That a French film, The Intouchables, is touted as the feel-good movie of the year may fill American cinemaphiles with equal parts disbelief, dread and resistance. For this reviewer, the terms “feel-good” and “French film” are mutually exclusive, based on such cringe-inducing attempts at forced fun as Delicatessen and Amélie.
The Bourne franchise has a new boss: Jeremy Renner fills the Matt Damon-shaped hole left behind when Damon bailed, and some can see why he might have chosen to do so. The fourth installment in the franchise (a franchise that seems to unravel a bit more with each edition) is also under the new direction of Tony Gilroy, previously a writer on the other three Bourne films, but promoted to direct The Bourne Legacy when both Paul Greengrass and Damon pulled out.
As if we don’t already have enough of Will Ferrell and political campaigning, the bright and original minds of Hollywood apparently looked down from their offices and said to the people of America: “Here is more.” The Campaign stars Will Ferrell as Cam Brady, a fourth-term South Carolina Congressman who comes across as an unsympathetic, sleazy overcooked version of Ferrell’s George W. impersonation–he’s basically plagiarizing himself.
Relentlessly paced and hard-working–and despite the protean efforts of Colin Farrell– the re-boot of Total Recall, brimming over with too many action sequences (making it 20 minutes too long) somehow is just okay. The production values are amazing if a tad derivative, making the flick (and it is a flick) look like as if Blade Runner and Minority Report met and mated on the set of Transformers.
Small really is beautiful in this slyly funny, deadpan earnest indie, written and produced by a pair of women, Annie Howell and Lisa Robinson, that revolves around the self-doubt of a pregnant Sarah Sparks (Anna Margaret Hollyman). As her last name hints, Sarah is comfortable with electricity–in fact, she’s a one-woman Nerd Team.
Since all of the male (where are the ladies?) critics at the Weekly avoided reviewing this film for reasons only the Great Bearded Light Above understands, I’ve taken it upon myself to analyze and report back, withholding nothing about the social commentary and deep humanism of Magic Mike. But don’t think our reviewing team didn’t see the movie.
One of the fun things about watching movies from a variety of cultures is to trace the migration of bits and pieces of “business.” As soon as somebody busts a move, you can be sure it will show up in half a dozen movies the following season–think of the Hong Kong chopsocky staple, the old run-up-the-wall-backflip. Cool back when, but lately?
Writer-director Woody Allen, looking rather dapper at 76, has cast himself in one of his movies for the first time in years (as a Woody-esque retired opera director) in four stories (thematically linked) about seizing the day. All the main characters (Americans and Italians) are frustrated, stuck in place, and the movie suggests (by plotline) that only by risking can one live: wholly to live is to choose and accept, however nervously.
To judge from the high spirits at opening night of the Honolulu Surf Film Festival at the Doris Duke Theatre, the island’s in the mood to celebrate life in the waves. Lucky for us, as the Festival moves into its second and third weeks, there’s a lineup of features, shorts and speakers that ought to open eyes, blow minds and maybe even prompt a tear or two (notably, Don King and son Beau at Makapuu in Come Hell or High Water.) Tears and cheers erupted for “Nappy” Napoleon, the low-key 67-year-old star of the short I Just Love to Paddle.
Lola Versus, the new woman-on-the-verge-of-30 comedy starring Greta Gerwig, bolts out of its starting blocks saddled with an excessively weighty question: Can mumblecore go legit? We’re talking about the no-budget, seemingly scriptless indie films about self-obsessed twenty-somethings facing early-life crises.
At the end of High Sierra, Ida Lupino cowers over the dead body of a gangster played by Humphrey Bogart. Through her tears she asks a detective, “Mister, what does it mean when a man crashes out?” The detective answers, “It means he’s free.” “Free!” Lupino exclaims, with an expression of bittersweet relief.
To kick off the film series portion of its blockbuster Tattoo Honolulu exhibition, The Honolulu Museum of Art’s Doris Duke Theatre couldn’t have made a wiser or more relevant choice than Skin Stories. The one-hour documentary, an executive production of the Honolulu-based Pacific Islanders in Communications (PIC), manages to capture the beauty, history, meaning and excruciating pain of Polynesian tattooing.
On a breezy May evening, in the courtyard of the state library, local publishers, writers and book designers gathered to celebrate the 2013 Ka Palapala Pookela Awards, sponsored by the Hawaii Book Publishers Association. The place was packed, and I was struck by such a healthy showing for an industry whose demise has been predicted since before the advent of Amazon.
I was intrigued recently to channel surf upon a deft interview of Susanna Moore on PBS Hawaii. Moore is the nationally acclaimed author of nine books, perhaps best known for her luminous My Old Sweetheart and other Hawaii novels, as well as the rough-sex 2004 noir In the Cut.
Kabuki Boy, a novel, reads almost like an autobiography filled with vivid details that transport us to 19th-century Japan during the “Tokugawa Era.” Fast-paced and humorous, it aptly dramatizes an ancient dramatic art. The hierarchy between the social classes of samurai, geisha, peasants and monks comes alive from the page, seen through the eyes of Myo, a young boy aspiring to become a kabuki actor.
Calling this big fat novel Hawaii was bound to raise eyebrows. Hey, come run to the schoolyard to watch Mark Panek throw down!
Beautifully designed, with outstanding photography of India and Tibet by Linda Connor, the newest edition of Manoa is especially ambitious in its choice of subject/theme. It attempts to present diverse interpretations of the meanings and implications of the term “freedom,” doing so in the forms of fiction, essays, poetry, memoir and drama.
This new book of poetry is easy to read, yet I had all kinds of strange dreams after reading it. The poems are short but poignant–a lot of thought and crafting went into every well-placed word.
When the young narrator, Landon DeSilva, of Tyler Miranda’s novel Ewa Which Way, watches an episode of “Leave It To Beaver,” he sees a family whose idea of discipline is a father and son discussion without “head cracks” or “cuss words.” In the episode, Eddie Haskell and Wally Cleaver talk about the Beaver’s highjinks, and Landon’s friend says, “just like your brudda . .
In a poetry class I teach at Windward Community College, a student recently did a presentation on coming-out poems and presented her own. One of her peers asked a thoughtful question: “If you are a gay, are you automatically part of the gay community?” It’s a question I’ve had about being Asian American–and a poet.
In Wing Tek Lum’s poem “The Red Circle,” a sergeant teaches his soldiers how to use a bayonet during Japan’s infamous occupation of Nanjing, China in 1937: “With a nub of red chalk / our sergeant marks off / a crude circle in the center / of the chest.” The men are instructed to stab everywhere, except the heart. A quick death would be too kind–too merciful.
“We are selves in a world because we have words,” writes the late poet Tony Quagliano in the preface of his book, Language Matters. In this masterful collection, every line absorbs the reader into the writer’s world, revealing his intimate thoughts on politics, writing, Hawaii and life.
A sort of team anthology, Sunset Inn: Tales from the North Shore is a collection of fiction, poetry and a play published by the Aloha Romance Writers, who admittedly chose–over margaritas and Mexican food–the conceit of a colonial-style seaside inn, described in Patrice Wilson’s poem “This Haven” as “white as salt” and “bleached coral in the sea,” as a central setting for their book. Like the landscape and the building, the collection holds stories of love found, lost and always remembered, some of which are based in Hawaii history and some from a contemporary eye, but all adhering to the familiar elements of the romance genre and the romantic.
In Huna Magic: The Hawaiian Odyssey, Dawn Star puts on a modern spin on Hawaiian mythology and folklore. Set in ancient Hawaii, the book starts off with the classic forbidden love story between a young woman, Kuulei ke Anuenue and a handsome man, Kai, who happens to be the chiefess’s love slave.
The reader weary of cutesy novels with multiple story lines that are obviously going to be inextricably tied together, somehow, might not want to venture too far into Darien Gee’s The Avalon Ladies Scrapbooking Society. But if it’s comfort food for the brain you’re after, you’d be missing out.
Set in Hawaii, Saving Paradise, Mike Bond’s sixth detective novel, tells a passable if unevenly written story featuring one Pono Hawkins, a Special Forces vet (Afghanistan), celebrated international surfer and correspondent for ocean magazines. He also insinuates himself into the woes of others, in this case a beautiful young thing whose lifeless body bumps into Hawkins as he goes surfing at dawn.
Confucius said, “If your plan is for one year, plant rice; if your plan is for 10 years, plant trees; if your plan is for 100 years, educate children.” The philosopher’s sagacious message seems to align with the alternative approach to education seen in Hawaii’s charter school system. Noelani Goodyear-Kaopua’s The Seeds We Planted is an ethnography articulating the establishment, growth, and success of Halau Ku Mana, one of the few Hawaiian culture-based charter schools in Honolulu.
Leilani Holmes’s richly chronicled journey toward a reconnection with her Kanaka Maoli culture opens with the epigraph: “For those who came before us. In hopes that we act on behalf of your bones.” Ancestry of Experience is a thoroughly researched and deeply genealogical journey.
There’s something foreboding about the cover of Pink Globalization. It’s a dark, monochromatic picture of an enormous grey Hello Kitty gazing ominously into the night in front of a corporate-looking building. The picture is certainly intriguing and symbolic–Hello Kitty is taking over the world.
A deeply researched and careful weaving of previously unheard voices can be found in Mai Lepera, adding another layer about leprosy patients exiled to settlements at Makanalua peninsula in the 19th century. Keri A.
If resiliency spoke of a group of people, the Japanese population of the then-Territory of Hawaii during World War II claims the description. With one specific attack on December 7, 1941, an island-wide prejudice against all immigrant Japanese was born, painting a picture of angry nationals who plotted Hawaii’s demise.
An ambitious, immensely rewarding product of nearly five decades’ research and teaching (beginning when the author was l3 years old), Patrick Vinton Kirch’s A Shark Going Inland is my Chief bids fair to be a definitive, almost exhaustive look at “the island civilization of ancient Hawaii.” Divided into three major parts, Shark starts with Cook’s arrival when Hawaii was four major kingdoms in the midst of creating stratified societies.Kirch deals with religion, evolving social structures and belief systems to make ancient Hawaii come alive. Especially noteworthy are beautiful descriptions of the making of canoes, particularly the vaka moana, capable of transporting families.
Music stores abound with compilations of “50 Favorite Songs” for everything from jazz to the Beatles to Bach. Now it’s time for the mid-20th century music of Hawaii.
Compiled by Christopher LaVoie, Annexation! presents the imperialist agendas of the U.S.
Hawaiki Rising by Sam Low tells the epic saga of voyaging on the Hokulea, which, as every Island schoolchild should know, is a traditionally constructed Hawaiian sailing vessel that is steered by observing natural elements, without instruments or maps. Low, a part-Hawaiian anthropologist who participated in three voyages, follows the Hokulea through conception, construction, and navigation.
The feeling of being an outsider in one’s beloved homeland is the theme underpinning Pamela Frierson’s fluid and honest nature writing. In her books, The Last Atoll: Exploring Hawaii’s Endangered Ecosystems and The Burning Island: Myth and History in Volcano Country, Hawaii, Frierson explores Hawaii’s unique ecosystems, while also searching for personal relevance where she grew up very aware of being merely a “second-generation colonist.” The shadows of a world unknown drive the writer, teacher and homesteader to attach to the landscape, pursuing a deeper understanding of Hawaii’s natural order, and, through those experiences, a sense of belonging.
Donald Hodel’s Loulu: The Hawaiian Palm is winner of this year’s Ka Palapala Award for Excellence in Natural Science. Loulu the Hawaiian Palm Donald R.
Charlotte A. Tomaino, neuropsychologist and former nun, started with the intriguing concept of explaining how grace and spirituality can “awaken” the brain to a fuller potential through expanded consciousness.
Sharon Hicks’ How Do You Grab a Naked Lady recounts the relationship between Hicks, her mentally ill mother and idealist father. We meet Hicks at age 16 as she witnesses her mother parading around a mall in the buff, yelling and cursing–one of many manic episodes we’ll see during the book.
One paradox of TheLast Train to Zona Verde, Paul Theroux’s 46th book and his latest about Africa, is that it’s also one of the best meditations on Hawaii you’ll ever read. But first, why Africa?
Confirming rumors, Barnes & Noble’s (B&N) Kahala Mall bookstore will close when its lease expires in January 2014. There are no current reports concerning B&N’s Ala Moana location, but it’s probably a matter of when, not if, management installs a T-shirt store.
Last weekend, Susanna Moore was in town to read from her new novel, The Life of Objects. A striking beauty–high cheekbones, fine features, long white hair with an inky streak that matches her brilliant black eyes–she wore a sleeveless blouse, full cotton skirt and rubber slippers.
We were out at Tongg’s surf break when the world’s best-traveled writer paddled past in a kayak. I said, “Paul Theroux?” Mindy nodded.
KAKAAKO MEETINGS The HCDA will host a series of meetings to discuss the Kakaako redevelopment plan and how rail will fit in with those plans. The meetings are open to the public.
On May 13, Common Cause Hawaii assembled a panel, titled “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly,” to deconstruct lessons from the recently ended 2013 Legislative Session. Commentators included Rep.
Mayor Caldwell is winding down his public town-hall meetings campaign. The meetings are designed to update the public on the progress of the Mayor’s major first-year initiatives: repaving the roads, getting TheBus routes restored, making the city’s parks beautiful, fixing Honolulu’s sewer infrastructure, building rail better and, most recently, solving homelessness.
During a 2011 speech to the Australian Parliament, President Obama declared: “The United States will play a larger and long term role in shaping [the Pacific] region and its future.” On May 10, the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) Pacific Forum hosted a panel discussion that sought to determine what a U.S. “pivot” toward the region would look like and what the reaction to increased U.S.
I picked up your May 15 issue with great anticipation because on the cover was a photo of a person experiencing homelessness who I have had numerous interactions with (“Derelict Downtown,” May 15). He is someone I have always found to be articulate and friendly–an ideal person to talk to if one wishes to learn about experiencing homelessness.
The puppetmasters controlling the creation of the Hawaiian Nation have manipulated Hawaiians who have signed up for any Hawaiian registry to become captive members of Kanaiolowalu, the Native Hawaiian Roll Commission. Those bills were heard this session and were passed by the Senate in the Tourism and Hawaiian Affairs Committee chaired by Brickwood Galuteria and the Judiciary and Labor Committe chaired by Clayton Hee, although the forced enrollment is unconstitutional.
The Land Use Commission, the Honolulu Planning Commission, the Zoning Variance Commissions and all the other BS commissions are hijacked by big business (“Hoopili Miss,” May 15). Judge Rhonda Nishimura’s head is buried in the sand if she doesn’t recognize the votes were bought.
I try to not miss a Redford film, and, of course, I can relate to events of the ’60s (“Last Round-Up,” May 8). It is disappointing that The Company You Keep is being shown only at Kahala Theatre.
Aloha, I am Elyse. Please let me know if you have any questions, I would love to answer them (“Just Our Cup of Tea,” May 15).
In last week’s “Derelict Downtown” (May 15), we mistakenly listed Kirk Caldwell’s campaign phone number. To contact the Mayor, please call 768-4141.