Dateline - Phoenix - Saturday - oddly cold.
The temperature did not break 70 all day. Gray clouds hung overhead, a dark, pendulous hand blocking out the warmth and sun. When we awoke it was only 7 degrees warmer than Chicago.
A return trip to the gym proved somewhat amusing as the workout crowd, in their sleeveless shirts, unsuitable for such cold conditions, moved from their cars to the gym's doors at what almost amounted to a dead run. The weekend gym rat eye candy was a little more age diverse than the weekday eye candy consumed over our previous visit. Some pushed 40 with an occasional 50 something among the crowd.
Our plan, due to unfavorable climactic conditions, was to see the new Disney feature "Oz, The Great and Powerful". Returning to the house and and looking online we were assaulted with a dizzying array of viewing choices. IMAX with 3D, 3D without IMAX or viewing the movie on a regular screen,without any gadgets, baubles, bangles or beads. My personal feeling about IMAX is that when it was first introduced 40 years or so ago, it was an interesting novelty. I recall, I believe it was at Disneyland, sitting in a theatre watching an oversized view of the Grand Canyon. Today it seems it is used for virtually everything. Perhaps it is my age talking but feeling as if I could walk into an actors nostril and stroll about in his sinus cavity is just not my cup of tea. We chose the old fashioned, unadorned version, much like the movies my grandmother may have watched in her youth.
The movie is a mixed bag. James Franco's smarmy, stoner boy persona works....occasionally. Rachel Wieze is reliably brilliant and lovely, Zach Braff voices the winged monkey character of Finley nicely and director Sam Raimi wisely chooses to focus on the remarkable face of Mila Kunis, as opposed to her limited acting abilities. It has a wonderful, ambitious, almost continuous Danny Elfman penned musical score. Granted it is difficult for me to be objective about this since I have been a major fan of his since his days as frontman for Oingo Boingo. I once exchanged exactly three words with him at a champagne reception after a concert in Chicago. My "Nice show" was answered with a rather surly "Thanks". This brief, unprepossessing, verging on rude, encounter did nothing to dim my appreciation for his musical abilities, or for that matter the impressive biceps he sported in that era. The CG effects are universally excellent, some of the best I've seen and the story serves as a good prequel to the older, more familiar Judy Garland version of the story.
We returned home, had dinner....and more drinks. My personal contribution to the evening was guacamole and chips, a homage to the Southwest environs I was enjoying. We sat around the table deciding what to do next, settling on watching "Chicago"....while having yet more drinks. It is somewhat ironic that a movie which bears the title of my beloved home town was, up till then, a movie I had not seen. I had been cheating myself. The wonderful Kantor and Ebb score, Bob Fosse inspired choreography and excellent performances, John C. Reilly and Queen Latifa are particular standouts, make for a sublime viewing experience. It also brought me and my host back to the time we had seen it onstage during his days living in Chicago.
My personal prayer that evening as I went to bed was that my hangover in the morning would not be too severe. It is something I have prayed for before, with varying degrees of success.