Tuesday, October 5, 2010

'Hopscotch' Open Thread

What did you think?


  1. I miss this guy.

    And this is not a bad time for a story about a good guy fighting against a thick headed, bumbling bureaucracy, with his life on the line.

  2. I've got to tell you, after swimming through the grim and sludge that makes up our news these days, it was pleasure itself to watch Walter Matthau cajole his way through a spy ring melt down. I loved Glenda Jackson, so sharp and crisp. And Matthau, humming, gesticulating and singing opera all the way through, never losing his cool or his sense of humor... it was such a happy respite. Beatty's thick headed bureaucrat thoughtlessly but purposely taking actions that would destroy Matthau's career, and Matthau having a gas letting them chase him all around the world while making it obvious Beatty was way behind the game... it was great fun. How I do wish I could pull off such a caper!

    That would be rich.

  3. The things I do for your film club, Jim! It wasn't easy finding this film to watch, since my Netflix free trial has ended.

    You do see that this film was made by a bunch of Lefties, don't you? First of all, the year is 1980 and we've had Jimmy Carter sitting in the White House for four years, but none of that is mentioned. Instead we see images of Richard Nixon and at least two times we get treated to the same gag--"You're not a Democrat, are you?" Heavens no. Jimmy Carter's emasculation of the agency went far beyond the Church Committee and of Admiral Stansfield Turner’s mass firings of CIA officers. The left-wing at the agency--that was brought in so that we had people that could deal with lefties in Europe--speak their language--intensified under Carter until the left side dominated. The consequences of that continue to this day. But we're talking about a movie here so I'll drop the sermon.

    It's a nice little fantasy that I didn't buy for very long. The getaway from Myerson's(Beatty's) wife's house is a good case in point. Gee, didn't somebody notice the paper from the firecrackers coming out of the windows (not to mention that anyone with any experience with firearms can tell the difference in sound)? Too bad they didn't have anyone watching the back door when Matthau bumbled to his old truck--nabbing his real life son, playing Leonard Ross, using the old finger in the back trick. FBI, watch out for the oil slick! D'uh! Just in time for a quick flight to Bermuda in a plane flown by Matthau's real life step-daughter, Lucy Saroyan. Good thing Custom's didn't see the plane come in. The bellhop had better eyes, I guess. Too bad the agency didn't get any lawyers involved in stopping the publication of the manuscript. Off hand, I can think of a couple dozens tactics to try, but threats look more pathetic.

    The 44-yo Glenda Jackson with the then 60-yo Walter Matthau gives all the old farts out there hope. As a Labour-Party Member of Parliament who had been going after Tony Blair since the start of the Iraq War, I'm sure Mr. Blair would describe her as sharp and crisp as well.

    But beside from all that, it was OK. Walter Matthau does have a commanding presence on film and Jackson and Waterston put in good performances to match.

    Having second thoughts about inviting me to join?

  4. I really enjoyed the movie. I enjoyed the low-key performances, especially Matthau/Kendrig, with his quiet, but unassailable, confidence in himself and his plan. Glenda Jackson's cool reserve mixed with her affection and respect for Kendrig felt perfect to me. I liked Sam Waterston in this, even though his Cutter did seem to be turning party-pooper for a while (until he let himself be tied up by a man with a gun he knew was unloaded). (I loved that relieved half-smile at the end, "He'd better stay dead!") And Ned Beatty. What can one say about NEd Beatty. He's so remarkably good at what he does; I just don't know how he can stand doing it! Has he ever gotten to play a character that wasn't a complete ass?

    If I'd been in a different mood, I know the political slant would have bugged me, but I reallyt wanted to feel like it was fun, and was able to "not notice" too much. Same with the improbabilities in Kendrig's various maneuvers. -- although the firecrackers on the porch didn't really seem too far-fetched, since you perceive what you expect, and they expected him to be "armed to the teeth." But for the rest, everything had to go absolutely according to his vision, and the thing that struck me as too undependable was his £10,000 win at the casino to start with. But it was fun, his anticipating their every move, being a dozen steps ahead all the time. And we did get to see him have to improvise, when he ended up at the police station. I was really tickled with the remote-control plane, as I hadn't gotten what he was talking with his young engineering friend about. (Even though Kendrig bumps his head on the model plane... Sigh.)

    The music was wonderful, and I loved the visuals. Isabel's house was beautiful and elegant and homey all at once, and Jackson's wardrobe of beautifully tailored neutrals was perfect. I loved the bits of the Mrs. Myerson's house we got to see, and all the outdoor shots, with gorgeous sunny days, were great.

    There was something that disturbed me in the plot, that i sort of half-forgot. I fully expected that Kendrig was bluffing about the last chapter; that he was going to lead Myerson on a wild goose chase and expose him for the buffoon he was. But It got too serious when he really did have a (literary) bombshell, and it seemed we were left to assume a distinction was being made between compromising two years' worth of missions (which, if they were of the "dirty tricks" variety was understandable, given his expanding conscience), and compromising the agents already involved in those missions.

    But then I decided I was thinking too much again. I think too much about many, many things, and I'm getting better at stopping doing that. (Although not always about the right things. Ah, well. I'm young; I'll learn. ;) )

    And I, liked it. :)

  5. Jimmy Carter?!

    Darrell..Walter Matthau..Walter Matthau. It was just for fun.

    It can be hard to watch a show when the politics are thrown in your face and are hard to stomach, and a number of shows I had a hard time enjoying (Sneakers), or couldn't enjoy at all (The American President) for this very reason.

    Now the scene of Matthau making the deal for his fake papers, arguing over the price, the look of displeasure on his face when he heard the price, the haggling with the guy to leave him a lousy 500 francs - that struck me as really funny. Which in turn lead to the James Bond scene where he is making a killing at the casino - that tickled me as well. And the guys just randomly blasting away at and destroying that dolt Myerson's house - that was hilarious. But my favorite was when Myerson and Cutter meet with the publisher, and Myerson refuses to extend the common courtesy of shaking the man's hand and giving him his name... the small minded, ill mannered attempt to assume authority is all too familiar. And the stupidity and smallness of it immediately tipping off the publisher that he was in fact the Myerson whom he had just been reading about, that was so great. Talk about cutting a guys legs out from under him. "You must be Myerson." and he does not extend his hand to the man again, and then turning and reaching out with a friendly smile "And you must be Joe Cutter." That was too great.

    I thought it was a fun show. I was hoping the politics of this ridiculous comedy wouldn't be so imposing as to make it unenjoyable, but I may have missed my guess. If so, as Matthau would say: "You can sue me!" : )

    Well sports fans, that brings us to Cathy's turn. What might be your pleasure?

  6. The African Queen, as long as Darrell can find it ok! (I'm all for hopeful old farts.)

    BTW -- I loved that scene with Myerson and the publisher!

  7. Cathy, I'm in love. The African Queen it is.

  8. This movie was intended to kick the US in its teeth after one of the roughest decades in our history--the fall of Vietnam, Watergate, Iran had just fallen and the debacle in the desert (failed hostage rescue) had the world laughing . The head of the "Dirty Tricks" division of the CIA is not only incompetent--he's a Republican! The only pictures of a President you see are those of Richard Nixon, yet Carter was at the END of his term. Sorry, but I believe it was intentional. If that didn't represent Matthau's politics, he should have passed on this movie (or gotten a rewrite). That's my final word about all that. That said, I've seen worse. And no money went to anyone serve up the next.

    I was just about to hit "post" when I saw Cathy's suggestion. The AQ should be easy enough to find.

  9. Darrell, I'm sure you are right about the underlying politics. It's silly and messed up.

    But when Glenda Jackson pulls Walter Matthau aside at the book store and insisted... insisted that this ridiculous behavior must stop... the scolding tone... that ridiculous punjab costume, the boyish half grin on that face...

    : )

  10. "If that didn't represent Matthau's politics, he should have passed on this movie"

    Excellent point, and that should get us off the comment bar.

    Hey Ace, would you consider writing a few posts for the Dream Girl? You could pull it off, easy. Quit arguing with that hole in the ground, ponce. It would help maintain her traffic while she is otherwise occupied with little HG. You'd be great!

    Just a thought.

  11. The wrong accent. . .

    Now about the rest of your comment...
    Further explanation needed. If you wish to correspond in private, send Cathy something to forward to me. I think she can be persuaded to become our post mistress for a single letter.

  12. The wrong accent. . .

    Well, now, that would depend on who taught him English!

    Quit arguing with that hole in the ground,

    I like that!

    I guess I'll go check my email.

  13. Well, now, that would depend on who taught him English!

    Yes, I have seen that Starburst Fruit Chews commercial with the Scotch-Koreans--"One contradiction eating another!" Still, the CIA teaches the Peter Sellers' The Party accent. I think you have to stick with protocol myself, but hey, when wearing a disguise with obvious makeup, have some fun!

  14. And he certainly did... as did I!

    : )

  15. Tough talk for a guy who's two episodes down in his assignment for April's Book Club regarding Stargate Universe.

  16. Still, the CIA teaches the Peter Sellers' The Party accent.

    Naah, Kendrig was an old pro -- he knew that CIA accent would have been a dead give-away! :)

  17. Ah yes, Stargate Universe. Has the hapless Colonel Young improved with a year's maturation? I guess I'll find out soon enough.

  18. I was so irked at him for failing to pull the trigger with those thugs that he let pour through the gate, and then he just let them take it all right from under him. With his own life he was fearless, but placing other people's lives on the line, taking chances with them, he couldn't do it. So everybody on board ends up left in the hands of those a-holes. Not good.

  19. You can't make me tell you if Col. Young is now reporting to Chloe....or not. No spoilers from me, you'll just have to watch for yourself: For the good of the crew. Did I tell you that Cathy decided to make hot chocolate?

  20. See, now this is why I'm thinking...Guest Host.

    Hey, if Johnny Carson could do it and not blink an eye, why not HG?

  21. Some see a Blog as a diary. And you don't let people go scribbling in your diary, do you? Or give up your passwords, for that matter.

    But George Soros? Let's try that password stuff, shall we? Just send yours to Cathy and she'll pass them along. Include bank names and account numbers, just to be sure.