March 15th, 2021

We are now into a year with Covid-19 and the shut down measures. Funny how time flies. A year ago I was on a beach in Florida on the Gulf Coast. In this time I have been physically at my day job office less than five times. It is a work-from-home environment, where the endless cycle is work, eat and sleep repeat. If I can work out and get outside then I do so. It’s movie-wise like Groundhog Day. We just flip the calendar pages every once and a while. This time has meant no visits to movie theatres save one for me to see Tenet. Otherwise they are are all online, streamed or Crave. I have multiple streaming services, but not all (no Amazon, no Zulu etc.)

This week, I caught Richard Jewell on Crave. This was a Clint Eastwood film about the events surrounding the bombing at the Atlanta Olympics back in 1996. Jewell was a simple-minded security guard (putting it generously) who was first on the scene to spot a suspicious backpack at a local park where a concert was being played. His response to alert police and other security was a reason why spectators were removed from the immediate area. The bomb went off, but not before it was kicked over and the brunt of the blast went skyward. Much like Scully (also an Eastwood film), surprisingly and inexplicably the government authorities chose to make a suspect of the hero in the situation. An FBI leak put the press, media and papparazzi into full gear, and the initial hero (Jewell) was turned into a suspect. His life is changed forever. This movie has a good cast with Jon Hamm, Sam Rockwell (always reliable), Kathy Bates and Olivia Wilde. Wilde plays a reporter who has no scruples whatsoever and will do whatever is necessary to “get a story”. One of the letdowns for me was the resolution to her story as it continued. It simply wasn’t believable. Add to this the lead character himself, who I had little doubt was much like he really was, and you could see the challenges for Rockwell who is trying to represent him and defend him. In the end it isn’t compelling. It is sad. It isn’t as interesting as the Sully story, but the style is the same. Clint seems to be retelling his stories and there is little new in this effort. You may recognize the lead as one of the hit-men in the movie I, Tonya. So this a pass. On the follow up side, Jewell in real life died at the age of 44. Watching what he ate, and how he looked you can see how that can be the case.

On the Record: This documentary is about the hip hop musical icon Russell Simmons. He is the mogul who has been involved with Phat Farm, Def Jam, record producing working with artists such as Beastie Boys, LL Cool J, Public Enemy and Eddie Murphy. He was married from 1998-2009. This story is about some women around him, both aspiring artists as well as female executives who were coming forward to accuse him of sexual assault. There are similar stories from these women, and it speaks to their struggle to come forward, realizing what that will mean as a woman who must repeat a lurid story, but also for the black community who wants to celebrate their successes. By all measures, Simmons was, and remains, a success. As an aside it isn’t a surprise to me that in the music business where women can be objectified and window dressing that behind the scenes there is a current of the same attitude. Simmons lured these women often into his NYC flat with a promise of a CD in the music player that the woman would want to hear. Before they know it, they are overpowered by this man. Do I believe them? Does it matter? Do they appear genuine? Ask yourself this: why would anyone want to sign up for this type of scrutiny? The one executive goes from the frying pan and into the fire. Sad. Because as they point out, what music wasn’t created because she was silenced? That is the real loss. I, for one, believe the stories, since there is a pattern. Definitely worth a viewing.

Last Chance U: Basketball: This documentary follows from the earlier documentary about Football. It is completely engaging as you are immersed into the California Junior College league team from East LA. They have players who have come down from Div I schools, or also those who were not academically eligible for Div I and others who want a scholarship. There is also the coach and his assitants. Everyone will profit with winning and success. You need to remember that these young men all have their stories, like Deshaun the point guard who lost his Dad at an early age and later as a young man his Mom from cancer. Others like Joe is a very skilled man-child who has incredible raw talent but an attitude that can turn on a dime. His game can turn from outstanding dominant star to a pouting, angry, entitled, swearing cancer on a team that is striving for greatness. A team truly needs them all. I am one episode from completing this 8 episode series and cannot wait to find out how it all turns out. I care for these young men, and cheer for them, and their coaches. Do they win the State Championship? We will soon find out. Will the players get the scholarships? We will see. At the same time, I think that there are too many yelling scenes in the gym practicing. Those could have been cut down. It is the games and the backgrounds of these players that matter, to me anyway. This was very good and I have no hesitation in saying that I would recommend it.

On we go through 2021, and dealing with vaccines and Covid-19. I am hopeful that we are turning the corner. Globally. It is hard to imagine that pockets of the US like Texas are now fully open without masks. Business is business, and they are open for business. Florida too has many spectators watching the TPC golf championship. Maybe Canada and other countries are taking this all too seriously, and over-clubbing with the lockdown. But the light at the end of the tunnel is vaccines that we all hope are making a difference. It is a delicate balance, and we all hope for the days to be behind us, and hopefully aren’t talking about Covid-19 in March 2022. Stay Safe. Stay well. The 2021 Oscar Nominations have been released this morning and in a thin year it makes for interesting and diverse choices. I will review more after I go through in more detail.