Archive for the ‘Movies’ category

Battered Bastards of Baseball

July 2, 2020

Well enough dancing for a while. Now, it’s back to baseball. Last night we watched a documentary called “The Battered Bastards of Baseball“. This is the documentary about an independent minor league baseball franchise called the Portland (Oregon) Mavericks.

The team was independent in that it did not have any relationship a major league team. In fact at the time, it was the only team in Minor League Baseball that was independent. The team operated in Portland from 1973-1977. Most of the team consisted of misfits and outcasts. But the people of Portland came to love the team and set attendance records for a minor league team.

Usually minor league teams are told who is on their team by the parent major league team. In this case, the Maviricks held tryouts to see who could do the job,

The team was started by Hollywood actor Bing Russell. Bing Russell was best known for playing the deputy on the TV show Bonanza and Robert on “The Magnificent Seven”. Bing was also the father of Hollywood actor Kurt Russell. Click here for his bio on IMDB.

It was an interesting story, full of interviews with Bing and Kurt Russell. There was a lot footage of games and players. The documentary runs about 1 hour and 20 minutes. It is showing on Netflix.

In the end, MLB seeing that the team was doing so well tried to buy out Bing Russell with $25,000 and replace the team with a AAA Minor League franchise. Bing took MLB to arbitration and eventually win $206,000 for the rights to running a baseball team in Portland.

Flashdance

June 30, 2020

Last night was movie night, again. This time we went back to the “dancing” theme and watched “Flashdance” starring Jennifer Beals and Michael Nouri.

This is the story of a young woman named Alex (played by Jennifer Beals) who works as a welder during the day and dances in a bar/night club in the evening. Her dream is to become a professional ballet dancer. So the manager/owner of the construction business (played by Michael Nouri) recognizes her when he sees her perform in the bar.

So it is a simple story. He meets her and tries to ask her out. She initially refuses but eventually gives in. Then he uses his contacts to facilitate getting her an audition with the local ballet organization. So she eventually does the audition and nails it. She gets the ballet gig and they live happily ever after.

So here is a little that Roger Ebert has to say about Flashdance:

I have a friend who has a simple test for a movie: Is this movie as interesting as the same things would be, happening in real life? A lot of movies aren’t, and “Flashdance” sure isn’t. If this movie had spent just a little more effort getting to know the heroine of its story, and a little less time trying to rip off “Saturday Night Fever,” it might have been a much better film.

See RogerEbert.com

So a manager/owner dating one of his employees is a BAD thing. He shouldn’t have done it and she shouldn’t have agreed to go out with him. But that would have ended the story, wouldn’t it.

So the film runs for about 1 hour 35 minutes and is rated “R” for nudity. Once she gets the ballet gig the show is done. Not much else to say. In comparison with the other “dancing” movies that we’ve seen over the past weeks, Flashdance looks decidedly light weight. We enjoyed it but not the best we’ve seen recently

The movie won the Oscar for Best Music, Original Song and had a few other Oscar nominations. The film was released in 1983. That being said, the movie has a fairly decent sound track. Click here for the Amazon entry.

So this was filmed in 1983. I was amused to see many articles of the time, like pay phones or desk phones. Like when was the last time you used a pay phone? Or not see someone with a cell phone in their hand? The film was filmed in Pittsburgh. Nothing much to say about that. Never been there. Not on my bucket list.

Back to baseball movies in a few days.

A League of Their Own

June 27, 2020

Okay, another baseball movie. Paula got her fix of dancing movies. So now we did another baseball movie. So last night we watched “A League of Their Own” starring Tom Hanks, Madonna, Geena Davis and Rosie O’Donnell

It is the story of the AAGPBL, ie the All American Girls Professional Baseball League. The league was created during WW2 to fill the need for people wanting to watch baseball games while male players were serving overseas in the armed forces. The league eventually grew to sixteen teams, The league mostly operated in the Midwest where people hungered to watch baseball games.

One of the things that caused girl’s baseball to end was the development of TV coverage of baseball games. Ie. People no longer had to go to a ball park to see a game.

Tom Hanks plays the manager Jimmy Dugan who was a former pro ball player. Slowly he manages to get his life under control and stops drinking. Indeed, many of the managers were ex-professional ball players.

So Jimmy was the manager of the Rockford Peaches. He has one of my all time favorite quotes. One of the players started crying when she was coming off the field. Jimmy says to her “There’s no crying in baseball”. This is rated #54 out of the top 100 movie quotes.

Here’s the link to the American Film Institute’s top 100 movie quote list. No. 1 on the list is “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn”.

Field of Dreams

June 25, 2020

So last night I was thinking about how I was missing baseball. So we figured that the next best thing would be a movie about baseball. There are plenty of “Baseball” movies. So we decided to start off with “Field of Dreams” starring Kevin Costner. The film was released in 1989.

We’ll probably watch a few more baseball movies during the next couple of weeks before the 2020 baseball season starts on July 24.

The 1919 Chicago White Sox were significant in that eight members of the team were accused of accepting bribes to throw the 1919 World Series to the Cincinnati Reds. The occasion has been known as the “Chicago Black Sox” scandal.

So here is the story line. An Iowa farmer (Ray Kinsella, played by Costner) has a dream that he interprets to mean that he should build a baseball park on his corn field. Then the 1919 Chicago White Sox show up to play in the newly built park.

The players wander in from the corn field beyond left field area in the ball park. Ray Kinsella is nagged by his brother-in-law (Mark) to stop the lunacy. Ray stubbornly refuses to give it up.

The movie received three Oscar nominations but no wins. Nominated for Best Picture, Best Writing (screenplay based on another medium (book) and Best Music.

We watched the film on Amazon Prime.

Dances with Wolves

June 23, 2020

Last night we decided to catch up on some some movies that we’d seen a long time ago. We decided to watch “Dances with Wolves” starring Kevin Costner and Mary McDowell. This movie was released in 1990. It almost swept the Oscars that year, winning almost every award except for Best Actor and Actress.

One of the reasons that we decided to watch “Dances” was that we had plenty of time. The film runs a little over 3 hours and we had sat down to watch just a little after 8 PM. That’s 3 hours with no intermission. Luckily, we could pause the picture while we took bathroom breaks. When we watched Ben Hur last week, there was an actual intermission. With Wolves, no intermission. You have to make your own intermission.

So we got a new 43” TV last week that has built in ROKU support. That makes it easier to select any of the many streaming services. It’s so much nicer to watch the movie on a large screen. It’s not like a real theater, but it’s better than small screens.

One of the shows we are anxiously awaiting is “Hamilton” which will be July 3 on Disney +. Click here for the trailer. We actually had tickets to see Hamilton in LA in June, but got cancelled due to the COVID-19. This will be the next best thing.

So the story goes as follows. Lt. John Dunbar recovers from a leg wound in a battle in the Civil War. He then leads a charge that wins the skirmish. He is offered any post that he would like and he chooses to go a lonely outpost in the western wilderness.

Then he meets up with the local Sioux tribe and manages to make friends with them. And eventually is treated as a member of the tribe.

This movie was considered a personal triumph for Kevin Costner. We hope to see him again in an earlier film of his, “Field of Dreams

Then he discovers a white woman who was captured by the tribe when she was a young girl. The woman (”Stand with Fists”) becomes the avenue for Dunbar to learn the Sioux language and eventually become Dunbar’s love interest. What is a movie without love and sex?

So it’s streaming on Amazon Prime. Go watch.

Laurel Canyon

June 14, 2020

So we heard about a new documentary the other day titled “Laurel Canyon” on Epix. Epix is a streaming tv channel that is connected to cable tv services. ie. You need to be a cable customer to get Epix.

Laurel Canyon is located north of Hollywood along Laurel Canyon Blvd. in the Hollywood Hills. It is a nice secluded area with lots of trees and greenery.

First, I had never heard of the streaming channel called “Epix”. So I had to see if our Roku box could get it. It does, though it took some doing to get it enabled.

“Laurel Canyon” is a two-part documentary about a neighborhood in Los Angeles of the same name. Laurel Canyon is located just north of Hollywood off of Laurel Canyon Blvd.. It happens to be an area where several recording artists took up residence in the late 60’s/early 70’s. Here is a map:

Episode 1 covers the bands “The Doors”, “Crosby Stills and Nash”, Joni Mitchell, “The Birds”, “Buffalo Springfield”, Frank Zappa (Mothers of invention), “The Monkees”,etc. I loved the music.

Episode 2 adds stories about Jackson Brown, The Eagles and more. It talks about how the various bands grew to be major stars such that they could no longer perform at Hollywood venues like The Troubador or Whiskey-a-Go Go. Too many fans.

Then the show talks about the eventual decline of the groups. First came the death of Jim Morrison in 1971 in Paris (cause unknown), then the death of Mama Cass Eliot in 1974 (due to heart failure). Of course, heavy heroin use didn’t help much.

I’ve got my playlist on my iPhone set for the next month. Such a short time but a huge amount of music.

Ben Hur

June 3, 2020

So last week Ben Hur was mentioned at our weekly Bible study as an example of adult adoption. We were discussing the idea of Jesus being the adopted son of Joseph, a carpenter in Nazareth.

So we decided to watch the movie “Ben Hur” this week. The movie was released in early 1960. It is the story of Judah Ben Hur. The film runs about 3 hr and 45 minutes, so we decided to watch it over two days. Indeed there is an intermission half way. You don’t see that in films anymore. So we watched it in two sessions.

The movie is available to rent/buy from Amazon Prime streaming video. Click here for the Amazon Prime site.

“Ben Hur” won 11 Oscars, including Best Actor, Best Actor and Best Director. The movie stars Charlotte Heston, Jack Hawkins and Stephen Boyd. The movie was directed by William Wyler.

The movie starts with a parade of Romans bringing the new Roman governor to Judea. As Judah is watching from the rooftop, a tile is dislodged and falls right by the governor. Then the soldiers rush in and take Judah prisoner and send him to off to row in one of the Roman galleys.

So the galley sinks in a battle. So Judah manages to save Quintus Arrius, the captain of the galley. After they are rescued from the sea, Quintus Arrius repays Judah with his adoption.

The movie has several allusions to Jesus. The film is set in Judea. Judah Ben Hur is given water to drink by Jesus during his forced march to the fleet of galleys where he was put to work as a galley slave. Once again, he encounters Jesus during Jesus’ crucifixion march up Golgotha hill. This time Judah is the one providing water to the fallen Jesus.

In the end section of the movie Judah Ben Hur is seen searching for his Mother and sister. He finds her living in a leper colony not far from Judea. He brings her home where he cares for her and she is cured. Not clear how she is cured, perhaps a miracle. Click here to learn more about leprosy.

So we are watching many movies during the pandemic. Next up are “Dirty Dancing” and “Footloose” (Paula’s request). These are two of Paula’s faves.

Friday

April 10, 2020

Here we sit in our lockdown. Not going anywhere. Today is my turn to cook. So I decided to do beef stew. We’re getting lazy. It was almost 9 am when we got out of bed.

Luckily for us we thought of this when we last went shopping. Bought the stew beef, carrots, potatoes, celery and beef stock. Paula dug out the crock pot and I began work.

Our crockpot is over forty years old. We received it as a wedding present. Still works.

Not long ago, we discovered a product called crockpot liners made by Reynolds. You can find them in the supermarket food storage section. Makes clean up easier.

Every time I do this, I make it a bit different. Today’s version has carrots, celery, onion, potatoes and beef. Well it wouldn’t be beef stew without the beef. If you want details on the recipe, drop me A line.

Peel and cut up the carrots. Dice the onion and celery. Add to pot. I like to cut the beef down to smaller pieces than the butcher provides. Add to zip lock bag along with 1/2 c of flour. Brown in frying pan. Add the flour. Add to the pot. Add some beef stock. Turn it on and forget about it.

I can’t emphasize the last step enough. There have been times that I did all the prep work and forgot to turn it on. Oh crap.

In other news, we decided to watch a movie tonight. We decided on an oldie. “Support Your Local Sheriff” with James Garner.

Paula is continuing her deep dive into our picture archive. She has been putting the best pictures into albums and tossing the junk. I will be scanning some of my favorites to post on social media (blog, Facebook, etc,)

Stay safe

TTFN

Joe

Onward

March 11, 2020

On Monday, Paula was working at the Assistance League Gift shop and I decided that I would go to the movies rather than sit at home surfing the web. So we discussed what movies that she would like to see when we go to the movies together. So I decided to see Disney/Pixar’s new movie called “Onward” Rated PG.

Weekday matinees are dirt cheap. I paid more for popcorn than I paid for my ticket. Monday’s price was $6. The theater was pretty much empty. There was a young family with two kids. First kid was about 3 and the second was a baby in a stroller.

The film runs about 1 hr 40 minutes which is about the maximum a child can manage. The story is about two teen age elves go on a quest to see if there is any more magic in the world.

So it is the 16th birthday for the younger elf named Ian. He is given a magic wand for his birthday that will allow him to regenerate his dead father for 24 hours. So the wand only works for regenerating his father’s lower half (from his waist to his shoes).

So Ian, his older brother Barley and the half-father go on a quest to find the magic jewel that will complete the magic that will allow Ian to meet with his father. Barley owns a beat up old van that has seen its better days.

Okay, that’s enough. If I wrote any more it would give away any of the film’s surprises. This wasn’t the best Pixar film that I’ve ever seen. I would give it about a 4 stars (out of 10). But, it was worth $6.

I will probably do this again next week when Paula is busy at Assistance League. Maybe I’ll go see one of the scary pics like perhaps the Invisible Man.

So as always, the links that I’ve provided take you to IMDB.COM

Call of the Wild

March 5, 2020

We went to the movies on Tuesday afternoon. Weekday matinees are dirt cheap. We paid more for popcorn and drinks than we did for tix. $5 per person.

So we saw “Call of the Wild” starring Harrison Ford and the dog. So the dog is an animatronic creation of CGI and a good one at that. It is the story of the dog’s travels from sunny California as a pet dog to the wild Alaskan frontier.

I read the book a few weeks ago after I saw the advert at the theater. The book is in the voice of the dog (named Buck). How are you going to do that in the film. They just did voice-over. Click here to order the book. Or borrow for free from your local library. (Libraries are now lending ebooks that you can view on the Kindle app.)

So the film was pretty faithful to the book. You of a certain age probably read the book in high school, right? It’s worth going back for a re-read. Read the book before you see the film.

The movie had some really great visuals of the Alaskan country side. We liked it. Buck was pretty cool.