Saturday, April 29, 2017

Tom Hanks Rocks Bruce Springsteen, After Saluting Jonathan Demme



Tom Hanks Rocks Bruce Springsteen, After Saluting Jonathan Demme – Tribeca Film Festival



The Tribeca Film Festival conversation between Tom Hanks and Bruce Springsteen was planned long in advance but took on an unanticipated poignancy in the timing Friday afternoon, as an overflow crowd jammed the Beacon Theatre on New York’s Upper West Side. Welcoming the crowd, festival producer Paula Weinstein dedicated the event to Jonathan Demme, who died Wednesday at home in the city.
“I realized what we really want as a festival is to dedicate today’s talk to the brilliant, extraordinary, committed, fabulous filmmaker Jonathan Demme,” Weinstein said, before bringing on the guests to a raucous welcome from the crowd. Hanks immediately picked up the theme. “I think the strongest union of our two names is from the motion picture Philadelphia; that was Jonathan Demme, who we just lost.” Both Hanks and Springsteen won Oscars for their work on the 1993 AIDS-related drama.
“He had Neil Young working first,” on the film, Springsteen recalled. “Neil came up with ‘Philadelphia,’ which ended the film, and he wanted a rock song for the beginning.” After a few futile tries, he was sent a clip from the film, “where the camera moves slowly through the streets of Philadelphia,” which became the title of the song and “took about two days, and that was it.”

Hanks came prepared with a sheaf of notes and an obsessed fan’s enthusiasm, which he put on display from the top. Turning to the audience, he said, “I’ll quote the lyric, and you complete the lyric. Complete the sentence: ‘My machine she’s a dud, I’m stuck in the mud,’ “
“Out stuck in the mud somewhere in the swamps of New Jersey,” the audience roared back, quoting “Rosalita (Come Out Tonight)” as soulfully as any congregation and preacher in a call-and-response prayer service. “Those of us who grew up on the West Coast were stunned to find there were swamps in New Jersey,” Hanks said. “We call it the Meadowlands,” the Boss replied.
Hanks referred frequently to Springsteen’s best-selling autobiography Born To Run in drawing his subject out. “Did Jersey make Springsteen, or did Springsteen make Jersey?” he wondered, citing the Garden States diversity of cultures ranging from “greasers and bikers’ to “swamps and great beaches, rodeos and circuses in the summertime, migrant workers, greasers and bikers – and the greatest city in the world about an hour and a half and a couple of bucks away. You also write about New Jersey as a p[lace you’ve got to get out of and a place you always must return to.”
Springsteen reminded Hanks that growing up, radio was the centerpiece of the home, television an afterthought, still a novelty. “When I was a very little kid I would sleep till 3 in the afternoon and stay up till 3 in the morning – because I could,” Springsteen said. “It’s no coincidence that I picked a  career that let’s me stay up till 3 in the morning.”

Hanks surprised everyone by having a photo projected of a very young Springsteen playing with his band The Castilles (named, he said, for shampoo). Hanks had searched for a photo that would, “in its entirety. capture everything one needed to know about this man’s approach to what he does for a living. You will now see what Bruce Springsteen is, was and has always been.” The photo shows Springsteen rocking out with his guitar atop a lifeguard station during a beach gig. No one else is on the high chair. He’s wearing white wide-wale corduroy pants, red turtleneck and sandals. “And i think I am the coolest fucking thing in the world.”
The pay was $5, he said. “I remember coming home and thinking, Jesus Christ, somebody paid me $5. And I wish I had that $5 now, because that was the best money I ever made. Except for all the rest.” The conversation proceeded through the creation of the E Street Band, their eventual signing by John Hammond and Clive Davis at Columbia, and, after the unheralded Greetings From Asbury Park and The Wild, The Innocent and the E Street Shuffle in 1973, the earthquake caused two years later by Born To Run.
The conversation grew more serious as Springsteen’s life did, under the mentorship of manager and producer Jon Landau, who introduced him to John Ford’s The Grapes of Wrath and Promised Land and Hollywood film noir. He would reveal with The River a more adult sensibility through stories, as Hanks pointed out, about heroes yearning for something that they almost only could get who could only have an identity by almost being crooks…that you have to divest all that is unnecessary in your life in order to survive, and sometimes that’s decency. You think that record was about you? No, no it was about me and about all of us.”
“All artists at some point believe they can live within their art. And what you learn either quickly or painfully slowly is that you can’t. At the end of the day, it’s just your job.”
The River was about people trying to live straight up, move forward, support their families,” Springsteen said, acknowledging that he had been a Vietnam War draft dodger as many friend went to fight and came home in body bags or damaged beyond recognition.
“You said that work is work and life is life, and life trumps art always,” Hanks said. “Is that a lesson you’ve sorta got to learn over time?”

“Yeah,” Springsteen replied. “Generally you beat yourself to death before you learn it. Particularly if your art and your music are something that you’ve clung to as a life preserver. All artists at some point believe they can live within their art. And what you learn either quickly or painfully slowly is that you can’t. At the end of the day, it’s just your job, and life awaits you outside of those things. Songs can get you through the day, get you through the night, they can change the way you think or the way you dress or they can just thrill you with three minutes of bliss, you know? But they can’t give you a life.”
Rattling his sheaf of notes, Hanks pointed out that they still had a lot of territory to cover, but their time was up. They’d come a considerable distance anyway – something none of us left doubting.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

FCC VOWS TO REVERSE OPEN INTERNET NEUTRALITY

FCC Chairman Vows To Reverse Open Internet Rules, Enhance Investment


The war over net neutrality is on: FCC Chairman Ajit Pai today laid out his plan to reverse the agency’s 2015 open internet rules designed to guarantee that service providers treat everyone’s content equally.
At the agency’s May 18 meeting he will introduce a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that would change the decision to regulate the internet as a common carrier service similar to phones under Title II of the Communications Act.
The change would establish the internet as a Title I information subject to what Pai calls “light-touch regulation.”
The FCC made the change to Title II after court rulings held that this was needed to justify its authority to police open internet violations.
Long-time communications lawyer Andrew Schwartzman of Georgetown University Law Center’s Institute for Public Representation says that the internet was governed by Title II until 2005, when the Bush administration moved DSL services to Title I.
” The status of cable modem service, which did not play an important role until about 2000, was uncertain until 2003, when the FCC classified it under Tittle I,” he says.
Pai charged that Title II supporters such as former Chairman Tom Wheeler favored the rules by pointing to “hypothetical harms” in order to “energize a dispirited base” after the Democrats suffered setbacks in the 2014 election.
“The case for Title II was a fact-free zone,” Pai says. “The truth of the matter is that we decided to abandon successful policies solely because of hypothetical harms and hysterical prophecies of doom. It’s almost as if the special interests pushing Title II weren’t trying to solve a real problem but instead looking for an excuse to achieve their longstanding goal of forcing the Internet under the federal government’s control.”
He red-baited Free Press — a group that supports the Title II rules. The FCC chairman said that a co-founder — apparently referring to media scholar Robert McChesney — “admits that ‘the ultimate goal is to get rid of the media capitalists in the phone and cable companies and to divest them from control.’ And who would assume control of the Internet? The government, of course.”
Former FCC Commissioner Michael Copps sits on the Free Press board.
Pai justified his proposal to reverse the Title II standard by asserting that it was responsible for that the FCC says was 5.6% percent, or $3.6 billion,  drop in domestic broadband capital expenditures by the 12 largest ISPs.
“This decline is extremely unusual,” Pai says. “It is the first time that such investment has declined outside of a recession in the Internet era.”
The period also corresponds with AT&T’s acquisition of DirecTV and agreement to buy Time Warner, as well as Charter Communication’s purchase of Time Warner Cable.
Pai says that the decline in investment “has already cost our nation approximately 75,000 to 100,000 jobs. “
All sides were quick to respond to Pai’s speech and plans. Here’s a sampling:
AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson:
Businesses large and small will have a clearer path to invest more in our nation’s broadband infrastructure under Chairman Pai’s leadership. And we are hopeful that bipartisan agreement can be reached on principles that protect internet openness, consumer choice and vibrant competition.
Comcast CEO Brian Roberts:
We fully support reversal of Title II classification, a 1930s statute that is outdated and harms consumers by creating a cloud over broadband investment decisions and innovation. Chairman Pai’s proposed reversal of Title II does not mean there will be no open Internet protections, but rather creates an environment where we can have a fresh constructive dialogue.
NCTA- The Internet & Television Association CEO Michael Powell:
While we applaud and support Chairman Pai’s call to correct past mistakes through the rulemaking process, we are mindful that only Congress has the power to conclusively settle this debate and provide the FCC with clear authority to enforce specific open internet principles. We renew our support for bipartisan legislation that will end this decades-old legal controversy and permanently enshrine enforceable open internet principles in statute.
Consumers Union Senior Policy Counsel Jonathan Schwantes:
Voluntary commitments from broadband providers to adhere to net neutrality ‘principles’ are simply not a substitute — especially when there would be no cop left on the beat with the authority to ensure providers stick to their promises….We will continue to fight for an open internet because it is essential to free speech, free access to information, and innovation and economic growth. Consumer activism was key to getting these rules passed and will be just as important, if not more, in protecting them now. We urge all consumers to make their voices heard and oppose these efforts.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

10 GREATEST WESTERNS

Funny, I don't see any AA people on the list. Weren't we in the west back then??


Robert Frost
Robert Frost, Cinephile and movie blogger

I’ve done two posts on The Greatest Movies, According to Me about westerns (10 Greatest Westerns and 10 Greatest Westerns of the Last 15 Years). Extracted from those posts, my favorites are:
10. Open Range (2003) - Kevin Costner directed and costarred in this excellent love letter to the western. It's a story about honor and change. It's 1882, the end of the west is on the horizon. Duvall and Costner play ranchers moving a herd across the country. When one of their men is brutalized by a corrupt land baron that is holding a town under his thumb, the two men feel obligated to stop this evil.
"Man's got a right to protect his property and his life, and we ain't lettin' no rancher or his lawman take either." - Boss Spearman
9. Red River (1948) - A Howard Hawks/Wayne collaboration. In the Dark Knight, there's a line that goes: "You either die a hero, or live long enough to see yourself become the villain." Red River is an examination of that process. It is also a look at one of the legendary cattle drives from Texas to Kansas.
Wayne plays Thomas Dunson, depicted over a 14 year period, as we watch him go from a young, ambitious white hat starting his ranch to a jaded, tired black hat cattle baron. It's also a story of the decline of the father and ascendancy of the son, with a young Montgomery Clift as Dunson's adopted son, Matt.
"You're soft, you should have let 'em kill me, 'cause I'm gonna kill you. I'll catch up with ya. I don't know when, but I'll catch up. Every time you turn around, expect to see me, 'cause one time you'll turn around and I'll be there. I'm gonna kill ya, Matt." - Thomas Dunson
8. Rio Bravo (1958) - Director Howard Hawks' greatest film, and one of John Wayne's greatest performances, is a counterpoint to High Noon, essentially telling the same story in a different way. This time, the experienced lawman (Wayne) does have a little help - from a drunk (Dean Martin), a kid (Ricky Nelson), and an old man (Walter Brennan). Added to that interesting cast is a strong performance from a young Angie Dickinson.
John Wayne shows his acting skills in this film with a subtle and quiet performance, letting his body language speak for him. Watch this film and you'll understand why he was such a star.
"Supposing I got 'em. What'd I have? Some well-meaning amatuers, most of 'em worried about their wives and kids. Burdette has 30 or 40 men, all professionals. Only thing they're worried about is earning their pay. No, Pat. I'd just be giving them more targets to shoot at. A lot of people'd get hurt. Joe Burdette isn't worth it. He isn't worth one of them that'd get killed." - John Chance
7. Stagecoach (1939) - This is the film that made John Wayne a star. He had had one chance at the A-list in a movie that failed and had spent a decade doing B-movies. But in John Ford's Stagecoach, he showed he had the stuff to be a star.
Stagecoach is the archetype of the movie in which a group of very dissimilar people must come together to survive a great challenge. Wayne plays "The Ringo Kid" a fugitive intent on avenging the murder of his father and brother. Also on the stagecoach are a gunslinging gambler (played with mustache-twirling glee by John Carradine), a corrupt banker, a prostitute, an alcoholic doctor, a pregnant woman, a meek salesman, and a marshal.
Their journey takes them through hazardous Apache territory which provides a stunning action scene as the stagecoach is chased across the desert by a swarm of Apache warriors. The stunt work is impressive, including a stunt in which a character is dragged under a team of horses and down the length of the stagecoach. It is this stunt to which the famed scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark pays homage.
"Well, I guess you can't break out of prison and into society in the same week." - Ringo
6. High Noon (1952) - Gary Cooper plays Will Kane, a marshal on his last day in office. He has just married and is ready to give up the responsibility. But he has also just found out that a dangerous criminal that he sent to prison has been released, and is coming to town, with his gang, to kill the sheriff and anyone else in town that he has a grudge against. Kane feels duty bound to defend the town, even though no-one in town will assist him.
It's a gripping story told almost in real time. The film is rich in allegory and a true classic. High Noon was nominated for eight Academy Awards and won four, including Best Actor for Gary Cooper.
"You risk your skin catching killers and the juries turn them loose so they can come back and shoot at you again. If you're honest you're poor your whole life and in the end you wind up dying all alone on some dirty street. For what? For nothing. For a tin star." - Martin Howe
5. 3:10 to Yuma (2007) - Christian Bale and Russell Crowe face-off in this remake of the 1957 Glen Ford film, based upon an Elmore Leonard story. It is beautifully shot and suspenseful as these two men simmer until their violent confrontation in the climax. A great western.
"For God's sake, he's killed more men than the drought!" - Dan Evans
4. Shane (1953) - Hollywood's look at the range wars. Alan Ladd in the titular role plays a gunfighter trying to leave that part of his life behind him and start anew that is forced to take up the gun once more to defend homestead settlers against thugs. At its simplest viewing, Shane is a white hat vs. black hat (with Jack Palance as the scary black hat), but there are layers of complexity behind that simple front.
"There's no living with a killing." - Shane
3. True Grit (2010) - When I first heard that the John Wayne film, True Grit, was being remade, I thought it was a pointless idea. But, the Coen brothers didn't remake that film, they went back to the source novel and reinterpreted it. In this one, even with a star like Jeff Bridges and supporting actors like Matt Damon and Josh Brolin, the real star is fourteen year old Hailee Steinfeld. This is a brilliant film, and one that makes every idiot that has been saying the western is dead, eat crow. Damon is hilarious as LaBoeuf, the alcoholic Texas Ranger, played by Glen Campbell in the 1969 film.
"I thought you were going to say the sun was in your eyes. That is to say, your EYE." - LaBoeuf
2. The Searchers (1956) - New York Magazine referred to The Searchers as the most influential film in the history of film. The Searchers was the ninth collaboration of director John Ford and actor John Wayne. It is based on the novel by Alan Le May, which, in turn, was based on the real historical Parker massacre and capture of Cynthia Parker by Comanche Indians.
Wayne is compelling as Ethan Edwards, the uncle of a missing girl. He undertakes a years long search for his niece. His character hates the Comanche. He is unrepentantly racist towards them - hating them so much that he sees his mission as to find his niece and mercifully kill her because she will have been corrupted by the Indians.
"I don't believe in surrenders. Nope, I've still got my saber, Reverend. Didn't beat it into no plowshare, neither." - Ethan Edwards
1. Unforgiven (1992) - Unforgiven is Clint Eastwood's elegy to the western and his bookend to his career in westerns. He was 62 when he directed and starred in Unforgiven. He plays a former gunslinger named William Munny. He has long been settled down and away from that life. He married and had children and he has become a hog farmer. He is widowed and just trying to live out his days in peace, when he is lured back into a violent world.
Unforgiven is its own story - well crafted and independent. But it shows influences and pays homage to almost every film on this list - most particularly Shane. The film respectfully illustrates the difference between truth and legend, as Munny tries to live down the mythology that grew about his younger self - the mythology that many earlier westerns were built around. Unforgiven manages to both dispel and live up to that mythology.
"It's a hell of a thing, killin' a man. Take away all he's got, and all he's ever gonna have." - William Munny