The Ballad of Buster Scruggs

If you aren’t squeamish when it comes to violence on the small screen. If your sense of humor skews to the offbeat. If you’ve finished watching a series on Netflix and aren’t quite sure what to watch next, then do I have a suggestion for you: “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs.”

Brought to us by the Coen Brothers of “No Country for Old Men” and “O Brother Where Art Thou” fame, “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs” is an anthology of six short films set in the post-Civil War west in the 19th century.

Each of the stories has the feel of an O. Henry story; albeit with a good deal more blood and guts involved. I guessed the ending of the sixth tale, but only because by that point I had a feel for the twisted nature of the project.

Some big name stars added their talents to the film, including Liam Neeson, James Franco, and Tom Waits, among others. One of my favorite actors of all time, Tyne Daly, has a role in the final tale.

If I had a single complaint about “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs,” it would be that it ran a bit long. Maybe six vignettes were one too many; however, if asked, I couldn’t possibly choose any one of them to be left out.

Again, this anthology isn’t for everyone, but if you’re willing to take a walk on the wild side, give it a try.

Peace, people!

1917

Generally, Studly Doright and I are on the same page when it comes to movies. We do have our particular viewing niches, though. He tends toward movies that are big on sophomoric humor, while I enjoy science fiction more than he does. We can usually compromise, and often do the quid pro quo thing where we alternate movie choices. “I’ll watch Dumb and Dumber with you tonight if we can watch Star Wars, A New Hope, tomorrow.”

Occasionally there’ll be a movie he really wants to see that no amount of quid pro quoing will satisfy. For example, I do not like war movies. They make me furious and anxious. Okay, one could argue that many sci-fi films are nothing more than futuristic war movies, but by their very nature they are elevated above the nitty gritty of say, Saving Private Ryan, a film that haunted me for years.

Last night, though, we decided to watch 1917. I’d heard so many great things about the making of the film, and didn’t veto Studly’s choice as I normally would any other war movie.

Did it make me angry? Yes. War is an abomination. I hate the glorification of war that is part of many films. But there was none of that here. My anger wasn’t at the movie itself, but at war in general.

Did it make me anxious? Incredibly so. I almost could not breathe in certain scenes. But, I did like this film, I actually liked it more than Studly did.

The cinematography is incredible. I know nothing of movie making, but apparently the people in charge on 1917 did.

From Wikipedia: “Filming took place from April to June 2019 in the UK, with cinematographer Roger Deakins and editor Lee Smith using long takes to have the entire film appear as two continuous shots.”

Can someone explain that to me?

Peace, people!

Love Story

We discussed love songs several days ago, but what about love stories? Are you a fan of traditional love stories? Or do you lean towards less conventional fare?

I once told someone that Terminator was one of my favorite love stories, and they laughed. Kind of hurt my feelings. The saga of Sarah Connor and Kyle Reese finding love while saving the universe ignited my imagination, and made me a fan of a series that otherwise might’ve passed me by.

Of course I’ve enjoyed a few more conventional love stories, such as An Affair to Remember,

And Sleepless in Seattle,

but there’s something especially poignant about love that arises in the midst of a seemingly hopeless situation because my other top love story is that of Han Solo and Princess Leia Organa. When Han, on the verge of being encased in carbonite during The Empire Strikes Back, uttered those two little words, “I know,” in response to Leia’s profession of love, I melted.

That kiss was something special.

So maybe I am most fond of love stories wrapped inside a sci-fi movie, and not movies in which love is the main theme. How about you?

Peace and love, people!

White Christmas Remake

At the risk of sounding heretical I confess that there are many classic movies I’ve never seen in their entirety: Casablanca, The African Queen, and An Affair to Remember to name a few. And I always manage to tune into them in roughly the same spot. I’ve seen Deborah Kerr meet Cary Grant’s Italian grandmother twenty or more times, but I’ve never seen the beginning of the film.

Likewise, I somehow always tune into White Christmas when Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye and the rest of the crew are making plans to pay tribute to their former general. I had no idea how they came to perform at the Columbia Inn in Vermont, or how they met the Haynes sisters played by Rosemary Clooney and Vera-Ellen. I never knew that their former general owned the inn!

A couple of days ago, though, I tuned in just in time to watch White Christmas from the opening credits to the closing ones. I saw every song and dance number–the good ones and the mediocre.

It’s such a pretty movie with a sweet story. I began to wonder if there should be a remake. John Legend could play the Bing Crosby role. Ed Sheeran could take on Danny Kaye’s part. Lady Gaga and Beyoncé could play the parts of the Haynes sisters. Okay, maybe they wouldn’t be sisters in the remake, just a performing duo.

I’d pay money to see that from the beginning.

Now I need to tackle the rest of the movies on my list.

https://youtu.be/w9QLn7gM-hY

Peace, people.

Shazam, Shazam

One would think that a movie titled Shazam would make a certain impression upon one’s mind, and if one had paid money to see that movie, the impression would be even deeper.

I knew I’d seen it. It was a fun little movie, but wasn’t something I’d pay money to see again. Studly Doright, though, insisted that he had not seen it, even though I was fairly certain that I hadn’t seen it alone, and kept conjuring up memories from the movie to convince him.

He was adamant, though, and eager to watch Shazam while it was still in the theatre, so being the acquiescent wife I am (stop laughing!), I tagged along with Studly to a 7:15 p.m. showing.

We watched some great trailers for upcoming films. The newest installment in the Men in Black franchise looks good, and there’s one film I have to see when it’s released in August. Titled Blinded by the Light, it tells the story of a young Pakistani man whose life is transformed when a friend introduces him to the music of Bruce Springsteen.

After all the pre-movie material played, we were admonished once again to turn off our cellphones and to refrain from talking. The movie opened with a pre-teen boy riding in the back seat of a car while toying with a Magic 8 Ball. Within five seconds, Studly whispered to me, “Oh, I’ve seen this!”

I just nodded, patted him on the arm, and said, “shhhh!”

Peace, people.

The Partial Lowdown on “The Upside”

We went to see the film “The Upside,” last night, in spite of having read some negative reviews. The review that concerned me the most was the one on Rotten Tomatoes that rated it only 40% fresh. Studly Doright wanted to see the film, though, and he convinced me to tag along.

Y’all know I’m no film critic. I don’t overthink plot lines or casting choices. If a film causes me to laugh out loud or cry real tears, then I feel it’s made an impact. “The Upside” did both, more than once. Sometimes simultaneously.

Bryan Cranston, as the grumpy millionaire paraplegic, and Kevin Hart, as the street smart ex-con turned auxiliary caregiver, evolve beyond their stereotypes to form a friendship based on mutual respect. That evolution was key to the movie being more than just a slapstick comedy riddled with catheter and penis jokes. Although, to be honest, I laughed my ass off at the catheter scenes. Call me juvenile, and I’ll hit you upside the head with my rolling pin.

The movie, touted as having been based on a true story, is in actuality a remake of a French film, “The Intouchables,” based on an actual tale of a wealthy Frenchman and his personal attendant. So,”The Upside” is something of a double filtered tale. I don’t believe critics adored it either.

Regardless, “The Upside” was endearing and funny. Just hearing Studly Doright’s laughter was worth the price of admission. If you’ve seen the film, let me know what you thought.

Peace, people!

May the Fluff be with Me

In the past couple of weeks I’ve seen two fluffy movies: Crazy Rich Asians and Mamma Mia!Here We Go Again. In case you hadn’t guessed, fluffy movies are those one can watch without having to think too much, and I knew in advance what I was getting into.

I enjoyed both films, though. Fluff can be good for the soul, you know. Crazy Rich Asians made me want to visit Singapore, but only if I could travel in style, while the Mamma Mia! sequel made me yearn for a simple life on a Greek island. If someone, perhaps my fairy godmother, offered me the choice of living one of the lifestyles portrayed in these films I wouldn’t hesitate. It would be Mamma Mia! all the way.

Imagine me, dressed in denim overalls, singing ABBA songs and dancing my way over cypress dotted hills and down to a sparking blue harbor to meet the ferry, never knowing who might step off the boat that day. I’d fit in much better there than with the über wealthy crowd in Crazy Rich Asians, never knowing which gown to wear or which fork to use.

The point is moot, though, since not even a fairy godmother could convince Studly to leave Doright Manor for long. And where he goes, I go. And that’s no fluff.

Peace, (and dancing) people.

https://youtu.be/xFrGuyw1V8s

The Post, Not a Review

Studly Doright was out of town most of last week, and by noon on Wednesday I was bored. The best cure for boredom is a movie, so I took myself out to see The Post, starring Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks. I must say I’m an excellent date. I don’t order outrageously priced snacks and I don’t talk during the movie.

I’m not going to review this film other than to say “For the love of country, go see it!”

The acting is incredible and the story so timely it’ll make your heart hurt. There are journalists out there right this minute who are working their butts off to bring us the truth in the tradition of the courageous and tenacious men and women who prevailed during the Nixon years. Never forget that when trump starts calling their work “fake news.”

The film should be required viewing by every American. Peace, people.

Odds and Ends

1) Our younger cat, Patches, pooped on the rug in the guest bathroom this morning. This, in spite of having easy access to three litter boxes. We’re fairly sure it was done in spite. She and her “sister” Scout dislike each other immensely and are in constant competition for our attention. I scolded Patches and made her watch me clean up her mess. She seems somewhat chastened. We shall see.

An older photo of the cat in question.

2) The New England Patriots defeated the Jacksonville Jaguars 24-20 on Sunday. &$@#%!?!!!!.

3) Studly Doright and I met friends at the AMC movie theatre in Tallahassee on Sunday afternoon and watched Darkest Hour. Excellent film! Gary Oldman is superb as Winston Churchill. When I think of how close England came to negotiating with Hitler I get sick to my stomach. Also, I had difficulty understanding all of the dialogue. Too many years of loud rock and roll?

4) I got my days mixed up and missed a meeting of my book club on Saturday. I was so looking forward to discussing Kristen Hannah’s The Nightingale. It’s a fine book and the capitulation of France’s government to Hitler’s regime dovetailed nicely with the Churchill film.

5) I hope the Eagles prevail over the Vikings tonight, but I have yet to pick a winner this year.

6) Dinner on Sunday night was cheese, nuts, and red wine. Bohemian, right?

7) For two consecutive nights I enjoyed seven hours of sleep. Yay me!

That’s it. Another weekend in the books. Y’all have a great week.

Peace, people!

Jumanji You Say

I was spectacularly unmotivated yesterday. There was laundry to be done that I didn’t do, a closet to clean out that I left cluttered, and a blog post to write that was left unwritten. It’s a darned good thing I don’t get paid for any of the above tasks, else I’d be holding a pink slip instead of a paycheck come next Friday.

After an entire day of doing nothing except drinking coffee and petting our cats, Patches and Scout, I was on the restless side by the time Studly Doright got home from work. One might even say I was whiny.

“I’m bored!” I complained, in my best imitation of a ‘tween girl on a random summer Tuesday.

Studly countered with, “You can come out and help me work in the shop. I’ll find things for you to do.”

I huffed, “Oh, that sounds fun. Not!” I followed him outside anyway and sulked just within the realm of his peripheral vision.

“It’s too cold out here. I’m shivering. My fingers are going numb.”

Studly held up the thermometer. “It’s 62°. You’re not likely to freeze.”

I held up one of my fingers. It might have been a middle one. “See, it’s blue. And shivering.”

“If you get to work you might warm up.”

“Fine,” I sulked, still channeling my inner twelve year old. “But I’m sure I won’t warm up. The kids will find my frozen body in this shop next time they come for a visit. That’s if they ever come for a visit.”

Wisely, Studly ignored me. We worked for a bit while I grumbled under my breath, and he kept up a running commentary about some of his projects in progress. I was enjoying my role as the petulant pre-teen, so when Studly said, “That’s all we can do for now, how about we see if there’s a showing of Jumanji?”

Crossing my arms over my chest and pouting as prettily as possible, I said, “Fine. But I probably won’t like it.” Of course my smile ruined the effect, but I had to add, “I probably don’t have a thing to wear, either.”

And that’s the story of how I got Studly to take me to see Jumanji. It’s a fun movie, and given my earlier performance I could have been a character in the movie. I guess I won’t get paid for that, either.

Peace, people.