Archive for the ‘movies’ category

The Neighborhood

July 8, 2018

neighborhoodWhen my wife Muri and I were looking at our current house in Anaheim Hills, the owner told us it was a very friendly neighborhood that frequently had neighborhood block parties.  My Inner Curmudgeon didn’t see that as much of a reason to buy the house and I was inclined to agree.   But otherwise, the house was just what we wanted so we bought it.   Here we are, 17 years later and there hasn’t been a single block party.  The neighbors are friendly enough but not in a get-together-for-the-holidays kind of way.   Consequently, on Wednesday we were having a minor case of the All-Alone-with-Nothing-to-Do-on-the-Fourth Blues.  A movie is always a good place to escape the blues on a hot California day but, as usual, our choice was limited by the fact that we see a lot of (too many?) movies.  Limited to Jurassic Park Episode 132 or Won’t You Be My Neighbor.   Hmmm.  CGI dinosaurs or Mr. Rogers.   WYBMN had unbelievably good reviews and I’d rather have a sharp stick in the eye than another overdose of CGI, so Mr. Rogers won out.   But I have to admit, the thought of an hour and a half of Mr. Rogers gave me pause. (more…)


July 30, 2017

artsyMy wife, Muri, and I see a lot of movies.  So many, in fact that a trip to our local Redbox is almost never fruitful.  Yes, there is an occasional really-dumb science fiction flick that Muri refused to see but that’s about it.  Netflix and Amazon Prime are relegated to rerunning favorites only.   And here in the midst of summer, our prolific movie-going often leaves us little choice in the local theaters for a Date Night film.  We pretty quickly pick off the films-with-a-brain like The Big Sick, Dunkirk and Baby Driver and a fewminion high-quality animated films like Despicable Me 3 (I love minions!). It only takes a few over-blown superhero epics and space fantasies for us to have had our fill of CGI special effects and crash-bang mayhem.



March 1, 2015

spockAs I was reading the news on my Android tablet this Friday morning, a banner drifted across the top of the screen in red:  Leonard Nimoy Dies at 83.  Like many others, I’m sure, my first thought was that Spock is dead. And I wanted to write this post … with this title.  But I wondered: Is it dismissive to say goodbye to an actor in the name of his best known character rather than his real name? Perhaps,  but perhaps not. Nimoy himself was ambivalent about his identification with the half Vulcan, half human member of the crew of the Enterprise.   In 1977, Nimoy authored I Am Not Spock, in which he wrote about the rest of his life and seemed to distance himself from his alter ego.  After publishing his second autobiography, I Am Spock, he expressed regret that he wrote the first.  At any rate, I only knew Nimoy as Spock, so this is the only personal farewell I can write.  If you are interested in more about the man himself, I’d recommend the article in Variety.

A Curmudgeon at the Movies

January 25, 2015

moviestooOK.  You can’t tell my wife, Muri, this but I really like movies.   I like to let her think that we go to the moves because she enjoys them so much but it’s not true.  However, I am harder on movies than she is.  Sometimes, when my Inner Curmudgeon is on the prowl, I can be a pain-in-the-ass about movies, a real wet blanket as we are walking out of the theater.   The truth is I am almost always a little disappointed in those hyped-up films that we just have to see and often pleasantly surprised by those we see because there was nothing else around.  At this time of year in particular, it is difficult to keep my Inner Curmudgeon in check as we’re sitting in the theater.   The reason is, of course, is that this is the film awards season, and as much as I enjoy films, given a choice between watching movie types drool all over each other on an awards show and leprosy, I’ll gladly choose the latter.   For some reason, success in telling stories on the screen or pretending to be people you aren’t seems to convince film makers that they are experts in everything from politics to science to philosophy and nowhere do they display their hubris more than at the award shows.  When Muri is watching the award shows, which she loves, I am not allowed to be in the room … for my own sake and hers. So, that said, I actually like it when my opinions about the year’s films diverge from the Academy’s (yes, movie people, yours is an opinion, too, not some sort of divine insight).  And I wonder if I’m slipping a bit when we agree. (more…)

Hollywood …

March 27, 2014

 … she said she wouldn’t but she really would (to the tune of Hooray for Hollywood by Richard A. Whiting)- Anonymous comedic lyric satirist.



For as long as I can remember, when the subject of Hollywood came up, I’ve been singing this little ditty.  I have no idea where it came from.  I Googled it and came up with nothing.  I’d take credit for it (in which case I’d remove the anonymous and add brilliant to the attribution, above) but it goes back a long way, so it might have been my Dad’s.  It certainly fits within the framework of his sense of humor, most of which he passed on to me.  Whoever wrote it, it matches my attitudes about Hollywood.  I like movies, even love certain ones of them enough to watch over and over again as I blog … and I certainly admire the work of certain actors. Directors.  Cinematographers.  Etc.   But if you’ve been coming around here, you know I’d rather stick a pencil in my ear than listen to a celebrity talk about the craft.  Or watch a (self) love fest like the Academy Awards.  So when Muri and I set out yesterday to see the Hollywood Costume exhibit at the Phoenix Museum of Art, my expectations were modest.


Friday Favorites 3/14/2014

March 14, 2014

220px-AmericanGraffitiOSTIt was 1962.  My friend, Charlie, and I were leaving for college the next day.  Charlie was anxious to go, but his girlfriend, Anna, was trying to talk him out of it.  We were all headed down to Savin Rock to cruise the parking lots at Jimmie’s and Phyllis’, Charlie and Anna in his Chevy and me in my Dad’s turquoise and white Buick Special with Wolfman Jack on the radio.   I knew we’d run into Russ in his white Ford, looking for someone to race and that at some point I’d have to tell Charlie I was having second thoughts about going away to college.   Uhhhh, wait.  That would be the plot of the 1973 film, Amercan Graffitti.  It happens every time I watch it … I begin to transport the story to my hometown and populate it with my high school friends because, after all, I did graduate in 1962, the year portrayed in the film.  Fred Roos, who did the casting for the film, brilliantly chose people who looked like average high school kids instead of movie stars, and in their period outfits and hairstyles, I can see someone from my high school yearbook in every scene.   And the soundtrack, which featured 41 hits of the early sixties could just as well have been a soundtrack for my senior year.

The (Un)Lonely Guy

September 10, 2013

TSTThere was a time, before I became semi-retired, that I traveled a lot on business.  As I advanced in experience … and years … I frequently traveled alone.   I usually had lunch with customers and sometimes, one would join me for dinner.  But frequently, I was on my own in the evening.  Now, anyone who’s ever seen the restaurant scene from Steve Martin’s Lonely Guy would think twice about going to a nice restaurant alone, expense account or not.


The Looong Ranger

July 25, 2013

Spoiler Alert: There are a few spoilers in this mini-screen play in case you haven’t seen The Lone Ranger.

The scene is Disney Studios.  TJ is pitching a new movie script to Don, who has the final say in what films are produced by Disney.  They face each other across an enormous teak desk.  The script, almost three inches think, is on the desk in front of Don, who’s been leafing through some storyboards.

Don: So, TJ.  The storyboards look good but I need to have the essence of this film.   Without reading the script.  Enlighten me.
TJ: Yeah, Don, it’s a remake of a classic Western.lone ranger
Don: Like True Grit?
TJNo older.  How about The Lone Ranger?
Don: My Dad used to watch that.  He’s the masked guy, right?  Do you think the kids will go for it?  I mean, they don’t have a clue who he is.
TJ: That’s the beauty of it.  We can do whatever we want to the story and they won’t care.
Don: So who have you got in mind for the Lone Ranger?
TJ: Armie Hammer.
Don: Don’t you think he’s a little too pretty to be a cowboy? (more…)

Time Travelin’

February 20, 2013

timeIn Stephen King’s latest novel, 11/23/63, Jake Epping, a Maine school teacher from the year 2011 travels back to 1958, where he lives for five years, waiting to prevent the assassination of John F. Kennedy in Dallas.  King’s novels have become more realistic with the terror coming more from his portrayal of the build up to the assassination and the odd coincidental events that conspire to keep Jake from changing past than from chilling villains like Annie Wilkes in Misery or Jack Torrance in The Shining.  Still, there was the time travel to deal with and King did it with a time portal located in, of all places, in the pantry of a local diner.    He spends no time on how it works or why it’s there … Jake takes the trip back and we learn the rules as he goes.  This particular time portal always leads to the same time and place in Maine … and no matter how long you stay, only two minutes pass in 2011.  Perhaps because it’s Stephen King, we buy it.  But more likely, it’s because the story that develops is so good that we don’t question the science. (more…)


December 1, 2012

007Muri and I often say that when we are in Arizona, our time is not ours.   It belongs to our daughter and our grandkids.  It’s not that we’re with them all the time, just that when we’re not with them, we’re waiting to see when we will be next.   Yes, we usually manage to reserve a few evenings for Date Nights, and last week, when the kids had strep throat, we found ourselves with an extra night for the movies.  What did we see?  Bond … James Bond.  Skyfall, starring Daniel Craig as the latest incarnation of 007, is the 23rd James Bond Film.  Checking the list on Wikipedia, I found that I have seen 20 of the 23 films, which is surprising, since I haven’t cared for several of the choices of actor to play the iconic intelligence officer.   Evenconnery though he appeared in only 5 of the Bond films, if you mention 007 to someone my age, we will think Sean Connery, even though Roger Miller appeared in more films (7  during the 70s and 80s).  While Connery always gave his portrayal of Bond the light touch, Miller played it a little too much for laughs in my opinion.  I’ve never cared for Pierce Brosnan who played Bond in the 90s. (more…)