January, 2013

Here we go again!

January 29th, 2013 at 6:19 am by under Politics

Didn’t we just go through a U.S. Senate race here inMassachusetts?

The most expensive one in the nation in November, between then incumbent Republican Scott Brown and his then challenger, now Senator Elizabeth Warren.

Now we’re about to do it again.  With the expected resignation of Sen. John Kerry, who is becoming Secretary of State, there will be a special election in June to fill his seat.

This race may not have the intensity of the Brown-Warren contest, which came during a Presidential year.   But think how rare it is to have turnover in a U.S. Senate seat here inMassachusetts.

John Kerry became the state’s junior Senator when he took office in 1985, 28 years ago.

He became the state’s senior senator, in 2009, when Sen. Ted Kennedy died.

Kennedy, entered the  Senate in 1962, winning a special election for the seat, that had previously been held by his brother, John F. Kennedy, who sent on to become President.

Ted Kennedy won his first full term Senate election in 1964, and went on to re-election each time, until his death in 2009.   He served in the Senate for nearly 47 years.


“Parker”

January 27th, 2013 at 11:14 am by under A Look at the Movies

Three-StarRated R
2 hours

Starring: Jason Statham, Jennifer Lopez, Nick Nolte

Don’t look now but Jason Statham has cornered the market as Hollywood’s toughest anti-hero with a permanent five o’clock shadow.

Statham gives his cool, rugged persona a violent workout playing “Parker”, in this rousing revenge thriller. He’s the high minded crook who lives by his own code of conduct, no matter how much he irritates the crime boss and invites retribution.

“Parker’s” such a stubborn maverick. The pictures got no place to go except to test the limits of brutality. “Parker’s” got a score to settle, and with the help of Jennifer Lopez, he just might turn the tables on the gang that left him for dead.

“Parker’s” such a stylish thriller, reminiscent of so many earlier gangster yarns about the independent loner.

Statham isn’t much of an actor, but he’s got charisma, and for the demands of this role, his rugged charisma’s quite enough.

“Parker’s” fast paced action will keep you wide awake in spite of the film’s distorted sense of morality. This lively caper yarn makes off with three stars.

And Statham carries it off without smiling even once.


“Mama”

January 26th, 2013 at 11:04 am by under A Look at the Movies

Two_StarRated PG-13
1 hour 40 minutes

Starring: Jessica Chastain

I ask you, what’s a marvelously gifted movie star like Jessica Chastain doing in a cheap horror film like “Mama”?

It’s enough to make Chastain fans cringe in horror. Luckily, Chastain’s barely recognizable under a black wig. She’s hardly shown to good advantage as a clueless Good Samaritan who adopts two really strange children.

When one of the cast members mumbles that things will get better, I can assure you this low power ghost story doesn’t get any better. The deeply disturbed children can only relate to an overly protective maternal demon. You keep asking yourself throughout the film, why did Jessica Chastain lower herself having to fake the heebie jeebies in this warmed over “Poltergeist”?

Even with ghostly images coming out of the woodwork, the terror is strictly of the ho-hum variety, much too tame for horror fans expecting blood curdling thrills and chills. What did you expect from a tepid PG-13 shocker?

This paranormal foolishness lapses into cheap sentiment and hardly makes a ripple on your nervous system with 2 stars. There was movie years ago called “I Remember Mama”. You’ll forget all about this “Mama” in no time at all.


Cold Weather Safety Tips

January 22nd, 2013 at 8:39 pm by under Weather

Here are some safety tips for dealing with the extreme cold that will be with us this week.

1. Dress in layers, cover all exposed skin and keep dry. Wear a hat and gloves/mittens. Be especially cautious of frostbite and hypothermia.

2. It is recommended to keep indoor temperatures at or above 55 degrees.

3. Check your automobile for proper fuel, antifreeze, windshield wiper fluid and oil levels. Check your car battery as well.

4. Be especially cautious of fire places and any indoor heating device for the potential of carbon monoxide poisoning. Never use a generator inside your home.

5. Be sure to bring pets indoors

More winter weather tips are available at: http://www.Ready.Gov/winter-weather


“Broken City”

January 20th, 2013 at 3:29 pm by under A Look at the Movies

Three-StarRated R
1 hour 50 minutes

Starring: Russell Crowe, Mark Walberg, Catherine Zeta-Jones

Crime and corruption during New York’s bitter mayoral election makes “Broken City” an intriguing destination.

Especially since Russell Crowe relishes his ruthless nature as the shifty politician. Crowe’s performance gets my vote as the best reason for seeing this smart and sassy political thriller. It soon becomes apparent just what’s behind Crowe’s unlikely alliance with ex-cop Mark Walberg.

Walberg lives dangerously weaving through the tangled plot involving the mayor’s sinister administration.

Could the city’s first lady Catherine Zeta-Jones be two timing her unscrupulous public servant of a husband? Looks like there’s more dirty work for lapdog Walberg to do for his boss, the Mayor.

If anything, “Broken City” has too many unanswered questions. But the snappy screenplay exploring shady dealings in high places catches just the right mood of “Broken City” shenanigans.

The movie ticket you buy entitles you to a first rate political thriller, and you get what you pay for. In the proper spirit of the picture’s take on morality, you might even say “Broken City” deserves to be paid off with 3 stars. “Broken City” has all the ingredients for a zesty night at the movies.


“Gangster Squad”

January 19th, 2013 at 1:02 pm by under A Look at the Movies

Two_StarRated R

2 hours 10 minutes

Starring: Josh Brolin, Ryan Gosling, Sean Penn

Life is cheap among the mostly one dimensional characters in “Gangster Squad”. In desperation, the cops become vigilantes to bring down Los Angeles Mobster Mickey Cohen.

But the Incredible blood spattered shoot ‘em up is mostly a waste of good actors.

Straight arrow Josh Brolin has to convince skeptical Ryan Gosling to join the noble cause. The realistic 1950′s atmosphere is just about the only thing “Gangster Squad” has going for it as far as credibility’s concerned.

That, along with Sean Penn’s foaming at the mouth performance as the infamous Los Angeles crime boss, who sees the unorthodox Police action whittling away his underworld empire.

Dramatically the film looks phony, the characters unreal, like some gaudy western with tommy guns instead of six shooters.

“Gangster Squad” is closer in spirit to “Dick Tracy” than that really solid period piece, “L.A. Confidential”. And no one in the cast is more misused than Emma Stone. We’re to believe she seamlessly switches from Mickey Cohen’s “Gang Moll” to Ryan Gosling’s lover.

“Gangster Squad” comes up with numerous other conclusions that are just too tough to swallow. Is it any wonder, “Ganger Squad” musters only enough dramatic punch for a woefully inadequate 2 stars.

With bullets flying every which way, we know why the shaky script ended up with so many holes.


“Hyde Park On Hudson”

January 13th, 2013 at 1:31 pm by under A Look at the Movies

Three-StarRated R

1 hour 35 minutes

Starring: Bill Murray, Laura Linney, Olivia Williams

Did you know that President Franklin D. Roosevelt was quite the lady’s man at the family retreat called “Hyde Park On Hudson”?

Bill Murray puts himself in Oscar contention as the charming seducer who knew how to mix politics with pleasure.

“Hyde Park On Hudson” is based on the memoirs of his distant Cousin, played by Laura Linney, about how they became, how should we say, best friends.

In those days, reporters were too protective to write about presidential indiscretions.

But this Masterpiece theater style drama is mostly about the historic visit by the king and queen of England. Master politician and gracious host that he was, FDR showed compassion for the less than confident English monarch.

and when Cousin Daisy discovered she had to share FDR with his most private Secretary Missy, he defused potential jealousy with his usual personal diplomacy.

“Hyde Park On Hudson” will also treat you with the utmost dignity, If you’re a serious moviegoer.

All that wit and drama come together with enough historical perspective to earn “Hyde Park On Hudson” a very elegant 3 stars. And don’t forget, from start to finish It’s Bill Murray’s greatest acting triumph.


Dense Fog Driving Tips

January 12th, 2013 at 9:14 pm by under Weather

Lately we’ve been dealing with a lot of dense fog  that forms when warm moist air moves over the cold snow covered ground.

Here are some tips for driving when dense fog moves in.

•Drive with lights on low beam. High beams will only be reflected back off the fog and actually impair visibility even more.

•Reduce your speed — and watch your speedometer. Fog creates a visual illusion of slow motion when you may actually be speeding.

•Listen for traffic you cannot see. Open your window a little, to hear better.

•Use wipers and defrosters as necessary for maximum visibility.

•Use the right edge of the road or painted road markings as a guide.

•Be patient. Do not pass lines of traffic.

•Do not stop on a freeway or heavily traveled road. If your car stalls or becomes disabled, turn your vehicle’s lights off, and take your foot off of the brake pedal. People tend to follow tail lights when driving in fog. Move away from the vehicle to avoid injury.


“Promised Land”

January 12th, 2013 at 2:49 pm by under A Look at the Movies

Three-StarRated R
1 hour 45 minutes

Starring: Matt Damon, Hal Holbrook, Frances McDormand

Hollywood’s social conscience peeks through in a fine movie called “Promised Land”. It’s the cautionary tale warning small town farm folk about the dangers of Fracking. You know, selling natural gas drilling rights to those ruthless corporate types.

Cynical farm boy Matt Damon high pressures a depressed middle America town with an offer he says they’d be fools to refuse. 30 million dollars un deer the town he estimates as a best case scenario.

This deceptively folksy homespun drama carries a strong warning label, Frank Capra style, that big business couldn’t care less about the little guy.

It takes a crusty Farmer, passionately played by ageless Hal Holbrook to stop Damon in his tracks.

The plot thickens when environmental activist John Krasinski joins the struggle. By the way, both Krasinski and Damon wrote the perceptive screenplay. They even injected an intriguing plot twist just to deepen the issue. And Damon doesn’t know what to expect from his adversary.

“Promised Land” takes a thoughtful approach to something that’s happening right now. Which isn’t something Hollywood does very often. Let’s give “Promised Land” credit for that with 3 stars.

You know, I don’t think Matt Damon’s ever made a bad film..


“The Impossible”

January 6th, 2013 at 10:51 am by under A Look at the Movies

Four-StarRated PG-13
1 hour 50 minutes

Starring: Naomi Watts, Ewan McGregor, Tom Holland

The most courageous film in a long time is also the most powerful. And “The Impossible” deserves our respect. It’s the true story of how a vacationing family gets separated by the 2004 Tsunami and desperately tries to reunite.

Inspired performances by Naomi Watts and a remarkable young actor named Tom Holland will take your breath away.

This is no mere disaster epic where the special effects overpower the human drama. Theirs is an agonizing search for each other. I can’t imagine a stronger movie conveying the pain, suffering and uncertainty.

None of the separated siblings and parents have any idea what’s become of their loved ones.

As seen through the eyes of the victims, “The Impossible” is frequently so gripping it’s painful to watch. A film this strong fills you with admiration for the people being depicted and for the moviemaker fearless enough to pour his heart and soul into this stirring drama.

Just the realism alone makes “The Impossible” a staggering achievement. And what Naomi Watts goes through is the height of disaster drama. It’s impossible not to reward this overpowering film with 4 stars. It’s really a great film that you dare not miss.