Wednesday, February 01, 2012



All Caps, bold:  MOVIE
Italics: Book
Quotation marks “Play”
Italics, quotation marks:  Short Story


The good guys and bad guys reveal themselves early on and only allow for a nuance or two through the film.  The acting is better than the other typical Hollywood productions and that's where its legacy lies.  Although Jessica Chastain seems to be a bit overpraised for a character I have seen so many times.  Maybe I will appreciate her more when I have this to compare to TREE OF LIFE.  

JAN 3 – Hemingway’s Boat by Paul Hendrickson

A biography of Hemingway using his boat as the unifying force in his life.  The boat device would give you the idea that the book has a thin premise when it's really a pretty thorough biography of those twenty yeas of his life.  It was refreshing to read a biography where the author enjoys Hemingway's writing enough that he doesn't spend the lion share of the book trashing him.  Faults?  Yes.  Monster?  Hardly. 


Another solid effort from Soderbergh.  It reunites that Cast of Talented Mr Ripley and then some.  I like it most for surprising us about the characters.  Big stars die and the kinds of characters that might portrayed as sages in other movies are shown to be charlatans here.  


Clooney takes the risky chance of directing himself as a not so idealistic politician.  Gosling carries the film more or less with great efforts by Giamatti and PS Hoffman.  


Stylistic fun amid the grime and dirtbags in the city. Gosling's proves here that he can be play stoic in the vein of McQueen or Russell Crowe.


I took Abby to see the re-release in non 3-D. 


The show does characters and dialogue as good as any show on TV, and yet it strives for unnecessary shock value every week.  Like NIP/TUCK they seem to want to touch upon every degradation before they finish.  

JAN 22 – XMEN 4

I can appreciate that it was better than the third film, but I'm getting so tired of comic book movies I was happy when it ended.  


The comedy that launched numerous imitation especially by Reynolds himself.  The movie is a classic and yet the cause of Reynolds uneven career thereafter.  


I haven't seen the Artist, but it would surprise me if I liked it more than the latest Alexander Payne effort.  Payne has an unusual talent for mixing realism and comedy.  He strikes gold again here.  

JAN 24 - Piece of my Heart by Robert Wagner

RJ tells us about his life spent in and around Hollywood.  I was most interested in his description of the Spencer Tracy mentorship and the strength of the story made me stick around and read the rest.   


Kevin Spacey plays Jack Abrahamoff in a sympathetic manner placing most of the blame on his partner Barry Pepper and Republicans in general.  I'm sure Spacey is dying to bring a Tony Rezko movie to the screen.  

JAN 26 - Rendezvous with Destiny by Craig Shirley

Shirley's in-depth description of the 1980 campaign and Reagan's journey is one of the best political histories that I have read.  On that same list is Shirley's book on 1976.  I was too young to follow this campaign day to day and the seeing how it came about explained a lot about the personalities that came to national light here and would remain in the spotlight into this century. 

JAN 28 - THE D.I.

Dad saw Jack Webb present this movie in a Chicago Premiere back in 1957, but it rarely comes on television so this was my first viewing.  Webb starred and directed this story about a marine Drill Instructor and how he turns a bunch of kids into Marines.  Webb is surprisingly effective as the sergeant.  I was expecting the campiness of his latter day Dragnet, but the opposite was true.  You can trace R. Lee Ermey's performance in FULL METAL JACKET back to this.  In fact, Ermey may have very well used Webb as a guide to his own days as a Marine Sergeant.  The movie doesn't look down on the military or have any sassy Mathew Modine characters.  It really makes you admire the men who make the Marines.  

JAN 30 – Pauline Kael:  A Life in the Dark by Brian Kellow

Pauline Kael is fun to read even if you disagree with her views.  And I frequently thought she missed the boat.  One thing she wrote that I thought was right-on was her assessment that when you are young you like everything you see because it's all new to you.  As you get older and more discriminating you start to judge movies and genres by your overall film knowledge.  This book is a good comprehensive biography of her life mixing her writing and its impact with her personal trials along the way.  I was surprised that her famous feud with Andrew Sarris was something Kael ignored after she wrote one article attacking the auteur theory.    Like a lot of celebrity biographies you come away glad you didn't know Kael personally while happy that she left her film reviews to history. 

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