Monday Evening Looking Back

I was delighted that Culture Jock posted a fresh edition of “Last Call” on Friday. But having it just sit there as our top post all weekend and all day Monday was bugging me. It kept reminding me of how uncultured my weekend was. Oh, but that glorious sunshine was simply wonderful! Here's my weekend report:

(1) Finally watched “No Country for Old Men,” and was blown away (a distasteful word choice, I know). The best Coen Bros. film ever? Quite possibly … if you have the nerves and stomach for violent action. Javier Bardem is incredible as the psychopathic killer, but Josh Brolin and Tommy Lee Jones are his equals. The cinematography is as stunning as a blow to the forehead from a cattle gun (again, sorry). I’ve put the Cormac McCarthy novel on reserve at the library.

(2) Drank beer and ate a huge Black Pepper and Beer Sausage over an extended happy hour at the Hopworks Urban Brewery (aka “The HUB”) on SE Powell. Being our first visit, we started by sharing the beer sampler (8 x 3 oz tasters), before settling on the Hopworks IPA; its delectable hint of crisp citrus was a perfect fit for the sunny afternoon. We met up with a colleague and long-time friend who is now part of Profile Theatre’s management team. If we’d poured a few more pints into him, we might have been able to break the secret of which playwright Profile will feature next year. He stayed mum, so we’ll have to wait for the official announcement later this month.

(3) Read the NY Times, including a review of the Nines Hotel which concluded: “Fashionable and comfortable, the Nines provides a chic haven to guests who might need a breather from Portland’s grittier scene.” That led to discussion of where exactly is that gritty scene in Portland?

(4) Politely asked the busker wailing under our window to move along to another location so we could enjoy the spring evening with our windows open. So much for supporting the arts. Oh … there’s the gritty scene—literally under our noses!


Stephen said...

I think No Country For Old Men is a great film & deserving of the Oscar...but the best Cohen Bros Film? I think it is the most unlikely & uncharacteristic.
I would have to say that Raising Arizona is the best, with Blood Simple & Frago right behind.
I loved & was surprised by Burn Before Reading. I think that that film is very underrated.
Love yout blog!

MightyToyCannon said...

I love most every film the Coen pair have made--even "Intolerable Cruelty," though it was certainly flawed. I liked "Burn Before Reading" a lot too, though other critics were tough on it. I left the theater after seeing "Fargo" with my jaw still dropped at how funny and audacious it was.

When I say "No Country for Old Men" is my favorite, I really mean, "my favorite Coen film that isn't a comedy." It reminded me a lot of "Blood Simple," which has funny bits, but is otherwise quite dark, violent and fatalistic. By contrast,"Big Lebowski" has violent bits, but is mostly a very funny comedy. "Fargo" probably does the best job of straddling the two genres. Now I want to go out and rent all of them to watch again!

I'm glad you're enjoying the blog.

shobiz said...

"No Country" is one of my favorite films (and I am a Coens fan, too) and we love the HUB! Great place to take a small child, as they have a lot of distractions (pizza dough!) and a play area for kids, and a decent children's menu. The kids get to play and the adults get to relax and get their beer on. Win-win.

MightyToyCannon said...

Plus, the HUB seems to be large enough that childless diner/drinkers can congregate in the bar area, away from the pizza dough-wielding young 'uns! (No reflection on Shobiz's tot, who I know makes for particularly entertaining and charming company).

culturejock said...

I can't believe I haven't yet seen "No Country for Old Men." It was in my Netflix queue at some point, right next to "There Will Be Blood," but somehow has since been forgotten. I'll re-queue it. Fargo is one of my favorite three films of all time, and Big Lebowski is one of my LEAST favorite movies ever, so I always love to see where the next Coen movie will fit in my spectrum.

cynseattle said...

Oh, Jeff, so sad about the Lebowski...still, the dude abides.

MightyToyCannon said...

"The Big Lebowski" is one of those cult films that grows on you after repeated viewings. Perhaps I relate too easily to The Dude.

I didn't want to admit it after reading Stephen's comment at the top of this string, but "Raising Arizona" is one of my least favorite Coen films. I think that's because it was one of the first ones I ever saw and I didn't appreciate the style and cinematic vocabulary then. I rewatched it more recently and it felt dated. Still, I think I need to give it another shot.

I'd wager that the Coen films with the fewest viewers is "Blood Simple" -- one of their very earliest. I recall it was Rose Riordan who insisted that I rent it years ago. Creepy and funny and darkly fatalistic.

shobiz said...

I'll go ahead and admit, with MTC, that I am not so enamored of "Raising Arizona" as so many people are. I do, however, LOVE "The Big Lebowski," as well as another love-it-or-hate-it Coen film, "O, Brother, Where Art Thou?" I have yet to see "Burn Before Reading," despite many good recommendations. I blame a slight aversion to Brad Pitt's hair in the promos -- a little superficial, I'll admit. I'll get over it eventually and Netflix that sucker. In fact, I think I'll just add it to my queue right now.

On the restaurant front, MTC's note about the HUB's ample bar space, widely separated from the family-friendly restaurant side, is precisely the reason places like the HUB are so appreciated by us parents who do not wish to inflict our children on childless adults who've come to dine in peace. Another great local brewpub that does this almost as well is Laurelwood (the newer, larger space on Sandy). They have a room with a play area that is nearly cut off from the rest of the place, and most families with young children get seated there. It works well for all.