Tuesday, July 18, 2017

A Day at the Movies

This post will have nothing to do with Vegas or poker.  And you know what?  After the way I felt upon returning from Vegas last week (see here,  if you've forgotten), I very well may start doing more and more off-topic posts,  We'll just have to see if the burning desire to talk about poker and Vegas returns.

In the meantime, I'm gonna tell you what I did on Saturday, my first weekend back home after my return from Vegas.  One thing I didn't do was play poker.  Really had no great desire to do that after spending over a month in Vegas playing a whole lot of it.  So in the afternoon I went to the movies and saw the newest Spider-Man movie, which is called "Spider-Man: Homecoming."

I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed it.  I don't think it was quite as good as the first Tobey Maguire Spidey (the one co-starring the fetching Kirsten Dunst), but it was probably the second best Spider-Man movie to date.  Now, that first Tobey Maguire film just shocked the hell out of me—for years they had been making disappointing if not outright awful super-hero/comic book movies.  That first one was not only a great comic book movie, it was a great movie, period.

Comic book movies have been better lately—or at least they haven't been as consistently awful as they had been for the longest time.  Certainly the first Avengers movie was terrific, and of course The Dark Knight was a classic (but so different in tone from the Marvel movies that it's hard to compare them). And I can report that while I was in Vegas I saw the new Wonder Woman movie and really enjoyed that as well. 

This new film sets Spidey up to be part of The Avengers now that the movie rights to all the Marvel characters have been straightened out.  No Spidey origin tale was spun, although it was briefly mentioned that Peter Parker had been bitten by a spider—but surely anyone seeing the movie already knew that.  And a lot of familiar Spider-Man characters are either missing or very different (no way was Aunt May as hot as Marisa Tomei in the comics!).  But the portrayal of Peter in high school kid struggling to be accepted is perhaps the closest to the original comics yet (at least, as I remember them).

Michael Keaton as the villain, The Vulture, does a fine job.  Although everyone is pointing out that Keaton went from playing "Birdman" to the Vulture, I am more amused that he long ago played Batman in two movies—you know, including the one where Jack Nicholson played The Joker.  So Keaton went from playing one of DC's most iconic super-heroes to playing a villain to Marvel's most iconic character.  That's show biz.

I thought it was a fun ride, and hopefully they can keep that going in future films with this version of Spidey. 

Actually, the main reason I am even discussing the movie is to ask this burning question:  Doesn't everybody know to stick around through the credits of every Marvel movie by now?  Hasn't the word gotten out?  I'm talking about the "kickers" that virtually every Marvel movie has in the closing credits.  You know this right?  So why did 99.5% of the audience at the theater I was at get up in unison and exit the theater as soon as the first credit appeared on the screen at movie's end?  I can't believe they don't know.

Spoiler warning:  There's actually two kickers.  The first one presents what seems to be an important piece of information that I assume will have major significance in a future Spider-Man movie.  And everyone at my theater missed it.  The second kicker, at the very end, was just a funny gag—but certainly worth hanging around for.

I don't get it.

Anyway, so much for Spider-Man.  Later that evening I was checking thru my DVR and was reminded that while in Vegas I had recorded something off ESPN that I wanted to watch—it was a 30 for 30 documentary on the Lakers/Celtics rivalry.  Actually I only recorded one part but fortunately the whole thing was available On Demand.

It was called Celtics/Lakers: Best of Enemies.  I guess it debuted during the NBA finals last month.

When I started watching it, I thought it was only two parts and intended to watch just the first part.  I was riveted (even though I knew exactly how all the games ended).  I just couldn't turn it off.  And when part 2—which all along I was thinking was the last part—ended with the humiliating 1984 NBA finals (the one that the Lakers gave away in 7 when they should have swept), I nearly screamed.  That was the most painful memory I have as a sports fan.  They couldn't end it there, could they?

Well they didn't.  I finally noticed that there was a third part, and so, even though it was well after 1AM, I started watching the final part and didn't stop until the whole thing was complete.  I got to bed at 3AM—later than I had been getting to sleep while I was in Vegas.  But the third part was the best part because of course the Lakers finally got their revenge on the Celts.

I highly recommend this documentary.  Of course, as  I longtime diehard Lakers fan, I am exactly the demographic they are going after (same thing for diehard Celtics fan—assuming such vile creatures exist).  But I think most neutral basketball fans would find it highly entertaining and informative.  Even non-basketball fans would probably enjoy it. 

It is really well done.  And it is it totally neutral in its approach, it's 50/50, half Lakers, half Celtics.  Of course many players from the 80's gave them in-depth interviews—Magic, Bird, McHale, Worthy, and many others.  Prominent sports writers who covered the teams chime in.  The film is co-narrated to give two different points of view.  Ice Cube narrates from the Lakers fans' point of view, and Donnie Wahlberg gives the Celtics fans side.

It goes beyond basketball, talking about how race played a part of the rivalry. The claim is made that all white people—if they weren't otherwise committed to one team or the other—rooted for the white team (the Celtics).  And similarly, all black people outside of Boston were pulling for the Lakers—the black team.  I'm not sure how true that was but it sure was interesting to think about.

One thing that it made clear—Magic and Bird together, coming into the league at the same time, each going to one of the two marquee franchises in the sport—quite literally saved the NBA.  How many of you remember that in the early 1980's, NBA playoff games were not shown live—they were on tape delay, shown after the 11PM news because they couldn't get ratings. Magic and Bird, the Lakers and the Celtics, turned that around, and then set the table for Michael Jordan a few years later.

Anyway, it is extremely well done and worth watching, even if you don't care about either the Lakers or the Celtics.

Worth staying up to 3AM for, in my case.


  1. As a kid, Spiderman was my favorite superhero. I thought the movie was very well done, with a great choice of actor to play the high school aged Peter Parker.

    I am very much looking forward to Avengers Infinty War.....cant wait to see how they bring it all together.

    Don't want to spoil it totally but the first end credit scene is setting up the next villain I believe.

    1. Thanks, Nick. Yeah, the guy playing Peter Parker was quite good. Thanks for the tip on the kicker. I knew it was going to come back around.

  2. I always stay to the end of the credits at a movie unless it is just so horrid I leave early. I do it for the hundreds of names of faceless people that put their hard work and energy into making the movie. Every so often I am rewarded with nice little Easter egg too. Plus I didn't just pay $12 to watch 99% of a movie dammit.


    1. Thanks, TD. I've always stayed to the end of the credits for as long as I remember. For one thing, I have a few show biz ties and I might actually recognize some of those obscure names.

      Also, in the old days, there used to be opening credits, so that the end credits were not nearly as long to get thru. These days, for reasons that total escape me, they like to put the opening and closing credits together at the end. If you're already dying to go to the bathroom, I can sorta understand not staying thru the 20 minutes of credits at the end. I wish they'd go back to putting opening credits at the beginning of the movie!

      In that regard, one of my readers told me about a great app called "RunPee." It does two things....tells you when the best time during the movie is to run to the bathroom if the need arises (and gives a synopsis of what you'll miss), and also tells you if there are any kickers during the credits.

  3. I watched the 30 for 30 and I agree that it was well done. It's fascinating to see that the NBA was on life support until the Magic and Bird rivalry turned it all around.

    1. Thanks, Ace.

      The NFL was the rising sport of the 1960's. The NBA was supposed to be the rising sport of the 1970's.....but it never became that. During the 60's and into the 70's, most of the NBA playoff games (including the Finals) weren't even on national TV. You could only see them if you lived in one of the cities that was in the finals.

      NBA would likely still be a minor sport if not for Magic & Byrd.