"So Let it Be Written... So Let it Be Done"

The life and times of a real, down to earth, nice guy. A relocated New Englander formerly living somewhere north of Boston, but now soaking up the bright sun of southwestern central Florida (aka The Gulf Coast). Welcome to my blog world. Please leave it as clean as it was before you came. Thanks for visiting, BTW please leave a relevant comment so I know you were here. No blog spam, please. (c) MMV-MMXV Court Jester Productions & Bamford Communications

Saturday, August 28, 2010

SNMR 8.21: "Reality Bites"


Lelaina (Winona Ryder) and her friends Vickie (Janeane Garofalo), Troy (Ethan Hawke) and Sammy (Steve Zahn) have just graduated from college and now are experiencing the ups and downs of trying to find their way in the real world, as it is down in Houston, Texas.

Lelaine is a television production assistant for a morning talk show with an ass (John Mahoney) for a host. Vickie works at the Gap, Troy (Ethan Hawke) has just been fired from his twelfth job and moves in with the girls for a place to stay. Accidentally, Lelaine and Vickie meet Michael (Ben Stiller), an up and coming video executive. Michael falls for Lelaine who is secretly in love with someone else but doesn't know it or want to admit it.

This is another one of my finds in the $5 DVD bin at Wal-Mart, which I had never heard of but purchased on the merits of the cast pictured on the cover. What I didn't realize at the time was that this movie is Ben Stiller's big screen directorial debut. I don't really think of Stiller as a director first but since this movie, he has directed a handful of other movies with varying degrees of box-office success. For a first timer, Stiller does a pretty good job, especially since he's also part of the cast.

The screenplay, written when she was a 19 year old college student at USC, remains the only writing credit Helen Childress has to date. First credit or not, the screenplay accurately captures the uncertainty that goes along with becoming a part of society and finding your place within it. I sometimes feel like I'm still having that problem.

The story strikes home for me because the characters in the film are all at or around my age now and were also when this movie was released in 1994. Even Lisa Loeb, the musician for "Stay," which runs over part of the end credits, is my age.

According to the excellent DVD extras, the lead role was written with Winona Ryder in mind. Coincidentally, when Ryder read the script, she was able to relate to the character and wanted to play the part. The rest of the cast is very good and each brings something extra to their performance. You can tell that the main cast got along well and had fun making this movie.

This film I keep thinking of in comparison to this movie is "St. Elmo's Fire" which is the 1980's coming of age story of recent college graduates trying to fit in.

I happened to watch the 10th anniversary DVD edition of the movie. The aforementioned extras, done for this release, include deleted scenes, feature commentary with writer and director narration, the retrospective featuring interviews from cast, writer and producer as well as an interview with Lisa Loeb and her music video "Stay," directed by Ethan Hawke in one take.

I don't think this would have been a movie I would have wanted to see in the theater, not because it's a bad film but because its just not one of those films where the viewing experience is enhanced by watching it on a large screen.

*** 1/2 out of *****

Reality Bites (1994, PG-13, 99 minutes), starring Winona Ryder, Ethan Hawke, Janeane Garofalo, Steve Zahn, Ben Stiller, John Mahoney and Joe Don Baker. Written by Helen Childress. Directed by Ben Stiller.


Thursday, August 26, 2010

Remember these quiz thingees??

You Were a Peacock

You carry yourself with beauty, dignity, and confidence.

You are able to see the past, present, and future with clarity.

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Saturday, August 21, 2010

SNMR 8.20: "Paycheck"


When a company wants to develop new technology, they don't invent it themselves. They hire engineer Michael Jennings (Ben Affleck) to take an existing product and make it better. With the completion of each job, Jennings' memory is erased back to a certain point, so he can't be linked back to any one company's technology.

Most of these jobs don't last more than eight weeks, because that's the maximum time frame deemed necessary to keep the engineer's mind safe for the next job and the time passed feels instantaneous.

Then, at a party, Jennings meets Rachel (Uma Thurman) a beautiful bio-chemist who works for Jennings' friend Rethrick. At this party, Rethrick offers Jennings a job with an eight figure paycheck - that will last for three years - enabling Jennings an early retirement, if he so chooses. But when Jennings realizes that he's been betrayed, he must discover who is responsible and why using an envelope full of ordinary items...

Allcom, Rethrick's company, has Jennings developing a future reading device, similar to that technology seen in BIG SCREEN #50 review Krrish, and is predecessor, Koi Mil Gaya, if my memory serves me correctly.

What I can't figure out is how I missed watching this movie for so long. It only took me accidentally finding in in the $5 DVD bin at Wal-Mart several months ago to realize its existence.

John Woo is an excellent director and is no stranger to action movies and how they should work. Ben Affleck, with hard work, has become a competent and versatile actor with that debonair Cary Grant look. Uma Thurman is a proven action movie heroine (having done this film sandwiched around Tarantino's Kill Bill films). She plays well paired with Affleck. Aaron Eckhart is an excellent and very versatile actor in his own right and proves it with each role. Though I admit it has taken me a while to see this.

I have not read the source material but many of Philip K. Dick's short stories have been adapted successfully to the screen. Count this among them.

The Special Collector's Edition DVD that I watched contained two very well done featurettes regarding the design of the film and the sets, extended/deleted scenes and an alternate ending. Both Woo and Affleck admit in the extras that they were going for a Hitchcockian North By Northwest-ish feel to this film, and it does.

Maybe it took me so long to find and watch this movie because I wasn't a big Ben Affleck fan (aside from Good Will Hunting), and hardly knew who Aaron Eckhart was.

For those of you who like action and suspense, along with a well written and conceived story - this movie has all that. I was pleasantly surprised by this movie and, if you haven't seen it, you will be too.

***** out of *****

Paycheck (2003, PG-13, 118 minutes), starring Ben Affleck, Uma Thurman, Aaron Eckhart, Paul Giamatti, Colm Feore, Joe Morton and Michael C. Hall. Based on a short story by Philip K. Dick. Screenplay by Dean Georgaris. Directed by John Woo.


Saturday, August 14, 2010

SNMR 8.19: "Trading Places"


Would you be able to dramatically alter two people's lives over a bet of $1? That's the wager Mortimer and Randolph Duke (Don Ameche and Ralph Bellamy) make. They secretly wager that they can better the life of a 'hoodlum' like Billy Ray Valentine (Eddie Murphy) by giving him a decent job and place to live and ruin the life of an upstanding young socialite ass like Lewis Winthorp III (Dan Aykroyd) by taking away his livelihood. Now homeless and destitute, Lewis gets help from beautiful, smart Ophelia (Jamie Lee Curtis), who is also a hooker.

When Valentine accidentally learns of the Duke brothers' wager, he and Winthorp decide to turn the tables on the Dukes.

Like it or not, this is one of the essential movies that helped define the decade of the 1980's. Controversial director John Landis takes a witty script and a mix of veteran and young actors and turns it into a solid rags to riches to rags story. This was the second film that writers Timothy Harris and Herschel Weingrod co-wrote and have teamed up on several other films since.

For whatever reason, I don't think I actually saw this movie for the first time until the mid 1990's. For me the novelty of this film, now, is to see the young cast and where their careers have gone since this film was released twenty seven years ago. This was only Eddie Murphy's second film, having come through the ranks of SNL and his stand-up comedy. Even Dan Aykroyd and Jamie Lee Curtis were not household names, though they each had memorable roles prior to this film. It is also interesting to note some of the cameo actors you see in this film, whose careers have taken interesting paths since, like Jim Belushi and Al Franken.

It's interesting to me that three of the main actors here have long since passed away, and how this movie fits into the panorama of their careers.

I watched the "Looking Good, Feeling Good" Edition of this DVD which has several worthwhile extras, including a making of feature, costumes, some unseen interviews, and an industry promo piece, done for a convention in Las Vegas, when the movie was in production.

If you haven't watched this movie in a while, you should. If you can find it for under $5, like I did, it is worthwhile to own.

***¾ out of *****

Trading Places (1983, R, 116 minutes), starring Dan Aykroyd, Eddie Murphy, Jamie Lee Curtis, Don Ameche, Ralph Bellamy and Denholm Elliott. Written by Timothy Harris and Herschel Weingrod. Directed by John Landis.


Saturday, August 07, 2010

SNMR 8.18: "Julie & Julia"


Julia Child and her diplomat husband Paul are living in Paris in the early 1950's. Julia doesn't know what to do with her life, so she puts herself through the Cordon Bleu cooking school and finds her passion. In 2002, thirty year old Julie Powell is going through a life crisis of her own, so she decides to learn to cook by making all of the recipes from Child's book "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" in one year and blogging about her experience.

This biopic is based on two true stories, which screenwriter/director Nora Ephron blends seamlessly into a film that is better than good, but not quite great. Ephron's skill as a screenwriter is not in doubt. What makes this film worthwhile is the performance by Meryl Streep, who despite being eight inches shorter than the real life character she portrays, beautifully captures the essence of who Julia Child was and her passion for food. She rightly deserved an Oscar nomination for her role.

Amy Adams, whose films I generally like, does a good job portraying Julie Powell.

The supporting cast, Stanley Tucci and Chris Messina, are perfect complimentary characters, supporting their spouses in what they want to do with their lives.

It is evident throughout the movie that Julie Powell holds Julia Child in the highest regard. I was surprised to learn from the film that toward the end of her life, Child (who died in 2004) heard of what Powell was doing and was not happy about it.

I remember as a kid seeing some of Julia Child's cooking show on PBS but was too young to appreciate it.

The film has a good pace to it but for me was a bit too long. As a tribute to Julia Child, for whose legacy we have to thank for the myriad cooking shows, Rachel Rays and Emeril LaGasses, and probably FoodTV as well, this film is an excellent tribute.

***½ out of *****

Julie & Julia (2009, PG-13, 123 minutes), starring Meryl Streep, Amy Adams, Stanley Tucci and Chris Messina. Based on the book by Julia Child & Alex Prud'homme and the book by Julie Powell. Screenplay and Direction by Nora Ephron.


Friday, August 06, 2010

Red Sox @ Yankees for four big games

The third place Red Sox travel to Yankee Stadium for a huge four game series this weekend, starting tonight through Monday.

The Red Sox are an uninspiring 3-5 vs. the Yankees this season. This is the second of three consecutive series between the teams to be played in the Bronx. These teams last met when they split a brief two game series back in mid-May.

This is a critical series for the Red Sox, who are six games out of first place in the AL East and 5.5 games behind Tampa Bay in the wild card standings. On paper, the pitching matchups favor the Red Sox, who send their top four pitchers out to the mound for this series.

Here are the pitching match-ups for this weekend (updates to follow after each game):

Friday, Aug 6th: Boston 6, @ New York 3
WP: Buchholz (12-5), LP: Vasquez (9-8), SV: Papelbon (27)
A good start to the weekend for the Sox. Let's hope it continues.

Saturday, Aug 7th: Boston @ New York
Lackey (10-6) v. Sabathia (13-5)

Sunday, Aug 8th: Boston @ New York
Beckett (3-1) v. Burnett (9-9)

Monday, Aug 9th: Boston @ New York
Lester (11-6) v. Moseley (1-1)

The two teams will close out their season series at the end of September and at the beginning of October.

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Wednesday, August 04, 2010

BB12 Kristen will go bye-bye :>(

I wanted to post a picture of BB12 Kristen in the hippie-tard that she "won" in the PoV competition this week but couldn't find one online. Yet. Let me just say she wears it well! In lieu of that, let me leave you with this pic, obviously taken before this season of Big Brother. Damn, she looks good. Real good.

Either she or Hayden will be evicted tomorrow and will be the first person to form this season's jury that will decide the winner.

Brendon should vote for Hayden to stay because that's what Rachel wants.
Enzo will vote for Hayden to stay
Lane will vote for Hayden to Stay.
Matt will vote for Hayden to stay.
Britney will vote for Kristen to stay.
Kathy will vote for Kristen to stay.
Ragan will vote for Kristen to stay.

Unless what I read is true and Ragan inadvertently reveals "The Brigade" to the rest of the house and then Brendon's vote could change.

But as I see it now, Kristen, unfortunately, will be evicted by a 4-3 vote.


Sunday, August 01, 2010

The Reluctant I (assignment posted on facebook 7/20/10)

I have a few books on writing prompts and I'd like to share some of them with you as I'm trying to work through them to see how creative I can be. Try them along with me and see what you come up with and then share them here or on your page.

Write a first person story in which you use the first person pronoun (I or me or my) only two times -- but keep the I somehow important to the narrative you're constructing. The point of this excercise is to imagine a narrator who is less interested in himself than what he is observing. You can make your narrator someone who sees an interesting event in which he is not necessarily a participant, or you can make himself-effacing, yet a major participant in the events related. It is very important in this excecise to make sure your reader is not surprised, forty or fifty words into the piece, to realize that this is a first-person narration. Show us quickly who is observing the scene.

source: The 3 A.M. Epiphany: uncommon writing excercises that transform your fiction by Brian Kiteley, Writers Digest Books, Cincinnati, OH, 2005, p. 20

No one should have to go twenty-five years without knowing what happened to a loved one. No one. Now, one local family will finally have some peace, thanks to the grisly discovery I accidentally made three weeks ago.

Within minutes of calling 9-1-1, what seemed like an army of police officers rushed to the scene, followed by a steady stream of fire fighters, FBI agents, crime scene investigators, an ambulance and its crew. Then came the brigade of television, radio and print journalists and other news media folks cramming for the next big story for tomorrow's news, swarming like a hive of angry bees taking pictures and interviewing every Tom, Dick and Harry who might know something. Finally the inevitable crowd of curious spectators, bystanders and rubber-neckers came, once that telltale yellow ribbon went up, warning folks not to cross the police line.

Someone in the mass of spectators asked who discovered the body and in the blink of an eye there were fifteen different versions of who, what and how floating through the crowd. No one knew the real story except for those who needed to know right then.

This kind of news, in this little town, swept through like wildfire and got everyone talking. Over the next few weeks, the media coverage was spectacular. No one could recall its like in recent memory. The stories on television and in the newspaper kept repeating the basic facts of the story, as they were known, slanting them this way and that. The only thing missing, for now, was the identity of the victim and the cause of death.

In the stories, the media called her Jane Doe, but according to DNA tests and matching dental records, her name was Jennifer Alison Ray. Jennifer had been abducted in 1985 when she was sixteen. She had been missing for three days before her disappearance was reported. The police worked the case hard for a long time, but they had no solid leads, though many people, including family and friends, were questioned. No one came forward with information and no suspects were arrested. After about two years, the case went cold and was closed. Everything the authorities knew sat in a file down in the basement of the local police station.

Now that the body has been recovered, the family notified and the name released, the media reported that the girl had been beaten and raped before being strangled with a garrote and from blunt force trauma to the head. They disposed of her body in a shallow grave in the woods near a lake that was three towns away from where she had lived with her parents, two older brothers, a younger sister and a Bassett hound named Rex.

Ironically, the lake near where I found her remains is a very popular place for walkers, photographers and nature lovers in the summer. In the winter when the lake freezes enough there are ice skaters and snowmobilers aplenty. With all of the people and activity in the area, it’s unbelievable that someone else hadn’t found her body sooner.

Jennifer would have been forty-one this autumn. Who knows what kind of life she would have lived had this not happened? Would she have been married, or had children of her own? What would she have done for a career? Would she have lived in the town she grew up in or moved on? Sadly, these questions remain forever unanswered. It is evident that her family is relieved to know what happened; comforting that some of their questions are answered and their grief somewhat lifted.