Wednesday, August 31, 2005

junebug

Watched Phil Morrison's Junebug last week. As my roommate referred to it after I recommended it, "Oh, that South thing movie?"

It's an eloquent household here folks. We hold competitions. The awkwardly worded loser takes out the smelly garbage.

Anyhow, yes it's about the south in that it's set in North Carolina (filmed in Winston-Salem). I'm sorta glad that the film was a small gem in my movie tiara. Oh, you know you want a tiara too, even you boyz. Even though I could hardly call going to college in Durham, NC getting the whole or real sense of that state, or the South for that matter, like some, I have that peculiar sort of pride in those places you bestow the title of home. And Junebug is basically about home – and the inertia, rivalry, hopes, gaps found in families. It's a very quiet film, done with such fine acting of complex, dimensional characters and understated humor, treating the old, tired American North-South (sigh, yes, blue-red) opposition with subtlety that I really do hope it gets a wider release than it seems to have now.

The story: Madeleine is trying to get an outsider artist from rural North Carolina to sign up for her gallery in Chicago. George, her husband, happens to have grown up near by so they decide to take the trip and Madeleine will meet George's family for the first time, since they got married right-hot-quick, faster than cracked out bunnies. Madeleine is urban, sophisticated, tall, thin, smart – if she had been cattier and didn't have a British accent, she would've fit right in with the sex and the city girls. And so, the play begins when she meets the in-laws and co.
The whole outsider art aspect works in a broader sense as well, which is kind of neat. Neat as in neat-o! I like! and Neat, a bit purposeful, doilies straight, coffee-table dusted, which isn't necessarily a fault. Not only is Madeleine an outsider into this family, every character is an outsider, alone in some sense. It's seldom that these family members get through to each other or to the heart of matters, while they very obviously love each other. And that is what is so heart-breaking and heart-warming at the same time. You wonder whether this family will crumble from the cracks after the film finishes, or will keep on, keep on, in spite of everything - that thin line where a lot of families teeter.
So this isn't just a movie about the South Thing! These people in North Carolina are real people, kinda like us and our own. Gah, it sounds so simplistic that way, but Morrison succeeds so well in not creating caricatures as well as not beating us over the head with a barbequed pork chop that we.are.just.like.them! Mmmm mesquite! We are and we aren't. They each have good and bad characteristics, are not entirely likable, and one can't really identify with a single person all the way through the piece. It almost doesn't matter Where ths movie is taking place. Complexity, what a lightbulb of an approach! So basically I took two paragraphs to say that the characters and relationships are believable and consistent, shown through third-person multiple views.
Amy Adams is SO great in the role of Ashley that you can't help your heart from breaking open from your rib cage and rushing out to her. She is the pregnant wife of Johnny, George's younger, sullen brother w/pent-up anger/frustration/issues, and she is open, wise, excitable, wild as a child in demeanor, and the only one to welcome Madeleine, treating her like a diva with open admiration, bombarding her with questions and doing her nails cinnamon fizz. She too has her faults and how much puppy energy can one handle at once? But still, Ashley is so naturally kind and sincere and bright, not a shred of dour irony about her, and that all sounds so ridiculously unreal and gag gag, but look, there's my heart, still running on it's ventricley legs out to her, with not a glance back at dour sour me.
Ashley possesses a faith and practices the kind of Christian love that I imagine is our greatest capacity as humans no matter what the religion is called, a characteristic of belief to be taken not at all as any sort of weakness or stupidity. Ashley holds that family together. I liked this treatment of religion here, not extreme, or overblown, or tongue stuck out at, as in that rather hilarious (to me) scene in I Heart Huckabees at the dinnertable with the Sudanese guy and his adopted family.
I could see how some people would think this movie was boring but boo on them. It's slowish, though with a good pace and minimalistic sound (and orig. soundtrack by yo la tengo!). There are shots of empty rooms of the house which seem to be waiting for something and landscapes, giving us a sense of place. There is a good couple minutes of the dad setting up the air mattress. All you can hear is the air hissing and the air mattress sort of coming alive, and it's all mildly humorous. Because, really, air mattresses are kind of funny when you think about them. There were several laugh out loud moments and they usually involved Ashley. And there was this one scene which still makes me giggle. Madeleine has told her mother-in-law, Peg, the name of the kooky outsider artist, David Wark. Except it comes out sort of like "Walk" due to the British accent. Peg sort of looks at her questioningly and repeats, rolling "Waawwolk?" around. Well there I go again making funny things unfunny.
The underdevelopment of George's character, namely, is frustrating and so is the played up eccentricity of Wark. Picking small bones. They're the remnants of my ribcage.
At one point, Ashley tells Johnny after one of his angry episodes: "God loves you just the way you are, but too much to let you stay that way." The audience at the Angelika sort of burst out in gentle laughter; I thought it was the most poignant thing out of the whole movie. What a struggle we have a-foot here; we are who we are, but we hope to change for the better.
Trailer and Official Site
Interview with Phil Morrison on WNYC.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

so that's why -

Oh okay. My tortoise of a brain figured out why I am not updating about movies and books and things and instead reporting on the trivialities of my quotidian (one of my favorite french words quotidien, c'est jolie) existence or in fact not reporting as all, as evidenced by the dot-dot-dot ellipses lack (one word times three = redundant!) of entries. Oh TODAY I mean to update and now every day is new year's day (and nothing changes, croons the Irish rock-saint).

Parentheses, their disjointed parade, come to an abrupt stop. Screeching, halting, sudden, squeeeeee and AMEN!. I'm full of the thesaurus-thumpin' word-joy-fillin' spirit!

Ummmm. Because thinking and writing and stuff. Oh, it's much more difficult. And something in me is slightly loathe to just mention something and say it was interesting or good. Like we need any more of that in bloggerdom.

The everyday stuff is easier to ramble on about. And I dress it up in cute outfits, fuzzy hats and suave scarves. Below, I will indulge in the gauzier stuff and leave what little substance there is for the next entry.

I got a new chair for my room from Staples. It is much more comfortable than my old metal chair. It has wheels and cushions and I draped a beautiful shawl my friend got from Pakistan over the back just-so to rid the antiseptic office aura, and so I feel like I'm the Princess of my little 8 by 10 Kingdom. I am also a little apprehensive of this new throne, as it is held in place by four screws. Maybe ingenious engineering. Maybe just cheap-o.
I tried making bibimbap yesterday. I bought all the requisite ingredients from the korean food store in k-town. You can pretty much put in whatever stuff you want, but the necessities include sesame seed oil and hot pepper paste. I decided to throw in some spinach, sauteed zucchini, korean spicy turnip (sounds so stupid in english), mung beans (also sounds ugly in english), and of course, fried egg. Alas, my rice was too watery and became mushy and it became mushibibimbap, a new eskimo-korean word for type of porridge.
My mother took me to cut my hair over the weekend and convinced me in that darling (read: overbearing pressure) way of hers to get some side bangs. I was actually opened to the idea, as my hair has pretty much been the same - cut with some layers - (was I the only one to think of cake right there?). It looked fine that day. But I am not used to having these short tufts of hair hanging about the eye area, like a sheepdog. I also found that this style does not respond well to my practice of showering and not combing and then just going to bed. A hairmare. We need to get reacquainted, my hair and I. It's a new musical and we waltz together and learn superficial cross cultural lessons like humanity and love and waltzing.
Right now: I am craving a grilled cheese sandwich like no tomorrow.
and I really want to watch Buffy episodes.
and I really seem to have a problem with parenthetical statements.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

ohh.. rainBOW!

You know, all those damn years of learning the piano and shlepping to juilliard on saturdays and not having a childhood (let's not go there. oh wait, we can. it was boring. i could never go to any sweet sixteens. the tragedy!) and I still had to be nudged by a comment here into realizing that that single off of broken social scene's upcoming album - called "7/4 (Shoreline)" - is actually in 7/4 time. I had thought that the 7/4 was the date it was done editing or whatever record industry term that is.

7/4! Genius! It totally makes that fabulous momentum and uneven rockiness of the song, from the last beat of one measure to the first beat of the next, accented by that high-hat drummy cymbal thing (I need some help with these musical instrument vocabulary don't I?).

I heart unconventional time signatures because I'm still a musical dork.

Track still downloadable here, I think.

And I am totally having my own sweet sixteen on my next birthday. Twenty-four... Sixteen. Same thing, whatever. You know you want to be invited.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

the update

Well, hellooooo. It's As if I had said, Ciao, or Au Revoir, or gracefully like an old movie star, Until we meet again, little to know that I would be tragically killed in a balloon accident. But not. Because here I am. Not in the least bit like a ghost or anything. All corporeal. Tooo corporeal...

Okay! Well! Now that I've made you question why you came here, I'm going to continue riding the vein of ridiculosity and incoherence and let y'all know what's been going on the past week or two. And besides the vaguely druggie reference of that last sentence, I have to admit, sometimes I skip over entries like these in other peoples' blogs because they are so very long and packed full of unnecessary detail. So ignore the writing teachers I will and proceed like yoda no more...

Ooh let's use chapters. We can pretend it's like a quirky documentary film that's all disjointed but deep, like life is. And it'll win a small prize. Not like Cannes. But maybe some German town. Ready?

Chapter 1: The Apartment

I was supposed to move in with a friend who is going to Columbia public health school. And so there was a search, dealings with brokers, washing hands of brokers, and obsessive checking of craigslist and lamenting the crumbling nature, slow apocalypse, ending with a whimper and bad spelling and lies, because of said craigslist - new york edition. Days. Stress. Sweat. End: Friend finds place near school with roommates. I stay in Williamsburg and dodge people with ugly clothes.
Chapter 2: The Pen, or the Keyboard
I'm finally taking that step of actually writing - as opposed to saying that I'm writing and instead crawling into bed, eating cookies, and falling asleep in lonely dispositions. So, there's the kevchino cd reviews that I've recently started doing and finding a fun challenge. And I just wrote my first article for Accent magazine, which is a new publication geared towards younger, collegeage and twentysomethings. That was a tad stressful because it was kinda like being at college all over again, you know, the research, the staying up, the feverish typing and feverishly long push of the delete button, the procrastination, the putting off, the dillying and dallying... And then there's work-work, where I'm trying to ask for some more writing responsibilities...
I'm looking for some other publications to try out, online and print, though of course the tough thing is coming up with pitches and articles, if you can believe it.
Chapitre Trois: The Silver Screen
Saw two movies in the theatre. Finally got to Broken Flowers and also a documentary, Winter Soldier. Hopefully will get to write more about them here in future. Look! Lack of proper nouns! This is how Bridget Jones writes in that infamous Diary.
On DVD: Netflixwise, I've been stuck on Bergman's Scenes from a Marriage but only cuz of busy-ness. And yesterday my friend and I watched My Architect, a documentary about Louis Kahn. Hopefully more on that later as well. Please continue to stay at the edge of your cushioned seats.
Chapter Four: Future Things
So this whole planning on going to grad school for the school year of 2006-07 is falling short like a pea running into mashed potato. Mmmmmm. Mashed potato....
Basically I'm thinking of applying to schools with international affairs/relations type things and perhaps do a joint degree in journalism. I've been stuck on this idea for awhile but have taken little action but think every few moments about it. So to continue a young tradition, I'll just leave this section out here to dry and move on, though comments will be appreciated.
Chapter Five: The Dial Goes to Eleven
Caught the free show at South Street Seaport with Clap Your Hands and that was short and fun. And this past week, I heard but not saw Stars @ Summerstage because I was walking through the park on a lovely balmy evening. I sat on a bench near a boy whom I pretended to ignore, because I'm stupid like that.
Lately, I haven't been feeling the urge to attend live shows, even Sufjan Stevens. Just because. Blahblahblah. I should probably read less music blogs. Because so often, it's just blahblahblah. But I'm getting more excited about some upcoming shows of people I've already seen but like very much, as in that song with brown paper packages and warm woolen mittens. Like Feist. And Regina Spektor. And beating myself over the head with a Canadian mallet because I didn't buy Arcade Fire tickets in time.
Chapter Six: This is getting really long.
so..
Epilogue: Renewal
Every couple weeks, I get the idea into my head that I'm really going to change for the better. I will be lovely and smart and charming and just-the-right-amount of sarcastic and responsible and get.shit.done. So this week, I plan on redoing some of my bedroom, super-cleaning the apartment, preparing some good but healthy food and going to the gym, and doing more research on this school business. Most likely, I will end up with some cursory vacuuming, eating lots of nachos, and reading too many blogs and articles that I don't remember anyway.
Fin

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

nedelle

For those of you all indie-ly inclined, I have another review over at kevchino of Nedelle's From the Lion's Mouth.

Listen to two tracks here

Oh, welcome back me.
Me: Waves hello. Falls asleep.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

either/or

rargh. week too busy, stressful, cluttered. back on the weekend or monday.

send me email if you want words or if you are nice.

Edit:
Yesterday, whilst sitting in Washington Sq. Park, eating a dinner of the always delish shwarma from mamouns with a friend, we realized we sat down on a bench right across from a fenced clearing that is the house of mouses (mice, as you edumacated call them), the bar district of rats, the veritable amusement park playland for rodent kiddies. They must have been rats - kind of large sized things. Kind of gross but they mostly stayed within the fenced area.

Some woman was walking her woolly black dog, oh medium sized, I don't know what kind it was, which was not on a leash. All of a sudden, he zooms to the right and we hear a distressed and very loud squeal. Rest in Peace Rodent. Woolly Black Dog prances desultorily back onto the walkway, head held high, a little proud.

Me? I want to be that prancing woolly black dog. Unleashed, free, fierce, lovely wavy hair. This week? I'm that crunched bones of a rat. Flat, broken, ugly ugly ugly.

I sound like an emo teenager. Let me go upstairs and bang my bedroom door shut.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

americano

When I was in Italy one morning buying an espresso, the guy at the register said to me, smiling broadly, "Cinese?" I shook my head. "Japonese?" Shaking no again, I responded with an equally broad smile, "Americana!" and walked over to the bar to get my little cup of caffeinated heaven.

I suppose in my last entry, I didn't think at all of how this blind date of a city would receive me, as besides this short episode, I have never really encountered such attitudes during the remaining stay in Italia or my two trips to England.

Sure, Tony Bourdain has no problems adventuring around the world - he is white and he is a man - simple statements with considerable still-yet-even-now much nonchalant power. He will do fine in France; he's part French. Mosh, on the other hand, receives heckles of "La Chinoise!" (What is the point of this? If she were Chinese, it's not like she wouldn't know this. And the heckler, most likely, is just going to get it ignoramus-ly wrong anyhow. Just shut the hell up. You don't go around yelling at pedestrians on the street pointing out "Woman!" "Teenager!" "Dancing Bear!" like a two year old pointing out squares and circles. All either obvious or wrong, so what's the deal?)

Friend JI, who just came back from two years in Germany and various European locales, got asked often about her favorite korean author, her views on N. and S. Korea, etc. While she could have spouted off something about Hegel (Hegel!!!) or other some such political philosophy - and in German !!! - these were not questions quite up her alley, despite korean descent. This was the case with KM too. Whilst he was in Italy, his boarding Nonna did not truly ever believe that he was American because he is brown.
To most Europeans, "American" means White. Even more so than in America itself. I'm not saying that this doesn't happen here. But there seems to be a different sort of stubbornness of beliefs. Perhaps this is due to the different histories of these areas. America, race problem riddled as it is, is a very young nation of, and founded by, immigrants. Europe is a place where you can find buildings and formations still standing from ridiculously low-numbered years like 1200 and below, where you can still have an estate and castle that belonged to your ancestors whose family emblem is flying high in that turret by the moat (but alas, no dragons. Sad) and that's what it takes to be considered national.
So what is the reception towards minorities in Europe? Are Asians from London considered British? Or are they exasperatedly (made up word?) asked, no, where are you really from? On this question, is England different from Finland, from Greece? Remaining on that question, forget Europe. What about the rest of the world? What is their concept of 'American' and what is their concept of ethnic minorities within their national borders? Is there that same external judgment that arises when faced with the choice of who to root for at the Olympics?
I've read (and obviously experienced) much more on race in America and maybe none about race in other geographical contexts. Thus the barrage of questions. Any recommended readings? Experiences? Do share.
Rick Steves message board on minorities travelling abroad.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

never in paris, plus photos

No matter how much my little heartful of wishes hangs on getting around to updates about my little Italia trip, I don't know if I'll ever finish the doomed-from-the-start series. So, for those of you interested, ghoulishly procrastinatory, and just really really bored people out there, here are the photos I took. The first few are from the stopover in Geneva and the extremely pretty, nature-y ones are from Cinque Terre, and that last one is a photo of a kick-ass mozzerella di bufala pizza.

So lately it's come up in conversation with various people that I would really really love Paris. I've never been. But apparently it's my long lost soul-land. And it's true, I probably would adore Paris, the food! the cafés! the art! the jolie streets! There's JC (pas moi. I'm not that crazy yet), who upon hearing a bit about my trip to Italy immediately boomed, "You'd love Paris!" and there are the dispatches and Flickrs of Mosh who is living the dream, spending a month at cooking school, and JI who just got back from Berlin and asked in the manner of "Where's the butter" at a lobster dinner, "Why haven't you been to Paris?" (Berlin seems pretty nice too. Apparently the young people pretty much live on unemployment money which is enough to hang out and do whatever, go see movies, hang out in coffeeshops and read cuz rent is cheap and there's healthcare. Sure, economically dubious but otherwise, Dream. Come. True.)

And this Sunday, caught a rerun of No Reservations on Travel Channel with Anthony Bourdain in Paris. He just goes fooding the whole time! He's like the ultimate guy to hang out with. Shall we stop before degeneration into gushing about Bourdain whose grumpster humor makes me giggle? Oui.

So now Paris is like a boy who I have never met that my friends are trying to set me up with and I have already fallen a little smitten with something I do not know. Disregard the crop of grammatical errors in that sentence, cue sentimental strings section and fade out.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

butterfly in the sky

Ah I hope you're ready for just another crumpled piece of blogcrap in the internet trashdom here. And I'm not even the incipient pages of a Booker prize winner (I just like those.), I'm a crumpled piece of a ninth-grader's paper on Animal Farm which is eventually going to be handed in anyway, creases all kind of smoothed out, the incoherent train of thought and lack of transitions shining like a little illogical constellation.

Anyways, just wanted to air my grievances of late, my dear readers (did Jane Austen ever feel this way? I think not.), about my utter inability to focus on anything, especially reading and oh, figuring out my future. Like, whatevs. It's not even that important in the grand scheme of things. But it is important in the world of me (that sounds like a björk song doesn't it? These parentheses are annoying. Bring me a dead swan!! I need new eveningwear in the world of meeeeeeeeeee followed by Icelandic lyrics.)

I've been trying to read Orhan Pamuk's Istanbul but it's been so on and off again, kind of like cool weather in the big apple, a snippet in the subway here, a snoppet at lunch hour, a spot right before bedtime when I'm not processing anything. And now I'm skimming, like the wateriest, weariest skim milk, because the book is overdue and it's on hold for somebody else at the library and who knows why that is stressing me out so much. And that's what I feel like right now in general. A snippet here, a snoppet there. And I'm overdue somewhere for something or on hold for something else. An illogical, icelandic constellation.