Most Scintillating Quote (of Yesterday): Mick LaSalle, SF Chronicle

The past is always romantic because it’s gone, just as the future is always frightening because you‘re gone.

—  Mick LaSalle, San Francisco Chronicle movie critic, in a review of Woody Allen’s “Midnight in Paris”

Self read this sentence last night, but she only got around to quoting it today —  apologies, dear blog readers.  Self has had such a stimulating day:  Hubby was a veritable dynamo of energy, and took her to new dim sum place on site of erstwhile Joy Luck, on 4th Street in downtown San Mateo, where he had her get a succulent dish of crackling self-knows-not-what kind of animal deep-fried skin and self, never one to turn down crackling animal skin of any kind, accepted, whereupon the dish turned out to be “suckling pig,” and cost $16.95 for eight slices.

Nevertheless, we did not allow such a small thing to de-rail our good humor.  Following the most expensive dim sum meal self has ever ingested in at least 10 years, we went to Marina Mart in Foster City and bought a 25-lb. sack of long grain rice, which according to self’s rough calculations should last about six months — that is, unless son visits and invites his friends over for barbecue or for steak fondue, in which case the 25-lb. sack of rice will last about a month, but that is a small price to pay for the pleasure of son’s company.

Then hubby took self to the Hiller Aviation Museum in San Carlos (There is a very interesting air show on June 17 -19, the “Vertical Challenge Helicopter Air Show”).

Then we passed by for some fro-yo at Harmony Frozen Yogurt on Laurel Street in San Carlos (which just happened to be having a sale:  small blueberry frozen yogurt with one topping, $1.95)

Anyhoo, self was still on some kind of high after watching Woody Allen’s “Midnight in Paris,” so she let her restless fingers wander over to Rotten Tomatoes, where she saw the film had a 92% freshness rating (Well deserved:  EVERYONE in the Menlo Park Guild was laughing, pretty much from the first to the last scene.  Self hasn’t enjoyed a movie performance as much as she enjoyed Owen Wilson’s, not in a long, long time  —  perhaps not since watching Zach Quinto in the “Star Trek” re-boot, and as dear blog readers are painfully aware, that movie was in a galaxy a long time ago and far far away …  J. J. Abrams, quit with the “Mission Impossible” sequels already and just make another Star Trek!)

While self is on the subject of movies, she thinks she’ll just go ahead and post a list of her favorite movies so far in 2011 (She doesn’t think the summer crop of movies will seriously impact this list of faves —  after all, summer = popcorn fare):

  1. “Biutiful” (Javier Bardem stars as a man trying heroically to be a good father and a good husband, in spite of having cancer.  In spite of having a drug-addicted wife who sleeps with his brother.  Need one say more?  Weeper, to the max)
  2. “The Lincoln Lawyer” (Starring the Matthew McConaughey mane, still perfect after 15 years!  With riveting cameo by one of self’s favorite actors, Michael Peña)
  3. “Win Win” (Paul Giamatti, Amy Ryan, Melanie Lynskey as the most fresh-faced drug addict in the entire world, and a newcomer named Alex Shaffer)
  4. “Jane Eyre” (Michael Fassbender/Rochester + Mia Wasikowska/Jane Eyre who has the tiniest, teensiest waist in the whole world + Director Cary Fukunaga = instant Gothic Romance Classic)
  5. “Fast Five” (Paul Walker and his Converse sneakers; Vin Diesel and his cartoon-ish biceps; Jordana Brewster and her indeterminate ethnic beauty; hot young Asian American on the Fast Five team —  sorry, self does not have time to look up his actual name right at this moment = pure escapist fun)
  6. “Midnight in Paris” (See it for the performances:  Kathy Bates, Adrien Brody, Marion Cotillard, Rachel McAdams, Michael Sheen, Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, and of course Owen Wilson!)

Self will close with yet another quote from aforementioned critic, Mick La Salle:

Tom Hiddleston is too tall for Scott Fitzgerald, who was just a little bigger than Woody Allen.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

SF Chronicle Capsule Movie Reviews

Self knows, she knows:  she’s going bananas with blogging again.  Perhaps it’s because she’s trying to postpone working.  Writing!  All right, but let’s just get this last one off her chest:  M. La Salle is possibly the only critic in the universe who gave “Watchmen” a good review.  And Carla Gugino is in “Race to Witch Mountain,” which self does not want to see because, aside from the fact that self no longer has a kid at home and therefore has no excuse to see a kiddie movie, she doesn’t want to see Carla in one of these Hollywood commercial flicks when self last saw her deliver a truly scorching performance on the stage of the Goodman Theatre, in “Desire Under the Elms,” last February.

Let’s see:  what else is in the Little Man Ratings Guide that might be of more than usual interest?  “Push” is rated a Sleeping Man.  Oh, too bad, self thought Chris Evans and Dakota Fanning were an appealing pairing.  “Rachel Getting Married” (which earned Anne Hathaway an Oscar nod) gets an Attentive Man.  Ditto for “The Reader.”

“Revolutionary Road” has Man Jumping Out of His Seat —  too bad it’s not showing in self’s local cine-plex any longer!  “Slumdog Millionaire” has Attentive Man (Yes!)  “Taken” has Clapping Man.  “Two Lovers” has —  Whoa!!!  —  Man Jumping Out of Seat with Joy and Appreciation!


Critic M. LaSalle says:

Joaquin Phoenix stars as a bipolar man who is torn between his attraction to an unstable neighbor and a beautiful friend of the family in this exceptionally well-acted romantic drama from writer-director James Gray.  It’s only February, but if this isn’t one of the best films 2009, it’s going to be an amazing year.

No, No, NOOOO — !

And here is the same critic’s review of “The Watchmen” :

This is a superior action movie, based on a graphic novel, that posits an alternate universe 1985, in which Nixon is president, the Soviets are about to launch a nuclear war and masked heroes are a part of the urban landscape.  Evocative and unsettling, it’s an intelligent and well-realized work of the imagination, worthy of its epic running time.

Hmm, self had no idea the movie was about an alternative 1985 universe.   She actually thinks it sounds pretty interesting:  the 1985 Nixon-is-President part, not the masked-heroes-running-all-over-the-urban-landscape part  (which is  —  hello?  What else is new?  Heroes are running all over the landscape in almost every movie coming out this summer!  The only difference is that some heroes are from the future, like John Connor.  And others are from Hogwarts, like in HP VI.  And some look like Denzel Washington, and others look like Jason Statham.  Some even look like —  Seth Rogen???)

Stay tuned, dear blog readers, stay tuned.

SF Chronicle Book Review, 15 March 2009

Books self is interested in reading after perusing the 15 March 2009 issue of The San Francisco Chronicle Book Review — a very short list, but they reviewed Ogawa, and one of the reviews is written by Abraham Verghese (who seems to be everywhere these days, including Stanford, where he now teaches):

(1) After reading Abraham Verghese’s review of San Francisco writer Minal Hajratwala’s Leaving India: My Family’s Journey From Five Villages to Five Continents:

Minal Hajratwala’s Leaving India: My Family’s Journey From Five Villages to Five Continents

(2) After reading Joan Frank’s review of Yoko Ogawa’s latest novel, The Housekeeper and The Professor:

Yoko Ogawa’s The Housekeeper and The Professor

(3) After reading Charles Matthews’ review of Cara Black’s ninth Aimee Leduc mystery, Murder in the Latin Quarter:

Cara Black’s Murder in the Latin Quarter

Three Letters to the Editor, SF CHRONICLE, 3 February 2008

Self back from teaching. She finds this class very veeeery quiet. But they’re thoughtful, too, as evinced by the sharp questions they flung at the people giving oral presentations today. AND, cute Filipina Larissa A brought banana fritters (aka turon) she had made herself, to go along with her talk on why she wanted to be a professional chef! They were so yummy, the fritters had strips of nangka in them, and the class gobbled them right up. Self was secretly hoping there’d be some left after everyone had taken their share, and as luck would have it, there were two. Self sat in the parking lot and gobbled them down before she started the car. This meant she had to drive home with greasy fingers on the steering wheel. Never mind: they were delicious! Larissa gets an “A” for oral presentation and verve!

Home again, self turns the TV to “Monk” (Self likes watching re-runs of “Monk,” “Law and Order SVU,” or “Law and Order: Criminal Intent.” Hubby, in contrast, likes watching re-runs of “CSI: Miami” or CSI: New York”). She unfolds her latest copy of the Chronicle (3 February 2008) and reads the Letters to the Editor in the Opinion section. She always hones in on the ones from “her” area. Here’s one from a reader in Menlo Park, and self gets all the way to the end before she reads the name: Joan Baez! Joan Baez lives in Menlo Park! Barely a stone’s throw from self’s own home!

The other letter is from a woman in Palo Alto, which self also considers “her” neck of the woods. Sandwiched in between these two is a letter from a woman in San Francisco. Oh, what the heck, self will just go ahead and quote all three.

Self will start with the one from Joan Baez:

Editor — I have attempted throughout my life to give a voice to the voiceless, hope to the hopeless, encouragement to the discouraged, and options to the cynical and complacent. From Northern Ireland to Sarajevo to Latin America, I have sung and marched, engaged in civil disobedience, visited war zones, and broken bread with those who had little bread to break.

Through all those years, I chose not to engage in party politics. Though I was asked many times to endorse candidates at every level, I was never comfortable doing so. At this time, however, changing that posture feels like the responsible thing to do. If anyone can navigate the contaminated waters of Washington, lift up the poor, and appeal to the rich to share their wealth, it is Sen. Barack Obama. If anyone can bring light to the darkened corners of this nation and restore our positive influence in world affairs, it is Barack Obama.

And now to the letter from the woman from San Francisco, which is not actually in self’s neck of the woods, but has some curious things to say about Hillary:

Editor — This is one last plea to the democratic voters in California, especially to women: Sen. Hillary Clinton is a true conservative; she voted for the war, she has supported Bush in his saber-rattling against Iran, and her past record shows a generally conservative voting record. And as for the “attack dog,” Bill Clinton, does anyone really believe that he has said those things without the express direction of Hillary?

With Hillary as candidate, I am afraid that is just what will happen. If she is the candidate, I will, of course, vote for her, but with a heavy heart.

And finally the letter from the woman from Palo Alto:

Editor — Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s budget proposes to close 48 state parks — to make unavailable to Californians some of the state’s most beautiful places and historic sites. Yes, we need to balance the budget, but the theorized savings — 9 million dollars, less than .1 percent of the state budget — do not take into account the losses involved in making nature inaccessible to many thousands of Californians.

It has been demonstrated that even a short walk in nature can relieve stress, reduce violent tendencies and increase creativity. Keep parks open and foster a healthy California.

And now, self must be off to return “Rescue Dawn” (an excellently acted, but somewhat odd movie) to Blockbuster. Stay tuned, dear blog readers, stay tuned.

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