“Esther and Me” at the CJFilm Festival Inspired Me


I’ve been attending the Columbus Jewish Film Festival for the past few weeks. I’ve really enjoyed all the films. I think independent movies are the best movies being made today.

Today I saw a short little film that really spoke to me. It is called  “Esther and Me.” It was directed by Lisa Geduldig. She made a little film about a very charismatic woman that she met in a Jewish nursing home in New York.

Geduldig meets Esther, a resident of the nursing home, when she runs an activity at the nursing home. . She strikes up a friendship with Esther, who is in her late 80’s.  She used to be a gorgeous fashion model, and then had a career as a stand-up comic. The pictures of her in her youth are particularly striking. Even in her old age,  Esther still looks pretty good.

Her marriage, if she had one, is entirely left out of the film. There is a mention of her daughter, but we don’t meet her. We do know that she has grandchildren because they make an appearance.

Why I liked this film

Although Esther has been sick, and has a shaky hand, she is still vital. She cares enough about herself to still put on makeup everyday. She still makes jokes, and is the life of the party. She enjoys going to the theater and staying up until 11:00 talking to Geduldig.

It reminds us that just because you’re getting old, you’re still a human being who wants and needs recognition, and has something to contribute. Esther seems like she’d be fun to be around. She still has style, and likes to go out. She hasn’t given up on life, and is a fighter, not a complainer!

The most exciting part of the film was when Geduldig gives Esther a chance to do her stand-up act in front of a crowd, and she gets a standing ovation.

Esther gives me some hope

The one message I got out of the movie is you’re not out of the picture until you take yourself out. Although I’m not close to being 89, I am getting close to 65.  It is a little daunting. I always do have the security of knowing I’m not alone. (The Baby-Boomers are quite a presence.)

It also served as a reminder to really talk to the people you admire while they’re still on this earth. Better yet, use your expensive gadgets to document them

Are there older people in your life who inspire you?

Lisa G & Shelley Berman

Lisa G & Shelley Berman (Photo credit: lisagsf)

Arnold is trying to come back with his book “Total Recall: My Unbelievably True Life”


Arnold and Maria at the Special Olympics in Sh...

Arnold and Maria at the Special Olympics in Shanghai, PRC (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Last night I watched Arnold Schwarzenegger on TV. Why? He’s obviously a slime ball. After all, didn’t he impregnate the maid under the nose of Maria? Wasn’t he accused of groping  starlets?
Although he is a creep, there is something disarming about Arnold. Is it his sincerity, his obvious regret about messing over Maria? His guts about confessing that he’s a complete creep? His nerve to tell the whole sordid story to make money?

I wonder about the poor kid  (his out-of-wedlock son Joseph) who is the victim of all this. Arnold says he’s taking care of him and his mother, the infamous maid. Isn’t Joseph going to be sitting on a shrink’s coach for most of his life? ( Not to mention his in-wedlock children.)  Arnold said he didn’t acknowledge him until he realized he looked like him. I don’t buy that one.

I’m thinking people in California think he’ a dolt. I don’t know how he did as Governor. You could enlighten me.

There was always something about his positive attitude. His voice had to be dubbed in his first movie, Conan the Barbarian. Despite all that, he became a movie star.

I never liked his acting. I had to suffer through some of his movies with my son. (You’ll do anything for your kids).

But I find myself hoping Maria will forgive him. I might even buy his book, “Total Recall:My Unbelievably True Life,”  and I always get books from the library.

Yes, Arnold is coming back. I’m sure he’ll make a ton of money on the book. The American public, like me, is just too curious. And we are just too forgiving. I guess we might admire Arnold’s nerve. There’s something so American about his brashness and belief in himself.

On second thought, I may put myself on the waiting list at the library. Maybe I shouldn’t fatten Arnold’s wallet.

What do you think?

“Trouble with the curve “needs a lot of straightening out


Amy Adams at the 83rd Academy Awards

Amy Adams at the 83rd Academy Awards (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Maybe I’m just having a bad day, but I found “Trouble with the Curve” embarrassing.  Poor acting, and an implausible plot.

It’s about Eastwood, an aging baseball scout, who has a poor relationship with his daughter. She helps him on his baseball scouting job because John Goodman (his friend) pleads with her to help good old Dad. She walks away from a good law job where she is trying to become a partner  of a law firm to do this.  She has a lousy relationship with Eastwood in the first place, so why would she want to help him?

Eastwood goes to his wife’s grave to sing “You are my sunshine.” How hokey is that? The date on the headstone is 1945- 1984. That means that Eastwood, who is 83, would be married to a woman a lot younger than him. I don’t think so! ( Unless you are a rich movie star.)

First of all, why would an 83-year-old guy, Clint Eastwood,  be scouting baseball players for a major baseball team? Not only is Clint old, but the other actors who play scouts seem pretty old too. I guess this was to make Eastwood seem like a 50 something kind of guy. (The movie would’ve  been better with a 50 or 60 something actor playing the part.)

My other problem is the actress, Amy Adams, who plays his daughter.  I do think she should go to acting school. She used the same tone of voice through the movie, and it was annoying. She does have nice long hair which she flips around a lot.

I had trouble buying that she would be Clint’s daughter, but Eastwood did have his 30 something son playing a  minor part in the movie. (Clint is a movie star, after all.) In real life, Adams would’ve passed for his granddaughter.  Their relationship seems so distant that it’s hard to believe she would leave her important law job to help him.

Justin Timberlake plays her love interest.  He does take off all his clothes, except his underwear if you’re looking for a little thrill. There is practically no chemistry between Adams and Timberlake.

The story is one of those feel good movies with a happy ending. If you like baseball trivia, you might enjoy some of the patter going on between Timberlake and Adams. If you can suspend your belief system, you might be able to buy this movie.

I have to give Clint credit for acting although he’s too old for the part.  He’s about the only one besides John Goodman who seems to know how to act.

If you are  a baseball fan, like the actors, and enjoy a predictable story—this movie is for you.

My View of the documentary, “Obama’s America”


Cover of "Dreams from My Father: A Story ...

Cover via Amazon

Sept 9, 2012

Obama’s America is a documentary by Writer/Director Dinesh D’Souza, an Indian born intellectual. It’s based on some writing he’s already done on Obama. D’Souza’s formerly worked for Ronald Reagan. He’s now president of a Christian conservative college in New York.

He traces Obama’s parentage. He claims the biggest influence on Obama was his absent father, a Kenyan native political figure who hated colonialism.   He even goes so far as to bring in a psychologist to discuss Obama’s possible feelings toward his absent father. It reminded me of Clint Eastwood talking to the empty chair at the Republican Convention.

If you know anything about Obama’s life, you will know that he only spent one month with his father. Obama’s mother was an anthropologist who pushed Obama to get a good education. When Obama was in high school he lived with his white grandparents in Hawaii to attend a good private school.  If you heard his speech at the Democratic Convention he referred to both of them. His grandfather served in WWII, and was a mediocre salesman. His grandmother worked her way up the career ladder in a bank. You would guess that maybe they influenced him more heavily than a man he spent a month with, and corresponded with on and off.

D’Sousa also takes sections of “Dreams From my Father” to make his case. It’s all out of context, and he plays fast and loose with it.  He makes a big deal of the fact that the book is not entitled “Dreams of my Father.”  I though it was  a pretty big leap. He even tracks down one of Obama’s half-brothers who is living in a shack in Kenya. I guess this is to prove that Obama isn’t a nice upstanding individual. He can’t get the  half-brother to bad-mouth Obama. He does try.

He also brings up all the old conspiracy theories again. At least he doesn’t question where Obama was born. According to D’sousa Obama was born in Hawaii. Last time I heard it was part of the USA.

He spends half the movie following Obama’s path during his childhood.  He even goes to Indonesia to guess what Obama might have gotten out of living in that country with his mother and step-father. It reminds D’Sousa of India. (I guess that’s why he doesn’t want to live in either place.)

If you’re an Obama supporter you’re not going to like this documentary. Your going to think he doesn’t prove any of his points. If you are suspicious of Obama, you will probably agree with everything suggested by D’Sousa, irrational as it may sound.

The most important thing is that D’Sousa, like Michael Moore, can express their opinion and make documentaries to support their points of view. Let’s face it. That’s what makes America great.

This is my view not a review.  From my point of view, don’t waste your time.

If you’ve seen it, I’d appreciate your comments!

.

Guys and Dolls: The 1955 Movie: They don’t make em like that anymore!


Guys and Dolls (film)

Guys and Dolls (film) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In Columbus, Ohio, the Ohio Theater ―a palatial old refurbished theater—plays old movies in the summer. Sometimes, it is fun to watch the old movies in a big beautiful theater with a big screen. It’s usually fun to watch them with other people too.  Chances are, they’ll be your age. In this particular theater there is a fine musician playing the organ before the show and during intermission

I had seen the musical, Guys and Dolls,  in various school productions, and even in a semi-professional theater when I was a teenager.  I knew all the words to all the songs, and I don’t even recall consciously learning them.

I enjoyed this movie. First of all, there was a young Frank Sinatra, Marlon Brando, and Jeanne Simmons. They all had chemistry and stage presence that popped out from the screen. It also starred Vivian Blaine, Stubby Kaye, and Sheldon Leonard.

The choreography, scenery, costumes and acting were good enough to make me forget it was 2012.

It really brought back the old days. Another time with old over-sized cars, men wearing actual hats, and women wearing dresses.

The main characters even took a trip to Havana, Cuba, to have a romantic interlude. There were no bedroom scenes, only a kiss.

It  portrayed Jean Simmon’s character as being very naive. Luckily, women’s roles have changed in 45 years.  Her character didn’t know that milk laced with alcohol would get her drunk. Maybe there are still naive women like that out there, but I doubt it.

There was also nothing but white actors in the movie. Back in those days, the races didn’t mix. In that respect, times are better.

it proved to be a very sentimental escape from me. It brought back memories of my childhood and family. It brought back the days when my life was ahead of me, and I could fantasize about what would happen to me when I grew up.  It was fun to connect with my true inner child.

If you get a chance to rent this movie, turn off the lights, and maybe you’ll go back in time too.  Sometimes, it’s fun to revisit the past. You never know what memories might surface.

“Rock of Ages” the Movie was just okay


Rock of Ages (musical)

Rock of Ages (musical) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Before I left to see Rock of Ages, I checked out some quick reviews. It wasn’t really going over with the critics, but I went to see it anyway.

I enjoy the rock music of the 80’s and I enjoyed the songs, and the choreography.  The story was secondary, and it was pretty weak. The story took place in 1987. I also liked the costumes and the scenery.

The movie  features Juliana Hough, Alec Baldwin, Tom Cruise, Katherine Zeta Jones, Mary J Blige, Julianne Moore, and Diego Boneta

I knew what I was in for a few minutes after it started. Julianna Hough (Sherrie Christian) starts singing on the bus to Hollywood and the other people riding along joined in. It was hokey, but cute. The poor girl gets off the bus, someone says “welcome to Hollywood,” and steals her suitcase. A little reality there.

Boneta ( Drew Boley) and Hough are the boy and girl who fall in love. They both seem pretty nerdy. You really didn’t care whether they fell in love or broke up.

Tom Cruise (Stacee Jaxx) depicted a self-centered star who drinks, drugs, and sleeps around. I’m guessing this role wasn’t a big stretch for him. He just misses with his portrayal, but it was almost on target. His singing was surprisingly good.

Juliana Hough is adorable, and has a good sweet voice. Unfortunately, she didn’t dance much except on a pole, and she didn’t really do much on it. (She used to be on Dancing With the Stars) .

Mary J. Blige has a fantastic voice, but she had a very minor role. She also had a lot of charisma for the brief time she was on the screen.

Hough was adequate as the main character who is sweet. It was familiar. She played the exact same character in the latest version of “Footloose.”

The other Julianne Moore was good as an uptight reporter who loosens up toward the middle of the movie. Her acting was the best, but that’s not saying much.

Alec Baldwin (Dennis Dupree) and Russel Brand ( Lonny) served as the comic relief. Somehow, Alec Baldwin, wasn’t that great. I couldn’t forget he was Alec Baldwin playing a role.  There is a homosexual moment in the movie. Even that wasn’t that interesting.

Catherine Zeta Jones (Patricia Whitmore) over-acted, and her American accent sounded forced. To her credit she is beautiful, and she can sing and dance.

Some of the familiar songs were, “Hit Me With your best shot,” Harden My Heart, Can’t Fight This feeling, and “Anyway you Want it.” There were more songs, and I liked them all. They picked the biggest hits.

I do judge movies on whether or not I’d be willing to watch them again. Not this one.

I give it a C+. The plus is for the music.

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel: A Movie About Aging and India


Judi Dench at the BAFTAs at the Royal Opera Ho...

Judi Dench at the BAFTAs at the Royal Opera House in London. Français : Judi Dench photographiée lors de la soirée des British Academy Film Awards dans le Royal Opera House à Londres. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If you think old age is an excuse to sit around and vegetate, maybe you ought to see the movie The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.

If you are older, you will recognize some of the outstanding English actors in this production. It’s all about a group of seven retirees who don’t want to stop living because they are older.

They trek over to India to stay in The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. Like them, the hotel has seen better days. It is run by a dreamy young optimistic Indian man who is trying to forge his own identity. He has trouble standing up to his mother; she doesn’t want him to marry his beautiful young girlfriend, or run a hotel.

The retirees soon learn that the young Indian man,  computer enhanced the hotel in his advertising, and  it’s not what he promised. However, the guests learn to like it and they improve along with the hotel.

The theme of this movie is that life doesn’t stop for you just because your get old; unless you just give up, and wait to die. We all know people who are perfectly willing to use old age as an excuse for not accomplishing anything.

The acting in this movie is terrific. Evelyn Greensleeves (Judy Dench) finds out her husband was not good at finances and she is flat broke. Luckily, she gets herself to The Exotic Marigold Hotel, and starts her new life. She also finds a job in a phone center. (I won’t tell you how or why). One man reclaims a lost love,  a few conclude their looks can’t get them what they are used to getting.  A couple has to come to terms with their marriage.

The characters are still interested in their lives, and they still are adventuresome. Some have lived with poor choices they made when they were young.There are stories about loss and love. Other noteworthy actors include: Maggie Smith and Hugh Dickson. It is refreshing to see these people practice their craft so skillfully.

If you’ve ever been curious about life in India, this offers you glimpses of how different and colorful life is there. People who have visited there, or are curious, might enjoy that aspect of the movie.

The only criticism I have of this movie is it was too long. I started wondering if it was ever going to end.  When the ending came, it was satisfying.  Maybe a wee bit of fantasy there, but it is a movie!

I would recommend this movie if you’re older. I don’t think younger people would appreciate it as much—nothing explodes and there isn’t much blood and guts.  The story about the young Indian and his beautiful girlfriend isn’t enough to hold a young person’s interest.

I was happy that the actors were about 10 or more years older than me! It made me feel momentarily young. I’m no spring chicken myself!

I give this movie a B+

Agree or disagree with my review?

How do you feel about getting older. Are you aging gracefully, or is it difficult for you?