Tale of a Movie Critic

For many years, the city in which I live hosted a film festival. Actually, it hosts several,  but the most established one was created and run by a friend of my husband. Several larger cities tried to “buy” it from the founder, but he wouldn’t give it up. The festival featured old movies. It drew a wide range of people from all over the world, including a Famous Movie  Critic. My husband owned several books by this movie critic, who also had his own syndicated TV program. Several people who contributed to his books also attended the festival. While I never met the Famous Movie Critic, I did become friends with the others. We went to baseball games together.

My husband always attended the film festival either alone or with his friends, while I stayed home and did the solo parent thing.

One evening, the children and I were on a quest for saxophone reeds when my cell phone–a very early version of one–rang. This was before talking on a cell phone was illegal in this state. It was my husband. “Famous Movie Critic wants the Turkey Buffet, and I can’t remember how to get there.” My husband’s sense of direction does sometimes leave much to be desired.

“Where are you?” I asked.

“In my car with Famous Movie Critic. I’m using Contributor’s cell phone.”

Wonderful. I’m in rush-hour traffic with our children in my car, the music store where I hoped to buy saxophone reeds was closing soon, and I’m supposed to give directions to a restaurant my husband should know how to find when he didn’t even know where he was. This restaurant was not difficult to find: the Interstate to the correct exit, then turn left at the end of ramp, then right at the next traffic light.

We managed to get everything straightened out, including the sax reeds. Famous Movie Critic got his Turkey Buffet. My husband got a tale to tell about how he got lost with Famous Movie Critic.

 

Capitol Theatre Restoration

My husband and I are “friends” of a 1928 movie house in a nearby city. TV Stevie has attended their annual film festival since its inception. I started attending with him several years ago.

Due to the pandemic, the 2020 festival was postponed for a year.

A year off, right? Nope.

Using a $2.5 million dollar grant from the state, theater management used the “closed” time to renovate the theater to its 1939  appearance.  1939 was the year the theater received its original face lift. The result is stunning.

Gone are the white paddle fans someone installed on ceiling, along with the peeling paint & plaster. The hand-painted fabric wall covering is still in the process of being restored by a local artist and her paint brushes. The seats have been reupholstered in the same fabric used in 1939. Even the carpeting has been replaced by new carpeting remade to the original 1939 specifications by the same company. The lights in the overhead dome have been repaired.  I list only a few of the many refreshed items.

The original 1928 Moeller theatre organ also got an overhaul.

When we attended the grand reopening of the theatre back in July, I had a chance to really listen and see the organist, David Peckham, in action. Always before, the organ was the accompaniment to a movie or was played during intermissions during the festival. At the grand reopening, there was a concert to show off the organ. The spotlight was on the manuals.

The money was well spent. The folks at the Capitol Arts Complex are doing great things to revitalize their city’s downtown.

 

Movie: God Bless America

This movie was written and directed by Central New York native Bobcat Goldthwait. The first part of the movie was filmed near my neighborhood. It was weird to see the local Dunkin’ on the screen. Fun, too.

I loved this movie until the end, which IMHO was very Mel Brooks-ish. I don’t think Brooks does endings well, and Goldthwait took a page from that script. The ending ruins the movie for me.

Still, the premise was wonderful–which is going to betray how warped my sense of humor is. The official tagline is: “Taking out the trash, one jerk at a time.”

When the main character (played by Joel Murray) reaches the point in his life when he believes he has nothing left to lose, he realizes he’s had enough of how American culture has devolved since 9/11 and decides he’s going to do something about it.

This film is definitely a dark comedy.

 

Movie: Zero Hour!

My husband is a movie addict. He loves TCM. Every once in a while he finds a gem he knows I’ll like. Such was the case with Zero Hour!

It turns out that Zero Hour! (1957, Dana Andrews, Linda Darnell and Sterling Hayden) is the original version of Airplane! While it is commonly assumed that Airplane! spoofs the disaster film genre, particularly the Airport series, parts of the script are verbatim from Zero Hour!  (Paramount owned Zero Hour! so it was  all perfectly legal.)

“Our survival hinges on one thing – finding someone who not only can fly this plane, but didn’t have fish for dinner.”

“Looks like I picked the wrong week to quit smoking.”

Yet Zero Hour! is not a comedy. It was a completely serious film.

If you get a chance to see it, you should.

 

Movie: Moneyball

Let me begin by saying I am not a Brad Pitt fan. I mean, I don’t hate him or anything (I don’t know him). I’m merely indifferent to him.  That said, I did like him in Moneyball.

Moneyball is a baseball movie. But there’s a great underlying message in the film.

Baseball is a game of numbers. Statistics. The ones that seem to matter most are the batting average (i.e. number of hits per at bat percentage) for hitters and for pitchers, the  earned run average (number of runs scored against a pitcher in every  nine innings pitched). Batters need a high batting average, pitchers a low ERA.

Moneyball  is based on a true story of a numbers geek who convinced a team’s general manger working with a shoe string budget  to assemble a competitive team by looking at undervalued stats. The film shows the viewer that baseball is more than home runs and strike outs, that a flashy performance is nice, but slow and steady can also get the job done. Strategy counts as much as luck.

You don’t need to be a superstar to be successful.