May 30, 2005

The Perfect View

I'm sorry, I didn't mean to stay away for so long. I've just been a little distracted.

Wednesday evening Aimee and I drove to the Parkway to see Kung Fu Hustle. I had already seen it on DVD a couple months ago at Dan and Carol's house, but it was tons of fun to see it on a big screen with the rowdy Parkway crowd. Writer/director/star Stephen Chow takes classic Bruce-Lee-style kung fu and throws it in a blender with some crazy props, The Matrix Reloaded, gang members in top hats, and a healthy dose of slapstick. You can only imagine the ensuing lunacy. Qiu Yuen deserves special mention for her portrayal of the landlady of Pig Sty Alley, more threatening with rollers in her hair and a cigarette dangling from her lips than the baddies that threaten the inhabitants of her housing development.

Sometimes I wish I could bust out the kung fu moves at work to relieve some of my stress, but instead I go for long walks at lunch and look at art. Thursday I padded up to 49 Geary to check out Ralph Eugene Meatyard's photographs at Fraenkel Gallery. Meatyard's beautiful black-and-white pictures of abandoned houses, tree branches, and human figures seem to have been taken in another world where objects blur out of focus and children strike eerie poses. I especially liked the photos with architectural framing elements such as window panes and doorways. In one of them a boy lies on the ground with his arms spread wide below a window, shafts of light falling on the floor around him, while another boy looks on from a nearby stairwell. It's impossible not to want to create a story for such a carefully-composed image.

There was more surreal imagery for me later that evening as I finished up season 2 of The Sopranos on DVD, especially in the last episode with its extended dream sequences intended to show that Tony's subconscious is trying to tell him something. My only beef with The Sopranos is that the psychology is a little too "pop" for my tastes, and that Dr. Melfi is perhaps the worst shrink ever. Otherwise I'm hardly the first person to note that the writing and direction is consistently top-notch. Just don't get too attached to any of the characters. I didn't take my own advice and was left a little weepy at the end.

The view from BART on the ride into the city in no way rivals the opening sequence of The Sopranos, but I enjoy it nonetheless. Saturday morning I took a train into the Mission to soak up San Francisco's version of Carnaval, a weekend-long celebration of culture, music, dancing, arts and crafts, community, and food. I wandered at a leisurely pace from one end of Harrison to the other, pausing to sample the delicious foodstuffs or to watch the performers.

After I'd had my fill of ladies in feathered headdresses, I walked up to Mission to peek at the Spiritus Mundi show at Lola Gallery. I was incredibly impressed with the space, a large converted apartment/office in which each room features just one or two artists, making for a very pleasant discovery process as you wander around. The art on display seemed to be concerned with nature themes, whether it was Francis Baker's living plant sculptures or Ian Sheldon's oil paintings of stormy skies or Youn Woo Cha's woven rattan portraits. The gallery is also a design showcase, with furniture and art carefully arranged to complement each other. Utterly enchanting.


Kung Fu Hustle
Fraenkel Gallery
The Sopranos
Carnaval San Francisco 2005
Spiritus Mundi

Posted by nightfall at May 30, 2005 09:02 PM