Day Dates In Los Angeles

Day Dates In Los Angeles

“A sip of wine, a cigarette, And then it’s time to go. I tidied up the kitchenette; I tuned the old banjo. I’m wanted at the traffic-jam. They’re saving me a seat.” Leonard Cohen

L.A. is a car city. Most people drive; whether it’s to work or to grab a coffee at the Starbucks down the street. It doesn’t matter if your office is in walking distance, you’ll hop in your car to get there. Since everyone drives everywhere, LA traffic can turn a quick trip into a long commute.

Los Angeles had the world’s worst traffic in 2016  beating out Moscow for the top spot in the rankings released by traffic firm INRIX. According to the survey, Los Angeles motorists spent an average of 104 hours stuck in traffic last year. The worst traffic day is Friday.

I moved to the Venice Marina Del Rey area last summer if you did not read my sad moving blogs. My friends and family live on the other side of the 405 freeway. This means that the city’s congestion now confines me to my own area on week day evenings. Local neighborhoods have had to become more self-sufficient with interesting restaurants, bars, cultural and recreational sources as more and more  people do not want to sit in traffic to go out at night.

It’s traditional to make plans with people at night. I tried when I first moved here to continue to meet people during the week. “I’ll be there in twenty minutes,” I would say when I was in standstill traffic and knew it would be at least an hour. I would have to leave at four o clock for a seven o clock dinner. A two-hour dinner in town became a five-hour dinner with traffic and parking.

I began to only accept invitations to things I had to do – celebrations, rock concerts and a few events. I stopped going to the theatre, ballet and gallery openings downtown on week nights.  All these things were available on weekends. I started to stay home on weekday evenings unless people wanted to drive to the beach or at least to my side of the 405.  I blamed it on my puppy’s anxiety (which is sad but true). My friend’s and family did not want to make the drive here after the first new house inspection. Guys will do it.

 Recently I started making day dates with my friends on the other side of the 405 and the east side of town. If you go to a movie in a crowded mall on an afternoon, the theatre is empty. You can park on the first level and not spend a half hour getting out of the parking lot. The ridiculously crowded restaurants have plenty of space available. The concession stand is empty and will even make a fresh batch of popcorn or pot of coffee if you ask nicely. There are no lines for the bathroom. I do the weekend theatre matinees  downtown and have an early dinner to try a trendy downtown restaurant. Weekend brunches are my best friend though as it gets closer to the summer the traffic  near the beach will be a problem.  Lunch dates always work.  My friends aren’t thrilled with the new arrangement but they are doing it and agree it is relaxing and fun.

I am no longer losing entire days of my life sitting in traffic. There are plenty of other things I can do with those 104 hours.

Fly safe,

JAZ

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Things That I Have Learned From Watching Movies

Things That I Have Learned From Watching Movies

“Everything I learned, I learned from the
movies.” Audrey Hepburn

I watch a lot of movies on planes. I love watching old movies and here is some of the things I have learned when flying across the world.

Characters seem to always find a parking spot directly in front of the building they are going to even in a large metropolitan area where parking is impossible.

When foreigners are alone, they prefer to speak English to each other.

When you are in a film, it is easy to control any vehicle you need to – especially landing a plane.

If you decide to start dancing in the street, everyone around you will know the steps you come up with and hear the music in your head.

The ventilation system in any building is the perfect hiding place. No one will ever think of looking for you in there and you can travel to any other part of the building.

Bad guys die quickly, good guys die slowly.

No matter how crowded the bar is, there are always stools by the bartender who is waiting to take your order.

Women can never find their car keys when being pursued by a killer. Once they find them it takes them a long time to find the ignition, giving the killer a chance to reach the car and pound on the window.

When driving down a straight road, it is always necessary to vigorously turn the wheel to the right or left every few minutes.

Cats always make a noise. If someone is scared by cat, it always has to meow before running off.

If you want to pass yourself off as a German officer you do not need to speak German. A strong guttural accent will suffice.

Aliens will always have more technology than we do.

Fly safe,

JAZ

Favorite Foreign Films

“Toto, I have a feeling we are not in Kansas anymore.”  Wizard of Oz 1939

Favorite Foreign Films

There is nothing I like better than sitting in a dark theatre with subtitles. It combines  some of my favorite things –  reading , movies and foreign countries.  The best thing is  to be eating popcorn, red vines and a diet coke.  Lately,  it  is  healthy snacks brought from home  – almonds, Tcho chocolate and water.  I know when people think of the best foreign films they include names like Fellini, Kurosawa, Trauffaut,  Eisenstein, Bunuel,  De Sica etc.  This could be another blog.  Im sure most of you have at least heard of those.  I thought I would  list some of the ones that I have really enjoyed  a little more recently.  You might find a few that you have missed.  They are in no particular order. Im sure you can get them on netflix.  Sadly, I feel the need to add a disclaimer.  None of these films  will cause trauma or violence to anyone.

Cinema Paradiso (Italy)

Writer Director:  Giuseppe Tornatore  Cast: Philippe Noiret, Enzo Cannavale

It is my favorite movie and my favorite movie score (Ennio Morricone). Cinema Paradiso won the Academy Award for best foreign film in 1989. It takes place in a village in Italy during World War ll and has a wonderful cast of villagers.  The film  follows Toto (Jacques Perrin), a Sicilian boy who persuades the town projectionist, Alfredo (Philippe Noiret), to teach him how to show films. Spanning nearly 50 years, it draws parallels between Toto’s life and those lives he sees on screen. As Toto matures into Salvatore, a successful Italian filmmaker, the Cinema Paradiso ages as well.

The Lives of Others (Germany)

Writer Director:  Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck   Cast:  Ulrich Muhe, Martina Gedeck and Sebastian Koch

In 1984 East Berlin, an agent of the secret police, conducting surveillance on a writer and his lover, finds himself becoming increasingly absorbed by their lives. The film does a beautiful job of questioning integrity or duty while keeping you on the edge of your seat with the suspense.  The acting is  superb and has one of the most satisfying endings. It won the 2006 Academy Award for best foreign film.

Amelie  (France)

Director: Jean Pierre Jeunet   Writer: Guillaume Laurant, Jean Perre Jeunet Cast: Audrey Tatou, Mathieu Kassoviz

Amelie is a young waitress in Montmarte. She has grown up isolated from other children, very shy and  with a vivid imagination. She begins to get involved in the lives around her by matchmaking and fixing problems from a distance. She forms a friendship with a man who slowly helps her breakdown her own isolation and shyness .

A Separation (Iran)

Writer Director:  Asghar Farhadi   Cast: Peyman Moadi, Leila Hatami and Sareh Bayat

The film focuses on an Iranian middle-class couple who separate.   More conflicts  arise when the husband hires a lower-class caretaker for his elderly father, who suffers from Alzheimer’s disease. It shows life in current day Iran.  The film won the Academy Award for best foreign film  in 2011.  I think it is the closest thing to a perfect film – it is very well written, acted and directed.

Moscow Doesn’t Believe In Tears  (Russia)

Director:  Vladimir Menshov  Writers:  Valentin  Chernykh, Valdimir Menshov Cast: Vera Alentova, Irina Muravyova, Aleksey Batalov

The story of three women takes place in the nineteen fifties and continues twenty-three years later.  It depicts life in Russia for these three women who come to Moscow to follow their dreams. (A Soviet chick flick).  It is mainly the story of Katerina and her daughter.  The film won the Academy Award for best foreign film in 1980.

All About My Mother (Spanish-French)

Writer – Director: Pedro Almodovar  Cast: Cecilia Roth, Marisa Paredes and Candela Pena

Esteban wants to become a writer and also to discover the identity of his father.  His mother searches for his father. That is is the simplified version of the story. Almodóvar dedicates his film “To all actresses who have played actresses. To all women who act. To men who act and become women. To all the people who want to be mothers. To my mother.” It won the Academy Award  for best foreign film in 2000.

Strictly Ballroom (Australian)

Writer – Director:  Baz Luhrmann  Cast: Paul Mercurio, Tara Morice, Bill Hunter

While studying at the National Institute for Dramatic Arts in Sydney, Baz Lurhmann and friends wrote a short dramatic piece about competitive ballroom dancing. A dancer risks his career by performing an unusual routine  with a new partner at the Pan Pacific Grand Prix Dancing Championship.  The characters are great and if you are a Dancing with The Stars fan this is a must see. It is being made into a musical in Sydney.

.Life Is Beautiful (Italy)

Director: Roberto Benigni  Writers: Vincenzo Cerami and Roberto Benigni Cast: Roberto Benigni, Nicoletta Braschi

A Jewish man uses his humor and imagination to get the girl and later to protect his son in a Nazi concentration camp during World War two.  It won the Academy Award for best foreign film in 1999.  Robert Benigni won the Best Actor award that year.

City of God (Brazil)

Directors: Fernando Meirelles, Katia Lund   Writers: Paulo Lins, Braulio Mantovani   Cast: Alexandre Rodrigues, Matheus Nachtergaele and Leandro Firmino

This is a story about two boys growing up in a favela (slum) of Rio de Janeiro.  They take different paths: one becomes a photographer, the other a drug dealer. The story is based on real events. It is about the growth of organized crime in the Cidade de Deus (city of God) suburb of Rio de Janeiro. Many of the actors are residents of the favelas. “If you run, the beast catches; if you stay, the beast eats”.

Goodbye Lenin (Germany)

Director:  Wolfgang  Becker Writer: Bernd Lichtenberg, Wolfgang Becker Cast: Daniel Bruhl, Katrin Sab, Chulpan  Khamatova

In 1990, to protect his fragile mother from a fatal shock after a long coma, a young man must keep her from learning that her beloved nation of Communist  East Germany as she knew it has disappeared.

Y Tu Mama Tambien (Mexico)

Director: Alfonso Cuaron  Writers: Alfonso Cuaron and Carlos Cuaron  Cast: Maribel Verdu, Gael Garcia Bernal, Ana Lopez

In Mexico, two teenage boys and an attractive older woman embark on a road trip ( yes, a Mexican road movie)  and learn a thing or two about life, friendship, sex, and each other.  It also depicts the economic- political scene of Mexico at that time.

Together (China)

Director: Kaige Chen  Writers: Kaige Chen, Xiao Lu Xue  Cast: Yun Tang, Peige Liu and Hong Chen

A violin prodigy and his father from a poor peasant  family travel to Beijing, where the father seeks the means to his son’s success while the son struggles to accept the path laid before him. He learns  not only music but what is important in life.

The Untouchables ( France)

Writer -Directors:  Olivier Nakache and Eric Toledano  Cast: Francois Cluzet, Omar Sy, Anne Le Ny, Audrey Fleurot, Clotilde Mollet

The Untouchables is a story of a rich quadriplegic, his daughter and staff and what happens to them all when he hires a caretaker from a Paris ghetto. It is corny, calculating and commercial and I loved every minute of it.

The Wind Will Carry Us ( Iran)

Writer Director  Abbas Kiarostami Cast:Behzad Dorani, Noghre Asadi and Roushan Karam

“The Wind Will Carry Us is a film about nothing and everything—life, death, the quality of light on dusty hills.”

A city engineer comes to a rural village in Iran to keep vigil for a dying relative. In the meanwhile the film follows his efforts to fit in with the local community and how he changes his own attitudes as a result.  The villagers are played by real people in the village. It is a very hard film to describe because it is so visual that you are in it and so symbolic and poetic that you are always searching for the deeper meaning.

The Class  (France)

Director: Laurent Cantet  Writers: Laurent Cantet, Robin Campillo  Cast: Francois Begaudeau, Agame Malembo-Emene and Angelica Sancio

The film is based on the semi autobiographical novel by Francois Begaudeau  who plays himself as he negotiates a year with his racially mixed students from a tough Parisian neighborhood. The camera never leaves the school, so we see what he saw as a teacher.

Salaam Bombay (India)

Director: Mira Nair  Writers: Mira Nair, Soona Taraporevala  Cast: Shafiq Syed,Hansa Vithal, Chanda Sharma

Salaam Bombay chronicles the life of street children in Bombay.  The children are played by the real street children. It centers around the story of Krishna who has been abandoned by his mother and is trying to make enough money to return. It is another one of my most  favorite films.

Shall We Dance? ( Japanese)

Writer-Director: Masayuki Suo   Cast: Koji Yakusho, Tamiyo Kusakari, Naoto Takenaka

A successful but unhappy Japanese accountant finds the missing passion in his life when he begins to secretly take ballroom dance lessons. There was an American remake of the film in 2004 with Richard Gere and Jennifer Lopez but it was not  good. The Japanese version is very good.

The Lady (France)

Director: Luc Besson  Writer: Rebecca Frayn  Cast: Michelle Yeoh, David Thewlis, Jonathan Raggett

The film is the story of Aung San Suu Kyi as she becomes the core of Burma’s democracy movement, and her relationship with her husband, writer Michael Aris. She is a real life heroine, a female fighter who uses no other weapons than her human virtues. She was the first woman to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in Asia. She could not be there to accept because she was under house arrest in Burma (Myanmar) for over a decade. Michelle Yeoh who plays her in the film is not allowed into Burma. It is an important movie, especially if you don’t know much about her.

Let me know about some of your favorite films.

also see favorite foreign documentary films.

https://havefunflysafe.wordpress.com/2012/12/05/favorite-foreign-documentary-films/

Fly Safe,

JAZ