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Found 13 results

  1. Remembering the wonderful Burt Reynolds, I watched "Deliverance" last night for about the fifth time - I can't get enough of this movie, which is about the ultimate in "guy buddy movies." All four actors have comparably important roles, and both Ronny Cox and Ned Beatty made their major film debuts with "Deliverance" (both of those links should be of interest to you). James Dickey is an outstanding author, and made an important cameo in this film towards the end. I've always enjoyed this poem by Dickey, entitled "Falling" - you can read it in several minutes, and it will leave an impact on you. I think it's so romantic that Burt Reynolds, until his dying day, maintained that Sally Field was "the love of his life," even though it was an unrequited love - he truly loved her. If you haven't watched "Deliverance," do yourself a favor, and watch it, start-to-finish - it's a wonderful movie, and I could easily see it going on someone's "All-Time Favorite Film" list, even though it might not be "The Greatest Film Ever Made."
  2. The Watergate Scandal is the first news item I can ever remember being thoroughly *sick* of hearing about (I was 11). Forty-five years ago today, there was this: "On This Day, Nixon Assures Reporters He's 'Not a Crook'" on upi.com
  3. It about kills me to put this video up here, but the one person in the world I'll do it for is the great Roberto Clemente, killed in an airplane crash while making a humanitarian visit to earthquake victims in Nicaragua. He was 38 years old, and was still arguably the best right fielder in baseball at the time - it's hard to believe he was a year *older* than Frank Robinson, a pretty darned good right fielder himself, and whom you can see scoring the winning run here, the game before, off a Brooks Robinson sacrifice "fly" (if you want to call that a fly). This video is Clemente's second World Series championship, and his interview begins just after 2:06:30 (I have it set to this). Shortly after one year later, he was gone - I cannot believe I'm about to say this, but I'm glad for both him, and his mom and dad, that he won this World Series. Other than perhaps Jackie Robinson, can you name a greater human being who ever put on a mitt?
  4. Don: You have referenced the Capital Classic several times. I never attended one of those games. I have a Reference to those players, though. (Had to research this to get the year). In 1990 I was at a Bullets game that must have been played the day before or after The Capital Classic. At halftime I was on the concourse level when approaching me was a “gaggle” of incredibly tall, remarkably skinny young men. They were the players from the Capital Classic that year. As tall as they were there was one guy who was an astonishing head and shoulders taller than the next tallest players. A “freaky” tall giant among giants. It was Shawn Bradley, at 7’6”, one of the tallest people in the world and one of the 5 or 6 tallest players in NBA history. Freaky tall; stunning. I’ve spent a fair amount of time with a family friend who is 6’7” or 6-8. He is my brother’s life long friend and someone I’ve known since I was about 7 or 8. Shawn Bradley simply dwarfed the players who were 6-7, 6-8, 6-10 or so. Freaky giant in scope. Probably ordered twice the number of beers I’d normally purchase at the concession stand. 😏 Closest I ever got to the Capital Classic
  5. Does anyone remember "Adventure?" (that's what I used to call it, anyway). I used to play it in the late 1970s, and thought it was about the most fun thing I'd ever done. In the early 1970s, my parents bought me a game from Sears called "Odyssey" which was played on your TV screen using mylar overlays. In truth, the best part of Odyssey was "Pong," which was the inspiration for Atari's arcade game of the same name. The worst overlay (these were like sheets of plastic wrap that stuck to your TV screen due to static electricity) was the "Skiing Game," during which the player would guide his dot down a ski slope. There were no penalties for leaving the slope (the overlay was just a solid piece of purple plastic with a transparent "ski slope" running down it), and no rewards for successful navigation: There were no points, there was no clock; It just ... was. This skiing overlay was so lame that I can't even explain it properly. Come to think of it, *I* wrote an interactive-fiction game when I was 14 for my Computer Math class when I was in 9th grade. Players were flying through space, and the game would give them options - I even had a graphic monster, and in some instances, the players spaceship would fly into an asteroid and blow up (this was all text-based, of course - even the graphic monster).
  6. I remember watching "The Mechanic" (1972) with my dad when I was a child. I'm in yet another "Jack Reacher" mood, but don't want to completely waste my time - I remembered enjoying this as a child, and it's in a similar genre (sort of), so why not relive my childhood, and watch something with some historical merit? Besides, it features bad-ass Charles Bronson as an assassin - what more could you want in a mindless action film? Note also that producers Robert Chartoff and Irwin Winkler would go on to produce "Raging Bull" eight years later. What a difference a superstar director (Martin Scorsese) makes! "The Mechanic" is noteworthy in that it has *no* dialogue of any kind for the first sixteen minutes (I knew this going into the film). This was particularly interesting to me because at around the two-minute point, a single, dissonant, ominous-sounding, organ chord starts to build up, Bolero-style, and you wonder how it could possibly go on for another 13 minutes - mercifully, there's a lull in the tension, and it dies down. One thing this sixteen minutes of no dialogue does is allow for a leisurely presentation of the opening credits, which you don't mind, because there is action taking place on the screen. The first shot of Arthur Bishop (Charles Bronson) in his own environment shows that he is a man of taste - while alone in his thoughtfully furnished abode, he turns on a beautiful, overture-like piece on a cassette recorder - probably a slow movement from a symphony - highlighted by angelic-sounding violins, and (this is the advantage of having a food and wine critic do your film reviews, because I suspect I'm the first person in history to mention this) is drinking a bottle of Cheval Blanc, and given the age of the film, and Cheval Blanc's vintage track-record in the 60s, my guess would be that it's a '64 - he didn't decant it, so it couldn't be too old - but he needs a better claret glass than he has. This type of juxtaposition with the gritty and the urbane is exactly why "Road House" is a guilty pleasure of mine, and why I occasionally enjoy films like The Mechanic. How's this for a blast-from-the-past and product placement? The Mechanic is an interesting take on the classic tale of The Great Master taking on an apprentice, with some natural talent, under his wing. Early in the movie, you may recognize Keenan Wynn, who starred in "The Man in the Funny Suit" (he was the son of Ed Wynn), and thus, once again, so many things trace back to Rod Serling. Keenan Wynn played Harry McKenna, whose son, Steve McKenna, was played by the rising (and since hard-fallen) star Jan-Michael Vincent, who is The Mechanic's apprentice. This is sort of like an amoral version of "Jiro Dreams of Sushi." *** SPOILER ALERT *** Given that they only touched on Bishop's character development (albeit clearly showing he's depressed, anxious, and lonely), I'm not convinced that a man of his skill-set - which is nearly superhuman - would so willingly take on an apprentice without testing him "to the max" first - and by "to the max," I mean, having him kill someone and putting his (McKenna's) entire life in Bishop's hands - Bishop never tested him like that, and it's simply not plausible that he would have taken McKenna on so willingly without having done so first, not when he's playing at this level. (I should add that I'm only an hour into the film, and have forty minutes left, so he may have something else up his sleeve, but Bishop essentially showed his hand to a virtual unknown, without asking anything in return first). Someone *this* good, with this much invested into his lifestyle (and I mean, Bishop was the *ultimate* assassin), would never take that risk without having something heavy and lethal to hang over McKenna's head - just in case. Well, there are less than twenty minutes left in the movie, and it's been obvious for awhile that the entire paragraph above was justified, but naive. I am very curious to see how this is going to play out, and wondering how Bishop is keeping his sanity. You'll know what I mean when you see the film (they recently arrived in Italy). Funny, I just rewatched "The Departed," and there is some overlapping thematic material in these two movies (as in, "rats like cheese"). Who's going to crack first, I wonder - the underlying tension introduced in the past 10-20 minutes is now permanent until something happens. All I know is this: Any film that makes you worry about the fate of a cold-blooded killer can't be all bad, but I'm nearly 100% confident that Bishop is going to be okay, and I'll tell you why when I finish the film - the answer was right before my eyes about forty-five minutes ago. The movie is over, and I was wrong. I thought *sure* the karate match between the old master and the young, cocky kid who broke the rules (about an hour into the movie) was a direct parallel to what would happen at the end. It wasn't, and I'm shocked that Bishop would put himself in the position he did, regardless of what eventually happened to McKenna. This movie "broke the rules" of drama by not letting me take advantage of the foreshadowing I saw, but I guess everyone got their comeuppance in the end, so it's dramatically complete, and really - where was Bishop going to go? For that matter, where was McKenna going to go? His snuffing of Bishop was *not* sanctioned by Bishop's employers (even though the film could have made that more clear), and they were angry about Bishop taking him on as an apprentice. It's still not clear to me why Bishop would unilaterally take on a partner without even asking his mysterious, shady, yet clearly *very* powerful bosses - he was only asking for trouble, and sure enough, he got it. I also remember the last scene of the movie very well, although I didn't remember it was from this film (I last saw this with my dad when I was eleven). It is just not reconcilable that Bishop would do this to himself, and that's the one fatal flaw in The Mechanic - he was too smart, with too much to lose, to let himself slip up like this, especially when he knew it was coming. Yes, he essentially "insured" his life, but to what end? Thus, The Mechanic just isn't a great film - it's a good action flick, with slightly insufficient character development, and inadequate justification of the choices Bishop made - it's worth watching as long as you know you're not seeing anything profound, but it just doesn't make enough sense for any intelligent person to buy into. And there you have the opinion of DonRocks.
  7. Just a notice to all my fellow Sumo Fruit (aka Dekopon) fans that their rather brief season (a month, maybe) is upon us. H Mart has the boxes of 7 a la many other boxed fruits you find at Korean markets for $19. Whole Foods (Fair Oaks, at least) has them loose for $3/lb. these are roughly the same price, I think. I just bought 6 of them and it will be a struggle not to come back tomorrow to buy even more and stockpile them!
  8. This is either the perfect time, or the perfectly wrong time, for you to watch this wonderfully innovative, groundbreaking, "death-by-a-thousand-cuts" movie, lambasting the media's involvement in our political elections - I'd seen it twice, most recently about a year ago, and decided I wanted to watch it again this evening. Robert Redford does a wonderful job in this film, and so does Don Porter, masterfully portraying the hilariously named Crocker Jarmon, the opposing candidate (who sounds just like Walter Cronkite - the kind of voice that can put the public at ease while he's spewing complete B.S. - I think the name "Crocker" is also a quibble on both "Cronkite" and "crock.") - both men make this seem like a hyper-realistic Senatorial race, and Peter Boyle with his media-strategy team don't lag far behind. This film is excellently written, and Jeremy Larner deservedly won an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay. If you're up for it, "The Candidate" is a good, lighthearted exploratory criticism of our media-driven election system - I didn't enjoy it this evening as much as I previously remembered, but it's a solid film, and worth watching. The film is now 44-years old, and is only slightly dated (dated mostly because it features two *men* running for the Senate in California); its themes carry forward very nicely to this day-and-age, and the scene with Redford unable to contain his laughter is a classic comedic moment. There's also a medium-small cameo (not subtle) by Natalie Wood.
  9. A proposed opening year for "City" has been projected for 2020. Of course it was supposes to be completed in 2005 and 2010. City is a monumental earth art project by land artist Michael Heizer located in Nevada's Garden Valley. When completed the project will be approximately 1.5 miles long by .25 mile across, or roughly the same dimensions of the National Mall. The project is a series of complexes which draw inspiration from ancient ritual cities, such as Chichen Itza. The complexes are constructed from onsite earth, rock and concrete. Heizer owns the land and the project has been hidden by its remote location and earthen berms. However, several photo galleries have been assembled. Here and here and here. Garden Valley was designated part of the Basin and Range National Monument in 2015. Heizer began the project in 1972 and it has been funded primarily by the Dia Art Foundation and Lannan Foundation, with an estimated cost of $25 million. It will eventually come under the stewardship of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Multiple articles have been written about the project: NY Times (2005) LA Times (2015) New Yorker Magazine (2016) Needless to say, Garden Valley, Nevada is now on my list of places to visit. For those interested the GPS coordinates are: 38°01'48" N, 115°26'10" W Aerial photo by Paul Saffo
  10. I watched "The Godfather" from start to finish for only the second time in my life a few days ago, and my overall impression might not curry favor with movie fans: While it must be watched with full knowledge that it was 1972, and the films that came before it were nothing at all like it, my takeaway was that "this film is certainly not underrated." I'll raise the ante a bit by saying that Marlon Brando's performance might be one of the most *overrated* performances I've ever seen. Mind you, "overrated" doesn't mean "bad"; it just means overrated - Brando was deified for this performance, and I don't see all that much in it that merits deification. He was *good*, he was even *very good*, but I can't see this performance and call it "great." I found it very difficult to keep track of peoples' names, in particular the suspected crime bosses who were betraying the Corleone family, and Marlon Brando - cotton stuffed in his cheeks - was almost unintelligible at times. That said, I've been watching a lot of films in the past couple of years from the late 60s and early 70s, and the viewer *must* watch the film in that context. Just six years before, we were enduring such tripe as "Alfie," "Fantastic Voyage," and "One Million Years BC," among some of the better films from 1966. Even among the best of those films, "The Godfather" must be considered groundbreaking. I remember very well when my parents and my aunt went to see it, and it was a *huge* deal to them to be going out to watch this movie. "Is It Just Me, Or Is 'The Godfather' Overrated?" by Joe Rivers on sabotagetimes.com "Is The Godfather Overrated?" on answers.yahoo.com "Is The Godfather (Movie) Overrated?" on quora.com "'50 Most Overrated Movies" on imdb.com Obviously, I trolled the internet looking for the terms "Godfather" and "overrated," and there are plenty more links to be found (look for yourself), but you can also find just about anything you want to on the internet - it has a 99% "Tomatometer" rating on rottentomatoes.com (95% by Top Critics), so I'm clearly in the minority here. That said, I would also rate the movie both "Excellent" *and* "Overrated," so I don't see a conflict here.
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