Archive for the ‘Reviews’ category

Dunkirk

July 27, 2017

Wednesday this week was date night. We called Dawn to come over and stay with Mary while Paula and I went to the movies. This time we went to see “Dunkirk”. This is the story of the Dunkirk Evacuation in June 1940 where the Allied forces are evacuated from the shores of Dunkirk across the British Channel.

This was a bit easier on the wallet. The theater is close by and Wednesday is $5 for Seniors Day (Woo Hoo). We went out to eat at a new Korean BBQ joint that opened up recently (Also nearby). More on the Korean BBQ later.

The movie is directed by Christopher Nolan and tells the story of Dunkirk from three points of view. Air, Sea and Land. For the most part, the actors were all unknowns with the exception of Kenneth Branagh who played the role of a British Navy Commander who was supervising the evacuation from a pier on the Dunkirk beach.

The constant switching of the main threads in the movie made it a challenge to follow at times. I also had a little trouble understanding the British accents. I was also confused due to the change from day time to night time depending on which thread was up on the screen.

Overall, I enjoyed the film. You really felt sorry for the soldiers who were waiting to be evacuated. Man did they look miserable. So close but so far.

** Spoiler Alert **

At the end of the film the last fighter pilot runs out of petrol (as the Brits would call it). It seemed like he was gliding for 10-15 minutes after his engine conked out. Why’d he land on the beach? He would be sure to be captured? Why not ditch next to one of the boats. Hated to see that beautiful airplane burn.

Okay, the film running time was 1 hr 45 min. Which meant that with a posted start time of 4:40 pm, it was still daylight outside when we came out of the theater. That meant we had time to have dinner, without running up the clock on the sitter.

Dinner

We ate at a new Korean BBQ joint on Western next to the US Bank. The name of the place is 3BBQ. I got the chicken rice bowl and Paula got a beef wrap and we got some appetizers to share.

Wonder Woman

July 7, 2017

Wonder WomanLast night was date night. We hired a baby sitter for Mary and went to see “Wonder Woman“. The cost for our baby sitter was three times as much as the price to see the movie. Here’s a link to the official trailer.

The movie stars Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman and Chris Pine as the dashing pilot/spy Steve Trevor. The film was directed by Patty Jenkins. It is interesting that the film was directed by a woman. And she is the first woman to direct a live-action film with a budget of over $100 million.

Okay, first and foremost this movie was about a half hour longer than it needed to be. Run time is about 2 hours and 15 minutes. Butt getting sore and beginning to wonder when the big finale scene is going to start.

So here’s the basic story. Trevor’s plane crashes into the sea off the coast of Amazon Island and Diana saves him from certain death by drowning. Steve Trevor tells Diana about the war that is raging in the outside world. The war is WWI of course. Interestingly, the comic book version, the war is WW2. The first battle is between the Amazons and the Germans who are chasing Trevor on Amazon Island. Seeing as this is a PG-13, movie there is little blood spilled. Soldiers get shot but don’t seem to bleed very much.

There’s an amusing scene early in the movie where Steve is recovering from his wounds in a hot tub somewhere on the island. Then Steve gets out of the tub and stands there buck naked in all his glory for Diana to see. The look on her face says that she has probably never seen a naked man before. Oh my… Luckily for the kiddies present, the scene is back lit and you can’t actually see Trevor’s (ahem) equipment.

So Amazon Island is located somewhere off the coast of Italy or maybe Greece. Think warm blue Caribbean waters. So Princess Diana begins to discover her super powers. And then Steve persuades her to go with him back to England. The two of them find a small fishing boat and set sail for England.

So the pair arrive in London after a brief voyage. Steve helps Diana get some new clothes that would meet the approval of the Londoners of the era. Anyways, to make a long story short, the pair manage to make it to the battlefield in France where Wonder Woman proceeds to kick serious ass. The film has some real nasty German baddies that get their comeuppance. And finally, we get to the finale battle between Wonder Woman and the evil lord Ares. And of course, you know who wins that battle.

Overall, it was a fun film though a little bit on the long side. We stopped at KFC’s drive thru to pick up some fried chicken for our dinner. Going out to an actual restaurant would be nice, but tick tock.

 

Ford Expedition

May 23, 2017

Last week during our trip to Boston, Paula and I rented a car. Generally, when I rent a car I like to get a model that I might be interested in buying.  This gives me a better feel for the vehicle than a 10 minute test drive. This trip I had reserved a Ford Escape through Avis Rent-a-Car. I tend to like the small SUV’s. Currently, I own a 2007 Jeep Liberty with 115K miles on the odometer, so it’s getting to be the time that I need to be looking at new cars.

Ford ExplorerSo we get to the rental counter last Tuesday night and hand over my driver’s license and credit card. The woman at the counter types in the info on her computer and proceeds to tell me that they don’t have any Ford Escapes available. She then tells me that she can rent me a Ford Expedition for the same price. Thank you very little, I say.

A Ford Expedition is not what one would call a small SUV. I argued for a few minutes to no avail. Either I took the Ford Expedition or we were walking to Boxboro.

The Expedition is HUGE. It’s about the same size as a GMC Suburban. It seats 7 without getting crowded. One needs to step up on the running board to get on board. It is very roomy and comfortable. Backseats are probably comfortable too, but I didn’t try them. Gas consumption is huge. When I filled it up on Monday before I turned it, the fuel gauge was pointing to 1/2 and it took 20 gallons to fill. Luckily gas prices in MA are a good deal less than LA. There is no way in this world that I would ever consider buying one of these. I don’t know how many miles per gallon it does (or maybe gallons per mile?).

One of the other issues that I had the other night. You are in a dark garage and you get into new (new to you) car. You want to get going so that you can get to the hotel and hit the sack.  It takes a long time to get oneself familiarized with all of the controls and systems. New cars these days have much more complicated controls that take a bit of getting used to,

Explorer interior

As you can see, there are a lot of buttons and switches to push and turn. This isn’t just a problem with the Expedition. All of the new cars have this sort of problem.

How do you turn on the lights, windshield wipers, adjust seat, etc. The model I was driving had the Apple Car Play system. This allows one to connect your phone to the car’s entertainment system. You can use it to play music that is on your phone or to make phone calls, etc. It’s kind of neat, but I didn’t have near enough time to get it all figured out. I plug my phone into the USB port and instantly the phone’s apps appear on the screen.

All in all, I would have been a lot happier if Avis had given to me what I had asked for and not a huge tank to drive for a week. Next time, I will try a different car rental company.

 

Staying Alive…

May 11, 2017

Last night was date night. So we saw an ad for “Saturday Night Fever” appearing on one night at several local theaters in LA. A show at 2pm and 7pm. So Paula calls up one of our baby sitters for Mom and we head out to  see the film that we last saw forty years ago. There weren’t many people in our theater. Probably not more than 10 people. No senior discount for this film. We had to pay full price. Here’s the link to the trailer.

This director’s cut of the movie was staged by a company called Fathom Events. The presentation at the beginning of the film alluded to other films that would be presented in the coming months. Typically the presentations would be on a Wednesday at 2pm and 7pm. Not sure how this is going to succeed with so few folks in the seats.

Here is a list of other classic movies coming to the big screen in the coming weeks. 

  • Smokey and the Bandit
  • Godfather
  • Some Like it Hot
  • Fast Times at Ridgemont High
  • Bonnie and Clyde
  • The Fifth Element

What a joy to watch. We had forgotten so much about this film. The film starts with John Travolta’s character Tony walking down the street in Brooklyn wearing a pair of red shoes and carrying a can of paint. Strutting  to the Bee Gee’s great sound track. So good to see it on the big screen with the sound of a full movie house audio system.

There were parts of the movie that we had completely forgotten, like the 1963 Chevy Impala. The boys took turns using the back seat to have sex with whomever they managed to hook up with. They were each allotted 20 minutes after which the boys would come banging on the windows. Hurry up, they say. IMDB says that this was the first time that the phrase “Blow Job” was used in a motion picture.

We begin to see Tony’s bleak life with his hope of escaping by way of the disco dancing contests. Nice Italian family with a picture of the elder son (Father Frank) on the mantle. Then Father Frank comes home to tell everyone that he is leaving the priesthood. Oh no, not that. So then Frank goes out with boys sans roman collar. One of Tony’s pals asks Father Frank if he can ask the Pope for a dispensation so that his girlfriend could get an abortion. Father Frank says not gonna happen.

Oh and the fashions. Loved the white disco suit and the red shoes.

This was John Travolta’s third film, but it was certainly his breakout role.

Beauty and the Beast

April 7, 2017

BeautyLast night was date night again here. We got a baby sitter for Mary and off we went for three hours of down time from care giving. So we went to see “Beauty and the Beast” playing at the AMC Rolling Hills theater in Torrance.

First, I want to talk about the theater. We’ve gone to this theater before. They charge almost double what we pay at the Terraces in Rancho Palos Verdes. And, they have changed snack prices. They no longer sell a “small” popcorn, now the medium is the new small. It’s sort of the incredible shrink ray comes to the theater. They’ve done the same thing with spring water. So instead of paying $5 for a small popcorn and 1/2 liter of spring water, now we pay $12 for medium popcorn and a liter bottle of vitamin water. And don’t get me going on the “vitamin water” scam.

So next time the bottle of water and snacks go into Paula’s purse. They also had the audio set a tad bit too loud. The effect was to make some of musical numbers sound a bit muddied.

And now let’s talk about the film. Film time was about 2 hrs and 9 minutes. It seemed to me to be a bit on the long side. At about 1.5 hour into the film, I started thinking to myself, “C’mon Belle, kiss the Beast and get it done.” But no, there was a lot more singing and dancing to be done. I mean we all know the fairy tale, the princess kisses the frog and he turns into a prince. And then they live happily ever after.

Emma Watson was okay in the role of Belle, but she just doesn’t quite have the pipes to belt out the songs like say Celine Dion or other pop diva. It kind of reminded me of the movie “My Fair Lady” where the character Eliza played by Audrey Hepburn had the musical numbers dubbed by Marni Nixon.

Dan Stevens played the Beast. I was impressed how he managed  to sing and dance while up on 12″ stilts. And impressive makeup, indeed. Good job. Paula was complaining that they didn’t have enough close up time so she could see Stevens’ baby blue eyes. Dan Stevens is also famous for his role of Matthew in Downton Abbey from 2010-2012

I loved the names of the supporting cast. Lumiere for the candlestick, Maestro Cadenza for the harpsichord, and so on. Good solid supporting cast.

For my money, the best song and dance number was “Be Our Guest”. You can’t help but be humming it as you leave the theater. I will probably play it at our next OES meeting.

Also, make sure you stay for all the credits. Overall, I liked it. It’s rated PG. That being said, I wouldn’t take real little kids to see it. There some real scary stuff in those dark woods.

We didn’t get to eat out after the show. We were on the clock. When we got home I threw a frozen pizza in the oven and poured myself a  glass of wine.

Moonlight

March 10, 2017

MoonlightSo last night was date night again. Be still my beating heart. Our good friend Tamer agreed to watch Mary while Paula and I went to a movie.

So we went to the Regal Promenade Cinema at the Peninsula Center in RPV. Normally, I wouldn’t mention the theater, but this one is special. It has large, extra comfy king sized recliners for theater seating. Also, it had extra leg room. It’s sorta, kinda like the difference between coach and first-class. Once you’ve been in first-class, you don’t want to sit in coach. Plus, we had just about the entire theater to ourselves. Only one other couple in the theater.

Cost of food was outrageous. Paid $5.00 for a bottle of water. They always try to upsell to the larger size for $0.30 more. Next time the bottle of water goes in Paula’s purse.

So the movie that we decided to go to see was “Moonlight” starring Mahershala Ali, Shariff Earp and Naomie Harris. Directed by Barry Jenkins. The film won three Oscars including Best Picture. The film was just getting to its end of run in theaters. It’s available on DVD or streaming video. Definitely worth watching.

The picture tells the story of a young black boy named Chiron in a ghetto neighborhood in Miami. Chiron is struggling with surviving in the ghetto. He has no father and his mother is a crack addict. He gets bullied at school. Juan comes along and takes Chiron under his wing and together with his girl friend/partner take him under their wing and become surrogate parents.

Chiron is played by three different actors for three different stage in his life. All well done.

It was a little bit difficult at times to follow the ghetto dialect. I suppose subtitles would have been helpful. If I was watching on streaming video I would have turned on the subtitles.

Excellent movie, but I think that La La Land should have received the Best Picture nod. But the Academy didn’t ask me for my vote. Though Naomi Harris and Mahersala Ali sure deserved Best Supporting Actor. Excellent performances all around.

The film is based on the unproduced play “In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue” by MacArthur Fellow Tarell Alvin McCraney.

So to finish off the evening we stopped at KFC to get a bucket of chicken

La La Land

February 26, 2017

Date night last night. We arranged for a sitter for Mary. A night out can get expensive. We spent $60 for the sitter, $30 for movie tickets and $35 for take out Chinese food.

So we went to see La La Land. This film has been nominated for 14 Oscars. We wanted to see this film before the Oscars were telecast this evening. The film stars Ryan Gossling as a jazz pianist and Emma Stone as an aspiring young actress. The movie tells the story of Mia’s accidental Meeting of Sebastian. They fall in love then sing and dance around LA. They seem to have found some of the most photogenic spots in Hollywood and Los Angeles.

So you think that is a boy meets girl, then they get married and live happily ever after. Think again. They discover that they have competing visions of what their future life is going to be like. Sebastian gets an offer to tour with a jazz band. Mia doesn’t/can’t want to go on tour with him and disrupt her vision of acting.  I won’t say more, because that would give away the plot.

So the music and dancing are superb. Ryan Gosling did an outstanding job on jazz piano. According to IMDB, no CGi or hand doubles were used in the performance. The outdoor dance scenes are done at some of the most outstanding LA locales. I think that I will add a couple of them to visit. One scene was at the Griffith Observatory, beautiful view. Read the Wiki list for the many films that used this beautiful locale. I told Paula that I was adding this to my bucket list. Need to drive up there one of these days. Of course, I think I’ll skip visiting the location for the opening scene on the LA freeways. Been there, done that.


I told Paula that some day I would get a nice convertable like the one the Sebastian drove in the film. She says, you going to tell your dermatologist? Maybe some day. Maybe I’ll have the top down at night.

After the movie was over, we stopped to pickup Chinese takeout at Peter’s Place Chinese Restaurant in Torrance. We would have loved to sit and linger over dinner, but the clock was ticking on our “baby sitter”. Peter’s Place is a small family run Chinese restaurant. It came recommended by my daughter-in-law Theresa. The restaurant was at capacity. Good sign on a Saturday night. So we ordered Kung Pao Chicken, Shrimp with Cashews, and a Noodle dish. All very tasty. The Kung Pao Chicken  had lots of those little hot peppers. My goodness, they will set you free. 

So after 20 minutes we left with our bag of food and headed home. We paid our sitter and sat down for a fine Chinese dinner.