Friday, June 13, 2014

What My Father Said and The Week in Reviews

[I review the new movie "A Million Ways to Die in the West" and DVDs "Still Mine," "In Secret" and "Not Fade Away" as well as Rob Lowe's new book, the new Tom Douglas restaurant Tanakasan and the touring company of the musical "Once."]

But First
 

Father's Day is Sunday so I thought I would talk about my Dad. 

 
 

 
I have written about him before (in my blog "What Makes a Great Father"), but since I have been in touch with some of my childhood friends and they have remembered him fondly, it reminded me once again what an interesting Dad I had and what an all around great guy he was.
 
And he said some cool things.
 
First of all, I titled this "What My Father Said."
 
The first thing he said was, "Don't call me Father." Well, he never actually said it like that, but we never called my Dad "Father." 

He didn't like that.  He thought there was only one "Father," and if you are religious, you know who that is.  My Dad was a religious guy, but in a more spiritual way, not your "I know the one and only way" kind of religious guy.  No, we didn't call him "Father," we called him Daddy.  My mother called him that too, but let's not go there.  And my kids called him Granddaddy.

 

 
He was your company man who worked 8-5, handed over his paycheck to his stay-at-home wife and was forced to retire when he turned 65.  They handed him a watch and said sayonara. 
 
I don't think he liked that, because even when he was working full-time, he worked two and three extra jobs to have money to spend on his hobbies (guns, cars, his trumpets, and to indulge his children, which he did).  His part-time jobs included running a bowling alley (I remember him trying to show me how to bowl and I dropped the ball on his foot but nary a curse word ensued), working in a men's clothing store, working in a bakery and his real passion, playing trumpet in a dance band.
 
When he retired, he kept working and playing in that band until he died at 83.
 
What I remember most are some of the things he said:
 
Imagine that!
Until the day he died, he had a huge curiosity about everything. He was very opinionated, but he also entertained other points of view.  And despite hardships and disappointments in his life, he was always positive and upbeat and was still interested in life.  He would tell me about something he had read that amused or intrigued him and he would say, "Imagine that!"
 
You can do anything.
I had a brother, and my Dad and brother did guy things like working on and racing cars, target shooting, watching sports, but I never felt less than because I was a girl.  My Dad was just as interested in what I was doing.  He bought me my first pair of heels when my mother balked, and he gave me a budget so I could buy my own clothes.  He also encouraged my dreams to become an actress.
 
Love is doing something for someone that you don't want to do but you do it anyway and expect nothing in return.
That was the mantra.  Self sacrifice.  You do it even if you don't want to.  You don't forget things.  You get there on time.  You go the extra mile.  You break a sweat.  You do it because you said you would.  That's love.  That's how I was brought up.
 
He said a lot of other things, too, like how he always wanted to be a cowboy and education would solve the problem of crime...I could go on and on.

It's funny, though, the things you retain. 

My Dad would shake his head when trying to pull out of the driveway.  He was always amazed that there wouldn't be a car around for miles until he had to pull out of the driveway. Then a car would come along just at that moment so he had to stop.  I thought of him today in the parking lot at the gym.  I was the only one in the parking lot and was pulling out of my space and along comes ONE car so I had to stop as it passed. He was right about that.  It happens a lot. Now that I have planted this seed, you will see for yourself he was right.  As he used to say, "It never fails."
 
He also loved Maureen O'Hara.



He was a short order cook, a Mr. Fixit, a musician (he could play anything), a philosopher, a movie lover, a joke teller and a gentleman.  And he almost always wore a hat and a tie and wing-tipped Florsheims.

 
 
 
I wrote this letter to my Dad for Father's Day in 1968 when I was 20 years old.

I think it tells it all.
 
(Thanks, Mom, for saving everything and reminding me that even though I was young, I appreciated my Dad and wanted him to know it. I am so glad I did).
 
 
 
Here is what it said:

"My Dad"

1.  My Dad can whip up exotic snacks on three minutes notice.
2.  My Dad makes dreams come true:
     a.  like canopy beds
     b.  princess phones
     c.  fox muffs
     d.  little furry poodles named Caniche
     e.  sleek white sports cars
3.  My Dad sits up watching the late show, the late-late show, the late-late-late show...and falls asleep during the first one.
4.  My Dad writes books and builds super race cars
5.  My Dad drives souped-up cars so his daughter will have a groovy car to drive around town and impress high school boys
6.  My Dad knows just what to say when I am sad or happy
7.  My Dad is encouraging in my moments of uncertainty
8.  My Dad is a spiritual example because he lives his life according to what he believes
9.   My Dad tells funny jokes
10. My Dad is a combination actor-psychiatrist-hippy-comedian-guidance counselor

And because of all these things I certainly am proud that you are my Dad.

All my love on this Father's Day,





 
 
 


 
The muff and the car.





 
 
The furry poodle named Caniche.



I am glad I wrote that letter. 

I also told him again over the years what he meant to me. 
 
And I am glad that despite the fact that I lived thousands of miles away for most of my adult life, I was there at my Dad's side when he died.  And that I was able to say to him once again how I felt.
 
 
If you have a Dad who is still around who was a good Dad, don't forget to tell him how much you care and how grateful you are for all he has done for you.  And don't wait for Father's Day.  You won't regret it.
 
 
Share your Dad stories. 
 
Sunday is Father's Day!



Now on to
The Week in Reviews

 
***In Theatres Now***
 
 
 
 
 
A sheepish sheep farmer hates the Wild West of the 1850's.
 
I talk about this all of the time, but sometimes the preview of a movie contains all of the good bits (and the preview for this is very funny, which is how I found myself in the movie theatre watching it this week).   As I started watching this film, I was thinking I had been sucked in once again. I probably only chuckled a couple of times in the first half.  But I warmed to the second half and realized amidst all of the fart jokes, the diarrhea, the politically incorrect stuff and the just plain dumb, there was a sweetness here.  The story itself actually saved it, believe it or not.
 
Seth McFarlane, who tanked so miserably as host of the Academy Awards a couple of years ago, plays Albert, a cowardly sheep farmer who does all he can to avoid the various ways one can die.  You die at the fair, you die at the doctor's office, you die in the saloon.  After an ill-fated gun battle where Albert appears to be a coward,  his girlfriend, Louise (Amanda Seifried) breaks up with him for the mustachioed Foy played by "what-can't-this-guy-do" Neil Patrick Harris.  Albert plans to leave town until he meets up with Anna (Charlize Theron), who tries to help him win back Louise.  Unknown to Albert, Anna is the wife of notorious gunslinger Clinch Leatherwood (Liam Neeson) and all hell will break loose when he comes to town looking for his wife.
 
There were some funny sight gags such as Christopher Lloyd appearing with his "Back to the Future" car and Gilbert Gottfried as Abraham Lincoln, and the scene where some Native Americans capture him and plan to kill him until they realize he can speak their language is funny.  They ask him how he knows  their language and he says he was a nerd and didn't have anything to do except read and learn languages.

Giovanni Ribisi and Sarah Silverman are amusing as a Christian couple saving themselves for marriage though she is a prostitute.
 
If you can get through some of the really gross stuff, there are some laughs to be had, but the strength here is Charlize as Anna and the sweetness of the love story.
 
I saw Ewen McGregor's name in the credits as "Cowboy at Fair" so if you go, see if you can spot him.  I am still trying to figure out who he was.
 
Rosy the Reviewer says...totally aimed at the 18-39 male demographic but did I laugh?  A couple of times. You have to get through a lot of bad jokes to get to the good ones.  

I told Hubby this is the last time I let him decide which movie we go to see.  I am starting to get a reputation for reviewing silly puerile comedies.  I am a serious critic of serious films.  I am.
 
 

***DVDS***
You Might Have Missed
And Some You Should Be Glad You Did
(I see the bad ones so you don't have to)

 

Still Mine (2012)

 



Eighty+ year old Craig Morrison (James Cromwell) clashes with the local bureaucracy when he tries to build a house to accommodate his failing wife, Irene (Genevieve Bujold).

It's based on a true story and set in New Brunswick, Canada, but it's the same old story of trying to get something done and "the man" holds you down.  Who knew Canadians were as bad as we are about such things?

Craig's wife is clearly losing it and eventually falls down the stairs, so he decides he must build a single story home.  He doesn't have any money but he has land and knows how to build.  What he didn't know was the hoops he would have to jump through to satisfy the local planning commission.  Craig doesn't do well with authority so ends up in court.

Cromwell (remember him in "Babe?") does curmudgeons very well, and Bujold lets her age show, which is refreshing.  (I still remember her luminous beauty  in her big breakthrough movie "Anne of a Thousand Days" in1969).

There is a theme here that aging can be a bitch, but also include enduring, meaningful love. Craig and Irene are still in love. Those tender moments are the best moments of the film.

This is a small indie film dealing with aging.  It's a Canadian film, which explains its existence somewhat.  I doubt a film like this would even be produced in the U.S.

Rosy the Reviewer says...Predictable and a bit draggy at times, but there is gorgeous New Brunswick locales and the story is aimed at mature adults, which mature adults will enjoy. 




In Secret (2013)


Screen version of Emile Zola's 1867 novel "Therese Raquin," it tells the tale of a sexually repressed young woman, Therese, played by Elisabeth Olsen, forced into a marriage to her egocentric cousin by her Aunt (Jessica Lange).

And we all know what happens to 19th century young women who are sexually repressed and unhappily married when they meet up with young, handsome men.  In this case, it's Oscar Isaac who is more well known for this year's "Inside Llewyn Davis."

What the hell was going on in the 19th century? Sexual repression and illicit affairs certainly seemed to be themes in those days. Think Madame Bovary and Anna Karenina.  And things don't usually work out well, because the 19th century was all about paying for your sins too.

I couldn't help but think Theodore Dreiser took his "American Tragedy" from this plot (the movie version was "A Place in the Sun").  The "tragedy" is very similar in both books.  If you see it, see if you agree.

Isaac is a new leading man.  He seemed to come out of nowhere with "Inside Llewyn Davis," and now he has five projects in the offing.

And Jessica Lange has gone from ingénue (remember the 1976 version of "King Kong?") to diabolical (American Horror Story).  Here she plays an overprotective mother and domineering Aunt to perfection.

Rosy the Reviewer says...if you like bodice-ripping costume dramas based on literary classics, you will like this.



The Monuments Men (2014)



An unlikely group of men are tasked to find the great art of Europe that has been stolen by the Nazis during WWII.

We've got George Clooney as Frank Stokes leading the charge here with Matt Damon, Bill Murray, Bob Balaban, John Goodman, Cate Blanchett, Hugh Bonneville (Lord Grantham, to you and me) and Jean Dujardin (Academy Award winner for "The Artist"), all experts in some area of art and architecture helping him protect and return Europe's art to their rightful owners, mostly the Jewish people who were rousted from their homes and persecuted.  It's not an easy task because the Germans are on the run and destroying everything as they go.  They have hidden many of the items and our heroes are tasked to find them.

Based on a book of the same name by Robert Edsel, George Clooney wrote the screenplay (with Grant Heslov) and directed this story of a little known part of WW II. 

Hitler had been an art student so at least appreciated the great works, though it appeared he wanted them all to himself. He didn't much care for modern art, considering it degenerate so he had art such as Picasso and Klee destroyed .  Hitler dreamed of a Fuhrer Museum with all of the great works in one place for his personal enjoyment.  He was certainly a megalomaniac of the highest order.

Many critics were not kind to this film, but I found it intelligent, fascinating, humorous and inspiring. Perhaps critics were disappointed that this was not a war movie in the classic sense.  There are no battle scenes per se though there are tense situations and some casualties from our group of heroes. But saving the world's art is as important as saving lives.  Without art, we lose what it is to be human - our human expression.

These men were true heroes because as Frank Stokes says in the film: "You can wipe out an entire generation, you can burn their homes to the ground and somehow they'll still find their way back. But if you destroy their history, you destroy their achievements and it's as if they never existed. That's what Hitler wants and that's exactly what we are fighting for."
 
Rosy the Reviewer says...if you are looking for a war movie like "Saving Private Ryan," you will be disappointed.  But if you like intelligent dramas with humor and substance that glorifies art, you will like this.




Not Fade Away (2012)

It's the 1960's, just after The Beatles and the Rolling Stones invaded.  What do teenage boys do?  They start a band.

Baby Boomers rejoice. 

This film is the soundtrack of your youth, and it has all of those little touches you will remember: the films, the politics, the TV shows, the teenage angst, that will remind you of growing up in the 60's.

Our hero, Douglas (John Magaro) is a nerdy New Jersey kid hanging out with his nerdy New Jersey friends until they are swept up by the music of the Rolling Stones and the Beatles and realize that singing in a band will get them some girls.  Douglas goes off to college and grows his hair long, much to the consternation of his father (James Gandolfini in one of his last roles).  He and his friends are swept up in rock and roll fever and decide to head to L.A. to make it big -- just like every other young band in those days.

Father and son clash and many of us did with our parents then over our hair, our clothes, our politics, our music, but father and son come to an understanding in a poignant moment between Douglas and his Dad, Pat, made even more bittersweet knowing that Gandolfini didn't have much time left in real life.

Writer-Director David Chase, who created "The Sopranos," couldn't get much farther away from that than he does here, but he does a great job of capturing what it was like coming of age in those times.  He should.  In his 60's, he is one of us.

Rosy the Reviewer says...if you liked "Almost Famous," you will like this.   And if you are a Baby Boomer, you will LOVE this.  See it with your kids and grandkids so they can see what they missed.

 



***Book of the Week***

 
 
 
Love Life by Rob Lowe (2014)
 

This is Rob's second book, which brings you up to date since his first one  "Stories I Only Tell My Friends" published in 2011.
 
It must be 80's month for me.  Last week I reviewer Jason Priestley's memoir and now it' Rob Lowe, both 80's teen heart throbs.

Though Lowe brings you up to date with his stint on "The West Wing" and his great performance in "Behind the Candelabra," this memoir feels more like a "And then I did this" sort of thing.  He gives his opinion on acting, tells some tales about people he has worked with, weighs in on child rearing and the empty nest, talks about his sobriety and what life is like now for an aging teen idol.  He takes himself quite seriously.
 
Rosy the Reviewer says...if you are a huge Rob Lowe fan, you will probably enjoy this, but if you read his first book or you  are not much of a fan, you can probably skip this one.



***Restaurant of the Week***
 
 
Tanakasan
 

This is the latest in Tom Douglas's Seattle restaurant empire.

It is best described as Asian fusion and the food is thoroughly enjoyable, though the venue itself is rather noisy and industrial.

The rice cakes, the wedge salad with ginger-miso dressing and avocado and the Dungeness crab foo young were to die for.  I would go back just for those.

Service was excellent, though we were there on a Sunday at an "unfashionable" time (5pm), so it's difficult to say what it would be like if the place was full.

It's part of "Assembly Hall," a Melrose Market sort of place sharing the building with the Via Apartments, a plant shop, a take out market and a bike store.

Rosy the Reviewer says...Delicious and different addition to the Seattle dining scene.
 
 
 
 
***Musical Theatre of the Week***
 
 
 
 
 

First there was the movie and the Academy Award winning song ("Falling Slowly") and then there was the Tony Award winning musical.

To recap, two lonely musicians meet in Dublin and share their music and a bittersweet connection.

As I watched this musical  version, I couldn't help but wonder if the Broadway show was lost in translation from the movie or if this touring version was lost in translation from the Broadway show or a combination of both.

I recently saw a play on the West End in London and was struck by the incredible production values and talent I saw and it made me wonder if all of the touring versions I see of the Broadway shows are of the same caliber.  Since I don't have the funds to go see the shows on Broadway and then compare those with the touring companies, I will never know.
 
But I can say that "Once, a New Musical" was a disappointment compared to the excitement I felt watching the movie in 2006.  The singing and acting was fine, but giving this small film the "musical treatment" detracted from the intimacy and poignancy of the original film.  I just didn't feel anything at the end.
 
Can you take an 85 minute movie and add another hour to it and come out with something as lovely as the original?  I'm not sure.  The music was much the same, which means that the extra minutes included stage business, dancing and extra dialogue and characters.  I plan to watch the movie again to see what I think now that I have seen the play.  Maybe I won't like the movie as much now.  Who knows?
 
Rosy the Reviewer says...see it, but just don't expect it to be the film.

 
 


(Me on the Red Carpet - LOL)
 

 


That's it for this week.
 
See you Tuesday for

"Today is the First Day of the Rest of My Life"

and, if you can,  don't forget to

thank your Dad on Sunday (and every day)!




 



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2 comments :

  1. Love this -- I never get tired of hearing about my grandparents. I, too, wish I could have known them better, but have fond memories of the time I spent with them, and enjoy hearing stories about them through you. Plus, getting to see more evidence of my fantastic genes doesn't hurt, either!

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