We have to reach into the world of hip hop to come up with an analysis of the films theatrically released in 2016. As Public Enemy would say “Don’t believe the hype.” At every major film festival, any many of the minor ones, a buzz starts about the “hot film” that’s a must see and a guaranteed award winner come end of the year. Everyone gets hot and bothered and starts repeating this statement which most likely originated with the publicist or sales agent. (I have been both and write mean ad copy for lazy journalists.)
I began my career with the investment banking firm JP Morgan, beating the thousands of applicants for a coveted slot and a life of three-piece suits and the dreaded power tie. One plus one equals two, it’s not that hard. When someone offers to double your salary, you take the bait and jump ship. From JP I joined up with an old school brokerage house, soon to be gobbled up by a financial services firm looking to emulate Sandy Weill and Citigroup. I watched the banking industry consolidate, followed by the brokerage industry and, later in my career, the advertising agencies and then the cable stations. But I’m getting a little ahead of myself.
It was a strangely quiet morning on 23rd Street, I was sleeping in, recuperating from a late night session of photo editing when the phone rang. It was David Craig Ellis. “Paul, I have the angle for your new piece, it’s David Craig Ellis Shits His Pants.” I said “ok,” slowly realizing what I was agreeing to. “We’ll talk it over in the studio this afternoon.” I hung up thinking, this can’t be good.
In an excellent piece of storytelling, ADMIRAL brings to life Michiel de Ruyter (1607-1676), brilliant naval strategist, creator of the Dutch Marines, family man and stabilizing citizen of the recently created Republic of the Netherlands. With political and familial ties between the great houses of Europe threatening to tear apart the young Republic, Michiel de Ruyter (Frank Lammers) is asked to take over after Admiral Maarten Tromp (Rutger Hauer) is killed in battle by the English forces under King Charles II (Charles Dance). What pulls at de Ruyter is his neglected family, his desire to see his beloved Holland not be torn apart in a civil war between the Republicans and the Orangists under Prince Willem III (Egbert Jan Weeber) and to modernize the naval fleet to protect his homeland and their merchant fleet.
VAXXED: FROM COVER-UP TO CATASTROPHE is not an anti-vaccine film, but surprisingly, not a single mainstream newspaper, television or radio show will say that. The film actually supports true science that uses control groups and what studies have shown – that single dose vaccines are safer than combined vaccines. This has been the consistent view of its director Dr. Wakefield, and his expressed goal in the film to make vaccines better by doing more studies.
Many of us well remember those dry, pithy sketches from Monty Python’s Flying Circus on tv and film from the late 60’s to early 70’s. An easier and more accessible wit is woven through BOOM BUST BOOM, co-directed by former Python Terry Jones with his son Bill and Ben Timlett. Here an important message underscores the humor. Jones displays intent concern at how economics is taught and applied today as he walks through centuries of Boom and Bust scenarios examining how it all went down. Literally.
For 2016 the APAP (Association of Performing Arts Presenters) Conference offered a broad array of performers and entertainment to behold, not only for those members of the organization looking to fill out their calendars for the upcoming year – at arts facilities, festivals, colleges and universities and the like – but for aficionados of the performing arts in general. As the world’s largest networking forum and marketplace for performing arts professionals, APAP features more than 3,600 presenters, artists, managers, agents and emerging arts leaders from all 50 US states and more than 30 countries convening in one place at one time to both celebrate the disciplines they have dedicated their professional lives to, as well as discuss in many forums and panels the issues which impact the production and presentation of culture, both in the US and globally. While the Conference program unfolded over January 15-19 at the New York Hilton Hotel, the showcase performances which energize and thrill both members and general audiences alike took place over a longer period, from January 12-21 (with some showcasing performers in residencies extending for a week or more beyond), and could be seen at a great number of sites around New York in addition to the Hilton.
While New York is justly celebrated as a center of culture year-round, in January this distinction is magnified by the confluence of several events concentrated not only on the presentation of diverse practitioners of the performing arts, but equally dedicated to the business, aesthetics, logistics and issues involved with the realm of live performance. Given New York’s situation as a gateway to the US and its distinction as a global city, this entails both national and international aspects.
More films are being made, more “distributors” are launching and yet way too many films are not getting released in a way that avid, or even casual, moviegoers are able to watch them, let alone know they even exist. I…
The Finalists for the 66th National Book Awards have been determined, with the Longlist of 10 titles being winnowed down to a Shortlist of 5 in each of the categories of Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry and Young People’s Literature respectively. It seems every year there is a category wherein any number of the Finalists could possibly get the prize, whereas perhaps in another there is often a book that seems foreordained to get the top honor – due to aspects ranging from a Finalist nominee being a notable author with prior nominations yet no Grand Prizes; a groundswell of popular or critical acclaim distinguishing one of the titles from the rest; or circumstances in the political or social sphere in America that serve to make a certain book timely or “important” in terms of the national dialogue.