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What I did on St. Patrick's Day:
Jacksonville Icemen 5, Georgia Gladiators 4.
Minor league ice hockey might not sound an Irish way to pass the time, but they fight like true drunken expatriates. Saint Patrick would be proud.
At the request of friend Randy, who wanted an easier way to find reviews for particular movies, I have updated my movie list (found here or via the link at the bottom of every page) to include links to reviews when they exist. You're welcome, Randy!
Now, on to new-to-Walter movie reviews for February!
21. (1250.) The Shiek (1921)
This is the movie that made Rudolph Valentino a star. A century later, it's hard to see why. The story is that old cliche: arab (Valentino) kidnaps strong-willed woman, she tries to escape and is kidnapped by an even worse arab, and she realizes that she loves her original kidnapper because he was slightly less rapey. *shrug* Make America Great Again, I guess.
22. (1251.) Gleaming the Cube (1989)
Skating! Drugs! Vietnam guilt! Rampant product placement! Christian Slater! It's the eighties in a movie. (And I still don't know what "gleaming the cube" means.)
Did I mention the product placement? It's hard to tell how much of the products and advertisements seen in the film were paid, but Pizza Hit, the (original) L.A. Rams, and Coca-Cola are the big winners here.
This is just the tip of the iceberg. They might as well have been skating inside a bottling plant.
23. (1252.) Goosebumps (2015)
Hey, this children's horror movie isn't bad. Even in this "I've got kids now" stage of his career, Jack Black is still funny.
24. (1253.) Shaun the Sheep Movie (2015)
Just fantastic! (Of course. Aardman Animations always brings the quality.) Highly recommended.
25. (1254.) An Inconvenient Truth (2006)
I've never been a big Al Gore fan, but it's a painful reminder to see what science had to say about climate change a decade ago and know that we're still not doing much about it. Ugh. We're all going to die.
More to come.
In 1977, my father took me to see Star Wars after he had already seen it once. He loved it and wanted me to love it too. I don't remember anything about that experience. I was only 2. However, we did have a VCR — it was huge with faux wood paneling — and I would watch the movie over and over and over again in the years following. We also recorded and rewatched the infamous Holiday Special.
In 1981, my father took me to see Empire Strikes Back in a theater after it had been playing a few weeks. I can't tell you exactly where. All I remember was that it had red walls in the lobby. Though at the time I was disappointed by the cliffhanger ending, I wasn't disappointed enough not to love all the cool new toys. Not long afterwards, my brother accidentally decapitated my original black-vested Han Solo figure, and my parents replaced him with a Han in Hoth gear. What a downgrade. (I retaliated by running over Trey's sensorscope R2-D2 with my bicycle.)
In 1983, my friend Greg Owens saw Return of the Jedi before I did. He complained the movie had too many purple-lipped talking dogs in it. Their catchphrase, Greg said, was "Eat your momma." When I finally saw it (again with my family, again theater unknown though probably in Stone Mountain, GA), his review was borne out. By Christmas, I had all the available Ewok action figures and a Wicket doll.
In 1999, I saw The Phantom Menace at the new Hollywood 24 theater in Atlanta with friends. The movie was fine enough — in fact I think I continue to like it more than many — but I was disappointed by how many people I spoke to seemed to love it for what they put into it, not what it was. Darth Maul, like Boba Fett before him, particularly irked me. Fans decided he was cool because he looked cool. Their love was for a thing they had created in their heads, not a character that had appeared on screen. This realization that fans loved the franchise not for what it was but for what they wanted it to be was the beginning of the end of my love affair with Star Wars. I have a hard time associating with people who worship style over substance.
In 2002, I watched Attack of the Clones at the United Artists Scottsdale Pavilions theater in Arizona with my brother. We both agreed the movie was terrible. Bad acting, worse writing. Between the forced romance and that CGI Artoo video game sequence, this film is almost unwatchable. I distinctly remember saying that the only reason anyone should pay money to see such a thing was to get out of the desert sun.
In 2005, I have no memory of watching Revenge of the Sith. My friend Keith has told me he remembers my laughter at the final reveal of Darth Vader, so I assume I watched it in Atlanta, presumably back at the Hollywood 24. It was awful. How could any so-called fans of the older Star Wars films still love this franchise after old Ben Kenobi was revealed as the kind of man who turned his back on his friends and his responsibilities, "master" Yoda was an isolationist failure, or Vader himself was a tantrum-throwing idiot? Weren't these supposed to be kids movies? Yuck! If this was the Star Wars Universe, I wanted no more part of it.
In 2015, I watched The Force Awakens at some theater on the north side of Atlanta with reserved seating in recliners that kept my feet from touching the ground. I didn't want to see it, but I'd made the mistake of saying I'd watch it if they found a way to bring Han Solo back. They did. I watched. I found it an insulting exercise in nostalgia. (Hey, guys, let's forget all that prequel nonsense. Remember what you liked about Star Wars? Here it is again!) It's now the highest grossing film of all time.
In 2016, I watched Rogue One at Regal Cinemas 11 in Panama City, Florida. It was my father's birthday present. It was a bad present. The movie was yet another excuse for brand reinforcement, a short story intended to fill gaps in the original Star Wars backstory with stereotypical yet well-costumed characters that would make good action figures.
In 2017, Disney released The Last Jedi. A new one already? As if I wasn't burnt out enough. I hear it's different. I hear this one will change everything I've ever thought about Star Wars. I feel like I've heard that before. Maybe I'll see it one day when it comes on television. Maybe. I'm not in any hurry anymore.
I want to finish listing the movies I watched in 2017 before we get to 2018, so I need to double time these reviews. Here is November part 2 of 3.
149. (1208.) Doc Savage: The Man of Bronze (1975)
This movie's intro and finale borrow the worst bits of 1966's Batman approach to sound effects, but most of it is more in the vein of Adventures of Superman. That's when it's at its best.
150. (1209.) Ladyhawke (1985)
I thought I would enjoy this, but not so much. The costumes and sets were fantastic. The music, however, felt incredibly out of place, constantly reminding me that I was watching a modern take on a fairy tale. Matthew Broderick's constant one-liner anachronisms didn't help. Still, it is a much better movie than Krull.
151. (1210.) Speed Racer (2008)
This film, on the other hand, was great fun (if a bit hard on the eyes). It was surprisingly respectful (perhaps too respectful) of its dumb-as-bricks source material, which I do like. Racer X is the man.
152. (1211.) The Big Sick (2017)
I know this relationship comedy was based (loosely) on a true story experienced by lead actor Kumail Nunjiani, so maybe that's why it still felt so honest. The extended cast all conveyed the feel of real (dysfunctional) families. Good work.
More to come, sooner than later.
Back in September, I had planned to take friend Michael to his first UGA game. That plan was disrupted by Brian's wedding. Today was the make-up date.
Mike had never even been in Athens until arriving for today's game. He's not much of a football person, but he tells me that he had a good time watching the #1 Bulldogs running over the Gamecocks, 24-10. I'm inclined to believe him. I had a good time myself.
Football season has me stressed out. The Bulldogs are having a great year, but I live in dread of the inevitable loss. The Dolphins are having a . . . I'm still not sure what they're having, but it hasn't been easy to watch.
To calm those nerves, let's watch some movies! October, part 1 of 3:
130. (1189.) Xanadu (1980)
YES! This DVD was loaned to me by my new BFF Micheal. The movie is everything I hoped it would be, by which I mean terrible with a great soundtrack. Let the good times roll! Thanks, Mike!
131. (1190.) Gone in 60 Seconds (1974)
This was the original, not the Nick Cage remake. Forget plot and character. This is really just an excuse for a 30-minute long car chase/destruction derby. If you live for the third act of The Blues Brothers, then this is your sort of movie.
132. (1191.) The Magnificent Seven (2016)
This isn't the original, this is the Denzel Washington remake. The remake has nice, glossy cinematography and a dumber than real life villain with a lot, I mean a lot of very gory violence. Frankly, I'll take Yul Brynner and Steve McQueen instead, thank you.
133. (1192.) They Live By Night (1948)
Two kids on the wrong side of the law fall in love and live . . . on the wrong side of the law. Until, you know, the law catches them. That's how these noir movies always end. Still, it's pretty good while it lasts, and I guess that's the point.
134. (1193.) Jack Reacher: Never Go Back (2016)
Never Go Back is a terrible name for a sequel. As expected, this is more of the same as the first movie. I'd watch a third if it came along.
More to come.
The Miami Dolphins came to Atlanta for their first visit to
Georgia Dome 2.0 Mercedes Benz Stadium, and I went to see them with my friends, Falcons fans Keith and Ken (and their lovely wives).
In the first half, the Dolphins played like the Dolphins, stumbling into a 0-17 hole. Jay Cutler was the worst he's been all season, playing without inspiration or conviction, placing balls where they would do the least good for the receivers. Just horrible.
However, in the second half, the Falcons played like the Falcons, committing penalties, throwing interceptions, failing to tackle, and just refusing to finish a game. The Falcons scored 0 second half points. The Dolphins scored 20.
Final score, 20-17, Dolphins! Whoo-hoo! Thank you, Falcons!
I would be remiss if I didn't mention my first impression of the new stadium. All I've heard is how wonderful it is. Don't believe the hype.
- The much ballyhooed 360° HD halo screen is worthless for half of the stadium. Those on the ground floor have to stare at the ceiling to see anything. Those in the rafters (like me) can't see half the screen because the near edge obscures the top half of the far side screen. (Given that they can't even make the roof open — not that you'd be able to tell from most of the seats — I assume that it would have been too hard to pitch the screens into a cone so that they would be visible to all?)
- Stadium concourses are given over almost exclusively to concessions with queue lines cutting into walkways, making it impossible to get around without running through crowds standing in line for beer and $2 hot dogs.
- And if you want a $2 hot dog, get one early. Lines don't move quickly. I didn't go myself, but watching and listening to those around me, the minimum wait time appeared to be 15 minutes. (And if you want a Coke, your only option is to stand in line for a fill-it-yourself fountain cup which entitles you to stand in line by the "free refills" drink fountains. That's two lines for the price of one!)
- Speaking of 15 minutes, that was the wait time for restroom breaks — to the men's room!
In short, I didn't see that this stadium was an improvement in any way over the Georgia Dome save the welcome presence of natural light, and I got the impression that I must not be alone. From the very beginning of the game, there were huge blocks of empty seats visible all over the stadium. (I'd guess it was half full.) Given the stadium's evident disdain for people who actually want to watch a game of football, I can't blame those ticket holders for wanting to spend their time doing something other than watch football there.
But enough about that. I went to the building not to pass judgement on it, but to watch a football game with friends. In the end, I think a good time was had by all.*
*At least, all of us cheering for the Dolphins.
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Today was a UGA home game. The Bulldogs played Samford in Sanford Stadium at 7:30pm. However, I wasn't there to see it. Instead, I had to spend the day on Tybee Island with Mom.
Don't get me wrong. I love Tybee. (And I love Mom.) Tybee is a charming coastal town with some fantastic scenery. (And Mom is Mom.) I'm happy to report that most of the island survived Hurricane Irma just fine, though plenty of scars from last week's storm were still visible everywhere. But it wasn't Tybee's beauty or Irma's wrath (or Mom's Momness) that brought us to the Georgia coast. No, we were here to attend friend Brian's beach wedding in the shadow of Tybee's historic lighthouse.
Mom rented a wonderful house at 117 Cedarwood Drive, and she, Audrey, July, and I used it as a base of operations for our weekend stay. Mom frequently visited the beach (just a few hundred yards to our north) to collect shells, each time leaving Audrey behind to rue Tybee's draconian "no pets on the beach" policy.
Sadly, I somehow managed not to take any pictures of the groom or bride, Veronika. For that matter, I don't have any pictures of groomsmen friends Ken, Keith, or Michael, either. The wedding party didn't show up on the beach until after the wedding officiant warned the attendees not to take pictures because that was the wedding photographer's job. Instead, you'll just have to be satisfied with this screen grab from the lovebird's official wedding website.
In fact, the only picture I have of the wedding was taken by friend James. (James was one of my few friends in attendance who wasn't actually in the wedding party. Matt was the other. Why was I not in the wedding party? I'm sure it had no small part to do with my vowing to Brian after Keith's wedding that I would never wear anything dressier than jeans to a wedding again. "Except mine?" Brian asked. "Even yours," I answered. That's what I like about Brian. He listens.) James couldn't resist disobeying the order not to take any pics, but he somehow still managed not to get the wedding party. (Reminder: "Never do what James does.")
I haven't attended a lot of weddings. I don't like them. Yet I found this one left an especially bittersweet taste for many reasons, not the least of which was that Brian was the last of my single friends likely to get married. From this point forward, we're all more likely to reunite at a funeral than another wedding. That's an uncomfortable thought, though it's better than imagining the possibility that I may have to sit through yet another wedding ceremony.
Good luck, Brian and Veronika. Do me a favor and be so happy together that we don't have to do this all over again, ok? Thanks.
Movies. June. 3/3.
90. (1149.) Cornered (1945)
The plot mostly involves Dick Powell getting hit in the head a lot until he accidentally murders the right guy. It might be a rough watch if not for Powell's commitment to the role. He totally owned the noir films he was in. He's so good at noir, it's almost hard for me to watch him in his early song and dance films.
91. (1150.) Gypsy (1962)
The true life story of
Gypsy Lee Rose Gypsy Rose Lee as told in song! I hope in real life, Gypsy Lee Rose Gypsy Rose Lee was more charming on stage than the very appropriately named Natalie Wood. (I liked the film anyway. It was pretty good when Wood wasn't on screen.)
92. (1151.) Zabriskie Point (1970)
My view of late 1960s counter-culture was formed purely by episodes of Dragnet and The Monkees. This film sets out to prove that both of those models were completely accurate. The movie is as beautiful as it is vapid, as though made with a child's understanding of hippie reality and a college art student's pretentious self-indulgence. Re-reading my review, I find I've made it sound far more enjoyable than it actually is.
93. (1152.) When the Game Stands Tall (2014)
Biopic of Bob Ladouceur, who comes across as the Jesus of high school football coaches. There's more than a little luck in his story, but I certainly wish more coaches would emphasize doing the right thing over gridiron victories.
94. (1153.) Wonder Woman (2017)
As I quipped to Coop, the film is called Wonder Woman because Mediocre Woman wouldn't sell as many tickets. Gal Godot is amazing. Everything else is only ho-hum. The third act in particular is a real slog. Way to wear out your welcome, Wonder Woman.
95. (1154.) I Married a Witch (1942)
Fantastic movie with some pretty good special effects for its era. Lana Turner has a reputation as a hell raiser and rumor has it that her costar liked to call this movie "I Married a Bitch." Perhaps that's why she seems so right for her role as a devil woman tricked into mortal matrimony. Recommended.
More to come.
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Not so long ago, Cam suggested that there should be an official Wriphe.com Seal of Approval. I approved of her suggestion.
And now I approve of this.
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