Author Archives: msears

Films 190 – 198

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Force Majeure. The ideas raised about who we are and how we get through life, and the haunting images employed have stuck with me. Good film.

Lethal Weapon. It’s been a while. I’d forgotten the whole Vietnam vet angle. Mostly holds up. Good 80s buddy cop shoot ‘me up. Plus Busey.

Central Intelligence. Haven’t laughed this consistently throughout a movie in forever. Hart and Johnson crush it + Smart women + 16 Candles.

Sixteen Candles. The sweet parts were even sweeter. The Duck Dong parts were more uncomfortable. Hall, the little nerd, still cracked me up.

Secret Life of Pets. Took a while, but once things started happening I was sucked in. Very funny. Loved the old Basset Hound. Fliberty floo!

American Sniper. Know who wasn’t in this movie? The fuckers who made oil money in Iraq at expense of American soldiers and their families.

Ghostbusters. I enjoyed it fine. Plot had some holes. But I laughed some. But with this cast, it seems like it should have been funnier.

Mel Brooks: Make a Noise. Standard biodoc. But fun to get a little behind the scenes of his films. And Mel and Anne are super cute together.

The Warriors. As dumb & fun as It ever was. Back when NYC was terrible. Luther’s even crazier than I’d remembered. Come out and PLAAY-YAYYY!

Films 181 – 189

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Good Will Hunting. Great performances. Despite the swelling strings, too neat ending, and “It’s not your fault,” I still like them apples.

Russian Ark. Impressive feat. But more of a cool trick than compelling film? What do I know. I’ve never made film more than 10 minutes long.

Ali. Things I liked: It’s not a standard bio-pic. The long opening collage. We see Ali at his best and his not so good. Smith’s performance.

The Trials of Muhammad Ali. Things I liked: Historical background. Ali boxing. Ali trash talking. Second wife Belinda Ali trash talking.

The Three Stooges. A movie that clearly had to be made. Cuz. Um . . . Larry David as a nun. Annnnd . . . The snowman joke. Annnd. Ummm . . .

Quest for Fire. Soft spot in my heart for cavemen/movies. Perlman is amazing. Explains man’s love for fire, hunting, and out-of-town girls.

The Crucible. About my 10th time. Still love it. Great writing. Abigail’s awful. Proctor’s great. Giles is pimp. “More weight. That’s pimp!”

Dope. A great Risky Business update: kid uses business savvy to get into college, funny and exciting, and awkward bits for family viewing.

Iron Man 2. In order of importance. Mickey Rourke’s super sweet electric whips! Charming performances. Many laughs. Good fighting. The plot.

Films 172 – 180

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Braveheart. So William Wallace/Mel Gibson is like Jesus, but Jesus the enemy-killing, cuckolding homophobe? Otherwise pretty good I guess.

Iron Man. I’m shocked, shocked! that my weapons ended up in the wrong hands. [builds new cool weapon] Oh no, not again! Fun superhero movie.

Napoleon Dynamite. Most of us weren’t this awkward, but this is how awkward we felt. And the ending gives hope even to us super-nerds. Gosh!

The English Patient. So a love afair, lots of looks, a bath, a war, and she dies. That takes 3 hours? I was more interested in Kip and Hana.

X-men. So not a lot of depth to the characters. And the big story arc isn’t resolved. But it’s a fun starting place. And many films to go.

Moonrise Kingdom. Exceeded expectations. It’s us broken people who can and need to take care of us broken people. Fun. And the quirky works.

X2. A good action movie that happens to be a superhero movie too. And like X1, about other things. “Son, have you tried not being a mutant?”

The Nice Guys. The McGuffin’s kind of dumb. But I enjoyed this hilarious action-packed L.A. noir. Great action, performances, and dialogue.

Beverly Hillbillies. Low expectations + your kid laughing a lot + Buddy Ebsen = mildly enjoyable film. *Every* scene ends with a dopey face!

 

Expiration Date

This is from a few weeks ago. Fortunately the scene we witnessed at the run had a happy ending.

 

Last time I was here I talked about how I hadn’t been paying much attention to god and what he was up to, and I prayed that I’d do better. As you know, you have to be careful what you wish for.

A few weeks ago I was participating in a cancer walk with and for my dad who is fighting pancreatic cancer. Prior to the walk there were some speakers, notably a woman whose husband had recently died. She talked about the way her husband lived prior to his death. He made plans, he spent time with his kids, he did the things he thought were important. His widow said that he was not defined by his expiration date, that is, the life expectancy he was given by his doctor, an expiration that he out-lived by a couple years.

Then during the race, my family, and the rest of those at the race, were reminded in a horrible and tragic way that all of us, not just those with cancer, have an expiration date, and that none of us know when that date is. Any of us could go at any time. Now as Christians, we have prepared for what will happen to us after we die. But where I think we drop the ball is in how we live in the meantime.

Jesus talked about a new heaven and new earth. But he also talked a lot about this earth and our role in it. In the prayer many of us have memorized, he prayed “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” I think he’s counting on us for that. Jesus said that we, the hands and feet of Jesus, will do greater things than he did. To know what that means, I think we can look at the the life of Jesus. He loved his enemies, told the story of the Samaritan who did that, and then instructed us to love our enemies. He spent time with the poor and outcast, and he told the story of those who received their inheritance because they welcomed the stranger, fed the hungry, and visited the prisoner.

The woman at the cancer walk spoke about living boldly and wildly in spite of our expiration date. Who better to do this than folks who shouldn’t be worried about our expiration date in the first place.

So as we sit quietly together for a bit to remember the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, let’s not just remember him, let’s be inspired to do something.

We will all expire. In the meantime, we have been called by the creator of the universe to participate in bringing reconciliation and redemption and renewal to the world. We have not been called to bury our talent and wait for the master to return. But instead to bring our gifts to the world, to our neighbors and neighborhoods, to the lost and alone, and to strangers and enemies. We are not called to live a life of fear, but of reckless love, to work to fulfill the prayer of Jesus, to bring about god’s kingdom on earth.

Amen.

Films 163 – 171

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Walt Disney Short Films. Really liked Paperman and Tangled Ever After. Makes me wish shorts were shown with features like back in the day.

Particle Fever. I think I’m more theoretical than experimental. If only I knew what all those squiggles and dodahs meant. Interesting stuff.

The Kids are All Right. Better than I remember. Life is a marathon and a man has to be better than just cool. Moore and Bening are so good.

White God. Strange film. Haven’t seen anything like it. Planet of the dogs and more. Liked it, especially ending, but didn’t quite grok it.

Superfast! Watched this with my boy because he wanted to. That’s the only reason I can think of to watch this terrible lame not funny movie.

Fearless. Two of my favorite shots: Smelling the stranger’s baby & toolbox crashing through the windshield. And others. But does it hold up?

Manuscripts Don’t Burn. Well done & important film. But seems so hopeless. Except that this was shot under the nose of the regime, so . . .

Chef. Hit some of my sweet spots: food, fatherhood, roadtrips, Sophia Vergara. Loved the grilled cheese scenes. And now I want a food truck.

Cap Am: Civil War. This is how you do an Avengers movie! I’d love for these dudes to direct Justice League. So much to like here. #SpiderMan

Films 154-162

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Oldboy. This smart violent revenge thriller had me hooked. Then it ends by going over whatever’s over the top. Too much pain/despair for me.

Gomorrah. Liked the use of barely connected threads in telling this organized crime story. Never clear of the sides, not that it mattered.

Turbo Kid. Love the Atari-ness of everything. And Apple. And the bikes. Even all the silly blood. A fun homage to great dumb 80s flicks.

To Kill a Mocking Bird. How is this film 50 years old? It’s still so great! The kids are amazing. I can’t think of anything wrong with it.

Uncle Boonmee. A trippy ride of a film. Occasionally takes a break for a little chill time, or fish love, or whatever. Let it flow over you.

Confessions of a Dangerous Mind. Fan of Gong Show. Read the book years ago. Film’s a fun adaptation. So enjoyed it, but not left with much.

A Clockwork Orange. Anti sex and violence film with lots of sex and violence. As disturbing as it is, there’s a lot to like. Mulling it over

Uncommon Valor. Saw it 2 nights in a row at the theater in ’83. Cheesy bits still cheesy. But actually better than I remember in some ways.

Major League. Better than I expected, but still not that great. Some laughs. Surprised how I was made to care if they won that stupid game.

Films 145-153

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The Duke of Burgundy. What the? Is this the movie Jerry and George kept trying to sneak into? Not much here for me. Maybe the mannequins?

Dear Zachary. Well done and moving. Do we all leave this kind of hole when we’re gone? All make this kind of difference? Sad and maddening.

Before I Disappear. Finding my sweet spot is a dark hopeless world, then a bit of hope when we dare to love. This film nails it beautifully.

Cinema Paradiso. Liked it better 25 years ago. So his magical time spent in the theater lead him to abandon his family and never find love?

Time Out. I was drawn into this man’s slow paced web of lies. I understand his pressures and frustration. But still, first world problems.

Electric Boogaloo. Fun look at some of the best worst movies of my childhood. I want to watch them all. Then bring justice to the streets!

Reservoir Dogs. Racist dialogue sticks out like sore thumb in otherwise near perfect heist/single-location film. Great shots, performances.

Shakespeare in Love. The love story moves me. The rest makes my inner Shakespeare geek smile. Great performances. (And Gwyneth-hubba hubba.)

World of Tomorrow. Dark, cute, scary, hopeful. We need reminded–watching screens alone or spending time with people, maybe playing trucks?

An English Walk

See the previous Letters from England post for the photos described here. I tried to match them to that letter, but may have used some that went with this letter, or there may have been some overlap. I really don’t know.

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June 22, 1989

Family,

Today I got my first taste of real English weather in quite a while. It’s been overcast and cool all day. Yesterday and today are my day and a half off this week. I work tonight at 5:30. Yesterday I took most of the day off. I couldn’t go anywhere because the trains weren’t running due to the strike. I did walk about 3 miles out to the country. It was nice. Speaking of that, let’s get right to the pictures.

#1 is an example of what I saw on my walk. It was a very clear day–hot too, up around 30 C (90ish). The horizon is supposed to be the coast. I’ll send more landscape pictures later. Photo

#2 is the “hotel” room I stayed in for the first four nights. There were five of us in there. A bunch from the east and me. During my four days there were 2 from Princeton, 1 from George Washington, a Yale person or two, and I don’t know where there others were from. As you can see, it was a pretty nice place–the only room in the hotel with a TV and “private” bathroom. Not bad for £11 a night – or maybe it was, I don’t know.

#3 & #4 are my room at the Dog & Bear. Not bad for free. The ceiling is just about 6 ft. high and it kind of slants toward the middle–due, I guess, to  almost 400 yrs of settling. I don’t know a shower, but I’ve adapted. Mom, note the hoes in the closet.

#5 is the bar behind which I work. That’s the assistant manager washing glasses. A pretty nice place–Rob & Sheila–the managers–keep the riff-raff out.

#6 of course is for R.S. Kent is very agriculturally oriented–as you can see in photo #1. This is on the main street leading into town oops, village. Lenham is not a town but a village. I’ve had that pointed out to me several times. I’m told that John Deere are common here. Anyhow this is the first one I saw.

And #7 is for I. Just and example of how yard-art can beautify one’s home. This house is also along the main street. There are some really nice 15th century houses here–and some pretty rose gardens. I’ll send these later also. That’s part one of the pictorial tour of Lenham.

Thanks for the letter and the Calvin strips. I saw Chang win the open & I heard about the fight. But the basketball was news to me. I wouldn’t mind being kept up on how the Royals are doing. I’ve sent an example of the baseball news from one of the major paper.

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Cricket is big here. I am slowly starting to get a grip on the game. itself, but I have a hard time getting real enthusiastic about it.

I ran some numbers through V’s calculator and here’s what i came up with. If I work for 3 months or less I don’t pay tax. I do pay 9% health insurance, but not the additional 25%. It works out that I receive the same amount of money for 4 months work as I do for 3. The end of three months from my arrival (84 days) is August 29th. If I work past that I pay tax. I could work longer and then tour, but by then it would b e winter time. What I’m thinking right now is to work all 84 days. Then set out tramping around Britain for about a month. Then head over to Germany. I’m still planning things out, but those are my jumbled thoughts at this moment. Any suggestions might be helpful.

Here’s a  wish list–things I would like you to send: the two hats from Uncle Ed (I got a call from him last week about 6:30 in the morning, just wanted to see how things were going–you’ll have to be careful about who you give my number to. By the way. If you do plan to call, the best times would be around 9:30 am your time–the bar closes from 3-5:30. At that time I would be finished cleaning up & would be east lunch. Or after 5:30 pm. the bar closes at 11:00 pm–again, I would be getting things finished up then–closes at 10:30 on Sunday.) Anyhow–the 2 hats, some of the neater paper match books. I showed them on from the Hyatt & they – R & M (asst mngr) said they could hang them up or something if they had more–they thought it was neat. And a bell with Ike or or Abilene or Kansas or something. Before my arrival in Lenham, the hotel had been booked for this week, so I have been moved in with the cook & her two kids. I noticed last night that she had several bells in a case in her living room & thought that would be a neat thank you gift for putting up with me for a week. And something with Mickey Mouse on it. I was talking to a girl who said she would like to go to America to get something with Mickey Mouse on it as all she had close to that was a picture of her boy friend. These are tow of the nicer people I’ve met. Nothing outstanding about them–just neat people. The hats are for John & Peter, two regulars. Both have been to the state and are sort of “Yankophiles.” I’ve seen both of them in similar head gear from America. They are also pretty good guys. (John was thrown out of the country as an undesirable. He had a 3-week holiday passport stamp & stayed 6 months working for the head of the border patrol in West Texas before being deported.) That’s about enough for now. See you later.

Love

Matt

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