Monday, July 2, 2018

Michael Cohen will be a Squealer

"President Donald Trump's longtime personal lawyer, who once said he would do anything to protect the president, told ABC News in an interview released Monday that he now puts "family and country first." In Michael Cohen's first interview since federal agents raided his home and hotel room as part of a probe into his personal business dealings, he was asked what he would do if prosecutors forced him to choose between protecting the president and protecting his family.

"My wife, my daughter and my son have my first loyalty and always will," Cohen was quoted as saying by ABC's George Stephanopoulos in an off-camera interview that was reported on "Good Morning America." ''I put family and country first." (source)

Saturday, June 23, 2018

The First Amendment and Modern Publishing

Are you going to get sued for saying that?

In this presentation, filmmaker and media activist Danny Ledonne outlines the history, meaning, and application of the First Amendment. Covering notable cases and current controversies, viewers will gain a better understanding of their legal liabilities and defenses when publishing media or exercising their freedom of speech.

This lecture was originally presented to the Conejos Writers Circle in La Jara, Colorado in June 2018.

Thursday, May 3, 2018

To Infinity War And Beyond

After giving this some thought and reading/watching a number of reviews, it is clear to me that "Infinity War" is a decisive win for Marvel and audiences alike.  This may be a unique franchise in film history - the likes of which we haven't seen before or perhaps since.

This film did well many of the things that "The Last Jedi" tried but failed to do.  "Infinity War" made many bold, risky, dramatically high stakes choices.  It leverages the long history of character development with its cast, doesn't bother to re-hash or summarize previous work and instead invests heavily in the development of the antagonist.  This worked incredibly well and gave us an experience that finally addressed the "superhero villain problem" of a truly formidable, competent and coherent antagonist.

There was a moment when "The Last Jedi" really could have gone differently and committed to similarly bold choices.  But it didn't.  It quickly reverted back to the tired formula of the previous seven films.  And that insulted the intelligence of an audience it had been preparing for more... and then delivered less.

But "Infinity War" did that.  Thanos enters the film by assuring us that the Avengers will fail.  It shows us mighty struggles within and between its impressive, fully-developed cast.  It delivers on its promise while keeping audiences guessing as to how it will play out.  And in doing so, this film shows us just how inferior a work like "Justice League" really is.  "Infinity War" cashes in on the cumulative narrative interest into which we have been investing since Iron Man a decade ago.

Personally, I would have loved another 10 minutes in this already epic film to add story lines for Ant Man and Hawkeye just for the sake of completion.  Aside from that, the film was a near-perfect juggling act of character, plot, setting, and theme.  It's hard to imagine a better version of this film - the likes of which we really haven't seen before.  And it perfectly sets up what will no doubt be a fully-realized conclusion with its sequel (currently slated for May 3, 2019).  For most of us, that date cannot come soon enough and one longs for the Eye of Agamotto to speed up that release date!

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Ronny Jackson is Candyman

"Turns out the "Candyman" can't.  Not with allegations of drinking on the job. Of wrecking a government vehicle while intoxicated. Of screaming at underlings. And of recklessly dishing out opioids.  White House presidential physician Dr. Ronny Jackson has lost his pursuit of a Senate confirmation to become the next secretary of veterans affairs. Making matters worse, he could also lose his job overseeing the health care of U.S. President Donald Trump."  (source)

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Getting Into A Quiet Place

"A Quiet Place" is a lean, efficient, and effective thriller! The film lacks sufficient world-building to fully establish its premise, but wastes no time delivering on the promises of its genre.

With virtually no spoken dialogue and minimal exposition, the film gives us a master class in sound design and visual storytelling. It illustrates what films frequently do best: evoking emotion through images and audio cues - right down to the different perceptions of the same sound effects as experienced by various characters (human and monstrous).

This will likely be remembered as the surprise hit of the spring - buried somewhere between the overwhelming success of "Black Panther" and the almost inevitable sweep of "Avengers: Infinity War." If you want to feel your own breath being taken away in measured gasps, this is the movie for you.

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Saturday, April 14, 2018

Bueller.... Bueller?

So I finally saw Ferris Bueller's Day Off for the first time.  People may be stunned to read this, but I was only 4 when it came out and all the subsequent cultural references led me to believe I had sat down to watch it long before... when I actually hadn't.

The film is essentially a crime caper comedy starring high schoolers - one in which they commit "the perfect crime" of playing hooky only to indulge in the bourgeoisie excesses of upscale dining, a baseball game, and a parade.  How unceasingly American!  By today's standards, it is all so charming and admirably innocent.

It leaves a few plot holes unresolved and sometimes has a lack of dramatic stakes for the characters, but does ultimately deliver several satisfying character arcs.  Ironically, Ferris himself coasts through his escapades with almost no conflict - while those around him must change and adapt to their setting.  It's Ferris' movie and the supporting cast is just living in it.

It's also remarkable to consider that the film was made for $5.8 million and grossed more than $70 million at the box office, let alone the ongoing ancillary markets for broadcast and home video sales.

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