in a nutshell, i liked the movie very much, not as funny as the other farrelly brothers' movies, but this one has a better message. what's the message? take your pick, beauty is only skin deep, personality over beauty, can't judge a book by its cover, etc.

the movie sends out mixed messages though. despite its good intentions, there are still plenty of fat jokes and ugly jokes. in the movie's defense though, i'd like to say that rosemary (gwyneth paltrow) sort of represents the voice of reason, the voice of maturity. the joke is hal (jack black) has been hypnotized by tony robbins and can only see a person's personality so everyone appears beautiful to him. so everytime hal goes off into his fantasy world and sees this beautiful rosemary, rosemary sort of brings everything back down to reality, because she knows the truth. the movie wants to be fat friendly and ugly friendly, but all the visions of beauty are skinny supermodel types. that is, until the end of the movie, when shallow hal is no longer shallow and accepts everything for what they really are.

if they made this movie serious, nobody would go watch it, and nobody would get the message. by hiding this serious message in a comedy though, it reaches a wider audience, and hopefully the message will get through a few people.

now i've never been much of a gwyneth paltrow fan. i figured she was one of those serious actors, and most of her movies i wouldn't want to go see anyway (other than shakespeare in love and the talented mr.ripley), but i really liked her in shallow hal, and i don't remember her ever looking so good (i guess she's not so bad when she's not wearing her period costumes). it's kind of weird, but since she's only virtually pretty but actually fat in the movie, it illicted some weird responses from the theatre audience. when rosemary and hal first kiss, there were a few groans from the less mature members of the audience who harbor some misguided animosity towards overweight people, even though on camera, it's the beautiful fantasy rosemary that's kissing hal, not the real rosemary.

jack black, he's so funny, but in this movie his comedy is kind of subdued. he's know for his manic energy, but he has to keep it in check because he sort of plays the straight guy in the film, and people wouldn't believe all the things he can supposedly do in the movie if he was too nutty. there were a few scenes that showcased his comedic forte, but for the most part, it's a very lowkey performance.

although the movie ends on a high note, the final steps it takes to get there are quite painful. when mauricio (jason alexander) gets hal to fall out of his hypnotic trance, i just wanted to kill him. spoiler alert! and the scene in the restaurant where rosemary sees hal with jill and then when she comes out from the bathroom hal totally walks by her because he doesn't recognize the fat rosemary, wow, that just broke my heart!

all and all, an enjoyable movie. if you're looking for nonstop laughter, this movie might miss the mark, but you're guaranteed to still get at a few good laughs out of it. what's more important about the movie is the message it's trying to convey.

i woke up this saturday morning at 10am (after having gone to bed last night at 6am) and headed into boston to meet julie at the isabella stewart gardner museum. feeling hungry, i got myself a plain bagel with creme cheese as well as a medium coffee (creme and sugar). i put the creme cheese onto the bagel at the station, and then ate the bagel on the train ride to park street. from park street i took the e train to the museum of fine art stop with cup of hot coffee in hand. the train was mostly full of tourists here in town for the weekend, and almost everyone got off when we arrived at the museum stop. i got there early, so i wandered around a little bit, trying to find a pay phone to call julie to let her know that i had already arrived. i went to the museum of fine art school to use the bathroom (clean bathroom, very warm, with lots of interesting graffiti in the stalls) and then afterwards called julie on her cellphone (the payphone at the mfa school seemed to have been fixed, meaning, after i made the call, it returned my change). "where are you?" i asked. "in front of the isabella stewart museum. where are you?" julie replied. "i'm at the museum of fine art school! i'll be right there in a minute!" i responded back. with that i left the school and ran across several lanes of busy street to the isgm.

julie had some isgm museum passes so we were able to get in for free. this was my second visit to the isgm. funny, didn't remember there were so many rules. i knew the thing about no photography. whether this was the case before the incident, i don't know, i've never been here prior to the art heist. it kind of sucks because it's so beautiful inside and just naturally ripe for phototaking. what i didn't know was the rule about no bags in the museum. i guess it makes sense, with so many art pieces out in the open, they don't want anyone swiping something. julie and i got chastised for entering the grass room when there's a maximum capacity of 5 people at a time. the guard also gave julie a stern warning when her cell phone went off in the museum (her mother called). yet another guard told me i couldn't use a pen in the museum (i was scribbling some notes into my museum map) but could get a pencil from the info desk.

my main interest in coming to the isgm were the grass photos on display. these artists essentially use large panes of special grass grown on a clay mixture as photography paper and expose photos on them based on the theory that dark parts of the photo will leave the grass less green versus light parts. it's really interesting, this fusion of photography as an art form and horticulture. the principle is so simple, i'm surprised nobody else has ever done something like this before. they project the image onto the grass for something like 12 hours a day for a period of 3 weeks. after that time, the grass will have grown sufficiently and in varying concentrations of darks and lights to form an image on the canvas. they didn't have very many pieces in the museum, but i was more fascinated with the actual technique behind the photos rather than the photos themselves. the artists who did them were on hand to talk briefly about their work, so we got a little bit more detail than just reading the blurbs on display. they said things like "when we first experimented with grass in college," which made me snicker because i'm immature. they also talked about growing pieces of art, which was kind of trippy.

the rest of the museum, not much to say. i personally am not a big fan of the isgm. for my money, i prefer the museum of fine art, a more traditional art museum, with cultural art artifacts (egyptians, greco-roman, chinese, japanese) and paintings from various time periods. plus, i can't be sure, but i think the mfa lets you take photos. still, art is art, and if you like it, you can find interesting things in all art museums, and this was no exception. i personally like to examine a painting or a piece of art and find that one little quirky detail that normally would get ignored. maybe the artist put something weird in the painting, maybe one of the people is doing something special, maybe a strange pose, a different style, a mistake, anything. i also like to find the punchline of a painting, that one thing you can say about it that will make it into a funny joke.

we finished touring the museum in almost exactly two hours, including browsing the gift store, and me using the exceptionally clean museum bathroom. "i'm starving," julie said to me. that was our cue to find food. i picked up my bag and coat and we left the museum on a trip back to davis square to this tibetan restaurant out of teele square. when we got outside, julie was finally able to call back her mother (who wasn't there) but not before accidently calling two wrong people. while waiting for the green line to come, julie couldn't withstand her hunger anymore and went across the street to buy a large pretzel, which she completely devoured before the train even came.

at davis square, julie unlocked her bike that she had parked at the station earlier. we went to teele square just a short distance away, me walking, julie riding. when we got the tibetan restaurant, we found out it was closed due to winter hours, and won't be open until 5pm, about 2 hours away. another time perhaps then, it just wasn't meant to be for today! i'm curious to try tibetan food. my impression of tibetan cuisine is mountain food, all bland and simple, eating things like bread and beans and drinking horse milk. anyway, so we went back to davis square and went to this relatively new indian restaurant (new for me, i didn't even know it was there) called diva. funny, you'd think a restaurant called diva would be a transvestite bar.

so diva it was, very nice food. a little bit pricey (dishes average $12-13), but i didn't mind pay a little more, the food was definitely worth it, the ambiance and interior decoration was quite attractive as well. the menus came in these metal book jackets. the glasses were these blue wine goblets. there's a glass booth at the back of the restaurant where you can watch the chef make the bread fresh for you. an elegant place, not too many people around late afternoon, so everything had this lazy relaxed fog around it. indian music was also being played inside the restaurant, a little touch of the exotic. i ordered the spicy lamb vindaloo, julie had something that looked like the indian version of chicken crepe, and we both had a mango lassi.


at the bar



after lunch-dinner (we both grabbed a spoonful of fennel seeds by the front door), julie and i parted ways by the davis square t station. she said something about going home and sleeping, i said something about going home and preparing for the movies.

i got home, but a few hours later i was back out the door. i drove to dan's place to pick him up. he had already bought our tickets to shallow hal online. i first drove him to a liquor store to pick up some booze and then we drove to fenway 13, where we parked the car in the poorly designed parking garage, got our tickets from the online ticket vending machine, and went in to see the movie. the movie was great, not nearly as funny as the farrelly brother's past works, but a more socially important message. never was a big fan of gwyneth paltrow, but she totally won me over in this movie. a more in-depth review of the film is forthcoming.