Archive for February, 2012

Clooney’s Descendants – J. A. Bove

I don’t what it is about George Clooney, but I can’t seem to pin this actor down. For starters, I am not a very big fan of his films. That stated, I really like the actor. Maybe it’s all the charitable work he does, who knows? He does have a certain appeal that comes across on the camera that makes you think, this guy’s all right, let’s give his movie a chance. Clooney’s staring in it after all, so how bad could it be?

Year, after year, after year, I am constantly disappointed with the results. Whether you refer to the Ocean’s series, Men Who Stare at Goats, Leatherheads, or the worst of the batch, The American (man what a disappointment) he’s constantly letting me down. So why then do I always come back for more? To this day I can’t figure it out. Well, after all those years of giving him a chance he finally pulled through for me, not only with The Ides of March, but also with his Oscar nominated The Descendants.

For the purpose of this blog, let’s stick with The Descendants. I was told that this was a must watch film, so of course I had to view it. The film is listed as a comedy/drama, but in reality I didn’t find it all that funny. To be frank … I’m still not sure what I think. Personally, it may not be my typical style of movie. I’m a man who likes action, adventure, and some good laughs. This movie was more slow paced, melancholy, life lessons, et cetera. For some reason though, it kept me watching. I was quite surprised when I learned that Jim Rash, you know, good old Dean Pelts from the NBC program ‘Community‘ actually was one of the screen writers on this movie. Dean Pelts … are you kidding me? Nice job, multi-talented.

Anyhow, the story is about (stop reading if you don’t want any spoilers) a workaholic father (Matt King, played by Clooney) whose wife has just gone into a coma. His kids are spiraling out of control and he is apparently wealthy beyond reason. He’s finally coming to grips with having to raise his children and dealing with his wife’s misfortune when he discovers that she’s had an affair. Now he becomes a man on a mission. He’s obsessed to know more. Who was it? Did she love him? Was she going to leave him? He goes on a quest with his children and his daughter’s drug-influenced boyfriend to discover the answers to these questions.

Ok, if you read on by accident, I won’t spoil what happens, but let’s just say that at some point in the movie Mr. King has and epiphany and he comes to peace with all that’s occurred. His family is now closer than they were when mom was still around and all seems right in his world. It’s one of those movies that’s meant to make you think, but I have to admit, all I kept thinking about was when are we going to see some action. It took me to the credits to realize that we weren’t … Ah classic Clooney (The American comes to mind once again).

Would I recommend the movie? Sure, the acting was solid all around from Clooney (Oscar nomination) to his elder daughter Alex King (Shailene Woodley). You certainly couldn’t go wrong with the scenery, the story took place in Hawaii, and the dialogue was witty. If you’re in the mood to have a good laugh you may be disappointed. Again, I know the movie is listed as a comedy/drama, but apart from a few scenes there weren’t many chuckles. If you’re in the mood to reflect and simply enjoy the drama, then this is the movie for you. For me, I suppose I’ll continue to give Mr. Clooney another chance, if anything, the man can act.

Fly My Plane – J. A. Bove

All right readers, quite the interesting experience occurred to me the other day … I flew a plane. Right now you may be thinking hey congratulations upon receiving your pilot’s license, or oh, taking flying lessons … good for you. Well, truth be told, neither occurred. No, I dared to venture out with a friend who has a plane and he was kind (foolish enough) to let this fool handle the controls. For the record I now have thirty minutes of flight time under my belt.

The question started out simple enough – wow you have a plane? Next thing I knew I was invited to fly north (on a commercial airline) to meet and we would go for a fly around the city (NYC). The idea was to take a quick tour of the city, do a fly around the Statue of Liberty and then get a lunch in the Hamptons. Alright, I’m a bit adventurous, and I’ve never been to the Hamptons … I’m in! Let’s face it, who wouldn’t want to buzz by old Lady Liberty .

Now I had to admit, I was a little nervous about flying solo with someone, who up until a few weeks ago, I didn’t even know could fly. Most of my friends advised me against it. My parents prayed for bad weather so we would be grounded and my wife, bless her, said if that’s what I really want to do, then go for it. Deep down I knew she wasn’t too crazy about the idea, but hey, you only go around this crazy world once and I knew I had some good life insurance, so what the heck. Plus, the guy I flew with had told me he took his kids out all the time, so how bad could it be?

I spent the early part of the day in the office and we left for the airport around eleven. When we arrived at the hanger I saw many different sizes of planes, but I didn’t see his. He mentioned his was parked it the hanger getting some work done. Ok, no problem, let’s go get it. We enter the hanger and there were a few smaller jets inside, not big, but comfortable, then he pointed to his. Now, it was a beautiful little plane, (that’s not his plane in the picture above, but it’s similar) but to call it the smart car of planes wouldn’t be a stretch.

He did a thorough inspection before takeoff and led me into the plane. Once inside he gave me a complete overview and answered any lingering questions I may have had. I did happen to ask what went wrong with JFK Jr. and why did I not need to be concerned about this happening to us. He indicated that what had happened to JFK Jr. was a perfect storm of bad coincidences, and apparently a case study in flight school, but assured me that I had no need to worry.

Well, he was right. What an adrenaline rush it was to takeoff. I never had an opportunity to view lift off from the pilot’s seat. Once we were cruising at five thousand feet he handed over control. We did some S turns along with some drops and climbs. I must of done well, because he let me fly for some time. It was exhilarating. It was amazing to fly over NYC to view the various sights in a different perspective.

One of the more interesting aspects of the flight was listening to the radio. They spoke so rapidly I had no idea how he had any clue as to what they were even saying, but luckily he did. I give him credit. We actually flew into Newark so I could catch my next flight home. It was a bit funny listening to the controller on the other end. I don’t think they expected us to land there. We had to repeat our intentions to land in Newark three times. I guess they didn’t want a runt like us entering their airspace, so they made us travel almost around the entire state of NJ before they let us land. Landing itself was almost effortless. He pointed out the landing strip and made a very smooth landing … kudos.

One interesting fact – are you like me and ever wondered what would happen if the plane lost power during flight? I was dumb enough to ask this question during flight, so he cut the power. Guess what? You glide. He said that you can actually glide a mile for every thousand feet you are in the air. Upon learning this fact, I no longer had a fear of flying. I guess they don’t just fall from the sky after all. Bottom line, would I ever do it again, you bet. Do I want to learn to fly? No, I’ll leave that to experts, but much like scuba diving, it’s a different world and one worth experiencing.

Deja Blue – J. A. Bove

All right, I know I said I would never discuss sports in this blog, but I have to make an exception due to an unexpected championship. Yes, I am a Giants fan, and yes, I am ecstatic because they won Super Bowl XLVI (46). So please indulge me, just this once.

Woo-hoo! Are you kidding me? The Giants won Super Bowl XLVI? What in good God just happened? Wasn’t this the same team that lost four in a row? Wasn’t this the same team that was embarrassed on national television by the New Orleans Saints? Yes it was. By the way, I personally couldn’t have been happier that the Saints were defeated by the 49ers, or I probably wouldn’t even be writing this blog. I digress. The 2011 Giants are indeed Super Bowl champions. This is not something that I, nor any other Giant fan would have predicted just a few months earlier. Let’s face it, coming into the playoffs they were just 9-7. Wow only 9 victories and they managed to defeat teams with wins of 15, 13, and 12 … not too shabby.

Now, considering what a surprise it was that the Giants even made the Super bowl, I did not properly plan a trip to Indianapolis; otherwise I would’ve gone. I know the average ticket price was hovering around $4000.00, but hey, this was history. I’ve never been to a Super bowl and it definitely would have been worth the money to experience this game first hand. Alas, I couldn’t find a flight and all the hotels were booked, so it was not meant to be. The good news was that I actually went to Boston earlier in the year and witnessed the Giants defeat the Patriots in Foxboro; so technically, I already did watch the Super bowl – same players, same uniforms, same result.

The other benefit of not going to the actual game was that I got to host one heck of a Super bowl party. What better opportunity to enjoy the game with family and friends: especially when they’re all rooting for your team to win. Watching my children jump from excitement as Brady’s Hail Mary pass dropped to the floor was definitely worth it. Plus, there was no waiting in line to go the bathroom, the beers didn’t cost me $10 a pop (I’m being generous here), and there were no heckling idiots sitting behind me. Gee, I sound kind of like a grump, but hey, it’s the truth. Instead, I smoked ribs and wings, cooked dogs and burgers, and enjoyed cocktails a plenty at no additional cost. Yes, I did make it to work the next day.

The only thing that could’ve spoiled this wonderful time would have been a Giant loss, but frankly, I didn’t think that was possible. Sorry, Patriot fans, I don’t mean to gloat, but come on, even you had to admit you were afraid. The Giants did just beat the top scoring team in the Packers and the number one defensive team in the league in the 49ers. Was there really ever any doubt that they couldn’t beat the feared combination of Brady-Belichick? Frankly why the Patriots were even favored in Vegas by three points still comes as some surprise to me. For goodness sake, the Giants had already beaten the Pats earlier in the year in their stadium (great venue by the way).

So finally, congrats Eli, Super Bowl MVP. Are you a better quarterback than your brother? Well, you do have one more ring than him, so give it some time, and you’ll probably surpass his stats. Are you a better quarterback than Tom Brady? Many would disagree, but coming from this bias Giants fan, why not? The guy can’t beat you and you only have one less ring in many less attempts. Could you do it again next year? The odds are certainly against you, but I don’t see any reason why you can’t.

So thanks again Giants, this season has been one interesting story to view. It’s certainly been a wild ride, but I can’t be disappointed with the conclusion. As for you readers, thanks for indulging me this one time. This blog is, after all, about entertainment, and you won’t find much more entertainment than watching the super bowl. Whether you tune in for the commercials, the halftime entertainment, or the game itself, it really is a spectacle to behold. Congratulations Giants on your well earned victory.

Bauer vs. Brody – J. A. Bove

I know this review is a bit dated, but hey, what an opportunity to watch the entire series on demand. Eh-hem, back to the post. Way to step up your game, Showtime. Last year they debuted a program entitled, Homeland. I admit, I was reluctant to watch it at first and it wasn’t until my wife insisted that we give it a try that I finally succumbed to this action packed thriller. Well … I’m glad I listened to my wife. For the record, she also insisted I watch Lost and that became my all time favorite program ever aired on television. She’s two for two in my eyes, but I digress.

Back to Homeland and why you should watch it. Were you a fan of 24 ? If you said yes, then this is a no brainer. This program involves the government, espionage, a possible terrorist threat, I could go on, but you get the picture. If you didn’t care for 24, you should still watch it. Many of the elements that might have turned you off to 24 – bad acting, ridiculous situations, bad casting, probably made you give up on that program. Luckily, there is none of that nonsense going on at Homeland; at least not in season one.

First off, you have some very solid acting. Clare Danes (remember her) makes a strong comeback in her role as Carrie Mathison, a quirky , but genius CIA  operations officer who does her best to try and thwart a terrorist plot on U.S. soil.  Damian Lewis (a new face to me) plays sergeant Nicholas Brody. He’s a prisoner of war for eight years, who was recently released and is now being suspected by Ms. Mathison to be the terrorist threat in question. Both actors do an incredibly convincing job in portraying their roles. They alone are reason enough to watch the program, but there’s so much more.

The program did a great job of keeping me tuned in each week and certainly intrigued enough to watch season two. Kudos to the writers! I will not reveal any spoilers, but season two will continue on with the initial story line intact; yet kicking it up to another level. Hmm, I’m not so sure you say. Well, if I still haven’t convinced you that this is better program than 24, let me give you my top three reasons as to why the programs, although similar, do not compare.

The acting: Granted, 24 had Jack Bauer played by Kiefer Sutherland.  Say what you will about Kiefer, but he did do a fine job in portraying his role. He was the only reason I watched the program. Unfortunately for him, they did not support him with a strong cast. There was a reason they changed these actors every year. On the other hand Homeland has Nicholas Brody, played by Damian Lewis, another very solid actor. The difference here is that Lewis is supported by other terrific believable actors from Danes, to Morena Baccarin, to Mandy Patinkin. They make the program worth viewing.

The story lines: I know you have another terrorist plot twist that’s been done to death on television. The difference here is that Homeland does a realistic job of wrapping up this story successfully enough to make you want to tune into another season. The problem that 24 had was that it was far too long. Just when they wrapped up what you thought would have been a good conclusion to the story, they add another wrinkle, then another, and another, until it goes on far too long for you to care exactly what the original problem was in the first place. Apparently a lot can go wrong in 24 hours and for this program, it did.

The broadcasting company: I know this may appear a reach, but I really do believe 24 would have been a much better program if they placed it on a premium channel. Fox may be known for The Simpsons, Family Guy, American Idol, etc., but they’re not really known for great suspense programs. I think they do animated comedy better than anyone in the business, but when it comes to drama, they tend to add a certain amount of cheese to their programs. Showtime on the other hand has now put together some fine programs, from Dexter, to Weeds, to Homeland. They know how to produce a show and it appears that they’re willing to find talented writers to tackle these programs.

Bottom line, if you’re in the mood for a fast paced, action packed, thriller that will keep you glued to the screen, give Homeland a try. I know you may be turned off by the terrorist theme by now, but the acting, and writing will keep you interested until the very end. The best part, it won’t last a full 24 hours.