Saturday, March 27, 2010


Winston-Salem's art house theatre a/perture beckons yet again, this time for the Atom Egoyan film Chloe.

Gorgeous Julianne Moore frets over her hunch that husband Liam Neeson is having affairs. What better way to get the scoop yourself than to hire a hooker to bait him and report back to you, right? This is the premise of the far-fetched film Chloe, a remake of a 2003 French film entitled Nathalie.

Distrust sends one into previously uncharted depths. To what lengths would you go to get the truth? As a wife longing for just a loving touch, how easy is it to go from using a hooker as an information gatherer to getting physically turned on by the specific details of the encounters?

With the news you receive, consider the source. Can anyone be trusted?


Friday, March 26, 2010

Alice in Wonderland in 3-D

Honestly, on a day off, there's an absolute way I enjoy unwinding and detaching myself from reality: an afternoon in a darkened theater with some sort of film on the big screen taking me away to other worlds, other times, other realms. My most recent day off found just such a scenario. A 12:00 viewing of Tim Burton's version of Alice in Wonderland in 3-D.

Tim Burton + Johnny Depp? Is there nothing wrong these two collaborators can do? Granted, the story in this updated film of Alice going BACK to Wonderland 13 years after her first trip (and I do mean "trip") is a touch lacking. But the dark visuals of a Tim Burton film plus the iconic and trippy acting of Johnny Depp trump the weak story. Visually mesmerizing, especially in 3-D, but a rather dull story.

Trippy and engaging if you just check your brain at the door and drink in all of Depp's scenes and let the screen do the thinking for you. Groovy man.

(And it didn't hurt that Alice was hot.)


Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The White Ribbon

Hit up a/perture for another arty film. Tonight? The German film The White Ribbon. Black and white, subtitled, and a 2 & 1/2 hour mindfuck.

Eerie. Observe:

"I gave God a chance to kill me. And he didn't. So he must be pleased with me."


Pre-World War I Germany. A country hamlet is "ruled" by the triumvirate of the estate baron, the preacher, and the doctor. Each rules with unbending and vicious control. Strange accidents occur: a wire is stretched between two trees felling the doctor from his horse, the farmer's wife falls through rotten floorboards at the sawmill, a local child is found bound and beaten, a disabled child is found nearly blinded. Who's the culprit? This tight-knit village is rocked with tragedy, but no one knows anything....

The preacher's children are punished for their particular insolence by a "purifying" beating with a cane and then the public disgrace of wearing the symbol of purity: a white ribbon, a la the scarlet letter or more appropriately in this scenario a yellow Star of David.

The local schoolteacher reminisces and narrates the tale as he recalls. He was determined to find out which of the hellish children committed these heinous acts...until the powers-that-be squash his inquiry with threats of arrest.

A mystery that does not reveal the criminal(s). You are left hanging. The news of Archduke Ferdinand's assassination occurs, and the movie just.....ends.

An artsy whodunit that frankly left me not caring. Too long and tedious to not get anywhere. Filmed artistically and framed well, but I just started to daydream and waver mid-film.

Matinee minus.

Crazy Heart

OK, I'll admit that generally the musical genre does NOTHING for me. But being a rabid Oscars fan, I was intrigued by the Best Actor nod to Jeff Bridges. So as a lemming, I hit the theater last week (yes, I'm behind on blogging) to see what all the fuss was about. Outstanding.

"Funny how falling feels like flying for a little while."

Old country singer Bad Blake is down on his luck playing bowling alleys and general low-scale venues. His headlining days are behind him. His protege has taken the "new country" fans by storm. Whiskey and cigarettes and cheap motels and his 1978 Suburban "Bessie" define his existence. Single mom Maggie Gyllenhaal is a reporter named Jean who covers him for a small newspaper and becomes smitten; never mind she's young enough to be his daughter, or possible GRANDdaughter. Bad Blake's on a relentless course towards destruction via booze. Can Jean save him? Should she? Can anybody? Can music?

Really a treat and a deserved win for Bridges. WOW.

Is there even a doubt? Full Price.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Jonathan Coulton

John Hodgman + They Might Be Giants / Weird Al Yankovic.

Work out this equation and you get Jonathan Coulton. Witty lyrics, but not clownish. Thoughtful subjects, and not obnoxious. He had a good line at last Friday's performance at the Birchmere in Alexandria, VA: a young man in his early teen years in the 80s reading Omni magazine. Songs about moving to suburbia and owning a Shopvac; a love song between Pluto and its moon; mad scientist love and the stretch one takes to make a gift for his love: a half-monkey, half-pony monster. All done with dry wit and humor and touching sentimentality.

It was quite possibly the most entertaining evening I've had at a musical performance in a long, long time.

Here are some videos from my seat at the performance. I hope you enjoy. JoCo rocks!!!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Eric Clapton...with a surprise ROGER DALTREY

OK, so on a whim over this past weekend, I realize Eric Clapton will be in concert Monday night in Raleigh. Had no clue. And it so happens I worked 8-4 Monday. Out of the blue, I decide to trek on over to the RBC Center in Raleigh to see a blues guitar GOD. (As a non-religious man, I drop the term "god" discriminately.)

So I leave at 5:00 so I can sit in Triangle rush hour traffic for quite some time, then arrive in my seat by 6:40. At 7:30, the opening band is making its way to the stage. I have absolutely no idea who it could be, and stare in amazement as the singer's identity is made clear...

ROGER FUCKING DALTREY. The lead singer of my ALL-TIME favorite band, The Who.

I frantically wave my arms and soil my trousers repeatedly. OMG!OMG!OMG!OMG!


Monday, March 8, 2010

Newest addition to my DVD library

Best Picture. It won. The Hurt Locker. Stunning film. Commented on these very pages in August 2009: And now, in accordance with my collection addiction, it joins all the other Best Picture winners on the shelf.

Congratulations Ms. Bigelow on recognition of your very powerful film.

It's here. It's really here.

Greensboro, NC. Harris Teeter grocery store. Friendly Center shopping center. Saturday, March 6, 2010. My vision blurs due to tears of joy.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Esperanza Spalding

Friday night I traveled over to Raleigh on the campus of NC State to see a gorgeous and up-and-coming bassist: Esperanza Spalding. Esperaza, a pianist, guitarist, and drummer entertained for two hours. Jazz, both classic and modern, filled the air. Soulful ballads, upbeat numbers, offbeat acid beats; Esperanza manages to command her bass with virtuosity.

Really an exciting and mesmerizing performance. Here's a video I took on the iPhone:

Around the World in 80 Days

Thursday, Triad Stage night! Another evening using the season pass. People tire of hearing me blather on and on, but I will continue to scream it from the rooftops: I HEART TRIAD STAGE!!!!!

An amusing romp following Philleas Fogg in 1872 and his wager to travel from London around the world via steamer and train. A witty and comedic production, with various pitfalls befalling Mr. Fogg along the way. A table from the set doubles (quadruples?) as boat, elephant, train, etc. The actors really appeared to have a whale of a time stimulating your imagination by pretending to be speeding (in 1872 terms) across the world.

Quite fun. As usual.

Proper Oktoberfest

This past Thursday was another brew day. This time, it's an adventure into brewing days of yore. A proper Märzen was the recipe and the procedure: brewed in March and ready to go in September.

Brief synopsis. Before the days of refrigeration, brewers were forbidden to brew during the warm summer months. The final product was subpar and frankly rancid due to the heat. So in March, before the weather turned, a large batch was brewed and stored (lagered) in cool caves over the summer. In the fall when the mercury drops, these barrels were brought out in a massive autumnal celebration. So, my beer was brewed in March and will lager in my fridge until September. My second lager beer, so we'll see how it goes.

In a strange twist, one of my college buddies from ol' Founders Hall at ONU was traveling from Charlotte to Virginia on business, so he stopped off in Greensboro for brewday and then dinner at Natty Greene's. So I have ZERO photos from brewday since we bullshitted and caught up during the afternoon. But I have two: one from Natty's and one afterward with the start of the lagering.

The recipe:

1 lb. Weyermann Caramunich II malt

2 lbs. Pilsen Dry Malt Extract (DME)
6 lbs. Amber Liquid Malt Extract (LME)

1 oz. German Hallertau hops, 3.7% alpha acid @ 60 minutes

Saflager W-34/70 dry lager yeast

Great seeing Kurt after 15 years! And with a possible move much closer to Greensboro, the hilarity may ensue in earnest....

Thursday, March 4, 2010

2 days, 3 movies

I'm super behind on posting here (shocking). But suffice to say I spent a good chunk of time at a/perture cinema recently. My upcoming schedule is brutal with regard to free time spent blogging (in a fit of irony I'll try to blog about what I've done) so here's just a quick re-hash fo what I saw:

First, the North Carolina-filmed Wesley

The YouTube trailer is quite grainy and frankly not blogworthy, so here's a much clearer trailer from the film studio website:


The 2nd film was The Last Station.


Lastly, was A Single Man.