August 12th, 2019

Last week I was out of contact and unable to post an entry.  I won’t apologize as it was a fun week away with youngest son to show him the Canadian Maritimes.  Many good times and seeing unique places in this remarkable country of ours.   If you haven’t seen the Eastern Provinces I highly recommend it.  Places like Hopewell Rocks, and Cabot Trail and Halifax are simply too good to be missed.

First and foremost this week I have to shout out and acknowledge my eldest son’s birthday today!   And it was almost right around this time that he was delivered, and later handed to me by a nurse while I was on the phone with my Mom.  His eyes staring up at me as he fit easily onto my right forearm bundled in blue blankets.   My son.    He has been a source of tremendous pride and joy ever since.  Here’s to you Buddy on your special day.  Your Father is very proud of you.

A week ago I ended up watching Richard Linklater’s Dazed and Confused.  It is similarly structured as another end of high school film, George Lucas’ classic American Graffiti.  The principal difference is the setting for Dazed is the 70s whereas Graffiti was the 50s.   There are some very young stars like Ben Affleck that you will recognize as well as Matthew McConaughey.   The setting as in many Linklater films is rural Texas.   And the school year is just ending.   The graduating students are thinking about next steps while at the same time preparing to haze the incoming frosh class of Grade 9s.   They carry homemade paddles and exact the punishment to varying degrees of severity depending on their temperament (Affleck doesn’t fare very well).   Not much of anything occurs but the characters are fun and engaging.  They seem very real and you feel like you are watching any rural school at the time.  You will recognize (for those of you old enough to remember those days) that the characters are similar to your memories.   I liked this film, and would recommend for a little escapism.  In high school, a few years means everything, but as you grow older you realize that you all aren’t very different at all.  Life was simpler when your worst thought was how severe a spanking you would get, or who might show up at a park keg party.

Now where should I start as I review the 2017 Tom Cruise vehicle The Mummy?  This was almost universally panned and it bombed at the box office (not always two things that go together hand in hand).  This film also made Universal rethink their plans to re-start the older style Monster films (Dracula, Wolfman, Frankenstein and Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde).   I went in with an open mind, or tried my best to do so.  Somewhere on an executive’s or writer’s desk is a mapping out of how this series of films was supposed to work together.   The voiceover by Russell Crowe tried to help, but it was fuzzy.   But how about this movie rather than the series?   To start, there is a story about an Egyptian princess who decides to give her own fate a nudge in a Macbethian way (if that is a word).   However, before she completes what she thinks is her main aim, she is thwarted and sent to be punished.   There isn’t much resemblance of this movie to the 1999 The Mummy with Rachel Weisz, which in many ways is too bad.  That was campy fun, and spawned a few sequels that kept Canadian Brendan Fraser busy before he disappeared.   Now this.   A couple of thieves are looking to find antiquities and sell them on the black market, one of which is Tom Cruise.   He has treated poorly, archaeologist  Jenny Halsey, who you may recognize from Peaky Blinders, and The Tudors.   Several things happen as they come upon a tomb which shouldn’t be where it is.   Much of my difficulty with this movie is how many times silly things happen, and why certain characters manage to survive despite everything go on around them.  Miss Halsey is one of them.   She is a pebble on a flea for The Mummy.   Yet The Mummy and her zombie hench-people manage to never finish her off.   Much like Lois Lane with General Zod, in Superman, but I digress.   And then there is the Russell Crowe character who in an X-Men type of way is trying to create, dare I say it, a League of Monsters.   But what?!   He also happens to be a monster himself with very little self-control for such a learned man.   Surely he would know when to take his medicine and at what intervals.   Things like this just pile up to the point that I lose my patience.   It’s silly.    It makes no sense, and there isn’t the underpinning of why these characters would choose to do this.   As you will see, The Mummy herself didn’t in fact choose her fate, so then what about others?   The good news is, I don’t care – and I don’t need to find out.   There just isn’t enough intrigue nor curiosity in me to delve any further.   Cruise too was a curious choice.  He rarely plays the rogue.    As an aside, Cruise is actually two years older than Crowe, but you would never guess it from the body type (Crowe clearly is enjoying his beers and BBQs Down Under).  Cruise continues to make you wonder where the Dorian Grey-like portrait is of him stashed away in a Scientology vault in Florida as he is ripped and enjoying being with more women in their mid 30s.    But Cruise is more suited to the smart assed agent than the rogue thief.   It didn’t work.   Nor did Crowe.   The best that can be said is the The Mummy herself.   There were decent scenes with her and she manages to muster some sympathy for a character who doesn’t have many redeeming positive qualities.   So this movie is a smelly, hot mess and deserves to be the catalyst for some soul searching at Universal.   We may be saved from more old school Monster movies and keep the memory of Boris Karloff, Bela Legosi and others safe — for now anyway).