Thursday, May 31, 2007

Once - highly recommended

I really didn't start this blog to give my opinions about movies. Really, what's it matter what I think the larger sense? But since many of my pals do look to me for recommendations - I tend to see more, and often sooner, that's why I go on about it. With mixed feelings. Hate the idea of adding more clutter to the blogsphere but when there's good work out there, you can't help but champion. Like for Once - what a lovely movie! Simple, sweet, romantic, wonderful music, very satisfying. A perfect antitode to summer big movie extravaganza bloat.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Incidental Star Gazing

I've been hesitating mentioning this because celebrity gossip is so not my bag. And this isn't even gossip. It's just idle opinion. But I can't stop thinking about it.

The other night, I had a really fun innocent time watching the IFC Cannes Cam pre-show for Death Proof. I was riveted by the red carpet antics. It was a high wattage occasion for the stars and papparrazi. There were a bevy of great looking ladies, in particular - Rosario Dawson, as awesome as ever. (I spent a fair amount of time following her Cannes appearance last year for Clerks 2, and as perfectly real and down to earth as she was in the film, she was gorgeous in every single image from Cannes. I don't think she can take a bad photo!) Again, this year, beautiful and sexy as hell in a shimmery, crystal sheath, fit to a tee. Zoe Bell, the real life stunt woman was gorgeous as well, and looking surprisingly comfy glamoured up. Then came Rose McGowan. On the arm of Robert Rodriguez. He looked stunning in his trademark black cowboy hat and suit, and stood as still as a buddha. Rose, on the other hand, kept messing with her dress - pulling the strapless top up, futzing with the hem, her shoes, looking like she needed to turn back, then posing like mad. Rosario and Zoe looked fantastic but also relaxed, and happy, and ready for a really fun time. Good-time girls! To me Rose looked needy and calculated, sticking out her butt, twisting for the angle, asserting her chest. It was all work and image.

Now of course this is ridiculous for me to even write. I'm talking about watching these stars on a 3 inch square on my computer captured on an overhead camera. Who am I to judge? Ridiculous of course, but fascinating all the same. Joni Mitchell's lines in my head: "Stoking the star maker machinery, behind the popular song."

Love this ad

Saturday, May 26, 2007

These wonderful films actually made by women

After the Wedding was totally worth the wait. Textured, nuanced, lovely. One could, I guess, complain about the soap opera aspects but overall, it was gorgeous and involving. Really loved the thriving middle-aged marriage. The leads stellar. Definitely recommend.

What I realized as I left the Arbor today, is how four of the last excellent films I've seen were all directed by women. Five if you count the doc Manufactured Landscapes. The Namesake was directed by Mira Nair. Away from Her by the actress Sarah Polley. Waitress by the late actress/director Adrienne Shelly. After the Wedding by Susanne Bier. I loved all these films. They were all beautifully made with tremendously interesting performances and engaging story lines.

People, well people I often talk to, are often bemoaning the lack of women directors. Where are they? Why is it so much harder for them to sustain careers? And don't even bring up Nora Ephron or Nancy Meyers. They may make commercially successful films but they really don't speak for me. I thought Something's Gotta Give was one of the most sexist, offensive films ever! But thinking about it, over the decades it's clear that women have had it harder, and it's always been hard to understand why. Particularly in the independent arena where there really was/is an even playing field. This is a lovely new development. Even though I know it's still the art ghetto world gross-wise. Still lovely to see and experience. Next up that I'm looking forward to? Julia Loktev's Day Night Day Night and Julie Taymor's Across the Universe.

Friday, May 25, 2007

How wide is the movie playing?

Cool new imdb feature. Actually, haven't a clue how new this is but I just discovered it today. When you look up a film now at imdb, it'll show the local showtimes for your current area. And, if you click "more", it'll show you how widely the film is playing across the U.S. This came in super handy this morning to resolve a light dispute with John last night. We'd been talking about Bug, which many people went crazy for at the 2006 Fantastic Fest at the Alamo South. I read somewhere it was opening wide. John was like, I doubt it. Today I showed him this. (granted this link will only work presently. visiting this post down the road won't make any sense.)

Movie Date - After The Wedding print astray

John wanted me to blog about this. We had a movie plan today. At noon he would catch up with Away From Her, while I would finally get to see After The Wedding at 12:10. I've been waiting for this movie to come to Austin since I first heard of it. Was that Cannes or Toronto 2006? I read about it in Anne's Thompson's blog and was totally intrigued. So I've been waiting. Missed it at sxsw doing something else. Turning down a screener offer to see it on the big screen.

Marked the opening day on my calendar April 18. Um, it didn't open then. Marked the new opening day, down on May 18st. Didn't open then either! Austin's like that, on the second or even third tier of desirable cities for traditional art films. Different story for horror, sci-fi, violence or cult. But for art films, plenty of excellent films get here late or never come at all. It can be frustrating. (Of course we do have the awesome Austin Film Society to help plug the gap. Essential Cinema and AFS@Dobie particularly.)

I'm expecting to love it though I haven't read a single review, feature or blog. I just feel drawn. We have this pinpoint timing. After both films break, we'll grab a quick bite at the FireBowl Cafe and together see Waitress at 3pm.

I hustle back from pilates a little late, having renewed my series. John barks on the phone, "dont screw this up." I run in the house, change my clothes, get right back up north ("out of town" one of our ignorant Californian transplants said) and walk up to the box office with 8 minutes to spare. But what, hey wait....Chalk is playing. That's great for those guys! Really like the filmmakers and the film. But what's that mean for After the Wedding. Hmmm, scanning the board, Damn, the first show's at 6:45. What's up with that??!!! We ask. The cashier explains, "the print didn't arrive yet. We're waiting." John cracks up, "I can't believe this! You've been waiting for months. You're here for the first show on the first day. And the print's not here!"

So John's buys his ticket. I head off for a Starbucks and to run some random errands. We recovene at the FireBowl at 2pm. Both crazy love Waitress. Another day again for me for After the Wedding. Hope it's worth the wait.

Adrienne Shelly's Waitress - Highly Recommended

Just back from Adrienne Shelly's film Waitress. Dumbfounded by how good it is. During the first scene I groaned, worried how I'd get though the next hour-and-a-half of the icky cutsiness. Minutes later the dread slipped away and I let myself slide in. I started caring and laughing and engaging in a surprisingly strong way. Shelly created a kind of artificial nutty world that really works, anchored by the tour-de-force performance by Keri Russell. She is amazing, perfect actually, in a role that would probably seem impossible on paper. But it's not just Russell -- all the performances are fine, with Andy Griffith a standout, Cheryl Hines pitch perfect, Nathan Fillion darling, and Jeremy Sisto more cringe-inducing than ever. The film is highly entertaining; it starts as fluff put pays off in a deeply emotional way.

It's a rather stunning achievement, and therefore, all the more devastating to consider Shelly's senseless murder right before the film's premiere at Sundance 2007. As the credits rolled, John and I were both sniffling and tearing from the film itself, but also from the tragic loss of its creator.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

IFC Cannes Cam

This is a lot of fun. I got totally addicted last year, reminded by Tom Hall's nostalgic post. It's a three inch square window onto the famed Cannes red carpet. At off hours, you can hear the wind blowing through the palms, the foot and car traffic whizzing by, and before the premieres, a hosted look at the red carpet arrivals. This year Austin's sxsw film producer Matt Dentler has been co-hosting a bunch of the shows. I missed U2 performing - damn! But otherwise really a lot of fun - just to see the gowns alone.

To see live:

Monday, May 21, 2007


And how funny is this? John and my mother (back in NYC) both sent me the same exact card! Besides the perfect sentiment, the front is covered in glitter! Something I love.

24th wedding anniversary

It's our 24th wedding anniversary. 25 years together. Wow - I never could have imagined that reality earlier in my life. And what a great time it's been! I've been thinking about this for months, writing about it in different ways. Every year more appreciative, more full of wonder. How the bond becomes even more sacred. So today nothing long or fancy. Just a true exclamation of gratitude for the love and partnership I've been lucky enough to experience in this life.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Nice surprise driving up Lamar

The other day I was driving up Lamar. Marveling at Austin. Thinking about all the people on the street. I spy a short woman jogging in a sports bra and shorts and remember again, how our physical bodies do affect our destinies. Just past Whole Foods I notice a young girl in jeans and black tee. There's something unique and interesting about how she's walking. Not sure why, it something abut the way her hips move. Wondering about that, eye from hips to tattoo on her lower back and side, suddenly recognition hits. That's my daughter! It's not the gait that's familiar but the tattoos. I honk and crack up and I pull into the next parking lot to say hi.

Knitting and the internet

Who knew that there are about a billion knitters out there, and they all seem to blog! It's incredible. For years I was aware of my old babysitter's blog. And amused. She pretty much never responds to email yet has been blogging constantly for several years. She started right after she got her masters in biology and decided knitting was more interesting. I visit her obsessive and delightful blog from time to time, noticing the growing community that she both writes about and links to. But it seemed pretty specific.

I started knitting as a kid. I delved into many crafts and mastered none. Then when I hooked up with John, I needed something to do during his endless baseball watching. This would have been @ 1981. I was a disaster at life size garments, but could make wonderful neck hoodie things and adorable baby clothes. Which I did until I had my own babies. Then I stopped. I no longer had free time or available hand use. Around that time I also got totally addicted to computers, which is also hand intensive.

Over the years I 've dabbled a bit. Made a fabulous green mohair scarf that's too itchy. Made my mom another hoodie which she loves. Spent a week knitting a scarf for my sister while visiting her in Amsterdam. Earlier this year, watching John and Richard Linklater talk publicly during sxsw, I spied someone knitting in front of me, and became entranced. Luckily she was someone I knew so I emailed right when I got home and got the details. During the basketball playoffs, (Damn that Suns/Spurs series was amazing! And the Mavs/Golden State before that!) I got the itch. So I started again. Having a question or two, I idly started googling and man, what a surprise!! Blog after blog after blog of knitting progress and discussion. Helpful tips. Photos of balls of yarns. Tips and links. Phenomenal really, the creative impulse and impulse to share. Pretty great.

Friday, May 18, 2007

100 Movies, 100 Quotes, 100 Numbers

This is actually fantastic. Thanks to Joe Leydon for the tip.

Away from Her - Highly Recommended

Sarah Polley's directorial debut Away From Her , adapted by a short story by Alice Munro, is even better than I expected. Already predisposed to connect to this highly acclaimed feature about a long married couple when the wife (played by Julie Christie) slides into alzheimer's - I was knocked out. The film is beautiful, stunning, superb. Moving, complex, perfectly realized. A movie about love for grown ups. How wise - and how crazy that it should have been adapted and directed by a young actress. Bravo! Thank you!

From Marge Baumgarten's Austin Chronicle Review:
Do not be deterred by anyone callously describing Away From Her as an "Alzheimer's film starring that old Dr. Zhivago beauty" or some such. Away From Her, like its dominant image of the tracks in the snow made fresh, time and again, from cross-country skiing, is a phantom of a movie whose beautiful flakes fall into the deep crevices of memory long after the seasons change.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Changing Nature of Artists and Audiences

Really interesting NYT Sunday Magazine article by Clive Thompson on the changing nature of artists/musicians and their audience: Sex, Drugs and Updating Your Blog

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Celebrating Mother's Day

Mother's Day hadn't even crossed my radar til a friend asked, "Big plans for Mother's Day?" Uh, oh, damn, oops better get a card to my mother in the mail. About to remind to John, but then realize ahh no, for him, this year, the first time without a mom. I make it to the post office just in time.

Next up, the perennial, what should we do to make it special? The three April birthdays in a row (each 2 weeks apart to the day!) take a lot out of us. We're low level celebrators, not high party people. But we do like to eat. To me celebrations always involve a good meal, so ok, where to go this year?

Last year, in the endless go-around, "what do you want to eat? I don't know, what do you want?" I whined, "It's Mother's Day! I'm not cooking." My son Wyatt responded with some magical logic, "It's Mother's Day, so you should express your love to us by cooking." I think that's what he said. I'm sure we went out - and experienced what we always experience on Mother's Day - way too overcrowded restaurants with lots of waiting around time. So this year, with Wyatt's words in my head, I decided to cook. A simple meal, but one I know everyone likes (such a favorite I actually had to retire it from my limited repertoire because even I grew totally sick of it...but now it's been several months.) We'll gather here on the late side, after the kids' have enjoyed swimming on this broiling Texas May Sunday, and John and I have emerged from end of semester screenings. My own mother's response, "That kid is destined for great things - anybody who can convince his mother that she ought to cook for the family on Mother's Day is destined for a position of power --let's just hope whatever it is, it's legal!"

Twenty years into this life as a mother - so much to be grateful for.

Friday, May 11, 2007

What are you saying?

One of John's most constant retorts is, "What are you saying?" And it always surprises me because I'm like, "I just said, what I said. Which part don't you understand?" What I too often forget is the distance between what's intended and what's received.

My daughter's a classic case in this regard. For years she would spew conversations back to us that we were sure we never had. Eventually, she went through some neurological testing and the psychologist said, "your daughter has issues surrounding her audio processing. It's not that she can't hear, it's about how she's processing what she's hearing. She's missing parts but doesn't realize it because her brain just fills in on her own. So in effect she just makes up what she's not hearing and thinks that's what being said." Which, duh, yeah that's exactly what it felt like to us. But to her, her imaginary construct was real.

It's something I forget and need to remember more often. Not only in the natural order of things - because as I age I find I often actually use the wrong words. "Mom, didn't you mean "knife" when you said "window?" That's on top of the normal disconnect. The real question is how to verify that what we've intended to be said, is actually heard with the same intention? How do we learn to do that?

Friday Night Lights returns - Yeah!!!!!

Joining the chorus to cheer for the renewal of Friday Night Lights for another season! And thrilled they're returning to shoot in Austin. This is a great show. Truly satisfying on so many levels. The acting is superb, the stories true and engaging. We particularly love the coach and his wife who're bringing us one of the best representations of a real marriage anywhere. If you haven't watched - start. You can either catch the streams or pick up the season One DVD this summer. Don't miss it! It's fantastic.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Texas Speak

Oh maybe this isn't even a Texas expression but when I heard it today via a great Texas drawl in shortspeak about the current political process, I just loved it:
There's a lot of gasoline on the ground and people walking around with matches.

Texas Heat

When my pal Amy first went to Fiji with John, to lay the groundwork for our family moving here, I asked her how she handled the heat - particularly because she always wears jeans and boots. "I changed my underwear three times a day." Which really made me laugh and also impressed me. Well I now I think of Amy every damned Texas day as I imitate her ritual. It's essential. When John catches me, he's surprised. Our weather tolerances as different as our eating habits.

And ironically, weather - that goofy universal subject (though hardly goofy in terms of real life and death issues) is currently the most formidable force for us. It sounds like a ridiculous joke but frankly, his adoration of the heat, and my intolerance is our biggest obstacle.

And not directly related but reminding me of my favorite poem when small:
Fatty and Skinny went to bed
When Fatty rolled over, Skinny was dead.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

zen salsa

I'm still going to salsa classes though real life film and fun events have interfered with my steady schedule. So I go when I can, each class harder than the last to walk into. You'd think that'd be the opposite since I've been going since August. For awhile some months ago maybe it was getting easier - I was in the flow, getting better, feeling really good about the immersion. Then John's Monday master class knocked out that preferred class, with conflicts on the good Thursdays and least interesting Sundays as well. Now it's the same syndrome: what should I wear? (How to downplay my natural zaftig voluptuous shape, stay covered, yet not too hot?) Will anyone dance with me during the warm-up? Often that's a no, except for guys I don't want to dance with either. For some it's a height thing, for others age. I'm sure weight's a factor too. I'm come to understand how most of the guys are trolling for the young hot girls. Of course. It takes everything I have not to bolt with humiliation. The class begins. If there are more women I'm miserable with the downtime. If the guys present happen not to be able to dance, even worse. It can be tortuous following a terrible lead. But then I fight through the resistance. I remember, damn it, this is exercise, and a challenge, and it's just for me. I'm not here to meet anyone. I have love in my life among other great pleasures. This is just a practice that suits me. And isn't practice all about sticking out the ups and downs? I calm the flee response. I try. I determine to continue though it's getting harder and harder.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

And The Onion, oh yeah...funny

I forget to read the Onion regularly though it's available for free all around town. I picked up a copy yesterday and laughed at every single article I perused. This one particularly germane:

Can't wait to see Away From Her

I can't wait to see this. It sounds so great - right up my alley. I haven't been seeing as many movies as usual lately, but really looking forward to After the Wedding and Away From Her.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Elizabeth Gilbert's, Eat Pray Love - Highly Recommended

I'm only 18 sections in (out of 108) but have already recommended Elizabeth Gilbert's Eat Pray Love four times (five if you count the couple as two), strenuously. This is a book I'd been thinking about, both attracted to and avoiding since it was published. I'd flip though it on the bookstore display table, walking out without it. Earlier this week my sister emerged with one of her erratic wonderful emails. Complications in France but was I familiar with this book? Would I be interested in the audio version?

Not only was I familiar, I'd been tracking it before it existed. The writer showed up in one of my regular Garrison Yoga classes one day. Another writer excitedly pointed her out to me. She'd published at least two books and wrote highly regarded non-fiction for either GQ or Esquire - I can't remember which. I'd never heard of her, but always craving good non-fiction particularly in the neighborhood, I started reading her work. I thought about trying to meet her through some other mutual literary friends. Next thing I knew she wasn't around much, and I left for Fiji. For a year away. I often thought about writing while there. Well, I did write while I was there, just not in a publishable book form. I thought John had already staked out that claim. But I thought of it. And continued to mull further. Somehow I was aware of her book, aware of the genre of a woman away for a year, finding herself. Attracted and repulsed.

Nancy sent me the audible version (Happy 50th!) and I began to listen on what are now, finally, daily walks. At first a bit wary, not crazy about her Italian phrases. I worried she was too pretentious and full of herself. Within minutes that all changed. I was entranced. I got completely hooked by her fantastically articulate on-the-money description of love gone bad. The off-again, on-again nature. The pain and torture. Lying on the bathroom floor for hours sobbing. The desire for rationality, and easy exit coupled with that impossibility. Her language of course, the telling, much much better. (I'd quote something here but I'm listening to the audio version! Kind of great to hear it all in her own voice but frustrating in that I can't underline for myself or share with any of you here. I'll probably end up picking up the paperback too.) It's fantastic. For the heartbreak and clarity on depression alone. A must read.