Movie Report: Jet Li’s Fearless (2006)

Book coverWell, gentle reader, you know what you’re getting with a modern Chinese film. You’ve got some star power in Jet Li (whose other films I’ve enjoyed, including Kiss of the Dragon, Hero, The Black Mask, Lethal Weapon 4, and most recently The Expendables). Okay, an older Jet Li, kind of like you get an older Jackie Chan in similar films, but still interesting and exciting to watch. But it’s an interesting film once you peel away the layer of Chinese propaganda film that hovers over all.

Jet Li plays the adult son of a martial arts teacher whose father lost a public bout with honor and tried to instill that honor into his son, but did not. Eventually, Jet Li becomes the leader of a washu school of martial arts that his father began, and he becomes successful in drawing students. He starts to live a bit of the high life with it, but when a rival school’s leader beats one of his students, for no reason (he is told by the student), he fights that leader in his (Jet Li’s character’s) friend’s restaurant, leading to its (the restaurant’s) destruction and the loss of the friend. Worse, he kills the other school’s leader, and then he learns his student embelished the story and the whole thing was unnecessary. He ends up wandering, falls in with a family and a blind girl (played by Li Sun) and learns to love and live again. So he returns home to fight again, this time for China against the forces of the West plotting against China.

So, well, yeah, a good story wrapped in Chinese anti-Western propoganda. Although, strangely, the Japanese champion comes off humanized, or at least lives up to the Chinese ideal.

So all right. Perhaps in a couple of decades the Chinese propoganda element will be lessened or merely a historical note. And then we can look upon it as a story of redemption, and not preparing to paste it to my children who are coming into draft age.

But enough about us. About Li Sun.
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The New Animal Sounds Of Nogglestead

It has taken a little over a month, gentle reader, for me to finish listening to the records I bought at the Spring book sale. And “finish” is a relative term–the current turntable cannot accommodate 78 rpm records, so I have not listened to the Benny Goodman set, and I have not listened to the three LP “learn Mandarin from records” set (which might go into the drawer with the other learn-a-foreign-language sets that I have gathered over the years before I actually learn a language via LP–see also the audiocassette teach-yourself-Japanese course that’s been in my office closets for 25 years).

I finished with the New Cristy Minstrels because they’re more of my beautiful wife’s thing, although she has said they’re more of her mother’s thing, and that she (my wife) really did only hear the Christmas record as her mother did not listen to records that much in her memory.

I also held off, strangely enough, on the Eydie Gorme record (Here’s Eydie Gorme) as the first time I tried to listen to it, the turntable was acting squirrelly, leading me to fear its imminent failure. However, the next day, it had no problems, but by then the Eydie Gorme record was lower in the stack.

And as I completed (mostly) listening to them, I realized that this stack of records has more animal sounds than perhaps my whole library previously had (an untrue assertion, as we have a record version of Disney World’s Enchanted Tiki Room and some of Kipling’s Just So Stories, but bear with me here–I’m blogging).

The Eydie Gorme record has “I’ve Gotta Crow” which apparently (according to Wikipedia) was her first single with Steve Lawrence circa 1954, but the LP I got is from a decade later. In it, Eydie Gorme, well, makes what presumably are Brooklyn crow noises as crows don’t sound like this in the Ozarks:

Then, relatively shortly thereafter, I heard the song “The Cat” from the The New Christy Minstrels Tell Tall Tales! (Legends and Nonsense) which features band members meowing:

At Nogglestead, that song is more closely associate with Ralph the Dog from The Muppet Show:

I’m hard pressed to think of another record where the band makes animal noises. I’m sure we have one or more in the library, but these leaped out at me because I heard them in such close proximity.

Oh, and of those New Cristy Minstrels records: New Kick! is apparently signed by one of the players:

Pete Henderson inscribed this to John and pointed out which songs he played or was featured. Not bad for a dollar.

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Movie Report: Knocked Up (2007)

Book coverAfter watching The Green Hornet, I picked up this film which might have been the movie that launched Seth Rogen’s career, to see if his characters always annoyed me. Which is a little less than rage-watching, but he had a big moment about a decade and a half ago, and I wanted to maybe catch a little of his career in case it ever comes up in a trivia night. After all, the things I thought were trivia–pop culture details from the 1940s-1970s–is now ancient history and the lost wisdom of the Ancestors.


In the film, Rogen plays a frattish bro living with a bunch of friends who are hoping to make it rich off of an Internet site (coming sometime) that tells you when you can see boobies in the movies. Katherine Heigl plays an up-and-coming broadcast talent who finally gets her break in front of the camera. The frattish boys are out at the club because that’s what they do, and Heigl’s Alison is celebrating her promotion, and after many, many drinks, Rogen’s Ben and Alison hook up. The coitus they barely remember results in Alison becoming pregnant, and against the advice of her family and at risk of her career, she decides to keep the baby. When she tells Ben, he decides to help, and they get to know each other as they prepare for the baby’s birth.

So the manboy in this film does undergo some character growth–the woman too–but I attribute this more to it being a Judd Apatow film more than a Seth Rogen film. some of Apatow’s other works also have those bits of growth and depth to them–This Is 40, The 40-Year-Old Virgin maybe–but some are just straight ahead comedies (Anchorman, Superbad, Talladega Nights: The Legend of Ricky Bobby, et al). Looking over Apatow’s ouevre, I have seen a lot of his films, and although I note that many of the same actors appear in them–his family, Leslie Mann, Paul Rudd, Jonah Hill, Seth Rogen, and so on–I don’t think of the Apatowverse like I think of the Stillerverse or the Sandlerverse. Probably because he’s behind the camera–far behind it as a producer and writer not always the director.

So the film was not as bad as I had feared it would be. Like most 21st century R-rated comedies, it has a lot of swearing and requires drugs or blackout drinking for major plot points–I need some Cary Grant films as a palate cleanser–but it is easily the best Seth Rogen film I’ve seen. Of which the sample size is small (although he has smaller parts in other movies in the Apatowverse, he stars in but a few).

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Spotted in the Wild: An Acrostic Poem

You know, in school, in poetry units, the teachers always brought up the Acrostic poem form where the first letter of each word spells something else. I didn’t think they were a thing but rather an easy poetry type to grade (like haikus, where you just have to count the syllables and not judge content).

But apparently, Keats wrote at least one:

Acrostic: Georgiana Augusta Keats

Give me your patience, sister, while I frame
Exact in capitals your golden name;
Or sue the fair Apollo and he will
Rouse from his heavy slumber and instill
Great love in me for thee and Poesy.
Imagine not that greatest mastery
And kingdom over all the Realms of verse,
Nears more to heaven in aught, than when we nurse
And surety give to love and Brotherhood.

Anthropophagi in Othello’s mood;
Ulysses storm’d and his enchanted belt
Glow with the Muse, but they are never felt
Unbosom’d so and so eternal made,
Such tender incense in their laurel shade
To all the regent sisters of the Nine
As this poor offering to you, sister mine.

Kind sister! aye, this third name says you are;
Enchanted has it been the Lord knows where;
And may it taste to you like good old wine,
Take you to real happiness and give
Sons, daughters and a home like honied hive.

Yes, I’ve picked up the collection of the complete works of Keats and Shelley that I’ve been working on for at least four years.

Las Vegas oddsmakers are evenly split whether I will complete this book or The Story of Civilization first. To be honest, I’d take the latter. And as far as the over/under goes, eight years might be the way to bet.

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Cursed by the Old Woman in the Marketplace

Well, it sounds dramatic, gentle reader, on purpose. To be honest, she was not that old–older than me, but not a crone, and it wasn’t a marketplace, it was an estate sale in Republic last Saturday. And she didn’t mean it as a curse.

As you might know, gentle reader, I have been on a multi-decade quest, well, not so much a quest as something I think of from time to time, to replace the remaining Sauder particle board printer stands used as major pieces of furniture at Nogglestead. These printer stands come right out of the 1990s, with a slit in the top where you can slide the pin-fed paper for your dot matrix printer. Back shortly after the turn of the century, one often found them at garage sales for a couple of dollars, or at least I did, when I was furnishing an apartment and later a house or two. So I picked them up, and they have faithfully served as side tables and entertainment centers for almost a quarter of a century.

So I’ve started stopping at intermittent garage sales and an estate sale or two, maybe one a month, looking for an actual end table. Not just any end table, but an end table that costs about $20.

So I made an outing of it on Saturday, going to breakfast with my oldest son and stopping at a couple of yard sales on the way. On the way back, I told the bored boy (well, almost-man) that the estate sale whose signs we followed deep into a subdivision would be the last one. It was billed as an estate sale, but it was not run by a professional company–it was mostly in a garage. It looked like the man of the house had passed and the mother was downsizing. The garage was full of tools and whatnot, but a sign said “Furniture inside.” So I went inside, and I found what looked to be a serviceable end table, and it was only $20.

As I carried it out, the woman cursed me: “If you’re looking for projects, there’s a cart in the corner. If you like to refinish things.”

I had my hands full, so I could not make a gesture of warding, so I was cursed.

When I got home, I looked at the end table, and it had some dings in it and some of the parts were colored a little differently, so I decided maybe I would refinish it before bringing it in. Instead of bringing it into the house right away, I set it down in the garage.

I had a little time on Saturday afternoon, so I thought I would strip the finish off of it and apply one of my 20-year-old stains (some are younger, only a decade or so old, but I don’t remember which). But my 20-year-old can of stripper was empty, having sublimated sometime in the passed years. So I stopped at Ace Hardware and bought a new can of stripper and a new can of dark stain for $40. Which, if you’re accounting, makes this $20 end table into a $60 end table.

If it makes it out of the garage. I still have a coffee table and two end table set that my brother gave me about 20 years ago, broken down into pieces for easy refinishing (and, more importantly, easy moving from our first rented house to Casinoport to Old Trees to Nogglestead). I also have a little child/doll rocking chair, again broken down for refinishing and it turns out easy moving, that I picked up at a garage sale over 20 years ago. And a desk I bought in 1999 whose metal pulls and accents I removed to refinish, but it got pressed into actual service sometime in those years and has adorned my office, sans pulls and accents, for two decades. Somehow, one of the metal accent pieces has ended up on my workbench in the garage. I’m not sure where the others are, but I presume they’re together.

So the new end table is out in the garage, where projects go to be forgotten or ignored for a long, long time.

Perhaps the woman cursed the end table and not me. But time will tell how soon I get any of this done. After all, playing a couple of turns of an old version of Civilization that turns into a couple hours of an old version of Civilization is far easier, and as we go into summer, cooler.

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Book Report: Old Acquaintances by Ursula Gorman (2010)

Book coverI bought this book at ABC Books in the summer of 2021. The book is dated 2010, and the author’s signature is from 2018, so this is either before I started hitting as many of the ABC Books signings as I could, one that fell between the cracks, or one that the author signed for stocking.

At any rate, the story is about the owner of a boutique who seems to have a stalker. Who apparently starts killing people she knows or knew–one murder is the family at a house where someone she knew used to live.

The book is leavened with almost a bit of tension with the man whom she thought of as a brother as her mother took him in when his rich parents died and who has been her constant friend since. But he’s engaged to be married, which leaves her free to feel the flutterings for the handsome police detective on her case.

So it’s a bit of a cottage mystery, with a side order of romance. It’s a bit thin on the prose, which is better than being overdone, and the book is a short 140 pages, so it’s not long enough to be annoying. Next time I’m through John Donnelly’s Gold, I’m definitely going to gauge myself according to this new metric I have for prose: the density of it, contrasting paragraphs versus dialog and complexity of sentences to express meaning. I mean, Robert B. Parker, for example, wrote better when he had longer paragraphs, but not so much later when he relied mostly on dialog and stage directions. It’s kind of akin to my length-of-line metric for poetry, I suppose, but there’s something to it.

Another thing that struck me about this book was a certain similarity to Finding Lizzy Smith by Susan Keene which I read earlier this year. In both, people close to the female protagonist are getting killed. I wonder topically how often this happens in cozies–I don’t read many of them, Murder, She Wrote books that I read every seven or eight years. So I don’t know how much of a trope it is.

In researching this post, I see that the author published another book in 2012 which was to be the first in a trilogy. But nothing after, and her Internet presence is a Tripod site that has not been updated in years. This saddens me somehow, even though we’ve never met.

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Movie Report: Bad Boys (1995)

Book coverI mentioned when talking about Judge Dredd that it felt like a throwback to the movies of the 1980s. The first Bad Boys came out the same year, and it seems like a far newer film. Will Smith when he was cool and Martin Lawrence chew up the scenery as two detectives hunting for heroin stolen from the police evidence room. A witness to a shootout (Téa Leoni) has been told to only trust Will Smith’s Lowery, a ladies man, but when she calls looking for help, she gets family man Burnett (Lawrence) who pretends to be Lowery. Which leads to some comedy as the detectives have to pretend to be each other to keep the ruse going. A couple of chases, gunfights, and explosions later, and finis.

C’mon, man, you’re not here for insight into the human condition. You’re here to see Smith and Lawrence chew the scenery and banter. Apparently, it works, since there have been two widely spaced sequels (2003 and 2020(!)). So an amusing couple of hours and a way for me to bring my pop culture knowledge all the way up to 1995.

And this might be the first film where Téa Leoni’s character did not annoy me. The list of those films includes Deep Impact, The Family Man, and Spanglish. I guess I did not specifically mention being annoyed with her in Fun with Dick and Jane, so maybe not.

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In One Easy Step

The Springfield Daily Citizen proffered a podcast I did listen to because I already know the answer.

“Book Bans” today just means not putting sexual material in the elementary school library. You want to get around it? Order it on Amazon.

When a community objects to government subsidy and encouragement of objectionable material, that’s not a ban. Just because something is not provided by the government does not mean it’s banned. Unless one is actively arguing for “Everything in the State, nothing outside the State, nothing against the State.”

I am tired of how some political actors stretch definitions to conflate something objectionable with something wrong.

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I Get It

Severian said today:

And yeah, I deliberately chose Taylor Swift, because she’s pretty much already an AI. As I’m sure I’ve written, I “admire” her in a way, for a certain deeply cynical value of “admire” — Sir John Hawkwood himself wasn’t that openly mercenary (did I mention that one of the reasons I love this place is that I can drop an allusion to Sir John Hawkwood and bet everyone will get it?).

Yeah, I got it. After all, I read John Hawkwood: An English Mercenary in Fourteenth-Century Italy fifteen years ago and briefly tried to get the Internet to replace Chuck Norris jokes with John Hawkwood gags (such as John Hawkwood invented the color Burnt Sienna. Poor Sienna.). I also had the domain name for a number of years before I started culling my portfolio (I’m down to 18).

It makes one feel smaht to get allusions and references, and it’s cool to drop them into conversations. Even when nobody gets it.

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Movie Report: Judge Dredd (1995)

Book coverI bought this videocassette at the Friends of the Library Book sale this spring, and it was only after I’d spent my quarter on it and I popped it into the videocassette player that I wondered if it was part of the four-movie Stallone set that I bought that has Demolition Man on it. I was pleased to learn it is not. Before I watched the film, I was not sure if I’d seen it before, but I think I had. To be honest, over the years, Stallone actioners and post-apocalyptic films didn’t stick with me after my younger years.

This film, based on a comic book, has Stallone as the title character, a sort of super-policeman in a crowded Mega-City One who serves not only as the person who arrests people, but can sentence and even execute them on the spot. A super-villain escapes prison and returns to the city, aided by powerful politicians who want to use the chaos to bring about a better world–wait a minute, am I watching Demolition Man? Apparently not, as this film also has Rob Schneider as comic relief in a hacker freshly released from prison. Dredd is framed for the murder of an investigative reporter and sent to a penal colony along with the hacker, and their transport is ambushed by marauders of the wasteland outside the city. They are rescued by Dredd’s old mentor, banished himself when he spared Dredd’s life on his conviction. The mentor reveals that Dredd and his friend, whom Dredd put into prison, are actually brothers, experiments in building the perfect judges. So Dredd and Rob Schneider return to Mega-City One to stop the chaos and to bring his brother to justice.

So you can see a lot of thematic material that was probably better presented in other films mashed up into this one. But it’s not a bad film–it’s just one that does not stand out. And when I watch it again–it’s the kind of thing I’m likely to watch again (and probably remember that I’ve seen it before next time)–I will enjoy it for what it is. A mid-1990s actioner that was already a bit of a throwback to the 1980s when it was released.

The film also featured Diane Lane, who played Judge Hershey, a trainee who becomes Dredd’s ally.
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Movie Report: The Best of Gallagher Volume 2 (1999)

Book coverThis DVD includes two of Gallagher’s comedy specials from 1983, The Maddest and Stuck in the Sixties. I recognized a lot of The Maddest from heavy rotation on Showtime in the years where I spent a lot of time in a mobile home with but a television (well, and a brother, and friends who were prohibited from actually being in the trailer when my sainted mother was at work). However, it’s entirely possible that Showtime played The Messiest, a 1986 compilation of bits from other specials.

Gallagher deals with topical comedy and relies on a lot of props for his humor–a giant sofa to jump on, a motorized school desk, an animatronic baby doll in a high chair representing his new childm and of course the Sledge-o-Matic that he uses to smash produce up to a watermelon at the end of each show. In Stuck on the Sixties, he does hit a couple of political points to contrast the early Reagan era with his idealized version of the sixties, but overall, it aged better (at forty years old now) than, say, Dennis Miller’s The Raw Feed from only twenty years ago. Or maybe I have extra affection for the comedian because I watched his special or specials over and over again when I was younger.

When I was browsing the DVDs at the Friends of the Library book sale this spring, a woman waved her hand at the DVD and said that he’s funny. So I told her about how his brother would do his act sometimes, but it turns out I got the story wrong: His brother looked a lot like him and did his own shows, perhaps hoping people would confuse him with the Gallagher until the Gallagher sued his brother to make him stop, and he did.

Gallagher toured until 2020 when the pandemic shut everything down, and he passed away last year. I kind of wish I would have seen him live, but one wonders if his comedy became more political as everything did in the 21st century. I can believe not, at least until I run into some of his later comedy specials on DVD.

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For Consistency

Whereas I am known for pronouncing wary as war-y because it has the word right in it and because I’ve been known to pronounce vapid and rabid as vay-pid and ray-bid because they come from vapor and rabies,

Let it be known that hereafter, I shall pronounce diplomat as DIPLOMAt because it has the word diploma right in it.

Ah, the things that come to me at 2:30 in the morning instead of sleep.

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Book Report: I’m Here For A Purpose by LaDonna Greiner (2023)

Book coverFull disclosure: I sort of know the author as she has volunteered with my beautiful wife in a local entrepreneur’s group (well, she was there before my wife, so perhaps I should say “My beautiful wife volunteered with this author.”) So when I saw that she, the author, was having a book signing downtown (not yet at ABC Books) on First Friday Art Walk night, I dragged my wife and my youngest downtown to get a copy.

Ms. Greiner is a photographer and avid hiker, and she often hikes alone. The book talks about those hikes, hikers who get lost, tells the story of how she got lost trying to get a photo of a sunset but made it to camp and to her husband only a little late, and then culminates in the story of how she got lost on a hike and spent a night in the forest whilst thunderstorms raged and the temperature dropped to near-freezing before hiking some number of miles in the morning to rescue (and then to a series of events that would not be believed in fiction).

The book is relatively short (117 pages), leavened with the author’s photographs. It’s professionally laid out (which as you know, gentle reader, I can appreciate, or at least do). Not only that, but the book builds the story–I confess, I knew what the book was about when I started it–starting with some anecdotes about taking photographs, sometimes in dangerous circumstances (it starts out with photographing alligators on the bayou in Louisiana) and then a little about getting lost, building to almost dying at the end and then dénouement which is its own story.

Okay, so I liked the book. How much? I read it in a single night, and then we tracked her down at Artsfest in Springfield the next day to buy another book as a gift. And if she ever makes her way to ABC Books for a book signing, I’ll have to think of to whom I will give that copy as a gift. But hopefully I will have some time. Maybe Mrs. Shepherd. Who likes to hike? Who likes photography?

Oh, yeah, I would be remiss if I did not mention that she credits God for her survival, and the book is also a testament to her faith.

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My Backyard, Too

Springfield shelters overrun with kittens

We brought in a pair of black cats last year, so we’re topped up.

But in the last couple of days, we’ve seen some new faces, including a large black cat with white feet and, this very morning, a pair of very young tabbies.

It seems cyclical at Nogglestead. We see a lot of tabbies wandering around, and then we see a bunch of Jigsaw-spawn running around, and then we see a bunch of black cats running around, and I guess we might be back to tabbies somehow.

I guess it all depends upon the lifespans of their various mothers in the wild.

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Movie Report: Excalibur (1981)

Book coverI’d had this film in the cabinet for quite some time, and I watched it instead of the growing selection of recent acquisitions spreading across the cabinets beside the television.

It has been a long time since I delved into Arthurian legend. I read Edna St. Vincent Millay’s The King’s Henchman in 2007. I saw The Sword of Lancelot with Cornel Wilde and his wife Jean Wallace sometime after the turn of the century but before I started relying on Movie Reports to provide content for my great advertising and affiliate marketing empire keep my mind straight as to what I’ve seen and when.

This 1981 film retells the legend of King Arthur from the time of his father Uther Pendragon–who receives Excalibur from the Lady in the Lake and unites England, but throws it all away and relies on Merlin to help him seduce the wife of his rival. The union produces a son, Arthur, whom Merlin raises. Arthur then reuinites England pretty much off stage, and then he meets a knight errant and bests him using the power of Excalibur inappropriately. The knight errant, Lancelot, falls in love with Guinevere but does not act on it until a drunken Gawain, put up to it by Morgana, Arthur’s half-sister, accuses them of adultery. Arthur orders a trial by combat, and Lancelot returns, and he and Guinivere consummate their shared love. Morgana comes to Arthur disguised as Guinivere and conceives a son, Mordred, whom she raises to supplant her half-brother. Arthur goes into a stupor and sends his knights out to find the Holy Grail which he hopes can restore him and England. So they all go out and look, falling into Morgana’s trap, except for Percival, who finds the Grail and restores Arthur just in time for a big battle where Arthur defeats Mordred but is mortally wounded, and Excalibur is returned to the Lady in the Lake for future distribution.

Sorry to ruin the story for you. Sadly, this is the 21st century, you know, and although school children will be exposed to many fine stories of today’s political mania, they won’t learn about the legend of King Arthur, and this would indeed be a spoiler alert for them.

The film is more ponderous than other sword-and-sorcery fare of the era, such as the Conan movies, but it is trying to be a serious film and a piece of art and not just entertainment and/or a blockbuster. The pacing is a tad slow for modern audiences, and of the films I might have caught bits of at my friends’ house, sponging off of their HBO and cable, this is definitely the one without the sword with three blades in it (The Sword and the Sorcerer, 1982, which now that I’m thinking of it, I’ll look for it).

Also, some of the anachronisms in the film kind of took me out of it–not a problem when dealing with the Hyborean Age, but still: the Knights of the Round Table ride around, alone, on horseback in full plate through the whole movie. If they’d cut more of those scenes, perhaps the pacing would have been better. But I think they might have been trying for the high-budget, good looking film, and shiny armor was that.

When I was reading up on the film for this post, I was stunned at the cast. Helen Mirren as Morgana–there’s a scene where Morgana, who had used magic to stay young, as the spell was broken ages into an old woman, and Helen Mirren clearly did not turn into a crone. Gabriel Byrne is Uther Pendragon. Liam Neeson is Gawain. Patrick Stewart is Leondegrance, one of the first to pledge to Arthur. I didn’t recognize any of them because they were so young.

I probably won’t watch this film over and over, and the previous owner did not, either, as the film still had cellaphane over most of it. Which meant the picture was amazingly clear.

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Movie Report: The Punisher (2004)

Book coverIt’s a bit of a shame, gentle reader, that I think of this 19-year-old film as the new The Punisher, but that’s because I am old enough to remember the 1989 Dolph Lundgren movie which was an earlier take on the character. I do not think I’ve seen that film en toto, but I remember that it was made. This rendition of The Punisher, only fifteen years later, might be the first with the Marvel Studios flipping comic pages with the main titles. Blade didn’t have it, did it? It’s been a while since I’ve reviewed the Blade trilogy, and I might want to revisit them since there’s another Blade movie in the works (and I might not bother seeing it).

This film opens with a couple of guys looking to facilitate an arms deal of some sort, but it goes bad and the police drop in, but in the ensuing shootout, one of them is killed. Turns out that he’s the son of a mafioso, Howard Saint, played by John Travolta. Saint (not the Saint, clearly) places a bounty on the man responsible, who turns out to be Frank Castle, played by Thomas Jane. Castle is a deep undercover government operative who vows this is his last job, and he goes to a family reunion in the Caribbean with his family. When Saint orders the hit in the Caribbean, his wife, played by Laura Harring, asks to have the whole family eliminated, and the bad men do just that, killing the whole Castle family but only leaving Frank for dead. When he is restored to health by a local juju man, Castle returns to the country with only one thing on his mind: revenge.

So Castle sets up shop in a rundown apartment building populated by some misfits, including Rebecca Romijn-Stamos (not painted blue). And he goes about destroying Saint’s business and setting him up to do violence to those closest to him before Castle kills him.

It’s a bit on the sadistic side, but I am starting to think casual sadism is a bit of a trope in the first part of this “21st” century. I mean, some people (in movies) just need killing, but some of the killings in this film include a little pain and realization before the final offing. I dunno. I don’t mind my heroes outside the law, and I can tolerate a bit of torture (in fiction) for vital information, but modern films just include cruelty for its sake or for the cinematic sake of it, and that bothers me (says the man who has read, what, a hundred Executioner novels?)

Speaking of which, I had a little problem at the beginning because they altered the origin story…. But then I realized I was comparing Castle’s story to Mack Bolan’s origin story, and then I was mollified a bit. I mean, the Punisher character was quite modeled on the Executioner–the comic with the first appearance of the Punisher also had an interview with Don Pendleton for cryin’ out loud (speaking of the greatest gap in my comic collection).

I had a harder time with thinking that Thomas Jane (I keep wanting to type “Hardy,” which means it must be closing in on time to actually read The Return of the Native) in this film looked an awful lot like a younger Herb Alpert.

A man seeking bloody vengeance
The best musical artist in recording history

Maybe I am still confused.

So I liked the film alright in spite of the unnecessary brutality in spots. But not enough that I won’t like the reboot, although I guess that was a streaming show, which means it has been fired into the ether never to be seen again.

The film did feature Laura Harring as Livia Saint, and it’s not too often that I say, “Wow!” about an actress. But, “Wow!”
Continue reading “Movie Report: The Punisher (2004)”

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