Movies I Love

You had me at, ‘Hello’.

A Film Festival And A Dance Battle

Found this great roundup of the recently concluded Trinidad and Tobago Film Festival (ttff).

Great to see the films being appreciated, but even better to hear sound critical advice. Yes, our film-makers need to come from a more critical place, especially when making documentaries. We are presenting positive overviews right now, but I suspect as the industry matures, creators will worry less about offending sensibilities and start doing more to reflect the realities of the Caribbean experience, and start conversations we need to have before we chart our future.

I also came across this amazing dance battle on Twitter yesterday, filmed at the Montreal Swing Riot by Alain Wong. Street dancers faced off against vintage/swing dancers and the results were magical. It’s a bit long, but you won’t regret watching the whole thing.

Keep dancing your cares away, my friends!

The Best Human Being I Have Ever Known

Eight years ago this month, my grandmother passed away. She was the backbone of my family and an amazing, unapologetic, loving, straight-forward, maddeningly sharp-tongued, soft-hearted, funny, perceptive, hard-working, smart, self-assured, no-nonsense, contradiction of a woman. She was the strongest person I’ve ever known.

Lots of people think their grandmother was the best, but mine really was. I never called Lyris Aban Baptiste granny because I considered that too disrespectful for her stature. To me, she was always grandmother.

I miss the way she used to sing and hum to every new baby born to the family. The way she would blow raspberries on their stomach until they laughed. I miss the way she would ask for a beer, drink it quickly, and then pretend it had leaked away and ask for another. I miss how she always had food ready when her family visited, and if not, she would get up and make some. The way she would entrap her grandchildren to do household chores and then pay us with cake batter or soft drinks.

I miss how she would mock threaten any kids who were being sly or sassy by waving her cane at them. How she would blink owlishly sometimes until you announced yourself because she didn’t see so well in her last years. The stories she told about growing up in Grenada, raising kids in Trinidad and working as a domestic for a rich Chinese lady who taught her how to cook Chinese food.

Barely out of her teens, she got on a boat all alone to go be with the man that would become her husband. She grew up poor in a one bedroom shack with 10 younger brothers and sisters she had to help care for, and she had to leave school before she learned to read and write to do it. She was told there was no point to educating a girl that would only get pregnant anyway, and her eldest brother took her place in school. But by the time she left this world, she had taught herself to read and write, was the secretary of the national chapter of the Mother’s Union of the Anglican Church, the secretary of her Village Council and had helped build her house with her own two hands while pregnant.

Her children and grandchildren included teachers, nurses, public servants, artists, lawyers, writers, musicians and two generations of port workers, male and female. She educated her children in a time when you paid for that education yourself and she never tired of preaching the importance of God and ‘studying your book’. She saved more people from the sad twists and turns of life by offering them shelter and a chance to get on their own two feet than any charitable organisation. She stood by her word, no matter what. And she loved, loved, loved, her family.

But my best memories are the times we spent together. The time she pretended her cane was stuck in ‘reverse’ while standing in front of the television and blocking her children and grandchildren from watching a movie. The squeals of ‘Granny! Move!’ while she shook her cane and muttered in pretend frustration, ‘But how this thing wouldn’t go into drive at all?’ The laughter when she got it into drive and backed up against the screen even more.

The time we were playing cricket in the yard, and she came outside and we talked her into batting and then regretted it because no matter who bowled to her, she hit it for six every time and nobody could get her out.

Or the time she came out while I was watching ‘The Matrix’ on television and sat down and watched the entire thing with me. This woman born before electricity came to the poor of Grenada. This woman who rationed throughout World War II and never forgot the lessons of keeping enough food in the house in case of political upheaval. This woman who lived through the arrival of telephones in Trinidad, all the way to the installing of a computer in her house that she frequently called a ‘small TV’. She watched Neo gain his powers in a strange world created by ‘camera tricks’ as she called it and asked very few questions, so engrossed was she.

At the end of The Matrix, she said, ‘I like that. That was good.’ And then we went to bed, she to hers and I to mine.

Sleep well, grandmother. It really was good.

RIP #hitchBOT

A social experiment that would probably make Skynet nod sagely has just come to an abrupt end.

Researchers had created a friendly, helpless robot that managed to hitchhike its way safely across parts of Europe and Canada. Unfortunately, it was destroyed by unknown assailants once it tried to continue the experiment in the US. 

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The creators said they felt society had lots of warnings about why we should fear robots, so they wanted to do an experiment to see if robots had any reason to fear humans.

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Well, we all know the answer now.

Somewhere in the Matrix, Mr. Smith is saying, ‘I told you so.’

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Poor little guy. I guess the moral of the story is, you can go thousands of miles without meeting an asshole, but it only takes one to fuck up your whole trip.

Stay thirsty, my friends.

A Cannibal and His Food

This is a great article about the lady that styles the food on “Hannibal”.

“Hannibal” is one of my favourite TV shows, and one of the things I love about it is the luscious cooking and presentation of food–even if sometimes, that food happens to be longpork. Mads’ Hannibal Lecter is even more stylish and sophisticated than Sir Hopkins. In fact, I rather think Mads would have eaten Hopkins’ version of Lecter because he would have been just a bit too crass to let live, but interesting enough to taste good, you know?

Sure, it unnerves me sometimes that a show about an unrepentant monster that eats people works so well for me, but once you’ve seen the visually original way they shoot it, and the lack of apologies they have for taking their time with the plot, or throwing out the kind of twists that would usually kill any other show, you really can’t imagine this story being told any other way. Could any other show on television leave every major character at death’s door due to the villain–with the certainty at least one of them was a goner–like had Hannibal did at the end of season 2? Even Walking Dead fans would have rioted!

Anyway, it’s fascinating reading how she comes up with the meals and the fake meats that are so important the story. And it was really cool to find out Mads does his own stunts and most of the fake cooking. I did wonder about that, as he seemed so good at it in the show. Glad to know it really is skill and not just skillful editing.

Sadly, the show has already been cancelled (yes, it wandered a bit there at the start of season 3, but last Thursday’s episode picked things up immensely). Still, I’m hoping Netflix or someone else steps up to the plate and saves it. More than any other show in this golden age of television, Hannibal deserves to carry out it’s delicious vision to the possibly bitter end.

And this sick thing is, I’d probably show up. ‘Cause that man can COOK.

Stay thirsty–and hungry–my friends!

You Haven’t Seen Snowpiercer Yet? Say It Ain’t So!

Because that movie rocks. It literally rocks. When did you last see a movie that uses horror to highlight social injustice in an entertaining and thoughtful way?

South Korean and Australian cinema, particularly the thrillers and horrors, have become my new favourite source for good movies. When I saw the trailer for Snowpiercer I knew I was going to see it. I even posted it on here as one of my must-see trailers. But the movie itself turned out to be far better than I expected. It was one of the best I saw last year. I reminded me of some of the other great South Korean movies I’ve seen, like ‘The Host’, and those I plan to see, like ‘Mother’.

I started thinking about the movie again today because I came upon this article which mentions the scientific concept used to such great effect in Snowpiercer. It nicely breaks down the premise and it’s possible effects. Which is damn scary, frankly. Especially since China is doing this already.

Was also explaining 3D printing to my Dad on the way to work this morning. He was fascinated by it, and totally got how much the method would strengthen certain constructs, like spaceship parts.

Some days I’m just struck by how much future-world we’re living in. Mostly, it’s not the one we expected. But I think that’s because growing up alongside technology makes it seem much more mundane than it really is. I love that about life, actually. In my writing, I like trying to capture how tech is just no big deal to the world now, while at the same time being pretty amazing. I mean, think about trying to explain the stuff we use today to someone born 100 years ago. Insane, right? In one hundred years, the advances we’ve made have been incredible in some areas. Sadly, once you step out of the arena of technology, we still have a lot of stuff to work on. Right, Emma Watson?

But yeah, this is a strange and wonderful future we live in. Hope we make the right choices so we can advance together from here. Some days, I’m not sure we will. Other days, I think it will all work itself out somehow.

Either way, I think we’re all in for a wild ride.

And much like the residents of Snowpiercer, we’d better make sure we’re on a train we can all live with.

What’s Your Favourite Scifi Book or Movie?

Here’s an awesome article about 15 real scientists and their favourite scifi books and movies.

An great reminder that if we want to nurture tomorrow, we have to inspire today.

I have a million scifi books and movies I loved. I can’t name just one. I mean, there was Contact (book and movie, though they’re very different), The Andromeda Strain, Dune, Jurassic Park, anything by Phillip K Dick and so many others.

But it’s so fun to see that even scientists loved the same cool stuff you did.

What’s your favourite scifi book or movie? Better yet, name all you can think of off the top of your head. I’m no good naming just one so feel free to fill up the comments!

A Public Service Announcement for Luc Besson

Dear Mr. Besson,

I’ve been a fan since I first saw ‘Fifth Element’. A huge fan. And as such, I think it’s important that I share something with you.

You know that tag line you’ve been endlessly selling your new film ‘Lucy’ with? The one about her being the first human to use more than 10% of her brain?

Well…it’s actually not true at all. She won’t be the first human. Not even close.

In fact, the levels of untrue your advertising campaign has achieved is truly mind-boggling. Particularly when you consider the fact that Google exists.

So, as a long-time fan and someone who definitely plans to see ‘Lucy’–despite it’s flawed premise–can I ask you for one tiny favour?

For the love of all that’s holy, PLEASE stop using that blasted tag line.


Someone You Don’t Know and Don’t Give a Damn About Who is Nevertheless Entirely Ready to Shove Lucy Out a Window Herself if it Will Get Morgan Freeman to Stop Being a Scientist Who Says Really Inaccurate Shit.

I give up reaction gifs

Vampire Academy or Who The Hell Knew That Would Be So Much Fun?

I didn’t plan on seeing this. Basically, my sister went to the DVD store by herself and I wasn’t able to prevent her from buying it. I had made my opposition clear from the moment I saw the uninspiring trailer.

However, I have been wrong twice this year about movies I didn’t want to see that turned out to be movies I’m glad I saw. Vampire Academy was the second one I was wrong about. (For the curious, Lone Survivor was the first, but this post is not about that.)

Don’t get me wrong. It’s not Lone Survivor level of badassness. It’s got its flaws. Chief among them being the lightening fast dialogue and story pacing. Egads, the speed! And the villain. Terrible levels of obviousness were at work there, but then again, it’s not a book meant for testing your Nancy Drew skills or anything. Still, if someone had told me the Weinstein brothers and Mark Waters were involved, I would have given it a chance.

Luckily, the movie was full of enough spunk, sly troupe-tossing and decent acting to get by on its own. No, I haven’t read the books, and don’t plan to, but I enjoyed the idea of three different vampire species; the intriguing glimpses of religion I saw; a heroine who was both intelligent, spirited and devoted to her best friend of the same sex and a night-operating Hogwarts that combined bits of ‘Heathers’ in its hallowed halls. Frankly, if I was still a teenager, I would have loved this, not the least because it’s a movie that doesn’t tell young people the most important relationship in their lives is the romantic one.

Oh, and the guy who played Dimitri? Far too hot for a young girl like Rose. Send him to me, I need some heat in my old age 😉

If you didn’t want to see this, I’d at least recommend you take a look at the opening and see if you want to keep watching. Frankly, it reminded me of Buffy and that sort of snarky paranormal adventure plays well in my house. If you barf at the very idea of continuing to watch, no judgement. I am, after all, the woman who had no problem watching Kevin Sorbo in ‘Kull the Conqueror’.

And if you tell that to anyone else, I WILL hunt you down and feed you to the Strigoi.


On a side note, I can’t believe IMDB has Mortal Instruments rated higher than this. I fell asleep on that one. And I LIKE Lilly Collins. That guy she was smooching on though…yeeesh. Not my type at all. Needs to eat and get out in the sun more.

Stay thirsty, my friends!


Trailer Bonanza!

It’s trailer day! So here are some fun trailers to get you ready for the rest of the week.

First, the one everyone’s talking about. NBC’s trailer for the new show, Constantine. I did not grow up with the comics, so I rather enjoyed the much maligned movie. But this looks loads better.

You’ve probably seen it already, but I can’t wait for Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. The first movie was a welcome surprise. I don’t think anyone really wanted a remake of such a classic. I truly didn’t think it would be any good. I was so glad to be wrong. ‘Dawn’ looks to be just as intriguing.

I can take Tom Cruise, or I can leave him. But I am in love with Emily Blunt. And I am in love with this concept. Edge of Tomorrow is a must see for me.

This looks like one of those movies that set you laughing, and lift your spirit. Besides the fact that it’s about food, it’s got the wonderful Helen Mirren in it. The Hundred-Foot Journey looks like the kind of truly heart-warming film they don’t make enough.

This one is a red-band trailer for an upcoming comedy, so get the kids out of the room.  I’m not a fan of Cameron Diaz, but I loved Bad Teacher and this looks funny as hell.

Another red-band trailer. This one is a futuristic thriller that looks like revolution on a train. Chris Evans and one of my favourites, Tilda Swinton, star.

And finally, the trailer for Wolves, which is on this post for one reason only. Jason Momoa. That is all.

Stay thirsty, my friends!


You Probably Haven’t Seen These Trailers

But you should have.

So I’m bringing them right to you.

First up, another book I haven’t read made into a movie that looks fairly interesting.  Dystopian? Post-apocalyptic? Both? Who cares, I’m in!

Next, we have something that looks like a mash up of Chronicle, The Goonies and ET. We may have seen this before. Yet–I find myself drawn to the kids and that cute as hell creature. Skip if you hate Spielberg, but me, I loved me some Goonies.

Those two were just to build up to this one. Seriously, this is YA the way I want to read and see it. I have heard of Maze Runner, but never read it. This trailer has convinced me to pony up my money at the cinema.

And now for one you weren’t expecting.

Yeah. I know. I’m SO watching that.

Whether or not I figure out what it’s about.

And finally, here’s one for the grown ups. Seriously. This is a red-band trailer. Boy is it ever.

But it’s James McAvoy losing his cool and way too much weird stuff to describe.

And after that, all I could do was:

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Yes, Dorothy. We are not in Kansas anymore.

Go forth and stay thirsty my friends.