The Courier | ★★★★★★★★☆☆





I lived through the Cuban Missile Crisis in my early teens. Like most people, I hadn't a clue about what was going on in the world of international covert operations. This movie is about one of those ops.

This 2021 true-life spy thriller tells the story of British businessman Greville Wynne, played by Benedict Cumberbatch, who was recruited into covert service to transport Russian intelligence.

As the story darkens the brightness, and the bravery, of Mr Wynne shines. In a gutsy display of loyalty across enemy lines, he puts everything on the line. His quiet courage was inspiring.

I found the movie to be impactful. I liked it and, on a scale of ten, give it ★★★★★★★★☆☆.


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Beirut | ★★★★★★★★☆☆




John Hamm, of Mad Men fame, brings a great portrayal of a man whose life fell apart when he was thirty. Ten years later he is called back to the city of his devastation to help an old friend. He really does not want to go but goes anyway. The movie is about his return and finding closure when he does.

I found the movie to be suspenseful. The story was really good. The before and after images of Beirut were heartbreaking. The scenes in this 2018 movie were a lot like what we are seeing in Ukraine these days. War is hell and lives are destroyed in many ways. I liked this flick and, on a scale of ten, give it ★★★★★★★★☆☆.
 
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CODA | ★★★★★★★★★☆




Emilia Jones, Troy Kotsur, Marlee Matlin and Daniel Durant in CODA

CODA (Child Of Deaf Adults) is first and foremost a thumbnail of what it is like for a deaf family living in a hearing community. And what it is like for the youngest member of the family, the only hearing member, to bear the responsibility of being the voice for the family.

I really liked the way that the family dynamics developed. The familial love and the care was endearing. The story really showed the challenges and sacrifices that parents and kids make for each other. I loved the acting and the casting of three deaf actors in supporting roles.

I found the movie heartwarming. The way that the story unfolded was thoughtful and realistic. It helped me to better understand the challenges of the deaf and how the world is not friendly to people who are different. It is a great movie to watch as a family.  I really liked it and, on a scale of ten, give it ★★★★★★★★★☆.
 

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A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood | ★★★★★★★★☆☆



This movie surprised me. It was not so much about the TV persona of Mr Rogers but about the healing power of relationships. It is based on the true story of a real-life friendship between Fred Rogers and journalist Lloyd Vogel. 

I really liked the vulnerable way that the co-stars, Tom Hanks and Matthew Rhys, embraced their characters. The roles gave us a peek into way that faith and love can affect our lives. The story was heartwarming and really spoke to me.

The movie was not so much of a biopic but a glimpse into how Fred Rogers lived and loved. It was more of a story of how a hurting man found healing. I really liked this inspiring flick and, on a scale of ten, give it ★★★★★★★★☆☆.


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love and time



I like this quote from Merton, a Catholic monk.
Even so. I wonder. As we all have a limited amount of time.
Is it possible to love someone and not give them a bit of your time?

I think that love and time are linked together.
We express our love by spending time.
If we love baseball we will spend our days watching it.

So how do you deem someone worthy of your time (i.e. love)?
Especially if you think of loving someone as spending time with them.
Is it possible to separate the giving of love and giving of time?

 



senior reflections



A friend posted these on Facebook.  The source is unknown but said to be over 70 years of age.
  1. After loving my parents, my siblings, my spouse, my children and my friends, I have now startedloving myself.
  2. I have realized that I am not “Atlas”. The world does not rest on my shoulders.
  3. I have stopped bargaining with vegetable & fruit vendors. A few pennies more is not going to break me, but it might help the poor fellow save for his daughter’s school fees.
  4. I leave my waitress a big tip. The extra money might bring a smile to her face. She is toiling much harder for a living than I am.
  5. I stopped telling the elderly that they've already narrated that story many times. The story makes them walk down memory lane & relive their past.
  6. I have learned not to correct people even when I know they are wrong. The onus of making everyone perfect is not on me. Peace is more precious than perfection.
  7. I give compliments freely and generously. Compliments are a mood enhancer not only for the recipient but also for me. And a small tip for the recipient of a compliment, never, NEVER turn it down, just say "Thank You.”
  8. I have learned not to bother about a crease or a spot on my shirt. Personality speaks louder than appearances.
  9. I walk away from people who don't value me. They might not know my worth, but I do.
  10. I remain cool when someone plays dirty to outrun me in the rat race. I am not a rat and neither am I in any race.
  11. I am learning not to be embarrassed by my emotions. It’s my emotions that make me human.
  12. I have learned that it's better to drop the ego than to break a relationship. My ego will keep me aloof, whereas, with relationships, I will never be alone.
  13. I have learned to live each day as if it's the last. After all, it might be the last.
  14. I am doing what makes me happy. I am responsible for my happiness, and I owe it to myself. Happiness is a choice. You can be happy at any time, just choose to be!


Nomadland | ★★★★★★★★★★



This movie touched me at a deep level. Maybe it is just timing? Perhaps it is because I resonated with so many characters who were people, like me, in their 'senior years'. Or maybe it is because I live in an urban community where houselessness is epidemic. I am not sure why but Nomadland really moved me like few movies ever have.

The story revolves around Fern, a senior citizen type person, who has experienced great loss. Her husband has recently died. Her town has died - lost their zip code and became a ghost town. The factory closed and her job is gone. She lost her house and is now living in a van.

As she travels about the country she encounters many who, like her, are living on the road in RVs, vans and trailers. These folks are loving people who, in their deep pain, always seem to be caring, giving, loving and helping. Their compassion for each other affected me. I longed to know them.

Frances McDormand, the actress who played Fern, was simply amazing. She has already won a Golden Glode for her performance and she has to be a lock for the Oscar. Her performance was one of the best that I have ever witnessed. She played Fern with beautiful tenderness and transparent brokenness.

Hard to know what else to say. I think that some might see it as a downer - for sure it is not sushine and roses. Yet some I think will be touched, as I was, by the honest portrayal of this hidden part of America. I heartily recommend Nomadland to you. Beware though. Watching it might change your life.

The movie overwhelmed me and, on a scale of ten, give it ★★★★★★★★★★.


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The Trial of the Chicago Seven | ★★★★★★★★☆☆



This is the story of 7 people on trial stemming from various charges surrounding the protests at the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago, Illinois. You may enjoy it if, like me, you are a fan of courtroom dramas. I remember that turbulent time and honestly I had not viewed any of the defendants in positive light at all. In that sense I found the movie to be a bit educational. Here are a few quotes from it.

We want to underscore again, that we’re coming to Chicago peacefully, but whether we’re given permits or not, we’re coming. -Tom Hayden

We carried certain ideas across state lines. Not machine guns or drugs or little girls. Ideas. When we crossed from New York to New Jersey to Pennsylvania to Ohio to Illinois, we had certain ideas. And for that, we were gassed, beaten, arrested, and put on trial. -Abbie Hoffman

This is the Academy Awards of protests and as far as I'm concerned it's an honor just to be nominated. -John Froines

The Riots Were Started By The Chicago Police Department. -Ramsey Clark, former US Attorney General

I'm the head of the Black Panthers, Sondra. When the hell am I not gonna be in trouble? -Bobby Seale

There are civil trials, and there are criminal trials. There's no such thing as a political trial. -William Kunstler

It's almost hard to believe the seven of us weren't able to end a war. -Lee Weiner

Since This Trial Began, 4,752 Us Troops Have Been Killed In Vietnam. -Tom Hayden

Found the movie to be thought provoking. I liked it and, on a scale of ten, give it ★★★★★★★★☆☆.
 

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The White Tiger | ★★★★★★★★☆☆



This is a dark movie with dark themes and dark characters. It showcases the hopelessness of growing up in the poorest areas of India where, as the main character says, there are two visible castes - “men with big bellies, and men with small bellies”. The film is a story about the haves and the have-nots.

The way that the poor live in India was absolutely heartbreaking but the resiliency of Balram Halwai, the lead character played wonderfully by Adarsh Gourav, was darkly beautiful. Balram was the rare white tiger of the story - a rare Indian who broke the rules, and the law, to succeed.

Though the story, from the novel of the same name, is fictional, I think that the theme is a relevant one. Images of coercion and manipulation by the powerful over the powerless is compelling. I think that it could be a movie that awakens hearts and minds to the suffering of the poor among us.

I liked the movie and, on a scale of ten, give it ★★★★★★★★☆☆.
 

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prayer and spirituality



The word “prayer” has often been trivialized by making it into a way of getting what we want. But I use “prayer” as the umbrella word for any interior journeys or practices that allow you to experience faith, hope, and love within yourself. It is not a technique for getting things, a pious exercise that somehow makes God happy, or a requirement for entry into heaven. It is much more like practicing heaven now.

Such prayer, such seeing, takes away your anxiety for figuring it all out fully for yourself, or needing to be right about your formulations. At this point, God becomes more a verb than a noun, more a process than a conclusion, more an experience than a dogma, more a personal relationship than an idea. There is Someone dancing with you, and you are not afraid of making mistakes. -Richard Rohr


Hillbilly Elegy | ★★★★★★★★☆☆




A friend disliked this one and I almost skipped it. Glad that I watched it. I found the story about a young boy's experiences growing up in a dysfunctional family both refreshing and depressing. 

I thought that the performances by a-lister actresses were dwarfed by the actual story. I found the plot from the memoir by JD Vance (nicely portrayed by Gabriel Basso) to be engaging and endearing. 

You might like Elegy if you enjoy watching movies with interesting characters and challenging themes. I liked the movie and, on a scale of ten, give it ★★★★★★★★☆☆.
 
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Crip Camp | ★★★★★★★★★★




I am really not a fan of documentaries so I was not sure if I was up for a dry telling of facts - Crip Camp is not such a film. Full disclosure, my wife has used a wheelchair since 2007. So I had more than a casual interest in the movie and the message. The story chronicles the journey of a group of disabled people from their beginnings at Camp Jened, a summer camp for people with disabilities in upstate New York, to the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act. I think that these quotes from the movie speaks to the heart of its message.
“I wanted to be part of the world but I didn’t see anyone like me in it.” – Jimmy Lebrecht 
“I don’t think I felt, really, shame about my disability. What I felt more was exclusion.” – Judith Heumann 
“The world doesn’t want us around and wants us dead. We live with that reality, so there’s always gonna be, uh, ‘Am I gonna survive? Am I gonna push back? Am I gonna fight to be here?’ that’s always true.” – Corbett O’Toole 
“If I have to feel thankful about an accessible bathroom, when am I ever gonna be equal in the community?” – Judith Huemann 
“The ADA was a wonderful achievement. But it was only the tip of the iceberg. You can pass a law but until you can change society’s attitudes, that law won’t mean much.” – Denise Sherer Jacobson
Not sure what you will think of the movie. Might get you a bit out of your comfort zone. Then again, it might open up your eyes, as mine were opened, to the struggle and courage that so many disabled folks have showed. Their sit-in the the HEW headquarters in San Francisco was so inspirational. Watching their long journey from camp in the 1970s to adulthood was beyond inspirational.

I loved the movie and, on a scale of ten, give it ★★★★★★★★★★.


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the midnight sky | ☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆



This is one of the worst movies I have ever seen. 
A few IMDb review titles (that I saw too late) with my commentary:

  + 2020. The Movie. || definitely sums up the year of covid
  + Insult to General Intelligence || illogical in a bizarre sort of way
  + Nothing Happens. Ever. || seems to drone on forever
  + Appalling Waste of Time || even for a retired person
  + Clooney Cures Insomnia || nothing there to keep you awake
  + A Flaming Pile of Pointless Drivel || just rambled on and on
  + Robinson Clooney || Young Crusoe had more sense that Augustine 
  + I like him in ER. That is all. || have never seen ER but I agree
  + I love Clooney...But this...Why? || Why could be the plotline

I really disliked the movie and, on a scale of ten, give it zero stars.
 
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The 2020 Binge Report



My binging of all things Netflix and Amazon Prime kicked into high gear earlier this year when my wife was quarantined in a nursing facility for 7 weeks. Here are a few thoughts, and some feedback, on the things that I binged.

In the Star Trek Universe, I watched a lot of Trek movies. Always enjoy the newer Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto versions of the movie franchise. Here are a few shows that I watched.

👍 Enterprise - a great 4 season prequel to the series

👎 Picard - a really disappointing and maudlin sequel for TNG fans 

👍👍 Discovery - a great series featuring a few of the original characters.

Here is my non-trek binge list.

👍 ALF - we have enjoyed working our way through this heartwarmingly funny 80s classic

👍 Alias - 5 seasons of action filled espionage - and Rambaldi!

👍 The Crown - the season four take on the Royals is troubling on so many levels

👎 Firefly - Nathan Fillion before Castle as a spaceship captain

👍 Halt and Catch Fire - great take on the beginnings of PCs, networks & the web

👍👍 Hanna - Ann and I enjoyed watching two seasons of teenage spydom together

👍 House MD - 8 seasons of orneriness got me through Ann's quarantine

👍 Kingdom -  a mostly good, but racy, mixed martial arts cage fighting series 

👍 Law and Order SVU - more like the original Law and Order than I thought

👍 The Mandalorian - guess I am a sucker for Baby Yoda, or whoever he is.

👍👍 The Mentalist - one of the best tv detective series ever made

👍👍 The Queens Gambit - I loved this take on a female Bobby Fischer

👎 Watchmen on HBO - a really confusing take on the comics

Apart from those things, this retired guy enjoys binging on HGTV and the Food Network. How about you?