Friday, July 29, 2016

Jason Bourne

Yep, my movie marathon continues.  Today I went to see Jason Bourne on the day it opened!! Woohoo!!!
No, I didn't go to the very first showing. It was the XD version, which means 3D, greatly enhanced sound, and shown in a very luxurious theater with fancy seats equipped with electronics...It also means a "greatly enhanced" ticket price, too.  Besides, a Bourne movie isn't what I want to see in 3D - almost too much action as it is.

I made it to the first "regular" showing which started an hour after the XD one.

This is a great film franchise with the hero going through incredible scenes and always coming out at the end with no one he can trust.

This film, Jason Bourne, is no exception to the pattern of the series. We find him deep undercover, his whereabouts literally unknown in the beginning. He is fighting for money in the countryside near the Serbian border.  Crowds of men encircle him and the huge Serbian champion betting on his opponent to win.  Of course he doesn't. Bourne makes enough money to continue his travels.

Meanwhile we find his old partner, Nicky (Julia Stiles) in Iceland going to a secret facility for world-class hackers. She hacks into the CIA and finds all the dirt they don't want publicized. She copies the files and plans to broadcast them to the world. While doing that, she finds out info on Bourne - how he was recruited, who he was, and who his father was. Trouble is, the CIA noticed those files being hacked, slipped in some malware, and pinpointed the location. Nicky got a copy of the files on a drive and was about to leave when the systems there went down.

Yep, the CIA pinpointed their location and sent a missile, or drone to destroy the place.  Nicky got out just in time before the place exploded. She contacts Bourne who tells her to meet him in Athens. Trouble is, the CIA has found her picture on facial recognition entering the airport and traces her to Athens.  They are on the move, figuring Bourne will be there, too.

Tommy Lee Jones reprises his role as Dewey, the head of the CIA. He wants Bourne found and wants him taken out. Bourne is such an inconvenience, knowing where all the bones are buried. A young woman who found the hack asks to be put in charge of the operation. Heather Lee (Alicia Vikander) is ambitious and cold, just the kind Dewey likes. But he mistakenly thinks she can be easily manipulated.

I have to say Tommy Lee Jones is a marvelous actor.  Recently I watched a repeat of the last episode of Lonesome Dove, in which he played Captain Woodrow Call. He was magnificent as the crusty ex-Texas Ranger.  In the end, he had me weeping buckets.

Quite a difference from his portrayal of CIA Director Dewey, an arrogant, frostbitten villain.

He calls in his Asset (chillingly played by Vincent Cassel) to find Bourne and "neutralize" him.

Thus begins a murder spree and a hair-raising series of car chases, culminating in the big one through the Vegas strip.  It's a particularly fast-paced thrill ride. No, I didn't want to see this one in 3D.

When it's all over, Bourne is battered but still free.  Lee makes one more attempt to get him to trust her and come back to the CIA.  Bourne, however, is way ahead of her. He leaves her and walks away.  When she gets into her car, there's a camera waiting on the front seat which contains her meeting with the head of National Security in which she says she can make Bourne come back and if he won't he can be taken down.

Thus, Bourne is seen walking away, once more alone and friendless, but living to fight another day. He has avenged his father's murder in this one, but still has some scores to settle.

Never boring, this movie flies along at warp speed. The reason I don't want to see it in 3D is an unfortunate tendency at times to get motion sickness with a lot of fast moving action onscreen. Today in the regular movie format, I bitterly regretted downing the protein bar I brought from home. I just wanted to alleviate the yearnings when I could hear and smell everybody else enjoying their popcorn. Big mistake there. Note to self: don't ever eat ANYTHING watching another Bourne film in the theater.

Actually, this is a great action picture. There is literally never a dull moment. Matt Damon is a wonderful actor who plays Jason Bourne with ruthless efficiency and world-weary disgust at what he has to do. He is essentially a good guy stuck in a nightmare world.

I saw him interviewed recently in which he was asked if he would do yet another Bourne film. His answer? Of course he would...Looking forward to it.

What a great way to get out of the summer heat and become engrossed in a good movie.

Until next time...

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Absolutely Fabulous: the Movie

"Sweetie, Darling, Let me in!!!" If you've ever watched the Britcom called Absolutely Fabulous or AB FAB for short, you know PR mogul, Edina Monsoon has a snootful once more and is begging her much put upon adult daughter, Saffron (Saffy) to let her in the house. She can't quite figure out the complexities of opening the door...

This was an outrageous television show and the movie carries on the tradition. The cast remains the same for the main characters with a veritable host of British fashion, film, and television stars playing themselves.

Jennifer Saunders plays Edina. She also wrote the script as she did for the television show with her writing partner comedienne Dawn French.

Johanna Lumley recreates her role as Patsy Stone, the ultra chic fashion magazine editor and Edina's best friend.  They do everything together.

Julia Sawalha plays Saffron, Edina's daughter.

Jane Horrocks plays Bubble, Edina's rattle-brained assistant.

June Whitfield plays Mother, Edina's slightly out of it aged parent.

So Edina is having a tough time with her PR business. Down to one client, singer Lulu, she is desperate to sign someone else. She had dictated her autobiography to Bubble, but didn't read it before giving it to a publisher.  When she met with him, she found Bubble had written the beginning paragraph as she heard it. But everything afterward in what looks like a 100,000 word manuscript is "blah, blah, blah..." Edina expected a big advance, but of course, gets nothing.

Hearing supermodel Kate Moss is seeking new representation, Edina and Patsy put on their fashionable best (in Edina's case it's an elaborate hodgepodge as usual). They go to a big fashion affair where designer and Sir Paul's daughter, Kate McCartney sees them come in. She tells a friend, "She better not be wearing MY clothes!"

Edina sends in her granddaughter (yes granddaughter, these two are indeed long in the tooth) to speak to Kate Moss, who is sitting on the terrace wall overlooking the Thames. Edina rushes over stumbling along the way.  She and Pats have prepared for the evening in their usual manner drinking champagne and vodka, taking whatever pills they can find, and topping it off with a few tokes of weed.  Needless to say they are both wasted.

So the inevitable happens, Edina stumbles into Kate Moss, knocks her off the terrace wall and into the river, where she disappears. A police search is held but she is not found. Everyone at the party immediately says Edina murdered the popular model. They loudly and viciously turn against her.  She is detained by the London police. Finally, she is released while they investigate. She is told not to leave the country. Her daughter is dating one of the detectives, which complicates matters further.

She becomes a prisoner in her own home with crowds of the international press outside the gates and people screaming insults. The last straw is when a brick sails through one of her windows with a note saying "I hate you." She's the subject of all the newscasts and newspaper headlines. While the populace makes a large shrine beside the Thames to Kate Moss.

Naturally Patsy is with her. Both of them broke, they manipulate someone to fund their voyage, someone else to impersonate them, and they slip out to fly to France.  On the cheapo airline, the only one they can afford, they run into the world's rudest flight attendant, played by Rebel Wilson.

Their adventure truly begins across the pond. They are confronted with their age, learning what old lovers think of them, etc. True to their nature, they find a way to manipulate their situation to their advantage and learn next to nothing from it.

The film is a hoot, with a host of memorable scenes. Lots of British and a couple of American celebs play themselves.  Look for Gwendolyn Christie, the Lady Knight Brienne in Game of Thrones; Lulu; Stella McCartney; Joan Collins (who looks magnificent for her age); John Hamm, who turns out to be one of Patsy's former lovers (he tries to run away from her when she approaches him); Graham Norton, who DOES run away from Edina; and Dawn French (much thinner than in her Vicar of Dibley days) to name but a few.

There's no message to this film and nothing socially redeemable. I guess if you like that sort of thing I'd say,

"You can't keep a party girl down, no matter her age."

This one is loaded with foul language, inappropriate references, etc. So if you don't like that sort of thing, be forewarned.

Whether Edina and Pats are fleeing the gendarmes in a stolen seafood truck, or Saffron is serenading a club full of drag queens by singing "I learned the truth at seventeen..." until all the queens are in tears, this one is a comic treasure trove, usually at the expense of the main characters.

For all of us AB FAB fans, this one has been long in coming. Go and enjoy it!

Whew, that's my mini movie marathon - two movies in two days, seen in theaters.

Until next time...

Star Trek Beyond

The third film in the Abrams' Star Trek franchise just opened last week. This is the first one not directed by him. He's given credit as the producer. Simon Pegg (Montgomery Scott) is credited as one of the script writers. Also credited for the script is Gene Roddenberry, the original creator of the franchise, who passed away years ago. I'm glad they incorporated his original ideas in the story, it shows.

The scope of this picture is huge. They are in the third year of their five year mission in uncharted space. The film opens with Kirk in the middle of a diplomatic assignment in which he contacts a species previously unknown. In the beginning it looks ominous but quickly turns to comedy. There's the touch of Simon Pegg as the scriptwriter.

The film continues at warp speed, filling the screen with amazing special effects and an enormous base in deep space which encloses a large glittering city, populated by scores of sapient lifeforms, some human, some not. There is also docking space for gigantic starships like the Enterprise. There is a mechanized shipbuilding area where robotics are used to build starships.

Star Trek Beyond is the first Trek film in several years that truly feels like one of the television episodes, to a much grander scale, of course. Maybe it's the Roddenberry influence in the script.

Upon leaving the station for a rescue mission of a crew captured by hostiles on a world hidden in a vast nebula, the Enterprise is destroyed, leaving the crew to take their escape pods down to a planet hostile in itself, not to mention the inhabitants.

It is there the crew members are captured by Krall, a lizard-like alien played by the great English actor, Idris Elba. He also plays Heimdall in the Thor movies.  You won't recognize him in this one, not even his voice.  I already knew he played the role and still didn't recognize him or his voice. By the way, if you get a chance to see the BBC series "Luther" in which he stars, take it.  It's an excellent series, in which he plays a world weary detective.

Okay, here's my one problem with this movie...the alien makeup used for Krall looks almost exactly like a character I remember from an old television series, "The Outer Limits." Look, I know most of the people who see STB are not old enough to remember "The Outer Limits," which pre-dated the original Star Trek series. But I do because it was one of my favorite episodes.  Ah well, I guess everything comes around again. Forgive me for being a Trekker nerd (and no, I am NOT a Trekkie, there's a distinction.) Besides, I've known worse ones than me. At least I don't argue with the number of decks the Enterprise has in a movie. I once heard a friend say Starfleet technical manuals specify the number of decks in the Enterprise to be 80 and the film showed 120. Believe me, I'm not THAT bad.

There were quite a few of the original Star Trek fans at the movie yesterday. Why they gotta be so old?!!! One silver haired lady sat working a crossword puzzle with a penlight throughout the previews, only stopping when the film began...

Wonderful performances are given by all the regulars in the film series, with an added melancholy turn for Chekhov (played by the late Anton Yelchin) who was finally growing up. He looked older in this one, not the gawky young man he was in the first two. He looked taller and heavier, more muscled than before, a man not a teen-ager.

A new alien, Jaylah (played by newcomer Sofia Boutella) is added to the cast. Given the ending of the film, I have a feeling she may return to the crew eventually. Her makeup is wonderful.

The film is a huge, fast-paced thrill ride. Not surprising, Justin Lin of the Fast and Furious films, directed this one.

This is one you should see in a movie theater on the big screen.

There is a lovely tribute to the original cast of Star Trek, which made me start to tear up.

Of course the credits made me cry. It is dedicated in loving memory to Leonard Nimoy.

Then below that it simply reads "For Anton."

Even for an old Trekker like me, I must admit Star Trek still lives and is definitely going in the right direction.

Okay, I'm hoping to get to the Absolutely Fabulous (AB FAB)  movie today or tomorrow. Based on a hysterical Britcom, irreverent, and out there, I'm looking forward to it. I need a good round of raucous laughter, Sweetie Darling!

Review will most definitely follow.

Until next time...

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Who Ya Gonna Call?


Yep, today I went to the early show of the new Ghostbusters movie. Laughed my fool head off. Yes, some things were a bit familiar, but a lot of it was new.

The great cast includes Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon, Leslie Jones, and the incomparable Melissa McCarthy. This one not only has an all female team of ghostbusters, they also hire the world's dumbest secretary for his beefcake status...Chris Hemsworth does a surprising comic turn as Kevin, who took the glass out of his eyeglasses because it was always getting dirty. I never thought of him as a comedian, but he did a great job in this one. Stay tuned through the entire credits at the end and watch Hemsworth do his John Travolta, Saturday Night Fever, impersonation, complete with the disco floor. Yep, he can dance in a funny way, too.

Three of the original Ghostbusters (Harold Ramis died in 2014) have roles in this one, too. Bill Murray has a funny bit as a debunker who doesn't believe in ghosts. Dan Aykroyd has a great scene as a cab driver, it's a real hoot. Ernie Hudson shows up at the end in a surprising role. Oh yes and Mr. Stay Puft, the marshmallow man, makes an appearance stomping his way through NYC once again.  (Guess he never makes it to Camp Oconda.)

There are other familiar faces from the original, both human and CGI. There are some funny cameos such as Ozzy Osbourne in the middle of a scene of ghosts flying around him. You may be amazed who all you see.

Neal Casey does a good job as the evil bellhop who wants to rule the supernatural world and wants NYC citizens to be punished for their lack of appreciation for his genius.

This one had me laughing uproariously.  Good thing the theater only had one other couple in attendance. I tell you retirement is wonderful. You can get in to any movie if you go to the 10:00 am showing.

If you want a laugh-a-minute film, where you don't have to think or ask sociological questions, go see this one. It's hysterical, light-hearted summer fun. I look forward to the time when I watch it again.

Star Trek Beyond opens tonight but starts its official run tomorrow.  I will be there next Monday or Tuesday at their first show!!! Looking forward to it...

It's a good summer for movies. Check out something at your favorite theater.

"I ain't afraid of no ghost!!!"

Until next time...

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

The Legend of Tarzan

Let me start by saying I will rave on the attributes of Alexander Skarsgard at the end of this post.

While he is a handsome man, there is more to this film. In fact I read a hysterical blogpost written by a woman from New Zealand who raved in comic rhapsody about the star, pretending to notice nothing else in the film. It really was a pluperfect hoot.

Actually I found this film to be gorgeous.  Filmed in the Gabonese Republic in Africa and in England, the African shots are glorious. Wide ranging plains lead to lovely mountains with waterfalls, jungle, and a wide yellow river teeming with life. At one point there's a long shot of a flock of flamingoes soaring above the water.  Then there is a following shot of the men on the boat firing at them with one more shot of the villain and Tarzan's Jane being served roasted flamingo...Since the animals are mostly CGI it was okay.

There are a couple of wonderful scenes of Tarzan interacting with animals, i.e. the family of apes that adopted him as a child. There is another great scene of Tarzan and his friend, played by Samuel L. Jackson, with elephants they encountered in the jungle. The elephants seem sad. Of course there was an opening shot at a train station in Africa with open boxcars of elephant tusks rolling along the tracks.

Good performances all around include Skarsgard as Tarzan (Lord Greystoke), Margot Robbie as Jane Clayton (Lady Greystoke), Samuel Jackson as George Washington Williams, and Christoph Waltz as Rom (the villain working for the Belgian King).

Margot Robbie is a lovely, lithe actress who moves with grace.  She makes a great partner for Skarsgard's Tarzan.

Samuel Jackson plays a character who wants to expose the continuing slave trade in 1880s Africa.

Christoph Waltz, as always, makes a great villain, who is helping King Leopold connive the natives out of their diamonds in the Congo. But don't worry, even though he wins some of the skirmishes, Tarzan wins in the end.

Djimon Hounsou plays King Mbonga, Tarzan's mortal enemy.  He is a wonderful actor worthy of more leading roles. But that being said, he does a great job as the bitter king seeking revenge.

It's an adventure, fraught with peril, flying through the trees, swinging on vines, and fighting the good fight.
What else do you expect from a Tarzan movie? Accompanied with a pounding musical score, spurring the action to the cadence of native drums, it's a fine piece of entertainment.

Ahem, now on to Alexander Skarsgard...I fell in love with him on his first shot in the late, lamented HBO series, True Blood. He played Erik Northman, the 1,000 year old Viking vampire - slick, dangerous, and charismatic. If you've never seen it, I should tell you he has some totally nude scenes and he is impressive from any angle. It's available on Blu-Ray and DVD. Check it out...

He makes an incredible Tarzan, the best I've ever seen anyway. He is absolutely gorgeous even scarred from a primitive life for the character.

On an interesting note, his Tarzan signature yell, is more like an anguished scream than the one we remember from Johnny Weissmuller or on the Carol Burnett show.  That one was done by combining the voices of three people - two men and a woman opera singer. She was responsible for the undulation of the sound in his yell.

Skarsgard's yell is much more primitive.

This is an entertaining film. It tells the story of a turbulent time in Africa when the land was claimed by foreign powers who fought each other for prominence in the Dark Continent. Those diamonds were a huge incentive.

This one held my attention from beginning to end.  Check it out!

Until next time...

Friday, July 8, 2016

A Former Dallasite Responds

When is it going to be enough? How many African-Americans have to be killed by zealot police officers before this insanity comes to an end?

Appalled and furious at the images from the murders of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, I want all the officers involved to be investigated and indicted. Thank Heavens for witnesses with iPhones.  These are crimes that cannot be swept under the carpet, pretending they never happened. Maybe in this day of amateur videographers on every street in the nation, these horrific incidents will not occur again. We can only pray such things will be consigned to history as a new age of understanding and brotherhood begins.

We are all Americans, folks, no matter our ethnicity or national origin. We have the make-up our founding fathers envisioned. America was formed as a place of opportunity, of refuge from oppression, of freedom to practice any religion our citizens may choose, of the freedom to speak our minds.  We were born to be a diverse nation. Every single one of our citizens is entitled to all these rights

Our country will continue to be diverse even if a mass deportation were to occur. Contrary to popular belief during our current presidential campaign, this country is not going to deport millions of people. For one thing, we lack the funding to hire enough Federal employees to accomplish such a task. And given the deadlocked congress I doubt they would pass a spending bill for such an action.

It's time the bigots, racists, and just plain hate-filled people get over it. Suck it up, Bubba. The 1950s are long gone. Injustice can no longer be tolerated.

In the toxic atmosphere of racial hatred, the massacre of Dallas Police Officers was conceived. The city of my childhood and my young adult years has come a long way in tolerance from my first years as a resident.

Seen now as a model city for Police cooperation with all citizens, Big D is often cited as an example for other cities to follow. As one of the speakers at today's all-faith prayer service for the slain said, the citizens of Dallas learned painful lessons from the murder of President John F. Kennedy.

Ironically, the perch of the sniper of last night's attack, is just up the road from where JFK was murdered. You may not know that and it certainly wasn't publicized, but I know it. I've been by there many times. That more heinous violence occurred in the vicinity of the assassination literally makes me sick.

In fact, I went to El Centro college for the first year and a half of my college career. I only left El Centro to go on to a four year school and complete my degree. I went to school in their old building and parked in a hotel parking lot. Even so, this struck home to me with vivid reality.

Hatred and bigotry kills.  It has been a contributing factor to all wars the US has fought since before our birth in 1776.

We are one world. We are all homo sapiens, human beings, no matter the country of our origin, or ethnicity. Would it take an alien invasion to make us stop trying to destroy each other and ourselves?

Yeah, yeah I know we are alpha predators. But we were all gifted with the ability to think as well. All it takes is a step toward the light...

Please for the sake of your children and their children, stop the hatred and come together to make a better world, before it is too late.

And if you think I'm not serious about this, I'm typing with sutures on my index hurts, but I don't care. This message is too important.

Monday, July 4, 2016

The Diva's Guide to Drive-Thru Etiquette-A Mix on July 4th

You know, I've been a customer of drive-thru windows throughout my adult life - beginning in college. I don't like sitting in a restaurant alone to dine. These days it's takeout or nothing...

I truly believe drive-thru windows as a group form a microcosm of modern society. These "conveniences" frequently can be anything but.

For example, some ditzy customer ahead of you changes his or her order after they get to the window. That takes up your time unnecessarily...

Rule #1 - make up your mind back at the microphone.

In another instance, a customer in line is on his/her phone. They stay in place when it's time to move up to the window. Their conversation is more important than the time of all the people in line behind them.

Rule #2 - leave after you receive your purchase at the window and THEN talk on your phone.

There are the truly impatient who ride the bumper of the car ahead of them in line.  This is particularly true in long lines when this person is late to work.

Rule #3 - keep a safe distance from the person in front of you.  This is an unsafe practice. You can never tell if the person ahead has a bad temper, is already steamed at having to wait in line. You never know if he/she is armed.

Now we come to my favorite, this is a true story. I was waiting in a drive-thru line at a Dairy Queen in Waco, Texas.  My best friend and her daughter, my unofficial goddaughter who was a child the time, were in my car. The car ahead of us didn't advance to the window when he could. Turns out the poor guy was sleeping. He didn't respond to car horns or the employees hanging halfway out the window yelling, "Hey! Wake UP!" Finally one of the employees came out of the store, knocked on his window, and woke him after a couple of minutes of knocking. I was beginning to think we were blocked in the drive-thru behind the car of a dead man.

Rule #4 - if you are so tired you can't keep your eyes open, stay out of your car or pull over, stop the car, and sleep. It's what some truckers do, although not as many as in the olden days (1950s - 1970s). Now many of them pop uppers...

Finally my advice for anyone in drive-thru line, including me, is be courteous and remember the people behind you are just as busy as you are...

Whew, now that I've gotten that off my chest, let's chat about my day. Today is July 4th.  It's my first one as an orphan. I thought about going to see the new Tarzan movie, but blew it off for the day. I'll get to it eventually.

Being at loose ends, not having a clue about what I wanted, I decided to go drop some letters and bill payments in the mailbox. Then because I do this once a month for a short break from my low carb diet, I decided to go to Popeye's and get some mild chicken tenders, green beans, and an unsweet iced tea. Apparently, they had a new crew on duty.  It's a hot day here and the line took forever.  I should have known I wouldn't get what I ordered. I told the kid on the microphone what I wanted.  He repeated back this order completely opposite of what I ordered. I corrected him.  After a good eight minutes when I finally made it to the window I told him again what I ordered. He rang it up and charged me correctly. Then he gave me a huge bag. I ignored my common sense and drove on, anxious to get back. When I got home, I had spicy chicken pieces, red beans and rice, cajun rice, TWO biscuits, and a SWEET tea with so much sugar they must have poured in half of a 1 lb. sack in the tea...I ate two of the thighs and boxed up the rest, pouring the tea down the sink.

Karma's a bitch, huh? It's my fault for being so steamed waiting in line...

Well, I've decided to change my karma today. Someone has been opening my trash in the valet container on my front porch (we pay a monthly service for individual trash pick-up five nights a week.) They left a hamburger bun in the bin last night. I had gotten a turkey burger as takeout and did not eat the bun.  When I walked the dogs late last night, I checked the bin and found the bun smiling up at me. The trash bags were gone. I picked it up in paper towels and tossed it into my kitchen trash can to dispose of later.  About 1:00 this morning, someone came onto my porch and opened the valet bin (the lid makes noise.) I realized he/she was coming back for the bun. Then I felt bad for someone so hungry he/she would steal trash...a little creeped out, too to have someone slipping onto my entry way which is right outside my bedroom.

But now, I've been presented with a golden opportunity. Tonight I will put out the boxed chicken and side dishes in a grocery bag with a sign saying "Help yourself to free chicken."

Hope that puts my universe back in balance.

And finally, they ran the entire series of Lonesome Dove on one of the STARZ channels today. I LOVE that series and the book from which it was taken.  Larry McMurtry, a fellow Texan, is a great writer.  I've loved several of his books. He doesn't write about the Hollywood version of the west. He writes about the real place, the way it truly was...dusty, dirty, and filled with life. (and really sweaty people...not to mention an aroma of horse poop and cattle poop... no matter, I love it anyway.)

But since I'm still in grief mode, I knew better than to watch the whole thing today. So I watched the first episode until the last scene where the little Irish kid jumps into a river, only to come up screaming as he is bitten to death by a bunch of water moccasins. I turned it over to CNN and watched the pundits for Trump and the pundits for Clinton have a verbal sparring match.  Has anybody ever noticed the people in the Trump camp out shout those in Clinton's?

So I ran my errands and got back in time to see the last episode in which Captain Woodrow F. Call (Tommy Lee Jones) keeps his promise to his longtime friend, Captain Augustus McRae (Robert Duvall) and takes his body back home from Nebraska to a site alongside a creek in south Texas where he once picnicked with a woman he loved.

They were both Captains from their days in the early Texas Rangers.

By the time it was over, I was sobbing. Imagine what I would have been like had I watched the whole thing?

But what can you expect of a disenfranchised orphan on the 4th of July? It's my first one spent alone in all my years...I remember so vividly July 4th, 1976, a special one, the bicentennial of our nation. Some friends of mine were appearing in a production of the musical 1776 at the bandshell in Fair Park - Dallas, Tx. Not being in this one, it was my duty to film it. It had rained earlier and the big firework display as well as the starting of the performance were delayed. It was so ironic, the fireworks started a few hundred feet behind the bandshell as John Adams sang the line "I see fireworks..." He got a standing ovation as the audience thought it was planned that way. You gotta love Americans.

Of course there was the couple who walked in late behind me and sat quietly for a few moments. Then I hear the man's voice behind me with a deep East Texas accent - "Wha, this is laak a little play..."

"You bet it is, Bubba. It's a Tony award winning play..." Oh well. I'm sure he's heard of Larry McMurtry.

Lord, I love Texas.

Lastly, have a wonderful holiday with your loved ones.

God Bless America and all those who are, have, or will serve Her.

Here I am, all "deshoveled" as Frankie a character in my upcoming release, His Wicked Lady, would say.

Note my red, white, and blue for the holiday. Also note over my right shoulder a glimpse of the fabulous bluebonnet painting I inherited from my parents...

Saturday, July 2, 2016

New Review for Swept Away.

My second book in the Touch the Sky series, Swept Away, just received a terrific review.

Check it out at Salt Run Publishing

Scroll down on the first page.

Who knew there could be a word like "corsetbuckler"?

Shiver me timbers!!!

Friday, July 1, 2016

Independence Day Resurgence

I've made it a policy on this blog not to post negative reviews. All creativity should be appreciated whether it is writing, television, music, or movies.

Today I went to see Independence Day Resurgence. Yes, after an absence of several weeks, I went to a movie. I saw the film in 3-D. It's also out in a "regular" version which doesn't require the 3-D glasses, or in my case, a couple of pills for a stubborn headache afterward.

Let's start with the story...It's twenty years after the events in the first film...It's also twenty years after the original movie came out.  Has it been that long? Yes, it has.

Anyway, those pesky aliens come back with newer, better weapons and technology.  All of the characters exposed to their mind control in the first attack, i.e. Dr. Okun (played by an older Brent Spiner with even longer hair), former US President Whitmore (played by Bill Pullman with a white beard), and an African warlord new to this film whose storyline has him fighting in the first attack very successfully (played by Dikembe Umbutu) are affected more and more as the aliens return and get closer. They know the enemy is coming.

It seems we only thought we destroyed the aliens previously. We did destroy the "mother" ship, but there was another, bigger one, hanging a few light years away. That ship contained their Queen, a bigger and uglier creature than we've seen before. (And much harder to stop.)

Jeff Goldblum returns as David Levinson, with Judd Hirsch reprising his role as Julius Levinson, David's father.  He has written a book about the original victory over the aliens and is a popular figure.

Also Vivica A. Fox returns in a small role as Jasmine Hiller, the widow of the character Will Smith played in the original. She has gone from exotic dancer to being a doctor or a P.A. It's never clear what her role is, although we see her in a white lab coat, evacuating patients from a hospital as New York is being attacked.

Jasmine's little son, Dylan, is now a grown man who goes by the name Dylan Hiller (played by Jessie T. Usher.) He is a by-the-book military pilot.

President Whitmore's little girl is all grown up in this film. Patricia Whitmore (played by Maika Monroe) is quite the hotshot pilot herself.

Rounding out the newcomers in major roles is Liam Hemsworth as Jake Morrison.  He is a fighter pilot, an orphan from the original attacks...a fighter jock with a problem following orders.

The film is basically a re-hashing of the first one only with badder aliens with bigger weapons. There is a surprising addition of a benign alien who aids the Earth people and acquaints them to universal realities.

The formula of this film is basically the same as the original. There are scenes reminiscent of the first one. For example, someone makes the same sacrifice as the Randy Quaid character in the original, with sadly different results.

The CGI special effects are bigger, grander, more widespread globally. And, of course, the humans win in the end, with significance loss of life. That mean, ugly queen doesn't know the meaning of the word quit.

If there had been no Independence Day in 1996, I think I would have enjoyed this film more. As a stand-alone movie, this one would be an entertaining diversion for a couple of hours.

But when compared with the first film, it lacks the spark, the energy of its predecessor. This film seems to drag, although the same production team as the first one made this sequel.

Is it worth two hours in a cool theater out of the summer heat? Sure. There are good action scenes and a good cast.

But you know what I really missed? Will Smith...of course he's twenty years older, but he would have brought a spark to this one.

I did see a couple of good previews while I was at the movies.  Tim Burton has a new film coming out called Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children. Based on a book by an American author, it looks like a charming, though dark, Tim Burton fantasy.

Also I saw previews for Star Trek Beyond, coming out later this month. It was sad to see the late Anton Yelchin in the previews. Simon Pegg, who plays Scotty, co-wrote the script. Surprised? You shouldn't be. He's written a series of films such as Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, and The World's End. Idris Elba plays the villain and is even more unrecognizable in this one than he is as Heimdall in the Thor movies.

So pick your film and spend some time in a nice cool theater on these hot summer days. Enjoy whatever movie genre you like...they all are meant to entertain us. Appreciate their efforts!

Until next time...