Hands of Stone

While I’m not a huge fan of boxing, I have seen and liked more than a few boxing movies. Starting with Paul Newman as Rocky Graziano in Somebody Up There Likes Me, to Sylvester Stallone as Rocky, to Will Smith as Ali, and to Robert De Niro‘s great performance as Jake LaMotta in Raging Bull – I’ve been there.

The newest film (or bio) about a boxer is called Hands of Stone. The film stars Edgar Ramirez as Roberto Duran and co-stars Robert De Niro as the legendary boxing trainer Ray Arcel. Usher Raymond plays Sugar Ray Leonard. Ruben Blades plays Duran’s manager Carlos Eleta.

Ellen Barkin plays Stephanie Arcel, Jon Turturro plays the mobster Frankie Carbo. And to round out the major players, Ana de Armas plays Duran’s wife Felicidad Iglesias Duran.

Also present are Howard Cosell, Don King played by Reg E. Cathey, and Ray Charles. Not in person but via actors representing them. Other figures from the world of boxing represented included Angelo Dundee, Gil Clancey, Ken Buchanan, Davey Moore, John Condon, and Bob Arum.

That’s quite a lengthy list of roles for this film. And therein lies the problem with Hands Of Stone. I think that by choosing the all-encompassing story of Duran who grew up in the rough and tumble slums of El Chorillo, a neighborhood of Panama City, we have too much to digest, there’s too many characters, and the story suffers for this approach. Not from bloat, mind you, the film runs only 111 minutes, but from its lack of focus.

Simply and additionally, Duran doesn’t come off as heroic, or for that matter even charismatic. When you talk about Ali, you always start with charismatic. And Rocky was the underdog hero, as was Graziano. De Niro who wowed us as the brooding and dramatic Jake LaMotta – was a guy that you could care about, as well as root for.

But we don’t get there with the fierce Edgar Ramirez as Duran. He got to a point where he was able to enjoy the fruits of boxing career. In effect, after defeating Sugar Ray Leonard by a unanimous decision in Montreal on June 20th, 1980 – he was on the top of the boxing world. Going into the fight, Duran’s record was 48-1 with 41 knockouts. The fight would be sold, hyped, and remembered as The Brawl in Montreal.

The film then moves to a quickly arranged, by Carlos Eleta, rematch with Leonard. It would be an 8 million dollar purse for Duran. But Roberto had partied and played too much. To fight Leonard again, Duran would have to lose about 35 pounds in just 3 months.

Arcel said it couldn’t be done, plus if the weight did come off, Duran would be seriously weakened. Arcel urged Eleta to cancel the fight. But Eleta had not only put Duran into a sweat box to make the weight, he had put himself in a different kind of box. Don King would sue for breach of contract if the fight didn’t go off.

So the fight went on, and if you were around at that time you know the outcome. Duran hadn’t the endurance to chase Leonard around the ring, nor had he the punching power to take Leonard off his feet and out. So in mid-fight – Duran quit.

No Mas was what was reported at the time, meaning No more, but the film takes great pains to report that Duran never uttered those words in the ring. Basically that’s the film.

I found other things that I didn’t care for as well, that’s being besides the overfilled story, and the lack of charisma by the actor playing Duran. While Ramirez was fine, Duran was an uneducated street kid from El Chorillo. He couldn’t read, and he was crude in many ways. He really couldn’t be labeled either heroic or charismatic. So to expect more from the actor was more wishful thinking than anything else.

The boxing action in the film was badly edited. We’d see arms in motion and then hear the thuds of the punches, but the camera was always panning out of the ring to pick up Arcel’s reactions and instructions. Or we left the venue to watch people watching the fight on TV screens. Or we would get a glimpse of the boxer’s wives reacting. In short the fight sequences lacked impact.

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HBO’s The Night Of – Episode 8: The Call of the Wild

HBO’s Limited Series The Night Of has passed before my eyes and I’m sure of good number of your eyes. I hated to see it end, and as we have heard for thousand of years, no matter what happens to each and every one of us – the wheels will keep turning.

SPOILER ALERT – If you’ve not watched the finale yet, come back after you’ve seen it. And for those of you who have seen this very fine show – all 8 episodes – let’s get into it.

Here are the predictions, as in possible outcomes, I made in my previous post about the show:

Naz did it, and was found guilty on all counts by the jury.
Naz didn’t do it, and was still found guilty.
Naz did it but was found innocent.
The jury cannot decide – a hung jury occurs.
Naz is killed in prison before the verdict.
Naz is found innocent and released but is killed by an anti-Muslim nut job in the streets of Queens.

Obviously, within that list, is the outcome that we did get, and to be honest, I believe that it is the least likeable resolution.

We are left with the murderer still walking the streets of New York. Zaillian and Price have not pushed us in a specific direction. Rather they have pushed us in many directions meaning that it is necessary to have to STILL consider that Andrea’s murderer may have been:

Don Taylor – the stepfather
Duane Reade – the convict with a lengthy sheet of agg assaults, in which he used a knife found in the victim’s home
Mr. Day – The Limo driver who may have followed Naz and Andrea from the Upper West Side gas station.

And we still aren’t sure if Naz did it or not.

Then there’s the new suspect – the financial advisor, Now there’s no indication that he can actually be tied to the murder itself. He may have been a thief and a cheat, but at this time, we have nothing other than his phone records and the financial records that connect him to Andrea. He is the listed financial advisor on the statements. And the phone logs showed that there were multiple calls between his number and Andrea;s  many times. Plus the phone tracking shows that he was NOT where he said he was. He said he was home at the time of the murder – but the cell phone tower logs show something else. And the CCTV of his neighbor hood showed that his car arrived on the block of his residence well past the time of the murder.

But are those facts any more conclusive than  those that Mrs. Weiss brought to Naz’s trial in the first place?

We are left with some unavoidable conclusions:

That kiss between Chandra Kapoor and Naz would come back to haunt her. Is her career in law over? Will she be disbarred or merely reprimanded? At minimum she’s lost her job.

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Florence Foster Jenkins

Today I received an indirect request to review the new Stephen Frears directed film, Florence Foster Jenkins, a bio-film (sort of) starring Meryl Streep, Hugh Grant, and Simon Helberg (of The Big Bang Theory fame).

The request came in a post called Writer’s Block Ruminations. Marty is the author of the post and his blog is called Snakes in the Grass. He’s not talking about folks you can’t trust, rather his blog title is an all too true reference to the fact that in Florida you literally have to watch where you walk, because, for certain, you are going to run into actual snakes, who as we all know appreciate the hot weather in Florida and they don’t mind slithering along, or crossing the sidewalks that we humans use on their way somewhere.

Anyway – ask ye shall receive. I fired up my car and hit the highway which would be I-95 (Exit 109 – Port Wentworth, GA). I was headed to Hilton Head Island where I would see Streep and friends in an 11:30 AM screening at the Park Plaza Cinema, a small movie house but one that is equipped with the latest in equipment to play the new digital age movies and with deluxe leather reclining chairs.  It was an uneventful 50 minute drive, and there was no line for tickets.

I had seen the trailer for Florence Foster Jenkins and so I knew the bare bones of the story. A well-off society woman  was a New York heiress who dreamed of becoming an opera singer, despite having a terrible singing voice. And that blurb was even kinder than the one we got on the actual movie poster – The Inspiring Story of the World’s Worst Singer.

I’m not sure why, but my expectations were that FFJ would fall somewhere between  the classic anarchism of The Marx Brothers (A Night at the Opera) and  the social relevance of one or more of Preston Sturges‘s snappy and smart films like Meet John Doe or Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.

But Frears and his screenwriter Nicholas Martin took the high ground and the safe ground. The laughs did not come often because Grant and Streep played their characters realistically rather than in a stylized manner. The laughter would come from just two sources.

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Helberg played Cosmé McMoon, an up and coming pianist who, for the stately sum of $150 dollars a week – almost a princely sum in 1944 – was hired on as Jenkins’ piano accompanist.

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When he first sat down and worked the black and white piano keys, as Florence sang – a look of horror crossed his face which was then overtaken by a look of disbelief. Thinking he had signed on with a professional and accomplished singer, the thought that occurred to him right then was this – am I sabotaging my future as a musician by working with FFJ?  This would persist throughout the film.

The other was FFJ’s voice coach – one Carlo Edwards played by a terrific David Haig. He would be so effusive and positive when commenting on Florence’s vocalizations. That was the best yet, or you’ve never been better were decidedly non-complimentary compliments. But he was lying through his teeth. Which everyone in the room could see, and ditto for those of us seated in theater. Only Florence took his words as being sincere.

As a vocal coach for the Metropolitan Opera, Edwards definitely knew his business. But as he too had been hired by Jenkins’s husband, St. Clair Bayfield played by Hugh Grant, all Edwards could do was to follow Bayfield’s lead.  Bayfield never ever was anything but loving and supportive of his wife’s dreams and desires.

As she said, Music was and is my life. And after her gala one-night-only performance at Carnegie Hall, FFJ would say – People may say I couldn’t sing, but no one can ever say I didn’t sing.

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30 Degrees in February – New Netflix Series

30° in February is the title of a 2 seasons (20 episodes) series on Netflix. The series begins in the month of February with the temps creating weather that at best could be called cold and blustery, and with snow every where in sight. We could be anywhere in the northeast of the USA or any of the plains, or central, or mountain states. In those locales, 30 degrees, and lower, in February is the norm.

But we are not in those locations. Rather, we are in Sweden, and in Sweden, the temperatures are measured in Celsius degrees, rather than the Fahrenheit scale used in this country.

So in Sweden, 30 degrees in February is a dream, a fantasy, and not a normal occurrence. Using 30 degrees Celsius as the measuring stick, that temperature in Fahrenheit is 86.

And so, more than 600,000 Swedes vacation in Thailand every year. Now I’ve been to Sweden, not in February, but in middle late March. I missed most of the snow, but I saw some on the ground. I’ve also been to Phuket, Thailand, a number of times. So I was rather eager to watch this series.

In case you are thinking that this series might be something like the films The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (1 & 2), where a group of British retirees all go the same hotel – only with Phuket subbing for Jaipur in Rajasthan, India, along with Swedes replacing the Brits – then you’d be just partially correct, and that would be in the broad strokes rather than the details.

Here, our Swedes are both separate and unrelated. They did not meet at Stockholm’s Arlanda Airport, nor did they travel as a group. They did not arrive together, or meet on a tour, or even stay in the same location once they reached Phuket.

They’d traveled to Thailand to find themselves and to find happiness. They leave everything behind and their search for a new life, and a new page in their book of dreams begins. And in this particular series, the location maybe the idyllic Phuket, but finding happiness anywhere does not happen by accident. If it happens at all. There are no guarantees.

I am through all ten episodes of the first season, and I think I’ve seen enough to be able to offer you a fine introduction to the series. Let’s meet the characters. First up is Glenn. He’s a geothermal heating installer, and he’s single. And lonely.

It is no surprise to find him at a speed-dating get-together, nor should we be surprised to know that he’s carrying on an internet chat with a woman from Thailand. We know that Glenn has posted an image of another man, a much better looking man than himself. But the woman in Thailand does not know this.

Glenn is played by Kjell Wilhelmsen. He’s far more towards slovenly than neat. He’s portly, and with nearly every encounter he has with a woman, he speaks too much. His loneliness and needy personality ooze from every one of his pores, which means he’s lacking in what is called impulse control.

He’s not a particularly likeable character, but you do root for him.

Next is the teen-ager Joy, played by Hannah Ardéhn. She’s the daughter of Kajsa (played by Maria Lundqvist, and there’s a small seven year old sister called Wilda (played by Viola Weidemann) that rounds out this family. 

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HBO’s The Night Of – Episode 7: Ordinary Death

Just one episode remains of the hit HBO Limited Series – The Night Of. The case and trial haven’t been decided yet, but (SPOILERS TO FOLLOW) in this, the penultimate episode there was enough info brought out in the trial to make the jurors decision quite tricky. Ours too for that matter.

Especially since the episode had begun with Detective Box and another detective at a crime scene. A woman had been stabbed to death with multiple wounds. Box would say, This looks just like the Andrea Cornish murder. The response from the other detective: Yeah another uptown misdemeanor murder.

Nice opening – makes you immediately consider that while Naz Khan is on trial, the real murderer is still out there doing his thing. This also made think of a similar set  of circumstances in The Shawshank Redemption when Tommy was told by another con how he did the crime that some banker (Andy Dufresne) had gotten sent to prison for.

Weiss did a fine job in getting Dr. Chester, and his previously ‘coached’ testimony into the proceedings. This was the testimony that the wound of Naz’s palm was caused by his hand slipping onto the blade during the thrusting of the knife into the victim repeatedly.

But Defense Attorney Chandra Kapoor went straight to work on the ME. She subtly poked a hole in his credentials if not his testimony by bringing up another case that this ME’s testimony was in part a responsible element resulting in a conviction. However that conviction (the Arthur Metz case) was later overturned in an appellate court appeal. The ME called it an interpretative judgement – the appellate court had not agreed with Chester’s interpretation. Chester would say it wasn’t a mistake – it was a different interpretation.. But Chandra had won the point. ME’s can and do make mistakes.

Weiss also had the High School coach who testified that not only did Naz throw a student down a flight of steps, but he also referenced a second instance of Naz over-reacting physically. Upon his return from a two-week suspension, Naz had thrown a full can of Coke at another student , creating a wound that required 12 stitches on the boy’s face. Kapoor had been unaware of this event, as Naz had not told his attorney about it.

Weiss closed the State’s case with Detective Box who would say that he’d been a homicide detective for 13 years, and had been a NYC Police Officer for 33 years. He would go on to say that he would take evidence over a confession and day of the week. 

After the state had rested their prosecution, Box would be dismissed from the trial. He was a prosecution witness. Stone would have to get a Judicial Summons to get Box back on the stand. Which he did.

Chandra then took on Detective Box in direct and led him into a couple of traps. He had to admit that he knowingly broke a chain of custody rule by taking Nasir Khan’s asthma inhaler out of evidence/custody and giving it to Naz to alleviate his trouble breathing.

What’s more, Box stated in direct that he had interviewed only one suspect, Nasir Khan. Kapoor sprung the trap by showing the video footage of Box interviewing the young black man called Trevor. When Kapoor asked Box if he had interviewed either Duane Reade who had been with Trevor on W.87th Street that night, the hearse driver who had been parked at the gas station where Naz refueled the taxi, or the witness from across the street from where Andrea lived, Box could only say that he didn’t interview witnesses when he had enough evidence already in hand. Box would go on to say that he couldn’t interview someone he wasn’t aware of.

Kapoor then played the video of the hearse driver at the gas station which Detective Box had scrupulously collected. Since there could be nothing Box could say about that – Box again reiterated that evidence is always preferable to a confession.

Chandra pounced on that by stating the Nasir Khan had never confessed during his interrogation in the precinct, had not confessed during his subsequent booking and bail hearings, and finally, Naz had not confessed when a 15 year sentence plea bargain deal was offered to him rather than losing in a trial and getting a life sentence or a death sentence.

Definitely a bad day for Detective Box on the stand.

Meanwhile Stone had asked some questions, interviewed some people, taken it upon himself to follow Taylor around, all for the purpose of finding out more about Don Taylor, Andrea’s stepfather. Stone’s connections supplied the following – all of Taylor’s credit cards had been maxed out, and that Taylor, if he would declare bankruptcy again – it would be for the third time. Taylor, would be called a trapeze artist by his ex-wife. When Stone asked, she said – You know, a trapeze artist, swinging from one old bag to another. A joke she said. But she also told Stone that she had paid Taylor $200K to go away rather than fight through a contested divorce settlement.

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HBO’s The Night Of – Episode 6: Samson and Delilah

After last Sunday’s great Episode 5, I expected a little bit of a drop-off in quality this week in the HBO Limited Series The Night Of.  I wasn’t wrong about that. The episode begins with a peculiar scene.

John Stone is cleaning the cat litter box. To the best of my knowledge, as a long time cat owner, I can say that I never cleaned the litter box by placing it on my kitchen counter, as Stone did. But this is not really here nor there in advancing the story. I just thought it was strange.

Stone will later visit one Dr. Yee, at a Chinese Apocathery with an office on East Broadway in New York’s Chinatown. Without me getting very precise, I’ll say this, Yee looked at each of Stone feet and lower legs, and Stone asked, Can you help me?, Yee answered in the affirmative. Yee offered up some sort of powder and suggested that Stone mix a spoonful or so with water. The finished concoction didn’t look pretty, and it cost $300 cash (no credit cards) for an ounce of the powder which Yee measured into a plastic baggie.

Guess what – it worked. With the eczema gone, soon Stone was trying on a brand new pair of shoes to wear to the upcoming trial of Nasir Khan.

Chandra Kapoor, Khan’s lawyer, was hard at work, as was Stone – but more on Stone later.

By looking at the CCTV video clips, that were available to her, Chandra was able to trace the funeral hearse that was parked at the gas station on the Upper West Side, where Naz and Andrea had stopped. You will come to see that this man, the hearse driver who was also probably a mortician as well, seemed, no, make that was, truly kind of creepy.

Chandra looks him up (likely she was able to trace his license plate number to an address). He’s at his funeral home and at first he says he can’t spare even a minute which seemed strange as he was lounging around with the tv on. This guy hasn’t a favorable opinion about women which at this point you are supposed to wonder if he is another suspect (or a red herring) – after all he might have followed Andrea and Naz to W.87th Street the next stop on the carefully researched itinerary prepared by Detective Box.

But rather than dismissing Chandra, they go into the back room where this guy begins to add nail polish to a deceased woman’s fingernails. While he does this he is carefully quoting the story of Samson and Delilah to at least point out a biblical reference of women’s perfidy.

Chandra needed to acquire a bible in order to absorb this fully. And Stone offered this – No more Nancy Drew investigations for you. If you want to talk to someone bring me along.

Chandra and Stone meet at a bar. Here Chandra was given a primer in jury selection. Stone would say, Get as many young urban women as possible. The only thing that matters to them is what they think (their own opinions). We only need one; meaning just one jury member to believe Khan is innocent.

Chandra is drinking heavily and she tells Stone that she has broken up with her boyfriend. Stone says, So you’re alone. So am I. Stone is not a cad who would take advantage of a drunken woman. When Chandra signals the bartender for another drink (it would be her third in five minutes) Stone then signals the bartender to cut her off – no more drinks. He does this even though we can see that his interest in Chandra has increased from co-counsel to something more.

Meanwhile at Rikers, Freddy is smoking meth and talking with Naz. He gives Naz a burner phone. By now Naz has bulked up a bit more and taken on some prison tats, but Naz doesn’t take a hit off the pipe.

Later another con asks Naz if he may use the phone. Naz turns him down. Freddy will later chastise Naz for this indiscretion. The phone is a money-maker (Freddy actually referred to it as a cash machine). You can get $10 a minute for letting them use it. Freddy will also attempt to give Naz a white shirt and a nice tie. Naz refuses to take them. Freddy, quite knowledgeable about court room appearances is not upset. He merely says, It’s your funeral.

Naz says simply that his family will bring him some clothes. Freddy says, Family is everything.

Things proceed. Stone continues to care for the cat, even playing with it (albeit through a door). Chandra works on her opening statement. Stone tries to get Chandra to see him as a man rather than just co-counselor. But she’s not going down that path at the moment.

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HBO’s The Night Of – Episode 5: The Season of the Witch

This is a recap with spoilers and hopefully this will help you prepare for tonight’s episode.

Borrowing a couple of examples from baseball, the hit HBO TV series The Night Of, which aired its 5th Episode, called The Season of The Witch, last Sunday night, was comparable to, first, an ace pitcher, who held back his most dominant and killer pitches early in the game. Then as the game approached its home stretch, this pitcher unwrapped his best stuff and began to blow batters away.

Or, the batters, meaning Steve Zaillian, the director and co-writer of the series, and his writing partner Richard Price – each came up to the plate and knocked one out of the park, as in a home run.

That said, and I will add that I thought this was the best episode since the first one – however, I’m not claiming that this was an episode without some problems.

From a viewer’s perspective, the Episode basically concentrated on 4 characters who were all involved in doing what they’re supposed to do.

ADA Helen Weiss (Jeannie Berlin) is the prosecutor the case. She examines the video footage of the time when Naz had pulled his cab over, somewhere either within or near the East Village to get his bearings. The video feed discloses that two men had gotten into his cab and Naz had refused service. After all, he wasn’t a licensed taxi driver. He didn’t even know how to turn off the Taxi sign on the roof of the cab.

Weiss: He didn’t want two guys. He wanted a girl. Then when Andrea gets into his taxi, he doesn’t immediately turn her away. This is the A-HA moment for Weiss. She says to her colleagues – There it is. He wanted a woman in the cab. That’s premeditation.

Maybe.

At this point Weiss has no idea if Andrea offered either money, sex, or drugs to Naz in exchange for transporting her to where she wanted to go. We know what happened in the cab. But Weiss doesn’t. Nevertheless, she could easily convince a jury that this was the premeditation.

We next see Weiss when she runs into Detective Box (Bill Camp), who Weiss has heard is turning in his retirement papers. They talk and we learn that Box doesn’t want to open a bar, or get a commercial fishing licence, or some other retirement gig. Weiss says, So what does that leave? Golf?

Weiss also tells Box that she wants him to plot out a timeline/travel line for Naz. She wants to know exactly where Naz went and when after he left his parents apartment in Jackson Heights and eventually ended up on W.87th Street.

Box gets into it and they did a great job of making it watchable. Certainly watching a man look at CCTV footage, then consulting papers documenting his credit card usage, phone logs, cell phone tower logs, ATM logs, and so forth does not inherently make for great TV. But this is the grunt work needed for investigations, and it went by easily.

Getting back to Weiss. When Naz was arrested he had a gash on the palm of his hand. Weiss thinks this ‘event’ will play better for her in the trial, if she can present testimony that the  cut came from the way Naz handled the knife (while he was stabbing Andrea) instead of cutting his hand when he punched in a panel of the glass in the door of the 87th Street building to retrieve his jacket.

So Weiss visits the coroner. Obviously they have a lengthy professional history and are on a first name basis.  Weiss enters and the ME is drawing fluids from a corpse. An actual corpse. She asks if they can discuss the probability of a knife wielding hand slipping down to the blade area because the blade thrust hit bone.

Now the scene includes Weiss coaching the ME about what to say and how to say it as well as more views of a male penis – the inert dead man’s penis – than you normally care to see on your tv. Many have objected to it. But the main takeaway is that both the ADA and the ME are doing their jobs, and the sight of a nude dead body on a table in the morgue has no more impact on them as when a yellow cab passes us on the street when we are not looking for one.

Whether Price and Zaillian are saying that the jobs of the ADA and the ME have dehumanized each of them as they continue to do their work; so much so that they can barely distinguish between a corpse on a table in the morgue from an empty table in the morgue.

Of course this is up for interpretation by each of us.

Next let’s have a look at John Stone (John Turturro).

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Café Society

Life is a comedy written by a sadistic comedy writer.

That’s a quote spoken by Bobby Dorfman, the central character (played by Jesse Eisenberg) in the new Woody Allen film Café Society. And in my opinion, that was the best line of the whole film. And it could only have been written by Woody.

Café Society is not really about society, be it the Hollywood film industry crowd – where the whole town runs on ego, or the Manhattan high society that is home to the swells decked out in black ties with their trophy wives or the gangster’s molls awash in jewels and furs. Yes, these are the folks that do all the night club trotting, and champagne swilling, that enables them to be called rich.

In reality, Cafe Society  is a three-cornered love story with the ‘society’ continually flitting into the film, or showing up in the margins, in one scene after another.

There’s more of the Hollywood name dropping than you can imagine. Adolph Menjou nearly walked off the set. I’m working on a big deal for Irene Dunne. This is where Joan Crawford lives, and on and on.

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I’m Bobby, says the eager Bobby Dorfman, finally gaining access into his uncle’s grand office. That is after his uncle had avoided him for a number of weeks.

Said another way, this is just Woody being Woody. When the young protagonist, Bobby Dorfman, out of the Bronx, finally gets some footing in the Hollywood Hills – he’s hired by his Uncle Phil Stern (Steve Carell).

Phil is a leading Hollywood mover and shaker, and king of the agent biz across town, and a philanderer. Bobby will be a glorified go-fer (agent to be) and a guest du jour at the various brunches, power lunches, and dinner soirees that Phil will either be hosting, or acting like a king in his court but on foreign turf. You just know that going in, that this sojourn in Bobby’s life can be expected to end badly for him, especially after he says, I’m not used to drinking champagne with my bagels and lox.

When he leaves La-la land, after the romance of his life (with Vonnie played by Kristen Stewart) crashes and burns, it seems that young Dorfman is just the on-screen presence (read that as a stand-in for Woody ) who returns to New York. Woody Allen has never been a big-fan of Hollywood. And Hollywood has never been an ardent admirer of Woody either. If he said as much before, he’s saying it again.

Speaking of which, much of this movie seems like so many of Woody’s recycled plot lines. Nothing new, just more of the same. Then again, Mr. Allen is 80 years of age, and although he has managed to maintain his one film a year output, many are saying that some of it seems a bit tired, or rushed, or incomplete.

Now this is not to say that Cafe Society does not have wonderful moments. Not at all. I think Allen loves the nostalgic look of Hollywood in the thirties’. Or Manhattan. Stuff that he missed while growing up in the Midwood section of Brooklyn.

In fact the costumes, the cars, the clothes and the sets are just wonderful to see. One can only imagine the work that went into getting the details so right. Like Phil Stern’s office. Like the movie theater where Bobby and Vonnie took in a film. Or the homes high up in the Hollywood hills.

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The Night Of: Episode 4 – The Art of War – Recap and Commentary

Episode 4 of the HBO hit series The Night Of aired Sunday night. The episode was entitled The Art of War which certainly can be called a reference to the ancient Chinese military strategist Sun Tzu because what we had in this episode was, aside from the fact that we saw no tanks, howitzers, or automatic weapons, definitely within war’s parameters.

Episode 4 of the HBO hit series The Night Of aired Sunday night. The episode was entitled The Art of War which certainly can be called a reference to the ancient Chinese military strategist Sun Tzu because what we had in this episode was, aside from the fact that we saw no tanks, howitzers, or automatic weapons, definitely within war’s parameters.

Here’s what he said –

“I left my parents’ house to go to a party in Manhattan. I got lost and Andrea got into the back of the cab, thinking I was the real cab driver. We drove uptown. We talked. She gave me something — some pill. We went back to her place. We drank. She gave me something else — some powder. We went up to her bedroom. We had sex. And then, I fell asleep and woke up in the kitchen. I went upstairs to get my clothes and say goodbye. I went to her. And I saw that she was dead. I panicked. I ran.

“That’s all I remember.”

Later Naz would be on the receiving end of a prison made napalm dousing. Hot boiling water, accessible from a wall spigot so the prisoners can make tea, plus a dollop of baby oil is altogether way too hot and incendiary for the human skin to handle.

Speaking of skin, Stone continued to wrap his feet in Crisco and Saran Wrap, which basically did nothing for him. Poking and prodding with a wooden chopstick wasn’t a good idea either. So Stone visited a new doctor who prescribed a corticosteroid, a drug taken orally, instead of topically.

That led us to Stone’s neighborhood pharmacy where we got a cameo by Fisher Stevens as a chatty pharmacist. Oh you don’t want to take these, said the pharmacist, Because there are serious side effects.

Like what, said Stone.

Like severe loss of hair, shrinkage of your testicles, and a heavy dose of acne.

Scary, huh. But I’m told this isn’t correct. These are the side effects of anabolic steroids, but not necessarily corticosteroids. Lacking a degree in either pharmacology or medicine – I’m just passing this on. But I won’t bet on its accuracy.

As I said above, Alison Crowe decided to step away – because as she said before no one wants a trial if avoidable. So basically she attempted to get Naz to take a plea deal. The same thing she had warned the Khans that Stone would do. Plus she was not interested in spending her law firm’s time and energy and money in defending Naz. That’s why she wanted Naz to take the deal.

So, as expected, this brings Stone back into play. He’s still working the case (in his detective mode) which was something that Detective Box was no longer doing. Stone took pictures with his sell phone, and discovered that Andrea had some connection to a rehab facility called Invictus House for drug addicts.

This led us to another cameo. This time it was Aida Turturro, who is John Turturro’s real life cousin. We all remember Aida who played Janice Soprano.

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Any way Stone makes a deal with a sleazy guy who was with Aida, who promises to get Stone images of all of Andrea’s records at this drug rehab in exchange for $350 dead presidents. Of course these copies would be inadmissible as such.

Stone, as well as Detective Box, also attended, or should I say watched from the periphery Andrea’s funeral. This resulted in a brand new possible suspect. Don Taylor, Andrea’s step Dad was seen having a heated conversation with a young man. Stone got some of this on video. Who is he?

Later Stone approaches Chandra Kapoor , the Indian lawyer, whose parents were from Mumbai. She’s the one who worked for Alison Crowe. She has since then agreed to represent Naz. She agrees to buy the docs from Stone for $500. Oh that Stone, always playing the angles.

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