A Little Gem of a Movie…..

A recent tweet I saw reminded me of a small, but intriguing movie, “Mindwalk”, done in 1990 or 1991. It isn’t likely to show up on cable, but can be found on Amazon, only in VHS. I’m not familiar enough with Hulu and Netflix to know if you can find it through them.

The tweet showed a great photo of Mont Saint Michele, a spectacular place to visit in France. For those who haven’t been there, it was a “tidal island” that could only be accessed by land for a certain number of hours when the tide was low enough. The first buildings went in around the 9th or 10th century and then others followed over time, to include a huge abbey. The village grew to a degree and ultimately became a tourist destination. During the peak of tourist season, it’s rather bustling, but in off-season, it’s very easy to be out at night and have a sense of what it must have been like long ago before there were crowds. Almost a dozen years ago, the French government set into motion a major project to build a bridge and relocate the car park so it is truly an island again.

Anyway, the movie is superbly cast with only three primary characters: Liv Ullman, Sam Waterston, and John Hurt. Ullman, a physicist, has withdrawn to live on the island (although I think her daughter is there, too). Waterston, an American politician, has lost a election and his ex-pat friend, Hurt, invites him to come to France for a bit and they travel to Mont Saint Michel. The trio meets and through the day and into the evening, they engage in conversations that become increasingly philosophical amid the backdrop of this extraordinary place. It is a quiet, wonderful little movie that is definitely one of those where, “Everyone talks a lot”, as our son used to say when he was about six. While intense emotions do come into play, they are not the rancorous sort that leaves you feeling drained. Although it is not a light movie, for us, it was thoroughly enjoyable.


The Darker Role….

I caught the last part of “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance” the other day and it caused me to reflect on that as a different kind of role for John Wayne. Not of him as a rough-tough-don’t-mess-with-me cowboy, but also not as the unequivocal good guy in the white hat. I’m not certain that I saw every single John Wayne movie, but certainly many of them whether he played cowboy, military man, or detective. Even though there weren’t too many comedies along the way in his career, I still get a chuckle from “McClintock” and “Eldorado” is sprinkled with humorous segments.

I don’t know enough about the background of the movie to know how Wayne was approached about the role. Perhaps the fact the true “guy in the white hat” (Jimmy Stewart) was unable to adequately cope with the brutish Liberty Valance (Lee Marvin) appealed to Wayne. I also don’t recall why Wayne’s character was willing to let Valance bully people since there were a number of tough-guy roles in Wayne’s movies where he would always plan to take on the bad guy and simply had to find a way to bring about the bad guy’s demise. Not “getting the girl” was another deviation from so many of this movies. The sacrifice Wayne makes to allow the woman he has loved and planned to marry was a powerful theme of how love triangles play out with little chance of all three individuals coming away happy.

The broader theme of how force can sometimes only be met with greater force was artfully done. Despite the fact Stewart made the decision to confront Valance in the violent way he had declared he wouldn’t do, he was able to believe somehow he had miraculously prevailed. Having thought he had actually killed Valance caused him guilt which he then wrestled with. Wayne’s choice in revealing the truth to Stewart was initially rejected and then Stewart accepted perpetuating the lie of the killing was the correct thing to do under the circumstances. The complexities of the movie can still generate philosophical discussions.


Science and Whimsy…

Okay, I have a great deal of respect for actual science and nothing short of contempt for “junk science”, but that is not the point of the post. We watch a lot of the “Deep Space Secrets” and “How the Universe Works” on cable because my husband has always had a fascination with space and had I been better at math and science, I might have veered toward astronomy although maybe more to engineering. Anyway, notwithstanding my respect, there are moments when I do approach science with a sense of whimsy. There have been a number of episodes about probes and looks at Pluto and what fascinating things they are discovering. Oh yeah? Well you guys were the same ones who “demoted ” Pluto from being a planet and now you want to be all amazed by it. I mean, is that fair? Besides, some of us didn’t care about your pronouncement. I grew up with Pluto as a planet and by golly, I’m not going to let some revised measurement change that.

There was a cute movie several years ago, “The Englishman Who Went Up A Hill But Came Down A Mountain”, with a similar theme. There was a small village in Wales quite proud of their mountain. I don’t recall exactly why, but an English cartographer came to the village for some reason and patiently explained it wasn’t really a mountain because it was a certain number of feet too short. After quite a bit of back and forth and naturally the potential for romance and a collection of quirky characters, the village came up with the plan to move enough earth to achieve the required extra footage. The ensuing activities and ending were as delightful as predictable.

So, the universe will not come to harm if I choose to continue to refer to Pluto as a planet and since I’m not a scientist, I can’t even have my credentials threatened. And for the record, I’m okay with still wanting Nessie to be real.

Memorable Movie Lines….

Hubby made the comment recently that he thought the most lines routinely quoted were from “Princess Bride”. I quickly pointed out, “Casablanca”. He countered with if you ask Millennials, they wouldn’t know about it. Hmmm, he may have had me there. I truly don’t  know how many younger generation have watched “Casablanca”. First of all, I don’t know how often they watch black and white movies. Nor do I know if, of those, WWII ones are of much interest. Not that it was precisely a war movie. Anyway, there are fabulous lines from both those movies that really have made their way into many conversations.

“We need a bigger boat” and “I’ll be back” are certainly two others. The whole Dirty Harry thing of “Do you feel lucky?” and “Go ahead and make my day” count. “Failure is not an option” has to get some votes and even though it isn’t a whole line, “the right stuff” was picked up quickly. .There are definitely some lesser known ones that have always resonated with me when it comes to philosophy. Two were from “The Competition” when Richard Dreyfuss was really young. He and Amy Irving were in an intense piano competition. Winning for her would be the high point of many years of hard work in her privileged life. Winning for him would be a career launch out of his lower middle class life where he had to struggle to fit piano time in. They of course became interested in each other providing the necessary complication to the movie. At one point, as Irving debated about deliberately losing since she could compete in a later year, her mentor and teacher said something like, “Of course, and when it is your final year, some other pianist will step aside and let you win because life is so fair and equitable.” Since it’s possible you will actually watch the movie some day, I won’t give the other quote because it would be a spoiler.

So, how about it? Favorites movie quotes?

Finally Underwater…..

I did intend to post yesterday, but it was pretty hectic and today has been about the same. Tomorrow will be a bit worse and Thursday and Friday have the potential to be fairly normal. That would mean busy without being totally jammed.

Anyway, I in fact got to spend Easter diving. We went to one of the more distant reefs due to better visibility so it was a bit longer of a day and since Hubby was with students, the nice leisurely lunch we try to have wasn’t in the cards. However, conditions on the reefs were good and we saw some of my favorites like the trunk fish in the photo along with a decent size stingray,  a couple of nurse sharks and a very large green eel as well as some fairly large groupers. I was looking at one of the groupers under a ledge and realized the eel was in with him. The other divers were close enough to let me get their attention and I backed out of the way for them to get a good look. Hubby used his light since it was a bit dim and by moving the light around, the eel moved some, too. Although it didn’t come out from under the ledge, everyone got a nice view. On the other end of the scale, I found a tiny shrimp tucked away and the bright blue Chromis I enjoy aren’t much bigger than a thumb. I spotted all four of the most common angelfish – queen, French, gray, and rock beauty. There are allegedly blue angels around and are almost never seen.

I really am going to try to go one more time in April to make up for not going at all in March. As we know, it will remain to be seen if that works out.

Those Amazing Leaps…..

Our granddaughter was three on Tuesday and along with a growth spurt is also the language spurt as in a greater ability to have an actual conversation. Not that high level discourse is around the corner, but there can now be a greater exchange where everyone at least understands what words are being said. The telephone call we were all finally able to squeeze in between hectic schedules included an update on having cupcakes and taking pictures with Mommy.

These are the leaps for parents when you suddenly wonder how did three years go by and you aren’t quite yet aware there will be no slowing down the process. Oh sure, there will still be the times when you aren’t completely communicating because articulating certain emotions/feelings are complex. Back when I was working on the book, A Parent’s Guide To Business Travel   I was startled when teenage son let me in on some concerns he’d had as a child when I would leave for trips. We always discussed my travel, about how I would miss him, when I would be coming back, etc. It never occurred to me he would think my travel was somehow a factor of wanting a break from him. When I expressed my surprise, his response was essentially, “Hey when you’re a little kid, you think about stuff like that. You don’t understand it until later.”

Age three is also when you really have the chance to build the concepts of sharing and respecting other people. That does take a while, but laying the foundation is important. And then of course, there is likely to be the moment when words you wish didn’t pop out of little mouths do because they hear, “Oh sh—, or whatever when you think they aren’t listening. If you’re lucky, having that first conversations about “bad words” will take place in private and not in the presence of strangers.

Star Wars Update…..

Our son is a big time Star Wars fan – it was one of the first non-animated movies he watched at home (and watched many times) and “Return of the Jedi” was the first movie he saw in a theater. He’s read many (if not all) of the books and when they were here last week, we kept granddaughter while they went to see “The Last Jedi”. Hubby had been wanting to see it so we did a matinee on Wed. It is a long movie of almost three hours and definitely has some dark tones. We do not in general go to the theater and make exceptions for the “big screen” pictures. All the special effects in these movies puts them into that category and you do get an eyeful as well as “earful” with swooping crafts and lots of explosions.

I won’t do a spoiler in case someone reading this hasn’t seen the movie yet and plans to. It is interesting though to see the characters who were so very young in the original as they have aged. Naturally they’ve added new young actors in different roles to keep a balance. I don’t have the faintest notion of how many more of these there are supposed to be, but there is one about Hans Solo scheduled for the summer. I’m not sure of the concept and will no doubt hear more about it from my friends and family who are fans.


Not A Holiday Movie….

As much as I love a couple of the holiday movies and have posted about them in the past, the other day, the original “True Grit” was on. It was such a quintessential John Wayne role in his older years and while there are only a few lines I really enjoy, there is one scene in particular I have quoted from for a variety of situations. In the event someone hasn’t seen the movie or it’s been quite some time, a very young Robert Duvall is bad guy Ned Pepper. He has a small gang and a young girl, Maddie (Kim Darby), has engaged the services of the older, very gruff Marshall Rooster Cogburn (John Wayne) to help bring Pepper to justice. Much of the story line is about having adequate True Grit to handle someone like Pepper and his gang and the unlikely pairing of Maddie and Cogburn. Cogburn has a patch over one eye, a fondness for whiskey and few kind words for anyone.The duo becomes a trio when Glenn Campbell joins them as a Texas Ranger also on the trail. There are of course many challenges to face.

Deep into the movie, Cogburn is on horseback across a meadow from Ned Pepper and three of his cohorts, also on horseback. Pepper had previously kidnapped Maddie and was using her as a bargaining chip to get away. In learning Maddie is safe, Pepper makes the case Cogburn should move aside because one against four isn’t good odds and the girl is okay. Pepper calls out, “What are your intentions?”

“I am to kill you in one minute or take you back to Fort Smith to hang at Judge (something or other)’s convenience. What do you have to say to that?”

“I call that bold talk for a one-eyed, fat man.”

Cogburn sits straighter in his saddle, draws a second gun and shouts, “Fill your hand you son-of-_____!”, and charges forward.

It’s not a totally happy ending which I won’t get into, but there have been times in my career or other endeavors when I have made decisions to tackle something that falls into the category of, “bold talk for a one-eyed fat man”. And there were times when the odds were not favorable and things didn’t work out well. In other cases it did. The words, however, have held special meaning since I saw the movie all those years ago.

“What You’re Telling Me Is Impossible”…..

Musing content ahead.  We all make mistakes at times and most of us form opinions that may also turn out to be incorrect because the source we used to form that opinion was flawed in some way. Those are errors we can acknowledge and learn from; it’s part of maturing. On the other hand, many of us have known individuals who hate to admit mistakes and may try to slide responsibility to others. When someone you are supposed to be able to trust lies to you repeatedly, that is another category.

The movie, “Shattered Glass”, is based on a real-life situation of a young reporter for a very prestigious magazine who wanted to be a star. Being in a deadline-driven profession, especially when you have many competitors, comes with a great deal of stress. Maybe this young man simply reacted to a stress event the first time he fabricated part of a story. The movie doesn’t go into that aspect. There was a change of editors at the magazine and the young man in question belonged to a core of writers who were loyal to the previous editor. So, when the initial allegations were made that the young man had seriously erred in an article that was published, most people in the magazine thought it was a jab from the new editor. As it turns out in the course of the movie, the young man had fabricated at least part of more than half the articles he’d written to include during the tenure of the previous editor. One of the senior editors who was refusing to believe they could have all been fooled by him was finally forced to acknowledge the depth of betrayal. When asked why she couldn’t see it, her response was, “Because what you’re telling me is impossible.”  Sadly, we, like those in the movie, can occasionally encounter individuals who for reasons of ambition, or a need for attention, or malice, or other motive will  lie skillfully and repeatedly. I hope you don’t ever have to deal with it, but should you be in such a situation, be willing to accept the possibility.

Headed Home….

If you have a long layover, Atlanta is a good airport to be in. I haven’t checked the flight status yet, but so far it appears there are no delays. It’s been a good trip, but I’m ready to get home. Of course as it turns out, I am dealing with a couple of issues that have required my attention and I have to follow-up with as soon as I get home. Neither is a good situation, and yet, one of the reasons I am involved with the groups I am is because I bring problem solving skills. Therefore, when we have a problem, my brain does kick into gear. Anyway, that’s not the point of this post.

It’s been a productive trip and on the flight from Milwaukee there was a father and son who apparently booked late. They had to be in separate seats, both a middle and one in front of the other. As the dad was trying to decide who would be in which seat, I smiled and said, “I’ll take care of him if you’d like. It’s been a while since I’ve done this, but I remember how.” He gave me a grateful look and the boy sat next to me. He was incredibly polite and six years old. As it turned out, he did not have a pair of earphones and I had some in my purse. He wanted to watch the Lego Batman movie (he’d only seen it once) and I asked his dad if it would be okay for me to give him mine. It was, and when the service cart came around, the boy asked for apple juice and granola bar rather than soda and cookies. It was a pleasure to see and then as we landed, I watched the dad politely offer to take carry-on luggage down for a woman and gesture for her to precede them into the aisle.  The boy obviously had a good role model.

I’m keeping my fingers crossed for the last leg home and will check back in with a report tomorrow.