Out and About in LA: Downtown

So last week I was at the Grand Central Market to try out some food. But that is not all I did that day. I decided to walk a lot of Downtown Los Angeles to see more of my new home. On a very hot day, seriously it was ungodly, I walked from 3rd street to Pico Blvd (a two mile walk) and went to some interesting places. Obviously there is much more to explore in such a city that is still expanding as I type. But hopefully you find some of these places just as fascinating as I did.
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The Babadook (Review)

Children in movies are, by definition, annoying. No matter what genre, no matter the story, and no matter the circumstances; kids are just the worst when it comes to cinema. Even good movies like It Follows or a classic like E.T. gets on my nerves with how much whining I’ll hear. So when people were saying way back in 2014 that the small boy in the Aussie horror flick The Babadook was absolutely grating I hesitated to give this a shot.  On the one hand the people were right in how child actor Noah Wiseman is worse than nails on a chalkboard. But what makes The Babadook truly outstanding is how it casually makes an about-face and turns a solid horror movie into something much more.

If you don’t already know The Babadook is the titular monster. He is a child’s absolute nightmare from a children’s story and God knows how any publisher thought that was a good idea to print. At first you expect this to be a typical creature feature where the monster attacks the Mom and her child is inevitably in danger. You would be absolutely right but only for the first half of this picture. Very slowly you start to realize this creature is not just a physical danger but also, and mostly, a mental danger. For you see the single Mother, played by Essie Davis, is going through some troubling issues what with her husband dying a horrible death a few months ago. Even if by the end of this film the creature becomes a real entity for the most part we can imagine that all of this is an excuse to really go to town on her child.

Look, I’m not advocating at all that abuse is okay or even punishing your child ala spanking. But Noah Wiseman plays such a perfect, piece of shit kid that it is hard not to advocate some kind of violence. He is breaking things all the time, screaming CONSTANTLY in your ear, and cannot shut up about this “imaginary” monster. It was a close decision to NOT turn this movie off because of how frustrating it is to see this widow trying to keep her son in line. But something weird starts to happen. Eventually the tone of the film switches to its horror state and we, somehow, start rooting for this kid. Mostly because we end up realizing that everything this kid was doing was for a reason which is a trope I personally do not enjoy in films. Somehow we are loving it that this kid turns ‘Home Alone‘ on us and can match wits with this creature.

This movie does a successful job by giving you the creeps. Once the Babadook starts messing with this Mother’s head the film’s tone becomes ‘dread’. Not only does she start hallucinating some truly awful stuff but the quick cutting doesn’t make things better. There is a newscast from a nightmare she has that ends in the creepiest image ever that I don’t wanna spoil. But even to this day I am thinking about that image and I get goosebumps. The titular monster itself is a fascinating thing to look at too. Like a shadow he slinks in the darkness and that design of the top hat & cape makes him stand out from most of today’s horror creatures.

Ultimately though this movie is about how a woman tries to keep her sanity in the darkest of moments. The Babadook might end up being a real creature who poses a real threat but at the end of the day this is all a metaphor for depression. The more she thinks how awful her life is the more power this monster has control over her. It might make scenes of her bad mouthing her son somewhat funny because you don’t expect such horrible things being spouted to a young kid. (And, again, it isn’t like the bad mouthing is not justified.) But then when things get real this becomes a movie about child abuse more than a horror movie and that’s where the genius comes in. Get rid of all the supernatural elements and all you get is a widow mother on the verge of a mental breakdown. If Jennifer Kent doesn’t get more chances to put a spin on more horror tropes then the world isn’t fair.

Hopefully this mildly spoiler filled review doesn’t dissuade you from giving The Babadook a shot. It is a genuinely creepy film and that is a rare commodity these days with the horror genre. But what Jennifer Kent does is spin this creature feature into a complex story about loss, depression, and coping with your child. Again, it can’t be stressed enough that Noah Wiseman portrays the most annoying child in the history of cinema. But stick with this for more than half its run time. Trust me, you will not regard sticking with such an unruly beast before getting to the real terror.

Halloween Edition: OH MOVIES style

Hey gang just a quick announcement for the site. Starting tomorrow you will see a Halloween theme piece every Saturday. Not going to be your standard scary themes set of posts. Just a collect of random films, moments, and what haves yous of what I find scary in film. Hope you all enjoy and definitely scope these features out when you get a chance.

Out and About in Culver: Farmer’s Market

It’s been a while since I have been to downtown Culver. Or in the very least the part of Culver I used to frequent during the summer. Every Tuesday the town has a small farmer’s market for the locals on Culver Blvd and Main Street. What do the locals have to offer to us? Find out below:
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Out and About in LA: Grand Central Market

Back in Philadelphia we have a place called Reading Terminal Market. It is a wonderful place where you can buy all kinds of produce, jewelry, and a shit ton of food vendors. I miss a lot of my home back east but I really pine for a good sandwich from DiNic’s or a marshmallow brownie from Flying Monkey. So when I heard that Los Angeles has its own kind of market called the ‘Grand Central Market’ I had to give it a shot. Unfortunately it wasn’t what I was hoping. It was more of a place to have more places to eat and crammed into one hot place. Seriously this place was hot as balls. I’m not saying this wasn’t interesting to walk through and the food I eventually chowed down on was delicious. But is it the same as home? As always the answer is ‘no’. But hey if you are new to the city I say give it a shot especially if you wanna find a cornucopia of choices. Here’s a rundown of what to expect:
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25 Favorite Films: The Master (2012)

True story (w/SPOILER ALERT): Me and my sister went to see this in theaters. How I convinced her to watch a movie essentially about the history of Scientology is anyone’s guess. But we were watching the movie and enjoying ourselves, me probably more so to be honest, and then one of the final scenes happen in the film. In it we have Philip Seymour Hoffman’s character start to sing ‘(I’d Like to Get You on a) Slow Boat to China’. It’s an unnerving moment because while the film has these otherworldly elements it never got too surreal. But having this dude serenade to Joaquin Phoenix was just too much for this one dude behind us because in the middle of this he just screams: “This is Insane!” Both of us totally lost it and to this day it has become one of our favorite moments in a theater.
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Out and About in LA: The MOCA

It’s that time again! Time for me to go to yet another museum in Los Angeles! This time I decided to go to MOCA; or The Museum of Contemporary Art. Me and Modern Art have a shaky history with one another. I try not to judge too harshly with abstract and today’s artist because I am not one to judge. I can barely draw a straight line with a ruler and the things artists today can think of are completely out of my depth. But sometimes I just can’t figure out just what anything is considered ‘art’ these days. Most of what you will see below are what I found to be the high water marks. But I must stress that this probably isn’t the museum for you if any artwork after the 1970s get on your nerves. Alright, enough blabbing from me. Enjoy the show!
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