DOG DAY AFTERNOON [1975] review

October 24, 2006

dog day afternoon screenshot

I’ve been waiting for an afternoon with ample free time and also a certain terse mood to watch DOG DAY AFTERNOON. I suddenly realized that the conditions were just right this very afternoon, it was raining, I had no lessons, and I had the time. So I settled in knowing the film would be about a bank robbery gone wrong. I was expecting it to be a bigger scope for some reason, maybe something more like HEAT, but instead it was quite intimate, and casual.

I was very surprised by the role of the media in the film. … A very, very young looking Al Pacino appears calm for only the very first few minutes of the movie. As soon as it’s time, he rips open a box of flowers that actually contains a rifle, but it was the struggle to simple just open the box itself I think was foreshadowing to the trouble to come.

…I couldn’t believe the things they did, liking talking face-to-face OUTSIDE the bank in the middle of the street! But Al Pacino’s character is very smart, the more the movie progresses the smarter you realize he is, not simply a mini-ball of fitfull spastic energy.

…The biggest would be how the media played a part in the perpetuating of the crime. … How much people just wanted to be a part of what was happening, so they could say they were a celebrity. Nowadays, this wouldn’t surprise me at all as so many have found so many ways to grab a few moments of fame.

…The hostages weren’t secured at all, but allowed to roam freely, make phone calls, even flirt. And there were absolutely no heroes among them, as it would have been almost effortless to thwart the hostage situation from the inside.

…I mentioned the movie felt intimate, lending to this was the total absence of any musical score. No false drama created by music, only by the well-written script and the way Pacino can deliver dialogue. … Save this movie for the right afternoon, and you’ll feel like you’re right in the bank too.

A return to Shinjuku Gyoen, & the City

October 22, 2006

After 7 months away, which shocked when I calculated how long it had been, I returned to Shinjuku Gyoen. I took off my shoes and put my bare feet against the same stone I have many times before. This time I just brushed my eyes over the lily-covered pond, listened to what some birds were saying, and watched hopefully for a turtle to pop its head above water. One did. This pleased me.

Later this evening I walked in my city, Shinjuku, and a parade of peculiarity was on display. Such is life in the city. Some things I saw: A man in a suit cocking his head very queerly and standing in the middle of a minor street, who drew the stares of a young couple; two homeless men sleeping in the middle of the afternoon under a blanket by the entrance of Shinjuku Gyoen, they laid side-by-side, like an old married couple on a winter night, but it was broad daylight, and hundreds of people were walking right by them, around their blanket lay more food wrappers and cans than I consume myself in a day, so they didn’t seem to lack for food and drink; I saw a pretty j-girl sit next to her obese j-girl friend letting her smoke on her, which disappointed me as I fancied her from seeing her earlier; saw a construction worker pop out of a hidden door at 10:30pm, still hard at work.

As I walked home, PJ Harvey said to me:

The whores hustle, and the hustlers whore, too many people are out of love . . . .

The song reached its crescendo as I strode across the very wide street Ome Kaido one of 300 people crossing the street between skyscrapers and an aquarium of neon, the timing of the song and the location were so perfect it gave me chills. I wanted to just vanish . . . .

HALF NELSON [2006] review

October 22, 2006

Mr. Dunn, a young, hipster 8th grade history teacher has great ideals and a liberal upbringing, so why is he a “basehead?” HALF NELSON didn’t explain that to me at all, but it didn’t stop me from having an immediate emotional connection with the movie. A very low budget independent film set in an inner city New York school follows the daily process of Dunn, which seems to be wake up grudgingly, feed his cat (if he remembers), drag his carcass into the classroom, then somehow talk passionately about history, change and dialectics. He makes no attempt to put on a professional facade for his students, and I think that let’s them relate to him.

One student in particular, Dre, a 13 year old girl, seems to need a friend just as bad Dunn needs one too. Dre is black, Dunn is white. Neither seem to fit in so well with their peers. So a semi-uneasy friendship builds throughout the movie, despite early on Dre finding out her teacher smokes crack. I think this someone gives him credit in her eyes, making it easier for her to befriend him, as her own brother is locked up for some unspecified drug related crime. Making it all the more peculiar is a family friend of Dre is Dunn’s drug supplier!

Dunn doesn’t want Dre to fall victim to the Game, but his words have little weight since he’s a user. But, it seems there is no need to worry about her as she seems to know how to save them both. I was never fearful of an ill ending, but it still didn’t lesson the impact of the final shot of the movie. I still smiled and felt glad that they had each other as friends.

"Jack says . . . "

October 11, 2006

  • written where: Akasaka-Mitsuke, Tokyo, Japan
  • where exactly: the foot of the Prudential Building
  • written with: pen & notebook
  • when: Wednesday October 11, 2006 — 5:55pm

Jack says we are born to die,

I’m vexed by masses of molecules mixed together reflecting light back to my brain.

Long do I stare at them looking for cracks.

Looking for a way IN.

To find a way OUT.

KOFU, Yamanashi Prefecture — Day 2

October 8, 2006

The line was already pretty big 15 minutes before the bus’ departure time causing me to worry a little if I’d even make this bus.

…The bus actually goes all the way to the top of the gorge, which some weaklings stay on until, so that they can walk downhill the whole time. Since I am of course a Man, I got off at the foot of the gorge, took my camera out of my bag, donned my trusty Mountain Hardwear charcoal gray Big Shade hiking hat, secured Dana to my back, and set off.

…Some dismay passed over me though when I saw that a paved road with a fence along its edge seemed to wind up and and up without break. … However, my fears were soon belayed as not only was there a break in the fence, but also a path leading down to the stream still bent on carving the gorge deeper into the earth. … So many that after thoroughly exploring each one, in an hour’s time I had made minimal progress up the road to the waterfall awaiting at the top of the gorge.

…As I surveyed the gorge from within it, plotting my next leap, the “World Class Rock Hopper” breathed the crisp air, listened to the story of the stream, and made many insect friends (praying mantis, spider, grasshopper, caterpillar). … Broke my own rule of never stepping on anything green, but since it was a minor step, I didn’t pay it much mind.

…To the right you can see me seated upon a huge (unseen) boulder that took a good bit of pre-thought to figure out how to mount. … I was a day removed from my apartment, so I didn’t have one of my world class sandwiches with me, so I instead had to dine on inari, raisins, and a Soy Joy bar.

…In total, I explored fully at least 80% of the gorge, only passing on a few paths due them not looking so interesting and minor time constraints. As according to my map I left the “road” and headed onto the “hiking trail,” the only thing that changed was that the width of the paved road narrowed a bit. … I have beheld many waterfalls in my travels, and this was too far removed from the closest viewing point to offer any kind of impressive feelings (one of the best was on Koh Chang, Thailand).

…I am all about contrasts, and after spending the afternoon deep in a gorge, it felt good to be on the top of a mountain.

…I thought my adventure was done, but as I waited impatiently for the bus, I used my will to power to setup a share taxi with a fufu, costing only marginally more than the bus would have. … As the mountain road was damn narrow and the driver was constantly looking in the back seat to talk to the other ojisan pointing out peculiar looking rock formations (a helmet, daibutsu) causing the taxi to veer slightly off the road on more than one occasion, I made sure that my own seatbelt was snugly buckled in.

…The girl sitting next to me on the bus could surprisingly speak English and we ended up playing my DS nearly the whole 2 hour 15 minute ride back to Shinjuku.

KOFU, Yamanashi Prefecture — Day 1

October 7, 2006

A rare 3-day weekend completely off for me was approaching, and I certainly did not want to spend it in the City. So using my trusty Travel-Guide Japan website, I almost immediately came up with a plan to go explore a gorge in Kofu, Yamanashi Prefecture. I booked myself a two-night stay at a Toyoko Inn for a reasonable price, checked the train schedule and was ready to go.

…I couldn’t do much at first as I had to wait to check-in to my room at 4pm. So I stashed one heavy bag at the hotel, then took the other one with me to check out Maizurujo Park (Kofu Castle). At first it reminded me of my very first day in Japan way back in August of 2000, when I was in Fukuoka and saw my very first castle park. … The Kofu one was interesting for about 15 minutes, and after cloud watching grew old, I left to get some bus information from the tourist desk at the train station that I should have done when I first arrived actually. … The lady at the bus info desk was equally friendly, also pointing out movie theaters on a map for me and carefully telling me which bus I needed to take.

I tracked down the movie theaters, but wasn’t sure if I’d actually go see one. Swung back to my hotel and got my room key and was pleased to find a very clean room, albeit small, but with a washlette so it was allll good.

…Ate a very tasty 3-stack of pancakes with blueberries served by an average yet pretty waitress because she had a warm and coy smile and we chatted a bit. … I asked her to clarify the menu which said you can only get pancakes after 12pm. … I gave her a playful WTF look, but I doubt the queerness of this reversal of foods and mealtimes was apparent to her.

…Then popped into an Au shop and chatted it up with an Au staff dude about “style up” covers for my new kei-tai (cell phone). … Then walking again and pass some semi-pretty breeested local j-girl and give her a smile which she returns. … The k-dude was very friendly and spoke in a mix of fast Japanese and Korean to which I always replied hai, hai as I always do pretending I can understand.

…Next on the agenda find a hipster cafe in which to write what I am only now writing from my hotel room, which tells you I couldn’t find one.