Here, I'll make it easy for you: If you give a shit about good movies, you're obligated to go to Snowpiercer.
In Portland, the movie starts today at both the Hollywood and Cinema 21 (the Mercury's review
will be up later this afternoon is right here), and that makes us exceedingly lucky: Snowpiercer almost wasn't released at all, at least in its current form, and it's still not playing a ton of places. Which is too bad, because not only is it fucking fantastic, but it's exactly the kind of movie you should be supporting if you've ever complained about, say, a Transformers movie.
Actually, that reminds me: Trans4mers has made over $300 million so far, including $90 million in China; it's now a certainty that there will be a Transformer5 and a Tran6formers and that our distant descendants will see Optimus Prime cold-heartedly murder Frasier Crane for the 735th time and that the final sound uttered by human lips before the inevitable heat death of the universe will be a weary "Cut!" whispered from the cryogenically preserved head of Michael Bay. I bring this up because people who pay money to see Transformers movies are, increasingly, the only people going to movie theaters—and one of the side effects of that is that theater owners are having a harder and harder time justifying booking movies like Snowpiercer. None of this is helped by Video on Demand (VOD), which is where a lot of those movies that are getting crowded out by blockbusters are ending up. But while VOD is becoming increasingly prevalent, it still isn't really understood by anybody.
As Ty Burr notes in his excellent piece for The Boston Globe, "Harvey Weinstein and the Saga of Snowpiercer," Snowpiercer barely survived getting 20 minutes cut out of it, and now finds itself in that awkward space between a wide-release film and one of the unknowns that pops up on VOD:
Go to your cable service’s On Demand menu, though, and you’ll be confronted with a dizzying array of films you’ve never heard of. Some are coming off a small theatrical run—often only in major cities and intended to “tease” the digital release—and some never made it to theaters in the first place. They’re the B movies and direct-to-video titles of yesterday reconfigured for today’s technology, and many more of them are coming.
What that means for you, the moviegoer, is as yet unclear. At the very least, films that don’t strictly conform to the big-budget studio entertainment model—that are labors of love, or are challenging, or just different—will find it harder than ever to find a big-screen toehold in this paranoid new world. Snowpiercer may have been relegated to the exhibition boondocks because it falls between the audience cracks: It’s too violent for genteel art-house audiences, too weird for the mainstream. (Via.)
Some movies are better to watch at home. Snowpiercer isn't one of them—dense and bold and intricately imagined, you've got to see it on the big screen to appreciate it. Which is why it belongs in a theater—and why filmmakers like Bong Joon-ho need big screens and big budgets to work with. A mumblecore movie on VOD? Sure, why not. Something like Snowpiercer, which literally spans the goddamn globe while managing to tell a surprisingly intimate story? You need a big screen for that. Filmmakers need money to do that. And it's in theatrical revenue where that message is most clearly gets passed on to studios, distributors, and theater owners. I love blockbusters. A lot. Hell, I'm even one of "those people" I referred to above who went to go see the new Transformers. But I also love movies like Snowpiercer, and I think it's important that we keep getting to see them.
So here. I'll make it easy for you. You've got a holiday weekend coming up. You've got some extra time. Take two hours and go see Snowpiercer. You'll be glad you did.
As I wrote in this week's Sold Out column, tonight is the scheduled presentation of Brady Lange's spring/summer collection at Black Book. But, considering the fact that Snowpocalypse is apparently just taking a short rest before whacking us with round two this evening, I'm inclined to guess he'll be forced to reschedule. Which is a shame, because if you watched last night's episode of Under the Gunn, the Project Runway spinoff Lange's been competing on, this (is?) would have been perfect timing. (I have a message out to Lange to see what his cancel/not cancel plans in fact are.)
Find out what I mean by that over on MOD.
IF YOU THOUGHT YESTERDAY WAS A SNOWY SHITSHOW, what with the snow, bitter wind, and remarkably fragile state of our public transit system, hopefully you can stay home today like a solid two-thirds of the city, watching the remarkable winter scenery from your windows. Because today's shaping up like a lousy rerun, with several more inches of snow expected in time for the evening commute. Government offices and places like the Zoo are closed. Here's a list of warming shelters open for the next several days.
"Fuck the EU." An American diplomat is apologizing after she was heard making disparaging comments about our trans-Atlantic allies in a leaked recording of a private conversation. The conversation was leaked by our "friends" in Russia. Russia is angry we've decided to step onto their front lawn and help sort the chaos in Ukraine, accusing the State Department of "crudely interfering."
Russia would rather we all spend time congratulating them for the duct-tape, plaster of Paris, and glitter they've spread liberally over Sochi in time for today's Winter Olympics opening ceremony.
In Syria, taking a break from shelling your own civilian population after years of civil war, so you can pretend to negotiate a peace deal in Geneva, is being charitably referred to as a "humanitarian pause."
The National Security Agency is collecting only 30 percent or so of Americans' phone call data, down from almost 100 percent in 2006. That might be good news, except the NSA is trying to get back up to perfection.
You should blame the latest jobs report—described as "weak" because it added only 113,000 jobs, below expectations—on nationally crippling winter weather instead of Barack Obama.
Delightful Joe Biden seems to be getting pretty interested in running for president again. Which appears to be brilliant planning by Hillary Clinton's political machine.
Kate Brown's office says it doesn't know when it will revive its website—including the secretary of state's campaign finance records and business registry—in the wake of a hack attack. Officials say voting records, on a separate database, were untouched.
BUT ONCE UPON A TIME? PEOPLE LIKED JAY LENO. A LOT. HERE'S HOW IT ALL STARTED.
(YAY! It's always fun when we get to trot out our "Snowpocalypse!!" tag.) Portland Public Schools are closing at 1 pm today—watch out for mean kids with snowballs—and here's what the local weather folks are saying about this year's first... SNOWPOCALYPSE!
From Fox 12:
Snowfall is headed towards the metro area Thursday. 1-4" can be expected later this afternoon across all parts of the northern Willamette valley.
For Portland and Vancouver, 3-6 inches are likely, but the southern parts of the Metro area could see as much as 6+ inches, with 8 inches possible in the central & southern Valley.
Tonight, steady snow turns to snow showers. Lows will drop to around 18. Expect a fairly quiet and cold day for much of the day Friday. However, another batch of snow is rolling in for Saturday, with even heavier accumulations likely.
The subliminal message to take from all this? PANIC!!!! (This is your cue to leave a bunch of dismissive "Portland doesn't know how to handle snow" remarks in the comments below. ENGAGE.)
IT HAS BEGUN. Retching, joyous smiles, and/or nervous convulsions are the only feelings allowed today while we wait to see whether what weather forecasters say is true: that Portland is due for 2 to 6 inches of snow starting later this afternoon. The snow has already begun falling way down in the Willamette Valley, in Corvallis and Eugene. It's also bitterly cold, at least per the soft standards of the Northwest, so see about donating blankets or gloves or hats or old coats to those of us enduring this snowy/frosty snap out on the streets.
The other big news locally you might want to care about? The Portland Association of Teachers, indulging in a moment of high drama (so theatrical, in fact, they actually made the marquee at the Schnitz), approved a teachers strike against Portland Public Schools. They could walk out as soon as February 20.
The United Nations, on the eve of the Sochi Olympics, has told Russia to cut it out with the persecution and criminalization of its LGBTQ citizens. Russia just stared back balefully and poured another shot for its new friends, all of its various anti-gay-"propaganda" laws.
The Egyptian general already running the place like a dictator, after his soldiers ousted the country's somewhat unpopular but still democratically elected Islamist president, has decided to put in for his own presidential bid. But only because of popular demand, he insists.
The civil strife in Ukraine—birthed in a tug of war between Russia and Europe and sustained amid concerns over civil liberties—has begun costing Ukraine's pro-Russia president support from the country's pro-Russian eastern half. Which means he's probably toast.
The future of police surveillance in America has already arrived: Systems that can cover the entirety of a small town or large urban neighborhood, capable of tracking, for several hours, every car and person that passes through.
The Koch Bros. left behind some paperwork after a recent fundraiser in Palm Springs. It's a list of top donors, including several prominent CEOS, and how much they paid for access to the top of the Kochs' conservative political network.
This is like a recurring nightmare. John Boehner, speaker of the House, is (once again) selling his less-sane Republican colleagues on a(nother) plan to raise the federal debt ceiling (one more time).
Another federal drug czar has come out and admitted something already seen as common sense. During a House hearing, a Virginia Democrat got the nation's second-in-command drug officer to describe precisely how less dangerous pot is compared to prescription pills and alcohol.
AND NOW PEOPLE IN THREE-PIECE SUITS FROM A LONG TIME AGO KEEPING UTTERLY COOL WHILE PULLING OFF SWEET JIUJITSU MOVES.
It's snowing! Snow and Portland enjoy a strange, wonderful relationship, and if you wish to celebrate the miracle of cold, puffy water falling slowly to the wet, unforgiving pavement in the way a real Portlander would, this is how you do it!
Step 1: Lick the nearest window
Well, maybe don't go so far as to lick it, but fly immediately to it, and press your face as close as you can to the cold glass, all while proclaiming some variation of the phrase "It's snowing!" or "Snow!" or "Snuaah!" or "REEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE." This doesn't have to be sustained for the length of the snowfall, give yourself rest periods back at your desk/couch before returning to the window to resume the excited vigil.
Step 2: Lick the nearest phone
Well, maybe don't go so far as to lick it, but do exactly what you did to the window, but on your phone, preferably via your twitter or facebook accounts. The resultant effort should look something like this.
WHAT NOT TO DO:
Many of you reading this are here from places in the midwest, where flakes of crystallized water fall in amounts that would cause most Portlanders to completely seize up and keel over upon hearing tell of their legend. You will be tempted to indulge a minor amount of scoffing, sharing sentiments along the lines of "Oh, I'm from Minnesota, we don't close anything unless there's about two feet of snow on the ground, and even then, it doesn't always happen."
You will make it halfway through that sentence before someone from Portland farts on you. That is the penalty for daring to lord your Winter Weather expertise over the locals. You will be shunned for the rest of the day, for as long as the snow continues to fall. Do not remark upon the fact that none of it is sticking, either. Just be quiet and wait the 15 minutes for whatever is falling out of the sky to stop doing so. Their madness will recede after another 10 minutes, and they might even completely forget both your transgression and their flatulent response.
IF YOU ARE OUTSIDE:
If you are operating any vehicle containing wheels of any sort, make haste towards the nearest highway or freeway. A sufficiently busy street will also suffice. Immediately abandon your car in the middle of said thoroughfare. Do not bother to turn off the lights, or close any doors.
While walking away from your sacrificed motor carriage, you will be tempted to stride, as abandoning your car in the middle of the freeway seems like a badass thing to do. Do not stride. You will likely slip and bust your ass on the cold wet pavement, which will likely have zero snow on it to cushion your fall. Instead, employ a stooped, shuffling gait, and stare down at your feet as you scuttle slowly away from your car. This helps in that you are not noticing the legions of drivers who, panicked at the sight of miniature water pillows descending upon their windshield, are whipsawing their vehicle back and forth through the lanes, applying brakes as if they're attempting to communicate the word "SNOOOOWWWWW" to the drivers behind them via brake-light morse code.
This sounds horrific and apocalyptic, but the real key to finishing the illusion is to constantly smile, with a childlike glimmer in your eyes (this can be practiced in your rearview mirror before abandoning the car) and if approaching another citizen, giggle-whisper the word "Snow!" at them, as if you can't believe the gift bestowed upon us all.
Congratulations! Now you're celebrating Winter in Portland like a real Portlander!
Next week, we'll discuss what happens when an inch accumulates, the city shuts down, and you're forced to use the public transit system like a fucking savage.
Want to watch Seattle drivers panic and slide all over the road while driving in two inches of snow? No? Okay... how about we add a jaunty soundtrack from Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass? OH, I AM SO "IN."
* I'm tired of the words "snowpocalypse" and "snowmageddon." Can you think of a new term for people freaking out over a small amount of snow, and put it in the comments? Thanks.
AHHHHH!! SNOWLAMITY! (That's like "snow" + "calamity" = "snowlamity.") We dodged a snowlamity bullet today—we, being everyone who isn't dumb enough to live in the West Hills—BUT HOW SHALL WE FARE TOMORROW?? Here's the learned opinion of Fox 12's Chief Meteorologist Mark Nelsen on the adorably geeky Fox 12 Weather Blog. (By the way, the commenters on this blog are extremely pleasant. Please make a note of it.)
THIS EVENING (Through at least 10pm): Rain/snow showers, turning to steady rain/snow later…most sticking snow at/above 1,000′ through our 10pm show. Light accumulations during this time on the hills, this will be the calmest period.
OVERNIGHT THROUGH 7:00 AM: Winter Storm Watch is still up, and NWS will probably upgrade to a Winter Storm Warning mid-afternoon to be safe. I still think we’ll escape a big snow event here in Portland, but it’s going to be VERY CLOSE. So I’ll forecast 1-3″ of heavy wet snow possible anywhere from Wilsonville north through Clark County (all of the metro area) between Midnight and 5am. No snow for Wilsonville south to Salem. Once again, gut feeling is we get little or nothing here, but it’s safest to forecast (Dec 29, 2009) a few inches in the dark of night.
Snowlamity (probably) diverted!
Oh, Jack Frost, you're no Frosty. You're better!
I know, it is way too early to be talking about cold times and holiday parties, but this little rumor just came across my desk: The flagship location of the annual downtown pop-up shop program (you can read some of my coverage of past years here and here) has been accidentally announced. If all goes as planned, Boys' Fort will be housed in the downtown Galleria at 600 SW 10th starting Oct 17, boasting "classic men's products with a modern urban curve."
But settle down there, shoppers: Holiday pop-up honcho Lisa Frisch cautions that this little press release has wandered out prematurely, and final details, including pretty important ones like, you know, the leases, are still being hammered out. So not to count our chickens before they hatch, but Frisch does confirm that "We plan on having three to four PDX Pop-Up shops this year." Stay tuned for the official word, due next month. In the meantime, it's probably safe to start getting excited about the third round for this program, which props up the work being produced by the local industry and has even, in the case of the Portland Design Collective and Crafty Wonderland, produced permanent new residents on the downtown retail map.
I love the hell out of John Carpenter's The Thing, which means I can't help but be curious about its prequel/reboot, which is also, rather creatively, titled The Thing. The Thing (Again!) was supposed to come out last April, but got delayed to October, and now MTV has 46 seconds from it. While it's always impossible to judge whole films based on isolated little clips, this particular snippet doesn't inspire a whole lot of confidence. Then again, it does star Joel Edgerton and Mary Elizabeth Winstead, and Ronald D. Moore did chime in on the screenplay, so hell, maybe this is just a goofy clip and the film itself will end up being as cool as I want it to be. Also, let it be known that I will award it bonus points if the Thing ever changes form into awesome old-school Kurt Russell.
• Why does Portland cancel school for, like, a quarter inch of snow but not super heavy rain?
• Portlanders don't know how to handle the snow, dognabit!
• Snow is pretty!
Send good snow photos (snowtos) to firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll post 'em.
You've been bombarded by snow for weeks on end. Trash is buried and rotting outside your apartment. So, what's a bored New York artist to do?
Why, make Castle Grayskull, of course.
And it comes with lights and a guard dog! Clearly the best snow castle of the year and decade.
Look what fugliness Etsy hath wrought this time:
However, if you are a woman, or just a man who chooses to avoid the oft-lampooned condition of actually having a beard, this would be a super handy temporary fix to avoid freezing your face off while you attempt to bike commute during the maybe-sorta-maybe-sorta-not-gonna-happen snowy-icy cold today. Only $40!
Today may be all warm and in the 40s, but tomorrow.... tomorrow meteorologists are already describing as a frighteningly vague "major event."
Snow! beginning in the afternoon.
Freezing Rain! continuing until midnight.
"Significant amounts of snow, freezing rain, ice, or slush!" destroying your commute.
If you have to drive up hills, use chains. If you can, take transit and pray to the Gods of TriMet that your bus doesn't get stuck.
Best case scenario: Stay home and film people out your window.
This film deserves to win the Academy Award for best live-action short subject.It's certainly a beautiful piece of work—its flash and quick cuts make it look a little like a commercial to me, but what do I know. It is the best presentation of the storm (which I witnessed firsthand) that I've yet seen, even if this film doesn't capture the beauty of what the storm looked like outside the city.
(1) Because of its wonderful quality. (2) Because of its role as homage. It is directly inspired by Dziga Vertov's 1929 silent classic "Man With a Movie Camera." (3) Because it represents an almost unbelievable technical proficiency. It was filmed during the New York blizzard of Dec. 26, and Jamie Stuart e-mailed it to me with this time stamp: December 27, 2010 4:18:18 PM CST.
You can tell from the cinematography he knew exactly what he was doing and how to do it. He held the Vertov film in memory. Stuart must already been thinking of how he would do the edit and sound. Any professional will tell you the talent exhibited here is extraordinary.
As Steve mentioned in GMN, the Minneapolis Metrodome roof collapsed under all that snow... and now there's video!
Cadallaca, "Winter Storm '98." It's a song about Oregon and snow. I was 16 in 1998 and that might've been the year my dad took me to a parking lot to teach me how to snow-drive. Last winter I had to abandon my roommate's car on the side of Burnside, 6 blocks from my house, so I guess the driving lessons didn't take. Oregonians. I know. We suck.
Could a repeat of last year's snowpocalypse be right around the corner? The streets may be drivable, but that hasn't stopped the cold from leaving a trail of destruction, this time right down the block from the Mercury offices!
The O reported that an industrial building collapsed in Northeast Portland, so I walked over to check it out. The fire department officials on the scene said that a pipe burst, waterlogging the empty building until the floor gave way (that's the floor in the photo below, sticking out of the structure like a tongue). Nobody was hurt, but given that the dissolving building is perched right over the MAX Blue and Green lines and I-84, if the soil keeps eroding there could be reason to worry. Similarly, the building is right next to the foundations of the bridge that carries NE 21st across the freeway, so here's to hoping this gets cleaned up quick.
More photos after the jump.
How many times do I have to tell you kids!? It looks like German chef Heston Blumenthal blew off both of his hands while "trying to empty a canister of liquid nitrogen." The use of liquid nitrogen is apparently part of some discipline called molecular gastronomy "a scientific discipline involving the study of physical and chemical processes that occur in cooking." (thx wikipedia)!
I, personally, feel it's a little over the top using something that boils at -196 Celsius in your cooking, no matter how bad ass you think you are. Hadn't this fellow seen Terminator 2?
UPDATE: Despite several sources claiming it was Blumenthal himself who destroyed his hands, it now appears it was an unknown German chef attempting to use a method commonly used by Blumenthal. (Thanks, Graham!)
While I'm not going to justify the actions of the rapscallion who wrote scatological words on various snow covered cars on NE 28th—between Burnside and Stark—that doesn't mean I didn't think it was pretty funny in a really juvenile way.
From the "Poo Mobil" to "Diarhea" (it's a tough word to spell, I won't judge you for missing it), almost every vehicle on the entire block was prominently marked. Nice form, young prankster. Keep honing those skills and you'll be working here in no time!
Last Sunday's screening of Silent Night, Deadly Night was canceled thanks to the stupid weather—but never fear, Xmas horror fans. From the Grindhouse Film Fest:
Rescheduled for Christmas Eve! On Wednesday December 24th at 10:15 pm at the Hollywood Theatre, the Grindhouse Film Festival presents Silent Night, Deadly Night! A 35mm print of the 1984 Christmas classic about an axe wielding psychopath dressed as Santa Claus. Plus, horror trailers and the ax giveaway!
If you bought advance tickets to the Sunday night show, they'll be honored at this screening, and if you need any more info, go here.
Because if you do, you might want to walk back over to my house and pick up your damn stroller.
This frozen block of stroller has been abandoned out in front of my house since Saturday, and I'm a little concerned for its former occupant and the sort of parent that would just ditch baby's ride in someone's front yard. Aren't these things expensive?
Also, it's days like this that make me wish I defaulted on my mortgage and bought that cherry red Hummer. Look at that thing! Boom! Right over the snow.
While KATU (studio location: NE 21st and Sandy) has been frantically, giddily engaging in nonstop reporting on SNOWPOCALYPSE!!—indeed, they've been breathlessly, repetitively announcing minute-by-minute conditions for days now, reporting from such far-flung locales as, say, the snowy intersection at NE 21st and Sandy—one thing that's utterly awesome about their coverage is meteorologist Scott Sistek's excellently named weather blog, Partly to Mostly Bloggin'.
Just looking outside and you can tell Old Man Winter paid us a visit, but in Lake Stevens, it looks like he put in a personal appearance!
GYAH! THE FUCK IS THAT? HAUNTED ICICLE! HAUNTED GODDAMN ICICLE! OLD MAN WINTER WILL KILL US ALL! THERE HE IS! KILL IT! KILL IT! IF WE MELT HIM THE SNOW WILL GO AWAY!
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