Sunday, March 29, 2015

Film Review: THE INTERVIEW

A few months back there was a big to-do over this film about a planned assassination of North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un. The fear was that its release would set off World War Three. At the time I paid little attention since fart jokes are not my thing. Somehow an international fracas was avoided and the movie slunk quietly off to Netflix, which is where I found it last night. Call me madcap but I loved it, laughing all the way, and really, what else is a comedy for? Admittedly the script is gross and off-color, so if you're squeamish about bodily orifices and/ or sexual innuendo, steer clear. Then too, there are a few fingers bitten off and a lot of fake blood around that, but simply covering your eyes works there. Otherwise, this fable about a pair of loony guys who end up working for the CIA is a non-stop hoot.

If this picture offends you, do NOT see the movie!
The plot is clever: Dave Skylark (James Franco), a late-night TV host sick of doing celebrity puff pieces, and his longtime producer pal Aaron Rapoport (Seth Rogen), decide they want more respect from their peers, those rarefied souls who work for the likes of "60 Minutes."  So when they hear that North Korea's leader is a huge fan of their show they decide to fly to Pyongyang and interview him, thus wowing the world with their brilliant expose of the real Kim. After announcing the upcoming interview on-air, the duo is visited by two CIA agents who recruit them to "take out" the crazy dictator. ("You mean take him out to dinner?" asks the clueless Rapoport.)

The proceedings are admittedly slapstick and exceedingly adolescent, but the whole thing works. Franco is flat-out hysterical, much better at comedy than drama. The actor who plays Kim (Randall Park) could be elected immediately, if they have elections over there, since he's perfect for the job. And Rogen, who also wrote the story and produced the film, is clearly a comic genius of his generation. In addition to the stars, a memorable cameo from Eminen and great supporting performances from everyone involved make this a worthy cinematic adventure, despite what all the snooty critics said.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Buyer's Remorse

Can one see things too clearly?
Before my recent cataract surgery I couldn't see anything very far away but could count the legs on a centipede, should that ever become necessary and if I were not so afraid of bugs. After the surgery I can see from here to Texas but couldn't remove a splinter from my own finger (not that I would since I always let them just sit there and fester) since I can't even see my own finger. As for eyeglasses, which I have worn since age 13 and supposedly would no longer require, I still need them, but not all the time; just for eating and reading and working on a computer and grocery shopping and paying bills and shaving my legs and cutting my hair and, well, you get the point. Pretty much everything but seeing to Texas.

What did happen was my eye doctor and my optometrist each made a lot of money. Both are likable chaps and I hold no grudges against them. It's just that I wonder how many of those "necessary" surgeries are only necessary for the doctor performing them. Had I left my cataracts in place, gradually my vision would have grown dimmer as I age. But maybe that's not so bad, considering what I see when I look in the mirror these days. One thing can be said for sure: cataract surgery does not decrease wrinkles.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Pill-popping Atheists Unite

I heard we are getting more snow tomorrow and now I'm sort of depressed. I'm starting to feel like crashing a plane loaded with 150 innocent people into the side of a mountain. The thing is, I don't have an airplane, don't know how to fly one if I did, and am not a Muslim terrorist. I'm just a nice Jewish girl from Long Island. I guess I'll just take one of my anti-anxiety pills, go for a brisk walk in the fresh air and not kill anybody instead.

(Translated from a German website this morning: All evidence indicates that the copilot of Airbus machine in his six-months break during his training as a pilot in Germanwings, converted to Islam and subsequently either by the order of “radical”, ie. devout Muslims, or received the order from the book of terror, the Quran, on his own accord decided to carry out this mass murder.)

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Those Nutty Arabs!

Last night I returned from a short vacation to find a message on my home phone from an Arab-sounding man who said his name was Officer Roy Martin and I had better "call back right away or you will suffer the consequences, and may God help you." He said he was from the Federal Bureau of Investigation and that he had received several complaints against my name and unless I called back immediately I was going to be in very big trouble. And another "may God help you."

Naturally I called back at the number he left, which is (646) 583-1335 in case you want the bizarre experience yourself. Alas, Mr. Martin was in a meeting but would return my call shortly. Two hours later I called again, and again Mr. Martin was in a meeting with "the authorities." I asked which authorities, and was told they were the "big authorities" by the Arab-sounding man who could barely speak English. I asked what this was about and who they were. He said they were "the Federal Bureau of the Investigating of the Internal Revenue" and that I had many mistakes on my tax return and they would subpoena me and seize my property at my home address, which he repeated so I'd know he knew it. I asked if they were located in Manhattan and he said no, that they were in New York City. I asked if he had ever heard the word Manhattan and he skirted the issue, asking instead, "Why you talk to me this way like I am your friend or family, I will have you arrested!"

I try to like those folks, really I do, but what with the beheadings and the stoning of women and the chopping off of body parts and the bombings and the burning people alive and of course 9/11 and Charlie Hebdo and ISIS and now this, I just don't. I can't. Maybe it's racist of me or maybe I'm just smart. Either way, sue me, but don't count on getting much since all my property is about to be seized.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

What's to Like About Flying?

I am on an airplane this minute. It sucks so bad I want to document it so that when I am off, if I ever feel unhappy I can read this and remind myself what true Hell is and then feel better about whatever is going on right then.

There are two babies on board. One has not stopped screaming since we were boarding three hours ago. Really. What is wrong with his parents? Are they really his parents? Maybe he is being abducted, because I took my baby on a cross-country flight when he was three months old and he cried for like ten minutes but I was prepared to make him happy and so he shut right up.

There is turbulence of course. There is no movie, even though the flight is five hours long. There is no food, no pillows, no nothing but the screaming of the baby. There he goes again.

Making matters worse, there was a huge plane crash in Europe yesterday. No survivors. I learned this on the way to the airport today. Why does everything happen to me?

Now I have to go to the bathroom but I am in a window seat. What a hassle getting there, and so little reward.

Climate Change

Today I will go back into a little tube and fly across the sky to where most of my belongings are stashed. My cats, my clothes, my furniture, my art are all in a house in Maine where it is still winter and cold and mean-spirited. But vacation is over and one cannot live in a fantasy permanently. I am leaving blooming flowers and warm sun. Barring unforeseen circumstances, I will once again be buffeted by cold winds and surrounded by glaring snow and ice when I wake up tomorrow morning.

They say it is brutal here in Arizona for five months of the year, with temperatures as high as 120 or even 130 degrees. That you can't even go outside. You have to stay in air-conditioning. I take comfort in that.


Monday, March 23, 2015

Why Me? (I Don't Even Like Football)

Setting up for one of the many nighttime parties for the NFL executives takes all day.
I have endured many tragedies over the course of my life. The assassination of JFK when I was 16 hit me hard. Later came more of those, and then the murder of John Lennon. The horror of 9/11. And now this.
 
Lucky enough to be staying in one of the most beautiful resorts in the country, we have only a very few days to enjoy it. The tragedy is that our visit coincides with the Annual Meeting of the NFL owners. (That stands for National Football League, which I had to ask.)

Screens for projections span the palm trees.
Considering what is going on here, you would think it were a summit meeting of top world leaders, or maybe aliens from another world meeting with our people. Not one inch of this lovely, serene, peaceful place remains untouched by the hordes of media, consultants and hangers-on here to interview football coaches and their staff.

There are lights, cameras and action snaking over and through the grassy gardens. Mobile newsrooms are set up on the manicured lawns for round-table discussions of god-knows-what. There are paparazzi everywhere, along with tables laden with coffee urns and water bottles wherever you look. There are gigantic amps and speakers and lights and projection screens obliterating the natural beauty of the vegetation. Yoga mats and exercise bikes for workout sessions dot the landscape. And that's just outdoors.

Tubing fun for the NFL kiddies.
Inside, every inch of available wall space is crapped up with signage declaring,"This way to the Annual Meeting" or "That way to the Annual Meeting." More tables with water and coffee. And of course, big burly men in various team t-shirts and littler men in suits and fancy ladies in 6-inch heels and news anchors and official people with dangling badges are thronging about at every turn, if one can throng.
Little "rooms" are created all over the lawns for schmoozing.

Yoga mats and exercise bikes available for the NFLers.
Even the room keys boast the NFL logo and the words ANNUAL CONFERENCE. Such a big deal! They'll all pack up and leave on the same day we do. As my yiddishe grandmother would say, it's a shonda.