Monday, June 16, 2008

culture round-up

i've been behind on my reporting lately. at least it gives me an excuse to craft an epic post that delves, with excruciating attention to detail, into all the nooks and crannies of my cultural consumption of the last little while. first up: film reviews.

i saw "lars and the real girl" almost a month ago, on a rainy saturday spent indoors, knitting. it was okay. as much as the weather conspired to create a suitably cozy, grey, woolen ambiance to appreciate the wintry tones and chilled hush of the film's atmosphere, i don't think that summer temperatures are conducive to this kind of introspective film. or maybe i'm just too impressionable and eager to divest myself of artistic-with-a-capital-A "important" films and embrace the heady, sensory-overload whirligig of genre blockbusters when summer heat comes a'calling. seasonal-based genre classifications aside, i'm kind of tired of these kinds of films. the quirky odd-ball dramedy featuring a beguiling band of lost souls and square pegs coalescing around the lost-est soul of them all. meh. it stretched my ability to suspend disbelief and it didn't help that ryan gosling's handsome face and doe eyes were hidden beneath a ridiculous pederast's moustache and a near-constant, idiotic smirk.

"how she move" is a poor (destitute, really) man's "stomp the yard" in the same way bubba sparks is a poor man's paul wall. it wears its toronto-based narrative on its' sleeve, which unfortunately translates to hideous approximations of irie, island-accents, low-grade choreography and not enough dancing. throw into the mix the fact that all the "high school" actors look about 35 at best and things start to get a little too community-theatre/youth outreach group project for my liking. the funniest thing was a) the cameo by sean desmond, and b) the fact that dr. rei, dotytron, and myself kept talking smack about kardinal offishall's horrible acting and dancing - using his performance as a stand-in for all the movie's low-budget faults, only to find, come the rolling of the credits, that it WASN'T kardinal at all, which makes us judgmental racists. ha!

i caught glimpses and snatches of "the kingdom" when i was awakened by the gratuitous cacophony of machine-gun fire that punctuates every 10 minutes of the film. i had originally gone to sleep lulled by how utterly BORING it was, my eyelids drooping heavily even as my moral compass stirred with outrage over how OFFENSIVE and RACIST it managed to be simultaneously. jason bateman as a jacked-up, solve-problems-with-brute-force fbi agent? miscast, much? there wasn't even a tangible message to be found. was it trying to tell us that the americans were wrong? that the terrorists brought their bullet-riddled fates upon themselves by bombing "innocent" americans? i can't even credit the movie with having enough good sense to purposefully muddle the borders between right and wrong, black and white. this certainly wasn't a premeditated, calculated attempt to show how it's impossible to make clear-cut distinctions, oh no. there simply was NO THESIS to be teased out at all. blech.

"gone, baby gone" was decent, i guess. i'm not familiar with the dennis lehane story upon which it is based, so i don't know if my problems with the narrative are the fault of the author, or the screenwriter/adapter. there were some major plot holes and contrivances that i found difficult to swallow. amy ryan gives a stand-out performance, at once leathery and brittle, steeped in cheep beer and nicotine-stained fingers. omar from "the wire" is wasted in a five minute role. without spoiling too much, casey affleck's final decision makes no sense to me. when i talked about it with my film friend, D at work today, he said something pretty true (he thought it was overrated crap). D thinks it breaks down because he doesn't believe that michelle monaghan and casey affleck's characters make sense or are plausible as both a couple OR as private investigators. i have to agree. michelle monaghan's character gets schlepped around from place to place like a particularly eye-appealing dressmakers' dummy. it was entertaining, though unnecessarily creepy and grim. i always forget that there's THAT side to boston. in my head, it's all verdant, crisp, tree-buffered ivy league schools and independence trails and world-class restaurants. i've always wanted to go, but now i'm not so sure. the dotytron reassured me by saying that we just wouldn't venture into the southie. phew!

we watched most of "sweeney todd: the demon barber of fleet street" last night. BOOOOOOOOORING. utterly, hopelessly boring. which isn't to say that i wasn't taken with sondheim's score. loved the music. the lyrics and delivery, not so much. johnny depp sings like david bowie. i dunno...i just didn't give a s**t. i found the music to be at odds with the staging...usually with musicals, you're swept up in the performers' singing, their ability to transfix you (even as the staging is for the most part, fairly static) by channeling the suppressed kinetic energy into their voices, which provide all the action, so to speak. when you have less than adequate singers, they can't put the same narrative oomph into the songs, so then you're left with stiff staging, which leads me to check out and take the opportunity to manufacture some z's.

phew. that's a lot of typing. i'll save the books for another day.

last night we ended up at astoria on the danforth for dinner. the 1 time every 2 years i eat greek food (i do, after all, live smack dab in the heart of "greektown"), i always *think* that i'm craving it, and then prove to be very very wrong. meh...i hate mass-market greek food. especially on the danforth, where it's diffidently prepared at best. we split an appetizer platter with fried calamari (rubbery), dolmades (gross), taramosalata (okay), hummous (b.o.-y from too much white pepper), and spanakopita (tough). we also got saganaki (good, but no-brainer - it's fried cheese, fer crissakes) and split the large pork souvlaki, which came with terrible mccain's fries and those mountains of starch that pass for potatoes in these "greek" places. ew! it was nice just being with the dotytron though, getting caught in the rain on our walk back.

i made banana cupcakes with cream cheese frosting for the dotytron's last class with the catholic school board for the school year (he has another friday class who'll be getting the same). i made a banana bread early in the year and the kids universally went loco for it (to put it mildly). so i knew this was going to be a winner.

tonight for dinner i made panini with olive tapenade, basil leaves, roasted peppers and goat's cheese with caesar salad (i eat a lot of caesar salad, i know...i like croutons, okay?).



dr.rei said...

guy, you got it a bit twisted...i thought we decided that paul wall was a poor man's bubba sparks? either way, LOL. huge LOL at us thinking that guy was kardi.

steph said...

OMG, if you had dissed Sondheim's music or lyrics, I would have had to whoop your ass! I love Sondheim hard. At least you could appreciate that about the movie. Good woman.