AGMA goes to the movies

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Gene Siskel  – step aside…

There’s a new movie reviewer in town.

While AGMA is not a movie fanatic with one of those Regal Unlimited or AMC Stub A-List movie passes, she sees her fair share of movies.

Not really.

Honestly, I watch most of the movies I see on international flights on a screen that measures (if I’m lucky) 6″ X 5″.  Not exactly the ideal situation for a sweeping cinematic blockbuster.   But hey – it’s free and if I’m stuck in my little, teeny, itty bitty seat for 8 hours, it’ll pass the time.

Plus, if a movie sucks, I can change my selection and am not out ticket money.

I save going to the “real” movies for ones I REALLY want to see.  For the last few years, it’s been the Marvel Universe Avengers movies.

(But not the Deadpool movies.  Ick.)

The only comic books I read when I was younger was Archie and Friends.  I know – that’s just sad and pathetic.  I think they tried to make an Archie movie once, but it turned out sad and pathetic as well.    I mean, Betty or Veronia?  Pick one and move on with life for God’s sake.

So AGMA is unable to explain my fascination with the Marvel movies.

It could be as simple as Robert Downey Jr, Chris Hemsworth, Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Jeremy Renner, Anthony Mackie, Sebastian Stan or Chris Pratt.

Wildlifepedia says of the cougar,  “A capable stalk-and-ambush predator, the cougar pursues a wide variety of prey.”

Why yes she is and does.

But it was more than just the handsome faces and buff bodies.  Extremely buff bodies.

Imaginative stories, amazing special effects, great humor and some fine acting made these movies ultra enjoyable for AGMA.

And extremely buff bodies…

But last week, AGMA was part of a nationwide Fan Event and got to be one of the first to see the Downton Abbey movie.

Hot diggity dog!!

For some odd, unknown reason, there were 7 PM DA showings on 9/12 at movie theaters around Atlanta (and other cities around the US.)  AGMA follows Downton Abbey on Facebook (I know – I’m a geek) and they were advertising this Fan Event on the 12th in their posts.  Evidently there were supposed to be snow globes given out as well, but our theater must have missed that memo.

I would have ended up selling it on Ebay anyway.

I was nervous as we walked into the theater.  AGMA loved the PBS series so much, I thought it might be a let down.  And I was distressed when I read a few days before that two of my very favorite characters – Denker and Spratt – were not in the movie.

VERY 1st world problem.

I know that the movie won’t be released for general consumption until the 20th, so no spoilers…

The movie picks up 18 months after the series finished.  I think the ads have been extensive enough so that everybody knows that major plot is a visit from the King and Queen.  And of course, it wouldn’t be Downton Abbey if there weren’t a plethora of sub-plots.

It was absolutely delightful seeing everybody again (minus Spratt and Denker – boo hiss!) And Julian Fellows had the costume department working overtime – the dresses the “upstairs” ladies wore were breathtaking!  And of course, the sets were fit for a King and Queen, and Highclere Castle was as beautiful as ever.

But (I’m so sorry to have a but…) AGMA found some of the subplots predictable.  Hubs and I guessed the outcome of several of them correctly.

And everything seemed a bit rushed.  But I guess that’s the nature of a 2 hour and 3 minute movie.   There is just no time to really develop a story.  I mean, it took 5 seasons of the DA series for Carson and Mrs. Hughes to hold hands for Pete’s sake!

Because the movie was so short (compared to the 56+ hours in the series), some of the major characters had relatively minor roles.  Or none at all (Denker and Spratt…)  Mr. Bates is there but has a minor role.  I guess he was exhausted after all the dramas he was involved in in the series.  Understandable.  And we never get to meet Anna’s son or Mary’s daughter.

However, Maggie Smith was given loads of wonderful zingers and delivered them beautifully.  Of course.

Who else wants to be just like the Dowager Countess when they grow up?

Also, some of the story lines that were left dangling at the end of the series get somewhat resolved.  And the scene with Mr. Molesley serving the King and Queen has to be one of THE funniest in the annals of DA.

Overall, fans of the Downton Abbey series will enjoy the movie.  It was a delightful romp with characters we’ve (I’ve) grown very, very fond of over the years.  AGMA has to say that it was a wonderful treat to see them again!

I was actually a bit sad after the movie was over thinking that may be the last time we would encounter the Crawley family and servants ala 1927.  Just like AGMA was sad after the Avengers:End Game  movie.

Time moves on.  Dang it.

Oh…I need to say that while some of the plot twists were pretty obvious as to how they would end up, we didn’t guess the plot twist at the end.

No spoilers, but bring a tissue.

AGMA movie rating of Downton Abbey: 11 champagne bottles out of 10!!

Hic.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ciao Bella Italy Part Uno

 

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AGMA’s baaaacccckkk!

Actually, I’ve been home for over a week.

Jet lag’s a bitch.

Italy was lovely. That’s what I’ve been telling everybody…. Italy was lovely. Not that I had a fabulous time, or that it was great or wonderful or fantastic.

It was just lovely.

I think AGMA needs to stay home a while. I think I’m starting to get blasé about traveling. I’ll have to ponder that…

It could be that I traveled with a friend I’ve never traveled with before. CB’s a lovely, delightful person who’s been a friend for 30 years.  She’s also much loved by scores and scores of people.

Seriously.

And for a very long time, AGMA wanted to be CB. I wanted to live her life. I envied her rock solid marriage, her family – 4 sons who cherish her and get along with each other, her career (one of those $150/hr consulting things) and her gracious hostessing skills.

But most of all, I envied her scores of friends and relatives who absolutely adore her. A-D-O-R-E. I mean, if she would meet an untimely end tomorrow, there would literally be 1000’s at her funeral, all wailing and weeping and gnashing their teeth.  Me included.

So I pretty much thought CB was everything that I wanted to be. I always wanted lots of adoring friends, but it’s just never happened. And probably never will. AGMA’s a bit too crusty to be adored.

CB IS a lovely person and a good friend, but….

You never truly, really know somebody until you travel with them.

We are very different people. That became pretty obvious on our trip. There weren’t any major issues or confrontations, thank God. That would’ve been miserable. But we definitely have different “styles” and ways of approaching things.

AGMA’s not going to get into specifics. But while the feeling that I wanted to be her, to live her life, has faded over the years, I came home from our trip convinced that I did not want to be her, to live her life.

As imperfect as it is, AGMA kinda likes her own skin.

Is that a good thing or a bad thing?

So Italy was lovely.

We were in Rome for the first 5 days. Some of CB’s adoring fans are former business associates who live near Rome, so we had dinner with them (O & V) several evenings. It was awesome to have their translation skills and culinary advice.

One evening, O advised me to order the lamb entrails for dinner. She said it was a very typical Roman dish and was served for breakfast on Easter morning in many Roman households. “Hey”, I thought, “When in Rome…eat like a local. I like lamb. Why not?”

AGMA’s face was quite expressive when the server put my order on the table.

Nothing. Like. Lamb chops.

A heaping plate of brownish gray cooked lamb guts. I mean heaping. And I swear they were staring at me.

Watching my every move…

Golly, I can’t think of anything better to serve on Easter morning!

I made a brave effort to eat some of it, but thankfully there was plenty of other more than palatable food on the table that wasn’t staring at me. I think O was disappointed I didn’t chow down on it. She took the leftovers home to her dog who I’m sure did chow down on it.

But AGMA was somewhat subdued during our time in Rome.

I was running the Rome Marathon on our last full day in Roma and was worried about passing the medical exam that I needed to actually be able to run.

It’s a long story, but Italy has some weird medical requirements for people who want to run marathons. Marathons in the US will pretty much let anybody run. They really don’t care if you keel over with a stroke or heart attack. As long as you pay your entry fee and check the little box that you won’t hold anybody liable for anything, you’re good to go.

Evidently Italy doesn’t want you stroking out.

There was one test they required that would have been very expensive to get in the US, so I opted to get my exam in Rome two days before the marathon.

On March 31, I was whisked away from the Rome Marathon expo to parts unknown in a Smartcar by an Italian gentleman who didn’t speak English. CB anxiously waited for me at the expo, ready to call the police if I didn’t return.

This was going to be an adventure.

After a twenty minute drive, I met Guido, the Sports Medicine Man.

Guido was quite good looking. And much younger than me. And he asked me to take of my shirt.

Things were getting interesting…

AGMA felt like she was in a Fellini movie….“The Cougar and the Sports Medicine Man”

But alas, it was to attach the wires for the EKG to my chest. I wished I’d worn a nicer bra.

He also took my blood pressure. When I told him it might be a little high (I was nervous about failing the exam and not running in the marathon), he said in a husky whisper, “Maybe it’s because I am so close to you.”

Seriously. Sort of. He actually used a normal voice. The husky whisper part was in the dream that AGMA had later that night.

I passed my tests (but my BP was indeed high – probably multiple reasons…) and was able to run in the marathon on April 2nd.

And I finished! And didn’t stroke out. That’s always a good thing.

Just an FYI, it was not mandatory to run naked as the picture of the medal suggests.  That’s also a good thing.

Total self acceptance, lamb guts, Guido and a clothed marathon finish in the shadow of the Coliseum….

Okay, so maybe AGMA’s trip to Italy really was fantastic.

Stay tuned for Ciao Bella Italy Part Due (pronounced doo-eh)!

A star is Photoshopped

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Lots of movies have been filmed the Atlanta area since 2008 because of lucrative tax incentives for the film industry in Georgia.  Being a responsible blogger, AGMA tried to find out exactly how many movies.  Google was taking way more than three seconds trying to figure it out.  So “lots” is as good as you’re going to get.

Three of the Hunger Games movies, X-Men First Class, Water for Elephants, Anchor Man 3, all Tyler Perry movies, the new Ant-Man and my personal favorite, Abraham Lincoln vs. Zombies, are just a few of blockbusters filmed in the land of shrimp and grits.  It’s enough for the Atlanta area to now have the nickname “Hollywood of the South”.  Bless our little hearts y’all…

AGMA lives, loves and blogs in Atlanta.

The film industry has really ramped things up here in the last three years.  Massive production studios are being built.  Professionals in the film industry are relocating from California.  How ‘bout a little culture shock with that sweet tea, darlin’?

Hollywood acting wannabes are moving here hoping for less competition for parts.  In many cases demand for support jobs are outstripping supply.  If you’re “digital data wrangler”, whatever that is, evidently you’ve got it made…

It’s become really common to see the unique yellow signs on local roads directing the “movie folk” to sets.  One of these days I’m going to follow one of the “CREW” signs and see what happens.  I usually can always avoid arrest with the “addled senior” routine…

But I’m getting the fever.  I have a new quest.

AGMA wants to be in the movies.

I’ve managed to fight the lure of Hollywood for 61 years although I’ve always been a starry-eyed movie fan.  I’ve resisted hanging out at the St. Regis Hotel – the hotel of the stars in the Buckhead area of Altanta – hoping for a glimpse of Robert Redford or Paul Rudd.  AGMA hasn’t been loitering around the trendy bars and restaurants that are reporting constant “star sightings”.   Because I would just fit in those trendy places so well…

I think the bobby socks, saddles shoes, autograph book and feather pen are dead giveaways in the “not trendy” category.

But a new wind is blowing up Peachtree.  Pick any one of the 71 streets with the name Peachtree in it in Atlanta.  Seriously.

A new movie started filming a few weeks ago that makes all the difference; breaks down all my resolve.

Captain America: Civil War.

Some of you may remember AGMA’s post after I saw Captain America: The Winter Soldier.  I’m a serious Captain American fan.  And Chris Evans fan.  My kids are his age.  I’m so ashamed…

But this movie brings together most of the Avengers so not only is Chris Evans here, but Scarlett Johansson, Robert Downey Jr., Anthony Mackie, Emily Van Camp, Jeremy Renner, Don Cheadle, Sebastian Stan and more.   I mean seriously – you just know Samuel L Jackson has to show up as Nick Fury at some point too, screaming at everybody about what’s in their wallets.

Be still my semi-arterially clogged heart…

They’ve had some open extra calls.  One was for “high class individuals” like you would find at a gala fundraiser for the 1%.   Since I can’t remember the last time I put on a dress and heels – probably my son’s wedding in 2010 – I didn’t think that would fly.  I saw another one for an African market scene they were doing this week.  Since I’m coming out of this past winter as pasty white as a Beluga whale – with a similar girth – I thought I’d pass on that as well.

They seem to want a picture of you when you apply for these extra calls.  WTF? Actually two – a head shot and a shot from the waist up.  Sick bastards.  But it could be a problem when they actually see what I look like.  Salt and pepper Little Dutch Boy hair, glasses, a neck waddle, those jowly things on my jaw, an ample, gravity-abused bosom, a bit too much around the mid-section…  I wonder if they accept Photoshopped selfies?

But it’s a risk AGMA’s willing to take.  I gotta get on that set.

I know this probably isn’t fair to other’s who might also be applying, but I might have to drop the magic words.  Unfair I know, but I really, really want to have my fifteen minutes of movie magic fame.  I’d actually settle for ten seconds. These words have been know to open doors that were bolted and locked with rusted locks and no key.

“I’m a massage therapist.”

Open sesame!