M. Night Shyamalan, End of July 2021

Self read one review before watching Old. The review said the film had a silly ending. That didn’t worry self. She knows M. Night Shyamalan movies. At their worst, they’re supernatural hokum. But if he sells it, there is a feeling after watching an M. Night Shyamalan movie that is never there at the end of a Christopher Nolan movie, in self’s humble opinion. And she’s seen almost every Christopher Nolan movie (except Dunkirk)

The young actors and actresses are very, very good. Well, the old ones — especially Rufus Sewell — are good as well. It was nice to see Ken Leung in a movie, and in a kind of crucial role.

This isn’t really a horror movie, but by the end, self was vested.

Okay, there was one development that was borderline ridiculous, and it involves a pregnancy. She wants to talk about it more, but she doesn’t want to drop any spoilers.

This is such a strange movie-watching year. When she tried to think of another recent movie that called forth the same pure joy (despite silliness), the only movie she could think of was Mortal Kombat. Truly, Mortal Kombat made self so nostalgic that when she finally heard the immortal lines “Finish him!” and “Get over here!” she wanted to stand up and cheer!

Stay cool, dear blog readers. Stay cool.

Things Self Liked: A Quiet Place, Part II

John Krasinski, such a sly one: makes a sequel that still puts him on-screen despite his character dying in the first. But it makes complete emotional sense.

This is a very stylish horror movie. Mebbe not Alien level, but still. It’s very stylish.

Another thing that shows Krasinski’s slyness: he introduces us to ugly Cillian Murphy. Think about that for a minute. UGLY CILLIAN MURPHY.

The actress who plays his deaf daughter is absolutely amazing, and there is of course Emily Blunt.

Emily Blunt. Emily Blunt. Emily Blunt.

Even when she’s running, she looks like a ballet dancer.

Also, the filthiest feet (But why does Cillian Murphy’s character wear boots when EVERYONE ELSE IS BAREFOOT)

Also, clever use of an oxygen tank.

Self loudly gasped at least once.

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

Lens-Artists Challenge # 57: TAKING A BREAK

Self’s current book, Mihaly Czsikszentmihalyi’s FLOW: THE PSYCHOLOGY OF OPTIMAL EXPERIENCE is a very, very interesting book.

Her son and daughter-in-law were Psychology majors at Claremont, the school where the author taught. In fact, she read about him in the Claremont Graduate University alumni magazine, The Flame.

She is trying to practice Flow thinking (see graph below). She is trying to achieve “complexity” in her consciousness. This will be her project for the rest of the summer.

She thinks this goal is very much tied in with the Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: TAKING A BREAK.

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Today, she walked downtown, which she hadn’t done in two weeks. Courthouse Square was empty. Nevertheless, the trip was not in vain, for she saw a movie: Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.

Is this a ‘Flow’ experience? Self thinks it is. Watching movies is one of self’s most enjoyable activities.

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Mid-Afternoon, Courthouse Square, Redwood City, CA

And, she spends A LOT of time in her garden, where her efforts are repaid with gorgeous blooms like this one, on her Sheila’s Perfume rose:

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Sheila’s Perfume, last week of July 2019

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

On Now, San Francisco 2018

Summer: SO MANY THINGS, from the Magritte exhibit at SFMOMA, to the Rube Goldberg exhibit at the Jewish Contemporary Art Museum on Mission St., to the Redwood City Century 20, where we saw Jurassic Park last weekend (Bryce Dallas Howard forever!)

 

Mick LaSalle’s Review of ‘American Animals’

from the San Francisco Chronicle, 8 June 2018:

Seems to diss Evan Peters, lol. But interesting for describing the film’s “American thing” (i.e. yearnings)

Even though without the heist there would be no reason for the movie, it hardly seems possible that the heist will happen, not with these guys. Indeed, it’s not certain that the participants themselves even want it to happen. Yes, Warren is all for it, but the rest of them just seem willing to go along.

Part of the explanation for their sticking with the plan may be Warren’s personal charisma — not the charisma evidenced by the actor playing Warren, but that of the real-life Warren. He seems forceful and funny and looks like the leading man in a zany romantic comedy. Another explanation, suggested by the movie’s title, is that this is just an American thing: the desire for money, the desire to be somebody, to have status, to have an interesting story.

Yet one has to wonder . . .  where are the young women in this story? Why don’t Spencer and Warren have girlfriends? One gets the feeling that if either of them had one, the plan might have been scuttled immediately. The reason for this is that it often seems as though the guys are in this plot out of boredom, or out of some restless desire to feel that they have hope.

Self’s personal opinion? There is not enough Evan Peters on the big screen. Perhaps it’s Peters’s insouciant affect. The Quicksilver slowing-down-bullets scene never gets old.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

The Book of Henry Movie: What the What

If you’ve ever wondered what Naomi Watts looks like holding a high-powered rifle in her hands, this movie is for you.

If you’ve ever wondered why American child actors are so darn cute, this movie is for you.

If you’ve ever had a creepy neighbor who reminds you all the time that you need to blower your yard, this movie is for you.

If you’ve ever wondered what kind of private life a waitress in a diner has, this movie is for you.

If you’ve ever wondered about tree-houses in general — their uses in a story — this movie is for you.

If you’ve ever wondered what boy geniuses do in their spare time, this movie is for you.

If you’ve ever had cause to doubt your eleven-year-old’s stock market advice, this movie is for you.

Stay tuned.

 

Three Days, Three Movies

Self has been so starved for movies.

In a prevous life, she’d be in her local cine-plex every other day.

The past couple of years, though, unless she feels really driven, she’ll go months without seeing a movie.

Here are some of the ways she shows her movie geek street cred:

Oxford, UK: She gave up seeing the Ashmolean in favor of watching Captain America (In all fairness, the movie theatre was so conveniently situated: just across from Gloucester Green)

London: She walked — walked — in full summer heat, from Russell Square to Shaftesbury Avenue, simply to watch X-Men in the Odeon.

Fort Bragg, CA: She went during a lull in a storm. The movie? Kingsmen, with Colin Firth. When she came out of the movie, the wind was blowing flat out. Self thought she was going to be swept into the ocean.

Now, in the past four days, she has seen three movies:

  • Band Aid
  • Beatriz at Dinner
  • Wonder Woman

Sorry to say, she nearly fell asleep during the action sequences at the end of Wonder Woman. But woke right up again when she saw, in the closing credits, the name of her friend’s daughter:

DIRECTED BY PATTY JENKINS

Of the movies she’s seen so far this summer, her favorite would be Beatriz at Dinner. For Connie Britton and John Lithgow’s performances.

Today, she’s going to see The Book of Henry, even though it hasn’t gotten good reviews. She loves Naomi Watts, even though she’s been so under-used by Hollywood lately.

A long time ago, self met a Mills College student at one of her San Francisco readings. Chatting with the young woman after the reading, the student revealed she made money by working part-time as an exotic dancer. And self happened to mention how much she liked Naomi Watts (What’s the connection to exotic dancing? Nothing), and the young woman said even though Watts had turned 40, if the young woman were a man, she’d definitely consider her hot.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

American Horror Story: Evan Peters

When self was in London, this past summer, she walked all the way from Russell Square to the Odeon on Shaftesbury just to see X-Men: Apocalypse. And about halfway through, Quicksilver appeared. And then self remembered his scene in X-Men: Days of Future Past.

A week later, she was in Oxford. And her hotel was right across the street from a movie theatre. She had time to see the Bodleian but not the Ashmolean. And she even got to see X-Men: Apocalypse again. And all because of Evan Peters.

By now self knows he’s a regular on American Horror Story. But she is such a fraidy cat, she never risked watching a single episode. Until today.

What else to do on a beautiful Saturday afternoon? She decided to watch American Horror Story. She scanned, episode by episode, until she got to one called “Coven,” which she thinks was either in Season 2 or Season 3.

The opening credits were a compendium of scary sights. But self was able to endure.

TRIGGER WARNING: Some Not-So-Nice Things, i.e. Horror, Depravity, Sexual Deviation and — need self say more?

Jessica Lange appeared, all floozy and wrecked. Then Emma Roberts appeared, in trashy faux-fur and miniskirt, side-eyeing a shirtless next-door neighbor. Then Evan Peters appeared, blonde. In flannel shirt. On a bed. Next to a blonde who looked significantly older.

Then it appeared that his head had at one time been separated from his torso. Not only his head, but also his arms. Everything was still healing, but there were a lot of sutures.

Then, a younger blonde appeared, rescued Evan Peters, and returned him to his mama, an awfully decrepit-looking Mare Winningham (She had a stud on her chin. Way to go, Big Mare Mama!). Then Evan’s Mama began to kiss him on the mouth. It took some time before self realized that the writers of this show were indeed going to go there — Holy Cow! This is one crazy show! So depraved (by American TV standards, that is)! She loved it, just loved it!

Apparently, every single oddball character actress in America is in this show. Aside from the aforementioned Jessica Lange, Mare Winningham, and Emma Roberts, Kathy Bates is in it.

Characters are all kinds of deviants. Huh!

It was getting dark and self was getting major creepy vibes, so she stopped watching after just two episodes. But, kudos to the writers and producers for putting such wickedly anarchic stuff on American television. And for keeping it up for six seasons.

Stay tuned.

It Begins

In the movie self just saw, Ben-Hur actually says “Wow.”

It’s a tad too long, but the final chariot race was thrilling. She saw it in 3D, which wouldn’t ever be her first choice, because 3D usually makes her dizzy, but she was short on time and had to grab the first screening that came up.

And she did not get dizzy! In fact, she forgot she was watching 3D about 10 minutes after the screen went black and this message appeared:

PUT ON YOUR 3D GLASSES NOW.

Today self, having forced herself to re-read the first 30 pages of Northanger Abbey, is finally beginning to see the point.

She must have been so tired earlier, when she first began reading. That’s the only explanation she can come up with for the words dancing like spots before her eyes.

Now, self has arrived at a part where Catherine is sure of her attraction to Mr. Tilney, and is still very equable to her best friend’s brother, John Thorpe. He’s such a natterer. But Catherine is much too nice to drive him away. Besides, she’s too humble and self-effacing to think that she has an actual suitor.

As self realized after reading Middlemarch last year, if a young woman is moral enough and innocent enough, her rich inner life can well prove to be her undoing: She can convince herself of the rightness of self-sacrifice like nobody’s business.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Northanger Abbey: Readers, Meet John Thorpe

Still in Bath.

We meet the brother of Isabella Thorpe, whose name is John Thorpe.

This is his appearance:

John Thorpe was a stout young man of middling height, who, with a plain face and ungraceful form, seemed fearful of being too handsome unless he wore the dress of a groom, and too much like a gentleman unless he were easy where he ought to be civil, and impudent where he might allowed to be easy.

The very plain-ness of the man means the heroine, Catherine, will be paired up with him because she, though not un-attractive, is decidedly not beautiful. So why should anyone in Bath, England, pay attention to her? Isn’t it rather presumptuous of her to go to Bath and look for romance? Most women of Austen’s day and age would be happy to have anyone, looks or affinity do not matter in the least.

Self knows there will be plot twists and blah blah blah, but why in God’s name does Austen allow John Thorpe to bore us the same way he bores Catherine with pages and pages of tomfoolery and dull dialogue that was delivered to greater effect by Tom Bennett in the recent movie Love & Friendship?

We get that John Thorpe has no other subject of conversation other than horses (“look at his loins; only see how he moves”) and gigs, and that he doesn’t see the value of novels, but — could Jane Austen please stop belaboring the point and get on with it, please? A point can be made twice. It cannot be made three times. This is a short novel.

All self can see in her head is the dinner scene in Love & Friendship when Tom Bennet takes great delight in “little green balls” on his dinner plate and asks what they are and Reginald de Courcy (who is brought to blazing life by a blazing hot Xavier Samuel) says, “They’re called peas.”

Speaking of Xavier Samuel, self cannot wait to have Love & Friendship in her Netflix feed.

Stay tuned.

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