Archives For September 2012

Last week, during a rather ambitious fit of motivation, I convinced a friend of mine to join me in playing squash. My attempts over the years at sticking to a regular workout scheme have had a sour tendency to fail, as my motivation tends to vanish as spontaneously as it appears. Over this summer, I’ve done really well in keeping up jogging on a relatively regular basis, but at some point I’ve realised that the chances of me continuing to run outside as it’s turning progressively colder, darker and wetter is anorexic (which is to say extremely slim), and that I should find an alternative activity if I’m to have any chance at keeping up the good work.

So far we’ve had three squash sessions, and wooh, it’s so much fun! Besides from being one of the most effective ways to work out, I find it genuinely enjoyable. Also, I’m lucky enough that my mate is patient enough to put up with my complete lack of skill and my slow progress, which allows me to put pride and dignity aside and concentrate on having fun.

In the spirit of physical aspirations, I thought I’d do something as unlikely as to recommend a sports film. A physical combat film, at that, namely ‘Warrior‘ (2011). As I’ve never been a massive sports fan, I often find the films in this genre rather tedious. When I first saw the poster for this film, I wasn’t interested in the least; as a matter of fact, I immediately wrote it off as something I would not be likely to watch. Granted, this was after I had decided that Tom Hardy wasn’t just hyped up, but genuinely talented, but I wasn’t familiar with the director, and apart from showing off some unbelievably ripped torsos, the poster just didn’t appeal to me.

‘Warrior’ (2011)

‘Warrior’ (2001), directed by Gavin O’Connor.

However, online murmurs gradually began to reach me that this might be something more than what it seemed. Eventually a friend of mine watched, and he recommended it heartily, so I changed my mind and decided to watch it after all, not knowing anything about the plot. Something something about not judging a book (or a film, as it were) by its cover, because I really didn’t expect what I got.

Warrior‘ crept its way almost unnoticed onto the Norwegian film market. Possibly having been considered to be too similar to ‘The Wrestler‘, or perhaps for some other reason, it was deemed unworthy for cinema release and was released straight to DVD/Blu-ray. A huge blunder in my opinion, because this film really deserves attention.

The two estranged brothers, Brendan (Joel Edgerton) and Tommy (Tom Hardy) have drifted apart as a result of growing up in a broken home with an alcoholic father (Nick Nolte). Driven by their own separate causes,  they both sign up for an MMA championship and are brought together under unlikely and challenging circumstances.

Big brother Brandon (Joel Edgerton).

Little brother Tommy (Tom Hardy).

The resemblance to ‘The Wrestler‘ (which is also worth a watch) is undeniable: it uses the same raw and unglamorous filming and storytelling style, and centers around persons in the fighting industry; this time MMA, one of the toughest sports in the world. There are quite a few MMA combats in the film, but the fighting sequences are focused and delivered in small, concentrated doses, so people like me, who find long fighting scenes tedious, never have time to get bored. Rather surprisingly, I found that I was a lot more interested in the combats than I had anticipated, and was quite impressed by the some of the really impressive moves.

‘Warrior’ features some pretty impressive MMA combat shots.

Essentially though, it’s the scenes outside the ring that make the film interesting, though perhaps not so much the due to the plotline as to the magnificent acting. Hardy – who is something of a Midas, and also outrageously bulked up for this role -, Edgerton and Nolte all deliver stellar performances (Nolte received an Oscar nomination for his) and turns what could have been a bland and unoriginal story into an engaging and touching action drama. I cheered, I cringed, I cried – I rated the film 9 stars on IMDb.

A couple of other sports films I’ve recently watched and genuinely enjoyed are ‘Million Dollar Baby’ (2004) and ‘Moneyball’ (2011).

Which is your favourite sports film?

Addictive Anatomy

12/09/2012 — 3 Comments

I’ve spent what most people would consider an unhealthy amount of time this summer catching up on one of my old, guilty viewing pleasures, ‘Grey’s Anatomy’.

The original interns at Seattle Grace Hospital: George O’Malley, Izzie Stevens, Alex Karev, Meredith Grey and Cristina Yang.

It started out innocently, sometime back in July, with me coming across a random episode showing on TV one afternoon after work. I was spending the summer at mum and her boyfriend’s house, a consequence of having acquired a summer job in the area, while they were blissfully sailing along the coast of Denmark.

Only a short way into the episode, I realised that what I was watching was by some coincidence the very episode following the last episode I ever watched, before I decided to quit watching while the show could arguably have been said to still have some integrity, some years ago. Nostalgia welled up like it can only do in someone as ridiculously sentimental as myself, and this nostalgia, encouraged by the fact that I was spending the summer alone in a big, empty house, miles away from any of my friends, set off a rather over-indulging new pastime. Since then, I’ve spent a worrying amount of time catching up on the ever more far-fetched and clichéd plots, the arguments and the sobfests through the seasons (yes, that’s a plural) previously unwatched of this melodramatic yet strangely entertaining show.

For those unfamiliar with the show, ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ follows surgical intern Meredith Grey (Ellen Pompeo) and her colleagues through their trials and tribulations during their years of training at Seattle Grace Training Hospital.

First of all, this show has won its fair share of awards, and been nominated for a huge amount as well, including dozens of Emmys. Sandra Oh, who plays my favourite character on the show, Grey’s narcissistic and sarcastic best friend Cristina Yang, was Emmy-nominated for her role five years in a row. I sincerely enjoyed the show when it first aired in 2005. I’ve always been a sucker for dramas, even a dose of melodrama, and the show was witty and sassy, with sufficiently interesting characters to keep me hooked.

“The Twisted Sisters”, Meredith Grey and Cristina Yang.

Mark “McSteamy” Sloan and Derek “McDreamy” Sheperd.

There’s only so much that can realistically happen in a person’s life in the course of a few years. Obviously, this conflicts with the interests of TV show developers, as everyday drama on screen wears thin quickly, and writers have to come up with new and interesting plot lines to keep their viewers. A few shows make it through many seasons with their integrity (more or less) intact – i. e. ‘Sopranos’ (completed after 6 seasons) and ‘Six Feet Under’ (completed after 5 seasons, with arguably the most successful ending to a TV show ever). I wish more shows would quit while they’re ahead. However, more often than not, the show is watered out and features increasingly desperate and rather absurd measures (‘Lost’, anyone?) to try to keep viewer numbers up.

A plane crash is one of the many unfortunate things that befall the doctors.

If it were up to me, I would have pulled the plug at the end of season 4, which is when I originally stopped watching the show. All the original characters were there, and the season finale would have brought a nice conclusion to the series. Season 5 and 6 hold up reasonably well, but by season 7 and lastly 8, there’s not much left to be excited about or inspired by. All the couples have split up and gotten back together at least once – and often more -, and they’ve all been through more traumatic experiences individually and collectively than that of all their patients added up. Car crashes, cancer, Alzheimers, flooding, a hospital merging and a shooting are among the extremely unfortunate – not to mention unlikely – events that have befallen the doctors over the years. And this isn’t the end of it. Even though by the end of season 8 they have all completed their internships and residencies, passed their board exams and finally become attendings, putting an end to the original concept of the show, the season ends on a cliffhanger – more unbelievable than ever – and promises yet another season, which will start airing in the U.S. by the end of this month. Sigh.

Will I still end up watching the last season? Probably. Addictive personality, me?

Have you ever found yourself addicted to a series despite its lack in quality? Which one was it and what drew you in?

Apparently I have a new blog. Thought I’d fill it with film and TV ramblings. Feedback is welcome, and encouraged.

First post is coming up tomorrow, on a rather surprising topic (at least to me it was).