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Mike At The Movies

March 7th, 2017 by Michael Tabor

Be Here Now

Image result for be here now andy whitfield   Image result for be here now andy whitfield  Image result for be here now andy whitfield

This is a documentary film about an extraordinary man’s struggle with terminal non-Hodgeon’s lymphoma. His name was Andy Whitfield and he was the star of the series ‘Spartacus’. After having achieved all this huge success at first as a male model and then an actor, he was diagnosed with this horrible stage 4 cancer at the age of 39. Andy Whitfield was a beautiful man both outside and inside; when you see the guy, your 1st reaction is “Damn, why do some guys get all the breaks in life ?”. I mean I don’t think you can get a more handsome man with chiseled facial features, stunning blue eyes and a perfect physique – 6-pack and all. And no I am not a gay man but yes even a heterosexual can’t help but admire this Adonis and say to themselves that lucky guy must get all the girls or anyone he wants.

This was an important film for me because of my own personal health issues. I know all the stages and the ups and downs, hopes and disappointments, strides and setbacks, the chronic agonizing pain…. Seeing this documentary has inspired me to be a better person, to only hope to be ½ the man Andy Whitfield was in every respect. In this film you see what a great husband he was, a father- so kind, loving and nurturing. Andy was as brave and courageous as a man can be and he never gave up hope right to the end. Not to mention his extraordinary intelligence, wit and charm. Watching this and seeing him fight through the chemo, radiation and alternative treatments I kept saying to myself – please God don’t let him die – please save him but it was not meant to be (spoiler alert – sorry)

The one scene that really tore my heart out was when Andy got the terrible news that after dozens of rounds of chemotherapy he wasn’t going to make it. Hearing the news, Andy didn’t cry or get angry, he just sat silent and then turned to his incredibly loyal and loving wife and said I LOVE YOU! Please see this movie – you can stream it off Netflix. It truly is a story about courage, love, resilience and everything that is beautiful in life. This life truly is a gift and Andy Whitfield has shown me in this film how to better spend the rest of my life, how to be a more loving person, to have more gratitude, and when the time comes to die like a man. RIP Andy Whitfield and as he said to his 2 beautiful children at the end – my body is broken like a butterfly with broken wings but I’ll always be with you – always.

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Mike At The Movies

January 14th, 2017 by Michael Tabor

Lo And Behold – Reveries of The Connected World Related image

I’ve done movie reviews before here on this blog WhaDaWeThink.com however this will be the first (of hopefully many) under the rubric of Mike at The Movies.

“…this is ground zero of one of the biggest revolutions we as humans are experiencing.” This extraordinary documentary begins with this voiceover of Werner Herzog who is referring to the birth of the internet at UCLA  on Oct. 29,1969 = 10:30 pm where the first message was sent to Stanford University. That message was supposed to be a simple command LOG ON but the computer crashed after only typing LO hence the title of this film – Lo and Behold –a powerful and prophetic message indeed.

Social media, FMRIs, smart phones, , virtual reality…etc. How did we get here? It all starts with the very early days of the internet. We see a woman broadcasting the news ‘Imagine sitting down and having a cup of coffee while reading the morning paper on the computer…” Yep the very idea of this scenario 1969 seemed like science fiction. Those days were what we basically call prehistory of the information explosion. Herzog makes a comparison that seems utterly mind – boggling – that of those early days and today in which he states that if you collected the worldwide data flow for one single day and you put that information on CDs and stacked them, the pile would reach up to Mars and back. What? Is this hyperbole?   Well perhaps, it is after all a Werner Herzog documentary (he also made ‘Grizzly Man) he’s pretty goofy and eccentric and whether or not this statement is 100% factual or an exaggeration, he definitely meant to mean an unfathomably large number. Here there is a tracking shot following the central processing units of the internet that seem to never end – infinite. POWERFUL !

The first 30 minutes of the film are sort of dry and technical but hang in there – believe me it gets better and a lot more interesting. The dark side is explored with the story of Nikki “the Porsche girl.” This is an unimaginably disturbing true account of an 18-year-old girl who after an argument with her father speeds off with his Porsche and ends up crashing it into a stonewall at the toll gate. The girl is killed instantly – her head nearly decapitated. This is just the start of a bizarre and twisted nightmare for the family = the mother, the father and her siblings thanks to an unscrupulous cop and the internet. I won’t spoil it here but what happens after her death is so unspeakably horrible that it’s hard not to give some credence to what mom says about the world wide web being a manifestation of evil and the Anti-Christ.

Herzog also shows other examples of the dark side of technology including: people who are forced to live in seclusion because of an inability to block out waves, frequencies, and signals from cell towers. Young people who are addicted to video games (gamers in S. Korea wear diapers so they don’t have to step away and stop playing to go to the bathroom, playing 40,50,60 hours a clip), people of all ages addicted to pornography, social media, and everything else the internet has to offer. Herzog then ponders what would happen if we were cut off from technology by some natural disaster – like a hurricane Sandy but worldwide. What if there were a solar flare that knocked out the internet? Could we as a species survive? Would this be the undoing of civilization? You might say – well, yes of course we’ll survive and get through this but you’ll be surprised to hear what experts have to say. It’s not good news, We are too reliant on technology.

Herzog visits a hackers convention in Las Vegas, defcon, where the FBI, CIA, the Chinese Secret Service, nerds around the world, etc. gather to share and trade secrets and the state of the art technology. Kevin Mitnick, the world’s greatest hacker, will be in attendance. Find out his tricks. You’ll be shocked to see what’s coming.

The documentary unpacks the good and promising aspects of technology i.e. advances in medicine the eradication of cancer, etc. And, it also serves as a caveat for the unintended consequences of the information revolution. For every step forward there may be 2 steps back. Herzog interviews someone who works at cyber security for a firm Sandia Research Laboratory. It’s pretty scary to find out that this company which is a repository for research & development and logistics in the areas of solar energy, nuclear weapons, cyber security, banking, space exploration and more was recently hacked. Yep, 100s of institutions were or could have been compromised by these hacks (classified as Titan Rain) including NASA, defense, the industrial military complex and several major financial institutions.

There is so much more here in this film. It’s an absolute MUST-see. Anyone the least bit concerned with rising technology and our future will gain some insight. Some of the major players in technology and AI such as Elan Musk voice their positions, worries, hopes,etc. SO WhaDaYaThink ? Lo and Behold can now be streamed from Netflix. Enjoy and hold on!

 

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When Marty Was Great !!!

May 23rd, 2014 by Michael Tabor

How many mob/bad – guy movies can you watch before you say “enough – already !!!”goodfellaslook

When I was a kid (I actually appreciated the film more as an adult, when I was able to understand everything) my favorite mafia movie of all time was ‘The Godfather’, directed by Francis Ford Coppola in 1972. I was shocked beyond belief when the sequel, The Godfather Part II released 2 years later was actually (not by much, but still …) better !!! Al Pacino portraying the formerly sweet & nice guy who wanted nothing to do with the family (well, we knew it was coming at the end of Godfather I) and turned into the surprisingly, most – vicious – Machiavellian don one can imagine (another blog).

Anyway, I just recently watched ‘Good Fellas’ and it brought back memories of  how GREAT that movie was. Wow !!! This film, ‘Good Fellas’ was made 24 years ago in 1990 and I can’t even begin to describe how powerful & how well this move has stood the test of time. Unlike the ‘Godfathers’ I & II (btw, Godfather III was a dog and perhaps one of the worst movies ever made) Good Fellas really sort of made you feel like you were right there with the BAD guys and what made it so intriguing was that it was so different from ‘The Godfather’. This film invited you to vicariously live the life of the “soldier” lifestyle of the Cosa Nostra. The Godfather’ films tried, and obviously succeeded, in portraying the mob as simply corporate America in which killing other human beings was just an occupational hazard.

I’m not going to elaborate too much, because I think everyone has seen the aforementioned films, but allow me to go back to memory lane and throw up some of my favorite ‘Good Fellas’ scenes.

·        If you see someone who looks like this and is looking at you this way, you probably don’t have much longer to live    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FmF_Phk6eIE

·        This is great dark comedy here …. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IeL8EYtbVw0

·        And of course, the – “ are you amusing me scene” is perhaps one of the greatest scenes in all of  cinema    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aC5al-btIEw

So WhaDaYaThink ? What do you think ? Martin Scorsese has made some unspeakably great movies e.g. ‘Raging Bull’, ‘Taxi Driver’, ‘Cape Fear’, ‘The Aviator’, ‘The King of Comedy’ … & more, but the last few films have been major bombs. Is Marty done ???

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Jim Jarmusch’s ‘The Limits of Control’

May 6th, 2014 by Michael Tabor

I still don’t get this film, but I’m nevertheless going to watch it again tonight for the third time. This is a prodigiously slow – movinglimits1limits2 motion picture (I don’t care, because the cinematography is breathtakingly beautiful – filmed mostly in Madrid and Seville, Spain) about a hit man given an assignment. The film is as cryptic and esoteric as it gets. Check out some of this dialogue or should I say monologue:

·        “The universe has no center and no edges”

·        “Reality is arbitrary”

·        “Everything is subjective”

·        “Use your imagination and your skills”

Right from the get – go you see an overhead shot of the “Lone Man” doing Tai – Chi in a stall in a public restroom at an airport. We learn quite quickly that this is not a mainstream movie and it’s going to perhaps require some thought i.e. a lot of thought (like I said, this is viewing #3 and I’m still not sure what’s going on …) Incidentally, the Lone Man (Issach De Bankole) always orders 2 espressos in separate cups. This we find out later is some sort of code along with matchboxes and a query about whether or not he can speak Spanish or not (yep, this is definitely a thought – provoking Jim Jarmusch film).

“As I descended into impassable rivers, I no longer felt guided by the ferryman … “ in other words (I think this is what this means) you are on your own in this world – in this life. This movie is so rich and has so much to offer if one has the patience. Yes, this movie moves at a snail’s pace but what an absolute masterpiece it is if viewed through the right lens.  Incidentally, speaking of lenses, throughout the entire film you see many of the characters wearing sunglasses. What does this mean? I suspect that Mr. Jarmusch is having fun with some dark humor here –right? Of course, secret service men, bodyguards, etc. are always seen wearing sunglasses suggesting secrecy, but in this film, it’s purposefully exaggerated to create a surreal and farcical effect.

I’m not going to do a frame by frame analysis of this film (although I think this would be profoundly interesting and fun) and certainly I don’t think there is such a thing as a “spoiler” when it comes to this movie. What is the plot after all: A taciturn hit man is given a mission from enigmatic men to kill a certain powerful man, about whom we know absolutely nothing and for reasons the picture never reveals. Along the way the protagonist anti – hero meets very interesting and mysterious people who instruct him what to do in code and ultimately the mission is accomplished and the movie ends. Does this sound like a movie for you ?

So WhaDaYaThink ? What do you think ? I absolutely loved this film and if you are looking for something a little more than just the unfolding of a plot or story, then this is a must – see. I am leaving so much out including the sound production which is just first – rate e.g. the helicopter propeller blades juxtaposed with pigeon wings flapping is deliciously magical.

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The Unwatchable ‘The Wolf Of Wall Street’

April 25th, 2014 by Michael Tabor

Wow !!! It simply does not get any worse than this. I know Scorsese was just doing his dark humor thing: glamorize and satirize the bad guy – which he so masterfully walls1walls2walls3walls5accomplished with Henry Hill and the mafia with ‘Good Fellas’. However, Martin Scorsese released an absolute mess with his loosely – based biopic (same dark humor style) about the Wall Street tycoon, Jordan Belfort (Yep, the movie ‘The Boiler Room’ was also loosely based on Jordan Belfort), in ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’. Martin Scorsese is a pint – sized 71 year old grown man who vicariously has had the amazing good fortune to make his want to – be, alter – ego come true on the big screen – you know what I’m talking about: small but powerful, handsome, ambitious, unspeakably rich, utterly fearless, misogynistic (why the marginalization of women ???) adolescent via commercial feature filmmaking. Martin Scorsese is a brilliant man who I suspect despises the fact that he is and has always been a frail, small man who could never, ever be in real life one of his anti – heroes for whom I truly believe he has this secret admiration and hence lives in his make – believe world of cinema. Marty sadly but perhaps fortuitously suffered from asthma as a child (Marty could never play with his friends and spent his childhood watching film – a curse and a blessing). Scorsese has always loved the rebels, and I earnestly suspect that he wanted to be one of those “bad guys. “Well, given his prodigious popularity in the make believe cinema world in which he now lives and with which he grew up, too sick to be a ‘wise guy’ (while his peers lived in the real world)… he can now be whomever he wants – that handsome, rich, powerful guy with the beautiful blonde by his side. Whatever the motivation behind any Martin Scorsese motion picture, one has to agree that he is a lover of film, unspeakably talented, a genius, and perhaps one of the greatest directors of our time, but, well, this movie was a bomb.
Okay to spin this movie in a positive light, one can say that, as outright ugly and disturbing as this film was, what Scorsese wanted to portray was a modern day Caligula, no holds barred. I suppose that on some level you can say that Wall Street seen in this picture is a microcosm of the rise and fall of the Roman Empire. This is hedonism on steroids… debauchery to a nauseating degree (FOR 3 HOURS, how much can a person take watching 20 something millionaires doing drugs and having sex – BORING & STUPIDLY OVER THE TOP.
The motion picture begins with a make – believe commercial (now Marty is a ruthless Wall St. mogul instead of a Joe Pesci mafia hit man) and then quickly switches to a dwarf – tossing contest led by Martin’s new cinema darling, Leonardo Dicaprio (yep, Robert De Niro , you’ve been bumped). I personally could not believe my eyes … a brilliant film scholar and genius in Martin Scorsese, in some way giving validation suggesting that it’s funny or cool to throw around little people for money (Ummm, excuse me Mr. Scorsese, the Faustian Howard Stern already owns this domain). Well, hold on, I say… Martin Scorsese is short & maybe this is just satire and maybe this really happened (though Jordan Belfort claims it’s all B.S.) – right ? Ummm, hang on, the very next shot is Jordan (you know that’s Scorsese) snorting cocaine from a beautiful blonde woman’s rectum –– way over the top !!! I should have turned it off there, but I endured the whole 3 hours of Fu#@ing, drugs, and 20 something year olds behaving unspeakably badly and with way too much $$$ -UGGGGGH
Okay – fine, show the partying and excess, but for 3 HOURS and nothing else??? I mean, you may as well have watched, ‘Animal House’ – same stuff, only with a yacht and a lot of money. Hey and by the way, that Quaalude scene was as absurd as it gets (not true, and not funny). The movie in a nutshell is ‘Good Fellas’ (I mean DiCaprio’s voiceover sounded exactly like Ray Liotta’s, but on Wall Street) on super – charged drugs without any depth of character, plot, consequences, etc.
Yes, there were some powerful, gripping, profound and moving scenes (it is Marty after all, not unlike Woody, even the turkeys have @ least a scene or 2) but my question to Martin Scorsese, is why not touch on the repercussions of crazy behavior and excess; and why not dig deeper into the characters ?
So WhaDaYaThink ? What do you think ? I, personally, being a Scorsese fan, was offended and appalled by this piece of garbage of a movie. The films to watch are : 1. ‘Good Fellas’ 2. ‘Raging Bull’ 3. ‘Aviator’ 4. ‘Cape Fear’ 5.’ Taxi Driver’ 6. ‘The King of Comedy’ 7.’ After Hours’ & 8. ‘The Departed’ … ummm 8 films, not bad – lol….but don’t waste your time and $$$ on this one.
Btw, much to my dismay, a lot of the appalling stuff seen in the picture actually happened – it did??? (though, I personally don’t believe most of it) and if you YouTube Jordan Belfort, it is disturbing beyond comprehension, that such a less than intelligent person in Mr. Belfort could actually steal that much $$$ from real, legitimate businessmen.
Oh, and here is another FYI, though the motion picture was ultimately a success – grossing thus far over $389 million dollars on a $100 million dollar budget (aren’t those #’s in terms of $$ absolutely disturbing???) some folks who actually paid the $10 to see the movie when it was initially released, walked out and demanded a refund. I applaud those people and I want my time and money back too. Martin Scorsese is a 71 year old little boy who never grew up (literally and figuratively – lol) and never will!!! I would love to get your thoughts.

 

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I Will Never Be Able To See Another New Phillip Seymour Hoffman Film Ever Again!!!

February 6th, 2014 by Michael Tabor

The finest and best American actor I’ve ever had the great pleasure of seeing was far and away, Philip Seymour Hoffman. I’m a Philip-Seymour-Hoffmanpicfilm aficionado, and I certainly have a plethora of awesome talent on my list of immortals e.g. Robert De Niro & Al Pacino before they sold out, John Cazale, Newman, Hoffman, Brando, Redford, the amazing Jack Nicholson…. on & on.

However, here was Phillip Seymour Hoffman whose nuanced acting ability, subtlety, and range just simply swept you away, making it impossible to become unglued and detracted from the always-stellar performance from this rather short, overweight, unattractive and certainly non – leading man appearance.
When I Netflix a film, the most important variable I look for is “who directed the film ??? ….” 9 times out of 10 the director is the “Man” – he or she is essentially the author (auteur) and driving force behind any film or movie. Occasionally an actor can steal the show and turn a horrible movie, script, etc. into a classic or even a masterpiece. Two films come to mind (not classics but most definitely cult) 1. Al Pacino’s remake of the classic ‘Scarface’, – completely over – the – top, but Mr. Pacino made Brian De Palma’s film an all – time classic cult film (Incidentally, Mr. outrageous – over – the top, Oliver Stone wrote the script – lol) 2. There is absolutely no movie what so – ever without Jack Nicholson in ‘One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest’ & even ‘The Shining’ (although the most brilliant and genius director – Stanley Kubrick directed this).

I can hardly compile a list of my favorite Phillip Seymour Hoffman films, because he was brilliant in all of them but I’ll attempt to give you my top 3:
1. “Doubt”
2. “The Savages”
3. “Capote”

So WhaDaYaThink ? What do you think ? Thank you Phillip Seymour Hoffman for forever enriching my life and R.I.P. July 23, 1967 – February 2, 2014.

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Art is The Very Essence of Our Being

September 29th, 2013 by Michael Tabor

artlascouxIngmar Bergman at an advanced age unbelievably got into a physical altercation with a man who criticized his work and until the day that he, Mr. Bergman died, never forgave the man who merely wrote a negative review about him. I saw an interview on a NetFlix special, and was shocked to hear Ingmar Bergman, many years after the incident, state that he continued to harbor hatred for this man, and flat out stated that he ought to burn in hell for eternity.

Believe it or not, I get it !!! My wife and I run a blog in which we both take tremendous pride. I, personally take offence when someone criticizes not the content (we actually encourage disagreement and debate) but rather denounces the style , etc.  – Worse still is when someone doesn’t even read what we wrote. Surely not everything we put up is a masterpiece, but it is a bummer when people just completely dismiss it – all the blood, sweat, and tears into every single word for nothing.

Every true artist wants everyone else to appreciate his or her work and except for a handful of artists like Woody Allen who genuinely, at this point in his career, really doesn’t care if people say something akin to “Your Last film sucked !!!” The fact is Woody Allen has been around more than a half century, has made dozens of masterpieces throughout his career, and is lucky enough to be absolutely secure about his work and his legacy.

Quentin Tarantino, the famous filmmaker, is in such an incredibly fortunate position in which making $$ or turning a profit means absolutely nothing to him. Of course, Mr. Tarantino wants his latest work to be a blockbuster so the producers, money – men, and investors are happy, but not unlike Woody Allen, he’s really concerned a whole lot more about chalking up another perfect gem for generations after his death so they can watch, enjoy, and appreciate it.

I was just reading a piece from the New York Times Book Review which basically describes how the American novelist, William Gaddis, became suicidal after getting negative reviews for his first novel, ‘The Recognitions’  –a book he thought would put him on par with the all-time greats of the twentieth century. Instead, he said, “Nobody even bothered to read my book (it was too long and difficult) …. America has odd ways of making one feel one’s self a failure.” Later, 20 years later, after Gaddis died, ‘The Recognitions’ was named one of ‘Time Magazines’ 100 best novels from 1923 – 2005.

This sort of contradicts what I’ve just written so far but, I sometimes wonder if it is even necessary that your art is seen, celebrated, and appreciated. Just think about the Lascaux Paintings which are paleolithic cave paintings painted circa 17,300 years ago. This work was obviously not meant to be seen by anybody (the pitch dark blackness and the art in a cave) but by the artists themselves and I suspect perhaps by whatever gods the people of that time were worshipping. So, WhaDaYaThink ? What do you think ?

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‘Killing Them Softly’ is A Different Type of Mob Movie

July 28th, 2013 by Michael Tabor

Godfather I and II, ‘Good Fellas’, and ‘The Sopranos’  HBO series definitely rank way up high on my favorite all – time list of mob stuff. However, the truth of the matter is, I was “burnt – out” on the La Cosa Nostra and all the other organized crime orbradandtonyganization films/shows, etc. after I saw Good Fellas (I loved that movie & watched it over and over) back in 1990. Though I certainly had my fill with the mafia in 1999, I nevertheless got hooked on ‘The Sopranos’, who didn’t? We all knew that after viewing  the very first episode or pilot, this was a gem and a masterpiece in every respect i.e. writing, acting, production, etc. and it was so different which is a good segue for this blog.

‘Killing Me Softly’ is a different, sort of slow – moving film & be forewarned, that if you’re looking for the hardcore mobster action flick, though there are some nasty intensely violent scenes, this movie is definitely not for you. However, if the concept of the banality of evil (Hannah Arendt) resonates with you, then I think you may appreciate this film. I also believe that if you think that some people are dealt a lousy hand of cards in life, forced into ugly situations and therefore have no other choice but to commit the most heinous acts imaginable, then I also think this movie maybe cathartic and something you should certainly Netflix. Oh & yes the movie is brimming with political and corrupt corporate America allegory so you might need a thinking cap.

The reason I personally finally watched this movie was because it was James Gandolfini’s last film he made before he died. I loved James Gandolfini and I thought he was a tremendous talent, the likes of whom we will never see again. I am also a huge fan of the great character actor,  Richard Jenkins who happens to be part of the cast. Here’s the story in a nutshell: 3 pathetic lowlifes rob a mob poker card hangout/Of course they’re found out/the 3 losers and “Markie” – the guy running the card gig (Played by Ray Liotta) must go.  Gandolfini’s character, Mickey, is a washed up – alcoholic – incompetent whore – mongering assassin, which incidentally he plays brilliantly, and just can’t pull it off. Because of Mickey’s ineptitude, Brad Pitt’s character, Jackie Cogan is forced to make all the hits himself. The dark humor here is that Jackie Cogan is as sociopathic as it gets but sometimes you might think he’s a nice guy because he doesn’t like to see people suffer unnecessarily (hence the title of the film) which is why Mickey is called in to begin with. The question is whether Jackie has genuine empathy for his victims or is it just the fact that it’s an inconvenience to have the guy you’re about to kill – cry, piss his pants, pray to Jesus, etc. right before he dies.

  This movie has classic and I mean classic dialogue and here’s just a taste from Jackie at the end of the movie regarding the myth of Thomas Jefferson and our so – called “noble” founding “bull – shit artists” fathers:  “My friend, Jefferson is an American saint because he wrote the words All men are created equal – words he clearly didn’t believe, since he allowed his own children to live in slavery. He was a rich wine SNOB who was sick of paying taxes to the Brits. ..yea, so he wrote some lovely words and aroused the rabble & they went out and died for those words, while he sat back & drank his wine and fucked his slave – girl …this guy (Jackie points at a bar TV screen with Obama spewing another one of his BS speeches about equality) wants to tell me we’re living in a community, don’t make me laugh ! I’m living in America & in America you’re on your own …America is not a country, it’s just a business – NOW FUCKEN PAY ME !!! ”  Check this out

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5zK-b0INu1k

So WhaDaYaThink ? What Do you think ? I read the comments on Netflix (about a 100 or so) and people either absolutely love the movie or despise it. The problems with the film are 1. The one actor is Australian (I think) and hard to understand 2. The street lingo is off the charts & 3. It’s a thinking man’s film, so you have to fill in some gaps. I watched the movie twice before I blogged just to make sure I got it. Not to give away too much, but check out how bad – ass Brad Pitt is here

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qK7fvqeLnq0

 

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The Man Who Loved Film Dies (1942 – 2013)

April 5th, 2013 by Michael Tabor
Roger Ebert was a powerhouse within the universe of film; he was the first film critic to win a Pulitzer Prize and was even given his very own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.  The New York Times called him the critic for the common man because he made film criticism accessible to everyone with his thumbs up – or – down TV approach with Gene Siskel and then later with Richard Roeper.

What I really loved most about Roger was the fact that not only was he a great writer who had a unique style of personalizing every film he reviewed but furthermore he always seemed to bring that special “magic” to the movies – his passion for moving pictures was second to none whether one agreed with him or not. I faithfully purchased his yearbooks (which were basically a collection of his reviews he had written in his syndicated column for that particular year) and because his writing was so good and interesting, I usually read the reference book straight through like a novel. Not only did he review all of the expected mainstream films but he would also dip into some of the off the charts bizarre indies such as ‘Sick: The Life& Death of Bob Flanagan, Supermasochist’ 1997.  Mr. Ebert wrote with his signature personal flair,
“This is one of the most agonizing films I have ever seen. It tells the story of a man who was born with cystic fibrosis, a disease that fills the lungs with thick, sticky mucus, so that breathing is hard and painful, and an early death is the prognosis. He was in pain all his life, and in a gesture of defiance he fought pain with more pain. With Sheree Rose as his partner, he became a performance artist, using his own body as a canvas for museum shows, gallery exhibits, lectures, and performances. He was the literal embodiment of the joke about the man who liked to hit himself with a hammer because it felt so good when he stopped.” Weird, compelling, and impossible to stop reading – that was Roger Ebert.


Ebert lived his life through the movies; he was a cast character in all of the movies he saw. Sadly, as we all know Roger suffered terribly with thyroid , salivary glands and chin cancer; he even lost the ability to speak and even eat and drink (he was fed through a tube, can you imagine ?) However, Roger never lost his passion for the medium he was made for. Anthony Hopkins’s ‘Slipstream’ was considered a complete disaster and panned by everyone except for Roger Ebert; having been ill himself, of course Ebert could identify completely with Anthony Hopkins’s sick character. In fact I personally hated the film the first time I saw it and after reading Ebert’s review and watching ‘Slipstream’ again, I got it – I saw what Ebert saw.

I didn’t like all the movies Roger enjoyed but thanks to his unique writing style I always understood why Roger Ebert loved a movie. I also want to note that not unlike Ebert, I, too think there are very few movies that are absolutely flawless in every regard from beginning to end; however this doesn’t suggest that you shouldn’t see a film if this is in fact the case. There may be something about a particular film which makes it worth seeing, or perhaps that have moments (for me what immediately comes to mind is ‘Full Metal Jacket’ in which the first half was absolutely classic Stanley Kubrick and yet the second half of the movie was almost unwatchable) So here’s a thumbs up to ‘Citizen Kane’ and ‘Casablanca’ – Roger Ebert’s 2 favorite movies of all time. So, WhaDaYaThink ? What Do You Think ?

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Stanley Kubrick – Just One More Film

September 3rd, 2012 by Michael Tabor

What’s sad is I will never again get to see another Stanley Kubrick film. I recently blogged about Woody Allen but there is no comparison in terms of “greatness” when you throw in Stanley Kubrick. Yes, I know there is Bergman, Fellini and Ford, but Stanley Kubrick was just in a completely different universe. You know you’re watching a Kubrick film within a minute, his style is/was so distinct. He was only 70 when he died in his sleep of a heart attack shortly before the release of “Eyes Wide Shut” and oh boy, what a loss this was for film aficionados. To start he only made 10 features if you begin with “Paths of Glory” (1957) which was really his first film (yes I know there is “The Killing” and a few earlier films but “Paths …” was really the first Kubrick film).
This obviously could be a 1000 page book (oh God all the masterpieces: ‘Barry Lyndon’, ‘The Shining, ‘2001: Space Odyssey’, ‘A Clockwork Orange’ … and the man – Stanley Kubrick) but in this short essay I’m just going to make a few remarks about his last film, “Eyes Wide Shut”.
I hated “Eyes Wide Shut” the first time I saw it and I couldn’t express my disappointment enough. I watched the semi – masterpiece this weekend and I must say I have gained a whole new perspective on the film. Was it his best work? No. Is this the film I would urge people to see, if one hasn’t seen a Kubrick film? (Can you imagine?) No. However, I missed a whole lot the first viewing some 10+ years ago. The first hour and 15 minutes of the film is, I still maintain, not very good and even a little over the top with the Stanley Kubrick signature – the intense, eerie, sort of otherworldly, esoteric, etc. Great camera work granted, but…. After the bizarre orgy, right after Cruise was told to leave and not tell anyone what he saw, was when the movie really started to get good, no not good – GREAT!
I could hear my heart pounding in my chest (much of the time) as I watched the last hour of the movie; I could hardly breathe when Dr. Harford (Cruise’s character) goes to the morgue and stares at the beautiful young dead woman – oh and the eerie score, that one loud piano note. I didn’t know what was going to happen. For some reason, as Cruise was leaning closer toward the corpse, I thought she was going to pop up. (That of course would have been inane and had made no sense, this is not Carpenter or Di Palma, but it’s that intense ambiance at which Kubrick was so masterful) The conversation at the end in which Dr. Harford (Cruise) and Victor Ziegler (Sydney Pollack) are engaged is one of the most intense eerie dream-like scenes I’ve ever seen in the history of cinema. Essentially nothing happens in the last hour and yet that atmosphere is there which is really one (of the many) reasons he was the best.
So I can go on, but I think I’ll just end with – if you were like me and were not happy with Stanley’s last movie, revisit it and it’s really the last half that did it for me. Oh, I must mention, not to put a damper on matters, but the ending was admittedly lame, but that shouldn’t stop you from absorbing that one hour of outstanding cinema.  So WhaDaYaThink ? What do you Think ?

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