Archive for the ‘Reviews’ category

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.

Mr. Iglesias

June 18, 2020

So we started watching a comedy series called “Mr. Iglesias” on Netflix last night. This is a comedy series about a high school teacher who is working with gifted but misfit students at a high school in Long Beach, CA.

The series stars Gabriel Iglesias who is a stand up comic who portrays a high school teacher. I think he teaches history, but I’m not quite sure. We binge watched three episodes last night. The series just started its second season this week.

Supposedly, Iglesias is a super star standup comic. So apparently he is also known as Fluffy. Hmmm. Why have I never heard of him? Iglesias’ costumes are always shorts, a polo shirt and a hat (Google calls it either a “flat” hat of a “newsboy” hat). Back in the day, I tried my hand at teaching middle and high school math. If I had come to work dressed like him, I would have been fired on the spot. Click here for his Wiki entry. Click here for his personal web site.

Season 1 has ten episodes and season 2 has twelve episodes. I am not sure I will be managing to make it through all 22 episodes. Meh. Can’t see myself spending the time to grind through all the episodes.

Countdown 1945

June 10, 2020

So I have to stop watching late night TV. There’s always some author on pitching their latest book. Then, I decide that I have to read it.

So last week I was watching CBS Sunday Morning. Also, saw him on Stephen Colbert. They were interviewing Chris Wallace (reporter for Fox News). The book has nothing to do with Fox News (If it did, I wouldn’t be reading it.).

So the book is titled “Countdown 1945” and it covers the time from when Harry Truman becomes president on April 12 1945 until the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945.

So Truman was going down to a room in the capitol called “The Board of Education” that was operated by Speaker Sam Rayburn. It was a room in the Capitol would go at the end of the day to have a drink and hang out.

He headed from the main public floor of the Capitol down to the ground floor, downstairs to House Speaker Sam Rayburn’s private hideaway, Room 9, which was known as the “Board of Education.” It was the most exclusive room in the Capitol—entry by Rayburn’s personal invitation only. Most afternoons, members of Congress met here after official business hours to discuss strategy, exchange gossip, and “strike one for liberty,” enjoying a drink, or two. Truman was a regular. And his drink of choice was bourbon and branch water.

The book starts with Truman being summoned to the White House in April 1945. There he was informed FDR had died. A couple of days later he is told about the project to develop an atomic bomb to be dropped on Japan. This is the story of the days leading up to the eventual dropping of the bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

One last quote:

But Truman confounded the conventional wisdom. He campaigned relentlessly and effectively, often making speeches from the back of trains as he barnstormed across America. At almost every juncture he was greeted by enthusiastic crowds shouting: “Give ’em hell, Harry!” In one of the biggest comeback victories in American political history, Truman defeated Dewey in November 1948.

While Truman had notable achievements—he issued executive orders banning racial discrimination in the military and the government—he continued to face problems at home and overseas. He introduced what he called his “Fair Deal” program, designed to build on FDR’s New Deal. It included proposals for universal health care and more funding for education. He couldn’t get it through Congress.

I couldn’t put the book down. You know what the ending is but that doesn’t matter. Go ahead and read it.

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.

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.