Watching Abre Los Ojos (2005-08-19)

After meeting (and calling) friends for the U District's own Art Walk, the conversation turned to travel at Twice Sold Tales and continued at Schultzy's. Deciding that a subtitled movie was the natural next event, we went to Scarecrow Video for the title that came to mind: Abre los ojos/Open Your Eyes. The Vanilla Sky remake was quite close to the original, though I think Eduardo Noriega was more convincing as César than Tom Cruise as David Aames.

Ryan recognized Fele Martínez, playing Pelayo (the Brian Shelby role played by Jason Lee in Vanilla Sky) as Enrique Goded in La mala educación/Bad Education. La mala educación might be enjoyable for those that like director Pedro Almodóvar--e.g., Todo sobre mi madre/All About My Mother--or actor Gael García Bernal--e.g., Y tu mamá también/And Your Mother Too, El crimen del padre Amaro/The Crime of Father Amaro, Dot the I.


Winning a Bronze Duck (2005-08-09)

This week Allan's boat Great Expectations won third place in Duck Dodge! Our crew sailed well, despite the spinnaker halyard detaching, requiring Ratna to retrieve it.

[Updated 2007-07-18, changing title from "Black" to "Bronze".]

Watching Vanilla Sky (2005-08-13)

We took a weekend at the Vashon Island Hostel with friends to camp, swim, walk on the beach--and watch a movie. I've never completely understood the popularity of Tom Cruise, though I find his movies entertaining. The Outsiders was a decent novel adaptation, Top Gun had action, Rain Man was award-winning, Far and Away was romantic, A Few Good Men was humorously quotable ("My client's a moron, that's not against the law."), The Firm had action, Mission: Impossible had gadgets, and Minority Report is one of a series of adaptations of Philip K. Dick short stories (of which my favorite is Blade Runner based upon Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?). Only Magnolia and Jerry Maguire stand out in my memory, though not because of Tom Cruise: Magnolia I recall because of the poignant, quirky story line and great Aimee Mann music, and Jerry Maguire I remember because afterwards my then-wife asked, "Why can't you be more like him?"

I was pleasantly surprised by the Vanilla Sky story line. Consequently I plan to accept the two recommendation I received today for the Spanish original, Abre los ojos, also starring Penélope Cruz (and her breasts). Minor spoiler: I like movies in which it is difficult to distinguish appearance and reality.


In Key West, Florida (2004-12-01)

Watching Red Eye (2005-08-10)

Red Eye was a SIFF Preview Screening. It wasn't memorable, but it had what I expected from a thriller: a beautiful protagonist, a creepy villian, and suspense. Brian Cox was a bonus, though his role was small.


Anticipating Sherman Alexie salon (2005-08-18 19:30)

I want to invite readers of this blog and others to a salon with Sherman Alexie and Jess Walter at 7:30 PM on Thursday, August 18 at Finn MacCool's Irish Public House, 4217 University Ave NE. I read Sherman Alexie's The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven the year I saw Smoke Signals. I imagine he will be entertaining in person. If you like, put the salon on your schedule and stop by my office that evening and we'll walk to Finn MacCool's.


Watching The Circus (2005-06-05)

The Circus was hilarious. The version we saw had a score and some singing by Chaplin as well. Rent it if you can!

At Secret Festival #3 (2005-06-05)

The third Secret Festival this year was the best so far, in my opinion. I haven't enjoyed the Secret Festival films this year as much as I would have liked. They are, however, enjoyable social events. I see that the Seattle Channel has footage of Nancy Guppy's attempt to learn the secrets of the Secret Festival the previous week.

At Argentine Gala (2005-06-04)

SIFF rescheduled Bombón, el Perro, so I didn't attend the replacement film from Argentina, Avellaneda's Moon. I did, however, attend the gala, staying into the early morning with Diana, Poppe, and others.


Listening to Our Endless Numbered Days (2005-06)

Mortality is on my mind. June 15 was the deadline for us to renew our corporate health insurance, and this month I'm applying to increase the disability insurance benefits I hope I'll never need.

Disability insurance reminds me of my college best friend who, as young as I am, still survived a heart attack and a second stroke last September. Painted indelibly in my memory is the beginning of his visit a month ago: I saw him drive his car past my building, so I went downstairs to help him carry his belongings up to my apartment. I found him on his back in the street, suffering from an atonic seizure. He recovered after an emergency room visit and anti-seizure medication, though to his disappointment the doctor recommended not driving his new BMW convertible back to Portland.

I first heard Iron & Wine in "Such Great Heights" on the Garden State soundtrack. I bought Our Endless Numbered Days on the second to last Tuesday in May after hearing my guitar instructor play "Each Coming Night":

Will you say when I’m gone away
"My lover came to me and we'd lay
In rooms unfamiliar but until now"

Will you say to them when I’m gone
"I loved your son for his sturdy arms
We both learned to cradle then live without"

Will you say when I’m gone away
'Your father’s body was judgement day
We both dove and rose to the riverside"

Will you say to me when I’m gone
"Your face has faded but lingers on
Because light strikes a deal with each coming night"
The words "Will you say to me when I'm gone/'Your face has faded but lingers on/Because light strikes a deal with each coming night'" seemed particularly poignant yesterday as Ryan and I drove to visit my maternal grandmother in Providence St. Peter's Hospital. She and her husband have moved from their duplex in Panorama City to the Convalescent and Rehabilitation Center. Grandpa's Alzheimer's requires more care than Grandma can provide.

"Teach us to number our days aright,/that we may gain a heart of wisdom." writes the psalmist. The wisdom Our Endless Numbered Days suggests is that "what's worth keeping" (a phrase from "Sunset Soon Forgotten") is a life of love. The opening song, "On Your Wings," says, "God, there's a hangman that wants to come around... God, give us love in the time that we have." The second song, "Naked As We Came" pictures lovers contemplating the inevitability of their parting:

she says, "wake up, it's no use pretending"
I'll keep stealing, breathing her
birds are leaving over autumn's ending
one of us will die inside these arms
eyes wide open, naked as we came
one will spread our ashes around the yard

she says, "if i leave before you, darling
don't you waste me in the ground"
I lay smiling like our sleeping children
one of us will die inside these arms
eyes wide open, naked as we came
one will spread our ashes around the yard
Love is in the majority of the songs, not only in "Each Coming Night" and "Naked As We Came" but also "Love and Some Verses," "Teeth in the Grass" ("and when we're lovers at last"), and "Fever Dream" ("Some days her shape in the doorway/will speak to me"). Love may even have been the motivation for the hanging crime in "Free Until They Cut Me Down" ("she's the one who begged me,/'take me home'").

Ryan chose calm music for the afternoon rush hour drive from Seattle to Lacey: Ceredwen O'r Mabinogi/Legends of the Celts, Kings of Convenience Riot on an Empty Street, and Iron & Wine Our Endless Numbered Days. Listening to the final song, "Passing Afternoon," ("There are things that drift away like our endless, numbered days") I meditated on death, life, love, and memory. With Grandma we reminisced, as she and Grandpa liked to do, of her dozen foreign travels with her first and second husbands. Briefly remembering 1972, in which both my mother and my maternal grandfather died, was perhaps inevitable. I returned to Seattle with the renewed determination to enjoy and remember while I can each endless-seeming moment of my numbered days of life and love.


Watching Die Nacht der lebenden Loser (2005-06-03)

Like UK's Shaun of the Dead but less serious, or USA's American Pie with more zombies, Die Nacht der lebenden Loser was great horror-comedy, precisely the kind of movie I expect for Midnight Adrenaline.

The Night of the Living Dorks was one of a half-dozen or more screenings I see with my friend Teague. Those who like black comedy, cult, fantasy, horror, science fiction, and thrillers might be interested in his entire schedule:

Watching Rice Rhapsody (2005-06-03)

While the ambiguity of the sexuality of the youngest of three sons is decently done, Hainan ji fan/Rice Rhapsody was ultimately too contrived for me to like much. Sabine's transition from self-assertive student to source of family wisdom was not plausible. As the three imaginary girls site notes, however, the boys were nice to watch.


Watching Mysterious Skin (2005-06-02)

Not watching television--or even having one in the house for many years--means I missed "3rd Rock from the Sun" and wasn't familiar with Joseph Gordon-Levitt. His portrayal of Neil in Mysterious Skin is amazing. He fills the role with talent and energy. Gregg Araki tastefully directs a film with uncomfortable scenes and disturbing subjects without giving simple resolution. The film is a dream/nightmare in a Kansas town that is rewarding viewing for those that can tolerate the disturbing scenes.

(Minor spoilersfollow.) The male characters carry the complexity of sexual development. Neil identified his preference for men prior to his illegal experiences with his coach, and recalls the events as a love affair--not connecting it with his current self-destructive lifestyle. Brian appears asexual, for reasons he can't remember and the audience guesses. The coach disappears mysteriously after his crime. The female characters are less clear and sometimes caricatures.


Missing Hawaii, Oslo (2005-06-02)

Caitlin and Randy give Hawaii, Oslo two 5s (out of 5). I was watching other films.

Watching Le Clan (2005-06-01)

They scheduled Ryan to work when he would see Le Clan/Three Dancing Slaves with me. I had to watch half-naked--sometime all-naked--French guys alone.

The film has three parts, each focussed on one of three brothers. (Some viewers walked out after a dog was killed in the first story.) The audience was most sympathetic to story of the youngest. The progress of his friend from buddy to lover is beautifully told. The Seattle crowd cheered when their love affair was consummated. On the way out of the theater, I overheard comments similar to my thoughts: It was sad when he broke off the relationship with his first love; why did he do that? Perhaps he did it out of fear of his brothers.

Watching Inlaws & Outlaws (2005-05-31)

Production problems, some perhaps due to a format translation, marred my viewing of Inlaws & Outlaws. It was tolerable as long as I watched the eyes of those interviewed, and not the out-of-synchronization lips. The most moving stories were those of long-time partners, particularly one had been together 50 years. The love each had for their partner was clear in the interviews.

Oh, no! I'm seven film reviews behind. I'll try to write shorter reviews.


At Secret Festival #2 (2005-05-29)

This week's Secret Festival involved many meetings. I again weaseled my way to the front of the line with Steven and Dan, Bic, and Diana. I'm envious that Diana will attend Wired News Nextfest 2005. I left to get coffee when the Seattle Channel television camera appeared for "Film Fanatic" Diana .

I was approached by the first friend of buhrger, ironymaiden, thankfully not carrying an embarrassing sign. Later frabjousdave introduced himself as well. After the Festival on Broadway I encountered butterflydrming with ironymaiden. (I hope I don't have their faces and their online identities confused.) Together we all watched...

...a movie I'm still not going to name, even though I know someone who would have liked it. Before the Festival the Seattle Channel was testing those in line to see if anyone would name the film. I doubt anyone did.


Watching Red Dust (2005-05-28)

Red Dust uses the subplot of the return of Sarah Barcant (Hilary Swank from the thrilling Insomnia and the improbable The Core) to her South Africa hometown to facilitate the dramatization of amnesty hearings. The plot centers one fictional decision of the Amnesty Committee of the Truth and Reconciliation Commision (TRC) in the late 1990s. The TRC under Archbishop Desmond Tutu eased the transition from apartheid to representative democracy under Nelson Mandela. The hearing in the film involved the interrogation of Alex Mpondo and his friend Steve Sizela, African National Congress (ANC) members, by a local police officer Dirk Hendricks and his supervisor.

Red Dust includes flashbacks to beatings and torture, including wetting a bag placed over the head of the detainee to simulate drowning. When asked why he showed little remorse for his participation in the widespread human rights violations under apartheid, Dirk replies, "It was war." Beatings, indefinite detentions, torture, using war to justify human rights violations--these were part of the crime of apartheid.

It consequently troubles me to contemplate these actions in support of our representative democracy. A Church Report summary includes 71 "substantiated cases of detainee abuse involving 121 victims and six deaths." Department of Defense documents released to the American Civil Liberties Union under the Freedom of Information Act describe placing a bag over the detainee's head and beating him. News articles describe "water-boarding" as a technique the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) uses for interrogation. This is the same wet-bag technique portrayed in Red Dust. The military requested permission to use this technique, but the Secretary of Defense authorized almost all techniques except this one. Numerous citations are available to those concerned about torture.

What answer will this administration give? "It was war"? South Africa, too, considered itself involved in a war on terror; indefinite detention without trial was permitted under the Terrorism Act No 83 of 1967 (the Act that permitted the arrest of Steve Biko). Such a war does not justify human rights violations.


Watching Ronda Nocturna (2005-05-27)

I liked Ronda Nocturna/Night Watch better when it was over. That is, I like the film's concept, but the telling of the tale took too long, leaving me a little bored.

The film observes the protagonist through one night as he wanders the streets of Buenos Aires. (The film is part of SIFF's "¡Viva Argentina!" program.). It is a gritty city, hit by economic hardship that leaves many of its citizens collecting trash for survival. The protagonist survives by making money as a prostitute and drug dealer.

A small spoiler follows: the SIFF description doesn't mention a word that IMDb's plot keywords includes. That word is "ghost". The film takes place on the «Dia de los Muertos» or "Day of the Dead." Even if only in the protagonist's mind, on this night the boundary blurs between this life and the next, and the marked dead attempt to take their loved ones to join them.


Watching Adam & Steve (2005-05-26)

Director Craig Chester wanted to make a gay movie that wasn't depressing. This reminds me of the then-unacceptably happy ending of Maurice, a novel by E.M Forster (author of A Passage to India, and Merchant-Ivory productions A Room with a View, and Howard's End). Craig Chester aimed for a romantic comedy comparable with the quotable When Harry Met Sally or the sentimental Sleepless in Seattle. In Adam & Steve, Craig Chester succeeded in making a funny film, though since his gags ranged from campy to raunchy to silly, not every joke is for everyone. Award-winning comedies (The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert) or even romantic comedies (Bedrooms and Hallways, The Broken Hearts Club) with gay main characters aren't a new type of film, however. Craig Chester was present for a question-and-answer session as well as an invitation-only queer after-film party at Rosebud.

Watching Three...Extremes (2005-05-26)

Three...Extremes was a collection of three unrelated short horror films from Hong Kong (Dumplings), South Korea (Cut), and Japan (Box). Those more familiar with the genre may have seen previous films by the three directors, Fruit Chan, Chan-wook Park, and Takashi Miike. I had only seen Takashi Miike's enjoyable horror-comedy musical Katakuri-ke no kôfuku/The Happiness of the Katakuris, though the trailers for Chan-wook Park's Oldboy looked intersting.

Blood and human tissue are part of what make Fruit Chan's Dumplings and Chan-wook Park's Cut horrific. Dumplings, however, has both a moral about the price of vanity and an ending ambiguous about just how high the price is. I found Cut's discussion of the genesis of good and evil less compelling, and its plot twist less logical. Takashi Miike's Box was less gory and more compelling than the others. However, I didn't like the resolution.

The horror of Three...Extremes and the horror-comedy of Die Nacht der lebenden Loser/The Night of the Living Dorks are my dose of this genre for the Festival. Fans of horror may want to consider Marebito, though Ryan and friends do not recommend it.


Listening to Rock School Jam (2005-05-25)

Movie City Indie links to the New York Times article on a current boom in documentaries. Rock School is part of this boom, covering in nonfiction what Richard Linklater's The School of Rock portrayed in fiction. (Unlike nearly every other movie I mention in this blog, I haven't seen The School of Rock.)

I enjoyed the documentary quite a bit; I enjoyed Paul Green's teaching style very little. I doubt that speaking to kids on their level requires berating them. Also, I wondered about their eventual goal to be rock stars. Does anyone become a star in a cover band? Is composition ever taught? The one girl in the documentary that mentioned composing her own songs appeared to stop doing so when Paul belittled her Sheryl Crow style.

Apparently I need to go to rock night school, because I didn't recognize many of the songs in the jam at Neumos after the film. I did recognize Santana's "Black Magic Woman," Billy Idol's "Rebel Yell," Frank Zappa, Pink Floyd, Heart's "Barracuda" (performed with Ann Wilson), Pearl Jam's Eddie Vedder (also present), B-52's "Rock Lobster", and Eminem's "8 Mile." Eddie Vedder said that Paul Green told him which song to play, and told him he'd better play it well since the Seattle audience was his neighbors!

While C.J. Tywoniak is the guitar-playing child prodigy of the group, recent Rock School graduate Louis Graff played excellent guitar while also acting like a rock star, complete with facial expressions and jumps into the audience. After the concert I congratulated Louie (and his "adopted mother" Robin Slick). The lead singers, in contrast, were often expressionless (despite their vocal intensity) and occasionally looked a little bored. I again wondered if technical perfection is enough to become a star.

Watching Sommersturm (2005-05-25)

After a minor role in Enemy at the Gates, Robert Stadlober again stars in a coming-of-age romance, this time as a coodinated gay boy (Sommersturm) rather than a spastic straight boy (Crazy). I liked Sommersturm, but I don't expect much from teen comedies in general. For coming-out romances, perhaps Britain's Beautiful Thing or Get Real were better; for teen comedies with gay characters, America's Saved! (which I saw at SIFF last year) was better. Nevertheless, I enjoyed Germany's Summer Storm for its portrayal of the anguish of falling in love with someone who will likely never feel the same--or someone who loves someone else. Though in Seattle many in the audience might call themselves gay, nearly anyone can identify with some role in this teen triangle.

Getting More Tickets (2005-05-24)

Ryan bought me two "threes" to add to my SIFF Schedule, a South Korean horror thriller and a French gay drama:

At Secret Festival #1 (2005-05-22)

At the first Secret Festival I stood at the head of the line with friends of Steven and Dan, and discussed what Peter Sarsgaard had said about The Dying Gaul. Then we watched...

...a movie I'm not going to name. Below is the text from the back of my Secret Festival pass:

I, the undersigned, do hereby solemnly swear that I will never divulge the titles or discuss any of the films screened at the 2005 SIFF Secret Festival. Furthermore, I agree that I will not commit to print, broadcast on radio / television, on-line service or any other media form information regarding any of the 2005 Secret Festival screenings. I understand that the Seattle International Film Festival can and will pursue legal action against me in order to recover punitive and financial damages caused by my breach of this contract. I understand that no recording device of any kind is allowed into festival venues and that I may be subject to physical search of my person or personal property upon entrace to festival venues.
Below that is my signature. I would give the movie a 2 out of 5.

Watching Ladies in Lavender (2005-05-22)

As we anticipated, Daniel Brühl was beautiful in Ladies in Lavender, but so was Natascha McElhone. The movie had less political paranoia than I expected; at its gentle heart it was a leisurely comedy on romantic regret. While Ryan cried, I gave it a 3 out of 5.

Watching Saint Ralph (2005-05-21)

The second film in my SIFF schedule (after Me and You and Everyone We Know and before The Dying Gaul with Peter Sarsgaard) was the Canadian movie Saint Ralph. Set in a Catholic high school, against the backdrop of hormones (an interest in sex and the opposite sex), Saint Ralph is about impossible dreams, faith, and the things that give the stamina to survive suffering. Movies with mothers in comas can make me cry more easily than many. However, I heard a handful of sniffles from elsewhere in the theater during key moments of character development. I gave it a 4 out of 5.

Gordon Downie's cover of the Leonard Cohen song "Hallelujah" was nice. ("I heard there was a secret chord/That David played and it pleased the Lord/But you don't really care for music, do you?/Well it goes like this the fourth, the fifth/The minor fall and the major lift/The baffled king composing hallelujah.")


Watching Peter Sarsgaard (2005-05-21)

Tonight at the Gala Reception at the Red Lion Hotel we met Peter Sarsgaard, in town for "An Evening with Peter Sarsgaard" and the screening of The Dying Gaul. The Dying Gaul was preceded by short film selections showing why Peter received the Golden Space Needle Award for Outstanding Achievement in Acting. His recent parts are much more significant than his earlier roles as Walter Delacroix in Dead Man Walking or Raoul in The Man in the Iron Mask (which I unfortunately watched to see Leonardo DiCaprio)! One of my favorite movies in which Sarsgaard played is Garden State.

The introductions began when Karen and SIFF membership coordinator Tara Morgan left the table at which Ryan and I had been catching up with Steven and Dan, whom we met at last year's SIFF. Kevin and Lisa sat down in Tara's and Karen's places, and later told us about their big trip. Before that, however, we learned that Kevin and Lisa attended the interview, film, and party because Kevin went to Jesuit high school in Connecticut with Peter Sarsgaard. When Peter walked in with Maggie Gyllenhaal (Who knew they were dating?), Kevin and Lisa stood up to talk to them. Ryan and I later joined them.

I remarked to Peter that his character's roles as lover of a married man was similar in Kinsey and The Dying Gaul. He replied that Robert in The Dying Gaul was much more aggressive than Clyde Martin in Kinsey. Ryan complimented Peter on his portrayal of a gay man, particularly a scene in The Dying Gaul in which he grieves his lost lover. That scene reminded Ryan of his best friend Mika. Ryan also touched Peter's very short, low-maintenance hair.

Partygoers continuously asked for Peter's and Maggie's autographs. When Peter stepped away with Tara, Kevin asked Maggie if she made movies as well. Maggie mentioned Secretary and Criminal. Ryan took the opportunity to discuss Maggie's movies, particularly Mona Lisa Smile (a sort of Dead Poet's Society for girls). He also complimented her on her style, asked if she had fashion help, and asked if she followed magazine comments on her dress. She dresses herself and doesn't care what the press says.

Finally, Ryan told her that he thought both she and Jake were beautiful, and asked her to tell her younger brother that at least one person in Seattle thinks he's hot. Momentarily thinking only of Jake Gyllenhaal--and forgetting that Maggie was in the same movie--I remarked that we were sorry Jake didn't attend the Donnie Darko director's cut screening at SIFF last year. (It had been nice to chat with Jena Malone and Mary McDonnell last year, however. Jena Malone--who also played in Life as a House--had been in two other SIFF films I saw: The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys and Saved!) I'd love to meet the star of October Sky and Jordan from Lovely & Amazing. Jake, come to Seattle!

Back to Peter Sarsgaard, The Dying Gaul will be interesting in distribution, given that the story of a gay couple--revolving around Peter's character--is a major plot element. In fact, The Dying Gaul is self-referential, discussing at length how difficult it is for such a film to attract theatergoers, despite the success of Philadelphia. The box office will tell if this is true.


Watching The Tales of Hoffmann (2005-05-20)

Dinner was a disaster due to delays (which nearly led to standing outside McCaw Hall for Act I), but Seattle Opera's Les Contes D'Hoffmann was a good first opera for Ryan and first-opera-in-a-long-time for me. The storyline was straightforward, consisting mostly of three short stories of the poet Hoffmann's ill-fated love for a mechanical doll, a sick singer, and deceptive courtesan. Connecting these stories is the story of Hoffmann's relationship with his Stella and his disguised Muse.


Watching Me and You and Everyone We Know (2005-05-19)

After an interminable introduction, we saw the film and attended the party for the Opening Night Gala. Production managers, mayors, marketing directors, SIFF directors, and program managers spoke for nearly an hour first. Here's advice for speakers: after you've spent time writing your speech, practice it to see how long it is. Then spend additional time making it half as long. Do you really want to sound unprepared to the 2800 people that the Paramount holds? You know who you are. (Dan Webster from Movies and More thought the introduction was long, too.)

In her speech, festival director Helen Loveridge answered a question that an audience member at the SIFF Preview event had asked: This was the first opening night film by a woman director.

Even Miranda July spoke, briefly, of her Pacific Northwest history with the Film Forum and the Seattle Art Museum. I looked to see if she had problems with her shoes like in Cannes (as Movie City Indie noticed in Miranda July's blog), but I couldn't tell from the balcony.

The 2005 Opening Night film wasn't the sentimental cinematic Hallmark card that the 2004 Opening Night Film The Notebook was. Miranda July's Me and You and Everyone We Know was an arthouse collection of contemporary vignettes connected in surprising (and not always plausible) ways. I think it was a better introduction to independent and foreign film than the previous year. However, the film flirted with sexual boundaries without quite crossing them (offensive opportunities remained fantasy). This bothered some in the audience.

The quirky relationship between Miranda July's Christine Jesperson and John Hawkes' Richard Swersey ties the film together and makes it almost as much comedy as drama. (John Hawkes, by the way, looks a bit like a thin Sean Penn, as though someone had permanently squeezed Sean's face.) Nevertheless the kids carry the story as much as Miranda July and John Hawkes.

The party afterward at the old Seattle Public Library was crowded and loud, with long lines for food and drink. This year, however, the food was much better than last year. We sat next to the owners of one of our favorite haunts, the Trabant Chai Lounge and had a nice conversation. I recognized an employee from Scarecrow Video, but never caught his eye. We left the film and party happy.


Not Watching Episode III (2005-05-20)

GoTech has again generously invited us to a free movie; this time it's Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith Friday at 3:15 PM at the Cinerama. Unfortunately, this again conflicts with previous plans; this time it's with cooking dinner for six at 4:30 PM in our apartment. After dinner, Jason and Tiffany, Richard and Roshelle, and Ryan and I will see The Tales of Hoffmann at the Seattle Opera McCaw Hall.

The Episode III trailers look good. Hayden Christensen even looks like Mark Hamill did. We'll probably see it another day.

Not at Cinerama? (2005-05-19/06-12)

Unlike previous years, this year the Seattle Cinerama and AMC Pacific Place 11 are not in the list of venues for SIFF. Those venues are showing some other movie. If you think that movie is bad and don't like the acting, don't blame Hayden Christensen; he did well as the brooding, intense rebel in Life as a House. (Thank Movie City Indie for the link to the review.)


Watching Wil Wheaton (1986/2005)

Years ago my girlfriend Vickie showed me the excellent Rob Reiner movies Stand by Me and The Princess Bride. Stand by Me starring Wil Wheaton is still one my half-dozen favorite films. The Princess Bride is still a favorite source of humorous quotations. (I also like Rob Reiner's When Harry Met Sally and A Few Good Men.)

As a formerly geeky, lonely boy whose heroes were authors (C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien), I identified with Stand by Me's Gordie Lachance and wished I had had a friend like Chris Chambers. The sentiment of the song "Stand by Me" struck a chord in me.

Over the years I would see more television series and movies with Gordie Lachance and Chris Chambers, or rather Wil Wheaton (Star Trek: The Next Generation, December) and River Phoenix (The Mosquito Coast, Little Nikita, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, My Own Private Idaho, Dogfight, Sneakers), respectively. The opposition between Allie Fox played by Harrison Ford (an unusual role for him) and Charlie Fox played by River Phoenix in The Mosquito Coast was amazing. The friendship between Scott Favor played by Keanu Reeves and Mike Waters played by River Phoenix in My Own Private Idaho is poignant. (It was one of the few roles in which Keanu Reeve's wooden style worked.) Little Nikita was a movie with an excellent idea and inane execution, but River Phoenix's acting was not to blame. His early death from drugs was a shock.

I never understood why people thought Wil Wheaton's Wesley Crusher character in Star Trek: The Next Generation was so annoying. A boy genius saving the crew was close to my own daydreams. What irrational aversion leads to the formation of a Usenet newsgroup alt.wesley.crusher.die.die.die? Perhaps people were jealous of a character that was cute and smart, and both made out with Ashley Judd and saved the universe.

Wil Wheaton also did well in December. December is a decent film, filled with dialogue. (I like listening to conversation; my enthusiasm for the Richard Linklater films Before Sunrise, Waking Life, and Before Sunset--which we saw at SIFF last year--is evidence of that.)

A few years ago I discovered that Wil Wheaton not only played a geek on television, he is a geek in real life. He even maintains his own website, WIL WHEATON dot NET. I mentioned this to my friend Andrew, who became a regular reader, referencing WWdN in our email correspondence. Now, thanks to Bloglines, I am a regular reader as well.

Listening to Earlimart at Crocodile Cafe (2004-10-05)

I tuned into The Beat on 94.9 KUOW Seattle's NPR News and Information Station and heard music that Elliot Smith might have made. I first noticed the music of Elliot Smith in the Good Will Hunting soundtrack, especially "Miss Misery." It wasn't Elliot Smith playing on KUOW, however.

On that edition of The Beat, the Music Review with Cheryl Waters was Treble and Tremble by Earlimart. I thought she said they were playing that night at Seattle's Tractor Tavern, but when I sent an email message to KUOW, the reply indicated the show was at the Crocodile Cafe. KUOW staff also sent this review:

Treble and Tremble
Palm Pictures

You almost don't have to know all the trivia surrounding Earlimart to intuit what Treble & Tremble is about. This time out, the Southern California band delivers a gorgeous love note to the late Elliott Smith. The cover art alone is an homage -- a simple sketch that suggests love, friendship, tears, holiness and a goodbye, its message underlined by Smith's representative "xo"s. And then there's album opener "Hold On Slow Down", which will be enough to bring Smith's legions of fans to tears...again. Over haunting piano chords, songwriter Aaron Espinoza speaks directly to Smith, his message a loving farewell that seems to cross the barriers of time and death. You don't have to know that Espinoza and Smith were friends. You don't even have to see the album dedication on the last page of the insert ("Treble & Tremble is dedicated to our friend Elliott Smith"); in every word and every chord, the album is for him. Still, marking Treble & Tremble as an album purely for Elliott Smith fans would be a mistake. Even without context, it's one of the best and most moving albums of the year. Bathed in warm melodies and sweet crescendos, it's the kind of record that grows on you with each spin, yielding a new favorite song with passing days. Your first favorite might be "Broke the Furniture"; its perfect slide guitar hook and Espinoza's gentle vocals make it capable of sustaining repeated listens in the double and triple digits. After you've accustomed yourself to the gentle textures of one song, though, more wonders await. In short, Treble & Tremble is anything but a hit-or-miss record. From start to finish, from sparse piano ballads to sunny California pop, Earlimart have produced an unfailingly satisfying album. Mood has much to do with Treble & Tremble's greatness. Espinoza has acknowledged that the record is fundamentally about love, and that intention comes across in eloquent soft-focus. Treble & Tremble is a must-have for anyone who shed a tear at Elliott Smith's untimely demise; it's just the kind of loving memorial his life and songs required, and Earlimart deserves thanks for that. However, to the band's credit, the album also transcends its memorial status. It might just as well have been dedicated to anyone who's loved and lost...and loved again.
The Earlimart show at the Crocodile was excellent. I'm glad I went. However, all I brought home from the show was a poster. Yesterday Ryan bought me the CD, so I'm enjoying the music again now.

Watching Tube (2005-05-13)

I'm a fan of foreign films, but I see that Korean action movies have plot devices similar to action movies made in the United States. (I can't quite reach. Give me your hand! My emotions give me a second wind for bezerk fighting. Something small stopped the bullet that appeared to kill.) Distressing chat interrupted my viewing, but Tube still seemed long at not quite 2 hours.


Listening to Garden State soundtrack (2004-07)

Ryan and I saw the film Garden State with dear friends and liked it, but I like its soundtrack even more (a sample is available). Ryan bought the CD for me. I especially like these songs:
  • Frou Frou, "Let Go"
  • Cary Brothers, "Blue Eyes"
  • Colin Hay "I Just Don't Think I'll Ever Get Over You"
  • Remy Zero, "Fair"
  • Simon & Garfunkel, "The Only Living Boy in New York"
We've heard "Blue Eyes" on Seattle's 103.7 The Mountain KMTT. While I very much like "Let Go" (despite not understanding its meaning), the other songs have more guitar, earning them a place in my current favorite folk rock guitar music:
  • Remy Zero, "Fair"
  • Simon & Garfunkel, "The Sound of Silence"
  • Indigo Girls, "Least Complicated"
  • Simon & Garfunkel, "The Only Living Boy in New York"
  • Cary Brothers, "Blue Eyes"
  • Simon & Garfunkel, "Song for the Asking"
  • Cat Stevens, "Morning Has Broken"
  • Simon & Garfunkel, "For Emily, Whenever I may Find Her"
  • Colin Hay, "I Just Don't Think I'll Ever Get Over You"
  • Simon & Garfunkel, "Kathy's Song"
  • Indigo Girls, "Power of Two"
  • Simon & Garfunkel, "America"
  • Cat Stevens, "The Wind"
  • Simon & Garfunkel, "Homeward Bound"
  • James Taylor, "Fire and Rain"
  • Simon & Garfunkel, "Mrs. Robinson"
  • Kings of Convenience, "Homesick"
  • Simon & Garfunkel, "I Am a Rock"
  • Kings of Convenience, "Cayman Islands"
  • Simon & Garfunkel, "The 59th Street Bridge Song"
  • Kings of Convenience, "Surprise Ice"
I'd love to learn to play these--or even the first (easiest) five of these--on the guitar. Later I would like to learn Eagles "Seven Bridges Road", Dire Straits "Sultans of Swing" or "Walk of Life", or songs from Afro Celt Soundsystem, CSNY, Fleetwood Mac, Gypsy Kings, Mark Knopfler, or Paul Simon.

While writing of the Kings of Convenience, I'll note that their "I'd Rather Dance with You" video is cute. It is available in several places.

Watching Clerks (2005-05-12)

Last night Ryan and I watched Clerks, the first full-length movie Kevin Smith (Silent Bob of the Jay-and-Silent-Bob duo) directed. It was funny; I especially liked the cat on the counter. The only other Kevin Smith movie I've seen is Dogma. (Alanis Morissette had a nice role.) I haven't seen Chasing Amy.

Watching Night of the Twisters

Jim mentions Night of the Twisters, the first of a series of low-rated movies I watched years ago to see Devon Sawa. Will someone give this pretty boy a role in a better movie than Robin of Locksley, The Boys Club, Wild America, SLC Punk!, Idle Hands, and Final Destination? (A Cool, Dry Place was an acceptable adaptation of the novel Dance Real Slow.)

Seeing Earthling? (2005-05-26)

One of our clients, GoTech, has invited Jim and me to celebrate its 9th Anniversary on Thursday, May 26, with the SIFF presentation of Earthling. After a 4-6 PM reception on GoTech's deck, we would walk to The Neptune to see the 7:15 PM showing. Keen observers will note this conflicts with the --05-26 19:00 screening of Adam & Steve. It might be possible to give my ticket to the latter to somone else, and perhaps see the --05-28 13:30 screening instead. I have until May 20 to RSVP.

At The Neptune (2005-05-22/06-12)

This year one of the new SIFF venues is The Neptune in the University District. Seventy-five different films will screen there. I plan to see the following films at this theater:

The location is convenient so I could be persuaded to see more. Layer Cake (--05-21 21:30) might be interesting, but I think it will get wider distribution.


Anticipating SIFF (2005-05-11)

Why see these films? I like parties, so I want to attend the Gala Presentations. The opening night is Me and You and Everyone We Know. See below on The Dying Gaul and Cote D'Azur. Red Dust is from Africa (though South Africa, not Kenya or Tanzania where I vacationed). I'm anticipating understanding the Spanish in Bombon, el Perro, part of a program from Argentina. I like Gus Van Sant (particularly My Own Private Idaho, To Die For, Good Will Hunting, and Finding Forrester, but I've also seen Mala Noche and Drugstore Cowboy). I imagine I'll like his closing night film Last Days.

The Secret Festival has been a nice opportunity to see films no longer available, films that "premiere" elsewhere, and films not yet finished. I've bought this membership regularly.

My childhood and boyhood drama involved dying and rejecting mothers. I like to see how other people might grow up. Saint Ralph might have had more reason to be bitter. My friends say I'm a geek--not a dork--so The Night of the Living Dorks could be entertaining. The teens in Mysterious Skin might have had more drama.

My teens and 20s didn't include "coming out" or sexual exploration, so Summer Storm and Last Full Show (part of the Seriously Gay short film package) might show me what I missed. No one expressed suspicions that I was gay (though if I must have a label I prefer "bisexual"), unlike the families in Rice Rhapsody and Cote d'Azur.

The youth in Rock School may have had opportunities I didn't. I like music, so I'm anticipating enjoying the Rock School Jam as well. The Jam is at Neumos. (I heard United State of Electronica there. Alas! The Kings of Convenience show there sold out before I bought a ticket.)

We saw The Dying Gaul as a play at Intiman Theatre a few years ago, so I'm interested to see how it is as a movie. We saw Daniel Brühl in Good Bye Lenin! and are excited to see him again in Ladies in Lavender.

"God made Adam & Eve, not Adam & Steve," they said in the church of my boyhood. Ronda Nocturna is a gay drama from Spanish-speaking Argentina, Inlaws & Outlaws is a gay documentary from Seattle, Rice Rhapsody is a gay comedy from Hong Kong, and Tropical Malady is a gay drama from Thailand. That's variety!--if you're gay. Dreamship Surprise - Period 1 may be campy but I understand it entertained a large German audience.

Finally, the special archival presentation of The Circus had high recommendations at the SIFF preview. (The public preview was at Third Place Books in Lake Forest Park.)

At the SIFF Main Box Office (2005-05-07)

Last Saturday I bought Seattle Internation Film Festival passes: a Gala Pass, Secret Festival Membership, and Film Buff 20 Pack. I also bought individual tickets to matinee and midnight screenings that interested both Ryan and me. My spending spree resulted in the following insane screening schedule (in ISO 8601):