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Trump Is Woody Allen Without the Humor

Half his tweets show utter weakness.  They are plaintive, shrill little cries, usually just after dawn.
By Peggy Noonan
(Former speechwriter for President Ronald Reagan)
July 27, 2017 6:06 p.m. ET
This opinion piece originally appeared in:  The Wall Street Journal
The president’s primary problem as a leader is not that he is impetuous, brash or naive.  It’s not that he is inexperienced, crude, an outsider.  It is that he is weak and sniveling.  It is that he undermines himself almost daily by ignoring traditional norms and forms of American masculinity.
He’s not strong and self-controlled, not cool and tough, not low-key and determined; he’s whiny, weepy and self-pitying.  He throws himself, sobbing, on the body politic.  He’s a drama queen.  It was once said, sarcastically, of George H.W. Bush that he reminded everyone of her first husband.  Trump must remind people of their first wife.  Actually his wife, Melania, is tougher than he is with her stoicism and grace, her self-discipline and desire to show the world respect by presenting herself with dignity.
Half the president’s tweets show utter weakness.  They are plaintive, shrill little cries, usually just after dawn.  “It’s very sad that Republicans, even some that were carried over the line on my back, do very little to protect their president.”  The brutes.  Actually they’ve been laboring to be loyal to him since Inauguration Day.  “The Republicans never discuss how good their health care bill is.” True, but neither does Mr. Trump, who seems unsure of its content.  In just the past two weeks, of the press, he complained: “Every story/opinion, even if should be positive, is bad!”  Journalists produce “highly slanted & even fraudulent reporting.”  They are “DISTORTING DEMOCRACY.”  They “fabricate the facts.”
It’s all whimpering accusation and finger-pointing: Nobody’s nice to me.  Why don’t they appreciate me?
His public brutalizing of Attorney General Jeff Sessions isn’t strong, cool and deadly; it’s limp, lame and blubbery.  “Sessions has taken a VERY weak position on Hillary Clinton crimes,” he tweeted this week.  Talk about projection.
He told the Journal’s Michael C. Bender he is disappointed in Mr. Sessions and doesn’t feel any particular loyalty toward him.  “He was a senator, he looks at 40,000 people and he probably says, ‘What do I have to lose?’  And he endorsed me.  So it’s not like a great loyal thing about the endorsement.”  Actually, Mr. Sessions supported him early and put his personal credibility on the line.  In Politico, John J. Pitney Jr. of Claremont McKenna College writes: “Loyalty is about strength.  It is about sticking with a person, a cause, an idea or a country even when it is costly, difficult or unpopular.”  A strong man does that.  A weak one would unleash his resentments and derive sadistic pleasure from their unleashing.
The way American men used to like seeing themselves, the template they most admired, was the strong silent type celebrated in classic mid-20th century films — Gary Cooper, John Wayne, Henry Fonda.  In time the style shifted, and we wound up with the nervous and chattery.  More than a decade ago the producer and writer David Chase had his Tony Soprano mourn the disappearance of the old style: “What they didn’t know is once they got Gary Cooper in touch with his feelings they wouldn’t be able to shut him up!”  The new style was more like that of Woody Allen.  His characters couldn’t stop talking about their emotions, their resentments and needs.  They were self-justifying as they acted out their cowardice and anger.
But he was a comic.  It was funny.  He wasn’t putting it out as a new template for maleness.  Donald Trump now is like an unfunny Woody Allen.
Who needs a template for how to be a man?  A lot of boys and young men, who’ve grown up in a culture confused about what men are and do.  Who teaches them the real dignity and meaning of being a man?  Mostly good fathers and teachers.  Luckily Mr. Trump this week addressed the Boy Scout Jamboree in West Virginia, where he represented to them masculinity and the moral life.
“Who the hell wants to speak about politics when I’m in front of the Boy Scouts, right?”  But he overcame his natural reticence.  We should change how we refer to Washington, he said: “We ought to change it from the word ‘swamp’ to perhaps ‘cesspool’ or perhaps to the word ‘sewer.’ ”  Washington is not nice to him and is full of bad people.  “As the Scout Law says, ‘A Scout is trustworthy, loyal — we could use some more loyalty, I will tell you that.”  He then told them the apparently tragic story of a man who was once successful.  “And in the end he failed, and he failed badly.”
Why should he inspire them, show personal height, weight and dignity, support our frail institutions?  He has needs and wants — he is angry! — which supersede pesky, long-term objectives.  Why put the amorphous hopes of the audience ahead of his own, more urgent needs?
His inability — not his refusal, but his inability — to embrace the public and rhetorical role of the presidency consistently and constructively is weak.
“It’s so easy to act presidential but that’s not gonna get it done,” Mr. Trump said the other night at a rally in Youngstown, Ohio.  That is the opposite of the truth.  The truth, six months in, is that he is not presidential and is not getting it done.  His mad, blubbery petulance isn’t working for him but against him.  If he were presidential he’d be getting it done — building momentum, gaining support.  He’d be over 50%, not under 40%.  He’d have health care, and more.
We close with the observation that it’s all nonstop drama and queen-for-a-day inside this hothouse of a White House.  Staffers speak in their common yet somehow colorful language of their wants, their complaints.  The new communications chief, Anthony Scaramucci, who in his debut came across as affable and in control of himself, went on CNN Thursday to show he’ll fit right in.  He’s surrounded by “nefarious, backstabbing” leakers.  “The fish stinks from the head down.  But I can tell you two fish that don’t stink, and that’s me and the president.”  He’s strong and well connected: “I’ve got buddies of mine in the FBI”; “Sean Hannity is one of my closest friends.”  He is constantly with the president, at dinner, on the phone, in the sauna snapping towels.  I made that up.  “The president and I would like to tell everybody we have a very, very good idea of who the leakers are.”  Chief of Staff Reince Priebus better watch it.  There are people in the White House who “think it is their job to save America from this president, okay?”  So they leak.  But we know who they are.
He seemed to think this diarrheic diatribe was professional, the kind of thing the big boys do with their media bros.  But he came across as just another drama queen for this warring, riven, incontinent White House.  As Scaramucci spoke, the historian Joshua Zeitz observed wonderingly, on Twitter: “It’s Team of Rivals but for morons.”
It is.  And it stinks from the top.
Meanwhile the whole world is watching, a world that contains predators.  How could they not be seeing this weakness, confusion and chaos and thinking it’s a good time to cause some trouble?
[I found this on her site at: http://www.peggynoonan.com/trump-is-woody-allen-without-the-humor/
I apologize to any who are offended by my posting this editorial without prior permission.  Hopefully my full attribution to both Ms. Noonan and the WSJ mollifies you somewhat…  —  KMAB]
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On This Day In:
2016 Discontent
2015 Do You Know Me?
Appetite For Life Update
2014 Tough Journalism
2013 Things I’ve Learned
2012 Abstainer, n.
2011 Rain, Rain, Rain
Test Your Strength
2009 End the mistakes…
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Book Review:
Last Thursday, I accompanied my wife downtown.  She likes to go to the Farmer’s Market and I like to go to the used bookstore.  While there, I picked up a copy of the book: “Inherit The Wind”  (1955©), written by Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee, which I found on the $1 shelf.
The book is essentially the script of the play by the same name.  The story is a dramatization (fictionalized) of the Scopes “Monkey” Trial of 1925 in Dayton, Tennessee.  Although the book / play is arguably about the conflict between the theory of evolution and the creation of the universe as stated in the Book of Genesis, the authors claimed the play was actually about the conflict between freedom of speech / thought and “McCarthyism” in the United States in the 1950’s.  (McCarthyism is here defined as the practice of making accusations of subversion or treason without proper regard for evidence.  It also means “the practice of making unfair allegations or using unfair investigative techniques, especially in order to restrict dissent or political criticism.”  In this case, a law prohibiting the teaching of evolution without accounting for the substantial scientific evidence supporting evolution and an absolute dearth of evidence supporting Creationism / Genesis.)
The book is barely 100 pages and is a VERY fast read. It effectively points out the difficulties of trying to use a book of faith as a wall against scientific progress.  Essentially, you end up with a ridiculous speed bump instead of a barrier.  Although I found the book less powerful than the movie, it is still very engaging.  Final recommendation: highly recommended.
Movie Review:
Having read the book, I felt compelled to re-watch the movie: “Inherit The Wind” (1960).  The movie stars Spencer Tracy as Henry Drummond (Clarence Darrow) the defense attorney, Fredric March as Matthew Harrison Brady (William Jennings Bryan) the prosecutor and Gene Kelly as E. K. Hornbeck (H. L. Mencken) the out-of-town-journalist.
This is a “classic” black and white movie and one of my favorite works starring Tracy.  I have watched this movie well over a dozen times in my life and continue to watch it through to the end whenever I stumble on it playing on the TV.  Two other points bear mentioning…  This is my defining memory of March as an actor, which is both good and bad. Good because he is fantastic in the role.  Bad because he is SO good it has biased me against him in the few other roles I’ve seen him in.  March is so good, you almost think he is playing himself – much like John Wayne in “True Grit“.  It is only in seeing him in other roles that you realize it was all an act.  This is, I believe, the classic definition of a great actor.  As much as I love Tracy in this film, I am almost magnetically drawn to viewing and listening to (studying) March when I watch this film.  My second point is for those of you who think of Gene Kelly as purely a gifted “hoofer” (i.e. “Singing In The Rain” and many others), watch this film.  Kelly can act!  His face speaks a million lines and his sarcastic / comedic / cynical timing is impeccable.
Needless to say, the play the movie is based on is a fictionalized version of a real trial and the movie is a dramatized version of the play.  I first saw this movie as a youngster (probably pre-teens) and it had a profound impact on my life as I wanted to become a scientist and discover “Natural” law.  I wanted to be a “free” thinker.  Raised a Roman Catholic, this movie made me question at an early age – not my faith – but the Church and those who proposed an absolute belief in the Church (any church) and the Bible (any “holy” book).  It is only now, years later, that I realize the conflict between faith and science was not the basis for the movie.  As mentioned above, placing the film in historical context, it is actually about the fight against bullying and ostracism of those who are able to (and choose to) think for themselves and who wish to discuss their thoughts openly without fear of harassment (prison).
This is a powerful movie and is well worth watching and discussing with family and friends – at multiple levels.  This is particularly true in an age where there is a new law (wall) being discussed to protect us (America) from the threat of terrorists (“illegals” taking our jobs for lower wages).  As fundamentalists (Christian, Muslim or any other faith) cannot halt the progress of science, American reactionaries cannot halt the progress of macroeconomics.  Left to its own devices, corporate socialism / monopolistic capitalism will drive down the cost of labor just as water seeks its own level unless we, as a people decide as a matter of public policy that enough is enough.
Okay, climbing down from my high-horse, final recommendation: this is a very highly recommended movie.  An excellent story, told with great actors.
Movie Review:
My second movie review today is for: “Reign Of Fire” (2002).  This is a dragons destroy humanity movie starring: Christian Bale as Quinn Abercromby, Matthew McConaughey as Denton Van Zan, Izabella Scorupco as Alex Jensen and Gerard Butler as Creedy (Bale’s character’s best friend).  As a lad, Bale discovers a dragon buried under London.  Somehow, the single dragon begets a million other dragons and they, more or less, destroy human civilization.  There are a few pockets of survival and Bale and Butler are the bosses of one.  Along comes McConaughey, who proposes to destroy the dragons, not merely out-last them by hiding.  And, so, off we go to London to slay the dragon…
This is not a movie which bears much thinking about.  You either watch it and enjoy it, or you think about it and don’t.  I have chosen (frequently) to watch and enjoy.  It is what it is and it’s pretty good at being just that.  As an aside, the most interesting thing from my latest viewing is the way this movie presages “Batman Begins” with the fluttering birds and dragons in Reign being reminiscent of the fluttering bats in Batman and then the dark tunnel / the Bat Cave.  On the other hand, it could just be my recent marathon session of the “Dark Knight Trilogy” has me seeing things which really aren’t there.
Anyway, while it doesn’t stand much thought, it’s a surprisingly viewable movie.  Final recommendation: Strong.
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On This Day In:
2015 Natural Shapes
2014 Seeing The Light
2013 Requirements
2012 Tricked Again
2011 Liberty And Justice For Earth
2010 Home Again, Home Again, Jig-A-De, Jig…

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Well, I’ve almost finished my “summer” week off, so it’s time for the movie review.  Over the last couple of days I’ve watched: “Salt (the Director’s Cut)“, “Ted (Unrated)“, “The Judge“, “Don Jon“, and “Road House“.  Reader’s caution: spoilers and this is a long post, so if you’re not interested in my movie reviews, you should move on to another post / blog.  You’ve been warned…
Salt (the Director’s cut) – movie review
This is a spy / action movie – pure and simple.  The interesting (different) thing is that it has Angelina Jolie as the female lead who plays a Russian mole in the CIA.  Basically, there are sleeper agents planted in America meant to bring the country down at some unknown point in the future.  The agents are generally switched in at a young age after an accident is staged to eliminate their target’s family.  Blah, blah, blah…  A whole lotta action and kickin’ butt and while the story isn’t over (there has to be an opening for sequels), this round is won by the good guys.  (Was there ever any doubt?)
I’m not sure why, but I’m still not a BIG AJ fan.  I can’t think of anything I’ve seen her in which I completely hated, but, on the other hand, I’ve never seen her in anything and thought: “Wow!  That was brilliant!”  Having said that, I don’t go out of my way to see her work and she’s pretty good, maybe even VERY good in this role.  So, yeah, I guess she’s growing on me.  Final recommendation: highly recommended!  An action / spy-thriller which delivers.  Just don’t ask yourself: “How did they change the kids’ fingerprints?“, and sit back and enjoy the film.  Rated “R” – mostly for violence, but also for language.
Ted (Unrated) – movie review
Rated “R” for language and suggestive situations.  Perhaps the regular version of this movie was edited for TV and/or has a lower rating.  In this version, you can’t go five minutes without cursing, non-PC humor or “suggestive” situations.  There!  That’s that, up front…  This movie is seriously funny.  It stars  Mark Wahlberg as John Bennett (the child without friends and later man),  Mila Kunis as Lori Collins (John’s girl friend) and Ted (the Teddy Bear, voiced by Seth MacFarlane) who comes to life and becomes John’s best friend for life.
The great thing about this movie (aside from the animation and special effects) is that Ted becomes a celebrity instead of “the family’s little secret”.  Ted has his few moments of fame, and then he’s old news and nobody really cares about a “living” Teddy Bear.  Think about that for a second…  What would have happened if the Clark’s had simply announced Kal-El had landed on Earth and here he is??  Would we have a Superman character as we understand him today?  Can we “really” get used to almost anything?
Anyway, aside from the “rad” premise, for me, the real big surprise was that Mark Wahlberg can both act and can do comedy.  Don’t get me wrong.  I am a fan of Wahlberg and buy movies just because he’s in them.  But, I never “really” thought of him as an actor – just a guy playing tough-guy roles, just like John Wayne always used to play the quiet, strong, American cowboy hero.  At least that’s what I’ve always thought.  I’m struck that I may have to go back and examine some of his roles for actual acting.  Oh, what a burden!  Now, I have to go back and watch a bunch of action films…
Final recommendation: strong recommendation.  I have a feeling a good deal (maybe most) of the material will seem dated in a few years as many of the humor references are timely / current, but for now, this is a funny movie with a surprising amount of heart (again unexpected) in it.  Again, this movie is NOT appropriate for minors due to language and if you are sensitive about “Politically Correct” humor you will find this movie extremely offensive and not funny.
The Judge – movie review
The Judge” stars one of my all-time favorite actors (Robert Duvall) as a small town Indiana judge who’s been arrested for murder.  His estranged son (Robert Downey Jr.), a big-city attorney returns to defend  his father.  This is a powerful movie about the law, the justice system and (but) mostly about family.
Final recommendation: highly recommended movie!  If you like well acted, powerful drama about law and about family, this is a movie for you.  The movie is rate “R” for language and sexual references.  I don’t really remember any of that, but it is definitely a movie for mature audiences.
Don Jon – movie review
This is a movie about a young man – a “player” – who is (also) obsessed with viewing on-line pornography.   His obsession results in an inability to relate to women as real people, so the real women who shuffle through his bed are never as good as the imagined lover(s) he finds on-line.  The film was written, directed by, and stars  Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Jon; Scarlett Johansson plays his girl friend Barbara Sugarman; and,  Julianne Moore plays Esther, an older woman / widow whom Jon eventually falls in love with.  Well, at least he ends the movie with her.
This movie, (like “Ted” above) contains frequent use of cursing and (unlike “Ted“) brief flashes of actual pornography (mostly uncovered frontal views).  It is clearly inappropriate for minors.  But, is it any good?  Yes.  Yes, it is a good movie about a serious social issue we are facing in this country (pornography) and it deals with perhaps the two serious issues of the problem: 1) the objectification and marketing of women (and products) into purely sexual roles (in and out of pornography), and 2) the effect of constant (maybe consistent is the correct word) viewing of pornography on a group of society.   I simply don’t know what long term effect the viewing of porn will have on a generation of young males who begin watching porn while under 10 years of age and continue on through puberty.   Of course this second issue isn’t actually dealt with or even mentioned directly in the movie, but I feel it is implied by Jon’s struggle to find meaning in his relationships.
Esther “helps” Jon find meaning.  Essentially, the risk of giving yourself (your emotions, not just your body) to another person allows you to transcend the sexual act and gives it (the act) and your relationship “meaning”.  Clearly, traditional morality holds to establishing the “meaning” in a relationship before the physical giving / sharing.
Oh, before I forget…  I would like to give a mention to the character “Monica” (Jon’s younger sister) played by Brie Larson.  Near the end of the movie, she has her one paragraph of dialogue and tells her brother (and family) he is better off without his girl friend (Barbara) because she wasn’t “in love” with Jon.  She simply wanted to change him into her idea of a perfect husband.  The scene is brilliant and comes completely out of left field.  I actually stopped the show to re-watch Brie deliver the lines and then fade back into the “I don’t care about any of this” Little Sister role.  Brilliant writing, acting, directing and editing!
Final recommendation: neutral.  I know that is a cop-out, but I found the movie honest and well done, but troubling.  If the ends justifies the means, then the language and snippets of porn serve an artistic purpose and I can leave the film to personal taste.  If you are of the opinion that ends do not justify the means (any means to a good end), then the “message” of the movie is lost in the too frequent foul language and snippets.  Either way, all three of the main characters give solid performances.   Obviously, this was an “R” rated movie…  Do they even give “X” ratings anymore?
Road House – movie review
If you like the actors Patrick Swayze (Dalton, the main character) or Sam Elliott (playing bouncer Wade Garrett), you’ll enjoy this movie.  If not, it’s still an okay action movie from the late 1980’s.  I’ve seen this movie a half-dozen times on TV and this is the first time I’ve “seen” the movie.  It was a “recommended for me” movie on Netflix.  The action scenes are pretty much the same but the bar scenes are loaded with “T&A” and (again) the movie is pretty full of cursing.  (These seem to be common themes this week.)  Kelly Lynch plays “Doc” – Dalton’s love interest and Ben Gazzara comes way down to play the bad guy “Brad Wesley”.
Basically, small town controlled by an evil corporatist (Wesley).  Dive bar owner wants to cleanup his business, so he hires Dalton.  Dalton comes to town, blah, blah, kicks butt, blah, blah, charms the love interest, blah, blah, kicks major butt, short blah, defeats Wesley’s gang and Wesley dies.  Dalton and Doc skinny dip in the local pond, happily ever after…
Final recommendation: moderate recommendation.  To tell the truth, the T&A is gratuitous and my memory of the TV version (without the T&A) is better than this “full” version.  I guess I’ve turned prudish in my old age.  The action isn’t as good as I remember – mostly because fight choreography is much better in modern film.  Having said that, I liked Swayze and Elliott in these roles and they played well off of each other.  So, dated but still and ok movie.  Wait for it…  Yeah, this is another “R” rated movie.
Well, that’s it for now.  Thanks to any readers who’ve managed to get through all of this with me…
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On This Day In:
2014 Just Another Brick From The Wall
2013 Artistic Demands
2012 Foundations
2011 Are We Devouring Yet?

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Back at work now for a week after my thirty days off for vacation.  Hil, Sarah and I flew to Liverpool, U.K. to visit her family for three weeks (Sarah has stayed an extra two weeks and will be back soon).  We flew out of Oakland, to Portland, on to Amsterdam, and then into John Lennon / Liverpool International Airport (aka Speke Airport).  The return trip was via Seattle instead of Portland.  All the flights were surprising comfortable and there were no problems at all.  The most interesting thing was we took a turboprop on the initial leg of the trip (from Oakland to Portland).  This was only the third time I’ve ever flown in a propeller aircraft and it was the first time it was quiet.  I would say it was quieter than a jet – particularly on the takeoff and landing.  I was expecting to have to shout to Hil, but we could speak at normal volumes.
We had a wonderful time visiting with family and old friends and I felt particularly relaxed by the whole experience.  We stayed close to Liverpool and just enjoyed getting re-acquainted with the jewel at the mouth of the Mersey.  The weather was surprising agreeable – in fact, I would say the first four days we were there it was “hot” (in the low 80s).  Very pleasant for us coming from Concord, CA (in the 90s).  I was hoping for more rain.  We did get some, but it was mostly intermittent and not a bother at all.  “Just enough to keep the dust down,” is how it’s described in Scouser.
Books
I took a number of books along with me, hoping to be motivated enough to get through them.  I wasn’t.  I made the “mistake” of purchasing a Sudoku book at the airport and ended up wasting many hours in simple entertainment.  I find the pattern matching in Sudoku to be extremely relaxing even though it seems to also involve a great deal of mental concentration.  Anyway, the three books I did complete were: The Art Of Pitching, written by Tom Seaver (1984©) with Lee Lowenfish, “Wampeters, Foma & Granfalloons“, written by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., (1976©), and “A Christian’s Pocket Guide To Islam“, written by Patrick Sookhdeo (2001©).
If you’ve been following this blog for awhile, you probably are aware of my re-kindled interest in baseball (in general) and the San Francisco Giants (in particular).  Hil and I have watch most of the games this season and I would estimate we’d seen some of all but three games – up until we left for our vacation.  Anticipating I was going to be suffering from baseball withdrawal, I took along Tom Seaver’s book to ease my suffering.  The book is an excellent guide to learning about the mechanics of pitching and I would highly recommend it for a junior level baseball coach or 10 to 12 year old who dreams of becoming a high school, college, or Big League pitcher.  For me, there were many insights into the mechanics, but not a lot on the strategy of pitching to a specific hitter or work a game.  Seaver does spend the last chapter going pitch by pitch through a game (he wins it), but it was somehow lacking in what I was hoping for.  I’m not sure what I was looking for, but this didn’t quite “get it” for me.  Anyway, it did help me get through the three weeks without watching a game and I do highly recommend this short volume to anyone interested in the mechanical side of pitching and picture preparation.
Many years ago, I read a few of Kurt Vonnegut’s books.  The one which struck me the most was “Slaughter House Five“, but I enjoyed the couple I read and I bought several more intending to complete more of his works.  Well, life got in the way and I’ve never gotten around to them.  I found a few of his quotes on another blog I subscribe to (and copied them to my own), but they tickled my fancy about getting back to the ones I’ve not read.  “Wampeters, Foma & Granfalloons” is one of those unread works.  This is actually a terrific little book about science fiction, life, war, peace and honesty.   I highly recommend it!!  One story on Biafra was particularly touching; another (a SciFi story) on prolonged life was particularly frightening.  As I said – highly recommended.  And now I really do want to read several of his other works which have been sitting on my shelf for thirty odd years…
The third book I completed, “Pocket Guide To Islam“, was a very thin book I found at Hil’s mum’s place.  I didn’t know exactly what to expect reading it.  It seems to be written by a Christian minister who has spent some time studying Islam.  I would say the book captures the basic story, philosophy, historical facts of the religion, but I don’t feel the book conveys the depth of feeling or nuanced interpretation of a Muslim.  Of course, not being Muslim myself, I may be completely incorrect, but my direct experience with Indian, Egyptian, Iranian and Arabic Muslims is not in complete agreement with some of the minor facts in the book and therefore I find it difficult to accept the whole of the work.  Still, I do feel the author seems to be coming from a willingness to accept conversion to Christianity by Muslims.  I’m just not sure the author says anything which would help a Christian convert a Muslim, even if the Muslim were personally willing to listen to an attempt at conversion.
Movies
Including one movie I saw after I got home from Liverpool, I’ve seen fourteen new movies during my thirty days off.  They include: The Adjustment Bureau, The Eagle, The Green Hornet, A Law Abiding Citizen, Grand Torino, Transformers 3, Defiance, Invictus, True Grit (the new version), Harry Potter – Deathly Hallows part 2, Battle: Los Angeles, The Lincoln Lawyer, Country Strong, and Captain America (in 3D and normal the following day).  Wow!!  (That’s some sittin’ around on your duff – even for me!)
The Adjustment Bureau: another good, solid performance by Matt Damon.  Is life pre-ordained or is there free will?  See the movie and then you decide…  Highly recommended as an adult, thinking movie.
The Eagle: a surprising entertaining movie about Romans in England (Scotland, actually, but why nit-pick).  Reminiscent of the first battle scene in Gladiator (which I also enjoyed), but this is the longer, drawn out version.  Not great, but a solid “man’s” movie.
The Green Hornet: mostly a dud.  Very disappointing.  I’ve never seen Seth Rogen in anything before and this movie will go a long way in making sure I make NO effort to see him again soon.  Reminiscent of the Adam West Batman TV series, but I don’t think they were going for the high camp that made the TV series tolerable (sometimes very funny).  Save two hours of your life and do something else besides watching this.  You’ve been warned…
A Law Abiding Citizen: if you liked The Usual Suspects, you’ll probably like this movie.  I enjoyed them both for what they are – good, solid, adult, storytelling.  Perhaps too much implied violence for the young or squeamish, but otherwise, solid entertainment!
Grand Torino: Wow!!  I don’t remember the last time I laughed so much watching a serious movie.  Clint Eastwood at his best!!  Shades of Archie Bunker from “All In The Family“.  A serious movie about racism, hope, coming of age – AND it is laugh out loud funny because it’s so well written and acted.
Transformers 3:  Not as good as T1 or T2, but still pretty good summer entertainment.  If you want to see robots kicking each other around, this is it!  The down side is you have to sit through about 45 minutes of blah, blah, blah about the hero (Shia Labeouf) and why Megan Fox isn’t in the movie.  Next time, just say, “the part of Megan Fox will be played by…” and get on with the robots fighting.  Another thing: you don’t HAVE to include every character from every earlier movie.  Still, I’ll pick it up when it comes out in DVD for X-mas (cause I’m that kind of guy).  I saw this opening weekend, in 3D.  I’m not sure it added much to the movie.  Again, I’m left unimpressed with 3D technology…
Defiance:  an interesting movie about some Russian Jews who resisted the Nazis during WWII.  Based on a true story, it’s not a documentary and it’s not “entertaining”.  Worth seeing and interesting.  Stars Daniel Craig of James Bond fame.  Okay acting – moderate recommendation.
Invictus:  I was expecting a rugby version of Rocky, but instead this was a major bio of support for Nelson Mandela with Rocky thrown in for good measure.  If you like leadership movies and or sports movies about underdogs who win, this is for you.  I highly recommend it (on both counts)!!  Oh, yeah, Matt Damon stars (again).  He is rapidly compiling a significant body of work.
True Grit (the new version) – pretty much follows the original John Wayne classic and then disappoints (me) at the end.  It’s a more realistic ending, but who cares – it’s not a four-poster.  I’d watch them both if I were you and then let me know which you think is better.  This version has Jeff Bridges playing John Wayne (I mean Rooster Cogburn) and it’s a good solid performance.  Oh, yeah, there’s Matt Damon again…  Recommended, but definitely see the first version too.
Harry Potter – Deathly Hallows part 2: a good, solid movie and ending to the series.  I am not a devotee to the books, but I felt it was fairly close.  Interestingly, they did not make the same mistake as Transformers 3, they assume you saw the other movies or read the books, cover the transition into the part two movie in about ten minutes tops and get on with the rest of the story.  I saw this on opening day with Sarah, in Liverpool, in 3D.  For some reason, the things not immediately focused on were blurry.  I’m not sure if this was meant to increase the feel of the 3D or not, but I did not find 3D added much to the movie.  I will definitely pick this up on DVD (in 2D).  Highly recommended if you’ve seen any of the other earlier movies…
Battle: Los Angeles: this was probably the surprise movie of the bunch for me.  I did NOT expect anything from the movie except the pleasure of (once again) seeing Los Angeles get destroyed.  Unfortunately, LA gets saved, but at least it gets thoroughly trashed before it gets saved and the movie is a good action movie.  It’s gung-ho, Marines, oo-rah, but who cares…  It stars Aaron Eckhart (who I first noticed and loved in The Core) and he makes a surprisingly good Marine sergeant.  It’s definitely over the top for the military and the Marines and I loved it.  Great summer entertainment.  Highly recommended.  Oo-rah!!
The Lincoln Lawyer:  a smart law / lawyer movie.  Who would have thunk it?  Stars Matthew McConaughey as a lawyer who does much of his work from a mini-office in a classic Lincoln towncar (oh, I get the title now).  Of course, he’s also out to do the right thing and help the down-trodden – just like ol’ Honest Abe (oh, I get the title now).  Not as interesting as A Law Abiding Citizen (above), but another entertaining adult movie.  Recommended, but not quite highly recommended.
Country Strong: first let’s get the facts out of the way – 1) I listen to country music (a lot), and 2) I think Gwyneth Paltrow is a beautiful and talented actress.  Still, the movie didn’t reach me.  The songs were not that good and the performances (of the songs) were not that good either.  I just didn’t believe Paltrow was a star or the up and coming male singer was up and coming.  I also just didn’t buy into the story of the producer / husband, either.  I know there’s a lot of that in all forms of the music industry – I just didn’t buy it.  This movie came highly recommended by my daughter (Rebecca), but I think she misjudged me on it.  It was okay, but I would not really recommend it and I’m glad I didn’t pay to see it (it was on the flight home).
Captain America:  This was a first for me…  I saw the movie twice – on consecutive days – first in 3D and then in normal 2D.  I was supposed to see it with my son, James, over the weekend, but I went up to visit my brother, Sean, and he wanted to go see it with his son.  So the three of us went to his local movie house.  I really enjoyed the movie!  Of course, it’s VERY over the top on patriotism and rah-rah America, but it’s about World War II and Captain America.  If you can’t get past that, why did you plan to go see the movie?  Chris Evans is much more believable in this role than he was as the Human Torch in the two Fantastic Four movies.  I think it’s because Evans really does play the role seriously (completely unlike Seth Rogen in The Green Hornet).  I also feel Hugo Weaving made a great Red Skull (the bad guy).  I noticed the same blurring of out of primary focus characters in the 3D version (the same effect I saw in HP-Hallows Part 2).  I did not notice the blurring in the 2D version, so again, I’m thinking it’s something the director is trying to do to add depth to the movie or it’s the result of something funky in 3D movie technique.  It doesn’t work for me.
While I’ve stated several times I am not a big 3D fan, I must admit when I watched both versions in close proximity, I missed the 3D effect.  Somehow, my mind remembered and I was expecting it, and I noticed not getting it in the 2D version.  I doubt this will ever happen again, because I doubt I’ll pay to see two version so close together – but it was an interesting sensory experience.
Well, if you’ve made it this far, congratulations!  You get a No-prize and a promise I’ll try not to do another marathon blog like this for a while.
I’ve got more to say about our trip to Liverpool and photos – but that’s for another day/blog.
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I watched Rooster Cogburn with Hil this evening. I’ve seen it before – many years ago – but had forgotton what a terrific little movie it was. John Wayne and Katharine Hepburn were terrific together. The dialogue was witty and they played off each other tremendously. It was JW’s 2nd to last movie and he was already dying of cancer at the time.
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