Last Saturday, I saw a man running a shell-game on the L. The first player, obviously the shill, won $100. A group of onlookers cheered and applauded. Then several of them got fleeced. There are still people who don't know this is a con. SMH
Prior to Saturday, I hadn't seen a shell game or 3-card monte on the L in over 20 years. Coincidentally, our local NPR station reported on L-train shell games and 3-card monte earlier this week.
Various news outlets are suddenly reporting on Trump's Catholic problem. Among Catholics, Hillary is leading Trump by about 25 points. I have thoughts about why that is, but no firm opinions. Some say it's about ethnicity and immigration, but I think there is more to it than that, and I'll leave it there.
Last night, we watched the series finale of the Night Of. I give it a strong recommendation, though I'm still sorting out the meaning of some themes they incorporated. It's a single-season, 8-part HBO series, so no huge commitment. You can probably catch it soon on Amazon, if it isn't already available there.
Don't Think Twice explores the undercurrent tensions that surface in an improv group when one member of the company makes it to SNL. The film begins with a documentary-style presentation that almost imperceptibly takes on the feel of a non-documentary film as the story unfolds. Fears of failure, loss of identity and unconscious rivalries barely hide behind humor that is at times quite cruel. Don't Think Twice could easily be about the wearing psychological tensions experienced by professional actors as they reach their late 3os, 40s and 50s, watching as some peers make it to the big time and others don't. -- 9/10 stars.
Don't Breathe is a horror-thriller about a home burglary gone awry, and it isn't pretty for a trio of young burglars who find that getting out of the house they targeted is far more difficult than it was getting in. Thriller and horror are not my favorite genres, but it was well-crafted and well-acted, so I enjoyed it. 8/10 stars.
I should begin this review with the caveat that I don't like film reviews, and I try not to read them. If I'm interested in a film for whatever reason, I just go see it. I don't like having plot points given away, or too much revealed in general, by reviewers or trailers. But I do like to talk about movies, and Dr. X has asked us to share our opinions, so here goes. For people like me who don't want to know anything beyond a recommendation, read no further; just go stream "Holiday" from 1938 right now. For those who want to know more, I've tried to be pretty vague about the details, and just stick to why I think this is a very awesome and unique picture.
A few nights ago we watched "Holiday," starring Cary Grant and Katherine Hepburn, directed by Hollywood great George Cukor, released in 1938.
Based on the play of the same name staged in 1928, and the first film adaption from 1930, here's the set-up: Cary Grant is a young, self-made business man engaged to an heiress, who has a kooky sister, played by Hepburn. This _must_ be a breezy, screw-ball, romantic comedy, right? It certainly is, but not in the way we're used to, if we're fans of "Bringing Up Baby" or "The Philadelphia Story." These characters aren't full of just romance and fun; they also experience disappointment, and grief, as they struggle to find themselves. These are themes more familiar from "Lost Generation" fiction, such as "The Razor's Edge" or "The Sun Also Rises," to name two. This perception is underscored by the presence of Lew Ayres ("All Quiet on the Western Front," 1930) as Grant's alcoholic playboy soon-to-be brother-in-law. However, the world had changed a good deal since the writing of the play, when search for self had taken a back seat to searching for a job in the depths of the Great Depression.
In our own somewhat desperate times, Grant's character initially comes off as frivolous, and Hepburn's as mawkish, as they probably did to their contemporary audience (the film was not a hit at the box office). As the film goes on, however, their struggles become more concrete, and a new layer is added to their story, built on its post-WWl ennui--that of the rising tide of Fascism, both the kind in far away places, and the controlling, bullying forces within their own family.
But this by no means a grim night at the movies. It's extremely fun, with loads of humor and charm--Cary Grant even does a few impressive physical tricks from his days as an acrobat in vaudeville.
I highly recommend this film, 9/10 (extra points for co-starring the always enjoyable Edward Everett Horton). It is currently available streaming for a fee on YouTube, iTunes, and Amazon Video, though not, unfortunately, on Netflix. It is only on DVD within collections, not as a stand-alone disc.
The cash-strapped State of Illinois is economizing. Former state comptroller, Judy Baar Topinka, died in 2014. Rather than toss millions of preprinted envelopes, her successor blacked out Topinka's name and had her own name squeezed in above Topinka's.