59 posts categorized "Current Affairs"

17 September 2014

Get your wallet running ...

Easy330r
The late Dennis Hopper, left, Peter Fonda and Jack Nicholson in "Easy Rider." (Columbia Pictures)

I see them everywhere, middle-aged men (OK, a little older than that) dressed in leather that's often what we could call seam-challenged vrooming around on the motorcycles they wished they had been able to buy in their early 20s.

You know, when they wanted to feel the wind in their hair (when they had hair) as they rebelled against the man and rode, with buddies of like mind in tow, across the U.S. of A. without a care in the world, except the threat of the occasional redneck pulling alongside in a pickup and leaning out of a window aiming a loaded shotgun.

Well, good news guys.  Captain America, the customized Harley-Davidson chopper that Peter Fonda rode in the gritty drama Easy Rider in 1969 is going on the auction block on Oct. 18 at the Profiles in History auction house in Calabasas, Calif.

"The seller is Michael Eisenberg, a California businessman who once co-owned a Los Angeles motorcycle-themed restaurant with Fonda and late Easy Rider co-star Dennis Hopper. Eisenberg bought it last year from Dan Haggerty, perhaps best known for his roles in the Grizzly Adams TV show and movies, who was in charge of keeping the custom-designed bike humming during the 1969 movie's filming," according to a post on the CBS News website.

Even if you can't rustle up the $1 million or $1.2 million Captain America, that proud symbol of freedom once enjoyed by hippies everywhere, is expected to go for, it would still be a fun ride from Wherever, U.SA. to Calabasas.

I'd go with you, except for a couple of reasons.  I'm still limping from a mountain bike mishap a few weeks ago.  I wiped out on perfectly good asphalt; not even on a rocky dirt trail, so I may not be ready to straddle a hog for an extended ride right now.

Also, I'm saving all my movie auction cash for the piano used in the flashback sequences of Casablanca.  It comes up for auction every few years these days.

Let's see, right now I'm somewhere between $3 million and $4 million short, but still hopeful.

Hope.  That's what freedom is all about, man.

16 September 2014

Will Matt Damon be 'Bourne' again?

Bourne340r
(Courtesy: Universal Pictures)

Don't rule it out.

According to an article posted on the Hollywood Reporter website, "Damon and Paul Greengrass just may have another Bourne movie up their sleeve" to bring the "amnesia assassin" back to the big screen.

You may recall that Sean Connery tossed James Bond's 007 tuxedo, supposedly for good, in 1967 after You Only Live Twice.  He returned the first time for Diamonds Are Forever in 1971 and again for Never Say Never in 1980.

If it's true that Damon may once again wag a pistol as Jason Bourne, and denials are reportedly flying from Universal, excellent actor Jeremy Renner, who took over the lead as man-of-action Aaron Cross in The Bourne Legacy two years ago, might just become the spy left out in the cold, at least until he's worked back into the mix for a proposed sequel to The Bourne Legacy.

"Greengrass would not only direct, but also write the script. (The Bourne trilogy was written by Tony Gilroy, among a handful of others scribes, and this would be the first time Greengrass, who wrote United 93 and directed the second and third Bourne installments, will have a hand in penning the adventures.)

"If a deal is made — and talks are only in the early stages — it sets the stage for a return of the 21st century’s first screen hero who threatened to upstage Bond. With their kinetic and visceral style, the movies made Damon into an A-lister who was able to command tens of millions for the sequels as the franchise raked in almost a billion dollars worldwide," the Hollywood Reporter article states.

Personally, as much as I respect Renner as an actor, I prefer Damon as Bourne.  From this aisle seat, it's his franchise.  And with Greengrass penning the script and returning to the director's chair, the re-Bourne franchise could regain its action-packed glory.

08 September 2014

She couldn't Medicare less

Doc180l
(Courtesy: freedesignfile.com)

My doctor broke up with me today.

She wants to see other people.  Younger people.  And she wants me to see other people as well.

She doesn't care who I see, just as long as it isn't her.

"Did you see the sign out front?  As of January 1, I'm not treating Medicare patients anymore," she said, shortly before getting physical with me for the last time.

"The doctor won't see you now."  How did I misread those signs?

On my last few visits, my doctor, whom I'm convinced is a caring soul but is also someone who's had it way past "up to here" with government red tape associated with Medicare patients, has complained about having to lug around her laptop computer to deal with patients like me.  You know, those who have committed the mortal sin of letting the clock tick too many times to suit those younger.

I've been grandfathered in before, but this is the first time I've ever been grandfathered out.

In as gentle voice and nicest tone I could muster during my physical -- after all, she was reaching for the rubber gloves -- I said, "I can certainly understand your frustration, but it sort of leaves guys (and women) like me out in the cold.  We have a doctor we really like and trust, and now we can't go to them anymore."

I don't remember exactly what my doctor said to that.  I was too concerned about her opening up the examination room door and calling for the nurse.  Any guy who's ever had his prostate checked knows what that means.  (That reminds me, the car needs an oil change.)

I do remember that she didn't say, "Oh, excuse me.  I forgot for a second that you are one of my original patients.  You came with me to start this practice when I was struggling and you've been a loyal patient for years.  And you have referred several people to me, who, by the way, are not on Medicare and pay retail.  So, of course, I'll treat you and be here for you as long as you need me, even if I do have to use this laptop computer and deal with a little red tape and, yes, reduced revenue.  Have you seen what I'm driving.  I think I can stand the slight financial inconvenience to care for loyal, longtime patients like you."

Nope, she didn't say anything like that.  I still can't believe I misread those earlier signs of approaching detachment.  Since that rather abrupt, "See 'ya" visit, I have noticed some other signs, though.  Like the physicians' Hippocratic oath:

"I will remember that I do not treat a fever chart, a cancerous growth, but a sick human being, whose illness may affect the person's family and economic stability. My responsibility includes these related problems, if I am to care adequately for the sick."

A couple of my friends have mentioned something like, "It's nothing personal.  It's just business."

Really?  Does "care for a patient" merely mean reading medical charts and graphs, taking X-rays and prescribing pills?  Just business refers to my banker, or the cashier at the grocery store who barely even looks up at customers these days.

I think not.  Our personal care physician takes our blood, asks us what's going on and treats us, dammit, physically and sometimes a little mentally as well.  "You've gained a little weight since your last visit.  Is something bothering you?  Is everything all right?"

And, excuse me, doctor, but I'd like to point out one more paragraph from the Hippocratic oath, which, by the way, is not the Hypocritic oath:

"I will remember that there is art to medicine as well as science, and that warmth, sympathy, and understanding may outweigh the surgeon's knife or the chemist's drug."

It has never ceased to amaze me that even those a decade or so younger than people of Medicare age seem to have no notion that they, too, will soon be considered too old to be taken seriously in many areas or even given equal medical consideration.  

It's coming, doctor, quicker than you realize.  May you be treated more respectfully and with more caring consideration when your time comes.

Yes, my doctor broke up with me today.  Sadly, she left me for a younger patient.

I'm not litigious, generally.  But I am thinking about demanding illimony.

03 September 2014

At the movies: 2025

Theater350r
(Courtesy: aprillynnescott.com)

Let's begin our not-too-distant future visit to the neighborhood movie gigaplex in the parking lot.

What's a gigaplex?

Oh you silly people still stuck in the early 21st century.  Movie gigaplexes have 100 screens, of course.

Now, back to the parking lot.  No need to worry about how far away from the building you park.  That's so old learning dome.  The theater will send a personal pod for you and your guests.  Just find a parking space, glance at the button on the dash marked PI (Plug in), and your car will be all charged up when the pod returns you.

I like the pods.  Just take two or three steps from your car into the pod and those are the last steps you need to take before you return to your car.

That's right, no stopping at the ticket booth, concession stand or even, ahem, the restroom.  All of that is taken care of right there in the pod, which, when landed and locked-in-place, becomes your couch-away-from-couch.  I don't want to say too much about how the restroom-stop problem has been solved.  Just know this, catheters will soon be greatly improved.

And did I mention that movies are pet friendly now?  Sure, bring Astro along.  Each pod comes with invisible sound mufflers so your dog -- or dogs for those so-minded -- can enjoy popular movies like Guardians of the Galaxy:  Yet Another Sequel or Richard Linklater's eclectic favorite Grandpahood right along with the family.  It's all included with any $109.99 adult ticket.  That's only $107.99 for seniors, children under 3 and military (Our side only, please).

Once your pod is locked and loaded, concessions like Blast Off, the instant energy caffeine drink equal to three full pots of coffee, or Milk Duds arrive in your armrest automatically.  Yes, Milk Duds are still around but they now come in three varieties:  Melt in Your Mouth, Extra-Soft or Regular, still the favorite movie candy of dentists everywhere.

Theater300l
(Courtesy: tribecafilm.com)

Oh, here's a couple of things a little different than they used to be at the movies.  Talking is encouraged.  In fact, the louder the better.  Most people shout out how many likes they have on Bobybook (It's about so much more than just the Face these days).

And wristcomms -- once called cellphones -- are left on at all times in movie houses now.  That announcement comes right after President Bieber's safe driving plea to drivers 11 and younger and Vice President Jenna Bush Hager's Previews of Coming Tweets.

Goody, that includes Social Media.  That's what we've come to see.  

The 200-by-90-foot screen is filled with Tweets from us, you, the neighbors, celebrities (including any, let's just say, risque photos they tried to protect, but couldn't), world leaders and drone pilots safely ensconced on leather sofas in Washington bunkers bombing the heck out of undesirables (definition to come when President Bieber and his cabinet figure it out).

This is so much more fun now that privacy rules have been voted out by the TMZ-controlled Congress.  People can now post whatever they like and it's out there for the world to see.  Of course the fact that due to worldwide giga-use Twitter now limits each tweet to six digits, there is a bit of sameness to the futuristic movie-going experience.

As a theater full of people scream out their Bobybook like totals and wristcomms light up the auditorium enough for me to see the corpse-like pallor on hundreds of chubby faces slurping down caffeine and inhaling Milk Duds, here's what I'm looking at on a giant movie screen:

Wh up?  N much ... Wh up?  N much ... Wh up?  N much ... Wh up?  N much ... Wh up?  N much ... Wh up?  N much ... Wh up?  N much ... Wh up?  N much ... Wh up?  N much ...

Sweet.

19 August 2014

Please say they're kidding

China300r
(Courtesy: rixbury.com)

I've seen a lot of strange things going on in the semi-dark of movie theaters over the years.

There's been no shortage of smuggled-in food, of course.  Nothing dilutes a gripping drama more than whiff's of store-bought chicken livers and gravy when Meryl Streep is bringing tears to our eyes.  And who among us hasn't had to lift up their feet to dodge a soft drink bottle careening down slope to eventually crash at the front of the theater?

I could go on and on, but there's breaking big screen news that must be shared.

The Hollywood Reporter is reporting that movie houses in China are testing a system that allows movie-goers not only to text during the movie but -- are you ready? -- the text messages actually show up on the movie screen right along with the feature.

"The inspiration behind the idea appears to be that it mimics that of watching a movie on mobile media, which is how most Chinese people watch films, with people sending messages about what they like or dislike about the movie.

"In a censored environment like China, precautions are taken to remove sensitive or forbidden words," the Hollywood Reporter article states.

The ultimate selfie?  Maybe.  I just know it's one more reason you'll probably never see me taking in a movie in China.

Farewell to the great Robin Williams

Robin285l
(Courtesy: chicagoreader.com)

"No words."

That's all Billy Crystal, Robin Williams' good friend and fellow acclaimed comic performer, could Tweet Monday, Aug. 11 as word of Williams death, an "apparent suicide" according to news reports, spread with the same raging fire that propelled a comic genius -- yes, a genius -- to world stardom and, apparently, unbearable depths of depression.

I have words, a few at least, to say or, more correctly, to expel from my deeply saddened state.  Perhaps they might, if only a little, ease some of the kick-in-the-gut sting felt by Williams' survivors, which includes family and friends, of course, but also anyone, including this scribe, who smiles when he or she hears the bellowed phrase "Good m-o-r-n-i-n-g Vietnam!" or conjures up the image of Mrs. Doubtfire (Williams in drag) setting her breasts on fire in the kitchen.

I knew Robin Williams about as well as any road warrior film critic who, over three decades or so, sat down with the almost always manic comic tsunami for short spurts at a time to discuss his latest movie.

Often, the interviews would be what's known in the industry as "round-table" interviews.   Five, six or seven film critics or entertainment reporters sit around a round table in a hotel suite usually in Los Angeles or New York.  The "talent" enters the room and takes the empty chair at the table and chats up the movie for 30 to 40 minutes; responding to mostly softball questions.

On one occasion, which looking back might have been one of Williams' tough days in his continuing battle against substance abuse and/or depression, the master rapid-fire comedian was, let's just say, melancholy.

In a situation where press members around a table often have to verbally joust to get their question in, moments of silence were creeping in between questions to Williams.  I found myself sitting right next to Williams that day.  He was fighting the good fight to keep the banter coming, which obviously most of my fellow journalists expected.  But Robin Williams just wasn't feeling it that day.

"Carpe Diem.  Seize the day, boys," Williams said as college professor John Keating in his Oscar-nominated performance in Dead Poets Society in 1989. 

So I did.  I asked Williams where his rapid-fire comic one-liners come from and how they ignite.

"I don't really know," he said quietly.  "It's almost like my head opens up and my brain is an antenna.  Signals from outer-space fill my brain.  I just let them out."

And let them out, he did.  Brilliantly, in fact, for a lot of years.

Laughing on the outside/crying on the inside.  That classic description of a clown is too trite and too simple to explain the high highs, the low lows and the inner turmoil that Williams must have been channeling, along with his ongoing battle with horned demons of alcohol and substance abuse.

Some words:  You left us, Robin, for reasons we may never know but you, obviously, knew all too well.  Many of us, including your peers like Billy Crystal and Steve Martin, are stunned and speechless.  All I can say is that you left a very deep imprint on this place you have recently departed. 

R.I.P.:  Rockin' Robin.  Perhaps the marquee at the Hollywood Laugh Factory summed it up best for all of us Monday night.

Marquee400
(Courtesy: foxnews.com)

12 August 2014

Remembering Rockin' Robin

Robin340l
Robin Williams (Courtesy: chicagoreader.com)

"No words."

That's all Billy Crystal, Robin Williams' good friend and fellow acclaimed comic performer, could Tweet Monday, as word of Williams death, an "apparent suicide" according to news reports, spread with the same raging fire that propelled a comic genius -- yes, a genius -- to world stardom and, apparently, unbearable depths of depression.

I have words, a few at least, to say or, more correctly, to expel from my deeply saddened state.  Perhaps they might, if only a little, ease some of the kick-in-the-gut sting felt by Williams' survivors, which includes family and friends, of course, but also anyone, including this scribe, who smiles when he or she hears the bellowed phrase "Good m-o-r-n-i-n-g Vietnam!" or conjures up the image of Mrs. Doubtfire (Williams in drag) setting her breasts on fire in the kitchen.

I knew Robin Williams about as well as any road warrior film critic who, over three decades or so, sat down with the almost always manic comic tsunami for short spurts at a time to discuss his latest movie.

Often, the interviews would be what's known in the industry as "round-table" interviews.   Five, six or seven film critics or entertainment reporters sit around a round table in a hotel suite usually in Los Angeles or New York.  The "talent" enters the room and takes the empty chair at the table and chats up the movie for 30 to 40 minutes; responding to mostly softball questions.

On one occasion, which looking back might have been one of Williams' tough days in his continuing battle against substance abuse and/or depression, the master rapid-fire comedian was, let's just say, melancholy.

In a situation where press members around a table often have to verbally joust to get their question in, moments of silence were creeping in between questions to Williams.  I found myself sitting right next to Williams that day.  He was fighting the good fight to keep the banter coming, which obviously most of my fellow journalists expected.  But Robin Williams just wasn't feeling it that day.

"Carpe Diem.  Seize the day, boys," Williams said as college professor John Keating in his Oscar-nominated performance in Dead Poets Society in 1989. 

So I did.  I asked Williams where his rapid-fire comic one-liners come from and how they ignite.

"I don't really know," he said quietly.  "It's almost like my head opens up and my brain is an antenna.  Signals from outer-space fill my brain.  I just let them out."

And let them out, he did.  Brilliantly, in fact, for a lot of years.

Laughing on the outside/crying on the inside.  That classic description of a clown is too trite and too simple to explain the high highs, the low lows and the inner turmoil that Williams must have been channeling, along with his ongoing battle with horned demons of alcohol and substance abuse.

Some words:  You left us, Robin, for reasons we may never know but you, obviously, knew all too well.  Many of us, including your peers like Billy Crystal and Steve Martin, are stunned and speechless.  All I can say is that you left a very deep imprint on this place you have recently departed. 

R.I.P.:  Rockin' Robin.  Perhaps the marquee at the Hollywood Laugh Factory summed it up best for all of us Monday night.

Marquee400
(Courtesy: foxnews.com)



06 August 2014

Who we gonna call ... ladies?

Ghostbusters320r
(Courtesy: hollywoodreporter.com)

Could Sony be about ready to pull the trigger on a Ghostbusters sequel with women out front as characters made famous by Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd and the late Harold Ramis, who died earlier this year?

According to a Hollywood Reporter article, "Sony wants to launch a female-led reboot of Ghostbusters from Bridesmaids director Paul Feig."

And that's not all:

"Two days later, the studio said it is targeting 2017 for a woman superhero film set in the Spider-Man universe. Marvel Studios, whose Guardians of the Galaxy lured a 44 percent-female audience on opening weekend (the biggest share of any Marvel film) is said to be close to greenlighting a Black Widow pic for Scarlett Johansson. And The Expendables producer Avi Lerner said Aug. 4 he wants to shoot a female spin-off Expendabelles in 2015 (Sylvester Stallone says he wants Sigourney Weaver to star)," the article states.

Not only do I love the tentative spin-off title Expendabelles, I can see Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy and Maya Rudolph as Ghostbusters.  What about you?

It's scandalous, I tell you!

Monroe300
(Marilyn Monroe image courtesy: deviantart.net)

"It is the public scandal that offends; to sin in secret is no sin at all."

That may have been true when French playwright Molière offered his opinion in the 17th century.
 
That, however, was before today's "reality" shows on TV, which more and more seem to involve "contestants" in some state of undress or out-and-out nude (either looking for a wild berry lunch or poking a dead animal with a stick).  A popular ABC network TV drama even slices right through the dramatic nuance and titles itself Scandal.
 
That's scandalous, right?  Well, probably, but what's going on on television these days has nothing on what has gone on in Hollywood -- at least partially behind the scenes -- for decades.
 
I don't often jump up on a soapbox in this space, but I have two things to say about driving scandalous material like a revved-up speedboat to get ratings or for quick profit:
 
No. 1:  How dare them, and harumph!
 
No. 2:  Don't miss "Hollywood's Hot Movie Scandals," just one of my new Movie Memories presentations available for booking starting now.
 
You may think the juicy exploits of fictional scandalous folks on TV and the latest almost-non outfit flaunted about by hiney-slinging young semi-singers are bad.  Well, you'd be right about that.  And by the way, don't sue me, Miley Cyrus.  Of course I wasn't referring to you.
 
"Hollywood's Hot Movie Scandals" dives right into real dirt; turning over some rocks and turning the spotlight on questions like:
 
Was Marilyn Monroe married to the mob?  Did screen goddess Lana Turner kill a guy?  What about silent film star Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle?  What really happened at a party in San Francisco where a young woman died?
 
And, perhaps you didn't know that the great Ingrid Bergman was once denounced on the floor of the U.S. Senate.
 
We'll cover all of that and more in "Hollywood's Hot Movie Scandals."
 
And since it's hot, the newest Movie Memories presentation deserves a special hot offer.  So here it is:  The first 10 groups that book "Hollywood's Hot Movie Scandals" between now and Aug. 15 will get a $25 discount. 
 
Hurry, though, you must book by Aug. 15 to take advantage of this special offer.  And please remember that this offer is limited to the first 10 bookingsSo call 214-364-7364 today!
 
By the way, check out our other new presentations, "Big Screen Dysfunctional Families," "Marlon Brando:  The Man Behind the Icon" and others, by clicking on the Presentations link here or above.

Sandra Bullock turns the big 5-0

Bullock300l
(Courtesy: www.yami-online.com)
The first time I met and interviewed Sandra Bullock she offered me a cookie.  And not just any cookie.
 
"Would you like a biscotti?" And she didn't say it like a prissy movie star who was too good for an Oreo or a Fig Newton, either.  Somehow when Bullock offered the twice-baked elongated Italian bread-like cookie, it was like she had just baked them in her own oven, which just happened to be in the house next door to mine.  And yours and everyone else in the U.S. of A.
 
Ms. Bullock, now an Oscar-winner for her tumbling, lost-in-space turn in Gravity last year, has had one of those birthdays with a zero in it.  In the old days -- say, oh, 10 years ago -- that might be it for a leading lady.
 
Meryl Streep, Bullock and others have shattered that glass ceiling to smithereens, though.  CNN.com recently posted a photo essay tribute to Bullock's hits and misses over her substantial career.  Click this link to take a visual trip through Bullock's hits and misses.
 
Oddly enough, though, the CNN folks left out Speed, the runaway 1994 hit that propelled America's cinematic sweetheart to fame.
 
If I remember correctly, my interview with Ms. Bullock for Speed is also where I enjoyed my first biscotti.

Trivial trivia, or games people play

Caesar300l
Rico (Edward G. Robinson) is gunning for trouble in "Little Caesar." (www.dailyfilmdose.com)
What better way to while away a little time, perhaps when the boss is away on one of those extended lunches, than with trivial pursuits, especially when they bring back classic movie memories.
 
That's why we've come up with the Movie Memories Movie Quote Quiz.  Check out our Movie Memories Facebook page (www.facebook.com/moviememories) or Twitter page (@moviememories1) every weekday for a snapply little cinematic brain teaser.  They range from the rediculously easy like "Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn" from Gone With the Wind to classic quotes that present a little more of a challenge.
 
On Tuesday (July 29), for instance, former Dallas Morning News film critic Philip Wuntch remembered that it was Edward G. Robinson as "Rico" Bandello who said, "Mother of mercy, is this the end of Rico?" in the gangster classic Little Caesar (1930).
 
So, when you can spare a minute, give our little Movie Quote Quiz a try.  It's fun.  You might know more than you think you know.  To be fair, though, we ask that you work from memory only, and don't peek at the answer.  And, perhaps most importantly, no wagering.  Good luck!

29 July 2014

Getting a handle on scandal

HollywoodScandal320r
Marilyn Monroe photo courtesy: www.murdermystery.com.au
"It is the public scandal that offends; to sin in secret is no sin at all."
 
That may have been true when French playwright Molière offered his opinion in the 17th century.
 
That, however, was before today's "reality" shows on TV, which more and more seem to involve "contestants" in some state of undress or out-and-out nude (either looking for a wild berry lunch or poking a dead animal with a stick).  A popular ABC network TV drama even slices right through the dramatic nuance and titles itself Scandal.
 
That's scandalous, right?  Well, probably, but what's going on on television these days has nothing on what has gone on in Hollywood -- at least partially behind the scenes -- for decades.
 
I don't often jump up on a soapbox in this space, but I have two things to say about driving scandalous material like a revved-up speedboat to get ratings or for quick profit:
 
No. 1:  How dare them, and harumph!
 
No. 2:  Don't miss "Hollywood's Hot Movie Scandals," just one of my new Movie Memories presentations available for booking starting now.
 
You may think the juicy exploits of fictional scandalous folks on TV and the latest almost-non outfit flaunted about by hiney-slinging young semi-singers are bad.  Well, you'd be right about that.  And by the way, don't sue me, Miley Cyrus.  Of course I wasn't referring to you.
 
"Hollywood's Hot Movie Scandals" dives right into real dirt; turning over some rocks and turning the spotlight on questions like:
 
Was Marilyn Monroe married to the mob?  Did screen goddess Lana Turner kill a guy?  What about silent film star Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle?  What really happened at a party in San Francisco where a young woman died?
 
And, perhaps you didn't know that the great Ingrid Bergman was once denounced on the floor of the U.S. Senate.
 
We'll cover all of that and more in "Hollywood's Hot Movie Scandals."
 
And since it's hot, the newest Movie Memories presentation deserves a special hot offer.  So here it is:  The first 10 groups that book "Hollywood's Hot Movie Scandals" between now and Aug. 15 will get a $25 discount. 
 
Hurry, though, you must book by Aug. 15 to take advantage of this special offer.  And please remember that this offer is limited to the first 10 bookingsSo call 214-364-7364 today!
 
By the way, check out our other new presentations, "Big Screen Dysfunctional Families," "Marlon Brando:  The Man Behind the Icon" and others, by clicking on the Presentations link here or above.
 

Sandra Bullock turns the big 5-0

 

Bullock300l
(Courtesy: www.yami-online.com)
The first time I met and interviewed Sandra Bullock she offered me a cookie.  And not just any cookie.
 
"Would you like a biscotti?" And she didn't say it like a prissy movie star who was too good for an Oreo or a Fig Newton, either.  Somehow when Bullock offered the twice-baked elongated Italian bread-like cookie, it was like she had just baked them in her own oven, which just happened to be in the house next door to mine.  And yours and everyone else in the U.S. of A.
 
Ms. Bullock, now an Oscar-winner for her tumbling, lost-in-space turn in Gravity last year, has had one of those birthdays with a zero in it.  In the old days -- say, oh, 10 years ago -- that might be it for a leading lady.
 
Meryl Streep, Bullock and others have shattered that glass ceiling to smithereens, though.  CNN.com recently posted a photo essay tribute to Bullock's hits and misses over her substantial career.  Click this link to take a visual trip through Bullock's hits and misses.
 
Oddly enough, though, the CNN folks left out Speed, the runaway 1994 hit that propelled America's cinematic sweetheart to fame.
 
If I remember correctly, my interview with Ms. Bullock for Speed is also where I enjoyed my first biscotti.
 

Trivial trivia, or games people play

 

Caesar300l
Rico (Edward G. Robinson) is gunning for trouble in "Little Caesar." (www.dailyfilmdose.com)
What better way to while away a little time, perhaps when the boss is away on one of those extended lunches, than with trivial pursuits, especially when they bring back classic movie memories.
 
That's why we've come up with the Movie Memories Movie Quote Quiz.  Check out our Movie Memories Facebook page (www.facebook.com/moviememories) or Twitter page (@moviememories1) every weekday for a snapply little cinematic brain teaser.  They range from the rediculously easy like "Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn" from Gone With the Wind to classic quotes that present a little more of a challenge.
 
On Tuesday (July 29), for instance, former Dallas Morning News film critic Philip Wuntch remembered that it was Edward G. Robinson as "Rico" Bandello who said, "Mother of mercy, is this the end of Rico?" in the gangster classic Little Caesar (1930).
 
So, when you can spare a minute, give our little Movie Quote Quiz a try.  It's fun.  You might know more than you think you know.  To be fair, though, we ask that you work from memory only, and don't peek at the answer.  And, perhaps most importantly, no wagering.  Good luck!

15 July 2014

Honoring our veterans every day

SaluteWarMovies300It should go without saying, but we don't need a holiday to salute our vets.

I was honored Monday afternoon to share what I consider great war movies with the residents of Edgemere Retirement Community in Dallas.

There were veterans and widows of veterans in the audience for my "Salute to the Great War Movies" presentation. It was just a Monday ... just a Monday to say thank you again to all those who have served their nation so bravely.

We covered 13 war movies from the silent World War I classic Wings to the Vietnam saga Apocalypse Now. One of the most popular, however, was Steven Spielberg's Saving Private Ryan.

Oh no, not 'Dumbo,' too!

Dumbo350r
(Walt Disney Productions)

That noise you may be hearing today might just be Walt Disney spinning in his cremation urn.

According to an article published on the Hollywood Reporter website, Disney has a live-action Dumbo reboot in the works.

I'm not sure how you feel about that, but from this aisle seat it's almost as bad as saying there's a remake of Casablanca in the works with Channing Tatum taking over the Humphrey Bogart role of Rick and Kim Kardashian as teary-eyed Ilsa, played by Ingrid Bergman.

"This is the latest classic animated title that Disney is turning into a live-action movie, and it’s a strategy that has paid off: Maleficent, the most recent example, is a re-imagining of the 1959 movie Sleeping Beauty and has grossed more than $630 million worldwide since its May 30 release. The granddaddy of them all is the Johnny Depp version of Alice in Wonderland, which has earned more than $1 billion," the Hollywood Reporter article states.

No word yet when the live-action Dumbo will debut.  I'm thinking the timing may have something to do with finding a lovable baby elephant with giant floppy ears that can fly and -- here's the tough part -- cry on demand.

09 July 2014

Oh no, not 'Dumbo' too!

Dumbo350r
(Walt Disney Productions)

That noise you may be hearing today might just be Walt Disney spinning in his cremation urn.

According to an article published on the Hollywood Reporter website, Disney has a live-action Dumbo reboot in the works.

I'm not sure how you feel about that, but from this aisle seat it's almost as bad as saying there's a remake of Casablanca in the works with Channing Tatum taking over the Humphrey Bogart role of Rick and Kim Kardashian as teary-eyed Ilsa, played by Ingrid Bergman.

"This is the latest classic animated title that Disney is turning into a live-action movie, and it’s a strategy that has paid off: Maleficent, the most recent example, is a re-imagining of the 1959 movie Sleeping Beauty and has grossed more than $630 million worldwide since its May 30 release. The granddaddy of them all is the Johnny Depp version of Alice in Wonderland, which has earned more than $1 billion," the Hollywood Reporter article states.

No word yet when the live-action Dumbo will debut.  I'm thinking the timing may have something to do with finding a lovable baby elephant with giant floppy ears that can fly and -- here's the tough part -- cry on demand.

'Tammy's' bad B.O.

Tammy320r
Melissa McCarthy's starring vehicle "Tammy" is hitting some box-office potholes. (Warner Bros.)

You think you've got problems?

Well, maybe you do, but you'll have to go some to beat the Hollywood pity party that some of the major movie studios have going on following the disappointing weekend B.O.; box-office that is.

According to an article posted on the Hollywood Reporter website, historic lows were reported over the long Fourth of July weekend.  Tammy, the R-rated lowbrow comedy teaming Melissa McCarthy and Susan Sarandon, led the downer derby with a weekend gross of only $32.9 million, says the Hollywood Reporter article.

"Revenue for Fourth of July weekend hit only $130 million, down 44 percent from last year's $229.8 million haul and the lowest in 16 years. Granted, the holiday fell on a Friday this year — a disadvantage — but revenue managed to reach $160.2 million in 2008, the last time the Fourth was a Friday. One reason for the dramatic downturn is that no big tentpole rolled out, probably because no one wanted to open in the wake of Transformers: Age of Extinction, which debuted June 27," the article stated.

Oh boo hoo.  Here's an idea:  Make better movies.  Want more advice?  Come up with some fresh franchises and discontinue the embarrassing practice of extending and/or remaking worn out franchises like Spider-man, Batman, Transformers and the like.

The new Senior Voice is here!

SeniorV220lThere's good news for those of us who have already passed 50 without slowing down or collecting $200.

The Senior Voice newspaper is in news racks all over the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex.  Editor/publisher Carol Butler has put together a great July-August issue, which includes a terrific article on Fort Worth screenwriter James V. Hart.  (Here's the link.)

If you're curious about the movies I'm looking forward to during the next couple of months, check out my Getting Reel movie column on Page 12, or click this link.

Oh, and if you get a little confused and concerned when you get to the part where I'm really looking forward to Tammy starring Melissa McCarthy, shoot me an email (MovieMemories@verizon.net) and I'll be glad to explain how long-distance deadlines work.

Pedal pushers -- Tour de film

Breaking320r
Dennis Christopher in "Breaking Away." (20th Century Fox)

Every year about this time the winding, hilly streets of France are filled with finely tuned bodies swooshing by in colorful spandex giving their all in an attempt to win the Tour de France.

I must admit that cycling is not my usual sport of choice.  What I really enjoy, though, is how the streets of U.S. towns and cities fill (especially early on Saturday mornings) with not so finely tuned bodies stretching their brightly colored spandex to the stitch-splitting max celebrating the Tour de France vicariously.

You may be asking.  What about us movie-lovers, though?  How are we supposed to glorify the thrill of pedal-to-pedal competition?

Hey, bike off.  I've got you covered.

Although Breaking Away (1979) isn't about the Tour de France as such.  It is about cycling ... and so much more.  Dennis Christopher heads the cast as a lonely recent high school grad living in the college town of Bloomington, Ind.  A college co-ed catches his eye and he poses as an Italian -- an Italian cyclist, that is -- to try to win her affections.

A very young Dennis Quaid, Daniel Stern and San Antonian Jackie Earle Haley round out the cast, along with Barbara Barrie, Paul Dooley and Robyn Douglass as Katherine, the object of Dave's (Christopher) affection.

I saw five or six grizzled salesmen (who should have been working) stand up and cheer the exciting finish (a bicycle race, of course) when I first saw Breaking Away in a Dallas movie house in 1979.

Check it out in the spirit of the Tour de France.  If you don't stand up and cheer, I guarantee that at the very least it will cheer you up.