Archive for the ‘Reviews’ category

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.

 

The Nickel Boys

September 11, 2019

NickelThe latest book that I just finished was “The Nickel Boys” by Colson Whitehead, This is the fictional story of two black boys sentenced to a hellish juvenile reform school called “The Nickel Academy” near Tallahassee, Florida. The author says it’s fictional but it sure felt like the real thing.

The book is set in the 1950’s to early 1960’s, when race relations were just starting to change,

If a boy were to die while incarcerated, the body would be unceremoniously buried in an unmarked grave behind the school. No one either in government or the public seemed to care or even know about the place.

All it took was a seemingly minor mistake and one would be convicted to the reform school during the Jim Crow era in the south.

I could hardly put the book down. The follows Elwood and Turner through their life at the “Nickel” where one could be put into a hot, solitary confinement for any minor infraction.

There was a building for the black boys and one for the whites, but one gets the impression the black boys had it much worse.

Colson Whitehead won the Pulitzer Prize for his previous book “Underground Railroad“. I will get to that book when I get through by backlog of other books to read.

I’ve got to stop watching late-night television. Invariably, there is someone pitching there new book that they would like you to buy and read. And usually, I add the books to my Kindle reading list.

Other books that I am working on are “Home (Portal Series Book 3) by Richard Bowker. (Shameless Plug: Rich is my brother, and he would love to have you reading his books that are available on Amazon, either paperback or kindle.)

And finally, the other book that I am working on is “The Inn” by James Patterson. Book about an ex-cop living in Gloucester, MA.

Good Boys

August 22, 2019

Good BoysSo last night was date night again. It’s a lot easier to do date night now that we have Mary living in a home in Long Beach. So we try to do date night on either Tuesday or Wednesday because one of our local theaters has $5 nights. $5 or everyone on Tuesday and $5 for seniors on Wednesday. I paid more for my popcorn than the tickets.

So last night we saw “Good Boys“. It is the story of three boys that were 12 years of age (Tweens). The three boys had been invited to a party where there would be boys AND girls in attendance. They were concerned that they didn’t know how to kiss a girl.

So the three lads skip school and go about trying to find out how the job gets done. So they they try to eaves drop on two teen age girl that live next door. They can’t quite see over the wooden fence, so they borrow their Dad’s drone to spy on the girls. However, the girls capture the drone. The boys find themselves deeper and deeper into trouble as they try to recapture the drone.

The film starred Jacob Tremblay, Keith L. Williams and Brady Noon. They did a great job. I expect that we will be seeing more of these lads.

So the movie is rated R for language (a lot of F words), sexual innuendo and alcohol consumed by tweens. It was fun to see the faces on the boys when they tasted beer for the first time. Perhaps you might remember what beer tasted like when you were as young as these boys. My mother or the good nuns would wash my mouth out with soap if they ever heard me using one of those F words.

I had to stretch my imagination to believe that 12 year old boys would be doing this sort of stuff. When I was in 7th grade, I certainly wouldn’t be doing these things.

We had hoped to see “Once upon a Time in …Hollywood” but timing wasn’t right. We’ll try to see that film in the next week or so. That film runs about 2 hours and 45 minutes. That meant that once we were done watching the film many of the restaurants we might want to go to would be closed. So “Good Boys” runs about an hour and a half.

TaxcoWe had dinner at Taxco Mexican restaurant in San Pedro. Taxco recently moved from their location at the corner of Western and Capitol to the Albertson’s plaza down the street on Western. Food was good, but they don’t have their new liquor license yet, so no margaritas for us. Maybe next time for the margaritas.

Lion King (2019)

July 24, 2019

lion kingTuesday again was date night. We went to see the new Lion King. Prices at the Terraces Cinema is $5 on Tuesday. That’s hard to pass up. Usually, the films that we see on Tuesdays are not that well attended. Yesterday (5pm show) was different from normal Tuesday’s. It was at about 50-60% capacity.

The theater was starting a new play about every hour. This week is early in its run. Film length is about 2 hours.

My first comment is “WOW!!!”. How’d they do that. All of the images of the animals looked really, really real. You can’t tell that this is CGI other than the fact that the animals are talking.

So one of the big things about this film was that Beyonce appears in it. All I can say about that is “Meh!”. I am not a huge Beyonce fan.

The story is more or less the same as the original. Young Simba is tricked by his evil Uncle Scar into believing that he (Simba) caused his father’s death. Simba grows up and understands his responsibilities as an adult. Simba returns to the pride, and takes his proper place.

So the film was rated PG for violence. Probably not too good for the little ones. Surprisingly enough, none of the animals ever bleed. Some of them die but they don’t bleed while that was happening. This is the magic of PG. If there was blood, it certainly would be PG13. We will need to be thinking about what to see next Tuesday.

I downloaded the sound track from iTunes. It’s kind of hard to figure out which of the albums is from the 2019 version. There’s a Broadway version and a 90’s version. It’s kind of hard to tell them apart.

We had a good time. Long line at the refreshment stand. Just as well, I don’t need any popcorn. We went out to “Marie Calender’s” for a light dinner. Very tasty

Call the Midwife

July 21, 2019

Call the MidwifeI just finished “Call the Midwife” by Jennifer Worth. “Call the Midwife” was the basis for a PBS series of the same name. This book is actually book one of a three book series, but stands alone pretty well on its own.

The books tells the stories of midwifes, nursing and medicine in the East End of London during the 1950’s.

Paula and I had watched the PBS TV series a few years ago and our friend Roberta recommended that we read the books that were the basis for the TV series.

Indeed, the TV show is still going strong with season 8 just released. I just checked the PBS web site and found that Call the Midwife is on season 9. Still going strong. Click here to see the PBS site for Call the Midwife.

I really enjoyed reading book one and I will probably go back and read books two and three when I get around to it.

One of the comments in the book is about family size. It says that women in the East End typically had about 10 children over their child bearing years. Indeed, I learned later in life that my father had about 10 siblings. I only knew three of his brothers who we saw often when we were growing up. Many of his siblings had never reached adulthood, having died of a variety of diseases that are preventable in this day and age.

The book probably goes deeper into the lives of her patients in the East End. It seems to me that there are stories in the book are a bit too much for television.

Where the Crawdads Sing

July 11, 2019

crawdadsWhere the Crawdads Sing” is a both a love story and a murder mystery. It is the story of Kya, the marsh girl, who lives deep in the wetlands of North Carolina. The book has been on the Amazon best seller list for 43 weeks now.

Kya’s story starts with her mother leaving her to be alone with her drunken father. She learns to adapt to the marsh lands of North Carolina. Eventually her father leaves her, never to be heard from again. The story follows her learning to adapt and survive in her surroundings.

The story jumps between Kya adapting to her situation in the wetlands of NC and a murder investigation of a young man who was romantically involved with Kya. Did Kya do it? You will have to read it to find out.

I would write more but that would give away too much. This is a great story. Definitely worth reading.