“Fast Five” : Mean and Sleek

Summer = movies with furious car chase scenes and lots of bang-bang, lots of muscled heros and bodacious babes, and as much popcorn as one can stand to ingest in one sitting.

So here’s the first summer action movie of 2011 (even though it is not even May:  Hollywood and self are always anticipating):  “Fast and Furious Five”

You have to hand it to Vin Diesel: He knows his fan base, and he rarely deviates from a successful formula. There he is, making a grand entrance in the midst of a car heist that is taking place on a moving train — you could almost hear the entire audience at the Redwood City Century 20 (quite a few of whom were middle-aged, if not older) give one long collective AAAAAH.

He doesn’t attempt to grow hair, thank God. And his arms look like Read the rest of this entry »

Surprise/s of the Evening: Last Sunday in March 2011

Dinner (chicken and pork adobo) has been served.  Now self is watching the first Bourne movie (Still the best!  Matt Damon looks so young.  Whoever was responsible for casting this movie displayed sheer genius).  Suddenly, in a panning shot of the control room in Langley, Virginia, self sees him:  Boyd Crowder.

He’s just in a corner of the screen.  Self waits, and he re-appears.  Yes, she’s sure of it now.  Especially since, a few moments later, he has to stand up and utter a few lines of dialogue.  That certainly is Walton Goggins, who plays Boyd Crowder in “Justified.”  And, what’s simply amazing, he seems hardly to have aged at all, though this movie was filmed in 2002, and “Justified” is of course right now:  2011.

A while later, self hears once again the immortal lines:

Bourne:   You take care of this car?

Marie:   What do you mean?

Bourne:   Tires felt a little splashy on the way over.

Marie:   It pulls a little to the right.

This movie has one of the best car chase scenes of all time.


Random Thought # 1:  Don’t you just love how posting anything on Facebook, no matter how inane, makes you *sound* so busy, so connected, so alive?

Random Thought # 2:  Self has just read a scene in Joseph Finder’s Power Play.  Our hero has to turn on an Apple computer while, outside the room, a vicious gang of armed men are wandering around, threatening to kill a score of hostages.  The computer starts up with a noise like the start of a “Beethoven symphony.”  Our hero waits, watching tensely while the screen lights up with the Apple logo.  The computer “crunched and crunched.”  At this point, self was faint.  Hurry up and boot, you stupid Apple computer!  Otherwise the hero can’t get on with it!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Self Watched “Unknown” Yesterday and Lived to Tell the Tale — Er, to Deliver This Capsule Review

Self is quite bemused at Liam Neeson’s turning into the new Harrison Ford.  Whatever.  Even at his age, he is very easy on the eyes.

The plot of this movie hinges on Liam Neeson absent-mindedly leaving behind his briefcase (with the all-important identifications, i.e., a passport)  at the Berlin Airport.  He doesn’t discover the loss until he arrives at his hotel, and then has to catch a cab to take him back to the airport.  Since this is movieland, the cab Neeson hails turns out to be driven by a woman.  And not just any woman:   Diane Kruger. What are the odds, dear blog readers?

Diane Kruger turns out to be a refugee from Bosnia:  her whole family was murdered, etc etc.  And, more important, she turns out to be conveniently un-attached.  There does happen to be a male friend, but he has a wife and children back in Senegal.

Now, aside from being a wicked/good cab driver, Diane Kruger apparently knows all the best underground clubs in Berlin.  And in addition possesses enough arm strength to man-handle (or at least do creditable damage to) two of the meanest-looking thugs you ever saw wearing dark coats.

The theater at the first screening yesterday was absolutely full.  Full of middle-aged people.  Wow!  Our generation has finally found its new poster boy!  Liam Neeson!

The only boring part of “Unknown” was the car chase scene.  Everything moved at a fairly predictable clip (Self forgot to check if Mr. Neeson’s car was a stick shift):  self knew that some cars would turn turtle and crash, and that some other cars would blow up, and that some would hit Liam Neeson’s car broadside, and that no one would be able to catch up to Liam Neeson and Diane Kruger.

In the movie, Berlin looked very very cold.  Self has been there in October, and it was actually quite pleasant.  A very important scene takes place at a photography exhibition.  The exhibit consisted of blow-ups of people’s faces in extreme close-up.  Self couldn’t help but think:  Stella Kalaw is way better than this!  Stella needs to get herself an exhibit in Berlin, on the double!

So, yesterday, self saw a couple of fab previews.  One was of that Matt Damon/Emily Blunt Matrix/Bourne clone whose title self cannot remember; another preview was for Battle:  Los Angeles; yet another had Ryan Reynolds taking off his shirt for only the xxxxth time (for The Green Lantern of course); and, most thrilling of all, James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender!  Together in an X-Men movie!  Oh happy happy joy joy!  Self loves that James McAvoy is so versatile.  She certainly likes him in action mode.  The other day, she was able to catch “Wanted” on TV.  That was a truly enjoyable movie, one of her favorites the year it came out.

Of additional interest:  self decided she was hungry enough to spring for the Black Angus beef hot dog sold at the movie concession stand.  She must admit:  she’s been itching to try it ever since it got added to the food offerings, perhaps a year ago.  Imagine her shock at being told the price:  $5.  And it didn’t taste noticeably different from the regular hot dog, which is Nathan’s.  Since self thought it would be too embarrassing to tell the check-out girl that she had changed her mind, she actually did fork over her $5.  And afterwards thought:  How unbelievable!  You have just paid $5 for a length of hot dog that’s about six inches (not, of course, including the bread, which would make the over-all item longer)

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Pre-Superbowl Saturday TV Viewing: All Action Movies, All Afternoon

Self spent the whole afternoon on the AMC Channel (Trying hard to stretch out her reading of Henning Mankell’s Before the Frost, that’s why!), watching one great movie after another: First, Steve McQueen in “The Great Escape.” Then, Steve McQueen in “Bullitt” (Self very struck by the somewhat modernist-ic touch of having no music at all in many scenes). And, currently showing, the very very great “The French Connection.”

This movie (“The French Connection”) was groundbreaking in so many ways:

  • Introduced Gene Hackman to the world.
  • Introduced shaky cam (Hello Bourne movies?) to the world.
  • Introduced razor-fast cutting to the world.
  • Introduced the unforgettable line, “You ever pick your feet in Poughkeepsie?” to the world.

It was made only a few years after “Bullitt” (to be specific:  three) but was light years, just light years ahead in terms of editing, camera technique, etc.  (Hmm, wonder how old William Friedkin was when he directed it?  And was this his first movie?)

And now self would like to turn to issue of Vanity Fair that appeared in her mailbox today:  the “Hot Young Starlets” issue (And, apparently, everyone is white.  Oh Zoe Saldana, where are youuuu?)  The issue in which James Cameron is anointed “the Visionary,” and Kathryn Bigelow and Jeremy Renner are billed as “the Battle-Scarred”?  Whaaaat?  Who thinks up these captions?  (The picture of James Cameron makes him actually look almost hot.  At least, it shows him doing some kind of wide-legged action stance with his camera.  And the one of Kathryn Bigelow is the only one self has seen that makes her look, well, older than 35?  To go with the “battle scarred” caption, perhaps?)

The big news of the weekend is that Channing Tatum did it!  He did it!  “Dear John” killed “Avatar” at the box office this weekend!  Finally, “Avatar” ‘s seven-week domination is over!  Self was getting so tired of hearing about the blue people and their wonderful visionary so-PC cultural world view! (Though she still likes Saldana and Weaver, and OK Worthington is cute and not a bad actor)

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

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