Mom and babies watercolorD is for daughters – I have two of them.  They grew up and moved away, but now they are coming back.  It’s a Millennial thing.

The youngest has spent that last two years in New York City. She turned an internship into a job that paid enough to make her self sustaining, but she didn’t like it.  There was the whole thing about going to work, and then staying there all day.

“Office work isn’t healthy,” she often said. “You’re inside all the time.”

I would point out to my Southern California child that when it’s 20 degrees outside, most people seek out central heating, but that logic didn’t impress her.  She went to NYC because her friends were there, and she has had a busy social time, hitting clubs and restaurants and taking late night Ubers around town. But now many of her pals are moving on, as twenty-somethings will do, and she’s bored with her job, so she’s taking her considerable savings and coming home.

Her big sister, three years older, is in a PhD program in Durham, North Carolina, but all her classes are done, and she says it doesn’t matter anymore where she lives. This is cheerful news because Durham, for all its NCAA charms, doesn’t appeal to her at all.  She likes the big city – Los Angeles, and also London, where her fiance lives.  But, it turns out that he wants to move to Los Angeles too, so it seems we sent two children off, but three are coming back.

It’s one heck of a boomerang.

I have no idea what will happen next, but then, that’s been true since they were born.


10 Cloverfield LaneIn 2008 JJ Abrams (of Star Wars fame) made a cheeky little horror film called Cloverfield. There’s a street called Cloverfield near Abrams office, and that’s where the name comes from; it was the working title to begin with but the name stuck.  Cloverfield Boulevard is a busy, traffic swollen street, frustrating to navigate if you’re trying to get your perennially tardy daughter to school on time.  Ever since the movie came out, when I pass through there I imagine aliens landing, even though the film was set entirely in New York.

A couple of weeks ago a sequel hit the theaters, called 10 Cloverfield Lane.  It doesn’t pick up where the first film left off, instead it takes us to the rural South, where other folks are dealing with the same apocalyptic invasion. It’s kind of The Walking Dead formula, where we encounter different groups of people coping with worldwide catastrophe.  This time around we meet Howard (a terrifically creepy John Goodman); Howard’s a conspiracy buff who is holed up in a bunker he built in anticipation of just this sort of thing.  He is also sheltering a young woman, Michelle, who he claims he rescued after her car went off the road, and a young man, Emmett, who knew about the bunker and pleaded to be let in. These three share an uneasy existence underground, fearful of what’s going on in the world, torn between trying to get along and feeling suspicious of each other’s intentions.

I kind of loved this movie – it was fun, and I liked the tough and determined heroine and the way the surprises came just like that, out of the blue. (None of these long scenes where you watch some guy go inexplicably deeper and deeper into a dark, scary basement while suspenseful music plays.) I saw it in North Carolina, on a smallish screen in one of those fancy kinds of movie theaters, and I kept jumping in my cushy seat.

The film was directed by Dan Trachtenberg, a young dude who has never directed a feature film before.  That’s pretty cool.

And that’s day three of the A-Z blogging challenge.  C is for Cloverfield. Thanks for stopping by.

B is for Blog

Adam_West_as_BatmanI’m recharging my blog this month, thanks to the motivation of the A-Z Blogging Challenge.  This is day two of the challenge, which means we’re all looking for inspiration from the letter B, which reminded me of blog.

I am not the first person to think of this.

Never mind.  My last post was about 18 months ago, I lost steam because I didn’t seem to have any readers.  This was disconcerting. I didn’t really know what I was doing back then, and I still don’t, but I figure it’s a good thing to keep writing. Originally I was just going to write about movies but now I think I will also write about other things, like my quirky husband, and peculiar relatives. (I’m looking at you, Dave.)

I looked into movies that start with B and came up with Batman v. Superman, apparently the worst superhero movie ever made.  This is noteworthy. I haven’t seen the film, but I probably will; a professor once told me that it was important to see bad movies in order to get perspective. I like Batman in general, I was a big fan of the campy series from the sixties, mostly because it was the only TV show my mother would let me watch.  It also featured great pithy dialogue:

Robin: “Where’d you get a live fish, Batman?”
Batman: “The true crime fighter always carries everything he needs in his utility belt, Robin.”

Be prepared, everyone.  See you Monday.

The Americans

The Americans

The Americans is a dynamite show about a couple of Soviet spies – Elizabeth and Philip, played brilliantly by Keri Russell and Matthew Reese –  who were trained from a very young age to pass as Americans.  When they hit adulthood they are paired up, married off, and settled down in the suburbs of Washington DC with their two children, by all appearances your average family next door. Except, they sometimes slip out at night to carry out nefarious spy tasks – infiltrating, kidnapping, murdering, that kind of thing.

In the collective American imagination, the Reagan era Soviet Union is a drab, cheerless place, where people stand in long, polite lines to purchase loaves of bread, or single rolls of toilet paper.   Imagine taking a couple of young adults who grew up in that environment and plopping them down in an American suburb during the go-go eighties, with VCRs and microwaves and two cars in the driveway.  In spite of their loyalty to the Soviet cause, you might expect them to feel a little conflicted. And that is what makes The Americans an interesting show, far more than the secret spy shenanigans.  Elizabeth and Philip are committed to living the American dream while they covertly work to undermine it; as time goes on their facades start to crack, especially as the couple begins to reckon with the impact their secret life could have on their American children’s futures. (In a nice bit of gender bending, it is Philip who starts questioning first, and Elizabeth who clings with brittle resolve to serving “the greater good.”)

But while this tension is at the heart of the show, the spy stuff is a lot of fun.  Philip and Elizabeth seem to have few limits when it comes to doing their Soviet duty, they’re always donning elaborate disguises (which don’t really disguise them, but you sort of accept that on this show) and pulling stunts like slipping someone a slow acting poison (with an umbrella!) and withholding the antidote until the guy gives up crucial information. They use sex a lot – both of them do – in order to persuade folks to do their bidding; Philip even marries a poor unsuspecting woman (her name is Martha, find her on Twitter at #PoorMartha) in order to keep the intel flowing. Sometimes after a steamy encounter they come home and have sex with each other, because, you know, they’re feeling sentimental.

They also kill people, because this is meant to be a real spy story and not a genial caper; they are ordered to kill or they take the initiative in an effort to protect their cover.  It’s never pretty and it is never shrugged off, these murders impact Elizabeth and Philip and make us wonder if it is possible for them to ever be redeemed after a lifetime of shadowy double living, but we can’t help but pull for them.

The Americans features a great supporting cast, including Alison Wright, who plays Martha, Holly Taylor, Elizabeth and Philip’s teenage daughter Paige, and Noah Emmerich, the lonely FBI agent who just happens to live across the street.  There is also a whole passel of Russian KGB operatives whose paths frequently cross with the others causing all kinds of developments.  The Americans is available for streaming on Amazon and new episodes are on FX.  Definitely worth a watch.

Wait, It’s Guardians After All!

See ya, Transformers

I was worried about the world because it seemed like Transformers was going to win the summer box office derby, but Guardians of the Galaxy came along and stole the crown.  Then the James Gunn directed hit did it one better and climbed to the top of the heap for the whole doggone year.

But that’s old news now.  We have officially entered the Fall movie season, which means that a bunch of Oscar quality films are leaning on the starting gate.  First up we got The Drop, a mob style thriller with James Gandolfini, Tom Hardy and Noomi Rapace.  Skeleton Twins, with Kristen Wiig and Bill Hader is also up, although in limited release.  THere’s also some sort of gory thriller starring Idris Elba as a really bad guy.  Not sure that one’s going to be worth it, even with Idris.


The End of Summer

It’s August 20 which makes it an excellent time to talk about summer films, because in a few weeks the Telluride Film Festival will open and it’s all fall prestige pics from there. Well, except for the horror stuff in October — there’s a Ouija Board movie, and something called The ABCs of Death.

Here’s what we know: Transformers 4 is the box office winner. This is good news for Michael Bay, who also had a hit with the reboot of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.   I didn’t see either of these films, because the last time I went to a Transformers movie I left to get some popcorn and when I came back I went into the wrong theater, which was also playing Transformers, and that show had started earlier but it didn’t matter because there wasn’t any story line to follow anyway.

I didn’t see TMNT because I’m too old.

For pure summer movie fun, you can’t beat Guardians of the Galaxy, which is coming in at #4 on the top box office list.  Even if you’re the type that scoffs at summer popcorn flicks, you cant resist this one.  It’s got a great scruffy charm.  Also Bradley Cooper as a cranky raccoon whose best friend is a tree named Groot.  Just go see it.

On the Indy front, the box office champ is Chef, which is a really fun, lighthearted movie about a chef who loses his job and decides to set up a food truck with his young son as his Social Media director. Sweet, and chock full of food porn.  Make sure you have your dinner plans worked out.

We got Sin City coming up this weekend and then we are heading straight into Oscar talk. So the popcorn time is now…and we are all Groot.



Iron Man

I saw Iron Man 3 over the weekend. I like a good superhero movie, especially on the first weekend in May, because it’s close to my birthday and gets me into a frivolous party mood. Good guy battles bad guy, things look bleak and then, kapow! good triumphs and we all go out to dinner.

Used to be, we took the kids along to see Iron Man or Spider Man or X-Men or any of the super powered sequels that followed. This year, though, the young people are old and they blew us off, so we were a bunch of boomers hitting the late matinee; one of our crew had a bad attitude (why do we have to see another crappy blow things up movie?) so we had to promise him cocktails.

But it wasn’t a crappy movie – it was entertaining, well made, downright fun. Robert Downey Jr. inhabits Tony Stark like an alter ego, and in this outing he spends a lot of time outside the suit, which is a plus. The plot is pretty simple – very bad guy terrorist is attacking America with seeming invincibility. Seems he’s figured out how to weaponize human beings by altering their DNA so they can heat up like branding irons. Stark publicly provokes the dude and gives up his home address (Come get me where I live!) although that can’t be much of a secret since Stark’s house teeters over a Malibu hillside and it’s big enough to be seen from space. Never mind, the bad guys arrive with explosives and soon Tony’s on the run and love-of-his-life Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) is kidnapped and now he’s really mad. He ends up searching for clues in Tennessee; the Iron Man suit loses its juice during the trip, so he hooks up with a perspicacious kid named Harley (a charming, funny Ty Simpkins) who has a garage full of useful tools and electronic parts. Harley has a wise cracking wit that parries nicely with Starks’ sharp edged charm, and their short partnership is one of the best parts of the film.

But never fear, action fans, the movie wraps up with the usual crescendo of explosions and fight scenes, and the Iron Man suit demonstrating a nifty new ability to fly onto Tony Stark’s body in pieces, turning him into his alter ego in steps. Kind of a fun development when the old boy is in mid battle.

The summer movie slate is full of films like this. Many (most, really) aren’t worth the price of admission, but this Iron Man – definitely worthwhile. Playing everywhere in 3D and 2D and probably IMAX, until Star Trek shows up and takes over screens. B+