Two Great Movies Running on TV This Weekend

When I wrote Warnings, I didn’t want it to be a dull “science book.” So, I studied the writing style of three books that I admired and enjoyed reading. Those were, The Right Stuff, Rocket Boys, and Isaac’s Storm. 

The first two books had outstanding movies made about them, although the title of the Rocket Boys’ movie is October Sky. 

As I write this, the movie of The Right Stuff is running on HDnet and it runs again tomorrow and again later in the week.

October Sky ran earlier today on the HBO family of channels. It, too, runs again tomorrow and later in the week.

If you have never seen these movies, I highly recommend them.

Kansas Flight Film Festival

From their press release. Sounds like fun.

On Saturday, August 13th, the Kansas Aviation Museum in conjunction with the Wichita Orpheum Theater is presenting the 1st Annual Wichita Aviation Film Festival. The festival features three films: the WWII epic Flying Tigers at 10am, the Cold War era Dr. Strangelove at 2pm and Harrison Ford’s Air Force One at 7pm with a reception at 6pm.

The Kansas Aviation Museum and the Orpheum Theater would like to announce the inclusion of three dynamic speakers who will offer ten minutes of detailed information related to the topic as a prelude to each film.

For Flying Tigers, local Charles Chauncey, pilot of the 704th B-29 produced in Wichita and stationed in the Pacific theater, will be on hand to convey his experience of war-time operations and how they affected the life of a pilot.

Prior to Dr. Strangelove, retired Lt. Col. George Sevick will be on hand to share his experience flying not only B-52′s but indeed the very B-52 that is on display at the Kansas Aviation Museum. Lt. Col. Sevick was a navigator/bombardier during Vietnam and spent nearly thirty years with Boeing Wichita working on the B-52 program.

Lastly, Boeing Presidential Airlift program director Kristen Kniest will join us for the 6pm reception and a presentation regarding the film Air Force One, detailing how well the producers of the film matched the reality of life aboard the iconic plane with the demands for dramatic effect during filming.

Movie Review: Atlas Shrugged, Part 1

Lets take a break from tornadoes…

I loved the movie, it far exceeded my expectations. The showing was sold out and it received applause when the lights came up.  I’ve read the book.

That said, Kathleen (who has not read the book) thought it was only “OK” (not “bad”).

I’ve read some critics (i.e., Roger Ebert) hate the movie. I believe this is more due to his personal politics than an objective review. As evidence, take a look at the rave reviews at IMDB. The book is 1000+ pages and was a difficult project (as evidenced by the multiple attempts in the 40+ years since the book was published) to bring to the screen. They succeeded.

Go see it for yourself!  I can hardly wait for Part II.

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Review of "Tornado Alley"

Saw the new IMAX movie, Tornado Alley, at the Kansas Cosmosphere earlier today. I really enjoyed it, it exceeded my expectations.

If you have watched Discovery’s Storm Chasers series you know that one of the threads is filmmaker Sean Casey’s attempt to shoot a movie and get “the perfect shot” inside a tornado. Tornado Alley is the result of those eight years of effort.

The movie, narrated by Bill Paxton (co-star of the movie Twister), introduces us to the Vortex II research program and Don Burgess. If Burgess’ name seems familiar to you, it means you have probably read Warnings: The True Story of How Science Tamed the Weather. Don, a friend and former college roommate of mine, sets the stage by explaining the Vortex project.

Most of the rest of the movie explains the successes and frustrations of trying to conduct a field study of tornadoes. There are many great shots of tornadoes and, even better, the sounds of tornadoes. This is the first time I have heard the authentic sounds made by tornadoes.  I don’t want say much more because I don’t want to ruin a couple of unexpected items for you.

I was with five high school and junior high aged kids and one other adult and all of us give it an enthusiastic “thumbs up.”

The Kansas Cosmosphere is one of the best space museums in the world and is an excellent place to see the movie. On April 11th, the “Tornado Intercept Vehicle” will be there and they are having a contest to win a ride in it. Details here.

"The King’s Speech"

Long time readers know that I infrequently review movies here. That said, “The King’s Speech” is outstanding. Please see it in a theatre. There is one important scene that would really lose something when watched on a home television.

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"The Right Stuff"

I’m watching it right now on HDNet Movie Channel (1106 on UVerse). Get your DVR’s set: It will run at 1:45am tomorrow Central time and again Saturday at 3:45am.

Here is Roger Ebert’s original review. And, below, are Ebert and the late Gene Siskel’s list of best movies of 1983.

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It has been at least five years since Kathleen and I went to see two movies in a weekend…and, even longer since we really liked them both.  My review of Morning Glory is below. We also went to see Unstoppable,  the movie about a runaway train, and we both loved it.

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"Morning Glory"

Morning Glory” starting Harrison Ford, Diane Keaton, and Rachel McAdams is a better-than-average movie about a producer of a struggling morning news show and her attempt to build ratings. While there are a number of inside references, the plot is easy to follow and Kathleen and I both enjoyed it. 

A special bonus: AccuWeather makes several cameo appearances (watch the monitors in the background).
My biggest objection: The weather guy is, as usual, a doofus. You know, someone ought to write a book about all of the lives saved by meteorologists. Oh, wait. That has already been done! OK, Hollywood. Time to make a movie from that!

"October Sky"

Speaking of great movies, I happened across the last twenty minutes of October Sky on television yesterday afternoon. This is a movie that I highly, highly recommend. It is wonderfully cast and acted.

Based on the book Rocket Boys by Homer Hickam, it tells to story of young men in the town of Coalwood, WV and how their love of rocketry changed their lives.

As far as I can tell, the movie is not playing on television in the next week. So, go to the local Blockbuster (they can use the money) and rent it. You won’t be sorry — four stars (out of four).

There were two books that I had in mind when I wrote Warnings: Rocket Boys and The Right Stuff. Both books tell wonderful science-based people stories.  When Tom Fuller, in his review, compared Warnings to The Right Stuff it was one of the great thrills of my life!

So, book or movie, a October is great time to watch or read the story of the Rocket Boys. And, if you have never watched or read The Right Stuff put it on your November list. On November 14th, I’ll post an explanation of why you should read TRS next month.

You won’t be sorry!

Date Night

Last night, Kathleen and I saw “Date Night,” the new Steve Carrell/Tina Fey movie. Both of us really enjoyed it. The writers obviously were people who had children and had been married a while. Two thumbs up!

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Two Movie Reviews

Up in the Air.  I loved it, Kathleen liked it.  I may have been influenced by how very well they portrayed the experience of being a very frequent flier.

Its Complicated.  Both Kathleen and I loved it.  Its a little slow getting started, but it is very engaging once it gets in gear.

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