Awake: 8:15 a.m.
Movies: 9:15 a.m.: Seraphim Falls (B-); noon: Breaking And Entering (B-); Princess (C); The Fall (B+)
Food: cheeseburger (with BBQ sauce, pickles, LTO); chocolate truffle brownie; Satay chicken skewer, spring roll, and Szechwan noodles with chicken and vegetables
Drink: fast food medium Pepsi; bottle of Coke; bottle of TsingTao; two glasses of water; half-can of gingerale
Gum: 4 squares* Eclipse spearmint
Music: iPod shuffle
Print Media: The Onion
TV: none
Conversations: the usual crowd**
Bedtime: 3 a.m.

*I realized yesterday that these are more "rectangles" than squares. If only my two-year-old daughter were around to set me straight.

**Poker night part two, still with me on the sidelines.

Movie notes: Even though it had zero buzz, I was looking forward to Seraphim Falls, because its director, David Von Ancken, has helmed some visually exciting TV series like Cold Case and Without A Trace, and directed a short film, Bullet In The Brain, that's pretty darn cool. And Seraphim Falls gave me about what I'd hoped for: an ambitious-but-not-too-unwieldy western yarn, with a handful of well-staged showdowns. (Including the first 20 minutes, which consists of a long, mostly wordless chase.) Pierce Brosnan plays a retired Union colonel who's being hunted down by a vengeful Confederate (played by Liam Neeson), and their personal post-Civil War war plays out from the snowy mountains to the blistering hot desert, stopping off at a series of familiar western situations. The movie's undone by a dopey ending–suffused with faux-Peckinpah mysticism–but it's mostly a brisk, unpretentious genre piece, and I for one can't get enough of those. … Speaking of problematic endings, Anthony Minghella's Breaking And Entering has one of those wrap-everything-up-quickly finales that doesn't seem entirely thought through, since it lets more than one character off the hook for some pretty despicable behavior. But for about the first hour or so, Mighella gets a lot of mileage out of a novel premise, involving urban planner Jude Law, his stressed-out girlfriend Robin Wright Penn, her autistic daughter, and an office break-in that drags Bosnian refugee Juliette Binoche and her thuggish teenage son into the picture. Minghella uses their various crises as a way to explore the state of the culture in the UK circa 2006, from technology to sports to the disorders du jour. It's not bad, but it's almost designed to look better in a decade or so, when we want to remember the way we were. … After skipping The Fountain yet again, I slipped into Princess, a very adult animated feature about one minister's campaign of vengeance against the pornographers who exploited his sister and five-year-old niece. It's stylish as all get out, and boldly bleak, but man is it depressing, and, in its own way, exploitative. It's one of those movies that rubs the audience's noses in depravity and degradation, pushing shock value well into the red. Naturally, it's Danish. … Hey, remember Tarsem? That arty video director dude who made the godawful serial killer melodrama The Cell six years ago? Apparently, he's spent much of the last several years working on a continent-spanning, whimsical epic called The Fall, about a hospitalized stuntman who makes up a wild (and wildly metaphorical) bedtime story for a young girl, all about masked bandits and clannish villains. The fantasy stuff is visually stunning–if not especially engaging as a story, though that's part of the point–and the interactions between the stuntman and the little girl play out with a strange naturalism, almost unscripted. I also appreciated that, unlike The Cell, the movie doesn't take itself so seriously. My only reservation? I'm not sure all the pageantry has any real meaning, aside from supporting an offbeat tribute to storytelling and the egotism of artists. But it's obviously deeply felt, and strange, and for those willing to get into the movie's fanciful space, a treat.

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