Good News

Well, after a scare at the end of last week, things took a turn for the better over the weekend. Grandpop was back to his old self (well, at least he was back to having some strength and liveliness), although he did check himself out of the hospital a day early against doctor’s orders. I’m worried about him, but at least he seems to have most of his facilities back. He still gets confused much easier, but what can you say about a guy who’s 88?

And I got to go out birding on Sunday, which I desperately needed to do – it’s been too long since I had gone out on a good all-day trip, especially to someplace different. I’ve been wanting to go to Sandy Hook for a long time to see some rarities, and I’ve also wanted to visit Great Swamp NWR and a place called affectionately “The Pole Farm” in north-central New Jersey. Unfortunately, Shari wasn’t able to go, but the day out birding and walking around was especially therapeutic for me. Not only did I get to see some pretty cool birds (including 6 species of birds of prey at the Pole Farm alone, 8 for the day), but in spite of the weather, I enjoyed just sitting outside and relaxing while watching the birds.

Back at the Ranch

Back at home, Shari and I settled in for a couple of movies this weekend – soemthing we have been doing a lot of with the writer’s strike that has sapped what little good programming remained on the schedule. Lately, we have been opting to do more and more ‘free’ movies – that is, those that are already included in the cost of our FIOS service via OnDemand or the movie channels (see below). But the downside of looking for the free movies is that they run out fairly quickly, so we had to turn to a couple of newer movies this weekend – paid for by my parents generous Valentine’s Day gift. The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford wasn’t my first choice on Friday night, as I thought it might be a little … slow; Shari disagreed. Turns out I was right – the film is a slower-paced movie meant to bring you into the characters. Aside from being a slower movie, which isn’t a bad thing just a little tough when you’re tired, it was really good. Brad Pitt did an exceptional job as Jesse James, and the whole cast made the film – a period piece about the killing of Jesse James – well worth watching, even if just for the amazing cinematography.

The next night, I got to pick, and we ended up watching The Kingdom, a Michael Mann shoot-em-up about a terrorist attack on an American compound in Saudi Arabia and the FBI investigation that goes on to find the killers. It was exactly as I expected it to be – fairly formulaic with a lot of explosions and Jamie Foxx being the hero with a crack shot with his gun AND his wit. The cast was chock full of people you know – Chris Cooper, Jason Bateman, Jeremy Piven, Kyle Chandler and a much under-utilized Jennifer Garner. It was interesting to show the dichotomy in how the U.S. is viewed with respect and hstred in the same country – and sometimes by the same people. It wasn’t Schindler’s List, but it wasn’t bad. I will say that the opening sequence was frickin’ awesome.


Like I said, lately, we’ve been watching a lot of movies, and some have been surprisingly good. Of course, if I was better at updating this blog I would have had these up a while back, but … well, you know how it is.

  • Loggerheads – A surprisingly good film about three sets of people whose lives intersect in interesting ways from the Sundance channel. As the tagline says, “One son. Two mothers. Three endangered lives. A bit said, but well written and acted. Grade: B+
  • Eragon – this was not very good. I liked the book, although I found it a little adolescent (but considering the author was 15 when he wrote it, what would you expect), but they never really helped it out when they made a movie from it. If this was the first I’d heard of this story, I would have never read the book. Grade: C
  • Ghost Rider – Nicholas Cage should be ashamed of himself. As a comic fan, it’s hard to believe that he turned out this dreck – and his normally wooden acting was even more so here. Grade: F
  • Ocean’s Thirteen – Not bad, really, but a disappointment – another movie franchise that has jumped the shark. With the cast they had, you would figure that they couldn’t make a bad movie, but they certainly tried. Grade: C
  • Mr. Brooks – Kevin Costner is another actor who has slowly become a joke regarding his craft. However, I actually found him to be pretty darn good in this thriller as the ‘guy next door’ who seems to have the perfect life – except for that annoying voice in his head (played very, very well by William Hurt) who wants him to kill. And things get more interesting when someone sees him – and wants to learn the craft. Grade: B+
  • Flightplan – Jodie Foster as a mother who ISN’T going crazy when she says that she has lost her daughter aboard a new jumbo jet – even though there is no record of her daughter ever coming aboard the plane. It’s got paranoia, hijackers, terrorists and a plot to steal millions of dollars. And Jodie Foster as the passive-agressive hero, of course. Shari liked this one better than I did. Grade: B-
  • Flags of Our Fathers – the first half of the Clint Eastwood epic duology, this WWII tale tells of the heros who took Iwo Jima and raised the flag (at least the ones that made the famous photograph). It then shows how the three surviving men are thrown to the American public as heros that they don’t want to be, in order to help America win the war. It was very good, but not as good as the critics made it out to be. The battle sequences were pretty strong, though I think that Saving Private Ryan did them better. Grade: A-

Here you go – the latest and greatest batch of links…


3 Responses to “Good News

  • Glad to hear your grandfather is doing better. I’m not driving my tractor across the Pole Farm, not that there is anything wrong with that

  • So glad that your grandfather is doing better!

  • That is great news indeed! He’s obviously very strong, a fighter. Good for him.

    I haven’t seen any of the movies you reviewed. I keep meaning to start reviewing movies I watch, but so far I haven’t done so. It’d be pretty amusing since we’re on an extended bad movie kick that’s a lot of fun.

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