New Movie Roundup Aug 9-15 @ 303 Magazine

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Blue Jasmine

Directed by: Woody Allen

Rating: 3 out of 5

Release date: Aug 9, 2013

Woody Allen’s new movie Blue Jasmine stars Cate Blanchett as Jasmine, a once-wealthy socialite who flees from New York City to San Francisco after her financial-conman husband Hal (Alec Baldwin) loses everything. Jasmine starts having near mental breakdowns while she adjusts from her 1% life to the 99% one, complete with talking to herself. Allen uses these episodes as a clever way to segue to a flashback to show you her life as a wealthy socialite. This is a tough movie to watch because Cate’s performance is top-notch but your “enjoyment” of the film will come from your reaction to her neurotic character. The picture above is a perfect representation of her. The rest of the cast is pretty strong with Andrew Dice Clay turning in a fine performance as Augie, the ex-husband to Jasmine’s sister Ginger (Sally Hawkins). Louis C.K. has a few funny scenes as a lover for Ginger who is trying to break-up with her current boyfriend Chili (Bobby Cannavale) who doesn’t meet Jasmine’s standards. Jasmine struggles to get her life back on track with a new job and some classes about learning to use the computer. All in all an interesting movie, well-acted yet one that was very difficult to watch at times.

Read the rest @ 303 MAGAZINE

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Book Review – Roland Gori’s The Imposter Factory

Roland Gori

Roland Gori

This is some heady stuff:

The purpose of Gori’s book is to reveal a culture that uses all sorts of technical devices in order to produce a ‘fake’ reality. Gori’s pet topics are Kafkaesque evaluations (mainly in health institutions), the establishment of rigid norms that Max Weber had already recognized as a typical feature of capitalism, an economy in which money is virtual, and a reality that is “produced” by machines and computers which have begun to “think” in the place of humans. Gori writes: “In many areas of our existence, the absurd decisions and disasters are due to a too strict application of formal procedures, to the conformist submission to official protocols and to instructions that disrespect any down-to-earth experience” (p. 34). Gori sees humanist culture being eroded by the culture of statistics and invites politicians to read more Shakespeare and fewer manuals from the Chicago School. The culture of “normalization” creates a system of surveillance demanding “never ceasing visibility, permanent classification, hierarchization, evaluation, delimitation and constant diagnosis of the environment until all individuals have interiorized “the norm.” Administrations are busy fabricating files on practically everything. In this “informational capitalism” the human has been transformed into a neuro-economic entity which cannot (and does not need to) think because she spends most of her energy on grasping the displayed information. – See more at: http://berlinbooks.org/brb/2013/07/the-culture-of-the-as-if/#sthash.jdNv9830.dpuf
Read the rest of the article at the BERLIN REVIEW OF BOOKS

New Movie Idea #3 – The Apalachin Meeting

apalachin

On November 14, 1957 this happened:

… State troopers raided an estate in Apalachin, New York, and arrested 59 affluent men, with nearly as many more escaping through the surrounding woods. The next morning’s headlines hailed the gathering as a summit meeting of organized crime, alerting America to the reality of a national Mafia whose existence had been hotly debated. This first in-depth study of that historic meeting chronicles how it changed the course of American history by inspiring federal legislation to crack down on labor racketeering; forcing drastic policy revisions within the U.S. Department of Justice; and prompting charges of criminal fraud in one of America’s most heatedly contested presidential elections. By explaining the context and consequences of the raid, this volume establishes the gathering at Apalachin as a pivotal event in the history of syndicated crime and of the government’s response to the Mafia.

That is the plot synopsis to Michael Newton’s book The Mafia at Apalachin, 1957.

It serves as a good thumbnail sketch for what is generally believed to have went down at the home of Joseph “Joe the Barber” Barbara on that day. Myths, legends and conspiracy theories have proliferated in the intervening years since the meeting. One of the biggest is that it was at this meeting that the Kennedys were targeted as RFK was leading the McClellan Commission (also known as the Valachi Hearings) and JFK was looking towards the White House.

Some theories even think the Kennedys might have attended the meeting.

rfkjfk

The Wikipedia page has loads of interesting tidbits and links to many of these.

Whatever you believe or want to believe, one thing is certain – something went down at Apalachin and the mafia & America was never the same.

There’s a reference to this meeting in Scorsese’s 1990 mobster gem Goodfellas when the narrator says “It was a glorious time, before Apalachin, before Crazy Joe…”

This needs to be turned into a movie, what with America’s enduring fascination with mobsters (Sopranos anyone?) and the Kennedys.

New Movie Idea #2 – When the World Was Lifted

sun magnet field reversal

Setting – a few years into the future on Earth

Backstory- The Sun’s magnetic field reverses causing a new wrinkle – Earth’s gravitational field weakens by 11% across the board. Chaos breaks out everywhere as this completely disrupts the entire planet. All of the world’s major cities like New York, Berlin, Paris, Beijing, Moscow went into utter ruin when the Lift happened. Buildings were uprooted like trees in a hurricane. Anyone living near the coasts were flooded and destroyed. Live near a nuclear reactor? Bad news. The first year alone saw Thomas Malthus’ dream come true – over 70% of the world’s population was killed. Those who survived were most of the people living in fly-over country and remote villages. The ones who were unfortunate losers in the grounded world before 2016 were now the winners. Jesus would say the weak were now the strong but after the Lift, most organized religions disappeared. The world was fundamentally altered in ways that no one would have ever believed. If dinosaurs showed up, people would not have been surprised.

Fast forward 20 years.

Our story takes place in the world that was reconstructed from the ashes of what people have dubbed “The Lift” which happened in 2016. We meet a small group of people living in a village in an unnamed part of the Midwest. These villagers have built up a primitive society, similar to the ones that were created by Native Americans before the arrival of the Europeans. In the intervening 20 years many things have changed in the world, even more things were simply lost. We didn’t know it at the time but stashing all of stuff in the “cloud” made it all vulnerable. Not developing low-tech redundancies for our power supplies were quickly revealed as a massive Achilles heel for mankind.

One thing that the inhabitants of the Lifted World needed to learn was how to keep themselves and their things on the ground. From heavy ankle weights to keep humans and animals on the ground to elaborate methods to keep homes and markets locked down. Let’s not even get into how difficult agriculture has become now that it’s not as easy as dropping a seed in the ground and waiting for it to grow.

Society has essentially moved back to small bands of people living hunter gatherer lives. The few older people who survived the Big Lift still carry on the stories of life before while they struggle to make it in the new world. Slowly over time, inventions spread that helped make life easier. These small villages began to develop new ways to live, free from the world’s previous struggles burdened by massive overpopulation and global warming.

Then one day a young villager – one who was born after the Big Lift – is out hunting in what would’ve been central Iowa. He wanders a long ways away from the village to discover a forest that is still lifted. Picture the scene of thousands of dead trees hovering a few feet into the air and you will have a good idea what he is seeing. This villager discovers a gigantic metal door built into the side of a hill. He has never seen anything like this solid metal door. He runs back to the village to get an elder to tell him what it is. When he returns with a skeptical elder, the door is open. They both star at each other before the slowly approach the door. The enter into the darkness. The elder lights a torch which illuminates the inside to reveal a sleek, modern underground bunker for a military command center. Like what we might think Cheyenne Mountain looks like.

Inside this bunker it’s as if the Big Lift never happened. All of the technology is pre-Lift and appears to be working. The young villager is scared shitless while the elder cannot believe his eyes. How did this place survive? He runs his hand along the smooth walls while he stares at the myriad of computer screens alive with information flowing across them. His eyes fill up with tears as he struggles to grasp what he is seeing. How can this be? The young villager wants to leave but the elder is transfixed. Footsteps can be heard just outside the room they are in. They both panic as the sounds get louder and louder, the footsteps are right outside the room they are in. Both of them duck under a gigantic console as the door opens. They both look out to see who these people are – and what they see confuses them.

Aliens.

aliens

The long, skinny aliens with gray skin and big round black eyes – the stereotypical alien image that was seen many times on Earth pre-Lift. The kind of aliens everyone thought was made up by Hollywood. Here they are now in the flesh. The young villager of course has no idea about the alien’s back-story but the elder does and he can’t believe what he is seeing. They both lay there, paralyzed by fear and a small mixture of curiosity. The aliens approach the console. The two of them are about to be caught when the legs stop moving. One of the aliens speaks:

“Tom, we need you and the boy to come out. We need to talk to you.”

The young villager looks over at the elder. “Tom?” The elder is stunned. He has not heard his pre-Lift name in over 20 years. WTF? he thinks to himself.

“Tom, come out. There’s someone we think you will want to talk to.”

They see a pair of human legs approach the console. The young villager is now closing his eyes, he is scared to death. Tom cannot take his eyes of the human legs.

“Dad, can you come out.”

Dad??

……..

And that’s what I have so far.

Thoughts?

Does it sound interesting? Is this a world people would like to see?

You tell me.

WE’RE THE MILLERS – REVIEW

were_the_millers_rb_tIt’s the most wholesome, fun-filled movie for the whole family!

Who knew it would take a drug dealer, stripper, homeless hood-rat and a geeky virgin to show real American “Family Values”? We’re the Millers tells the heart-warming tale of four strangers, stranded in an RV and sent off to a foreign land to smuggle in several tons of marijuana – to Denver. Huh? The Pot Capital of Rocky Mountains needs weed? Well, it will eventually turn out that the big smuggling operation had an ulterior motive but I don’t want to  destroy your willing suspension of disbelief as the movie builds to its dramatic denouement (fancy French word for “ending.” Pretentious much? Yes.)

Read the rest of the review @ DONNYBROOK WRITING ACADEMY

 

NEW MOVIE ROUNDUP AUG 2 – 8

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2 Guns

Directed by: Baltasar Kormákur

Rating: 2 1/2 out of 5

Release date: Aug 2, 2013

 2 Guns is the new buddy movie starring Mark Wahlberg and Denzel Washington as two undercover agents who have infiltrated a Mexican drug ring – yet neither of them knows the other is a snitch. Bobby Trench (Washington) is a DEA agent working to bring down Papi Greico (Edward James Olmos – who really Stands and Delivers a great perf here) by pretending to be a smooth operator with gold teeth. ‘Stig’ Stigman (Wahlberg) is an NCIS agent who is also trying to get to Papi. After being double-crossed by Papi, Stig and Bobby work together to rob a bank in NM that has $3 million of Papi’s money. It turns out the bank has $43 million dollars – and it’s the CIA’s dirty money. This brings in the mysterious Earl (Bill Paxton in full on Chet mode from Weird Science) who works for the CIA and he’s a killer. Stig’s also being tracked by Quicne (James Marsden) who is a dirty Navy agent who takes the $43 million from them & tries to kill them. Now Bobby & Stig have to figure a way outta this mess while Bobby has to juggle his maybe-GF Deb (Paula Patton), a cop who might be double-crossing him too. Needless to say the convoluted plot goes all to hell by the end. There’s plenty of action, things blowing up, people getting killed, the usual genre fare for this type of crime movie. 2 Guns is partially saved by genuinely  funny dialogue, especially Wahlberg who gets most of the movie’s laughs. Once the movie is over though, it’s entirely forgettable. The script was originally made for Vince Vaughn & Owen Wilson, which they skipped to do The Internship instead. That’s a push.

Read the rest @ 303 MAGAZINE

New Movie Roundup July 26 – Aug 1

to_do_list

The To Do List

Directed by: Maggie Carey

Rating: 3 1/2 out of 5

Release date: July 26, 2013

The To Do List is a sweet, raunchy movie about a horny young woman trying to learning everything there is to know about sex while navigating her life circa 1993. This period-piece comedy gives today’s youth a nice peek into a world without iPhones and the internet. Oh noes! Brandy Klark (Aubrey Plaza) is the class valedictorian yet she is clueless about sex. Her BFFs Amber (Alia Shawkat) and Wendy (Sarah Steele) encourage her to study up all summer because college guys don’t like virgins. Brandy quizzes her experienced older sister (Rachel Bilson) who fills her in with graphic detail. Brandy begins her summer sex journey at the pool with her study buddy Cameron (Johnny Simmons ) with her eyes on screwing the college-age lifeguard hunk Rusty Waters (Scott Porter). She suffers all sorts of indignities and humiliations on her journey towards nailing Rusty. There are plenty of laughs and outrageous moments that will stick in your brain for way to long. The film also features Bill Hader, Andy Samberg and Christopher Mintz-Plasse.

Read the rest of the column @ 303 MAGAZINE