Before yesterday I had never visited Lake Arrowhead. High in the mountains (about 5000 feet), quite hilly, the scent of pine and wood chips, forests of towering fir trees, about 30 minutes north of San Bernardino. It seems wonderful when you first arrive, but then you start noticing things. Like the absence of sidewalks and bike-riding and general hiking paths — the town is strictly about cars, and big fat SUVs at that. Not to mention the blue-collar, vaguely downmarket atmosphere — you can immediately sense a culture that is at least somewhat lacking in educated, upscale sensibilities. I knew something was up when I spotted a couple of streetside banner ads celebrating the local “heroes” who’ve served in Iraq and Afghanistan. On top of which many of the homes lack architectural integrity and have obviously been built with cheap materials. On top of which Lake Arrowhead Village is so overdeveloped that any concept of charm probably went out the window 50 years ago. In a phrase, the town lacks a certain refinement. People still wear mullets here. This is not a community that would appeal to Bernardo Bertolucci or Michelangelo Antonioni in their prime. Europeans do lakeside resorts with a lot more class and style.
Yesterday’s trip to Deep Creek Hot Springs (just south of Apple Valley and Hesperia off the 15) turned into a comic disaster in no time. I was travelling with two nice ladies who had been there a couple of times before, and yet for reasons best not explored or rationalized they were disinclined to follow a route suggestion offered by Google Maps. They chose instead to head south from Hesperia/Apple Valley on a dusty, unpaved, deeply rutted path that often resembled a desert hermit’s driveway. Common sense screamed that this wasn’t the right way to go, but I kept my mouth shut and hoped for the best. Deeper and deeper into the scary badlands we went, and sure enough we found a nice squishy sand pit to get stuck in. AAA said they wouldn’t help because it was an off-road situation so I had to fork over $350 ($150 per hour from station to station) to pay for a private guy named Jesse to pull us out with a winch. But first we had to hump it back to civilization over hill and dale (about a two-mile trek) in order to make sure Jessie would find us. The whole ordeal took about six hours. No dips in the hot springs. We got the hell out of Dodge and drove down to Lake Arrowhead.
if Jesse can’t do it, nobody can.
If the editors of this redband trailer wanted to be really cool, they would include quotes from North Korea’s July 2014 denunciation of the film — “terrorism” produced by “gangster-like scoundrels.” They could also throw in Seth Rogen‘s response — “Apparently Kim Jong Un plans on watching The Interview…I hope he likes it!” The North Koreans will never drop the lurid prose or get past their bullshit. They not only have the potential but the absolute willingness to lampoon themselves to no end. Last May their state news agency KCNA called President Obama a “wicked black monkey.”
Movies in service of the “it’s never too late to fall in love” homily are usually shudder-inducing. But as this is a remake of a respected 2005 Argentinian film it deserves at least a fair viewing and, for the time being, the benefit of the doubt, especially with the ascerbic Christopher Plummer trading bon mots with Shirley Maclaine. My first reaction was to wonder if it had something to do with Federico Fellini‘s Ginger and Fred. (It doesn’t.) Then I thought about the differing approaches to aging and “work” by the 84 year-old Plummer and the 80 year-old Maclaine. Both approaches are fine.
The last time I recall a name-brand actor getting really furious about his dog being murdered was in Norman Mailer‘s Tough Guys Don’t Dance (’87). Moments after his dog has taken a shiv in the ribs, Ryan O’Neal eyeballs the assailant and growls out “Your knife…is in my dog!” That line, to me, was silly-cool, and John Wick (Lionsgate, 10.24) is on a similar wavelength. But lines like “this is personal” and “that dog was the last gift of my dying wife” don’t help. A man’s relationship with his dog doesn’t have to be explained or put into context. Due respect to all dying or dead wives, but it exists on its own pure plane.
“Following the jubilant post-modern martial arts efforts 47 Ronin and Man of Tai Chi” — come again? — “Keanu Reeves stars in [this] hugely satisfying B-movie with the confidence of an actor right where he belongs. Like Liam Neeson and Samuel L. Jackson, Reeves’ performances in guilty pleasure fare are both straightforward and dripping with irony, with John Wick providing one of the best examples. Neither surprising or groundbreaking in any particular way, the movie gives us what we want and leaves it at that.