Wednesday, March 28, 2012

And Jerry Mathers, As The Silent Prophet

EVENT-UALLY, I COME to the con-clusion that I need a comfort food, and for me, this is one of the comfort-iest. I don't care if that's not a word; it describes how I feel about this beast, which is cracked black pepper turkey, thick sliced bacon, and American cheese, on white bread, with Gulden's spicy brown mustard and Plochman's Kosciusko. Now, in this day and age, where "If you do that, you'll go to hell" has been replaced by "If you eat that, you're killing the earth" (or, conversely, "If you eat that, your body will disintegrate"), there are at least five or six reasons this ought to make me feel guilty, but I don't care. It makes me happy. I was just going to say something along the lines of "I don't mean to speak for others," but, in fact, I don't speak for others. I think I should eat whatever makes me happy. If, one day, I find my viscera leaking through my shoes, then I'll apologize. To whoever.
The beers, on the other hand. The Sara I actually bought to replace the White Hawk, which I bought gleefully when I found it on sale for eight bucks a carrier. I've long been a fan of the Medocino Brewing Co., but this one . . . It's good, but it seems a little slipshod. I guess. Maybe I was expecting too much.
In other news, I hated loving this.
This is one of those movies that I have had on the to-do list forever. But, firstly, it's not something the Wifey would want to watch, and secondly, I often have a problem with historical interpretations. I mean, I know this stuff; don't screw with it for the sake of morality or entertainment or just to be evil and create enemies we can all agree on. But this was one fictional creation built on strong bones, and cut pretty close to them as well. And my favorite moment in the film had very little to do with the historical material. I found myself looking at the screen and thinking "Who the HELL is that? I KNOW that face." It was Cate Blanchett. Take it as a compliment, Cate. You really do know how to disappear into a role.
But, more to the point, all of the performances were top notch, and only one of the characters rang false (there was one character amongst the woman prisoners who was set up to represent all of the minor failings someone in this situation might face, which wasn't done badly per se, but just got old after awhile). (And although I know all the other women in the camp had to come of ass Ordinary Saints, but come on! There wasn't just one person being petty, personal, judgemental, lazy, manipulative, oh, Fudgesicles! Never mind. I'm bored again.)

On the other hand, I loved being mildly entertained by this!
The Wifey put this in the Netflix queue some time back, just on impulse, and I think based on the novelty of having both Jet Li and Jackie Chan, and we popped it in the other night on the grounds that neither of us was really in the mood to pick something to watch on TV. And in that context, it worked like gangbusters! This is one of those things where you don't have to follow the plot, because it'll follow you. It makes no sense outside itself, but it'll tell you what its up to every fifteen minutes or so. They start out with an underdog white kid in Southie, set Jackie up in a nifty little run-down pawnshop, set up villans to take down, and then BOOM! We're in Plotz Dynasty China watching the Monkey King face down the Jaded Warrior. (Sorry! JADE Warrior. Or General, or something.) And then journey, fight, bait, journey, fight, bait, until the word MAUDLIN is completely obscured. And although it suffered from the same problem as almost every Kung Fu movie ever made-- eventually, no matter how impressive the choreography is, the staged fighting gets old; one of these people should be DEAD by now-- it still moved right along. It'd be wrong to say that two hours streamed by seamlessly, but it did, in fact, fill the time. But it also made me feel bad. I knew that Chan and Li had multiple roles in it, but it also had a whole slew of famous Fu actors in it, which lead to me doing alot of this: "Hey hey! It's Jackie again! Ooop-- wait! That's not him, that's someone else." Which was just freakin' embarrassing.
But I don't recommend it. I can eat this sandwich. But if YOU eat this sandwich, you'll go to hell. And if you drink Menocino beer, the world will cease to turn and one side will burn while the other side freezes. Paradise Road contains strong scenes of brutality and atrocities that ACTUALLY OCCURRED DURING THE WAR. And I know some folk would rather not think about those sorts of things. And the kung foo stuff is very fun and very pretty, but, Jesus, people! One of you ought to be in TRACTION by now! Whoever you are.

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Friday, March 02, 2012

You Can't Lose If You Don't Play

I LOVE NEW YORK. Last night I had the oppor-tunity to take the matter up with someone who professed the opposite, and with every turn, he seemed to have to admit that any grounds for NOT loving New York-- the crowds, the noise, the smells-- and OH, are there smells-- can be caveatted. This, for instance, is a pastrami on rye from the Stage Deli at 47th and Broadway, ingredients for which the Wifey brought back for me at the conclusion of her trip yesterday. They packed it all as componentry-- bread, meat, mustard, pickles-- and there was enough meat that I was able to have one for a late lunch yesterday afternoon, and then cobble one together with Arnold rye and some Ploughman's Polish mustard. I love New York. A pastrami on rye from the Stage Deli is a pure, bold truth. You cannot convince me otherwise.

This is not the film of the day, although it could have been. I watched this over a week ago, and thought almost instantly I could review it in two words: good enough. Which describes everything: the script, the direction, the acting, the characters, the dialogue. It's all good enough. Especially the characters. With one single exception, this film is populated with people who mean well in the Carlinian sense. (And the one who didn't mean well was so sharply drawn that I winced just about every time she came on screen, before even a single line of dialogue was spoken.) It had the unmistakable feel of a faked up real world, one that has been fiddled and jiggered with so that everyone comes out just all right, having made sacrifices to do so, sure, but all right nonetheless. But see, that's not really a criticism. It's a summation. And all it really tells you about the movie is that it's easy to watch. The only other thing I have to add requires a quick explanation. We are fond of saying, in our household, of various actors, "I'd watch So-And-So (insert mundane task here)." I would never thought to have said it, but I have now watched Paul Giamatti plunge a toilet, and it's the only piece of acting I have ever seen him do that struck me as gimmicky.

This is the film of the day. It popped into rotation a coupla weeks ago, and I knew sooner or later I'd get around to it. And, as predicted-- as I predicted, back when this came out in theaters and was an instant Oscar buzz-- it couldn't help but be compelling, given the subject matter. Here's something that doesn't get said enough: the royalties of Europe, all of them, gave Germany every opportunity not to wage war, but Hitler was bound and determined to do so, and utterly convinced that the inevitable outcome would be the conquest of the globe by the German armies. That bastard was crazy.

Anyways. The major knock against this when it hit theaters was that there were parts that were probably not completely accurate, which is kind of a bum rap, because those bits would have happened behind closed doors and would not have been recorded for posterity. And also that the speech therapist in question may have been more charlatan than scientist, but I never got hold of anything that substantiated that-- or, frankly, disproved it either, which is odd. But this was a good enough entertainment for a lunchtime. Which is an odd thing, too. Given the source material. Towards the end, I found myself thinking "You know what would go down nicely after this? A Fish Called Wanda." (You know, because of Michael Palin's beautiful stutter job.) Yeah. That kind of sums it up.
So while I am sure that no one reading this could have any doubts as to my recommendation regarding the sandwich-- oh, and by the way, starting with the boho black and finishing with the IPA worked splendidly as well-- I am equally sure that you can figure out my recommendations regarding the films. Which is: meh. You could get it at the grocery store and do as well.

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