Sunday, December 21, 2014
I have lost my diaries from the mid 1970s so most of this is from memory and a few things may be wrong but one thing I am certain of is that it was the most perfect ten days of my life.
It started off as a disaster because I knew that since the personal relationship with Bernie was over the business relationship was going to sink also and I didn’t know what I was going to do. I needed to get away and I wanted to run back to where I had escaped from just 5 years before. As Bernie would remind me I left Manhattan with very little and was now a big fish in a small pond.
I had money now so I booked a first class ticket to New York city and booked a room at the Plaza, across from Central Park and facing 5th avenue, both of which were hard to get two days before Christmas Eve. I checked into the hotel, unpacked and decided before I called anyone or did anything I would go down to the Oak bar and restaurant and have a drink. I know what follows sounds like a Hollywood movie script but it did happen. We met ‘cute’.
Sitting at the bar drinking my Haig and Haig Pinch on the rocks a guy sat on the stool next to me and ordered a Haig and Haig Pinch on the rocks. I wouldn’t have stopped myself even if I could but I told the bartender to put it on my tab and the guy and I started to talk. This may sound crazy but I can remember some very intimate details but I have no recollection of his name! Not for any particular reason let’s call him Herb.
Herb and I talked for awhile his telling me he was here for 2 weeks from the mid-west and it was his first trip to New York. I told I had been born and raised here but was now living in Memphis and had lived in Miami Beach during the late 1950s, early 1960s, returned to New York in the 60s and left in 1969. I believe he worked in the automobile industry if I remember correctly. I offered to show him around the city and he thought that would be great.
We decided to have dinner in the Oak Room and afterwards I suggested we take a walk to, what I remember was called the Hampshire Bar on 57th Street down the block from the Plaza. It was known for the recreation of a NorthEastern Storm with all the lighting and noise effects with lightning, snow, rain, thunder, etc., every hour on the hour, on the wall behind the bar. Herb was delighted.
We walked back to the hotel and made plans to get together for a late breakfast and then I would take him sightseeing. Without going into details--that’s another post!--we spent the night together and the next day he checked out of his room and stayed in mine.
(To be continued)
Friday, December 19, 2014
“Foxcatcher” will probably go down in my book of 2014 as the most disappointing movie of the year. There has been so much positive talk of the film, particularly of Steve Carell’s playing of John du Pont that seems will change the direction of his career, that I found that to be the jaw dropping aspect of the whole movie. He is not playing funny but he is playing monotone, no smile, seriousness. Maybe du Pont had that kind of personality but it doesn’t help the movie.
The editing is some of the worse I have ever seen. I don’t know if it was the director’s, Bennett Miller, choice but there are 5 too many blurry scenes and more than that of unnecessary long shots that made the picture drag at over 2 hours.
The writers, E. Max Frye and Dan Futterman, leave so much out about du Pont that his final act doesn’t make any sense. Based on a true story, though they show du Pont inhaling cocaine and having drinks, they never show that he was mentally ill. Yes they do show an unfeeling mother but they never reference the sisters and brother he had inferring that he was an only child.
Channing Tatum, as Mark Schultz, is an Olympic gold winner, more or less the jock presented as a ‘dumb ox’, more than once called an ‘ape’. He really does an excellent job and has a couple of self brutalizing scenes. Mark Ruffalo, as his older brother Dave is also a gold middle winner and the only one in the film who has a happy home life with a wife and 2 children who come first in his life. By the way their medals are in wrestling and you can get bored watching two somewhat hunky guys grappling with each other in two scenes too many, none of the scenes equaling the wrestling scene in “Women In Love” movie!
In an emotional story like this with the lead being emotionless, and only seeing someone being self destructive getting a response from the audience, made this a very disappointing film to me.
Tuesday, December 16, 2014
Hannukkah, Hanukkah, Chanukah or Chanukkah are all acceptable spellings of the holiday celebrated by Jewish people sometime between late November and mid December, all according to the Jewish calendar and when the 25th eve of the Jewish month Kislev comes about this year starting at sundown Tuesday, December 16th and ending sundown Wednesday December 24th .
It is basically to celebrate the Jews regaining the Temple which was stolen by the Syrian-Greeks in 165 BC, who dedicated it to the worship of their God Zeus, when the army overtook the Jews making it an offense to be Jewish punishable by death. When the Jews took it back in order to purify the Temple they wanted to burn uncontaminated olive oil but only had enough for one night but still they lit it and it lasted for 8 days.
Hanukkah is a happy time known as The Festival of Lights and in modern times, since it usually is so close to Christmas, Jewish children receive gifts of Hanukkah, one every night for 8 nights. They also play a game with the Dreidel which is a top with 4 sides with Hebrew letters on each side. The game is usually played for Gelt which are chocolate coins covered with foil.
Eating fried foods are part of the rituals with potato Latkes, pancakes made with potatoes and onions and served with apple sauce, and Sufganiyot, a fried jelly donut.
A serious part of the holiday is a lighting of the Menorah--a candelabra having nine holders for candles with the middle higher than the 4 on each side. Every night one of the 8 are lit with the middle having been lit at the beginning of the holiday.
Lighting candles, playing games, eating chocolates, potato pancakes and fried donuts--what is not to like about Hanukkah which means ‘dedication’?
Friday, December 12, 2014
IF you HAVE to see EXODUS: GODS AND KINGS see it in 3D or don’t bother seeing it. The only reason for seeing this film is for the special effects. I sat there wishing Anne Baxter or Yul Brynner would come on screen and start chewing the scenery! I never thought I would think of Charleton Heston as a great actor but I did watching this. If you don’t know what I am talking about please see THE TEN COMMANDMENTS, a 1956 American religious epic film produced and directed by Cecil B. DeMille, that was cheesy and camp!
Aside from taking many liberties with the Bible this film is seriously miscast with the two male leads. Christian Bale seems to have only two expressions, neither appropriate to the role of Moses as a leader. We know that ’a child should lead them’ but God as a child? Oh to hear Cecil B. DeMille’s booming voice! Joel Edgerton, as Ramses, has Brynner’s build but wears a lot more mascara.
Sigourney Weaver is completely wasted as Ramses’s mother but then most of the women in the film are a second thought. Ben Kingsley and John Turtuuro are given little to work with but do what they can with the underwritten roles.
It took 4 writers: Adam Cooper, Bill Collage, Jeffrey Caine and Steven Zaillian to write a script that lets all the actors down and Ridley Scott, the director, and one of the producers, certainly loves the blood and gore.
Getting back to the special effects while DeMille had a lot less money and nowhere near the techniques available today most of his effects were cheesy and funny but Scott does everything he can, using every technical aspect available to show the plagues and, yes, his parting of the sea is spectacular.
Just for the record, and this may be a mark against me, as I watched Moses etch the tablets--yes he does--while tea is supplied by God, I couldn’t get Mel Brooks, as Moses, in his film HISTORY OF THE WORLD PART 1 dropping the third tablet. If you haven’t seen this film and/or the Cecil B. DeMille’s film do yourself a favor and watch them instead of seeing EXODUS: GODS AND KINGS!
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