After a weekend of remodeling work and a Monday of trying desperately to get this house somewhat clean, I zoomed to PDX to pickup Erin and Jonah this afternoon. Both looking good! Jonah’s more verbal than he was a week ago. Otherwise he seems about the same. More coordination with stairs and with climbing, I suppose. Still cute as a button.

Spoiler Warning: Reviews for The Enemy Below, Battle of the Bulge, The Big Lebowski, and Die Another Day follow.

I’ve been watching a lot of late night movies and borrowed DVDs. I submit the following mini-reviews for your consideration. The Enemy Below starring Robert Mitchum probably made waves in 1957, but by today’s standards it should have been renamed The Enemy Onscreen. What a tedious film! And what a tossed-off, effortless performance by Mitchum. I don’t mean that as a compliment. I wonder if he wasn’t soused. Of course the dialog wasn’t anything to write home about. Give it a pass.

Likewise, it wouldn’t hurt to turn off the TV if 1965’s Battle of the Bulge appears. Henry Fonda is an unlikely warrior and almost thoroughly unconvincing at that. I found the tank battles somewhat entertaining, but the story line of the film has almost no historical basis. Where the heck is the Ardennes Forest in this movie? Indeed, according to the Internet Movie Database, “This film was denounced by former President (and Supreme Allied Commander in Europe during WW2) Dwight Eisenhower soon after its release in a press conference due to its glaring historical inaccuracies.” That ought to tell you just about everything you need to know. In case it’s not enough, let me just add that Telly Savalas and Charles Bronson also make appearances, the latter to good effect, the former, as “Sgt. Guffy,” in a performance that highlights a particular Savalas problem: He can’t act, at least not without a lollipop.

I watched the Cohen brothers’ The Big Lebowski starring Jeff Bridges and John Goodman. Quirky, but if you know the Cohens, you know that. Some funny bits, lots of swearing, well-made. Pointless but entertaining. The Cohens are apparently incapable of thematic subtext—the closest they got was O Brother Where Art Thou? where they grabbed the subtext from Homer—and this film suffers the same drawback as the rest. Nonetheless, one of their better efforts.

I think I’ve seen virtually every James Bond movie ever made. I’m sorry to say that as much as I like Pierce Brosnan as Bond, the latest crop have been among my least favorites. For whatever reason, the writers continue to force the issue that Bond is a sexist throwback which is about is big a buzzkill as they can offer up if you’re a guy looking to suspend disbelief for a little escapist fantasy. I mean, no kidding he’s a sexist bastard who beds every pretty woman who comes on his radar. In scope of male fantasy, that rates pretty high, you know? Let’s not be made to feel bad about it. I mean, they’ve already got our $8.

Anyway, as much as I like Brosnan and think Halle Berry is the cat’s meow, I thought Die Another Day was a pretty subpar entry in the Bond pantheon. It’s not that the action sequences weren’t well done. It’s more that the film dragged for long periods, and brought very little new to the table. This Bond car’s novel cloaking device and his watch’s ability to crack stuff aside, everything felt like a re-tread or, worse, uninteresting. There is a notable lack of tension in the story’s climax. I don’t know if that’s a directoral problem or a screenwriting issue (or both), but it’s a disappointment either way.