Sunday, January 25, 2009


There are a few things I want to say, but I'm attending to many things right now, so I'll just update you on my Oscar viewing. We saw both of Kate's movies this weekend, The Reader and Revolutionary Road. I liked each more than I thought I would.

At the Golden Globes, after Kate won her "supporting" actress award for The Reader, Ricky Gervais said from the stage, "See, what did I tell you, do a Holocaust movie and the awards start coming?" Ha ha, but The Reader turned out to be really philosophical and looked at a bunch of things through some interesting new prisms. I recommend it, even if you have a Holocaust "wall." I would also like to point out ONCE AGAIN that hurrah Academy for nominating her for LEADING actress for it, because her Golden Globe and SAG Awards wins in the supporting category are pretty much crap. She was FIRST BILLED in the credits. As Brian said, "She was first-billed. Whom exactly was she supporting?" UGH.

So, today was Revolutionary Road. The critics apparently don't much like it, and most of what I've heard is that it's "depressing." So it's no surprise to me that I loved it. I tend to not react the same way my friends and reviewers do to these so-called "depressing" films. (Can we say The Hours ... I found it so deeply inspiring, so uplifting, so wondrous and life-affirming. Apparently I was alone in this reaction.) RR had a wonderful script, some fine performances including a well-deserved Best Supporting Actor nod for Michael Shannon, and a whole lot of thoughts about life. Intense, thoughtful, a little dark...and despite my 1950s "wall," I adored it.

That's all for now.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Oscar Nominations!

At long last, this much anticipated week has arrived in which I get not one but two exciting experiences in one twelve-hour period, last night's season premiere of Lost and this morning's announcement of the Oscar nominations.

What I've seen:
  • Australia
  • The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
  • The Dark Knight
  • Doubt
  • Frost/Nixon
  • In Bruges
  • Man on Wire
  • Milk
  • Slumdog Millionaire
  • Vicky Cristina Barcelona
  • The Visitor
  • Wall-E
  • The Wrestler
What I will see (these were already on my list):
  • Changeling
  • Defiance
  • Frozen River
  • Happy-Go-Lucky
  • Rachel Getting Married
  • The Reader
  • Revolutionary Road
  • Tropic Thunder
  • Trouble the Water
  • Waltz With Bashir
What I might see -- these were on my list for fun, and got "minor" nominations:
  • Bolt (Animated Film)
  • Wanted (Sound Editing and Sound Mixing)
Other documentaries and foreign language films that I will of course seek out soon because I love those categories (a few of which had recently been on my radar through their Independent Spirit Award or Golden Globe nominations):
  • The Betrayal (Nerakhoon)
  • Encounters at the End of the World
  • The Garden
  • The Baader Meinhof Complex
  • Departures
  • Revanche
  • plus, all the shorts
The randoms, aka the films I will watch once I've seen the others but which did not initially appeal to me and which I had essentially no plans to see until their nominations today:
  • The Class (Best Foreign Language Film -- looks like a French Dangerous Minds, from the trailer)
  • Hellboy II: The Golden Army (Achievement in Makeup. Dude, I love the random action or goofy -- or both -- movie every year that gets an Oscar nomination for makeup. The competition is actually interesting this year, too, with Hellboy competing against Benjamin Button and The Dark Knight.)
  • Iron Man (Sound Editing and Visual Effects)
  • Kung Fu Panda (Animated)
The absolute-last-on-my-list nominee, the one that causes me to roll my eyes and only gets seen if I run out of other options and find myself hideously bored with a few days to spare before the Oscars:
  • The Duchess (Art Direction, Costume Design)

There are many! First and foremost let me congratulate the voters of the Academy for seeing through the campaign-for-supporting-actress-thus-increasing-her-chances ruse and nominating Kate Winslet for Actress in a Leading Role instead for The Reader. That film is very high on our must-see list anyway (we even attempted it but were accidentally late waking up to get to AMC's AM Cinema and saw something else that day instead).

Next, hurrah for In Bruges! That film rules. It is an interesting competition in the Original Screenplay category, and Milk obviously has a great chance, especially because then people might feel better about themselves to award Milk that since they're going to vote for Mickey Rourke in The Wrestler instead of Sean Penn in the actor category. And I haven't yet seen Frozen River or Happy-Go-Lucky. But based on what I know so far, I will stand up and cheer if In Bruges wins.

Supporting nominations I dig: Penelope Cruz in Vicky Cristina Barcelona and Josh Brolin in Milk, although too bad for him because, seriously, Heath Ledger is going to win for his, ahem, "supporting" performance in The Dark Knight.

Surprisingly few, I guess. And come to think of it, few surprises. I think Frost/Nixon is the best of the lot (although don't forget I haven't yet seen The Reader etc.) And all the Doubt nominations are just kind of whatever, expected, but that wasn't really a great film. Neither was Button, which was kind of weird, although it had great things about it such as Cinematography. I really liked Slumdog Millionaire but I don't think it's the best. It is certainly a favorite right now, though. I guess it's a little sad that there was no love for Clint Eastwood and Gran Torino, which I thought was OK, very Clint. Oh well, he's Clint Eastwood, he doesn't need anything so silly as another Oscar... And, I've seen all the supporting actress flicks and am basically underwhelmed except by Penelope in Barcelona. Second choice Marisa, but seriously, go see Vicky Cristina Barcelona, just for her super crazy and fun Maria Elena! If either of the Doubt ladies wins, I will roll my eyes.

All right everyone. Go forth and watch.

Oh yeah, and one more thing: Man on Wire! Gooooo, Man on Wire!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Welcome Back

Oh. My. God.

And so another semester has dawned and it has the distinction of being -- oh yes -- my last semester of law school.

And, just when I had started to get all "can't-believe-it's-almost-over" and even a little "oh-it's-not-so-bad" about this place, five insipid 1Ls (or possibly four 1Ls and a 2L) have plopped themselves down next to me here in the law school lounge to remind me that nothing -- nothing! not even having to pay off $100,000 in loans! -- could be worse than staying here on Long Island.

Being in Curacao over winter break is what initially bred the not-so-bad delusion. But there was one clear difference between taking law classes in Curacao and taking them here, and I ain't talkin' about palm trees. In Curacao, out of the 52 of us "studying" abroad, only about ten were from Hofstra. It was nice. So nice. Almost no one was from Long Island. People were from seven or eight different law schools. Conversations were interesting. If I ever needed confirmation that going to Hofstra was a terrible idea, Curacao may have been it.

But I didn't actually need that confirmation, for reasons such as today, back at the lounge. First, three girls sort of amble in, all loud and stupid as Long Islanders often are, and they proceed to figure out how to sit in some of the armchairs next to the arm chair in which I happen to be happily settled. After a bit of sitting, one of them giggles, "I feel so far away from you!" and what ensues is a somewhat less-than-the-motor-skills-of-a-preschooler display of moving her armchair closer to the armchairs of her friends. This shouldn't be too difficult, as her chair started the process about two feet away, but it required essentially switching the places of this armchair and the intervening small square side table. One of the friends helped, but her "help" would probably have been more effective had she been willing to lift herself out of her chair, rather than just sort of reaching with no leverage.

At any rate, they eventually manage to drag this table, that really probably weighs no more than one of our textbooks, the all of two feet she needs it to move so that she may be closer to her friends, but they manage to drag the table legs over my laptop cord two or three times during the process. The first two times, I just moved it out from under the table leg's path, but the third time when she left it there on top of the cord, I said, "Could you please watch out for the cord? Thanks." They were horrified, of course, but probably not just from my appalling bitchiness (?) as from the emergence of a voice without a twentysomething Long Island accent.

Then, they spend about a half hour talking about how they are waiting for the Dean's Forum to begin (a question and answer session that takes place here in the lounge where the deans meet with the students) so that they can get some free food, as there is pizza provided at the forum.

During this time, two more of their friends arrive. One of them is the sole guy in the group, so there is a lot of good-natured teasing of the sole guy about things that apparently bewilder him, such as laundry.

Next, the group discusses whether or not to attend a certain happy hour tomorrow evening which takes place down the street from Hofstra. One girl, who apparently has a brief momentary flash of intelligence, says that she is not going to drive to school that day, so that she can drink and then not worry about driving. This absolutely baffles the other four members of the group. "How are you going to get home???!" they cry. She informs them that the bus goes right by her house. They consider this, but interrogate her further. A bus? They are so confused. They try to think of other solutions, such as going to the happy hour and not drinking, driving and drinking anyway, etc. Finally, in desperation, one of the girls says, "What if you drive your car to my house and we drive to school together?"

I'm not sure if that ever got resolved, because it was almost time to start eating the free pizza. The last few minutes were spent with the guy actually kicking my cord out of the plug as he attempted to stand up (the outlet, by the way, is in the FLOOR), as well as a discussion about how much they hate it when people raise their hands and make comments during classes. "It's like, I don't care about other people's opinions I just want to know what I need to know for the final!" one stated. The others chorused their agreement.

Four months more on Long Island, and then, so help me, once I've seen that damn lighthouse at Montauk I am out of here, never to return.

Friday, January 02, 2009

Lizard traffic

So I thought I would share a few musings about life here in Curacao (on Curacao?)

I absolutely adore the mornings. I have been incredibly good about sticking to the recently commenced 25K training schedule (year two!) -- haven't missed a day. So, to run before breakfast I get up at 6:15, and as I stretch and prepare I watch two things through my window: the breaking dawn and, most days, the morning cruise ship slooooowly making its way into the Willemstad harbor. Our hotel is basically on the water, and it amuses me that the "traffic" I watch from my window consists of ships and boats instead of buses and cars and taxis. Two seconds from our parking lot is the entryway to the "Coredor" which is a run/walk path along the water, and that's where I go through the paces. On the days I've slept "in" ('til 7) I hit the path in the evening, but I prefer the mornings. There are so many birds!!! I love how they sound as I exit the parking lot in the fresh daylight.

What I do love about the evenings are the gorgeous sunsets. A blazing orange disk just sits atop the blue expanse for a few minutes, simple but utterly beautiful. I have staunchly defended Arizona sunsets my entire life, but I've got to say that they now officially have some competition.

Besides birds, birds that really enjoy hanging out at the hotel terrace and scavenging the breakfast leftovers I might add, there are also lizards and iguanas. Many, many lizards. On New Year's Day, I slept in (not "in," but in, until 9:30 a.m.!) and ate breakfast (served at the hotel until 10) first, then went on my walk around noon. (One day a week in the training schedule is a walk; the other five are runs.) At that time of day there were insane amounts of lizards and an iguana or two in my path on the sidewalks. Some of them were fast, too! They generally scamper away upon hearing a human coming, and there were so many out that day that sometimes I'd even slow a bit because there would be three just in my path, inches away, but one particular lizard was just tearing along in the grass growing alongside the sidewalk. I could hear him and occasionally see him as he would pop up to run a few inches up the wall, then back down, and so on with these loops at quite a clip. It was impressive. At the end of the walk I realized I'd spent time with more lizards than people at that point in the new year. (This may still be true, honestly, at the rate we see them here.) You all must surely know how happy this makes me: lizards eat bugs!

Watching the cruise ships trips me out a bit. It's exciting enough for me when they arrive just because it's fun, even though it's almost a daily occurrence and we all came and will go via airplane. But I cannot even begin to fathom what it must have been like for "New World" settlers waiting, yearning, hoping each day for a ship's arrival to bring supplies, news, and tidings from home. As remote and surrounded by vast vastness as we may be, we definitely have it easy, too.

I watched the Rose Bowl in a fantastic sports bar on the water, another picturesque setting that almost didn't seem real. And for New Year's Eve, we were at a dance club on the beach to count down, cheer, and watch fireworks at midnight. I really like this whole dance-club-on-the-beach concept. You've got sand, waves, a bar, a dance floor. Some big slabs of rock on which to perch. And then you're just grooving with the dj, sweaty people, red and blue lights, but you look up and there are stars. Can't beat that. The New Year's Eve dance party really kicked into high gear after midnight, and with drinks flowing under the thatched roof and palm trees all around, it was surreal to hear, "Though it's cold and lonely in the deep dark night, I can see paradise by the dashboard light." Apparently that's Meat Loaf's biggest hit in the Netherlands, and we're kind of in the Netherlands, so there you go. Speaking of the Dutch, they all speak remarkably good English, of course, but I was quite impressed with how well they busted out the lyrics to "Summer Lovin'," "You're the One That I Want," etc. from Grease.

Amid all the paradise, though, there is the downside that we have been strongly admonished not to walk anywhere alone or anywhere after dark (except possibly down the street to the Hilton) and especially nowhere alone after dark. This is particularly annoying because taxis are expensive. So I'm not really getting to wander and explore the city as I love to do when I travel, but rather I am getting it in fits and starts when a group of us goes out and about. Oh, well.

That's all the anecdotes for now. The hotel bar downstairs has karaoke on Friday nights! And this is my last Friday night here in Curacao already ... my, my!