FLICKS: FLiFF closes, The Wonders opens

Posted on 27 November 2015 by L.Moore

flicks112615By Dave Montalbano


While weary from an intense three-week festival of screenings, red carpets and special events, the volunteers, staff and journalists closed the 30th Annual Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival (FLiFF30) on a triumphant note at The Ritz Carlton Hotel on A1A in Fort Lauderdale. Given the theme of history emphasized by George Hamilton’s return appearance to FLiFF, it was appropriate to end the festival near the beach where Where the Boys Are was filmed 55 years ago, which Hamilton was in.

FLiFF was only three years old when bassist Jaco Pastorious was beaten to death by a bouncer in a Wilton Manor’s bar. Much like Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, [blues singer] Robert Johnson and Amy Winehouse, Jaco’s talent was not truly appreciated until his demise. To acknowledge his life, Cinema Paradiso will present an encore screening of the documentary Jaco this Thanksgiving weekend. Check Jaco out on the big screen with a nuanced sound system; you will enjoy seeing home movies of the Pastorius Family frolicking on Deerfield Beach during the 1970s.

Direct from Italy with English subtitles, The Wonders opens tomorrow. It is a bucolic film about a family of beekeepers in Tuscany. Despite living in a heavenly countryside, the parents struggle to live the simple life as their children become distracted by appearing on a reality television show. With gorgeous cinematography and Italian neoclassic realism, The Wonders is a quiet alternative to The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 and Creed.

In my 16 years of writing a film column for Thanksgiving, this year’s current news headlines make it difficult to find things to be grateful for. Yet, one can find peace in history. During the bloodiest days of the American Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national day of “Thanksgiving,” and the United States of America has been celebrating this holiday for 152 years, now THAT is something to feel grateful for. (See more about Thanksgiving history on pg. 6).

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FLICKS: Spectre & FLiFF

Posted on 19 November 2015 by L.Moore

By Dave Montalbano



Given the horrors we recently witnessed in Paris, the heroism of a fictional character like James Bond should feel false. Yet the Spectre box office has proven the value of movie escapism. Of all the Daniel Craig 007 adventures, Spectre feels like the most typical James Bond flick.

The film opens strong with Bond in Mexico tracking an assassin. From this endeavor, Bond finds a clue to a terrorist organization with links to previous movies, Casino Royale, Quantum of Solace and Skyfall. The mastermind of crime is Franz Oberhauser (Christoph Waltz) who employs Mr. Hynx (Dave Bautista), a huge henchman with a double barreled shotgun. Bond must rescue the beautiful Dr. Swann (Léa Seydoux), whose father was a soldier under Oberhauser.

Spectre raises some great questions about field espionage and computer surveillance, yet the film offers no solutions. After the opening, the best thing about Spectre is the cat and mouse game between Bond and Mr. Hynx. When Hynx disappears, the film limps to its conclusion.

FLiFF this week

This weekend, Amy Madigan and her husband Ed Harris will visit the 30th annual Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival and receive their Lifetime Achievement Awards. While the couple has worked as professional collaborators for years, their most critically-acclaimed work together was Pollock, Harris’s award-winning directorial debut.

Harris will attend the Florida Premier of The Adderall Diaries at the Cinema Paradiso- Ft. Lauderdale on Friday night at 8:15 p.m. (Film also showing at the Hollywood location on Saturday at 6 p.m). Harris portrays Neil Elliott, the vindictive father of Stephen Elliott (James Franco), who is a once successful novelist who has become addicted to Adderall.

Thirty years ago, Ed Harris starred in a locally-produced movie which included Blair Brown and Richard Jordan. The film was based on a best-selling John D. MacDonald mystery novel about corrupt small town politics, greedy land developers and Florida’s vanishing environment. Titled A Flash of Green, the film will be showing at Cinema Paradiso in Ft. Lauderdale at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 21.

The film was directed by Victor Nunez, a Florida resident, who will be presented the Florida Prize award for his commitment to Florida filmmaking. The award will be given to him by Ed Harris. The awards ceremony and gala will be held at the Diplomat Resort and Spa in Hollywood at 6:30 p.m.

For ticket information for the gala or any other FLiFF events, call 954-525-FILM (3456) or visit www.fliff.com.

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FLICKS: What Our Fathers Did: A Nazi Legacy, FLiFF continues with more celebs

Posted on 12 November 2015 by L.Moore

By Dave Montalbano


What Our Fathers Did: A Nazi Legacy opens tomorrow at the Living Room Theater on the Florida Atlantic University campus in Boca Raton. This two-hour documentary observes two children whose fathers were Nazi War Criminals. Now senior citizens, the two live vastly different lives with contrasting philosophies. This film is a serious documentary that asks the question, “Is it character or environment that shapes one’s destiny?”

With a lighter tone, Look Again plays this Friday afternoon at Cinema Paradiso-Hollywood (CP-H) and Sunday evening at the Cinema Paradiso-Fort Lauderdale (CP-FTL) as part of the 30th Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival (FLiFF30). On the verge of incompetent suicide, Amit (Anand Rajaram) receives special glasses from his guardian angel. These glasses allow Amit to see other people’s good or bad auras. Told with a light touch, Look Again concludes like an Aesop’s Fable about prejudice. Director Daniel O’Connor is expected to be in attendance.

Since he had so much fun last year, George Hamilton returns to party with FLiFF. The actor will be seen in Silver Skies, a dramady about seniors being forced to move from their housing facility. Along with Hamilton, film creators Jack McGee, and Nestor and Rosemary Rodriquez, will attend this centerpiece film to be shown at the Sunrise Civic Center Nov. 13 at 7:15 p.m. (It will also show in CP-H on Nov. 14)

FLiFF’s Volunteer Coordinator Janet Schwartz and Membership Director Irwin Levenstein are sponsoring a showing of the 1967 film, Bonnie and Clyde, in tribute to Estelle Parsons. Having been awarded a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for this film, Estelle Parsons will receive the FLiFF Lifetime Achievement Award. Film historian Foster Hirsch will conduct an onstage interview with Parsons to discuss her movie, television (Parsons played Beverly Harris on Roseanne) and academic career (teaching at Columbia and The Actors Studio). The screening begins at 4:30 p.m. at the Sunrise Civic Center with the Parsons-Hirsch interview and party scheduled afterward.

Cinema Paradiso will become Mel’s Drive-in Diner this Saturday night when Candy Clark accepts her Lifetime Achievement Award. Clark portrayed Toad’s (Charlie Martin Smith) love interest in George Lucas’s second film, American Graffiti, which was produced by Frances Ford Coppola. Like Parsons, Clark has an outstanding resume of film and television work. She has worked with Golden Age legends like Robert Mitchum, John Huston and Jeff Bridges, yet has remained viable on contemporary television shows like Criminal Minds.

To get a handle on all the films and festivities at FLiFF 30, call 954-525-3456 or visit the website www.fliff.com.

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FLiFF 30 begins, The Prime Ministers

Posted on 05 November 2015 by L.Moore

By Dave Montalbano

The 30th Annual Ft. Lauderdale International Film Festival, which runs Nov. 6-22, opens with three opening night films on Friday, Nov. 6: Michael Moore’s “Where to Invade Next” at 7 p.m. followed by “Jaco” at 9 p.m. at the Hard Rock Live, and “Boat Builder” with Christopher Lloyd at 8 p.m. at Cinema Paradiso in Ft. Lauderdale.

Jaco a one-time screening at the Seminole Hard Rock, is directed by Paul Marchand and produced by Metallica’s Robert Trujillo. This documentary examines the short life (36 years) of this Oakland Park resident who was called “The Best Bass Player who Ever Lived.” The Jaco Pastorius Park Community Center is named after him. Marchand, Trujillo and the Pastorius family is expected to attend.

Don’t miss The Boat Builder also on Friday with actor Christopher Lloyd (known for films like “Back to the Future”) in attendance to receive his Lifetime Achievement Award. Since his debut film One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, he has amassed over 40 years of acting credits. The film is sponsored by make-up artist to the stars, Cyndi Boyar.

Also sponsored by Boyar, and Havana Air, is “3 Days in Havana,” showing on Saturday at the Cinema Paradiso in Hollywood and Sunday at Cinema Paradiso-Ft. Lauderdale. Actor Gil Bellows (known for “Ally McBeal,” “Shawshank Redemption,” etc.) will be here. With overtones of Sir Alfred Hitchcock and Film Noir, Bellows (who co-directed with longtime friend Tony Pantages) portrays a man who, while having a drink at a bar, suddenly gets sucked into Cuba’s primitive underground economy. This Spanish film with English subtitles will include a Cuba Libre pre-party on Nov. 8.

On Veterans Day, Wednesday, Nov. 11, actress Loretta Swit will receive the Lifetime Achievement Award at Cinema Paradiso, prior to the screening of the documentary, Never the Same, the Prisoner of War Experience. That evening, there will be a “M*A*S*H”-themed party at Villa di Palma, with some proceeds from ticket sales going to Swit’s charity, Ayla’s Acres, a No-Kill Rescue Organization for Pets. The film is also sponsored by Cyndi Boyar, who is a Hillsboro Beach resident.

More about FLIFF next week. For details, visit www.fliff.com.

The Prime Ministers: Soldiers and Peacemakers debuts at the Regal Shadowood Theatre in Boca Raton tomorrow. The film reviews tensions with Egypt and the 1978 Camp David Accords brokered between Egypt and Israel by President Jimmy Carter. Oscar-winning actors Michael Douglas and Christoph Waltz serve as the voices of Yitzhak Rabin and Menachem Begin, respectively.

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FLICKS: Goosebumps & Crimson Peak

Posted on 29 October 2015 by L.Moore

flicks102915By Dave Montalbano


Given that Halloween falls on Saturday this year, this will be a big weekend for Trick or Treaters. While this weekend seems devoid of movies featuring Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi or Lon Chaney Jr., AMC is bringing back modern classics from the past four decades, including Halloween, Friday the 13th and Chucky incarnations. Only the Hallmark Channel’s Good Witch movies and It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown seem to be geared towards family viewing.

Goosebumps has been successful at the current box office because it works as a family motion picture. Based on author R.L. Stine’s series of children’s books, Goosebumps provides plenty of jump scares mixed with humor and teenage character growth.

Dylan Minnette portrays Zach, a new kid on the block who recently lost his dad. His sidekick is Champ (Ryan Lee), who is often nicknamed “Chump” because he is such a goofball. The two befriend Hannah (Odeya Rush), whose weird father speaks with an accent that sounds like a mixture of Alfred Hitchcock and Basil Rathbone. Hannah’s father harbors a secret; he is R.L. Stine (Jack Black) and he has created an army of monsters through his literary creations.

Goosebumps is fun, much like the film Bud Abbott and Lou Costello meet Frankenstein. While Jack Black is over-the-top (Black also voices “Invisible Boy” & “Slappy,” the mastermind ventriloquist’s dummy), Ryan Lee steals the show as a scaredy cat.

Crimson Peak, a Gothic romance with ghostly overtones, is not family fare. After losing her mother when she was a child, Edith Cushing (Mia Wasikowska) believes in ghosts. Ghosts repeatedly warn her to “Beware of Crimson Peak,” but Edith does not comprehend their meaning.

Enter Sir Thomas Sharpe (Tom Hiddleson) and his serious sister, Lucille (Jessica Chastain), two English aristocrats in need of American finance. When tragedy strikes her father, Edith goes to live in England in the Sharpe’s mansion, which is sinking into the red clay of the land.

Written and directed by Guillermo Del Toro, Crimson Peak is similar to his previous productions, The Devil’s Backbone, Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark and The Orphanage. Sadly, the narrative of Crimson Peak bogs down with dullness, despite some good performances by the stellar cast and some eye-catching cinematography that will be studied by artists for many years to come.

Have a happy and safe Halloween!

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FLICKS: Woodlawn

Posted on 22 October 2015 by L.Moore


Cinema Dave with Tony Nathan.

By Dave Montalbano


When I wrote my end-of-the-year review column, I started by acknowledging Class Acts – people I met at festivals, press junkets and conventions. These individuals were in the spotlight and handled their situation with grace, humility and a sense of humor. Though it has been over 25 years since I last talked with him, Tony Nathan definitively deserves a spot on the Class Act list. Tony Nathan’s teenage years are the subject of Woodlawn, a new movie that opened last weekend in local theaters.

Woodlawn opens and closes with images from a Reverend Billy Graham Crusade in 1972. Forced busing has created conflict in Woodlawn, AL as federal desegregation laws are being enforced across America. Woodlawn High School football coach Tandy Geralds (Nic Bishop) goes to work with a revolver strapped to his ankle.

The school year begins in chaos and the first football team meeting begins with self-imposed segregation. When the gnome-like Hank (Sean Astin) asks to speak to the team, Coach Geralds allows it. After Hank talks about his faith in Jesus Christ for an hour, the team becomes unified.

Woodlawn provides enough football action scenes to fulfill sport movie expectations; however, this historical movie is not clichéd. Woodlawn is a movie about character growth and development. In the center of the change is Tony Nathan (Caleb Castille), a high school student whose nickname is “Touchdown Tony”.

Caleb Castille’s performance captures the quiet dignity of Tony Nathan. Castille is supported by Sheri Shepard as Mama Nathan. Having portrayed FDR and Howard Cosell in the past, Jon Voight adds Paul “Bear” Bryant to his quiver of celebrity impersonations. Gifted actor that he is, Voight manages to bridge the gap between the man and the legend. The actor’s ensemble is worthy of the Woodlawn High School football team.

The issues raised in Woodlawn are just as relevant today as they were in 1973. There is a direct correlation between rioting for justice and finding common ground in sharing one’s faith. Woodlawn is a good family movie or a film that can be used for a school field trip.

For those planning on attending the 30th Annual Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival, catalogs will be available at the entrance of Deerfield Beach Percy White Library on a first come, first served basis.


105.9 WAXY FM Radio Promotion at the old Eckerds at the Publix Shopping Plaza, where Five Guys is today. Featured in the photo are Cinema Dave, his dad, Jerry; his mom, Mary, and Rick Riley from the 105.9 WAXY FM morning show. Front row – Coach Tony Nathan and John Bosa, defense for the 1988 Miami Dolphins.

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FLICKS: The Walk, FLiFF starts soon

Posted on 15 October 2015 by L.Moore

The Walk is a simple cinematic experience that deserves its box office success and critical acclaim. Told with exuberant energy, this film celebrates the core feeling of what it is to be a New Yorker.

The film opens with Frenchman Philippe Petit (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) narrating his story from the torch of the Statue of Liberty. As Petit explains his early adventures as a wire walker, the camera pans back and reveals the old New York skyline, with the Empire State Building in the background and the Twin Towers in the foreground.

After years as a street performer, Petit assembles a team of like-minded individuals to manage high profile challenges. Petit gains notoriety in Paris when he crosses the bell towers of the Notre Dame cathedral. After being arrested and being put in jail for public disturbance, Petit sees himself on the cover of a Paris newspaper. After flipping the newspaper open, he reads that the World Trade Center Twin Towers would soon be nearing completion. Seeing this coincidence as a divine sign, Petit assembles an international team to walk a wire between the Twin Towers.

Released seven years ago, Man on Wire was an Oscar award-winning documentary about the same subject. The Walk is a complimentary film experience that provides cinematic detail as to the nuances of wire walking that stock documentary footage is unable to present. It is a full cinematic experience that needs to be seen on the big screen for full effect.

The 30th Annual Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival (FLiFF 30) begins in three weeks. FLiFF 30 will feature visits from Christopher Lloyd, Ed Harris and his wife Amy Madigan, and Gil Bellows, known for Ally McBeal and Shawshank Redemption, among others. Loretta Swit, from the television version of M*A*S*H, will be involved in a special Veteran’s Day screening and event.

Having been recorded in the Guinness Book of World Records as “the World’s Longest Film Festival”, FLiFF 30 will kick off with special pre-fest screenings. Brooklyn features Saoirse Ronan as an Irish Immigrant involved in a forbidden romance with an Italian man during the 1950s. Produced by Ty Flowers, Time Simply Passes is a 53-minute documentary about a man wrongly imprisoned for killing his own children. 3:13 is a documentary about a man who lost his fortune in the Great Recession and how he became a street person in Miami. With sunnier cinematography, Single in South Beach deals with the relationship issues of a material girl.

For late breaking FLiFF30 news, updates and schedule, visit www.fliff.com.

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FLICKS: Run Boy Run & Adventurers in Charity 3

Posted on 08 October 2015 by L.Moore

flicks100815By Dave Montalbano


Run Boy Run opens tomorrow in local theaters. This film won 10 U.S. Film Festival Awards and is based on a true story about how a boy survived Nazi aggression from 1942 through the end of World War II. With English subtitles, this foreign movie does not need much language translation; it relies on the visual imagery to tell this riveting story.

Srulik (played by twin actors – Andrzej and Kamil Tkacz) has escaped a concentration camp with his father. With guards in hot pursuit, the father tells his son the most important thing to remember, if he loses memories of his father, mother and siblings, is that he is a Jew.

While on the lam, Srulik attempts to pass himself off as a Christian. He goes from farm to farm offering free labor in trade for room and food. If a farmer beats Srulik, the boy moves on. Sometimes a temporarily content life is ruined when children his own age discover, because he is circumcised, that this vagrant farm boy is a Jew.

Much like Homer’s Odyssey, Run Boy Run is a rollercoaster ride that swings from bucolic moments to frantic action scenes in which the child uses his wits to survive deadly violence. Director Pepe Danquart provides enough attention to detail rival Sir Alfred Hitchcock’s best suspenseful thrillers.

Surlik does not survive his ordeal unscathed. Due to a farming accident, Surlik’s medical situation goes from bad to worse due to the prejudice of Nazi laws. This is a strong memory to take away from this film; however, this film is life-affirming. After surviving such atrocity, ticket buyers will enjoy roaming the European countryside with the likable Surlik.

Adventurers in Charity 3 was held last weekend and “Cinema” Dave was there. This annual event brings together fans of the now closed Adventurers Club, formerly located at Pleasure Island in Downtown Disney. Since it closed seven years ago, Downtown Disney has become Disney Springs, with more stores and restaurants but fewer locations for human interaction. The annual event contributes to several charities.

While A Better Life Pet Rescue earned the majority of the contributions, Adventurers in Charity shed light on Dravet syndrome, a rare and catastrophic form of epilepsy that begins in childhood (www. dravetfoundation.org). The Starkey Hearing Foundation conducts hearing missions in the United States and around the world. This foundation plans to fit 10,000 hearing aids annually to children in need.

Adventurers in Charity is a rewarding weekend for those who contribute, and Adventures in Charity 4 is on the drawing board.

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FLICKS: Black Mass

Posted on 30 September 2015 by L.Moore

By Dave Montalbano


Every generation of ticket buyers learns about the underbelly of society through the movies. In the 1930s, Al Capone was represented by movies like The Public Enemy, Little Caesar and Scarface. The Genovese Family was a direct influence on The Godfather movies.

In recent times, the Boston thug and FBI informant James “Whitey” Bulger has been represented by award winning motion pictures set in Boston, most notably Mystic River and The Departed. Each of these motion pictures presents its protagonist as an anti-hero who defies society’s conventions and is defeated by his own character flaws.

As portrayed by Johnny Depp, Black Mass details the 40-year rise and fall of Whitey Bulger. Already a sociopath thug in the Southie section of Boston, Bulger fathers a son with girlfriend Lindsey Cyr (Dakota Johnson). When this son retaliates against a bully in the schoolyard and gets suspended from school, Bulger advises him to avenge himself “when no one is looking.”

Despite his criminal activities, Bulger is deeply connected with the legitimate world through his brother Billy (Benedict Cumberbatch), a member of the state legislature, and FBI Agent John Connolly (Joel Edgerton). The legend of Whitey Bulger grows as he becomes the criminal lord of Boston. Bulger’s criminal empire expands to Ireland and Miami.

Johnny Depp is getting his best notices in years. Like a grey-haired cobra, Depp performs with steely restraint. A comforting friend one moment, Depp’s Bulger can easily knife an acquaintance in the back a moment later. While Depp is the master of ceremonies, Black Mass is a full ensemble piece featuring good performances from Joel Edgerton, Dakota Johnson and Benedict Cumberbatch.

While it does not match the artistic heights of The Godfather movies, Black Mass does provide an interesting chapter in Hollywood made gangster movies. Scott Cooper’s Black Mass is a fine companion piece to Ridley Scott’s American Gangster with Denzel Washington and Russell Crowe headlining a fine ensemble cast. These movies walk a fine line between fantasy and reality.

When I attended the Friday afternoon screening of Black Mass, the packed auditorium was full of men wearing T-shirts representing Al Pacino’s Scarface, Giancarlo Espositio’s faux fast food chicken shack from Breaking Bad and older men wearing black. This bizarre experience was like going to the opening day of a Marvel comic movie, except that Black Mass does not celebrate heroes.

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FLICKS: The Second Mother, The New Girlfriend & Stonewall

Posted on 24 September 2015 by L.Moore

By Dave Montalbano


Opening tomorrow, The Second Mother kicks off Hispanic Heritage month. With dialogue in Portuguese and English subtitles, this film is a two-hour drama with humorous moments about family life and the social caste system in Brazil.

Val (Regina Case) is the devoted housekeeper to a doctor and his high class wife. She dotes upon their son, Fabinho (Michel Joelsas), who feels a special attachment to his “Second Mommy.” Early in the film, Val is babysitting Fabinho at the pool when the telephone rings. When Val answers the phone and talks to her estranged daughter Jessica (Camila Mardila), Fabinho becomes confused.

As the years past, Val becomes as much of the fixture of the doctor’s house as the living room sofa. When Jessica arrives in town to take a series of entrance exams, the doctor impulsively offers to let Jessica stay in the guest room. Complications arise as Jessica observes Val’s intimate relationship with Fabinho.

The Second Mother is a fresh motion picture about the rites of passage for a mother transferring from middle age, a wealthy family adjusting to empty nest syndrome and two young people confronting responsibility in the world. It’s contemporary and is likely to be remade as an American sitcom.

From France comes The New Girlfriend, a film that is being promoted as an Alfred Hitchcock-style thriller. The film is much more related to Hitchcock’s later, more personal work, like Marnie, Spellbound and Rebecca, three films that rely more on psychological revelations than cliffhanging action sequences.

Stonewall is a slice of contemporary American history much like Straight Outta Compton and Black Mass. Directed by Roland Emmereich (Independence Day), Stonewall details the birth of the Gay Liberation movement from the riots in New York City.

Despite the televised distractions caused by football, baseball and the Republican debates, the motion picture box office is enjoying its best September in over a decade. Expect 2015 to close out as a memorable movie-going year.

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