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Found 45 results

  1. "FUN FACT: Zamperini's roommate at the 1936 Berlin Olympics was the great Jesse Owens who won 4 gold medals." Louis Zamperini on bringbackthemile.com --- "Unbroken" - 2010, Book (DonRocks) "Unbroken" - 2014, Film (DonRocks)
  2. The Group of Six (G6) existed from 1975-1976, and included France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdon, and the United States. The Group of Seven (G7) first existed from 1976-1997, and added Canada. The Group of Eight (G8) existed from 1997-2014, and added (then kicked out) Russia. The Group of Seven (G7) has existed again since 2014.
  3. Joe Cocker's passing reminded me of this version of Dylan's "Just Like a Woman". This is such a soul full rendition: Always liked it. ...and come to think of it...a beautiful sexy version by Roberta Flack jeez I like that song!!!
  4. I just watched SE2 EP2 of "Black Mirror," entitled "White Bear." It was the single-most intense thing I've ever seen, TV or movie. If you don't mind not sleeping, and feeling sick all the way down to your soul, then watch it on Netflix, and don't read ANYTHING about either the series, or the episode, before you do. White Bear on Netflix --- SE4 EP1 is the greatest tribute to Star Trek: The Original Series I've yet seen - this, while maintaining its own identity and sense of purpose: It is magnificent. --- So far, I've watched six episodes of this, and it's the best TV show I've ever seen - better than Breaking Bad, better than anything.
  5. This is an arcane piece of trivia - I'm pretty sure this was essentially unknown, but I spent about twenty minutes researching it. Arlene Martel was a fairly prolific TV actress in the 60s and 70s, and best known for being Spock's would-be wife, T'Pring, in the original Star Trek episode, "Amok Time." She was also one of the singers in the Mean Joe Greene Coca-Cola ad, "Hey Kid, Catch!" 😯
  6. I used to joke around with brian about the Third Church of Christ, Scientist: and Brutalist architecture in general, saying how ugly it all was. He had sometimes written about this church, and I was giving him what was intended to be a good-natured ribbing. And yes, I *do* think it's ugly - in fact, it's an absolute eyesore; on the other hand, Brian is an expert at architecture, and I am nothing but a curious layman whose knowledge is barely above zero. When we first began talking about it, I remember that I was surprised to find out it was designed by I.M. Pei (who I suspect is taken seriously by real architects, but also becomes annoying since he's one of about five names (along with Frank Lloyd Wright) that people like me mention, because we don't know enough to mention any others). And then, I remember driving by it one day about a year ago, and seeing this: and, out of the blue, I became extremely sad - I wasn't even sure why. I've since looked into the building, and realize that it was considered by many respected architects to be - not an eyesore, but an important work. Yet, the businessmen and the bureaucrats apparently didn't listen to the architects and historians, and sacrificed this building forever in order to become another generic, glass-windowed office building. Shifting to something I have more expertise in (classical music), whether or not a piece is "pretty" or "beautiful" is of little importance to me in terms of assessing its value. I can't even begin to list the masterpieces which, to an untrained ear, might sound "ugly," "like noise," or "just plain boring," and yet, these pieces are not only appreciated, but positively cherished by me and most people with a music education. Example (*): I don't know the back story behind the church's demolition, but the thought of brain-dead government officials ignoring experts in order to pander to the masses makes me want to evolve towards Fascism. If this building was a masterpiece, even if I can't see it, then damn it, it's a masterpiece, and it's up to me to bring myself up to speed so that I can recognize it as such. What other works of importance are going to be sacrificed for the almighty dollar, and because the public wants something "inoffensive to the eye?" I may not be sophisticated enough to know that this was an important building, but I'm wise enough to recognize that experts, who know a whole lot more than I do, think that it was. If I were in a position of power, I would listen to what they had to say, public opinion be damned. (*) [Emphasis mine] "Early in 1943, I received the score of the Seventh Sonata, which I found fascinating and which I learned in just four days (**).... The work was a huge success. The audience clearly grasped the spirit of the work, which reflected their innermost feelings and concerns. (This was also felt to be the case with Shostakovich's Seventh Symphony, which dates from more or less the same period.)... With this work we are brutally plunged into the anxiously threatening atmosphere of a world that has lost its balance. Chaos and uncertainty reign. We see murderous forces ahead. But this does not mean that what we lived by before thereby ceases to exist. We continue to feel and love. Now the full range of human emotions bursts forth. Together with our fellow men and women, we raise a voice in protest and share the common grief. We sweep everything before us, borne along by the will for victory. In the tremendous struggle that this involves, we find the strength to affirm the irrepressible life-force." -- Sviatislov Richter (**)
  7. If you're offended by any discussion about religion - even when it's being discussed as a tangential issue - then please click out of this post now because this may offend you, and that is not my intent. Minor **SPOILERS** will follow: --- Last week, I finished reading the biography of the amazing Louis Zamperini, "Unbroken," written by Laura Hillenbrand - one of the best and most thoroughly researched biographies I've ever read. No, it's not perfect, and if you click on the title, you'll see we have the beginnings of a meaningful discussion about the book. This thread, and this post, is about the movie. In the "Unbroken" book thread, I mention a recent discussion I had with a member about "In Cold Blood" (just click and read the first paragraph in Post #11). In essence, she was unable to enjoy the movie because she had read the book first. I'm afraid that with "Unbroken," that may be the case with me: I was recently told that there was no mention of Billy Graham in the film. To my eyes, the book is structured as follows: 1) A medium-sized beginning (childhood, upbringing, college, Olympics) 2) A huge middle (the war) 3) A short ending (PTSD, recovery) For there to be no mention of Zamperini's post-war biography is to essentially clip short his life in his mid-20s. Think about this for a moment: If Billy Graham did not exist, there would be no "Unbroken" because there would have been no Louis Zamperini to write about. Zamperini's recovery (I'm purposefully not calling it a redemption) is such a major factor in his biography that its omission is a literary and journalistic sin. What I can say here is very limited because I haven't seen the film, but based on what I heard, I would urge anyone who has seen the film, and who doesn't want to invest the substantial time involved in reading the entire 406-page book, to borrow a copy, and read only the 18-page Epilogue. At this point, the only reason I want to watch the film is so I can voice this opinion more forcefully, and with some credibility and authority; right now, I cannot. --- For those interested in the enormous power that Billy Graham was able to convey, I encourage them to go to his website, and watch one or more of his "televised classics" (the old, black-and-white ones are directly relevant to the full biography of Zamperini, but even for those completely uninterested in Graham, there is still historical importance in the beautiful alto gospel of Ethel Waters at the 8:30 point in this video). I should also disclose that Graham was a major influence on, and source of enormous comfort to, my beloved mother - his occasional televised crusades were part of my childhood, as I watched my mother watch him, completely mesmerized by the unselfish sovereignty of his oration. I am hardly an evangelist, but have no problem in voicing my opinion that Billy Graham is one of the greatest and most important people ever to live, wielding immense power on a global scale, but never once abusing it for his own personal gain - his rightful place in history is side-by-side with Martin Luther King, Jr., the Dalai Lama, Pope Francis, Mahatma Gandhi, and David Ben-Gurion. --- Louis Zamperini, Sports (DonRocks) "Unbroken" , Book (DonRocks)
  8. My friend in Hollywood told me that there is a place there called Pizzeria Mozza which may have the best pizza in the world- topping even pizzeria bianco. has anyone on this board been there? my friend said the baker nancy silverton spent 5 years researching on how to make the perfect crust. the restaurant is co-owned by mario batali. my friend said the wait to get reservations in about a month (for pizza!?!). he also said they opened an Italian osteria next door serving more pasta that has an amazing mozzarella bar. Mozza website
  9. I'm curious to hear peoples' takes on the Corcoran Gallery of Art and its closure. Above all else, I think that last year's dissolution of the Corcoran is the single-biggest loss to hit Washington, DC since ... when? The College of Art and Design, the $200 million Beaux Arts Building, and $50 million in cash went to George Washington University - does anyone have a well-written backstory as to *why* this already-rich college got such an enormous windfall? The 17,000 artworks, valued at $2 billion, were given to the National Gallery of Art. While I think that's wonderful, it also justifies a new building - are there any plans to either buy or construct one? The Corcoran collection could be a huge draw for whatever location they decide to put it in - from Feb 7, 2015 through May 3, 2015, three galleries in the NGA West Building were jam-packed with Corcoran treasures, and while this was certainly a treat for NGA visitors, something must be done in the long term in order to give these works of art their proper due. How much would something like this mean, for example, to Prince George's County? It would certainly lure me and my wallet out that way.
  10. Brenner's first time on "The Tonight Show" in 1971: Brenner, among other things, reflects on that performance in 2013. Wow, you talk about a deep, reflective opine - what he's saying extends far beyond stand-up comedy, but for *every* aspiring stand-up comedian, this is required viewing. In just eight minutes, he touches on a lot of fascinating things - Brenner was a true comic pioneer who really lived the transition from old-school to new-school:
  11. Current List Of NFL Starting Quarterbacks ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- List of NFL 2014 Opening-Day Starting Quarterbacks ---------------------------------------------------------------------- AFC ----------------------------------------------------------------------- North Ben Roethlisberger 2004, #11, Miami (Ohio) Joe Flacco 2008, #18, Delaware Brian Hoyer 2009, Undrafted, Michigan St. Andy Dalton 2011, #35, TCU East Tom Brady 2000, #199, Michigan Ryan Tannehill 2012, #8, Texas A&M EJ Manuel 2013, #16, FSU Geno Smith 2013, #39, WVU South Ryan Fitzpatrick 2005, #250, Harvard Chad Henne 2008, #57, Michigan Jake Locker 2011, #8, Washington Andrew Luck 2012, #1, Stanford West Peyton Manning 1998, #1, Tennessee Philip Rivers 2004, #4, NC State Alex Smith 2005, #1, Utah Derek Carr 2014, #36, Fresno State ---------------------------------------------------------------------- NFC ----------------------------------------------------------------------- North Aaron Rogers 2005, #24, California Matt Cassel 2005, #230, USC Jay Cutler 2006, #11, Vanderbilt Matthew Stafford 2009, #1, Georgia East Eli Manning 2004, #1, Mississippi Tony Romo 2004, Undrafted, Eastern Illinois Robert Griffin III 2012, #2, Baylor Nick Foles 2012, #88, Arizona South Drew Brees 2001, #32, Purdue Josh McCown 2002, #81, Sam Houston State Matt Ryan 2008, #3, Boston College Cam Newton 2011, #1, Auburn West Carson Palmer 2003, #1, USC Colin Kaepernick 2011, #36, Nevada Russell WIlson 2012, #75, Wisconsin Austin Davis 2012, Undrafted, Southern Miss
  12. How do you write a post about Mickey Rooney - a Hollywood legend whose career lasted 88 years? You don't. You throw something up there, and hope people fill in the gaps. I just saw Rooney - astonishingly, in the middle of his career - in the 1972 "Night Gallery" episode "Rare Objects" (all my "Night Gallery" episodes link to the best Night Gallery blog on the internet, written by David Juhl).
  13. I doubt anyone here has heard about the death of Tucker Hipps, but Hipps was a pledge in my very own fraternity at Clemson University, Sigma Phi Epsilon, and the circumstances of his death have been, to put it kindly, "suspicious." I found out about it several months ago, and it made no sense then: Apr 1, 2015 - "Clemson University Student Killed After Fight With Fraternity Brothers About McDonald's Breakfast :Suit:" by Jason Silverstein on nydailynews.com It didn't make any sense then, and it made even less sense as the weeks and months passed without any news - people were apparently out for a morning jog at 5:30 AM, and, as the story went, Hipps (a very fit young man) supposedly fell behind during the run, and nobody even noticed he hadn't returned. He was found in Lake Hartwell, just under the Highway 93 bridge - it's wide-open highway, and there's *no way* that someone in a group of runners is going to simply disappear. There was something very wrong with this story, but nobody was saying anything. Aug 8, 2015 - "New Witness Says Clemson Frat Pledge Died After Being Forced To Walk Railing" by Jordan Sargent on gawker.com This really resonated with me, because the one time in my life when I came closest to dying, was when I was out four-wheeling with some friends - the fuel line got pinched, and we all had to walk back. It was either 1) walk an extra five miles or so through dense woods, or 2) walk across a train trestle which was very near the bridge where Hipps was found (you can see it on top of the map below - the rectangle on the left side of the water is a rocky outcrop, descending 10, 20, 30 feet down - it was the most dangerous part). The trestle was about 1/4-mile long, and if a train had come, it would have meant jumping about 60 feet into water which is often shallow and rocky - I thumbed my nose at the devil that day, and lived to tell about it, but whenever anyone asks me, "What's the closest you've ever come to dying," I tell them this story of stupidity, foolishness, and peer pressure. To this day, I cannot believe I risked my life by doing this - one thing about walking across a train trestle: there's about six inches of space between each tie, and you can't sprint; you have to essentially tip-toe (at high speed, needless to say). I strongly suspect there is a widespread cover-up about the death of Tucker Hipps, and much more will trickle out as the stool pigeons start to sing, one-by-one: Feb 4, 2015 - "Clemson Sig Ep Suspended For Five Years Following Pledge's Death Last Semester" by Bogey Wells on totalfratmove.com A five-year suspension for a local chapter is pretty much of a death sentence, and this is probably as it should be. It's all so needless, and very, very sad. To the Hipps family: If you ever find and read this, I hope you find peace and resolution to this senseless tragedy, and that you manage to make some good come out of this terrible situation. This, even though nothing will ever bring back your son.
  14. What do people think of Talenti gelati and sorbets? The first time I ever tried them, I thought they were about as good as any premium brand of ice-cream product on the market, and I *still* think they are, but has anyone noticed that they've become ubiquitous, and that you can even find them at Rite Aid? I suspect the reason for the massive increase in distribution is that the company (which was founded in 2003) was acquired by Unilever, the world's third-largest consumer goods company, with $60 billion in annual revenue, in Dec, 2014. Although Talenti is a subsidiary, they're still accountable - literally accountable - to Unilever, and I'm wondering if anyone has noticed a change (I'm not convinced I have, except for the increase in distribution; although I did just recently notice that they're going out of their way to explain why they're using dextrose). My guess is that if they're left alone, they can maintain a high level of quality, but if they're micro-managed, the product will go the way of Häagen-Dazs (General Mills) and Ben & Jerry's (also a subsidiary of Unilever, which, to me, foreshadows The End of Talenti in the next 5-10 years). If you haven't noticed a precipitous drop in quality in Ben & Jerry's over the past fifteen years, then you're not my target audience. Cheers, Rocks
  15. Is anyone else watching this? They did a season opening double show last night. It's charming, and I love the technical section of it. I can't understand about a third of what's said by the various bakers due to accents, but love it nonetheless. I'm less of a baker than a cook, myself, and enjoy watching the trials and triumphs of the contestants.
  16. Although I've never read the groundbreaking 1947 book on which it is based, this is a fine documentary which covers German cinematic development and progression between the two World Wars, and does it using beautiful, important film clips from historic movies. Its major flaw is that, were it not for the clips, it would be akin to enduring an arduous lecture about something you don't know enough in which to have an interest. This is an extremely fertile period in German Cinema, and it is explored here very thoroughly - although the clips save it from being completely austere, you really must *want to learn* about this subject to get the most out of this fascinating documentary - look closely enough, and you can see WWII on its way, which chilled me to the bone. Has anyone else out there besides me seen this important documentary? If so, which parts struck you as being the most poignant? I believe this is a documentary to see by those who have seen some of the films, and not a primer which tells the viewer which they should watch (although it certainly could be used as such) - a certain amount of prerequisite knowledge is required in order to fully appreciate its otherwise-meaningless words. One legitimate way of watching the documentary would be to stop anytime a film is referenced, watch that film, and then return to where you left off in the documentary - by the end, you'll have a working knowledge of this period in German cinema superior to that of even most film students. "From Caligari to Hitler: German Cinema in the Age of the Masses" (<--- this is an outstanding review on variety.com) is available for free with an Amazon Prime membership (an oxymoron, I realize).
  17. I saw a lot of films in 2014, including all of the movies nominated for Best Picture, with the exception of "The Imitation Game." I am not sure why I didn't go see this movie in the theater. A recent conversation with a friend about the Enigma Machine led us to this interesting video, which, in turn, brought us to "The Imitation Game." This film made an excellent companion piece to "Das Boot," a German movie about at World War II submarine crew that I loved and had just watched days earlier. "The Imitation Game" tells the story of Alan Turing, a real-life British cryptographer who decrypted German intelligence codes for the British government during World War II. The screenplay, written by Graham Moore and loosely based on the biography "Alan Turing: the Enigma," by Andrew Hodges, won the Oscar that year for Best Adapted Screenplay. I enjoyed this film. Benedict Cumberbatch (who was nominated for Best Actor for this role) gives an outstanding performance as Turing. There are two intertwined stories: a thriller about a secret group trying to break German code in order to save lives, and Turing's secret life as a homosexual. Both tales are engaging and well told. If you are thinking about watching this film, take a moment beforehand to view the video about the Enigma Machine (above). To appeal to the masses, the movie offers a Hollywood explanation of how the machine works. Watching the video first to gain a better understanding of The Enigma Machine enhanced my enjoyment of this fine film.
  18. This probably isn't the best time to be watching "American Sniper," but I do get a childish pleasure out of Clint Eastwood films, and I make a mild effort to watch Best Picture Nominees, even though I realize that's hardly an arbiter of anything but notoriety. Still, it's 2:30 AM, I'm having a tremendous pain flare, and I guess I'm in a "misery loves company" mood, so ... Interestingly, my personal assistant attended Chris Kyle's funeral (long story, that one). I also feel that, since I'm never there, I learn something from war movies, although I realize I'm watching Hollywood, and not reality, so must selectively filter whatever I see. Watching new films also fills a gap which I'd developed over the past fifteen years in terms of general popular culture. I really liked the analogy (at the young Chris Kyle's dinner table) of "sheep, wolves, and sheepdogs," and I guess I'm a classic case of a sheepdog - or I would be if I wasn't so badly hurt. I wish I could protect the unprotected, the weak, the sick, and the disadvantaged, but right now I'm just too badly injured, so I just have to sit back and watch. About 75 minutes into "American Sniper," I'm less convinced this is a "war movie" than it is a biographic about a man who's just doing his job - getting completely absorbed into his job - grisly though that job may be. I can easily see how partisans could either denounce this, or support this, but as pure film, I see this as more of an individual story than some sort of complicated team picture - almost like a perverse version of 'The [hypothetical] Cal Ripken, Jr. Story' (though I have absolutely no reason to think Cal would forsake his family for his job, which Chris Kyle (Bradley Cooper) ultimately does)' How it progresses in its final hour remains to be seen, but I can certainly understand how this movie polarized the public. Even now (or, perhaps "especially now"), I have a weird, almost sheepish feeling even writing about it, but this post should be taken as a movie commentary; not as any sort of pro- or anti-war stance. (Yes, of course I have strong, personal feelings about Iraq, but they have no place here, and if I betray them - one way or the other - then I have failed miserably). Boy, the contrast between Kyle buying his son a treat from the bubble-gum machine, immediately followed by the auto mechanic turning on his power drill, positively made me (as well as Kyle) shudder. Perhaps this is one of the first signs of Kyle's impending PTSD? Indeed, after I wrote that last sentence, I continued the film, and Kyle met the soldier he saved (the one who lost a leg), as the power drill continues to whir in the background - I'm pretty sure this is an important pivot in the film. The amount of liberty taken with this biopic is substantial - apparently, Kyle didn't have that much association with Mustafa (skillfully expressed in this film by Sammy Sheik), and only wrote one paragraph about him in his book. I don't know much about this particular issue, so if anyone has information to the contrary, please let us know. The shot (from underneath) of Mustafa jumping from one rooftop to another evoked something out of "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon," i.e., it looked very fake (well, they did say he was an Olympic athlete; but I assumed it wasn't for the Long Jump). Such happy scenes in this film - Ryan "Biggles" Job: "What do you mean, she can trace the diamond to Zales?" A little tidbit I picked up from Amazon X-Ray: "Chris Kyle's father personally told Clint Eastwood and Bradley Cooper that he would 'unleash Hell' if his son's memory was disrespected in this film. He also said that Eastwood and Cooper were 'men he could trust.'" I don't like the way they "invented" the villain of Mustafa, just to have a villain to root against. It really dumbs down the film - this is a story that should tell itself, and Eastwood (or whoever) felt the need to create a "Bird-Magic" type of rivalry between the two snipers. That might work for the masses, but it doesn't work for me: In real life, people aren't even sure "Mustafa" - or whatever his name was - even existed. That said, even though it was complete fiction, I *loved* the take-out shot in slow motion. Okay, that was one of the *worst* endings to any serious movie I've ever seen. I knew almost nothing about how Kyle died, and I *still* know almost nothing about how Kyle died. I feel cheated as all get out. Like the rest of my movie write-ups, this is obviously not a "review," so much as it is part of a (hopefully) larger discussion. When the day comes that I write a full-fledged movie review - and that day has not yet come - you'll know it; for now, I prefer these discussions to be a team effort among an intelligent, diverse group of movie lovers, hopefully flushing out some interesting and educational things about the films working together as a group. This type of approach could only work if this website was going to be around for the long haul - which it is. If the next commentary about this film comes two years from now, then so be it - we have all the time in the world, or, at least until humanity no longer exists. What I fear the most (and this relates to the film) is that, 100 years from now, inexpensive, devastatingly destructive technology will be available to anyone who wants it, so we, as a species, had better damned sight learn to start loving one-another; otherwise, there won't be anyone left to love, or to hate. Apr, 2013 - "The Legend of Chris Kyle" by Michael J. Mooney on dmagazine.com
  19. Here is why people will *always* object to the CFB system. (Note: This is *not* a pro- or anti-CFB posting; it's merely an observation of the way things are.) The reason the CFB formed was (in theory (see below)) to determine a "legitimate" National Champion via meritocracy, i.e., a playoff, rather than the whims of a coaches' poll. Yet, the CFB Poll *is* a poll, just as subject to whims and prejudices as any other poll. And it's a legitimate point that the Power Five consists of 5 conferences; not 4 - so say many critics of the current CFB system without a wild-card game for the 5th conference (however, ten years from now there might be a "Power 3," or a "Power 6," or whatever). But the CFB wasn't developed to determine the #4 team in the country; it was developed to determine the #1 team in the country. Regardless of whether there are 4 teams, or 64 teams, there will *always* be controversy about who gets in at the bottom. Imagine: "It's ridiculous that TCU, at 6-5, didn't make the 64-team playoff this year!" But there is a lot less controversy now about whether or not the "best" team gets in: They will, nearly 100% of the time. And if you expand the playoff to any more than 2 games, there's always the risk of injury, or some ridiculous upset - it's nearly impossible to go undefeated in college football, or any other level of football. Alabama was, without any question, the best team in college football this season. And they're in the playoff - they deserve to be ranked #1; they don't deserve to need to beat 5-more great teams in order to prove it - 2 is more than enough ... in fact, it might be 2 too many. But, as MLB got diluted in 1969 with Division champions vying for League championships, the best team over the course of 162 games now had to prove it again in the playoffs - instead of "The World Series," there were now multiple series that needed to be won. Why did they do this? Because of money, of course (the exact same reason they developed the CFB Playoffs). In baseball, the best, purest championship would come from all the teams being thrown together into one pot, and letting the entire course of the regular season determine the champion. But that wouldn't provide any thrills (or dollars), so in 1903, The World Series began (1 post-season series), in 1969, the League Championships began (3 post-season series), in 1994, the three-division format began (5 post-season series), and in 2012, the wild-card team was added (7 post-season series). It kept getting harder-and-harder for the "best" team to actually be the champion. Just like the first three Super Bowls, which featured the NFL Champion vs. the AFL Champion, MLB was fascinating up until 1997, because no inter-league play occurred during the regular season, and The World Series was like "Earth vs. Mars" - you might see two teams play only once during your lifetime. Yes, frustrating, but also fascinating when it happened, and a truly wondrous occasion that provided for unbelievable rivalries (think of the Yankees vs. the Dodgers, Cardinals, Giants, or Pirates - there was always that "monster in The Bronx" that the NL Champion would need to defeat in order to become world champion. College Football is merely following in the NFL's footsteps. Unlike baseball, football is so physically taxing that they cannot have a lot of playoff games, or people will get injured. --- Here is a *perfect* example of what I'm talking about. "Increase the College Football Playoff to Eight Teams. Lose Conference Title Games." by Des Bieler on washingtonpost.com Before I read this article, I never knew there was an "urgent reason" the CFB needs to expand from 4 to 8 teams.
  20. Robin Williams is one of those people you just think will never die, and when it happens, it's unimaginable. Here's a little tribute to a touching scene of his from Good Will Hunting, for which he won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor in 1997. He was also nominated for Best Actor three times (!), won two Emmy Awards, four Golden Globes, two Screen Actors Guild Awards, and five Grammy Awards. That, my friends, is a career. --- On a personal note, I wish to express my sorrow about my friend from college, Dee Hunter, whose passing I also found out about today. Dee was one of the nicest people I've ever known. You probably can't see that link - which is his Facebook page - but I wrote this there earlier today:
  21. The great Magical Realism author Gabriel Garcia Márquez died today at age 87. He is one of the few authors that wrote a passage so strong, that I remember where I was when I read it. Márquez is one of my primary influencers as a writer, although I shouldn't call myself a "writer" in the same sentence with his name. From "One Hundred Years Of Solitude," at the moment when José Arcadio Buendí­a, son of Úrsula Iguarán, dies from a mysterious gunshot wound: "A trickle of blood came out under the door, crossed the living room, went out into the street, continued on in a straight line across the uneven terraces, went down steps and climbed over curbs, passed along the Street of the Turks, turned a corner to the right and another to the left, made a right angle at the Buendí­a's house, went in under the closed door, crossed through the parlor, hugging the walls so as not to stain the rugs, went on to the other living room, made a wide curve to avoid the dining-room table, went along the porch with the begonias, and passed without being seen under Amaranta's chair as she gave an arithmetic lesson to Aureliano José, and went through the pantry and came out in the kitchen, where Ürsula was getting ready to crack thirty-six eggs to make bread. "Holy Mother of God!" Ürsula shouted." From this passage alone, the reader knew, beyond any doubt, that Ürsula was fully aware it was her son that died. This may be his most famous passage, and "One Hundred Years Of Solitude" is required reading, but it does Márquez a great injustice not to explore him in much greater depth. The short story, for example, "The Incredible and Sad Tale Of Innocent Erendira and Her Heartless Grandmother," found here, can be read in one evening, and is every bit as profound (in Spanish, "Innocent Eréndira" is written as "Cándida Eréndira," and the story is a riff on Candide by Voltaire). I wrote a passage from it the first night I ever met Chris Cunningham.
  22. "The Babadook" has received near-universal acclaim. While I grant that it's scary as hell, I'm also going to venture into the heretical by saying that it's overrated (being "overrated" doesn't mean it's not a terrific film; it just means it's overrated). That said, the two principal actors, Essie Davis and Noah Wiseman, are fantastic - just about perfect in their roles - and writer-director Jennifer Kent is surely a name to remember going forward. A fusion of "Rosemary's Baby," "The Sixth Sense," "The Exorcist," "Halloween," "The Gashlycrumb Tinies," "The Shining," "The Thing," and "Poltergeist," my primary beef with The Babadook is that it's a "best of" melange from all (no, really: ALL) of those films, without any truly original ideas - it's this reason, plus the ending (which simply doesn't work for me), that make me say critics are being too hasty in doling out their unchecked praise. When you finish watching it, go back over my list of films here, and think about how it was influenced by each and every one of them in terms of thematics (instead of "Poltergeist," to take one example, I could have listed any of twenty haunted-house movies, but there's at least one "trait" from each of these films that is strongly represented in "The Babadook" - it's like a highlight reel of horror). If you like a good, intelligent scare (but don't enjoy body horror or gratuitous violence, because this has relatively little of those), "The Babadook" is a good choice for you - I found it on Netflix, and it's apparently elsewhere as well. And definitely don't let my "overrated" comment mislead you - I absolutely recommend this film. William Friedkin, director of "The Exorcist," wrote, "I've never seen a more terrifying film than 'The Babadook.'" "The Babadook" on rottentomatoes.com "'The Babadook': The Scariest Movie of 2014 is Now on Netflix" by Olivia Armstrong on decider.com "On "The Babadook," "It Follows," and the New Age of Unbeatable Horror" by Noel Murray on avclub.com
  23. I know next to nothing about German wines. MacArthur sells Rieslings from two different German producers both named Schaeffer. Is this the one you mean?
  24. I saw "Selma" for the first time this evening, and while I'm glad I saw it, and feel that I'm a better person for having done so (how many of us are truly familiar with the non-fictional story?), I can only say "very good" and not "great" as a motion picture - perhaps mainly due to casting problems, and perhaps mainly due to my personal prejudices in getting over them. Tim Roth as Governor George C. Wallace? Tom Wilkinson as President Lyndon Baines Johnson? And worst of all, Dylan Baker as J. Edgar Hoover? I don't see any of them. That said, Carmen Ejogo was a physical dead-ringer for Coretta Scott King - I felt as if I was actually watching Mrs. King herself! (I know physical perfection doesn't a good role make; this is more of a side comment.) David Oyelowo played a very humanized, non-legendary Martin Luther King, Jr., and (if I may borrow a phrase I read) pulled him back from the statues, into the human race. He was flawed, self-doubting, and I loved the humanity in his role. It's late at night, I've already slept a couple of hours, and am not up to full reviewing-mode right now, but I'm really hoping people will chime in with some opinions about this recent movie, good, bad, and everything in-between. I'd like to read your thoughts, all of your thoughts. Has anyone else seen this? This was worthy of (and certainly designed for) being nominated as 1 of 8 nominees for Outstanding Picture at the 87th Academy Awards - one of these days I'll mature enough not to use the Academy Awards (or, for that matter, the Beard Awards), as any sort of benchmark, I promise you, but there's just no doubting that they're the highest honor, at least for Hollywood, and this picture had "Hollywood" written all over it. I love film, and want to watch every good movie ever made. My father, as he got older, became quite an expert, and I hope to follow in his footsteps; I doubt I'll ever match his accomplishments, but I hope to have fun trying.
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