In the Name of the Sea

I got a phone call from my mother telling me that they had a brown leather jacket and a backpack for me. It was raining early in the morning, so I didn’t feel like going out grocery shopping. I watched a bit of a Bergman film over the Internet, and the rain stopped. When I tried to catch the 1 bus, the idiot driver didn’t stop at the stop, so I had to wait an extra 20 minutes. I got to the theatre at Jack London Square about 15 minutes before the start of the movie, but the place wasn’t crowded. I guess people were at home watching the Raiders game, and they weren’t too anxious to see a movie about a whale, anyway. It was called “In the Name of the Sea,” and it was about a true incident that inspired Herman Melville to write “Moby Dick.” This was a big Ron Howard movie with a big budget. I’m not sure why this movie was projected to outdraw the Hunger Games movie this weekend. The liberal audience in my area couldn’t have been comfortable with the scenes of spearing the whales and gutting them. Chris Hemsworth is the star of the show. He is Owen Chase, the first mate of the Essex, looking to become a captain. He leaves his pregnant wife to so out whale hunting. The conflict he has with the young Captain Pollard reminded me of Mel Gibson in “The Bounty” in 1984. I didn’t like the structure of the story, told in flashback from the last survivor of the Essex. It happened in 1820, and the present day was supposed to be 1850. One of the scenes that stayed in my mind was the boy being lowered into the inside of the whale to cut into it. It was supposed to stink horribly, but of course you can’t convey smell across on film unless you use John Waters’ Smell-O-Vision. It’s not easy for the men of the Essex to find whales, so they take a chance in going to remote waters. There’s a point there about driving the whales to near extinction that is not strongly made. They face disaster, of course, The movie has elements of “Jaws” and “Life of Pi.” The action scenes have a few impressive moments, but knowing that it is CGI detracts from them a lot. The survivors are on three boats, and they land on an island before having to go on for their ultimate survival. They’re dying of hunger, and a couple of the scenes reminded me of a Monty Python skit. I couldn’t help it, but I couldn’t take any of this seriously. I thought it was annoying to introduce Herman Melville as a character, about to turn this desperation and tragedy into a novel. I had to think of him as a stand-in for the people making this movie, especially Ron Howard. We wanted to focus on the men on the ship and not the writer. I kept thinking about what a waste it was to kill those whales when the oil was gone in the wreck. The whale almost had a human mind as a protector, perhaps even getting revenge. The movie drags out its ending. I think it would have been sufficient to end it with the return of the survivors, but then we had to see an inquiry. That’s exactly what we didn’t want to see, more procedures and hearings. The movie got a lukewarm response from the audience. I understand that it has been a disappointment at the box office already, considering how expensive it was. I’m not sure what the reasoning behind giving the project the green light was. It felt like a big classroom lesson with limited entertainment possibilities. It was tiring to watch. For some reason, the first 3D screening of the day was at 4 o’clock, so I had to skip it. I imagine people weren’t anxious to pay an extra $3 for the 3D. It felt like people were really waiting for next weekend for the Star Wars movie. I wondered if this movie would be damaging to Ron Howard’s career. It felt like he was losing touch with the average movie fan. I returned home and watched the end of the Raiders game in Denver. I saw Vernon Davis drop a fourth-down pass that ended the Broncos’ last real chance to win the game. I listened to the Robert Hilburn Rock ‘n’ Roll Times radio program on KCSN. The theme of the show was Stax Records recordings. The highlight was Otis Redding’s “Try a Little Tenderness.” The use of horns on some of these songs was remarkable. I watched the J.J. Abrams segment on 60 Minutes. I don’t suppose I could apply for a job with Bad Robot. He got the endorsement of Steven Spielberg to direct this Star Wars movie. I watched the beginning of the Columbo episode “Double Exposure” with Robert Culp. There was a bit of evidence that he should have promptly destroyed. This was an episode in which Columbo used trickery rather than reasoning to get the incriminating evidence. The Patriots looked too good for the Texans in the late game. How many NFL teams do well on offense? Houston wasn’t able to do much. The night turned cold, so I brought out extra blankets as I went to bed. I really hated the idea of returning to work on a freezing Monday morning. I felt like sleeping until noon. Some of the people who died on December 14 include George Washington (1799), Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings (1953), Dinah Washington (1963), Roger Maris (1985), Myrna Loy (1993), Norman Fell (1998), Ahmet Ertegun (2006), and Mike Evans (2006). Today is a birthday for Dee Wallace (66) and Patty Duke (69). According to the Brandon Brooks Rewind radio segment for December 14, “The Towering Inferno,” starring Steve McQueen and Paul Newman, was released in 1974. In 1989, “Glory, starring Denzel Washington, Morgan Freeman, and Matthew Broderick, was released. In 1990, the Tim Burton film “Edward Scissorhands,” starring Johnny Depp and Winona Ryder, was released.

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