December 06, 2004

Inspiring Thirst

I think I ♥ Huckabees is a movie that you either love or you hate. I am firmly in the former category, and not just because of my years in therapy neither. When Aimee and I went to go see it at the Parkway Wednesday night I started grinning with delight about five seconds in and didn't stop for the duration of the film. Jason Schwartzman as young Albert Markovski is an idealistic environmental activist who is plagued by a coincidence and enlists the help of existential detectives Dustin Hoffman and Lily Tomlin to help him figure out its significance, but it isn't long before he is sidetracked by the rival philosophies of sex bomb Isabelle Huppert. If this all sounds a little vague and oblique, it's absolutely meant to be. Huckabees reminded me a lot of Waking Life, only funnier and more accessible. Jude Law and Naomi Watts also turn in ace performances, he as a negotiator who can never be anything but charming and she as a girl who can never be anything but pretty. Just wait until their realities start to be dismantled by the detectives.

The next evening Dan and Carol and I wrapped up our time with the Corleone family with a viewing of The Godfather, Part III at my place. It wasn't nearly bad as I was expecting it to be after all the horrible press my friends had given me about it, but at the same time it was unsurprisingly nowhere near as good as the first two. Sofia Coppola was terrible, yes, but I don't think the role of Mary has much going for it, period. She's just there to give her parents something to cry about in the penultimate scene, and because Al Pacino and Diane Keaton are great actors we actually feel something as they scream. Bay Area residents: watch for the cameo by Willie Brown, the slickster politician himself, in the party scene near the beginning.

I arrived at New Langton Arts on Saturday shortly after they opened for the day, and they were still hanging the pieces for Creature Comfort, this year's permutation on their annual auction. The work on sale is always top-notch, and a few years back I was overcome by impulse and bid on a few pieces that I (mercifully for my pocketbook) did not win. This time I came to preview the art simply as a spectator. Many of the pieces didn't have their labels up yet, but I picked out gorgeous photographs by Larry Schwarm, Michael Light, Doug Hall, and Todd Hido as a few of my favorites. Other notable works included one of Shaun O'Dell's mystical diagrams, Laurie Reid's delicate splots of color, and a set of pencil-sketched stage designs by Robert Wilson.

From New Langton I headed over to the SF Arts Commission Gallery for Meat Show, an exhibit curated by local artist Kara Maria. As the name implies, the entire show is organized around the theme of meat. You've got your meat paintings, your meat photography, your meat sculpture, your meat performance art. I am happily omnivorous, but despite the relatively cheerful presentation taken all together it was enough to turn my stomach. I did think Jeanne Friscia's c-prints of digitally kaleidoscoped steak and salmon were serenely beautiful, as were Laura Dufort's blood-red paintings, which in turn contrasted nicely with Laura Splan's wallpaper patterns traced in real blood. But it was when I came to Splan's unforgiving photographs of dissected cats that I just couldn't stay in the gallery much longer.

Later that evening I calmed my sensibilities at Cody's with a reading by Kermit Lynch from his new book Inspiring Thirst. Lynch's wine shop in Berkeley sits right next to Cafe Fanny and Acme Bread, forming a holy triad of local Berkeley goodness. Inspiring Thirst is a selection of the newsletters he has sent out over the years informing clients of new bottles he has brought back from France, as well as opinions on a variety of wine-related topics. After listening to him talk for an hour I was ready to rush right over to his shop and pick out a random selection just to see what he thinks he is good. He had also brought a few bottles of his own French vintage for the audience to taste, but I abstained so as not to activate the deadly combo of my empty stomach and my notoriously lightweight constitution.


The Huckabees Corporation
The Godfather, Part III
New Langton Arts
San Francisco Arts Commission Gallery
Cody's Books
Kermit Lynch

Posted by nightfall at December 6, 2004 09:20 PM