Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Messenger: A review of the movie

Go see The Messenger when it opens with a limited release on November 13, 2009. I thought I hated it. That’s how effective the movie The Messenger is. How could you not feel restless and question your decision to watch as two soldiers tell family after family their son is dead that their husband is dead that there son is dead?

Director Oren Moverman’s realistic, continuous shots lock you into the real time of pulling up to the ranch home with clothes hung out to dry and children playing in the yard. Through Harrelson and Foster’s characters relationship we see the terror, torment and the destruction of war in the lives of those who return home as well as those who do not. There is no musical score to add drama. The characters and their stories evoke tears. The acting is extraordinary. The tragedy remains firmly in the experiences of these humans having to bear the cost of war for all of us.

In one scene, Harrelson and Foster’s characters begin drunkenly goofing off in a parking lot at night. The boys play war. As their play becomes increasingly more frenetic, it transforms into the men working through their own post traumatic stress and strikes at the heart of their innocence before the war while pointing to the harrowing realities of war they are left to live with. The men fall to the ground at the close of the scene revealing broken selves in disarray after their military service.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Steelers’ Bar: A Review of The Shark’s Cove and Gabe’s Bar and Grill

Walk from the Strand into The Shark’s Cove and this native of Pittsburgh thought she found heaven; a Steelers Country banner over the kitchen and flat screens everywhere with the ocean's salt water in the air. A man dances on the bar with his terrible towel and the fight song in stereo plays at touchdowns. The mystique of the ocean and fight song could not compensate, however, for the fact that this self-proclaimed Steelers Country local had been invaded by fans in Texan jerseys who were very unfriendly about sharing their large table. As if their snootiness about reserving the best seats for their Texan friends wasn’t bad enough, I saw Pats jerseys. Enough said.

Gabe’s Bar and Grill, 2965 S. Sepulveda, on the other hand is a true nation of Steelers. Despite many of the regulars having been born and raised in California, their Steelers upbringing taught them what it means to contribute to the building of a nation: Steeler country lives every game day here. A simple, bar bones bar fills with people in Steelers jerseys who welcome you and buy you a beer. High-fives are exchanged in rounds at every TD and crucial play. Who needs a stereo when the room can bellow “Here we go Steelers, here we go” while pounding fists onto the board covering the pool table? Being the most traveled fans in the league, it wouldn’t be a true nation of Steelers gathering without a makeshift something to show off the ingenuity of Pittsburghers. Ask for Amy and grab a Rolling Rock, I recommend the Mean Joe’s chix strips n’ fries. Next week I’ll let you know how the Ben-sized Roethlisberger Berger tastes after we play the Lions. This Cheers of Steelers Nation is just South of I-10 on Sepulveda and there is parking in the back. The lot doubles at the field for the half-time touch football game.