I listened to this classic Bill Evans album before turning in late Saturday night/Sunday morning. Evans and his band show such virtuosity, and yet it feels somehow universal, as if this were the music I would expect to hear walking to any jazz club, but probably wouldn't.
I'd been meaning to catch Jacques Torneur's horror/noir classic for years, but finally watched it last night. This movie does a masterful job of creating a supernatural monster that you pretty much never see. (A woman recently immigrated to the US is descended from a satanic cult whose members turn into jungle cats when angered. You see her shadow and hear a cat snarling, but that's pretty much it.) This felt as much like a pre-WWII European movie as a Hollywood studio film. I love European emigre directors in Hollywood like Torneur, Max Ophuls, Billy Wilder, and all the rest. And while Cat People works wonderfully as a suspense tale, it also is a terrific allegory for America naively thinking it can straighten out Europe's problems. The only problem with this film is I kept getting that awful Randy Newman song "Short People" in my head, only with "Cat People" substituted in, of course.
Finally caught up with this movie on DVD, only because it was filmed here in Portland. But boy, it was really terrible. I mean, abyssmal. The script had a kernel of interest, but it was full of half-formed ideas and mostly was cause for a sequence of clumsy action scenes. The direction, by once great William Freidkin, felt like one of those movies that had a rough-cut of two hours and got edited down to 90. Although I generally prefer 90 minute movies--it just feels like the right lengh most of the time--I think some longer movies are worth every minute. But it's as if the studio must have understand it was bad before they even released it, so they figured it could just be pared down to its action scenes and slung into the market like supermarket chicken already on the verge of its expiration date. Benicio Del Toro's career really failed to capitalize on his post-Oscar momentum. And Tommy Lee Jones--has he no shame in just dupicating his Fugitive role for a paycheck? But it was fun seeing Portland as the set for a movie. I can't imagine the horror show that would constitute a filmed-in-Portland movie marathon. Other than Gus Van Sant's first few films, of course.
I think I'll be writing a top 10 movie list for 2003 in a couple weeks for Willamette Week, or at least the web version. I'm curious what people think some of the candidates are. Personally I'm a big fan of (in no particular order) Lost In Translation, 28 Days Later, Elephant, I'm Going Home, The Man Without a Past, Cabin Fever, City of God, and a few others. Care to make your case for another?
I was just going through an old CD of photos and found this shot taken earlier this Spring. It's a lousy picture but brings back an odd memory. I had interviewed French filmmaker Claire Denis, who made one of my favorite films, "Beau Travail". But to my disappointment, her demeanor was a little bit argumenative. Although she wasn't trying to be mean, and she did nothing wrong whatsoever, she was a little rough around the edges, politeness-wise. But then she caught sight of a couple little girls that were part of a wedding party at the hotel where we were conducting the interview, called The Sorrento. Anyway, the girls were all decked out in these elaborate dresses for the ceremony. As soon as she saw them, Denis essentially turned her frown upside down in mere seconds. She ran off to take their picture, and was just grinning ear to ear. That's when this photo was taken. It was worth some gruffness to see that transformation she went through. Must be something about having a camera in her hands!
I really can't stand that guy on all those Verizon Wireless commercials who keeps going "Can you hear me now? Good!" We get it, already. Plus, I hate how a big corporation is trying to dress up their little spokesperson as this sort of hipster. I'll take Catherine Zeta-Jones anytime, as cell phone company pitch people go.
As I write this, I can see my mailman delivering to a house across the street. It's 43 degrees outside. He's wearing SHORTS. And no jacket, by the way. This is not the first time I've seen this shocking wardrobe choice. What is it about Postal Service employees -- do they all hail from Siberia or Nova Scotia?
This is not the most important thing I'll ever say, but for the love of God: Use your damn turn signal. What is it with drivers just slowly drifting from one lane into another? What are you, asleep at the wheel? That's what it looks like. And what are we other drivers to think when you suddenly just brake out of nowhere so you can turn to the left or right? Show a little common curtesy. It's just not that hard, people.
Just saw this movie on DVD. I loved the blend of deadpan, ironic humor with unmistakable compassion. Apparently that's a trademark of the filmmaker, Finland's Aki Kaurismaki. I really need to see more of his work. "Leningrad Cowboys Go to America" is his most well-known film here, but I always thought it looked pretty stupid, what with those hairdos and all. I sure wish I would have seen "Man" sooner, because the NW Film Center has had a retrospective going since mid-November.
Yeah!!! Oregon 34, Oregon State 20. I didn't think it would turn out this way, but it did. Oregon completely out-coached OSU, with offensive coordinator Andy Ludwig spreading the ball around in a way that he hasn't really done all season, exploiting the Beavers' overpursuit. And defensive coordinator Nick Alliotti got his unit to stop the run (holding probable All-American RB Stephen Jackson to 68 measly yards) and make Derrick Anderson throw the ball under pressure (leading to two key 4th quarter interceptions). Friends and family know that I'm a nervous wreck every year when the Civil War rolls around, and this year was no different. But all's well that ends well, right?