It’s the end of the year! Which means good news for movie lovers. The superhero franchises and blockbusters are mostly on hold until next spring and summer, and the studios are now trotting out their “serious” fare for award consideration. Don’t get me wrong I love a great actioneer but lately, well … I’ll save those thoughts for another time. I want to talk about two movies that will harsh the holiday high right out of you. And I mean this in the best possible way.
Manchester by the Sea
Written and directed by Kenneth Lonergan, the story is about painful, harrowing loss. Casey Affleck brilliantly plays a Boston janitor who must return to his hometown because of a death in the family. This movie is a slow burn as it builds on the backstory and journey of Affleck’s character. There’s not a false note in this movie as it offers a slice-of-life of experience that combines pathos and levity and makes us reflect on what we hold dear in own lives.
Written and directed by Tom Ford, Nocturnal Animals takes on more complex storytelling than his debut film A Single Man. But like the latter and lucky for us, his fastidious attention detail continues to reign supreme. Starring Amy Adams as a depressed art dealer named Susan, she reads her ex-husband’s (Jake Gyllenhaal) novel, which then enfolds as a story-within-a story, and haunts her throughout the movie. While Susan’s storyline is a campy, grotesque send-up of the art world, shades of Pedro’s Almodovar’s sensibility, and a meditation on life choices, the depiction of the novel is a suspenseful, disturbing thriller fraught with pain. Yes, more pain! I know, not exactly a sunny rec, but this is a challenging film that delves into the dark parts of the soul. Which in my opinion, is always worth exploring.
If you’re up for countering some of the holiday cheer, these are the movies for you.
As pumpkin spice season has descended with a flurry, (Trader Joe’s wins the prize for oddball pumpkin pairings: pumpkin salsa, anyone?) here’s my last gasp attempt to call up “my Galapagos feeling.”
A trip to the islands wouldn’t be complete without enjoying the goofy antics of the blue-footed boobies. The name comes from the Spanish word “bobo,” which means clown. The seabirds got the moniker when the explorers observed their clumsy waddling.
boobie and land iguana square-off
The Galapagos Islands were named for their giant tortoises; early explorers thought the shape of the tortoise shells resembled saddles. “Galapago” means saddle in Spanish. These lumbering creatures can weigh up to 800 lbs. and live to be about one hundred. The older they are the less you can see the rings on their shells
Giant tortises at Darwin Center, Santa Cruz
Swamp bath at Galapagos Conservancy, Santa Cruz
Male and female at Galapagos Conservancy
Park rules prohibit taking anything from the islands, so I had to be satisfied with taking photos of some interesting shells.
Green olivine crystals, Floreana Island
Thanks for checking out my pix!
The Galapagos Islands, the chain of volcanic islands about 620 miles off the coast of Ecuador, are a wildlife lover’s dream. On my trip this summer, I got to see creatures found nowhere else: pre-historic looking marine and land iguanas, a variety of aquatic birds, including blue-footed boobies and the impressive gigantic tortoises. Hiking among its landscapes—sandy beaches, expansive lava fields and desertscapes, which change from island to island—I got to experience how unique this region truly is. As Charles Darwin so aptly said about the Galapagos Islands in The Voyage of the Beagle, the account of his expedition to the islands that led to the development of the theory of evolution: “The archipelago is a little world within itself …”
Kicker Rock: impacted ash thrust from the ocean during volcanic eruption
Kicker Rock from afar
View from Sombrero Chino
300-year-old pricky pear cactus
As the islands are considered a national park, tourism is highly controlled. Upon arrival, we were given a list of regulations, particularly about how to interact with the wildlife. In a word: Don’t! No physical contact, no aggressive gestures and keep voices down. Consequently, the animals don’t consider humans as predators, and they freely come right up to you. Let me tell you, when sea lion pups would flop at my feet or glide around me while I was snorkeling, I’d have to fight every impulse to reach out and touch them.
This sea lion barked at the person sitting here to move, then when vacated took the spot.
Soaking up the sun
Sea lion pup
Nice life if you can get it
Next post: boobies and tortugas!