Love the Coopers

I woke up and watched CBS Sunday Morning. They showed a segment about plastic food, and someone interviewed Cloris Leachman. There was a half-marathon in town, so major streets were closed, and the buses weren’t running. After going out grocery shopping, I sat down to watch the Partridge Family episodes “Road Song” and “Not with My Sister, You Don’t.” The second episode featured “I’ll Meet You Halfway.” I watched some of the Raiders game against the Lions. They were ahead, 13-9, in the fourth quarter, but the game began to slip away when they gave up a touchdown. I took the bus to Jack London Square, where everybody was going to see the Hunger Games movie. I was there to see “Love the Coopers,” which seemed to combine elements of “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” and “Little Miss Sunshine.” The cast was a very good one, with Diane Keaton, John Goodman, Olivia Wilde, Marisa Tomei, Alan Arkin, Amanda Seyfried, June Squibb, and Ed Helms. I thought it was good to see Diane Keaton in a movie again, although I found it hard to believe that her character was married to John Goodman, whose character’s name was Sam. What I kept thinking about while watching Goodman was that age was apparent in his voice. Keaton, or Charlotte, was a former hippie, which made me think of Keaton’s role in “Hair.” She supposedly once met Bob Dylan, and some of the key songs on the soundtrack are “Girl from the North Country,” “Buckets of Rain,” and “If Not for You.” I thought those were curious song selections. I’ll have to say that I liked Sam’s new lyrics to Christmas carols. Most of the characters are paired in opposite sex combinations to have conversations about themselves, and I thought the movie spent too much with Olivia Wilde, the daughter Eleanor who lingers in the airport, hesitant to come home. I can’t stand it when a character tells us how great some music is supposed to be, and this time it’s Nina Simone singing the Bee Gees’ “To Love Somebody.” I wouldn’t call that recording life-changing, and I wouldn’t even say that it is better than Al Green singing “How Can You Mend a Broken Heart.” I got tired of Marisa Tomei, too. June Squibb was the wacky aunt, who seemed like she should have been the wacky grandmother out of “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.” Ed Helms is around to add to the National Lampoon atmosphere. His problem is that he’s out of work. Goodman’s problem is his marriage to Charlotte. He agrees to hold it together for a final Christmas, which is reminiscent of something I read in Jonathan Franzen. There are young people who find love in a mall, and Amanda Seyfried is a waitress in search of a fresh start in life. Her situation with Alan Arkin looking on reminded me of Denzel Washington in “The Equalizer.” They talked about movies like “City Lights,” however. The audience seemed to think they were looking at too many white people, so the one non-white person in the cast was Anthony Mackie as Officer Williams. I’d say he had a rather weak role in the film. Role playing is annoying in real life, and he was pushed into doing a bit of it in his patrol car. The movie was filmed in Pittsburgh, and the photography made it look like a pretty good place to live, if too cold and snowy for me. The audience reacted to the dog eating the food. The movie was about the women and their problems. It feels like the men are in the background. I thought that was the influence of the director. Alan Arkin’s character Bucky has a health problem at the conclusion, bringing to mind briefly “Little Miss Sunshine.” It does feel like a contrived plot point, though, as the movie was running too long at that point. The movie generally wasn’t convincing to many in the audience, although I didn’t think it was a bad movie. I thought it should have gone in the direction of wild comedy rather than having moments of seriousness with reflections on life and relationships. I didn’t see anything insightful or fresh in what Marisa Tomei, Olivia Wilde, or Diane Keaton had to say. The last comment I heard from someone in the audience was that Steve Martin didn’t sound like Steve Martin. I didn’t think that Dylan’s “If Not for You” was a song you could dance to. Like a lot of people, I first heard it from George Harrison’s “All Things Must Pass” album, although Olivia Newton-John also recorded it. The movie was mildly amusing, and it got some light applause from the audience after it was over. It wasn’t quite a family movie, which I think irritated some people. This movie did make me think again about whether I should go out to see “The Night Before.” I may have seen enough of holiday movies for this year already. It took me about an hour to return home on the buses. I listened to the Robert Hilburn Rock ‘n’ Roll Times radio program on KCSN, and he played tracks from Bobby Darin, including “Beyond the Sea,” “Artificial Flowers,” and “If I Were a Carpenter.” Since the songs were so short, more than twenty songs fit into one hour. I watched a bit of 60 Minutes and thought the segment about the money system in Kenya was interesting. It was almost somewhat alarming because I didn’t know what was going to happen with my money in the future. Most of the transactions were of small amounts. I had a feeling of more sweeping changes about to hit the world. The Columbo episode of the night was “The Most Dangerous Match,” starring Laurence Harvey and Lloyd Bochner. I sometimes confuse those two actors with each other, so it was funny to see them both in the same program. I was too sleepy to stay up and watch the conclusion to this mystery. No chess player could hope to outthink Columbo. I heard that the Warriors won their game in Denver, so now they’re set to face the Lakers on Tuesday. How many good teams are there in the entire NBA? The good thing about this work week is that it’s only three days. It was so difficult to get up out of bed during this cold morning. Some of the people who died on November 23 include Merle Oberon (1979), Roald Dahl (1990), Klaus Kinski (1991), Louis Malle (1995), Junior Walker (1995), and Betty Comden (2006). Today is a birthday for Robin Roberts (55). According to the Brandon Brooks Rewind radio segment for November 23, “Doctor Who” debuted on BBC. In 1966, the Elvis Presley movie “Spinout” had its premiere. In 1991, Michael Bolton reached Number One on the singles chart with “When a Man Loves a Woman.”

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