Et Tu, Matt? Matt Lauer fired from NBC

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! – BMT2832px-matt_lauer2c_may_2009_28429

Advertisements

Rest In Peace, David Cassidy

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 ūüėć 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 IMG_3825

Happy Thanksgiving

IMG_3824To all my followers of Reviews of the Arts SA, I’m thankful for your support. Wishing you and your families a Happy Thanksgiving. – BMT

Planning to see “Wonder?” It opens tonight. Check out my review and tell me what you think

via Movie Review – “Wonder” is Extraordinary!

Movie Review – “Wonder” is Extraordinary!

13903354_547373992118160_5134283992449717803_nI 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. ¬†¬†18582065_677791469076411_6673081395783239762_n

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!

23319550_750711508451073_1267344684669255359_n

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.¬†22552575_741072239415000_7206454157344952997_n

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 better6548645, 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

(Images obtained from https://www.facebook.com/WonderTheMovie/ and http://rjpalacio.com/book.html)

“Some Say Freedom is Free, but I Tend to Disagree. . .” “Thank You for Your Service” – Movie Review

Source: “Some Say Freedom is Free, but I Tend to Disagree. . .” “Thank You for Your Service” – Movie Review

“Some Say Freedom is Free, but I Tend to Disagree. . .” “Thank You for Your Service” – Movie Review

IMG_20171024_185014

“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.

Will Waller

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.¬†

Michael Emory

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. РBMT

The Pathway Home, Inc.,¬†100 California Drive,¬†Madison Building, 2nd Fl.¬†Yountville, CA 94599 –¬†Telephone Number: (707) 948-3031¬†or email info@thepathwayhome.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

“Victoria & Abdul” – A Royal Friendship Swept Under the (Persian) Carpet

It is difficult to express how much this movie exceeded my expectations. ¬†Of course from the previews and the photo ads I knew it was going to be a historical tale of two friends, maybe even two lovers. ¬†I was expecting the royal charm that it did, in fact deliver, but I had no idea that it would be so funny. ¬†“Victoria & Abdul,” a Focus Features film, is as much a charmingly fun movie as it is a bit of a heart-wrenching one.

Historically, and to her subjects, Queen Victoria has been made out to be somewhat of a callous, uncaring ruler, but in “Victoria & Abdul,” we see her in a totally different light. ¬†No better actress could have been chosen to play the Queen than, Dame Judi Dench. ¬†To say she is stupendous in this role would be an understatement.¬†Danny Cohen, the cinematographer, should be commended for the beautiful scenery which at times, especially during the harbor scenes, felt as if postcards were coming to life.

Ali Fazal plays Abdul¬†Karim, who¬†was sent from India in 1887 to present Queen Victoria with a special coin called a Mohur, which was minted in honor of her “Golden Jubilee” (a celebration commemorating her 50th anniversary as Queen.) He’s given specific instructions not to make eye contact with her, as is the rule for all non-royals. Somehow, he manages to catch her eye, she finds this amusing and their friendship ensues. Queen Victoria is so intrigued and becomes so obsessed with¬†Abdul¬†that the royal household thinks she’s lost her mind.¬†Director, Stephen Frears, uses the artistry of close-ups to give the audience and intimate view of the Queen’s feelings and true personality. ¬†I personally thought the movie portrayed Queen Victoria as someone who, despite her position of power, was also humble and tolerant of racial differences way ahead of her time.

656212445_1280x693

Abdul teaches Queen Victoria how to write in Arabic

Queen Victoria was the Empress of India, but had never been there because her court feared she would be assasinated. ¬†When Abdul comes to the palace, she is fascinated by his knowledge of history, culture, language, and the Muslim religion and she wants to learn about all of it. She quickly promotes him from servant to teacher; she even gives him his own servant. ¬†To the disappointment of her son, future King Edward VII (“Bertie,”) played by Eddie Izzard, who is¬†a dead ringer for the real¬†the¬†Edward VII, the¬†Queen continually uses her power to bestow royal titles upon Abdul, sometimes even referring to him as “son.”¬†¬†

queen_victoria_and_her_indian_servant_abdul_karim_in_1893

Actual photo of Queen Victoria working with Abdul ready to assist. 

When the Queen passed away and Edward VII became King, he did everything in his power to sweep Victoria and Abdul’s relationship “under the rug,” but nearly 100 years later, a journalist named Shrabani Basu discovered the story and wrote the book on which the movie is based. ¬†I think you’ll find “Victoria & Abdul” amusing and a¬†“feel good” movie to watch with the family. ¬†Note, it’s rated PG-13.

Are you planning to see it? Check back and let me know what you think by posting your comments. – BMT

 

Lorna Shore and Bodysnatcher: The Beg for Death Tour

I’m so sorry this review is so late, but here it is! I shot Lorna Shore and Bodysnatcher for the first time on June 2nd (a long time ago, I know, your favorite photographer has been dealing with a lot of personal stuff lately so I’ve been super slow on this). I will be the first to tell you that my first time will NOT be my last time seeing either of these bands live.

I arrived late to the show, so I was unable to see the first few acts, but I’m positive they were great because when I arrived, the whole crowd was buzzing and the energy in the air was amazing. That being said, Bodysnatcher took the stage and the amazing energy from before was brought to a whole new level of craziness. To be honest, I had never listened to their music before, so I went into the show not knowing what to expect. What I got did not disappoint Their breakdowns were, as I affectionately say, “sick,” and the level of talent and instrument mastery put forth by the whole band was nothing short of impressive, especially considering they were performing in the small room at Alamo City Music Hall.

I had listened to Lorna Shore in the past, but was never really a huge fan of theirs… this is no longer an issue. Their live performance was absolutely phenomenal and 10/10 would go to another one of their shows. They engaged with their fans wonderfully and had the whole crowd moving during their whole set. They played a fairly long set including new songs off their 2017 album “Flesh Coffin” and others such as their popular single “The Absolution of Hatred.” I was hooked after the first note, to be honest, and the whole crowd seemed to be as well.

As I said before, this was my first time seeing both bands live, but it will not be my last. If you haven’t seen either Lorna Shore or Bodysnatcher live or you have and want to see them again, keep up with both bands on their Facebook pages:

https://www.facebook.com/LornaShore/

https://www.facebook.com/bodysnatcherfl/

IMG_9833IMG_9963

-RCT

For more photos, please check out my Facebook page:

https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.1481173121925855.1073741843.1145605195482651&type=1&l=975bcc50c2