Weekly Wilson - Blog of Author Connie C. Wilson

Welcome to WeeklyWilson.com, where author/film critic Connie (Corcoran) Wilson avoids totally losing her marbles in semi-retirement by writing about film (see the Chicago Film Festival reviews and SXSW), politics and books—-her own books and those of other people. You'll also find her diverging frequently to share humorous (or not-so-humorous) anecdotes and concerns. Try it! You'll like it!

What does Black Panther bring to the table?

First of all, it’s Black History Month and time for Black Panther, the film.

February is  the month with the fewest days, but  African-Americans rise to the

occasion by celebrating the achievements of their ancestors in February.

This film is more fit for the occasion because it is the only film in the MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe) to feature a predominately African American cast, an African American director, and great role models for African American children. T’Challa of Wakanda, aka The Black Panther ,made his debut back in 2016 in the heavily  hero populated film Captain America: Civil War.

Now his awesomeness has his own film. It’s not just a blockbuster film.  It’s a movie that’ll feed the culture, the culture being everything that African Americans stand for. Most films either feature African Americans as slaves, maids, or as silly creatures. This is a film where they  got the culture right tying the roots of the film s back to African origins. This film goes beyond the comic book movie cliches of fantasy, explosions, science experiments gone wrong, love triangles, or training montages.

Creed’s director Ryan Coogler who was snubbed at many awards ceremonies. He set

  the film in the fictional country of Wakanda, a hidden kingdom in Africa, one of the

most secretive and technologically advanced countries in the MCU mainly because of

its reserves of the world’s most useful but rare metal, vibranium.

Aside from setting the film in Africa. Coogler and Chadwick Boseman

considered what they could do to make Wakanda and its people more authentic.

Via Youtube /©Marvel Studios 2018

One thing about Marvel is that their stable of characters is diverse. The revolutionary

Stan Lee creator of Black Panther said, “He’s an interesting character that is going

to be such a different a things for the audience to see on screen.”

T’Challa was last seen in Captain America: Civil War  giving the business to everyone that stood in his way but also coming to grips with his father’s death and the knowledge that he has to assume leadership of his country. That is what makes him such a complex character . That is why Black Panther is on a whole other level. He’s not just a hero. He’s a leader of many.

Boseman who has portrayed many African American heroes on screen in the past, will not be alone in this step forward for African Americans in cinema. Michael B. Jordan, Daniel Kaluuya, Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Gurira, Letitia Wright, Angela Bassett and Forest Whitaker are among many others who are helping carry the weight of this film.

It is not just the names that make the movie stand out. It is the message the film is sending. One message is that women of color are fully capable. The women of Wakanda explained what makes the country so special. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly Angela Bassett explained that “It’s a nation that respects and reveres women. They think of us not just as Queens but as the Queen Mother. Mother is the nurturer and the first teacher. That position is embraced. She’s not someone who is off to the side.”

Photo Credit: Entertainment Weekly/ Kwaku Alston/©Marvel Studios 2018

Via Youtube/ ©Marvel Studios 2018

The film is already sold out in pre-order tickets. Advance reviews are positive.  The cultural appreciation is on point. This is a movie that Marvel fans have been waiting for like dinner on Thanksgiving Day.

Black Panther definitely has a lot to bring to the table. I hope everyone is ready for the release February 16th.

Thoughts on This Year’s Oscar Race

Nominations for the 2018 Academy Awards on March 4th were just announced and, to no one’s surprise, the Best Picture nominees are:

  • “Call Me By Your Name”
  • “Darkest Hour”
  • “Dunkirk”
  • “Get Out”
  • “Lady Bird”
  • “Phantom Thread”
  • “The Post”
  • “The Shape of Water”
  • “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”

I confess to having missed one out of that list, which I plan to rectify in the upcoming weeks before the March 4th ceremony. The one I have not seen is “Phantom Thread,” but it is playing near me at the Lamar Boulevard Alamo Drafthouse and contains what is rumored to be the last performance by Daniel Day Lewis, who announced that he was going to stop acting. (Of course, Cher announced her final tour how many times?)

I heard Richard Roper, the film critic for the Chicago Sun Times, say on WGN radio that “Three Billboards” has the inside track now for Best Picture. It is about an empowered woman seeking justice for her daughter’s rape and murder. Empowerment and women’s rights being all the rage now with the “Me, Too!” movement, he could be right. It is a darkly original well-written script directed by its writer, Martin McDonagh (“Seven Psychopaths,” “In Bruges”). Frances McDormand (married to a Coen Brother and star of the original “Fargo”) is always a force to be reckoned with and she certainly is in this film.

The cast for “Three Billboards” is uniformly great, including Sam Rockwell and Woody Harrelson, both of whom were nominated for Best Supporting Actor. I saw “Three Billboards” twice, once in Chicago at the film festival and once when I took my husband to it, because I knew he would enjoy it. It was a true original and I think my assessment on The Movie Blog.com at the time was “original and bad-ass,” both of which still apply. At the time, I was being chastised for ranking movies too high (I only go to movies that I think are going to be good, if possible). I had to find a “bad” thing to point out about the film, I commented that Frances McDormand’s character was unremittingly negative, to the point that it was difficult to “humanize” her, even though an attempt was made in a scene with a deer, and that, in real life, many of her actions would have gotten her arrested and thrown in jail. I also did not like the ending as much as the rest of the film.  I wonder now if the plan was, even then, to potentially have a sequel?

If I were to rank order these films in terms of how much I enjoyed them, rather than alphabetically, as above (“Phantom Thread” excepted, of course), the rank order, for me, would be:

#1: “The Shape of Water”

#2:  “Lady Bird”

#3:  “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”

#4:  “Get Out!”

#5:  “The Post”

#6:  “Darkest Hour”

#7:  “Dunkirk”

#8:  “Call Me By Your Name”

I’m a former HWA (Horror Writers’ Association) member and that means that the idea of the monster getting the girl appealed to me (“The Shape of Water”). When you read my detailed review of the film elsewhere on this blog, you, too, will appreciate the achievement that “The Shape of Water” represents. It was the closing film of the 53rd Chicago International Film Festival and I was blown away when I read through all of the press notes about how much care and effort went into making it. It truly deserves its record number of nominations (13, the most) and I would love to see it win as Best Picture of the Year. I also remember meeting Guillermo del Toro at a previous Chicago International Film Festival, when he was being given a special award, and a nicer man you cannot find.

Because of my connection to writing horror, I was also very happy to see “Get Out!”, directed by one-half of the Key & Peele comedy team, make it onto the list. It was truly a good film and the lead actor, Daniel Kaluuya was great in the lead part and got a nomination for Best Actor. I particularly enjoyed the Golden Globes opening, when host Seth Meyer described the film as being “a black man finds himself surrounded by a group of rich white people who don’t want to grow old.” Then, in alarm, Meyer looked at Kaluuya in the audience of Hollywood actors and actresses and said, “Oh, no! GET OUT!”

“Lady Bird” is another well-written script. It has the distinction of being a film written by and about women by Greta Gerwig in her directorial debut.  It was clever, capturing the essence of the mother/daughter relationship growing up, and much of it was based on Gerwig’s own upbringing in Santa Barbara, California, although she denies being much like Saiorse Ronan’s character of Lady Bird, when she was a teenager. (Saiorse Ronan received a nomination for Best Actress and Laurie Metcalf received a Best Supporting Actress nod playing her mother.)

I took a close friend (who also has a daughter) to the film, telling her it had a good chance of being nominated for Best Picture, and we both enjoyed it (for the second time, in my case).  Laurie Metcalf is great in her part as the mother and Tracy Letts,  a Chicago native and the playwright responsible for “August: Osage County”, came to our screening. He is perfect as the father (who always gets to be “the good guy”), although, in real life, he admitted he had no children. (Something I read he was rectifying right now.) It would be nice to see a small film triumph, but I’m thinking the fine acting in it and the screenplay has a better chance of getting the kudos.

Timothy Chalamet

Interesting side note: Timothy Chalamet, who is nominated as Best Lead Actor for “Call Me By Your Name” also has a part in “Lady Bird.”



Michael Stuhlbarg: Dr. Robert Hoffstetler (aka, Dmitri) in “The Shape of Water.”

His double play  may only be surpassed by Michael Stuhlbarg, whom I met and chatted with on “The Shape of Water” Red  Carpet in Chicago. He portrays Chalamet’s father in “Call Me By Your Name,” has a role as a Russian scientist in “The Shape of Water,” and played the owner of the New York Times (Abe Saperstein) in “The Post,” so he is in three of the nine nominated films.


Quite the coup for this versatile actor, who shared with us that his next project was supposed to be playing Gore Vidal’s long-time homosexual partner opposite Kevin Spacey in a bio-pic. (One wonders what has happened to that planned picture now that Kevin Spacey seems to be persona non grata in Hollywood?)

(L to R) Michael Stuhlbarg, Michael Shannon and Cinema Chicago founder Michael Kutza in Chicago after the screening of “The Shape of Water.”



This picture was taken just as Michael Kutza (founder of Cinema Chicago 53 years ago) said to the two Michaels onstage, “Why doesn’t Spacey just come out of the closet and admit he’s gay?” Both of the actors cracked up laughing. At the time, it was a fairly brave remark, as Spacey had not fallen out of favor and the proverbial s*** had not hit the fan.

Gary Oldman

(Anthony Harvey for Getty Images)


Since it seems a foregone conclusion that Gary Oldman will (finally) get the Best Actor statuette for his outstanding portrayal of Winston Churchill in “The Darkest Hour” I’d like to add that the film is actually very good, as well. It’s not just a case of a good acting job in an otherwise ho-hum film. Oldman truly deserves this honor, after so many, many good roles, and I would be surprised if any of the other actors in the category (Timothee Chalamet, Daniel Day-Lewis, Daniel Kaluuya, Denzel Washington) give him any real competition for the gold statuette.

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Gary Oldman as Winston Churchill in “Darkest Hour”

I would also be surprised if the make-up artists (Kazuhiro Rsuji, David Malinowski and Lucy Sibbick)  for “The Darkest Hour” didn’t cart off the award for Best Make-up and Hair, since their competition is “Victoria and Abdul” and “Wonder.”)


Sally Hawkins as mute cleaning woman Elisa Esposito in “The Shape of Water.”

The nominees are Sally Hawkins (“The Shape of Water”); Frances McDormand (“Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”); Margot Robbie (“I, Tonya”); Saoirse Ronan (“Lady Bird”); and Meryl Streep (“The Post”).  Streep has just announced she will join the cast of “Big Little Lies” next season, playing the mother of Alexander Skaarsgard.


This brings me to the snub of both Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks for “The Post.” Maybe the Academy just feels they have been honored enough, but this was a truly fine and enjoyable film, and an important one in these times, since it deals with attempts to suppress the free press and focuses on the publication of the Pentagon Papers. I was also sad to see that Ridley Scott’s re-shoot of “All the Money in the World” got short shrift and that Jeremy Renner’s turn as Corey Lambert in “Wind River” didn’t get a closer look, but I think it was released too early. The Academy seems to have a short memory for films that aren’t released closer to the date of the actual ceremony.

 Right now, all the momentum is definitely with “Three Billboards” and Frances McDormand, but I am an admirer of “The Shape of Water.” If I may remind viewers, however, Sally Hawkins (previously known for playing the meek sister of Oscar-winning Cate Blanchett  in Woody Allen’s 2013 film “Blue Jasmine”) had to play her role without speaking, as she portrays a woman who is mute. All of the actresses I saw were good (haven’t yet seen “I, Tonya” performance yet) but, for my money, having to play your role completely without words makes Hawkins’ task that much harder and her achievement that much greater. I wouldn’t mind seeing Frances McDormand win because women’s empowerment is today’s buzzword, but I’d really like to see Sally Hawkins be recognized for such a fine job, working under adverse conditions.


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Richard Jenkins

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Sam Rockwell

This category is one of the most difficult to predict. The nominees were Willem Dafoe (“The Florida Project”); Woody Harrelson (“Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”), Richard Jenkins (“The Shape of Water”), Christopher Plummer (“All the Money in the World”) and Sam Rockwell (“Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”).

First, let me say that having two actors from the same film (“Three Billboards) nominated for that film is always detrimental to one of them, but Rockwell, who has labored long and hard in the indie film field, has carted off SAG and Golden Globe honors already and certainly has a quirky, comic role that deserves recognition. But so do the others. Woody is equally good as the long-suffering and fatally ill Sheriff of Ebbing, Missouri. Christopher Plummer, playing J. Paul Getty in the had-to-be-shot-over-from-scratch “All the Money in the World,” is an old pro who does a great job for Ridley Scott, replacing the disgraced Kevin Spacey. The entire film was great and Ridley Scott, who pulled off an impossible task, at the ripe old age of 80, deserved more nominations for this film. Some said Michelle Williams would get a nomination as Best Actress for her role as the mother of the kidnapped grandson of J. Paul Getty, but she did not. I’d really like to see Richard Jenkins win, because he has been so good for so long (played the dead undertaker father in television’s “Six Feet Under“), but has never received the recognition he is due. It also would not bother me to see Christopher Plummer, a veteran actor, get the nod. Having said all that, it seems this is Rockwell’s year. Saw “The Florida Project.” The child actors—especially Brooklynn Prince as Moonnee—-were impressive, but it was not Willem Dafoe’s finest hour or strongest part in a storied career. 


Saiorse Ronan in “Lady Bird”

Nominees are Mary J. Blige (“Mudbound”); Allison Janney (“I, Tonya”), Lesley Manville (“Phantom Thread”), Laurie Metcalf (“Lady Bird”) and Octavia Spencer (“The Shape of Water”). I have not yet seen either Allison Janney, Lesley Manville, or Mary J. Blige, but I’m a big fan of Steppenwolf product Laurie Metcalf, better known to TV audiences as RoseAnne’s television sister. She was terrific as the Mom in “Lady Bird” but somewhat snubbed at earlier awards shows, in favor of Allison Janney, who plays Tonya Harding’s mother. It was interesting to learn that, although both Letts and Metcalf came out of Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theater, they had never shared a stage before “Lady Bird.”


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    Guillermo del Toro

Nominees are Christopher Nolan for “Dunkirk;” Jordan Peele for “Get Out”; Grets Gerwig for “Lady Bird”; Paul Thomas Anderson for “Phantom Thread”; and “The Shape of Water” for Guillermo del Toro. Again, notable snubs to Ridley Scott for “All the Money in the World” and to Steven Spielberg for “The Post.” My heart is with “The Shape of Water.” It was quite the achievement; read the review posted here earlier.

Playwrght/actor (“August: Osage County”) Tracy Letts, at the showing of “Lady Bird” in Chicago.

Without mentioning ALL the categories, I’d like to see “Abacus: Small Enough to Jail” triumph for Steve James and Kartemquin Films in the documentary category. They are headquartered in Chicago (40 years and counting) and this is their second nomination for an Oscar this year, along with “Edith & Eddie” in the Best Documentary Short Subject category. I’d also like to see “The Square” win for Best Foreign Film, “In the Fade” (which I also saw) from Germany seemed to have the inside track, but was another notable snub.


Another interesting odd fact concerns the Best Actor/Best Supporting Actress categories where the one-time former husband/wife team of Gary Oldman (for “Darkest Hour”) and Lesley Manville (for “Phantom Thread”) were both nominated. Oldman has been married 5 times. Lesley Manville was his first wife, whom he married in 1987. He left her in 1989, 3 months after their son, Alfie, was born. In 1990 he married his most famous wife, Uma Thurman but that only lasted two years. He also had a drunk driving arrest in 1991 while out with Kiefer Sutherland (his blood alcohol was 2x the legal limit in California) and has made numerous unfortunate statements that caused him (some say) to be blacklisted in Hollywood for a while. (One was a “diss” of the Golden Globes, which, this year, he seemed genuinely thankful to receive for playing Churchill). His most recent wife is writer and art curator Gisele Schmidt, whom he married in September of 2017, so Oldman will be a newly-wed with about 6 months of matrimonial bliss to his credit in his fifth marriage by the time the awards are televised. Met him during a Chicago showing of “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy” in 2012, for which he was also nominated as Best Actor.

Signs from the Resistance in Chicago on Jan. 21st, 2017

My good friend Mary Gerace took part in the Chicago Women’s March yesterday and has prepared this report on the signs that TV didn’t show us.

“After marching from Columbus and Congress to Michigan Avenue, I stepped up on the sidewalk to do some serious sign reading; I then did the same on Jackson Blvd. These were memorable:

  • I’ve seen better cabinets at Ikea
  • 2018 We shall overcomb!
  • And you thought we were mad last year
  • So, Trump who?
  • Prevent Truth Decay
  • Super Callous Fragile Sexist Racist Nazi Potus
    (Must be of a certain age to get it, I’d say; Mary Poppins would approve.)
  • Witchhunt: I’m a witch and I’m hunting you
  • Respect Existence or Expect Resistance
  • The power of the people is stronger than the people in power! We Decide
  • Does this ass (drawing of Trump) make my country look smaller?
  • (Under photos of Trump, Pence, Ryan and McConnell) Do these asses make my sign look fat?
  • (Drawing of the White House) Sex offenders CANNOT live in government housing!
  • If HILLARY were PRESIDENT we’d all be at BRUNCH
  • EMERGENCY ALERT: Threat to democracy – Inbound to Mar-a-Lago – Seek immediate impeachment -This is not a drill
  • Without Hermione, Harry would have died in Book One
  • Remove the Malicious Mango
  • Out with the Dope, In with the Hope
  • Snowflakes turn into avalanches
  • It takes a snowflake to start an avalanche
  • I am no longer accepting the things I cannot change; I am changing the things I cannot accept.
  • Vote with heart because they don’t have one
  • White people renovating houses, Congressional edition
  • My mom is pissed!!!
  • If you’re not terrified, you’re not paying attention
  • If you’re not angry, you’re not paying attention
  • Too depressed to be funny!
  • The reasons why I march will not fit on just one sign
  • Global warming is not a liberal conspiracy
  • Make America Hate Again! Oh, you thought he meant GREAT?
    Well, you know how he tends to say one thing and do the exact opposite.
    He’s very presidential like that.
  • Norway, please help us!
  • Keep your tweets off my rights
  • Girls just want to have FUNdamental human rights
  • Grab them by the Ballot Box
  • Grab ’em by the Mid-Terms
  • Grab him by the Putin
  • New Public Trust Poll: Trump 24% Gas Station Sushi 26%
  • So sex offenders can’t live within 1000 feet of a park or school but Trump lives in the White House?
  • (Drawing of Trump) I don’t always use mouthwash but when I do it’s Fleet
  • I will not go quietly back to the 1950s
  • REsisters
  • So bad, even introverts are here
  • (Photo of Robert Mueller) Make America Great Again
  • Vaginas brought you into the world; Vaginas will vote you out
  • We aren’t going anywhere except to the polls
  • Trump Shutdown: Nice deal, Donny
  • (Photos of Trump and Kim Jong-un) The Moron Terror
  • I didn’t see my favorite sign from last year this time, but here it is:
  • Give him hell until he goes back there

And that’s your report from the field.”



“Black Lightning” on the CW Premieres for DC Comics Fans

by Zayin Allen

(Episode 1, “Resurrection” trailer.)

The CW has sparked the attention of many DC comic book fans and their new show (debuted January 16th) “Black Lightning” has electrified the entire network.

The first African-American superhero in DC Comics, Black Lightning debuted originally in 1977 and defined an era of social injustice in the United States. Creators Tony Isabella and Trevor Von Eeden showed the world that an African American man can have power.

The decision to have the television show premiere the day after the Martin Luther King holiday was a strong move on the CW’s part, because it filled viewers’ screens with an extra jolt of soul power.

Black Lightning tells the story of Jefferson Pierce (Cress Williams), father of two, teacher of few, and activist of many in the city of Freeland. Pierce struggles with finding balance in his life after retiring his superhero alter-ego. Following the divorce from his wife Lynn Pierce (Christine Adams), Jefferson is called back to fight for justice after his daughters, Anissa and Jennifer Pierce (China Anne McClain and Nafessa Williams) are threatened by the rise of the 100 gang, led by their leader, former politician Tobias Whale (Marvin Jones III).

The casting of the show is amazing. China Anne McClain said, in an interview before the show’s debut, that, upon arrival she “knew very quickly that they would be able to play a family easily.” The passion of Jefferson makes viewers understand that he wants better for his family and nothing will get in his way. Black Lightning is not just about a man who can glow like a light bulb and walk around shocking people. The show tells a deeper story about conflict and living in trying times. Cress does not tell this story alone.

Nafessa Williams and China Anne McClain set the standard for strong independent African American women, and that is what the show needs. Anissa is an open member of the LGBT community, and is als an educated teachers who takes after her father in more ways than one. Jennifer is an intelligent high school student who is stressed by the pressures of school, but has a strong family dynamic to support her. Between the love of her overprotective father and her sister she stands her ground, but she’s still a teen growing into adulthood.

Everyone in the cast meshes well together, including Tobias Whale. It is declared early on within the show that Whale is not a force to be taken lightly. Even with 1000 plus volts and the ability to step walk on air, Jefferson still has things he has to battle with, things that he cannot combat with his incredible strength alone.

The discussion of race is what sets this show apart from others. It deals with issues like the struggle of trust between a community and law enforcement, the destruction of a community from within, and gang violence. This show is different because it talks about real world issues. These issues need to be seen by viewers in the comfort of their own homes to fully understand what is happening in the world around them. I, personally, applaud the CW for recognizing diversity, and I want to applaud the director, Salim Akil, for having enough understanding to make a show about the struggles and triumphs in the African American community, depicted by a predominantly African American cast of actors.

All in all, the show is amazing. It offers action, drama and humor all rolled into one. The casting is spot on and the issues are relevant. Like all superhero shows on the CW, the fight scenes are long and drawn out, no matter how fast or spectacular they look. However, this was only the first episode and the actors take you to a place beyond the comic book.

There is more to be seen, and judging from this week’s premiere, the voltage is definitely high.

Game Village


“12 Strong” Is One Long Boring Movie That Wastes A Great Cast

The trailer looked impressive and, as someone wrote beneath the trailer on Youtube: “Michael Shannon? I’m in!”

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Michael Shannon

I sat through an advance showing of Jerry Bruckheimer’s latest Blow-Em-Up Shoot-Out at the Afghanistan Corral, “12 Strong,” which opens wide January 19th, and all I can say is, “Boy! They must have paid Michael Shannon a s—load of money to make this!”

It isn’t just Shannon who is wasted on this supposedly “declassified true story of the horse soldiers” in Afghanistan. (*Potential spoiler: All of them live to tell about it, and we get to see the REAL soldiers at the end of the film in a group shot.)

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Michael Pena

Other cast members who lend their talents to this thing are everyone’s favorite Hispanic All-Around Actor, Michael Pena, and the heartthrob from Down Under, Chris Hemsworth (“Thor”), as well as Taylor Sheridan (Brian), Rob Riggle (kept waiting for the funny stuff) as Colonel Max Bowers, and a cast of zillions of stuntmen and more explosive charges than I can remember since “Apocalypse Now.”

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Chris Hemsworth.


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Character actor William Fichtner, WITH hair.

Another actor in this Nicolai Puglsig directed movie based on the Doug Stanton book (script by Ted Tally and Peter Craig) is the always dependable William Fichtner, who has been a character actor par excellence since as far back as 1987. The 62-year-old actor has about 7 films in production in 2018 alone, but what, in heaven’s name, was the idea behind having him SHAVE HIS HEAD for his role as Colonel Mulholland?

Image result for =William Fichtner bald in "12 Strong" picture

Ugh. Fichtner has a nice head of hair, as seen during his appearances recently on the TV series “Mom” (and elsewhere) and his is not the kind of head one should have to see shorn nude. He has a typically schmaltzy dialogue exchange with our hero, Chris Hemsworth (Captain Mitch Nelson) where he gives him a piece of iron from the Twin Towers that melted down during the 9/11 attack and tells him to carry it into battle to remember why he is fighting or some such.

Whatever Fichtner said, I was too focused on his bald pate to care or remember. It was a bad look. I hope his hair grows back. (At 62, shaving one’s head might be “the end of hair as we know it.”)

Of course, as someone else pointed out, perhaps it was a “skinhead” wig. I certainly hope so, because it was a truly awful look for Fichtner and for the film.

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Rob Riggle

And the casting of Rob Riggle—who, I believe, actually WAS a Marine—as Colonel Max Bowers was— odd. When you see Rob Riggle, you think “funny” and this is not a funny film.

Nor was it, for me, an entertaining one. I needed a stiff drink immediately after it was over; it was long. It’s difficult to tell you how long. I searched fruitlessly for a mention of the length of this film. It seemed like it went on forever. (Actually, it was 2 hours and 10 minutes, which is still much too long.)

If you enjoy watching things blowing up and hearing an endless series of huge explosions, by all means run, do not walk, to the nearest theater where this thing is showing.

If you enjoy schmaltzy, seen-before, not-that-original war stories: ditto.

If you just want to see Hemsworth lift that hammer. Oh, wait. Wrong movie,

[Chris Hemsworth does not hammer anything in this one, although he is our lead and the All-Around Wonderful Loving Husband and Father who leads the charge on horseback, no less, against tanks and insurgents of the Taliban.]


The cinematography by Rasmus Videbaele was sometimes quite impressive, with three Chinook helicopters lifting into the sky against a sunset horizon. The explosions, as well, would have required technical expertise, so good job of not blowing anybody up for real.

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Navid Negahben (General Dostum)

Two actors who portray natives fighting alongside our boys should be singled out for mention, Navid Negahben as General Dostum and Fahim Fazli as Commander Khaled. They turn in credible acting jobs, as do the others packed in this piece of war propaganda. General Dostum goes on to become head of the country, we are told.

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Fahim Fazli as Commander Khaled with Chris Helmsworth on location.

This film, with its 16 producers and its non-stop deafening roar, reminded me of movies going back to “the old days” that featured the likes of Aldo Ray, Audie Murphy, and, at one point, the recently-deceased Don Rickles in a dramatic role, fighting battles of World War II,

Only now there are infinitely more explosions. Be warned.


Observations on the January 7th Golden Globes from Zayin Allen

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Oprah at the Sunday, January 7th, Golden Globe Awards
During the Golden Globes, the big moments are not about the ceremony and awards themselves,.
It’s more about what the nominees and winners have to say. especially with everything  happening leading into the new year with the “Me, Too!” movement..
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Natalie Portman was strong to subtly voice her opinion on the “All male nominees” for the best director category.

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Guillermo Del Toro took home the Best Director award for “Shape of Water.”  This act basically called out the elephant in the room with a loud speaker, especially since Barbra Streisand recalled being the last woman to win the award for Best Director and that was in 1984. Portman laid the ground work for the biggest moments of the night, but Oprah’s remarks (which she had been asked to shorten, but refused) were the cherry on top of the sundae..

Who else is there better to steal the show with grace and status than Oprah herself?
 After Oprah accepted the 2018 Cecil B. DeMille Award, Winfrey, the first African American woman to receive the award, went on to use the outlet and addressed the sexual misconduct scandal happening in Hollywood.  During her acceptance speech she stated that “speaking your truth is the most powerful tool you all have.”
Among all the speeches, none of them made the audience form eye puddles like Winfrey’s.  Going on to call out to the young girls at home, Oprah said, become the leaders“I want all the girls watching here and now to know that a new day is on the horizon!.. And when that new day finally dawns, it will be because of a lot of magnificent women and some pretty phenomenal men, fighting hard to make sure that they  who take us to the time when nobody ever has to say, “Me too” again.” The hashtag #MeToo began to spread like wildfire all over the internet, basically questioning whether or not Oprah was locking in her run for President in 2020.
Yeah, it was that big.
That was not the only huge moment of the night.  Sterling K. Brown’s performance as Randall Pearson  in NBC’s drama “This is Us” was noteworthy. Brown won the Golden Globe award for best actor in a TV series, drama. While the show is heavy in certain moments enough to make a grown man cry.
With most of the talk of the night centering around gender, Brown went on to address something of a different caliber: being one the first African American actors to win the award for the best actor in a TV drama. In his brief acceptance speech he went on to thank the show’s creator, Dan Fogelman  “for a black man that can only be played by a black man…… I’m being seen for who I am and being appreciated for who I am, and it makes it that much more difficult to dismiss me or dismiss anybody who looks like me.”
fter Brown’s speech, the applause filled the room and the internet had a field day with the 75th Golden Globes.The night itself was a momentous occasion with many actors, directors, and films going on to claim awards and the female nominees wearing black in a show of solidarity.

And So the Adventure Begins: Welcome, Zayin Allen

My name is Zayin Allen and I’m a senior at Delaware State University looking for writing opportunities relevant to my interests to boost my portfolio.  I have written for my school newspaper in the past, but, mostly current events articles. My interests lie with covering/reviewing movies and TV.  I am a self-motivated, outspoken, opinionated writer and person.  I am looking for opportunities to hone my craft and build a career as an entertainment writer.

Any time I see a film or a TV show, whether I love it or hate it, the first thing that I have to do is tell someone about it and discuss the hits and misses, the visuals, the dialogue, and every little detail.

I would love the opportunity to do that in an environment where I can better find my voice, hone my craft, and gain experience.  I understand that I have to start somewhere. I am willing to put in the work and, since I already read your site, for me there is no better place.  I am willing to do written pieces and video reaction/reviews for the site.

I can e-mail you some of the articles that I have written for my college paper, and I can send you some spec reviews that I wrote about “Punisher” and “The Runaways” to show you what I am capable of.  I am available to start writing for you immediately and am open to fill in gaps in TV and film reviews. I love comic book-related TV and films.  I also like horror and some action.  I really hope that I am able to join your staff or at least intern.

Thanks for your time,

Zayin Allen ”

(Who can resist? Zayin is going to put together some thoughts on various film and TV movies and shows from a slightly less “mature” POV, and we might have a little “Point/Counterpoint” going on, as I am more than happy to leave the World Of Marvel to Zayin’s observations. Right now, I’m waiting for a head shot of the budding journalist to accompany his bio, which I seem to have lost in my IPhone (Where does it go after you read it on your phone? Do elves eat it? What?) I’d put a graphic in here with the piece we both have written on the Golden Globes, but that piece, too, has gone up in smoke for the moment, as I am en route to various locations by car and my opportunities to write on a “good” computer have been severely impacted. Not only that, but I swear that AOL is now equivalent to the U.S. Post Office. It takes days for mail to appear, if it does appear.)

Bear with me, Zayin and Public, and we’ll get some interesting “new” impressions. And welcome. 



All Five Christmas Cats Children’s Books on Sale Through 2017

I have a series called “The Christmas Cats in Silly Hats” (www.TheXmasCats.com), ;which I began writing for my granddaughters when they were three years old. The books are “throw-back” books to what I learned in elementary schools of the fifties when early readers featured Dick and Jane and the policeman on the beat was always your friend. The books resemble Dr. Seuss books in that they rhyme and the cats of the title are a troupe of hardy do-gooders who go about helping other animals in distress.

The first book ‘s illustrations were drawn by Andy Weinert of East Moline (IL), a friend of my daughter’s, when I had two cats that were constantly fighting. I learned that Andy’s mother was Rita Mankowski, one of the smartest 7th graders I ever had in nearly 20 years of teaching 7th and 8th grade Language Arts at Silvis Junior High, and that sealed the deal. Andy was then a high school student who showed much artistic promise. (He has gone on to earn a Master’s in graphic design). When I asked him to draw a series of cats wearing “silly hats” he did a wonderful Grandma Moses-style treatment and the rhyming text shows the cats learning to get along with others, rather than constantly fighting with them (Lesson #1). However, AuthorHouse lost one-half of Andy’s original drawings (a bad lesson learned about dealing with AuthorHouse) and, when it came time to try to make the book just from the scans in my computer, years had passed and I drafted the girls’ Venezuelan nanny, Emily Marquez Vlcek to help finish the message and do some additional drawings linking the story to the season.

The second book, “The Christmas Cats Chase Christmas Rats”, featured the intrepid cats checking in on lab rats at Green Laboratories, to make sure they were being treated well. The message was “Do not judge others without knowing, or prejudice you will be showing” So, DON’T BE PREJUDICED. A good lesson for all time, but especially for these times.

Book #3, “The Christmas Cats Encounter Bats” featured bats wreaking havoc at South Park Mall (there is one in Moline, IL, as well as in the Dallas/Fort Worth area) and the cats teach the lesson that all life has value and every creature has a place in the Universe. Hallmark artist Gary McCluskey can also take credit for creating the first upside-down Christmas tree, far ahead of this year’s fad. (Bats hang their Christmas trees upside-down, you know.) Austin people, you’ll love this one!

Book #4, “The Christmas Cats Fear for the Deer“, featured beautifully drawn deer in Scott County Park (Davenport, IA), who, although well within the city limits, were in danger from hunters allowed to “thin the herd.” The Cats came to the rescue, spiriting them from the park by means of the CatCopter and ferrying them to the North Pole, where they were fitted with prosthetic antlers and fly with Santa. This book exists in hard cover format as well (although only available by contacting me, only in limited quantities, and costing $25 plus $3 postage). The color copies were run by ColorWise Press of Indiana and are gorgeous. The back of the book contains interactive activities for children, including puzzles and coloring book pages and we encouraged children to send them to the series dedicated website, www.TheXmasCats.com. Because only limited copies were run, the books were among the most beautiful in terms of color and quality, but paying $19 a book (the publisher’s price) means that one of these books in hard cover, plus postage, is going to set readers back $28, so it remains something that is only able to be purchased by contacting me via ConnieCWilson.com or WeeklyWilson.com or on LinkedIn. It is available through Amazon in paperback and e-book, however, and the e-book copies are only $1.99 for five days.

The final book in the series (so far) is “The Christmas Cats Care for the Bear” and it has an anti-bullying message, as the cats spring into action to help a little bear who is being bullied by others because he is pudgy and has funny hair. It is a book made for today’s youth and the interactive pages at the back of the book were increased, while the cost of running the book dropped dramatically as we transferred the book’s publication to Ingram Spark. The hard cover book of the most recent title is in the $12.95 range, from Amazon, while, paperbacks and e-books are also available.

[Book Number One has been permanently priced at $ .99 since it was drawn by a student, and finished by my granddaughters’ Venezuelan nanny, who took over duties from Andy when he was involved in completing his Master’s degree in graphic design at Northern Illinois University.]

I always said I would write the books until the girls turned 10, which is fast approaching. I did not have a book this year because we were too involved in building a house near the son, daughter-in-law and granddaughters in Austin, Texas, but “The Christmas Cats Flee from the Bee” may be coming for next Christmas, if Gary McCluskey is still available to lend his fantastic illustrations to another story with a message. That story will be about a golden-haired bee that hates the Queen Bee and does everything he can to destroy her, but soon faces his own come-uppance when the rest of the hive unites to drive him from their colony.

I hope you enjoy the e-book versions of ALL of the existing books, on sale for 5 days at $1.99 or, in the case of the very first book, 99 cents, from today (December 27) through the end of 2017. HAPPY NEW YEAR!

(Constance Corcoran Wilson, M.S.; www.ConnieCWilson.com)


“Porto” Film Is One of Actor Anton Yelchin’s Final Performances


I recently attended the Oakton Community College Pop-Up Film Festival, organized by Film Instructor and Director Michael G. Smith in Des Plaines, Illinois.

One of the films viewed by the crowd was “Porto,” a film directed by Gabe Klinger, who flew in from New York to answer questions from the crowd, which contains one of Anton Yelchin’s very last performances. Having just seen Yelchin in the very enjoyable “Thoroughbreds” (in a small part as a drug dealer), here was a chance to see Yelchin take center stage as the male lead in this story of romance remembered.

I was warned, going in, that it would be “intense.”

Normally, I would simply describe the plot and give the “bad” and “good” of it but after reading the harsh and somewhat inaccurate review in the November 27th “New Yorker” magazine, I’ll be doing a bit of quoting and rebuttal.


Line two of the “New Yorker” review: “Yelchin’s character, Jake Kleeman, is an American scholar in Portugal who begins a relationshp with Mati Vargnier (Lucie Lucas), a French archaeologist who followed her professor (Paulo Calatre) there from Paris.” The character Yelchin plays is not accurately described as “an American scholar.” Jake explains that he and his sister were dragged around the globe by their American soldier father and, after enjoying their time in Portugal more than most of their father’s previous nomadic military postings, they decided to “leave the tour” at that point and quit relocating to a variety of cities. Actually, he says his sister made the decision to stay in Portugal, which they both liked, and he stayed in support of Sis’ decision. Jake is long past the “student” stage when the film opens, looking as if he is at least thirty, and, in fact, admits that he will take any job to keep body-and-soul together. We see him with a wheelbarrow, hauling rocks and stones in a quarry. We see him helping the gorgeous Matie (Lucie Lucas) haul boxes to her new apartment. He appears to be pretty down-and-out. You soon get the impression that Jake is closer to bum status than to “scholar,” although he does mention having once been a “scholar.”

Either I watched a different film, or whoever wrote that description for the New Yorker was paying more attention to the character’s talking about his early days when he was able to attend colleges overseas.


The next New Yorker observation is this: “The director, Gabe Klinger, plants Mati and Jake in lavishly photographed cityscapes but burdens them with a drama that plays like a lonely man’s wet dream.”

     REBUTTAL: I would agree that the cityscapes are lavishly photographed. I would not agree that the leads are “burdened” with the remembered romantic tryst that plays out more than once.


The New Yorker: “The script (which Klinger co-wrote with Larry Gross) is a hollow batch of cliches, starting with Mati’s hot come-on in a recurring cafe sequence in which Jake glowers and leers carnivorously at her before they grunt and heave gamely in a long bedroom sequence (an icky fantasy of phallic expertise.)”

REBUTTAL: Where to start with this one? What I saw was a Mona Lisa-like gorgeous creature (Lucie Lucas) who would rival Sophia Loren or Ava Gardner in their primes, sitting in a picturesque cafe where Jake (Anton Yelchin) is mesmerized by her beauty. Yes, he stares at the beautiful brunette with the Mona Lisa smile, as any red-blooded heterosexual man would. Ultimately, Jake works up the courage to approach Mati and ask if he may join her at her table. He does and they remain there briefly before Mati asks Jake to assist her in moving many boxes from her car to her apartment.

He agrees and we see him hauling box after box from her car to Mati’s new place, followed by her unrolling the primitive “bed” on the floor, which the couple soon puts to good use. Mati tells Jake that she is involved with her Professor right from the start, but that does not stop the smitten lad. The graphic sex scene (replayed from memory more than once) displays all of Luci Lucas’ charms in full frontal shots that prove that she is truly gorgeous. Unfortunately, we see only Yelchin’s back and his receding David Letterman-like hairline, neither one of which is particularly attractive.


In the morning, Jake (Yelchin) awakens alone in the bed on the floor. He begins assembling one of Mati’s bookcases and arranging some of her belongings on it, when Mati and her amorous mature Professor lover return to the scene of the romantic crime. It is obvious that the older man very quickly sizes up the situation, but he does not seem particularly angry or aggressive. (He goes to the refrigerator, in fact, and changes the subject). He’s French, after all.

Later, we see this romantic scene played out more than once. The bad thing about the repetition of the scene is not the nudity or the sex, but the fact that the scene is badly out of focus in the replay. It really bothered me to see the fuzzy, blurry images.

Director/Writer Gabe Klinger (R), of “Porto,” during the Q&A at the Oakton Community College Pop-Up Film Festival in Des Plaines, Illinois with a college film instructor.

It was only after the film was over, during the Q&A with director Gabe Klinger, that the audience is clued in that the fuzziness and out-of-focus images were intentional, meant to show that memories, too, can shift in and out of focus with the passage of time. Unless this is run as a disclaimer at the start of the film if I were cinematographer Wyatt Garfield, I would have advised against this ploy to show that memories can (also) be fuzzy. It’s just incredibly amateurish-looking, as though my dad shot this film—-the guy who always cut the heads off all of his subjects.


The New Yorker:   “What’s more, Klinger plays coyly with the time scheme, as if to mask the lack of substance with tricks of form.” 

REBUTTAL: I’m not sure that the playing around with time and shifting of time was “coy,” but it did have the effect of being slightly confusing. However, when we see Lucie with a small child and her obviously-now-ex older husband enters to leave his daughter a gift, it is pretty obvious that Mati followed through with her intention to marry the better choice between the two. Time has passed—and a lot of it. Mati has married, given birth, and become estranged from the Professor. As for Jake, he was always just a one night stand, although he had a much more romantic view of their encounter and seems incapable of moving on.


The New Yorker:   “A gratuitously ugly scene of Jake’s physical abuse of Matti is a casually checked-off plot point.”

REBUTTAL: The only “physical abuse” I observed took place in the street in public when the frustrated Jake tries to physically restrain the gorgeous Mati by grabbing her arm. She rebuffs him and runs away. It was more of a glancing blow to her arm in his attempt to keep the beautiful creature from leaving him. But, quite frankly, he has no job and no prospects of a job and she was quite honest during their one-night stand about her intentions, so the fact that she doesn’t plan to continue screwing the unemployed (and not that attractive) admirer doesn’t seem to be much of a shock to anyone but Jake.


The New Yorker:   “With Francoise Lebrun, in the movie’s one well-imagined scene , as Mati’s mother.”

In the scene the New Yorker apparently liked, Mati asks her now old and weathered mother if she still desires men in her life. Mom answers that she does, in a rather world-weary manner, and even offers up her last sexual encounter with a stranger for her daughter’s consideration. So, you’re never too old might be the right way to sum that bit of wisdom up, which is comforting.

 I enjoyed the movie and the Q&A and one of his final films is dedicated onscreen to Anton Yelchin.






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