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Sunday, February 22, 2015

Biopics...Biopics Everywhere

Annual all-night-up watching of the Awards Ceremony in our time zone, complete with inadequate Georgian translation dawned on me last night.
My very own Benedict Cumberbatch, the one that I liked way before he starred in all these big movies, before Sherlock reached Georgian mainstream and before MS Word stopped underlining his last name as an error, was nominated for best male performance. Oh, the time goes by so fast, my boy already nominated for the Academy Awards. Sob, sob, give me a tissue.
Truth be told, I did not expect him to win the nomination. The Imitation Game is a lukewarm biopic about a very interesting person played by a very brilliant actor. And more I think about it, more I get mad, because to have such a good cast, nice production, biography that is so interesting and to make such a mediocre film about it! Alan Turing, inventor of the Turing Machine, so mercilessly punished for his sexual preferences (chemical castration), with such a mysterious suicide (ate a poisoned apple, like in a fairy tale), so many opportunities for deep, meaningful film and what, you just give us simple story and cliché dialogue?! Please.
Thus, Ben did not receive an Oscar (because he kept reciting: “sometimes it’s people that you expect the least that do the most” or shit like that during the film), but I thought they would give it to Michael Keaton because he was brilliant in Birdman. However, they chose Eddie Radmayne for portraying Stephan Hawking and I have not yet seen Theory of Everything so I can’t comment. Reviews tell me that it is yet another biopic. Nothing too exiting.
I really enjoyed Birdman and was rooting for the cinematographer to win, since that’s what really makes the film (and Michael Keaton).  Inarritu won the best director (fine, have your award) and the film won the best pic award. Which means that Boyhood won nil.
Call me snob, call me boring, whatever, but I honestly enjoyed watching Boyhood. A film does not have to be about exploding helicopters, long takes and outrageous actors. A film can sometimes simply depict life, let you watch everyday reality of people you don’t know and as you watch them, you grow to love them and you think of you own life and find similarities. I never felt like those two hours were too long or that film lacked action. Actually, I really did not want to like it (another male coming-of-age story?! Come on!) but it was so warm, subtle, real…and the film got no awards at all.
So, an independent movie director and whole team of dedicated people spend over a decade working on this film and receive nothing. However, shallow biopics get nominated in zillion categories and The Imitation Game even wins best adapted screenplay for lines taken out of Beautiful Mind and Dead Poets Society. Oh, Hollywood.
As for the rest, Julianne Moore received best female performer award but I have not seen the film, so I can’t judge. I didn’t really care for any of female performers this year. As long as it was not Reese Witherspoon (why does this chick get nominated? How come she has an Oscar? Da fuck?!)
The song performance from Selma got standing ovation and people cried while listening, but I guess the biopic section of the Oscars was too full to honor an interesting take on Martin Luther King’s life.
Also…nobody heard of Nightcrawler? Anybody? Great script, superb acting? No?
The Grand Budapest Hotel won some awards (nothing major though), as if the film wasn't the biggest thing this year. I am a bit prejudiced here – I loved it to pieces. The Academy basically told this film “oh, you look pretty with all the make-up and production and whatnot, but nothing serious, really”.
Finally, Georgian-Estonian film Tangerines was nominated for the best foreign film, which is a great honor for us (despite all the complaints I keep writing about the Academy). However, the film was simply not good enough. Both Ida and Leviathan were infinitely better and I for one am happy that this quiet, black-and-white, seemingly simple, neorealistic film took home the award (Ida). Leviathan is great but I wonder if I exaggerate its greatness because I know the context too well.
I need to see Whiplash. Bits they showed- excellent. Also, Theory of Everything just to learn more info about Hawking. Other than that, done for the year.

It seems like last year was more fruitful…
P.S. the pic: taken from the Google search, Ben in his glory portraying Turing

Monday, February 16, 2015

Grand Budapest

I just turned 30 and sad and  Hubby surprised me with this trip. For several days we pretended that we lived in Budapest – we bought cheese at the supermarket, ate at small French restaurants, went to see new Cirque du Soleil show, visited Gellert thermal baths. We went to hubby’s personal places. He bought a shitload of new vinyls. It was very mellow. We did not even walk by the famous parliament building till the last day.
Lot has changed in Budapest – store clerks actually answer in English now. It is slowly turning into youthful party-town, with lots of interesting bars and clubs. Herds of tourists roam places that were quiet and unknown. Locals slowly start migrating away from the bars that used to be unique and underground – Szimpla Gardens for example, this bohemian artsy ruin bar, is now completely in the hands of foreigners.
At the same time, new places are opening all over the place. The party atmosphere of night Budapest creates demand for more celebration. Drunk happy people wander from bar to bar till 2-3 A.M. Local bands provide variety of music; queues form outside 24-hours gyros places (also, Budapest gyros kicks Tbilisi shaurma’s ass).
Budapest this time seemed more like Prague…except no weed dealers approach you at night and no high people smoke in the streets. Of course it is still better than totalitarian Tbilisi regime, but if Budapest wants to establish itself as young and hip and happy, some decriminalization legislation has to take place.
The service has improved markedly. Waiters smile or at least make an effort to smile. Unlike my previous visits, I got no ill-mannered service the whole time.
Budapest also became more interesting in culinary sense, with many little (or not) restaurants that offer staple European food. We visited such a cute French cafĂ© Bouchon, where I ate pate and it tasted good and I don’t even like liver.
This was a very different trip- usually we run up and down the city with a checklist, seeing this and that, always thinking of the next location to visit. Most of those locations are covered with camera-holding tourists and we have to patiently wait for our 5 seconds to take the picture with the building/monument/clock…but here, we slept in our Ikea-built apartment, walked to our hearts’ content.
And as we did that I realized that goddamnt it, I want to live like this, I want to live like this for an extended period of time, I want to feel European for more than 4 days, I want to take cities like Budapest for granted! I want to just live in those streets, just eat in un-famous local places, I want to have international friends and that I really miss studying. I miss variety in my life, I miss diversity. Recently (especially after the May 17 events) I have woven very special net of friends that include only like-minded people and I cannot force myself to socialize with people whose ideas are too different from  my own. It gives me comforts; but it also limits my world view…I need to get out…I need to hear different (but intelligent) people.
The getting-PhD-in-Europe seed has been planted, let’s see if it blooms.

 p.s. pic of historic Gellert thermal baths where I spent my birthday

Sunday, February 8, 2015


Many things prompted me to write this post. First, my hubby decided to take a lone road trip. He took off and I tried not to bother him, not to call him and not even inquire where he went. It is probably a wonderful thing, when you can take off, no responsibilities and just drive, wherever.
Second, while he was away, with drops of Jupiter in his hair, I called girls over to watch "Eyes Wide Shut", talk about female sexuality, male sexuality, fidelity, bla, bla. IMHO the film is a bit long, but it does press the issue of marital relations.
Third, my hubby surprised me with a trip to Budapest for my birthday. I like him more now.
Does marriage work? I personally believe that yes, it does. After 7 years, I came to conclusion that we do some things precisely because we are married. For example, hubby wants to disappear into the mountains of Georgia because he never has alone time. He is either at work or home with me. He does have a study room to hide, but being home in parallel rooms is not the same as being alone. However, since we know each other so well, he can go away and I will find something do with my weekend. It's this balance of staying individual while being a couple that comes only after years of committed relationship. I am confident that he is not running away from me. I am confident that he likes to travel with me. I am actually confident that his escape does not have anything to do with me - for the first time in years he had opportunity to escape without planning, without arrangements. Meanwhile, I gathered girls and we watched naked Tom Cruise.
The second advantage of marriage is feeling of comfort. I know for sure that we will spend good time in Budapest because hubby is my best travelling partner. We know each other well, and not only that, we sync, we wake up at the same time, we both like to walk, we know what bothers us and what makes us happy. Yes, sometimes I complain, and he is usually late, but despite that our vacations are very satisfying. When we return and I go back to work, not only I miss places that we've visited, i miss that wordless communication, almost telepathic connection that I have with my hubby and I am reluctant to talk to others around me, who seem so distant.
Yes, long-term relations lack excitement, flirt, uncertainty.... but that is exactly why we come up with these trips and surprises. Such things are less spontaneous, they don't just occur, commitments, mortgages, work, relatives hinder that pure longing we had when we just dated (sometimes I miss those times), but it does not mean that we can't find excitement despite all that. The approach is different, that's all. It takes more effort, but the result is different qualitatively.
 I'd like to clear up - it does not have to be a conventional marriage. And long-term is an arbitrary word. I am talking about my personal experience. I am talking about any couple who has gone over the initial crazy stage, left most of the guesswork behind and enjoys different kind of intimacy.
I guess that's what marriage is about. Learning how to stay individual and learning how to stay a couple. Enjoying being individual because you know that you're a couple.
(Also, I got bored with life and I cut my hair).
So, there.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Life Taking Over

All the sudden, I have tons of writing to do.
First, this blog. Second, my psychology blog. Third, pretty cool motivation web site that I hope will adopt me.
And I opened my fb page. And I have to put stuff up on it daily. Now I am thinking logo, no logo? Ways to improve?
So of course I have no inspiration to write anything personal.
I am wondering if I started this whole thing just to trick myself into thinking that I am doing something.
Planning conference, translating articles, giving lectures...thinking of a syllabus.
Meanwhile, next week I am turning 30. I am turning 30 and reaching some milestone, or that's what I am told.
But after all, time is arbitrary, age is arbitrary and who said that we have to have something solid by 30?
Who said we have to have a career, kids, house, car, pet? What if I prefer starting from scratch, travelling, having fun?
What if I'd rather write about psychology and provide Georgian subtitles for famous experiments?
What if I just do what I like?
 I think my biggest problem is that I am always looking for outside approval, feedback, acknowledgement.
I think that my biggest problems is false sense of entitlement that successful students get. You think you will graduate and real life will praise you for your efforts, just as those hippy teachers did in the college.
So for now I will do what I do best - get busy, give talks, write posts. And hopefully it will bring some results.
Otherwise, I am just wasting my time.