FLICKS: Ghostbusters & The Secret Life of Pets

Posted on 21 July 2016 by LeslieM

flicks072116

Dave and Ernie Hudson

By “Cinema” Dave

www.cinemadave.livejournal.com

It has been a 27 year wait, but Ghostbusters finally appeared on the big screen full of big screen special effects. Despite the endorsement of the original cast-mates (Dan Aykroyd, Sigourney Weaver, Bill Murray, Annie Potts and Ernie Hudson) and mass marketing, the rebooted film failed to secure first place in its opening weekend, losing out to The Secret Life of Pets.

The reviews have been split evenly and decisively, with 50 percent (mostly female) feeling inspired by the film, while the other 50 percent (mostly male) feeling their childhood has been betrayed. It is true that the Ghostbusters reboot lacks the freshness of Aykroyd’s, and the late Harold Ramis’ vision; however, director and co-writer Paul Feig has created new characters that are both quirky and charming. 

Professor Erin Gilbert (Kristen Wiig) is about to achieve tenure at Columbia University when an academic skeleton comes out of her past. Erin wrote a book about the paranormal with her old friend, Abby Yates (Melissa McCarthy), who now works at a low budget institute with techno-nerd Jillian Holtzmann (Kate McKinnon). After a series of mishaps involving vomiting ghosts, the three ladies form a unique business partnership.   

As the paranormal activities increase, this new enterprise hires a beefcake secretary who can’t type (Chris Hemsworth) and Patty Tolan (Leslie Jones), a streetwise cabbie whose uncle (Ernie Hudson) owns a Hearst business. Together, these five individuals confront the cause of all evil in New York City.
The five main characters are the heart and the humor of the film. Kate McKinnon is the most committed to her role and often steals scenes by doing absolutely nothing. Chris Hemsworth is the most broad character. His dancing during the closing credits will keep Chippendale fans in the theater for the final frames.   

Like Ghostbusters, The Secret Life of Pets is set in Manhattan. Told from the perspective of domesticated dogs and cats, the audience learns the untold adventures these animated creatures face during the daytime. This film has been the box office champion two weeks in a row. Combined with the much superior Finding Dory, animated talking animals have been the box office monarch for the Summer of 2016.

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HCA camp a success

Posted on 21 July 2016 by LeslieM

sports072116By Gary Curreri

For more than three decades, the Highlands Christian Academy basketball camp has brought smiles to its participants and this year was no different.

Former athletic director and head boys basketball coach Reg Cook began the camp in 1986 with 19 players and this year there were more than 100 participants in the 31st annual camp.

It is the most popular athletic camp we offer here at Highlands,” said Jim Good, who succeeded Cook in both capacities at the school. They also offer gymnastics, softball, indoor soccer, track, volleyball, and golf during the summer.

The camp was split into two weeks – one for 2nd through 6th graders and the other for 7th through 12th graders. The first week attracted 45 campers; while the second week had 60 campers.

We had an amazing group of coaches work the camp this summer,” said Good, who has been involved in the program for the past 20 years. He was assisted by Luke Still (Boys Junior Varsity), Josh Good (Boys Junior High), John Wilson (Girls Varsity) and two Highlands Christian School alumni – Jeff Sullivan and Caris Everette. Also in attendance was North Broward Prep School head coach and Ball by Design Director Casey Wohlleb.

Our philosophy has always been to create a safe and competitive environment, to have fun by working hard, and to teach basketball as well as life skills,” Good said. “Each morning, our coaches had the opportunity to share a devotion and personal testimony emphasizing that God needs to be at the top of our priority list.”

The morning session included warm-up runs, stretching, ball handling, dribbling and agility/speed stations. Each day, there was a trophy contest that included 1-on-1, 2-on-2, foul shooting and hot shots.

We would go off campus every day for lunch eating at Chick-Fil-A and CiCi’s Pizza,” Good said. “Coach Casey came in every afternoon with our 7th-12th grade camp and did a tremendous job on breaking down footwork and proper mechanics on shooting. He provided several quality drills each afternoon.”

The group then ended the day by playing 5-on-5 full court games.

Good believes the biggest reason the camp has been able to thrive as long as it has because of the quality of the coaching staff.

Our coaches are extremely committed in focusing their attention on the campers and really giving 100 percent to help each player improve,” Good said. “We have done a pretty good job with being consistent but also relevant. Our camp is very organized with a specific agenda each day.

We focus a lot on encouragement and motivation; there’s always a great “vibe” and interaction with the campers and coaching staff,” he added. “Also, I really feel we have gained the trust of so many of the parents that they feel their kids are involved in a safe environment where learning the game of basketball is happening but also learning the game of life.”

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Lace Up Football Camp

Posted on 15 July 2016 by LeslieM

sports071416Denard “Shoelace” Robinson gives back to his community

By Rachel Galvin

Two hundred and thirty kids from age 5 to 18 came out on the field at Deerfield Beach High School (DBHS) last Saturday, July 9, to be a part of the Lace Up Football Camp, put together by the Shoelace Foundation.

The kids all ran drills, did ladders and other circuit training in their T-shirts provided by the organization. They split up into age categories and ran races to see who was the fastest. They battled the hot sun, but they were all smiles.

This was the second year for the event created by Jacksonville Jaguars football player Denard “Shoelace” Robinson, a running back and wide receiver. Robinson knows this school. He knows this community. He grew up here, and started school at Park Ridge Elementary and eventually graduated from Deerfield High. For him, this event is all about giving back.

I love my community,” he said. “I want to be the change I want to see.”

Shoelace Foundation board member Jerry Jasmin added, “Denard always wants to give back. He is in a unique situation in that he plays in the same state he is from. He wants to empower underprivileged children to become better citizens.”

Besides local kids, children and teens from other cities, like Lauderhill came out to participate. Coach T. Anderson coaches youth football in the 7U category there. Two of his grandchildren, age 7 and 8, participated in the camp and he sat with other parents on the sidelines beneath tents in the shade.

I love it,” he said of the event. This is a great thing for our youth … to have a positive role model. We need more of this all the time.”

DBHS student 16-year-old Joell hopes to play football in college. He is a linebacker right now for the school. He loved doing the drills.

[My favorite part is] we had to run inside the box [ladder] and outside of it and do burpies,” he said as he described some of the drills.

Nine-year-old Mickeelah, who was one of the few girls in the group, came out because Denard is her cousin. She normally gets to see him only on holidays so this day was special.

Racing is my favorite part. I did some drills. Some of them were hard for me,” she said, adding, “[For lunch], we had a hot dog, Pringles, a granola [bar] and some juice [among other items available].”

Volunteer Bruny Colquhour felt the event went well.

Everything is very organized. The kids look forward to it every year. Shoelace is doing great for the community. It inspires the kids to dream big,” she said.

Besides Denard, there were other well-known players who attended either the event this day or the 1st annual basketball event that happened the night before. They included Robinson’s teammates from the Jaguars, including wide receivers Tony Washington and Rashad Lawrence; J.T. Thomas from the New York Giants; Rashard Robinson from the San Francisco 49ers, Adrian Witty from the Cincinnati Bearcats and rapper Ace Hood.

Denard not only helped kids to improve their skills, but taught them the importance of education.

He explained to one student who did not like to read, “In order for you to play football, you have to have your education first. You have to use school to get you there. If I could do all this work in football, I can do it in school.”

Besides doing football drills and having lunch, students got to enjoy themselves jumping in bounce houses.

He didn’t let students leave without delivering one last powerful message, saying, “Always have a role model. My role model was my dad. I want to be that person [for you all]. If I see somebody I look up to, I always want to be better than them. You all can do whatever you want. You can be president; you can be an astronaut; you can be a football player … It is here for the taking. Never do it for the haters. Every time I step on the field, I do it for love. I do it for people who support me. Do it for the people who support you.”

For more on the Shoelace Foundation, visit www.theshoelacefoundation.org.

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FLICKS: The Innocents & The Shallows

Posted on 15 July 2016 by LeslieM

By “Cinema” Dave

http://cinemadave.livejournal.com

An entertaining big screen epic with efficient storytelling, Hunt for the Wilderpeople expands distribution this weekend. This film is an old-fashioned summer movie that deserves to be seen on the big screen. With his fourth movie under his belt, director Taika Waititi has proven his mettle and will be directing the next Disney/Marvel Superhero movie, Thor Ragnarok.

With a far more somber tone, The Innocents opens tomorrow. An official selection from the 2016 Sundance Film Festival, this film is a European drama told with English subtitles. Whereas Hunt for the Wilderpeople is an outdoor Disney-style family epic, The Innocents feels like an acclaimed Ingmar Bergman drama with deep themes. It is set in Warsaw, Poland in December of 1945.

While performing their morning prayers, a Polish nun slips out of the cloister and seeks medical assistance. After receiving directions from some street kids, the nun enters a Red Cross M.A.S.H. unit and asks Mathilde (Lou de Laage), a French female doctor, for assistance. The French doctor refuses, but later spies the Polish nun on her knees praying in the snow.

Dr. Mathile visits the nunnery and uncovers many secrets under the cloth. The brutality of the soldiers are a given, but the Head of the Cloister hides many secrets that are both hypocritical and life-affirming.

While our local weather has been beach friendly, The Shallows will make one question if it is safe to go to the beach. A modest mainstream box-office success, this film is the spiritual sequel to Jaws that audiences always wanted.

While escaping the grief of losing her mother, Nancy goes to a secluded Mexican beach to surf. While waiting for one last wave to take her into shore, she spots a dead whale. She investigates and runs afoul a man-eating shark. With echoes of The Old Man and the Sea, All is Lost and The Deep, The Shallows presents a showdown between an intelligent protagonist and a primal antagonist.

At one hour and 25 minutes, The Shallows is a simple story with enough visualization to feel like an epic experience. Director Jaume Collet-Serra provides visual clarity with sly use of special effects. As the main protagonist, Blake Lively gives a low-key performance full of intelligence and fear. The director is smart enough to slow down the film’s pace to simply allow his leading lady moments to sit and think. This film is better experienced because of these directorial choices.

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CLERGY CORNER: When words matter in the dark

Posted on 15 July 2016 by LeslieM

Minutes before midnight on Dec. 29, 1979, Eastern Airlines flight 401, originating from New York’s John F. Kennedy Airport, with 163 passengers and 13 crew on board, crashed into the Everglades, just short of their destination, Miami International Airport. In total, 96 lives were lost due to a faulty light.

While on approach to land, the nose wheel “down-and-locked” indicator light failed to illuminate. A missed approach was executed, which included climbing to 2000 ft. over the Everglades. The crew re-engaged the autopilot and investigated.

During the commotion, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) determined the captain, when turning to speak with the flight engineer, may have inadvertently disconnected the autopilot, resulting in a shallow descent. Given the moonless night and dark terrain below, it would have been near impossible to visually recognize the departure from the established altitude.

Allow me to pause. Do you believe what we say and how we say it matters? Proverbs 18:21 teaches that “death and life are in the power of the tongue.” James likens the tongue to a small rudder which “makes a huge ship turn wherever the pilot chooses to go — “for, if we could control our tongues, we would be perfect and could also control ourselves in every other way.” (James 3:2-3). It’s important for us to understand that even seemingly insignificant words carry this same power.

We could argue the first link broke in the chain of events leading to the disaster stems from a seemingly insignificant piece of hardware. This malfunctioning light interrupted a normal approach and diverted the crews’ attention — a large catastrophe caused by a little light bulb.

If you’re like me, the latest catastrophes around the world can be overwhelming. I understand the “call to love” more. But can my personal choice to do so really make any difference in the grand scheme of the world’s problems? Then, I am reminded of Eastern Airlines Flight 401. Little things can make a huge difference — for better … or for worse.

For instance, now, if the autopilot is bumped off, an audible alert sounds. Another modest improvement, which has saved countless lives, is the concept of “pilot-flying” and “pilot-not-flying.” In the event of a situation, as with Flight 401, a crew-member’s sole responsibility would have been to positively monitor the instruments, immediately noticing the break from altitude. It’s simple, yet powerful — like our words (and even our actions).

From this day forward, recognize the power you possess to share love with others. It may seem trite, but let someone into traffic ahead of you. Buy the lunch of the person behind you in the drive-through. Visit a nursing home or VA. Write a personal note to someone. Call your parents. When someone is walking your way on the sidewalk, make room for them to pass — or honk less in traffic.

Love is a verb with limitless opportunities to be expressed. And while governing authorities may serve as relief, it is the power of love, exhibited on the personal level — albeit even minuscule — which heals a relationship, a family, a neighborhood, a community, a city, a state, a nation, a world. Never underestimate the capacity of simple words … it’s the power of life and death.

C.J. Wetzler is the NextGen pastor at First Baptist Church of Deerfield Beach. Before transitioning into full-time ministry, CJ was a commercial airline captain and high school leadership and science teacher. For questions or comments he can be reached at cj@deerfieldfirst.com.

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McKenna wins 10 medals at Transplant Games

Posted on 07 July 2016 by LeslieM

SPORTS070716By Gary Curreri

Deerfield Beach’s Jackson McKenna got a head start on this summer’s Olympics.

McKenna, 15, who will be a sophomore at Pompano Beach High School in the fall, cleaned up at the recent Transplant Games in Cleveland, Ohio by winning 10 medals for Team Florida.

He also earned the Youth Athlete of the Year award for the entire country for participants ages 3 to 17. Australia and Puerto Rico also had representation at the competition in addition to athletes from around the country.

I didn’t expect it whatsoever,” said McKenna, who as an infant needed a life-saving liver transplant. “It was very surprising to say the least. I was shocked at first. I thought it was a joke. It was really a lot of work and I was grateful they selected me.”

McKenna captured gold medals in four events – 100-meter dash, long jump, high jump and darts (cricket) and five silver medals in softball throw, discus, 200-meter dash, 400-meter dash and darts (501). He picked up a bronze medal in the shot put – all in the 14 to 17 age group.

The efforts in shot and discus were surprising given the fact that he had never competed in either event and watched YouTube videos to learn the technique. He had also never competed in darts.

At 5 months old, he was diagnosed with biliary (tract) ectasia and needed a life-saving liver transplant. McKenna received his liver on Feb. 17, 2001, has been healthy ever since, and, every two years, he competes in the Transplant Games of America.

The Transplant Games of America include track and field events, swimming, table tennis, cycling, long jump, table tennis and the softball throw.

The 10 medals this year easily surpassed his previous record high of six that he earned in Michigan four years ago and the five he won in Texas two years ago. Yet, McKenna said winning is not the driving force.

I just tried my best to see what I could do,” said Jackson, who has turned from sports to a new interest – playing the guitar. “I just wanted to win one medal. I had no idea I would do this well. The last few years have been pretty great. It is really fun. It is great to see the old friends you met from all around the world and then to meet new people.”

He took up the guitar two years ago and is in a music program in Boca Raton. He hopes to be a marine biologist or a guitar player when he gets older.

When you are competing, you are trying to prove whatever it is,” McKenna said. “Through guitar you can let out your emotions. How you feel is how you are going to play.”

The Transplant Games showcase the success of transplantation and calls attention to the life saving importance of organ donation, and honors organ donors and their families.

Health-wise he’s been doing great the past couple of years,” said his mother Jina McKenna. “We weren’t sure how he would do this year because he didn’t really put in as much time training for this as he had done in the past, but he really brought it when it came time for the Games. Winning the Youth Athlete of the Year was really special. It was really cool. We were shocked and surprised. We were happy and really honored.”

He won it because of the medals, but also his participation with Team Florida and his fundraising,” she added. “It also went to his helping create awareness and his longevity in the Games since he has been competing since before he was 2.”

McKenna was the youngest participant in his first Transplant Games in Orlando in 2002 at 18 months as he competed in the softball throw.

This experience has just shown me that you also go as hard as you can and you always try,” McKenna said. “Even if you think you can’t do something, you always try.”

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FLICKS: Hunt for the Wilderpeople

Posted on 07 July 2016 by LeslieM

By “Cinema” Dave

http://cinemadave.livejournal.com

The recent 4th of July weekend was full of outdoor activity. While the motion picture industry posted a modest weekend with Finding Dory, being the weekend champion for three weeks in a row. The BFG earned less than $19 million, despite being the first Walt Disney Movie directed by Steven Spielberg.

Spielberg and his colleague George Lucas [supposedly] predicted this Hollywood box office implosion approximately three years ago. This implosion is very similar to the 1960s, in which major Hollywood Studios were losing money producing movies like Hello Dolly and Cleopatra, while young independent cinema earned larger profit margins with films like Easy Rider, Midnight Cowboy and American Graffiti. Everything old is new again.

Opening this weekend in neighborhood cinemas is Hunt for the Wilderpeople, an independent film from New Zealand. The most recognizable face is that of Sam Neill of Jurassic Park and The Piano fame. The most talked about actor from this wild independent film will be that of young Julian Dennison, who portrays the misfit Bobby.

Told in multiple chapters, this film opens with Ricky being deposited on a farm by a social worker. The troubled boy is treated warmly by the matriarch of the house, but he is kept at a distance by the curmudgeon Hec ( Neill). For a few idyllic months, Ricky is treated like a little boy, until the mother figure dies unexpectedly.

Not wanting to return to the cement jungle of his younger days, Ricky fakes his death to go live in the forest. Given that his bravado was formed by absorbing too much American pop culture, Ricky confuses fantasy with reality and is rescued by Hec.

While Hunt for the Wilderpeople has several serious scenes, this film is full of confrontational humor. When Hec first rescues Ricky, the hungry boy hallucinates that he is talking to a giant hamburger. Throughout this rites of passage film, we see the growth of two disparate people who grow to genuinely love and respect each other.

While there has been much good word of mouth for The Secret Life of Pets, which opens this weekend with full Hollywood marketing hype, the Hunt for the Wilderpeople is not as visible but is worthy of seeking out. Director (and co writer) Taika Waititi will be a name to reckon with in the box office future.

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Everything’s Coming Up Rosen: Who am I?

Posted on 07 July 2016 by LeslieM

By Emily Rosen

ERosen424@aol.com

www.emilyrosen424.com

So this is what it’s like to be a writer: sometimes you get stuck. Here’s the deadline and you’re staring at a blank piece of paper, and the current political scene — to which you are addicted and pulsing to writing about – is off limits. So instead, you open the latest e-mail from a friend, with a link to a recommended book and you don’t even peek into the content. You fall in love with the title — well, actually, the subtitle: “My life as a Pretender.” The whole title is Reckless: My Life As A Pretender by Chrissie Hynde, founding member of the rock band The Pretenders.

I do a little Googling and You Tube-ing and now I know Chrissie Hynde. But I only have less than 24 hours – and no time to find and read her book. And it wouldn’t matter because “pretending” is something I think about often and about which I find myself in frequent conflict.

I have sadly concluded that one cannot get though life without having to tarnish one’s sense of authenticity.

Unless you are Henry David Thoreau and willing to live the life of a hermit, then the very act of comingling with others demands a degree of self restraint — zipping up your lip, and engaging in occasional activities that don’t comport with your desires or your sense of self. You see yourself as this “good” person: a friend in need, someone who talks the talk of walking in the shoes of others, empathetic and kind. But in order to be totally true to that image, you are often called upon to ignore your base thoughts and/or feelings in order to fulfill the larger “calling” of your self image. Therein lies the seeds of ambivalence.

So, you don’t say some of the things that are on your mind, that you truly believe, because those “things” can be construed as “negative,” and transmuted to “hostile.” And sensitive people don’t “cotton” to their perception of “criticism.” So you retreat to your “turtle” persona crawling into your shell, exhibiting your most charming “yes” smile – saying one thing while thinking another.

Do we call this “lying,” “self protection,” “kindness” – or inauthenticity? I’m still trying to figure it out and still trying to find an acceptable balance which will help me to be the “good” person I aspire to being, and also the real person I absolutely need to be. The fact that therein lies a conflict keeps me mindfully aware that – after all these many years — I am still trying to figure out who I am.

And I often conclude that I – like many others – am not one monolithic person, but rather a tangle of many me-s.

But, aha! Soon will come the day when our thoughts will be read by the progeny of “Siri” and her counterparts – and nothing that comes into our heads will be off-limit for reading by anyone so inclined. Add that to the list of scaries in the year 2016 – as if we didn’t have enough to worry about.

But you know what? Life is good!

 

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CLERGY CORNER: The passing of Elie Wiesel

Posted on 07 July 2016 by LeslieM

Survivors of hell have an acute focus on the objective. They have little time for pettiness and time-wasting.”Elie Wiesel

The world lost a great and indefatigable humanitarian this week with the passing of acclaimed author, journalist, academic and human rights activist Elie Wiesel. He was 87 years old.

Wiesel, a Holocaust survivor who endured the notorious death camps of both Auschwitz and Buchenwald, was also a prolific writer who authored some five-dozen books, both fiction and non-fiction, many of which related to social justice, Israel, the Holocaust and Judaism.

In one particularly moving conversation, Wiesel shared with a friend of mine R’ Simon, how he had basically given up on life after the war and the atrocities, and losses, he witnessed. Even after meeting French author François Mauriac, who persuaded him to serve as a witness and chronicle his experiences, he still felt dead inside and could not bring himself to personally commit to any life-affirming activities. But then things changed.

He told Simon, “I credit your father as being one of the first people who altered my view and attitude to life. Though he, himself, had suffered under Soviet oppression, losing his parents at a young age, your father was a shining example of positivity and celebrating life and its possibilities.”

He paused, took a deep breath and continued: “And then, in the mid-‘60s, your father introduced me to the Lubavitcher Rebbe-Menachem Mendel Schneerson. You father persuaded me to go see him, which I ultimately did. After hours of dialogue and subsequent correspondence, the Rebbe was the one who finally convinced me to marry and build a family. His most compelling argument – which I could not refute – was that the only and ultimate response to Nazi destruction was to build a family and perpetuate the memory of those they wished to obliterate.

This changed my life, forever. In the single-most important decision of my life, I married Marion in 1969, and, then, in 1972, we had our son – our pride and joy – Shlomo Elisha, named after my father, who perished in Buchenwald,” he said.

Clearly very emotional, Wiesel walked Simon over to the photos on his desk. Pointing to pictures of his son and his grandchildren, he simply said: “Everything is worth this.”

Simon once asked him whether it is true that marching into the gas chambers, Jews would sing Ani Ma’amin [I believe], a heart-stirring melody expressing one’s complete and unwavering faith in the coming of the Messiah, who will usher in a new world order of peace. Wiesel replied that the barracks where the Jews were held was a distance from the death chambers. But very often he did hear the whimpering prayers of the Jews near him. The cry of the Shema (sacred passages), the reciting of Kaddish (mourners prayer), the Shabbat or holiday prayers, and also, the singing of Ani Ma’amin.

If I may ask,” Simon continued, “How do you explain this devotion? In the face of utter abandonment, of a God who was totally concealed, allowing His people, His children, to be decimated, the Jews had the total right to be angry at God. How do you explain the fact that instead they thanked and prayed to Him, sang His praises and declared their absolute belief that He would redeem them?!”

Wiesel’s response captures his essence: “Things really don’t make sense. Life is mostly absurd. We have seen man at his worst. But for the Jew, insanity is not abnormal. I can’t tell you what was going on in the minds, hearts and souls of the Jews who walked to their deaths. But I can tell you that every single one of these sacred people knew one thing. And they declared it with their prayers and their songs:

You can take our bodies, but you can’t take our souls. You can take our lives but not our faith. We will prevail. If not today, tomorrow.

If not tomorrow, the next day. If not us, our children. If not our children, our grandchildren. But we will prevail.

Ani Maamin… I believe with complete faith…”

Dearest Elie Wiesel, you have made your mark. You have served as a child of your father’s and mother’s, and of so many fathers and mothers. You have brought into this world a son and grandchildren – and millions of students, considered to be children as well. You have prevailed, as has the Jewish people. We will live to see the world as promised to us. And if not today, tomorrow.

In 1973, Wiesel composed a cantata titled, “Ani Maamin: A Song Lost and Found Again.” The song concludes with the following verses:

I believe in you,

Even against your will.

Even if you punish me

For believing in you.

Blessed are the fools

Who shout their faith.

Blessed are the fools

Who go on laughing.

Who mock the man who

mocks the Jew,

Who help their brothers

Singing, over and over and

over:

I believe.

I believe in the coming of

the Messiah,

And though he tarries,

I wait daily for his coming.

I believe.

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FLICKS: The BFG & Independence Day: Resurgence

Posted on 30 June 2016 by LeslieM

flicks063016By “Cinema” Dave

http://cinemadave.livejournal.com

It has been 34 years since director Steven Spielberg released his 6th motion picture, E.T. the Extraterrestrial, whose box office gross made him the King of Summer blockbusters. At the time, Harrison Ford was dating Melissa Mathison, who wrote the screenplay for E.T. When Mathison fell ill, Spielberg reviewed some of her screenplays and was impressed by her adaptation of Roald Dahl’s The BFG, which was published in 1982, the same year that E.T. the Extraterrestial was released. While best known for his dark children’s novels like James and the Giant Peach and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Dahl’s The BFG confronted an emotion he was unfamiliar with — sentimentality. The diverse collaboration between Dahl, Mathison and Spielberg has created a fine motion picture based on a book.

Sophie (Rudy Barnhill) is an orphan with insomnia. One night, she spots a giant (Mark Rylance) roaming the streets of London. Fearing reprisals from humans, the giant abducts Sophie and takes her to his hovel. Fearful at first, Sophie develops a kinship with the giant, who she names “BFG” — short for Big Friendly Giant.

Sophie learns that BFG is actually the runt of the giants and that he is frequently bullied by his brethren. When the mean giants get too aggressive, BFG plans to return Sophie to the orphanage. However, Sophie has another idea and it involves meeting the Queen of England.

Being Spielberg’s first Walt Disney movie, The BFG is pure family entertainment. There is fantastic cinematography that is spiritually enhanced by John Williams’ musical score. There are scary moments, but not scary enough to induce nightmares. There are subtle moments of humor, with a whizzpopping belly laugh that builds to absurd levels. The BFG is a good afternoon escape from the summer heat.

A sequel 20 years in the making, Independence Day:Resurgence opened last weekend with disappointing box office. While the sequel does provide the science fiction community their jollies, the film is not as good as the predecessor.

With reference to the fictional events of 1996, Jeff Goldblum and Madame President (Sela Ward) learn that the aliens are planning a counterattack. They recruit the children of the heroes from the first movie to fly into danger. Things go wrong when the aliens unleash a secret weapon. Cliches abound. One cliche involves sacrificial death. With a swelling musical score, this dramatic scene feels false; the sacrificial death proves meaningless.

The best part of this film features Goldblum and Judd Hirsch’s kvetching father. The bantering between the two feels real with much humor and humanity.

Happy 4th of July!

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