5 ideas about a movie: Halloween!

Movie reviews

Hello!

And welcome to a review of a horror film by a horror-hater. This is Halloween!

IMDb summary: Laurie Strode comes to her final confrontation with Michael Myers, the masked figure who has haunted her since she narrowly escaped his killing spree on Halloween night four decades ago

  1. Me being a horror-hater, I have never actually seen of the previous numerous Halloween films. Thus, I went into this one knowing the premise and having decent expectations because of all the great reviews. And the expectations were met, in that Halloween was a food film. I’m not sure it was an effective horror film, though.
  2. This may just be a personal thing, but the things that terrify me the most are jump scars and psychological horror. Halloween didn’t have a lot of either of those things. It did look at psychological issues (Mindhunter-like) but didn’t really use them for scarces. The horror of the film was that of a gorry, disgusting kind – and I feel like I have become desensitized to it after watching plenty of R-rated action films.
  3. Halloween was written Jeff FradleyDanny McBride (actor-writer), and David Gordon Green (Stronger) who also directed the film. I enjoyed how the movie reversed some horror tropes and how it explored parenting. I also liked the cohesiveness of the writing as well as the runtime of the film. In a day when I watched two other 2+ hour films, this one felt like an episode of prime TV. I also appreciated how realistic the movie’s writing was and how the teenagers in the movie felt real (similarly to It’s realistic youngsters).
  4. John Carpenter – the director of the original film – was involved with this sequel and mostly worked on the music. It was actually quite a great experience hearing his iconic Halloween theme in a theatre cause, even though I haven’t seen the original or any other films, I did know the theme music cause of how iconic it was/still is.
  5. Halloween’s cast consisted of Jamie Lee Curtis, Judy Greer, and Andi Matichak: I absolutely loved how the 3 main characters of the film were 3 strong women of different ages!

In short, Halloween was a well-constructed film with some neat themes and some moments of disgusting horror.

Rate: 3.5/5

Trailer: Haloween trailer

Halloween_(2018)_poster

Movie review: Allied

Movie reviews

Hello!

Today, I’m reviewing Allied – the movie that ‘broke’ Brangelina, the ‘it’ couple of Hollywood. Okay, I’m kidding –  I don’t actually believe or care much about the rumors. To me, Allied is, first and foremost, a film by a director that is of my native descent (Zemeckis is half-Lithuanian).

IMDb summary: In 1942, an intelligence officer in North Africa encounters a female French Resistance fighter on a deadly mission behind enemy lines. When they reunite in London, their relationship is tested by the pressures of war.

Writing

Steven Knight wrote the screenplay for Allied. So far, his accomplishments have been a bit average: I absolutely loved his small film Locke and really enjoyed the stories of The Hundred-Foot Journey and Pawn Sacrifice. However, Knight also penned the script for the so-so picture Burnt and wrote the completely awful Seventh Son as well. His next film will be a different Brad Pitt picture – Wold War Z 2. Speaking of the writing for this film, quality-wise, Allied was a mixed bag , just like Knight’s track record.

I felt that Allied contained two distinct stories which could have been explored in two separate movies. The first suspenseful act of the two characters falling in love on a mission was cool and interesting. It was a successful homage to Casablanca and the Golden Age of Hollywood. The second story – the home life and the investigation – was much slower and less interesting than the preceding set-up. Nevertheless, I did enjoy the fact that this film focused more on the romance and less on the war because I have already seen enough historical films, in which the romantic aspect is relegated to the sidelines and feels out of place. Allied made a decision to be a romantic movie first and a war drama second and stuck with it. I, as I have mentioned, enjoyed and liked this idea, but I can also understand that some people might see it as too sappy and melodramatic. I, personally, found it touching and heartbreaking, although not Casablanca level heartbreaking (Allied didn’t reach the levels of ‘We’ll always have Paris’ is what I’m saying).

Having said that, Allied still did have some pretty nice lines of dialogue and some rather cool concepts. I don’t really know why but I liked the trailer line: ‘Being good at this kind of job is not very beautiful’. I also enjoyed the ideas about love in war – the problem isn’t the action of getting involved, it is feeling something about the involvement. Lastly, I liked how the film underscored that the two main characters could never be trusted, as they were trained to lie.

Directing

Robert Zemeckis, who is responsible for creating a whole slew of cinematic classics – Back To The Future trilogy, Who Framed Robert Rabbit, Forrest Gump, and Cast Away and whose latest films include The Walk and Flight, directed Allied and did quite a good job. The film looked beautiful visually, although the CGI at the beginning (the desert) seemed a tiny bit fake and took me out of the film. Other historical settings were realized nicely, though. Zemeckis also used a lot of time jumps in the film and they did make sense for the most part. Lastly, I did like his long takes that some critics panned. At first, they seemed unnecessarily long to me as well, but then I realized that they were this long for a reason and were meant to show or to indicate something extra.

Acting

I think that the lead duo – Brad Pitt and Marion Cotillard – did an amazing job. First, they had crazy good chemistry and made a believable couple – their back and forth dialogue was superb, especially in the first act. Secondly, I think that the two actors nailed the ‘fake’ spy acting and didn’t make it seem cartoony. I was also quite surprised to see Lizzy Caplan in a supporting role and thought that her character was interesting, although, I question the motives behind the decision to include her character. A trio of actors, who seem to constantly appear in historical movies – Jared Francis Harris, Matthew Goode, and Simon McBurney, rounded up the cast of Allied and brought solid performances too.

Actors’ film recommendations:

  • Brad Pitt: Seven, Fight ClubMr. & Mrs. Smith (why not, it is still a good movie), Inglorious Basterds, Fury, The Big Short, By The Sea (even more ironic, as this one is directed by Jolie).
  • Marion Cotillard: Macbeth, The Dark Knight Rises, Inception, Big FishLa Vie en Rose for which she won an Oscar should also be on this list, even though I haven’t seen it yet. 
  • Lizzy Caplan: Now You See Me 2, Mean Girls (what a throwback).
  • Jared Harris: Benjamin Button, Lincoln, The Man from U.N.C.L.E.
  • Matthew Goode: Downton Abbey, The Imitation Game, Watchmen.
  • Simon McBurney: MI:Rogue Nation, Magic in the Moonlight, The Theory of Everything, Jane Eyre.

In brief, Allied was a solid romantic war drama. It had good acting and a decent story and visuals. However, the film was not groundbreaking, which it could have been, knowing who was involved in its making, both in front and behind the camera.

Rate: 3,75/5

Trailer: Allied trailer

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Fall Run 2016

Sports

Hello!

Welcome to the last sports update post this summer. Well, it’s technically no longer summer, but, to me, the autumn doesn’t start until I leave for Scotland and that’s only happening on Tuesday.

Anyway, today’s entry is dedicated to another running event I participated in – in my native language, it’s called Azuolyno Begimas which loosely translate to Oak Grove Run (it is held in an Oak Grove park). This is the 4th running competition of this kind and it usually happens twice a year – at the beginning of autumn and at the start of spring.

All of the participants (around a thousand of them) could choose from a variety of distances. The professional runners or more athletic people were able to run 15km, 10km or 5km, while the beginner runners and amateurs could try their hand at a free 3km Fun Run. There were also special distances for pupils, kids, families, and pets with their owners.

This particular run was quite special and interesting because I did something that I’ve never done before – I ran two distances in a single day during the same event. I did the 10 km distance – wasn’t really happy with my time or the state of my legs and feet – and I also accompanied my aunt on her first ever run – we did the 3km together. The second run was much more pleasant – not only shorter and easier but way more enjoyable too – I liked helping my aunt achieve her own personal goal.

The weather for running was quite good – the temperature was around 15 degrees Celsius and it was quite cloudy, so the sun wasn’t shining into one’s eyes or adding any unnecessary heat and warmness. However, by the time I was finishing the 10k, it started to rain which wasn’t that great or comfortable, especially when running with glasses.

All of the runners received their runner’s numbers and commemorative wooden medals. The participant’s package also included a discount card for hummel sneakers, a free entry to a sports center, a month’s subscription to an online exercise platform, an energy drink and a pot of quickly preparable porridge.

Since I’m going back to Aberdeen in a few days, I will miss out on quite a few running events in my native country. In a few weeks, a memorial run organized by a local university will be held, while a week after that there will be a walking/hiking event. The first week of October would have been reserved for a charity run to raise awareness for breast cancer if I was still living in Lithuania. However, I’m excited to get back to the UK and to start a new year at university. I also hope to find some running events in my ‘other’ hometown.

Have a great week!

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Another Night Run 2016 

Sports

Hello!

About a month ago, I told you about a charity night run that I participated in. Well, yesterday, I did another night run and I would like to share this experience with you.

This particular night run was organized by the same people who arranged last year’s end of summer night run. In 2015, all of the participants ran 8km: the route started in the Nemunas Island and spanned throughout the whole Old Town of Kaunas.

This year, the athletes and running enthusiasts could choose one of two distances – 4km (2 laps) or 8km (4 laps). The location of the event was also changed – it was held in the closed territory of this outdoor shopping centre/hangar market, called Urmas. It is a popular shopping destination in Kaunas, so this whole running event was either a brilliant marketing scheme or a huge and lucky coincidence.

It was weird running during the night because it was actually really dark – we only set off at 10pm. It was quite scary to run in a complete darkness during parts of the race – I was afraid I would hurt my feet or ankles. Other parts of the route had enough lights to run safely. After and before the actual run, the participants could listen to live music or watch the laser show. All of the runners, on top of receiving their runner’s number, got glow-in -the-dark bracelets.

The start signal of the run was really cool and fitting for the night run – it was a firework! Nobody wanted to run as soon as it started – everybody wanted to fully see it before setting off on the run.

I did the 4km distance and was quite happy with my time. This run was more like a rehearsal run for a big competition I’m participating in next weekend.

I enjoyed running my small distance as usual. I’m not the fastest runner but I always love the feeling I get after I finish the distance.

Bellow, I will include some photos from the event and the video of the start signal – the firework.

Volunteering at EHF Men’s 18 Handball Championship 2016

Sports

Good morning/day/weekend!

Around this time last year, I published my most successful non-movie related article on the topic of volunteering. Well, today, I’m continuing the tradition and writing about the behind-the-scenes inner workings of another sports event. As usual, the article will focus on my personal experience of the event and won’t be completely objective or universally truthful.

For the past week, I’ve been lucky enough to volunteer at EHF Men’s 18 Handball Championship in Lithuania. This was the first event of this kind for European Handball Federation since the new age group system has been introduced. The championship has been simultaneously held in 3 countries: Bulgaria, Georgia, and Lithuania. The winners of that part of the championship that was held in my country were the team from Israel, who won the final against Italy. The 3rd place went to Austria after they defeated the national youth handball team of The Netherlands.

After working as a team attaché for 2 weeks last year, I was quite sad to find out that I won’t be managing a team during this championship. Instead, I was supposed to be helping the officials of the EHF which seemed kinda sweet deal too. However, by the end of the first of the event, my job  became obsolete and I didn’t do much in terms of helping the local and foreign organizing committees.

Don’t get me wrong, I did enjoy the championship. I loved spending some quality time with my volunteer friends, which I only see a couple of times per year. However, in terms of the actual volunteering, I felt that I didn’t do much. I was really looking forward to the experience of working with sports professionals from an international federation, but instead, I was just kinda picking up the trash because I didn’t want to just sit there.

The main problem I had, concerning volunteering in this particular event, was the fact that there weren’t any clear lines of communication between the organizers and the volunteers and only a small portion of the volunteers actually did some meaningful work. A proper training session wasn’t held and I felt that the organizers were thinking that since all of the volunteers had previous volunteering experience, they will know what to do. I wish that they would have put more trust in us/me and actually given clearer orders. You can only do so much on your own intuition and I don’t really think that it is up to a subordinate to constantly seek for tasks. Then again, the volunteers, me definitely included, could have asked more questions. This was probably an obvious example of miscommunication and two parties not knowing what to do with each other. I will definitely learn from this whole unfortunate thing.

In the end, I can’t be that mad with the organizers because they did thank us for helping with the event and gave us commemorative gifts and Thank You notes/certificates. I did, however, felt that I didn’t really deserve any of it. Then again, I came to the championship every day and was always ready for work.

Speaking about handball as a sport – I wasn’t familiar with it at all. My background is in swimming and running, so handball was a completely new territory for me. I don’t know if I am completely sold on it as an enjoyable sport but I will definitely give it another shot – will either watch it or ask for one of my friends, who (I think) used to play handball, to teach me the basics.

Bellow, I will include some photos from the event, a picture of the volunteer’s T-shirt and the thank you gifts and any other random bits. In addition, here are the links to the pages of the European Handball Federation, the Lithuania Handball Federation, the actual event, and the Union of Sports’ Volunteers of Lithuania.

Have a great week!

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Sightseeing: Treetop Walking Path, Anyksciai, Lithuania

Sightseeing

Hello!

Moving to a different country (Scotland) really made me appreciate my home country (Lithuania) more. So, this summer, I tried my best to see more of it – especially its nature.

Hence, on Saturday, I took some time to visit the newly established Treetop Walking Path near the town of Anyksciai. It is basically a path through the forest that is raised around 20 meters in the air. The whole path is 300 meters long. At the end of it, there is an approximately 34 meters high watchtower that slightly shakes and moves when the wind is strong. Other than that, the path is completely safe to walk and enjoyable even for those who have a fear of heights.

The scenery looked gorgeous: it was lovely to see all the greenery and the river from above. I imagine that the view should also be awesome during the autumn, when the leaves turn brown and orange, or during the winter, when everything is covered by snow.

Another object that people tend to visit when they come to Anyksciai is the boulder of Puntukas. It is the second largest rock in Lithuania and is located near the beginning of the Treetop Path. Both of these attractions are surrounded by forests which are worth a visit too.

I suggest that you definitely visit the Anyksciai Treetop Walking Path if you ever get a chance. It would probably be a good idea to go there on a weekday since it was packed on the weekend. There was a 2km traffic jam/parking line just to get there. Needless to say, I did not expect there to be so much interest in the place. 

Bellow, you will find some photos from the location. Enjoy!

Swimming: Sudeikiai Open Water Marathon 2016

Sports

Hello!

This is the last short sport/swimming update post this summer. Today, I took part in the Sudeikiai Swimming Marathon and lost all my energy. Let me elaborate.

The Sudeikiai Swimming Marathon is the hardest one out of the 4 open water swims I do each summer. The weather is usually not the nicest as the marathon takes place at the end of summer. This particular lake, in which the swimming is actually done, also tends to have huge, almost sea or ocean-like waves. 

This year, the weather and the water’s temperature were both quite horrible. The waves were also way too big for a lake. It was hard to swim the first 500m (I did 2,5km distance, I could have also chosen the 5km distance) because I didn’t have a chance to properly warm up. The next 1000m were fine – not easy but not too hard or too energy consuming either. The last kilometre of the distance was the most horrible one – it was a long and losing battle against the waves. Nevertheless, I was quite proud of myself for finishing the distance in these awful conditions and I got even happier when I found out my time – it was way better than I expected or predicted.

I skipped this particular marathon last year because I had other priorities. However, I did participate in the event in 2014 and did a post on it – you can find it here.

Bellow, I will include some photos from the location of the event as well as a picture of the swimming caps that all participants got. All athletes also received free lunch, a bottle of water, and the competition’s certificate.

Cinema Camp 2016

Movie previews, Movie reviews

Hello!

On my blog, I usually post movie reviews with a few sightseeing or more personal diary-like entries about my experiences doing various kinds of stuff. Well, today, I’m combining these two types of posts and writing about my weekend, which was spent at a Cinema Conference/Camp.

This particular cinematic event was held for the 7th time and was organized by non-governmental arts organization Meno Avilys. I had a chance to spend almost 4 days in the company of various Lithuanian and foreign filmmakers and film-lovers. The topic of the conference was The Eye of The Cinema, so we focused a lot on cinematography and camera work.

The conference was held at a newly refurbished and renovated Gelgaudiskis Manor and its surrounding areas – this is where the ‘camping’ portion of the weekend comes into the picture. The majority of the participants lived and slept in tents, with the exception of the organizers and specials guests, who stayed at a makeshift hostel. The catering services were established in a school cafeteria, so the whole conference had a ‘children’s camping trip’ kinda aura. However, this aura was also mixed with the feeling of bohemia. It was a strange and long weekend.

I’ll now go through each of the days of the conference and will elaborate on the various lectures and screening I attended.

I and a few of my friends, which are also cinephiles and/or film students, arrived at a camp on Thursday evening (Day 1). After registering and settling in, we had a chance to listen to the opening lecture by the Lithuanian Film Theoretic Lukas Brasiskis on the topic of the Eye of the Cinema. I really enjoyed his presentation and agreed with the idea that the Cinematic Eye can both transform reality and help a person look into it. Afterward, we watched Dziga Vertov’s experimental film Cinema Eye from 1924. We ended the night with philosopher’s Nerijus Milerius piece on the eye and its place in the Snuff Cinema.

Day 2 started with a few workshops, where the aspiring camera operators could learn the tricks of the craft from Lithuanian cameramen Eitvydas Doskus and Vilius Maciulskis. After lunch, the director’s Audrius Stonys lecture on the ethics of documental films took place. Then, another Lithuanian director Deimantas Narkevicius showcased some of his earliest works and held a Q and A session. The day was closed with meet and greet with Polish camera operator Adam Sikora and we also watched a film he has worked on with the director Jerzy SkolimowskiEssential Killing. During the night/late evening, a Russian Rock band Megapolis performed a visual and musical homage to the Soviet films that were never made due to heavy censorship called From the Life of the Planets. I loved the idea of this performance, just wish it wasn’t held so late in the evening.

Day 3 finally saw some female professionals sharing their ideas. The Researcher of Cinema and its Visuals Natalija Arlauskaite gave a lecture on Censorship, while the art critic Agne Narusyte discussed Performative Symbols in Cinema and Photography. The third day of the event also had three of my favorite lectures/screening of the whole camp. First, the American Film Theoretic Gabriel Paletz gave a lecture on Citizen Kane and Movie Climaxes, then the great French cinematographer Agnes Godard held a Q and A gathering and we also watched a movie she made with Claire Denis – Beau Travail. Lastly, we rounded up the night with an In Memoriam assembly for Abbas Kiarostami and enjoyed his brilliant work by watching The Wind Will Carry Us, which I had a chance to study at university.

On the last day of the camp/conference (Day 4), the focus was shifted more to the new technologies and modern ways of looking at cinema. The Lithuanian artist/programmer Bartosh Polonski told the participants about virtual reality and the opportunities that the current technologies create. Before lunch, the Lithuanian director Mantas Kvedaravicius held a test screening of his documental feature Mariupolis. The cinematic weekend was closed with an open discussion/panel with various operators: the aforementioned Eitvydas Doskus and Vilius Maciulskis, who were joined by Mindaugas Survila and Vytautas Katkus.

Overall, I had a really pleasant time at this event. My background in film is tiny, so I always take every opportunity to learn about the field from the professionals who work in it. I also tend to focus a lot on mainstream films, so it was really nice to be exposed to more experimental and indie features. It was also delightful to learn more about the cinema of my own country, as I do usually watch foreign films, especially those made in the English language. I arrived on Thursday with an open heart and an even opener mind and did not regret a thing. While I might need a break from indie and experimental films , I’m certain that I will be coming back to them more often than I did before.

Thanks for reading!

Photos from the event and the location it was held in:

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Swimming: 35th Annual Swimming Marathon ‘Platelee-2016’ 

Sports

Hello!

Welcome to another short sports update post in-between the summer movie reviews!

On Saturday, I participated in the 35th Annual ‘Platelee’ Swimming Marathon. To me, personally, this was the 7th marathon of this kind. I’ve already told you about my experiences, swimming in this open water competition, in  2014 and 2015.

Plateliai lake and town have a very special place in my heart and I usually both long and dread coming back there for a variety of reasons that I won’t be getting into. Thankfully, this year, the longing part of me won and I actually had a great time. I had a chance to spend a day with my friends, which I don’t see for 9 months. I was able to make new memories, which I will cherish for many years. I had an opportunity to try out my swimming skills in freezing cold water. I, once again, overcame my physical limitations and finished the distance faster than last year and was 3rd in my age group.

The sponsors for the event were quite generous since it was the 35th anniversary of the Swimming Marathon. All the participants received commemorative glass statues, T-Shirts, stickers, and  certificates. Winners were awarded medals and cups.

I still have one swimming marathon left this year and I have already done two:  1st|2nd. Sorry for over-dramatizing the post – I’m trying out new writing styles. Bye!

Photos from the event:

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Photos of the goodies:

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Productive 24 hours

Sports

Hello!

This is another short update post which belongs to the sports category.

I wanted to quickly tell you that I participated in another charity run – this time, it was a night run organized by a newly established motivational club. The event was advertised solely on facebook and 300 people actually answered the invite and came to run. All the profits went to a charity that helps people with mental illnesses.

I enjoyed running the 5k  distance, especially because a few of my friends came to watch or to run with me. The route was located near the river so it was quite a scenic run.

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The next day, I participated in my 8th (out of 15) Lampedziai Swimming Marathon. Overall, this was probably my 26th open water competition.

The weather was not great – the sky was covered in dark clouds but, thankfully, it only started to rain after all the swimmer finished the 2km, 4km or 300m race. The water was quite warm, though.

I was quite pleased with my time – it was not great but definitely better than I expected since I no longer train as much as I used to. The next swimming marathon will be in 2 weeks.

I really enjoy the fact that my hometown of Kaunas, Lithuania is becoming more and more active when it comes to sports events. Although I only spend 3-4 months a year staying there, I still considered it to be my home, so the ideas that my city is modernizing and that its citizens do actually care about their health and fitness really please me.

My previous posts about the Lampedziai Swimming Marathon are here and here. I’ve also done a post about a different Night Run that I ran last summer.

Have a great weekend!