Monday, 16 January 2012

Grouchy old bastard … at 44!!!

I’ve been informed that I’m getting grouchy. Or … more grouchy than I usually am when I point and swear at the television whenever there’s a politician on screen telling lies. Over the previous couple of weeks, I’ve been like the proverbial bear with the sore head because I’ve been struggling with a head-cold, made worse with a dose of sinusitis, nausea, dizziness, fatigue, lethargy, and if there was a market for snot I’d have made a fortune from the amount I produced. ICK!!! It’s had a devastating affect on my productivity. A few brief notes and memos scribbled, but no new pages established, and I kept my online time to just long enough to process any new orders I received, and then I promptly logged off again. Looking at the VDU monitor felt like I was provoking a migraine. I decided it was best to play it safe while my body finally won the war against this seasonal illness, but it ratcheded up my grouchometer a few more notches.
I turned 44-years-old last Friday.
It’s not a remarkable age in the grand scheme of things, but still a wake-up call to me that I’m not 43 anymore. What changes do I notice? Not too many other than my eyebrows are acquiring some white strands, so my winter plumage is getting a foothold.
Some friends I have conversations with on a regular basis have commented on how my sense of humor ranges from dry wit to zany practical joking, depending on my mood and the situations. This led to a conversation on who we imagine we’d all most likely be in our old age. So far, I have been likened to three fictional characters:

Walter Matthau, as Max Goldman, in Grumpy Old Men (1993) … for his caustic wit and penchant for practical jokes.

Peter Boyle, as Frank Barone, in the TV show Everybody Loves Raymond … for his similar sarcastic sense of humor.

Finally, because I love vigilante stories so much, and again for the humor inherent in the character, including the fact that I also swear like a trooper, they chose Clint Eastwood, as Walt Kowalski, in Gran Torino (2008).
I like that character best of all and it’s a vision of myself that may well come true, as one day I sit on a porch somewhere, with drink by my side, a dog (or several dogs) keeping me company, looking around with disdain, grumbling and snarling at the world – just like old Walt.Which grouchy old bastard do you imagine you might eventually turn into?
While you ponder on that … I’ve included some other great stills below of Clint Eastwood, in the role of Walt Kowalski, in Gran Torino. A great character study and a role Clint was born to play.
So ... in a couple of decades ... you pass by a porch and see a grouchy old bastard, with a dog at his feet, drink in his hand, looking like he's snarling more than his dog ... pay him no mind ... it might just be me!

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Leviathan (1989):

I ended 2011 with a great cinema movie (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo), but ended it with a bad one on DVD when I bought Leviathan.
I missed this dubious cinematic gem upon it’s initial release in 1989 and I thank God I hadn’t forked out the price of a cinema ticket. Nothing worse than having handed over money at the box office, to sit there during the screening for maybe an hour (less in this case – a lot less!) and think: Damn! This movie is truly crap!
I was buying up some used books and DVDs at one of the charity stores. During my rummage, I found a few good ones to either add to my collection, or sell on.
Then suddenly I found this movie. I looked at the cover, read the blurb on the back, looked at the few still shots … thought about it … tried to remember if anyone else had ever discussed it and gave it a thumbs up, or down … couldn’t remember anyone even mentioning it (which should have been a warning) … and then I thought: why not?
So I bought it, helped the charity along a little more, took it home, and then wasted about 90 minutes of my life watching it.
For those who haven’t seen it … stop me when this sounds familiar:
The crew of Shack 7 are an ocean bed mining operation on a 90 day shift cycle.
The Abyss, or Outland anyone?
They discover a sunken shipwreck, the Leviathan of the title, wherein one of the crew retrieves the safe in the hope of claiming a fortune in lost treasure, but instead unleashes a parasitic organism … sounds feasible!
Alien, or John Carpenter’s The Thing anyone?
Even the noises of the computers sound exactly like those of Blade Runner and Alien.
The biggest rip-off is the scene that will have all viewers pointing at the screen and protesting that they saw that done in Jaws!
Oh, dear … I watched this movie … I still can’t believe I watched it … I will never sit through it again.
What good came of me watching Leviathan? What was the only positive thing I could take from the experience? Buying it was a donation to charity. The next time I visited the charity store, I gave it back as a donation again so they could make twice their money as a resale.
It still made me wonder why so many movies rip off classics … and do it so badly!

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011):

So … 2011 is gone and we’re now into 2012. I’ll be 44 this year and there’s still so much I want to do.
I’ve broke from my normal way of doing stuff, which could be viewed as a form of organized chaos; I wrote out a daily schedule which I try to stick to as a New Year’s resolution – again something I don’t usually do. My intention is to manage my time more efficiently and consequently become more productive. My failing in the past is that I have a tendancy to forget that time actually exists. I get engrossed in something and forget to check the clock, so I forget other stuff I wanted to get done and before I know it – my stomach is growling for food and most of the day has gone.
Now, I’ll stick to a more strict schedule. If I don’t get some things done in the allotted time, it will have to roll over to the next day.
Already, in the past 3 days I have seen a benefit. I’ve also had more time to practise yoga, Tai chi, and the harmonica.
We’ll see how it all goes.
Looking back over December just gone, I also broke from my usual way of doing things when I went to see my last cinema movie of 2011. I held off watching the original 2009 movie adaptation of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, starring Noomi Rapace in the titular role of Lisbeth Salander, because I prefer to read the source novels first before seeing the movie adaptations. I have Stieg Larsson’s Millennium Series trilogy of novels: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played with Fire, and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets' Nest sitting on my bookshelf, waiting for me to read them. However, I was in the city, footsore, in need of coffee and I’d already been tempted by the movie trailer, so I broke from the norm, came in from the cold, paid at the box office, and took my seat in the dark auditorium.
Few modern directors make dark thrillers better than David Fincher. His previous movies: Se7en, Panic Room and Fight Club have become modern classics. His talent for dark atmospherics was already established with the hugely under-rated Alien 3.
Daniel Craig plays magazine publisher, Mikael Blomkvist, hired by Henrik Vanger (Christopher Plummer) to solve the mystery surrounding the murder of his young neice. This is an engrossing and multi-layered story, with a great cast playing a variety of characters that keeps the audience guessing. Mikael Blomkvist is credibly written; not the usual thriller protagonist: he shivers in the Spartan conditions of the cramped cottage he’s using as a base for his investigation, he bungles, gets hurt and needs rescuing from situations. At first angered when he finds out his background has been looked into by computer hacker and investigator Lisbeth Salander, he sees her potential and hires her to help him investigate the case. The story deals with subjects that will shake many out of their comfort zone. The theme of violence against women is never an easy one to handle and it’s presented here stark and unflinchingly.
The movie runs at almost two hours, forty minutes, but it goes by fast and left me wanting more, the mark of both great movie-making and superior story telling.
The anti-social goth Salander is by far a stronger character than Blomkvist, who would have surely perished without her intervention. She has the knack of remaining detached when he finds himself repulsed by the gory details and is compelled to turn away. She is diminutive in stature and damaged by her past experiences, having fallen victim to sleaze balls in her own life, but she’s not to be under-estimated, as several learn when they feel her wrath.
I fully recommend The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo for lovers of dark thrillers with vigilante themes.
Lisbeth Salander is a lot like many books we find and know nothing about: you can’t judge them by their cover alone.