FF XVI, 44


Frank Fax Facts

And Reviews

     Volume XVI, No. 44

Sunday, Jan. 16, 2011


Cold weather has been the order of the day for most of this week in Mobile. The natives complain a lot (and make my life miserable by insisting the temperature for our bridge game remain around 80 degrees! Do they always want to wear short sleeves as well as shorts? I enjoy getting to wear a few of my nice long sleeved shirts (thanks to my nieces) and long pants. So, bring on the cooler temps for me, please!

I resigned from my job at St. Edmund’s this week. My vision grows weaker and weaker, and it is increasingly difficult to tell if the notes of the music I play are on lines or spaces. I’ve had some embarrassing moments when I was so far off the mark that it was disastrous.

But I am now looking forward to doing lots of things I have been unable to do for the last five (and more) years. I will again be home on Sundays except for going to mass. And I will no longer have to rise and shine at 3:30-4:00! I plan to give a lot more time to my writing now.


Cat Fax

A tabby named Dusty gave birth to 420 kittens in her lifetime.


The largest kitten litter on record was produced by a Burmese/Siamese cat in 1970. There were 19 kittens, however 4 of them were stillborn.

(“Strange but True Cats”; Cliff Road Books)


DVD Reviews

Extraordinary Measures (CBS-Sony)

If Depression is your bag, you do not want to miss this true story. It is obvious from ‘Scene I’ that all will be resolved and the happy ending lies just around the corner (after almost two solid hours of Harrison Ford and Brendan Fraser, giving two of the most frustrating performances of their careers). In my opinion, Fraser had one of the most promising dramatic actor’s careers in Hollywood, but somewhere along the way, he deserted drama for comedy (if any of you thought any of the Mummy films were funny-or even a tenth as spooky as the original Universal series starring Lon Chaney, Jr.) and then there was that obscenity “Something of the Mounties”! But finally, someone offered him the role as the father of two children with an incurable disease called "Pompe" (pronounced like city destroyed by Mt. Vesuvius). The complicated disease affects the child’s breathing, and causes the heart to grow too large too soon (something about the wrong chromosomes—all too complex for my poor brain to digest) but the maximum life expectancy was 8 years. John Crowley (Fraser), who works for a medical research firm, and his long-suffering wife (Keri Russell) have three children; Megan (the eldest) celebrates her eighth birthday early in the film.
Crowley has followed the research of Dr. Robert Stonehill (Ford) who has been working on creating a new enzyme that would cure the disease so Crowley travels to Nebraska where he confronts the scientist and offers to start a foundation to finance Stonehill’s research.

Now, this is when the acting gets out of hand (for me, anyway). Harrison Ford is still playing Indiana Jones (in effect) and treats the rest of the immediate world as if they were all peasants. Poor Fraser has to try to keep him from alienating the rest of the research world and turning allies and business partners into adversaries. Really, I got awfully uncomfortable watching some of this, and when the “Cure” finally is produced, it is all too predictable and “Pat”. (*)


The City of Your Final Destination (Screen Media Films)

These films are as different as Day and Night! For me, Merchant and Ivory productions were the highlights of the 1980’s and ‘90s’ but lost most of their luster after that. Now, James Ivory (I rather infer that his partner is no longer with us, even though his name is still listed first). Who could ever forget those enchanting British period gems: “Room with a View”, “Maurice”, Howard’s End”, etc.

For this film, however, Ivory chose Uruguay as its setting (or rather, Peter Cameron, the book’s author did). The complicated story is about a brilliant young academic (Omar Merwally) travels to South America in hopes of convincing a trio of literary heirs to grant him permission to write an authorized biography of famous deceased author Jules Gund. When Omar (whose name actually is Omar) arrives unannounced in the lush and exotic landscape of modern Uruguay, to woo Guld’s family, he finds the late author’s brother, Adam (Anthony Hopkins) proud and unrelenting widow, Caroline (Laura Linney) and shy, sweet and lovely Arden, who had been the author’s mistress (Charlotte Gainsborough) living together on Gund’s family estate Ocho Rios, cut off from the world and guarding a secret history.

Urged on by girlfriend, Deidre* (Alexandra Maria Lara) Omar begins to unravel the web of romance, betrayals, and heartbreak that lies over the lush setting. As he struggles to gain the trust of the heirs, Omar becomes seduced by the world of Ocho Rios and its inhabitants.

For me, this was the highlight of the past six months, at least. Hopkins has long been a special actor for me. Linney has been on my “favorites” list, too. She is always believable, as well as having classic beauty. I love stories with beautiful locales that I have never seen before; and for many other reasons, this is simply a magnificent movie experience. (****)


*I have never liked any character in any story I have read or seen in films. I remember how much I disliked Diedre in “All Creatures Great and Small”, and the obnoxious young vet who had just joined Herriot and Siegfred (or was it Tristan?) This particular control freak (which they always seem to be) really got my goat!



Monday, January 24, 2011