Thursday, June 25, 2009

Some Short Films, A Review

Last night I went to go see NEWFILMMAKERS SCREENS NEW YORK CITY FILMMAKERS at Film Anthology Archives (32 2nd Ave.). I remained—throughout—basically unmoved. As the films were short (ranging from 8-20 minutes in length), so will be my reviews.

Arnold Brooks KING UNCONSCIOUS (2006, 8 minutes, video): arcane.
Lisa Martin GARE D’AUSTERLITZ (2008, 10 minutes, video) is about a backpacker who becomes pregnant accidentally and loses her baby in the Gare D’Austerlitz. 15 years later she finds herself in the same train station, overwhelmed by memories—she is reminded of how entrapped she felt by the brief pregnancy and how liberated, calmed she felt once she loses the baby. I am pretty sure she is meant to be a feminist figure (the film is produced by Bitchgoddess films) but is this woman a feminist simply because she feels freed by a miscarriage? Is she a bitchgoddess?
Ann Husaini THE END OF MAGIC (2007, 16 minutes, 16mm) is about a mother (there is something disconcerting about the woman’s vivacity, religiosity from the beginning of the film) and her two young daughters who are on their way to an amusement park when their car breaks down. It becomes clear, as the mother is unable to deal with the increasingly stressful situation, that she is mentally ill, schizophrenic. I was feeling saddened by the oldest daughter’s nascent awareness of her mother’s sickness until the daughter says something like this: Daddy says if you took your pills you wouldn’t hear voices.
Nhieu Do CRY RIVER (2007, 20 minutes, video): problematic.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Reading Infinite Jest

I have been reading David Foster Wallace's Infinite Jest for about two weeks now. I am on page 156 out of 1079, including footnotes. The main thing that is tricky about reading is the book's size. I am used to carrying a book around to read while waiting for the G train and stuff, which is where I get most of my reading done. But even if my bag is empty except for this one book, the weight begins to feel like a burden after walking about two blocks with the thing hanging on my shoulder. At this point, my shoulder is actually sore, so the carrying of this books is becoming a bit of an ordeal.

Then there is actually trying to read the book. It is manageble to read while standing up, as if waiting for a train, for example, but I think there is nothing nerdier than holding your place on page 60 to flip the 1000+ pages to read a footnote about Monoamine-oxidase inhibitors (pg 994) (and struggling) in public. You begin to ask yourself, is it worth hefting this huge book out of my bag and finding my place to read only a few paragraphs (and probably getting a little confused...I find it hard to figure out what's going on if I start in the middle of section)? Also, you definitely need two hands to read the book, so if you are standing up on the subway, forget it.

Even if you are just sitting in a chair or reading before bed, the thing gets heavy, and its hard to keep up interest and/or morale.

Some pros of reading are: occasionally people recognize the cover and act impressed. I try not to show that I am really not that far along, so I can act smug and collecting my Literary Capital. Also, the more I get what is going on in the book, the easier it is to face the fact of spending the next several months reading only this book.

I will keep you posted on this project...

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Yoga Studios: A Comparative Study

I have been to two yoga studios since I moved to New York: Laughing Lotus (59 W. 19th) and Om Yoga (826 Broadway nr. Union Square). Laughing Lotus was the first studio I went to but once I found Om, I never went back to LL.

Om really is a jewel. It’s very accessible, conveniently located [for me] two blocks from Union Sq., right off the 4,5, 6, N, R, W and L trains and quite near Whole Foods, which is ideal for an after-yoga treat. It’s also really spacious for a New York City yoga studio—there are five classrooms, a sizable, very clean changing room, and numerous nooks to sit in while you wait for class to start—and the aesthetic is pleasing (lots of subdued, calming hues and no fluorescent lighting to be found!). Another really great thing about Om is the teachers. I haven't had one I really didn't like. I am particularly fond of Edward, Maja, and Sarah. A lot of people seem to like Brian and I understand why—he's friendly and he makes a concerted effort to learn each student's name but I sometimes feel like he really wants to be teaching aerobics and not yoga. And, I can’t forget to mention the class schedule, which is most ideal! There are a wide variety of classes, for all different levels/desires and at some really perfect times. The only negative thing about Om is the elevator—it’s really creepy and it feels like a miracle every time I make it to the sixth floor.

Laughing Lotus simply doesn’t measure up—it’s less accessible, very cramped with the teeniest dressing room, and there are only two classrooms which means less classes and a lesser chance you’ll find one to fit your schedule. They do leave out cookies though, so that’s nice and I did run into a friend from Sarah Lawrence there once, which was also nice. The aesthetic is okay—it’s a little too vibrant for my taste.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Away We Go

I really wanted to see Away We Go. I like just about everyone involved in this film, from Dave Eggers (screenwriter) to Sam Mendes (director) to John Krasinski (lead actor). Additionally, the film focuses on two of my favorite things: a couple in a long-term relationship and traveling around America. Combined with music from Alexi Murdoch and a cute indie aesthetic, how could this movie not be my favorite film of all time?

Well, I guess it was a little too me for me to enjoy it as much as I'd hoped. It was good, but it was also really predictable, and at times felt a little fake. Some moments were great, including turns by Melanie Lynskey and Chris Messina as parents with difficulty conceiving, and Krasinski at his most charming during a Casey Kasem impression, but the film fell flat an awful lot, and I came away a little disappointed. Roger said, "It was like a sequel to Garden State," and while I really hated Garden State and more or less enjoyed this, I can see his point. They both focus on finding home in a world where you've been lost for some time, and they both have really good soundtracks. Maybe at this point in my life, I'm more about embracing being lost than about trying to find a way out of it.

In any event, I'd recommend checking it out, but maybe not at a really expensive theatre. The theatre we saw it at, Cobble Hill Cinemas, was amazing. At only $6.50 for matinees or Tuesday/Thursday showings, the price can't be beat, and you get to see an amazing opening before the film starts, which reminded me of the drive-in theatre we used to go to when I was a little kid.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

ice cream in greenpoint

I hope there is more ice cream in Greenpoint then this, but this is all I have been able to find! Mr. Softee used to come by a lot (judging from the frequency of hearing the music) but since I have been fixated on eating ice cream all the time, I have not once heard the Mr. Softee tune.

View ice cream in greenpoint in a larger map

1. Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory, 97 Commercial St., at the very end of Manhattan Ave.
I love Blue Marble more than this place but convenience and oddness of location do have some appeal. Comparing to the DUMBO location, this one is downright odd, in this somewhat deserted tip of Greenpoint, right near the Newtown Creek park where you can sit and see the sunset behind the Manhattan skyline. There is also a feral cat colony in a nearby vacant lot, and a movie set that is being built -- seems to be some kind of minature carnival or something. The huge drawback here is that it is only open Thursday - Sunday, and the main times I want ice cream are Monday night, Tuesday night, and Wednesday night.

2. Corner Frenzy a.k.a M & W Laundromat, 995 Manhattan Ave, at Huron St.
This take-out window has a sign out front that boats something like 24 flavors of softserve plus 1.50 for chocolate and vanilla plus free chocolate or strawberry dip coating. Now, it isn't exactly appetizing to watch them mix the regular white softserve with flavor syrup and squish it back through the machine onto the cone, and it kind of made my stomach hurt later, but at least it is open every night of the week. Plus I think you can actually buy other types of food and it is actually a laundromat.

View across Newtown Creek while eating your ice cream