Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Fourth Kind - Fact or Fiction, it gets the job done

The Fourth Kind
Directed by: Olatunde Osunsanmi

What job did this movie get done? Let us review.

1) It made me think
2) It scared the living shit out of me
3) It made me not want to visit Nome, Alaska...ever
4) It made me question what was real and what wasnt.


This movie starts out oddly. Milla Jovovich (who plays Dr. Abbey Tyler) addresses you, the audience, as herself and not her character. She basically gives you a warning. She warns the viewer of what you are about to see, and also warns us that your reality will be questioned. She urges you to have an open mind and not to listen to others and to come to your own conclusion.

The movie, from that point on had my attention. Putting ANY doubt in my mind that it COULD be real...that opens a whole new thing for me.

The movie is set in Nome, Alaska - which has the top number of missing persons of any city in Alaska. The movie follows Dr. Tyler in a series of sleep studies on Nome residents, who all report having similar side affects and visions. Abbey realized soon that these visions are not sleep related and decided to dig deeper into the subconscious of her patients to find answers.

With every main character and especially if they are psychiatrists, they have a tragic back story. Dr. Tyler is no different. Throughout the movie we see flash backs and video of her loosing her husband.

Speaking of flash backs and videos - thats really what makes the movie. This is not just a movie of actors re-enacting a story. This movie is brilliant in the way it puts the "REAL" footage in a split screen next to the movie version. You have NO idea how creepy that is/can be - until you see it first hand. The craziest parts were the videos from her sessions with her hypnotized patients. If I say any more I will ruin it. Just prepare yourself. Ms. Jovovich was not lying when she said that some of the video was "Very disturbing".

The actors all were great in the movie. Milla was almost convincing, however I felt she could have given just a bit more in the shocking scenes. I would have been much more shaken, however that also added to the mystery of it all.

Will Patton and Elias Koteas were both great support for Jovovich but never I felt really dove into the parts as the real character would have. Part of it was I guess having the "real" characters as well in the movie, you were able to compare.

The end of this movie is as startling as the rest of the movie. It caused me to immediately google the details and try to indeed find out what was fact, and what was fiction.

I will let you decide....and share with me your thoughts after you watch it for yourself.

Rating: **** starts - near perfect horror flick/documentary

Saturday, September 18, 2010

The Steelhead Diner - Worth the wait, minus the Huskers

Steelhead Diner
95 Pine Street
Seattle, WA. 98101

I am always on the hunt for a good place to take someone for a birthday or to take family from out of town - and so a week before my husbands 36th birthday, I started to ask around -wanting to find somewhere special to take him that was worth the extra cash it may cost per plate. His only preference - he wanted a good crab cake and some GOOD fried chicken, like he would get at his Granny's house.

SO the overwhelming consensus? Go to Steelhead diner. Its a bit pricey but worth every penny. So i visited their site, and after salivating with my co-workers over the online menu - I conveniently found the place to make online reservations.

Friday night came a long and our close friends double dated with us. Turns out it was a downpour - but providentially we found parking literally right out front - so it wasn't too bad of a walk in the rain. For a Friday night at Pike Place - we were lucky indeed.

We arrived about 5 minutes before our reservation time of 7:30. The hostess staff was kind and accommodating, explaining that our table was being cleaned and set and it would be just a moment. When I made the reservations - I made sure to note it was my husbands birthday, so when coming back to check on us - the hostess was even sweeter and said they had a better window table that was about to leave that they would rather put us at and that it would be just 5 more minutes. They were very kind and lovely about the extra wait that it seemed like nothing at all.

When we did get seated - we were brought a lovely basket of mixed breads and a seasoned butter. It was pleasant and the presentation was very pretty, the photo doesn't do it justice.

If you are a drinker - their bar is very extensive and I highly doubt there is anything they could NOT make. For us - the Pomegranate Martini's were lovely.
For appetizers - we had to order the Crab cakes - it was on the birthday boys wish list. We also decided to order the fried cheese curds - we had had them before and were interested to see how they fared here. The appetizers were pricey, the same cost as a meal - so we were a bit skeptical. When they arrived - we keep looking for more when it came to the Crab cakes. Correction, it was ONE Crab cake. For $15?? I was shocked. HOWEVER - it was GIGANTIC and it was the best crab cake any of us had ever had. Huge chunks of fresh crab - wonderful blend of spicy and lightly friend perfectly, not too much oil. It was lovely. Perfect way to start off the meal.

The Cheese curds were also good - not as phenomenal as the crab cake, but a great companion. They came with a light mustard sauce and tartar which both were yummy with the lightly fried cheese bits. They were very rich and you really couldn't eat more than a few.

Our dinner took a bit longer to get to us than seemed normal. It was a Friday night, and they were packed - however it seemed a bit long. We had our appetizers to munch on, and good company so it was forgivable. The only downside was that somehow - some random Nebraska Cornhusker fans found the place and were quite a distraction in my opinion. The Nebraska/Husky game was to be the next day and the fans were all in their teams gear and half way tipsy. With Husky fans across the restaurant - they would throw playful but LOUD banters and BARKS across the establishment. At first it was cute, the third time, chuckleable, and at the end of their meal (the middle of ours) it was downright annoying. I felt like telling them to go find a Red Robin...but then they left, and all was well in the world (until they beat the huskies the next day and I'm sure they raised hell somewhere else as well).

Our dinners came and were WELL worth the wait for every one of us. I had the American Wagyu Kobe Beef Burger. I love burgers and was so intrigued with this special Kobe meat. The waitress explained how special this meat was, with its captivity, its feeding and its location and how its marbled specially. I had to pick up my chin from the floor and wipe the drool to order it. I ordered it medium rare and I must say - I rarely get a restaurant to actually produce that. But they did. The meat was juicy, amazing texture and cooked to perfection. It was topped with sauteed and caramelized mushrooms and onions. The only surprise was the pickle, which I am not fond of - but it was easily removed.

The birthday boy ordered the Buttermilk Fried Chicken sandwich with a tangy coleslaw dressing. He said it was amazing, the coleslaw dressing was sweet and it complimented the salty fried chicken perfectly. With above average fresh french fries served on the side - the meal was perfect to fulfill his birthday wish.

Our friends ordered the Southern Fried Draper Valley Farms half chicken with creamed Spinach, and the Kasu Marinated Oregon Black Cod, served with Sauteed Shiitake Mushrooms,and a baby buck choy and carrot ginger salad.

I watched my friend with the Cod - she ate it with her eyes closed half the time, saying she was enjoying tasting the distinct flavors and that the fish melted in her mouth. It was one of those kinds of dishes that you savor. When the fish was gone, there was a lovely dark broth left and she stole my spoon to enjoy more of it - fearing that putting the bowl to her face wouldn't go over well in this type of restaurant ha!

Her husband had the fried chicken - and said it was amazing. We had gone to Highlife in Ballard for their Sunday friend chicken weeks before and he said this was 10 times better. Not as heavy or greasy. It was served over a rich dark gravy with creamed spinach on the side. The only issue he had was that he would have enjoyed some mashed potatoes with this meal - he said it needed it. So he ordered french fries - which he said helped to make it feel complete. Overall - he said the dish was top notch.

With our bellies full we tried to decide whether or not to have dessert. At one point, while enjoying the full silence one of our friends said "This food is MEDICINAL!!" It was true, we were relaxed and happy. Watching various choices being served to tables around us - we were convinced. Their selection is really vast, considering. There were so many things I wanted to TRY. With such imaginative and amazing choices - my only suggestion to them would be to do small bites or tapas type servings and have a plate where you can order a small taste of them all. But alas - that is the suggestion from a sweet tooth with a never ending appreciation for wonderful and new dessert inventions.

So my friend and I had the Red Haven peach and blueberry crumble, with Cinnamon Ice Cream and caramel sauce. His wife had the Earl Grey tea Creme Brulee and the birthday boy had the Theo Chocolate peacan pie w/cocoa nibs and bourbon chantilly cream. The crumble was scrumptious. Lovely homemade crust - almost like an individual pie. Not too much fruit as sometimes happen.

The creme brulee got mixed reviews. She just kept saying "it is interesting", but no other words - she didn't finish it, so I'm sure it wasn't amazing but rather, interesting.

Finally - the birthday boys dessert. Theo chocolate pecan pie. In Kentucky they make a pie similar to this but its called Derby Pie -and its made during the Kentucky Derby traditionally. He said the pie was wonderful, with big chunks of locally owned Theo Chocolates. He said it was the perfect finishing touch to an amazing dinner. They topped it with a candle - sparred him the goofy singing and clapping most places do - and at the end of the night didnt charge him for his dessert.

The end of the night had arrived and we all were in the first stages of our food comas. A few days before when searching for a good place to have Friend Chicken - a few people also mentioned the King Fish Cafe. We have been there twice and both times, while the food has been great, the service is below average - even teetering on apathy which in my opinion should never be the attitude of people trying to sell a restaurants food and experience.

The Steelhead Diner was leaps and bounds ahead of the rest on the topic of service. Every employee smiled, greeted, the waitress was pleasant, sweet, attentive but also stayed away the perfect amount of time as not to meddle. Many restaurants could learn from this one as far as customer service skills go.

The food - phenomenal - the service - lovely. Total rating ***** You must eat here!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

No One Dies in Lily Dale - not easily convinced

No One Dies In Lily Dale
Directed by: Steven Cantor
Documentary - HBO

Do I believe in Ghosts and or Spirits? Yes. Do I believe energies and spirits surround us? Of course. Do I think that there are certain gifted people that can see, feel and communicate with people that have passed and are now ghosts aka spirits? No.

I must say - when I read the title of this film and read its plot I was quite intrigued. I consider myself an open minded person when it comes to issues of spirituality and the super natural - HOWEVER I am quite the cynic when it comes to "certain people" being the only gifted ones able to "see" in these situations.

Lily Dale is a small town in upstate New York - that has the largest number of "registered" mediums recorded. They consider themselves a Spiritual Community. People travel there for readings, tourists go to feed their deepest curiosities and the inhabitants are there to "Answer questions" and of course, profit.

The documentary follows a select group of mediums - follows their daily life and does a bit of background on how they found their "gifts". They have these big open events - kind of like they did on John Edwards shows - you pay a fee, they spurt out a situation that has to get close to someone out of the 100 people know the rest.

This movie had the POTENTIAL to be awesomely intriguing and interesting. Instead it was predictable and almost cheesy. At one point they showed a group of mediums - who said they get together and have a round table reading together so that they can read for each other! They all had their eyes closed and were talking in their soft whispery NPR voices and kept saying things like "Joe, you know your brother has been hanging around..." and then Joe says "Yes I have felt that, thank you Katherine for confirming that for me...". There are even 3 sisters who talk openly about seeing their dead parents in every day life. "You know Joan, mother is waving some hot brownies at you and giggling!" I am not trivializing this - this is the kind of things they were saying to each other. It was too cheesy to be real.

Am I am cynic? In some ways yes! Do i "believe"? Yes I do. I don't think ANYONE should have to pay for such spiritual and sensitive information and that if we all try and hone our skills - we all would be able to have these types of abilities at some level. As babies and children I feel we have these raw abilities and they are slowly suppressed as we grow and mature - to help fit what is "normal".

Almost every Medium in this movie told a customer at some point that their crossed over loved one, "Is at peace and doesn't want you to worry, know that they are fine...". Is that really what all ghosts and spirits think? I know there are angry spirits, and worrisome spirits, and sad and happy spirits. Show me a mad one! I want to see that! Don't just show me the happy stuff - how fake is that!

My rating for this movie is a 3 out of 5 stars. For such an amazing topic - it needed more depth and imagination. I would have liked to hear more into the background of the mediums and heard what death turned on or off their abilities.

My opinion - skip the flick and work on your own skills.