LiC Photo of the Week: Late Night Tacos

Well, I’ll think twice next time before word of mouth convinces me to see a movie I’d been skeptical about. I take that back. I’d have seen The Help (**)  anyway because I like to keep on top of movies that become a part of the wider spread conversation, but… yeesh. Alas, I think I crapped on it enough and my review so I don’t want to spend the whole Watercooler repeating myself. People who see it love the movie and it’s doing nicely for itself at the box office.

On a brighter note, the remake of Fright Night (*** 1/2) was much better than I expected it to be. It added enough wrinkles to the admittedly corny original film (I still like the original, but rewatched the original a couple of nights ago and it’s pretty dorky) to justify its existence and remain fresh and surprising. It did a great job of mixing humor and horror and it got some good performances out of Anton Yelchin, Imogen Poots and especially David Tennant taking over for Roddy McDowall’s role in the original. Tennant shifted gears from his Doctor Who persona for sort of a Russell Brand-type character though less infantile and more self aware. A little more problematic is Colin Farrell as the vampire. In the original, Chris Sarandon’s low key menace make him believable as a possible innocent human being, but with Farrell’s laid back sleaze, there isn’t a moment’s doubt. Maybe I was hoping for a little more teeth gnashing and scenery chewing, but Farrell was borderline somnambulent at times. He got better as he went along, but the verdict is still out for me.

Making Charlie a reformed nerd was a nice touch. There’s also a great sequence in the middle where he sneaks into the vampire’s lair to rescue a neighbor who has fallen into victim to the blood sucker.

This week’s photo is another attempt to capture Los Angeles at that moment between darkness and light. Taco stands are an ubiquitous fact of life around here and Henry’s is a particularly long-lived one near where I live.

That’s all from my end. Now it’s your turn. See anything interesting lately?

31 Responses to “Help!”

  1. TCM was celebrating Montgomery Clift yesterday as part of its Summer Under the Stars series so we watched A Place in the Sun and The Heiress.

    We’re now watching Gunga Din for Cary Grant day. :-)

  2. I saw Fright Night too this weekend and I enjoyed it, but I’m already forgetting about it. Pure popcorn entertainment, but it has its moments. I liked all the performances, including Farrell. He’s playing a predator whose been preying on the weaker race for 400 years, so I found it credible that he gave up on pretenses long ago and takes great pleasure in his power. I loved the little moments in his performance, like the one where he quickly sizes up the house when he realizes Charlie is a possible threat, or the look of immense satisfaction when Charlie succeeds in saving one of Jerry’s victims. Jerry doesn’t feel the need to hide because he actually enjoys the challenge Charlie provides.

    Anyway, the film has its moments and its decent remake in that it goes in a completely different direction from the original yet remains faithful to the basic premise of the original. I was a little surprised it got an R rating though because it felt a little restrained at times.

    I also saw Rise of Planet of the Apes. A ridiculous premise and a thoroughly convoluted narrative, but the second half of the film has its moments and it sets up the inevitable sequels well enough, so mission accomplished. The early ape effects are awful, but once they settle in with the adult apes the characters and visual storytelling really flourish. It works for what it is, but other than the capable effects work I found it all sort of boring.

  3. Watched Rise of the Planet of the Apes a few hours ago. Despite the trailer and promotion of the film sucking ass, Apes was very enjoyable as a film and is a film I could honestly put in a Top 5 for “Film of the Year” with ease for now along with Midnight in Paris (I have Apes and Paris for Top 5, but I’ll later think for 3 other films when 2011 ends).

    Dunno if you’ll like Apes Craig, but Serkis alone is worth the ticket.

  4. Haha, I guess we had opposite reactions to Rise, Rodrigo. To be honest, I think if you didn’t mind the CGI in the first 30-40 minutes and you were into the plotting, then the film would work fine for you. Like I said, it sets up the sequels just fine. But I found myself constantly being taken out of the movie by narrative elements that didn’t jive for me, and for me that’s a sign that a film has failed. I think I’m in the minority on Rise.

  5. Monty Clift is one of my favorites Alison. I probably bring this up every time his name is mentioned, but I love I Confess, it’s the underrated Hitchcock film where Clift plays a Catholic priest to whom someone confesses a murder. It’s based on an old 1902 French play and probably wasn’t a terribly original idea to begin with, but my mom was big time Catholic so I have a huge soft spot for it. I’m not sure Monty’s methody style was a great fit for Hitchcock, but what the hell? I think it’s interesting anyway. Maybe not the best from either man, but good enough.

    Joel, as I mentioned above, my favorite sequence was Charlie’s rescue of the neighbor right up to the (for me) unexpected resolution of that thread. The part where Charlie watches in horror as Farrell chows on her was strong. Honestly I think the R rating came mostly because of the F-bombs. Sad but true that you can only get away with a couple before it’s an automatic R. Otherwise, yeah. PG-13 material.

    Rodrigo, I haven’t seen Apes yet but that’s a pretty stunning Top 2 pairing! I ALMOST saw Apes this weekend, but I’m still having a hard time getting over my skepticism despite most people telling me it’s at least good while others are raving about it.

  6. Craig, I love I Confess. It really is one of Hitchcock’s most underrated films. Clift’s style may have not been a good match overall for Hitch but I thought it worked really well in that film.

  7. And how often do you get the chance to see two greats working together? Ok, so maybe it’s like pairing Yo Yo Ma with Keith Richards, but hell, I’d buy a ticket for that too.

  8. I’m so jealous! I missed the Monty festival, had no idea it was going on. Crap.

    Watched “The Conspirator,” which I’d been itching to see since it was released but never got a chance. My reaction was decidedly “meh.” Much as I like James MacAvoy, I don’t think he was very effective. You’d think he only had three expressions in his acting bag: contemptuous; clueless; and indignant. It was a surprisingly uninspired performance. Robin Wright Penn was good but one-dimensional. There is so much there but it’s almost like Redford gave her that wonderful Garbo/Queen Christina direction “think of nothing” and she took it way, way too seriously. The art direction and sets were pretty magnificent in their drabness, though. In the end, the thesis of the story is a powerful one and I genuinely enjoyed the court scenes (well, I felt outraged watching them). Part of me thinks that this film would have packed a stronger punch had it been released, say, 6 or 7 years ago, but alas, here we are and, though told in a dull way, its message is undeniable.

  9. DP, I was kind of meh on Conspirator too, though I liked McAvoy a teeny bit more. It was a pretty thankless role. I agree that the movie came 6 or 7 years too late. Redford’s intended modern parallels didn’t come across as strongly as I think he hoped. To me the movie was more of an appalling reminder of how little has changed in 200 years.

  10. Craig, did you hear about how Sean Penn totally dissed The Tree of Life and Malick? I personally thought it was a tacky, shitty thing to do.

    Here’s a link to one of the stories: http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/movies/2011/08/sean-penn-terrence-malick-tree-of-life-critical.html

  11. I did, and planned to include it in today’s News du Jour piece when I have enough worth passing along to bother.

    The dude is entitled to his opinion, and it’s true his role is one of the more controversial aspects of the film for people who didn’t dig it. It’s also true that the role probably didn’t need a Penn-caliber actor, but at the same time, I don’t give a shit what Sean Penn thinks about the movie any more than I give a shit what Malick thinks about Penn’s overacting in Mystic River. It’s not Penn’s movie. He’s just a guy who happened to be in it.

    His inability to understand the point of his character or Malick’s inability to explain it is sort of irrelevant. If Malick could just explain himself in words, perhaps he’d write a book instead. Or publish this script that is supposedly so amazing.

  12. Also, I wonder if Penn comes out better in this fabled super-mongo-extended cut of Tree of Life people were buzzing about a couple months back.

  13. Love that pic, CK. I watched Rope this weekend. I always forget what a great movie it is. I love the characters, particularly Farley Granger’s; nerves completely shot, pacing and having a panic attack every five minutes. And of course, the long shots are fun to watch.

  14. “Rope” is one of Hitchcock’s best movies for me. The staging is obviously incredible, and the performances are fantastic.

    Penn’s comments: yeah, actors are entitled to their view, but usually when they criticize a movie it comes off the wrong way, regardless of whether you agree or not with their complaint. Shia LeBeouf sounded like an ungrateful child with his “Crystal Skull” comments, and Colin Farrell did the same with “Miami Vice”, which I felt was a shame since he’s so good in that movie. Penn might feel burnt for having his role reduced, but he’s worked with Terrence Malick before. He knows what he’s getting into. And honestly, “Tree of Life” with a conventional narrative simply wouldn’t be “Tree of Life” for me.

  15. I saw The Trip. Funny, but I probably would have enjoyed it more in isolated scenes, or a shorter cut. They were very funny, but it was a little repetitive and slow.

    Now I want a taco.

  16. Granger is awesome in the rope. Funny too that John Dall (he is a little weird in this movie, in a good way) worked with at least two of the all time great directors, Hitchcock and Kubrick, yet he’s not a guy anyone ever thinks about. He was great in Gun Crazy though.

    Penn is one of those “honest actors” who doesn’t pull his punches, but yeah, it’s dangerous territory. In the case of Farrell and LaBeouf, they were kind of right so it didn’t seem quite as bad… yet it still made them look classless.

    And yeah, a more conventional Tree of Life might’ve been a Ron Howard movie.

    Jennybee, I’m curious to check out the original series of The Trip. Apparently it was edited down from 6 30 minute episodes that aired in the UK. Not sure if it worked better this way or if it would’ve worked better in its original format. I liked the movie version, but suspect it might’ve been better spread out.

  17. Huh, I had no idea. I’d bet they worked better.

    I’d hoped to see Apes this weekend, but was given a choice between this and The Help. Guess I chose wisely, though when you’re in the mood for CGI ape chaos and instead you get Steeve Coogan, it’s bound to feel a bit off.

  18. Imagine if you’d seen Apes, Trip AND Help together!

    Well, I saw Help and Fright Night, but I saw Help first so you can’t blame Fright Night for setting the wrong tone.

  19. JB, I imagine you will enjoy Apes more than I did and I recommend you see it before it escapes the larger screen in your neighborhood. SEE IT.

    I just wanted to chime in with my love of Rope, one of my favorite Hitchcock films. The storytelling gimmick Hitchcock employs gets a lot of attention but at its core, this is a solid thriller. I love how Hitchcock repeatedly stages important background elements behind the dialogue, allowing the audience to casually notice a scene building towards a tense moment but not focusing on it in way other than framing and timing. Brilliant stuff.

  20. Ack, I couldn’t take that Craig.

    Rope is great. I’ve only seen it once but have thought of it several times since. I think I like it more now than I did right after I saw it. Ages well in the memory.

    I didn’t ever manage to chime in last week for the Watercooler due to some technical difficulties and apparent ADD. I had a bunch to say there, but I don’t recall what it all was, except that I watched The September Issue one morning on Netflix when I was a little bored and looking for something not too taxing. I actually enjoyed it a lot. It’s at least as much about the process of putting a magazine together as it is a profile of Anna Wintour. As a behind-the-scenes slice of the haute couture life it definitely held my attention.

  21. One of my favorite aspects of Rope is how Jimmy Stewart kind of starts out this confident smart-ass spinning yarns about offing people to give the old ladies a buzz and slowly as the story goes along he starts to realize words can kill and by the time he figures out exactly what the two fellows are up to, he’s a mess.

    That and Farley Granger trying to bury his nerves in booze and basically having a cow throughout the entire picture while John Dall seems like he’s having the grandest of times.

    JB, Is September Issue another one of those docs where I don’t give a rat’s ass about the subject matter, but it turns out there’s an awesome story underneath that will keep me captivated and ultimately blow my doors off?

  22. Craig, I know it’s pretty wild to pair Apes and Paris, but those are the only two films from 2011 that I could put abouve the 4-star range for now. But I really loved Apes due to the plot and Andy Serkis was amazing in it.

    Haven’t seen Source Code, Hanna, Bridesmaids and Tree of Life yet, among others. Can’t be arsed to put a proper Top 5 ranking of films with the few films I’ve seen this year.

  23. I think it’s just been awhile since a summer movie has fired on all cylinders for me the way you want them to. You’re not the first person to have that happen with Apes and It makes me all the more curious to finally get off my ass and see it.

  24. Lucille and I also managed to see several new releases at the multiplexes and art houses. Here is what I saw this past week:

    Another Earth **** (Thursday afternoon) Montclair Claridge Cinemas

    Crazy, Stupid Love **** (Tuesday night) Edgewater Multiplex

    Sarah’s Key *** (Friday night) Teaneck Cedar Lane Cinemas

    Odds Against Tomorrow ***** (Wed. night) Robert Ryan at Film Forum

    Clash by Night **** 1/2 (Wed. night) Robert Ryan at Film Forum

    On Dangerous Ground ***** (Saturday night) Robert Ryan at Film Forum

    Act of Violence ***** (Saturday night) Robert Ryan at Film Forum

    Born to Be Bad *** 1/2 (Sunday afternoon) Robert Ryan at Film Forum

    ANOTHER EARTH is much less “sci-fi” than advertised and much more an affecting examination of characters, grief and remorse, fueled by the work of two impressive leads and some deftly-woven metaphysical images. The conclusion is unsatisfying, but in large measure it’s a film that builds some valid feelings in it’s constricted confines. Impressive atmospheric score too. CRAZY STUPID LOVE was rather a major multiplex surprise, and an unusually original approach to the material that becomes more engaging as the film moves forward. A few scenes near the end are true comedy classics, and the cast is uniformly impressive.

    Robert Wise’s 1959 ODDS AGAINST TOMORROW is a noir classic that stands even taller on the big screen. A bank heist tale with a racial underpinnings, the tight script was written by noir icon Abraham Polonsky and superbly acted by Ryan, Ed Begley and Harry Belafonte, atmospherically lensed by Joseph Brun, and jazzily scored. This was the second time I managed to watch CLASH BY NIGHT in the past months at the Film Forum, and again it straddles on the five-star rating line. Barabara Stanwyck is moving in a late career turn, but Ryan is equally exceptional. Nicholas Ray’s ON DANGEROUS GROUND is one of the director’s greatest films (Bernard Hermann’s score may well be his most magnificent in a storied career) and a film of deep emotional resonance. It’s an elegiac work with compelling psychological underpinnings and it’s beautifully filmed. And it’s that rarest of birds: a noir tear-jerker, though I say that in the best possible sense. Ray’s little-seen BORN TO BE BAD is far more significant than just a vehicle for Ray completists, though it’s lesser Ray in a larger sense. Fred Zinnemann’s ACT OF VIOLENCE is a briiliant work with a buffo railroad staion set piece, and deeply affecting story with hooks back to the Nazis. Ryan and Van Hefflin are fantastic, as is Mary Astor as a woman in a bar. SARAH’S KEY is an uneven World War II drama that comes off as convoluted, while intermittantly presenting some stirring individual moments.

  25. craig, can I ask you a technical question about your photo?

    what shutter speed are you using here?

  26. That particular shot was 1.3 seconds at f/22 and ISO 100.

    My original vision for the pic involved the streaking car headlights much more, but I wound up cropping it on the sides to focus more on the taco stand itself.

  27. Haha, I just totally nerded out with a long explanation for what I did and why in that photo. Luckily I realized in time no one cares and I deleted it.

    (sigh)

  28. Yes — Rope is good. Jimmy Stewart seems a bit out of place in it, though.

    I saw The Guard and enjoyed it despite some lapses in the screenplay. For a first effort, however, it’s great — and Brendan Gleeson shows us his talent.

    Also, I caught up with Woody Allen’s musical, Everyone Says I Love You, which is quite delightful despite Allen’s less-than-successful inspiration in executing nonsinging actors in singing roles. I get where he’s coming from, but that aspect didn’t quite work. Still, it’s a film that deserves more recognition than it has received.

  29. What about Jimmy doesn’t fit for you, Pierre?

    If I wanted to put The Guard under a microscope, I could probably come away with a few things about it I didn’t care for, but I’m willing to swallow them because Gleeson is so much fun to watch. I was a little surprised we didn’t get more out of Don Cheadle though. He was the producer of the film and I think he wisely realized at a certain point that it was best if he just stood back and let Gleeson have the spotlight. It became less of a buddy-cop movie than I thought it was going to be, but not to its detriment.

  30. JB, Is September Issue another one of those docs where I don’t give a rat’s ass about the subject matter, but it turns out there’s an awesome story underneath that will keep me captivated and ultimately blow my doors off?

    It won’t blow your doors off, no. Might prop them open for you for an hour or two to let some fresh air in, though. If you watch, watch with low expectations. I ended up being much more interested in the magazine’s art director than in the editor. The art director wasn’t what I would have expected, had I thought about it. Wintour pretty much was, thanks to Meryl Streep.

  31. Fair enough.

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