Archive for April 2011
In order to keep pace with my goal of 2,000 bicycled miles, I intended to have at least 300 miles down by the end of April. But we’ve had an unusually cold spring so far… it snowed last week and there was frost on the ground this morning! Winter just doesn’t want to end. I’ve only got 145 miles in so far and I doubt I can catch up. I’d have to average over 300 miles each month until the end of October. That just isn’t going to happen. C’est la vie.
Today was fair enough to get out on the trails, but all the rain from Monday and Tuesday has caused the Cedar River to rise to flood level and a number of trails are partially underwater. Dammit. Both ends of George Wyth are flooded, as is the trail along the river opposite downtown. I took State Street, which is in increasingly worse condition (I also dodged a number of menacing dump trucks hauling material to/from 2nd St, which is being reconstructed), crossed 1st St at Main, swung by the Ice House and Island Park, noted the minor flooding along Cottage Row Rd (some houses are cut off from the road but nothing a canoe can’t fix) and almost made it all the way into Black Hawk Park before the river cut across the trail. I turned around and beat against the brisk easterly winds on my ride back to town. Logged nearly 18 miles, if my odometer is to be believed… I still think it’s cheating me on miles but I won’t be able to verify that until the 58 underpass at Waterloo Rd dries up so I can go to the gym and back (a route I know to be 3.22 miles precisely).
Seen since last Saturday:
“Jaws” – I forgot how funny Richard Dreyfuss can be when he’s angry. He’s George Costanza’s predecessor.
“Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” – I was prompted to rent this one after catching the last 10 minutes of “Last Crusade” on TV on Saturday afternoon. The action scenes aren’t bad but the film as a whole doesn’t measure up to the earlier trilogy. I liked the swarm of killer ants and the inner chamber inside the temple at the end, with the skeletons up on their thrones.
“The Passion of the Christ” – It’s kind of a shame this film has been forgotten about. It’s hard to watch it without being turned off by its pervasive violence, but I don’t think the violence should be ignored. It nails home the point of Christ’s suffering (no pun intended). It’s a good movie, and very beautifully photographed.
“Persepolis” – a cautionary tale of how well-intended revolutions can sometimes lead to an even more oppressive regime. It’d be wonderful to see the uprisings in the Middle East culminate in democratic reforms in both Iran and Saudi Arabia. But I won’t hold my breath.
“Old Joy” – I’ll write about this one later.
“L.A. Confidential” – Kevin Spacey gets lead billing but he’s outshined by Russell Crowe and Guy Pearce. There are many great scenes in this film, but if forced to choose, I’d say the interrogation scene of the Nite Owl suspects is my favorite.
Last Friday I was at work for nearly ten hours. It was gray and cold and breezy and I didn’t get much sleep the night before and I didn’t want to do anything after work besides eating dinner and going to sleep. I finally left work, drove in the rain, went straight to Hy-Vee, picked up some Chinese, returned home, changed into my sweatpants, pulled the blanket over me on the couch and put in “3 Women”. An unsettling story about a seemingly naïve young woman (Sissy Spacek) who moves to California, takes a job at a spa and instantly idolizes her co-worker (Shelly Duvall). The ladies frequent a bar run by a mute artist (Janice Rule). I don’t think Robert Altman intended the movie to be viewed as a horror film, at times it does feel like one, in a psychological sense.
I was tempted to follow up with “Death Proof”, another film with a predominantly female cast, but it was late and I went to bed.
Over the past weekend I watched:
“Fat Man & Little Boy” – Paul Newman as the military general in charge of the Manhattan Project.
“Breaking Away” – entertaining 70s movie about four local boys who take on the affluent students at Indiana U. I love Paul Dooley as the father character.
“Hanna” – a pretty good action film. Saoirse Ronan as a young female Jason Bourne. Eric Bana really should be given more leading roles in these types of films. He costs less than Russell Crowe and is more serious than Jason Statham.
“Crumb” – one of my all-time favorite documentaries. I did a bit of digging online and found out Don Donahue died of cancer less then a year ago. He published the early issues of Zap Comix for Crumb. And one of Crumb’s sisters was somewhat willing to be interviewed but Terry Zwigoff, the director, never followed through. I would like to know her perspective on her family.
On Monday I watched “The Pride of the Yankees”. Gary Cooper as Lou Gehrig. I recognized the scene where he promises the kid in the hospital two homes runs – I think that was parodied in an episode of “Seinfeld”. The film ends with his iconic speech before a packed Yankee Stadium.
On Wednesday I watched “Doctor Zhivago”. It had been maybe ten years since I had seen this movie and I remembered very little – Alec Guiness opening the film, standing in front of a large window at night; Omar Sharif as the protagonist, the family estate in Siberia covered in snow and ice. It’s worth watching for the beautiful scenery alone. Still takes a back seat to “Lawrence of Arabia” and “Bridge on the River Kwai”.
I also watched “Somewhere”, the latest film by Sofia Coppola. It’s similar to “Lost in Translation” with Stephen Dorff in the Bill Murray role but it’s nowhere near as good. Too many times it felt like it was going nowhere. And Dorff just doesn’t have the charisma of either Murray or Scarlett Johanssen.
And last night I watched “Inception”. It doesn’t feel as long on the second viewing. But good lord, there’s more than enough exposition. Yakitty yak yak. Get on with it already!
Movies seen in the past week:
“Voyage of the Dawn Treader” – the latest Narnia film adaptation. Impressive special effects marred by ho-hum characters who were more appealing in the book. The CGI sea serpent is a formidable enemy, and far more menacing than the book version. Worth renting if you’ve seen and liked the first two films.
“Arthur” – it’s not a bad remake. There were a number of witty laugh-out-loud bits in it. Greta Gerwig is even more adorable than she was in “Greenberg”. Helen Mirren does an adequate job in John Gielgud’s shoes but she doesn’t have as many memorable lines as he did. I think this is the first film I’ve seen Russell Brand in; he’s not too shabby in a comedic role.
“Salt” – This is a surprisingly great movie. A much better spy thriller than I was expecting. Highly recommended to those who like action movies, spy movies, political thrillers or Angelina Jolie (that should cover just about everyone).
“Proof” – In my opinion, Gwyneth Paltrow’s best performance. I couldn’t improve on any of the dialogue, in particular the back-and-forth between Paltrow and Hope Davis.
“North by Northwest” – I bought the restored DVD a year or so ago to replace my barely watchable VHS copy. Fantastic image quality! The opening shot of the crop duster scene looks as clear as any modern film. And I was watching it on a paltry 28” television screen. I can’t imagine how much more impressive the Blu-ray version is on a HDTV.