Category Archives: Generalities

RIP Roger Ebert

Every film enthusiast around the world will miss you.

You were an inspiration to me and many others. Your influence will live on.

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Two big thumps up my friend!

– N

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The Blog 2.0

After more than a month of inactivity, the humble author of this blog is happy to announce that my arduous schedule will soon be a thing of the past. By next week I will have finished my Masters in Architecture, which would give me plenty of time to practice some actual blogging and not the occasional timid attempt.
I announce, therefore, that The Blog of Big Ideas will be turning into a more serious endeavor after two struggling (though entertaining) years. I will surely be posting more often and about a greater variety of subjects that extend well beyond film.
Stay tuned, the restart and rebirth of the blog is near. For those who follow, be sure to check in next week for a brand new post.

 

Until then,

N

Temporary hiatus

As some of you that follow me may have noticed, I haven’t been quite as active lately.

There’s a lot going on in my life at the moment and I need to take care of some things before I can continue to devote time to this blog of mine.

I should come back in one or two weeks. I’ll miss all my fellow bloggers.

 

Niels

7×7 Link Award

I must extend my gratitude to a couple of fellow film bloggers,  Scott Lawlor at Front Room Cinema and Chris at Moviesandsongs365 who have extended their kindness in my direction by making me an ever more involved part of the community and handing me the 7×7 Link Award.

Without further ado, here is what the award is all about:

The rules of the 7×7 Link Award:

Rule # 1: tell everyone something that no one else knows about you

Rule # 2: Link to one of the posts that you personally think best fits the following categories: Most Beautiful Piece, Most Helpful Piece, Most Popular Piece, Most Controversial Piece, Most Surprisingly Successful Piece, Most Underrated Piece and Most Pride-Worthy Piece.

Rule # 3: Pass this award on to seven other bloggers

Continue reading 7×7 Link Award

Blog of Big Ideas’ 1st Anniversary

Today I can proudly say that The Blog of Big Ideas is celebrating its first anniversary.

It all started with a friend who planted the seed suggesting I start a blog to touch upon things I was interested in (if you are interested in Graphic Design, her blog is definitely worth checking out). As a fellow user of WordPress, she pointed out how rewarding it had been for her, no matter if anyone read it or not, having become a creative outlet from which to translate her ideas into writing. I was no stranger to her blog, and I was certainly not completely foreign to the community, but once someone pushed me to start writing and I started typing my first word on my first post, there was simply no way back.

Continue reading Blog of Big Ideas’ 1st Anniversary

Social Cinema: 9/11 (2002)

In light of the 10th year anniversary of the 9-11 terrorist attacks, I have decided to open up yet a new series in this blog of mine: Films that Matter. The goal of this series would be to discuss pieces of film that have touched upon subjects that are of relevance to the world we live in today. These films might not be ultimate works of art, but because of their content, they have a relevance that should not be overlooked.

Like I said, I would like to start this new series with a French documentary simply titled 9/11. In case you are already wary of what you are about to read, I can preview the next few paragraphs by saying that what makes this film remarkable and different from the rest is that it did not intend to be what it ultimately became. In fact, the film was intended to be a rather modest inside-look at the lives of New York City firefighters, focusing on the daily occurrences at a station that happened to serve lower Manhattan, to then quickly turn into an astonishing true recollection of a historic event.

During most of its running time, the documentary is nothing more than an hour of impressive footage. It is, without a doubt, one of the most vivid and poignant accounts of the greatest terrorist attack in history. There were no sappy moments or over rehearsed accounts of those involved, it was simply a raw and intimate look from the heroic perspective of the firefighters that were called to action that unforgettable morning.

It is by no means a polished or extremely well-crafted documentary. In fact, a good amount of the film is rather uninteresting as the two french film makers spend time documenting the lives of firefighters in Manhattan in the days prior to the tragedy. It is especially dull because we all know what to expect coming into the film, and the first part has little to do with the tragedy and more to do with understanding the inner workings of a fire station.

What the film does provide is an indelible account of the story told by the cameras of innocent survivors that found themselves in the midst of one of the most horrifying catastrophes the world has ever seen. For all of its value as a historic piece, the film remains a relatively unknown documentary and one wonders why it has. Perhaps it has to do with the over saturation of imagery and video footage provided by an infinite amount of news outlets all around the world, or maybe this is a film that is not suitable to a larger audience whether it may be for the disturbing nature of its content or because the issue remains a sensitive one to a lot of people.

What is definitely true is that “9/11” is a hair-rising, stomach-turning, incredibly horrific account of the tragedy, one that should be watched in order to realize the degree of devastation and human loss from the point of view of the true heroes of that day: fire fighters.

Niels

An internet break

To all who have ventured into the realm of my blog I just wanted to let you know that I am forced to take a break from blogging due to an always exhausting and time-consuming move to a new place, a lack of internet access at said place (for the time being) and the daily hassle of work.

I will be coming back as soon as I can with the end of my Clint Eastwood cycle as I continue with my IMDB top 250 films challenge. Upcoming reviews of movies I’ve already seen will be “The Good, The Bad and The Ugly” to finish with the top-rated Eastwood film, then the horror classic “The Thing” and the romantic classic “Casablanca”.

I will also look to continue my new series: Best Moments in Film History, and my first series of this blog of mine: Searching for the Perfect Chicago Skyscraper.

From now on, I will also be splitting my time with a second blog that will be entirely devoted to the greatest of my hobbies: soccer. For that reason, my time spent towards this blog might be reduced although I will continue to try my best to keep this blog as fresh and updated as possible even though it might be harder than it used to be.  

Until we meet again…

Niels

A view of our world through Google

As many people know already, Google has been developing their world maps using a nifty tool called “Street View” which offers a 360-degree street level imagery of our world. The tool has been expanding progressively from the great metropolises, to also show smaller towns and exotic locations.

“Street View” has now sparked the interest of “e-artists” like Jon Rafman who has explored countless of locations to find unique images. The site is 9eyes.com and, in there, you can find all sorts of incredible pictures that range from the tragic to the simply baffling.

Apparently all of the images are taken “as they are” directly from Google’s Street View and, to my amazement, I have double-checked a couple of them and they have proven to be true (unless they are some kind of elaborate hoax manufactured by the people at Google).

Follow this link to Jon Rafman’s page. Enjoy !

Note: this was taken from today’s AOL homepage….but I thought it would be nice to share some more

Niels

My early thoughts on blogging

After almost 2 months of having created this blog, I have come to realize that it is harder to keep it alive than I had previously predicted.

For me, blogging has become an exercise in writing, in artistic exploration and stimulation, but above everything else, it has become a form of self-discipline. In fact, I believe it requires a certain kind of person to keep writing when there is absolutely no pressure to write. To keep this blog alive I only depend on my own perseverance, and my desire to prevent this “e-object” I have created to fall into the very large annals of orphaned blogs that plague the web. In this sense, blogging has quickly become a part of what I do with my time, yet another responsibility of my young adult life.

Every post that has been uploaded has demanded a significant amount of time. They have all required countless updates to improve the writing, but also to make sure every post flows in an organized and intelligent manner. From my film reviews to my architecture studies, every post has required some research and self-examination. There is also a lot of self-imposed pressure to keep things interesting, fresh and rich in content and variety, which demands not only time but also a great deal of imagination.

After a promising start, I have lagged a little as of late in terms of the frequency of my posts. The intent is to keep the frequency of uploads as high as possible, but never over-doing my capacity to put out intelligent, well-written content. I think a healthy goal is to upload new posts at least once a week, if not more. Another on-going attempt to improve the quality of this blog will be to expand my horizons and touch upon a greater variety of subjects, but never forcing an issue or a theme for the sake of posting something new. Every post and every sentence has to come out of an unique desire to write and stimulate my need to be creative and feed my appetite for knowledge.

So far, I have two on-going projects that I have started and that I intent to finish whilst not sacrificing my desire to explore other subjects.

Mission to watch the top 250 films of IMDB

My goal here is to watch and share my opinions on the top rated 250 movies of the site IMDB (the internet movie database) in which film fanatics from all over the world have contributed by assigning a star rating to movies they have seen. The highest rated movies of all time are displayed in a special section in the site simply called “top 250“. For years now, it has become one of the most quoted and trusted sources to find the absolute best of cinema.

The start date for this mission was March 22nd and I gave myself a deadline of two years to view and review the 125 films I have yet to watch.

My mission comes as a fun challenge that will introduce me (hopefully) to some of the best films of the history of cinema that I have yet to see and give me the opportunity to share my opinions on them. It will be my responsibility to watch but also post a review of each one, whether it is in praise or in a disappointed tone.

So far I have seen 5 of those movies, but I have only reviewed 2: The King’s Speech and Blade Runner. The promise is to post reviews of “Casablanca”, “12 Monkeys” and “Gran Torino” in the near future while keeping up with the list.

Searching for the perfect Chicago Skyscraper

Perhaps a bit more challenging than the previous goal given the fact that it has proven to be a bit more intellectually demanding. The series has now 3 parts and will probably end up having around 10.

So far I have analyzed some architecture failures in the city that saw the birth of the skyscraper, but I have also managed to shed a light on some of the great accomplished high-rises that have permeated the city in over 100 years of history.

I do not know how this series will develop exactly, but I hope I reach some sort of surprising conclusion in which I either select my so-called “perfect” Chicago skyscraper, or I establish a rich encyclopedia that sets the base for what represents good high-rise architecture and which might be the best examples of that in Chicago.

To find my series, go into the “architecture section” of my blog

Niels

2 years with Arcade Fire

I was first introduced to Arcade Fire through an ex. I am not exactly sure when, but I am pretty sure it was in his car heading to God knows where. My ex had the habit of stashing a big pile of CDs in his car, some of which would often end up in the floor, hiding bellow the seats or even falling as we opened the doors. As avid fans of Radiohead and anything that has had any relation to the band at any level, my ex and I often agreed in terms of music taste. While his music preferences had started to evolve away from alternative rock and more towards indie-dance, he still kept a small selection of indie-rock within his stash. Among them was Arcade Fire and the CD of theirs he would so casually pick was Neon Bible, their sophomore LP.

There was something about the music that I listened to that day that immediately intrigued me. It wasn’t exactly love at first sight, but there was enough in my first few listens to drive me to continue to listen with increasing affection. After a week or so, I remember Arcade Fire’s Neon Bible had become a customary part of all of my car rides, even when my ex was not exactly thrilled about my new-found love given that his liking for the band had begun to subside.

In Neon Bible, I would find solace in its profound lyrics, embedded with layers of meaning that accompanied me through my break-up (it had nothing to do with my dictatorial control over music, just in case you’re wondering….). Songs like “Black Wave/Bad Vibrations” or “Antichrist Television Blues” just had an intrinsic quality to them that moved me, often taking me to a place of sadness, but also of inspiration.

Fittingly, my ex was also responsible for the introduction of Arcade Fire’s Funeral, a few months after we had consummated and even accepted our separation. It turns out he gave me the band’s first album as a “gift” in an attempt to make amends and salvage at least a friendship out of our long relationship. I accepted his gesture and, to this day, I hold on to his CD, although the gesture did not pan out to be more than our last musical exchange, a memoir to a relationship that wasn’t meant to be.

Funeral, as he had told me many times, was a better album. For as long as I kept listening to Neon Bible, I simply had refused to expand my horizon into what sounded to me, after very short listens, as a far more pedestrian LP. It wasn’t long in my new found solitude that I found a friend in Funeral, an even better friend than Neon Bible. The album was simpler, with less grandiosity but far more meaningful songs that bordered on the “simply gorgeous” stature. The first and best song “Neighborhood (Tunnels)” painted a picture for me like few songs ever have. This was a picture of nostalgia for childhood, for family and for a long lost love. Like the rest of the album, “Neighborhood” was coated with an aura of sadness and unfulfilled desires that I related to. Funeral, unlike its follow-up, allowed the band’s front man Edwin Butler to excel with his tuneful but always nostalgic voice, never truer than in the gloomy “Crown of Love”.

As it was the case in Neon Bible, Funeral leaves some of the best for last. While the first had the grand but effective “My Body is a Cage”, Arcade Fire crowned the exquisite Funeral with the beautiful voice of Butler’s wife, Regine Chassagne, in the introverted and meaningful “In the Backseat”.

It would be a long while before I had the chance to put my hands on new Arcade Fire material since, once again, I found myself trapped by one of their albums and I was reluctant to explore beyond, perhaps wary of possible disappointment. Nevertheless, my desire to listen to new tracks eventually dissipated my doubts and I downloaded (legally I might add) their third and last LP to date: The Suburbs.

Once again, I was pulled into a world of powerful lyrics, with moving melodies that ranged from the grandeur exhibited in Neon Bible, to the more quaint and simple quality of Funeral, but also introducing a type of in-your-face rock side to their music they hadn’t shown much of. Some songs were truly refreshing and different within their brand of music, while others were familiar but even more polished and triumphant than in their previous work.

The Suburbs is, in their relatively young career, THE album that every indie-rock band wants to make. The album is the evolution of their brand, taking the very best qualities from their previous two efforts and putting them all together to create a repertoire that could easily end up being their “magnus opus”. In fact, it is hard to think of an album by their making that could reach superior heights, but then again, they have always managed to surprise me.

From the very first track that bears the title of the album, passing through “Modern Man”, “City with no Children”, “Deep Blue” and “We Used to Wait”, the album remains steadily great, rarely encountering weak moments that are more commonly found in either Funeral or Neon Bible. It is on that consistency of sound, of being able to grab, keep and elevate your attention that The Suburbs feels superior than anything I have heard for a long time.

I can only say I hope more of the same comes and that Arcade Fire remains at the same level, never settling for less and, even though I am doubtful about their ability to continue to outdo themselves, I can at least hope for more high-quality albums that deserve all of my love and attention.

Niels