Dear Frankie

[Amazon Link] [4.0 stars] [IMDb Link]

OK, this is kind of a chick-flick tearjerker. Frankie is a kid whose mom has run away from her husband; she's told him that his dad is a sailor, out at sea on the Accra. But anyone who knows how movie logic works can guess what comes next: Mom is put in the position where she needs to come up with the truth or find some incredibly complex way to continue the lie. (And, in the movies, such choices are always made the same way.)

But it's still pretty good, because all the actors turn in believble and compelling performances, especially the kid playing Frankie. So (speaking to the guys here), if you need to pick up a movie to impress that special someone with what a sensitive and caring person you are, this is a good choice. I suggest putting on the subtitles, though, because the Scottish accents are pretty thick in spots. And if you find yourself tearing up, for goodness' sake, think of football.


Last Modified 2012-10-26 5:12 AM EDT

12 Angry Men

[Amazon Link] [3.0 stars] [IMDb Link]

Number 21 on the IMDB list of the top 250 movies? Whoa.

It's not awful, but it's utterly shameless in its 1950's liberal preachiness. The plot is simple: a jury trying to reach a verdict in a murder trial. The defendent is a slum-dwelling generic minority, accused of knifing his father. Henry Fonda plays the saintly Juror 8, wearing white, lost in thought while all the other jurors simply want to vote guilty and get on with their lives. Juror 3, his nemesis, is played by Lee J. Cobb as a sweaty nutjob who wants to find the accused guilty as a misdirected lash-out at his own estranged son. Every other character is equally zero-dimensional and usually stereotypical.

On the other hand, it really is a pretty gripping situation: one guy brave enough to face down eleven guys and gradually win 'em over by force of argument. Steven Seagal wouldn't make a good choice for Henry Fonda's role when and if they do a remake.

Trivia: of the actors playing the twelve jurors, only the Jacks (Klugman and Warden) are still alive.


Last Modified 2012-10-26 5:12 AM EDT

TTLB Evolution

I just noticed that I've been upgraded from a Lowly Insect to a Slimy Mollusc in the Truth Laid Bear's ecosystem. This is apparently entirely due to my inclusion in the blogroll at Joe's Dartblog, a guy making a huge amount of sense over there on the other side of the state. I'm humbled and grateful.

But this transformation—is it evolution, or intelligent design? Hmm …

The Fellowship of the Ring

[Amazon Link]

I've heard that an occasional conversation starter among literary people is to admit that you've never read an acknowledged classic. Such applies to me and Lord of the Rings. (And many other books, too, of course.)

But I've long meant to. So I put The Hobbit plus The Lord of the Rings trilogy into my bookpicker system. I conquered The Hobbit a few years back. And a not-so-few number of weeks ago, my script said it was time to read The Fellowship of the Ring.

Now, my self-imposed rule is that once the "system" picks a book I must read it next, with exceptions only for newly-purchased books and library books; this can really depress my book-throughput for awhile if the chosen book is such that I keep finding other things to do besides read. And, regrettably, such was the case with The Fellowship of the Ring.

I've seen the movie, of course; it's very much the "good parts" version of the book. And, it's not to be denied that there are many, many, good parts. But (geez), there's a lot of walking, up and down hills, through forests, valleys, dales, caverns, and bodies of water. There's a lot of eating and drinking. A lot of singing, and detailed references to history, geography, and genealogy. All lovingly described, and not very likely to hold my interest, sorry.

All (of course) wrapped around a wonderful tale of an ordinary guy who's been plucked from his happy, normal surroundings and plunged into continual peril and terror, all because he's been chosen for a world-saving task that seems ludicrously hopeless. Fortunately, he has a few friends on his side.

But anyway, finished now. In a mark of how long this task has been hanging over me: the version of the book I read is not the one pictured above, but the first authorized version offered in paperback in the US, which I bought nearly 40 years ago.


Last Modified 2012-10-26 5:12 AM EDT