Tag Archives: movie

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.

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.

A new camera, shoes and a lousy movie

Too much of a good thing? For the second Saturday in a row, Mrs. Poolman and I changed our plans for a dinner out because we ate too much at lunch. It’s a shame to spend money on a nice restaurant dinner when you aren’t really hungry. We need to change that pattern in the next few weeks, as we have a gift certificate at a local Greek restaurant that will expire in mid-August. Don’t want it to go to waste.

Lunch was just part of a busy Saturday. After lunch at our favorite Mexican place, we went shopping. I have been putting off buying a new digital camera for some time. I have a digital SLR that belongs to my job, but is assigned to me full-time. However, my 8-year old “point and shoot” camera finally gave up the ghost a couple of months ago. I have been doing on-line research and reading a lot of reviews. I ended up going to Best Buy and purchasing a Canon Powershot A4000. I think I will like it.

From there Mrs. P and I went shoe shopping. You have no idea how much I absolutely HATE shopping for shoes. I have gouty arthritis in one of my big toes so finding shoes that don’t torture me can be an extremely frustrating and painful experience. I will “milk” a pair of broken-in shoes long past their natural death, just to avoid having to go shop for a new pair. When I find a brand and style that work, I usually stick with it.  That is why I came home with a pair of Rockport Eureka (11-wide) casual shoes. They look amazingly like the brown pair I’ve worn to work almost every day for the past two years. Exciting, huh?

I was scheduled to read at 5:30 Mass so that didn’t leave much time left in the afternoon. I have been trying to recruit some new lectors for the Saturday evening masses. We are down to six lectors, which means our names come up every three weeks. That isn’t a problem right now, but when the fall hits, the weekend schedules become much busier.  I know Mrs. P and I will be totally occupied for at least seven Saturday evenings between Labor Day and mid-November.  I’ve asked a number of people if they would join this ministry, but so far, no takers. Ugh.

We finished off our Saturday by ordering a pizza and renting a movie. (We are SO exciting!) We thought “Wanderlust” with Paul Rudd and Jennifer Anniston looked cute. I am very glad we didn’t spend $20 to see it at a theater. If you like to watch Jennifer Anniston being herself, go ahead and waste a couple of dollars and hours of your life. Otherwise, don’t bother. The story is about a yuppie-couple (Can you still use that term?) who are forced into unemployment. On their way to live with his brother in Atlanta, they stumble onto what must be the world’s last hippie commune in North Georgia. It has an R-rating mostly for vulgarity and one nudist guy in the commune who treats the audience to repetitive full frontal shots. There is plenty of guy-nudity, but almost none of the female sort. In any case, it’s a pretty stupid film that is not well written or acted.  My recommendation – take a pass on it. Definitely keep it away from the kids!

Tomorrow, we’re off to the beach for the first time this summer.

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.