Right Here

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I’m beginning to see a theme in this neighborhood. Over a year ago, I took a “What” picture which I think is related to this one. The What was on the San Francisco Chronicle building, and this “Where” is in one of the parking lots they use out back. They’re within about 100 feet of each other. Now I’m wondering if there’s a Who, When and Why lurking about, too. Maybe I’ll find another one next year when I’m in the neighborhood again. I was actually in the neighborhood for the same reason last year and this year (nerd convention.)

Posted from San Francisco, California, United States.

The Drop

I think I might make it a regular practice to wait a few days before I review a movie. There have been a few movies I’ve seen recently that I thought ‘meh’ when I was in the theater watching them, but have grown to like more in the days after viewing it. The Drop is one of those, which I saw almost a week ago.

The Drop has a little notoriety for being James Gandolfini’s last film. You can’t go wrong with Gandolfini, he puts on an acting clinic in everything he does (did.) [True story, I saw Gandolifini in the cafeteria at Lucasfilm one time. He was by himself for some reason but was headed into a line to wait for his food like everyone else, even though he probably didn't need to.]

The real star of the film, though, is this pitbull puppy. He really held the whole plot together. I’m only half-joking. The short story the film was based on was called ‘Animal Rescue’ and the adorable pup figures prominently in the plot.

Also, Tom Hardy was in it. And Noomi (she really should just drop her last name, she doesn’t need it with a name like ‘Noomi’.) Tom gives his usual low-key, nuanced performance. But the more I think about it the better I like what he’s done here. His character is sort of a lackey on the surface, but at the end of it all you realize that he’s the smartest guy in the room (within the confines of the world that the story takes place in.) If I’m being overly vague it’s because there is a small twist at the end that I don’t want to ruin or allude to in any way. Suffice to say that Hardy’s character is more than what he seems, which is probably saying too much already, anyway.

The style of the film was somewhat noir-ish in that there isn’t a huge amount of dialog, crime is involved, there’s a lot of scenery and at least one character (the dog) is in black and white. Well, gray and white, but gray is kind of black and it fits the joke.

Anyway, The Drop is a small film with some great performances, a pretty good story line, at least one very interesting character, and the dog. Well worth your time.

Son of a B….

Well, this wasn’t the most awesome thing to see on my way home from work.CAM00101

Some stupid-ass taxi driver hit the truck and pushed it into my bike, then he took off. Lucky for me, I had good samaritan karma and someone left a note identifying the cab. So I’ve sic’ed my insurance company on them and am awaiting the diagnosis on the bike.

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So that’s about how far the taxi moved the truck, which is to say it must have been a pretty good smack.

UPDATE! Over $3000 in damage! Damn!

Frank

My God, where to start with Frank? This is a tough one to review. Major spoilers ahead.

Frank centers around a local keyboard player who is absorbed into an avant-garde band by sheer luck. Unbeknownst to him until his first gig starts, the band is fronted by a man named Frank, who wears a giant, fiberglass (papier-mâché?) helmet-like head, 24/7, like a sort of home-made college mascot costume with only the head.

Frank, the character, is the leader of the band, a philosopher, a writer, a musician, a person that despite his lack of a human face is able to communicate his thoughts and intentions better than anyone else in the group.

Frank, the movie, stats off being somewhat of a wry comedy, with Frank being silly but personable, the other characters in the band being extreme, and our keyboard player, whose eyes the story is told through, slowly trying to take over the band due to a desire to be… to be … I’m not sure, probably famous and recognized as a serious musician, but he’s accidentally got himself caught up in this Frank-led band that seems to have no direction, no philosophy, marginal talent but an undying dedication to, at the very least, the idea of Frank the character.

It’s all quite charming and funny for a while, but by the end Frank has suffered through several different stages of mental breakdown. The surprise to the audience, however, is that Frank has been severely mentally ill the whole time, we just didn’t notice. Which in some ways is what made the movie so ingenious.

During the final scene in the movie I wasn’t sure if I was supposed to be crying my eyes out because Frank had made a breakthrough, or if I was supposed to be crying my eyes out because I was witnessing Frank’s last failed, desperate attempt to reconnect to reality. Either way it was thoroughly depressing.

So how do you judge a movie like that? It was certainly a good movie, in an academic sense. The acting was great. Pacing, direction, etc. was spot on. There were emotional highs and lows, it made you think, especially given the recent suicide of Robin Williams. But in the end you leave the theater feeling like shit, so is that a thumbs … up?

I just shotgunned five episodes of The Simpsons, and I’m thinking of watching Vera Drake so I can cheer myself up a little bit before I go to bed. It’s hard to know whether or not to recommend it. I haven’t seen anything like Frank in quite some time (maybe ever), it was a challenging movie to sit through, so what’s there to say about a movie where I’m significantly less happy when I leave than when I came in?

The One I Love

Not that anyone reading this is going to go out and see this movie (if you could even find it) but it’s the kind of movie that’s hard to talk about in a spoiler-free way, which should already tell you something about it.

It starts out as a story of a couple that has become too comfortable with each other, but also might have some underlying tension, evidenced by their story starting out in the office of a couple’s therapist. He sends them to a private retreat where they can find themselves, in some ways using ‘find’ as a literal. But now I’ve said too much.

Since it involves the Duplass brothers you can bet some weird shit is going to happen. But it’s weird shit that somehow fits the story of a couple falling apart, and desperately trying to reconnect, in a way that a lot of conventional relationship movies can’t address.

Once the couple accepts what’s happening to them, the story deftly explores relationship questions about honesty, wants and needs, and whether or not it’s desirable to have secrets, how to ask for what you want even when you don’t know what that is, and how to figure out if your wife is a robot (just kidding, it’s not about robots.)

It’s been over a day since I saw the movie and at the time it didn’t really float my boat, I thought it was okay. But now that I’ve had a day to think about it I think I appreciate the quality of the writing more than I did yesterday. The story weaves several different elements together that needed to be coordinated just right to keep the movie afloat, and having given it more thought I’m impressed that they were able to pull it off.