Thursday, October 14, 2021

Do I like Punch Drunk Love

For starters it's only 90 minutes, which is a nice palate cleanser after the bloated Magnolia. It felt like a short comparatively!

I like the music use in this one again. I VERY FREQUENTLY get that Olive Oyl song sung by Shelley Duvall in Popeye in my head, and it drifts in and out of this movie. 

I do like this less than when it came out however, watching with a current lens it occurred to me that this is a love story where both lovers are manic pixie dream girls/guys. Feels the most like a fairy tale or fable of any of the movies so far.

Sandler is great, there are many funny lines. I am a moderate Sandler fan, I don't seek everything out but I like him in dramatic roles but now that I look at his filmography I haven't seen that many of the comedies. 

This movie is fizzy and sweet and low stakes. Clearly a swerve from Magnolia and I still like it, but it didn't make me all emo like it did when I saw it in the theater. Maybe because I was still searching for love, but now I've found it so I don't need to wonder if I can find it with a shy man-boy who punches stuff. Instead I've found it with an outgoing boyish man who has never punched anything except a Tower timeclock

Do I like Magnolia?

 Much like Pitchfork with Interpol, I would like to downgrade my initial rating of Magnolia. Came out in 1999. PTA was obviously flying high from the commercial and critical success of Boogie Nights so he decided to do something modest like release a three hour movie that explains, what? I'm not quite sure, coincidence? Regret? He is on record saying he wish he would have chilled out and cut 20 minutes. Probably more like 45 would be good.

The use of this music in this movie is terrible, almost from the first scene. Well, the first scenes are old-timey Ripley's Believe it or not-style coincidences that could def be cut. 

Then we have Aimee Mann covering the Nilsson song "One". I really love Nilsson and this song of course is good, not one of my faves. But PTA plays the entire (7 minute) cover as he sets up his many, many intertwining stories, over dialogue and even over snippets of other music. It was super irritating and put me on edge for the start of my long filmic journey. 

That, and the incessant use of a tense score to create building tension that the scenes have not earned through what is actually happening in the scene really hurt this movie for me.

There are so many plots, I may not even hit them all.

The dimbulb kindhearted cop plot did not age well. Fuck this guy.

The entire quiz show plot, including both the prodigy kid and the host, not interesting.

Quiz show prodigy grown up, also not that compelling.

Game show host daughter, I guess sort of interesting. She does so much coke that it made me wonder how much coke PTA did in his heyday. It's also hard to trust anything that's going on with her because she's so high out of her mind.

The sole interesting plots are the two intertwining ones of Tom Cruise as incel pickup artist guy, and Jason Robards as dying dad with Julianne Moore as regretful trophy wife. Philip Seymour Hoffmann is affecting as nice guy nurse with  moist eyes. 

Jason Robards is amazing, and deserved awards. Julianne Moore does a lot with a thankless role, and Cruise brings the little bit of fun to be had in this movie.

If you cut out all the trappings like the old-timey coincidence intro and outro, the rain of frogs, the music use including the mid-movie singalong and you are just left with the two intriguing plotlines. Maybe that would have been a really good movie, hard to say.

When it came out, I saw it in the theater and I was somewhat into it. I was sucked in and didn't mind the musical sing along part. It felt like it had something to say, but now that I think about it I'm not so sure.

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Do I like Boogie Nights?

 Fuck yes. End of post....JK!

But serial, this movie is lightning in a bottle, it's a canary in a coal mine, it's the chocolate to my peanut butter, I'm soaking in it!

I'm not a movie re-watcher, but I saw this in the theater and I've watched it at least once more later, probably more. Nevertheless, it had to have been at least a decade so I was watching with fresh eyes.

This movie is just so appealing! It's like a warm hug from a polyester double knit garment. It's a fairy tale. I noticed the structure more this time - joyful and on the upswing for almost exactly the first half, peaks on NYE 79 and then starts to go down, down, down, then on to the happy ending we crave that does not feel cheap. Yes, Scotty doesn't get his man, Amber still doesn't have her son, and it's not that realistic that Dirk would kick drugs but I don't care. They are a chosen family and I want them to be together.

The set piece in this one is the drug dealer, Sister Christian scene, which is just as fun as I remember. There is a good use of music in this movie (foreshadowing for my take on the poor use in Magnolia). It's pretty perfect in fact, and I am as sick of these songs as anyone, but they work.

Marky Mark is problematic as hell, and in his uptight Catholic later years he has disavowed this movie, but he has for sure never reached these heights again.

Still not loving John C. Reilly, maybe ever. I think he could disappear from this movie and it would not be much worse off despite being the source of a couple laughs.

This movie is ecstatic, energizing and so fun and it ends with male full frontal - what's not to like!!!

Trippy food for thought: it came out in 97, probably filmed in 96, and set in the late 70s/early 80s. So despite the campy fashion and tunes, it was filmed about 15-ish years after the dates depicted. And now it has been out for 24 years!!!! But think back to like 15 years ago and it feels to me like not a whole ton has changed in fashion and music. Probably just part of getting older, but that was tripping me out when I thought about it.

Monday, October 11, 2021

Do I like PT Anderson

 Sometimes I feel the need to put disclaimers about how self-involved this thing is, but then again, it's my blog so of course it's what I'm thinking about or doing, sheesh.

The last two movies I've seen (Titane -which I keep thinking is called Tartine, and Lamb - dumb) both had the preview for PT Anderson's new movie Licorice Pizza. It doesn't look particularly intriguing and I was distracted by the Haim and trying to figure out how old she is and how old she is supposed to be in the story. That is why celeb casting can be annoying!

Anyway, it got me thinking - do I really like PT Anderson or do I just think I do? Note that I'm not saying "is he good?" that is too lofty and I'm not qualified. Love movies but not a film nerd.

So I decided to watch them all in a row. Naming his movies with smiller I bet he might be the only director where I can think of all his movies but I did forget Hard Eight. Smiller was like "Boogie Nights can't be the first!" He was right.

Hard Eight came out in 1996 and I went to see it in the theater. I would have been 22 or 23. Reader, I walked out. I probably theater-hopped to something else. Gwyneth annoyed me, and the casino plot did not grab me.

I watched it the other night. I'm pretty sure this is the only time I've seen the ending. Gwyneth still annoyed me. Seeing her prep school ass play a Reno sex worker is just irritating. It was weird seeing it close after The Card Counter because it had so many similarities. Men, searching for daddies and sons, in seedy casinos. Card counting mentioned in the beginning, and then never again. 

It didn't really feel like a PT Anderson movie yet, although I guess the hotel room scene is the signature scene. I know there was some issue with the movie getting cut by the studio and then recut by him, so maybe they tried to cut out his auteur stuff. 

Phillip Seymour Hoffman has a poignant cameo, and he uses the laugh-to-hide-crushing-insecurity laugh that he would employ as Scott in Boogie Nights.

Casting Samuel Jackson a couple years after Pulp Fiction gives the scenes between him and Philip Baker Hall a Tarentino-esque feel, which is definitely weird for Paul Thomas Anderson.

Overall, it's ok but I'm sure after my walk out I had no thought I would go to see his next movie. I wish the Reno Peppermill still looks the way it does in the movie. I mean, maybe it does but I doubt it.

Thursday, October 07, 2021

Restaurant adventures

 I've been going to restaurants slightly more often recently, but still have not dined inside. I probably will on an upcoming vacay to chiller climes.

I had a funny Friday night dining experience. A friend was coming from SF, with a tiny dog, so I thought Joon would be perf. I've only had one lunch there so far but loved it. I didn't know the deal with their dinner, at least on weekends. What is the deal? Glad you asked. They are very popular, and you need reservations. They are counter service at lunch, table service at dinner. When we checked for party of 4 (I was kinda willing to try inside) it was a 90 minute wait. They had like 6 empty picnic tables on the side, which are not primo seating but which I would have gladly taken, but due to the employee shortage they can't serve those. I wish they would let you get takeout and sit there, but they won't. 

So then, the dilemma, where to go? Trying to show the friend that Sac is "cool". Also, me and Smiller rode there. So we had two folks on bikes, 2 in cars, and one adorable pomeranian/chihuahua mix. 100% Sellands did not cross our minds because I enjoy flavorful food.

We settled on Jamie's, where I have not been since before the pandemic started. We pile in one car, leave the bikes safely in the bosom of East Sac (best Sac? I told you I'm on this new kick).

Arrive to Jamies just as Smiller realizes he left his phone on his bike (he's got a thing rigged to put it on his handle bars for playing tunes). Where could it be safer than East Sac? But anyway, he and EC head to get it. 

Me and the friend, getting really hungry now, ask for "patio" which is really two tables in the Jamie's back parking lot (who knew they had one?). This is due to my request, everyone else would have dealt with eating inside, I'm just nervous. They say no because they are short staffed, but then reconsider (I promise I didn't whine) and say ok. Soon the two of us are out back, gratefully drinking Anchor Steams. EC and Smiller take a while, and both servers at Jamie's checking on us are SO NICE.

They arrive, phone safe (of course) and we ravenously over order. Calamari, clam chowder, club sandwich, two garlic steak sandwiches and I get the turkey and cran san (notice I do not say sando). More brews get drank. We wonder what Guy Fieri ordered when he was there for DDD and conclude it had to be the garlic steak sandwich.

Everything is delish, their turkey is so good. The calamari is tender and has cocktail sauce to dunk in. We are stoked.

aforementioned cute dog

But it's so funny that I wanted to take CM to a charming little jewel of a place and we end up in a dirty parking lot with a view of a dumpster and the freeway, I'll complete the picture by adding that the AQI was really bad this day and we got dirty sky and orange sun. It felt appropriately apocalyptic for these times and was a meal I will never forget. I love Jamie's even more now.

Greek flex

Then we hit up the tail end of the Greek Festival and enjoy a lot of muscular guys drunk on ouzo (that sounds pervy the way I write it and ok fair) and then I try to get ouzo and they have RUN OUT OF OUZO, despite multiple people there wearing tshirts saying "Got Ouzo?" to which I had to sadly cry oxi (aka no in Greek), and we got those honey donuts (loukoumades). There was a super pro Greek band, with a guy with a real for real bouzouki and folk dancing including willowy dancers from the folk dancing troupe. He had a very Sac night, for better or worse!


1) I don't like Jamie's fries though. They are those coated-style fries. What is this lumpy coating? And why?

2) Part of the back parking lot has a quonset hut where Jamie's was doing dining when there was no indoor dining, and bands used to play there. The stage is flanked by 7 foot tall Coors and Coors light cans. Someone contact them to have a show!!

Monday, October 04, 2021

Stuff I have liked recently

 Ok, I have 13 minutes till my next zoom, LET'S GO:

1) Getting a Moonraker beer on the Compton's patio, my new "spot" (that makes my "G spot" my "old spot" now). Also pretty high on East Sac in general and pretending that I sort of live there (my actual hood is Marshall School)


Robert Walser continues to be the funniest writer I've read who died in a mental hospital

3) Went to see Titane and I was very grossed out and very entertained. I like a female director doing Cronenberg/body horror stuff. I like homoerotic fireman nightclubs. Is it a classic? Probably not. Only time will tell


Blown away by the 90s move "What happened was" but I'm pretty convinced maybe only me and Charlie Kaufman really love it. He is known to have called it an influence. It's on Criterion, if you like movies that started as plays and are filmed (2 character) plays then you might like it

5) Cooked Alison Roman's soy/honey brisket and goddamned that has got to be the most savory and best brisket I've ever had. And the recipe has so much salt (both in soy sauce AND fish sauce) that I retained two pounds of water weight since yesterday from eating it for dinner.

Got it done with a couple pics and 5 minutes to spare

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Navel Gazing

 I made two big life changes during the pandemic: started running and started meditating. The other one, which I didn't initiate ('rona did it) is no more twice-a-year visits by my mom which even though they were only twice, took up a bigly amount of space in my head because they were so stressful to plan and execute, so it always seemed like a visit was happening soon or had just happened.

But I digress, so running was due to not being able to go to spin as my main way to "stay in shape" whatever that is to a given person. I got really into it as something I could do when I couldn't do anything else and I was maybe running a little too often and pushing my mid-40s (cough *late 40*) body a bit, and since about May I have scaled back and run on average 4 times a week, 3 miles at a time. At that level, I don't get any injuries or soreness so it seems good. I found that I love to run in the extreme cold so I may up my distance again when the temperatures drop. I usually run at around 7 am everyday, rarely later than 8. Yeah, running is cool if you can do it and/or don't hate it. I do get sick of my McKinley village/Elvas area runs but I have a newfound appreciation for Compton's Market and their deliciously old-school logo and vibe. I mean, I don't shop there often but I think about it a lot as I run past. I love how there is a bar inside for East Sac Grateful dads to drink brews. I have also learned where the citrus, fig, loquat and cherry trees are to raid and pillage as I run

OK, now blogger has decided to center align, whatevs. 

Second change, meditating. That one is a bit more recent. UCD sponsors live meditations sessions, so I started that, and downloaded the Calm app (which I now got rid of and use 10% happier instead which is a great app despite the pathetic name). Now I meditate for a short sesh most days, sometimes twice or even three times. Sometimes if I do a body scan style one I will fall asleep briefly. That has been a life changer because it's making me tune into bodily sensations, and to note how often my heart is racing or I feel super nervous or tense. It's helping me to change that.

A side-effect of changing that is that I'm starting to notice I can't "handle" the stress I used to be able to. But what does "handling" mean anyway? A lot of times I think handling is just supposed to mean ignoring your stress and bodily sensations and plunging in. That's a lot harder when you are tuned into those feelings. Maybe that's why this younger generation is viewed as kind of fragile, because they are aware of mental health best practices and yikes "self care".  Anyway, these are musings that are on my mind, it really doesn't take much time at all to take a few breaths and ground yourself periodically, it can be done during the same amount of time that you might normally be scrolling on social media or stress snacking or something.

Friday, September 03, 2021

Shirley Jackson and Chile Rellenos

I watched the Shirley Jackson-ish movie last night. And by "ish" I meant that the movie is based on a fictional novel with only a tangential relationship to Shirley Jackson's life, mostly because there are no kids in it and she had 4 kids. The movie has a Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf vibe with a fictional young, hot couple coming to live with Shirley and her obnoxious husband.

Few things: Shirley Jackson is a damn trip. You can be a fan (I am BIG TIME) and not realize she wrote two child rearing non-fiction books. Life among the savages and raising demons. Reading Haunting of Hill House and imagining her in the Erma Bombeck type of writing space is very weird. 

How is Shirley the movie? Better than I thought it would be. It all hinges on Moss and some of it is a bit wobbly at times but overall maybe I was just swayed by the excellent shirts that Shirley Jackson wore. 

This duck one is particularly good
Here's another trip about Shirley. She died at 49.
People really aged differently back in the day. But I feel like a dick pointing this out, I'm being honest that I was tripping on it, but also a reason I vibed with the movie is because as someone who has grappled with self image my entire life I am drawn to stories of women who yield power and magnetism that they do not gain through beauty. 

During the movie Shirley is writing a book that I had no idea is a real book, called Hangsaman and now I must read immediately but help I have like 12 books lined up to read right now!!! Current rotation: Call Me By Your Name (trying to rush to the dirty parts), How the Word is Passed (reading with a friend) and a book on daughters of narcissistic mothers. Just finished: Shirley Hazzard The Great Fire.

As far as the Jackson oeuvre I've read We Have Always Lived in the Castle and Hill House is the best scary book of all time IMHO. Of course I've read The Lottery but probably should check out more of her short stories but I just don't really like reading short stories.

The director of Shirley is Josephine Decker who has an interesting body of work. I have seen her movies "Butter on the Latch" "Thou Wast Mild and Lovely" and also a very cringey doc. that she made with an ex about their relationship that has a lot of real sex in it! And them talking about where their relationship went wrong. Shirley was def her biggest movie, with Coppola as producer and I wonder what it did for her career. It got released during the pandemic. I know flops are harder for female directors to recover from. She has a new movie in post-production with Jason Segel in it. Haven't thought about that guy in a while.

I am off the 'Gram so I have nowhere to post food photos. This one is an extremely bad photo and also you can see where I salted after cooking and there's salt on the plate. I made chile rellenos. Two coworkers had told me it's not worth the trouble but I would make again. I made two kinds: stuffed with Oaxacan cheese and the other stuffed with a saute (how do you spell) of shrimp, onion and tomato.

I made the sauce from garden tomatoes, serrano chile, garlic and onion. Blended, cooked down and strained.

The different thing about frying rellenos is you whip the eggs. The recipe I had led to me overwhipping them so that they were too foamy and wouldn't coat the chile (which is first dipped in flour). So while frying the second batch I added another egg white and mixed in so it would not be so stiff.

You roast the chilies beforehand and de-skin and de-seed etc. I think I overroasted them slightly so they were too soft and tended to split. You can hold them together with toothpicks for frying, but it seems sketchy like you are going to bite into one.

Delicious! It made me miss my customary 524 relleno order even though mine were better.