Saturday, December 31, 2011

2011 Ticks Away

This was a good year. It was not a roller coaster or speeding bullet, or filled with any more drama than usual. I continue to be blessed with an incredibly loving and patient wife and fabulous job and workplace. We are surrounded by family and friends, both of which multiplied handsomely in 2011.

There was only one big story this year; we finally moved. After over 2 years of cramped quarters in my old bachelor pad, we made the leap and moved to a condo in a gated community with nearly 3x as much square footage. We now have access to a clubhouse and pool. I really miss the old, historic neighborhood, but it was time. We've adjusted quite nicely. The move was a wise decision for a myriad of reasons, one of which we've yet to employ: having guests. Well, we did have 3 people stay with us for 2 nights in October when a freak snowstorm in the Northeast prevented their flight home. We had just set up the guest bedroom the weekend before - talk about good timing! The details of this stay should be revealed soon.

Christmas 2011 was very nice, with the usual hopping among houses from Jupiter to Coral Gables. No scenes, no screaming children demanding more (and fancier) gifts. Examine last year's entry - the little girl in question grew up this year, maybe because she now has a baby brother? Her demeanor was far better and less greedy. Chritsmas 2011 had great food, great fellowship, and lousy weather. Well, it WAS sunny and beautiful, but warm. You know how much I hate that. The entire month of December has been unseasonable. I really long for those future days when the fireplace won't be merely on our TV.

My mother's status has not changed, but thank you Jesus she has not regressed. Her contentment with her predicament continues to disturb me, and it is becoming more and more appearent that a major disruption is needed. Read: she needs a different rehab facility that will do more than merely provide low rent accomodations.

My grandmother turned 98 this year. All things considered, she is doing remarkably well. It is with relief and awe that I state that her biggest problem lately is with her television's remote control (since the digital cable switch). She does still struggle with loneliness. I wonder if 2012 will be the year she needs a change of venue as well?

I won't consult the Mayans, but I'm looking forward to a fruitful, healthy 2012. Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Get Crazy

If you've ever served or just hung out backstage for a theatrical production you know well how frenetic things can get. I have not ever lucked into backstage passes for a concert, where I've heard things can get downright Bacchulean, but I did volunteer for a few community theater and school productions and spent time behind the scenes with friends who apprenticed at the Jupiter (formerly Burt Reynolds) Theater. Not the same as that of a rock and roll festival, I grant you, but a similiar atmosphere of (somewhat) controlled chaos reigns and at any moment, something rather extraordinary can happen: an unannounced celebrity may sneak in the back door, a shower of sparks may rain on the flyspace, or a performer can ad lib something more inspired than what was planned.

Those things, in one form or another, all happen in writer/director Allan Arkush's thoroughly whacked 1983 comedy, GET CRAZY, a film he based on his time ushering at the famed Fillmore East venue in NYC in the early 1970s. This is another of those films for which you have to dig as it has not received a DVD release, likely because of the music in it, and the associated rights and royalty issues. Such has held up/prevented the release of many other films, especially from the 1980s. GET CRAZY was released on VHS way back and pops up on obscure cable channels every once in a while. I happened to notice the title on the On Demand menu and quickly grabbed it, having not seen it in nearly 30 years.

GET CRAZY concerns a New Year's Eve concert at the ficticious Saturn Theater in L.A., a much beloved hall that has seen its share of anarchy over the years, what with flower power hippies, glam boys, classic rockers, bluesmen, troubadours, and punk and New Wave maoschists taking the stage. This night in 1982 is the 15th anniversary of such shows, featuring artists, (some of whom are portayed by real life musicians) of the above genres including: Captain Cloud and the Rainbow Telegraph (hippies); Nada, an all-girl rock/punk band with occasional vocals by a rather destructive singer called Piggy; Auden, a Dylanseque recluse (played by Lou Reed); King Blues (Bill Henderson), heir to the throne of Muddy Waters and Howlin' Wolf, and Reggie Wanker (Malcolm McDowell, in one of his most entertaining performances ever), a clear parody of Mick Jagger. There's even a subtle ribbing of McDowell's unfortunate lead role in CALIGULA.

The myriad of subplots include threads dealing with the preparations for and the show itself, threatened by evil record company exec Colin Beverly (Ed Begley, Jr.) and his 2 lackey yesmen who want to buy the Saturn from beloved longtime owner, Max Wolfe (Allen Goorwitz/Garfield) who seems to be in every other movie I've seen lately, and turn it into a high rise. Max is modeled after Bill Graham, the legendary concert promoter who wanted to make Big Acts accessible and affordable to the average listener. Colin could be any corporate jackass who's littered the headlines over the past few decades.

We also meet stage manager Neil Allen (Daniel Stern) and former Saturn stage manager named, yes, Willy Loman (Gail Edwards) who happens by. In the midst of the fracas, the film slows down to chart their obvious budding romance, sometimes framed in cute fantasy sequences.

But once the concert is underway, GET CRAZY really shines. By then we've been given some fine character work by each actor, who, including McDowell, sings his or her own songs. Their stage personas are natural extensions of their offstage selves, and it just adds to the fun (and sense of genuiness). Wanker's backstage excesses of every imaginable sort turn sour and inspire him to return to the mic for an encore, an uncharacteristic ballad that leaves even the punks misty eyed. By the way, the music throughout this movie is damned good. One funny motif: after King Blues does his version of "Hoochie Coochie Man" (which the film has him as the originator), the other acts cover it. Each time, Blues overhears and is impressed, at one point stating "I'm going to go bask in my own genius".

During my recent viewing, I was surprised at how much I remembered of this film. But also, how unrelentingly goofy much of it is. Some of the gags in this movie are painfully dumb, and mostly drug related: a rock group's jet flies upside down when the pilots get high, a robot named Electric Larry shows up at key moments (soundtracked by Adrian Belew's trippy "Big Electric Cat")with briefcases full of pharmaceuticals to "save the day", and one of the audience members is literally a walking marijuana joint. And so on. The pace of this movie is rapid fire, the gags nearly non-stop. There is incredible energy, undeniably. Much like Arkush's previous foray into rock comedy cinema, ROCK AND ROLL HIGH SCHOOL which prominently featured tunes (and appearances) by The Ramones.

GET CRAZY is mostly recommended for music philes, the type of people who can list album tracks in order, argue about whether the Beatles sound better monoaurally or in hi-fi, and read artist bios. It is obvious Arkush has real affection for his time at the Fillmore, and this film is an imagining of what that hall might've been like had it survived past 1971. It is at various times a clever, vulgar, silly, insightful, stupid, and rockin' good time. I might consider it a small classic if it had dispensed with some of the wackier gags and just tried to be a mock documentary, or a rose-colored glasses remembrance like ALMOST FAMOUS. I still recommend it to those who..well, if you read this far you know who you are.

P.S. Lou Reed's character, Auden, sings a sweet tune live over the credits. I've also neglected to mention how funny his take on Dylan is.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Friday, December 23, 2011

Merry Christmas Eve

I was never really a fan of Better Than Ezra, but this holiday tune is warm without being sugary.



Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Wintah Wundahland

This version is a particular favorite of Uncle Angelo's on E. 4th Street:



...

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Going Elsewhere

I was greeted with this sad news on Facebook yesterday. I feel fortunate to have visited earlier this year (see previous post). If you are in the NYC area, check them out one last time.


It is with heavy hearts that we write to inform you that after dinner service on Friday, December 23rd, Elsewhere Restaurant will be closing its doors permanently. The reason is simple: While we had great food and service and a loyal following to prove it, we never attracted enough business, with enough consistency, to be sustainable in this location.

We would, howeve...r, like to go out not with a whimper but with a bang. So we encourage you to join us for dinner this week and help us clear out the wine cellar as we say goodbye to our loyal friends and neighbors. Monday will be half price wine night, as always. For the rest of the week, all bottles over $60 will be 25% off. (As the end draws near, who knows, we might start letting you name your own price!) Thursday and Friday, come in and eat like family; no menus, just Megan, Leigh and staff cooking what they love until we run out of food! Please make a reservation if you can (on the left, right here on facebook).

It has been a roller-coaster of a year for us and we couldn't have made it this long without the support, encouragement and return business of you, our loyal friends and neighbors. Thank you for being a part of the journey. We look forward to seeing you this week at Elsewhere and forever at Casellula!

Brian, Allen, Megan, Leigh, Sarah and the rest of the Elsewhere Team

Monday, December 19, 2011

Your Audiology Tutorial: $%!@*?^#

As I unfold the Palm Beach Post each day I am greeted by an ad for a local audiology group, exclaiming that they are ready to fit the hearing impaired with the latest technology, and for a competitive price. Every single day. My patients bring me these ads as well as the glossy mailers which promise very low costs for sophisticated devices. Never mind that sometimes the hearing aid pictured doesn't match the description.

Such advertising is irritating. I feel it cheapens and merely commoditizes the profession. Even worse is the ad above, from a Walmart in Texas. Hearing aids, off the rack. A commodity. When someone purchases amplification at a legitimite clinic, they are not only spending $$ on an electronic device but also a service. The fitter will/should spend ample time fitting and programming the hearing aid to help the patient with speech understanding and clarity. The fitter will ensure a proper physical fit and acoustic adjustment. One does not get this when merely buying an aid from a retail store.


It is also increasingly common to purchase these behind-the-ear and in-the-ear (not custom made, obviously) devices from Internet websites. Many audiology and dispensing organizations are fighting this. How can a patient adjust these aids on their own? What if they simply make everything (including air conditioners, ticking timepieces, flushing toilets) louder while still rendering a spouse inaudible? I suppose eventually that as tech savvy folks reach their "golden years" they may be more adept at self-programmming than the current elderly, who largely are not. Anyone who has programmed or worn hearing aids know how difficult it can be to get benefit from them when they are expertly programmed. Time will tell.....

Friday, December 16, 2011

Low Key?

It's December, time to report on the annual holiday work party. I see I've done it for the last several years so why break tradition? Although, I must say that this year's event was far less colorful than past ones. Dare I say it was, low key?

We met at McCormick & Schmick's, a somewhat upscale seafood chain with really good mahi mahi (we had an alternate choice of beef). I saw the full menu and would like to go back. The key lime pie was not so good, surprisingly. The sweetness won out over the tartness. Good in a person, but unfortunate in a key lime pie.

While there was a gift exchange, it was not the "white elephant" kind, with outrageous gag gifts and the ability to trade your selction with someone who picked an earlier number. Many of the gifts were alcoholic (including the red wine I received). One of the docs also gave me the whiskey set he received. Someone on my list will be the lucky recipient of that. I like whiskey, maybe once a year. On the other hand, I don't want to encourage my FIL or anyone else to inbibe too much.

The practice gave out Employee of the Year awards, a first. It was a tie between 2 very deserving ladies: a nurse and a front office staffer. Five year service awards (sterling silver engraved bookmarks) were also handed out. A very nice time. No embarrassing drunken behavior! I was pulled out on the floor to dance, but only for a few minutes. This was not a wild bash - even the after party at Blue Martini was subdued, at least for the 1/2 hour or so I was there.

So there you go, invisible audience, another for the record. I love my workplace and everyone there. I have not always been able to honestly make that claim, unless awash in holiday booze. Here's a toast to sobriety/moderation and a stellar practice!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Everything is Illuminated

I remember clutching my grandmother's original engagement ring, knowing that I would present it to my bride-to-be. The ring was over seventy years old. It was a beauty with its regal pearl firmly set atop a silver band. I thought on all the years it had seen and survived; the stories it could tell. An inanimate object. Something that will one day turn to dust. Maybe I'm over personifying, but it had lived long enough to represent familial bonding, love, committment. It sometimes seemed as if it would audibly cry out in joy. The mere sight of it an evocation of powerful emotions.

2005's EVERYTHING IS ILLUMINATED features a young Jewish man named Jonathan Foer, named after the author of the book of the same name. He seems a bit off. Something about his aloofness, his cautiousness in even his posture. Perhaps those suspicions are confirmed as first-time director Liev Schrieber's camera pulls back to reveal a wall in Jonathan's room, covered floor to ceiling with a myriad of objects in plastic bags. We spy them long enough to discern that they are keepsakes, pieces of the boy's life. All with stories to tell. A scene or two later, Jonathan sits by his grandmother on her deathbed. He asks her about the significance of someone named Augustine after she hands him a photograph of his grandfather and the mysterious woman. The grandmother sighs and then passes on. Jonathan bags the false teeth she had left on her nightstand.

Years earlier, the boy had stood by his grandfather's deathbed, eventually taking his bedside curiosity - a chunk of amber containing a cricket. As he currently examines the photograph, he notices the woman is wearing the amber on a necklace. He will retrieve the artifact for his trip to Russia - a pilgrimage to a place once known as Trachimbrod- to learn of his heritage and what of the significance of Augustine.

Once in the Ukraine, Jonathan (Elijah Wood) meets up with Alex (Eugene Hütz), a youth obsessed with American popular culture, and his crotchety, anti-Semitic grandfather (Boris Leskin), the tour guide. EVERYTHING IS ILLUMINATED continues in a comedic vein, with the American having a real time of it adjusting to life in Russia (a dinner scene is especially amusing), and dealing with his 2 cranky travelmates. There's also a dog belonging to the grandfather called Sammy Davis Jr., Jr. The grandfather is horrified to learn that the namesake singer was Jewish.

The film gradually becomes more serious, though never overly somber, as the men get closer to their destination. An elderly woman who has much in common with Jonathan and, it turns out, with Alex's grandfather figures prominently in the final passages of EVERYTHING IS ILLUMINATED. The significance of seemingly trivial tchotchkes will beautifully render Schrieber's film quietly crushing. The essence of identity is also significant, perhaps even stronger, from opening to closing, with some late hour revelations about one character the anchor of not only the story, but larger themes writer Foer probes. Are we only what others remember? Is a piece of ceramic or the like the only tangible evidence of who we were? What if we were misrepresented? Only God can know.

Schrieber, better known as an actor, apparently diverts from the original novel but in ways that utilize irony not for post-modern humor, but to underline Foer's points. He manages the shifts in tone quite smoothly; we are more than ready for the film to dispense with the comedy (well done as it is) and reveal the layers of the characters' pasts. EVERYTHING IS ILLUMINATED at first seems slight but as it develops in your thoughts, it becomes weightier and even important. This is not a Holocaust downer like THE DAMNED or SOPHIE'S CHOICE, but rather an elegant little play that, once viewed, will have you looking twice (and perhaps more pointedly) at your grandfather's wristwatch. Or your aunt's tea cup. Or even a chunk of amber.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

"Buzz" Kill

Truth is, I hadn't really listened to West Palm Beach's 103.1 "The Buzz" with any regularity for over 10 years. The programming simply ceased to be interesting to me. It being a commercial station, it was merely a reflection of what was popular in "New Rock". I'm sure it mirrored the playlists of many other such stations around the country.

I can trace it back to 1999. I was driving to a friend's house and had the misfortune of hearing "Nookie" by Limp Bizkit for the first time. I knew even then that if this was the sound of new rock, I'd be looking for an exit. It only got worse, as the likes of Creed, Nickelback, and Puddle of Mudd began to take over the airwaves. In 2000, I liked exactly 2 new songs The Buzz played: Dynamite Hack's droll, white boy cover of "Boys in the Hood" and The Dandy Warhol's "Bohemian Like You". I twisted the dial elsewhere, though there was little of interest anymore in the radio wasteland.

The Buzz had signed on sometime in 1995, while I was living in Atlanta. It was there I discovered 99X, an alternative station that played classic Cure as well as newer things by Weezer, Pizzicato Five, Rage Against the Machine, and Juliana Hatfield. I loved it. I had moved from West Palm and its dearth of radio choice (The Gater, still in existance this day, was my usual preset, but I heard Zeppelin's "Livin' Lovin' Maid" a few thousand too many times). 99X was as guilty of repetition as other stations but overall it was some sort of oasis, playing music I wasn't used to hearing on mainstream FM. What a nice surprise to find a similiar station when I returned to WPB!

For a few years, it was pretty good. When it seemed there would be an electronic revolution in '97 or so, artists like Prodigy and Orgy were played quite a bit. The coup fizzled, but the music on the Buzz was still good, even if the novelty had long since worn. Then came Limp Bizkit.

In 1997 I also attended my only Buzz Bake Sale concert, their yearly daylong outdoor festival of rock and art. It was quite an experience. Plenty of concertgoers were plenty "baked", and I clearly recall a girl on all fours, a dog collar around her neck being led on a leash by her boyfriend or something. That year the lineup included Goldfinger, Cake, and the headliner, Green Day. They were all smashing. I regret leaving after Green Day, as Echo and the Bunnymen closed the show. What was I thinking? I'm sure it was the weariness that won out, for me and the girl I went with (a co-worker). The Bake Sale has been held ever since, but the lineups again reflected the new rock scene of the day and to me, most of it was/is aural sludge.

So CBS Radio lowered the axe on 103.1 this past week, switching to a pop format that plays Lady Gaga, Adele, and whoever else lands on the Billboard lists. Yeah, WPB needed another pop channel, sure. The station management, however, stated that their extensive research did indicate the desire for this change.

We've all seen this before. I documented the demise of 97 GTR back in 1990 in a previous post. That was disappointing. This one was, eh. I was long since uninvested. Plus, 103.1 The Buzz will continue to stream on their website and through smartphone apps (and HD radio). But it illustrates the fickle nature of the Arbitron diary fillers and focus groups. Additionally, local radio seems to becoming a thing of the past, at least for music. You've heard my Clear Channel rants.

It is sad that there are fewer and fewer local stations to get to know, to feel a sense of community with. But, streaming stations of all types are definitely the refuge, my favorites being Radioparadise.com and the Soma channels. We are living in an interesting time, watching the slow death of local radio, bookstores, DVD rental outlets, and the U.S. Postal Service. Perhaps this century will see a special museum for each. What will we tell the grandkids?

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Murder à la Mod

It is evident immediately in 1967's MURDER à la MOD that director Brian De Palma loves film. That most voyeuristic of mediums. Celluloid not merely to document with a master shot, but a tight, intrusive zoom invading the space of his victims, er, subjects. The first images of MURDER are of a woman modeling for the camera in period garments, instructed by the cameraman (not seen) to suggestively pose and eventually remove her clothes. She is the first of several "birds" to be sleazily persuaded and bullied by this anonymous documentarian, and the first to have her throat slashed with a razor.

De Palma has used such imagery throughout his subsequent career. For a film buff familiar with his later work, watching MURDER à la MOD is a revealing experience. The (pardon the pun) obsessions and fetishes which infected many of De Palma's suspense films are evident in this, his first full length feature. Stalking cameras from the killer's point-of-view, stylized bloodletting and violence, loving angles on female forms, split screens, nimble camera dollying (usually tracking a chase) - it's all here. What's also on display is the playful method of telling the story, a sort of RASHOMONish telling of the same events several times, but from different points of view. With each episode, we learn something new, are given visual information as to why something happened, such as how that tire went flat. From a filmic standpoint, it's almost like what filmmakers call "coverage", shooting from different places to get different perspectives.

I won't bother with a long synopsis. A young filmmaker has a very devoted girlfriend who hangs out with her stylish friend over the course of a mid-afternoon. The filmmaker works with a slick producer and a really odd guy named Otto, who runs around Greenwich Village with both real and fake ice picks (titles appear onscreen to tell us which is genuine and which isn't) and flits around like he's on amphetamines or maybe too much coffee. There will be murders. We think we know who committed them, but as we back up in time and view things from a different vantage point, we may learn otherwise. I liked the scene where someone is listening to a radio soap opera, then quotes it as if they are his words to someone else. Previously, watching this same scene, we believed they were his own thoughts and feelings.

We later follow Otto, hearing the traffic jam of thoughts in his head, sounding like Frank Zappa played at 78 speed. Even without the sped up photography (undercranking?), this chap is plenty hyper. I'm not sure if De Palma and actor William Finley (who would appear in many later De Palma movies) were going for a Buster Keaton homage, though at times it seemed that way. There's even a pie in the face gag. Is he a killer? Or just weird? Finely's performance will likely divide viewer opinion.

This being a De Palma film, the violence, quick as it is, is lingered upon perhaps even more than the (mild) sexuality. MURDER à la MOD is nowhere nearly as explicit as DRESSED TO KILL or BODY DOUBLE, both of which owe much to this film. The lengthy city street and cemetery chase reminded me of a key scene in the latter film. The inserts of murder weapons evoke 1973's SISTERS and 1980's DRESSED TO KILL. The slashing and Karo syrup spurting is virtually a De Palma trademark. The palpable sleazery is evident in films as late as THE BLACK DAHLIA (2006), a film to which I was not exactly beholden.

MURDER à la MOD is included as an extra on Disc 2 of Criterion's release of De Palma's 1981 thriller BLOW OUT, a fine film. Tracing the threads over the 14 years between the 2 efforts is an exercise that probably only students of the director will enjoy. I was expecting to really dislike MURDER à la MOD, but after a tedious first half hour, was consistently entertained. The acting is more or less amateur night, especially a bank employee you will want to strangle after about 2 minutes (that scene, by the way, is unforgivably long), but the real star is behind the camera. Any De Palma retrospective would do well screening this film as the lead off.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Cyrus

The titular character is a large boy, 22 years of age, who lives at home with his mother, Molly. They're very close. They go to the park every morning, taking pictures of nature and playfully wrestling on a picnic blanket. He composes songs on his keyboards (one of many in their living room) for her. He goes into the bathroom and sings along with her while she showers. She lies with him in bed when he has panic attacks at night. Invisible audience, are you crying "Oedipus complex!" yet?

One night, Molly (Marissa Tomei) spies a shlubby guy named John (John C. Reilly) urinating in the bushes. "Nice penis!" she tells him. It is a great moment for John, the first good one after a night of striking out with the ladies at a party to which his ex-wife of 7 years, Jamie (Catherine Keener) invited him. Jamie had recently told John was getting remarried. He was devastated. As 2010's CYRUS plays out, we will also see another odd relationship, between John and Jamie.

But back to John and Molly. After their funny/awkward first meeting, they immediately click. She appreciates his lack of embarrassment (though he is piss drunk at the moment), and he further proves this by running back inside to the party to sing along with Human League's "Don't You Want Me". The new couple fall into bed that very night, but she slips out in the wee hours, leaving a note telling him what an awesome time she had.

After another similiar date, and no explanations as for her hasty exit, John decides to follow Molly home. On his stakeout, he falls asleep in his car overnight, then eventually walks up to Molly's front yard, and is eventually discovered by Cyrus, her son. He seems friendly and personable, inviting John in and even sharing one of those musical masterpieces with him. Soon enough, John will learn just what a not-so-little fly in the ointment Cyrus really is.

The set-up makes CYRUS sound like another of those dreadful, child-of-divorce/divorcee-attempts-to-sabotage-parent's- new-relationship movies. That is not entirely inaccurate. However, viewers expecting MAN OF THE HOUSE or any of its ilk will quickly be bored and/or frustrated. This film is not a slapstick ballet of lighthearted comic warfare. The ensuing struggle between the 2 males grows a bit darker with each scene before the inevitable meltdown and aftermath. As I assessed this movie, I concluded that Cyrus isn't so much a bad seed or evil as just confused.

And very self-aware. Jonah Hill plays the young man as a very subtly conniving juvenile, all outwardly gracious and disarming. After several scenes of his passive-aggressive behavior designed to make his mother feel guilty and John feel like a selfish bastard, the men finally throw off the gloves and acknowledge their intentions. Cyrus will use any means necessary to be rid of the new man. Through that, Cyrus gradually also acknowledges, even verbally, that he is messed up. Er, something along those lines.

But he isn't the only one. Molly is almost as guilty, enabling her son at every opportunity, giving in and giving in at maybe the cost of her own happiness. Tomei convincingly creates this character with the right amount of vulnerability and without chewing the scenery. She seems a bit childlike herself as she tries to maintain an adult relationship with John, requiring him to be open and honest and yet she repeatedly violates her own criteria.

John is basically an overgrown adolescent, clinging to his ex-wife in ways that more than suggest he never moved on or learned how to be friends with others of the opposite sex. Even as his fondness for Molly grows, he continually disrupts Jamie's time with her new fiance, seeking her as a sounding board. With the increasing difficulty of dealing with Cyrus, John will bombard his ex with more requests for psychotherapy than she is willing to (or should) offer. Is Jamie an enabler as well?! Is there a single healthy relationship in this picture?

Writers/directors Jay and Mark Duplass' film does sometimes feel like a couch session, sometimes at the cost of ingratiating the audience. Reading back over my summary, I feel as if I'm analyzing real acquaintances of mine. This is a far from perfect movie, but it does not flinch from the uncomfortable scenarios that would naturally fester out of the plot. The script is sometimes predictable and sometimes not, leading to a final scene that will not please those who want confirmation and resolution in their movies. To me, it was just right.

My major carp with CYRUS? It looks like a television program, albeit a high quality HBO series. Digital video is increasingly sucking the life out of cinema. While Michael Mann sometimes makes it work, the Duplass brothers produce a movie that is visually without soul. Cinema should be cinema, with wide compositions and expanse of scope. Every technical aspect in this "movie" (editing, photography, soundtrack, lighting) falls short of making this worth the effort to see in a theater (I didn't). Plus, that "snap zoom" that we see in every other shot gets highly annoying. It's really bush league. It screams "indie-lite". Or, "television".

Movies, when inspired, are like paintings. Television is rarely if ever more than a really good photograph. Think on that a bit. Where does this description leave CYRUS?

But....I admired the acting. The screenplay gives a good foundation for each character, and the actors, all of whom have been impressive before, do very well here. But it's unlikely that I'll want to revisit this movie anytime soon.