Friday’s Hero ~ 5.3.13

This gave me a little lump in my throat…

Notes from a Southern Kitchen

FRIDAY’S

Week after week we hear about heroes, people who make a difference.  This week I salute a selfless hero who made a difference for someone he doesn’t know and may never know.  Below you will find the news story, as reported by CNN, of a New Hampshire college athlete who put a total stranger’s needs ahead of his own.

This Week’s Friday‘s Hero is Cameron Lyle. 

NH Athlete Gives Up Career to Give Gift of Life  cameron

(CNN) — A University of New Hampshire athlete is making a big sacrifice to potentially save a life.  He is ending his career. so he can donate bone marrow to a cancer patient he has never met.

You probably haven’t heard of Cameron Lyle.

He was a star college athlete, but for the sport of shot put, discus and hammer, which don’t get the same coverage as football.

Lyle recently did something…

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Southern Haunts: Spirits That Walk Among Us Down South Spooks

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Edited by Alexander S. Brown and  J. L. Mulvihill; illustrated by Robert K and published by Seventh Star Press, this anthology of 16 ghostly tales range from Missouri to Louisiana and use real life locations to start each story off.

While some of the stories are not as entertaining as others, the introduction to new authors is an overall treat.  I also liked the different types of ghost stories on offer. Each is an original take on already infamous buildings, roads, and areas filled with southern  spooks and legends.

You won’t meet any chain rattling spooks or moaning ghouls a la Dickens, but you will find a very disparate group of hauntings in this “Down South” multi-locational collection of short stories.

You’ll be introduced to the soothing, healing bath houses of Hot Springs, Arkansas where you’d be wise to avoid one house in particular. [Bath 10]

There is a job opening for a new ghost hunter on an existing team that you may want to pass on to some other job seeking applicant.[Interview for a Ghost Hunter]

And there’s a certain Civil War hospital you wouldn’t want to check into. [The Top Floor]

Southern Haunts is just one of several anthologies on offer at the moment that give us a view of what lies out there just waiting for us to discover it. It is full of variety and has something in it that should appeal to everyone who loves this genre.

This book is available on Amazon.com and other booksellers.

A 4 out of 5 stars for me based just on the variety and the setting. I am, after all, a southern boy who loves his southern ghosts!

Alexander S Brown
Alexander S Brown
J L Mulvihill
J L Mulvihill

Ip Man (2008): Donnie Yen’s Masterful Performance

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It is not often that a film benefits from having not just one legend, but two associated with it. Ip Man has two. Starring the legendary Donnie Yen in what is quite possibly his best role ever and featuring choreography by the legendary Sammo Hung. (Who when asked how he was going to work with Yen to direct the action scenes, Hung replied matter-of-factly, “With my mouth.”) *Wikipedia* 

Both men are well-known for their fight choreography with Sammo nudging Donnie out by sheer number of years that he’s been practising his craft.

Directed with past Yen collaborator  Wilson Yip, Ip Man is the “true story” of Yip Man grandmaster of Wing Chun and master of film legend Bruce Lee. Touted as being semi-biographcal, the film is pretty liberal with the “truth” as things of this nature tend to be. While the rudimentary facts may be correct a lot of things were added to make the film more entertaining.

Despite this frugality with the real facts, the film is a powerful one. The recreation of Foshan in Shanghai looks so authentic you feel as if the film company had really gone back in time to shoot the scenes.

Some complaints were raised about Ip Man’s house being incorrect and that he never shovelled coal during the occupation and the facts of his move to Hong Kong are misleading. But as the film The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance says, “print the legend.” Or in this case, make it up.

Yen is stunning as the placid, peace-loving martial artist who won’t give lessons and spars with the local masters privately in order to save them the public embarrassment of being beaten.

At one point, he has to take on a usurper from outside the town. This ruffian fights his way through all the Foshan martial art instructors until only Ip Man is left. Going to his home, the outsider brings what looks like the members of every school in the town to watch him beat Ip Man.

Everyone in Foshan knows that Ip Man will be victorious and he is.

Everything changes in 1937 when the Japanese invade China and this is where majority of the drama and tension come into the film.

The legendary Sammo Hung.
The legendary Sammo Hung.

The fight scenes are exciting, original, and furious. The Wing Chun style is breathtaking to watch and the other martial arts battles are impressive as well.

The entire cadre of actors in the film sold their characters and I spotted quite a few familiar faces in it.

My only complaint was that in some instances parts of the story were a bit “over the top” so that it almost felt like a “kitchen sink” drama instead of a biopic. But theatricality aside the film looks, overall, fantastic and I got caught up with the characters and the “true” story completely.

A real 5 out of 5 stars for a film that had me munching my popcorn furiously throughout. I’m now going to “watch’ my way through the rest of the films in this four film series.

Even if you don’t love martial arts films the story of Yip Man could turn you into a fan.

The real Ip Man (Yip Man) and a young Bruce Lee.
The real Ip Man (Yip Man) and a young Bruce Lee.

Once Bitten, Twice Shy: Coming Back

Stolen from Nataha's blog!
Stolen from Nataha’s blog!

Natasha Harmer is making an independent short film, I think we all know that by now; especially if you’ve been reading my blog. The film is called Once Bitten, Twice Shy and I have the lead role.

This event has excited me beyond all measure. The profession I had turned my back on not once, not twice, but three times is in my world again. This time I have no complaining spouses or jobs that demand I give them all my attention.

The only thing I have now that will affect my decision to take the role so generously offered by Natasha is me. And since I’ve decided that I can and will  do this (in a damn the torpedoes full speed ahead type thing) I’m dredging up old tricks of the trade and trying to remember things that I never quite forgot.

While I have yet to find out if this is akin to riding a bike, I know that I have done this before. In 1989 I found out that I could still memorize my lines quickly for an audition cold read and get the part.  On a nice note, the folks who hired me paid me the ultimate compliment of saying that I was the most professional person they’d worked with in Holland. That little incident generated a bit of interest that had me very busy for a short while.But my “day job” got in the way.

The New Van Der Valk - Dangerous Games - my episode. LOL
The New Van Der Valk – Dangerous Games  1991 – my episode. LOL

 

My employer (Uncle Sam) demanded the vast majority of my attention and because he was the source of my steady income, I had to turn my back on a lot of what was offered.

But I’ve walked down this nostalgic path with you all before. I think I devoted quite a few anecdotal posts about my somewhat chequered acting past. I won’t bore you with further tales of same.

I will, though, thank Natasha. She read my posts and remembered me when casting for her film. Bless you, for giving me the chance to prove I’ve still got the chops. The people I’ll be acting with have great bona fides and I’m eager to meet them and work with them. I only hope they forgive my lack of recent experience!

The filming date has been set and storyboards are being done as I write this post. It is full steam ahead with the film’s website being finalised and updated. I pick up my script at least ten times a day, sometimes read the whole thing through and get all excited again. This is going to be great, methinks.

I’m excited as well, because I think this might just be another turning point for me. I’m pretty sure it will be as I’ve had so many “turning points” in my life, I’m starting to get good at recognising them.

The storyboards!
The storyboards! Also stolen from Natasha’s blog!

 

 

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005): A Gay Buddy Film

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After being told by numerous people (well, two at least) that Kiss Kiss Bang Bang was a dynamite film that showed implicitly that Shane Black was an awesome director before Iron Man 3, I decided to watch it. Especially after seeing a clip from the film that featured Val Kilmer, Robert Downey Jr and Evan Parke where Downey shoots Parke in the head.

Despite that sounding bad, it was actually quite funny and after being told by my soon-to-be illustrious director Natasha Harmer that, “Oh, it gets even better.” Watching the film became a “done deal.” Just for the record the other “fan” of this film is my daughter Meg’s significant other Max.

Based, in part, on a Brett Halliday novel titled Bodies are Where You Find Them (whatever that means) and with a screen story/screenplay written by Shane Black and directed by same, – And yes, it’s the Shane Black who wrote the Lethal Weapon films, plural, and other great bits of movie magic – Kiss Kiss Bang Bang or KKBB as I’ll refer to it for the rest of this post, is a kick ass, funny film with just enough tongue in cheek humour directed at the audience to take the sting of the sadder bits of the film.

Whew! Try reading that last marathon of a sentence with one breath. Go ahead, try! I dare you!

Narrated by Downey, KKBB is a journey through the Los Angeles movie crowd as dictated by every movie ever made about Hollywood. It abounds with stereotypes, clichés and enough two-dimensional characters to populate a Top Cat cartoon.

But…

These have all been done on purpose. At the beginning of the film, Downey is introducing himself as our narrator and cheerfully telling us how bad he is going to be and then proceeds to show us. He also starts the film standing by a heated swimming pool, occasionally dipping his shoes into the water.

The reference to Sunset Boulevard is obvious and if you didn’t see it? Shame on you! Now go out now and watch Sunset Boulevard and tell me you can’t see the reference. I’ll wait.

Gay Perry and Harry...There must be a joke there somewhere...
Gay Perry and Harry…There must be a joke there somewhere…

Downey plays Harold a cheap thief who gets to Hollywood and the fabulous party with the pool via a  perfectly timed escape from east coast cops where he bursts into an audition and gets hired. While at the party he meets Val Kilmer, a gay private detective who goes by the name of Gay Perry. He meets the host who is mega rich and mega rich Harlan Dexter (played by Corben Bernsen who makes a great bad guy) and sees a girl that piques his interest.

Later he finds out that this intriguing girl is non-other than Harmony Faith Lane (Michelle Monaghan), a childhood crush from his hometown. While trying to win the girl, Harold gets involved with Gay Perry to learn how to be a detective. This “one-night-stand” results in a murder mystery that serpentines through the entire film involving all the main characters.

Love interest Harmony. I will resist all temptation to make jokes about Christmas Stockings...
Love interest Harmony. I will resist all temptation to make jokes about Christmas Stockings…

Downey was, as usual, brilliant. How anyone can put themselves through so much substance abuse hell and still continually “knock it out of the park” is beyond me, but we’re glad he can.

Val Kilmer actually entertained me for once and I actually liked his character.  So kudos to the man who I’ve never really liked much except for  his Doc Holliday in Tombstone and  his role in the  film Red Planet, where he also knocked his role(s) out of the park.

Michelle Monaghan was quirky and cute and funny. She was also sad and funny as the girl who “didn’t make it.” Her bear/beer commercial was sadly funny as well, although having actor Laurence Fishburne voicing said bear in the commercial didn’t hurt.

This film is a real 5 out of 5 stars effort by all concerned. It didn’t quite make me feel a full range of emotion. I cannot, hand on heart, say that, “I laughed, I cried, blah blah.” But laugh I did and the film delivered so adequately on that score that sometimes I even laughed when it wasn’t politically correct to do so.

A great film, that shows that Shane Black is more than a one trick pony.

Simply Great.

Downey Jr and Black...Bromance...
Downey Jr and Black…Bromance…