Tuesday, February 28, 2017
Monday, February 27, 2017
Sunday, February 26, 2017
Saturday, February 25, 2017
The story is of a castaway, a man thrown up on the shore of a deserted island. He is able to find food and once he has revived himself a bit, he builds a raft to leave the island. It is destroyed within a few feet of shore, broken up into a thousand pieces. He rebuilds it, it happens again, and again, and while he looks under the raft when he leaves the shore, he never sees anything. Then a red turtle starts to pay him a visit. The turtle plays a very significant role in the rest of the story, but I don't want to spoil it. Suffice it to say that this year's nominees in this category are outstanding, and this is not to be missed.
Friday, February 24, 2017
Kubo is a young boy who takes on the very large task of fighting a magical evil force. He gets some help from a very charming monkey and a laugh out loud funny beetle, who guide him, rescue him, believe in him and help him to accomplish his goals and saving his small village. There are a lot of powerful messages in the movie, but it is also a beautifully told story with impactful images and memorable characters.
Thursday, February 23, 2017
The story is that after their mother dies, two brothers need a modest amount of cash to pay off a loan to the bank that the mother took out. The loan is all or nothing, with the property itself as the collateral. The rub is that not only do they not have the money, but that oil has been found on their property and so if they lose the land, they loose about $300,000 a year in oil income, all for not having $40,000 at the moment. So who do they steal the money from? The very bank with the predatory lending practices. And who stands to gain? Not the brothers themselves but the offspring. The motives of the bank robbing brothers is understandable, but the story becomes morally complicated for everyone involved by the end, which is the makings of a great story. One of the very best of this year's best picture nominees.
Wednesday, February 22, 2017
And the writing is excellent to boot, but so are the performances, both individually and as a group. Billy Crudup, who was underwhelming in Jackie, is outstanding here as a man who successfully seduces women but then doesn't know what to do with them. Annette Benning is outstanding as Dorothea, a 50 something year old mother set into the 1960s. She presides over a rambling household with an open-door policy and two lodgers. Dorothea senses that a single mother might not be "enough" to usher Jamie into this new phase in his life. She asks her lodgers to help Jamie by sharing their lives with him. How this will help is not exactly clear, but it drives the story in a positive direction forward.
Dorothea is terrific (despite the above described momentary lack of judgement). She has a way of squinting tightly when she listens to people talk: she tries to figure out what's really going on beneath the surface. Her son wriggles away from that piercing gaze. She throws makeshift dinner parties for friends (and anyone else she happens to meet over the course of her day). She's a homebody, but not a recluse.
Tuesday, February 21, 2017
Why do I love this so much? August Wilson’s plays are rich, poetic, wordy affairs tinged with music, the magical nature of myth, and symbolic elements that work extremely well as live theater. Since theater is an intimate medium, the general consensus on translating plays to screen is to “open up” the play, which quite often destroys the natural fabric of the work. The masterful thing about Denzel Washington’s direction here is that he doesn’t exactly open up the play. Instead, he opens up the visual frame around the players. Still, the play like quality predominates, and there are ALOT of words, that is for sure. Washington's character, the age of my grandparents, is unlikable for very real reasons that help frame modern day life for African Americans.
Monday, February 20, 2017
The story is about the black women who worked at NASA and helped to put a man in space. The three actresses who are in this are all terrific, and combined with other black actresses in films this year they demonstrate the depth of talent available. So let's see some more of them in films int he future. The story is essentially about how they are hampered by prejudice and color barriers in every way (including segregated bathrooms) but manage to succeed despite that. All in all they could have gone further, but they did impressive things with all sorts of strings attached that held them back. Well done, and well worth watching.
Sunday, February 19, 2017
What is the movie about? It is summed up in the question posed by Mahershali Ali's character: “Who is you, man?” In particular, it is African American culture and people living in poverty. It is gritty and clear eyed and surprisingly wonderful to watch.
I have long been fascinated with issues of identity as a subject matter for films, but they’ve rarely been explored with the degree of eloquence and heartbreaking beauty as in this masterful film. “Moonlight” is a film that is both lyrical and deeply grounded in its character work, a balancing act that’s breathtaking to behold. It is one of those rare pieces of filmmaking that stays completely focused on its characters while also feeling like it’s dealing with universal themes about identity, sexuality, family, and, most of all, masculinity. And yet it's never preachy or moralizing. It is a movie in which deep, complex themes are reflected through character first and foremost.
Saturday, February 18, 2017
The film is a rare mainstream film that provokes frustration and rage without resorting to monologues or melodrama. Which is something to see in and of itself. The two people at the center of this period drama aren’t prone to long speeches. They’re quiet, conservative, almost shy folk who ended up at the center of one of the most important Supreme Court cases of the ‘60s by virtue of falling in love, getting married and having children. Nichols’ approach is careful, reserved and deeply considerate of the human story he’s trying to tell. Simply gorgeous.
Friday, February 17, 2017
Thursday, February 16, 2017
Wednesday, February 15, 2017
Tuesday, February 14, 2017
Joe was born in Western Poland in 1923. He played the violin and his mother sang along with him as a boy. He loved music, but when the Nazi's invaded Poland when he was 16 years old, he left the violin behind and moved to Western Poland, and was exiled to a work camp in Siberia for the rest of the war. Luckily he survived, and while he was in a relocation camp in Germany after the war, he bought the violin he would have for the rest of his life. He played it often after that, but as he crept up into his 90's, the violin laid idle. So when the New York City schools asked for people to donate their unused instruments so that students who could not afford them could use them, he gave up his violin. He also gave up it's story with it, and the movie is about the girl who gets his violin. Bring a tissue, it is heartwarming. So try to see a little good in the world today and enjoy your loved ones.
Monday, February 13, 2017
Sunday, February 12, 2017
Saturday, February 11, 2017
It is absolutely heart stopping to watch the rescue unfold. There is a rubber raft in the water, with so many people squeezed into it that there is no air at all between them, they are just one big mass. The raft is taking on water, sinking, and the wind is bracing. The ship is concerned by the wind, and their own safety but they can see that the raft won't make it without them rescuing it. There are people in the water already. The men pull each and every person out of the sea and into their boat, wrap them in a blanket, place them around the boat which is also not meant to hold so many, and in the end, they take them to Europe, in the form of their tiny island that has been overwhelmed with refugees day in and day out. "You can see the war in their eyes" one rescuer says. It is traumatic for all, including the viewer.
Friday, February 10, 2017
Thursday, February 9, 2017
Ok, this isn't going to sound that romantic, but two things on that. I am a very poor Romanticist, and the fact of the matter is that long term relationships are much more about grit than they are about romance. I really appreciate the way my spouse reacts to adversity. In addition to cancer, this past year also included a very very large tree falling on our house.
Wednesday, February 8, 2017
Tuesday, February 7, 2017
I have one more documentary nominee in the short category to watch, but this is my choice for the winner.
Monday, February 6, 2017
This is the first (well, we had managed to watch something ahead of time, but not much, so this feels like the start. It is a non-linear movie that is the opposite of fast faced. It is almost in an alternative time lapse place. Aliens land on earth in 12 separate places and they communicate in a language that no one can understand. Louise Banks (Amy Adams) is a linguist who convinces the military that she is the one to crack the code, and she does so with the help of a physicist, Ian Donelly (Jeremy Renner). They work diligently and respectfully with the aliens, in contrast to the military response, and when international communication breaks down and the widespread feeling is that they should be obliterated, Louise works with the alien and his knowledge of her gift for future seeing to come up with a viable strategy for the win. Well conceived story and enjoyable if somewhat unconventional movie.
Sunday, February 5, 2017
1 chopped winter squash (she says coarsely chopped, but I like it smaller and more uniform than that, to the degree possible).
14 oz. of chickpeas (or 1/2 c. dried that have been rehydreated)
pinch of smoked paprika
3/4 c. chopped roasted red pepper (jarred is fine, like th kind that you can find at Costco)
1/2 cup stock
1 chopped chili pepper
But in a dish that holds it, salt and pepper to taste, and bake for 50 minutes at 425 degrees. It was delicious for dinner, and I used some of the leftovers cold in a green salad the following day.
Saturday, February 4, 2017
In addition to the butcher, they do a nice job of making vegetable side dishes and the small plates are good as well. I had an excellent salad, with a light and flavorful dressing tossed with excellent lettuce. The octopus was also an exceptionally good dish.
The kitchen is fun because a lot of the work is done out in front of the house, so many tables look onto it, and you can watch your food being prepared, something I always enjoy.
Friday, February 3, 2017
Thursday, February 2, 2017
Here is the blueprint for an effective letter that I found that makes sense to me:
- Say why you are writing and who you are. List your credentials so the Congressperson knows he is dealing with a constituent, what your angle is. (If you want a response, you must include your name and address, even when using email.)
- Provide more detail about why you are writing. Be factual not emotional. Provide specific rather than general information about how the topic affects you and others. If a certain bill is involved, cite it whenever possible.
- Close by requesting the action you want taken: a vote for or against a bill, or change in general policy.
Wednesday, February 1, 2017
In any case, I have been mostly showing off ancient art, and this is one of my favorite pieces from a recent trip to Rome. It is in the Capitoline Museum, right off the Roman Forum, and it is magnificent. Marcus Aurelius, the philosopher emperor, is depicted upon his horse in a larger than life piece, one of a handful of bronze pieces from the ancient world to survive (many of them were retrieved from the Mediterranean, as sinking them saved them from being melted down). Both man and horse look so real, so alive that it is breathtaking to behold. Nothing about my photo really captures that, so you really must see it.