Watch Out for Snakes!

Casey Affleck's out here somewhereIndian movie, not so great. But Indian Canyons — now, that was something.

If one is very lucky, FIPRESCI jury duty isn’t all movies and lattes; sometimes, one gets to experience a little of the host city beyond its megaplexes and coffee shops. There won’t be any of that tomorrow or Tuesday, but today our gracious jury wrangler took us out to the wilds for a mile-long hike along the foot trail through Andreas Canyon.

(Well, all of us except for one member who’s recuperating from a back injury, and really wouldn’t have been up for scuttling over rock outcroppings for an hour and a half. But the rest of us managed.)

I’ve been out to California a few times before, but never had the experience of going out to the raw earth … there’s nothing like this in L.A. or San Francisco, and Santa Barbara, on its wide, flat mesa, didn’t offer much in the way of angled hiking.

This, though … this was the West, or at least the West the way it was in every cowboy movie I saw as a kid — brush and cactus and sagebrush and sawgrass, all surrounded by magnificent rock formations and dotted with holes where the rattlers have made their burrows. And every ten minutes, all the minor struggling was rewarded with another gorgeous vista.

I’m not an outdoorsy guy. But this has been the highlight of my trip so far. After this, it seems almost wasteful to spend so much time indoors, watching movies and drinking coffee.

That said, it’s been pretty good coffee. And tonight’s party is at an Italian restaurant, which seems like a very good idea: All that walking can give a dude a powerful thirst.

I’ll do my best to strike a balance, somehow. And I’ll keep you posted.

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