Watching Hinkley, The Corrections, and Burning Daylight at the Bug Jar

I walked through the blowing snow (because, believe it or not, it beats dusting, scraping, and shivering in the car several times) to The Bug JarMySpace link (219 Monroe Ave.) to catch the show. When I got there, from HinkleyMySpace link was already playing. If you read other critics, or talk to local rock band members around town, you've likely experienced the universally glowing reviews of Hinkley. In my mind, they're one of a few bands that I have weak memories of strongly enjoying, but when I'm actually at a show, I find their musical intelligence to be overwhelming and I kick myself for not going to every Hinkley show. Perhaps it was the [literal] cold weather, but I thought they sounded [metaphorically] extra warm. I describe their sound as deceptively mellow, complex rock-and-roll. I find there isn't much more point than saying, "I think they're worth seeing for this reason", and avoid the "sounds-like-these-three-bands" cliché [and remember, kids, the trendy way to pronounce is "clitch" as "clee-SHAY" is totally cliché].

Next up was the new-to-me band The CorrectionsMySpace link. I threw the word "warm" in the adjectives in my notes, down from "extra warm" for Hinkley, so I guess it was all about average kinetic energy after all. I also described them as bouncy, alt-country rock. I'm easily swayed, and visiting their website, I decided to add "acoustic pop-rock" as well. Any of those descriptions will do. Their musicmanship was also top-notch — and their lead singer was a charismatic smiler, sending a message of welcoming familiarity to the audience. Their musical style led me to compare them to early Barenaked Ladies, 1980's Elvis Costello, and a bit of Tears for Fears, even though cliché dictates the last band be obscure. Alas, I may have tainted you alls opinions, but I believe in your ability to ignore me.

Finishing up was Burning DaylightGarageBand linkMySpace link and I was getting tired and still had an hour of walking ahead of me, so I left after just a few songs. I can't help but give them lukewarm monikers like "solid acoustic-driven bar-rock" because I just don't hear the complexity. It's good, accessible, and it rocks, but I'm seldom surprised. Like Hinkley, I have weak memories of enjoying them. However, in this case, it's indistinguishable from strong memories of somewhat enjoying them. Lots of people love them, so don't take my word for it, and don't sweat it that I'm not a big fan.

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Not Quite Dead Yet

I was walking back home from Ali's and I saw a car stopped in South Avenue in front of Al Sigl Center (1000 Elmwood Ave.). The driver was tooting his horn and yelling to someone. I thought he was being nutty, but once he drove through the parking lot to the bus stop, the headlights of the car revealed a figure slumped over inside.

He and I tried to rouse the person (it looked like a man, but appeared to have a purse, so I didn't know) but they didn't wake up, although still clearly breathing. Neither of us were sure what to do so we left. The driver of the car mentioned the smell of alcohol and commented something to the extent that drunks are on their own, apparently clearing his conscience … or just assuaging his guilt.

I decided to call 911 and they said they'd send someone. I felt bad, on the one hand, because I knew the care this person would receive would likely not be adequate to set them on a path to a healthy life. Then again, I really know nothing about the situation. They could have been like me some particular Saturday night, stumbling into a bus stop to "rest" after carrying a curbside string trimmer that held some valuable parts — only to pass out stone drunk as I have been known to do. They could have fit my stereotype of a homeless person — someone who is probably mentally challenged (or at best ill equipped to scratch out modest success in this modern world) and this was the best they could do for the night. They could have chosen that life and actually been prepared for the conditions — after all, they were bundled in what appeared to be no fewer than 3 layers of clothes, and seemed possibly adequately warm to survive.

So I don't know whether I even should have interfered. In my defense, I was unable to get any response, much less a satisfactory one — even if it was just to leave them alone. I don't much care for disrupting someone else's freedom to live as they choose, but I also feel that once in a position where you can't respond, you leave yourself vulnerable to such disruptions.

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Seeing the Headless Woman at the Dryden

I headed out to the Dryden Theater at George Eastman House (900 East Ave.) to see La mujer sin cabeza (The Headless Woman). I had carefully read the calendar summary and noted some dangerous phrases: "intriguing and surreal", "whose perfect life may be a dream", "droll, enigmatic fable about bourgeois discombobulation". What I mean is that I was braced for an inaccessible art film — one that I'd have to endure … or worse (and under rare circumstances) leave early.

I talked with Antonella Bonfanti beforehand and was reassured that the movie was interesting. In her introduction to the film, she pointed out that the film requires attention. By creating the scenario of a mystery — wherein the titular woman never knows whether she killed a child in a dramatic accident in her car — I found myself compelled to pay attention. I was constantly looking for clues, and in the process, noted the subtleties of the story. The film calls attention to Argentina's growing rift between rich and poor, forming a de facto caste system. It gets a bit blunt with things, as the lower class is frequently paired with the sound of dogs (although I can't recall many images of dogs), but overall it's an excellent movie.

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Watching Liverpool at the Dryden

I went to the Dryden Theater at George Eastman House (900 East Ave.) to see Liverpool and I was very impressed. Jim Healy introduced the film, emphasizing the lack of a complicated story but the beauty of light and humanity. I found the film to be at "human speed" rather than in "movie time". Most movies do away with unnecessary action: for instance, consider all the actions one takes when going from stopping a car in a driveway to sitting in the couch inside — in "movie time", it's done by showing the car stop, an shot of the exterior of the house with the car in the driveway, then the occupant is shown entering from the interior of the house. The ordinary actions of undoing a seatbelt, unlocking a door, or even buttoning up one's coat usually contribute only to making a film unnecessarily long. But at "human speed", we do these things whether we're conscious of it or not.

Liverpool celebrates human speed. At least far more-so than is typical — we are spared the 5 hour journey into port on a freighter, although the existence of that time is not ignored. The story, as Jim said, is remarkably simple: a man on a freighter visits his home, is not well liked, has been forgotten by his mother, and is really only acknowledged by his daughter. Then he leaves. That's the whole movie. But it's in the little moments that make it work. There's little dialog, but so much is offered in its place for the viewer to make their own story.

I had walked to the theater from Ali's house — about 30 minutes or so. I didn't contemplate the trip there, but on the way back, I was aware. I forgot how to understand lateness and hurry: I knew that I was at the right speed.

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Black Dynamite at the Dryden

Christina and I went to the Dryden Theater at George Eastman House (900 East Ave.) to see Black Dynamite. Although I feel like I've seen some "blaxploitation" films in the past, in retrospect, I guess I've only really seen Shaft. Well, maybe a few others.

Anyway, Black Dynamite does a virtually perfect job of honoring that genre (as best as I can tell, anyway). The movie is hilarious (I'm much more certain about that). Every time I recognized when they were setting up a stereotypical blaxploitation moment, I was braced for a mediocre punch-line. But every time, I was impressed that the filmmakers went in a direction I didn't expect — and every time, one that was funnier than I could have expected. I'll definitely keep an eye out for it to see it one more time.

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