Monday, September 24, 2007

September 24, 2007
Sprinkled and rained most of the day Saturday. Cleared off yesterday and is delightful this morning. First day in a very long time that the cooler has been off for more than an hour.

We survived Frank's family (Deena's boyfriend). Dinner at our house on Saturday night. I was going to make tacos, but Frank was afraid that would lead to disaster with his family, so he grilled steaks, his mama brought a homemade dish. They were loud, boisterous and opinionated: in other words, eastcoast Italians. I can't remember laughing so much at a dinner. Great stories. We mentioned our daughter predicted it was going to be Meet The Fokkers with us being the Fokkers, but when I told them this over dinner, they laughed and thought the same thing, only with them being [a strange Italian word, no doubt an inside joke].

Worked on a variety of landscapes for the Top Secret Project (images later). Also, did a page of doodles while I talked to my son in Peru (left):

Watched the DVD of 300 with Kathy on Sunday. She enjoyed it. It was my third viewing. On the Special Features disc they talked to Frank Miller, the graphic novelist on who's work the movie is based on, and he said he portrayed the Spartans as they, and the Greeks, painted themselves on the side of their pottery. Found an example of this art yesterday and emulated that color scheme (above, right). Interesting effects with the sepia, rust and black. Certainly a subtle, but dramatic variatioin on the red-black color scheme I have been experimenting with.

Got several emails regarding the Westerns we are rooting for:

Boggs On 3:10 To Yuma
"Lisa [Johnny's wife] liked it a lot. So did our fill-in babysitter (mom of one of Lisa's best friends). And the best thing about it. The theater was full for a 3:55 showing on a Sunday three weeks into its run.

"Johnny D. Boggs says: ** 1/2 (the original gets ***)

"Russell Crowe and Christian Bale are excellent. Ben Foster is wickedly evil as Charlie. Gretchen Moll is even worse an actress than Felicia Farr. They saved all the great lines from the original ('Would you cut the fat off? I don't like fat.' ... 'Now I'll know where to meet up with y'all in case we get separated.' ... 'Do me a favor. Don't talk to me for a while.'). It's intense, exciting, with great New Mexico scenery (Uh ... there's a lot of snow on the ground for southern Arizona ... we had a hard winter last year) and a throwback music score to the Italian Westerns.

"But it is devoid of logic and full of plot holes.
1. The Burt Kennedy-inspired opening robbery (funner, and better done in THE WAR WAGON). Gee, let's charge a heavily guarded stagecoach with a Gatling gun and get shot to pieces, then think to drive cattle across the road and stop the coach.) Point: Glenn Ford's Ben Wade's a whole lot smarter than Russell Crowe's.
2. Peter Fonda's shot point-blank in the gut, then the doc says "That bullet has to come out" (a throwback to cliches from bad Westerns). That vet's a miracle worker, because Pete's up and riding as soon as surgery's over. Must be the LSD from EASY RIDER kicking in.
3. Chase the stage. Again, Glenn Ford's gang's smarter. Sending one rider to each possible town makes a whole lot more sense.
4. History lesson. Bale mentions "three years," which I take as three years since he's been lame. That puts us at 1868 at the latest. Southern Pacific didn't come through Arizona till 1880, so those guns wouldn't be period correct, either. But that's just me.
5. For a guy with one-leg, and his wooden foot shot up, Christian Bale runs pretty good with everybody shooting at him.
6. Charlie guns down Dan Evans, then the gang just stands around and waits while Ben gets redemption and kills off his boys. Uh ... what the hell is the guard in the prison car doing all this time?
7. If you want me just whistle. You know how to whistle, don't you? You just put your lips together and blow. Ah, the ending. First, it's friggin' impossible for that horse to hear Ben Wade whistle aboard a huffing, puffing train. Second, it really "defeats" the redemption angle.

"All said, though, it's a fun movie to watch, just don't think too much, kind of like if Hitchcock had directed a Western. The best thing about both movies is the play between Ford and Van Heflin and Crowe and Bale. And the original had its own problems, as when Glenn Ford explains the guy on the stage drew first, so that makes it self defense. Uh ... I think when you shoot a guy during the commission of a felony, it's murder. And the ending of the first movie's hokey.

“I like Elmore Leonard's short story, about a dedicated deputy doing his job for $150 a month.

“And it's a hell of a lot better than the insipid SEPTEMBER DAWN.

—Johnny Boggs

“Saw Jesse James last night and thought it was outstanding. Long and slow, but that was no problem for me. The costumes looked right to my unpracticed eyes, the set design was amazing, acting great all the way through. A very complex story well told."
—Anonymous [well-known author but didn't want his name used]

The New York Times reports this a.m. that 3:10 to Yuma is still hanging in there in fourth place, three weeks out (of its release), with $6.4 million this weekend for a total of $37.9. Not all that bad I guess; with foreign release and DVD & cable sales I'm sure it will turn a profit. Maybe there will be a sequel, 4:20 to Yuma.

“BTW, I neglected to mention in all this that Henry Cabot Beck [the author of our cover story on 3:10] is informed, enthusiastic, and opinionated, a nifty combo that makes for a triple-threat writer. He is always worth reading. His ‘siege movie’ category was a novel and precise insight.

“And it got me thinking, a modern siege movie, close to 3:10's storyline (but more fun to watch) was Bruce Willis's 16 BLOCKS.”
—Dan Buck

"Well-timed silence hath more eloquence than speech."
—Martin Farguhar Tupper

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