The way I feel about running can be summed up in one tiny word: No. No, no, no; no to being sweaty and uncomfortable and having aching knees and feeling like I can't breathe. (I blame high school gym class for all of this, by the by.)
The way I feel about running doesn't, apparently, extend to movies about running, especially not the sweet and straightforward Hood to Coast, a documentary about Oregon's ginormous annual relay race, which someone describes, early in the film, as a 197-mile-long party. The film backs this slightly outlandish claim right up: There are runners in tutus, in superhero costumes, in wildly decorated vans and very small shorts. Runners sport lightning-decorated headbands, top their support vehicles with coffins and come back year after year after year.
The Hood to Coast race starts, somewhat obviously, at Mount Hood, traveling across the state and through Portland to end in Seaside. Teams of 12 runners take three legs apiece; the race goes on through the night, the runners sleepless and cheerfully discombobulated, as the film shows. Filmmakers Christoph Baaden and Marcie Hume smartly chose four teams to follow, focusing on certain personalities within those teams: The veterans are represented by Dead Jocks in a Box, a bunch of long-time Hood to Coast runners who are half endearing and half patronizing as they form "power arches" for fellow runners (always women) and track other teams' fashion statements.
On the heartstring-tugging side, Baaden and Hume found two teams with emotional stories: Heart and Sole, who had a teammate collapse the previous year, and R. Bowe, a team formed of the friends and family of a man who passed away unexpectedly a year before. These runners' stories are emotional and heartfelt, and Hume and Baaden let them spill out naturally, as the Bowe family toasts their missing member, and as Kathy Ryan, who’s run countless marathons and won’t be slowed down by her near-death experience, greets the women who revived her on the route last year.
The fourth team is the one this non-runner found the most amusing: A team of animators from Laika, the Portland studio that made Coraline, decides to do the race with no training. Beer-drinking right up until the race is the plan, says Rachel, whose tousled hair and permanent bandanna make her a camera favorite. The Laika team is goofy and ragged, but they're not just there for laughs; they make the point that Hood to Coast, while a serious race for some (the film stops to chat with the race favorites at a few points), is fairly accessible; kids and seniors run it right along with terrifyingly fit athletes.
Lovingly pieced together from a patchwork of stories, Hood to Coast is gorgeously shot — swooping through Oregon's mountains and forests, following runners so closely you hear every footfall and tired breath — and cheerfully sincere. It's not out to convince anyone to race, or to delve too deeply into the backstories of those runners it follows, but to get, a little bit, at what makes people do things like Hood to Coast. Rachel, exhausted, can't stop saying that her difficult leg was awesome. The Dead Jocks come back year after year, clearly in it for the camaraderie and the competition. The sense of accomplishment, when each team crosses the finish line in Seaside, is palpable: For two days, these runners are outside their ordinary life, doing something extraordinary with just their bodies, their teammates and their willpower. As one runner says, the race is epic, and you can't do epic by yourself.
Hood to Coast shows at 8:30 and 8:31 pm tonight, Tuesday, Jan. 11, at Cinemark.
Honestly, I'm still not sure what exactly spiced rum has to do with American tattoo icon Norman "Sailor Jerry" Collins, but it's Sailor Jerry Spiced Rum that's presenting this evening's (21+) screening of the documentary Hori Smoku Sailor Jerry at the Bijou. The film centers on Collins, but is as much a story of a place and time in the way it looks at Hawaii during WWII. It's not all a pretty picture — and a few of the attitudes espoused by some of the old-school tattoo artists are downright cringeworthy — but director Erich Weiss keeps things moving at a steady clip, interviewing those who worked with and learned from Collins. Colorful characters narrate their experiences with Collins, who combined traditional American tattoo style with the influence of Japanese tattoo masters, and whose work was majorly influential both in terms of style and more technical aspects (the stories about Collins' purple ink are particularly entertaining). Rough-voiced and heavily inked, the men who came after Collins — the most charming of which is easily California tattoo artist Don Ed Hardy, though other guys provide more laughs — speak both reverentially and dryly about Collins' work, politics and gruff personality.
You don't have to be a tattoo junkie to find this story fascinating (says the inkless writer) as a vivid, historical look at a subculture and the way it has developed, expanded and — though this is less of Weiss' focus — become commercialized. The old-school dudes (yeah, it's a sausage fest; women mostly appear in old footage as prostitutes, or for decoration) have a hearty skepticism for the ranks of "black T-shirt" kids they see as taking over their art now, and the film ends with a suggestion that before long, it'll be establishment to have tattoos, and rebellious not to. Popularity comes in cycles; Hori Smoku Sailor Jerry traces one story from the upswing of tattoo culture.
Hori Smoku Sailor Jerry screens at 7 pm tonight, Wednesday, Oct. 13, at the Bijou. See here for more details.
You could — and should — go see Winter's Bone at the Bijou. But this weekend there's an extra-special reason to get over to the theater: Jean-Pierre Jeunet and Marc Caro's incredible, whimsical, strange, dark and lovely The City of Lost Children is playing. Why? "Just a wild hair," says the Bijou's Louise Thomas. Works for me.
I've lost track of how many times I've seen this movie, and yet I still fail at a quick summary: In a bizarre city, One (Ron Perlman) and a beautiful little urchin named Miette (Judith Vittet) set out to find One's little brother, who's been kidnapped by a scientist who employs a small army of Dominique Pinons to help him study dreams in hopes of stopping the aging process? That doesn't even begin to cover it.
Jeunet (sans Caro) has a new film coming out soon, but Micmacs, while moderately charming, has nothing on City. Go, go, go!
The really, really, good (via everyone and their mother on Twitter):
The iffy, shiny, what-the-fuck-is-going-on-here? bad (via Cinematical):
(Can someone please put my annoyed mind at ease by identifying the unnecessarily epic and swoopy music toward the end?)
... and the ever so aptly named weird. If this looks like your kind of thing? It probably is.
The Good the Bad the Weird opens tomorrow at the Bijou. Voyage of the Dawn Treader comes out December 10. And Scott Pilgrim, which I've been looking forward to for two years, is out Aug. 13. Please don't disappoint me, Edgar Wright.
Yes, you could go see Alice in Wonderland this weekend. (I certainly plan to.) But you could also do something a little different and hop over to DIVA for one of the screenings of this year's Oscar-nominated short films. Pick animated only, live-action only or go all-out and watch both — though if you have to pick, for my money, the animated set is the way to go. My personal favorite (but an unlikely winner; I'd look to "Logorama" to take the day if voters are feeling at all subversive, or "A Matter of Loaf and Death" if they think Nick Park needs another shiny for his mantel), "Granny O'Grimm's Sleeping Beauty," is embedded below (be sure to watch it in HD).
The Oscar-nominated shorts show at DIVA this weekend (animated shorts, 10 pm Friday, March 5, and 3:15 pm Sunday, March 7; live-action shorts, 9 pm Friday, March 5, and 1 pm Sunday, March 7) and again over the next two weekends. Each screening is $6.
The Oscars air at 5 pm Sunday, March 7 on ABC — or you can go to the Bijou and watch them in high-definition on the big screen. Tickets are $10, and proceeds benefit The Haitian Sustainable Development Foundation.
Hey y'all! It's that time, from 9 am to 1 pm today â€” the National Arts Journalism Summit! They say we can use our websites to stream (without taking up bandwidth ... hm, we'll see about that!). So here 'tis! You can also use Twitter to sign in or to follow the discussion, with the hashtag #artsj09. I'll be in and out, what with meetings and such, but I hope to take part in at least some of it! After the event ends, I believe you can watch rebroadcasts of it here as well. Enjoy, arts people!
I'm not afraid to admit that I think Constantine is totally underrated. I might go so far as to say it's one of my top three favorite Keanu Reeves movies. There's something fascinating about stories that take certain supernatural elements of the Christian Bible REALLY literally â€” without any lions or elves or metaphorical Jesus creatures. I'm talking demons in the streets of L.A., but not in the Left Behind sense (these stories are only interesting when religion is key to the worldbuilding, but not part of the lesson plan).
So I watched the trailer for Legion, even though the poster for it â€” a looming angel with a machine gun â€” was so absurd I didn't think it was a real movie.
And I couldn't stop giggling. This is the redband (i.e. "mature," i.e. there's swearing) trailer. In it, a shirtless Paul Bettany plays the archangel Michael, who's standing up against a destructive God on the behalf of humankind â€” or at least one truck-stop waitress whose baby is humanity's only chance for survival.
Also, I'm fairly sure Dennis Quaid explodes.
Don't get me wrong: I will totally, absolutely watch this. It's deliciously ridiculous and totally over the top. It begins with Doug Jones as an evil ice-cream truck driver. I'm in. I'm just not sure the movie can, er, be better than the trailer.
In other cinematic news, it's been confirmed that Bryan Singer will direct a Battlestar Galactica movie. There are two immediate worrying things about this:
1. Singer hasn't made a really good movie since X2. (And this is coming from someone who's slightly fond of the oft-dismissed Superman Returns.)
2. This isn't a film version of the brilliantly reimagined (if less-than-brilliantly ended) TV show that wound down earlier this year. This is a film version of the original series.
It's not an inherently bad idea to look back to the original series â€” and it's worth noting that it's not the first time Singer's gotten close to a Galactica revisioning â€” but the timing is pretty much terrible. The new BSG is still fresh in people's minds, especially with the upcoming TV movie The Plan and the spinoff/prequel series Caprica coming next year.
(It isn't helping that this looks a little bit like a greedy bid to relaunch the original BSG the way that J.J. Abrams relaunched Star Trek. As a colleague joked, we can probably blame Star Trek for a whole pile of crappy sci-fi* remakes in the next few years.)
"All of this has happened before, and all of this will happen again," indeed. I'll hold out hope that Singer's version will be as fresh and as different from the recent series as that show was from the original, but it's a bit tough to quash the skeptic in the back of my head. Still, original series fans rebelled at the idea of BSG 2.0, and now those of us who cringe at the idea of Starbuck being played by anyone but Katee Sackhoff are having our cringe moment. We'll see. Somewhat reluctantly.
* I've heard on too many occasions that REAL science fiction fans DON'T CALL IT SCI-FI. This is utter crap. Call it what you want. Call it SF/F, which looks like some kind of shorthand for a slash pairing. Call it SyFy, if you're a network who needs a brand that conveniently distances you from your original fanbase. Call it whatever the hell you like. Just keep liking it.