Film Review: Lady Bird *kinda spoilers*, this movie was wild. I don’t mean a crazy teen action adventure. I mean I just watched as close as I will probably ever get to “my story” in a major film. It was a little overwhelming.

So big caveat to this whole review: I am a native Sacramentan. When my friend told me it was a coming of age movie based in Sacramento, I scream/blurted “So it’s about trying to escape?!” And of course that’s what it’s about because, truly, what the fuck else is there for a 17 year old to do in Sac but plot their escape. SO onwards…Basically, every moment my husband and I were watching this movie, we were critiquing if it was “Sactown” enough. To answer many people’s biggest question: yes, it is. Watching was like I got to visit home for $5 instead of $500. I will say though, if you did not grow up on the grid or in an adjacent suburb, this may not ring with you as much. That being said…if you are a woman born in the 80’s, born and raised in Sacramento, lower middle class, and white-ish, you will probably at least partially identify with this movie. If you are not those things, you still absolutely know “this” girl or any of the myriad caricatures of Sacramentans in this film.

My husband pointed out the relative “whiteness” of the film, so I actually want to talk about that a little bit. There are certainly some people of color scattered throughout this film, but overall it does look very white–hence, my previous “white-ish” comment. However, I will point out that this is probably *legitimately* intentional. Despite being one of the most diverse cities in the country, Sacramento has huge issues with de facto segregation. I don’t think this is a wild concept for many people to understand, especially people from large cities. However, I feel like it’s worth pointing out that in this case it is not Hollywood white washing everything, but rather a shittily accurate depiction of this place in the world. Just to give you an idea of how this plays out “big picture”: the white population in Sacramento is roughly 33% white and my suburbia high school was 95% white. Just let that sink in. This did not happen accidentally, it was very carefully planned by racist assholes to keep their schools and neighborhoods white. (Sidenote, yes it was *very fucking* awkward to be in that 5% lol/butnotlol.)

So I do just want to spend a smidgen more time talking about the scenery of Lady Bird. For non residents of the Central Valley, all these places are REAL. Like the real deal, real. I cannot tell you how crazy it is to see so many mundane parts of the painting of “home” in my mind up on a fucking giant movie screen. My husband and I basically spent half of the movie trying to stifle our “ohmygod look!!”‘s in an effort to be polite to our fellow movie-goers (because we’re in Texas and these nice folks are just trying to watch a teen coming of age movie without the damn peanut gallery). But it’s really hard not to laugh aloud when they’re talking about knifings at Sac High (a sad reality) and you, like, actually GET IT. For a frame of reference, I once played soccer against girls from Sac High. You have never seen so many yellow and red cards thrown down in a game (on both sides)–so much heated shit talking. There was a fight, there was a ponytail grabbing throw down, the refs called the game early. It was an experience. They also did a phenomenal job of recreating 2002, cd stacks galore, etc. AND! They actually did like cultural/linguistic was so nice to hear someone say “menno” instead of “mento”–it seems stupid and small but it matters. Truly, bravo.

The meat of this movie, the interpersonal relationships, were so on point it left me feeling utterly raw. It’s a typical angsty, teen girl vs. well meaning, frazzled mom scenario. Most teen girls survive it, but man is it fucked up to watch that story you already painfully identify with happening *literally* in the place you grew up. That being said, perhaps this movie resonates most with us “escapees.” It is one thing to complain about Sac being the most boring place under the sun as a teen/early adult. It’s quite another to successfully escape. As with probably many people who finally escape their hometown blues, there is a certain bittersweetness that you don’t fully understand until you’re living it. I absolutely love Sacramento to the bone and when I visit, no matter how long I’ve been gone (I’ve been a non-resident for 7 years), I always feel like “ah, back home.” It never stops feeling like home. But at the same time, I mean it when I say you COULD NOT pay me enough to move back there–family pleading and all. If that is where life takes me, so be it; but it is the antithesis of #goals. So this is that story. To me you don’t have to be a private school student, or a native downtown baby, or even from Sacramento to relate to this story–just, once upon a time you were a semi-edgy youth trying to claw your way out of drudgery.

I am obviously way too biased to say objectively whether or not this movie was good, but I will say I thoroughly enjoyed it–tears streaming and all.




Film Review: Lady Bird *kinda spoilers*

Film Review: Star Wars: The Last Jedi’ve heard some mumblings from Star Wars fans about this film being lackluster and some very passionate words from my other half about character development failings, but honestly I still found the movie entertaining. And since, as a non “fan” (as in fandom), that is all I can ever hope for in a Star Wars film, I’m satisfied.

My major complaint about the film as a whole is the disruption of “moments” with humor or “explanations” for the audience. It was especially bothersome just before the big battle on planet-with-red-dirt. When the man tastes the ground and says “salt.” WHO CARES? It is just meant to be visually striking! We don’t need an explanation on why the top is white and the bottom is red. XD I’ve seen several people complaining about the “Disnification” of this series, and I think this is where you see it most. Yes, there are tons of children watching these movies–but that doesn’t mean we have to have Dora the Explorer level explanations about plot devices and scenery. If the little bitties don’t get it at 8, they’ll figure it out when they rewatch it at 12, 20, 46 and so on. This is honestly something I really enjoy about rewatching films throughout my life. You get to enjoy it differently over time and simultaneously gain huge insight on how age affects your comprehension of stories.

I’m not sure there’s anything else meaningful to discuss here. It was a Star Wars flick–there were fights with light sticks, people said “deep” shit, starships went pew-pew. *shrug* I’m not sure this series will ever be able to relive the glory (for me) of my sweet Ewan riding a giant lizard, so everything else is always a little downhill. XD


Film Review: Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Film Review: Murder on the Orient Express (2017) **SPOILERS** would just like to start by saying that I had zero desire to see this film ever, let alone in the theaters. But, I thought it might be nice for the hubs if we went and saw a movie he wanted to see without me bellyaching or being like “bruh, have fun with your friends.”  So here we are talking about the worst movie I’ve paid to see in a long, long time.

So bad, that the only reasonable explanation for so many past life A-listers appearing is that they are all friends & were high af watching the original and decided they wanted to remake it for kicks. The reason I say this is because, as a mystery it’s not really that mysterious after the third or fourth interview. Perhaps the plot is better managed in the book (or the ’74 film that I haven’t seen), but here it is god awful. You mean to tell me that a WORLD RENOWNED investigator doesn’t realize everyone is in on it after finding out that three or four people are? And if they are all in on it together, why do they ALL admit to knowing the same fucking family of people that they are avenging. Is Agatha Christie actually just making a comment on how stupid people are? lol

So if you like old style, dumb mysteries (no judgement) then you might enjoy this remake. It definitely comes off cinematically like a shinier version of an older film.


Film Review: Murder on the Orient Express (2017) **SPOILERS**

New to the Library: “Year of the Monkey” Osso & Sufjan Stevens; arr. Michael Atkinson got this track to add to a mix cd for my mom, a year-of-the-monkey herself. I’m not sure that I love it, but it -is- good.

It is stark and bewildering. In many ways, a complete contrast to their “Year of the Dragon” (me : D). Although it begins bright and a bit shy, most of the track is filled with dissonant chords, phrases that start and stop, and seemingly none on repeat. This finally works its way into a huge swelling bridge that overwhelms the senses. It then takes a huge gasp for breath and pushes harder into the swirl of discomfort. After which, the bridge promptly breaks down into jangling that is even more disorienting than the beginning of the song. It is very much the kind of compositional arch you might find in a running-confused-through-the-forest type film scene.

Overall, I find it quite beautiful in a jabbing, dangerous sort of way. Definitely worth a taste.


New to the Library: “Year of the Monkey” Osso & Sufjan Stevens; arr. Michael Atkinson

On Repeat: “Bury Me With It” Modest Mouse song very rapidly and unexpectedly became my anthem for around the clock–walking to work, working, walking home, showering, and knowing me–singing it in my dreams. I never seek out Modest Mouse songs, they just sort of *find me* when I need them the most.

I think, in part, it was really the only appropriate theme song for my approaching-return-of-saturn apprehension. In general the lyrics are basically like, “if life isn’t gonna be a damn ball, then I’m fucking going down with it” hammered throughout with the “PLEASE bury me with it!” This was clicking really well with my nostalgic review of my 20’s–what was really rad that I don’t want to lose? What do I never want to experience ever, ever again? All underlined by Isaac Brock’s exasperated delivery of “I just don’t need none of that Mad Max bullshit.”

In terms of composition, the track has a lot of “regular visitors” from the Modest Mouse sound–not a bad thing. This quality helps you “feel like home” in many of their songs. I do love the little repeated bass licks in this track. It really helps keep it all moving forward. It’s also really fun to listen to how the drums and bass sort of flow in and out of each other–it’s very subtle, but is cool to focus on through a listen.

All in all, this is a great jam. In the same breath, I don’t know that I’d offer this as a first Modest Mouse song to a new listener. It’s sort of like your rowdy, drunk friend. They are a blast to hang out with, but it might be a little awkward to introduce them to a stranger before they sober up.


On Repeat: “Bury Me With It” Modest Mouse

On Repeat: “BTSTU” Jai Paul song is so damn hypnotic. I considered not giving it a second shout out, since I’ve already reviewed it as new music–which, itself, was really just a redirect to the awesome Pfork review. BUT. It is really that fucking good.

I was already in love with it when I decided to make the purchase, and it has really blossomed into a steady obsession and is in the regular “pretend I’m a rock star in the shower” rotation. It has this slurry dubstep bass that just pulls at the raw part in my soul. This alone is enough to suck me into the jam time and again, but on top of that it has this beautiful sonic counterpoint of his soft, angelic melody floating through the verses–so that just as you are about to drift off into some falsetto induced reverie, you get hit with this deep, sludgy pounding that wakes you right the fuck up.

It really is a magic track. If you STILL haven’t listened, please. do. You won’t regret it, I promise. : D


On Repeat: “BTSTU” Jai Paul

New to the Library: “Spanish Death Song” The Builders and the Butchers this is new to my digital library, it is not new to the marriage-merge CD library. But! This creates a nice opportunity to give a shout out to a great little song that helped me through some shit times in Eugene, OR. For whatever reason, the first few tracks of this album (The Builders and the Butchers) became my daily post-Safeway-hell go to. Maybe it’s the nostalgia for the god-awful swine flu that I had in 2009…we’ll never know.

The vocal melody on this track is hypnotic.  But I think even more than that, the percussion on this and several other songs on this album is what drives the addiction. They use many different percussive instruments throughout “Spanish Death Song” and it really gives you the feel of being in a live music circle. Which to come full circle, is not that far from the block-surrounding-the-Kiva vibe of downtown Eugene. If you’re into faux-gypsy-indie-clap-alongs, check this one out. : D




New to the Library: “Spanish Death Song” The Builders and the Butchers