I call this my moving puzzle and also the most challenging because I have worked on this at least four times due to spilling it all over the floor and the fifth because I had to move. I never lost any of the pieces even though I’m missing five in the picture. I finally finished it to find the missing pieces one by one as I was still unpacking and rearranging things in the new apartment. I’m posting this anyway because I think the puzzle and myself deserves it.
On my first day on vacation (three more days left/two if you don’t include the weekend), I went to Hoover Dam. It took five years to build and sits on the border of Nevada and Arizona. I should’ve brought sunglasses, and was surprised it was that busy on a weekday. I had to wait for a good two hours before taking the Dam Tour where I saw the power plant and went down the dam about midway inside. I learned a few things such as how the dam was built and if they used nature alone, they’d probably still be building it. The workers had to build it a foot at a time so the concrete would dry. The experts say it has another good 100 to 200 years before any major repairs need to be done, but it’s not full proof. The lack of water over the last twenty years has put the dam in a somewhat precarious state. Experts say if the water levels continue to decrease, the dam won’t be able to maintain electricity to the states and cities it services. The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (under the Department of the Interior) reported Nevada, Arizona, a handful of Southern CA cities using energy from the dam under contracts that ended in 2017. In terms of the interior decor, the marble flooring if done today would probably cost around 40 to 60 million dollars and that is if you could even find the marble anymore. There were some other historical tidbits, but to not be long winded here are the pictures. I’m hoping to get back to Lake Mead because it looks like a great place to relax and of course, take more pictures.
Hoover Dam facts are from a brochure
Hoover Dam and Spillways from the outside
Hoover Dam, Spillways, and Power Plant from the inside
Stairs going down
Stairs going up
Tunnel where I took the photo of the Hoover Dam
Reclamation of water and power
Marble entryway leading up to the women’s bathroom
Magnet before condensation from my water bottle ruined it
Quote from Mission: Impossible – Fallout by August Walker: “How many times has Hunt’s government betrayed him, disavowed him, cast him aside? How long before a man like that has had enough.”
Tom Cruise has never shied away from doing his own stunts, and the six installment of Mission: Impossible is no exception. The pacing was good and everything that happened was for a reason. There wasn’t any time I thought, jeez, you could’ve cut that out because it didn’t contribute anything to the movie. It opened up with a major problem, increasing in its tension along the way, and finished with a bang. It was nothing but pure entertainment that successfully delivered in action, thrills, and adventure.
Mission: Impossible – Fallout was written and directed by Christopher McQuarrie and based off the television series written by Bruce Geller. This story follows Ethan Hunt and his trusted co-workers as they chase their way after plutonium to save the world from destruction. It’s produced by Tom Cruise, Christopher McQuarrie, Jake Myers, and J.J. Abrams under the direction of Skydance Media, TC Productions, and Bad Robot Productions. The distributor is Paramount Pictures and was released on July 27, 2018. The budget was around $178 million and so far has grossed around $366 million worldwide. The main cast includes Tom Cruise as Ethan Hunt, Ving Rhames as Luther Stickell, Simon Pegg as Benji Dunn, Henry Cavill as August Walker, and Rebecca Ferguson as Ilsa Faust. It also stars Alec Baldwin, Angela Bassett, Michelle Monaghan, Vanessa Kirby, and Sean Harris. The MPAA rating is PG-13 for violence, intense action sequences, and briefly strong language. It has a running time of 1 hour and 47 minutes.
Mission: Impossible – Fallout begins with yet another mission for Ethan Hunt and his crew. This time he has to capture stolen plutonium so it doesn’t get into the wrong hands. Things don’t go as planned, which sends Ethan, Luther, and Benji into a cat and mouse chase in cars, helicopters, and motorcycles after the deadly radioactive chemical element. The problem remains that none of the good guys know who stole the plutonium. They devise a plan in the hopes of outsmarting the bad guys and going as far as needed to protect the innocent. Insert, August Walker who is introduced to Ethan Hunt and his team by the CIA Director. This sets up some of the great stunts of the two C’s: Cruise and Cavill as the movie progresses. Insert also, The White Widow who shows Ethan she is worth her weight even though he has a fair amount of skepticism about her plan, but he really wants that plutonium. It leaves him little choice but to do what is asked of him, and with the help of Walker, he secures what is asked. Everything seems to be going as planned until someone betrays him, and Ethan now has no choice but to follow the antagonist along with wondering why Ilsa, an ex MI6 agent, is so invested in this. Everyone rushes from London to Kashmir for different reasons where the movie finishes with more chases, fights, and weapons.
It goes without saying it takes a lot of pre-planning to make this kind of movie. I’m continually amazed that the five to ten minutes you see takes months of training, and in this case a year for the High Altitude Low Opening stunt done by Cruise. It isn’t just the physical fitness actors/actresses need to complete their scenes effectively, but you also need to look good while doing them. No amount of makeup or CGI will make a person’s unflattering expression flattering. Okay, maybe it will, but the director probably wants someone who can keep their expression in check. Yes, Tom Cruise is showing his age a bit. He should, but there is no denying he can still run fast and look good while doing it. There are pitfalls during every filming process so when things go wrong, it can be catastrophic and production stops. Or, you can keep going until you are forced to stop, but start-up again when the time is right again. See, a fractured ankle can work in someone’s favor. Tom Cruise is a challenge seeker, and the success of this movie will encourage him to star and produce another one. See, everyone wins.
I would recommend this movie not only for its action sequences, but for its decent story. I can forgive the lack of fine tooth combing of the dialogue because no one sounds prim and proper when you’re running after or fighting someone. Some of the dialogue is cartoonish and cheesy, but I expected this. The serious lines are delivered just fine. You might grumble about the lack of reasons for why a character did or did not do something, but it doesn’t detract that much from the movie. It is suitable for teens and adults and as I’ve come to realize more these days even for babies.
Mission: Impossible -Fallout gets four fingers and one thumb at 96%
I thought 2018 would be the year where I really made some changes in my life. I guess I should give myself a little bit of slack since I basically moved across state lines in four different trips. I’m working to make my blog a little easier to access for people and hoping in September 2018 onward I will have gotten rid of redundant information. I’m getting rid of some pages and therefore am posting this on a blog. I had high hopes of adding new things each month in all the various interests I have. It was becoming too much, but hope to resume this soon as I did in 2017.
August 1, 2017: This will resume again in 2018
Died: June 14, 1926
Château de Beaufresne, near Paris, France
Portrait of a Man, 1443
I have cut myself to my ankles many times before
because that is what you taught me.
This is what you breathed into my mouth
when I didn’t want your lips anywhere near mine.
Boy, did you keep insisting.
Jeez, how deep did you think you could go?
What the fuck was the matter with you?
Wait, don’t tell me. I don’t want to know.
The hatred. The loathing. The revenge. The pain.
The sad part is you still don’t give a shit.
I trusted you to have my back,
and you did nothing but push me down,
over and over again
until my shell was cracked into a thousand pieces.
It’s a wonder how I ever survived through it all.
Yet, I did.
Some fucking how, I did.
Here, I am, the only one left.
It started with you and ends with me.
Get ready because soon the whole world will know what you did
despite you never caring.
Random pictures of water (public domain) taken by people from around the world.
Quote from Beirut by Mason Skiles: “Maybe one of you can tell me what I’m doing here?”
I felt excited to see what Beirut would offer me. The opening scene was engaging as it delved into the perceived stereotypes and real dangers of living in the Middle East. The relations and conflicts between Israel and Arab nations continue to this day, but in the 1980s there was just as much tension. I thought of the movie Rosewater while watching it for some reason. While the portrayal of Iranians was more negative than positive, I wondered why I felt little discomfort. It probably had to do with the fact it was non-fictional and was told by Maziar Bahari himself. While some boycotted Beirut for its one-sidedness and white man rescue syndrome, this doesn’t mean it is an inherently bad movie although it thrust it into the unwanted spotlight.
Beirut is a drama written by Tony Gilroy and directed by Brad Anderson. Its major cast includes Jon Hamm, Rosamund Pike, Dean Norris, Shea Whigham, and Mark Pellegrino. The movie centers around an American diplomat leaving his old life behind him due to tragedy, and finding himself having to re-enter that world. Along the way, he hopes to find reconciliation within himself and the people he left behind. The running time is one hour and 49 minutes and rated R for language, some violence, and brief nudity.
The movie begins with Mason Skiles living a good life with his Lebanese wife and being a father figure to a Palestinian boy who does not have a family of his own in Lebanon. We learn Kamir does have family. He has a brother who may or may not be part of a terrorist group, and this is when tragedy falls on Skiles. The life he knew is gone and makes the decision to leave Lebanon for good, but as fate has it, he returns later because the U.S. government needs his help. For a while he is unclear why he is there, but then learns someone he knew in his past is in danger. This leads to him working with the CIA and state officials to uncover the whereabouts of the person. He traverses to places of his past, all in the attempts to formulate a plan on how to get the person back to safety.
It feels a little wrong to give Jon Hamm such great props for portraying Skiles while not talking about the other major cast. It is not that they do not have the skill set to portray convincing and (un)likable characters. They all do because I’ve seen them shine: Breaking Bad (Norris), Hostiles (Pike), Boardwalk Empire (Whigham), and Dexter (Pellegrino). But, if anyone deserves all the opportunities to showcase his talent, it would be Jon Hamm. One upcoming movie I do want to see him in is Bad Times at the El Royale. He has come a long way from moving furniture around soft core porn sets. I’ve never seen him in a show or movie I didn’t think he was outstanding. Hamm has all the nuance, intuition, and timing to make Skiles character realistic and likable. He carried a large part of the movie, and it is partially why I kept watching it to the end. He has range and if you doubt me, watch any Saturday Night Live skit he takes part of.
I recommend this movie because the cast is good, and it caters to adults because children will not have the attention span for this. I would venture to say some adults don’t have the attention span for this kind of movie because it progresses at a slower pace. While it is described as a drama/thriller, I thought it was more drama and less of a thriller. Most of the major events and scenes steering Beirut in the direction it did was predictable. I will say that the ending was fitting, and glad the direction went that way instead of other ways. Despite the controversy and negative critique, I would recommend it although there are more compelling movies about the CIA and Middle East. Maybe, therein lies the problem because both are complicated subjects, and appears Beirut only scratched the surface flesh in some areas when it should’ve drawn blood, but there is only so much you can fit into a script. Creators have the freedom to create most anything, but that doesn’t always translate into a positive outcome for everyone. I can see the dissenters had valid reasons for disliking Beirut, but the fact remains that people do kill others based on their differences, and I’m not only talking about the Middle East. It isn’t right to demonize a collective group of people based on their appearance alone. Yes, Hollywood needs an overhaul on what and who is portrayed on the screen. Not everyone is going to like the final cut, and how much does a writer/director take into account the critiques of others before, during, and after the process while not sacrificing thier own vision? The last remaining observation is timing can be a blessing or a curse.
Beirut gets three fingers at 79%