Since it was spring break, I did not have a class to teach yesterday, and so I answered some e-mail and ordered a copy of the DVD of “The Iron Horse” through Amazon. I went out to Longs Drugs to buy a few little items, and when I came back, I tried to watch “The Louisiana Story,” but I fell asleep and took a long time to get up from my slumber. I gave up on the movie, but I did watch a couple of the special features on the making of the film. There is an interview with Robert’s Flaherty’s wife Frances, and she was quite articulate about her husband’s beliefs about filmmaking. She also repeated one comment that his favorite film was always the next one he was going to make, because filmmaking to him was an infinite process. She was showing a sign of an old person’s tendency to repeat things over and over.
I played Super Mario Galaxy for about one hour, and I finally managed to win another star. It took some triple jumping and a few Mario lives, but in the end I got some satisfaction with the result.
I went out to the store to look for CDs. I ended up buying a Japanese pressing of U2’s “Pop,” and a new edition of David Bowie’s “Young Americans” with a DVD. The U2 album came with a booklet in Japanese, and it also had a bonus track called “Holy Joe.” The David Bowie DVD had “1984,” “Young Americans,” and a Dick Cavett interview.
I watched “Waitress,” which was an amusing comedy with Keri Russell as a waitress named Jenna, with a talent for making pies and deep marital problems. Jenna’s dream is to win $25,000 in a pie-baking contest so that she can leave her childish and controlling husband Earl, played by Jeremy Sisto, the weird younger brother in “Six Feet Under.” Jenna’s plans are sidetracked when she finds she is pregnant, and to complicate matters, the new doctor in town seems to have fallen in love with her.
Two of her fellow waitresses at Joe’s Bake Shop are Becky, played by Cheryl Hines of “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” and Dawn, played by Adrienne Shelley, the director of the film. Cheryl Hines’ Texas accent wasn’t convincing to my ears. Dawn has something funny moments with a suitor who is a Mad Stalking Elf. Her personality reminds me of Elaine May in “A New Leaf.”
Andy Griffith is Joe, who owns the diner. It’s generally fun to watch him, although he has a speech describing Jenna’s pie that was a bit too much like something out of “Sideways.” I think that dialogue that goes on and on about the way things taste is not that effective in a film.
The movie is pretty agreeable, but it’s not the most original work you’ll ever see. There are some elements of “Like Water for Chocolate” in the way a woman pours her emotion into her cooking. Also, I could stand not seeing another movie about a pregnant woman for a very long time. I saw “Knocked Up” and “Juno” in recent months, along with the older movie “The Opposite of Sex.” They all had several similar scenes, right down to the woman going into labor and giving birth. Please, all you screenwriters out there, come up with some different ideas.
Some of the most amusing scenes involve Jenna and her doctor, Dr. Pomatter, although I found the actor who played the doctor a little short on personality. A person who has been through medical school and has accomplished a lot in life should have a little more going on in his brain than what’s shown in the story.
What is a little disturbing is how the story disposes of the men. You have the husband, the lover, the boss, and the father figure. I guess the film is supposed to be a declaration of female independence. I shouldn’t look to a light comedy for real answers.
I liked “Waitress” more than most other comedies I’ve seen recently, like “Superbad” or “Juno.” It didn’t make me reexamine my beliefs or move me that deeply, but it was pleasant enough.
After the movie, I listened to the first disc of the Elvis Presley box set. The first two-thirds of the disc was made up of Sun recordings. The key RCA hits on the disc were “Heartbreak Hotel” and “Blue Suede Shoes.” The second disc has songs like “Hound Dog,” “Don’t Be Cruel,” and “Love Me Tender.” I would like to get the box set of 60’s masters sometime next month. I’m not in a rush to get the box set of 70’s masters. I’m not too fond of the memory of the drug abusing Elvis who ate too many fried banana and peanut butter sandwiches.
In the news today, we see that rain is likely to come to the area tonight. I hope the skies clear up before tomorrow’s A’s game. The Giants have lost their last two exhibition games, last night to the Seattle Mariners, and the day before, embarrassingly, with Barry Zito pitching to their Fresno minor league team.
I also saw a report on a rash of purse snatchings in San Jose, with the criminals targeting Asian women, because they tend to carry large amounts of cash. They showed one woman having her purse stolen on videotape. She fell to the ground in the middle of the street and foolishly ran after the purse-snatcher. I guess she was so furious that she could barely think straight. She could have been shot.
I sent one of my exams by e-mail to one of my friends, who always joked about how tough I must be on my students. He couldn’t believe that their whining was their own fault. After reviewing the problems, he said they were easy enough, and not difficult to do with a little bit of review. So finally he seems that I have been reasonable all along. These students are just unprepared for the amount of effort that it takes to succeed in college.