Year 8, Day 163 - 6/11/16 - Movie #2,363
BEFORE: I took the Amtrak train overnight up to Massachusetts, pulling out of Penn Station at 2:40 am. Most of the passengers were more interested in sleeping than anything else, but I tend to stay up late - falling asleep at 2:40 seems quite early to me. But after attending a Richard Cheese concert on Friday night, where I had a couple of cider drinks, and then eating a big plate of pasta at Sbarro before getting on board the train, I was setting myself up to at least take a nap on the train. I probably got three hours of sleep, but I think it wasn't very good sleep, because after I reached my parents' house, I slept for another seven.
During the afternoon I showed my mother the film "Whiplash", since she was a music teacher for 40 years and I wanted to get her take on it. She liked the music parts, but she wasn't a fan of all the cursing. Then I took a stab at fixing my parents' internet connection, even though they have a PC and I'm a Mac user. They got a new cable modem recently, and for whatever reason, it wasn't working well with their laptop. I've had pretty good luck recently figuring out computer stuff for my new boss, so I figured by googling the topic on my phone, and talking to my sister and brother-in-law (who set up the original wi-fi network in their house) I had a decent shot. After all, without that laptop, I couldn't post my daily blog review!
And since you're reading this, you know I was successful. I figured out how to turn the laptop's wireless connection on, and since the new cable modem had wi-fi instructions, it should have been easy to establish a new network connection between the laptop and the modem. Only the new modem wasn't showing up as a valid network - after going through a zillion PC control panels and diagnosis boxes, I finally decided to unplug the modem and allow it to reset - bingo, it showed up in the network connections and I made it to the web. It wasn't pretty, and their security protocols are probably non-existent right now, but jeez, it's not like they've got the nuclear launch codes or Swiss bank account numbers on this PC, my dad just plays solitaire and checks his e-mail, that's about it.
Burt Reynolds carries over for his sixth film in a row, so I'm halfway through this chain.
THE PLOT: Las Vegas is the backdrop for all the torrid action, as Mex is the soft-hearted bodyguard who's out to protect his friends.
AFTER: Ah, it just doesn't get much manlier than Burt Reynolds. This film plays off a lot of recurring themes lately, like turning the tables on criminals ("52 Pick-Up", "Stick", "Run All Night") and also being the protector of the innocents ("The Equalizer", "A Walk Among the Tombstones"). Meanwhile there's a lot of gambling ("The Cincinnati Kid", "The Champ") and a lot of close-up hand-to-hand fighting ("Taken 3", "John Wick", etc.) and oh yeah, the main character gets framed for murder ("American Gigolo", "Hard Time", "Run All Night").
It's a bit of a constant in these 6 Burt films that he's always the one with the moral compass, it's not that he can do no wrong, it's more like he's got his own personal definition of what is wrong and what is right. It's OK to beat up or kill someone, as long as they deserve it. And here that just happens to be anyone who crosses one of his friends, like a call girl who gets roughed up by a mobster and two of his associates. She goes to see Mex under the auspices of just finding out the guy's name, but she probably knows that he's going to do a lot more to help her, because he feels he has to.
Meanwhile, a rich man from Boston wants to hire Mex as his chaperone, allegedly to keep him from gambling too much at the casinos, but there's another reason he wants to hire Mex. Let's face it, Mex isn't the best person to keep someone from gambling, since he's a compulsive gambler himself. Mex has determined that he needs to accrue $100K to retire to Venice for 5 years, and every little job he does gets him one step closer to his financial goal. But Vegas is a cruel temptress, it's so easy to think that with a few bets, the $10K he has could easily result in the nest egg he needs, that is, provided that the cards come up the way he wants them to.
For a while, I thought Mex was counting cards, but that didn't seem to be the case. He might have just had a run of good luck at blackjack. The thing about runs of good luck, though, is that they always end. And if you don't stop playing when you're up, you may not see in advance that the run's about to be over. And then you can't be friends with that dealer any more.
Will Mex ever be able to put aside enough money to get to Venice, and to do it in a way where the mob won't come after him? I must admit, I was more interested than usual in finding out the answer.
Also starring Karen Young (last seen in "Daylight"), Peter MacNicol (last seen in "Battleship"), Howard Hesseman (last seen in "About Schmidt"), Neill Barry, Diana Scarwid, Joe Mascolo, Deborah Rush (last seen in "The Purple Rose of Cairo"), Wendell Burton.
RATING: 6 out of 10 bottles of Perrier