Proud Mary

I went to work and went through a busy shift.  I returned home and ate a burrito for a late lunch.  I went over to the movie theatre and bought a ticket for “Proud Mary” and a cherry Icee.  For a while, I thought I would be the only person in the place for the 3:25 showing, but a few other people did finally show up.  The opening music was the Temptations’ “Papa Was a Rollin’ Stone,” and the movie had the feeling of a 1970s film.  I don’t really remember Pam Grier or “Shaft” or “Jackie Brown,” but this movie was better than most exploitation films.  Taraji P. Henson played Mary, who kills a man but comes to befriend his young son a year later.  I thought Henson was pretty convincing in her action star role, although what she did seemed impossible.  She was a one-woman killing machine once she got going.  Her attempt at parenting looked like it was doomed.  She had to know that leaving a kid in an empty apartment was going to lead to problems. She should have changed the lock, too.  Danny Glover was the only person in the cast I knew from earlier movies.  I thought he was quite good in his role, although Al Pacino will always be the definitive crime boss in the movies.  Like Pacino, Mary gets pulled back in after she expresses a desire to leave.  It struck me just how vicious Mary was.  That made me think that this might be a good movie for some women to watch so that they can vent some anger towards men, particularly in the current atmosphere.  I didn’t read the latest about the complaints about James Franco.  The title of this movie comes from the classic Creedence Clearwater Revival song, which is on the soundtrack in the form of Ike and Tina Turner.  “Proud Mary” isn’t going to be regarded as a great movie in future years, at least not to my mind.  I would say that it was better movie than the “Shaft” remake or something like “Atomic Blonde.”  I’m not too sure that I would want to see a sequel.  It looks like the reviews have been negative.  I thought back on Gena Rowlands in “Gloria” in 1980, and that’s what this movie resembled.  Taraji P. Henson may go on to do better movies than this one.  I left the theatre not satisfied, but the movie wasn’t that bad.  I went over to the record store and bought a copy of The Beatles’ “Help!”  I watched the Partridge Family episode “Why Did the Music Stop?”  The guest star was Richard Mulligan.  Shirley said that her number was in the book, reminding me how long ago this was.  Laurie called Mulligan “Dr. Groovy.”  She did some knitting and peeled some potatoes.  I didn’t want to watch the news, with Donald Trump’s comments about countries.  Was there anyone in the world who wasn’t offended by his statement?  Maybe some people in Norway didn’t feel too bad.  Some of the people who died on January 13 include Stephen Foster (1864), Wyatt Earp (1929), James Joyce (1941), Ernie Kovacs (1962), Hubert Humphrey (1978), Donny Hathaway (1979), Carol Wayne (1985), Patrick McGoohan (2009), Teddy Pendergrass (2010), and Dick Gautier (2017).  Today is a birthday for Michael Peña (42) and Julia Louis-Dreyfus (57).  According to the Brandon Brooks Rewind radio segment for January 13, the Bugs Bunny cartoon “Herr Meets Hare” was released in 1945.  In 1968, Johnny Cash performed two shows at Folsom State Prison.  In 1977, Queen began the A Day at the Races concert tour at the Milwaukee Auditorium.

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The Greatest Showman

I went out to the office to view a webinar that wasn’t especially useful to me in my work.  I went out to Home Depot to buy a wood board that I could use for my closet.  After I returned home, I walked over to the theatre and bought a ticket for “The Greatest Showman.”  With everyone back at work or school, the place was deserted.  Just before the start of the movie, Hugh Jackman and Michael Gracey appeared on the screen for a message that this was the way movies were meant to be seen, on the big screen with an audience.  I laughed, because the screen wasn’t so big, and I was the only person present for this screening, so it was something like seeing the movie on television.  This movie felt like something of a relic, coming a few months after the demise of the biggest circus around.  The young P.T. Barnum didn’t impress me, as he got into a bit of trouble which resulted in a slap across the face, and he also got caught stealing food.  If he were really sharp, he wouldn’t have got caught, like the kids in “Oliver!”  The scenes showing the struggle to rise above poverty in the big city reminded me of “West Side Story.”  Not everyone in the circus was a freak.  The bearded lady reminded me of Divine.  Barnum’s wife was played by Michelle Williams.  One of the songs was reminiscent of Bruce Springsteen’s “Dancing in the Dark.”  At least that’s what it sounded like to me.  If Anne Hathaway had been given the role of Jenny Lind, this movie would have been more like “Les Misérables.”  I wondered how many people didn’t do their own singing.  Sometimes the world of the movie was too much of a fantasy.  When all the bedsheets were moving in unison during one number, that was too incredible for me.  Zac Efron sounded like a totally different person during the movie, and he did some impossible things.  The movie had a couple too many messages stuffed inside, about racism and the rights of the minority.  Hugh Jackman’s American accent didn’t sound natural, but it was better than Mel Gibson in “Daddy’s Home 2.”  The movie really blasted its way into my ears, and I wished the music hadn’t been done in a contemporary style.  The elephants looked like they were CGI, which was a real shame.  I thought about the circus elephants that appeared in “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.”  Jackman seemed to put his heart and soul into this role.  He didn’t convince me that Jenny Lind had him entranced because this man had seen a lot.  From the events of the movie, the real geniuses were Barnum’s daughters, as they suggested that their father had too many dead and stuffed animals.  This was a pretty enjoyable movie that got past people’s attention because the Star Wars movie was out there.  I wouldn’t give Hugh Jackman an Oscar nomination for this picture, but he does show why he is a real star.  I won’t miss him as Wolverine.  I think this movie is a better bet than that Maze Runner movie that is going to be released soon.  I watched some of The Ed Sullivan Show on the Decades channel.  The Fifth Dimension sang “California Soul” and “All You Need is Love,” and the Supremes sang “My World is Empty Without You” and “Somewhere.”  I watched the King Fun episode “The Third Man,” which had nothing to do with Grahame Greene.  Caine gave away $250 of the $2500 he lost to the person who trailed him and took it from a hiding place.  Some of the people who died on January 12 include Nevil Shute (1960), Agatha Christie (1976), Keye Luke (1991), Maurice Gibb (2003), and William Peter Blatty (2012).  Today is a birthday for Howard Stern (64) and Kirstie Alley (67).  According to the Brandon Brooks Rewind radio segment for January 12, the Alfred Hitchcock film “Lifeboat” had its New York premiere in 1944.  In 1963, Steve Lawrence was Number One on the singles chart with “Go Away Little Girl.”  In 1974, the Steve Miller Band had the Number One single, “The Joker.”  Also in 1974, Jim Croce reached Number One on the album chart with “You Don’t Mess Around with Jim.”  In 1990, “Downtown,” starring Anthony Edwards and Forest Whitaker and directed by Richard Benjamin, was released.

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Road to Morocco

I watched “Road to Morocco,” the 1942 movie with Bob Hope and Bing Crosby.  The television special about Bob Hope that was on PBS recently made me want to see this movie again.  I must have seen it about thirty years ago when it was on television.  One of the best things in the movie was the song “Road to Morocco,” although the scene did show that some of the special effects were old.  The director obviously couldn’t get the camels to do what was desired.  Elaine May didn’t learn to not work with animals like camels in “Ishtar” even after all those years.  The Road pictures went on for years, and this was the third.  Dorothy Lamour made her usual appearance.  I don’t recall what she did in her career besides these movies, but she does look comfortable doing what she does in these pictures.  She died in 1996.  Dona Drake was the other woman in this movie.  She had an interesting life story with a second movie career after a name change.  Anthony Quinn was in this movie.  He was certainly a long way away from Zorba the Greek at this point.  One of the funny bits involved bobbing heads that reminded me of bobbleheads and Marty Feldman in “Young Frankenstein.”  Although I didn’t find the plot of the dialogue especially inspired, the movie was nominated for a Best Original Screenplay Oscar.  At one point, Bob Hope wants to flee, which he spells “f-l-e-a.”  That was something we would hear again in “Love and Death.”  The movie runs only 82 minutes, so it is good to watch on a weekend afternoon as you’re taking a break from other tasks.  I found that I wished there was another song or two and a bit more to the plot.  I did feel nostalgic for better days as I watched the movie again.  I thought Bob Hope was the greatest comedian when I was about 12 years old.  Bing Crosby does show that he was a very good singer.  His son would complain about him in a book, but that didn’t change our memory of him.  I thought about this as people like Dustin Hoffman and James Franco have been re-evaluated in light of accusations.  There are other people I have wondered about that the media hasn’t mentioned yet, like Jack Nicholson and Madonna.  Bing Crosby died in 1977, and I wondered what kind of music he was listening to in those last days.  There was a whole lot of Fleetwood Mac all over the place at the time.  He missed out on the Sex Pistols and “God Save the Queen.”  I wonder what his reaction to punk rock would have been.  Bob Hope lived for a long time.  I imagined what it was like to go out to a theatre in 1942 to see this movie.  It wasn’t the funniest movie ever, but a lot of people went to see all these Road movies.  I think my favorite Bob Hope movie may be “The Paleface.”  According to the Brandon Brooks Rewind radio segment for January 11, The Beatles released their single “Please Please Me” with “Ask Me Why” on the b-side, in 1963.  In 1966, the television series “Daktari” debuted.  In 1967, Jimi Hendrix began recording “Purple Haze.”  In 1969, the B.J. Thomas single “Hooked on a Feeling” peaked on the charts at Number Five.  In 1995, the WB Television Network premiered with the first episode of “The Wayans Bros.”  In 2000, airport security guards in Hawaii discovered marijuana in Whitney Houston’s luggage, but she left on the plane before she could be arrested.

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CHIPS

In the morning, I did my laundry and paid a visit to Home Depot, and when I returned, I saw city workers taking down the Christmas decorations from the street lamps.  I went off to work and put in my shift without saying much to people.  I stopped for a burger and went back to the apartment and sit down to watch “CHIPS,” the movie that was released just last year, although it felt longer than that.  I don’t know how it ended up that Dax Shepard was the writer and director of this movie.  The approach seemed like “Baywatch.”  I never watched the television show, but this movie had Jon Baker as an amazingly annoying character, clumsy despite being a motorcyclist, desperate to save his marriage and unable to do much of the officer training.  He gets nauseous in other people’s homes, giving him a bit of Felix Unger in his makeup.  Michael Peña was Ponch.  Here he is an undercover FBI agent.  This certainly wasn’t a great role for Michael Peña, who was in “Crash” some years ago.  There was quite a bit of uncomfortable violence, considering that this was supposed to be a comedy.  There was a loss of fingers, that made me think of “The Road Warrior,” “The Grand Budapest Hotel,” and “The Shape of Water.”  Erik Estrada did make a cameo appearance, but not as anyone associated with the California Highway Patrol.  I thought that there were no real laughs at all in the entire movie.  I couldn’t understand why the movie was made.  Anyone who was a fan of the television show would not like this film.  I was amazed how so many people could work on a movie without coming out with any inspiration at all.  I thought the people would work better if it was more of a straight cop story.  I don’t want to see any more of these reworked remakes of old televisions shows.  I thought back on “Dragnet” years ago, and it didn’t work even back then.  In the months since “CHIPS” was released, the view of the portrayal of women on film has changed, and so this movie seems even worse in retrospect.  I cringed at some of the shots.  I guess it was too hard to write a script with real emotion, with ups and downs and some research and reality, like something Joseph Wambaugh would have written during the 1970s.  A movie like this says something terrible about what the movie industry thinks about the audience out there.  They seem to think that we are all stupid.  This movie is at a lower level than bad television.  Quite a bit of money was wasted in the making of this film.  Some of the people who died on January 11 include Francis Scott Key (1843), Thomas Hardy (1928), Edna Purviance (1958), Jack Soo (1979), Helena Carter (2000), Spalding Gray (2004), Carl Karcher (2008), Eric Rohmer (2010), and Anita Ekberg (2015).  Today is a birthday for Amanda Peet (46) and Vicki Peterson (60).

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L.A. Law: The Movie

I made my way through a cloudy afternoon to take a seat in the library and finish watching “L.A. Law: The Movie.”  I was not the biggest fan of the television series, and in fact only saw the pilot episode, which didn’t even have Susan Dey in it.  The movie had different stories going on, like a divorce, a loss of money, and a prostitute who wouldn’t come forward as a witness.  Susan Dey appeared about fifteen minutes into the movie and didn’t have a great number of scenes.  She looked like she didn’t age that much since “Love, Lies and Lullabies” about nine years earlier, and her hair looked different.  I wasn’t too sure about the courtroom procedures in this movie.  I questioned whether the judge had any judgement at all.  Grace Van Owen was a prosecutor, and the focus was on the attorneys, so I had the feeling I knew how her case was going to turn out.  Grace had a scene after the trial that was about love.  I’m not too sure that I would be able to have strong feelings about someone who would cruelly point out someone’s mental handicap to the courtroom.  There was a funeral scene that was sad, although the death would turn out to be something strange.  I don’t think I would have looked forward to a second movie.  This one felt like an extended regular episode, although the actors seemed older and tired.  Susan Dey was nearly fifty years old at the time of filming.  We are going to remember her more for Laurie Partridge than for Grace Van Owen because we don’t really like lawyers or prosecutors or judges, and we do like to laugh and sing songs.  It’s too bad that this was one of the last roles that Susan played in her show business career.  She seems to be living quietly in retirement.  I don’t think that viewers are clamoring to see “L.A. Law” on any of those retro television channels.  The original airdate this movie was May 12, 2002.  I heard about Jon Gruden’s press conference as I made my way out to the Grand Lake Theatre to see “Coco” in 3D for one last time.  The one thing I applaud him for was saying that he loved the city of Oakland.  That was something we needed to hear, because even people like Derek Carr didn’t say much.  Draymond Green said something.  There were a lot of things I appreciated in “Coco,” as I paid close attention to a lot of detail.  There was a lot of imagination and effort.  I wondered how one of the photos didn’t want wet, and why Ernesto didn’t rip up the one of Hector.  I also wondered if Hector was a transvestite.  The kid who did Miguel’s voice did a great job.  The screening excluded the Frozen short film, which they wouldn’t have wanted to show because the holidays are over.  The movie ended at eight, and it took an hour to take the buses back home.  I have only one more free Tuesday before I have to return to teaching.  According to the Brandon Brooks Rewind radio segment for January 10, the first album of Beatles recordings, “Introducing the Beatles,” featuring “I Saw Her Standing There,” “Love Me Do,” and “Twist and Shout,” was released on Vee-Jay Records in 1964.  In 1971, “Masterpiece Theatre” made its debut on PBS with the first episode of “The First Churchills.”  In 1977, the first Circus of the Stars television special, featuring Karen Black, Claudia Cardinale, and Lynda Carter, aired on CBS.

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The Post

The rain subsided. I heard on the news that Monday was the 16th rainiest day in recorded history for San Francisco. I went out to Emeryville to see “The Post,” the Stephen Spielberg film about the Washington Post dealing with the Pentagon Papers controversy in 1971. Meryl Streep was Kay Graham, and Tom Hanks was Ben Bradlee. It seemed strange that this film should be made at all, when we’ve already seen “Spotlight” and “All the President’s Men.” You can view these events in the light of the Trump presidency, and the way he calls the news coverage he doesn’t like as “fake news.” This movie has some of the problems that just about all of Spielberg’s issue movies have. He is too obvious, and he doesn’t know how the audience perceives things. When the point is made that Graham had a lot at stake in publishing government secrets, I didn’t really sympathize because rich people can bounce back even from traumatic bankruptcy. It’s the little people who really get hurt. Graham is there to show a woman taking a stance and showing a bit of courage, but neither she nor anyone else gets us truly excited. The movie was rather slow and tiring. I wasn’t really interested that much in the newspaper as I was in Daniel Ellsberg, who was an Edward Snowden type of figure in that time. I’ve seen Ellsberg in person twice, and he is the type of person who takes half an hour to answer one question, and he rambles and doesn’t really answer the question. The film treats the Washington Post as if it’s an institution that is irreplaceable. It seems that all newspapers, even the Washington Post and the New York Times, are fading as we become a stupid nation. At least one review of this film described it as heavy-handed. At the end, it didn’t really tell me why I had to see this movie at this time. It seemed that the film was really made 45 years after it should have been made. I wouldn’t say that Tom Hanks gave any kind of brilliant performance. I know that he likes to use his typewriter. I liked Jason Robards as Ben Bradlee in “All the President’s Men” all those years ago. I would have to hand it to those reporters, though, if they were really able to fashion a good story within seven hours of obtaining those piles of papers. Hardly anyone knows how to write well these days, along with reading a lot of material and grasping it all. College students don’t inspire much faith in me. I don’t think that writing makes for such good subject matter for films. I was fascinated with the process of putting a paper to print in those days. There was the typesetting instead of computers. The movie made a point about the First Amendment, although the drama of the Supreme Court decision doesn’t happen in front of us. We hear about it through people gathering in a newsroom and a telephone call. We’re separated from the action. The movie also plays like a prequel to “All the President’s Men.” I liked seeing Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks in the same movie, although most of the type I wished I was watching a different movie. I would rate this one higher than “Munich,” but I liked “Bridge of Spies” more. Some of the people who died on January 10 include Buffalo Bill (1917), Sinclair Lewis (1951), Gabriela Mistral (1957), Dashiell Hammett (1961), Coco Chanel (1971), Howlin’ Wolf (1976), Paul Lynde (1982), Carlo Ponti (2007), and David Bowie (2016). Today is a birthday for Pat Benatar (65), George Foreman (69), and Rod Stewart (73).

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Love, Lies and Lullabies

I listened to Robert Hilburn’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Times program on KCSN.  He played tracks from Lucinda Williams and her Artist’s Choice compilation.  I heard the steady rain and went out to the office to do a bit of work and watch the TV movie “Love, Lies and Lullabies,” also known as “Lies and Lullabies” and “Sad Inheritance.”  It had Susan Dey as Christine Kinsey and Piper Laurie as her mother.  Christine makes mistakes right from the start, from getting pregnant to using cocaine while she is pregnant, and having a stupid friend who kept encouraging her to snort lines.  She has a demanding job and feels she deserves a promotion.  Susan Dey was just about forty when this movie was made, and she made a little bit of age in her eyes.  We saw her as a troubled mother before, so the role wasn’t brand new territory for her.  The script wasn’t exactly subtle, although it shows the anguish of a mother having to visit her daughter in foster care, and it had moving scenes.  We see how if a mother makes mistakes, it can lead to bad circumstances for the baby.  I kept wondering where the father was while all of this was happening.  Susan’s face sometimes reminded me of Jane Fonda.  Piper Laurie seemed largely to be the same woman she was in “Carrie.”  This movie made me think back on another movie with Dennis Weaver in which he played a cocaine addict.  This feels a little bit like the L.A. Law Susan Dey sometimes because of the courtroom scenes.  One thing I didn’t like so much was the music on the soundtrack.  Susan has what looks like a permanent frown, and sometimes she could show a little humor, even in a movie like this one.  She has a scene of triumph, of a sort, when she throws her boyfriend out after he makes cruel comments about her motherhood.  Susan was a co-producer of the film, so it seems that she did it the way she wanted to.  She had the script changed so that she went from being the sister of a cocaine addict to the mother who was trying to raise the baby. She said that “the reality is that these women can be helped and if given a chance for treatment and a choice between drugs and their children, many choose their children.”  The movie has a generic quality to it, but Dey and Laurie make it OK.  It does have a terrible title.  No wonder it was changed.  It was a bit hard for me to believe that twenty-five years have passed since this movie was aired on television.  It was on ABC on March 14, 1993.  I heard on the news this morning that Ray Thomas of the Moody Blues died at age 76.  “Nights in White Satin” never did much for me, but I still thought it was sad news to hear.  I really didn’t feel like going to work.  I’m not doing anything meaningful and don’t figure to over the next ten years.  Some of the people who died on January 9 include Peter Cook (1995), Jesse White (1997), and Peter Yates (2011).  Today is a birthday for J.K. Simmons (63), Crystal Gayle (67), Jimmy Page (74), and Bart Starr (84).  According to the Brandon Brooks Rewind radio segment for January 9, “Rawhide,” starring Clint Eastwood, debuted on CBS in 1959.  In 1967, “More of the Monkees,” the second Monkees album, featuring “I’m a Believer” and “Mary, Mary,” was released.  In 1970, the Badfinger album “Magic Christian Music,” featuring “Come and Get It,” was released.

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