About the When I Stop Dreaming blog

Movie Review: Lust, Caution

2007. Starring Tony Leung, Wei Tang. Directed by Ang Lee. The setting is Japan-occupied China in 1942. Wong Chia Chi (Wei Tang) is a young student pulled into an acting troup — and underground resistance cell — by a classmate. Her role in a patriotic play ignites a revolutionary fire in her, which may be fueled by an attraction to the group’s leader, Kuang Yu Min (Lee-Hom Wang), but forces her into the lead role when there’s an opportunity to get close to, and eventually assassinate, an official of the occupation government, Mr. Yee (Tony Leung). Mr. Yee hasn’t achieved …

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Country Music Reclamation Project: The Life You’ve Lived

Eddie Noack wrote and recorded some great songs: Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, Shake Hands With The Blues, and A Thinkin’ Man’s Woman among them. I think The Life You’ve Lived is his best, and it should be standard issue with every jukebox. The Life You’ve Lived is a song of profound regret, and something about this song tells me it was written from first-hand experience — Noack died at age 47 and was reputed to be a hard drinker to the end. The lyrics don’t waste a word in describing a man who realizes too late what he’s about to lose. …

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Alpine Chicken?

I was in Quizno’s the other day, and noticed that one of the options for their new Sammies sandwiches is “Alpine Chicken.” What kind of exotic poultry is this? I can just picture them gathering on icy mountaintops, pecking at the barren rock, occasionally fluttering to the valleys below. (Actually, come to think of it, this might be a fanciful way of describing frozen, pounded-flat pieces of chicken meat.) I haven’t seen a Quizno’s commercial for a while, but maybe these will be new character pitchmen, somewhat less disturbing than the spongmonkeys or the man-raised-by-wolf.

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Movie Review: No Country For Old Men

2007. Starring Josh Brolin, Tommy Lee Jones, Javier Bardem. Directed by Joel and Ethan Coen. Good vs evil, circa 1980. Sheriff Tom Bell (Tommy Lee Jones) no longer understands the capacity for evil in his fellow human beings. He feels overmatched. The aging end of a line of gritty Texas lawmen, he struggles to admit to himself that “the dismal tide” is about to overtake him and his kind. “I always knew you had to be willing to die to even do this job,” he intones as the film begins. “But, I don’t want to push my chips forward and …

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Five Years Ago

My mom passed away five years ago this morning. She died in her sleep at home, in her own bed, the way she wanted to go. As the sun came up that morning, I saw a cardinal¬† outside her window. I don’t believe in the significance of such things, usually, but I’ll make an exception in this case, because everytime I see a cardinal, I think of her. Five years feels like so little time passed, but it also feels like forever. I miss you every day, Mom.

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Country Music Reclamation Project: When I Stop Dreaming

There’s an old, sort of funny joke that asks “What happens when you play a country song backwards?” The punchline has something to do with having your dog come back to life, uncrashing your pickup and getting let back into the trailer park. I admit — I couldn’t find the actual joke anywhere on the internets, but I did see that some awful “hot new country” band did record a song loosely based on the joke. It’s appropriate that a new country act idiotically enforce the stereotype. After all, it’s new country artists and their fans who have trashed this …

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Movie Review: Ricco the Mean Machine

1973. Starring Christopher Mitchum. dir. Tulio Demicheli. Death by acid bath. Rifle-butt dentistry. Switchblade castrations. Ricco the Mean Machine delivers everything the DVD cover promises, and then some. Maybe a bit too much. A Spanish production, starring Christopher Mitchum (yep, Robert’s son), who may be the least-bloodthirsty avenger ever portrayed on film. Under long blond hair, Christopher looks a lot like his dad, with a lazy delivery that adds some ruthlessness to this character. Oh, he’ll kill you, but he won’t go out of his way to do it. Mitchum plays Ricco, the son of a organized-crime boss, who doesn’t …

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