Monday, June 29, 2009

Appreciative Review: Tequila Sunrise

Tequila_sunrise_(1988)Image by le0pard13 via Flickr

Every summer I make it a point to watch one of my favorite movies, Robert Towne's Tequila Sunrise. And, this year was no exception. Released in 1988, it is the second directed feature from the writer of another great (L.A.) film, Chinatown. It is a wonderfully layered neo noir film set in the distinct South Bay area of Los Angeles. Although, I often ponder if I hadn't attended L.A. Harbor College right after high school (and spent a formative portion of my student life in and around that curvature of beach area), would I care as much as I do for this film? Here, I'll let one of the well fleshed out characters from the movie answer that:
Probably not, but who knows what he's really up to? I mean you're snitch isn't going to tell us... ~ Lt. Nick Frescia

tequila_sunriseImage by le0pard13 via Flickr

Set in the Reagan-era 80's, with a soundtrack to match (like many I can't help but associate Crowded House's Recurring Dream with this movie), Tequila Sunrise is a brooding tale of deceit and betrayal, but primarily it is one of friendships. Some have criticized this film for being confusing (and its production history may have something to do with that). But at its core, it's a solid character-based melodrama that is laced with ambiguity and some ever-moving boundaries. Just about everyone in this film is not quite what you'd first assume. If you enjoy a film that needs close watching, with intricate character motives--regardless of clear moral distinctions--this one is for you.

For T.S., Mel Gibson plays Dale (Mac) McKussic, a retired South Bay cocaine smuggler of legendary proportions. Interestingly, Gibson was not the first choice in the antihero role--it was initially envisioned for the likes of Jeff Bridges or Harrison Ford. Maybe, Bridges could have pulled it off, but I have my doubts that Ford would have been as successful here as Gibson in this character. To me, he was unafraid to convey the darker aspects of this part (see 1999's Payback)--something Ford would likely have pushed to tone down. And I doubt that other big name actors would have undertook a role like this one (and so on the other side of the law). Here, the character wants to stay out of the drug business (one that he's been so good at) for a more normal life. But, as he puts it:
And I may be paranoid, but then again nobody wants me to quit.
Not so much opposing him, but being the flip side of a morally dubious coin, is Lt. Nick Frescia (who heads up L.A. Sheriff's drug enforcement unit). Most crime fiction (book or film) centered in Los Angeles, makes use of the well-known LAPD. To his credit, Towne lets the location set the story's law enforcement entity--and it provides an absorbing contrast with the lesser known Sheriffs. The vastly underrated Kurt Russell plays this character as a smart, slick operator capable of breaking the law when it helps him enforce it. Again, Kurt was not the primary choice for this role (now can you imagine Alec Baldwin or Nick Nolte as this?) Even then Laker coach Pat Riley was considered for the role (which Kurt pays homage). Like Mel, Russell is quite capable of playing the ambiguous lead (see the later Dark Blue for further proof). He's equally adept with his facial expressions (his wordless observation of a DEA interrogation is simply perfect). Personally, I think of Nick's character in the Captain Renault league.
Jo Ann: That's an awful lot of money.
Mac: Uh, fifteen million dollars.
Jo Ann: That is an awful lot of money.
Mac: Yeah, well. Money makes people predictable, at least. They'll never be reliable.

LOS ANGELES - FEBRUARY 11:  Writer Robert Town...Image by Getty Images via Daylife

To really begin to understand these two characters, southern Cal-native (and renowned screenwriter) Robert Towne sprinkles his marvelous, sharp dialogue throughout the movie in building their history and the plot-line--a portion of those interchanges I've chosen to drop in this post. Their friendship is long, and probably has always been rivalrous. And, it is the key point of the tale. The writer/director has a keen eye to the strangest of relationships: those life-long friendships that arise, and are tempered, in the furnace known as high school. I don't know anyone who claims H.S. was ever a smooth and simple part of their lives. And it provides a great springboard for the story, one that the screenwriter effectively writes quite well. The character's friendship has continued despite their paths veering to opposing sides of the law.
Nick: You got one chance, buddy, turn yourself in.
Mac: What for?
Nick: What for?!?
Mac: Yeah, what for? I told you I had an accounting problem in the restaurant. I've been holding on to money for someone, and he's here to pick it up. I mean it's his money.
Nick: I wanna get this straight. You'd kill me over drug money?
Mac: Well... it's a lot of money.
The primary impetus for the trouble to come is from the outside. For Nick, it's the unwelcome intervention by DEA agent Hal Maguire, done to slimy perfection by an extraordinary character actor who is greatly missed since his passing. J.T. Walsh built a career playing either the villain (Breakdown) or the almost invisible but key support (A Few Good Men). In this role, he's in top form as the smarmy fed (and not the sharpest knife in the drawer). He forces Nick to try and nail his friend (who he likes) to do his job for him (who he hates) so as to keep his friend out of federal custody.
Jo Ann: What is it, Nick? You need some chapstick or lip gloss or something cause your lips keep getting stuck on your teeth. Or, is that your idea of a smile?
Nick: (smiling and embarrassed) That's my idea of a smile. Ah, man. You are... you're tough.
For Mac, coincidentally, it's the complication of his friend/drug overlord "Carlos" coming to town to clear up "an accounting problem." Without giving too much away, the other greatly missed actor who co-stars, the late Raul Julia, gets to have loads of fun playing the mysterious Mexican cop Javier Escalante (brought in by Maguire to help arrest this crime lord). That, and Mac's yearning for restaurateur Jo Ann Vallenari (the gorgeous Michelle Pheiffer plays her for all her smart & sexy toughness). All of this is complicated since Nick immediately sees her as someone who can help him with his case against Mac. However, the lieutenant is just not prepared for his feelings and the resulting consequences for both he and his friend.

Tequila Sunrise is nothing if not a primer on the twists and turns of friendships, and the moral implications of choice. This movie plays better to those who watch it carefully. But if you stick with it, by the end it is so worth it, IMO. The additional visual treat of this movie is the great cinematography on display by the famed Conrad Hall. One standout scene is the sunset summit scene between Mac and Nick on the beachside with a spectacular sunset going on in the background. If you listen to the excellent commentary track by producer Thom Mount (who gives some great insight on the film's production) the impromptu locale of that sequence, in particular, is quite remarkable in its result.

sunset summit

The 1997 DVD is now very long in the tooth and is certainly in need of re-issue, remastering, and new extras (hopefully this time, with input from its writer/director) on how it evolved to its final cut. Also, be on the watch for a small but wonderful cameo by the legendary western director (and Robert Towne favorite), Budd Boetticher, in the role of Judge Nizetitch. It's a superb tribute for a director that deserves greater recognition. Now, let's end this post with a particularly killer piece of noirish dialogue that serves as a great thumbnail for this underrated film (it's one that hits home with me):
Carlos: You son of bitch! How could you do this? Friendship is the only choice in life you can make that's yours! You can't choose your family! Goddamn it, I've had to face that! And no man should be judged for whatever direction his dick goes! That's like blaming a compass for pointing north, for Chrissake! Friendship is all we have. We chose each other. How could you fuck it up? How could you make us look so bad?
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Saturday, June 27, 2009

"Let's wind the clocks back a year."

As this June ends its gloom, I'm reminded that last July brought the most popular and acclaimed film of the 2008 year. And, for the mere fact of forgetting to nominate it for Best Picture or Best Director, the Academy was so chastised that it decided this week to expand the number of films that could now be nominated. Pardon me, if I'm underwhelmed. Anyway... let's look again on the achievement that was The Dark Knight:

Strange... isn't it? It seems so much more to me now than when I first saw it. Christopher Nolan is a friggin' genius!!!

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Friday, June 26, 2009

NYC Impressions

Now that we're back from our Manhattan trip, I can put some thoughts down on a post. First... wow. What a mass of people, structures, taxis, food, sights, etc. jammed, piled, stacked (above and below ground) on to one small island! I can see why this place never sleeps. Corey reminded moi in a comment that we were The Out of Towners. And that, coincidentally, was one of films I could point to, the 1970 Neil Simon/Arthur Hiller film version, as one of the reasons I was so NYC-phobic for decades (that, and Scorsese's Taxi Driver--back then you couldn't have sent me here for free). Gee, the New York Chamber of Commerce must of loved the films of the 70's. But for another perspective, I'll quote the one responsible for bringing us here (in response to getting into some of the various famous places on the island):
With us moving from one line to another, it feels like Disneyland. ~ She-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed

NEW YORK - JULY 7:  A taxi driver, who decline...Image by Getty Images via Daylife

Let's start with what has to be a symbol of the city. Ah... the taxi cabs of N.Y. Through some of the most crowded streets I've ever encountered, they were either a nightmare of vehicular proportions or one of the better amusement park rides, ever (the latter for me). I got used to them very quickly (though I never conceived one could squeeze a car/minivan/SUV in-between and around so many moving or static objects--including NYPD patrol cars!). And who knew that my children's eyes could get so big?!? They were a white-knuckle experience for my wife, as well. Performing the same in our home town buys you a road-rage ticket, or a local news helicopter video taping your exploits. Here in the Big Apple, it's business as usual.

Every pedestrian, and I mean everyone native to this city, ignores the red lights to cross a street. And I saw some seriously considering doing it in front of siren-screaming emergency vehicles. You can clearly see the irritation on some who had to wait for the right-of-way vehicles to go by (the nerve!). But, that's okay. The taxi drivers will nudge them back on to the curb for you safety-minded. Quite a change for us Angelenos--back home, I've personally seen 2 AM drunks stand on an empty corner in barren streets till the light turns. I guess the LAPD will do that to you.

IMG_2182Image by le0pard13 via Flickr

I can safely say, I have now experienced two of the best urban park areas in the country. Our own awesomely untamed Griffith Park and this city's majestic Central Park. That one day we spent there alone had my son asking us if we could move to NYC. So many of its sights were so familiar to me since they've been captured on to so many films through the years.

Of course, it was more than a little off-putting for this parent upon reaching certain areas of the park that had me recalling that infamous kidnapping scene from the movie Ransom. I was counting heads by day's end. But, at least the sailboat pond was one of the highlights for them.

IMG_2225Image by le0pard13 via Flickr

Staying at a hotel right in the middle of Times Square made for entertainment available All Night Long. I'd never envisioned that the city of New York would supply blocked off street locations and even picnic chairs for whomever wanted to sit, relax and enjoy the spectacle that was all about them. Believe me when I say this, but those seats were rarely unfilled during the night time hours we were out.

IMG_0057Image by le0pard13 via Flickr

All in the same area of our stay were two of biggest specialty item stores imaginable. First, there was the single largest, multi-story Toy R Us store I've ever seen! This one location was so big, it had its own interior Ferris Wheel! To say that it was a parent's nightmare would be an understatement.

IMG_0055Image by le0pard13 via Flickr

Second, my children and I got to completely immerse ourselves in two stories of comic/superhero heaven that was Mid-Town Comics. All manner of comic books, graphic novels, action figures, props, clothing... every superhero item you can name, they had it. Except for the steeply stepped walk-up, it would cause Comic Book Guy to stroke out, it was a geek's wet dream. I've already unpacked my very own Green Lantern t-shirt... and warned my darling spouse that she cannot wear it as a night shirt!

IMG_2201Image by le0pard13 via Flickr

Near the end of our last full day/night in this city, we headed out for the iconic Empire State Building. Between those hawking their independent tour services right outside of it, the $20 charge each adult (kids a little less) had to pay to get one to the 86th floor observatory station (double that to get you to the 102nd floor station), and any fear of heights, it was quite something. Oh, and its gift store on the 80th floor had a great many An Affair to Remember memorabilia (including the DVD) on sale. But, the views were magnificent (my son caught this cloud cast sunset from on high).

I don't think we caught even 1% of this great city had to offer in the time allotted to us on this trip. I didn't even get over to Brooklyn, for chrissakes (over 20 years ago, I took my future wife to see the movie Moonstruck just before we got engaged--guess I'll have to settle for re-watching the DVD this weekend). But I hope we, or at least my children, in the future will return to explore more of it. I will always love L.A., but for a brief time in June, I ♥ NY (and I have the t-shirt to prove it). Finally, I'll end it here with a song that mentions the Big Apple, and matches the poignancy of this week.

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Monday, June 22, 2009

RIP: Kodachrome

The reason today for posting some of the pictures we've taken while here in New York City (see below) was the announcement by Kodak that it was ceasing production of one of its most iconic products: A Tribute to KODACHROME: a Photography Icon. At one time in my life, way back when, I carried my 35mm SLR with me everywhere (on a strictly unpaid basis, mind you) in the hope I could at least get one interesting shot. In that brief span with my Canon AE-1 and A-1, I shuttered plenty of frames that never needed to see the light of day (or a light table, or any person's sight for that matter). But every so often, there would be a gem (even if it was just me that liked it) among all that crap. And if it was in color, it was Kodachrome. I learned long ago, nothing touched its warm color saturation (I found Fujichrome too cool for my tastes, poor as that was). I'd be the first to admit that its color was way better than this photographer's

Black Canon AE-1 (1976) SLR camera from the frontImage via Wikipedia

composition, most every time. But, at least, it gave this poor amateur a sight to behold. And though my SLR's are somewhere back in a closet gathering dust, some of those good shots are on a wall in a couple of places at work, and in a few family/friend's homes. And when I walk by any of them, I recall with a mournful joy the days I shot some film (and not the digital cameras of today which I have little love for).

And yes, I'm going to do what everyone else is doing on this day. I'm going to quote Paul Simon:

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A Day in Pictures

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Happy Father's Day

Happy day to all dad's out there. And for those with very young children, here's a glimpse of what they'll start doing when they get older... and start talking. Taken on our arrival last night at the New York Marriott Marquis hotel.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

"Then something woke you, didn't it? Was it a dream? What was it?"

Sometimes, things or events just seem to coalesce on a particular theme. Jung referred to this as synchronicity. My example, film blogger Livius commented yesterday on a post of mine regarding some little noticed crime gems I have high regard for.
I personally feel the 70s, which is well represented in your choices, was the best time for crime pictures.
I wholeheartedly agreed with him. Then today, A.O. Scott's review of this classic 1975 Sidney Lumet film was posted on the N.Y. Times web site:

Cover via Amazon

Cover of
If you had to consider one film that epitomized that decade, there would be few better than Dog Day Afternoon. Reviewer Scott describes it well, here. I would only be guessing as to why that particular decade was so good at producing memorable films of this genre. Perhaps, it was the aftereffects of Viet Nam on a generation, Watergate, the introduction of gas lines at the filling stations, recession, and the urban decline of cities across the nation that spurred the juices towards the distinct content produced. Other filmmakers have done well of noting this in their later films. The initial one that comes to my mind, though, is Quentin Tarantino's first film, Reservoir Dogs. If any 90's film had that 70's crime vibe, this was it. From the music used, to the characterizations, to the various references of that decade, it's all there:

Reservoir DogsImage via Wikipedia

Strange... Living through that decade as I did (I graduated high school in '72), I was probably one of the most happiest people when the 80's arrived (mostly, I wanted to be so through with that period). But now later in life, I choose and label as some of my favorite films many from that particular group of ten years--and that more than a few are crime related says what about me? Hmm... I'm going to have to think some more about that one.

Thank you, Livius. I might have to seek professional psychological advice regarding all of this ;-).

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Monday, June 15, 2009

Captain America Returns

I can't say I was surprised when this hit the ether:
I guess the only thing that was remarkable (for those of us closeted comic book fans of old) was that Marvel Comics took this long to bring him back. After Superman's death, DC Comics waited only a year to bring arguably its greatest hero back to life--heck, they even brought back the supervillain that killed him Clark Kent's alter ego now many times over.

Marvel marked over two years since this super-hero's assassination before announcing the hero's return for next month. My estimation is they needed a certain level of clamor before bringing the guy back. And, given the general success of comic heroes in film right now (plus the continued buzz of an Captain America movie, and a later Avengers movie down the line), having a currently dead icon in comic book print just wouldn't do.

I'm happy to see him back, but CA was never at the top of my list of comics I had to gobble up in my youth. I liked him, but not in the same vein of Spider-Man, Batman, Wolverine, Green Lantern and Iron Man when I was young (guess I like them more flawed). I mentioned his return to my son after I heard this today. "Captain America is dead?!?", was his response. Either my 13 year-old needs to get out more, or Marvel could have waited longer.

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Sunday, June 14, 2009

That's 7 in Dog Years

Is it something with the weather that makes us so restless with our blog's appearance, or is it that first anniversary that makes us want to refresh our pages? ~ Corey Wilde
Funny how these things creep up on you. As as we hit gloomy June, I began to think about the blog and its imminent first anniversary. It was a year ago, on Father's Day (in golf lore that's the day of Tiger's U.S. Open fourth round at Torrey Pines, June 15, 2008), when I started this thing. And giving credit where it's due, I have Jen to thank for that (I only considered writing one because of my fellow Craisie). If I had a Stetson (like author Craig Johnson), I'd tip it your way, Jen. Plus, writing one of these weblog thingamajigs has its benefits.

Blogger Blogumus failed installationImage by wavey davie via Flickr

Not only have I gotten the chance to write something (however meager and all without the benefit of a teacher correcting me with a virtual red pen), but my perspective and outlook has definitely expanded due to it. I've taken in the extraordinary content of some talented bloggers within the past year, and all credit to them. In no particular order, these include: Jen, Corey, Nordette, Gay, Livius, Steven, Dennis, Elyse, Joshua, Tom, David, Daniel, a handful of John's (in various spellings), and others. And if I've gotten to exchange some ideas or comments with any of them, it's all been good (maybe not for them--but those are the breaks for interacting with the likes of me ;-).

Although, truth be told, what I really get out of doing this blog (hopefully) is a chance to put some of me out there in the ether for the benefit of my children. I won't always be here (though I'm waiting on Corey to discover that cure he mentioned), but maybe, there is something I can leave/say to my kids when I'm not. You see, the hardest job I've ever loved, without question, is being a father. Hey, if I changed poopy diapers (on my own), then it means I really love them. No k-i-d-d-i-n-g. I came to this parent-thing from the inverse role model school (those breaks, again). I'm always asking myself, "what would my dad do here?" Then, I know to do the opposite. Plus, to do this job even half-way decently, one must remain in the father character constantly to have any chance of perfecting it.
You just keep running that play until you get it right. ~ Bill Cosby quoting his old football coach
Needless to say, following this parent-path (which began in the mid-90's) doesn't allow much insight for the kids regarding their paterfamilias. Yes, my kids are well aware of their old man's persona (as crusty as that is). But, my role in the family makes it difficult for them to gather much beyond that. Certainly, having my children learn to make the right decisions (for later in their lives) means I have to be a father now, not their friend. Later (if Google stays around, and they do a halfway sufficient job of archiving this ongoing scribe), they might find out what made their pop tick (or is it tick pop... whatever). Naturally, after they discover that their old man really didn't have anything deep to say about life and the popular arts, they can move on to puzzle out why mom married this guy. Remember kids: if you've grown up, got educated, have a successful enough career to afford the psychoanalysis, you can always blame all of your craziness on your father... ;-)

Image representing Blogger as depicted in Crun...Image via CrunchBase

For those interested in curmudgeon-tech, you'll notice today's change in the blog's appearance. Credit for this template change goes to e-friend Corey (without his template episode this month I wouldn't have gone on to explore template changes and fixes), Amanda Fazani @ Blogger Buster for writing her help narrative and A Cheats' Guide to Customizing Blogger Templates, and the authors at Digital Nature for their freely available Fusion template. Quick tutorial: clicking on the <> in the upper right hand corner will change the layout from a fixed column (always the same size) to a flexible one (aka stretched). Clicking the AA will enlarge or shrink the font size of the blog. You think I could come up on my own with a CSS template with 2 columns (right sidebar), and fixed or fluid width?

Dream on, kids.
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Sunday, June 7, 2009

Four in a Row

I'm on a hot streak. No-doubt-about-it. With the help of bloggers The Drowning Machine and Pop Culture Nerd, I'm on a roll with regard to the last four audiobooks I've consumed. The latest was Don Winslow's current, The Dawn Patrol (which also comes out in paperback on the 16th of this month). It's killer... gnarly... righteous. Dude, it's just fun, surf 'n sun drenched crime fiction. Although surfing plays centrally in both books, this is a much different experience than the author's previous book, The Winter of Frankie Machine. I cannot bring myself to say one is better that the other--the antihero aspect of Frank Machianno is nostalgic for me (hey, I survived the 70's). Luckily, this author has more books that I've yet to read. As well, it's worth noting too, the Dawn Patrol characters are returning.

With regard to the audiobook, Blackstone Audio has produced another winner (in audio CD and MP3). Especially in using veteran voice actor/audiobook reader Ray Porter for this particular work. I'd listened to his work prior to this, and I can honestly say I was blew away with his range and versatility, here. He effortlessly moved between the distinct dialects and various characters that made up the crew of The Dawn Patrol. From the SoCal surf local Boone to the Samoan High Tide to the female type-A Brit lawyer, Petra, and a stable of others. Nothing the author had on the page challenged this narrator. He was amazing with all of the patois, slang and intonations the book demanded. I'll admit it, this was one of better book-narrator match-ups I've experienced in the years listening to the audio format.

So, I'm two-for-two in regard to Don Winslow books, and four-for-four in this run of wonderful audiobooks. And, I'm thinking (with Jen's Book Thoughts help) I'm going to extend that streak, soon.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

RIP: David Carradine

Ever since the press had reported his death, and the controversy surrounding it, I've been thinking of what I'd post for this remarkable actor. I've grown up with his varied movie and TV roles through the decades. In fact, he played one of my all-time favorite character roles, that of Cole Younger, in the underrated western of Walter Hill, The Long Riders. I'm not alone in this opinion (click here). But, to accomplish my goal, I need only to point you over to Dennis Cozzalio's post of June 5, 2009. Dennis simply and remarkably says it all regarding this actor and his contributions. If you ever enjoyed David Carradine the actor (or the personality), I highly recommend that you take the time to read his wonderful post. May David rest in peace.

Friday, June 5, 2009

The Hangover... The Review

Uh... where do I begin? Perhaps, we should start with the following:
  1. it will NEVER be shown in a college course of classic cinema
  2. it will NEVER be nominated for an Academy Award
  3. it should NEVER be shown to impressionable children
It is raunchy, profane, inappropriate, suffers from all sorts of undress, and it has no redeeming value whatsoever... except, it's funnier than hell. If you enjoyed any parts of Pineapple Express last summer, and are not squeamish--not necessarily in that order of priority--then run (don't walk) to this madness of a movie. Just don't blame me if you're sipping an $8 jumbo soft drink at the wrong time and it exits through your nasal passages. Not-my-fault. Two additional warnings:
  1. it has simply the absolute worst example of a grown-up relationship--with the most odious, contemptible, aberrant girlfriend ever put on to celluloid [and if my son EVER brings the like home to meet his parents, I'm not responsible for whatever would happen next...]
  2. James Verniere of the Boston Herald says it best, "The end titles are jawdroppingly smutty. The Ratings Board must have been drugged."
For your viewing pleasure.

Lakers 100-75

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Donut Day 2009

I am so there tomorrow, June 5th, for this. Although, that original glazed will probably require a Zantac 150 mg chaser (to get through the rest of day). But h-e-double hockey sticks, it'll be worth it for the free treat. Krispy Kreme may not be my (as he doffs his cap and places it over his heart) cherished Helm's Bakery of my youth. But it'll do, for now.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

The Woman Has Style

Before I dive into Dave Zeltserman (thank you again, Corey), I thought I'd mention what I'll be reading next (after I finish the vintage paperback adaptation of Walter Hill's screenplay of the very underrated Hickey & Boggs film, that is). In my search for something to scratch my pulp noir itch (sorry, but hydrocortisone doesn't help), I found more than a few lists with Money Shot on them. Then I read about the author, Christa Faust, and that sealed it.

From the backcover of Money Shot:

"... is the author of numerous crime and horror novels including Hoodtown, Triads, and Control Freak. She has also worked as a filmmaker, a model, and a Time Square peep show girl. Film director Quentin Tarantino once said, "Christa Faust is a Veronica in a world of Betties."

And from her Twitter bio:

"Writer. Fetishist. Pulp Enthusiast."

And anyone who can mention Mickey Spillane and Donald Westlake in the same answer to a question at a book launch party, she is someone I gotta read:

Monday, June 1, 2009

Up Thumbs

Pixar keeps defying the odds by coming up with animated movies that continue to be imaginative and a treat to view. This year's entry, Up, is the next in line that delivers that special something for kids and adults, alike. This weekend, while we were in the desert, I took the kids to the local theatre that was running this in Disney 3D. And since I'm getting older by the minute, I found myself relating more and more to this year's creation and its protagonist. L.A. Times movie critic Kenneth Turan says it best:
"... 'Up' also generates genuine emotion and it does so by dealing unapologetically with one of Hollywood's last and most persistent taboos, old people. Instead of a Clint Eastwood-type senior citizen who is fitter than people half his age, "Up" gives us a man who uses a walker and can't handle stairs but still manages to be heroic when it counts."
What it also does, simply and poignantly, is examine the gauntlet that the old [male] must run through. And that is, regret. Even though it may based on love and emotion, this is what our hero (and widower) Carl Fredricksen (voiced wonderfully by Ed Asner) must get past in this tale--and what the villain, Charles F. Muntz (a silky voiced Christopher Plummer) cannot. Add to this what Pixar has mastered, and what Dreamworks Animation is finally catching on to, the dialog-free montage sequence. This year's model adds another great one to Pixar's pantheon that is a haunting treasure (yes, I'm an old softy, crust and all). And lastly, if you're been owned by a dog (or have cared for one at any time), you'll recognize their traits captured so lovingly with the canine supporting cast of this story. I highly recommend (because I refuse to use the obvious pun here).