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Found 13 results

  1. "7:19" is a dramatic tale of survival in the 1985 Mexico City earthquake (which happened at 7:19 AM). One little flaw I noticed is that, when an earthquake happens, everyone pretty much notices it at the same time (I was in the 2011 earthquake here while in *Reagan Airport* - small items were falling from the rafters ... that was a tense couple of minutes. Anyway, three people are talking, and they're slightly out-of-sync when the earthquake starts - these pictures are a total of only about three-seconds apart, so it isn't noticeable except in slow-motion, and yes, it's a nit-picky detail, but they definitely notice something is wrong, one person at a time: 1:25:43 - The pleasant chat 1:25:41 - The man says goodbye, and the older woman notices. 1:25:40 - The man now notices, and calmly says, "Oh, dear!" 1:25:39 - The man calmly adds, "It's an earthquake" as the younger woman looks like she's about to throw up. If you scroll through the four pictures quickly while looking at the younger girl, it's actually pretty funny. I'm quite pleased to add that I saw the 1974 film, "Earthquake," on release, in Sensurround. --- ETA - I suggest thinking twice about seeing this film, as it is one of the grimmest motion pictures I have ever experienced. It's an excellent movie, but you really need to be in the proper frame of mind if you choose to see it - it's something akin to visiting the Holocaust Museum.
  2. The promo for the series "Feud: Bette and Joan" caught my eye, having recently watched "Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?", and reading about the rivalry between its two stars, Joan Crawford and Bette Davis. Usually by the time I hear about a series it is several seasons in, requiring binge watching to catch up. Fortunately, this one just premiered last month, so I was able to catch the first episode the night it aired. As expected, the show is campy fun. There are some big names, too. Stanley Tucci, Jessica Lange and Susan Sarandon are a few of the stars. Lange is completely transformed into Crawford. I didn't have the same feeling with Sarandon. She does have Bette Davis eyes, but watching Sarandon portray Davis, I was constantly aware I was watching Sarandon. Perhaps it is because her looks weren't as dramatically transformed as her co-star's. In the fourth episode, a reference is made to "Kiss Me Deadly," another 1950s era film that I recently watched which is also reviewed on this site. It is still too early to tell if this show will be worth watching, but I am giving it a shot because who doesn't enjoy a little retro camp from time to time?
  3. I'm pretty ignorant when it comes to history outside of China, U.S.A. and Europe. For example, I knew nothing about how India and Pakistan came about, and how much pain and suffering came with the birth of these nations. I probably would've never have known but for The Viceroy's House, which is not a documentary, but a historical fiction wrapped around a love story. All I can say is it poignantly portrays the difficulty with dividing a subcontinent and its people between two countries. Sadly, it's another case of the same people divided by religion. I give it two thumbs up (not for accuracy but human interest). It's available on Neflix for streaming. Not too long, and well paced. My eyes were glued to the screen when I'm not refilling my wine or peeing.
  4. "Kings and Queens of England & Britain" by Ben Johnson on historic-uk.com The above is a useful historic guideline for the film, especially the part at the end dealing with the House of Windsor, which was formed in 1917. In fact, you can look forward to 100th-anniversary events being publicized for this coming July 17th. Before I get to the spoilers, let me say that I found the first 15 minutes of this film intensely boring; now, 30 minutes in, it seems to have blossomed, and has become very enjoyable to watch. If you find it tedious in the beginning, push through, and I suspect you'll be rewarded (again, I'm only 30 minutes into the movie as I type this, so I can't be sure, but it did win an Academy Award for Best Picture, which is worth something). *** SPOILER ALERT *** (Do not read if you're going to see the film) Near the beginning of "The King's Speech," speech therapist (and amateur actor) Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush) is auditioning for Shakespeare's Richard III by reading the "Now is the winter of our discontent" speech, those lines followed by, "made glorious summer by this sun of York ...." To me, this is an obvious quibble on "son of York," as the future King George VI (Colin Firth)- his soon-to-be patient with the stuttering problem - currently holds the title Duke of York (which is given to the second-born son of the current King). The closeness of "sun of York" and "son (or Duke) of York" is too much for simple coincidence - this was a clever piece of dialogue that probably went mostly unnoticed. Needless to say, there's also an obvious parallel between the kyphosis of Richard III and the stuttering of the Duke of York. About 40 minutes in, it's clear George V (Michel Gambon) is near death, and he "signs his duties" away for others to execute. A couple interesting facts about the death of George V: 1) In 1986 (fifty years after the death), his physician's private diary was unsealed, and it turns out George V was euthanized with lethal doses of morphine and cocaine - this was known to absolutely nobody for fifty years, and 2) the morning after George V's death, the great German composer Paul Hindemith (a name very well-known in classical music circles) composed Trauermusik ("Mourning Music") in just six hours, and the piece was played on the BBC radio network that same evening. Wow, when you first see Winston Churchill (Timothy Spall) at the party, it seems *just* like Winston Churchill - until he turns around and you see his face. You won't recognize this, but Spall played Beadle Bamford in the film of "Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street." This film makes a wonderful history lesson regarding the 20th-century English monarchy. However, it is painted accurately only in broad brush strokes. For example, in real life (not in the film), Churchill was a staunch supporter of King Edward VIII (Guy Pearce), and urged him not to abdicate the throne. A memorable quote, made during a conversation between King George V's sons, shortly after his death, and the ascension of David as King Edward VIII: Duke of York: "David, I've been trying to see you." King Edward VIII: "I've been terribly busy." Duke of York: "Doing what?" King Edward VIII: "Kinging." *Damn* Derek Jacobi is a good actor. Oh my goodness, the King is about to give his war speech, and they've chosen to play the 2nd movement of Beethoven's 7th Symphony as background music. I'm not going to denigrate this work by telling you what other movie it was played in, but I will say that this is one of the greatest movements ever written in the history of classical-romantic music, and very fitting for such a grave occasion. What's interesting is that they played the opening chord twice (when it's only supposed to be played once), imitating a stutter. Also, how ironic is it that Beethoven was born in Bonn, Germany? And for the duration of the speech, Lionel Logue was quite literally conducting King George VI - that was not coincidence. And how wonderful that the closing music is the most famous piece for clarinet ever written, the Mozart Concerto.
  5. Towards the beginning of "Argo," they showed some American churches, businesses, etc. with "Free the Hostages" signs - despite the Iranian embassy being stormed in 1979, one of the buildings depicted is still open - it's right across Chain Bridge Road from what is now Santini's (formerly Boston Market). The first picture is from the film; the second picture is from Google Maps. It's also amazing (and not coincidental) that when Tony Mendez (Ben Affleck) first enters the CIA Headquarters in Langley, he's actually entering the CIA Headquarters in Langley (just a couple miles from McLean Cleaners) - this is the first time I've ever seen any pictures of the Headquarters (which is way back from the street), and apparently, special access was granted entirely due to honoring Tony Mendez (you should read about him on Wikipedia). *** SPOILERS FOLLOW *** I had never heard of the Canadian Caper before reading about Mendez on Wikipedia, which is pretty pathetic, because 1979 is the year I graduated from high school - I guess I was more worried about college life, and the Iranian hostage crisis was only on my mind as much as the television allowed it to be. From my viewpoint, 38 years later? This was an act of war on the part of the Iranian people, period - embassies are designated as foreign countries, and the safe harbor which comes from being within those countries' borders - these Iranians invaded the United States the moment they broke into the embassy - tell me where I'm wrong, please. In the distant future, Rodney King will be remembered as a hero, for his words, "Can we all get along?" They mean more than any crime he ever committed, and he will be regarded as a role model. Within five seconds of first seeing John Chambers (John Goodman), an homage is made to "The Blues Brothers." And it's very, very funny that the name of the movie ("Argo") comes from a crude knock-knock joke. This, for an Oscar-caliber film: 'Knock-knock.' "Who's there?" "Argo." "Argo who?" "Ar Go fuck yourself." What I can't understand is why, when Mendez first meets the six hostages at the Canadian Embassy, he would assume the room *isn't* bugged. I mean, come on ...
  6. "Broken Arrow" (1950) is Director Delmer Daves' Western in Technicolor, Starring James Stewart as Tom Jeffords and Jeff Chandler as Cochise, the Chief of the Chokonen Band of the Chiricahua Apache Tribe. Though clearly Hollywood-ized, it's also based on a true story, and if the viewer is willing to do some digging, can learn quite a bit from it. I have mixed feelings about watching old Hollywood Westerns for obvious reasons, but for me it's easy, because I generally pull for the Native Americans, and look at any type of "loss" as a tragic element - plus, I learn something, no matter how small, from each film I watch: I know less about Native American history than I do just about anything, and I'm well-aware that these "red-face" movies are filtered through the prejudiced eyes of Hollywood and America, so I adjust accordingly, and invariably walk away more educated. I did not know, for example, exactly where the Chircahua Apaches were based, and that led me to an article entitled "Apache Wars" on wikipedia.com - that's just one example. Not to mention that if you come across a decent one, these movies are action-packed and (dare I say it?) just plain fun. James Stewart played a wonderful character in Broken Arrow, and for someone not to see it just because they were "anti-Native American movies" would be a loss. Stewart plays an ex-Union soldier, Tom Jeffords, who was prospecting for gold before a new Colonel rode into Tuscon to see him. The Apaches were attacking the Pony Express, and Stewart volunteered to go meet with the Apache equivalent of Keyser Söze, Cochise. After Stewart assured Cochise that the Pony Express contained no messages of war (whch were all sent by telegraph), Cochise promised not to attack the carriers, and he kept to his word. Milt Duffield, mail superindendent (Arthur Hunnicut) is the only man courageous enough to test Cochise's promise not to attack mail delivery, and when he returns unscathed, gets a hearty ovation from the townspeople. Incidentally, you might recognize Hunnicutt from one of our favorite Twilight Zone episodes, "The Hunt." Stewart had earlier saved a 14-year-old Apache boy - whose brother and sister were both killed - from dying of thirst, and Cochise returned the favor both by letting him go earlier in the film, and by keeping his promise about the Pony Express - this can easily be seen as a metaphor for larger situations in life. Ben Slade (Will Geer) doesn't understand why Jeffords didn't kill the 14-year-old boy, and is suspicious enough to lead an attempt to *hang* Jeffords after the fifth mail rider returns unscathed - Slade convinced people that Jeffords was spying for Cochise. Not only that, but Duffield, the mail supervisor, thinks Jeffords is daft for wanting to learn to speak Apache - Jeffords wants to meet with Cochise on his own turf, and figures knowing some Apache is the best way to make entry (not to mention the fact that he has fallen *very* deeply in love with an Indian maiden). However, Cochise in no way agreed to end the war - when white soldiers weren't killed in raids, they were tortured to death in unspeakable ways: Of three wounded soldiers, two were suspended from a tree branch while an Apache shot the trunk with a burning arrow, allowing the flames to slowly expand outward, and the third had it even worse: He was buried up to his neck, and his face was smeared with Mezcal juice so the ants would slowly eat his face off. None of this was graphic, of course (it was 1950), but just thinking about it is enough to give anyone the shivers. "They say that cat Cochise is a bad motha-f ..." "Shut yo mouth!" (Name the song! Hint: It's what Native Americans got in this country.) Sonseeahray ("Morning Star," played by Debra Paget), a fictional character - note the pronunciation: "Sun, see a ray" - is experiencing a holy ("coming-of-age") ceremony, and blesses Jeffords' old, wounded arm, saying that it will never hurt again. Jeffords' arm has been a source of constant pain, and this young, beautiful girl looking after him goes straight to his heart. There is a genuinely tender, albeit dated, moment when Jeffords falls in love with Sonseeahray - there is absolutely *nothing* sexual about this (at first); he simply realizes, after seeing her for the second time, and still having strong feelings for her, that he has fallen in love for the first time in his life - this may seem "awkward" to today's woman - a man in his 40's falling in love with a young maiden who probably just turned 15, but it works here, and I found it incredibly touching because Jeffords makes no attempt at physical contact; he merely tells Sonseeahray that, for the first time in his life, he's going to miss somebody. And, because the mail is getting through, but an entire wagon train was slaughtered, Jeffords is - as mentioned above - accused of being Cochise's spy: No good deed goes unpunished. The townsmen, with their mob mentality, go so far as to drag Jeffords out of a bar, string a rope up, and prepare for a public hanging (think: "The Monsters are Due on Maple Street"). This is big-deal stuff - just as Jeffords is about to be hanged, a General (a full-fledged General - Oliver Otis Howard (Cochise is mentioned on his Wikipedia page), known as "The Christian General," and played by Basil Ruysdael) arrives - yes, yes, I know, yet another Deus ex Machina - pulls Jeffords into his office, and tells him that he has authority from President Ulysses S. Grant to make a peace treaty with Cochise. I mean, that is pretty bad-ass, especially considering that the gist of the story is true. Could it be, that Geronimo, whom we *all* know of, but none of us know anything about, is *the* Geronimo who "walks away" in this film? My initial impression, upon seeing the moment, is, 'Yes, he is.' I don't know enough about Geronimo to say for sure, but if he was any type of Apache split-off, then this was most likely him, lending even more historical significance to what is already a great movie. Damn I wish I had been sober enough to remember how it ended. In all seriousness, this is an excellent movie - I have been choosing particularly well of late. If you're in the mood for an action-packed Western, with plot, seriousness, historical importance, and great depth and substance, this would be a good film for you to choose. Pathetically, screenwriter Alfred Maltz was blacklisted as one of the Hollywood Ten. Hey, if being a commie means I can write this well, color me red any day of the week. Here is an excellent review: Oct 9, 2010 - "Groundbreaking Western" by James Hitchcock on imdb.com
  7. *** SPOILERS FOLLOW *** The only thing I'd ever seen about "Chariots of Fire" is the opening song, the run along the beach (both of which take place at the very beginning of the film), and parodies thereof - it was hard not to be roused by the classic combination, worn out though it may be. I didn't realize the film took place in 1924; I thought it was a World War II movie - I know virtually nothing about it, so I'm looking forward to it very much. Okay, 25-minutes in, I'm a "wee bit" worried that this is going to be a "message movie" (the message of brotherhood), but I'm banking on the Best Picture win to ensure it isn't nauseating - anything that beats out "Raiders of the Lost Ark" must be great, right? Right? So far it's shaping up to be a classic human drama - Christian vs. Jew, for lack of a more elegant phrase. I'd say this is around the time of "feel-good" movies, but "Ordinary People" won the award the year before, so that theory is instantly dispelled. When Scotland was racing France in the quarter-mile, the maggot who pushed Eric Liddell (Ian Charleson) off the track, never got another camera shot (I rewound the film to check (*)). Yes, Harold Abrahams' (Ben Cross) clutching of the paper when Liddell got back up to chase down his unethical foe was quite touching - go ahead, call me a softie. (*) Oh yes he did! About twenty minutes later, when he gave Abrahams (not Liddell) an "eat shit" look in the locker room. My only question at this point is that Liddell seems to be a middle-distance runner, whereas Abrahams seems to be an all-out sprinter, so how can they compete against each other? Or, is that not where the film is heading? Whoa! A middle-distance runner beat Abrahams in a sprint the first time they meet? Abrahams has every right to be upset - wow, I wasn't expecting that. That girl (the actress) telling him he was acting like a child, and that he was "marvelous" has absolutely *no clue* what it's like to be an athlete who loses. Seeing the transportation from various countries coming towards this 1924 Olympics - countries had to have *money*, serious money, to just *get to the games*. Forget hosting; I'm talking about just getting there - it's remarkable, coming over by slow boat, slightly post-WWI. The Olympics are high-dollar entertainment, especially now, and that's why poor countries just simply cannot compete (unless, of course, they're genetically superior athletes, such as Kenyan marathoners (forgive the stereotype, but it's true)). This makes me realize that the Olympics was, is, and probably always will be, games for the rich, or at least for countries who are so proud that they pour money into making a good showing. In a way it's quite sad; in a way, it's harsh reality. "The Skaters' Waltz" shows up here numerous times. Did you know that this is *not* by Johann Strauss I? No, it's by the relatively unknown French composer, Émile Waldteufel - isn't that amazing? Ask most classical music aficionados this question, and they'll have no idea what the answer is.The piece is called "The Ice Skaters" (<<Les Patineurs Valse>>) and was composed in 1882, fully fifty years after the heyday of Strauss I (I keep saying "Strauss I" because he also had a son who was "Strauss II." In case you think I'm some Classical Music know-it-all who knew this ... I, too, thought it was composed by Johann Strauss I. There's a lot - a *lot* - about this movie that drags, to the point where I'm surprised it won the Academy Award, but the moment of tension during the start of the 100-meter finals was palpable - the way they dragged out the beginning.really gave everything a "nervous' feeling. I wonder how many people realize that Director Hugh Hudson paid homage - and I mean *direct* homage* - to "Ocean's 11" at the very end of "Chariots of Fire." It was every bit as remarkable (and every bit as obvious) as Martin Scorsese paying homage to "The Great Train Robbery" at the very end of "Goodfellas." This was not quite a much of a "message" movie as I feared it would be, but there was certainly that aspect to it, and quite frankly, that's probably what won it the Best Picture award. "Chariots of Fire" was a very good movie, and I'm willing to say it was a great movie, but it was absolutely *not* the Best Picture of the year - for starters, "Raiders of the Lost Ark" was better in every way except for pensive introspection. For those who disagree, I consider "Raiders" to be a classic in the same vein as "The Wizard of Oz," "Star Wars," and "Gone with the Wind" - in other words, it wasn't just "Best Picture" material, but it was one of the greatest motion pictures ever made - an absolute legendary classic which could rightfully be on anyone's Top 10 list. "Das Boot" was better, too, but that's at least debatable. Still, I'm really glad I saw "Chariots of Fire," because I was both entertained and intellectually enriched from the experience - it's worth seeing, and it's something even more than that. Here is the actual video of Eric Liddell winning the 400 meter race.
  8. 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.
  9. It's amazing how little I know about Malcolm X, considering how concerned I am about civil rights, and how ticked off I am at my forefathers for the crimes against humanity they committed. I've never read "The Autobiography of Malcolm X," and don't have time to do it right now, so I figured this was a good, next-best thing, although being filtered through the lens of Spike Lee - who, as much as I like him, clearly has an agenda - you really don't know if you're getting the genuine product. It is with that large grain of salt in mind that I begin Lee's 1992 film, "Malcolm X." "Conk" is a word that was entirely unfamiliar to me, but is apparently going to play a substantial role in this movie (a "conk" is the straightening of a black man's hair using a lye-based product - think of James Brown as an example). Our first scene with Malcolm Little (the given name of Malcolm X) features Denzel Washington getting conked in a barber shop in WWII-era Boston. Oh my goodness, I just now noticed this movie is 3:15 long! *** WARNING: SPOILERS FOLLOW *** This is going to be a controversial statement, but it's something that has weighed on me for a long time - and when I say "a long time," I mean for years and years. When Malcolm (still Malcolm Little at this point) gets out of solitary confinement, he's conking in the shower (get your minds out of the gutter, and see above for the definition of "conk"), and Baines (Albert Hall) berates Little - as well as every other black man "on the outside" - for conking, because, he said, it meant they were trying to not be black, i.e., they were ashamed of what they really were. I absolutely believe conking was an attempt to be "as white as possible," but that's not the controversial statement. Okay, here goes, and I'm taking a big risk in saying this ... It's time for Jewish actors and actresses to *stop using non-Jewish-sounding names*. I understand that they needed to do this, fifty, seventy-five years ago, and perhaps they still do, but it saddens my heart that Jon Liebowitz and Winona Horowitz had to change their last names to Stewart and Ryder, just because they didn't want to be perceived as being Jewish. That Joan Perske needed to be Lauren Bacall. and that Larry Leach needed to be Cary Grant. Bernie Schwartz needed to be Tony Curtis. Frances Gumm needed to be Judy Garland. Walter Matuschanskayasky needed to be Walter Matthau. (Okay, I'll let that one slide.) Charles Buchinsky needed to be Charles Bronson. Joan Molinsky needed to be Joan Rivers. Jerome Silberman needed to be Gene Wilder. David Kominsky needed to be Danny Kaye. Emanuel Goldenberg needed to be Edward G. Robinson. Ethel Zimmerman needed to be Ethel Merman. Chaim Liebovitz needed to be Lorne Greene. Esther Friedman needed to be Ann Landers. Irwin Kniberg needed to be Alan King. Joseph Levitch needed to be Jerry Lewis. Isadore Demsky needed to be Kirk Douglas. Melvin Kaminsky needed to be Mel Brooks. This list goes on, and on, and on, and on - I could spend hours writing a list of hundreds of names with whom you'd all be familiar, but you can research this yourselves on the internet. You know who has balls? This guy. Someone once asked him, "Is Goldberg your real name?" He said, "No, my real name is Killer, but I wanted a much more menacing name, so I picked Goldberg." I get it - it's not Jewish people's problem; it's *non*-Jewish people's problem - and instead of minimizing their chances of being lynched, they're maximizing their chances of being famous - but it all still boils down to the same fetid pot of shit that's more commonly known as prejudice. Back to the feature. I always said that, were I black and alive during the 50s and 60s, I would make Malcolm X look like Santa Claus; now that I've seen this portrayal of him (and I'm assuming it's reasonably accurate, if perhaps a bit whitewashed), I don't think that's true because X's message was plenty powerful - X was the bad cop to King's good cop, and when confronted with a bad and a good cop, someone being interrogated is *always* going to gravitate towards the good cop, and that's why King is so universally revered: He was less of a threat to us, so we accepted him as the lesser of two evils, and made him a national hero, while X is relegated to mere footnotes in history books relative to King. Think otherwise? Do we celebrate Malcolm X's birthday? Do you even know what year X was assassinated in? (Think about that one for a minute.) We should, because we needed X for King to succeed. This is something I've always thought, and this biography has done nothing to convince me otherwise. X is right: The white man *was* the devil. They enslaved an *entire race* of people for 400 years - how can they *not* be construed as pure evil by the black man? How can you blame the black man for coming up with *their own* religions and thought processes? The white ones weren't working for them in the least, and I think X is every bit the national hero that King is. That might piss some people off, but it's what I think and I don't care. I don't agree with everything X said or preached - not by a long shot - but I agree that he was necessary, and he was one hell of a catalyst for the civil rights movement in this country because he *scared the shit out of the white man* - and I think that's just awesome. Think we have equality now? I didn't even know Angela Bassett was portraying X's wife (what was her name again?) - I recognized Bassett's name, but I didn't even know what she looked like. I guarantee I would have recognized Meryl Streep or Glenn Close, but not Angela Bassett? Why not? I'll let you decide for yourselves why not. You know, the fact that I haven't said a single thing about the movie, says quite a bit about the movie. I'm now 2:15 into a 3:15 movie - with just an hour left, I feel like I'm watching an honest-to-goodness story of this man's life (which, I suppose, it's supposed to be). I feel like I "know" Malcolm X (which also probably means it's a well-done piece of movie-making - in reality, I know virtually (get it? @reallyvirtual?) nothing about Malcolm X). But two+ hours in, I don't feel like this film is dragging at all, or boring in any way - I've watched it over a couple of days, just because I have the attention span of a gnat, but while not exactly "action-packed," it's quite an enlightening piece of entertainment, and it makes me *think* that I'm learning something about the man. Again, I have to tell myself that this is all being filtered through the lens of Spike Lee, he of The Spike Lee Store - capitalizing off the white devil. You can't have it both ways, Mr. Lee, although you come about as close as possible. The scene with the eager white girl - the college student - approaching X and asking him what she can do to help his cause, before he casually replies, "Nothing," and walks away, is a personality trait that I would find repulsive, although it was probably a necessary character flaw - he either believed in his methodology all-the-way, or he wouldn't have believed in it at all - this scene makes that painfully clear. I'm not sure how I would have reacted to that at the time, but looking back, seeing the big picture, I understand. This was something that black people had to do for themselves, without any help from anybody else. Again, this made MLK one heck of a lot easier to swallow for a lot of white people - he was the lesser of two "evils." It's true. It wasn't *actually* true, but in the white man's mind, it was true. The one-on-one scene with X and Baines - the one about wealth - was riveting dialog. The foibles of greed and lust are human foibles; not black foibles or white foibles - I hold absolutely no disregard for anyone wishing to advance their position in life, or for having a sex drive; it's the hypocrisy that grates me. Don't preach abstinence if you're going to be a philanderer; don't preach honesty if you're going to be a thief. Here, I'm talking about the avarice of Baines; not anything in particular about X. In general (and this is purely personal philosophy; not some sort of universal truth), I have problems with greed more than I do lust, as lust is a basic human drive that cannot be contained; greed requires time to calculate and think, and is therefore the greater of the two sins. And there's nothing wrong with the desire for wealth, but everything must be done in moderation, and those who would purposefully trample on the backs of the needy to acquire wealth are some of the greatest sinners of all. I really thought - up until this moment - that Elijah Muhammad (born Elijah Poole in Sandersville, GA, and played by Al Freeman, Jr.) was part Indian, but apparently not. As little as I knew (or know) about X, I know even less about Muhammad. He certainly comes across as a Gandhi-type figure in this film, but I've heard (and I don't know from where) that he had something of "a past," just as X did. Of course, who doesn't? Wow, the "Chickens coming home to roost" comment was a bit much, even for me. I understand it's merely an extension of what he said to that white college girl, but this really strikes close to the bone. I did not know X said this, and if this transpired in the way the movie portrayed, I condemn it in the strongest possible terms. However, like the rest of us, X merely needed to travel in order to grow up - as soon as he went abroad, he realized that the white man was *not* the devil; when a red-headed person spends their entire life trapped in a cell, and all they see is another red-headed person who brings them their food and water, every day, for their entire life, they will naturally think that all people have red hair. Travel forces you to expand your horizons, both literally and figuratively - my first trip to Europe in 1989 changed my life; I'm waiting for it to change more with trips to other continents - I have only visited two, so how could I possibly say that I have wisdom? Intelligence, yes. Education, yes. Wisdom? Many would say yes because of all the suffering I've been forced to endure; I say no, for I have not seen the world. This has nothing to do with the movie, other than the fact that it was in it - it's such a beautiful, important picture: It's interesting that in his letter to his wife from Egypt, X (or Denzel Washington), says, aloud, "I am not a racist, and I do not subscribe to the tenets of racism," and pronounced "tenets" as "tenants." Was this scripted? Or is this how Washington speaks, and it slipped past the editors? I *love* the subtle smile X shows his assassin, the moment the trigger is about to be pulled - he knew it was when and not if: And how do you not love this picture? Without spoiling the ending of the movie with a photo, let me just say that it was awesome, as was the film as a whole - I always thought "Do The Right Thing" was Spike Lee's best picture, but this is at another level.
  10. In my ongoing quest to watch some of the 2015 Best Picture Nominees, I watched "Bridge of Spies," Steven Spielberg's historical drama about Rudolf Abel, Francis Gary Powers, Frederick Pryor, and James B. Donovan and the role he played in negotiating the prisoner exchange. Out of the four nominees I've seen, this would be the one most likely to get my vote, although not by much - they've all been quite good; none of them are what I would classify as great - in my mind, this has shaped out to be a pretty weak year for nominees. Still, I really enjoyed "Bridge of Spies," and Tom Hanks was terrific in his role as Donovan, as was Mark Rylance in his role as Abel - Rylance's was the type of screen presence that stays with you for years, and from what I can tell so far, he was fully justified in winning his Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. It's interesting that three of the four nominees I've seen so far have been historical dramas (the other being "The Martian"), and with so many historical dramas on the nominee list, it's somewhat surprising that one of them won, as one might figure the vote would be split between them, and that something completely different (like "The Martian") could walk in and steal the award. I also had no idea this was a Spielberg film until the end. We have several "Spotlight" fans here, and the reason I personally preferred "Bridge of Spies" (although on another day, I could change my mind the other way), was because, not only was it not overplayed, but it also had a tiny bit of that Hollywood "oomph" that I enjoy as escapism - it wasn't at "The Martian" level of escapism; here, it was just a seasoning.
  11. 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.
  12. This is an email I sent to two of my friends last night: --- Okay, first let me get this out of the way: Amadeus was released when I was 23, and only just learning about the fine arts. I *LOVED* it. ... HOWEVER. Have either of you seen the Director's Cut?! OH. MY. GOD. If you haven't, do. It's 20 minutes longer (over 3 hours long), and contains a scene so shocking that my jaw dropped. What's *really* cool is that I've only seen the film once (29 years ago), and I recognize every single scene that wasn't in the original. 'I've *never* seen this before,' I say to myself. Even a brief 3-4 second scene at the beginning when they're rushing Salieri to the hospital is new - I'm sure it is. (*) But this one scene? OH. MY. GOD. It changes the entire movie. --- (*) I shouldn't have been so sure about that opening scene because I checked, and it's in both cuts. "Often wrong; never in doubt," Rocks.
  13. When I was young, I saw Roots (1977) and Holocaust (1978), and they were both very hard on me, nearly impossible to finish. But I don't think any film or series has been more difficult for me to watch than 12 Years A Slave (2013). It took me two days to get through it, and I'm surprised I did (I simply cannot watch people being tortured, even if it's "just a movie.") SPOILERS Perhaps the most amazing thing about this film is that, for a couple of hours, it made *me* a slave. From the time Solomon Northup woke up in chains, up until the time when I was mercifully allowed to see Brad Pitt (a character who I've never been so relieved to see in a movie), I was immersed in sheer Hell. It was as close to a visceral reaction as I've ever had from a film. This movie is tough, tough going, and spares nothing in terms of brutality. I have never wanted to jump through a movie screen, and choke the living shit out of people, as much as I wanted to with 12 Years A Slave. I once asked a friend of mine if he watched Shoah. "Yes, I watched the whole thing because I promised myself I would," he said. This is sort of like that - if you want movie-watching pleasure, steer well-clear of 12 Years A Slave, but if you're looking to examine things in this world, you owe it to about twelve-million people to suffer through, and suffer you will. Some quotes that resonate with me: "It's a film made for a mass audience, but it doesn't want them to feel comfortable for a second." -- Tom Huddleston, TimeOut.com "It's the unhappiest happy ending I've ever seen ...." -- Dana Stevens, Slate.com "It is a film that necessity and education demand seeing." -- David Thompson, The New Republic "I've never seen a sequence [referring to the extended hanging punishment scene] that so elegantly uses duration to lay out an ecosystem of power and powerlessness ...." -- Wesley Morris, Grantland.com "Indeed, it's embarrassing for America that a British director, Steve McQueen ("Shame"), should have had to make this film at all, and that in 2013 it should constitute a breakthrough in cinema for American slavery to be depicted as something entirely evil." -- Mick LaSalle, SFgate.com There will be more, but I need a break.
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