Archive for June 23rd, 2013

Okay.  So I’m “supposed” to have been trying to get back into my reading (the main source material for this blog).  Instead, I’ve been watching a lot of movies.  Now, don’t get me wrong, movies are also a big source of material here, but I do tend to go overboard sometimes.
In this latest bunch of movies I’ve watched: “Superman Returns“, “Man of Steel“, “Limitless“, “Quartet“, “Terminator: Salvation“, “The Amazing Spider-Man“, and “Chariots of Fire“.  Obviously, given that large a number, I won’t be able to do more than give a cursory review and recommendation.
Superman Returns” came out back in 2009.  I’ve only seen the movie twice before this viewing – once on original release and then once on TV.  To be honest, I was not impressed either time.  The main problem I had with the movie was the “green kryptonite”, which is supposed to be deadly to Superman.  If you’ve seen the movie, you know what the problems are here.  Anyway, with the release of “Man of Steel“, I wanted to get psyched for the new movie, so I thought I’d rewatch the latest version.  Believe it or not, even though I didn’t particularly like the movie, I do own a copy of the DVD.  I collect comic-book movies and Superman is one of (if not the) the most important comic characters in comic book history.  So Friday, before going to see the new version, I sat down to watch it.
Reaction?  Much better than I remember!  It’s not a great movie, but it is a decent comic genre movie.  The star, Brandon Routh, makes a good Superman and Kevin Spacey makes a decent Lex Luther.  The film has a lot of problems, but it’s not bad as entertainment goes.  Spacey is much less “campy” in this Lex than Gene Hackman was and I feel that makes the movie a lot better than “Superman -the Movie” from the 1970’s.  This version doesn’t have the insider jokes which graced the 1978 version, so it will never be a classic among true fans, but it is a good, solid version.  Final recommendation: good but not great.  Enjoy it at home with pop corn!
Man of Steel” came out last weekend and I went to see it on the Saturday morning opening with my daughter Rebecca.  She is not a comic nerd, but does know some of the background.  She thought the movie was very entertaining and I thought it was terrific.  The movie starts out with a major re-imaging of Krypton – straight out of Avatar.  The movie progresses with lots of background info about Superman growing up and trying to find himself – blah, blah, blah – jump to costume.  Not bad.  Looks cool, but it abandons the red underwear outside of the blue pajamas.  Okay. I can live with that…
Bad guy (General Zod) finds Superman on Earth and demands his surrender to save the planet.  Big battle (20 minutes, I guess, but it felt longer).  The end.
Is it a good movie?  Yes!  Is it the best Superman yet?  It avoids camp, but has a few (maybe too few) moments of humor.  Everyone is saying they were going for the “darker” Batman type of movie.  The problem with that is Superman is NOT a dark hero.  Anyway, other than a few minor points (and the lack of humor), I’d say this is every bit as good as the Christopher Reeve version(s).  The overall cast is very strong and Henry Cavill is a “hunk” as the man in blue.  I gather he had to bulk up for this role and he is a LOT more buffed than Routh was in his version.  I’m a Kidder fan, so Amy Adams doesn’t do anything for me as Lois Lane, but she’s okay.  So, final recommendation:  if you’ve gone to go see Iron Man 3, you need to go see this as it’s better all around.  Highly recommended!
Limitless” is a good Sci-Fi movie about a guy who takes drugs to use all of his brain (instead of just the 10-20% we all normally use).  Does he get away with it?  Does it improve his life?  And most importantly, is the movie any good?  Shockingly, yes, yes, and yes.  Despite the moral implications of getting ahead by using “performance enhancement drugs”, he does use them and he does get away with it.  Does it improve his life?  We’re left with the impression it did and it does and by extension, we should too.  Is the movie any good?  Yes.  It’s got decent action, a little skin, but no sex, reasonable special effects (if you believe that’s what being on drugs “looks” like), and the acting isn’t all that bad.  I enjoyed the movie (despite the moral implication mentioned) and give it a good recommendation.
Final comment, I don’t recall seeing Bradley Cooper in anything else, but he’s very good in the lead role.  I’ll look for more of him in the future.
Quartet” is a comedy / drama about old people in a retirement home.  Not just any home mind you, a pretty posh layout because the residents are all famous singers and musicians.  And not just any singers, but the finest quartet of British opera singers since WWII.  The movie is filled with heavy-weight British stars and is beautifully cast and shot.  If you like “fun” movies with great music and terrific older actors who still have “it“, you will thoroughly enjoy this movie.  It is, of course, very unrealistic, but who cares – it’s wonderful!  Final recommendation:  Highly recommended!
Terminator: Salvation” is the latest in the “T” series (and yes, it does have a mercifully brief CGI role for Arnold in it).  This time, we’re back in the future and we’re trying to save John Connor’s father.  This is before the father has grown up enough to go back in time to become John’s father.  Yeah, I know, it’s all a bit of a paradox…  Anyway, lots of fights, guns, explosions, special effects and hero saving the day.  More or less everything you expect in the “T” series.  Does it work?  Is the movie any good?  Not really, but yes.  The first time I saw this was in original release.  I was seriously NOT impressed.  I did pick up the DVD and it’s sat on my shelf (unopened).  So….  I tore the plastic off and rewatched it.  Much, much better with time and distance.  I’m not sure why, but the story made no sense to me when I first watched it but it did this time through.  Go figure.  This version lacks the originality of the first movie and the break-though special effects of the second.  Having said that, it’s better than both T-2 and T-3.  At least, I enjoyed it more.  Again, go figure.
The Amazing Spider-Man” is the reboot of the series which I reviewed (Wall-Crawler Reboot) back in July of 2012.  That was a fairly long review, so you can go check that post out if you want to know more.  Suffice it to say my “highly recommended” rating still stands.  I would add that I was incorrect about it not standing up as well on the smaller screen.  I enjoyed it very much even though I only have a 32″ screen on my computer / DVD player.
Chariots of Fire” is a retelling of the 1924 British Olympic track team’s trip to Paris.  The movie came out in 1981 (yes, it’s over thirty years old now), and was up for (7) and won multiple (4) awards including best picture and original score.  I found the side-ways commentary about the classes in British society to be particularly interesting.  Needless to say, it’s a brilliant movie even if it’s not entirely historically accurate.  Final recommendation:  this is a MUST see film.
On This Day In:
2012 Hangin’ With His P’s
Help Save
2011 Six Facets Of Good Leadership

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Way back when (in the ’70’s), I got a chance to go to Frankfurt to see Pink Floyd live in concert.  It was a terrific event and I really enjoyed both the music and the show.  I guess this was a famous tour and I remember it distinctly because it had a giant pig come out from the stage and circle over the crowd.  They also had a large circular screen which showed artistic depictions of images from their albums including “rock dinosaurs” and prisms.
One of the songs I’ve always liked by them is a hauntingly melancholy plea to a lost friend, “Wish You Were Here“.
Sometimes I feel like another lost soul livin’ in a fishbowl…
My mother-in-law fell recently and is now in the hospital with a fractured bone in her back.  My wife is upset that she can’t be there for her mum, so I’m upset for her, too.  If you pray, please offer up a prayer for her mum to get better soon.  If you don’t pray, be nice to someone and (I believe) the positive energy will still reach her.
I hope you’ll check out the lyrics on my Poems page and then go listen to the song on your favorite music provider.  Remember to go listen to as much live music as you can and support your local arts.
On This Day In:
2012 Hangin’ With His P’s
Help Save
2011 Six Facets Of Good Leadership

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Self Portrait

It doesn’t interest me if there is one God
or many gods.
I want to know if you belong or feel
If you know despair or can see it in others.
I want to know
if you are prepared to live in the world
with its harsh need
to change you. If you can look back
with firm eyes
saying this is where I stand. I want to know
if you know
how to melt into that fierce heat of living
falling toward
the center of your longing. I want to know
if you are willing
to live, day by day, with the consequence of love
and the bitter
unwanted passion of your sure defeat.
I have heard, in that fierce embrace, even
the gods speak of God.
     —    David Whyte
From his book:  “Fire in the Earth
[I found this poem on a blog I follow:  http://davidkanigan.com
The actual post is:  http://davidkanigan.com/2013/04/09/in-that-fierce-embrace-even-the-gods-speak-of-god/
The poem’s author is David Whyte, who you can find out more about at his own blog/web site:  http://www.davidwhyte.com/home.html    —   kmab]
On This Day In:
2012 Hangin’ With His P’s
Help Save
2011 Six Facets Of Good Leadership

Read Full Post »

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