Monday, August 20, 2012

Another letter to Grandma


    It was nice to spend some time with you on Saturday. I've been "home" for nearly six months and it's certainly been strange. There are things that are exactly the same and a lot that is different. It's funny how time makes you appreciate things. I'll be another year older tomorrow, but I am still very much the little boy that didn't grow up.

  Walking through Oakley still makes me feel like the little boy who used to spend his summer days taking a bus all over the city with you. That little boy always knew that a G.I. Joe or Star Wars toy would come at the end of the trip, but it's the man that now just appreciates that time together. I would trade all the wealth in the world for another day like that.

  I walked through the little town that you and Grandpa are resting in and I cannot believe how much it looks the same. Some of the stores are gone, but the little restaurant where you would take me for lunch is still there. I didn't eat there, but I remember playing songs on the jukebox and crinkle cut french fries.

 It was a much more simple time then. I remember when you would tell me how things were in your day and at the time I probably didn't think much of it. I am not sure what you would think of the world these days. You used to talk to almost everyone you met regardless of whether you knew them or not. People don't seem to that these days. The world has become a place where most of the people care about themselves more than anyone else. I bet you'd be able to find the good people. You seemed to always know how to do that.

 My new job is going well. I made myself a promise when I took it that I would not become jaded and bitter like I was in Michigan. Phoenix was supposed to be the place to start over with a purpose, but there wasn't the right opportunity for me. Dayton has been good for me. I've been challenged from a career standpoint and on a personal one.

 I meet and have met a lot of people in my job. They range from good and decent people who are trying to better themselves and their little corners of the world to people who pretend to be helping people, but in the end are really only helping their own bank accounts. I've stopped judging though. It's a better job for someone else. I have practiced being a better person and I hope it shows.  Maybe it's being here in this place.

 It's strange to be alone again. I started drawing again for the first time in forever. I remember being at your house on Ferdinand Place and always drawing pictures of Batman. I am not sure that back then it looked like Batman, but I can say that I've gotten better. I liked that house. I never told you,but I wished you and Grandpa would have never sold it. I drove down that street a couple of weeks ago. It was a great place to grow up. I couldn't be happier watching the Reds nearly everyday.

 Mio's pizza is still there and I confess that I ordered one for old times sake. I will always be partial to Larosa's, but it wasn't bad. I have reconnected with Tim and it's good thing. I think we learn who real friends are over time. I wish that it would've taken less years to reconnect, but real friends pick up where they left off regardless of the passage of time or the turbulence along the way. It's good to see my friend happy.

Life is certainly different. I am alone a lot of the time. No pugs and no Lauren. It's a strange feeling to wake up alone. It's a strange feeling to have to manufacture noise. I miss them. I wish you could meet them. They have done what no one else has been able to do and that is to make me less selfish. I wish that would've happened sooner, but timing is a strange thing and it's usually for a purpose.

 Arizona was fun. It didn't workout like we had planned, but more good than bad came from going west. I spent time with Mom and Bob and that was refreshing. I have usually only seen them a few times a year. One day I will appreciate that time even more. It was nice to be able to have dinner with them and spend time. It takes time to realize how much you appreciate family and it's usually not until they aren't around that you realize it.

 When I came to see you it was for a couple of reasons. I promised I'd visit more since I live closer and second because I needed some strength. It was a good time to visit. I went to see the Drakes after I came to see you guys. There is an artist named Daughtry that you never got to hear. He wrote a song called "Home." There is a line in the song that says, " I'm going to a place where love and feeling good don't ever cost a thing." It was very true on Saturday.

 The best thing about being here is that I can just be me. I tried so hard to get out of here several years ago, that I never realized how much of myself that I left here. I hope you like the guy that has come back.  Mom and Bob are happy. They love Lauren. Diana has her struggles and we hope that she can gain some ground.

 I hope you like Bella. I sure do miss her too. I know you're taking good care of her. She may have introduced you to Rebel. He's a pretty good guy too. Please feel free to look in on me when you want to. I am still a work in progress and I don't know if  I'll ever truly grow up, but I am trying to make you proud.

Love ,

 Your slightly older grandson

Friday, August 10, 2012

The Campaign...worth voting for?

  A comedy with Will Ferrell and Zach Galifinakis should be a no brain er and it is. Ted was a great adult comedy and this one follows up nicely. This summer has been short on comedy and high on action and adventure. The Campaign follows the same recipe as Step Brothers and The Hangover. Crude and vulgar.
It won't be for everyone and definitely not for families, but it is a laugh out loud comedy.

 It is an election year and timing couldn't be better. North Carolina is the setting where congressman Cam Brady will run UN opposed for re election. He is your typical politician and is in the driver's seat until an mistaken call and x rated voicemail land him in hot water. One of his largest contributors decides to put a new candidate in Brady's spot. The Motch brothers, played by Dan Akroyd and John Lithgow, decide Brady is no longer their guy and the seek out a new contender.

 Marty Huggins (Galifinakis) is a simple man who runs a travel and tour agency. He is weird, but unknown and will be perfect competition for Brady. The Motch's bring in Dylan McDermott to train Huggins and the mud slinging begins. The candidates both have to discover what's important, congress or family.

 The cast was fantastic. The movie is an excuse for Ferrell to swear and like Step Brothers, it works!
Cam Brady is the perfect balance of Will's George W Bush mixed with Ricky Bobby. The recital of The Lord's Prayer is hilarious. Fan's of Between Two Ferns will recognize the character that Galifinakis is playing, but it won't stop you from laughing.  The Campaign gets dirty and the humor and situations are very crude at times, but you will have a hard time not laughing.

 The movie is based on money buying politicians and it mirrors reality enough to make you think, but it is still filled with laughs. Ferrell and Galifinakis are perfect together and their pairing is long over due. It's no one for the whole family, but if you are looking for a good adult comedy it's a winner.

The only thing that I was missing  was a Rob Riggle or John C Reily cameo. Either way, The Campaign definitely gets my vote!

Bourne again?

   Everyone likes a good conspiracy movie. People love when the government is corrupt and one man can stand up against them right? This was the story of the "Bourne" movies and the latest chapter doesn't stray.
Matt Damon is not in the movie, but the presence of his character, Jason Bourne is definitely felt though out the film. The corrupt organization called Treadstone is on the verge of being exposed thanks to the work of Bourne in the previous films. Edward Norton is brought in to eliminate any one with knowledge of the program's existence.

 Renner is Aaron Cross or "Number Five." He sets out to stop Norton and to follow through on the work that Bourne did. He finds an ally in Rachel Weisz, who is great as the scientist who was in charge of examining new participants in the program. Cross is out to prove he is more than a complex government experiment. There are twists and turns, intense action, and it stays very true to what one would expect from the Bourne Franchise.

 Edward Norton is great. I love him when he plays the villain. He was great in the Italian Job as the bad guy and it plays well here too. He has the right amount of swagger and intensity for the role of a corrupt soldier. I love intelligent bad guys and Norton is just that. Every successful movie must have a good villain.
Rachel Weisz does well too. She really holds her own when she is involved in lengthy fight scenes. She comes across as a kind of tougher version of the Julia Stiles character in the previous films.

 Jeremy Renner is great. He literally follows in Matt Damon's footsteps and it works. He plays a great agent. The fights are spot on and after turns in The Avengers and Mission Impossible:Ghost Protocol he is completely believable. He is essentially from the same program as Jason Bourne, but Renner does a great job of  making Aaron Cross a character you want to see more of.

 So what went wrong? I won't say much, but the whole time I was watching I felt like I had seen this before.
The cast is great. The story works, but I just feel like we didn't get anything new. The Bourne Legacy is not a bad movie. It's a great smart action flick. I think fans will love, but it just didn't seem like a new movie.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Total Recall or Total Failure?

    The eighties left us with a lot of cult favorite movies. The action movie genre was at an all time high and Arnold was box office gold. The story of a man with implanted memories liberating a colony on Mars became fan favorite. We fast forward more than a decade and the director of Underworld has decided to remake this sci -fi favorite.

    Len Wiseman is almost Michael Bay like in the way people respond to what he does. People either love or hate his films. I am a big fan of the Underworld franchise and appreciate Wiseman's to not completely rely on C.G.I. He, like Bay, uses familiar faces from his previous films in the latest version of Total Recall. Arnold and Sharon Stone are replaced by Collin Farrel, Kate Beckinsale, and Jessica Biel.

   The story is different, but the same. A common worker wakes up after a nightmare wanting more for his life. In the distant future the worlds population is nearly gone. One country and one colony remain with a giant transportation system call "The Fall," linking them together. It is essentially a train that travels through the earths core. Douglas Quaid (Farrell) is a factory worker married to his hot EMT wife played by Kate Beckinsale.  He has friends and a simple life, but he wants more.

  He goes to "Rekall," which is a spa type place that will give you the memories of any fantasy you may have. Quaid wants to be a secret agent, but unbeknown st to him he already is one. He begins to do amazing things with guns and hand to hand combat, his wife attempts to kill him, he tries to solve the mystery of his life, and all the time he doesn't know what is real or what is Rekall?

 He goes on the run with the other woman in his life (Jessica Biel) and must find the leader of the resistance played by Bill Nighy (Underworld/Pirates of the Caribbean). The world is fighting for space. The majority of the planet has been ruined by radiation and space is the biggest commodity. The leader of the worlds only city is corrupt and has  plan to take over. Or is he? Farrell and Biel must figure it out and stop the diabolical plan of world domination.

 Does all of this work? Yes and no. I liked the decision to remove Mars from the equation. It is a better story if grounded on earth. The political issues always seem to work well in movies. The "haves" taking all they can from the "have nots" is always a good story.

 The hover car sequence is fun, but I feel like I've seen it before. I did. The first time was in the Fifth Element and the second time was "Attack of the Clones." I felt like the hover car/elevator stuff was lifted directly from those films and Minority Report. I am not saying that I didn't enjoy it, but I found it a little stale.

 I loved Kate Bekinsale. She was incredibly nice to look at and I believe better than Sharon Stone in the role of the fake wife. She looks great fighting and has a commanding presence. I liked her chemistry with Farrell. She even manages a few of Selene's moves ala Underworld minus the skin tight latex.

 Jessica Biel doesn't seem to fit here. I enjoyed her in the A-Team, but this felt a little more like Next.
She wasn't horrible, but she just doesn't come across as a hardened resistance fighter. She is OK, but there are other actresses that I think would've worked better here.

 Collin Farrell is good. I don't believe any one could be Arnold and Farrell doesn't try to be. He is good in the fight scenes and plays the part. I think the action could've been better. It's good, but the fight coordination is so much stronger in The Bourne movies and in Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol. The scenes here are OK, but they just lack the punch of the previously mentioned film.

 Wiseman does a good job of paying respect to the original. The "3-breasted" hooker, the Recall Process, some of the gadgets are there. I wished there would've been an "Arnold" cameo, but we can't get everything we want. I think Wiseman created a very cool world. The look was fantastic and he successfully made a big world seem smaller. The "Synthetic Police" worked well and the effects were decent.

 The movie isn't bad. It lacked something. I didn't have fun. I wasn't bored. I laughed a little, but I didn't feel connected to any particular character. Maybe I wasn't supposed to? I think this summer was ruined by the Avengers. It was so good that many other films failed by comparison. My friend Aaron pointed that out and I have to agree. I liked Battleship,Prometheus, and now Total Recall. Good films not great ones. I feel like this will get thrashed by critics and it's not that bad. Total Recall would have been a solid film in February, but I am not sure it works as a summer blockbuster.