Tuesday, July 3, 2018

PRUDENCE, indeed

As a child I could never get enough of “Mighty Joe Young,” or any of Ray Harryhausen's stop-motion model animation films.
Chris Pratt — Save Me From the Dinosaurs!!  Also — a Few Thoughts about Independence Day ... Good TV, Bad TV, and the Three-Handkerchief Joys of "A Dog's Purpose."   
by Denis Ferrara

“PRUDENCE, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.”

A little Declaration of Independence, in recognition of tomorrow’s stark and harrowing 4th of July.
IF you’re interested, visit Salon.com and read all of Sher Watts Spooner’s article on the Declaration, the document which explained our separation from England, and cataloged our complaints against King George III.  Spooner’s piece ticks off comparisons to America’s current wannabe king. 

My advice for tomorrow?  Don’t linger too long in the blistering sun.  Wear a good sunscreen. Eat unhealthily. Drink like you have the liver of a newborn (but don’t get in a car). Refrain from all talk of politics with family members, friends, passing strangers and perhaps your spouse.

The next day, sunburned — nobody listens to me about sunscreen — overfed, perhaps annoyed (nobody listens about not talking politics, either), think about America’s long and often harrowing haul toward “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” Look up the words dictator, tyranny and despotism.  Read a little history.

You are allowed to feel depressed, but don’t feel hopeless. Come this November and two years from now, VOTE. 

Remember, the people who sit every night on CNN or MSNBC panels as pundits or guests, the late-night or cable hosts who preach to the choir, the comics, and the politicians who are “outraged” and promise they’ll be there, side-by-side — they are not going to be much affected by the changes that are ‘a-comin’.  Do not be lulled into false comfort.  Do not depend on “Words, words, words” or of “tales told by idiots, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”  (You can always depend on making a good point via Shakespeare.)

Just get off your ass and vote.
BELIEVE it or not, as a child, I was in some ways, like many other children — really.  I loved dinosaurs and creatures and science-fiction. And before I knew his name and fame, I revered the work of Ray Harryhausen, who created stop-motion model animation.  I could never get enough of “Mighty Joe Young,” “Earth Vs. the Flying Saucers,” “The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms,” “It Came From Beneath the Sea,” “The Golden Voyage of Sinbad,” “Jason and the Argonauts,” and “Clash of the Titans.”  (OK, I admit — the flirty tunics worn by Todd Armstrong in “Jason…” and Harry Hamlin in “Clash…” were somewhat competitive to Mr. Harryhausen’s fighting skeletons or that horny Kraken who somehow thought things were going to work out between him and Andromeda.)
Earth vs. the Flying Saucers (1956)
Still, my affection for this kind of thing has persisted, and I’ve liked most of the “Jurassic” entries, despite the Spielbergian business of always putting annoying children in jeopardy.  I have no patience.  The dinosaurs should just eat them and then allow the adults to carry on. 

I have especially enjoyed the two most recent in the franchise, “Jurassic World” and the current smash “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom.”  I don’t look for plot holes, I don’t judge the dialogue. I didn’t care — in fact I loved it! — that in “Jurassic World”  Bryce Dallas Howard spent the entire movie dashing around in treacherous high heels.  Haters hated.  I said — it’s a movie!!!  And if a woman must run from dinosaurs, why not keep a good leg line?
Photo: Universal Pictures
But in both these epics of revived dinos run amok I most enjoyed Chris Pratt.  Yeah, I bet you never saw that coming.  He is just so charming and funny in these movies and in everything I’ve seen him in, he seems so nice. (In fact co-star Howard recently extolled Chris’ virtues to The Hollywood Reporter, with the actor’s niceness quotient on top.)

Pratt doesn’t wear a tunic.  And in fact he doesn’t even take his shirt off.  But his appeal is such that he doesn’t have to.  I want him to save me from the raptors, please.
Bryce Dallas Howard is fine, even though she’s been compelled to wear more appropriate footgear this time out. (Honestly, do people not understand the magic of movies?)  And it was good to see B.D. Wong and Jeff Goldblum back reprising their roles from earlier “Jurassic” movies. But “Fallen Kingdom” is all about Chris Pratt’s irrepressible charm and the fabulous CGI dinos.  To be honest, I’ll always miss the herky-jerky movements of Ray Harryhausen’s creations (Remember the six-armed goddess Kali from “The Golden Voyage of Sinbad” — what a woman!  But a dinosaur movie is a dinosaur movie is a dinosaur movie.  You just can’t go wrong.)

... I guess I have to give up hope that Lindsay Lohan — who I once thought was going to be a great movie star--will not fulfill that dream of mine.  However, the russet-hair actress has stayed out of trouble recently — or has finally hired PR people who do their job.  She lives abroad, currently in Dubai, where, she says “I don’t have to see anything anymore. I choose what I want to see and how I want to live.” (Well, now that it seems we will be at war with former safe haven Canada soon, perhaps Dubai is an option!)  Lohan also intends to produce a reality show centered around her various beach clubs.  She will produce, not appear in this thing, so the grisly fun of the short-lived “Living Lohan” show will sadly be missed. Lohan is only 31 but perhaps a career as a grown up actor was simply not to be. Maybe it’s healthier. I wish her luck. And, truthfully — I still hope she makes some kind of a movie or TV comeback. 
... ”Queen of the South” is back on the USA network, which means we get to enjoy the fabulous Veronica Falcon as evil drug empress Camila Vargas.  Alice Braga is the star of the show, the potential “queen of the south” and she is very good, but she spent most of season one and so far in season two, getting beaten up and victimized somehow.  Eventually, I suppose she’ll totally usurp Vargas and rule her own drug empire.  That will likely mean the end of Ms. Falcon, whom I have come to worship.  I hope to see more of her, once (if) she gets her just desserts. (Or just deserts. I looked it up. The latter spelling was the original, but morphed into “desserts” for a more sugar-craving modern populace.)
... BINGE-WATCHING — I love asteroids-hitting-the-earth movies.  Who doesn’t?  So I thought I’d catch up on the CBS series “Salvation” which is about an asteroid on its way to finish us off.  Miraculously it is in its second season.  It is almost the worst thing I’ve ever seen — so much bad acting.  You can’t look away. I’m sure nobody intends a show titled “Salvation” to be so ineptly performed. Stuff happens.

I did say “almost” the worst thing.  Not long ago I peeked in, via Netflix or Amazon at Halle Berry’s series “Extant” — she played an astronaut who became pregnant while alone in space for a year. As with dinosaurs and asteroids, I like this sort of thing, although I missed its two seasons in 2014-15. “Extant” started off pretty well, but then to my wondrous pleasure, it plummeted; script, acting, the works. Nothing made sense. I was hypnotized and stayed until dawn broke, watching.  Ms. Berry remains a very great beauty. I for one loved “Catwoman” and wish her well in “John Wick 3” currently filming. 
... AND now for something great — in a truly great way; my tongue is nowhere near my cheek. Flipping  channels obsessively as is my wont, I came across a movie titled “A Dog’s Purpose,” directed by Lasse Hallstrom. Released last year, it got by me.  I’d not heard of it.  It’s about a dog that lives four lifetimes, searching for his “purpose,” his perfect human, and how in the course of these lives he loves and suffers and learns, as do some of the humans he encounters. (Including Dennis Quaid and Peggy Lipton.)   Josh Gad voices the dog, known variously as Bailey, Ellie, Tino and Buddy.
Joe Lederer/Universal Pictures
I was moist eyed less than a quarter of the way through, crying at the halfway mark and just out-and-out bawling by the time the credits rolled.  It was great. I felt cleansed.  I wanted a dog.  (Our four cats gathered ominously at the front door.)  In all ways it was exactly what I needed.

I did some research, and found out that one of the reasons perhaps I’d not been aware of “A Dog’s Purpose” was because TMZ and PETA — an organization I often do not admire — had fabricated some kind of animal abuse scandal, which resulted in a lot of negative publicity.

Despite a lack of prehistoric monsters, tunics, bare chests, super-strong high heels, apocalyptic meteors or acting so bad it’s good, “A Dog’s Purpose” wiped me out — in the best possible way.  I loved it.  And I love dogs.  But cats are easier.
Joe Lederer/Universal Pictures
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