film

boyhood is like slowfood

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Richard Linklater‘s Boyhood was born of such a simple, smart idea, it begs an equally simple question – could he just keep going? Every year for 12 years, the writer/director shot the same actors to tell the story of a boy named Mason (Ellar Coltrane) and his life from the age of 6 to 18. It’s an idea that, obviously, could be extended to tell the character’s story for years to come. There are other extremely formative times in a person’s life, outside childhood.... germain lussier//slash film
Richard Linklater‘s “Boyhood” was born of such a simple, smart idea, it begs an equally simple question – could he just keep going? Every year for 12 years, the writer/director shot the same actors to tell the story of a boy named Mason (Ellar Coltrane) and his life from the age of 6 to 18. It’s an idea that, obviously, could be extended to tell the character’s story for years to come. There are other extremely formative times in a person’s life, outside childhood…. germain lussier//slash film

i was enchanted by the film “boyhood” directed by richard linklater as i watched it yesterday and a couple of things certainly jumped out at me – pacing and content.  the first and very noticeable was my own jittery feeling at the pace and the length of the film. the content was abundant and flavorful, but my own anxious reaction was a point of curiosity. and the second delicious and familiar experiential are the truth and wisdom that evolve through the years by just living life itself.

the film was made over a period of 12 years and the cast and the script evolved and changed with time even though intention remained the same. just like a family holiday dinner, i believe that the ritual of making the film created its own ritual quality that became a supporting character in the film just as it becomes a ritual in an actual family. i had no doubt that the reality of comfort grew into its own as the storyline grew with its characters.

the truth, pain, and wonder of self-discovery and emotional hop scotch that is part of growing up comes across like gravy on mashed potatoes. the flavor in life often comes from what is mixed with our experience in our family life. and boyhood underlines this. and

this is a good film. this is a wonderful idea. this is worth your time. this is evolution. this is film making growing up a little. this made me want to slow down a bit. and it reminded me that life doesn’t always give us the family we want. we get the family we get and we have to find a way to make that fit.

“We are enslaved by speed and have all succumbed to the same insidious virus: Fast Life, which disrupts our habits, pervades the privacy of our homes and forces us to eat Fast Foods… A firm defense of quiet material pleasure is the only way to oppose the universal folly of Fast Life… May suitable doses of guaranteed sensual pleasure and slow, long-lasting enjoyment preserve us from the contagion of the multitude who mistake frenzy for efficiency. Our defense should begin at the table with Slow Food. Let us rediscover the flavors and savors of regional cooking and banish the degrading effects of Fast Food.”(Excerpt from the Official Slow Food Manifesto, as published in “Slow Food: A Case for Taste” in 2001)

 

no sleep till tom tom

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the older i get, the more television i watch-this seems a reality i cannot escape. most of this is not memorable. but once in awhile there is a spark of something here or there that catches my eye. the most recent of these is tom wlaschiha whom i ran across on a new tv show called “crossing lines”. the lips and eyes are moody, dreamy, and hard to forget. as i inquired more, i realize he has been around a while and has a healthy cinematic resume including another favorite of mine- game of thrones. upon further inspection- his resume expands- delightfully so- see here-

this post is juvenile. it is adolescent. it is asinine. and yet here it is. and i’m coveting it like a box of godivas or chocolate covered cherries. sweet, delicious, and over-rated. but as you might see, it is also a cultural norm- this admiration of the physical that overtakes us now and then. now must be a “then” for me. and i can’t wait to see the film made about christopher isherwood for myself. it must also be adapted from the two novels known as ” the berlin stories” as was the globally famous “cabaret”. 





cloud atlas is a pousse cafe

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Definition of POUSSE-CAFÉ
: an after-dinner drink consisting of several liqueurs of different colors and specific gravities poured so as to remain in separate layers

Origin of POUSSE-CAFÉ
French, literally, coffee chaser
First Known Use: 1880
the main thing i remember about a pousse cafe is the layered effect of the drink. it is entirely 
made of liquid, however because of the density and color of each of the liquids, each ingredient remains distinct from its counterparts, resting gently yet firmly apart from its neighbor. each of these layers of colored liquid form a more perfect union- a collection of tastes that seem overwhelming and overpowering perhaps simply because of the presentation. even though i have no plan to drink, the concept of this zany and monumental digestive concoction came to mind.
this is how i interpreted the film “cloud atlas” which i just finished viewing at the theater. it is certainly epic, just as a pousse cafe. it has bold strokes of storytelling layered upon itself, so stimulating to the senses that it is hard to discern the taste. i don’t know if i liked the taste, but the experience was delightful and seemed profound.
i haven’t read the book, so i cannot dissect the story transfer. but i can articulate that that it does present the idea of reincarnation, life, death, heaven in a way that felt genuine. i don’t feel able to retell any particular scenes at this point, because i feel as if i heard a fable and need some time to absorb the intent.
i do realize that i was not able to pick out all the actors in each of their roles. there are 6 story lines running simultaneously with most of the actors having a role in each one. they look very different each time, sometimes changing races and sexes. i understand that the work was a source of inspiration and true joy for each of the thespians.
i know i will see this film again- probably more than once. i also know that the immediate themes that jump out to me such as greed, power, and fate remain a source of intense curiosity and compel and propel each of our generations forward. cloud atlas underscores these ideas. no matter which century there seem to be those who profit and those who foot the bill. 
the film is an adventure, a fantasy, a fable, and a little philosophical. i savored it on several levels. it is visually astounding, intellectually challenging, and opened my imagination. there is a scene near the end which does involve watching the clouds. it reminded me of the wonder of being a child, laying on the ground, and watching the clouds drift by, change shape and density which engaged my brain and stretched my understanding of life. 
i know that film changes my thinking. it is an experience for me which i have always and will always value. cloud atlas has done me a great service with a wide stroke of its brush. it is not a small story. i am compelled to explore my assumptions. it is not just a moment in time. it is a multi-layered and colorful legend that i hope will help me get somewhere.

so the album posted below does not connect anywhere with this film except in my mind. i have recently been introduced to dj nico (nicolas jaar) and am captivated by his sense of storytelling, tempo, and suggestion. it stirs echoes and memories in my heart and mind, perhaps just as this wachowsky/tykwer film “cloud atlas” did for me. this soundtrack, the film, and a pousse cafe are not not a mere digestif for after dinner. they are an experience for the senses to rejuvenate and inspire. 

Denver Sneak Preview- How To Survive A Plague

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GIVEAWAY: Enter to win an admit 2 pass to the advance screening of HOW TO SURVIVE A PLAGUE!
IFC Films presents HOW TO SURVIVE A PLAGUE, the story of two coalitions—ACT UP and TAG (Treatment Action Group)—whose activism and innovation turned AIDS from a death sentence into a manageable condition. HOW TO SURVIVE A PLAGUE opens at the Denver Film Center Colfax on October 12!

Be one of the first to see the film on Wednesday, October 3 at 7:00PM in Denver! Enter to win by texting the word CHANGE and your ZIP CODE to 43549. (Entry deadline: 10/1 at midnight; Example Text: CHANGE 80246). Winners will be notified on Tuesday, October 2. There is no charge to text 43KIX. Message and data rates from your wireless carrier may apply. Remember, movie companies overbook previews, so arrive early because seating is not guaranteed.

the anonymous people

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image- greg williams.. the anonymous people

i came across this vid on kickstarter by a guy named greg williams. it is a testament to the burgeoning social change movement that has been kicking up its heels on the eastern seaboard over the last 10 years. addressing the undeniable stigma of addiction as well as highlighting the lackluster outcomes of our now traditional substance treatment, the film asks questions about the invisible block of americans who have moved beyond their addiction and become happier and more productive members of society. this fact, of course, never getting much airtime or front page coverage, unlike the devastation and drama caused by active addiction.

the film clip stirs so many emotions in me. i believe that the wonders that have touched my life in recovery have rocked my world. it’s hard to imagine that others wouldn’t  want this if they understood it, even if they  only got a fraction of the relief i have found.

none-the-less greg williams is tapping into something greater than himself here. i encourage any readers to watch his clip and consider a contribution to his efforts. the local recovery organization i volunteer with has decided to donate enough to snag a private showing next year with a guest appearance by greg as well as a q&a. i fully support recovery coming out of the shadows and into the light.

here’s the link for his kickstarter project.

people like us

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image credit...collider.com

after reading a couple of reviews online, i had shied away from bothering to see this film. prior to that, there had been only anticipation on my part. but the review that soured me was from usa today and said something about mawkish cliches featuring unreal people yada yada.

those words and that sentiment are biting and offputting. for some reason- probably chris pine- i decided to see it anyway and boy-o-boy was i surprised. just like a really incredible birthday present surprise – one that really fits and looks good. i had no idea “people like us” would give such a sweet and endearing look at the frailties of modern american families. i didn’t find alex kurtzman’s sweet and tender film a bit mawkish- only the reviewer seems mawkish.

i got hooked pretty early on. any movie than jon favreau takes time to participate in,  usually works for me. the story seemed real- at least most of it. the connections and the disconnections between these two siblings is very familiar to my own story. i have two siblings that i have not connected with much at all. the very few encounters i have had with both have been rife with hurt and rivalry, fear and mistrust, anger and denial. this is my truth and i watched it being played out on the big screen so very adeptly.

michelle pfeiffer’s performance i think might be my favorite of hers to date. she was stellar. imperfect, quite flawed actually, and tough. elizabeth banks is so perky as a recovering alcoholic bartender who is adrift in her life. and of course i loved the 12 step bits. but chris pine really stole the show. he has a tendency to breathe life into his lines (and the story) in a way that seems so very fresh and organic. loved him in star trek, but this one made me a fan.

without a doubt, the young man’s role- the son, nephew, and grandson is perhaps the glue that binds it all. we find him in the throes of acting out his frustration, but his shenanigans (and more) are so very transparent and penetrable that i couldn’t resist believing that i wanted to help this kid somehow. and the characters in the film must have felt the same way. his behaviors never overshadowed his feelings which are at the heart of this film. i guess it is “people like us” that still connect to all the things that were f’d up in our childhood and our families.

if you haven’t seen it, i am not gonna give you the plot or the bits. suffice it to say that it seems to me that no matter what the “focus on the family” folks try to sell at the carnival, american family life is splintered and disparate in enormous ways. we have again become nomadic and gypsy-like, technology and commerce leading some of our choices, while libido and lust still  bring us to howl at the moon.

the loveliest thing i took away was hope in our spirit. our human ability to cope with things that are not easy to cope with. we lie, we cheat, we are greedy, we manipulate to get what we want, and yet we hope for the best and we can often find a way to make good of a very very difficult situation. of course i have no choice in the matter, but i am glad i am “people like us”

i have included the liz phair song written specifically for this movie as well as an interview with her about that process. all in all, a thoughtful and introspective time was delivered by this movie. i needed a look back and a look in. and i did it with some kind thoughts in my heart.

the beautiful south

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image credit… samuel hodge
If I could find a real-life place that made me feel like Tiffany’s, then I’d buy some furniture and give the cat a name. ~Truman Capote, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, 1958, spoken by the character Holly Golightly
6 days in bed with pneumonia makes a girl a little stir crazy.. or maybe even a lot. i have slept and sweated and sweated and slept. the creases and the clumps in the pillows and the bedding have become just like the pea under the princess’s bed and have made it almost impossible to get comfortable.
 i’m almost as tired of sleeping as i am tired.  i am hoping that wellness is on its way.
during my week long romance with bed rest has been an ongoing madness for drama- especially the cinematic kind.  star trek (chris pine and zachary quinto) made me smile  and smile again.  secretariat continued to be a winner. dolphin tale actually made me cry 5 times.  the film that continues to stand out the most for me is the help. i have been racking my brain trying to figure out exactly why.,
i am from a small town in central illinois- not the south. my grandmother, who is responsible for most (if any) moral fiber i have was from alabama. her family were farmers who emigrated to illinois. i don’t know if the writing, the stories, the drama, the conflict of the south has particular significance for me, but it certainly is easy to wear. 
i have loved tennesseee williams, carson mccullers, willa cather, truman capote,  thomas wolfe,  and flannery oconnor, and harper lee. i have read and watched those stories with fervor and adulation for as long as i can remember. and as i languished around this week, partaking of this newer delicacy over and over, i found myself feeling as if i had been given a very large and comforting hug from a storyline rife with regional language, sarcasm, innuendo, but mostly the undaunting tenacity of the human spirit. 
i/m not sure about past life wisdom. i am not an expert on reincarnation. but i believe in my mind there is a case for it here. i grew up as a small boy listening to stories told around the kitchen table. and these southern writers and stories sound very much like the same thing to me. they seem to be familiar and personal, like it’s being told over a tall glass of iced tea.
so on a week long dirge like this, when i have fever, fatigue, and spend most of my time alone, it makes sense that i would like to drench myself in something that reminds me of my childhood. laughter and drama being played out in stories at the kitchen table. and then there’s all that confection and fried food.:)
Minny Jackson: Eat my shit. 
Hilly Holbrook: Excuse me! 
Minny Jackson: I said eat… my… shit. 
Hilly Holbrook: Have you lost your mind? 
Minny Jackson: No, ma’am but you is about to. ‘Cause you just did. 

The Grey Allegory

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i went to see “the grey” over the weekend at my favorite metroplex theater. i didn’t really know what to expect, and i was a little skeptical about the trapped survivor story and the possibility of cannibalism. i must say that even with these unwarranted prejudices, the film hooked me quickly and kept me engaged throughout.

“Northernmost Alaska. Ottway (Liam Neeson) is a for-hire security hunter/marksman under the employ of an Alaskan drilling operation. His job is to protect the “ex-cons, fugitives and assholes” from the area’s indigenous carnivores: bears & wolves. In one instance Ottway spots a grey blur on the horizon. He draws the rifle from his shoulder bag, follows the blur as it nears a trio of workers working on a pipe, and fires. The wolf slumps on the ground and Ottway puts his hands on it’s still breathing chest. He feels it’s life slip away. Ottway daydreams of his wife (Anne Openshaw); they both lay on a bed with white sheets facing each other, smiling. He writes a letter to his estranged wife, summing up his depression. One night after his shift, in the drilling operation’s tavern, Ottway grows sick of the rowdy patrons. He walks outside, pulls out his rifle and sticks the barrel in his mouth. As he is about to pull the trigger, numerous wolf calls echo in the distance. He takes the barrel out of his mouth.


Ottway and many other crewman from the drilling \operation board a commuter jet bound for Anchorage, being de-iced on a runway. Ottway stores his rifle in the overhead bin, takes his seat, and closes his eyes. Another grunt, named Flannery (Joe Anderson), wakens Ottway and annoys him with questions about his sex-life. Ottway tells Flannery to either shut up or move. Flannery exits the row and finds a seat elsewhere. As Ottway sleeps the other travelers are disturbed by the turbulent flight. Flannery annoys the others by telling horror stories about airplane crash victims. The plane is rocked by massive turbulence. Ottway awakens; he sees sparks erupting from the cockpit and watches the ground grow larger in his window. He lays himself flat across his row and buckles himself in. He watches the hull tear away.

Ottway lays on the same white bed as before, and stares at his wife. They’re covered by a billowy sheet. Ottway awakens in a desolate, snow-covered field, alone. He gets to his feet, surveys his surroundings, and runs in the direction of smoke. Beyond a bluff lies the wreckage of the plane. He scrambles down to the crash-site and happens upon Flannery, injured and pinned under his seat. Ottway helps him up, doing his best to distract him from his bisected seat-mate. Ottway makes his way inside the fuselage where he finds a half dozen survivors. One of them, Lewenden (James Badge Dale) is spurting blood from his abdomen. Hendrick (Dallas Roberts) comforts Lewenden, telling him that he’ll pull through. Ottway takes one look at Lewenden and tells him as tactfully as he can that he will succumb to his wounds; that death will feel like a warm blanket that slowly overtakes him, and to accept it while thinking about his daughter. Lewenden slowly passes, to the shock of the survivors around him.” reposted from moviespoilers.com

it occurred to me that this modern fable could easily translate into an allegory for addiction. a few hardcore users find themselves in a s place where they have to fight to survive. as they see their companions fade to gray, first in a group, then individually, there is an obvious struggle to remain human while simultaneously developing the skills necessary to survive. being chased by wolves and lacking food and rest adds to the terror in a concrete way. one by one the hardcore team is picked off by the pack of beasts who are cunning, baffling, and powerful.

it is definitely not an uplifting tale. it is dark, suspenseful, and gory. this reflected image of a mad struggle to survive settled over me like a fog and still lingers. there are so many travelers among us who are trapped in their own hell. they continue to scramble to find safety, with death happening around them without notice.  this has been very much like my experience with life. simply staying alive can sometimes become a royal gorge and i have found that only a spiritual connection can transform the drudgery with purpose. this is my truth. life was a ride, but somehow the adventure changed and became grey. and the wolves that were my constant consumption became fierce, colorless, and cold.

the film is harsh. its cold and it’s frank. i was hooked from almost the start. i liked seeing it on the big megaplex screen, too. the scenery was a character and added so much. i sit close and move my head from side to side. wide screen should be wide screen- gray or not.

j edgar- a meandering stream

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i have been mulling over what i might write about the film j. edgar. i saw it on sunday afternoon and was fairly gobsmacked for some reason. it has taken a day or so for me to ascertain what that might be about. the film is like a mountain stream in late august. it flows gently from here to there and back again. there are no visible rapids and what surprises exist are due more to the invisible depths than what is evident to the eye. that makes sense because john edgar hoover was much more than met the eye. he lived a dual-storyline his entire career. eastwood seems to mirror this with the tale that he spins rolling back and forth between the decades and the insanity( or do i mean drive?)that became hoover at the last years of his life. leonardo is sublimely eloquent. his expression of this historic character is loving and studied, directing me to both understand and empathize with j edgar’s duality. as he dons the makeup that is the elder g i man, it is seamlessly natural to forget who is the actor. perhaps i gush a little too much here, but i honestly can’t remember a performance that took my breath away quite like dicaprio’s hoover. it was really like my first slice of rhubarb pie- both sweet and tangy with both of those seeming dominant.

what is there to say about armie hammer. he again has cashed in on his blue blood demeanor to present a 1920’s poof, who only needs a green carnation to complete the stereotype. the tension between the two actors seems real, as does the overly cautious and entangled relationship that they boarded to ride together as j edgar shaped a federal bureau of investigation for america. typically i don’t like blondes, but somehow he stirs something in me that finds his silver spoon aesthetic not only endearing but attractive.

and when these two characters reach a tipping point in their relationship, i was achingly reminded what it was like to be closeted. there is such a struggle between fear and desire.  i don’t know how true to history this story is. i should care, but frankly i don’t. i do understand that here is another tortured gay couple’s story being played out on the big screen as directed by a heterosexual man. to pretend that lgbt love was without strife seems ignorant. to pretend that our predecessors were flawless is childlike and denialist. gay lives were taut and tenuous most of the time.  clint’s position is one of not assuming too much. he believes they loved each other. he believes they feared detection. he implies others knew about them. he insists the viewers find empathy or not. he insists we think about it.

i wish there were more gay directors who could be as deft with telling our stories as mr. eastwood and mr. lee. lgbt culture is indebted to these men. they respect without much embellishment. and they let viewers make their own opinions. i felt pride in seeing gay men love- even if it wasn’t wholesome, because i know we love. and i know we have tasted tragedy. i also know we have lost and we have won. both sides of this truth are evident in this storytelling. it gently rolls to and fro and a love seems to whisper in the breeze

as a post script- judy dench again shines here. she is understated, yet supports much of the first hour of the film. her most powerful line for me- “no son of mine will be a daffodil” embodies the stigma the stigma that homosexuals endured for the 1st 3/4 of the 20th century.

a haunting ghost story

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jim and i went to the esquire on sunday evening with two objectives: 1) to avoid any notice of a football game and 2) to see a south american film called undertow. i knew very little about it and am almost at a loss as to share just how memorable it is.

it takes place in a chiquito beach fishing village in peru. santiago is an extremely handsome (very gay) and independent artist/painter and has moved to the village to perhaps get away from his family. he has met and engaged in an affair with miguel- a very loved married man who grew up in the village. it becomes clear they have been having secret trysts and exotic entanglements, but since miguel’s wife has a baby due any minute, miguel thinks it a practical idea to end the affair (after one last glorious lovemaking) with tiago.

since i am not a reviewer, i thought i would share a synopsis from the film’s website…http://www.undertowfilm.com/

Miguel is a handsome, young and beloved fisherman in Cabo Blanco, a small fishing village in the Northern coast of Peru, where the community has deep-rooted religious traditions. Miguel is married to the beautiful Mariela, who is 7-months pregnant with their firstborn, but Miguel harbors a scandalous secret: He is having a love affair with another man, Santiago, a painter who is ostracized by the townsfolk for being agnostic and open about his sexuality.

When Santiago drowns accidentally in the ocean’s strong undertow, he cannot pass peacefully to the other side. He returns after his death to ask Miguel to look for his body and bury it according to the rituals of the town. Miguel must choose between sentencing Santiago to eternal torment or doing right by him and, in turn, revealing their relationship to Mariela and the entire village. Miguel is forced to deal with the consequences of his acts and to come to terms with who he really is, even if by doing so he stands the chance of losing the people he loves the most.
With sweeping images of the beautiful Peruvian coastline, UNDERTOW (Contracorriente) is the emotional intersection of contemporary sexuality, confronted by tradition and belief. This sexy and redolent love story is the feature film debut of Javier Fuentes-León and stars Manolo Cardona (Beverly Hills Chihuahua and the hugely popular telenovela series, Sin tetas no hay paraiso, and was also named by People en Espanol as one of its 50 Most Beautiful People in 2005), Cristian Mercado (Che) and Tatiana Astengo. The film is produced by Javier Fuentes-León and Rodrigo Guerrero (Maria Full of Grace, Dog Eat Dog).

of course the above is a simplification, and i cannot begin to relay just how simple and beautiful the metaphors for love, closeted gay love, stigma, and acceptance are that follow. tiago remains attached to earth and has to ask miguel to release him from his undead predicament, but miguel struggles with this concept selfishly. he wants to be with him so he continues his affair with his ghostly companion, even finally being brave enough to walk down the main drag of his village hand in hand with the man he loves. of course none of the other villagers see anyone but miguel- which speaks volumes about the loves we have that others do not see.

being a vbq (very big queen) i cried at the closing of the film. there is something so final about death and about the closure that those of us left behind need in order to move forward. it is a grave note that we are left with, but it is not simply sorrow that i felt. i found i was up to my earlobes in hope- that such a powerfully simple and straightforward film could come from such a small and not-very-well known country takes my breath away- almost as much as scene after scene of the peruvian coastline. i say see this film no matter what. even if you hate subtitles.

 the 2 leading men are beautiful. the film is delicious. and the soundtrack is even more enticing.  as a starter or as a meal, contracorriente (undertow) is thoroughly sublime.