Ten More Movies: January 2014 to March 2014

So here's the last 10 movies I watched …

  1. Inside Llewyn Davis at the Little, January 29: Jenn and I got a chance to see this with her mom. Jenn was looking forward to the latest Coen Brothers' movie and I thought it looked good enough. It's another great film if you like live music. And if you are an artist or know artists—musicians particularly—you'll certainly recognize the duality of their lives: to others, they seem to be ego maniacal jerks, and within themselves, they suffer the (socially acceptable) indignity of having their creative vision treated like some kind of worthless communal property.
  2. Bettie Page Reveals All at the Dryden, January 31: Jenn and I saw this together as we were both interested in Page's life, but as a documentary, I found it lacking. Perhaps it was because, while I think Bettie Page is pretty and I think she's unique in being the canonical example of a pin-up girl, I don't think of her as some sort of magical being outside the realm of humanity. Unfortunately, the filmmakers were dazzled by her. So I guess if you're dazzled by Page, you might adore the film more. Anyway, both Jenn and I were fascinated by Page's central interview. I couldn't help but think there was something she was omitting. It wasn't until much later that I realized it was her: she never spoke of her own aspirations or motivations, only about what happened to her, as if she were simply a passive party to her own life. In some ways, that's the most interesting thing about her as a person, and something the documentary makers seem to have ignored.
  3. Is the Man Who Is Tall Happy? at the Dryden, February 11: Ted, Jenn, and I went to see this animated feature by Michel Gondry as he interviews Noam Chomsky. Although I admire Chomsky, I often find his densely intellectual sentences daunting. Gondry plays against this—plays the fool if you will—to great effect, slowing the flow of Chomsky's wisdom into digestible pieces.
  4. The Straight Story at the Dryden, February 20: Overall I enjoyed this (true) tale of a man who travels by riding lawnmower to visit his estranged brother. I'm not sure if it was solely perception, but I noticed David Lynch's cinematic affectations very much at the beginning of the film (e.g. slowly tracking to a window on the side of a house) but by the end, I didn't notice them at all (e.g. frighteningly aggressive-seeming vehicular traffic).
  5. Trouble Every Day at the Wexner Center for the Arts, Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio, February 22: Jenn, her friend Heather Wetzel, Ali, Ted, and I saw this on a group trip to Columbus. As I was watching, I was acutely aware of the feeling I was going insane. Jenn compared it to Possession which I found to be a similarly impenetrable film, somewhat about an abusive relationship. It's got the methodical, deliberate pacing of a French (or Italian—see La grande bellezza, below) film as it outlines a bizarre condition or illness that causes people to behave, ostensibly, like vampires.
  6. Jack Goes Boating at the Little, February 28: This was the only one of the films in the Little's Philip Seymour Hoffman Tribute series that I went to see, and lo, I had seen it before—when it was released, actually. Nonetheless, it was interesting to watch it one more time. It's the story of a couple middle-aged people mired in each of jeir own neuroses who try to date, mirrored against the seemingly "normal" relationship between Jack's friend John and Connie's friend Lucy.
  7. Her at the Cinema, March 1: Jenn and I went to see this together and since the double-feature totaled well over 4 hours, we opted to watch this as a matinée. In case you haven't heard the rough plot outline, it's about a writer who falls in love with his computer's new, artificially-intelligent operating system. There are so many ways this could have gone terribly badly—as a movie, I mean—but Spike Jonze managed to avoid all the many possible pitfalls in both his writing and directing. The operating system, named Samantha, is amiable and its relationship with Theodore is downright believable. Even the conclusion is as reasonably satisfying as can be expected.
  8. La grande bellezza (The Great Beauty) at the Cinema, March 4: I had been looking forward to seeing this since before I missed it at the Dryden. I've been trying to describe it for some time now. What seems most satisfying is that it is a methodical meditation on what it is to look back on one's life. It's about a man named Jep Gambardella who looks back on his life where he became the epicenter of nightlife in Rome. It's punctuated with numerous expansive, loving shots of the city.
  9. A Foreign Affair at the Dryden, March 13: Jenn and I headed out to see this together on faith that Billy Wilder would deliver an entertaining movie. While it was truly entertaining, it's more evocative as a time capsule, as it's one of the only films I know of that is shot in Berlin shortly after the end of World War II, and it deliberately uses the bombed-out backdrop and opportunistic American GIs to move the plot forward.
  10. Dead Man, March 14: Jenn and I had both seen this before—she's far better versed in the other works of Jim Jarmusch than I (and has introduced me to Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai and Broken Flowers, both of which I liked.) I wrote about this a while back and my comments still hold, but I'll add the film holds up well after repeated viewings. I think I made a stronger point to notice the respectful and un-romanticized view of Native Americans, and of the un-glorious view of killing and of life on the Western frontier.

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A Trip to Columbus

Jenn and I headed toward Columbus with her dog Maia on Friday morning. We first went to The Wayne & Geraldine Kuhn Fine Arts Gallery at the Marion Campus of Ohio State University to take pictures of Jenn's show Rec•ord, which has been on display since the beginning of the year. The gallery is small, and the satellite campus is not nearly as well attended as the main campus in Columbus, but the guestbook revealed quite a few visitors.

The show itself was of Jenn's ambrotype photograms of small objects. She uses a wet-plate collodion process to create the one-of-a-kind ambrotype positives on anodized aluminum. Her level of mastery of that technique is on par with a fairly small set of experts in the field. Her work speaks to the distortion of the photographic process as a way to reliably represent objects and people.

Afterward we went to Columbus to visit her friend Heather Wetzel. We walked near Heather's house and stopped by Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams (4247 N. High St., Columbus, OH). On this visit, I found it too busy and rushed to make a proper assessment, but the ice cream was indeed good. I didn't find it substantially better than Hedonist Artisan Ice Cream, though, and actually found the huge array of flavors to be more daunting than appealing.

On Saturday morning, Ted and Ali arrived to join us for the weekend. We headed to Whole World Natural Restaurant (3269 N. High St., Columbus, OH) for lunch. As vegan food goes, it's hit-and-miss, but I went with the safe bet of avocado on a croissant. Afterward we went to the excellent Pattycake Bakery (3009 N. High St., Columbus, OH) and had some great vegan treats.

Heather wanted to stop by the opening of a The Mirage and the Rainbow: 2014 Department of Art Master of Fine Arts Thesis Exhibition at OSU's Urban Arts Space (50 W. Town Street, Suite 130 in the Historic Lazarus Building, Columbus, Ohio 43215) so she could see some of her students' work. Overall it was a good show. Ali, Jenn, and Heather took part in this "Dr. Armbruster's Laboratories" "experiment" where they were measured then drew with a paint drip test. It was a lot of fun.

The "Armbruster" name was fictitious, but I had to look up the list of MFA candidates to remember the ones I wanted, and didn't discern who did that work. The complete list from the website included: Jacci Delaney (Glass), Jonathan Fitz (Ceramics), Leah Frankel (Sculpture), Andrew Frueh (Art and Technology), Keith Garubba (Printmaking), Nick George (Photography), Anne Keener (Painting & Drawing), Gun Young Kim (Ceramics), Amanda Kline (Photography), David Knox (Printmaking), Sage Lewis (Painting and Drawing), Peter Luckner (Art and Technology), Jessica Naples (Photography), Ashley Neukamm (Ceramics), Amy Ritter (Glass), Philip Spangler (Sculpture), and Jennifer Watson (Printmaking). Anyway, I also liked Gun Young Kim's distorted self-sculptures and I was drawn to Amy Ritter's cardboard cutout nudes (digitally manipulated to remove any sexuality).

From there, we went to the Wexner Center for the Arts where we saw Trouble Every Day (Claire Denis, 2002). (I added it to my mini-reviews for the last few months if you're curious.) For dinner we went to Dirty Franks (248 S. 4th St., Columbus, OH) which I thought was quite excellent. They specialize in hot dogs, so it seems natural to compare them to Dogtown, but in this case, I liked Dirty Franks better. In all fairness, the quality is about the same, but Dirty Franks has a few extra unusual toppings, and adding cream cheese to a vegan dog is just great (rendering it vegetarian, at best). The macaroni-and-cheese was considerably sub-par for my taste. (Along with the other meals we ate-out, it made me think Columbus had a preference for blander food.) Later we made another visit to Jeni's and I was more satisfied with my selections and the experience.

On Sunday we took a little detour and stopped at Delaware State Park (5202 U.S. Highway 23 N., Delaware, OH) to let Maia run around before stopping by the Kuhn Fine Arts Gallery to take down Jenn's show. From there, we headed back home.

We stopped in Erie for a bit. We tried to find Whole Foods Co-Op (1341 W. 26th St., Erie, PA) as they have something called "cashew cheese". However, we made a mistake somewhere along the way and found the co-op had just closed. So, quite hungry, we decided to go to Wegmans (6143 Peach St., Erie, PA). I get grumpy when I'm hungry and Erie is, as best I could tell, the most miserable place on Earth and I will never go back there. (Time may moderate that opinion.)

Upon leaving Erie, our collective plans, so Jenn and I in one car, and Ted and Ali in another headed toward home at our respective paces. We forgot to stop for gas in Erie as we had planned, and we started running low so we got off and stopped at the Flying J Travel Plaza (8484 Allegheny Rd., Pembroke). To our surprise, Ted and Ali were there too in the same predicament despite having last crossed paths somewhere around Buffalo.

We arrived home late that night, exhausted.

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