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!

Category: Local Page 1 of 22

Columns on local goings on could mean the Quad Cities of IA/IL (Moline, IL or Davenport, IA); Chicago; or Austin, Tx, since Connie spends parts of each year in those towns where she has homes. ‘Of local interest” could mean politics, opinion pieces, or business or entertainment-related subjects.

“New York Times” Reveals Details of Trump’s Tax Records

The New York Times article (which I read) says Trump paid $750 in taxes in 2016 and again in 2017 but no taxes at all in 10 of the last 15 years. “A devastating picture of a president who is counting on the presidency to prop him up.”

That assessment is consistent with the reasons that were given back in 2016 about why DJT finally did what he had often threatened to do and ran for president. He didn’t expect to win, but he felt it would burnish his fading brand.

Keep in mind that Trump has $421 million coming due within 4 years, including a possible $100 million (plus interest) penalty on the refund he got in 2010 for $72.9 million on the $95 million he had paid over 18 years. (Now in dispute with the IRS). It seems that, if you were really and truly wiped out in a bankruptcy, with nothing to show for your former business, you could request a tax refund, BUT, DJT claimed to have lost everything in the financial collapse of his casino when, in reality, he got 5% of the new casino company, which presents a problem for the refund he received.

Trump has always been bailed out by his wealthy father. But Daddy is dead and Trump has not been a good steward of his money, let alone of our country’s money (The national debt has risen by $6.6 trillion on Trump’s watch.)

Very few of the 500 or so companies that make up Trump’s holdings are money-makers. After his good year on “The Apprentice” in 2014, for which he received 50% of the revenue, he bought many properties (something like 12 golf clubs) which was ill-advised. Only Trump Tower of all of his purchases seems to have made money ($20 million a year) and he still has paid none of the principal on the $100 million that is due in 2022. Trump personally guaranteed $300 billion in loans, and they are coming due.

True, there were temporary gains from his run, including an uptick in memberships to Mar A Lago which brought in an extra $5 million a year, but owning country clubs is not a very lucrative proposition and they have consistently lost money for him, including $315 million lost by such courses as Doral in Miami, which he bought in 2012. Trump’s Washington Hotel has also not been doing well, despite the unwritten rule that those paying court to the U.S. President should stay there. It has lost $55 million since opening in 2016.

One of the more troubling bits of information, besides the fact that Trump paid almost no taxes in over 15 years, is the additional information that he paid taxes to other foreign entities, such as the $156,824 he paid on his $3 million in income from the Philippines, or the $145,400 he paid to India on the $2.3 million he made there, or the $15,598 he paid to Panama. He also earned $1 million from Turkey in 2012. At one point, Trump was selling stocks and bonds to raise more money (he only has $873,000 left to sell) and he has always licensed his name ($427.4 to license his name and the image of Trump). The Donald used to like to brag that he “owned the Empire State Building.” He did own the land on which it sat once, but no more.

Then there was the practice of calling Seven Springs in Westchester County (Bedfford, NY) an investment property some of the time and a residence some of the time.

Also troubling: taking a $22 million property tax deduction when a 2017 law says you can only deduct $10,000 a year. Most millionaires in Trump’s neighborhood financially end up paying 24.1% of their wealth to the government, but Trump has always claimed that he has lost so much money that it wiped out his need to pay anything into the treasury. Practices like paying Ivanka “consulting fees” ($747,622) to travel to Hawaii and Vancouver, British Columbia are probably not going to fly with the IRS. Neither will the $1.1 million in “consulting fees” or the $5 million collected from the hotel deal in Azerbaijan.

As historian Douglas Brinkley said, “He’s an outlaw that’s in trouble.”

How quaint to realize that it was Nixon’s only paying $792.81 on his 1970 income of $200,000 that caused it to be considered routine for presidents to release their tax records, something which, until Trump, had occurred with regularity since 1973.

FREE Book Give-away Details & October “Weekly Wilson” Programs

The Weekly Wilson program of 9/24 was a pot-pourri of my favorite topics: politics, movies, books and random facts.

I did announce the FREE give-away that will coincide with the debate dates. Consider it your reward for being a good citizen and sitting through the 4 debate nights: 9/29; 10/7; 10/15; 10/22 and 10/23.

What is being given away?

The book BEE GONE: A POLITICAL PARABLE, via Amazon, will be totally FREE as an e-book on the debate nights, but only on those 5 days.

 

We are allowed 5 more “free” nights with BEE GONE in e-book format, so we added one additional free night following the final debate. That will be October 23rd, in honor of Ruth Bader Ginsberg.

So, the debate nights, again are: September 29, Tuesday (FREE E-BOOK NIGHTS)

October 7, Wednesday (VP debate)

                                                             October 15, Thursday

                                                             October 22, Thursday

                                                             October 23, Friday (RBG Night)

If you have interest in owning a comic-book like award-winning e-book that is a stroll down memory lane regarding the events of 2016, you can order BEE GONE: A POLITICAL PARABLE free of charge on those nights. We also put the paperback price down 50% and have reduced the e-book price during this run-up to the election.

UNFIT” DIRECTOR on OCTOBER 15th

On October 15th, I will speak with Dan Partland, director of the Netflix documentary “Unfit” as my guest on Weekly Wilson, the podcast (Thursdays at 7 p.m.).  This was the #1 rental on Netflix this month and I highly recommend it.

DISCUSSIONS WITH MICHAEL SERRAPICA on Weekly Wilson Podcast

Those of you who have listened in to discussions with Michael Serrapica, author of “Conned Conservatives and Led-On Liberals” will be happy to learn that he is probably going to be discussing each of the debates with me, as they occur.

The discussion dates to talk about the debate(s) just past will be:

October 1st, Thursday – Discussion of Debate #1

October 8, Thursday – Discussion of the VP debate

October 15, Thursday – DAN PARTLAND of “Unfit”

October 22, Thursday – Discussion of the 2nd presidential debate of October 15

October 29th, Thursday – Discussion of the final (3rd) presidential debate of October 22nd

Firefly II, 20th Anniversary Prius, Almost Drives A Mile Before Being Rear-ended

Firefly II

It’s Tuesday and I drove to the Toyota dealership to pick up my brand new Toyota Prius.

This wasn’t just ANY Prius. It is a 2021 Twentieth Anniversary Prius, with only 1200 being made, nationwide, with exactly the type of detail, and our dealership (Hiland Toyota) getting only 2 cars: red and white, both with black interiors. I am a Prius devotee and used to take my EICC auto body repair students out to the parking lot to see and test drive my 2002 car, when they were a rarity. The students were then asked to write a 5-sentence paragraph about their impressions of the car. My favorite? “This car is too quiet. I could never pick up chicks in this car.” And then there was the rather large football-player sized student who felt his fingers were too big to work on the engine!

This will make the sixth (6th) Prius I have purchased, beginning in 2002 with the model that looked like a Ford Focus (not a hatchback, in other words) and retailed for $20,050 with a $500 rebate from the government for giving the brand new hybrid technology a try. My husband was                  somewhat skeptical of the claims for the car, but I had been driving a Cadillac, one of 4 in a row, and gas was very expensive at that point in time.

So, I bought the Water Bug (name of the first car) and it served well and honorably, until my daughter-in-law was hit by a BMW. In 2004, I moved up to purchase one of the new hatchback models, because, since I wrote books, it would be a great Bookmobile, which the Firefly was. (As you can tell from the name, it was red—salsa red). I loved this car and I would not have traded, except that the son and wife needed a second vehicle and I really wanted to try out the hatchback, which I loved then and loved now for its convenience and utility.

Then, my daughter graduated from high school and needed a car in Nashville, Tennessee, where she attended Belmont University.

I gave my daughter the 2004 Firefly and moved up to a 2008 Grasshopper (Sea Foam Green). I really liked the lay-out on the green 2008 Prius, as I could put my purse on the center console, rather than on the floor of the passenger side.

In 2013, I moved up to a blue Prius (the Blue Bird), selling the Grasshopper (which is still in the family) to my son and family, as the Water Bug had been felled by the BMW in a small fender bender. When my son went to get his I-Pass off the viser, just for fun, he tried to see if the car would still start up and the motor turned right over. Only the chassis had been crushed beyond repair. (Good bye, Water Bug.)

When we began spending winter time in Texas, we bought yet another used Prius, and it was (also) a 2008, which I have dubbed the Silver Fish. It sits in our garage in Texas half the year.

But, today, with the daughter’s 2004 Firefly beginning to have some issues and with the hope of cheering myself up during a pandemic and with the hope that the used Firefly can be sold by the daughter and help support her as she and the entire airline industry (she flies for SW) try to return to solvency, I went to pick up my Brand New Supersonic Red Prius, Firefly II. It has more bells and whistles than I can list here and I really like it.

We made it to the VERY FIRST stoplight that turns up Kennedy Drive from the Toyota dealership. My new car had only 3 miles on the speedometer, most of those from driving it on the grounds of the dealership. We literally had probably not driven 100 yards to this stop light and had been stopped at it for about a minute when a car with Texas license plates and a driver with NO insurance ran into the back of my BRAND NEW CAR.

Yes, we called the police.

What are the odds, Folks? Just what are the odds.

.

Christopher Nolan’s “Tenet” Hits Theaters

Director Christopher Nolan started tinkering around with the concept of time many years ago on a much smaller budget with 2000’s “Memento.” I liked it so much that, on a visit to the Twin Cities, I took a girlfriend and her husband to see it, my second time. It was unique, original, interesting, exciting and it didn’t run 150 minutes. It was even nominated for Best Original Screenplay at that year’s Oscars.

We’ve now been treated to “Memento’s” successors from Christopher Nolan: “Insomnia (2002); “The Dark Knight Trilogy” (2005-2012); “The Prestige” (2006); “Inception” (2010 (8 Oscar nods); “Interstellar” (2014); and Dunkirk (2017) (nominated for Best Picture and Best Director). No less an authority than Martin Scorsese said, “Christopher Nolan creates beautifully made films on a big scale.”

Nowhere is that scale more evident than in “Tenet,” which was budgeted at $205 million. It filmed in Estonia, Italy, the UK, Denmark, India, Norway, and cities such as Kiev, Mumbai, Washington, London, and Oslo.

The battle action scenes recall “Dunkirk.” The espionage plot summons memories of “Inception.” A whole lot of people talking through masks echoes “Bane” in The Dark Knight Rises.” (We learn that the reason so many people are wearing masks is that, if you go back through time, you have to take your own air and try not to come into contact with your former self.)

Oddly enough, I actually wrote an entire novel for Lachesis Press (Nova Scotia) where the hero travels back through time (“Out of Time”). The original plot premise was not mine, but a collaborator’s, who then disappeared, writing only one page of the entire two hundred and fifty and giving a whole new meaning to the term “collaboration.”

Time travel as a theme presented many unique difficulties (which I was on my own to figure out). Considering that I dropped out of Physics in high school after Day One, imagine how thrilled I was to read about wormholes and other arcane concepts. Even though I was a fan of television’s “Fringe” when it was on the air, love the works of Philip K. Dick, and have watched numerous films where characters travel through time (“Time After Time,” “Déjà Vu,” “Looper,” “Somewhere in Time,” “12 Monkeys,” et. al.). I remember asking that very question of my instructor in a screenwriting class dedicated to turning my novel into a film script.

“Can a person from the future confront himself in the past?” I asked.

My professor said, “Nobody has ever traveled through time, so do whatever you want.”

Wise words.

My hero (Dante) did confront and speak to himself in the past, and I will reveal one tiny spoiler by telling you that John David Washington confronts himself in a fight scene, because I know that revelation will not ruin the scene for you.

Playing around with time is not a new concept for Nolan.  “Memento,” his break-through film, did just that. However, it was far easier to understand what was going on in “Memento” than it is in “Tenet.”

My notes include this phrase: “Color me confused.”

One critic, in a waggish moment, commented on John David Washington’s facial hair by saying that it probably grew there while he was waiting for Nolan to explain the plot to him. The script line I wrote down indicated that the plot has to do with trying to prevent WW III by using a type of inverse radiation manufactured by fusion. (If that confuses you, join the club.) Another film critic, Mark Keronode, said of Nolan that he is “living proof that you don’t have to appeal to the lowest common denominator to be profitable.”

This, as it turns out, is predictive, as the film has already managed to eke out two and one-half million more dollars than it cost. But it is not the entertaining, original film that garnered Best Original Screenplay Oscar nominations for Nolan. World-wide, the film has made back its considerable investment. It had the potential to be a studio-bankrupting movie like “Heaven’s Gate,” but it is garnering appreciation for the scope of the project, at least, and is currently about breaking even, with a worldwide take of $207,500,000.

I’m not going to explain the opening scene, set in the Kiev Opera House, because to do so would be a spoiler, but suffice it to say that it sets up the first of many magnificent settings. I kept thinking of the tour of locations used in “Game of Thrones.” I wish there was such a tour of the various sets used in “Tenet.”

Others have said the non-stop action, coupled with the gobbledy-gook explanation(s), reminded them of a James Bond movie. To them, I say, “Fair enough.”  But with Bond you often got memorable musical themes like “Goldfinger’ or “Live and Let Die.” Here we are saddled with a pounding often-overly-loud and not-very-melodic score by Ludwig Goransson. [The composer’s name says it all.]

The cinematography by Hoyte Van Hoytema is gorgeous and the film does confirm that, as “Variety” said, Nolan is “the premier big-canvas storyteller of his generation.” “Tenet” also confirms Michael Mann’s verdict on Nolan as “a complete auteur” but the overly complicated explanations just bore the bejesus out of the audience.

So, everything is going backwards in this film. We’re going to learn about the Grandfather Paradox (don’t ask) and reversing time and hear lines of dialogue like, “Each generation looks after its own survival,” and “You have a future in the past.” There will be discussions about the meaning that will rival the interpretations of the meaning(s) of the ending of “12 Monkeys” (1995), a Bruce Willis time travel opus.

John David Washington is dubbed “the protagonist” in this one. He gets no actual character name. This bit was just used in another Bruce Willis film (“Hard Kill”) where my podcast guest of last week, Sergio Rizzuto (aka, the bad guy) was simply referred to as “the Pardoner,” but at least in that film the explanation involved ripping off The Canterbury Tales. Here, it is just the way it is, without any explanation.

John David Washington (son of Denzel; star of “BlackKlansman”) partners with  Robert Pattinson (“Twilight”) as Neal, his partner, in this one. The female co-star is a blonde 6’ 2” actress named Elisabeth Debicki. Since Washington only stands 5’ 9” and the female lead is three inches taller and wears three inch heels most of the time, she appears freakishly tall in many scenes. I have a theory that she was cast in the part because she was one of the few actresses tall enough to be able to extend her leg from the back seat of a car and unlock the door lock with her toes without moving from the back seat. This could be wrong, but that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

Debicki’s character “Kat” is married to international arms dealer and all-around bad guy Richard Branagh as Andrei Sator. She tries to kill him twice. As they say, no love lost here.  Kat loathes her abusive husband, but they have a son (Max) and she is being blackmailed into staying with Andrei via threats that she will lose her son if she doesn’t do exactly what he says. On a very basic level, “Tenet” is about the extremes of absolute power.

Debicki displays very little warmth in the exchanges with her small son, and his part is so small that he doesn’t even rate a line. There is also no chemistry or love story between the Amazonian Kat and Washington, so the obligatory “I must go back through time to rescue Kat” struck me as a not-very-convincing old trope. For that matter, so was the “small weapon that can inexplicably end the world somehow” a concept used before.

I had just reviewed a Bruce Willis shot-in-Cincinnati movie (“Hard Kill”) in which there is a mysterious weapon that could end the world as we know it; the weapon was about the size of a pack of cigarettes. I complained then that how it worked was never clear and commented on its size. This film features another small weapon and the need to gather all the digits of an algorithm to activate whatever it does, which is never quite clear, although it is explained to us over and over and over.

“Tenet” spends roughly two hours of its 150-minute run time explaining what is happening, why it is happening, and what might happen next.

So much for “Show, don’t tell.”

Despite those lengthy explanations, the movie is still incredibly difficult to follow. Scene after scene of Washington, Pattinson, Branagh, and Debicki trying to convey the plot becomes exhausting.

It’s “Tenet’s” biggest failing and, while its cinematography, sets, most of its actig and its non-stop action are impressive (especially the highway chase scenes that run backwards), it comes off as an overlong exhausting effort.

Baby Hannah Gets Married (Sept. 6, 2020)

Elise, Jessica and Ava.

September 6th wedding of Hannah & Chris Poffenberger.

Niece Megan Wilson Eddy and daughter Stacey.

Son Scott with his daughters (Ava & Elise) and the bride and groom, Hannah and Chris.

Ava and Elise Wilson.

Ava & Elise Wilson.

Ring bearer.

Figge Museum Reception location.

The bride and groom.

 

Craig, Connie, Scott & Stacey

Scott & Jessica, Elise and Ava

A Look Back at Thoughts on Quora 2 Years Ago

The obvious answer to “Who in history should never have been born?” would be Adolph Hitler, but, updating that, let’s also nominate Donald J. Trump. The harm he is doing is growing to proportions that may make it impossible to right the ship of state unless we intervene much more quickly than is currently happening.

“Bee Gone: A Political Parable”

It’s all well and good to talk about the Mueller investigation and hope it will bring an end to the chaotic madness that putting up with Donald J. Trump hath wrought, but a film I saw recently suggested that we only have until 2020 to reverse global warming (which is not a priority on Trump’s watch) and every day he undertakes some expensive initiative that is either poorly thought out, not thought out at all, or deeply divisive and destructive.

If you still need examples of these things, after the shootings and the up tick in hate crimes and the forest fires in California, you just aren’t paying attention.

Meanwhile, we have agencies that are responsible for such things as the underground radioactive containers (the Department of the Interior) that are either not being run at all or are being run by people who are proven enemies of the departments they now head up.

I pray that I am over-reacting and that the massive debt Trump has loaded our country with will magically disappear, but reality has a bad habit of rearing its increasingly ugly head.

*******

The above was my Quora answer of nearly 2 years ago—BEFORE the pandemic hit. Feel free to leave your civil comments and we’ll have a dialogue that might lead to some sort of consensus. Light, not heat.

Jonathan Baker, Director, to Guest on Sept. 3rd on Weekly Wilson Podcast

         Milos Forman, Director

Thursday night’s Weekly Wilson podcast (7 to 8 p.m. on the Bold Brave Media Global Network) will feature aspiring director Jonathan Baker, whose film “Inconceivable,” featuring Nicolas Cage, Gina Gershon and Faye Dunaway, was released by Lionsgate and was the director’s first feature length film.

Jonathan had director Neal Thibedeau follow him as he contacted a variety of famous directors around and asked them to share their experiences shooting their very first film(s). Among those featured prominently in the documentary entitled “Becoming Iconic” are Taylor Hackford (“Ray,” “An Officer and a Gentleman,” “The Idolmaker”), John Badham (“Saturday Night Fever”), Adrian Lyne (“Fatal Attraction,” “Jacob’s Ladder”), Jodie Foster (“Little Man Tate”) and comments attributed to Warren Beatty, Ridley Scott and others. (See William Friedkin of “The Exorcist” pictured, below).

I had the pleasure of speaking at some length with Taylor Hackford the year that the Chicago International Film Festival celebrated its 50th anniversary. It was supposed to be a “group interview” with a number of film students from Columbia College in Chicago present, but I got the call to come and participate and it seemed, to me, that it was a good thing that there was at least one adult in the room who had been following Taylor Hackford’s career all the way back to “The Idolmaker” with Ray Sharkey breaking out in the role (a very young Peter Gallagher played the idol), because the twenty-something students only asked Hackford about “Ray.” They asked him about “Ray” with Jamie Foxx as Ray Charles over and over and over, but his career is about

so much more than just that film. However, I seriously doubt if the rest of those present had seen all of The Big Ones, as I had. Hackford, who, in real life, is married to consummate actress Helen Mirren, was a a very articulate and willing participant in the “group interview” and, at its conclusion, I felt that it had almost been one-on-one, since I was the only one who followed up with questions about the relationship between Richard Gere and his leading lady in “An Officer and a Gentleman,” for example.

Director Richard Linklater (“Dazed & Confused,” “Boyhood”) at the Texas Film Hall of Fame Awards on March 7, 2019 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Connie Wilson).

I saw the same friendly, gracious individual onscreen as I had met during that group interview, and, as a long-time movie buff, I liked the documentary “Becoming Iconic” very much.

It reminded me of another I attended at the Music Box in Chicago which was a full-length film focused on Brian DePalma’s movies.

Tune in on Thursday, September 3rd to hear Jonathan Baker and I talk about his career and don’t forget that this is a “live” show and you can call in at 866-451-1451.

Portland Mayor: Stay the Hell Out of the Way

“President Trump: For 4 years, we’ve had to live with you and your racist attacks on black people.  We learned early about your sexist attitudes towards women.  We’ve had to endure clips of you mocking a disabled man.

We’ve had to listen to your anti-democratic attacks on journalists.

We’ve read your tweets slamming private citizens to the point of receiving death threats.

And now you’re attacking Democratic mayors and the very institutions of democracy that have served this nation well since its founding.

Do you seriously wonder, Mr. President, why this is the first time in decades that America has seen this level of violence? 

It’s YOU who have created the hate and the division.

The Tweets that you have been putting out in the last 48 hours, attacking Democratic mayors, attacking those who are trying to bring resolution to the violence in their local communities.

You have an opportunity to uplift us and to bring us together to help us move through this difficult situation in our nation’s history, and, instead, you choose to play petty politics and to divide us.

That’s my reaction

So, I’m gonna do the work that I need to do here in my local community with my local officials, to take accountability for what is happeningi on our streets, and I’d appreciate that either the president support us or that you stay the hell out of the way.

Russell Crowe is “Unhinged” in the Film of the Same Name

About 62 percent of U.S. locations were open this weekend, with an estimated total gross of around $15 million to $16 million. If all theaters were open, $25 million or above would have been the total. That same weekend last year (which included the three days before Labor Day) totaled $92 million. Conclusion:  movie theaters are struggling to rise from the grave.

The lack of ongoing films is a key factor. In 2019 there were no new films that weekend. Aided by more theaters being open and a handful of new releases, this weekend’s numbers are nearly double last weekend’s grosses. However, these numbers suggest that a substantial part of the moviegoing public is, so far, not going back to the movies.

My last pre-pandemic movie was “The Way Back” (Ben Affleck) on Friday the 13th of March.

I returned to a regular sit-down inside theater to view Russell Crowe’s new movie, “Unhinged” when it opened on August 21st, which also happened to be the day the Regal Cinema opened. Since March 13th, I’ve seen plenty of movies, but all have been viewed in my living room or, once, at the drive-in theater. This film, directed by Derrick Borte, was a welcome return on many levels. It’s a great film for my “welcome back” movie, even if the theater staff were less-than-welcoming.

We selected an early time of day for this Friday showing, going to our local cinema at 4:30 p.m.  I was dressed like a beekeeper, with my face-mask. I had rubber gloves (in my purse), if the situation warranted.

When the masked attendants told us that this was, quite literally, the first time they had been open in 5 full months and we were their first audience, the fear of virus transmission faded. It dissipated even further when it turned out that there were only 4 people in the entire theater—two of us in the front row of the balcony and two more patrons in the highest row of the theater.

I honestly did not see the other couple at least fifty feet behind us. I pulled out my small pin-light flashlight (part of a pen) to glance briefly at my notes. A masked attendant immediately swooped down to tell me this was verboten. My response, “We are literally the only people here. Who am I bothering?” She pointed out the second couple in the back. They were so far back that it would have been quite the achievement to even notice my small light, (on for roughly five seconds). An attendant with not enough to do, methinks. Makes you wonder when you’ve, no doubt, sat through films where someone in your row has their phone out for the entire 90 minutes. (Not the case here).

We didn’t expect much, but we were pleasantly surprised. Russell Crowe’s new film is a heart-pounding thriller, with great stunts involving a variety of vehicles and good acting. The film reminded me of Steven Spielberg’s long-ago film “Duel,” a 1971 movie for TV that featured Dennis Weaver (Chester on “Gunsmoke“) as the driver of a large truck. That log-line: “A business commuter is pursued and terrorized by the malevolent driver of a massive tractor-trailer.”

In “Unhinged,” the log-line is this: “After a confrontation with an unstable man at an intersection, a woman becomes the target of his rage.” Russell Crowe’s character is  “The Man.” You come away with the moral lesson that it would have been a lot better if the woman mentioned, Caren Pistorius portraying Rachel, had simply tried to remain calm and polite. Instead, she went off into rude territory when Russell Crowe’s character sits overlong at a green light in his large truck.

True, Rachel’s offense was pretty minor, but one never knows what the person in the other vehicle has been through or what their mindset is. In this case, The Man has just murdered several people, set off by a bad divorce. He just doesn’t give a damn any more.

Rachel does give a damn, but she has  crossed paths with a character who is the equivalent of human TNT. It isn’t a matter of “if” The Man will blow up. He has already blown up. Now, it’s just a matter of when he will explode again and who it will be directed against next.

Instead of counting to ten and putting up with the slight delay, the hassled mother of a young son, Kyle (played by Gabriel Bateman), is snippy to the large man sitting behind the wheel of the big pick-up truck. She honks her horn when the light turns green, but he does not move. It doesn’t seem like much, but it isn’t going to take much to set off that keg of human dynamite.

One feels, as the movie progresses, that Rachel will regret that temporary rude behavior for the rest of her life—a life that might not last that long. Like The Terminator, The Man takes a licking, but just keeps ticking along on his vengeance-fueled mission.

Like the lead character Michael Douglas portrayed in “Falling Down” in that 1993 Joel Schumacher film, we could say that this is the story of “an ordinary man frustrated with the various flaws he sees in society, who begins to psychotically and violently lash out against them.”

In this film, The Man’s biggest beef is that “There is a fundamental inability to apologize to anyone for anything.” (Donald J. Trump: take note.) When Rachel is given the opportunity to apologize to The Man in a more sincere and genuine manner, Crowe tells her that sincerity is lacking. After that, it’s all crushed cars and psychotic collisions, with good acting, fine David Buckley music and great Brendan Galvin cinematography.

At the very beginning of the film, we see Crowe—who appears to weigh well over 300 pounds—breaking into a house presumably occupied by his ex-wife, killing the occupants, and setting fire to the house. That done, he tosses his wedding ring into the back seat of his vehicle. The scene is set for Crowe’s all-consuming rage to fester and spread.

It is just Rachel’s luck that she is having a bad day, herself, including running late and getting fired. After seeing this film, you might think twice about laying on the horn when the car ahead of you irritates you. There is a lack of civility abroad in the land and it is nowhere more evident than in traffic altercations. It even has a name: road rage. It has crept into politics and I, for one, hope that the message of behaving in a civil, polite manner rubs off on that—and all other—arenas.

Add the bad day each character is having together and you have the makings of a show-down between The Man, who seems to have been “born angry” and Rachel, who will do anything to protect her son and her brother.

Jimmi Simpson plays Andy, Rachel’s good friend and attorney in her contentious divorce. Viewers will recognize Jimmi as the actor who played young William in “West World” (old William is Ed Harris) for 12 episodes beginning in 2016. Simpson also has appeared in “Date Night.”

I left the theater on Friday the 13th with a good movie and returned to “Unhinged,” 5 months later, with another good movie. Try it; you’ll like it.

 

Chadwick Boseman of “Black Panther” Dead at 43

Chadwick Boseman at the premiere of “Marshall” in October, 2017. (Photo by Connie Wilson)

The news that Chadwick Boseman was dead at 43, which came to us on Friday, August 28th, was very sad news, indeed. Boseman had been battling colon cancer for 4 years. He was married to Taylor Simone Ledward.

This young actor from Anderson, South Carolina, was a great one.  He was the son of Carolyn and LeRoy Boseman, African American immigrants from Sierra Leone and Nigeria. His portrayal of Jackie Robinson in the film “42” with Harrison Ford cemented him as a leading man in 2013, but Chadwick had been acting as far back as 2003, when he portrayed a character named Reggie Montgomery on “All My Children.”

Ironically, when he expressed reservations about the racial stereotypes inherent in the Reggie Montgomery character, he was replaced by his co-star in “Black Panther,” Michael B. Jordan.

All the way back to his high school days, Chadwick had been interested in directing and only began acting so he could learn how to interact with his cast. In his junior year of high school, in fact, he wrote a play entitled “Crossroads” following the death of a classmate.

After graduating from T.L. Hanna High School in 1995, Chadwick went on to attend Howard University in Washington, D.C., where one of his instructors was Phylicia Rashad. Chadwick and some fellow students had been accepted to attend the Oxford Mid-Summer Program at the British Drama Academy in London. Rashad approached Denzel Washington to help fund the students’ trip there.

Boseman also attended the New York City Digital Film Directing Academy in New York City and did some teaching in the city while living in Brooklyn, but eventually moved to Los Angeles in 2008.

By 2013, he was acting in the movies that he would define with his talent, as with his portrayal of King T’Challa in “Black Panther.”

Sterling K. Brown (October, 2017, Chicago International Film Festival.) [Photo by Connie Wilson]

I met Chadwick Boseman in Chicago in 2017 when he and other actors, such as Sterling K. Brown, appeared in support of “Marshall,” a film in which Boseman played the title role. He was kind and articulate in answering our questions and the cast was like a “Who’s Who” of current Black stars. He was luminous and had a real presence.

Boseman was a gracious and cordial “movie star,” as were the others present in October, 2017 at the Chicago International Film Festival that year. His very presence was impressive, especially since we now know that all the while he was making films like “Marshall,” the “Avengers” series, and “Black Panther” he was fighting this disease. Privately, Boseman was already battling the colon cancer that would ultimately take his life. He had been diagnosed with Stage III colon cancer, which increased to Stage IV cancer. He had surgeries and had endured radiation and surgeries all during the years when he was portraying characters like the King of Wakanda, T’Challa, in “Black Panther,” the “Avengers” series of movies, Thurgood Marshall in “Marshall” and a character in “Da 5 Bloods,” the 2020 Spike Lee film.

This disease claimed my own father many years ago, metastasizing from the colon to his liver and other organs, eventually even invading his brain. It is my fervent hope that this tragic loss will cause others to have frequent colonoscopies to find and cure the colon cancer that, if caught in time, is survivable.

If not caught in time, it can claim the life of even such a specimen as Chadwick Boseman. General recommendations are to have such tests beginning at age 50, but obviously that is not always soon enough if there is a family history.

Once that family history exists, the general recommendation is to have colonscopies every three years, rather than the normal every five years. Katie Couric’s husband died young from colon cancer, and she would echo my hope that this unnecessary death of such a talented young man might spur all of us to be vigilant.

Chadwick Boseman (Photo by Connie Wilson).

Chadwick Boseman’s words to a graduating class: “Purpose is why you are here on the planet at this particular time in history. The struggles along the way are only meant to shape you for your purpose.”

Films from Wikipedia.org:

2008The Express: The Ernie Davis StoryFloyd LittleGary Fleder[64]
2012The Kill HoleLt. Samuel DrakeMischa Webley[65]
201342Jackie RobinsonBrian Helgeland[64]
2014Draft DayVontae MackIvan Reitman[66]
2014Get on UpJames BrownTate Taylor[64]
2016Gods of EgyptThothAlex Proyas[67]
2016Captain America: Civil WarT’Challa / Black PantherAnthony & Joe Russo[68]
2016Message from the KingJacob KingFabrice Du WelzAlso executive producer[69]
2017MarshallThurgood MarshallReginald HudlinAlso co-producer[70]
2018Black PantherT’Challa / Black PantherRyan Coogler[71]
2018Avengers: Infinity WarAnthony & Joe Russo[72]
2019Avengers: Endgame[73]
201921 BridgesAndre DavisBrian KirkAlso producer[74]
2020Da 5 BloodsNorman Earl “Stormin’ Norm” HollowaySpike Lee[75]
TBAMa Rainey’s Black BottomLeveeGeorge C. WolfePost-production; posthumous release[76]

 

Television
YearTitleRoleNotesRef.
2003All My ChildrenReggie PorterRecurring role[24]
2003Third WatchDavid WaferEpisode: “In Lieu of Johnson”[77]
2004Law & OrderFoster KeyesEpisode: “Can I Get a Witness?”[77]
2006CSI: NYRondoEpisode: “Heroes”[78]
2008ERDerek TaylorEpisode: “Oh, Brother”[77]
2008Cold CaseDexter CollinsEpisode: “Street Money”[77]
2008–2009Lincoln HeightsNathaniel “Nate” Ray9 episodes[79]
2009Lie to MeCabe McNeilEpisode: “Truth or Consequences”[80]
2010Persons UnknownSergeant McNair13 episodes[78]
2010The GladesMichael RichmondEpisode: “Honey”[81][82]
2011CastleChuck RussellEpisode: “Poof, You’re Dead”[78]
2011FringeMark Little / Cameron JamesEpisode: “Subject 9[83]
2011Detroit 1-8-7Tommy WestinEpisode: “Beaten/Cover Letter”[84]
2011JustifiedRalph BeemanEpisode: “For Blood or Money”[78]
2018Saturday Night LiveHimselfEpisode: “Chadwick Boseman/Cardi B[85]
2021What If…?T’Challa / Black Panther / Star-LordFinal role
Guest voice role; posthumous release
[86]

Awards and nominations

YearAwardCategoryNominated workResultRef.
2017Saturn AwardsBest Supporting ActorCaptain America: Civil WarNominated[87]
2018MTV Movie & TV AwardsBest Performance in a MovieBlack PantherWon[88]
Best HeroWon
Best Fight (Black Panther vs M’Baku)Nominated
Best On-Screen Team (with Lupita Nyong’oLetitia Wright and Danai Gurira)Nominated
2018Saturn AwardsBest ActorNominated[89]
2019Screen Actors Guild AwardsOutstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion PictureWon[90]
2019NAACP Image AwardsOutstanding Actor in a Motion PictureWon[91]
Entertainer of the YearNominated
2020Outstanding Actor in a Motion Picture21 BridgesNominated[92]

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