From the beaches of Puerto Vallarta; Friday afternoon random thoughts…by Chuck Duboff

©Chuck Duboff

  • It’s a hit the pool every ten minutes kinda hot today…lots of water today.
  • Watched Manchester by the Sea…though a slow pace, Casey Affleck was tremendous.
  • Amazing watching how very hard the staff in this resort works; never see anybody sluffing off.
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  • It really is great getting to know so many people from all around the world…my friend Jose Martinez and his son Hector are pretty awesome guys to hang out with.
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  • Jets fans can’t concern themselves with what all the other teams are doing during the one week break; it’s out of their hands now…and when they get back to playing, whatever there situation is…they just gotta Win Baby!!!
  • Those long runs in the morn on the sand are so fantastic…the legs are heart are working so hard; and when the run finishes it is an absolutely euphoric feeling.  That’s followed with a great workout in the gym…this environment is so inspiring for workouts and writing.
  • More often than not, reality checks are needed…if not, things go out of kilter really quickly.
  • One of the many good things to go home to is baseball; going to start setting up my Fantasy Teams, ordering MLB TV and writing my Winnipeg Goldeyes and MLB baseball blogs.
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  • Have tried staying away from politics these past two weeks…the moment Herr Trumps name is mentioned…I either walk away or try and change the subject.
  • So very cool that yesterday’s blog got recognized by the Puerto Vallarta twitter account and tourism bureau…that’s two years in a row.
  • Had a major reality check an hour ago…glad I paid attention before it became out of hand.
  • It’s been fun having different bands selected each day for listening by the pool; it was Nirvana, Pearl Jam and Neil Young today…pretty, pretty coolcropped-img_90211.jpg
  • Speaking of pretty, pretty cool..great seeing Curb Your Enthusiasm doing at least one more season…Larry David is priceless.
  • Puerto Vallarta…muchos gracias; though I still have four more full days after today, it’s been great, yet again.
  • Sometimes its just so very hard understanding people…just better to let go and not let it upset you.
  • My favourite view down here in PV; the Sierra Madre mountains just take my breath away.
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Star Wars, The Force Awakens…reviewed by Geoff Brookes

© Geoff Brookes
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Forget everything you thought about Star Wars movies so far. This one is different,
Superficially, it seems similar to the original Star Wars movie, especially for the first half hour or so. Like the orignal Star Wars movie, the opening story script rolls and fades far off into the distance of space. The opening scene of the new movie features a desert planet, like the one that Luke Skywalker inhabited in Star Wars IV. Like the original movie, the plot features an image supplied by a droid that looks similar to R2D2.
But as the story plays out, you are swept away by its humanity. Star Wars VII tells the story of a new heroine, Rey (Dailey Ridley). It features a new hero, Finn (John Boyega). Interestingly, Finn is a rogue “First Order” soldier (the “First Order” looks like the old “Empire”). Importantly, Finn is revealed as a living person with everyday human qualities (including faults). Even the evil protagonist (played by Adam Driver) removes his dark helmut on at least 2 occassions, revealing that he is flesh and blood.
It’s a story of love lost by time and space; of grief over the loss of a child; of family loyalty and betrayal; of the tension between self-interest versus self-sacrifice for the greater good.
It has action scenes, but the camera’s focus never strays far from the individual struggles. Despite the emphasis on the characters, the action doesn’t drag. The editing and timing is excellent, and quickens your heart throughout each scene.
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It features performances by several of the actors from the original Star Wars movie, reprising their famour roles, but almost 40 years older, in the story as well as in real time. The fact that this can be done at all is remarkable, but it’s very memorable for me, having watched the first movie at the age of 16.
The original Star Wars movie was groundbreaking at the time, in 1977. This movie takes the venerable series in a new direction, empowering the viewer to reach their own inferences into the story. Instead of Obi-Wan Kenobi instructing Luke to feel “the force”, we see this joureny of discovery in Rey’s face (brilliantly played by Daisy Ridley). The struggle of good versus evil is acted with subtlety in many scenes, including the psychological conflicts late in the movie. The audience doesn’t need to have the struggles explained to them. The actors tell the story in their physical and facial performances.
Even the music follows this understated approach. The solid refrains of the famous Star Wars music melodies are held back for the climactic sequences. It is played quietly, sometimes only with parts of the melodies, earlier in the movie, often almost imperceptable in the background.
I would like to tell you more, but I don’t want to ruin the story for you, if you haven’t seen it yet.
This is a must see. I would say that among the Star Wars movies, this is the best. The original Star Wars movie was at least ten years ahead of its time, when it was released in 1977. But in terms of story-telling, I like Star Wars VII more than the rest. Go see it in the theatre with a big crowd – which is still the best way to experience a movie!

Still Alice…Julianne Moore’s riveting portryal of the cruelty of Alzheimer’s; a review by Chuck Duboff

© Chuck Duboff

The life which Alice Howland (Julianne Moore) leads, would seem ideal to most. She is a 50 year old professor of Linguistics at Columbia University, has three beautiful children and is married to a research physician (Alec Baldwin). They have a trendy home in the Upper West Side of New York and also a beach house. Life really does seem perfect.

Yet, as Judith Guest described in her novel, Ordinary People, we all have challenges to face in life. Ironically, one of the leading researchers in Linguistics suddenly begins to experience minor symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease. It would seem fate had more in store for this brilliant professor and her fall into the grasp of Alzheimer’s is rapid and without remorse. Her doctor states that: “with people who have a high level of education, things can go faster.” We sadly watch the fast demise of a brilliant mind.

As an audience, we are brought to the reality of the heartbreaking effect which this disease has on Alice; we see Alice wet her pants, be at a loss to identify the most simple of words and forget family members. We see the pain and struggle of Alice’s family as they watch their mother’s brilliant mind disappear. Alice states at one point: “I was a good teacher at one time, wasn’t I?” Her children demonstrate great courage and support as their mother fades away, yet her husband demonstrates an inability to display emotion, concern for what his wife is going through; he is more concerned about his career and moving away to Minnesota.

Julianne Moore

Though there is not a complex plot to absorb, the acting of Julianne Moore is breathtaking as she goes from a leading Linguistics professor to an individual caught in the fog of Alzheimer’s. Moore goes from an alive, vibrant woman, to one whose eyes are empty, void of any understanding of the basic functioning of life. There are moments when one would believe that Moore herself has been overtaken by Alzheimer’s. Alice’s character, while still lucid, leaves a video for the future Alice; with in this video are instructions for Alice to commit suicide. The contrast of the on the computer healthy Moore speaking to the diseased Moore is so very powerful. Moore is almost catatonic as she follows her very own instructions. Alec Baldwin’s character is in stark contrast to Moore; he presents a hard working, almost cold, mean spirited husband. Yet, there is a very brief moment when Baldwin does fall apart and cry tears as he watches his wife “leave him”. He says to his children: “Remember who Alice was.” We see in this family, in this ordinary family, how each member deals with this tragedy in so many different emotional ways.