Posted tagged ‘movies’

Black Mass

September 28, 2015

Last night Paula and I had an opportunity to go to the movies. Mary K was off at some party up on the hill. So we had enough time to see a movie and have a brief dinner at KFC. We didn’t have enough time to have a decent meal out. KFC had to do.

BulgerSo we decided to see Johnny Depp in “Black Mass“. Saturday night at 6:30 pm. $12 for the two of us. Sometimes being an old fart is a good thing. So there were about five people in the movie including us. I guess that the story of Whitey Bulger isn’t a big thing out here on the West Coast.

I really enjoyed Depp as Whitey. Johnny Depp didn’t look anything like a pirate. I saw on the news where he made a visit to a children’s hospital in the pirate costume while he was attending the opening in Boston. The kids loved it.

He really nailed the role. I read that Johnny Depp had tried to get an interview with Whitey in the pen where Whitey is staying. Denied.

Benedict Cumberbatch played Billy Bulger. Good performance but he didn’t quite get the Billy Bulger accent and mannerisms that I remember.

The rest of the cast did a decent job of portraying some pretty nasty people. I thought it was worth seeing. Alas, other folks in LA may not have found it interesting. So if you live in LA, you better get out and see it before it gets dropped.

There was an excellent book written by Keven Cullen of the Boston Globe about the whole Whitey saga up to his capture in Santa Monica a few years ago. Might be better to read the book before seeing the movie. Here’s the link for the book.

Inside Out

June 30, 2015

Last night was date night. Every week or two Paula and I try to get out to see a movie and have dinner alone together. No kids, no mother-in-law, just us. Monday, is a really good time to go to the movies. There was only about 10 people in the theater.

Last night we decided to see the movie “Inside Out”. Here’s the IMDB link. This is an animated movie produced by Pixar diected by Pete Docter. The movie depicts the inner workings of the mind of a 12 year old girl named Riley who has been uprooted from her home in Minnesota and moved to San Francisco.

Riley’s mind is a sort of control room governed by fear, disgust, sadness, anger and joy. Joy is voiced by Amy Poehler, fear by Bill Hader, anger by Lewis Black and sadness by Phyllis Smith.

So everything is going just fine with Riley until she ends up at her new home in San Francisco. The moving truck is delayed and none of the family’s furniture has arrived. So Joy and Sadness through some magical means are transported to the nether regions of the mind, far away from the control center. 

Meanwhile back at the ranch Fear, Disgust and Bing-Bong alternate try to fix things. Things are not going well for poor Riley. So Joy and Sadness try desperately attempt to get back to the control center and to make things right. So our intrepid pair meet up with Riley’s childhood imaginary friend and together they continue to slog on.

The film is rated PG. I wouldn’t recommend anyone taking kids under the age of 11 or 12. The scenes from the subconsious parts of the mind could be pretty scary for a little one. The movie is certainly okay for seniors, though.

So, 90 minutes later, Joy and Sadness make it back to the control room. Mom and Dad give Riley big hugs and everyone lives happily ever after, per omnia secula, seculorum, amen.

I particularly enjoyed Lewis Black’s performance as anger. Anger is right in his wheel house. I give the film 3.5 stars.

Finally, we stopped at Taxco Mexican Restaurant which is just around the corner from us on Western in San Pedro for margaritas and some Mexican food. Very tasty.

The Theory of Everything

February 14, 2015

I’m on a roll here folks. Last week, Paula, Mary and I went to see “The Theory of Everything” starring Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones. This is the opposite of date night. This is the night where we take my mother-in-law to the movies. This is the true story of Dr Stephen Hawking and his wife Jane Wilde discover that Dr Hawking has the incurable disease ALS.

everythingThe movie starts before the onset of the disease and through the time when he discovers the disease. The movie gives us a brief glimpse of Stephen Hawking’s life.

Once again the set direction is outstanding. You feel that you have been transported back in time to the 50’s and 60’s. Eddie Redmayne nails his characterization of Hawking. I kept thinking, How’d he do that. One actually believes that you are watching Hawking. Amazing.

Theory of Everything has been nominated for 5 Oscars including Best Picture, Best Actor and Best Actress.

We’re trying to make it through all of the Oscar nominated films but I don’t think that we will make it. Sigh.

Once again, great film, Go see it.

The Imitation Game

February 14, 2015

Last night, Paula and I went out for date night to see “The Imitation Game” starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Keira Knightley. This is the true story of Alan Turing who was a gifted mathematician during WWII. Turing was responsible for the cracking of the German Enigma Code machine. He had created a computing machine that eventually could decode the imitation gameGerman transmissions.

The title refers to what is also known as the “Turing Test” where a human being and a computer are located behind a screen. Then a person asks questions of the person and the computer and tries to determine which is the computer and which is the person. It is the gold standard for artificial intelligence. IBM’s “Watson” is considered to be on the leading edge of artificial intelligence.

Anyways, the story begins with Turing applying for a job at Bletchley Park. Turing begins designing and building a computing machine to decode the German transmission. Decoding by hand up until that time was not making any progress. The code setting were changed every night at midnight.

Cumberbatch does a wonderful job of portraying Turing. You actually believe that he is Allan Turing. I was amazed at the set decoration. You feel that you have been transported back in time to war time Britain.

Allan Turing committed suicide in 1954 after being prosecuted by the British for being a homosexual. He recently received a posthumous pardon from Queen Elizabeth II in 2013, along with a formal apology from Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

Keira Knightley plays Joan Clarke who is another gifted mathematician. She worked with Turing in Hut 8 at Bletchley Park. The movie depicts her troubles finding acceptance with a society that felt that a woman’s place was in the home, not working decoding Nazi messages.

So “Imitation Game” has been nominated for 8 Oscars, including Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor, and Best Director. It seems that actors today seem to be less likely to change their names to something more pleasant to the ear. Back in the day, you would have Roy Scherer Jr changing his name to Rock Hudson or Marion Robert Morrison changing his name to John Wayne.

Outstanding movie. Go see it. Coming next, review of “The Theory of Everything”


January 4, 2015

Another date night last night. Paula and I went to see the movie Unbroken at a the Terraces theater in San Pedro. We like the Terraces theater because it’s close to home and they have a senior rate. Last night, the senior price was $6, After the movie we picked up some BBQ chicken, potato salad and some other kind of salad for dinner.

Unbroken” is the movie directed by Angelina Jolie and starring Jack O’Connell that is true story of Louis Zamporini. The film is based on the best selling book of the same name by Laura Hilldebrand. It follows the story of Louis becoming an Olympic track star and then serving as a bombardier in the South Pacific. The film is rated PG13 for violence.


Louis’ bomber crashes in the South Pacific. He then spends 47 days in a life raft and is eventually captured by the Japanese. He then spends the rest of the war in various Japanese prison camps.

I am always amazed how film makers manage to make scenes look so realistic. The crash scene of the bomber looks so real. You actually feel the director had a camera on board a bomber and then crashed it in the ocean.

This film is not for the faint of heart. It spends a great deal of the film showing what it was like for him in the prison camps. But he survives. Zamperini had been scheduled to be the Grand Marshall of the 2015 Rose Parade. Unfortunately, he died this past July, Here is the link to the Wiki entry for Louis Zamperini.

Louis Zamperini is famous in these here parts. The Torrance Air Port is named after him. Torrance High School named its sport stadium after him.

Laura Hildebrand is also the author of “Seabiscuit” Another book worth reading.

Good film and a good book. Go see the film and read the book.


December 22, 2014

Last night Paula and I decided to go to the movies. We saw the movie “Wild” starring Reese Witherspoon and Laura Dern. Directed by Jean-Marc Valee. The story is about the true story of Cheryl Strayed who went on an 1100 mile trek on the Pacific Crest Trail from the Mojave Desert to the State of Washington.

The movie is based on the best selling book of the same name by Cheryl Strayed. I had already downloaded the Kindle version of the book, but I had only finished reading the first few chapters. I would normally rather have finished reading the book before seeing the movie, but the movie was playing at a convenient time and place. I will get to the book eventually. I don’t think that I am exactly the target demographic for this. (I’m male and 66)

So the story is of Cheryl making an impulsive decision to hike the Pacific Crest Trail after the death of her mother and the failure of her marriage. We keep seeing flashbacks of her final days mother’s death from cancer.

We get the feeling that Cheryl is woefully unprepared for the journey that she has begun, On one of the first nights on the trail she has trouble figuring out how to set up her tent and use her backpack stove. Her pack is way overweight with stuff she really won’t need. The story of is one of challenges and her learning how to depend on her self.

The movie ends at “The Bridge of the Gods” over the Columbia River in Oregon. This is not actually the northern terminus of the trail. That is actually in British Columbia in Canada.


Another waypoint featured in the film was Kennedy Meadows in Tulare County, Callifornia. Population 28. Some really beautiful views.


We both enjoyed the movie. I’d give it about 2.5 stars out of 4.

The flashbacks are a bit disjointed. I was never quite sure about how the flashbacks connected to the main story.

There’s a lot of beautiful cinematography. Oscar material? Not sure, maybe for cinematography. I don’t see it for best film or best actress.

Tomorrow, we do Christmas Cookies. Stay tuned.




November 30, 2014

Saturday night was date night for interstellarPaula and I. Time to go out to a movie without Mary K. We decided to go to see the movie “Interstellar” written and directed by Christopher Nolan. Starring Matthew McConaughey, Ann Hathaway, Jessica Chastain, Matt Damon and Michael Caine. A team of explorers travel through a wormhole in an attempt to find a potentially habitable planet that will sustain humanity. That’s what IMDB says about the story.

The film is 2 hrs and 45 minutes long. When you add in all of the trailers and the adverts, you have 3 butt-numbing hours worth of entertainment. And Matt McConaughey didn’t say “All right, all right, all right” once and he kept his clothes on for the entire movie.

Warning: There are spoilers ahead.

I felt that I needed to suspend my engineering and physics training to believe the story.

So here’s what happens. McConaughey plays a corn farmer who is a retired NASA engineer and pilot on a dust bowl farm growing corn somewhere in the Midwest in the not too distant future. It couldn’t be too distant, because he was driving a recent model pickup truck. Think Kansas, Oklahoma or Nebraska. The world’s crops are all failing and the people’s survival on earth are at risk. So McConaughey manages to discover a super secret NASA installation that is planning on launching a space ship through a worm hole to a distant galaxy. My immediate question to myself, “How does one manage to keep something like that secret?” One would think that one would see big trucks carrying lots of stuff to the staging area. Nope, the spaceship just got built by FM. (FM stands for Fxxking Magic).

So the three astronauts (Matthew McConaughey, Ann Hathaway and David Gyasi) launch in a fancy space ship, off to visit strange worlds far far away. David Gyasi plays the character of Romilly, an black astronaut that you know is going to die before the end of the show. Our other two brave astronauts, you know will survive and return conquering heroes.

So moving right along, Our three heroes arrive at their first port of call which is planet with nothing but water. They find that the earlier visitor from earth had crashed and burned. You’d think that they could have figured this out with a satellite or radar or something, but no, Matt and Anne get in their lander leaving Gyasi behind to tend the store. So they manage to escape before a giant wave was about to send them to their watery graves.

At this point I’m wondering, how do they have enough fuel to do all this? I mean there are no gas stations out there on the Milky Way. The tank must be pointing to “E” about now.

But no, they return to the mother ship to find that Gyasi has aged 16 years while they only aged a couple of hours. Something to do with relativity I guess.

So they head on over to the other planet (named Gargantua). Which is an ice cold planet with nothing but mountains, ice  and rocks. You’d think they could find a planet with a bit more pleasant environment, you know like warm with palm trees? Nope they find an ice encrusted place. You’re not going to grow much corn there. No bars making Margaritas.

So now they find the astronaut from the previous mission (Code name: Lazarus) played by Matt Damon. For once, Damon is playing a bad guy. His character is intent on killing McConaughey. I’m not exactly sure why. But fight they do.

At this point, it begins to get a little weird. McConaughey gets in to  a space battle with Damon. Wait a second, where did they get a second lander to have a space battle? And somehow, McConaughey escapes into another dimension. He then commences to communicate with his teenage daughter by way of morse code. She manages to deduce some new theory from the Morse code. At this point, I am thinking, “When is this going to ever end?”

I begin thinking about Margarita I will be having with dinner at one of our favorite Mexican restaurants. So McConaughey is saved and is brought to new huge space station somewhere out by Saturn’s rings. Humanity is saved, everyone is reunited, forever and ever, McConaughey is the hero. Amen.

God it felt good to stand up and stretch. This film will likely be nominated for Academy awards at least for special effects and cinematography. Best Actor? I don’t think so. But the Academy doesn’t usually ask me, I’d give it about 2 stars out of 4.

20 Feet from Stardom

August 4, 2014

A couple of nights ago Paula and I watched the documentary “20 Feet from Stardom” on Netflix streaming video. The film tells the story of several back up singers and their attempts to become solo artists. The film won the Oscar for feature length documentary in 2014. Often you don’t get to see the films that win awards for documentaries. Streaming video services like Netflix has changed that and that’s a good thing.

The film tells the story of Darlene Love, Merry Clayton, Lisa Fischer and other background singers trying to make it in the pop music world.

There are interviews with Mick Jagger, Phil Specter, Stevie Wonder, Luther Vandross, and many more. A very interesting look at the backstage world of pop music.

Side note: we finally dropped our Netflix DVD service. We just weren’t watching the DVD’s in a timely manner. We would get a DVD and it would sit on the shelf for 6-8 weeks before we got around to watching. I feel that the sun is setting on the DVD as a media format. Between Netflix and Amazon Instant Video we are able to watch most of the content we are interested in watching.

Here’s the trailer:

20 Feet From Stardom Trailer

There’s an excellent sound track available on iTunes and Amazon.

And finally, here is a Youtube video of Darlene Love and Bruce Springsteen performing “Fine, Fine Boy”



April 17, 2013

Well this evening I had a choice. Watch the Red Sox play the Indians, go to see the new movie “42” or watch more news about the Boston Marathon bombing.

Normally on Tuesday evenings we have Mike, Theresa and little Jonathan over for dinner. But Mike & family were off to Los Vegas for a three day mini-vacation. Aunt Georgia provided them with a couple of hotel passes for a non weekend stay. So no Jonathan this evening.

Well one of the local theaters has $4 admission on Tuesday, so off we went to see 42. It was good to forget all of the sadness with regard to the events in Boston. I figured there would be more Red Sox games to watch. Glad to here that the Sox won again tonight.

So this is the story of Jackie Robinson being hired by Branch Rickey to play for then very white Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947. Jackie Robinson is played by Chadwick Boseman and Branch Rickey by Harrison Ford. How did Harrison get to be looking so old? Must be the makeup, right? It seems like just yesterday that he was starring in “Raiders of the Lost Ark”, right?

Chadwick Boseman does a decent job of playing Robinson. How do they cast for someone who can act AND play baseball?

Generally the film is well done. You feel the pain when Jackie gets hit in the head. I thought to myself how does anyone survive getting hit in the head. Tony Conigliaro certainly survived, but never really was able to play major league baseball.

The baby that was born in the film to Jackie and his wife seemed to be about 9 months old or maybe that was a twenty pound newborn?

It’s worth seeing, especially if you love baseball. Here’s the pointer to the trailer.

The Quiet Man

July 29, 2012

During our trip to Ireland, we toured the countryside in Connemara. During that particular trip the tour guide talked about the filming of the movie “The Quiet Man”. “The Quiet Man” starred John Wayne, Maureen O’Hara, and Barry Fitzgerald. The tour even stopped at a replica of the Irish cottage so that we could take pictures.

So we decided to get a copy of the movie from Netflix and we watched it last night.

The plot revolves around Sean Thornton (John Wayne) returns to the place of his birth from America where he was a prize fighter. Sean meets Mary Kate Danaher (Maureen O’Hare) and promptly falls in love. Hilarity ensues.

The movie was directed by John Ford. It has been said that this movie is the Irish version of “The Taming of the Shrew”.

The cinematography was outstanding. I can only imagine what this movie would have looked like on the big screen. The movie brought back to us all of the beautiful Irish countryside.

We thoroughly enjoyed the film.

Here’s the URL for the IMDB entry.

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