Sunday, December 18, 2011

Looking for Eric (2009)

Looking for Eric

An on-going discussion regarding the best movie watched in 2011, Looking for Eric is likely the one. This was a year of excellent movies viewed, including Up, Whip It, The King’s Speech, Mary and Max, Bridesmaids, Beginners, Boy (a very close second), Exit Through the Gift Shop (a near tie with LFE), Fish Tank and TiMER), so why does Looking for Eric stand out?

You experience every emotion as you watch. Looking for Eric delves into depression, camaraderie and friendship, love lost, complicated family issues, divorce, redemption, honesty, new love, violence, sports, lost dreams and discovering you can change a lousy existence.

Our postal carrier protagonist Eric (Steve Evets) is a broken man. Two failed marriages, two unruly step-sons and three decades of regret. Eric keeps his mess to himself, that is until he starts having visions of his favorite footballer—former Manchester United player Eric Cantona. Cantona pushes Eric to revisit the mistakes he’s made and share his struggles instead of keeping them to himself. He encourages Eric to own up, open up and make changes.

This is a complex and layered story as Eric holds onto a huge regret that he cannot surpass. He has a miserable relationship with his two step-sons, Ryan (Gerard Kearns) and Jess (Stefan Gumbs). The only sunshine in his life are his daughter, Sam (Lucy-Jo Hudson), his granddaughter, Daisy (Cole and Dylan Williams) and his favorite team Manchester United and footballer Eric “King Eric” Cantona. As the world conspires to push Eric out of his comfort zone with his step-son, Ryan, his first ex-wife Lily (Stephanie Bishop) who he hasn’t seen in 30 years and a local thug, Zac (Steve Marsh), who threatens his family, Eric will come out transformed but will he find himself and win back his life? (Tip: View with subtitles to ensure you don’t miss any of the good stuff. Otherwise, they speak 2 fast, 2 furious, and with very strong accents.)

Director: Ken Loach

Country: UK

Genre: Drama + Comedy

Run time: 116 minutes

Scale: 5

Cold Weather (2010)

Cold Weather movieProtagonist Doug (Cris Lankenau) drops out of college where he studied criminal justice and forensic science. He’s back in Portland, Oregon, and moved in with his gainfully employed (though you never learn what she does) sister Gail (Trieste Kelly Dunn). Unsure what he’ll do next, Doug secures a job at an ice packing factory and befriends Carlos (Raúl Castillo), my favorite character.

When Doug’s ex-girlfriend Rachel (Robyn Rikoon) visits Portland, the foursome become fast friends. When she disappears, Doug leads the investigation. I liked tagging along as they search for clues and make discoveries in Portland, but the way they determine Rachel is missing is far-fetched.

Cold Weather takes its time (which isn’t a bad thing) but the mystery they solve is underwhelming. It’s not clear much was solved. It ends abruptly and has a feel-good sibling-bonding moment. Gail and Doug relate to each other more like a couple rather than siblings. I enjoyed Carlos and Doug’s friendship. Rachel was the least compelling; consequently, so was her disappearance. They should have explored something at the Star Trek convention instead.

Co-writer/Director: Aaron Katz

Country: USA

Genre: Mystery

Run time: 96 minutes

Scale: 2.75

Monday, December 12, 2011

TiMER (2009)

TiMER

TiMER explores the technology of implanting a wrist timer that counts down to the exact moment you will meet your “one,” but only if your one has also been implanted. Otherwise, your timer will be blank (until your one gets a timer). Some don’t believe in timers; others like the idea of no struggle, no guessing, no chance of spending years with the wrong person and no divorce.

Determined, organized and goal-oriented Oona (Emma Caufield) doesn’t waste time; early into relationships, she coaxes her boyfriends into getting timers because, as she puts it, “we’re not getting any younger.” Her step-sister and best friend Steph (Michelle Borth), age 30, same as Oona finds out she won’t meet her one for 13 more years. The irony is that their 14-year-old brother gets a timer and learns he’ll meet his one within the week.

When Oona meets younger Mikey (John Patrick Amedori), a delicious cashier whose timer has him meeting his one in four months, she rethinks her strident view. Steph meets someone who has her pulling the plug on her one-night-stands. Both are in store for a big mess.

TiMER has an open-ended conclusion. Just like in real life, it feels like it will be problematic before it gets better. The details make this film—the social commentary diagrams the obsession behind finding the one. Characters re-wear clothing, engage in genuine-sounding dialogue and deal with relatable conditions and throw in some humor.

Writer/Director: Jac Schaeffer

Country: USA

Genre: Romantic dramedy

Run time: 99 minutes

Scale: 4.5

Due Date (2010)

Due DateHow does driving from Atlanta to LA become so complicated?

Planes, Trains and Automobiles this is not. Ethan Tremblay (Zach Galifianakis) is the even-keeled hero who helps Peter (Robert Downey Jr.) get kicked off a plane but also offers to drive the wallet-free, penny-less Peter get to LA for the birth of his child.

Hijinks follow and at every step of the way, Peter is angry and unlikeable. The gags are mean-spirited and gross. There was little to grab onto here. The cameos by Jamie Foxx, Juliette Lewis and Danny McBride offer some relief from the two’s vexing bickering, but these respite moments are short-lived before we are again confronted with a road trip movie that took a left at Gone Wrong Lane.

Usually a fan of Downey Jr. and Galifianakis, I couldn’t take Peter’s irritability and Ethan’s naiveté for 98 minutes. My favorite character was the French bulldog but even he couldn’t make it better.

Director: Todd Phillips

Country: USA

Genre: Comedy (with some shards of drama)

Run time: 95 minutes

Scale: 2

Horrible Bosses (2011)

Horrible BossesThree friends hash a plan to get revenge on their sadist bosses and secure themselves decent work environments, but their poorly hatched plans crumble immediately.

Kurt’s (Jason Sudeikis)comb-over coiffed boss Bobby (Colin Farrell) is a cokehead constantly looking to score blow and to just score. Bobby’s late father favored Kurt and Bobby can’t stand him. Dale (Charlie Day) is sexually harassed daily and is having a hard time not getting blackmailed to sleep with his boss, Julia (Jennifer Aniston). Nick (Jason Bateman)has been goaded into working untenable hours and going against his ethics to secure a promotion from his boss, Mr. Harken (Kevin Spacey); Harken later secures himself the job.

In summary: Farrell is under- and ill-utilized. Jamie Foxx is amazing as the hit-man consultant. The ass clown trio have their moments of humor when they aren’t unimaginably stupid. Spacey is too sinister for the lot and could annihilate all three at once with a mere stare—he’s that nefarious. Aniston is different than her usual happy-go-lucky girlfriend character, but I wasn’t impressed. She plays a one-dimensional horn-dog. If that’s branching out, it’s lame.

After all the hubbub it received, I expected more. Horrible Bosses just felt wrong and in the end was a disappointed.

Director: Seth Gordon

Country: USA

Genre: Comedy

Run time: 98 minutes

Scale: 2

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Frygtelig lykkelig (Terribly Happy) (2008)

Following a disturbing personal incident (of which you don’t learn details right away), policeman Robert (Jakob Cedergren) is relocated from Copenhagen to small town Skarrild as punishment. The insular town folk behave as if they are keeping a secret from Robert. Terribly Happy

The situation escalates after Robert meets Ingerlise (Lene Maria Christensen), a tormented woman in an abusive marriage with an alcoholic psychopath. Ingerlise and Robert’s attraction is palpable, but Robert tries to keep it professional. As he discovers, Skarrild has a code: They solve their issues without the interference of law enforcement.

At times, Frygtelig lykkelig plays like a Western, as Robert and cowboy-hat-wearing Jørgen (Kim Bodnia), Ingerlise’s husband, go head to head. As we learn what Robert is capable of, this psychological thriller keeps peeling back the layers. You see in detail the disturbing cycle of physical violence in an abusive relationship. There is an especially chilling scene where Ingerlise goes back to Jørgen; her expression during this moment is haunting.

Good versus bad is upturned. The odd characters are hiding  cemeteries in their closets. The movie’s tone toys with your subconscious moral code, creating a discomfort, yet, you remain engaged. It hooks you with one disaster spiraling into the next. It’s like this: Picture you are being chauffeured by a driver who starts recklessly maneuvering. You suddenly don’t trust him, but it’s too late—he’s doing 100 in a 70. He starts laughing and announces that the brakes aren’t working. You are there, you are alert, you are his.

Writer/Director: Henrik Ruben Genz

Country: Denmark

Genre: Thriller

Run time: 90 minutes

Scale: 4

Sunday, December 4, 2011

The Descendants (2011)

The DescendantsGeorge Clooney will likely be crowned for his performance here. Despite not belonging to the diehard Clooney Fan Club, he deserves recognition. In the past, he’s struck me as beautiful but with little range. In The Descendants, he finds emotional range beyond what he gave in Up in the Air (which was good). His conflicts, his frustrations and his I’ve-no-clue-what-the-hell-to-do moments show us the black, the white and the greys.

Matt King (George Clooney) is a thrifty lawyer entrusted with pristine Hawaiian land that’s been in his family for decades and will soon be sold for development. His wife Elizabeth (Patricia Hastie) is on life support following a boating accident. Having been disconnected with the family (presumably working), he has little relationship with his two troubled daughters. Younger Scottie (Amara Miller) is a bully; Alexandra (Shailene Woodley) at boarding school is getting drunk and hitting golf balls (allegedly, she’s more troubled in the book).

The Descendants was adapted from the Kaui Hart Hemmings novel. I have it on good word that the movie was thinned way down. This is a story about a daughter and a father finding each other in the fallout of a failed marriage and the hard truths they uncover. The trust backstory isn’t as interesting as the dynamics between Matt and Alexandra and their sleuthing. (The magnificent Woodley steals the screen). It’s tragic. It’s funny. It’s also a wee predictable with a good dose of feel good. Scottie and Alexandra’s friend Sid (Nick Krause) are extraneous characters who contribute little to moving along the plot.

Co-writer/Director: Alexander Payne

Country: USA

Genre: Drama

Run time: 115 minutes

Scale: 4

Allt flyter (The Swimsuit Issue) (2008)

The Swimsuit Issue

Allt flyter tackled the dramatic rendition of the documentary Men Who Swim about Sweden’s all-men synchronized swimming team. They start the team of nine on a lark and soon possess the goal of representing Sweden in the Olympics.

Crank Fredrik (Jonas Inde) gets the idea to start the team. He’s a sporty guy but not one whom you want to spend much time. His teenage daughter, Sara (Amanda Davin) has a difficult time with him. Their relationship is transformed when he asks her for help training the team; she becomes their coach.

Watching them on their journey builds suspense and empathy. They are passionate about succeeding; even ribbing doesn’t deter them. Fredrik and Sara bond and you get a curve-ball at the end. Allt flyter takes it’s time telling its tale. You don’t get  get to know much about the teammates outside of the swimming and their shared goal.

Co-writer/Director: Måns Herngren

Country: Sweden

Genre: Dramedy

Run time: 99 minutes

Scale: 3

Thursday, December 1, 2011

I Love You Phillip Morris (2009)

Jim Carrey opposite Ewan McGregor, as love interests? Indeed and it works very very well.

Steven Russell (Jim Carrey) is a good man. He sings at church. He’s around for his family. He’s a cop and his wife Debbie (Leslie Mann) couldn’t be happier with her luck in landing him. After a near-They Meetfatal car accident, Steven decides to stop wasting time and embraces his true lifestyle. It’s working for him until his extravagance catches up with him and he ends up in prison, but this doesn’t stop him. He’s is an intelligent con man able to escape from prison (four times), talk his way out of and into anything BUT he’s also a hopeless romantic who risks it all for love: first for Jimmy (Rodrigo Santoro) and then for Phillip Morris (Ewan McGregor).

This is a peculiar movie with switchbacks you don’t see approaching. It’s complex, heartfelt, humorous and savvy—like a gay Catch Me If You Can. An incredible story with an ironic twist. Carrey is stellar. McG is among my favorites but Carrey carries ILYPM. Before viewing the trailer, I thought ILYPM was related to the cigarette maker. It’s actually based on a book about Steven Russell called “I Love You Phillip Morris: A True Story of Life, Love, and Prison Breaks,” by Steve McVicker.

Co-writers/Co-directors: Glenn Ficarra, John Requa

Country: USA

Genre: Dramedy

Run time: 102 minutes

Scale: 4

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Eavesdropper: Patient 14 (2004)

Eavesdropper--most interesting characterThis is the worst movie I’ve seen in a long time. Awful acting, no genuine affinity between characters and a convoluted storyline round out the problems in this cinematic mess.

Liza (Lucy Jenner) loses her hearing during a tragic shooting. Her life downward spirals and she ends up in a homeless shelter. She regains her hearing through an experimental government study and scores the ability to “hear” what people are thinking. At the same time, the other study participants are losing their minds and committing suicide.

A story where you can “hear” what the people around you have cooking in their inner monologues sounds intriguing, but not here. Liza attracts the attentions of Grant (John J. York), the shelter social worker. They’d developed a friendship before she got her hearing back. Now, she can “hear” how much he likes her. There are laughable moments in what are meant to be serious scenes.

When CIA operative Aiden (Costas Mandylor) gets Liza work (“listening” to a serial killer to learn where his victims are buried and negotiating in a school hostage situation), the movie teases you into thinking it’s about to become interesting, but again, no.

Liza is overwhelmed by all the voices. She and Grant start dating. Grant looks like an ‘80s country star and his inner monologue reveals he’s not bright. Aiden looks straight out of American Psycho. Aiden gives Liza silver earrings that “block” her ability to hear the mind talk of others. This provides Liza great relief. Grant has no idea about the effect of these earrings; he gets jealous and gives her a pair and they are hideous.

The plot includes every tangled-up detail that only adds to the distance between you and this joke. The acting is so affected and over the top, I cannot recommend Eavesdropper under any circumstances. I want my 95 minutes back.

Writer/Director: Andrew Bakalar

Country: USA

Genre: Thriller

Run time: 95 minutes

Scale: 1

Rabbit Hole (2010)

Rabbit HoleRabbit Hole is another movie about death (but with a sense of humor). It tells the story of a what happens to a happily married couple when their young son dies.

Becca (Nicole Kidman) and Howie (Aaron Eckhart) are keeping a normal front but in the safety of their own home, things aren’t good. Controlled Becca is trying to find ways to ease the pain of losing her son. Howie’s desire to move on with their lives unnerves her. They try a grief group but that further divides them. Becca s mom, Nat (Dianne Wiest), annoys her daughter. Becca avoids her former friends. It isn’t until she finds comfort with the most unlikely of allies, Jason (Miles Teller), that she begins to her transformation.

The surprise is how well they filmmakers constructed this story about death. Kidman is excellent. Becca is so unlikeable from the start, even knowing what we know about her situation. Then, she begins to blossom and we reluctantly release the empathy.

Kidman was nominated for heaps of awards for her role. Rabbit Hole is based on a play by David Lindsay-Abaire. See it.

Director: John Cameron Mitchell

Country: USA

Genre: Drama

Run time: 129 minutes

Scale: 3.5

El Secreto de sus ojos (2009) (The Secret in Their Eyes)

El Secreto revisits a crime against the backdrop of an unanswered love situation from decades earlier.el-secreto-de-sus-ojos

Retired investigator Benjamín Esposito (the terrific Ricardo Darín) starts writing a book about the most memorable unsolved crime of his career—the rape and murder of Liliana Coloto. This project also gives divorced Esposito a chance to reconnect with his former colleague and department lead Irene Menéndez Hastings (Soledad Villamil), a woman he’s been in love with for years.

Told in flashbacks alternating with present, the film does well aging the characters so you aren’t distracted when switching from past to present. As Benjamín revisits the case facts and re-interviews those closest to the victim, he hits upon new leads that will bring him back to that troubled time. We also learn about his life and struggles and also the tragedies he experienced during the original Coloto investigation.

El Secreto hooks you from the beginning and doesn’t let you go until the end. Benjamín smolders on-screen and the chemistry between him and Irene is palpable. My only issue is that I thought the makeup on the aged Ricardo Morales, Liliana’s widow, wasn’t as good as that of the others. The ending is mostly surprising.

Adapted from the novel “La pregunta de sus ojos,” by Eduardo Sacheri, El secreto de sus ojos won the 2010 Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film.

Co-writer/Director: Juan José Campanella

Country: Argentina

Genre: Drama/Thriller

Run time: 129 minutes

Scale: 4

Footloose (2011)

footlooseSurrounded by teenagers slumped in their seats, making out and giggling, I sat in the nearly full small Mt. Vernon theater.

I remember little from the original except its intensity juxtaposed with manic dancing. This remake is predictable but it possesses an entertaining pulse. The male lead (played originally by Kevin Bacon) has charisma as does his wing-man.

When tragedy strikes small town Bomont, Texas, the city council enact a public dancing ban. The Reverend Shaw Moore (Dennis Quaid) is particular adamant as his son was one of the teenagers killed in the accident (the accident being the catalyst for the ban). This leaves his daughter, Ariel (Julianne Hough), crushed—she’s lost her brother and can no longer dance. The teens in Bomont are mental about public dancing—in parking lots and abandoned buildings. Good-girl-on-strike Ariel lies and gets what she wants. When Boston boy Ren MacCormack (Kenny Wormald) relocates to the small town after his mother’s death, he rebels against the Draconian rules, causing ire and decent in the Rev’s home. He sparks her interest but it won’t be that easy. He wants her, she’s dating the dumb rich hothead. (You know where this goes.)

Ren’s sidekicks, Willard (Miles Teller) and Woody (Ser'Darius Blain), are noteworthy secondary characters, especially Willard—he’s hilarious as the cowboy lacking the two-step gene.

Andie MacDowell as Vi Moore has a small role as the reverend’s wife who comes through for Ariel; I couldn’t take my eyes off her forehead, between her brows where a peculiar bumpy area looked like Botox gone wrong.

Footloose redux is fluffy and predictable, but if you have been stricken by the dance craze gripping our nation, you might be tapping your toes here.

Co-writer/Director: Craig Brewer

Country: USA

Genre: Drama

Run time: 113 minutes

Scale: 2.75

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Okuribito (Departures) (2008)

Departures

An unemployed cellist stumbles upon a new career. Departures might makes you cry one minute and laugh the next. It shows how a man  be opposed to an idea only to discover it’s exactly what he needs.

Daigo (Masahiro Motoki) dreams of being a renown cellist but is dashed when his orchestra disbands. He’s left unemployed and in debt on his world-class cello. On a lark, he suggests to his wife, Mika (Ryôko Hirosue), that they move from Tokyo back to his hometown; where his mother passed on and left him the family home two years prior. Mika is on board and they start over.

He finds a cryptic help-wanted ad, applies and is hired on instinct. As an encoffiner, he prepares dead bodies for burial. Daigo faces many obstacles—the job isn’t easy, you can never predict death and he is shamed for his profession (so much so he doesn’t confess his job to Mike right away). Eccentric Ikuei (Tsutomu Yamazaki), Daigo’s boss and mentor becomes a father figure and through him, we learn Daigo has complicated feelings toward his own father.

The burial ritual is lovely. The body is cleansed and dressed and the family bids farewell. The survivors’ reactions reveal the conflicted relationships, complex issues and unresolved feelings left in the wake of death.

Departures is a serious (and comedic) movie about death, finding your path and excelling despite the pitfalls you encounter. It won many awards including the Oscar for Best Foreign Film of 2009.

Director: Yôjirô Takita

Country: Japan

Genre: Drama

Run time: 130 minutes

Scale: 5

Savor Seattle Pike Place Market Food & Cultural Tour

I love getting lost in my city. An excellent time to embark on this is with out-of-town visitors. I recently entertained such visitors from the fair city of Chicago. When Stacey mentioned the Savor Seattle tour with nine stops in and around the Pike Place Market, I was sold.

We met the tour at the Starbucks facing the market at 1st and Pine. Tour guides Brett (two T’s, no N) and Mark welcomed us and had us make introductions and mention our favorite food.

Daily Dozen Donut CoThe tour began at the Daily Dozen Donut Company.

These pint-sized delights are bagged and still warm as each one hits your palate. If you haven’t yet tried—make the trip.

Next stop was Market Spice. If you need spice in your life, get yours here. When you buy your spices off the grocery store shelves, you don’t know how long they have sat. In some cases, it’s years. This means you aren’t getting the full-on flavor boost of freshly collected and ground spices. Market Spice offers a massive variety of spices, tea and coffee at competitive prices. And, they have teas to sample.

If there is one place out-of-towners must see, it’s the fish mongers at Pike Place Fish. (Some 40-somethings may remember the Levi’s commercial that featured the fish throwing at Pike Place.) If you are a college kid visiting Seattle to attend the Huskies v. Arizona game and you get a chance to throw a fish, such as this young Arizonian did, you get into the spirit (he caught it too):

100_7590

Mmmmmmmm...lobster

At Frank’s Produce, we sampled apples and pears. Brett taught us to select the perfect eggplant—look for the male—the one with the round Brett of Savor Seattle dissecting eggplant sciencebellybutton versus the line. (The eggplant with the line is the female and contains more seeds.)

We stopped at Pike Place Chowder where the clam chowder and seafood bisque were so amazing that they’ve been inducted into the Hall of Fame. If you like cherries—dried, chocolate-covered, in salsa and jams—Chukar Cherries does it all and they do it naturally. At Beecher’s Homemade Cheese, we savored Gouda, Cheddar and the creamiest award-winning Macaroni and Cheese that even Oprah chose as one of her Favorite Things of 2010. Mac and cheese doesn’t ring my bell, but I licked the cup when I was done with my sample. At Piroshky, Piroshky, we sampled a meat and a sweet piroshky. The savory was my preference; I bartered the other one for another meat despite being stuffed. That didn’t stop me from eating the crab cakes at Etta’s Seafood Restaurant, our last stop. Tom Douglas is a culinary genius.

This tour is a winner for tourists as well as Seattle residents. Brett and Mark were excellent hosts, even if Brett was upset at being upstaged by the warbler during the Piroshky, Piroshky stop.

The Warbler

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Jimmy Fallon Busts a Move as Justin Bieber Performing “(It’s Not My) Baby”

jimmy-fallonI keep hearing about Jimmy Fallon and his talent as an impersonator.
The SNL alumnus has been resilient—his show continues on its strong simmer for nearly three years since inception. As you will see, he can dance, he can sing, he can take the piss.
After watching this parody, I have fallen. Drink the Kool-Aid and join Club Fallon with me. You don’t really have to drink it…just watch the video.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Drag Me to Hell (2009)

Christine's Nightmare in Drag Me to HellNo one does camp like Sam Raimi. Drag Me to Hell is his return to horror and he orchestrates it with relish. The movie is outrageously over the top—equally frightening, disgusting, shocking and hilarious. He works a been-there-done-that plot into an edge-of-your-seat thriller, an homage to horror movies of the ‘80s and ‘90s.

Ambitious loan officer Christine (Alison Lohman) is vying for the assistant manager position at her bank. When a desperate Sylvia Ganush (Lorna Raver) requests a loan extension, boss-man Mr. Jacks(David Paymer) advises Christine to use her judgment. Not wanting to appear soft, she denies the request. Ganush begs but is escorted from the bank. She casts a vicious spell on Christine. Now, Christine has three days to right her wrong or she will be dragged to hell.

The plot isn’t unique but the special effects make you squirm and gag. There are maggots, flies and the spilling of gross mystery fluids. The disturbing sounds of creaking, squishing and clanging haunt you. Even the daytime scenes are intense. The fright levels build at each scene as the malevolent lamia spirit stalks Christine.

Lohman’s Christine is brilliantly cast—vulnerably innocent, yet able to carry out terrible deeds. She transforms from a woman working on her diction to one who digs up graves in record speed. Her most memorable line in response to the medium’s suggestion she make a blood sacrifice to appease the spirit, a small chicken perhaps:

“I’m a vegetarian. I volunteer at the puppy shelter, for Christ’s sake.”

You will agonize each time the lamia comes for Christine because it feels like it’s coming for you. The ending is a visual coup.

Co-writer/Director: Sam Raimi

Country: USA

Genre: Horror

Run time: 99 minutes

Scale: 4

Monday, October 31, 2011

Thread Show Seattle (10.23.2011)

Thread Show photographer Georgia EsporlasThe awaited Thread Show—a fashion extravaganza at Seattle Center’s Fisher Pavilion—brought designers and trend-lovers together for a day of shopping, do-it-yourself activities and simply celebrate fashion.

The day kicked off cloudy and gray with the possibility of lingering gloom. Upon arriving early to the show as instructed to get VIP entry (and the coveted goodie bag), we were brusquely turned away due to it being “too early.” Okay, okay, take it easy.

When we asked what time the fashion show was to kick off, we were crushed to hear it wouldn’t happen and hadn’t happened for years now. But the initial intro to the Thread customer service mavens was underwhelming. We left to get some breakfast and upon return, the event moved along smoothly.

Aveda booth at Thread Show SeattleThe event was smaller than expected but having not previously attended, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Is it because Seattle is known as a poorly dressed city? Regardless, the show was vibrant and energetic. A DJ spun tunes just inside the entrance. Aveda offered complimentary hair straightening and curling as well as a hot pink extension for $10.

A zealous attendee posing with fantastic jewelry maker at Thread Show Seattle

Ladies showing off their hats at Thread Show SeattleJackets, paintings, cards, all types of jewelry, tiny hats à la Royal Wedding style, coats, t-shirts, stuffed toys, hats, bags, belts, gloves. You name it, they had it. It provided an excellent opportunity to support local, independent designers and view the goods they are creating to motivate others to get cracking or at the least keep their merchandise moving.

The clothing swap area was so-so initially and then the pieces exploded. Trading what you aren’t wearing and picking up new items is FUN. This area needs to be expanded for next year. The bar was intimate but provided atmosphere while taking a break.

What could be improved: Improve upon the goodie bag (don’t fill it up with chips and energy bars). Add a fashion show. Offer it twice a day. Allow the models to display items the vendors are selling. Give attendees seats to relax and take it in. Provide couches for the tired friends, husbands, partners.

I’ll be there next year. You’re next, LA. Enjoy!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

All-Star Tribute to the Replacements @ The Comet (10.21.2011)

Replacements tributeThe Replacements bring back fond memories. I consulted the ticket-stub collection (just for you, Andy). I saw them three times in quick succession during their Please to Meet Me tour on August 7, 1987, at the Riviera in Chicago; on Sept. 16, 1987, at the SIU Student Center Ballroom in Carbondale, IL; and on Sept. 17, 1987, at the Athletic Complex at Washington University in St. Louis, MO.

Favorite albums (yes, I said albums…I am old) by the Minneapolis band from most beloved to just beloved (FYI, there are seven plus a live recording that released only to tape):

  • Sorry Ma, Forgot to Take Out the Trash
  • Let It Be
  • Tim
  • Pleased to Meet Me

When I saw the City Arts Fest tribute show to The Replacements, featuring members of The Fastbacks, The Cops, Virgin Islands,Who is this? Kinski, Fort Union, Concourse d'Elegance, Cataldo, Kyle Bradford, Ben Fisher, Gabriel Mintz and John Roderick, I said, sign me up.

The crowded Comet Tavern teemed with fans. People danced, sang along and grooved to the hootenannies. The swinging door of musicians showed up with vigor. Few of the musicians were announced so regrettably, most are unidentified.

Who are they?

Kurt Bloch after 18 rounds

The worship of Kurt

100_7531

Among the songs performed:

“Androgynous” (beautifully sung by a solo female artist with a lovely voice accompanying herself on keyboard)
“Favorite Thing”
“Unsatisfied”
“Don’t Ask Why”
“Waitress in the Sky”
“Here Comes a Regular”
Paul Westerberg, Bob Stinson (RIP), Tommy Stinson and Chris Mars may have loved the ode to their lasting influence and the crowd was reminded of Westerberg’s song-writing prowess.

Adam Sekuler and Gorman BechardProps to the Northwest Film Forum for hosting filmmaker Gorman Bechard and his new film, the documentary Color Me Obsessed about The Replacements. According to Adam Sekuler, Program Director at the NWFF, the tribute show at the Comet was put together as a companion piece to Bechard’s film screening.

9 Songs (2004)

9 SongsThe concept here is unique: intersperse nine songs along the arc of a couple’s sexually charged year-long relationship. With explicit sex taking the helm from story, this is art-house porn.

Lisa (Margo Stilley) is a student in London and Mike (Kieran O'Brien) is her boyfriend. The couple engage in sex, they see live music and occasionally indulge in coke. There’s your storyline. The real story is that the two actors actually have sex with one another. Nothing is simulated—that includes oral and vaginal sex and masturbation (manual and with a vibrator).

Mike is now a glaciologist in Antarctica and he’s reminiscing about time spent with Lisa (mostly in bed). The following quote succinctly pinpoints theme:

Exploring the Antarctic is like exploring space. You enter a void, thousands of miles, with no people, no animals, no plants. You're isolated in a vast, empty continent. Claustrophobia and agoraphobia in the same place, like two people in a bed.

Here are the songs in the order they are performed:
  • "Whatever Happened to My Rock and Roll" – Black Rebel Motorcycle Club
  • “C'mon, C'mon" – The Von Bondies
  • "Fallen Angel" – Elbow
  • "Movin' On Up" – Primal Scream
  • "You Were the Last High" – Dandy Warhols
  • "Slow Life" – Super Furry Animals
  • "Jacqueline" – Franz Ferdinand
  • "Debbie" – Michael Nyman
  • "Love Burns" – Black Rebel Motorcycle Club (BRMC grace us with two songs. Lucky, lucky us!)

I recommend 9 Songs. It’s not the norm to see two actors in coitus, view semi-close-ups of their genitals and see them masturbating themselves AND be able to watch it in a non-porn variety movie house. 9 Songs suffers from a flimsy storyline and no character development. As a friend put it: “It has more story than porn where the repairman shows up and the naked woman answers the door.” I counter…we just didn’t see Mr. Man arrive.

I didn’t hate it, I didn’t love it, but I didn’t turn away.

Writer/Director: Michael Winterbottom

Country: UK

Genre: Drama

Run time: 66 minutes

Scale: 2

Das weiße Band (The White Ribbon) (2009)

The White Ribbon creepsThe black-and-white aesthetic of The White Ribbon adds an air of mystery and distance in this recounting of sinister events in a German village in the years before World War I.

The disturbing tale kicks off when a metal wire is rigged between two poles. The village doctor takes a life-threatening fall when his horse runs into said wire. The investigation grows cold—no witnesses, motives nor evidence. The next several incidents lead to the conclusion that someone is performing ritual punishments. Are the village children the perpetrators? The narrator has his own side story that allows for a bit of humor—a rare trait in a Michael Haneke film. It works juxtaposed against the intense main storyline. 

The White Ribbon has Haneke’s trademark theme—that we are all sadists. In fact, the events depicted are based on alleged incidents recorded in Germany and Austria in the 1920s and 1940s. The foreshadowing is clear—the German Reich lies ahead and many of these kids will end up in the Nazi movement. Is it coincidence that the white ribbon the Pastor makes his children wear when they are in need of moral cleansing is reminiscent of the bands the Jews were forced to wear during the Hitler regime?

The White Ribbon is engaging. Yet another Haneke ending without clarity is frustrating, especially after more than two hours.

Open letter to Michael Haneke:

Dear Mr. Haneke,

You are a master storyteller. I watch your movies with rapt interest. Despite their length, I don’t find myself clock watching which is different from how I behave at baseball games; they go too long and should end after the 7th inning. But, I digress.

My point is that unresolved endings mimic real life, but art offers us a break from that reality. Occasionally, I’d be delighted to see a decisive conclusion. That said, The Piano Teacher is a favorite with a reasonable ending. I refer instead to Caché, Funny Games and The White Ribbon. Your open-ended formula needs an overhaul. I don’t know if these children were culpable nor do I know if The School Teacher married Klara.

Despite my nitpicks, this movie was nominated for and won several prestigious awards. Check it out and see what you opine.

Writer/Director: Michael Haneke

Country: Austria

Genre: Drama

Run time: 144 minutes

Scale: 4

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Jeffrey Eugenides Reads at Seattle Central Library (10.17.2011)

Jeffrey Eugenides is making the rounds promoting his third novel, The Marriage Plot—his first since his 2002 Pulitzer-Prize winning novel Middlesex. In a shiny-coated black jacket, he read to a packed auditorium at the Seattle Central Library. The excerpt detailed the relationship of two of his characters, Brown University students Madeleine and Leonard. Madeleine is falling for Leonard, while Leonard is starting to take distance. Leonard is stoic, yet unflinchingly observant. Madeleine is traditional and believes in love; Leonard is skeptic. However, the story has another angle. A third character weaves in with his sights set on Madeleine.

Jeffrey Eugenides signs his new novelEugenides’ even tone worked well in delivery of his descriptions and humor. The reading flowed and left those with their newly purchased copies of The Marriage Plot ready to get reading.

Eugenides fielded questions following the reading, including: How did he feel about the adaptation of his novel The Virgin Suicides by Sofia Coppola and his short story The Baster. He deemed that Coppola did a good job; whereas, The Baster, was a poor adaptation made into The Switch (staring Jennifer Aniston, Jason Bateman). His story is about a single woman who wants a baby. She asks her good-looking male friends if they'd provide sperm samples. Her other friend, an ugly man, wants her to ask him to be the donor. When she doesn’t, he tries to find ways to convince her. Eugenides envisioned Paul Giamatti for the role (it went to Bateman). He was  puzzled “they” purchased rights to his story and then changed it. (Note: I liked the movie The Switch.)

He spoke of his own time as a student in the English Department at Brown when Semiotics sprung to life and created a schism. This topic plays a role in The Marriage Plot.

When asked how things were different in relationships now from when he was coming of age in the ‘80s, he said the situations and struggles are still basically the same.

Eldorado (2008)

Eldorado is the road trip movie that couldn’t find its destination.

When Yvan (Bouli Lanners) arrives home to find a burglar in the act, he threatens to call the cops. Instead, Ivan befriends him—sort of. Elie (Fabrice Adde)eldorado admits he was stealing Yvan’s huge jar of coins to supply his heroin habit. Yvan gives Elie a lift to the main road and bids him adieu. When their paths cross again, the two set off on a road trip to Elie’s parents’ home. Yvan will deliver him and Ellie will start over and quit the junk for good.

Anytime you confine characters in a space, such as a car, you usually create magic, but this drive proves long and mostly uneventful. Even with two empathetic main and a few quirky secondary characters, Eldorado lacks conflict and chemistry. Maybe it’s Ellie’s flattened affect and distance. Yvan and Elie’s mother share some a connection, but it’s a mere interlude before the story moves on to its bittersweet ending.

Eldorado is peculiar and has its entertaining moments. It’s missing that je ne sais quoi that would boost it above the 3-star mark. That said, Lanners is to be lauded for his impressive trifecta as writer, director and star.

Writer/Director: Bouli Lanners

Country: Belgium

Genre: Drama

Run time: 80 minutes

Scale: 3

Monday, October 17, 2011

Entre nos (Between Us) (2009)

Entre NosEntre nos is a character development film about immigration gone wrong. Based on a true story about a mother and her two children newly landed (presumably illegally) in New York from Colombia. They have reunited with husband and father Antonio (Andres Munar).

Mariana (Paola Mendoza) is devastated when Antonio abandons her and their children—10-year-old Gabriel (Sebastian Villada) and six-year-old Andrea (Laura Montana). Their lives downward spiral. They lose their apartment and must scavenge for food and money.

This uncomplicated story is poignant and positive. Despite not speaking English and despite the loss of stability, Mariana and her children navigate their impossible situation. They survive each crossroad with the help of several strangers. The movie postscript provides details on what happened to the real-live characters. (You don’t, however, learn what happened to Antonio and whether or not any of them ever saw him again.)

I loved the Colombian angle: the familiar accent, the Spanish lexicon and the food. In the bonus materials on the DVD, the directors detail the step-by-step instructions for on making empanadas. Yum-yum.

Co-writers/Co-directors: Gloria La Morte and Paola Mendoza

Country: USA

Genre: Drama

Run time: 80 minutes

Scale: 3.5

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Fish Tank (2009)

Fish TankFish Tank is celluloid rawness. Fifteen-year-old Mia (Katie Jarvis) busts onto the screen gulping alcohol from any bottle she can get her hands on, head-butting a former friend for no apparent reason and trying to liberate a neglected horse. The moment her party-girl mom’s one-night stand catches her dancing in her council estate kitchen, Mia’s life changes.

Mia lives in a den of hostility with her younger sister Tyler (Rebecca Griffiths) and their critical mother Joanne (Kierston Wareing). The three are foul-mouthed and rage-filled. When Joanne’s new boyfriend Connor (Michael Fassbender) starts giving Mia the attention she’s starved for and encourages her dreams of being a hip-hop dancer, she puts her fury aside. She lessens her missions to chaos and destruction in lieu of the dancing, especially when a big audition comes her way. Just as it appears she’s getting on track a huge betrayal derails her. You don’t cross Mia Williams unless you are ready for her wrath. The dance scene shared by the three ladies at the end is priceless. A great movie without this scene but their connection utters the feeling they don’t state.

Brutal, cutting, unsanded—Mia is an animal I didn’t want to release. Get comfortable on the edge of your sofa for the maelstrom from which you won’t be able to turn. In the end, I was upset with Mia’s choice; I wanted her to return to school and expand upon her awakening. She’s a fighter but where will she end up? This is a genuine ending but I’m still mad at her for leaving.

Andrea Arnold also directed the brilliant Red Road (which was meant to be the first in a trilogy using the same actors).

Writer/Director: Andrea Arnold

Country: UK

Genre: Drama

Run time: 122 minutes

Scale: 5

The Kids Are All Right (2010)

The playersI’m surprised there aren’t more movies about kids looking up their sperm donors. The best part of watching The Kids Are All Right is that I avoided reading or hearing anything about it beforehand so everything—from the secondary actors to the plot points to the ending were a surprise.

In a nutshell, siblings 18-year-old Joni (Mia Wasikowska) and 15-year-old Laser (Josh Hutcherson) seek out and meet Paul (Mark Ruffalo)the man behind the sperm that created them. When their moms Jules (Julianne Moore) and Nic (Annette Bening) find out, they are threatened by Paul and worried about the kids.

(Spoiler Alert: Read at Your Own Risk!)

Pros
It’s funny: Great use of humor—quips, one-liners and verbal sparring.

Insightful details and characterizations: Joni and Laser are confident. They have real teenage moments and through these we learn what drives them. Their relationship with one another is strong and they are self-assured. The relationship between their moms Jules (Julianne Moore) and Nic (Annette Bening) is portrayed with its blemishes and struggles. Paul (Mark Ruffalo) is affected by his relationship with Joni and Laser and he grows up.

Cons:
The ending: The way Paul is cut off from the Laser and Joni at the end was sloppy and offered no resolution. If this movie were longer, Laser and Paul would get likely be in touch again. They shared a connection but it would be difficult for the entire family to forgive Paul’s perceived “interloping.” I loved the idea of this blended family working out somehow.

Was Jules definitely gay? No way! I had difficulty believing that Jules was gay after her sex scenes with Paul. She was really into it MANY times over. At the very least, maybe she’s bisexual?

Co-writer/Director: Lisa Cholodenko

Country: USA

Genre: Dramedy

Run time: 106 minutes

Scale: 3.5

Savage Grace (2007)

Tony and his boyfriendSavage Grace is an uneven and slow slog. I’d go as far as calling it boring. It shocks you over and over but in between, the unsympathetic characters provoke anything but distaste, revulsion and confirmation that people with too much money are miserable wagons.

This disturbing mess tells the alleged true story of Barbara Daly Baekeland (Julianne Moore) and Brooks Baekeland (Stephen Dillane); the latter the heir to the Bakelite plastics fortune. They have a son, Antony (Eddie Redmayne), who is doted on by his mother and ignored by his father. The family travel the world mingling with persons of high social caliber. Brooks is irritated while Barbara is in her element pushing Tony’s accomplishments onto the annoyed guests.

(Spoiler Alert: Read at Your Own Risk!)

Tony’s interest is mildly peaked when he meets hot Spaniard Blanca (Elena Anaya) but that doesn’t stop him from sexing it up with his male buddy (see picture). Barbara pushes Tony and Blanca to sleep together, but soon Brooks runs away with Blanca leaving wife and son behind never to look back. Tony is crushed by his dad’s abandonment and his “inheriting” his mother, her depression and her suicidal tendencies.

Many lurid events follow: Barbara takes up with a gay man. They  engage in a ménage à trois with Tony. Tony is numb as his mother’s keeper, confidante and sometimes lover. I wasn’t expecting the final scene where Barbara mounts her son, has sex with him and asks him if he came. When he says no, she gives him a hand job. Once done, they get up and contemplate what to order for dinner. Tony stabs and kills her. After nearly eight years in a psychiatric hospital, Tony is released and moves in with his maternal grandmother. Within a week, he stabs her. She survives but Tony goes to Rikers Island where within the year he’s dead by suffocation with a plastic bag (it was uncertain if it was a suicide or murder).

A fucking mess.

Director: Tom Kalin

Country: USA

Genre: Drama

Run time: 97 minutes

Scale: 2

Friday, September 30, 2011

Blue Car (2002)

Meg (Agnes Bruckner) discovers her blossoming talent as a poet in AP English. It gives her respite from her duties as stand-in mom at home to her mentally ill younger sister as her single mom works to make ends meet since Meg’s father abandoned them.

The pressure gets to neglected Meg as her sister Lily (Regan Arnold) cuts herself, won’t eat and obsesses about morbidity. Blue CarMeg finds solace in the attention of her English teacher, Mr. Auster (David Strathairn). She wins a contest and a chance to go to the regionals. As he mentors her writing, she develops feelings for him. I hoped that Blue Car wouldn’t go “there” to the realm of the student-teacher affair. You see it coming but for a long time, it looks as though it will be averted until it comes crashing.

The distance between the two girls and their mother grows. Meg hides more as tragedy strikes the family. She is determined to get to the regionals which leads to the movie’s crescendo. Meg’s brooding and sadness saturate the screen. I loved the process where how she writes her poem Blue Car. The way we are there with Meg’s emotions and reality is the strongest aspect of Blue Car. In need of attention and love, Meg she puts all her hopes and dreams in her teacher’s basket. He takes advantage of this, but she is metamorphosing. She has become a writer but Auster isn’t who she believed him to be. The ending brings her to a new understanding of how she fits in the world and what she needs to stand on her own.

Writer/Director: Karen Moncrieff

Country: USA

Genre: Drama

Run time: 96 minutes

Scale: 3

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Californication (Season 3) (2009)

CALIFORNICATION (Season 3)This season kicks off horrifyingly bad. Hank’s immaturity and obnoxiousness are off the charts. Yet the ladies continue to swoon. The lack of storyline is disappointing. What makes it different than soft porn? The show hasn’t changed, you say, but the storylines have lame-ified and it’s just a lot of screwing. Hank’s idiocy is eye rolling. He’s a joke as a professor and no one gives a crap. It isn’t until Karen returns from New York that Hank shapes up one percentage point. Question is, will this man-boy ever get sorted? Will the edge this show used to possess return?

What about Charlie and Marcy? That situation has digressed (I didn’t think it possible). Rick Springfield plays a dirtbag. How did he think this role was a good move? Why would he want to sully his image by portraying himself as a cokehead narcissist? Kathleen Turner as Charlie’s new boss is repulsive. Like a testosterone-fueled humper, she won’t lay off Charlie. She is so unlikeable that when she has her few moments of redemption, the deficit of likability is stacked against her. Becca is the only sane one. She finally hits her rebellion while running the Moody fraternity house.

This season jumped the shark. I felt dirty after watching it. What’s in store in Season 4? The last few episodes with Mia were the best because now, Hank has something to lose: the world may get proof of the depths of his depravity. How is Karen so calm about his parade of sex parters? How is she comfortable bare-backing with him? She’s aware of several of them and knows these are only a fraction of the whole. It’s this point that keeps me wondering why she would flip over Mia. She was underage, she was nearly her step-daughter, but I’m not convinced. Even with the bevy of guest appearances (Peter Gallagher, Ed Westwick, Eva Amurri), I was underwhelmed.

My Night with the Script (September 21)

The ScriptI’m not a music snob. I’ve my favorites but I love the experience of a new band. Sometimes you score, other times you lose; occasionally you learn a band may not be your cup of Irish tea but you are struck by their passion, their following, the experience.

I was introduced to the Script one year ago. According to my Irish colleague Jeff Harvey, the Dublin band are huge in some sectors of music fandom previously unknown to me. Mr. Harvey was a schoolmate of drummer Glen Power. He promised that when The Script played Seattle next, he’d get me tickets. My day came last Wednesday. Originally slated for the Paramount, the show was moved to the Neptune at the last minute. (As a side note, The Neptune is a great venue. It’s like the Showbox light and it’s got great potential to grow into an excellent personality.

The Script is reminiscent of an R&B-styled boy band with a bit of rap. A few songs dip into the realm of U2 sounds. Most are on the slow side. There was a standout song (unfortunately as a novice, I don’t know the name)—fast, ska-ish, fun. They mused about their “dark” songs but their affect was upbeat and happy. This band appreciates their fans, love performing and enjoy their job. As an audience member, you can’t fight the jolly with this set-up. The fan demographic: young adoring-to-near-tears females; couples entwined in each others’ arms and a sprinkling of oldies. Despite only two albums, I was nonetheless surprised when the show, including encore, ended after one hour (it was a school night so no harm, no foul). Thanks for hooking me up with VIP status, Mr. H.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Winter’s Bone (2010)

Winters BoneThe first time I watched Winter’s Bone, I didn’t go gaga, despite its many nominations and awards. Upon second viewing, I recognized much more of its artistic achievements.

Seventeen-year-old Ree (Jennifer Lawrence) cares for her two young siblings, Sonny and Ashlee, and her mentally absent mother in their Missouri Ozarks backwoods home. She is constantly teaching the kids self-sufficiency—spelling, hunting, cooking. Then, Jessup, her meth-cook/drug-dealer father, turns up missing. As an absentee father, his disappearance isn’t atypical, but no one has seen him and he’s put up their house as bond. When the bailsman announces that Ree has one week to find Jessup before the house is seized, she refuses to accept they will be left homeless. Tenacious, she faces off with extended family where the code of honor revolves around silence. The women fiercely guard their men, similar to how castles are protected and visitors are vetted to prove they are worthy to face the king. In Winter’s Bone, the king is Thump Milton (Ronnie Hall).

(Spoiler Alert: Read at Your Own Risk!)

The set design, social commentary on poverty and glimpses at the backwoods world create suspense. The story isn’t without flaws. Jessup misstep was not his daughter’s fault. Why do they take so long to come around to helping her? Also, in this community where snitching is the ultimate betrayal, would Jessup commit this wrong? I don’t buy it. To face 10 years in the slammer is nothing to shrug at, but to go against the explicit norms upon which this clan is built would seal his fate. Desperate situations beget desperate choices, but this detail is believable as presented. Based on the novel by Daniel Woodrell, it would be worthwhile to see if there is more to support this plot point in the book. As an aside, I greatly enjoyed the banjos and guitar that provide a respite from the gloom.

Lawrence and John Hawkes as her uncle Teardrop are excellent. Her Ree is tough and resilient among the folks who could kill her in an instant based on her challenging their pride alone. His Teardrop is torn between his divided loyalties. By the end, Ree has covered miles of backwoods on food, been beaten and bloodied and made to participate in acts she will never forget.

Co-writer/Director: Debra Granik

Country: USA

Genre: Drama/Thriller

Run time: 100 minutes

Scale: 3.5

A Rant on How the Mobile Food Rodeo Did Not Deliver (September 17)

I didn’t set out to review the first Mobile Food Truck Festival Rodeo in Seattle held one week ago, but the more I contemplated, the more I decided I had something to say.

This disorganized mess produced a ton of waiting around at its lackluster location in Interbay. The truck representation included The Box, El Camión, Maximus/Minimus, Street Donuts, Parfait, Kaosamai Thai, Lumpia World, Molly Moon, Skillet, BUNS, Street Treats, Charlie’s Buns N’ Stuff, Fusion on the Run, Bistro Box, Curry Now, Dante’s Inferno Dogs, Veraci Pizza, The Snout & Co. and Bigfood. The festival advertised like mad through Groupon and The Stranger. The lines to get in were massive. If you were lucky enough to get free parking, you saved $10. Once inside, the band stage was empty more than it had bands performing. The cupcake-eating contest was the highlight during my tenure, where the lucky winner walked away with a years’ supply of Trophy cupcakes.

The food lines were so long you had to wade through them to get to the trucks to view their menus (many didn’t offer sampler/small items as advertised), so unless you did a cursory walk through and examined the menus (which required a lot crisscrossing lines and excuse-me’s) you didn’t know which food to choose. Ideally, each truck should post signs with their offerings so you can decide while in line—those with smart phones were clearly the winners.

I took my chances with Bigfood and was delighted at their flat bread offerings. My choice did not come without a price (I don’t mean the charge)—I waited 25 minutes to order. Then, I waited another 20 to receive my food. If you were disappointed with your food, then you were looking at another huge wait. I’d expected to wait some, but this was ridiculous.

The worst offence was the lack of sufficient recycling and food waste containers. Garbage bins were teeming with glass and plastic. Aren’t Seattleites supposed to be leaders in green? What an enormous oversight! When I asked a Food Rodeo Cowboy why the situation was so dire, he pinned the onus on the food carts; that they had failed to deliver. He then pointed out one recycling bin next to a food cart. Now that the lines had thinned, it was visible. He said he’d seen a food waste bin “somewhere” but couldn’t point me in its direction.

The event needed more hay bales, picnic tables for festive family-style seating and, perhaps, Christmas lights. More music may have helped. More food trucks may have diminished some of the waits. The trucks needed to have been dispersed better so that some lines didn’t hinder people from getting to the carts in the corners.

The positives: The food. Dog friendly. Family friendly. Philanthropic—raising $3,126 for Seattle’s Solid Ground (formerly the Fremont Public Association).The Snout and its Cuban flair was voted the crowd favorite but their line was, you guessed it—long and SLOW.

I hope the organizers learn from this year’s fiasco; they’ve 365 to tailor an improvement. Good luck.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

To verdener (Worlds Apart) (2008)

Worlds Apart is a based on a true story about a devout 17-year-old Jehovah’s Witness and the choice that will define her future.

Worlds ApartSara (Rosalind Spanning) and her family are zealous in their faith. When her parents separate, they ask Sara and her young siblings, Elisabeth (Sarah Juel Werner) and August (Jacob Ottensten), to decide which parent will leave the family home. Around the same time, Sara meets older Teis (Pilou Asbæk). While they clash over her religious beliefs, they spar intelligently. His counterpoints ring some truth within her. They start dating. When her father and the church elders get wind of it, they urge Sara to get rid of him; Teis asks her to rethink it. Her older brother Jonas (Thomas Knuth-Winterfeldt) has already been shunned and it has destroyed him; Sara wants to avoid that fate. She hatches a plan to appease everyone, but it won’t be easy.

Worlds Apart is about painful decisions. Because it takes its time unfolding, you behold Sara’s sorrow and suffering. Her agony is palpable. In the end, everyone loses here. Worlds Apart injects you into this fractured family, torn apart by the very thing around which they’ve centered themselves. The Danish make beautifully deep movies and this is no exception.

Co-writer/Director: Niels Arden Oplev

Country: Denmark

Genre: Drama

Run time: 115 minutes

Scale: 4.5

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Speaking of Banksy…

Is it or isn’t it?

Frankie_1

Frankie_2

Frankie_3

Found deep in Greenwood.