Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Eat That Question: Frank Zappa in His Own Words

                                           An Inventive Motherf***er

                                                    Review by Ken Burke

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.
 While I use the above boilerplate warning in all of my postings it may have more relevance than usual here because the film under review is just now opening in my San Francisco area during this coming weekend (7/1-3/2016 plus the 4th of July holiday, so it's possibly opening in your home zone too; you can check the Theater Listings within the 1st of the film’s Related Links below to see where and when you might get access to it over the next couple of months) With this in mind, you might want to consider reading my review later so that I don’t ruin anything.  However, given that this is about a guy who’s been dead since 1993 containing interview and concert footage from previously-shown-sources I doubt there’s much in my words that could spoil your day (except my general lack of journalistic structure, but you should be used to that by now) unless you just need to be totally surprised about the existence of Frank Zappa.
     Eat That Question: Frank Zappa in His Own Words       (Thorsten Schütte)
A documentary about the late highly-respected-by-some, categorically-condemned-by-others experimental rock musician, who refused to be held to the limits of social mores, pop music expectations, or record-company-indifference; this digest of his thoughts, attitudes, and responses to the artificiality of interviews is all from his perspective, along with some performance footage.
 As I’ve noted in past reviews of feature-length-documentariess, my usual review structure for dramatic-narrative-films (What Happens, So What?, Bottom Line Final Comments) doesn’t work so well with the docs, particularly that 1st category, especially in an instance like this one where essentially what we’re getting for 90 min. is a collage of statements (generally very similar in tone and content) directly from the film’s subject, Frank Zappa, augmented by various snippets of concert footage.  What really matters in a case such as this is whether the presentation either gives you more than you previously knew about the subject—or person—at hand or gives you a reason to be intrigued by what you learn if you weren’t previously familiar with what’s being elaborated on screen.  For the diehard-Zappa-fans (of whom there were plenty at the press screening I attended) Eat That Question … will likely be warmly welcomed as another immersion in this iconoclast-hero’s long-gone-presence (he died from prostate cancer in 1993, age 52); for those (like me) who were aware of him from when he burst onto the rock music scene in 1966 with Freak Out! but didn’t keep up with his career on any sort of ongoing basis after that, this film serves as a nice refresher on the attitudes and musical innovations of one of the most unique, unclassifiable composer/performers of the 20th century (influenced by a variety of others, from avant-garde musician Edgard Varèse to blues masters Johnny “Guitar” Watson and B.B. King).

 For those who know virtually nothing about him (including my otherwise-musically-hip-wife [much more than me where hip-hop is concerned], Nina, who attended the screening with me) this doc will likely serve as a revelation about a man who achieved the near-impossible of reasonably-supporting himself in a mass-media-industry while refusing to accommodate to the demands of such a hard-commerce-oriented-structure.  Although he did agree to change the name of his famous band from simply the Mothers to the Mothers of Invention due to the connotations that the previous name has to a word in the title of this posting; regarding income as a musician, though, he noted that “Record companies have a way of making sure your expenses always exceed your profits.”  By the way, this film’s strange title is taken from a Zappa song you'll find on his 1972 album, The Grand Wazoo.

 Nina was highly impressed with what she saw, later describing Zappa as “playing music inside out” because the frequent concert footage contained in Eat That Question … consistently displays a refusal to stick to anything in the usually-expected-areas of melodic structures, instrumentation choices, lyrical content, or even stage appearance (as Zappa and whatever drummer he might have been working with in these scenes frequently appear shirtless, no doubt much-more-comfortable-attire for playing under the hot glare of stage lighting).  You’ll find many interview snippets contained in this current film that offer a well-rounded-picture of Zappa as a man following his own drum-beat (appropriate, given that he says he began his interest in music as a drummer, but banging on kitchen pots and pans until he got access to an actual drum kit) from the time he was a kid who starting “composing” music by creating visual arrangements of notes, not knowing yet what they’d sound like when played, then moving on to such Dada experiments as an appearance on the old TV series The Steve Allen Show (1956-1964) where Zappa and Allen in 1963 used bicycles as percussion instruments, joined at will by spontaneous contributions from Allen’s regular orchestra and Zappa’s recorded electronic sounds played from the engineers’ booth.  Later in life he’d go from fighting for protection for the recording industry from proposed government-required-warning-labels for lyrics such as his that contained profanity or sexual content (although he lost that battle so that certain albums still carry parental warning stickers; there’s a great clip where he’s being questioned in 1985 by Florida Senator Paula Hawkins, who wants to know what kind of toys his children play with so he invites her over to see for herself) to receiving an accolade from that industry, winning the 1988 Grammy Award for Best Rock Instrumental Performance for his 1986 Jazz from Hell album (which got one of those mandated-labels, even with no lyrics).  Then he shifted from standard song structures entirely, focusing more on orchestral compositions of what would be understood as modern classical music.

Zappa had good taste in cats;
this one looks just like my little Inky
 The good thing about this film if you just want a quick, consistent dose of what characterized its complex subject is that—as the subtitle tells you—everything that’s said about Zappa here is also said by Zappa so that you’re not getting any interpretations of his thoughts and intentions from the perspective of other commentators; the bad thing about that, though, is that if you don’t know much about Zappa before coming into a screening of Eat That Question … you won’t get much of a context of his larger presence in the music world, such as you’d find in a more traditional doc structure, like the A&E Biography episode to be found in my 3rd Related Link to this film farther below.  Therefore, I faced a bit of a quandary in deciding on a star rating for this very entertaining film because it raised some nagging questions for me—as with my experience of another documentary, Particle Fever (Mark Levinson, 2014; review in our March 13, 2014 posting), about the verification of the crucial-subnuclear-particle known as the Higgs boson in which I went against critical consensus (Rotten Tomatoes 96% positive reviews, Metacritic 87%) by giving that film only 3 stars (somewhat because I felt it was too geared toward physicists who’d already understand what it’s importance was while not explaining clearly enough for the rest of us non-scientists just how crucial the Higgs is for our continued existence but largely because I had stumbled upon a 2012 BBC doc, The Hunt for Higgs, which I found to be more accessible, detailed, and useful for a general audience, without being superficial), whereas I’d been much more accepting (4 of my precious stars) toward another doc, Janis: Little Girl Blue (Amy Berg, 2015; review in our December 2, 2015 posting) even though it, like Eat That Question …, drew heavily on personal statements (mostly letters) from its subject but there was still enough overall lifetime-context presented so that you got a fairly-complete (as much as you can be in about 105 min.) understanding of not only who Janis Joplin was to herself but what she meant to the world at large.

 I think that larger context is missing just enough from Eat That Question that I must diverge, at least from the RT critics (with their 91% positive stance, at least at my “press” time, but that’s based on just 23 reviews so you might want to consult the Related Link below later to see if that’s changed; I’m more in line with the MC 75% but that’s based on even fewer reviews—14, also requiring a later revisit).  
I will admit, though, that Eat That Question … does contain one segment you won’t find in my A&E-cited-doc below, when Zappa travels to Czechoslovakia in 1990 where he’s given a great “hero’s welcome” at the airport, then has an official meeting with Czech President Václav Havel, indicative of how popular this American musician was in Europe in those years.  This shows exactly what Schütte wants to capture with his intimate portrait of a man whose free-form-life-and-career this director has long admired:  “I hope that this fresh look at the composer Frank Zappa will not just be relevant to his early listeners. More and more young music consumers are discovering Zappa for themselves. Zappa’s body of work stands as a counter-statement to streamlined and commercialized pop music, in a time lacking controversial, outspoken and polarizing iconoclasts. The life and art of Frank Zappa connects to universal questions that so many can relate to. How can an artist stay true to his art and ideas? How does one handle rejection and the limitations of a creative output? And what is the ultimate price to pay for the freedom of expression?”

 Although I do have reservations about this otherwise-engaging-stroll through the creative-freedom-position strenuously promoted by the complicated Mr. Zappa (despite his anti-establishment-rejection of organized religion and censorship he called himself “conservative” with the standard allotment of wife, kids [even though he and wife gave them the unique names of Moon {female, if you can’t tell—her middle name of Unit probably doesn’t help much either}, Dweezil {male, also hard to decipher from name alone}, Ahmet, and Diva], and mortgage along with no personal interest in drugs [except his ever-present-cigarettes], yet he blasted Presidents Reagan and George H.W. Bush [I imagine “Shrub” Bush—to quote Texas political columnist Molly Ivins—would have gotten the same treatment had Zappa been around to observe his “leadership”] for their legacy-seeking actions), I did get a few additional insights into the creative process of this film because I was fortunate enough to have German director Schütte available for a Q & A at my screening.  He explained that he worked extensively with widow Gail Zappa on this project (which is why it took so long to come together, as he had to gain her trust before she gave her cooperation, along with final-cut-authority, to him; sadly, she died October 7, 2015 before the film’s general release); that Frank was more well-known and embraced in Europe than in the U.S. because he toured there more actively, building up a loyal audience in the process; that the research-quest for obtaining all of this archival footage began 8 years ago with hopes of being done by 2014 so that the clip after the final credits of Zappa admonishing young adults to put down the booze and drugs in order to go vote was not originally intended as a comment on the current U.S. Presidential campaign (although Schütte acknowledges its serendipitous-timely-appropriateness); and that it’s sad to learn how much archival footage of all sorts of subjects now no longer exists because problems such as poor preservation, indifference, and budgetary-needs to reuse videotape stock.

 Sometimes in writing these reviews I have to ponder for awhile before deciding on what I hope to be an appropriate Musical Metaphor as a final word on what I’ve been blabbing about; 
not so this time, though, because Zappa provides an extensive catalogue of music that for me easily demonstrates his no-holds-barred-attitude toward idiosyncratic tonal (and atonal) forms and content.  Maybe there are other choices I could have made from his vast catalogue, but what’s always appealed to me is his pragmatic advice by an Eskimo mother to her son to “Watch out where the Huskies go An’ don’t you eat that yellow snow,” so here’s “Don’t Eat the Yellow Snow” at (from the 1974 Apostrophe album).  If you’re intrigued by this selection, you might want to watch a performance of the entire "Yellow Snow Suite" (16:35)—“Don’t Eat the Yellow Snow,” “Nanook Rubs It,” “St. Alfonzo’s Pancake Breakfast"—from an October 13, 1978 show at the Capital Theatre, Passaic NJ (the black & white video quality is terrible but the audio is taken directly form the house audio system so it’s beautifully clear with the entire suite’s operatic-like-structure reminding me a bit of Queen’s famous "Bohemian Rhapsody" [from their 1975 A Night at the Opera album] so I added that in as well).

 I had to get this (and a separate-posting-review, of Maggie's Plan [Rebecca Miller]) into cyberspace a bit earlier than usual this week because Nina and I are off to San Francisco for a little celebration of our 26th wedding anniversary (we enjoyed our 29th year of being together last February, with reminiscences about our wonderfully-accidental-meeting at Paul Simon’s Berkeley CA concert tour in support of his fabulous 1986 Graceland album).  Simon's now seriously considering retirement, but I’ll be back as usual (at usual length, as well, I’m sure) next week.
Related Links Which You Might Find Interesting:
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Here’s more information about Eat That Question: Frank Zappa in His Own Words: (42:09, a more traditional exploration of Zappa’s life from the TV cable A&E network [with a couple of ads for it within this video] still with extensive commentary from him—along with concert footage—but also more historical context from narrators and commentators than in the documentary reviewed above [original video format stretched to contemporary widescreen format, with the overall video quality not that great either, but it is usefully informative even if a bit aesthetically-painful to look at])

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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.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Maggie's Plan

  The Best-Laid Plans … in This Case Involve Getting Laid (sort of)

                                                              Review by Ken Burke

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.
                                       Maggie’s Plan (Rebecca Miller)
NYC’s Maggie’s not getting any younger, wants a baby, arranges for sperm donation from a friend, then falls in love with married John which leads a few years later to a new marriage, a new child, and the old problem that Maggie’s always been afraid of: the relationship’s not working; all of this becomes very reminiscent of Woody Allen's films without being a ripoff.
What Happens: Maggie Hardin (Greta Gerwig) is a NYC woman approaching the limits of what society normally considers “young,” feels that she’s not the sort of person who functions beyond 6 months in a relationship, yet she wants a baby so she arranges for a sperm donation from a friend, Guy Childers (Travis Fimmel)—not just any old “guy” she notes, slyly-indicative of the humor in this script (along with a subtle foreshadowing)—who thinks math is beautiful but doesn’t want to muck up that fascination by becoming a mathematician (maybe he saw the problems that bedeviled Srinivasa Ramanujan in The Man Who Knew Infinity [Matthew Brown; review in our June 16, 2016 posting]) so instead he’s becoming a craft-pickle-entrepreneur in hopes of selling his product through a chain like Whole Foods.  The big day will wait until the upcoming March 23rd, though, because planner-par-excellence-Maggie wants to save up enough money to deal with the added expenses of a baby (early spring won’t be that far away, though, because we’re already in snowy-winter-streets-scenes), an idea that gets constant criticism from her married friend, Tony (Bill Hader)—with a little wise-ass-kid of his own (but he keeps frozen sperm, for good measure).  Next we learn that she’s the director of business development and job/investment-opportunities for the arts students of the college she works at (Washington Square locations might imply NYU, but I got the impression it’s more like a community college) where one day in the Payroll Office she has a chance meeting with John Harding (Ethan Hawke), an Adjunct Professor (my former colleagues of that designation at Mills College, Oakland CA prefer Non-Tenure-Track Faculty as being less pejoratively-connotational) in the area of Ficto-Critical Anthropology (which, despite it’s wacky sound, is a real thing that involves blending fiction, philosophy, and more traditional academic scholarship; director Miller explains more about it here).
 John begins noticing her around campus, strikes up conversations, asks for her opinion on the novel he’s trying to write.  (You might think that he’d turn to his wife, scholar Georgette Nørgaard [Julianne Moore], a tenured-Anthro-prof. at Columbia U., but all it takes to see why not is a scene of them interrupting each other in a 2-person-“panel”-discussion, followed by another of their home-dinner-conversation [recounted briefly in that link above] to show both how academically-obtuse/ emotionally-frozen this pair is, as well as the borderline-contempt she has for her husband which helps John justify his quickly-growing-romantic-interest in sweet, generous Maggie; however, she thinks his book’s delightfully-bizarre, not realizing that it’s based on his increasingly-detestable-life.)
 By the time sperm-day arrives (Guy offers to “donate” in the more traditional manner, which she rejects in favor of a little jar-full to use at her own discretion), we know that Maggie accumulates men in serial relationships but ends up only with their former belongings (her small apartment’s still stacked with books from the last one, with no further information about who he was); that she comes from an academic background herself (her parents were faculty at the U. of Wisconsin but after divorce she was raised by her mother in Madison until Mom died when Maggie was 16, then she moved to Philadelphia to be with “cordial, quiet” Dad, a life somewhat like the Quaker meetings she attended with her mother); and that John’s passionate about her (revealed in a crazy scene where she’s trying to keep the now-injected-sperm in her body as she clumsily scoots across her apartment to answer the intercom, drops the load when she stands up as she learns it’s John at her door, lets him in under the premise that he’s accidently locked out [while Georgette and their kids—Justine {Mina Sundwall} and Paul {Jackson Frazer}—are out of town], then is flabbergasted when he tells her that he’s ready to leave his marriage for her).  After a fadeout/jump-cut to 3 years later (which at first I considered to be a possible-fantasy on Maggie’s part, having already been primed by the ongoing comic situations of this film to expect just about anything), we find Maggie with adorable-toddler Lily (Ida Rohatyn), married to John, sharing joint custody of the other kids (along with some smarmy-attitude from borderline-teen Justine), John’s novel still in process, and Georgette making a name for herself with her book, Bring Back the Geisha, a thinly-veiled diatribe about Maggie and the ensuing divorce.  However, tension’s growing between Maggie and John because he spends a lot of phone time attending to Georgette’s problems (forcing Maggie to cancel important plans one day in order to do child-chauffeuring in lieu of his meeting with a potential publisher but when that gets cancelled he spends hours in phone-dialogue with his ex, dealing with yet-another-supposed-crisis of hers).

 Eventually, Maggie seeks out Georgette at a book signing, admits that she likes her despite her harsh, haughty European attitude, and eventually meets with her to reveal that the marriage isn’t working out so well so she’s willing to help find a strategy (one of her plans in this story) to get the exes back together; after initial dismissal of the idea, Georgette warms to it, then plots to get John invited to a conference in Quebec (where Georgette will just happen to show up), and intends to put the moves on him until on the spot when she gets cold feet (not hard to do, given that we’re once again in a wintertime setting, just more frigidly-further-north) in honor of his new marriage (even though she knows that Maggie’s ready to opt out, simply keeping her beloved Lily).  However, snowstorm conditions force the conference attendees to travel out on foot, Georgette and John get lost together, finally find their way to an inn with the rest of the crowd (all singing along to Bruce Springsteen’s “Dancing in the Dark’), reconnect with firm intentions of remarriage, but when he comes home with her there’s now resistance from Justine toward this coupling (even though he’s admitted his infidelity to Maggie, who puts on an act of telling him to just go) so he’s now wandering the streets, trying to find somewhere to crash, ends up with Tony and wife, Felicia (Maya Rudolph)—securely married but constantly bickering—where Tony drunkenly spills the beans about the Quebec plan.  John leaves both women in a huff but ultimately meets with Georgette where she gives him the bag of ashes of his now-destroyed-novel (only to have him admit he’s no novelist anyway) but then tells of her admiration for his ability to “unpack commodity compression” (gets big laughs from the audience but if you’ve been in academia as long as I have you’ll know that such phrases are just how a lot of those folks talk) as they reconcile once again.

 We then go forward a little further (still wintertime, of course) as Maggie and now-ex John help Lily with ice-skating (Georgette’s there, too, moving slowly along the railing, just like my one attempt decades ago, except when I tried to move a little bit more onto the ice only to lose my balance, grab the rail, and flip completely over it—I couldn’t have choreographed that better if I’d tried).  Someone mentions Lily’s fascination with numbers which Maggie says doesn’t come from her or John, as we realize that her sperm insertion from Guy did work after all, with the closing shot of him smiling, walking toward the ice rink (we know from an earlier scene that he did get the Whole Foods contract and his Bavarian pickles are still delicious) so we assume that Maggie’ll finally successfully be able to couple-up (although she'll have to somehow explain to Lily about the father-confusion).

So What? You might think that if plan-happy-Maggie wanted a child so badly that she’d choose to adopt so she would potentially have even more information about her future situation with a life-addition, but after seeing the complications—and expense—that one of our unmarried New England nieces had to deal with in bringing her marvelous baby daughter into her life (just a little over a year ago, with sweet little Leona now on the verge of speech and mobility, based on the Facebook videos we get regularly), I can clearly understand why do-it-on-her-own-terms-Maggie was determined to simply get pregnant, the almost-old-fashioned-way (which not only allowed us to witness the humor of her crab-walk-attempt to answer her intercom just after the sperm insertion but also keeps us in the dark as to the actual fatherhood of Lily until just before final fadeout).  You might also think that Maggie’d be able to find someone more appropriate as a husband than John (who not only doesn’t seem to know what to do with his professional life, spending years on a novel that he really has no ability to complete [his manuscript is reaching Thomas Wolfe-proportions; see my review of Genius {Michael Grandage} in our June 16, 2016 posting for more insight on that comment if you wish] nor desire to write it except to show Maggie that her initial interest in him wasn’t wasted but also comes whining back to Georgette years later in the same “rescue me from this broken marriage” plea that he used when he threw himself at Maggie), but she’s a trusting soul who wants to follow the Quaker admonition to do as much good as possible for everyone, even at her own expense until such time as she gets fed up with being the self-chosen-servant to everyone else’s needs. Of course, both Maggie and John seem to be on trajectories to distance themselves from their primary parent’s occupations—hers was a 19th-century-British-poetry-professor, his was an Atlantic City blackjack dealer—but their needs briefly-cross more so than find parallel paths.

 How they all do what they do in this film, though—especially Gerwig as Maggie, but with her supporting cast on the mark in all of their characterizations, from the complex, ego-driven, main-complication-for-everyone-else in Hawke’s portrayal of John to the minor-but-memorable-role of Tony and Felicia’s son, Max (Monte Green), a young boy who’s a star soccer player but insists on being wheeled around in a baby carriage so he can feed his voracious appetite for reading—is very commendable as a fine display of ensemble-acting.  However, despite Miller’s generally-well-crafted-script (based on an idea in an unfinished-novel by good friend Karen Rinaldi), with a lot of marvelous dialogue (but nothing truly unexpected, even the snippy remarks of the kids—these are NYC-upper-ish-class-children, after all), fast-moving (yet completely transparent) plot situations, and audience-friendly-intentions (Miller: “I think the older I get, the more life I see, the more I feel the need for comedy […] I think comedy is deeply necessary, and being able to laugh at yourself, and to look at the world around you with humor, is a forgiving way of living.  As I mature as a person and as an artist, I see how deep comedy can be.  I gave in to my desire to make people happy with a film.”)
I do think that formula intrudes a bit too heavily in the closing scenes, with both Georgette and Maggie easily-promising to temper their worst tendencies (Does John offer any such resolves off-screen?), the extended/somewhat-blended-families smoothly integrated, and the sudden-but-perfect-appearance of Guy in the closing seconds hold me back from going to a higher rating than 3½ stars, but remember that’s still solid praise, given that 4 is usually my top (saving the higher numbers for something that I think will truly resonate over time).  That decision puts me a bit lower than the critical consensus for a change (Rotten Tomatoes 84% positive reviews, Metacritic 76%; more details in the links farther below), but I still recommend a viewing of Maggie’s Plan if it’s available in your area (down to 203 theaters, box-office at about $2.3 million, so it’s fading fast).

Bottom Line 
Final Comments: It took me awhile to get to Maggie’s Plan (it’d been out for 5 weeks; other options just kept coming up), but upon encouragement from regular commentator/ contributor Richard Parker in San Antonio, TX I finally saw it, very glad that I did.  (As I noted just above, though, if you’re interested you’d better look quickly because I don’t know how much longer it can survive the planned-big-screen-dominance of such fare as the just-released-sequel, Independence Day: Resurgence [Roland Emmerich]—although, despite its huge budget, apparently it’s so bad that the studio didn’t even allow advance showings—and the upcoming-remake of the female-led-Ghostbusters [Paul Feig, release date July 15, 2016], so Maggie might have to wait for a video option for you.)  It’s been frequently-compared to Woody Allen’s work, which is reasonable considering the Manhattan locations, the quirky characters, the incessantly-witty situations and dialogue, the somewhat-jazzy-soundtrack (in places, but I can’t imagine Springsteen ever making his way into one of Woody’s features), and the sappy-happy-ending that's become much more the case in recent Allen work (such as Magic in the Moonlight [2014; review in our July 25, 2014 posting])—although at times he’s back to the bittersweet, if not outright bitter, finales of some of his earlier hits, especially with the melancholy tale of Blue Jasmine (2013; review in our August 16, 2013 posting).  But, for me, it’s more appealingly-Allen-esque rather than being a blatant ripoff, which is my opinion of what we get in When Harry Met Sally (Rob Reiner, 1989) a very funny movie but so clearly borrowed from various aspects of the usual Master of Manhattan as to make me wonder why screenwriter Nora Ephron didn’t get sued for plagiarism.

 However, lawsuits are a tactic that don’t work too often in the arts, as evidenced by the recent court decision that cleared Led Zeppelin of stealing the opening-guitar-hook for their enormously-popular tune, “Stairway to Heaven.”  (On the 1971 Led Zeppelin IV album, but I’m not going to link it up for you because it’s just too far afield from the content and attitudes of Maggie’s Plan—which means I’m also passing on my burning-temptation to cue up Bob Dylan’s “Maggie’s Farm” [on the 1965 Bringing It All Back Home album] but again it’s really got nothing to do with the situations or characters of the film under our current consideration—although I guess I could make a comparison to Georgette about how “she talks to all the servants About man and God and law Everybody says She’s the brains behind pa [John] She’s sixty-eight, but she says she twenty-four …"  Well, OK, I guess that’s close enough after all, so take a listen if you like from the infamous 1965 Newport Folk Festival when Bobby angered many in the crowd by going electric.)  After that side-trip, though, let’s get back to the current Maggie.  As a preparation for explaining my stars rating below, though, I’ll note that whether you’d likely-like Maggie’s Plan or not could hinge on how you feel about its situations and the responses to them by the characters so here’s a possible litmus test: One of my viewing companions noted that his response to the film was limited because he didn’t have much sympathy for anyone on screen, which I think you could relate to another NYC-based-storyline, TV’s Seinfeld where you probably either found satisfying humor in those self-centered-perspectives (me) or you thought they belonged in “Good Samaritan” jail for their myopic views of life, as was their fate in the series finale (Hey, you’ve been warned about my Spoilers, but this show concluded in 1998 so where have you been since the 21st century started ?); how you’d relate to the Maggie … people might also fall along that same spectrum of curious-fascination to uninterested-dismissal.*

* If you were/are (via reruns) a Seinfeld fan, you might be interested in Jerry’s own take on the series (in a video that may make you dizzy with the camera moving around so much) in which he explains his favorite episode and the intentional-Italian-Jewish-confusion about the Costanza family.  Here's a compressed version (7:20) of the key points of that famous "Marine Biologist" episode.

 One question for me with Maggie’s Plan is whether it really is too often like a Woody Allen exposé of NYC's overeducated, amorphously-amoral-urbanites who never can seem to understand what they want or how to achieve their dreams even if they can manage to focus on some specific outcomes.  (At least our Maggie has strategies, as she’s always trying to fix everyone’s life, including hers, until she finally swears off being so outcome-invested by the end of this story just as fierce Georgette swears off being so aloof and career-oriented [although with the success of her book and awarding of the chairship of her Columbia U. department you could surely say that she’s achieved enough already anyway].)  If you want the true classic of this sort of thing, which even Allen himself continued to mine in many more films until he finally broke away from New York to give himself some new challenges in Europe in recent years, you can’t do better than Manhattan (Allen, 1979), but that doesn’t mean that Miller can’t find a way to approach similar material without it seeming like a blatant copy (such as John Turturro’s Fading Gigolo [2014; review in our May 8, 2014 posting], a overly-Allen-inspired-situation, ironically with Woody as one of the primary actors), but that’s always a difficult task in any art form, trying to find a way to carry forward what someone else once did successfully without just aping form and/or content.  (Some achievements, such as with Jackson Pollock’s drip paintings or John Cage’s 4’33” [the supposed-“silent piano”-piece where the sound is actually nervous noises from the audience awaiting the pianist’s keystrokes], are just too unique to do more than incorporate a few aspects into new work, but if a style—Impressionism—or an attitude—sophisticated, neurotic, urban-influenced humor—can’t be allowed to find ongoing, fresh expression then we’ll be sadly-consigned to simply revisiting the catalogues of the various “old masters” when we no longer have Monet or Allen around to produce something new for us.)

 Personally, I’m glad to see that Miller, or anyone else who can write dialogue at this level, is still interested in putting a new twist on an already-established-cinema-form because I then get to appreciate a film that more-or-less reminds me of Allen’s best work without activating my private concerns about negotiating whether I’m hesitant to see Café Society (Allen’s newest, set to compete on its opening day with the new Ghostbusters) because of those revived pedophilia allegations against him or even the lesser-concern-fear that it'll be one of his floundering minor works.  Still, the easy resolutions and happy sentimentality as everything comes together neatly at the end of Maggie's Plan hold it back a bit for me, even as I easily admit that I generally enjoyed it throughout most of its exposition, so after a lot of internal consideration I stayed at the not-quite-there-level of 3½ stars, even with the realization that in a couple of years I might decide I was being too stingy.  As for a choice of my usual review-concluding-Musical Metaphor to extend—if not complete—the stylistic mood of Maggie’s Plan, one immediate option is the aforementioned Springsteen hit (actually, his biggest single to date), “Dancing in the Dark” (from the acclaimed 1984 album, Born in the U.S.A., with this song winning the 1985 Grammy for Best Rock Vocal Performance) at watch?v=129kuDCQtHs the official music video (with a brief appearance by pre-TV-Friends-star Courtney Cox [for those who preferred that younger-demographic-oriented-show to Seinfeld]) in that these lyrics relate well to John, especially the references to being “just tired and bored with myself [...] sitting ‘round here trying to write this book” when what he needs is “a love reaction” because “there’s a joke here somewhere and it’s on me,” which convinces me that Miller had all of this in mind when she chose to include this song in her film, just as I’ve chosen to include it here.

 However, this hard-driving Springsteen song doesn’t really include Maggie very well, so in further thinking about her I kept coming back to Sheryl Crow’s bouncy “All I Wanna Do” (from the 1994 Tuesday Night Music Club album, this song also her biggest hit as well as winning her a pair of 1985 Grammys, for Record of the Year and Best Female Pop Vocal Performance) at com/watch?v=O6iN9pi YuO4, as I impose my imagination on Maggie, hoping that instead of just settling for those pleasant-but-wintertime-ice-encrusted-stereotypically-happy-endings in Manhattan she might one day shake off a bit of her proper upbringing, head west for the warmth of the summer—for awhile at least, maybe “until the sun comes up over Santa Monica Boulevard”—where she can enjoy “a good beer buzz early in the morning […] In a bar that faces a giant car wash” because “All [she wants to] do is have some fun [as she’s] got a feeling [she's] not the only one.”  Hey, Maggie, just get mesmerized by watching “the bottles of Bud as they spin on the floor,” then you can head back East when you're ready, just in time for another snowstorm and some Bavarian pickles, maybe another bubble-bath with your precious daughter before she gets old enough for such pleasures to inadvertently get you into another (charged but not substantiated, undesirable nevertheless) realm of Woody Allen territory.
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 homepage If 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 more information about Maggie’s Plan: (admittedly, this trailer practically gives you the whole plot in roughly 2½ minutes, but maybe that’s all you need to know about it) (12:15 interview with director Rebecca Miller, actors Greta Gerwig and Travis Fimmel)

Please note that to Post a Comment below about our reviews you need to have either a Google account (which you can easily get at if you need to sign up) or other sign-in identification from the pull-down menu below before you preview or post.

If you’d rather contact Ken directly rather than leaving a comment here please use my new email at  Thanks.

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.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Finding Dory (and a final deviation to basketball for a Northern California salute to the Golden State Warriors)

                             How Deep (in the ocean) Is Your Love?

                                                      Review by Ken Burke

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.
                             Finding Dory (Andrew Stanton)
This sequel to Finding Nemo goes back to when memory-challenged baby Dory accidently gets separated from her parents but much later starts having flashbacks of her early life so she’s off to find them again; obstacles keep getting in the way before, during, and after the frantic scenes at the Marine Life Institute, ultimately leading to a fabulously charming story.
What Happens: Building on the events of Finding Nemo (Stanton, 2003), sweet-little-short-term-memory-challenged Pacific regal blue tang Dory (voiced by Ellen DeGeneres) is introduced to us as a baby where her concerned-but-loving-parents, Charlie (Eugene Levy) and Jenny (Diane Keaton), urge her to stay away from the dangerous undertow but if she ever gets lost to just follow the trail of shells they’ve constructed to lead her back home.  (They also console her for her challenging condition, saying “We’ll never forget you, Dory, and we hope you never forget us.”)  She does accidently get sucked away from them one day, though, spending years trying to reunite with little or no help from her ocean denizens until that fateful day when she comes upon clownfish Marlin (Albert Brooks) frantically looking for his lost son, Nemo (Hayden Rolence [Alexander Gould was his voice in the earlier movie, but he’s too old now to have the proper vocal inflections]).  Our current story picks up a year later with everything peaceful in these fishes’ Great Barrier Reef home, but Dory’s a bit of a burden for the community because she can’t form new memories very well, leading to easy distraction and bothersome repetition.  While attempting to be a “fish school” helper for Mr. Ray (Bob Peterson) in a lesson on migration, Dory’s accidently walloped by a passing herd (?) of rays, with the collision helping her gain some insight of where she grew up, by the Marine Life Institute in Morro Bay, CA (we learn later it was actually in the Open Ocean section of this sea-creature-rehab-facility [Sigourney Weaver—as herself—is constantly heard over the PA system] where Dory lived with her parents).  Eager to use this new information to finally find them again, Dory convinces reluctant-to-travel-Marlin (accompanied by Nemo) to help with her journey as she needs someone who knows her intentions to keep remaindering her where she’s going and why.

 After getting a rushed journey across the Pacific in the raging current navigated by hang-loose-sea turtle Crush (voice of director Stanton), our voyagers encounter danger from a huge squid; they escape but Nemo’s knocked around, leading to an angry rebuke of Dory from Marlin that sets her off sadly to the surface (with a cluster of soda-can-plastic-rings around her, part of the various subtle ecological messages throughout this movie) where she’s caught by workers from the local Institute, tagged to be sent with other blue tangs to an aquarium in faraway Cleveland (I guess that’s the new hot destination after their Cavaliers took the NBA title from our [speaking for all of Northern California, of course; see below for more on this] glorious Golden State Warriors), a goal for Hank, a 7-legged East Pacific red octopus (Ed O’Neill) who doesn’t want to be released back into the ocean where some problem led to the loss of his other leg (Dory calls him a “septopus,” noting that while she can’t remember a lot she does know how to count) so he agrees to help her find her parents in return for getting the trip-verifying-tag.  From this extensive set-up, the movie’s action becomes a series of fast-paced-scenes in and around the Institute where we meet further new characters:  Destiny (Kaitlin Olson), a directionally-challenged whale shark who knew Dory in her baby days; Bailey (Ty Burrell), a beluga whale who’s lost his echolocation ability; Fluke (Idris Elba) and his buddy, Rudder (Dominic West), a pair of California sea lions who give advice to Marlin and Nemo when they arrive at the Institute; Becky (Torbin Xan Bullock), a goofy loon who transports father and son clown fish in a small bucket of water at one point.  The most active of all is Hank because he apparently doesn’t need to be in water all of the time (neither does Becky, but she’s a bit short of brains so she’s lucky to get anything accomplished), plus he’s got great camouflage ability so that he can mimic any background, allowing him to hide in plain sight.

 With the various “help” provided by Hank and Becky (after a frightening interlude in the Kid Zone Touch Pool where we see what it feels like to the be on the other end of active children poking at the various sea creatures therein) Marlin and Nemo make it to the Tide Pool while Dory gets to the Open Ocean exhibit only to find out that all of the blue tangs are down in Quarantine, to be trucked off to glorious Cleveland (hopefully, not for a massive fish dinner for Cavs superstar LeBron James) so she finds her way into the complex pipe system where she reunites with Marlin and Nemo, but they all get to the tang tank only to find out Dory’s parents are long gone from the Institute.  Hank manages to drop Dory down a drain, leaving her back in the ocean, before the others are being trucked off to Ohio.  Despondent and confused, she swims around until she sees a trail of shells which she follows to where Charlie and Jenny have established a home with many shell-trails leading to it in hopes they’d ever see Dory again.  Reunited, the blue tang family sets off (with the help of outdoor-tank-escapees Destiny and Bailey, plus a group of sea otters in an inlet over a bridge) to rescue their friends.  Through a series of adventure too complicated to recount (but much fun to watch), Hank ends up driving the truck with Dory as his navigator (he can’t see over the dashboard) which finally ends up back in the water so that all of the fish escape into the ocean (to the tune of Louis Armstrong’s "What a Wonderful World" [from the 1967 album of the same name] on the soundtrack), with Dory’s family joining Marlin’s back at the Great Barrier Reef.  Various mini-scenes of Hank and ocean views keep you interested in watching the final credits, followed by one last moment with the goofy sea lions.

So What? There’s been no lack of active, embraceable response to Finding Dory, with its enormous $136.2 million domestic (U.S.-Canada) opening last weekend, setting the record for an animated-feature (as well as being the all-time #2 for a June opening, behind Jurassic World [Colin Trevorrow, 2015; review in our June 17, 2015 posting]), along with pulling in another hefty $50 million from overseas markets, with its success attributed to such useful factors as aduiences' ongoing-confidence in Pixar (Disney) products and its unique appeal to young girls, often ignored as a potential audience, although plenty of other demographics also found reason to wade into this newest talking-animals-epic (maybe if for no other reason than a relaxing break in an air-conditioned-theater vicariously indulging in cool water as summer temperatures continue to rise, even in my normally-temperate-Northern California-environment).  Once again, Pixar manages to blend action, emotion, and fine-inspirational-uplift into a digestibly-brief-running time—about 100 minutes if you stay for the credits, but even a little of that experience is devoted to the opening-Pixar-animated-short, Piper (Alan Barillaro), a delightful, near-photographic-take (clip here) on emerging-childhood-awareness as a newborn shoreline bird is weaned by his mother from being fed by her to finding his own food, mostly clams that sit right on the sand until the tide comes in.  His initial attempts are interrupted by the waves which scare—and drench—him, until a helpful little crab shows him how to burrow into the wet sand in order to miss the wave’s impact, then spring up with a clam for his efforts, so that he’s soon nutritionally-independent, a proudly-happy little guy, and the new pride of his flock. 

 Don’t be surprised if both Piper and Finding Dory become Oscar-contenders a few months from now.  In addition to the likeable characters that populate … Dory there’s always something happening, along with interesting information casually worked into the script.  (Did you know that octopuses [not octopi] have 3 hearts?  Hank didn’t until Dory made him aware of it—demonstrating another positive aspect of Dory for all kids, or anyone else with memory or attention-deficit-disorders, that just because you may have weaknesses in some area doesn’t mean that you can’t have usable-strengths in others.)  Further, the solutions to the various crises that the fish face are too creative to be predictable (Marlin and Nemo jumping on water jets to get themselves from a tourist’s fish bowl into the Tide Pool exhibit; Bailey using his put-your-mind-to-it-recovered-echolocation to help track the fish-truck once it’s out of sight of the MLI; Hank driving the truck).  For those of us who live in the San Francisco Bay Area there are additional little pleasures such as when the Cleveland-bound-fish-truck is motoring down the highway it passes freeway exits for Ashby and Gilman streets, actual exits from I-80 into Berkeley (close to Pixar’s home in Emeryville), even though the seacoast portion of this movie’s set in Morro Bay, about where the Pacific coast division resides between Central and Southern California (the fictional Marine Life Institute also resembles the fabulous Monterey Bay Aquarium with its similar massive Kelp Forest tank, touchable-animals Rocky Shore exhibit, and man well-respected-conservation-programs).

 Even though there’s a sad moment when Dory discovers that her parents are no longer in the MLI (therefore they're assumed dead because they never came back after leaving to find their daughter), there’s too much else going on for characters or audience to have any time to grieve this likelihood, just as, on the other hand, there's time made for a touching moment at the very end when Dory swims away from the fish school (being taught by Hank as a substitute while Mr. Ray’s on a migration-vacation) toward the dangerous undertow current that rushes past an undersea cliff.  Marlin quietly follows, not wanting to be his usual demonstrative, overprotective self but still concerned that she not be swept away because she’s forgotten the danger that lies there; however, she notices him then explains that she’s just being alone for a bit contemplating what she does remember of her ongoing-oddball-life.  (Subtly acknowledging that she needs to be on constant guard toward her surroundings so that she doesn’t do anything foolish, just as she’s had to be resourceful in times of being lost during the story picking up clues in her environment as to why she’s where she is and what to do next even if she’s not fully sure about her decisions—“Just keep swimming,” she says.) You know, for anyone who doesn’t feel that celebrating their enjoyment of what’s being assumed as a “children’s movie” is some kind of a self-insult, someday Finding Dory would make an interesting video-double-feature with the R-rated-Memento (Christopher Nolan, 2000) where the protagonist (played by Guy Pearce) has a similar inability to retain short-term-memories, a fate that leads to much darker, more brutal results than Dory’s many delightful discoveries.  (Such a double-feature might not seem that appealing, but I base the concept on my initial viewing of The Exorcist [William Friedkin, 1973] where, as a result of lingering-Catholic-fears of the afterlife, I watched it at a mall 2-screen-theater where I could exit into daylight, walk into the mall for some dinner, then go back to the moviehouse to watch a re-release of Disney’s animated Alice in Wonderland [Clyde Geronimi, Wilfred Jackson, Hamilton Luske; 1951] to clear my mental palate, so to speak, which worked just as intended).

Bottom Line 
Final Comments: Challenging an ongoing-2016-trend of my reviews often being higher (often notably so) than the critical consensus you’ll find at sites like Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic, this time I find myself in league with the rest of my (generally-unknown) colleagues, as those surveyed by RT gave Finding Dory positive reviews at a rate of 95% while the MC snobs (dependably lower than the folks cited at RT) offer a 77% average score.  While my 4 of 5 stars is mathematically closer to the current MC critics'  cumulative number, I rarely go above 4—see the Summary of Two Guys reviews in the Related Links section below—so I also harmonize with the Tomato Tossers in that my 4 stars can be seen as a normally-high-mark-of-achievement for me—the goal in my viewing intentions, to find the tops of the ongoing crop of releases as best I can rather than spend time and money on lesser or just uninteresting offerings—just as their 100% positive clusters of reviews indicate a solidly-worthwhile-audience-investment within current parameters rather than demanding the level of cinematic classic that I reserve for my rarely-given-5’s. However, gushing over Finding Dory is quite easy to do because it’s a pleasure to watch (while the humans depicted are consciously-stylized a bit and some aspects of the ocean-dwellers—such as their expressive eyes—are exaggerated to give them more personality, much of what we see here reaches a level of almost-photographic-quality not only beautiful to see but also fascinating to admire as visuals that fluctuate between plausible verisimilitude and crafted-artificial-creation), the characters are distinct and engaging (great renderings of their movements along with well-articulated-delivery from the impressive vocal talent), and the simple-but-profound-messages of believing in yourself especially when challenges are the strongest, keeping faith that past problems can be overcome, and facing what you fear gives personal growth are always welcome reminders no matter what age you are.  

* Example:  Peter Hartlaub (of the San Francisco Chronicle; a Rotten Tomatoes top critic, his ... Dory review here) gives this movie his highest rating but cites 4 other Pixar features—and 3 more contenders—as being better; at least my ratings system allows me to acknowledge what I consider better movies or even more challenging films so that they’d stand out in my lists.  Yet, this guy’s in the SF Film Critics Circle while I’ve been turned down 4 times; there just ain’t no justice, I tell ya.

 Finding Dory is fun yet heart-warming to watch, even though it doesn’t get mushy-gushy with its inspirational intentions, capped off by that final after-the-credits-scene where not only do we go back to our lounging sea lions still enjoying their day in the sun even as they quickly rise to the occasion to chase off an attempted intruder into their pleasure zone, we also get a last reference to Finding Nemo as the “Tank Gang” (voiced by Willem Dafoe, Brad Garrett, Allison Janney, and others) who escaped captivity in the previous movie are still in their individual plastic bags floating through the ocean, all the way from Australia to California (how they get food in those bags during such a long journey would seem to be a concern—if we were given any time to think about it, but it’s only a quick sight gag to top everything else off in an efficient manner).  Trying to mirror that efficiency, when I pondered my usual tactic of adding a Musical Metaphor as additional commentary on Finding Dory I quickly came to The Beatles’ “Octopus’s Garden” (from the 1969 Abbey Road album, 1 of only 2 songs that Ringo wrote for their records [the other was in 1968, “Don’t Pass Me By” on The Beatles {the so-called White Album}]) at, a video from the Cirque Du Soleil’s majestic Beatles’ tribute, Love, which has been playing in a specially-designed-theatre at the Las Vegas Mirage Hotel since 2006 (my wife, Nina, and I finally saw it in 2015; magnificent).  But if you’d rather listen to the Liverpool Lads mostly just do it on their own (but still with added video animation) here’s that version, which submerges our musicians into a wondrous-water-world where, like Dory and her friends, they have their “little hideaway beneath the waves” where they can celebrate “joy for every girl and boy Knowing they’re happy and they’re safe” in Hank’s “octopus’s garden with you” (being anyone you’d care to insert from the Nemo/ Dory/Beatles worlds, above and below sea level, to keep everything in pleasantly-flowing-harmony).
In Closing, One Last Sports-Distraction from My Movie Reviews …
 No longer being a religious man, I didn’t read much from the King (LeBron) James Version of the “gospels” before watching Game7 of the National Basketball Association Finals last Sunday with confidence that my local Golden State Warriors would repeat as the NBA champions (they beat Cleveland last year) but that was not to be.  Despite a marvelous season in which various group or individual records were set for the Dubs (a twist on the “w” beginning letter of their team name), the Cavaliers (led by mega-superstar James—a status he’s brazenly-well-aware of) finally triumphed (only by 4 points, but all you need is 1) in a nail-biter, allowing the 1st NBA championship ever for Cleveland and the only pro-sports-trophy for that beleaguered-city since 1964 (bringing appropriate pride and joy to my mentor [whose advice in writing these reviews I never seem to take], Barry Caine, a proud native of that Ohio metropolis)—along with the distinction of being the only team in NBA history (out of 33 attempts) to come back from being down 3 games to 1 in the Finals to take the trophy, leaving the supposed-winner shell-shocked.  Maybe next year there’ll be an opportunity for a rematch between these 2 impressive squads with both finally at full strength.  (In 2015 the Cavs had 2 of their other superstars injured even before the Finals; in 2016 the Warriors dealt with several inhibiting [including to 1st-time-ever-unanimous-choice 2016 MVP Stephen Curry] or season-ending-injuries during the Playoffs and Finals, plus a 1-game suspension to a crucial team member [Dreymond Green] for flagrant fouls followed by his lackluster-performance in game 6.  But, getting back to any sport’s defining series 3 years in a row is a huge challenge so only time will tell if that’s possible for a rubber match in 2017.)

 Oh well, it was a great run for the Warriors while it lasted, but their flat surprise-demise largely closes the book for me on San Francisco Bay Area sports for this year, given that on ice-skates the San Jose Sharks finally made the National Hockey Association’s Stanley Cup Finals for the 1st time very recently only to lose 4-2 in their series while my forever-beloved-Oakland Athletics (whose baseball stadium is next door to the Warriors’ arena) are now so firmly in their division’s cellar after only about a third of the season that they can’t quite see daylight (too many players, especially starting pitchers, downed by injuries; I’ll still watch them, but through what’s likely to be yet another “wait ‘til next year” overcast) while I couldn’t care less what happens when football season finally rolls around.  (Maybe some will see the Warriors’ overall 2015-’16 fabulous season triumphs as being like the original Rocky [John G. Avildsen, 1976], a moral victory for the protagonist despite a loss of the championship, but given their sad collapse in the crucial final 5 minutes of bitter Game 7 that’s hard to relish right now either.)  Of course, there's that black-and-orange-clad-baseball team with the huge payroll, fantastic stadium, hefty media contracts and corporate backers, plus 3 World Series wins in recent years, over in San Francisco but the only entity I’ll say less about in these postings than those SF Giants is that Republican blowhard (whose Name Shall Not Be Spoken) running for U.S. President.  (As for my unreasonable-enmity toward the Giants, I’ll just paraphrase another famous GOP Presidential candidate, Barry Goldwater [1964], by saying: “Extremism in defense of sports loyalty is no vice, moderation in criticizing your cross-Bay-rivals is no virtue.”)

 For now, farewell Warriors, thanks for the memories, and, truly, my sincere congratulations to the Cavs for their showing of resilient-superiority.  However, my marvelous wife, Nina, and I were watching that NBA game on a large video screen at the Alameda County (CA) Fair (we lost only $ .60 at the horse races, a personal best for us), where the sting of the loss was largely healed just a few minutes later by a great concert performed by Eric Burdon and the Animals, with a great set of rock numbers that incorporated Burdon’s blues-influences, as he growled through all of his hits to the great delight of the crowd.  (Nina took this accompanying iPhone photo; none of those I attempted with her camera came out very good.)  I’ll choose one of his final numbers to close out this posting, “It’s My Life” 
(a 1965 hit, found on the Animals' 1984 Greatest Hits Live (Rip It to Shreds) album), at https://www. S8gck (a video with absurd-but-sadly-older-age-tolerant use of women as trophies [no sexist implications toward LeBron intended], so if you don’t care for that aspect of it here’s another version more like what I just saw), dedicated to (as he’s now earned the right to be called after his 2016 Finals-MVP-trophy-winning-domination) King James and his salvation for his adoring Ohio fans (who rejected him after he left for the Miami Heat a few years ago in order to be on an NBA championship team—happened twice while he was in Florida—but embraced him again when he returned to his home area, set on bringing glory to Cleveland as well): “It’s my life and I’ll do what I want It’s my mind and I’ll think what I want Show me I’m wrong, hurt me sometime But some day I’ll treat you real fine.”  But just you wait ‘til next year too, your Majesty!  (And you can take that "Ultimate Warrior" T-shirt you wore getting off the victory plane in Cleveland and stuff it up the part of you that probably empties into Lake Eire—I don’t care that it’s originally about a [now deceased] WWE wrestler, it’s still insulting, ya big jerk.  But, short of that hope, I guess until “next year” ever comes the Golden State Warriors, the Sharks, the A’s—and I—will just have to be content with this reminder from the Rolling Stones [from their 1969 Let It Bleed album; video from a 2013 concert, though, in recognition of this song’s eternally-relevant-message that "You Can't Always Get What You Want."])

  One last thing, as of the Google statistics I see in the process of this posting I’ve recently gotten pageviews from 5 of the 6 continents I hope to reach (until some movie theaters open in Antarctica), with only Africa missing from the coverage, so thanks again to all of my global readers out there especially the ones in France who’ve lately been racking up unbelievable numbers for Two Guys!
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 more information about Finding Dory: (22:06, 107 facts about the movie, presented at breakneck-speed)_

Please note that to Post a Comment below about our reviews you need to have either a Google account (which you can easily get at if you need to sign up) or other sign-in identification from the pull-down menu below before you preview or post.

If you’d rather contact Ken directly rather than leaving a comment here please use my new email at  Thanks.

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.