i went to klea & neil's bbq party. this is the second bbq party of there's i've been to. this one i was a little bit more at ease since half of the people there were either current or former screen house employees. some of the people who showed up, i haven't seen in a long time, not since i was fired. mark was the second person to show up (and of course the first person to leave). the biggest surprise was geoff, who rarely comes down to boston. i haven't seen him since we were both fuego'd on the same day (he went into the cutting room as soon as i left it). same old geoff, just longer hair! i also saw eliza (have we met since last year? we occasionally chat on aim though, so i feel like we still keep in touch) and alison. john miller showed up, i haven't seem him in the longest time (we made an appointment to possibly meet on monday to catch up). he talked with julie and next week the three of us will embark on an afterwork run for the very first time. leave it up to david cronin to wear almost the exact same outfit as i was wearing. i'm so embarassed! (covering face) originally i planned on wearing a whitebeater, but after putting it on and checking myself in the mirror, i felt it made me look too gay so i opted for the simple orange t-shirt (it was an xs wifebeater too, and ribbed as well, so you can understand why i chose otherwise). count on julie to be all domestic and slice up some homegrown tomatoes in the kitchen to make kabobs. i had one of the vegetable/meat kabobs but i orphaned it back on the grille because i thought it was a little bit too much (i think julie adopted it when she heard what i did). and of course kimberly and her friend who is a boy damien had to arrive fashionably later than everybody else (her friend who is a boy also made the party faux pas of talking to his cellphone multiple times). i had a nice talk with them about scooters, how they haven't even riden theirs all season long. i also met david/heather's friend chris, who is also a motorcyclist, and he told me the stories of his two biking accidents that made him quit motorcycling (for now at least). klea & neil also told me that tonight would be the last time they'd be smoking and from this day forward they're quitting for real. i will believe it when i see it.

i rode the motorcycle home (nice piece of night riding), and while putting the bike into the garage, i bumped into my father and my uncle pan chatting outside in the backyard. uncle pan took the motorcycle for a little spin (they use to ride when they were young men back in taipei).

do you like swashbuckling? does the thought of two guys dueling with swords get you all worked up? does the cling cling cling of sabers clashing get you all excited? then you my friend will love musketeer, cause if nothing else, this movie's got a lot of swordfighting.

i am suddenly reminded of another swordfighting movie not too long ago, a movie that propelled the stardom of one ms.catherine zeta-jones. that movie of course is zorro. zorro's gay blade can't compare to the battling blades of musketeer, even though zorro had that one really great swordfight scene between catherine zeta-jones and antonio banderas, while musketeer has zero swordfight that involves women (a dagger hidden between one's to prevent a lecherous uncle from taking advantage of you doesn't count). oh wait, i just remembered another great chick-on-chick swordfight scene, in the mummy returns, the free-for-all between rachel weisz and patricia velazquez. yeah, that was one great scene. oh, and we mustn't forget crounching tiger, hidden dragon. that movie's all about the sword. so i guess in recent years, there's been a proliferation of swordfighting movies.

anyway, the musketeer certainly joins the rank of just such a film. the very first scene is that of a young d'artagnan practicing swordsplay with his father. after the credits, the very next scene is that of d'artagnan, now a man, getting into an atlercation at a tavern. here we the symphony of cinematic violence as choreographed by xin xin xiong, supposedly one of hong kong's best martial arts action choreographer (a point that the film's trailer isn't shy to make). the action is intense in this first fight scene, d'artagnan is more monkey than man as he jumps on ceiling and climbs walls and does all sorts of acrobatic move in the mayhem that is contemporary movie fighting. the editing however leaves something more to be desired. the action sequences are poorly lit, the action is too fast, the editing is slightly chopping (although i've seen worse), and the costumes of the people fighting are so similar (hats, boots, coats, swords) that sometimes you don't know who's fighting who.

as for the opening credit, are you kidding me? did they run out of money in producing this movie and had to get an intern to quickly make something using photoshop filters and their choice of ugly font 1 or ugly font 2? the opening credit reminded me of the opening credit of a television show, but even today you rarely see credits that amateur in appearance. i think they were going for this embroidered look but i wasn't falling for it one bit. i hope the director explains himself on the audio commentary track of musketeer on dvd, and that explanation better be because they ran out of money to make a nicer intro, because they really have no other excuse.

the casting's kind of interesting. the character d'artagnan, played by justin chambers, i've never seen him before. i vaguely remember some story that said he use to be a male model. i don't disbelieve that at all. mena suvari as constance bonacieux, i just love her and her little animal teeth! tim roth as febre, does he always play the villian? this is his second movie this summer too, the other film being planet of the apes where he is unrecognizable as general thade (but recognizeable as yet another villian -- he is typecasted for evil). tim roth played a swordfighter in perhaps the best swordfighting movie of all times, rob roy starring liam neeson. by now he should be fairly adept at swordsplay (at least on the silver screen), having done such a fine job in rob roy. and catherine deneuve as the queen of france? is she slumming? have her onboard does offer the film a certain french credibility (i think most of the cast isn't french even though it's a french tale, and don't even get me started on why everyone speaks english), but this is essentially an action movie, and her talents are rather wasted on the kind of audience that'd go see this picture.

some other random comments about the film:

  • febre, in order to coerce the queen of france to write a false letter to the emissary from england, takes a random child and threatens to kill her if the queen doesn't do as he asks. hey, what a great idea! so that's how you get things done! hey, do you think you can finish the code by tomorrow? oh, no? well, if you don't, these puppy dogs are going to die!
  • you know febre is a bad guy because he has an eyepatch. has there ever been a good guy with an eyepatch? captain ron? why is there eyepatch stigma? can society learn to love the eyepatch and those with just one eye?
  • once again, febre! so, if he only has one eye, that means he doesn't have depth perception, so how come he's still able to be such an accomplished swordfighter? maybe it's all an act, maybe he can really see out of that bad eye, and that eyepatch is actually see-through, and he does this to get sympathy from people, because he's a pretty nasty guy, but if people take pity on him, then what he does doesn't seem so bad!
so should you go see this movie? if you're a fan of action, then you'll definitely like it. if you're a fan of story, maybe you should go with a fan of action and feed off of his/her enthusiasm for the film! there is definitely a story there, and a rather complex one since it's supposedly taken from history (although i can't be sure, french history is not my strong suit). but if you're looking for a good film about court intrigue and politics, go see elizabeth. this film might try to be as sophisticated as elizabeth, but it's nowhere approaches that level (it's missing the rush factor -- geoffrey rush!), and when the smoke clears (or, when the cling cling cling of swords is over), what you have left is essentially still an action movie, albeit one with great fight sequences courtesy of the hong kong master chef xxx (xin xin xiong). this is probably where a lot of hollywood action movies are going these days. if it doesn't have the hong kong action seal of approval (whether it's in directors like john woo, action choreographer like wo ping, or an asian martial arts star like jet li), then it's no good. american made action films using hong kong expertise is red hot right now.

i went with alex wong to the beaver brook reservation in belmont prior to going to the movies. it was suppose to be a nature photo expedition, but it turned out to be rather boring. the only insect life i saw were either bees or wasps. seems like the season for entomological studies is drawing to a close. duck pond had a lot of off-season mallards and canada geese, but those aquatic birds are so mundane, they hardly interested me. however, i did see something very strange at duck pond. swimming close to the shore was something that had th body of a canada goose but the green head of a male mallard! i called it the monster mallard, because it looked like a mallard except it was twice as big and other than its head its body was colored and patterned differently from a traditional mallard duck, male or female. it actually looked kind of freakish, and i vaguely remember seeing it before (was it here at duck pond as well, early in the season?). when i got home i consulted the sibley guide to birds and discovered that it's actually a domestic version of the mallard duck, which are usually larger than their wild counterpart. why anyone would want to domesticate the mallard is beyond me. are they good eating ducks?

as for plant life, the usual: chicory, goldenrods, and what i always come to beaver brook for, the jewelweed. there seem to be a strong jewelweed population at the reserveration, to the point of weedy infestation. i showed alex how the seedcase pops open when you touch it (third person this week i've shown this to), but he didn't seem too impressed by this most unique seed dispersal system.

we had two hours to kill so we walked around the reservation in a haphazard figure 8 loop. i was suffering a little bit because my nose was runny from either a cold or allergy, and i had to wipe with my hands. (i was so relieved when i got in the car and finally was able to blow my nose with some kleenex!) maybe because our recent lack of rainfall, but the brook seemed rather drier than i remember it to be, and the small waterfall was more of a trickle than anything majestic on a lesser scale. we finished in about an hour and decided to head to fresh pond mall early so we can wander around there a little bit prior to our movie.