Tag Archives: hollywood

This and that

It’s been about a month since I last posted. After our trip to France, I needed a bit of a “blogacation.” I’m back with a mixed bag of thoughts.

The hot news out there this past week has been the sex scandal surrounding David Petraeus.

David and Paula Broadwell in happier times.

What a waste! It is interesting to note the double standards our society has for those in the public eye. If Petraeus were a Hollywood celebrity or a professional athlete, the entire episode might not even be worth a mention in People Magazine. I think we, as a society, tend to be a little sanctimonious when it comes to a good scandal. I’m not justifying marital infidelity, but I don’t understand why today that activity needs to ruin a good career. In the not-to-distant past, many great and admired leaders had a little, or a lot, action on the side. (Hello, FDR, Ike, JFK, Teddy K, etc.)

I got a chuckle out of a set of petitions that have been circulating around the Web promoting states to secede from the Union following President Obama’s re-election. What a bunch of sore losers! I’m not an Obama supporter, and, while fairly centric, lean more towards the right side of the political spectrum. (Big surprise there, huh?) This is a democracy folks. If you want someone you like in any elected office, then go out and convince enough people and get them to vote. If you can’t, then suck it up and live with it. Don’t just try to take your ball and go home. And, oh, by the way, didn’t we settle the issue of secession back in the 1860s? You would think the folks here in Georgia would remember that.

How messed up is college football? Imagine this. My Florida Gators are 10-1 and ranked #4 in the country. With just a couple of games going the “right way” this weekend, (wins by UF, USC, and Alabama) they could play for the national championship. And this, for a team with an offense so bad they would have trouble getting a first down against Sister Mary’s School for the Deaf and Blind. I love the Gators, but I do wish they would play some offense.

And if sex scandals, a replay of the Civil War and the BCS aren’t enough controversy for you, how about skydiving cats? There has been a uproar (or at least an upwhisper) over a Swedish insurance company television commercial that featured supposedly skydiving cats. I like cats. I have two of my own, one of whom is snuggled in my lap as I write this. But when I heard about this, I laughed. Jeannie Moos with CNN picked up on the story and had this tongue-in-cheek report.

The key here, folks — they didn’t really throw cats of airplanes. It’s all a joke. And besides, don’t cats always land on their feet anyway? (That’s also a joke.)

Advertisements

“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.

Two cool guys

I just finished reading a partial biography of one of my favorite actors – “Jimmy Stewart Bomber Pilot” by Starr Smith. I was reminded that two of my favorite actors of earlier generations, Stewart and Paul Newman, are favorites, not just because of their acting, but because of some of the things they did.

Stewart was already a major Hollywood star when he was drafted in 1941 at the age of 32. He had starred in “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington” a few years earlier, and had just won an Academy Award for “The Philadelphia Story.” Even then, he was no lightweight. Actually, he was in a literal sense. He originally was drafted but failed the physical for being underweight. He appealed the decision and was shortly accepted into the Army Air Corps. Stewart could have easily taken the path of many of the other Hollywood stars who traded on their fame to sell War Bonds, or make recruiting or training films. Stewart went to flight training and learned to pilot heavy bombers. He flew 20 combat missions with the 8th Air Force in Europe, leading many of them. He could have taken the easy way out, but he didn’t.

Paul Newman is another favorite. “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” is probably my #1 favorite movie of all time.  He had great roles in other films like “The Sting,” “Cool Hand Luke,” “The Verdict” and “Absence of Malice.”  Late in his career he banked on his famous name and started up a food company. Apparently is all started with a bet with a friend about who made the best salad dressing. That grew into a successful line of spaghetti sauces and other items. What many people don’t know is that Newman never made a cent off of the sales. Early on, he designated that all the after-tax profits from his products be donated to charity. As of 2010, the donations had totaled more than $300 million. Not bad.

Sometimes when I’m in the check-out line at the grocery store, I look at the headlines in the celebrity magazines. Most of it is just scandal. It’s nice to remember that there are (or were) some celebrities like Stewart and Newman.

One weekend — two good movies

Mrs. Poolman and I rented two movies over the weekend, but only got around to watching the the second one last night. At a dollar a day from Blockbuster Express, an extra couple of days on the rental isn’t a big deal.

In an earlier post, I described  “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.” I really liked the American movie, although I wasn’t entirely happy with the way the movie ended differently than the book. In 2009, before Hollywood discovered Mikael and Lisbeth, the Swedes made movies from all of the Steig Larsson ‘s three novels.  We rented “The Girl..” and watched it on Saturday.  I thought it was as good, if not better, than the Hollywood version (Daniel Craig, Rooney Mara, etc.).  Of course, the actors in the Swedish movie speak Swedish. Duh. So you have to watch it with the English subtitles. I have hearing problems. I usually watch most TV with the closed captioning on anyway, so this was perfectly natural for me.

The only problem I had with the movie is the actress cast in the role of Lisbeth Salander. She is supposed to be 24 years old and looks like she is 14. In the books this becomes an issue at some points in the story. The actress who plays Lisbeth (Noomi Rapace) is 32 and pretty much looks it. (I also have issues with TV shows like Glee, in which actors who are clearly in their late-20s are cast to play high school students. Don’t they ever graduate?)

It’s a very good film. If you have read the book and enjoyed it, take a shot at this version of the movie before watching the US version.

The second movie we watched was far outside our usual viewing patterns – the 2010 teenage vampire movie “Let Me In.”  Since I am not an adolescent girl, I have not been bitten by the vampire movie bug. I saw the first movie of the Twilight series, only because my daughter cajoled me into going with her, and I don’t think I have ever watched “True Blood.” Not since Bela Lugosi lurked the castles of Transylvania have I cared much about blood suckers.

I ran across “Let Me In” while browsing movie rentals on line, and I remembered a review I had read when it first came out, along with a profile of one of the leads, Chloë Grace Moretz.  So I thought, “What the heck?” and gave it a shot.

Chloë plays, Abby, a 12-year old girl living with her father in a Los Alamos apartment complex. She meets her next door neighbor, Owen, a much-bullied boy her age. They meet and get along, but the twist is that Chloë is a vampire who needs to drink blood in order to survive. Her father isn’t really her father. He is a vampire too. He goes out into the community at night to kill and drain blood to feed his “daughter.” One of these blood-draining expeditions goes awry and the story spins from there.

The script is well written and both Chloë and Kodi Smit-McPhee  (Owen) did a great job, especially for a couple of young kid actors.

“Let Me In” is a little different, but I thought it was very good. The vampires are not painted as monsters, but rather as a pair of people just doing what they need to do to survive. The friendship between Abby/Chloë and Owen is cute. The end of the movie has an interesting twist that I won’t give away.

Bottom line – I really enjoyed the move and I’m glad we watched it. It’s definitely worth your time.