Monday, May 23, 2016

A Walk Among the Tombstones

Year 8, Day 144 - 5/23/16 - Movie #2,343

BEFORE: Tonight's alcoholic beverage tie-in would be "A Walk(er) Among the Two Stouts" - that would be a shot of Johnnie Walker in-between two glasses of Guinness, some Irish stout for Liam Neeson.  If I were creating a drink to go with each movie, and I'm not necessarily doing that. 

But let's talk about the word "among", shall we?  It just looks wrong, even when it's right.  But as a semi-professional proofreader, I'm glad they didn't use the word "amongst" in the title, it seems so archaic.  Language is an ever-changing thing, and it's only natural for words and phrases to get shortened over time - "iced tea" is now acceptably written as "ice tea", same goes for "creamed cheese" becoming "cream cheese", and why use the word "historical" when "historic" works just as well?  My boss has a tendency to use the word "oftentimes", (which I don't even think is a real word) and I keep shortening it to "often" - it's much simpler.   And it drives me crazy when I see the word "unbeknownst" in print - that word seems like it should only be spoken by Colonial Americans, or maybe the Amish.  What's wrong with the word "unknown"?  

Of course, there are exceptions, sometimes people change words to make them longer, which doesn't seem to make sense.  Thanks to "CSI", "orientate" is now an acceptable alternative for the shorter word "orient", but they mean the same thing!  Let's just go back to the shorter word, and save a few letters every time.  And people today insist on adding the words "actually", "basically" and "literally" in nearly every sentence (listen to anyone under 30 talk, you'll see what I mean" but those words have now been overused to the point where they no longer mean anything?  Here's a tip - try the sentence you were about to say without the word "actually", and you'll see it means the exact same thing?  Example: "I actually have that exact same dress at home!"  Without it: "I have that exact same dress at home!"  See, same idea.  So just cut that word completely out of your vocabulary now, you'll sound much smarter and you'll thank me later, I guarantee it.  (See, I was going to say "you'll actually sound much smarter" and "I actually guarantee it", but I didn't need to.  So, I didn't.)

Then we come to "eggcorns", which I've learned is the new name for words or phrases that are commonly said incorrectly, and so often that people have a hard time believing that they're wrong.  Like "butt naked" - someone once misheard or mis-stated the phrase "buck naked", which is correct, and logically, since one's butt would be visible when naked, it seemed to make sense.  But try convincing someone who says "butt naked" that they're wrong, and it's an uphill battle.  Some people now say "pass mustard" instead of "pass muster", or "chicken pops" instead of "chicken pox", "expresso" instead of "espresso" or "escape goat" instead of "scapegoat".  What's worse, spell checkers don't catch these mistakes, because often the words involved are properly spelled words, just the WRONG words, so thanks to a few writers who rely on spell check and their editors missing them, they've started to appear in print!  Which legitimizes the mistakes.  ARRRGGGHH!  Someone, please put me in charge of the language so I can stomp out all these common errors!  

Please, if you see a phrase like "jig-solve puzzles" or "desert island" instead of "deserted island", speak up, like I do.  Send in an e-mail or post a correction - I'm sick to death of seeing "sneak peak" instead of "sneak peek" (umm, are you going to show me a mountain?) - and maybe together we can nip this horrible trend in the butt.  Er, bud.  

THE PLOT: Private investigator Matthew Scudder is hired by a drug kingpin to find out who kidnapped and murdered his wife.

AFTER: At first, there seems to be a lot of crossover between last night's film and today's, with Liam Neeson playing a man with a shady background and a guilty conscience getting mixed up with murdering criminals, but there are some key differences, OK?  For starters, "Run All Night" took place mostly in Queens, and this is set in Brooklyn - so totally different, OK?   (Oddly enough, it's another NYC neighborhood I'm familiar with, the area around Greenwood Cemetery, which is mostly known as Sunset Park, although "South Park Slope" was starting to catch on when I moved out of Brooklyn.)

I'm only kidding, Neeson played a hitman in "Run All Night" and here he plays an ex-cop and PI, plus this is set way back in 1999 (with a flashback to 1991), because that's really the last year where you expect a private detective to do legwork first, and not just go straight to the internet when trying to find someone.  We also see him using microfiche here in the library, because most newspapers hadn't moved all their past articles on-line yet, and there are a few references to the upcoming Y2K uncertainty, remember how there was a time when we didn't know if society was going to collapse because we hadn't warned our computers that the thousands digit on our calendar was going to change?  

The film falls just short of suggesting that maybe this uncertainty was the cause of a rise in mysterious disappearances - as if to suggest that people who are naturally inclined to ritualistic kidnapping and murder were holding back their impulses for the good of society, but with the possible collapse of civilization just a few months away, screw it - all bets are off.   But it's true that there are still plenty of people who disappear, not only in NYC but all over the place, and we never quite understand why.  Here the kidnappers are targeting the relatives of high-level drug dealers, which is ingenious because those are people with a lot of money, who are unlikely to contact the police.  

When I lived in Brooklyn I used to see a lot of ice-cream trucks at night, OK, maybe some people want ice cream after the sun goes down, but not as many, so I would sometimes wonder what they were really up to.  "Oh, they're probably just driving to get more ice cream..." people would tell me, and then I'd try really hard to convince myself that their freezers aren't perfectly suited for running black-market human organs around town, after people wake up in hotel rooms in a bathtub full of ice to find a hole in their side where a kidney used to be.  That just doesn't happen, right?  Of course not, because why take a kidney when you can also take both kidneys, a liver, lungs, and a couple of corneas?  And as a bonus, then there's less of a body to dispose of at the dog food factory...

I'm learning now that this character of Matt Scudder is from a series of novels by Lawrence Block, but has only appeared in one other film, played by Jeff Bridges in "8 Million Ways to Die". 
NITPICK POINT: A character arranges a meeting in Greenwood Cemetery at 10:30 pm.  As the IMDB points out, the cemetery is closed at this hour, and patrolled by security.  I can confirm this, because I once worked for a company that held a party inside this cemetery and rented a chapel to screen an animated, Halloween-themed short film.  We bussed in advertising people from Manhattan, and gave them after-dark tours of famous graves in the cemetery.  Then after the party clean-up, I nearly got locked inside the cemetery overnight, in late October, and I only lived a few blocks away.  Yeah, I wouldn't let that happen again.  

Also starring Boyd Holbrook (also carrying over from "Run All Night"), Dan Stevens (last seen in "Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb"), David Harbour (last seen in "The Equalizer"), Adam David Thompson (last seen in "Martha Marcy May Marlene"), Mark Consuelos (last seen in "The Great Raid"), Olafur Darri Olafsson, Brian Bradley, Sebastian Roché (last seen in "The Peacemaker")

RATING: 6 out of 10 AA meetings

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