Thursday, May 28, 2009

SIFF film - LITTLE ASHES. Easily over the heads of Pattinson fans.

Little Ashes
Director: Paul Morrison
Starring: Javier Beltran, Robert Pattinson & Matthew McNulty
Rating: R
Tagline: Love. Art. Betrayal

This is the story of the young years of the brilliant but troubled Salvador Dali. It is said that he hid this story from the early part of his life for years, for many reasons but mainly because of his marriage to Gala (Elena Ivanovna Diakonova) for 50+ years.

The movie is set during the pre-Spanish civil war when repression and political unrest plagued the country. Frederico Lorca (brilliantly played by Javier Beltran) was the well renowned poet and revolutionary who's chance meeting of Salvador Dali (well played by Robert Pattinson, best known for his roles as Sedrick Diggery in the Harry Potter series and Edward Cullen in the Twilight movie) was like an emotional roller coaster.

Dali - was more than an "eccentric" artist. The man clearly struggled with mental issues from a young age. During the movie he has strange flash backs and hears voices, but they never really explain where those are rooted from. Both being amazingly talented artists in their own right - Lorca and Dali begin to show attraction and love for each other, through their art.

I was interested to see if Robert Pattinson could pull off such a deep and complicated roll. I wasn't totally sold on his roll as the lead vampire in Twilight, however I used the writing and direction as the main problem with his acting in that film. SO I was intrigued to see if he was able to play such a different role than he had in the past. Lets put it this way - if I were to give it a percentage as to how convinced I am, I would give him a 70%. Not quite, but close.

Reason being is that both parts were SUPPOSED to be played as troubled and awkward. I am not sure if this is really how he is in real life (socially awkward, internally tortured and at times childlike) or if he just does a bang up job at those types of roles. Toward the end, when Dali became obsessed with the fame, money and sex - his role became more involved and I was impressed by the emotional tantrums and manic type attitude he took on. The love scenes between he and Beltran were also very convincing, as I wasn't sure how those would be played out.

His signature waxed and upturned mustache, regal clothing and often wearing capes and silly hats - was a lovely part of the movie as well. He would often wear outlandish outfits and play with various accents (often switching from Spanish to French to American, just to curse in different ways) and it was all done very humorously. At times you would see him playing dress up, fidding with head wraps and ties and often got Lorca to play along. If you didn't know this was part of Dali's personality, it could easily be chalked up to random silliness. But they were actually very relevant and accurate details as to his persona.

Other actors who were amazing - Beltran as I already mentioned was amazing. Sincere, emotional, sensitive, everything an inspired poet and revolutionary would be. Marina Gatell who played Beltran's love interest, Magdalena - was superb. She was so in love with him, but was so aware of where his heart was. Her pain and devotion was so touching - her character was a lovely sight on the screen as well. Matthew McNulty played Luis Bunuel - the close friend to Dali and Lorca and the one that struggled deeply when the love the two shared came into the light.

The relationship between Federico Lorca and Salvador Dali should be mentioned. At a time when Catholicism was the main religion in Spain and homosexuality wasn't spoken of, nor accepted, the movie makes this very obvious but heartfelt. You truly feel the love these men have for each other because of their art. You watch Lorca pray and struggle with his feelings and Dali just chalk it up to part of his personality.

The main thing I disliked about this film was the fact that it was all in ENGLISH with Spanish accents. In my opinion, if its set in Spain, it should have been in Spanish with subtitles. Also when Lorca recited his poetry (which was often) he would recite it in Spanish, but then they would have his voice translate it in English, over the top - which confuses the hell out of me to hear it softly in Spanish and English over top. Lorca's accent is VERY thick and sometimes difficult to understand, which made for a few confusing moments.

The twist of the movie (which i will not spoil) is hurtful but a brutal testament of the European art scene during that time and the affect it had on many lives.

Dali will forever go down in history as one of the worlds most talented surrealist painters - however this movie will give you an idea of his life as a young man and how he became the man he was later in life. The sad, troubled youth who struggled with an art he couldn't explain and a love he couldn't express. If you think about it - that kind of repression is enough to drive anyone crazy.

**Note: I did some research on Dali as I was preparing for this review - and I was surprised to find out he passed in 1989 (I was 15 years old) and read some fun and interested facts about him. When you see this movie - I suggest you go into it with an open mind. And maybe have these facts about Dali known when you go:

* He at one point considered himself GOD-LIKE
* Had a residence in the Plaza Hotel in NYC and hosted the likes of Sonny & Cher (and were startled when Cher sat down on an oddly shaped sexual vibrator left in an easy chair)
* When ever signing autographs for people, he would ALWAYS keep their pens
* During a television appearance, on the Tonight Show, Dalí carried with him a leather rhinoceros and refused to sit upon anything else.
* The unlikeliest venue for Dalí's work was the Rikers Island jail in New York City; a sketch of the Crucifixion he donated to the jail hung in the inmate dining room for 16 years before it was moved to the prison lobby for safekeeping. The drawing was stolen in March 2003 and has not been recovered.

Rating **** Go see this movie, the good heavily out weighs the bad

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Pulcinella Pizzeria

10003 Rainier Ave S
(between S 68th Ave & S Cornell Ave)
Seattle, WA 98178
Neighborhood: Rainier Beach
(206) 772-6861

I am second generation Italian - and have grown up with a chain of Italian restaurants in our family - for the last 50 years. ( ) My Uncle Vince Jr, who now runs the chain - has recently opened a new restaurant, not related to the Vince's chain. This is a Neopolitan wood fire pizzaria - with a wood fire oven imported straight from Naples, Italy.

Since I would obviously be biased in my review for this restaurant - I chose to take the photos, and invited two friends to guest write their opinions of the restaurant. Katelyn Hackett is the assistant editor for Sound magazine and writes about music and urban culture in the northwest. GMK is a local HIphop artist, soon to be dropping the CD "Songs for Bloggers" very soon - for more info check his website:

from left to right, GMK, Pulcinella owner Vince Mottola Jr, RA Scion (of Common Market) and Katelyn Hackett.

Katelyn Hackett writes: I was at Pulcinella's with friends, who promised me a delicious pizza no matter what I ordered---unless, they cautioned me, I ordered the tuna one. I skipped the tuna and ordered the Forcella, which involves mozzarella, ham, pepperoni and pepperoncinis along with Pulcinella's housemade tomato sauce. To start, my friend and I split a mozzarella, pomegranate vinegar, and almond salad, which was a little too acidic and could have been balanced by a touch more pomegranate or perhaps less dressing in general, but it was welcome after the antipasto to ready me for the meal's main event.


Mozzarella, pomegranate and almond salad

My Forcella was, as promised, great wood-fired pizza: chewy, light, charred crust, fresh, sweet tomato sauce, simple mozzarella, quality meats, and just the right amount of chopped pepperoncini to give the whole affair some zip. I doctored mine up with some of the spicy olive oil on the table and a dash or two of the black pepper. The pie was medium-sized, more than enough for my appetite. (Trust me on this one, I love pizza and this was the perfect size.) I also sampled a slice of my friend's fancy proscuitto and caper pie, which tasted just as fresh and delectable as my pizza did.

Pizza Forcella (Tomato, Mozzarella, Ham, Pepperoni, Pepperoncini)

Pizza Sorrento (Tomato, Mozzarella, Prosciutto, Mushrooms, Kalamata Olives, Capers, Basil)

Dessert was, at first, a sweet mascarpone, coffee liqueur, and chocolate pizza, topped with fast-melting whipped cream; sweet and delicious, but the refreshing, subtly citrused limoncello gelato set in front of me after I finished my slice of the dessert pizza was more to my taste.

Overall, I loved and can recommend the food and the company without reservation. My criticisms: the music was a little cheesy (easy to fix with a different set of cds), and the restaurant's ambience was a little impersonal without quite ascending to fancypants status (the upside-down Lakeside Tavern signage was a welcome, humorous touch). I think time and neighborhood involvement will humanize and weather the restaurant's interior to a more comfortable feel, however. It's a brand new restaurant, and it feels new. I came home pleasantly full, raving about the food to my housemate, and waving around a box of leftovers. The cold pizza, by the way, made for an excellent breakfast the next morning!

GMK writes: I have to say my experience at Pulcinella was more then grand. It's atmosphere combined with good company equal awesome. Out of all the prime choices of pizza I went with the Posillipo pizza.*Salami, fresh mozzarella and tomato. Wood fired to perfection, I thought the portions were not to much and no to little.

Pizza Posillipo (Salami, fresh mozzarella and tomato)

Pizza Chaiaia ( Tomato, Eggplant Parmigiana, Mozzarella)

I would assume that feeling full and satisfied would have been enough. At the end of it all I was served some of the best dessert I've had in 6 months. I call it a party in my mouth. What came out was Segreto di Pulcinella. It had me saying this can't be real and slowly detecting each ingredient. Cinnamon, Chocolate, Whip Cream, Vanilla.

Il Segreto di Pulcinella: (a "secret" combination of marscapone, espresso and coffee liqueur spread expertly on a pizza skin and then baked. Served right out of the wood fire oven and topped lightly with a rich chocolate sauce)

To top that off, next came this lemon iced liquor. (see photo above) Unfortunately the name skips my memory. Spoiled is what I'd have to call this dining experience. Would definitely go back, give it 5 stars and a sure recommend.

Total rating: ***** 5 stars - you must try this place!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Star Trek - "Damnit Jim!..."

Star Trek
Director: JJ Abrams
Date: May 8th 2009

I grew up with a dad that was a huge Star Trek (the original series) fan. I watched all the episodes and absorbed as much as my teen mind would accept without rejection.

I have recently gotten hooked on the comic movie phenomenon - and while this isn't comic inspired, it is sci-fi and deals with "mutant" or "alien" type life forms. I had mixed feelings as I decided whether or not to see it. Part of me was like -BAH, dorky sci-fi flick, I don't wanna see it. The other part, remembers the characters and was so intrigued about how some of my favorite actors would fit into this legendary roles.

First off - the legend begins with JJ Abrams. His direction is superb. I kept reminding myself he created one of my favorite shows....LOST. As the movie progresses, you can see his genius. Clean and wonderful shots, crisp and gorgeous scenery, but also some shots reminiscent of the original series (ie the "shaky" scenes when the ship is in turmoil) those made me laugh. But also the COMEDY. He had to have worked with the writers on this a bit, because the comedy was perfectly timed and had you laughing so often - very similar to how LOST does.

Casting. One word. Perfection. If you were familiar with ANY of the legendary characters from the original series - you will appreciate and be in utter shock at how similar they are. Zachary Quinto as Spock. He is an amazing Sylar in NBC's "Heros", so I had no doubt he would be able to portray the outwardly emotion-less, however inwardly soft Vulcan first mate. He surpassed what I thought he would do, and with surprise roll of Leonard Nemoy, (you have to see it to get it) it was like a cherry on top.

The break out performance of the movie, by far was Chris Pine as Cpt. James T. Kirk. He truly shocked me, first with his comic timing, and then with his uncanny ability to create the same cocky and flirtatious moments, as effortless and as identical to William Shatner. His sexy prowess toward all women who crossed his path was equally matched by his bad boy rebelliousness to the federation and Spock.

The supporting characters - who truly made the original series what they were - were not overlooked either. McCoy, who made the statement "Damnit Jim...." famous - was wonderfully portrayed by Karl Urban (best known for his roll in the LOTR trilogy as Eomer). Jim's side kick and buddy in Federation school as well as on the Enterprise. Zoe Saldana played Uhura - which at first you think will be the love interest for Kirk. The twist is surprising but cute and sweet to watch. She was fairly reserved in the series, and she carries the same character quite well over to the movie.

Chekov and Sulu were cast questionably for me, at first, but redeemed themselves quickly. Anton Yelchin played Chekov, his Russian accent being the funniest part of most of his scenes. John Cho (best known for his lead role in Harold and Kumar go to Whitecastle) was a great Sulu, and actually he could have had more scenes, as I remember Sulu being more prominent. Lastly but certainly not least, Scotty. I remember this character as always slightly drunk, cracking jokes and making you giggle at the perfect times. Played brilliantly by Simon Pegg (best known for his lead role in Shaun of the Dead). My only complaint is that he was introduced so late in the movie, we really didn't have a chance to enjoy his character.

Lastly - the graphics. The graphics in the original series were nothing more than small ship models on strings. I remember them being comical they were so bad. Thats what made these graphics that much better. The Romulan ship was just thousands on jagged knife looking things - it was fresh. The Enterprise was just as I remembered it, only better. Overall, the graphics werent STUNNING, but they were impressive none the less.

The ending was enough to bring tears to my eyes. Just tears of joy when you experience something that has come full circle. When they show a new beginning, with old reminders and words....truly an enjoyable journey.

Rating: ***** the best movie i have seen in a while and most definitely in my top 10 of all time