The Functional Hermit

musings from a homebody

Archive for April 2009

Big meeting, too much coffee

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I had a really big client meeting today.

To prepare, I sat in a sauna and then drank four cups of coffee. Now after chugging seven glasses of water, I still cannot take a piss.

We’re going to have to take our client out for too many drinks and dinner so if I don’t hydrate, this night is not going to have a happy ending.

Written by the bee dub

April 27, 2009 at 6:00 pm

Posted in Daily Happenings

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Falcons GM scores big with trade but not with mustache

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Thomas Dimitroff pulled off one of the most best trades of this offseason, scoring Tony Gonzalez from the Chiefs for the Falcons’ second-round pick next year. Awesome move for them considering that Tony Gonzalez had more red-zone touchdowns from inside the 10 yard line than the entire Falcons’ team did last season.

Unfortunately, Dimitroff has decided to start sporting a new mustache. My guess is this is because he looks so young he’s going for a more seasoned, mature look. In reality, it just makes him look like a bad Willem Dafoe impersonator.

Written by the bee dub

April 24, 2009 at 6:48 pm

Bacon, LA Style

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Los Angeles is the only place I’ve ever been where you have to specify that you want your bacon cooked crisp. I forgot about that and today it came out limp. Bacon needs to be cooked until it can maintain its structural integrity, so that you can hold it by one end and the whole thing will still stick out.

At least since I ate at the hotel, that two-egg breakfast only cost me more than thirty dollars. Unbelievable.

Written by the bee dub

April 24, 2009 at 6:33 pm

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The Hermit Hits The Road

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I’m going to be away from home for almost two weeks. That’s the longest I’ve been away from my home and family since…hell, I can’t remember. I’ve been away for around a week plenty of times and those trips always got old around the end. For this trip I had to buy a new bag to fit enough stuff, though I don’t even own two weeks’ worth of underwear to pack. As someone who enjoys being at home more than anything else, I’m feeling a bit of trepidation over being gone for so long.

Making this even more intense is that I’m going to Los Angeles for the bulk of this trip, then to visit my parents for a few days. We’ve got a pretty intense work project to finish in LA and I’m really hoping things go smoothly. I’ve just been so crazed with work lately. All of 2009 has just been go, go, go and mind you I’m not complaining. It’s really good to have a job (and benefits) right now, especially since Mrs. Hermit lost her job.

Things might have just worked out for the best though. My wife’s job was super intense and I think she could really use the break the recharge. If this project goes well, I’ll be in a good position, if even for just a short while, at work which is a secure feeling. And it’s always good to get back on the West Coast. That always felt like home to me, even though I grew up outside of New York City. In lots of ways, I can’t believe I ever left California. Plus we’re staying in the Loew’s Santa Monica which is right on the beach so there’s definitely worse ways to spend a business trip.

I’m also going to get to stay in my brother’s very sweet NYC apartment when I’m there and he’ll be gone for most of it. That’s lucky because after LA I’m probably going to be feeling very exhausted. It will be good to see him after I’ve been there a couple of days and he gets back into town.

Life’s been really hectic lately and that’s why I haven’t been posting nearly as much as I’d like. I’ve got a few movie reviews to put up and I’m way behind on writing in general. But these days, better to be busy than slow. That’s for sure.

I’ll have plenty of details of the trip to put up here I’m sure.

Written by the bee dub

April 22, 2009 at 6:46 pm

Hermit Cinema: RocknRolla – Addendum

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I had some second thoughts on my earlier review of this movie and thought it would only be fair to write them down. For some time I found myself talking a lot about this movie so it obviously left a big impression on me, more than I realized.

The subplot about the painting that changes hands throughout the movie is also more genius than I initially gave credit for. (Spoiler alert) The fact that you never get to see the actual painting makes it even more intriguing and is a master stroke of audience manipulation. I’m dying to know what the painting is, what it looks like, and why it is the Russian tycoon’s favorite?

For all these reasons and a few others, I have to upgrade my previous assessment. I give this movie a solid B.

Written by the bee dub

April 15, 2009 at 2:57 pm

Posted in DVD Reviews

Hermit Cinema: RocknRolla

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I’m a huge fan of Guy Ritchie movies. Actually, let me correct that. I’m a huge fan of Guy Ritchie English-gangster movies. Someone at work who shares a similar taste in movies as myself turned me onto this movie and I was really looking forward to it. That being said, I’d say it was good but didn’t quite live up to my expectations.

There are two factors that really enhanced a sense of ‘buildup’ that can be fatal to a movie-watching experience. First, the aforementioned recommendation of someone I trust. And second, the incredible cast, perhaps the strongest I’ve seen in a movie of this genre. With both of those, my expectations were sky high.

The plot, as it often is in a Guy Ritchie gangster film, is highly convoluted so please bear with me.

The movie is narrated by Archy (Mark Strong), the right-hand man to Lenny (the very outstanding Tom Wilkinson) who is a powerful man making things happen in London’s underworld. The presence of Tom Wilkinson alone really upped the ante on my expectations. The only other role I’ve seen Mark Strong in was as Mussawi in Syriana, which is a strong testament to his powers of actor-ly transformation. I never would have guessed those two characters were played by the same actor.

The movie mostly centers on the story of One Two (Gerard Butler) and Mumbles (Idris Elba, who was outstanding as Stringer Bell in The Wire), two thieves in the London underworld. They get tipped off to some big scores by Stella (the excellent Thandie Newton), an accountant to a shady Russian business tycoon. This tycoon is trying to get some major projects underway around London and needs Lenny to grease the wheels of non-legitimate capitalism to make them happen. Problem is, every time the tycoon asks Stella for some ‘off the books’ cash to pay Lenny, Stella tips off One Two and Mumbles who then rip off the cash.

Meanwhile, One Two and Mumbles often hang out with the rest of their gang, over which hangs the dark spectre of an informant responsible for every one of them and everyone they know getting sent away for some prison time. Their mate Handsome Bob (Tom Hardy, who played Clarkie in Layer Cake) is due to begin his own four-year stretch the very next day. Bob has an embarrassing ‘secret’ that makes for a pretty funny subplot.

On top of all this is the Russian tycoon’s favorite painting, which he gives to Lenny as a token of good luck to be kept only for the duration of their business deal, then returned. Problem is, Lenny’s stepson Johnny Quid (Toby Kebbell who plaed Sidney in Layer Cake) apparently steals the painting which doesn’t make sense because Quid, something of a pop star, has been reported killed in the media. This loops Johnny Quid’s managers, Roman (Jeremy Piven) and Mickey (Ludacris/Chris Bridges) into the whole affair.

Confused? Shit, try watching the movie and writing the plot down. My head hurts from trying to explain it. Especially because like many of his other gangster films, the convoluted plot is really secondary. It’s the hilarity that comes from everything not going as planned that makes Ritchie’s movies so entertaining.

I will say that there is one awesome extended scene with two Russian hired-muscle types, comparing scars and then pursuing the people who ripped them off, that is beyond entertaining. Watching their relentlessness is hilariously disturbing.

Butler was excellent in this role, but that may just be because the only other movie I’ve seen him in is 300 as Leonidas. So it may have simply been the fact that it was very was refreshing to see him reading dialogue…THAT…WASN’T…BEING…PRONOUNCED…AS…A…WAR…SPEECH.

This movie was entertaining and fun. It just didn’t live up to the very strong cast and my high expectations. I give it a B minus.

Written by the bee dub

April 13, 2009 at 1:52 pm

Hermit Cinema: Quantum of Solace

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To put it simply, this is a very good action movie with a ridiculously stupid title.

Seriously, Quantum of Solace? What is up with that? Why not call it The Action Movie That Took Itself Too Serioiusly? But enough with the put-downs because this is a great addition to the franchise (is there any other way to put it?) that is James Bond.

This is a critical movie in the Daniel Craig era of James Bond. The first one was very good and to me, this one was even better. Like a good sandwich or pizza place, you really can’t make a good call on how you feel until the second time you go. (Mark, remember how that second avocado sandwich never lived up to the first?) This sophomore effort definitely does not disappoint.

The movie picks up shortly after Casino Royale, which I thought would be a challenge because it’s been so long since I’ve seen that movie, I didn’t know if I’d be able to relate. But it was no big deal. It starts with a very well done car chase, a short bit of dialogue, then another chase on foot. It gets you right into what we really want out of Bond.

Daniel Craig is just the shit as Bond. The best one since Sean Connery. Totally lives up to the high expectations I had of him in the role after seeing him in the totally kickass Layer Cake. He’s despondent over his loss at the end of Casino Royale and he’s out for vengeance. Judi Dench returns as M and adds a dimension to these movies that seems to make a mockery of her role during the Pierce Brosnan run. Nothing against Pierce mind you, I just think the powers-that-be realized they had to redirect the Bond legacy and they chose a wise course to take.

I know, I know. We’ve all read how Bond is now darker/rougher around the edges and I hate to agree to obsequiously. But the action is way more brutal while still retaining its over-the-top quality that makes it so entertaining. I also like how they’ve gone away from their obsession with spy gadgets. He still has some but they’re just there. The gadgets are not obviously trying to impress you.

Mathieu Amalric plays Dominic Greene, the villain. He’s a great actor and he plays a good bad guy (if you want to see him at his best check out Diving Bell and the Butterfly – simply awesome.) There’s a Bond girl, Olga Kurylenko, only they don’t get it on and that was refreshing. Jeffrey Wright, who I think is one of the best American actors of our day, makes an underused appearance as CIA man Felix Leiter and I can only hope they’re foreshadowing more involvement from his character in the future. Kurylenko plays a mysterious (beautiful, of course) woman who keeps crossing paths with 007.

The basic plot goes like this. There’s a shadowy organization out there called Quantum, that freaks out British intelligence because they hardly know a thing about it except that it exists. It becomes obvious they have ‘people’ in some very sensitive, important places. Dominic Greene (Amalric) is an energy tycoon who is gobbling up seemingly worthless tracts of land in an attempt to corner the market on the world’s ‘next most valuable commodity,’ with the cooperation of the CIA. Part of this plan involves returning a Central American dictator to power. Throughout the movie, Bond is trying to unravel Greene’s intentions, find out more about Quantum and avenge the death of a loved one. Does he succeed? He’s James Fucking Bond. What do you think?

I give this action movie an A minus. In fact, I’ll probably watch it a few more times before sending it back to Netflix.

Written by the bee dub

April 3, 2009 at 1:51 pm

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