Wednesday, September 8, 2010

My first and only fight

As with most brothers, I loved my big brother, but I also loved to hate him. We would the perfect crime-fighting or mischief-making duo — depending on how the mood struck us — or we could be mortal enemies. The difference could be made over something as elaborate as me making fun of his weight or as stupid as him not allowing me to swing on the “good” swing on our backyard play area. Either way, we would usually make fun of each other, yell at each other and occasionally come to blows.
On one such occasion, my family was visiting my brother at college for some special event. During the course of our stay, I was showing Josh how much I had missed him by throwing things at his head to annoy him.
One of those things was a little piece of bark that caught him right in the eye. He was not happy with this little game I was playing, but didn’t want to do anything at his new college that might jeopardize his future with any anti-violence co-eds on the campus.
He drove my family back to the hotel where we were staying and when he asked for the hotel key, I happily obliged him and flicked it out of my hand towards his face. An interesting thing about hotel keys, if you flick them just right, they will take a kind of swooping journey towards the general direction in which you threw it.
In other words, I’m sure the card would have landed in the vicinity of Josh’s hands if his head had not gotten in the way. The flight path the card took caused it to wobble in the air and come down right on Josh’s eye, near where the bark had hit him a few short hours before.
Well, this was the hotel card that broke the camel’s back. I had no real time to react when Josh began to charge me with the fire of murder in his eyes. My only thought was, “Luke, you are going to have to put him down.”
I watch a lot of movies and if I man is ever charging you in the movies, you punch them in the face and they go down. Well, in the real world, when you punch someone in the face they may pause for a second, but then they just give you a look that says, “You really want to die today, don’t you?”
After I punched Josh in the face, he gave me that exact look before returning the favor.
His punch hurt a lot more than mine.
I was, however, able to stay conscious long enough to continue to battle with him. We rolled around the outside of our hotel punching each other in the face until my father — all 6-foot-3-inches and 260 pounds of him — came upon us.
I had somehow ended on top of my brother punching down at his face while he was punching up at mine. That left my back exposed for my father to grab my shirt collar and toss me back five feet as though I was a rag doll.
He looked at both of us and said, “Stop.”
This was short for “Stop, or I am going to take you both on and pummel you into the ground and leave before the police discover your bodies.”
I had been mad at my father enough in the past to puff up my chest to him, ready to fight. He would always say the same thing. “Son, I am going to tell you what my father told me. You get the first punch free, but you better make it a good one, because then it’s going to be a one-sided fight.”
This is how I knew when the word, “stop,” exited his mouth, that would be the end of the fight. It remains my one fight to this day.
The great thing about being brothers is that even after a knock-down-drag-out fight or just a small argument about who can fart louder, you can still be best friends by the end of the day. There may have been a few occasions where we fought for more than one day, but I can’t remember it — and I am glad it is that way.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

American is foreign — in a bad way

When I heard George Clooney was going to be in a movie that came out in early September I wondered if studios were trying to get a jump on Oscar season, or if it was just a dud the studios wanted to dump in the summer-movie graveyard month.
Unfortunately, it was the latter.
It is always hard to see good actors and actresses do bad films. You can tell they were trying to go for the serious, art-house film that might earn some awards, but instead wind up with a movie you will find for $4 at Blockbuster in a year.
The American is Clooney’s big mistake for 2010. The film follows a hitman hiding out in a small town in Italy after a botched assassination attempt on his life. While in Italy, he is charged with building a gun for another assassin and must also avoid being killed.
There seems to be a lot going on with the movie, but you wouldn’t know that if you watched it. The movie moves at the pace of a snail out for a Sunday stroll. For a movie that lasts an hour and 45 minutes, there are about 45 minutes that could have been removed from the film completely.
There are many scenes of Clooney aimlessly walking through the streets of his small town or meticulously building a gun that were probably meant to add to the movie, but only take away from it. I understand the idea was to build suspense in the film, but it is hard to do that when the audience doesn’t really know what is going on in the movie.
Add to that a confusing relationship between Clooney and a Italian prostitute that seems to only be in the film to add some sex scenes and nudity. If the movie was better, the relationship might make sense or involve audiences in the movie, but as it stands, it is just a series of sex scene that somehow suddenly turns into love.
Why is he on the run? Who is chasing him? These are questions only partially answered by the movie. After 30 minutes, most audience members will probably be looking at their watches to find out how much longer they have to wait for some semblance of a payoff.
Believe me, it never comes.
At the end of the movie I was only slightly less confused and 10 times more frustrated than I was at the beginning.
I can’t imagine even the biggest Clooney fan finding a reason to like this movie. He doesn’t have much of a chance to impress with his acting skills. He barely speaks and mostly stares out in space.
This is not a film to go see unless you are trying to go to sleep or you like looking at pretty Italian towns. You are better off saving yourself money and renting Peacemaker with Clooney. It is a decent action/thriller with a real plot and a good ending.