...thoughts expressed here are not necessarily final.

July 5, 2004 Hope you had a happy Fourth

We spent the weekend helping rehab an old house with my brother in law. I was surprised to see how the old house was made completely from what looked to be sawmilled walnut. Extremely hard to put a nail in or drill through, but we got the drywall off the ceilings in two rooms and the wall in one and the wiring done. It was hazy , hot and humid all the way, but a few gracious spurts of breeze were welcome!

We saw fireworks galore as we passed by many small towns on our journey home Sunday night. We saw the mass exodus from Fair St. Louis as we neared home and hit Caseyville as their fireworks display was ending. That little town knows how to celebrate!

July 5, 2004 More Summer Movies Enjoyed

We saw The Terminal, Tom Hanks' latest movie. Here’s my take on it:

This may be Hanks' best role since Forrest Gump.

The Terminal is a movie about integrity. Hanks’ character, Viktor Navorski, is a man on a mission. Then unexpectedly, he's stranded as a man without a country when a coup d’etat in his home country occurs while he is en route to America by plane. His visa is no longer valid so he cannot enter the country. He cannot be sent back to a country that the U. S. government does not recognize. The ensuing story is one of survival in between the cracks of the legal system and how ethics transcends law. It is humorous, inspiring, poignant and touching in places, and director Stephen Speilberg plays our emotions flawlessly. Viktor Navorsky will be a character many Americans will not be able to empathize with, having lived so long in a culture that prizes compromised values, situational ethics, and the easy way out.

Victor is given the opportunity to circumvent the legal system, to become someone else’s problem, but he refuses to leave under those circumstances. He has a real enemy who is on the attack, a new manager who is short on humanity in search of expediency. Through all this Victor teaches himself English, surviving on crackers, condiments, and commitment. He is given the opportunity to receive asylum if he will just say he fears going back to his country, but he will not. That would be a betrayal of all he holds dear. The bureaucrat in charge of the airport is an unsympathetic character and becomes driven at every point to turn up the pressure on Victor to flee the circumstances.

Victor is an enterprising man and eventually finds work on a crew that is rehabbing the airport.A love interest is introduced when he continually runs into a beautiful flight attendant who is in an on again off again relationship with a married guy but who is drawn to Victor’s sensitivity and wisdom.

In the meantime he makes friends with suspicious airport employees, even playing intermediary for a lovesick food-services employee. One final scene leaves him with a choice to sacrifice the friends he has mane to complete his mission and keep his promise.

His choices and integrity never fail to cause him to suffer and yet he perseveres to the end. That’s something worth cheering.

Shrek 2 was a delight as well. The newly married Princess Fiona takes her hubby Shrek to meet Mommie and Daddy, the King and Queen of Far, Far, Away, (voiced by Julie Andrews and John Cleese). Daddy is not pleased. Shrek is NOT Prince Charming.

This is a story of its own, not really to be compared with Shrek 1. The story is quite different, the issues are different for the most part. We still get Donkey’s incessant talking, and fairy tale characters add more comic relief. Eddie Murphy has eclipsed his Axel Foley character with his voiceovers of Donkey.

The movie's main theme is about loving people for who they are, not what they look like and not even necessarily for how they behave. It is about sacrifice in relationships, and the failure of easy solutions to make a long term difference, even in a fairy tale land.

The action scenes are hilarious, the new characters solid, and Antonio Banderas steals the show as the voice and personality of Puss-In-Boots. This is a great cartoon character and we’ll likely see much more of him in future Shrek movies. Banderas brings much of the panache and humor to Puss from the Zorro character he played a few years back.

Dreamworks keeps raising the bar with its animation, but the real delight is the story and non-stop humor, much of which is geared toward adult sensibilities- for instance, most generations won’t get it when Donkey improvises on the Rawhide theme song.

We’ll look forward to the ongoing saga of Shrek and Company- I expect Shrek 3 will see a little Shrekkette arrive on the scene with Shrek being initiated into fatherhood. And you thought YOUR Dad could be an ogre!

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From the personal weblog of Anthony Foster @http://anthonyfoster.com/blog/