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Match Play is a golf/suspense novel. Dust of Autumn is a bloody one set in upstate New York. Prairie View is set in South Dakota, with a final scene atop Rattlesnake Butte. Life in the Arbor is a children's book about Rollie Rabbit and his friends (on about a fourth grade level). The Black Widow involves an elaborate extortion scheme. Doggy-Dog World is my memoir. And ES3 is a description of my method for examining English sentence structure.
In case anyone is interested in any of my past posts, an archive list can be found at the bottom of this page.
My newest novel, Happy Valley, can be found here.

Tuesday, August 27

Three Movie Reviews

A few reviews of movies I’ve seen recently, from worst to best.

I can’t say Elysium is a bad movie, just the worst of these three. As sci-fi Elysium was pretty good, but with some jarring holes in the plot and action. It was directed by Neill Blomkamp, whose previous sci-fi success was 2009’s District 9. Matt Damon works in an assembly plant in a devastated earth, nothing but poverty and illness on a dying planet. And he suffers an accident at work that involves deadly radiation. He has only about five days to live. At the hospital where he’s taken after the accident, he meets his childhood friend, now a doctor with a daughter who is also suffering from a deadly disease. How to solve his and her problem? Somehow get the three of them up to Elysium, a satellite where the rich folk live in healthy splendor, with medical beds that can cure any illness known to man. But the plot then gets confused with way too much hand-to-hand combat between Damon (now fitted with a harness that gives him superhuman strength, with a computer wired into his brain) and assorted robot policemen and a nasty-ass guy in the employ of the head of security on Elysium, played robotically by Jodie Foster. Damon is good as a head-shaven, really buff hulk. The scenes on Elysium are excellent. The ending is obvious. The action sequences are too much right out of Terminators I, II, and III.

Second in this trio, The Butler is the true story of Cecil Gaines, a black man who served as White House butler from Eisenhower to Reagan. And we get the whole bunch played by one after the other of immediately recognizable stars. In fact, the viewer gets caught up in the name-that-star game as we see them through the years: Robin Williams as Ike, John Cusack as Nixon, Jane Fonda as Nancy Reagan, Mariah Carey as Cecil’s mother, Vanessa Redgrave as the white plantation owner who first teaches Cecil the finer points of buttling (please forgive the slang). And don’t forget Oprah Winfrey, who plays Cecil’s wife Gloria. And last, but certainly not least, Forest Whitaker is outstanding as Cecil Gaines. The man can make his 6’ 2” frame fit almost any film character, from Charles Jefferson in Fast Times at Ridgemont High in 1982 to Big Harold in Platoon in 1986 to Jody in The Crying Game in 1992 to Ghost Dog in Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai in 1999 to Idi Amin in The Last King of Scotland in 2006. His performance is very worth seeing, but the thing I’ll most remember about this film is the awful history of our treatment of blacks in the pre-civil rights movement, the movement that brought this treatment to an end. Well, not quite to an end, but we’re getting closer.

And last, but certainly not least of these three films, a most remarkable performance by Cate Blanchett as Jasmine in Woody Allen’s Blue Jasmine. I remember being fascinated with Joanne Woodward’s performance in Three Faces of Eve, during which I just knew I was watching great acting. Well, in watching Cate Blanchett in this film, I again knew I was watching great acting, a performance that will certainly earn her a nomination for best actress as well as a probable win in that category. In fact, there will be a bunch of nominations from this film: Woody Allen for best director. Woody Allen for best screen play, Blue Jasmine for best film, Andrew Dice Clay for best supporting actor, and maybe even Bobby Cannavale for best supporting actor. I won’t even go into the plot. I highly recommend you go see this just to sit and watch and admire what Cate does with this reprise of Blanche DuBois from Streetcar Named Desire.
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