Sunday, February 21, 2010

strong movie - "Eye of God"

Browsing the DVD rack at my local library, I decided on this movie : "Eye of God", from 1997. It's a crime thriller with an impressive creative pedigree (written & directed by Tim Blake Nelson; stars Martha Plimpton, Nick Stahl, Richard Jenkins, Hal Holbrook). Given that silly title, I expected a mildly entertaining horror-type movie, but it had surprising depth and strong storytelling. It's hard to say I was 'pleasantly' surprised, because this is a very dark and unsettling story, but it delivered way beyond by expectations. I can appreciate a wide range of styles and quality of films, but it's always nice to find a hidden gem like this. I was compelled to write up this review on IMDB :

"I picked up this movie at the local library completely blind, on a whim. Based on the box & the title, I expected a cheezy horror movie, but with a potentially interesting cast. What I got was a very thoughtfully crafted human drama mixed with a compelling crime thriller. The characters could've smacked of cliche - but intelligent dialog & expert performances across the board helped convey their credibility. The way Tim Blake Nelson played forward and backward with the narrative chronology worked well (for the most part) - the style heightened the unfolding of the mystery, and delivered a strong punch for the scene he chose to end the movie on. Kevin Anderson was exceptionally strong in a role that could've wallowed in simplicity (I'm inspired to check out more of his movies). Richard Jenkins delivers a wonderfully nuanced performance, a forerunner of the fantastic work he's done in recent years. May be Martha Plipmton's best work in her career. It had a few problems - too much voice-over, the setup is a little too 'clean', the conversations are too 'smart' in some stretches, and a bit slow (particularly in the denouement). But worth checking out, and deserving of a wider audience.
Compares to : Once Were Warriors (abusive relationships); Memento (asynchronous narrative); Capote (southern-fried smart crime drama)


Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Seattle trip

We made a trip to Seattle, the last weekend in January. It's a city we've wanted to go to for a while, and have a few friends up there. So we had to scale it back a bit, but it was a good occasion on our 'anniversary of our meeting' to take a weekend excursion. We headed to the airport on BART on Friday night (thanks Tom!), got into town & just made our way on the light rail to the Warwick Hotel, and planned out some specifics of our schedule.

Saturday - got up early, walked down to the Ferries, boated over to Bainbridge Island, walked around there a bit, then headed back and walked along shop-laden Alaskan Way to our meeting w/ friends at Pike Place Market. While waiting at the fish market, we saw other friends from the Bay Area walking past. Random! Well, Dave and Leah showed up soon (with 5-month-old son Connor), we walked around the Market & got some inside scoop from the locals... (Dave I knew through Michigan State U, Leah grew up in Seattle area). Went to Lowell's for lunch, but they were closed, so we went to the seafood restaurant next door. Then they took us for a drive, around Capitol Hill neighborhood, past the Jimi statue, into Volunteer Park, for a look at the 'Black Hole Sun' sculpture, and the Botanical Garden. Then they graciously dropped us off at the Seattle Center.
In time to meet up with friends Matt and Christina Clapham (and 16-month-old Lucy). I knew Matt from middle school, and we were in a band together in high school years. We went up in the Space Needle, while there was still light. Then had about 90 minutes to go through the Experience Music Project/Sci-Fi Museum, which was a little glossed-over, but saw a bit of everything we needed to. Then grabbed dinner at the food court and hung out a bit more...
Headed to the monorail to return to downtown. It was pretty early, but we were figuring on an early night. We walked around the Westlake mall, then decided to grab a drink before calling it a night. Dahlia Lounge was full, so we went to Lola. Then hit the late-night Ralph's Grocery, then back to the hotel.

Sunday - made use of the fitness center and pool at the hotel in the morning. Later, met up for brunch w/ friends Adam & Eve Wood-Gaines (and 3-yr-old son Donovan) (I'd met them back in my days at Tippett Studio), they have a fantastic house in the Fremont neighborhood. We hung out & wandered through the Sunday Fremont Market. Then they were off to Vashon Island, so we went to the bus station for our journey to the eastside suburbs. On our way to meet Lisa and David Domke, friends of Bonnie's from Orange County, David is a professor at U Washington Communications (chair of the dept); Lisa is a pastor (she was a WA delegate to the 2004 Demo Nat'l Convention). Very nice meeting them, heard so much about them. We had a great, thoughtful discussion for a bit, then Lisa took us out to Capitol Hill, had famous cocktails at Liberty, then dinner at Coastal Kitchen. Strolled a bit on Broadway, briefly at the NW Museum of Mysteries, a hacky monument to things paranormal... Then, walked back to the car & back home (for the night).

Monday - woke to learn Lisa had started getting sick the day before, and had a rough go of it during the night. We partook/observed their morning ritual with the kids (Will, age 8, Sam, age 2.5). After some discussion & determining of health, we settled on going w/Dave to drop the kids off, and back to check out Will's alternative dance performance at a school. Actually, nice to kind of relax & take part of real-life events, and see some real neighborhoods where ppl live. And actually quite interesting to see what sort of alternative school events happen. After dropping a few kids off at their home schools, Dave took us to U Washington, and graciously offered use of his car the rest of the day. We strolled through campus, to the library and Red Square, then made our way to a few other things we missed but were on our list. Straight down 45th, quick stop at the Archie McPhee's store, along to the Chittenden Locks, which we got to see in action. Then through the Ballard neighborhood, shopping at Sonic Boom, got a local band, Feral Children. Back to the Fremont neighborhood to get a closer look at the Lenin statue, the corner rocketship, and finally saw the Fremont Troll (very cute public art sculpture of the 10-foot-tall upper half of a troll under a bridge onramp). Had time to grab some famous fish-n-chips at Ivar's Salmon House, then wrapped up a visit with Lisa, and made our way down the block for the bus. At the airport - no security line! Amazing! And free wi-fi while we wait in the terminal! What's wrong with the Bay Area??
Overall, a fantastic weekend seeing a progressive, quirky, arsty town, and lovely visits w/ friends we hadn't seen in a long while. We'll get back someday for sure!

2010, the descent

So, 2010 is off to a roaring, and rocky start... After a lovely Christmas season (saw a staging of David Sedaris' "Santaland Diaries" in SF; nice Xmas morning; finally went to the King Tut exhibit at deYoung), then started the year with a wonderful dinner party at our house, on New Year's Day, and some positive looking-ahead. Positive news : my band, Colossal Inertia, is actually gaining some inertia. Had a gig at The Uptown in Oakland on Jan 6th, and more gigs booked in February and March.

The bad news - Bonnie was let go from her job... Very unfortunate, but we've taken a look at our budget & places to cut back, it shouldn't be too drastic on our household finances. On the positive side of that, she's looking at getting into more writing endeavors - freelance, magazine, local, and focusing more on her book projects.

Workwise, it's been pretty quiet since the end of "Carol". I've been working w/ the 'crowds' department. I was in talks to move into the dept for the show, sounds like I'll be staying put, though. Not a big deal, esp. since they exercised some cutbacks in our dept, unfortunate for those let go...

Well, had to get the news of the ups & downs posted, next up, a bit of a diversion - Bonnie & I went to Seattle (a trip we had planned since the New Year) - went to visit some friends we hadn't seen in a while, and tour around the city since we'd heard so much about it. Next time!