Monday, July 19, 2010


"There is no such thing as pointless violence. City of God, is that pointless violence? It's reality, it's real life, it has to do with the human condition. Being involved in Christianity and Catholicism when I was very young, you have that innocence, the teachings of Christ. Deep down you want to think that people are really good - but the reality outweighs that." - Martin Scorsese

A person that had a profound impact on me when I was much younger was my grandmother on my mother's side. My Vietnamese was horrible growing up was pretty bad so I hardly understood a thing she said but I could tell she loved me. Everything from the way she used to watch over and care for me while my parents went to work to the way she prepared my favorite French Fries from scratch. Another thing that has really stuck with me since that time was her favorite TV show. On the rare occasion I can remember her taking time for herself she used to always love to sit and watch I Love Lucy. It has that universal appeal that did not really require a command of the English language to appreciate I suppose.

Why do I bring her up you might ask? TV and film are two separate and different things but a lot of qualities remain the same between the two. The qualities I look for in a film contain a universal appeal that often appear without the need for understanding the dialogue. A lot of good films that I have seen do not really require a full understanding of the plot as the visuals can often carry a movie (i.e. Avatar, Y Tu Mama Tambien, Inception). But what I really look for in a film is something that simulate life. Something that can be a bridge between fiction and reality. Sometimes films take liberties with a story but the same could be said of a painter making a portrait or a musician making the lyrics of a song about a person, place or thing. The details are not so much important as the artistry.

With the the film section of my blog I wanted to share and convey to whomever might be reading this the reasons why I enjoy watching films and have a personal distinction between films and flicks. I will explain in another post what that distinction is. For this post I just wanted to share why I find films imporant. For more entertaining fare: the five films that are to be released in the next five months that I think people should see in theaters.

1. Waiting for Superman

Due out: September 24, 2010

My take: By the director of Inconvenient Truth, this next documentary by Davis Guggenheim is a really engaging film. He focuses on the crises facing American public education. I fortunately have already seen this film at the Seattle Independent Film Festival and I truly doubt anyone walked out of the theatre with a dry eye. One of those rare documentaries that makes you want to take action as well as being an entertaining fare the film draws upon the raw drama of the people involved from various levels (politicians, social activists, kids, parents, etc.). The best thing I think I took from the film is that the kids that they follow all throughout the movie could easily be the kid down the street, your nephew, your son, your daughter, your sister, your brother...Everyone can definitely take something from this film and hopefully acts upon it!

For the trailer click here.

2. Due Date

Due out: November 5, 2010

My take: With a veteran comedy director like Todd Phillips of The Hangover and Old School I can not see how he screw it up. Even though he has made some pretty bad movies, (i.e. Starsky and Hutch and School for Scoundrels) neither were original works of his. He did not write Due Date but he did have producing credits. And how can you do wrong with Robert Downey Jr., Michelle Monaghan, Jamie Foxx and one of my favorite comedians - Zach Galifianakis. I think this will be the funniest movie of the year. The film is a road trip movie which is a place Todd Phillips has already visited in Road Trip with a far worse cast ("Stifler" and Tom Green being themselves worked well). The plot follows Downey's character as he has to try and make it cross country in time for his child's due date and along the way he picks up Foxx, Galifianakis and an adorable French Bulldog. Comedy and mayhem ensues...

For the trailer, click here.

3. The Social Network

Due out: October 1, 2010

My take: David Fincher (Fight Club, Zodiac and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button) is an awesome director and he brought back Jeff Cronenweth (Fight Club) as his cinematographer. Their work on that Fight Club with its dark and grungy appeal really fit that film and will do well to portray this very interesting look at the formation of the Facebook social network. I will admit it, I am addicted to Facebook, but it is the plot that really interests me.The film is based on a book that was a New York Times Bestseller (The Accidental Billionaires) that was itself written by Ben Mezrich (Bringing Down the House) who has a history of writing some tasteful and interesting non-fiction books. From the trailers you get the sense that Jesse Eisenberg (Adventureland, Zombieland) is going to play his traditionally geeky, witty character but as the saga of the formation of the Facebook website unfolds he becomes a straight up dick which is a nice change of pace for him. I think he will get a lot of recognition for this role after it comes out. Basically, the film is depicting the formation of Facebook from its roots at Harvard under creator Mark Zuckerberg (played by Jesse Eisenberg), the relationships he formed (for better or worse) after its newfound popularity and the subsequent fallout in many of those relationships when he became embroiled in lawsuits and personal greed.

For the trailer click here.

4. The Fighter

Due out: December 10, 2010

My take: There is not a whole lot to go on except for plot details and the cast and crew attached to the project but everything sounds like they will make a nice ensemble. Originally Darren Aronofsky (The Wrestler, Requiem for a Dream) was attached to direct this film but had to drop because of scheduling conflicts. Director David O. Russell (I Heart Huckabees, Three Kings) picked up the project and is working Amy Adams, Christian Bale and Mark Wahlberg on the project as his stars. With that kind of a lineup I am only afraid that his Russell's oddball humor might conflict with the tone of the film. The story focuses on the early years of a boxer named Micky Ward before he went pro in the 1980's. Wahlberg plays Micky and his character is trained by his half-brother (Dicky) played by Bale. I just hope that Bale did not have another of his infamous "Batman" freak-outs but otherwise I am looking forward to this one.

No Trailer available. :(

5. Tron: Legacy

Due out: December 17, 2010

My take: The director, Joseph Kosinski, has had experience in the film industry but mostly in a technical background (computer graphics). He found some success as a commercial director having filmed the Halo 3 "Starry Night" as well as the "Mad World" Gears of War TV spots. Although they are each limited in scope, he really seems to show a good use of computer graphics. Unlike some "directors", *cough* (Jerry Bruckheimer and Michael Bay) *cough* who rely on computer graphics for their "awesomeness", Kosinski seems like one of those directors who use their graphics as an aesthetic and tasteful part of film production (case in point: Avatar). Tron Legacy is a sequel to the original Tron in which Kevin Flynn's (played by Jeff Bridges) son (played by Garrett Hedlund) goes on a quest to find his father and gets thrust into the Tron-world of gladiatorial games with him. The project is taking a lot of risks with a budget of $150 million, a mostly rookie director and an unknown as the star. The appeal of a big budget blockbuster by Disney going into the usually dull holiday season should see this movie doing well, but will it be a good film? Time will tell.

For the trailer, click here.

Pill #43/180

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


"Meals make the society, hold the fabric together in lots of ways that were charming and interesting and intoxicating to me. The perfect meal, or the best meals, occur in a context that frequently has very little to do with the food itself." - Anthony Bourdain

Sitting down for a good meal to me goes beyond just the food. I love it as an encompassing experience that can fulfill more than just my physical appetite. It can attack all of the senses. Good presentation and the atmosphere of the meal go far to please the eye. A well made and tasty dish obviously pleases the taste buds. A lot of foreign cuisine please me with their rich aromas from their spice and natural juices. Texture, a feature often ignored in making good food, can make a meal even more memorable. Finally, there is sound. So where can good sound come from in a meal? I love meals with friends and family. Having good friends, food and atmosphere is an experience that can connect people to things, places and events that transcend the meal itself. Let me explain...

The word connect is defined as: to join, link, or fasten together; unite or bind: to establish communication between; put in communication. A good meal can do a good job of connecting people, places and things. Many aspects of a good meal do not need a translator, meals communicates in a universal language that only requires an open mind.

For example, I recently tried Trinidadian food with my Brionna at Pam's Kitchen in University District in Seattle. If anyone gets the chance they should try this place out. As far as I know it is the only place that serves Trinidadian food in that area. In fact, Trinidadian cuisine is really a delicious derivative of Indian food. I could tell from the amount of Cumin, other tasty spices and the naan-type bread that was served. All things considered it was an awesome meal. Brionna was exceptional company (thank you for taking me here!). The restaurant felt like it belonged on the water in some faroff and away tropical locale. The food was incredibly delicious with an aroma teasing and goading me into devouring it which I happy obliged. Finally, there was the "sound", I really mean it when I say my friend made good company. I am always happy to see my friends as we have not hung out as we once did in college. If a picture is worth a thousand words, what would is a meal worth?

Coming back to my point of connect. Having these opportunities to go out to eat and have good meals with friends transport me places. When I hang out with my college friends at a good restaurant, it helps me to reminisce and try and relive those wonderful days in the Palouse at Washington State University. When I eat a big meal with family and our family friends it helps me to reconnect with my culture and to hear stories of the old times that I can otherwise only experience through books and film. Seattle is a great place for my habit. I can try new and exciting places to try and get a literal taste of other cultures and to put my bank account to work a little bit too. Many of the things that I do, like the meals I chase and crave, are not in fact a form of escapism, as some might think, from the civilized life but instead a way to connect with the world at large.

I would like to conclude by addressing something I have not fully addressed to this point in my two posts. I see this blog as a means to convey my deepest gratitude of having the undeserving fortune of being able to enjoy good food, good friends and family, good films and living a more fulfilling life. Each post will focus on one of three things that I find the most connect; films, food and/or all around wonderful times with my loved ones.

One new connection at a time, one step before the next; that is how I am living my life.

Looking forward to writing my next post!
Next post: Film.
Pill #36/180

Since you (*wink, wink) asked: