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Mother’s Velvet Lounge Presents: The Andromeda Strain

The Andromeda Strain (1971)

On Wednesday, January 3rd, we continue our science fiction cinema series at Mother’s Velvet Lounge presenting Robert Wise’s brilliant 1971 film adaptation of Micheal Crichton’s The Andromeda Strain, staring Arthur Hill, James Olson, Kate Reid and David Wayne.

While recovering the space probe, “Scoop” in the tiny New Mexico burgh of Piedmont, two service men discover that the entire population of the town appears to have perished, and within minutes of exposure the two men themselves succumb. A crack team of scientists led by  Bacteriologist, Dr. Jeremy Stone (Arthur Hill) is assembled to collect the probe and secret it away to a high tech underground lab facility called Wildfire to determine the nature of the alien organism and to find a means of preventing a possible viral outbreak. To complicate matters, medical expert and surgeon, Dr. Mark Hall (James Olsen) has to determine the common factor shared by the only two survivors of the initial exposure: a six month old infant and a elderly Sterno addict. Rounding out the team are Pathologist Dr Charles Dutton (David Wayne) and Microbiologist Dr. Ruth Levitt (Kate Reid).
 
The Andromeda Strain is likely the premier example of “hard” science fiction with a capitol “H”. That is, a narrative anchored in known science and depicting technology that’s within reach of current state of the art. Though by the age of 28, Michael Crichton had written about five novels under different pseudonyms, this was the first one which he published under his actual name. It proved an instant best seller, but even more striking it established a new genre of literature that combined meticulously researched science with rousing pulse pounding action and adventure.
For the second time in this year’s screenings of science fiction classics we turn to a film directed by the great Robert Wise (having screened The Day The Earth Stood Still in October), a chameleon like director whose approach was to always place the requirements of the narrative above any auteur-driven stylistic flourishes. In the case of this film he convincingly represents a scientific community and a technological environment free of most of the trappings of Hollywood tradition.
 
A huge debt is owed to the work of equally versatile production designer Boris Levin, with whom Wise worked on West Side StoryThe Sound of Music and The Sand Pebbles. Levin’s design for the Wildfire complex with its color coded levels and laser protected central shaft is as vital a player in the film as any of the cast members. Visual effects pioneer, Douglas Trumbull, who three years earlier was instrumental in changing the future of cinema with his work on 2001: A Space Odyssey created a series of seamless visuals for this film including 3D computer graphics (all analogue, as the technology didn’t even exist at the time) and entirely convincing macro-photography.
Also of note is the unique electronic score by Gil Melle. Using a variety of analogue synthesizers and electronic instrumentation he created a soundscape for the film that blurs the boundaries between dramatic score and technological sound effects.
                     
The excitement begins at 6:30 when you will enjoy one of the best dinners in town, followed by the screening at 7:00.  Hope to see you there! 
Mother’s is located at 212 SW Stark.

Mother’s Velvet Lounge presents The Incredible Shrinking Man (1957)

The Incredible Shrinking Man (1957)


On Wednesday, November 8th, we continue our science fiction cinema series at Mother’s Velvet Lounge when we present the classic Jack Arnold directed thriller, The Incredible Shrinking Man starring Grant Williams and adapted by Richard Matheson from his novel.

 
While vacationing on a boat in placid Caribbean waters, Scott Carey is exposed to a cloud of mysterious metallic dust particles. Upon his return home he is accidentally sprayed with a pesticide, and soon thereafter begins to notice that he is loosing weight and that none of his clothes fit. Initially thinking little of the change, he eventually realizes that he is loosing height as well. His condition proves utterly confounding to medical science, and Scott and his caring wife, Louise have to face the possibility that he might live the remainder of his adult life as a midget. His diminishing size and sense of helplessness begins to take a toll on his psyche and his anger begins to manifest itself as a kind of tyranny. 
But being stared at and treated as a freak are the least of the terrors fate has in store for him…
     
The Incredible Shrinking Man is, to my mind, the most poignant science fiction film from the 1950’s in that the horror facing its Everyman protagonist comes not from outer space, the center of the earth, or the uncharted depths of the ocean. It isn’t a giant insect mutated by radiation or a dinosaur awoken from it slumber by a mining operation. It is his own identity in the face of a modern world where humanity is dwarfed by the end product of its own industry.
 
Richard Matheson’s screenplay was adapted from his novel, “The Shrinking Man”, with the hyperbolic “Incredible” added to the film’s title as a marketing concession. The novel’s title, with the absent adjective is indicative of the philosophical thrust of Matheson’s story rather than a sensationalistic one, and true to the spirit of much of his oeuvre which included I Am LegionDuelSomewhere In Timeand What Dreams May Come. His are stories of ordinary people under extraordinary circumstances and serve as powerful allegories for the human condition. His teleplays for the original The Twilight Zone series are among the most memorable and include Nightmare at 20,000 FeetThe Invaders, and Third From the Sun.

Jack Arnold might be regarded as one of the first “genre” directors having helmed such classics as It Came From Outer SpaceCreature From The Black Lagoon and Tarantula (one of the other films he directed that dealt with oversized arachnids). His style here is solid and well grounded, and allows Matheson’s script to flourish. Arnold was also very adept at working with a visual effects heavy production like this and for the era, the photographic effects were far above par. Also impressive was the work of the art directing duo of Robert Clatworthy and Alexander Golitzen (Touch of Evil), whose use of over scaled sets and props is simply mind boggling.
      
The excitement begins at 6:30 when you will enjoy one of the best dinners in town, followed by the screening at 7:00.  Hope to see you there! 
Mother’s is located at 212 SW Stark

Best of Portland!

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Mother’s Bistro & Bar wins Best of Portland!
Our very own Chef Lisa Schroeder was voted BEST CHEF in “Willamette Week’s” readers poll and Mother’s Bistro & Bar won BEST OMELET for the second year in a row! Thanks to all who voted for us!!!

Portland Dining Month

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Starting on Tuesday, join us at Mother’s Bistro as we participate in Portland Dining Month! We are offering one of the most inclusive dining deals offered in the city. 3 courses for only $29!!

Activating Happy

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When I think about my mother, I find myself sitting around a table filled to the brim with homemade, scrumptious food. She was an extraordinary cook. At the time, I probably took it for granted, but I always felt safe and loved around the dinner table. She told me the most important ingredient she added to every dish was “love.” I suppose that’s why it was so delicious.

Several years ago, I had the good fortune of meeting Lisa Schroeder, world-renowned award-winning executive chef and owner of Mother’s Bistro & Bar.

Lisa’s face lights up when she talks about two things (besides her grandchildren): food, the taste sensations, textures, and the love she infuses into every bite, AND, the importance of following your passion!

Lisa learned from personal experience what it’s like to work 9-5 in a job that was unfulfilling. She was eventually laid off and chose that opportunity to follow an internal burning desire to go to culinary school. The first day of class, in the kitchen, she knew she had found her way home.

I’m thrilled Lisa will be sharing her inspiring personal story with us at Activating Happy

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You will learn how the “experience” of food is something to be embraced and enjoyed with great pleasure. And, she will share the importance of taking control of your life, your future and your happiness.

And, that is good food for your brain.

Bon appetit,
Sandi Serling
Creator/Founder
Activating Happy

Mother’s Velvet Lounge Presents “Things to Come”

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Please Note: While normally We screen Movies At Mother’s on the 1st Wednesday of the month, I will be out of town that week in September, so our screening will happen instead on September 9th.

Also, I encourage anyone who is interested in visiting the blog I have been building charting the history of the screenings at Mother’s. We’ve been doing these events for nearly 10 years now and have shown somewhere in the neighborhood of 70 films during that time. The blog currently covers the first three years of Movies At Mother’s, but over the next few months I hope to have the whole history up.

Things To Come (1936)

On Wednesday, September 9th, We begin our science fiction cinema series at Mother’s Velvet Lounge with H.G. Wells’ visionary 1936 prophecy of the century to come, Things to Come, directed by William Cameron Menzies and starring Raymond Massey, Sir Ralph Richardson and Sir Cedric Hardwicke.

Futurist, historian, philosopher and utopianist, H.G. Welles rightfully stands among the most important minds of the 20th century. Along with Jules Verne he holds an indisputable place as a founding father of  science fiction and the concepts that he originated remain the foundation of contemporary literature and cinema within that idiom. Tales of invisibility, time travel, genetic mutations and alien invasions all trace their roots directly to Wells’ writing. He even foresaw aerial warfare and the invention of nuclear weapons. From a philosophical standpoint he also contemplated technology’s dual nature and the moral choices that humanity would have to confront between its promise of liberation versus its threat of annihilation.

The Alexander Korda production of Things to Come is the only motion picture in which the venerable author was ever directly involved. While his screenplay often favors characters who represent ideological positions over ones who suggest any sort of inner life, his acute vision of the future cannot help but astound the modern viewer with its poignancy.

From the first frame we understand the nature of his allegory when we are introduced to a city called Everytown, in a country (presumably Britain) on the eve of war. Keep in mind that the film was produced 3 years before Great Britain entered the second world war. Two men, John Cabal (Raymond Massey) and Pippa Passworthy (Edward Chapman) argue the costs and benefits of the world to come and we are witness to a montage of the instruments of warfare from the technology of the previous war to increasingly more advanced weapons. When the great war finally grinds to a stop in 1966, we find ourselves midst the ruins of Everytown, now a feudal territory governed over by Rudolph, a petty warlord known as The Boss (Ralph Richardson). Into this impoverished and plague infested fiefdom enters an older John Cabal, now a futuristic airman representing Wings Over The World (referenced in the titular album by Paul McCartney and Wings), a society of technocrats offering a new life to the citizens of Everytown. A life that poses no small threat to the primacy of The Boss.

William Cameron Menzies was best known as a production designer of some of cinema’s most celebrated films including Gone With The Wind, so it is no surprise that Things to Come is most notable for its design innovations and spectacular visual effects. From the machines of war; to the colossal twin fuselage Basra Bomber delivering salvos of “The Gas Of Peace”; to the gleaming underground Everytown of 2036, the film had a profound effect not only on the future design of cinema, but even of post WW2 urban planning.  Menzies, working with set designer Vincent Korda, solicited the talents of an array of Bauhaus schooled artists including none other than László Moholy Nagy (only a small portion of whose work actually never made it to the final cut), while the model work by special effects director Ned Mann’s team laid the foundation of a tradition of exquisite miniatures in British cinema that continues to this day.

The excitement begins at 7:00 when you will enjoy one of the best dinners in town, followed by the screening at 7:30.  Hope to see you there!

Mother’s is located at 212 SW Stark.

Raphael House of Portland

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Dine out on Wednesday, May 20th and support Raphael House of Portland’s life-saving domestic violence services!

More than 30 local restaurants have pledged a portion of their day’s proceeds to aid our emergency shelter and prevention programs. All you have to do is enjoy a meal – or several – at any participating business in Portland, Lake Oswego and Happy Valley.

We have a full list of eateries at https://goo.gl/e2yC0Q and a map of all the locations at https://goo.gl/mYSzHB!

Eater PDX

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Here’s a nice article @eaterpdx wrote about Chef Lisa and Mother’s 15th year anniversary!

Click HERE for the article

 

Mother’s Velvet Lounge presents “The 5000 Fingers of Dr. T”

The 5000 Fingers Of Dr. T (1953)

On Wednesday, February 4th, Movies at Mothers returns when we present a surreal journey through pre-adolescent anxiety, McCarthy era paranoia and the nuclear age, “The 5000 Fingers of Dr T”, directed by Roy Rowland and written by Theodor Geisel (better known at Dr Seuss).

Bart Collins (Tommy Rettig) lives a relatively normal suburban life with his single mother Heloise (Mary Healy), but lives in dread of his dictatorial piano instructor Dr. Terwilliker (Hans Conried), who has no patience for any of the boy’s interests that extend beyond metronome and keyboard. He gets a lot more sympathy from the handyman, Mr. Zabladowski (Peter Lind Hayes) who serves as an occasional (potential) father figure. While practicing at the piano Bart drifts to sleep and imagines a world dominated by the tyrannical music teacher, who has hypnotized Heloise into collaboration with his nefarious scheme to assemble 500 boys (hence 5000 fingers) to perform his composition on a massive, sinuous keyboard. Bart recruits Zabladowski to help him foil Dr. T’s plan and free his mother from her brainwashed servitude.

For obvious reasons The 5000 Fingers of Dr. T is generally regarded as a children’s film, but its hard to deny that it’s a singularly smart, and in many ways subversive one. Loaded with post WW2 paranoia, Seuss’ script hits a number of targets dead on, including Fascism, the fear of losing a loved one to conformist ideology and betrayal. One quickly realizes that the use of a child protagonist is an ideal vehicle to represent helplessness in the face of an oppressive social order. There is also a healthy serving of B&D, unusual for a 50’s kiddie matinee. Dr. Terwilliger not only obsesses over his monstrous piano and his plan to force every little boy to play it, but it is to the exclusion of every other instrument in the orchestra. His institute includes a dungeon, imprisoning musicians who dare to practice any other instrument.

Though certainly regarded as one of the world’s most beloved authors of children’s books, Theodor Geisel was first and foremost a satirist. Apart from writing its screenplay, Dr. Seuss also served as the film’s conceptual designer and the sets and costumes inhabiting Bart’s dream are wonderful examples of his playful use of expressionism, with numerous props and matte paintings serving to create a distinctly Seuss-ian live action world. One of the most memorable scenes takes place in the aforementioned dungeon, where a full-blown concert is performed on fanciful musical instruments by bearded and bedraggled captives. The songs, with lyrics by Seuss and music by Friedrich Hollander, include a show stopping number performed by the wonderful Hans Conried, “Dress Me Up”, as Terwilliker dons his ceremonial vestments in anticipation of the debut of his maxim opus.

The excitement begins at 6:30 when you can enjoy one of the best dinners in town, followed by the screening at 7:00 PM. Hope to see you there!

Mothers is located at 212 SW. Stark.

Mother’s Velvet Lounge presents “Funny Face” (1957)

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Funny Face (1957)

On Wednesday, January 7th, Movies at Mothers returns when we present our third film charting the extraordinary career of the great Fred Astaire, Funny Face, directed by Stanley Donen and co-starring Audrey Hepburn and Kay Thompson. Music is by George and Ira Gershwin, as well as Leonard Gershe and Roger Edens.

When a fashion shoot for Quality Magazine invades a Greenwich Village bookstore, photographer Dick Avery (Fred Astaire) takes note of the store’s Bohemian cashier, Jo Stockton (Audrey Hepburn). He recognizes in her a charm and intelligence that set her apart from the haute couture models with whom he normally works. Dick convinces Quality’s editor, Maggie Prescott (Kay Thompson) to take a chance on the girl and give him the opportunity to feature Jo in a high profile fashion shoot in Paris. Though reticent about pursuing a career as a fashion model, a profession she regards as facile and mindless, Jo jumps at the opportunity to travel to Paris in the hopes she might meet her intellectual hero, Professor Emile Flostre (Michel Auclair), founder of the philosophical school of “Empathicalism”.

Funny Face is Stanley Donen’s stylish and colorful send up of the fashion world, reveling in its most seductive qualities, while in equal measure poking fun at its inherent absurdities. Nowhere is this more exuberantly displayed than in the Gershe/Edens number “Think Pink”, where Maggie Prescott (patterned after Vogue editor Diana Vreeland), composes an editorial for Quality Magazine declaring pink as the de rigueur color for the modern woman. This number, along with several other sequences use multiple split screens to mimic the page layout format of fashion magazines of the era.

As an additional nod to the world of Haute Couture, much of Dick Avery’s photography, as well as the imagery in the opening title sequence was created by Richard Avedon, including the iconic high-contrast portrait of Audrey Hepburn that we see created before our eyes as Dick serenades Jo in the darkroom with the titular number, “Funny Face”.

Like last month’s offering of The Band Wagon, which was based on a 1932 Broadway show that featured Fred Astaire and his sister Adele, Funny Face get’s it’s title and four of its songs from a 1927 review that showcased the Astaires with music by George and Ira Gershwin. In the case of both film adaptations, the plotlines have nothing to do with the original productions, and several entirely new songs have been added.

The excitement begins at 6:30 when you can enjoy one of the best dinners in town, followed by the screening at 7:00 PM. Hope to see you there!

Mothers is located at 212 SW. Stark.

Movie Night: Metachaos & Paprika

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Metachaos(2010) / Paprika (2006)

On Wednesday, April 3rd, Movies at Mothers continues its series on “Dreams, The Subconscious and the Surreal”, with Satoshi Kon’s final film, the 2006 anime classic,Paprika, and modern Italian surrealist Alessandro Bavari’s stunning animated short, Metachaos.

 

Art derived from dreams and the subconscious is the realm the mind’s eye, and therefore a deeply subjective experience.  Animation has long proven an ideal medium to explore that landscape for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is that the invoked imagery is limited only by the imagination.  From Windsor McCay’s groundbreaking Dreams Of A Rarebit Fiend and Little Nemo In Slumberland to the Fleischer Studios’ opium fueled Betty Boop cartoons, animation has proven the ideal medium in which to represent an ever metamorphosing world and a complete rewrite of the laws of physics.  Add to that, characters who are entirely the product of their imagined worlds, dragging none of the baggage born by actors, whose familiar faces might constantly remind us of some previous performance (or worse yet, some insipid gossip or scandal).

 

The two films we present are distinctly different in tone.  Bavari’s Metachaos is an 8 1/2 minute nightmare of that rare sort that feels like a direct transmission from the REM state of a singularly troubled soul.  A cross between the painterly works of Salvador Dali and the scariest zombie film you’ve ever seen, Metachaos depicts a city composed of sterile, yet ever shifting monolithic architecture inhabited by floating and flying bodies in what might be interpreted as a state of grace.  This soon gives way to an apocalyptic industrial wasteland, its shuddering, disfigured inhabitants wracked by the torments of the damned.   Bavari’s canny computer generated black and white dystopia works so well because it is at once entirely alien yet somehow so familiar, and utterly terrifying while at the same time strangely sublime.  This copy of the film comes to us courtesy of Sig. Bavari

 

Paprika is part of the science fiction genre exploring the implications of mind probing and the potential to control people’s actions by entering and manipulating their dreams.  The obvious recent example of this would be Christopher Nolan’s Inception (Nolan has acknowledged this film’s influence on him), but the precedent includes 1984’s Dreamscape and, to a certain extent, Jean Luc Godard’s Alphaville (1965) and Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s World On A Wire (1973).  Like all of those films, Paprika begins as a straightforward industrial espionage thriller, in this case involving a device called the DC Mini which enables one to inhabit an avatar and enter another person’s dream state.  When one of the devices goes missing and a corporate bureaucrat starts losing his mind, it is apparent that someone is applying the technology towards some nefarious goal.  Dr. Chiba is a psychiatrist who can inhabit the dream world in the form of her avatar, Paprika, and she must give chase within and without various people’s psyches before the dream world and the real world begin to converge. Part sci fi thriller and part creation myth, the film’s over the top climax proves a mind-bending feast for the eye.

The excitement begins at 7:00 when you will enjoy one of the best dinners in town, followed by the screening at 7:30 PM.  Hope to see you there!

 

Mother’s is located at 212 SW Stark.

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