Monday, 22 July 2024

Arts & Life

DAN IN REAL LIFE (Rated PG-13)


On the surface, “Dan in Real Life” has a less-than-auspicious premise for a comedy starring Steve Carell, the leading man from “The 40-Year-Old Virgin.” A widowed family-advice columnist coping with three rambunctious daughters, Carell’s character falls into an awkward relationship during a family getaway at the Rhode Island seaside. The annual family outing is the gathering of an extended clan, where a long weekend spent in the close quarters of a crowded house filled with quirky, prying relatives seems vaguely reminiscent of “The Family Stone.” Fortunately for us, the chemistry in “Dan in Real Life” is so much better that the inevitable family tensions are easier to take.


Steve Carell has developed an Everyman quality that serves him well in his film roles. His advice columnist Dan Burns, widowed the past four years, is able to dish out family counseling with ease, while nonetheless finding it difficult to maintain order in a household of rebellious girls.


He’s coming close to the Steve Martin territory of the cinematic clueless patriarch. Dan’s kids want nothing to do with a road trip from New Jersey to the New England coast, perhaps because dad is so overprotective. Oldest child Jane (Alison Pill) is anxious to use her driver’s license. Middle child Cara (Brittany Robertson) is delirious about her devoted boyfriend, while the youngest Lilly (Marlene Lawston) is only mildly tolerant of her father’s quirks.


Once arriving at his parents’ beach house in a quaint Rhode Island village, Dan has managed to alienate all of his kids, something that does not go unnoticed by Dan’s mom (Dianne Wiest).


Taking a timeout by heading off to the local second-hand bookstore, Dan is mistaken for a store clerk by an alluring, cultured woman named Marie (Juliette Binoche). Going along with the deception, Dan offers questionable advice on an odd assortment of books as suitable reading material.


Soon, the sales pitch has to do with more than books, and Dan feels real, live sparks that he imagined would never be revived since the death of his beloved spouse. The mutual attraction is undeniable, and after a lingering conversation over coffee, they go their separate ways with an unstated expectation of meeting up again.


As fate would have it, that reunion occurs all too suddenly and most awkwardly. After returning to the family home with a gleam in his eye, Dan enthuses over the girl he just met, only to soon find out that Marie is the new girlfriend of his younger brother Mitch (Dane Cook). Oh, talk about embarrassment and discomfort. In a house with very tight quarters, Dan and Marie are thrust into a tricky situation as they try to squelch and cover up their growing mutual attraction at every turn, leading to some comical situations.


And just when things couldn’t get more uncomfortable, Dan’s family sets up a blind date for him with a long-forgotten classmate. It turns out the girl has blossomed into an attractive sexpot (Emily Blunt), which only serves to stir up jealousy on Marie’s part.


“Dan in Real Life” hardly falls into the sitcom mode of farcical contrivances, though it apparently struggles near the end for a convincing resolution. Nevertheless, the film is touching and funny in all the right ways. An awkward moment like the shower scene plays for laughs without getting cheesy.


One might ask about the film’s poster, where Steve Carell’s head is resting forlornly on a stack of pancakes. This image is fraught with symbolism, which only makes sense after seeing a breakfast scene during which Juliette Binoche deftly wields a spatula.


The beauty of “Dan in Real Life,” full of wry humor, is its uncanny ability to wring some laughs from some very ordinary situations.


DVD RELEASE UPDATE


Since we’re talking this week about a new movie in which Dane Cook is the cuckold, maybe it’s only fitting to feature the DVD release of “Mr. Brooks” in which Cook had a supporting role as the photographer ensnared in the web of a serial killer.


The tandem of Kevin Costner and William Hurt, the yin and yang of the respected businessman with a deep, dark secret, captivates an audience bent on thrills.


The DVD of “Mr. Brooks” includes deleted scenes and commentary from the writer/director. There’s a featurette that may shed more light on Mr. Brooks’ sadistic alter ego, Marshall, played with chilling menace by William Hurt.


Tim Riley writes television and film reviews for Lake County News.


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BUCKINGHAM – A group of local artists will host a Christmas Open Studio Nov. 1-3 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at 2932 Buckingham Drive, Kelseyville.


The event will feature the works Diane Stawicki, Joan Mankins, Gaylene McComb, Katie Folk, Toni Anderson and Jan Hambrick.


Watercolors, pastels, acrylics, clay and fabric art will be offered.


Come meet the artist and join the group for some Christmas cheer.


In addition, the Leah Adams Christmas Boutique will take place Nov. 2-4 at 2698 Greenway Drive in Buckingham, featuring decorative painted gifts.


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30 DAYS OF NIGHT (Rated R)


You can tell Halloween is just around the corner when gory, bloodthirsty vampire movies seek to take a big bite out of the box office. “30 Days of Night,” for those unaware, is a miniseries of horror comic books that tells the tale of vampires enjoying a month long buffet in Barrow, Alaska, which is the northernmost hamlet in the Western Hemisphere. Due to its geography, this isolated village is plunged into total darkness for at least 30 days during the winter. This, of course, makes the place the ideal vacation spot for hungry vampires, who have no fear of imminent sunlight.


Legendary horror film producer Sam Raimi, who also has a long resume of writing and directing movies in the genre, employs the services of David Slade (“Hard Candy”) to direct “30 Days of Night.” The press notes say that Slade started his career as a journalist, later moving into directing. One is tempted to ask where he went wrong. Apparently, he didn’t go wrong with this movie, unless the director gets the blame for hiring some of the actors, particularly the lead character of Sheriff Eben Oleson (Josh Hartnett).


Hartnett has the unfortunate distinction of having even less thespian skill and charisma than Ben Affleck. His wooden style of acting is not a complete hindrance here, where his primary function is to remain somewhat stoic and laconic in carrying out his police duties. But then it works against him when having to sort out his marital problems with estranged wife Stella (Melissa George), involuntarily stranded due to the missing the last flight out of Dodge.


The premise of “30 Days of Night” is as simple as the graphic novels upon which it is based. The vampires show up in Barrow as if they had 30 day passes to Disneyland. The first telltale sign of something amiss in the tranquil frozen tundra of Alaska are the brutal slayings of all sled dogs and a smoldering pile of cell phones. As darkness falls, only the hardiest band of citizens stays behind in Barrow for a month long candlelight vigil. The cunning, bloodthirsty vampires, led by ultra creepy Marlow (Danny Huston), relish a month of free rein, and they quickly set things in motion by snacking on a few people whose disappearance won’t be noticed right off.


A scraggly, mysterious stranger (Ben Foster) wanders into town, babbling incoherently in apocalyptic terms and issuing vague threats that increasingly rattle some of the townsfolk. This guy looks like he spent a couple of months wandering aimlessly on Skid Row, drinking Jack Daniels by the case and without once taking a hot shower. Even when ensconced in a cell, the Stranger unnerves Sheriff Eben’s younger brother Jake (Mark Rendall) with psychobabble that makes Charles Manson practically coherent by comparison. It doesn’t take long for you to wish that the vampires might turn on their informant.


The fun parts of this movie are when the vampires go absolutely bonkers in their full-scale attacks on hapless victims. For the most part, they are virtually indestructible and possess physical strength normally reserved to superheroes. Because they appear invincible, you are left to wonder when the townsfolk will figure out their Achilles heel. Maybe it has something to do with grandma growing medical marijuana in a potting shed. In any case, Sheriff Eben and Stella fitfully try to keep alive the dwindling population, as they hide Anne Frank-style in an attic.


Sluggish at times, “30 Days of Night” nevertheless overcomes some of its dull spots by turning out some terrific vampire action. The undead creatures really do look menacing, unlike vampires seen in other movies. The vampires here don’t look like fashion models in GQ, wearing nicely tailored suits. These guys mean business, bearing their fangs in the ultimate bloodlust. For the horror freaks, blood and gore are rampant in “30 Days of Night,” and the film works well enough to elicit some real emotions and passion. You could do worse in this Halloween season, like seeing the umpteenth version of “Saw.”


DVD RELEASE UPDATE


The Pink Panther cartoon character is one of the coolest ever. There, I said it.


Thus, I am looking forward to the November 6th DVD release of “The Pink Panther: A Pink Christmas.” The coolest feline in cartoon history stars in this family favorite holiday special, which debuted in the final days when the cartoon series ran from 1969 to 1979.


Along with other features on the DVD, there’s “Pink Panther: Pink at First Sight,” when our penniless hero takes a messenger job on Valentine’s Day.


Tim Riley writes film and television reviews for Lake County News.


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Pictured are Phil Mathewson, left, and Stella (Karen Priest). Photo by Joanne Bateni.

 

 

KELSEYVILLE – The inaugural Artisan Luncheon on Oct. 21, presented by Stella's Select Catering, was well attended with about 40 artists and musicians enjoying Stella's sauces and marinades with pasta and salad while entertaining each other.


The Clear Lake Park Symphony Orchestra members (Karen Priest, C.J. Laubenthal and Tony Jarvis) performed their favorite tunes with their keyboard and bass backup. Joan Moss, local folksinger and writer, played her 12-string and sang some songs from one of her many CDs.


Jazz singer, Samaya, once an acclaimed local performer, now residing in Minnesota came back to perform for the luncheon. Anita "Chiquita" graced the stage with her lovely voice accompanied by Charlie Kettleson. Ed Moore and Yvonne Moore, Lake County Sing a Long Society members, played guitars and sang their great country tunes. William from Inner Skies, recited poetry from memory.


Many other musicians entertained the crowd as well. Inner Skies from Lower Lake exhibited their tie die art and puppets on the patio, while Phil Mathewson, local artist and musician, displayed his original abstract art in the lobby including his famous "Black Cat with a Pumpkin."


Penny Jahn, barrista from Victoria's Cafe, displayed her birdhouse collection and other unique gift items in front of the building. Mike Nadeau and Charity Huskey presented information on auto mileage improvement.


Stella's thanks the Kelseyville Lions Club for the generous use of their clubhouse for the event and Kelsey Creek Coffee Roastery and Main Street Bakery Organic Artisan Breads for providing the coffee and breads respectively.


Kudos to all the volunteers, musicians and artists. Next year will be even bigger.


Some of the same great performers and artists will be at the Day of Enlightenment at the Tuscan Village, Lower Lake on Saturday, Oct. 27, beginning at 1 p.m., in case you missed the Sunday show or want to see them again.

 

 

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It's always been about the art. The artist's responsibility to the people. And the people's responsibility to support the art that sustains (and improves) the culture. Unfortunately, from this peculiar position from where we sit, there is the phenomenon of this huge ass middle man, a nefarious shape-shifting conglomerate of moneyed slaver characters who have controlled our music from the beginning.


Employing tactics inclusive of serfdom, slavery, addiction, crime family enforcements and even the kiss of death! Don't get me started. Whoops, I already have.


The great Jimi Hendrix spoke to us posthumously on this subject. "They'll wrap you in cellophane and sell you,” he sang from the grave, cluing us on how hard the majors (labels) play. The list of great players who have suffered foul play as a result is huge and scary. Just this past week a bait and switch undercover scheme was pulled on T.I. Take care ya homework, children!


The great strides that music history tells us were made by Satchmo, Diz, Bird, Monk, Max Roach, Miles, King Cole, Belafonte, Gordy, Ruth Brown, Ray Charles, Little Richard, Sly, Fela and Marley, among others, are continually relegated to mere asterisked glitches of accidental genius by some chroniclers of this rich lore.


If I can borrow the title of one of Lester Chamber's joints in this compilation. The whole system of music dispensation in America, historically has been Evil And Wrong.


Enter the maverick Davis Brothers. Not the blues brothers, they bear no resemblance to Amos and Andy either. Get it? If you hear any noise ...


I can only imagine the obstacles Soul-Patrol has had to face and will continue to overcome as long as it's breathing. What is clear is the Digital/Virtual Album concept is a brilliant stroke of marketing that presents the music responsibly to the people who then have a real say in defining our culture by supporting the artists. No American Idol Simon says Gospel this or that is ho hum but your dress size wins the prize, etc. ad nauseam.


I'd like to mention every artist that contributed to the Soul-Patrol.Com Digital/Virtual Album, but because of space and time constraints I can't. I will say that every artist contained therein deserves to be there and has the chops to prove it. I did listen to every song at least twice.


Got to give it up to the Groovemeister Chico Hamilton for all he has given and discovered along the way. From his first band in high school with the likes of Charles Mingus, Dexter Gordon and Illinois Jacquet, his Chamber Jazz Groups in the 1950s, his groundbreaking work in the 60s with Gabor Szabo and Charles Lloyd, Mr. Hamilton worked with everyone from Lionel Hampton, Count Basie, Duke Ellington, T-Bone Walker, through Billie Holiday, Lena Horne and Shuggie Otis. Chico Hamilton, like his octogenarian percussive peers Max Roach and Roy Haynes is truly a conquistador of layin' down that groove.


Must give praise to Public Enemy for not losing a step, beat or rhyme. The One Son Lion Ra & Lotus for a vision of what Hip Hop can be. The Mighty Dells for continuing to be the champions they are. The Coasters for showcasing the fact they they are not just a novelty act from the 50s. Lester Chambers for being a survivor. Ditto Mr. Waldo Weathers. Cutting edge Soul Patrollers Nadir and Marlon Saunders. Angel Risoff for being down with his sound. Jill Sharp for that Southern Soul Ann Peebles thang. Me'na for elevating. I want to compare her to June Tyson but I won't.


Lastly to all that funk that was represented; Munkeez Strikin' Matchez, Mike Calhoun & The Holy Ghost, Mandrill still on the front line, Neftali funkin' for the Lord. Now that I've started namin' names, I can't stop of my own accord. Just like the music. I'd like to go back and listen to the SOUL-PATROL.COM DIGITAL/VIRTUAL ALBUM one mo' gin just to get it scraight fo ya. But those darn Davis Brothers have moved the files and I kain't get back in. Y'all will have to check it out for yourself.

 

 

T. Watts writes about music and culture for Lake County News.


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CLEARLAKE – When Wild About Books opened in April the owners thought adding local art to the bookstore would be a great idea.


When we invited the community to share their art in the bookstore, we thought we would meet a few talented artists. We found out that there is an enormously creative community of artists in our community and we want to celebrate it! This is your chance to meet one of the artists that have their art in the bookstore. You can ask questions about their art and art process. You will see some unfinished pieces and works in progress.


The artists currently showing and selling their art in the bookstore are:


  • Constance Blackwell's Japanese folk tale art are currently being shown in the Bay Area, but her prints and other mediums are available for view and purchase.

  • Mary Beth Alternader’s art selections show the range of this artist moving from watercolor to oil and acrylic paints, but also in themes as well, you will see still life, landscape and many local birds.

  • Cathy Davis, her giftable items range from decorative wine bottles to delicate sculptures.

  • Donna Crawford, known to many as the “Bag Lady,” her one-of-a-kind purses, bags and totes are made from amazing fabrics and colors.

  • Rosemary Dontje’s polymer clay creations can be special ordered for amazing conversation piece gifts.

  • Raul Gilbert, photographer has captured photos of Lake County and more.

  • Andi Gletty currently is displaying gift cards from her colored pencil prints, many with a spiritual theme.

  • Local gourd artists Queenie Moon and Rebecca Stark have many fine creations.

  • Doug Marble’s wooden inlaid sculptures have made great bookend gifts for book lovers.

  • Internationally known weaver Sheila O’Hara’s The Flockettes, Egyptian dogs and stunning landscapes are on display.

  • Zack Peters is the book store muralist and current window painter, his tie-dye shirts are currently for sale.

  • Amanda Rawlings is our Enchanted Lass whose dragonfly and fairy jewelry and bookmarks are wonderful gifts.

  • Robert Roberts, local cowboy artist, you may recognize a barn or two from his pencil or pen and ink drawings of barn art.

  • JP Sarlande’s watercolor drawings are breathtaking showing the color brilliance of our Lake County skies.

  • Thomas Yuhas is a well-traveled photographer who is currently showing photo art he has taken over the years.


Wild About Books will host an artists reception beginning at 3 p.m. Monday, Oct. 22, at the bookstore, 14290 Olympic Drive, Clearlake.


If you want to experience art in different mediums all in one location, join us in celebrating our local talent. This wonderful event will bring community together in sharing art.


For more information, please call 707-994-WILD (9453).


If you are interested in selling your art through Wild About Books, please contact Ellen Lundquist at 707-994-9453.


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