Dean Clough

March 27, 2023

Portico Darwin: Impromptu Movie Reviews


2 Minute Read
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Happy Monday and I came down with COVID, for the 2nd time since the pandemic's inception.  I knew this already when I made my post on Friday, but hey, why ruin your weekend when I had that covered already?

I'm fine already - mostly like a quick cold - but I thought these things were behind us? 

So line me up in 90 days for my 6th shot . . . and I ain't talking Fernet, Howard.  Stay safe(r) and do a shot with me.  Soon, please.

Fun Fact:  my first bout with the 'VID was in the sumptuous beauty of Murphy Manor in Tupper Lake, almost exactly one year ago.  The environs were different this time, but I will say Julie waited on me a LOT more than Shelly ever did.

But I used the time wisely, and by that I mean I watched a couple of films worthy of your attention.  Actually, very worthy.  Here they are. 

While We're Young:  Textbook
This is actually fairly old - it came out 9 years ago.  But it being older kind of fits, and I had never heard of it until Julie randomly watched it on HBO late one night recently and suggested it to me.  It's a very good dramedy.

With relatively few cinematic clichés save for the very end, this movie tells the oft-told yarn of connections and differences among generations.  But it's a fresh telling and when you've got Adam Driver, Ben Stiller, and Charles Grodin representing the young, middle-, and old-aged respectively, you're off to a fine start.  And they keep it going.  Ben Stiller's character and his wife, played by Naomi Watts, befriend a young (and exciting and happy - or so it seems) married couple.  The movie centers upon the unintended education Ben gets at the fairly madcap knee of Jamie, the role played by Adam Driver.

Since the movie has few clichés, I'll add one:  it shows us life through a variety of lenses.  The lens I enjoyed most is the one that reminded me that life now at my age is great.  Better than great, in fact.

Or, as the movie's tagline says:  Life Never Gets Old.

Reggie:  Diamond Certified
I loved this documentary about the first-ballot baseball Hall of Famer Reggie Jackson.  Like many, I thought of Reggie as supremely talented, but also an arrogant showboat, and that's being kind.  I was wrong and I really can't recommend this film enough.   And it joins things like Senna and the 1960s classic Grand Prix as movies where you don't have to be a sports fan to enjoy it.
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Because overlaying the whole thing is a history of race in America.  I will not preach, but it is simply impossible for a white person to fully understand what a black person deals with daily, and that was even more true when Reggie was coming up.   

But it was still true by the time he had already established himself as a superstar:  when you see the way A's owner Charlie Finley and Yankee manager Billy Martin ("Neanderthals" is apt for both) handle Jackson in the 1970s, you'll begin to understand.  And Martin's antics come after none other than The Yankee Clipper himself, Joe DiMaggio, welcomed Jackson with open arms in 1977.  And for good reason:  Joltin' Joe had been coaching, mentoring and had been friends with Reggie since the late 1960s, when he was on the payroll of the A's.

Now, I don't know about you, but if this "showboat" is good enough and cool enough for DiMaggio and also Hank Aaron, Julius Irving, Derek Jeter, Vida Blue, Joe Rudi, and Dave Stewart - all prominent in the film - well, I'm guessing he's an OK guy.  These guys are either great actors or he has a real bond with each.

What I found most damning was Reggie's attempted acquisition of the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1998.  He had partnered with Bill Gates and the late Paul Allen, and they were obviously ready to go.  The sham Hall of Famer Bud Selig ensured the team was sold to the humanitarian Rupert Murdoch, instead.  Reggie said he was told he and his partners "weren't a fit".  Hmm - a first-ballot Hall of Famer with an obvious deep, deep passion for the game, and two of the wealthiest men on Earth, weren't a fit.  What possibly could have been the problem?

The big takeaway is that Reggie Jackson felt he and other black men and women had earned a seat at the big table and deserved to be treated with respect and dignity.  Yet he never really got the chair nor the degree of resect he's earned.  So while there's been tremendous progress on race in America over the past 60 years - Reggie's adult life - we still have a long way to go, as this film perfectly illustrates.

Because ask yourself:  why couldn't Mr. October himself own a major league baseball team?

Have a great week.  


Many (OK, none) questioned my rant on universities getting more exclusive.  So I was pleasantly surprised to see our fine local newspaper, The San Francisco Chronicle, publish a big article on this very subject recently.  Check out this chart from the article.
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These are PUBLIC schools, and these are California kids applying to schools created to educate them.  Tell me again why UCLA could accept over 50% of in-state applicants as recently as 1995, but less than 10% in 2021?  Not that many children have gotten dumber, and I certainly don't remember UCLA being less great in 1995.

Well, the percentage of out-of-state admissions at University of California schools has gone from 5% to 17% in just 10 years.  Out-of-state students pay something like 3 times to attend.  Could all of this be related?

Thank you to any one that is reading this newsletter.


I mentioned this album in passing when I rolled out KLUF:  Modern Rock, but as an almost-certain 2023 Portico Darwin Award nominee, it deserves more.  This Diamond Certified record is from M83, and it's called Fantasy.  This is one of those albums appropriate for virtually any circumstance - listen and hear for yourself.

A shame about the cover art, though.

About Dean Clough

Plans To Enjoy Life.