Friday, August 30, 2013

The Week-ender... Where are the heroes?

Unless you lived in a cave you must have noticed who were the leads in this summer's action movies, at least the leads that made money in the last few years.

Stallone, Willis, Harrison Ford, Arnold, Malkovich, Mel Gibson and a dozen more actors not only over the age of 50, but also 70 (Ford is 71). 

So where's the young heroes?

Ryan Reynolds movie R.I.P.D died, Tatum Chatham's White House Down bombed. Anyone remember John Carter? And how about the biggest bomb -- The Lone Ranger with Armie Hammer as the Lone Ranger. Depp is 50 so he's in the ambiguous zone.

So where's the young heroes?

You can consider this summer's Star Trek but it had a big cast and Chris Pine looks like he watched William Shatner scenes so that he could copy it exactly to the smile.

A feminist once referred to this new crop of male actors like Gosling, Norton, Reynolds and others as "little lesbians". It's not hard to see that everyone big action movies are looking for strong male figures they usually go to Australia (Hugh Jackman) or Brits who at least have acting skills.

Stallone is on his 3rd Expendables movie for next year and Willis is once again doing a new Die Hard. And the list goes on.

But what will happen when they get too old? Well, Clint Eastwood is currently filming the broadway hit Jersey Boys. And what about the Spanish director Manoel de Oliviera who is 101 and starting a new movie.

But here's another thought... what if there's been too many action movies, with either old or young guys?  Maybe it's time for something new, and that's definitely connected to technology that we are stumbling into now.

So what's the new movie going to be about? Any ideas?

Monday, August 26, 2013

Ben or not Ben...

By now most of you have heard or read or watched the announcement of the new Batman movie. Well, actually Batman and Superman. 

With Batman being played by non other than Ben Affleck.

And while some of Hollywood cheered (they always love the come-back kids) the real audience are the Batman/Superman fans and they are not happy. Ben as Batman? Is he better than Christian Bale who played the last few Batman movies?

Before answering that, you have to know what I think of Ben Affleck. He's considered by most in the industry as lightweight as possible. In other words he can't really carry an entire movie for one reason.

He's not a good actor. In fact really not good.

Yes, he won the oscar last winter and he acted in it too. Ben is okay when there are other actors on the screen but he's shown over and over again that he can't carry a movie. Argo had a lot of good character actors like Alan Arkin and John Goodman and Breaking Bad's Bryan Cranston. Put those guys around Ben and he manages to almost hold up his end.

In other words, Matt Damon is the talented one.

Ben has played the main character in a few movies though. He played Jack Ryan in a Tom Clancy movie, The Sum Of All Fears and it didn't do well. There was Gigli, which was a real bomb and was a sign of his future. And then Daredevil, a big action movie like Batman that bombed even worse.

So what happens to actors who don't bring in the bucks for a studio? 

Well, having Harvey Weinstein as a friend is a good thing.  Weinstein and his brother made Good Will Hunting, which was written by Ben and Matt. Of course nobody mentions that a few of the best screenwriters in Hollywood reworked the original screenplay.

But Harvey is a good friend and that's how Ben began to direct. This is quite common among actors who realize that their acting days are usually numbered. So when they're hot, many always try to get directing gigs. Even Bryan Cranston has directed Breaking Bad, when you're hot you're hot.

And so Ben directed a few movies and then found Argo. As a Canadian I was a little upset that most of the movie was made up and that the participation of the Canadian ambassador was put way in the background. In fact if the Canadian embassy didn't do what they did the consequences would have been worse.

And to thank the Ambassador for his dangerous plan, Ben didn't invite him to the screening of the movie at the Toronto Film Festival. 

So that's one reason I don't like Ben. Unless he buys one of my screenplays and then he's my best pal and most talented actor around.

Yes, we are a shallow lot, ready to sell out to the devil.

But back to Batman. What's going to happen now?

Well, for one thing the studio, Warner's, is going to introduce the actor to play Lex Luther. Remember Gene Hackman? He was great. Well, who do you think they're getting. Or do you know already?

Bryan Cranston.

But the comic book fans, and there are millions of them, are not happy with Ben for all the reasons I gave and many more. And it doesn't help that the last Superman movie wasn't that great either.

So right now you have two actors, Ben and Brandon Routh. Remember him? No? 

Then how would you like to spend $200 million dollars on both of those guys being the lead heroes?

And a fan base that already doesn't like them.

And finally, another reason I don't like Ben is that he's married to Jennifer Garner.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Ice Caves and Riding Icelandic Horses

After making our final stop in Höfn, a fishing town in the south-eastern part of Iceland, we turned around and headed back the way we came along the southern coast. We had to stop at Jökulsárlón again to see the icebergs, and this time walked on the coast to watch the icebergs float out into the open ocean. The black sand beach was littered with huge chunks of white and blue ice that had washed ashore, and it looked like some sort of sci-fi crash site. 

We really wanted to see ice caves, but didn't realize you need to go with a guide in order to see them (and doing anything with a guide is a last resort for Yuriy). Ice caves are formed when the glacier melts, so the caves are always changing and in new spots every year. When we finally called to make a reservation, the guide was all booked out and we were super bummed. We decided to look for them on our own (not recommended because ice caves can collapse), and spent most of the day hiking around the Vatnajökull glacier off the beaten path, looking for caves and anything cool. We didn't find anything huge, but saw some small ice caves on the outer edge of the glacier and felt pretty satisfied (if you're in Iceland though, I would recommend booking an ice caves tour early).

Vatnajökull is the largest ice cap in Europe by volume. The average thickness of the ice is 1300 feet and the thickest part is 3300 feet! It was mind boggling to walk on this solid block of ice that's been frozen for thousands of years and stretches as far as the eye can see. The ice cap sits on top of 3 active volcanoes, which slowly melt the underside of the ice and can cause glacial melt floods. If you look at Iceland from space, Vatnajökull is the big white mass on the lower right corner of the island. There is so much to learn and explore in this country!

Closer to town, we spent an early morning horse back riding at sunrise surrounded by beautiful Icelandic countryside and mountains. We wore full body suits provided by the rental company, and still had numb fingers. Yuriy galloped for the first time on a horse and we both wished more mornings could start this way.

We have just a couple more posts coming up... exploring the Golden Circle with new friends from Canada, and visiting the famous Blue Lagoon geothermal spa before catching our flight home.

- Julia

Our last road trip stop before turning around was in Höfn, which means "Harbor town".
Vatnajökull is the largest ice cap in Europe by volume.
Exploring around the edges of the glacier and looking for ice caves.
We saw many caves we didn't feel safe walking out towards on the ice. I can only imagine how amazing it must be out there!
Vatnajökull glacier from above.
Ice caves are formed when the glacier melts and can collapse at any time.
I've never wanted to take so many rocks home with me! Look at this one with gold polka-dots...
Large chunks of the glacier floated out to sea, and washed up on the black sand beach by the force of the ocean.
Walking on the glacier made me so nervous because it was not uncommon to hear pops and cracks in the ice as it melted and broke apart. 
In a small cave we found along the edge of the glacier. The ice is continually dripping and eroding in spots like this.

Early morning horse back riding was a dream.