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Saturday, July 23, 2016

The Writer's Life 7/23 - Revenant

The dictionary defines Revenant as "a person who has returned, especially from the dead." I caught up to it last night, courtesy of Netflix. The film received twelve Oscar nominations, winning seven, including Best Picture. Leonardo DiCaprio finally received the recognition he deserved, and he brought his usual excellence to the role of true-life frontiersman Hugh Glass, of whom I'd never heard. The story is simple, stark and uncompromising, based in part on a novel by Michael Punke. Mexico's Alejandro G. Inarritu was at the helm and seems to be establishing himself as the next great director. He was awarded an Academy Award for his work, as was Emmanuel Lubezki for his cinematography. The themes are loss and vengeance. Tom Hardy's star is in ascendance. He is terrific as the villain, a role he has mastered, having previously played Bane in The Dark Knight Returns (2012) and Bill Sikes in the the most recent adaptation of Oliver Twist (2007), a BBC production. He also played the title role in Mad Max Fury Road. 2015 a banner year for him. The action of The Revenant takes place in the early 1800's. There is a genuine feel of authenticity. The violence is brutal, unsanitized. Anyone squeamish about such depiction should pass. It runs a little long, 2:25. I didn't pause the DVD a single time, which is always an accurate indication of worth. The film was also successful financially, although not a blockbuster, taking in $183 million in the USA alone on a budget of $135 million. 395,000+ users at IMDb have rated The Revenant, forging to a consensus of 8.1 of ten. I wouldn't go that high. On a scale of five, I say 3.5. Perhaps that is a result of the high expectations I had. It was the movie I most looked forward to seeing.

Here's how I would rank 2016's Oscar nominees for Best Picture:
Room -- unusual and fresh.
Brooklyn -- touching.
The Revenant
Mad Max Fury Road -- fun but broke no new ground.
The Martian -- quirky and smart, but it didn't captivate me.
Bridge of Spies -- the most disappointing of the lot.
Spotlight - no interest in it.
The Big Short -- ditto.
I would not classify any of the six I've seen as great.

Some sessions I see the very interesting while running the floating book shop. Such was the case yesterday. An old timer who passes just about every day was inching along on his stroller, which was laden with several packages. Two of the larger were filled with paper goods he got on sale at CVS. He seemed to be having more trouble than usual. I spoke to him for the first time ever, asking if I could help in any way. As I expected, he declined. To my delight, he rendered a brief run down on his life. He will soon be 91. He was sent to the Philippines as a teenager in 1945. Fortunately, the bombs were soon dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, bringing an end to action in the Pacific theater, saving the lives of countless young Americans, including him. Later, Ol' Smoky came along, pulling his wheeled carry-all behind him, obviously exhausted, as if the device weighed a thousand pounds. Usually, he will gab for at least an hour in his inimitable scatter-brain way. Yesterday he immediately laid out a narrow mat on the sidewalk and went to sleep about five yards from the last of the books on display. There wasn't anything I could do for him, either. Many passersby made jokes, as did I, saying he was my assistant taking a break. He was still out three hours later when I returned from the pizzeria. He's okay. I saw him earlier in the library, where we'd both gone to cool off. It's 4:42 PM and the temperature is 96.

I told myself I'd operate the book shop today only if an ideal parking spot was available. None was. I'm in excellent shape for my age, but lugging heavy crates a long way in intense heat is not smart for a 66-year-old. Whenever I miss a session I have the nagging feeling something isn't right. It will be gone by late morning. I'll be back in action tomorrow, starring in my own version of The Revenant.
Vic's Short Works:
Vic's 5th Novel:'s 4th novel:
Vic's 3rd Novel:
Vic's Short Story on Kindle:
Vic's Short Story Collection:
Vic's 2nd Novel: Kindle:
Vic's 1st Novel:

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