Rest in peace, Jerry Van Dyke Our deepest condolences to Dick Van Dyke and family on the loss of one of TVs legendary comedians. Jerry was the younger brother of Dick and played along side him on episodes of the The Dick Van Dyke Show as well as Diagnosis Murder. My favorite episodes were both based on sleepwalking. But he also had his own career. He played Luther on the TV Series, “Coach.” What were your memorable Jerry Van Dyke moments?http://start.att.net/news/read/article/fox_news-jerry_van_dyke_comedian_and_actor_dead_at_age_86-rfoxnews/category/entertainment#.WlGrMW4BfU4.email
Took my Mom with me to the Amazon screening of “Wonder Wheel” on Wednesday night at the Santikos Bijou Theater. It was an unusual screening experience in that there were very few people in attendance and neither any official reviewing press nor any studio representative(s) were present. The movie itself was a bit of a disappointment.
The wonder wheel is the Ferris wheel at Coney Island in Brooklyn, New York. “Wonder Wheel” the movie is set in 1950s Coney Island and is about a dysfunctional (to say the least) family that lives above the amusement park. It is obvious that director, Woody Allen, intentionally used the imagery of the Wonder Wheel because the story goes completely full circle and leaves you wondering. Not much changes in the lives of the characters from the beginning to the end.
If you are from Brooklyn or have roots from there you may want to see the movie for the nostalgic memories that either you, your parents, and/or your grandparents shared from the early 50s. It should be noted that what the movie lacks in storyline, it makes up for with the brilliant performances of the actors, who are in roles like you’ve never seen them before. Kate Winslet is superb in her role as a frustrated Brooklyn housewife. If you didn’t know it, you would really believe she is from Brooklyn. Jim Belushi gives an intense demonstration of his acting skills as a man struggling with alcholism. Justin Timberlake also rocks the Brooklyn accent. JT also looks cute in the one-piece lifeguard suit!
My mom, a Brooklyn native, was impressed by the authenticity of the music, costumes, props, locales, cars and the all-around atmosphere of the Coney Island boardwalk and amusement park. We both agreed that the movie didn’t necessarily leave the audience hanging, it was just a metaphor for life. The lesson being relayed is that life is like a Ferris wheel ride; it continuously turns and if we don’t get off, we wind up right back at the beginning.
As we exited the theater, one of the patrons yelled out loudly, “I’m upset there is no studio rep here is because I can’t tell them that that movie sucked.” I wouldn’t go that far as to say it “sucked,” but I would recommend waiting until it’s out on video. Perhaps Amazon isn’t quite ready for the big screen? – BMT
This is really getting out of hand. Matt Lauer made some hypocritical statements about other offenders over the last few weeks. Disgraceful.
Men, keep your hands and lewd comments to yourself. Women, if it happens to you, report it ASAP. If management doesn’t listen, move up the ranks.
Today Show did the right thing in letting him go – but if they received complaints before and did nothing – shame on them! – BMT
RIP @davidcassidyofficial Thank you for the music, memories and making us happy! What girl growing up in the 70s and 80s (courtesy of reruns) wasn’t in love 😍 with him and wished he was singing, “I think I love you” To them? I know I did. Condolences to his family @shauncassidyofficial May his memory be eternal. #RIP #heartthrob #davidcassidy #poplegend
To all my followers of Reviews of the Arts SA, I’m thankful for your support. Wishing you and your families a Happy Thanksgiving. – BMT
I screened the movie “Wonder,” among a full house of adults and children, at the Regal Cielo Vista Cinema on Wednesday night. Since I did not read the book by R. J. Palacios, I didn’t go in with any expectations. I did hear that it was going to be a tear-jerker but admittedly, forgot to bring tissues. So, if you don’t get anything else out of this review, trust me, bring tissues. The screenplay, written by director, Stephen Chbosky, along with Steven Conrad and Jack Thorne, intertwines funny and heart-wrenching moments throughout the entire 1 hour and 53 minute runtime.
Rated PG, Wonder is the story of a ten-year old boy named, August (“Auggie”) Pullman born with a rare genetic disorder called mandibulofacial dysostosis also known as Treacher Collins Syndrome (TCS.) Jacob Tremblay, gives a great performance as Auggie, who despite his distorted face, is a normal, loveable kid. The story is told by multiple viewpoints, opening with Auggie’s point of view. Auggie feels that he is not an ordinary kid. But after watching this movie, you will come to the conclusion that he is correct, he’s not ordinary; he’s extraordinary! Jacob Tremblay is adorable!
Julia Roberts plays his mom, who is torn between being over-protective and allowing Auggie to learn how to function in the real world. Her performance is flawless. Owen Wilson plays his dad, who also worries about Auggie, but he’s more of the “fun” parent – he too is perfectly cast. Izabela Vidovic plays Auggie’s teen-aged sister, Via. She’s had to live in her brother’s shadow because he’s had 27 surgeries in his short life. Izabela does an impeccable job portraying the overlooked child, who has more responsibilities placed on her because her parents are busy tending to her “sick” brother. She says that August is the sun and she, her mom and dad, are the planets that revolve around him. Being raised in a Greek/Italian household and the oldest of two brothers, I can sincerely relate. Sons generally tend to be the “chosen ones” of families. Though she understands why Auggie needs her parents’ attention, Via can’t help but feel neglected.
Auggie has been home-schooled, but his mother wants him to go to regular school and thinks this is a good time since all the kids will be new to the middle school. Auggie is scared. His sister whispers in his ear, to be himself, not to fit in when “you were born to stand out.” A Dr. Seuss quote. As he expected, he is met with ridicule and extreme bullying. But he carries his mother’s advice with him, “If you don’t like where you are, just picture yourself where you want to be;” and “. . . be the bigger person.” The other child actors in this film, Millie Davis, Noah Jupe, Bryce Gheisar, Elle McKinnon, and Danielle Rose Russell are also fantastic – you’ll have flash-backs from middle school – or junior high if you’re from my generation!
There are so many important life lessons to be learned from this movie by adults and children alike, lessons about friendship, love, compassion, acceptance, courage, and why society should adopt a universal, zero tolerance for bullying. The principal, Mr. Tushman, played by Mandy Patinkin, makes a profound statement to the parents of one of the bullies. I think it sums up the theme perfectly. He said, “if we can’t change the way we look, maybe we can change the way we see.”
As we were leaving the theater, a parent asked her child which was better, the movie or the book. The kid’s reply was, “I liked the movie better because I didn’t have to read it! Then she said, “plus, the movie was a lot more touching than the book.” It was very touching. I highly recommend this movie as a perfect family outing during Thanksgiving break. Please let me know what you think of my review and come back and tell me what you thought of the movie. I’d love to hear from you. Thanks – BMT
“Thank You for Your Service” is a rated R movie adaptation of David Finkel’s best seller by the same name. The movie is produced by Jon Kilik, best known for “The Hunger Games” movies. Executive producers are Ann Ruark and Jane Evans. This is director and screenplay writer, Jason Hall’s first entry into the directorial arena and I don’t think it will go unnoticed by the Academy. (The 90th Annual Academy Awards will be on March 5, 2018.) Hall also wrote the screenplay for “American Sniper.” Last week on the “Harry” show. Harry Connick, Jr. asked why he wanted to make this movie. Hall said that he wants people to understand the sacrifices our soldiers make. He gets two thumbs up for that!
Based on true events , “Thank You for Your Service” is an eye-opening story about the unbelievable lack of a program for transitioning from soldier to civilian and the tragically deficient health care system in place for our combat veterans, especially when it comes to mental health. The title can be construed as being sarcastic in that when veterans come home the military basically sends them home to navigate their way back into society with a “see ya later, thanks” attitude.
The movie follows the story of five soldiers that served an 11-month tour of duty at Camp Rustamiyah in Iraq in 2007.
Staff Sgt. Adam Schumann
As the lead character, Miles Teller gives an astounding performance as Staff Sgt. Adam Schumann. He comes home to his wife, Saskia, played by Haley Bennett, and their two children, one an infant son, from whom he is a bit detached, since he is meeting him for the first time – another subtle revelation of the sacrifices made by soldiers and their families. Schumann returns not only with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD,) but feeling guilty for the death of his Sgt. First Class (SFC) and his friend’s handicapped state, even though he was given high honors for his actions during those same events. Teller does a great job portraying the kind of friend you would want to have your back at home as well as on the battlefield. There is no doubt this is the kind of man Schumann is.
Joe Cole plays Will, who the guys nicknamed “Chip,” probably because of the chip he appears to have on his shoulder. He is excited to get home to his fiance, but comes home to an empty house, the utilities cut off, no note, and his calls to her keep going straight to voicemail. Despite the offer of support from his “brothers,” his depression gets the best of him adding to the guilty feelings of Schumann.
Specialist Sol Aieti
Beulah Koale gives an emotional performance as Specialist Sol Aieti, an American Samoan, who became an American citizen after enlisting. He comes home to a pregnant fiance, Alea, played by Keisha Castle-Hughes. He has brain damage caused by a head injury he got on the mission that lost SFC Doster. He has PTSD and constant hallucinations of Doster (I’d call them “daymares” – if there was such a word.) He also displays the symptoms of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE,) but the army won’t help him because they don’t seem to have a record of his being on that mission! As if that should matter – they knew he was stationed there! Though he’s virtually “thrown to the dogs” (pun intended) by the army, he is a loyal soldier that keeps saying, “the army saved my life.” He is completely lost now and just wants to return to the battlefield. It seems the soldiers don’t know how to define themselves other than being soldiers. I guess it’s a phenomenon similar to “Stockholm Syndrome;” they want to go back to a routine where even though they were in constant danger, their purpose was well-defined.
SFC James Doster
Amy Schumer gives an uncharacteristically serious and convincing performance as the grieving widow of SFC James Doster, played by Brad Beyer. As I mentioned, Adam, Sol, and Will are all struggling with PTSD and are particularly plagued by memories of the death of SFC Doster and the events leading up to it. When they de-board the plane, she immediately rushes to them to ask if they were with her husband when he died, but they avoid communicating with her because they are burdened by the guilt that he is gone and they survived. This is a problem that most of us civilians, including military spouses do not understand. These vets have seen so much death and evil that we cannot imagine and they harbor survivor’s guilt. It’s a heavy load that they keep bottled-up inside and it causes many to commit suicide or turn to drugs and alcohol to numb the pain.
Scott Haze plays Michael Emory, a soldier that was shot in the head during an ambush. Emory is severely handicapped and Schumann blames himself for dropping him while going down a flight of stairs trying to get him medical assistance. Though he probably has his own nightmares, his role is that of the optimist who is just grateful to be alive.
The guys realize that it is important for them to talk about what they are feeling. They seek help from their local base, but are put on year-long waiting lists, so they turn to the VA for assistance where they are shamed by their superiors who don’t want them to “send the wrong message” to the young people newly enlisting. So they try to battle their mental demons on their own.
Saskia, through Bennett’s performance, paints the picture of the supportive yet unaware spouse. She continually tries to get him to open-up, but he can’t talk about it. She accompanies him to an appointment at the VA. A few points that stuck in my mind were when the VA Rep. told her, “there is no cure for trauma.” It is sad that the VA realizes that hundreds of thousands of veterans come back suffering from mental trauma, yet there are not enough resources to take care of those that come asking for help and if they don’t come asking for help, no one is checking on them. (When we hear that the government is making “military cuts,” realize this is one of the areas that is “cut.”) It is tragic that nothing will cure them, but if they can get immediate and proper treatment, they can learn to cope. Additionally, in this scene we learn that Schumann has been bestowed many honors. As they are leaving his wife asks why he didn’t tell her that she was married to a hero. He doesn’t see himself that way, he’s so depressed and down on himself. Coincidentally, as I was writing this, on the TV in the background, I heard Dr. Phil being interviewed. They were talking about the heroism displayed by so many in the recent Vegas tragedy. Dr. Phil said, “I don’t think crises make heroes. I think crises reveal who you were before it happened.” Probably 99% of our soldiers do not see themselves as heroes; they feel that they are just doing their job and being who they expect themselves to be. I guess you could substitute “war” for “crises” in Dr. Phil’s sentence and draw the conclusion that combat soldiers are born heroes.
The last image of the movie is the same image shown in the beginning – a vast array of dog tags slowly twirling and glistening like golden pendants. I think this is director Hall’s artistic way of driving home an important point – our men and women in the armed forces are our nation’s most precious jewels and we should admire, honor, and value them as such.
I found this movie to be deeply emotional and was infuriated to learn that not enough help is provided to our post 9/11 soldiers when they get home. While they are active duty, they “belong” to the government, but once they become civilians they are basically on their own. Every adult American, especially the family and friends of combat soldiers should see this movie. There are so many movies that show the losses and victories of combat, but very few movies show the silent battles veterans face when they return to “the land of the free.” Many look at our armed forces as video game characters and make thoughtless comments or ask shallow questions. A cab driver in this movie asked, “did you kick their *sses?” Meanwhile, the soldier is trying to take in the sights and scents of freedom; the clean, fresh air that we civilians take for granted. When they come home all in one piece, we have no idea what they’ve seen and had to endure.
Several years ago (probably around 2007) I had a friend in his mid-20s who just got home from Iraq and was working part-time. He had trouble sleeping and often called me late at night. He told me that he slept with a machete under his bed. It was hard for me to comprehend why, when he was now home and safe. He really couldn’t explain it to me, except to say that he was “messed-up.” Mental wounds are just as bad, if not worse than physical ones, but if you are not a mental health expert, they are impossible for the average person to understand. Mental illness can make it difficult to focus and thus render a person unable to work or handle everyday activities. This often gets misconstrued by family and friends as laziness. I know this from my own personal experience, but that is another story for another time.
I mentioned at the beginning that the movie title can be taken as sneering, however it can also be taken literally as reminding us that the first thing we should say, when we see our men and women in uniform, is – “Thank you for your service,” but it should be followed-up with a thoughtful question. Ask how they are feeling, what was it like, if they need any assistance, do they have a place to stay, and what it feels like to be home. Maybe they don’t have a home to go to and maybe we can help. They’ve bravely served us, now that they are back from combat, we need to think about how we can be of service to them.
As the credits roll, the somber singing by Bruce Springsteen of the traditional army chant known as the “Freedom Cadence,” really gets to the point of the movie – “Some say freedom is free, but I tend to disagree, I say freedom is won by the barrell of a gun.” I think we need to remember that and stand tall and be reverent the next time the “National Anthem” is played.
If you are or know a soldier who is suffering from PTSD, CTE, depression, anxiety, anger, and/or other post-deployment or combat related mental health issues, please seek help. Contact one of the below listed facilities. As I close, let me say that I, personally, thank you for your bravery and service. – BMT
The Pathway Home, Inc., 100 California Drive, Madison Building, 2nd Fl. Yountville, CA 94599 – Telephone Number: (707) 948-3031 or email firstname.lastname@example.org – (This was a facility featured in the movie.)
or Cumberland River Behavioral Health at 1-(800) 273-8255
or one of the providers listed in this link: https://www.thankyouforyourservicemovie.com/veterans#MentalHealth