A Most Violent Year

I watched CBS This Morning and the chef segment. Brian Malarkey’s signature recipes were Scallops and celeriac with bourbon herbed brown butter cherries, beet and brussels and endive with marcona almonds and ricotta salada and tangerine vinaigrette, carb-free crab cakes with chervil and charred meyer lemon aioli, cauliflower steak and kumquat jam, coconut-filled brownies, and Peter Rabbit cocktails. I went out to do my laundry, listening to one of my neighbors talk about how difficult life is. I went out to the office and thought about next week’s work. I looked at the American Top 40 playlist for this weekend. The Top 10 songs from February 28, 1976 were “Love Hurts,” “Lonely Night (Angel Face),” “Dream Weaver,” “Take It to the Limit,” “You Sexy Thing,” “December 1963 (Oh What a Night),” “All By Myself,” “Love Machine (Part 1),” “50 Ways to Leave Your Lover,” and “Theme from ‘S.W.A.T.’” I walked over to the theatre that was showing “A Most Violent Year.” I thought it was an interesting movie, although I noticed that a few people walked out on it. They thought it was boring. Jessica Chastain was a woman with a tough outlook, willing to use a gun. She made me think that she was in the middle of “Goodfellas.” She was able to look through the accounting records of the family business and know what was going on. The conflict comes from an arrangement to purchase some land. Her husband has to come up with one and a half million dollars within thirty days. Legal problems and actions by the competitors are complicating things. The pressure is on from different sides. The police are investigating. The teamsters want the drivers to be protected. Chastain’s husband reminded me of Al Pacino, and this movie made me think of Sidney Lumet. It was supposed to take place in 1981, when Lumet released “Prince of the City.” It seemed that people were getting hit in the face a lot in this movie, and it seemed that we in the audience were getting hit in the face, too. We see how difficult the American Dream is. It would appear that working hard is not enough, because you have to get past the roadblocks. Albert Brooks didn’t seem to be the lawyer type in the past, and I found it hard to accept him doing anything other than comedy. He’s changed, though, and he’s not the same person he was in “Broadcast News” or “Defending Your Life.” I wouldn’t say that I was rooting for the underdog here. I just wanted him to survive. There was a memorable scene where the couple is in their car, and they hit a deer. I had the feeling that some of this material came out of the Coen brothers book. If all American businesses are that viciously competitive, there was too much destruction going on during that early part of the Reagan era. One sequence is the pursuit of the hijackers of one of the heating oil tank trucks. The chase goes from foot to subway, bringing to mind “The French Connection.” The ending was different, though, because the pursuer wasn’t Gene Hackman. It’s been a while since I’ve seen “Margin Call.” I think there was a similar tension to that earlier movie. I had to think that someone was going to die I the end. Some small person was going to get crushed by all the events. When you’re desperate, your values get tested. There is a scary suggestion at the end that acquiring a bit of wealth means your power is going to quickly get out of control. I thought of the James Caan film “The Gambler” and what a dangerous position that character was in. I found “A Most Violent Year” an exhausting movie to watch. It’s so hard to make money in real life that I knew what those struggles were like. What kind of parents were these two people? All I could recall about their kids was a birthday party. Jessica had to end it early because the cops were there to search the place. She handed out some parting treats, though. The cop was the guy who was Martin Luther King in “Selma.” He was a decent actor, but not compelling like Yaphet Kotto was. This movie did have an unusual feel to it. It was more interesting than something like “American Hustle.” I kept thinking that you can have the property, but you’ve still got to work like hell to maintain your business and be able to pay off those loans. Jessica Chastain was nominated for an Oscar for this movie, but I liked watching her in “Zero Dark Thirty” much more. I felt for the driver who said he felt vulnerable and kept running away from bad situations. There is no winning for the little guy. The audience for this late afternoon showing was rather rude. The two people sitting to my left kept whispering, and there were some other old people who couldn’t stop talking. This was one of the better movies I’ve seen in recent weeks. I would rather see this one than “Insurgent.” I would rather watch Jessica Chastain in a movie than Keira Knightley. I still like Julianne Moore, however. After all, she was in both “Boogie Nights” and “The Big Lebowski.” I went over to the record store and bought a copy of the Beatles’ “Magical Mystery Tour.” Back at home, I watched the Stan Lee episode of The Big Bang Theory. The Star Trek episode had Mr. Spock going back to Vulcan to participate in a mating ritual. The woman sure didn’t seem logical to me. Why do the Vulcans have a challenge to the death at all, anyway? Spock showed his human side, smiling at the end. Me TV showed a graphic paying tribute to Leonard Nimoy. I finished watching Peter Brooks’ “King Lear.” Some of the people who died on March 1 include Gregory La Cava (1952), Jackie Coogan (1984), and Jack Wild (2006). Today is a birthday for Ron Howard (61), Dirk Benedict (70), Roger Daltrey (71), Robert Conrad (80), and Harry Belafonte (88). According to the Brandon Brooks Rewind radio segment for March 1, Jim Morrison was arrested for indecent exposure during a concert in Miami in 1969. In 1972, Merle Haggard was pardoned by California governor Ronald Reagan. In 1977, Sara Dylan filed for divorce. In 1991, the movie “The Doors” with Val Kilmer was released.

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