Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Cinema Ho digresses: "I've Loved You So Long"

'tis the season when the studios unleash the floodgates, releasing their best work. Add in lazy holiday vacation time and you get...a long promiscious weekend at the Landmark Cinema.

Time for a bit of sophistication, class and subtitles. Time for a trip to France.

I've Loved You So Long

This is an amazing film from a first-time director. The acting and storytelling will blow you away. If you do not weep during this movie, you are not human.

But you can read this in other reviews.

What Cinema Ho wants to discuss is: What makes French* people so stylish?

The main character gets out of prison, wears no makeup, uses no discernable hair product, tosses on clothing with no obvious regard for fashion and makes one think: Where can I get that fabulous brown trench coat? Or those ankle-strapped shoes?

Her sister runs around in the same jeans skirt, cardigan and ballet flats half the movie and looks like she stepped off the pages of Vogue.

Each woman has more style in her little finger than all of the "Real Housewives" combined.

And the cafes...oh, the cafes. Instead of discounted travel mugs and seasonally dressed stuffed bears in the background, these characters sit and discourse among gleaming wood paneling and expansive views of picaresque streets.

Wrenching tragedy never looked better.

* Kristin Scott Thomas is considered honorary French, as she acts flawlessly and fluently in her non-native language here.

Craving more film commentary? Check out The Reader, Doubt and The Wrestler.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Cinema Ho digresses: "The Wrestler"

'tis the season when the studios unleash the floodgates, releasing their best work. Add in lazy holiday vacation time and you get...a long promiscious weekend at the Landmark Cinema.

Cinema Ho has fond memories of Mickey Rourke from Angel Heart and 9 1/2 Weeks. So she stumbles into The Wrestler...

Dear God there's a staple gun!

Where's a tasteful, understated chicken-strangling voodoo scene when you need it?

Craving more film commentary? Check out The Reader and Doubt.

Cinema Ho digresses: "Doubt"

'tis the season when the studios unleash the floodgates, releasing their best work. Add in lazy holiday vacation time and you get...a long promiscious weekend at the Landmark Cinema.

Cinema Ho cannot resist the lure of more popcorn, and continues with...


Some see it as commentary on blind faith, more timely than ever in this "trust us about the WMDs" era. Others see it as a critique on the patriarchy of major religions. Of course, it's also a not-so-veiled allusion to the Catholic Church's recent altar-boy scandals.

For me as well, Doubt provoked thought and raised questions. A few follow:

- Why can the priests booze it up while the nuns have to drink milk? (no wonder many of them are cranky)

- Why plaid as the official fabric pattern of the Catholic school uniform? Why not stripes, herringbone, a tasteful polkadot?

- Why are long fingernails attractive on women yet skeevy on a man (particularly a man of the cloth)?

- Where'd Meryl Streep get the Queens accent?

- Why do I always erroneously refer to this movie as "Proof" instead - when there's not a troubled math genius in sight?

Craving more film commentary? Check out The Reader.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Cinema Ho digresses: "The Reader"

'tis the season when the studios unleash the floodgates, releasing their best work. Add in lazy holiday vacation time and you get...a long promiscious weekend at the Landmark Cinema.

Encapsulated here for your reading pleasure, Cinema Ho begins with...

The Reader

Kate Winslet shucks her clothes and taunts Oscar, Ralph Fiennes plays his usual sexy, aloof and well-dressed beast, moral complexities are raised, blah blah blah. You can read the reviews here.

But what I want to talk about is the CNN Reader Sweepstakes

"Tell us the story for your first love and you could win a trip to New York City. Was it fleeting or forever?"

Did CNN actually read this book or watch this movie?

If so, what part of "gestapo," "unspeakable crimes" and "borderline inappropriate age difference" translated into "romantic sweepstakes" for these guys?

Tell us about your first love. Was it fleeting, forever, or...traumatizing?

Did it leave you forever emotionally crippled and unable to forge meaningful relationships (despite your tailored suits and stylish Berlin loft?)

Did it result in a trial of Nuremburg-esque proportions?

Is there a prison involved? How about genocide?

Yes, you say? Well, send us your tale, young Nietzche...and welcome to Times Square!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Happy Holidays!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Southern Comfort Food

What do you get when you put catfish on a panini?

Lunch in a college town in the Deep South. And a very good lunch indeed.

Faulkner, meet the Food Network.

What do you get when you heap pulled pork onto a stack of nachos?

Memphis airport cuisine.

A little less yum.

What do you get when you ask for a beverage?

Sweet tea, baby - sweeeeeet tea.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

The South will rise again

When going out of town for the day, Washingtonians' will usually hone their GPS systems in on the following locations:

- NYC to get their culture on
- Charlottesville to get their crunchy/prepness on - OMG, Dave Matthews used to live there!
- Annapolis to ogle sailors
- Baltimore to sport their thrift-shop lunch boxes and/or Ravens jerseys
- Philly because they know people up there
- Jersey same reason
- Outer Banks to procure an "OBX" bumper sticker for the Volvo
- Williamsburg Dudes in knickers. And tri-corner hats.

One reply I almost never hear: Richmond.

I always wondered why. Why is Richmond seemingly the least-appreciated state capital this side of Pierre, SD?

{ed. note - technically, that would be "commonwealth capitol."}

Today I actually got to drive around a bit and see a bit of Richmond. And what I saw perplexed me even more. Because what I saw was cool.

- The Jefferson Hotel. Open the door to step into an endless foyer of Christmas lights, holly, grace and gentility. But first stand up straight, fix up your hair and makeup and ask yourself, Are you classy enough for the Jefferson today? Really?

- "Uptown/downtown" - That's the nickname a local gave me for the neighborhood around Broad and Grace streets with great old vintage buildings and signage

- The funky shops by Virginia Commonwealth University - These include the Tea Co. coffee and tea house, a Caribbean restaurant, another storefront indicating Ghana something or other (here I was gawking from the road with other cars blocking my view), plus perhaps the world's largest Barnes & Noble

In short, what I saw was enough to tantalize for a second visit and further investigation.

Next post: Whither Wilmington?

Friday, December 05, 2008

How can any American child not know what Wal-Mart looks like?

Emilie, the young daughter of NY Times columnist Judith Warner, rightfully and intelligently wondered why crazed shoppers trampled a Wal-Mart store greeter to death over the Thanksgiving holiday.

But this was only one of many questions, her mother noted in an article that muddied up a good subject (how – and how much – should kids learn about the world’s evils) with some unfortunate socioeconomic cluelessness.

“What does Wal-Mart look like?” she asked me on Wednesday, searching for clues in the storefronts of Northwest Washington.

Gucci – check. Saks - check. Wal-Mart? Hmmmm….

“A great big store, with groceries and clothing and auto supplies, and electronics,” I said.

But nothing we’d ever buy, honey.

“So it’s like Best Buy,” she said, as we drove past Best Buy.

“Not quite like Best Buy.”

It’s a store for POOR people, snowflake.

“Is it near here?”

God no. (Thank you, zoning board.)

“There’s no Wal-Mart near here,” I said. “That store was on Long Island.”

“Oh!” she gave a great sigh of relief. “That’s really far away.”

You cannot tell me that, not once in her life, was Judith Warner tempted by a $30 DVD player, a $4.88 collander or bargain-priced six-packs of panties or tube socks.

But apparently so. Because there are places where she and her family shops. And then there are stores for those other people. And that’s the problem - two kinds of America.

Two kinds of schools (for most urban areas, this would be “private” vs. “craptastic”). Two levels of health care (“obsessively medicated” vs. “non-existent”). And two levels of shopping: pretty upscale shopping centres vs. stampede-prone bargain fests that are “really far away indeed.”

John Edwards may have been fudging a bit in the “Don’t worry, Liz, Rielle and I are just shooting a campaign video” department. But I think he was on to something with his “two Americas.”

When a columnist for a leading U.S. newspaper has only hearsay experience with a store where the majority of Americans have shopped at one time or another – that concept seems rather prescient.