Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Life and Death

Today was my annual visit to the ancestor's burial grounds to scrub the accumulation of winter moss off the stones and brighten the graves with cheerful red and purple tulips. There is such a peace driving through the country side seeing trees blossoming, flowers blooming, sun shining, and everything coming alive as I make my way toward a destination filled with physical reminders of mortality. Life is short. Death is forever. Love the dichotomy.

And I really, really love the entrance to the cemetery!

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Mutant Daffodils

I have no idea where these daffodils came from. They are the same flowers that come up every spring, but they have evolved...

So odd. They look like spiky roses. 

So beautiful, but so mutant.

Spring is here. 

So Happy. 

Happy. Happy. Happy.

Friday, March 31, 2017

March Movie Reviews

*****  Exceptional
****    Great
***      OK
**        So So
*          Blah

And So It Goes is about a widow (Diane Keaton) and widower (Michael Douglas) who live next to each other in a little apartment four-plex. He's a real estate agent trying to make his last great sale (his own house) and she's a singer. They have one of those love-hate relationships and end up falling in love. Very Hollywood and not very interesting, but the birthing scene is hilarious. **

Captive is based on a true story about Ashley, a meth addict, who lost custody of her daughter and is trying to stay clean although not doing a very good job of it. A man accused of rape about to stand trial escapes, kills a bunch of people, steals a bunch of cars, and ends up in Ashley's apartment parking lot just as she goes out to her car to get something. He forces her back into her apartment where he hides from the police and holds her captive. It was good with good performances.  ***

Coldwater is about a teenager who is kidnapped from his home by the guards from a juvenile "rehabilitation" center at the request of his mother. I'm never sure why parents are so stupid to subject their children to torture thinking this will make them better, but I think in this case the mom's new boyfriend was influential in the decision making process. The boys at this center are abused and tortured and even when our star escapes, the police return him because he doesn't have any evidence. Lots of stories in history about the horrifying conditions of reform schools for boys. Nasty business. Great story. Excellent performances. ****

Desierto begins with a truck load of smuggled Mexicans that breaks down in the middle of the desert. They all get out and start hiking to America, land of the free, across the badlands, an aptly named area most smugglers try to avoid. There are about fifteen Mexicans with two smugglers leading the way. One of the Mexicans is overweight, slow, and not doing too well so he lags behind accompanied by our handsome, compassionate star (Gael Garcia Bernal), a young woman, and a very creepy guy who was paid to accompany the woman. It is vaguely implied the creep had been taking advantage of her throughout the trip and since I just read a book on rape trees, I was glad they addressed this illegal immigration issue although briefly.  As they watch the rest of the group cross a valley far ahead, they also see a truck pull up, the driver get out, climb an elevation, and shoot them all dead with his high-powered rifle. The lagging group hide but then in a panic make a dash for the hills...bad move. The man has a dog. A big German Shepherd with excellent hearing. A big RELENTLESS, energetic, well-trained tracking German Shepherd that pursues them, catches the slowest, and rips his throat out. I kept screaming YOU DON'T HAVE A CHANCE IN HELL UNTIL YOU GET RID OF THE DOG! THROW ROCKS!! BASH ITS BRAIN IN!!  What a horror story. Very suspenseful and very sad. I love Jeffrey Dean Morgan. He's usually really gorgeous and sexy when he's not playing the part of a psycho redneck white trailer trash American POS who is a hateful, angry alcoholic who blames all his woes on someone else. The quintessential Trumptard. ****

The Disappointments Room is a ghost story about a couple and their five year old son who move into a big mansion in the country to start a new life after their baby daughter dies. The wife (Kate Beckinsale) is a little mental, had some kind of breakdown so when she starts seeing things we never really know if it's just her or the house. Well, we know it's the house because we know this is a ghost story.... The house is haunted by an evil man and his evil black German Shepherd who in the old days locked his disfigured daughter in the "disappointments room" a secret room in the attic to live in seclusion and in secret to avoid embarrassing the family. It's a creepy story. House is creepy but really beautiful. It would be fun to own something like that (sans ghosts).  Some of the performances weren't that good, but it was a good story. I was curious if there was a such thing as real disappointments rooms. Whether or not they were really called that, I'm sure people did all kinds of horrible things to their disfigured or disabled children. I was reading just the other day on people in Ethiopia throw their children out on the streets and leave them to fend for themselves if they are mental or physically disabled and call them "witch children" thinking they are possessed. So many bad things in the world. ***

Drunk Stoned Brilliant Dead is the story of the magazine National Lampoon and how it morphed into a radio show, comedy theater, Saturday Night Live, and movies. It was fascinating. I was never into National Lampoon mostly because I was too young to understand any of it, it featured way too many naked ladies, raunchy themes (that are still raunchy even by today's standards), and the layout made my head hurt. But I remember the popularity of Animal House. I did not even realize Kevin Bacon was in Animal House. He looks like he's about 15 years old. ***

Genius is the story about the relationship between writer Thomas Wolfe and his editor Maxwell Perkins. That's pretty much what it said on the DVD cover and I didn't have much hope for it but the cast: Colin Firth, Jude Law, Nicole Kidman and Laura Linney gave me much more hope and didn't disappoint. Outstanding performances especially from Jude Law who was amazing. Outstanding costumes, sets and photography. ****

Harold and Maude is about a young man who is obsessed with death and constantly stages his own suicide, goes to funerals, and drives a hearse. My kind of guy. Then he meets Maude who is turning 80 years old in a week. She also goes to funerals for entertainment as well as steals cars, collects bizarre memorabilia, loves to play music, dance and sing. She teaches him how to live. Great movie. I can't believe I've never seen it. I would like to be just like Maude when I'm old. ****

Henry Gamble's Birthday Party is about the birthday party of a seventeen-year old Christian boy. His father is a pastor of their church so many guests are from the church along with his secular friends from school.  The theme was the hypocrisy of church teachings especially regarding intolerance and ignorance. The diversity included holy rollers who think modern bathing suits are evil vs. the oversexed teenagers who keep yelling "forgive me Lord" when they are having sex. Do boys really masturbate together? I remember hearing once how they will have ejaculation contests or comparatively measure their erections, but I never really considered they masturbate in unison. So strange. I was worried this was a Christian-based movie and would be poorly done and Bible thumping. Nope, it was interestingly anti-Christian showing diverse frames of mind. ***

Ithaca is about a 14-year old boy living in Ithaca during World War II. His father has just died and his older brother goes off to war. He gets a job at the telegraph office delivering death notices from the State Department. It's very depressing. All-star cast. Meg Ryan is way, way, way too skinny. It's not a good look. ***

Lazy Eye is about a graphic designer who gets an email from an old boyfriend who broke his heart and disappeared on him fifteen years prior without any explanation. They meet out in the desert and get to know each other again. It was a really interesting expose on relationships. I would like that house in the desert with the pool minus the rats. I know those rats had some kind of thematic symbolism. It drives me nuts I don't know what they meant. ***

Learning to Drive is about an Indian man (Ben Kingsley) who drives a taxi at night and teaches driving during the day and a woman (Patricia Clarkson) whose husband of twenty-one years leaves her for a younger woman. She doesn't drive and has always depended on her husband for transportation so she takes driving lessons. Driving is a metaphor for life and the relationship between driver and teacher addresses various gender relationships. He learns from her how to treat his new wife, an arranged marriage relationship, and she learns from him there still are good and honorable men in the world. I've always loved Clarkson. She's one of the unsung actresses with lots of memorable roles but doesn't get a lot of publicity. ****

The Longest Ride I thought this would be some silly, mushy love story as only Nicholas Sparks could write, and it was, but it had a surprising theme - ART! Who would have thought a love story about a bull rider would have anything to do with art? It features the Black Mountain College which was this very well-known, avant-garde art college in North Carolina in the 1940s-50s. Most famous American Modern artists were students there when they were young and many famous artists were guest teachers.  That was fun. Granted, the story was still silly, mushy, and predictable. ***

National Treasure with Nicholas Cage is about a family legend of the Knights of the Templar treasure with lots of American history. It was fun and adventurous. I think it would be fascinating to be a treasure hunter or archaeologist. ****

National Treasure: Book of Secrets is very much like the first movie with a treasure hunting theme only a little more far-fetched with more car chases, goofy romantic plot, less intrigue and less human interest. Not as good. *

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest I hadn't seen this movie for years. I didn't realize a very young Danny DeVito was in it along with Christopher Lloyd. The Special Feature about how it was made was fascinating. I didn't realize Kirk Douglas bought the rights and created the play and his son, Michael, produced the movie. Great story. Jack Nicholson was awesome. *****

Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End This is number three. Jack Sparrow is dead and in Davy Jones's locker. Keira Knightley and Orlando Bloom with Geoffrey Rush rescue him so they can meet up with the rest of the pirate brethren and save the world. Or something like that. It does amaze me they can have all that violence, but they leave out all the blood and gore. Disneyization. I bet it was a fun movie to be in. ***

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides Number 4. It's a race to find the Fountain of Youth. Lots of stars in this one: Judy Dench has a cameo, Ian McShane is an awesome Blackbeard, Penelope Cruz makes a great pirate, love the mermaids, handsome religious boys. It was fun. (Obviously I'm behind in my pirate movies...)***

Puncture is about two small-time personal injury lawyers who attempt to go after the giant hospital supply group that monopolizes and controls all hospital purchases. They refused to allow one-time-use retractable safety needles to replace the not-so-safe needles thought to exacerbate the Hepatitis C and HIV epidemic. Too many medical staff accidental needle sticks.  It was a commentary on the corporate-controlled health industry that would rather support disease than health. So incredibly irritating was the lawyer who had all the passion and fight but was a functioning drug addict. Watching him constantly snorting and shooting drugs, missing meetings, and failing every step of the way was frustrating. What a contradiction. **

The Reflecting Skin was insanely weird! It starts out with these three boys sticking a reed up a frog's butt, blowing it up, and then popping it! It continues along these lines with vampire neighbors and dead children. I can tolerate a lot of weirdness if it has a message or some kind of meaningful symbolism, but when it got to the point where the implied homosexual father of one of the boy's douses himself in gasoline and lights a match in front of his son, I decided it was too random and meaningless even for me. *

Romy and Michele's High School Reunion with Lisa Kudrow and Mira Sorvino is about two incredibly brain dead girls who do nothing with their lives after high school. When their high school reunion comes around they decide to lie about their success. So incredibly stupid, but I watched the whole thing thinking it might redeem itself at some point. Nope. Never did. It included Janeane Garofalo, Camryn Manheim, and Alan Cumming which is amazing because they all made names for themselves beyond this pathetic movie. *

State of Play is about people being murdered, sleazy politics with sleazy privatized military mercenaries, and newspaper reporters who get the truth. Great performances by Russell Crowe, Rachel McAdams, Helen Mirren, and especially Ben Affleck. Very complex yet intriguing story. ***

Sunset Boulevard with William Holden and Gloria Swanson. I think I read the story once, definitely listened to the musical soundtrack, but I've never seen the original movie. It's about a formerly famous silent screen actress, filthy rich, but discarded and ignored as a has-been. A young screenwriter accidentally ends up at her house and she hires him to write her memoirs as a movie. She becomes infatuated with him, possessive, and downright mental as she buys his attention with gifts and money while throwing temper tantrums when she can't control him. But more than that, it's a sad commentary on the vulnerability of aging and feeling disposable. She's only fifty years old, beautiful, but already "washed-up". Great role for Ms. Swanson who was a silent screen actress...love those eyes. One of the bonus features talks about all the actresses who turned down the role because they were offended and afraid of being seen as washed-up. Outstanding black and white photography, excellent music, very melodramatic, perfect plot, and amazingly precise writing.  Lovely.****

Sunshine Superman is a documentary about Carl Boenish and the BASE jumping movement. BASE stands for Building, Antenna, Span (bridges), Earth (cliffs) and in order to be an official member of the club, you have to jump off of one of each. This is illegal to do in national parks and I had just read a book about someone who died BASE jumping. Crazy people. Or maybe just adventurous. No, this is not something I would ever do! I think I'd have a heart attack until the parachute opened. Not that I didn't think I would do some skydiving once. I came close to skydiving but the weather didn't cooperate so they cancelled the dive. Oh well. ***

Trust is the story about a fourteen-year old girl who meets a sixteen-year old boy online from California in a chat room. They trade emails for a while becoming very intimate, and well, sexually explicit. He is the only one in the world who understands her. When it comes to trading photos he confesses he's not sixteen, he's twenty and in college. She doesn't like he lied to her, but accepts his excuse. They continue their online relationship then he confesses he's twenty-five and in graduate school. Then he gets her to meet him and he's, oh, forty years old. She's mortified and cries, but hey, she gets in car and goes to a hotel room with him anyway. God, kids are dumb. Or maybe parents are the dumb ones. Heck, a lot of people are dumb, and you don't have to be a kid to fall for bullshit or trust that people are honest and good. I don't know how many times I've been guilty of trusting people I shouldn't. Good movie. Even the FBI screws up a few times and  while watching I kept thinking that wasn't smart I quickly followed it with but so realistic. The FBI would definitely screw up an investigation every step of the way. You'd think they could catch more of these pedophiles by posing as young girls online. Performances were great, but I was hoping for more revenge in the end rather than just a frightful reminder of how normal perverts can seem. ****

Valentine Road is a documentary about the murder of biracial fourteen-year old Larry King an abused transgender/gay student who was sexually harassing fourteen-year old white supremacist Brandon McInerney who brought a gun to school and shot Larry in the back of the head. So many of the adults did absolutely nothing to prevent this and many handled the aftermath of this tragedy so badly. The trial was incredibly complex and lots of victim blaming. Ex-jurors started wearing wrist bands to support the shooter because "he was so young". Really? Like one man said, if he had killed their son would they be so eager to support him? Very sad on so many levels. ****

A Walk in the Woods is based on Bill Bryson's book about hiking the Appalachian Trail. Bryson (Robert Redford) is a retired writer who seems bored or maybe irritated with life and needs something more. Later in the movie he expresses how all anyone thinks and talks about at his age is health and death. He decides to hike the trail but his wife (Emma Thompson...love her) thinks he's crazy and insists he finds a hiking partner while pointing out all the ways this adventure could go wrong. He calls all his friends and they all laugh at him, "I'd rather get a colonoscopy." However, one old friend (Nick Nolte) who he had a falling out with many years ago hears from another friend about his adventure and volunteers to go. For lack of other options, Bryson invites him. He shows up overweight, with knee problems, has seizures if he doesn't eat every hour and is an alcoholic. It was pretty funny. Great commentary on aging. I hope I'm as sprite as Robert Redford when I get to be his age. ****

Wyatt Earp starring Kevin Costner (Wyatt Earp), Dennis Quaid (Doc Holliday) and a bunch of other well-known actors retelling the story of the Wild West and the shoot out at the OK Corral. Dennis Quaid was so skinny and sickly looking I almost didn't recognize him. He must have lost weight to play Doc Holliday. Great movie. I enjoy stories about the historical West and these characters in particular. ****

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Ides of Trump

Today, March 15th, is the designated "Ides of Trump" postcard protest.  It is based on the Ides of March when it was foretold that Julius Caesar would die a horrible death...which he did. Everyone who opposes the Dump and his sexist, racist, xenophobic policies was to send a 4 x 6 postcard to the White House voicing their opinion on whatever topic they want to address.

I sent five postcards. I thought it would be important to voice my displeasure at his anti-environment policies. Poor air quality means I can't function let alone breathe.  I thought five was a lot until I read someone in San Francisco sent 800! That's a lot of stamps! I made mine out of some old manila file folders and felt pens. It was a fun.

Then I realized it might not be a good idea to send them from a Trumptard infested county. Ratholian trailer trash are untrustworthy liars anyway, but Trumptard Ratholians are deplorably untrustworthy. I mean, look at their leader. He can't stop lying for a minute. So I drove an hour and a half to get out of Rathole in hopes the postal workers in the neighboring county were honest liberals who would do their jobs and send my cards.


Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Cadet Heaters...Round Two

So it's been almost three years since I replaced my rat-infested, formaldehyde-soaked, fiberglass-constructed furnace with electric Cadet wall heaters. I wrote a post on the effects of those brand new heaters: nausea, neck and back pain, and dizziness that lasted for about two weeks. After a frustrating two weeks, I washed the heaters' innards with vinegar and that seemed to do the trick. I haven't had a problem since and they gloriously heated my house very efficiently and relatively safely. I dust them every few months and don't put anything flammable in front of them so my house hasn't burned to the ground. My electric bills were much lower than when the furnace was running, even when it was brand new.

The Cadets have a two-year warranty although many have told me they last much longer. Perhaps others are using them only every now and then, to heat a bathroom or other small space. My three heaters are running about twelve hours a day and sometimes all night if temperatures hit freezing levels or under 25 degrees. Kitchen, living room, and office all winter long. I never use heaters in the spring, summer, and most of the fall when the temperatures are tolerable.

The Cadet in the kitchen stopped blowing heat. It still blows so I know it's not the motor or fan perhaps just the heating element. I thought for sure the cheap, plastic fan would be the first thing to break, but I guess not. This is the only heater attached to a separate temperature control knob. I don't know if that would have anything to do with it going out sooner than the other two. I called a few places then talked to a few more hardware store employees and they all said replacing just a part would cost as much as a new heater. So I bought a new heater. Very easy to install. Before installing I wiped the surfaces down the best I could before flipping it on.

BLAH. Immediately I could smell it. My head started spinning, my stomach lurching, and my spine tightening like an over stretched rubber band. I quickly sealed off the kitchen, brought in the fans, opened the kitchen window, and let the heater air itself out.

The discomfort only lasted for about an hour then I was able to remove the fans and close the window. I think washing down with vinegar is the secret. Even with the toxic offgassing these electric wall heaters are better than the furnace and far less expensive than that $5,000 split duct heatless piece of garbage salesmen were trying to sell me. We'll see if the other two heaters kick the bucket.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

February Movie Reviews

*****   Exceptional
****     Great
***       OK
**         So So
*           Blah

Ardor is billed as a South American western. Bad guys are burning down the rainforest, killing farmers in order to take their land, and kidnapping their daughters who look as if they have never bathed or did laundry in their lives. This cute young thing (Gael Garcia Bernal) mysteriously appears from nowhere. He is a man of few words, but seems to offer his help with his eyes so I thought for sure he must have superpowers. At one point he smokes something and looks like he's getting quite high and I felt quite hopeful, but his superpowers never came to light so that was very disappointing. Lots of over dramatized scenes, overacted stealth and creeping through the underbrush, and clich├ęs that make one think this was filmed in the 1950s although the music is more like a 1930s thriller. There is even a climatic standoff between the good and the bad only instead of being at the ends of a street, they stand at the ends of a plowed field. LOL.  Even the "smoldering" sex scene (according to a review on the front of the DVD case) is too staged. Goofy. It tries too hard and fails miserably. Weird foreign film. **

 Ashby is about a high school boy, Ed, who moves across the country with his mother. His English teacher instructs the class to interview an old person and write about the past with lessons for the future. Ed selects his neighbor, Ashby (Mickey Rourke), and while snooping around his house finds out he's a former CIA assassin.  What he doesn't know is the assassin has just been given three months to live. He can't drive because he keeps passing out so he asks the neighbor boy to drive him around. He's using the time he has left to get revenge on the people who had him assassinate an innocent man. Mickey Rourke used to be so gorgeous and now he's unrecognizable. I thought I read once it's from boxing injuries and botched reconstructive surgery. Such a shame. The kid who plays Ed is really good and he delivers a great performance, excellent timing with some really memorable scenes. ***

Bessie is about Bessie Smith starring Queen Latifah. She was a force of nature for sure. It's pretty amazing she was so famous and wealthy during an incredible racist time in history. Queen Latifah was superb. ****

Billy Elliott: the Musical Live is a musical (live theater) about a boy in Northern England during the miner's strikes who wants to be a dancer. I remember the movie years ago and I wasn't impressed with it then. The play received a lot of positive reviews, but I wasn't impressed with the musical numbers or the dancing. Lots of swearing throughout the whole play which is weird. The economic storyline was very depressing. **

Bone Tomahawk is a western-horror about a bizarre cannibalistic tribe who seek revenge on a jailhouse prisoner who had decimated their sacred grounds. Or something like that. And with him they kidnap a deputy and a lady doctor. The storyline was a little farfetched. The woman's husband (Patrick Wilson) has an injured leg but refuses to stay behind. The sheriff (Kurt Russell), his deputy (Richard Jenkins) and another man (Matthew Fox) form a posse to rescue woman and the deputy.  It had some great lines, but either the acting was really bad or the direction was really bad. Lots of great actors so I can't imagine it was the acting. Even when the lines were good, the timing was really off. It just wasn't right. Really gross and bloody. There is one scene in particular that is really gruesome. I think they add horror to westerns to make up for the low-budget. **

Child 44 "Murder is a capitalistic disease" - it doesn't happen in a utopian society. Russia 1950s and little boys are being murdered. However, the government refuses to acknowledge it. I have to admit it was very confusing and the Russian accents were a little hard to follow, but it was gray and depressing with state propaganda and military control of everyone and everything.  I'm sure the USofA will be as bleak in a few more years when Dictator Dump's vision is in full swing....unless he's impeached. **

Diablo was an incredibly interesting twist on a western storyline. It starts out as expected, complete with a classic plot of bad guys (banditos) kidnapping the wife and hero takes off after her, stunningly beautiful scenery (filmed in Canada), 1960s movie music reminiscent of the The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly and a kick-ass-Clint-Eastwood-swoon-worthy-star, Scott Eastwood, who is going to make millions filling his dad's roles. It was so typical I felt like I knew exactly what was going to happen (boring), but then as I'm trying to figure out the who's, why's and how's, it all goes WRONG and it ends up being anything but typical!!! Unfortunately I can't say too much without giving it all away. I have to say I'm not sure I like the ending. I wanted some satisfaction, retribution. I mean that's the whole reason one watches westerns...it's all about the retribution. Excellent xenophobic theme. I thought about this movie for days. Includes Danny Glover and Walton Goggins (Boyd Crowder from Justified). ****

Emma's Chance is about a girl caught being bad, forced to volunteer at a rescue ranch, and a horse. The dialogue was corny, the plot was predictable (like an after-school Hallmark special), and the acting was barely tolerable, but horse girls would LOVE this movie.  I know I would have. ***

Entertainment was about the worst comedian you could possibly imagine who is touring the California desert. He was obnoxious in a behavior disorder way, socially inept, and I didn't last long enough to see where the story was going. *

Everest is about the tragic climbing expedition of 1996. I read the book Into Thin Air years ago, but I didn't know for sure if this was the same story. Excellent movie - exceptionally realistic. There is no way in hell I'd ever want to climb that mountain. I'd never make it over those ladders, let alone anywhere near the peak with all that snow, ice, and drop offs. Wow. The things people do for fun. Exceptional performances. ****

Experimenter with Peter Sarsgaard and Winona Ryder is about Stanley Milgram and his obedience to authority experiments at Yale University in the 1960s. It's so disturbing people will follow directions even when they are clearly causing someone else pain. It makes me wonder if I'd continue the experiment. I've been trained to be obedient to authority, but maybe my super empathy would get in the way. I'd hope I'd stand my ground and yell, I'M NOT GOING TO DO IT!" But who knows? ***

The Gift is a movie about a successful man (Jason Bateman) with a nice wife, beautiful house, life is good, and then he runs into an acquaintance from high school. The acquaintance is odd, shows up at their house unannounced, constantly sends them gifts, invites them for dinner. Eventually we learn the Bateman character was this guy's bully, destroyed his life by making up rumors. The theme: once a bully, always a bully or one never really knows the person they married. I think it's a bit odd that the Bateman character continues the charade of not knowing or remembering his victim. If I were a bully and my ex-victim showed up, I'd be really concerned. I definitely wouldn't be going over for dinner. Once it comes to light that he's not just a little social inept, I really wanted him to get revenge in the worst of ways.  I would love to get revenge on the people who bullied me and my experience was minor.  Great performances. ***

Jauja was bad, bad, bad, bad, and bad. Everything about it is bad. Maybe bad is an understatement. The photography was horrid. The dialogue was really atrocious. The acting was incredibly embarrassing. I didn't last long and never got into the plot. It was probably BAD too.*

Kill or Be Killed was a low-budget western with a bunch of nobodies about a gang of thugs who are heading back to find where one of their members hid the loot before he was captured. Lots of violence, but comical and silly. The sets were good - somewhere in the middle of a desert. The supporting cast looked as if they were taken right off the streets of Hollywood and put it perfectly new costumes. It wasn't a horrible movie, but I lost interest when the DVD started skipping and did have the patience to clean it. I turned it off. *

A Little Help is about a woman who has kind of lost control of her life. Her husband is having an affair, her adolescent son is angry, she's drinking a lot, and then her husband dies. Her mother and sister are bossy and controlling, and she does whatever anyone demands of her even when she doesn't want to. By the end I think she's about to take control and be an adult, but it's never really clear if she becomes assertive. I was hoping she'd haul off and start yelling at someone to back off. Her passivity made me want to slap her. ***

Outlaws and Angels is about a gang of thugs who rob a bank and murder a few bystanders and ride across the desert to Mexico with a posse chasing after them. They stop for the night at a farm. One gets the impression this very religious family is a bit odd. The girls hate each other and the mother requires them to take turns giving daddy a "rub down".  Hmmm...later in the movie you realize the creepy feeling was justified. The silent movie piano music was strange and every now and then they'd use slow motion but I didn't see the point. It's very violent and the blood is orange! The ending is interesting and atypical. I think that's the trend with modern westerns - atypical plots. ***

Remember is about an elderly man and Auschwitz survivor, Zev (Christopher Plummer), who is living in an assisted living center and is suffering from dementia. Another patient and Auschwitz survivor, Max (Martin Landau) who is confined to a wheelchair, spent his life hunting Nazi officers and bringing them to justice. Max and Zev decide once Zev's wife dies, Zev would fulfill one last mission, find and kill the Nazi officer who killed their families and who has been living under an assumed name for the last seventy years. There are four people who have that same name. Zev sneaks out of the care center, buys a gun, travels around the country and one by one tracks them down meeting a variety of people from his Holocaust past. The problem is every time he goes to sleep he wakes up with no memory and has to read Max's step by step instructions to understand where he is and what he is supposed to be doing. Great story. Christopher Plummer is amazing. ****

The Shadow Riders I have no idea what the title means. It's a 1980s made-for-television western about two brothers (Tom Selleck and Sam Elliot in their prime) after the Civil War. They arrive home to find a their parents' home ransacked by a group of disgruntled rebel renegades who kidnapped their two little sisters, a younger brother, and a lady love (Katharine Ross). It's very clean cut. People get shot but there isn't any blood. No swearing. Lots of charm. Silly and sweet with bad acting, but fun. ***

Slow West was about a Scottish noble boy who travels west chasing unrequited love. The girl fled to America after her father accidentally killed the kid's noble uncle. The boy meets up with an outlaw who agrees to escort him for a fee, but he doesn't know the guy is a bounty hunter also looking for girl and her father for the reward. In fact too many bounty hunters are using the kid to track them. It was interesting, at times very light and other times very sad and disturbing. It's like it can't decide if it's a comedy or a drama. And it's slow which might be the reason for the title, but I admit I thought about this movie for days. Very thought provoking themes.  ***

If you are wondering why I'm watching so many westerns our library dedicated February as "western month" and special ordered western movies for display....

Sworn Virgin started out with woman hugging a goat and telling it how beautiful it was. Hmmm...I'm not sure why I watch strange foreign films. My only excuse is the library's cinematic selection has been extremely limited lately. The movie ends up being about a girl from an Albanian mountain village who with her sister are raised to be subordinate, obedient, unhappy wives as they wait to be married off. They aren't allowed to eat before men, go anywhere alone, make their own choices about anything,  no thinking or personal agency allowed, and to top it off, when these girls are married, the father of the bride gifts a bullet to the new husband as part of the dowry so if his wife is disobedient, he can shoot her. That's how disgusting this all is, but to be clear, this isn't an historical expose, but a modern tale of backwardness. Hana is a bit rebellious. She hikes up in the hills alone, carries a gun, and is pretty much an embarrassment to her family until they come to terms with her hopelessness. The idea of being forced to marry some random jerk who treats her like garbage isn't her dream. Her father explains her only option is to become one of the "sworn virgins" who go through this asinine ritual of becoming a man and from that day forward they are expected to act like men, dress like men, cut their hair short, smoke, drink, and live single solitary lives. It's offensive this male-dominant culture forbids women to be authentic, independent, thinking humans. It irritated the hell out of me. Hana's sister runs away with her boyfriend, and Hana becomes a man living in the mountains alone. Eventually she grows tired of it and heads to Italy to find her sister but defying her manhood doesn't come easy. The movie is painfully slow with long drawn out photographic pauses of nothing so we can watch Hana sulk and stare man-like. I was hoping we would see her experience some kind of epiphany, embrace her girlhood, stop wearing those ugly man clothes,  and stop trudging around like she's a boy pretending to be a man. Unfortunately by the end it only hints at her impending liberation which was disappointing. Very strange even for a foreign film. **

Tiger Eyes is about a teenage girl whose father is murdered at his cafe during a robbery. Her mother takes her and her younger brother to  New Mexico to stay with their childless, overprotective aunt and domineering uncle to recuperate. She meets a Native American boy whose father is dying. It's about surviving grief and learning to live again...my kind of movie. ****

Trainwreck with Amy Schumer. After seeing Sworn Virgin I figured I could use some raunchy comedy and as desperate as I was to watch an independent woman acting independently I assumed my tolerance for stupid humor would be high. Schumer plays a gender role reversal. She's very much a woman dressing in tight skirts and high heels, but acts like a man: drinking nonstop, sleeping around, refuses to stay the night, and has a repulsion for commitment. This behavior is explained in the first ten minutes. Eventually she meets someone and develops a relationship interest, but by that time I was bored out of my mind due to lack of humor and lack of interest. For some reason I expected more animation from Schumer. Acting is not her forte, but I've never seen her comedy shows so I don't know if humor is either. *

Very Good Girls is about two girls and their summer before college. They both fall for the same guy. One fantasizes about a relationship and talks about him all the time, while the other is actually in a relationship with him and never says a word. Lots of celebrities: Dakota Fanning, Ellen Barkin, Demi Moore, Richard Dreyfuss. I didn't care for the performances of the kids or maybe it was the script. Lots of unemotional long stares and awkward timing. **

Won't Back Down is about a failed school and its horrible, burnt out teachers. This movie blames the union because the teachers are constrained by union rules that keep them from working 60 hours a week and provide job protection that protects even the bad teachers from being fired. Not sure if I agree the union is the fault for the lousy teachers and apathetic parents, but it had a point and was a good movie. Maggie Gyllenhaal, who is one of my favorite actresses was in the lead role as a disgruntled mother of a dyslexic child. Viola Davis and Rosie Perez are teachers and Holly Hunter the union representative. ***

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

January Movie Reviews

*****   Exceptional
****     Great
***       OK
**         So So
*           Blah

Ain't Them Bodies Saints is about a young couple (Casey Affleck and Rooney Mara) who have robbed something. When the police surround them and they are engaged in a gun fight, the woman shoots an officer. She's pregnant. Her boyfriend gives up, takes the blame, goes to jail, and writes to her every day asking her to wait for him. After four years in prison he escapes and makes his way back, but a whole lot of people want to see him dead for reasons that weren't quite clear (other than he's done a lot of stupid stuff). Excellent performances. I have no idea what the title means. ***

Anita is the story of Anita Hill, the woman who was sexually harassed by Clarence Thomas who was head of the EEOC and later nominated to be a Supreme Court Justice. She came before a Senate committee to discuss her experience because she thought it was the right thing to do. The senators treated her like she was on trial and failed miserably at justice. Thomas played the race card and accused everyone of stereotypically discriminating against him and all those old, white senators backed off. He ended up being confirmed which makes me want to vomit, but it's no worse than idiots voting and electing a predator as president of the United States. It's incredibly embarrassing society has learned nothing in twenty years and any progress that has been made was wiped clean with one election. It was an excellent movie on integrity and how that experience affected Ms. Hill's life. ****

Anita  I just happened to come across this movie while looking for the above movie and read the first line of description: "Anita is the story of a young woman with Down syndrome..." OK. I assumed that was it. The first fifteen minutes or so we are introduced to Anita and watch how much she is dependent on her mother for care. We also  meet her adult brother and his wife. I almost turned it off not seeing where the plot might go (because I failed so miserably at reading rest of the description on the DVD case!), but then the next day mom takes Anita to the shop she runs (or owns) and leaves Anita locked in the shop while she runs an errand just down the street. Obviously she does this a lot, but I kept thinking Oh! that can't be good and Oh! The movie is about to get interesting. Anita doesn't want her to go but mother assures her she'll be back before the big hand on the clock points straight up (about 15 minutes). Well, the place blows up!! Terrorists bomb the office where mom ran her errand and it takes out the whole neighborhood. This was an actual event and the deadliest bomb in Argentine history. Anita, now able to get out of the shop since the windows are all shattered, wanders the streets of Buenos Aires. Initially she is scooped up by a medical patrol and shipped to the hospital across town and then she wanders away from the hospital because no one is bothering to keep an eye on her! She meets all kinds of people who half-ass help her only because she follows them around asking where her mother is or saying she's hungry. She spends too much time out on the cold street in the dark sitting in the rain not knowing what to do or being yelled at by people who are too stupid to figure out she needs help. You'd think someone would have called the police. It was very frustrating. It was a very moving story about survival against all odds. English subtitles. ***

As Cool As I Am is about a teenage girl and her dysfunctional family. Her mother's parents were killed when her mother was a teenager. Teenage mom hooks up with a teenage boy who was raised in an orphanage and they have a daughter together. Sixteen years later the father is home for a week every three months and her mother, bored but forbidden to get a job gets a job anyway and starts meeting men. In spite of all the dysfunction, the girl is rather well-adjusted and more mature than both of her parents combined, finding comfort in watching television chefs, cooking, and her new boyfriend who has been her best friend for the past ten years. The theme and reason for that weird title is kids from normal families are boring...kids from screwed up families are always interesting and cool. It's an interesting human relations story. ***

The Big Wedding is about a very blended family with ex-wives, adopted kids, birth mothers, philandering husbands, girlfriends, boyfriends, and how they all get along. All-star cast with Robert DeNiro, Katherine Heigl, Amanda Seyfriend, Topher Grace, Susan Sarandon, Robin Williams and Diane Keeton looked spectacular. It was incredibly boring. Not funny and not interesting, just boring. *

Blended is about a man (Adam Sandler) who's is raising three girls after his wife died and a woman (Drew Barrymore) who is raising two boys after her husband had an affair and she divorced him. Their first date is horrible, but the two families coincidentally end up on vacation together. Remove all the incredibly stupid humor and it would have been a good movie. It had some very sweet moments and tender scenes. ***

Boy takes place in 1984 in the New Zealand countryside where an eleven-year-old Michael Jackson fan, Boy, lives with his grandmother, little brother and four younger girl cousins. His little brother thinks he has strong superpowers because he caused their mother to die when she gave birth to him. His grandmother leaves for a week to attend a funeral (leaving all those little kids home alone!) and his father who has been in prison and shows up with his two loser friends in hopes of finding the money he stole and buried while trying to escape. The father is thirty going on ten years old, wears an army helmet, plays war, and Boy adores him. He brags to other kids about all the adventures his father has had, imagining various scenarios in his head. The reenactments of Michael Jackson videos are hilarious especially since they are set to indigenous music. It's a sweet story about an imaginative boy who wants to grow up. The accents were a little difficult to understand. ***

Crystal Fairy & The Magic Cactus is quite possibly the weirdest movie I've ever seen. LOL. Not interesting, just weird. It's about this American boy and his three Chilean friends and their quest for the San Pedro cactus which is an hallucinogen. They plan to leave for the beach, but at the party the night before they meet an American girl, Crystal Fairy, and in a drunken stupor, the American invites her to come along. The next morning he doesn't remember inviting her along and he's not happy about it. She's very bizarre with her New Age cosmic philosophies, but he's incredibly strange with his uptight geekiness. They clash constantly which adds to the irritation. At one point she returns to the room she's sharing with all these young men, fresh from the shower and walks around naked in front of them. They start calling her Crystal Hairy then Hairy Fairy.  They continue to the beach, searching for this cactus which is in everyone's yard, but no one wants to sell. Eventually they just steal one. They get to the beach, cook it up, drink the juice, and hallucinate. No great drama. I thought for sure they'd be vomiting all over or something. Crystal hikes up to the mountains, loses her clothes, then gets lost herself. It was very bizarre with very bizarre characters. Not sure what the point was. Not much of a plot or theme or message. Just irritating people doing irritating things. I must be getting old....**

Equity was about investments, hedgefunds, money, and sleazy Wall Street dealings...most of it went right over my head, but Anna Gunn who's character was an ambitious investment banker gave a great performance. **

The German Doctor was about Nazi doctor Josef Mengele's stay in Argentina with a family at their hotel during the 1960s. He is injecting their young, growth-stunted daughter with experimental growth hormones and her mother who is pregnant is given "vitamins".  He seems to have their best interests at heart and the Nazi followers around him idolize for being an outstanding doctor, but the end suggests he's been continuing the experiments he did in concentration camps. It was rather creepy especially with the dolls. Subtitles. ***

Ghostbusters (2016) with girls! Go girls! This, of course, is a modern remake of the original 1984 Ghostbusters. The original cast had cameo appearances: Dan Ackroyd was a cab driver, Bill Murray a ghost-debunking scientist, and Ernie Hudson was hearse-owning mortician. By the end of the movie I wondered how I missed Harold Ramis. I looked online -  he died in 2014, but all his children were in it so that was sweet. It had the goofy-stupid humor style Melissa McCarthy does so well with a few great LOL lines. The special effects were really good although perhaps overdone. I absolutely love Kate McKinnon. There is something so bizarre, original and wacky about her that is just hilarious. ***

Godzilla Way too much weird science and not enough human experience. I'm of the belief the basic theory needs to be somewhat plausible and this was too abstract and all-encompassing. If they can't make the science simple and secondary, then leave it out. The Godzilla beast was cool. He definitely wins the award for ugly, but the other weird looking alien things were too industrial looking - like robots or spaceships with talons. I still have no idea why all of a sudden these beasts were up and roaming civilization (Las Vegas!). The special effects weren't that good. The story was too convoluted and lacked in realism with little human emotion. The obvious death and mayhem wasn't even in the faces of the survivors. No one seemed to care...including me! *

The Hollars is about family. The mother (Margo Martindale, who I love) finds out she has a brain tumor and as she waits for surgery her husband and two sons keep her company.  Lots of odd characters, relationship issues, and a lovely dry humor. ***

In A World is about the voice-over industry and all their quirky personalities. Carol (Lake Bell) who's father is one of the voice-over kings,  is a voice coach and lands a voice-over job although she seems directionless, living with her father until he throws her out for his young girlfriend. I just couldn't get into it. It wasn't funny, it was a little boring and thirty-year-olds living at home irritate me. *

Midnight Special  Such a weird title for this movie.  It's about a little kid that does weird things...light beams come out of his eyes, pulling nuclear detection satellites from the sky, turning on cars. He can't go out in the sun without causing an earthquake and at night he wears goggles. A religious cult has been caring for him most of life and the leader has used the kid's information for his sermons, but that same information coincides with top secret government information so the FBI moves in. His father and father's friend "kidnap" him to take him someplace. They hook up with his mother and it's a mad chase to get him where he's supposed to be before the religious cult snatches him back or the FBI grabs him. Eventually he makes it known he's from an alternative universe where everyone there is like him, but they don't really clearly explain how he got to Earth or was born of these two Earthlings. It was a little too mysterious and far-fetched, not as interesting as I would have expected. ***

Money Monsters is a financial investment television show hosted by (George Clooney) and produced by (Julia Roberts). In the middle of a live episode a young, disgruntled investor who has lost his meager inheritance after taking the host's advice to invest in a major company  takes the host hostage, forces him to wear a bomb vest, and demands answers. Lots of movies about the sleazy world of investing lately. There was one scene where the host tries to get the public to buy the stocks in order to get back the lost $800 million dollars and save his life. I thought, Oh, so Hollywood...but the problem with this is America is a country filled with apathetic deplorables who thrive on hate and would rather see someone die on TV for the fun of it than help them.  For a moment expecting an idealistic Hollywood feel-good moment, I almost lost interest and then the unimaginable happened...not only did the public NOT buy stocks, but the stocks went down so I assume the public sold their stocks just to see this guy die! HAHAHA Very realistic! Welcome to the world of Dump and this was before he was elected. Good movie. ***

The Reluctant Fundamentalist is about a Pakistani man who wants the American dream, goes to Princeton, gets a job at a hedgefund as a financial analyst of companies, becomes very successful...and then 9/11 happens. He's constantly harassed by airport security and police officers, discriminated at every turn. It discourages and "hardens" him (his description). Feeling like he has lost his identity, he quits his very prestigious job, goes back to Pakistan, and becomes a popular professor at the local university.  When a professor at his university is kidnapped by extremists, the CIA, with no evidence whatsoever, believe he had something to do with it and send it a foreign correspondent to get information in the guise of an interview.  Extremely intriguing story of distrust and discrimination based on ethnicity. Riz Ahmed is absolutely GORGEOUS! All-star cast, perfect performances, very well done. ****

'71 is about a young British soldier on his first ever deployment. They send him to Belfast in the middle of the Catholic/Protestant conflict to try to "keep the peace". He finds his unit is there to support the Protestant terrorism of the Catholic neighborhoods. A riot breaks out in retaliation for the military abuse, he is separated from his unit, and they leave him there. How does he survive in a hostile environment? The PIRA are trying to find him to kill him and the Protestant Military Reaction Force (MRF) are trying to find him supposedly to get him back to his unit, but there is a whole lot of back-alley deals being made between the factions so it was impossible to know who he could trust. What a mess. Great performances. Horrible history. I went to Belfast in the 1980s and it was a war zone. I stayed one stressful night and left early the next day. Too scary. ***

The Shallows or "Jaws 2016". It's pretty gruesome. Girl (Blake Lively) goes alone to secluded, secret beach for some surfing, gets attacked by a ginormous shark but manages to swim to a little rock 200 feet from the beach.  Shark circles around for the next twenty-four hours watching for an arm or leg, and of course, the tide goes low (lots of rock) but then it goes high and the rock starts to disappear. Shark also snacks on three unsuspecting people who get in the water while the girl is stranded. The first guy he kills I cheered, Serves you right, sleaze bag asshole!  I guess I am cold-hearted. The beach is stunning as is the girl - I would like very much to look like that in a bikini although I'm still dumbfounded how it stays on her when she's swimming. The shark is pure horror, of course. This movie is not for anyone with a weak constitution. I considered not seeing it, but I am not much of an ocean swimmer anyway so I figured why not. Excellent photography especially the underwater camera work. Legs dangling, arms waving...everything looks like a tasty morsel to a shark. ****

Sleepers is about four boys growing up in Hell's Kitchen. They do something really dumb and end up in a school for boys where the sadistic guards torture, beat, and sexually assault them repeatedly. Thirteen years later two of the boys who are street thugs (Ron Eldard and Billy Cruddup) run into one of the guards (Kevin Bacon) at a restaurant and shoot him dead.  Another boy (Brad Pitt) who is now a District Attorney volunteers to be the prosecuting attorney devises a brilliant scheme to expose the boys' school. The fourth boy (Jason Patric) works with him to carry out the plan and take down the remaining guards. The all-star cast includes Robert DeNiro, Dustin Hoffman, and Minnie Driver. They are all so young! Ah ha! I now remember why we were so ga-ga over Brad Pitt. Excellent performances, outstanding movie, but disturbing story. *****

10,000 Saints Set in the 1980s, Asa Butterfield is an adopted, yet semi-fatherless teen who has a drug problem. After a night of partying, his best friend dies from a drug overdose and the one night stand is pregnant with the best friend's child.  They all end up in New York  with Asa's dad and the best friend's brother trying to make sense of life. Ethan Hawke plays the father. He's an hilariously easy going stoner with few parental skills and no filter. Great role for him. ***

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Women's March Olympia 1/21/2017

The Olympia Women's March expected about 2,500 people - they got 10,000! I was one of them! Because the organizers expected so few people the route was very short...by the time we got back to the beginning, there were people still waiting to start. Lots of people chanting and singing, carrying signs and wearing pussy hats. I regret I did not have my own pussy hat. Everyone was very cheerful in spite of the rain, but even the sun showed up for about an hour!

There was a designated protest song posted on the march's website. I practiced it, but then I couldn't find anyone who was singing! So I went searching and found my people. Here is the YouTube version of the song, written and sung by Melanie DeMore called "Put One Foot in Front of the Other." It's very catchy. I'm happy I got the chance to join a sing-a-long!

I am very happy to be on the right side of history and this was an outstanding opportunity to be with like-minded, intelligent people.


Sunday, January 1, 2017

2016: Review and Resolution

Is it really the end of the year? 
I can't decide if it flashed by or if it drug on mercilessly.


1) FRAGRANCE-FREE FRIENDS. Thank you to the people in my life who are non-toxic, social, and supportive. Especially the ones who email me all the time and keep me sane in my isolation. Thank you for the much needed communication.

2) ZIPPY! I still love Zippy. Great gas mileage, still running, and no problems.

3) HEALTH. I feel great for the most part and my latest blood labs came back outstanding. No thyroid exhaustion or other debilitating symptoms. I can thank the Paleo with a Hashimoto's Twist Diet for this success and I am still amazed I found something that really worked.

4) GARDEN - OH. MY. GOD. My garden was sensational. I finally ran out of carrots about a week ago and they were beautiful. My lettuce was the best it's ever been. The apples on my tree went crazy and I was giving away bags of them. My cherry and plum trees were fruitful. Few bugs and slugs and creepy crawlies eating more than I do. I think I finally figured out the secrets to success.

5) ART STUFF.  I went to an artists' studios tour in a neighboring town and met all kinds of fun people. Then I joined a drawing group. We get together once every other week and draw stuff. Few people wear anything smelly and only once was I unable to go into a location due to air fresheners. It can be intimidating, stressful, and embarrassing since most of these people are professional artists, but I look forward to it and it serves as a much needed opportunity for socializing.

6) HOUSE. My house is safe and lovely, old and dependable. I'd still really love to move to some place smaller and in a different area, but until I am able to do so, this house is a life saver.

7) COB HOUSE TOUR. I went on the cob house tour in southern Oregon. I've wanted to do that for years. It was fun and interesting.

8) PERSONAL LEGACY. I voted for Hillary Clinton and I am proud to be on the right side of history. I would not want to be the person who voted for Hitler and had to make embarrassing excuses for my bad behavior for the rest of my deplorable life.

9) MY BLOG. As always it provides entertainment, communication and therapy. Although there have been moments I think I should delete it and most of my posts are now limited to the latest articles, occasional political rant, or my monthly movie reviews, it's my hope that all the old posts may still help chemical sensitive newbies find their way so the blog stays.


1) MONEY. I'm happy to make money, I'm not happy I don't make enough. No matter how much I work, there is never enough and it seems to dwindle a little more every year.

2) DOCTORS. I made a New Year's resolution last year to avoid doctors and I succeeded in spending absolutely nothing on health care for twelve months! I'm happy to have one year of absolutely no expense, frustration, and anger that comes with cavorting with doctors, However, I'm perpetually pissed about the incompetence of the medical system so I put "Doctors" in the Not Sure category since happiness and anger tend to cancel each other out.

2) WORK. I'm happy to be working for the money, I just wish I was independently wealthy so I didn't have to work.


1) DUMP. Hateful, vengeful, shortsighted, incredibly stupid Americans elected to the presidency a misogynistic, sexist, racist, ignorant, sociopathic con-artist who acts like a twelve year old most of the time. This isn't even an issue of politics. In the past when my candidate didn't win, I still had confidence the president-elect was experienced, competent, professional, and had the country's best interests at heart even if his politics were different. I, like many others, have no confidence in this buffoon who's main form of communication is pathological lying peppered with insults, rants, temper tantrums, and disrespectful bullying as he tweets like an immature teenager. Even the Bushes did not vote for this ass. That's saying something.

Along the same lines, Russians are reading my blog. The last time I checked my stats Americans logged in 1240 times and Russians 786! All other nationalities are in the single or double digits. So weird. Why are Russians in my business now? And I'm writing about the Dump again so I'm sure the Russian stats will increase. I'll never understand why the stupid of my country voted for the Dump. I can only hope he will be impeached for: 1) his outstanding debts 2) lawsuits against him 3) investigations into his fraudulent foundation 4) improper foreign protocol, 5) business conflicts of interest and/or 6) overall bad behavior that he can't seem to control. He's bound to slip up. He can't help it. We can only hope.


Well, obviously the crappy stuff outweighs the good stuff. Dump's win has changed the country and not for the better: Hate is rampant and it's a free for all where etiquette and respect are optional. Environmental issues are being touted as a figments of everyone's imagination and there is absolutely no hope anyone would ever give a rat's ass about chemical sensitivity with Dump promoting big business over morality. The medical system will continue to be useless, but insurance benefits will disappear. Women are now considered second class citizens to be objectified and abused at the whim of any white male pig or their philandering husbands. Immigrants and Jewish people are treated like garbage with homosexuals treated worse.  It's a totally different country now devoid of kindness and hope. It's not surprising to anyone that the Dump revoked all his campaign promises including "Make America Great Again". The Trumptards were so played.

Dump's New Year's greeting to the country:

Happy New Year to all, including to my many enemies and those who have fought me and lost so badly they just don't know what to do. Love!

What a despicable, deplorable human being taunting people like a third grader. Compare it to Obama's New Year's message of hope:

Hooray Obama! Isn't he like thirty years younger than the Dump? He's not going away quietly. For that I am thankful. Add that to my list of GOOD things and that alone far outweighs all the bad stuff. Also, Baba Vanga, Bulgarian psychic who predicted our 44th president would be African American, also predicted he would be our last American president. Hmmm...Dump isn't going to the White House! I've never wanted to believe a psychic so much in all my life!!!


Throw a party when the Dump is impeached or whatever happens that keeps him from being president.


Saturday, December 31, 2016

December Movie Reviews

*****   Exceptional
****     Great
***       OK
**         So So
*           Blah

Allegiant is the fourth in the Divergent series.  A civil war is brewing between the remaining factions and the Divergent group go beyond the wall to see what is out there. Great series. Lots of action and strong women roles. ****

Austenland is about a Jane Austen fanatic, "Jane", who has grown up in love with Jane Austen books. Now as an adult, she re-reads, re-lives, or re-watches the stories constantly in her apartment surrounded by 18th century British everything and is perpetually single because she lives her life in this fantasy. She decides to spend her life savings on a vacation to the Austenland resort which guarantees total cultural immersion and romance. Unfortunately she can only afford the cheap rate: accommodations in the servant's quarters, dowdy dresses, no extras. The other women are caricatures of comedy, goofy, silly to the point of irritation. The resort actors paid to woo them are equally animated. The first half of the movie I kept thinking whoever wrote this HATES Jane Austen fans. However, Jane keeps taking walks on the grounds in order to escape the boredom of perpetual needle point, the irritation of the cackling guests, or the frustration of being treated like she is second class. She meets one of the hired help and begins her own private romance away from the manor with the stable boy. Then the scowling, gorgeous Mr. Darcy-like character flirts. She begins to feel confused between reality and fantasy. There were times the stupid humor was irritating and I think the main character could have been written better. Well, the whole movie could have been written better as it had way more potential than what it delivered, but I liked the idea and I liked the climax where the fantasy all comes falling down around her. ***

The Answer Man is about an author who writes a book called Me and God filled with questions to and answers from God. Everyone thinks he talks to God and his fans besiege him for answers to their burning questions.  He's an angry guy and somewhat reclusive secluded in his stunning New York apartment lined with bookshelves. He spends much of his time trying to figure out how to really talk to God. Then he starts interacting with people and those encounters change his life. It was good . ****

Birth is about a widow (Nicole Kidman) whose husband has been dead for ten years and she's about to remarry. A ten-year old boy shows up on her doorstep, claims to be her dead husband, and begs her not to marry as it would be a mistake. He convincingly knows intimate details of her life and her dead husband's life.  The whole thing is very weird. First, the woman's family invites the kid to stay with them. Personally I'd be curious, but I'd be appropriately creeped out and wouldn't invite him for overnights. If your kid started acting weird and a strange family invited him to move in with them, would you think that is acceptable? Second, Nicole is naked in the bath and this ten-year old walks into the bathroom, undresses and climbs into the bath with her. That was really, really creepy. Watching this grown woman who is convinced he is her dead husband and plans to run away with him was all very pedophilic and creepy. ***

The BoxTrolls What amazing animation! It was all puppetry. The characters were so outstanding and well-developed in their evilness or adorableness. Their facial features and the way they moved were mesmerizing. The special effects for the sets were outstanding, too. Darling story. ****

A Case of You is about a writer who has a crush on a barista at the local coffee shop. He stutters and gets tongue tied every time he's around her because he is so insecure. To compensate he finds her Facebook page and studies everything she likes so that when they do finally officially meet, it will appear as if they have everything in common and she will think he is the perfect man. I remember discussing this phenomenon with a friend years ago and how many people early in relationships will not be themselves and instead be the person they think the love interest wants them to be. I think she called it "reflecting." I spent most of my youth reflecting... Anyway, his past demons do reveal themselves so the audience understands why he is so insecure and afraid, and of course, she makes the mistake of telling him she's falling in love with him...which he doesn't trust because, after all, she doesn't know him. It was a very creative and interesting take on the love story genre. ****

Cold Mountain  How many times have I seen this movie? I've lost count. So outstanding. It's definitely one of my top ten movies of all time. *****

The Cove is about the slaughter of dolphins in Japan, the activists who are trying to stop it and the Japanese who are trying to cover it up so they can continue because they are greedy and violent. Dolphins are considered pests that eat the fish supply. The movie discusses the levels of mercury in dolphin meat, but how the Japanese are trying to sell the dolphin meat to the mandatory school lunch programs. The lead activist is Ric O'Barry who bought, trained and cared for the Flipper dolphins in the 1960s which started the dolphin show craze contributing to their exploitation, has been working for the last 35 years to free captive dolphins and stop the slaughters. Excellent, yet horrifying movie. So sad. I can't get the bright blood red water out of my head. Humans are so horrible. ****

Dear Eleanor is about a young girl who's mother runs to a meeting to introduce Eleanor Roosevelt, gets hit by a car, and dies never getting to give her introduction. The daughter and her best friend road trip from California to New York so she can give her mother's speech to the First Lady. It was about mourning and closure. The grief was good, but the rest was very goofy and unrealistic...they pick up an escape convict. Hmmm.... The scenery was beautiful. **

Delores Claiborne I know I've seen this movie before many years ago, but I couldn't remember it at all. It's about a housekeeper (Kathy Bates) accused of murdering her employer and a vindictive detective who tried to have her indicted for murdering her husband many years before. I love the quote "Sometimes being a bitch is all a woman has to hang on to." Excellent story and lots of intrigue. Kathy Bates was superb. All performances were excellent. ****

Dirty Grandpa is with Robert DeNiro and Zac Efron. I had grave reservations about this movie and worried it would be incredibly stupid. Someone at the library said it was really funny. No, it was really stupid. I didn't even get to the point where Zac Efron takes his shirt off, and you know he does. Not sure why this kid who is a very good actor is in all these bad movies. *

Easy A is about an intelligent, witty, although invisible high school student (Emma Stone) who lies to her best friend telling her she is busy so she can get out of going camping with her and her weird parents. It escalates when she continues the lie and pressed by the friend, falsely admits to losing her virginity. Word travels fast. To compound her fall from grace, her English class is reading The Scarlet Letter, hence the film's title. Clever tie-in. I always like a good title. Since she now has the reputation of being the school slut, she decides to dress and play the part. Her gay friend asks if she'd pretend to have sex with him so he can pretend he's straight so the bullies would leave him alone. It snowballs from there when all the school's misfits hear about her willingness to sacrifice her reputation and they start paying her to help them spread rumors about their sexual desirability to increase their popularity. It was very creative and well-written. All-star cast. I love her parents - I wish I had parents like that. ***

Freeheld is the story of New Jersey detective Laurel Hester (Julianne Moore) who as she was dying from cancer was refused pension benefits for her domestic partner (Ellen Page). This is about her fight for equality which lead to gay marriage rights. Great performances. Moore's wig was cheap, ugly and a distraction. I know they were trying to make her look like the person the story was based on, but couldn't they find a wig that looked like real hair?? Who wears their hair like 1970s Farrah Faucett in 2006? ***

Four Christmases is about Reese Witherspoon and Vincent Vaughn who for years have lied to their four families telling them they do international volunteer work during Christmas.  They end up stranded at the airport during a snow storm and are interviewed by a TV news station about their trip to Fuji. Feeling slightly guilty but only because they were caught in the lie, they begrudgingly spend Christmas visiting their four dysfunctional families. I love the line "you can't spell families without lies." LOL **

Get a Job is about a group of young adults (featuring Miles Teller and Anna Kendrick) just out of college who are all trying to figure out how to get jobs. The underlying theme addresses the entitlement of this generation who have grown up getting awards for nothing, good grades for mediocrity,  trophies for losing, and praise for just existing. They carry this self-gratification, apathetic attitude into the job market. They have no concept of actual success, professional behavior, or working toward a goal. Bryan Cranston plays a father with an old-school work ethic who has lost his job and now has to compete with this younger generation. It has some LOL moments. Love the kid who gets a job as a middle school chemistry teacher. ***

Guernica was an historical fiction based on the true events of the massacre of a Spanish village just before WWII by the Nazis who were experimenting with new methods of warfare. Good story, lots of human interest to make you feel the pain and suffering. Beautiful scenery. Nazis were disgusting. The Spanish government has never apologized to the survivors of this village. ****

Holiday Inn with Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire. I can't believe I've never seen this classic movie. I thought I saw them all. Other than the dancing and the singing which was passable, the story line was fairly appalling. Conniving asshole purposely and repeatedly steals girlfriends away from the nice guy. It was horrible. And the quote, "Women has to have things told the right way"...because they are too stupid to figure it out otherwise. Black face performances. The staging was horrible. In one scene the two actors who were talking to each other had their backs to the camera the whole time. Entertainment has come a long way since 1942. **

I Have Never Forgotten You is a documentary about Holocaust survivor and Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal. Lots of film footage, excellent story, wonderful man. ****

The Invention of Lying is about how the world would be if nobody lied. It was very depressing with people throwing insults at one another and telling them exactly what they think of them. Then the main character (Ricky Gervais) discovers lying and his whole life changes as he becomes better at it. While trying to comfort his dying mother who is afraid of the great unknown of eternity, he invents the concept (lie) of heaven and the "man in the sky" who makes everyone happy. It was very thought provoking.  The message I got was lying produces a much better and happier existence. All-star cast, even the bit parts were played by celebrities. ***

Joy is the story of Joy Mangano who invented the self-wringing Miracle Mop and sold it on infomercials with much success. She starts out a wife, mother, daughter, and granddaughter supporting several generations of her dysfunctional family and in horrible debt. As a child she grew up with a very active imagination creating inventions, but with more and more responsibility all that creativity was squelched. She's constantly being told she's incapable and then allows her relatives to screw up her life at every turn. It takes her a while to find her strength. Jennifer Lawrence who is one of my favorite actresses is, as usual, brilliant. Also included are Robert DeNiro, Bradley Cooper, Diane Ladd, and Isabella Rossellini. It was a good human relations story about perseverance. Really bad title lacking in creativity. ***

Love the Coopers was a Christmas-themed story about a dysfunctional family who goes through the motions of familyhood but they lie, mistrust, and resent each other as they meet for the holiday dinner. (Common Christmas theme for the modern movie....) The all-star cast made the performances excellent. It had two problems. The first was the narration. It was irritating and I kept thinking the writer must not have had any confidence that the dialogue was good enough to describe the characters and tell the story. I found it very strange and distracting. Then there was the family dog. Big, ugly mutt who was allowed to jump up and eat food off counters, jump up on tables and eat food off plates, and jump on people sitting in chairs and eat their food. This went on THROUGHOUT the whole movie. It was disgusting and unnecessary which indicated the writer was probably some bad dog owner who thought a bad behaving dog would be a gimmick to save the plot, again, indicating no confidence in the story. Bad dog owners always think everyone loves a dog. Now I kept trying to make sense of this idiotic inclusion and could only see it as a symbol of the family dysfunction. Bad parents are always bad dog owners and vice versa. They are incapable of raising well-adjusted children and for the same reasons don't have the intelligence and are too lazy to train and socialize a dog. Maybe that was the point? Then near the end the grandfather is watching his family and thinking wonderful thoughts and I thought, Oh, he must have been the narrator? I still didn't see the point of the narration though. Well, no, the very last scene is at the Christmas tree with only the DOG looking out the window at the neighbors' houses with neighbor dogs looking out their windows. The fucking DOG is the narrator of the story!  It makes absolutely NO SENSE whatsoever and there was no connection between the movie themes and the dog. Remove the idiotic dog and the idiotic dog narration and it would have been a great movie. The dog was a cheap shot. ***

The Meddler is with Susan Sarandon who plays a Brooklyn widow who moves to Los Angeles to be near her daughter. She is overwhelmingly needy and obviously lonely. The underlying reason for this constant "meddling" is she is mourning the death of her husband and is most definitely lonely and directionless.  It's a great story about growing old and finding one's place in the world after the death of a loved one. Sarandon had a great Brooklyn accent. ***

Meet Me in Montenegro is an unusual love story about a screenwriter who was deserted by a woman years prior after a whirlwind six week romance in Montenegro. She left no reason in her note and he was devastated. Years later after a break up with another woman, he is sent to Berlin for a meeting as a last ditch effort to resurrect his filmmaking career and meets the woman from years past by accident. In three days he is to return to L.A. and she is heading to Budapest. Great art. I kept thinking how wonderful to be young and foolish and carefree... ***

Meet My Valentine was about a control freak who finds out he has brain cancer and less than a year to live. He decides he wants to find and approve of his wife's next husband and his daughter's new father so he puts his wife's profile on a dating sight and starts interviewing men. When he has to list her interests on the website, he has no idea which speaks to how they have grown apart. She's has decided although she loves him she no longer likes him and is considering separation. His new-found interest in her sparks a romantic rekindling. I totally get the purpose behind his plan, but it was a little unrealistic if he thought he could keep his illness from his wife and then do all this work to find her a man WITHOUT her approval. Sounds like a disaster waiting to happen. Needless to say it was very sentimental. Good performances. ***

The Perfect Man is about a man (Liev Schreiber) who is a pathological philanderer and his wife (Jeanne Tripplehorn) who finally gets fed up and leaves him. He's lost without her, crying, drinking, stumbling around. She wants to figure out why he is the way he is so she pretends she's a random, accidental caller and engages him in conversation. I don't know. I don't have much respect for men who have no respect for women and then whine and carry on like babies when they lose the ones they love nor do I have any respect for women who allow men to act like turds. I just can't give him an excuse and call it OK. ***

See You In the Morning 1989 Jeff Bridges and Farrah Faucet when they are young. Really boring. Nice 1980s clothes. *

The Silent Storm is about a minister on a deserted Scottish Island who's brain has been warped by thinking too much about the Devil. There is some strange history with his wife which leads one to believe she is in debt to him in some way. She's a closeted herbalist, or, according to the minister, of evil persuasion. He's religiously abusive. "OBEDIENCE IS GODLY!" A teenage orphan who has been labeled as a SINNER is sent to live with them so the minister can beat the Devil out of him through work and prayer. Before he is able to abuse the kid too much, the minister hears the call of God and craziness takes over. God told him he must dismantle his entire church, tied it to the fishing boat, and haul it to the mainland. He leaves the young man with his young wife alone together...and you know that was not a smart move. Beautiful scenery, great performances. Religious people are insane. ***

Star Wars: The Force Awakens  A week or so ago by chance I found out that Adam Driver was the bad guy in the latest Star Wars movie. Really? Adam a bad guy. With all that charming quirkiness he's usually in comedies. I ordered it from the library and while waiting for its arrival Princess Leia died. Watching it was my mourning ritual to honor her. Anyway, I failed miserably as a Star Wars fan. I think I saw the first two movies only because my best friend was a fanatic, but then I lost interest. This one was fun. It has all the adventure and excitement of the original movies, but the heroes are older! They  looked great too, Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill (teeny tiny role!), and especially Carrie Fisher. As always I love the multicultural themes - all those species living and working together in harmony. Of course, the plot is left wide open for another sequel. I don't think Adam died...he'll be back. Great role for him. The night I watched it Debbie Reynolds died and it felt like my childhood died right along with her. I normally don't bawl like a baby when celebrities die, but this time I did. ****

Stonewall is a historical fiction based on the 1968 riots in New York that mark the beginning of the gay rights movement.  Great presentation on the civil rights issues and great performances. So sad how families have rejected their children forcing them out of their homes and on the streets. ****

Tenderness is about a teenage psychopath who gets off on the intimacy of killing women. He gets released early from prison and meets a stalker-girl who has been obsessed with him. Russell Crowe plays the detective who was on his case and tracks him after his release. The opening introduction is very intriguing with Crowe narrating about two types of people in the world: those who chase pleasure and those who are running from pain. Interesting movie. ***

Too Die For is about Suzanne Stone (Nicole Kidman) an exceedingly ambitious woman obsessed with being on TV as a reporter or news anchor. Her new husband (Matt Dillon) wants her to stay home, help run the family business, and pop out a few kids. She resents his attempt to deprive her of her dream. While filming a television special on teens, she begins an affair with Joaquin Phoenix (who is very young in this movie!) and manipulates him into killing her husband. Kidman's performance is amazing and she is stunningly gorgeous with her perfectly presentable clothing and well-coifed hair. ***

Unbroken is the story of Louie Zamporini, Olympic medalist in track who survived being stranded in a lifeboat for over a month after being shot down in the Pacific during World War II, then captured and tortured and kept in a prison camp by a Japanese psychopath. Amazing story. It never ceases to amaze me that people can be so absolutely horrible to others. Humans disgust me. ****

Winter's Tale I'm not even sure where to begin with this one. It's about a man (Colin Farrell) in 1915 who falls in love with a girl who is dying, but there is this battle between good and evil. Everyone has one miracle to give, but the demon who resides over New York hates goodness.... Or something. It was as weird as my description sounds. There was a whole lot of time travel although it didn't make much sense. It had an all-star supporting cast: William Hurt, Russell Crowe and Eva Saint Marie. (Where has she been all these years?) and then Will Smith shows up as Lucifer. Really!! He's got a great voice for the Head Devil. Great sets and atmosphere. The flying white horse was outstanding. It was a little too fantasic for me to wrap my head around, but it was definitely interesting especially with all that tear-jerking death. ***