26 October 2008

Sun, Shops and Cinema

Finally, a gorgeous day and I could wear shorts and flipflops and soak up some of the sunshine. After my visit to the Academy, I hopped on a bus (using a probably expired transfer ticket) for six blocks north but it was still quite a long walk east along Clement Street to get to Cow Hollow. 

On the way, I made a detour via the Green Apple bookstore and then realised it was 2.30 and I hadn't eaten since the bagel I ate during my 8.30 a.m. wake-up call from the parents. Clement Street is a sort of mini Chinatown and there were plenty of cheap eateries--I picked one at random and ordered some chicken fried rice. It has been so long since I've had a really bad meal in a restaurant (confirmation bias, just like at the cinema; even though I'm fussier than most people, the difference between OK and great is, I guess, smaller for me) that when I just want something cheap and quick, I don't always think to check a guidebook or to shop around before committing myself. Today, then, I was in for a shock because although the pieces of chicken on top of the dish were cooked fine, the majority of the chicken was barely cooked at all. It was after the lunch rush and most of the staff were eating and I was pretty sure that if I complained, someone would spit (or worse) in my food, even though the service was otherwise affable. I therefore picked around the chicken and ate the fried rice and peas (which still only cost me $3.50, so I didn't mind too much). Even the fortune cookie was lame: "Our strength grows out of our weakness." Ooh, deep, man...

I was convinced I was going to get food poisoning from the contaminated rice so I felt a bit queasy walking along Union Street, but a little light shopping perked me up a little, as did a delicious chocolate-peanut butter milkshake at a cafe called Bittersweet, which sells luxury chocolate and serves chocolate-based drinks. I was reading The Tropic of Cancer while I slurped, which generated a couple of glares from the skinny, snooty woman sitting opposite me while she studiously pretended to drink her mocha. Oh noes.

I love so many of the shops on Union Street but didn't buy too much today, other than a couple of books and some earrings. I walked along Union all the way from Fillmore to Columbus Avenue--a very straight road that has at least one very, very steep uphill incline (followed, one block later, by a very, very steep downhill incline). Good for the legs, I suppose, though not good for the feet in the unsupportive, one-year-old flip flops that I've only worn a few times (due to inclement English weather) but thought I'd broken in at least once. I went into a couple of boutiques in North Beach (including the delightful OOMA, with its wonderfully friendly staff) and then walked back home along Columbus. A couple of Italian waiters started talking to me in Italian and were surprised to find I could speak Italian. They were delighted and, of course, immediately asked whether I had an Italian boyfriend. My brain wasn't thinking properly in Italian so I replied, "non ancora" which, as soon as it came out, I remembered meant, "not yet," which they naturally took as a come-on so I had to make a sharpish departure (I meant to say something that indicated I had once had an Italian boyfriend; I could have said, "nel passato," I suppose).

Tonight I went to see Clint Eastwood's latest effort, Changeling, which I really enjoyed, not least because Angelina "walking womb" Jolie is exactly the right person to play a woman in 1920s LA whose son disappears only to be "found" and returned to her by the police a few months later--only, its not her son. Of course, there was plenty of unreliable narrator (or, at least, unreliable protagonist) involved and many different issues and themes--the corruption of the LAPD (a la LA Confidential and The Black Dahlia), the dodgy treatment of women in "psychopath" wards and the catch-22-style difficulties of getting out of them, and so on. In some ways, Jolie's portrayal of Christine Collins reminded me of her roles in Girl, Interrupted (for which she won an Oscar) and even Gia, with her husky hysterics, though Collins's character is obviously very different from the roles in the other two movies.

As the credits roll, the scene in the background is of a junction in downtown LA with the streetcars and other traffic moving by in a perfectly choreographed dance. No characters, no real action, just the traffic. This seems familiar--I'm sure that another film I've seen recently had a similar scene for the closing credits and the only one that sounds right is The Bridges of Madison County, which was also directed by Eastwood. There's no mention of this as a "director trademark" on IMDb, though.

Meanwhile, the trailer for Baz Luhrmann's Australia has got me really excited about seeing that movie when it comes out in December and not just because Hugh Jackman is hot. Nicole Kidman sometimes irritates me (I still haven't seen Moulin Rouge and don't intend to, either). It's rather annoying that some of the trailers I've been watching are for films that won't be out in England for ages; I already have the following on my to-see list: The Brothers Bloom, The International, Duplicity, Australia and Taken. As eclectic as ever then...

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