Did not like the movie “Lion”

Saw Lion at Sundance Theater with Wife M.  

The theater was *packed*, with all showings sold out and loooonnnnnggggg lines at the cocktail bar.  But it also added to some of the fun, and we met a nice woman a little older than me while we waited, and talked about our favorite movies of the year (all agreed that it is Moonlight, so far) and the shock of Trump’s decision to ban muslims from the country (another woman turned around and said she couldn’t believe that this is the modern US doing this).  Our new friend made the comment how awful it must be for Trump’s wife to have sex with him, how she must just closer her eyes and remind herself that it (sex) will soon be over and she now has all that money 🙂

The movie Lion was disappointing. It started out with a great premise — here was a poor family in India whose young son steps on a train that takes him 1000 miles away – it is something I can picture happening and what is worse picture the horror of everyone involved.  

But sooooo much of the movie is formulaic and predictable.  And half the movie is the man wallowing and clicking on the computer while his codependent girlfriend tries to keep him grounded.  At least 10 minutes of the film is watching the boy speed on the train (we got it after a minute) and another 15 minutes is shown with the man clicking on the computer in misery, as though watching a man search Google Earth really can be all that interesting.  Finally, the symphony music plays the entire film without a break.

What is disappointing is the movie could have been so much more.  As Wife M said, what if it were told from the mom’s point of view?  She is poor and loves her family, and one day her two boys don’t return home from searching for food – every parent’s worst fear.  Then she gets word that one of the boys was found dead (the worst!!) and the other has not been found (torture).  So she spends the next 20 years praying every week, riding the rails whenever she can to search for her son.  In the meantime, because she has two less mouths to feed, she can now afford to send her two surviving children to school for better lives (what a bittersweet moment the graduation must have been).  Then, after all realistic hope has been lost for 20 years, her boy arrives again as a grown man.  Goosebumps!  And could have been an inspiring movie for those poor paretns of missing children.

I get why people cried in the film – it is a tear jerker when the mom and boy are reunited to symphony music in the background — but the movie pales in comparison to Moonlight and was not a great investment of 75 bucks for movies, parking, etc.

Did not like the movie “Lion”

Good advice from Wife M

We were waiting for dinner with my parents and I was standing next to two young women while Wife M talked to my parents.  The way the line worked, I was facing right the women, who were two feet away from me.  Silence bothers me, so I asked one of the women what her drink was since it looked cool, and that started a conversation, which I quickly brought in Wife M (it turnd out the second woman happened to be standing with that woman but was with another group).  A minute or two later, the woman’s male partner returned, and I said, “Hi there, I was just asking…”  At that moment, I paused, not wanting to offend them.  Was it his girlfriend?  WIfe?  Friend?  Life partner?  WHo knew?  As I thought through this, I decided to say, “she” so then finished with, “what she was drinking.”  That launched another conversation in which I again made sure I was including the guy plus Wife M.  Soon, it was time to go into the restaurant and the conversation ended.

Later, Wife M said, “You have to be careful talking to people.  They thought you were hitting on her?”

“Are you kidding?” I said.  “She was half my age and I am with you.”

“First of all, you look young for your age, and second of all, that doesn’t stop a lot of men,” Wife M said.  “THey realized eventually that you weren’t hitting on her, but it was awkward at first.”  We realized at that point that my hesitation made it seem like I was thinking of an excuse to cover up that I was hitting on his partner/friend/wife/girflriend.

“Just be aware of that,” she said.  “You don’t want to make people feel uncomfortable.”

Since then, I’ve been really careful, and appreicate that Wife M told me that.  It is also a little discouraging – I’ve been appreciating that in middle age that women don’t approach me anymore (it has been 6 years since a woman approached me, something that used to happen semi-regularly when I was young, which was hard since I had to risk hurting someone’s feelings by telling them I was happily married), but also appreciating that I could talk to women withouth them thiking I aws hitting on them (I am friendly, and a lot of women used to mistake that for flirting, which always annoyed the sh*t out of me since I was happily married).  Turns out, I was only half right, that women still might think I am hitting on them when starting innocent conversation, and Wife M is right – there are a lot of creeps out there willing to approach women who are young enough to be there daughter.  I am not one of them, but women who don’t know me have no way of knowing that.

Sigh.  The creeps out there make it harder for the rest of us.

Good advice from Wife M

Hit a happy milestone yesterday!

Before my lung-disease diagnosis, I could do 140-pound bicep curls.  Six months later, after treatment for lung disease, I was so weak I had to literally use two hands to shave.  Yesterday, after 5 years of self-physical-therapy and very slow progress, I did 140 pound bicep curls again (without straining).  It felt great to return to my old gym strength (although my every-day strength is far weaker than 5 years ago.  There is no chance of me getting into a street fight  🙂 ).  

I also was able to do 5 *slow, easy* reps of 4 sets of 405 pound (the entire stack) of leg presses.  For some reason, my legs – which have always been strong for my weight/size — are suddenly freakishly strong, and I’ve gone from sets of 4 300 pound to 5 400 pound presses (with no straining) in just a couple of months.  Anyway, strength isn’t that important to me, but it is nice to reach my pre-illness strength and it is fun to watch the numbers climb a little.   I do have to be careful though – I need to keep my heart rate at a reasonable level and not get too into the additional reps and heavier weights.

Current numbers for my future reference:

  • Honest assessment of appearance: thin, fit or trim.  Up from borderline gaunt/skinny 3 years ago.
  • Age: 48
  • Weight: 159 pounds
  • Bicep Curl (4 reps): 140 pounds.
  • Leg Presses (5 reps, but need to go down to 4 to keep my heart rate low): 405 pounds.
  • Bench Press (2 reps): 200 pounds.
  • Shoulder Pull Down (or whatever it is called) (4 reps) 200 pounds or 220 pounds (3 reps). 
Hit a happy milestone yesterday!

The Mystery Coke Machine in Seattle

Wife M just told me about the “mystery coke machine” on Capitol Hill in Seattle, where you put in 75 cents and you get a random can of soda that is outside of your control/choice.  No one know who fills the machine and who collects the money, but it is always stocked and apparently it is a “thing” in Seattle.  I searched the Web and there are selfies etc. in front of it, which is placed right in front of a random house (which is across the street from the long-time-but-recently-torn-down funeral home).  How cool!  Even though I am approaching 50 years of life in Seattle and spent the better part of two years haunting Capitol Hill,  I never heard of that before.  I love how life is always filled with little surprises like that.

The Mystery Coke Machine in Seattle

It’s Academy Award time!

Wife M and I have been our annual hobby of watching all the Oscar Nominated films.  Below is this year’s nominees, as copy-and-pasted from Huffington Post.  So far, my votes:

  • Moonlight, Best Picture
  • La La Land, Best Director (I can’t imagine pulling off a musical, plus cinematography)
  • Trevante Rhodes, Best Actor, Moonlight, Not nominated but I don’t care.

Best Picture
”Hacksaw Ridge”
”Hell or High Water” – Loved this! Held my interest, great performances, great theme.
”Hidden Figures”
”La La Land” – Loved this!  Touching, stars were great, beautiful cinematography.
”Manchester By the Sea”
”Moonlight” – My choice. Great performances, theme, symbols; touching story.

Best Director

Denis Villeneuve, “Arrival”
Mel Gibson, “Hacksaw Ridge”
Damien Chazelle, “La La Land”  Great!
Kenneth Lonergan, “Manchester by the Sea”
Barry Jenkins, “Moonlight”  Great!

Best Actress

Emma Stone, “La La Land” Great!
Natalie Portman, “Jackie”
Ruth Negga, “Loving”
Meryl Streep, “Florence Foster Jenkins”
Isabelle Huppert, “Elle”

Best Actor

Casey Affleck, “Manchester by the Sea”
Andrew Garfield, “Hacksaw Ridge”
Ryan Gosling, La La Land” Great!
Viggo Mortensen, Captain Fantastic”
Denzel Washington, “Fences”

Best Supporting Actress

Viola Davis, “Fences”
Naomie Harris, “Moonlight” Great!  Couldn’t believe it was same Miss Penny.
Nicole Kidman, “Lion”
Octavia Spencer, “Hidden Figures”
Michelle Williams, “Manchester by the Sea”

Best Supporting Actor

Mahershala Ali, “Moonlight”
Jeff Bridges,”Hell or High Water” Great
Lucas Hedges, “Manchester by the sea”
Dev Patel, “Lion”
Michael Shannon, “Nocturnal Animals”

Best Adapted Screenplay

”Hidden Figures”
”Moonlight”  Great!

Best Original Screenplay

“Hell or High Water” Great
”La La Land” Great
”The Lobster”
”Manchester by the Sea”
”20th Century Women”

Best Foreign Language Film

“Land of Mine,” Martin Zandvliet, Denmark
”A Man Called Ove,” Hannes Holm,  Sweden
”The Salesman,”  Asghar Farhadi, Iran
”Tanna,” Bentley Dean, Martin Butler, Australia,
”Toni Erdmann,” Maren Ade, Germany

Best Documentary Feature

“Fire at Sea”
“I Am Not Your Negro”
“Life, Animated”
“O.J.: Made in America”

Best Animated Feature

“Kubo and the Two Strings”
”My Life as a Zucchini”
”The Red Turtle”

Best Film Editing

”Hacksaw Ridge”
”Hell or High Water”
”La La Land”  Thought this was great. Some beautiful dissolves.
”Moonlight” Great

Best Original Song

 “Audition (The Fools Who Dream),” La La Land Beautiful
“Can’t Stop the Feeling,” Trolls
“City of Stars,” La La LAnd Beautiful
“The Empty Chair,” Jim: The James Foley Story
“How Far I’ll Go,” Moana

Best Original Score

”La La Land”

Best Cinematography

“Arrival,” Bradford Young
”La La Land,” Linus Sandgren  Wow!!!
”Lion,” Grieg Fraser
”Moonlight,” James Laxton Wonderful, but La La Land was one of the best I’ve seen.

Best Costume Design

”Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them”
”Florence Foster Jenkins”
”La La Land”

Best Makeup and Hairstyling

“A Man Called Ove”
”Star Trek Beyond”
”Suicide Squad”

Best Production Design

”Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them”
”Hail, Caesar!”
”La La Land”

Best Sound Editing

”Deepwater Horizon”
”Hacksaw Ridge”
”La La Land”

Best Sound Mixing

”Hacksaw Ridge”
”La La Land”
”Rogue One”
”13  Hours”

Best Visual Effects

“Rogue One: A Star Wars Story”
”The Jungle Book”
”Doctor Strange”
”Fantastic Beats and Where to Find Them”
”The BFG”
”Kubo and the Two Strings”
”A Monster Calls”

Best Short Film, Live Action

“Ennemis Intérieurs”
”La Femme et le TGV”
”Silent Nights”

Best Short Film, Animated

“Blind Vaysha”
”Borrowed Time”
”Pear Cider and Cigarettes”

Best Documentary, Short Subject

”4.1 Miles”
”Joe’s Violin”
”Watani: My Homeland”
”The White Helmets”

It’s Academy Award time!

Social commentary in “Hell or High Water”

One of the things I noticed about Hell or High Water was the quiet running social commentary about corruption/inequality.  Am re-watching the movie to look for things in the background or comments made:

  • Graffiti on bank wall: “3 tours in Iraq, but there is no bailout for me.”
  • Town had a “Closing” sign on one business, several others fenced off and “Sale” signs.  A poor and tired looking town.
  • Billboard: “Debt relief.”
  • Bank customer trading in coins: “I’ve been living on an inmate’s diet and was sitting on these coins the entire time.”  One of the coins is from 1953 – is there meaning to that year?
  • Bank customer during robbery: “This is crazy.  You’re not even Mexican.”
  • Foreshadowing: the bank customer starts shooting at them, foreshadowing of the gun-toting would-be-vigilantes later in the film.
Social commentary in “Hell or High Water”

Couldn’t figure out why the “Alt-Fact” comments – now I know why :)

We have a wonderfully clever and funny friend who posted yesterday that the Seahawks won the Super Bowl thanks to Alt-facts.  People started posting comments from there, such as all the people at the parade, etc.  I didn’t think too much about the “Alt-fact” thing until this morning when I saw the New York Times article about Kellyanne Conway talking about “Alternative Facts.”  I didn’t even know who Kellyanne Conway was until Saturday Night Live’s funny skit about her (I had to ask Wife M who Kellyanne Conway was, and in fact may be misspelling her name here – oh, well).

1984 has Double Speak, such as Ministry of Peace being in charge of War.  Later, I remember our slick Huskies coach (Rick Nieuhiesal) and Sonics owner (Howard Schultz) using Spin and Double Talk in talking to the press.  I always felt oily reading their comments and honestly can’t stand reading people like that – Conway sounds like she would fit right in.  Unfortunately, since she runs the White House staff I’ll have to read her anyway.

Couldn’t figure out why the “Alt-Fact” comments – now I know why :)

Loved”Hell or High Water”

Wife M and I watched “Hell or High Water.”  I loved it.

On its own, it was an attention-holding story.  I worried about the two boys (whether they’d get caught when they were trying to take care of their family), the two rangers (when the one was just a few months from retiring I had a suspicious there would be a potentially-tragic showdown) and the people along the way.  I was rooting for the boys to pull themselves out of debt, but also for the likable police officers (who reminded me of the two DEA agents in “Breaking Bad” and/or the two Sheriffs in “No Country For Old Men”).

It also had many great social comments.  It mentions poverty (“like a disease”) and small towns dying and humans being controlled by the bank.  There was definitely a point that a bank could take advantage of an impoverished old woman and that is legal, but two men robbing that same bank to protect the old woman’s land was not.  Or that it was humorous for the Ranger that the waitress was upset she’d lost her $200 tip to evidence, even after she’d made the comment she was trying to keep a roof over her family’s heads.  Also, in old Westerns you got the sense that American towns were on the path towards growth and prosperity, but in this “modern western” you got the sense that American towns were decrepit and dying.

We live in an age where exploding wage inequality will mean the vast majority of Americans will not have the money to cover illness and old age, and so will do things like take reverse mortgages for pennies on the dollar to cover those costs, which means the wealthy (who give the money for these reverse mortgages) will continue to take a larger share of the pie (e.g. houses for pennies on the dollar) all the while justifying this.  (This was actually one of the root causes of The French Revolution – the wealthy were foreclosing on the poor, who were struggling to cover the rising costs).  It’s not fair and is a huge flaw in the system, and the movie points all this out very well.

I’d love to watch this movie again.  I was too busy enjoying the story and noticing the social commentary to look for other things (symbols, etc.).


Loved”Hell or High Water”

Loved the movie “Moonlight”

On Friday we went to the movie Moonlight, and saw it at the Sundance theater, where we can have a cocktail and a pizza with our movie.  I loved that movie, and here is why:

  • The performances.  From top to bottom, amazing.  All were great, but I really loved the performance of the grown up Shyrell(?, the main character), who did a great job of being street tough and hardened one moment then seeming vulnerable and that lost little boy again the next minute, mostly in his expressions and mannerisms.
  • The characters.  I loved them all, including the character Blue, the best friend and even the drug addict mom and her speech at the end.
  • The symbolism.  There is a great line, where the drug dealer tells the boy how when he was younger an old woman started calling him “Blue” because he looked blue in the moonlight.  “Do you still go by Blue?” the boy asked.  “You can’t let anyone else tell you who you are,” the man said.  The rest of the movie, I was noticing the spots of blue everywhere.  My favorite was when the mom was bathed in red light as she yelled, then that red light turned to blue when she closed the door – wow!
  • The feelings.  I felt sadness when I realized the drug dealer had died.  I was touched by the way he’d reached out to the boy, and so was touched when I realized he was dead.  The whole movie was touching.
  • The subtle way the movie was pulled together.  When the drug dealer told the boy you can’t let anyone tell you who you are when the boy asked if the drug dealer went by “Blue,” then when the boy asked the drug dealer if he (the boy) was gay and the drug dealer said the boy would just know one day if he were or weren’t, then when the grown up friend came out putting on the blue sweater – I was amazed at the subtle way the director put that all together without putting it in our face.  Amazing.

It was a wonderful movie.  One that I continue to think about two days later.


Loved the movie “Moonlight”

Thankfully I wasn’t tested that way…

I have to admit that when the US attacked Iraq in 1991, my friends and I had a burst of patriotic pride and talked about enlisting.  I was in my senior year of college, but my friend Bill and I talked about that if the war wasn’t going well and we were needed, we might need to enlist.  Luckily, the war was quick and we were never put to the test as to whether we would enlist…  Anyway, in our modern age, so few young people who are benefiting the most from our society — the upper classes — are the ones who do the fighting. It is the wealthy who benefit most from war, but the days of the warrior kings are long past.  As much as anyone I know of, Dick Cheney and Haliburton (and Boeing) benefited most from the recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, yet I have a feeling that there are no last names ending in “Bush,” “McNerney” (the sociopathic Boeing ex-CEO) and similar names on the enrollment list, at least not ones directly related to such families…  So in many ways I am glad I did not enlist in 1991 (not to take any of my gratitude to those who did), and I do wish that Americans would insist that anyone and everyone — regardless of wealth — had to put in a mandatory time in the services so everyone was doing equal time and duty.

Thankfully I wasn’t tested that way…