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Sick Days

I survived my bout with whatever bug was ravaging my body this week. I went back to work Thursday. Since all I do at work is sit in front of a computer, I only need a clear mind, not a strong body. And with the fever gone, my mind was clear. My body can just catch up while I’m productive.

Sick days ain’t as fun as I remember they used to be. I remember sitting on the couch, watching TV, taking naps, and generally relaxing on sick days. This time, though, my sick days sucked.

I spent most hours of the day in misery. But even for those few hours, (in the morning), when my temperature dipped down below the delirious level, I was too freakin’ exhausted from the high-fever tossing and turning and trembling and not sleeping to do anything rambunctious like getting out of bed and walking down the stairs to the couch and big TV. Hell, it was an effort to lay in bed and click the remote for the little* TV in our bedroom.

There was nothing of any interest to me on TV during the day, anyway. I swear, cable gives us hundreds of channels, (of which I only ever tune into maybe a half dozen over a month’s time), but I ended up spending a couple hours in a row literally just surfing through the channels, maybe stopping on one for just long enough to determine, no, this show ain’t actually going to get interesting.

On Wednesday, Calfgrit10 stayed home from school because he said he wasn’t feeling good. We immediately thought he might have picked up whatever I had, (we’re a sharing family), but he never actually got real sick. And I was just starting to move into recovery from my nasty bug. So while Calfgrit6 went to school, (as “unfair” as he said it was), and Cowgrit did her volunteer thing at the school, my oldest boy and I were left to our own pathetic devices.

It shows just how tired and worn out I was that my first thought wasn’t that we could sit and watch some movies together that day. It took a few hours, nigh on to lunch time before the idea came to me. When the light bulb did go off above my head, I started mentally going through the list of my** movies I had tucked back in the TV cabinet.

There are several in my stash that immediately jump right out at me as obvious, and that I definitely want to watch with my boys, (Spaceballs, Ghostbusters, Aliens, Hawk the Slayer). But then I remembered a set of John Wayne DVDs that I recently brought home from my dad’s house. My dad and I were both big fans of The Duke, and we used to love watching his Westerns together. I decided this might be a fun tradition to introduce to Calfgrit10, who had never before seen a Western. And this sick day together is the only extended period of time we’ve had with each other, (without the littler boy), since he’s become old enough to watch with me. So I pulled out The Sons of Katie Elder.

To be continued. . .


* “Little” — my how times (technology, economics) change. Our bedroom TV is a 26″ flatscreen up on top of the chest-o-drawers. When I was young, if we had a TV at all in a bedroom, it would have been a 12″ black and white CRT, (with NO REMOTE!).

** “My” — My movies are a collection of the really cool stuff that Calfgrit6 isn’t yet old enough for, Calfgrit10 hasn’t had time with me without his little brother to see, and Cowgrit doesn’t at all care about. These are separate from the family movies that Cowgrit exclusively picks out.

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True Grit

Viewed: Theater

I love the Western genre — books and movies. I always have. I’ve read more Louis L’amour books than I can count. One of the first DVDs I ever bought was The Magnificent Seven.

The last modern Hollywood Western I saw was 3:10 to Yuma, and I was not impressed. I’ve seen the first True Grit film one and a half times, and I was not impressed with it, either. But there were parts in the first TG that I thought had great potential for epic awesome.

This latest film is not a remake of the first film, it’s an new adaption of the original book. Now, I haven’t read the book — I only recently learned True Grit was first a book — so my opinion of the film is solely based on the films themselves.

This new True Grit film, I absolutely love! This movie reached the epic awesome that the first tried for.

The first thing that awed me about it was the language. The prose with vocabulary just makes my brain all warm and fuzzy.

The acting is top notch. Jeff Bridges is perfect for the role of Rooster Cogburn. I dare say hes a better Rooster than John Wayne was — and I love The Duke. And Hailee Steinfeld gives a fantastic performance as Maddie Ross.

The cinematography is amazing. One of the things I love about Westerns is the wide openness of the frontier. This movie presents that scenescape enough to make an agoraphobic fitful.

The only issues I have with the movie are things that I understand actually come from the book, the source material. Like Tom Chaney instructing Maddie to cock her pistol fully. That kind of thing jolts me — why in the hell would you tell someone how to cock the gun they’ve got aimed at you? But since the whole plot doesn’t rely on these kinds of little quirks, I can get over them quickly and keep in the story.

Overall, this is a great movie. I’ll buy it on DVD when it comes out, and I’ll keep it on my shelf between The Magnificent Seven and Open Range.

During the credits, the theater staff folks came in and started cleaning up. I asked one if there was a scene after the credits, and they said no.


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The Karate Kid Remake

I don’t have a problem with the concept of Hollywood updating an older film. Some movie stories are good enough to be timeless, but they just need an update for the current culture. The Karate Kid is one such movie story.

I saw The Karate Kid in the theaters in 1984, when I was a high school teenager, and I firmly liked the film. It became part of the American culture at the time. But looking back at it now, the presentation is a bit dated.

The story can still resonate with kids today; it just needs modern actors and modern scenery. The script could almost be reused as is, but some tweaking for modern culture would help it. This is why I think the idea of a new production of The Karate Kid is a good idea.

But then I saw the trailer:

A couple of things jump out at me:

First, why the big difference in the story? Why a completely different story? The original script and story didn’t need to be scrapped.

1984 move is to another American city. 2010 move is to China? 1984 Daniel was 16 years old. 2010 Dre is 12 years old? These drastically change the mood of the story.

If a story is good enough to be retold, isn’t it good enough to be retold without being completely rewritten? If they’re going to tell a totally different story, why reuse the old name?

The move to China introduces two oddities:

One: Will the movie be subtitled, (I doubt it), or will everyone conveniently speak English for us, (I expect so).

Two: Chinese martial arts is not Karate. It’s Kung Fu, (as said in the trailer). Calling this film “The Karate Kid” is like naming a movie “The Baseball Kid” and having it be about cricket.

So, they invoke the name of a classic film, but then rewrite the script in such a way that it is only very vaguely related. Why bother presenting it as a “remake”? How about just calling it, “The Kung Fu Kid”? (Upon deeper reading about this film, it seems it will be titled The Kung Fu Kid in other countries.)

By reusing the original name, the producers seem to expect to bring in people who liked the original (a demographic old enough to remember the original). But anyone familiar enough with the original to be drawn to a remake will immediately see (from the trailer) that this isn’t a remake at all. People will either like it or dislike it regardless of their feelings for the original, because this is essentially a whole new movie.

This is like the Starship Troopers movie. For some reason, the producers wanted to associate the film with the name of a great novel, but then they made the movie in such a way that the story had no relationship to its namesake. And anyone who would be interested in the movie because of the novel would see immediately that it wasn’t related to the novel at all, (and would probably be pissed, as I was). Anyone who didn’t know of the novel wouldn’t care that the film pretended to tie in to it.

Too often, Hollywood thinking and marketing just makes no sense whatsoever.


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Viewed: Theater (non-3D)

I liked this movie. I enjoyed it just fine. But for some reason, I wasn’t blown away or awed by it. And I don’t know why.

It was exactly what I expected from the trailer, and this is absolutely the kind of movie I would like when done well — and this was done well. Very well. But it just didn’t grab me by the geek organ and hold me tight.

I saw the 2007 Transformers movie 3 times in the theater, and bought the DVD. I saw 300 twice in the theater, and bought the DVD. But this, for some reason I don’t understand about myself, I was satisfied with just one viewing; and I don’t expect to buy the DVD.

This lack of strong feeling for this movie puzzles me. When I left the theater after viewing this, I didn’t feel like I had wasted 3 hours — I was happy with my time and money spent on this. But I also didn’t feel the need to bother seeing it again. I didn’t even feel a need to talk or write about it. (That’s why I’m just now getting to my review of it, about two weeks after my viewing.)

I’m a full-blooded man-geek who loves science fiction and fantasy, loves big action and shooting and explosions. And this movie provided all of this. But I didn’t love it.

It kind of bothers me that I don’t understand why I’m not moved.


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