Monthly Archives: July 2013

Damaged Circuits: An Amazing 30 Second Anti-Drug Ad

Too often we hear about celebrities who have died as a result of drug abuse.  Our favorite actors and singers will never again create film or TV or music magic for us to enjoy.

This commercial was recently on the Fox network in prime time.  Watch as a young teenaged boy ages in 30 seconds:

The message is clear:  Drugs are bad.

It’s amazing how the filmmaker created the scene for this important message!  Was it different actors?  Watch this to find out.

This commercial was created for The Partnership at DrugFree.Org (formerly Partnership for a Drug Free America), an organization that is “working toward a vision where all young people will be able to live their lives free of drug or alcohol abuse.”  They have many resources for parents to help their kids with prevention, intervention, treatment, and recovery.

All young people will be able to live their lives free of drug or alcohol abuse – what an important goal!

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42: A Baseball Movie for Everyone

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I like to root for the underdog.

I like a good historical movie.

I like Harrison Ford.

I like baseball, in small doses.  But 42 (2013 PG-13) is a baseball movie for everyone!  And it tells an important story about our nation’s past.  Watch how the five movie posters convey the message of the film:

1.  Life was still unfairly difficult for African-Americans in the United States in 1946.

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Jackie Robinson (Chadwick Boseman) is offered a chance to prove African-Americans can play baseball with the all-white teams. But can he ride on the same bus? Walk in the same neighborhoods? African-American reporter Wendell Smith (Andre Holland) follows Robinson to document his story and suffering, and to help keep him safe.

2.  Americans who supported integration in baseball had to fight for it.

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Brooklyn Dodger manager Branch Rickey (Harrison Ford) regrets not speaking up when he witnessed black ball players endure abuse in the past. He works endlessly to support Robinson, whom he famously tells, “I want a player who’s got the guts not to fight back.”

3.  Behind strong men are the strong women who love them.

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It was frightening for a California girl to experience Southern hatred and segregation, but young bride Rachel Robinson (Nicole Beharie) quietly supports her husband throughout the season. She is the one he looks for in the crowded stadiums.

4.  Jackie Robinson was chosen to play professional baseball because he was an outstanding ball player.

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If he couldn’t keep up with the rest of the team, there would be no point in having him. He was a great player, and was an inspiration to other African-Americans.

5.  Even people raised in the South can overcome their fears and racism.

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Robinson’s teammates grow increasingly uncomfortable with the way he is treated by the crowds and by the press. Pee Wee Reese (Lucas Black) knows his Kentucky friends and family at the game will be shocked, but he throws an arm teammate Jackie Robinson anyway.

“In a game divided by color, he made us see greatness.”  That’s a great tagline for a quality movie.

Baseball at the Movies: A Timeline.

Don’t Forget Other Black Pioneers

42 Movie Posters

My Review of The Jackie Robinson Movie

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Music in the Movies: The Lone Ranger

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The William Tell Overture, composed by Italian Gioachino Rossini in 1829, recounts the Swiss soldiers’ victorious battle to liberate their homeland from Austrian repression.  Of course, we know it at the sound of The Lone Ranger!

The Lone Ranger (2013 PG-13) follows The Lone Ranger (Armie Hammer) and Tonto (Johnny Depp) as they meet and become partners in bringing justice to a western town just as the transcontinental railroad is completed.  We hear a few measures of that trumpet at the beginning of the movie, then composer Hans Zimmer settles into appropriate background movie music.

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Then the movie gets muddled.  Even though Tonto continues to prove his worth, The Lone Ranger endlessly doubts him. Enough already, just get on with the story!  And why the silly nature-out-of-balance stuff?

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There is not just one Indian massacre, but two.  Unnecessary.

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This is a simple western town, but has an over-the-top adult entertainment center, hosted by Helena Bonham Carter.

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The beautiful widow (Ruth Wilson) is wooed by the railroad business man subtly throughout the movie, but did we really need the Chinese opium lady?

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At last, our heroes are ready!  Cue the trumpets!  The William Tell Overture, arranged by Geoff Zanelli. It’s the final showdown with The Lone Ranger and Tonto racing to save the girl and get the bad guys on two runaway trains!

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And we get the music!  And it’s beautiful!  Fun movie, despite it’s flaws – especially when the music plays!

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On Location in Lone Pine: Iron Man and Tremors

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We’re on the road to Lone Pine, where construction workers, and sheep, are mysteriously killed in Tremors (1990 PG-13).

lone_pine_mapLone Pine, California, has been the site of hundreds of movies and commercials since the early days of film.  We camped there recently, then came home and watched two movies featuring the dramatic desert scenery of Lone Pine.

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Lone Pine becomes Afghanistan for Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) in the first Iron Man (2008 PG-13).

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While demonstrating his super missile to the troops in Afghanistan, Tony Stark gets kidnapped. In a remote cave (also in Lone Pine) he creates his first version of Iron Man and learns a bit of humility.

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There is no snow on the Sierra Nevada mountains in our picture due to a very dry winter.

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Tremors (1990 PG-13) takes place entirely in the Alabama Hills outside of Lone Pine, which serves as an isolated community that is attacked by underground worms.  It sounds campy, and it is!  Fun movie (with a bit too much bad language).  Watch Kevin Bacon and Fred Ward as handymen who unite the town to combat the worms (and get the girl).  Reba McEntire and Michael Gross are great as extreme survivalists.

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Standing on the boulders is the only safe place for the people. See, they shot up a worm (the guts are all over the rock)!

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The valley is strewn with hundreds of boulder formations, which we had so much fun climbing on!

Since we’ve been to Lone Pine, we now recognize it in many movies and especially car commercials.

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World War Z: A Lesson in Emergency Preparedness

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My husband and I got to see  World War Z (2013 PG-13).  A zombie attack is spreading around the world, and former United Nations investigator Gerry Lane (Brad Pitt) must travel the world to discover a way to stop the creatures before it is too late.  Fun movie!

Some viewers don’t like these types of zombies.  They are super fast, and once they bite a person, that person will change into a racing zombie by the count of 12.  Really!

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So, if there is one zombie on your airplane flight, you know everyone will soon also be hungry zombies, except for Gerry and injured Israeli Army girl Segen (Daniella Kertesz), who survive this airplane of death by throwing a grenade so all the zombies are sucked out the the gaping hole of the plane before it crash lands just over the hill from the World Health Organization research center that Gerry and Segen need to get to.  Yup.

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But the fun of the movie is trying to figure out the zombies along with Gerry.  Is the plague spread by bite, or simply by splattered blood?  Are zombies attracted to noise, or by the smell of humans? What about animals? What kills them?  Why do they ignore certain people?  How can the researchers at the World Health Organization create an antidote?  What started the plague, and where?

I like that the mother, Karin (Mireille Enos), while still Hollywood skinny, does not look like she is 18.

I like that the final race against the zombies takes place in a well-lit environment, instead of a darkened building.

And I like that the movie makes me want to be prepared for any emergency!

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Keep necessary medicines and extra food handy.  We live in an earthquake prone part of the US, and have always been told to be prepared.  Every school classroom has a bin of food and water.  At home we have extra water and lots of yucky canned food we could eat if forced to.  Each of our cars has water and blankets and outdated clothing.  In the movie, the family must stop at a store for asthma medicine.  You can see that another panicked person believes beer is good for emergency situations.

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Maintain a first aid kit, and know how to use it. When called to, Gerry assists Segen with her bitten hand, and keeps the wound clean and wrapped.  Our first aid kits get raided too often, and I must restock all of them.  Today.  Because you never know when you will need it for something important.

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Have plenty of fuel.  My husband’s DMAT team was sent to New York to assist with Superstorm Sandy (2012) recovery, and he experienced first hand the difficulties in getting gas.  Now he insists we always keep our tanks at least half full.  Gerry and his team head to an American base in South Korea to investigate an early case of the plague. Refueling the plane to fly to Israel is dangerous, even with the help of the remaining Army personnel.

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Be prepared with alternate means of communication.  Cell phones may not work in emergencies, or in the bowels of Navy ships, or in underground bunkers.  Ham radio operators can be a life line.  Battery powered radios will transmit public service information.

Go see this fun movie and be inspired to be prepared!                                                  For anything.

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Gaslight: Has Anyone Tried to Make You Crazy Lately?

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We were eating lunch in the staff room and one of us was quite frazzled because she could not find her keys that morning.  We all were sympathetic, giving advice, telling our own stories of keys lost and found, when one person said, “Your dog is probably Gaslighting you!”

Ha!  I get that reference!  Do you?

Gaslight (1944) is a suspenseful movie in which Charles Boyer slowly and systematically causes his wife Ingrid Bergman to believe she is loosing her mind.  He keeps her isolated from neighbors and old family friends, and takes jewelry from her hand bag but makes her think she took it without remembering.

Click here for an excellent current review of this classic movie.

I watched this movie with my teenaged daughters.  I hope that, if the situation arises, they will recognize signs of a controlling person before becoming attached to them.

Charles Boyer uses his proclaimed love for Ingrid Bergman to keep her from seeing other people.  He wants to extend the honeymoon by not hosting parties, as she wants.  He says he is concerned about her memory loss and doesn’t want noisy neighbors to cause embarrassment for her.  Actually, he wants total control over her, not because he loves her, but because he has a reason to drive her insane and put her in an institution.

Ingrid Bergman is gorgeous, and it is difficult to see her try to assert herself, just to be humiliated by her “loving” husband in front of the servants.  Fortunately, she does have someone who wants to help her, and when things seem at their worst, she has a way out by accepting help from others.

A good lesson to remember.

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