Thursday, June 6, 2019

Rocketman along with a shot of Short Takes on Godzilla: King of the Monsters [2019]

The Perils of Excess

Reviews by Ken Burke
                           Rocketman (Dexter Fletcher)   rated R

“Executive Summary” (no spoilers): Here’s another in Hollywood’s recent long string of “Based on True Events” stories, although this one intentionally deviates from the reality of its recounting (explained by the director in this review’s first section just below, no spoilers involved), both in some of the included elements as well as a good many fantasy-flights from the historical accounts in order to produce a final result where aspects of Elton John’s famed public life (and, at times, unstable personal life) operate in an allusory-manner with his well-known-songs with no attempt to keep chronological-clarity, aiming more for the emotional impact of synthesizing these oddball narrative elements.  However, the foundational-framework of this account (particularly aspects of the early 1950s, early 1960s, and his prolific, star-studded-years of the early-through-mid-1970s) is presented in a generally-accurate fashion, although there’s no intention here to win any awards for biographical-verisimilitude.  To some degree, the extensive use of Elton’s music in this film plays a bit like a greatest hits album, but with the songs mostly used in context of the plot’s events, to comment on the non-musical-content of these scenes in a highly creative fashion.  However, that may be somewhat-offsetting if you’d prefer a more traditional biography, just as you might prefer to hear the actual recordings rather than the (decent but not fully Elton) singing of starring-actor Taron Egerton.  You’ll find some reviews steering you away from this film because of such complaints, but the vast majority of critics (including the one who counts most, me) encourage you to see this intriguing-experiment at “zero hour nine AM” (or whenever it’s more convenient for you) because afterward you’re “gonna be high as a kite by then [… from] such a timeless flight.”  But just remember, although Rocketman’s playing in a great number of theaters, “Mars ain’t the kind of place” to find this film, “And there’s no one there [… to show it] if you did.”  OK, now you’ve got the mood of what awaits you on screen, so please read on if you’re of a mind to find out a lot more.

Here’s the trailer:  (Use the full screen button in the image’s lower right to enlarge it; activate that same button on the full screen’s lower right or your “esc” keyboard key to return to normal size.)

If you can abide plot spoilers read on, but as this blog’s intended for those who’ve seen the film—or want to save some bucks—to help any of you who want to learn more details yet avoid important plot-reveals I’ll identify any give-away sentences/sentence-clusters like this: 
⇒The first and last words will be noted with arrows and red.⇐ OK, now continue on if you prefer.

What Happens: As the director explains: […] the point is that Rocketman isn’t so much a traditional biopic as it is a musical that happens to be set to Elton’s music. ‘We’d like to think that there’s a universality to the story that means that it’s not just so specific to Elton,’ Fletcher said at a press event leading up to the movie’s release. ‘That’s why it’s not a biopic per se; it’s Elton’s recollections, his memories of how he felt at a certain time, and what that song meant to him.’ […] Though that detail may pass over the heads of those only cursorily familiar with Elton’s work, the line that Rocketman walks between reality and fantasy is immediately evident. Characters burst into song regardless of whether or not they’re on stage, and it’s better when they do.”*  So, be aware that while the chronological events in the life of Reginald Dwight—self-recreated as Elton Hercules John—as presented in Rocketman generally follow the facts up until roughly 1975 (except when they don’t; here’s a short [8:57] video on 10 things the film got right and wrong [beware spoilers], even though accuracy wasn't the primary concern) the many songs don’t necessarily come in appropriate temporal order because they’re being used as commentary on the chronology, not as illustrations of it.  That said, what we get is a brash beginning as Elton John (Taron Egerton)–in a winged devil costume (the real Elton says he wishes he’d actually worn it at some point) arrives at a group therapy session (we find out later he’s in desperately-needed-rehab), leading us into the film’s main events, beginning with Reggie’s (Matthew Illesley) troubled childhood where Dad Stanley’s (Steven Mackintosh) not home much due to Royal Air Force duties, barely tolerates Reggie when he is, while Mom Shelia’s (Bryce Dallas Howard) a little more supportive at times but generally aloof and caustic so it takes the help of Grandma Ivy (Gemma Jones) to get him a scholarship to the Royal Academy of Music where his innate piano skills are honed on the classics while he morphs into a teenager (Kit Connor) more interested in rock and roll (encouraged by Mom’s new man, Fred Farebrother [Tom Bennett], after Stanley stormed away following Reggie stumbling onto their affair).

*Here’s even more about this film’s unique approach and why it works for many of us, although that’s not the opinion of esteemed San Francisco Chronicle film critic Mick LaSalle, whose near-total-dismissal of this film almost steered me away from it, but, like Mick, I’m just too interested in Elton’s infectious-music to not see how this cinematic concept was being approached.  Turns out Mick’s so enamored of that phase of John’s musical career (LaSalle admits it coincides with his own coming-of-age-years) it’s clear this isn’t the film he wanted to see, no matter how well it might work for a lot of others (giving a bit of insight into the unspoken-influences that likely permeates all reviews, a reason why I try to admit when I’m being swayed by something extraneous to a film’s on-screen-presence), including executive producer Elton John, who’s very supportive of this outcome.

 Already at this early point in the story the characters and actions are bursting into lavish song (from Elton’s later career), sometimes also dance, numbers as enhancements of the on-screen-events, not as an organic part of them.  Some examples: little Reggie’s self-confident-status in his early-1950s-neighborhood (“The Bitch Is Back” from the 1974 album Caribou), yet trauma for those in Reggie’s home's shown by all 4 of them singing "I Want Love" (from the 2001 album Songs from the West Coast), Reggie’s transition into Elton bursts from a local pub into the streets with “Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting” (from the 1973 album Goodbye Yellow Brick Road).  Reggie’s local rock group, Bluesology, shows promise but not enough to gain a contract with local music manager Dick James (Stephen Graham) until Elton’s introduced to Bernie Taupin (Jamie Bell) who’s written a lot of catchy lyrics which Elton (first name after a guy in the previous band, “John” supposedly was in tribute to John Lennon—although that’s just another of the fabrications along the way) combines with catchy tunes (“Border Song” from the 1970 album Elton John), leading to their mutual success (Bernie accepts Elton as gay, even though his realization leads to a bitter breakup with girlfriend Arabella [Ophelia Lovibond]), beginning, as the performer’s career actually did, with “Your Song” (from Elton John), that soon finds Elton as a huge hit at L.A.’s Troubadour Club in August 1970 (“Crocodile Rock” from the 1973 album Don’t Shoot Me I’m Only the Piano Player) as everyone starts floating in euphoric ecstasy.  At an after-party, though, Bernie wanders off with a willing woman, leaving Elton alone (“Tiny Dancer” from the 1971 album Madman Across the Water) until he’s seduced by manipulative-music-manager John Reid (Richard Madden), who ultimately takes over Elton’s career and life, so as the hits, fame, riches, and outlandish persona continue to grow (“Honky Cat” from the 1972 album Honky Château), Elton’s more distant from Bernie (at one point tells him to just simply keep writing the lyrics while Elton carries the burden of being the flashy performer), filling his life instead with sex, drugs, alcohol, and a lavish lifestyle he barely can deal with (“Pinball Wizard” from The Who’s 1975 Tommy soundtrack album [film released in same year]).

  At an especially low point in his life, while his guests live it up at Elton’s L.A. mansion, he overdoses on a variety of substances, then attempts to drown himself in his pool (where he encounters his younger self, leading to a strange-underwater-duet of “Rocket Man” [from Honky Château]), gets pulled out by his guests followed by an emergency-ambulance-ride but lands, by Reid’s insistence on a quick turnaround, at a massive, energetic concert in the uniform of an L.A. Dodgers baseball player.  Further estrangement from his parents (he comes out to Mom from a phone booth, but she says she knew all along, predicts he’ll just end up lonely; Dad’s remarried, has other kids, still doesn’t know how to connect with Elton, can't seem to understand the impact of his son's success), indulgence in his increasingly-lavish-stage-presence and lifestyle (“Bennie and the Jets,” Goodbye Yellow Brick Road), considerably more tension with Mom as they constantly bicker (“Sorry Seems To Be the Hardest Word” from the 1976 album Blue Moves), a serious clash with Bernie (“Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” from the same-named 1973 album), all lead to another overdose followed by a heart attack with similar disinterest from Reid, long since being Elton’s lover, now just a greedy manager (“Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me” from Caribou) pushing his cash-cow into a Madison Square Garden concert that Elton walks away from, enters rehab to bring us full-circle to the opening scene, followed by Elton reconnecting with his younger self, then with Bernie (“I’m Still Standing” from the 1983 album Too Low for Zero; this scene flows from the detox-center to an extravagant beach finale).  Pre-ending-credits-graphics tell us Elton’s been sober almost 30 years, is happily married to David Furnish (earlier in the film his brief marriage to German recording engineer Renate Blauel in 1984 was noted [they divorced in 1988], but this attempt at bisexuality failed once again), they have 2 kids (from a surrogate mother) so Elton’s wrapping up his touring life to spend more time with his family and work for the Elton John AIDS Foundation, although he also maintains his ongoing close friendship/musical collaboration with Bernie Taupin.⇐

So What? When I was teaching my American Popular Film class I noted the genre of Musicals operates through 6 subgenres of various plot devices beginning during the emergence of cinematic-sound-technology in the late 1920s with Revues, which are essentially filmed vaudeville-type variety collections of various performances, an easy transition into the new world of sound film in those early days of bulky cameras, limited microphone placement, technical requirements of recording the sound as produced before the perfection of overdubbing, leading to enthusiastic popular response for this sort of filmic-breakthrough including Best Picture Oscars for The Broadway Melody (Harry Beaumont, 1929) and The Great Ziegfeld (Robert Z. Leonard, 1936), although these collections of stage-based-artistry largely dropped out of fashion after the 1930s (replaced by other subgenres of Backstage, Operetta, Performance, Fantasy [Modern finally comes along in the 1950s]).  However, my argument was Revues never went away completely, they were just replaced by the musical biography such as The Fabulous Dorseys (Alfred E. Green, 1947) or The Glenn Miller Story (Anthony Mann, 1954) where the extensive musical numbers are now connected to a single famous musician, with the plot better developed than back in the ‘30s but still mostly an excuse to highlight a lot of songs an audience can easily relate to; this revival of the Musical’s earliest subgenre continues into our time with such powerful examples (as well as even-better-narratives) as Ray (Taylor Hackford, 2004) about Ray Charles, Walk the Line (James Mangold, 2005) about Johnny and June Carter Cash, Get On Up (Tate Taylor, 2014; review in our August 7, 2014 posting) about James Brown, or—most recently—Bohemian Rhapsody (Bryan Singer, 2018; review in our November 7, 2018 posting) about Freddie Mercury of Queen, a somewhat-surprise-Best Actor-Oscar-winner for Rami Malek (over Christian Bale in Vice [Adam McKay, 2018; review in our January 10, 2019 posting], still my choice for that award).  Some critics—especially Mr. LaSalle (a bit ironic he complains about historical inaccuracies in Rocketman when that’s not even his real name, but I’ll go no further with that comment)—aren’t impressed with Egerton’s vocalizations (I’ll admit, it’s not fully the quality you’d get from Elton’s recordings, but Taron’s quite passible with all the singing he’s required to do).

(I can't help but note Taron Egerton's [on the right] appearance as the young Elton John reminds me
—in a somewhat distracting manner
of a young George Costanza [Jason Alexander],
with lots of hair for a change, from NBC TV's 
Seinfeld comedy series.)
 Yet, it was a brave choice for Egerton to undertake all those well-known-pop-songs, especially when you consider that only Joaquin Phoenix of the contemporary musical-icon-imitators cited just above sang his own renditions of their characters’ songs, with the others generally lip-syncing to the established-recordings (not quite the case with Malik, but it’s not fully just him singing in ... Rhapsody either).  In all these cases, though, including Rocketman, you have the foundational use of songs in the overall Musicals genre to move their narratives along, with lyrics replacing some content of the dialogue, although to my knowledge (limited as it may be about this extensive genre) previous Revues have always used what’s known in academic writings about cinema as the “non-integrated” approach where all musical numbers are done by professional (or, at least, aspiring) talent as part of rehearsals or public stagework so the tunes are justified by the understanding these performances are intended for an audience within the movie (as well as us, watching the entire experience).  In contrast, Rocketman uses some of this structure when showing Elton John in concert settings but also brings in aspects of the fully “integrated” examples (where anyone can suddenly, effectively burst into song and/or dance) from subgenres such as Performance (honed to perfection by Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers in their RKO collaborations beginning in the 1930s) or Fantasy (made famous by The Wizard of Oz [Victor Fleming, 1939], but Tommy’s [Ken Russell, 1975] likewise fits here, where concepts of the musical numbers as related to professional show business are generally absent), so here we encounter the Revue's usual greatest-hits-catalogue but more like an extended version of what I explore as Musical Metaphors in this review's final section just below.

Bottom Line Final Comments: Despite the occasional disparagement from critics such as Mick LaSalle, Rocketman’s been actively accepted by the CCAL (Collective Critics At Large [my term]) with a Certified Fresh cluster of 91% positive reviews at Rotten Tomatoes* along with a generally-decent-for-them 70% average score at Metacritic, with the audience response also being supportive so far (the film grossed $25.7 million in domestic [U.S.-Canada] revenues from 3,610 theaters for placement at #3 during the Memorial Day opening weekend [plus another $31.2 million from international venues]), with its worldwide total already exceeding the $40 million production budget, maybe a good bit more to come given that the #1 winner, Godzilla: King of the Monsters (reviewed just below) is likely to face major drop-off once the novelty’s worn off while #2 Aladdin [2019] (Guy Ritchie; review in our May 29, 2019 posting) is already showing a 50% decline from its previous week’s hefty take.  Or maybe Elton John’s rooted too much in my raised-in-the-mid-20th-century-generation (along with slightly-younger-than-me LaSalle) to pull many more of us “golden oldies” into the theaters when there’s more-contemporary-focused-fare available for the younger, more out-and-about-crowd.  But despite not hearing actual Elton on the soundtrack, if you have any sentimental connection with this music (or just dig the engaging nature of his vast catalogue), along with admiration for how Reggie/Elton (he changed his name legally back in 1972) was able to overcome the soul-sucking-combination of fame, absurd wealth, addictions, public expectations, etc. to become the lovable, respected figure he is today, winner of notable awards (including membership in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame [1994]; an Oscar for Best Original Song, “Can You Feel The Love Tonight” from The Lion King [Roger Allers, Rob Minkoff; 1994]; a Tony for Best Original Score [with Tim Rice] for Aida [1999]) as well as being knighted in 1998, I think you’d find a lot to like in Rocketman.  So, with encouragement to see it for yourself, I’ll close out these remarks with my usual-finishing-tactic of a Musical Metaphor (much more appropriate this time than most) which will be (no surprise) “Rocket Man” at (a music video sponsored by YouTube, created by Iranian filmmaker/refugee Majid Adin [and Stephen McNally] combining Taupin's lyrics about the loneliness of outer space with Adin's visual traumas of Earthly separation from all one holds dear) not only because it’s so obvious from the film’s title but also because it reflects Elton’s frequent sense of inadequacy during the film's years depicted: “And I think it's gonna be a long long time 'Till touch down brings me round again to find I'm not the man they think I am at home Oh no no no I'm a rocket man Rocket man burning out his fuse up here alone.”**  (Or, if you’d just rather see Elton sing it, then go here for a 1972 live London show video.)

*A site, despite its impact, using only 34% female critics (also, scroll down to "Read the full findings here."), an ongoing concern for those rightfully-seeking a larger range of voices to evaluate our cinematic products (so, I guess if Two Guys in the Dark would have been accepted to join RT [we weren't] it wouldn't help that gender-problem much [even with our brilliantly-diverse-approach]).

**Given I went many years (before easy-Internet-access to song lyrics) not really knowing what Elton was saying in that last line of the "Rocket Man" chorus (also not bothering to try to purchase the sheet music to find out [Does anyone still buy this stuff?])—Did it have something to do with pheromones (secreted chemicals causing reactions in others of the same species)?  Was it somehow about the Farallons (islands a bit west of San Francisco)?—along with the notion this film presents so much music it’s a shame to talk about it without putting a bit more of the acoustical-artform into this posting, I’ll also offer you one of my favorite tunes of Sir Elton (certainly, there are many to choose from), "Bennie and the Jets" (this performance from his “Elton John One Night Only—Greatest Hits Live” concert at Madison Square Garden [good to know he eventually got back there], October 21, 2000) because the original recording, even as a faux-live-event, captures so well the audience-enthusiasm for this gifted musician as seen in various Rocketman scenes, plus—except for the chorus—again, for years I had no idea what he was saying for most of the song, so in case you join me in that disability here's another video of the original “Bennie …” recording with lyrics on screen to allow you (or at least me) to finally sing along accurately.  (Yes, the words jump around a bit, but just imagine it’s the result of that seemingly-raucous-live-performance [or maybe Godzilla's stomping around nearby], as you ponder possibilities of "Hey kids, plug into the faithless Maybe they're blinded But Bennie makes them ageless We shall survive, let us take ourselves along Where we fight our parents out in the streets To find out who's right and who's wrong."  Say what?)
SHORT TAKES (spoilers also appear here)
                       Godzilla: King of the Monsters [2019] 
                         (Michael Doughhery)   rated PG-13

Here’s the next chapter in the latest series of giant-beast movies from the folks at Legendary Pictures, as a deranged eco-terrorist is determined to call forth the ancient animals called Titans to destroy humanity before we destroy the planet; ultimately, our salvation lies with the mighty radiation-charged Titan we've named Godzilla to protect us from those other abominable attackers.

Here’s the trailer:

       Before reading any further, I’ll ask you to refer to the plot spoilers warning far above.

 Given the several dozen Godzilla movies that have been made by various Japanese and American production companies since the original Toho Studios’ Gojira (Ishirō Honda, 1954), it’s easy to get confused as to how this latest installment fits into the previous episodes of this increasingly-legendary-monster*; however, all you really need to know about this current version is it follows Legendary (naturally!) Pictures’ earlier release of Godzilla (Gareth Edwards, 2014; review in our May 15, 2014 posting) where we first learned of this existence of huge, deadly, ancient creatures—Titans—who’ve been in hibernation under our planet’s surface for eons, with 3 of them brought back in that earlier story, Godzilla (nuclear-enhanced from unsuccessful attempts in the 1950s to kill him with hydrogen bombs) finally vanquishing the other 2, essentially destroying San Francisco in the process (I’m sure there were plenty of folks in my original home of Texas cheering such a result) before this huge, fire-breathing creature lumbered back into some unknown resting place deep in the oceans, as the scientists/military forces of Monarch Corp., charged with keeping tabs on the Titans, have lost contact.  In this follow-up-movie, Monarch paleobiologist Emma Russell (Very Farmiga) secretly plots with eco-terrorist Alan Jonah (Charles Dance) to bring other Titans into action, specifically cocooned-Mothra, pterodactyl-like Rodan, and 3-headed, dragon-like Monster Zero (later identified as alien Ghidorah) to destroy most of humanity before we can cause any further ecological crises, with the intention of surviving humans living in harmony with (yet under the rule of) these massive beasts.  Emma’s driven by a desire to create something beneficial to atone for the death of her son during Godzilla’s SF battles while her ex-husband Mark’s (Kyle Chandler) desperately trying to find her to liberate their tweener-daughter Madison (Millie Bobby Brown) from Mom’s plans, which Madison comes to despise as well.  ⇒In an early battle between conflicting-alpha-predators Godzilla and Ghidorah, the former bites off 1 of the latter’s heads (but he just grows a new one), then both are hit with an “oxygen destroyer” weapon which seems to greatly weaken Godzilla (a similar device supposedly killed him in Gojira but obviously wasn’t as effective as it seemed to be), with no effect on Ghidorah who continues his rampage.⇐

*If you'd like an extensive background exploration of all previous Godzilla movies there’s a 54:11 video as the second entry for this one in the Related Links section below, or you might prefer this much shorter option (10:50) on essential plot points to be aware of from the 2014 predecessor before seeing this new one—or maybe you’d prefer to just watch this latter video rather than spending your cash on the latest manifestation of the green, atomic-powered behemoth (although these publicity stills make him look blue, but what difference does it make if he's right behind you?).

 In a desperate attempt to revive Godzilla by detonating a nuclear device near him, Monarch scientist Dr. Ishirō Serizawa (Ken Watanabe)—who’d previously argued Godzilla was humanity’s best hope against the other Titans—has to sacrifice himself by hand-delivering the bomb when Godzilla’s lair is found in the remains of Atlantis (definitely not the thriving undersea kingdom in Aquaman [James Wan, 2018; review in our January 2, 2019 posting]); the creature’s (over)energized, follows the signal from Emma’s “Orca” device (built to attract/sooth/control the Titans with sound waves) which Madison has stolen from Mom, plugged into the sound system of the Red Sox’s Fenway Park (don’t ask) in order to lure all the Titans to Boston with hopes newly-empowered Godzilla might be able to undo Jonah’s devious plan, never intended to preserve humans at all.  In the ensuing battle, Mothra (newly hatched) comes to Godzilla’s aid (they may even have some sort of relationship [?]) but is killed by Ghidorah's fire before Godzilla’s nuclear-boost grows so lethal Ghidorah’s literally blown apart, even though Godzilla’s still as before (?), with the other Titans (lured out of hibernation by Ghidorah’s call, rather than being released one-by-one by Emma’s device as she’d understood the plan; during the Boston chaos she retrieves the Orca device, uses it to lure Ghidorah away from Mark and Madison so they can escape as she’s killed by Godzilla’s radiation-explosion) leaving behind the worldwide-destruction they were causing to come to Boston, bowing before Godzilla as their rightful king.  News flashes during the credits quickly show how the Titans’ presence brought healing-restoration to Earth (not just with their fertilizer-dung) before they went back into hibernation (we also see a Mothra egg, so this character’s not done yet); a brief post-credits-scene shows Jonah buying the severed Ghidorah head⇐ even as long-undiscovered-petroglyphs of King Kong battling Godzilla are linked to Titan-activity near Skull Island (where we saw the giant ape in his Legendary Pictures story, Kong: Skull Island [Jordan Vogt-Roberts, 2017; review in our March 16, 2017 posting]), setting us up for the revised-version of Godzilla vs. Kong (Adam Wingard, set for release on March 13, 2020).  While this current return of Godzilla won the box-office-race in its debut weekend with a global haul of $178 million ($48 million domestically), you can read this Forbes article as to why that’s not so great a return on the $170 million budget (compared to Legendary’s other MonsterVerse movies), along with this IndieWire article about how to improve audience response to the upcoming Legendary-franchise-entries (here are ruminations 
[beware of spoilers!] on what we might find as monsters continue to roam through these revivals).

 The OCCU (Often Cranky Critics Universe [my designation]) hasn’t helped drum up much additional business either for Godzilla ..., with RT offering a paltry package of 40% positive reviews, MC a surprisingly-higher-for-a-change 48% average score.  While this might be immensely impressive in 3-D (I didn’t pay to find out) because the 2-D computer-generated-imagery is quite striking in those battle scenes, the action’s essentially non-stop, the monster clashes are well-choreographed (although the shtick of Godzilla seemingly out for the count, then suddenly reviving is already getting a bit old, like the undercard of a WWE pro-wrestling pay-per-view), I surmise that despite insider-allusions to the lengthy-line of previous Godzilla episodes, a reasonably-well-structured-sense-of-tension in those final scenes (where the Big Guy’s supposed to explode due to his over-saturation-radiation), and the chance for anyone having a grudge against Boston to see it get the “monster mash” treatment, this latest addition to the Creature Feature subgenre of Fantasy movies likely has built-in-limitations on audience appeal.  I’ll leave such interest to your particular tastes with my Musical Metaphor of “Fire” (from the Ohio Players’ 1974 Fire album) at https://www. (old-school-funk, matching Godzilla’s decades-long-funky-screen-presence), with the understanding you’ll have to get into a full-metaphorical-mindset to extend a song about a hot-human-romance into the realm of fire-breathing-monsters (Ghidorah too, verifying that dragon-comparison), but maybe you could imagine Mothra singing to Godzilla: “When you’re hot you’re hot, you really shoot your shot […] I can tell by your game, you’re gonna start a flame”—or not, depending on how seriously you take these giant-monster-movies. For me, the whole thing was a pleasant-enough-diversion on a Sunday afternoon, but after the Godzilla-Kong rematch is done next year I’ll have had enough of this sort of thing to last me for quite awhile.
Related Links Which You Might Find Interesting:
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Here’s more information about Rocketman: (a pathetically flat official site) (13:50 interview with Elton John 
and Taron Egerton)

Here’s more information about Godzilla: King of the Monsters: (54:11 video exploration of the history of Godzilla movies since 1954)

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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.  But wherever the rest of my body may be my heart’s always with my longtime-companion, lover, and wife, Nina Kindblad, so here’s our favorite shared song—Neil Young’s "Harvest Moon"
—from the performance we saw at the Desert Trip concerts in Indio, CA on October 15, 2016 (as a full moon was rising over the stadium) because “I’m still in love with you,” my dearest, a never-changing-reality even as the moon waxes and wanes over the months/years to come.
Finally, for the data-oriented among you, Google stats say over the past month (which they seem to measure from right now back 30 days) the total unique hits at this site were 32,630 (as always, we thank all of you for your support with our hopes you’ll continue to be regular readers); below is a snapshot of where and by what means those responses have come from within the previous week:


  1. I was impressed with Rocketman and learned quite a bit about Elton John in the process. I think the musical "sequencing" issues were minor since they made it clear early that we were witnessing Elton's inner feelings through the clever utilization of his songs. I think this film is a keeper.

  2. Hi rj, Thanks for the feedback, with which I completely agree. Ken