Saturday, January 06, 2007

More Movies

My home computer continues to give me fits by REFUSING to let me post photos. I will overcome this problem with Satan's laptop later, but DAMN, is it ever ANNOYING. I continue to lust after a laptop of my own; I'm not sure how much longer I can hold off, frankly.

It's wonderful to be home; as far as I'm concerned, half the joy of vacation is the being glad to be back. This despite the moldering Christmas decorations everywhere around here. So that will be priority one today: De-Xmasing. Right after I quit lollygagging on this here blog entry.

Satan and I, of course, immediately delved into the yummy pile of Netfix movies the postman faithfully delivered in our absence. Last night was quite a surprise, actually.

First up: Lady in the Water, (noise on the link) M. Night Shyamalan's highly anticipated, then largely dismissed, fable that actually began as a bedtime story he invented for his children. Rated at a paultry two stars at Netflix, both Satan and I were surprised to be utterly charmed by this film. I, especially, was skeptical having been utterly unimpressed with The Village after totally loving Signs, The Sixth Sense, and pretty much liking Unbreakable.

LITW is essentially a fairy tale set in an apartment complex in, of all places, Philadelphia, and centers on the resident apartment manager, Cleveland Heep, a stuttering loner played brilliantly by Paul Giamatti. The apartment building Cleveland manages is filled with a cast of characters of all races and creeds: behind each nondescript, identical door lies a different peculiar, colorful world specific to the inhabitant(s). The five-story building surrounds a courtyard on three sides inside which is the swimming pool that contains the infamous water. The other worldly lady in the water herself is played by Bryce Dallas Howard, daughter of Ron (Opie).

While the movie aspires to be on a level with the likes of Princess Bride, and doesn't make it that far, Night knows how to tell a story, and the film is at turns, funny, magical and moving. One simply cannot help but sympathize with Cleveland Heep. Is every plot point tied up in a perfect bow? No, but the story is well told enough to allow the viewer to suspend disbelief and the characters are likeable enough to make you want to. Best of all, the movie is appropriate for everyone (and may even be rated G). I recommend it for the young and the young at heart. Which is, hopefully, all of us.

And so we went from the sublime to the traumatizing. We then took in America: Freedom to Fascism. This shockumentary film, from Aaron Russo, producer of "The Rose" and "Trading Places", is riveting. According to Russo (and others), there is literally no law that requires Americans to pay income tax. Yah, read THAT sentence again. It is an idea so intriguing, to me at least, that it alone was worth my time.

But the movie doesn't stop there. I challenge you, if you watch no other movies this year, to watch this one (hit the link and watch the trailers, at least).

If I had it to do over again, though, I'd watch them in reverse order. After Russo's movie, I was desperately in need of a hopeful bedtime story.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

There's no place like home. For movies.

Ah...SO glad to be back home. We arrived after an uneventful but looong (11 hour) drive. Nose to the grindstone tomorrow.

But! Until then, I'm going to post a list of my favorite Netflix rentals of 2006. A lot of people know I watch a lot of movies, and often ask what they should see, so I'm going back through my queue and post a list of those that rated from four to five stars (out of five stars):

(Of course, mostly documentaries. Real life baby, it's the biggest trip of all).


Unconstitutional: The War on Our Civil Liberties, doc
Rize, doc
Mad Hot Ballroom, doc
Ben Franklin, doc
Mark Twain (Ken Burns Documentary, a 2-CD series)


Festival Express, doc
Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room, doc
Junebug, drama
Dead Like Me, TV series, seasons one thru three
Thumbsucker, drama


Hustle & Flow, drama


Good Night and Good Luck, drama
Walk the Line, drama
North Country, drama
Grey Gardens, doc


Nine Lives, drama


Amandla! A Revolution in Four Part Harmony, doc
Wallace & Grommit: Curse of the Were Rabbit, animated comedy
Transamerica, drama
Howard Zinn: You Can't Be Neutral on a Moving Train, doc
Country Boys, doc (2-disc series)


Thirteen Days, historical drama
Visions of Light, doc
Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill, doc
Harlan Country, USA, doc
Weeds, TV series, season one, a two-disc series
Walmart: The High Cost of Low Prices, doc


Project Runway, TV series, seasons one and two, multiple discs
Jarhead, drama
Curb Your Enthusiasm, TV series, specifically season five HILARIOUS
Liza with a "Z", concert from 1970's
Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills, doc
Paradise Lost 2: Revelations, doc (sequel to above, must see)


Stephane Grapelli: A Life in the Jazz Century, doc

Our Brand is Crisis, doc

Water, drama

Lost, TV Series, seasons one and two, multiple discs

The Future of Food, doc

Lewis & Clark: Journey of the Corps of Discovery, doc (two disc series)


Street Fight, doc (5-star)

Trudell, doc (5-star)

Sketches of Frank Gehry, doc
The Devil and Daniel Johnson, doc
Who Killed the Electric Car?, doc


Neil Young: Heart of Gold, doc
The Hobart Shakespeareans, doc
Terrorstorm: A History of Government Sponsored Terrorism, doc

And there you have it. If you watch any of them on my recommendation, please let me know what you think of them!

And now, I'm off to watch a movie (of course).

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

On the Waterfront: Farewell Vacation (And a short death rant)

A few shots taken at Tybee Island today. Tomorrow it's the road for us.

I was relieved to learn, upon returning to our hotel room, that they've finally buried poor Gerald Ford. Otherwise, you'd be reading quite a different post right now. Entitled something like:

Dear America, Please Bury Gerald Ford. He's Dead, You Know.

Because, seriously. Old Gerry has gotten out more in the past week than in his last ten years combined. They've dragged his poor dead body from one end of this country to another, have they not? I mean, yesterday? They TOOK HIM ON A TOUR OF WASHINGTON MONUMENTS. (HELLO? He's dead, I don't think he enjoyed that very much.) Which begs the question: Who is in charge of these funeral arrangements? P.T. Barnum? What's next? Tossing his corpse down the steps of Air Force One for old time's sake?

I can only imagine what this endless week has been like for poor Betty Ford. Girlfriend hasn't had a drink in ...what? Twenty years? Still, she's held firm and evidently REFUSED to kiss Gerry's flag draped coffin every day like old Piano Legs Reagan had to do.

On a similar note, did you even catch James Brown's funeral? It was an actual rock concert to which poor dead James had a front row seat. The casket was open, placed in front of the stage, and some of the performers actually CLUTCHED the lid to his coffin as they sang into his poor dead face.

It's a good thing I'm on vacation, or I'd be seriously upset about all this.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

The New Year: Day Two

We've reverted back to teenager-hood. Well, either that or we've finally chilled out entirely. Because we're now officially staying up all night and sleeping half the days away. This is how, left to my own devices, I would choose to conduct my schedule.

Satan's birthday extravaganza continued to January 1st (that ACTUAL day of his birth). We awoke extremely late and headed to the local Fresh Market to cherry pick festive delicacies for "breakfast": sushi (for me!), fresh fruit, havarti cheese, tiny cheesecakes, nuts. This bounty we enjoyed on our hotel balconey despite misting rain that went on pretty much all day.

Since cycling was out, we checked into Borders and in a fit of total sloth and decadence, stayed all day (until 8 p.m.) lollygagging and reading on the deep, comfortable couches, listening to the latest music releases, and drinking fancy coffee concoctions while reading in the coffee bar.

I read fully half of this memior during my stay. Not that it was the best book in the world or anything, but because the author, my age exactly, chronicles her torturous battle with quitting smoking which she finally accomplished by taking a week off work and actually having her husband chain her to a radiator all day. In the end, I really don't think she was a bigger junkie than me, but I've got to hand it to her: nice gimmick. Got her published, anyway. I wish my struggle with quitting had. God knows, it was sufficiently long and torturous enough even if it didn't involve a forty pound chain.

This morning we sought out a laundry-mat and washed up our clothes and then cycled some more around Savannah. It was cold today, by southern standards anyway, only about sixty degrees at most. My pashmina came in handy, as I was able to wind it several times around my neck as I rode and snapped pictures. The photo at the top of this post is of a scene that really sort of threw me for a loop the first time I saw it through the view finder--it was so familiar. Finally, it hit me, it is this same view that I used as a screen saver (one that came with the computer) for months on my work computer. Only that view was taken in the fall when the trees were all bright orange.

After a few hours of biking, we had a nice plain little lunch at a local diner then shopped our way through the part of downtown that we had missed on our last round. We found many, many things to our liking but not many fell within our budget.

I took this shot in a trendy Parsian themed shop. I think that's Amelie.

I've learned my ride isn't leaving these parts until the day after tomorrow. Which means, darn, a couple more days off work than anticipated.

We're planning a quiet night tonight, ordering in pizza and watching The Illusionist.