The Equalizer (2014)

I go back to the day, in the middle late 80’s when The Equalizer was a TV series. The show starred Edward Woodward, a British actor, as Robert McCall who was (I’m quoting from IMDB) – A retired intelligence agent turned private detective helps various threatened clients to equalize the odds.

Now, in 2014, we have a new film called The Equalizer. With Denzel Washington playing the same role, Robert McCall. Sony Pictures describes the film as: McCall comes out of his self-imposed retirement and finds his desire for justice reawakened. If someone has a problem, if the odds are stacked against them, if they have nowhere else to turn, McCall will help. He is The Equalizer.

Basically, a TV Series that was successful and ran from 1985 to 1989, encompassing 4 seasons of 22 episodes each, has been whittled down to a single film of 132 minutes. Directed by Antoine Fuqua who has 20 Director credits going back to 2001’s Training Day, for which Denzel won an Oscar as Best Actor, and 1998’s The Replacement Killers, which starred Chow Yun-Fat, this film is long on action – but short on both character development and character details.

The screenwriter Richard Wenk, also wrote The Expendables 2 and The Mechanic, also has Director and Producer credits – so we can call him a seasoned veteran.

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Walt Disney Pictures Present Khoobsurat (2014)

Take one rich dude, an actual Prince. Add in a beautiful, headstrong, willful, outspoken and outrageous girl who happens to be a Doctor, a physiotherapist to be exact. Garnish with two proud mothers. One who demands absolute obediance and loyalty from her children as well as her paralyzed husband. The other who is proud as can be of her Doctor daughter to the extent that she has but one worry – that this daughter has yet to find a husband. Set them up in a palace. Have an outfit like Walt Disney Pictures produce this rom-com, and you should have a hit on your hands.

Well the Disney Company did sign on as a co-producer for the film , and the movie’s tag line goes something like this: The Royal Family Meets the Royal Misfit.

Yes, the question is do opposites attract and can they overcome their distinct lack of a common ground between them. The film is called Khoobsurat and it opened world wide on September 19th, 2014. The films stars Sonam Kapoor, whose Dad, Anil Kapoor partnered with Disney to make the film. Her co-star is Fawad Khan.

Here is a bit more of the set up – we meet Doctor Milli at a top level sporting event – a cricket match. She’s working on the legs of a top flight cricketeer. But he seems to be in great pain. Milli gets an idea and what do you know – it works. She simply changed from a repetitive bending of the legs to a solid tug – and in seconds the pain has vanished.

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Looking Back Twenty Years – The American President (1995)

This is 2015 and it is time for an addition to my blog. – I am inaugurating a new feature. I’m calling it Looking Back Twenty Years. What I will do with this feature is that I will review a film from 20 years ago, on a monthly basis. So, for the rest of this year, you can look forward to a once-a-month review, of a 1995 film. I won’t be paying the strictest attention to the exact release dates – for now we will call it films from 1995, and leave it at that.

I thought of this film a few days ago, when Barack Obama gave his State of the Union Address to the nation. Then today, I was out to the post office and for some food shopping when I tuned in the On Point news show on NPR. The topic was about how Anti-Austerity Gains Steam in Europe and the just sworn in new Prime Minister of Greece, Alexis Tsipras. Mr. Tsipras garnered only about 36% of the vote, which said another way – the election resulted in a man winning the office despite that 64% of the country did not vote for him. As Frank Underwood told us last year on House of Cards – democracy is over-rated.

But I am neither a global economist nor a political commentator. I mentioned those recent events merely to show how I arrived at the decision to watch the 1995 film, The American President which starred Michael Douglas and Annette Bening as the leads, with Michael J. Fox, David Paymer, Richard Dreyfuss, Anna Deavere Smith, Samantha Mathis, and Martin Sheen as the main support characters.

Let’s set it up for you – Michael Douglas plays an incumbent President of the United States called Andrew Shepherd. He’s a single parent as his beloved wife had died before his Presidential election. It is late in his second year, and his 3rd State of the Union Address is a little more than two months away.

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The Fall: Season Two Has Just Launched on Netflix

Gillian Anderson is back – and Netflix has her.

While her former X-Files partner David Duchovny has been Californicating through So-Cal for 7 seasons, Gillian Anderson has kept her self busy. In 2013, besides her stateside stint as Dr. Bedelia Du Maurier on the NBC Series Hannibal, Gillian flew over to Belfast, County Antrim, in Northern Ireland, to do a series called The Fall.

She plays a senior police detective for The Met, a territorial police service based in London’s famed Scotland Yard, on loan to Belfast, to help them with a loathsome serial killer. Season One was released all at once (5 episodes) and Netflix carried it. I wrote a post about the series on June 11th, 2013. You can read the post here .

Season 2 was produced and aired in the UK beginning in Mid November of 2014. Well, Netflix has released all six episodes of Season Two just a few days ago – at 12:01 AM on January 16th. I’ve watched all six of the episodes. My report follows.

My lead was ‘Gillian Anderson is back’. In this series – she’s a cool, and very calm Superintendent of Detectives. We already know who the serial killer is – a fact made known to us (but not the police) very early on in Season One. So you can remove the whodunit aspect from your expectations. Instead, consider that this is a psychological thriller. We learn as much about Anderson’s copper as we do about Jamie Dornan’s killer.

You may have noticed that Dornan is starring in 50 Shades of Grey which opens on Valentine’s Day. In that film he portrays a tormented billionaire with, let’s say – compulsions. In The Fall, he plays a tormented working stiff – he’s a grief counselor by day, and a volunteer at a suicide hotline on Friday nights. In this series his compulsion is that he’s a fetishistic serial killer. He’s also a husband and a father.

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TransIndia – Documentary on Transgenders by Meera Darji

Did you watch the Amazon Series Transparent?

Have you considered watching it now that it walked away with two Golden Globe Awards courtesy of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association? One to creator Jill Soloway for Best TV Comedy. and Jeffrey Tambor won for Best Actor in a Comedy or Musical.

I watched when it was still new and unknown. I liked the series and gave the show a very positive review which you can read here.

https://jmmnewaov2.wordpress.com/2014/10/21/20540/

If you wish to hear what the show’s creator, Jill Soloway. thinks and how the show came to be, you can listen to her interview here.

http://www.npr.org/programs/fresh-air/2014/10/30/360132135/fresh-air-for-october-30-2014

All of the above is basically a preamble. I happen to have an acquaintance who lives in Leicester in the UK. She’s in university in an honors program for film studies. Her name is Meera Darji, and film is her career.

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American Sniper

Whether Clint Eastwood has been in front of the camera as an actor, or behind the cameras yelling action or cut as a director, or in some cases, when he’s been both, we can easily claim, that in most cases, in an Eastwood film, there’s been a man with a gun in his hand. Clint’s latest, American Sniper, not only fits into that mold, but also has a self-explanatory title.

I’ve seen some films in the genre like Sniper with Tom Berenger and Billy Zane, Day of the Jackal with Edward Fox, Shooter with Mark Wahlberg, and Jarhead with Jake Gyllenhaal. I think that American Sniper is better than any one of those. But to be honest, I liked Jude Law in Enemy at the Gates, more than American Sniper.

Clint has done excellent work here, as has Bradley Cooper as Chris Kyle, and Sienna Miller as his wife Taya Renae Kyle. This film is basically a character study rather than a strict action movie.

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The Good Wife – The Debate: Easily the Worst Episode of the Season, If Not the Series

Well I’ve binge watched the entire 5 1/2 seasons of The Good Wife. You can read my impressions of Seasons 1-3 here.

Since then, I’ve learned that Will Gardner had died in Episode 5 x 15. That Diane Lockhart is now working with Alicia and Cary at the firm they founded after breaking away from Lockhart & Gardner. That Alicia is still on the books as Lemond Bishop’s attorney.

What’s more, Alicia is now hardly practicing law these days as she’s been pounding nails, like a professional carpenter, in an effort to win the State Attorney job by winning the election. Her opponent is Frank Prady who is played by David Hyde-Pierce from Frasier.

Two episodes back, Cary Argos was fighting for his freedom, his livelihood, and his career. He was facing a 15 year stint, on a drug charge. They said he was heavily involved in helping Lemond’s crew avoid the traps that law enforcement would set up to fight the war against drug. After Cary had accepted a plea bargain which would have incarcerated him for 4 years, Kalinda did what she always does, which is to find a solution.

The good old days - Part One

The good old days – Part One

Well, she did find a solution in 6 x 10, and as if by the stroke of magician’s wand – the charges against Cary were dropped. Of course we know that with some help, Kalinda and her associate hacked into a police officer’s email, then into the metadata for the email, and rewrote the data. Yes, Cary got to avoid prison, but a decent police detective was publicly made into a liar.

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Mozart in the Jungle: Episode Two – Fifth Chair

Hailey Rutledge (Lola Kirke) and Cynthia (Saffron Burrows), who is the orchestra’s celloist, as well as the the woman sleeping with the Symphony’s former conductor Thomas (Malcolm McDowell) have just entered the women’s dressing room at the New York Symphony Orchestra which is housed at The Public Theater on Lafayette Street. Today is the first day of rehearsal for the upcoming season.

Despite partying the night before her audition, and then arriving too late for said audition, Hailey impresssed the boy wonder, the Symphony’s spanking new conductor, Rodrigo (Gael Garcia Bernal), who interrupted his make out session with his assistant Sharon (Jennifer Kim),

to overhear Hailey’s impromptu, ad hoc, non-audition, audition.

Rodrigo takes Hailey in to the offices of The Symphony’s head-honcho Gloria (Bernadette Peters) who is not thrilled at all to add another musician to the payroll which is already maxed. Since no current oboist has died, and musicians with 2 years on the job with the orchestra cannot be fired, unless the union’s approval is granted, Gloria declines.

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Selma

The time was 1965. It was an ugly time in America. As the government spent billions fighting an unpopular war in Vietnam, black and poor people living in the South of the United States faced hurdles, obstacles, poll taxes, intimidation, and that was just to register to vote. This was a fact of life despite that the right to vote was something guaranteed in the Constitution of the United States in the 15th Amendment.

The film opens with a scene on October 14th, 1964. Martin Luther King Jr, played by David Oyelowo and his wife Coretta Scott King, played by Carmen Ejogo, are preparing for a formal awards presentation in Oslo, Norway. King was about to receive the Nobel Peace Prize.

The second scene shows a group of four or five young black school girls descending a stairway. They are dressed in their Sunday church going clothes and are happily chatting. There’s a sudden explosion. This was the 16th Street Baptist Church, in Birmingham, Mississippi. This explosion would reverberate across the entire country then and those reverberations are still felt today..

In the film’s third scene, Annie Lee Cooper, played by Oprah Winfrey, walked into a building, a county seat, to attempt to Register to Vote. She was quiet and peaceful. But the registration clerk made it difficult for her. He said she was making a fuss, and she said she was just trying to register. She said I believe the form is right now. Clerk: It’s right when I say it is right.

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