Monday, August 27, 2018

Adventure is a Family Business

First of all, you'll note that I've changed the title of my blog. The URL remains the same, but I think three-fourths of the visitors I was getting were mainly people looking for actual apartments by rivers for rental. I'd like to see what kind of traffic I get when people aren't mistaking this for a rental blog.

Kicked off a hazy, sunny morning with breakfast and my original cast album for Sweet Charity. Figured I'd run the musicals Neil Simon wrote for the next few days in his honor. Poor Charity (Gwen Verdon), a taxi dancer in New York City, can't seem to catch a break. The first guy we encounter her with dumps her in the river. The second is an Italian movie star who uses her to make his mistress jealous. Guy number three is Oscar, a nice but shy accountant whom she meets in a stuck elevator. He genuinely likes her, and she thinks he's really sweet...but she's afraid to tell him what her real occupation is...

This tale of a lady who keeps looking for love in the worst possible places is kind of meandering and a little bit dated, but it does have some great music by Cy Coleman and Dorothy Fields. "There's Gotta Be Something Better Than This," a trio for Charity and two of her friends at the dance hall when they dream of finding decent jobs, is my favorite number. I also like Charity's "I'm the Bravest Individual" to cheer up Oscar in the elevator, "The Rhythm of Life" for a strange chuck that Oscar takes Charity to, and the chorus song "I Love to Cry at Weddings."

Worked on writing for a while around 10:30, shortly after Charlie went downstairs with his dad (for the day, as it turned out). Yasmin has her men tie Leia to a chair in the room that holds all her illegally-purchased antiquities. She's been using the khyber crystal taken from the Sword of Wisdom to manipulate fellow business people into doing her bidding...including hypnotizing the FBI agent Oola Twylar into driving off a cliff. She tries to use it to force Leia to tell her what she knows about the Sword and its powers, but Leia's not talking...

Broke for lunch at 1. Put on another Neil Simon-penned musical as I ate coffee yogurt and half of a cantaloupe. Most people think Broadway cannibalizing Hollywood movies for musicals is a recent development, but it's been happening for years. Case in point is the 1968 hit Promises, Promises, based after the Oscar-winning comedy The Apartment. Chuck (Jerry Orbach) is a normal guy who, hoping to advance in his job, lets his bosses use his bachelor quarters for extramarital affairs. He's mostly ok with it, until he learns that one of these mistresses is the girl he has a crush on, Fran (Jill O'Hara). Fran nearly kills herself after his boss won't marry her, but it's Chuck and a neighbor who cheers her up...and makes her realize who she really loves.

It's too bad that a revival with Kristen Chenowith in 2010 didn't do very well. There's some terrific music here, some of the best by Burt Bacharach and Hal David. "I'll Never Fall In Love Again" is the standard, but I also enjoy "She Likes Basketball" for an adorkable Chuck as he swoons over Fran and two sad ballads for Fran, "Knowing When to Leave" and "Whoever You Are." (The revival added two more David-Bacharach hits, "A House Is Not a Home" and "I Say a Little Prayer.")

Headed to work before the record had ended. Work was off-and-on busy despite the dry 90-degree heat. I spent the majority of the day outside, doing carts. The head bagger did take over for me during my break, and I helped her with returns and shelving candy, but she'd been outside for most of the morning. There wasn't anything I could do about it. The carts kept vanishing. It was especially bad around rush hour.

Went straight home after work and right into leftovers with escarole for dinner. Watched Tomb Raider while I ate. Lara Croft (Alicia Vikander) is a bike courier who is constantly in trouble. After she's bailed out of her most recent scrape by her missing father's former partner Ana (Kristin Scott Thomas), she reluctantly takes over his business...and discovers a vast office in the bottom of her father's tomb. He's done research and has gone in search of a mythical Japanese sorceress who may have been able to kill or heal at will. Lara ignores her father's video warning to burn his research and goes to Hong Kong to find the ship he was going to take to Japan. She finally convinces a drunk Chinese youth named Lu Ren (Daniel Wu), whose father took Lara's to the island and vanished when he did. They're capsized in a storm and fall into the clutches of Mathais Vogel (Walton Goggins), a rival of Richard Croft, and his expedition. Lara manages to escape from him, but little does she know that her father isn't as dead as everyone thinks...and that the power in the tomb is not eternal life, but a slow, painful death.

I'm a big fan of Indiana Jones-style adventure tales, but this one has it's ups and downs. Casting is the main problem. Vikander is too dainty-looking to pass for a rugged female adventurer, and she spends more time running and being beat up than anything. Goggins is a bland villain, too. The story really isn't anything you haven't seen before. On the other hand, there's some absolutely spectacular action here, including Lara fleeing Vogel and his group and the discovery of the tomb.

(In some ways, this reminds me a bit of The Last Jedi, especially the relationship between Lara and her father.)

There was enough that I liked here that I didn't mind the rental, and I actually hope Warners, despite this movie's failure at the box office, picks up on those loose threads about the Croft family business in the finale. If you're a fan of adventure tales like me, especially with a female lead, this one deserves better than it got in theaters last winter and is worth checking out.

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