Text From My Brother

Scott: Did you watch the movie Ted?

Me:  Of course I haven’t.

Scott:  There’s about two minutes on YouTube I will find for you.

A few minutes later, he sent me this:

I was sitting in the parking lot heading into a Project Linus event when I received it.  I rolled my eyes and clicked.  Then laughed my head off and felt sorry for all the only children in the world.

P.S.  You know how my brother is dumb?  He also sent that to our mom.


Lunchtime Conversation with My Brother

Me:  I was in DC last week and they are still doing construction on the Mall.  I asked what they were doing and Stefphanie said, “drainage and plumbing or something.”  Well, I call BS.  They must be working on the Ark of the Covenant facility.

Scott:  The Ark of the Covenant is not in Washington.

Me:    (thinking)

Scott: It was right at the entrance of the storage..

Me:  Yeah, yeah.  Fourth movie.  (If we stipulate that as part of the canon.)

Me:  That doesn’t mean anything.  It was like, 20 years later – so they moved it!

Scott:  Maybe.  But you are assuming that because Indy was in Washington, the cutaway was also in Washington.

Me:   But there was no Area 51 in the ’30s!

Scott:  Not that you know of!


(Apologies in advance to everyone in my real life who has heard this story a hundred times.)

I was home from college and getting ready to put up the Christmas tree in our living room.  I turned on the family room TV for some noise and walked away.  Several minutes later, I heard an evil little voice calling:


And froze in a panicky moment of deja vu.

I went back to the family room to look.  The movie was Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.  Dick van Dyke was in some town where children were outlawed and there was a bad man that collected all of the children and imprisoned them.  So the adults are at some meeting somewhere and the children are told to stay put and the bad man lures them out of their hiding place with lollipops.

Somehow, I had seen this as a child and been so utterly terrified by the concept that I’d blocked it out of my head.

Most people find it utterly hilarious that my, “what movie really scared you as a kid” is Chitty Chitty Freakin’ Bang Bang.  But there it is.

Yesterday, my brother e-mailed me this list of 17 Surprisingly Scary Kids’ Movie Moments.  Number Four, Baby:

If that isn’t enough for you, here is the scene on YouTube.  It still creeps me out.

P.S.  I have still not seen Bambi.  When I was a child, my mother determined that no child should have to contemplate the death of her mother, so it was banned.  I was at least in junior high before Snow White and Cinderella.  If you ask her today, my mother will tell you that The Lion King is equally unacceptable.  How this shit got past her is totally beyond me.

The Winds of War

I read this Herman Wouk novel, from my mother’s shelf, a few years ago.  It was my summer epic read.  The mini-series has been sitting on my shelf for awhile.

Robert Mitchum plays Cmdr. Victor Henry, the naval attache to Berlin in 1939.  He has three grown children:  Warren is a naval pilot, Byron is a grad school dropout tooling around Europe and Madeline is a student.  So here were are with the personal and the political converging ahead of WWII and that is really all you have to know.

As best I remember, it is faithful to the book.  However, there is a seriously diminished focus on some of the characters – namely Warren and Madeline Henry.  I guess I am ok with this, since Byron really has the best story and the thing is already really long.

This was produced in 1983, which I believe was smack in the middle of the network television mini-series heyday.  North and South, The Blue and the Gray (I didn’t actually see that one) and our beloved V.  Which means that we have to allow for some 80’s network movie cheese.  I am fine with that.  But I do find the casting a bit suspect.

Ali MacGraw seems rather old for the Natalie Jastrow character.  Perhaps that is because I remember her from Dynasty when she was playing the older generation.  Also, Jan-Michael Vincent seems old to be playing Byron – who is supposed to be the younger brother.  And Polly Bergen as the matriarch.  Well.  She reminded me of Mrs. Bennet from Pride and Prejudice (think the Colin Firth version, please) which was not a vibe I picked up while reading the novel.  My mother may disagree with me, there.

But Holy Something did Robert Mitchum rock this thing and that is not my daddy issues talking.  He makes me want to skip over reading the sequel and go straight to the DVD.

Network television should really bring back this format.


Would you believe I saw another movie this weekend?  It was a fluke – Bullitt was just starting on AMC or something when I went downstairs to the let birds out to play.

I hesitate to say there isn’t much to the plot, because when a film is 40+ years old, it might very well be the original that started the trend that led to the cliche.  But I am thinking that “cop assigned to protect a witness and it all goes wrong” wasn’t particularly groundbreaking in 1968.

Steve McQueen plays his part well and Robert Vaughn is appropriately smarmy as the ambitious politico that drags Bullitt into it.  The subplot with the girlfriend added less than nothing, but the car chase was pretty impressive.  I also had a “so that’s where they got it” moment near the end as the cop is chasing the bad guy through an airfield at night (i.e. Pacino and De Niro and Heat).  Which reminds me of how pleasantly quaint it was to see airport “security” in that year.

Overall, I am glad I saw it but do not need to add it to any collections.

Dr. Zhivago

The other day, Marilyn asked if I had seen any movies lately.

No.  I don’t enjoy the movie theater experience anymore, and I am generally listening to an audio book when I am home.

Then I thought, “I am turning into one of those people.”  Not as bad as those who brag about not having a television, but still.  So I grabbed the copy of Dr. Zhivago that I ordered after finishing the book a couple of months ago.  Not exactly cramming for the Oscars, but it counts.

As an epic book-to-film, it was excellent.  My primary criticism is that the film did not do well by Strelnikov.  In particular, it cut a scene between him and Zhivago that did a lot to make Strelnikov more three-dimensional.

What the film did extremely well (what Omar Sharif did extremely well, actually) was make me believe in Zhivago the Poet as opposed to Zhivago the Doctor.  He also made me believe that he loved his wife and he loved Lara.  Although the affair in the Urals was so sharply edited that if I hadn’t read the novel I might not have bought it.

Rod Steiger totally hit the right notes as the opportunistic bastard who has a flash of conscience every once in awhile.  Julie Christie was more pouty and less serene than I had imagined, but it was fine.

I am glad I took the time.  And will now go back to my regularly scheduled book.

In the Time of the Butterflies

http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?t=leartojugg-20&o=1&p=8&l=bpl&asins=B000063K0I&fc1=000000&IS2=1&lt1=_blank&m=amazon&lc1=0000FF&bc1=000000&bg1=FFFFFF&f=ifrIn the Time of the Butterflies, the Julia Alvarez novel, has been on my shelf for over a year.  I seem to recall it was a One Book, One Chicago pick awhile back.  It was loosely based on the true story of four sisters in the Dominican Republic that fought against a dictator in the 1950s.  Last night, when I was clicking through the free movies on hulu.com, I found the Showtime movie that Salma Hayek based on it.

I have to tell you, watching Edward James Olmos play the bad guy was really disconcerting.  I had assumed that he would play the dad.  Also, Marc Anthony has a small role as  a cute revolutionary boy, which was rather distracting in light of his recent headlines.  Also, I had to skip a scene where someone was being tortured.

Finally, it was such a short film.  I very much had the feeling that it was glossing over things.

Having said that, I bought Hayek’s performance.  She does really well with portraying the, “I am scared out of my mind but trying to keep it together,” bit.  

I am happy to say that watching this film made me more interested in reading the full novel.