December 28th, 2019

Cinema Dave  Swashbuckling ournalist and

Captain Marvel or Episode 21 of the Marvel Comic Universe Infinity Saga

Captain Marvel has become the biggest grossing film of 2019 thus far, topping How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World and Glass. This is the penultimate episode leading into the April 26 release of Avengers: Endgame, the climax of 11 years of Marvel movies.

Though an original story, Captain Marvel is filled with many Marvel Easter eggs, motifs and details that will reward the patrons of the late Stan Lee. In fact, the film opens with a beautiful tribute to Stan “the Man” Lee, who created so many of the Marvel Comic superheroes who have struck box office gold.

The film opens when Vers (Brie Larson) and Yon-Rogg (Jude Law) are on a mission to infiltrate the Skulls. Leading up to this mission, Vers has flashbacks involving American fighter jets and an older woman (Annette Bening). When the mission goes haywire, Vers crash lands on planet Earth, circa 1990s.

After a confusing and convoluted opening, Captain Marvel settles into familiar territory, in which Vers meets S.H.I.E.L.D. Representative Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) and Agent Coulson (Gregg Clark). Vers learns that she is actually Carol Danvers, an Air Force aviator who is best friends with Maria Rambeau (Lashana Lynch) and the old woman in her dreams is actually her commanding officer, Doctor Wendy Lawson.

Once the characters are established, Captain Marvel moves at a pretty brisk pace. Unlike the serious nature of the recent Avengers and Captain America movies, the emphasis is on fun, much like the recent Thor, Ant-Man and Doctor Strange movies. Like these previously mentioned Marvel movies, this film succeeds as a standalone movie.

Being a comic book movie, it is filled with many visual big screen treats — the bigger the screen, the better [Head to IMAX in Ft. Lauderdale to see it on the six-storey screen] — that feature computerized special effects and practical stunt work. Yet, it is the character interaction that makes these movies special. While Danvers has a nice reunion with Rambeau and her daughter, it is the relationship between Nick Fury and Goose the Ferkel (who looks like a nice cat) that many ticket purchasers are talking about.

Being the 21st film of the Marvel Comic Universe, Captain Marvel is the final piece of the puzzle that will culminate with Avengers: Endgame opening April 29. This is a unique time for the movies, for this summer may be the swan song of the big screen motion picture experience.

Cinema Dave  Swashbuckling ournalist and

"To Dust" Love through decay

As much as this writer loves his monster movies and spends his Saturday nights watching Svengoolie on MeTV, I’ve never watched an episode of Six Feet Under, a cable series about a funeral home run by a family. The actual science and business of this practical business is more likely to give me nightmares, compared to watching legends like Vincent Price and scream queen Linnea Quigley roaming the graveyards in search of flesh and brains.

To Dust opens this weekend and is a comedy/drama about death and decomposition. As expected, this is a serious and sad movie. Yet, for those in the medical profession with a dark sense of humor, To Dust is a movie for you.

The film opens with the sound of labored breathing with a respiratory machine. When the breathing and machine stops, the husband Shmuel (Geza Rohring) cuts his coat in grief [as per Jewish custom]. As the hospital staff begins the purification rites, Shumuel questions his wife’s soul and current state of pain.

Shumuel seeks answers through science. After attempting to find answers through higher level learning at university centers, Shumuel decides to pick the brain of a high school science teacher named Albert (Matthew Broderick). Reluctant at first, Albert gets involved in the study of bodily decomposition as if he were trying to win the school’s science fair.

With echoes of Stephen King’s Pet Sematary, Albert and Shmuel’s pursuit of science takes them from one bizarre situation to another. Despite being a Kosher Cantor, Shmuel uses the corpse of a pig to determine the actual time of bodily composition, since a pig’s anatomy is similar to that of a human [pork is not kosher].

To Dust is filled with many of these contradictory scenes of the human condition. When a classic black & white monster movie plays on a television at Albert’s house, that somehow feels normal. These little details offset the gruesome subject, making To Dust a humane film in the long run.

As the blockbuster release of Captain Marvel has been revealed, the summer box office blockbuster is fast upon us, with Dumbo set to open at the end of this month. Unique films like To Dust, The Last Resort and Heading Home: The Tale of Team Israel will likely be pushed aside. See these unique films on the big screen when you get a chance.
Cinema Dave  Swashbuckling ournalist and

Rondo Hatton Lives On.....




With the Oscar winners announced, Green Book enjoyed a noticeable bump at the box office and the positive word of mouth is likely to fill theater seats for people who cannot get seats for Captain Marvel, A Medea Family Funeral or How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World. While the mainstream awards season is taking a break until the Tony Awards in June, people who are not members of the Academy, American Film Institute and actor or trade guilds/unions, can vote in the 17th Annual Rondo Hatton Award. Vote at www.rondoaward.com.

Established in 2002 by David Colton and Kerry Gammill, The Rondo Hatton Awards was one of the earliest collections of World Wide Web fan sites and the growth of the convention circuit. Oscar-winning director Guillermo Del Toro has been quoted that he would rather win a Rondo than an Oscar. Fortunately for Del Toro, the writer/director/producer has both.

With no surprise, Halloween and The Nun (both now on DVD) are two films that are nominated for the coveted “Best Film of 2018” in a crowded field of 15 nominations.

Halloween was the most hyped horror movie of 2018. Jamie Lee Curtis returned to the role of Laurie Strode, in a role that made Curtis famous 40 years ago. With John Carpenter returning as a producer/creative consultant, this Halloween exorcised seven Halloween sequels and the two Rob Zombie reboots. Instead, this film focuses on a showdown between a grandmother and the boogeyman who harassed her in 1978.

Young Director David Gordon Green does a great job setting up the conflict with creepy cinematography and a good performance by Curtis. However, the film falters during the much-awaited climax that features poor survival decisions by our heroine. Without meaning to, this Halloween becomes a version of Home Alone, minus the sense of humor.

The Nun is part of the horror universe created by James Wan and has been represented by the The Conjuring and Annabelle movies. Set in war torn Romania, circa 1952, The Nun does a fine job setting up the atmosphere recreating the Gothic world of Vladimir Dracula the Impaler. Alas, like Halloween, the climax does not live up to the build-up that went before. For Monster Mavens, there are 13 other “Best Film” choices to choose from by the April 20 due date.



So who is Rondo Hatton? The Hollywood publicity machine described Rondo as a man so ugly that he needed no make-up [to be in monster movies]. Rondo did appear in many mainstream motion pictures, mostly as a bit player in classics like The Ox Bow Incident or The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Rondo became a certified movie star as “The Hoxton Creeper” in the Sherlock Holmes film The Pearl of Death, which led to his featured films House of Horrors and The Brute Man.

At the height of his career, Rondo died of a broken heart on Groundhog Day, 1946.

Like Richard Kiel, Andre the Giant and Irwin Keyes, Rondo really died from the complications from acromegaly, a disorder from one’s growth hormone. It is the acromegaly that distorted Rondo’s jawbone and gave him such gaunt features.

Like any monster legend, there are many folk tales that grew from Rondo’s malady. Having served in World War I, the Hollywood publicity machine claimed that Rondo was a victim of a German mustard gas attack. It is a fact that Rondo Hatton did serve (possibly with my Grandfather Dave Glen Watson) in World War I and aided the Pancho Villa Expedition under General Pershing. A Christian all of his life, Rondo is interred in the American Legion Cemetery in Tampa, his adopted hometown where he served as a sports writer for the The Tampa Tribune.

Cinema Dave  Swashbuckling ournalist and

Green Book: Blues School Certified



Green Book ended up winning Best Picture at The Oscars. Inspired by a true story about a relevant topic, this film has been met with controversy from members of the Don Shirley family [who is portrayed in the film]. On the other hand, the Vallelonga family endorsed the film, for many of the family members are seen onscreen in Green Book. Regardless, the film is a fun motion picture and is a worthy addition to the Blues School canon of films.

The film opens in an epic style at the Copacabana Nightclub, circa 1962. While Bobby Rydell sings “That Old Black Magic,” bouncer Tony Vallelonga, alias Tony Lip (Viggo Mortensen) is forced to eject an unruly patron, who happens to be a made member of the mafia. To avoid escalating the situation, the Copacabana Club closes for “renovations.” Tony is forced to seek alternative income until the club reopens.

With plans to tour in the midwest and the deep south, Jazz pianist Don Shirley (Mahershala Ali) hires Tony Lip as a driver, who has a reputation for fast talking people out of trouble. These skills will be needed as the “Don Shirley Trio” drive through the segregated south, where white members of the band are forced to sleep in separate hotels. The star of the show, Don Shirley, is forced to stay in grubby hotels only listed in the “Green Book.”



Racism, bigotry and prejudice are the major themes of this film. Fortunately, humor is used to diffuse potentially explosive situations, which is much in the style of Tony Lip. The first half of the story deals with the behavior differences between these two strong individuals, between a dreamer and a pragmatist. Despite these cultural differences, trust is earned and the two men forge a bond that leads to a satisfying conclusion.

One would think that with credits like Dumb and Dumber, There’s Something About Mary and The Three Stooges, a director like Peter Farrelly would not have the sensitivity to create a film like Green Book. However, good comedy is based on truth and that is what makes Green Book a success. When you review Peter Farrelly’s movies (sometimes co-directed & co-written by his brother Bobby), you can see sensitivity even within some comic gross-out scenes. (There are no comic gross-out scenes in Green Book).

One perfect scene stands out for its story progress, character development and sensitive humor. Having never departed the state of New York, Tony is awestruck by an actual Kentucky Fried Chicken in Kentucky. Don is not impressed, but Tony coaxes his boss to eat fried chicken. After getting over the crudity of eating without a knife and fork, Don gingerly bites into this American delicacy with new rapture. After the climax of this scene, one knows that Tony Vallelonga and Don Shirley will be friends for life.

With an outstanding movie soundtrack, the details of Green Book feel authentic. This will be a film that will be in regular rotation on the television screen for many years. It is a fun road trip for people who are looking to be entertained.

Cinema Dave  Swashbuckling ournalist and

"Artic" - Mads homage to Buster

Artic opens this weekend. While this movie is only 97 minutes long, it will feel longer, like a good Sir David Lean epic, such as Lawrence of Arabia and Doctor Zhivago. It is a simple story about man in conflict with nature, but the wide screen cinematography creates an intimate relationship between the ticket buyer and the big screen.

The film opens with Overgard (Mads Mikkelsen) shoveling snow. When the task is finished, the camera pans back and reveals the distress words “SOS.” Overgard walks back to his crashed airplane, checks his equipment and then catches some fish for dinner. After some bed rest, it is the return to his routine of checking his equipment and catching fish.

When the rescue helicopter crashes, Overgard is burdened with the extra responsibility of saving a comatose survivor. Should Overgard maintain the comforts of his survivor camp or venture forward and rescue himself and the survivor with a wound infection?

The results are painful, stressful and ultimately life affirming. There are tantalizing moments of suspense that could lead to either despair or triumph. It is only in the last second of this film that the climax is reached. Don’t blink.

Essentially giving a one man performance like Tom Hanks in Cast Away, or Robert Redford in All is Lost, Mikkelsen gives an earnest and endearing portrayal. Best known for portraying the arch enemy of James Bond and Doctor Strange, this Danish actor speaks few words in Artic. Mikkelsen gives a physical performance that draws echoes from the silent cinema of Buster Keaton.
Cinema Dave  Swashbuckling ournalist and

"The Last Resort" from "Miami Nice to Miami Vice"

The Last Resort opens this weekend. This documentary presents the Miami culture that I witnessed when my parents and I moved to South Florida over 45 years ago. While Miami today looks like any theme park in Orlando or Las Vegas, The Last Resort features a bygone people and culture.

When World War II ended, my dad was Honorably Discharged from the U.S. Army Air Corp. He and his brother Paul celebrated by taking a trip to South Florida. While attending the Tropics Nightclub featuring the Tony Pastor orchestra, my dad met my mom and the rest is history.

The Last Resort begins its history discussing the advent of air conditioning and how it led to the real estate boom during the post World War II years. Many of the urban dwellers were European Jews who were transplanting from New York, some retirees from garment districts. There was a vivid night life which featured Big Band dances that led comedian Jackie Gleason to relocate his Saturday Night variety show from New York to Miami Beach. By the 1970s, many retirees moved into the hotels and became known as the “porch sitting generation.”

The buildings aged as the population aged. Once glamorous hotels became hovels of smelly incontinence. In 1980, the community became known for the Mariel boatlift and the McDuffie riots, which changed the character of Miami; it was no longer “Mollie Goldberg.” It was now "Scarface."

The visuals of this narrative are provided by the photography of Gary Monroe and Andy Sweet, who tragically become a symbol of the rise and fall of Miami Beach. Andy Sweet captured the glamour of The Last Resort culture, yet saw the seeds of corruption infiltrate his beloved community. On Oct. 6, 1982, Sweet was brutally murdered in an unsolved mystery.

While lacking tact in 1982, Gary Monroe and Florida historians eventually resurrected the photographs to create The Last Resort. By waiting to tell this story, The Last Resort is a better cinematic experience and the story is more solid. This film works as a piece of nostalgia for an older generation, but an important social studies lesson for young people, who can witness how much a culture changes in a short period of time.

As the Oscar nominees quickly make their way to home video market, it has been announced that this year’s Oscar ceremony will have no host and now will present television commercials instead of the technical achievement awards like art direction and cinematography. Beyond a good story and interesting characters, it is the visual technical component that draws ticket buyers to the big cave known as Cinema. When a creative organization loses sight of its own technical details, how much longer will it be for the consumer to lose interest in a creative organization’s product?
Cinema Dave  Swashbuckling ournalist and

Heading Home: The Tale of Team Israel


In the old days when South Florida was the spring break capital of the world, spring training for major league baseball was a big part of our neighborhood. It was quite common to see major league ball players at local restaurants, supermarkets or bars. The Texas Rangers home stadium was Pompano Municipal Stadium. When New York Yankee legend Thurman Munson died in a plane crash in early August 1979, vandals paid tribute to the catcher by rewriting letters to read, “Thurman Munson Stadium.”

Now that spring training has relocated north of Broward County, South Florida lost a sense of generational identity that united families and friends of all ages. Unlike the fast pace of basketball, hockey and football (with the exception of last Sunday’s dull Superbowl), baseball is a slow-paced sport with much downtime. However, it is this “downtime” that invites conversation between bites of peanuts and Cracker Jacks.

Heading Home: The Tale of Team Israel is a reminder how important it is for a sport to unite a community. Famous Jewish Sports Legends was a fictional leaflet that was considered “light reading” for traveler Barbara Billingsley in the 1980 classic comedy Airplane. Acknowledging this stereotype, filmmakers Jeremy Newberger, Daniel A. Miller and Seth Kramer are proud to tell the tale about Team Israel entering their first ever World Baseball Classic, which, much like the World Cup of Soccer, meets every four years and is an international event.

The most prolific player is Cody Decker, who currently plays for the Arizona Diamondbacks. Many of the players are not All Stars and some have retired from the professional game, but the honor to serve Israel is too good to pass up, especially given this historical opportunity.

This documentary follows Team Israel’s adventures in the major cities in Israel, South Korea and Japan.

With David and Goliath overtones, Team Israel is considered an underdog … until they start winning. Sometimes winning becomes humorous. When sore loser Team Cuba loses to upstart Team Israel, a Cuban reporter accuses the Israelis of being Americans in disguise.

With the use of the “Mensch on a Bench Mascot,” there is much humor in the film. The cinematography presents beautiful landscapes of Tel Aviv, the Wishing Bridge and the Dead Sea. Sadly, there are constant reminders that the beauty of the land is under siege from terrorist attacks.

This film opens this weekend at neighborhood theaters. Some theaters are planning special promotions for this film. Tomorrow morning, Feb. 8, Cody Decker and the Team Israel filmmakers will visit the David Posnack Jewish Day School, as well as the David Posnack Jewish Community Center and the Broward Baseball Academy/Hal’s Power Alley, at 5850 S. Pine Island Rd., in Davie. Have some fun and PLAY BALL!
Cinema Dave  Swashbuckling ournalist and

"Glass" concludes Shyamalan's disappointing "Eastrail 177" trilogy finale

M. Night Shyamalan has fulfilled his cinematic destiny. With the completion of Unbreakable, Split and now Glass, this filmmaker has created his own trilogy of vision, now dubbed Eastrail 177 Trilogy. Why the Eastrail 177 Trilogy? It is the first scene of the first movie (Unbreakable), which connects all three movies.

Glass opens a few weeks after the events of Split. “The Hoard” (James McAvoy) and his 20 plus psychological personalities are loose and terrorizing cheerleaders in the vicinity of Philadelphia. David Dunn (Bruce Willis), with his adult son Joseph (Spencer Treat Clark), tries to track him down.

After a much anticipated battle is interrupted by a special police force SWAT team, David and The Hoard are committed to a mental institution, where one of the patients is Mr. Glass (Samuel L. Jackson), a mastermind who appears to be comatose. The three men are under the care of Dr. Staple (Sarah Paulson), a psychiatrist who treats patients with “Super Hero Complexes.”

Shyamalan is best known for changing perspectives and storylines. His ultimate success (and highest grossing film) is The Sixth Sense. Based on the television commercials, you would think Glass would be an action adventure comic book movie. Instead, it is a talkative meditation about what it means to be a “Super Hero” and if the concept does more harm than good.

Like a bad joke, if the punch line does not live up to the anticipation, disappointment ensues. Given that the Eastrail 177 Trilogy began with David Dunn’s origin story, you will be disappointed that the character is basically sidelined during the course of the film. When the big showdown occurs, you will be severely disappointed by the character’s low key fate.

Even though this film is entitled Glass, The Hoard is the central character and this film could easily be called Split: Part 2. James McAvoy gives a phenomenal performance and does enact over 20 different personalities, from a virginal little girl in search of tea and crumpets to that of a beast in search of flesh.

When Star Wars Episodes I-III was completed, this columnist acknowledged that, as flawed as his trilogy was, writer/director George Lucas told the story he wanted to tell. By completing his Eastrail 177 Trilogy, M. Night Shyamalan told his own story.

Glass is a unique and haunting film and does complete the story arc for David Dunn, Mr. Glass and The Hoard. There are enough crumbs to start another trilogy featuring the family members of Dunn, Glass & The Hoard next.
Cinema Dave  Swashbuckling ournalist and

Lithgow is "The Tomorrow Man"

Since the early 1980s, John Lithgow has been a consummate character actor on the big and little screen. He was the villain to John Travolta and Nancy Allen in Brian de Palma’s Blow Out, yet was Oscar nominated for his gentle role as a transsexual football player in The World According to Garp and as a small town gentleman who helps Debra Winger in the Oscar-winning Best Picture Terms of Endearment. Lithgow earned an Emmy as the nasty antagonist to the serial killer Dexter and as Professor Dick in 3rd Rock from the Sun. Lithgow portrays the lightness and the darkness of human nature with equal conviction.

Lithgow’s new movie, The Tomorrow Man, opens this Memorial Day weekend. In the midst of comic book movie openings, The Tomorrow Man may be the quietest movie opening this weekend. It is definitely the most unique one.

Ed (Lithgow) is on the high side of 60 and is obsessed with the future. While grocery shopping for supplies for his hidden bunker, he observes Ronnie (Blythe Danner). Like Ed, Ronnie buys bulk supplies and pays cash. Ed suspects they are kindred spirits and he introduces himself.

Ed and Ronnie hit it off and share meals, have discussions and late night drives in small town America. We learn that Ronnie has suffered much loss and has a tendency to hoard. As the relationship grows, Ed’s estranged son asks them to join the family for Thanksgiving Dinner. The meal is comically dark, but changes the tone of The Tomorrow Man.

As we learned in the movie Storm Boy, a good story has to go wrong before it gets better. The Tomorrow Man is a story about growth and the inevitable. Yet, the theme of embracing the present is so strong. With empathetic actors like Lithgow & Danner, The Tomorrow Man is a gem of a movie hidden on the big screen, much like the treasures found in Ronnie’s house of hoarding.
Cinema Dave  Swashbuckling ournalist and

Journey to a Mother's Room

Opening last weekend with a visitation from the writer/director (Celia Rico Clavellino) and leading lady (Lola Duenas),Journey to a Mother’s Room is a Spanish language movie about a mother and daughter separation. For 90 plus minutes, this film features two women performing mundane activities. The daughter goes off to pursue her dream job in London, while the mother suffers from empty nest syndrome. Though this drama does drag, the climax provides a worthy payoff.
Cinema Dave  Swashbuckling ournalist and

Trial by Fire

It was 45 years ago that my parents and I sat on the porch and watched Susan Hayward’s Oscar-winning performance in I Want to Live, which featured Barbara Graham’s final days before visiting the gas chamber. As an 11-year-old, I kept waiting for somebody to clear Graham’s name and she would be spared the execution. Albeit to say, there was never a sequel produced.

Released in 1995 and directed by Tim Robbins, Dead Man Walking earned Susan Sarandon an Oscar for her portrayal of Sister Helen Prejean, a spiritual adviser to inmates on death row. Like I Want to Live, Dead Man Walking is based on a true story with artistic license.

Opening tomorrow, Trial by Fire falls into similar “death row drama” and may be more haunting than the previous two Oscar winning movies. Itopens with simplicity. In one sustained shot, we see a girl playing in her front yard while a house in the background bursts into flames. A man runs out the smoky front door, runs to his car, then runs to a window screaming a child’s name. The fire department arrives. The fire claimed the children of Todd (Jack O’Connell) and Stacy Willingham (Emily Mead), a couple with domestic problems. Based on circumstantial evidence and his nonchalant behavior, Todd is sentenced to death row. Labeled a “baby killer,” Todd is placed on the lowest rung of inmate hierarchy.

During his final years, Todd develops a relationship with a prison guard (played by local actor Todd Allen Durkin) and develops a pen pal relationship with Elizabeth Gilbert (Laura Dern), a recent widow raising two children. With her legal experience, Elizabeth investigates Todd’s case and sees a reasonable doubt.

Director Edward Zwick has created his own unique “death row” drama. The dark elements of the story naturally permeate the story, but the sunny cinematography provides an interesting contrast. Clocking in slightly over two hours, this film meanders, yet provides many “little moments” of character development. In particular, the relationship between Todd and his security guard grows and blossoms like the relationship between Dr. Frankenstein and his monster.

Trial by Fire is a good movie, but a serious movie filled with darkness of the human soul. It is a definite contrast to most films on the big screen. If you need a “feel good” movie, go see Superpower Dogs 3D at the IMAX at the Museum of Discovery & Science in Ft. Lauderdale.
Cinema Dave  Swashbuckling ournalist and

"Ask Dr, Ruth"

When adjusted for inflation, Avengers: Endgame has already joined the ranks of Gone with the Wind, Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial and The Sound of Music in a mere 11 days. It is the No. 1 box office flick for 2019 and is not likely to be topped, even with the release of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker scheduled to debut in December.

With calmer fanfare, Ask Dr. Ruth also opened last weekend. It is a documentary about Ruth Westheimer, Ph.D, who burst into the public spotlight as the sex therapist to the nation in 1981. Everyone knows the kind little lady who could speak frankly about the intimacy of sex. Yet, much like a member of the Avengers, Dr. Ruth is part superhero.

The documentary begins and ends in Dr. Ruth’s Washington Heights apartment in New York City. Approaching her 90th birthday, we see this busy woman going about her daily routine in the spotlight of public speaking engagements.She appears to be never alone.

With the dawning of the AIDS crisis, Dr. Ruth’s candid, but cute, discussions about sexuality helped remove social stigmas. Given her sense of humor, she was a regular guest on the late night talk shows and chatted with Johnny Carson, David Letterman and NBC radio announcers. But, behind the laughs was a darker story.

Karola (Dr. Ruth’s first name) was born into a Jewish family in Germany during WWII. At the age of 9 1/2, her parents were taken to a labor camp. She, and the neighborhood children of her age, were put on a train and sent to Switzerland.

On May 8, 1945, when the orphanage announces the end of World War II, Karola comes to the realization that she won’t see her family again. These scenes featuring Karola’s youth are presented with animation that is simple and haunting.

Much like Dr. Ruth’s public persona, overall, Ask Dr. Ruth is lighthearted and humorous. Her pain, much like her politics, is not for public consumption. However, Ask Dr. Ruth provides answers for one who wishes to achieve an authentic life.
Cinema Dave  Swashbuckling ournalist and

"Avengers: Endgame" deserves it's success

Approximately one year ago, I signed an oath that when I was invited to the screening of Avengers: Infinity War, I would not spoil the film experience for my readers. Except for one problem, I never received notification about the critics’ screening. Those critics who went to an early screening for the recent Avengers movies posted the entire synopsis that appeared on Wikipedia two days before the public had a chance to see these movies.

It really did not matter. I saw the film at the Ft. Lauderdale Museum of Discovery and Science IMAX screen and had a wonderful experience with “true” fans. The IMAX with Laser created clear and concise visuals. Acoustically, the soaring score by Alan Silvestri taps some emotional beats, while classic rock and some big band tunes create emotional echoes of bygone days.

Capping off an 11 year, 22 film cycle now dubbed The Infinity Saga, Avengers: Endgameis a leisurely three hour movie with many pleasing moments. Without spoiling the new movie, this columnist can say that Thanos (James Brolin) did a very bad thing and the Avengers, headed by Captain America/Steve Rogers (Chris Evans), are trying to correct the problem.

The pre-credits sequence opens with a shock as the Avengers, both young and old, assemble the team. Despite the Avengers’ heroics, the world remains a dark and depressing place. When Ant-Man/Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) suddenly appears, the Avengers create a unique solution to their problems.

Great writing provides Avengers: Endgame with many excellent payoffs. Given that we have known Captain America (Chris Evans), Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), and Thor (Chris Hemsworth) for many years, the audience is given many emotional payoffs. While there are some cameo moments that invite cheers, the scenes involving family members (father, mother, unrequited lover) generate tears. Along the way, there are thrills, battles, humor and general popcorn-eating Saturday matinee afternoon fun. Somewhere in Heaven, Marvel Comic creators Stan Lee and Jack Kirby are smiling. Avengers: Endgame is excelsior.
Cinema Dave  Swashbuckling ournalist and

Superpower Dogs 3D

Besides starring in Avengers: Endgame, Chris Evans narrates Superpower Dogs 3D, which is also playing at the Museum of Discovery and Science IMAX screen. Shot on multiple continents on land, sea and air, Superpower Dogs 3D explains the protective nature of the canine.
Cinema Dave  Swashbuckling ournalist and

Eddie Albert Day & The Great Bear Rainforest 3D

April 22 marks the 113th birthday of actor Eddie Albert. Albert’s career spanned six decades as a leading man and as a character actor. He was Oscar nominated for Roman Holiday in 1954 and for The Heartbreak Kid 19 years later. While a costar to actors like John Wayne, Ronald Reagan and Burt Reynolds, Albert is best remembered for his television show Green Acres, in which he, Eva Gabor and Arnold Ziffel starred in 170 episodes.

During the final season of Green Acres, he became politically active with environmental issues for the remainder of his life. TV Guide called him “an ecological Paul Revere” for his work with the Boy Scouts of America, serving on the Department of Energy’s Advisory Board, growing an organic garden in his backyard and founding the City Children’s Farms for inner city children. He also participated in the creation of “Earth Day,” in which organizers honor him by holding this event on the actor’s birthday.

The preservation of the environment is the responsibility of the current generation, who are merely stewards of the land for future generations. Forty years ago, broadcast television did a better job presenting environmental science to the public, minus the politicization. Fortunately, a documentary like Great Bear Rainforest 3D is still being produced and can be seen on a very big screen.

Set in British Columbia near the Alaska Peninsular, Great Bear Rainforest 3D is currently on rotation at the Ft. Lauderdale Museum of Discovery and Science on the 6-story IMAX screen. Narrated by Ryan Reynolds, this film features overwhelming visuals of a land with very little human contact.

The only human contact is the indigenous people who live off the land with a symbiotic relationship with the bears and the land. Both creature’s diets thrive on the salmon swimming upstream. With technical precision, this 10 minute sequence covers much drama. One key sequence features a Mama Grizzly Bear attempting to feed herself and her cubs while fending off a greedy male bear. Upon catching a fish, there is a pretty grisly sequence in which a bear skins and devours a salmon that is still half alive.

The star of this filmis Mox, a white bear. To the Native Americans, Mox is the spirit bear of the land. While the science is real and the cinematography is remarkable, this film presented an understated reason why religion is variably part of science.

As we have tragically learned from Notre Dame Cathedral this week, it was the science of neglect that caused the fire, a chemistry of elements that ignited the blaze [lack of fire prevention safeguards]. Yet, when the inferno was doused, the image of a cross illuminated through the darkness and smoke.
Cinema Dave  Swashbuckling ournalist and

McGovern shines as "The Chaperone"

After decades of watching The Three Stooges on television, one of the Farrelly Brothers admitted that while Curly and Moe were usually the center of attention, they found that Larry may have been the most important Stooge. The Farrelly Brothers credit him as the best actor who supported every scene that he was in. It was Larry’s job to keep the focus on Moe poking Curly in the eyes for comedic effect.

Opening this weekend, The Chaperone is the story about somebody who is not the center of attention, yet is an individual who keeps many disparate people together. Norma (Elizabeth McGovern) is a reliable individual. She is married to Alan Carlisle (Campbell Scott) who is a public figure in Kansas and they are patrons of the arts. While catching a dance recital featuring Young Louise Brooks (Haley Lu Richardson), Backstage, Mother Brooks asks Norma to chaperone Young Louise to New York City to take dance classes with the Denishawn Academy.

While The Chaperone could divert attention to the legendary silent screen star Louise Brooks, director Michael Engler keeps the focus on the title character. We learn that Norma was an orphan from the big city raised by nuns and relocated to Kansas. Married young, Norma confronts secrets from her past and current domestic woes. For Norma, chaperoning Louise Brooks is the least of her problems.

Given her Oscar-nominated role as the wild Evelyn Nesbit from Ragtime, released 38 years ago, Elizabeth McGovern shines as straitlaced Norma. She is the eye of the hurricane and the two performances, nearly four decades apart, bookend McGovern’s underrated talent as an actress. The Chaperone is good drama that celebrates good deeds under pressure.

On a more expansive note, Game of Thrones opens its final season this Sunday evening. While people are binge watching the previous seven seasons, Savor Cinema (503 SE 6 St., in Ft. Lauderdale) plans a season premier party starting at 7:30 p.m. Perhaps an evening of debauchery would be a more accurate description since flagons of ale, barrels of wine, Wildfire shots and Lannister turkey legs, and other dragon dishes, will be consumed within the John Mager Courtyard. Dress Gothic chic. Free parking at the courthouse garage. Sundays meters are free too. Party tickets: $20 FLIFF Members/$25 non-members, includes complimentary drinks and food!

Watching television shows in movie theaters is nothing new. When M*A*S*H ended its 11 year broadcast run on the CBS Network in February 1983, parties were held and people went to civic centers to watch the final episode.

Yet, it is fascinating how small-screened television is driving the markets for big screened entertainment.

Speaking of big screen, the biggest screen in the land, Museum of Discovery and Science – IMAX’s 6-story-high screen has already sold-out screenings of Avengers: Endgame, which opens in two weeks. However, there are some great documentaries that will be playing on the big screen, most notably Great Bear Rainforest and Great Barrier Reef. For those in search of more quieter dramas, check out The Chaperone this weekend.
Cinema Dave  Swashbuckling ournalist and

"Dumbo" deserved more Love

Despite being No. 1 in the box office last weekend, Dumbo disappointed in the box office numbers. Earning only 25 percent of its production costs, Dumbo faces much competition this spring break season with Shazam!, Pet Sematary and Storm Boy opening this weekend. The sad thing is that Dumbo is fine family entertainment directed by Tim Burton. While a darker version of the popular animated motion picture from 1941, this modern version of Dumbo eschews talking and singing animals. The new film focuses on a family and a small business facing a financial crisis.

Set in Sarasota, circa 1919, the film opens with the Medici Brothers Circus launching their annual barnstorming tour through the American Heartland. While in Joplin, Missouri (Walt Disney’s hometown), Ringmaster Medici (Danny Devito) welcomes the return of his ace trick rider (Colin Farrell) to his family and the birth of a baby elephant with big ears.

The story is simple and conflict will ensue. However, it is the attention to detail that makes Dumbo so special. Music that animals sang to in the first movie is used as heartfelt musical cues. “Baby Mine” is rendered with sideshow performers (bearded lady, strong man) playing a flute and ukulele, while resting between shows. Despite some mean behavior and a jump scare, Dumbo is a sweet movie to take children to if only to see how a family sticks together to solve problems.
Cinema Dave  Swashbuckling ournalist and

"Storm Boy" is underrated

Storm Boy opens this weekend and contains many of the same themes as Dumbo with far less special effects. Based on the novella by Colin Thiele, Storm Boy is a rite of passage story that is set on the Australian coast. Geoffrey Rush (who also produced) portrays Mike Kingley, a retiring business man who is concerned that his son wants to pave paradise and put up a parking lot, upsetting the economical balance of the beach front.

When reuniting with his granddaughter, Kingley reflects upon his youth with three pelicans, in particular Mr. Percival, an orphan pelican. Mr. Percival and Kingley have a series of encounters on the island and become local celebrities.

“A good story has to go wrong before it gets better,” Kingley tells his granddaughter late in the film. It is sad, but Storm Boy concludes on a life affirming note. In fact, it will inspire you to go for an early morning walk on Deerfield Beach to watch and observe the birds on our beach.
Cinema Dave  Swashbuckling ournalist and

"Hotel Mumbai" is a reminder about the Cost of Freedom

Earlier this year when Glass opened, this columnist was disappointed with the low key fate of the Bruce Willis character, given the imagery this movie star cultivated with his Die Hard movies. Especially with the first Die Hard movie, it was entertaining to watch one guy best a group of terrorists holding people hostage.

Hotel Mumbai opens this weekend and is based on four days of terrorist attacks in India shortly after Barrack Obama was elected president. Unlike the fantasy heroics of Die Hard, Hotel Mumbai captures the historical fear of people under captivity.

The film opens with a dozen terrorists from Pakistan rowing a rubber raft to the financial center of India, the city of Mumbai. Inside the Hotel Mumbai, we are introduced to the staff who believes that customer service means treating the guests as gods.

The godly guests are an international assortment of characters. Armie Hammer portrays an American who married into Indian royalty and is the father of a baby boy. Jason Isaacs portrays a Russian who delights in prostitutes and fine alcohol. In contrast, Dev Patel portrays a father who desperately needs to work at the Hotel Mumbai on this fateful day.

The action is swift, sudden and unexpected. It is an organized and coordinated attack, but with random targets. Given that the Special Forces unit is eight hours away, the Hotel Mumbai is a soft target. The suspense and terror feel real for the victims in hiding, who overheard the cold blooded directions of some mastermind seeking the most public executions possible.

Director Anthony Maras makes strong use of silence and noise. He also tampers with the nerves of viewers who suffer from either acrophobia or claustrophobia. While Hammer, Isaacs and Patel are the most recognizable actors, Hotel Mumbai is an ensemble masterpiece.

Hotel Mumbai is a tough, but important motion picture to watch for historical reasons. For those who forget the lessons of history, one is condemned to repeat them. It was only four years later that American ambassadors were murdered in Benghazi, Libya, which was documented in the underrated movie, 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi. Both movies remind us that the price of freedom is eternal vigilance.
Cinema Dave  Swashbuckling ournalist and

"Brian Banks" - A cautionary tale to open football season with

For multiple reasons, football is not as important as it used to be to me. In the past two years, the drama has been on the sidelines and off the field of play. When the Miami Dolphins play tonight, I will be more interested in how the commentators, Nat Moore and Bob Griese, both Dolphin legends, are doing. The Dolphins opponent will be the Atlanta Falcons.

The film Brian Banks opens this weekend, and the Atlanta NFL franchise plays a part in this narrative. The dream of playing football is a big part of the film, but this movie is based on a true story about a 16-year-old male that is victimized by rumor, gossip and hearsay.

The film opens on a playground as Brian Banks (Aldis Hodge) watches from a gated fence. He is enjoying the game of pee wee football, but is annoyed when he has to answer a call from his parole officer.

Under a new California law, Brian is forced to limit his travel outside of Los Angeles. This law derails his chances to play football with a small time college, which opens up old wounds. He was a high prospect recruit for USC, but this was prevented when Brian was accused of sexual assault in a high school hallway. When a plea bargain deal failed, Brian spent his formative years in prison.

With only the support of his mother (Sherri Shepherd), Brian perseveres and obtains the aid of a civil rights lawyer, Justin Brooks (Greg Kinnear). Yet, Brian’s case is mired in bureaucracy and legalese. A break in the case occurs when Brian’s accuser makes an overture to be his Facebook friend.

Brian Banks is a fascinating modern story, with echoes of great drama from Jean Paul Sartre, Fyodor Dostoevsky and Friedrich Nietzsche. In the darkest abyss of solitary confinement, Brian finds his true character when he remembers the inspirational words of his mentor (Morgan Freeman, in an unaccredited cameo).

Since his recent passing, HBO has been playing the documentary The Many Lives of Nick Buoniconti, which recounts the man’s career as football player, a lawyer and as an advocate to cure paralysis. Like Brian Banks, Nick Buoniconti used football as a means to an end, but it did not define their lives. Brian Banks is a cautionary film about having a dream denied, but through character development, life does not have to be a nightmare.
Cinema Dave  Swashbuckling ournalist and

Caddyshack Grandchildren create "The Beach Bum"

Filmed in South Florida, The Beach Bum celebrates the dregs of society. Matthew McConaughey portrays Moondog, a successful poet with a trophy wife, Minnie (Isla Fisher). Moondog spends his days drunk and stoned on the streets of Key West. Living on the golden canals of Miami, Minnie is having an open affair with Lingerie (Snoop Dogg). Given their Woodstock culture, there is no conflict between the three individuals that a snort of cocaine can’t fix.

Moondog and Minnie hold a family reunion when their daughter Heather (Stefania LaVie Owen) gets married to a guy that neither parent likes. A dramatic event occurs and Moondog’s life is forever changed. But, then again, under the influence of alcohol, cocaine and marijuana, does Moondog even notice?

Released during the recent spring break, The Beach Bum garnered terrible local reviews. Now that this film is available on DVD, the critics have been kinder, much like the history of Caddyshack 39 years ago. Like Caddyshack and The Big Lebowsky, The Beach Bum has all the markings of a cult following.

The cinematography sells the South Florida scenery. The boats on the river with the sun setting on the horizon, is a strong reminder how beautiful our neighborhoods are. The soundtrack features Classic Rock with snippets of Edgar Winter, Bertie Higgins, and, of course, Jimmy Buffet, who has a cameo in the movie. Yet, The Beach Bum is more spectacle than a realistic look at people who we would not like having next door to us.
Cinema Dave  Swashbuckling ournalist and

The Reports on Sarah and Saleem

Inspired by true events, The Reports on Sarah and Saleem opens this weekend. It is a simple story about infidelity, and a love triangle that leads to a love rectangle. Tension builds when the affair sets off a potential civil war of international dimensions, for one lover is from Israel and the other lover is a Palestinian.
Cinema Dave  Swashbuckling ournalist and

MCU concludes Phase IV with "Spider-Man Far From Home"

With very little surprise, Spider-Man: Far from Home dominated the 4th of July holiday weekend. This epic Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) movie ties up the loose ends of Avengers: Endgame, which is on the verge of supplanting Avatar as the worldwide box office champion of all time. This is the final Marvel Cinematic Universe movie of Phase 3 of a 24 film cycle and provides a fine denouement. The success of these MCU movies is that each film has its own unique story.

After the world changing events of Avengers: Endgame, high school student Peter Parker (Tom Holland) tries to return to a normal life and court the girl of his dreams, MJ (Zendaya). Being science nerds, the couple is excited to leave Queens and attend a science trip in Venice, Italy. Feeling a need to unwind, Parker attempts to take a vacation from his alter-ego, Spider-Man.

Like being a police officer, there is no rest for the weary, and Peter must put on his superhero suit to battle an Elemental monster from the Grand Canal of Venice. While performing his heroics to protect his classmates, Parker encounters Mysterio (Jake Gyllenhaal), who easily defeats the Water Monster. When Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) enters the scene, an alliance between Mysterio and Spider-Man is suggested.

Spider-Man: Far from Home is a timely motion picture. One of the themes is that of #FakeNews and one has to wait to see the end of the credits is to see all of how this theme plays out.

Grief has always been a strong theme in the life of Peter Parker. The loss of his mentor from Avengers: Endgame is prominent. However, there is an acknowledgement of the dearly departed Uncle Ben, the individual most influential in the creation of Spider-Man.

This is the last MCU movie until Phase 4 begins in 2020.Spider-Man: Far from Home will only be on the Museum of Discovery IMAX (in Ft. Lauderdale) screen for another week, before The Lion King takes over. See the new Spider-Man on this six-story screen. The most breathtaking scenes are not the special effects, but the wide angle shots of the Venice canals in Italy.
Cinema Dave  Swashbuckling ournalist and

Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am

As I write this week’s edition of Flicks, Mom & I have been traveling through Florida, Georgia and Alabama for a family reunion. Once north of Orlando, I was pleased to discover that a sense of “Southern Hospitality” has not been lost among the people there.

There were plenty of stories to be told. It seemed that each waiter/waitress at the restaurants had a story to tell about their community or family. At our family reunion, we kept the memory alive of our dearly departed. My brother’s research through Ancestry.com revealed family connections to the Revolutionary War and Abraham Lincoln. As the United States of America celebrates 243 years of freedom, we are reminded that this nation truly represents Unity through Diversity.

What was noteworthy was the lack of movie theaters during my recent odyssey. I’ve always read the marquees to see what was playing on the local big screen. There was no sign of Avengers: Endgame or Toy Story 4 or Godzilla: King of the Monsters.

It seems appropriate that the documentary Toni Morrison:The Pieces I Amopens this 4th of July weekend. Born in Ohio in 1931, Toni Morrison is the recipient of the Pulitzer Prize, the Nobel Peace Prize and the Presidential Medal of Freedom. She is the author of The Bluest Eye, The Song of Solomon and Beloved, the latter of which caught the interest of Oprah Winfrey.

Oprah produced and starred in a movie version of Beloved which co-starred Danny Glover and Thandie Newton. A ghost story of sorts, Beloved focuses on a former slave who is haunted by a poltergeist who may be her dearly deceased daughter. Despite heavy marketing hype, Beloved bombed at the box office 21 years ago.

As a documentary, Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am, overlooks this financial failure, but Oprah does share some anecdotes about meeting and working with the author. As a writer, there is much to learn from this documentary. For instance, while staring out at a pier by a lake, Morrison had a vision of a young woman crawling out of the dock. Morrison questioned the vision and wanted to know what happened next. This image was the birth of Beloved.

Party hearty this 4th of July weekend!
Cinema Dave  Swashbuckling ournalist and

"Toy Story 4" a let down after "Toy Story 3"

While waiting for Toy Story 4 to begin, this columnist sat through a series of previews — all films starring computer animation. It has been 24 years since the original Toy Story — what was unique, is now common place. Beyond the special effects and paying big time celebrities a load of money, computerized animation films have now entered the law of diminishing returns. It is storytelling and respect for the written word, that will redeem the motion picture industry, both live action and computer animation.

Toy Story 4 suffers being the first film since Toy Story 3, the emotional and satisfying cap to the original Toy Story trilogy. Toy Story 4 continues the adventures of Woody (voiced by Tom Hanks), Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen) and the ensemble of toys, under new management from a new owner, this time a little girl who is beginning kindergarten.

The little girl is filled with fear, so Woody sneaks in her backpack to assist her first day of school. Through the magic of improvisation, the little girl creates a new friend — Forky, a deformed looking spoon with pipe cleaner arms and mismatched eyes. Being a bit like the Frankenstein monster, Woody is forced to tutor Forky about the importance of being the little girl’s favorite toy.

Toy Story 4 provides entertainment for children of all ages, both young and old. There are not emotional devastating moments like in Toy Story 3, but Toy Story 4 has a lighter touch with profound theories about personal attachment, maturity and growth. There are also some Indiana Jones thrills featuring Woody, Buzz and a new character. Toy Story 4 does provide Saturday matinee popcorn eating fun, despite a sinister ventriloquist puppet that stalks Woody, Buzz and Little Bo Peep.
Cinema Dave  Swashbuckling ournalist and

Where have you gone Mo Berg? The Spy Behind the Plate

With the monsoon rain we have experienced as of late, it would be easy to miss the summer solstice this week, the longest day of the year (Friday, June 21). School is out, the Stanley Cup and basketball championships have been decided, and all that remains is baseball and the movies.

The Spy Behind Home Plate is a documentary that opens this weekend. It is the story of Mo Berg, the son of Ukrainian Jewish immigrants who went to Princeton University in New Jersey, but who really wanted to be a baseball player. While his Jewish parents were distressed that playing games was more of a priority than getting a real job, Mo’s love of baseball provided a fringe benefit for the United States of America entering World War II.

Graduating Magna Cum Laude, Berg played catcher in the 1930s. He had a talent for grasping foreign languages, which became the key to understanding foreign cultures when Major League Baseball went on international tours.
Berg toured Japan. As the Nation of Japan was becoming imperial, he secreted a camera and took pictures of city geography. These photos were eventually used by the war department and were utilized during General Doolittle’s bombing campaign that lasted 30 seconds over Tokyo.

Like Woody Allen’s Zelig and Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery, The Spy Behind Home Plate shows Berg meeting many celebrities. He toured with the Great Bambino — Babe Ruth, and dated the legendary baseball player’s daughter. When World War II concluded, Berg took tea with Professor Albert Einstein in Princeton.
There is a great dichotomy between the public persona of Mo Berg and with the man who worked under Colonel Donovan, under President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s request. The film reveals photos of Berg’s radio game show appearances on Information Please! while developing espionage profiles with Ian Fleming, the author of the original 13 James Bond novels.

With The Life and Times of Hank Greenberg and Yoo-Hoo, Mrs. Goldberg, documentarian (and New York Mets fan), Avina Kempner has scored the hat trick with The Spy Behind Home Plate. This is a good movie to celebrate this year’s summer solstice.
Cinema Dave  Swashbuckling ournalist and

Stan & Ollie

Hyped by social media marketing, I was looking forward to seeing Ron Howard’s documentary Pavarotti. Unfortunately, this documentary seemed to open in only major cities that have newspaper critics that write syndicated movie reviews. The reviews for Pavarotti were mediocre but, nonetheless, I hope to see this movie on the big screen, since Ron Howard knows how to direct [films about music]. Three years ago Ron Howard released The Beatles: Eight Days a Week, a documentary about The Beatles tour from 1962-1966.

The beauty of movies is that there are millions of unwatched films, even for a “movie maven” like Cinema Dave. Last May, Deerfield Beach Percy White experimented with a Wednesday afternoon series titled “Comedy Club.” Presented in glorious black & white film stock, these films featured W.C. Fields, Edgar Bergen, Charlie McCarthy, Stan Laurel & Oliver Hardy. The laughs were sincere and this library is likely to resurrect this program in the autumn.

Announced for production two years ago, Stan & Ollie was quietly released during awards season. As Oliver Hardy, John C. Reilly received high praise and an award for his portrayal of the chubby half of this legendary comedy team. Besides playing Stan Laurel, Steve Coogan reunited with Philomena screenwriter Jeff Pope.

Stan & Ollie is a loving portrayal of the comedy team’s swansong. It is more of a memory piece than an accurate portrayal of history. Based on the biographies written by John McCabe and William K. Everson, the conflict between Stan and Ollie was dramatized for artistic license.

The fictional conflict is based on Stan’s feelings of betrayal for Ollie doing freelance work. The opposite was true…Stan encouraged Ollie to accept employment with Harry Langdon in Zenobia and John Wayne in The Fighting Kentuckian. While assigned together as work mates, the two men developed an enduring friendship that continued for the rest of their lives.

Beyond Coogan and Reilly’s sincere performance, Stan & Ollie duplicates the team’s onstage magic. The fine line between fantasy and reality is crossed frequently, when a serious moment of human drama is transformed into a comedy gag that is executed by Laurel & Hardy. Case in point: Stan & Ollie get into a serious argument with their wives at a cocktail party with financial benefactors. The fight ends with a slapstick retaliation from Stan. The financial benefactors laugh, not knowing the serious implications of the conflict.

For those celebrating Father’s Day with their dear ol’ dads, take advantage of having some laughs with the old man. There are plenty of modern comedies that promote grossness and obscenity, but comedians like Charlie Chaplin, The Marx Brothers, W.C. Fields, Laurel and Hardy have provided family entertainment for over a century on the silver screen. Check out Stan & Ollie or any classic comedy for a successful Father’s Day weekend.
Cinema Dave  Swashbuckling ournalist and

New "Godzilla" flick - not so Royal



Based on the box office performance of Aladdin and Godzilla: King of the Monsters, the 2019 summer blockbuster season will be filled with action, adventure and a little romance. Unlike the sustainability of an Adventures: Endgame, both Aladdin and Godzilla: King of the Monsters have a noticeable box office drop after the opening weekend.

After the events of Kong: Skull Island and Godzilla: King of the Monsters, the world has learned that Titans are real. On one hand, the Titans are seen as a destructive force. Yet, after the havoc these monsters cause, the earth has become a greener place.

But those meddlesome members of Monarch (the crypto-zoological agency) have created a frequency radio device to track and control Godzilla, a fruitless enterprise. Greedy environmental terrorists have decided to use the device to unleash dormant Titans and create world havoc. From Mexico to China, from Sedona to the final showdown in Boston, the monsters are unleashed and have stomped upon mankind.

Unlike the classic Godzilla, where Japan was the scene of constant disaster, this new “King of the Monsters” is a global affair. Like a harem of insects, the human actors (Kyle Chandler, Vera Farmiga, Millie Bobby Brown & Charles Dance as the Master villain) deal with the rampaging monsters, who are actually a metaphor for their own domestic concerns.

As a monster maven, there is much to like about Godzilla: King of the Monsters. The creators acknowledge not only the myth of the standup fire-breathing lizard, but acknowledge local cultural myths from the seven continents. (Rodan rising out of a Mexican volcano owes a debt to the Aztec myth of Quetzalcoatl). Besides a cover song of the Blue Oyster Cult classic, there is the original theme from the first Godzilla film produced in 1954.

Cinema Dave  Swashbuckling ournalist and

October 11 is El Camino Day !

As late as Monday morning, Oct. 7, El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie was supposed to open exclusively in Miami. Perhaps some studio executive read this column a few weeks ago because last Friday night, the film also opened locally, as close as the IPIC Boca Raton theater in Mizner Park. The first screening was packed and the ticket buyers were intimately aware of every nuance of this Breaking Bad history, while embracing some of the characters from Better Call Saul, a spin off. This is noteworthy because El Camino also debuted on Netflix the same day — Friday, Oct. 11.

Like Rob Zombie’s 3 from Hell, Vince Gilligan’s El Camino is redefining the business model for a motion picture release. Neither film rivals the box office revenue of a Joker or The Addams Family, but both 3 from Hell and El Camino are relatively low budget productions, so the return of investment can be substantially larger, whereas a successful big budgeted studio production with many movie stars may never see a profit for many years after release. Kudos to the independent streaks of Rob Zombie and Vince Gilligan for lighting the way for the creative part of the motion picture industry.

Despite being part of the Breaking Bad universe, El Camino is a standalone movie. One does not need to see the previous 62 episodes of the television series, but one will likely want to watch them now. The El Camino Jessie Pinkman (Aaron Paul) character is the gestalt of television version of Breaking Bad. Jessie, the boy, has become a man and is the whole of the sum of his 62 parts.

El Camino opens moments after the grand “Felina” of Breaking Bad. Jessie has escaped his captivity and is on the run from the police and sadistic criminal scumbags. After reuniting with his old buddies Skinny Pete (Charles Baker) and Badger (Matt Jones), Jessie seeks the services of Ed (the late Robert Forster), a man who runs his own private industry witness protection program.

Given writer/director Vince Gilligan’s love of words, El Camino is a double entendre. While there is a Chevrolet car in the movie and the locations are set in New Mexico, El Camino is a Spanish word for “a path, a road or a journey.”

How Jessie goes from “Point A” to “Point B” is an entertaining story, yet this is a meditative story about potential redemption. Throughout the film, various Breaking Bad characters appear in flashbacks. Each provide kernels of wisdom for Jessie’s journey to enlightenment.

Sadly, the Oct. 11 release also marks the passing of Robert Forster. An actor with 50 years of motion picture experience, Forster provides a fine swan song performance as “Ed the Disappearer.” Suffering from Brain Cancer at the time of filming, Forster’s performance rings sincere and true.

There are some great violent visuals to El Camino, but the quiet moments with Aaron Paul and Robert Forster will be the cinematic moments to savor.
Cinema Dave  Swashbuckling ournalist and

Sympathy for the Devil begins with "Joker"

Joker is probably the most ambiguous movie to open with such strong box office revenue. It helps to have a comic book character with almost 80 years of villainy. Mix that with almost 50 years of movies featuring urban alienation, and it is little wonder why Joker became a box office monster last weekend.

“Sympathy for the devil” begins with an unreliable narrator. Understanding this concept will enhance your viewing pleasure of this film if being seated next to a madman on a roller coaster ride is your idea of pleasure.

The film opens with Arthur Fleck (Joaquin Phoenix) putting on his clown make-up and preparing for his temp job as a sign carrier for a failed business. After being mugged on the street by a bunch of callow boys, Arthur loses his job because his sign is destroyed.

Defeated, Arthur returns to his one room apartment that he shares with his delusional mother. The two find pleasure in watching Murray Franklin’s (Robert DeNiro) celebrity night time television show. Beyond that, many things happen and Arthur is right in the middle of these wild situations. Sometimes, Arthur is the agent of chaos; sometimes, he is the victim of chaos. Regardless of the circumstance, Arthur laughs at jokes that only he understands.

Through the cloak of ambiguity, this film manages to raise social messages. From a subway shooting that echoes Bernard Goetz’s 1984 headlines, Arthur inspires a mass protest to “Kill the Rich” by people wearing clown make-up, which echoes the 2014 Ferguson Missouri riots.

Batman’s Father, Thomas Wayne (Brett Cullen) is a self-made billionaire, who commits to the political ambition to become Mayor of Gotham City, which echoes Donald F. Trump’s Presidency.

Much like Renee Zellweger’s performance in Judy, Joaquin Phoenix’s performance as Joker is likely to be Oscar-nominated. The actor runs the gamut of human emotions. One feels sorry for Arthur, but the seduction of evil is real and an unsuspecting individual could easily become the Joker’s prey.

Though clowns have been part of the entertainment industry since the Roman Circus, recently clowns have been front and center during recent Halloweens. Sid Haig’s Captain Spaulding and Pennywise the Dancing Clown from Stephen King’s It books and movies have been trick or treat favorites and horror movie convention winners. Like Cesar Romero, Jack Nicholson and Heath Ledger, Joaquin Phoenix’s Joker fits right into this Rogues Gallery Circus.

For those who want to don greasepaint beyond Halloween, the Kazoo and Drum Corps for the “Day of the Dead” is seeking volunteers for the parade in Downtown Ft. Lauderdale on Saturday, Nov. 2. (Visit the website at www.dayofthedeadflorida.com.)
Cinema Dave  Swashbuckling ournalist and

Renee Zellweger resurrects Judy

On June 22, 1969, Mom, Dad and I were out on our Johnson & Johnson wooden boat on Cold Spring Harbor. My parents swam ashore and I stayed on the boat with a transistor radio. Between songs (likely Big Band), the news man announced that “Judy Garland died.” I got so excited that I pulled the boat ashore, much to my Dad’s dismay — since the tide was going out.

Being six years old, I had seen The Wizard of Oz at least twice, including once by myself on the color TV set. (The Wicked Witch of the West so scared me that I could not watch the film alone in the den the first time). Beyond portraying Dorothy Gale, Mom introduced me to Judy Garland the star of variety shows that featured singing, dancing and comedy.

Starring Renee Zellweger in the title role, the new movie Judy features the entertainer’s swan song. Living off her fame, but performing at low budget night clubs with her children Lorna and Joe, Judy finishes a show, only to learn she does not have a bed to sleep in. After arguing with her fourth ex-husband Sid Luft (Rufus Sewell) about custody of the children, Judy gets a job offer to perform in London’s “Talk of the Town.”

The money is good, but years of prescribed substance abuse have taken their toll on this vulnerable 46-year-old mother of three. Having earned a reputation as being unreliable, Judy Garland’s swan song performance is an emotional roller coaster ride featuring insomnia, heartbreak and the divine grace of performance.

Renee Zellweger owns Judy. Besides performing her own singing, there are moments when the ghost of Judy Garland has returned to the big screen. Likely to be Oscar nominated, Zellweger’s performance is consistent. Her final close-up is a rare audience connection that bookends the beginning of the movie.

Based on the play End of the Rainbow, this new film explains the dark side of show business. The opening shot features young Judy Garland (Darci Shaw) being told by Louie B. Mayer (Richard Cordery) that she is a plain, next-door girl that is separated by her beautiful singing voice. This scene echoes the Book of Genesis chapter in which Eve is seduced by the serpent.

Tears were shed, but the laughs are truthful, Judy is an entertaining tragedy with many life lessons. Parents who know that their children want to “run away to the circus,” should take them to see Judy as a family movie some afternoon. The discussion afterward will be genuine.
Cinema Dave  Swashbuckling ournalist and

Sid Haig & the Evolution of Cinema

Before there was “Spooky Empire” in Orlando, there was Petey Mongelli’s inaugural monster conventions in Broward County until Hurricane Wilma hit in 2005. With roadshow buzz about Rob Zombie’s directorial debut House of 1000 Corpses and buzz about the sequel, The Devil’s Rejects, Sid Haig was one of his featured guests. When I met him at his booth back then, we talked about Spider Baby and his film debut with Lon Chaney Jr.

Haig talked about Chaney’s professionalism and generosity on the set of this low budget, but happy production. Haig seemed pleased when I mentioned he was carrying the torch from Lon Chaney Jr.’s generation for today’s filmmakers.

Since Sid passed away last Saturday morning, the outpouring of grief from fans and the motion picture industry has become overwhelming on social media. He was not a regular on Entertainment Tonight type news programs, but Sid Haig’s legacy is secure to anyone who ever met him or enjoys a master thespian performing his craft.

Last week, this columnist wrote about the marketing strategy for 3 from Hell, which involved limited time on the big screen — three nighttime weekday screenings. On the fourth day, the home viewing release date – Oct. 14 – was launched.

Without the marketing might (and theme parks) of Disney and Universal Studios, independent filmmakers are getting creative in seeking distribution and widening the profit margin. Case in Point — El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie — This film was secretly produced in New Mexico, while the fifth season of the television show Better Call Saul was being produced in the same territory. Utilizing much of the cast and crew of the Breaking Bad/Better Call Saul universe, it was a surprise to learn that El Camino will be available on Netflix on Oct. 11. However, there will be limited screening in major cities like Miami. (I am hoping for something more local).

Speaking of local, The Deerfield Beach Percy White Library will be hosting “Local Creative Talent — Film Producers” on Saturday, Oct. 12 at 2 p.m. The producers and creative force behind Dead Ant will be in attendance and will host a panel. Starring Sean Astin, Jake Busey and Tom Arnold, Dead Ant is a monster movie/ musical comedy about a one hit wonder heavy metal band that gets stranded in the Joshua Tree Desert. Think This is Spinal Tap meets Tremors.

For almost two years, this columnist has written about the “evolution” of the motion picture industry. With the recent releases of 3 from Hell and El Camino, we are witnessing the business paradigm shift in the motion picture world. With local festivals like the upcoming Ft. Lauderdale International Film Festival, cinema consumers have the opportunity of better choices.
Cinema Dave  Swashbuckling ournalist and

Universal Horror with 3 from Hell & Us, while neighbors help Bahamas



It was a hot Sunday August night years ago at the Pompano Muvico when Cinema Dave watched Rob Zombie’s creation, The Devil’s Rejects [which was released in 2005]. With visceral violence and terrible torture scenes, Cinema Dave wondered what type of people would pay to see such a film. He questioned the psychological make-up of the people sitting next to him and cheering the exploits of Otis (Bill Moseley), Baby (Sheri Moon Zombie) and patriarch Captain Spaulding (Sid Haig). Now, Cinema Dave owns a DVD copy of it.

A follow up to his first movie, House of a 1000 Corpses [2003], The Devil’s Rejects is now considered Rob Zombie’s best movie. Barely a blip in the 2005 box office, the film was rated highly by national critics like Roger Ebert. A cult phenomenon through the horror convention circuit and through the camaraderie of the actors, Zombie put paper to pencil and created 3 from Hell, a direct sequel featuring Bill Moseley, Sheri Moon Zombie and Sid Haig in a brief appearance as the patriarch.



Unless you were in a movie theater for the last three weeknights, you missed the big screen edition of "3 From Hell" as the film is now being processed for a DVD/Halloween release next month. Riding the vibe of this independent cult film trilogy, Universal Halloween Horror Nights in Orlando is devoting a haunted ride exhibit to the Firefly Family from the film.



Halloween Horror Nights is also dedicating a haunted house to Us, Jordan Peele’s next film after his Oscar winning screenplay, Get Out. Starring Oscar winner Lupita Nyong’o, Us is a horror movie that is too long for its own good. There are plenty of thrills and laughs, but the horrific explanation is complicated and takes too long to explain. (US is currently available on DVD).

Beyond the fantasy of terror movies, there is the realistic horror of Hurricane Dorian upon the Bahamas recently. Unlike the selfish behavior of people seen in a horror movie, our South Florida neighbors have stepped up to help our Caribbean neighbors with donations.

Beginning 6 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 20, the Ft. Lauderdale International Film Festival’s (FLIFF) Savor Cinema (503 SE 6 St., in Ft. Lauderdale) in partnership with the Ft. Lauderdale Museum of Discovery and Science, will screen Eye of the Dolphin and Beneath the Blue, two films filmed in the Bahamas that were previously honored by the festival. Throughout the double feature, there will be a Bahamian party in the courtyard. While ticket prices vary, all proceeds will go to Bahamian charity relief efforts. For more information, find FLIFF on Facebook.

Cinema Dave  Swashbuckling ournalist and

Edie

While in exile from Hurricane Dorian, I watched The White Tower on the TCM Channel, a forgotten film starring Glenn Ford, Alida Valli, Claude Rains, Sir Cedric Hardwicke and a very young Lloyd Bridges that was released in 1950. Filmed on the RKO Pathe Studio lot with some exterior shots on a mountain, the film is a fascinating character study about man vs. nature.

The concept of old woman vs. nature is the theme of Edie, being released tomorrow, Friday, Sept. 13, in our community. A seemingly simple British film with a running time of 102 minutes, Edie has much character and philosophical depth that echoes 20th Century literature like Thomas Merton’s The Seven Storey Mountain. (Available in libraries, this bookpresents the philosophical disciple of a monastic life, with one’s inner longing for an adventuresome life).

Having been a caretaker to her infirm husband for 30 years, Edie suffers from empty nest syndrome when her spouse passes away. Her children make arrangements for her to live in a retirement hotel, but Edie resists when she remembers her childhood dreams of climbing Mount Suilven in the Scottish Highlands.

Like any good Homeric adventure, there are villains and detours along the way. When she hires a personal guide, Edie learns to overcome her own shortcomings. Proving that it is never too late to learn, Edie is a beautiful epic.
Cinema Dave  Swashbuckling ournalist and

Official Secrets

Given the 18 year anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks this week, it seems appropriate that Official Secrets also opens this week. This somber procedural details Katharine Gun’s (Keira Knightley) ordeal when she released classified information to the public. Under Orwellian legalese, Gun is prosecuted for treason.

Being a British film, Official Secrets is highly critical of both British and American governments during these early years of terrorist fears. With the exception of Gun’s plight (though well-played by Knightley’s understated performance), there is an odd emotional detachment to the events. Yet, Official Secrets is an important film that smartly debates censorship and the public’s right to know information.
Cinema Dave  Swashbuckling ournalist and

Tel Aviv on Fire challenges Representative Rashida Tlaib

Despite what Representative Rashida Tlaib says, things must be getting better between Palestine and Israel … at least in the movies. The winner of the Venice, Haifa and Seattle Film Festivals, Tel Aviv on Fire opens tomorrow in area theatres. It is a satire about relations between the Palestinians and the Israelis, but with good intentions.

Tel Aviv on Fire is a popular soap opera that is about the “Six-Day War,” circa 1967. With gritty vacuum tube television technology, we are introduced to the fictional Tala, who is a Palestinian spy with plans for terrorism upon Israel. The actress who portrays Tala has charisma and attracts both Palestinian and Israeli fans.

As the producers decide how to wrap up their soap opera, an executive producer hires his bumbling nephew Salem, who has no experience writing screenplays. He does have an ear for dialogue, and Salem becomes a valuable assistant to the soap opera, which makes Salem a local celebrity at the border crossing between Israel and Palestine.

With great celebrity, comes great responsibility. While crossing the border, Salem runs afoul the Israeli checkpoint officer. Fortunately for Salem, the officer’s family is fans of Tel Aviv on Fire. Unfortunately for Salem, the family wants to influence their own story lines into the soap opera.

A foreign language film with both English language and English subtitles, Tel Aviv on Fire is a gentle motion picture. Both sides of the border will find some laughs and the conclusion does satisfy.

This weekend, The Peanut Butter Falcon expands its theatrical distribution in South Florida. The national box office has been slow for this movie, but it is one of the highest rated movies of the year on Rotten Tomatoes.Com in which both critics and public reaction match by a mere one percent difference.

As dire as recent big screen entertainment has been, both The Peanut Butter Falcon and Tel Aviv on Fire are two life-affirming movies with genuine laughs and warmth.
Cinema Dave  Swashbuckling ournalist and

The Peanut Butter Falcon Soars!

This independent sleeper film is an acknowledgement of the American dream. This film contains so many subtle echoes of American cinema and literature, expect media buzz about this filmaround awards season.

Without a family, Zak (Zack Gottsagen) has Down’s Syndrome and lives in an assisted living facility with his aged roommate Carl (Bruce Dern), a retired engineer. Zak’s caseworker is Eleanor (Dakota Johnson), a sympathetic soul who is trapped within the rigid rules of the assisted living facility. Inspired by Zak, Carl and Eleanor find escapism by watching VHS copies of Southern Wrestling featuring The Salt Water Redneck (Thomas Haden Church).

Across a river, Tyler (Shia LeBeouf) continues his long-standing feud with Crabber Duncan (John Hawkes). A passive aggressive game of tit for tat literally explodes with a dock fire. As Tyler flees for his life, he learns he has a stowaway, Zak, on his little dinghy.

Filmed on the outer banks of Georgia, the narrative for this filmechoes Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Pat Conroy’s The Water is Wide and Ken Kesey’s One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. Sufficeth to say, The Peanut Butter Falcon is a meandering and leisurely told tale, but one that engages the ticket buyer up until the final image before the credits roll. Despite outrageous situations, itnever loses a human connection.

Not since Chris Burke’s work as “Corky” on the ABC Television Series Life Goes On, has an actor with Down’s Syndrome taken on such a responsible role. With a natural truth, Zack Gottsagen acquits himself as the title character. Despite a wide generational gap of acting schools (from the Actor’s Studio to the World Wide Wrestling League), the ensemble cast provides generous support towards their leading man.

Despite being tabloid fodder, both Jake “The Snake” Roberts and Shia LeBeouf provide transformative performances that may have affected their personal lives in a positive way. Shedding her Fifty Shades of Grey notoriety, Dakota Johnson gives a winning performance. Even the notorious Bruce Dern provides charm as a rebel who is confined to a chair in an assisted living facility.

Every couple of years, there is a motion picture sleeper that awakens the Dog Days of August box office. A roller coaster ride of laughs and tears, The Peanut Butter Falcon is a sharp contrast to the motion pictures on the big screen these days, go see this one for some Saturday matinee popcorn-eating fun!
Cinema Dave  Swashbuckling ournalist and

Maleficent: Mistress of Evil is a reminder about the transformative qualities of Cinema

[After witnessing couples of all types shedding tears during climactic portions of the film], this jaded film columnist feels that Maleficent: Mistress of Evil is a reminder about the power of movies to transform and inspire. The film opens with village people raiding the forest and abducting miniature mushroom men. As the forest fairies retaliate, one thug manages to sneak a mushroom man into the waiting hands of the mad scientist midget Lickspittle (Warwick Davis), who may be a distant relative of Jedi Master Yoda. The titles are announced and we see Sleeping Beauty, alias Princess Aurora (Elle Fanning), in the forest preparing to meet the village Prince Phillip (Harris Dickinson). Despite their cultural differences, the prince proposes to the princess and the unification of the kingdoms is underway.

With marriages comes the conflicts with the in-laws, most notably Queen Ingrith (Michelle Pfeiffer) and Maleficent (Angelina Jolie), who have a bitter unsaid history with one another. Their first dinner party goes badly. A war breaks out between the village and the forest people. With spectacular battle scenes involving pink fairy bombs, it is the diva duel between Angelina Jolie and Michelle Pfeiffer that drives the emotional core of the film.

The gala opening of the 34th Annual Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival (FLIFF) will be held at the Ft. Lauderdale Museum of Discovery and Science (MODS) on next Friday night, Nov.1. Actors Karen Allen and Peter Riegert [who were in Animal House together], are scheduled to walk the red carpet that night. The evening will include a screening of the movie Cuba. The Tito Puente Latin Jazz Ensemble will provide the musical ambiance (sponsored by local resident Cyndi Boyar in honor of her late father, Jerry, and mother, June). For tickets and membership information, contact 954-525-FILM.



There is no denying that Halloween is in the air in our neighborhood, with the City of Deerfield Halloween festivities at Oveta McKeithen Recreational Complex this Friday night and the Halloween Hoe-Down at the Villages of Hillsboro Park on Saturday night. Not to be left out of the fun, Deerfield Beach Percy White Library will be contributing with a special screening of a Frankenstein movie at 2 p.m. on Saturday. (The movie title cannot be announced due to licensing agreement.) Lacking the special effects of Maleficent, this black & white 1943 classic is currently being honored at Universal Halloween Horror Nights in Orlando. The screening is free and will include comic book giveaways while supplies last.

Stop by the library, check out a scary book for the scary season and enjoy the display created by Andrea Rubin, Latasha Garrett and Joy Smith.