2020 was the year of COVID-19 and the corresponding implosion of the film business where many films that I eagerly awaited to see on a big screen, the way films should be, were dumped to various streaming platforms. If the year proceeded the way it should have, I would have watched more films on big screens, discovered new talent and my Top 10 choices may have been completely different. That being said, the films I’ve chosen are all worth checking out as I was watching films up until the day all the movie theaters were shuttered. It’s rather fitting that the last film I saw was the Filipino zombie film BLOCK Z.
Outward Bound has a motto, “To Serve, To Strive and not To Yield.” That describes my father. He served his community in many ways. By being the first child in his family to attend college he shined the light on the possibilities a higher education can offer to his siblings, his children and my cousins. He did once warn me that I was too smart for my own good. I responded “if you didn’t want us to think for ourselves, why did you encourage us to attend college?” But that’s what he did from the day I was born, he instilled in me the unquenching thirst for knowledge. Curiosity about the world around me, both ancient history and current events, is what has driven me to this day. My love of storytelling, or as the Irish say, the gift of the gab, comes from my mother’s family who were involved in the arts but also my father who introduced me to the world of books. I blame my 10,000 volume library on him.
Incompetent governments are typical, but Holy Shit!, what’s wrong with the White House (True News – Der Trumpkof lies out of both sides of his mouth, and his ass). The states are just as bad, the local
municipalities even more so.
Doctoral thesis filmmaking.
An exciting premise for a documentary, the discovery of long forgotten women filmmakers starting with Alice Guy-Blache up through Nell Shipman onward to Wendy Toye and dozens of other international directors unknown inside and outside of their own countries today. The downside is the filmmaker approaches the subject matter as if he has to pad out a doctoral thesis by hammering multiple square pegs into round holes to make a point. The inclusion of a number of over-rated current women filmmakers lessens the strength of this film.
2019 was the year of diarrhea of the hard drive. Like Fredrick Wiseman who seems to have forgotten everything he learned about editing as he has aged, the franchises (Marvel, Star Wars) and elder statesmen of Hollywood (Martin Scorsese and Terrence Malick) are following suit with their lofty “epics.” All of them need he who shall not be named to rev us his chainsaw and start snipping away. If they were including Bollywood song & dance numbers I may give them a little slack. Speaking of Indian cinema, when is Hollywood going to start teaming up the likes of Salman Khan with the Dwayne Johnsons? (I have a great script idea for that pairing.) Speaking of international talent not yet on Tinsel Town’s radar, I offer up Aislinn Derbez (who they gave a thankless role in the middling MISS BALA remake) who I’ve been paying attention to since discovering her in A LA MALA. That film should get an American remake as I doubt most people who didn’t speak Spanish saw it.
The global nature of the produce business was fully evidenced throughout the London Produce Show and Conference (LPS19), put on by the Fresh Produce Consortium and Produce Business magazine over June 5-7 at Grosvenor House, a JW Marriott hotel on London’s Park Lane. As the UK’s leading global produce get-together, it enables suppliers and buyers to connect within an immersive networking event in one of the world’s iconic cities for the fresh fruit, vegetable and flower industries. Drawing upon London’s traditional role as an international hub of trade and commerce, with the LPS19 the fresh produce industry has thus built upon a regional retail scene that is evolving rapidly and matched that with a reach that is unparalleled.
One of the trends I have noticed in attending BookExpo over the last several years is that it seems to have gotten smaller with regards to the size and floor space it covers at the Javits Center at the same time it has expanded in a way to welcome more and more people who are not publishing industry professionals into the space. The former phenomenon certainly has to do with a consolidation in the industry, with any number of smaller publishing houses having been acquired by larger corporate entities (one of my favorite publishers, Black Dog & Leventhal, being a case in point); undoubtedly, too, the progressive growth in online sales of not only books but also related intellectual properties has contributed to the apparent contraction of the size and scope of the annual event – it’s easy to forget if you’re an attendee who creates, reads or reviews content that BookExpo primarily functions for the sake of book sellers and others in the business of delivering that content to consumers. With regards to the latter aspect, it’s mostly felt in the transitioning of the three days of BookExpo into the two final days of BookCon within the same Javits footprint – wherein the floor space taken up by exhibitors shrinks even more, but the public attendee crowd swells, not only to browse areas where they can purchase books but also to sit in on public presentations by authors and other publishing notables.
If it’s January in New York City, that means the annual ‘Beer Bourbon & BBQ’ culinary extravaganza will be taking place, allowing folks from the greater New York area (and regions besides) to flock to The Tunnel at 608 West 28 Street in West Chelsea to fulfil the appetite of their ‘Inner Redneck.” Happening on January 26th, the theme for 2019 is ‘BEAST MODE. TASTE IT. SIP IT. PORK IT’ (which has been trademarked by presenters the Trigger Agency to mark the occasion), and it is an apropos coinage for the opening event of a series that is staged throughout various cities across the eastern seaboard over the year, from Florida to New York.
If I didn’t have a life to live with diverse interests, I’d rush out to see every “buzzed about” film coming out of film festivals. Years of disappointment and 35 years of industry expertise has taught me to ignore the chatter. My favorite film of 2018, THE DEATH OF STALIN, happened to be one of those buzzers (Armando Iannucci and Steve Buscemi were why I saw it). By year end awards hoopla, the film wasn’t mentioned once (neither was Charlize Theron’s acting in TULLY which had the same “buzz”). The “tastemakers” are like babies with their new shiny toys, PR flacks know how to distract them with their lollipops.
The most comprehensive annual celebration of the performing arts around the globe, encompassing a convergence of 14major performing arts industry forums and public festivals, is about to take place once again in New York City with the 2019 edition of JanArtsNYC. With the broad menu of cultural events including American Realness (Jan. 4-13; americanrelaness.com), Chamber Music of America Conference (Jan. 17-20l chamber-music.org), Drama League DirectorFest (Jan. 28; directorfest.org), National Sawdust’s FERUS Festival (Jan. 4-8; nationalsawdust.org/festivals-and-series/ferus), globalFEST (Jan. 6; globalfest.org), ISPA Congress (Jan. 8-10; ispa.org), Jazz Congress (Jan. 7-8; jazzcongress.org), NYC Winter Jazzfest (Jan. 4-12; winterjazzfest.com), The Joyce Theater’s American Dance Platform (Jan. 3-7; joyce.org), Performance Space New York (Jan. 5-31; performancespacenewyork.org), PROTOTYPE: Opera/Theatre/Now (Jan. 5-13; prototypefestival.org), and The Public Theater’s Under the Radar Festival (Jan. 3-13; undertheradarfestival.com), perhaps the most important of these will be the 62ndannual Association of Performing Arts Professionals (APAP) Conference. Taking place at the New York Hilton Midtown Hotel from January 4-8, the APAP Conference in 2019 will host more than 3,600 performing arts professionals (including persons who represent leading performing arts centers, municipal and university performing arts facilities, culturally specific organizations, foreign governments, artist agencies, managers, touring companies, consultants and self-represented artists) as they experience some 1,000 performance showcases, network at a 370-booth EXPO Hall, and attend professional development and plenary sessions addressing issues impacting their industry.