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A celebration of the bizarre, live from Los Angeles.

BEHOLD THE COUP: I just noticed on Karie Bible's great email service, Film Radar, that THE REVOLUTION WILL NOT BE TELEVISED is playing Saturday at the Egyptian, at 3:30 and 5.

This is a terrific, TERRIFIC documentary - I wrote about it HERE ( Go see it.

Yes people, it's been so long since I've blogged that I forgot the html tag for links! Fuck.
The fact that I'm blogging this should speak to how much I think it's worth seeing.

DOCUMENTING THE GAY SPIRIT: Another great doc now in theatres is MY ARCHITECT, about master architect Louis Kahn, by his illegitimate son (what a stupid, outdated term, but you get the point). A graceful consideration of ego, architecture, and the personal casualties left behind great men.

posted by Sara 9:18:00 AM
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From the department of 10 minute reviews...

Last night I saw The House of Sand and Fog, a textbook tragedy in that a good, honorable man's situation and human failings lead to his complete and total undoing. Ben Kingsley emerged so clearly as the protagonist - due both to his performance and the script - that it was almost tough to tolerate Jennifer Connely's character, who's a real fuck-up. Almost an antagonist--not the anti-hero that I think (?) was the script's intention. Connely herself gave a good performance, but her character simply had more agency than it deserved. Her most sympathetic moment was her brief, spot-on revelation: "My father worked 30 years to pay off this house and it took me 8 months to fuck it up."

It's a very good movie, with one major flaw that almost derails the entire effort. The villain in the story is a philandering cop who abuses his badge and goes from Daddy dearest to deranged criminal in a week's time. His part is crucial, plot-wise, to get us into the tragic third act -- and sadly he's the weakest character in the script. That was a big problem for me, because it made me feel like I could see the man behind the curtain--the writer--who's not telling a true story of human suffering, but is actually a sadist who'll do whatever he can to make sure his audience suffers through his grueling plot machinations. As soon as I felt those machinations, I pulled back.

But maybe it's odd to demand that your tragedies be realistic. The Greek tragedies are very telegraphic, and though they never made me weep, I think they were supposed to have that effect on the Greeks--that's "catharsis," right? But actually, I'd have to go back and read them, because it could be that while they're highly stylistic, from a human behavior point of view they're very precise.

And The House of Sand and Fog clearly worked as a tragedy for many in the audience. A woman two rows ahead was openly sobbing, leaning on her boyfriend's shoulder, her hair mussed and her shoulders shaking. I *was* in low-blood sugar mode, it should be pointed out, which does put a chill on my empathetic abilities - and still I did shed a tear or two. But I tend to be a wailer, and I wasn't anywhere near it.

It was also an invested crowd. The theatre was barely a mile from the L.A. neighborhood that has the largest concentration of expat Iranians in the United States--all people who fled from the Shah as did the story's protagonist.

The third act holds one of the most arresting sequences I've seen in a movie in the last year -- right up there with the Pipping singing/Feromere (sp?) sequence in the new LOTR.


posted by Sara 2:07:00 PM
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Mom, this is for you. :-)

Saturday, as research for the boss's movie, I got to go for a "hop" in a Stearman biplane, a cute little aerobatics craft with an open-air cockpit, fixed landing gear, dragging tail, and one giant propeller in the front. The Steerman was the primary training plane for WWII aviators.

In preparation, I had donned a scarf, so that when they put the leather cap with the radio on my head, I would be like Snoopy, WWII flying ace! But alas, when Margi, wing walker and co-owner of the biplane, strapped me in, she said it could choke me and made me take it off. Poop.

Notice how I casually threw in that Margi walks wings. You may have thought I was embellishing. I am not. Margi straps herself to the wing and does trapeze artistry and ballet style moves--while the aircraft is in the sky. She demonstrated for me on the ground, wearing grey, calf-high cowboy boots and a red striped sweatshirt. She's got a much more glam getup for her actual performances. She says the act of wing walking is pure living; everything else is just going through the motions. Needless to say, most of us enjoy the motions enough to keep our seatbelts on.

So yes, here I was, seatbelted securely into this aerobatics biplane, a cool wind on my face on a sunny day in Camarillo. But did I really want to be so attached? I looked to my left and my right. Duct tape was wrapped around the crosshatches connecting the upper and lower wings. Its purpose was unclear, but it was nevertheless far from reassuring to this Flying Ace. Fortunately, I had a parachute strapped to my rear end, and had been shown the triangular pull tab for deployment. Less fortunately, I realized as we sputtered down the runway, I had not been shown how to unbuckle myself from the seatbelt.

Ah well. No matter. Hartley, my pilot, had assured me that in 50 years of flights he had never bailed. Anyway, Hartley had a rip in his brown leather flight jacket where the left arm connected to the bodice that I found reassuring. He was no fly-by pretty boy, not in the least. He had hundreds of thousands of miles under his belt and a wife who walked on wings. Good enough for me.

After what seemed a very short zip down the runway, we were off. I almost wish I could tell you that it was such high-speed terror that my heart stopped beating and vomit, formerly a turkey sandwich on wheat, trickled down the shiny red side of the plane. But no. As we left the ground, my fear evaporated. Flying in one of these things is a graceful crawl through the air. The landscape rolls by underneath, and the ground doesn't seem so, so far. The horizon is all askew, this way and then that, but it's just the way things are.

And what beautiful landscape. The sky was a stand-up November blue, the clearest it ever gets since it had rained the night before. Puffy white clouds a la the Simpsons butted up against snow-capped blue-brown mountains to the North. Beneath us were the strawberry fields of Camarillo and a few lazy lines of winding traffic. To the west, the ocean was a deep Pacific blue. Normally, when I fly to the coast in a 747 and look down at the water, the phrase "a watery grave" resonates in my noggin. Today I instead saw a marvelous home for whales and other happy marine life of the sort one sees drawn in crayon in coloring books.

As testimony to the beauty of it all, I didn't even feel the least bit of vulgar consumerist stirrings when I noticed the outlet mall I had driven by on the way to the airstrip. No, not even a flutter.

My nostrils were cold, my cheeks were ruddy, and I'm pretty sure I had gotten more than my standard dose of oxygen when Hartley's voice came through the mike:

"OK, your turn to fly."

I froze. Here, now, was the terror.

"Push left on the joystick and at the same time slight left on the rudder peddle. Only, watch your toes, because at the top of the peddle are the brakes and you DON'T want to brake because this is a very bottom-heavy aircraft."

My fear, rather than paralyzing me like it does in nightmares, turned me into an automaton. I followed orders. I banked right, pushing ever so slightly on the rudder. I banked left. The plane actually seemed to obey me. This was even more petrifying. Was that acid after all I now tasted in my throat?

I took my right hand off the joystick to flick the switch to tell Hartley calmly to resume the controls, please. It might have come out, Please, God, take back the controls, now, fucking now, now, now!! However, I'll never know, because when I flicked the switch, all I heard was dead air.

The radio was out!

After a long moment there was a crackle and then came Hartley's voice. A relief--or did I detect a rigid note of fear?

"I have to take back the controls, now."

That was followed by a loud shriek on the radio and some more dead air. Suddenly the noise from the engine (or was it the propellers?) grew louder. Was this normal? Hartley? Hartley?! I peered at him in the round mirror above and to the left of my head, but I couldn't read him. He looked concerned, I'll say, but the sun was in his eyes and his face was permanently craggy with worry.

Since I'm writing this dispatch you have probably surmised that we did not die, burrowed into the wet agricultural earth or in a fireball on the tarmac beside the Commemorative Airforce Hanger. In fact, I didn't even have to deploy my parachute. We had merely lost radio contact with the tower, so Hartley brought us in. However, upon landing we found out that the starter, which gets the propeller going, had gotten stuck in place and burned itself out. As Hartley said, "Your maiden voyage and you broke the plane!" Good-natured Margi assured me he was joking. Still, I felt bad. My initial anxiety had no doubt caused the short. Electronics, the world's only legitimate empaths, sense these things.

Electrical short aside, what an awesome experience. Thanks to Hartley, Margi, Mike, and the boss for getting me up there.

posted by Sara 12:31:00 AM
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I guess I could write something about the recall here. Nah.


Well, here's what I'm listening to lately. And reading. And watching.

Beck's Sea Change, esp. track 9. Well, all of them. Over and over.

Battle Royale. Government-enforced Survivor with Japanese highschool kids and Uzis. Terrific. Really.

Finding Nemo. Saving Nemo? Whatever. Probably the first and last time I'll ever be an Ellen fan.

2 Weeks Notice. Yes, really. Cute, actually. A throwback to Bringing Up Baby - also saw recently - without as good talent in the leads. Alas. If they had picked up the pace, really hit that clippy snappy tap routine that Hepburn and Grant do with dialogue, it might have gone somewhere.

Vanity Fair. The book, not the glossy. Though I did read that article about JFK Jr. and his wife and her coke problem. What utter trash.

Half Magic. A lesser children's fantasy story.

Stepford Wives. Consciousness raising, baby. I prefer Rosemary's Baby.

A TV show about conjoined twins being separated, followed by a televised breast reduction surgery. Also some MTV show about a model with a pink poodle. This is what happens when you get cable for the first time in life, I suppose.

Tart. A slightly more soap-operatic Metropolitan. Not half bad.

Cocteau's Sleeping Beauty. Burns the images into your mind. Must be the black and white.

Justin, track 6. Shoot me now.

Profoundly Disturbing: Movies that Changed History. Joe Bob Briggs (relatively) new book. The art dept. did a really nice job on it; great photos. And of course, fun insightful essays.

Meow-meow. Cool tunes.

That's enough for now. I'm so scattered these days, I don't know how to blog anymore. Must focus. Oh, I know, something worthwhile: Happy 26th to Nakrack, aka Havendish, aka Nathan! Have a good one!

posted by Sara 11:35:00 PM
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Well, posting obviously hasn't been happening lately. It's in part because I'm super busy... many of you probably already know next week is my last at Reason, the happy place that's been my professional home for 3 years. I've been crazy busy trying to wrap things up -- and meanwhile have been doing stuff for my new job as a writing assistant.

In conjunction with that, I'll be spending most of the summer in Martha's Vineyard. I've got a number of personal writing projects waiting for attention, so it's hard to say whether or not I'll be posting. Perhaps I'll just let things go dark. Maybe you can email me if you want to be alerted if I start things up again?

If I do, I will attempt to blog something more interesting than the lame things I've been slapping up here recently. It's like a really bad diary, with all the juicy stuff cut out!!!

posted by Sara 4:11:00 PM
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When I was younger, vampires ruled my anxiety dreams. Every loved one had become a pale and despised creature of the night, and I'd have to stake them through the heart--always a bloody mess--or become one.

Now I just dream that all my teeth fall out. This is either progress, or another sign of the long road into humdrum adulthood and all of its mundane paranoias.

The toothless dreams are almost worth having, though, for the moment when you half wake up and run your tongue over your teeth and find not even one that wiggles.

That's relief.

posted by Sara 11:02:00 PM
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THAT's ENTERTAINMENT: Ebert on the Brown Bunny.

posted by Sara 1:01:00 PM
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Today's a bit of a crazy day, and unfortunately I left at home the blog post I wrote this weekend, reviews of some film shorts by students from my alma mater, UT-Austin. The screening at the DG on Thurs made me proud. Also saw a great band Sunday, my friend Paul's The Boxing Lesson. One to watch.

I'm so lucky to know so many talented people. Keeps me from staring at the wall too long.

posted by Sara 11:37:00 AM
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