Movies on a Plane, and Other Ways to Witness Oscar Isaac Having a Moment

I recently journeyed to the Philippines and back. All manner of movies were at my fingertips. Although, flying Korean Airways for the first time, I was slightly disappointed with the selection of (a mere) 35 or so movies. Thanks Emirates for tainting my expectations. I still watched. Of course I did.

I coincidentally witnessed two movies with Oscar Isaac. Who? Well, this guy is having his moment, because he’s also in the upcoming Star Wars movie AND he plays the villain, Apocalypse, in the next X-Men movie. Well played sir.

There were a few other movies I was eyeballing, like Big Eyes and Still Alice, but they seemed to be more ‘think pieces’, which I just didn’t need as I slogged through 14 hour flights.


Flights: IAD-ICN-MNL

Kingsman: The Secret Service – Cracking. As in skulls and bones. A fine entry into the spies and gadgets film canon.  (Grade: B+)

Ex Machina – Eerie. Oscar Isaac as a reclusive genius trying to create life-like artificial intelligence. You won’t like what’s inside his head. (Grade: B-)

Jupiter Ascending – Turd. I’m being kind. Dear Wachowski brothers…err, siblings…thank you for a pleasant dilemma. Should I stop watching and make this the first movie I ever failed to power through? Almost. I finished it. But I feel dirty. (Grade: D-)

Run All Night – Same, same. Liam Neeson in an action movie with a special set of skills. His 300th take on Taken. (Grade: C+)


Flights: MNL-ICN-IAD

A Most Violent Year – Snooze. A most boring movie. Was Oscar Isaac trying to channel Al Pacino’s Michael Corleone or some such? Not really his moment, this. (Grade: C)

Casablanca – Usual suspects. No need to review this, kid. (Grade: A)

While We’re Young – Limp. There are good Ben Stiller movies and there are very bad ones. This fits firmly in the latter category. Not funny, if that was at all any part of the point. And not dramatic, if there was even a point. (Grade: C)

The Avengers: Age of Ultron – Hulky. The second time I’ve seen this. I just needed to round out that last few hours of my trip. Serviceable superhero stuff. (Grade: B-)

Oscar Isaac
Oscar Isaac

Movies on a Plane, and Other Ways to Be Enthralled by Scarlett Johansson

The thing about flying to far off lands, it takes time. Lots and lots of time before you can start the steep slide towards jet lag.

I could read a book or do some work. I could listen to music or try to sleep.

None of that will last 14 hours between Washington, D.C. and Tokyo. Nor six hours between Tokyo and Bangkok.

So I need some other way to pass the time on the plane. Movies.

I watched 10 movies on my recent round-trip flight between D.C. and Bangkok. 30% of those featured Scarlett Johansson. They were also the best movies of the lot.


Flights: IAD-NRT-BKK

300: Rise of an Empire – Muscular.  I was digging the first half of this movie, then something happened. Maybe I overdosed on too many six packs and beefy warriors.  I kept calm, and focused on Eva Green. (Grade: C+)

Captain America: The Winter Soldier – Marvel(ous). One of the better Marvel superhero movies thus far. Funny. Tense. And lots of Scarlett Johansson. (Grade: B)

Jodorworsky’s Dune – Creepy. I’m glad this guy didn’t make Dune. It would have been wierd in the worst way. But it probably would have been better than David Lynch’s terrible version. This is a documentary about Alejandro Jodorowsky trying to turn Dune into an epic movie in the 70’s. His way. The most interesting part was how the artwork influenced later movies and comics. (Grade: C-)

Muppets Most Wanted – Unwanted. Not good. Sorry Kermit, but please try again. (Grade: C)

Her – Sultry. Nothing strange about falling for Scarlett Johansson’ s voice. I did. (Grade: B+)

Robocop – Robust. Not sure why they needed to remake this (money, of course), but still a good effort. I wasn’t bored. (Grade: B-)

Return Flights: BKK-NRT-IAD

The Amazing Spider-man 2 – Pointless. The worst super villains ever (sorry Jamie Foxx, Electro sucks). The guy playing the Green Goblin flat-out steals the Overacting Performance of the Year Award. The motivations for why they became villains? Stupid. Witty onscreen repertoire between real life couple Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone? Bah. The whole thing was crap from start to finish. (Grade: C-)

Chef – Tasty. I enjoyed this. And now want to eat a Cuban sandwich in the worst way. (Grade: B+)

Noah – Creaky. Noah’s Ark that is. And the movie. It tried to be epic. Casting Russel Crowe will do that. Instead it was boring. Even Emma Watson seemed confused why she was in this movie. (Grade: C)

The Grand Budapest Hotel – Hmmm. I don’t really get Wes Anderson. His perfectly framed sets that actors have to interact with. Instead of following the action and the actors, he stages his quirky little dioramas. This was better than his previous effort, Moonrise Kingdom, but I can’t do it. (Grade: C+)


Overall, not a great playlist. I can redeem myself next month as I hop to Kuala Lumpur and wile away the hours. I hope Scarlett Johansson’s current movie, Lucy, is available.


Flight of the Cessna

When you want to fly the friendly skies, let me tell you where to go. Go to a freshly certified (certifiable?) pilot waving his (probably fake) license from the cockpit of a 1968 Cessna. Bring your own peanuts and check in advance for plenty of barf bags.

The flight of the Cessna set out from Thun Field Airport (Pierce County, WA), flew over the rooftops of our family’s houses, buzzed motorboats on Lake Tapps, flitted by Northwest Trek, invaded the airspace of McChord Air Force Base, ventured over the Puget Sound, escaped the gun sights of the McNeil Island prison, jetted past the Narrows Bridge and had a peek at the top of the Tacoma Dome, all before crash landing on the Lost island.*

Let’s relive the action together…

Too many misters, not enough sisters at Thun Field
Planes of the world
A wing and a mountain
Propeller? Check
Rudder? Check
No banana in the tailpipe? Check

Flight Crew? Check. Pilot (left) and Stewardess (right)
Gauges and yokes? Check
The most beautiful gauge in the plane (depending on the plane)
Whole plane? Check
It's business time
My parent's 'hood

Lake Tapps
Lake Tapps
Somewhere near Enunclaw
Up high, like 2500 feet
Tacoma Narrows airfield and the Puget Sound
Tacoma Dome, I-5 and beautiful parking lots
A smooth landing at Thun Field? Yes!

* The crash landing on the Lost island may or may not have been a figment of the author’s imagination. Much like the finale of Lost, this will remain a mystery.

Musings From a Random Conspiracy Theorist

There is nothing quite like being stuck in an airplane next to a nutty conspiracy theorist that leans over and tells you matter-of-factly about the way the world really works. Don’t worry, some day we’ll all experience these things…or not…

  • Did you know that our planet Earth is actually called ‘Shan’ by higher beings? You don’t say!
  • Did you know that those same higher beings include some 80 reptile species; many that pose as humans? ‘V’ Alert!
  • Did you know that Al Gore and George Bush are reptile beings? Gasp!
  • Did you know that there are cities as big as Los Angeles underground? And that all the missing children pictured on milk cartons can be found there? Poor little Timmy!
  • Did you know that not only does Earth rotate around our Sun, but our solar system rotates around a great star (it takes millions of years to make one circuit)? Use the force!
  • Did you know that all life is based on frequencies and as we rotate around the great star our frequencies change? And as frequencies change the reptile beings cannot keep their human shapes? And that Al Gore must wear a vial of something to drink to stay human? Oh Gore, you sly dog!
  • Did you know that bear-like creatures with donkey-like heads roam the wilds of Idaho? No!
  • Did you know that the higher beings stopped nuclear events like Chernobyl and 3-Mile Island? And that the reason the higher beings are so interested in us humans is that nuclear energy is not natural and is very destructive and it needs to be destroyed? Of course, it’s all so clear!
  • Did you know that the Earth has been completed evacuated over 100 times in its history? No way!

Well, if you didn’t know these things, you certainly do now! Go out and spread the word! Or do something useful!