Goodbye, Farewell, Amen

Well, it had to happen sometime. I am going off blogging indefinitely. I have enjoyed these several years of chatting about movies, Netflix, and going to the movies. We have some travel coming up and my wife is about to undergo an operation and my Florida kids are moving back in in a few months so something had to give.

I leave you with Kevin Smith:

A bad day at the movies is better than a good day at work.

Friday This ‘n’ That – Truly Terrible Taglines

Taglines are nice, easy ways to sell your product. Properly handled, they say something complimentary about your product while hopefully being witty at the same time. On the other hand, a poor one can be a source of amusement.

We were driving back from Florida and I saw a restaurant I had never heard of. The name of the restaurant was Millhouse and their tagline was “not just a steakhouse”. My thought was of course “oh, they’re a steakhouse”. Sooo, not such a good tagline though it does convey that they are indeed a steakhouse.

We went cruising on the disappointing Norwegian line but, thanks to targeting, I saw ads for Carnival on the book of faces. “Not what you’d expect from cruise food” is their unfortunate tagline. As what one would hopefully expect from cruise food is really nice steaks and lobster, this is a rather scary tagline. This may be meant to challenge the current perception that cruise food has gone downhill (it has) but is more likely meant to combat the generally accepted maxim that Carnival has the worst cruise food (cheapest cruise = cheapest food?).

Double Impact

Bringing this back to my blog’s raison d’etre, one of my favorite movie taglines is from Double Impact. The movie is just a typical Jean Claude Van Damme vehicle but the plot involves Van Damme as twins separated as infants (a la the 1941 Douglas Fairbanks vehicle, The Corsican Brothers). The tagline is “Twice the Van Damage!”. I occasionally appropriate this line for other purposes.

Next of Kin

Getting back to unfortunate taglines, my best friend Patrick (miss you, bud) and I were seeing some movie back in the late 80s when a preview for Next of Kin came on. It’s a story of a family of hillbillies coming to Chicago to take on the mob. In spite of a game cast (check out a pre-Taken Irish Liam Neeson as a hillbilly or Ben Stiller in a non-comedic role), it is as bad as that sounds. Near the end of the preview, star Patrick Swayze intones “You ain’t seen bad yet but it’s comin'”. Thanks for the summation.

Happy Thanksgiving! A New Turkey Day Tradition!


With our kids grown and (at the moment) moved out, we have started a new way of celebrating Thanksgiving. This being the third year, it now qualifies as tradition. We go to Knoxville and have a big Thanksgiving lunch at Brazeiros.


Brazeiros is a very nice churrascaria. A churrascaria is a Brazilian steakhouse, with an endless supply of meats brought to the table. Sadly these have become rather popular in the last decade. I mention sadly because a good churrascaria is amazing but a bad one will put you right off the concept. The difference appears to be the quality of the meats used. Top quality meats such as at Brazeiros (Knoxville) and Chima (Charlotte) ensure a top quality experience. Unfortunately many churrascarias use bargain basement meats (filet mignon that tastes like sawdust for example). The churrascaria on Norwegian Cruise Lines has a $20 upcharge and is just awful as is my local churrascaria, Brasilia.

Mockingjay 2

Every Thanksgiving, my wife and I drive to Knoxville, eat picanha, drink a caipirinha, and have papaya cream with chambord for dessert. We go to the movies afterward (The Hunger Games Mockingjay this year I think) and a motel for the evening. We go to Mckay’s, do some Christmas shopping Friday morning, and return home.

I hope you are enjoying your Thanksgiving, with or without family.

Where is my FREE Time? Fallout 4, Jessica Jones, More

Help! I am overwhelmed with entertainment goodness. There just aren’t enough hours in the day.

Jessica Jones

I am loving Krysten Ritter in Jessica Jones on Netflix but fear it may be too dark for my honey. It is definitely too adult for the granddaughter so I can only watch it when I’m by myself and don’t have work to do. I am only three episodes in but I unreservedly recommend it.

Man in High Castle

Jenny and I are really enjoying The Man in the High Castle on Amazon but again it is too adult for the granddaughter so we can only watch it when she is asleep (so one episode a night if we are lucky and stay up a little late). Ditto the recommendation here – go watch it!

Fallout 4

I got Fallout 4 on release date and have gotten to play it some but, again, it is too adult for the granddaughter so I don’t play it when she is around. My marriage is also way more important than the game (duh!) and it is only single-player so I don’t play it while my wife is home either.

The game is wonderfully immersive. the only thing that breaks the spell is that you end up picking up EVERYTHING that is clickable as all the junk is actually useful. I actually found myself paralyzed at the start when you have to choose your stats as there are no throwaway stats and not enough points to distribute.

Still this is really just a complaint that my life is wonderful so umm I’ll stop here and enjoy these things as time is available.

New Netflix Streaming Releases for the Week of 11/24/15

Man in High Castle

Well the big release for the week is the Marvel/Netflix collaboration, Jessica Jones. This will make a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend binge along with the just released first season of The Man in the High Castle on Amazon Prime.

Some Kind of Beautiful

Comedy: Naomi & Eli’s No Kiss List, Some Kind of Beautiful, The Brothers Solomon

Documentary: Wanted 18, Dark Star: H.R. Giger’s World

Drama: People Places Things

Foreign: Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna

Jessica Jones

Television: Jessica Jones, River, The Insider, Sin Tetas No Hay Paraiso, and new episodes of Lego Ninjago: Masters of Spinjitzu, Ultimate Spider-Man, and The Red Road

Friday This ‘n’ That – Cruising!

Last Friday, I talked a bit about how annoying I found microtransactions and the old upcharge. I was glad that Epic finally dropped the ridiculous 3D upcharge and hope that other chains will follow suit. please pardon me but today is just a bit of a gripe session about cruising.

I was on a wonderful cruise with my wife and friends the other week. Microtransactions are ruining the traditional cruise experience. The entire idea of cruises was that you could pay one, admittedly large, price, bring your bags aboard, and everything was taken care of, from wonderfully fancy meals to entertainment to incredible destinations. Between the hefty cruise fee and the casino winnings, cruise ships made a bundle and proliferated.

Unfortunately, greed is both terrible and unavoidable. As cruise lines grew and destinations were snatched up, the industry not only widely expanded their line of shore excursions but began inventing their own beach parties and buying their own private islands. I did not find this disturbing as it meant that I got to see countries off the otherwise beaten path. In this last case, we got to visit Roatan in Honduras and Belize City, Belize.

In their relentless quest to suck every last dollar out of you, the cruise lines introduced specialty restaurants on board ship. You could still eat at the buffet or enjoy fine dining in the main dining room but now you had the ability to pay a $10-$50 per person surcharge to eat at a steakhouse or international restaurant (French, Italian, Japanese, Brazilian, etc.).

In itself, this doesn’t sound like a bad idea. You can pay extra for a premium experience or continue as you were. Sadly, the reality is that as resources were focused on these new money generators, the other food was left to, well, rot I suppose. The buffets rapidly declined to Shoney’s/Denny’s quality food.

This however was nothing compared to the beating that the main dining experience received. First off the main dining experience was lobster, a cruising tradition. It is now a $10-$20 surcharge even in the main dining rooms but also in some of the upscale restaurants, so you pay a surcharge on top of a surcharge. The next to go were decent steaks, especially actual filet mignon. If you could get a really good steak at the main dining room, why would you pay another $30 per person (Norwegian’s Cagney) to get one at the steakhouse? The super fancy desserts are now reserved for the upscale experiences as well.

I had an absolutely wonderful vacation but I have to say that at times it was in spite of Norwegian Cruise Lines instead of because of them. I’m not sure I would ever sail with them again (many many other problems other than what I talk about here) but the other cruise lines have also declined in quality (Celebrity, Royal Caribbean, etc.) because of the specialty restaurants.


Just the Spectre of a Bond Movie

Well, I finally got to see the new Bond movie, Spectre.


Spectre (2015) – Rated PG-13

A cryptic message from Bond’s past sends him on a trail to uncover a sinister organization. While M battles political forces to keep the secret service alive, Bond peels back the layers of deceit to reveal the terrible truth behind SPECTRE.”

I really like Daniel Craig’s Bond. He comes across as a muscle-bound thug, a blunt instrument of policy. Connery is my favorite but Craig’s ruthlessness makes him a close second. The Roger Moore and Pierce Brosnan eras verged on parody with their outlandish gadgets and grandiose villains.

Casino Royale was a wonderful reboot of the franchise, bringing Bond back to the basics and packing a real emotional punch. They even included a scene from the book that I doubted would be filmed (ow!). Sadly, they followed this up with a rather lazy cash grab in Quantum of Solace.

Director Sam Mendes (American Beauty, Road to Perdition) was hired to bring Skyfall to the screen. In spite of, or perhaps because of, not being an action director, he knocked it out of the park. Skyfall was not only a wonderful action picture but also a love letter to Connery’s Bond.

The success of Skyfall meant that I had seriously high hopes for the reteaming of Mendes and Craig in Spectre. Toss in one of my favorite character actors (Christoph Waltz – Django Unchained, Inglourious Basterds) in the villain role and I was all set.

Daniel Craig as a ruthless James Bond – check!

Attractive ladies for Bond to bed but never wed – check!

Callbacks to the Connery era (not just Spectre itself) – check!

Ridiculously dangerous-looking stunts – check!

Really evil villain – check!

Character who dies immediately after giving crucial information – check!

Requisite fancy car chase through exotic locale – check!

So why was I left underwhelmed? Well, in part it was because much of the movie seemed to be developed from the checklist.

Christoph Waltz is a fantastic actor and was absolutely chilling as Hans Landa in Inglourious Basterds. Unfortunately, he isn’t given as much to do here. He is physically unimposing so they felt they had to have an imposing opponent as well. Enter Mr. Hinx (though I don’t remember him being called that) played by WWE giant, Dave Bautista (Guardians of the Galaxy).

There is one laughably bad action scene that I would swear was lifted from an Austin Powers movie. A dozen armed villains stand around and shoot everywhere but at Bond while he picks them off one by one.

It is explained that Madeleine Swann (Lea Seydoux) hates guns but she shows she is quite capable with them. One would think, in the interests of self preservation, that she would pick one up off the ground when people are shooting at her but she prefers to hold hands with Bond instead.

There is a fantastic train face-off that is worth the price of admission. Yet, after destroying four train cars, Bond and Madeleine simply go back to their train car and have sex. Huh? For every wonderful scene, there is a head-scratching one.

Bottom line is that Spectre is no Skyfall or Casino Royale but neither is it Quantum of Solace. It is fun but not particularly good. It will also make plenty of money so there will be another one in a few years.

Netflix Bond, Lack of Bond

Alright Netflix – Hulu skunked you on the James Bond series but maybe you can redeem yourself with some good movies featuring the stars of Bond.

Sean Connery will always be my Bond. I first saw him as a wee tyke in Diamonds are Forever, one of my first movie memories. Growing up I loved catching the expurgated versions on network television. When VCRs came around, you can imagine how ecstatic I was.

The Longest Day

Connery has never been the most prolific of actors but he has 93 imdb credits to his name, including such gems as The Man who Would be King, The Rock, Marnie, The Hill, The Molly Maguires, and my favorite Robin and Marian. Netflix has exactly three Connery titles: The Longest Day (pre-Bond), Playing by Heart, and the animated feature Guardian of the Highlands. Poor showing Netflix.

The Wild Geese

Ignoring the abortive Lazenby attempt, Roger Moore took over the mantle with Live and Let Die. Moore too has 93 imdb credits but not nearly as many gems. Netflix has but a single Moore title. Thankfully it is probably his best non-Bond effort: the mercenary saga, The Wild Geese with Richard Burton and Richard Harris.

Hot Fuzz

After Moore retired the 00 designation, Timothy Dalton attempted to bring back Bond’s edge. He has 67 imdb credits, including the delightful Penny Dreadful series. Netflix has Hot Fuzz (hysterically funny) and Disney’s Secret of the Wings.

Not well played at all, Netflix. Just counting Hulu’s Bond movies, they beat you on these three actors.

New Netflix Streaming Releases for the Week of 11/17/15

Anime: Yuki Yuna is a Hero

Comedy: The Little Death, John Mulaney: The Comeback Kid, I’m Still Here, The Love Letter, Marry Me for Christmas, Dude Where’s My Car?

Reel Injun

Documentary: Dear Jack, Chaos on the Bridge, Manson’s Missing Victims, The Wolfpack, Call Me Lucky, Kumare, Meet the Fokkens, Reel Injun, Whores’ Glory, Dior and I, Soaked in Bleach

Desert Dancer

Drama: Desert Dancer, Anna Karenina (2012), Gloria (2015), Blue Caprice, Comeback Dad, Dawn Patrol, The Dempsey Sisters, Naked Among Wolves

Family: Abominable Noel, Mandie and the Forgotten Christmas, My Dad’s a Soccer Mom

Foreign: Cong Cong Na Nian, Huang, Jin Shi Dai, Qin Ai De, Shi Gu, Tengo Ganas de Ti, Xin Hua lu Fang, You yi ge di Fang Zhi you wo men zhi dao


Television: Atencion Atencion, W/ Bob & David, El Clon, Power Rangers Dino Charge, Sin senos no hay paraiso, Cristela, and new episodes of Continuum and Jessie

Thriller: Felt

James Bond Week – Hulu

Hulu of course has nowhere near the depth or breadth of the movies available on Netflix. However someone in their programming and procurement office is pretty savvy.


At the beginning of the month, just in time for Spectre, Hulu acquired the exclusive rights for a slew of Bond films. Connery is well-represented, with Goldfinger, From Russia With Love, Thunderball, You Only Live Twice, and Diamonds are Forever – even the non-canon Never Say Never Again. Only his first, Dr. No, is not available. Goldfinger and From Russia With Love are justifiable classics. The others are worth watching just for Connery though Never Say Never Again is a very lazy remake of Thunderball.

From Russia With Love

All seven Bond entries from the Moore tongue-in-cheek era are here: The Spy Who Loved Me, For Your Eyes Only, Octopussy, A View to a Kill, Moonraker, The Man with the Golden Gun, and Live and Let Die. Both Dalton’s The Living Daylights and Licence to Kill are available. Heck, they even have George Lazenby’s single outing as Bond, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. That one is worth watching for the absolutely radiant Diana Rigg.

The more recent Brosnan and Craig entries are not on Hulu but 16 movies of the franchise is 16 more than Netflix or Amazon Prime have.

Mockingjay Double

Unfortunately I will be missing the Mockingjay double feature but both Hulu and Amazon Prime have The Hunger Games: Catching Fire and The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part One streaming in time for the theatrical premiere of Mockingjay Part Two. Netflix has….umm…the not really a satire Starving Games so good luck with that.