six word story no. 176

In reality, bats ran the belfry.

Brought to you with a vaguely weaponized codpiece by Journaling as Sacred Practice: An Act of Extreme Bravery. Available now on Amazon.

so long 2015

Before setting intentions for what lies ahead, we always like to take a minute to reflect.


Not only is his book The Four Hour Workweek one of my personal favorites, this guy is wicked smart! Happy Movie Friday!

art meets ocean

Sometimes we just want to watch a good movie. And a short movie is better than no movie at all. PS: No models were actually harmed in the making of this film. Cheers.

The Grand Budapest Hotel



The Grand Budapest Hotel, directed by Wes Anderson is chock full of Hollywood A-listers in both cameo and substantial roles and with Anderson at the helm, the result is a film so quirky and brilliant that you’ll want to see it more than once. The Grand Budapest Hotel is Anderson’s best film to date, a wry, exceptionally well-structured 5-act Shakespearean dramedy. If you liked any of Anderson’s prior movies, The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, The Royal Tenenbaums, or The Darjeeling Limited, to name a few, then The Grand Budapest Hotel will satisfy you in a way that these previous gems just narrowly missed.

First there’s the superb M. Gustave (Ralph Fiennes), impeccably dressed with such dizzying attention to detail that Coco Chanel would be jealous. Gustave runs the GBH, set amid a coniferous-lined mountainside, always gorgeously blanketed with a light dusting of snow, so breathtakingly beautiful it looks like CGI. Anderson used more than one locale for the filming to get just the right feel for the distinguished and sumptuous backdrop to the movie. At the GBH, Gustave not only runs a tight, elegantly appointed ship, he has a cadre of patrons, all older, almost all female, who return to the GBH to partake of the amenities that only M. Gustave can provide. The young Zero Moustafa (Tony Revolori), so called, he says, because after losing his family and home in the war — the movie is sandwiched between the first and second World Wars — he is nothing and has no one. Zero is hired by M. Gustave to maintain a specific role at the hotel, the actual description of which is unclear for while Gustave has a list of “don’ts”, it seems the lobby boy’s biggest “do” is to be Gustave’s personal assistant. Throughout the movie, we see Zero’s allegiance to Gustave unfold and grow in a variety of wry and often hilarious ways.

The entire story is told in flashback by the enigmatic owner of the hotel, a much older Zero (F. Murray Abraham), to the Young Writer (Jude Law), who is a patron of the current GBH. With it’s halcyon days behind it, a skeleton crew running it, and very few guests, the GBH is still going, maybe not strong, but going. Abraham invites Law to join him for dinner and over many courses, unravels the beguiling history behind the hotel. After one of Gustave’s favored patrons, Madame D. (a sublime Tilda Swinton) is murdered, Gustave travels to Madame D’s side because, “she needs me,” meaning, he needs to make sure 1) she looks good and 2) to find out whether she left him a little something in her will. At the reading, the lawyer, Deputy Kovacs (Jeff Goldblum) announces to the family that Madame D. has left Gustave the priceless painting, “Boy With Apple” which, according to Gustave, they had admired together many times. Chaos ensues as the heirs, led by Madame D’s son, Dmitri (Adrien Brody) along with his henchman, Jopling (Willem Dafoe), try to reclaim what they believe is rightfully the family’s. The film is full of fabulously quirky observations such as when Gustave views the dead body of Madame D, examines her nail polish and expresses approval for the new color because even in death, style and elegance are paramount.

My favorite line in the movie is Gustave’s, spoken during a moment when he and the Lobby Boy are trying to puzzle out the mystery behind the dilemma Gustave finds himself in:

“The plot thickens, as they say. Why, by the way? Is it a soup metaphor?”

I absolutely will not tell you what mess they are in as the film is all to methodical to spoil, but I will say that I frequently laughed out loud throughout the movie. Anderson’s usual themes of abandonment, trouble with authority, and overarching loyalty in the face of adversity are all present. The cast goes on and on: Harvey Keitel, Ed Norton, Jason Schwartzman, Owen Wilson, Bill Murray, and a host of others makes this film feel like summer camp for A-Listers The Grand Budapest Hotel is not for everyone. My mother thought it was weird, but she’s 80 and subtle, facetious humor is often lost on her. Me, I thought it was brilliant.

Pam Lazos  5.6.14

high drama indie



The Secret Life of Walter Mitty is the movie I longed for all year without even knowing it.  It may be my favorite movie of 2013, not because of the high drama, indie chic, nail-biting tension, or classic one-liners, but for unraveling that tight knot inside my heart that I’d been carrying so long I no longer noticed its existence.  Directed by Ben Stiller and based on a short story by James Thurber, the movie tells the story of Walter Mitty (Ben Stiller), an average guy doing a more than average job at Life Magazine, sadly on the verge of putting out its last issue.  Downsizing sucks, but that’s not Walter’s real problem.  His real problem is all those unrealized dreams that have been poking at him for years, adamant and demanding as they push to the surface, forcing him into a mini coma of a daydream.  Walter’s boss, Ted Hendricks (Adam Scott), a know-it-all nothing of a man laughs at him, not behind his back, but square in the face when this occurs.  Walter cares, but beyond daydreams of smashing Ted’s face in, does nothing.  It’s not that Walter’s a loser.  He’s any one of us who caught a bad break and once there, couldn’t make his way to a good one.

Walter’s bad break happened at 17 when his father died, forcing the former mohawk-wearing Walter had to stash his dreams to become the Man of the House for his mom and sister.  Years later, in his job as a “negative assets manager” Walter’s put out some of the greatest magazine covers the world has seen, thanks to the work of colleague and photographer Sean O’Connell (Sean Penn), without ever leaving the dark room.  O’Connell sends Walter what he calls possibly the best picture he’s ever taken for the final cover of Life as a gesture of their long productive working years together, along with a wallet engraved with Life’s motto: “To see the world, things dangerous to come to, to see behind walls, draw closer, to find each other and to feel. That is the purpose of life.” Walter is touched, but at a loss since the best picture ever, negative #25, is missing upon arrival.

When Walter’s mother, Edna (Shirley MacLaine) moves, and Walter’s sister, Odessa (Kathryn Hahn) finds Walter’s long-forgotten backpack along with a new travel journal, a long-lost present from Walter’s father, something infinitesimal shakes loose in Walter and he sets out in search of O’Connell to find what was lost — ostensibly negative #25, but we all know what Walter’s really looking for.  O’Connell proves a tough guy to find; he shoots photos of snow leopards in the Himalayas and straps himself to the tops of biplanes to get the volcano shot, all heady stuff for the risk averse Walter.  Thankfully, Walter is spurred in sideways fashion by co-worker and possible love interest, Cheryl Melhoff (Kristin Wiig), who gives Walter lift just being in the same room as he.  Soon, Walter is traversing some of the world’s most satisfyingly brilliant places while Life’s motto is displayed in snippets across the backdrop.  When Walter does find O’Connell, it’s worth the wait. “Beautiful things don’t seek attention,” O’Connell says as he watches the snow leopard.

In today’s world of reality T.V. and endless soundbites where everyone jockeys for attention, I need to believe O’Connell.  See this movie if you feel stuck.  See this movie if you have been toying with the idea of stepping outside preconceived notions of yourself.  See this movie if you want the world as your backdrop to expanding horizons, or if you just want to revel in the wonder of an ordinary person doing extraordinary things even if no one sees him doing them.  See this movie.

–Pam Lazos