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Zia McCorgi by Cooner

"Spill it, Short Legs!"

The Journal of Zia McCorgi

12+ years
Zia McCorgi by Cooner
I have lived in Albuquerque for well over a decade. I have driven on San Mateo almost once every day since moving here. It is one of the major streets to get places. I have as such driven by 2000 Vietnamese Restraunt (and Car Emissions Testing) a LOT. I just never went in. Heck I made fun of it because emissions testing connected to a restaurant sounds like an awful idea.

Huge mistake corrected for i have tried it. Not only is 2000 on 601 San Mateo delicious and very filling but the staff is extremely personable and helpful and the price is insanely low. I LOVED it. Dang finding a fantastic new place to eat is great. But realizing I skipped it by being a snob, even while using the spot to actually test my emissions, is more then a little embarrassing. I suggest everyone who can try this spot out!

Hachi a Dog's Tale [Review]
Zia McCorgi by Cooner
Well I sat down last night with family to watch Hachi a Dog's Tale,

When people hear the term Family Film and the word Dog the mind races to a few types of tropes. This isn't surprising the Family Film by its nature has to fit very specific rolls and a wide audience so it by nature is constrained a bit. Dog films are even harder to do originally. Hachi a Dog's Tale is no exception but it does the job very well.

The Hachi story is based on the Japanese story of a dog in the early part of the 20th century who waits for over ten years at the train station for his dead master to return. It is a melancholy story and one I would not really think could work as a movie. I was even less convinced that it should be moved out of Japan. Yet there is an argument for the story being able to fit anywhere and there was a question of costs. Still it worked for me here and I think the movie was respectful of the story. Overall.

Actually this is a family film/kids film which I found refreshing compared to a lot of the recent stuff. I admit I like a lot of kid's films when i'm in the mood. There has been a trend, I feel, towards frenetic energy and the plot moving very quickly. Bright colors and a lot of stimulation of the senses at these movies. Hachi a Dog's Tale in contrast is a very subtle and muted film. The color pallet is very subdued (to better contrast with the bright orange color of the Akita and the shiba pups) as well as fit the new England setting. Rainy overcast days predominate the movie at the right times as do powdery snow filled days and warm afternoons. The characters themselves aren't overdone either. They're all subtle and muted none of them chew scenes up or even ham it up. In fact pay attention to how a lot of details and important information are said off screen in whispers. Slow hand gestures no catch phrases are used. There are heavy indications of the unspoken bonds. How every character seems to know each other from years of familiarity and being in this community. If you ever want a good example of Show Don't Tell this is it.

Richard Gere, who plays the Professor, is a decent enough sort for the role. This isn't an award winning scene but then it isn't supposed to be. He doesn't overdo it and his interactions with the dog(s) is really well played. The character is obviously someone who loves dogs and loves this dog. He plays a very important role but he doesn't dominate the screen so much as act as a presence. Similarly Joan Allen plays a pretty good part herself with careful facial expressions. She comes off as very real in the movie to me at least, though my mother disliked her intensely near the end. I blame a very poor story change. The townies and supporting actors are all done very well. We get their interactions and placement and they aren't overbearing or suffer from sidekickitis.

The most important part is of course that of Hachi and credit must be given to the trainers. They did a very good job with a difficult to train breed. Akitas are famous for their strong wills. They decided, wisely I think, that the Hachi dog would not do silly endearing tricks. He would not act up and do dances or other acts and he wouldn't talk. Instead the dog acted like a normal dog. Well beyond the waiting part but consider how WAITING isn't really something that can be called dynamic. Dogs do have facial expressions and I ntocied about 3/4 of the way through how much the movie relied on Hachi making faces (sad or happy not like silly faces but normal expressions it is a subtle trick that I think helps people understand the dog. Reading the dog's face and body a bit. There are a lot of close ups on the Dog(s) face. It is presented masterfully in that regard. Beyond that the dogs are just adorable and photogenic and are pleasing to look at. However they trained these dogs I actually became convinced how much Hachi loved the professor.

They stay fairly true to the story. Again this isn't an active story it is a slow character study and rumination on loyalty if you want an overblown description. The story stays fairly on par and presents itself not trying to build up a lot of unnecessary conflict. They actually have a very touching scene with the daughter of the Professor at one point which was expertly played. That said there were a few scenes (maybe 10 minuets all together) which i felt were wasted time and didn't contribute to the development of the characters or story. As the movie is only 90 minuets long the effect is felt. Still they wrote a strong script that was pretty tight. With one glaring exception which I felt poked a hole int he 3rd act. I didn't like that particular story choice, as it was made up whole cloth and did not fit the original story. I felt this weakened the film overall which is a shame and there did not seem to be any reason for it. They try to end the movie on as upbeat a move as possible and I think it worked.

Still the important question are did I like it? Yes
Would I watch this again? Yes
Did it provoke some emotion? Yes and I was expecting it to but it did a good job of doing it and it wasn't cheap heart string tugging.

On the normal four star scale I'd give it a three (2 1/2 for nondoglovers)

This isn't a movie trying to be an award winner or a block buster. Instead it is a very sweet slow movie. A leisurely film that I think is a nice counterpoint to a lot of the stuff out there. I'd recommend it to most people. I'm surprised it was made for direct to DVD instead of getting a theater run as I could see this being enjoyed in theaters. Still if you can pick up a copy and enjoy it.

Finally A little disclosure: I have a slight personal connection to this movie. My dog Momo (full name Rodels Momo-Chan Fahl) is from the Rodel Shibas breeder: http://www.shibas.net and the puppies used in the movie in Hachi are in fact Shiba Inus raised by her and some of her friends (because while Akitas are beautiful dogs their puppy bodies are floppy with floppy ears and oversized paws and they wanted a more photogenic puppy). This works just fine as Shibas are sometimes called miniature akitas. One of these puppies used in the film (Mariah) has grown into a beautiful young thing: http://www.shibas.net/Shibas/mariah.htm I got the movie in part because Shiba Inu's were used.