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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.

Monday, October 17

Three Movie Reviews

Three movie reviews, two on very old films and one brand new.

First, On Golden Pond. Henry Fonda plays the old curmudgeon Nathan Thayer, and Fonda here is the very embodiment of the word “Curmudgeon,” feisty, argumentative, and cantankerous to the core. He and his wife Ethel (Katherine Hepburn) return to their summer cottage on what was called a pond but looked more like an extensive lake nestled in the New England setting. Everyone knows the story adapted from the play by Ernest Thompson—Nathan and Ethel reopen the cottage, daughter Chelsea (Jane Fonda) and her boyfriend Bill (Dabney Coleman) pay them a visit. They’re hoping that Nathan and Ethel will care for Bill’s 13-year-old son Billy while they take a trip to Europe. Conflicts abound. Nathan and Chelsea have never gotten along. Billy at first wants no part of these old codgers. Good story. Great acting. But when I thought about Henry Fonda and his acting career, I came up nearly empty. I’m cursed with a cinematic memory that sees and remembers nearly every movie I’ve ever seen, remembers nearly all of the films by other male stars back then. To name only a few, I can recite chapter and verse about the films of Gary Cooper, Burt Lancaster, Kirk Douglas, Jimmy Stewart, Humphrey Bogart, or Paul Newman (Ah, yes, old blue eyes Newman). Yet when I thought of Fonda, all I could pull up were The Grapes of Wrath and Golden Pond. I knew he must have starred in countless films, many of which had to be Westerns, but these two were the only ones I remembered. Even when I went to IMDB to check him out, all I found that I remembered were Red River, The Ox-Bow Incident, and 12 Angry Men. Red River was more memorable for John Wayne and Montgomery Clift than for Fonda. Same with The Ox-Bow Incident, a movie that I loved in my youth. No Fonda. In 12 Angry Men, another of my early favorites, I could see Lee J. Cobb and Jack Klugman, but no Fonda. How odd. I would like to remember him for his entire body of work, but instead I remember only two clearly and three vaguely. Sorry about that, Henry.

Another film we found on Netflix, Deliverance, the film adaptation of the James Dickey novel. This one I remembered vividly. Burt Reynolds is the macho man (You know, hairy, muscular arms and chest) who convinces his three buddies to go with him on a canoe trip down a Georgia river before the river becomes a huge dam. Ed (John Voight), Billie (Ned Beatty), and Drew (Ronnie Cox) accompany him despite their misgivings about the danger. The single most memorable scene is when Drew and a young backwoods musical savant engage in a banjo/guitar duel to see who can outplay whom. That pretty much sets the stage for the downriver ride, a duel between the city-goers and the dangerous backcountry and the dangerous denizen of the region. When Ed and Billie go ashore for a break, two locals find them and hold them prisoner, Ed strung up to a tree and Billie forced to strip, while one of the locals rides him like a pig, forcing him to squeal like a pig while he rapes him. Just before Ed is about to suffer the same indignity, Louis shoots and kills one of them with a bowshot through the chest. The other local flees. The four of them decide to bury the body to avoid a trial for murder before a local jury that would undoubtedly find them guilty. They then continue their journey downriver. The next day, Drew either falls overboard or he was shot from the cliffs above the river. The three of them make it through a section of rapids where they rest along shore, but fear that the other local is somewhere above them, waiting to pick them off one at a time. Louis has been seriously injured in the ride through the rapids and now becomes the weak link and Ed becomes the strong. Ed climbs the vertical cliff walls to wait for their assailant. What a great action film, what a great testament to strength and weakness, to present and past. I can remember this film as vividly as any film I’ve ever seen.

And finally, another film I’ll probably always remember, Ben Affleck’s The Accountant. The review were mixed, about fifty-fifty on Rotten Tomatoes. For some reason, a lot of the people in the industry don’t much care for Affleck despite his honors as actor and director of such films as The Town, Argo, and Gone Girl. In The Accountant, he does an autistically deadpan acting job playing Chris Wolfe, an accountant for various crime syndicates, helping them launder money. Besides being a mathematical genius, he was also a crack shot with pistol or rifle and a killer karate expert. Lots of questions about how he came to be and how he became part of these illegal operations. Enter Dana (Anna Kendrick), a junior accountant for a firm involving robotics. She’s discovered an odd discrepancy in the firm’s books and Chris is hired to find it. The story involves many questions about who are the bad guys and who the good. But after two hours, all of the plot questions are answered, despite one or two of the answers somewhat contrived. This was a better movie than I thought it would be, and I give it four stars out of five. Hey, Ben Affleck, I like you and I don’t care what the Hollywoodites say.
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