Friday, May 29, 2015

Tomorrowland and San Andreas

       “Good night and have a pleasant tomorrow” 
             (as best I remember it, the sign-off-phrase from Tom Snyder from The Tomorrow 
             Show [NBC, 1973-1982, running just after Tonight and several hours before Today])
          
                               Reviews and Other Commentary by Ken Burke
              
 Sorry to be so late in posting this week but somehow my “lovely” computer erased everything I had typed (including the backup file) during my usual Wednesday-all-day-and-late-night-assault on my sanity so I had to start all over on days when I didn’t have much time available to work.  If one of those geniuses in Tomorrowland could devise a more fool-proof-computer than this unpredictable and frequently-freezing-thing that I’m working with then maybe I wouldn’t feel so frustrated so damn often, but I guess that's just how computers function.  I’ve tried to at least be competent in this 2nd version but with the nagging feeling that the first one was better. However, one change in the critical landscape better justifies that I don’t review any more options than I do on a weekly basis, as the hallowed New York Times has decided that it will no longer guarantee coverage of every film that opens in their city (because a good number of distributors were sponsoring brief runs in order to get product publicity prior to a primarily-intended-video-release), so I’m glad to see that they’ve finally taken my attitude toward the methods of necessary education of the masses and cut back on their coverage.  Now that they’re more in sync with me, let’s see what I’ve had time to get to and finally write about (twice) during this past week.
             
Take care, curious readers, for plot spoilers gallop rampantly throughout the Two Guys’ insightful reviews.  Therefore, be warned, beware, and read on when you’re ready to be transported to … wherever we end up.  Please protect your eyes from the dazzling brilliance.
              
                                                Tomorrowland (Brad Bird)
               
A teenager stumbles onto a magical place in another dimension where top minds are working on making the greatest society possible but suddenly she’s back on Earth being hunted so she tracks down an older guy who presumably has answers as to what’s going on but he doesn’t want to be involved—then the trackers show up leaving him with no other choice.
               
What Happens: This story begins in our present day as we seem to be getting direct-address-information from upper-middle-aged Frank Walker (George Clooney) and teenaged Casey Newton (Britt Robertson), but we learn much later that this is an orientation to a new generation of Audio-Animatronics (that’s robots to us, although you’ve seen Mr. Lincoln and others like him at Disney theme parks; the ones in Tomorrowland, though, are much more sophisticated in active movement and passible artificial intelligence—whether they’re at the A.I. level of Ava in Ex Machina [Alex Garland; review in our April 30, 2015 posting] is a matter for a different, and intriguing, discussion) in another dimension who are being primed to search Earth, recruiting another new generation, but now of the best and brightest humans to help bring optimism and wonder back to our beleaguered planet.  All of this understanding comes at the very end of Tomorrowland, though, as most of this movie is told in flashbacks narrated by Frank or Casey.  In Frank’s case, we jump back to the 1964 New York World’s Fair (NYC borough of Queens; almost a decade later I lived close to where that all took place), with promises of “a great big beautiful tomorrow just a dream away,” even as young Frank is upset that his not-fully-functioning jetpack isn’t accepted as an inspirational invention by David Nix (Hugh Laurie); however, he does catch the eye of a girl about his age, Athena (Raffey Cassidy)—although we later learn that she’s also a robot—who gives him a small pin with the letter T; as he tries to follow her on a boat into the initial incarnation of the famous "It's a Small World" ride (this mind-infecting[numbing?]-song and video presented especially for my wonderful wife, Nina, who’s yet to understand my ongoing obsession with this colorful excursion) a laser scans his pin after which he’s transported to Tomorrowland where a robot fixes the problems with his jetpack, allowing him to fly gracefully through this futuristic city, then meet up again with Nix and Athena.  

 As we eventually put the whole plot together we find that Frank stayed in this world of wonder where he invented a machine that harnessed tachyons, enabling anyone to see into the past or future; however, the tragic end he saw for planet Earth so depressed him that he was banished in 1984 from this other dimension (as was Athena later on because she continued to try to recruit geniuses like Frank to fix the sorrow overtaking once-cheerfully-optimistic-Tomorrowland).  Back in our present day, Athena left another one of the T pins with Casey’s belongings when she made bail after being arrested for trespassing at the Cape Canaveral, FL launch site where her NASA engineer father, Eddie (Tim McGraw), is soon to be unemployed due to cutbacks in the program so Casey was attempting to sabotage the dismantling of the site.  When she touches the strange pin she finds herself in Tomorrowland but is yanked back to Earth when the pin’s power runs out.

 Precocious Casey (a budding genius herself, even smarter than Frank on the Tomorrowland rating scale) slips off to Houston after finding a sci-fi/fantasy store website with mention of her strange pin but when she tries to find out more about it the Blast from the Past shop owners, Hugo and Ursula (Keegan-Michael Key, Kathryn Hahn), also robots, try to kill her, with a last-minute (yet ultra-destructive) save coming from Athena who then whisks Casey off to Frank’s upstate NY secluded/fortified home where he wants nothing to do with the questions that Casey’s barraging him with; she does gain access to the house, though, just before more robots arrive on the attack.  Frank manages to provide another loudly-explosive -scape, followed by a trip with Casey and Athena (still as a child, of course, as robots don’t age the way we do) to Paris’ Eiffel Tower where he tells them how Gustave Eiffel, Jules Verne, Nikola Tesla (Is Elon Musk an investor in this movie?  Full disclosure, my niece, Amanda Kindblad, works for his innovative car company but I doubt that this plug will get either of us a discount), and Thomas Edison long ago gained access to the alternative dimension where they set up Tomorrowland as a site for creative discovery in an attempt to provide a better future for Earth’s population (all of which ties into the Disney philosophy of Imagineering, celebrated at all of their theme parks where joyous escape from mundanity is the intent but especially at Epcot which more directly lauds the wonders of creative technology—I don't expect this plug to yield any rewards either).  These pioneers also left a machine-age-looking rocket (with echoes of the ride that now graces the entrance to Disneyland’s Tomorrowland where Verne’s fascination with the future is celebrated in an attempt to not have to keep designing attractions that speak of yet-undiscovered-wonders, allowing the galaxy-long-ago-concept of Star Tours, the small-scale-freeways of Autopia, and the complete fantasy of the Little Mermaid submarines to no longer have to justify themselves in an area where the only real future-oriented-rides are the Monorail and Space Mountain) that Frank uses to transport himself, Casey, and Athena into this movie’s Tomorrowland dimension, where Governor Nix still presides over a depressing, dilapidated location awaiting the countdown of less than 2 months until Earth’s total destruction from wars, dwindling resources, and disastrous climate change, the source of Frank’s frequent anger and pessimism.  
            
 Yet, Casey’s still hopeful for an alternate scenario, even though Nix wants none of it (long ago he used Frank’s machine to send images of such disasters to Earth in an attempt to “scare straight” the populace, but instead of inspiring furious attempts at change all he got was an embracing of such chaos, as indicated by public interest in dystopian Futuristic Sci-Fi [such as Mad Max: Fury Road (George Miller; review in our May 20, 2015 posting)] and Disaster [such as San Andreas, reviewed below] movies, so he’s now oddly-hell-bent on bringing about final destruction of our planet by using Frank’s Monitor machine to send a barrage of his encouragements for such doomsday actions to Earth to finish the job of predestined catastrophe).  However, more optimistic attitudes save the day as our 3 heroes battle Nix with Athena being mortally wounded (I guess that “damaged” would be more appropriate relative to her existence, although she tells Frank how she did have amorous feelings for him which both of them assumed couldn’t be returned anyway—nor, as previously noted could she age her mechanical body to match his years of physical maturity) in the process so she urges Frank to use her self-destruct-mechanisms to destroy the “negativity machine” (Nix, the cad, dies in the process), allowing us to get back to where we started with Frank and Casey sending out a new cadre of robots to recruit humans whose hopeful attitudes and mental abilities will generate such enthusiasm for a better future that one will actually come about.

So What? Rarely have I come across a movie where I agree so wholeheartedly with the ideology that it’s espousing yet I have such a disappointed attitude toward how the whole thing manifests itself.  This saddens me because I know there are plenty of U.S. politicians and their faithful followers who already will reject the planet-saving-issues being espoused by Tomorrowland as being too ideally optimistic about rejecting war (even as voices grow louder for a return of American “boots on the ground” in the Middle East to destroy the homicidal forces of IS/ISIS/ISIL [pick your abbreviation]), acknowledging human responsibility in drastic climate change (even as floods ravage my former home state of Texas just as drought keeps choking the life out of my new home of California), and overcoming greed (even as income disparity is priming the American populace for another revolution, further justifying the increased billions that many of our leaders want to spend on defense against everyone, from a flood of desperate immigrants trying to become citizens to supposed-social-regimentation from our own government [on this topic, the robots sent to terminate Frank and Casey are disguised as Secret Service agents]); there’s already enough 2016 campaign rhetoric flying around about securing borders, protecting American exceptionalism, and cutting back on environmental laws in the name of expanding business profits to not have counter-messages such as the ones that Tomorrowland wants to promote be rejected simply because the movie itself becomes too strident in its preachy tone, leaving the (misinterpreted) image of socialist-society-managers on the march, imposing activist-mandated-policies on a wary population.  I figure that if someone such as me (who strongly supports what this movie wants to encourage) finds that the message delivery comes across as too jumbled and fervent then there probably won’t be much hope that its uplifting-intentions will be internalized and celebrated enough to make the necessary differences that would keep Governor Nix’s vision from becoming our only reality rather than just a possible one.  (I have to admit that when I see those final images in Tomorrowland of the young, enthusiastic robots setting out to recruit new converts to the rosy future envisioned by Frank and Casey—I’m not sure whatever happened to her Dad—I can’t help but think of the hilarious reference to such eager missionaries in Trey Parker, Robert Lopez, and Matt Stone’s hugely-successful [nine Tony Awards, including Best Musical] satire on religion, The Book of Mormon [2011].)

 Further, for a statement about the superiority of challenging ideas and hopeful intentions, a tremendous amount of screen time is spent on the destruction-derbies of robot attacks on Casey and Frank, crazy inventions that seem to come more from Fantasyland than Tomorrowland (Frank and Casey escaping his besieged house in what is essentially a flying bathtub; the Eiffel Tower rocket which jumps into that other dimension simply by turning around to speed toward Earth [And, for that matter, how did the originators of this future-focused-society ever get there or bring anyone else? Certainly not in this one-time-use-rocket; later Nix opens a portal between the dimensions but that results from the very-high-tech-options which certainly weren’t available to Verne and company, so the whole dimensional-travel-concept gets murky, as do the problems Casey has with being transported to Tomorrowland yet constantly being hampered by walls, stairways, water, etc. in our dimension that prevent her from moving freely in this new world she’s encountered—until those problems simply no longer exist for most of our movie, unless I’m just missing something.], Athena’s ability to be just about anywhere she needs to be no matter the distance to be traveled, even though she doesn’t have anything except borrowed human transportation to get her from one place to another, etc.)  I know I’m raising a lot of physics-based-cranky-complaints against a completely fictional story intended to inspire rather than explain, but when the “What?” questions begin to outnumber the “Wow!” aspects (mostly associated with the early wondrous views of Tomorrowland in Frank’s flashback—revisited by Casey, but according to Frank what she experienced was just an old hologram used as a recruiting tool for the humans brought over by Athena and her ilk, although how Casey stumbled into it isn’t clear either) you just end up with great intentions gone awry.  I was truly moved about halfway into Tomorrowland that this movie wasn’t going to just be a standard action-combat-exercise which seems to be so much of a marketing necessity for futuristically-oriented-sci-fi-stories (even in the essentially-optimistic Star Treks), but its message of people working together for advanced progress in human development got bogged down again by the Nix vs. “the saviors” physical conflicts that never seemed fully clear about Nix’s absolute determination to hasten the demise of his home planet.

Bottom Line Final Comments: Basically, I just wish that I could better embrace Tomorrowland more joyfully than I’m able to do at present.  It works well in establishing intrigue as to what this mysterious place is that Frank was able to be easily transported to as a boy yet Casey can’t seem to fully bridge the overlapping of the other dimension and our own as she keeps bumping into things in her Florida house while trying to navigate within Tomorrowland, a place that quickly becomes strange because of Athena’s initially-mysterious-presence and dangerous because of all the murderous robots so intent on stopping Casey’s explorations even when she doesn’t understand much at all about what happens when she touches that mysterious T pin.  There are also very nice touches early on with the Star Wars (George Lucas, 1977), The Day the Earth Stood Still (Robert Wise, 1951), etc. paraphernalia in the Blast from the Past shop, just as there are exquisite images within Tomorrowland, including the floating swimming pools that hold water but still allow a swimmer to glide through the bottom plane of each one to drop down into the next one below.  Yet, clever enhancements do not a successful film make (to use Yoda-speech) when there’s so much going on in the primary plot that deserves better explanation and audience investment, just as the script needs to be dialed back a bit from its positive-propaganda-attitudes which play well in theory with “democratic socialists” such as myself but feel too imposing even to me in a vehicle intended to lure hell-bent-for-immediate-success Earthlings back from the brink of nihilistic annihilation while coming across as a recruitment film for Disney employees.

 For my Musical Metaphor to cap off my comments on Tomorrowland I’ve decided to go with The Beatles’ “Tomorrow Never Knows” (the last cut on their 1966 Revolver album, even though it was the first piece recorded for it), which I’ll illustrate with 3 different videos that all use the song as their soundtrack.  The 1st, at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zd61M256RfM is a long-lost 1967 project from the Fab Four themselves, originally intended for a movie to be made up of visual accompaniments to songs from their Rubber Soul (1965), Revolver, and Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967) albums; in this “Tomorrow Never Knows” video we simply have relatively-random-home-movie-type-clips of John, Paul, and George, with these images in contrast to the metaphysically-probing-lyrics which seemed to have been inspired by John’s interest in The Tibetan Book of the Dead or at least interpretations of it in Timothy Leary, Richard Alpert, and Ralph Metzner’s book, The Psychedelic Experience: A Manual Based on the Tibetan Book of the Dead.  The 2nd version of the song takes us back once again to ruminations on the fabulous-but-now-departed AMC TV series, Mad Men (see my Short Takes comments in our May 20, 2015 posting concerning the interpretation-inducing-use of the famous “I’d Like To Buy The World a Coke” ad as the final narrative element of that show—for me the best TV finale since Newhart [CBS, 1982-1990] when the main character wakes up back in his previous setting of The Bob Newhart Show [1972-1978] to find that the entire new production was simply a dream), at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=afddyqxT1To, the end of season 5’s episode 8 (“Lady Lazarus,” 2012) where Don Draper feels that he needs to better understand contemporary youth culture so 2nd-wife-Megan gives him a copy of Revolver, telling him to start with this cut; the fact that he lifts the stylus from the turntable before the song’s even finished shows me that, despite his ad-sense-savvy, he wasn’t ready to make that connection in 1966, although maybe he did in 1971 after his soul-journey that concluded the entirety of Mad Men.  
 Finally, if you’d just prefer to hear this Beatles’ song illustrated with the sort of psychedelic-imagery common to the mid-1960s you might like this version at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KLWPjGyEq1k.  In Tomorrowland, we “never know” as well whether the re-inspired quest of Frank and Casey will actually bring about a Renaissance of hope, discovery, and global progress for our planet, but we can certainly embrace the optimism of the script’s intensions if we can tame our (including mine, I admit) pessimistic responses to this nobly-confusing-attempt at renewing the fuel cells of our collective imagination.  John Lennon (author of the song, despite the standard Lennon-McCartney attribution) might prefer to continue with the premise of “Lay down all thoughts, surrender to the void” rather the Disney-Imagineers-inspired-interpretation of new scientific discoveries being how they “listen to the color of [their] dreams,” but maybe he and I can meet to “hash” (so to speak) that out some distant day when I can “Turn off [my] mind, relax and float downstream” to whatever version of Tomorrowland (if any) awaits us beyond this physical plane as we truly “see the meaning of within.”
          
(Somewhat) Short(er) Takes
          
Even more so than usual I encourage you to take my Spoiler Alerts seriously because this next movie’s just opening nationwide even as I’m posting these comments so you may want to see it for yourself before reading any further—although the plot's quite obvious anyway.
              
                                              San Andreas (Brad Peyton)
   
Hoover Dam collapses, LA is shaken horribly, but when San Francisco opens its Golden Gate it’s hit with 2 huge earthquakes and the massive flood of a tsunami, making it difficult for rescue-expert Ray (Dwayne Johnson) to keep up with all of the deadly dangers plaguing his ex-wife and college-bound-daughter; not much depth here but lots of good action.
           
 Thanks to the generosity of my good friend and fellow film critic, Barry Caine (who, I’ll keep reminding you, inspired this whole Two Guys concept by encouraging Pat Craig and me to get our thoughts on movies out to the public, although we're still working on Pat), I was able to attend a press screening last Tuesday night of the new Disaster epic, San Andreas.  Afterward, Barry and I had a short discussion (until his BART train arrived, a circumstance that wouldn’t happen in this movie after the total devastation of San Francisco—see, I told you to heed my Spoiler Alert warnings) about how to determine ratings for movies, with his position that he enjoyed San Andreas quite a bit but only as a summer-reality-escape-extravaganza so if he were giving out quality numbers on some scale system this one would rate quite highly for him within that specified framework, whereas I decided long ago that for purposes of this blog I’d admit my enjoyment as it occurred but would still hold everything accountable to a somewhat universal standard which I know will penalize the San Andreas-es of the cinematic world which have no intention of pursuing the kind of Citizen Kane (Orson Welles, 1941) or The Godfather (Francis Ford Coppola,1972) level of artistic depth that I miserly reserve for my 5 and 4½ stars (you can refresh yourself on my previous choices if you’d like to see that system in action, where I admit that I’d probably pass on seeing most of my 3½-star-or-lower-choices again and might not even want to revisit all of the 4’s—normally as high as I’m willing to go unless something hits me as possessing truly classic resonance, or at least the promise of it—simply because I’d rather keep searching for something new and potentially impactful rather than tilling adequate-but-unspectacular-ground again).  

 I agree with Barry that as long as you’re willing to qualify your ratings with understandings such as 5 stars within the realm of escapist-action-movies or entertaining-children’s-fare-well-produced-enough to keep your kids engaged in return for the price of the ticket, then you’re working within a self-acknowledged apples, oranges, bananas, and pineapples approach (with divergences into the worlds of spinach and carrots if you veer away from dramatic narrative vehicles into alternate filmic approaches such as documentary), but if you insist on holding everything to the same quality-consideration-requirements like I do (probably as the result of my anal-retentive-academic-training-and-background) then San Andreas is going to suffer compared to not only a masterpiece such as Chinatown (Roman Polanski, 1974) but also to a thought-provoking-contemporary example with its own tensions and actions such as Ex Machina (Alex Garland; review in our April 30, 2015 posting).

 With all of that in mind, though, I do offer a reasonably-high-rating for San Andreas because of the superb quality of its destructive special effects (where even the “simple” opening scene of a young woman being rescued from a car perilously hanging from the side of a cliff could be the main focus of a less-spectacular-story) and its imaginative use of ongoing complications within a limited range of circumstances (earthquakes create huge crises for those involved but in a movie you’re largely limited to buildings and landscapes collapsing with the resulting fires and flooding from tsunami waves, so you have to keep working at it for the plot to remain intense when it’s all about how your protagonists keep having to leap or swim from one danger to the next).  What little you need to know about the plot can be summed up as Los Angeles Fire Department helicopter-rescue-unit-Chief Ray Gaines (Dwayne Johnson) has an ex-wife, Emma (Carla Gugino)—who’s about to marry a rich, prominent architect, Daniel Riddick (Ioan Gruffudd)—and a teenage daughter, Blake (Alexandra Daddario), about to begin college in northern California so Daniel takes her to San Francisco where his main office is located, along with his impressive (strong, safe) new skyscraper under construction.  Suddenly all hell breaks loose as a massive earthquake caused by previously-unknown-faults in southern Nevada destroys the Hoover Dam, with a connective unleashing of the doom-waiting-to-happen-San Andreas Fault which pounds LA, then travels upstate to hit SF with a massive 9.0 jolt (Cal Tech scientist Lawrence Hayes [Paul Giamatti] has just perfected warning-system-technology but not in time to alert anyone to these disasters, although his fearful TV interview does give SF some aid in evacuating before the next one hits).  This leads to Ray rescuing Emma from an LA building in peril (great thrills for us when they dodge falling skyscrapers as they fly away), then they’re off to SF where Blake’s trapped in Daniel’s underground garage as he’s left her to find help but then just stumbles around in what seems to be a shock-induced-daze.  When they arrive they have to parachute into AT&T Park (home of the current World Series champs, the SF Giants, now having a decidedly better 2015 than my beloved-but-stumbling Oakland Athletics who also consumed some of my time this week as I watched live while they took yet another loss on Wednesday afternoon), after which they grab a small motorboat in their frantic search for Blake.  

 She’s managed to get out of the garage with the help of 2 English brothers, Ben (Hugo Johnstone-Burt)—who’s smitten with her—and Ollie (Art Parkinson), with these 3 ending up in Riddick’s in-progress-building but even it’s under fire (water, actually, as the tsunami swallows up everything lower than 10 stories and continues to rise even as the structure begins to sink).  All 5 of these protagonists miraculously connect (What else?), although Blake almost drowns until finally saved by Dad (with his guilty memories of their other daughter who did succumb to water on a boating trip gone bad, the event that drove a wedge between his and Emma’s marriage) with the parents reconnected as well (Daniel suffered a grisly fate as the tsunami destroyed much of the Golden Gate Bridge, but you’d think he’d know to stay away from it after its previous pounding in both Rise of the Planet of the Apes [Rupert Wyatt, 2011] and Godzilla [Gareth Edwards, 2014; review in our May 15, 2014 posting—thanks to Barry for that press screening also]), the tattered remains of an American flag flapping on the bridge, Emma asking “Now what?” as the survivors look down upon their losses from the Marin Headlands, and Ray replying with true-9/11-resilience, “We rebuild.”

 San Andreas is quite impressive in its scenes of destruction (as negative as that may be for our society, as prophesized by Tomorrowland’s Governor Nix) but thin in character depth or explorations of the human spirit, qualities that I prefer even in this type of movie, which can be achieved just as Christopher Nolan showed with superhero action stories in The Dark Knight (2008) and, as my fading memory tells me was a more character-driven-plot despite all of the surface action, in another mainstay of the Disaster genre, The Towering Inferno (John Guillermin, 1974), where once again terror struck SF but the plot devices were confined to one burning building rather than the entire city being pulverized by a 9.6-Richter scale-wallop (with the only one of such magnitude in recorded history being the 9.5 Valdivia quake in Chile on May 22, 1960); of course that earlier example also had a huge starring cast to further maintain interest (no offense to The Rock, whom I’ve always liked both as a WWE wrestler and an action-hero, but even his massive muscles pale in impact when the screen offers among others in one movie Steve McQueen, Paul Newman, William Holden, Faye Dunaway, Fred Astaire, Richard Chamberlin, Robert Vaughn, Robert Wagner, Jennifer Jones, and—prior to his own disasters, O.J. Simpson), along with a 77% positive response from Rotten Tomatoes, compared to a much-lower 49% so far for San Andreas (despite my mild disagreements with Barry, my 3½-stars-decision is considerably better than that, but, then, I like most movies).  However, if you’d like to explore more about San Andreas I encourage you to look into the official site (as Web-illiterate as I am, I may be among the few who didn’t know you need to click the little box with 3 lines in the upper-left-corner to get details), the trailer, a collection of 8 clips (6:30 total), along with the detailed review tallies from Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic (43% at the time of my posting); further, if you’re really interested in the actual situation with the San Andreas Fault you might enjoy this (somewhat amped-up) 43:34 documentary about what’s likely to happen to my home state whenever this massive mismatch of tectonic plates finally releases its long-anticipated-roaring-rumble.  I'll even offer the Musical Metaphor of (What else?) Bill Haley and his Comets' "Shake, Rattle and Roll" at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FqSIvwZVFoQ.  

 By the way—regarding San Andreas, The Towering Inferno, and the general topic of trying to make ratings determinations within the arts—in that both of these Disaster movies offer scenes of “death by water” I’ll refer you to a brief statement on that sobering topic from T.S. Eliot’s 1922 magnum opus, The Wasteland, simply because such a literary triumph sets a good paradigm for the depths of human experience and emotional impact that I think 5-star-films should explore, although they certainly don’t have to be as obtuse as this Eliot masterpiece (they probably will be, though, if directed by such auteurs as Michelangelo Antonioni, Ingmar Bergman, or Alain Resnais).

 Finally, regarding a marvelous mutual friend of Barry’s and mine, my Two Guys in the Dark silent partner, Pat Craig (on the right in this photo), we just had a recent visit from Pat who’s now moved to Whidbey Island, WA, where he’s now doing a weekly radio show on WhidbeyAir’s public access Internet site at http://kwparadio.org. To further his interests and long involvement with live theatre, Pat’s playing show tunes every Thursday from 6-8pm so I encourage you to give him a listen sometime, which you can do easily from their website.  I’ll enhance (depending on your tastes) that encouragement with a final Musical Metaphor this week of Ethel Merman blasting out "There's No Business Like Show Business", just to let Pat know he’s still remembered as an intended founding partner of this Two Guys enterprise, with hopes that someday we may actually see some movie reviews from him (if that ever happens I’ll give you a link to Merman singing “Everything’s Coming Up Roses” but not now as I have to give you some reason to keep coming back to this blog week after week and I’m sure you couldn’t find it on your own—or could you?).
  
However, Two Guys are going totally dark for a bit (somewhat in response to the snafu [Know what that word really means? I encourage you to look it up.] described at the very top of this posting but also somewhat in response to my just-discovered-reality that in addition to the web-browser-mismatches I deal with that prevent any of you not viewing in Safari from seeing my intended graphic layout of these posts [note the comments at our homepage, noted just below] I've just realized that what I spend a lot of time trying to arrange visually in Safari doesn't even come out the same way on various Mac computers if they're not using the same OS [which must be Yosemite to be current, so I'll repeat the all-encompassing-computer-technology-condemation I offered long ago, also in our homepage information] thereby giving me reason to borrow a title from Brian Wilson's Pet Sounds [review of Love and Mercy intended for our next posting] and just "go away for awhile," sparing anyone reading this blog from any more Luddite rants from grumpy old me, at least for the next week), returning with new reviews about June 10, 2015. 
We hope you enjoy some fine films during our brief interim away.
          
Related Links Which You Might Find Interesting:
            
We encourage you to visit the summary of Two Guys reviews for our past posts.  Other overall notations for this blog—including Internet formatting craziness beyond our control—may be found at our Two Guys in the Dark homepageIf you’d like to Like us on Facebook please visit our Facebook page. We appreciate your support whenever and however you can offer it!

Here’s some more information about Tomorrowland:

http://movies.disney.com/tomorrowland/ (once again, but not any more after this I promise, for those like me not up on likely standard Web layout shortcuts, click the little square with 3 lines in the upper left corner to get more details on this movie)


Here are a couple of very short clips: first, at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8TTgS1ew50c (ad from 2015 Super Bowl to show how to pitch a movie in just 30 sec., necessary when you’re paying $4.5 million for that short time slot), then you might be interested in this scene at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_WbakJaYuYo (Frank Walker as a boy first coming to Tomorrowland, navigating around with his jetpack) 



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By the way, if you’re ever at The Hotel California knock on my door—but you know what the check out policy is so be prepared to stay for awhile.    Ken

P.S.  Just to show that I haven’t fully flushed Texas out of my system here’s an alternative destination for you, Home in a Texas Bar, with Gary P. Nunn and Jerry Jeff Walker.

8 comments:

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  2. Hi Nupur, Thanks for your kind comments. I'll have to assume that these links to Project Almanac 2014 are legitimate, non-pirated connections. If not or if anyone encounters problems with these links I'll have to remove them. Ken

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  3. Have a good break. Still like Far From The Madding Crowd over most of the current fare. Caught Slow West recently, kind of a modern day Good Bad and the Ugly for today's audiences. Not superb or ground breaking but well executed for what it is.

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    1. Hi rj, Thanks for the recommendations. Ken

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  4. Love and Mercy is generally excellent and recommended. A little slow in parts but the overall production and cast are all very good. Paul Dano is bound to be up for awards for his younger Brian Wilson portrayal, especially as he demonstrates the inner workings of genius and, separately, the onset of mental illness. This is one of those stories that you would not believe as fiction but is in fact historically correct.

    It would be useful to listen to a copy of the Beach Boys Pet Sounds album prior to the film and their Good Vibrations cut that followed later as both are important in the story.

    For my money, the director does not use enough of the actual music in the soundtrack but there is a final clip of today's Brian Wilson and the Beach Boys during the credits.

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    1. Hi rj, I agree with you on the high merits (4 stars from me when I get my review together next week) of Love and Mercy and will put in some links to the important music that you recommend as I further agree that knowing these songs helps greatly in the full enjoyment of the film. Ken

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    2. By the way, I think Charlie Rose's interviews on his late night PBS show are very similar to Tom Synder's old production. The trick is to record the PBS show and then skip segments that may not interest you at the time. He has a wide variety of guests including many directors, writers and actors.

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