LUCY

At the movie’s conclusion, Lucy (Scarlett Johansson) states: “We’ve had life for a billion years. Now we know what to do with it.” What does she think we should do with our lives? Presumably we should be able to stare at a gun and watch the bullets fall out harmlessly to the ground; look at a bunch of gangsters pointing AK-47s at us and have them drop their pieces and fly to the ceiling flaying impotently; conjure up dinosaurs and disappear just as they are about to gobble you up; and drive effortlessly down a one-way highway while watching cars pile up helplessly.

A MOST WANTED MAN

What is it like to be a spy? Some cynics say that it’s a game indulged by its proponents; that our spies know their spies and vice versa, and the groups, however hostile their countries are to each other, simply exchange information freely, thereby keeping their jobs. Others, less cynical and more naive, think that spies are like 007, licensed to kill, engaged in high stakes acrobatics in pursuit of subversives.

THE PURGE: ANARCHY

While watching THE PURGE: ANARCHY, those of us of a certain age may think back to their childhood, perhaps a time before Disneyland and Disneyworld, when you were grateful to take a few minutes on Coney Island’s Ghost ride. For twenty cents (this was in 1951 when I was privileged to sit on a rickety car), you travel a winding path through a dark tunnel. Every few seconds, things that go bump in the night would lunge toward you. First a skeleton would virtually wrap his arms around your neck. You pull back. Then a figure that looks like a prequel to the Freddy Kruger series would make a murderous laugh. When you finish your two dimes’ worth, you were hardly shaking with fear. In fact, you were laughing to think that anyone would be terrified. The Ghost ride was used more by teenagers looking to make out in the dark for a few minutes when such activity was considered risqué in the Fifties.

A FIVE STAR LIFE aka I TRAVEL ALONE

A typical five-star hotel in the more expensive areas of Europe, Morocco and China would cost, figure, oh, $700 a night and up. And that doesn’t include the enormous tip that would be expected for your butler, assigned to you only, waiting in the hall at your beck and call with room service treats that, of course, would be charged to your bill. Imagine having a job that would take you from one such hotel to another, from one romantic country to the others, with all airfare and taxis paid for and with the power to determine the fate of each establishment to some extent. Would you like that? Probably, and Irene (Margherita Buy), the principal character in Maria Sole Tognazzi’s dramatic comedy A FIVE STAR LIFE (I TRAVEL ALONE in its Italian title), is not exactly miserable. But believe it or not, she feels that she is missing something, and that something is family, a person or group of persons that she could love and who love her back and who provide for this otherwise independent person an anchor of stability. Poor Irene. But she can also laugh at herself for her longing, which is why Tognazzi’s wholly delightful tale is light enough to be called comedy with sufficient weight to be named a drama as well.

I ORIGINS

Everybody’s fingerprints are unique. No two people have the same ones. We know this because in the movies, detectives can flash thousands of fingerprints across the screen and, despite the vast numbers are able to pinpoint which ones match the model. In other words, nobody has yet found two living people with the same prints. What would you think, though, if you discovered that a guy has the same fingerprints as someone who recently died and whose prints had been on file? I, for one, would suspect there’s some kind of soul brother impact there, or even more far out, that this living person is the reincarnation of the departed one. That’s a major motif in Mike Cahill’s I ORIGINS, which might more accurately be called “Eye Origins,” because a biologist, determined to disprove the theory of Intelligent Design, that the eye had been perfectly formed since the beginning and not evolved via a succession of 12 steps, is working to discover those very 12 steps. But while that is his goal at first, he comes to realize something more dramatic, and that insight, a coup de theatre if you will, has the most resonance for the movie audience.

SEX TAPE

You’ve heard it in your Sociology course, in newspaper articles, in magazines (though perhaps not in Cosmo) that—put in the simplest terms–people marry because they’re horny, but that you can’t expect the passion to last forever. Passion cools and, if you’re lucky, a more mature “love” takes over. But that doesn’t satisfy Jay (Jason Segel) and Annie (Cameron Diaz). Before they got married and had a couple of kids, they thought of nothing but sex, and had no problem acting on their thoughts. Some unfortunate, but true words of wisdom come from Annie’s dad when Annie announces at dinner that she is pregnant and is getting married: “There goes the sex,” he suggests. And he’s right.

MARSEILLE 2014 – CREATIVE CITY!

There are always a good number of events occurring throughout New York City during the week leading up to and including the annual Bastille Day celebrations. While most people focus on the Sunday street fair on East 60th street adjacent to the Alliance Français, there are plenty of other noteworthy cultural and gustatory happenings to enliven Summer in the city. One of these is the afternoon-long petanque tournament on West Broadway, which took place outside Cercle Rouge restaurant on Friday, July 11th.

A LONG WAY DOWN

Nothing makes much sense. Is A LONG WAY DOWN a comedy about depression, suicide, and paralytic disease? Does having suicidal impulses in common make for solid friendships? Is there anything in the script that adds up to more than banal chatter among four people with little in common? Who knows? Pascal Chaumeil’s adaptation of Nick Hornby’s novel—the volume available on Amazon as an audiobook that received a surprisingly good review from Publishers Weekly—simply does not work as a movie. Perhaps this is because the characters are annoying rather than interesting, while a customer hearing only the voices does not see just how insipid the people really are.

LAND HO!

You probably heard the advice “Travel while you’re young. You have the energy, and once you get kids, you’ll have to put off long trips for many years to come.” There is some truth in this: of course you have more energy when you’re 20 than when you’re 60, and traveling with young kids or teens can be trying. But what do you do after the youngsters leave the nest and you leave your career to retire? You may have hobbies but eventually you’ll have wanderlust and will want to break up the routine with some trips abroad. While Reykjavik may not be on your mind as much as Paris or Rome, there are some hardy souls who may appreciate the brisk weather and stunning nightlife of that city and the raw beauty of its natural surroundings.

2014 FANCY FOOD SHOW TOP 10 DISCOVERIES

A quiet Fancy Food Show, that’s a first for me. I’m also surprised at the number of vendors expected who didn’t show. The economy is still on the ropes around the world and it shows. Too many repetitive products this year but as usual, a number of surprises that you will enjoy.

10.000 KM aka LONG DISTANCE

In the good old days before the Internet, or better still before the telephone was invented, people used to write letters. This is how we got such a wealth of information about the thoughts of our own founding fathers here in the U.S. When friends, families, and lovers regularly wrote to one another, we called those epistolary relationships, which is (kind of) what the two lovers have in Carlos Marques-Marcet’s film 10.000 KM.

SNOWPIERCER

One of Pete Seeger’s favorite protest songs dealt with the sinking of the Titanic, the key words being “When that ship left England, it was making for the shore/ The rich refused to associate with the poor/ So they left the poor below, they were the first to go/ It was sad when the great ship went down.” The late Mr. Seeger, a Marxist banjo player, chafed at the idea of rigid social classes. Doubtless he would be offended by the decision of the skipper of a train, the Snowpiercer, who, after the world freezes over thanks to climate change, saved about a thousand people. But: he believed that there is an established order to things and that every society must have distinct social classes.