Friday, April 28, 2006

United 93

Movie: United 93

At first I had no interest at seeing this film. Who wants to relive 9/11? But then I heard there was "controversy" and people trying to stop the release of the film. That flabberghasted me. What on earth could be wrong with making a film like this? After all, it's not political -- it's just a dramatization of the facts. So I went to see it. The first surprise was the Regal theatre I went to, which usually annoys me with 20 minutes of commercials and previews before the movie starts, had a sign up that said that due to this film's topic, they were not showing any previews and the film would start on time! Very interesting, though I wish they'd communicated that before I got there. Fortunately, I was right on time, so I don't think I missed more than few seconds.

The film itself is very good. It just tells a simple story well. However, because it focuses so much on that story, told in real-time, the film feels one-dimensional. We basically see the flight controllers and the passengers, but we only see them in their roles, not who they are in their personal lives. There's nothing wrong with that -- but it does lead to a narrow, focused film, which some people may not be happy with. It's not a pleasant film, as we know the outcome before the movie starts, but it is an important film (everyone should see it once), and I liked that the story reminds of 9/11 and what happened on that day. I really liked that they actually show the towers burning, the airplane crashing into the tower, the shocked reactions of the air traffic controllers. So much of that is not shown on TV any more and people forget what that day was like.


Monday, April 24, 2006

Grandpa home again

Grandpa's home again and doing great. He's eating like a monster, which is awesome. Last time he was at the hospital he stopped eating. He ate breakfast but no lunch, and barely any dinner. Now he's back to three meals a day. Not huge meals (though his breakfast is substantial), but anything's an improvement. We've got a whole new set of medicines for him, which is awfully exciting (not). But he feels great -- he told me he felt like he was 30!


Friday, April 21, 2006

The Sentinel

Movie: The Sentinel

I wanted to like this. It looked interesting from the previews. Unfortunately, it's rather pathetic. The concept that there could be a mole in the Secret Service is the lure, and the idea that our hero is the fall guy and has to prove himself innocent while on the run from the feds is the intriguing action, but the film's choice of villain is obvious and stereotypical. The film starts out well but peters out into an anti-climatic nothing. I also didn't like that our "hero," Michael Douglas' Secret Service agent, was having an affair with the first lady and that's why some of his actions appear suspicious. Not only is that lame, unrealistic, unprofessional, and immoral, but we're supposed to feel sympathy for this idiot? Worse, he's apparently gotten himself into this kind of trouble in the past. I had zero respect for this moron and therefore I didn't really care if he got caught, found the mole, or got the president killed. In other words, with me not caring about the characters, I didn't care about the movie. The worst part was the films' laissez-faire attitude toward this indiscretion, making it seem almost heroic. Disgusting.


Thursday, April 20, 2006

Grandpa back in hospital

Today was supposed to be our long-planned trip to the coast with Grandpa. Instead he's in the hospital. Yesterday the home nurse was here to take a routine blood test and later I got a call to get him to emergency right away. Apparently his poor kidneys aren't processing potasium correctly and there's too much in his system, which can lead to heart failure. So I got him over there last night and he's staying there for a few days so they can monitor him. He feels fine and is in good spirits -- the potasium level showed no outward signs. It's a pretty silly muck-up: I've had him on water pills since last summer because he was retaining too much fluid (he swelled to 144 lbs. at one point -- he's normally around 100 lbs.). Because water pills drain your fluids, they always proscribe them with potasium pills, to replenish your supply. But Grandpa's kidney's aren't functioning as well as they used to do, so now the extra potasium's too much. Yet, of course, no one mentioned this or caught this after his last hospital stay with kidney problems, so the last few weeks I've been faithfully giving him potasium pills every day! The idiot doctors noticed the potasium levels rising last week but didn't say anything to me because the level wasn't dangerous. If they had, I could have stopped giving him the pills and he probably would have been fine! Instead they waited until the level was too high and I had to rush him to the hospital. There they gave him some stuff to bring the potasium level down and now they want to watch him for a few days. And of course, we're not giving him potasium pills any more. A big "Oops, someone should have noticed that" from the doctors. Nice.


Friday, April 14, 2006

Thank You For Smoking

Movie: Thank You For Smoking

Fun parody about a smoking lobbyist. While it's not laugh-out-loud funny, it has a lot of great moments, and I was really impressed by the unusual plot twists that did the unexpected (so many films today are totally predictable, especially comedies). I really liked the relationship between the smoozer dad and his son and the way he teaches his son to be just like him (we see the son out-arguing the mother, etc.). There's actually some very good information there on persuasion techniques. The bottom line is that the film's entertaining and fun, but not hilarious. Definitely worth seeing if you enjoy parodies.


Friday, April 7, 2006

Lucky Number Slevin

Movie: Lucky Number Slevin

Way overly complicated and bewildering gambling-hitman flick with twists on top of twists and falsehood on top of lies. Still, it's not bad. It's fun and interesting. The characters are outrageous, especially the over-the-top pitch-perfect performances by Gandi (I mean Sir Ben Kingsley) and Morgan Freeman as the heads of two rival gangs. There's humor that tries to be Kill Billish, but doesn't quite succeed, and some of the violence is a bit too realistic and serious and clashes with the fun. I won't even get into the plot, which deals with hitmen and mistaken identity (a young man is recruited to pay off the gambling debts of someone else), as the plot careens around and keeps changing. Overall, I give it a B -- good but not great.


Thursday, April 6, 2006

Car Update

I was disappointed my new car didn't have power door locks and keyless entry, something I've always wanted. So I had them added! It cost money, yeah, but I decided if I'm going to the trouble of getting a new car I might as well get it with the features I want, so I went for it. Why not? Now it's got everything: power windows and locks, keyless entry, cruise control, AC, CD player, XM Radio (via my portable MyFi unit), and GPS navigation (I have a portable Magellan Roadmate GPS). Pretty cool! The only thing missing is a way to connect my iPod to the stereo -- I'll either have to invest in an addon, replace the stereo with a different model, or buy an FM transmitter (the latter's the cheapest, so I'll probably start with that). Anyway, I'm pretty happy now. It's taken me a while to get used to the idea of a new car and car payments, but I do feel much better about having reliable, comfortable transportation, and it's nice having room in my driveway again. But I will be having regular oil changes on the PT, I can guarantee that! I learned my lesson the hard way. (I don't know for sure if my lack of oil maintence killed the old cars, but I'm sure it didn't help. I still don't know why cars need stuff like that, though. I'm used to computers: plug them in and they work for years. With all our technology, why the heck can't we invent maintenance-free vehicles?)


Wednesday, April 5, 2006

A Very Long Engagement

Movie: A Very Long Engagement
Director(s): Jean-Pierre Jeunet

Though this French movie is way too long for the simple premise, it's really well done. Audry Tautou plays a girl waiting for her lost fiance, who's been "killed" in WWI. She hires a private detective and searches for information, slowly unraveling a complex series of coincidence to find out the truth about her lover. She's convinced he can't be dead or she'd "know" it, and thus, despite all the odds and peer pressure, she keeps looking for him. This sounds like it could be dry, but it is isn't. Director Jeunet cleverly keeps the action going with odd twists, bizarre characters, and his unique brand of humorous editing. Unfortunately, the obvious payoff at the end is minimal, and not completely worth the wait. It's like watching a sports movie about an underdog team: will they actually win? Gee, I don't know...