Thursday, August 25, 2011

TRAILER THURSDAY: Many New Films, Many of them Good edition

Posted By on Thu, Aug 25, 2011 at 10:38 AM

On behalf of all film-loving Spokanites, I would like to thank our tiny arthouse, The Magic Lantern, and the faceless corporate overlords who control the AMC 20 from St. Louis. Both theaters have demonstrated a dedication to indie cinema that has made this the best summer for film I can remember.

Love,
Luke Baumgarten

P.S., here are some trailers affirming this point: 

Another Earth
What if you had a chance to travel to a parallel world and save the lives you ruined? Rhoda attempts to do just this when the discovery of another Earth with identical populations offers her the chance to undo the biggest regret in her life. Though the film ignores physics, plot holes, and a metaphor so obvious it is insulting, early critical reception says Another Earth does achieve some unique introspection. (EW) Rated PG-13

Colombiana
Zoe Saldana (Avatar) leads this new action opus as a woman with a gun on a rampage. Having witnessed the murder of her parents when she was very young, she of course raises herself as a well-trained assassin hell-bent on annihilating anybody involved all those years ago. Luc Besson (The Professional, Taken) writes another film about a conflicted killer put into unbelievable yet entertaining circumstances involving massive explosions. (EW) Rated PG-13

The Devil's Double
The true story of the man forced to be Uday Hussein's body double is a bit too polished, but it’s still riveting. A gangster movie like none other, the film follows the double as he's forced to abandon his life and family for an existence of heinous and unfathomable corruption. Critics generally feel the film has little new to say about Iraq or the doppelganger narrative, but it does manage to present a story very few know in a haunting and enticing manner. (EW) Rated R

Don't Be Afraid of the Dark  
This remake of the creepy, fondly remembered 1973 TV movie retains the scariness in a story of scurrying creatures who live underneath an old house with a haunted history. They’ve been there a long while, just waiting for some young blood to move in. That would be unhappy little Sally (Bailee Madison), who goes, against her will, to live there with her dad (Guy Pearce) and his girlfriend (Katie Holmes). A bit gory but, thankfully, not gross-out gory. (ES) Rated R

El Bulli: Cooking in Progress
El Bulli was one of the most famous restaurants in the world. Located in Spain, the restaurant and its head chef, Ferran Adria, were known for creating avant-garde masterpieces out of food. This documentary shows the kitchen's process as they take six months off to craft a new menu. Eschewing frenetic editing, Gordon Ramsay yelling and all the other tedious elements of reality TV, it’s classic food porn. (EW) Not Rated

The Double Hour
A lonely chambermaid meets an ex-cop through speed-dating, the two have a romantic getaway in the country, and a grisly crime changes everything. As their pasts are revealed, with the attention and suspense of Hitchcock, it becomes clear that every meticulous detail provides a rewarding purpose. Grand character development, subtle storytelling — fans of twist-filled psychological thrillers will not be disappointed. (Sean Burns) Rated R

Our Idiot Brother
Paul Rudd excels as pot-head and organic farmer Ned (a role written specifically for him). As he squats at the homes of his three sisters (Zooey Deschanel, Emily Mortimer, and Elizabeth Banks) after a stint in jail, his unwavering trust and honesty force the sisters to examine their values and what defines their lives. A comedy that aims to prove that those who have the least have the most. (EW) Rated R


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Spokane surrounded by casual sex

Posted By on Thu, Aug 25, 2011 at 8:57 AM

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There are many theories forwarded that attempt to explain Spokane's youth diaspora. Kids leave town, people say, because of better job prospects in cities like Seattle and Portland, or for greater perceived culture.

There is probably truth to these beliefs. There's more work in Seattle, for sure. Portland, too, assuming you want to work in a vintage boutique or as a server at a farm-sourced restaurant.

On the opportunities side, your chances of being spotted by a modeling agent while shopping at Express are better in Pacific Place or Lloyd Center than at NorthTown. And yeah, when your band plays to three people in a dive bar on a Tuesday night, there's a way better chance one of those people owns a record label if the bar is on Capitol Hill than on East Sprague. (If the bar is on Mississippi in Portland, everyone has a record label, but no one has released anything.)

Jobs, culture, opportunities. Heard it all before. 

But a tantalizing new survey from the dating site OKCupid, suggests another reason Eastern Washingtonians and North Idahoans are drawn west, as if by an uncontrollable biological urge: There's an actual uncontrollable biological urge.

The website went out in search of the most promiscuous cities in America. It found its top two in the Pacific Northwest. Portland was firstSeattle was second.

As you may know, the jet stream generally passes over Portland, Seattle or points between before bringing weather systems toward us. Now we must ask ourselves: Is the jetstream also carrying the oversexed pheromones of our transmountain neighbors? 

The website's methods of calculating promiscuity were super-scientific — and not at all self-serving — based solely on "the percentage of users who listed 'casual sex' among the relationships sought" on OKCupid, CEO Sam Yagan told Denver's Westword yesterday. (The Mile High City came in #8.)

The moral of this story, clearly, is that the first thing you need to do once you settle in to your $1,200 studio apartment in Belltown is steal somebody's Wi-Fi and get an OKCupid account. 

Shawn Allen photo

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MORNING HEADLINES: Northwest Native News

Posted By on Thu, Aug 25, 2011 at 7:48 AM

Statue's return -- Finally, after three years, a monument to Spokane Chief Garry returns to Spokane. (SR)

Powwow canceled -- The Spokane Falls Northwest Encampment and Powwow has been canceled this year -- for the first time in 21 years -- due to lack of donations. Earlier this year, the Kalispel powwow had been canceled due to flooding. (KXLY)

Questions remain -- The family of the slain University of Idaho student is asking University of Idaho to be open about what they knew about her alleged killer, professor Ernesto Bustamante. The problem: Federal law limits the amount of information a college can share about its students, even with the student's family.

Lost Jobs -- Steve Jobs, beturtlenecked visionary of Apple Computers, has stepped down as CEO of Apple Computers. (NYT)


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Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Happy hours tonight

Posted By on Wed, Aug 24, 2011 at 11:46 AM

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Each Wednesday on Bloglander, we give you a taste of happy hours going on at bars around town that night. (Read previous posts.)

Basement Bar, in Cheney, serves happy hour all night. Specials include $3 pints of Coors Light and you get to keep the glass.

My Office, in Pullman, dishes out happy hour from 3-6 pm. Specials include $2.50 pints of domestic, $7 pitchers of domestic, $3.50 pints of micros, $11 pitchers of micros, $2.50 wells and double for $5.

Press, on Spokane's South Hill, offers happy hour from 4-7 pm. Specials include a free pizza with purchase of a cocktail, $4 wells, $1 off drafts, and $4 fresh squeezed cocktails.

Snoops Saloon, in north Spokane, summons happy hour from 4-6 pm. Specials include 25 cents off any drink and 50 cents off any pitcher.

Suki Yaki Inn, in downtown Spokane, delights in happy hour all night long. Specials include $3.50 Jagermeister, $4 cocktails including the Mt. Dude, and $2.50 wells.

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Let's fix: Sons of Anarchy

Posted By on Wed, Aug 24, 2011 at 10:54 AM

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It’s pretty common for a good show to take the leap toward great in Season Two. And that happened with Sons of Anarchy. It’s also pretty common for a great show to plummet toward lame in Season Three. And that happened with Sons of Anarchy.

I’ve seen the first three episodes of Season Four. So far, it’s a major improvement, with an introduction of one of the most interesting characters on the series so far. But that’s no guarantee for quality. After all, last year's decent pilot was followed by 10 episodes of meandering.

Here’s what Sons ofAnarchy must do reclaim all the great things critics used to say about the series:

1) Plan three episodes ahead — but no longer

Last season, Sons had a problem. It needed to have most of the gang go to Ireland to rescue Jax’s kidnapped baby, it needed a number of things to happen while they were gone, and it needed enough to happen before most of the gang went to Ireland to set things in motion while they were gone.

In other words, the season gave the appearance of being heavily outlined, with specific requirements that specific characters be in certain places at certain times. The problem: That doesn’t make for very interesting television. Good television is about improvising. 24, in its first season, had to shorten the first assassination plot and the kidnapping story substantially, because the writers didn’t want to tread water. Breaking Bad Season Three, the best season of television I’ve ever seen, was written largely on the fly. Writers asked “What would this character do?” rather than, “Where do we need everybody to end up?”

Sons creator Kurt Sutter complained when critics turned on the third season — that critics couldn’t handle non-linear progression, that they weren’t willing to appreciate taking chances, that they bristled at the fact that the motorcycle club left Charming. But that wasn’t a problem at all. The problem is, if you tie characters' actions to plot necessities seven episodes from now, it’s far more claustrophobic than if you never left the town at all.

2) Tone down the racialism. 

It’s not surprising, really, that a motorcycle gang would be concerned with race. A gang is about inclusion, about identity, and Sons of Anarchy making a big deal about race makes sense. But when your enemies are usually along the lines of: The Blacks, The Mexicans, The White Supremacists, The Irish, and The Russians — it begins to feel lazy. There are other reasons to form groups besides race. And when your ostensible heroes use racial slurs, with no recognition that this is a problematic mindset, it’s an even bigger problem. I don’t think the motorcycle gang has to be politically correct. But their backward mindset shouldn’t be a distraction from more important themes.

3) Eliminate “wacky” subplots.

When I heard that David Hasselhoff had been hired to play a particularly qualified porn star on Sons Of Anarchy, I rolled my eyes. Even in its best season, Sons has dragged itself down with subplots about porn studios or similarly crazy things. I think they were supposed to be comedic, but Sons was never a show that did comedy well — it mistakes grossness for cleverness. So no focusing on porn stars, compulsive masturbation, or near-incest. Better ditching these subplots altogether and focusing on the dramatic.

4) Give us a sense of place

The best thing that Justified ever did in its second season was to give the mining community a real sense of place, through a series of town hall controversies and new characters it introduced. But so far, Charming feels mostly like one of those Old West towns with fake backdrops instead of buildings. There are a few stores, a police force, some wealthy developers, and many motorcycle clubs. But the town from Our Town feels more substantial. We should care about the town’s fate if we don’t care about the town. 

5) Focus on the internal struggle

That’s what last year’s finale promised us: division in the club, maybe outright civil war. Give it to us — and surprise us — and we won’t be disappointed.

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MORNING HEADLINES: Aftershocks

Posted By on Wed, Aug 24, 2011 at 8:28 AM

Fire watch -- Last night, another house fire in Spokane left another set of Spokane residents homeless. This time, two adults and four children escaped a kitchen fire in Northeast Spokane. (KXLY)

Murder-suicide -- The University of Idaho Professor, suspected of killing a 22-year-old former University of Idaho student, apparently killed himself with a gun at a hotel shortly afterward. (SR)

Cuttin', cappin', balancin' -- Idaho representative Raul Labrador says the House will propose a version of cut, cap, and balance again as part of debt talks this fall. This is the same proposals that has been proposed multiple times, and shut down just as many times by the Democrat-controlled senate. (CDAP)

Shake, rattle, roll -- The notorious "earthquake" on the east coast yesterday may have been widely mocked by those on the west coast, but keep this in mind: It still did a number on the National Cathedral. (Atlantic Wire)

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Tuesday, August 23, 2011

MORNING HEADLINES: Guild wars

Posted By on Tue, Aug 23, 2011 at 8:25 AM

The power to police the police -- Previously, the city council had strengthened the power of the police ombudsman. But after protest from the police guild, an arbiter overturned that increased power. Last night, the city council debated putting that increased power to the voters in the form of an initiative and lobbying the legislature for cities to be able to affect ombudsman rules without needing permission from the police guild. (SR)

Dangerous minds -- A University of Idaho associate psychology professor is suspected in a shooting of a 22-year-old woman. (KXLY)

A slice of Hagadone -- Maybe there really is a recession after all. Duane Hagadone, Idaho resort and newspaper mogul -- owner of the Couer d'Alene Press -- is putting one of his three mansions up for sale. (IS)

DSK A-OK -- Dominique Strauss-Kahn has had all criminal charges against him dismissed. (NYT)


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Monday, August 22, 2011

MORNING HEADLINES: Remember Otto Zehm?

Posted By on Mon, Aug 22, 2011 at 9:33 AM

They got around to it, eventually – Six city council members say they weren’t told, until this week, that Assistant Chief Jim Nicks had changed his mind about whether force used against schizophrenic janitor Otto Zehm was justified. City attorneys had known for over a year. (SR)

Voting is hard work -- Concerns over absentee ballot security means that Kootenai County residents wanting to cast absentee ballots in person will have to drive all the the way over to the Kootenai County Elections Office in Coeur d’Alene (CDAP)

Death in Browne’s Addition – A three-story house fire in Browne’s Addition tore through nine apartments. While several residents escaped down ladders erected by neighbors and firefighters, one man died, and two were hospitalized due to smoke inhalation.  (KREM)

Qaddafi ducks – As rebels take control of Tripoli, in Libya, longtime dictator Muammar el-Qaddafi goes missing. Dead? Hiding? (NYT)

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Thursday, August 18, 2011

Protesters rally against government cuts, McMorris Rodgers

Posted By on Thu, Aug 18, 2011 at 4:22 PM

Ten protesters crammed themselves and their signs into an elevator en route to the sixth floor. They ranged in age, some children, some seniors. The doors opened, and they walked single-file into an office where one man was already being confronted by five others with the same agenda.

The scene began on Thursday afternoon when more than a hundred people gathered at the rotary fountain in Riverfront Park. Some wore costumes, some had misspelled signs, but all planned to march against unemployment. They assembled from different organizations around the city in order to protest in front of Representative Cathy McMorris-Rodgers' office.

“Our focus,” says Todd Eklof, minister of the Unitarian Universalist Church and one of the organizers of the event, “[is] getting our Washington rep to pass laws and policies investing in health care, education and infrastructure to create jobs, Wall Street reform, and insisting the government start protecting the middle class again.”

His church was one of many organizations affiliated with the protest, which also included people from the Service Employees International Union 775 and 1199, Working Washington Coalition, the Spokane Labor Council, and the Peace and Justice Action League of Spokane.

While many groups backing the rally have Democratic connections, the spokespeople said they were acting out of bipartisanship. “We want to make sure those in office understand our values, and we want to address those who are otherwise ignored,” says Eklof.

The group marched through the downtown streets chanting, “What do we want? Good Jobs! When do we want 'em? Now!” Observers stopped and pulled out their phones from across the road, taking pictures of the masses. Passing cars honked their horns; some in support, and some to hurry them through the crosswalks.

Twenty minutes later, they arrived in front of their destination. On the sidewalk at the entrance to McMorris Rodgers' office building, Nancy Avery from the Unitarian Universalist Church was ladling up soup to all who asked for it. The goal was to instill imagery representing the Great Depression, and it seemed successful as homeless people line up at the table.

Angela Gardner is a homeless woman who walked herself and her helper dog over to the gathering. She talked of declining benefits. “I can't work at all,” she says. “I've got too many disabilities. But without SSI, I'd be on the streets.”

Near Angela was a woman of 60  who had recently been laid off. She said that only young people are being hired anymore despite the experience she brings to the table. Next to her was a nurse from Deaconness who said unemployment had a ripple effect,that as people lose health-insurance, the hospital loses patients.

Small sections of the crowd left the sidewalk and soup vending and funneled into the office building. Up the elevator and through the doors, every person was given an opportunity to speak.

“I contact Cathy all the time and tell her I'd like to pay more,” said Sharon Smith. “We own four houses and our tax rate last year was 13 percent. What should we do with all that extra money? Go buy another house?”

The room goes quiet. “We're the people with the money," Smith continued, "and it is wrong. We write an awful lot of checks in order to help people, but it doesn't work. It's needs to happen in the neighborhood.”

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MORNING HEADLINES: Tales of woe

Posted on Thu, Aug 18, 2011 at 9:13 AM

Homes sales bottom out: Thought a resurgent housing market would be revitalizing the country's economy? Think again. (SR)

It's still bad: Don't listen to what the national report from the data collection agency says; times are still hard for single mothers in Kootenai County. (CDA Press)

A bona fide Spokane Valley Caper: KREM's newsroom was apparently deluged last night by reports of a bright light and loud boom over Spokane Valley. They still have no idea what it was. (KREM)

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