Tag Archive | "2017"

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FLICKS: The Top Ten List& reflections

Posted on 04 January 2018 by LeslieM

By “Cinema” Dave


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


Kong: Skull Island



Honorable Mentions:

War for the Planet of the Apes


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



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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Everything’s Coming Up Rosen: Bye Bye 2017

Posted on 04 January 2018 by LeslieM

By Emily Rosen



A year of transition was 17 — unlike any year I remember

Polarization to the max, right through the end of December.

Snuggling each in corners apart, the Rs and the Ds stood their ground

Playing the game of political chess, or more like kids on a merry-go-round.

For some quick reminders these names I will cite, lest they fade from the memory scene

I’ll add some events only because they’re germane to “17.”

The “coronation” of Donald Trump as our 45th Pres-i-dent

The proliferation of “tweets” from him, displaying his child-like bent

The March of Women the following day, a clue that dissension was real

And the staunch support he received from his base, a sign of the strength of their zeal.

Will the following folks still be around as part of our “household” names

As “18” rolls on and filters them out — and brings us some “midterm” games?

Bannon, Comey, Rosenstein, Flynn, Manifort, Papadopoulos

Kaepernick, Spicer, Huckabee-Sanders, but not the turtles in the Galapagos.

Preibus, Kelly, Conway and Kushner, Junior, Ivanka and more

Life at Mar-a-Lago, where the lingo begins with “fore”

Harvey, Irma, Maria, Mayor Cruz of old San Juan

Non Hero” McCain kills healthcare “reform;” he recognizes a “con.”

Bob Mueller, Neil Gorsuch and Vladimir P. and “Little Rocket Man” too

Las Vegas and Charlottesville (shades of the Klan) and Weinstein producing “#metoo”

Charlie Rose and Matt Lauer, no-jokin’ Al Franken, and others caught up in the web

The grabs and the touches, the lack of respect will hopefully be on the ebb.

Will we move our Israeli embassy or was that merely meant to alarm?

And what to do about “alternate facts?” Do they cause societal harm?

Is the “Free Press” only doing its job or is a “witch hunt” underway?

Will the Russian investigations finally end some day?

The Dreamers still are dreaming and the Muslim Ban engenders fears

No wall yet — but hark! It looks like there’s still 3 more years

The “tax cut” passed by a hair — and one of the winners was Don

And the stock market’s racing skyward. How long can that go on?

Surely, the year’s entertainer was President Donald J. Trump

But the character of our nation — underwent a significant bump

Presidents should role-model values — of love, respect and peace

And language is how that translates — as a country we can’t let that cease.

So bye bye to 17 — May 18 bring us together

All of us love our country — and that makes us birds of a feather.

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FLICKS: 2017 in Review & evolution 2018

Posted on 28 December 2017 by LeslieM

By “Cinema” Dave


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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FLICKS: Ft. Lauderdale International Film Festival

Posted on 09 November 2017 by LeslieM

By “Cinema” Dave


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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