HOSTILES (2018)

Movie Blurb

Hostiles

I just love westerns. Not too many good ones come down the pike anymore but this one is pretty good. A bit slow and talky for an oater but that didn’t seem to bother me none. This is a thinking man’s western. With themes about the hatred of the other, brutality, love and death, and redemption, you know, the usual. Strong writing, directing and acting. Christian Bale is particularly convincing as Captain Blocker who must do his duty by escorting his old enemy Yellow Hawk back to his ancestral homeland in Montana. Complications ensue. People change. Photography of the American West is is achingly beautiful which is another reason to love westerns. Rate this 70%

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MEANDER

Word of the day: Meander

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I meandered five miles out one day along the way

 

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First I came to the place of the celestial fire

 

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A little further on a mighty fountain did I spy
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It rose and flowed into the the sacred River Sigh.

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A fitting day for fire and water I would say as I continued on along the way.  Around the bend I hit a wall

 

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But most certainly we don’t need a wall!

Is what I say

But it was a mighty fine day

Out walking along the way.

 

 

BLUE NIGHTS

Book Blurb

Blue nights

I loved this book. Wish I could write like Joan Didion. Blue Nights strikes a different tone than A Year of Magical Thinking but nonetheless it is a stunning read. It is a memory book and a book of loss. The loss of her child Quintana Roo. The loss of her husband John Gregory Dunne, and her own loss. Her perceived loss of her faculties and physical agency. She laments her frailty and the oncoming shocks that flesh is heir to. Although I must say she is in quite good form here.

Top 10 Books I read in 2017

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I read 34 books in 2017. Short of my goal of 50. This year I set my goal at 48 and will up my game.

Of the 34 books I read here are my top 10 favorites:

  1. The God of Small Things, by Arundhati Roy
  2. The Ministry of Utmost Happiness, by Arundhati Roy
  3. A Farewell to Arms, by Ernest Hemingway
  4. Across the River and into the Trees, by Ernest Hemingway
  5. Memoirs of a Dutiful Daughter, by Simone de Beauvoir
  6. Old Path White Clouds, by Thich Nhat Hanh
  7. Sabbath’s Theater, by Philip Roth
  8. The Sound and the Fury, by William Faulkner
  9. Shakespeare The Inventor of the Human, by Harold Bloom
  10. So you Don’t Get Lost in the Neighborhood, by Patrick Modiano

The God of Small Things is by far my favorite book of the year.

What are some of yours?

EULOGY FOR SAMUEL VIRGIL BELL JR.

December 27, 1925 – February 24, 2018

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I come here today, under the leave of Susan, Whitney, Chris, and the rest, not just to bury my father, but to praise him also. For this was a man who truly was a piece of work and a man much worthy of praise. He lived a long life and a life that was exciting and prosperous. It was not easy to see someone who loomed so large decline so far. For Dad lived for years with the debilitating effects of a stroke, and overtime he became weaker and weaker. This is what makes calamity of such long life. But, always he had the spark of life and he raged against the dying of the light. He had an iron will and indomitable spirit. For this man was a warrior. A warrior and a teacher.

He grew up poor on a hard scrabble farm in central Kentucky. He was a Kentucky boy who later became a Kentucky Colonel. He walked behind two mules plowing the fields in preparation for the planting of tobacco which he did by hand by pushing a stick into the ground followed by a seedling, which had been transplanted from the tobacco beds, into the hole. It was a rough row to hoe. But this work prepared him for the rough roads that lay ahead.

First came the Korean War. He went off to war as a young man and distinguished himself in battle. He had long career as an officer in the United States Navy. He retired Lt. Commander and began a second career teaching at the University of Louisville Speed Scientific School.

He married early and raised four kids. I was first born and I am the oldest. I remember many valuable lessons learned at my father’s side. Stand up straight he would say. Don’t drag your feet he would say. Those skinny jeans make you look like Ichabod Crane he would say. Needless to say, I grew a little self -conscious about my appearance but this self- consciousness soon turned to pride, and I learned how important it was to make a good first impression, and to take pride in one’s appearance.

Dad and I worked side by side building a fence together one time in our back yard in the suburban neighborhood of Poplar Halls, in the City of Norfolk, Virginia. We had many fine conversations while digging post holes and erecting that fence. He told me that I liked to make a federal case about everything and that I might make a good lawyer someday. He said that if I put half as much energy into working within the system as I did in trying to get around it I would get a lot more done. Of course, I didn’t listen, because I am just about as stubborn as he was.

We built a horse barn together one year here in Louisville at the Naval Ordinance Plant to house our Morgan mare he had acquired for the family. Of course, it fell upon me the responsibility of taking care of Belle Star. I didn’t mind though, because I loved to ride and I was always hell bent for leather.

I learned the fine art of carpentry from dad that summer and the importance of careful measurements. Measure twice and cut once he would say. Also, I learned that if you put your mind to it, you could do just about anything. Dad and I didn’t always see eye to eye on everything but I suspect that was because we were so much alike. We both were a little in love with long distance. And time is the longest distance between two places.

This is a man took up arms against a sea of Chinese. And by opposing them he helped to end the war and bring peace to the Korean peninsula. A peace, that as we stand here today, is threatened and endangered. He was a blockade officer during the Cuban Missile crisis. He was a cold warrior and a hot warrior.

Dad’s sense of honor was one thing that never grew old. And his last pleasure even, in his old age, was not money, although that helped, but rather having the respect of one’s friends, family, and countrymen. No one can blame this man. He did his duty and he lived his life with courage. Happiness depends on being free and freedom depends on being courageous. And this was a courageous man. Not only will the inspiration on his gravestone mark him out, but here in our hearts his memory will live on forever. Birth, old age, sickness, and death occur in the life of all persons.  But dad will live on in the flesh of his children, his grandchildren, and his great grandchildren. Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow.

He has ended the heartache and the thousand natural shocks that flesh is heir to. Now he sleeps. And in that sleep of death, what dreams may come? Puzzles the will. He has crossed over to that undiscovered country from whose bourn no traveler returns. Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow. The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle! Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage.

Now, let four captains carry him off like the true soldier that he was and play for him the soldiers’ music and the rites of war. And I will do for him what he did for me when I was a small boy and bear him up upon my shoulder.

 

 

 

Daddy’s Hands

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Daddy’s Hands

Daddy had a grip like steel

If he ever shook your hand you would surely know it

If he ever pulled you close you would surely feel it

He threw a horseshoe like a bullet from a gun

He served in tennis like a rabbit on the run

Whether it was a handsaw, a claw hammer, or a handgun,

He had a killer grip and the grip of a killer

And he could teach the hawk a few things about the handsaw.

Daddy’s hands.

 

BEST MOVIES 2017

Top 10 Best Movies for 2017

2017 was a pretty good year for the movies. What I liked was the movies I liked were spread out pretty evenly throughout the year. Although, I did have to play catch up at the beginning of this year (2018) to see all the movies I wanted and needed to see.

My criteria for making the top 10 list were that first of all I had to actually see the film, secondly I had to really really like the film. It had to resonate with me. From there I looked at acting, writing, directing, cinematography, originality, story, thought provoking ideas, and technical aspects.

Here, then is my list of the top 10 movies for 2017.

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  1. Blade Runner
  2. The Shape of Water
  3. Mother!
  4. The Phantom Thread
  5. The Killing of a Sacred Deer
  6. Baby Driver
  7. Get Out!
  8. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Misouri
  9. Atomic Blonde
  10. Silence

Other films I liked but didn’t make the cut:

  1. The Darkest Hour
  2. Dunkirk
  3. I, Tonya
  4. The Post
  5. Lady Bird

 

 

ALL NIGHT DINER

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Night of the all-night diners, the yellow window machine shop night where daylight was being prepared on lathes . Night of the thunderous anvils preparing the cities ironheart for tomorrow’s iron traffic. Night of the city lovers, the Saturday night till Sunday morning lovers, Making Love on a rented bed with the rent not due till Monday.

-Nelsen Algren, Man with the Golden Arm

PHANTOM THREAD

Movie Review

Phantom Thread

One measure of how good a movie is, I think, is how long it stays with you. I have been thinking about Phantom Thread ever since I first saw it a few days ago. There is much to unpack here. This movie is essentially a love story between two strong willed, eccentric people from very different backgrounds. There is also an element of a ghost story thrown in for good measure, hence the phantom part of the title. Early in the film the main character, Reynolds Woodcock, tells his sister Cyril, “It’s comforting to think the dead are watching over the living. I don’t find that spooky at all.” He sews different artifacts and relics from his dead mother into the lining of his clothes so that she will always be with him. He also sews little secret messages into the clothes he designs for his clients, the wealthy and the Royal.

This is a movie about a famous dressmaker working in 1950’s London. Another period piece for director Paul Thomas Anderson. PTA is fast becoming one of my favorite directors. He has a collection of very quirky but well put together movies to his credit. And this one is no different.  He has been nominated for five Academy Awards and has led seven actors in Oscar nominated roles: Burt Reynolds, Juliane Moore, Tom Cruise, Daniel Day-Lewis (2X’s), Joaquin Phoenix, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Amy Adams, and Leslie Manville. Daniel Day-Lewis won Best Actor for his performance in There Will Be Blood (2007). My personal favorite movie of his, however, is Inherent Vice (2014), starring Joaquin Phoenix.

The fastidious dressmaker in Phantom Thread is Reynolds Woodcock played with just the right amount of fussiness by Daniel Day-Lewis. He brings to the role the same level of obsessiveness in creating the character of Reynolds Woodcock as Reynolds Woodcock brings to creating those beautiful dresses and gowns of his. It is a match made in heaven. His sister Cyril (Lesley Manville) runs the business side of things. Reynolds is a confirmed bachelor and goes through a string of girls and drops each one as he tires of them. Then one day out for breakfast he meets a strong willed young woman, Alma (Vicky Krieps), who catches his fancy. She moves in with him to become his muse and lover. She is more than he bargained for. His once controlled and planned life is now disrupted by love. Reynolds can be cold, domineering, moody and loathe to be interrupted in his work. Alma, finds an interesting way of getting his attention and securing his love.

The film is beautifully shot by Paul Thomas Anderson and is a wonder to behold. The original score by  Johnny Greenwood  perfectly compliments the film and drives the action.

I highly recommend this magnificent motion picture and give it a 9/10.