Eye in the Sky: Not Your Average Military Movie

Dear Reader

I recently heard a celebrity say on a podcast how she cries during films on airplanes more often because the altitude opens up tear ducts. I believe this, though don’t want to bother researching a scientific topic right now. Why am I trusting?
When I returned from a long weekend in Sarasota Fl, without ingesting any depressants, I experienced an emotional response unlike any I usually experience. Sure, I am retiring and have cried about this bittersweet event, but this catharsis was more profound. It probably results from ending a long journey like LeBron James’s reaction to winning the NBA playoffs. I have a feeling though, altitude plus a hearkening back to pivotal moments and decisions in my life were the cause.

The beauty of ageing is you learn to feel less embarrassment about expressing sentiments, and so I have no regrets about emailing from a horizontal position on my Kindle (which if you are a constant reader, you know how the typing looks). I meant what I wrote, altitudunal (new word) tear duct influence or no.

And speaking of emotion, what’s better than a Dad who likes to see movies with his daughter on Father’s Day? Dad’s choice was Eye in the Sky at the discount theater. While I held out hope that the all star cast would live up to the Rotten Tomatoes rating, I also was my usual cynical self. I haven’t seen a military movie worth anything since Zero Dark Thirty and even that was lacking…see how cynical I can be? Tear ducts closed!

Gavin Hood, the director, actually appears in the film, and does a great job as the fatherly ‘get some rest son’ type military leader.

I was pleasantly surprised by not only great story telling through economical dialogue, but even more refreshing, a concept of military leaders making decisions based on more than an automoton mindset. Helen Mirren, can’t beat her, Alan Rickman, God Rest His Soul. Even the typically smarmy Aaron Paul played against his typical exaggerated machismo. Definitely worth a rental. Now I want to know how realistic the drones were (bird and giant fly shapes), yet another science tech idea that I don’t have time to research….I’d rather go to the movies:)

Sicario: Del Toro “I Woke Up Like This”

What must it be like to wake up as Benicio Del Toro, put on a nice suit or SWAT gear and be ready on set. He’s not so much an actor as someone who is gifted to have ‘the look’, the dark, brooding, borderline sinister resting face.

Or Josh Brolin? Who only needs to add chewing gum and swagger to deliver sarcastic gold.

For that matter, in ‘Sicario’, directed by Denis Villeneuve, Emily Blunt, who merely needed one pained expression throughout the 2 hour movie.

I’m not saying ‘Sicario’ is worthless. Our Mexican drug lord concern has been over run by our fear of you know who, and yet the fat lady hasn’t hit the stage to sing the ending to the drug war. It’s just that we have a short attention span and would prefer to simultaneously inhale network fear mongering mixed with Trump extremist chastisement for wanting to allay said foreboding.

What’s redemptive about ‘Sicario’, a wonderful supporting role by Daniel Kaluulya, whose last name makes me want a White Russian. But seriously, his role as Emily’s ‘brotherly’ co-worker was the most nuanced role of the film.

The other outstanding feature was the sound. Both explosions and suspenseful music seemed to stand out, perhaps due to the banality to the plot and acting, or maybe because it truly was unique.

But the the topography and travel overload (here’s a google map, here’s a plane ride, here’s a car trip) are not appropriate substitutes for character development and emotional resonance.

Gone Girl, I Rest My Case

Miraculously my surprise was intact by the middle of “Gone Girl” despite its notoriety as a best selling book and that the movie had been out for ten days. I take partial credit, not reading the New Yorker review, which is notoriously plot synopsis.

I enjoyed three quarters of the film until Ben Affleck’s character acquiesces into 98% of Caucasian males, with an impish shrug, and a “Duh, whatever she says.” But I guess that’s what makes books and movies worthwhile at times, giving the public some topic to rail against.

And while I’m on a mini rant, I’d like to go back to men of the old days, you know like FDR, who I had a re-education on thanks to Ken Burns week long series. Could our President get involved with the people of this country. Go down to Ferguson and make a speech to end the violence and racial oppression and head on over to Congress when the clowns are working and give them a lecture. If there was ever a time when a lame duck could do us all in, it’s now. Ebola on one side, Isis on the other, (here I am stuck in the middle with you). Our country desperately needs someone who speaks up, and takes charge. And if a man can’t do it, then bring on Hillary!

And for the love of God, don’t sleep or shower with a woman who would let you rot in jail, not even if she’s Rosamund Pike, who has about as much white bread charisma as Gwynneth Paltrow. (on behalf of the keep Joan River’s spite alive:)

Philip Seymour Hoffman: A Double Header Pilgrimage

Living in Rochester, New York grants me the privilege of seeing Philip Seymour Hoffman movies on the big screen once a week for the next few months at the grand Dryden Theater (George Eastman House). And since one of his last movies “The Most Wanted Man” opened at the independent Little Theater on Friday 7/25/14, I gladly took in a double header of PSH films.

Listening to the podcast “On Being” this morning afforded me the musings of an artist by the name of Dario Robleto, “Sculptor of Memory”. Mr. Robleto spoke of how art is our way of keeping deceased family and friends in our memory. Watching the films “State and Main” and “The Most Wanted Man” is an obvious way of memorializing.

Having met PSH very briefly during his visit to the Little for the opening of Flawless doesn’t in any way make me a friend, but being of his generation and having lost a friend to addiction in 2000, keeps me rooted in this loss, in a good way, a way of keeping memories alive.

“State and Main” from 2000 showed that as in Boogie Nights, PSH can deliver poignant vulnerability. I had not seen the film before last Wednesday and was struck by Mamet’s renowned razor sharp dialogue, William H. Macy being the antagonistic foil to PSH’s sweetness. The only thing negative about the film was the cheesey music that curdled in the background of the budding romance scenes between PSH and Mamet’s real life wife, Amy Pidgeon.

I feared going to see “The Most Wanted Man” after spending a miserable couple of hours at the adorable Burns Court Theater in Sarasota Fla watching “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy”, another John Le Carre novel-turned movie, but hooray for Andrew Bovell, a far better screenwriter!

Instead of the flat terrain of “TTSS”, The Most Wanted Man at least provided an incline to a climactic finish. PSH was never better as a depressed failure of espionage yet a character who still had enough punch to duel with the always fantastic, but in need of a new hair-do, Robin Wright.

And while it may sound shallow to comment on a woman’s hair, I do so, only because of what I discovered in my own life. I found that getting my hair chopped off was one of my tendencies toward self-loathing, along with an ultra strict diet, both of which I am proud to say I moved on from in my more self-confident middle age. Perhaps RW’s hair is a positive choice for her, I’m simply commenting on the sadness in her eyes, maybe more than the characters she portrays. Chalk it up to my Masters in Counseling observation skills.

Certainly seeing a sad over weight PSH mad me sad, but simultaneously I benefited from the beauty of one his last do-not-go-gentle-into-that-good-night performances.
In addition here’s to my friend Mary whose red headed Irish temperament also hung on to her bitter end. To remembering!