In two words:  Classic drama

If you are looking for a movie that has lots of action, guns, chases, and car crashes, skip this film. As well, if you’re interested in comedy, violence, foul language, sexual inferences, war, peace, blaring music, sci-fi, horror, or mega-stars, don’t see this  However, if you get hooked on deep drama, human struggles, the love between a deeply trouble father and his loyal teenage daughter, who share a life of total independence and isolation…and all the difficulties and emotions that derive from there, don’t miss this movie.

The story focuses on two characters. Will is a soft-spoken, deeply troubled former veteran who struggles with a form of PTSD that compels him to live a life of isolation. He also is the widowed dad of a teen girl called Tom to whom he is devoted but flawed by his inability to cope with society in general. So, they live off nature, in the parks and forests of Oregon until, one day, they are discovered by park officials, separated and brought into the concrete jungle of “civilization” to be subjected to “civilizing.”  

After days of tests and interviews, satisfied

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In a word:  Intense

Finally, a good riveting action-packed movie in July, amidst a muddle of mediocre releases.

     This is a good film for these times, because it highlights stark realities collectively involved in the world of illegal immigration at the Mexican border, particularly all the off-shoots of drug trafficking, human trafficking, terrorism, corruption and violence associated with it.

     The early scenes show us suicide bombings inside a retail store set off by radical Islamic extremists. This leads to the focus of the movie which is the CIA operative played by Josh Brolin who is secretly assigned by the government to penetrate the cartels in order to bring criminals to justice, including the use of violence and murder if needed. Brolin’s character teams up with Alejandro Gillick, deftly played by Benicio Del Toro, who has his own tragic history connected to the deaths of loved ones. These two fine actors drive the movie, which is deep in emotion and awash with violence, particularly with the use of modern technology.

     In addition to the two fine actors names above, the story also involves two teen kids, each within separate plots. Played by Elijah

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(This article by yours truly, appears in Florida Today Op-Ed page this date.)

Remember when cigarettes were the “in” thing? Teenagers like myself joined millions of kids aiming to be “cool.” Boys carried packs of Lucky Strikes in their t-shirt sleeve. Girls smoked daintily. My mother smoked Kents with the micronite filter because they were “healthier.” She died of cancer at age 55.

Throughout the 1930s to the 1990s, in nearly every scene, movie characters were filmed and photographed with cigarettes dangling from their fingers and lips. Images and billboard ads depicted Lauren Bacall, Humphrey Bogart and scores of other stars glorifying cigarettes as a tool for sexiness. Some medical doctors prostituted themselves by promoting the use of nicotine. Magazine ads were common, many portraying physicians holding a cigarettes saying, “More doctors smoke camels than any other cigarette.”

For nearly a century, no one listened to nay-sayers trying to convince us how nicotine was bad for our health, that it was addictive and potentially lethal. We didn’t listen. We didn’t believe nicotine was addictive. Meanwhile, cigarette companies exploded with profits as they enhanced the content of nicotine. Politicians were barraged with warnings and data, but that didn’t matter so long

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For movie buffs and lovers, here’s a few of my ratings for the “Best” all-time movies,  (broken down into genre),  plus actors and directors. Tell me your opinions.

Best movie of all time, Drama:

  1. Godfather
  2. Schindler’s List
  3. Titanic
  4. Dances With Wolves
  5. Shawshank Redemption

Best movie all-time; Comedy

  1. Some Like it Hot
  2. My Cousin Vinnie
  3. Young Frankenstein
  4. Blazing Saddles
  5. Liar Liar

Best Movie all-time: Musical

  1. Grease
  2. Yankee Doodle Dandy
  3. My Fair Lady
  4. Chicago
  5. Phantom of the Opera

Best actor, all-time:

  1. Daniel Day Lewis
  2. Robert DeNiro
  3. Jack Nicholson
  4. James Earl Jones
  5. Al Pacino

Best Actress, All-time

  1. Meryl Streep
  2. Bette Davis
  3. Ingrid Bergman
  4. Halle Berry
  5. Jody Foster

  Best Director, All-time  

  1. Steven Spielberg
  2. Clint Eastwood
  3. Cecil B. DeMille
  4. Alfred Hitchcock
  5. Francis Ford Coppola



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(This Op-Ed by yours truly, appears in Florida Today newspaper this date.)

Some of us remember “Where Have All the Flowers Gone,” the iconic Pete Seeger tune popularized in the 1960’s. How about substituting “comedians” for “flowers”?

Seems today’s audiences create successes for so-called comedians who really don’t know how to make people really laugh.

Where are the Jackie Gleasons, Robin Williamses, Carol Burnetts? The Red Skeltons, Bob Hopes, Joan Riverses and Johnny Carsons? Where are the comics who made audiences howl with a stare into the camera, a dumb flub or an ad-lib line not on the cue card? The funniest comics were loved by all audiences, not just right-wingers or left-wingers. For the most part, we had no idea what side of the political aisle they aligned with. Neither did we care.

Sure, they took jabs at politicians, but not borne of their own politics.

Comedians — and some actors — of the modern era have tarnished the profession to a low point from which they may never recover. The unfunny Samantha Bee recently stained show biz by espousing pure filth on national television to an equally disgusting audience, calling the daughter of our president a vulgar term. 

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“Gotti”  – 7


In a word:  Violent

This is a good movie if you like stories, true or false, about racketeering and gangsterism. In this violence-ridden biopic film, John Travolta portrays John Gotti as a true-to-life character who rose to head the New York-based Mafia, until he died in federal prison at the age of 61.

The movie chronicles Gotti’s rise to fame, equal to that of a Hollywood idol, his devout loyalty to family, and his penchant for notoriety which came at a cost to many lives, not to mention millions of taxpayer dollars spent on prosecutions and law enforcement efforts trying to nail the charismatic hoodlum.

John Travolta gives us a noble performance, deftly immersing himself in the manner and swarthiness of Gotti, both as a handsome killer and later, a dying jailbird. The concern I have as a movie buff, and as an American is the love and admiration festooned upon such a violent criminal, both in real life and in the minds and hearts of fans. Gotti was handsome, Gotti was a boss of bosses, Gotti was vicious and he was a hero of sorts. But he was a really bad guy and we shouldn’t

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(This article, by yours truly, appears in the editorial page for Florida Today, this date)

This is about remembering special fathers on Father’s Day. Stepfathers, that is.

Bernard Stein was one of those. Actually, he was known to most people as Bernie the Bookie. I was 16 when he came into my life. Then a widower, he had known my mother from the mobster scene in Queens, New York, during the war years. She was a twice a widow.

My blood father died in 1941 when I was a toddler. My mom was a well-known showgirl who remarried a New York mobster named Willie. We moved to Florida in 1945 where Willie died four years later of natural causes. My embedded images are of his smoke-filled casino room in a Miami Beach hotel, with gangsters, hookers, New York lingo and laughter everywhere. Later came dinner time and the flow of booze at the apartment.

Seven years later in 1956 my mother married Bernie. Few people in my 79 years had such a deep impact on my future. Bernie the Bookie was one of those. He deserves a heartfelt remembrance.

After the Great War ended, Miami Beach was ripe for an

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