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Showing posts from April, 2010

The Secret In Their Eyes

In its easy length and lugubrious air, The Secret in Their Eyes is redolent of David Fincher's Zodiac.   Beyond the similar mood and expansive plot, The Secret in Thier Eyes, like its American predecessor, concerns itself more with the wearying quest for justice and those left to cope with loss after violence than the violence itself.  

Of course, 1970's Argentina was a very different place than Northern California.   The murder and rape at the center of the The Secret in Their Eyes take place in 1974, apparently during the brief presidency of Isabel Martinez Peron (not to be confused with Juan Peron's second wife, Eva).   The "Dirty War," which would claim thousands of Argentines in its madness, was just on the horizon.  But the environment was already starting to turn poisonous.  

Prosecuting inspector Benjamin Esposito gets called to the scene of the ghastly crime, muttering all the way about morons and imbeciles with whom he has to cope in his professional…


Is this girl power?  Really?   I expected to enjoy Kick-Ass.   I had heard, correctly, that the title character (Aaron Johnson as Dave Lizewski/Kick-Ass)  was forgettable enough, but Chloe Moretz performance as Mindy Macready/Hit-Girl was worth the price of admission.

The young Ms. Moretz is very good.  Her early scene with her father (Nicolas Cage), in which daddy shoots his daughter at close range with a 9mm so she can learn how to take a bullet in her kevlar vest, hint at something darkly funny and maybe a little original.    Unfortunately, hints at something fresh or worthwhile are about as good as it gets.  By the time the last of many bad guy bodies is dispatched - by a bazooka no less - I think Kick-Ass has veered very near to the realm of kiddie porn.

Take Chloe Moretz, put her in bondage gear and drop her into the midst of repeated scenes of highly explicit sexuality and audiences would be justifiably offended.   But with violence, we're all-too-comfortable.   So much so…


In the midst of a depression or any emotional mean season, the bitterest pill is sometimes not the suffering itself, but the realization that what you're feeling is actually quite ordinary.   You might like to think that you're hurting as few humans have before, that your angst is the result of seeing stupidity or ugliness in the world to which others are blithely unware.  But really, it pains you to realize, you're just swimming upstream in the same chemical tide that might be battering lots of people around you at any given time.
Roger Greenberg (Ben Stiller) is plagued by no such self-awareness. He writes angry letters to Starbucks, American Airlines, even Mayor Bloomberg in New York City as if he's the first person who ever thought of doing so, as if the dark or just annoying forces of the universe have been marshalled against him specifically.   He seems a slightly less sane successor to the bitter, deluded father played by Jeff Daniels in Noah Baumbach's The S…

The Runaways

Oh, the 70's.   Of course, there was not just one decade of the seventies, there were many, united by a dubious color palette, a lot of high-backed vinyl chairs woozy with pattern, wall clocks of wood and metal that seemed to take on a life of their own, like tacky webs on living room walls, carpeting run amok in deepening pile, Bell rotary phones in a profusion of styles...well, you get it.   If you were there, it's all inexorably (I'm afraid) seared into your consciousness.   Cherie Currie and I had that much in common.  

But while I was preoccupied with baseball, going off to church once a week in my little pea green leisure suit complete with polyster shirt - if there was a God, he should have been offended - Ms. Currie and young Joan Jett were about to be a part of something bigger, thanks in  part to svengali Kim Fowley.   Fowley -  played in another inspired turn of madness by Michael Shannon, who pretty well stole the show in Revolutionary Road - was looking for a…

Mid-August Lunch

Perhaps he really needed to do something life-affirming after 2008's impressive but generally bleak Gomorrah, the multi-level evocation of the mafia in contemporary Italy.   Or maybe Gianni Di Gregorio is just much more than a one note artist.   The man who was one of the  writers and the co-scenarist of Gomorrah, couldn't have brought a more different project to the screen than Mid-August Lunch.  And Mr. Di Gregorio does most of the bringing in this case, having worked as one of the writers, directing (for the  first time) and acting.  He's the amiable, if reluctant axle on which the brief, beguiling story spins.

It's Pranzo di Ferragosto - Italy's biggest summer holiday and the Feast of the Assumption - in Rome and seemingly everyone has fled the big city.   Being a good boy, much as he is in comfortable late middle age, Gianni sticks around to take care of his 93-year old mother.  He doesn't so much lament that fate as state it matter of factly to his frien…

A Ghost Town Interlude

On our way from Prineville up to the Columbia River Gorge, we were excited to check out a couple of supposed ghost towns. The first is Antelope.

Antelope has the distinction of having suffered through a takeover of sorts.   You might remember news reports on the Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh in the early 80's.    It's a long and strange tale.  There's a Wikipedia link below if you want much more detail. 
Antelope isn't quite a ghost town these days, but it's close.   There are some houses around the few blocks of the town site.  But the school is closed and fairly gutted.   The town does have a post office, something of a mobile home, outside of which, at the base of its flagpole is a plaque commemorating the Rajneesh "invasion."
If you head north out of Antelope on Oregon 218, wind your way up the hill and proceed about six and half miles, you come to Shaniko.  

Again, not a ghost town in any strict sense of the term. Ther…