erik lundegaard

Thursday September 18, 2014

Women in Cinema: SIFF Trailer

I don't know who created this trailer for the “Women in Cinema” series from SIFF (Seattle International Film Festival) but they know what they're doing. I saw it the other night at a showing of “Sagrada” at SIFF Uptown and was blown away. It made me wish I was around this weekend (the series is from Sept. 18-21), but I'll be at the Port Townsend Film Festival with friends—one of whom, a woman in cinema, is showing her documentary “The Only Real Game,” about the popularity of baseball in Manipur, a border state in northeast India. 

Lynn Shelton's new movie, “Laggies,” is premiering tonight at the reborn Egyptian on Capitol Hill. Jeff Wells, who hasn't been a huge fan of Shelton's previous work (“Humpday,” etc.), thinks it's her breakout movie

Posted at 05:25 AM on Sep 18, 2014 in category Trailers
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Wednesday September 17, 2014

Just How Bad are the 2014 Yankees?

The following stats are via Katie Sharp at “It's About the Money,” a Yankees blog:

  • For the first time in nearly 25 years, the Yankees will not have a player with more than 5.0 WAR, a mark that is considered the threshold for a “Superstar” player.
  • For the first time since 1968, the Yankees are not likely to have a player with 75 RBI.
  • For the first time since 1968, the Yankees probably won’t have a player with an average of .280 or better qualify for the batting title (Ellsbury is the leader at .273).
  • Entering this week the Yankees leader in OPS+ ... was Gardner at 118, meaning his OPS is 18 percent better than today’s average player. If that holds, it would be just the second season in the last 100 years that the Yankees did not have a player qualify for the batting title with an OPS+ of 120 or higher.

When you think about it, it's rather amazing the Yankees even have a winning record.

But don't worry, Katie, you'll get your superstar next year. A-Rod's due back, right?

Sad Yankees fan

2014: The year of the sad Yankees fan.

Posted at 12:16 PM on Sep 17, 2014 in category Yankees Suck
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Movie Review: Love Is Strange (2014)

WARNING: SPOILERS

Near the end of “Love Is Strange,” the slice-of-life indie directed by Ira Sachs, George (Alfred Molina), the longtime companion and new husband of Ben (John Lithgow), critiques a student’s classical music performance thus: “When a piece is that romantic, there’s no need to embellish it.”

He could be describing the movie.

Ben and George, a painter and a music instructor, have been living together for decades. As the movie opens (on a stockinged foot at the end of the bed), they are getting ready for another day. Ben slumps into the shower, they dress (necktie for George, bowtie for Ben), Ben can’t find his glasses. They talk to the housekeepers (Two of them? Are they preparing for a party?), then try to flag a cab on the streets of Manhattan. “We’ll have better luck on 6th,” George says. Love Is StrangeAnd off they go. To? A wedding. Theirs. It’s both another day and their wedding day. It’s a moment of triumph and celebration. Short-lived, it turns out.

George, you see, is a music instructor at Saint Grace Academy, where most folks, including Father Raymond (John Cullum), know he’s gay, know he lives with Ben, don’t care. But gay marriage? That’s toxic. Or political. And somehow (New York Times wedding page, maybe?) the Bishop finds out and George is fired. As a result, he and Ben can no longer afford to live where they live. As a result, they are forced to live apart.

The dramatist’s dilemma isn’t how to bring the lovers together but how to keep them apart for 90 minutes. Sachs’ approach here is novel. He keeps the lovers apart by marrying them.

No place
Question: Once it becomes apparent that the sale of their apartment won’t net them the income they need, why not just take the Poughkeepsie option? That’s where Ben’s niece, the brassy Mindy (Christina Kirk), lives, and she has room for both of them. But it’s not Manhattan. And the folks we saw at the wedding—friends and family—decide Ben and George need to live in Manhattan. So they divvy them up: George goes with the gay cops downstairs, Ben with his nephew Elliot (Darren E. Burrows of “Northern Exposure”), and his family—novelist wife Kate (Marisa Tomei), teenage son Joey (Charlie Tahan)—across town. Ben gets the bottom bunk in Joey’s room. Tensions quickly fester.

Joey no longer has space, Kate no longer has space. (Tomei is excellent at being just this side of awful.) At first Ben is oblivious—going on and on in the living room as Kate tries to work on her second novel—and then painfully aware. He walks on metaphoric tiptoes. He paints on the roof of the apartment building, using Joey’s friend, Vlad (Eric Tabach), as a model, but this only makes Joey angry. When he comes home at night, Elliot and Kate are talking quietly (privately) in the living room, so he ducks into the bedroom—where Joey, hanging with Vlad, yells at him for not knocking. He has no place.

Neither does George. He’s with the hunky cops who are always partying, and he’s not a partier. One night he turns up rain-soaked at Elliot and Kate’s. For a moment, everyone’s surprised. Then he falls into Ben’s arms and sobs. It’s a powerful beautiful scene, and, per the above quote, unembellished. It just happens. It reveals, retroactively, all the tension and loneliness he’s feeling.

The movie is full of this kind of humanity. Another scene I loved: Joey and Ben talking at night in the bunkbeds. Joey, a kid without many friends, is still slightly angry at Ben, and possibly feeling guilty, too. Before going to bed, trying better to understand him maybe, Ben asks Joey if he’s ever been in love. Joey talks of seeing this girl on vacation one summer. He never spoke with her, he just saw her. She saw him, too. That seems key for him: being seen. He knows she lives in the city, too. “You should say hello,” Ben says matter-of-factly. That’s it. No resolution, no obvious epiphany. Just an ordinary scene that feels like everything.

Every place
Sachs, who co-wrote the movie with Mauricio Zacharias (“Madame Satã”), has a nice habit of transitioning weeks or months ahead without explanation. We figure it out by and by. Oh, they’re going to their wedding. Oh, Ben is living with them. The ending is this way, too.

After George finds them a nice, rent-controlled apartment, he and Ben celebrate at a local bar. They talk, comfortably. They walk down the street, comfortably, until they’re out of sight. You think that might be the end, but no. They talk before Ben takes the subway home. Apparently they haven’t moved in yet. Then we fade to black. Is that the end?

No. We see Joey waiting outside their new apartment, and George takes him upstairs. Joey admires the place, then apologizes for not being at the service. Service? Yes. Ben’s. Joey brings out a painting, Ben’s last, the one with Vlad on the rooftop, and he helps George hang it. Then he leaves. On the stairs down, he breaks down. Is he thinking about how he wasn’t that nice to his Uncle Ben at the end? How he called Vlad “gay” for posing for him? Or maybe he’s just feeling all that he’s lost? After 30 seconds or so, an eternity of screentime, he starts walking again, and one assumes that’s the end. No. The final scenes are Joey riding his skateboard around the more picturesque, treelined streets of Manhattan with a girl. The girl? The vacation girl? Did he finally say hello? Who knows? But at least he’s finally said hello to someone. And maybe he wouldn’t have without Ben’s bunkbed conversation. The things we leave behind.

“Love Is Strange,” despite the title, contains no Mickey and Sylvia on the soundtrack. Chopin piano pieces instead. Played without embellishment.

Posted at 06:30 AM on Sep 17, 2014 in category Movie Reviews - 2014
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Tuesday September 16, 2014

Quote of the Day

“I know Ronald Reagan’s public statements concerning the Panama Canal contained gross factual errors. ... He has clearly represented himself in an irresponsible manner on an issue which could affect the nation’s security.” 

-- Sen. Barry Goldwater, stumping for Pres. Gerald Ford during thre 1976 Nebraska GOP primary. Reagan won the state anyway while Goldwater eceived profanity-laden hate mail from right-wing conservatives. I know: Goldwater. As recounted in “The Invisible Bridge: The Fall of Nixon and the Rise of Reagan.”

The Invisible Bridge

Posted at 11:38 AM on Sep 16, 2014 in category Quote of the Day
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#2hole

How badly is Derek Jeter doing in the second half of this, his final, interminable, farewell season? I’m almost beginning to root for him.

Here are his numbers pre- and post-All-Star game:

  AVG OBP SLG OPS
Pre-All Star .272 .324 .322 .646
Post-All Star .211 .254 .256 .510

But even that doesn’t get at how poorly he’s done lately.

On August 28, New York Post columnist Ken Davidoff asked Yankees manager Joe Girardi about the efficacy of batting Jeter No. 2 for a team that, then, still had an outside shot of making the postseason.

“Yeah,” Girardi said. “But it’s not like we have a bunch of guys hitting .300.”

Which: 1) couldn’t have made the “bunch of guys” very happy; and 2) there’s bad and there’s bad. At that point, Jeter had the worst OPS among regular Yankees, but it wasn’t a stark difference. Basically Girardi was saying, “He’s not doing so poorly, nor is the rest of the team doing so well, to move someone like him down in the order.” And he was kind of right.

But those were the good old days.

Since then, Jeter’s gone 7 for 61, a .114 batting average. He’s got one extra-base hit (a double on Sept. 4), three walks, no stolen bases. He’s scored two runs.

He’s gone from having the worst OPS among qualifying Yankees to the third-worst OPS (.596) among the 150 qualifying players in Major League Baseball. Thank god for Houston’s Matt Dominguez (.593) and Cincinnati’s Zack Cozart (.570). Although at least Cozart is an apparent Mozart with the glove: his defensive WAR is 2.7, making his overall WAR 2.3 Jeter’s is -0.2. You could make the argument that Derek Jeter is the worst regular player in all of Major League Baseball right now.

Is this how he goes, toothless and hitless, a burdensome lightweight at the top of the Yankees lineup? He makes the rounds, accepts the gifts in opposing ballparks, smiles for the crowds. He plays gags with reporters’ phone. He gets written about again and again. Meanwhile, his team is dying on the vine. Jeter was always considered the ultimate team player but from a distance he’s never seemed like the ultimate team player to me. It was A-Rod, after all, who agreed to switch positions. Jeter, at 40, is still out there at short. I get the feeling he’ll show up next year, too, to everyone’s embarrassment. He’ll be the Bartleby the Scrivener of shortstops. Leave? “I prefer not to.”

As a longtime Jeter hater, I assume his hitlessness won’t last. I assume, shortly, Jeter will get hot again, or at least lukewarm, because he always does. As I said, I’m almost rooting for it.

Jeter with the Los Angeles Angels

Derek Jeter posing with the best team in baseball. 

Posted at 06:25 AM on Sep 16, 2014 in category Yankees Suck
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Monday September 15, 2014

Hey Kids, Help Mariners Manager Lloyd McClendon! What's YOUR 2014 Mariners Lineup Look Like?

Yesterday I tweet-riffed (tweefed?) when I saw that Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon had Kyle Seager, the second-best hitter on the team, batting sixth, behind such stalwarts as Chris Denorfia (.209), Kendrys Morales (.221) and Corey Hart (.197).

I wasn't the only one. From David Schoenfeld, a Seattle native, in his post, “Ten Questions for the Stretch Run”:

Look, Lloyd McClendon doesn't have a lot of great options once he gets past Cano and Kyle Seager, especially with the somewhat hot Dustin Ackley out with a sprained ankle. Seattle MarinersBut why was he hitting Seager sixth Sunday? OK, Jon Lester, lefty-lefty matchup, I see that. Seager is still one of his better hitters against left-handers (not that he's great with a .255/.306/.385 line). Plus, Lester is actually a reverse platoon, so batting Chris Denorfia (.203 with the Mariners) and Corey Hart (.201 on the season) in the second and fifth spots and moving Seager down is one of worst decisions I've seen all season. There is zero logic behind it. None. ...

M's lost 4-0. They're now a game back in the Wild Card hunt.

Schoenfeld's right: McClendon doesn't have a lot of great options, but he does have better ones. Example: I know he hasn't played long—35 games, 99 at-bats—but Chris Taylor may have the best batting eye on the team. At least, within this small sample size, he's leading the team in walks/at-bats ratio. Yep, better than Robinson Cano. When he plays, he's usually batting eighth or ninth. But why not second? Sure, righty/righty, lefty/lefty if you go Jackson, Taylor, Cano, Seager. But do you have to mix it up that much when you have so few options?

Go something like this maybe?

  1. Jackson, CF (R)
  2. Taylor, SS (R)
  3. Cano, 2B (L)
  4. Seager, 3B (L)
  5. Zunino, C (R)
  6. Saunders, RF (L)
  7. Ackley, LF (L)

Then pick your poison for DH and 1B—two positions, by the way, that should be batting much higher in the order. If we just had anyone good in them.

I don't know. What's your Sept. 2014 Mariners lineup look like?

Posted at 02:15 PM on Sep 15, 2014 in category Seattle Mariners
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Movie Review: When the Game Stands Tall (2014)

WARNING: SPOILERS

Winning is fun but relentless winning is hardly dramatic. There’s nothing to overcome. There’s no story there.

Neil Hayes’ book, “When the Game Stands Tall,” about the record-shattering 151-game win streak by De La Salle, a private Catholic high school football team in Concord, Cal., is mostly about its 2002 season; but Hayes includes an epilogue about the 2004 team that finally lost a game. (To Bellevue, by the way, at Qwest Field. Represent.)

When the Game Stands Tall

So that’s what this movie focuses on: losing, and how you recover from it.

There are some natural contradictions to mine here. Winning, for Coach Bob Ladouceur (Jim Caviezel), is a byproduct of playing the game right (humility, teamwork, etc.); but glory, humility’s opposite, is a byproduct of winning all the time.So how do you keep egos in check when you never lose? When does the byproduct of playing the game right cause you to play the game wrong?

Sadly, the movie dramatizes all of this with reductive situations and stock characters: the me-first, team-last dude who is cured like that by a trip to a VA hospital; the glory-seeking father in the stands (Clancy Brown, the prison guard in “The Shawshank Redemption,” doomed to play such roles). Neither rabid fans nor the probing media help. And aren’t we, the movie audience, part of the problem, too? We want them to win as much as anyone.

First-half subplots—Ladouceur’s heart attack, a senseless murder—are more-or-less forgotten in the second. Caviezel’s Ladouceur is sourly inscrutable, his talks with his wife (Laura Dern) are dull business, and the grace moment at the end is hardly graceful.

The movie raises religious and philosophical questions (via Luke 6:38 and Matthew 23:12) about whether what we put out in the world is returned to us, but it sticks with the ultimate American answer: There is no problem so great that winning a football game won’t solve it.

-- This review originally appeared, in slightly different form, in The Seattle Times.

Posted at 05:14 AM on Sep 15, 2014 in category Movie Reviews - 2014
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Sunday September 14, 2014

Quote of the Day

“We are in real danger of being out-organized by a small number of highly motivated right wing nuts.”

-- from a Pres. Ford campaign memo written about the Reagan camp shortly after Gov. Ronald Reagan's landslide victory (66% to 33%) in the 1976 Texas primary—the greatest defeat ever for a sitting president according to author Rick Perlstein in his book, “The Invisible Bridge: The Fall of Nixon and the Rise of Reagan.” 

Ronald Reagan campaign button

Some of the groups who were funding Reagan at this juncture, and in the future, included the following:

  • George Wallace’s old American Independence Party 
  • The National Conservative Political Action Committee
  • The National Right to Work Committee
  • The American Medical Association’s PAC
  • The NRA
  • The American Conservative Union
  • The Committee for the Survival of a Free Congress
  • The Heritage Foundation. 

“Many of the members of these groups are not loyal Republicans or Democrats,“ the memo also noted. ”They are alienated from both parties because neither takes a sympathetic view toward their issues. Particularly those groups controlled by Vigurie [sic] hold a ‘rule or ruin’ attitude toward the GOP.” Perlstein then lambasts the Republican establishment, who didn't even know enough in 1976 to spell Richard Viguerie's name correctly. 

More on Viguerie here

Read the book.

Posted at 04:44 PM on Sep 14, 2014 in category Quote of the Day
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Box Office: It's Idris; 'Guardians' Passes $300 Million; and Breitbart Predictions Continue to Be Wrong

Remember this prediction from Breitbart’s “Big Hollywood” last March?

Breitbart gets predictions wrong again 

Like a lot of analyses on the right-wing site, this turned out to be not exactly ... right.

“A Million Ways to Die in the West” opened Memorial Day weekend and promptly finished third at the box office: $16.8 million. It wound up with a domestic total of $42.7 million—one of the biggest box-office bombs in a summer of box-office bombs.

So 0-1 for Breitbart.

This weekend, “Dolphin Tale 2” opened. I reviewed it for The Seattle Times. And?

And it finished second, $16.5 million, or about $3 million less than the original took in three years ago.

So 0-2 for Breitbart.

I’m not sure if this is good news for “Big Hero 6” or not. I mean, how many movies can Breitbart get wrong?

Despite lousy reviews (12% on Rotten Tomatoes), Idris Elba’s “No Good Deed” came in first with $24 million.

The bigger news, I suppose, is that “Guardians of the Galaxy” became the first movie this year to pass the $300 million mark. It fell only 22%, grossed another $8 million (good for third place), and has now grossed $305.9 domestically and another $305 overseas.

I thought the events in Ferguson would kill the comedy “Let’s Be Cops” at the box office, but it keeps schlepping along. It finished in a near-tie with “Ninja Turtles” (around $4 million) for fourth place, and has now grossed $72 million, which is more than ... well, I guess a lot of bad movies. Including “A Million Ways to Die in the West.”

“Boyhood” took in another $1 million (14th place). It’s at $22 million domestic. See it. 

Posted at 10:24 AM on Sep 14, 2014 in category Movies - Box Office
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Saturday September 13, 2014

Quote of the Day

I read this last Sunday, eating lunch outside at Cafe Presse on 12th, as has been my habit this long summer; then I reread it to Patricia when she arrived (that's also my habit). It's from Rick Perlstein's book ”The Invisible Bridge: The Fall of Nixon and the Rise of Reagan.“ We're in 1975/76, post-Vietnam, post-Watergate, and a Senate committee run by Sen. Frank Church (D-ID, back when Ds could be from ID) is investigating what exactly the CIA had been doing with our tax dollars in the 1950s, '60s and '70s. Some of the stuff—assassinations of foreign leaders, opening mail of U.S. citizens—isn't particularly palatable, but you get the feeling Americans were more upset by the latter than the former. 

This is the part I reread to Patricia:

It never became any kind of campaign issue; in public opinion polls slightly more citizens disapproved than approved of the Pike and Church committees, and a majority feared they'd harmed national security.

That's why Jason Bourne is the perfect American hero. He's a CIA supersoldier who does the dirty work, then develops amnesia. He's keeps us both safe and innocent.

READ ALSO:

Posted at 11:59 AM on Sep 13, 2014 in category Quote of the Day
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