Big Screen: Furious 7

I’m in complete shock that I haven’t written about this movie here. Definitely my favorite movie so far this year although not the best technically made perhaps.

So I guess I had maybe seen one or two of these movies years ago when they first started coming out. Then you may remember in 2013, my dad going absolutely ga-ga for Fast & Furious 6. At the time, I also had a coworker who was absolutely nuts for these movies. I started watching them…and I don’t really know what happened but somehow they became the movies that I watched over and over. I mean I always have a few movies that I am rewatching, but for a while it was (one or the other of the) Fast & Furious every other night or so up in here. I went to Furious 7 the minute it came out, then I went again a week later, and if it was still in theaters near me, I’d have seen it a few more times by now!

The earlier movies are a bit so-so, so really if you haven’t seen these, START with #4 which was just called Fast & Furious (2009) (versus the first movie which was called The Fast and The Furious). If you become sucked in, as I did, what the earlier movies are worth watching for is the development of the relationships. How enemies become friends, how friends become family, how this person becomes introduced, when that person became indispensable, etc.

The awesome thing about these later movies, starting with 4 really, is they went back, gathered up every loose end or random plot idea from the earlier movies, and brought it all together. So Han being in Tokyo in F&F3 now slots itself between F6 and F7 and is very nicely brought in with the return of the Don/Lettie necklace to begin #7. Eva Mendes from 2F2F drops in at the end of F5 to deliver the news about Lettie (and rumor is she’s going to appear in F8).

Additionally, F7 does such a tremendous job of saying goodbye to Paul Walker, who unfortunately died mid-filming. The WHOLE movie turns into him coming to grips with the fact that he’s now a family man–that it’s time to step away from the cars, and the guns, and the team. It’s done completely seamlessly, and the last 10 minutes or so are basically the whole cast saying goodbye and Vin saying I’ll see you down the road, Buster.

Sniff.

Fiction: Dennis Lehane’s Coughlin Trilogy

The books, in order: The Given Day, Live by Night, and World Gone By.

All fantastic.

TGD = Very plot-driven historical fiction. You are caught up in Danny’s life, in Luther’s life, in the snippets of Babe Ruth (such an interesting way to use him in this book!).

LBN = Connected to the first book b/c Joe is Danny’s little brother, and his father does play a role in both books, but in many ways just books that are sequentially related versus books that are a series. Although technically this would still be considered historical fiction (there are actual historical gangsters mentioned or who play bit parts), to me this is where the series really becomes driven by character rather than plot. Joe is SUCH an interesting character to have written. This book really caught me up in its romance–and I don’t mean the relationships between Joe and women, although there is that, but the romantic nostalgia we feel for places and things. Joe’s feelings about his dad’s watch, the way he interacts with the cities he lives in. The way he thinks about things. I wrote about this book previously it turns out. Heh.

WGB = I was surprised to find that this book was also about Joe (I thought it would be about Tomas, maybe?). I loved that years have gone by, and he’s become a different person with different sorts of schemes and plans while still having his gangster’s heart of gold. Sure, that’s a bit cliche, right, the gangster who is for civil rights, and treating people equally. The gangster who only wants to kill when he really has to, etc. But he’s such an intriguing loyal intelligent dude, you go along for the ride. He’s got a code, Wire fans, he lives by his code.

I thought they were all fantastic. I’ve read other Lehane books in the past (a few of the Kenzie/Gennaro books) and enjoyed movies made from his books as well (Gone Baby Gone, Mystic River) but this trilogy is really a tour de force. Each one was BARELY putdown able, I read late into the night, loving every minute of it.

Big Screen: Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation

Fine for what it is. Enjoyable even. (More enjoyable than, say, Mr. Holmes.) But these Mission Impossible movies really seem stuck in the cold war. The enemies all seem German or Eastern European, it’s all part and parcel of the old spy trade, MI-6 and the CIA and yadda yadda. Whereas a movie say for example Furious 7 feels very fresh and current–they go to the Middle East, the technology is just as cool and a little less hokey, etc. Even Kingsman: The Secret Service feels more modern than MI:RN and it’s deep in the MI-6 secret service milieu.

Also: What is up with Tom Cruise’s torso? He doesn’t actually have a 6-pack or a definable muscle area as you might expect when an action hero takes his shirt off. He has something…else. Weird. Weird lumps and bumps in odd places.

Also: What is up with Jeremy Renner’s fingernails? There are numerous closeups of him on the phone and his fingernails curve around the tips of his fingers like hooves. BIZARRE.

Also: I thought the point of having Jeremy Renner join the squad was he was going to take over the Cruise role. Instead he’s hanging around taking phone calls. Why? WASTED.

Big Screen: Iris

Fabulous!!! This movie was just full of interesting, beautiful things, and interesting quirky people, and so many great anecdotes and little moments. Iris Apfel is really a fascinating person. AND it’s from a great director, Albert Maysles, who did the Stones’ documentary “Gimme Shelter” as well. Sad to hear he died in May

Dad and I both loved it.

Big Screen: Trainwreck

The first Judd Apatow movie I’ve ever outright liked! Knocked up = NO THANK YOU.

It was really, really funny. And THE CAMEOS. Man, they got so many people to be SO GOOD in this movie. LeBron James and Jon Cena are not just cameos, they’re actually full-fledged roles and they throw their whole selves into it.

Tilda Swinton is so unrecognizably herself, at first I thought it was Emily Blunt!

Very worthwhile.

Romance: Just Like Heaven (Smythe-Smith Quartet, #1), by Julia Quinn

So sweet! And so refreshing to read a regency (or thereabouts) romance where the two intendeds do not meet via a) rape, b) intended rape or c) almost rape. NO RAPE AT ALL. Nice.

(Unlike, say, the Jo Beverly books which I read a ton of all in a row last Christmas. When you read too many of those “rape or almost rape brought these two together” books too close together, you just start to feel icky.)

Fiction: Lord of Misrule, by Jaimy Gordon

The reviews of this book on goodreads are widely divisive, moreso than most books from what I’ve seen anyway.

I didn’t fall head over heels but I didn’t (ever, really) feel the need to put it down, or move on, and that’s a pretty good sign that it’s at minimum well written and able to engage me as a reader.

Racing may be glamorous and sexy and the provence of the rich and the nouveau riche (heh) but it’s also a place that washed up, unhappy people (and horses) wind up spending years just stuck in. My best friend in high school’s dad once came in 3rd in the Kentucky Derby (as a jockey). He also spent years and years racing at tiny tracks, drinking away his sorrows, fighting with anyone who would fight him, and bemoaning his lack of ever getting up there again. So many horses, jockeys, owners, and trainers have just one bright shining moment. The ones that stay in the sun for years–THOSE are the real outliers in racing.

Some of this was icky and confrontational. (The sex bits were pretty uncomfortable.) Some of it was intriguing. Some of it was lyrical.

She’s an author that’s not going to do what you expect. Every time a new character entered the room, the story became about something else entirely.

OnDemand: White House Down.

Channing Tatum = like. Jamie Foxx = like. Gutsy young girls = like. Jason Clarke = like to dislike. Maggie Gyllenhall = like. James Woods = like to dislike.

Fun, entertaining. Predictable? Sure. Unlikely? OK. Whatever!

Might put you in the mood for some other political thrillers like In the Line of Fire (I rewatch this one so much, my first DVD of it wore out!), or Shooter, or A Few Good Men (another movie I have seen approximately 94 zillion times).