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Erica arranged a dinner and movie night last night, then got herself stuck in traffic on the five and was among the last to arrive, not making it until after-movie coffee.

The restaurant was Maggiano's, my first time at that restaurant. The server looked like he was in high school, but that's probably just me getting old. The restaurant served Italian fare in ample portions done quite well. It was a little pricey (around $15-30 per plate before drinks and sides) but I enjoyed it. A big plus for me was that the layout was designed to dampen sound. To many of the new generation restaurants are actually aiming for echoes to make a place seem "lively" -- no thanks.

We then went to see RENT. I haven't seen the musical so I cannot comment on how faithful they were to it. My initial reaction to the movie was that the singing was strong, the dancing was competent, and the cinematography was marginal. The story is basically a modernization of Puccini's La Boheme (or at least Murger's). Aids takes the place of consumption; the playwright becomes a documentary film artist; the oppressive landlord is a developer who wants to turn some squatter space into a cyber cafe.

Early in the film there is the line "From now on I shoot without a script..." and that pretty much sums up the continuity for me. Character mood jumps between extremes on the slightest provocation or none at all. I'm sure the goal was "tempestuous" but it comes up more like a mass case of rapid cycling bipolar.

The cast are the most attractive and healthy looking persons with AIDS you are never likely to meet. If the movie has a saving grace, they are it. The score is good but not great. The performance, especially vocally, is the one truly excellent point of the movie.

After dinner we met up with Erica at Flames and took over a booth for a couple hours. The conversation started with movie reviews and holiday stories, but then wandered its way all over the place. Definately the most enjoyable part of the evening for me. The people had so much energy and no one was bitter about anything. I'm so glad to be able to enjoy something like that without having to drift to darker topics.


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March 2013

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