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Spirituality is the paramount remedy used to soothe the bruised egos of the most embattled characters
25. Listopad 2011

Spirituality is the paramount remedy used to soothe the bruised egos of the most embattled characters. Though I dub myself an agnostic at the present I did grow up in the Baptist church culture. When the characters, especially the older folks, get to singing hymns and praying to God for mercy it takes me back to the pews and choir stands and Sunday school classes I frequented as a youngster. I deeply appreciate that in this play, as with Tyler Perry’s other plays, a healthy Christian lifestyle is defined as being humble, loving and honest with those around you. All that other silliness associated with modern day Christianity (the custom made suits, the pompous Sunday hats, the hypocritical anti-LGBT protestors, the rabid pro-life fanatics, etc.) is cut away and what’s left is the purity of what “WWJD” really means is showcased on that stage. I watch a Perry play and it reminds me about the times that felt low and sad and confused. I’m reminded that acts like prayer are not foolishness or myth. Asking God for guidance can result in a positive solution for one’s dire dilemma.

That being said, the conclusion of the play is probably one of the most bizarre that has come from Tyler Perry’s imagination. I’ve seen a lot of crazy things but even I couldn’t help but raise an eyebrow when Lillian drops the biggest plot bomb on her clan.
And how do the characters react when all is revealed? They gather together in the living room and console each other with Christmas songs. Yeah, it sounds nutty but once those amazing voices start belting holiday favorites including “Do You Hear What I Hear?” and “Mary, Did You Know?” even I found it easy to accept all the family drama and shut off the DVD with a smile and some humming.

Though I enjoy Madea and I do realize that this is her Christmas special I wish that Tyler Perry would stop having her just sit in the middle of a scene and drone on. When she gathers the characters around her and starts spouting her fractured wisdom it causes the momentum of the play to stop. All the other characters just sit there and are held captive in a state of muteness. I prefer the old way that Madea would play therapist where she would sit with the character and advise him/her on a more exclusive basis.

DVD Lowdown: ‘Beginners’ gets to the heart of the matter
24. Listopad 2011

DVD Lowdown: ‘Beginners’ gets to the heart of the matter

Love is at the quirky core of writer/director Mike Mills’ brilliantly heart-on-sleeve “Beginners.” Feeling it, expressing it, avoiding it - they’re themes heartedly woven into a narrative about grief, starting over and how to react should your 75-year-old father come out just before he dies.

In Mills’ delicately handled film, Christopher Plummer’s Hal, based on Mills’ own father, finally reveals his homosexual feelings - after his wife of 50 years passes - to his son Oliver (a sweet, empathetic Ewan McGregor). Hal navigates the gay world with gusto: He goes to gay clubs, subscribes to the Advocate, finds a gay circle of friends, falls in love with Andy (Goran Visnjic). And he doesn’t expect Oliver to understand - why would he? He’s not gay. But, of course, times have changed and, much to Hal’s surprise, Oliver knows what a rainbow flag stands for and who the heck this Harvey Milk guy was.

Their relationship is lovely and ultimately heartbreaking, as Hal lives out his last few months fully with Oliver trying desperately in that time to understand the father he never knew (though his mother, played magnificently in flashbacks by Mary Page Keller, had a better idea). Through him, though, Oliver better understands himself and his place in the world. How to love, and how to live. And why it’s better not to wait for the lion when you can have the giraffe, a touching and honest dialogue in Mills’ script that really gets to the root of Oliver’s love-conflicted character, a hesitant lover to new crush Anna (a charming and interesting Melanie Laurent).

“Beginners” is masterfully written with offbeat style and loving candor, an authentic slice-of-life that never feels phony. So much of that’s also in Plummer and McGregor’s immaculately mined father-son relationship, treated tenderly by both actors (Visnjic, who has a touching interaction with McGregor near the end, is also terrific as the doting boyfriend).

And that dog? Arthur, the cute pup with separation anxiety, is so damn adorable with his subtitled lines and don’t-leave-me whimpering. It’s a sweetness - also in the lounge music and use of photo montages - that the deeply personal “Beginners” knows how to access despite the tragic death-of-my-dad inevitably, making it one of the best, and most rewarding, films of the year by far.

DVD Lowdown: ‘Beginners’ gets to the heart of the matter
24. Listopad 2011

Love is at the quirky core of writer/director Mike Mills’ brilliantly heart-on-sleeve “Beginners.” Feeling it, expressing it, avoiding it - they’re themes heartedly woven into a narrative about grief, starting over and how to react should your 75-year-old father come out just before he dies.

In Mills’ delicately handled film, Christopher Plummer’s Hal, based on Mills’ own father, finally reveals his homosexual feelings - after his wife of 50 years passes - to his son Oliver (a sweet, empathetic Ewan McGregor). Hal navigates the gay world with gusto: He goes to gay clubs, subscribes to the Advocate, finds a gay circle of friends, falls in love with Andy (Goran Visnjic). And he doesn’t expect Oliver to understand - why would he? He’s not gay. But, of course, times have changed and, much to Hal’s surprise, Oliver knows what a rainbow flag stands for and who the heck this Harvey Milk guy was.

Their relationship is lovely and ultimately heartbreaking, as Hal lives out his last few months fully with Oliver trying desperately in that time to understand the father he never knew (though his mother, played magnificently in flashbacks by Mary Page Keller, had a better idea). Through him, though, Oliver better understands himself and his place in the world. How to love, and how to live. And why it’s better not to wait for the lion when you can have the giraffe, a touching and honest dialogue in Mills’ script that really gets to the root of Oliver’s love-conflicted character, a hesitant lover to new crush Anna (a charming and interesting Melanie Laurent).

“Beginners” is masterfully written with offbeat style and loving candor, an authentic slice-of-life that never feels phony. So much of that’s also in Plummer and McGregor’s immaculately mined father-son relationship, treated tenderly by both actors (Visnjic, who has a touching interaction with McGregor near the end, is also terrific as the doting boyfriend).

And that dog? Arthur, the cute pup with separation anxiety, is so damn adorable with his subtitled lines and don’t-leave-me whimpering. It’s a sweetness - also in the lounge music and use of photo montages - that the deeply personal “Beginners” knows how to access despite the tragic death-of-my-dad inevitably, making it one of the best, and most rewarding, films of the year by far.

DVD reviews: Harry Potter; Larry Crowne
11. Listopad 2011

Ten years and eight films after Harry Potter’s cinematic adventures began, the saga resolves in ways suspenseful, romantic and thrilling.In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2, returning director David Yates, screenwriter Steve Kloves and many other creative hands pull out all the stops for the grand finale of the boy wizard’s long battle with evil Lord Voldemort, a snake-faced creep played with masterful menace by Ralph Fiennes.The action rarely flags in the film, which at 131 minutes is the shortest of the Harry Potter sagas,Video: Thousands surround White House to protest Canadian pipeline

The long-anticipated siege of Hogwarts gets what can only be called the Lord of the Rings treatment, with visual mayhem and character dynamics writ large. Even viewers fully versed in the plot will find themselves catching their breath as long-simmering developments reach fruition and apparent red herrings are addressed.The only disappointing aspect of this otherwise stellar send-off to Harry Potter is the post-production conversion to 3-D (available with the Blu-ray), which adds absolutely nothing to the experience.

This outing can be summed up by the final three words of the final Potter book, which I present as a teasing acronym to avoid spoilers: “AWW.” That may also be the sound you make at the conclusion of the film’s romantic epilogue, which will prompt many smiles of satisfaction.

Extras, mostly on the Blu-ray, include deleted scenes, Maximum Movie Mode, a conversation with Daniel Radcliffe and J.K. Rowling and numerous featurettes.

Video: Thousands surround White House to protest Canadian pipeline
7. Listopad 2011

WASHINGTON Thousands of demonstrators, including movie stars and a Nobel laureate, surrounded the White House Sunday to protest a proposed Canadian pipeline that’s serving as a flashpoint for the U.S. environmental movement while resonating with Americans fed up with corporate interests.

The demonstration is the latest in a series of White House protests aimed at convincing U.S. President Barack Obama to thwart Calgary-based TransCanada’s attempts to build the Keystone XL pipeline that would carry Alberta oilsands crude through six U.S. states to Gulf Coast refineries Hillary Adams said she waited so long to expose her father

Mark Ruffalo, nominated for an Academy Award last year, and Jody Williams, winner of the 1997 Nobel Peace Prize for her work on banning landmines, were among a sea of protesters who marched along several downtown blocks, including past the U.S. Treasury building, before surrounding the White House in a mammoth circle.

Bill McKibben, a leading U.S. environmentalist and one of the protest’s organizers, described the scene as both “a big O-shaped hug” or “a symbolic house arrest.”

Obama, however, was golfing in northern Virginia for most of the afternoon. His motorcade arrived back at the White House just before 5 p.m. without any interference from the protesters.

Hillary Adams said she waited so long to expose her father
4. Listopad 2011

I would think it would be very difficult,” said Aransas County Judge C.H. “Burt” Mills Jr. “Personally I don’t see how he can recover from this.”If the judicial commission and police investigations don’t lead to punishment or charges, Adams could be safe on the bench until he’s up for re-election in three Movie Studios Win Lawsuit Against Zediva

Hillary Adams said she waited so long to expose her father because she was terrified at what might have happened had she done so while still living under his roof. She said the outpouring of support and encouragement she’s received since posting the clip is tempered by the sadness that it’s her father repeatedly lashing her with a belt and threatening to beat her “into submission.”

During an interview with her and her mother Thursday on NBC’s “Today” show, Hillary Adams said her father regularly beat her for a period of time. She has repeatedly said she didn’t post the clip to spite her father, and that she hopes it forces him to seek help.Her mother blamed her ex-husband’s bouts of violence on an “addiction.” She called it a “family secret,” but declined to elaborate.

In his statement, though, William Adams painted a starkly different picture of why his daughter posted the clip.Just prior to the YouTube upload, a concerned father shared with his 23-year-old daughter that he was unwilling to continue to work hard and be her primary source of financial support, if she was going to simply `drop out,’ and strive to achieve no more in life than to work part time at a video game store,” Adams’ statement said. “Hillary warned her father if he reduced her financial support, and took away her Mercedes automobile, which her father had provided, he would live to regret it.”Hillary Adams did not immediately respond to email requests Thursday seeking a response.

Movie Studios Win Lawsuit Against Zediva
3. Listopad 2011

The nation’s biggest movie studios have won a copyright infringement lawsuit against video-streaming startup Zediva Inc.Zediva’s founders thought they had discovered a legal loophole for online viewing of movies by having customers rent DVDs physically located in the Silicon Valley. New customization features

U.S. District Judge John Walter in Los Angeles disagreed. He issued a permanent injunction Friday prohibiting the company from continuing its service. The Motion Picture Association of America said that Zediva’s operators agreed to pay the studios $1.8 million.

Zediva did not have an immediate comment on the ruling when contacted on Monday.Companies are allowed to rent physical copies of DVDs without permission from the movie studios, the way libraries are allowed to freely lend out books. But Internet streaming rights generally require separate payments, and studios have typically been reluctant to license newer movies for fear that would cut into DVD sales. That’s one reason Netflix Inc.’s streaming library isn’t as extensive as its DVD offerings.

Zediva’s creators thought they could circumvent that by tying Internet streaming to a physical DVD kept at the company’s data centers.The MPAA, representing Hollywood studios, sued Zediva’s parent company WTV Systems and founder and CEO Venkatesh Srinivasan in April.The studios, including Time Warner Inc.’s Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc., Sony Corp.’s Columbia Pictures and The Walt Disney Co.’s Disney Enterprises Inc., had argued that Zediva’s technology meant it was publicly performing movies, violating copyright law.Zediva, which charged $1.99 to rent movies, spent two years developing its technology.

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