Monthly Archives: March 2019

Dumbo Movie Review

Over the past few years, Disney is intend on using our childhood memories to bring us once more to the movie theaters. This weekend, the reboot of Dumbo (1941) was released.

Holt Farrier (Colin Farrell) has just returned home from fighting in World War I, sacrificing one of his arms in the process of fighting for his country. His wife died during the war, leaving his two children Milly (Nico Parker, Thandie Newton‘s daughter) and Joe (Finley Hobbins) motherless. Stuck in the past, Holt is unable to move forward until his boss and circus owner Max Medici (Danny DeVito) puts Holt in charge of the elephants. One of the female elephants has just given birth, the newborn elephant has unusually large ears that allow him to fly. After the circus has a bit of success with the new elephant, named Dumbo, V.A. Vandervere (Michael Keaton) takes notice of the little elephant. He wants to add Dumbo to Colette Marchant’s (Eva Green) aerialist act. But Vandervere’s plans are not completely altruistic; he has some plans up his sleeve that are questionable.

First of all, I have to give kudos to the screenwriters. Not only did smartly remove the racist caricatures of the crows, but they used Dreamland as the background for the second half of the movie. Dreamland is not a well-known subject unless one is well versed in the history of New York City or early 20th century amusement parks.

I haven’t seen the original animated film in quite a few years, but I feel like this reboot is close enough in narrative to its predecessor. What is nice about this film is that not only is not the typical slightly out-there Tim Burton film, but it speaks of animal cruelty and gives Milly, as a budding scientist, her due.

I recommend it.

Dumbo is presently in theaters.

 

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Filed under History, Movie Review, Movies, New York City

Thoughts On The Latest News from the Jussie Smollett Case

Earlier this week, all of the charges against Empire actor Jussie Smollett were dropped.

I am to be honest, not thrilled that the charges were dropped. As an American, I am bothered that Mr. Smollett used the justice system and cried wolf simply to get a raise.

To be specific, there are four reasons why I am bothered by this case:

  1. The Chicago Police department, like every other police department in every other city has limited resources. He wasted what amounts to $130,000 of time, man power and financial resources of the police when there are real cases that were put on hold. From my perspective, he could at least pay the department back for their efforts.
  2. Among the many that work and dream of performing for a living, only a small handful ever see that dream become a reality. His false claims of a hate crime spit in the face of everyone who has tried and failed to make it as an actor.
  3. I don’t know much about the inner workings of Hollywood, but I do know that actors usually sign a contract that states the details of their employment after they are hired for a job. There have been many actors over the years who have renegotiated their contracts or bargained to change the terms of their contracts before re-signing. There are other ways to change the terms of one’s employment without getting the police involved.
  4.  Hate crimes are real. Too many are attacked because of their skin color, their religion, sexuality, etc. If someone is attacked for who they are, they may think twice about going to the police, allowing the perpetrator to remain free. The police, for their part, may question if the attack was real or if it was made up by the “victim”.

Only time will tell how the fans and Hollywood react. But karma has a way of getting us all back, one way or another.

 

 

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Filed under National News, Television, Thoughts On....

This Time, The Potential Removal of the ACA is Personal

Earlier this week, you know who took another swipe at the ACA.

If he had attempted the same thing six months ago (not that its first time he’s tried to remove the ACA), I think my response would be of a general outrage. This time, the potential removal of the ACA is personal.

I wrote a while back about an unexpected curve ball that was thrown my way.

That curve-ball is a change to my career that I did not see coming. As of the end of next month, I will be out of work. My employer is generous to include health insurance in the severance package, but that health insurance is temporary.

The fact is that health insurance is a necessity. Not just to ensure that I have continued access to the mental health professionals who help me to live with my depression, but to provide access to my regular doctor.

Health insurance is a human right, not a privilege. No one should be denied access to a doctor because they cannot afford the appointment or have to go into debt to remain healthy.

But then again, some politicians are so blind that they prefer to save their own skins instead of supporting the voters who hired those politicians to represent them.

 

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Filed under Mental Health, Politics

Hotel Mumbai Review

On November 26th, 2008, the eyes of the world were riveted on Mumbai, India.

Terrorists were openly and brazenly killing innocent civilians. When all was said and done, nearly 200 people were killed and another 300 were injured.

The story of that day and more specifically, the terrorist’s focus on the Taj Mahal Palace is told in the new film, Hotel Mumbai.

After terrorists storm the hotel, staff and guests must come together to somehow get out of the hotel alive. Head chef Oberoi (Anupam Kher) and waiter Arjun (Dev Patel) are two of the surviving staff who are simply trying to keep the surviving guests alive. Married couple David (Armie Hammer) and Zahra (Nazanin Boniadi) have to make a tough decision. They can either stay together or split up and find a way to get to their nanny, Sally (Tilda Cobham-Hervey) and infant son.

I have mixed feelings about this film. On one hand, it’s a true and riveting story about human beings who have no choice, but to find a way to work together in the face of life or death circumstances. In this film, it would have been easy to create a 2D carte blanche villain. But the creative team fleshed out the villains in a way that makes them human, even if their actions are despicable. But on the other hand, the film teetered on boring at moments.

Do I recommend it? Maybe.

Hotel Mumbai is presently in theaters. 

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Filed under International News, Movie Review, Movies, World News

Flashback Friday-What Would You Do? (2008-2015)

Albert Einstein once said the following:

The world is a dangerous place to live; not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don’t do anything about it.

This is the premise of What Would You Do? (2008-2015). Originally airing on ABC before moving to A&E, the program was hosted by John Quiñones. The program is based on the question on what one would do if they saw someone else in a conflict or doing something illegal. Would they speak up or just go about their business?

In the establishment of each particular scenario, hidden cameras are setup. Actors are brought in to play out the scenario; he reactions of the bystanders are recorded by the cameras. When all is said and done, Quiñones appears and interviews the bystanders. The footage is then viewed and discussed by experts in the field of psychology or education.

Unlike other reality shows, this program makes the audience think. It’s a reminder that television has the power to change lives and how we set each other.

I recommend it.

 

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Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel Character Review: Faith Lehane

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the characters from the television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel. Read at your own risk if you have not watched one or both television series. In this series of character reviews, I will strictly be writing about the characters from the television series, not the 1992 film.

There is something to be said about a well written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.

In this series of weekly blog posts, I will examine character using the characters from Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel to explore how writers can create fully dimensional, human characters that audiences and readers can relate to.

The concept of the frenemy is as follows: a person with whom one is friendly despite a fundamental dislike or rivalry. On Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Buffy’s (Sarah Michelle Gellar) frenemy is Faith Lehane (Eliza Dushku). In the world of BVTS, every time a slayer dies, a new one is activated. After Kendra Young (Bianca Lawson) is killed, Faith is activated as the new slayer. She tries to become one of the Scooby gang, but she fits in like square peg fits in a round hole.

When it becomes obvious that Faith will never be part of Buffy’s inner circle, she becomes bitter and angry. When she accidentally kills a human who she thought was a vampire, Faith turns to the dark side. Aligning herself with the Mayor, she becomes his surrogate daughter and henchwoman. Buffy and Faith get into the fight of all fights at the end of the third season after Faith nearly kills Angel. Buffy wins the battle, leaving Faith alive, but in a coma.

When Faith wakes up from her coma, she takes revenge on Buffy by switching their bodies. While in Buffy’s body, she does some not so nice things and is taken into custody by the Watcher’s Council. After they revert to their own bodies, each woman has come to realize that they misunderstood each other. They may never be friends, but at least there is an understanding of the other woman.

Faith is then bound for Los Angeles, where she is hired by Wolfram & Hart to kill Angel. This second quest to kill Angel leads Faith on a journey to figure out if she has some chance of being a hero or if she will only ever be a villain. This jump from hero to villain and back to hero takes Faith back to Sunnydale. Fighting with the Scooby gang in the final battle, Faith proves herself to be a hero.

To sum it up: From a writing perspective, a frenemy is a great antagonist. He or she knows our hero/heroine. They especially know what makes the hero or heroine tick. As one of the major antagonists in the BVTS and Angel universe, Faith knows our heroes well. This allows her to get under their skins. But they also know her well, allowing them to reach her humanity.  Like many of the major baddies on BVTS and Angel, she balances the villain with just enough humanity to catch the audience’s attention.

Which is the reason why BVTS and Angel fans still respect and adore this character.

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Filed under Character Review, Feminism, Television

New Randy Rainbow Video-THE MUELLER BLUES – Randy Rainbow Song Parody

Depending on where you standing politically, the release of the Mueller Report is either a victory or a disappointment.

Earlier today, Randy Rainbow released his latest video entitled “THE MUELLER BLUES – Randy Rainbow Song Parody”.

Though I cannot identify the song that the parody is based on, I still love this video. I love that he addresses, as only he can, the feelings and reactions of both camps. From my perspective, it is just additional evidence that while you know who is not completely responsible for the political and social divisions in this country, he is a symptom of them.

Americans are better when we stand shoulder to shoulder with our fellow citizens. The problem is that instead of instead of finding common ground and a way to respect our differences, we are fighting with each other.  If we cannot figure out how to get along, I fear that the America that we all know and love will become something different entirely.

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Filed under Music, National News, Politics, Randy Rainbow

Throwback Thursday-Punk’d (2003-2015)

Practical jokes are funny, the only catch is that they are funny when you are not the one who the joke is being played on.

Punk’d (2003-2015) aired on MTV for most of the time that it was on television. Hosted and produced by Ashton Kutcher, it was the Candid Camera of the MTV generation. The premise of Punk’d was that Kutcher would play elaborately staged pranks on his celebrity friends while the audience got their chuckles in at home.

Among the shows that was part of the MTV lineup during the early 00’s, Punk’d ranks high (which is not saying much). It was not a mind numbing reality show, but it was enjoyable and entertaining, at least for the viewers at home.

I recommend it.

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Do Not Take Away Our Healthcare

The bedrock of American society is based on the following statement: life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

I’d like to talk about the first word in that statement: life. That requires seeing a doctor, even if it is just for an annual checkup. The problem in this country is that for many citizens, their ability to see a doctor is dependent on if they can afford to see the doctor. Now that the Mueller Report is out, you know who has his sights set on destroying the ACA once and for all.

Unlike other first world countries (Canada and Britain come to mind) where the healthcare system is funded by the tax payers, Americans are generally in two categories when it comes to healthcare. They either have a medical plan via their employer or they receive benefits from one of the government-funded plans. This should not be the case, which is why the ACA was created. The problem is that you know who is so obsessed with erasing is predecessor’s legacy and fulfilling his promise to his base, that he is leaving millions of Americans behind.

Newsflash, politicians make promises on the campaign trail and end up breaking them after being elected. When the late President Bush was running for President in 1988, he infamously promised that there would be no new taxes. A couple of years into his Presidency, he made the difficult decision that additional taxes were needed. In 1992, that promise backfired on him when Bill Clinton was elected.

No healthcare system is perfect. I’m sure Canadian and British citizens have gripes about their healthcare system. But the point is, that it’s there for anyone who needs it, regardless of income or employment status.

We are just under a year and a half away from the 2020 Presidential election. I predict (though I could be wrong) that healthcare will be one of the top issues and will have a hand determining who ultimately wins the election. If you know who wants another term as President (G-d help us if he does win), I suggest that he puts his ego aside and remember the people who voted him into office.

P.S. Is anyone as disturbed as I am by Betsy DeVos removing Special Olympics from her budget and and Alabama Rep. Mo Brooks (R) quoting directly from Mein Kampf? The Democrats may have their issues, but at least I know that they aren’t screwing this country over to save their own skins.

 

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The Book of Joan: Tales of Mirth, Mischief, and Manipulation Book

The mother-daughter relationship is a unique and complicated relationship.

In 2016, TV personality Melissa Rivers published The Book of Joan: Tales of Mirth, Mischief, and Manipulation, a memoir about her relationship with her late comedian mother, Joan Rivers.

Joan Rivers was not an ordinary mother. She was mouthy, un-pc like at moments, uninhibited and walked over boundaries as if they were nothing. But she loved her daughter fiercely. In this non-linear memoir, Melissa tells the story of her mother’s life and their unconventional relationship as only she can.

I really enjoyed reading this book. It gives the reader an insight to Joan Rivers as only her daughter can.

I recommend it.

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