Three sentence movie reviews: The Hangover

So now I’ve experienced the cultural phenomenon that is the Hangover (thank you library and your free rentals.)  Maybe it was Channing Tatum withdrawal, (the last five movies I have watched have featured him) but I found this movie only passably amusing in places, and generally okay.  I’m pretty sure I can skip the Hangover II.

Three sentence movie reviews: Stop-loss

“Sweetheart, this movie has Ryan Phillippe, Joseph Gordon-Levitt AND Channing Tatum, why I have I not seen this before?” said I.  It also has Abbie Cornish, who I like despite not liking her character in

Bright Star

.  This was a pretty good movie, full of drama and tough choices, marking this as a “good” MTV films production.*

*Matt thinks he hates MTV Films, but I argue they can make some darn good movies when they set their minds to it.  Check out a

list of their films

.  Despite the presence of

Jackass 2.5

and the like, there are some darn good movies on that list.  They are especially good a capturing moments in adolescence.  (

Varsity Blues



Napoleon Dynamite


Also, I really like this movie poster.  Well done, unknown designer.

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Three sentence movie reviews: Step Up

Having seen

Magic Mike

, I was aware that Channing Tatum can dance and rented this film for more evidence of the fact.  The plot was predictable, but I wasn’t watching it for the plot, so I can report that the acting was good, and the dancing was fabulous.  I also rarely see movies featuring children in foster care, and Channing Tatum played a nicely rounded foster kid.

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Three sentence movie reviews: She’s the Man

Due to the

Foam Run

and our timing not quite coming together, we missed seeing Portland Actors Ensemble’s production of

Twelfth Night

,* but handily had this adaptation at the ready.  Amanda Bynes’ comedy was quite broad throughout, which was annoying at first, but grew on me eventually. Surprisingly, Channing Tatum was quite good as Duke making this a great evening of movie “theater.”

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*Don’t worry, there are multiple performances and we will see it eventually.

Sourdough pancakes

I bought a sourdough starter with hopes of making my own whole wheat sourdough bread.  And other products.  Here’s my first attempt at pancakes.  I neglected to take any photos of the final product.  They were thinner than I would have liked, which is something that I can fix next time. They were a rainbow of brown hues, due to the fact that cooking pancakes in a cast iron pan involves a range of temperatures from “a bit too cold, still” to “darn it, this pan is much too hot.” 

Why I don’t watch the Olympics

Things I like about the Olympics:
Weird sports get their every-four-year moment in the sun.
It’s really cool, all those athletes coming together to compete.
I read somewhere that there is a lot of sex happening in the Olympic Village, given that there are a lot of people in peak physical condition who, once their events are over, spend time hooking up with other people in peak physical condition.  I find this fact delightful, and the reward an excellent payoff for all that boring training.

Things I absolutely cannot stand about the Olympics:

  • News organizations’ weird need to package every single athlete into a “top story line”
  • The annoying fixation on how many medals the US is going to win.
  • The “horrible anguish” the announcers launch into when someone who was thought to win gold “only” wins a silver medal.  They won a medal at the Olympics!  That’s a very cool thing, man.
  • The asinine commentary in general.
  • The fact that the events I want to watch are surrounded by 42,000 commercials, idiotic commentary, “heartwarming” stories, and events I could care less about.

Sadly, the things I cannot stand about the Olympics outweigh the things I like about them.  So I will not be watching the Olympics this year, but I send well wishes to all, especially that woman from Bulgaria who isn’t even going to place in the finals, but is going to have a lot of sex with a lot of different guys.  Well done, lady!

Three sentence movie reviews: 21 Jump Street

While the TV series I grew up with was a drama-fest, and this was a comedy, I still liked it.*  Though not as much as Matt who was set to “low chortle” for most of the movie.  This movie is worth seeing just for the cameos and also now that it is on DVD, you can see the deleted scenes, one of which (the discussion of the inappropriate nature of sleeping with one of the high school girls) was my favorite part of the movie.

*Favorite interchange:


-I’m wearing tights!  I can’t run!

-Well, I’m wearing skinny jeans and it’s the exact same thing!

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Also, a slight Channing Tatum obsessing uncovered this video which is amusing, though not hilarious, as the title overstates a bit.  I do feel bad for the reporter trying to get a story out of that interview. It’s eight minutes.  No commercials.

Essay: Older

Some years ago I remarked to a friend, “I thought getting older would mean my body would stay the same, but it would just be more wrinkly.  I didn’t realize my body would actually start breaking down.”  I was in my late 20s at the time and psoriasis had begun its march across my flesh.  But getting older—something we are all doing, even three-year-olds—has all sorts of surprises.

When I was sixteen and working in my first job at a tiny restaurant, I rang up a customer, and enquired how his day was.  “Fabulous!” was his reply.  He had just attended his twentieth high school reunion and had a blast.  From him I learned that, “your tenth, it’s okay, but people are still trying to make something of themselves.  By their twentieth, they’ve relaxed and are just fun to catch up with.”  I filed this away for that day in the far future when I would attend my twentieth reunion.  The far future has nearly arrived because my twentieth high school reunion is next year.
When I was 22, a newly minted college graduate, I moved to the big city and I landed a temping  job that first sent me to a posh private high school in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where I was to assist in the bookstore, selling books to the returning high school students.  I was young, but they were younger and I will never forget the realization that when they looked at me selling books in their bookstore, they saw an old person.  I was only five years older than some of
them, but I could see in their eyes that I had moved from their “part of our
group” classification to a different “old person” classification. Though, to be
fair, it could have just been an “old(er)” classification, at the time it felt like
the same thing.
This week I went for a drive and cycled through radio stations, singing along as I drove.  One of the stations was a classic rock station and not once did it play the classic rock I listened to during my adolescence: Led Zepplin, the Who, the Eagles. No, this station playlist consisted of, as they told me several times, “the
New Classic Rock.”  The new classic rock is what was the new music of my adolescence: Bon Jovi, Tesla, Guns & Roses.  There’s nothing like a marketing
scheme branding a seminal part of my youth as “classic” to mark the passage of
I have also recently had another realization.  After seeing Magic Mike, I was checking up on Channing Tatum on and I realized that all of the up-and-coming hunky stars are younger than me.  And not just by a year or two, or even the four years difference that separates the boyfriend and me.  Channing Tatum was born in 1980, the year I started Kindergarten.  Our age difference is enough that we wouldn’t have been in high school at the same time.  Chris Hemsworth?  Nine years younger.  Shia LaBeouf (not that I find him particularly
attractive) is twelve years younger.  If any of these dreamboats ever want to enter into a relationship with me I will have to probably explain a lot of things like the ‘84 Summer Olympics and the first term of Reagan.  They might not
even know that John Cougar and John Mellencamp are the same people.
And the thing is, I didn’t see it coming, though I should have.  When I was little, movie stars were old.  Harrison Ford?  Old.  Bill Murray and Dan Aykroyd? Old.
Richard Gere? Old.  I didn’t haveenough concept of age to know how old they were, I just put them in the rather broad “same age as my parents” category.*
Though actually, all of those actors except Harrison Ford are actually
younger than my parents. After years of leading men being old, there was a sudden transition when dreamy actors were just a bit older than me.  George Clooney would probably have to explain bits of 70s culture to me, but we could make it work. Actually, he’s 13 years older than me, and nearly the same age as Richard Geer, who I have in a completely different “old” category.
Then suddenly, actors in Hollywood were just a little bit older than me, if not the same age or a bit younger.  We could have gone to high school together.  Ethan Hawke and Joaquin Pheonix?  We’re pretty much the same age.  Joaquin Phoenix is two days younger than I am and I have liked him since “Space Camp” when he was Leaf Phoenix.  Ethan Hawke I’ve had my eye on since 1985’s the Explorers.  But let us go on.  Ben Affleck and Matt Damon?  Two and four years older, respectively. Edward Norton, six years older, Leonardo DiCaprio only two weeks younger than me.  Christian Bale is born in the same year. Mark Wahlberg is three years older.  We are in the same demographic group.  Theoretically, dating would not be a problem.  It was also exciting to watch someone my age
win an Oscar for best adapted screenplay, or be “King of the World.”  Once that begins to happen to people substantially younger than me, I foresee an old-lady grousing of “whippersnapper” and “upstart.”
The problem is that now if I like a breakout actor I probably have to face facts that he is too young for me to theoretically date.  I can follow his career, see his movies, sure, but it is more like a nephew or a favorite neighbor boy.  We did not come up at the same time and we were not shaped by the same things. What’s more, I have to face the realization that actors in my age demographic are not the young up-and-coming actors any longer, which means that I am past up-and-coming, myself.  I do not really need to up-and-come, but it is a little odd to be in the “older, established” category so suddenly and when I do not really feel established.
This is only the beginning.  Soon, more and more actors making a name for themselves will be born when I was in fourth grade, then junior high school and eventually high school.  After that they will all be in the “I’m old enough to be their mother” category which just leaves me with an “ew” feeling should my liking turn into movie crush.
And actresses?  In about four years, the few actresses my age still acting will have shuffled off to the over-40 actresses retirement home.  I will see them now and then playing the mother of someone nine years younger than they are** and then now and then in their 50s playing a grandmotherly sort.  But that’s an entirely different essay.
*This category is so broad for children it makes the early elementary school students I work with fun to question.  When I ask them how old they think I am sometimes they come back with an incredibly unrealistic answer of “seventeen” and sometimes they completely overshoot and go with “fifty-six.”  Every once in a while they hit the “just a bit younger” sweet spot which gives me an odd feeling of elation that is entirely out of proportion to the random nature of their answers.
**The Graduate reference

Three sentence movie reviews: Downton Abbey Season II

O! the gushing emails I wrote and conversations I had while watching this season!  How can the next season be any better than this one?  I like this show so much I’m going to watch it in “real time,” something I haven’t done since West Wing, season 3.