The Hunt (2019)… a little more…

A few days ago I posted about the movie The Hunt, set to be released some time this year, and how its trailer was, IMHO, a perfect example of giving away too much plot. (If you’re interested, you can read the original post here)

Welp, it appears it hid from me (either that or I was too dense to notice) the fact that the film presents a situation where “liberal elites” are the ones who make a sport out of hunting and killing the salt-of-the-earth Red State folk, something that, thanks to that explanation, becomes clear when re-watching the trailer video…

Given the mass shootings which occurred these past few days and initiated by what appear to be right wing types, the studio behind The Hunt realized their movie and its promos may be a little too provocative in times like these.

As Jeremy Fuster points out in his article presented on thewrap.com…

Universal pauses marketing campaign for “The Hunt” after mass shooting

There is a long history of provocation in the entertainment industry, be it music (Jimi Hendrix’s rendition of The Star Spangled Banner as protest against Vietnam), literature (A Clockwork Orange), and movies/TV (The Prisoner, Planet of the Apes -the original-, etc. etc.).

When done well, I tend to applaud takes on controversial subjects. The movie The Parallax View, for example, presented a paranoid view of the United States and those who have all the power and how they keep those who step out of line in check… sometimes through assassination. Warren Beatty, who played the protagonist in the film, is a newspaperman who stumbles upon the deep, dark secret behind a cabal that may be responsible for assassinations. The movie becomes a fascinating look at how an innocent man becomes a patsy through mind control (think Lee Harvey Oswald, for those who are conspiracy minded).

Reading up on The Hunt and it’s entire analogy/message, I can’t help but think: Is that it? Rip off The Most Dangerous Game but offer the “clever” twist that the hunters are homicidal liberal elites preying on the “good folks” of the red-states?

Really?

Good luck with that.

The Irishman (2019)… a big lie?

Set to be released this year is the Netflix produced, Martin Scorsese directed, Robert DeNiro, Al Pacino, and Joe Pesci (among many others) starring The Irishman, a mob saga that promises to be something quite grand…

I must admit, I heard of the film being made but didn’t think much of it. When I saw the trailer, though, I got excited. The Irishman looks like an old fashioned Godfather-esq type mob film, filled with betrayals and shootouts.

I had no idea about the source material, though, and didn’t know how accurate, historically, the movie would be. Yeah, Jimmy Hoffa was a character in it (played by Al Pacino), but otherwise I had no idea if this would be fiction or semi-reality or an attempt at a full biography.

Then, I stumbled upon this article by Bill Tonelli and presented on Slate.com. In it, Mr. Tonelli argues the book and confessions of one Frank Sheeran, the Irishman the movie refers to, are likely complete and total fabrication.

Read for yourself:

The Lies of the Irishman

Mr. Tonelli offers fascinating reasons to doubt Mr. Sheeran’s confessions, which made shortly before he passed away in a nursing home in 2003 and which formed the basis of the book subsequently published to much acclaim and which is the basis of the Scorsese movie.

Mr. Sheeran, among other things, claims to have been the triggerman who killed Jimmy Hoffa. His claims, however, are decidedly wild above and beyond even that one claim, though I don’t want to spoil the article by giving them away (suffice to say the book and, presumably, Mr. Sheeran’s confessions paint him out to be something like a Forrest Gump of the mob world, involved to some extent in almost every big mob activity from the early 1960’s and through the 1970’s).

Read the article if you’re interested, it paints a fascinating portrait of the man and reasons to doubt his confessions. Note, too, that the author does present the “other” side, a few people who believe Mr. Sheeran was telling the truth.

Me?

When a story sounds too good to be true…

The fact that Sheeran positioned himself in so many big mob events while it seems many in law enforcement barely knew of him, suggests either A) he was a criminal mastermind who hid his tracks expertly behind the veneer of a drunk, or B) he was a gross exaggerator who spun tall tales regarding his own involvement in unions and the mob.

The story does indeed sound a little too good to be true.

My feeling is the odds are more with option “B”.

Jury Duty… again?!?

Not quite five years ago and back in 2014 I was called in for Jury Duty. I do it, but let’s be clear: It ain’t fun to spend your day sitting around and -as has been the case in the three previous times I have done jury duty- not get called in and essentially waste your whole day.

What’s irritating is that I’m seeing myself, my wife, and my kids getting these Jury Duty notices more frequently than it seems anyone else in our circles, be they family or friends.

What gives?

Is my last name simply tagged more often? After marrying, my sisters no longer have the same last name so maybe it is something like that.

I know, I know: I shouldn’t whine. This is a civic duty. But, seriously, last time I got Jury Duty was a little less than five years ago and in all that time I haven’t seem/heard of any of my family/friends getting called in once, much less twice (and, counting my wife and daughters, four more times!).

So today was the big day. The wife and I spent Sunday morning heading downtown to see where the Court House was and where, in relation to it, the public parking was located. We needed to do this because the last Jury Duty I did was in a different location and not downtown.

I had the address of the parking lot nearest the Court House set and programmed into my car (A side note: Teslas have a truly wonderful navigation system) and this morning got up bright and early and headed out there.

The weather was good but severe rain/thunderstorms were predicted. I beat the major rush hour traffic into the city and got to the public parking closest to the Court House. I found myself a nice spot, parked, and headed down to the ground level.

So far so good.

I walked to the Court House some two/three blocks away, climbed the steps up, went through the metal detector, and was directed to the Jury waiting room on the second floor. There, my “badge” (it was part of the Jury Duty summons) was scanned and, along with the crowd there, sat down to wait.

I arrived a little before 8 A.M. and suspected we were given this hour so that stragglers would make it in before 9 A.M., when things really began in the courts. A judge eventually appeared, made sure we were American citizens and above the age of 18, then told us about the beauty of serving. It was clear, like the last time, that she knew full well no one here was happy about being in this place, yet tried to make us comfortable. Interestingly and unlike the last time I did jury duty (you can read up on that here, by the way), not once did she or anyone else working there apologize for having us here.

I was somewhat surprised by the sparse amount of people in the Jury room. Last time around there weren’t that many either but this time it seemed positively deserted, and the Jury waiting room, I believe, was smaller in this building than the other I went to last time.

When she was gone, the videos monitors showed The Greatest Showman and I settled in for a bright musical…

I hate musicals.

A little after 9 A.M, perhaps no later than 9:20, a group of jurors are selected and sent out of the room. I brought a book and my iPad but wound up spending my time reading the book.

At just a little after 10 A.M., a second group was called on. They do the calling by listing the last four digits of your Jury summons number, then calling out your name. They did apologize in advance if the pronunciation of the name wasn’t quite right.

They called one person after another, perhaps some twenty five or so people and then…

…they called me.

I was something like the third to the last person called. I put away my book and walked out of the waiting area and into the outside hallway. As I said, some three more people or so joined us and, once outside, the lady who did the initial calling appeared and said:

“I will call out your numbers now. Please announce you are present. Once you have done so, you are dismissed and may leave.”

She spoke really softly and I was at the end of the group and only caught the “dismissed and may leave” part. I had to ask her to repeat what she said.

“I will call out your number and, once you have announced you are present, you are dismissed and may leave. Tomorrow you can log on to the Jury selection website to obtain your certificate stating you have performed your Jury Duty.”

I could have cried.

For most of my life it seems I’ve been living under a dark cloud. Don’t get me wrong: A lot great things have happened to me in my life. But there are these things that happen, these burst of bad luck… it seems like I step into it more often than I wish.

Not so this time around.

The lady read off number after number and finally, toward the end, got to mine (she read off the same numbers in the same order as she did in the waiting room, so I was near the bottom in both cases). When my number was read out, I told her I was “present” and she nodded and I said “Thank you” and she said “You’re welcome” and I headed out.

Come to think of it, I think I was the only one to say that to her. The others that were called before me said they were present and spun around and left so quickly all that remained were tumbleweeds and dust.

(Lest you think otherwise, I probably did the very same!).

So in total, I was there from a little before 8 A.M. to about 10:20 A.M., two hours and twenty minutes, and my Jury Duty was done.

I can only guess today happened to be one of those days when there were few cases before the court. Perhaps most of those that were on the docket were resolved or delayed until another day. Perhaps, as we’re in the last days of summer vacation, many lawyers and judges are not around and fewer cases are being dealt with.

Given the small amount of people in the Jury waiting room to begin with and very few people I saw as I headed downstairs and back out to the street, it did look like things were very slow this day at the Court House.

I don’t know if the others in the waiting room or that first group that was called up remained behind. For all I know and while I write this in the early afternoon, they might still be there. Jury Duty, one of the announcers said, officially lasts from 8 to 5 P.M.

Perhaps the people in my group just happened to get lucky and there were simply too many people there today and we were the ones that weren’t needed.

Regardless, at least for today and for once, it looks like I wasn’t stuck under that all too familiar dark cloud.

Guardians of the GAlaxy Vol. 2 (2017) a (mildly) belated review

Back in 2014 Guardians of the Galaxy was released to theaters and was a box office mega-hit. The film was generally loved by critics and especially audiences and helped cement Marvel’s movie Empire by expanding its reach into space.

Back then, I wanted very badly to catch the film in theaters but was unable to, finally picking up the BluRay when it was released and finding… I didn’t like the film. (You can read my full review of Guardians of the Galaxy here).

In fact, re-reading the review of the original Guardians of the Galaxy I posted, if anything I was being a little too nice in describing my feelings about it. I hated the film. I hated having wasted my (and my wife’s) time watching this juvenile, silly, and incredibly un-original work.

So little did I think of the film, Dr. Strange, and Captain America: Civil War (three Marvel films which I saw in close temporal proximity) that my feelings about Marvel films took a serious nose-dive. Where once I looked forward to catching the latest Marvel films, I found myself avoiding them. To the point where I have yet to see most of the Marvel films released since this period of time such as Ant-Man and the Wasp, Black Panther, Captain Marvel, and the last two Avenger films (I have digital copies of both and intend to catch them, though!).

The other day Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, yet another of the Marvel films I was avoiding, aired on TV and I caught the first few minutes of it.

Mind you, I’m still smarting from how little I liked the original film and had no intention of seeing the sequel. Especially when I recalled upon its release GOTG Vol. 2 found more than a few of the fans of the original feeling it wasn’t as good as the first one.

If I hated the first one and fans of that film didn’t like the second quite as much, what were the odds I’d like it?!

…well…

Funny thing happened on the way to my ignoring GOTG Vol. 2. I caught the first few minutes, as I said, on TV and… I kinda liked what I saw. It was silly but pleasantly so.

Alas, I didn’t have the time to watch the whole thing in one sitting so I set the DVR and let it record the movie. I finally caught the whole thing a couple of days ago aaaaaannnnnndddddd….

Whatdoyouknow?!

I liked it!

Understand: The film isn’t “perfect” and there are some rather clunky elements in it, but overall GOTG Vol. 2 carries a more original plot than the Star Wars retread of the first film (which was a large part of the reason I didn’t like that film) with more emotional payoffs. The silly humor is still there but toned down from the overbearing nature I felt was in the first film, and the characters feel like they’re more of a part of a team and care for each other.

The plot -for those one or two people not me who haven’t seen the film- goes like this: The Guardians are contracted to protect power cells from an incoming monster. They complete their mission but Rocket Raccoon (voiced by Bradley Cooper) betrays their employers by stealing a handful of the power cells.

The Guardians are pursued and their ship crippled as they escape the wrath of their employers and crash land on a planet. It is there Peter Quill/Star Lord’s (Chris Pratt) long lost father Ego (Kurt Russell) appears and reveals he has been looking for his son for years.

With their ship nearly destroyed, Rocket is left with the young Groot and their prisoner Nebula (Karen Gillian) alone to fix the ship while Quill, Gamora (Zoe Saldana), and Drax (Dave Bautista) fly off with Ego and his companion Mantis (Pom Klementieff) to his planet while those pursuing the Guardians approach…

Shakespeare it ain’t, but then again, other than Shakespeare, what is?

The film moves along at a brisk pace and while at times very silly, plot-wise, I found the characters this time around more intriguing and the story better presented than the Star Wars retread of the first film.

So, yeah, I liked the damn thing even as I hated the first and, you know what?

That’s the way it goes.

Recommended!