January 25th, 2020

Cinema Dave  Swashbuckling ournalist and

Movie memories & The Mule Posted on 19 December 2018

It was 20 years ago this Christmas Eve that I lost my Uncle Billy. Besides my Mom and Dad, I spent more Christmases with Uncle Billy than any other family member, so I am very sensitive to people suffering from loss when it seems as if everybody is singing about happiness and joy.

As I was dealing with the raw grief of the situation, the movies playing on the big screen included Mighty Joe Young, You’ve Got Mail, Stepmom and Jack Frost. I wanted to avoid the tear jerker Stepmom (the previews revealed Susan Sarandon as a dying mother and Julia Roberts as her future replacement), so I went to see Mighty Joe Young and You’ve Got Mail.

The most shocking film was Jack Frost, a comedy in which Michael Keaton portrayed a musician who dies in a car accident and returns to earth as a snowman. Like No Country for Old Men being released during the Christmas week, I feel an obligation as a columnist to alert my readers about watching a potential melancholic mind trap of a movie on a happy holiday.

With a heavy marketing push on television, The Mule has presented screen legend Clint Eastwood as a haggard old man driving on the U.S. Interstate Highway. Inspired by a true story, Eastwood portrays Earl Stone, a successful florist who constantly disappoints his family. With all of its film noir trappings, The Mule is a surprising revelation for the holiday season.

In 2005, Earl enjoyed the harvest of a good economy. Twelve Years later, his home is being foreclosed upon. With the exception of his grandchild Ginny (Taissa Farmiga), Earl receives no support from his ex-wife, Mary (Dianne Wiest), and he is not on speaking terms with his daughter Iris (Alison Eastwood — Clint’s real life daughter). While attending a disastrous family function, Earl is offered a simple job by a Mexican man.

The job is simple. All he has to do is drive cargo to Chicago. Upon staying at a designated motel, Earl receives a bundle of cash in the morning. The job is easy and Earl continues to do it, even when he discovers he is a courier for the Mexican Drug Cartel, headed by Laton (Andy Garcia).

Under such an austere situation, the trademark dark humor of a Clint Eastwood movie shines through. There are great scenes of Eastwood driving his truck by himself, singing road songs on the radio and getting the lyrics wrong. There are funny scenes involving Earl’s new found wealth and his propensity for being a Robin Hood. That written, The Mule does not detract from a simple message about family, career and redemption. With that sentiment, there is no other way to end this column then with these two words, “Merry Christmas!”
Cinema Dave  Swashbuckling ournalist and

Won’t You Be My Neighbor? Posted on 12 December 2018

In battling the ventriloquist puppet known as Sinister Simon, this columnist’s solution to the conflict was to throw the puppet off a four-story building and feed the puppet to Jan Mitchell’s Jack Russell terriers [This refers to a funny video Dave was in, for those who have not seen it]. This solution would have horrified Mr. Rogers, who disavowed such violence in his neighborhood.

Won’t You Be my Neighbor? is now on DVD, having made it’s South Florida debut at the 35th Miami International Film Festival. Using clips and outtakes from his long running PBS television series, this documentary features the story of Fred Rogers, a seminary student in his last year who gets interested in this newfangled contraption called “television.”

Fred goes to work for the public television station (PBS) in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Being the pioneering days of television, Rogers is both producer and live music director for a children’s show. Technical difficulties often interfere with live telecast, but Fred learns how to save a scene by using a tiger puppet to save the day.

Finding his life’s calling, Rogers returns to the seminary, becomes a minister and creates Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, which runs over 40 years. Despite being a show that features the Neighborhood of Make-Believe, the first show that aired in February 1968 features puppets talking about war. Five months later when Robert Kennedy is killed, Daniel Striped Tiger, the puppet, asks one of the grownups, “What does the word assassination mean?”

If one goes to learn something scandalous about Mister Rogers, he will be extremely disappointed with Won’t You Be My Neighbor? The Fred Rogers who was on PBS is the same Fred Rogers that one saw on talk shows or speaking in front of the United States Congress. His wife, children, cast and crew members talk about Fred with such consistent fondness. The man seemed too nice to be true.

There are hints that he had a tough childhood and was bullied for being a rich kid known as “Fat Freddy,” but that is not the core drive of this documentary. By not dwelling on negativity, Fred spends his professional life being a problem solver and a strong advocate for children. A registered Republican, Mister Rogers was an open Christian who preached the importance of the Golden Rule, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

Comedian Dana Carvey once said that his George H.W. Bush impression was a cross between John Wayne and Mister Rogers. Won’t You Be My Neighbor? is a sweet lesson that children today need to learn and adults need to remember about their own childhood. This documentary about Mister Rogers is one of the best movies to see this holiday season.
Cinema Dave  Swashbuckling ournalist and

Bohemian Rhapsody inspires golden memories Posted on 06 December 2018

My School of Rock vocal teacher, Jessica Morale, threatened to suspend me because I had yet to see Bohemian Rhapsody, which had been getting some of the best word of mouth rave reviews. Much like A Star is Born, so many people have seen Bohemian Rhapsody on the big screen. I regret missing this feature on the five story IMAX screen when it played at the Ft. Lauderdale Museum of Discovery and Science. But I finally got to see it.

For those who rode with me back in the day in my yellow Volkswagen Beetle named Kelso, you likely heard a Bohemian Rhapsody bootleg on an eight-track player. When Kelso was full, we would all sing the opera parts from the song, a decade before Wayne’s World was released. We were cool before we knew it.

Bohemian Rhapsody shows a baggage handler at London Heathrow Airport, Farrokh Bulsara (Rami Malek), who lives with his conservative Parsi family. One night, he catches his favorite local band, Smile, whose lead singer abruptly quits. Farrokh auditions on the street and his future bandmates Brian May (Gwilym Lee) and drummer Roger Taylor (Ben Hardy) recruit him immediately. After forming a new rock band by the name of Queen, Farrokh legally changes his name to Freddy Mercury.

Despite having a flamboyant front man, Queen becomes a strong ensemble band with each player contributing to some of the great songs of album rock radio stations, ie, “Fat Bottomed Girls,” “You’re My Best Friend,” “Another One Bites the Dust” and “We Are the Champions.” Queen tours the world with concerts that demand audience interaction, mostly conducted by Freddy Mercury.

Of course, with any rock artist biopic, we witness the self destruction of success. To director Bryan Singer’s credit, he does not dwell on this dark side of Freddy Mercury. (It should be noted that Brian May and Roger Taylor were involved in this production). Bohemian Rhapsody opens and closes with Freddy Mercury’s redemptive moment, the “Live Aid Concert” on July 13, 1985 at the Wembley Arena in London.

The “Live Aid Concert” was a golden moment for this columnist finishing up his course work at Florida State University. Broadcast poorly on MTV, so much of the concert was lost in hype, though Queen’s performance was highly praised.

Bohemian Rhapsody is worth the price of admission for recreating this golden performance with four actors and special effects. That said, unlike the self indulgence of the “Woodstock Generation,” “The Live Aid” generation used music to prevent starvation in Ethiopia in the mid 80s. Thanks Bohemian Rhapsody for reminding this columnist about this charitable time during the Reagan-Bush administrations.
Cinema Dave  Swashbuckling ournalist and

Creed II Posted on 29 November 2018

Ralph Breaks the Internet scored high with the box office receipts, along with Creed II, The Grinch and Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald. Bohemian Rhapsody is showing consistent box office returns with Rami Malek’s performance as Freddy Mercury being talked about for award consideration. But, grossing $55 million, Creed II probably received the best return of investment from lower production costs.

Creed II (or Rocky 8) is a stand-alone story about a boxer named Adonis “Donnie” Johnson (Michael B. Jordan) who fights by the name of “Adonis Creed,” the son of the late Apollo Creed (Carl Weathers) from the first four Rocky movies. Apollo died in the ring from the fists of Ivan Drago (Dolph Lundgren), a boxer from the Soviet Union. Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone) defeated Drago in an epic 15 round battle and the Soviet Union collapsed.

Thirty three years later, Adonis Creed has become champion, creating a marketing opportunity for Ivan Drago, whose life has been miserable since losing to Rocky Balboa in 1985. Drago has trained his son, Viktor (Florian Munteanu) to become a fighter and sets the stage for a Creed-Drago rematch. (The original fight occurred when the current combatants were in diapers). This, of course, opens up some old psychological wounds for both Donnie Johnson Creed and Rocky Balboa.

The stage is set and Creed II takes this complicated history and forges a simple story. It helps to have seen the other seven Rocky movies in advance, but it is not necessary. Creed II is a unique story about individuals trying to solve problems in their own lives. It is a film of little moments that create a whole satisfactory experience.

For example, there is a subtle nod to Rocky’s illness from the last movie when Donnie compliments his mentor’s new hairstyle. In Creed, Rocky underwent chemotherapy treatment and lost most of his hair. While still intimidating and brutal, Ivan still has a little boy vulnerability about him, especially when his ex-wife (Brigitte Nielsen — who happens to be Stallone’s ex-wife also) appears.

There are plenty of boxing scenes in the movie with the usual inspirational training montage. Being a Creed and not a Rocky movie, the music used in this film plays homage to Ennio Morricone’s work in the Clint Eastwood/Sergio Leone spaghetti westerns. But don’t worry, the original Rocky musical cue is used at the precise moment.

It is these subtle details of the past that enhance the world of Adonis Creed, who is going through the rites of passage with the love of his life, Bianca (Tessa Thompson). Besides battling the demons of the past, Creed II looks at the importance of familiar responsibilities in the present moments. Creed, Balboa and Drago each face a challenge in their own family unit. Creed II provides a fascinating denouement that is appropriate for this holiday season.
Cinema Dave  Swashbuckling ournalist and

FLIFF wrapped, A Star is Born keeps growing Posted on 21 November 2018

The Ft. Lauderdale International Film Festival (FLIFF) concluded its bravest year yet on an upnote, with a successful closing night extravaganza featuring an outdoor screening of Caddyshack at the Ft. Lauderdale International Country Club. Released almost four decades ago and directed by the late Harold Ramis, that popular film was produced by Barbra Streisand’s former hairdresser and live-in boyfriend, Jon Peters.

For legal reasons, Jon Peters also holds a producer credit for this summer’s critically acclaimed and consistent box office champion since Oct. 5, A Star is Born. Driven by social media, many single females in their 20s have attended repeat screenings of this fourth remake, this time starring Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper, who also makes his directorial debut.

The film opens with Jackson Maine (Cooper) on stage at the height of his country rock star game. The next scene features a female voice breaking up with her boyfriend on a cell phone while in a toilet stall. As Ally (Lady Gaga) walks out of the restaurant, her place of work, the title first appears on the big screen, “A STAR IS BORN.” Though simple, these two sequences foreshadow so much.

Seeking to decompress after another stadium filled show, Jackson visits a bar with live music. Though a drag show with female impersonators, Jackson is tearfully impressed with Ally’s rendition of “La Vie En Rose.” He invites himself backstage and asks Ally to join him for a drink.

With developing chemistry, Jack and Ally collaborate on songwriting and singing. During one loud auditorium show, Jack forces Ally onstage. Ally nails the moment and record executives take notice.

As one constantly learns from the entertainment business, so many successful people in the spotlight have many demons in their backstage life. Although this is the fourth adaptation of A Star is Born since 1937, it is a painful lesson that each generation must endure and learn.

With less Hollywood trappings compared to the three previous versions of the film, Bradley Cooper’s unfussy direction tells a truthful tale. Lady Gaga sheds her flamboyant persona and reveals the soul of Ally, the New York girl who has much in common with Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta (Lady Gaga’s real name). A performance driven movie (expect Sam Elliott to be nominated for Best Supporting Actor, along with his leading man and lady), A Star is Born is a performance-driven movie that will be talked about during awards season.

Happy Thanksgiving Day!
Cinema Dave  Swashbuckling ournalist and

FLIFF concludes & documentaries rule Posted on 15 November 2018

With no Marvel Comic Universe or Star Wars movies opening this holiday season, all bets are off in determining the final box office Juggernaut of 2018. The Harry Potter prequel Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald opens this weekend, with Creed II being released in time for Thanksgiving, repeating the marketing strategy of the Rocky Balboa in 2006 and the original Creed in 2015. The much acclaimed A Star is Born has shown consistent box office numbers, with a likely resurgence this Thanksgiving weekend.

The Ft. Lauderdale International Film Festival (FLIFF) concludes its 33rd edition this weekend. More than any other FLIFF in memory, documentaries and short subjects are overshadowing the fictional features. Each category is very competitive and the subjects vary. While the best documentaries are science based, the short subjects vary in tone from serious to whimsical.

Shot in the Cayman Islands, Hotel features a sad man and a happy woman who meet in the hallway. Being out of towners, both people find they have much in common. It should be noted that the female ingenue is portrayed by Taylor Burrowes, an actress with a PhD in counseling who goes by the moniker, “Doctor Babe.”

An Italian short subject based on a true story, Magic Alps looks at immigrants entering Italy and being separated from their pets.

United Kingdom’s The Vest is a seven minute nightmare about a suicide bomber who seeks redemption.

From Life is an eight minute short subject from the United Kingdom. A complete story with a solid beginning and middle with a surprise ending, this movie provokes thoughts about art, history and the nature of being. From Life is easily the best short subject of the festival, though Animal Cinema deserves special recognition for a science short subject. Told from the perspective of wild creatures operating video cameras from 2012 to 2017, the video footage was found on all seven continents.

Directed by Teresa Tico, Keely Shaye Brosnan and executive produced by her husband Pierce, Poisoning Paradise looks at the conflict between native Hawaiians and corporations developing genetic pesticides for corn crops. With a dramatic opening and close celebrating the Hawaiian Paradise, this film bogs down in the middle by relying on television interviews and stock footage of protests.

In contrast, Secrets of a Frozen Ocean is a minimalist documentary about a 75-year-old scientist who makes one last trek to the Arctic to find evidence of a meteor landing there millions of years ago. Avoiding editorial drama and a musical score that would make Marlon Perkin’s “Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom” so cheesy, this film strives for truth and is very humane.

Sharkwater Extinction is easily the best documentary of FLIFF. The narrative is strong and the cinematography captures the oceans, landscapes and sunsets in Gods crowning glory. Adventurer Rob Stewart’s life mission appeared to have been to change the negative perception of sharks as a killing machine. When viewed rationally, sharks are necessary predators of the food cycle to prevent population surplus.

[Stewart showed his first 2006 film Sharkwater at FLIFF and he was presented a Humanitarian Award by FLIFF in 2012 when his film Revolution was showing at Cannes]. Tragically, in 2017, he died while diving in The Keys [possibilty from equipment malfunction]. His last film, Sharkwater Extinction will be screened this Saturday night at 8 p.m. at Bailey Hall at Broward College (3501 Davie Rd, Davie, FL 33314). Even if one separates the emotional connection to this young man’s last film, Sharkwater Extinction deserves to be seen on the BIG SCREEN to appreciate the visual beauty of the world of which we live.
Cinema Dave  Swashbuckling ournalist and

What They Had opens, FLIFF continues & House of Wax concludes Posted on 07 November 2018

Relief. The campaign season is over and we can start to think seriously about the upcoming public holidays — Veteran’s Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s and Martin Luther King Jr. weekend. For many, it is a time of renewal and a time to reconnect with family and friends. For seasoned citizens, it is a time to confront the challenges of aging, and the collateral repercussions.

Opening this weekend, What they Had is family drama that looks at this subject. There is already Oscar buzz for the performances given by Hilary Swank, Michael Shannon, Robert Forster and Blythe Danner. Danner portrays the matriarch suffering from dementia. When she goes for a midnight walk in a Chicago Blizzard, the son and daughter (Shannon and Swank, respectively) begin to doubt their father’s (Foster’s) competency to care for their mother. The drama will be real and painful, but expect the tender mercy of humor in family discord.

While Halloween created box office records for an October movie release, revenue dropped dramatically on Nov. 1, losing to Disney’s The Nutcracker and the Four Realms. Despite mediocre reviews, save for Rami Malek’s performance as Freddy Mercury, Bohemian Rhapsody was last week’s box office champion. While the biopic follows the Hollywood formula, it is the Rock ‘n Roll sequences that merit seeing this film on the big screen.

Despite the cold and flu bug that has intruded upon The 33rd Annual Ft. Lauderdale International Film Festival (FLIFF), the event is going smoothly with successful screenings at the Seminole Hard Rock, Savor Cinema and Cinema Paradiso-Hollywood. Philanthropist Steve Savor received the Marti Huizenga Humanitarian Award, a distinguished honor. Along with her husband Wayne, Marti Huizenga founded FLIFF in the late 1980s from the Las Olas Boulevard headquarters of Blockbuster video. A friendly face at the concession counter, Tina La Boeuf, was named Employee of the Year and received her plaque. For those who earn a plaque from FLIFF, the inscription alone is worth the honor.

This Veterans Day weekend, the fun continues with screenings and the events at Cinema Paradiso-Hollywood, Savor Cinema and NSU Art Museum in downtown Ft. Lauderdale. Viewings are free for those with museum membership for the screenings beginning Tuesday, Nov. 13. On Thursday Nov. 15, the museum will host The Art & Times of Frosty Myers at 7:30 p.m. This also is an opportunity to check out the Glackens and Renoir exhibit that opened last month.

For many years, FLIFF would celebrate the Ft. Lauderdale canals [Intracoastal] as America’s Venice with a morning cruise. With Daylight Saving Time and potential confusion, this event has been transformed into a Sunset Cruise this Monday night, Nov. 12 aboard the Musette. As we have experienced the evening darkness at 6 p.m., this is an opportunity to screen four international short subjects in the dark about a variety of topics, all of them dramatic. For info. on all FLIFF events and screenings, visit www.fliff.com.

This columnist will be hosting the last screening of House of Wax this Friday evening. While he will be donating four of his books in a post screening trivia contest, he will also donate an autographed copy of The Book of Joe written by Vincent Price. Complete with 3-D glasses, last week’s House of Wax screening went extremely well, with people laughing and screaming at the appropriate times. This film is as worthy today on the big screen as it was 65 years ago, before the advent of cell phones, cable television and color television sets.

Happy Veterans Day!
Cinema Dave  Swashbuckling ournalist and

FLIFF begins Posted on 01 November 2018

After last year’s historical film festival with Burt Reynolds, there is no denying the challenge this year’s 33rd Ft. Lauderdale International Film Festival (FLIFF) faces. Fortunately, with nearly three decades experience putting on such a such an event, festival director Gregory von Hausch and his merry crew of technicians and volunteers have programmed three weeks of films that celebrate Broward County. Given how the motion picture industry does not travel south of Atlanta these days, it is especially important that FLIFF shines this week.

While most of the presentations will be held at the usual locations of Savor Cinema and Cinema Paradiso-Hollywood, this year’s venues also include the NOVA Ft. Lauderdale Museum of Art and the Sunrise Civic Center. With a portion of ticket proceeds going to hurricane relief for Hurricane Michael victims in the Florida Panhandle, the festival opens at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino with a French Garden Party saluting the opening night film, The Return of the Hero, starring Jean Dujardin, Oscar winner from The Artist, which premiered at the FLIFF in 2011.

While this columnist is looking forward to hosting the 65th anniversary screening of House of Wax, Saturday night at 10 p.m. at Savor Cinema, the theater will also feature Smuggling Hendrix before it at 8 p.m., a film written and directed by Marios Piperides from Cyprus. Prior to the movies Southeast premier, Michelle Filippi will host a Greek Party in the theater’s John Mager Courtyard.

While one might think this film has something to do with legendary guitarist Jimi Hendrix, it really is a story about a dog named “Jimi,” a comedy that pokes fun at culture, politics and borders. It is the story of a divorced man with custody of “Jimi,” who crosses the Cyprus/Turkey border for a vacation that becomes an epic journey. A favorite of the Festival Director, Smuggling Hendrix promises to be 93 minutes of cinema fun.

On Wednesday, Nov. 7 at the Westin Ft. Lauderdale Beach Resort, prepare to take a time machine to December 1960 with a screening of Where the Boys Are. Florida legend Connie Francis will be in attendance, as well as Woody Woodbury, who will receive a Lifetime Achievement Award. Unlike the previous parties where gala clothes or togas seemed appropriate, swimsuits will be what to wear. In tribute to “Ft. Liquordale,” there will be complimentary drinks at the “Elbo Room After-Party.”

“Shorts at Sea” will be a unique event on Monday, Nov. 12 aboard the Musette. This twilight cruise will feature heavy hors d’oeuvres and four short films, with the longest film being only 15 minutes long.

The topics vary from cute animals to ghosts to life affirmation. Short subjects are underrated gems and this cruise on the Musette will raise the profile of these films.

The Miami Dolphins have faded, the World Series is over and there is a hotly contested election next Tuesday. Now more than ever we need a vacation from the ordinary film and FLIFF will provide that escape. For details on these and other events and films, visit www.fliff.com.
Cinema Dave  Swashbuckling ournalist and

Halloween & House of Wax Posted on 25 October 2018

One month shy of her 60th birthday, Jamie Lee Curtis received an early present from the box office gross of her latest Halloween movie. When it was announced that Curtis would be returning, the hype machine cranked up, but, in the shadow of the Me Too movement, this Halloween motion picture took on added significance. Like Nightmare on Elm Street’s Heather Lagenkamp’s “Be Nancy” advocacy, Halloween places emphasis upon the heroine, with less glorification on the boogeyman.

Released 40 years ago, the original Halloween, starring a teenage Jamie Lee Curtis, had the shadow of the Chi Omega murders on the Florida State University campus earlier in the year, which led to the arrest (and eventual execution) of serial killer Ted Bundy. While a good horror movie can provide pure escapist entertainment, the subtext will provide dark unease.

There have been a total of 11 films in the Halloween franchise and Jamie Lee Curtis has been in five of them. Twenty years ago, Curtis first acknowledged her debt to the franchise. With Halloween H20: 20 Years Later, despite a strong ensemble cast, the film felt repetitive. Yet, it is significant for this film features the final onscreen appearance of Jamie Lee Curtis’s mommy, Janet Leigh. As an Easter egg, Leigh offers Curtis some maternal advice, then drives away in a car similar to the car she drove in Psycho [with score from Psycho playing in the background]. Leigh was Oscar-nominated for playing the victim (most known for the shower scene) in that classic Sir Alfred Hitchcock movie.

Ironically, Leigh was given the role that was originally written for J.P. Soles, a memorable victim from the first Halloween movie. Having been seen as a memorable bully with a red baseball hat in Carrie, Soles appeared topless in Halloween and improvised her funny dialogue and tragic death scene.

The comedic spark has served Soles well as she made appearances in comedies like Stripes, Rock ‘n’ Roll High School (starring the Ramones), Private Benjamin (starring Goldie Hawn) and the Oscar-nominated Breaking Away, where she worked with her future ex-husband, Dennis Quaid. A friendly face on the horror convention and film festival circuit, Soles has a cameo appearance as “Teacher” in the new Halloween film.

Last Saturday night, Abbott and Costello meets Frankenstein played on Svengoolie on MeTV. This film effectively retired the champion monsters from the previous 18 years: Dracula, the Frankenstein Monster and the Wolf Man. As a closing gag, the Invisible Man shows up to scare off Bud & Lou. The voice of the Invisible Man is portrayed by Vincent Price, an actor who retained his reign of terror for the next 50 years of Cinema.

Vincent Price earned a Lifetime Achievement honor from the Ft. Lauderdale International Film Festival in 1991. In recognition of the 65th Anniversary, Savor Cinema will be screening House of Wax on Saturday, Nov. 3 and Friday, Nov. 9 and it is this columnist’ honor to host these two screenings. At each screening, Cinema Dave will donate Vincent Price’s book about his faithful dog, The Book of Joe , which was autographed by Vinnie and his daughter Victoria Price. BE THERE and BE SCARED, if you DARE!
Cinema Dave  Swashbuckling ournalist and

First Man, FLIFF helps Hurricane Michael relief Posted on 17 October 2018

Even though some American flags flew in First Man, the box office results for First Man last weekend was a disappointment. Despite casting two non-Americans in the leading roles and poor public relations from the studio, director and screenwriter Damien Chazelle has crafted an epic motion picture, without losing sight of character development in subtle ways.

The film opens with Neal Armstrong (Ryan Gosling) test piloting an X-15 rocket plane when he accidentally bumps off into outer space. Keeping his cool, Neal returns to earth safely. His domestic life is not so safe, as his young daughter is terminal with a brain tumor. A stoic man with a stoic wife named Janet (Claire Foy), Neal tries to problem solve his daughter’s illness with the same detached precision of engineering and flying an X-15.

When his daughter dies, Neal channels his anguish into his work. With the space race in hot competition with the Soviet Union, Neal commands a Gemini spacecraft, which almost spins into disaster. Showing his grit and intelligence under extreme pressure, Neal is eventually named the commander of Apollo 11 and the rest is history.

Visually, First Man does not disappoint. Enhancing actual NASA footage with computer software, First Man will be playing in mainstream theaters (as well as at the Ft. Lauderdale Museum of Discovery IMAX six-story screen for the rest of this month. While there, check out the Archimedes Exhibit).

For all of its bells and whistles, the theme of First Man is how a family copes with grief. Besides the loss of their daughter, there is the loss of colleagues from accidents. The pain of grief is real, but how one deals with loss presents character. With understated nuance, Gosling and Foy have earned awards for their stoic performances. Expect some buzz for First Man when the awards season begins.

In two weeks, the Ft. Lauderdale International Film Festival (FLIFF) kicks off its three weeks of international films, parties and merry making. To coincide with the screening of Return of the Hero, FLIFF will be hosting a French Garden Party at the Seminole Hard Rock Casino in Hollywood on Friday, Nov. 2 at 7:30 p.m.

The opening gala is always a special event, but this may be the most important. Given the natural disaster of Hurricane Michael and its devastation of the Florida Panhandle, 50 percent of full price general admission tickets sales will be dedicated to relief efforts for Mexico Beach. The Hard Rock Auditorium can seat 3500 seats, so there is the potential to raise $21,000 dollars to help our Florida neighbors to rebuild their lives. To purchase a ticket, please visit this website — www.fliff.com/movies and scroll down to Return of the Hero.
Cinema Dave  Swashbuckling ournalist and

The Samuel Project & The Walking Dead Day Posted on 11 October 2018

Looking for a positive experience at the movies? The Samuel Project opens this weekend and it could be the film for you. Starring Hal Linden (as the curmudgeon Samuel) and Ryan Ochoa (as the artistic Eli, the Grandson), The Samuel Project is about individuals who cross generational and cultural divisions.

Eli is an art student who is given an assignment to tell a story through his craft. His grandfather, Samuel, considers Eli’s art as a bunch of “doodles.” One afternoon, Eli is recruited by Samuel to go see an elderly Jewish woman on her deathbed. Revealing an emotional crack in his grandfather’s stoic persona, Eli realizes he has a personal story to tell about his grandfather surviving the Holocaust.

The subject is serious, but the humor is respectful. Director/writer Marc Fusco presents Eli and Samuel’s behavioral quirks in an endearing way. Like a good Hallmark channel type movie, politeness triumphs over pettiness and the grand finale builds to an agreeable climax. While there is no kicker in the end, stick around and watch the animated credits.

This Saturday, Oct. 13, the Deerfield Beach Percy White Library acknowledges the popular TV show The Walking Dead with its Walking Dead Day, which celebrates nine seasons of the zombie apocalypse on the AMC Cable Channel. At 2 p.m., there will be a screening of a classic black & white Val Lewton terror movie starring Frances Dee and Tom Conway, released 75 years ago. (Due to licensing agreements, the title cannot be revealed; however, there are plenty of flyers available at the library.)

Set on a fictional Caribbean island, this noir classic eschews gore and decapitations to set up a fearful mood. With a very modest budget, the techniques of light and shadows have influenced modern filmmakers. Evidence of Val Lewton’s production values can be found in modern classics like It, The Sixth Sense and Halloween. The images from this film are haunting.

Thanks to the sponsorship of the AMC cable channel, the first 20 people to attend the screening at 2 p.m. will receive artifacts from a box that mysteriously arrived at the Deerfield Beach Percy White Library. After screening the 70 minute movie, there will be a Walking Dead Day Trivia Contest, hosted by this reporter, as well as volunteer extraordinare Lita Andreano.

Walking Dead prizes will be awarded to individuals who finish in first, second and third places. For those who want to study for the Trivia Contest, the answers can be found within the Walking Dead television show, the previous movie being screened, horror literature, monster movies, and Halloween culture and rituals. Like The Samuel Project, the emphasis is not doom and gloom, but entertainment and fun.
Cinema Dave  Swashbuckling ournalist and

The Final hoopla of Adventures in Charity, FLIFF cultivates Florida locals Posted on 04 October 2018

In the motion picture industry, the last weekend in September features box office doldrums. Halloween season is starting to rev up, while some of the summer blockbuster movies enjoy their final big screen moments on the smaller screen. This is why for the past six years I have departed Deerfield to attend “Adventures in Charity” in Orlando.

The Adventurers Club in Disney World opened when Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade was playing on the big screen, circa 1989, and closed when Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull was released in 2008. A controversial business decision, Disney made plans to convert Downtown Disney into Disney Springs. The plan was successful, though many Adventurers Club members were displaced. [The Adventurer’s Club was a themed nightclub in Pleasure Island with theatrical entertainers in this part of Disney World]. Nature abhors a vacuum and for four years, there were reenactments. However, it wasn’t until 2013 with the creation of Adventures in Charity, that I started making the pilgrimage to the Holiday Inn Resort by Lake Buena Vista to attend. The show was so good that my 94-year-old mom has joined for the last five years.

Under Chairman Robert Croskery’s financial leadership and the dedicated attention of the Adventures in Charity Board, the Adventurers Club lived on, but with the mission of helping charities. This year, they raised $25,000, more than double the amount of the previous five individual charity event totals. Proceeds benefited the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, the Texas Civil Rights Foundation, the Actors Fund, the Sjogren’s Syndrome Foundation and the Dravet Foundation.

Each year, this author donated “A Cinema Dave Adventure Pack” which featured my four published books and various unique artifacts from “The Cave of Cinema Dave” [Dave’s house], including a mini crystal head vodka bottle autographed by Dan Aykroyd.

With budget limitations, cast member Graham Murphy scripted an adaptation of club bits and featured songs. This was a true Ma & Pa operation as Graham’s wife Emily filled in as secretary/event decor and swag coordinator. The spirit of adventuring lived on.

Adventurers in Charity ran its full course last Saturday night, almost to the day of the 10 year anniversary of the original club’s closing. It was still a bittersweet moment, as many of us accepted that our club has now folded; tears were shed.

Still, being a true adventurer, there had to be one last act of defiance. Last Sunday at 1 p.m., a flash mob of 21 adventurers visited “The Edison,” the steampunk replacement artifice of our beloved club. On cue, we all sang a rousing version of the Adventurers Club all-purpose theme song. Our building and our annual charity weekend are history, but the spirit of the Adventurers Club lives on…

The Ft. Lauderdale International Film Festival will be born again this Nov. 2. There will be an emphasis upon Florida locals. While Connie Francis has already been announced, Cindy Morgan (Caddyshack) and Woody Woodbury have been added to the list of attendees. Woodbury owned a nightclub in Ft. Lauderdale 45 years ago and made movies with Fred MacMurray, Ernest Borgnine, Jerry Lewis and baseball legends Mickey Mantle & Roger Maris. Expect the spirit of adventure this FLIFF season. For more info., visit www.FLIFF.com.
Cinema Dave  Swashbuckling ournalist and

The next generation of A Star is Born, Connie Francis, James Keach and others to visit FLIFF 2018 Po

Earlier this year, it was announced that there was going to be a remake of Scarface. There was wailing and gnashing of teeth for some critics, who thought the Al Pacino/Steven Bauer film was such a classic. What current film critics overlook is that the 1983 version was a remake of the Paul Muni/George Raft classic of 1932. Given the contrast of time and the gangster culture, perhaps it is time for another Scarface to reflect the culture of today.

With much Oscar buzz already, A Star is Born opens officially Oct. 5. This is the 4th adaptation of this story since 1937 and each time A Star is Born has been an Oscar contender. This time, Bradley Cooper (who also directs) and Lady Gaga portray the roles that have been portrayed by Frederick March & Mitzi Gaynor, Judy Garland and James Mason, and Barbara Streisand and Kris Kristofferson, respectively. The story is simple, entertaining and romantically tragic.

Before passing the torch to the Ft. Lauderdale International Film Festival (FLIFF), Savor Cinema will be hosting a unique birthday party for Mark Ferman this Friday, Sept. 28. A co-host for Popcorn Frights and Film Junkies, Ferman will host a screening of the Bruce Lee Classic Enter the Dragon. Prior to the screening, the award-winning Box of Chaco’s food truck will serve Asian dishes.

FLIFF has announced their opening night film at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino for Friday, Nov. 2. A French farce with English subtitles, Return of the Hero stars Melanie Laurent and Jean Dujardin. Dujardin was introduced to the FLIFF filmgoers in 2011 when The Artist premiered, a film that went on to win the Oscar for Best Picture with Dujardin earning the Best Actor Award.

FLIFF has survived as a three decade old film festival because it balances the modern with the traditional. There will be a Florida emphasis this November with screenings of Caddyshack and Where the Boys Are. Known for singing the signature song, Connie Francis is expected to host the pool party at the Westin Ft. Lauderdale resort on Wednesday, Nov. 7. Other celebs are slated to appear at the fest too. (More on that soon).

James Keach will be one guest. He will be at the fest Nov. 14-15 and will screen his documentary Turning Point, a film about science being unpredictable. His last documentary was I’ll Be Me, about Glen Campbell’s last tour while battling Alzheimer’s Disease. A James Keach production usually garners award notice.

The brother of Stacy Keach, James Keach has produced the award-winning Johnny Cash bio picture, Walk the Line, and directed numerous television shows. James also costarred with his brother (along with the Carradine Brothers, the Guest Brothers and the Quaid Brothers) in the Western The Long Riders. James and Stacey Keach portrayed Jessie and Frank James, respectively.
Cinema Dave  Swashbuckling ournalist and

Love, Gilda Posted on 20 September 2018

RE: Love, Gilda — It was post Halloween in 1975 and Channel 12 WPEC presented too many commercial interruptions of Son of Frankenstein on Creature Feature. Frustrated, I switched the dial and tried this new show, Saturday Night Live. Candice Bergen was the guest star, with a new cast of unknowns (known as The Not Ready for Prime Time Players). Among the unknowns, there was Gilda Radner, who appeared both vulnerable and tough enough to take a funny pratfall.

Gilda Radner died a month short of her 43rd birthday from Ovarian Cancer and young people today may just know her because a sick relative may visit Gilda’s Club for comfort. However, this new documentary, Love Gilda, presents videos of what made this comedian so successful, respected and loved.

Through home movies, we see a chubby girl from a well-to-do Jewish family in Detroit. Using comedy as a defense for her insecurities, Gilda becomes the class clown and excels in performing. Moving to Canada, Gilda finds work on the musical Godspell (despite her initial inability to sing) and is noticed by the Second City and National Lampoon comedy troupes. Using her personal diary as a narrative thread, Love Gilda is not just a celebration of her life. Through laughter, Love Gilda shows how one can achieve victory over his or her own mortality.
Cinema Dave  Swashbuckling ournalist and

Museo Posted on 20 September 2018

A hit at the Berlin Film Festival, Museo is a film with international acclaim set in Mexico. It is the holiday season and Juan Nunez (Gael Garcia Bernal) is bored with simmering anger. Observing the lax security at the National Museum of Anthropology in Mexico City, Juan recruits his friend Benjamin (Leonardo Ortizgris) to rob the museum on Christmas Eve.

With relative ease, Juan and Benjamin steal over 140 treasures and artifacts. The heist becomes an international sensation in 1985, for many of the stolen objects are priceless artifacts from the Mayan culture. Due to the notoriety of the crime, the young criminals have a hard time trying to fence the objects for payment.

Unlike the film noir conventions of The Asphalt Jungle or Heist, Museo presents a travel log of adventure. The stolen artifacts are presented as shimmering treasures that are misused by the crooks. One scene of debauchery features Juan drinking alcohol from a cup that may have been used by Montezuma. Montezuma’s revenge is not presented, but Museo reaches a thought-provoking and satisfying climax.
Cinema Dave  Swashbuckling ournalist and

The lessons of Burt Reynolds Posted on 13 September 2018

The first Burt Reynolds movie that I saw on the big screen was with my Cousin Leisia in Pensacola, Florida and the movie was White Lightening, co-starring Ned Beatty and Diane Ladd with the screen debut of her daughter, Laura Dern. It was an entertaining Country Western car chase movie that delighted this then 10-year-old boy. White Lightening marked the first of genre films that Burt Reynolds became known for.

During the 1970s, Burt proved to be an entertaining guest on television talk shows. He was a humorous storyteller and, when he was on The Tonight Show starring Johnny Carson, a food fight would ensue, especially if Dom DeLuise was around. This decade also featured Burt’s best movies, Deliverance, The Longest Yard and Smokey and the Bandit.

When I was attending Florida State University, there were rumors of Burt Reynolds sightings at all the major football games in Doak Campbell Stadium. This was a boom period for the motion picture industry and Burt Reynolds did much to promote local business. Besides producing, directing and starring in multiple locations filmed in Florida, Burt was in B.L. Stryker, a detective series that was set in Palm Beach County and lasted two seasons on ABC Broadcast television. The show employed many local actors and crew.

Despite his Emmy Award-winning success on the CBS Sitcom Evening Shade, much of the early 1990s were troubled times for Mr. Reynolds. Yet, Burt persevered through his craft and earned a Best Supporting Oscar nomination for his work on Boogie Nights, a film he detested. Burt seemed more comforted by his weekly commentary, “Great Moments in Seminole Football” that aired on local television. Burt authored many books, including Seminole Seasons: Florida State’s Rise to the Nation Title.

After open heart surgery in 2010, Burt made his first public appearance at the 15th Annual Palm Beach International Film Festival. This was the first time that I got to meet him. He was reticent to talk to reporters, but I was granted a question. Standing next to Quinton Aaron (The Blind Side), Burt looked frail. However, when it was time for him to accept his Lifetime Achievement Award, the movie star genes clicked in and Burt gave a fantastic speech about Quinton Aaron, Quinton Tarantino and his adopted son, Quinton. As he talked about his Palm Beach roots, Burt seemed reborn that fine April evening.

Five years later, Burt Reynolds attended Spooky Empire, [a horror convention in Orlando.] Burt and his entourage really seemed to enjoy interacting with his variety of fans: the Deliverance minions, the Smokey and the Bandit crew or old cowboys who remembered his Gunsmoke days. At this convention, I was able to confirm a Hollywood legend — that a studio executive fired both Burt Reynolds and Clint Eastwood on the same day.

The 2017 Ft. Lauderdale International Film Festival was the last time I saw Burt in person. It was a fantastic evening at the Seminole Hard Rock Casino, with Burt arriving in a modified “Trans Am Golf Cart” and concluding with an emotional summary of his life, career and craft, after a screening of the film he starred in, Dog Years (The title has changed to The Last Movie Star). Clips of Reynolds talking after the screening can be found on my “Cinema Dave” YouTube Channel. However, there is a story that bears repeating here — Burt’s conversation with Last Movie Star co-star Ariel Winter (from the television show Modern Family). Apparently, Miss Winter had a bit of a potty mouth and it bothered Mr. Reynolds. The old actor pulled the young actress aside and asked, “Do you like Sally Field?”

Ariel Winter responded in the affirmative and Burt Reynolds continued, “Well, Sally Field don’t talk like you. She wouldn’t talk like you. You would have to hit her with a board to make her say some of the words you say. And I don’t talk like that, I don’t think. You can’t do that anymore and I am not going to let you. You gotta stop it, you are a pretty little thing and you are talented and I don’t want you to do that no more. You either got to stop it or quit acting!”

Ariel Winter said she would stop using vulgar language and she did not use that type of language in front of Burt Reynolds again.

Despite his fame or scandal, most people who met Burt Reynolds enjoyed his candor and Southern Manners. Perhaps, that is the best lesson movie star and teacher Burt Reynolds could teach us and his peers.
Cinema Dave  Swashbuckling ournalist and

MODS, FLIFF or sequels, everything old is new again Posted on 05 September 2018

The Nun will have a one-week engagement at the Ft. Lauderdale Museum of Discovery and Science (MODS) IMAX theatre this weekend [and will also be shown in regular theaters]. The Nun is part of an original horror movie franchise created by James Wan that includes titles like The Conjuring and The Conjuring 2 movies and the two Annabelle movies. Like the Marvel Comic universe, each one of these thrillers is a standalone story of a contemporary world around us. After making a memorable, but brief appearance in The Conjuring 2, The Nun features an original story about a nun battling suicidal tendencies.

After The Nun, The Predator, The House with a Clock in its Walls and Venom will take over IMAX’s five-story screen. The now controversial (for not showing American astronauts planting the flag on the moon) First Man opens on Oct. 11 for a two-week stay. Based on the eight years in the life of Neil Armstrong leading up to the moon landing in 1969, First Man has received standing ovations at the Venice Film Festival.

Locally, The Ft. Lauderdale International Film Festival (FLIFF) will dominate November. The opening film and party will begin Friday, Nov. 2 at the remodeled Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino. Beyond the regular screenings at the Savor Cinema in Ft. Lauderdale and Cinema Paradiso Hollywood, there will be special screenings and party related themes at a variety of other venues. The Westin Ft. Lauderdale Beach Resort will feature a screening of Where the Boys Are. The wrap party on Nov. 18 will feature a fairway screening of Caddyshack at the Ft. Lauderdale Country Club.

Saturday, Nov. 17 will be an interesting day at Bailey Hall. In honor of the 20th anniversary of Pleasantville, starring Tobey Maguire, Reese Witherspoon and Don Knotts in his final film, the afternoon screening of the film will feature a tribute to writer/director Gary Ross, who also directed Seabiscuit, The Hunger Games and Ocean’s 8.

Twelve years ago, FLIFF premiered Sharkwater, a documentary that was sympathetic to the ocean’s mightiest predator, the shark. Sharkwater Extinction is a follow-up documentary that will examine the roll of the predator and its role in the balance of nature. Has there been progress? The answers can be seen at a party/screening on Nov. 17 at Bailey Hall.

As the film industry wraps up 2018, it will not feature a Star Wars or a Marvel Comics universe movie. There will be a prequel to the Harry Potter series with a sequel to Fantastic Beasts, written by JK Rowling. Co-written by Sylvester Stallone, Rocky Balboa returns to the big screen in Creed II, which stars Michael Jordan in a unique sequel that reaches back to a Rocky sequel from 1985. As lyricist Peter Allen once sang, “Everything old is new again.”
Cinema Dave  Swashbuckling ournalist and

Even with no nudity, Juliet, Naked is a fun romantic comedy Posted on 29 August 2018

First premiering at the Sundance Film Festival last winter, Juliet, Naked is a new romantic comedy that opens this Labor Day weekend at select theaters. For the 50 Shades of Grey fans, Juliet,Naked will be a disappointment. There is no nudity nor acrobatic sex scenes, but for fans of Spencer Tracy/Katherine Hepburn or Tom Hanks/Meg Ryan movies, then Juliet,Naked is the film for you.

Tucker Crowe (Ethan Hawke) is an American one-hit-wonder who penned and performed the song “Juliet.” Much like the cult worship of Jim Morrison and Kurt Cobain, Tucker Crowe is the subject of worship for some British music fans, especially Duncan Thomson (Chris O’Dowd). Duncan has had a long time relationship with live-in girlfriend Annie Platt (Rose Byrne), who tolerates her boyfriend’s obsession with the faded musician.

One day, Annie receives a bootleg CD titled “Juliet, Naked” and listens to it, unimpressed by the song. After a comedic domestic dispute, Duncan listens to the song and worships it. While discussing the CD on his podcast, Duncan is met with some heavy criticism from an anonymous source. The anonymous source turns out to be Tucker Crowe.

Bit by bit, the plot moves forward to a logical climax and conclusion. The mystery and magnitude of Tucker Crowe is deconstructed, while Rose and Duncan take the time to discuss the seriousness of their relationship. Will there be a happy ending? Let’s just say that this romantic comedy supplies a satisfactory ending.

Juliet, Naked is based on the novel of the same name by Nick Hornby. This British novelist also penned High Fidelity, About a Boy and his own memoir Fever Pitch, all titles that have been converted into movies. While not major box office sensations, the movie versions of Nick Hornby’s books have grown in status with repeated television viewings. The characters and situations are real with much audience empathy. The emphasis is about everyday pains, but with subtle humor.

As either second banana or the heroine’s antagonist in romantic comedies like Bridesmaids and The Internship, top billed Rose Byrne shines as the heroine. Chris O’Dowd also shines as the super fan, who becomes the romantic rival to his own idol. Ethan Hawke was born to play enigmatic Tucker Crowe. As written, Crowe could have been a total jerk, but Hawke brings a working class charisma to the musician, who prefers to just live in his garage apartment and talk to his many kids, from his two or three wives, or girlfriends.

Being a romantic comedy, go see this movie with some friends and get some dinner afterwards. Juliet, Naked is a communal affair that is best seen on the Big Screen. Happy Labor Day!
Cinema Dave  Swashbuckling ournalist and

Papillon flies in the face of repression Posted on 23 August 2018

This summer marks the 45th anniversary of when my parents and I moved to South Florida. Every weekend, we did something new and went exploring from Clewiston to Dinner Key. One Saturday night, we went to the movies at the Boca Twin, which was located in the 5th Avenue Shopping Plaza in Boca Raton (A McDonalds now stands where a box office used to be). Our choices were either the Paul Newman/Robert Redford movie The Sting or the Steve McQueen/Dustin Hoffman movie Papillon. We chose The Sting, which won the Best Picture Oscar that year.

I finally got to see Papillon five years later on broadcast television. As the title character, Papillon was Steve McQueen’s film from start to finish, but Dustin Hoffman stole most of the scenes as the ratty Louis Dega. The same could be written about the new Papillon, which opens this weekend at a local cinema, which stars Charlie Hunan as the title character and Rami Malek as the scene-stealing Louis Dega.

Henri Charrière is a suave safe cracker in Paris near the Moulin Rouge underground. After being framed for a murder he did not commit, Charrière is sentenced to a penal colony in French Guyana. Unlike the four season climate in Europe, the South American heat is brutal and Charrière is frequently shirtless. Due to a butterfly (French translation = papillon) tattoo on his chest, Charrière is nicknamed “Papillon.”

Given his street smarts and natural ability, Papillon is hired by Louis Dega (Malek) as a bodyguard. A master forger, Dega absconded to prison with money hidden in an unmentionable orifice, a seemingly common practice in the French Guyana penal system. When other convicts get wind of inmates carrying cash in this manner, the inmate is frequently gutted by fellow inmates and corrupt prison guards.

Infractions of the rules are met with harsh brutality. When a prisoner is captured trying to escape, he is sentenced to a guillotine. Before chopping off his head, the executioner states the philosophy of this hellish prison: “Keeping you is no benefit. Destroying you is no loss.”

The theme of escape is a constant in prison movies. Various attempts are made by Papillon to escape, only to be met with solitary confinement. One tantalizing escape features Papillon, Dega and two inmates attempting an escape during a social event while King Kong is being played on the prison wall.

Director Michael Noer creates a thrilling ride from crudity to sophistication, from carnal lust to spiritual freedom.

Based on Charriere’s autobiographies Papillon and Banco, this is a harsh story but a redemptive one. Both versions of Papillon stand on their own and do reflect the culture in which the film is made.
Cinema Dave  Swashbuckling ournalist and

MCU Anniversary at MODS Posted on 15 August 2018

At the end of 2017, I wrote about “Flicks” going through an evolution. As I completed my 19th year of writing “Flicks,” it was my revelation that the world has changed more than I have. In 1999, one would drive down Federal Highway and see Walden’s, Borders and Blockbuster Video stores, only to be replaced by T-Mobile, Wells Fargos and Aldis .

Bowfinger was the first movie that I had reviewed, which was a positive critique. This Steve Martin/Eddie Murphy movie still holds up. However, it is fascinating to see Robert Downey Jr. in a cameo as a studio executive. In 1999, Downey was attempting to make a comeback from his struggle in rehab. A well-respected (and Oscar-nominated) character actor, Downey cleaned up his act and nine years later became a leading man, which kicked off the Marvel Comic Universe (MCU).

Released in 2008, Iron Man received less hype than the return of the fourth Indiana Jones movie. Yet, core Marvel comic ticket buyers propelled Iron Man over Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, Wall-E and the sparkly vampires of Twilight. While not as well known as Batman or Spider-Man, Iron Man provided a fine introduction to the character through a fast paced, entertaining and stand-alone movie, or so it seemed.

Being “Cinema Dave,” I’ve always stuck around past the closing credits of every movie that I have seen. In the previous year, I was rewarded for this behavior when Pirates of the Caribbean: At Worlds End provided a post credit scene which wrapped up the entire trilogy. The MCU was launched during the post credits sequence when Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) showed up in Iron Man’s house and mentioned “the Avenger’s Initiative.”

Nineteen films later and a change of studios (from Paramount to Disney), the MCU has become a box office juggernaut with no signs of stopping. The first phase of Marvel movies provided original stories of Captain America and Thor, which led to the ultimate superhero team up movie, Marvel’s The Avengers.

Again the post credits sequence introduced audiences to Thanos, a creepy character who can (or cannot) destroy the MCU with the snap of his fingers.

While each of these 20 films is interconnected, the genius of the MCU is that each film tells a stand-alone story. Characters from other movies may appear, but if the movie is an Ant-Man or Spider-Man movie, then the title character remains the central protagonist. (If one studies Indian, Greek, Roman, Norse or the Arthurian Legends, the most remembered mythologies follow this pattern of stand-alone stories within the universe of their own culture).

To celebrate the first decade of the MCU, the Ft. Lauderdale Museum of Discovery and Science (MODS) will be screening all 20 movies starting Thursday, Aug. 30 until Thursday, Sept. 6, which includes Labor Day weekend screenings. One can see these movies individually or through special VIP Packages. For more information, visit this website; www.brownpapertickets.com/profile/1119868.
Cinema Dave  Swashbuckling ournalist and

Fifty Shades Freed on DVD & The Meg, Popcorn Frights Film Festival open Posted on 09 August 2018

The fluidity and rapidity of mass media production is increasing at a geometric rate. In less than three months, the No. 2 box office champion of the year (Avengers: Infinity War), is now available to download digitally. While there was much buzz on Facebook about tears being shed during Disney’s Christopher Robin, the box office champion remained Mission: Impossible – Fallout.

Despite being obliterated by Black Panther a week after its release, Fifty Shades Freed enjoyed a solid box office opening and steady home video use. The concluding chapter of the Fifty Shades of Gray trilogy, this romantic S & M flick is a popular franchise that no one in public admits to liking. Of the three Fifty Shades films, Fifty Shades Freed is the second best of the trilogy.

For the first half of the movie, we witness the same naked aerobics between Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan that we have seen in the previous two movies. During these scenes of passion, the musical soundtrack loudly explains Anastasia (Johnson) and Christian’s (Dornan) interior thoughts and motives. There is less S & M in this film, but there is a homage to Kim Basinger/Mickey Rourke music videos that were used to promote Andrian Lyne’s movie from 1986, 9 1/2 Weeks.

The second half of Fifty Shades Freed ties in all of the loose plot threads (A true cynic would ask, ‘There was a plot?’) of the previous movies. Anastasia and Christian have stalker issues, while there is corporate intrigue involving computer hacking. As if it were not cliched enough, Anastasia and Christian have a spat about making babies.

With a sense of guilty pleasure, Fifty Shades Freed does hold one’s attention. Unlike the lumbering second movie, the film does present growth, personal responsibility and maturity.

From the first movie to the last, we witness the virginal and over-dressed Anastasia transform into a married woman who eagerly subscribes to topless sunbathing in the French Rivera.

Of course, the high profile media magnate Christian Grey is not happy with his newlywed’s exhibitionism and he schedules a session in his little red room. Fifty Shades Freed provided closure to the Fifty Shades trilogy.

The Meg opens this weekend at the Ft. Lauderdale Museum of Discovery and Science. Since the dawn of the Internet, The Meg has been in Hollywood development Hell …for 20 years. Based on a series of novels by Steve Alten about prehistoric giant megalodon shark, Jason Statham stars as the title character’s main foil. To appreciate the size of The Meg, check out the permanent Meg exhibit found in the Ft. Lauderdale Museum of Discovery and Science.

Of course, a few blocks down the road, Savor Cinema hosts the Popcorn Frights Film Festival, concluding a summer series, but opening the door for Halloween season!
Cinema Dave  Swashbuckling ournalist and

The King inspires nostalgia, sadness and profound thinking Posted on 01 August 2018

As a teen, the summer of 1977 was a transitional time for this reporter. Memorial Day weekend opened the first ever Star Wars movie, and Smokey and the Bandit featured a driving duel between Jackie Gleason and Burt Reynolds with Country music blaring through auditorium Dolby speakers. As the Miami Dolphins began preseason, Quarterback Bob Griese revealed that he was near-sighted and that he would be wearing big framed eye glasses during game time. Those eye glasses are in the NFL Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio.

We visited family in July that summer. As we departed New York, the big Blackout occurred on July 13. A few weeks later, Mark Lindell and I tried to observe a meteor shower in the middle of the night and we talked about life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, learning that earlier in the day that serial killer David Berkowitz (alias the Son of Sam) had been caught. The death watch for comedian Groucho Marx was the entertainment focus for most of the summer, but this potential news story was overshadowed by the sudden death of a 43-year-old king, Elvis Presley.

Being released this weekend, The King is a unique documentary that examines the cultural heritage of Elvis Presley. Taking the King’s 1963 Rolls-Royce, director Eugene Jarecki visits the places that Elvis lived: Tupelo, MS; Memphis, TN; New York; Hollywood, CA and Las Vegas, NV. While many celebrities and Elvis acquaintances are interviewed, Jarekci makes a point of interviewing people on the environment.

We learn that the street where Elvis is born is still impoverished; he was born in a shack in Tulepo, MS. The glitz and glamour of Las Vegas is revealed to be a film noir nightmare. With television central being headquartered in New York, we see Elvis’s television triumphs that introduced The King to millions of homes witnessing the birth of Rock ‘n Roll. It is in Hollywood that Elvis accepts the soft life and which clouded his future judgments.

There is a strain of pessimism that permeates The King. The poverty of Tupelo compliments the decadence of Las Vegas.

If the American dream is about rising above one’s station in life, could The King represent the American nightmare where one is overwhelmed by choosing success?

When in New York riding in the back seat of the Rolls Royce, social commentator Alec Baldwin (known now, in part, for his Trump impersonations on Saturday Night Live) finds fault with the Reagan Administration for today’s social ills. In Blues music, meeting the devil at the crossroads is part of the mythology of success. Ethan Hawke (who also produced) makes the case that Elvis traded his musical passion for a bigger paycheck.

The King is a good, thought-provoking documentary that raises questions. My question is “Why does the media celebrate Elvis on the anniversary of his death?” For the past four decades, Oldies Radio plays “Jailhouse Rock” and a few cable channels will screen Elvis movies. As I’ve gotten older, I have become more impressed with his versatile vocal talents, a variety of Rock, Gospel and opera. When you view these movies, you see a brown-eyed handsome man in his late 20s and early 30s, unlike the bloated grease-painted caricature in his final years.

Another documentary, Generation Wealth is scheduled to open this weekend. From the makers of The Queen of Versailles, the trailer examines America’s obsession with money. With clips of President Trump in both The King and Generation Wealth, one can expect similar arguments about the demise of the American dream. Yet, the American dream is more than just raising capital. It is taking the capital and doing something that raises the quality of life. Both documentaries reminded me of the words of my mentor, Mary Helen Fontaine-Rassi, given on April 15, 1980: “It is important to be successful, but it is more important to know your own success.”
Cinema Dave  Swashbuckling ournalist and

Plan for the Popcorn Frights Film Festival Posted on 26 July 2018

After Mission: Impossible — Fallout opens this weekend, the big Hollywood studios will cut back on their big budgeted releases until the fall season. Throughout the month of August, lower budgeted movies will be released. Released 40 years ago, the relatively low budget National Lampoon’s Animal House provided a strong return of investment, when the big budgeted/all star multi-marketed Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band nearly bankrupted the same studio, Universal Pictures. Thus due to budgetary considerations, August movie releases tend towards either comedy or horror.

Last weekend, the San Diego Comic Con laid out the blue print for the next year of movie releases. With Marvel Comics not attending, DC Comics absorbed the spotlight with Wonder Woman 1984, Shazam and Aquaman trailers. Due to be released Memorial Day weekend 2019, the Godzilla 2: King of the Monsters trailer inspired shock and awe, while Jamie Lee Curtis’ return to the Halloween franchise inspired nostalgia for Monster Kids.

It is the Monster Kids who will take over the Savor Cinema in Ft. Lauderdale for seven days beginning Friday, Aug. 10. The Popcorn Frights Film Festival concludes a four month season that paid tribute to the fun of going to the movies again. Founded and directed by partners Igor Shteyrenberg and Marc Ferman, Popcorn Frights kicked things off with a successful screening of The Return of the Living Dead featuring Scream Queen Linnea Quigley, who happens to live locally. (Pictured with Popcorn Frights founders, pg. 1).

Quigley had so much fun, that she attended the next screening Popcorn Frights presentation with a screening of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Being a vegan, Quigley did partake in a meatless BBQ sandwich, though regular BBQ sandwiches were available for carnivores. Ticket buyers drove from South Miami and Orlando to attend this grindhouse classic and eat authentic BBQ and ticket purchases have remained consistently big. A Nightmare on Elm Street 4 The Dream Master solidified the success of Popcorn Frights in July.

The Popcorn Frights Film Festival is committed to screening 28 films in seven days. The film titles seem to cross-reference 1970s Roger Corman exploitation flicks with direct-to-VHS titles found on the bargain rack at a Blockbuster video store.

From the United States comes movies like Boogeyman Pop, Wolfman’s Got Nards and Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich.Asia, Europe, Latin America and the former Soviet Union will also be represented. Those titles read much more serious: Cold Skin, Cursed Seat, One Cut of the Dead and Satan’s Slaves.

Popcorn Frights will also pay tribute to Chuck Russell, who directed A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors and The Blob, before moving on to bigger budgeted fare like Eraser (starring Arnold Schwarzenegger) , The Mask (Jim Carrey) and The Scorpion King (Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson). A good festival finds a balance the success of tradition with an eye to a creative future. [For more info, visit www.popcornfrights.com].

The Dog Days of August are fast upon us and the school year will begin shortly. However, there is plenty of air conditioning fun that can still be had at a theater near you.
Cinema Dave  Swashbuckling ournalist and

Leave No Trace opens Posted on 19 July 2018

Despite Wimbledon and World Cup grand finales, the box office enjoyed a solid weekend on the big screen, with Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation being the recent champion. Entertaining flicks like Ant-Man and the Wasp and Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom are providing pure escapism, but the serious documentary Eating Animals is expanding theaters this weekend.

Leave No Trace opens this weekend and this is a special motion picture. Adapted by Peter Rock’s novel My Abandonment, Leave No Trace will stir memories of Cheryl Strayed’s novel Wild (Starring Reese Witherspoon) and Jennifer Lawrence’s breakthrough movie Winter’s Bone, which was co-written and directed by Debra Granik, who also directed and co-wrote Leave No Trace.

Will (Ben Foster) is a war veteran who suffers from post traumatic stress syndrome who is more comfortable living in the wild. Will lives with his 13-year-old daughter Tom (Thomasin McKenzie ) and he home schools her out in the wild. After being spotted by the government, their hovel is bulldozed and the two are forced to live in civilization.

This is not downtown Ft. Lauderdale, but the Pacific Northwest. The father and daughter are given a home and socialization into society. While Will cuts down Christmas trees, the social worker is impressed with Tom’s intelligence. The situation is idyllic, but character is fate as Will suffers from the claustrophobia of having a roof over his head.

In less capable hands, Leave No Trace could have become a full tilt melodrama. Instead, Granik creates a low key experience that reflects the passage of time. We see Tom’s growth while Will is unable to get beyond his own PTSD. As Will, Foster gives his best performance in the movies thus far.

If Winter Bone is remembered for Jennifer Lawrence’s performance, the same will be said about McKenzie’s performance in Leave No Trace. There is no crying or hysterics, but there is pain and growth in her performance. It is a revelation when the daughter says to her father, “The same thing that’s wrong with you isn’t the same thing wrong with me.”

Like Eating Animals, there will be talk about award buzz for Leave No Trace. Take the time to see this one on the big screen some afternoon.
Cinema Dave  Swashbuckling ournalist and

Eating Animals Posted on 12 July 2018

As part of the 4th of July festivities, I indulged in a Duffy’s Hot Dog and enjoyed a half pound cheeseburger (medium well) from Jacks Old Fashioned Hamburger House. My meals were delicious, but I am glad I had those meals before viewing Eating Animals. Since witnessing that documentary, I have been eating vegetarian (Not that this diet is going to last).

Narrated by Natalie Portman, Eating Animals presents how the food industry has become addicted to factory farming. Through this type of farming, we see genetically raised chicken and fish products being bred for consumption. We witness healthy and unhealthy animals being slaughtered by machines and dead on a conveyor belt before being processed and gift wrapped for purchase on grocery shelves or through online purchases.

To director Christopher Quinn’s credit, this film is a politically objective documentary. Democrats and Republicans are treated fairly, though there are some “Deep State” issues involving censorship. Most of the graphic images seen in the film are now considered illegal since this film was released. It has been nine years since the Oscar-winning documentary The Cove was released; expect similar kudos for Eating Animals during the awards season.
Cinema Dave  Swashbuckling ournalist and

Ant-Man & the Wasp Posted on 12 July 2018

With the release of Ant-Man and the Wasp, movie fans will have to wait a full seven months before the next installment of the Marvel Comic Universe 21st movie, Captain Marvel, starring Brie Larson. Thus far, Black Panther, Avengers: Infinity War and the Ant-Man sequel have dominated box office gross for the first half of 2018. While each of one of these Marvel Comic Universe movies are interconnected, the strength of these screenplays is that they present standalone stories.

Since the events of Captain America: Civil War, Scott Lang (a.k.a. Ant Man), played by Paul Rudd, has been under house arrest, but is spending quality time with his daughter, Cassie (Abby Ryder Fortson). Lang is also estranged from Dr. Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) and his daughter, Hope (Evangeline Lilly). Both father and daughter have created the technology that can shrink an individual into the size of an ant … or a wasp.

Of course, there are multiple bad guys with greedy motives who seem intent to destroy happiness. To reveal more of the plot could ruin the popcorn-eating Saturday Matinee fun that Ant-Man and the Wasp delivers. With the exception of some sentimental scenes involving Dr. Pym’s attempts to rescue his wife Janet (Michelle Pfeiffer) from the Quantum Realm, this film is mostly full of fun and merriment.

Suffice it to say with any Marvel Comic Universe movie, stay past the closing credits and see how this film links up with the aftermath of Avengers: Infinity War. People who had not seen Infinity War exited the Museum of Discovery IMAX theater with gasps of astonishment. The cool thing about Ant-Man and the Wasp is that ticket buyers witnessed a few clues to the Marvel Comic Universe films that will be released in 2019!
Cinema Dave  Swashbuckling ournalist and

Backyard Wilderness 3D, the First Purge, & Eating Animals to open Posted on 05 July 2018

With very little surprise, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom dominated the box office. It is soon to be replaced by Ant-Man and the Wasp this week.

As I said last week, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom deserves to be seen on the biggest screen possible (IMAX), for this is the only opportunity one will get to see a Tyrannosaurus Rex or an Apatosaurus life-sized.

Also at IMAX (at the Museum of Discovery & Science in Ft. Lauderdale) is Backyard Wilderness 3D , a simple and entertaining documentary. Set in a suburban New York, we seem to ride on the back of a bird, who spies Katie, a teenage girl working on her computer. Katie is writing a report about nature and can’t seem to find all the information on the Internet.

As the snow melts, Katie goes exploring and witnesses the miracles of nature in her own backyard. As the bird’s eggs hatch, we see the hatchlings eat their first meal and instinctively attempt their first flight. As coyotes await the opportunity to seize a baby deer, ticket buyers are reminded about the savagery outside the safety of the front door. As the narrative reminds us, there are not villains nor victims in nature — simply predators and prey.

With a running time of less than an hour, Backyard Wilderness 3D does not feel rushed as we follow the cycle of the four seasons. Taking a cue from Henry David Thoreau’s nature study, Walden, Backyard Wilderness 3D will inspire you to step outside your door and observe our own tropical ecosystem.

While the emphasis on the 4th of July is baseball, hot dogs, American music and fireworks, the motion picture industry usually tries to release a special movie on this special holiday. Ironically, this 4th of July only one motion picture opened and it seems to be a subversive choice, The First Purge, which is the fourth movie of the dystopian horror franchise.

The core assertion of The Purge series is that crime (including murder) is legal for 12 hours a year. This controlled anarchy is examined from a sociopolitical perspective, while the fundamentals of horror movie jump scares remain intact. While The Purge series was thought to have concluded two years ago with The Purge: Election Year, this new entry opening this week is being used to set up a new cable television program in September.

Narrated by Natalie Portman, Eating Animals is due to locally release in July. This documentary looks at how the meat-packing industry has changed in the past century. With the science of cloning and harmful food additives, one wonders if we will give up our hot dogs and hamburgers and go vegan after viewing this film.
Cinema Dave  Swashbuckling ournalist and

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom Posted on 28 June 2018

Twenty-one summers ago, I quit my social studies teaching job to pursue full-time my Information Science degree from Florida State University. It was my personal renaissance. I really appreciated the “science” movies that summer like Men in Black, Contact and The Lost World: Jurassic Park. I used many of the vocabulary words that I heard from those movies and incorporated them into many of my research papers.

Much scientific and philosophical debate takes place in Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, which opened to better than expected box office gross.

This film is fun and combines jungle adventure with haunted mansion drama featuring a scary monster. There are heroes and villains. There are moments of jolting scares and deep belly laughs. There is science fiction query that raises the question about the meaning of life. Fortunately, none of these scientific distractions get in the way of telling a good story.

It has been three years since the disastrous events from Jurassic World. The abandoned island is suffering from volcanic activity and Professor Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum — reprising his character from the first two Jurassic Park movies) is brought in to testify about rescuing the dinosaurs stranded on the island. When Congress votes to terminate the dinosaurs, a wealthy capitalist, Sir Benjamin Lockwood (James Cromwell) finances a rescue expedition and recruits the two heroes from the last movie, Owen Grady (Chris Pratt) and Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard).

While Owen and Claire debate who dumped who in the last three years, the two are in synch when it comes to rescuing the dinosaurs and in particular, a velociraptor named “Blue” who Owen raised from an egg. It turns out that Lockwood’s underlings have nefarious intentions for Blue and his unique DNA code.

Director J.A. Boyana tells a difficult story, the middle part of a proposed trilogy. Nonetheless, the director fills the two-hour plus screen time with Indiana Jones like thrills.

Like his previous movies The Orphanage and A Monster Calls, Boyana excels with claustrophobic scares. One stand-out scene features Grady and Clare in a cage with a waking Tyrannosaurus Rex. This dark scene balances danger and humor with sophistication.

Certain films need to be seen on the biggest screen imaginable. While it does cost a bit more, this film will be playing at the largest screen in South Florida until the 4th of July, the Ft. Lauderdale Museum of Discovery & Science IMAX. More so than any movie this summer, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom is the movie to see for Saturday matinee popcorn-eating fun.

If you attend an early show, take advantage of the package which allows entrance to exhibits too. Besides catching there is an exhibition that focuses on the effects of a hurricane. You can walk into a wind machine and endure 100 mph winds in a secure environment. Fun is where you find it and, if you are not careful, you might learn something…
Cinema Dave  Swashbuckling ournalist and

American Animals opens & Three Billboards now on DVD Posted on 21 June 2018

Creating a buzz at international film festivals, American Animals opens this weekend in neighborhood theaters. This independent film is reminiscent of “True Crime” television shows from the 1990s that were hosted by the late Robert Stack and William Shatner. Based on a true story, the film is part documentary and part fictional recreation about a theft from a special collections library.

Set in Lexington, Kentucky, this film opens with a quote from Charles Darwin. The opening credits are presented over John Audubon paintings and we see four teenagers playing dress-up as old men enter a special collections library on the Transylvania University campus. The film flashes forward to four older men — Warren Lipka, Spencer Reinhard, Chas Allen and Erik Borsuk, being interviewed about their criminal caper.

The preparation, the heist and the aftermath of the crime is reminiscent of Quentin Tarantino’s dialogue scenes from films like Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction. We witness childhood friends Spencer (Barry Keoghan) and Warren (Evan Peters) rebel against their suburban environment, which feels like the Monkees song “Pleasant Valley Sunday.”

Due to a lack of security at the library, Warren and Spencer hatch a plan to steal the Audubon paintings and sell them to an international arts dealer. As their pipe dream becomes reality, Warren and Spencer recruit Chas (Blake Jenner) and Eric (Jared Abrahamson) to act as extra muscle.

For the most part, the humor of American Animals is watching four highly-educated teenagers perform actions with the same IQ as Jackass participants. When the actual crime is committed, the humor dissipates and the violence becomes painfully real. Does crime pay? Will there be redemption? American Animals has the answer at your local theater this weekend.

Three Billboards Outside Ebbling, Missouri is available for free at your local library on DVD. The winner for Best Screenplay Award at the Oscars, this film has become influential. After the [Grenfell Tower] fire in London and the shooting in Parkland, independent advocates created political (albeit electronic) billboards in protest.

Despite the impact of Oscar wins, Three Billboards Outside Ebbling, Missouri was only a modest success, despite an aggressive marketing campaign from the studios. The trailer presented a justified angry woman taking on a community run by stupid police officers, which probably alienated potential male tickets buyers. Perhaps if it was marketed against Hollywood’s political whims of the time, this good film would have enjoyed a stronger box office.

Unlike the simplicity of the trailers, Three Billboards is a nuanced drama that balances tragedy with comedy.

The three billboards are the catalyst that ignites the showdown between Mildred (Frances McDormand – Best Actress winner) and her conflict between the Sheriff (Woody Harrelson) and his Deputy (Sam Rockwell — Best Supporting Actor winner). With surprising character motivation, the story is unpredictable and filled with pain and redemption.
Cinema Dave  Swashbuckling ournalist and

Despite’s flaws, “Mary Shelley” offers some timely advice Posted on 16 June 2018

Robert DeNiro is not Young Vito Corleone, but he played the character in an Oscar Winning portrayal in The Godfather Part II.” DeNiro also portrayed the “Raging Bull” Jake LaMotta in another Oscar Winning performance. Sometimes, actors get confused between fantasy and reality and think they are the people they are playing. This seems to be the case last Sunday night in Manhattan in which DeNiro portrayed a cult leader in an auditorium filled with sycophantic apostles from the Broadway stage. DeNiro’s profanity laced diatribe criticizing the President of the United States was met with a standing ovation.

As I write this column on Tuesday morning, the divide between entertainment fantasy and political reality has expanded to gargantuan proportions. After a 68 year conflict, President Trump has begun negotiations to denuclearize the despot nation known as North Korea. With dwindling box office and dropping television ratings, entertainment industry leaders may want to rethink supporting a “Fearless Leader” like the delusional DeNiro. With armchair diplomacy and a surging economy, the American consumer may want to become more pragmatic when discussing our current President of the United States, Donald Trump.

Despite entertainment headlines about “Oceans 8” overthrowing “Solo: A Star Wars Story” for the weekend box office crown, sales revenues were flat for the Summer Blockbuster Season. With good word of mouth and full Disney/Pixar backing, expect “The Incredibles 2” to dominate headlines and box office revenue this weekend.

“Mary Shelley” also opens this weekend locally. Forty five years ago on PBS, this English Drama would have been routine programming on Sunday Night’s “Masterpiece Theater.” The film features beautiful scenery, very little action with English people talking a lot.

Elle Fanning portrays “Mary Shelley” and this 20-year-old actress from Conyers, Georgia is quite good as the frail, but strong willed young author. Fanning holds her own with a Veteran British ensemble that features Douglas Booth as Percy Bysse Shelley and Ben Hardy as Doctor Polidori. The three characters write and recite poetry and with one another. The topics of death, women’s liberation and sexual orientation are are also broached.

With the exception of the opening moments when she is reciting ghost stories in a a cemetery, we are three-quarters of the way into the film before we finally see Mary Shelley begin writing the book she is best known for, “Frankenstein.: This dull wait is too long and this is why “Mary Shelley” is such a disappointment to fans of gothic literature.

Besides “The Incredibles 2,” cinematic action will pick up next weekend with the release of “American Animals.” For all of it’s flaws, “Mary Shelley” does contain an important line from Doctor Polidori, “We have created monsters, don’t let them devour us.” Hollywood executives, Broadway producers and Robert DeNiro, take heed.
Cinema Dave  Swashbuckling ournalist and

Horror happenings, Mary Shelley & American Animals open soon Posted on 07 June 2018

As evidenced by last month’s screening of The Return of the Living Dead sponsored by Popcorn Frights, the horror movie community is an untapped market. This Friday, June 8, Popcorn Frights will follow up with a screening of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, directed by Tobe Hooper. Horror devotees are expected to drive from Orlando and Miami to catch this special screening at the Savor Cinema (503 SE 6 St., Ft. Lauderdale).

Released in 1974, a year after The Exorcist was released, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre was considered rude, crude and socially unacceptable. Unlike the Hollywood embrace of William Friedkin’s direction of William Peter Blatty’s novel about a teen processed by an evil demon, this film was banned in many communities when it was released for Halloween. Whereas The Exorcist was instantly recognized as a classic, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is a pure cinematic visceral experience that has grown in status after four decades.

The plot for the film is as old as the Boris Karloff thriller The Old Dark House. A group of travelers in Texas run out of gas and are forced to stop at a creepy community. Unlike The Old Dark House, which features a creepy family and a creepier butler, this film features a creepy cannibal family with power tools.

The film featured Marilyn Burns as the leading lady and Gunnar Hansen as the chainsaw wielding Leatherface.

Hansen later spoofed his role in the comedy Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers, which also featured local actress Linnea Quigley. Both Hansen and Burns passed away three years ago, within a year of each other. In their latter years, they held a place of honor within the horror movie convention circuit.

Steve Owens was also a regular patron of the convention circuit and my personal friend. Owens, who worked with Cemetery Prints and was also an instructor, passed away last week. After a full day’s work on the vendor floor at a convention, Steve could be found late at night poolside with a bottle in his hand and a quick joke. A celebration of life and laughter honoring Steve will be held this Saturday night, June 9, at Bru’s Room in Coconut Creek (5460 W. Hillsboro Blvd.), for those who knew him, starting at 6 p.m. (Don’t worry, there are plenty of television sets, so you will be able to see whether or not Justified takes the Triple Crown at the Belmont Stakes).

Starring Elle Fanning, Mary Shelley opens next weekend, June 15. A costume drama set in Elizabethan times, this film explores how a teenager is influenced to write a gothic novel about a man who made a monster.

Two hundred years later, the novel Frankenstein or the Modern Prometheus is still in print and is required reading.

In two weeks, American Animals opens. A heist drama based on a true story, it features four friends who want to steal art work from their college library.

Also check out “The Amazing Mister A,” a magician/ventriloquist, this Saturday morning at 11 a.m. at the Deerfield Beach Percy White Library.
Cinema Dave  Swashbuckling ournalist and

Pandas & Let the Sunshine In Posted on 31 May 2018

After last Memorial Day weekend’s weather woes, it seems appropriate that the movie I am reviewing this weekend is called Let the Sunshine In, a French movie with English subtitles. An award-winning film from the 2017 Cannes Film Festival, the film features a tour de force performance from France’s master thespian, Juliette Binoche.

The film opens with a nude Isabelle (Juliette Binoche) making boring love to a married man. He departs and Isabelle looks at the sunlight beaming through her window. Isabelle continues to have other affairs for different reasons with other men (an actor and an artist), but she often feels incomplete.

Being an artist, the only solace that Isabelle seems to find is through her art. However, when she starts confusing love with lust, Isabelle’s artistry begins to suffer on a retreat. Going into a state of melancholia, Isabelle seeks answers from a psychic/life counselor played by Gerard Depardieu.

Let the Sunshine In is the type of film that an American producer will remake with a Sandra Bullock, Viola Davis or Brie Larson in the leading role. It is a total “chick flick” with male actors in subordinate roles, yet Binoche is such a fascinating woman to watch, with or without her clothes on.

For those looking for family fare, Pandas 3-D is a wonderful 45-minute documentary at the Museum of Discovery and Science IMAX Theater in Ft. Lauderdale. Narrated by Kristen Bell, this film is set in China at the Chengdu Base which oversees the breeding of giant pandas in captivity. Inspired by the black bear program in New Hampshire, a Chengdu Base scientist crosses continents to continue her research.

Away from international politics, one can become inspired by these two cross-cultural scientists who want to create a better quality of life for this frail panda. Though this is a documentary, it ends with a bit of a cliffhanger. Don’t worry kiddies, the pandas will not turn into dust, but the ending is satisfying and justifies the purpose for scientific research.

One nice thing about reviewing movies like Let the Sunshine In and Pandas 3-D is that both movies are life affirming.
Cinema Dave  Swashbuckling ournalist and

Solo: A Star Wars Story; MODS gets new resident Posted on 24 May 2018

The production history was a disaster. An Oscar Winning director was called to save this much anticipated anthology film. Given the scant marketing, one wonders if Walt Disney/LucasFilm had plans to cut their losses with their first Star Wars bomb. But, surprise, surprise! Solo A Star Wars Story captures the spirit of Saturday matinee popcorn-eating fun and will be a big hit this Memorial Day Weekend.

The best Star Wars movies are those that recall the glory days of yesteryear before computerized special effects. The plot and situations are outrageous; yet, there is a good spirit that motivates the entertainment value of the franchise. There are some thrilling moments of danger, but the loudest crowd reactions featured the budding relationship between Han Solo (Alden Ehrenreich) and his future co-pilot, Chewbacca (Joonas Suotamo), a 7 ft. Wookie from the Planet Kashyyyk.

Before the title character and Chewbacca meet, we witness Young Han and his girlfriend Kira (Emilia Clarke). The two run street scams, but seek a better life full of adventure and romance. In an attempt to leave the planet, Han and Kira are separated. While Kira’s fate becomes a mystery, Han becomes a soldier in the Emperor Army.

Not one to blindly follow orders, Han becomes a rebel and joins a band of mercenaries headed by Tobias Beckett (Woody Harrelson). Through a series of mishaps, Han demonstrates aviation skills and the ability to problem solve. As he climbs the hierarchy of a criminal empire, Han travels the far reaches of the galaxy in search of fortune and glory.

Solo: A Star Wars Story works. The film opens in film noir darkness and, through science fiction narrative, becomes a cowboy movie featuring wide open spaces and a good old-fashion showdown. Musical Composer John Powell does a commendable job keeping the audience energy in light speed and appropriately repeats the music from John Williams classic Star Wars rousing score.

Like Avengers: Infinity Wars, Solo: A Star Wars Story should be seen on the big screen with a movie theater that honors audience participation.

The film will be playing at the Ft. Lauderdale Museum of Discovery & Science (MODS) until June 13, when it will be replaced by Incredibles 2.
Cinema Dave  Swashbuckling ournalist and

The Florida Project & free Star Wars fun Posted on 17 May 2018

Recently released on DVD, the award-winning film The Florida Project tells the story about disenfranchised people who live at the Magic Castle Hotel in Kissimmee, Florida. At a distance, the hotel looks like something out of a fairy tale, but upon closer inspection one cannot miss the dirt and the filth of a decaying society. It is managed by Bobby Hicks (Willem Dafoe).

We are introduced to Moonee (Brooklynn Kimberly Prince) and Scooty (Christopher Rivera), two children whose mothers are single. When caught spitting on Grandma Stacey’s car, Moonee and Scooty befriend the granddaughter Jancey (Valeria Cotto) while cleaning up the car. The three friends play and go on many adventures, while the parents desperately find money for food, clothing and shelter.

The end credits to The Florida Project acknowledge the debt to Hal Roach and Our Gang/Little Rascals. The children are wild, yet natural and innocent. As reality comes crashing down upon Moonee’s mom, the tragedy is sadly seen through a child’s eyes, making the situation more heartbreaking.

While Dafoe (who was Oscar-nominated) is the most recognizable actor from the film, the actresses portraying the single mothers — Bria Vinaite, Mela Murder and Josie Olivo — seem so real that they do not appear to be acting.

Politically, much has been made about lack of tax incentives for Florida film production. While most big studio ventures are based in Atlanta these days, one must acknowledge the financial creativity of these Florida film productions like Moonlight and The Florida Project. While necessity is the mother of invention, it must be noted that these films do not promote Florida tourism. There is a darkness to The Florida Project that is all consuming.

[Speaking of the dark side], free Star Wars fun awaits this weekend at Deerfield Beach Percy White Library. They will be screening a free Star Wars movie this Saturday afternoon at 2 p.m. There will be a costume contest for Elementary, Middle and High School students with a prize for each respected age group. There will also be a random drawing for the DVDs and the first 30 people in costume will receive a comic book from CJ’s Comics.

CJ’s Comics also contributed to ‘the lost museum of the Jedi’ display, which materialized in the Youth Services section of the library. The display features a variety of artifacts. Patrons will be able to see the first paperback version of Star Wars, before the film was released. When the second trilogy was released in 1999, Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace featured promotional items from Taco Bell, like Yoda sippy cups. While co-op marketing is a given with a Star Wars movie, one forgets that in 1977 (when the first film was released) the only way to get a Star Wars toy was via mail order.

‘The lost museum of the Jedi’ will dematerialize Memorial Day weekend to make room for the’ Libraries ROCK! Summer Reading Program,’ so, for Deerfield residents, the fun is just beginning! The library is located at 837 E. Hillsboro Blvd. in Deerfield Beach.
Cinema Dave  Swashbuckling ournalist and

“Scream Queen” Linnea Quigley to be at Savor Cinema Posted on 10 May 2018

What the record breaking Black Panther did in two months, Avengers: Infinity War accomplished in two weeks at the box office. With the exception of the documentary about Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, RBG, which opens this weekend, there are no movies opening with any kind of buzz to stop the Infinity War juggernaut this Mother’s Day Weekend. For those who do not want to see this Avengers film for the fourth time this weekend, there will be a unique South Florida experience this Friday evening at 10 p.m.

After three years at O Cinema Wynwood, co-founders & co-directors Igor Shteyrenberg and Marc Ferman are moving their Popcorn Frights Film Festival to Ft. Lauderdale International Film Festival’s (FLIFF) Savor Cinema. The Southeast’s largest gathering of horror films and fans alike, Popcorn Frights and Savor Cinema promise a year-round experience of the best in international genre cinema and cult film favorites.

The Return of the Living Dead kicks off this collaboration. Released during the summer of 1985 and directed by the late Dan O’Bannon, The Return of the Living Dead took the seriousness of George Romero’s zombie classic (Night of the Living Dead) and mixed it with dark humor.

The film opens with Frank (James Karen) talking with his prodigy Freddy (Thom Matthews) and explaining that George Romero’s The Return of the Living Dead movie is based on a true story. To prove his point, Frank takes Freddy to the basement to view these federal government canisters. After a bumbling accident, the canister releases a gas and inanimate objects come alive. The boss Burt (Clu Gulager) is called.

Freddy’s friends plan to pick him up after work. To kill time, the friends hang out at a nearby cemetery and seek refuge from the zombies. One of the friends, a punk rocker named “Trash,” performs a strip tease on a tombstone when the Living Dead return. Linnea Quigley, the local actress who played Trash, will be hosting the Friday night screening at Savor Cinema for Popcorn Frights inaugural film there.

Long time Observer readers are familiar with Linnea Quigley, one of the first actresses I interviewed for our Halloween issue in 2002. Since we met on the set of Jose Prendes’ Corpses Are Forever, Linnea has been involved in 52 independent film productions, co-wrote two books, including Night of the Scream Queen:Kiss of the Gator Guy with author Michael McCarty, and held a reunion concert for the band she was in —The Skirts — with bassist Haydee Pomar with special guest drummer Joey Image from the legendary punk rock band The Misfits.

While embracing her “Scream Queen” moniker, Linnea’s costars like Clu Gulager and Gunnar Hansen have spoken with respect to her acting talent. Who knows, with the right make up, perhaps Linnea Quigley could play Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg in a rock ‘n comedy version of RBG.
Cinema Dave  Swashbuckling ournalist and

Avengers: Infinity War Posted on 03 May 2018

#ThanosDemandsSilence was Disney/Marvel’s serious marketing angle to promote Avengers: Infinity War. In early April, I had to sign an acknowledgement of a press embargo until Tuesday, April 24. On Wednesday, April 25, Wikipedia revealed the biggest spoilers of Avengers: Infinity War. [Don’t worry… no spoilers in this review].

Clocking in at almost three hours, this film features every hero (minus two, but there is another Marvel movie opening in July) from the previous 18 Marvel comic movies. Each hero is given their moment to shine, but the featured character is Thanos (Josh Brolin), a mad titan who believes it is time to save the universe by weeding out the undesirable humans. To achieve his genocidal goal, Thanos must complete his collection of the infinity stones that we have seen filtered throughout the previous 18 Marvel Comics movies.

With the search for infinity stones being as similar as J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings or Richard Wagner’s opera, The Ring of Nibelung, the actions of Thanos feel mythical and iconic. More so than the other 18 movies, the word “tragedy” is most used when used to describe this new Marvel movie. Joe and Anthony Russo (the brother directors) trust the fan base to close Avengers: Infinity War on a silent, somber note. Given the raised stakes of Infinity Wars, these directors have their work cut out for them next year when the “Untitled” Avengers opens in Springtime 2019. Will the heroes triumph over Thanos or will the fat lady sing at the last Avengers opera?
Cinema Dave  Swashbuckling ournalist and

RBG Posted on 03 May 2018

Will the heroes triumph over Thanos or will the fat lady sing at the last Avengers opera?

It is a little lady who enjoys opera that is the feature of the documentary RBG, which opens next week, on Friday, May 11. RBG is Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Brooklyn-born from Odessa Russian immigrants, Ruth was taught to be polite and independent. Outwardly shy, Ruth was a listener and a thinker. Despite losing her mother at age 17, Ruth’s determination led her to Harvard Law School, where she met her future husband Marty. When Marty’s health failed, Ruth took a job at Columbia University.

Ruth Bader Ginsberg’s rise to power rose in conjunction with the civil rights movement of the 1960s, as well as the women’s rights movement of the 1970s. In an age of televised screaming and public protests, Ruth worked quietly behind the scenes drafting legal briefs that led her to defend in front of the Supreme Court. Her clear thinking and concisely written prose created laws that American citizens take for granted today.

Produced by CNN, RBG presents a likeable portrait of Ruth Bader Ginsberg.

The documentary lovingly presents her domestic life and her unique friendship with the late Justice Antonin Scalia. Thanks to Saturday Night Live’s Kate McKinnon’s comedic portrayal of the Supreme Justice, we learn how this 85-year-old authority figure has become the new counter culture rap icon – RBG.

With the 90-minute running time, RBG is a nice, sweet documentary. There is not much time to counter argue RBG’s continuous legal dissent, though the film does touch on her criticism of Donald Trump. There is still one week before RBG opens, but, in the meantime, don’t miss the opportunity to see Avengers: Infnity War, try it in the big screen at IMAX. With snappy dialogue, electric character interaction, mind-blowing visuals, Avengers: Infinity War deserves its blockbuster box office success on the big screen. You may want to see it before May 18 when [the next comic book film] Deadpool 2 opens.
Cinema Dave  Swashbuckling ournalist and

Marvel movies, On Chesil Beach & upcoming events Posted on 26 April 2018

There is a big movie that opens this weekend that is the culmination of 10 years of Marvel Comics super heroism and will break box office records — Avengers: Infinity War, which has already broken the Black Panther box office record for most sellouts before the movie opens. (Unfortunately, due to previous commitments, this reporter was unable to attend the critics screening last Tuesday evening in Miami).

With Avengers: Infinity War, kicking off the summer blockbuster season, each week will present more Marvel movies (Ant-Man and The Wasp Woman) and the continuation of the Jurassic World series. There will also be a new Star Wars Anthology Series that will feature a younger version of Harrison Ford’s ionic character, Solo: A Star Wars Story.

With support from CJ’s Comics & Collectibles, ‘The Lost Museum of the Jedi’ will materialize in the Youth Services section of Deerfield Beach Percy White Library (located at 837 E. Hillsboro Blvd. in Deerfield Beach) for four weeks this May. This exhibit will feature artifacts from the four decade history of the Star Wars franchise and will include viewing of vintage toys, books, reading records and VHS tapes.

On May 1, elementary, middle and high school aged individuals will be able to view the top prizes for a costume contest that will occur during a special free movie screening on Saturday, May 19 starting at 2 p.m. [Movie title withheld]. The first 30 people in attendance will receive a Star Wars comic book donated by CJ Comics & Collectibles (located at 3548 NE12 Ave. in Oakland Park).

For those seeking quieter fare, On Chesil Beach opens this summer (May 18) in select theaters and is based on the Ian McEwan novel. Set in 1962, this film examines an idyllic courtship that leads to a stressful wedding night. With talent like Saorise Ronan, Billy Howie and Emily Watson, one can expect On Chesil Beach to become a sleeper hit this summer.

For parties and audience-friendly screenings, Savor Cinema (located at 503 SE 6 St. in Ft. Lauderdale) will provide some unique movies starting May 3 with its Cinco de Mayo Fiesta. The buffet party features tacos, margaritas and screening of Sex, Shame & Tears, a Mexican comedy starring Demian Bichir and Monica Dionne.at 6:30 p.m. Tickets: $20 FLIFF members/$25 non-members.

On May 5 from 4 to 8 pm., they will have a Kentucky Derby Party with mint juleps, hors d’oeuvres and buffet. Awards for best bonnets and hats, and best dressed couple; plus prizes for pick of winners. $50 FLIFF members/$65 non-members.

For more info. on Savor Cinema showings and to buy tickets, visit www.fliff.com.
Cinema Dave  Swashbuckling ournalist and

A Bag of Marbles & Deep Sea 3D at MODS IMAX Posted on 19 April 2018

The motion picture industry is having a fine spring with Rampage, A Quiet Place and Ready Player One dominating the box office. It will be eight days before the most hyped and most secretive movie of the year opens, Avengers: Infinity War. In the meantime, check out an indie film or a selection from IMAX’s Museum of Discovery & Science (MODS) in Ft. Lauderdale.

A French, Yiddish, Russian and German movie with English subtitles, A Bag of Marbles is a simple film about a Jewish Family trying to evade the encroaching Nazis in France and Italy during WW2. The use of European landscapes creates beautiful cinematography, which add to the innocent perspective of the young boys. When the boys are outside traveling, the film feels like a Mark Twain Adventure with Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn.

It is in the indoors that one feels the tension and witnesses the cruelty of Adolph Hitler’s goons. Moments of family joy celebrating a Mom’s violin solo is interrupted by Nazis who complain about hearing Jewish music. Situations get darker when the boys are brutally captured and interrogated by a commandant who wants them medically examined for circumcision.

Though a title works as a dramatic piece of symbolism, A Bag of Marbles is a very humane motion picture. The boys are not superheroes, they bicker and cry for the most immature reasons. Early in the motion picture, the youngest boy befriends a German soldier because the soldier is “cool.” Based on a true story from Holocaust survivors, A Bag of Marbles is a movie about growth.

Deep Sea 3D has returned to MODS. Narrated by Kate Winslet and Johnny Depp, Deep Sea 3D is a 45-minute documentary about the creatures that live in the darkest and deepest oceans on Planet Earth. The most monstrous creature of Deep Sea 3D has to be the Humboldt Squid, a vicious character. With tentacles that can extend up to 6 ft., this carnivore has superior underwater vision and can rip its prey to shreds with its beak.

My favorite character had to be the Mantis Shrimp. This scrappy fighter defends his turf from an over-reaching octopus. While the octopus has the advantage of eight tentacles and a slimy disposition, the Mantis Shrimp manages to out box his predator with his attitude, front claws and speed. As scary as the Humboldt Squid is, the Mantis Shrimp provides the best comic relief and a moment to cheer.

Both A Bag of Marbles and Deep Sea 3D present big screen entertainment, sharing the theme of survival. With decent box office numbers, perhaps big screen entertainment will survive another summer.
Cinema Dave  Swashbuckling ournalist and

Beirut & Women of Venezuelan Chaos Posted on 12 April 2018

Women of Venezuelan Chaos and Beruit are two serious and timely movies that open this weekend at local theaters. Both films are riveting dramas. Beruit is based on terrorist drama that began in 1972, while Women of Venezuelan Chaos is a documentary based on recent news from South of the Border.

Directed by Margarita Cadenas, Women of Venezuelan Chaos interviews five women of various economic status of post-Chavez Venezuela.

• Kim (who attended an Apr. 9 screening at Silverspot Cinema in Coconut Creek) is married with children and is also a nurse. We see her providing healthcare, but many medicinal supplies are lacking.

• Maria is a community manager who works from her home. She talks about bartering milk for diapers and how the Venezuelan economy is turning the population into a community of hoarders.

• Eva is unemployed, therefore, she must wait in line to receive a lottery number to get rice and flour from the black market.

• Luisa is a retired police officer whose grandson is imprisoned for being critical of the Venezuelan government.

• Olga is a waitress with a tragic story to tell about government oppression and the murder of children.

Spoken in Spanish with English subtitles, Women of Venezuelan Chaos is newsworthy. When it was “cool” to mock President Bush, Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez was upheld as a poster boy for socialized healthcare by some. When Chavez died and his house of cards crumbled, Nicolas Maduro became president. As poverty increased, the main stream media seemingly lost interest in the plight of the Venezuelan people. Through the voices of these five women, this documentary sheds some light upon their struggles for survival under the rule of graft politics and thug leaders.

Beirut deals with the growing world of terrorist thugs. In 1972, Diplomat Mason Skiles (Jon Hamm) hosts a party in which he states, “Christians are in one corner; Muslims in the other corner with Jack Daniels in the middle.”

During the party, Mason learns that a student they are sponsoring is the brother of the No. 1 terrorist involved in the murders in Munich during the 1972 Olympics. That night, the terrorist invades the party and the student is abducted.

Ten years later, the CIA recruits Mason for a hostage negotiation in Beirut. The simple negotiation becomes an elaborate affair when many greedy organizations haggle over the hostage fee. During this complication, Mason learns that his old student is now grown and is involved in the kidnapping.

The summer movie blockbuster season is almost upon us. However, don’t let the serious fare like Beirut and Women of Venezuela Chaos get lost in the crowd.
Cinema Dave  Swashbuckling ournalist and

Ready Player One Posted on 04 April 2018

Anything older than 21 years old is considered “the good old days.” As a child, I remember my parents’ generation refer to the big band music of Glenn Miller and how it influenced the music of the 1960s and 1970s. It should be noted that when my parent’s generation were listening to Big Band Music, they were in their 20s. For my generation, we were in our 20s during the 1980s, which has become our “good old days.”

The 1980s is a major reference point for Steven Spielberg’s new movie Ready Player One, based on Ernest Cline’s book which was sold as a screenplay to Warner Brothers studio within 24 hours of first print. Cline created a cyber universe that has been fashioned by the software and computer games of the past 30 years. Given the corporate involvement, it’s worth noting that most of these cultural references are licensed by Warner Brothers studio.

This film begins in a multi-level trailer park in Youngstown, Ohio, circa 2045. Given their dismal reality, most of the population escapes to the Virtual Reality of the Oasis. The Oasis is a vast and detailed universe created by James Halliday (Mark Rylance, Spielberg’s favorite actor as of late). Halliday is a cross between Steve Jobs, Walt Disney and Ben Bernanke. A single man with no heirs, Halliday dies — leaving the fate of the Oasis in a state of flux.

In his will, Halliday made sure to transfer the Oasis to the people who understood his vision. In the cyber games, Halliday planted three keys for people to find to unlock three magic gates. Two years post mortem, no one has yet found the missing keys. Enter Wade Watts (Tye Sheridan), who goes by his avatar name — Parzival, who spends most of his waking hours in the Oasis. Parzival makes friends with other avatars and, together, form a team to locate the three keys.

The plot for Ready Player One is that simple. It is the overwhelming detail that could confuse some ticket buyers. Having lived through the cultural references of the Bee Gees, Duran Duran and A-Ha, I found a connection that people (a few years older than me) could find it hard to relate to. Beyond the bells and whistles of cyberspace icons and avatars, Ready Player One reveals an important theme about human relations and friendship.

Spielberg is still a master storyteller with a great visual eye. Having eschewed the naive wonder of Close Encounters of a Third Kind and E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, Spielberg’s science fiction flicks since the turn of the century have taken on a darker hue with films like A.I. Artificial Intelligence, Minority Report and War of the Worlds. Ready Player One feels like a compromise between the two contrasting visions of light and darkness.
Cinema Dave  Swashbuckling ournalist and

Alice Cooper — on stage villain, backstage superstar Posted on 30 March 2018 by JLusk

Over 40 years ago, Captain and Tennille’s Love will Keep us Together played on rotation on radio pop radio airwaves, while Alice Cooper’s Billion Dollar Babies and Welcome to My Nightmare played regular rotation on album rock radio (Anyone remember WSHE?) While the Captain and Tennille enjoyed the comforts of a variety show on ABC Television, newlyweds Sheryl and Alice Cooper were torturing each other on stage on an international rock ‘n roll tour A safe bet would have predicted that “Love would have kept” Captain and Tennille together, but the couple divorced after 39 years of marriage, while Alice and Sheryl still continue to strangle and stab each other on stage. Back stage Alice and Sheryl Cooper have been married 42 years, raised three adult children with two grand children (twins) and one more on the way.

The contrast between Rock Icon and family man is what makes Alice Cooper (born Vincent Furnier) such a fascinating individual. Alice is comfortable everywhere he goes. He can give a lecture at the Salvador Dali Museum in Saint Petersbug and then play 18 holes of golf during the regiment of a yearly 100 city world tour. At the end of the year, the Coopers return home to Phoenix, Arizona to host their final concert of the year, Alice Cooper’s Christmas Pudding.

Unlike the slick two-hour concert tour, featuring snakes, guillotine, balloons and confetti, Christmas Pudding is an epic variety show that features diverse talent: Gary MuleDeer sprinkles comedy between two roof-raising renditions of Johnny Cash songs, Slash (Guns n Roses) and Ace Frehely (KISS) taking turns proving who is the greatest guitarist in the world, while local talent features a dance review of 1970s disco and Mariachi Juvenil de mi Tierra performs a series Christmas Carols with Mexican violins, horns, giant guitars and sombreros.

Proceeds from that concert go to the operations of Alice Cooper’s The Rock Teen Center. The Rock provide teens with a central place to learn, have fun and explore their creativity in a supportive and safe environment. Touring The Rock last December made me nostalgic for my Dillard School of Performing Arts days, while making me optimistic that the fundamentals of the performing arts will be emphasized. While some of the “Rock Teens” performed onstage, special attention was given to the young people backstage and behind the camera.

While keeping his core audience in good standing for four decades, there is a conscious effort to reach young people. For the School’s Out curtain call, it is usually a young person who throws balloons at the audience. His touring band is younger than Alice, with the youngest being Nita Strauss, a 32-year-old heavy metal guitarist whose ancestry includes composer Johann Strauss.

For the most part, an Alice Cooper Show is strictly entertainment. The themes can be lofty with symbolism and artistic merit, but the main goal is to entertain the ticket buyers. However, last Saturday Night at the Orlando Hard Rock stadium, local headlines were acknowledged ( the tragedy at Marjory Stoneman Douglas) between the songs 18 and School’s Out. There was no politics, just photos of the 17 victims with support of the young people marching last Saturday.

His current Paranormal tour wrapped up on Holy Thursday and, on Easter night on Sunday, Alice Cooper will be typecast as King Herod in Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert on NBC. As an actor, Alice Cooper embraces his devilish contribution to Andrew Lloyd Wright and Tim Rice’s controversial musical. As a Christian, Alice Cooper accepts his role as a villain while publicizing the gospel of Jesus.
Cinema Dave  Swashbuckling ournalist and

The Death of Stalin, I, Claudius & Jesus Christ Superstar Posted on 29 March 2018

It took a poorly reviewed Pacific Rim sequel to slow down the box office juggernaut known as Black Panther, which became the No. 1 box office movie in comic book history. In the following weeks, Ready Player One and Avengers: Infinity War will attempt to achieve Black Panther’s lofty box office height.

With more subtle box office numbers, The Death of Stalin opened as a modest hit. A dark comedy about the transition of Soviet dictators, this film could be seen as a chapter of Monty Python presents Masterpiece Theater. While a Monty Python cast member has a supporting role (Michael Palin), it is Steve Buscemi’s performance as Nikita Khrushchev that steals the show. A conspiracy plotter who coldly exploits the weaknesses of his comrades (especially Jeffrey Tambor as a Stalin sycophant), Bescemi’s Khrushchev is given moments of slow burn comedy as he becomes the leader of thugs and idiots.

Given Russia’s brutal history, there are plenty of gruesome moments that are given dark comedic spin. For example, a medical examiner performs an autopsy of Stalin’s brain, in front of a quibbling government committee trying to determine foul play. The grossness of the scene is punctuated by Stalin’s children walking into the room while their father is literally getting his head examined. The absurdity of human misbehavior is truly revealed in this film.

It has been 42 years since I, Claudius premiered on American Public Broadcasting Television. Shot in soap opera style on videotape and based on Robert Grave’s historical novels I,Claudius and Claudius The God, the 13-part miniseries, presented early days of Roman History, full of political speeches, bloodshed, sex and a surprising amount of nudity for broadcast television. The series ignited the careers of Patrick Stewart, the late John Hurt, John Rhys-Davies and Derek Jacobi as the title character who lived in the time of Christ.

With four months of hype and promotion on NBC, the musical Jesus Christ, Superstar Live in Concert will commence at 8 p.m. on Easter Sunday. With music from Andrew Lloyd Weber and lyrics by Tim Rice lifted from their hit Broadway musical and 1972 motion picture, this production has always been controversial.

Given the counter culture movement of the 1970s, Weber and Rice sought to present a view of an alternative Jesus, in contrast to sword and scandal epics that featured Charlton Heston, Jeffrey Hunter and Max Von Sydow. They chose to present Jesus as a celebrity to be envied. This envy led to betrayal by one of his disciples, Judas. Thus, Jesus Christ Superstar has been referred to as The Gospel of Judas.

Regardless, this musical about Jesus has endured, with a soaring musical score and a popular song, “I Don’t Know How to Love Him,” which will be sung by Sara Bareilles. John Legend will carry the cross for this three-hour live event. In a small, but showy role, expect Alice Cooper to steal the show as King Herod. [See more on Cinema Dave’s adventure to see Alice Cooper perform recently in Orlando at www.observernewspaperonline.com].

Happy Passover & Happy Easter!
Cinema Dave  Swashbuckling ournalist and

Cinema Dave meets Smokey Posted on 23 March 2018

As a prodigal Roman Catholic, I avoid eating meat during Lenten Fridays, which was appropriate when meeting legendary soul singer Smokey Robinson last Friday, March 16, at a special event held in Miami. Best known for his “oldies” hits like “The Tears of a Clown,” “The Tracks of My Tears” and “Going to a Go Go,” Smokey was in town to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day at Jazz in the Gardens, sharing the stage with Chaka Khan and Anita Baker, but also stopped at a special event that showcased his wine label, “Smokey Robinson Wines.”

Learning that Smokey has been a vegan for two and a half years, I asked him what I should eat with with his wines, to which he said, “People like the reds and the whites with meat and fish, but I would have a salad.”

Gouda cheese was provided for the wine sampling, for which the Riesling was fully complimentary. However, it was the Cabernet Sauvignon that made me long for Mom’s macaroni sauce or the eggplant parmigiana meal from Nick’s [in Deerfield Beach].

His looks, energy and vitality belie the fact that Smokey Robinson is 78 years old. Besides his Smokey Robinson Vineyards, the man still performs a two and a half hour show with a North American Tour planned through August. His timeless music has generated an audience both youth and old. When asked about his “Timeless” appeal, Smokey modestly answered, “It is a blessing, man, living a life doing what I love.”

As both a Motown singer and songwriter, the secret about Smokey’s music is inclusion that surpasses generations. A Smokey Robinson concert is a family event that grandparents, parents and children can attend and have a good time together.

There is something “old school” about Smokey that is endearing. At the press junket, my colleagues took pictures and recorded interviews with their cell phones. As I prepared my equipment, I mentioned to Smokey that I missed my old tape recorder. Smokey replied back with a teachable moment, “Tape is reliable. I wish I could get into the Motown vault. I’ve got so much unreleased stuff in there by artists that I recorded or myself. I wish I could get in there!”

Even though Motown is under new ownership, I can see Smokey finding a way to get into the vault. All he needs to bring to the front desk is some gouda cheese, macaroni sauce with a bottle of Riesling and Cabernet Sauvignon, respectively!
Cinema Dave  Swashbuckling ournalist and

Unsane, The Death of Stalin & The Last Suit Posted on 22 March 2018

Between a week before Christmas in 1997 until a week after Easter in 1998, Titanic ruled the box office. The Black Panther juggernaut feels similar, as films like Tomb Raider, A Wrinkle in Time and Red Sparrow were poised to take the weekend box office crown only to fall short. Perhaps Steven Spielberg’s much hyped Ready Player One might take the Box Office crown Easter weekend, but this weekend features a slew of independent movies arriving at a theater near you.

A student of Sir Alfred Hitchcock, Steven Soderbergh was “the man” in 2000 for releasing two Oscar-winning motion pictures, Traffic and Erin Brockovich. Through the years, Soderbergh has enjoyed mainstream success with films like Logan Lucky and his Ocean’s 11 trilogy. Yet, one forgets that Soderbergh was a founding father of the independent film movement nearly 30 years ago with the release of Sex, Lies and Videotape.

Opening tomorrow, Unsane returns Soderbergh to his “auteur” filmmaking roots. Shot with iPhone technology, Unsane presents creative use of shot composition with natural lighting, presenting hyper-reality of the everyday world. From the opening narration to the character revealing confessions in the blue padded room, Unsane feels like an Alfred Hitchcock B-movie like Psycho and Vertigo.

Sawyer (Claire Foy) has started a new life with a good job in Pennsylvania. She departed her New England home to escape David (Joshua Leonard), a man Sawyer claims is stalking her. Her pain is deep and, one day, Sawyer seeks counseling. Upon her first consultation, Sawyer is told that she is staying overnight in the institution.

Despite her protests, Sawyer is confined to the ward with Violet (Juno Temple), a disgusting cornrow-haired patient who goads Sawyer into violent actions. Sawyer forms an alliance with Nate (Jay Pharoah), who has managed to smuggle a cell phone into the clinic. As her stay becomes prolonged, Sawyer spots her stalker, David, working as an orderly.

Combining conspiracy theories with a debate about the nature of sanity, Unsane is a film that will be talked about for many years. While the story does not hold up for the full 98 minutes, there are many nifty Easter eggs for film fans, including a cameo appearance from Jimmy Kimmel’s arch rival.

The Death of Stalin opens this weekend at the legendary Gateway Theater in Ft. Lauderdale and features broad comic performances from Steve Buscemi, Jeffrey Tambor and Michael Palin. For more info., keep an eye on http://classicgateway.com/gateway.

This Saturday afternoon, March 24, film director Pablo Solarz will be visiting The Living Room Theater at the FAU Boca Raton campus. He will introduce his film, The Last Suit, about an 88-year-old Holocaust survivor who goes on one last adventure to resolve his past. Keep an eye on www.fau.livingroomtheaters.com for movie times and more info.
Cinema Dave  Swashbuckling ournalist and

Get Out & Miami Film Festival wraps Posted on 15 March 2018

During the Oscar ceremony, a film that wins a Screenplay award (either Best Adaptation or Most Original) usually goes on to win the Best Picture Award. That did not happen this year as Call Me by Your Name won Best Adaptation (based on the novel by André Aciman) and Get Out won the Original Screenplay, but lost the Best Picture Award to The Shape of Water.

It feels appropriate that The Shape of Water and Get Out are two movies that will be entwined with each other, since they both represent two motion pictures that would regularly be nominated for the Rondo Hatton Award, an honor coveted by Monster Mavens like myself and Guillermo Del Toro in the past. With his recent Oscar win, writer/director Jordan Peele has joined the “Rondo Hatton Appreciation Society” for Get Out. [For more on Rondo Hatton, visit http://rondoaward.com].

A satirical terror flick with comedy overtones, Get Out can be construed as an explanation of a black man’s paranoia. It is the story of an African American named Chris (Daniel Kaluuya) and his white girlfriend Rose Armitrage (Allison Williams). Rose invites Chris to meet her parents in the suburbs. “Wishing that Obama could have had a third term as president,” Daddy Armitrage (Bradley Whitford) and Mommy Armitrage (Catherine Keener) greet Chris warmly.

Behind the smiles, something sinister lies beneath the surface. Mommy Armitrage is a hypnotherapist and she unlocks Chris’ repressed memory. The Armitrage suburban home seems to transform into a gothic Southern Plantation and the African American servants appear to transform into the “Stepford slaves.”

To reveal more, would be a disservice to the shock, surprise and belly laughs found in Get Out. To his director’s credit, Jordan Peele does a great job with the film’s pacing. He fills his quiet scenes with tension that resolve with either a moment of terror or humor. Like Orson Welles, Matt Damon and Ben Affleck (Oscar-winning screenplay writers who lost Best Picture Awards), Jordan Peele will be a force to reckon with for future movie awards seasons.

The 35th Annual Miami Film Festival wraps up this weekend. This festival’s awards will be revealed Saturday Night at the Olympia Theater, with the Historic Alfred I. Dupont Building hosting the night party. Sunday will be the last opportunity to see April’s Daughters on the big screen. Won’t You Be My Neighbor? is a documentary about Professor Fred Rogers, the man who created Mister Roger’s Neighborhood on PBS. While neither film is in contention for a Rondo Hatton Award, both are a fine way to quietly wrap up a St. Patrick’s Day weekend.
Cinema Dave  Swashbuckling ournalist and

Miami Film Festival will outshine the Academy Awards Posted on 08 March 2018

During the 35th Miami Film Festival (March 9 – 18), Jon Secada, Djimon Hounsou, Paul Schrader, Jason Reitman and Isabelle Huppert will be in town to discuss their latest projects. This festival features a diverse amount of feature films, documentaries and short subjects.

Carry That Weight: A Rockumentary is a short subject of local interest. Filmed with an all Florida crew, this film is Brian J. Letten’s documentary about Mr. Burris, a music teacher at Miami Senior High School, who created Rock Ensemble. Diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in his third year of college, Mr. Burris taught music from his electric wheelchair.

As a short subject, the film ends and the viewer starts begging for more of the story. Fortunately, Letten is producing a full feature documentary and has earned the support of many of Mr. Burris’ Rock Ensemble students, many of whom are working in the entertainment field in Dade County.

While the re-teaming of Ivan Reitman and Diablo Cody for Tully is garnering most headlines this opening weekend, there are some unique motions pictures being screened, many of them from Latin America. In Spanish with English subtitles, April’s Daughter is a beautiful motion picture which presents dark gothic themes. The film opens with the sounds of people making love. A nude Valeria (Ana Valeria Becerril) emerges from the bedroom and we learn that she is seven months pregnant. Despite living with a matronly sister, Valeria is too immature to raise the baby and their mother April (Emma Suarez) comes to the rescue. Or does she? The strength of April’s Daughter is that character motivations drive this story, which echoes Sir Alfred Hitchcock’s later themes, including Spellbound, Vertigo and Marnie.

While the 90th Annual Academy Awards, which tanked in the ratings, has revealed a culture of smug narcissism, the recent films that I have seen at the Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival and Miami Film Festival have made me optimistic for the future of filmmaking. These independent filmmakers are presenting good stories, interesting characters and brilliant cinematography on a budget that cost less than Ashley Judd’s Oscar swag bag.
Cinema Dave  Swashbuckling ournalist and

Let Yourself Go opens & Oscar Party at Villa De Palma Posted on 01 March 2018

When part of the press junket focuses on the leading lady talking about her extended nude scenes, the film is likely to have problems and is not likely to maintain a sustainable box office. Opening tomorrow, March 2, Red Sparrow is supposed to be a spy thriller. However, given her topic of conversation on the talk show circuit, Jennifer Lawrence has spent more time talking about dressing and undressing then she has talking about Red Sparrow’s storyline or character development.

Death Wish opens tomorrow also. The film is a remake to a stark 1974 Charles Bronson movie about a husband who becomes a widower when his wife is brutally murdered by street thugs. Like in Batman, the protagonist becomes a vigilante and guns down the criminal element. Bruce Willis stars in the remake and there was some Oscar buzz about his performance. However, recent marketing has changed the tone from a stark drama to that off an action flick with quips and one liners.

Let Yourself Go is the most original movie that will open this weekend. An Italian movie with English subtitles, this film is a universal story about the mind and the body. When a Freudian psychoanalyst (Toni Servillo) starts to doze off during his sessions, his estranged wife suggests a regiment for exercise. Meet Claudia (Veronica Echegui), a personal trainer who believes in the perfection of the body.

The contrast between the old psychoanalyst and young Claudia creates enough conflict to move Let Yourself Go to an entertaining 90 minute realistic comedy. The drama is real.

He lives an austere life and is set in his ways. Claudia is impulsive and her behavior often indebts her to the kindness of strangers. Both learn from each other; the old psychoanalyst forces himself to exercise more, while Claudia learns to think more.

As the psychoanalyst, Servillo has polished off his niche as “Italy’s Everyman.” Last seen in America in The Great Beauty, (Academy Award Winner for Best Foreign Language), he is introduced in a less flamboyant role. Like a blossoming cactus, Servillo transforms into a Freudian Superman that feels believable. As Claudia, Spanish actress Veronica Echegui is a constant delight.

See Let Yourself Go with some friends some afternoon and dine on Italian cuisine afterward; it will be a good experience.

The 90th Oscars Annual Academy Awards occurs this Sunday night, March 4. Steve Savor will be holding a black tie gala party that night at his Villa De Palma. Tickets are $150, but members of the Ft. Lauderdale International Film Festival pay only $100. For ticket information, contact Savor Cinema at 954-525-FILM or visit www.fliff.com.

Save the date: Starting Friday, March 9, the Miami International Film Festival begins. This columnist is honored to have been chosen to serve as a jurist for the Rene Rodriguez Critics Award. Next week, I, the “longest-standing film columnist in Broward County,” will create a special preview for the longest-standing film festival in South Florida, the 35th Annual Miami film Festival.
Cinema Dave  Swashbuckling ournalist and

Ace and Jonathan Lipnicki visit Savor Cinema & True Grit returns to the big screen Posted on 22 Feb.

With very little surprise, Black Panther blew up the motion picture box office and is likely to be a juggernaut until the May releases of Avengers: Infinity Wars and Solo: A Star Wars Story. Not since Titanic 20 years ago have people purchased tickets for multiple screenings. Some people have seen Black Panther on the big screen each day since the film has been released.

Much like last year’s Wonder Woman, the timing was right for Black Panther. While both films contain likeable heroes, Black Panther offers more depth of characterization, especially for the villain, Killmonger, portrayed by Michael B. Jordan. The character of Killmonger does bad things, but like any successful fictional villain or monster, there are reasons behind his reprehensible actions. In fiction, there is sympathy for the devil. Yet in reality, we learned that the devil has no sympathy for our neighbors in Parkland.

The tragedy at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School will stay with us for the rest of our lives; there is no denying that. On social media across the world, we are seeing political finger pointing with predictable political bias from the opposing sides. Unfortunately, what we do not hear or see on social or broadcast media are people working towards solutions.

Yet, last Sunday, I saw something that made me feel better about the future.

While checking out some acoustic guitars at Guitar Center at Coconut Creek, I observed two young men strumming a guitar and a bass. Both had innate talent, playing music from the Beatles to Guns & Roses. While neither teenager spoke to each other, their guitars communicated with each other. The set ended, the bass player complimented the guitar player, who admitted that he was a student of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and that one of his friends had died in the shooting. The two young men talked some more. Given that the two had not met before, I encouraged each other to exchange their names. As I told them, “This is how Paul (McCartney) met John (Lennon).” After a real trauma, it was heartening to watch this new generation reach out to each other, not by electronic resources, but through old fashioned conversation and their mutual interest.

While we shall remain vigilant, escapism is needed now. This Friday evening, Savor Cinema will be screening Ace — a short drama about first love, social norms and sexual identity. It stars 27-year-old Jonathan Lipnicki, whose best known role is that as “the Kid” in Jerry McGuire, starring Tom Cruise and Kelly Preston.

Lipnicki, along with writer/director Jordan Gear, producers Ashley Kate Adams and Jim Kierstead are scheduled to appear. For reservations, call 954-525-FILM. www.FLIFF.com.

This Sunday, Feb. 25 and Wednesday, Feb. 28, Silverspot Cinema in Coconut Creek will be screening John Wayne’s Oscar winning performance in True Grit. If you have only seen this classic on television, take the time to see True Grit on the big screen. Besides big and broad performances from the Duke, Kim Darby, Glen Campbell and Robert Duvall, the big screen does justice to the Colorado scenery and great outdoors.

In contrast to the True Grit remake starring Jeff Bridges, Matt Damon and Hailee Steinfield, the original True Grit is a redemptive film that is far more optimistic. Given today’s headline news, we need more optimism in our neighborhood.
Cinema Dave  Swashbuckling ournalist and

1945 and Black Panther opens, MIFF announces iconic guests Posted on 15 February 2018

wo new films open this weekend, one full of sound and fury from the Walt Disney marketing machine, the other quietly garnering awards on the film festival circuit. There will be no contest as to who the box office champion will be this weekend. Through contrasting filmmaking, there is no mistaking the variety of good films opening this weekend.

1945 opens when a train drops off an Orthodox Jew and his full grown son at a Hungarian village in August in 1945. The United States has dropped the atomic bomb in Japan and battles of World War II have subsided. It is the wedding day for the town clerk, but his focus seems distracted by the two visitors. Could these two men be heirs to the Jews who were deported during the Holocaust?

In the Hungarian language with English subtitles and clocking in at 90 minutes, 1945 is the most unique epic on the big screen. Shot in black & white film stock, 1945 echoes many great American Westerns, most notably 3:10 to Yuma and The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance. It is a story about the Holocaust, but with an emphasis upon living with the consequences of surviving this horrible time.

Black Panther is the 18th film in the Marvel Comic Universe, the penultimate film before Avengers: Infinity War opens this May 4. While this information provides subtext and an appreciation for the vast tapestry of these Marvel movies, Black Panther is a stand-alone movie whose lead character was introduced two years ago in Captain America: Civil War.

With the demise of his father and king, Prince T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) is the heir to the throne of Wakanda, a legendary country in the hidden jungles of Africa. Isolated for thousands of years, Wakanda is considered a third-world country. In fact, it is a country with hidden technical and medical superiority. Through ritual and tradition, Prince T’Challa is proclaimed King and is given the additional title of “Black Panther” — protector of the kingdom.

As the Black Panther, King T’Challa’s first job is to bring Ulysses Klaue (Andy Serkis) to justice. Besides being implicated with the death of Black Panther’s father, Klaue has been selling Wakanda weapons to terrorist organizations throughout the world. One customer — Erik “Killmonger” Stevens (Michael B. Jordan) — has had a grudge with the Wakanda leadership since the Rodney King riots of 1992. This conflict leads to a satisfying climax that works as a big comic book epic, while focusing on a human story about two men who qualify as the modern day version of Mark Twain’s The Prince and the Pauper.

1945 and Black Panther create contrasting forms of escapism this weekend.

After the Olympics, South Florida’s longest standing film festival, The Miami International Film Festival, kicks off its 35th year. Writer/Director Jason Reitman will be presenting Tully, starring Charlize Theron, and Isabelle Huppert will be receiving the Precious Gem – Icon Award for her body of work. For a list of films and times, visit www.miamifilmfestival.com.
Cinema Dave  Swashbuckling ournalist and

Island of Lemurs: Madagascar Posted on 07 February 2018

As much as I was boycotting the NFL last season, the professional football league did much to redeem themselves with Superbowl LII. Perhaps it was pandering to veterans, but having Medal of Honor winners (lead by Cpl. Hershel “Woody” Williams) open the game with the ceremonial coin flip was a step in the right direction. Despite battling the flu, Pink sang a beautiful National Anthem in under two minutes, while Leslie Odom Jr. lead an inspiring chorus of “America the Beautiful.” The actual game was a thriller for people who normally do not enjoy the sport. Beyond the respect given the Christian faith in victory, Miami Dolphins fans enjoyed the fact that Don Shula’s former third-string quarterback Doug Pederson, coached the Philadelphia Eagles’ first Superbowl title.

Football withdrawal weekend is real and, fortunately there are a variety of opportunities for entertainment in South Florida residents with numerous art fairs and festivals. For those more interested in science and nature activities for family fun, the Ft. Lauderdale Museum of Discovery & Science (at 401 SW 2 St.) features a Sunday afternoon visit from literary icon, Curious George, the monkey who encourages reading.

In addition, besides screening mainstream movies like Marvel’s Black Panther and A Wrinkle in Time, the IMAX theater there hosts a fine series of documentaries. With an emphasis upon knowledge, visualization and entertainment, Island of Lemurs: Madagascar 3-D is no exception. Narrated by Morgan Freeman, the film opens with both a paleontology and historical hypothesis. The meteors that killed dinosaurs on the African section of Pangaea scared the lemurs, who hid in the trees on a land form that separated from the major continent. As island dwellers, the lemurs rebuilt their habitat and lived their life in relative obscurity.

Despite adapting through millions of years of evolution, the lemurs of Madagascar are on the endangered species list in the 21st Century. The growth of tourism and housing development harms these indigenous creatures. Fortunately for the lemurs, they have an advocate for their cause, Professor Patricia C. Wright .
Cinema Dave  Swashbuckling ournalist and

The Shape of Water is on a high tide Posted on 31 January 2018

As a Monster Maven, it has taken me a few weeks to wrap my head around The Shape of Water, which has been nominated for 13 Academy Awards and earned multiple awards from the Golden Globes, the American Film Institute and the African-American Film Critics Association. The Shape of Water is easily the most unique movie to receive such prestigious praise.

We are introduced to the daily clockwork routine of Elisa Esposito (Sally Hawkins), a mute woman who lives with a closeted gay illustrator named Giles (Richard Jenkins) and resides in Baltimore, circa 1962. She is a Custodian Engineer for a secret government laboratory and is best friends with Zelda Fuller (Octavia Spencer). Under the guidance of Richard Strickland (Michael Shannon), a huge water tank arrives, which cages an amphibian man (Doug Jones) from South America.

Because Strickland antagonizes the man and is mean to him, the mute woman develops a relationship with him. She cooks him hard boiled eggs and they communicate with each other through sign language. When Strickland’s supervisor orders the dissection of her new friend, Elisa recruits Giles and Zelda to hatch a rescue plan.

If you have seen Splash and E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, you can easily figure out the rest of the narrative of The Shape of Water. Writer/Director Guillermo del Toro knows this and he takes many of these cliches and adds his own spin to audience expectations. Being a fellow Monster Maven, del Toro acknowledges the debt from the original King Kong, The Bride of Frankenstein and the Creature From the Black Lagoon trilogy, the latter being the most obvious homage.

With the financial success of Marvel Comics and Legendary Pictures, Kong: Skull Island and Godzilla, Universal Productions has sought to reboot their Universal Monsters franchise. A part of a proposed series of movies, The Mummy was released and crashed at the box office. While Universal spent millions of dollars on celebrity salaries (Tom Cruise, Russell Crowe, Javier Bardem, Johnny Depp), less money was spent on script writing.

One wonders how good the Universal Monster franchise would have been if Guillermo del Toro had taken over.

Given his filmography with films like The Devil’s Backbone, the two Hellboy movies and Pan’s Labyrinth, del Toro understands that character motivation trumps a scriptwriting formula that pieces together scenes emphasizing computer-generated special effects. For all of its fantastic elements, an award-winning musical score and beautiful cinematography, The Shape of Water succeeds as a movie about humanity.

Given my high expectations, The Shape of Water was a disappointment. Yet, as I was given time to reflect about the visual imagery combined with Sally Hawkins and Doug Jones’ empathetic performances, I can say that the film is a movie that stays with you. Given his love of Lon Chaney movies from the silent era, I cannot wait to see what del Toro does next on the big screen!
Cinema Dave  Swashbuckling ournalist and

12 Strong & Humor Me Posted on 25 January 2018

Jurassic World is the last movie that I saw on the Ft. Lauderdale Museum of Discovery and Science IMAX six-story tall screen, in which the Tyrannosaurus Rex appeared to be life sized. I regret not seeing the last three Star Wars movies and Kong:Skull Island at this venue, but I did enjoy 12 Strong there.

Based on Doug Stanton’s non-fiction book Horse Soldiers, 12 Strong tells a war story that was declassified nine years ago. It is about the first engagement between the United States and the terrorists who brought down the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and caused the airline crash in Pennsylvania on Sept. 11, 2001.

A few weeks after the attacks on our homeland, 12 Green Berets were inserted into Afghanistan to work in cooperation with a tribal warlord — Abdul Rashid Dostum (Navid Negahban), who has spent 30 years of his life battling the Soviet Union and terrorists protected by the Taliban.

This film contains a simple narrative that takes the ticket buyer from tragic defeat to an unbelievable victory. While the technology of the United States military is never in doubt, it is the human relationship between Abdul Rashid Dostum and Captain Mitch Nelson (Chris Hemsworth) that really sets into motion America’s victory over terrorism supported by the Taliban.

Of course, it is the IMAX visuals that makes 12 Strong stand out with the aerial photography of bombs falling from a B29 and the wide valley shots of the 12 horsemen raiding an enemy encampment. Director Nicolai Fuglsig’s visualization is as worthy as that of Steven Spielberg, James Cameron and John Ford.

For those looking for more humorous fare, Humor Me opens this weekend. Written and directed by Sam Hoffman, this comedy features a struggling playwright named Nate (Jemaine Clement) who loses both his job and his wife on the same day. Going broke, Nate moves in with this father Bob (Elliot Gould), who lives in a retirement village and likes to make crude jokes about male anatomy.

Clocking in at 90 minutes, Humor Me is the perfect running time to develop the absurd laughs that it earns. Good comedy builds on a logic that leads to a strong punch line. With a talented cast (including Annie Potts and Bebe Neuwirth) and creative use of black & white cinematography, Humor Me is the funniest movie thus far this year.
Cinema Dave  Swashbuckling ournalist and

President Taft & First Lady to visit Deerfield’s library Posted on 18 January 2018

This Saturday, Jan. 20 at 2 p.m., President William H. Taft (with First Lady “Nellie”) will host the annual State of the Union at the Deerfield Beach Percy White multi-purpose room. A transitional figure in American politics, the Taft Administration oversaw the transition from an agriculture economy to the growth of the Industrial Age. A one term president, Taft later served as the 10th Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.

Having performed as the Nixons in 2015, the Reagans in 2016 and John & Abigail Adams last year, William and Sue Wills return is a welcome event. Since Hurricane Irma, the library switchboard has received phone calls asking, “Are the president people coming?” Fortunately, this annual State of the Union is traditionally booked on or near Jan. 20, which happens to be Presidential Inauguration Day.

Starting in 1991, the Wills began researching, writing and performing a series of presentations they called “Presidents and Their First Ladies, dramatically speaking.” William does the research (using mostly existing books and magazine articles and some original research), writes the first draft of the scripts, then Sue edits the same. Sue either “finds” or creates all of their period costuming. Among Sue’s comedic costume highlight was Nancy Reagan’s rendition of “Second Hand Clothes,” a reworking of the classic “Second Hand Rose” made famous by Franny Brice and Barbra Streisand.

For 15 years, the Wills have performed along the Atlantic coast and Midwest, being away from home nine months of the year. For the last six years, the Wills have limited their traveling to Florida and special events — presidential museums and large organizations all over the USA.

As both the Eisenhowers and the Trumans, William and Sue will perform at the Boynton Beach Civic Center on Feb. 7 in support of their nonprofit foundation, the Presidents Project to support Wounded Warriors. (For tickets, please visit www.presidentsproject.org).

William and Sue Wills first met in 1970 and have performed in almost 9000 shows together since. Their three children — Jennifer Hope, Daniel Parker and Rebecca Anne — were raised on-stage and backstage.

Jennifer Hope has performed on Broadway as a leading lady for Phantom of the Opera and Beauty and the Beast.

A Master’s degree graduate from Indiana University, she also teaches vocal performance.

A mother of five, Rebecca Anne served as the business manager for “Presidents and their First Ladies,” and is also a nurse. A Veteran of “Operation Iraqi Freedom,” Daniel Parker returned to his hometown in Ocean City, Maryland and works as an EMT dispatcher, while pursuing certification to become a paramedic.

As both history and theater, “Presidents and their First Ladies, Dramatically Speaking” is truly a labor of love. Seating is available on a first come, first served basis with a seating of 150 seat capacity. Thanks to the Friends of the Percy White Public Library, this unique performance is free to the public. Percy White Library is located at 837 E. Hillsboro Blvd.
Cinema Dave  Swashbuckling ournalist and

Olympic memories with I,Tonya Posted on 11 January 2018

In less than three weeks, the Winter Olympics begin in South Korea and does anyone care?

For many years, the Olympics were topics around the water cooler, but it seems as if the last time people talked about the Winter Olympics was 24 years ago. People forget that Oksana Baiul took the Gold Medal for Figure Skating, because Silver Medalist Nancy Kerrigan was half of the big story leading up to the 1994 Olympics in Lillehammer, Norway. Tonya Harding was considered the villain of the story which has now become a movie called I,Tonya.

We are introduced to LaVona Fay (Allison Janney), a monstrous mother who sees potential as a skater for her 3-year-old daughter Tonya. Considered to be “from the wrong side of the tracks” in the Pacific Northwest, young Tonya is taught to shoot rabbits by her father figure. Given LaVona Fay’s abusive behavior, the father figure leaves home. Minus a second income, LaVona uses physical and psychological abuse upon Tonya.

Jeff Gillooly (Sebastian Stan) enters a skating rink and is immediately infatuated with the teenaged Tonya. The two begin a whirlwind teen romance, infuriating her mother. When LaVona Fay expresses displeasure, Tonya and Jeff move in together and eventually marry. Jeff’s friend Shawn Eckhardt (Paul Walter Hauser) becomes Tonya’s bodyguard when Tonya’s skating becomes nationally recognized. It is not a fanatical fan base that Tonya needs protection from. She needs protection from her soon to be ex-husband Jeff Gillhooly.

Told from multiple perspectives, I,Tonya presents Tonya Harding’s side of the story. Margot Robbie (who also stars as the title character) has produced a dark comedy of people who have stupid thoughts, which leads to stupid talk creating stupid actions. Many people remember Nancy Kerrigan getting clubbed in the knee before the 1994 Olympics. Many people forget about the rogue’s gallery of fools that led to the assault. I,Tonya is a humorous reminder.

The soundtrack features many songs from Tonya’s childhood in the 1970s. It would have been timelier if we heard more tunes from 1994. However, this is a minor quibble for a movie that is filled with many details within the frame.

As the Kerrigan – Harding showdown resides into history, a news story featuring the murder of Nicole Simpson and Ron Goldman is seen in the background. One sensationalized story is quickly replaced by another.

The ensemble of actors really sinks their teeth into their roles. From beginning to end, Margot Robbie owns this movie with both a hair trigger temper and sincere charm. Allison Janney portrays a darker version of the role she plays on her CBS Broadcast sitcom Mom. With her Moe Howard, from the three Stooges, haircut, Janney’s LaVona Fay’s abuse is mean and dark, yet the actress taps into a strange humanity toward the character. When she is not around, the audience misses their LaVona Fay.

Based on the performances of Margot Robbie and Allison Janney, I,Tonya is making news on the current awards circuit [Janney won Best Supporting Actress at Golden Globes]. As we prepare for the 2018 Winter Olympics, expect to hear more about I,Tonya.