Archive for the ‘Reviews’ category

Little Women

January 31, 2020

Little WomenLast night Paula and I went to see “Little Women” at the movies. We went to the 5 pm show so that restaurants might be open after the show. Besides, 10 pm is way past my bedtime.

It would have been helpful if sometime in my life I had managed to read the novel Little Women. It would help me understand all the characters what they were about.

So in case you haven’t ever read Little Women, let me explain some of the basics. The story is about four young ladies in the March family living with their mother in Concord, MA. Their father is off acting as a pastor in the civil war. (I didn’t quite understand this until he appears late in the film.)

The story is told by Jo March (played by Saoirse Ronan). She tells the story as she writes her novel about she and her sisters and how the are determined to live their life on their own terms.

So the four sisters (Jo, Meg, Amy and Beth) are living with their mother (played by Laura Dern. They live in a small brown house in Concord, MA. The house still exists and is available for tours. I had some trouble keeping the four girls straight. Reading the book beforehand would have helped immensely. One last thing, if you haven’t read the book and aren’t intending to, go read the synopsis in Wikipedia.

So our goal is to try to see all of the Oscar Best Picture nominees before the Oscars are awarded. So we’ve seen 1917, The Irishman (actually Paula only saw half, I saw the whole thing on Netflix), The Two Popes (once again Paula didn’t care about seeing this one, I’ve seen it on Netflix spread over a couple of days), Ford v Ferrari. Probably won’t see the Joker or Jo Jo Rabbit. We will probably see “Once upon a Time in Hollywood” next week on Amazon Prime.

In other upcoming movies there is “The Call of the Wild” starring Harrison Ford due for release on Feb 21. Paula and I are interested in seeing this. I’ve even started reading the book. This is based on the book of the same name by Jack London. The promo banner at the theater kind of had us hooked.

Call of the Wild

 

Star Trek: Picard

January 26, 2020

Last night we decided to watch the new Star Trek series called “Star Trek: Picard” streaming on CBS All Access. This is a new 11 episode Star Trek series that manages to bring Patrick Stewart back as Jean Luc-Picard. I’m a little bit uncertain on how this will manage to succeed since CBS All Access has a ways to go to get to all the Netflix eyeballs.

So episode #1 shows Picard in his winery in the south of France along with his pit bull named “#1”. Oh so very cute. He seems to having dreams of himself playing chess with Commander Data played by Brent Spiner.

picard 1

He then meets a woman named “Dahj” who it seems needs his help and thus he is drawn back into the Star Trek world. It seems that Dahj is related to Data, a daughter maybe. One is not quite sure.

We were watching it on our ROKU box. I had trouble getting the audio, so I had to turn on the subtitles. It might be better on my iPad or laptop. On my cable TV box I have an audio streaming device connected so that I can hear the audio with my hearing aids. When I switch to the Roku box I don’t get the audio.

It was only recently that I had added “CBS All Access” to my streaming video apps.

So there will be a new episode every Thursday. I guess I can wait.

1917

January 25, 2020
1917 (2019)

Thursday was movie night. This time we went to see “1917“. 1917 is the story of two British soldiers in WW1 who have been given the task of delivering a message to another infantry unit across enemy territory. The message is intended to save the unit from an enemy trap.

The film was written and directed by Sam Mendes.

There are two things that stand out for this film.

First is the set design. Truly impressive. One really believes that you are in the trenches of WW1.

Second thing (or maybe first) is the cinematography. The movie is shot using a technique called “One Shot”. You never lose sight of the two main characters as they make their dangerous journey across the no mans’ land to get to their final destination. In order to do the one shot they had to rehearse for about six months before they could begin shooting. Click here for a Wikipedia entry on One Shot Cinematography

The film has been nominated for ten Oscars, including Best Picture and Best Directing. We saw the movie at The Terraces in Rancho Palos Verdes. Tickets on Tuesday and Thursday are $5. We went to a 5 pm showing so that we could go out to dinner after the show. It seems that most of the restaurants in this area close at 9 pm on weeknights. Go see this film, it’s worth it.

The Nook – San Pedro

January 19, 2020

After church, we usually go out for Brunch. Most times, Mike and his family join us, but they were visiting another church in La Habra. We thought we might have to go over to Long Beach to see Paula’s Mom but found out that she was okay.

So we decided to take the opportunity to try a new restaurant called “The Nook” formerly known as the Gaffey Street Diner. The Nook is located at 247 N Gaffey Street. We had stopped eating at the Gaffey Street Diner because of service and quality issues. We had been mostly sending our Sunday morning business to the Pacific Diner.

There is an additional “Nook” restaurant in Torrance at 2169 Pacific Coast Hwy.

So we gave it a try. The interior had been completely redone with new wallpaper and new booths and tables. The wall paper is sort of a stylized view of Los Angeles, San Pedro and Long Beach. Kind of neat.

So service was pretty good. The place was about 1/3 full which thought was pretty good for Sunday at 1pm. We sat at a table for two and ordered coffee and water. Most of the time I order bacon and eggs. So often that our usual waitress calls me “Bacon and Eggs”. But today, I decided to try their tuna melt. Paula ordered the Eggs Benedict.

Paula asked for the fruit cup instead of home fries, but she forgot to tell the waitress “no cantelope or melon”. When I get the tuna melt, I usually only eat half and take the rest home for lunch on Monday.

One final thing. They managed to find an artist to do a mural on the side of the building next to the parking lot. Their logo is a smiling fried egg. Kind of cute. The old mural was of Guy Fieri from a review done by him for his food network show “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives” a long time ago.

Ford vs Ferrari

December 28, 2019

We got back to going to the movies last night. We went to see “Ford vs Ferrari” starring Matt Damon, Christian Bale and Jon Bernthal.

This is the story of Ford Motor Co. working on challenging Ferrari to win the Grand Prix motor race at .Le Mans.

Matt Damon plays Carroll Shelby as the designer of the race car and Christian Bale plays Ken Miles the driver of the car.

It depicts the struggles between Lee Iacocca and Henry Ford and Caroll Shelby. There is a lot of car racing action, crashes and spin-outs.

Film runs about 2.5 hours. A little bit long but a fun movie to watch.

We saw the film at the Regal Promenade Cinema in Rolling Hills Estates. This theater has wide seats that recline. Very comfy. Took us a while to get up to Rolling Hills Estates but the comfort was worth it.

I would give the film a thumbs up.

Only downside was it started at 6:15 pm and ran 2.5 hours. Early closing times are typical here for a week night. Which meant that most of the restaurants we were interested in for going for a bite after the film were closing or already closed. So, we had to settle for Coco’s. They were shutting off the lights as we were getting ready to leave.

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

November 28, 2019

Last night we went to the movies to see “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood” starring Tom Hanks.

I should say this right at the beginning. This is not a movie to take the kids to see. It is rated PG and tells the story of relationship problems

This is the story of a writer for Esquire magazine who was tasked with writing an article on Fred Rogers for the magazine. The writer’s name was Lloyd (played by Matthew Rhys). Lloyd was having problems with his father. Lloyd was not happy about the assignment.

So Lloyd tries to blow off Fred Rogers attempts to help him get right with his Dad. Mr Rogers persists and manages to get Lloyd right with his father.

So Tom Hanks nails the performance of Fred Rogers. All the mannerisms and affects are there. By the end of the movie, one really believes that you are watching Fred Rogers.

We went to an early show so that we could have time to go out to dinner after the show. Wednesday’s are usually $5 for Seniors, but not last night. Apparently producer has rule about no bargain nights on first two weeks of theater run. So price was $10.

Dinner at a small Chinese restaurant in San Pedro. Hot and Sour Soup, Moo Shi Chicken and Beef Chow Mein. Now we have leftovers for this evening. We were the only people dining in the restaurant, though lots of take out orders getting picked up.

Downton Abbey

September 25, 2019

Downton AbbeyLast night we went to see the movie “Downton Abbey“. Tuesday is a good night to go to the movies around here. Regal Cinema has $5 tickets for everyone on Tuesday night. The ticket taker wanted to see inside Paula’s purse looking for contraband. They didn’t see the bulge in my pocket that had a bottle of spring water.

Still not very crowded even at those prices. So this is the continuing story of the Crawley family, wealthy owners of a large estate in the English countryside.

So we have been waiting to see this for a long time once we heard it was being developed. If you followed the series that was broadcast on PBS from 2010-2015, you will love the movie. If you didn’t follow the series you might still enjoy but maybe not.

All the characters on the TV series made it into the movie. I read somewhere that producer Julian Fellowes struggled to get all of cast together for the shoot because of many conflicting schedules of cast mates.

So the story line is that the King and Queen are coming for a visit to Downton. First everyone had to get the joint scrubbed clean, then the royal maids, cooks and butlers arrive to take over the operation for the visit. The regular Downton crew are none to happy to pushed aside for their day in the glory of the visit. Much trickery is planned to take back the staff’s operation of Downton.

Downgon Abbey mansion

So the movie ends after all the royals go home. The movie closes with a long shot of the mansion in the darkening skies. The Crawleys and their staff live happy ever after. So I was wondering, how did they light the castle (remember this is circa 1927) with out any flood lights showing?

So, one of my problems that I had was understanding all of the dialog. I have hearing problems and I wear hearing aids. The hearing aids didn’t seem to help, perhaps even made it worse. The dialog often sounded muddled. British accents didn’t help any in that regard. I have a hearing test scheduled in October

I hear that the Downton Abbey mansion has become quite a tourist draw for Brits and Americans. They apparently do tours. If you were a fan of the PBS series, go see the movie. You’ll enjoy it.

After the movie, we had dinner at a Mexican restaurant in San Pedro. Taxco still hasn’t managed to get their liquor license back after they moved a few months ago. No matter, the food was excellent.