FLICKS: Olympic memories with I,Tonya

Posted on 11 January 2018 by LeslieM

By “Cinema” Dave

www.cinemadave.livejournal.com

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.

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FLICKS: The Top Ten List& reflections

Posted on 04 January 2018 by LeslieM

By “Cinema” Dave

http://cinemadave.livejournal.com

In the waning hours of 2017, Star Wars: The Last Jedi nudged out Beauty and the Beast to become the box office champion for the year. This marks the third year in a row that a Star Wars movie has become the reigning monarch of the box office. While overall box office revenue was down for the motion picture industry, Disney showed a consistent return on investment with their Marvel Comics Universe and animated fare like Coco. Now with the acquisition of 20th Century Productions, only Warner Brothers will provide competition against Disney Studios for the Box Office Crown.

In this year’s Top Ten List, one will see many films from Disney, Warner Brothers Studios and 20th Century Fox. There were also some good stories from some independently-produced motion pictures. These films provide a good story, intriguing characters and technical achievements that enhance, but do not detract from the entertainment value of the product. So in no particular order, except in reverse alphabetical order, is my top ten list of films:

Wind River

Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi

Rumble: The Indians Who Rocked the World

Megan Leavey

The Man Who Invented Christmas

Lost in Paris

Logan

Kong: Skull Island

Dunkirk

Coco

Honorable Mentions:

War for the Planet of the Apes

Split

Professor Marston and the Wonder Women

The Shape of Water

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales

Logan Lucky

Lady Bird

The Last Word

It

Gifted

Baby Driver

Annabelle: Creation

While Summer Blockbuster season was a disappointment both critically and at the box office, the colder months featured consistent box office revenue and more critical love. According to the movie review website Rotten Tomatoes, there was a great disparity of opinion between paid criticism (the Tomatometer) and the audience score. Star Wars: The Last Jedi was loved by mainstream critics, but rated low on the audience score. Overall, I’ve enjoyed more films in 2017 than I have in recent years, though I find my favorites lean towards a strong audience score with strong box office performance.

Given the sexual harassment scandals involving so many Hollywood icons, one would expect a more subdued awards season. Yet, given the tenure of the late night talk shows featuring Jimmy Kimmel and Stephen Colbert, expect more President Trump bashing nonetheless.

Good movies should be the focus of these ceremonies.

Each award ceremony on television will feature a montage of people who have passed away in 2017. I hope I see a glimpse of my late friend Kenny Miller, who passed away last May 8. With the exception of a Florida-made independent film, Kenny Miller has not made a full length motion picture on the big screen since 1976. However, he worked steady in Florida nightclubs and earned a semi-regular role on Burt Reynolds’ detective series BL Stryker, which was filmed in West Palm Beach. A consummate professional and a heck of a nice guy, Kenny was one of the first interviews that I conducted for the Observer. Kenny worked in Hollywood classics featuring Hollywood legends like Orson Wells, James Dean, Anthony Quinn and Janet Leigh. He had many great stories to tell. He is missed.

The 2017 Ft. Lauderdale International Film Festival (FLIFF) was a consistently good community event from its opening to the closing evening three weeks later. The variety of stories were intriguing and special guests — Burt Reynolds, Blanche Baker and Karen Allen — provided a fine balance of movie stardom combined with artistic integrity. Both the Miami International Film Festival in March and FLIFF have a combined 67 years of local history.

As for the future, expect to see many television commercials during the Superbowl 18 (If you are not boycotting it) and Winter Olympics 2018 featuring films produced by Disney and Warner Brothers, the only studios that can afford the multi-million dollar tab for a 30 second spot. If these flicks are interesting — Black Panther, Avengers: Infinity War and Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom — then this swashbuckling journalist & information scientist will be there. A writer is only as good as the story he tells.

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FLICKS: 2017 in Review & evolution 2018

Posted on 28 December 2017 by LeslieM

By “Cinema” Dave

http://cinemadave.livejournal.com

Much like Aeneas fleeing the fall of Troy 5000 years ago, this film columnist is feeling a kindred spirit with this fictional character from the Aeneid written by Virgil, the Roman playwright. During the holiday season 18 years ago, the theaters would be packed with consumers viewing movies like The Green Mile, The Sixth Sense and Toy Story 2. In the past, people had to plan weeks or months in advance to purchase a ticket for a blockbuster. Even with the current box office champion, there is no need to plan that far in advance.

There were some good movies that looked great on the movie screen this year with big epic visuals. Among the standouts were Kong: Skull Island and Star Wars: The Last Jedi, to name a few. There were also strong stories like Moonlight and The Last Word that did not need to be seen on the big screen. These films were just as good on your television set at home. Thus, my major dilemma, being the longest standing film columnist in Broward County, has Flicks outlived its usefulness?

This swashbuckling journalist & information scientist still enjoys the challenge of coming up with seven paragraphs about the motion picture industry each week. Yet, with dropping box office revenue, there is no denying the shrinking interest in seeing a movie on the big screen. Entertainment spending is being spent on many alternative consumer items, like cell phones that can download movies for free with a library card.

Ninety years ago, Al Jolson brought sound to the big screen with the debut of The Jazz Singer. The doom knell for movies was sounded 60 years ago when Americans purchased black & white television sets for home entertainment and mass communication. The movie industry responded with Technicolor epics like The Searchers, Ben Hur: A Tale of the Christ and Rio Bravo. The motion picture industry survived because it consistently evolves.

Prurient scandals have been part of Hollywood history since its inception, from Charlie Chaplin’s peccadillos to Harvey Weinstein’s full-blown harassment scandals. As a journalist, one can not pursue news and information about the movie industry without being sidetracked by these scandals. This writer prefers to read stories about the business side of the industry or interviews with actors who talk about their craft and character development.

These types of stories and interviews are getting harder to find in this information age filled with #FakeNews.

Next week, Flicks will present our annual Top 10 List with Honorable Mentions. As long as I keep writing this column, Flicks will always have a movie component to it. Yet, there is so much more to the world of arts, entertainment, theater and culture than just sitting in a dark room watching projected celluloid images on a big screen.

Starting with Jan. 11, 2018, Flicks will be undergoing its first step of its evolution. it is my hope that my dear readers since 1999 will grow along with me. Until then, have a safe and happy New Year’s Eve weekend.

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Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Posted on 21 December 2017 by LeslieM

By “Cinema” Dave

cinemadave.livejournal.com

When I began writing “Flicks” 18 summers ago, Star Wars: Episode I -The Phantom Menace was the most hyped movie of 1999. Unlike previous Star Wars movies which opened on Memorial Day weekend and stayed on the big screen past Labor Day weekend, Star Wars: Episode I lost momentum after the 4th of July weekend. For the next six years, two more Star Wars movies were released to a good box office, but with critical disdain. Creator George Lucas claimed the Star Wars story was over, but Disney purchased the franchise and we have seen three movies that last three holiday seasons. Star Wars: Episode VIII- The Last Jedi, is the most recent endeavor.

The Last Jedi picks up where Star Wars: Episode VII -The Force Awakens left off. The good guys — the Resistance — are under assault from the bad guys — the First Order. Hot shot pilot Poe Dameron (Oscar Issac) defies General Leia Organa’s (Carrie Fisher) orders and ignites a space battle with Supreme Leader Snoke (Andy Serkis), General Hux (Domhnall Gleeson) and Kylo Ren (Adam Driver). The battle is decisive for the Resistance, but with a great loss for the heroes.

Meanwhile on an abandoned planet, Rey (Daisy Ridley) has found legendary hero Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), who is old, disillusioned and cantankerous. As Rey tries to persuade this war hero to help fight the bad guys, Luke feels grief over his nephew’s conversion to the dark side and the rise of the First Order. Luke’s nephew is Kylo Ren, who is the son of Princess Leia.

In terms of understanding the narrative information leading up to The Last Jedi, the pedigree between mother, son and nephew is all one needs to know to enjoy last weekend’s box office champion. Director Rian Johnson does a fine job revealing a fresh story with archetypal conflict. The lessons of war are presented with reverence, filled with clear and concise visuals. The computerized special effects enhance, but do not distract, from the fast-paced narrative drive.

Given that the director was only 3 years old when the original Star Wars (known as Episode IV: A New Hope) was released, The Last Jedi emphasizes the theme of passing the generational torch. The robots from the first six movies — R2-D2 and C-3PO — are given less screen time compared to the new prodigy, BB-8. Harrison Ford’s character is gone and we know that the late Carrie Fisher’s character will not return, so Episode IX will revolve around the conflict between those kids, Rey and Kylo Ren.

Yet, being the longest Star Wars movie on record, The Last Jedi does not cheat on entertainment. There are moments of pure Saturday matinee popcorn-eating fun that transport the ticket buyer to the thrilling days of yesterday when Flash Gordon battled Ming the Merciless. Of all the performers, Mark Hamill does a fine job balancing the serious nature of Luke Skywalker’s dilemma, with a humorous wink to the Star Wars core fanatics.

With the recent passing of my publisher David Eller, my old boss Rick Shaw and colleague Skip Sheffield, 2017 marks the end of an era. Given my generation’s 40-year history with this film franchise, Star Wars: The Last Jedi taps into the collective grief of our days. Yet, in its darkest moments, The Last Jedi draws from the need to be optimistic and celebrate our loved ones in this world and the next. Without meaning to, The Last Jedi says “Merry Christmas!”

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FLICKS: Lady Bird

Posted on 14 December 2017 by LeslieM

By “Cinema” Dave

cinemadave.livejournal.com

Tis awards season in the motion picture world, a time when Hollywood will release serious flicks about important life themes. Oscar and Golden Globes often acknowledge small-budgeted independent films like Breaking Away and Brooklyn, produced by a new generation of young talent both behind and in front of the camera. Breaking Away started Dennis Quaid’s four-decade career while Brooklyn introduced Saoirse Ronan as a future competitor to Meryl Streep.

Whereas Ronan gave a mature performance with a strong transitional arc, she is unrecognizably bland in Lady Bird. Actors often portray older characters with ease, but it is virtually impossible to perform the reverse. If one did not see Brooklyn, one would think the actress portraying Lady Bird is simply another bratty actress. Ronan does the impossible.

Actually Lady Bird is Christine McPherson’s (Ronan) self-given nickname. She is a senior going to Catholic High School. Despite being a rebel without a clue, Lady Bird shares her confidences with Julie (Beanie Feldstein). The two students share the same jokes with each other about hallway gossip, the drama club and family matters.

Lady Bird does have an antagonistic relationship with her mother, Marion (Laurie Metcalf), who works two shifts a day at a psychic hospital because her husband (writer – Tracy Letts) is unemployed. Feeling constrained by living in California, Lady Bird wishes for a more exotic life on the east coast, preferably a university in New York. This, of course, raises a bigger rift between daughter and mother.

As Blackboard Jungle was a film to be remembered for high school students in the 1950s, with Dead Poets Society marking the rites of passage for high school students in the late 1980s, Lady Bird may always be remembered by the 2018 graduates. The story is simple, but the theme is universal.

Introduced to the independent film circles with the release of Francis Ha five years ago, writer/director Greta Gerwig stays behind the camera with Lady Bird. Both films detail a self-centered female protagonist’s growth and maturity, yet with much humor.

Besides Saoirse Ronin’s fine performance, Laurie Metcalf also shines as the mother. With Gerwig’s succinct script, Metcalf creates a character who is deeply suffering, but with stubborn strength that keeps the family together with a roof over their head.

Lady Bird is a winner, which has already been given a Golden Globes nomination as Best Motion Picture — Musical or Comedy and Best Screenplay. Saoirse Ronin and Laurie Metcalf have also been nominated as Best Actress and Supporting Actress, respectively.

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FLICKS: Justice League

Posted on 07 December 2017 by LeslieM

By “Cinema” Dave

http://cinemadave.livejournal.com

According to box office reports, DC Comics’ Wonder Woman is the most popular comic book movie of 2017, followed by Marvel Comics Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.2, Spider-Man: Homecoming and Thor: Ragnarok. But, for the most part, Marvel Comics movies have dominated the DC Comic Universe in both critical acclaim and box office.

For the most part, the Marvel Comic Book movies contain stand-alone stories. If one goes to see Black Panther next February, there is not a need to see the character’s introduction from Captain America: Civil War. However, it would enhance one’s viewing pleasure. Based on who the protagonist is, each film is uniquely different. Tony Stark’s Iron Man lives in our world, while the Guardians of the Galaxy live outside the far reaches of our solar system.

The problem with Justice League is that this DC flick looks the same as its predecessors: Man of Steel, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Suicide Squad and Wonder Woman. There are many fights, chases and explosions that were created from the fevered mind of a computer special effects specialist. There is a battle between good and evil, but the visuals are not concise enough to determine who is fighting who.

[Spoilers follow regarding Batman v Superman]. Justice League opens with a video featuring Superman (Henry Cavill) talking to a kid. Superman is asked what he likes about Planet Earth, but the video cuts out. As the credits roll, we learn that the world is grieving the death of Superman, based on the ending of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.

Batman (Ben Affleck) perceives a threat from outer space. He contacts Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) to help him uncover the mystery of the three boxes. One box can be found in Wonder Woman’s hometown, while another box may be found under the sea in the ruins of Atlantis. While investigating the missing box of Atlantis, Batman meets Aquaman (Jason Momoa).

Kind of like Professor Xavier from the X-Men series (oops … that’s Marvel), Batman recruits two young people with mutant abilities. Cyborg/Victor Stone (Ray Fisher) is a half teen/half machine whose father (Joe Morton) tried to save his son’s life with Krypton machine scraps. Barry Allen (Ezra Miller) can run very fast, so he is called The Flash.

The character interaction is the best thing about Justice League, but unfortunately the formulaic plot and dull visuals mar emotional empathy. The account executives with Warner Brothers Studios need to fathom why their own Wonder Woman and Kong: Skull Island are just so much more fun to watch than Justice League.

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FLICKS: The Star & The Man Who Invented Christmas

Posted on 30 November 2017 by LeslieM

By “Cinema” Dave

http://cinemadave.livejournal.com

As I slowly awoke Thanksgiving Day morning, I watched NBC’s broadcast of the Macy’s Day Parade, but grew weary of the Peacock network’s self promotion. Feeling nostalgic, I said, “March of the Wooden Soldiers,” and this Christmas classic appeared on my television screen. I was thrilled. As Stan Laurel, Oliver Hardy and Mickey Mouse prepared to overthrow the villainous Barnaby Silas and the Boogey Men, the CW Channel saw fit to interrupt Victor Herbert’s soaring climatic musical score for viewers to stay tuned for five hours of a Friends marathon … nostalgia interruptus …

With a smaller marketing mix than last week’s champion, Coco, The Star is another animated motion picture that opened. This film is a religious movie that is not preachy. It is the story about Mary’s pregnancy and how she was guided by a bright star. The story of Mary’s nine months is seen through the eyes of a donkey named Bo and a mouse who is a witnesses.

The story is simple, but entertaining. Traditional Christmas carols are given modern update without sounding intrusive. Despite having a light touch, The Star has many tender moments about faith, hope, redemption, forgiveness and salvation. Patricia Heaton, Kris Kristofferson and Oprah Winfrey voice a cow, a mule and a camel, respectively; as Herod, Christopher Plummer’s voice is perfectly typecast.

Plummer is also delightfully typecast as Scrooge in The Man Who Invented Christmas. Plummer does not actually portray Ebenezer Scrooge, as the character is a figment of Charles Dickens (Dan Stevens). Based on the book written by Les Standiford, The Man Who Invented Christmas details Dickens’ personal demons and inspirations that inspired his classic work, A Christmas Carol: Being a Ghost Story of Christmas.

The film opens with Dickens on a successful world-wide tour to promote his acclaimed book, The Adventures of Oliver Twist. The film fast forwards three years and Dickens has written three bombs. While outwardly being optimistic, Dickens sees creeping debt with his housing expenditures.

With his back against the wall, Dickens strikes a deal with his publisher to produce a Christmas/ghost story in a mere six weeks. Holing up in his office and play acting each role, Dickens works feverishly on his novella. Unfortunately, family interruptions keep impinging on his craft, especially from his father (Jonathan Pryce), who unwittingly becomes the personification of Ebenezer Scrooge.

The Star, The Man Who Invented Christmas and Coco are three good family movies on the big screen these days. While The Star and Coco may induce the most tears and laughter, The Man Who Invented Christmas is thought-provoking about family, craft and charitable inspiration.

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FLICKS: Coco & The Man who Invented Christmas opens this weekend

Posted on 22 November 2017 by LeslieM

By “Cinema” Dave

http://cinemadave.livejournal.com

Was he a good boy?” David Eller asked my mother while lunching at Duffy’s. Fortunately for me, Mom answered in the affirmative.

This exchange symbolizes my almost two decade professional relationship with my publisher and boss. Like my Grandfather, Dave G. Watson, Mr. Eller held positions of responsibility, yet he made a point of reaching out to his employees and celebrating their accomplishments. David Eller’s southern charm, loyalty to his employees and commitment to community philanthropy will be his legacy for many years. [See story about Mr. Eller on Pg. 1].

Opening this Thanksgiving weekend, Coco is a family friendly movie about memory and mourning. Despite what the mass marketing has revealed about a kid playing a cool looking guitar, this Disney/Pixar animated movie has much heart with an emotional roller coaster ride from tears to laughter.

When the opening credits roll, we learn about a man who runs away from his wife and child to pursue a musical career. For many generations, the family bans music from the household. As the generations pass through time, the great grandson Miguel feels the lure of music and keeps a guitar hidden.

When El Dia de Muertos approaches, Miguel is expected to participate in the annual family rituals. Instead Miguel tries to sneak off and enter a talent contest. The matriarch gets upset and smashes Miguel’s guitar. Angered, Miguel runs away from home and tries to enter the talent contest without his guitar. Told that he needs an instrument, Miguel sneaks into the tomb of the musical legend Ernesto de la Cruz and borrows his unique guitar. This theft causes a shift in the fabric of the universe and Miguel enters the land of the dead.

While this transition to the land of the dead provides the scariest portion of Coco, this film is full of beautiful amber, orange and gold imagery, which enhances this excellent story. The conflicts which drive the character motivation follow a logical progression, though with many surprises and character revelations. The character of Coco has limited screen time, but is the heart and soul of the movie.

Being a Disney/Pixar movie, Coco is filled with many visual details reminiscent of the award-winning Up. As Brave promoted Scottish folklore, Coco celebrates Mexican culture. The song, “Remember Me,” will be heard frequently during the awards season. The holiday cinema season is off to a fine start with the opening of Coco this season.

Based on Les Standiford’s book, The Man who Invented Christmas also opens this weekend. Starring Beauty and the Beast’s Dan Stevens as Charles Dickens, the story details the author’s inspiration to write A Christmas Carol. Christopher Plummer portrays the curmudgeon who inspired Ebenezer Scrooge. The buzz is good for this film and if you cannot get a ticket for Coco, then The Man who Invented Christmas could be a fine substitute. Happy Thanksgiving!

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FLICKS: FLIFF’S grand finale, featuring Karen Allen

Posted on 16 November 2017 by LeslieM

By “Cinema” Dave

http://cinemadave.livejournal.com

After You’re Gone is an appropriate title for the closing night film of the Ft. Lauderdale International Film Festival (FLIFF) because the 32nd annual event will soon be a mere memory. From the Russian Federation, After You’re Gone features the story of a ballet dancer with a bad back who tries to understand the end of his career. Writer/director Anna Matison will be in attendance with a wrap-up party at Bailey Hall [at Broward College in Davie] featuring grilled wings, pizza and paninis.

Paninis and pasta sounds like appropriate food for the much-anticipated TOGA Party at the Villa Di Palma. FLIFF Executive Board Member Steve Savor is presenting live entertainment featuring Otis Day & The Knights from the 1978 classic comedy Animal House, starring the late John Belushi, the late John Vernon, Kevin Bacon, Peter Riegert and Karen Allen, who is in town to receive the Lifetime Achievement Award.

Best known for her blockbuster body of work from the 1980s, Karen Allen is truly a renaissance woman. Besides owning her own fiber arts business in Barrington, Massachusetts, Allen teaches Yoga and acting. Born in southern Illinois and raised in Washington D.C., Karen was a camp counselor for special needs children during her teens. A natural writer, Allen was bitten by the acting bug after seeing a tour of the Polish Laboratory Theater in 1972. As an actress, Allen [perhaps best known for her role in Indiana Jones films] balanced her acting career between film and theater.

In theater, she found diversity of roles in classics written by William Shakespeare, August Strindberg and Tennessee Williams. Besides Patty Duke, Allen has portrayed both Helen Keller and her teacher Anne Sullivan in stage productions of Monday After the Miracle and The Miracle Worker, respectively. In the past eight years, Allen has directed theater productions in the Berkshires.

This Saturday evening, at 6:30 p.m., Allen’s cinematic directorial debut will be screened at the Savor Cinema before the TOGA party. Based on a short story by Carson McCullers, A Tree. A Rock. A Cloud is a quiet story about an old man who meets a boy at a roadside cafe. Usually published as part of Carson McCuller’s novella Ballad of the Sad Cafe, A Tree. A Rock. A Cloud. was a story Allen wanted to visualize since reading it in her early 20s.

While they never worked together, both Burt Reynolds [who received his Lifetime Achievement Award opening night of FLIFF] and Karen Allen have much in common.

Besides successful acting careers on the big screen, both have made a point of passing on their knowledge to the next generation. The Burt Reynolds Institute for Film & Theater, located in Jupiter, has been in existence for 40 years. Karen Allen is a Lifetime Member of the Actor’s Studio and is on the board of the Berkshire International Film Festival.

Given their participation at this year’s edition of FLIFF, both of their appearances have raised the cultural standards of our local community. Tickets & info: www.FLIFF.com

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FLICKS: Ft. Lauderdale International Film Festival

Posted on 09 November 2017 by LeslieM

By “Cinema” Dave

http://cinemadave.livejournal.com

With genuine emotion, Florida history and the traditional glamour that goes along with it, this edition of Ft. Lauderdale International Film Festival (FLIFF2017) is shaping up to be one of the best ever. The regular venues, Savor Cinema & Cinema Paradiso Hollywood, are hosting unique themed parties that are supporting the international flavor of the film being screened. Yet, it will be the opening night gala at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel that will be talked about for many years to come.

Executive Producer Stevie Salas’ Rumble: The Indians who Rocked the World delivered. This intriguing documentary provided an entertaining history about the roots of the Blues and the birth of rock ‘n roll overturning much mainstream education taught in public schools and academic institutions.

Salas had played guitar for the Rod Stewart Tour, which became the first concert at Joe Robbie Stadium on July 3, 1988.

While posing on the red carpet with actor Graham Greene [who showed off his Lifetime Achievement Award], Burt Reynolds and Chris Osceola, Salas acknowledged the moment, saying, “I performed with Rod Stewart in the first concert in the stadium. Now, the Hard Rock owns the stadium!”

With a chorus of reporters humming “Hail to the Chief,” Burt Reynolds arrived on the Red Carpet in an oversized golf cart, referred to as a “mini TransAm.” It was a fun and light moment as the gregarious Reynolds posed with the “Rumble” crew, students from his acting school in Jupiter, and cast & crew from Dog Years, the opening night film, including Nikki Blonsky (known best from Hairspray) and local actors Todd Vittum and Amy Hoerler.

It was after the screening of his film Dog Years, when a weepy Burt Reynolds took center stage to accept his second Lifetime Achievement Award. The silence was deafening as Mr. Reynolds apologized for mistakes in his life. He talked about working with great people through the years and how many of them are no longer around. He talked about Heaven and Hell, Florida State University and his childhood friend who ended up dying in Vietnam. You can find Burt’s speech on the Cinema Dave YouTube Channel – www.youtube.com/cinemadave. For all the facets of fame and fortune, Burt stressed the importance of family, friends and coming home to Florida.

Burt’s message that had an impact on Blanche Baker, whose mom, Carroll, was the recipient of the 2012 Lifetime Achievement Award. Blanche was in town to support a short film she directed, STREETWRITE, a 24-minute musical about free speech that encompasses all forms of Broadway musicals, operetta, rock, contemporary and hip-hop.

Baker utilized the students at New York Film Academy, where she teaches.

There will be more fun this Veterans Day weekend when writer/director Ken Webb’s comedy, Serious Laundry, screens at the Sunrise Civic Center as the featured centerpiece film. ArtServe President & CEO Jaye Abbate and I will introduce the documentary, Cries From Syria this Friday, Nov. 10 at 6:15 p.m. (location TBA), which may be one of the most important films released in 2017. For schedule and showtimes for all FLIFF films, visit www.fliff.com.

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