Journal film critic Charlie Myers caught the new Paul Giamatti film Win Win while visiting Portland recently. The film opens at the Minor Theatre today. Here's Charlie's review:
Regular moviegoers know not to trust trailers. In addition to regularly including plot spoilers and often, especially for comedies, revealing the film's best lines, the trailer can be significantly misleading. Such is the case with Win Win. From the trailer I saw too many times, I would have put this film down as a lightweight comedy. As it turns out, that is hardly the case with this fine film, even though it has its share of comedic situations.
For one thing Paul Giamatti, as barely scraping by attorney Mike Flaherty, is playing to his strength, which means he is the very picture of despair and depression. His character has good reason for despair. His attorney business is in the toilet, he's behind on paying the bills and the high school wrestling team he coaches on the side hasn't won a match in memory. His saving grace is his wife Jackie (the always excellent Amy Ryan) and their two young daughters, but even that seems tenuous.
But then he miraculously catches two breaks. A client he is representing (Leo, played by Burt Young) is declared incompetent and Mike gets appointed his guardian, which gets him a monthly check, and out of the blue Leo's teen grandson Kyle (Alex Shaffer in his film debut) materializes, trying to escape his damaged mother back in Ohio. And, wouldn't you know it, he was a champion wrestler back there.
Thus, Mike has achieved what seems to be a guaranteed "win-win" situation. But Mike has already sown the seeds of destruction. He puts Leo in a rest home and doesn't inform the court nor does he tell Kyle the real legal situation.
One would expect solid acting from veterans such as Giamatti and Ryan, but the real find here is the young Shaffer. Until an injury, Shaffer was himself a champion wrestler, a factor that brings realism to the wrestling matches, but he also brings a maturity to his role that is unusual. This is a heartfelt, affecting, worthwhile film. Rated (bizarrely) R. 106m. At the Minor.
Hot rumor du jour on the blogosphere is a supposedly leaked memo posted on The Humboldt Herald amidst a back and forth about the ecological impact of pot growing:
April 29, 2011 at 11:37 am
Sent: Thu, April 28, 2011 4:42:56 PM
Subject: Re: Bat N' Rouge...Save the Date!!!!!!!
"fellow who bought the Eye"? What do you mean, Alex?
On Thu, Apr 28, 2011 at 4:41 PM, Alex Stillman wrote:
Have not gotten a call from the fellow who bought the Arcata Eye...party at my house.
arcata city council
It looks authentic, and it is, up to a point. The legions of Hoover haters were hoping it was true, but no "fellow" actually bought The Eye.
The less exciting truth: The email exchange between Monica and Alex is excerpted from a multi-party exchange among the Bat 'n' Rouge Pom Pom squad regarding a proposed intrasquad cocktail party. The chain spread further than intended when someone hit "reply all" and sent it to a long list of folks connected with Bat 'n' Rouge, apparently including the local Julian Assange.
One of the items auctioned off at the Arcata Eye Ball in January was a night drinking martinis with the Pom Pom Queens, at Alex Stillmans' house. That is the party and "the fellow" Alex is referencing when she says "the fellow who bought the Arcata Eye...party at my house."
If you add the word "martini" where there's an ellipsis, the sentence reads quite differently. As Pom Pom girl Monica noted, "Punctuation is all important."
Alex runs the guantlet at Bat 'n' Rouge
Kevin Hoover at Bat 'n' Rouge - He still owns the Eye.
The pre-wedding rigors that British royalty Prince William and his bride Kate Middleton endured before today's EXTRAVAGANZA must have been sorely trying. But they cannot compare to the primping rituals of the Budweiser Clydesdales, a team of which happens to be ensconced at Redwood Acres right now in anticipation of Eureka's own BIG DAY tomorrow -- the Rhody Parade! Huzzah!
Kate had to go on some kind of Dukan diet? Bah. These heavy footed lovelies have had to learn to live with their 2,000-plus poundage and to enjoy chomping up to 70 pounds of hay and grain each day.
Kate had to practice the royal wave, and Prince William, we presume, the bow? Hah. These gentle giants are all over it -- with all four feet.
And we dare not imagine how William and his princess cleansed themselves the day before the big affair. But we're absolutely certain it did not entail being scrubbed down by two men in rubber boots and Budweiser caps wielding hoses, sponges, "Mane 'n Tail and Body Shampoo, Kirk's Coco Hardwater Castile soap and a bucket of yellow sulfur powder to douse upon their legs to brighten their whiteness and, um, dry out any bothersome sores.
(End of gratuitous horse pics and prissy jokes.)
Breaking news this morning from the Eureka Chamber of Commerce: Today at noon, in a "special presentation" sure to rival the Royal Wedding in pomp, circumstance and elegant textiles, Eureka Mayor Frank Jager will be presented with "a commemorative Clydesdale horseshoe" in honor of the historic attendance of Budweiser's corporate mascots at Saturday's Rhody Parade.
Reached by phone this morning, Jager was emotional. "This is the most important gift bestowed upon the City of Eureka by a multi-national food and/or beverage company since, well gosh ... I suppose you'd have to go back to '77 when ol' Sam Sacco got that tunic of leaves from the Jolly Green Giant," Jager said.
Asked what the city would do with the oversized horseshoe, Jager said it would likely be attached to a key that can unlock any bathroom in the city.
[Note, the second two paragraphs of this post are bona fide horse pucky. The "special presentation" is actually happening.]
Forlorn cow cast upon the rocks
Dampness and death have polished your hide
How did you get here, 'neath the boardwalk?
Did you never learn to watch for high tide?
Pallid lips curl over square teeth
An effortless grimace emitting no sound
Cloven hooves point out toward the sea
How long did they flounder there before you drowned?
The Coast Guard and sheriffs, they refuse to touch you
Tourists suppose you'll end up crab fodder
"Nobody," reasons Animal Control
"Wants to deal with a dead cow in the water"
Officer Patton of Eureka PD
Spared no lament for your final "moo"
"It's kinda disgusting," he said with a sigh
"But taking it out would be disgusting too"
Forlorn cow cast upon the shoals
Swept out from your pasture and couldn't swim back
I hope I don't think of your rotting carcass
Next time I eat at Surfside Burger Shack
A California Department of Fish and Game program permitting ranchers to divert water from two major tributaries to the Klamath River has been deemed illegal by San Francisco Superior Court Judge Ernest Goldsmith, reports Klamath Riverkeeper in a news release this afternoon.
For years, diversions from the Scott and Shasta rivers were unregulated and, says Riverkeeper, endangered coho salmon were harmed. The DFG installed a permit program in 2009, intending to resolve the problem. But several environmental groups sued, claiming that permits issued under the new program were not leaving enough water in the rivers for the salmon.
The judge agreed, and further said that the DFG had violated the California Endangered Species Act (CESA) because it did not "quantify how many fish deaths the water diversions would cause, didn't show the sufficiency of mitigation measures to protect and restore coho, and didn't seek public input on whether the program would further jeopardize the salmon,"according to the release.
Notes Klamath Riverkeeper's Erica Terence:
"Though the programs proposed to do some good things for fish habitat, CDFG undermined their own success from the beginning by ignoring the fact that water diversions are making the rivers go completely dry at some points in the year. The simple fact is that fish need water."
So now the DFG has to redo the program. In the meantime it's limbo-time for farmers and fishermen alike, says Terence.
Bestselling author, Eureka Books co-owner and North Coast Journal contributor Amy Stewart was on National Public Radio's Fresh Air this afternoon, chatting with guest host Dave Davies about the "creepy-crawlies" that inhabit her latest book, Wicked Bugs.
With her customary cheerful aplomb, Stewart tells of such nasty insects as the Asian giant hornet (pictured above), otherwise known as "the yak killer," the pork tapeworm, which will live in your brain if given the chance, and so-called "zombie bugs," a phenomenon that occurs when a particular wasp stings a cockroach in its brain -- thereby zombifying it -- then lays her eggs inside the roach's body. (The larvae later eat their way out. YouTube video here.)
Not all of Stewart's tales will make you want to seal your body in Kevlar. For example she corrects the unfair reputations of the black widow and brown recluse (arachnal profiling?).
Listen to the interview here and check out the ingenious Wicked Bugs trailer below.
Humboldt Baykeeper Executive Director Pete Nichols appeared on New York radio station WNYC today with Nature Iraq founder Dr. Azzam Alwash. The two discussed the newly founded Upper Tigris Waterkeeper, an effort that the Journal wrote about a couple weeks back. Host Leonard Lopate asks about cleaning up the "cradle of civilization" after years of polution from toxic dumping and gravel mining.
Things were damp in Arcata's Redwood Park on April 20, the unofficial holiday also known as 4/20. The park's grassy meadow was surrounded by caution tape. Police on the scene said a crew had spread fertilizer earlier in the day and no one was allowed to cross the field. Arcata Police Chief Tom Chapman was happy to see the rainy weather put a damper on the 4/20 4:20 party. If there was a crowd there to smoke, they were hidden deep in the woods.
The board of the Redwood ACLU issued a press release in advance of the gathering, complaining of "peculiar actions over the last couple of years by Arcata Police Department officers and other city staff." Specifically: The erection of roadblocks on public streets leading to Redwood Park, blocking of public trails through public parkland leading to Redwood Park and the shutdown of public parking lots and public restrooms. (The police did in fact take over the building that houses the restrooms; the public was not allowed near the building.)
"The over-reaction of the City of Arcata to what amounts to a low-impact, non-violent mass action to protest federal law is really uncalled for," the ACLU concluded.
On the road into the park, two officers stopped those trying to walk up the hill, telling them the park was closed due to maintenance. One would-be reveler said repeatedly, "You chose a funny day to do maintenance." When he said it the third time, the officer turned hostile. "It's time for you all to leave," he demanded, and the reveler and his friends did just that, turned around and walked back down the hill.
When they were well out of site of the police they stopped and fired up the joints they'd come to smoke. "Head-band," said one gentleman. "The best," said another.
"It didn't even smell like weed." So reports Journal freelancer Zach St. George, who this afternoon trekked up to Arcata's Redwood Park expecting to find a swaying herd of glassy-eyed stoners and instead found bored APD cops.
What happened? This is supposed to be, like, the stoner's choicest locale on the stoner's unofficial holiday, right? Hell, just last year we were named America's Most Stoned Community (though they somehow missed the bullseye by about seven miles). Where is everybody?
Oh look, there's someone!
Reportedly the cops just wanted to know if this guy's puppy was registered.
Ooh! More people!
Police standing by barricades -- yes, they barricaded a public park -- told the trickle of hoodie fan club members that the party of the past had been canceled. Evidently that proclamation, along with the drizzly weather, effectively harshed Arcata's collective high. Or at least scared it indoors.
One officer warned the would-be revelers about the smell up in the park -- the field was freshly fertilized with manure, he said.
Police patrolled the park perimeter in pairs. A few determined potheads cautiously made their way into the trees, bitterly eyeing the cops gathered under the awning of the Redwood Lodge. Surreptitiously, the made their way up the sodden path and bravely staged their protest against our country's hypocritical, like, bullshit oppressive laws, man.
Keep that flame burning, bruthas.
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Another protector lost. Rest easy brother.