Mi Madre and I headed to Vancouver earlier this month for a very fun 24 hours tromping around the town, checking out restaurants, bars, parks, and art. Here is a short account of the trip. Please check out the links to read my considerably more detailed Yelp reviews of each of the spots we visited. I’ll also link to photos from my Vancouver photoset on flickr.
After checking into our West End hotel the Blue Horizon (the same hotel where my grandfather stayed for a few months when he first moved to Vancouver in the 1970s), we hit Robson heading east. Our first stop was Japa Dog (4* on Yelp) (photo) – a little lunch time amalgamation of a hot dog stand and Japanese street food. That provided us with some fuel for the long walk down seedy Hastings street. But before we got there, we passed the big construction project that is Vancouver’s BC Place Stadium (photo). When the retractable roof is completed next year it will be the home of Vancouver’s new MLS franchise, the Whitecaps.
Hastings Street is starting to show some signs of gentrification. I only saw two people smoking crack openly on the street. There was still some pretty cool street art to be found (photos 1 | 2 | 3). Once past all that, we came to our destination, Commercial Drive. I had read that The Drive, as it’s known, is one of the more happening parts of Van and the reports seem to be true. It isn’t quite Los Feliz or Abbott Kinney, but it did remind me of The Ave in Seattle’s University District.
We stopped for coffee on the north end of The Drive at Pane Vero (4* on Yelp) before heading down through the heart of The Drive’s shopping district. Amongst other spots, we ducked into the memorable 10,000 Villages (5* on Yelp) where we bought a very cool trivet made of folded newspaper from the Philippines. After that we headed down The Drive past a number of Italian groceries and soccer bars where we spotted a very cool Italian soccer mural (photo). We went on to explore the Portland-esque neighborhood behind The Drive and then stopped for happy hour at an enjoyable spot called Timbre Restaurant (4* on Yelp).
From there we jumped on the skytrain and got out at the east end of False Creek where the sun finally peeked out for a bit (photo). The south east corner of False Creek is where Vancouver’s Olympic Village was built last winter. They’ve turned the media center into a very nice recreation center and all the athlete’s housing is now condos for sale (though most seemed empty). The weird part is that it seemed like they have done as much as possible to wipe away the signs that this is where the Olympics took place. No rings, no flame – the only hint was a street sign that ready Athlete’s Drive. Really it was kind of strange.
Just west of the condos is a very cool park (photo) with some great sculptures and some big kid toys. We had a great time checking this place out and the nice view across the creek (photo) before walking back downtown over the Cambie Street Bridge. Looking down from the bridge there was a very cool view of a huge pile of concrete street barriers (photo).
We walked back through downtown and up to Gastown where we walked past photogenic alleyways (photo) and shops (photo). We had a before dinner drink at my new favorite bar the Alibi Room (5* on Yelp) before heading to the dinner spot we decided on, the disappointing Pourhouse (3* on Yelp).
After dinner we walked back west past a cool interactive wooden art installation (photos 1 | 2). Our destination was a bar (pictured above) near our hotel called O’Douls (3* on Yelp). Unfortunately the advertised live music was a glorified hotel lobby band. But we did have a great time ending the evening sipping whiskey (photo). Stay tuned for news on my momma’s upcoming blog Sketching Scotches (working title).
We awoke to a rainy morning and after coffee took a nice drive around Vancouver’s Stanley Park. We then headed south to trendy Kitsilano where we stopped for brunch and the funky and delicious Sophie’s Cosmic Cafe (5* on Yelp) (photo). After eating we were off to the extremely enjoyable Museum of Anthropology on the UBC campus. I’m going to post a whole photoset of all the cool masks inside the museum soon, but for now here, is a photo of Arthur Erickson’s beautiful building.
After the museum it was time to drive back south to the US of A where we met John and friends for a delicious dinner in BHam at Bayou on Bay (5* on Yelp). All in all it was a fantastic trip. Vancouver is just as fun a city as I remember from those 19 year old drunken escapades – only this time with much better food. I look forward to the next trip. Thanks Momma!
Don’t get mad at me Seattle film fans – I just heard someone on iW refer to your wonderful fest that way and couldn’t help but repeat it. With 260 features, SIFF is the biggest fest in the country. It is a great opportunity for NWers to see the movies making the fest rounds from the previous year and to catch some otherwise hard to find foreign films. SIFF’s website format makes it hard to weed through the multitude of titles (just put the director under the damn title), but here is what caught my eye in the quick look I took at the program.
The Sentimental Engine Slayer – Wow I somehow missed hearing about this one when it prem’d at Rotterdam and then played at Tribeca, but this is the debut feature from Omar Rodriguez Lopez (yep, of The Mars Volta fame) who wrote, directed, and stars in this tripped out sounding film. Peep the trailer and move this one to the top of your list.
Farewell – Christian Carion’s French Cold War spy thriller is his follow up to 2005’s Joyeux Noel.
Leaves of Grass – Coming off an acclaimed premier at SXSW, this pot growing drama from Tim Blake Nelson screens as part of a Tribute to Ed Norton that includes screenings of 25th Hour, Fight Club, and American History X (what… no Death to Smoochy?).
American Faust: From Condi to Neo-Condi – This is the first I have heard of Sebastian Doggart’s (a former Project Runway producer) political docu that delves deep into the career of Condoleeza Rice as “a woman whose pursuit of power has both destroyed her values and hurled America into a perilous new direction.”
The Milk of Sorrow – This challenging sounding Peruvian film by Claudia Llosa was nom’d for the Foreign Language Oscar.
The Dancer and the Thief – Fresh off his fantastic performance in the Foreign Language Oscar winning The Secret in Their Eyes, Ricardo Darin stars as a reformed thief in veteran filmmaker Fernando Trueba’s post-Pinochet era romantic-thriller. This screens as part of a New Spanish Cinema program at the fest.
Skeletons – This British black comedy by Nick Whitfield about skeleton extractors (like the ones in closets) has a decisively Gondry-esque surreal sound to it and might be worth a gander.
Micmacs – I’ve mentioned it a number of times and I am still looking forward to catching the latest from Jean-Pierre Jeunet.
Ondine – Neil Jordan’s (The Crying Game, Interview with a Vampire) Colin Farrell starring mermaid story never quite caught hold after its Toronto prem – but it hung around long enough to play at Tribeca last month and again at SIFF.
This Way of Life – Call me fascinated with New Zealand, but this documentary about a family living in New Zealand’s Ruahine Mountains and their struggles with modernity sounds incredibly interesting. Just check out the trailer.
The Trotsky – Jay Baruchel stars as the young Canadian reincarnation of the Socialist revolutionary in this Jacob Tierney comedy hit from Toronto.
Down Terrace – I’ve heard nothing but good about this British gangster flick which screened way back at Fantastic Fest.
Life During Wartime – Paul Reubens and others star in Todd Solondz’s (Welcome to the Dollhouse, Happiness) latest dark comedy.
Under the Mountain – You may think Jonathan King’s New Zealand based film will be a fresh take on the youth adventure genre, but it is snores-ville as evidenced by its unimpressive reception at Fantastic Fest.
RoboGeisha – Get ready for wacky as you delve into Noboru Iguchi’s wild world of genital weaponry.
Air Doll – Hirokazu Kore-eda (Still Walking, Nobody Knows, After Life) returns with this odd tale of a man and his doll.
Kanikosen I don’t know much about the Japanese director who goes by Sabu (Unlucky Monkey), but this film about Japanese-Russian relations in the early days of the 20th century takes place on a crab canning ship and sounds suitably wacky.
Bakal Boys – This Filipino docu-drama tells the story of the young metal divers in the heavily polluted Manila Bay.
Little Big Soldier – Jackie Chan’s latest action comedy takes place in way ancient China.
At the End of Daybreak – There aren’t a whole lot of movies that make it here from Malaysia. This noir-ish drama could be interesting.
Mundane History – Thai filmmaker Anocha Suwichakornpong’s first feature sounds like an impressive exploration of art and life.
Quite a few of Sundance’s best narrative films are making their NW premier at SIFF – including the official fest fave, Debra Granik’s Winter’s Bone. One of my personal faves, Tucker & Dale Vs. Evil will be playing as a midnight film along side one of the less popular midnighters, the Adrian Brody + Sarah Polley starrer Splice. The John Lennon as a young man Nowhere Boy is playing – as is the James Franco as Allen Ginsberg Howl. Two more flicks that I caught, Cyrus which stars John C. Reilly, Jonah Hill, and Marisa Tomei and the Jesse Eisenberg orthodox Jew ecstasy smuggling movie I enjoyed, Holy Rollers.
There are also some great Sundance docs at the fest – including one I am still excited to see, Jean-Michel Basquiat: The Radiant Child. Restrepo which won the Docu Grand Jury prize will be there, as will the other big war docu The Tillman Story. The Oath, about a Guantanamo detainee won a special cinematography prize and Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work had a whole lot of buzz. A couple domestic topics, 8: The Mormon Proposition about California’s anti-gay Prop. 8 and the Davis Guggenheim directed public school expose Waiting for Superman are both playing. Finally, one film I enjoyed about Chinese domestic migration Last Train Home is also on the bill.
For more on these Sundace flicks, check out my Sundance Wrap from earlier this year.
It is time once again for the massive Seattle International Film Fest, and once again I find myself in Seattle as it kicks off. However, with 395 films (!!) over three weeks I will only be able to catch a flick or two towards the beginning. Still I have poured through the catalog in order to give NWers a few recommendations of films that might be worth checking out. The fest website is great this year with trailers for many of the films on their own slick embedded player. Click the film title for the SIFF page and Enjoy!
(500) Days of Summer
Quite possibly the film I am most looking forward to this summer is music video director Marc Webb’s feature debut. This Sundance hit stars Zooey Deschanel and Joseph Gordon-Levitt in an offbeat romance. Fox Searchlight is set to release the film in mid-July but if you can’t wait (why would you?) then catch it at SIFF during the fest’s last week.
We Live in Public
Ondi Timoner, director of one of my favorite documentaries ever, DiG!, finally has a new film out and it looks incredibly interesting. The film goes inside a social experiment that put 100 people underground New York to live and party together – all in front of a ton of cameras. Anyone who saw DiG! knows Timoner is one of the best at letting his subjects tell the story and this is sure to be a first rate doc.
This award winning Italian film is the dramatization of the true story of a highly influential Italian politician with deep mafia roots. The film won a Jury prize at Cannes last year. SIFF says: “Sorrentino’s stylized portrait of Andreotti manages to be seriously political but wraps its message in an entertaining package featuring wicked wit and brilliant cinematography.”
Maradona by Kusturica
What film festival would be complete without a soccer documentary? This is award winning filmmaker Emir Kusturica’s examination of the life and career of one of the best footballers of all time, Argentine Diego Maradona.
Seattle sports fans finally have a reason to get excited – and it is for the beautiful game no less! MLS kicked off the ’09 season last night in Qwest field with the expansion team Seattle Sounders FC dismantling the NY Red Bulls – a team that played in the MLS final last year! Seattle has a great squad, led up front by 21 year-old Colombian phenom Fredy Montero (two goals and one assist) and in the net by 39 year-old captain Kasey Keller, one of USA Soccer’s best goal keepers ever. Former Arsenal star Freddie Ljungberg, certainly one of the best in MLS, is also on the squad but not quite in match form as he recovers from hip surgery.
What was really incredible was the support given the team by the fans. Qwest was roaring like the 4th quarter of a Seahawks game – the crowd a sea of rave green and sounder blue scarves. Everyone from the MLS Commish to the commentators was impressed.
“Having spent my whole career in Europe, I was worried about being let down — why come home for this?” said a beaming Kasey Keller. “But there’s probably not a better atmosphere for soccer in America.
“This team is raising the bar for what our teams could achieve,” Don Garber, MLS commissioner, gushed at halftime.
“This is the most successful launch in MLS history,” Joe Roth, the Hollywood movie producer and part-owner of the team told the crowd. “We proved Seattle is the capital of soccer in this country.”
MLS gets a lot of flack for the play not being up to the level of the Euro leagues. There is a lot of truth in that. But I for one am extremely excited to finally have a team I can fully support. Now just don’t move to Oklahoma.
The Sounders next take on Real Salt Lake a week from Sat. at Qwest. Here are some links:
Art Thiel reports (P-I) — Sounders Home — Sounders $5 T-shirt QFC Promo (someone in NW wanna grab one of these for me – size M pls?)
Def winning this week’s award for best blog name, sboogie and dbot have got their new NW based blog up and running. Check it out and congrats yo.
The SASQUATCH! 2009 lineup is out and I am very, very impressed. Not the Seattle-centric lineup of last year but still a fantastic and actually stronger lineup. Once again the fest takes place Memorial Day weekend at the Gorge, about two hours east of Seattle. Here’s the lineup:
Saturday, May 23th
Kings of Leon / Yeah Yeah Yeahs / The Decemberists / Animal Collective / Bon Iver / M. Ward / Doves / Sun Kil Moon / The Gaslight Anthem / King Khan & The Shrines / Ra Ra Riot / Shearwater / Passion Pit / Mt. St. Helens Vietnam Band / Vince Mira / Blind Pilot / Owl City / Arthur & Yu / Dent May & His Magnificent Ukulele / Death Vessel / Hockey / James Pants / Todd Barry / Tim & Eric Awesome Show, Great Job! / People’s Republic of Komedy
Sunday, May 24th
Jane’s Addiction / Nine Inch Nails / TV On The Radio / Peter Bjorn and John / of Montreal / The Avett Brothers / Calexico / M83 / The Airborne Toxic Event / The Walkmen / The Wrens / St. Vincent / The Dodos / John Vanderslice / The Submarines / Viva Voce / The Builders And The Butchers / AA Bondy / Fences / Point Juncture, WA / The Red Wine Boys / Jon Benjamin / Zach Galifianakis / Deadmau5 / Natalie Portman’s Shaved Head / People’s Republic of Komedy / Devotchka
Monday, May 25th
Ben Harper and Relentless7 / Erykah Badu / Silversun Pickups / Fleet Foxes / Gogol Bordello / Santogold / Grizzly Bear / Explosions In The Sky / Girl Talk / Blitzen Trapper / The Knux / Monotonix / Bishop Allen / Black Moth Super Rainbow / Beach House / Mugison / The Dutchess And The Duke / School Of Seven Bells / Horse Feathers / The Pica Beats / Loch Lomond / BLK JKS / Demetri Martin / God’s Pottery / Chromeo / Tobacco / People’s Republic of Komedy
I’ve tried to bold the acts I am most excited about but it seems that is most of the main acts. Organizers have done a great job to get stronger closers as it seemed like the main attractions last year were the second to last bands. Still, NIN going on before Jane’s is a bit baffling – but I guess they are touring that way.
We had a helluva fun time camping at the nearby Wild Horse Campground and taking in the show last year and with a lineup this strong, I think I gotta go back. Tix go on sale weekend after next and if you buy them then, you get all 3 days for $155 – way cheaper than Coachella. Anyone else interested? Who are you most excited about? Anyone into any of the smaller acts?
New photos from my recent time in the N-dub are up on flickr. There are shots from my momma’s (like this shot of the Dancing Ballerina), shots from the Sasquatch Festival (also see Danz’s shots), shots from the city, and shots from the Rangerville party (and Abby has shots up on facebook – tho you probably gotta log in).
Lemme know what you think and thanks to everyone who made it such a great trip.
Hello from Seattle!!
Close on the heels of my arrival in the NW is this years Seattle Int’l Film Festival. Welcome SIFF. The following are the highlights, according to me. I’m planning to check out a few flicks during the time I am in and out of the city (see below in bold). Lemme know if you wanna join or if you catch anything cool.
My favorite film at Sundance – this fantastic coming of age story follows a high schooler (Josh Peck) as he slangs dope to his shrink (Ben Kingsley) and gets his heart broken by the shrink’s daughter (Olivia Thirlby). All of this is set to a bumpin early 90s hip hop soundtrack. Check this flick out for sure! (It’ll be out in theaters this summer).
Man on Wire
This docu is definitely one of the year’s best. Unfolding like a crime thriller, it tells the story of a high wire walker as he plans and carries out his famous World Trade Center feat of 1974. I highly recommend this.
I’m going to give Thai auteur Pen-ek Ratanaruang another shot after his disappointing Hidden Waves. Seeing this Weds. 5/28 at 9:30P.
Love and Honor (Bushi no Ichibun)
I was so excited when I saw that Yoji Yamada’s final chapter of his samurai trilogy would be at SIFF (I was lucky enough to catch the other two on the big screen) until I discovered both screenings are Memorial Day Weekend and I can’t make it!
Two of the men above are the artists behind one of the most progressive alt.noise rock and roll bands playing music today – the other two are the goofy duo leading the Kiwi comedy.folk revolution happening across America (can you tell who is who?). What do they both have in common? They are both on the bill for this year’s Sasquatch Music Festival taking place at the Gorge Amphitheater this Memorial Day weekend.
Saturday, May 24th
R.E.M. / Modest Mouse / M.I.A. / The New Pornographers / The National / Ozomatli / Beirut / Dengue Fever / Fleet Foxes / The Breeders / Okkervil River / Crudo (featuring Mike Patton & Dan The Automator) / Destroyer / Dead Confederate / Grand Archives / David Bazan / Joshua Morrison / Vince Mira with the Roy Kay Trio / Throw Me The Statue / The Shaky Hands
Sunday, May 25th
The Cure / Death Cab For Cutie / Michael Franti & Spearhead / Blue Scholars / Cold War Kids / Tegan & Sara / Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks / The Kooks / Mates of State / Rogue Wave / White Rabbits / The Heavenly States / 65daysofstatic / Sera Cahoone / The Blakes / The Cops / J. Tillman / "Awesome"
Monday, May 26th
The Flaming Lips U.F.O. Show / The Mars Volta / Flight Of The Conchords / Rodrigo Y Gabriela / Built To Spill / The Hives / Matt Costa / Ghostland Observatory / Jamie Lidell / Battles / The Cave Singers / The Little Ones / Thao Nguyen with the Get Down Stay Down / Pela / Kinski / Dyme Def / Say Hi / Siberian
Pretty freakin amazing. I bought my tickets – anyone else want to roll.