Tag Archives: entertainment

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.

‘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.

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!

A rainy, but party weekend.

Just checkin’ in after a busy, but not particularly noteworthy weekend. A few short thoughts…

Mrs. Poolman and I agreed we really should not have pool parties on both days of a two-day weekend. It’s fun, but between the initial clean-up prep for company, entertaining and then the post-gathering clean-up, nothing else gets done and we are pooped. We need to balance things out.

Our friends Lynn and Sam brought their twins (Helen and Brittany, 20 month-old twins) over on Saturday.  A few other friends heard about it and came over too. The cloudy, rainy weather we’ve had for the past two weeks has kept the pool temperature in the low 80s. That’s August-warm for the northeast, but it is ice-bath cold for some thin-blooded Southerners. The girls were perfectly happy to entertain themselves with some sidewalk chalk. I had to blow-out to read at 5:30 mass, but most of the group was still there when I returned.

One of our friends did bring a couple of frozen pizzas over, so that took care of Saturday dinner.

Mrs. P and I watched the second segment of the Swedish version of the Millenium series “The Girl Who Played with Fire” on DVD Saturday night. Actually, I should say that I watched it. Mrs. P fell asleep sitting up before the last opening credits were finished.  Like the first movie in the series, “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo,” I really liked it. The movies follow the books very closely. The actors, especially Noomi Raspace who plays Lisbeth Salandar, are excellent.  Aside from having the dialogue in English, I’m not sure how the next American production (Daniel Craig and Rooney Mara) can do better.

One important note – there are great films for adults, but they are not for children. They are rated “R”. Believe them.

We got up on Sunday and started the clean-up in prep for our second “party” of the weekend. We had long-planned an end-of-the-year party for my fellow CCD teachers. I started the yard and pool clean-up around 10 am and finished up everything I had to do just in time to get a shower in advance of our 3 pm start-time. Unfortunately, the weather didn’t cooperate very well. It was cloudy and drizzly off and on, and I think that scared away some of the families from a pool party. As it was, the eight or ten people who came enjoyed themselves, and the kids never got out of the water.

We had a ton of hamburgers and hot dogs left over. Mrs. P called our children and told them there is a free meal available for dinner tonight at our house.

“The Debt” — A good choice!

Last week we watched a rental DVD that nearly passed under our radar, but I’m glad it didn’t.

“The Debt” is excellent!

I don’t want to give away the entire plot, but here are some broad brush strokes. The plot involves an Israeli Mossad snatch squad that is sent to East Berlin to capture a former concentration camp doctor. The three members of the team returned to Israel to a hero’s welcome. The movie flashes back and forth between the time of the kidnap in 1965 and 1995 when it appears something is not quite right. Two separate sets of actors play the three protagonists 30 years apart.

The story is interesting and engaging. The acting is also excellent. Helen Mirren is the biggest name-actor. She plays Rachel, the female member of the snatch squad in 1995. Jessica Chastain (The Help) plays her younger version.

The movie is definitely for adults, not because of sex and violence, but because of the sophisticated plot. It reminded me of a Fredrick Forsyth or John Le Carre novel set to a movie.

Sophisticated plot with a few surprises, and well acted. I’m really glad I watched it and give it a strong recommendation.

Gettin’ out and a new (to us) boat

Mrs. Poolman and I decided we need to start getting out a little more frequently. We tend to be home-bodies. We hardly ever go to shows or even movies. Our dining-out usually means hitting one of the informal and inexpensive restaurants in our general neighborhood.

We broke from that pattern on Saturday. We went out for a casual dinner with some friends and then attended the student production of “Hair,” presented by the Savannah College of Art and Design. We had a great time. What the cast (or “tribe”) lacked in professional-level skills, they more than made up for in enthusiasm. We were front and center in the second row, which was well into the “audience participation” zone. The whole experience was a bit of a flashback. When Hair first came on the national scene, I was a junior and senior in high school. We had the album and I think my brother and I pretty-much wore it out by playing it so many times. It was a good time.

The other news around Casa Poolman is that Poolboy bought a boat, which is currently sitting in our back yard. A friend of his was moving out of town and didn’t want to take it with him, so Poolboy got quite a bargain. It is a small McKeecraft. Around here, it would be called a “creek boat.” That means it isn’t big enough to go off shore, or even into some of the larger sounds if there is any kind of wind and chop.Since it is stored in our backyard, Mrs. P and I will also have use of it. I have some experience with boats and have even taken the Coast Guard safe boating course. But most of my experience is with the kinds of boats that have centerboards or keels, sails and no “reverse.” I told Mrs. P that I didn’t want to take it out until I had a chance to be “checked out” by someone who knows what they are doing. (And we have plenty of them around.) For some reason Mrs. P thinks that is funny.

The other issue is more practical. At the moment, no one in our family owns a car or truck with a tow-rig or, most likely, enough power to pull the trailer. I’m not quite sure how that is going to be resolved. We’ll see.

Stick with the other “football”

I am one of the legions of Americans who just don’t get why anyone would want to spend their time watching soccer. I understand it’s a great game to play, but it is deadly dull to watch.

Compare it to basketball, for instance. Imagine an NBA final in which the players played for 90 minutes. Almost every possession resulted in a turnover. The two teams combined took only eight or nine shots, and only three of them were good.

The fans would be throwing hot dogs onto the court and be leaving in droves. But that  pretty much describes a typical World Cup soccer match.

My friend, Craig, says he loves to watch the skills of the tremendous athletes and the amazing things they do with the ball. From watching the game on Saturday, it seems that the most of the time, the amazing athletes were just turning the ball over to the other team.

I do have some suggestions to improve the sport, like anyone cares about my opinion.

1.) Enlarge the size of the goals.

2.) Eliminate the goalie.

3.) Install a shot clock.

Don’t hold your breath waiting for it to happen, just like you shouldn’t hold your breath waiting for someone to score a goal.