Random Stuff from My Life

Saturday, January 26, 2008

All Thumbs

Now that we have our nice, new living room furniture, we decided that we need something that will be even more destructive to it than we will. So, we got a cat. "Thumbelina." She's polydactyl, which means she's got EXTRA claws--oh joy.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Reviews, Part II

Slamdance Shorts Block 4
The Whole Day Through was a black-and-white story about a (straight) Canadian couple at a house on a deserted lake. She tells him about a dream; he tells her about a hooker. They walk up a hill. They fold out the couch. They have sex. Probably the best part of the film was the sound. Otherwise pretty unremarkable.

Heiko is the story of an elderly foot fetishist who is teased by his young boy-toy. Compressing a festish into a short film leaves out a lot, and then there's the twist ending (old guy collects and preserves the feet of young lovers he's murdered). The lighting was good, and the content was disturbing, but overall this one needed more character development.

Diva was far and away my favorite of all the shorts we saw. I took a picture of Stan with the director and lead actor, who were both in attendance. Here's the plot: a guy confesses to his best friend that he is in love with him. The best friend rejects him, so the guy moves to Paris, dresses in drag, and does this Mary Tyler Moore scene on the steps of a cathedral. A robber snatches his purse (which has the guy's most valued possession--a picture with his former best friend), so the guy chucks off his wig and chases the robber through the streets of Paris in high heels. It's funny and the plot works well for a short. Check out: http://www.onearthproductions.com/diva.php

Knots was totally weird. It was shot for a competition that allowed only one roll of film and no editing. Okay, so I can appreciate the result as an achievement in that respect. But the director had to explain the symbolism to the audience afterwards, so... This one was far and away my LEAST favorite of all the shorts.

Tripp was pretty doggone cool. It's a "day in the life" portrait of a young Latino skateboarder. His sister deals dope. His mother is caring for his brother, a former gangbanger now crippled as a result of a shooting. He's aimless. He runs into another kid and can tell the kid's heading for trouble. The whole thing is shot in black-and-white, with the exception of the logo on the lead character's t-shirt. It was a pretty compelling story, and the lead actor is HOT (even more so in real life; he and the actress who played the sister both attended the screening).

Sundance Shorts Block V
Force 1 TD is another cool flick. This guy is blind, but he's allergic to dogs, so he has a guide pony. He and his two buds are off to prom, so he's got to find new shoes for the pony. One of his friends locates a pair in Jersey, and the other friend "borrows" his brother's Escalade for the trip. They run out of gas. Hilarity ensues. eBay financed the picture. Check out http://www.guidehorse.org/

Green Porno is a set of three one-minute shorts directed by Isabella Rossellini (and starring her in gender-bending roles as the male of different species of bugs). They're cute, but you got the feeling they were just there because she's famous and the Sundance Channel financed them.

Lloyd Neck was great. Two high school boys who have a crush on each other but can't bring themselves to do anything about it. The one's little sister is the perceptive character. Nicely done. Enough character development to let you root for the boys, but not enough for a feature film.

Sunlight Shadows is the same story told twice: once from the man's point of view, and once from the woman's. A couple breaks up. You go through the exact same roll of film twice, with different narration. Unfortunately this works way better in concept than in reality. Who expresses their emotions in such poetical terms? No one this side of the eighteenth century, I'll guarantee you that.

August 15th is the fabulous and disturbing story of a woman who is raped on a bus full of passengers. She makes the robbers/rapists stop the bus and toss off the one guy who tried to come to her aid. Then she kills everyone left on board. It's a true story--happened in China several years ago. It's directed by a Chinese woman. All the production work was done in China, and all the post-production in the U.S.

The Funeral is a comedy about a woman who stages her own funeral. Just because. She's not dying. It's a charming short. I think I have friends who would do something like that.

Finally, I Love Sarah Jane is another zombie flick. This one eschews the sex in favor of a sweet love story--among two teenagers who are fighting the zombies. You've got to love a girl who can kick serious zombie ass!

The Sundance Experience
Although the trip home yesterday was trying, we had a GREAT time overall. Sunday night we were discussing how much better this had been than most of our weekend trips. Now I want to go to more film festivals. Maybe Toronto next.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Reviews, Part I

Okay, I am going to try my hand at movie reviewing, in case any of you care what--rather than whom--we saw at Sundance. Tonight I'm reviewing the feature-length films. In a future installment I will review the shorts.

Megane is that movie. You know the one: Where the "normal" character is somehow immersed into a world full of crazy people, but then gradually begins to question whether SHE is the crazy one instead. Basically the plot of Northern Exposure. Except Megane is that movie really well done. First of all, it's far and away the most visually beautiful movie we saw. It's set on an island at the far south end of Japan, and the lighting is amazing. The pacing is also perfect. It never really drags, but the slowness of development reinforces the "point" of the movie. If you can handle subtitles, I highly recommend this one; it was my festival favorite.

The Linguists
This is a classic buddy pic. You have the hot blond romantic lead and his fat, funny sidekick. Except it's a documentary about linguists, and the "buddies" are two of the world's leading field researchers on dying languages. That's the trick of this movie: how do you make a film about a subject that could be either deathly dry or deeply depressing into something watchable? You do it by mass-appeal filmmaking, complete with a cute marketing campaign. (In one scene, the linguists are discussing the fate of a group of minority languages in India, and the "sidekick" makes a comment about a language called Birhor: "You basically couldn't find a language with a name that sounds worse in English." The publicists passed out buttons that say, "Do you speak BEERWHORE?") Like most mass-appeal filmmaking, the result is not high art. It is, however, highly watchable, and I definitely recommend it.

Love Comes Lately
My basic reaction to this movie was: Huh? I kept waiting to "get it" and I never did. There's this elderly Jewish writer (Otto Tausig) who has a long-term girlfriend (Rhea Perlman) who is paranoid because she has reason to be--he's cheating on her. But the main character keeps lapsing into daydreams about stories he's writing, as well as nightmares, so it's not entirely clear when HE'S cheating or when it's a character in a story and/or dream who's cheating. There are a couple other "name" stars in the movie, but none of them can keep this from being a confused mess. Save your money. But if you don't take my advice, at least explain it to me.

Otto; or, Up With Dead People
This one somehow calls for alliteration. There's this domineering Deutsche dyke director who's producing a porn piece with a political point. Her movie, "Up With Dead People," is an allegory in which the oppression of gay zombie subculture in Berlin is a metaphor for the destructive power of global capitalism. But scenes from her movie are interspersed with the (un)life of her star, Otto, who is a REAL zombie (maybe), who's acting like an actor acting like a zombie. Got it? Oh, and the director's girlfriend (Hella Bent) is a silent movie star (literally) who is shown only in black and white, even when she's in scenes with other people in color. Anyway, it turns out that Otto really IS the "living dead" but maybe that's only because his boyfriend dumped him and his parents sent him to a mental institution. In other words, it's possible that he's not literally a zombie. But then again, it's possible that he is. The sex scenes in this one are not for the squeamish. But if you've always wondered what full frontal necrophilia looks like on film, this one's for you. "Interesting" should win the Grand Jury prize for understatement.

Savage Grace
Based on a true-crime book about a wealthy family (progeny of the inventor of Bakelite, an early type of plastic). Most of the film takes place between 1959 and 1972, so it's the 60's and everyone is sleeping with everyone else. Literally. The son is gay, but he's also having sex with his mother (played by Julianne Moore). The father leaves the mother and runs off with the son's girlfriend (though it's not clear she and the son ever actually consummated their affair). Anyway, the son ends up stabbing the mother and then eating Chinese take-out while waiting for the ambulance. Yes, all of this really happened. Moore gives a good performance, but Eddie Redmayne as the son is outstanding. It's not exactly a light-hearted family pic, but if you're in the mood to see how dysfunctional rich people can be, this one is unforgettable.

Sunday, January 20, 2008


Well, Sundance is interesting. Some good films, some "experimental" films. Not a ton of A list people wandering the streets, but you definitely feel like you're part of a scene. Check out the mobile blog for hourly updates: http://oxyrum798.blogspot.com

Saturday, January 12, 2008

The potatoes get a couch

Well, it's no $15,000 steak, but I had a $2150 lunch today. Quizno's was only eight bucks; the furniture store accounted for the rest. Burgundy leather sofa and chair. I hope I like them once they get here. I should, right? I've always wanted a burgundy leather sofa. And Nate Berkus said last night on Oprah to get the best one you can afford. Not sure we can actually afford two thousand bucks at the moment, but it's the annual sale with one year no-interest financing (the same one that induced us to acquire a new dining table twelve months ago). Plus, our New Year's resolution was to spend less money on travel so we're nesting instead.

We started this odyssey last week, but I was torn between living room and bedroom furniture. We'd been talking about moving the futon into the spare bedroom, along with the new TV. But our next major purchase was supposed to be a nice bedroom suite. Didn't find anything I liked on the bedroom front. We could have gotten several pieces that matched our entertainment center, in preparation for the day we have a master bedroom large enough to have the entertainment center in it. But I'm not so crazy about the entertainment center that I want to commit to that style for the next 20 years. Instead, we shuffled things around--travel books out of the entertainment center; CD's and tapes out of the antique credenza and into the entertainment center; moved the bed onto another wall; moved the credenza into the bedroom to use as a dresser; moved the chest of drawers from the spare room into our room. Without the credenza taking up space, it's obvious that the living room can support additional furniture. Thus, I went on the hunt for a living room grouping.

The Husband wanted a reclining sofa, but when I found the nice leather set--on sale--I figured we could get him a separate recliner in the future, since this grouping is sans love seat. He hasn't seen what I bought yet. He's taking an AutoCAD refresher course at the local community college this weekend, so I went shopping by myself. It's so nice to have a trusting mate...

Anyway, even more exciting than a new sofa is the fact that American Idol starts back up this week!

In other news, I am no longer having buyer's remorse about the laptop. I am discovering the limits of the Q, and I managed to download some nice malware onto the desktop on New Year's Day, so that is currently in the shop.

And in continuing Sundance coverage, I went on the web Wednesday night and found out that every single showing we had planned for Sunday was already sold out (first and second choices). So, we had to rearrange our plans a little bit. But I successfully connected Thursday morning at the appointed time and ordered everything on our revamped list. We're going to see five films (three in Salt Lake and two in Park City), plus a program of shorts. And we've also got tickets to a shorts block for the alternative Slamdance festival. My boss is jealous; apparently she has wanted to go to Sundance for years.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

I've got a song in my heart

So many lyrics come to mind today: "I can see clearly now, the rain is gone." "Here comes the rain again." "Stormy weather."

First of all, let me assure all you Midwesterners out there that we are safe, warm, and have all the conveniences of modern life at our disposal. Apparently there were 723 houses here in town that lost power at some point, but we were never among them. Both my dad and my sister called last night to make sure we were okay, and we most assuredly are. No downed tree limbs. No flooded streets. From the news, it sounds like everywhere in California has been hit hard by this storm except in our immediate vicinity. This morning's paper showed a redwood through the lobby of a motel about 40 miles south of here, and a boat that had been beached about 25 miles north, but nothing like that here. Stan's boss was interviewed for TV because there were winds clocked at 104 just south of San Fran where he lives. We had some wind, but nothing like that.

Instead, we have had intermittent bursts of sunshine between the storm fronts for the last three days. That's only part of why "I can clearly now" comes to mind, though. The other event that calls that song to mind is that we just got home from our annual eye exams. My prescription changed a little, Stan's not at all. A friend recently sent me a link about buying glasses online, so I think I'll try that. (If it works, I'll post the link.)

That's the sum total of the (lack of) excitement in our world this weekend. Other than the eye exam and grocery shopping, I've spent some time today re-working (again) our possible schedule for Sundance. Five more days 'til our ticket-buying time slot rolls around!