RegularFrank

Mar 292012
 

Director: Steve James

Rating: PG-13

Running Time: 106 Minutes

Release Date: 1/24/1997

Genre: Sports, Biography, Historical, Running

Cast: Steve Prefontaine (Jared Leto ), Bill Bowerman (R. Lee Ermey ), Bill Dellinger (Ed O’Neill ), Pat Tyson (Breckin Meyer ), Elfriede Prefontaine (Lindsay Crouse ), Nancy Alleman (Amy Locane ), Elaine Finley (Laurel Holloman ), Mac Wilkins (Brian McGovern ), Curtis Cunningham (Kurtwood Smith )

Synopsis: Biopic of Steve Prefontaine (Jared Leto ), an up and coming Oregonian distance runner in the 1970s. He is an impressive collegiate runner, that competes in the ill-fated 1972 Munich Olympics. Despite being in the lead until nearly the end of his last race, pushes himself too hard, is passed and does not win a medal. In 1975, as he is training to make his comeback and compete in the 1976 Olympics he is killed in a car accident.

Analysis: Before I had seen Prefontaine, I often heard his last name without any context except for it being related to running. For some reason I assumed that it was related to a time before Fontaine.

I was never very physical during high school or college, but over the past few years I have taken up running as my main method of exercise. I have always been a pretty slow runner and am easily discouraged. One day, I randomly caught Prefontaine when it was on HBO.  As I watched it, the life of Steve Prefontaine really touched me. Even though his life story is a tragedy in the end, the aggressiveness of his running and the attitude that the only way he would give up is if his body physically would not let him go another inch has really helped my attitude towards being discouraged in things I do.

As for running, I am only marginally faster, but I have a much better attitude for when I am getting mentally tired and will often be able to go much farther!

Pro:

  • Always makes me want to run.
  • Some of the outdoor running locations are beautiful.
  • The soundtrack is great including “Baba O’Riley” by The Who and “Crosstown Traffic “ by Jimi Hendrix.
  • The sadness after the terrorist attack at Munich was very moving.
  • Reenactment of film of running events is very well done.

Con:

  • The film is a bit choppy at times when long periods of time are skipped over.
  • When the actors are being interviewed in documentary style, it might have been nice to have the real people instead.
  • I would have liked to see more viewpoints from Prefontaine’s competitors.

Conclusion: This movie is very inspiring and sad. It is one of the only movies that it is alright for a guy to cry during, but he really should also have a bowl of onions to chop nearby in case anyone catches him!

 

Frank’s Ratings

(1-5)

Characters

3

Story

3

Special Effects

3

Would Watch Again?

5

Average

3.5

 

Mar 282012
 

Author: Larry Niven

Pages: 342

Publisher: Del Ray Books

Release Date: 10/1/1970

Genre: Science Fiction

Characters:

Louis Wu- A 200 year old human adventurer.

Nessus- He is from an alien race called Pierson’s Puppeteers. His cowardly race considers him insane because he is less cowardly than the rest of them.

Teela Brown- Phenomenally lucky young human, yet very naive.

Speaker to Animals- Part of warrior race called Kzin. He is a large dangerous humanoid tiger.

Synopsis: In the year 2850, Louis Wu, Teela Brown, Speaker-to-Animals and Nessus travel to a massive alien artifact, the Ringworld, a vast ring with a habitable surface area of 300 million Earths. After their ship is nearly destroyed by robotic defense mechanisms, they begin to search the structure and meet the inhabitants. Despite being far away from human space, the inhabitants are human, but their culture has suffered a huge cataclysm. The group of adventurers attempt to uncover the mysteries of the Ringworld and find a way to get home.

Analysis: Larry Niven has created a great classic science fiction adventure with interesting and unique characters. I’d say that one of the few drawbacks is that the Ringworld is so vast and complex that this novel only explores a very small part of it. Actually even after 3 sequels, it seems like there is much more to learn. It is part of his Known Space universe and this is just a small part of the more than a dozen novels and more short stories.

Pro:

  • Based on the Dyson Sphere, the ring is a unique compromise.
  • The Pierson’s Puppeter is an interesting creature. Engineers other creatures to make more safe.
  • Teela’s power is very interesting.

Con:

  • I have yet to hear a good reason why Kzin would look like a humanoid tiger.
  • The book too short!

Conclusion: This is a great book and is part of a great series. It is 4th time I have read it over the past 20 years and I highly recommend it to anyone that is a fan of classic science fiction.

Trivia: Over the years, the unique structure of the Ringworld has caused much debate and speculation about the real physics surrounding it and its construction.

 

Frank’s Ratings

(1-5)

Characters

4

Plot

4

Imagery

4

Read Again?

5

Average

4.25

 

Mar 272012
 

Director: Nicolas Gessner

Rating: PG

Running Time: 91 Minutes

Release Date:November 26, 1976

GenreMystery Suspense

CastRynn(Jodie Foster), Frank Hallet(Martin Sheen), Mrs. Hallet(Alexis Smith), Miglioriti(Mort Shuman), Mario(Scott Jacoby)

Synopsis: Since the death of her father, thirteen year-old Rynn (Jodie Foster) lives alone in a large house in a small New England town. With the help of another kid, Mario, she must convince the adults of town that her father is still around or they will take her away. Frank (Martin Sheen), the landlord’s creepy adult son, has also taken an unwholesome interest in her.

Analysis: I saw this film once when I was very young and it has been in my mind ever since. It is a darker and more realistic version of Pippi Longstocking, where the girl lives by herself and doesn’t need any help from the outside world, but the outside world keep intruding. Instead of tricking the adults like Pippi, Rynn gets backed into a corner and people end up dying by accident and this leads to more and more lies and the hiding of bodies.

Pro:

  • Funny chain of deaths that start with her father trying to spare her from his death.
  • Martin Sheen makes a very convincing and scary pedophile.
  • Mario has so many brothers that his parents forgot which ones had polio shots and that is why Mario has a limp.

Con:

  • The musical score is very dated from the 1970s with bass, symbols, keyboard and flute.
  • The dialogue is choppy at times, but counteracted by Fosters good acting.
  • Too much tea drinking!

Conclusion: I’m pretty sure that I was about 5 years old when I first saw this film. Around the same time, I had also seen a similar movie called A Girl Named Sooner and combined them in my head causing some strange recollections. The Little Girl That Lives Down the Lane is a pretty obscure and rare film, so I am very fortunate to have caught this on TV. Now that I have seen it again, I realize that it is a pretty good film and not as creepy as I thought.

 

Frank’s Ratings

(1-5)

Characters

3

Story

4

Special Effects

2

Would Watch Again?

3

Average

3