Thursday, April 28, 2016

On the Waterfront

My first film teacher would say a good film had three really great scenes and no bad ones. I believe that this adage applies to On the Waterfront, which was my birthday movie this year. It won eight Oscars in 1955, including Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Actor for Marlon Brando.

I've only seen Brando as Don Corleone in The Godfather, so I was unfamiliar with how mesmerizing and handsome he was when he was younger. He's perfect as Terry Malloy, a former boxer turned "henchman" for a union boss. He does it because there's no reason not to. His realization throughout the film that these people don't care about him and that he can do more with his life is fantastic.

I especially love Terry's caring for the pigeons. It adds such an interesting layer to his character. He's gentle with them, even though he was a boxer. He takes care of them as a true nurturer, in direct contract to the few people in his life who care for him. 

I don't particularly care for the character of Edie in this film. In her first scene, I liked her response to her brother being killed and thought she would be strong female character. Unfortunately, she turns out to be "typical" and I found her to sort of annoying. Also, the music at times can be a bit much, trying to convey too much emotion or suspense.

Those are minor quibbles, though, in a film that is truly outstanding.

Great scene 1: Terry and Edie are walking along the waterfront. Edie drops a glove and Terry picks it up and plays with it, eventually putting it on his own hand. When Edie goes to leave, I love how she just pulls it off his hand.  Apparently this was improvised by Brando in rehearsals and director Kazan liked it so much he added it. Check out the scene here.

Great scene 2: Terry and his brother in the back of the car. They've both been presented with the choice to betray the other. Terry chose not to, but his brother, sadly, did not. It's heartbreaking and suspenseful and fantastic in every way. This is the famous "I coulda been a contender" speech, and Brando delivers it powerfully. Check out the scene here.

Great scene 3: Terry confronts Johnny Friendly on the docks. What I like about the film is the subtle touches in costumes. Terry wears a checkered jacket through most of the film; it's old and has holes in it. But when he has his big confrontation with Friendly, he has monotone jacket, as if he's grown up. Check out the scene here.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Turning 33

I used to hate birthdays that fell on Sundays. It meant you couldn't really do anything because we didn't (for the most part) go out on Sundays. But now I am an adult and can do whatever I want any day of the week (within reason, of course). So I didn't let the fact that this year's birthday fell on a Sunday get me down!

Turning 33 means you do things like look at a home to buy on your birthday. Talk about being an adult that can do whatever I want! I made an offer on this home and we will see what happens.

Turning 33 also means I can have popcorn for lunch. Which I did when I went to the theater for my Birthday Movie, a yearly tradition that doesn't always have the best options. April isn't exactly a hot month for movie releases. However this year that didn't matter because my theater shows classics on Sundays, and this Sunday is so happened to be On the Waterfront, which would allow me to check a movie off my 35 by 35 goal of watching all the Best Picture winners. The movie was sort of amazing.

Turning 33 means that friends will make you a cake and have their friends sing Happy Birthday to you. Thanks Stepanie! 

Turning 33 means I have a dinner with my friends in Prosper and hang out with the kids (because babies are boring). I pushed them on the swings, played with bubbles, and let them take an inordinate amount of selfies with my phone. Then they placed candles on turtle brownies and sang Happy Birthday to me. I blew out the candles and made my second birthday wish.

I came home tired but on a sugar rush. It was a fabulous day, and even though I was exhausted come morning time it was all definitely worth it.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Fried Okra

I have never had fried okra. Honestly, I thought it was seafood. Okra isn't really something we eat in Idaho.

When my coworker heard this she decided it was her job to introduce me to fried okra. After much discussion around the watercooler at work about all the awesome ways to eat okra, Jessica decided she would treat me to fried okra for my birthday.

We went to Kincaids in Southlake and had hamburgers, shakes and fried okra. I can't say I was terribly impressed with the fried okra. Jessica insisted that it needed more salt and that it's usually better (although, we likely didn't choose to the best place to get "the best" okra). Regardless, I don't think I'll be choosing fried okra over fried potatoes any time soon.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Becoming a Homeowner...Hopefully

I've decided it's time to stop renting and buy a home. Buying a home is a lot of work. It's also sort of stressful, especially in this seller's market. Here in Denton, homes are going fast and for way more than the asking price. Which is ridiculous really, but what are ya gonna do.

I've already had my first rejection. I found a home I loved and pounced on it! It was old with hardwood floors and just the right amount of space. It was close to all the places I'd want to go by bike or foot.

The quest goes on.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Those Texas Bluebonnets

The blue bonnet is the state flower of Texas, and in the spring they bloom like nobody's business. Blooming right along with them is the bright red Indian paintbrush (or prairie-fire as some people call it). And also some yellow flowers. Oh yeah, and some pretty pink ones in the median of the freeway. Basically it's just flower heaven right now.
I heard about the Blue Bonnet Festival when my friend Jessica sent me this list of "39 Things You Should Do In Texas Before You Die." I missed it last year, but planned well in advance to make sure I was able to smell the flowers this year.

I made the short drive to Ennis mid-morning, which meant I would be taking photos of the blue bonnets at non-perfect time of day. Essentially the sun was straight overhead which means the pictures aren't terribly fantastic.

The best part was getting out of my car at the first stop and being inundated with the smell of the flowers. Sigh. So lovely. The rest of this post is just going to be a lot of photos, so settle in.

I love animals too, so I stopped to take some photos of the livestock. 

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Ridiculous Ranunculus

Last Thursday I went to Cardo Farms here in Denton and picked a bouquet of ranunculus (I'm unsure of the plural form....ranunculi perhaps). The field was full of red and pink and white and orange and yellow, but I went with a bouquet of orange and white. It has been sitting on my table all week long, and sadly the petals have started falling off. But for the week they were beautiful and blooming, it was lovely.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Batman v Superman

When Ben Affleck was announced as being the new face of Bruce Wayne/Batman in the DC Cinematic Universe, I think I was about one of 10 people who liked the casting. I didn't get overly excited for the film though, and when early reviews came in they were bad. So bad that someone created this fabulous video. But then, friends of mine saw it and said that it actually wasn't that bad.

This movie is tedious. Yes, tedious. It moves from plot point to plot point, to scenes for fans to an action set without any purpose or meaning. I literally said out loud at one point, "You've got to be kidding me." I blame Zack Snyder, who is a pretentious filmmaker who gives a big FU to fans who question his choices with Superman. He's no Kenneth Branagh (Thor), or even James Gunn (Guardians of the Galaxy), he's not even Jon Favreau (Iron Man). And he's certainly no Joss frickin' Whedon (The Avengers, both of them).

In my review for Man of Steel I remarked how I thought the ending meant the next installment would be a happier outing. I was not just wrong, but severely wrong. Dawn of Justice is probably more downbeat, dark and depressing. And why???? Why is THAT supposedly what sells? I say "supposedly" because take a look at some pretty popular comic book movies and they are decided not downbeat, dark and depressing: Guardians of the Galaxy, The Avengers, any of the Iron Mans, and even Captain America. Sure, they have evil they have to fight and various issues to contend with (yeah, Nazis aren't really that much fun) but they aren't swathed in unending misery.

Also, they're not shot in an exclusive pallet of washed out greys and browns. Snyder loves this look and used it in Man of Steel as well. It makes everything look flat and uninspired. Which is likely what he's going for, but for me it doesn't work. The movie also suffers from bad CGI.

I think the choice to embrace the Superman as God narrative is a massive misstep. It makes Superman a sad and dejected figure. It also makes us endure senate hearings and other political maneuverings that end up leading nowhere. Everyone gets blown up, but still doesn't trust Superman. It's not compelling.

Bruce Wayne is upset with Superman, which I sort of get, since the movie starts with the action from the previous film's ending but instead from Bruce Wayne's point of view. He sees the destruction, and has a very cheesy, over-the-top moment of hugging a little girl whose mom has died in the melee, and decides that this means Superman is the worst thing ever and must be brought down. He proceeds to hate Superman for the entire movie. But when Superman, who has come to the conclusion that he either has to bring Batman to his side or kill him to save his mom, is about to be killed by Batman he utters his mom's name. Martha. Turns out that's also the name of Batman's mom! And don't worry, Snyder is going to show you that scene of Batman's parents being killed again in case you weren't sure about it. And just like that, Batman and Superman are besties. Literally, just like that.

Lois Lane is given nothing to do in this film. She's out of place. She cradles Superman's head a lot, and tries to help him, but she's not imperative to the story. Just like all the lame political/Washington stuff, Snyder could have cut this out and made for a much better movie. Or, better yet, given Lois something to do.

She's not the only one, though, with nothing to do. All the characters operate by themselves for a lot of the movie. Then they'll randomly be put in a scene together. Lex Luthor is introduced, but there's never any inclination given for why he hates Superman. He's a bit maniacal, but maybe mentally unhinged, or maybe he's just acting. The choice of how to play him, either by Snyder or the actor, Jesse Eisenberg, was also a misstep that makes it seem like he's in the wrong movie.

This review is all over the place and just jumping around, which is what the movie felt like. Good thoughts just thrown against the wall instead of a well-planned out and executed narrative. I could go on, but there isn't really a point. I think the biggest travesty is that Superman as portrayed by Henry Cavill doesn't really get his own sequel or a chance to shine, but is instead relegated to a supporting character to jump start a film franchise that desperately wants what the Marvel Cinematic Universe has. While Marvel is in Phase 3, DC is frantically throwing things together. The lack of planning shows.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Running Again

I used to be a runner. I use the term rather loosely, as it's really just fast walking. But I've done it enough to at least have a few posts under the tag "running" here on my blog. It started with my first 5K in 2006, when I had grand visions of eventually working my way up to a marathon. Well, ten years later I've done multiple 5Ks and one 10K. However, I've never become a "runner".

I thought I would become one, though, when a Wednesday night social run popped up right next door to me. I walked by that first week and thought, "Yeah, I'm totally going to do this!" Week by week I'd walk by the guy putting up the signs as I made my way home from work. And each week passed with me never participating.

My co-worker and I have been sharing workouts since we started a GRIT 29 Day Challenge in February, and continue with the GRIT classes in March and April. We wanted to continue being active, so we decided to start going to the Wednesday night social run (which was fitting because today is National Start Walking Day, which we celebrate at the City with all employees getting a t-shirt and doing a 1-mile walk; it's one of my favorite days). 

My last run, according to my Nike Running app, was 40 weeks ago.I thought I would be terrible, but it helped to have a buddy to run with. She walked when I wanted to walk and stayed with me the whole time. We finished at a good time, considering the large gap in time between running stints.

We'll do it again next week.

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