Friday, July 30, 2010

Inception, or: Is This Post Even Real?

Last night, I did something I love to do but haven't done in a while: I went to the cinema. (And yes, it still tickles my fancy that they call it the "cinema" here. Also, the whole assigned seating thing. But I digress.) A group of us went to see Inception, the latest from the fantastic Christopher Nolan (director of two of my favorites, Memento and The Dark Knight). I have never been happier about forking over 85DKK.

First of all, I didn't know much about the film going into it, and was apprehensive for a couple of reasons. Aside from a third grade phase of Titanic-related adoration--a movie I still have not seen--I am not one of those people who Loves Leo. I "nothing" Leo; though at one point I recall my brother and I dubbing him (somewhat unfairly) Leonardo DiCraprio. Also, since Denmark is a bit slow with movie release dates, the film has been out in most other parts of the planet for a couple of weeks now. (As my brother pointed out: "What is with that country? When is the movie coming out there, three years from now? And you guys have weird plumbing.") So although I knew nothing about the actual film, not having a television and only viewing the trailer once online, I had read enough on American friends' Facebook profiles and seen enough foreign headlines to know that this movie was "AMAZING! INCREDIBLE! OMG INCEPTION!!!!!111!!!" Such hype often leads to massive disappointment, and so I made a conscious effort to go into this movie with no expectations. And I walked out in tears.

Dom Cobb (DiCaprio) is our hero, an "extractor" paid to invade the dreams of various industry titans and steal their top-secret ideas. Dom is a pro at navigating other people's sleepland fantasies, but he's got a lady problem in the form of Mal, his late wife who bears a shocking resemblance to Marion Cotillard. She's "cray-cray" and has the problematic tendency of getting all up in Dom's subconscious and totally screwing with his missions. She seems to really enjoy gunplay.

Mal lives up to her negative-prefix of a moniker during a dream-raid on wealthy businessman Saito (Ken Watanabe). But it's sort of ok because he is in fact auditioning Dom for a much riskier job, the target of which is Saito's future rival, billionaire heir Robert Fischer Jr. (Cillian Murphy). The goal of this dangerous mission is not to steal an idea but to plant one (the "inception" of the title; love when that movie moment occurs) that will lead to the dissolution of Fischer's empire.

Dom takes on this job, because--as the best protagonists are--he is a little cuckoo for Coco Puffs, and has unresolved family issues. He assembles the classic Dream Team, starting with an architect, Ariadne (the fabulous Ellen Page). Dom teaches her how to mentally build every street, every building, every physical detail in the dreamer's world (necessary if the dreamer is to be deceived). There's also Arthur (Joseph Gordon-Levitt, still freaking adorable) as Dom's organizer; Eames (Tom Hardy) as a cheeky "forger" who can shapeshift--how cool is THAT?!; and Yusuf (Dileep Rao), who supplies the powerful drug that pulls the whole motley crew into a beautiful stupor.

As you watch, the strange beautiful world of dreaming and the rules by which it operates grow clearer: There are consequences to dying in a dream. Dream time vs. real time--you have way more time in your subconscious life. There are serious risks of layering dreams within dreams (hello, turning into a human vegetable!). And once our heroes dive head-first into this labryinth of an other world (via Cillian Murphy's subconscious), this movie--like a dream within a dream--becomes cloaked in wonderful, almost-incomprehensible layers of complexity as Dom and his merry band of crazies navigate the chambers and antechambers of a young billionaire's mind. So, just another day at the office.

I can't go into much more detail, both because I don't want to give anything away and because I can't adequately describe what I saw myself. I do know that for two and a half hours, I didn't move, except to put my hand over my mouth or cover my face or cry. I rarely enjoy a film so thoroughly as I did last night, and I do know I will see this movie again in the theatre, because I have to. It's more than worth the money, so I urge you: go see it asap, but save the beer for after the flick, full concentration is a must. And to Leonardo DiCaprio, I say: I am so sorry I ever called you Leonardo DiCraprio. You are the opposite of crappy. So undskyld, og tusind tak for en underlig, dejlig aften.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The Little Things in Life

Literally, little things. Like...a friend's awesome new puppy. Karen the pug belongs to a friend of mine and a bunch of us spent quality time watching the dog fight its reflection today. Puppies and such adorable things are excellent reasons to smile, and so I give you: Karen.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Getting back in shape

The untold horror of every dancer's summer: Getting back in shape. Facing the mirror, donning that oh-so-flattering leotard, lacing up the ballerina shoes, making the unnatural look (and feel) as natural as possible. It is, pardon my French, a bitch. But it must be done; preferably in the company of familiar faces and possibly to the dulcet tones of Lady Gaga/Trentemøller/T.I./The Bangles/Kanye West/The White Stripes/Hanson. (Aaaand now you know a good chunk of what makes up my "biking playlist," heavy on the guilty pleasures.) Technique that takes years to build up; stamina which takes months to perfect; mental tenacity and self-confidence that--for this dancer--is an ongoing battle, inside the studio and out: All magically go into excellent hiding within the first five days of being on that wonderful time known as holiday.

So. What makes it ok? Well, for this low-self-confidence ballerina child, several things. The knowledge that those probably not-so-noticeable summer pounds [read: ounces] will go away very quickly upon resuming (ab)normal activity. Good music to bike to. Still having fun and enjoying free time after that morning workout period. Ridiculous outfits worn during said morning period, just to spice things up. (For example, my uniform of late has consisted of: brightly-colored leotard, dangly earrings, boy shorts/men's underwear, a headscarf, and knee socks/ridiculously large Adidas sneakers for the bike. Because in two months, I'll be wearing a freaking ski jacket to ballerina class and yearning for the days when I could frolic about the theatre in garments meant for footballers and members of the opposite sex.) Most important, though, is to take time and enjoy the sunshine at the end of the day. It's not going to be around for long in Scandinavia, so soak it up (literally) while you can, preferably in the company of close friends, and good food and drinks, and music.

I have had one of the most wonderful summers in recent memory. Dramatic, occasionally, but I do have a flair for it; mostly, though, it has just been simply fantastic. And so, in an effort to remind myself (and whoever may read this--Hi, Mom!), some of my favorite pictures from my first full sommerferie away from home...

The fabulous, incomparable, CCBC dancer Heloise.

Burning an effigy of a witch on Skt. Hans Day. Danes' idea of a good time.

As an American, I never understood or experienced the whole World Cup fervor thing. I did this summer. What I learned: Soccer/football ain't so bad, but the vuvuzela is surely an "instrument" (I use that term oh-so-loosely!) from Satan.

One day I took my bike Lenny Briscoe for a ride and found the suttetræ, or where pacifiers go to heaven. Amazing tree, I felt like I was in a Terry Pratchett novel or a Tim Burton fairytale. Lovely.

These photos combine several favorite things: Islands Brygge; sunshine; and one of my very best friends/newly adopted older brother, Constantine.

Ah, Tivoli. Thanks to connections in the Pantomime Theatre, I can go for free--and I do love Tivoli time.

The jazz festival turned out to be quite a surprise highlight. I may be a cool cat after all!

One magical night--the random, perfect summer sort--I saw two awesome bands, one Klezmer and one Balkan (I hope I'm categorizing right). Either way, both made me want to shout MAZEL TOV! from the rooftops; as a result of this evening, my forthcoming housewarming will be bat mitzvah-themed. I'm not joking.

The Rose Festival has to be one of the happiest evenings in recent memory. Here, Constantine, an unidentified pink-wine lover, and myself, on a Nørrebro sidewalk.

Late one night on Islands Brygge, I "car crashed"--a term coined this summer due to my frequency to sleep over at my friends' apartment there (in fact, this is a rare night at home for me; it feels wrong, somehow...). My beloved Stauning and I stayed up very late making drawings and watching American Dad, and generally having a wonderful night, and we made this. Whatever "this" is.

A dejlig aften på Kongens Have with friends like Mathilde and Constantine ended with a Car Crash--and a wonderful sunset!--on Islands Brygge.

A weird, fun night out in Kødbyen led to making new friends. En dejlig aften!

SOMA with Cross Connection is so. Much. Fun.

I am fairly certain I would die without this person in my life. Or at least go certifiably insane. Tusind, infinity thanks and hugs.

Finally, these: Gaga-meets-Wonder Woman gold sparkly panties, from Royal Danish Ballet's 1950s production of Salome. Beyond having my first-day-back-at-work outfit planned, I don't know what I will wear these for, but I am certain I will find an occasion or eight.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Dulcet tones of summer...

My freckles are back with a wonderfully-missed vengeance; my skin has achieved its first legitimate tan--not a sunburn, not just some pigment; and my ears are smiling from Bonnie Prince Billy. Happy Friday, and happy summertime :o)

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Rosé Festival 2010

Sunday afternoon, I enjoyed the heat wave currently sweeping through Scandinavia with some wonderful friends on Islands Brygge--possibly the best place to soak up the sun in Copenhagen. After a couple of hours of getting ample amounts of Vitamin D, water playtime, and food, one of my best friends Constantine called to take me to something magical: an annual event, hosted by some friends of his in Nørrebro, known as Rosé Festival.

We biked to Nørrebro (one of my favorite Copenhagen areas) just after a much-welcome summer storm. And rounding the corner to Skt. Hans Gade, we were met with one of the happiest groups of people I have ever seen. Mostly barefoot, dancing in the middle of the street to jazz music blaring from speakers, this was definitely the place we were looking for. We parked our bikes and--dodging a few dancers along the way--made our way to the small sidewalk tent to get ourselves a glass of the festival-worthy stuff, and to find Constantine's friends. The sign under the tent read: "VIN 50kr, VAND 15kr" (wine 50kr, water 15kr); this is quite normal pricing for Copenhagen, so we asked for two glasses of rosé, tak. Well. Turns out it was 50kr a bottle, not glass, and the night thus began with the best-priced bottle of good rosé ever purchased in Copenhagen. We found Constantine's friends, two very fun, funny people, and spent one of the most wonderful evenings of my sommerferie dancing, drinking, and eating in Nørrebro (and of course catching a bit of the World Cup final; TILLYKKE SPAIN!) About an hour after we arrived, two more of our friends showed up; we made some new friends; we danced in the street and in the quick summer storm...suffice to say I cannot wait for Rosé Festival 2011 :-)

We got there at the beginning of a second quick summer storm. Some people took cover; and rosé bottles floated everywhere :-)

Others embraced the warm summer rain (Constantine and I later joined their ranks). Some made cute shelter outside. All were happy.

People got creative, too: Storage of rosé was ingenious, as were alternative (rhythmic) use of footwear.

Speaking of footwear, the hostess with the mostess had on a fantastic, Tinkerbell-magic pair of festive pumps. She was fun.

Sports were involved too--amateur street tennis, and professional World Cup football.

The atmosphere was infectiously free: People were rearranging license plates, we made new bearded friends...the phrase "anything goes" comes to mind.

There were even rosé awards! I don't know what for, but this guy won, to the chant of the evening: "Rosé! Rosé! Rosé, rosé, rosé!"

All in all, this was one of the most wonderful, random, crazy fun evenings of the summer. Tusind tak til alle, og til næste år...

Thursday, July 8, 2010

En DEJLIG aften med jazz, nøgenhed, og sjov!

Last night was one of those amazing, random, and wonderfully unplanned Copenhagen evenings--the sort of night that makes me love this city so much. It began at 9pm, when I dragged my sun-tired self off the couch for a free, canal-side performance by Mame's Babegenush, in Christianshavn. I hadn't really been in a going out sort of mood. But sitting next to the water with friends and a Carlsberg, in beautiful weather listening to weird, infectious "Balkan jazz," I couldn't help myself: These guys plus the amazing atmosphere (the canal and bridge were full of grinning, clapping, dancing Danes) were awesome. So awesome, in fact, that some sneaky streakers jumped in the water and swam across the canal to dance with them, much to everyone's delight.

Towards the end of the concert, we moved down to sit on a friend of a friend's boat. And ended up getting a free canal tour of Christianshavn, ending underneath Knippelsbro. I also got the best compliment of my life from a new friend: "Your face is have a holocaust in your eyes and Tivoli in your smile." We got off and made plans to go to Husets Teater in Vesterbro, to see a midnight performance of some more of this Balkan jazz. The band was called Fra De Varme Lande, or "From the Warm Countries," and they were so much fun. In a small, hyggeligt space at 1am in my favorite nighttime area of Copenhagen, I found myself smiling so much my face hurt, surrounded by giddy dancing people. It was an indescribably, perfectly unexpected "lille fredag" evening, and I am so happy still.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Solskin: A Photographic Tour of Copenhagen

In Danish, the word for "sunshine" is "solskin." Which I love--especially since I've acquired my first legitimate sunburn in years, and my sun-kissed skin is peeling off like I'm shedding some sort of weird, epidermal snakeskin. ANYWAY. Copenhagen has been bathed in the solskin lately, to the point where I feel terrifically guilty if I don't spend at least an hour outdoors, taking advantage of the vitamin D and the opportunity to regain my freckles. The city is beautiful, and I have stocked up on quite a lot of mental and real images to get me through the winter months (which could start tomorrow, you never know, so it's good to be prepared). Here are some sommerferie pictures of lovely Copenhagen, wrapped in solskin...

When everyone went to Roskilde, the normally popular Meatpacking District (Kødbyen), one of my favorite nighttime places, was totally empty. And cool, in a creepy, dead-animal kind of way.

I love Vesterbro--I am quite happy to be moving so close to it very soon!--and this is one of the reasons why: Optical illusion art on the side of a building.

Entering Nørrebro, I see one of my favorite signs, only huge-sized. Despite the reputation that precedes it, I adore Nørrebro. People need to give it another shot, I think.

When I moved here (almost a year ago, already!) my dad and I stayed on this block in Nørrebro. We passed this building, adorned with painted trees and chickens, every day. It is apparently a kindergarten. And because I would love a chicken-covered building, it is now my favorite kindergarten.

I keep my eyes peeled for weirdness at all times--I probably look ridiculous walking the streets because I constantly stop to ponder DONG Energy boxes and telephone poles and the backs of streetlights. Sometimes though, I just look up and see a cheeky, chalky creeper. See, THIS is why Nørrebro is wonderful. It's full of stuff like this.

Whenever I go to Tivoli--which is quite often, thanks to my friend's Wild Card for me!--I check the temperature. This is an emotional picture for me, because four or five months from now, I will fondly recall the days of summer, when that beautiful red neon light surged above 20 degrees...

Behind Tivoli is Central Station, and here you can see just absolute masses of bicycles. J'adore.

And in front of Tivoli's main entrance: fantastic old posters. This is one of my favorites.

My current 'hood, Christianshavn, is amazing in the summer. I will miss living in this lovely corner of Copenhagen; I take a book, with a pastry or coffee, and read by the canal all the time. And my awesome friend Constantine and I are becoming regulars at Sofiekælderen.

And there are roses EVERYWHERE. Seriously, I feel like a fairy princess; I leave my apartment and see roses bushes all over my block, I bike surrounded by these beautiful flowers and their fallen petals on the sidewalk...all that's missing is a prince and unicorns. And sometimes peanuts.

In Frederiksberg, there is a magical tree called "Suttetræ," and it is pacifier heaven.

As a former thumbsucker myself, I loved this tree...though I do hope there's not an equivalent sort of heaven for retired thumbsuckers.

Islands Brygge is absolutely wonderful in the summertime. Plus it's full of stuff like leftover railroad tracks, and old beams and tram cars and things like that. I love it.

Solskin and building remains on Islands Brygge.

Plus some of the most beautiful sunset views in Copenhagen...which, coincidentally, go really well with friends, summer salad, white wine, and jazz music by someone called "Odessa 5 goes X-Large."