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Monday, May 15, 2017

NORMAN and Z

The last movie I saw was Get Out (RT:99/88) and that was in Bangkok.  So this weekend, almost at random, although I did consider the fact that Rotten Tomatoes reviewers liked them, I went to two:

                                      Rotten Tomatoes            Weekend   My Grade                
                                   Reviewers  Audience         Rating
Norman                            88              66                 17               B

The Lost City of Z           88              64                 16               B-

#1 for the weekend was Guardians of the Galaxy II (RT: 81/90, but I've practically stopped going to these types of films) , #2 Snatched (RT:  36/34, which is why I avoided this one) and #3 King Arthur (RT:  27/79--I've never seen this kind of disparity before, but how many King Arthurs have been made in the history of filmdom?  Count them...more than a hundred.)  They keep cranking out these sequels because they make money.  Guardians II for example was made for $200 million.  In week two, the revenues amount to $246 million.  Worldwide?  Double that.

I kind of liked both films, but mostly because in odd ways I identified with them.  Norman was a fixer, an individual who built relationships.  You wonder how he actually made a living.  In any society, New York City/Israel, or elsewhere, there are people who insert themselves as connectors.  In my 15 years of running the Hawaii Natural Energy Institute, I never really did anything real myself.  Through what I like to call vision and people I knew, I arranged for the success of others.  That led to major national centers in byproducts, hydrogen, seabed resources and biofuels.  But at least I was being paid a good salary by the University of Hawaii and traveled the world.

Norman, however, interestingly well played by Richard Gere, lacked substance.  He did favors with a hope that his act would someday later be repaid, manyfold.  I guess that might be one way we were different.  For all that I did for many, I never once, I don't think, asked for any kind of repayment.  How we were alike is that luck happens.  I won't want to live my life again because I lucked out too often.  Norm got stuck with having to pay four figures for a pair of shoes for a lower level Israeli government official, and a few years later he becomes Prime Minister.

That led to a string of successes with a hint that he commits suicide at the end.  I'm still not sure why he even contemplated ending his life, for what is a little humiliation, something he daily stumbles through. Yes, I've given away the whole story, but your interpretation could well be totally different.  What it comes down to for me is:  are you really doing someone a favor when it can easily be interpreted as a bribe.  I worried over that facet of my life so much so that I took early retirement to escape that quandary.

The Lost City of Z was exactly what I did not do in Pat's Grand Adventure, which I've been covering now for seven weeks.  I traveled in high comfort, enjoying the finest cuisine and avoided anything stressful.  The more boring of my dozen around the world trips, but the most satisfying because nothing bad happened.  The movie had attacks by jungle tribes, starvation, no hot baths, biting insects....you name it.

The film was a real life story of British explorer Percy Fawcett, I top officer from a disgraced family who was sent by his government to the Bolivian side of the Amazon to find the source and thereby minimize the potential for war.  Originally, Brad Pitt was cast, then Benedict Cumberbatch.  Third choice was Charlie Hunnam, who did well, but, unfortunately bombed as King Arthur above.  The jungles of Columbia were used.

Fawcett made three trips, the latter two to find the Lost City of Z, a mythical site along the Amazon Rainforest supposedly lined with gold.  A hundred years ago credibility was low that such a site existed.  During the effort, in 1911 Hiram Bingham (from Hawaii who went to Yale) announced his discovery of Machu Picchu in Peru.  On Fawcett's third effort, with his son, they never returned, but a returned compass to his wife provided intrigue that, perhaps, they were still alive.  The reality was no gold and probably Kahikugu, an archeological complex of twenty towns and villages spread out over a wide area.

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