Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Shutter Island

There's something unusual -- something barely noticeable -- about Shutter Island that sorta got under my skin and wouldn't ease up.

It was the look of the flick. During the first two hours, the cinematography is a real clue to the puzzle presented by this psychological thriller and crime story.

The light is unusual, the colors a bit too thick.

At first I guessed this was due to the story being set in the 1950s. DiCaprio would be doing a Cagney impression, I reasoned, with lots of long drags off a smoke and uses of the phrase: "Yeah, that's right. Ya see!"

But I was wrong.

Scorsese's flick, in which U.S. Marshal Teddy Daniels investigates the disappearance of a psychiatric patient from an institution, is more complex and less obvious that one might anticipate. DiCaprio is fine, and co-star Mark Ruffalo is (as usual) terrific. But it's the feel of this movie, highlighted by Scorsese's photographic style, that makes this picture worth seeing.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Shave And A Haircut

Bob Townsend, of Townsend's Barber Shop in Summersville, West Virginia, first cut my hair sometime around 1969. I was too little to fit into the chair, so Bob put a board across the chair arms for me to sit on. I remember that first professional haircut; the smell of the shop, the buzzing around my ears and the fear Bob was gonna clip my ears with his scissors made it memorable.

I was a regular at Townsends Barber Shop through my early 30s, sometimes driving 100 miles every couple of months for a trim. Brad Hughart, Bob's son-in-law and the shop co-owner began cutting my hair during my teen years. Brad was younger, and seemed more in tune with styles for young guys.

My 15-year-old self really dug the way he could cut some bangs.

Driving from Huntington, West Virginia to Summersville, West Virginia was too much of a chore in my mid-30s, even for a haircut that cost $5. So during that time I found a stylist closer to home. There's a big difference between a barber and a stylist.

The difference isn't so much skill as it is ego.

Last Saturday I made the trip back to Summersville, where my son Jaden experienced his first Townsend Barber Shop cut. For some reason I was overwhelmed with nostalgia, and took a picture to memorialize the event.

Jaden was a bit annoyed, but Brad understood.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Happy Birthday To Me

At this rate, I'm not sure I'll make it to 46.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Iron Man 2

It's just natural to compare a sequel to the original movie on which it is based. Iron Man, in 2008, was a hit for several reasons, but mostly for the amazing on-screen presence of Robert Downey, Jr. His Tony Stark was confident, sexy, arrogant and funny--and we loved it! The audience was surprised a comic book movie about a guy in clunky body armor could be so well made, and so enjoyable to watch.

Iron Man transcended the comic book movie genre.

Iron Man 2 fits right in.

The sequel feels a little full of itself, as if it's still riding the success of Iron Man. The story, which is pretty forgettable, takes too many shortcuts and too much liberty with the characters to pull off a solid production. Watching Stark fight for his life in the first flick is compelling; seeing him gorging on donuts during an existential funk is simply pretentious.

Iron Man 2 has terrific action and a great deal of drama. But there is little foundation on which to build the story. It's a comic book movie, after all.

I'd forgotten.

Friday, May 07, 2010

Date Night

"Promise me we won't balance out the room when we get old."

She said it while we cuddled on the love seat, watching some movie on VHS and sharing a Pepsi. We wore out that love seat while watching a lotta flicks. And for years, I kept my promise; we weren't goofy-eyed-in-love all the time, but we enjoyed being next to each other. We never sat too far apart.

"Never. That will never be us."

Slowly, and without even realizing it, that became us. I'd come home tired from work, wrestle with the kids then hit the couch for some R & R. She'd stay on the love seat, several feet away. She worked from home, so she was always at the office. I'd crash, she'd work.

Days turned into years.

The plot of Date Night was thin, but Steve Carell and Tina Fey were funny and the jokes made me guffaw. But I saw something of my own life in the movie: the routine, the lack of spontaneity, the feeling of growing old and settling in. It -- along with a really hot Mark Wahlberg--was all there.

All too familiar.

Somehow, that's gotta change. My wife deserves better.

And so do I.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Cracked Shakes Up Comics

The coolest mag on Earth points out the 5 Most Unintentionally Offensive Comic Book Characters.

See the list here.

Monday, May 03, 2010


Much was made over Roger Ebert's rant on Kick-Ass, particularly his distaste for the excessive violence carried out by Hit Girl (Chloƫ Grace Moretz), and her father, Big Daddy (Nicolas Cage). That Moretz, who seems all of eleven years old, regularly uses profanity that make grown men blush likely played a role in Ebert's dislike for the film, too.

But I think Ebert's age is showing in his opinion on this film.

Kick-Ass serves as a voice for American teens who find themselves becoming more isolated from the previous generation, and more apathetic as a result. They search for life meaning in the post-Baby Boom era, and what they're finding looks and feels different than it did to those of us over the age of 20. Dave Lizewski (played wonderfully by Aaron Johnson) invents Kick-Ass because he's tired of feeling helpless and insecure about his future. He's tired of the disconnect that exists in his community. Dave just wants to make a difference.

When I felt that way back in the 80s, I helped pick up litter on the Interstate. Kids in this movie fight crime and kill bad guys. It's almost the same thing.

Maybe Ebert forgets what's it like to be a kid who wants to do more . . . more with his life, more for his community, more to help find a girlfriend. But I know Ebert doesn't understand what it's like to be a kid who wants to do more in the year 2010.

It's a different generation, Pops. You gotta move over.

Sunday, May 02, 2010


Friday, 10:00pm

Mrs. Film Geek: "Hey, wanna watch Avatar? Even though this bonus footage version is 185 minutes long, we have the time, huh? We'll sleep in tomorrow."

Me: "Sure, turn the crank on the DVD player and I'll get the popcorn."

Friday, 10:20pm

Me: "Wow, the visuals in this flick are incredible, eh? I'm not sure I've ever seen anything like it. And the story is sort of interesting."

Mrs. Film Geek: "Yeah, the story's OK. But that is some vivid blue."

Friday, 11:15pm

Me: "I'm gonna go get more popcorn. Need anything?"

Mrs. Film Geek: "Nope. But you want me to pause it until you get back?"

Me: "Nah, I'll catch up when I get back. The story's not that hard to follow."

Saturday: 12:10am

Me: "Jesus, how long can this movie go on? We get it! We get the analogies and the metaphors. Wrap this baby up!"

Saturday, 12:25am

Mrs. Film Geek: : "Hey, turn on your side a bit, you're snoring is keeping me from hearing the dialogue."

Me: "Zzzzzzzzzzzz..."