This was a fascinating documentary about a new YouTube fad, changing one’s eye color, which is done, surgically, in India. It sounded very dicey, and, as it turns out, it is.
The documentary, written and directed by Liza Mandelup of the Parts & Labor film enterprise, followed the journey of Raymond David Taylor of Miami as he set off for India to have his brown eyes turned into a color described as “frost.”
It seems that there is a thriving cosmetic industry in Cairo, Mexico, Panama, and India and, of course, the recent deaths of two American citizens in Matamoros, Mexico, (we now know), was a trip for cosmetic surgery. A friend of mine flew to Costa Rica for dental work, so I’m surprised I had not heard of this latest vision fad, but I don’t spend much time watching videos on YouTube.
David had a very rough childhood, even getting kicked out of the house while young, at one point, and he (and most of the other patients) seem to think that “Changing me will change my outlook on life.” As David says, “If I feel sad one more day, I don’t know if I’m going to make it.”
He doesn’t have the money for the surgery, but a well-written letter to BrightOcular explaining his desire for the implants brings an offer from them to come have the cosmetic procedure for free, if he will let the company use his story and his photos for advertising purposes.
We then meet others on this medically unregulated journey, including Izzy, a woman from New Delhi, a young man from Japan, a male underwear model and a beautiful girl from Jamaica, but the focus is on David, which filmmaker/writer Mandelop explained was her attempt to initially start out with three main characters and trace their journeys, with one emerging as central to the story.
She described this engrossing film journey into eye surgery this way: “I wanted to visually convey it. I wanted to do something that people wouldn’t think was cinematic, like eye surgery, but make it cinematic. It became an emotional journey. David allowed me to make the film that I was craving.”
In the course of the journey, we meet David’s mother, who also suffered a rough, abusive life, but tried her best as a young single mother to care for her children on wages of $2.35 an hour. David’s mother and David don’t agree on a lot of things. She is okay with David’s being gay, but she says, “I cannot deal with that if you start cutting parts of your body off and adding stuff.” She adds that she thought he was a great female impersonator. Mom’s point-of-view is, “You’re stubborn. You don’t listen.” She adds, “You’re never satisfied with the way you look.” Others in the film describe the cosmetic procedure as “a bandaid to the past.” Most of the others have selected jade green as the color their brown eyes
It is a big blow to David when they do three patients’ surgeries simultaneously and, in the process, he is given jade green eye color by mistake, rather than frost. This will mean another eye surgery to fix the error.
If you are thinking, “This can’t be safe,” you’re right. It is only about four months post-surgery after David undergoes the procedure that he describes it as “the worst mistake of my life” when headaches and visual problems begin.
All of the prospective patients seem to want to transform to some ideal person they have created in their heads. When the subject of the film appeared before us in person, however, the audience got the feeling that the subject of “Caterpillar” has, in fact, bettered his life, moving back to Brooklyn and now working as an EMT. He explained his mother’s absence from the showing as his way of “avoiding drama.”
On the left, Director Liza Mandelup and Raymond David Taylor, subject of the SXSW documentary “Caterpillar”on SXSW Opening Night, March 10, 2023.
Some other patients, we learn, who did not heed the United States opthalmalogists’ warning about the damage the implants have done (or are doing) to their eyes ended up blind or partially blind. One former patient whom David tracks down after he begins encountering headaches and blurry vision said that he woke up after 5 years with blood on his cornea. “I had to remove them or go blind.”
The unfettered access to the surgery and the patients seems quite unusual. That is, until we learn that the leadership of BrightOcular is very circumspect. No one ever comes forward to represent BrightOcular or another entity called Spectra. These agencies exist and are offering this service and heavily advertising how it will “change your life” on social media, with beautiful pictures of patients like David. They are not as forthcoming about the negatives of the procedure. The Indian physician who says he, personally, would not undergo the procedure knows this is a very risky way to change one’s outlook on life and seems to convey that through his reticence to heartily endorse the procedure.
David bought into it with words like, “This is my new beginning. I’m changing,” or “Beauty matters. Beauty gets you through the door.
Musical selections like “Stand By Me” and “I Want to Dance With Somebody,” selected by Music Supervisor Melissa Chapman, merge with the early upbeat theme of positive change seamlessly and add much to the extremely well-done production.
Afterwards, the writer/director (Liza Mandelup) and David, the chief subject, answered questions about the inspiration for the film and its aftermath. Liza said she had been doing research on the apps that can change one’s appearance when she learned of this eye surgery. She sent the BrightOcular company an e-mail asking I f she could do a documentary about the process. They were very positive in their response and never really surfaced as an entity. Their leadership remains a mystery.
Writer-Director Liza Mandelup.
She cautions that David was one of the few patients who listened to the warnings from U.S. eye doctors, post-surgery, and had his implants removed fairly quickly. Others have faced the need to have cornea transplants and some have gone blind because they refused to give up the implants over a period of years. One patient, asked what she would be content with in regards to improving her appearance, answered, “What am I content with? Just more.”
Among the best compliments of the terrific job the filmmaker did with this riveting documentary was a woman who stood up in the back during the Q&A and said, in heavily accented English, “You mean this was a documentary? I thought it was a movie!”
The Chicago International Film Festival’s 59th iteration will screen at 8 locations in Chicago commencing October 11th. In a preview of the full range of offerings on September 18th at the AMC Newcity Theatres on North Clyburn Avenue.
Other venues where films will be screened this year include the historic Music Box Theater, the Chicago History Museum, the Gene Siskel Film Center, the Museum of Contemporary Art, the Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts at the University of Chicago, and some other pop-up venues on the South and West sides of the city.
In other years, nearly all films have been shown at a central location, the AMC Theater on Illinois. I learned that I could make it from my condo to the venue in about fifteen minutes, but the cost of parking has exceeded the cost of tickets in recent years. It appears that the large AMC Theater may have priced itself out of the market. I was also told that they are renovating the theater (and removing many seats), which had been all the buzz before the pandemic hit, i.e., will the AMC go belly-up as a result of their ambitious upgrading plans and the costs of same at a bad time, historically. I was told that the AMC New City Theater had previously existed under a different owner and was snapped up by AMC.
While it took me over an hour to drive from the Field Museum to the North Clyburn Avenue location for a 6:30 p.m. meeting (i.e., during Rush Hour), I was able to park for free on the street and there are restaurants within the New City complex that could make killing time between films much easier. There weren’t many good places near the large AMC complex, and the good ones like P.J. O’Rourkes often closed.
I went back to the beginning of my Weekly Wilson blog and found reviews from 2007 on. I think I actually reviewed cinema offerings earlier than that, but not on my own blog. Now, of course, I publish here and on The Movie Blog.
Director Mimi Plauche and Sir Henry Branagh at the Music Box Theater on Opening Night of his film “Belfast.”
This year, the panels picking what we will be able to see reviewed 7,500 films before boiling it down to 57 offerings. There were 5,500 short films that were viewed to narrow the offering to 99 shorts. The films came in from 123 countries and the Opening Night film will be “We Grown Now,” directed by Minhal Baig and starring Jurnee Smollett as Dolores, the mother of a young Black boy in the Cabrini-Green Housing Project who must decide whether to stay or move away.
Tickets this year run $35 for Opening/Closing Nights, and $23 for Special Presentations. A general screening, if you are a member of Cinema Chicago, is $18 and $22 if you are not a Cinema Chicago member.
It is my fervent hope that the parking this year will be cheaper, as it had really gotten out of hand last year.
The Nashville Film Festival commences September 28th, and I will be there, in person, covering it. It runs from September 28th until October 4th. The Nashville Film Festival presents more than 125 film screenings, a selection of post-film Q&As and in-depth discussions with attending filmmakers.
NashFilm hosts events and programs that highlight the many aspects of filmmaking, including: a Screenwriting Competition (September 28-October 4); a Music Supervisors Program; the Creators Conference (film and music industry panels; and live music performances and new artist showcases throughout the week.
The festival opens with the documentary “I Will Survive,” from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Belcourt Theatre in Nashville. It is the story of the career and resurgence of Gloria Gaynor and Gaynor, plus director Betsy Schechter will be present at the post-party afterwards at Anzie Blue.
On Friday, in addition to composer Mark Isham (“Crash”) in conference, the short “The Hit Man” (18 minutes) with Richard Kind and Peter Riegert and Nancy Allen screens at the Rothschild Black Box Theatre. Later that night, “Another Body,” about a coed who finds fake nude photos of herself online, will show at the same theater.
Saturday, 9/30, a Joan Baez documentary (“I Am A Noise”) is up, along with a documentary entitled “The Disappearance of Sheri Hite.” (Sheri Hite wrote a groundbreaking book on female sexuality and then largely disappeared from public view.)
Sunday, October 1st, I am looking forward to some documentary shorts, as well as David Straithorn in “Remember This.” David Strathairn portrays Jan Karski in this genre-defying true story of a reluctant World War II hero and Holocaust witness. After surviving the devastation of the Blitzkrieg, Karski swears allegiance to the Polish Underground and risks his life to carry the first eyewitness reports of war-torn Poland to the Western world, and ultimately, the Oval Office. Escaping a Gestapo prison, bearing witness to the despair of the Warsaw ghetto and confronted by the inhumanity of a death camp, Karski endures unspeakable mental anguish and physical torture to stand tall in the halls of power and speak the truth.
Monday, October 2nd, brings a Minnie Pearl documentary, “Facing the Laughter” and a documentary entitled “The Tuba Thieves,” about real-life thefts of that instrument in California.
Tuesday, October 3rd, is a day to do some streaming, with many options there.
Wednesday, October 4th is closing night at the Belcourt, featuring the film “Foe” with Saiorse Ronan, with a closing night party at Exit/In. Earlier, there is a documentary entitled “Silver Dollar Road,” also at the Belcourt, From Academy-Award Nominee Raoul Peck, Silver Dollar Road follows the story of the Reels family as told by the matriarch Mamie Reels Ellison and her niece Kim Renee Duhon, two fierce and clear-eyed women bending to safeguard valiantly their ancestors’ land and their brothers and uncles Melvin and Licurtis, who were wrongfully imprisoned for eight years – the longest sentence for civil contempt in North Carolina history.
My son (Scott) and his wife (Jessica) and their girls (14-year-old twins Ava and Elise) just concluded another successful Family Fest at their home in Austin, Texas.
People normally fly in from St. Louis, Denver, the Quad Cities, Boston, Nashville and our numbers have been as high as 30, although this year there were some defections in the ranks and we topped out at 14.
Of that number, eleven slept at his house and three of us commuted back and forth from the Hills of Bear Creek (Mench aaca) 3.3 miles away.
On Sunday, most of the group floated for 3 and ½ hours down a river in inner tubes. I think it was the Calumne River, but don’t quote me on that.
Son Scott grilled many things: sausage, ribs, brisket. Jessica made many delicious side dishes and I contributed a Texas sheet cake and deviled eggs. On Labor Day we had a birthday cake for the 2-year-old, Winnie Eddy.
The Ken Paxton impeachment trial is ongoing, creating a major political scandal in the Longhorn state. The “New York Times” was covering it on an hourly basis.
There was a shoot-out in nearby Buda today and the temperature here is predicted to top 100 degrees for the foreseeable future.
Most days and nights, we staked out the pool, playing water volleyball, bags, and other games. Only one board game was used, Baby boomers versus Millennials, which was way too easy.
A birthday cake was secured for Winnie Eddy, the youngest member of the group, who had recently turned two.
Wrigley, the dog, had a good time and neighbors Bill Kohl and Satch and Brandi Nanda and daughter Kira stopped by, along with the Beans from next door, who came with Jackson, Penny and Milly in tow. (Penny was very excited about the idea of a baby in the house.)
A good time was had by all.
A group of House Democrats with ties to No Labels is turning on the centrist group after it attacked one of their founding members.
No Labels texted people who live in the district of Rep. Brad Schneider (D-Ill.), criticizing the congressman for scoffing at their idea for a unity presidential ticket and claiming it could result in Donald Trump’s return to the presidency.
The information (above) is something I sought out after listening to the Sunday, August 27th, episode of “Meet the Press.” During the waning moments of the show (which I always tape) there was a spirited debate between one of the founders of the No Labels movement and an individual responsible for a Democratic largely reader-written blog that is currently being sued by Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., for reporting on some of his positions and appearances, “Daily Kos.” (Even RFK, Jr.’s family is upset that he is running, because of his tendency to embrace fringe theories.)
Since polls have found that somewhere around 65% to 75% of Americans do not want either of the leading candidates—Trump or Biden—to run, the No Labels group claimed to be attempting to field other candidates for President. Chief among those mentioned were Joe Manchin (D., W.Va.) and Governor Chris Sununu. The spokesman on “Meet the Press” said that they would be interviewing candidates in March/April and making an announcement after that.
What the No Labels group claims it is doing is offering candidates to the public that they actually want to vote for.
What they may, actually, be trying to do is to act as a ‘spoiler’ group, assuring that no candidate gets to 270 Electoral College votes. That would send the choice of the president to the House of Representatives, which is currently GOP dominated. There hasn’t been a successful third party challenge of the magnitude of Teddy Roosevelt’s Bull Moose party for decades, although the next-closest attempt occurred when Ross Perot attempted the feat in 1996.
Perot ran an independent campaign in the 1992 U.S. presidential election and a third-party campaign in the 1996 U.S. presidential election as the nominee of the Reform Party, which was formed by grassroots supporters of Perot’s 1992 campaign. Although he failed to carry a single state in either election, both campaigns were among the strongest presidential showings by a third party or independent candidate in U.S. history (the most successful since Teddy Roosevelt’s Bull Moose party).
Former GOP stragegist and Lincoln Project co-founder Rick Wilson argues that No Labels’ “centrist do-gooder” position is deeply misleading. “What could possibly go wrong?” he asks. “The thing that could go wrong is the election of Donald Trump.”
“Mother Jones” did a run-down of who is financially behind “No Labels” here: https://www.motherjones.com/politics/2023/06/no-labels-exposed-heres-a-list-of-donors-funding-its-effort-to-disrupt-the-2024-race/
If you are a child of the 60s, you will remember Tuesday Weld.
The blonde bombshell combined an innocent, virginal blonde beauty with a sexuality that made her Stanley Kubrick’s first choice to play “Lolita.” (She turned the part down, saying, “I don’t have to play it. I was Lolita.”)
You have to admire a woman who changed her name, legally, to Tuesday when she was only 16 years old and, when asked what drove her from Hollywood, responded, “I think it was a Buick.”
Tuesday had some outstanding roles, although it was always her appearance that preceded her, in the same way that Michelle Pfieffer’s blonde good looks have made her into a line in a Bruno Mars song.
Her childhood was not a happy one. Born in 1943, she became her family’s sole breadwinner when her father died at age 49 in 1947 just before Tuesday’s fourth birthday. Her mother, Yosene Balfour Ker, daughter of the artist and Life illustrator William Balfour Ker, was Lathrop Weld’s fourth and last wife.
Mother Yosene put Tuesday into modeling and she soon began her career as an actress. Tuesday began drinking heavily at ages 9 and 10 and had a breakdown at age nine. Mommy didn’t think that Tuesday needed therapy and life went on pretty much as before, with Tuesday’s first suicide attempt at age twelve. Later, Tuesday expressed a great deal of hostility towards her mother and said she only felt free when her mother had passed. In fact, she began telling people that her mother was dead literally decades before she had actually died.
Most of her life, Tuesday was preyed upon by older men. One of the most famous of her laiasons with the actor John Ireland, who was then in his forties, while she was underage. Over the years, she had romances with Al Pacino, David Steinberg, Mikhail Baryshnikov (whose previous girlfriend, Jessica Lange, had been Weld’s best friend), Omar Sharif, Richard Gere and Ryan O’Neal.
Weld attracted attention as the favored, out-of-control Katherine in Looking for Mr. Goodbar (1977) – packing into her short screen time an orgy, a divorce, a lot of alcohol, and two abortions – and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress; later she appeared in Who’ll Stop the Rain (1978) opposite Nick Nolte; and the ensemble satire Serial (1980).
She said she preferred television. “What I dig about TV is the pace”, she said. “Two weeks for even a heavy part – great. Too much thinking about a role is a disaster for me. I mean, let’s do it, let’s get it done.”
She played the lead in the TV films A Question of Guilt (1978), in which she plays a woman accused of murdering her children, Mother and Daughter: The Loving War (1980), a remake of Madame X (1981), and a new version of The Rainmaker (1982).
In feature films, Weld had a good supporting role in Michael Mann‘s acclaimed 1981 film Thief, opposite James Caan. She played Al Pacino‘s wife in Author! Author! (1982) and co-starred with Donald Sutherland in the TV film The Winter of Our Discontent (1983). This performance earned her an Emmy nomination.
In 1984, she appeared in Sergio Leone‘s gangster epic Once Upon a Time in America, playing a jeweler’s secretary, who is in on a plan to steal a shipment of diamonds. During the robbery, her character goads Robert De Niro‘s character, David “Noodles” Aaronson, into “raping” her with her complicity. She later meets up with the gang from the robbery, and becomes the moll of James Woods‘ character Max Bercovicz. Disturbed by what she sees as Max’s delusional, even suicidal, ambitions, she convinces Noodles to betray Max to the police. The performance earned Weld a BAFTA nomination for Best Supporting Actress of 1984.
Weld was reunited with Anthony Perkins in an episode of Mistress of Suspense (1990).
In 1993, she played a police officer’s neurotic wife in Falling Down, starring Michael Douglas and Robert Duvall. She had small supporting roles in Feeling Minnesota (1996), Investigating Sex (2001), and Chelsea Walls (2001).
Weld was married three times. She was married to screenwriter Claude Harz from October 23, 1965, until their divorce on February 18, 1971. They had a daughter, Natasha, born on August 26, 1966. Weld was awarded custody of Natasha in the divorce and $100 a month in child support payments.
She married British actor, musician and comedian Dudley Moore on September 20, 1975. On February 26, 1976, they had a son, Patrick. The couple divorced in 1980, with Weld receiving a $200,000 settlement plus $3,000 monthly alimony for the next 4 years and an additional $2,500 a month in child support.
On October 18, 1985, she married Israeli concert violinist and conductor Pinchas Zukerman, becoming stepmother to his daughters Arianna and Natalia. The couple divorced in 1998. In court papers, Zukerman quoted Weld as saying, “Why do I need to go to another concert when I’ve heard the piece before?” and “I can’t stand the backstage scene. I don’t want to hear another note.”
Weld and then-husband Zukerman purchased 74 Surfside Ave in 1990 from the estate of Norman Kean, who produced the long-running Broadway show Oh! Calcutta! and who killed himself and his actress wife Gwyda Donhowe in their Manhattan apartment in 1988. Although the Montauk residence was not a crime scene, Weld later struggled to find a buyer for the property due to its murder-suicide connection. Listed in 2006, it sat on the market for three years before selling at a reduced price of $6.75 million in 2009 and is now rented. Weld bought a “tiny condo” there in 2021 for $335,000.
|1959||The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet||Connie/Cathy||3 episodes|
|The Red Skelton Hour||Starlet||Episode: “Appleby: The Big Producer”|
|77 Sunset Strip||Barrie Connell||Episode: “Secret Island”|
|1959-62||The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis||Thalia Menninger||Series regular (season 1)|
Guest star (seasons 3-4)
|1960||77 Sunset Strip||Kitten Lang||Episode: “Condor’s Lair”|
|The Millionaire||Beth Boland||Episode: “Millionaire Katherine Boland”|
|The Tab Hunter Show||Ginny||Episode: “The Doll in the Bathtub”|
|Dick Powell’s Zane Grey Theatre||Beth Lawson||Episode: “The Mormons”|
|1961||Follow the Sun||Barbara Beaumont||Episode: “The Highest Wall”|
|Bus Stop||Cherie||Episode: “Cherie”|
|1962||Adventures in Paradise||Gloria Dannora||Episode: “The Velvet Trap”|
|Naked City||Ora Mae Youngham||Episode: “A Case Study of Two Savages”|
|Route 66||Miriam Moore||Episode: “Love Is a Skinny Kid”|
|Ben Casey||Melanie Gardner||Episode: “When You See an Evil Man”|
|1964||Mr. Broadway||Emily||Episode: “An Eye on Emily”|
|The Fugitive||Mattie Braydon||Episode: “Dark Corner”|
|1967||The Crucible||Abigail Williams||Television film|
|1968||Cimarron Strip||Heller||Episode: “Heller”|
|1975||F. Scott Fitzgerald in Hollywood||Zelda Fitzgerald||Television film|
|1978||A Question of Guilt||Doris Winters||Television film|
|1980||Mother and Daughter: The Loving War||Lillie Lloyd McCann||Television film|
|1981||Madame X||Holly Richardson||Television film|
|1982||The Rainmaker||Lizzie||Television film|
CableACE Award for Actress in a Theatrical or Non-Musical Program
|1983||The Winter of our Discontent||Margie Young-Hunt||Television film|
Nominated — Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress – Miniseries or a Movie
|1984||Scorned and Swindled||Sharon Clark||Television film|
|1986||Circle of Violence||Georgia Benfield||Television film|
|Something in Common||Shelly Grant||Television film|
|1990||Chillers||Jessica||Episode: “Something You Have to Live With”|
Saturday, August 26th, was my husband’s sixtieth high school reunion.
The Class of 1963 of Alleman High School was, originally, a class of 221. Of that number, we were told that 58 have died.
The reunion venue was Riverfront Grille in Rock Island. Approximately 35 hardy souls showed up for the celebration.
One class member (Bob Hafner) just spent a week in the hospital, but he and Marvis made it to the event.
Some of those celebrating came from Tennessee and other far-flung locales.
As you head into your seventies, with an average life span of 76, the reunions attract fewer and fewer class members. In the case of my own high school class of 110 members, scheduled to have a reunion on September 9th, only 35 people, including spouses, will be in attendance.
I remember that Joan Clark (of my old class) spoke of the 50th high school reunion as the “last one” that people would attend. She shared this insight with me when we traveled to Nuevo Vallara together in 2007. In her own case, that turned out to be prophetic, as she died of a massive stroke in early October of this year.
When I organized a “mini reunion” of the eleven girls who ran around together in high school, only 5 of us were still alive and only 3 of us were able to attend. My old high school boyfriend died on May 20, 2021, at age 76. He had gone in for some tinkering with his pacemaker and he did not survive the operation, which everyone had thought would be a minor bit of surgery. He had just been inducted into our small hometown’s Athletic Hall of Fame.
Class member Kathy Dunaven Meadows with Tim Kennedy, husband of the evening’s Mistress of Ceremonies.
So, if you are coming up on a reunion for your high school during this year (or any year), keep in mind that, with the passing of years, you will lose many classmates, so if you want to see any of them in life, attend at least up to the 50th
because, after that, the herd will thin considerably. (More pictures to follow).
Liam Neeson (“Taken”) has made another action movie (at the age of 71) but there isn’t much action required of him, other than driving a car and peering into the side mirror a lot.
The movie is a remake (the third) of the Dani de la Torreia film “El Desopascido” (2015). It is a bit of a “Speed” rip-off, in that businessman Matt Turner is trapped in his car, with his two children, by an unknown assailant who contacts him via cell phone and warns him that, if he or the kids try to get out of the car or he doesn’t drive as instructed, the vehicle will blow up.
There is a bomb planted beneath the seats and if Neeson or his son or daughter get out of the car, the change in pressure will automatically detonate the hidden bomb. To prove that he isn’t fooling around, the anonymous criminal blows up a car with a hapless couple inside, so that Neeson can realize he is serious. It also turns out that it is so that Neeson’s car is seen by the authorities in the vicinity where the first explosion occurs and they will begin targeting and chasing him, assuming he is to blame for all the carnage.
From there on, it is pretty much Liam Neeson driving around and doing whatever the anonymous voice on the phone tells him to do, even after both of his car doors have been removed. (A passerby tells the hapless driver this, speaking in German.) I was somewhat confused by the melange of languages. It appears that Liam and family are full-time residents of Germany (Berlin, specifically) but they don’t seem to speak the language. Yet they seem to understand televsion in the native tongue and there is no real explanation of why none of the Turner clan is bi-lingual. (Weird).
Neeson is not having a good day, as he learns during the ordeal that his wife (Embeth Davidtz, with whom Neeson worked in “Schindler’s List”) is having a meeting with a divorce attorney. Plus, his two children are mouthy and pretty annoying, especially early on. Lilly Aspell, who played the young “Wonder Woman” in that film (2017), plays his daughter, Emily Turner, and Jack Champion (“Avatar: The Way of Water,” 2022) portrays the teen-aged Zach Turner.They are typical in being addicted to their cell phones, but their hostile reactions to most requests (“Get in the car.” “Give me your cell phone.”) make them less-than-likeable.
At one point I turned to my spouse and said, “At what point did Matt lose control of his children.” It was not a remark without foundation. We are given only the slightest of clues about why Heather Turner (Matt’s wife) might be talking to a divorce attorney, but one of the main reasons seems to be that he is a workaholic and frequently leaves her holding the parenting bag, even if he was alerted in advance that he needed to pitch in that day.. At one point, the script has Liam Neeson say, “I’ve had better days,” which caused me to laugh out loud.
I also thought some of the other scripted lines were excessively formulaic and bore little relationship to what was happening onscreen. One example: “You don’t run from a challenge. You take it on.” [Well, maybe not if the challenge is keeping your car from blowing up while your two children are trapped inside with you.]
There was a scene where we learn that there is no cell phone signal in a large Berlin tunnel. I thought this meant that the bomb could not, then, be triggered. Our discussion of this plot point did give some credibility to the thought that removing Liam Neeson’s body weight from the driver’s side of the Mercedes would cause the vehicle to explode because of the “pressure plate” mentioned early on.
I smiled when the Black investigator, played by Noma Dumazweme, told the hassled businessman that the police had interrupted the cell service. She tells him that it is the first time that cell phone service was interrupted to Berlin since 1945. The only problem with that factoid is that there were no cell phones at all in the 1940s, 1950s, 1960s, or the 1970s. It is true that the cell phone was invented in 1973, but it was not readily available to the public until 1983. Liam’s tearing out of the signal-less underground highway tunnel with bezillion Polizei arrayed in front of him, while telling the policewoman that HE would find the culprit if they (the police) could not (and shouting “Tell your men to stand down” which she had no time at all to do) was batshit crazy.
I should mention the presence of Matthew Modine as Liam Neeson’s business partner in an investment firm. Initially, I felt this fine actor (“Full Metal Jacket” 1987) was being totally under-utilized, as he appeared only in cell phone conversations sent to Neeson’s car that were business-related. As the plot progressed, his role increased. I was happy to see that he got more screentime. (I also noticed that Matthew Modinne’s teeth are far better than Liam Neeson’s).
Here was another random formulaic line, as scripted by Alberto Marina and Christopher Salmanpour: “This was all inevitable.” Really?
Nothing that happened seemed “inevitable.” The chase scenes where Liam successfully navigates literally multitudes of police cars that are arrayed to stop him were implausible in the extreme. There have been movies with good car chase scenes (“Bullitt,” “To Live and Die in L.A.,” “The French Connection”) but this was not one of them.
This movie was directed by Nimrod Antal, who was previously involved in directing “Machete” and “Predators.” At some point, he must have known that even audiences that have been suspending belief to watch Liam Neeson go to great lengths to defend or rescue his family members for years in mediocre movies were going to find Neeson’s driving through road blocks that must have been designed by a mentally deficient police sergeant would not play successfully in Peoria (or anywhere else). It will, however, soon be streaming on a streaming service near you. Possibly right now on YouTube.
I actually enjoyed the “twist” at the end, for several reasons. The acting was acceptable, even if the script did not hold water. There were some impressive explosions at various points. Many stunt people got work in the streets of Berlin. (My son works for a company headquartered in Berlin, so I enjoyed the tour of the city.)
The thing that gave me pause as I watched what could well be one of Liam Neeson’s last outings as an action hero was the realization that we’ve lost two great ones in this genre this year: Bruce Willis and, potentially, Liam Neeson. I am not encouraged that the new crop of action movie performers is up to snuff, especially since a trailer ran for another “Expendables” film with Sylvester Stallone, Dolph Lundgren, Jason Statham and 50 Cent. (50 Cent, in particular, was nearly impossible to understand.)
|Music for “Retribution” by Harry Gregson-Williams|
Cinematography by Flavrio Martinez Labiano.
- “What the Democrats are trying to do on this issue is wrong, to allow abortion all the way up to the moment of birth.”
(Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida)
“We cannot let states like California, New York and Illinois have abortions on demand up until the day of birth.”
(Senator Tim Scott)
THIS IS FALSE.
Roe v. Wade was the law of the land for over 20 years and the American public still wants the right to decide their own fate in regards to whether a woman is forced by the GOP to bear a child to term because religious zealots have made it very difficult to secure an abortion that is safe and medically supervised. The sanest voice in the room seemed to be Nikki Haley—-also the only female—who felt that this should be a matter decided by a woman in consultation with her family and physicians. Abortion has always been about the male desire to retain power by keeping women down and in their place. The Democratic proposal that did not pass the Senate allowed states to ban abortion after fetal viability, roughly 24 weeks, except when the mother’s life was threatened. There are good reasons to allow an abortion, but no one in the Democratic party has lobbied for a late-term abortion. This question was answered by former Vermont Governor Howard Dean in a back yard in Muscatine, Iowa, in 2004, when he was campaigning for the Democratic nomination for president. A physician, he had actually checked records in Vermont and testified that there had never been a documented case of a late-term abortion in Vermont history.
2) “We will back law enforcement because we remember who we really are. And that’s also how we address that mental health epidemic in the next generation that is directly leading to violent crime across the country.”
This is unsupported by factual evidence. There is no direct correlation between people with serious mental illness and responsibility for violent acts. Ramiswamy had a bad night on the “factual” level, constantly making random remarks that were not supported by any factual evidence. He also voiced the sentiment that Ukraine and Israel should not be supported by the U.S.
3) “We need to acknowledge the truth, which is that these subsidies are not working.” (Nikki Haley)
THIS IS FALSE.
Early data suggests that President Biden’s subsidies for renewable energy are proving to be more popular with companies and consumers than initially forecast. Job creation and investment have been rising. The possibility that subsidies could spur greater reductions in greenhouse gas emissions than originally estimated have been put forth. (Governor Doug Burgum).
THIS IS FALSE.
In 2021, the Director of the CIA, William J. Burns, traveled to Moscow, informing Putin about American intelligence concerning Russia’s war plans and cautioning him about the consequences of such an attack.
4) “The reality is more people are dying of bad climate change policies than they are of actual climate change.” (Vivek Ramaswamy)
THIS IS FALSE.
No deaths have been linked to the growth of renewable energy or to the Biden administration’s attempts to reduce the use of fossil fuels to address global warming. Between 1970 and 2021, however, according to the United Nations, 2 million people died from extreme weather events. Right now, we are sweltering under a heat wave and rising global temperatures have caused more than 700 deaths, 67,500 emergency room calls and more than 9,200 hospitalizations.
5) “Joe Biden’s Bidenomics has led to the loss of $10,000 of spending power for the average family.” (Senator Tim Scott)
THIS IS FALSE.
Economists agree that the $1.9 trillion pandemic rescue package did contribute to inflation, but it was not the sole cause of rising prices. There was also the stimulus passed under Donald J. Trump and the monetary stimulus by the Federal Reserve, along with disruptions to supply chains caused by Covid-19.