Day 16: Good Day


Pupusas y curtido.

As the song goes, today was a good day: I saw the critically acclaimed Selma and ate pupusas for dinner.

Selma lived up to the hype and it’s a shame that it was only nominated for two Academy Awards. David Oyelowo was mesmerizing as Martin Luther King, Jr. I came into the film thinking it would be more of a biographical movie, but as its title suggests, it focused on the Selma-to-Montgomery march for voting rights. It’s a more expansive look at the event and there were several characters involved, but it was Oyelowo’s King that tied everything together. Regardless of the snub by the Academy, it’s a worthwhile and important film.

Speaking of Oscar-worthy films, I’m falling behind in my quest to watch all 100 AFI Greatest American Films of All Time: only one seen and it’s almost three weeks into January. I wanted to pace myself with two films each week, so it looks like I’ve got some catching up to do before the end of the month.

Finally, pictured above was our dinner after the movie, from the terrific Pupuseria Dona Maria in Rancho Cucamonga, CA. It’s a humble, family-run Salvadoran restaurant that serves delicious pupusas, which are thick corn tortillas that contain various fillings. Our favorite is the pupusa revuelta; it’s filled with a tasty mixture of chicharrones and cheese. Topped with the house-made salsa and curtido (a cabbage relish), the pupusa is the perfect way to end any Friday night.


Day 9: Movie Time


93. The French Connection

As I wrote at the start of 2015, one of my goals this year is to watch all 100 of the AFI’s 100 Greatest American Films of All Time. It’s something I’ve wanted to do for awhile, but never committed to until now. I’m not watching them in any particular order, just whatever I’m in the mood for or have readily available.

Last night I fired up Netflix for the first film on my cinematic journey: William Friedkin’s The French Connection (No. 93 on the AFI list). I’d never watched the movie from beginning to end, just catching clips here and there over the years. Of course, I knew about The Chase, having seen it in various Hollywood retrospectives. It’s what everybody talks about and for good reason: it’s awesome and exciting.

The other thing that everybody talks about? Gene Hackman. He’s brilliant as Popeye Doyle and absolutely owns every scene he’s in. He’s racist, drinks too much, and obsessed with his case. Roy Scheider is solid as his partner Cloudy. Critics have raved about the chemistry between the two, but I feel like almost anyone could’ve been paired with Hackman; he’s that good.

According to film historians, the violence was cutting-edge at the time, but it’s tame by today’s standards. I loved how Friedkin went with a documentary feel to a lot of the movie. He captured a lot of the grittiness of early ’70s New York and it never felt like I was watching the action on a soundstage. I’m not sure why English subtitles weren’t added to the scenes in French; was it supposed to add mystery and intrigue? I just felt frustrated that I hadn’t done better in my college French classes.

Overall, I liked The French Connection. It’s a solid crime thriller with an anti-hero lead. Watch it for Hackman’s Oscar-winning performance and the exhilarating non-CGI car chase.

My rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars.