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Intellectual House o' Pancakes Webdiary

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2006-08-20 - 1:11 p.m.

I went into Little Miss Sunshine with low expectations. I assumed that a send-up of child beauty pageants would be shooting fish in a barrel and the laughs would be too easy.

However, the film really disarmed me with its sweetness (Like Gene Shalit, I laughed! I cried!) and the grotesqueness of pageants is only tangential to the main story, which unfolds as the down-at-heels Hoover family drives 7-year-old Olive to the titular competition. It's a "quest"/road movie, and though it's about believing in one's dreams, it's also about accepting and enjoying reality the way it is, pre-dream.

One of the recurring motifs here is a wonky family minivan that needs to be push-started, and once it gets going--at a pace that respects no person--everyone has to run alongside and hop in, at their own peril. The perfect metaphor for success.

Abigail Breslin, as Olive, is a real find. She is genuine and vulnerable, and plays off the adult actors (particularly my beloved Alan Arkin) very well. She and teenage Nietzsche-fan Paul Dano also have some nice moments.

The soundtrack, with original music by Mychael Danna and Devotchka, is great, and features a lovely gem from Sufjan Steven's recent out-takes album.

Yet another cool club has opened in Brooklyn, the Living Room Lounge, a spacious, comfortable place with good beers (I was won over to the wheat-beer side of things by Blue Moon with an orange wedge) and a decent-enough sound system.

Nothing about the club's exterior or interior, though, prepares you for the sophisticated beauty of the bathrooms. A club with good bathrooms is such a rare commodity in this world (Ha, no pun intended).

The Larch put on a top-notch show, bolstered perhaps by their triumphant British pub tour and the presence of a Wombat on bass, jumpin' around like a rock star! I really liked the two new songs.

Preceding them was a powerful and personal solo set by Scott Turner (as Rebel Mart), and after the Larch, The Saudi Agenda played their spirited old-school punk.

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