I headed out to The Little (240 East Ave.) because I wanted to see either Melancholia or Take Shelter. A guy I know who works there suggested Melancholia since it would be shown less next week and probably close sooner than Take Shelter, so I did. It's directed by Lars von Trier and, although I'm kind of a film nut, a little research reveals this is probably the first film of his that I've actually seen.
Central to the story — at least in a way — is the newly discovered planet Melancholia which is introduced in a stylistic opening scene destroying the Earth. Then we rewind a while to find Justine about to be married to Michael which doesn't go all that well. In the second part, we focus on Justine's sister Claire and the fallout from the wedding disaster. Oh, and by now we're approaching the film's introduction — although none of the characters have any certainty whether Melancholia will hit the earth or not.
On the whole, the film drenches the audience in melancholy, qua depression. As someone who navigates those waters often enough, it was a familiar sight for sure. I'm reminded of a time when some friends and I decided to go to a "depression screening" at UofR. We each took a self-assessment then talked with some medical students who assessed our situation. Naturally we were all recommended for professional help (not surprising, as we're all artist/creative-types). My one friend told his student doctor something like, "I kind of like the bitter edge it gives life." I tend to agree: although things get pretty dark sometimes, it certainly gives me a different perspective on things.
Likewise for Justine who spends her last hours in a strange state of unhappy blissful confidence that indeed all things will end. It's a state that only the depressed truly know, and I guess it's kind of the pot-of-steel at the end of a desaturated rainbow.
So I found Melancholia to be peculiarly familiar. It was quickly apparent to me to just soak in it and let it soak in. And although I wasn't depressed at the time, I got a chance to see it from yet another angle.
I ran a few errands early and wanted to go out late, leaving a big window of time. I stopped by The Cinema Theatre (957 South Clinton Ave.) to see what was playing: The Big Year, and Real Steel. I had very low expectations about both films, but once in a while I like to make sure my off-the-cuff assessments agree with reality. I see a lot of intellectual movies, and seek out movies for cinephiles; I'll watch an otherwise boring movie if it has one exceptional element — great cinematography or something. But seldom do I go out for some mainstream popular film.
The Big Year stars Jack Black, Owen Wilson, and Steve Martin. Each are trying for a "big year" — quoting the Wikipedia article, "an informal competition among birders to see who can see or hear the largest number of species of birds within a single calendar year and within a specific geographical area." The movie gets off to a poor start in my book with Black as Brad, a nuclear power-plant computer operator who provides expository voiceover to explain the movie. then we're introduced to Wilson as Bostick, the "reigning champion", and finally Martin as Stu who is trying to retire as CEO of a big company.
After the formulaic character introductions are established, the movie gets rolling to various attractive locales with a modestly good songs to go with it. Naturally each has a love interest. Stu gets the most realistically loving wife in JoBeth Williams. Bostick is also married, his wife played by Rosamund Pike who he treats like crap but she's too dumb to be anything but loyal for the sake of the story. Brad finds a love interest in Ellie played by Rashida Jones. (I found her super cute and could easily develop a fanboy crush.) The film blunders along with the species-count challenge fueling its underpowered engine until it finishes with a tidy, heartwarming ending. The movie was sufficiently weak that I found a highlight in a brief few scenes with Jim Parsons who plays Sheldon on The Big Bang Theory.
In all it's not atrocious as films go. I think it could be saved for a film nut like me by skipping the first 25 minutes or so: skip all the character introductions and exposition and jump right into the contest. It quickly becomes clear who's who and what's what, and I think it would make a better movie to figure it all out along the way.
Next was Real Steel which had pretty cool and seamlessly-integrated special effects. The setting is a few decades in the future where remote-controlled boxing robots are all the rage. Hugh Jackman plays Charlie who likes to throw away money he doesn't have on junky fighting robots, only to have them thoroughly destroyed. He blankly reacts to the death of his ex-girlfriend as a vehicle to introduce his 11-year-old son Max (Dakota Goyo). A wealthy aunt and uncle are ready to adopt Max, but naturally Charlie gets to take him for a while and brings the kid into the world of robot boxing. It's a Disney kids movie so its plot is absent of surprises for adults as everything that is about to happen it tweeted half an hour in advance.
I find it surprising that people continue to flock to Disney movies like this. Charlie is a terrible guy, and a worse father. He's a drunk, introduced in his cargo truck stumbling over beer bottles (although for the sake of the kids movie he never acts drunk, drinks much, nor does anybody smoke). He steals money from a guy who is later tagged a "bad guy" for tracking him down and beating him a bit to get it back. He drags the kid through all kinds of life-threatening danger. He extorts the aunt and uncle for money by pretending to want to adopt Max in court. And he's abusive to his love-interest Bailey (Evangeline Lilly) — who naturally stays loyal (pay attention, girls, Disney is speaking to you!)
The best I can say about the movie is, "it's kind of cool looking". The computer graphics animation is always completely seamless, giving the illusion of these big robots being present. But that's pretty much it.
I'm trying to remember anything from Real Steel that made me want to care about the movie or any of the characters. The Big Year at least had a few sweet moments in it, and it's probably redeemable by skipping a bit. I may contemplate an alternative home-movie screening where I pick movies that may be salvageable in that manner — perhaps a shortened double-feature night … hmm …
The Dryden Theater at George Eastman House (900 East Ave.) will be showing Giant starting early at 7 p.m. in which Elizabeth Taylor plays a "Southern belle who marries a powerful Texas rancher (Rock Hudson) but falls in love with a brooding young ranch hand" played by James Dean in his final film role.
Dryden Theater calendar][all ages]
The Dryden Theater at George Eastman House (900 East Ave.) will be showing We're No Angels starting at 8 p.m. and again on Sunday at 5 p.m. According to the Eastman House calendar, "not every Christmas movie features a deus ex machina in the slithery shape of a poisonous viper, but this delightfully oddball comedy isn't typical holiday fare. After escaping from Devil's Island, prisoners Humphrey Bogart (reuniting with his Casablanca director Michael Curtiz), Peter Ustinov, Aldo Ray and, yes, a viper named Adolphe, hide out in a small village store run by Leo G. Carroll, Joan Bennett, and daughter Gloria Talbott. The jailbirds plan to rob the place before skipping town, but don't count on the Christmas spirit and their own better natures."
Dryden Theater calendar][all ages]
A rich tapestry of modern Americana from The Bogs Visionary Orchestra, Shannon Scallywag and the Vagabonds, and Bobby Maville (a.k.a. Bobby M'ville) will be at The Yards at the Public Market (280 N. Union St., #50-52, above Java Joe's) starting around 9 p.m.
The Dryden Theater at George Eastman House (900 East Ave.) will be showing The Autobiography of Nicolae Ceausescu starting at 8 p.m. According to the Eastman House calendar, "from 1967 to 1989, Ceausescu ruled Romania with an iron hand, devolving from a comparatively open Communist leader to a brutal dictator. From thousands of hours of archival footage, Andrei Ujic has compiled an enthralling found-footage film that presents Ceausescu's story as he may have seen it: not that of a murderous egomaniac, but of a beloved leader reminiscing about political triumphs, holiday vacations, and state-sponsored cult-of-personality pageants. The shadow of repression never leaves the frame, however, and the gap between the historical records on display and the horrible truths they conceal is fascinating and chilling in equal measure."
Dryden Theater calendar][all ages]
The Dryden Theater at George Eastman House (900 East Ave.) will be showing Christmas in July starting at 8 p.m. From the Eastman House calendar: "working stiff Dick Powell just wants to marry cherubic girlfriend Ellen Drew and give her a better home than the tenement roof. When his co-workers trick Powell into believing he's won $25,000 in a slogan contest, he earns a promotion and embarks on a shopping spree for the whole lousy neighborhood. This modest and impossibly sweet examination of capitalism as a vehicle for self-deception may be Sturges's best film."
Dryden Theater calendar][all ages]
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This page is Jason Olshefsky's list of things to do in Rochester, NY and the surrounding region (including nearby towns Irondequoit, Webster, Penfield, Pittsford, Victor, Henrietta, Gates, Chili, Greece, and Charlotte, and occasionally other places in Monroe County and the Western New York region.) It is updated every week with daily listings for entertainment, activities, performances, movies, music, bands, comedy, improv, poetry, storytelling, lectures, discussions, debates, theater, plays, and generally fun things to do.
Music events are usually original bands with occasional cover bands and DJ's with musical styles including punk, emo, ska, swing, rock, rock-and-roll, alternative, metal, jazz, blues, noise band, experimental music, folk, acoustic, and "world-beat."
Events listed take place during the day, in the evenings, or as part of the city's nightlife as listed.
Although I'm reluctant to admit it, it is a Rochester blog and I'm essentially blogging about Rochester events.
I also tend to express opinions, review past events, make reviews, speak of philosophy or of a philosophical nature, discuss humanity and creativity.
Oh, and it's spelled JayceLand with no space and a capital L, not Jayce Land, Jaycee Land, Jace Land, Jase Land, Joyce Land, Jayce World, Jayceeland, Jaceland, Jaseland, Joyceland, Jayceworld, Jayceeworld, Jaceworld, Jaseworld, nor Joyceworld. (Now if you misspell it in some search engine, you at least get a shot at finding it.)
It's also not to be confused with
Jake's World or JakesWorld which is a site of a Rochester animator.
While I'm on the topic of keywords for search engines, this update includes information for Thursday, December 15, 2011 (Thu, Dec 15, 2011, 12/15/2011, or 12/15/11) Friday, December 16, 2011 (Fri, Dec 16, 2011, 12/16/2011, or 12/16/11) Saturday, December 17, 2011 (Sat, Dec 17, 2011, 12/17/2011, or 12/17/11) Sunday, December 18, 2011 (Sun, Dec 18, 2011, 12/18/2011, or 12/18/11) Monday, December 19, 2011 (Mon, Dec 19, 2011, 12/19/2011, or 12/19/11) Tuesday, December 20, 2011 (Tue, Dec 20, 2011, 12/20/2011, or 12/20/11) and Wednesday, December 21, 2011 (Wed, Dec 21, 2011, 12/21/2011, or 12/21/11).
indicates an event that's a preferred pick of the day ... probably something worth checking out.
indicates a "guaranteed" best bet for the particular genre of the indicated event.
links to a band's page on GarageBand.com which offers reviews and information about bands.
links to a band's page on MySpace.com which is a friend-networking site that is popular with bands.