A veteran actor in the lead with a newcomer as his ‘student? CHECK! Car chases? CHECK! Car crashes? CHECK! Cars blown up? Check! An enemy who is the hero’s friend? CHECK! Doubles crosses? CHECK! People having secrets? CHECK! A pretty woman or three? CHECK! Bodies pile up as movie goes on? CHECK! A lot of computer work? CHECK! A lot of cell phones used? CHECK! And then disposed of? CHECK! A female villain in a non-James Bond film dressed in black leather and made up severely? CHECK! CIA? CHECK! Russian bad guys? CHECK! A ‘hot’ sex scene between two young leads? CHECK!
Hey folks does this tell you that “The November Man” is a spy thriller? It is and for that reason alone leave your logic checked at the door and don’t ask any questions. Sit back in your chair and watch Pierce Brosnan, playing a less suave James Bond, shoot 10 guys, with guns, in a row without getting a scratch, though he does have a few scratches later on. His trainee, Luke Bracey, does the shower scene that Brosnon would have done 30 years ago while Olga Kurylenko is the 21st century idea of a femme fatale. Along the way are Mediha Musliovic, Bill Smitrovich, Will Patton, Lazar Ristovski and others playing both sides of the fences. Oh yes, something added to spy thrillers now, there is a big fight and chase between two females.
“The November Man” is nothing you haven’t seen before unless you haven’t watched a movie in 50 years. It is a mindless, foolish, fast paced, enjoyable, yes enjoyable, movie to see over the weekend as you wait for the possible Oscar contenders start showing next month.
My last 2 days in Caracas was spent drinking, eating, having sex and spending some time at plaza La Castellana which was the richest area of Caracas having the finest hotels and the Centro San Ignacio which is a shopping mall having restaurants, night clubs, musical theatre, a movie complex, etc., and was very cruisey and a lot of fun.
I do remember one meal I had there and asked the waiter to order for me. He brought a delicious appetizer which was an avocado stuffed with shrimp and had a light sauce drizzled over it. It was followed by a great mixed grill consisting of sausage, steak, sweetbreads and chicken cooked at the table. After that I was served a marquesa which was like a cheesecake made with a cookie crust. It was one of the best meals I had on my trip.
The last night in Caracas, still not feeling well, I decided to have an early dinner, no booze and hitting bed, alone, to get a good night’s sleep before the last week of my trip. I invited Stephen, John, Marco and Hector to join me as they had gone out of their way to entertain me and take me around Caracas. We exchanged addresses but I was never to hear from them though I did write them a few letters when I got back to Memphis.
I wasn’t going to leave Caracas until 5 PM so I decided, not feeling up to par, to get a massage, hit the sauna, take a swim in the pool and bake in the sun before I had to go up and pack. For lunch I had a broiled seafood platter and coffee not wanting to have any booze as that touch of a headache seemed to be getting a bit worse.
At 5 PM I boarded a Pan American plane, traveling first class, to Guatemala where I would switch a plane for Mexico city staying overnight and then going on to Acapulco where I would spend 3 nights and then on to Puerto Vallarta for 2 nights and the last leg of my trip back to Mexico city for 2 nights before boarding American Airlines to Dallas, go through customs and then head home to Memphis.
The only reason I know all this written in that last paragraph because that is what it says on my itinerary. The last thing I remember is wanting to jump off the balcony of my hotel room in Acapulco!
Walking down the Sabana Grande Boulevard Stephen and I played the old cruising game that made me felt I was back on Times Square. We would stop at different shops and sort of look at each other through the reflections of the windows, walk a bit more, a couple of more looks until I just waited for him to reach ‘my’ window. He spoke very little English but seeing the Damon gay guide in my hand he took it and pointed to a bar listed in it and then pointed at himself. I figured he wanted me to follow him at the bar which I did to find out that he owned it. He introduced me to John who spoke fluent English and Raphael who was moving to Los Angeles on Saturday and Marco and Hector, 2 very wealthy effeminate guys. The six of us spent the late afternoon, early evening going from place to place. John, Ralph and Stephen agreed to pick me up at the Hilton and then we would go out for dinner and they would show me more of Caracas.
As I had a couple of hours before they would come to pick me up I went for a swim in the hotel pool and for a quick massage. The guy did a good job and when he, shyly, asked if he could come up to my room later to give me another massage I got the message and smiled shaking my head yes. I explained about my plans for the evening and I had no idea how they would and he said if I wasn’t back by midnight he would come to my room and wake me up with a massage in the morning.
I don’t remember the restaurant we went to but I did make note of what I ate and it was black bean soup and a Hallaca, which is a Venezuelan dish that is an important part of the Christmas holiday but served all year round. It is made of meat, pork, chicken, rice, olives, onions, raisins, etc., wrapped in a thick bean paste and then covered by banana leaves. It was huge, great and tasty. I wouldn’t taste it again until 30 years later in a Venezuelan restaurant in Fort Lauderdale and that brought back all the memories of the days and evenings I spent in Caracas.
I had an interesting night in more ways then one but we won’t go into that and I started the day off with that massage! I met Marco and Hector in the hotel Lobby and they were going to take me sightseeing. I don’t know if this is when it all started but I do know that I had to cancel most of the sightseeing as I was getting what I thought was a bad cold. My nose was continuously stuffed up, I was coughing and what was rare for me I had the start of a headache.
Until I left Caracas on August 4th I was more or less in a haze. I was doing way too much drinking being hung-over every morning and what I though t was a cold was getting worse. Along with everything else if I had been in better shape I would have enjoyed it but I was having way too much sex, if there is such a thing.
I did meet a guy who was having lunch alone in the hotel dining room and I asked him if he would like company and he nodded his head yes. Turned out he was a charter travel agent in Minneapolis and he had booked a tout in Spain for Jan who was the owner of the WW franchise there. After lunch we went to the bar where we met a guy from Washington, D. C. Let’s just say we all got smashed and leave it at that.
I arrived back in Rio on Friday July 27th and picked up right where I left off as if I had never left. I was just getting to ‘swing’ in Rio, spent a great day and night at Ipanema beach where the speedos and bikinis were even smaller than on the Copacabana beach!
Back at Rio, staying in another hotel, the Nacional, I met Denny and Claudio and the 3 of us went out to eat and I had 6 huge linguias which were smoked sausages with garlic and were finger licking good! After dinner we went to 2 gay dancing bars and I got smashed. We spent the night at Claudio’s place and I finally got back to the hotel at Noon two days later!
On the 30th I was going to take off to Caracas where I would spend 5 nights. I was by now familiar with the exchange rate of money in Rio, knew my way around on the beach, had made some ‘friends’ and it was time to leave. I did a lot of shopping before I left Rio getting everyone in Memphis gifts and decided unless I saw something very special I wouldn’t buy anything else. I did buy a boar’s tooth on a gold necklace for me.
I was doing a lot of charging and out of the $1200 I brought with me I still had $690 left with 12 days, or so I thought, to go before I returned home. I understood Caracas was the most expensive city in South America and the 3rd most expensive city in the world.
I arrived in Caracas at 5 AM after having been very sick on the plane which is very rare for me and may have been the beginning of the end for my trip. I was still a little shaky in the afternoon after I had taken a nap and sent my clothes to the cleaners. I was spending 5 nights here so I had time to get things done before the rest of the trip. I was staying away from the night life which was good and the hotel was situated in the financial and cultural center of the city. I planned to take it easy my first night just inspecting the hotel and the area around it. I watched TV for awhile–did you ever hear Van Heflin dubbed in Spanish? Heck do you kids even know who Van Heflin was?
The next day I took a walk to the “Broadway” of Caracas and was surprised the gay guide didn’t have anything listed for that area. I did come across their new Museum of Modern Art that had opened a few months before I go there and was not only a magnificent building but their art collection put the Museum of Modern Art in New York to shame. See my traveling wasn’t all about sex!!! LOL
Still feeling a little queasy I went to the hotel’s health club and after getting a massage and spending some time in the sauna I felt a little better. The masseuse had suggested I take a walk down to the Sabana Grande area which was THE boulevard of Caracas having all kinds of shops, artists doing their work on the streets, gallerias and sort of reminded me of Washington Square in Greenwich Village in New York. Walking along the Boulevard I got ’lucky’ and met Stephen.
(The National Cathedral of Brasiilia)
As are most cities in South America there are many different ways of spelling them–I am using the spelling that is on my itinerary.
Even now 41 years later I remember the flight attendant on Transbrasil describing Brasilia and how it came to be. It seems it was, literally, dug out of the jungle to be made the capitol of Brazil. The architect designed it in the shape of a plane with the center being the business/government and embassy center of the city while the ‘wings’ were residential and each area had their own schools, stores and parks.
I got there at 1:40 PM on July 26th and left at 5:25 PM the next day so I really didn’t have too much time to explore the city. Once again I don’t have any notes regarding my stay there and I have only one outstanding memory of the place and that was the Cathedral of Brasilia and I can still see my going under ground to enter it. What I would call the steeple was at ground level and represented 2 hands reaching up to the sky. Between the ’fingers’ were stain glassed windows that gave a beautiful light to the chapel.
From what I understand the whole building turned out to be impractical because of the sun coming threw the windows made the place uncomfortable but I do remember being intrigued by the colors the sun gave shining through the windows.
I do know I stayed at the top hotel at that time in Brasilia but just now reading the reviews it seems it hasn’t been refurbished or taken care of since then!
I don’t recall any meals, or sex, there, so I am just hanging onto the once in a lifetime experience of going to a church underground.
Now on to Caracas!!
Our local AMC movie theatre has gone in a new direction having reconstructed the whole building. They are now offering dinners, snacks, desserts, sandwiches, burgers, salads, etc. all given to a server who gets your order, delivers it to you and then you pay your bill. There are plusses and minuses about the whole setup but I do see it becoming a very expensive proposition for a family going to the movies or even a couple on a date.
It is no secret that movie theatres make their money from the concession stands and not from ticket sales as most of the latter go to the film makers, distributors and studios. In many cases a soda and popcorn cost more than a theatre ticket but with these new food prices it will even be higher. If you want to get an idea of the food prices go to www.amctheatres.com/food-and-drink but remember they vary from theatre to theatre.
I wanted to ‘try’ out the new AMC–I liked the $7 admission on a Friday but you never know what a movie costs unless you check out the movie and performance schedule on the web. Depending on whether it is a matinee or evening, a PG or R rated film, a regular or 3D film the prices range from $7 to $14. The seats are the most comfortable I have ever sat in in a movie house–the serving of food can be and is disturbing–also I would hate to see the line at the ticket window when busy–along with prices you have to select your seat before you get your ticket!!!
They have less auditoriums than they did previously, which means they are showing less movies and each auditorium has a lot less seats than they had so they are really depending on food sales to make the money. With the movie companies making less money because of the cut in the audience size I wonder if they have some deal regarding concession sales.
As I said I like the $7 ticket price on Friday for PG-13 films but since I don’t eat food in the theatre if the AMC is showing the same picture as the Gateway Theatre, and getting the lower price, I might go to the former BUT if they are getting a $9 price I will definitely go with the latter–which I will in most cases anyway as The Gateway Theatre is special to me.
The best thing about “Frank Miller’s Sin City: A Dame To Kill For”, AKA Sin City 2, was that I got in for free, plus got a free popcorn and a free soda, all courtesy of The Gateway Theatre Loyalty Card.
I had not seen the first “Sin City” so I was intrigued for about a half hour by the sparse use of standout color in what is basically a black and white film noir of the 1940s and 1950s shown as a combination of live, digital, comic book, pulp fiction and graphic novels. After the novelty of a slash of bright red across the lips of a black and while character wears off there was a little interest in the name of the actresses playing the female roles as most of the men are more ‘seasoned’ veterans, and recognizable, though even here one or two have face but not name recognition.
Anyone familiar with the old movies, or books, like those featuring Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer or Dashiell Hammett’s Sam Spade or casts with Humphrey Bogart, Ida Lupino, Barbara Stanwyck, Lana Turner, Veronica Lake, Victor Mature, etc. will find their counterparts in Sin City 2. Every man is hard boiled and every woman a femme fatale. The main difference between this film and the old films are the amount of violence perpetrated not only by the men but more so by the women.
Written and directed by Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller I would love to know which one has the eyeball fetish! The production design by Steve Joyner and Caylah Eddleblute is outstanding as are all the other production assets such as costumes, hair and make up.
With a cast including Eva Green, Jessica Alba, Bruce Willis, Powers Booth, Mickey Rourke (almost unrecognizable ), Josh Brolin, Rosario Dawson, Stacy Keach, Jaime King, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Ray Liotta, just to name a few, plus a cameo by Lady Gaga, keeping track of who is who and trying to remember their real names will keep your mind off of the screenplay that is not at all original in any aspect of film making.
There is almost as much nudity, frontal and rear, by both males and females, though there is a sense modestly, as there is violence. Killings are by guns, arrows, knives, hands, feet, cars, etc., all graphic and far from modest.
The best/only way to see this movie is with a free ticket, a free popcorn and a free soda.