Weekly Wilson - Blog of Author Connie C. Wilson

"There is a tide in the affairs of men, which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune; omitted, all the voyage of their life is bound in shallows and in miseries." (Julius Caesar; Act 4, Scene 3).

Donald Trump, Republican front-runner.

Why Won’t Donald Trump Release His Tax Returns?

Why Won’t Trump Release His Tax Returns?

For the first time in modern history, a candidate running for President on a major party ticket is not releasing his tax returns.

Why not?

The 6 best guesses are courtesy of Chris Cillizza of the Washington Post, one of 3 news outlets (the New York Times and the Des Moines Register being the other two) that Donald Trump has recently banned from covering his campaign for various slights or offenses he doesn’t like (it doesn’t take much when you’re as thin-skinned as Donald Trump):

1) The Donald may have Russian business ties.

2) Donald Trump did not pay any taxes at all for 2 years in the seventies. Speculation is rampant that he has not paid his fair share of taxes since then. A 1981 report by New Jersey gambling regulators showed that Trump did not pay any taxes for 2 years in the seventies because he reported negative income—which brings us to number 3.

3) Trump may not be as rich as he claims. He once said he was worth $10 biliion. Others have said he is worth $3 billion. Still others insist he is worth far less than either of those numbers. Michael Bloomberg, former Mayor of New York City, is not impressed with Trump’s wealth, saying he is a con man at the DNC.

4) Trump may donate very little to charity, despite claims to the contrary. I’m sure we all remember when he skipped a debate in Iowa to raise money for veterans, but then didn’t donate the money until newspapers tracked down whether he had actually raised and donated as much ($6 million) as he claimed. The tracking down forced Trump to make good on a campaign promise to chip in a large amount of his own and made us aware that the $6 million was actually only $5.6 until the research outed the entire process and showed that he had not put in his contribution until the day after the Washington Post’s David Fahrenthold printed the true story. Farenthold also found that his charitable giving to that point was less than $10,000.

5) He is being audited. This is pure bunk. Richard Nixon released his taxes while being audited in 1973. My husband ran 2 H&R Block locations and says there is no reason that an audit should prevent him from releasing his tax returns, which many others have confirmed.

6) Trump may have Mob ties. This idea has circulated for years. Ted Cruz on “Meet the Press” said, “There have been multiple media reports about Donald’s business dealings with the job, with the mafia. Maybe his taxes show those business dealings are a lot more extensive than has been reported.” (Of course, Trump claimed that Cruz’ father was somehow complicit in the assassinaton of JFK, so…..

In other breaking non-tax-return news, Melania Trump’s website that claimed she earned an architecture degree before becoming a model (she didn’t) has been taken down.

“The Infiltrator” Delivers with Heart-Pounding Suspense

“The Infiltrator” is Bryan Cranston’s new film. It is based on the 2009 Bob Mazur book about his experiences as an undercover agent for the FBI. Mazur was the federal agent infiltrated one of the largest drug syndicates in the United States, and suggested “Operation C-Chase,” which would follow the money instead of the men. [As I just spent July 5th within FBI headquarters in New York City hearing, firsthand, about undercover work from the experts, as a part of the ITW (International Thriller Writers) Conference, the film was particularly timely and relevant for me].

Directed by Brad Furman (“The Lincoln Lawyer,” “Runner, Runner”), the quest for the rights to make the film took two and one-half years to obtain, as many other high profile stars were in a bidding war in Hollywood to secure the rights, including Leonardo DeCaprio and Tom Cruise.

As Bad Furman told Frank Gonzales in an interview entitled “Inside the Infiltrator,” “Fortunately for us, one of my best friends from college, Don Sikorski, who is a producer on the film, brought the book to my attention. We both loved it and tried to go through official channels to obtain the rights with no luck. So, with nothing to lose and in true investigative journalistic fashion, we tracked down Bob Mazur’s phone number and I cold called him.”

CAST

The upshot is one of summer’s best films, with stand-out performances from star Bryan Cranston and extremely good support from John Leguizano, whom Director Furman described as “one of my dearest and closest friends.” He went on to tell Gonzales, “I’ve known Benjamin Bratt (Alcaino) and Yul Vasquez (Ospina) for 20 years and Diane Kruger (Kathy Ertz) and I had met on a movie a few years prior, so I’ve had deep personal relationships with the core base of actors in this movie, and I think it paid wonderful dividends for me, for them, and for The Infiltrator.”

SCRIPT

Another close tie that really enhanced enjoyment of the film was the great script by Furman’s own mother, a well-known Hollywood scriptwriter, as Furman added, “My mother really wanted to show the balance Mazur struggled with in trying to have a family and in trying to do his job. Bob was going back and forth from Tampa to Miami and he was away from his wife and children. Mom really brought out how hard that was for Mazur. She was also able to show how even drug lord’s lives were influenced by their families. She should get a lot of credit for her brilliant work in crafting a screenplay that got it right.”

Leguizamo has some of the film’s best lines and his performance is as stellar as Cranston’s. It is made clear from the beginning of the film that Mazur (Cranston) is leery of working with the Hispanic fellow officer, who seems to like to live life on the edge. He asks that he not be assigned to work with him, but is told, “He’s your way in.” Leguizamo’s character wants to pay a snitch he knows $250,000 to assist them, but Cranston is skeptical that the man is trustworthy, saying, “These people who sell information…they walk on the dirty side of the street, and then they cross over to the clean side, but their shoes always stay muddy.”

Pretending to be Bob Musella (Cranston) and Emilio Dominguez (Leguizamo), the duo scores a better office to work from. (Leguizamo says, “ This is so much better than our old place. It was so filthy even the rats ran from it.”). Cranston’s sidekick is incredulous that he has just turned down a nice, safe retirement offer, saying, “You and the kids and the wife could be playin’ cricket on a yacht or whatever-the-hell it is white people do when they retire.”

But that’s just the point: Bob Mazur doesn’t want to retire and, in fact, he did not after the bust—despite going deep undercover to infiltrate Pablo Escobar’s drug-trafficking plaguing the nation in 1986, by posing as a money-laundering businessman named Bob Musella. The impulsive and streetwise Hispanic agent Emir Abreu (John Leguizamo) and a rookie female agent who poses as his fiancée, Kathy Ertz (Diane Kruger) the two pull off befriending Escobar’s top lieutenant Roberto Alcaino (Benjamin Bratt) to the point that Alcaino says of the bogus engaged couple, “We love them like family.”

QUOTES

In one memorable exchange, Alcaino comments on a hit on a different infiltrator, Barry Seal (played by a virtually unrecognizable Michael Pare, once Eddie in “Eddie and the Cruisers”), saying that he had 2 rings made of coca leaves and gave one to Barry Seal and had him to dinner at his home. Alcaina says, with disgust, “I wasted my knives on the meat.” Adds Alcaino (to Mazur): “The politicians think it’s a drug war, but it’s a business like any other. Trust is necessary. Without it, there is no loyalty, and without loyalty it never ends well.”

Completely trusted by Alcaino, Mazur learns about “the anonymous window” of the Federal Reserve Bank, which has been allowing the CIA to fund a secret account that helped fund Noriega’s Contra organization. ($10 million of Escobar’s money was frozen by the bank). All this led to the Reagan years Contra scandal, which inspired another Leguizamo scripted line: “Ronnie should have stayed the Gipper. He is nothing but a God damned two-bit drug pusher.”

PACING, CONFUSION

The movie is exceptionally well paced, although some of the exciting near misses are inscrutable and difficult to decipher as a first-time viewer. Why is that man apparently following Mazur in a car as Mazur completes his morning jog? Who was that guy silently observing Mazur talking to Emir (Leguizamo) from across the street? The time/city locations are also a bit difficult to follow (Is this Miami or Tampa?) and I am still wondering how a group with as much money as Pablo Escobar’s drug outfit couldn’t have run a more in-depth background check on imposter Bob Musella, and/or why the criminals wouldn’t have, at the very least, bugged the room that the supposed engaged couple shared, to see what they were discussing. But that’s probably just me; a second viewing cleared up my confusion.

The good news for the U.S. is that 85 drug lords and the corrupt bankers of BCC (Bank of Credit and Commerce International) which laundered their dirty money were taken down by two brave agents who risked their lives and played their parts as well as any Hollywood actors.

“Captain Fantastic” & “The Infiltrator” Best Movies of the Summer So far

For those of you tired of the seemingly endless supply of children’s animated films and/or Marvel Comic spin-offs, two new movies for serious film buffs offer respite this summer season, and I highly recommend them both.

First (because I saw it first, in Chicago, with the director present) would be “Captain Fantastic,” and, no, it is NOT a Marvel picture. Ross even told the impressed audience who had just sat through the film, that he was unaware that there was a comic book movie of the same name, as well as an Elton John album, but that he likes “powerful titles.”

PLOT

Ben Cash (Viggo Mortensen) has removed his children from society, living a seemingly idyllic life in the woods of Oregon. (Note: Director Matt Ross, himself, attended Julliard by way of Ashland, Oregon). The main character opts to educate his children on his own, but, as Matt Ross told “CineArts” magazine: “If we’re analyzing Ben’s faults, it is that he really hasn’t prepared them in terms of socialization to the world outside. He has this idea that, in order to really teach his children his values, he needs to take control of their education and their environment. In a larger case, that is true for everyone. We send our kids to school and hope that it’s the truth that they are being told and taught.”

Q&A

After the showing of the film at the AMC Theater in Chicago (it opened July 13th), Ross answered questions for the audience, and many of them had to do with the casting process for the children and the lead, played by Viggo Mortensen.

First, let it be noted that this is a film about family and the other great film of the summer (so far), “The Infiltrator” with Bryan Cranston, is also a film about family. Said Ross: “I think all great dramas are about the family. Look at The Godfather. What is it really about? It’s about family. Tonally, it’s a very different movie, but about family.” A great line from “The Infiltrator is this one, articulated by Benjamin Bratt’s character: “Without family or friends, what kind of world would this be? There would be no reason to be alive.”

Ross—who has an impressive array of movie and television roles to his credit, including Alvy Grant in “Big Love,” as well as roles in “American Psycho” (2000), “Face/Off” (1997), and “The Aviator” (2004)—both wrote and directed “Captain Fantastic” and it won him the Best Director award at Cannes for new directors, something he admits pleased him immensely.

BACKGROUND

The writer/director was also able to draw on his own life experiences as the product of a mother who was active in the eighties in commune-type life in North Carolina and Oregon, explaining that his parents were “artisans who didn’t’ want to live in cities, but in harmony with nature. I also lived in London and some people had electricity and plumbing. Some did not. We celebrate Noam Chomsky Day (Dec. 7th) at my house.” (A recurring film point).

Ross also admits that becoming a father, himself (he has two children) was a factor in the film’s genesis, saying, “For me, personally, the reason I wanted to tell this story is because I have two kids and I was certainly thinking, ‘What are my values? What do I want to teach my children?’”

The conflict in the film comes when Matt Cash’s wife, who is bi-polar, dies. Matt (Viggo Mortensen) and his unorthodox family are not exactly welcome at the funeral being planned by her father and mother (Frank Langella and Ann Dowd). It is obvious that Claire’s father (Langella) may blame Ben for his daughter’s death, and they have no intention of honoring her wishes of having a Buddhist funeral, cremating her remains and scattering her ashes. It is this crusade on the part of her husband and children to honor her wishes in death that becomes a major plot point, as they drive to the funeral destination, cross-country, on their family bus.

CONFLICT

One reviewer dissed this plot idea, but it serves the purpose of injecting even more conflict into the plot and making Ben Cash aware of how his own viewpoint about the world might not be the only point-of-view that his young children should be exposed to. In one of the most poignant scenes of the entire movie, Viggo is simply shown driving the bus, thinking that he has sacrificed his entire family to society (i.e., giving them up to his wife’s parents to raise) for their own good.

VIGGO MORTENSEN

Mortensen displays why he is such a perfect choice for the role and what a great actor he is during that scene, which consisted of no dialogue at all, but simply his own communing with his thoughts as he drives.

Ross said, during the Q&A, that Viggo Mortensen was his first choice to play the role, and it is quite easy to understand why if you know anything about Mortensen’s somewhat unorthodox lifestyle. Aside from Gary Busey, I’ve not read more stories about a leading man who “lives off the land” and generally has unusual idiosyncrasies in his personal life. Said Ross during the Q&A of the film in Chicago: “Viggo is always very real and very simple. On paper, the main character was more of a playful father. Viggo had a bit more of a center for him. Any actor will make a part their own. With actors, you get to see their work habits. For most people, you are not cognizant of the mechanics. Great film moments are great acting moments. Some directors do not like actors, but I have acted and I don’t feel that way. The answer is that I believe that if you’re reading and playing instruments and you are intelligent, you are right for these parts.

Ross even shared that Viggo showed up early with definite ideas about Ben Cash’s character. Said Ross: “He (Mortensen) helped build the set. He came a couple of weeks early and slept in the tipi before and during the shoot. He built the garden by himself and made sure it was a functional garden that would sustain itself throughout the year. He showed up with a pick-up truck full of props and books. We had an excellent prop department on hand, but he felt very strongly about what kinds of books the characters might read. I wanted to cast someone I believed could really live in this environment an actually understands what he’s talking about.” Said Ross to “CineArts’ Frank Gonzales, “That’s a tall order. You need an actor who can portray someone who is well spoken, well read, and very intelligent. These are challenges you have to navigate with casting, but with Viggo you absolutely believe it!”

Q1: What about the children in the film? How were they cast?

A1: “It was a traditional casting process with Jean Carthy doing the casting. We cast in Canada, New Zealand, Australia and the United States. We had an extensive call-back process. I wanted kids who were fit, who could play musical instruments. All the goods are objectively good actors, but I made judgment calls based on their spirit. For some kids, there was only one choice. I wanted them to look like Viggo’s—that they could be from the same gene pool. We were in Washington state for two weeks. Then we sent the kids to a wilderness camp: rock climbing. Rehearing music. Esperanto. Two girls actually killed a deer. Yoga. Viggo was learning to play the bagpipes. Training changed their eating habits during the time of shooting. Ultimately, we wanted them all to fall in love with Viggo. (*The children were Bo: George McKay; Rellian: Nicholas Hamilton; Kielyr:Samantha Isler; Vespyr: Annalise Basso; Zaja: Shree Crooks; Nai; Charlie Showell).

Q2: Talk a little about your directing style.

A2: I went through the script, line-by-line, and talked them through it. The way I like to work is they have their lives and they could follow them and improvise. I’m not propping up a dead object, but creating a living, breathing thing. Charlie picking his nose around the fire because he forgot he was being filmed is an example of that. Film is a collaborative medium.

In this way, Ross’ words echo the sentiment expressed regarding “The Infiltrator” in Frank Gonzales’ “CineArts” summer film guide this way: “All great moments in sports, in moviemaking, and in life are not done alone and in a vacuum. Just as a pro-golfer or tennis player needs a coach to nurture and push their talents to championship levels, a great movie is usually the result of a team of actors and artists working together to reach unprecedented heights. And the coach that gets them there is the director.”

Q3: What’s the deal with the Noah Chomsky references recurring throughout the film?

A3: (*Noah Chomsky is an intellectual who is far, far left). For me, personally, I think he’s a brilliant human being, a great humanitarian. You’d have to ask him about making his birthday (December 7th) a holiday like Festivus. He’s still alive. He might be appalled.

Q4: Talk about the opening scene of the movie, shot in the wilderness and involving the death of a deer.

A4: There is a tradition of felling a deer with nothing but a knife. I think it is felt that, in that way, they honor the deer. (Masai tribesmen sent their young men out to kill a lion with just a spear.)

Q5: When you conceived the story, did you have the backstory of Viggo’s wife Claire being bi-polar?

A5:

"Captain Fantastic" director/writer Matt Ross.

“Captain Fantastic” director/writer Matt Ross.

The short answer is yes. Because of the temporal nature of films, I outline very carefully. Things change when you’re writing it. And then there’s a long rewriting process.

Ross, when asked about how the family was able to survive in the wild (what about money?) said, “I purposely chose not to answer that. I think there are clues in the movie. She had a lucrative law career. I think they have savings and they are frugal.”

More about “The Infiltrator” momentarily.

“DePalma” Is A Dynamic Documentary About Director Brian DePalma

Brian DePalma, 2007

Filmmakers Jake Paltrow (Gwyneth’s brother)) and Noah Baumbach (husband of Greta Gerwig; ex-husband of Jennifer Jason Leigh) used their access to renowned filmmaker Brian DePalma to make a documentary about his life and work in 2015.
Succinctly entitled “DePalma.” the documentary features DePalma talking about his life and work, with little interference from his two friends and fellow filmmakers of the next generation (age 46 in Baumbach’s caes). (Baumbach received an Oscar nomination for original screenplay for “The Squid and the Whale).

EARLY LIFE

DePalma confesses that his home was not a happy one and relates how he once followed his father (an orthopedic surgeon) to a tryst his dad was having at his office, breaking in, confronting him with a knife, and demanding to know where “the other woman” was hiding. He tells the story humorously, but we see a snippet of a similar plot device from “Dressed to Kill” with Matthew Modine and realize that DePalma’s early life influenced his films, as it will for anyone involved in a creative endeavor.
For instance, he dismisses his fondness for gore by relating how his father used to take him to the operating theater to watch him operate. “Real blood is more brown,” he says casually, discussing the Karo syrup make-up of the bright red buckets of blood used in films like “Carrie” and “Dressed to Kill.”
DePalma was also one of the first male students to be admitted to Sarah Lawrence when it went co-ed. You get the impression that he enjoys watching beautiful women from his voyeuristic films, but you also learn he was married three times, all of them brief liaisons. He has two daughters, aged 25 and 20, while DePalma, himself, is approaching his 76th birthday on September 11th.

THE DIRECTORS’ GROUP

DePalma was one of the breed of directors who helped one another and encouraged one another and grew up together in Hollywood, fighting the system. The group included such luminaries as Stephen Spielberg, George Lucas, Paul Schrader, Martin Scorsese, Francis Ford Coppola, Ridley Scott, John Carpenter and John Milius. Commenting on today’s filmmaking process, where the bean counters have taken over, DePalma says, “The Hollywood system we are now working in destroys any creativity. This is not working.”
Most of the documentary is about battling with the studio or with actors (Cliff Robertson, Orson Welles, Tommy Smothers) or others (Bernard Herrman). Bernard Herrman, who is known as Hitchcock’s composer for nearly all of his films, was “scary,” according to DePalma.

BERNARD HERRMAN STORY

DePalma tells a story about inviting Herrmann in to view a film he was going to score. The filmmaker had placed a temporary musical score with the film, consisting of previous compositions Benny, (as he calls him), had done for Hitchcock films. Herrmann grabbed his head, as DePalma tells it, with a laugh, and says, “Get that sound out of here! I can’t work with that going on!” The workmanlike Herrmann would then watch the film, go home, write the music, and, generally send a very usable score in a very short time. DePalma recalls that Benny was working on both “Taxi Driver” and one of his own films at the same time, around Christmas, when he went to a showing of “Taxi Driver,” directed the orchestral accompaniment for that Scorsese film, went back to his hotel and died.

HITCHCOCK INFLUENCE

Over the years, DePalma was always compared to Hitchcock, and admits that seeing “Vertigo” at Radio City Music Hall when he was 18 in 1958 set the template for his filmmaking career. While he would do documentaries at times and sometimes turn out films that did not seem to be “Hitchcock Light,” he is the single director most associated with using a Hitchcockian style. As film critic Roger Ebert once said, “It is not just that he sometimes works in the style of Hitchcock, but that he has the nerve to.” You could add to that, “and the talent to pull it off.”

When DePalma was good, he was very, very good. I watched the end of “Carlito’s Way” on the big screen at the Music Box Theater in Chicago before the documentary began. I had just watched the entire film on video while vacationing in Cancun, start to finish. The extremely long shot of Al attempting to get on the escalator at Grand Central Station is a masterpiece. The scene where Pacino runs through a subway car on his way to the train station to meet his love and flee to Miami was highlighted by this story from the director.

“We were shooting on a subway train next to the one Al was running through. The trains had to be moving and we had to keep the speed of one train the same as the other, so as to keep the shot framed. It was difficult and it was made more difficult by the fact that it was about 110 degrees in New York City in summer and Al was wearing a long, heavy leather coat in this tremendous heat as he ran through the subway car. We shot the thing over and over until it was about 4 in the morning, when, suddenly Al’s train just left and pulled away. I said to the A.D. (assistant director), ‘What just happened?’ He said, ‘Al took the train home.’ I had to go to him in his trailer and, when I got there, he was all red and hot and sweaty and yelled at me, ‘What are you doing?” DePalma laughs.

CLIFF ROBERTSON STORY

His stories about Cliff Robertson’s performance in “Obsession” opposite Genevieve Bujold centered on Robertson’s appearance. He insisted on being extremely tan to the point that cinematographer Vilmos Zsigmond dragged the actor over to a wainscoted tan wall and screamed, “I can’t light you! You’re the same color as the wall.” DePalma also mentioned Robertson would fade and lean out of frame so that the camera would have to follow him, leaving poor Bujold to try to find a spot to focus on.

EARLY FILMS

Interspersed with DePalma’s amusing storytelling style are shots of the films that influenced him and shots of his own work. Watching a 1963 film with a very young Robert DeNiro (billed as Denero), then only 20 years old, acting in “The Wedding Party” which wasn’t released until 1969) is a hoot!

Even re-watching the end of “Carlito’s Way” brought with it the new realization that fellow University of Iowa classmate Nicholas Meyer (director of “Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan” and “Time After Time”) was the music supervisor for the film. Given the fact that Viggo Mortensen has just appeared in another film I loved (“Captain Fantastic,” from the Sundance Film Festival and winner of a first director award at Cannes), I was reminded that he had a role as a crippled man in this 1993 film shot 23 years ago.

TECHNIQUE


DePalma is a firm believer in using unusual camera angles to make things interesting and says, “It is the run-up that is interesting…The waiting is very important so you can ground yourself.”
He also talked about the writers he had worked with, such as David Rabe, saying, “I came up in the era that you went down with the writer,” meaning that the firing of a writer would mean you walked as the director. He had some unkind words for Oliver Stone, who came onto his set and began distracting the actors by giving them conflicting directions so that he had him removed. At the time, Stone’s credit was for 1981’s “The Hand.” It was only 3 years later that DePalma would direct the now iconic video for Bruce Springsteen’s “Dancing in the Dark,” which gave Courtney Cox her chance to dance her way to stardom onstage with The Boss.

After Bernard Herrman no longer was around to score his films, DePalma worked with Ennio Morricone, as well, who has been an influence on Quentin Tarantino, as has DePalma himself.

Said DePalma of directing: “Being a director is being a watcher…You have a lot of egos in the room.” He also talked about his many budget and rating battles with the studios, saying, “You can lose yourself trying to make compromises.” He talked about haggling over a certain film that, he said, was going to cost $1.8 million (a pittance in today’s dollars). The studio made noises about letting him go if he couldn’t bring the film in for $1.6 million, so he went in the next day, talking a good game and saying that, if he cut this or that, perhaps he could do it for $1.6 million. And, said the self-confident director, “Then I shot it the way I had always intended to and it cost $1.8 million.” He also told an amusing story about cutting one of his films numerous times to avoid the “X” rating that was considered the Box Office Kiss of Death. After submitting it three times to the review board and getting an “X” rating three times for “Body Double,” he said, “I said. Okay, so it’s an ‘X’. And then I put back in everything I had previously cut out.”

If you are as big a Hitchcock fan as I was, you’d expect that there’d be at least 20 imitators lined up behind DePalma to carry on the tradition of Alfred Hitchcock, but, alas, we have the Marvel World of Filmmaking now and there is no one who will pick up the torch after DePalma—who is soon going to be 76—hangs it up.

Here is a partial list of his film from IMDB, not counting his documentaries or short films…or the one he’s working on now:
Feature films[edit]

Year Film Director Producer Writer Editor Subject Award
1968 Murder a la Mod
Greetings Silver Berlin BearNominated—Gold Berlin Bear
1969 The Wedding Party
1970 Hi, Mom!
Dionysus in ’69 Nominated—Gold Berlin Bear
1972 Get to Know Your Rabbit
1973 Sisters
1974 Phantom of the Paradise Avoriaz Fantastic Film Festival — Grand PrizeFrench Syndicate of Cinema Critics Award for Best DVD Single DiscNominated—Hugo Award for Best Dramatic PresentationNominated—Writers Guild of America Award for Best Original Comedy Screenplay
1976 Obsession
Carrie Avoriaz Fantastic Film Festival — Grand PrizeNominated—Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation
1978 The Fury
1980 Home Movies
Dressed to Kill Nominated—Golden Raspberry Award for Worst DirectorNominated—New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best DirectorNominated—Saturn Award for Best Director
1981 Blow Out
1983 Scarface Nominated—Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Director
1984 Body Double
1986 Wise Guys
1987 The Untouchables Blue Ribbon Awards for Best Foreign FilmNominated—César Award for Best Foreign Film
1989 Casualties of War 2nd place—New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Director
1990 The Bonfire of the Vanities Stinkers Bad Movie Award for Worst PictureNominated—Golden Raspberry Award for Worst PictureNominated—Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Director
1992 Raising Cain Nominated—Venice Film Festival — Golden Lion
1993 Carlito’s Way
1996 Mission: Impossible
1998 Snake Eyes
2000 Mission to Mars Nominated—Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Director
2002 Femme Fatale Nominated—Sitges Film Festival Award for Best Film
2006 The Black Dahlia Nominated—Stinkers Bad Movie Award for Worst Sense of DirectionNominated—Venice Film Festival — Golden Lion
2007 Redacted Amnesty International Film Festival — Youth Jury AwardVenice Film Festival — Silver LionVenice Film Festival — Future Film Festival Digital AwardNominated—Venice Film Festival — Golden Lion
2012 Passion Nominated—Venice Film Festival — Golden Lion
2015 De Palma

Donald Trump, Republican front-runner.

Buzzfeed Buzzes Trump Campaign by Rejecting $1.3 Mill Buy

Buzzfeed Axes $1.3 Million Ad Deal With RNC Over Trump
Image:
Buzzfeed Axes $1.3 Million Ad Deal With RNC Over Trump
[By Cathy Burke | Monday, 06 Jun 2016 01:45 PM]

So read the headline that outlined how Buzzfeed has refused a deal to run ads designed to elect Donald Trump President in the upcoming presidential campaign, for the same reason that they don’t run cigarette ads, “which can also be hazardous to your health.”

It is becoming clearer and clearer in the lead-up to the actual presidential campaign that Donald Trump is someone who can dish it out, but can’t take it, when it comes to criticism. Perhaps this is because he was born a child of privilege and has lived, literally, in a gilded tower.

But whatever the source of his brash, obnoxious, misogynistic, narcissistic, blowhard personality, the thrice-married Donald is not getting an “A” in “works and plays well with others” nor is he winning any Mr. Congeniality contests, nor is he likely to pick up the votes of Latinos as he continues to go after the Hispanic Federal Judge who is overseeing his Trump University case.

The appearances on television (one with Jake Tapper this past Sunday was particularly revealing) show a man who continually interrupted his questioner to pivot to the topic of how wronged he had been because the judge handling his case was Mexican, (even though he was born in Indiana to immigrant parents). Trump is like a small grade-schooler who, not having gotten his way, says he is going to “take my ball and go home.” The level of maturity from a man approaching 70 is disturbing and terribly offputting for the average voter.

There are few people who like a braggart. Humble is the goal if you’re running for office. There are fewer still who like a con man, a liar and a huckster whose chief response to being called out is to whine, like the child with his hand caught in the cookie jar. Even Newt Gingrich, Trump’s staunch ally and a name bandied about as a vice presidential running mate, knows enough to flee a burning building, and has denounced Trump’s recent racist remarks. Right now, Donald Trump is a burning building.

Former opponents whom Trump bested in the primaries (Marco Rubio, for one) are coming out of the woodwork to proclaim that they saw this melt-down coming. Others, like Paul Ryan, are trying as hard as they can to tap dance away from the onus of anti-Hispanic sentiment that their presumptive nominee is spreading like grass seed on arid soil.(So much for the “autopsy” report the GOP commissioned after their last big loss that said they should try to be more inclusive and court the Hispanic vote.)

But can the old white male vote carry The Donald to victory, anyway? Well, when George W. Bush won, he carried 58% of the old, white male vote. When McCain lost, he had 55% of this segment of the electorate. Romney got 59% of the white male vote. Right now, in exit polls, Donald Trump is polling 52% of the white male vote. And let’s not forget that Romney’s loss in ’12 was a BIG loss. Onlookers can only hope that Trump’s loss will be even bigger, thereby giving Mitt Romney his “I told you so” moment.(Romney openly denounced Trump in no uncertain terms months ago in winter.)

As far as the GOP is concerned, it is just too bad that Mitt Romney, a decent (rich) human being without the common man touch, didn’t wait until this year to run against Hillary Clinton. She is eking out a win over a 74-year-old opponent not on charismatic leadership and likability, but because the Grand Old Party nominated an orange millionaire who won’t release his taxes (Did he PAY his taxes? Clinton has released her tax returns for the past 33 years.), makes no sense, has offered no real solutions for the problems he points out, and has vilified the press, this is likely to be a drubbing of historic proportions.

The State of Texas is seeking $5.4 million from Trump University to pay back the defrauded students. “And you know this case was turned down by almost every attorney general, from Texas to….” said Trump to Jake Tapper on television on June 5th.

Five different Texas codes were violated, according to the state of Texas. Texas state investigators went undercover inside Trump University to make these claims. Huckster. Fraud. Liar. Bait-and-switch. Infomercials for the 3-day $1,495 course used more high-pressure tactics to get customers to pay $35,000 for more classes. The only business tip? Prey on foreclosure victims. And yet Trump’s attorney says that Donald Trump had his finger involved in every aspect of Trump University. The Texas Attorney General then is the Texas Governor (Greg Abbott) now, so the case was dropped when Trump said he’d leave the state never to return. “No one else,” according to Texas officials, “was going to be scammed.”

Yeah…this is the kind of guy you want leading the Free World—-NOT!

Author Central (Amazon) Page

amazon.com/author/conniecorcoranwilson

Radio Interviews on June 1st & June 2nd

“Obama’s Odyssey” continues its national radio tour with 3 stops tomorrow and some special pricing.

The stops will be: 9:30 to 10:30 a.m., CT in Centralia, Illinois on WILY-AM with Tootie Cooksey’s “Hotline.”

11 to 11:30 a.m. on WAMV-AM with Bob Langstaff’s “We the People” in Amherst, Virginia.

Noon to 12:16 on KPCL-FM in Albuquerque, New Mexico with Annette Ayoub’s “Day Brightener.”

In conjunction with the radio tour, Volume II of “Obama’s Odyssey” is FREE for June 1 and June 2. Volume I is only 99 cents in e-book format from Amazon. The easiest way to “click through” and get to the special offers (which will expire on June 2nd) is to go to ConnieCWilson.com and click through, although you can also opt to go directly to Amazon and type in the book’s titles (Obama’s Odyssey: The 2008 Race for the White House) and/or my author name, Connie Corcoran Wilson).

Paperback “Goodreads” Giveaway Ends in 8 hours

I’m giving away 5 autographed copies of “Obama’s Odyssey, Volume I” through Goodreads, to end tonight at midnight (May 28th). I’ve been mentioning it on the national radio tour I’m on, which will continue on June 1st and June 2nd.

If you don’t mind reading the book as an e-book, on those 2 dates you’ll be able to get an E-book copy of Volume II FREE and a copy of Volume for 99 cents, in conjunction with the radio tour, so that is $30 of paperback books in e-book (Kindle) format for under a $1. (Sweet)

Also, I’ll be at the IWPA (Illinois Women’s Press Association) tent from 10 to 2 on the first day (Saturday, June 11th) of Printers’ Row and from 2 to 6 on Sunday, June 12th. Stop by and pick up the nonfiction or fiction books (30 at last count) for special pricing and have them autographed.

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Obama's Odyssey by Connie Corcoran Wilson

Obama's Odyssey

by Connie Corcoran Wilson

Giveaway ends May 28, 2016.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

Can Trump Win? Informed Voters Want to Know

I have spent the past three mornings holding forth on radio stations from Seattle (WA) to Burlington (IA) talking about my books, “Obama’s Odyssey: The 2008 Race for the White House.” Naturally, when you’re on morning drive “live” in an election year, eventually the host (or hostess) wants to get around to this year’s presidential race. Sometimes, I beg off, saying that I’m not actively reporting on this year’s race, which is true—sort of.

The truth is that I started out getting tickets to the candidates as they streamed into Iowa for the caucuses and, if you want to make something of it, I saw twice as many Republican candidates as Democratic (i.e., Jeb, The Donald and Bernie Sanders). I don’t like labels. Or incivility. Or being penned up and vilified as “lamestream media,” so I went as a citizen. I quit after some of the press were physically attacked. (I’m sure you’ve seen the same video that I have seen.) Not my idea of a good time to be penned up so that Donald Trump can hurl insults at me, and that is what is happening with the media who are assigned to follow his campaign.

But the on-the-air radio questions just keep coming about this year, which does have some similarities to 2008. For example, the recent outburst in Nevada from Bernie Sanders followers who felt the rules were being unfairly changed is not unlike the threat by Hispanic voters in 2008 on the floor of the Democratic National Convention to walk out if their candidate, Hillary Clinton, were not the nominee. And, at that time, Hillary was a lot closer to Obama’s total than Bernie is at this time during this race.

Ultimately, Hillary herself had to come down off the pedestal she sometimes seems to occupy in regards to we common folk and urge her followers to support Barack Obama. As the song goes, she “knew when to hold ‘em and knew when to fold ‘em.” She folded, and did so with better humor than many, even ultimately taking a position in the current President’s cabinet as Secretary of State.

So, I’m not in the position I was in ’04, ’08 and ’12 to “predict” based on being “on the ground” and out amongst the common folk. But I have stayed abreast of developments. I have watched all the debates. I have read the thoughts of other commentators from Texas to Chicago to New York and all states in between and of all ideologies (last one read: Charles Krauthammer).

I like to think I’m open-minded, independent, fair, unprejudiced and thoughtful about who should and could represent me abroad with grace , dignity, and expertise, which, I feel, has been the case this past 8 years. I was proud to call Barack Obama and Michelle Obama the President and First Lady of the United States of America. They represented America well abroad.

The policies of President Obama did not always coincide with my own thoughts, but what do I know about running a nation? Nothing. I merely observed developments in places like the Middle East and Egypt and said, “What happens when this guy is gone? What happens next?” And I waited for that other shoe to fall, which it has.

What I don’t do is say, “Let’s behave like spoiled brat schoolchildren and do everything we can to obstruct and slow progress. Let’s read Green Eggs and Ham on the Senate floor while our nation’s credit and image abroad crumbles.”

Or, on a state level, let’s go without a budget for a full year and be so lame about Medicaid payments that it takes 555 days to be reimbursed in Illinois, 49th out of the states in the Union.

Don’t get me wrong. I like Green Eggs and Ham as well as the next reader and even have a Dr. Seuss-like children’s book series (“The Christmas Cats in Silly Hats,” 5 rhyming books).

But back to the subject of this year’s election.
The Koch Brothers have let it be known that they are sitting on their wallets this election cycle. They didn’t like the way their money went down the tubes in 2012 in support of Mitt Romney and they are sitting this one out. Mitt, himself, has made it perfectly clear where he stands on the issue of a President Trump and has only recently given up the effort, forged with political commentator Bill Kristol, to find a third party candidate. Neither Bush ex-President will support Trump after the graceless, classless way he “dissed” brother Jeb. The Republican Governor of Ohio (and third place presidential candidate), John Kasich, in an interview, admitted that he does not know if he can support the presumptive Republican nominee, and this year’s convention is being held in his all-important swing state of Ohio. [In another article, I’ll repeat some wisdom from today’s Chicago Tribune, quoting Trump delegates, but let’s stick to the topic.]

On the question, “Can Trump win?” I would be the last person to say “Never ever.” He will win if good people sit on their hands and do not vote, just as Auschwitz would never have happened if the good people of Germany had stood up and said, “This sort of action is wrong; this sort of behavior is not right. It is reprehensible and it must stop.” That happened in some countries, quite famously, as in Denmark, where all citizens began wearing the Star of David and 99% of their Jewish citizens survived, but obviously collective resistance to something so obviously wrong did not happen enough to save thousands of lives. And I’d like to save thousands of lives that might be disrupted if the wrong person has his (or her) finger on the button. I don’t want the nuclear codes in the hands of a reality TV star with few other qualifications for national office. And the thought of Sarah Pain OR Newt Gingrich serving with him is no longer laughable; it is just sad.

Trump might win if some sort of national emergency were to take place on U.S soil in the run-up to the election, which, alas, is always a threat. He might win if thinkers don’t outnumber disgruntled voters so fed up with politics as usual that they will try almost anyone or anything else, even a guy as polarizing as Donald Trump. And, let’s not forget, he’s a BRAND! He’s on TV. He fired Gary Busey and Li’l John! He refused to remove his surname from his new hotel in downtown Chicago and proved he had negotiated the right to have it appear in letters that are overwhelmingly high. (It doesn’t bother me, aesthetically, but there are those who become apoplectic discussing the downtown Trump Tower building.)

It’s an interesting bit of information that the GOP, after its sound defeat in 2012, did its own internal survey and found that as a party it should be more welcoming, more inclusive, less old and white, if they wanted to win future elections. Like the country of Germany (average citizen’s age: 46), which is growing old and not replacing its youth at a fast-enough clip, the GOP has grown old and white. In 2008 there were 36 black GOP delegates in St. Paul at the RNC, which Conan O’Brien joked at the time “means that there are now 37 African Americans in the state of Minnesota.”

All joking aside, there are books out now with titles like “The Browning of America” and those books take a good look at how the Hispanic vote has swelled from 12% in ’08 to something like 32% now. African Americans go for the Democrat in the race 84% to 9% according to an NBC poll released on May 17th. Latinos go for the Democrat 65% to 28%. Independent voters prefer Hillary to The Donald 44% to 36% and moderate voters say they prefer Hillary 53% to 39%. Women are slowly coming around to Hillary’s side, with a 15 point advantage, but that is largely erased by the 11 points Trump gets from adult white males. Those with just a high school degree like Trump, which is somewhat inconsistent with the later fact that voters who make less than $50,000 a year express a preference for Hillary, while college-educated voters prefer the woman who has been First Lady, Secretary of State and a Senator from New York (not to mention wife of the Governor of Arkansas).

When asked about Speaker of the House Paul Ryan and trustworthiness, poll respondents picked The Donald as more trustworthy 63% to 34%, which should give Paul Ryan some insight into (a) why the ticket lost in 2012 and (b) why Americans, in general, are down on politicians.

But can Trump win? Radio talking heads don’t like to hear a reasoned response based on reality, but the reality is that Trump should be creamed by Hillary in a general election. She is possibly the best qualified candidate to come down the pike in the last 50 years.

But, as I wrote in “Obama’s Odyssey,” way back in 2008, voters told me then (p. 78 of Volume I, on sale today for 99 cents in e-book format), “I won’t vote for Hillary, no matter what.” “Why?” I asked the voters. They told me they don’t “like” her. An Austin writer (reprinted in the Friday the 13th Chicago “Tribune”) Cheryl Wilhelm said that Hillary just doesn’t act like she likes them much, either, so, she says, the feeling is mutual. She went on to say that you don’t have to be a political analyst to know that this spells trouble. Hillary does not have Bill’s gifts as a campaigner. It was evident in 2008 and it is even more evident in 2016. Some of my friends complain about her cackle, her screech, her clothing, her hair. Nothing the woman does or says pleases them. They don’t “like” her. If a national catastrophe strikes OR the smart and educated voters stay home (including Bernie’s supporters, if they refuse to cross over), Hillary could have trouble, because she is not going to get votes because people like her so much and, if nothing else, the recent Kentucky near split should prove that. (Not to mention her loss in Oregon)

Voters did “like” Barack Obama, and still do.

Do voters “like” Donald Trump? And if so, why?

He is brash, obnoxious, overly orange, thrice-married (with in-laws who are card-carrying Communists), overly smitten with Russian leader Vladimir Putin while undersmitten with our traditional allies, the British, (who even considered passing a bill to ban him from the country). He is, as Vanity Fair likes to describe him, “a short-fingered vulgarian.” We don’t even know if the man paid the taxes he owed or is worth anywhere near what he claims, as he has not released his tax returns, something that Clinton has released from the past 33 years.

Sure, it’s nice to hear some honesty from the debate stage, but are we hearing honesty from the stage? What is Donald’s take on abortion or Muslims today? He changes views more frequently than most people change their socks and one astute columnist noted that, like Obama in ’08, Trump is essentially a blank slate with no political record onto which the voter can project his or her own reality.

And is it really necessary to use disparaging nicknames to put down political opponents? Names like “Little Marco” and “Lyin’ Ted” are new to the political process in public, if not in private. (The last person to use nicknames for everyone, George W. Bush, called Karl Rove “Turd Blossom” and was similarly denigrating to others, which they did not appreciate; it’s a sign of a troubled ego.) Usually, the candidate on a debate stage at least attempts to show deference to his or her rivals, but The Donald is rich (or so he says), smart (or so he says) and anything he touches will turn to gold, (as is evidenced by pictures of his personal residence, wherein nearly everything was gold-plated, as though decorated for a Roman orgy.) “It’ll be HUGE!” he says, while wearing his made-in-China red baseball cap.

So, what do I think is going to happen THIS time around to and for the candidate (or candidates) sadly lacking in the “Q” factor, as broadcasters call it?

There are 2 possibilities:

1) If there is a national emergency of some sort, it will all be blamed on the present administration (even though Obama will probably go down as one of our better presidents, probably even one of our great presidents–opening trade with Cuba, passing Obamacare and still trying to achieve the goals he set out in 2008 in the face of unbelievable disrespect) as he saved us from the brink of collapse during the sub-prime mortgage scandal.) Everything could blow up in HRC’s face if that emergency happens.

It is worth noting on the negative side that no Big Bankers went to jail to pay for that economic sub-prime mortgage mess, and I agree with those who have dubbed our Middle East policy “feckless.”

2) Voter turnout will be pathetic and that could be disastrous. This year’s flawed candidates seem so bad that many obituaries are cropping up with lines like, “She chose death rather than having to vote for Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump,” or “In lieu of flowers, please do not vote for ____________.” (Fill in the candidate you would not like to see win.)

But talking about using nuclear weapons in Europe, building a wall between the U.S. and Mexico which THEY will pay for, deporting 11 million illegal immigrants, banning ALL Muslims and generally acting like old white men in an isolationist pose that no longer works in the days of the Internet is equally “feckless.”

The Donald says he will “make America great” again, but he has no specifics as to how he might do that. He doesn’t even seem to know the names of leaders of other countries or where those countries are. It is doubtful that he understands the intricate process by which a bill becomes law. He has announced Supreme Court nominees at a time when the current do-nothing Congress won’t move forward in conducting hearings for the nominee of the sitting president, a questionable act and yet another example of disrespect. (Hear the guy out; you can always vote against him!)

The names I’ve seen bandied about for potential VP (Chris Christie notwithstanding) are has-beens (Newt Gingrich? Sarah Palin?), know-nothings, or both. They are like the cast of “Dancing with the Stars.” One such name mentioned, Joni Ernst from Iowa, was just elected in the northwest corner of the state, Steve King’s bailiwick, where conservatives gather and give him term after term, despite his reactionary views and some stupefyingly dumb things he has said and done. She barely has her political feet wet, but she does have bad hair akin to Donald’s, so there’s that. [They could form a “Bad Hair Club.”]

So, since we are now talking about the Steven Kings of life, let’s end with the words of THE writer Stephen King, “Donald Trump is an entertainer, a carnival man, a buffoon. His followers are white, scared, and angry. He will never be elected, not as long as minorities, liberals and educated people vote. But he has certainly exposed the ugly underbelly of conservatives in America today.”

Driskell Hotel, Austin, Texas

Specific Times & Stations for Radio Tour

It was pointed out to me that potential listeners would not know, from my previous post, what station to tune in to (if they happened to be in cities ranging from Ocala, Florida to Minneapolis, Minnesota to Seattle, Washington.)

So, here is a more specific update by station and show and time for May 18th, Wednesday, only. There will be an additional 5 stations on May 19th and then it will jump till June 1st.

Don’t forget: on May 18, 19, 20 and June 1 and 2, you would be able to download BOTH “Obama’s Odyssey” books for a total of 99 cents, because of the radio tour. Volume II will be totally free and Volume I will only cost 99 cents (normally $4.99) for the dates mentioned here.

Wednesday, May 18:
1) Harrogate, TN, WCXZ-AM with Tom Amis in the Morning from 7:30 to 7:40 a.m.
2) Willmer, MN, KWLM-AM with Bill Dean’s The Morning Brew from 7:50 to 8:00 a.m. (*Note: Bill Dean once attended the Mason City, IA, auctioneer college.)
3) Charleston, SC, WTMA-AM with Charlie James from 8:06 to 8:16 a.m.
4) Minneapolis, MN, KBEM-FM, with Ed Jones from 8:40 to 8:50 a.m.
5) Charlotte, NC, WSAT-AM, with Buddy Poole from 8:50 to 9:00 a.m. (*Note: Buddy is now General Manager of the station, but he owned it up until 2014.)
6) Lexington, KY, WMST-AM, Dan Manley’s Mid-Mornings on Main from 9 to 9:30 a.m. (*Note: this is a full half-hour on Kentucky radio. Yee haw!)
7) Hartford, CT, WJJF-FM with The Lee Elci Show from 9:40 to 9:50 a.m. (*Note: Lee used to play pro baseball with the St. Louis Cardinals.)
8) Ocala, FL, WOCA-AM, Larry Whitler’s The Source from 10:05 to 10:15. (*Note: This is a Fox News Outlet).
9) Festus, MO, KJFF-AM, Matt West’s The Morning Magazine from 10:30 to 10:40 a.m. (*Note: Festus, Missouri, is just south of St. Louis, I’m told.)

Thanks to all the radio hosts and wish me luck at those hours in the morning!

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