Posted tagged ‘Movies’

Jersey Boys

September 25, 2020

Last night, we watched “Jersey Boys” on Netflix. It’s also running on Amazon Prime but you rent for $3.99. This is the film that is based on the Broadway show of the same name done a few years ago. The film and show are based on the pop music group “Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons.

So I was reading the obits in the Los Angeles Times a couple of days ago. (At my age, I find myself reading the obits more and more often. So I ran across an obit about Tommy DeVito (not to be confused with Danny DeVito, the actor). So that sparked my interest in watching Jersey Boys. Here’s the obit from the Los Angeles Times.

Mr DeVito died of the corona virus and he was 92 years young. He sang baritone along with the others in the Four Seasons.

The movie covers the beginnings of the group singing in bars and night clubs. Eventually, they met Bob Gaudio who wrote most of the groups most successful songs.

Bob Gaudio wrote hits like “Sherry”, “Big Girls Don’t Cry”, ”Walk Like a Man” and many, many more. One cannot help but sing along, even if you were not alive when these songs were first released.

Franki Valli, Bob Crewe, Tommy DeVito, Bob Gaudio

We watched the film to the very end, listening to all the music while the credits rolled by.

I suppose that Four Season’s musical journey is not unlike other pop groups struggling to get heard by the right people.

Greyhound

July 29, 2020

Last night we watched a movie titled “Greyhound” starring Tom Hanks. This is a story of the US Destroyer USS Keeling that was performing escort duty of a convoy heading from the US to Great Britain during WW2.

The book is based on a CS Forester book titled “The Good Shepherd”. Actually, the title has been renamed to “Greyhound” to coincide with the movie release.

CS Forester has written many books about naval warfare. He probably best known for his books on Horatio Hornblower during the Napoleonic wars. He also wrote the book “The African Queen” that was the basis for the movie made in 1951 starring Humphrey Bogart and Katherine Hepburn.

So I learned a new word. “Pillenwerfer” is the name the Germans used for a device used by the U-Boats during WW2 as a decoy to US Navy Sonar. From Wikipedia:

It was launched by an ejector system colloquially referred to as Pillenwerfer (English: “pill thrower”). When mixed with seawater, the calcium hydride produced large quantities of hydrogen which bubbled out of the container, creating a false sonar target.

So I managed to read the book before the movie came out. It tells the story of action on a US destroyer escorting about 60 ships to England during WW2. It was a quick read. I read it under a week. Lots of action chasing all of those nasty U-Boats. Reading the book beforehand made it easier to understand all of the action.

Back to the movie. I kept wondering, “How’d they do that?”. You know that they didn’t film an entire convoy crossing the North Atlantic in heavy seas. The CGI artists did a masterful job of making the film.

Fever Pitch

July 12, 2020

We watched another baseball movie last night. This time it was Fever Pitch starring Jimmy Fallon and Drew Barrymore.

So this is the story of a young man named Ben who has season tickets to Red Sox games that he inherited from his uncle. He is a super fervent fan. He doesn’t miss any games, ever.

So Ben has real good seats located between home plate and home dugout. The tickets would have needed to be owned by his family for decades.

So Ben meets a young lady named Lindsey (Barrymore) who he takes a liking to. Ben has plenty of time for Lindsey during the winter, but when summer rolls along he has to decide whether baseball games are more important than love.

Okay, this movie was filmed in 2004 when the Red Sox were heading towards the World Series. And the playoff series between the Yankees and Red Sox is prominent in the story.

There was produced an extended Red Sox edition of the film with additional scenes from the actual baseball games. Guess which one we watched?

Other baseball themed movies on my list include “Bull Durham” and
“The Natural”.

So baseball starts up again on July 26th. We should be able to get in one or two more baseball movies before opening day.

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.

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.

Laurel Canyon

June 14, 2020

So we heard about a new documentary the other day titled “Laurel Canyon” on Epix. Epix is a streaming tv channel that is connected to cable tv services. ie. You need to be a cable customer to get Epix.

Laurel Canyon is located north of Hollywood along Laurel Canyon Blvd. in the Hollywood Hills. It is a nice secluded area with lots of trees and greenery.

First, I had never heard of the streaming channel called “Epix”. So I had to see if our Roku box could get it. It does, though it took some doing to get it enabled.

“Laurel Canyon” is a two-part documentary about a neighborhood in Los Angeles of the same name. Laurel Canyon is located just north of Hollywood off of Laurel Canyon Blvd.. It happens to be an area where several recording artists took up residence in the late 60’s/early 70’s. Here is a map:

Episode 1 covers the bands “The Doors”, “Crosby Stills and Nash”, Joni Mitchell, “The Birds”, “Buffalo Springfield”, Frank Zappa (Mothers of invention), “The Monkees”,etc. I loved the music.

Episode 2 adds stories about Jackson Brown, The Eagles and more. It talks about how the various bands grew to be major stars such that they could no longer perform at Hollywood venues like The Troubador or Whiskey-a-Go Go. Too many fans.

Then the show talks about the eventual decline of the groups. First came the death of Jim Morrison in 1971 in Paris (cause unknown), then the death of Mama Cass Eliot in 1974 (due to heart failure). Of course, heavy heroin use didn’t help much.

I’ve got my playlist on my iPhone set for the next month. Such a short time but a huge amount of music.

Ben Hur

June 3, 2020

So last week Ben Hur was mentioned at our weekly Bible study as an example of adult adoption. We were discussing the idea of Jesus being the adopted son of Joseph, a carpenter in Nazareth.

So we decided to watch the movie “Ben Hur” this week. The movie was released in early 1960. It is the story of Judah Ben Hur. The film runs about 3 hr and 45 minutes, so we decided to watch it over two days. Indeed there is an intermission half way. You don’t see that in films anymore. So we watched it in two sessions.

The movie is available to rent/buy from Amazon Prime streaming video. Click here for the Amazon Prime site.

“Ben Hur” won 11 Oscars, including Best Actor, Best Actor and Best Director. The movie stars Charlotte Heston, Jack Hawkins and Stephen Boyd. The movie was directed by William Wyler.

The movie starts with a parade of Romans bringing the new Roman governor to Judea. As Judah is watching from the rooftop, a tile is dislodged and falls right by the governor. Then the soldiers rush in and take Judah prisoner and send him to off to row in one of the Roman galleys.

So the galley sinks in a battle. So Judah manages to save Quintus Arrius, the captain of the galley. After they are rescued from the sea, Quintus Arrius repays Judah with his adoption.

The movie has several allusions to Jesus. The film is set in Judea. Judah Ben Hur is given water to drink by Jesus during his forced march to the fleet of galleys where he was put to work as a galley slave. Once again, he encounters Jesus during Jesus’ crucifixion march up Golgotha hill. This time Judah is the one providing water to the fallen Jesus.

In the end section of the movie Judah Ben Hur is seen searching for his Mother and sister. He finds her living in a leper colony not far from Judea. He brings her home where he cares for her and she is cured. Not clear how she is cured, perhaps a miracle. Click here to learn more about leprosy.

So we are watching many movies during the pandemic. Next up are “Dirty Dancing” and “Footloose” (Paula’s request). These are two of Paula’s faves.

Friday

April 10, 2020

Here we sit in our lockdown. Not going anywhere. Today is my turn to cook. So I decided to do beef stew. We’re getting lazy. It was almost 9 am when we got out of bed.

Luckily for us we thought of this when we last went shopping. Bought the stew beef, carrots, potatoes, celery and beef stock. Paula dug out the crock pot and I began work.

Our crockpot is over forty years old. We received it as a wedding present. Still works.

Not long ago, we discovered a product called crockpot liners made by Reynolds. You can find them in the supermarket food storage section. Makes clean up easier.

Every time I do this, I make it a bit different. Today’s version has carrots, celery, onion, potatoes and beef. Well it wouldn’t be beef stew without the beef. If you want details on the recipe, drop me A line.

Peel and cut up the carrots. Dice the onion and celery. Add to pot. I like to cut the beef down to smaller pieces than the butcher provides. Add to zip lock bag along with 1/2 c of flour. Brown in frying pan. Add the flour. Add to the pot. Add some beef stock. Turn it on and forget about it.

I can’t emphasize the last step enough. There have been times that I did all the prep work and forgot to turn it on. Oh crap.

In other news, we decided to watch a movie tonight. We decided on an oldie. “Support Your Local Sheriff” with James Garner.

Paula is continuing her deep dive into our picture archive. She has been putting the best pictures into albums and tossing the junk. I will be scanning some of my favorites to post on social media (blog, Facebook, etc,)

Stay safe

TTFN

Joe

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