OK, I haven't check in since Mon, so lets catch up on the last 4 days.
Work was work - nothing unusually stressful, basically a low key week.
I watched a pretty decent noir with the always terrific Robert Mitchum. The flick was called Where Danger Lives and Mitchum was basically a far too nice dr. who tries to help a young woman and the consequences he endures because of it. Basically no good deed goes unpunished. The end was not nearly as dark as I expected, which may affect your opinion of the film. For me Mitchum's performance is classic, a guy who literally begins to lose his faculties because of his attempts to be kind. Also good is Claude Raines, in a small but very important role. Recommended.
Finished a great Hardcover graphic novel, a story reimagining the origins of one of my favorite comic book characters, Green Arrow, aka Oliver Queen. The team that produced one of my favorite recent series, The Losers, Andy Diggle and Jock, combine here to make a great book. Recommended.
The Red Sox dropped 2 games in 3 days, and dropped from 32-22 to 32-24. They are 1-4 on a road trip right now, and ace Dice K has been put on the 15 day DL due to strained rotator cuff. Sounds like no big deal, and they are just being cautious, but one thing that worries me with Dice-K is the enormous amount of pitches he's already thrown in his life. Hopefully no big deal, but it sure is nice to have Bartolo Colon around right now.
The Celtics can clinch a bid in the finals tonight!
Well, I waited a few weeks to see Iron Man, primarily for 2 reasons. My wife wanted to see it with me, and I didn't want the experience ruined with the moronic masses in the theater. Finally we went to see the flick at a nice 10:30 am showing today, and all I can say is.... Perfect! This movie easily gets a 10, which a hypercritical guy like me almost never gives a film. In no particular order, here are some of the reasons this movie was so perfect.
Robert Downey Jr. (and the other actors) - I know that comic book movies aren't made for academy awards consideration, but dammit, RDJ is absolutely perfect. I am a comic book geek, have read comics for well over 30 yrs now, and RDJ is the embodiment of Tony Stark. Genius level IQ would be an understatement, with an immature, callous , somewhat superficial exterior, Tony Stark is a man without a purpose, until he faces his own death in the desert, at the hands of those who have benefited from his arms shipments. A merchant of death who finds a purpose, RDJ shows the cliched "heroes journey" (check out Joseph Campbell, if you don't know what I'm talking about.)
However, the character of Tony has some good friends, and you have to believe they see something in this man worthwhile. His 2 closest are assistant Pepper Potts (Gwyneth paltrow, and I forgot how damned good she is onscreen, its been so long since I've seen her. Hey Gwyneth, leave Apple with the babysitter and make some more movies.) The chemistry between Paltrow and Downey Jr is phenomenal, and the way they interact had a strong vibe of the Moneypenny/James bond sequences I've seen over the years. Great stuff.
Also in Tony's corner; James Rhodes, played by the always terrific Terrance Howard. An honorable military man, he sees potential in Tony to be better, and then watches it rise to the surface.
Finally, every good hero needs a great villian, and Jeff Bridge's Obadiah Stane is perfect. Jealous and greedy, he is clearly a man with some envy. Notice the large cigars, the big glasses of booze, the shaved scalp and full beard. This dude (pun intended) definitely wants to be at the top of the heap, and Tony Stark, son of Stane's deceased partner Howard Stark, is in his way.
Now for the fun bits for a comic geek like me:
James Rhodes looking longingly at a suit of silver armor, a different prototype in Tony's lab - can you say War Machine?
Faran Tahir's Raza, the villian in the desert, leader of a group referenced on a tv telecast as the group of the 10 rings - there is often a lot of camera attention on a large ring on Raza's finger, and any good comic geek could see early on that the next villian will most definitely be: The Mandarin, a great villian for Iron Man, probably one of his most famous in the comics.
How about the agent for SHIELD (with a few jokes re: the lengthy name until they realized they have the acronym for Shield - followed by that kick ass final scene, after all the credits roll by, when the 1 and only Sam Jackson steps out and introduces himself: "Nick Fury, director of Shield. I would like to speak to you about the Avengers Initiative!!!! (geek orgasm) - (for you non geeks out there, like my wife, who was puzzled because she thought Nick Fury was white, he is. But in the Ultimates, an updated, revamped version of the Avengers, Nick was drawn by Bryan Hitch to look exactly like Sam Jackson with an eyepatch, and that is exactly what we got.)
The Pacing of the film was perfect, the soundtrack was great, hell, the tie in action figures is terrific. Hell, even the audience was quiet!
This is a must own, and I will definitely see it in the theater again, which I do very, very rarely. Usually for Tarantino flicks and I did it for the last Batman flick -
So I went out for a few drinks with by buddy Sal last night. We usually swing by a local Applebees because it's centrally located, has has 7 or 8 tvs lined around the bar so that we can watch almost any game (it's easy to watch soccer, hockey, the Red sox for me, the Yankees and Mets for him, etc.) We know the staff there and have a good banter with them, and practically next door is Shannon Rose, which is a little more of a fun, loud, colleg bar scene when we are feeling nostalgic.
So the night began easily enough, with a tall Samuel Adams for myself. (Tall is 20 or 22 oz., not sure) I had a second, and when I ordered my third we made the call to knock down some shots, and up came 2 Jagermeister shots. Still not too bad, but we were just getting started!
We ended up with another round of shots on the house, then I got another shot from a friend of mine there. We rolled out and walked over to Shannon Rose at that point, and started up with a couple of red bull and Vodkas - and then I had a Rogue Dead Guy Ale, my favorite Ale. -
Needless to say, my 37 yr. old body is not accustomed to that level of drinking. Oh, and did I mention I didn't have any dinner? -
I woke up this morning with a splitting headache and it basically just went away. I had some coffee this morning, gallons of water, some aleve, took a nap, put an ice pack on my head, and ate lots of awfully unhealthy crap (the best to sop up the leftover booze and feed my body's cravings: Sausage, Egg, and Cheese croisannwich, and later on for dinner thin crust pizza with sausage and pepporoni, along with a caesars salad.
Today's review is for a terrific film from the mid 70's, The Yakuza. Written by Paul Schrader (writer of 2 brutal american classics, Raging Bull and Taxi Driver, and Writer /Director of the underappreciated The Affliction, a film from the late 90's starring Nick Nolte and James Coburn).
The film was directed by Sydney Pollack and stars Robert Mitchum, Ken Takakura, and Brian Keith. Set in Japan the film explores themes of honor, duty, and respect that transcends the normal enemy/friend dichotomy. All of the characters feel real and the relationships between them are complex, just as real life often is. The sleepy eyed but grittily resolved Bob Mitchum Ken Takakura does a great job portraying Mitchum's nemesis/ally, a quiet and proud man who lives by a strong personal code of honor.
The set up is deceptively simple. Brian Keith's charater (Tanner) asks old friend Mitchum (Harry Kilmer) to help locate Tanner's kidnapped daughter, and requests that Mitchum bring in nemesis/ally Takakura to help. From that starting point we see a complicated plot unfold and without the use of any flashbacks we are slowly filled in on the relationships between the many characters involved, with some surprising (and illuminating) twists.
Highly, highly recommended, and yet another example of the quality filmmaking of the 70's in the pre blockbuster era.
Hmm, a day ending in Y and the Red Sox win... again. Today it was Asian sensation Dice-K, (not to be confused with that bum from the Bronx, Special-K). Dice-K moves to 8-0 now for the Sox.
The Sox have just completed a 7 game home stand sweep, after dropping 4 in a row. That's called rebounding from a hiccup in the road. A brief look at the last week:
The win streak began with a win by Dice-K, a 5-3 win over Milwaukee. Next up was a come from behind win in which young reliever Craig Hansen picked up the win, 7-6 over the Brew Crew. Following were 2 more wins, reliable Josh Beckett and then wunderkid Jon Lester in his shutout performance (7-0) Mon night. What gets really interesting then is spot starter Justin Masterson , a double A call up who beat KC 2-1, and then the next day ex Cy-Young winner Bartolo Colon begins rewarding the REd Sox Gamble on him by pitching his first win in a few seasons. Finally, Dice K wins again today to put a nice bow on it.
Meanwhile, the evil empire finally won again last night, improving(?) their record to 21-25. Woo-hoo. And for good buddy Woody, who loves the Runs Scored/Runs against ratio, the Yankees carry a -20, 189/209. Oh happy day.
I walked in and turned on the tv tonight to see the evil empire, losers of 3 straight, including an 11-2 pounding by the Mets Sun night, behind 9-0 in the 2nd inning to Baltimore?! - I thought maybe I made a mistake, since I was still giddy over Boston Red Sox (aka the good guys) pitcher Jon Lester pitch a no-hitter last night for the Sox. Which made him the second young pitcher to pitch no-hitters for the Red Sox in the last year, along with Clay Bucholz. Hmm, how are those young Yankee pitchers doing? That's right, one is hurt.. again... (Hughes, winless in 08) and the other just stinks (Ian Kennedy, also winless for the year)
God I hate the Yankees, and this is awesome!
Oh, and then down 10-0 the Orioles began taking cheap shots, coming inside (ok, part of the game, Jeter had been hit earlier, clearly without intent but I understand the Yanks defending their guys, but when Latroy Hawkins tries to whack some guy in the head.. well, that's the Yankees for you. If we can't win, hit someone.
So big bad Hankenstein is angry with his NY Yankees, (aka The Evil Empire) - here's a few reasons why?
His evil empire is the most well funded in all of baseball, by a large margin. For the 207 million they put out, they have a 20-23 baseball team, good enough for last place in the AL east and 3rd worst in all of the american league. The two teams fighting for the A.L. East lead are 2 of the 3 teams daddy Stein hates most to lose too; the Tampa Rays (Steinbrenner makes his home there) and the Boston REd Sox.
Furthermore, the Red Sox are currently wrapping up what looks to be a 4-2 win against the Brewers, (make that 5-2, Varitek scored as I was typing) . Dice-K Matsusaka looks to move to 7-0, while the reactionary pick made by the Yankees in response to the Sox acquiring Dice K is an absolute disaster. The one and only Special Kei Igawa (my nickname, since I felt bad he didn't have a cool nickname like Dice-K .
Oh, and additionally, the Yankees lost again today, to crosstown rivals the Mets, the other team daddy Stein hates to lose to.
I can't believe it's been a week since I checked in. Here's the quick update. The Red Sox have struggled a bit, dropping 3 out of 4 against the Twins and then being swept in a 2 game series against the Orioles. Amazingly enough, the Tampa Bay Rays lead the A.L East, and the season is a quarter way done, so while it certainly isn't even close to reflective of the end results, it still is impressive for Tampa Bay to be in that spot with a 43 million dollar payroll, 29th in baseball. That means they lead both the evil empire (NY Yankees for newcomers) who spends more than anyone (207 million, for the last place team in the A.L. East. ) The Rays also lead my boys from Boston, the Red Sox, currently the wild card leader and 1 game behind Tampa in the standings. To be fair, Boston has the 4th highest payroll in baseball at 133 million, certainly nothing like the empires obese payroll, but still quite a bit.
Definitely glad it's Friday, the beginning of the weekend. Ah, sweetness. Currently watching Battlestar Galactica, the first of 2 viewings, since I'm taping it for watching with the wife.
OK, so it's beena few days, so I figured I would take a few minutes to check in with my peeps.
As mentioned in previous posts, good friend towelie continues to be a regular distraction... but it's ok, he's only following his nature.
Meanwhile, the Boston REd Sox continue chugging along, even after wunderkid closer Jonathen Papelbon blew back to back saves (on Thur. and Friday night). Yesterday he settled back in and the Sox won again.
By the Way, as much as I like Beckett (especially for what he does in the postseason) - but Dice-K is doing great this year. I told lots of people that I felt last year would be his adjustment year and hoped for about 15-20 wins. He made 32 starts last year, finished at 15-12. The plus is that he makes his starts and earns decision. His era was 4.4, not great and he walked 80 guys. He stayed in the same zone in the post-season, going 2 -1 with 4 games started, and a 5.03 era.
He still throws too many pitches, and walks way too many batters, but he continues to improve. He's 6-0 this season. His era sits at 2.45, good for 4th in the league, and his last game was a 7 inning 96 pitch gem, with 2 earned runs, 3 walks, and 7 strike outs.
I also saw 2 great movies. The first was Lady From Shanghai (Is that poster freaking great or what?) - This was screened at the Big Screen Classics series I've written about earlier. The wife wasn't into seeing this particular flick so my buddy Sal and I checked it out instead. This is yet another film written and directed by Orson Welles that the studio butchered with a hackneyed editing job. The cut we saw ran at 87 minutes but I've read that one of Welle's original cuts clocked in at over 2 1/2 hrs. That's at least an hour of cut material, and even though I like the film very much, I can see where at least 30 minutes could have been added to make a more complete picture.
The picture stars today's sexy lady, the incomparable Rita Hayworth, (still believe her sexiest role to be in Gilda, btw) - with her soon to be ex husband playing "Black Irish", a seafaring rogue who plays the patsy to Hayworth's femme fatale. Add in her husband, angry and ugly lawyer Bannister, who likes to keep his thumb on the people around him. 2 others are his private dick who spies on Hayworth, and Grigbsy, an always sweating miserable bastard, fitting enough Bannister's partner.
Tons of twists and turns, with visual treats such as the two schemers Hayworth and Welles conspiring in an aquarium, with exotic fish swimming noiselessly behind them. (All the more powerful due to a monologue Welle's gives earlier in the film about a school of sharks turning on each other, and the famous house of mirrors scene at the end. (One of my 2 most favorite such scenes, with the the scene with Bruce Lee for Enter the Dragon.
The other great flick was Michael Collins, a well written, well acted, well filmed movie about truth, power, the concessions we make, and the price it costs people. Well worth all the hype you've undoubtedly encountered, a must see for fans of adult, intelligent thrillers.
So I haven't checked in for a few days, and the easiest way to explain that is to reference one of my favorite characters, Towlie, on South Park. There is an episode in which towlie finds himself in trouble, begins to come up with a great idea, then decides to ... clear... his.... thoughts (cough, cough) for a minute... and he immediately loses momentum. Ah, art imitating life.
I recently rewatched Layer Cake, a terrific British crime drama, with a gritty, complex plot filled with a variety of colorful (and very well acted) characters. Directed by Matthew Vaugh, Producer of Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and writer/director of Stardust, this movie is a very post modern noir (or neo-noir, if you prefer) movie with a raw edge. Highly recommended.
The Red Sox are now the best team inthe American League (no surprise there for me!!!) - Winners of 8 of their last 10, the Sox have rebounded strongly since being swept by the Tampa Bay Rays April 25-27. The team has taken 2 out of 3 from Toronto, swept Tampa Bay and exacted revenge for the previous sweep, and now has taken 3 of 4 from Detroit. Barring any major injury, this team really looks primed to repeat as champs, and take their 3rd title in 5 years.
The last 2 pictures are of one of Roger Clemens' reported lovers, country western signer Mindy McReady. Allegations mention the two knew each other when she was 15, but Roger denies any inappropriate activity (just like he didn't use steriods, and oh, by the way, one of the other woman alleged to have been with Roger is drunken golfer John Daly's ex-wife... Jeez, uglier and uglier.
OH, let's hope if anything did happen, it was when Mindy looked like the hot pic, and not the later criminal pics.
Great Googley-Moogley, Mila Kunis is so freaking hot. - I always dug her on That 70's Show, and these picts re enforce those thoughts... hmmm
So Okay, my bood buddy towlie is in town, which is certainly a relaxing beginning of the week. In other news, I watched a terrific movie last , Before the Devil Knows You're Dead . Directed by Sidney Lumet, and starring the alway great Philip Seymour Hoffman, Ethan Hawke, Marisa Tomei, and Albert Finney in a very tense and dark crime drama about a robbery gone wrong and a family imploding in extremely ugly fashion. Led by Hoffman's bastard brother Andy, the film has some classic noirish elements, with weak, evil, and tarnished heroes. Highly recommended, and a future addition to the DVD collection, which is my highest praise.
Elsewhere, the BoSox continue to chug along, now at 21-13 and tied for the best record in the American League. they won again tonight, with Dice-K getting sort of an ugly win (5 innings, only 2 hits, 1 earned run, 8 walks, and 109 pitches.) Not pretty, but still he now sits at 5-0 with a 2.43 era he sits atop the best starters in the A.L. Add in 2 time World Series winner Josh Beckett, Young Guns Jon Lester and no hitter throwing Clay Buckhoz, toss in ageless Tim Wakefield and you have an excellent 5 man rotation, with ex cy young winner Bartolo Colon working on a comeback to the major leagues in a Red Sox uniform. The team is basically a shut down 1-2 punch for the 8th and 9th innings with Okijima and Paps. That means that the only weak spot is the 6th and 7th, if their starters don't go long. By the way, the offense is first in the American League.
Once again, my favorite day of the week. Pretty lazy afternoon, the wife out doing her quilting thing. 2 goals for today: hit the gym and drop the car off for an oil change. Gym is done and the car is at the shop right now. I have a little get together tonight at my friends place (actually he and his wife recently moved closer by so I am looking forward to seeing them). - Unfortunately the wife is heading to a play tonight with her librarian friend.
I recently watched a documentary far more terrifying than even the worst horror film; Maxed Out. The premise is simple: America and it's citizens have a tremendous problem with debt. Consumer debt is completely out of control, primarily through the liberal use of credit cards (the worst kind of revolving debt possible), maxed out equity loans, second mortgages, and other consumer credit (car loans, student loans, etc.) Even more disturbing is the fact that the U.S.A. has effectively been borrowing from one area of the federal budget in order to provide funding for other expenditures, including making interest payments on the American debt owed. This has been a bipartisan process (although it is true that President Bill Clinton had the country running with a surplus and with a balanced budget; a budget Bush destroyed practically overnight.
The other flick was the quintessential cinema of cool, the rookie film of one of the progenitors of the French New Wave, Jean Luc Godard, ... Breathless. Surprisingly I had never seen this before; and having watched it now I get it. There is much about the picture I found annoying, but upon completion I began to examine the flick in a different light. The key, for me, is remembering that this movie came out in 1960, so the many techniques used by Godard were groundbreaking. Having watched decades of films inspired by Godard it's easy to forget that the original is still to be praised for its utter uniqueness. Also the flick gives us today's babe of the day, the pixieish Jean Seberg, shown above.
Hey, if the evil empire wins today they can return to being the best .500 baseball team money can buy!
Super smart (and oh so humble) I often wonder if heightened intelligence is a blessing or a curse. Recognizing the evil, lies, and corruption that dominate the world, I often retreat into films, comics, sports, and other distractions. Bread and Circuses, baby!! (Don't you just wanna hang out with me now; I must be a barrel of laughs). My blog is where you can read these thoughts, and soon enough you will begin to see, I'm a pretty cool guy. (There's that humility again)