Some Pictures from Lenham

Family

Saturday 8th [June, 1989]. Got your letter today. Just finished the crossword–got it all done. Between the rail strikes in London and Sundays, it is difficult for a letter to take less than 7-8 days between Abilene and Lenham. First I’ll answer some of your question, then if I do anything worthwhile tomorrow or Sunday I’ll tell you about those. The bar is pretty busy–particularly on the weekends. But some afternoons it is very slow–just a few customers. Many people drink Lager–beer like at home–or Bitter–warmer, darker, flatter, and supposedly tastier. They aren’t too bad but I understand it takes some getting used to. There is also cider. And many people mix their bars with each other–Light & Bitter, a half pint of Bitter in a pint glass and an open bottle fo Light Ale (ale & bitter same thing)–with lemonade–Lager Chandy (Chanty?), half Lager half lemonade–and with whatever else they can think of–1/2 pint of Guinness 1/2 pint sweet cider. But they also drink Gin & Tonics, Bacardi & Cokes, etc., as well as fruit juices & Cokes. I don’t really get tips, but people do buy me drinks–which I save up & have after 11:00. The English have this “stupid” tradition (quoting an Englishman) of buying everyone in their group a drink, then the next person gets the next one, etc. Tom, the Englishman quoted above, and I would both rather sit & talk with our friends and buy our own drinks. Tom and  man named Bob–both about 60–got into a friendly discussion one very unbusy afternoon. And it reminded me of a K & V reunion in the year 2026. Tom – K & Bob – V. Bob is the first & only person I have yet talked to who did not hate Margaret Thatcher. Tom is fun to talk too–you know how some people are just easier to relate to than others.

You know language was much more of a problem than I thought it would be. Now–a month later I am beginning to understand most of them. However, people come in who are from up north and often they have to repeat their order a couple of times–slowly.

Sunday afternoon.

I am enjoying my afternoon, watching Becker & Edberg. I missed the first two sets. Thanks very much for the phone call. Great to hear from you. I am getting used to the long hours. And am feeling more & more at home. Had roast beef for Sunday Diner today, along with veg–peas & cauliflower, potatoes, Yorkshire pudding & cheese cake–not bad, huh?

Had a great thunderstorm here Thursday night–right out on the square. Since then it’s been drizzly and overcast. I told the Hedges that if I was here Christmas time, you all would be as well. they said great! Don’t worry about me not getting to see all I came to see. I have all kinds of time.

More answers–After landing in Gatewick, getting my luggage etc, I went to get my passport stamped. Where will you be staying? What will you be doing? How much money do you have? Do you have a return ticket? You will purchase that here then? After that I just walked through customs. I slowed, but they said don’t stop unless requested to do so, so I passed right through. I talked to a guy here that was stopped–he’s English & was traveling somewhere in Europe–and forced to have is butt opened & searched. That or wait there ’til he had to crap. I would have waited.

Let’s do some pictures now. This is the last of what I’ve had developed so far. Some of them are pretty bad. #1 is the hotel–just like the brochure. The door on the right–your right [who else’s?]–goes into the bar. The other into the restaurant.

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#2–pretty obvious, but I thought it was a neat sign. (Bear bating–now that was entertainment.)

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#3–also obvious, but I was amused.

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#4 is part of the church cemetery–the same church as in the other picture. Big stones.

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#5 is sheep. These were on the same land as Tom Baker’s (Dr Who) house.

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#6–Tom’s house & hop house.

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#7–part of my walk–in the distance you can see a cross. That cross is just outside Lenham. It is a war memorial. It was first done in the 20’s for WWI. Then it was covered up so German pilots couldn’t use it to tell where they were. After WWII it was uncovered again.

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#8–the same cross. You may not be able to tell, but the road sign has been shot with a shot gun–people are people.

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#9–English country side on my walk.

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#10–Just outside Lenham. Doesn’t remind me much of England. Kent is a real pretty area.

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#11–More of Kent. Again, in the distance is supposed to be the coast. I like this picture.

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I like the horse one too. The next two stink.

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#12 is a view from my room in London.

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#13 is the train station at Canterbury. Why I took these two pictures, I do not know. [I’m sure a few pints had nothing to do with it.]

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The rest of the roll had photos from the evening at Warren & Phylis’s & one of Sadie.

Monday, July [June?] 10th. Today I went to Deal. Saw the two castles on the post card. Deal castle is pretty much empty except for a couple of displays. But I think I enjoyed it as much as I did Walmer Castle. Deal was built by Henry VIII. It is right on the coast. Built for defense, but used only once during a civil war. It was fun wandering around the tunnels beneath the castle. I got a little lost at one point, but eventually wandered out.

 

Then we–Brett went with me–walked down the coast to Walmer Castle. Still lived in by the Queen Mother sometimes, so much of it was closed off. But the castle garden was real nice.

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The beach was alright–but as you may or may not be able to tell, it’s not sand, it’s smooth stone. Daytona is a little nicer. But it was still nice to sit and watch the ocean.

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As for the banking situation, I got an account at the National Westminster Bank in London through the BUNAC agency. there is a Nat West bank right across the square, so I just deposit it there. I should receive some checks in the mail soon. After 3 paydays–paid in cash–taxes already paid–I have £120 in the bank and £80 to deposit tomorrow. I figure every week of work is at least a week of eventual travel, minus the cost of a back pack and sleeping bag. I go the pre-Racy wedding letter today. [I don’t know what this is.]

If I get so fed up with this job that I can’t take it I will do something else. But as of now I am content. The pay is good, as are the accommodations & food & people. And I am feeling more & more at home. There is a lot to do and I have a lot of time to do it. The weather today was mostly overcast & cloudy, but the sun did come out for awhile. In the near future I am going to try to get to France, London, and to Leeds Castle to play some golf. We’ll see. Thanks again for the letters & stuff, and for the calls. See you later.

Love

Matt

 

Films 136-144

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The Diving Bell and the Butterfly. I really liked this collage of a film. We’re all a bit unstuck in time. And all sort of in a diving bell?

Return to Homs. The “Syrians should stay home and fight” folks should pick up a half-loaded rifle and joins these guys. I don’t understand.

Forrest Gump. My first viewing. I love the last 30 minutes of this film. Him meeting his boy and marrying Jenny is worth the silly stuff.

Spotlight. Not sure why it’s fascinating to watch hard working people doing important and difficult work. But it is. And I’m glad they did.

Winter on Fire. “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is it’s natural manure.

“Inside Out. Creates such a giant, crazy, intricate world. Yet it totally works, sucked me in, grabbed me, and squeezed my heart a little.

Hot Rod. Not a fan of the man-child genre. This one surprised me. Seems smarter than most. Loved the Footloose dance homage. Plus Samburg.

The Martian. A great tense, exciting, funny adventure story. And all the engineering, and people working together. And Matt Damon was great.

History of The Eagles. Three hours long. It didn’t seem like it. Fun to relive our history through those songs. What a fine sight to see.

To Dust You Will Return

From last week. Happy Lent everyone.

 

Good morning. Here we are a couple weeks into Lent. This year Lent kind of snuck up on me. Sort of literally. A week and a half ago I was at an ice cream parlor with some students after a tour of the capital. Yes, Central Dairy. And a woman walked in with a scruffy looking swastika tattoo on her forehead. “Bad life choice much?” I thought, or something equally snarky. Then I noticed that her young son had one as well. Good grief! Now I really got judgey. “White power parent of the year. Dip into your meth fund for that little beauty?” As my mind prepared the next zinger, it came to me that it was Ash Wednesday. Oh. Right. And I sat there quietly eating my ice cream and feeling small.

Remember that you are dust, and to dust you will return.

Ash Wednesday is the first day of lent and is observed by a brief service where ashes are, usually in the sign of the cross, smeared onto the forehead, a reminder of where we come from and where we are headed. Then 40 days of preparation for Easter, generally associated with Jesus’s 40 days in the desert. I also learned in my bit of research that it’s not just the Catholics and Episcopalians any more, but many denominations, even baptists, smearing ashes. And not just in church, but on street corners, subway stations, and in cars at intersections waiting for stop lights. And, Ash Wednesday is a service that the Catholic Church makes available to everyone–Protestant, Islam, Hindu, atheist, even those excommunicated from the church, are welcome at Ash Wednesday.

Remember that you are dust, and to dust you will return.

I’ve talked about lent before and the importance of self examination and self denial and remembering Jesus’s time of temptation. But not Ash Wednesday. And while the Ash Wednesday service is one of my favorites and I’m sorry I missed it this year, I’m not sure what it is that appeals to me. What does it mean? And why is it that this ancient ritual about our mortality is gaining popularity, not just in the church, but on the street corner?

Remember that you are dust, and to dust you will return.

Is there some comfort to be taken in that? When we’re sad and discouraged and tired. We are all of us in the same boat. Catholics and Protestants; Muslims and atheists; people on the street and people in the pew; mothers who take their kids to church and then out for ice cream, and judgmental school teachers. We are all here for a brief time, and then we’re gone. And that’s the way it’s always been.

This morning as we prepare for communion, in this time of lent, of preparation for Easter Sunday, let us not hurry past the fact that we worship a god who for a time dwelt among us, who was at times sad and discouraged and tired, and who, like all those who came before and after him, died. And let’s not race to resurrection Sunday, but instead take some time and sit with what it means to follow a god who is not just waiting for us at the end of our journey, but a god who is with us when we’re weary, when we’re lost, when we’re in church and when we swear we’ll never go back, when we’re at our best and our worst, a god who loves us all the same, regardless of who or where we are.

Remember that you are dust, and to dust you will return.

Amen.

Films 127-135

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Dazed and Confused. My kid looks for someone good in this movie. Me: What about him? 5 minutes later every kid in film smokes a lot of weed.

Big Men. Seems there should be balance between good for the people of Ghana and profits for stockholders. And corrupt officials. And thugs.

City of God. Beautifully shot, fast-paced epic melodrama in the slums of Rio. Didn’t hook me cuz shallow characters and annoying narration.

The Overnighters. The church trying to be the church. The “twist” was unnecessary. Didn’t fit the story being told, then wasn’t dealt with.

Django Unchained. Tarantino saying a lot of things about a lot of things. I mostly liked the relationships. Not so much the exploding blood.

Ida. *Every*single*frame* of this film is so beautiful it’s almost distracting. Loved this simple and fresh exploration of what’s important.

Ender’s Game. Fun sci-fi. Just touches on the book’s themes. Too bad it didn’t do well enough for more. Would love to see piggies on screen.

The Hunt. Unsettling. The guy didn’t seem to try to help himself much. Trust the Danes to fire a hunting rifle into a mostly hopeful ending.

Amelie. Love this quirky little Vonnegutesque film. The French have a way of building the tension to that first kiss. Always worth the wait.

Films 118-126

I’ve decided to quit separating these short movie reviews into two groups, those from my WhatIsOnNetflix list and all the other movies I see.  Partly because it will be easier, partly because there are good films on both lists and dividing them up that way seems a little snooty if not arbitrary. That said, all these films are from the best of Netflix list.

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2001: A Space Odyssey. Apemen! I’m freaking out, man. You are freaking out, old man. I’m a space baby! Daisy, Daisy, give me your answer. .

The Hurt Locker. Every frame of this beautifully shot film makes me tense, from the gun fights to the grocery store. Like I was a soldier.

Almost Famous. I totally relate to that teen-age boy’s rock and roll fantasy. And then mom’s on the screen and suddenly I’m her. Great film!

Heathers. Longtime favorite. High school can be hell. Just need someone to fight the power. But not blow up the school. Lick it up, baby.

Pulp Fiction. A modern classic. Script, music, performances, nonlinear storyline, energy. Almost everything is perfect. . . Say what again.

Virunga. Forget the gorillas and jungle for a minute. How many *people* will you kill and displace for oil money, or a percentage? 60,000+?

Gideon’s Army. I love these people! After MaM, this brings hope. The system is still stacked. But these public defenders are amazing folks.

Two Days, One Night. Great performance by Cotillard. A weird (European?) plot. Strange management practice kept me out of the film a bit.

Out of the Clear Blue Sky. Compelling sad and inspiring 9/11 story. And challenged my preconceptions of those who work on Wall Street a bit.

An Innocent Abroad

After graduating from Kansas State, I obtained a work permit, and flew to England. There I found work at a hotel pub for a few months, then traveled around Europe some. It was amazing of course and I’d recommend it to everyone. This letter is a lesson in “Life can be great even if you don’t do all you planned.” Of all my plans listed in this letter from early on at the hotel, most didn’t happen. (I’ve listed those below.) And I still had a great time.

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Thursday 15th [June 1989]

Family, thanks for the letter.  I’ll see if I can’t give you a run down on what’s going on.  Right now I’m on my afternoon break. A typical day starts about 9:00 am with setting up the bar, cleaning a little bit, etc. then there is breakfast. This morning I had egg, bacon, toast & juice. The bar opens at 11:00 am. I tend the bar, keep things clean, pick up, etc. At 3 in the afternoon the bar closes until 5:30. During this time there is a little clean up, lunch–today cottage pie & vegetables, then about 1 1/2 hour break. At 5:30 it’s back to the bar til 11:00 pm–closing time. And usually done cleaning up before 12:00 pm. I get Wednesday off and Thurs am or Tues pm off also–not sure which one yet (neither this week). Yesterday I went to Canterbury with Rob–the manager. Went through the cathedral and then a little Chaucer thing. It was neat. The city itself is very touristy–like a giant shopping mall.  But the cathedral was good.  That evening I watched the film Becket on Rob & Sheila’s VCR–about Thomas Becket and his murder in the Canterbury Cathedral. In a couple of weeks we may go to France for a day or so.  Also I’ve been invited to go golfing at Leeds Castle sometime, and to a cricket game, and to the local church. I’m going to see if I can’t work out church next Sunday morning.

Rob and Sheila are nice people.  They and the rest of the staff have made an effort to make me feel at home. (Rob told me yesterday that if I find a girl while I’m here, she will have to pass Sheila’s approval.) I’m making L120 a week I think. That will be about L80 after taxes. I receive free room, board, and laundry facilities as well. I can’t think of anything I need yet. I bought a tape player.  Also–w pair of black pants, 2 white shirts, and some black socks for work. I am already making plans for travel after I am done working. I’m not sure ho long I will last working over here. It seems to me if you are going to have to put up with England, you ought to be doing something fun–not working. But I will put up with it at least a couple of months–perhaps then I will move on to to something else. Also I will look for BBC stuff. Right now I feel like I should stay awhile, as they are training me and putting up with my screw-ups. I haven’t written anything in my book yet.  Don’t know what to write–don’t want to fill it up with crap. I’ll write more when I know more.  See you later.

Love,

Matt

[I did not: go to France with my boss, play any golf in England, attend a cricket game, go to church across the street, find a girl there, find work at the BBC, or write much more than crap in that blank journal.]

Plainview #35

This is a short and sweet one.  We talk a bit about the preparation for Maly’s 6th birthday party, share some of the cute things the kids have said recently, and talk about a movie, Talk to Her, which I think is critically liked (if not adored) and that we didn’t care for much.

Other films 10-18

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Twister. Effective monster movie, the monster being a real thing we sometimes have to hide from.  Tense, funny, cheesy but nice kiss at end.

How to Marry a Millionaire. I think I’d watch Monroe and Bacall in about anything. Made me laugh a couple times. Pleasant enough movie.

Creed. Wow. Great Rocky sequel/remake. Loved the subtle references to part 1. Stallone was amazing. Single shot round! Dusty in the theater?

Big Fish. Your life is what you make it. Both in how you choose to live it, and in how you choose to tell it. Fun and very cool to look at.

The Force Awakens. Oh snap! It just got real! Enjoyed the Episode IV-ness of the whole thing (except the droid). Great cast. Ready for more.

Black Sheep. Like a long Three Stooges movie. Chris Farley is all the stooges and nothing makes sense. I laughed. Now gotta take a squeege.

Die Hard. Anti-80s 80s movie and Christmas classic. Merry shitload of screen doors. Happy more F.B.I. guys. And yippee-ki-yay us, every one.

When Harry Met Sally. The best funniest sweetest romantic comedy ever made. When Billy starts running I want to cry. I must be getting old.

Monsters. “It’s different looking at America from the outside in.” What are those monsters coming across our border? Some good scares too.

Movies of 2015

This year I wrote 124 very short reviews for films that I saw this year.  I’ve seen more than this, but it wasn’t until about two-thirds through the year that I started writing reviews for all the movies I watched. Before that I just wrote about the movies that appeared on the list from the app Whatisonnetflix. These are the top Rotten-Tomatoes-rated films on Netflix. By cramming in four films the last week of 2015, I was able to complete that list (for now–the list is occasionally updated). At the end of the year, I also wrote a few short reviews for films I’d seen on the big screen earlier in the year.

Picking the best of the year was difficult. One person picking “the best” is pretty arbitrary. Films I’d seen more recently had an advantage over films from earlier in the year. And I found that films made more recently had an advantage over older films. For many of these categories I could have a different winner depending on the day. I used the Golden Globe categories. Some of these are old categories that are no longer used by the Golden Globes, but I used them. I only used films from the Whatisonnetflix app for the award winners, for the most part.  There are some ties.  That all said, here are my winners. Followed by all my short reviews for 2015.

Golden Globe Award for Best Cinematography – (something I don’t generally notice)

Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon

Best Film Promoting International Understanding
The Square

Best English-Language Foreign Film
The Lady Vanishes

Best Documentary Film
The Square

Wasteland

Act of Killing

Restrepo

Best Animated Feature Film
Who Framed Roger Rabbit

Best Foreign Language Film

Tomboy

Best Original Song
Hate the Sport” from We are the Best

“Tonight I’m Gonna Rock Ya” from This is Spinal Tap

Best Original Score (Something else I rarely notice. These were both pretty noticeable.)
Patton

Taxi Driver

Best Screenplay
His Girl Friday

Best Supporting Actress – Motion Picture
Amanda Langlet in Summer’s Tale

Best Supporting Actor – Motion Picture
Both kids: Tye Sheridan and Jacob Lofland in Mud

Best Actress – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy
Mya Taylor in Tangerine

Best Actress – Motion Picture Drama
Recent Foreign Film: Paulina García in Gloria

Old American Film: Gloria Swanson in Sunset Boulevard

Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy
Hugh Grant: Four Weddings and a Funeral

Best Actor – Motion Picture Drama
Recent Foreign Film: Thomas Doret in Kid with a Bike

Old American Film: Paul Newman in The Hustler

Best Director

Jeremy Saulnier for Blue Ruin

Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy
Tangerine
Best Motion Picture – Drama
App List: Short Term 12

Big Screen: Mad Max: Fury Road

Neither of the above: Die Hard

 

13 Assassins. Bit fuzzy on the opening politics. Then a good Japanese western. And when they drop their bows and draw their swords–Oh snap!

20 Feet From Stardom. Mary C. singing for the Stones about brought tears. These women are amazing. Energy, joy, failure, hope. Loved this doc!

2001: A Space Odyssey. Apemen! I’m freaking out, man. You are freaking out, old man. I’m a space baby! Daisy, Daisy, give me your answer. .

56 Up. Saw 28 & 42 too. The nonlinear viewing of these kids’ lives brings a peace and perspective that I’d like to have about my own kids.

The Act of Killing. How to deal with guilt: Denial, justification, be a moron. What’s scary: They’re not monsters. They’re people. Like us.

Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry. This cat has some cojones. Sad to see what 80 days of torture will do to a man. I wish him well. Fight the power.

Airplane. My dad angrily in 1980: You want to watch a movie where they throw shit into a fan?!
Me sheepishly: No Dad.
Dated but still funny.

All About Eve. 1950. Betty Davis at her Betty Davisest. Hey there’s Marylin. Smart dialogue holds up after 65 years. A bit too long in the end.

Almost Famous. I totally relate to that teen-age boy’s rock and roll fantasy. And then mom’s on the screen and suddenly I’m her. Great film!

Amadeus. My kids: That looks like the most boring movie ever. Me: I know, but it’s really good. The first adult movie I remember liking.

Annie Hall. Cute in dictionary=Diane Keaton after tennis game. This exploration of relationships holds up till–Did he say 16-year olds? Eek

Antz. A pretty good Woody Allen movie. Fun visuals. A lot of noticeable voices. The infamous, “You da bug.” Kids and me laughed quite a bit.

The Babadook. Fun scary movie with super creepy moments. Metaphor a bit spot on (DadaBook?) So I appreciate ambiguous bowl of worms ending.

Battleship Potemkin, 1925. Silent soviet propaganda. Civil disobedience scene on the steps is amazingly shot, moving, still too relevant.

Beware of Mr Baker. How much nonsense will be forgiven for great art. There is a limit. So, d-bag artists, strike while the iron is hot.

Big Fish. Your life is what you make it. Both in how you choose to live it, and in how you choose to tell it. Fun and very cool to look at.

Big Night. Love this movie. Great cast. Great food. Don’t watch hungry. A metaphor here for how one should live life, i.e. big & generous.

Bigger, Stronger, Faster. Surprisingly: steroids not really that bad for you. Less so: ignorance, hypocrisy & corruption in U.S. government.

Bill Cunningham New York–Street fashion photographer. What a pleasant person! Still don’t care about fashion. But enjoyed time spent w Bill a lot

Black Sheep. Like a long Three Stooges movie. Chris Farley is all the stooges and nothing makes sense. I laughed. Now gotta take a squeege.

Blackfish. Love of money vs. creation care. I hope he’s right, the guy who said we’d look back and be embarrassed. We can do better.

Blue Ruin. If you ever forget what it is that violence begets, this will remind you. Sometimes it’s too late. Sometimes, hope. Great film.

Brooklyn Castle. I’d vote for Pobo right now. Or Rochelle. Should we have to beg for quality public ed? Maybe these kids can change things.

Call Me Kuchu. What does the kingdom of god look like? A party, a shared meal, a celebration? Or a fist, a prison, a hammer? We are all one.

Cave of Forgotten Dreams. Doc. Fascinating to imagine what we were thinking about 30k years ago. What was that last bit about albino gators?

Chasing Ice. A very cool and ambitious project.  Some beautiful photography. The glaciers are clearly retreating.Too late to do anything?

Chinatown. Much to discuss. We do what we can to keep those we love from getting hurt, but they’re going to get hurt anyway, seems the gist.

The Conformist, 1970. Italian expressionist fascist thriller. Interesting/beautiful moments. I think the whole is less than the sum of its parts.

Control Room. Every point of view is a view from a point (R. Rohr). So easy to think ours is the only/right one. Some glimmers of hope here.

The Conversation. Liked all the parts–sound, scenes, performances, music, the 1974ishness of it all. But altogether it didn’t click for me.

Creed. Wow. Great Rocky sequel/remake. Loved the subtle references to part 1. Stallone was amazing. Single shot round! Dusty in the theater?

Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon. Shakespearean Kung Fu. So good. Life’s short. Tell people you love them and ninja fight others while you can.

The Croupier. A lot is cool about this movie’s plot and protagonist. Too cool maybe? And who zoomed who at the end? I didn’t quite follow.

The Crying Game. A film about honesty, consequences, and not recognizing a man in makeup. Nice legs though. Lyle Lovett at end a nice touch.

Deep Water. Makes you wonder how close any of us are to losing it and sailing over the edge. A circumnavigation away, or just down the road?

Die Hard. Anti-80s 80s movie and Christmas classic. Merry shitload of screen doors. Happy more F.B.I. guys. And yippee-ki-yay us, every one.

Doc Hollywood. Few surprises (except the full frontal). 20 minutes in you know the ending. But funny. And the dance scene is pretty sweet.

Elaine Stritch: Shoot Me. It’s not being able to keep working when you’re old. It’s doing you’re entire life what you want to keep doing.

Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room. Lives are ruined when the most important thing to people is their lust for power and money. No shit.

Exit Through the Gift Shop. Real or not, this film, the artists and their art are fascinating whether trying to make a statement or a buck.

Fantasia. 1940. Surprised a bit by the frontal nudity. I wanted to like it more than I did. Enjoyed best in 7 min. chunks. Oh, Looney Tunes.

First Blood. Got heavy at the end. Didn’t remember that after 35 years. An America where a vet wearing a flag was seen as a trouble maker?

Food, Inc. Loved the happy farmer. Now I need to find a local pork and poultry source. Oh, and #Monsanto seems like a butthole of a company.

For the Bible Tells Me So. Brothers and sisters, just watch this and then let’s talk. The bible says a lot of things. That’s all I’m saying.

The Force Awakens. Oh snap! It just got real! Enjoyed the Episode IV-ness of the whole thing (except the droid). Great cast. Ready for more.

Four Weddings and a Funeral. Our old priest loved it. Holds up. Funny. Sweet. The funeral eulogy crushed me. Her list of lovers, a bit long?

French Connection. Hard to root for racist drug war cop nowadays. Popeye’s too close to Mitchell & 48 Hrs Nolte. Chase holds up pretty well.

Glen Campbell. I’ll Be Me. Heartbreaking portrait. I Told Mare just leave me in the woods. She won’t. And I’m not half as charming as Glen.

Gloria. A lovely portrait. We are never too old. Never too old to try, to fail, to seek, to find, to lose, to try again. The tough survive.

Heathers. Longtime favorite. High school can be hell. Just need someone to fight the power. But not blow up the school. Lick it up, baby.

High Noon. Well executed tension–myth of redemptive violence vs. restorative justice. Sheriff vs Quaker. 1950s America, so sherif wins.

His Girl Friday ’40. Grant & Russell make murder, suicide, and politically motivated execution a conniving, rollicking, break-neck good time.

History of the World Part I. Funny parts I remember after 30 years, still very funny. Other 95% doesn’t hold up. Especially the rapey parts.

Hoop Dreams. Intriguing doc. Hard to watch without googling where they are now. Dreams change. No NBA, but they both seem to be doing well.

Hot Fuzz. Hilarious, disgusting, fun, satisfying flick. Action-packed, adrenaline-fueled thrill ride? I think so. Aaaaaaaa! Bang bang bang!

Housebound. Surprising scary treat. Many great “holy crap” moments. Daughter may have dropped real swear at one point. Funny too. Watch it.

How to Marry a Millionaire. I think I’d watch Monroe and Bacall in about anything. Made me laugh a couple times. Pleasant enough movie.

How to Survive a Plague. People remind our leaders where their power comes from. many protests, only one cop baton swung. Ahh the 90s.

How to Train Your Dragon 2. Funny. Great action scenes. Cool dragons. Good is more powerful than evil. Still . . . Tasty but empty calories.

Hunt for Red October. Holds up pretty well. I don’t remember it being so actiony. And I just want to pinch little Alec Baldwin’s cheeks.

The Hurt Locker. Every frame of this beautifully shot film makes me tense, from the gun fights to the grocery store. Like I was a soldier.

The Hustler. Is it only possible to win by cutting all ties & standing alone? Does money ruin the purity of competition? Isn’t Paul dreamy?

I am Divine. An interesting cat. Glad he felt successful at the end. Also, Beloved heavy actors–Take care of yourselves, for heaven’s sake.

The Impostor. If Hitchcock directed a documentary. I enjoy being led down the primrose path then clubbed from behind. Or was I? Or did they?

Invasion of the Body Snatchers 1978. I like a slow burn, gross special effects, and feeling of impending doom. Plus it creeped out the kids.

The Invisible War. This film shows the U.S. Military is not completely full of rapists and assholes. But there’s way too many. Needs fixed.

The Island President. Impressive man. Important issue. But there’s money to be made, so we’re going to use this baby up til it’s all gone.

Jiro Dreams of Sushi. Doc about old sushi master and what it takes to become a master of anything. Spoiler: a lot. Too much?

The Kid with a Bike. Heart breaking, heart warming quiet little good samaritan story. Love looks like this: saying hold on, but not so hard.

The Lady Vanishes.1938 Hitchcock. Great shots, fun characters, intriguing plot. It all holds up but the haircuts. And maybe the fight scene.

Lawrence of Arabia. Super long, but don’t know what I’d cut. Interesting cat, Larry. Beautiful film. They’ll never make ’em like this again.

Let the Fire Burn. Good god, what a mess. More than enough blame to go around. Thankful for the brief focus on the good. Some hope at least.

Let the Right One In. Swedish vampire! How much difference between the undead protagonist and bully antagonist? Do we choose who we are?

Life Itself. Watched Sneak Preview in high school. Owned three of his books before the internet proper. Loved Ebert even more after this.

Los Angeles Plays Itself. Good if a bit lengthy essay on L.A. in film. Film, architecture, police and class discussions pretty interesting.

Mad Max Fury Road. Loved it and all its awesome weirdness–war boys, guitar man, car chases and battles, Joe, Max, and of course Charlize.

Man on Wire. “Life should be lived on the edge of life- every year, every idea as a true challenge.” Can you imagine being there. Doing that.

Marina Abramović: The Artist Is Present. Early on I rolled my eyes at her work. Before it was over I found myself moved and sort of a fan.

Marley. Compelling doc on an intriguing dude. Much here I didn’t know (all of it). And then I listened to his music for three days straight.

Metropolis. German silent version of Mocking Jay. Some beautiful shots & least-sexy sexy dancing ever. Hopeful ending I can’t quite buy.

The Missing Picture. How do you eat and watch people starve, Khmer Rouge? How do we do it too. Too many missing pictures to think about.

Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation. Sweet action. Agent Tom Cruise is a stone cold bad ass. Rebecca Ferguson is even better. And Simon Pegg.

Mud. Huck and Jim, and can a boy believe in love, and family and friendship is hard but worth it, and great performances. Amazing movie.

Muscle Shoals. Interesting people. Amazing music (goosebumps). (Jerry Wexler once sat and told me (and classmates) back in the day stories.)

Night of the Living Dead. The OZ! Love this movie. A lot going on here: race, community, fear, politics, family. And black dude is a badass.

Nightmare on Elm Street 2. I thought this was one of the good ones. Not so much. But the kids and I had fun watching the dumbness together.

Once Upon a Time in America. Boy, can Sergio take his time. Pretty to look at. A well told story. Good actors. Fun music. But that sound.

Oslo Aug 31. A clean junkie spends a day searching for life’s meaning. Finds none. Side of heroin with your nihilism? Well made & sad.

Patton. Some great stuff here. The speech. The battles. The slap. The kiss. The prayer. The toast. The music. Oh . . . and George C. Scott.

Poetry. To make poetry you have to look at things closely. More questions raised than answers given, but in the right way. Poetry=Life?

Restrepo. 50 soldiers died for that hill (plus local kids); we left 3 years later. Probably jaded to wonder who made how much. Good film.

Risky Business. Man, we were self-centered in the 80s. Bit sad. Film’s still funny. And I’m reworking calendar so kids are never home alone.

Roman Holiday. Plot? I could watch super cute Hepburn, hunky Peck, & beatnik Albert just tour Rome, have clever dialogue, and look amazing.

Rosemary’s Baby. The good old days when women let us men take care of all the decision making. But if the result is a devil baby, forget it.

The Secret of Roan Inish. A pleasant slow-paced little fairy tale of a film that kind of makes me want to live in a hut on an Irish island.

Short Term 12. Yes, hurt people hurt people. And they often help people the rest of us don’t want to help. Hard to run and cry. See it. Great!

Snow Piercer. Hunger games for adults? Is that humanity’s only hope? Not to take over the system, but destroy it and start from scratch.

Spy. McCarthy and Statham are great. “Made it, didn’t I.”

The Square. Doc re recent Egyptian revolutions that should be shown in classes teaching the American revolution. We don’t appreciate our lot

The Station Agent. I totally get it. People can be such an intrusion and a bother. I like a reminder that theyre also the reason we’re here.

Stories We Tell. Intriguing & surprising. Much to ponder: the effect our lives have, how well can we know each other, & love despite it all.

Supercop. Don’t know if they can really Kung-fu, but Chan and Yeoh pull off some amazing stunts. End credits show the really scary stuff.

Surfwise. Crazy dad seems right about this: It’s easier to die when you’ve lived. So go out and make memories. That way you don’t die alone.

A Summer’s Tale.Much walking and talking.Longest wait for a 1st kiss ever (worth it). And sometimes that’s all you get. Oh to be young again.

Sunset Blvd. Norma Desmond, the original cougar. Smart words, smart shots, noir, sad. Swanson was so good & so crazy. Fun to see young Webb.

Tangerine. Loved the pacing, dialog, music and cast. Funny, sad, hopeful. Sex isn’t a cure for loneliness. We can do better. We often don’t.

The Taste of Others. French rom-com about snobbery, reverse snobbery; high, middle, & low brow. I thought it was good. Disagree? No taste.

Taxi Driver. My theory: Travis Bickle is America of the 1960s/70’s. We don’t know how to solve our problems here, so we use guns far away.

Terminator. Best 80s/Arnold/action/horror/time-paradox/stop-motion-animation/quotable-lines/Linda-Hamilton-rocking-the-mom-jeans movie EVAR!

The Thing. Kurt Russel, as always, is the man. Paranoia, Wilfred Brimley, and so much drippy alien goo. The blood thing about made me poop.

This Is Not a Film. Intriguing and compelling sequences between the parts that seem like grandma walking around with her new video camera.

This is Spinal Tap. Yes, I watched it again. And again and again. This free form jazz odyssey of a film goes to 11! Talk about mud flaps!

Tomboy. Oh to wrap our kids up and keep them safe. Best father daughter hug ever. Amazingly talented young actors. A lot good here. See it.

Trainwreck. I wanted to like this film and Schumer’s character more than I did. Smart stuff and good moments (LeBron) but too far apart.

True Lies. An action packed comedic over the top thrill ride.  Tom swearing, Jamie Lee as sexy accountant, plus Arnold. Holds up after 20.

Twister. Effective monster movie, the monster being a real thing we sometimes have to hide from.  Tense, funny, cheesy but nice kiss at end.

Undefeated. Great football doc. about relationships and people struggling to do the right thing and sometimes failing, sometimes succeeding.

Waste Land. Doc shows art is amazing because people are amazing. Circumstances have little to do with how amazing and happy. A joy. See it.

We Are the Best! 1982 punk rock kids. Wanted to like this, but didn’t quite. A nice story of friendship. Is every Swedish teenager a jerk?

We Were Here. Doc tells an important/moving story well–how gay community handled aids epidemic. Didn’t seem like one of the best films ever.

Who Framed Roger Rabbit. Just like the cartoons it celebrates, there’s more going on here than you noticed as a kid. And fun stuff holds up.

The Wild Bunch. A western. Never sure where it was going. Had its moments–bridge, gun fights. About getting old. Or Vietnam. Or something.

When Harry Met Sally. The best funniest sweetest romantic comedy ever made. When Billy starts running I want to cry. I must be getting old.

With a Friend Like Harry. Clues you have a bad friend: kills your parents; kills your brother; then wife & little girls? Oh, spoiler alert.