Tag Archive | "film"

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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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FLICKS: 13 Hours

Posted on 21 January 2016 by LeslieM

In 2012, on the evening of the 11th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, a group of Islamic militants attacked two American diplomatic compounds in Libya, killing Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans, and injuring 10 more. The first response from the U.S. State Department was the claim that the attack was a protest over an anti-Islamic video that had surfaced on the Internet in July 2012. The “protest video” theory was proven false and [some say] was a diversion by the State Department, which had failed to provide adequate security for Americans on foreign soil.

Based on the book 13 Hours by Michael Zuckoff, producer/director Michael Bay has attempted to cut through the propaganda and present the story of the Benghazi tragedy.

13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi opens and closes with Jack Silva’s (John Krasinski) arrival and departure in Benghazi. Leaving his large family at home, Silva is a security contractor for the American diplomatic compound and not-so-secret CIA annex. Silva works with a competent team of former military men, who are supervised by a boss with a Napoleonic complex.

The day of Sept. 11, 2012 starts off quietly, but Ambassador Stevens and the security team are advised to keep a low profile on this sad anniversary. As the sun begins to set, terrorist thugs begin encroaching upon the diplomatic compound. It is a subtle movement at first, but by sundown, barbaric intentions are revealed.

13 Hours tells a compelling story that is nuanced by the fog of war. Director Michael Bay uses many cinematic techniques that can trigger an emotional reaction. At the start of the battle, there is use of some frantic editing. As the battle rages on, there is some fantastic cinematography that is presented with concise visual clarity.

Best known for his comedic performances, Krasinski reveals more depth as an actor in this film. The actor’s ensemble is understated, capturing the fraternal culture of soldiers in the foxhole. Bay provides subtle moments for these men, showing moments of humor in the face of dread. This film provides an emotional wallop.

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FLICKS: 2015 in review & looking toward 2016

Posted on 07 January 2016 by LeslieM

By Dave Montalbano


2014 was such a disappointing year that last year I could only name seven movies for my annual Top 10 list. A few weeks later, Hollywood released their Academy Award considerations and I would have balanced the list with the following motion pictures: American Sniper, The Imitation Game, The Theory of Everything and Whiplash.

The movies for 2015 provided escapist entertainment. Beyond my own enjoyment, I could consistently hear people laughing, crying and applauding the images on the big screen. With good stories, interesting characters and clear visualization, movies were simply more fun in 2015. The included Top 10 list sidebar is presented in reverse alphabetical order.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens just dethroned Avatar as the biggest grossing motion picture of all time. Given the fragmentation of movies between television and Internet, the record breaking box office figures reveal that people still want to see big screen epic entertainment. Jurassic World allowed ticket buyers to see the actual size of a Tyrannosaurus rex on the Museum of Discovery’s 5-story IMAX screen.

2016 will feature a big screen box office battle between a Star Wars spin off (titled Rogue One) and Star Trek Beyond. Given the success of the Marvel Comics Expanded Universe, arch rival DC Comics plans to expand their universe with Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, which will be followed up with Suicide Squad, featuring the Rogue’s Gallery of Villainy.

Despite a sense of diminishing returns from last year’s Avengers: Age of Ultron, Marvel is predicted to regain the box office championship throne with Captain America: Civil War. While Captain America (Chris Evans) and Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) are expected to fight on the big screen, Civil Wars is a political movie that will examine the fine line between security and liberty on May 6, 2016.

Change is in the air locally. The Palm Beach International Film Festival (PBIFF) is under new management. Given that the base of operations is in Manalapan, it remains to be seen if PBIFF will have relevance for our Observer readers this April. Stay tuned, we always have the Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival in November.

2016 will mark my 17th year writing this column in which we have witnessed the home video evolution from VHS to DVD to direct streaming through businesses like Netflix and Amazon Prime. Yet, for all of these technical innovations, nothing beats seeing a flick on the big screen for popcorn-eating Saturday Matinee fun.

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FLICKS: FLIFF expands & the operatic solace of Alice Cooper

Posted on 29 September 2011 by LeslieM

By Dave Montalbano


At the poster unveiling at the Hilton Hotel last Thursday, Sept. 22, Festival Director Gregory Von Hausch announced the expansion of the 26th Annual Ft. Lauderdale International Film Festival (Oct. 21-Nov. 11). While Cinema Paradiso will act as the main hub, venues are expanding as far west as Sunrise and as far north as Muvico Pompano on Federal Highway. Info: www.fliff.com

Among the films premiering at the Muvico Pompano is the documentary about cowboys, Florida Cracker, and a WWII documentary titled Lost Airmen of Buchenwald. About 50 is a comedy about middle age. Newlyweds is a project from FLIFF25 honoree Ed Burns. The Last Rights of Joe May features Dennis Farina in a performance generating Oscar buzz.

Dennis Farina, Penelope Ann Miller, Piper Laurie, Senator George McGovern, Dennis Haysbert and son of acting legend Glenn Ford, Peter Ford, will be at this year’s festival. Ford has recently compiled his father’s biography, Glenn Ford: A Life and will attend a retrospective at Cinema Paradiso on Nov. 10. Besides selling and autographing his book, Ford will answer questions about his family (his mom is Eleanor Powell) after the screening of original 3:10 to Yuma, starring Glenn Ford in the Russell Crowe role.    FLIFF remains a vacation from ordinary film and a
celebration of our unique Florida culture. On Tuesday, Oct. 25, FLIFF will present The Legend of Ivan Tors, a documentary about the producer of such iconic Florida animal shows as Gentle Ben and Flipper. Sponsored by Carrabba’s Grill, this evening will feature a baked dinner alfresco in the courtyard. A regular sponsor of FLIFF, Carrabba’s also sponsors a monthly opera series at Cinema Paradiso featuring the works of Verdi and Puccini.

Released last week, Alice Cooper’s Welcome 2 My Nightmare should be considered a modern day Rock Opera. A sequel to the similarly-titled album rock classic from 1975,W2MN features Alice’s modern nightmare involving inferno, hip hop music, elevator music and auto tuners. For the most part, the W2MN music is fun, energetic and humorous with songs titled Disco Bloodbath Boogie Fever and Ghouls Gone Wild. However, there are some tear jerking ballads (I Am Made of You, Something To Remember Me By) and two operatic moments worthy of the opera Don Giovanni. With the Miami Dolphins going zero and three this season, W2MN provides a comforting solace.

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Flicks: Into Eternity & The Trip

Posted on 14 July 2011 by LeslieM

By Dave Montalbano


As Transformers departs the Museum of Discovery to make room for the final installment of Harry Potter, two more independent movies will be opening locally, The Trip, a funny flick, and Into Eternity, a serious documentary.

Into Eternity asks a simple question – how do you remove nuclear waste? Of course, the answers are not easy when one has to factor in that the contamination is poison to humans and that waste must NOT be touched for 100,000 years. Thus is the dilemma that is debated in this documentary from Denmark.

Writer/director Michael Madsen’s 75-minute documentary has visual echoes of 2001: A Space Odyssey and The Andromeda Strain. We witness long, static shots of entering storage caves and machines lowering nuclear container into pools of H2O. Presented in subtitles and dubbed English, we listen to the pessimistic “experts” debate the disposal problem.

Dead pan arguments over the philosophical question “How do we explain this problem to future generations?” No answer is truly obtained, but Madsen provides a pointed commentary. As the debate becomes as absurd as the arguments in the war room reminiscent of Dr. Strangelove or: How I Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love the Bomb,  the camera cuts to a reindeer pooping in the forest.

The Trip is a quasi documentary that involves a road trip and fine dining in the
English countryside. Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon (British Television’s equivalent to Bing Crosby & Bob Hope) portray fictional versions of themselves. Coogan is given an assignment to be a food critic. Unable to take his girlfriend, Coogan takes his married friend and arch rival, Brydon.

As Coogan and Brydon enter each pub, there are multiple montages of gourmet food being prepared. While dining, the two men amuse themselves by doing impressions of celebrities like Michael Caine, Sean Connery and Richard Burton. When the two start getting on each other’s nerves, Brydon breaks into another impression.

This film is a repetitive six- day journey that contains very British references and pithy comments, as one character states, “Behind every joke is a cry for help.”

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14 St. Causeway closed July 14-15 to film TV show “The Glades”

Posted on 06 July 2011 by LeslieM

Photo courtesy of A&E TV - a scene from the TV show the Glades

The NE 14th St. Causeway Bridge in Pompano Beach will be closed by the Florida Department of Transportation to all vehicles, pedestrians and bicycles from 7:00 p.m. Friday, July 14th, to 7:00 a.m. Saturday, July 15th for filming of The Glades television show.

Also, the bridge will not open for boats from 9:00 a.m. Friday, until 5:00 a.m. Saturday. 

Please seek alternate routes at the Atlantic Boulevard Bridge to the south or Hillsboro Boulevard Bridge to the north.

Originally, “The Glades” was slated to film July 7th and 8th, but had a last minute change due to the weather.

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