Hotter With a Beard: Trent Reznor Edition

I was wondering why Trent was no longer showing up on my Twitter feed. Apparently, he’s over it because some people were saying nasty things about his lady friend. He’s always been very sensitive. “Pretty Hate Machine” was one of my favorite albums as a teenager and when I re-discovered it a few years ago, I realized why. The lyrics were basically excerpts from my diary. Of course, I was a 16-year-old GIRL at the time, while he was 26. I still love that record to pieces though.

But the point is, while Trent is slipping on the tears you made him cry, he has also stopped shaving. And I dare say my favorite pocket-sized goth is looking pretty terrific.

What a wonderful, thick, blacker-than-the-blackest-black beard he has these days! I’m not quite as fond of the frumpy hoodie. But imagine how delicious he’d look in a clean, collared shirt (black, of course)! I never knew he had it in him. I always assumed his face was as smooth as Rosemary’s baby’s ass.

As usual, I have D-listed to thank for the pic.

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NFT Radar: Village Sushi

Foodieism is unquestionably all the rage these days. Hipsters no longer flock to destinations for their on-tap PBR ironic decor, but for their wacky fusion dishes, local cheese selection and exotic meat offerings. Somewhere along the line, tater tots were replaced by foie gras. So that’s why it’s rather refreshing to find a place that just serves straight up, traditional genre cuisine and does it very well. Village Sushi doesn’t have any cleverly named house rolls. They just have the usual: Unagi, salmon nigiri, cucumber rolls, tempura, and everything you would expect a sushi restaurant to serve. It’s not fancy, but it’s perfectly executed and damned delicious. It doesn’t hurt that they have the most knowledgeable and enthusiastic sake sommelier I’ve ever met. She’ll ask you questions and pick the sake she thinks you’ll like the best. She’ll offer to let you sample her wares and she won’t try to talk you into the pricey stuff. If you like sushi, you will leave Village stuffed and satisfied and you won’t have dropped a lot of coin either. Sure trying new things is fun, but you gotta love the classics!

4741 12th Ave NE 98105
206-985-6870
www.villagesushi.com

X-posted from Not for Tourists.

Film Threat Review: Orphan

2009
Rated R
123 minutes
Dark Castle Entertainment

***

From Rhoda in “The Bad Seed” to Damien in the “Omen,” children have been some of the best villains. It’s partly due to the collective anxiety about parenting, but mostly it’s the idea that something so seemingly innocent and untainted as a child can hide evil intentions. We know adults tend to have agendas. But we have to take children at face value because if we don’t, it makes us assholes.

Kate (Vera Farmiga, in her second Evil Child film) and John Coleman (the rather terrific Peter Sarsgaard) already have two kids, but they still feel an ocean of emptiness after their third spawning attempt is stillborn. Their issues are exacerbated by affairs and Kate’s history of alcohol abuse, which led to their daughter’s deafness. Kate and John decide that the only way to repair this rift is to adopt and transfer the love they felt for their dead child to a live one. This is a poor reason for adoption, but it certainly doesn’t help when the one you pick turns out to be hella evil.

Esther (Isabelle Fuhrman, the goth Dakota Fanning) is a precocious orphan with a sinister Russian accent and a penchant for vintage dresses. The Colemans ignore all the warning signs, like knowing glances from nuns and the mysterious death of Esther’s former adopted parents, and decide that this little loner is the perfect Band-Aid for their family.

Though Esther always seems to be present when tragedy strikes, she is also a master manipulator. So when Kate begins to suspect their new prodigy of nefarious deeds, no one, least of all her husband, believes her. This all plays very well into Esther’s clandestine plan. And watching it unravel is great fun.

Kate is on her own to find out the truth about Esther’s origins before it’s too late. Meanwhile, Esther wreaks all kinds of awesome havoc whilst delivering badass one-liners with cold Russian inflection. The Coleman’s youngest, their deaf daughter Maxine (Aryana Engineer), also pulls off a marvelous, entirely wordless performance with wide, expressive eyes.

“Orphan” does employ a few horror clichés such as therapy exposition, cheap scares, and a hilarious Google search montage. And once the twist is revealed, the ending does drag on a bit. But, for the most part, Esther is an entertaining and solid addition to the Evil Child canon. There may be something wrong with Esther, but there’s nothing terribly wrong with “Orphan.”

Originally posted on FilmThreat.com (now defunct).

NFT Radar: La Rustica

Sure, every Italian restaurant claims to provide the authentic experience. Even the Olive Garden. But take it from me; La Rustica is the real deal. Everything from the stone interior to the vine-covered patio to the fresh, tender pasta will transport you straight to the Old Country without having to endure the long, crappy flight. Spoil your appetite with fresh garlic bread sticks. Take your time perusing their enormous menu. But don’t stress too much. Anything you get is going to be awesome. And you’ll definitely want to save room for dessert. Best Tiramisu in the city. In true Italian fashion, you will not leave the place without having to unbutton something. The downside is that the dining room is tiny, especially when the weather is too crappy to utilize the outdoor patio. And no, you can’t make a reservation, unless your party is 6 or more. But trust me. Put your name on that list and wait. Prego.


4100 Beach Dr SW 98116
206-932-3020

X-posted from Not For Tourists.

Film Threat Review: My Normal

2009
Un-rated
83 minutes
Loisiada Productions

***

“My Normal” is the story of an NYC dominatrix named Natalie who enjoys her saucy day job, but is looking for a little more out of life. Namely: a girlfriend and a film career. When she seemingly gets everything she wants, she similtaneously experiences the pain of the old adage, “Be careful what you wish for.”

The film starts out like a porno, with Natalie and her colleagues engaged in a high-school disciplinarian role-play with one of their clients. And it’s not just the premise that’s blue. It’s the acting. Lead actress Nicole LaLiberte proves her versatility once her character is no longer in an adult setting. Her co-stars, on the other hand, never stop acting vaguely porny, even when their scene has nothing to do with sex. Luckily, they’re not around much. Once it’s apparent that they are merely supporting characters, the viewer can stop being distracted by inappropriately sexy line readings and start focusing on the plot at hand.

And the plot is fairly entertaining. Natalie is optimistic after scoring a new, sexy girlfriend named Jazz (who, much to my amusement, lives up to her name by dressing like an extra from “The Fresh Prince of Bell Air”). Unfortunately, Jazz can’t handle Natalie’s job spanking blue-collar men and pressures her to find a new career path ASAP. It just so happens that Natalie’s pot dealer, with whom she has also been working on an autobiographical film script, knows a guy in “the industry.” So Nat agrees to take a job as a P.A. in an attempt to make her girl happy. Can Natalie really change or will her need for control sabotage her new job and her relationship?

The film does have some funny moments, and I’m always endeared to films in which the characters lead perfectly productive lives whilst smoking fat blunts. The dialogue isn’t particularly inspired, but it steers clear of annoying clichés for the most part (not including a tired conspiracy theory monologue by the pot dealer). Also, Natalie’s P.A. montage is a little silly…Human Craft Services Table is not a real job. But apart from that, the acting is (mostly) decent, the story engaging, the cinematography interesting and there’s a sexy girl-on-girl scene to boot. It certainly doesn’t hurt that all of the lesbians are of the lipstick variety.

Originally posted on FilmThreat.com (now defunct).

Film Threat Interview: Humpday

MUMBLECORE DOES THE HUMP!: INTERVIEW WITH LYNN SHELTON AND MARK DUPLASS

If you haven’t heard about “Humpday,” that’s about to change. It’s been the critical darling at nearly every festival it’s graced all over the world. And it starts in limited theatrical release this weekend. I reckon it won’t be long before writer/director Lynn Shelton is a household name. That’s because “Humpday” is more than just a film about two straight dudes trying to convince themselves to have sex with each other for a porn festival. It also covers very relatable yet infrequently explored concepts like liberal homophobia, the perpetual bohemian, and insecurities about settling into urban adulthood, all through an improvised narrative structure. The result is a natural, occasionally moving, and completely hilarious comedy that gives Apatow
and Co. a run for their money.

“Humpday” was inspired by a real amateur porn festival that is hosted by alternative weekly paper, The Stranger, in Lynn Shelton’s hometown of Seattle, WA. Stranger editor Dan Savage recently challenged Lynn to create a Hump! film herself for this year’s competition and she accepted. So if you live in Seattle and manage to score a ticket to this always sold-out event, it’s possible that the next Lynn Shelton film you see may be a bit on the blue side. Fortunately for the Hump! artists, they destroy all of the films after the last screening, allowing actors to be porn stars for one night only. So if you can’t make it to the fest this year, you’ll just have to watch “Humpday” and leave it up to your imagination…

I talked with Lynn and “Humpday” star, Mark Duplass, about the process of creating such a unique film and whether or not we might see some alternate endings on the DVD release. Continue reading

Film Threat Review: Change Your Life

2009
Un-rated
66 minutes
Creek Park Pictures

**

Time was the American Dream meant simply holding down a steady job that put food on the table. Today, that’s just not enough for people. No one wants to put in 40 years working for the Man. We just want to get rich quick, buy the yacht and golf club membership, and retire early. That’s why we live in the era of the scam. It’s not just the ones shaped like a pyramid either. We also have Nigerian email scams, stolen identities, and Ponzi Schemes. Basically, if it’s too good to be true, it probably is. And that is the premise of “Change Your Life.”

Shot in the popular mockumentary style, “Change Your Life” documents several gullible Americans who become apostles of a self-help guru named Simon Martinez. He wears gold chains, speaks in rhyming clichés, and tells his disciples that they can earn $3000 more per month if only they follow his simple, 35-step program. Of course, it’s all a grift, designed so that the only person who can actually make money is Martinez himself.

The film makes no secret of the fact that everyone is being taken for a ride. It constantly makes fun of the cult of self-help culture and the very American desire to make as much money as possible by working as little as possible. These are certainly very compelling and significant themes. But there’s one problem. “Change Your Life” isn’t very funny. The jokes are incredibly PG and on-the-nose. Furthermore, the Christopher Guest style is tired and outdated, especially from people who aren’t Christopher Guest.

OK, so there are several problems. Besides that of Martinez, the characters are terrible. I get that they’re attempting to portray average Americans with no-self confidence and soft morals. But having them be so unlikable makes it seem like the victims of these scams deserve what they get. Sure, at this point, we should all be aware of the tried-and-true methods of parting people from their money. But the real villains are creating new spins on the old tricks all the time. Thanks to Amway, most of us know how to identify a Pyramid Scheme, but a Ponzi Scheme wasn’t in the common lexicon until Bernie Madoff. They made an example of him, but that isn’t going to stop people like him from adapting their methods and trying again.

The film’s saving grace (no pun intended) comes from a very astute parallel between self-help culture and organized religion. At one point, there occurs a standoff between our scheming protagonists, a pair of Mormons, and an Evangelical couple who are all trying to be the first ones to ring a doorbell. These parallels arise again when Martinez mentions that Jesus was the first self-made man, going from a poor carpenter to a man with billions of followers.

With better character development and a less hackneyed narrative structure, “Change Your Life” could have been a poignant criticism of the modern American Dream. Instead, much like the characters who fall for Martinez’s lip service, it’s kind of a pathetic loser.

Originally posted on FilmThreat.com (now defunct).