Wednesday, February 26, 2014


Non Stop has problems. How many times can we watch the talented and tormented Liam Neeson play the same character? Here as the Air Marshall who is to rescue a plane from a passenger who is threatening to kill another passenger every twenty minutes, he has the right emotional life as directed by Jaume Collet-Serra. But the script and its dialogue by John Richardson and Christopher Roach is lifeless and reach for cliché at crisis points where the viewer needs a more original and genuine set up. Being an alcoholic with a child who was killed and announcing his tragic life circumstances to an entire plane full of terrified passengers just does not ring true. Neeson's performance is fine until he has to deliver one of his monologues that just bury the film. And how long can we stay inside a plane and not get bored or airsick ourselves. The cinematography is excellent with this difficult task, but the story line weak. We've all been here before.
Lupita Nyong'o plays an airline hostess, but her talents are wasted as she has little to do. Julianne Moore (Jen Summers) is excellent as a concerned passenger who is smitten with Neeson. But the real surprise and treat is the performance of Michelle Dockery (Nancy). As a British airline hostess she has the compassion down and the glances and caring in all the right places. Her aristocratic upbringing is not on display as it was in her former character on Downton Abbey.
After the pilot dies and co-pilot takes over, we all await the next murder. And, of course, it happens.
But my real quibble aside from script is the need Neeson (Bill Marks) feels to portray the same character over and over again. In Taken he was terrific and again in Taken Two, but his agents have to switch it up and trust his acting chops more. He is a fine talent who has now become a caricature of himself. His agents must not allow this to happen again or he will lose his fan base and respect. Look at the respect Matthew McConaughey has garnered today. He had been rom-com king and said," No." to them. Look at Jeremy Renner who was superb in the Bourne Legacy for his heroic performance and even garnered an Academy Award nomination for his again heroic performance in The Hurt Locker, then he did comedy in American Hustle. Neeson must say, "No!" to these heroic parts or he will fade into the dusk of his native Ireland as his fans mock his pained expressions and each and every role in which he saved the world. The budget was fifty million and while Neeson will not do commercials, he said on a talk show, as though this would be selling his soul to commerce, he agreed to do this schlock in which he is selling his soul to studios. What's the dif? On this same talk show he mocked his own performance with a sinister scowl. Wrong move. While getting a new agent, I hope he gets a new manager. I pray he has more trust in his talents to choose a new character next film and to stop displaying his insecurity by choosing Liam Neeson saved the world parts. Move on, Liam! But skip Non Stop while Neeson is finding himself.


True Detective’: HBO’s Hit Series Just Gets Better and Better (Guest Blog)

‘True Detective’: HBO’s Hit Series Just Gets Better and Better (Guest Blog)
A monster is still out there
“True Detective” is so good it almost makes going to the movies an exercise in futility. To avoid the latest animation craze, one can sit home and watch HBO’s finest miniseries as of yet and not have one’s intellect assaulted.
Matthew McConaughey has never been better. His sinister, sinewy and truly weird character Rust Cohle makes you wonder what kind of detective he truly was and is — and just what is going on in the beanie of this terrific screenwriter Nic Pizzolatto who created this fine miniseries.
Also read: Obama Asked HBO Chief for ‘True Detective,’ ‘Game of Thrones’ Advance Episodes
Dialogue leaps out of the tube into your “Did I really hear that?” eardrums. Yes, you can watch this more than once and each time a new clue will be revealed as to the relationship between McConaughey and his partner, Marty Hart, played by Woody Harrelson, who matches the acting chops of McConaughey, though it is McConaughey’s character that steals this show.
Just who the **** is this guy? Is he an intellectual, a freak or some kind of murderer posing in a detective uniform? (Spoiler alert segments 1-5): The series, directed by Cary Joji Fukunaga (2011′s “Jane Eyre”), just keeps getting better. And it is not too late to start watching.
It had a slow start, but now it is proving not to be what meets the eyes and ears, and is not only a murder, but multiple mysteries of who really committed these atrocities. I can’t wait until Sunday’s episode to see and hear what weirdness Rust Cohle has been engaging in. While he and Marty have solved a murder of a woman in the form of sacrificial lamb with tattoos and antlers on her naked body, there is more to this story than finding the murderer of this woman.
See video: Matthew McConaughey Coerced Into Mock Oscar Speech on Kimmel; Outs Woody Harrelson as ‘Horrible Driver’
This macabre tale is told in flashbacks, as both Rust and Marty are interrogated by two African American cops. Only in the most recent installment five are you given an indication of why these detectives are investigating Rust who, up until now, is disheveled and drinking beer nonstop while cutting up the cans. In different room a well-manicured Marty in a suit speaks positively of Rust about whom Marty is quizzed.
Also read: HBO’s ‘True Detective’ 6-Minute Tracking Shot Wows – Watch It Now (Video)
Sex is highly charged and vivid. Martin engages with a beauty as he cheats on his wife. “Infidelity is one kind of sin, but my true failure was inattention,” Marty says. Meanwhile Rust rejects a hooker who offers herself to him. Rust’s interest in sex is never seen, but his keen mind is. His dialogue is fascinating.
Rust has been married and has lost his child in an accident and is hanging onto a bizarre lifestyle. Getting to know him is what this whole series is about. Not who murdered whom. And so it continues with Rust now a suspect.
The credits for this series are among some of the finest I’ve ever seen. The cinematography is breathtaking and the music by T.Bone Burnett is haunting. It is rich in a rhythm that echoes vast open spaces that reveal the loneliness and isolation of rural parts of the great state of Louisiana.
Also read: ‘True Detective’ Stars Talk Matthew McConaughey’s Insane Year and Woody Harrelson’s Wig
What will happen in Episode Six? Will Rust have been a murderer all along or is he a true detective being slandered by corruption? It is not too late to catch this one as this is only Season One of a series that may rival The Sopranos.
Seventeen years after the first murder, this investigation of Rust is taking place. His storage unit is the focus of detectives investigating him.
“You want to arrest me, go right ahead,” says Rust. “You want to follow me, c’mon. You want to see something? Get a warrant.”
A monster is still out there. During a cross examination by Rust a convict mentions The Yellow King. Then this prisoner commits suicide in his cell. Who is The Yellow King?
Tune in for Episode Six. This fine series is just warming up.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014



Carole Mallory Headshot

Review: The Monument's Men -- Give it a Break!

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While George Clooney has never looked more like Clark Gable, it is his choice in material that matters. A team of seven art historians, curators and American connoisseurs of our art world's masterpieces take on Hitler, who has stolen these works from their European owners. FDR mandated this unsung band of heroes while Eisenhower was in command. This is a true story of courage and preserving fine art.
I only wish American movie critics would be less myopic and value this film for its substance instead of obvious flaws in its expression. Clooney has written, directed and starred in this fine film, a big task, with a cast of: Bob Balaban, Bill Murray, Matt Damon, Cate Blanchett, John Goodman, Hugh Bonneville and Jean Dujardin.
And while this film is at times slow, it is a triumph in terms of seeing a worthwhile movie when theaters are filled with animation such as Lego The Movie and Frozenand all the other Madagascars and Rios, and who knows what else, as long as kids get their parents to drag them to the box office and make money for studios. What has happened to Hollywood? Is it slowly being converted into one big animation enterprise where actors are hired for their voices and nothing more? Why isn't SAG protesting? Whatever happened to The African Queens, The Bridge on the River Kwais, the On the Waterfronts, the Casablancas? I mean, here we have George Clooney trying to create a movie with substance, and nit picky critics attack him unmercifully. And, in my opinion, without justification. I enjoyed seeing this film. And I go to the movies seeking a meaningful, pleasurable experience.
The performances of these actors is stellar. Balaban exudes his dry, understated wit. Murray does not go for laughs, but allows them to happen due to the situation. No mugging. Matt Damon plays it straight and without any added forced reactions, but lets his character be and his rich inner life dictate. John Goodman, again, plays it straight without mugging or going for any obvious laughs. Cate Blanchett is a killer of a Parisienne who loves fine art more than anything, and shows great comic timing. Jean Dujardin adds a true flavor of French charm and sincerity. Hugh Bonneville is the British addition straight from Downton Abbey, who falls into the arms of the Nazis, and is lovable because of his ability to make you care about him. 

To analyze how these characters are portrayed in contrast to their depiction in Edsel's book, Monument's Men, is unfair to Mr. Clooney and company. If we have to face in adjacent theaters The Lego Movie and Frozen, made for the smallest of folk, why can't we welcome a film made to honor the largest of folk, our WWII heroes? Please. Clooney has tried to enhance the quality of Hollywood's choice in subject matter and made an enjoyable film that is informative and values art more than human life. If only George Bush had had the same values in the Iraq war, and not destroyed the National Museum of Iraq. Monument's Men is an important film not because of its stars, but because of its story and historical significance. Catch it while you can.
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Tuesday, February 4, 2014


Boycott the Super Bowl! Show the NFL You No Longer Find Brain Damage a ‘Sport’ (Guest Blog)

Boycott the Super Bowl! Show the NFL You No Longer Find Brain Damage a ‘Sport’ (Guest Blog)
Men are being tortured sadistically by what is called a sport
One hundred million people will be watching the Super Bowl this year while our players are facing potential brain damage on the field.
Viewers will stuff their faces with hot dogs and chili while men are being tortured sadistically by what is called a sport. Entertainment. Ads on TV are being broadcast for commercials to bait us to watch the Super Bowl, a latter-day version of Vietnam on what is called a playing field.
Recently, a friend and former public defender compared the sport of football to a recreation of people who steal land from Native Americans. And celebrating this. After all, football is all about who gains the most territory.
Then we have the in-your-face cooking shows of foods to prepare for this celebration of carnal bestiality. Sadism is football. Which team can hurt the other team more. As we cheer “Rah Rah Sis Boom Bah.” Or, at least, as a former cheerleader, I did.
Ancient Rome is here today! Whoppee! Let’s have a barbeque. A tailgaiting party. As we watch brain damage being inflicted on both teams. We will never know the results of the many concussions until these players are dead. Only then can CTE be discovered in an autopsy.
Dr. Anna McKee, a neuropathologist at Boston University’s Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy, was responsible for identifying and systematically researching Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a degenerative brain disease similar to Alzheimer’s, as a result of trauma-induced damage from football.
And YES, we are finding this dreaded disease, CTE, in the corpses of our beloved players as we cheer them on to brain damage. And EAT!
Behind this sadistic sport and the 100 million fans who watch it and the over $4,ooo a ticket is the money pocketed by the greedy Nero’s of this so-called sport — the NFL.
Recently the NFL offered a settlement for a lawsuit against them for pennies. Yes, some $765 million is pennies when the NFL is worth billions. The settlement is only for past injuries and will not cover the men playing in this Sunday’s Super Bowl as you eat nachos and cheer the violence. No, their concussions will not be covered in this proposed settlement.
A recent article titled Will Women Bring Down the NFL by Nicole Martorano Van Cleve, PhD Assistant Professor, Department of Criminal Justice, Temple University, states, “The NFL is known for its hard hits and large linemen, but what they should worry about are not those things. Perhaps women playing defense and saying their boys’ brains are worth more than a settlement is what the NFL should fear the most.”
Brava Nicole and bravo to President Obama, who has said if he had a son, he would not allow him to play football.
The NFL has been exposed in attempts to cover up the epidemic of traumatic brain injuries in the league and its denial of science. We are seeing institutional change in a sport that dramatizes masculinity and power and a change created by women. Moms. An NFL doctor admits in the above article, “If 10 percent of mothers began to see the danger of this sport, it would mark the end of football.”
OK, moms, dads and younguns, boycott this Sunday’s Super Bowl and show the NFL you no longer find the risk of inflicting brain damage a sport. Entertainment.

Salinger, PBS Documentary by Shane Salerno, a Revealing Home

Salinger, PBS Documentary by Shane Salerno, a Revealing Home

Shane Salerno succeeds in solving the riddle of J.D.Salinger's reclusive behavior. Salinger chose to be a recluse when it suited his needs. Folks interviewed during Salerno's documentary said he detested phonies, yet he was a bit of one himself. An oxymoron. Sometimes a loveable oxymoron. Sometimes a spiteful oxymoron. Paul Alexander, author of Salinger ('99) interviewed in the film, said, "A true recluse would never call a reporter for the New York Times." There are examples of how Salinger worked the press and ended up on the front page of the New York Times because he knew how to schmooze when it was convenient for him. 

Salernos biopic is filled with interviews with famous writers and stars. One is led to believe Salinger would have cringed at the use of celebrity to tell his story as he ran quickly from it in life. Yet he wrote many, many letters to young women whom he barely knew and one of these was the enchanting Joyce Maynard. While Salinger's second wife, Claire Douglas, left him because he chose to isolate in a bunker- like studio in the pines of Cornish, N.H. , Salinger wrote Maynard when he saw her on the cover of the New York Time's Magazine Section. Maynard was hardly press shy when the so- called press shy Salinger wrote to her. Their love affair ended when she wanted children and he cringed at the thought. He had a gorgeous daughter, Margaret, with his second wife, yet he abandoned his duties as a father for solitude in his bunker in the pines to write.
Salerno brilliantly catches the hypocrisies in Salinger while loving him at the same time. We are drawn into this fascinating story via mixed media: drawings of him, film on him, photos of him and a minimal use of music though at the onset I found it a bit annoying. This story does not need music to indicate sentiment. It is rich in its own right and the viewer feels so much emotion from the clever interviews and facts of Salinger's life, that silence is a welcome soundtrack.
While Salinger may not have liked the use of celebrity to tell his life story, I did. Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Edward Norton, John Cusack, Martin Sheen, Gore Vidal, E.L. Doctorow, Tom Wolfe, J.Scott Berg, and A.E. Hotchner--who ends up being sympathetic while tearfully not accepting responsibility for Salinger's ending their friendship over feelings of betrayal when according to Hotchner's own words, A.E. betrayed him--are some of the stars in the fascinating biopic.
The film begins with Salinger in love with Oona O'Neill, Eugene O'Neill's. But war called the well breed blue blood boy and he abandoned Oona who fled to Hollywood where she married Charlie Chaplin.
As with Vonnegut and Mailer, WWII gave Salinger grist for his pen and he worked on six chapters of Catcher in the Rye while bombs blasted away. One of the finest photos of him was taken while he was writing during wartime.
Obsessed with The New Yorker he tried to have his work published there, but was rebuffed. Finally after the war, he published his first story and became the darling of The New Yorker and of New York. Catcher in the Rye was finally published by Little Brown and in a PR dinner celebrated by the literati, a much fawned over Salinger excused himself from the table for a cigarette and never returned to the table or to N.Y. Loathing the pretense of publishing, he moved to Cornish.
At first his privacy was challenged by a high school girl who interviewed him then betrayed him by publishing it nationally. Throughout his life, Salinger sought women much younger, as young as 14, and with all of his games of stop it I love it about wanting privacy, his love of control came out in his desire for very, very young women. The less experience a woman had, the more he could fill in the dots and play Svengali. His identity was threatened by a strong woman which Maynard who had published nine books had become.
Salinger's stories and books are flashed on screen to correspond to the events in his life to explain the factors addressed within. While this is a Herculean task, Salerno does this with aplomb and has a clear through line that could easily have been a muddled mess.
After a love affair with Norman Mailer who said about Salinger, "I seem to be alone in finding him no more than the greatest mind ever to stay in prep school," I was most drawn to the women in Salinger's life and the respect he gave or denied them. His first wife, Sylvie Welter, was a Nazi whom he divorced one week after returning home from the war. His third wife, Colleen O'Neill, was an au pair who lived with him for thirty years. An au pair knows how to care for children and when to be subservient. Salinger appreciated these qualities. Whatever. Jerry's books live on and what mattered to him most was not the publishing but the writing.
Thanks to Salerno, Salinger, as Mailer used to say, remains an inspiration to writers--warts and all. And while he also inspired Chapman to murder John Lennon, Hinkley to attempt to murder Ronald Reagan and Robert Bardo to murder Rebecca Schaeffer, he also inspired a multitude of unknown writers, one of whom drove four hundred and fifty miles to see the Howard Hughes of Literature. When this Average Joe had the good fortune of meeting him, Salinger said, "You need a psychiatrist," then, in effect said for him to go home and write.
After writing forty -five years writing in isolation, J.D.Salinger died at age of 91 in 2010. What he was creating in secret will be published in 2015 to the joy of all the Salinger stalkers, die-hard fans and simply readers of good literature.

Comparing Philomena, Wolf on Wall Street, and Nebraska...and the winner, hands down, is Philomena!


Comparing Philomena, Wolf on Wall Street, and Nebraska...and the winner, hands down, is Philomena!
Bad title. Instead, Philomena, played by Dame Judi Dench, should have been called something like, "They're Taking Anthony". This movie is: a mystery and an attempt to solve a heinous crime; a story about unconditional love between mother and son; a story about Aids being ignored inside the Reagan administration while its employees were dying from it; a story about the importance of freelance journalism; a story about a mother's acceptance of her son's homosexuality; a story about sexual guilt and shame; a story about the crimes of the Catholic church who sold children of unwed mothers for financial gain; a story about forgiveness; a story with values. Stephen Frears, its director is given little credit though he has done a masterful job. The production values are exquisite. After walking from a screening of Nebraska which was a slow journey about making amends towards one's father and a great film because of the magnificent performances of Bruce Dern and the townsfolk of Lincoln who never had a publicist, but whose acting is every bit as good as Dern's, and pondering the merits of The Wolf of Wall Street while comparing all three, Philomena is the easy winner,
As to Wolf of Wall Street, this film is devoid of values. It is cheap sexual exploitation. The use of drugs, yes, is part of the story, and, yes, profits from this movie are going to charity. But slick criminal Jordan Belford is becoming a household name due to this despicable film.
Yes, Jordan Belford, portrayed brilliantly by Leonardo di Caprio, is 17 years sober which is commendable, but this film is a glorification of Belford's drug use turned into comedy with no direct amends made by Belford to those he injured. Yes, Belford says he is giving all profits to these folks, but has he tried to make amends on a personal level to one? Just one? On Piers Morgan's interview with him on CNN he says, "No,"
But my main objection to Wolf on Wall Street is its director. Scorsese may feel drug use is funny to glorify, but it is not. And the horrible exploitation of women with its gorgeous star, Margot Robbie, sitting spread eagle on the carpet while a camera films her nakedness is the cheapest shot of manipulative Scorsese's career.
"Oh, you'll be in a Marty Scorsese film," our beautiful heroine is told. Ba Humbug. Scorsese talked this naïve beauty from down under to expose her down under. And what about all the other naked women, treated like extras, who strut around the office showing their unshaven selves. What a casting session Marty must have enjoyed choosing these women!
"Oh, you'll be in a Marty Scorsese film," these naïve actresses were again told. Oh, please, Marty grow some cahoonis! Have some respect for women! This nudity was gratuitous and did not advance the plot. It was unnecessary. Could it be because Marty has been married five times that he is projecting his repressed anger towards women onto the screen needlessly? Oh, wait, he did direct Jonah Hill to masturbate and show his erection on camera so he leveled his playing field regarding sexploitation.
Wolf of Wall Street is a pretentious film about exploitation. Period.
Philomena is based on a true story ultimately about redemption written by Martin Sixsmith titled The Lost Child of Philomena Lee. Scorsese could learn a thing or three from Stephen Frears, Stephen Coogan who wrote the screenplay, starred in it and produced it, Martin Sixsmith and, Philomena, herself.
Scorsese at 5'3" is a little man.