SIFF reviews and more bus talk

Took a day off last week, and hopped the bus downtown in the morning to take in a SIFF media screening of “The Great Buck Howard.” The draw for me was mainly the cast: Colin Hanks, Tom Hanks, John Malkovich and Emily Blunt. I was a bit bored during the film, though I thought both of the Hanks and Malkovich did a good job with what they were given. The plot, in short, is that Colin Hanks is a law-school student who has dreams of being a writer. He drops out of law school and takes a job as the road manager for “The Great Buck Howard” (Malkovich). Howard is a “mentalist” whose main claim to fame is that he was on the “Late Show With Johnny Carson” like 60 times. The film follows Howard as he does shows around the country. I decided later that it was either truly a boring film, or so deep and metaphorical that it was over my head and I didn’t get it. I’m scratching my head a bit over the Seattle Times’ critic’s review of the film in the Times’ SIFF blog; the woman said she predicted it would be audience favorite, and also called it “short, snappy, and unexpectedly sweet.” Well…. OK! We’ll see what the public thinks.

Saw a couple more SIFF films over the weekend — “Man on Wire” was a fascinating documentary about French high-wire artist/tightrope walker Philippe Petit, who put up a tightrope between NYC’s Twin Towers and walked across it in August 1974. The film tells of his early days getting into his passion, but mainly focuses on the planning of his big feat, his accomplices (it was, of course, completely illegal) and how everything went down in the end. The film was successful largely due to the unique nature of its topic, along with the sparkling charisma of Petit and everyone else involved. It was really, really eerie to see the footage of the Towers being built, though, knowing what was in store for them some 30 years later. Too bad the documentarian never asked the film’s subjects to speak on that. Anyway, Petit was arrested immediately after his feat — after going between the towers eight times — and the film’s title comes from a phrase written in the arresting report.

The other movie I saw was “Be Like Others,” a documentary about Iranian men who are gay (though they carefully skirt around that label; they claim to be women inside men’s bodies, basically) and undergo gender reassignment surgery to reveal their “true selves,” as homosexuality is punishable by death in Iran. It was quite sad to see the process these young men (mainly in their early to mid 20s) go through. Most have no support from their families — one was nearly poisoned to death by his father — and are disowned by their parents after the surgery. Post-operation, one “woman” told of how she had to do “business” (aka prostitution) to make money. When the interviewer asked if she ever thought she’d fall in love she said “No. I’ve killed all the love in my heart.” Truly heartbreaking. But … I guess that’s the price they pay if they want to become their “true self.” One funny part was when one of them talked about how he heard (and this is my best paraphrase here) “they [gay/transsexual people] can do anything they want in America. But getting it from behind is still wrong.” That got a good laugh from the crowd.

Got in some hiking (St. Ed’s) yesterday with Chrissy, and then some tennis with Anuja right after. It ended up being a pretty gorgeous day, but it was windy, and this white cotton-type stuff was coming off trees everywhere — it looked like it was snowing! I must admit I was kinda glad to get indoors in the early evening so my allergies could subside.

So I’m trying to take the bus a lot more these days when I have the time to, just because it’s more relaxing and of course, saves on gas/parking money and hassle. Plus, I have a free bus pass from work. On Wednesday, when I went to the screening downtown, a woman across the aisle from me was cutting her nails; it was really grossing me out. Every time I heard that “click,” I almost physically cringed. She cut them for like 20 minutes, and then stopped. But about five minutes later…it started again! Yew. Then there was this other guy on another bus I rode who was blasting his Discman (yes, Discman) really loudly, and said “Hi!” to every person who got on the bus. The two screenings I went to over the weekend were at the Egyptian on Capitol Hill. It was my first time taking the bus over there, and though I had to take two buses, it only took about half an hour total. After the last screening, I decided to walk several blocks down Broadway and do some window shopping. Once I got to the end of Broadway’s main drag, I approached a construction area (not a rare thing on Capitol Hill right now!). I saw one of those temporary bus-stop markers — the short, bright-orange stantion thing with a white sign on top that said “Bus only.” Now, I’ve never stood at one of those temp. stops before, but the thought did cross my mind that maybe it was a bus layover area, and not an actual stop. That thinking was confirmed when a few minutes later, the bus I wanted breezed on by me. Whoops! So I walked back another block and found the true stop, which was unfortunately right outside this Pho restaurant that was loudly blasting top 40 hip-hop/R&B. Lovely.

Anyway, that’s the recap on recent events. Tonight I’m seeing “The Incredible Hulk,” which I’m cautiously optimistic about…


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