Teaching Street Smarts

Kee-rraap it is cold outside. My walk today was longer than usual, but also faster than normal. Longer because the biting cold wind against my rosy cheeks stung to high heaven, and fast because my motor wanted to get me the hell into the warmth. It has been almost three years since I have enjoyed such extreme temperature. The past two years in Arizona conditioned me for a low of fifty-five. A minus two degree windchill is fifty-seven degrees lower than I can withstand. Nevertheless, I am staying in Frankfort this winter so I need to get out for some conditioning, and I got it.

st_vincent_ver6

Yesterday was worse because the high temperature peaked at eighteen degrees. At least today, it is a balmy twenty-eight. The wind chill has been the killer on both days. What saved yesterday was seeing a delightful movie. Peggy and I watched “Saint Vincent.” It is what I call a sleeper. I haven’t heard people talking about it, yet it spoke to me when I reviewed the films playing this week. I totally enjoyed the story and the characters. The actors were cast perfectly for their roles.

This film is a comedy, which is what I wanted to see, and I did laugh at some of the stuff going on, but I cried too. Somehow, when I cry, it cannot be funny. The theme of the story dealt with broken homes, bullying, family bankruptcy, aging, grief, desperation, and survival.

Bill Murray plays the part of Vin (Vincent Mac Kenna) a Viet Nam era vet who lives alone, and dislikes people. He smokes too much, drinks too much, and gambles too much, but he is the hero of the story. He becomes a caretaker for the smart kid Oliver who just moved in next door, and whose mother Maggie(Melissa Mc Carthy) works too much to get by. Needless to say, Vin’s tutoring of Oliver (the smart kid Jaden Lieberher) cannot be classified as politically correct. The education Vin gave Oliver falls into the subject of “street smarts.” Oliver handles it well, but his errant father doesn’t want Oliver to be near Vin, even though the father hasn’t donated a penny to his well-being. All the father did was to complicate the story, which I loved, but Oliver and his mother did not.

There are some lessor characters in the story like Father Geraty (Chris O’Dowd) who teaches Oliver at Saint Patrick’s Catholic school. There is also Daka, (Naomi Watts) Vin’s hired and pregnant girl friend who is his occasional underpaid companion, and Vin’s bookie Zucko (Terrence Howard) who only wants Vin to pay him back. Put these people into the mix along with a good storyline and one has a very entertaining story.

To me the star of this movie is Oliver. The kid is perfect for the part, and he is an excellent actor too. I nominate him for Best Supporting Actor for the 2015 Oscars.

See the movie on Tuesday at Marcus for five bucks. I saw it on Wednesday for seven, but it was worth it. Six-fifty for a small pop-corn is worse than three sixty-nine for a gallon of gas where is the Occupy Wall Street crowd on that one?

 

I’m Not Buyin’ It

Today, Peg and I watched a very powerful film “12 Years A Slave.” We now understand why it received the Best Picture Award. The reason it is so good is because it is a true story, and is the personal account of a man who experienced slavery in the good old USA. We weren’t shocked by the content, nor the cruelty because both of us watched movies like “Roots,” and “Amistad.” We also paid attention in school when studying history. I admit, however, that the cruelty aspect in 12 Years is much more graphic and convincing than that in Roots.

Last week we saw “Son of God” and the cruelty shown to Jesus was similar if not more so. One difference is that Jesus experienced one scourging in his life, slave-owners whipped their property often. There is no doubt in my mind that slavery is evil. It is finally illegal to own slaves in any country of the world, yet there are purportedly twenty-nine million slaves in existence worldwide today.

What made this film more interesting is that main character Solomon Northrup was born a free man in Saratoga, New York. That made him a citizen of the USA. He didn’t get captured by mercenary traders in a foreign country and shipped across an ocean to a strange new land and sold. Kidnappers took Solomon and sold him into slavery in Washington D.C. He learned quickly not to ever mention his background to anyone for fear of a brutal beating.

Most white slave owners were evil. There is no better way to describe them, they acted like the devil. Even those who were compassionate were evil because they believed that owning  human beings as property was their legal right. Many saw slaves as animals not humans. I salute the millions of slaves who have endured the loss of liberty and cruel treatment they received. This is the point where I will infuriate all blacks living in America. I’m not buying into the storyline that I should feel sorry for every living American black because his great, great, great, grandfather uncle aunt, etc. was a slave. The slaves were the ones who paid the price, not you. You are free since 1865 and since 1970’s the US government has spent trillions to end poverty and for discrimination you have suffered under whitey. If you divide the money spent by every black in America since the Emancipation Proclamation you would all be very wealthy.

Obama-Lincoln-slavery-jpg

What have you done to make your slave ancestors proud? What is their legacy? How do you honor the cruelty and indignity they suffered? Is it they who have made you more dependent on Uncle Sam? Did Solomon Northrup and his friends organize you into gangs? Did he also corrupt your morals to commit genocide on your own progeny? What have you done for yourselves to convince us to drop the need to discriminate against you? Forgive me, but I do discriminate against gang-thugs, and people who play the welfare system to the max. I welcome my neighbors, and friends who share in the goodness of America.

It pleases me if Hollywood made this film to entertain. It pleases me if  they made it to educate us about the life of an extraordinary man. If they made it to send a message that you are a victim of a government gone wild, it is okay. If Hollywood produced this story to eradicate world slavery through awareness, I am pleased.

The problem is that I don’t think Hollywood made the film for those reasons.  I think they made it because they are pushing the political agenda of equal outcomes for all policy of communism, and I am not buying it.

Instead of Hollywood producers, directors, actors, and American Blacks converting America into a socialist state, where everyone belongs to the government, they should focus their efforts on freeing the twenty-nine million slaves in the world who still endure the cruelty, hardship, and loss of liberty.

Epic Family Movie

My latest project.

This short movie was a fun project filmed in 1967. We were on the farm having fun when I decided it was time to make a movie with Barb’s cousin Eugene and his wife Pat. We brainstormed a plot using the props available to us. The whole thing took about an thirty minutes to make. We shot 100 feet of Super-8 movie film.

Sadly, the main character Gene died at age fifty something. His cousin and my wife Barbara died at age sixty-five. Others in the background were my kids, father, mother, mother-in-law, and dog. A lot of great memories packed into one minute.

Following Up With the Movie Version

Last night I followed through on a promise I made to myself about the book “East of Eden.”  I watched the movie to see how accurately Hollywood followed Steinbeck’s work. My grade is a B+. The movie followed the book story quite well. Except for eliminating a central character Lee, adding too much strength to the Sheriff, and changing the ending to shorten the film, the movie told the story well.

The original work is six hundred pages long. I wondered where the movie would start while I was reading. When I finished, I surmised that the script could only cover the last two hundred pages, and that is exactly what happened.

I remember seeing coming attractions for the film which touted James Dean as a powerful new actor. It’s taken  me over fifty years to finally watch the film. James Dean was magnificent in the role of Caleb Trask, a moody young kid who needed answers about his life. His twin brother (not identical) seemed to have it all together, but in the end, the moody kid endures life, and survives the answers he uncovers. His brother, could not deal with the same answers, and loses it He joins the army to fight WWI and dies in action.

I give this film five stars, although a little late. If you haven’t seen it yet, find a copy in the library or rent one and watch. You won’t be sorry.

During the movie I set a new goal, i.e. why not read Dean’s biography, and watch all of his films? The DVD I borrowed from the library came with a second disk, it had Dean’s biography. I enjoyed it as much as I did the film. Dean only made three films before he died, and now I’ve seen two of them. I saw “Rebel without a Cause,” a couple of times. The last film is “Giant.”

The only pleasure missing from this viewing was the company of my grand-daughter Dana. I know we would have had a great time discussing the story and the characters. Oh well.

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