Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Scary Halloween Movies

In the spirit of Halloween, Saturday night was spent at the home of our friends, Emily and Josh, watching two scary movies.

[REC] (2007)

IMDB synopsis:

"REC" turns on a young TV reporter and her cameraman who cover the night shift at the local fire station. Receiving a call from an old lady trapped in her house, they reach her building to hear horrifying screams -- which begin a long nightmare and a uniquely dramatic TV report.

A Spanish zombie movie! The group generally agreed that the movie was not entirely original as the filming style was reminiscent of Cloverfield.  It’s a short film but starts out slow and lags a bit in the middle, but has an intriguing ending.  For a scary Halloween movie or to round out one’s list of zombie films, I’d certainly recommend it.

I just discovered that there is a sequel – REC 2 – but I don’t think I’ll be able to watch it.  Also, [REC] was remade in the US under the title Quarantine (2008).

I’m not including any images because all the ones I found are pretty disturbing.

They Live (1988)

IMDB synopsis:

A drifter discovers a pair of sunglasses that allow him to wake up to the fact that aliens have taken over the Earth.

This John Carpenter film was an interesting bit of social commentary on consumerism, classism, and corporate culture.  If you go into it expecting camp and bad acting (the protagonist is an ex-wrestler), it’s very watchable.  I had never heard of it but it should be a cult classic.  A Variety review has a good summary:

Conceived on 1950s B-movie sci-fi terms, They Live is a fantastically subversive film, a nifty little confection pitting us vs them, the haves vs the have-nots.


Monday, October 25, 2010

People and movement

Yesterday I deboarded my seventh flight this month.  I’ve been in airports in Denver (of course), San Antonio, Dallas, New York City, and Portland.

I’ve taken in a lot of different people.  Mostly people waiting.  Waiting for flights to board, waiting in line for food, waiting on planes for their life to continue on the ground.  So many large people.  A few interesting looking people – an older woman in black leather Wranglers, a white gauzy button up through which her black bra was on display for instance.  Not too many overtly happy people. 

Not much smiling and warmth happening in airports and on planes.

After so much travel (for me) back-to-back and an amazing week at Rail~Volution, meeting so many fascinating people and doing so many enjoyable things, everything hit me and I felt exhausted.  As a result, on the flight from Portland to Denver, I found myself doing something I haven’t done much lately – I listened to music for a few hours. No writing, no reading, no sleeping - just giving myself over to music.  I listened to Nina Simone, Devotchka, Bebel Gilberto, Iron & Wine, the Willowz, and others. 

Feeling Good by Nina Simone was the impetus.  The song had been rolling through my head for a few days. 

Still mentally sorting things out.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Rail~Volution 2010

I’ve just returned from Portland and four wonderful days of Rail~Volution, a conference that brings transportation professionals together once a year to “Create a national movement to develop livable communities with transit.”  Two thumbs up to the organizers – it was an excellent event.  I learned a lot and met some good people.  The folks from Pittsburgh, Vancouver, and Portland were my favorites (other than the Denver crew that is).

So I’m going to share a few photos from a few jaunts around Portland.

As always, I love the random and sometimes silly stickers and paintings on signs, cars, and walls. Denver seems to be lacking in this area and I know because I’m on the lookout.

This was taped to the greeter stand at Kenny & Zuke’s deli.  I enjoy stick figures and have been pondering the drawing’s origin – a small-breasted (and lop-sided), wild-haired woman throwing the horns with a seemingly complacent dog. It’s amusing.

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These three were in various spots:

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This is from the back of a Prius, obviously.  I was unusually delighted by it’s lighthearted nature.

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There were also some less-random bits of art that I noted – tile work on a wall surrounding a park and a mural:

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I ate at some of the food carts near Pioneer Square.  The weather was moist and chilly in the mornings until just after noon and I was drawn to the soup and grilled cheese cart.  The day I visited it was serving a Hungarian mushroom soup and a cheddar, gruyere, and goat cheese grilled cheese. So, so tasty and satisfying.

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A few days later, Lacy (a friend and now co-worker) and I got a similar lunch at a food cart on Williams in Northeast Portland.  No food pic, but here’s a photo of the “cart.”

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Right across from this cart was a walk-up window for ordering coffee.  It was aptly named a “ped-thru” as opposed to a drive-thru.

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On Monday I took a mobile tour by bike of Portland’s green streets and bikeways.  The weather was amazing, the company was great (can’t go wrong with those that want to get on a bike!), and we saw some interesting and innovative stuff.  Near the end we took a break at a park and the tour guides had arranged for coffee and pastries.  The coffee was served by a coffee-by-bike sort of thing – Trailhead Coffee Roasters.  Quite good coffee but I did burn my tongue (user error). 

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Walking around Portland in general was such a treat, especially this time of year.  The trees were turning and leaves were falling. We were so impressed by the size of some leaves we got these photos.

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We also came across this huge elephant-on-elephant art in one park:

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Finally, we rode and ogled at the streetcar:

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I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Portland, I love you.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Movie wrap up

I haven’t been keeping up with recording the movies I’ve been watching.  So, this is an attempt to mark them all off the list in one fell swoop. It is important to note that some of these I saw a while ago (up to four month).

Chloe (2009)

IMDB synopsis:

A doctor (Julianne Moore) hires an escort (Amanda Seyfried) to seduce her husband (Liam Neeson), whom she suspects of cheating, though unforeseen events put the family in danger.

Not great, but an interesting cast. It started out ok with a believable plot about an aging marriage and their separate lives. However, the story felt like it got a little far afield and unrealistic fairly quickly. I was a little surprised at the woman-on-woman action between Seyfried and Moore. Watch it if you want to see naked Amanda Seyfried. Otherwise, skip it.

Chloe poster


2 Days in Paris (2007)

Netflix synopsis:

On their way home from an ill-fated Venice vacation, Marion (Julie Delpy, who also directs) and Jack (Adam Goldberg) stop in Paris to visit Marion's parents. But their sojourn in the City of Lights turns out to be just as disastrous as their "romantic" trip to Italy. Culture shock, run-ins with Marion's myriad ex-lovers and uncomfortable encounters with her parents conspire to make Jack feel even more estranged from his worldly paramour.

See it!! I watched this movie for a second time this year and enjoyed it just as much as the first time.  Goldberg’s sarcastic character was hilarious and there were genuinely funny situations.  Julie Delpy wrote, directed, and scored this film.  Her voice was both light hearted and thoughtful.  The nature of relationships, family, aging, and so on were discussed with a anthropologically detached yet emotional perspective. I definitely think it is a movie that both men and women will enjoy – it’s not a romantic comedy per se.



The Ghost Writer (2010)

IMDB synopsis:

A ghostwriter (Ewan McGregor) hired to complete the memoirs of a former British prime minister (Pierce Brosnan) uncovers secrets that put his own life in jeopardy.

Not bad and is especially worth seeing if you are a Roman Polanski fan.  Setting this movie on the coast of Martha’s Vineyard was a good move for the filmmaker.  The stormy, grey, brooding weather and ocean was the perfect backdrop for the secrets, politics, and moodiness of this movie.

The tension and rivalry of the two female leads, played by Olivia Williams and Kim Cattrall, kept my attention.  As Prime Minister Adam Lang’s right hand woman, Kim Cattrall (Samantha in Sex and the City), walked the bitchy/subservient line well, but had an awful accent.  As Adam Lang’s wife, Olivia Williams (Miss Stubbs in An Education) was the real winner; she was a strategic yet coy seductress. 



The A-Team (2010)

IMDB synopsis:

A group of Iraq War veterans looks to clear their name with the U.S. military, who suspect the four men of committing a crime for which they were framed.

Ugh. Saw this one on the flight back from NYC this month.  It was barely palatable, even as mental food on a plane.  I used to watch the TV show as a kid even.  Please skip it.



Did You Hear About the Morgans? (2009)

IMDB synopsis:

In New York City, an estranged couple (Sarah Jessica Parker and Hugh Grant) who witness a murder are relocated to small-town Wyoming as part of a witness-protection program.

Double ugh. This movie was so, so bad.  I watched it on one of those nights where you just want to switch off and not challenge your brain.  This movie is perfect for that.


There are more, but this post feels long enough.