Tuesday, February 28, 2012

L.A. Sign Of The Times #96

I found this painted on a wall a few blocks from where I live. Which is obviously not Beverly Hills. Times are tough, not everyone can afford to take an ad out on Craig's List.

I think the drawing of the stove is what would convince me to buy.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Top 10 Movies of 2011

Every year my comedian and film critic friend Gariana Abeyta (that's her on the left, squinting through a rifle scope taking aim at a coyote. Or an agent. Same thing) does her Top 10 Movies list. Let us know what you think of the list and direct all hostile comments to Gariana. And all compliments directly to me. Her best picture Oscar goes to The Artist.

This may shock you, but 2011 was an excellent year for films. Let me rephrase that, an excellent year for “smaller” films. Foreign and art house fare flourished while Hollywood struggled like Justin Bieber’s siblings trying to get their parents’ attention. You had to dig deep and get dirty this year, frequenting shady and neglected venues where story and substance still reign. But don’t worry, the juggernaut that is the 2012 Hollywood line-up includes, The Avengers, Brave, The Dark Knight Rises, The Hobbit, Prometheus, Django Unchained, The Hunger Games, and World War Z. By the time they’re done with you, you’re going to feel like you were an extra in Shame.

 Let me address one thing really quickly, you won’t be seeing The Descendants on this list. I’m calling shenanigans on that shit! I’ll suspend disbelief as far as you need me to when watching a film. I believed a man could fly; I believed a monkey from Skull Island could trample New York and climb the Empire State building. I watched Braveheart and believed that Mel Gibson was a good person. I will, however, only go so far: nobody would cheat on George Clooney. Nobody. You lost me at frame one, Alexander Payne.

These aren’t in any particular order and as always Suzy, thank you for having me back.

1. Bullhead – Every single one of us is given obstacles in life and not every one of us is given the tools to overcome those obstacles. For me that’s what Bullhead was about at its core. An absolutely jaw dropping performance from Matthias Schoenaerts also didn’t hurt. I’ve never seen anybody pull off being so terrifying and vulnerable at the same time. He also gained 50 pounds for the role. Which means you will also be able to find show times for Bullhead by Googling, “things Hollywood has never asked an actress to do.” Belgium’s 2011 nomination for best foreign film and you shouldn’t miss it.

2. Hugo - Let me start by telling you what Hugo isn’t, a children’s film, as a woefully bad advertising campaign would lead you to believe. Martin Scorsese sat down and wrote a love letter to his first true love… cinema. About halfway through the movie you realize that it’s a gorgeous missive not only to cinema, but also to one of it’s greatest pioneers, George Melies. Bonus points for the casting of Sacha Baron Cohen.

3. Terri – If I told you that Terri was about a High School kid that easily weighs 250 pounds, has zero friends and wears pajamas everywhere, would you still go? You’re a freaking weirdo. I love you.

4. A Separation – When I saw A Separation the old people behind me wouldn’t stop talking about bathroom tiles. What does this have to do with the film? Nothing. They sure were passionate about tile though. I imagined the guy with the bushiest mustache trying to talk everybody into going to Home Depot after the film for some senior citizen hip dysplasia rattling funzies. A Separation will win the Oscar™ for Best Foreign Film. 

5. Drive – Besides the fact that Albert Brooks was flat out robbed of an Oscar™ nomination I just realized that I have not one, but two films on my list that has a guy beating another guy to death with a hammer! You wanna hang out? No seriously, we should hang out.

 6. Midnight In Paris – The only thing Woody Allen does better than making films is making family gatherings awkward. Because let’s be honest, if he decides to make your family gathering awkward it’s going to be like watching the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel being painted.

 7. Rise of the Planet of the Apes – I’m a huge fan of the original Planet of the Apes. So much so that I was vehemently against this prequel. But I couldn’t have been more wrong. It not only honored the original, it made it better. I loved this movie.

 8. Attack the Block - If Attack The Block was a horse then Hollywood, in their infinite wisdom, would have shot it. Little did they realize they would have been killing Seabiscuit. It not only has no stars, but all of the actors are first timers who are teenagers or younger. If you add that it’s a low budget special effects film with a first time director you can watch the eyes of Hollywood agents gloss over in the same way they do when they find out someone is forty. How great is Attack The Block? It’s so good that it’s actually possible to close your eyes and pretend Joe Cornish had nothing to do with Tintin.  

 9. I Saw The Devil - What if you discovered that you were capable of far worse than the serial killer rapist who murdered someone you love? What if you had the potential to make his best efforts look like adolescent fumbling in the dark?

 10. The Artist -

Tout aussi honoré films comprennent:
Equally honored films include:

War Horse, Another Earth, Marwencol, Rango, Rubber, Moneyball, Shame, Hanna, 13 Assassins, Cave of Forgotten Dreams, The Tree of Life.

P.S. You can follow Suzy on twitter at @hotcomestodie and you can find me @garianaabeyta, unless you don’t like laughing, then you should follow @osamabinladen


Thursday, February 16, 2012

May We All Dress This Fabulously When We're Older

UPDATE: The lady in the red and black dress with matching red and black hat, Zelda Kaplan, died yesterday. She was 95. We should all look so good when we go...

I'm crazy mad for this film. Courtesy of Advanced Style.


"I'm between 50 and death."

"Up until 80 you lie, after 80 you brag."

Monday, February 13, 2012

Look Homeward, Angel

No one should have a local homeless man but in big cities, that's often the case. I only lived in the neighborhood a month before I saw him, sitting and leaning against a wall. His head usually lowered, a blue knit hat on his head. He didn't beg for money. If he was looking up, I said hello. He would nod back and sometimes choke out a word. I think it was Hello but I can't be sure.

One day I asked him if I could buy him breakfast at McDonald's, which was across the street. He said yes but didn't tell me what he wanted. So I asked if I could get him what I got myself and he nodded. Didn't he know what was at McDonald's? Or was he too proud to tell me what he wanted? Afraid it would be too much?

After that day, I became very aware of how often I walked by him. Was I supposed to buy him a meal each time? Coffee?  If I'd had the money, I would have bought him food every time I saw him. But I didn't. And when you're down on your luck, what do you offer someone else down on theirs? My recent financial situation had been shaky and I no longer thought my hellos were enough. So every now and then I crossed the street before I got to him. Or cut through a parking lot to avoid seeing him. I was ashamed that I couldn't help this man because I had to help myself first. It bothered me every time. I felt horrible and hated myself on the days I ignored a man so down on his luck that he sat in the same place each day, head lowered, waiting for what? My hello? Any hello? A sandwich?

And then one day a month ago I saw this:
I live in a Hispanic neighborhood and like the ancient Egyptians, they believe you need to leave food, water and light to guide the deceased to their final destination. I completely lost it when I saw this makeshift memorial. He was found by the manager of the McDonald's, who had come over to offer him a cup of coffee. The police came. The ambulance came. It was all over.

A man walked by and saw how distraught I was and he said he was too. That he passed the man for months and never said a word to him until a few days before he died. He asked him how he ended up on the street and the man replied he had come to California to better his life. I cried the entire way home.

This is what remained of his things:
 The last possessions of a man who was lost in Los Angeles. And in the world. The memorial is still there, the candles lit every night by some thoughtful people trying to guide his soul home. If he had no family, no identification, where would he be buried? Who would take care of his affairs? Or did he have any to take care of? So this memorial may be all he ever receives. All that marks his place on earth. At least until he returns in another lifetime.

I hope he sees it and knows how sorry I am, how sorry we all are. And that we hope he's at peace.

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

The Cool Cars Of Santa Monica, California

Santa Monica: It's all about the designer sunglasses you wear, the private schools your kids go to and how tight your jeans are. And if you don't have the black Birkin bag? Tragedy! But this is the land of the upper middle class, the rich and the very wealthy.They have stuff. LOTS of expensive stuff. Including cars.

Over Super Bowl weekend I saw these beauties standing silent on the street, waiting for instructions.

A truck from the 60's? The inside is black leather and when's the last time you saw white walls? I have no idea what that silver tank-like item is that hugs the back window. I hope it's not a nuclear bomb. I've often loitered beside the truck, hoping the owner would come out and tell me to stop breathing on it, but alas, no such luck.

I'd be scared of these people if I didn't seriously think they owned the Hello Kitty franchise.

The license plate reads MPATHY. Something no one has for a person who drives a Mercedes for the love of God. I only noticed this car because it's the same color as my 1998 Ford Contour. I was so ahead of the color curve. And way behind the Mercedes curve.

This car is sitting on Adelaide, long considered one of the wealthiest streets in all of Santa Monica. It's around the corner from my sister's building, on a one way street that is mostly used by runners, dog walkers and the people who live there. It's peaceful, quiet and has spectacular views. The houses are all architecturally different, old but fabulous and overlooking the Pacific Ocean. But how this station wagon got here tells me someone is either A. Very old   B. Very, very old.  C. Visiting from 1982.

Some of the homes on Adelaide:

The house below was so big I couldn't get it into one shot.

You can see my sister Lindy's building off to the right below.

 When the recession was in full swing, about two years ago, a family on Adelaide lost their home. They moved into a van and parked on isolated streets at night. It was the talk of the neighborhood because, ON ADELAIDE??

These are all Old Money homes. There are grander, newer homes in Brentwood or Beverly Hills but it's all Nouveau Money and you know how much we hate Nouveau Money. Although I could use some Nouveau Money right about now. Don't hate me, have MPATHY for my bank account.

Thursday, February 02, 2012

L.A. Sign Of The Times #95

I'm fairly certain this resonates with a lot of people:

I know because down in the lower left hand corner, someone tried to steal it by pulling off the paper.

Santa Monica Blvd
Hollywood, California