Interesting links for January 24th through January 27th:

From Wikipedia: “The rule of thirds is a compositional rule of thumb in visual arts such as painting, photography and design. The rule states that an image should be imagined as divided into nine equal parts by two equally-spaced horizontal lines and two equally-spaced vertical lines, and that important compositional elements should be placed along these lines or their intersections. Proponents of the technique claim that aligning a subject with these points creates more tension, energy and interest in the composition than simply centering the subject would.”

So does my photo contain tension, energy and interest?

Week 3: Rule of Thirds

Wasting My Time

Other, Personal January 22nd, 2009

I haven’t been posting here much lately, but that’s mainly because I’ve been trying to find a new flat. We’ve been fed up with this place for some time now; annoying house mates, not enough space, while there most probably is something way better out there. So for the past week (actually longer than that already) I’ve been phoning estate agents, scouting out new areas and seeing available flats. It’s all time-consuming, energy-draining and stress-invoking, but I know in the end it will be worth it. 

Lately we’ve been looking around Canada Water. It’s a quiet, almost suburban area, but the transport links are great for us (from there we’d be quicker in Central London, then from where we’re living now) and there’s a big shopping (plus cinema) right next to the tube station. And as a bonus it’s near the water. So we’ve been trying to find something around there.

And last Monday we found something. A spacious yet cheap 1 bedroom flat, only 5 minutes walk from the tube. We straight away made an offer on it, and were already celebrating that evening that we found something great. Only to find out the next morning that the landlady decided to take it off the market. Grumble, grumble, don’t put it on the market then in the first place!

Anyhoo, for the past week all the viewings and appointments all went without any problems. Until yesterday. Yesterday I had 3 viewings and I ended up seeing none of the places. Now I’m not one to rant. I don’t get angry that often, barely never in fact. Something really has to go wrong for me to get angry. But yesterday? Yesterday was one of those days where you end up dealing with the mess of incompetent people and not achieving anything at all.

I had appointments that day with three different agencies. The first one was at 11.00 with Oliver Jaques and I had arranged to meet the agent at the property. Because of problems with the tube I was running a couple of minutes late, but with a lot of running and hurrying I managed to be there on time. And no one was there. It took me a while to figure out what the telephone number was, but once I phoned the agency I was told that “He had tried phoning me half an hour earlier to confirm our appointment, and when I didn’t pick up they assumed I wouldn’t be there and cancelled our appointment”. Ehm, I was in the tube? And I wasn’t told the day before (I had only made the appointment less than 24 hours ago) that they would call to confirm it. What kind of idiocy is this that they just don’t show up? 

Now this same agent was supposed to phone me back later that day to reschedule the viewing to later that afternoon. He never did. I phoned again and was told he’d phone back in half an hour. He never did. So now I still haven’t seen that property, but by now I’m not even sure I want to. This isn’t the way to deal with clients!

Next up was my second appointment. This wasn’t too bad, and not even the fault of the agency, but I still couldn’t see this property either. Apparently the locks of the communal entrance were replaced earlier that week and the agency hadn’t received the new keys for it yet. So there I was standing in front of the building with the agent and we couldn’t get in. What ticked me off though? The person on the 1st floor who was home (we saw him behind the curtain) and refused to open the downstairs door for us. Refused to even listen to what we had to say. Hopefully we’re going to see that property tomorrow, even though the agent still doesn’t have the keys…

Finally we had the third property. This agent was taking over from some other agent who I had phoned the day earlier; the tenant and the property was usually dealt with by this other agent. We arrived at the property, only to hear someone in the shower. After a while, we found out the tenant was still home, angry as hell that for the third time the agency hadn’t cleared it with him when they’d bring viewers by. And he refused to let us in. I completely understand his point of view, I wouldn’t have done it either. But that meant 3 appointments for me all resulting in nil, nada, nothing.

Fingers crossed that tomorrow all goes fine, cause yesterday felt a complete waste of time.

Episode 98: “Do you love me?”

I love the idea of flash mobs, even though I’ve never actually participated in one myself yet. I went to last year’s Real Life Rickroll at Liverpool Street Station, but I didn’t know the lyrics so couldn’t really sing along.

If you don’t know what a flash mob is, it’s basically a large group of people meeting somewhere and doing something unusual. For instance, the one that I went to was to get as much people together during rush hour at Liverpool Street station and sing Never Gonna Give You Up from Rick Astley and then leave. You can imagine the amazement of all the people who hadn’t heard about it beforehand. Another example is the Ninja attack. I don’t remember where it was exactly, but a group of people dressed as ninjas started fighting each other in a busy park.

Now T-Mobile has come out with the following ad:

[Watch the video]

While I do like how the people there responded to it, I’m a bit annoyed by it. All those people dancing have got to be professionals, right? Or at least hired to do this dance. Somehow this would have made more sense, more impact, to me, if they had organized this like an actual flash mob. Get actual people, who want to do it for the fun of it, not because they are payed to do it. Am I the only one who thinks this?

I still had a long list of movies I had seen in 2008, but for which I hadn’t taken the time to write a review yet, thus this blog post. Now if I keep to my New Year’s resolution of reviewing every movie I see I won’t have to do these type of posts any more.

Kung Fu Panda

Funny animation about a panda with dreams of becoming a Kung Fu master. What I especially like of this film was how it wasn’t too predictable; I never had a feeling “oh, it’s gonna end like this and this”. My one quibble with it: there are so many famous actors cast in this (Jack Black, Dustin Hoffman, Angelina Jolie, Lucy Liu, Jackie Chan) and some of them only have a couple lines. Don’t promote the movie as if they’ve got big roles then!

The Strangers

One of the worst “horror” movies I’ve ever seen. Almost no plot, no real frights or scares. It just felt like a complete waste of time after watching it.

Newsies 

Sigh. Christian Bale in a musical! And he’s singing and dancing. Even though he might be a bit ashamed of that movie nowadays, it’s still a great little gem. The singing is a bit cheesy and not always in tune, but, hey, it’s a kids movie and it’s perfect for those stay-inside-cause-you’re-sick-or-it’s-cold-outside days. 

Shoot ‘Em Up

I know a lot of people loved this movie, but it just didn’t work for me. It was too ridiculous and absurd, I just couldn’t get into it. Now I love old B action movies, but this didn’t even have the charm of those movies. It just felt awkward.

The House Bunny

Cute movie about a Playboy bunny that gets kicked out of the Playboy mansion and then becomes a house mother for a geeky sorority. Pretty obvious plot, but still quite funny and sweet.

Taken

I saw the trailer some time last year, and definitely wanted to see this movie. Liam Neeson as an ex-spy/special agent whose daughter gets kidnapped? Sounds good, right? And the movie is actually quite good, although a whole lot grittier and realistic then the trailer leads you to believe. I don’t mean in “blood and guts” gritty, but more in the plot and ambience.

Quantum of Solace

Greatest disappointment of the year. The action sequences are superb; there’s no problem with that. But the plot? it felt like they first came up with the main action shots and then decided to write a story to connect them all together. For me, it didn’t work. I was expecting much more emotional turmoil from Bond and at least a slightly less convenient Bad Guy.

Tropic Thunder

Not as brilliant as I expected, but still a great movie. I think it would have made more impact, if I hadn’t heard anything about it at all, but how can you ignore so many ads and marketing? You’re bound to hear something. 

Burn Without Reading

I’m not a fan of the Coen brothers, but Burn After Reading was quite funny. I’m not sure though if it deserves the nominations it’s getting. Still, Brad Pitt and George Clooney are both just so different and weird in this movie, it’s worth seeing for that alone.

Mamma Mia!

Abba songs are catchy; there’s no doubt about it. But an entire movie based on that? To be honest, it actually could have worked, but this movie suffers from one main problem: Meryl Streep. She doesn’t have the voice to pull this off. And while she may be a great actress, I never truly believed her character. 

This is my second submission to the 52 Themes challenge. The assignment this week was “Creative Colour”. The creativity of this photo? I don’t own a pair of tights with legs in two different colours…

Week 2: Creative Colour

To celebrate the healthiness of carrots, and the evilness of bunnies.

Happy Carrot Day!

Note: there’s no such thing as “Carrot Day”… unless you want there to be :)

Episode 97: “Brosandi”

Here’s a great montage of the movies that came out in 2008 (although it’s according to the US, so some movies aren’t even out here yet):

[Watch the video on YouTube]

Week 1: An unforgettable fable that proves love, family and imagination conquer all.

As I mentioned in my New Year’s resolutions post, one of the challenges I’ve set up for myself is to watch 52 Movies. Cristiano and I discovered that we both had only seen about 25-30% of the Top 250 Movies on IMDB, missing a lot of the classics and just general good movies I never got around to seeing. So every week we’ll be watching one of these movies and I’ll try to blog about it.

For this first week we did La Vita è Bella, at the moment #87 on IMDB. I had told my brother about my idea of this challenge before Christmas, so (of course and great that I did) I got two DVDs of two movies I hadn’t seen, one of which was La Vita è Bella

The first half of La Vita è Bella is set in the 1930s Italy. Guido (Roberto Benigni) has just moved to a small town in Tuscany where he falls in love with a schoolteacher, Dora. She’s already engaged, but the playful Guido manages to woo her in surprising and unusual ways. The story then jumps ahead to five years later; Guido and Dora are living happily together with their son, until they get sent to a German concentration camp. Guido does everything in his power to get this family through this ordeal.

There were a couple of reasons why I had never seen this movie. For starters, (I know this sounds a bit lame, but this is truly one of my reasons) I tend to watch (or at least start watching) a movie during dinner, and films with subtitles… not that handy when every other minute you have to look down at your plate (told you it was lame). Another reason was that every time I saw a clip or something else with Roberto Benigni in it, I just got completely exasperated by him. He’s so busy and bubbly and peppy, it’s tiring to watch him (I have the same with a Dutch comedian Bert Visscher; it’s too taxing to watch).

And for that first half of the movie, he is very much busy and bubbly and peppy. But in an endearing type of way. The way he woos Dora is just so sweet, you can’t find it irritating (still a bit tiring though to be honest). And when the second half of the movie hits, when this character that is so busy and bubbly and peppy lands in a concentration camp, he remains busy and bubbly and peppy. In a unique way, he keeps his son hopeful, never letting the harsh realities of the war affect him. 

I’m not one to cry that often during movies, but the end of La Vita è Bella had me slightly in tears (not too much, mind, and not until the last minute).  It’s a sweet story, and at it’s heart you could say it’s a bit of a fairy tale, even though it’s set in not the most fairy tale-ish of places. One note: if you’re avoiding this movie because it’s a “war-movie-drama”, don’t. You’re missing out on a great tale of hope and love (not to sound too soppy).

La Vita è Bella deserves to be in the Top 250 of IMDB, maybe even a little bit higher than #87. If you haven’t seen it yet, you should. Trust me, it’s a film you’ll always remember. 

Next week: The Shawshank Redemption

Interesting links for January 8th:

  • Jason Mecier – Cool gallery of Jason Mecier, who makes portraits of celebrities with "weird" materials, like candy.
  • My Organized Closet – Wishing I had space for an organized closet like this.
  • Power of Seating – Three designs of chairs, personifying three great figures: Queen Elizabeth, Superman and The Thinker from Rodin.
  • Top 10 Gruesome Fairy Tale Origins – Some of the fairy tales we were told as kids, didn't start out as fairy tale-ish as they are now. A lot of them were way more gruesome, ending with not-that-happy-endings.
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