Category Archives: Movies

Two entertaining flicks from the my hometown

In the midst of our busy social life (note: sarcasm), Mrs. Poolman and I recently watched two decent movies at home. A bit of a surprise in both cases was that they were both shot in my hometown of Pittsburgh.

Jack_Reacher_poster“Reacher,” starring Tom Cruise, was much better than I expected it to be. The biggest surprise was that Cruise absolutely nailed the character of Jack Reacher. This was a surprise, because he doesn’t come anywhere close to fitting the physical description of Jack Reacher in the series of novels by Lee Child. In the books, Reacher is 6’4”, and we all know Tom C is about a foot shorter.

Reacher is a former Army CID officer who turned his back on conventional society when he left the Army. He drifts around the country without a home or job, but always seems to find himself in some situation that needs fixing. Reacher is extremely smart, tough and resourceful. He is very cool, in the same way that Mark Harmon plays a cool Jethro Gibbs in NCIS.

In the movie, based on the Child novel, “One Shot,” Reacher arrives in Pittsburgh to help solve the mystery surrounding a former Army sniper who shot and killed several people, apparently without rhyme or reason. Of course it turns out there was a rhyme and reason; otherwise there wouldn’t be a story.

In any case, this isn’t a flick you are going to see around Academy Awards time, but for a Saturday night rental with a bowl of popcorn, this one was pretty good.

Abduction_PosterA real surprise was “Abduction” with Taylor Lautner (Twilight series) and Lily Collins (The Blind Side.) We picked it up on Netflix last night. The main character, Nathan, discovers his childhood picture on a missing children Web site. So, of course, he and his cute neighbor, Karen (Lily Collins,) pursue it. Rather than turning into a maudlin Lifetime-network chick-flick, which we expected, a hit team shows up at his house, and the chase is on. “Hey Mrs. Poolman, look at what just happened here!”

The plot and overall story is pretty good, but it misses on some of the small points. The acting is nothing to rave about (I understand Taylor was runner-up for a worst-actor award for this movie. I’m not surprised.) , despite a decent supporting cast including Maria Bello, Jason Issac (the evil British colonel in The Patriot), Signorney Weaver and Michael Nyqvist (the Swedish version of the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo trilogy.) We were just amazed that after swimming across a river and sleeping in the woods overnight, Taylor and Lily looked like they just walked out of make-up. Abduction 3 w But if you overlook some of the little things, you’ll find that “Abduction” is a pretty entertaining movie.

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‘Flight”, a very good movie!

Mrs. Poolman and I finished off our weekend by watching (Blu-Ray) “Flight” with Denzel Washington, John Goodman and Bruce Greenwood. It was a very good movie. (Has Denzel made any bad ones? Not that I recall.)

FlightWashington plays an airline pilot, Whip Whitaker. When his airliner experiences a catastrophic equipment failure, he saves it from crashing by rolling it upside-down, and then crash lands it in a farm field with only a few fatalities. This would make him a major hero, except for one thing. As is established in the first scene of the movie, Whip is an alcoholic and cocaine abuser. He was drunk and high when he was at the controls. The irony is his impairment didn’t contribute to the emergency. As depicted in the film, his piloting was phenomenal, but he was impaired all the same.

The depiction of the airborne emergency is intense and riveting. It will put you on the edge of your seat. To some extent, the rest of the film is an adrenaline let-down. However, Washington does a great job portraying a self-destructive man who is struggling with is addictions, but also living a lie. As a viewer, I found myself torn between wanting him to escape his just due and hoping he will get off. I won’t spoil the end for you.

This is not a movie for kids. The flight scene is extremely intense. Also, the first half of the film has plenty of nudity and vulgar sexual dialogue.

If you haven’t seen this movie, it’s one you should rent and watch it soon. You won’t regret it.

Chasing Ice to Jekyll Island

I took a little “blog-cation”: for a while. I was feeling down with a cold-turned-bronchitis for most of January, and didn’t really feel like doing too much.

Mrs. Poolman and I had a nice weekend. On Saturday evening, we drove down to Jekyll Island (about an hour and a half from our home) to attend the screening of an environmental film “Chasing Ice.”  It was very impressive! Several folks from work were involved in the program. Also we are considering sponsoring a screening here in Savannah later in the spring. I thought it would be a good idea to see it first. The organizers from the University of Georgia did a great job. They estimate more than 700 people showed up for the reception, film and panel discussion. I guess there isn’t much else going on in the “Golden Isles” on a Saturday night in February. The film itself was also very good. Here is a trailer.

Happy New Year, everyone!

Here it is, 2013. Where did you go 2012?

Our weekend kicked off Friday night with a sleep over, not the fun kind. We participate in a homeless ministry at our church. Once of twice a year, the church provides overnight housing for a group of homeless families for a week at a time. They need couples to cook meals, be “evening hosts” and “overnight hosts.” Since we don’t have small children at home to worry about, Mrs. Poolman and I usually take one of the overnight assignments. It’s just a matter of going up to the parish center and spending the night sleeping on cots. It’s not a real hardship duty, and it apparently does some good. Our night was uneventful, except that Mrs. P hardly slept a wink. I rarely have such problems.

So Saturday was largely a wasted day. Mrs. P spent most of the day napping on the couch. I made some corn chowder and delivered it to our daughter and her husband who were sharing a case of the flu.

Trouble with the curve We rented a pretty good movie that evening – Trouble With the Curve (Clint Eastwood, Amy Adams and Justin Timberlake.) It’s a story of an aging baseball scout whose attorney-daughter joins him on the road to help save his career and reputation. It was Clint being Clint and Amy Adams being her usual cute-self. Throw in a boy-meets-girl sub-plot with Timberlake and you have a fairly predictable, but still very enjoyable flick. Mrs. P went back to sleep before we were 20 minutes into the show, but I liked it anyway.

Lincoln-Movie-Poster-1536x2048_extra_bigOn Sunday, we hit another movie at the theater that we both really enjoyed. “Lincoln” with Daniel Day-Lewis, Sally Field and Tommy Lee Jones was simply outstanding. I’m sorry we waited until it was almost at the end of its theater run before getting around to watching it. If you miss it in the theater, be sure to catch it on DVD or pay-per-view. The movie is not a comprehensive bio-pic of Old Abe. Rather, it focuses almost entirely on the single month of January 1865, when Lincoln lead a determined effort to convince the House of Representatives to pass the 13th Amendment outlawing slavery. At face value, that probably sounds boring to a non-history buff. However, the script is very well written, and the acting is outstanding. Watch for it to come up frequently when the awards season rolls around.

Mrs. P had to work both Monday and today, New Years Day. Unfortunately, they can’t send those babies home just for a holiday. Last night, some of our friends invited us to their house for dinner. We had a great time, but were back home by 10 pm so Mrs. P could hit bed in time for her 5 am wake-up. I’ve mostly watched football games today. So far the SEC is looking pretty good. Florida plays Louisville and long-tine, popular Gator assistant coach Charlie Strong tomorrow night. I’m back to work tomorrow. It’s been a good break. I may need it. Right now,  January and February look like they will be rocking.

Paris — Day Six, Arc, Champs Elysees. Orangerie

This was a busy day. Monday is day three on our four-day museum passes. Tomorrow, we are headed to Versailles, so today was the last chance to hit some of the paid-admission attractions by using our passes.

We started the day by riding the Metro half way up the Champs Elysees and then strolling the rest of the way to the Arc de Triomphe.  We took the elevator to the top, where the view was very nice. We have been blessed with sunny weather ever since the third day here.

Back down the Champs Elysees and the Metro and a breeze-through visit to the l’Orangerie museum. This is a relatively small art museum, but is packed with Monet’s Water Lilies and a bunch of paintings from other impressionists, like Renoir, Modigliani, Cezanne and Picasso. Mrs P wasn’t so sure about this stop. But afterwards she said “That was really cool!” Chalk up one win for the Poolman!

Back on the Metro. Next stop, Ile de la Cite. We wanted to visit the archaeological crypt at Notre Dame but it was closed on Monday. Our next planned visit was to be the chuch of Sainte Chapelle. However the line was around the block and wasn’t moving.

So, lunch time!

We got some sandwiches and pastries from a walk-up lunch stand and took the food to some benches along the Seine. Lovely scene. Lovely weather. Even the begger-pigeons contributed to the ambience. Not too shabby. Pics below.

After lunch, we hiked through the Latin Quarter to the Pantheon. I was not overwhelmed, but BIL really wanted to see Foucault’s pendulum. It was pretty cool.

The best part for me was the church next door, St Etienne du Mont. The steps on the side of this church was where a key scene in one of my favorite movies, Midnight in Paris, was shot. Owen Wilson’s icharacter, Gil Pender, is reclining on those steps at midnight when a 1920s era cab picks him up and carries him back to the 1920s where he meets F Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, Picasso, Hemmington, Dali and a bunch of other characters. I waited on the steps but no one came to pick me up. Of course, that was four in the afternoon, not midnight. Maybe I should go back later.

After that a stop at Monop for supplies and back to the apartment for the night.

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We have logged a lot of trips on the Metro.

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Mrs P and me on the Champs Elysees

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The view from the top

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Our merry band back on the ground

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The sisters near Musee de l'Orangerie

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Picnicing by the Seine

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The none-too-shabby view from our picnic bench.

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Back up at street level.

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Pantheon

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We be pooped.

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BIL and SIL watching the pendulum.

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St. Etienne du Mont

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A two-year old birthday party, a great burger and a pretty good movie

Mrs. Poolman and I had a very nice weekend, at least so far. It’s only Sunday afternoon.

Five Guys stock photo

After a busy week, I slept late on Saturday and then took care of the weekend yard and pool chores. Mrs. P had to run some errands. We went to “Five Guys” for lunch. If you are not familiar, you should know this is a great hamburger place. Giant burgers and tons of fantastic fries. I could eat there every day, but if I did I wouldn’t live long.

Later in the afternoon, we went over to our friends, Lynn and Sam for their twin daughters’  (Helen and Brittany) second birthday party. Fortunately, both Mrs. P and I like little kids, because there were a bunch of them. I don’t think we have been around that many small children since our children were that age. It was fun, and Liz had laid out a great spread of food. Unfortunately, Mrs. P and I had just stuffed ourselves at Five Guys a couple of hours earlier, so we weren’t hungry at all.

The girls enjoyed their cake.

Yum!

We didn’t stay too long. We came home and watched a movie we had rented earlier.

We weren’t quite sure what to expect out of “Mirror, Mirror” starring Julia Roberts, Lily Collins and Nathan Lane. It simply is the story of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs done a little tongue-in-cheek. It wasn’t Academy Award-winning great, but it was definitely cute. Julia Roberts did a nice job as the evil stepmother and Lily Collins shined as “Snow” (although someone really needed to trim that girl’s eye brows.) Even the dwarfs were pretty cool. The movie didn’t take itself too seriously. On the other hand, it wasn’t so over-the-top farcical that it became stupid. See my account of the latest Three Musketeers movie as an example of a farce that got out of hand.

In summary, it was a light, fun movie that was fun and enjoyable to watch.

Right now it’s Sunday afternoon, and the plan for the rest of the day is to simply “chill out.” We’re doing beer-butt chicken on the grill with various veggies. Mrs. P is planning to make a dessert we saw in the newspaper – grilled peaches with vanilla ice cream and topped with a sweet bourbon glaze. Sounds yummy!

“Hope Springs” fails to spring

Mrs. Poolman and I went to the movies last Saturday afternoon.  We don’t go to many movies at the theater, mostly because it seems most producers tend to target their films for an audience of middle-school age children.

Mrs. P really wanted to see “Hope Springs” with Tommie Lee Jones and Meryl Streep. This film was definitely not targeted at the adolescent set.  As a matter of fact, we were sitting in the front row, and when I got up to look at the audience when the movie ended, I think we were the youngest people there.

“Hope Springs” is the story of a 60-ish Omaha couple whose marriage has fallen into a stale, repetitive routine. They sleep in separate bedrooms and, as it comes out later, have not made love in four years. Streep drags her husband, Jones, kicking and screaming to Maine for a week of intensive marriage therapy.

The plot from there is predictable. I don’t need to lay it out. Much of the dialogue consisted of clichés you see in the marriage advice columns in women’s magazines.

Some of the scenes were fairly stupid when you think about it. In several scenes, the couple tries to reignite the sexual flame in their relationship, but they can’t seem to figure out how to take their clothes off. I appreciate the director saving us from the sight of pot-bellied Tommie Lee in the buff. But seriously! If you are trying to heat things up in front of the fire, don’t you think you would do it without all the clothes in the way? Oh, well. Maybe that’s just me.

Streep and Jones save the movie from being a total bust. They do a good job with their characters.  It was enjoyable watching them play back and forth with each other. But aside from their interplay, there is not a compelling reason to spend the time and money to see the movie in a theater. If I had the chance to do it again, I’d wait until it comes out on DVD. It’s less expensive, and I can read a book during the slow parts.