Monthly Archives: October 2015

Sleeping With Other People: A Review

Sleeping with Other People is a fine sex comedy that follows the life of two people, a womanizer named Jake (played by Jason Sudeikis) and a serial cheater, named Lainey (played by Alison Brie), who meet in high school, and form a platonic relationship that helps reform them in many ways as they build up actual true feelings for each other. Helped by good performances, and a fairly decent screenplay, along with some genuinely funny moments, Sleeping with Other People actually works, despite some of my problems with the protagonist.
Sleeping with Other People is good because of the performances of its two leads: comedian Jason Sudeikis in the role of Jake and Alison Brie who is as charming as ever as Lainey. The film also contains a very well-written script which is written by the director of the film, Leslye Headland. Some of the dialogue, such as “I don’t even know sixteen guys… no the same guy sixteen times”, and “I appreciate your concern Superman, fly away!” had the audience and myself laughing. There’s even a nice flash, speed-up-sequence, showing night and day which was great.
The supporting cast includes Jason Mantzoukas as Xander, a friend of Lainey’s, Adam Scott as Dr. Matthew Sovocheck, Amanda Peet as Paula a man Jake briefly dates, Adam Brody as Sam, and Katherine Watterson as Emma, another one of Jake’s flings. Each of these actors bring something to the film, and help to elevate most of the material from pretty decent to very good.
My issues with the film’s male protagonist, Jake, are that he comes off in some scenes as being kind of crazy, and these scenes are just not very believable. For example, when he’s at a restaurant with Lainey, he randomly decides to beat up an old foe of his, who had insulted him in the past. It just comes off as unnecessary. Lainey’s character even has her own moment of being a psycho when she tries to throw Jake near a car in the beginning of the film because she’s pissed off with him. Jeez, what kind of human being does that?
Overall, Sleeping with Other People is a pretty decent comedy. Produced by Will Ferrell and Adam McKay of all people, Leslye Headland’s comedy about sex and relationships is definitely worth checking out.

Irrational Man: A Review

Irrational Man is Woody Allen’s latest feature. The story takes place in New-England and follows a Rhode Island philosophy professor, Abe Lucas (played by Joaquim Phoenix), as he decides to spice up his life, by committing a heinous act, kill a famous judge. Simultaneously, Lucas is balancing his relationship with one of his college students, Jill (played by Emma Stone), and his relationship with a colleague named Rita (played by Parker Posey). This film may not be up to the standards of some of Woody Allen’s best, but, much to my surprise, I found myself enjoying the tale of a crazed maniac who didn’t have much, if any, moral regard.
Irrational Man works because, in spite of our unsympathetic character, we are taken in sympathizing with Lucas due to his personal narration (provided by Phoenix). Phoenix’s laid back performance helps us realize how disturbed his character really is, but also explains his motivation to kill the judge. Lucas justifies his actions because he sees the judge as a bad person, who intentionally let a woman lose a case, and although we can certainly admirable that, we also see how deeply disturbed he has become.
His relationship with Jill, is very typical of Woody Allen’s older man/younger relationships, as in his film Magic in The Moonlight. It isn’t merely a romantic relationship, as for most of the film it’s obvious that he’s trying to avoid her. Whereas, in his relationship with Rita, it is more romantic and sexual. Both relationships provide insight into Lucas’ character, and sharply contrast from each other, with Jill being the more aggressive partner, and Rita, the more passive one.
The performances are very, very good. Joaquim Phoenix, delivered his best line probably when he said, “A choice I believed in. I felt like an authentic human being”. Emma Stone, as Jill, brings her usually spunkiness to her character, even though we may not necessarily believe her to be a college student. Her best scene is when she confronts Lucas, and says, “You killed Spangler”, although her character’s relationship with her boyfriend is under developed. Parker Posey, who gives the film its best performance, provides her usual charms. Her character, Rita, is seen acting drunk at one point in the film, and she pulls it off really well.
Like all Woody Allen films, the direction is excellent, and the movie is beautifully shot. There are especially striking scenes of Abe and Rita standing and walking on the rocks near the water. The score is not as memorable, but there are some nice jazz pieces I could hear in the background from time to time.
The film’s biggest drawback is its lack of focus for the first forty minutes or so. The plot feels like it could have gone in any one of many different directions: a college drama, a comedy about a man who decides his life needs some spicing up, and so forth. It isn’t until we get to the murder aspect that it starts to get a little more interesting and focused. Overall, I’d say that Irrational Man is certainly a fine film. It didn’t leave me with any big lasting impressions or change my life in any serious manner, but it did do what it was supposed to do. I entertained me. If you are a fan of Woody Allen, or are just interested in looking for something to watch, I would definitely recommend checking it out.

November/December Classes for Kids

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BOTANICAL PRINT CARDS, STATIONERY & FRAMED ART

Ages 8-12, parents welcome; ages 6-7 welcome to attend with an adult

Saturday, November 7, 10:00am-noon at Catamount Outback Artspace

Instructor: Dana Karuza-Tulp

Children and their parents/caregivers will preserve the glory of the fall season with botanical prints. Class is limited to 12 participants.

Workshop fee: $12 for first family member; $10 for each additional family member. For information on scholarship availability, please call Anne Campbell at 802-748-2600 x108Registration deadline: November 5

 

DESIGN AND CROCHET A WINTER HAT

Ages 10 and up

Thursdays, Nov. 12-Dec. 17 (excluding Thanksgiving), 4-5:30pm at Catamount Outback Artspace

Instructor: Heidi Lyons

This class offers participants a hands-on interactive experience of designing then making an original crocheted hat, perfect for the coming winter. Parents and other adult caregivers are welcome to participate. Class is limited to 7 students.

Class fee: $60 for 5 weeks per person; bring your own crochet hook (size 6.5mm/K) or purchase one at the first class for $3. Other materials included. For information on scholarship availability, please call Anne Campbell at 802-748-2600, ext. 108Registration deadline: November 9.

 

BOOKS COME ALIVE!

Ages 5-8

Tuesdays, Nov. 17-Dec. 22, 3:30-5:00pm at Catamount Outback Artspace

Instructor: Sha’an Mouliert        

We’ll take the elements of favorite books and make them come alive through creative expression such as theater games and skits, visual art, movement, music, and storytelling. Class is limited to 12 students.

Class fee: $65 for 6 weeks. 10% off for siblings if paying in person at the box office. For information on scholarship availability, please call Anne Campbell at 802-748-2600 x108Registration deadline: November 9

 

CORN HUSK HARVEST DOLLS

Ages 8-12, parents welcome; ages 6-7 welcome to attend with an adult

Saturday, November 21, 10:00am-noon at Catamount Outback Artspace

Instructor: Dana Karuza-Tulp

Students and their parents/caregivers will make harvest dolls from corn husks, sticks, feathers, seeds, and acorn caps. Students will have a choice of step-by-step instruction or using the materials to create a harvest figure from their imaginations. Class is limited to 10 participants.

Workshop fee: $12 for one family member; $10 for each additional family member. For information on scholarship availability, please call Anne Campbell at 802-748-2600 x108Registration deadline: November 13

PAPER MARBLING

Ages 10 and up, parents welcome

Instructor: Bill Tulp

Saturday, December 5, 10:00am-noon at Catamount Outback Artspace

Learn to make colorful marbled paper, a technique from the 1200s. Students will create a variety of unique designs that can be used for cards, stationary, boxes and other items. All materials will be provided.

Workshop fee: $12 for one family member; $10 for each additional family member. For information on scholarship availability, please call Anne Campbell at 802-748-2600, ext. 108Registration deadline: November 23

 

For more information or to register: http://www.catamountarts.org/outreach/classes-for-grades-k8/

And don’t forget: “Midnight in Snow” make-and-take holiday card workshop on Saturday, Dec. 12 from 9:30-noon at Catamount Outback Artspace as part of St. Johnsbury’s Victorian Holiday celebration – FREE!

Peter Miller’s Squashed Gallery Opens

Photographer and author Peter Miller has reinvented his Waterbury gallery. Renamed The Squashed Gallery, photographs hang in rough formations on all walls. Miller’s award-winning books are also on display and they are bins of inexpensive prints.

The exhibition includes wine harvest photos taken in Margaux, France and street photography from Paris. Mr. Miller created the images in the 1950’s. On the opposite wall
are large color scenic and black and white portraits made in Vermont.

The Paris photographs were published in his book, The First Time I Saw Paris. The wine harvest photographs have never been published.

The gallery is next to a four bedroom Airbnb that the photographer recently opened in his home. The Airbnb is unique as a library in the Airbnb includes the photographer’s collection of photograph books. On the wall of each bedroom are framed photos from the author’s archive.

“I plan,” said Mr. Miller, “to attract photographers and offer them packages that include lodging and photo tours of my favorite locations.” His photos have been exhibited in New York, Paris and Tokyo and the photographer-author will be signing his latest award-winning book, A Lifetime of Vermont People.

The opening is Friday, October 16, from 5:00 PM at 20 Crossroad, Waterbury, two houses south of Ben & Jerry’s. French wine, cheese and hors d’oeuvres will be served.

Infinitely Polar Bear: A Review

Infinity Polar Bear is a bittersweet, comedy/drama that follows a manic-depressive father named Cameron Stuart, played by Mark Ruffalo, as he tries to win back his wife, Maggie, played by Zoe Saldana, by taking full responsibility of their two daughters, played by Imogene Wolodarksy and Ashley Aufedheide, while she’s off in Boston doing an important job. The task proves much harder than he expected.
Infinity Polar Bear is an overall well-done and well-paced film that deals with a real-life problem in a not so serious way, but enough for me to consider it a drama. One of the things I really appreciated about this film was that it felt very much like a realistic slice of a life story. Although the father, Cameron, was presented as being a jerk, but given his manic-depression, I felt it made sense that he would have social issues. He wasn’t presented as being a cruel father, but he did do a lot of stupid things and even embarrassed his kids on one or more occasions. He tried to be the best Dad he could be, in spite of his disorder, and even helped one of his daughters with her skirt.
The acting in the film is really, really good. Mark Ruffalo plays a very crazy character really well. In the first scene, we are shown his mania, as he starts acting next to a car that his children and wife are in. Ruffalo’s character is well intentioned, but suffers. Zoe Saldana, as his supportive wife, also does well playing a character who is willing to suffer along with her husband, despite all their problems. To my surprise, she is not in the film as much as Ruffalo, and disappears throughout scenes because of her work. Wolodarsky and Aufedheide, both newcomers, also do well in their respective roles as their daughters. Aufedheide, in particular, has a good scene showing a lot of anger and frustration toward her father for trying to ask her friends over, because she thinks they’ll disapprove of the apartment he’s living in since it’s such a mess.
The direction of the film is by Maya Forbes is fine, not spectacular in terms of camera-work, and the score by Theodore Shapiro gave me a “sunny and happy” feeling, despite it being, overall, a somewhat bleak film. There are some scenes where I’m not sure if I’m supposed to be crying or laughing. For example, in one scene, Cameron goes to see his former boss, starts tearing up his office, and even punches him. This got a huge laugh reaction out of me, but I’m not sure if that was the filmmakers’ intent. Maybe it was just the way the film was shot, but that scene was certainly odd to view in context. Infinitely Polar Bear is a good, enjoyable, and nicely done story about a family trying to stay together in light of the problems they are facing. Infinity Polar Bear is obviously not for everyone, but if you get the chance, I definitely recommend checking it out.