Wednesday, October 14, 2015


Ok, it was super hot again in San Diego, so the wife and I escaped the heat and saw Pan.  I had read bad things about it, but was pleasantly surprised and entertained.  

The movie starts with Peter in an orphanage run by a cruel penguinesque nun who is hoarding all the food like a jerk.  Peter notices that boys are missing.  Apparently Blackbeard the Pirate has been buying orphans to work in his fairy dust mine in Neverland.  One night Peter and his friend are awakened to find the Pirates snatching orphans from their beds and whisked off to a flying pirate ship up above.  The film seems to be set during the blitz of WWII for some reason, maybe to add more excitement and action to the flying ship scene?  Peter ends up in Neverland working at the mine with Mr. Hook.  

So, this movie is a prequel to the Peter Pan cartoon by Disney.  I never read any of J.M. Barre's works, but I started reading Peter and Wendy after seeing this movie.  So far it is very good.  Barre is an interesting literary figure.  I did not know that the original Peter Pan was an infant in Barre's The Little White Bird.  Then the Peter Pan I know from the cartoon is more from Barre's play Peter Pan and from the book Peter and Wendy.  The other interesting thing I did now know was that Peter was originally played by a female in the first showing of the play and then on from there.  I remember the recent version of Pan they put on the boobtube recently had a female playing Peter, but I guess it is tradition.  

They used Nirvana's Teenspirit for the scene at the mine, and also the Ramones Blitzkrieg Bop later on, that was surprising.  Of course Hugh Jackman plays Blackbeard the Pirate, who is keeping himself eternally young by smoking the fairy dust he has the orphans mine.  Jackman is the consummate professional and is reinvented to be almost unrecognizable and is a bad guy.  Hook is played by Garrett Hedlund, who seems to be channeling Tom Waits throughout the film via his voice.  

One personal subtext to the movie is that my wife had just done the Color Run that morning while I slept in, and the scene where the Pirates attack the natives has colorful explosions similar to what they do at the color run.  We both looked at each other during that scene in a brief moment of recognition.  

Peter Pan is full of doubt about his powers and identity until the end of the film, so it was a nice ending to an action filled romp.  I am very interested in the adventures of the lost boys and their tree home that I remember from the Disney cartoon.  Like the minions, it would be fun to see some more of their adventures, but maybe that will be satisfied by finishing Peter and Wendy.  I am going to rewatch the Peter Pan cartoon soon.  

The Martian

Talk about some NASA propaganda, jimminy xmas.  Everyone is going to be sciencing the shit out of everything for a few months.  I have to admit I did get a little caught up in the excitement of it all.  But the good thing about Apollo 13 was you saw much of the hard work that saved those astronauts.  But in the Martian you find yourself thinking about the Fast and Furious franchise and how improbable the stunts and action are.  In one scene Matt Damon cuts a hole in his suit and "iron mans" it over to Chastain.  That reminds me, Chaistain was in that other propaganda piece Zero Dark Torture.  Our military complex overlords must like her for some reason.  

But seriously folks, this is an entertaining movie that attempts Apollo 13 heights, but does not quite get there.  I definitely enjoyed it though.  

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

The Intern

I was very excited to see two of the guys from Workaholics in this movie:  Adam Devine and Anders Holm.  I wonder why Blake Anderson was not in it.  Ders was married to Anne Hathaway.  Adam Devine seemed to be the head of the intern program with Robert DeNiro as one of the interns.  Zack Perlman plays one of the interns too.

The main plot of the movie involves Robert De Niro's character Ben Whittaker, a 70 year old retired former telephone book executive, bored with retirement, he becomes an intern at Anne Hathaway's character's new start-up company that sells clothes to women, called About the Fit.  Of course the acting excitement is between these two heavyweights, Hathaway and De Niro, toe to toe.  De Niro's character is very subtle and quiet, waiting for an opportunity to truly help Hathaway's character, a busy female executive juggling her family and business life.  The conflict comes when the VC want About the Fit to hire a CEO because they feel uneasy about Hathaway's experience level.  What the Viet Cong have to do with this is a mystery to me.  What is this?  The Deer Hunter?  Jokes aside, VC refers to Venture Capitalists who apparently invested in this About the Fit business.  That is the business conflict, but the personal conflict is Hathaway's marriage to Ders.  Ders apparently has a way with the ladies, and another mom at their kid's school can't keep her hands off the Ders.

Ders playing a husband was interesting.  He pulled it off.  He did wear a scraggly beard though, I did wonder why they made that choice.  I guess he is a stay at home dad, so no need to scrape the face, but what if he needed to wear a gas mask or something, a clean shave would help keep the poisonous gasses outside of that mask.  Just saying.

JoJo Kushner plays Ders and Hathaway's child Paige.  She does a great job playing a miniature version of her mother's character.  De Niro has many scenes with Kushner and they play well off of each other for fun times on the screen.

De Niro (72), of course, has a love interest, Rene Russo.  I always think of Mel Gibson movies when I see Russo (61).   That line from Danny Glover's Murtaugh, "I'm getting too old for this shit."  So, Bobby D. is 72 and Russo is 61 in real life.  But in the movie, Ben is 70 and I did not catch Russo's character's age.  But still a ten year difference is not bad in Hollywood.  It was a good fit.  Russo plays a massage therapist that works at About the Fit.  She meets De Niro when she gives him a chair massage as a reward for cleaning the business's junk table that seems to bother Hathaway everytime she walks by it.  Their romance is interesting, first date at a funeral, and foot massages that appear to be something else to Zack Perlman's character.

So how does this movie play out the two conflicts?  They do not hire a CEO because Hathaway's character is so passionate about her business, no one else would be.  And Ders apologizes for being so desirable to all the ladies.  I liked this movie and the characters.  A bunch of talented people making some commercial art.  Good stuff.

Saturday, September 26, 2015


This movie creates mass quantities of tension, yet it is filled with still moments.  It is a commentary on the drug war and how it has intensified in the Mexican cities bordering the US, specifically Juarez.  

Josh Brolin plays a CIA agent working in the US and Mexico.  His character is very informally dressed and seems to treat the whole affair with mischievous glee.  I have a tendency to think of CIA agents as sitting in the library or in their offices as planes fly into buildings, than an overly competent performer of tasks.  But that is my prejudginess.  I guess my thinking on this is that if the government was filled with such talented individuals we would not be in the messes we are in now.  

One line delivered by Josh Brolin's character was very interesting.  I can only paraphrase:  until 20% of the US population stops using narcotics the war on drugs will continue.  

Emily Blunt plays an FBI agent working on hostage issues on the US border.  Her character is dragged along on the CIA's domestic incursion into the drug trade.  Her character kind of works as an unknowing observer as these other characters seem to know what is going on.  

They also use what appears to be a seal team as muscle in their forays into danger.  The film is kind of propaganda for what the Department of Homeland Security wishes would happen:  inter agency cooperation, the CIA, FBI, Defense Dept., and local law enforcement working together in perfect harmony, although they seem to put state level agencies in a bad light both in the US and in Mexico.  Ted is a character that is dirtied by the cartel and tries to kill Blunt's character.  Ted is a local police detective.  And the Mexican police officer that they portray as a family man is also working with the cartels.  

Benicio Del Toro plays someone that has been hurt by the cartels, his family was murdered brutally.  The film can be seen as a revenge film.  It appears the crux of the CIA's plan is to create chaos in the cartels by setting Alejandro (del Toro's character) loose on them as a Sicario or hitman with all the support of a Navy seal team/homeland security behind him.  We should all be so lucky if we need such revenge.  It makes me think of all those Saudis that flew into towers.  What do we do?  Keep buying their oil instead of converting to renewable energies, sell weapons to the Saudis and help them bomb the Yemenis.  But I digress.  

To me, and many US citizens, it seems like a huge waste of resources, policing and incarcerating millions of people for mental health issues like drug addiction.  Prohibition creates criminals.  It is funny how we allow alcohol use, though it causes so many problems, yet we do not allow other drugs to be used, and the result is the same but the illegality creates even more problems.  We should study Portugal's drug policies.  

Another issue that seems to always creep up in films about the US and Mexico is the use of the word "America."  America is a continent, North America has the countries Mexico, the United States, and Canada. Mexican citizens are also Americans.  Canadians are Americans.  US citizens are Americans. North Americans might be more accurate.  I just do not think the US has the monopoly on the use of American. One of those funny uses of language that I notice now and again.  

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Black Mass

Ok, so the one thing that bothered me was Johnny Depp's blue contacts.  I do not know what color Bulger's eyes were, but I didn't really think about it until I saw those contacts.  They kind of took me out of his performance.  I knew there was a Japanese guy in the Godzilla suit the whole time.  

But it was still a decent movie.  It made me think about institutions like the FBI and how they are made up of individuals.  Some of those individuals may be honest hardworking Americans, but some of them are not.  I think that when organizations are first founded, like the FBI, CIA, and other law enforcement groups, they are full of right minded people, but after they become an institution, a different type of person is there, someone that may not be all that honest.  Also, it made me think of that whole thin blue line, us against them, attitude that exists, especially after their organization is revealed to have less than desirable elements working within their ranks.  To bring another trite saying out, if the shoe fits, wear it.  The thing that makes the US great is that we air our dirty laundry.  

Joel Edgerton was perfectly slimy playing the dirtbag FBI agent John Connolly.  You just squirm in your seat as you watch him gather information for his killer friend Bulger.  Also Peter Sarsgard is unrecognizable playing a coked up bad guy, amazing performance.  I think there were many great performances by the supporting actors.  

I was worried that this movie would glorify violence and make Bulger out to be an anti-hero, like Goodfellas.  I remember after I got out of Goodfellas, I wanted to join the mafia, they made it look like so much fun.  But this was dark and sad, Bulger was just a paranoid crazy guy that killed anyone that might get him in trouble.  I just hope that criminal investigators and investigative reporters keep doing what they do and fighting the good fight. 

Thursday, September 10, 2015


Ok, this movie makes me think of a movie called The Great White Hype, a movie from way back in 1996.  Jake Gyllenhall's character's last name is Hope, the great white hope.

But strange comparisons aside, this movie pulls at your heartstrings with Hope's wife being accidentally killed, and losing custody of his daughter.  Forrest Whitaker (Tick) is awesome as the owner of a boxing gym that helps get Hope back in shape.

One thing that I thought was strange was Miguel Gomez's character.  He was supposed to be a Columbian from Columbia, they talk about his Columbian punching power, yet he speaks perfect English.  Not to say that all boxers are idiots, but I guess they should not have made a big deal about him being Columbian.

The other thing that bothered me was the whole Southpaw thing.  It just seemed kind of deus ex machina.  Maybe if Hope had started the final round fighting southpaw, but he switches to it, then wham, knocks the guy out.  I think maybe he should've switched a little earlier and more results as a southpaw, especially with a fight that goes to the judges.  I mean the name of the movie is Southpaw.

It was a touching movie when it comes to the custody battle and Hope working on getting his kid back.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Ricki and The Flash

Ok, I did not really want to see this, but it was very hot and my wife and I wanted to stay cool, so we went to this movie.

It ended up being an ok movie.  Meryl Streep does well as someone who wants to pursue her dream.  Rick Springfield is interesting as an old rocker guy.  Kevin Kline was good.  I think the only part I did not like was the daughter character.  She was supposed to be depressed because her husband left her, but they mainly showed her depression with bad makeup and clothing.  Mamie Gummer is her name, had to look it up.  She just kind of used these deadpan expressions.  I don't know.

But it all kind of came together at the end with the wedding scene, and Ricki and The Flash playing a song, and with Ricki's speech about the only gift she has is her music.  Made me tear up.  Waaah.

One thought I had about it was that maybe Meryl Streep's character should've been gay, had kids and was living this lie of a life, but was actually a gay musician, so she pursued that and left her old life behind.  I dunno.