Archive for the ‘Movies’ Category

‘Wretches and Jabberers’ documentary playing in 40 cities in April for Autism Awareness Month

April 3, 2011

Wretches and Jabberers: And Stories from the Road is a powerful, moving documentary that follows two men with autism as they travel the world, visiting friends with autism and changing attitudes about disabilities along the way.

The potentially groundbreaking film opens in 40 cities in April to commemorate National Autism Awareness Month.

Many people with autism have extremely limited verbal skills or no speech whatsoever.  It has long been assumed by the general public, and even by many parents, educators, and caretakers that scant speech equals low intelligence.

In Wretches and Jabberers, the movie’s protagonists dispel this myth.  The two men and the four friends they visit show the world that they are in fact exceedingly intelligent, eloquent in their writings, and charmingly funny.  Like Helen Keller before them, the “wretches” in the movie are pioneers, blazing trails for others to follow.  The message of the movie is to show the world that there are others like them who are vastly underestimated and whose potential is untapped.  It is a message of hope.

The film follows Tracy Thresher, 42, and Larry Bissonnette, 52, both from Vermont, as they travel to Sri Lanka, Japan, and Finland to visit friends during their globetrotting tour who, like them, type independently to communicate.

Academy Award-winning filmmaker Gerardine Wurzburg directed the feature documentary.

Thresher, Bissonnette, and the friends they visit can all type independently.  But they first learned to communicate using supported typing (click here for an article about that technique).

The soundtrack was written by J. Ralph, with songs performed by a star-studded group of artists including Judy Collins, Ben Harper, Scarlett Johansson, Nic Jones, Norah Jones, Carly Simon, Stephen Stills, and Bob Weir.

Click here to read the rest of my Wretches and Jabberers article on Examiner.com.

State of Play: Very good movie filmed in Washington, D.C.

March 27, 2011

I just saw State of Play for the first time last night.  It’s a very good movie set and filmed in Washington, D.C. A lot of the city was shown, and it was nice to see three longtime local reporters get cameos — anchor Jim Vance, reporter Chris Gordon, and former sports anchor and Redskins play-by-play guy Frank Herzog, all of whom have been on TV in D.C. since the early 1980s or even late 1970s. Chris Matthews of Hardball also made it – he’s sort of local but also national.  The one gripe I had was that in the Washington Globe’s newsroom they showed a guy wearing an Orioles cap instead of a Nationals cap.  True, they filmed several years ago and the Nats had only been around a couple of years, but it’s still a slap in the face to D.C., though there are still O’s fans in Washington. Other than that, they did an excellent job, and more movies should try so hard to capture the scenes from D.C.  The movie was probably good enough to crack my top 100 but right now I’m too lazy to update it.  I’d definitely also put Inception and possibly Avatar in.

brought to you by http://www.mikeneedsakidney.com/.

Wretches and Jabberers: Best movie of 2011?

November 6, 2010

I just got back from a screening of Wretches and Jabberers at the ICDL conference in Tysons Corner, Virginia and the movie was excellent.   It follows Tracy Thresher and Larry Bissonnette, two men with autism who communicate by typing, as they travel to visit their peers in Sri Lanka, Japan, and Finland. (Full disclosure – I’ve known Chammi Rajapatirana, one of the people with autism who Larry and Tracy visit in the movie, for a long time).

The movie shows that non-verbal or minimally verbal people with autism are extremely intelligent, funny, and full of emotion. Tracy, Larry, and Chammi didn’t learn to type until they were adults.  Tracy and Larry can read some of the words as they type them.  It makes you wonder how many people are overlooked, underestimated and living in isolation because of their lack of verbal ability.

The movie passed the bathroom test.  That’s when you have to go but you wait until the movie is over because you don’t want to miss even a minute of it.

Filmmaker Gerardine Wurzburg, who was nominated for an Academy Award for Autism is a World, may just win one for this movie.

The documentary comes out in the spring of 2011 and the soundtrack will be released in January.  The incredible list of musical talent includes Norah Jones, Carly Simon, Ben Harper, Stephen Stills, and Bob Weir.  My favorite song was by Stills, with solid rhythm and bass guitars behind his distinctive voice, which was played when Tracy and Larry were in Vermont in between globetrotting trips.

Quotes from Braveheart about freedom and betrayal

September 11, 2010

I’m watching Braveheart now, for probably the 1,001st time on TNT.  A couple of quotes stand out.

To set the scene a little bit, it’s the late 13th century, and Scotland is at war with England.  England has taken land from Scotland, and invoked a rule, at least in the movie, in which English soldiers get to sleep with the wives of Scottish men on their wedding nights.  So the king of Scotland, Robert the Bruce, puts a helmet on to hide his head and then fights for England against Scotland. Robert the Bruce fights against William Wallace (Braveheart, Mel Gibson in the movie, the leader of the Scottish troops), and then gets his helmet knocked off so Wallace sees that Robert the Bruce is fighting against him.

Robert the Bruce after he betrayed William Wallace: “I took it from him when I betrayed him and I saw it in his face on the battlefield.  I will never be on the wrong side again.”

Then, from Wallace:  “Sons of Scotland….Fight and you may die.  Run and you’ll live.  At least a while.  And dying in your beds, many years from now.  Would you be willing to trade all of this, from this day to that, for one chance, just one chance to come back here, and tell our enemies, that they may take our lives, but they’ll never take our freedom!”

It means to do what’s right even if it doesn’t help you in the short run.

And finally, a quote from Maximus from “Gladiator:”

“What we do in life…echoes in eternity.”

Year One starring Jack Black and Michael Cera

July 10, 2010

Normally I trust the reviews on rottentomatoes.com, but “Year One” starring Jack Black and Michael Cera got 14% positive reviews. I thought the movie was really good.  I’ve seen it a couple of times on TV.  Just great humor with the contrast of a few characters joking in an otherwise serious context, and they take Biblical events and show them from the perspective of a couple of wanderers who don’t understand things like the wheel or money.  Tons of great one-liners and funny situations.

20 Most Attractive Actresses in Movies

November 23, 2009

I don’t think anything will top the Most Beautiful TV News Women of 2008 blog, but this’ll have to do for now.

So this is my list of the 20 most attractive actresses in movies.   I list them as the most “attractive” instead of “beautiful,” because though most of them are beautiful, “attractive” implies personality traits and other intangibles.  The roles are also important, though this isn’t a list of great actresses – it’s a list of the most attractive women in my opinion based on their roles in these movies.  So it’s sort of more the character than the person, since obviously I don’t know them.

Without going through the whole list, this competition was over before it began.  Linda Hamilton has the nice girl, innocent look in “Terminator” and she shows she has a lot of heart.  Then in “Terminator II” she becomes a bad ass.  Franka Potente in “Bourne Identity” has moxie and style.  If I had just seen her without her being in the role, she might not make the top 100, but she is pretty phenomenal in the role of Marie.

Sometimes it’s a particular scene that leaves the impression, like when Sigourney Weaver is possessed by a ghost in “Ghostbusters,” or when Phoebe Cates walks by the pool in “Fast Times at Ridgemont High” with an assist by the song “Moving in Stereo” by the Cars (one of the most underappreciated rock bands of all time).  Then there’s the woman as authority figure, like P.J. Soles who played an MP in “Stripes,” a variation on the teacher theme.  In “Silver Streak,” Jill Clayburgh looked wholesome; in “Basic Instinct” Sharon Stone did not.

Back before older women were called cougars, you had Jacqueline Bisset (“Class”), Anne Archer (“Patriot Games”) and of course, Anne Bancroft in “The Graduate,” who just edges out Katherine Ross from the same movie.  Believe it or not, Linda Fiorentino of “Vision Quest” was also an older woman although she played someone who was only 21 in the movie.  Her suitor in Vision Quest was 17.  I always thought her character was more like 25 until I saw the movie again.  Cheesy movie but great.

The mention of Sandra Bullock reminds me that I saw her twice in bars in Washington, D.C. about 10 years ago.  Each time she had her hair colored blond (or was wearing a wig) like she has it in her new movie “The Blind Side.”  It was definitely her.  Once was in Atomic Billiards in Cleveland Park.  I honestly can’t remember where the other time was.  Anyway, I went up to her to talk.   I didn’t mention anything about her looking like (or being) Sandra Bullock – just tried to talk with her but I have to say she was pretty underwhelmed.  She blew me off both times.  Then after that I told her I knew who she was.  Again, she was a little bit unimpressed.  Oh well.

So here you have it.  I’m going to add pictures later.

  1. Linda Hamilton, Terminator
  2. Linda Hamilton, Terminator II
  3. Franka Potente, Bourne Identity and Bourne Supremacy
  4. P.J. Soles, Stripes
  5. Jacqueline Bisset, Class
  6. Sigourney Weaver, Ghostbusters
  7. Jill Clayburgh, Silver Streak
  8. Linda Fiorentino, Vision Quest
  9. Sharon Stone, Basic Instinct
  10. Anne Bancroft, The Graduate
  11. Katherine Ross, The Graduate
  12. Anne Archer, Patriot Games
  13. Julia Roberts, Ocean’s Eleven
  14. Sandra Bullock, Speed
  15. Lucy Liu, Charlie’s Angels
  16. Jessica Lange, King Kong
  17. Debra Winger, Officer and a Gentleman
  18. Halle Berry, Swordfish
  19. Robin Wright Penn, Forrest Gump
  20. Ashley Judd, Double Jeopardy
  21. Phoebe Cates, Fast Times at Ridgemont High

Honorable Mention:  Lynda Carter.  I know she was a TV actress and hardly did any movies, but I had to include her on the list. She can occasionally be spotted in Bethesda, MD and looks as great as ever.

Anyway, I’m sure I’ve missed a ton of attractive actresses but this is the list.  It was almost a year ago that I did the list of the most beautiful newswomen of 2008, and that blog entry has gotten more traffic than all my other blog posts combined.

So as I put this one up, and the previous one just below this, part of the hope is that more people will read the other parts of my blog that deal with www.mikeneedsakidney.com, which by the way, isn’t just for me but is designed to raise awareness for all people who need kidneys.  While I’m on the topic, check out the song that the Dirtbags, the Redskins Appreciation Club band did for me.

“The Rogue” and “Liberty” — Movies Coming in 2010

May 22, 2009

There are a couple of intriguing thriller movies slated for release in 2010 that are already starting to get some buzz. 

The Rogue (http://www.theroguemovie.com) is about a CIA officer who hunts down terrorists in Afghanistan only to learn there is a conspiracy and he is in the middle of it. 

Liberty (http://www.thelibertymovie.com) is about a woman who has psychic powers.  The government wants to use her and won’t take no for an answer.  

Both movies have excellent casts and are written by Yasmin Naficy.

The Rogue.  No one quits the agency. 

Liberty is under Total Control.

100 Best Movies

April 12, 2009

Here’s a list of my 100 favorite movies.  This isn’t a list of the 100 greatest movies of all-time, just my 100 best of all-time.  I include a few old movies – keep in mind that I’m only old enough to remember movies from the mid-70s on, plus older ones that I’ve seen on TV.

The list is kind of random – I’m sure there are some I’ve forgotten, I don’t like horror movies or mafia movies, and I do like action movies even though they’re not always the best reviewed.  I include action, drama, comedy, sports, documentaries, and a little bit of romance.   So here are my top 100 movies of all-time.

1.       Bourne Identity (and Bourne Supremacy and Bourne Ultimatum)

2.     Return of the King (and the Two Towers and the Fellowship of the Ring)

3.       It’s a Wonderful Life

4.       Stripes

5.       Terminator (and Terminator II)

6.       Raiders of the Lost Ark

7.       Rocky (and Rocky II)

8.       The Fugitive

9.       Memento

10.     Point Break

11.     The Wizard of Oz

12.     Back to the Future

13.     Airplane

14.     Slap Shot

15.     Risky Business

16.     Animal House

17.     Braveheart

18.     Forrest Gump

19.     The Graduate

20.     Stir Crazy

21.     The Game

22.     The Vikings

23.     Star Wars (and the Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi)

24.     Silver Streak

25.     Hoop Dreams

26.     The Firm

27.     Planet of the Apes

28.     Fast Times at Ridgemont High

29.     Surfwise

30.     The Da Vinci Code

31.     An Inconvenient Truth

32.     Vision Quest

33.     Swingers

34.     Kramer vs. Kramer

35.     First Blood

36.     Bad News Bears

37.     Planes, Trains, and Automobiles

38.     Patriot Games

39.     Tequila Sunrise

40.     Borat

41.     Kurt and Courtney

42.     Sicko

43.     The Dirty Dozen

44.     When We Were Kings

45.     Die Hard

46.     E.T.

47.     Caddyshack

48.     Clear and Present Danger

49.     Back to School

50.     Jagged Edge

51.     Ghostbusters

52.     Basic Instinct

53.     King Kong (1933)

54.     A Beautiful Mind

55.     Trading Places

56.     Lethal Weapon

57.     Enemy of the State

58.     Naked Gun

59.     When Harry Met Sally

60.     Minority Report

61.     Elling

62.     The Pelican Brief

63.     New Jack City

64.     The Lion King

65.     Awakenings

66.     Wall Street

67.     No Way Out

68.     Good Will Hunting

69.     Back to the Future III

70.     Sneakers

71.     Casino Royale

72.     Splash

73.     Dead Poets Society

74.     Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom

75.     Speed

76.     Jaws

77.     Rain Man

78.     True Lies

79.     War of the Worlds

80.     Rocky III

81.     Close Encounters of the Third Kind

82.     Miracle

83.     Octopussy

84.     U.S. Marshals

85.     Platoon

86.     Paycheck

87.     Time Bandits

88.     John Q.

89.     Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade

90.     Hangover

91.     Wedding Crashers

92.     Sixth Sense

93.     Sex, Lies, and Videotape

94.     Déjà vu

95.     Breakfast Club

96.     Iron Man

97.     Jackass

98.     Stand By Me

99.     Office Space

100.   Spy Game

Honorable Mention:  Coming to America, This is Spinal Tap, Shawshank Redemption, Total Recall, Ocean’s Eleven.


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