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Weekly Mishmash: March 2-8

Cafe Apres Midi Meets DisneyA very Asian week at Chez Scrubbles:
Various – Cafe Apres-midi Meets Disney. A surprise midweek package from Amazon.com contained this — a gift from the fabulous Julie, who shares my interest in pricey import CDs compiled by Toru Hashimoto. Created for a Japanese chain of coffee houses, Hashimoto cherry picks a blend of the mellow and obscure from the back catalogs of a variety of major labels. For this one he mines the Disney soundtrack library for gems both classic (who cannot love the Main Street Electrical Parade theme?) and obscure (I haven’t heard the Rescuers and Pete’s Dragon stuff in, oh, 29 years). The CD also contains some exquisite newer covers of Disney classics by Brazilian and Jazz artists. Sweet stuff — thanks, Julie!
Chan Is Missing (1982). A pioneering Asian-American indie film shot on location in San Francisco’s Chinatown got some airplay on the IFC channel this week. The budget’s low and the acting’s a bit iffy, but this mystery (actually something of an afterthought) did keep our attention all the way through. At times it plays like a documentary with all the overlapping conversations, and the black and white photography lends a gritty feel.
Mazes and Monsters (1982). A cautionary “role playing games are bad” made-for-TV movie notable for having a young and hammy Tom Hanks in a supporting role. I vaguely remember watching this when it was new, so eventually the shoddily produced DVD became a halfhearted Netflix rental. Too slow-moving to be great camp, the movie just kind of plods along like a preachy After School Special. Actually, Mazes and Monsters‘s chief value today may lie in the several scenes shot at the World Trade Center for the story’s climax. Detailed shots of the towers’ lobby, elevators, observation deck and roof lend a poignancy the filmmakers never intended.
Project Runway season finale (Bravo). All I can say is — Jillian, baby, you wuz robbed!
Welcome Back, Mr. McDonald (1997). A fascinating Japanese comedy that takes a while to get into, but eventually scores. Christopher and I loved it. The film follows the making of a live radio drama penned by a mousy woman who won a scriptwriting contest. As the broadcast unfolds at a deserted station in the middle of the night (why it takes place in the middle of the night is never explained), the egotistical lead actors decide to make changes to the script and various complications ensue. Although the frenetic dialogue can be hard to follow at times, the movie really pays off with several hilarious situations.
You and Me and Everyone We Know (2005). Miranda July’s indie hit is the very definition of “quirky,” and you have to be in the right frame of mind to enjoy it — which I did. The characters are stylized but identifiable in a way that, say, the people in a Wes Anderson film could never be. They seemed like people in my own neighborhood (we have plenty of outwardly normal yet weird denizens in our ‘hood, I guess!).

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