Gordon & Barbara in Paris

Gordon & Barbara in Paris
Here's Looking at YOU

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Wild (the movie)

Wild—directed by Jean- Marc VallĂ©e/starring Reese Witherspoon with Laura Dern, Gaby Hoffmann, Michiel Huisman/written by Nick Hornby, Cheryl Strayed based on a memoir by Cheryl Strayed/run time/115 min/rated R

Bifocal Reviews by Barbara Rich and The Other Guy

(BR) Let me say this: I would have to have a gun to my head before I would ever entertain the thought of trekking up any wilderness trail, sleeping on the ground, grubbing for food, or going without a shower or a toilet for more than a day. That’s why this movie impressed me. To voluntarily decide to take this challenge is an alien concept for me. I’d rather jump out of a plane, and I’m not doing that either. Anyone who’s read my reviews knows I’m drawn to true-life stories. Hence, Wild was a must see for me. This certainly was one of Reese Witherspoon’s finest performances. I reserve my opinion about an Oscar nod, because I have yet to view the other potential nominees. Cheryl Strayed’s motivation for taking the 1000 mile journey was a personal one, because of her beloved mother’s tragic death, giving this film an extra emotional content that drew me in. Most of the dialogue though is in the head of the Strayed character, as she walks alone on this trail, including the memories of her childhood or conversations with her mother played by Laura Dern. I therefore calmly give Wild three binoculars.

(OG)  It was either a wise old woman, or a motorcycle company that once said, “It’s not the destination, but the journey.” This movie puts a blunt point on that statement, and get’s rid of the motorcycle. If you don’t know it by now, Cheryl Strayed walked the Pacific Crest Trail—it’s a fantastic wilderness trail that stretches from Mexico to Canada) and she lived to tell about it. In fact, she wrote a book about it and now it’s a movie which relives the trek for us and gets us into the mind of the woman who felt the need to do something to remember her mother by. I am glad she walked and that it influenced her life for the better. I’m really happy for her. Walking is great, and experiencing nature is also great. Great things happen to people when they test themselves and spend time alone or with Nature. There’s no question about it, but hundreds of thousands of people walk this trail every year. Each one of them has a story, just as interesting as the one in this movie. I’ve personally met hundreds of them.  Wild seemed realistic and I loved the scenery and the acting by Witherspoon. However, maybe because of the familiarity of the script, I didn’t enjoy it quite as much as Barbara. I give this one 3 binoculars, mostly for the acting.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

The Theory of Everything

The Theory of Everything-- directed by James Marsh/written by Anthony McCarten/ based upon the book by Jane Hawking/starring Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones/rated PG-13/2hr 23min

(B) I had been waiting anxiously to see this film. There is no single word that adequately describes Stephen Hawking. Terms and phrases like genius, or brilliant or one of kind fall short, and that would be WITHOUT the handicap! Combining this mental genius and his physical limitations only intensifies the effect of The Theory of Everything. Realizing what a challenge this role would be for an actor, made me dubious. I must say, I was not disappointed with Eddie Redmayne’s paralyzing performance (pardon the pun). He demonstrated that he was more than up to the challenge. He was, in short, flawless.  The actress who portrayed his first wife also delivered a riveting performance (she played the wife who was also the real life author of the book, from which this screenplay was written). Fear not if you think you can’t grasp the genius of Stephen Hawking. This is really a love story about someone who happens to be physically challenged but also considered the smartest man on the planet. This love story orchestrates how two unique and special individual instruments can combine to make an even more beautiful melody. I’m always drawn to biographies because I can’t wait to come home from the theater and look up the facts of the real person’s life. Without reservation I give generously 5 binoculars to this truly magnificent movie.

(OG) First, I loved The Theory of Everything. I remember reading Stephen Hawking’s A Brief History of Time and feeling like someone had reached into my brain and squeezed, though not in a bad way necessarily. At the time, even though I couldn’t understand much of what was written, I did grasp the special quality of the intellect, which conceived the concepts contained there. I was a very stubborn, self-righteous English major who was a little bit jealous of those who spoke the language of mathematics. There are those who respond negatively to Stephen Hawking’s message, because, honestly they have either a fear of intellect or an aversion to anyone in a wheelchair, but you don’t need to fear here. This is a movie about human emotions, those that are deep inside us and exactly the ones, which are most important, and that is what a movie is supposed to be. Near the end of The Theory of Everything, the now—decades into a life that was not supposed to last more than two years--famous Professor Hawking is asked to summarize, in a sound bite the importance of finding God. I believe that he answered the question (as always) perfectly, and you’ll have to see the movie and/or read some of Professor Hawking’s books, or watch some of his television specials to find out for yourself. Here I will tell you that what he said in this film was the message I carried away with me when I left the theater…Where there is life, there’s hope. I too give this one five binoculars. Go see it and learn about love and life from great models of human beings, one in a wheelchair who cheats death for decades, and everyone else who comes into contact with him. If you let the positive message of love touch your heart, I guarantee you won’t feel like your brain is being pulled from your skull.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Bifocals Cruise to Catalina

The Interviews and some articles dealing with "The Best Way to Travel" and "Best Destinations" will be on L&L Magazine (www.Legends-Legacies.com) in the coming weeks. For now, enjoy our next segment (beginning in January) of our local Channel 6 BIFOCALS show...