Tuesday, December 30, 2008
The film, filmed entirely on location in Mumbai, was co-directed by British filmmaker Danny Boyle (Trainspotting , Millions, Sunshine, 28 Days Later...) and Indian female director Loveleen Tandan (casting director on Mira Nair's "Vanity Fair" and "Monsoon Wedding," as well as 2nd assistant director on "Monsoon Wedding").
"Slumdog Millionaire" tells the story of Jamal Malik, a kid from the Mumbai slums who improbably becomes a contestant on the Indian version of "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire." The story is told through flashbacks explaining just how Jamal came to know all the answers to the questions he is asked on the show, which he knows as it turns out, by virtue of his life experiences surviving in the slums with his brother Salim and the little girl he rescued and came to love, Latika.
The film covers the lives of the 3 principals at ages 7, 14, and 21, played of course by three sets of actors, the youngest being actual non-actor Mumbai street kids.
The adults are played by Dev Patel (Jamal Malik) a British Actor of Indian parentage known in the US primarily for starring in the BBC series "Skins," Madhur Mittal (Salim Malik) a novice Indian actor, and Freida Pinto (Latika) a beautiful Mumbai model and TV host acting in her first movie.
The film is mostly told in English (which should help its US box office) with English subtitles for the Hindi parts.
Filmed in a frenetic, semi-documentary style by Anthony Dod Mantle ("The Last King of Scotland"), I would describe Slumdog Millionaire as "City of God" meets "Oliver Twist" meets "Monsoon Wedding" and "The Darjeeling Limited ," but that would be selling it short. The film is a wonderfully inventive evocation of a milieu foreign to most of us, told in a completely novel way (based on the novel "Q&A" by Vikas Swarup and screenwritten by Simon Beaufoy ("The Full Monty")).
Ultimately, Kid Curmudgeon puts "Slumdog Millionaire" in the top 5 movies of her life (she's a teenager) and I put it as one of my top two movies of 2008 (along with Jonathan Demme's "Rachel Getting Married"). Highly recommended in any case.
The movie is about a parish priest in NYC (Hoffman) who is persecuted by the principal of the Catholic school associated with the parish by the school's principal who was also a nun and mother superior (Streep) based purely on her suspicion that the priest might be getting a little too 'familiar' with the lone Black kid in the school, a loner ostracized by the other students. Still, despite the seriousness of the subject matter, the writing is witty rather than dour, at times even laugh-out-loud funny (God I love good writing)!
The story takes place in the year after the Kennedy assasination (IC was in high school in Texas that year) although the students seem to be about middle school age (what we would have called 'junior high' back then--why the change?!).
Fans of good acting and good writing will find a lot to love in this movie. Still as good as Hoffman and Streep are, and they indeed give the proverbial Oscar-worthy performances, the actor who steals the show is Viola Davis as the mother of the putative victim. She's only on the screen for 15 minutes but, if there is any justice, she will be nominated and win for "Best Supporting Actress" at the 2009 Oscars. She will be familiar to most for her roles on "Law and Order" and "Grey's Anatomy," but I certainly look for her star to rise after this. Worth the price of admission.
"Doubt" was further graced by the wonderful cinematography of the Great Roger Deakins ("No Country for Old Men" and most of the other films by the Coen Brothers).
Monday, December 29, 2008
This year we found out that the local TGI Fridays was open so we went there. The good news is that they were open for Christmas. The bad news was that they had eliminated the last remaining vegetarian option on the menu, some kind of lame cold pasta salad concoction so spiked with sulfiting agents as to be virtually inedible, yet still it was marginally better than nothing.
This is perplexing in that when I became a vegetarian 30 years ago, TGI Fridays was the first chain restaurant to offer a veggie burger (at least in the DC area). They had an excellent Garden Burger on the menu, served with a black-eyed peas salad on the side. Inexplicably, this disappeared from the menu about 3 years ago, along with the veggie wrap (served cold, but delicious) and assorted other veggie alternatives, as they began touting their red meat and Jack Daniels entrees (who oversaw this change, Karl Rove? Rush Limbaugh?). Apparently management has made a decision to stop catering to the white collar yuppie vaguely health-conscious demographic of years past to reach out to the red meat craving blue collar NASCAR demographic (much like Monday Night Football did when they brought in Hank Williams Jr. to annoy us with his "Ready for some football" braying).
I mean, its not just that Fridays has made it impossible for vegetarians like me to enjoy meals there with their non-veggie friends. It is that TGI Fridays has decided to become militantly anti-vegetarian, and that is indeed a troubling trend. It may be TGI Fridays but its not the Fridays I used to love to patronize.
For the record, my brother went with the ribs and I had to go with either the house salad or the Tuscan spinach dip with tortilla chips. I went with the dip since vegetarians need and deserve our veggies hot, not raw (we ain't frickin' rabbits, for God's sake!), even though in retrospect it was probably made with chicken soup since thats the way most restaurants insist on making it.
Therefore, unless and until Fridays gets its act together, I'm sticking with Ruby Tuesdays (great veggie burger, very good salad bar, and lots of veggie alternatives on the menu. Plus they are not afraid to cater to the more health conscious diners).
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
Now, bogged down in moving my home and my office and getting a dog and myriad other distractions, I find myself seven weeks past my last post.
This is unacceptable and I promise to do better (for both of you out there actually reading this thing).
In the meantime, be sure to check out the links to my friends' blogs at right, like David Mills who writes "Undercover Black Man." The most prolific blogger I know, he routinely posts several times daily about music, media, politics, about anything on his mind. He augments his posts with terrific audio and video clips, which I would like to do some day too. He used to write for the Washington Post before heading west to the left coast to write for TV. He has written episodes for "The Wire" on HBO and "Homicide: Life on the Streets" for NBC, two of my all-time favorite shows.
Also check out my former student's blog "This Better Not Be Lame." She is a wonderful writer, witty, urbane, sarcastic, profane, with a delightfully snarky tone. She blogs anonymously under the name 'Sexy HU Journalist.'
Another former student, Danielle Scruggs, blogs under her own name at "Danielle Scruggs/Photography." A recent MFA Photography grad from MICA in Baltimore, she blogs about all things photography, championing photographers and their work and occasionally displaying examples of her own work. She too is a terrific writer (part of that Howard U. tradition of writers going back through Toni Morrison to Zora Neale Hurston).
Keeping it in the Howard U. family, check out my friend and former fellow Howard art dept. alum Joyce Owens, whose blog is "Joyce Owens: Artist on Art". Joyce is a celebrated artist and professor of art living and teaching in Chicago whose blog poses intriguing questions about art, about the profession of art, and about the viability of art with particular emphasis on African American art and artists.
Posting more soon, I remain the incorrigible Curmudgeon.
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
Thursday, October 9, 2008
What's up with this mural in Adams Morgan (seen from 'U' Street & Florida Avenue, NW)? Clowns are pretty creepy in general but this one is particularly so.
Wednesday, October 8, 2008
Saturday, September 27, 2008
I suddenly realized that the vote John McCain has locked up and which Barack Obama has yet to reach is the voter who asks themselves the question: "Which candidate would you most like to go out and have a beer with?"
Of course for me the answer would be Barack Obama but for that demographic of young-to-middle-aged White males, the voters George W. Bush was always so successful with, I'm afraid McCain comes off as 'more fun.'
Of course this begs the question of whether we would prefer a fun president or a competent, principled one, yet in American politics getting elected is still very much a popularity contest.
Saturday, August 23, 2008
Interesting that White photographers find themselves drawn to photographing Black portraits. Reminds me of Brian Lanker's project "I Dream a World: portraits of Black Women who Changed America," which I both envied and admired. I envied both the sheer beauty of Lanker's portraits and his audacity for having conceived the project in the first place. Green-field Sanders has produced some awesome results as well.
Timothy Greenfield-Sanders seems to favor the unflinching, staring-straight-into-the-camera style of Richard Avedon in his non-commercial non-fashion work in his later years. He also favors Avedon's penchant for very large-format view cameras (11x14). Makes a militantly anachronistic statement in this digital photography age.
Saturday, August 9, 2008
It was supposed to close at the end of August 2008 and move to an abandoned furniture store in Laurel, about 5 miles to the east in Prince Georges county.
However, the website (who knew the Amish had websites?) seems to indicate that the move is off indefinitely. I hope so. I like the idea of the market and that people come from all over DC/Maryland/Virginia to shop here, even though, as a veggie, the market is a little too meat-heavy for my tastes. In fact, their is precious little for a veggie, but I'm glad they're staying a while longer anyway.
I thought it might be too morbid to post, but everyone I showed it to said I should post it anyway ( there is a certain geometric beauty to the splatter pattern).
(c)2008, Incorrigible Curmudgeon
Saturday, July 26, 2008
All photos (c) 2008 Incorrigible Curmudgeon
Well this has been a great Summer because I've been able to see the first two and they both kicked ass!
Seeing George Clinton again was like seeing an old friend or your crazy old uncle again after a long hiatus.
I've been watching George and Parliament since 1968 when they had solid radio hits like "I Just Wanna Testify," "Let Hurt Put You Behind the Wheel," and "Get Up On the Down Stroke," great party songs but up to this point they were pretty much just another R&B group in matching tuxedos ala the Temptations.
The next year they re-invented themselves, busting out in costumes (the diaper, the union suit, the hair and make-up) as the Funk/Rock hybrid Parliament Funkadelic we all know and love. Forty years later they are still getting it done, George is still the impish gnome in chief, the screaming guitars (led by Michael Hampton) are still putting a lie to the perception that Black people don't dig rock, and Garry Shider is still rockin' that diaper, well into his 60's.
The show was at the 9:30 Club near Howard University and started 2 hours late so we only stayed for 3 of the usual 4 hours they are still renowned for jamming, even at their age.
Unfortunately, they don't let you bring real cameras to concerts like back in the day, but the 9:30 Club only prohibits "professional cameras and video" so I had the frustrating experience of capturing the show on my point-and-shoot digital from the balcony (my leg was injured and I wasn't about to fight the teeming hoards on the dance floor to get up close to the stage). Still it was better than nothing (barely) but you be the judge.
Check out the Washington Post article about George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic, a feature piece in the Weekend section the day before the show.
Friday, July 25, 2008
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
Photo (c)2008 by Incorrigible Curmudgeon
Over the years she, or another mourning dove (perhaps even her grown child), has nested 2 or 3 times each season. This was her first brood of 2008.
Friday, July 11, 2008
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
Mandrill was at the Birchmere while I was away on vacation, but fortunately they were also in nearby Annapolis this Monday at the Rams Head Tavern, and they jammed like they had never left the scene! Still gettin' it done! Mandrill stands ten strong, and with the four Wilson Brothers and some others from the original iteration and an outstanding selection of newer talent (notably on drum kit, lead guitar, and violin) they rocked all their hits in a breathless 90-minute set. Highlights included "Mandrill," "Fencewalk," "Children of the Sun," "Mango Meat," "House of Wood," "Get it All," and of course "Ape is High." Carlos Wilson's voice and flute were in fine form, as were Lou Wilson on trumpet and vocals, Ricardo "Doc" Wilson on Trombone and vocals, and Wilfredo Wilson on congas and vocals. Admonitions by the venue that the audience refrain from dancing went appropriately unheeded (as if the audience had any choice once Mandrill started jamming).
Mandrill has always been horn-strong, with trombone and trumpet, soprano and baritone saxes, all mic-ed, so the sound was deafeningly loud. My ears rang for hours after the show since I was sitting next to the stage. Back in the day, I used to shoot concerts with my ear next to the loudspeakers with no problem. Not any more.
Still, it was all worth it, and I can't remember the last time I enjoyed a concert so much.
World's greatest rock band: the Rolling Who?! The Grateful Duds?! They better reco'nize! Mandrill Rules!
Thursday, June 12, 2008
The only thing worse was the brainstorm to paint DC fire hydrants to look like little steadfast tin soldiers, attired in uniforms the likes of which even Michael Jackson would avoid. The color palette on these atrocities was straight out of the local house paint store (where it no doubt came from) and contributed to the garishly grotesque appearance of these stunted humanoids with the phocomelic paddles for arms and their 'we are Devo' helmets. Thankfully, they all seem to have been replaced or repainted in dark green, though a few have been spotted well into the 21st Century. If I ever spot one that slipped through the cracks I'll be sure to post the photo.
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
Friday, May 16, 2008
photos (c) 2007, Incorrigible Curmudgeon
One could argue that there is nothing 'vernacular' about the U.S. Capitol bldg. or the Washington Monument, but they are certainly among the things we Washingtonians take for granted, barely giving them a glance when we spy them while walking down the street or looking out of our workplace windows. During my commute there is one place at the corner of North Capitol St. and Michigan Avenue where I can see them both. I haven't had much success photographing the monument from my moving car as the monument ducks in and out of the filtration silos for the MacMillan Reservoir at that corner, but here is a shot of the Capitol dome, looking down North Capitol from my car. I shot the monument from the roof of my garage at work. And every day I'm in DC, I continue to take inventory.
What are the things you take for granted in your towns? Whatever they might be, New York has taught us to never do so again.
Thursday, May 1, 2008
Monday, April 28, 2008
Friday, April 25, 2008
Wednesday, April 23, 2008
Tuesday, April 22, 2008
Friday, April 18, 2008
Tuesday, April 15, 2008
Lake Artemesia is a man-made lake formed from the land excavated to elevate the tracks of the Metro Green line which run parallel to it. The lake is about a half a mile North of the College Park Metro station.
It has become a beautiful wildlife refuge with paved paths around and across it. The only downer is that boating is prohibited. This lake would be perfect for kayaking.
Sunday, April 13, 2008
Ostensibly a love story between a free-spirited 78 year-old widow and a repressed 79 year-old widower she woos, attempting to free him from his practiced torpor.
It is a love story to film (in particular to fellini's "La Dolce Vita" with elements of "Harold and Maude" and "Cinema Paradiso" and even "Harry & Tonto"), a love story to falling in love despite age or infirmity, and a love story to living life free from fear.
It posits that while many elderly sufffer from the fear of dying, far too many suffer from a fear of living. That worse than the inevitability of death is dying having not lived as fully as one could have/should have.
Fred (Alfredo) is played by Spanish actor Manuel Alexandre, Elsa by Uruguyan actor China Zorilla, both somewhat older than the characters they embody so fully and well. I cannot recommend this movie highly enough.
Friday, April 11, 2008
Thursday, April 10, 2008
Chuck Brown playing for the Howard University Christmas Party for staff and faculty, thrown by President H. Patrick Swygert, Christmas 2006. Photographed with Nikon D200 with 28-200mm lens, using built-in flash.
Photo (c) 2006 by the Incorrigible Curmudgeon
Wednesday, April 9, 2008
Tuesday, April 8, 2008
Sunday, April 6, 2008
Essentially a lyrically beautiful meditation on the ways in which a Colombine-type school massacre affects those impacted for generatons to come.
Told in flashback from the POV of two students who confront the gunman, 17 year-old girls from the low rent side of the tracks, who remain best friends despite polar opposite backgrounds, one a risk-taking rebel who's parents are divorced, the other a God-fearing church goer from a large, pious family.
The acting is superb, particularly Evan Rachel Wood as one of the young girls and Uma Thurman as the girl grown up with a daughter of her own.
Film is directed by Ukrainian director Vadim Perelman and this is his second film, after House of Sand and Fog.
Had I heard going in that a movie was dealing with a school massacre, I would never have been inclined to go see it. I am so glad I was able to experience this movie afterall.
I highly recommend this film.