interesting when we start watching the "Doctor Who" shows.  There's also a Russian version of "Law & Order: Criminal Intent" that I would like to see sometime.  There are just such different ideas and themes that can show up in different shows like that.  After a while the things that come up on TV here in the States starts looking the same.  There are so many crime shows it's hard to keep some of them apart.  The laugh-track shows start to get really predictable too.  I think with British television has enough cultural similarities that it allows for more understanding while still being different enough to offer fresh entertainment.  The sense of humor and the way emotions are conveyed are different enough that I really look forward to seeing more.


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December 2012

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