Sunday, April 11, 2010

Reviews: Reads, viewings and cultural events

This could possibly be my last "I-had-tons-of-fun-and-relaxed" type of an entry for a long time. Not "forever" long, but let's say six weeks long. Maybe, if I'm really optimistic, only 4 weeks long?! May 14 is the BIG DAY, after all, the day that my students take the Spanish AP Literature Exam and then I don't have to worry about that class or those test results until July. By that point, I hope that I'm sitting in a cafe in Spain or France, drinking a café which is then followed by some red wine. Life will be good and I won't care that/if my students (who are all brilliant, I must add) end up with 2's on the AP and I get "sacked" as they say in Britain.
Okay, back to the more recent present, enough with the fantasy!

On to the reviews. Since I've had time to myself, I have actually tried to be somewhat "cultural".
First of all, I finished a book that I needed to read for the school 'book club' (yes, we are all nerds) in which I occasionally participate. It frequently depends on the selection, but this one was great and I would highly recommend it: The Intuitionist by Colson Whitehead. It was a fascinating read, and I think I need (just like The Wind-up Bird Chronicle) go back and re-read the end. I was totally devouring last Sunday night, staying up until 12:00 am which is pretty insane for me! It was a great read, seemed to take place back in the 50's but is pretty indeterminate and could almost be present-day if you let your mind wander and imagine. It definitely intertwines themes of race, groups, and beliefs with a suspenseful story, a strong and interesting protagonist. I would, if you couldn't tell, HIGHLY recommend the novel. I'm considering exploring some other works by Whitehead, hoping that they won't disappoint.

Next on the agenda, the visual arts: LACMA's "American Stories: Paintings of Everyday Life". Really, I should say that it's the Met's exhibition here at the LA County Museum of Art, the Getty's poor stepsister which I happen to like more than the Getty, but that's another topic. Anyways, it was a first-rate exhibit with some really wonderful paintings. I was a bit disappointed that there weren't more (or any?) works by the Hudson River School, which I've grown to admire and love thanks to Michael's input and influence. BUT but but, there were some just amazing paintings by Winslow Homer. Just gorgeously wonderful. This image doesn't do it any justice at all, but I thought that I would show "The Veteran in a New Field" (1865). There were also some wonderful Sargents, but not enough. Never enough!

Following the exhibition, Michael and I went to Lotería, our favorite Mexican place in LA. We need to try some other places, but this is just SUCH a good favorite. We split enchiladas, one in salsa verde, the other in salsa roja. Yum yum!

Finally, because I haven't had to stick rigidly to a morning routine, my evenings have been freer, and we've enjoyed several movies over the past ten days or so. We started with "An Education" which I liked much more than Michael - I just thought it was so interesting on different levels and well-acted. Perhaps it's because I am IN education and I work with high school students that it rang true in a way? Also, I remember myself at 15, 16, 17... Awkward and geeky. Good times.
We also watched "The Queen" - I know, it's been five years or so? Not the best movie, but I love Helen Mirren, and I did think that she was amazing. What was even funnier was that Michael Sheen (not the American guy) plays Tony Blair, and we realized that he was in "The Damned United" which we enjoyed.
"Men Who Stare at Goats" - Not the best movie in the world, but it had a great cast (I'm a sucker for Jeff Bridges and some of the other members of the cast) and some funny moments. Overall, a silly premise, but that's okay.
"The Professionals" (1966) - Also somewhat silly, in that 1960's-Western-type-of-a-way. Again, a great cast, although did Burt Lancaster ever REALLY act?! Some great lines, my favorite being "-You bastard. - Yes, Sir. In my case an accident of birth. But you, Sir, you're a self-made man."

If I only I were that sharp on my feet. I'd be a self-made woman.


Kim said...

I love LACMA! I haven't been in ages, so thanks for the little reminder :)
I really liked "An Education" too. I'm not sure why, exactly, but I felt engaged for the whole film (which says something since I tend to just fall asleep if I'm the least bit bored). I thought "Men Who Stare at Goats" was dreadful. Great cast, terrible story. I love movies. I still haven't seen "The Queen" so I should probably put that in my queue.
Have a great week!

Anonymous said...

I love reading your blog because you are 100% more cultured than I am. I can't wait to read The Intuitionist. It will be a welcome read after my fling with Jackie Collins.

I love Flight001 but it is very expensive!! Talk about the coolest store ever though. I walk through there and think oh, I need this and that....

Kristina said...

Yeah, "Men Who Stare at Goats" = NOT a great movie. I think someone (George Clooney?) came up with the premise after smoking a ton of pot.

Oh, I have my very uncultured parts. Usually I feel like the "cultured" aspects of my life are the "pretend" aspects. In fact, I even got dressed up (for me) before going to the LACMA. Meaning - I didn't wear jeans but corduroy pants.