With yesterday's impressive 8-1 Cubs win over the Cardinals seemingly well in hand late in a summery Chicago afternoon, I decided to hie myself to a DGA-sponsored screening of the new Anthony Hopkins/Ryan Gosling psychological thriller.
So before a few comments on the ballgame, some notes on this movie, which was... well, interesting.
Basic plot: Hopkins plays an aviation expert (we see him at the very beginning of the film, giving a two-second "investigation" of a crashed plane, although his occupation is largely irrelevant to the plot), who catches his wife having an affair and shoots her at point-blank range.
That's not a spoiler, either -- the main psychological intrigue here is between Hopkins and an assistant DA played by Gosling; Gosling at first almost doesn't care about the case because he's about to get a high-paying job with a top-rank law firm in Los Angeles.
Then he gets sucked in, in part because the detective who investigates the shooting is ... well, no, I'm not giving anything away by telling you this, either ... the man with whom Hopkins' wife was having her affair. Without this coincidence, much of the rest of the plot would fall apart. So you have to suspend your disbelief about this, and then understand that this character turns out to be a rather minor part of the entire story.
There's a subplot involving Gosling and this cellphone, which happens to be the same phone that I have, which made me perk up and listen every time the phone rang. Irrelevant, but interesting.
The rest of the film is about how Hopkins, at first seeming crazy by wanting to represent himself, skillfully gets himself acquitted of the charges.
Or does he? That's the plot point I won't tell you about.
Is this a great movie? No, it's not, and there are plot holes large enough to drive the fancy sports car Hopkins is shown at the beginning of the film, speeding down an airport tarmac, through. But it's stylishly shot (Greg Hoblit, the director, also directed a cop thriller set in Chicago a decade ago, "Primal Fear"), there's some really interesting and clever dialogue (at one point, Gosling, in a discussion with his boss, played effectively by David Strathairn, is discussing whether he can bring Hopkins to trial again. "What if I find new evidence?" Gosling asks. "From where?" says Strathairn. "The evidence store?")
And, there are some scenes showing Hopkins that pay homage to some of his work in the classic thriller "The Silence of the Lambs". There's even a bit of nice, although rather plot-pointless, eye candy in Rosamund Pike, playing an attorney in the firm Gosling is supposed to be joining.
This isn't a great movie, but it was a very pleasant evening's diversion.
Just a few notes on the game: it was the most complete performance by the entire team this season. The most gratifying thing was to see Carlos Zambrano, for the first time this season, throw like the ace of the staff he's supposed to be. His only real mistake: a HR to Albert Pujols, and you can easily forgive that with an 8-0 lead. The best thing about Z's outing was that he didn't walk anyone, also for the first time this season, and he lowered his ERA by another run. It's still a rather unsightly 5.77, but Z has now won two more games than he did last April. He did throw 112 pitches, a rather high pitch count for seven innings, but at least this time, 72 of them were strikes.
Derrek Lee has now reached base in all 23 games this year; Jacque Jones had his best game of the season, getting two extra-base hits (a double and a triple) and three RBI in the seven-run fifth inning; Will Ohman, who has struggled this year, threw a competent inning in relief, as did Rocky Cherry.
And can I say one more time how much I detest Fox telecasts? If it's not them making mistakes on their graphics, it's Thom Brennaman making stupid comments (as I noted in the game thread, he said that Lee's wrist injury last year was "from being hit by a pitch"). And if Joe Girardi's color commentary yesterday was any indication of the work he's doing for the YES network, he ought to go back to managing.
On to the sweep tonight; I like the club's chances with Rich Hill going. ESPN gives national coverage, so every one of you can see the game; unfortunately, that means we are all subject to the anti-Cub bleatings of Joe Morgan.