Saturday, February 23, 2008

The Kids Are All Right

Breaking news: P.K. called this morning to tell me that he and Steve won last night's Seattle University Battle of the Bands. They went with the basic White Stripes lineup of Steve on guitar and PK on drums. They played three original songs. He reports that the competition was tough this year, and they feel pretty good about winning. The performance was filmed, so stay tuned for a link!

Last night, Nelson and Reilly joined us for dinner. We had a great time together. It's nice chatting with Nelson while T. and Reilly cook. And, man, can they cook! Don't miss Premium T.'s recipe for blueberry pound cake.

Yesterday, I wrote that Steve Erickson's Zeroville was my favorite novel of last year. Actually, it was my second favorite. If you haven't read Fortunate Son, Walter Mosley's inspiring parable about race and family, don't miss it. It's a beautiful book with unforgettable characters: Lucky's persistent faith in his people and his brother despite all odds is one of the most moving depictions of the possibilities of humanity that I've ever read.

Last year was an especially dismal year for movies. Tomorrow night at the Academy Awards, one of five films will win the dubious honor of Best Picture of 2007. For what it's worth, here are my evaluations:

Atonement: Strong performances from Keira Knightley and James McAvoy buoy a film that struggles under the weight of its themes. My complete review here.

Juno: Enjoyable and funny throughout, with a three-point landing to boot. Ellen Page shines as the pregnant, skeptical 16-year old. But it wasn't even my favorite indie movie of the year. (I liked Once.)

Michael Clayton: Solid, well-made 3-star thriller that casts a pale eye on lawyers and the corporate legal establishment. Well-handled, but nothing new.

No Country For Old Men: The full Coen Brothers' treatment loved by many but not by me. An incomprehensible conclusion and barely concealed racism render this a pointless stylistic exercise. My complete review here.

There Will Be Blood: Blood gets a lot of points for its ambition and the vitality and originality of its high points. Ultimately, the parts are greater than the whole, though. My complete review here.

The best movie I saw this year was Eastern Promises. It's disappointing that The Namesake, an overlooked film about Indian immigrants and their Americanized children, received little notice from the Academy (especially Irrfan Khan's wonderful performance as the family patriarch). Since I can't vote for either of these, I'll pick There Will Be Blood, strictly on the basis of ignoring its weakness while considering its strengths. 

P.S. I woke up this morning at 6:00 and went back to bed at 8:00. I put on a Gnarly Nose (I favor the Durante model) and waited for T. (who was still asleep) to notice. It was worth the wait.

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