Thursday, October 29, 2015

A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night (2014)

So I asked my good friend, Chris, which movie he thinks more people should watch and he suggested A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night

Running Time: 101 (Artsy Vampire) Minutes

Directed By: Ana Lily Amirpour

Staring: Sheila Vand
Arash Marandi
Mozhan Marno

Plot: "In the Iranian ghost-town Bad City, a place that reeks of death and loneliness, the townspeople are unaware they are being stalked by a lonesome vampire." - IMDB

How I Discovered it: I don't exactly remember where I first heard of this movie.  It was all over the place about a year ago.  I heard that it was something that people were very excited about but at the time I knew nothing in terms of plot.  Since then, I've seen that it was on Netflix Instant but hadn't gotten around to actually clicking on it.  (Thank you Chris for giving me that extra push). 

My Memorable Moment: The Girl (Sheila Vand) takes Arash (Arash Marandi) back to her apartment.  The boy is as high as the moon on ecstasy and has no idea what she is.  While they sway to the music, she manages to resist his vulnerable throat. 

Random Facts:
  • The film has been described as "Iran's First Vampire Western."
  • The film is apparently set in Iran but was filmed in the town of Taft in Southern California.
  • The Director has written a series of comic books based on the film that expands on the characters and setting.  
  • This movie is a longer version of a short film also directed by Ana Lily Amirpour.  

Chris' Thoughts:  For myself, the vampire movie has always been an example of our greatest concerns amplified to 11: life, death, love, lust, passion. From the day I saw a red eyed Dracula with one drop of blood on his mouth in a child’s adaptation of Dracula at a school book fair, I have been hooked. So when I saw an ongoing conversation on twitter between an author I follow and others, on what it would be like if the vampire from ‘Let the Right One In’ and ‘A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night’ ever met, I was ecstatically intrigued. The former is one of my all time favorite movies, but I had never heard of the latter. I tweeted so to Alexander Chee, and his response was, stop everything you are doing and go watch it now. I sat down a few days later, and yes. A luscious, vibrantly shot black and white story of a vampire surviving in an Iranian town (Iranian ex-pat actors moving through California doubling as Bad Town, Iran) rife with a James Dean/Byron lead, a drug addicted father lost to love’s memory, a prostitute seeking escape, a child witness to all and fearful out of his mind; every character preceded is so desirous of more, more, more. It’s the human condition, whether you are a supernatural creature of the night, afflicted by drugs or wanderlust, or just gazing up at the lights in the sky, wanting a path to somewhere other than where you currently are rooted. There is the more heady influence of a very present examination of the nebulous, possible intersections of American and Arabic culture; a strident argument for feminism in Iranian culture (the female vampire’s chador is as powerfully enveloping as Dracula’s cape), but at its heart, ‘A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night’ is a dark joyride of the darker temptations that pop culture has always welled up in us: illicit love, the control over life and death, self identity, and of course, the inspiring power of a great pop song to communicate volumes between two people. 

By the way, here is a link to Chris' own blog.  

Saturday, October 24, 2015

22 Things I have recently learned about Life, the Universe and Everything.

So it's been a while since I have gotten a chance to post something about movies.  This will soon be rectified.

First, I want to share 22 things I learned during my recent visit to this place. 

1) Flights can sometimes be delayed for over four hours.  Here is a helpful list of fun things you can do while waiting in an airport:
            #1 Drink Alcohol
*End of List* 

 2) Giovanni Lorenzo Bernini (1598-1680) is considered by many to be Rome's favorite artists.  His sculpture the Ecstasy of St. Teresa has been considered scandalous by some as it depicts an angel thrusting his spear into the breasts of a saint.  Americans don't know as much about Bernini because he was never turned into an anthropomorphic turtle.  

3) My wife will literally find one cat for every city we will ever visit in our lives.  

4) Churches in Rome can be misleading.  On the outside they look like this....

But then you step inside.
(Almost like an allegory.)

5) Everyone and their overbearing mother already knows you're an American tourist.  You might as well flaunt it. 

6) So you know how people say that Pompeii was an ancient city?  Well now it's a city-sized set of ruins to walk around and explore.  The place goes on and on.  We only had 1 1/2 hours before we had to head back, but could have been there all day.  More than any other place in Italy, it gave a true sense of what life was like for people who lived thousands of years ago.    

7) Even on a cloudy day, Capri is more beautiful than Baltimore.  
8) See number 5. 

9) Catching an otherwise debilitating cold while traveling isn't that bad because you're surrounded by places like this and somehow you just push through it. 

10) It's often a smart idea to order pizza when traveling.  1. It's usually cheaper than many of the alternatives.  2. You know you're going to get a healthy portion.

But on the other hand I'm so !@#$ing tired of pizza!

11) I'm assuming that hanging the laundry is not a chore your assign your clumsy seven-year-old son who is prone to dropping things.

  12) Alfred Hitchcock was right. 

13) Venice is the most surreal place I have every been to.  It really feels like you are walking through a dream (especially at night).  You are in a city but there is no traffic and there are canals instead of streets and churches instead of office buildings.

14) Most of the time you need to listen to reason (reason=my wife) but sometimes you need to ignore reason (once again, my wife) and just get that photo you really want.   I really wish I had thought to pack my swim trunks.

(By the way this was taken in Switzerland, not Venice)

15) However, most of the time you should listen to your wife and not jump up and down really hard on the grate. 

16) You can cross an ocean, climb a mountain and journey to the highest railway station in Europe but Baltimore will always know where to find you. 

17) Despite #5, it's still smart to attempt to blend in with local customs and traditions.  Like baby eating. 

18) In Switzerland you can buy the best tasting beer you will ever drink in your entire life for less than 10 dollars at a random gift shop and leave with the assurance that soon you will be returning to America where Budweiser is considered an acceptable beverage. 

19) A hike that I will remember for the rest of my life = A weekly Sunday afternoon stroll for everyone who lives in Switzerland.  

20) Someday I'm going to move to a place where I can walk out of my front door and see mountains.  (Instead of my neighbor's racist bumper stickers.) 

21) Airline seats are really comfortable. 

22) Finally, I know that a lot of the things I have "learned" may be a little tongue in cheek but I'm being completely serious when I say, if you EVER get a chance to go hang gliding actively seek out a chance to go hang gliding.  I know a lot of people who say that they could never do this because they're too scared, but I guarantee you that you will be so happy that you did it.  Yes, I had butterflies right before we took off but once you're up there you don't even consider how it might be dangerous.  It's simply one of the best experiences of your life. 

Also, cat's really like it when you leave them with relatives for two weeks.