Weights (6.0059)

...a modified workout...

S

ince Monday is a weights day, I couldn't do weights today and I didn't feel like going swimming or twirling away on some cardio machine, but I wanted to do something and decided on a minimum of stomach crunches and bicep curls. When I got home I realized I had done these same two exercises everyday this week. That's a first.

Is it making a difference? I think so but it's hard to tell. I just keep at it knowing there is improvement even it's not immediately noticeable.

Stomach Crunches on Swiss Ball: 40 reps x 9 sets with 3KG medicine ball.

Bicep Curls on Swiss Ball: 7kg x 25 reps x 9 sets

Posted 2009/05/31 at 20h58ET in Exercise.

Movies Watched in May 2009

1. 2009/05/01 New York City Serenade. Drama. (2007, 103 mins.) NR
2. 2009/05/01 Religulous. Documentary. (2008, 101 mins.) NR
3. 2009/05/01 No Reservations. Romantic Comedy. (2007, 104 mins.) NR
4. 2009/05/02 Semi-Pro. Comedy. (2008, 91 mins.) NR
5. 2009/05/02 The Prince and the Pauper. Drama. (1937, 118 mins.) NR
6. 2009/05/03 Spanglish. Comedy. (2004, 131 mins.) NR
7. 2009/05/03 The Gift. Crime. (2000, 112 mins.) NR
8. 2009/05/03 Song of the Thin Man. Comedy. (1947, 86 mins.) NR
9. 2009/05/04 In Bruges. Crime. (2008, 107 mins.) NR
10. 2009/05/04 8½. Drama. (1963, 138 mins.) NR
11. 2009/05/05 New York City Serenade. Drama. (2007, 103 mins.) NR
12. 2009/05/05 Vital Signs. Drama. (1990, 103 mins.) NR
13. 2009/05/05 Man About Town. Drama. (2006, 96 mins.) NR
14. 2009/05/05 Religulous. Documentary. (2008, 101 mins.) NR
15. 2009/05/06 You Kill Me. Comedy. (2007, 93 mins.) NR
16. 2009/05/06 Dead Fish. Comedy. (2004, 98 mins.) NR
17. 2009/05/06 Sahara (2005). Action. (2005, 124 mins.) NR
18. 2009/05/07 After the Sunset. Action. (2004, 97 mins.) NR
19. 2009/05/07 The Duchess. Drama. (2008, 110 mins.) NR
20. 2009/05/07 Air Force One. Action. (1997, 124 mins.) NR
21. 2009/05/07 Fathers' Day. Comedy. (1997, 98 mins.) NR
22. 2009/05/08 Wife vs. Secretary. Romantic Comedy. (1936, 88 mins.) NR
23. 2009/05/08 Miami Vice. Crime. (2006, 134 mins.) NR
24. 2009/05/09 The Breakfast Club. Drama. (1985, 97 mins.) NR
25. 2009/05/10 Stay. Romantic Comedy. (2006, 87 mins.) NR
26. 2009/05/10 Rambo. Action. (2008, 92 mins.) NR
27. 2009/05/10 Bottle Shock. Biographical. (2008, 110 mins.) NR
28. 2009/05/11 Slumdog Millionaire. Drama. (2008, 120 mins.) NR
29. 2009/05/12 Constantine. Fantasy. (2005, 121 mins.) NR
30. 2009/05/13 Bedtime Stories. Drama. (2008, 99 mins.) NR
31. 2009/05/13 Home Alone 2: Lost in New York. Comedy. (1992, 120 mins.) NR
32. 2009/05/13 Bottle Shock. Biographical. (2008, 110 mins.) NR
33. 2009/05/14 Factotum. Drama. (2005, 94 mins.) NR
34. 2009/05/15 Mission: Impossible III. Action. (2006, 126 mins.) NR
35. 2009/05/16 Hancock. Action. (2008, 92 mins.) NR
36. 2009/05/16 La cage aux folles. Comedy. (1978, 110 mins.) NR
37. 2009/05/16 Taxi. Comedy. (2004, 97 mins.) NR
38. 2009/05/17 Fool's Gold. Romantic Comedy. (2008, 113 mins.) NR
39. 2009/05/17 Stranger Than Fiction. Drama. (2006, 113 mins.) NR
40. 2009/05/17 Dirty Harry. Crime. (1971, 102 mins.) NR
41. 2009/05/18 88 Minutes. Thriller. (2007, 108 mins.) NR
42. 2009/05/18 Stop-Loss. War. (2008, 112 mins.) NR
43. 2009/05/18 Miss Congeniality 2: Armed & Fabulous. Comedy. (2005, 115 mins.) NR
44. 2009/05/18 Redacted. War. (2007, 90 mins.) NR
45. 2009/05/18 Dark City. Fantasy. (1998, 100 mins.) NR
46. 2009/05/19 The Importance of Being Earnest. Comedy. (2002, 97 mins.) NR
47. 2009/05/19 My Blueberry Nights. Drama. (2007, 93 mins.) NR
48. 2009/05/20 Blindness. Drama. (2008, 121 mins.) NR
49. 2009/05/20 Divorzio all'italiana. Drama. (1961, 105 mins.) NR
50. 2009/05/21 Dedication. Romance. (2007, 95 mins.) NR
51. 2009/05/21 Bella Martha. Romantic Comedy. (2001, 109 mins.) NR
52. 2009/05/21 The Kingdom. Drama. (2007, 110 mins.) NR
53. 2009/05/22 The Woodsman. Drama. (2004, 87 mins.) NR
54. 2009/05/22 License to Wed. Romantic Comedy. (2007, 91 mins.) NR
55. 2009/05/22 Hostage. Crime. (2005, 113 mins.) NR
56. 2009/05/23 My Mom's New Boyfriend. Comedy. (2008, 97 mins.) NR
57. 2009/05/23 Prime. Romantic Comedy. (2005, 105 mins.) NR
58. 2009/05/23 The Flock. Crime. (2007, 105 mins.) NR
59. 2009/05/24 Willow. Fantasy. (1988, 126 mins.) NR
60. 2009/05/24 Caro diario. Comedy. (1993, 100 mins.) NR
61. 2009/05/25 Swing Vote. Drama. (2008, 120 mins.) NR
62. 2009/05/25 The Eye. Horror. (2008, 98 mins.) NR
63. 2009/05/26 Frost/Nixon. Drama. (2008, 122 mins.) NR
64. 2009/05/26 Mamma Mia!. Comedy. (2008, 108 mins.) NR
65. 2009/05/27 Frost/Nixon. Drama. (2008, 122 mins.) NR
66. 2009/05/27 Bolt. Animation. (2008, 96 mins.) NR
67. 2009/05/27 Good Luck Chuck. Drama. (2007, 96 mins.) NR
68. 2009/05/28 Jumper. Action. (2008, 88 mins.) NR
69. 2009/05/29 Wristcutters: A Love Story. Drama. (2006, 88 mins.) NR
70. 2009/05/29 Sneakers. Thriller. (1992, 126 mins.) NR
71. 2009/05/29 The Treatment. Romance. (2006, 86 mins.) NR
72. 2009/05/30 Into the Wild. Drama. (2007, 148 mins.) NR
73. 2009/05/30 Galaxy Quest. Comedy. (1999, 102 mins.) NR
74. 2009/05/30 Casablanca. Drama. (1942, 102 mins.) NR
75. 2009/05/30 Swing Vote. Drama. (2008, 120 mins.) NR
76. 2009/05/31 Nothing Sacred. Romantic Comedy. (1937, 77 mins.) NR
77. 2009/05/31 In the Bedroom. Drama. (2001, 130 mins.) NR

Listed 2012/04/02 at 03h29ET.

Cario and weights (6.0050)

...cardio and some weights...

T

his is the sort of workout I like. A solid 30 minutes on the elliptical machine followed by some weights and stretching. Lots of sweat and no difficulty doing it.

Stomach Crunches on Swiss Ball: 40 reps x 9 sets with 3KG medicine ball.

Bicep Curls on Swiss Ball: 7kg x 25 reps x 9 sets

Posted 2009/05/30 at 20h58ET in Exercise.

The Treatment (2006)

The Treatment. Feature film. (2006, 86 mins) IMDB

...a realistic look at romance...

F

or some reason I liked this movie. I liked the actors and I wanted them to get together even though there doesn't appear to be all that many original elements to it.

She's a widow, a wealthy widow, living in Manhattan with two young children. One is a young boy going to a private school where our hero works as an English teacher. He's screwed up because his mother died when he was young, his father is distant and his true love left him for someone else and is getting married.

The story focuses on how the screwed up English teacher gets together with the widow even though everyone around them says no. It wouldn't be a good move.

Ian Holm plays a belligerent shrink for our hero. There are the requisite shrink sessions where our hero is sprawled out on a couch, but here's the twist. Like a ghost, the shrink also appears from closets and the corner of a room watching and commenting on our hero's life and activity--especially his sex with the widow.

Posted 2009/05/30 at 19h59ET in Movie Commentary.

Weights (6.0042)

...a full weights workout...

S

ince it was Friday, a part of me wanted to leave early, but I realized there was no point. I might as well put in a long workout and did.

I also decided to increase the number of reps I do for stomach crunches. It was becoming too easy. Same for the bench press.

Bench Press: 14kg x 25 reps x 3 sets

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

Stomach Crunches on Swiss Ball: 40 reps x 9 sets with 3KG medicine ball.

Bicep Curls on Swiss Ball: 7kg x 25 reps x 9 sets

No Tricep Presses.

Leg Lunges: 10 reps x 9 sets - Left/Right

Squats: 10 reps x 9 sets.

Posted 2009/05/29 at 19h59ET in Exercise.

Jumper (2008)

Jumper. Feature film. (2008, 88 mins) IMDB

...oh for the chance at a new screenplay...

A

teenaged boy discovers he can jump through space, dematerialize from say New York City and in a flash rematerialize in Egypt next to the Giza pyramids. It's a neat trick and a neat premise, but it doesn't make for much of a story.

It's not a story because where's the trouble in being able to jump around the world? There is none. Life is good for our hero. To create a story, Paladins are created. There's regular humans, Jumpers and Paladins. The later two have been fighting a private war for centuries. Paladins are out to track down and kill the Jumpers.

Not much is ever explained and therefore the resulting action has little meaning. That's the point of the movie--create action sequence after action sequence. It's effective and good looking, lots of CGI that isn't obvious, but since there's little underlying story, the action becomes repetitive and boring.

There is also a love interest that is completely unbelievable. In the opening sequence, our hero gives a snow dome to the love interest. A bully intercedes, takes the dome away, taunts them and throws it away. The scene is so lame, so dreary. Couldn't they come up with something original and interesting? In an attempt to retrieve the dome, our hero walks on the thin ice of a river. With no surprise he goes under and presumably dies--that's what everyone thinks, except he lives because he can jump from one point in space to another.

Flash forward five years. Our hero returns to the small town, finds the love interest and they reconnect as if nothing happened. It's completely unbelievable and unrealistic.

The film is a great disappointment because given this premise, there are so many possible storylines that would have been much more interesting and important.

Posted 2009/05/29 at 19h59ET in Movie Commentary.

Cardio (6.0034)

...cardio and some weights...

I

t feels great to be able to do a full 30 minutes of cardio and that's what I did today. I followed it up with bicep curls and stomach crunches and stretching.

Stomach Crunches on Swiss Ball: 30 reps x 9 sets with 3KG medicine ball.

Bicep Curls on Swiss Ball: 7kg x 25 reps x 9 sets

Posted 2009/05/28 at 19h06ET in Exercise.

Good Luck Chuck (2007)

Good Luck Chuck. Feature film. (2007, 96 mins) IMDB

...what a sad, pathetic movie...

T

he film is billed as a romantic comedy. There is nothing romantic or comic about it. It is crude, rude, boorish, lame, stupid, idiotic, pathetic, hideous, gross and a handful of other negative words I can throw into the list.

How anyone can think this film was a good idea, that it should be made and people would like it, is beyond me. It's a terrible film.

The premise has some interest but it the execution of it is sucked dry with boorish attempts at humour. It's shallow. We don't like the characters and in fact I'd rather see them tortured then gain any sort of romantic resolution. This is particularly true for the hero's sidekick--a fellow medical practitioner who will say anything provided it's crude. I'm sure people like him exist. If you meet them you want to run the other way and putting them in a film, aiming to be a romantic comedy, is just stupid.

And that premise? Our hero is a good luck charm for women. If a woman has sex with him, they immediately find their true love and get married, but it's never Chuck. The way the filmmakers work the premise is sad. Do we really need a ten minute montage of porn? How is that romantic?

Posted 2009/05/28 at 19h06ET in Movie Commentary.

Bolt (2008)

Bolt. Feature film. (2008, 96 mins) IMDB

...a fun animation film...

B

olt, a puppy, sits in a cage in a pet store when Penny, a young girl, picks him out of the batch. She adores her new puppy. Her father, a scientist, applies his knowledge to the dog to create a superdog whose job is to protect Penny from the evil Green-Eyed man and his henchmen.

It's a story within a story where Penny and Bolt and the rest are actors for an action TV series except for one thing. Bolt doesn't know he's a character on a TV show. To stay in character, the production is designed so he doesn't know what is truly happening. He thinks he has a superbark. He thinks he has laser visions and can cut metal with it. He thinks he can ram a speeding car and stop it dead. He believes it because the production team makes him believe it.

That's the setup and it was a fun setup because it's filled with animated action as if Ridley Scott was helming Black Hawk Down.

The story takes flight when he accidentally is shipped off to NYC and no longer has Penny or anyone around him. He's a lost soul.

Once he realizes he's not where he's supposed to be, his mission is to return to LA because he feels it's his duty to protect penny.

Along the way he meets a cynical alley cat who knows he's not a superdog, but anything she says goes right in and comes right out.

The third person of this trio is Rhino the hamster. He's a big fan of the TV show, dimwitted and doesn't understand Bolt can't do the things in real life that he does on the show. He believes Bolt is a superdog.

This dichotomy between what he can and can't do and what the three believe about it creates some of the humour in the film. The story on folds in such a way that the cat was right all along, the hamster is right all along, but the dog realizes he just another dog.

They journey west to LA and the film becomes a road trip where they search for food, get captured by the pound and other such things. They are a team because Bolt forces the cat to come along and the hamster is such a fan he would do anything for Bolt.

Eventually the cat leaves when the two have a fight. The fight is about accepting who you are. She thinks it isn't bad for a dog to be an ordinary dog. Nor does she understand the need for him to get back to Penny. Act II is over.

Bolt and Rhino make it to LA and to the studio where he used to live, but to his dismay he finds Penny loves this new dog that looks just like him. The replacement Bolt. He's dejected. Maybe that's the end of Act II. Could be.

But all is not lost. She was acting when she said those word to the new Bolt. Plus when it's time for thge new Bolt to be the hero in a production, he whimpers away and can't do it. It gets worse for the production. An accident results in a fire. Here comes the big climax. The fire rages out of control. Penny is caught inside a burning building, but Bolt comes to save the day. He's a hero protecting Penny after all and he didn't have any superpowers to do so.

Like so many animation movies, this one is fun and enjoyable. I didn't cringe once.

Posted 2009/05/28 at 19h06ET in Movie Commentary.

Weights (6.0025)

...a full weights day...

I

love the fact I can do a full weights workout and not be bothered and troubled with breathing problems. The allergy symptoms are pretty much gone.

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 9 sets with 3KG medicine ball.

Bicep Curls on Swiss Ball: 7kg x 25 reps x 9 sets

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

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

Squats: 10 reps x 6 sets.

Posted 2009/05/27 at 20h54ET in Exercise.

Mamma Mia! (2008)

Mamma Mia!. Feature film. (2008, 108 mins) IMDB

...I love the colours of the Greek Islands...

I

have to admit when I heard the first song of this musical playing, I cringed and pressed fast forward. I hadn't heard it before and I didn't want to. That wasn't the case with the songs that followed. They were oh so familiar and having lived in Sweden, I know it dangerous to attack ABBA--the songwriters for the music.

Since it's a musical, it must be about love story and I suppose that's the case. A young woman is getting married to a young man on a Greek island. She lives there with her mother who runs a beat-up vacation hotel. Not much of a story so far until you realize, the mother had flings with three different men some twenty-one years ago and either one these men could be the father. No one knows the entire secret.

The daughter secretly invites the three men to her wedding in the hopes of finding out who her father really is. The problem is there is no easy answer to this question.

The surprise in Act III is the daughter and groom call off the wedding in the church just seconds before the I DO part. This gives bachelor number one the courage to propose to the mother and there's a wedding after all.

The singing by non-singers is hit and miss.

The story is barely interesting.

The music is catchy and drives any interest in watching, but the backdrop of Greek islands doesn't hurt. I'm always fascinated and entranced by the blues in Greek islands. It's in the water. It's in the paint on the walls and in the tiles. I don't know what it is exactly about it, but I love it.

Why was Julie Waters in this film? That's odd casting.

Posted 2009/05/27 at 20h54ET in Movie Commentary.

Frost/Nixon (2008)

Frost/Nixon. Feature film. (2008, 122 mins) IMDB

...thankfully a 70s-period movie with no avocado appliances...

D

isgraced president Nixon lives in seclusion in his West Coast mansion. It's the period after his resignation. Ford pardoned him but he continues to deny any wrongdoing. He wants to be in the action, making the calls and asked his opinion.

David Frost, a cad, interviews pop stars and magicians. He's a performer, not a serious journalist. When he sees the worldwide broadcast of Nixon's resignation speech, he sees big numbers and gets an idea. Interview Nixon.

He's a schemer and dreamer. His TV producer won't back him, his TV broadcaster won't back him but he won't give up.

He negotiates a deal to interview Nixon for the incredible sum of $600,000. It's money he doesn't have, but that's only part of the total cost. The sum total of the investment is over $2 million. Hugh dollars for a series of interviews in 1977.

I was surprised by the number of people involved in these interviews. Each side had researchers and aides to assist in developing questions and answers. There were all sorts of technical people from lighting, camera, sound and so on.

When Frost tries to sell the interviews to the networks, they won't bite. They don't do pay for news journalism and if they did, Frost would be the last person they'd want interviewing Nixon.

He doesn't have much luck selling advertisers on the concept. He wants to syndicate the interviews himself. Get the advertising dollars and thereby buy time on network television. He never questions whether he can do it, he just assumes he will.

As the story unfolds, Frost gets deeper and deeper into it. No money. No prospects of selling it. No respect and finally no hope of pulling it off. (Sounds like the end of Act III).

The actual interviews between the two take up large chunks of the last half of the movie. Nixon is a pro at this game and Frost is out of his league. It appears Nixon is going to walk away from these interviews untouched, but as we know that doesn't happen.

If the film were merely about the interviews, it wouldn't have been much of a movie because we know the outcome of them. It's the story behind the interviews that makes this film interesting even if we don't like a cad like Frost. Yes, he's charming and charismatic, but he's also superficial and narcissistic. Because we don't care a great deal about him, it lessens the impact of his triumph in getting Nixon to admit he was involved in the cover-up, carried out illegal activities, and let people down.

The film includes aspects of Nixon that seem like revelations but are well known. Nixon was a cerebral man who wanted to be liked and didn't care much about people. As he says, it's an odd choice for him to become a politician and defies logic as to why he did and how he succeeded to achieve the highest political office in the US. Perseverance was certainly one quality he needed, because he lost as many times as he won.

I wish the seventies hadn't existed so I could avoid looking at the fashion and designs of that period. Absolutely horrendous and hideous.

In the film, the two sides say there can only be one winner from these interviews, but it seems they both benefited. Frost gained financially, in professional stature and became famous around the world. He created a new career he wouldn't otherwise have achieved. In fact without the Nixon interviews, someone like me wouldn't know who he is.

Nixon gained as well. By confessing, he eased his guilt, it appears he suffered from it, but more importantly, it allowed him to move past the same questions. Interviewers would have to come up with something new and in doing so it helped diffuse the tension.

Posted 2009/05/27 at 20h54ET in Movie Commentary.

Cardio (6.0017)

...cardio day with stomach crunches...

T

hank you, thank you, thank you. I was able to do a full thirty minutes on the elliptical machine without feeling I was going to die from a lack of oxygen. Relief from the allergies. I haven't reached total relief, but it's a big, big improvement.

I had time and followed-up my cardio with stomach crunches and bicep curls. Since I don't use heavy weights, it's possible to do them everyday.

Stomach Crunches on Swiss Ball: 30 reps x 6 sets with 3KG medicine ball.

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

Posted 2009/05/26 at 19h43ET in Exercise.

The Eye (2008)

The Eye. Feature film. (2008, 98 mins) IMDB

...at there was an plausible explanation for what happens...

A

young woman lives a normal life as a blind person. She has an operation where she receives donor eyes. The operation is a success as far as the doctors are concerned, but to her it becomes a nightmare. Not only can she see the world near as a sighted person, but she begins to see ghosts and the grim reaper and fire and smoke. She's living in a hell. It appears real to her and maybe it is real.

THE EYE is not my kind of film. I'm not into horror films, not into films about the paranormal or supernatural. I was intrigued by the concept and decided to give it a try. It's far too bizarre for my liking. It just doesn't make any sense to me. I don't get it and never will. I suppose you have to believe in events that can never possibly happen and that's impossible for me to do.

Part of Act II is the battle with her medical advisor. She tells him what she's seeing and he tells her her eyes are fine and what she is seeing isn't real.

The question I want answered from this film is the explanation and resolution. We know this battle can't continue. She'll die. She'll have the eyes removed. Something will happen that will stop what is happening to her. It has to stop.

She realizes she needs to find out who her donor was. If she can find that out, she can find out what haunts the donor and achieve some sort of resolution. Of course, the name of the donor is confidential.

There is an explanation for what happens. Cell tissues retain certain memories and occasionally these memories live on in the recipient. Plausible to a degree like muscle memory, but this film pushes it too far.

That doesn't explain why she can see ghosts and the grim reaper and other images that seem to have nothing to do with the donor. That's the licence the filmmakers took in making this film. (I'm writing this as the film plays. There are too many scenes where nothing happens from my point of view.)

The explanation? The donor, a poor Mexican girl living in Mexico with her mother, has a special gift. She can see death before it happens. When she tries to sound the alarm bell, people don't believe her, in fact, it's worse, they believe she's an evil spirit who brought the death. Tormented, she hanged herself and the eyes with the vision were transplanted into our hero. (Note: Men are hanged, pictures are hung. I see and hear this mistake all the time even by professional writers!)

It's during the third act when our hero makes a trip to Mexico to find out this truth, but it doesn't end. Our hero and doctor friend travel by car back to the US. There is a long line up of cars waiting to cross the border. She has a vision of pending death. An oil tanker will explode and if she doesn't convince people to leave their vehicles there will be many deaths.

Frantically she says there is a bomb on a bus and people run away just as a speeding car comes and smashes into the oil tanker. There is the requisite, large, fiery explosion. She saves a little girl and her eyes are damaged from flying glass. (Note: since the glass is safety glass in a vehicle, it wouldn't happen, but oh well.) And as expected, she loses her vision and thus all the torment that came with the transplant. End of story.

The climax was farfetched and not believable on so many levels, but that's filmmaking Hollywood style. Don't let the truth get in the way of a good story.

A final note. During the second act, our hero looks at herself in the mirror. It looks like she's seeing her reflection but it isn't. It's the dead girl she is seeing. This isn't obvious because the two actors are nearly identical in looks. The lead actor, I don't know her, doesn't stand out with her looks, nothing distinctive--just another dark-haired woman...

Posted 2009/05/26 at 19h43ET in Movie Commentary.

Swing Vote (2008)

Swing Vote. Feature film. (2008, 120 mins) IMDB

...a silly that is mildly enjoyable but you won't want to see it a second time...

S

WING VOTE takes an impossible plot situation and pokes fun at the US presidential election.

Costner plays a single dad who is completely irresponsible. Lives in a trailer. Drinks too much. Can't keep a low-paying job. If it wasn't for his daughter who plays the parent, he'd probably be in jail or dead. He simply wants to have a good time and doesn't care about tomorrow and he certainly doesn't care about anything going on beyond him including the presidential election. If you asked him the names of the candidates, he wouldn't know.

Now the unlikely plot. He's not registered to vote because he fears jury duty and besides he believes his vote doesn't count. His daughter registered him to vote. She's the responsible one; she's interested in politics and making a difference; she's the one pushing her father.

On election day, they agree he'll pick her up from school and he'll go to the polling booth to vote. During the day, he loses his job at an egg-processing plant. Later he goes to a bar to drink himself silly. He forgets to vote. The young daughter knowing he's a no show, manages to sneak a ballot into the booth but there's a power failure and his vote isn't cast properly. Enter the bizarre world that follows.

The votes are cast and counted. It's tie. Since his vote wasn't properly cast, he's allowed to recast his vote and this time it will matter. This time his one vote will determine who will be the president. It's not even remotely likely to happen, but you can't have a hundred people as your hero, you have to focus on one character and in this instance, it's the unlikeliest voter possible.

When news breaks, reporters from all over land on his front dirt wanting to know how he'll vote. The candidates arrive wanting to know how to influence his decision. Over night this trailer guy becomes big news, famous and he likes it. He likes the attention and he couldn't care less who he'll vote for. This upset his daughter who thinks he should take it seriously. That's the character arc. By the end of the movie, he's learnt the pain of others, understood the issues, becomes involved in a vote based on information and reason.

The candidates bend over backwards to appease Bud. When he says he may be in favour of gay marriage, the republicans put out an ad in favour of it. The democrats aren't spared. They put out an ad in favour of anti-abortion.

The film ends with our hero casting the crucial vote. I fully expected we'd get resolution on the vote, but it ends with him closing the curtain to vote. We don't know how he voted. I was surprised they did it that way, but thinking about it, it makes the most sense. It didn't matter who he voted for because we have no rooting in either candidate. They flip-flop all over that issues are muddy to the point they are the same. Besides the point of the film was each vote counts so get informed and vote. In the process of sending this message, create a lot of laughs and there are a few.

The father and daughter combination of actors was believable, rather endearing and interesting.

Posted 2009/05/26 at 19h43ET in Movie Commentary.

Weights (6.0008)

...full weights workout...

S

omehow I managed to miss getting to the gym four of the previous eight days. There's two Sundays in there where I decided to take a day off to rest. There was a Holiday Monday where I managed to miss getting to the gym and on the last Wednesday I had a board meeting to attend and prep for and didn't get in to the gym before hand and it was too late and too nice an evening to go in the evening afterwards. That's four days in total. I have done that since last summer when I was injured and could barely walk.

My long-term average is still over six days a week and my average for 2009 is well over that average. I still get in a lot more exercise than most people.

Since it was a Monday, that means a weights day so I can get three weights days in during the week. No holding back today and no problems breathing. The allergy symptoms have eased away--thankfully.

As I walked around before going to the gym I felt tightness and soreness in my thighs and hamstring. I'm sure it was from doing leg exercises on Saturday and the fact I had gotten away from doing them. The key to doing leg lunges and leg squats is to do them regularly--several times a week. The more days between these exercises and your leg muscles forget they know how to do them and since they are such an intense exercise, the result can be painful.

Bench 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 9 sets with 3KG medicine ball.

Bicep Curls on Swiss Ball: 7kg x 25 reps x 9 sets

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

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

Squats: 10 reps x 6 sets.

Posted 2009/05/25 at 20h07ET in Exercise.

Prime (2005)

Prime. Feature film. (2005, 105 mins) IMDB

...enough with Jewish characters in movies...

S

he's a Jewish mother and a therapist.

Her patient is a successful career woman in NYC, 37, and definitely not Jewish.

Then there's the 23 year old son who is finding his way.

The son and love interest meet. They hit it off. The problem is the three haven't put it together. The mother hears her patient tell about her son not knowing it's him. The patient doesn't know her therapist is her lover's mother. This coincidence continues until the therapist realizes it has to be her son she's been talking about and eventually they all know what is going on.

The film has the usual boy meets girl, they split back together and split again and the last time for good. That's not the happy ending of a romantic comedy we want to see.

The film is really an excuse to have all this Jewish non-sense and for the patient to say things to the mother that seem funny when we know one thing and they don't. That part is milked too long.

Of course it isn't realistic for a 37 year old woman to stay attached to a 23 year old guy. The later is still a child.

Posted 2009/05/25 at 20h07ET in Movie Commentary.

Blindness (2008)

Blindness. Feature film. (2008, 121 mins) IMDB

...adapting a novel is never easy...

A

simple premise: what if an entire population of a city all went blind? It formed the basis for a novel by a Portuguese writer, who won the Nobel Prize for Literature, and eventually this film.

I haven't read the novel but the film has inspired me to do so in part because the film, despite lots of talented people involved in the production, is a failure. Adapting a novel is never easy and sometimes impossible. I want to understand why the novel is a success and the film a failure. Why the break? There's no answer unless I read the novel.

The film takes place in non-descript large city in a non-descript country. It was purposely meant to be non-descript.

A young man sits in the driver seat of his car waiting for the red light to turn green when in a flash he goes blind. Stuck, a stranger offers to drive him home and does and promptly steals his car.

The blindness isn't typical blackness, but a bright white light. The young man visits an eye doctor and learns there's no logical explanation for the sudden blindness.

From this man, the blindness spreads. The thief goes blind, the doctor goes blind. One by one, like a virus spreading from human to human, people suddenly lose their vision except for the doctor's wife.

The cause of the blindness is never explained, the reason it spreads is never explained. These things just happen. We're into a fantasy world.

Panic ensues. Governments and people panic.

The government decides to take the first victims to a hospital for quarantine, it doesn't work as the entire population goes blind.

Act II revolves around this group of people in the hospital. It's not a typical hospital. They are prisoners with no caregivers. Soldiers guard the perimeter of the building to keep them in. Some are shot. Food is frozen dinners and packaged meals.

The people are separated into three group on different wards. Each group has a leader. The way it's set up is like three nations and when food becomes scarce, the fighting and power struggle begins.

What is shown in the last half of the second act is barbarism at its worse. Filth. Attacks. Abuse. Rape. Violence. The place is run amok.

In one final battle, the "good" group fights back and kills the "bad" group. Normally such a sequence would be satisfying to watch, but not in this instance. I wonder if it's because there were too many characters. There is no central protagonist we root for.

When the battle is over, the good group realizes the guards have left and they can leave the hospital and do. They are lead by the wife who can see. Rather convenient don't you think? The streets are littered with abandoned car, garbage, corpses. It reminded me of images of New Orleans during Katrina. A pack of dogs tore at one corpse but we were saved gruesome details.

In Act III, the group makes their way to the doctor's home and scavenge for food. They make it. They arrive together. They find food and start to live a new existence in this house until, by magic, the first person who went blind regains his vision. With time, the rest would regain their vision.

The story tries to paint a picture about human nature, fundamental human nature. In one group people come together despite their language, background, race etc. In another group, terror and violence are used to control others. I don't think we're surprised by any of it.

I think one of the fundamental problems with the film is the lack of a central character. We see numerous characters and often not enough to get to know them.

Posted 2009/05/21 at 20h24ET in Movie Commentary.

Exercise (6.0085)

...oh what's with these allergies...

F

or the last two weeks I've been battling allergies. The symptoms are familiar. When they wouldn't go away and seemed to get worse, I decided to buy some medication to treat the problem. It worked except for my breathing. The tablets aren't designed for that. Yesterday I was on the elliptical machine with great difficulty breathing. It was arduous. My pace was slow and I thought about stopping over and over again. Today was a slight improvement, but even doing my weights routine was a struggle. Breathing is obviously crucial to an effective workout. I got in two rotations instead of three and didn't bother with leg squats or lunges.

Bench Press: 11kg x 25 reps x 2 sets

Inclined Bench Press: 11kg x 25 reps x 2 sets

Stomach Crunches on Swiss Ball: 30 reps x 4 sets with 3KG medicine ball.

Bicep Curls: 7kg x 25 reps x 4 sets

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

Posted 2009/05/20 at 19h18ET in Exercise.

My Blueberry Nights (2007)

My Blueberry Nights. Feature film. (2007, 93 mins) IMDB

...sometimes singers break through as actors, sometimes...

I

t's a road movie. It's a love story for several characters. It's about life.

Jude Law runs a café in NYC. There's coffee and cakes and pork chops. There's also Norah Jones harassing him in her search for some man who may or may not have been at the café. He's rather obliging with his time with her perhaps because he's got a hard on for her.

The opening third of the movie deals with these two characters in his café. She's searching for someone and he's obliging until she gives up on the search and the relationship goes to another level. It's where we learn it's NIGHTS because she has trouble sleeping and BLUEBERRY because at the end of the day, blueberry pie is about all that is left in the café. In fact it's a metaphor on life. People buy the cheese cake and chocolate cake but not the blueberry pie. He serves her a piece of blueberry pie with ice cream.

From there, for reasons I'm not certain about, she leaves NYC and ends up in Memphis where she works a dinner during the day and a bar during the evening. She doesn't get much sleep because she can't although it's never explained why. I can guess, but the love answer doesn't mean sleepless nights. At least not in my experience.

During her stay in Memphis, she befriends a cop who during the day is sober and respectable but during the evening he is drunk and belligerent. He's screwed up because he wife left him for another man--a man he beats the shit out of. There's never anything sexual between our drunk cop and insomniac waitress, it's strictly a friendly understanding where she does more of the understanding. When the cop realizes he's never getting his wife back, he smashes up his car and dies in the process. Onto the next location.

She's moving west and works in a casino where she meets Natalie Portman who plays a poker player with one of those southern accents and southern attitudes. She's cocky and loud and manages to lose in this one game. She befriends our hero to stake her to another game. She loses again. Maybe. Somehow this leads to a long road trip to Las Vegas where Portman will see her dying father. I thought they were in Las Vegas!

Portman's performance is subtle and entirely believable. It made me wonder why she played the stiff character in Star Wars.

The relationship between the two women revolves around getting money and paying it back, but ever the con, she never lost the money in the last hand and well conned Jones into coming along so she wouldn't have to face her dying father.

With this episode of the story over, Jones returns to NYC and the café and Jude Law where they seem to be a couple.

There are far too many US iconic images in this film for my liking. Jones is obsessed with buying a car. Why do they have this obsession with buying a car?

How can such a small film cost $10 million to produce? I don't get that. Was nine point five million above the line?

Why have a non-actor in the key role of the film? Did the actors involved wonder the same thing until they saw the pay stub and thought about other things?

Jones isn't an actor and it showed in this film. She had no range. None. The four professional actors she played against were just that--professional. Imagine these four as NHL players and Jones who isn't. They could skate up and down the ice with grace and ease and handle the puck while Jones fell forward and backwards and was never sure what a puck looked like.

Posted 2009/05/20 at 19h14ET in Movie Commentary.

Weights (6.0170)

...not a swim day...

I

had planned to do some weights followed by a swim. I did the weights but didn't want to go swimming. Not sure why, just the way I felt today. Should I mention stretching as well. I haven't been doing that in my web postings but every time I do weights, I do stretching and sometimes when I do cardio.

Stomach Crunches on Swiss Ball: 30 reps x 6 sets with 3KG medicine ball.

Because the 2KG ball was being used and the 1KG was too light, I used the 3KG. I may use it going forward. It's not too heavy or too large like the 5KG.

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

Posted 2009/05/16 at 20h10ET in Exercise.

Mission: Impossible III (2006)

Mission: Impossible III. Feature film. (2006, 120 mins) IMDB

...action-packed action film--no surprise there...

T

he best part of the Mission: Impossible franchise is the theme song but you don't need to see the film to enjoy the music.

M:I 3 is an action film structured just for that--to give people lots and lots of action. I suppose you could say it delivers on it except after a while, the film becomes a blur of action and you probably want something more, something different.

I'd describe the plot but there'd be no point to it. It's simply a device to create big action set-pieces and the film does that. The film includes a MacGuffin called the rabbit's foot. Both sides want it and as a result it creates conflict between the two sides. It's a MacGuffin because it drives the plot but we never learn what it is or what importance it has because it doesn't matter. It's a plot device.

In a number of movies we've seen characters put on elaborate make-up etc to look exactly like someone else. This film uses this gimmick. There's a point where character A is A then through magic A is B but then the another switch is made and B is B when it's supposed to A as B. Do you follow? Of course. This technique is used twice in the film and in both instances it's completely unbelievable. Would a husband not recognize his wife? I thought so.

What's interesting is that Cruise performs a number of the stunts in this film and that works well for the film because the usual cutting between actor, stuntman and back to actor is avoided.

There is a great deal of blue screen and CGI in the film however, it's kept to a minimal and in the background as a result the film doesn't seem like a video game and that's a good thing because far too many action movies of late feel like nothing more than a video game.

Give me James Bond any day of the week.

Posted 2009/05/16 at 20h10ET in Movie Commentary.

Weights (6.0162)

...a solid weights workout...

I

felt good today. First day with medication to help with the allergy symptoms. It seems to be working.

Because I had a bit of extra time, I did one extra set of the stomach crunches and bicep curls.

A few years ago I had an accident where my left leg had to be surgically reconstructed. The result was an inability to use it for many weeks and during that time the muscle weakened. To this day, there is a difference in the size of my muscles on my left leg and right. I'm thinking I should go more leg exercises just on the left and see how long it takes to get to the same size. (Assuming that's possible).

Stomach Crunches on Swiss Ball: 30 reps x 7 sets with 2KG medicine ball.

Bicep Curls on Swiss Ball: 7kg x 25 reps x 7 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 2009/05/15 at 16h48ET in Exercise.

Factotum (2005)

Factotum. Feature film. (2005, 94 mins) IMDB

...a slice of life movie free of plot complications...

I

decided to read a brief bio on the author whose novel serves as the basis for this film. In it, the bio claimed the author disliked plot but provided no reasons for his predilection. In watching this film I can see the filmmakers took it to heart in crafting this film because there isn't much of a plot. We meet a writer living his life and he lives it some more and by the end of the film he's still living his life the same way he had at the beginning. Not much of a plot but instead a slice of life.

Matt Dillon plays a writer living in a seedy part of a small mid-west city. He hasn't earned a dime from his writing but he keeps at it just as he keeps at drinking, smoking, losing jobs as quickly as he gets them and screwing women.

Everything he owns seems to fit easily into a black carry-on bag. When he's kicked out of his apartment for lack of funds, he hooks up with a woman who admires him, adores him. He stays there as long as he can tolerate it and moves on to another woman and repeats the process.

This writer lives a bleak existence with few signs of improving his lot. He likes to drink and to excess. When he wakes up one morning with a hangover, his first action is to open a bottle of beer and drink it.

I was intrigued by the plot summary I read before I watched it and what the story may tell, but once it become clear not much changes in this story I found I lost interest. The film becomes repetitive. In that respect, it's true to life, but true to life doesn't always make for an interesting story. We pretty much live our lives on a loop. Little changes even if we're convinced that's not the case. The best stories usually show a character overcoming odds to change his behaviour. The result may not be realistic, but it's hopeful and usually more interesting because we like to see change as long as we don't have to go through it.

Posted 2009/05/15 at 16h48ET in Movie Commentary.

Home Alone 2: Lost in New York (1992)

Home Alone 2. Feature film. (1992, 120 mins) IMDB

...sequels never live up to the first--here's an example...

D

umb for the holiday. Dumb for the masses.

A predictable sequel with a great number of slow, boring sequences. The best sequence happens when the little bugger lures the two criminals into a brownstone under renovation. He's set all sorts of traps and the result is pratfalls and sight gags that are amusing. That was the movie for me--one reel. The rest is entirely forgettable and lame.

Consider this scene. The little bugger is in Central Park where he becomes friendly with the pigeon lady. She appears to be an ogre and doesn't talk to anyone. He manages to get her to talk, to open up and explain her heart was broken and she doesn't want to go through that again. We then get to hear him give her life advice which she buys into it without hesitation. Please. How pathetic. How simplistic. How terrible.

If you've seen the first one you don't need to see the second. Not even for children.

Posted 2009/05/14 at 19h56ET in Movie Commentary.

Cardio (6.0153)

...another day of relief...

A

fter going through what I did on Monday and Tuesday, it was a great relief to be able to get on the elliptical machine for 30 minutes and not have trouble breathing and hence be able to complete the workout and feel good about it when it was over.

I hate allergies and don't understand how I got them as an adult but never had a problem with them when I was young.

Posted 2009/05/14 at 19h56ET in Exercise.

Bedtime Stories (2008)

Bedtime Stories. Feature film. (2008, 99 mins) IMDB

...a tame comedy that results in few laughs...

T

here's the young Adam Sandler as a boy living with his sister in a small hotel in LA. His father owns and operates it. Sandler helps out. The dream of father and son is for the son to take over some day except there's a problem. The father isn't a very good manager and the place isn't making enough money. Enter the villain to buy it off him. The villain being a Mr. Hilton type who is able to turn lead into gold.

Fast forward twenty years or so. The hotel is a large, thriving business, but for Sandler, instead of owning it or even managing it, he's the custodian who repairs broken dishwashers and replaces burnt-out light bulbs. The promise by the villain to put him in charge was either forgotten or ignored.

Enter his estranged sister. She's a health freak with two young children. The father left a long time ago. Part of the humour for the film comes from the extreme discipline the mother places on her children. The brother tries to mess with it by allowing them to eat foods with fat or sugar and to watch TV. He's involved with the children because the mother is away for a week and he gets to baby-sit in the evening while a love interest manages the kids during the day.

To add juice to the story, Sandler makes up bedtime stories for the kids. He discovers the kids are better story tellers. It reminded me of THE PRINCESS BRIDE because what is told happens on screen. Further, he discovers that whatever the kids make up in the story comes true later in his real life and he tries to direct them into saying things he wants like getting the girl and taking over as manager and that's what happens.

Since there's a love story embedded into this fantasy, there's a second woman to complete the triangle. She's a Paris Hilton type and it fits because we're dealing with the hotel business.

The film is mildly entertaining and mildly humourous but nothing special. Despite the title, I doubt kids would get it, let alone enjoy it, but I could be wrong.

Given the premise they had to work with, the film could have been so much better.

The character I enjoyed the best was a guinea pig with bugling eyes all thanks to CGI.

Why have actors with British accents as the villains in this film? It's become so common as to be a cliché. It didn't make sense in this film but it's typical.

Finally, in one story we're told it takes place in Ancient Greece but the visuals show us Romans etc. How could that mistake be mad?

Posted 2009/05/14 at 19h54ET in Movie Commentary.

Weights (6.0145)

...relief at last...

M

y workouts on Monday and Tuesday were two of the worst, toughest ones I've ever had. I've been fighting allergies with all the usual symptoms plus difficulty breathing. It made it extremely difficult to workout and perhaps I shouldn't have. Today things turned around and was back to normal. No troubles breathing and hence it didn't limit my ability to exercise.

A full weights workout.

Bench 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: 9kg x 15 reps x 6 sets

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

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

Squats: 10 reps x 6 sets.

Posted 2009/05/13 at 19h54ET in Exercise.

Constantine (2005)

Constantine. Feature film. (2005, 121 mins) IMDB

...the fantasy world of hell...

F

rom what I've read, I may have been one of the few people who enjoyed this movie. It happens. What's even more surprising is the fact the film deals with the supernatural, with fantasy, and I was able to suspend my disbelief and follow what was being told.

The film is after all a fantasy. There is no heaven and there is no hell. We see hell in this film plus the devil and his son. We see angels (or are they fallen angels), but not heaven. Then there is something called half-breads. They seem to be humans who are possessed with an evil spirit of sorts. I can't explain it beyond that.

Then there is John Constantine (Reeves). As a boy something happened to him and he realized he possessed a special power--the power to see hell and hell on earth or these forces that come from hell. He also tried to commit suicide but he survived and lives with the knowledge that when he dies, he'll go directly to hell. What happened to repenting and forgiveness? He's trying to avoid a permanent trip to hell by doing good deeds on earth. He figures if he gets rid of enough evil spirits, he'll be in the good books and get to go to heaven and as the story starts he learns his time on earth won't last much longer. He's dying of lung cancer.

While watching this film, it got me thinking about hell and I remember an incident grilling lamb chops. They were French cut and I placed them on a very hot grill. I managed to leave them on the grill far too long. The result was the exposed bone burnt to dust. I have never before or since had that happen or seen it happen or hear of it happening. I was surprised. I had cremated the bone. I mention this because I've been told hell is a hot place and if you go there you'll suffer eternal pain from this heat. I don't get it. How can you suffer pain if your body is on earth? If you body goes to hell then at some point it will burn up so how can it be eternal? I don't have the answers to these questions. I'm curious to hear people's answer. Remember, there is no hell so it's all fantasy and academic, but it's interesting.

Back to the film.

Constantine is on a crusade to stop the evil-from-hell forces on earth, but there's more. There's twin sisters. One is a cop. The other a nut-case who committed suicide or so the evidence suggests. Since suicide is a mortal since, she goes straight to hell and can't have a religious burial. The surviving twin knows her sister wouldn't kill herself and enlists Constantine to find evidence in the afterlife to prove her case. He's not too interested but he gets involved and even more involved when he realizes the son the devil is plotting to reincarnate himself on earth etc. and so on.

As you can imagine, the devil and his son loses. Our hero triumphs and gets the girl.

Maybe because I don't watch many fantasy films or read the genre, and therefore not familiar with the norms, I can't be negative about what takes place. I will say I was caught up in this story and found it interesting with a few philosophical sidebars along the way to distract me.

Posted 2009/05/13 at 19h42ET in Movie Commentary.

Cardio (6.0137)

...one of the toughest workouts...

I

've been battling allergies. The symptoms include difficulty breathing and it greatly affected my exercise today just as it had yesterday.

It was a cardio day and I planned to do 30 minutes on the elliptical machine and that's what I did, but it was tough. My breathing was laboured. I had to slow my pace and on several times I thought about stopping but kept going.

I'm not sure if I did the right thing, but I'd probably have to pass out to stop. There moments when I thought that might happen.

If that wasn't enough, I did stomach crunches and bicep curls afterwards.

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

Bicep Curls on Swiss Ball: 9kg x 15 reps x 6 sets

I decided to increase the weight for the bicep curls because 7kg seemed too easy but as I always do I lower the reps until I get used to the increased weight. It's my way of avoiding injury.

Posted 2009/05/12 at 19h42ET in Exercise.

Slumdog Millionaire (2008)

Slumdog Millionaire. Feature film. (2008, 120 mins) IMDB

...tough to critique after all the hype...

E

arlier this year, before the Oscar announcements, someone I know at the gym asked me if I had seen SLUMDOG. "No," was my reply.

"What are you waiting for?"

"When it comes out on DVD."

"Oh, man. You've got to see it now."

This dance of questions and answers continued day after day and I started to call him slumdog. If he wasn't from Mumbai he wouldn't have bothered to ask me and boast about it. It got worse when the Oscars happened and the film picked up a bunch of awards. I didn't watch the show so I'm not sure what it won, but I think it was the top-dog, not slumdog.

In other years, the producers and distributors would have used the Oscar buzz to put butt into seats at theatres. That's what they want, but this year they took a different course. While it was still in theatres and not long after the Oscars, they released the film on DVD. Go figure.

The time between a film's theatrical release date and DVD release has gotten shorter and shorter. I think I know why. Marketing. So much money goes into marketing a film, getting you and me to know something about a film, they get a double up effect in that people remember it by the time the DVD comes out. Or, in this film's case, they know about the buzz from all the free publicity. Remember, the Oscars is all about selling and promoting and marketing films. It's not about who is the best performer, the best writer or the best film. It's about getting your attention so you'll go to the theatre and buy a DVD.

Back to the guy from the gym who bugged me about the film. Because of all the hype, I read some summaries to find out what the film was about. I learnt it's about this boy who grew up in the slums of Mumbai, got on a game show where he won big-time so much so everybody thinks he had to have cheated. I asked him, how does an uneducated boy know enough to answer the questions and win the contest? He wouldn't tell me.

"You'll have to see the movie to find out."

Since I've seen the movie, I have the answer to my question. He didn't cheat. He was simply fortunate enough to get questions for which he knew the answer or if he didn't know, he guessed correctly.

The film is structured with flashbacks. The young man is in a dingy prison where a beefy guard tortures him about how he knew the answers. He won't talk. Enter the captain of the guards and more torture. Again no answers, but eventually he begins to answer. Enter the first flashback to the show where the host introduces our hero as a guest. Then the first question which leads to another flashback into the life of the man as young boy. It's during these flashbacks we learn about him, see his struggles and understand why he knew the answer.

This structure continues as the boy loses his mother, grows up, moves around etc. until he's grown-up, living in Mumbai and working at a call centre where he serves tea. He's mocked by the game-show host for being such a lowly person.

While we follow this struggle to live, to survive, we follow his interest in a girl he met as a boy. There's a love story to go along with the quest to win the money.

The climax happens in two spots. There's the contest. Tension is built around the final answer. Did he get it right and win the big prize? The build up to this moment works, but the bigger build up is the reuniting of our hero and the love interest. For all the right reasons, they come together in a moment that says: love and people are what matter, not the wealth from winning a contest. This message is echoed in a sub-plot involving his brother who ends up with gangs in search of hedonistic gain and eventually his death.

It's a typical message from Hollywood (although this isn't a Hollywood film).

My question is why does Hollywood send the message of love over money when all the people involved in making these films spend their time doing the opposite, and seemingly, live luxurious but miserable lives?

Posted 2009/05/12 at 19h42ET in Movie Commentary.

Weights (6.0128)

...almost a full weights workout...

T

oday was one of the toughest workouts I've had and I realized a few things. I realized I was having trouble breathing because of allergies. The kind of trouble where it's difficult to breathe which means I'm not getting enough oxygen. A lack of oxygen means I feel lethargic and my body doesn't heal as quickly after workouts. That explains why I've been the way I've felt the past few days. Then today, it was a struggle to do the workouts. I probably shouldn't even has tried. My breathing was laboured. I took longer rests between sets just to suck air. Normally I'd do three rotations, but cut it to two. I'm amazed I got through two.

Bench Press: 11kg x 25 reps x 2 sets

Inclined Bench Press: 11kg x 25 reps x 2 sets

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

Bicep Curls: 7kg x 25 reps x 4 sets

Tricep Presses on bench: 14kg x 25 reps x 2 sets.

Leg Lunges: 10 reps x 4 sets - Left/Right

Squats: 10 reps x 4 sets.

Posted 2009/05/11 at 20h31ET in Exercise.

Bottle Shock (2008)

Bottle Shock. Feature film. (2008, 110 mins) IMDB

...a year of change...

T

here was a time when Californian wines were considered worthless. Swill to be drunk by the masses not enjoyed by connoisseurs. That changed in 1976 and the world hasn't been the same since.

The film follows the life of a bunch of characters on the Chateau Montelena vineyard in Napa and their pursuit to make the best wine possible. It also follows a Englishman who runs a wine shop in Paris. He visits Napa to collect wine for a blind tasting in France. To everyone's surprise, the Californian wines placed first. The rest is history.

When the film was over, I discovered this was a biographical film.

I found the film mildly interesting. The most interesting performance is Alan Rickman's. He speaks in a way that always demands attention except when he speaks French. It was painful to hear him speak in French.

Otherwise the film is mostly melodramatics and predictable.

Posted 2009/05/11 at 20h31ET in Movie Commentary.

Rambo (2008)

Rambo. Feature film. (2008, 92 mins) IMDB

...action films won't die, or John Rambo...

I

was surprised to see Stallone directed this film and surprised even further how effective it was. RAMBO is another action film, but there's a level of visuals and direction that hasn't been seen before (at least by me).

The film works on this principle: create some nasty baddies, so bad we want to see them harmed and stopped. With that in place, enter our hero to make it happen and smile as it happens. Pump a fist into the air in triumph. If you feel those moments, you'll probably like the film. I felt those moments in this film.

I can remember watching the film in the theatre that started it all way back when. FIRST BLOOD, based on a novel by David Morrell (we went to the same high school but at different times), changed the lexicon of the public. The word Rambo had meaning. That film was a big hit and I can remember details from watching it even though it's been 25 years. Some films are like that.

The story line for this edition of the franchise is straightforward. John Rambo lives a meek existence in Thailand. He owns a boat for travelling up and down the rivers. He catches cobras and other wild snakes for money.

Enter the inciting incident. A bunch of missionaries and health professionals want to hire him to take them and their supplies up the river to a spot in Burma. He doesn't want to do it and advises against it. Burma is a war zone. Don't go there. The sole woman in the group convinces him to do it and he ferries them north. There's an encounter with pirates along the way which he handles with deadly force. He takes them to a village and returns downstream.

The village is attacked by a gang of military thugs. Here are the ultimate baddies. They kill indiscriminately, they pillage, they rape. They aren't solders, they are merciless thugs. In the process of the attack, several of the visitors are killed, the rest are taken hostage and imprisoned.

There were scenes in this film that reminded me of APOCALYPSE NOW. A boat on a river. Danger lurking everywhere. Bamboo cages.

Rambo isn't anywhere near the attack and has no reason to get involved further. Enter a man who wants to hire him to ferry mercenaries up the river to rescue the people. Another step in the story.

The mercenaries don't know Rambo and don't respect him. They think he's a wimp. It helps to have a Brit play an arrogant asshole.

What follows is a great deal of violence as the team infiltrate the thug's compound, rescue the prisoners and make their escape. It's predictable but since we want to see certain people get theirs, we want to watch.

The level of violence in this film goes to new heights it seems to me. When a local steps on a land mine in a rice field, the explosion isn't simply a cloud of grey smoke. There's water and it's saturated red from the blood and flesh of the victim. A giant flash of red.

When someone is shot, blood spurts out. When Rambo fires a .50 cal on the soldiers, arms and legs are severed.

The level of realism is gruesome. I'm sure it will upset some people.

How were these effects created? Most likely with CGI. If that's the case, it's not obvious and cheap looking CGI and not over done.

Posted 2009/05/11 at 20h31ET in Movie Commentary.

Stay (2006)

Sleeping Dogs Lie. Feature film. (2006, 97 mins) IMDB

...it's hard to believe this film was made...

C

rude. Gross.

A young woman wonders if she should tell her fiancée the whole truth about her past. When in university, she, I can't believe this is part of a film, blew her dog. I thought I heard wrong. Nope. This past event plays the central role of the film and the central theme. Should you be totally honest with your lover? Yes or no. The film shows the not surprising negative aspects of her telling him. It tears the relationship apart. To complicate matters, he's not the only one to find out.

I like the theme: how honest should you be with your lover, but this test of the case goes too far and doesn't make the film a romantic comedy. Far from romantic and with crude humour.

The camera shots and look felt like a cheap porn film. Was it shot with video instead of film? It looks cheap.

Having said that, there were moments that were charming. It could have been such a better film.

Posted 2009/05/11 at 20h31ET in Movie Commentary.

Day off.

...A day off...

I

t wasn't planned this way, but it seemed like right thing to do.

I felt soreness in my knees today. I haven't felt that in several months, but it happens more frequently. It's an age thing I suspect.

Plus my thigh and gluts felt stiff and store.

It's because I was doing leg squats and leg lunges on Friday and haven't been doing them frequently.

So the prescription? Take the day off and rest my body. Not a bad idea.

Posted 2009/05/10 at 21h17ET in Exercise.

The Breakfast Club (1985)

The Breakfast Club. Feature film. (1985, 97 mins) IMDB

...I'm not sure why, but this film has a cult following, but not by me...

I

suppose if I had been born a few years later I would have been in high school when this film came out and might have known about it, but even then that's not entirely likely. It came out when I was in university. I can't say I remember many films from that time. My mind was focused on other things. Why do I mention this? Because this film is probably best viewed by kids, not adults.

I said I wouldn't watch another film based on high school students. Somehow I thought this film would be different or more likely I forgot my rule.

The film is straightforward. Five students arrive at school on a Saturday for a day-long detention session (I never heard of such a thing.) There's the five students, a teacher, a janitor and, briefly, parents for the kids.

The film could be a play with such a limited cast and limited set. The technical aspects of this film weren't that difficult.

And the story? Take five different types of people and force them to be together for many hours. There's the jock and the prom queen. There's the bohemian and the geek and finally the thug and misfit.

They don't know each other but as the story unfolds, they do and instead of being strangers and instant enemies, they become friends.

I can't say I enjoyed this film. I didn't like it messages. It's Pollyanna. Maybe if I saw it when I was in high school, I'd probably feel differently, but not likely.

Posted 2009/05/10 at 21h12ET in Movie Commentary.

Swim (6.0171)

...I got in my swim...

I

made it to the gym for my swim. A typical workout for Saturday. In the pool for 30 minutes and 30 laps. That's what I wanted.

Posted 2009/05/09 at 21h12ET in Exercise.

Wife vs. Secretary (1936)

Wife vs. Secretary. Feature film. (1936, 88 mins) IMDB

...not as good as I expected...

C

lark Gable plays a successful businessman in NYC. He's a bon-vivant. What's not to like.

Mryna Loy is his fun loving wife.

The two have the perfect marriage.

Then there's Jean Harlow. The sexpod and his secretary.

The film is a play on these relationships.

Because Harlow is hot, people assume he's having an affair with her. Her wife doesn't suspect anything until others point it out. The thing is, he isn't having a relationship with her. He's a loving husband and a hardworking businessman. It just happens his desire to buy a business from another businessman puts him into overtime. It means his secretary is working overtime. Hence the misunderstanding.

While Harlow is a sexpod, in the film, she's a diligent, hardworking secretary. She doesn't think about sex with our hero and he doesn't think about it.

She has a boyfriend played by James Stewart. He's waiting around for her to give up her job so they can get married. She wants to keep working.

It's all a case of misunderstanding.

I never really got into this film because there isn't much happening. It all seems like some polite and friendly talking and discussions. There's not much in the way of crises or problems. It's far too tame and slow.

Just because it's a B&W MGM film from the 1930s with stars doesn't mean it's a good film.

Posted 2009/05/09 at 21h12ET in Movie Commentary.

Miami Vice (2006)

Miami Vice. Feature film. (2007, 140 mins) IMDB

...a terrible movie despite the budget and talent...

D

uring the 5th minute I thought of shutting the DVD player off and say: "Forget this movie". That doesn't happen often and I probably should have.

The opening credits are so small with such poor contrast as to be unreadable. Is that what they wanted? Why bother putting up credits if no one can read them? How stupid.

The opening sequence is a bunch of big, fast boats racing across the water. It's meaningless and boring because it's done without any context. Who's in the boats? Why? We don't know so we don't care.

It gets worse. Shift to a packed nightclub with that pounding music and flashing lights. Who enjoys that type of scene? I hate those types of scenes, yet they persist.

This is followed by a meet and great. Drug sellers and drug buyers. The buyers are accused of being informants. Out come the big guns, .50 cal guns, whereupon the informants are literally shot to pieces. Who needs to see this? Why?

I'm into the 16th minute and I'm thinking of stopping it.

I know Miami Vice was a TV series but I couldn't tell you a thing about it except the obvious. It takes place in Mimi and it deals with cops, vice squad, chasing drug dealers.

That's what's happening in this film. There's nasty drug dealers, informants whose cover has been blown and our two heroes are called in to figure it out.

The film is about women with fake tits, guns and violence. Fast cars, fast boats. All without any purpose.

It's a lame film.

The very first image on the screen is white text on black saying this film has been edited from its original release. I thought it was one of the notices to say it'd been shrunk to full screen. This was a first. Realizing what was going on and seeing the running time over 140 minutes, my immediate thought was self-indulgent and now I say lazy. It takes work to fit a story into 120 mins. It's lazy to let it run long.

There seems to be every nationality involved in these drug deals except Canadians.

And what's with Colombians speaking English with each other. Ugh. It just doesn't happen.

Thankfully there was a fast-forward button and it worked. Sometimes certain DVDs don't allow the FF to work.

Posted 2009/05/09 at 21h12ET in Movie Commentary.