Note: This appeared in the print-only TV Guide of the Marshall Independent.
I ran into this film quite by accident on Sunday. I was pressed for time, had to have something to review and I really didn’t want to see another iteration of “The Great Gatsby.” I’ve seen the Robert Redford version, a work of genius about people I don’t give a flip about.
I knew “Home Run” was about baseball, and addiction. “42” made me care about baseball, and some people I do give a flip about are in recovery.
Well, you’re not far into the movie before you notice it’s proselytizing for Christianity and promoting Celebrate Recovery, a program run by the Saddleback Church, founded in 1980 by Pastor Rick Warren in Lake Forest, California.
Celebrate Recovery was started in 1990 by Waren and Pastor John Baker in response to the various 12-step Anonymous programs. Warren and Baker have a similar approach but differ on two points. One, they bring all addictive behaviors, “hurts, habits, and hang-ups” under one roof.
And, they felt the AA reference to a “higher power” was too vague and specifically center their reliance on Jesus Christ.
So aside from the message and Frank Capra’s advice to use Western Union if you’ve got one, how does it stack up as entertainment.
Not bad actually, but it can make you more than a bit uncomfortable in spots.
Cory Brand (Scott Elrod) is a major league baseball player with a drinking problem. After publicly screwing up one too many times, accidentally bloodying
Carlos the batboy’s nose (Juan Martinez) while throwing a tantrum, his agent Helene (Vivica A. Fox) sends him home to Okmulgee, Oklahoma to 1) do conspicuous good works, and 2) get into a 12-step program. CR is the only one he can find.
On the way home he crashes a car while tanked to the gills, putting his brother Clay (James Devoti) in the hospital in the process. Which fortuitously gives him the opportunity for well-publicized good works – taking over as coach for the Little League team.
First complication, the batboy plays on the team and is his brother’s adopted son.
Second complication, another coach Emma Johnson (Dorian Brown), is the high school sweetheart he abandoned 10 years before when she got pregnant.
Third complication, their son Tyler (Charles henry Wyson) is on the team and doesn’t know his idol is his father.
The movie starts with a flashback. A bucolic farm scene segues into Cory’s abusive alcoholic father making him practice batting. Dad was a player who never made it past the minor leagues.
Flash forward. Cory is a seriously unlikable person. He’s got the manners, morals and habits of a spoiled six-year-old. He screws up everything for himself, the people who care for him, and won’t acknowledge any responsibility for it.
Watching him can make you squirm in your seat. They’ve got addictive behavior down.
He’s got just two things going for him. One is that he can really hit a ball. The other it turns out, is he has a real gift for coaching kids.
Of course the film is about his literal come-to-Jesus moment, brought about by a combination of things. One of them is learning the sister-in-law (Nicole Leigh) he’d contemptuously dismissed as having no problems greater than a clogged sink, had a childhood rough enough to make him ashamed of his whining. They show this with a brilliantly simple visual involving no special effects magic.
Drawbacks. This is a film about addiction, which they attribute to childhood trauma passed down through generations. But lots more people have rotten childhoods than ever become addicts to substances or self-destructive behavior.
Conversely, lots of addicts have nothing to complain about in their childhoods.
Trauma, especially young no doubt contributes to addictions, but there are other issues as well. Is there such a thing as an addictive personality? If so, is it biochemical in nature, and more to the point is it hereditary?
Is Cory a lush because his dad was abusive, or were they both lushes and prone to be mean when drunk because of their heredity?
And here’s where it gets very interesting. The open profession of faith makes a lot of people uncomfortable these days, but the fact is faith-based programs have comparatively high success rates. If addiction is a biochemical weakness, the “self-medication theory,” then what if living with it involves strong, single-minded belief in… something.
If religion isn’t something you go to the movies for, this isn’t your cup of tea. If you have dealt with addiction, of know someone who has, it might be interesting.
What’s also interesting is, for an indy movie with competent acting and good visual composition, it cost only $1.2 million to make. Which it made back with change its opening weekend.
I started out last Monday writing my weekly movie review when a report of terrorist activity in Montevideo, Minnesota landed on my desk.
The FBI press release had it that someone named Buford “Bucky” Rogers had been arrested in a raid on his parent’s trailer home on Friday. The FBI claimed they’d seized lots of guns, including a Romanian AKM assault rifle, Molotov cocktails and pipe bombs.
It’s a bit outside of our coverage area but it seemed serious, so up I went and spent most of the day in the trailer park outside of town, talking to the Rogers family, a.k.a. “The Black Snake Militia” and their neighbors, and watching the TV news people from as far away as Minneapolis and Sioux Falls come and go.
Since then I’ve caught the news reports of the terrorist plot as it’s gone national. The FBI claims they’ve saved Lord knows how many lives.
It’s all bull$#!+ and a lot of so-called journalists should be thoroughly ashamed of themselves!
The “terrorists” are father Jeff Rogers, a man four years younger than I am who looks 20 years older. He’s wheezy, out of shape, and had open heart surgery not long ago. His son Shawn is 17, though neighbors told me they guessed his age at 13-14, which should give you an idea how dangerous he looks. As it turns out Bucky doesn’t live there but with his girlfriend and their 10-month-old baby in town, which is actually where he was arrested.
These people aren’t terrorists. They’re dumb as stumps, nutty as fruitcakes – but probably harmless.
The talking heads pointed their cameras at the family, asked a few questions – and sat back and watched them rave about implanted microchips and their “militia.” Because everybody wants to be a movie star, and this was likely the most attention they’d gotten in their lives.
But they’ve got guns!
All of them legal and registered to Jeff. A sizable collection but no bigger than those of friends of mine who include teachers, county commissioners, farmers, and cops.
They wear camouflage!
For God’s sake, cammie is the right-wing equivalent of “Che” T-shirts and “Mao” paraphernalia. “Look at me! I’m wearing the battle dress of a military I don’t remotely qualify to join.”
Nobody gets upset when college students parade around campus wearing the faces of mass murderers on their shirts. Nobody cries “racist” that one was the greatest murderer of Hispanics in the 20th century.
Why the hell aren’t journalists asking intelligent questions?
If the FBI found bombs in the trailer home – why aren’t the Rogers family in custody? According to Jeff, they weren’t even mirandized.
Molotov cocktails? That’s an incendiary made by filling a bottle with gasoline and stuffing a rag in the neck for a fuse.
Nobody stores Molotov cocktails! They keep cans of gas, rags, and bottles around and assemble them as needed!
Shawn Rogers said the FBI carted off a box of scrap plumbing pipe. I believe him, The Rogers seem to eek out Jeff’s disability pension by collecting and selling scrap. I got Jeff Rogers to open the “bomb factory” shed – it’s a junk heap!
Some reports more cautiously said they had “bomb making materials” in their house.
That I believe. But then again, so do I – and so do you. Between your kitchen and your bathroom you have the ingredients for at least two high explosives which I won’t name, but they go off at a harsh look. Everybody is one chemistry lesson away from a bomb.
Bucky Rogers I haven’t met. Word from people in the school system is he was a trouble maker but not scary in school, but his little brother is rather liked by his teachers.
Bucky was on probation for burglary, but didn’t do time. He mouthed off a lot on Facebook in ways that could be seen as threats. The FBI said he admitted after a Miranda warning to firing his father’s AKM at a gun range.
Gotcha! Probation violation – which is what he’s been charged with so far. So why hasn’t he been charged with making terroristic threats?
Bucky’s parole officer might have taken him aside and told him to dial the nutty stuff down until he was off probation.
Instead the FBI swooped down on Montevideo, roped in several local law enforcement agencies, and when the FBI show up in your office you don’t say “No thanks.” They staged a major operation at considerable expense which I seriously doubt the local law will ever get reimbursed for.
Many readers I’ve talked to are quite sensibly skeptical about the sensationalist news reports. Good on you! The county sheriff has been admirably restrained and rather noncommittal in his public statements. The FBI is often disliked among local law enforcement agencies, but it is not wise to antagonize them.
But why all the commotion? Not to mention the expense.
If I were a right-wing conspiracy nut, I’d suspect that in the aftermath of the Boston bombing the PC Patrol is desperately searching for terrorists who aren’t Muslims. The Rogers are the people America has been taught to fear – white, redneck gun nuts.
But since I’m a cynic I have to wonder if the FBI affidavit didn’t give it away. The agent who signed it said he’d been at the Minneapolis office since he graduated from the academy in 1999. If I had to guess, I’d wonder if someone is tired of being stuck out in the boonies and sees a big score that’ll get him back to the bright lights in the big city.
Note: This is the self-syndicated column I submitted to my subscriber(s) for this week. I usually wait a while before posting on my blog to give the print-only outlets a head start. Currently this is re-posted on the websites of rural newspapers in a five-state area in the upper midwest.
I am expecting the compost to hit the thresher over this one. We’ll see, and stay tuned for part 2.
Note: This is my weekly op-ed.
“What are you talking about?” (I hear you say.) “All we do is argue these days. About gun control, abortion, Obamacare…”
No, we don’t argue about these things at all. Or at best, only one side argues.
“What? Doesn’t it take two to argue? Or fight, make up, or tango?”
Let me back up a bit.
I’m using “argument” in the formal sense used in logic. You have a set of statements, one of which is the conclusion. You’re claiming if all the other statements are true, the conclusion has to be true.
I thought of this a few nights ago when a teacher friend of mine was venting about an exchange he had in the teachers’ lounge.
The issue was gun control legislation, but it could have been anything.
What frustrated him was another teacher making assertions about what he should or should not be legally allowed to have, based on feelings, uninformed opinions, and flat-out assertions of what is or isn’t freedom.
“Is this what passes for argument among these people?” he said.
I’ve run into the exact same phenomenon. And what’s worrisome is, an awful lot among academics. You know, those people who are preparing our children to deal with the world?
I have an acquaintance I’ve known for well over 30 years who teaches history in an eastern college.
He vents a lot on Facebook, and recently something struck me.
In more than 30 years I have never heard him construct an argument. What he does is attack the sources he disagrees with. Sometimes he asserts dark and shady secrets in their past, having nothing to do with their opinions or positions. But lately it’s been simple name-calling: “idiots,” “fools” etc.
I hear this a lot, from a lot of different people. What passes as argument takes the form of an attack, not on the opinion but the person holding the opinion.
In formal logic this is called the ad hominem (“to the man”) fallacy, and can take few different forms.
The one I see quite often in political arguments starts with assuming the conclusion, then claiming if you disagree you are a terrible person.
I’ll use the example of Obamacare. If you are in favor of Obamacare, please remember I’m criticizing what passes for the argument – not the conclusion. That’s the first elementary mistake students make in freshman logic.
“Obamacare will bring down medical costs and make health insurance available to all the uninsured people. People against Obamacare want medical costs to go higher and poor people to have no insurance. That’s because right-wingers are heartless.”
Hold it! Agree or disagree, the argument is not that the claimed benefits are undesirable, but that Obamacare won’t produce them. That it will in fact drive costs higher and make medical care less available.
Secondly, it asserts an ulterior motive for holding a contrary opinion. (The argumentum ad hominem circumstantial.)
May I point out that motive is one thing we cannot know for sure, because it resides in people’s heads, and is what we are most likely to lie about, even to ourselves.
I believe that this inability to argue is more common on the left, though certainly not unknown on the right.
Why? For one, the so-called “conservative” movement is more intellectually diverse than what’s called “liberalism.” (I put liberalism in quotes because I’m old enough to remember when “liberal” meant something far closer to some kinds of conservatism these days, as it still does in Europe.)
Conservatism is in fact at least three or four “movements” in a loose alliance. The opposite ends of that alliance, libertarians and social conservatives positively loathe each other. Consequently, they argue a lot.
For another, establishment liberalism dominates media and the social sciences and humanities in universities.
The result is, right-wingers have to defend their opinion a lot more often than left-wingers, even among themselves. Left-wingers spend most of their time with people who agree with them.
They don’t learn to argue, because they don’t get their daily exercise defending their position.
An old journalist, Frank Meyer once said, “We find comfort among those we agree with, growth among those we disagree with.”
Yesterday, May 1, I saw a Facebook post by an academic I’ve known for… a long time. He teaches history in an east coast college and advertises himself as a “labor historian.”
He, or somebody, had filched the classic “We can do it!” WWII poster of a working woman flexing her bicep and appropriated it to promote International Workers’ Day. He urged everyone to “honor labor.”
Just because I get intensely irritated by the kind of intellectuals and academics who would do anything for the working class – except join it, I left a comment.
I said, “Good idea! How about everyone honor labor by listing all the jobs we’ve done that involved demanding physical labor. Mine are: waiter/bartender, garbageman, framing carpenter, bucking hay in season, sewage treatment plant operator, and in between journalism gigs I drove a grain truck for harvest.”
At any rate, I got curious and looked up a few things about the date. For one, nobody remembers but April 30- May 1 is the ancient Celtic festival of Beltane that used to mark the beginning of summer. Great bonfires were built and cattle driven between them to be purified by the smoke. Everyone would douse their house fires and relight them from the sacred bonfires.
In the 19th century May 1 was promoted by socialists (my academic acquaintance is a socialist), communists, syndicalists, and anarchists as a day to honor labor. The day was chosen to commemorate the date of the Haymarket Square bombing in Chicago in 1886. (Which actually happened on May 4, I don’t know why the date was changed to the first.)
During a demonstration a bomb was thrown at police by person or persons unknown, killing seven of them. The police returned fired on the crowd, killing four.
In the aftermath, eight radicals were tried, four executed and one apparently committed suicide in his cell in a particularly grisly fashion with explosives.
For well over a century this was considered the judicial murder of innocent people for the crime of having unpopular opinions, until historian Timothy Messer-Kruse dug up an awful lot of evidence that seems to show that the trial was quite fair by the standards of the time, and if any innocent people were executed, it was because their lawyers were more interested in making points than oh, say preparing a defense. You know, that thing lawyers are supposed to do?
At any rate, eight years later in the aftermath of the Pullman Strike of 1894, President Grover Cleveland signed the bill declaring the first Monday in September Labor Day, unofficially marking the end of summer. The date was chosen specifically to avoid any association with May 1.
Nonetheless May 1 remains a labor holiday in over 80 countries world-wide.
Not surprising, she used to write for MAD Magazine back when it was still good, and is the author of “The Dysfunctional Family Christmas Songbook.”
She’s also “the worst mother in the world” according to quite a few people a few years back after she let her 9-year-old son go home alone from midtown Manhattan on the subway.
Aside from her column, which you can find over at creators.com under “liberal opinion” she has a blog “Free Range Kids.”
And Skenazy authored a book for parents, “Free-Range Kids, How to Raise Safe, Self-Reliant Children (Without Going Nuts with Worry).”
Skenazy explained the origin of the Free Range Kids movement on her blog:
“Somehow, a whole lot of parents are just convinced that nothing outside the home is safe. At the same time, they’re also convinced that their children are helpless to fend for themselves. While most of these parents walked to school as kids, or hiked the woods — or even took public transportation — they can’t imagine their own offspring doing the same thing.
They have lost confidence in everything: Their neighborhood. Their kids. And their own ability to teach their children how to get by in the world. As a result, they batten down the hatches.”
I have to confess, I’ve shared these fears. I’m a single dad raising two kids. My son is eleven and a moose so I don’t worry two much about him. But my daughter is six and just entirely too bold for my peace of mind sometimes. She insists her brother does not need to walk her home from school (all of three blocks).
OK, I’m good with that. But the other day she went and crossed a busy street by herself…
I have to remind myself when I was six I walked to and from school every day in Castro Valley, California. There were two ways. I could either go down the street, round a corner and walk up the street, a distance that was probably at least a half-mile.
Or I could take a short cut up a hill and across a cow pasture.
I try to remind myself of that every time my heart starts pounding and my breathing gets rapid.
There’s a term for parents with unrealistic fears and uncontrollable anxiety about their children, “helicopter parent.” It goes waaaaay beyond a healthy concern for our kids’ welfare to the land of Phobia. And unfortunately it’s institutionalized in our schools due to our lawsuit culture, and yes a lot of sensationalist journalism.
Lenore has the cure, and one could do worse than have a look at her blog.
Note: This appeared in the print-only TV Guide of the Marshall Independent.
Then out spake brave Horatius, the Captain of the Gate:
“To every man upon this earth, death cometh soon or late;
And how can man die better than facing fearful odds,
For the ashes of his fathers, and the temples of his Gods,
“Horatius at the Bridge” by Thomas Babington, Lord Macaulay
Don’t worry, it’s good and I’m going to recommend it. I have a weakness for movies that use good poetry as crucial plot elements.
But I’m also going to vent about a nonsensical plot element.
“Oblivion” is visually beautiful and tautly-paced as it moves through a set of revelations that All Is Not What It Seems. Revelations that always kept a step ahead of me, and I’ve read a lot of science fiction.
The movie is based on an eight-page treatment for a graphic novel, written by Joseph Kosinski who also directed.
Kosinski previously directed only “Tron: Legacy,” a short feature and some commercials. His background is in architecture and it shows. I REALLY want a tower house like he designed for the film.
The casting is as minimalist as the decor of the living quarters. There are seven actors with speaking parts, only four of whom have more than a few lines of dialog.
In the year 2077 Commander Jack Harper (Tom Cruise) and his partner and lover Victoria Olsen (Andrea Riseborough) are two of the last people on Earth, or so they believe. They live in a tower house high above an earth ravaged by an alien invasion. Humanity won the war, but the Moon was destroyed and Earth so damaged the survivors are moving to Titan, a moon of Saturn. Or so it seems.
Gigantic machines are pumping the oceans into the sky to make Titan habitable, or so it seems. Jack’s job is to fly around in a very cool craft repairing robot drones that keep the last of the “scavs,” machines left by the alien invaders, from sabotaging the strip mining of Earth. Victoria stays home as ground control, and communicates with Sally (Melissa Leo) at Mission Control on the orbiting Tet, a gigantic spacecraft that will eventually carry the survivors to Titan. Or so it seems.
Jack and Victoria have been given mandatory memory wipes, for security purposes. But Jack has been having dreams of a beautiful woman who seems to be part of his past on Earth before the war.
You can guess he’s going to find her, and he does, in suspended animation in the wreckage of a crashed spaceship. Jack saves her after the drones kill all the other survivors.
Her name is Julia (Olga Kurylenko) and when he revives her, she looks at him and says, “Jack.”
The film moves very quickly from there, in ways of course I can’t tell you.
There are other survivors. The mission is not what it seems. Jack is not what he seems.
There is some good stuff in here that raises questions about what it means to be human, and what the price of knowledge is. Jack realizes what he thinks he knows doesn’t jibe with what he sees, and is determined to find out what is real.
That’s where “Horatius” comes in. He finds a copy of “Lays of Ancient Rome” in the ruins of a building and reads the verse that presages his fate.
Victoria ultimately does not want to know. She wants to cling to her comforting illusion, and in the end Jack cannot save her.
Between them stands Julia, and what she means to Jack’s past.
Kurylenko’s role in the film is so crucial it’s a bit surprising to realize how little dialog she has. With Kurylenko you don’t really care, she had a major part in one movie where she played a mute (“Centurion” 2010), and makes overalls look like haute couture.
Morgan Freeman as Malcolm Beech, leader of the last survivors on Earth, is in only three scenes but the whole outcome hinges on his part.
There are some nice touches, such as the question Sally ends every communication with, “Are you still an effective team?”
You don’t realize the importance of that question until the answer is, “No.”
There are some cute allusions, loving tributes to the SciFi movie genre and of course who could miss Tetris.
They’ve even managed to end with both heroic sacrifice and a happy ending.
Now my personal kvetch. Oceans of ice are available essentially free in the cometary belt and ice moons of Saturn, minerals in the asteroid belt. There is no conceivable reason for aliens to go deep into Earth’s gravity well for either.
Guys could you please use your imagination and come up with a plausible excuse for aliens to invade the earth? I bet it would generate some pretty neat story ideas too.
Note: This is my weekly op-ed column.
Tamerlan Tsarnaev is dead and his brother Dzhokhar is in custody, which is the way it ought to be by rights. Yet there are people unhappy about it.
The two brothers were from Chechnya, a majority Muslim territory in the Caucasus, occupied but never completely subdued by Russia since 1834. After the breakup of the Soviet Union the Chechens attempted to win back their independence, a rebellion that was broken with Soviet-style brutality.
Chechnya has been on my radar for a while, since I was living in the former Soviet Bloc countries during the First and Second Chechen Wars. Polish friends of mine were involved in projects to take humanitarian supplies overland to the Chechen resistance leader Dzhokhar Dudayev, before he was killed by the Russians.
The brothers were taken in by the United States as refugees, nurtured, accepted, and educated by this marvelously diverse, tolerant, and welcoming country.
They repaid us by murdering a little boy and two young women, one a guest in our country who was deserving of its protection. They maimed dozens more, then killed a cop and wounded another as they sought to flee.
From the beginning a number of us thought this was most likely the work of Muslim jihadists, though the more responsible waited for more definite indications.
Usually when the terrorism comes from any of the jihadist organizations gathered under the loose coordinating group called Al-Queda there is a claim of responsibility after a short period.
That there wasn’t an announcement wasn’t surprising though. More murders and attempted murders than we are comfortable acknowledging are perpetrated by
Muslims who’ve been living in this country for some time before they explode in what scholar Daniel Pipes labeled “Sudden Jihad Syndrome.”
In these cases we usually find a pattern of radicalization of alienated immigrants fostered by Islamic centers run by jihadist sympathizers, sometimes online as in the case of Major Nidal Hassan, the Ft. Hood murderer.
This presents problems to deal with in terms of immigration policy, police surveillance, etc.
But we can handle it. The response of the people of Boston, the people of America, and friends abroad has been magnificent.
There are reports of runners knocked down by the blast who picked themselves up and staggered over the finish line. Bystanders obeyed their first impulse after the blasts and ran, not away but towards those they saw needed help.
The Boston Red Socks traditionally play “Sweet Caroline” in the middle of the eighth inning. Neil Diamond showed up at Fenway Park and asked to sing it in person.
Runners in the London marathon observed a moment of silence before the beginning of the race, many wore black ribbons.
“We will join together in silence to remember our friends and colleagues for whom a day of joy turned into a day of sadness,” said the announcer. “Let us now show our respect and support for the victims of the tragedy in Boston.”
And something I find both ironic and inspiring, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was treated in Beth Israel Hospital by medical personnel he would have cheerfully murdered.
And then there’s these statements by various prominent journalists in the aftermath of the bombing.
“…if you care about everything from stopping war to reducing the defense budget to protecting civil liberties to passing immigration reform, you should hope the bomber was a white domestic terrorist.” David Sirota, in Salon online magazine
“Normally, domestic terrorist people tend to be on the far right, although that’s not a good category. Extremists, let’s call them that.” Chris Matthews, MSNBC.
“Obviously, nobody knows anything yet, but I would caution folks jumping to conclusions about foreign terrorism to remember that this is the official Patriots Day holiday in Massachusetts, celebrating the Battles at Lexington and Concord…” Charles P. Pierce, Esquire.
“The thinking, as we have been reporting, is that this is a domestic extremist attack. Officials are leaning that way largely because of the timing of the attack. April is a big month for anti-government and right-wing individuals. There’s the Columbine anniversary, there’s Hitler’s birthday, there’s the Oklahoma City bombing, the assault on the Branch Davidian compound in Waco.” Dina Temple-Raston, National Public Radio “counterterrorism correspondent.”
You can find this kind of stuff all over, though many posts are being deleted as fast as possible, along with vicious personal attacks on anyone who first suggested this might be the work of Islamic jihadists.
What kind of people openly prefer to believe that a murderous attack on our country was perpetuated by their own countrymen, make that their first assumption, cling to it as long as possible, and refuse to apologize when proven wrong?
Note: Cross-posted on my professional blog at the Marshall Independent.
Darn it! Another case of Celebrities Behaving Badly, and this time with one I kind of liked.
Reese Witherspoon and her husband Jim Toth were arrested and very briefly held in Atlanta, he for alleged DUI and she for allegedly disobeying the police officer’s instruction to remain in her vehicle during the traffic stop.
Instead she allegedly got out and said, “Do you know my name?”
When he officer answered, “No, I don’t need to know your name.”
Witherspoon replied, “You’re about to find out who I am … You are going to be on national news.”
The lady has since publicly apologized, saying, “Clearly I had one to many to drink,” and that she was “deeply embarrassed.”
Well, she should be. The apology was well made, but that “Don’t you know who I am?” attitude rankles.
You’re a person Reese, a citizen of the United States just like the rest of us. Entitled to all of the same constitutional protections against unreasonable search and seizure, arbitrary arrest, right to remain silent (which I bet you’re wishing you’d exercised now) etc.
But no more!
This is America, we’re not suppose to have privileged classes here.
Yes I know, there are people who act like they are, and too durned often they get away with it. But that’s not the way it’s supposed to work and where do you get off copping an attitude like it should work that way for you?
That order to stay in the car was for your benefit! Routine traffic stops are one of the two situations cops most often get killed in. The other is domestic disturbance calls. If hubby was being belligerent as alleged, that cop was likely getting nervous.
And how’d you get that notion you’re entitled to special treatment from the law anyway? Your dad was a military doctor just like mine, not Hollywood royalty. You grew up in the South, not Beverly Hills.
Sure you’ve been a model since you were seven years old, and now a movie star and producer.
But didn’t somebody named Reese Witherspoon once say, “I just don’t see any of it as that remarkable. Maybe that’s the attitude I choose to have to keep me sane and keep my feet on the ground.”
You ought to listen to that gal.
Note: This appeared in the print-only TV Guide of the Marshall Independent.
According to Entertainment Weekly, “42” made Hollywood history with the highest-grossing premier of any baseball-themed movie. Which is true but almost beside the point. It’s not just about baseball, it’s about honor.
It’s about men doing the right thing at a time when it was unpopular and dangerous to do so.
It’s good for people dissatisfied with current progress towards universal equality to remember things were once a lot worse. And it’s good for those so proud of conspicuously having all the correct attitudes to remember there was a time when wearing those convictions on your sleeve carried a price.
“42” is the story of Jackie Robinson’s first season with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1946-47, that broke the color line in baseball. The number was Robinson’s, and the only number to be retired by all of baseball.
The movie, like baseball, has a star but it’s about a team.
Branch Rickey (Harrison Ford) president and general manager of the Dodgers, wants to break the color line. Because he’s deeply offended by the stain of racism on the game he loves passionately. Because he’s been carrying the humiliation for years of not having done enough for a black man who was his friend.
And because he sees a tremendous opportunity in the huge number of black baseball fans and the chance to have first pick from an untapped reservoir of talent.
There’s an important point there. It’s good when people start to realize something is wrong, better when people realize it’s not only wrong but unprofitable.
Rickey needs just the right player, an extraordinary athlete but one who can keep his temper under the worst provocation.
He finds him in Jackie Robinson (Chadwick Boseman). Robinson plays baseball, football, basketball, and even tennis well. He’s intelligent, articulate, and high-spirited. That last characteristic having gotten him a court-martial in the Army when he refused to move to the back of a bus.
Rickey tells him he’s going to have to watch that.
“Are you looking for a Negro who is afraid to fight back?” Robinson asks.
“No,’ Rickey replies, “I’m looking for a negro with guts enough not to fight back.”
And it takes guts for sure. The film does a great job through a series of scenes showing the daily casual humilitation Robinson and his new bride Rachel (Nicole Beharie) have to put up with. And for a while it only gets worse, mounting in viciousness as Robinson goes through training and then takes the field with the Dodgers.
But they also have a lot of support from friends like African-American sports reporter Wendell Smith (Andre Holland) and a redneck-looking workman who approaches them, initially terrifying Rachel.
“I want to tell you something,” he says. “I want to tell you I’m behind you, a lot of us are. I figure if a man’s got the goods he ought to have a chance.”
And that’s what “42” is all about. There is no affirmative action in sports. A player has the goods or he doesn’t, and there’s no excuse for failure and no hiding ability.
Robinson had it, and once he got on the field there was no denying it.
“I do not care if the guy is yellow or black, or if he has stripes like a ****n’ zebra. I’m the manager of this team, and I say he plays. What’s more, I say he can make us all rich. And if any of you cannot use the money, I will see that you are all traded,” says Leo “Nice guys finish last” Durocher (Christopher Meloni).
And therein lies the point about discrimination, and honor.
Any man of honor will be offended by discrimination. Because if you don’t give a man a chance, you’re never going to be sure you’ve deserved your accomplishments, or got them because somebody else was denied the chance.
“If he can take my job, he’s entitled to it,” says shortstop Pee Wee Reese (Lucas Black).
Reese has something to prove by standing up for Robinson publicly in front of his Southern relatives. This is brilliant shown in a scene where a young boy who is starting to pick up on the detestable behavior of the grownups around him – until Reese walks over to Robinson and puts his arm around him before a game.
Many who stood up for Robinson were Southerners, and some of the worst bigots were Yankees, and thank y’all most kindly for making that point.
“42” makes all these points and more, but doesn’t hit you over the head with them. If there’s anything at all to be regretted it’s that you don’t see more about some extraordinary people, but it might just inspire you to learn more about Rachel Isum Robinson, Reese, and how people like Dixie Walker (Ryan Merriman) eventually changed and grew.
Noe: This appeared in the print-only TV Guide of The Marshall Independent.
There are great movies, good movies, bad movies, and awful movies. Then there’s movies like “The Host” which are just kind of blah.
The movie is based on the book by Stephanie Meyer, a writer of great wealth and surpassing awfulness who makes every writer who can string a coherent set of sentences together wonder why he’s reviewing this swill instead of writing it?
“The Host” lies within the alien possession sub-genre of science fiction. A theme which has been explored in literature by no lesser lights than Robert A. Heinlein (“The Puppet Masters”) and John D. MacDonald (“WIne of the Dreamers”), and in classic SciFi movies such as “The Brain from Planet Arous” (1957) and “The Hidden” (1987). It was an important plot element in the “Babylon 5” series and the “Stargate” universe.
The movie opens after an alien race who call themselves “Souls” have invaded Earth and taken possession of almost everybody. Almost.
A few feral humans have managed to hide out including Melanie Stryder (Saoirse Ronan), her brother Jamie (Chandler Canterbury) and her boyfriend Jared Howe (Max Irons).
While on a food scavenging expedition Melanie is found out and jumps out of a high window, determined to die rather than be possessed by the Souls.
No such luck. She survives, is healed, and her body given to a soul who calls itself Wanderer.
Alien possession in fiction is typically done by an organic being who attaches itself to a host externally or internally, an incorporeal alien much like demonic possession, or a corporeal alien with technological aid such as an implanted chip.
The Souls are corporeal aliens resembling bioluminescent jellyfish who enter the host through a surgical incision at the base of the skull. The logistics of how most of the human race got strapped down and operated on in this manner is unexplained.
Once in control a Soul suppresses the consciousness of its host, makes their eyes glow, and gives them an uncontrollable desire to dress all in white and drive cars with a mirror finish.
Except sometimes a host won’t go to sleep. Wanderer wakes up in Melanie’s body with Melanie screaming inside her head to get the hell out of her.
This conflict is noticed by a Soul named Seeker (Diane Kruger) who helpfully suggests a change of bodies, after which Melanie will be… disposed of.
Melanie half-convinces half-fools Wanderer to go on the lam looking for other wild humans, and winds up prisoner of a band which includes her brother, boyfriend, and Uncle Jeb (William Hurt).
Here Meyer attempted to introduce some interesting and original plot twists on the classic theme. And blew it.
One is that the Souls think they’re doing good. Humans are violent Melanie/Wanderer explains. The Souls brought peace to the Earth.
“They have made a desert, and they call it peace,” Gaius Cornelius Tacitus once said about the Roman Empire.
Another is that Wanderer develops feelings for a member of the band Ian O’Shea (Jake Abel), while Melanie within is pining for Jared.
Well, maybe an entity possessing a human body might experience all the hormonal urges of the flesh it possesses, but what explains Ian reciprocating Wanderer’s affections? That’s a thousand-year-old alien inside that pretty girl you’re talking to Dude!
By now, some Souls are beginning to question the rightfulness of their occupation. Wanderer switches sides, convinces the humans that Melanie is still awake inside her and starts helping them survive and fight back.
So after having possessed involuntary hosts on seven planets it finally occurred to Wanderer that taking somebody else’s body might be… you know, wrong?
Melanie warms to Wanderer and starts to think of their relationship as more symbiotic than parasitic. An idea lifted from F. Paul Wilson’s “Healer.”
Stockholm Syndrome anyone? Melanie or Wanderer?
Wanderer proves she’s on the level by teaching the humans how to remove a Soul without killing the host, first making them promise they won’t kill the Souls but put them back in their clamshell-sized spaceships and send them away.
So let me get this straight. You come to our world uninvited, possess our bodies and suppress our consciousness, and we’re supposed to give a damn whether you live or die?
Furthermore you want us to send you off to be somebody else’s problem, somebodies who never bothered us? And what does that make us?
There is much that could have been done with this. The cast is first-rate, the set design attractive, and there are good ideas to play with. My six-year-old daughter was very taken with the idea of having a friend inside your head.
The reason it doesn’t gell is like so many other failed flicks, lies in the writing. The least expensive part of the production.