Monthly Archives: October 2015

Black Sails – Pirates and Porn

The first season of Black Sails was awful.  It was just badly done soft core porn. Calling it a pirate adventure series would be like saying Debbie Does Dallas was a documentary about the Dallas Cowboys football team.

But then, in the middle of the second season, something happened. Black Sails plot lines and character development became interesting. The scenes stopped being about the whore house, and started being about the battles at sea. There were still plenty of sex scenes and naked women, but there was now also an interesting story and complex characters.

This changes are great, since pirates of the 1700’s were, in fact, fascinating people. Their motives and backgrounds were varied and complex. The leaders of the British and Spanish empires were afraid of them; and not just because of the money they stole.

The powers at the top of the British and Spanish empires hated pirates since pirates challenged the entire social order upon which the empires were based. Pirate ships were truly democratic societies. The pirate captains were elected by the crew with each crew member getting an equal vote. Pirates included run away slaves, women and even some people who had formerly been at the top levels of society.

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The fact that Black Sails is finally focusing on the social revolution of pirates is terrific. In season 2 of Back Sails we finally got the back story of Captain Flint (perfectly played by Toby Stephens). At one time he had been a rising star in the British Navy and we never before knew how or why he became a pirate. It turned out that he was thrown out of the Navy in disgrace, after it was discovered be was gay. This was 200 years before the word “gay” even existed, and homosexuals were treated as mentally deranged deviants who had no right to be in society.

Flint, however, refuses to meekly submit to the judgements of other people. He was expected to move to Nassau and live the rest of his life in hidden disgrace. Instead, he became a pirate captain, viciously attacking the ships of the British Navy that betrayed him.

The back stories of most of the other major characters were also filled in in Season 2. It was like the writers finally figured out that naked breasts were not enough to have a show.  It took the writers way too long to get their characters and the show moving, but once they did the actors really were able to show their true talents.

Black Sails does have a hugely talented cast of characters, who will be returning for season 3.

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Zach McGowan is the tough as nails Captain Charles Vane, who understands that the most powerful weapon pirates have is the fear they instill in others. Jessica Parker Kennedy is Max; a whore who through wits and strategic thinking became fabulously wealthy on Spanish gold.

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Hannah New is Elanor Guthrie, a high-born English woman who became dealer in stolen pirate goods after her own father betrayed her.

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Beneath her beautiful cool exterior is a smoldering hatred for the English and the pirates; both groups having condemned her to death on several occasions.  Elanor and Captain Vane ended Season 2 as vicious enemies sworn to kill each other, after having previously been the most passionate of lovers

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Toby Schmitz is Rackham; the character who was a beaten down wimp for most of 2 seasons, and ended up becoming the most successful pirate captain of them all. His beautiful and dangerous partner Ann is played by Clara Paget. Despite her small stature, even the toughest of the pirate men know better than to cross her.

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Season 3 of Black Sails looks like it is gong to be exciting.  The British and Spanish empires have no intention of letting a group of social misfits steal their gold and challenge the World Order. They are coming full force to Nassau to attack.  It should be great.

  • We rate Black Sails on Starz Network Four Stars ****

 

 

The World’s Worst A&P Joke

It is too bad that A&P decided to declare bankruptcy instead of merging with another grocery store chain.

At one point A&P was considering merging with Stop & Shop. The new name would have been STOP & P.

 

 

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(We warned you it was a bad joke).

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Still, it is sad to see the  once proud Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Company go out of business. We wish all the hard working people of A&P good luck and good fortune ahead as they look for new jobs going into the Holiday season.

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In case anyone else forgets to say it; thanks for serving us through the years.

Golshifeth Farahani

Golshifeth Farahani is the Iranian actress who played Pharaoh’s wife in Exodus Gods and Kings.   While not well known in the United States, she is a celebrity in France and infamous in Iran

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She has been told in no uncertain terms that she is no longer welcome in Iran, after posing nude for a French magazine.

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Exactly why she chose to pose naked is still a matter of debate. Some women applaud her independence.  However, some struggling  Iranian actresses are furious at her. They say she has made it much harder for all serious actresses trying to make a living in Iran, where some men in power already feel that all actresses are no better than prostitutes.

Golshifeth Farahani certainly did not need to pose nude to get attention. She is an accomplished singer and has appeared in numerous films. She also has one of the most strikingly beautiful faces on the silver screen.

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Even in traditional conservative Iranian clothing and headscafr Goldshifeth Farahani stands out. She did not need to get naked to prove her beauty to the world.

However, Golshifeth Farahani is not just another pretty actress looking for attention. She is using her celebrity as a way to expose the daily injustices and abuses that take place against women in Iran. She points out how women in the Islamic world are forced to constantly hide not only their bodies, but the very essence of who they are.

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Golshifeth Farahani says that , “I lied a million times from the times. From the time I first went to school I was forces to lie to survive.” Perhaps it is no coincidence that this photo of Goldshiefth makes her look very much like an Iranian Kainess Everdeen

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In her own very feminine way, Golshifeth Farahani is a true freedom fighter. She is what the Islamic dictators fear every bit as much as a team of Navy Seals. She is a strong free woman, not afraid to show the world exactly who she is.

Show Me A Hero – TV review

“Show Me A Hero, and I’ll write you a tragedy”, is a famous F. Scott Fitzgerald quote. It applies perfectly to the life of Nick Wasicsko, who at the age of 28 became the mayor of Yonkers, making him the youngest mayor of any major city in America.

All the people and events in this HBO miniseries are true. It begins in 1987 when Yonkers is is fighting a court order to place low cost public housing in white middle class neighborhoods.

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Instead of taking a political documentary approach, this series focuses on the day to day lives of some of the individuals involved. Nick Wasicsko gets elected to mayor by running against the public housing plan.

However, once he come to office, he soon realizes that court ordered fines of $1 million dollars a day will bankrupt Yonkers unless the desegregation plan  is enacted. Nick’s main focus then becomes implementing the best plan possible for all involved. Instead of being appreciated for his efforts, he becomes hated by the very people who elected him.

Show Me A Hero is one of the best miniseries ever presented. The acting is superb. Oscar Isaac is Nick Wasicsko, and displays the emotional toll being hated day after day takes on an individual.

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Winona Ryder is councilwoman Vinni Restiano, who is willing to do anything at all to retain that position, even if it means betraying old friends.

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Jim Belushi is Angelo Martinelli , the old long-time mayor, who finds himself faced with a political problem that simply cannot be solved.

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Carla Quevedo plays Nick’s wife Nae Noe Wasicsko. Carla Quevedo is perfect in this role, and has some of the most dramatic and moving scenes of the series.

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Alfred Molina plays Henry Spallone, a councilman who refuses to ever go along with the desegregation plan.  He is not a racist, but a man who is honestly representing the best interests of his constituents. They are worried about what public housing will do to the values of the homes they have lived in their entire lives.

The plot summary does not fully describe the emotional impact of this series.  We highly recommend this series and give it our top rating.

We rate Show Me A Hero Five Stars *****

 

James Bond Marries Miss Moneypenny

Three weeks after he retired from MI6, James Bond married Eve Moneypenny. Eve moved into James’ London flat and the two were fabulously happy.  Most people had assumed that James would marry a supermodel, or an exceedingly rich and beautiful woman.

However, James Bond had always been in love with Miss Moneypenny, and she with him. Moneypenny was the woman who was always there for Bond. She was the only real friend, male or female, that Bond had ever  had.

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Of course, Bond had made love with countless woman over the years, but he had never really been in love with them. All those women were seduced by 007, the fearless man with nerves of steel and no doubts.

Unlike the other women, Moneypenny had seen the real Bond. The one he hid from the world. When “M” was away, James and Eve spent hours in the office talking about all the demons that tormented Bond.  He confided his guilt about the many people he had killed, the destruction he had caused; even the many women he had seduced and then left behind.  He questioned whether or not it was really for a good cause. Eve Moneypenny was always there to reassure Bond. She was there to pull him up when he was at his lowest.

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Unlike Bond, Moneypenny did not retire. She had started in MI6 as a secretary, but eventually rose to become Director of All European Secret Operations. Moneypenny often worked late into the night, directing her spies throughout the world.

James loved his new role. He was a gourmet chef and always had a romantic dinner waiting for Eve whatever hour she returned home.

One day a new agent at MI6 made  a pass at Eve Moneypenny. She laughed it off, and explained that she was a happily married woman.

“Well, your husband, Mister Moneypenny, is a lucky man.”

“Yes he is”, answered Eve with a smile. “And by the way, his name is not Moneypenny. His name is Bond, James Bond.”

Crimson Peak – movie review

“Its not a ghost story. Its a story with ghosts in it.” These are the words of Crimson Peak’s main character Edith Cushing as she tries to get publishers interested in her writing. These words very much reflect the movie Crimson Peak itself.

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Set in 1901 America and  England, Crimson Peak is about a beautiful young America woman who wants to break the social bonds of women of that time. In addition to being lovely and intelligent, she is  tormented by the ability (or affliction) of seeing ghosts that other people do not.

She falls in love with a handsome young Barron from England, whose cold as ice sister is always at his side.

Crimson Peak  is a beautifully scripted and acted horror/drama, where the characters are more important than the special effects.  Mia Wasikowska is perfect as Edith Cushing. Edith is strong willed and smart, but soon finds that may not be enough against the physical horrors and challenges she must face.

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Tom Hiddleston is Sir Thomas Sharpe. The  movie keeps the audience guessing as to whether he will be the  saving hero, or a violent evil devil.

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Jessica Chastain is Thomas’ sister Lucille. Beautiful and talented, she has parts of her past that she keeps buried from everyone but her brother. This is a completely different role than we have see Jessica  Chastain in before; and she is fantastic in it.

Crimson Peak is very  much a story that Edgar Allan Poe would have enjoyed. It has the same complex characters, plot and dramatic ending that Poe himself put into his works.

We give Crimson Peak Four Stars ****

 

I Was A Halloween Hooligan

When I was a teenager in Stamford Connecticut, every Halloween we played a very exciting and rough game with the police. It was a secret game, completely hidden from the parents of Stamford. As rough as it was, the Halloween Game had rules. The most important rule was “don’t tell”.  The police would not tell our parents what we were doing and we would not tell our parents what the police were doing.

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The objective of the teenagers was to vandalize as much property as possible on Halloween. Within limits, of course. We did not smash windows or set anything on fire. However, we did steal street signs, fill mail boxes with shaving cream, throw toilet paper in trees and egg everything in sight.

Now days, if a kid does that, the police will pick them up and possibly even arrest them. But that was not the way the game was played in the old days.  When I was a boy,  Halloween was a time for the police to have a little fun too. When I was a teenager, the Stamford police were all men who had seen extensive combat in World War II. Roaming bands of teenagers with eggs and shaving cream did not exactly frighten them.

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The cops patrolled in cars and looked for large groups of teenagers on Halloween. Especially kids who were way too old to be out trick-or-treating or were not wearing any Halloween costumes.

The police car would come to a screeching halt and the teenagers would scatter. Most were fast enough to get away from the cops, but a few slow pokes always got caught. The police would search them for eggs, and if any were found, the kids got an “egg shampoo”. That is, the copys would smash the eggs one by one on the teenager’s heads. I had that happen to me only once, but the disgusting  feeling of three egg yokes dripping down my face is something I will never forget.

If a kid was a real problem and got caught more than once in the same night, then the police would take the teenager on a “long ride.” That happened once to Tommy Bower. He got put  in the back of the patrol car and the cops drove him 5 miles or more from where he lived. Then they just left him there. He was too busy walking home the rest of the night to spend any time vandalizing anything. Despite the long walk, he later admitted that it was “really cool” riding in the back of the patrol car.

When we look at the problems between the police and young people today, it is hard to explain the way the relationship was in those days. The cops took it for granted that kids sometimes did stupid and even destructive things and they did not get angry about it. Being wild once and a while was accepted as a normal part of growing up.

As teenagers, we accepted that the cops liked to have a little fun too, and if the game got too rough then it was our own fault for deciding to play it in the first place. Looking back of course, I now realize that  it was a much more peaceful and innocent time.  The Halloweens of old had no guns or gangs or drugs or mace or tasers. Teenagers and police were all a lot safer back then.

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As Halloween approaches I remember the taste of free Hersey bars and even the dreaded Bit-O-Honey. However, what I remember most is the feel of three smashed eggs in my hair as a police car drove way with the two cops laughing hysterically.

 

 

The Station Agent – movie review

The Station Agent is a brilliantly directed and acted 2003 movie. It stars Peter Dinklage, Patricia Clarkson and Bobby Cannavale as three very lonely people who end up finding and helping each other.

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Peter Dinklage is Finbar McBride, a man who hates the way being a dwarf automatically makes him the center of attention wherever he goes. He copes with this by living  a solitary life, where his only interest is watching and reading about trains.

Then one day he inherits a train station in the rural town of Newfoundland New Jersey, and decides to move there to live. People from other parts of the country may be surprised to know that Newfoundland New Jersey is a real place. In fact, there are many very isolated and rural areas in New Jersey.

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Patricia Clarkson plays Olivia, a woman in Newfoundland who has also retreated from the world after the death of her son. Olivia and Fin are befriended by Joe (Bobby Cannavale) who runs a local food truck and also happens to be a gourmet chef. Despite his talkative nature, Joe also lives an isolated life, with most of his time devoted to caring for his sick father.

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This is a beautiful film, about loneliness and the need for human connection. There are hundreds of teenage “coming of age” movies, but very few about the real issues of ordinary adults.

 

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Fin, Olivia and Joe come into contact more and more through funny and sometimes bizarre circumstances. They slowly begin to open up to each other and become the rarest of all things in this world – true friends.

We rate this movie Five Stars *****

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