Monday, August 31, 2015

Today: This and If | The King of Norway

I've been catching up with the final season of Boardwalk Empire lately.  Last night I saw the episode called The King of Norway, and today cannot stop watching this scene:

Seriously.  I've been nearly compulsive about watching this scene today.  Over and over and over and over.  It's so perfect in so many ways.  The writing, the acting...  The effort each character puts forth to keep their version of a civilized veneer in place...  It's simply delightful.

If an Eli & Nelson spin-off show had been possible, I would have watched.  Don't get me wrong, I'm happy it wasn't possible, things are better this without what would have inevitably been a terrible spin-off; but I love this team so much that I totally would have watched.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

LOVE This Lady. | The Daily Show Moment of Zen | August 4, 2015

After the book promo (a great book, BTW), spend a moment appreciating the lady in the diner - LOVE her.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Repost from April 12, 2014 | Everything is A-ok with David Letterman

I thought of writing something new about Dave tonight, in honor of his last Late Show, but when I read post I wrote for his birthday, well, it says it all for me.  What I'm saying is, this post is a rerun, so:  Go watch Dave say farewell.


Dave.  I love the guy.  Not like a stalker who breaks into his home.  Not like an obsessive fan who duct tapes him to a chair for an intimate dinner.  More like I loved my bicycle when I was a kid.  Or something similarly essential and integral to who I am, a brick in the foundation of my personality, from way back when, but not something I make much fuss about on a day-to-day basis.  Yeah, like my bicycle.

It was 1984 or 1985.  I was 13 or 14 and spending the night at my sister's house so we could catch an early flight to Chicago to visit our Grandparents.  My sister and her husband were up late, packing and doing laundry.  I was bored and not tired, just sort of floating around their house, unsure what to do with myself, and so they told me to watch this show they had on.  So I did.

When I returned from Chicago, I programmed the family VCR to tape Letterman each night and watched it each day after school.

The reason I'm writing about this isn't to stake a claim, or to somehow create a virtual band T-shirt to prove that I was there first.  I wasn't.  I was a kid.  And I was there a couple of years late.

But I was loyal.

But that isn't even the point.

The point is:  I'm not sure what to do without Dave.

I was raised by television, and during key years I was mostly raised by Dave.

And as an adult with regular insomnia, or rather an adult who experiences occasional restfulness, I still catch The Late Show a lot.  It's comforting and soothing to me.  It's like I can still take my bike out and coast down the empty backroads of the exurb where I grew up, pink, purple, blue summer sunset on the horizon.  When I spend time watching Dave's show, it's like time flattens and compresses, every time is occurring at the same time, and all is a-ok.

To think that won't be an option soon makes me seriously concerned about my world.  Well, that sounds dramatic.  Maybe more dramatic than accurate.  No, that's it.  I am seriously concerned.  It's not like this is a surprise.  I had been feeling like the end was coming soon, and that Dave was nearing "Imminent Carson" (an appropriate, classy and elegant exit).  Intellectually I understood it and supported it, but now that it is here I find I am wholly unprepared.

Look, I know his retirement will be a-ok, too.  He is leaving me with a similarly bright, nerdy, AP-class kind of a guy who, like Dave, has learned to use his powers for good and not evil.  Not always nice, but definitely good.  Plus, I've got some time to adjust to the idea.

Yes, I know it's all going to be a-ok.  I'll always be able to find him on YouTube or whatever comes after that, and whatever comes after that.  And no matter what year I find him, and no matter the year of the clip I find, nor the quality of the clip, I will feel the calm, cool confidence of tooling around on my purple bike, wearing my purple Esprit sweatshirt, surrounded by a purple dusk - all alone, but a-ok.

Still, right now, I'm just not sure about it all.

Regardless, it's time for me to stuff my feelings about all of this and focus on the day:  Happy Birthday, Mr. Letterman.  I've said it before and I'll say it again, yours is the only celebrity birthday I have memorized.  I know that says something about me, and whatever that is, I'll take it.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Favorites | Lean & Wilder

Billy Wilder, in 1990, asked David Lean which movie that Lean had directed was his favorite.  “I can choose without any hesitation,” Lean said.  “SUMMER MADNESS (1955), or as you call it here in America, SUMMERTIME.  It starred my favorite actress, Katharine Hepburn, and it was filmed in my favorite place, Venice.  And the subject is the most basic and pervasive of all: not love, but loneliness.  The idea of tragic loneliness appealed to me.”

From The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Instagram.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015


Today, I spent my evening catching up on BETTER CALL SAUL, and made it as far as Episode 5 ("Alpine Shepherd Boy").  Toward the end of that episode, Mike Ehrmantraut was watching a movie, and from the brief snippet of audible dialog, I could tell it was THE AWFUL TRUTH.  (I knew there was a reason I've maintained a soft spot for Mike, in spite of everything).

I started this blog to become some kind of expert of screwball comedies.  I think this anecdote proves that I am now an expert.  Of some kind.  The kind who can name that tune, movie-wise.

Cary Grant wasn't even in the clip, it was all Irene Dunne & Ralph Bellamy.  That's gotta rate up there by way of difficulty.  If this had been a game show, it would have been the challenge just before the last commercial break and I would have won some really nice luggage.  So, uh, high five me.

This isn't the scene that I heard in Mike's living room, but I'm sharing it anyway...

While I'm at it, here's a little bit of Mike too.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

DIY Double Feature | BOYHOOD and THERE WILL BE BLOOD or TREE OF LIFE | Wait for it...

This DIY Double Feature may seem a stretch, and maybe it is.

While watching BOYHOOD I was a bit on the fence as to how I felt about it.  Not until the final scene, when it won me over.  Rather than feeling like I had just seen a self-contained story, neatly wrapped up just before the end credits, instead I felt like the entire film was all primer, and the ending was just the start of the point of it all.  The rest was up to me.

What got me is the discussion about how it's less that we seize the moment and more that the moment seizes us.  Moments just keep coming, each day we are awash in moments, and maybe it's the volume, maybe it's necessary for survival, but we classify most moments as insignificant and forgettable and then life becomes a blur.

They can't all be winners, we do have to pick and choose, but perhaps it's just a matter of being more aware of the potential in any given moment - there may be more potential than we realize.  Maybe it's not so hard, maybe we don't have to go into battle to seize one, but instead just - to use a new and over used term - lean in.

Another film I experienced in a similar way was THERE WILL BE BLOOD. Not in the life affirming way BOYHOOD delivered, but in the brain prodding way. "I'm finished." - did wrap up the story, but it also prompted me to look outside the story to the larger implications - and the weight of history seemed to inform the future and...  I felt finished too.  We're all finished if we don't... act better somehow.

Now that I think of it, TREE OF LIFE did something similar, only without the final/near-final line that served as the post-movie contemplation kick-off.  And it's actually, probably, a better companion piece to BOYHOOD.

So, you choose.  Pair BOYHOOD with TREE OF LIFE if you want to feel pensive but hopeful, watch BOYHOOD with THERE WILL BE BLOOD if you need a more bracing experience and feel up to really giving things a good think.

No matter what you choose, let the film wash over you and wait for the end before giving anything much thought.

All three together would make an interesting study of boys, men and life in the modern United States.  But who has time for a Triple Feature?  (And who has time to write an extended piece for a blog no one reads, on that topic that might make people want to make time for a Triple Feature?  I should make time, but I'm pretty sure I won't).

Note: TREE OF LIFE is part of another DIY Double Feature, so check that out.

Released:  2014
Writer/Director:  Richard Linklater
Producer:  Richard Linklater, Cathleen Sutherland, Jonathan Sehring, John Sloss
Leads:  Ellar Coltrane, Patricia Arquette, Lorelei Linklater, Ethan Hawke
Genre:  Drama

Released: 2007
Writer:  Paul Thomas Anderson; based on Oil! by Upton Sinclair
Director:  Paul Thomas Anderson 
Producer:  JoAnne Sellar, Paul Thomas Anderson, Daniel Lupi
Leads:  Daniel Day-Lewis, Paul Dano
Genre: Drama, Epic

Released:  2011
Writer/Director: Terrence Malick
Producer:  Sarah Green, Bill Pohlad, Brad Pitt, Dede Gardner, Grant Hill
Leads:  Brad Pitt, Sean Penn, Jessica Chastain
Genre:  Drama