Archives for the month of: February, 2014

We came down the monument of Shumen, still giddy from the impression of standing in the artistic presence of Bulgaria’s past but we had to hurry. The city choked in fog and chill, and thriller movie-esque night was descending.  We went to our next destination, Veliko Tarnovo – the capital of the second Bulgarian Empire and the “city of tsars”.

We barely arrived in our hostel, having gotten lost in the winding streets of the ancient city, when the reception guy herded us back out to a main plaza.  In the fog and moonlight we could see across the Yantra River, high up on the Tsarevets hill the old imperial fortress and castle. Other international and national tourist and locals milled about when the lights of local businesses and the surrounding hills cut out.  Embalmed in darkness, silence and anticipation spread when the show began.

The next day, I explored on my own and visited the Patriarchal Cathedral of the Holy Ascension of God.  According to wiki, it was the seat of Bulgarian Orthodox church during the 11th and 13th centuries until it was destroyed in 1393 by conquering Ottoman Turks.  Reconstructed in the 1970’s and 80’s it features one of the most amazing frescoes I have ever seen.

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Winding Down
“Now… there are two kinds of movies: those
with an ending, and those that don’t have an ending.
This movie needs an ending.”
Enzo, CQ (2001)

That afternoon we found ourselves back on the misty mountain roads heading towards Sofia, the culmination of our trip where Joe and I would bring in the new year in a freezing square with hundreds of delighted strangers, clutching hot greyano vino (mulled wine) and counting down the final seconds of 2013.

For the past few months since my trip back to the US I was feeling a little lost.  I had thought about extending my Peace Corps service for a third year, but recent events had left me exhausted and weary and I was ready for a change but every option looked the same with the same flat gray of the misty landscape we had only recently escaped.

3 min and 28 seconds away.  Joe and I, exhausted of conversation are entertained to look at those around us who gather tighter in the final minutes. I remember advice from multiple sources and conversations I’ve had about finding your personal passions and making the most of them.  2 min 50 seconds.  I think  that at the end of the day the thing that really gets me excited is film and storytelling and that I am known among my friends as a walking film database. 1 min 13 seconds. I think this is crazy to suddenly change directions in my life to pursue something so different from anything I’ve trained for. 56 seconds. I think I need to not be afraid and to embrace love and a new beginning …because death is coming. 5, 4, 3, 2, 1.  It’s 2014. Joe and I congratulate each other on being alive as fireworks burst and circle dancing begins.  We start heading back to the hostel hours later, turned around by yet another new city and a few glasses of mulled wine.  It matters not.  I may not know where I’m going but at least I have a direction.

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I watch way too many movies and sometimes get asked for recommendations. Here’s what I’ve seen in February (thus far).

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty 

Walter Mitty (Ben Stiller) has a crush he can’t talk to, a new boss he can’t stand, and a life he can’t seem to change.  A compulsive day-dreamer he’s finally called to action when negative 25, the cover shot for the final print of Life Magazine, goes missing and he has to track down friend and idol, professional adventure photographer, Sean O’Connell (Sean Penn). So many things I like about this movie.  Mitty’s day-dreams are incredibly visceral and bizarre but then, so becomes his reality.  Trailer says it all and Ben Stiller’s return to directing is pretty great.

August: Osage County

A plains family melodrama depicts a family falling apart…and it is stunning. The drama kicks off shortly after the suicide of patriarch Beverly Weston (Sam Shepherd) and at the eye of the twister is surviving wife and drug addict Violet Weston (Meryl Streep) and their three daughters.  It’s a beautiful film for a sadist and what I like most about the story is that there is no satisfaction for anyone.  In the hellish heat of the house, family gathers and the tumult begins as truths are spoken and secrets revealed and characters run away to save themselves.  Based on the play by Tracy Letts, who also adapted the screenplay, the following is a section of one of my favorite bits in the third Act.

“BARBARA/BEN. She smuggled Darvocet into the psych ward … in her vagina. There’s your  ‘Greatest Generation’ for you. She made this speech to us while she was clenching a bottle of pills in her cooch, for God’s sake.
IVY/IKE. God, I’ve never heard that story. Did you just say “cooch”?
BARBARA/BEN. The phrase “Mom’s pussy” seems a bit gauche.”

This trailer cut is a bit of misleading horseshit, but here it is.

Short Term 12

It is amazing and the perfect thing to watch after August: Osage County.  The former watches a family fall apart and into ruin, Short Term 12 brings us back from that ruin and depicts how young people who grew up in desperate situations can rebuild their lives, come to peace with the past and move forward.  Beautifully led by Brie Larson as Grace, with so many other great performances.  Here’s a clip. Marcus is turning 18 and is about to “graduate” from the facility.  He’s having a hard time.

Thor: The Dark World

Really it’s just an excuse to watch Tom Hiddleston, who I’m really excited to see in Jim Jarmusch’s film, Only Lovers Left Alivewhich premiered at Cannes last summer and will finally have its USA release April 11, 2014.   It lacks the gravitas and Shakespearean overtones of the first film, but still a good plot and of course fantastic action flick from Marvel. And Benicio del Toro shines in his bit role as “the Collector”, but what is with that hairdo?

the-collector

Hunger Games: Catching Fire

I have nothing to say about this film.  It was enjoyable cinematic candy and I always love seeing Amanda Plummer in any role she can get.

The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug

I laid low the warriors of old
and their like is not in the world today.”
-Smaug

I watched it for the dragon (Benedict Cumberbatch) and Thranduil (Lee Pace).  One of these did not disappoint the other however is blameless.