FLICKS: From Miami nice to Miami Vice, The Last Resort

Posted on 14 February 2019 by LeslieM


By “Cinema” Dave

http://cinemadave.livejournal.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy Valentine’s Day!

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FLICKS: Heading Home: The Tale of Team Israel

Posted on 07 February 2019 by LeslieM

By “Cinema” Dave

http://cinemadave.livejournal.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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FLICKS: Blues School: Ragtime Migration

Posted on 31 January 2019 by LeslieM

By “Cinema” Dave

http://cinemadave.livejournal.com

Remember Blues School?

Inspired by the International House of Blues Foundation and funded by the Broward Public Library Foundation, Blues School was administrated by Tim “Hurricane” Bain and Cinema Dave. Besides deepening the collection of music and books, Blues School created two seminars, a lively academic presentation with Professor Chuck Bergeron from the University of Miami and a graduation concert held at the African American Research Library and Cultural Center, hosted by Guy Davis. As an inaugural program, Blues School was a success with plans to continue the academic and entertainment program. Alas, when the economy collapsed in 2008, funding for Blues School dried up.

Kris Nicholson, our adjunct scholar – Blues School  Ragtime Migration

The spirit of Blues School did not die. Through the years, there had been variations of Blues School and this Saturday, Feb. 1, at 2 p.m., the Deerfield Beach Percy White Library (1837 E. Hillsboro Blvd.) will present “Blues School: Ragtime Migration” featuring piano player Kris Nicholson.

Based in Miami with Bronx origins, Kris Nicholson describes himself as a “Boogie Woogie Honky Tonk pianist,” which is a modest assessment of his commitment to culture and entertainment. Living and breathing the musical influences of Scott Joplin, Fats Waller and Jerry Lee Lewis, Nicholson’s attention to detail is even more impressive. (He noticed a typo in one of the flyers and corrected the name of one of his influences, Jo Ann Castle from The Lawrence Welk Show. Besides tuning the Baldwin Piano in the multipurpose room, Nicholson has requested a piano polishing with some Pledge).

With a sense of irony and ridicule by serious music critics, A Briefcase Full of Blues is the biggest selling Blues album of all time. This album was recorded live and created by the Blues Brothers — Jake and Elwood Blues (played by John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd, respectively) from the movie The Blues Brothers. Bands with the name “Blues Brothers Band” continue to perform, some with legendary musicians like Frank Sinatra and Otis Redding with geographic influences from New Orleans, Memphis and Chicago. While the Blues Brothers have been typecast as a glorified cover band, the cover of these songs created royalty checks and the movie revitalized the careers of Aretha Franklin, James Brown and Ray Charles.

Check out the Blues School display in the Youth Services area, featuring musical artifacts and books.

While the The Blues Brothers is the best known Blues movie, perhaps one of the most influential Blues movies is Crossroads, starring Ralph Macchio, and Joe Seneca as an old harmonica player who owes a debt to the devil. Inspired by the Robert Johnson’s Crossroads myth (about selling your soul to the devil for fame), the grand finale features a musical showdown between Joe Seneca (with harmonica dubbing by Sonny Terry) and Steve Vai as the devil’s guitar player.

Blues School faces its own crossroads this Saturday afternoon. Depending on the success of this free program sponsored by the Friends of the Percy White Library Inc., Blues School: Ragtime Migration may launch annual Blues School programs. Besides, Blues School is free. How cool is that?

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FLICKS: Glass concludes Eastrail 177 Trilogy

Posted on 23 January 2019 by LeslieM


By “Cinema” Dave

http://cinemadave.livejournal.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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FLICKS: Award nominees inspired by art, history & story

Posted on 17 January 2019 by LeslieM

By “Cinema” Dave

http://cinemadave.livejournal.com

One of the fringe benefits of the awards season is the emphasis upon classic movies that have won awards or have been nominated for films in the past. Turner Classic Movies (TCM) will feature 31 days of Oscars, which presents 24 hours and seven days a week of Oscar-associated movies. Given that the Golden Idol is now 91 years old, you can witness an interesting visual history of humanity, themes and pop culture.

Released in 1945 and based on a best-selling novel by Ben Ames Williams, Leave Her to Heaven earned an Academy Award for Best Cinematography (Color), which featured shot composition and colorization inspired by the American Realism Art Movement (Check out the Edward Hopper oil canvas “Nighthawks.”) While nominated for two more technical awards, Leave Her to Heaven earned Gene Tierney a best actress nomination.

Top billed Tierney portrays Ellen, a narcissistic femme fatale who woos handsome writer Richard Harland (Cornel Wilde) after dating political lackey Russell Quinton (Vincent Price). The film is incredibly dated as Cornel Wilde and Vincent Price are seen relaxing in a rustic setting wearing neckties with starched shirts and double breasted suits.

Beneath the award-winning cinematography, Leave Her To Heaven is a dark movie. You can witness a passive aggressive abortion and the drowning of the handicapped brother of Cornel Wilde. Both sequences are hard to watch seven decades after they were filmed, for the horror of the mind’s eye is filled in by what is not seen.

It is the terror of the mind’s eye that has made A Quiet Place a critic’s darling with award nominations. Directed and co-written by John Krasinski, this film stars his wife, Emily Blunt. The movie opens 89 days after the alien apocalypse and a family quietly forages for food. The alien invaders are blind as a bat, but with sonar hearing and their diet is humans. With minimal dialogue and abundant use of American sign language, we witness a family quietly adapting to their dangerous world.

A Quiet Place works on so many levels: story strength, character development and keen visualization. Like last year’s best screenplay winner, Get Out, A Quiet Place works as a metaphor for a society that is afraid to speak out.

Both Leave Her to Heaven and A Quiet Place are as diverse movies as one can see, but both films truly represent the time periods in which they were produced. Fortunately, for Broward County residents, both DVDs of these movies can be found for free at your local library.

Happy Martin Luther King Jr. Day!

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FLICKS: The Top 10 Flicks, Another look at 2018

Posted on 10 January 2019 by LeslieM

By “Cinema” Dave

http://cinemadave.livejournal.com

Last year, many critics joked that since Ash Wednesday would be on Valentine’s Day and Easter Sunday would fall on April Fools Day, many Christians would be confused. Instead, people’s faith in their God was severely tested on Feb. 14 with the Parkland Shooting. In the midst of political finger pointing, our neighbors pitched in and attempted to heal the painful situation. Bentley, host for Deerfield Beach Percy White Library’s Wags & Tales Reading Program, visited Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School as a therapy dog. The Coral Springs Museum of Art encouraged art therapy and displayed student’s art work. Music was another form of release as I witnessed two teenage strangers from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School bond with each other through their acoustic guitar strumming.

On April 1, 2018, family and friends quietly celebrated; it was a quiet news day. At 8 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, the first notes of Jesus Christ Superstar Live In Concert on the NBC Network and social media exploded. While there was common criticism of cheesy TV commercials, the live production was a juggernaut of show-stopping musical numbers featuring John Legend, Sara Bareilles, Alice Cooper and Brandon Victor Dixon singing the signature song. After 40 days and one week of grief and despair, Jesus Christ Superstar provided a few hours of escapism that good art should provide.

Beyond a good story, interesting characters and strong visualization, this year’s Top 10 List includes movies that helped me escape. I went into the dark cave known as cinema and emerged with a sense of illumination about my place in this world.

Cinema Dave’s Top 10 favorite films (In reversed alphabetical order):

Won’t You Be My Neighbor?

12 Strong

The Mule

Juliet, Naked

First Man

Eighth Grade

Creed II

Bohemian Rhapsody

Black Panther

Avengers: Infinity War

Honorable mentions: Solo, A Star is Born, Ready Player One, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom

2018 will go down as a fine year for documentaries. Won’t You Be My Neighbor was unique because Dr. Fred Rogers was such a positive character and the film retained a sweetness from beginning to end. Despite a tragic ending, Sharkwater Extinction was a fantastic visual experience featuring gorgeous sunsets and underwater adventure. RBG and Love, Gilda provided private insight into two public figures, a Supreme Court Justice and a gonzo comedian, respectively. While The King is a toe-tapping assault about the fruits of American capitalism from the Hollywood elite, Women of Venezuelan Chaos presented the squalor and negative effects of the dreams of socialism, which is an eminent front for government tyranny.

With the exception of Christian Bale thanking Satan for his Golden Globe win, the Hollywood elite bridled their words at last Sunday’s awards ceremony. Based on the belligerent behavior of Hollywood elites (I am looking at you, Robert DeNiro), the television ratings have been increasingly dropping. The box office broke records for 2018, but with Avengers: Infinity War and Black Panther contributing for nearly a billion dollars in the kitty alone. Without family friendly Marvel Comic Universe movies for 2018, the record breaking box office would have collapsed like a house of cards.

With new revenue streams like Amazon and Netflix, many award-nominated motion pictures had limited screen time in theaters. In fact, some films go from opening at film festivals to direct streaming on your computers if you purchase Netflix or Amazon. If movie theaters plan to survive, they need to focus on good old-fashioned customer service and cleaner movie theaters.

Nonetheless, I am optimistic about visiting Savor Cinema in the next couple of months to catch up with the Oscar nominated films that I did not see yet. With Glass, Captain Marvel and Avengers: Endgame opening at Museum of Discovery and Science (IMAX) in Ft. Lauderdale, expect to see Cinema Dave eating a jumbo bag of popcorn and enjoying Saturday Matinee escapism.

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FLICKS: A look at movies from 2018

Posted on 03 January 2019 by LeslieM

By “Cinema” Dave

http://cinemadave.livejournal.com

Given that I am writing this column in 2018, I still have a few hours left before creating my Top 10 List of films and honorable mentions for the year, which means it will be posted next Thursday, Jan. 10 instead.

Being a good information scientist, I have been researching other people’s mainstream Top 10 Lists and the results have been eclectic. One of the most bizarre picks is Deadpool 2, which happened to earn the 5th largest box office gross for the year. Aside from many comic book “in” jokes and a celebrity cameo from Brad Pitt, Deadpool 2, to me, is merely an extension of gags from the first movie.

A darling of the Venice Film Festival, The Ballad of Buster Scruggs is the latest movie from the Coen Brothers, who delight in pessimistic themes of the old west (Raising Arizona, No Country for Old Men, True Grit). This anthology film presents six stories. The first story stars Tim Blake Nelson and is a musical comedy that generates many belly laughs. The remaining five stories get progressively darker and crueler. “Meal Ticket” is the most disturbing tale. It features Liam Neeson as a snake oil salesman and his partner, an armless and legless orator of classic poetry (Harry Melling), the actor best known for playing Young Dudley Dursley in the Harry Potter movies. After Meal Ticket, the good will of The Ballad of Buster Scruggs is squandered.

Ghost Stories is an anthology film with a narrative thread that creates a full cinematic experience. Shot in Great Britain on a shoestring budget, writers and directors Jeremy Dyson & Andy Nyman (who is also the main protagonist) create a classic ghost story that relies on sight, sound and a narrative drive that is psychologically based.

Eighth Grade was a surprise find. It is a simple slice of life movie written and directed by Bo Burnham. In it, Elsie Fisher stars as Kayla, a teenager in her final week of middle school. While it is modern (Yes, cell phones play a big part in moving the narrative along), the awkwardness of being a teen is real and is presented as a right of passage. Eighth Grade is easily the best film I found on other mass media’s Top 10 Lists and Elsie Fisher is nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Best Actress.

It should be noted that the films I mention in this column are no longer on the big screen. Each one of these films can be found on Netflix or on DVD at your local library.

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FLICKS: “Cinema” Dave’s 2018

Posted on 26 December 2018 by LeslieM

By “Cinema” Dave

http://cinemadave.livejournal.com

As a child of the 1960s, the term “Revolution” was often described as a political movement. When “Revolution” was utilized during the 2008 political season with the same political marketing, I realized that “Revolution” was not a political movement, but an excuse to reinvent the wheel.

Last December, I wrote that my column would be going through a sense of “Evolution,” which implies a sense of growth and change. As long as I am known as “Cinema” Dave, this column will always be grounded in film. Yet, there were moments watching boring movies in 2017 (Justice League was the tipping point) that I really questioned my value of sitting in a dark room of flickering images.

Starting in 2018, I sought more meaningful entertainment diversions, something more personal to this writer. As Deerfield Beach Percy White Library prepares for another visit from the “President and his First Lady” (historical reenactors) on the last Saturday in January, I reflect upon my interview with the actor who played many presidents William Wills, leading man, entrepreneur and family man. Besides being a labor of love, “Presidents and their First Ladies” is a family affair in the performing arts that also raises funds for military veteran familes.

Thanks to Marlene Janetos and Theresa Waldron, I have renewed my visits to the Ft. Lauderdale Museum of Discovery and Science (MODS) IMAX Theatre, which also provided fine exhibits featuring hurricane preparations, Archimedes mathematics, and an appearance by Terry the Otter. The differences between local theaters and the five-story IMAX screen is dramatic.

I am thankful that the Observer has acknowledged my film columns since the summer of ‘99, during one of my most challenging years [They gave me a plaque for my almost 20 years of service as a film columnist]. I am also thankful for the loyalty that Randi Emmerman, Gregory Von Hausch and Joy Bowman have provided me throughout the years. The fact that I received a medal from “Adventurers in Charity” also is very meaningful to me, much like my multiple nominations for a Rondo Hatton Award.

With any evolution, there is an acknowledgement of the passage of time and loss. The year 2018 is the year we lost Burt Reynolds, the Hollywood movie star who found solace in his Florida roots. Like Burt Reynolds, Johnny Depp also has South Florida connections. Being movie stars, both individuals have had their share of good press and paparazzi press. As I write this column, Disney Studios have announced releasing Johnny Depp from the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise. Unlike his image as the media monster presented by the mainstream press, the Johnny Depp I met at the Alice Cooper’s 17th Annual Christmas Pudding concert in Arizona was clear-eyed and engaging, and appeared to be enjoying himself as the guitarist for the Hollywood Vampires band. Given that Depp and I are the same age, perhaps he too is going through his own sense of evolution? Only time will tell.

Dear Readers, let us all start things off with a Happy New Year!

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FLICKS: Movie memories & The Mule

Posted on 19 December 2018 by LeslieM

By “Cinema” Dave

http://cinemadave.livejournal.com

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!”

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FLICKS: Won’t You Be My Neighbor?

Posted on 12 December 2018 by LeslieM

By “Cinema” Dave

http://cinemadave.livejournal.com

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.

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