Slumdog Millionaire

The news came out that the Raiders’ proposed move to Las Vegas had been approved by the NFL owners.  This was quite a change from 1982, when the commissioner and the other owners did not want teams to move.  I will find other things to do on Sundays besides watch football.  With the Warriors also set to move out of town, I am contemplating whether or not I should move myself.  I had to go to a training session, and I was called upon once and gave the right answer.  I put in an hour and twenty minutes of work afterwards and went home for a late lunch and to take a nap.  I sat around watching “Slumdog Millionaire.”  On the day after I saw “T2 Trainspotting,” I could see that Danny Boyle had stronger material to work with in making the earlier film.  I do think that the questions on the game show were improbable to the point of being very difficult to accept.  I thought that the final question about The Three Musketeers was not so hard for a question with that much money on the line.  It seemed that there was no penalty here for not paying attention in school.  If this story had been set in the United States, I imagine the brothers would have parted ways. Salim makes things miserable for Jamal with the autograph and the things he did to Latika.  Salim was just too cruel.  It’s fascinating to look back on Dev Patel a decade before “Lion.”  In “Slumdog Millionaire,” it feels like he is incomplete.  He has the observations of energetic youth, but he’s also single-minded.  I thought that Freida Pinto had a remarkable beauty on the screen, although she could have helped him out at the end.  One thing that caught my ear was how the game show host kept pronouncing “millun-aire.”  I thought the photography was impressive, and the look of it in high definition was excellent and better than how I remembered it from years ago on DVD.  I don’t know why the kids would play cricket on an airport runway.  I know that I wouldn’t risk my safety.  I thought the boys’ reaction to the death of their mother was somewhat unusual, but I guess they were conditioned to running away from danger, which the cricket sequence established.  They could see death instantly.  The movie doesn’t have a dull moment in two hours, and I like watching it, although I can’t take it seriously when one of the main messages is “It is written.”  I just cannot believe in that kind of a world.  I watched the Supergirl episode “Distant Sun,” and I felt a bit tired of watching the relationships.  Mon-El was irritating, and Maggie’s actions made no sense to me.  I wasn’t looking forward to the possible return of Teri Hatcher in the future.  Some of the people who died on March 29 include Joyce Cary (1957), Paul Henreid (1992), Bill Travers (1994), Alistair Cooke (2004), Maurice Jarre (2009), Luke Askew (2012), and Patty Duke (2016).  Today is a birthday for Lucy Lawless (49), Elle Macpherson (53), and Brandon Gleeson (62).  According to the Brandon Brooks Rewind radio segment for March 29, “Some Like It Hot,” starring Jack Lemmon, Tony Curtis, and Marilyn Monroe, was released in 1959.  In 1982, “Chariots of Fire” won the Best Picture Oscar, Henry Fonda won the Best Actor Oscar, and Katharine Hepburn won the Best Actress Oscar, both for “On Golden Pond.”  In 1993, “Unforgiven” won the Best Picture Oscar, and Al Pacino won the Best Actor Oscar for “Scent of a Woman.”

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T2 Trainspotting

I woke up a bit later than usual and missed forty-five minutes of the CBS Sunday Morning show.  I missed the segment on Wonder Woman but did catch the segments on phone booths and Danny DeVito.  My parents phoned me and talked about the rain and income taxes.  I shopped at Trader Joe’s and returned home to watch the first hour of “Ishtar.”  I didn’t know that Martin Scorsese was a fan of the movie.  Isabelle Adjani was not so appealing.  I walked to the theatre to see “T2 Trainspotting.”  I barely remembered seeing the original movie.  I thought Ewan McGregor was better in this film than he was in the Star Wars films.  The guy who was Spud reminded me of a guy who used to work in one of the local record stores back in the 1980s.  I thought he was also like one of the Road Warrior characters.  One of the funny scenes had Mark and Sick Boy singing in front of a crowd of people.  They had a way of getting their hands on a lot of cash.  Begbie was a scary character.  He reminded me of George Kennedy in “Thunderbolt and Lightfoot.”  Apparently, one of the character had a huge DVD collection.  Was it Sick Boy?  The movie did remind me of what a good record Blondie’s “Dreaming” was compared with the crappy records that came out in 1979.  The Clash was an important band during those years, too.  It seemed like “(White Man) In Hammersmith Palais” was an anthem.  I could not believe all those people singing along to Queen’s “Radio Ga Ga.”  I’m not sure if I would have appreciated this film more if I had gone back and seen the original again.  I thought this movie was a cut above the crappy pictures I see a lot of.  Danny Boyle is older than I am, so I can look at his accomplishments without feeling too bad about myself.  Since the first Trainspotting, he has directed “Millions,” “Slumdog Millionaire,” “127 Hours,” and “Steve Jobs.”  I think he has been a good director.  Some of the people who died on March 28 include Virginia Woolf (1941), Sergei Rachmaninov (1943), Jim Thorpe (1953), Dwight D. Eisenhower (1969), Emmett Kelly (1979), Marc Chagall (1985), Eugene Ionesco (1994), Art James (2004), Peter Ustinov (2004), and Earl Scruggs (2012).  Today is a birthday for Nick Frost (45), Vince Vaughn (47), and Reba McEntire (62).

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Personal Shopper

I awoke early and watched CBS This Morning.  One segment was about the success of Domino’s Pizza.  I also watched the chef segment.  Some of Andy Husbands’ signature recipes include Butcher Paper Brisket, Classic Macaroni and Cheese, Cornbread with Butter, Honey, and Sea Salt, Spicy Collards, Gold Sauce, Pickled Jalapeño, Half-Sour Pickles, Old-Fashioned Southern Caramel Cake, Southern Caramel Icing, and Day Drinking with Sweet Tea.  I looked up the American Top 40 playlist for the weekend.  The Top 10 songs on March 20, 1976 were “Disco Lady,” “Junk Food Junkie,” “Dream On,” “Sweet Thing,” “Love Machine,” “Lonely Night (Angel Face),” “Take It to the Limit,” “Dream Weaver,” “All By Myself,” and “December, 1963 (Oh, What a Night).”  I went to the theatre to see “Personal Shopper” with Kristen Stewart.  It was a strange story of a young woman named Maureen, who bought dresses and jewelry in the shops in Paris as she also tried to contact her dead twin brother.  As I watched, I became curious about how much screen time Maureen’s phone got in the film as we had to read a lot of texts.  I hated to think about the dominance of the cell phone in people’s lives in the modern age.  Maureen’s texts didn’t show anything exceptional about her character, and in fact showed how lame these messages are, generally.  She didn’t always use punctuation marks correctly.  It all made me think that perhaps I would like to get a new phone of my own.  This was the day that a new BART station opened in Warm Springs, but as I watched Maureen traveling around in trains and on her motorbike, it seemed that she was taking advantage of a better transportation system.  The topic of Victor Hugo made its way into this story, bringing to mind the Truffaut films “The Story of Adele H” and “The Green Room.”  Kristen Stewart’s hair was distracting.  In the old days of movies, women’s hair looked like it was always perfect, no matter if it made sense or not.  Maureen was supposed to have a gift, although that gift wasn’t being a likable and interesting individual.  Kristen Stewart was rather cold, although I can’t say that she isn’t willing to try something different.  This was supposed to be a ghost story for the new millennium, sort of the equivalent of “Let the Right One In,” I guess.  I would have thought that a ghost might try communicating through Morse code instead of the incessant tapping.  Some people seemed to like “Personal Shopper” quite a bit.  It did not excite me very much.  I don’t believe in ghosts.  I went home and watched episodes of All in the Family, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, and M*A*S*H.  “The Manchurian Candidate” was on television.  Laurence Harvey was great in the movie, and I even liked watching Frank Sinatra.  I had forgotten that Janet Leigh was in it, too.  I kept thinking that security for a party convention would be much tighter now, more than fifty years later.  No one should be able to sneak a rifle into Madison Square Garden.  The movie does have some troubling new meanings to it in light of the Trump presidency and the Putin connection.  The movie that followed was John Huston’s “Beat the Devil,” with Humphrey Bogart in one of his last roles.  Peter Lorre and Gina Lollobrigida were in the cast.  Some of the people who died on March 27 include M.C. Escher (1972), Ian Dury (2000), Milton Berle (2002), Dudley Moore (2002), Billy Wilder (2002), Paul Zindel (2003), and Farley Granger (2011).  Today is a birthday for Quentin Tarantino (54).

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Song to Song

Work made me unhappy.  I returned home in the rain and ate a salad and then headed out to the theatre to see “Song to Song,” the new Terrence Malick film.  It seemed highly similar to “Knight of Cups.”  Natalie Portman and Cate Blanchett were in it, but Christian Bale was not and Benicio Del Toro was not.  Ryan Gosling, Michael Fassbender, Val Kilmer, and Holly Hunter also appeared, as well as people from music, such as Patti Smith, Iggy Pop, and John Lydon.  This isn’t the type of movie that is dramatic or is emotionally involving with rich characters and witty dialogue.  Malick does throw a lot of images at us, and many of them are fascinating and beautiful.  He does show us a lot of curtains and close-ups of faces and some underwater moments that we’ve felt that we’ve seen before.  Malick seems to do all his shooting at places that are deserted.  I didn’t know that so many places could be so empty in Austin.  I liked this film a bit more than “Knight of Cups,” although I noticed that the woman sitting in front of me in the theatre walked out halfway through.  It did feel like it ran about two hours too long.  Malick said that his initial cut was eight hours long, which is frightening.  I might actually like to see it, though.  I thought that “The Tree of Life” was a good film, but it feels again that Malick is coasting on the reputation he made for himself with “Badlands” and “Days of Heaven.”  I thought that Patti Smith was the most memorable person in the film, just by mentioning her marriage which lasted from 1980 to 1994.  Val Kilmer didn’t look like the Val Kilmer in “The Doors.”  I’m going to predict that “Song to Song” is not going to be a blockbuster hit.  The audience reaction appeared to be unenthusiastic.  Maybe I’m really stupid, but I’m looking forward to the next Terrence Malick film.  I’m not expecting a masterpiece, but I think it might be worth watching.  I hope that Malick hasn’t alienated everyone at this point, so that I can at least have the chance to see these films.  He is already 73 years old, so I have to wonder how much longer his directing career is going to last even without the debates over the quality of his work.  I went home, where the LEGO Batman figures I’d ordered were in my mailbox.  I watched the Big Bang Theory episode about the time machine, and then the Partridge Family episode “The Strike Out King.”  I saw Laurie peeling an orange but not eating it.  I watched “Airport ‘79” and thought it was really terrible.  It was sad that Cicely Tyson and Martha Raye were in it.  Some of the people who died on March 26 include Ludwig von Beethoven (1827), Raymond Chandler (1959), John Kennedy Toole (1969), B. Traven (1969), Noel Coward (1973), Eazy-E (1995), and Robert Fagles (2008).  Today is a birthday for Jennifer Grey (57), Martin Short (67), Steven Tyler (69), Diana Ross (73), and James Caan (77).  According to the Brandon Brooks Rewind radio segment for March 26, “Funny Girl” with Barbra Streisand opened on Broadway in 1964.  In 1969, “A Matter of Humanities,” the Marcus Welby pilot, aired on ABC.  In 1989, the first episode of “Quantum Leap” aired on NBC.

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Roma

I graded some exams and gave my short lecture, which gave me time to head to the record store.  I bought the Criterion Collection Blu-ray edition of “The Red Shoes,” and I bought a Beatles CD.  I found that most of the stuff that I had ordered over the Internet had arrived, my turntable, the Police Story DVDs, and the Partridge Family comic book.  I watched Fellini’s “Roma” on Blu-ray.  This was one case where a restoration and high definition made a difference.  The improved quality made it a more enjoyable movie, compared with my memory of it from decades past.  There were some similarities with “Amarcord.”  There were quite a few prostitutes in this film.  One of the memorable scenes was the discovery of the underground frescoes.  I liked the color photography.  I really liked the ecclesiastical fashion show.  The appearance of Gore Vidal reminded me of the technical shortcomings of many a foreign film when it comes to sound.  I really hate the obvious dubbing.  The special features of the disc include deleted scenes, the most interesting of which was the appearance of Marcello Mastroianni.  He said that he had nothing to say about what Rome meant to him.  Roger Ebert gave the movie a four star review in 1972.  The Criterion Collection edition is good enough to make you want to take another look at it.  Some of the people who died on March 25 include Claude Debussy (1918), Max Ophuls (1957), Nancy Walker (1992), and Buck Owens (2006).  Today is a birthday for Danica Patrick (35), Elton John (70), Paul Michael Glaser (74), Aretha Franklin (75), and Gloria Steinem (83).  According to the Brandon Brooks Rewind radio segment for March, Elvis Presley performed a benefit concert at Bloch Arena in 1961 to raise money of a USS Arizona memorial, raising $54,000.  In 1967, The Who made their U.S. concert debut at the RKO 58th Street Theater in New York City.  In 2005, Jennifer Aniston filed for divorce from Brad Pitt.

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Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

I felt that I had a long day, having to do work that I didn’t want to do.  On the way home, I stopped to have a hamburger.  Back at home, I watched the DVD of “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.”  I had forgotten that I had already seen it.  When I saw that scene with the bratty girl throwing ice cream at Elizabeth Taylor, most of the movie came back to me.  Reportedly, Tennessee Williams disliked the film because the references to homosexuality that were originally in the play had been removed.  One of the real weaknesses of the movie is that the relationship between Brick and Skipper is unclear and seems to lack meaning.  Of course, we never even see Skipper, which is another weakness.  Paul Newman received an Oscar nomination for his performance as Brick, although I wouldn’t say that this was an example of his best work.  His Southern accent wasn’t entirely convincing.  His opening scene was something like his first scene in “Cool Hand Luke.”  In a drunken state, he experiences misfortune.  The film was shot in color, and one reason was to show off the stars, Paul Newman and Elizabeth Taylor with their attractive eyes.  Elizabeth Taylor does look exceptionally beautiful, and it’s rather funny how she shows off her legs early on in the picture.  Burl Ives has a strong presence on the screen.  Madeleine Sherwood was Mae, and she was a memorable character in the story, as she eavesdropped on conversations and had eyes on Big Daddy’s fortune.  During my childhood, I remembered her as the Mother Superior in “The Flying Nun.”  Reading about her on the Internet, she died just last year, on April 23, 2016, at age 93.  I thought Mae was too abrasive and distracting a character, at least as she was in the movie version.  Also, I don’t know how it worked on the stage, but in this picture the word “mendacity” is repeated too many times.  There must be a screenwriter’s rule about how many times you can repeat certain elements in a script before the audience becomes annoyed with it.  Brick had a way of destroying things, like his marriage and his crutches.  He was trying to drive away in the rain in a convertible.  I’ll never understand why, even in his drunken state, he would smash those items in the cellar that looked like it was out of “Citizen Kane.”  How much sympathy does the audience have for someone who drinks all the time and can’t seem to pull himself together?  He seems fortunate to be married to someone like Elizabeth Taylor, but he wallows in his unhappiness.  There is a kind of rooting interest in that you’d like to see anyone deny Mae and her family from getting rich.  Tennessee Williams said, “It is planned speeches that contain lies or dissimulations, not what you blurt out so spontaneously in one instant.”  Brick has one of those moments where he blurts out something that turns the course of effects.  In real life, such people are terrible, and you feel like killing them.  This movie was a big hit, and Elizabeth Taylor was a big attraction.  Her work on the film was remarkable, considering that her husband died at the start of the filming.  The movie does feel like a play, as the characters are inside that house during the storm.  I am not so enthusiastic about this movie.  I liked Elizabeth Taylor and Burl Ives, but not much else.  It was sad to see Big Mama holding that birthday cake.  The original Broadway cast had Barbara Bel Geddes as Maggie, Ben Gazzara as Brick, and Burl Ives as Big Daddy.  Madeleine Sherwood was also in that cast.  Looking over that list, I prefer watching Newman rather than Gazzara.  The DVD had an audio commentary from Donald Spoto that was informative.  The movie was released in 1958, which doesn’t seem like it was long ago to me, but the content was certainly different than what it would be if the film were made today.  I can’t imagine who would play Maggie.  I never saw the television versions with Natalie Wood and Jessica Lange.  Some of the people who died on March 24 include Jules Verne (1905), Ray Goulding (1990), John Hersey (1993), Richard Widmark (2008), and Robert Culp (2010).  Today is a birthday for Jessica Chastain (40) and Jim Parsons (44).  According to the Brandon Brooks Rewind radio segment for March 24, The O’Jays reached Number One on the singles chart in 1973 with “Love Train.”  In 1975, Chuck Wepner fought Muhammad Ali in Richfield, Ohio, going fifteen rounds in the title fight.  In 1986, “Out of Africa” won the Academy Award for Best Picture, while William Hurt, Geraldine Page, Don Ameche, and Anjelica Huston won the acting Oscars.  In 1997, Harold Melvin died in Philadelphia at age 57.

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The Guns of Navarone

I was surprised that the sky cleared up in the afternoon.  I sat in front of the office computer and wondered if I could make a 3D printing figurine of myself.  I also thought about turning myself into a cartoon character for a short film.  In it, I innocently go out to see a movie and end up destroying the world.  I gave my lecture and headed home.  I saw a Big Bang Theory episode that involved a Planet of the Apes marathon.  I watched “The Guns of Navarone,” which was one of those impossible mission stories set in World War II.  Gregory Peck and others thought of it as an antiwar movie, although I don’t know what the audience thought.  One of the early scenes showed a German boat stopping the crew.  The encounter was something like what happened in “Apocalypse Now.”  The cliff looked impossible to climb, and I didn’t see how all the men could go up with the rope and deal with the wet surface.  Everyone except for James Darren looked too old for this task.  Well, Anthony Quayle didn’t get through that part unscathed.  It also seemed that with all the Germans in the world pursuing them, they would have been stopped rather quickly.  You’d think that the bombs and machine guns would have been deadly.  Having stars like Anthony Quinn and David Niven, along with Gregory Peck, made a difference in lifting this film above the ordinary.  The main characters make a strong impression, whereas the women and the Nazis are anonymous.  I don’t know if they should have killed that first guard, which it alerted the Germans to their presence.  They should have suspected a traitor in their midst perhaps around the time that they were spotted at the wedding.  Darren has a scene in which he sings.  As with The Magnificent Seven, some of these heroes are not going to survive.  Peck was supposed to be coldblooded in his tactics, but by today’s standards he was practically a pussycat.  There was some philosophy about the meaningless of war with everyone being used like pawns, although I would say that it wasn’t like seeing “The Thin Red Line” again.  The explosion at the end looked like it was enough to destroy the entire village, with Quayle and the married couple included.  It looked an old time special effects sequence.  I still like this movie, although I don’t know if it really deserved a Best Picture Oscar nomination.  I never saw “Force 10 From Navarone,” although I heard that it was horrible.  I think I would have liked “The Guns of Navarone” on the late show during the seventies.  The DVD edition had a second disc which had special features, none of which I saw.  The movie itself was enough for me.  Some of the people who died on March 23 include Peter Lorre (1964), Edwin O’Connor (1968), Giulietta Masina (1994), Elizabeth Taylor (2011), Joe Garagiola (2016), and Ken Howard (2016).  Today is a birthday for Keri Russell (41) and Chaka Khan (64).  According to the Brandon Brooks Rewind radio segment for March 23, “Truth or Consequences” made its debut on NBC radio in 1940.  In 1973, New York judge Ira Fieldsteel ruled that John Lennon had to leave the United States within 60 days.  In 1985, John Fogerty reached Number One on the album chart with “Centerfield.”  In 1999, Ricky Martin’s single “Livin’ la Vida Loca” was released.  In 2011, Elizabeth Taylor died of congestive heart failure at age 79 at the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.

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