One Bite at a Time




Monday, August 17, 2015

I'm Ba-a-a-a-ck



A combination of work and family matters finally got to the point where even the good stress left me no energy for the blog. Or reading, for that matter. My past month focused non-work hours on the logistics involved in getting The Sole Heir moved to Connecticut, where she started classes at the Frank Netter School of Medicine of Quinnipiac University last Monday.

After returning from the ceremony to receive her first white coat and stethoscope, the past week passed in a more or less vegetative state of sleeping late, discovering the joys of Late Night With Seth Myers (a much, much better show than Jimmy Fallon’s Tonight; I’m glad Johnny Carson isn’t around to see what they’ve done to his franchise), and watching baseball. Reading has been random exploration of Westerns and aimlessly picking topics from old Bill James Baseball Abstracts. Today I’m back to work—both here and at the paying gig—having accomplished what I set out to do: rest and refit, ready to get back into the regular routine. Look for interviews and some backed-up blog thoughts over the next few weeks.

Let’s start by catching up on the movies I’ve seen since last we spoke about them.

The Drop (2014). Exceptional film, discussed in greater detail a few weeks ago.

2 Guns (2014). This is dog shit. Don’t step in it. Yeah, I know it has Denzel Washington and Mark Walhberg, and they almost make it worth watching. It’s still dog shit, and you still shouldn’t step in it. (I'm not even giving it a picture, it's so shitty.)

Hombre (1967). One of the great Westerns, adapted from what might be Elmore Leonard’s best
book. Dry, with a hint of the wicked situational humor Leonard would become famous for, and screenwriters Irving Ravetch and Harriet Frank Jr. knew to leave it alone. A first rate cats is led by Paul Newman, Richard Boone (my favorite performance of his), and Martin Balsam, with Fredric March and Diane Cilento providing depth, along with Frank “Hey, Hombre!” Silvero. One of the ten greatest Westerns ever made.

Cold in July (2014). Great premise, not so much
with the execution. I watched most of it thinking how a book would have done some things better—character motivation, for instance—having forgotten it’s based on a Joe Lansdale novel. The casting and acting are fine, no problems with direction, good dialog, but there are plot holes that prevent the film from equaling the sum of its good parts. Don Johnson steals the show in a small part, but also points out the key weakness: this is a movie that can’t make up its mind about what tome to take. That’s a shame, since the premise—which I’ll not describe because there’s a spoiler inherent in it—is so good.

Down Periscope (1996). Not a great movie. Not even really a good movie, though it grew on me. The premise was fine (for a comedy) and the old pros on hand in the cast were great fun to watch. (In addition to star Kelsey Grammar, there were Harry Dean Stanton, Bruce Dern, and Rip Torn. Patton Oswalt’s face appears a couple of times. On the minus side, Rob Schneider gives what may be the worst screen performance ever. Excruciating to watch.) The movie goes out of its way to be crude, and it doesn’t work. What does work is the stereotypical “band of rejects and misfits comes together to stick it to The Man” plot that should have bored me. The first half hour had me wondering what I was doing here, but it wore me down until I left it as a nice way to end my week of mindlessness. I’m not sorry I watched it, though I can’t imagine watching it again.

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