Cardio (6.0155)

...cardio day...

I

t was a cardio only day and I did 30 minutes on the elliptical machine accept part way through my stomach was off. I had to push through it. I wonder if it was a result of not having enough liquids in me. Not sure.

I was in no shape afterwards to do stomach crunches.

Since I haven't been doing as many leg lunges and leg squats, I could feel it today. My thighs were tight. Probably should have done some stretching, but I just wanted to leave.

Posted 2009/04/30 at 20h56ET in Exercise.

Independence Day (1996)

Independence Day. Feature film. (1996, 145 mins) IMDB

...another tent-pole movie...

T

hey say you can't make this film anymore because of September 11th. Maybe. INDEPENDENCE DAY is one of those tent-pole movies that did well. Here the computer effects are for the most part believable. It was made at a time before the craze to have films loaded with CGI. I don't know what actor said it, but it seems accurate and apropos, "They don't teach you how to work with blue screen in school and they should."

The film is peppered with one-dimensional characters and that's to be expected. Our hero gets to be the hero, the nag plays the nag. They don't change notes.

Since this is an action film, it is of course filled with action that is implausible. The final downfall of the alien forces seems completely implausible. The heroes should have died, but audiences don't like those types of downers.

And who where these aliens? Ugly creatures devoid of personalities.

Posted 2009/04/30 at 20h55ET in Movie Commentary.

Toronto Stories (2008)

Toronto Stories. Feature film. (2008, 89 mins) IMDB

...Toronto as Toronto for a change...

A

pre-adolescent boy arrives at Pearson International airport. He wears a suit and white shirt, doesn't speak English and has no identification. He probably comes from East Africa or the Middle East. Immigration officials take him in and so starts the story except it's four stories and this boy is the string linking them.

From the airport, he manages to walk out, get on a bus and head to downtown Toronto. Don't ask me how or why, but that's what happens. It defies logic, but hey.

In the first encounter, he meets a boy his age ridding a bicycle in the park near the Bloor Viaduct. The local boy helps the stranger but not long after our visitor vanishes and doesn't show up until the next story. This first story, SHOELACES, is about two pre-adolescent kids riding their bikes and investigating make-believe monsters. Ten-year old kids going out after midnight to investigate a monster in a park didn't strike me as realistic. It ends when they come across a suicide victim. Yet another person jumps off the Blook Viaduct.

The next story is THE BRAZILIAN. The name refers to waxing and not a specific person. Take a young woman eager to hook up with some guy and some guy who isn't sure about himself let alone about the idea of hooking up with some woman. They have sex. We see her naked before and after the waxing. Completely naked, but that doesn't make for an interesting story. The dialogue in this story was so stilted and on-the-nose as to be laughable. People just don't talk that way.

The next story deals with a black man who washes windows. He likes his job, does it well. He has a young wife with a child on the way. Everything is turned upside down when a friend from the past arrives. The two know each other because they did drugs together and what ever other crimes they were involved in. The twist is the fact our visitor has escaped from jail and our hero doesn't know it. This story made the most sense, seemed the most realistic. The complications include the escapee returning to his ex-lover, a woman who wants nothing to do with him. Somehow he got a pistol and holds her hostage. Our hero comes to the rescue and then the police show up. There are some intense and interesting scenes in this story.

In the final sequence LOST BOYS, we have resolution about the young boy from Africa. The story starts in Union Station. A homeless man shouts out offers to play chess. The lost boy shows up but before they can play, a security guard asks him to leave. A bit latter, our bum discovers the boy is the subject of a search, finds him, reports him and he's not there. He's so screwed up, no one believes him, yet he's obsessed with returning this boy and we discover why when he returns to his house. At least it was his house. He was married. Lived in a nice house. Had a son who we discover drowned. It seems his son's death totally screwed him up.

The film ends on a happy note. The lost boy has been found and is safe.

I don't think you can say there's anything terrible profound or new in these four stories. Not great. Not terrible.

What I enjoyed the most was watching a city where I've lived and recognizing it for what it is meant to be: Toronto. There have been hundreds of films shot in Toronto yet most of them have been done so as to be Chicago or New York or some other part of the US. Here, we get to see the city as the city. I liked that.

In may shots, there was a golden hue to the film. There's three explanations for this. First is the choice of film stock. The second is lighting choices. Third, some type of filter was added to the lens. I suspect it was the later, but it could simply be about the lights used. I don't know why it was done, but it was a distraction because there was no consistency. Given the film was made with a small budget, I suspect that had something to do with the look.

Posted 2009/04/30 at 20h55ET in Movie Commentary.

Movies Watched in April 2009

1. 2009/04/01 Twilight (2008). Drama. (2008, 122 mins.) **
2. 2009/04/02 Things We Lost in the Fire. Drama. (2007, 110 mins.) ***
3. 2009/04/02 Four Frightened People. Action. (1934, 78 mins.) **½
4. 2009/04/03 Flash of Genius. Drama. (2008, 119 mins.) **½
5. 2009/04/04 Evening. Drama. (2007, 117 mins.) **
6. 2009/04/05 The Pink Panther. Comedy. (2006, 93 mins.) **½
7. 2009/04/05 White Nights. Drama. (1985, 136 mins.) **½
8. 2009/04/05 Because I Said So. Romantic Comedy. (2007, 102 mins.) **
9. 2009/04/06 Dirty Pretty Things. Drama. (2002, 97 mins.) ***
10. 2009/04/06 Dirty Pretty Things. Drama. (2002, 97 mins.) ***
11. 2009/04/06 My Big Fat Greek Wedding. Romantic Comedy. (2002, 95 mins.) ***
12. 2009/04/06 My Big Fat Greek Wedding. Romantic Comedy. (2002, 95 mins.) ***
13. 2009/04/07 Tough Guys Don't Dance. Crime. (1987, 110 mins.) **
14. 2009/04/07 Immortal Beloved. Drama. (1994, 120 mins.) ***½
15. 2009/04/08 Demon Seed. Fantasy. (1977, 94 mins.) *½
16. 2009/04/08 The Sign of the Cross. Drama. (1932, 122 mins.) **½
17. 2009/04/09 Dogville. Drama. (2003, 178 mins.) **
18. 2009/04/09 Cleopatra. Drama. (1934, 100 mins.) **
19. 2009/04/10 Gone Baby Gone. Crime. (2007, 114 mins.) ***
20. 2009/04/10 Cape Fear. Crime. (1962, 105 mins.) ***½
21. 2009/04/10 His Majesty O'Keefe. Adventure. (1954, 91 mins.) **½
22. 2009/04/11 Day Night Day Night. Thriller. (2006, 94 mins.) **
23. 2009/04/11 High Society. Romantic Comedy. (1956, 111 mins.) ***
24. 2009/04/11 Gothika. Thriller. (2003, 98 mins.) **½
25. 2009/04/12 The Furies. Western. (1950, 109 mins.) ***
26. 2009/04/13 The Ghost and Mrs. Muir. Romantic Comedy. (1947, 104 mins.) ***½
27. 2009/04/14 Broken English. Romance. (2007, 97 mins.) **½
28. 2009/04/15 Journey to the Center of the Earth. Adventure. (2008, 93 mins.) ***
29. 2009/04/15 Happy-Go-Lucky. Comedy. (2008, 118 mins.) ***
30. 2009/04/16 Night at the Museum. Comedy. (2006, 108 mins.) ***
31. 2009/04/16 Jurassic Park III. Action. (2001, 92 mins.) **
32. 2009/04/16 Adrift in Manhattan. Drama. (2007, 91 mins.) ***
33. 2009/04/17 Finian's Rainbow. Musical. (1968, 141 mins.) ***
34. 2009/04/17 Beaufort. War. (2007, 131 mins.) ***
35. 2009/04/18 The Rose Tattoo. Drama. (1955, 117 mins.) ***
36. 2009/04/19 Mona Lisa. Crime. (1986, 104 mins.) ***½
37. 2009/04/19 The Crucible. Drama. (1996, 124 mins.) NR
38. 2009/04/20 Lorenzo's Oil. Drama. (1992, 129 mins.) ****
39. 2009/04/21 Fried Green Tomatoes. Drama. (1991, 130 mins.) ***½
40. 2009/04/22 The Savages. Drama. (2007, 114 mins.) ***
41. 2009/04/22 Persepolis. Animation. (2007, 96 mins.) ***½
42. 2009/04/23 Miss Congeniality. Comedy. (2000, 109 mins.) NR
43. 2009/04/23 The Wrestler. Drama. (2008, 111 mins.) ***½
44. 2009/04/24 Passchendaele. War. (2008, 114 mins.) NR
45. 2009/04/24 Miss Potter. Biographical. (2006, 92 mins.) NR
46. 2009/04/25 A Home at the End of the World. Drama. (2004, 97 mins.) NR
47. 2009/04/25 Catch a Fire. Drama. (2006, 101 mins.) NR
48. 2009/04/25 Sahara (1943). War. (1943, 97 mins.) NR
49. 2009/04/26 Blood Diamond. War. (2006, 143 mins.) NR
50. 2009/04/27 Butterfly on a Wheel (aka Shattered). Thriller. (2007, 95 mins.) NR
51. 2009/04/27 The Love Guru. Comedy. (2008, 87 mins.) NR
52. 2009/04/28 Fierce People. Drama. (2005, 107 mins.) NR
53. 2009/04/28 Speed. Action. (1994, 116 mins.) NR
54. 2009/04/29 Toronto Stories. Drama. (2008, 89 mins.) NR
55. 2009/04/29 Independence Day. Action. (1996, 145 mins.) NR
56. 2009/04/30 Mad Max 2 (aka Road Warrior). Action. (1981, 95 mins.) NR
57. 2009/04/30 You Kill Me. Comedy. (2007, 93 mins.) NR
58. 2009/04/30 Air Force One. Action. (1997, 124 mins.) NR

Listed 2012/04/02 at 03h19ET.

Weights (6.0147)

...a long, full weights workout...

T

here are lot of companies that promise quick fixes when it comes to losing weight and getting into shape. They are full of shit. To lose fat and gain muscle takes effort, discipline and time. That later means patience, which means no quick fixes. To think otherwise is nuts.

Stomach Crunches on Swiss Ball: 30 reps x 6 sets with 2KG medicine ball.

Bicep Curls on Swiss Ball: 7kg x 25 reps x 6 sets

Tricep Presses on Swiss Ball: 14kg x 25 reps x 3 sets.

Leg Lunges: 10 reps x 6 sets - Left/Right

Squats: 10 reps x 6 sets.

Lateral Back 27 kg x 25 reps x 3 sets

Vertical Back 27 kg x 25 reps x 3 sets

Posted 2009/04/29 at 20h47ET in Exercise.

Speed (1994)

Speed. Feature film. (1994, 116 mins) IMDB

...one of best action films--ever!...

S

PEED is an action film and one of the best ever produced. The film was made at a time when computer effects were just starting to take hold in film production. Today, action films are so filled with computer effects they are computer games, not films. Bond films, SPEED and others like it where a bus flies in the air, where people are jump from a moving bus are what action films should be. I sense a revolt among viewers when it comes to CGI and action movies. We want the real thing, not an imitation.

Posted 2009/04/29 at 20h47ET in Movie Commentary.

Fierce People (2005)

Fierce People. Feature film. (2005, 107 mins) IMDB

...a far too predictable filme...

W

here do people get the notion that being eccentric is interesting? It may be interesting in itself for a few seconds, but it wears, after which point there had better be something happening to the characters or we'll get bored. But that's not enough, because we have to care about the characters and I never cared about the characters in this film.

Diane Lane plays a single mother living in a small, run-down apartment in NYC. She's a masseuse, sort of, because she screws just about anyone who shows up at her door, does drugs and drinks to excess. Her adolescent son lives with her and just accepts that her mother is screwed up.

Here comes the inciting incident. A very rich dude wants her to live and work for him as his personal masseuse and in a flash, the two of them pack up and head to this giant estate out in the country.

What follows really doesn't matter as it's not interesting. Truly. It's also extremely predictable.

The patriarch (Sutherland) takes care of his kingdom. Whatever wives he had have left with a boat load of money. His daughter (Perkins), the lush, lives with him. There's the two grandchildren and various maids and servants and all the rich neighbours.

There are so many characters we don't have a lot of time to get to know them. They come in for a scene or two and are gone. Plus we don't care because they don't do anything.

Somehow I think the filmmakers viewed this story as an indictment of the rich, but it doesn't go very far. We known the rich get away with murder. That's hardly news.

If it's meant to be a satire, it didn't strike any notes.

This film muddles along in a predictable way and when it's over we're thankful.

Posted 2009/04/29 at 20h47ET in Movie Commentary.

Cardio (6.0138)

...another cardio day...

A

nother cardio day. 30 minutes on the elliptical machine. A good workout. I had thoughts of stretching and stomach crunches afterward, but felt rushed for time and didn't get to it.

Posted 2009/04/28 at 20h02ET in Exercise.

The Love Guru (2008)

The Love Guru. Feature film. (2008, 87 mins) IMDB

...it's much funnier film than people give it credit...

I

saw the many bad reviews for this film before I watched it and braced myself. I'm also biased because this film is about hockey and Canada which means I can relate and I do. I will say I was surprised. I had a smile on my face from the start of the movie to the end. That doesn't happen very often. Rarely. This film did it for me. My cheeks are sore from smiling. I'm in isolation in that regard, but that's what happened. Yes, I cringed at the urine mop sequence (please press fast forward) and the elephants copulating on the ice during a hockey game was too much, but I can let that pass because I was laughing and smiling so much during the rest of the film.

If this film rated so poorly, what gives? What did I see that others didn't? What is wrong with them? I'm not sure. I suppose since success is measured with US box office receipts where hockey rates with water polo, they don't get it and don't care. Oh well. Their loss.

While the Leafs, my favourite team, is a central part of the movie, it's not a hockey movie. US folks should have gotten past that but I guess they couldn't. All I can say is I'm not going to hide and lie. I liked this movie.

I was also impressed with the skating ability of the actors in this film. While there were stunt doubles for the fast, puck handling moments, the actors were on the ice, in equipment, and they didn't fall flat on their face. It was impressive.

There was an obvious scene missed: the love guru struggling on skates. Not sure why they didn't include such a scene. I'd say, include it in the sequel, except unlike Wayne's World and Austin Powers, there won't be a sequel.

Posted 2009/04/28 at 20h02ET in Movie Commentary.

Butterfly on a Wheel (2007)

Shattered. Feature film. (2007, 95 mins) IMDB

...one of the best thrillers I've seen in a long time...

A

s in many thrillers there are twists and turns and they are based on withheld information and disinformation. This film is no different in that regard.

During the long, boring setup, we meet Mr. and Mrs. Perfect couple. They live in a perfect house in Chicago. They have a perfect young daughter. The husband has a perfect job where he's perfect. Life couldn't be any better. That's a typical setup for this type of movie because what follows is the complete upheaval of their life.

With plans for the weekend, a man confronts them in their SUV. He has a gun and tells them their daughter is a hostage. Do as I say and she won't be hurt.

So far there's nothing in this film we haven't seen before, but what follows is different including the ending. I think it's next to impossible to predict the third act, to guess what happens. I don't see how anyone could do. For that reason, I won't spell it out here. Probably.

To show us how different this film is, our kidnapper forces the couple to go to their bank and withdraw all the cash they can. With a suitcase full of cash, he proceeds to burn it. Ouch. Since we only see part of it burning, we should know better. Here is an element of misinformation. What appears to happen, doesn't happen. It also defies logic that someone would have his hand on $100,000 and burn it. That piques our interest, because if he doesn't want money from this couple, what does he want. That forms the central question of the movie. Why is doing this? The answer comes in the end and we don't expect what we find out. You have to love it.

I've said enough about the plot.

I thoroughly enjoyed the film (except for the tedious and slow setup). It should have been shortened.

Although this film stars Pierce Brosnan et al, the film fits into the independent category simply because it's Canadian film with a bunch of non-Canadians involved in it. The result is the film didn't have a massive marketing budget, didn't get reviewed, didn't get any push. Too bad for viewers because it's a worthwhile film to watch.

Posted 2009/04/28 at 20h02ET in Movie Commentary.

Weights (6.0130)

...a full weights workout...

B

ench Press: 11kg x 25 reps x 3 sets

Inclined Bench Press: 11kg x 25 reps x 3 sets

Stomach Crunches on Swiss Ball: 30 reps x 6 sets with 2KG medicine ball.

Bicep Curls: 7kg x 25 reps x 6 sets

No Leg Lunges.

No Squats.

Posted 2009/04/27 at 20h54ET in Exercise.

Blood Diamond (2006)

Blood Diamond. Feature film. (2006, 143 mins) IMDB

...an intense film--must see...

I

n the West African nation of Sierra Leone you can find diamonds. Control the diamonds and you control the income that comes from selling them. With the money from selling diamonds and you can fund an army to maintain control over the diamonds and continue the cycle.

Having lived in West Africa, I can related to what is shown in this film. It is dangerous place even when civil war isn't breaking out.

Solomon is a fisherman trying to provide for his family. He wants his son to do well in school. His world is turned upside down when rebel forces attack his village. What is shown is gruesome. Sick even. The villagers are shot with AK-47s. Those who survive are tortured and mutilated. I'll never fully understand who people can do this and while the film tries to answer that question, I don't think it can.

Solomon, because he is fit and able, is taken from the village to a diamond mining operation. He, along with many others, sift through mud in a river to find diamonds. One person tries to steal a diamond, is found out and shot.

Many civilians are shot in this movie.

While sifting through the river, Solomon finds a large, pink diamond. He conceals it, buries it, but is found out. When the sadistic rebel leader is about to kill Solomon, a government attack comes. Some are killed and many are rounded up and taken to a Freetown prison. Needless to say, this prison is no hotel.

It's in prison where Solomon meets Danny Archer. A white African who is involved in smuggling diamonds to Liberia, who traffics in guns for rebels or whoever can afford them and is essentially a mercenary. He's a piece of work. When he learns Solomon stole a large diamond, one that may be priceless, Archer attaches onto Solomon in order to get the diamond. It's his ticket out of Africa.

Then there's the third major character. Maddy has come from the US to write about the civil war and conflict diamonds. Since Archer knows inside secrets, she wants to pick his brain but wont' help that is until he needs something from her.

Since they left prison, the rebels have invaded the capital and taken over. The country is in anarchy. She can travel to places as journalist. The two of them tag along as "journalists."

The film is filled with intense battles. The rebels raiding villages, invading Freetown. Attacks by government troops. Attacks from mercenaries. It all gives a framework in which our three central characters are fighting for their lives. Archer shows why he survived so many years in Africa. He knows how to kill.

I found myself completely caught up in this film. The many situations where it was life and death for our heroes were many and real. Intense. I kept thinking I'm glad I'm not going through that. I've been there and at my age, I don't think I'd want to go back. It gives me nightmares where I'm hunted and trapped.

The film also reminded me I wouldn't buy diamonds even if I knew they came from Canada as many do. I don't like jewellery. I don't like wearing rings. Why are people so superficial about diamonds and "bling." That's something else I don't get. I see NBA stars with 1 carat diamond studs sticking out of their lobes and wonder what doesn't go through their heads.

Posted 2009/04/27 at 20h12ET in Movie Commentary.

Cardio (6.0121)

...cardio but no swimming...

S

ince it was Sunday I was supposed to go swimming. It didn't happen. The pool is open from 16h to 17h and I wasn't able to get their in time. Instead of swimming I did 30 minutes on the elliptical machine. That's always a good workout.

Posted 2009/04/26 at 22h19ET in Exercise.

Sahara (1943)

Sahara. Feature film. (1943, 97 mins) IMDB

...a predictable WWII film...

S

AHARA is an entirely predictable WWII film staring Humphrey Bogart.

Bogart is a sergeant of a tank crew in North Africa. The tide is turning against the allies. HQ orders him and his tank to retreat, to go south and they head south. It's just one tank and a few soldiers. Their concerns are the German troops and water.

They encounter a British hospital unit that is battered and bruised. The two forces hook up and continue south in search of water.

While Bogart is only a sergeant, the British officer in charge of his unit gives up command to Bogart. That's why he's the star.

Enter a Sudanese soldier who guides them toward a well.

Enter a German plane who attacks them. They fight back and shoot down the plane. They have a prisoner of war in this pilot who embodies the hatred towards Germans.

Enter an Italian officer who embodies the bon-homme sitting on the fence type. He hates El Duce and loves the US.

They arrive at an ancient fort with a well. The well is dry except for a trickle. The men are dehydrating and in desperate need of water.

At this point they have maybe thirty men plus POWs.

Enter a force of German soldiers. They are greatly outnumbered and nowhere to go and no support in sight. It looks bleak for our heroes. They setup up trenches and defence and manager to hold off the Germans. Then in the closing sequence, the Germans give up en mass. They need water and surrender to get it. During the bombing and fighting, the water in the well begins to flood. How ironic.

Posted 2009/04/26 at 22h19ET in Movie Commentary.

Catch a Fire (2006)

Catch a Fire. Feature film. (2006, 101 mins) IMDB

...I don't think I'll ever understand the violence in South Africa...

T

his is not the movie I thought it was going to be. Not your typical Hollywood film. Apartheid. Blacks v. Whites. Torture. Struggles. Hard to image it existed, but I don't doubt it.

Reminds of A DRY WHITE SEASON. Different, but very similar, yet the SEASON was a much better film.

One difference: we don't see the whites living cosy lives, we see it from the blacks perspective with the whites as the Nazis.

The film could be called: how to become a terrorist because at the start of the film Patrick is the exact opposite of a terrorist.

He's married with two daughters. We works as a boss in an important oil refinery in the country. He keeps his nose clean and stays away from the political troubles in his country. But that's not enough.

The ANC bombs the plant where he works and the whites suspect it's him. It wasn't him. He was away coaching his soccer team with a side jaunt to visit his one-time girlfriend who is also the mother of one of his children. No one knows except the two involved.

When he returns, he's captured and accused of terrorism. They'd hang him right away except they want information from him--information he can't provide because he's innocent. They torture him until he confesses except it's clear he's confessing to something he didn't do.

His wife is captured and tortured to make matters worse.

When they are released, the government follows him and he decides to become part of the ANC.

He travels to Mozambique where he trains to be a terrorist. There's an assault on the training facility but our hero survives. There's an interesting image where white soldiers pant their skin black for a sneak attack. There was close-up of one soldier--bright green eyes and completely black face.

He's on a mission. To plant bombs in the plant where he once worked and he does.

It's the ending that doesn't work at all. Muddled. Predictable and so on.

They jump forward to him being released from prison many years later when white rule is over turned. Mendela takes over.

I don't think it was a movie worth making. We've seen it before and the ending didn't work. Not that the ending was wrong, but how we got there was wrong.

I liked the wife: Precious.

I was also impressed by Tim Robbins accent. If I hadn't seen him before, I would have thought he was Dutch or South Africa. Very impressive.

Posted 2009/04/26 at 22h19ET in Movie Commentary.

A Home at the End of the World (2004)

Home at the End of the World. Feature film. (2004, 97 mins) IMDB

...those 70s hairdos were replaced with even wilder 80s hairdos...

T

his film is one of those films I wanted to like a great deal more than I did, but I could never get to that point. Perhaps what I'm saying is I wanted to love it, but never did and that might be asking too much because there aren't many films I love.

Too much happens in the film, over decades, to summarize it with a sentence or two. We meet our hero as a nine-year old boy with an older brother who is a spaced-out on drugs. When he walks through a plate-glass window, a chard punctures his neck and he dies.

Flashforward a few years where Bobby is now in high school. He smokes drugs and befriends Jonathon. They are both on the fringes of society. They are friendly in a way that suggests they are gay and it turns out at least one is gay.

Bobby lost his brother, then his mother and now his father. He goes to live with Jonathon and his parents. He corrupts the mother if that's the right word. Bobby likes to smoke joints and in a scene that defies believability, this 15 year old shares one with Jonathon's mother, dances with her. There is something about the mother that is incredibly odd. It's as if she is exist in autopilot. Someone who cooks, bakes and does the laundry. Anything beyond that and her brain doesn't function.

At some point, we're never told, Jonathon moves out to the big city and Bobby gets a job working in a bakery. He likes to bake. I can relate to that.

He's happy with his life until the parents, his adoptive parents, decide to move to the desert and he is forced to find his own way. This leads him to NYC and Jonathon and his older friend, Clare.

The rest of the film deals with the three of them living together and not living together.

Clare loves Jonathon but he's gay and they never seem to acknowledge that. That's another part of the film I find completely unbelievable. Is she blind? Is he ashamed or in denial? I'm not sure.

When Bobby enters the picture, it's Bobby and Clare. The first time they are in bed he makes the declaration that he's never done this before. That he's a virgin. Give me a break.

At some point Clare becomes pregnant. It's never stated who the father is, but it surely must be Bobby. The three decide to leave the congestion of NYC and move to a farm house for the sake of the child.

Not a lot changes. Yes, there's a new baby girl and the three plus baby live in a farm instead of an apartment, but to what end? To live I suppose. Just another collect of people living on this planet.

The ending is completely subtle. There are hints that Jonathon contracted AIDs. It fits the time and his profile. And Clare packs up and leaves with her daughter on a short trip that isn't apparently short, even though it was her money that purchased the property. I doubt that someone in that situation would be so oblique. Words would be said to make it clear.

I found the hairstyles to be a complete distraction. The cropped bangs, straight across, didn't seem right. It was as if a chimp was the hairdresser.

Aging is never kind to anyone, but it seems particularly curl to blonde females. At least in Robin Wright's case we can always pop in the DVD to THE PRINCESS BRIDE.

Posted 2009/04/26 at 22h19ET in Movie Commentary.

Swim (6.0113)

...oops! It helps to bring my swim trunks when I want to go swimming...

S

ince it's Saturday I planned to swim some laps--one of those easy workouts, but I forgot to bring my swim trunks. Oops. Ugh. I've could have gone au naturel--I was the only one in the pool--but I decided to go in with my workout shorts. What the hell. It worked. There was an interesting side effect. Since they are skin tight, I was swimming laps much faster. My swim trunks are baggy and must create drag.

I also put in some time in the gym before my swim.

Stomach Crunches on Swiss Ball: 30 reps x 6 sets with 2KG medicine ball.

Bicep Curls: 7kg x 25 reps x 6 sets

Posted 2009/04/25 at 19h42ET in Exercise.

Miss Potter (2006)

Miss Potter. Feature film. (2006, 92 mins) IMDB

...enchanting and charming...

M

ISS POTTER is a charming film about the life of Beatrix Potter--noted children's book author and illustrator.

It's the early 1900s in London, England. Potter lives an affluent and protected life with her wealthy parents. She loves animals, love to draw and paint. She also writes stories about her animals.

The early scenes show her making her first steps in the publishing world. The two older brothers who run a publishing firm don't think much of her book and give it to their younger, neophyte brother as a pet project. Little did they realize the book and many that followed would be best sellers.

The young brother is Norman Warne. The two fall in love but since Potter has sworn off marriage and the norms of Victorian England are restrictive, it takes a while for the love to blossom. When she agrees to marry him, her parents are against it. He's a tradesman and beneath her standing and the family's standing in society. Such was the way back then. The three reach an agreement. The family will go away for the summer and if after the summer, they still want to marry, they can do so. Day after day Potter and her fiancé exchange letters until his letters stop. It's not that he's fallen out of love, but that he has become ill. When Potter races back to London to be with him, she's too late. The illness took his life.

That's not how a Hollywood movie is supposed to go, but this film is a biographical and these are the facts. Her first love died before they could marry.

As unmarried woman she has lived her entire life with her parents, but with the wealth from her book sales and desire to live in the country, she buys a farm and moves from London. She continues to draw and paint and write new children's books, but develops an interest in conserving farm land and nature and buys up property.

It's during the property buying that she reconnects with a childhood friend, Mr. Heelis--a country lawyer. Eventually they marry.

I enjoyed the movie. The performances by all the actors were strong--even the small roles.

I also enjoyed the animation moments were Potter's drawings of Peter Rabbit come to life on screen. It's been done before but it was fun to watch.

Posted 2009/04/25 at 19h42ET in Movie Commentary.

Passchendaele (2008)

Passchendaele. Feature film. (2008, 114 mins) IMDB

...it's great to see a Canadian story on screen...

I

say bravo Paul Gross.

As a passionate Canadian I'm biased about this film. I've watched many films and documentaries about both World Wars where it appears as if Canada had nothing to do with either. That's hard to take. It gets me angry especially since some of my uncles fought in both wars.

CNN once showed a graphic: WWII 1941-1945. It's not just Canadians who'd be pissed by such a graphic. A documentary on the DVD for PATTON says as much, "In 1942, just three months into the war..."

Well enough is enough said Paul Gross and I don't blame him.

Canadian soldiers fighting in Europe were fierce. Something about farming and mining and hauling logs will build character that is perfect for the battlefield. One of the things I learned from the movie is the derivation of the word: storm-trooper. The Germans created it to describe the Canadian soldiers they faced. When they saw Canadians were coming, they knew they were in for a fierce battle.

The Canadian Corps took Vimy Ridge when the French and British weren't able and the Americans were back home unwilling. They did the same at Passchendaele.

The film focuses on a portion of the battle of Passchendaele.

The film shows the harsh life on the front lines, the death of battle from hand-to-hand combat to bullets and bombs, but not in the way as is done in ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT. This film is centred completely on the central characters, and yes it's melodramatic, but when a writer chooses to write about a period in history that involves hundreds of thousands of people, he must choose a point of focus. Focus on a few people and show it from their point of view, or look at the bigger picture and risk not having any emotional involvement. Then once it's decided on who to focus on, he must decide on what makes them tick and in this instance he chose a universal storyline--love.

I won't fault him on his choices or execution of them. The film is effective even though a hundred different stories could have been written with the same title about the same point in history.

I haven't said much about the actual film, but I'll say this. He chose to write a structure that isn't expected for any war film let alone WWI. Our hero has already fought many battles in Europe and returns home where he can stay if he wants, but as circumstances develop, he decides to return to battle. He returned home a hero to some, a coward to some and completely screwed up in his own mind.

We see a range of him that is both heroic and evil. In the opening sequence, he runs his bayonet through the head of a defenceless enemy soldier. The visual on screen is gruesome but the images in his mind about what he did must be worse. A Hollywood star wouldn't go near such a scene. It was brave on Paul Gross's part to put it in and for him to act it and keep it.

Again I say bravo Paul Gross.

Posted 2009/04/25 at 19h42ET in Movie Commentary.

Weigths (6.0104)

...full weights workout...

A

nother change in my routine where I did 9 sets of stomach crunches and bicep curls--not sure if it's too much, maybe.

Bench Press: 11kg x 25 reps x 3 sets

Inclined Bench Press: 11kg x 20 reps x 3 sets

Tricep Presses: 14kg x 25 reps x 3 sets.

Stomach Crunches on Swiss Ball: 30 reps x 9 sets with 2KG medicine ball.

Bicep Curls: 7kg x 25 reps x 9 sets

No Leg Lunges.

No Squats.

Posted 2009/04/24 at 19h23ET in Exercise.

Miss Congeniality (2000)

Miss Congeniality. Feature film. (2000, 109 mins) IMDB

...good for a laugh or two...

I

liked this movie, so shot me. Yes, it's devoid of suspense, it has a formulaic structure, and there's no character I'd want to invite to dinner, but there were funny moments even if stupid and silly.

It works because we like Sandra Bullock. She can play comic roles. There are elements of nuisance in her performance that few actors can pull off.

It's the first time I've watched this film and I liked it far better than I should have.

I enjoyed Miss California's outburst moment on stage in front of a live TV audience when she says, "I just want to let all the lesbians out there know if I can make the top ten, so can you!" In a cut to the TV control room, the director asks a butch operator, "Can we say lesbian on TV?" and the operator replies, "Yeah, you got a problem with that." The director is stunned silent.

Well, I laughed and I hope it gnaws at the bible-thumpers.

Posted 2009/04/24 at 19h23ET in Movie Commentary.

The Wrestler (2008)

The Wrestler. Feature film. (2008, 111 mins) IMDB

...why do people put themselves through this?...

W

hen a movie like THE WRESTLER receives a great deal of hype, as this film surely did, and I haven't seen it before the hype, it's going to taint my viewing. The hype in this case is positive, and most of it directed towards Hollywood bad-boy Mickey Rourke.

Watching this film was like watching a balloon being filled with water. At what point will it explode and who's going to get wet?

Rourke plays a wrestler--one of those fake wrestlers. I'm not a fan of wrestling and can't say much about it except this film is all about wrestling and has nothing to do with it. Does that make any sense? It should.

It's the present day in New Jersey. Rourke has just finished wrestling to a small crowd. His body is wounded and sore. He crawls to his trailer park to find the manager locked him out for overdue rent. He sleeps the night in his van. The following morning there's a pat-the-dog scene where the neighbourhood kids come to play with him. They now him and like him and he reciprocates. Pat the dog.

The man is forty something. He's been wrestling for twenty years. His body is battered and tired. He's broke. What I liked about the film is that all this information and other information is said with mostly images. So much is said with little dialogue. Bit by bit we see a man who was once at the top of his field, but those days are gone. He lives hand to mouth and he lives recklessly.

(This film is not ROCKY. It's far less romantic and far more sober.)

When he does earn a few dollars from wrestling, he goes to a strip club where he knows the people who work there and in particular one stripper named Cassidy. He likes her. Gives her money for a dance instead of the manager of his trailer park. He wants more from her, but to her, he's just another customer to take money from or maybe that's just what she says.

The first major turning point happens at the end of Act II. He spent the evening in the ring being cut with glass and barbed wire and being slammed and stapled. It takes a team of medical attendants to clean him up and when they're done, he collapses with chest pain. Not only did he have a heart attack, he had bypass surgery. It should be the end of his wrestling days and for the rest of act II, it is.

His struggle now is how to survive without wrestling--the only thing he was ever good at. Cassidy suggests reuniting with is estranged daughter. On the first visit she wants nothing to do with him. Cassidy suggests buying her a gift and they go shopping in a used-clothing store. The gift works and father and daughter spend time together. They plan to have a dinner. It's all arranged except the night before he continues his reckless ways. He attends a wrestling match as a spectator. When he goes to a bar afterwards, he meets a young groupie who clearly wants to fuck him. They do drugs and drink and fuck and he ends up at her place. When he wakes up the next morning he's a wreck. When he goes home, his only thought is to sleep it off which means his misses the dinner with his daughter. He screwed up again and this time it's for good.

That's major turning point number two. It's act III.

During Act II as he struggles to figure what to do, he works odd jobs and makes headway with Cassidy (real name Pam). They get to know each other outside of the strip club.

While we watch this over-the-hill wrestler in the bottom of his life, we also see the stripper realize hers days in a g-string are almost over as well. Aging isn't kind to anyone and in certain work, it's deadly.

In Act III, our hero goes back to the only thing he is any good at wrestling. He failed with his daughter. He failed in his odd jobs. He failed with Cassidy. He's also failed in taking care of his body and his health, but he doesn't know any other way. He wants whatever it is he gets from being in the ring. It's the only place where he feels comfortable even though it's literally killing him. The steroids and painkillers he takes. All the scars. The bypass surgery.

He attends a big event--an historical rematch. Cassidy follows with the hope of stopping him but can't and when she realizes she can't, she leaves him.

The film ends without explicitly stating what happens, but we can guess. He lost his daughter and it's not likely he'll get her back. Cassidy was in love with him, reached out to him, but when she realizes he's basically suicidal, she backs away. She doesn't want to watch him die. It's not likely he wins her back.

The last image of the film shows him jumping from the ropes into the ring. The film fades to black before he lands. In the scenes just prior, he was feeling chest pains as if he was suffering a heart attack. This finally image to me suggest he dies that night or shortly thereafter. It was his one last moment of glory in the ring--the only place where he knew where to live.

Posted 2009/04/24 at 19h23ET in Movie Commentary.

Cardio (6.0095)

...the routine seems to change the routine...

W

eights yesterday so cardio today.

Yesterday I weighed in at 91.5 KB. I had the same measurement today. I haven't been at that weight in quite some time. My exercise and diet are working to lose fat and gain muscle. If you keep at it, eventually you'll see results, but the trick is to keep at it, day after day and month after month.

Losing weight and getting fit is a long-life pursuit. You can't expect miracles from a few weeks of exercise.

I try to follow a routine with my exercise, but as I try different things, it changes. These days my cardio day workout is now 30 minutes on the elliptical machine followed by stretching and six sets of stomach crunches. I figure I might as well do it.

Stomach Crunches on Swiss Ball: 30 reps x 6 sets with 2KG medicine ball.

Posted 2009/04/23 at 19h19ET in Exercise.

Persepolis (2007)

Persepolis. Feature film. (2007, 96 mins) IMDB

...an animation film with a powerful story and refreshing visuals...

P

ERSEPOLIS is an animation film from France based on the life of its co-writer and co-director Marjane Satrapi. As a young girl in the 1970s, she grew up in Iran under the Shah. Saw the revolution that overthrew him and saw the rise of religious clerics who stamped out freedoms for women.

As a teenager she lived in Vienna, returned to Iran, married, divorced and finally left for good and a new life in France.

The story and images are compelling. It is refreshing to know a film can be made with hand drawings instead of bits of data in a computer.

The title and cover images are not particularly inviting, but that shouldn't stop someone from watching this film.

In watching the features on the DVD, I learned the film took a small army of artists to create the film over a three year period and yet the budget was only $7.5 million. That it was made, is an achievement, but that it is so engaging and revealing about life in Iran is the reward of watching it.

Posted 2009/04/23 at 19h19ET in Movie Commentary.

The Savages (2007)

The Savages. Feature film. (2007, 114 mins) IMDB

...old man in diapers...

S

avages refers to the name of the family. There's Lenny, an old and estranged father, and Wendy, his daughter, and Jon, his son.

Lenny lives in Arizona with a girlfriend. She's as old as him--maybe older. Just as we "get to know her" she dies. With her death, Lenny has no place to stay. His children are called and asked to help. Jon travels from Buffalo and Wendy from NYC. What follows in the movie is how the two siblings deal with their estranged father and the impact it has on their lives.

Wendy lives in Manhattan. We first meet her working in an office where instead of working for her employer, she steals office supplies, writes up applications for grants and uses the postage meter to mail her applications. She lives alone in a small apartment. A neighbour visits. His wife thinks he's out walking the dog, but instead he's fucking Wendy. Not only is he married, but he's older. There's a look on Wendy's face that says, this is the best I can do and puts up with him.

Jon has a Ph.D in theatre. He teaches at some unstated college. He's working on a book about Bertolt Brecht. He lives in an old house cluttered with books and papers. He has a girlfriend who is Polish but since her visa has expired must leave the country. He won't marry her, which would allow her to stay, because, well, he has his reasons.

The bulk of the story deals with the siblings and their father. The step by step process of figuring out where he is and what state he is in and what to do from there. They find him in a hospital and decide to relocate him to a nursing home in Buffalo.

The father doesn't have a lot to say or do in the film. He spends most of his time asleep or semi-comatose. When he does speak it's to emphasize the fact he's losing his mind and just isn't with it. Not an effective character.

Jon spends his time being dutiful because he has to and he just wants to get it over with so he can get on with his life. He has as much joy about what he's doing as he would carrying the garbage to the curb.

Wendy is the true hero of this story. I suppose that's not surprising since the film is written by a woman. She realizes her relationship with a married man isn't such a good idea and ends it. She lies about getting a grant, but manages to get her play in production with a small theatre in NYC. It's a tiny step, but a step forward.

The film tries to shock us with the outrageous behaviour of the father (mostly related to bodily functions). I was neither shocked or outraged, simply annoyed. Do we really need to see this? Of course not. A man in diapers isn't interesting. Where's the wit? Where's the insight? Where's something other than the obvious.

The ending is telegraphed and sudden and not realistic. Lenny could have lived another five or ten years, but the story didn't call for that.

Posted 2009/04/23 at 19h19ET in Movie Commentary.

Weights (6.0087)

...full weights workout...

I

've gotten used to the stomach crunches on the Swiss ball. I wonder if I shouldn't do more workouts with it.

Lateral Back 27 kg x 25 reps x 3 sets

Vertical Back 27 kg x 25 reps x 3 sets

Stomach Crunches on Swiss Ball: 30 reps x 6 sets with 2KG medicine ball.

Bicep Curls: 7kg x 25 reps x 6 sets

Leg Lunges: 10 reps x 6 sets - Left/Right

Squats: 10 reps x 6 sets.

Posted 2009/04/22 at 18h41ET in Exercise.

Fried Green Tomatoes (1991)

Fried Green Tomatoes. Feature film. (1991, 130 mins) IMDB

...you don't have to be a woman to enjoy this film, hating racist bastards helps...

T

he title is unforgettable. I remember watching this film quite a number of years ago and a few images stuck, but for the most part I didn't remember the storyline. I remembered the scene with the bees. In watching it again this evening, it was clear the performer was dealing with the real thing. It was her and there were hundreds of bees swarming the tree, swarming her. In watching the feature with the DVD, it's not hard to see why it worked, but it's something few people could do. As with most wild animals, the best advice is to stay calm. They are more afraid of you than you are of them. Easy to say, but hard to do.

In watching the feature, everybody suggested that fried green tomatoes were a Southern thing (southern US). I don't know where they get that. My mother made them with tomatoes picked from the garden. It was a case of not waiting for them to ripen. And if my mother did, her mother did and so on.

But what about the film. To write about what happens in the film would take as long as watching it. Many characters with two story lines--one in the present and one flashing back to the 1920s and 30s.

The present deals with a middle-aged woman (Bates) who meets an elderly woman (Tandy) by chance in a nursing home. The older woman tells her a story about her sister from long ago.

It wouldn't be fair to say that the bulk of the story is about the flashback because events happen in both time lines. We watch as Bates struggles with her marriage and mid-life while we see the events of the past with Idgie and Ruth and a large cast of characters. There are many familiar faces in this film. It's really two films in one.

Bates' husband is a cliché--fat, career-driven, the bread winner, expects his wife to make dinner and do the household chores while he spends his evenings watching baseball or some other sport on TV. Bates wants something more and begins to take charge of her life.

But sixty years ago, things were different. We meet Idgie as a young girl on the day of her older sister's wedding. Idgie doesn't want to wear a dress. The scrapped knees tell us she's a tom-boy. She pouts and runs off but her older brother Buddy, the voice of reason, comes to the family's rescue. After his intervention we cut to the church and Idgie is wearing a boy's outfit complete with tie.

During the reception we meet Ruth. She's a young woman in love with Buddy. They kiss on a bridge crossing over a railroad. Her hat is caught in the wind and blows down onto the tracks. Buddy like any 18 year old runs after it and runs after it until his foot is caught in the tracks and a train whistle blows and he can't escape and the train can't slow down in time. Death comes suddenly to this wedding.

I didn't like this sequence. I suppose I could say it was melodramatic and it is and I could say we've seen this before and I'm sure we have, but mostly I'm not sure what purpose it serves in the story. The story needs Ruth and Idgie to meet and become friends but at this point in the story there's such an age difference (18 for Ruth, 12 for Idgie), this doesn't seem like the time. The story also requires Ruth to marry Bennett which means she can't marry Buddy. So why have Buddy and Ruth in love? It's just not a necessary bit of the story. Once Buddy dies, we don't think of him and neither do the characters.

With the story setup and time advanced, we meet a young Idgie as an adult and the same Ruth. Neither seem to age in this story, but, as Ebert would say, oh well.

Idgie is not a lady. She wears cloths like a man. She spends her free time at a "bar" where she drinks and gambles and swears. She is a free spirit. She's also most likely a lesbian but that word is never spoken in this film.

Ruth marries someone named Frank Bennett. She moves into a large house with him. When Idgie comes to visit, she discovers Bennett is a wife beater. The black-eye tells the story even if Ruth won't.

If Ruth and Idgie are the central characters of the historical plotline, Bennett and his death create the mystery that drives the story. We know he died or went missing, the question is what happened.

The story answers the question in quite an interesting way and in doing so jabs at the KKK for the bastards that they are and people like Bennett. I don't think I'll ever understand how a husband can hit his wife. We clearly have no sympathy for Bennett nor should we.

This leads to an interesting point about characters in fiction. Stories tend to portray characters in the extreme. If they are good, we only see their goodness and if they are bad, we only see their badness. We never once see anything about Bennett for example that is admirable or worthy. He's a wife beater, a thug, a member of the KKK. Can something really be that one-sided? No, but in story telling that's the case.

Two questions follow. Should that be the case and how does it effect person's reality of the real world.

George Bush The Stupid said you're either with us or you're against us. There's good and there's evil. If you believe in fairy-tales these extremes exist, but not in real life. Even George Bush The Stupid is not entirely evil, although some believe that.

(Note his father is George Bush The Enlightened. I use the nomenclature because it reminds me of the Italian father and son team and the invention the semi-colon.)

People are quick to judge and place people into neat little boxes, and while that serves a purpose, it also closes the mind to other possibilities.

As for the second part, on whether that's appropriate for storytelling, well, that could take months and months to discuss. Critics often speak of two-dimensional characters as opposed to well-rounded, three-dimensional characters. The later being the preference. But is Iago from Othello purely evil and therefore two dimensional or are there signs of benevolence? Is he three dimensional? Perhaps he is more complex, yet evil. A psychopath.

Having said that there is, in this film, lively characters who conflict with one another in a way that is interesting and I suppose that's what we want to see in fiction and film.

The film is also what most would be describe as a chick-flick. That may not be the right description. It's definitely a film in which the focus is on women and therefore would appeal to women, but yet I found interesting. You don't have to be female to enjoy this film.

Posted 2009/04/22 at 18h41ET in Movie Commentary.

Cardio (6.0078)

...another change in my workout...

W

eights yesterday so it was a cardio only day today. My schedule was such that the earliest I could get to the gym was 18h and I thought about skipping it, but didn't. I did a hard 30 minutes on the elliptical machine followed by stretching. I've managed to get stretching in but added a twist--more stomach crunches. Apparently you can do those exercises everyday and decided to put some in. See how that goes.

Stomach Crunches on Swiss Ball: 30 reps x 4 sets with 2KG medicine ball.

Posted 2009/04/21 at 20h22ET in Exercise.

Lorenzo's Oil (1992)

Lorenzo's Oil. Feature film. (1992, 129 mins) IMDB

...what an amazing story...

B

rilliant. Inspiring. An amazing story.

I watched the film for the first time tonight and I'm glad I did. I'm surprised I hadn't watched it before, but that's how it goes. I assumed, based on my limited knowledge of the film, that it would be a downer--parents struggling with a terminally ill child, but that's only part of the story. It's the story of their determination against great odds to help their boy and in doing so find medical solutions and help other boys.

We first meet Lorenzo Odone as a young boy playing and studying in the East African island-nation of Comoros. He's there with his parents because his father, Augusto, works for the World Bank. He's bright, playful, active--a typical boy.

When the family relocates to Washington, DC, the boy acts up in school. Throws tantrums. At first no one knows what to make of it, but after a series of tests at a children's hospital, the cause is discovered. He suffers from an inherited disease known as adrenoleukodystrophy (ALD). It's a death sentence. His body doesn't produce an enzyme that breaks down long-chain fatty acids. These cells build up in the blood and attack the brain. The person's brain slowly shuts down until the person dies. The doctor gives him two years at most to live. Case studies of other boys with the disease show death follows quickly.

The parents first seek out medical help. They visit specialists and try experimental treatment. None of it works. Time is ticking by.

They realize the scientists have their way of doing things and it isn't always in the interest of their son. Michaela takes charge of treating her son who quickly requires round-the-clock nursing. Augusto goes to the medical libraries to learn anything he can.

They are relentless in finding a cure, in getting researchers to do something and in getting the message out through the ALD foundation.

They battle the scientists who must take time to run studies, time to raise funding. They battle the scientists about using an oil that is shown to have negative effects on hearts in rats.

They battle the couple who run the foundation and who follow the line of the scientists. Odone's pseudo-science is rejected. It almost seems as if this couple, played as villains in the movie, didn't want a cure for a boy who is in a vegetative state. It was as if they were saying, it's better for everyone once he's gone. Lozenro's parents reject that notion by their actions. They never had to say it.

Augusto in his search for answers reads the studies and books and thinks about the issues and asks questions and thinks some more. He knows this bit of fact, but wonders why it doesn't work and eventually comes up with an answer. I found this sequence amazing.

Even more amazing is the fact they just don't give up. As their son's body decays (a built in ticking clock), they aren't put off by failures with the first oil treatment. They aren't put off with the impossibility of extracting a very specific chain of oil from another oil.

Even more amazing is the fact the oil worked on their son. He didn't die when the doctors said he would. Other boys took the oil at the first sign of trouble and stayed healthy.

As interesting aspect of this disease is that mother's carry the gene but don't develop the disease. Only boys do. That raises all sorts of questions.

The film is more about the story than any visuals, but what an amazing story. It says don't give up. Never give up.

(I can't believe the low IMDB rating of 6.9. Something is wrong there.)

Posted 2009/04/21 at 20h22ET in Movie Commentary.

Weights (6.0070)

...what a surprise...

T

oday was a weights day, chest and arms, and I did that but changed my stomach crunches because the bench I normally use was being repaired. I used a Swiss ball instead and was surprised at how much more intense it was. I couldn't do as many as my stomach muscles simply tightened up. I think I'll be using it in the future.

Bench Press: 11kg x 25 reps x 3 sets

Inclined Bench Press: 11kg x 20 reps x 3 sets

Stomach Crunches on Swiss Ball: 15 reps x 3 sets and 20 reps x 5 sets with 2KG medicine ball.

Bicep Curls: 7kg x 25 reps x 6 sets

No Leg Lunges.

No Squats.

Posted 2009/04/20 at 19h22ET in Exercise.

The Crucible (1996)

The Crucible. Feature film. (1996, 124 mins) IMDB

...what a disappointment...

I

was so disappointed in this film. Having read Arthur Miller's autobiography, I expected much more than what I saw. I never once got into the narrative. I simply didn't come alive for me and I'm not sure why.

Posted 2009/04/20 at 19h22ET in Movie Commentary.

Mona Lisa (1986)

Mona Lisa. Feature film. (1986, 104 mins) IMDB

...interesting characters, but is George really that stupid?...

G

eorge gets out of prison and goes to his wife's home with a bouquet of flowers. He sees her and his teenaged daughter. The daughter doesn't know him. The mother screams and yells. He runs off in shame and becomes angry. We see he can be violent if he wants and one look at Bob Hoskins and you know he can be violent. His friend Thomas comes to the rescue.

His next stop is to buy a white bunny rabbit and does. He takes it to his former boss played by Michael Caine except his boss is nowhere to be found. I'm not sure why a grown man would buy a bunny rabbit for another grown man. It's quite odd. The rabbit shows up in the climax and still I'm not sure what the hell it's supposed to represent. My only guess is that George is a bit dense and stupid. Maybe. Is George a reference to George in Steinbeck's OF MICE AND MEN? Not likely.

In going to his boss, he expects payback. He spent seven years in jail for his boss and wants a job in return. He gets it. He has a car and drives a high-end call girl around West London. The relationship between the two forms the bulk of the story.

She doesn't like him. He's glad to have something to do. She gives him money to buy new cloths--it seems he's wearing the same suit he wore when he went into prison--a little snug and out of fashion. His choice of clothes upsets her. A leather jacket, a loud shirt, a gold chain. Guido on screen. She takes him to a fine clothing store and buy him shirts, ties, suits, an overcoat.

Each night after her tricks, she asks him to drive her to the street walking area. Here we see a stream of street pros and johns. Night after night until she confides in him and explains she's looking for Cathy. She used to work the streets with Cathy but lost touch and wants to find her. George goes looking.

What surprised me about this sequence was the ability of George to go and do things you and I wouldn't know about and yet when he looks closer he finds another world. It's as if he's seeing the life of these women for the first time. How they are drugged and abused in order to maintain the cash flow. How could he not know? Yet, he seems to have not and it bothers him. At one point he says, "I have a daughter that age." Was he blind before? Stupid? Wasn't interested in finding out? All of these things? What's clear is he's changing as a man. He starts to do the right thing.

When he finds Cathy, it turns out she was under the control of his boss. He takes her away and thus begins Act III.

He takes her to Brighton--a place Simone talked of spending a summer. Simone and Thomas join them. By this point he has fallen in love with Simone and thinks she has as well. After all, he's helped her. Helped her find Cathy and brought her to safety. Helped her get away from Anderson, her former pimp, who has grudge.

As the two of them walk the boardwalk in Brighton, they are confronted by Anderson and his henchmen. The chase is on. They escape but when they return to the hotel suite, his boss with the bunny rabbit is waiting. Anderson and company return. There's a fight and Simone pulls out the revolver George obtained. She shoots Anderson and the boss and Anderson once more. She points the gun at George. He realizes he's been screwed by her. Manipulated by her. He tells her to shoot, but she doesn't. He wrestles the gun away from her. It's the last we see of her.

He finally learns another lesson about women who screw for money. He was duped.

The film ends with George walking with his friend Thomas and his daughter.

All the characters in this film are easy to understand except one--the lead character George. He's not a one-note person. Violent at times. Compassionate at times. He cares for his daughter, Simone and Thomas. He seems street smart but then just plain dumb. Perhaps this is a story to show the maturation of this person. It's the only thing that makes sense to me at this moment, yet it seems too obvious.

Posted 2009/04/20 at 19h22ET in Movie Commentary.

The Rose Tattoo (1955)

The Rose Tattoo. Feature film. (1955, 117 mins) IMDB

...roses, roses and more roses...

N

ot a lot happens in this film and a great deal happens. I say not a lot because the film can be summarized with a few points.

Serafine Delle Rose lives in a house somewhere in the south with her husband and teenaged daughter. She's from Sicily and behaves and talks as we've come to expect from an Italian. Loud and passionate. Never holding back.

She reveres her husband whom she calls the rose. His hair smells of roses from the rose oil and he has a rose tattoo on his chest. We never meet him. He was a Baron in Italy (or so we're told) but in the US he drives a truck. He seems to be involved in hauling something illegal and in the opening scenes dies when chased by police. His truck veers off the road and crashes.

The wife is distraught from the news. At this point the film flashes forward three years. Serafina has closeted herself in the house. She doesn't get dressed anymore. She's behind in her work--making dresses and shirts.

Her daughter, Rose, is about to graduate from high school. In a scene she meets a sailor. The mother tries to scare the sailor off, but he explains he's a virgin too and swears he won't touch her. We don't see a great deal of the young couple. The focus is on the mother. By the end of the film, the two plan to get married with the mother's blessing and run off.

In the opening scene, a woman leaves a tattoo shop where she got a rose tattoo on her chest. She goes to Serafina with silk cloth to have a shirt made for a man. Because of the accident, the silk shirt is never collected.

Enter Burt Lancaster at the 52nd minute. I was surprised he was so late coming into this film, but Serafina is the star of this film and she won an academy award for her performance.

Lancaster plays an Italian immigrant (his performance and accent wasn't believable at times). He drives a truck, is poor and falls in love with Serafina.

Part of the film is Serafina acting and behaving because of what the neighbours would think. She's always worried about it, acting on those thoughts. For example, it's late at night. Lancaster is visiting her house. She tells him to park his truck down the street and sneak into the house. She doesn't want the neighbours spreading rumours.

Back to the silk shirt. She gives it to Lancaster to wear and puts two and two together. Her husband was cheating on her. That's what she thinks and has to find out and does. When she does, her revered rose is a disgrace to her, but the film ends on an upbeat. She and Lancaster become a couple.

Posted 2009/04/19 at 21h07ET in Movie Commentary.

Swimming and Weights (6.0113)

...I got in my swimming this week...

T

here were no holidays this week to screw up my workout schedule and went to the gym for a swim except I ran errands before hand and was early. The pool isn't open for laps until 17h30. With 30 minutes to wait, I decided to go into the gym and do some bicep curls and stomach crunches.

And again with nice weather, the place seemed vacant

Bicep Curls: 7kg x 25 reps x 3 sets

Stomach Crunches: 30 reps x 4 sets with 2KG medicine ball.

And stretching as always these days. It makes a difference.

Posted 2009/04/18 at 19h30ET in Exercise.

Beaufort (2007)

Beaufort. Feature film. (2007, 131 mins) IMDB

...an anti-war film...

I

f you're a Canadian like me, Beaufort means something that is very different from what it means in this film. There's the literal translation from French to English, there's the Beaufort Sea and, to my discovery, there's a legendary castle in Lebanon that dates back to the crusades. The film is about the later.

The Israeli army controls this piece of land in Lebanon, but as the movie unfolds, control may be the wrong word. Soldiers live in a modern-day, fortified bunker on top a barren hill. It's steel and concrete and sand bags. Life inside is grim. Hygiene a luxury.

They are surrounded by the enemy--an enemy we never see or get to know. Every hour mortars scream into the compound, land and explode. The men run for cover. To them, the mortars seem more like a nuisance--like putting up with black flies or mosquitoes.

The men are solders. Always in full battle gear. Always thinking about getting out, saving their ass, bickering with one another. Besides that, they are simply a target. They aren't defending anything because there is nothing to defend. They never fire a shot. Never once do they see a target to shot at. They are biding time until they leave, and in this film, it's leaving the outpost for good.

In the first act, a bomb squad soldier arrives at Beaufort to dismantle a land mine (maybe an IUD) on the road leading to the fort. In a practical sense, it would be better to set it off and let it explode except the upper echelon want it dismantled to study what's inside. As the man works to dismantle the bomb, it goes off and is killed. His fellow soldiers are upset at the stupidity of the higher-ups. I don't blame them. What's effective about this moment is we don't know what will happen. The debate rages. Yes it will go off. No, it won't. There are reasons for both.

In Act II, a new development arises. The enemy has its hands on US-made TOW missiles. They are far more dangerous than the mortars. We're told these missiles can penetrate 800 centimetres--more than enough to penetrate their walls. Several soldiers die. There is a debate about what to do? Some want to leave the fort and fight--find who launched the missiles and kill them. The higher-ups simply add more concrete protection and wait for the evacuation.

Act III is about leaving the fort for good. Stripping it of what they can, ferrying out soldiers, and planting explosives to blow the place up.

The climax is predictable. With the push of a button, all the explosives go off and the fort blows up in a massive fireball. The direction of this action was poor. It was essentially one master shot. For such a critical moment in the film, I expected multiple camera angles with different views of what blew up. I fully expected a shot from inside the bunks but that never came.

I expected more because in previous explosion shots there was an element of realism that isn't usually found in feature films. Pieces of metal ripped by the screen in a way that was genuine and not computer generated.

The characters all speak Hebrew in this film--a language I don't know. The subtitles were a bit too fast to disappear. It's not that I'm a slow reader, it's that you want a chance to read the text and see the images--absorb the images and I found I didn't have enough time for both.

I knew Hebrew is a right to left language, but there was a discovery. Like almost all major languages, they use the Arabic number system, but the numbers are written left to right. For some reason I expected the numbers to be reversed. I also noticed a number of English language words have made their way into their language. Bullshit, shit and okay come to mind. There were a couple of others, but I can't remember them and didn't note them down.

Anytime a movie is made about war, it quickly becomes an issue of whether the film is a statement for war or against it. Given the retreat shown in the film, the soldiers' deaths, BEAUFORT an anti-war film.

Posted 2009/04/18 at 19h30ET in Movie Commentary.

Finian's Rainbow (1968)

Finian's Rainbow. Feature film. (1968, 141 mins) IMDB

...that old devil moon...

A

day ago if you had told me Francis Ford Coppola had directed a musical staring Fred Astaire I would have said you're nuts. It never happened. Well, he did and it's true. Surprise, surprise.

The film is a big budget production of the Broadway musical of the same name. Since the musical started in the 1940s, why did it take so long to get to the big screen? The content. The story takes place in Kentucky where racists are as common as blue grass. The show pokes fun at these racists in a way that's fun and humourous. It's probably the best part of the film.

But while this satire is fun, the best part is still the music and in particular the song OLD DEVIL MOON. When the song starts and you recognize it, it will transpose you to another world and for the moment when the song plays, time stands still and that's how it should be.

Posted 2009/04/18 at 19h30ET in Movie Commentary.

Weights (6.0105)

...the weather was even better and fewer people came to the gym...

I

t was a hot, summer-like day and even I thought about skipping my workout but I went. A weights day.

Bench Press: 11kg x 25 reps x 3 sets

Bicep Curls: 7kg x 25 reps x 6 sets

Tricep Presses: 14kg x 25 reps x 3 sets.

Stomach Crunches: 30 reps x 6 sets with 2KG medicine ball.

No Leg Lunges.

No Squats.

Posted 2009/04/17 at 18h21ET in Exercise.

Jurassic Park III (2001)

Jurassic Park III. Feature film. (2001, 92 mins) IMDB

...here's a sequel that didn't need to get made unless you were cashing cheques...

F

igure out a way to get Dr. Grant back on the island with all those dinosaurs for a third time. How? Pretend to be exceedingly rich with a taste for adventure trips and tell him you only want to fly over the island. He wouldn't go near the place if he didn't need money to continue his field research.

But once you're near the island land the plane so you can search for your missing son who is probably been processed through some dino's digestive track. Bring along a large cast so we can see them become dino snacks. Make sure the plane is cracked up beyond repair so they can't just fly out. Make sure the radio is kaput and the portable phones don't work.

Now they are stuck on the island with dinos chasing after them. A few die. Some are scrapped up. Teo Leoni spends half the film screaming and running.

Then as they make their way to the beach, have the marines land a company of men to rescue our heroes.

I think that about covers it.

Posted 2009/04/17 at 18h21ET in Movie Commentary.

Night at the Museum (2006)

Night at the Museum. Feature film. (2006, 109 mins) IMDB

...fun, fun, fun...

F

un, fun, fun.

The film has a trite plot, and follows the formula, but still it's fun. Laughs and adventure all confined to the Museum of Natural History in Manhattan.

Stiller plays a dreamer who can't find his place in the world. He hopes his big idea will make him into something he isn't. His ex-wife has married a nerdy bond trader (Paul Rudd). He shares custody with their ten-year old son who doesn't want much to do with his flaky father. Hold up your hands if you've seen this before. Yes, I know, it's trite, but this film isn't meant to be provocative or insightful, it's meant to create laughs and it does.

Desperate to maintain a relationship with his son, he looks for any work that will give him some stability and ends up as the night watchman at the History of Natural Museum. That would normally spell the end of any story because such a job is filled with tedium except there's a catch. Ever since the museum received a certain Egyptian tablet--24 carat gold--the exhibits come to life during the night. A t-rex skeleton steps from his platform and growls and chases a bone like a dog. Teddy Roosevelt kicks the hinds of his horse and trots down the aisle. Attila the Hun raises his sword, screams and chases after our hero. From Romans, to Western settlers to Egyptians to African animals, the place comes alive. The result is chaos and danger and zaniness.

Suffice it to say once his son sees what his father's new job is like, he's no longer the butt of jokes.

Act III is as completely absurd as the second, but it does shift gears in the story and bring us to a conclusion. The conclusion being a statement his son made about his father in the opening minutes of the movie.

"What if you're wrong and you're just an ordinary guy who should get a job." Ouch.

Well, I guess the job doesn't matter. Maybe.

Posted 2009/04/17 at 18h21ET in Movie Commentary.