My Thoughts on… Olympus Has Fallen

Just a quick reminder that My Thoughts On… posts may contain spoilers, so if you haven’t seen the film in question, it may be best to move on!

Synopsis

In the wake of a terrorist attack on the White House, Mike Banning is the only Secret Service agent inside the building who can rescue the president.

What I Liked

  • By now, regular readers of this blog should know that I have a massive interest in the American presidency, and this extends to fictional presidents. So I was always going to want to see this, and I loved being inside the White House for just about the entirety of the film, and watching the people around the presidency go to work trying to solve the crisis.
  • I really like Aaron Eckhart, I always think he’s pretty good value for money, and he’s good in most roles. He’s not necessarily the most presidential of people, but I think he did an acceptable job.
  • Gerard Butler is not my favourite person in the world (I have a sneaking suspicion he’s a bit of a dick), but I don’t mind watching him act, and I think this is pretty much his perfect role – action hero. He was OK as Mike Banning. Mainly while he was doing the action-y stuff, rather than all the talky stuff at the beginning.
  • I enjoyed most of the performances actually; specifically Rick Yune, Angela Bassett, Morgan Freeman and Melissa Leo.
  • It’s a shameless action film, and I love a shameless action film. I don’t need it to be particularly deep and meaningful, or take itself too seriously, I just want to be entertained, and I was entertained.
  • Dylan McDermott is very attractive.
  • The best line of the film definitely belongs to Butler, when he says “Why don’t you and I play a game of f*** off. You go first.”

What I Didn’t Like

  • I like an action sequence as much as the next person, but the attack on Washington DC and the White House went on far too long for me. It doesn’t help that I was having a minor panic attack at the idea of how realistic it was, but seriously, I just wanted it to end.
  • I try my hardest not to be that person who picks holes in a plot, unless they are gaping and totally distract from the film. I don’t want to be the person to point out that I don’t think the First Family would be traveling from Camp David on a really dangerous snowy night for a benefit. Nor that the president’s son would have an agent assigned to him whose sole responsibility would be to stay with him and ensure his safety at all costs. So I won’t.
  • The ending is just so… American. I know that’s probably a silly thing to say, but there’s not really any tension to be found in an American film about an American president in peril. They exist so you can have a closing speech about America leading the way in the fight against terrorism/aliens/weather phenomena.

So, in conclusion, I enjoyed it for the spectacle of it, and I thought it was entertaining, but it’s not something I would rush to watch again. There’s another film on the same subject coming out later this year, called White House Down, with Channing Tatum as Gerard Butler and Jamie Foxx as Aaron Eckhart. I don’t really like either of these actors, but I think the film is probably going to be better. I’ll see, of course I’ll see it, but I’m not sure how I’m going to like it. We’ll see.

Dream Job ~ BEDM

Talking about your dream job when you don’t have any job is kind of depressing. But then, I don’t know many people who are in their dream job, as such. Some people are doing what they need to do to get the bills paid; others are happy enough in their job but have an elusive dream career; whilst others are in a living hell and really wish they could leave to do something (anything) else. If you are lucky to be doing your dream job, then congratulations!

As ever, I don’t like to narrow things down to just one option when I can narrow them down to three, so I’m going to give you a rundown of three jobs I wish I could do to make a decent living.

Writer

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I don’t think I’m alone amongst bloggers in this respect. I think a lot of us got into this blogging lark because we feel we’ve got something to say, and we think we’re fairly good at saying it. Ever the Brit, I don’t like to blow my own trumpet, ever, but I think I am a fairly good writer. I’m not saying that I don’t have issues (I know I do, and succinctness is surely one of them). But I know that my talents outweigh any issues, and I’d love to make a career out of it. The most likely route this would take would be fiction, but ever since I started my blog I have realised that I wouldn’t mind writing lifestyle articles, so I can see myself blogging professionally – probably on behalf of a company, rather than making a living out of this blog.

Senior White House Assistant

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I want to work in the White House, but I know that I am supremely under qualified to actually work in any substantive role that contributes to policy in any meaningful way. So really, my ideal job would be that of Donna Moss in The West Wing. She’s essentially a deputy to Josh Lyman (the Deputy Chief of Staff, which I guess makes her the Deputy Deputy Chief of Staff*), but she’s very important to him and allows him to do his job well. When she outgrows her role, she joins a campaign to elect the next president, and eventually becomes chief of staff to the incoming First Lady. This is literally my ideal career trajectory. If I could work also in the (fictional) Bartlet White House, that would make all my dreams come true.

Foley Artist

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Ever since I watched a behind-the-scenes documentary about Friends, years ago, I have been interested in foley art. If you don’t know, a foley artist is responsible for the everyday sounds that you hear in films, television, radio and video games. For example, the sound of a door shutting or a lift bell pinging are sounds that are added in post-production, and not recorded whilst the scene is being filmed. Generally, you don’t notice them, and you certainly don’t necessarily pick up that they are added afterwards. But there is someone who is responsible for recreating them, and they sometimes have to be really inventive about it! Sound is a film or television show is so important, and when it’s done well it can really add to your enjoyment of it. I’d love to be a foley artist and be responsible for creating those sounds. I’ve looked into what I would need to do in order to make it a reality, but I don’t know if I’ve left it too late. Writing this has made me realise how much I want to do it, so maybe I’ll pull my finger out and actually do something about it!

* Congratulations if you are a big enough West Wing geek to pick up on the quote.

Newsflash ~ BEDM

Today’s prompt requires me to talk about something that is in the news today. That would ordinarily be something that I would enjoy writing about, but today, I am just too tired! My weekend away was a lot of fun but I am now shattered, and I need to get this posted quickly so I can tuck myself up in bed and recover!

So instead of writing about the Equal Marriage Bill, which is being debated today, and is something that I feel strongly about, instead I’m going to share a photo that I saw on Twitter. It’s a total cheat, because this isn’t really in the news at all, but I’m too tired to care!

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It’s Barack Obama and a baby. I have no clue why these people are in the Oval Office, nor who they are, so I don’t think it’s particularly newsworthy, but it’s a nice photo, and it’s all I really have the energy for today.

I can’t believe I have posted twenty days in a row. I am rather proud of myself, and I really hope I get to 31!

Bowl to the Chief

Hello all

Well here’s something I didn’t know until last week; the White House has its very own bowling alley. It was inaugurated on this day in 1947, and was built as a birthday present for President Truman. Bizarrely Truman himself didn’t even like bowling, so it seems a bit odd that anyone would think a bowling alley would be a good present. (Although as it turns out, the inauguration came the day after he was briefed on the Manhattan Project, so maybe it was nice to have something a little less serious and scary to focus on.) Anyway, it was moved from its original location in the West Wing over to the Old Executive Office Building, and then to the White House by the Nixons in 1969. The Nixons, it seems, actually did enjoy bowling, so it makes a lot more sense that they had a hand in moving the alley back to the White House.*

I can see no better way to commemorate this anniversary than to provide you with photographs of presidents bowling.

President Harry Truman

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Harry S. Truman. For someone who doesn’t like bowling, he sure looks like he knows what he’s doing.

davide1959

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There are no photos, that I can find, of Dwight Eisenhower bowling, though this doesn’t surprise me. He was 62 when he became president, and frankly, he doesn’t seem like the sort of person who would have enjoyed bowling all that much. Instead, this is a photograph of his son David (who married Richard Nixon’s daughter Julie), bowling at Camp David.

9

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Photo by Stan Wayman.

Again, no photographs of Lyndon B. Johnson bowling, in the White House or elsewhere. But there is this one, of his son-in-law, Patrick Nugent, and his wife, Lady Bird Johnson, bowling at the OEOB alley.

nixon

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marac_gmu5

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As I mentioned, the Nixons were the ones to move the bowling alley back into the White House, and I found two separate images of him bowling, so I figure he was a quite the fan. Bearing in mind he’s in a shirt and tie in the first picture, I would love it if it turned out that he just loved it so much that sometimes he nipped down there in the middle of the day. That’s much more fun than the obvious, which is that it was a promotional shot.

106_ronald_reagan_and_jane_wyman_bowling

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As far as I can tell, this is a scene from a film called Brother Rat, so technically Ronald Reagan wasn’t president at the time, nor was he actually bowling. But it’s the closest I could get. This is a photograph of him with Jane Wyman, his first wife; they met whilst making this film.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uhxQoWHBbaw&w=448&h=252&hd=1]

No photograph of George H.W. Bush, but there is a video! He does pretty badly, but haven’t we all done something similar? I mean, sure, I was drunk when I made a fool of myself whilst bowling, but that’s neither here nor there. Also, it seems he wasn’t given bowling shoes, which explains the falling over.

img-mg---politicians-bowling---bill-clinton_130825311670

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l080404_ellen

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Apparently, Bill Clinton was a keen bowler, and regularly made use of the White House lane, though I wasn’t able to find any photos of him doing so. Hillary offered to settle the Democratic nomination battle with Obama by taking to the lanes, but it was an April Fool’s joke. Based on her performance on Ellen, it wouldn’t have done her any good, because she appears to be a terrible bowler. Having said that, I think she just didn’t want to put her fingers in the ball and risk her nails, because she must know that you don’t bowl like that, surely?

aGWBush bowling candle  pins

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It’s not really clear how much George W. Bush enjoys his bowling, there are only a couple of photographs available, and none of them seem to be at the White House bowling alley.

Obama_2008_Spoh-718996

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Obama decided, while trawling for votes during the Democratic nomination campaign, to take to a bowling alley for a game. Probably to prove that he is just one of the guys, in that he can partake in an ordinary game of bowling just like you and me. Except, as it turned out, he was terrible, and scored 37 points out of a possible 300. Shortly before withdrawing from the Republican nomination race recently, Rick Santorum also played a game of bowling, and, when he turned out to be quite good at it, compared himself to Obama and seemed to suggest it was indicative of why he should be president instead of Obama. Let’s all be thankful that this won’t be happening. (Not to get all political or anything.)

So that’s that. I couldn’t find any photographs of John F. Kennedy, or indeed any of his family bowling, at the White House or elsewhere. Kennedy doesn’t strike me as having been  much of a bowler any more than EIsenhower does, despite the age difference. Kennedy was more of a sailor, or a golfer. Similarly, there were no photos of either Ford or Carter bowling.

Who else wishes that all workplaces were forced by law to install a bowling alley?

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* Information taken from Whitehousemuseum.org (I tried to work out how to add footnotes but could make no sense of the instructions).