“A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night”

Dressed in a traditional black chador, an alluring female vampire walks and skateboards the streets of the fictional Iranian town called ‘Bad City’. A great number of its unsavory residents have already met an unpleasant end, as evidenced by the ravine full of bodies that is shown at the start of the movie. “A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night,” is the well executed, debut film from director and writer, Ana Lily Amirpour. The visually striking movie, which is spoken in Farsi with English subtitles, was shot in black and white. The most refreshing aspect of its 101 minute runtime, is that it offers the viewer a twist on the traditional vampire lore. (As an aside: The filming for the fictional Bad City was shot in Taft, California).

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The vampire, portrayed by Sheila Vand (Argo), speaks little throughout the film, and is listed only as ‘The Girl’ in the credits. Her actions in the movie, which is part horror, romance and thriller, can be likened to that of the character of Dexter Morgan in “Dexter.” Like all vampires, her need to feed is necessary, but she only feeds off men who are truly bad. In one scene, involving a male child (Milad Eghbali), she demonstrates restraint. Instead of killing an easy prey, she warns the adolescent boy, that if he is not good from that day forward, she will do something terrible to him as punishment.

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Her world, at least at the start of the film, is a lonely one. Her only companion seems to be the music she listens to. Throughout the course of the film, unlike, for example, the HBO series “True Blood,” there is no background information imparted to the viewer about ‘The Girl,’ explaining how she came to be a vampire, or for that matter, how long she has lived as one. ‘The Girl’ also doesn’t seek the refuge of a coffin, opting instead to sleep during the daylight hours in her bed inside her house; the walls of which are covered with posters. (As an aside: Not only is the the word vampire never spoken once during the film, but upon its release, the movie made cinematic history by becoming the first vampire themed film to be set in the Middle East).

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At the beginning of the movie, the viewer is introduced to Arash (Arash Marandi). The character is dealing with problems of both a financial and personal nature. He wants more out of life; not only to leave where he lives, but to improve his current station, that of working as a gardener. His pride and joy is a vintage automobile. A car that has been taken from him by the sleazy, misogynistic, drug dealing, pimp, Saeed (Dominic Rains). Even though Arash doesn’t owe him any money, the car is used toward the mounting payments owed by his widower father, Hossein (Marshall Manesh), a heroin addict. The only time the father leaves the house, is when he has enough money to pay to spend some time with Atti, who is a prostitute (Mozhan Marno). Atti is someone who ‘The Girl’ looks out for, which is demonstrated during several scenes in the film.

One evening, while coming home from a costume party that he went to dressed as Dracula, Arash encounters ‘The Girl’. High on ecstasy, he doesn’t get any sense that she could be dangerous. He begins to make small talk with her. After letting her know he is lost, and asking her where he is, it turns out, he finds, much to his disbelief, that he is still in ‘Bad City’. He tells her he is Dracula, but that she shouldn’t worry because he won’t hurt her. When he touches her hand, he remarks how cold she is, but again taking no fear in that, as others might, he wraps his cape around her. The lack of dread in his actions toward her, and his attempt at conversation, disarms her. Not only does Arash come back to her place, (she helps him by wheeling him on her skateboard) but he lives to tell about it. ‘The Girl’ has taken a liking to him, and the two alienated, lonely individuals, begin a subtle romance. In the scene where she takes Arash back to her place, it ends with her tilting his head up, exposing his neck. Instead of biting him, however, she rests her head on his chest, as she listens to the sound of his heartbeat, while music plays in the background.

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To write more about what transpires during the film, would be a disservice to those of you who have not seen it. This is the sort of movie, where the less that is known the better. The film is shaped and added to by its eclectic soundtrack, which helps to move the story along. The cast is very effective and the imagery captured by cinematographer Lyle Vincent stays with the viewer long after the film’s conclusion. Let me state that this film is definitely not going to be for everyone. The movie is slow moving, and those seeking a visceral visual experience, for the most part, are going to be disappointed. The vampire nature of ‘The Girl’ is used sparingly. There is only one instance where things get graphic. As of the writing of this blog, the film is currently available for instant streaming on Netflix.

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“Death Wish”

Joanna Kersey, played by Oscar nominee and Emmy winner Hope Lange (Peyton Place), and her daughter Carol (Kathleen Tolan), take a trip to the super market to purchase some groceries. After paying at the checkout counter, Joanna tells the cashier that they would like the groceries delivered. What could possibly go wrong? Well, in director Michael Winner’s (The Sentinel) thought provoking film “Death Wish,” plenty. Three thugs, one of whom is played by a young, Jeff Goldblum (Independence Day), in his film debut, follow the pair to their apartment. Thinking she is letting in the delivery man, Carol opens the door. Once doing so, her mother is murdered and Carol is sexually assaulted.

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A short while later, arriving at the hospital, where the two women have been brought, are Paul Kersey, portrayed by Golden Globe winner and Emmy nominee Charles Bronson (The Dirty Dozen), and his son-in-law, Jack, Emmy nominee Steven Keats (Seventh Avenue). After receiving the jarring news of what has transpired, and a subsequent scene showing a funeral taking place, Bronson’s character begins the normal period of mourning. His daughter, however, goes into a catatonic state. Doctors feel she is doing so in order to protect her mind from the horrific events that have unfolded.

Based on the 1972 novel written by Brian Garfield, the film was adapted for the screen by Oscar nominated screen writer Wendell Mayes (Anatomy of a Murder). The movie, which has a runtime of ninety-three minutes, premiered in American theaters on July 24, 1974.
“Death Wish” is a blending of the genres of action, crime, drama and thriller. Although an iconic role for Bronson, he was not the first choice to play the main character, Clint Eastwood, Steve McQueen, and Frank Sinatra all turned down the part. Nor for that matter, was Winner the first director hired to bring the book to cinematic life. Sidney Lumet was originally going to direct the film, and it was going to star Jack Lemmon in the Kersey role, but Lumet opted to drop out and direct “Serpico” instead. Furthermore, producer Dino De Laurentiis and Paramount Pictures wanted to originally title the film “The Sidewalk Vigilante,” thinking that the word ‘death’ in the title would keep audiences away.

Eventually, Kersey, who is very good at his architectural job, returns to work. A short time later, he is sent by his boss to Arizona to personally oversee a twenty million dollar project for the company. He will be working for land developer Aimes Jainchill, acted by two time Emmy winner Stuart Margolin (The Rockford Files). Aimes, a gun lover, takes Kersey to the practice range of the gun club he belongs to. While there, Bronson’s character demonstrates his proficiency with a fire arm. During the course of conversation between the two, it is revealed to the viewer that Kersey served in the military during the Korean war. His classification, however, was that of a conscience objector, who worked in the medical core.

Before Kersey departs to go back to New York, and while being dropped off at the airport, Aimes asks him if he is checking his suitcase. Once confirmed, Margolin’s character places a gift wrapped present inside of it. When Kersey returns home, he unwraps the gift, and discovers that the present is a .32-caliber revolver. While looking over photographs of his vacation in Hawaii with Joanna, a sequence which opens the film, Kersey gets an idea, the seeds of which were planted while he was in Arizona. That evening, Kersey ventures out, seeking a criminal, in order to administer his own special brand of vigilante justice. Initially repulsed by his actions, Kersey soon begins to embrace his new persona.

After a period of time, Kersey’s nocturnal activities make him a hero to the law-abiding citizens of the five boroughs of New York City who are tired of living in fear, especially once the sun sets. The collective body of New York law enforcement, however, wants to put an end to Kersey, who single handedly has reduced the rate of muggings in the city by fifty percent.

Adding intrigue to the film is two time Oscar nominee and Emmy winner Vincent Gardenia’s (Age-Old Friends) character of Detective, Frank Ochoa. Ochoa, the head of the task force assigned to capturing the vigilante, makes for a formidable adversary. Gardenia’s character’s outside the box thinking, combined with his veteran skills, as the days pass, inch him ever closer to nailing Kersey as the thorn in law enforcement’s side.

Will Ochoa catch Kersey? If so, does Kersey take a final stand or does he allow himself to be arrested to face his crimes? Does Kersey, sensing the ever tightening grip of law enforcement desperate to catch him, leave New York to escape possible prosecution? While the film does provide closure to the viewer by answering those questions, it also can make one think of deeper societal issues. Is there ever a valid enough reason for a citizen who has been wronged to take the law into his or her own hand? Can Bronson’s character’s actions be sympathized with; even if his actions can be sympathized with, if it were real life, should someone who acts like that be treated the same as the criminals he seeks to rid the world of? If what happened to Kersey’s wife and daughter happened to a family member or close friend, could any of us say with one hundred percent certainty we wouldn’t at least think about seeking retribution against those responsible? When looked at from a certain perspective “Death Wish,” which at first glance might seem like a simple revenge film, goes much deeper.

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“The Dragon’s Loyalty Award”

I am the type of blogger who is very thankful when I receive ‘a like’ on one of my posts, or a few complimentary words in the comment section, so to receive an award from a fellow blogger is an honor to me. Today, I am accepting my second “Dragon’s Loyalty Award” and for that I would like to express my sincere thanks to http://britojohn.wordpress.com. If you are not already a follower of his blog, I strongly suggest you head to his site after reading this post and subscribe. A former storyboard and multimedia artist, who worked in the entertainment industry; he is currently using his wonderful talent as an animation artist working toward the completion of his first fantasy children’s book. His blog offers a wealth of material and visual eye candy.

The following rules apply when accepting the award:
1. Display the award on your blog.
2. Announce your win with a post and thank the blogger who nominated you.
3. Nominate 15 deserving bloggers with the award.
4. Let those bloggers know you have nominated them for the award.
5. Write seven things about yourself.

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Now my favorite part about receiving these types of awards, but at the same time, the aspect of accepting them that always proves the most difficult for me, is nominating a set number of my fellow bloggers. I can’t begin to thank each and every one of you who follows robbinsrealm. I am grateful to you for taking time out of your busy day to spend a few minutes reading something I have written; that means a great deal to me. I hate to assume things, but I will do just that, and think that most of you are pressed for time, due to any number of factors, be they school, work, relationships, just to list a few; so again, thank you very much for reading my work. In the interest of fairness, since I read so many worthwhile blogs on wordpress.com, no one who I nominated for “The Liebster Award” will be nominated for this award, that way I can spread the award love around.

The following are the 15 bloggers I nominate for “The Dragons Loyalty Award”

1. http://thecinemamonster.com

2. http://neonblackreviews.wordpress.com

3. http://cinesolace.wordpress.com

4. http://thewinewankers.com.au

5. http://writerlovesmovies.com

6. http://emmakwall.com

7. http://wordlander.wordpress.com

8. http://cinemaaxis.com

9. http://jordanandeddie.wordpress.com

10. http://vicsmovieden.wordpress.com

11. http://parlorofhorror.wordpress.com

12. http://earthquakeboy.wordpress.com/

13. http://vinnieh.wordpress.com

14. http://warrenisweird.wordpress.com

15. http://sidekickreviews.wordpress.com

The following are seven things about myself:

1. My favorite character on “Game of Thrones” is Arya Stark. Don’t get me wrong, I love Tyrion and Daenerys, and as I read more of the books, and as the HBO series progresses, I might be adding to that short list of absolute favorite characters, but for now Arya is my favorite.

2. My favotire type of food is Italian.

3. I think firefighters are true heroes.

4. When I lived on Long Island, one of my favorite things to do was to go into Manhattan to Madison Square Garden to watch the New York Rangers play hockey.

5. I have an extensive DVD film collection that spans all years and genres.

6. I love the New York Jets football team, but more often than not, they let me down. I hope with the hiring of their new head coach, Todd Bowles and General Manager, Mike Maccagnan, that they give not only myself, but all Jets fans for that matter, a reason to start smiling again, when it comes to the way the team performs.

7. I despise bullies.

Once again, my sincere thanks to  http://britojohn.wordpress.com for bestowing me with my second “Dragon’s Loyalty Award.” For those of you who I nominated, as aforementioned, I am cognizant of the time constraints that most of us are under in our day to day lives, so if you can’t answer the questions and pass along the award, I will not take offense to that in the least. If you take the time to answer the questions and pass along the award to fifteen fellow bloggers that you feel are worthy recipients, you have my heartfelt thanks.

Posted in Uncategorized | 23 Comments

“The Sheik – An All Access Look At A Wrestling Legend”

I was too young to understand the cultural and political aspects that made the Iron Sheik’s character such a hated villain within the confines of, what is known in wrestling parlance as, the squared circle. My first memories of The Sheik, are seeing him and his tag team partner, the equally despised – at the time – powerful, Russian, Nikolai Volkoff, capture the WWE ( then WWF) tag team titles from The U.S. Express, Barry Windham and Mike Rotundo, at the inaugural WrestleMania. Only later, while watching an old wrestling VHS tape, did I see The Sheik, when he was the heavyweight champion, drop the belt to Hulk Hogan. After winning the title on December 26, 1983, from long reigning champion, Bob Backlund, The Sheik held the title for just under a month. During that time, he defeated notable wrestlers, such as Pat Patterson, Tito Santana and Chief Jay Strongbow, before a scheduled January 23, 1984, re-match against, Backlund, at Madison Square Garden, in New York City. Due to injury, Backlund couldn’t compete and was replaced by Hulk Hogan. Not knowing it at the time, The Iron Sheik became the catalyst for one of the most important events in the history of professional wrestling. When Hogan won the title, it launched an already immensely popular wrestler’s career into another stratosphere, and gave birth to Hulkamania; a force which has never fully stopped to this day. (As an aside, rival wrestling promoter, Verne Gagne of the American Wrestling Association, offered the Iron Sheik, $100,000 dollars to break Hogan’s leg, instead of merely dropping the match, in order to derail the momentum of Hogan’s popularity from further benefiting the WWF. The Sheik outright refused).

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The film “The Sheik” premiered in Canada on April 26, 2014 at the “Hot Docs International Documentary Festival.” Directed by Igal Hecht (A Universal Language), who also shares story credit with Jian Magen and Jake Neiman, the documentary is entertaining, informative, honest and, at times, sad. The ninety-five minute film details the rise and fall and rise of The Iron Sheik’s life, in and out of sports entertainment. Removed of fluff, the film presents layers to The Sheik – whose real name is Hossein Khosrow Ali Vaziri – that fans who attended his matches, watched him on television and pay-per-view, or read about him in wrestling magazines, would never have known. His wounds run deep. They are both of a physical nature, for example, the camera shows Vaziri’s foot, which looks like someone took a hammer to it and pounded away, not to mention his badly damaged knees and ankles, which force him to walk with a cane and sometimes use a wheelchair. The Sheik also deals with painful psychological scars as well. On May 3, 2003, his eldest daughter, Marissa was murdered by her live-in boyfriend, Charles Reynolds.

The director doesn’t shy away, when it comes to showing the viewer, how Vaziri for a long period of time, coped with both types of pain; namely his descent into alcohol abuse and becoming a crack addict; a drug The Sheik refers to as his ‘medicine.’ As spoken about in the documentary, The Sheik would go to hotel lobbies, with his title belt, hoping to be recognized, in order to sell 8×10 pictures, to help fuel his addictions. There is also the inclusion of a scene where The Sheik is inside of a seedy motel room purchasing drugs. Additionally spoken about, is the May 1987, incident, where The Sheik and fellow wrestler “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan, were stopped by New Jersey police, while on their way to an event together. Duggan was suspected by the officer of drunk driving. The end result, Vaziri was found to be high on cocaine, and arrested alongside Duggan, who was driving under the influence of marijuana. The Sheik received a year’s probation for the crime. When asked to speak about his dependency on drugs, The Sheik responds by saying: “I’m a master. I control my medicine. The medicine doesn’t control me.”

Born on March 16, 1943 in Tehran, Iran, like every Iranian male citizen, he had to join the army, however, he was treated much better than the average soldier. Already a wrestling hero to the Iranian people, he was sought out by the Shah of Iran, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, to become one of the leader’s bodyguards. Vaziri’s younger days are shown through the use of archival photographs and poor quality video footage. His eventual reason for leaving his country, where he was beloved, was the death of fellow popular Olympic wrestler, Gholamreza Takhti. According to the official government report, Takhti committed suicide. Vaziri didn’t believe the story for a second, feeling that Takhti was far too beloved and at the top of his game to have a reason to kill himself. Fearing that one day, he might be targeted for something he might say or do, which would run counter to the policies in place during the Shah’s reign, The Sheik fled to the United States.

An assistant coach for the United States Olympic wrestling team in the early 1970, Vaziri was with the American squad at the 1972 Olympics in Munich, Germany. A bit later on, he was discovered by the aforementioned, AWA founder, Verne Gagne, who offered The Sheik work with his wrestling promotion. Vaziri’s job, initially, was to train potential new talent. In addition to former Intercontinental Champion and fan favorite, Ricky The Dragon Steamboat, one of the other individuals The Sheik worked with would go onto become a sixteen time World Champion, WWE Hall of Famer, and wrestling icon, The Nature Boy Ric Flair. The Sheik worked for the AWA up until 1979, when he made his WWF debut, at Madison Square Garden, in a battle royal no less, that he would go on to win, granting him a title shot.

Although, technically proficient, at a level far greater than most, when Vaziri first left amateur wrestling to become a pro, there was one thing he was missing. He had to learn the art of in-ring psychology, that was certainly not taught to traditional, Greco-Roman wrestlers. Over time, he became a master at getting up the ire of the fans, not only by denigrating America on the microphone, but through his actions in the ring, portraying a heel who would do whatever it took to win. The movie shows he was nothing like that in real life. The Sheik’s character came about at the right time and place in history for his in-ring persona to make an impact on a global scale. While in his prime with the WWF, the Iran hostage crisis was taking place, allowing Vince McMahon Jr. to exploit the situation, bringing more heat to The Sheik’s matches, as well as a bigger box office draw, with fans desperate to see the Iranian nemesis get defeated. All of this, of course, transpired during a period, when the truth regarding character creation and pre-determined outcomes to matches, hadn’t been admitted yet to the public by those in the wrestling profession. The Sheik feuded with many of the popular, good guy wrestlers of his generation, but the feuds he had with the character of patriotic, flag waving, former military man, Sgt. Slaughter, he considers the very best matches of his lengthy career.

In recent years, the Sheik’s life has had a resurgence, thanks to the popularity of his presence on social media. He has a large Twitter following, who love his rantings and ravings on everything from fellow wrestlers to pop music’s Justin Bieber. He also has made numerous appearances on The Howard Stern Show, produces youtube.com videos, which garner thousands of hits, and attends wrestling fan conventions, where his autograph, picture, and a minute or two of his time, is sought out by countless fans.

Thanks to his increasing popularity and career renaissance, outside of in-ring competition, as his wife Caryl, whom he has been married to since March 21, 1976, puts it, “he has more good days than bad.” The Sheik and his wife Caryl have two grown daughters, as well as five grandchildren. Providing commentary throughout the documentary, amongst numerous others, are Hulk Hogan, The Rock, Jake ‘The Snake’ Roberts, Mick Foley, and “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan. The documentary will likely be enjoyed the most by those wrestling fans who lived through The Iron Sheik’s prime competitive years. With that being said, I can also see current fans, especially those who enjoy learning about the history of professional wrestling and how far it has come, liking it as well. Hard to say, whether or not, non-fans of wrestling will find the overall subject matter interesting. Considering it is available for instant streaming on Netflix, and its reasonable runtime, give it a shot for twenty minutes, if you’ve found anything I have written about the man to be of interest. The worst thing that can happen is you remove it from your list and move on to the next film or television show you want to watch.

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“Atari: Game Over”

What is the worst Atari game of all time? For many years now, when that question is brought up in discussion or voted on by gamers, inevitably, “E.T. The Extraterrestrial” is chosen for that most unenviable distinction. The simple fact that the game and its characters are adapted from one of cinema’s most beloved and successful movies, makes its ‘worst Atari game’ status more than a bit confounding. If it didn’t have such a lackluster reputation as a video game, and if the literal burying of its sub-par mediocrity in a New Mexican landfill, didn’t continue to be perpetuated up until recently, there would be no “Atari: Game Over” documentary.

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Last evening, on Netflix, I watched the engaging, sixty-six minute film, that was originally released on November 20, 2014. I wanted to find out the answers to several questions: Why does the video game have such an atrocious reputation? Are there, as had been speculated prior to the release of the film, over a million discarded copies of the game buried in a landfill in Alamogordo, New Mexico? Would the Zak Penn (X-Men 2) directed film answer those questions for me by the documentary’s conclusion?

Firstly, the game was incredibly rushed, having been created in a span of five weeks by game designer Howard Scott Warshaw. The normal turnaround time for the sort of game Warshaw wanted to create would have taken a minimum of six months, and could have taken as much as upwards of a year. Warshaw, who works as a therapist, in California’s Silicon Valley, is also responsible for creating what is considered one of the best games ever produced for the Atari 2600 video game system, “Yar’s Revenge.” The documentary’s main focus is to prove whether or not the myth of the E.T. game landfill is real or just a fabrication. With that being said, the film is at its most interesting when Warshaw is speaking. He provides his opinions, not only about the E.T. game, but about what it was like behind the scenes working for Atari in the late 1970s through the early 1980s.

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Secondly, Atari paid approximately twenty-two million dollars to Universal Pictures for the rights to use the characters from Spielberg’s blockbuster film. Those in charge of the company at the time, feeling they had a surefire hit on their hands, ordered the production of five million game cartridges in time for the holidays. The game did sell well, approximately three and half million cartridges, so had Atari tempered their expectations, structured a better deal with Universal, in terms of allotted time to produce the product, as well as the upfront money paid, they might have avoided the disaster, and added E.T. to the company’s list of hit games. The fact that over one and half million cartridges went unsold, added to which, a number of consumers were returning the game, stating that it was not only too difficult to play, but not enjoyable, is what led to the company’s ultimate demise. A once thriving company, that held majority control over the gaming world, Atari, at its peak employed 11,000 people, but was downsized to 900, before the original business closed in 1984. The Atari name lived on afterwards, having been sold to several different companies throughout the years.

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The film, however, is not what one might expect. Penn doesn’t merely point his camera at those individuals involved with the creation and marketing of the game, and deride them. The documentary, in part, is a retort to the years of criticism Atari, the E.T. game, and its creator have been subjected to. Penn’s film is insightful, offering viewers a historical perspective through the use of archival footage and photographs, intercut with current interviews and analysis; thereby keeping the presentation fresh and interesting. The director admits that he too has been responsible for creating some video games that don’t exactly have the reputation of being industry standard bearers.

WARNING: Spoilers.

The truth as to what is buried in the landfill doesn’t prove to be as exciting as what I was hoping for. Penn builds his entire film around what the excavation will unearth, and while it was an interesting journey, I wasn’t enamored with the eventual payoff. I am glad I watched the documentary, but that will be my first and only time viewing it. The material it contains simply doesn’t warrant repeat viewings. In essence, the entire production, as it pertains to the digging in the landfill, could’ve been reduced to a five minute clip on youtube, replete with an interview with the person who initially oversaw the dumping in 1983, and could have ended any and all speculation.

With that being said, “Atari: Game Over” makes for an interesting spectacle; considering people drove from all over the country to witness garbage being dug up, as well as having to brave the desert elements, which proved to be overpowering at times. I give the spectators a good deal of credit because they wasted a lot of time, money and gas, before knowing if anything of interest would be unearthed from the landfill. One local politician, spoke to the danger he felt at having the dump opened up. He was afraid that whatever was buried there could potentially release an airborne toxin into the environment.

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In the end, close to four hundred of the E.T. video games were unearthed from the landfill. According to gamers, none of them still had the ability to be played. The games were auctioned off, and the city of Alamogordo reaped the benefits from those who were willing to pay money to own a small piece of gaming history. One of the discarded games earned a permanent place in history, as it is now on display in the Smithsonian Museum in Washington, D.C., as a part of its videogame history collection. Overall, the film is an interesting, one time watch, and should hold the interest of video game enthusiasts and non-gamers alike, for its little over one hour runtime.

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“Two Liebster Awards”

I would like to sincerely thank  http://returntothe80s.wordpress.com and
http://precinct1313.wordpress.com for honoring me with my third and fourth Liebster Awards. If you’re someone who is nostalgic for the 1980s, or has just come to love the music, movies, and television shows from that decade, returntothe80s.wordpress.com is the site for you. A song of the day challenge, quotes from various films and television shows, as well as movie reviews, are just some of the wonderful materials posted on the blog. If comic books are your thing, then the incomparable love that precinct1313.wordpress.com puts into his site makes it the right blog for you. Detailed reviews of a diverse array of both classic and current comic books, posts that pertain to comic books in film, posts on comic related toys, are just some of the excellent materials available to followers of the blog. This is the first of several posts that I will be putting up on robbinsrealm in the upcoming weeks, where I will be accepting awards from fellow bloggers who were kind enough to deem me worthy of receiving them.

The rules for accepting this award are as follows:

1. Thank the person who nominated you.
2. Answer the questions from the person who nominated you.
3. Nominate 11 bloggers for the award.
4. Notify the bloggers you have nominated.
5. Create 11 questions for the bloggers you nominate.

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The following are my answers to the eleven questions asked by returntothe80s.wordpress.com:

1. Who is your favorite MTV VJ?

I can’t think of a specific person off hand, but the show I liked the most that was aired on MTV was “Headbanger’s Ball.”

2. Which do you like more “Star Trek” or “Battlestar Galactica?”

Star Trek.

3. Which celebrity did you have a crush on in your childhood or teen years?

Eliza Dushku from “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.”

4. What blog posts of yours are your personal favorites?

My personal favorite blog that I have written is from June 14, 2012 and is called “Don Coscarelli’s Phantasm – Thought Provoking Horror.” I especially liked it because it was the only time I incorporated creative writing into a film review. Instead of just taking a straight forward approach to the post, I tried to imagine what a young, Don Coscarelli was thinking and feeling during that period of his life. When I first joined Twitter, I tweeted the blog on my account, and someone forwarded it to Coscarelli. He actually tweeted it out on his own account, and I thought that was really cool of him to do.

5. What is your favorite television show?

That is a loaded question. Some of my favorite shows, that are no longer on, were: “Dexter,” “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” “Breaking Bad,” “The Twilight Zone,” (Original) “Star Trek,” and “True Blood.” Several of my current favorite shows are: “Game of Thrones,” “House of Cards,” “Homeland,” “Orphan Black,” and “Sherlock.”

6. If you were in “The Breakfast Club,” which character would you be?

Based on the choices, none of them.

7. What is your favorite genre of music?

I have eclectic tastes when it comes to music, but my favorites are classic rock, hard rock and heavy metal.

8. Have you ever met anyone famous?

Yes, I have attended a number of fan conventions. Most of them were horror fan conventions, where I met numerous actors and actresses from the genre. The most famous person I met at one of the conventions was Robert Englund. I also met former New York Mets catcher and Hall of Famer, Gary Carter, at a Chinese restaurant on Long Island when I was a kid.

9. What is your favorite vacation destination?

There are still so many places I would like to go, that I don’t know if I can pick a favorite just yet. In the United States, I love San Diego.

10. What is your favorite ’80s movie?

I could be all nerdy about this and break it down by genre, but I’ll spare the readers of this post, and go with “Raiders of the Lost Ark.”

11. Which awards show is your favorite?

The Oscars.

Now it is time for me to choose eleven bloggers to give the award to. This part is always the hardest for me, because I read so many excellent and diverse blogs on wordpress.com. I am glad, however, that I will get to nominate an additional eleven bloggers, after I finish answering the questions posed to me by precinct1313.wordpress.com.

1. http://britojohn.wordpress.com

2. http://justbmovies.wordpress.com

3. http://thereadingbud.wordpress.com

4. http://nrdgzm.wordpress.com

5. http://stillatthelibrary.wordpress.com

6. http://cadburypom.WordPress.com

7. http://thetelltalemind.com

8. http://peggyatthemovies.com

9. http://polarbearstv.wordpress.com

10. http://moviemanjackson.wordpress.com

11. http://wideawakebutdreaming.wordpress.com

The following are the questions asked of me by preceinct1313.wordpress.com.

1. If you could live anywhere where would it be?

I am content to live where I do, in sunny Florida. I used to live on Long Island. I will always have a very special place in my heart for New York, and Long Island where I was born and raised, but I don’t want to deal with shoveling snow or driving on icy roads anymore, as well as waking up in the morning for several months of the year, to go to work, with freezing temperatures outside.

2. What super power would you choose if given the opportunity?

The power to render myself invisible.

3. Do you like ice cream?

Yes.

4. Who is your favorite Superhero?

Hmmm….I can’t single out just one superhero, so my answer is the combined forces of the X-Men.

5. Favorite quote from comic, novel or movie?

In the movie “The Natural” when Roy Hobb’s father is talking to him as a teenager:

“You’ve got a gift Roy… but it’s not enough – you’ve got to develop yourself. If you rely too much on your own gift… then… you’ll fail.”

6. Keaton, West or Bale: who is your favorite Caped Crusader?

I like all three, but I would choose Keaton as my favorite.

7. Are you a Cat or Dog person?

Definitely a dog person.

8. If you could grant one wish to the world, what would that be?

Health. No matter what ailment someone had, they would be able to take a pill and get rid of it. No matter what horrific accident someone was in, they would be able to have a medical procedure done and become whole again. Let people eventually pass away from old age, not from some cancer or the long term damaging effects of a disability.

9. What in your opinion is the greatest TV series of all time?

I have too many television shows that I love and hold in high regard, so I can’t answer that question.

10. How many fingers am I holding up right now? (nothing rude, I promise)

My guess would be six.

11. Wonder Woman or Power Girl, who would triumph in a battle royale?

I am going to choose Wonder Woman as my champion.

The eleven bloggers I nominate for this award are as follows:

1. http://davescorneroftheuniverse.wordpress.com

2. http://jmount43.wordpress.com

3. http://alexraphael.wordpress.com

4. http://movierob.wordpress.com

5. http://www.cindybruchman.wordpress.com

6. http://ineedafeed.wordpress.com

7. http://sherlockianblog.wordpress.com

8. http://mykindofmovie.wordpress.com

9.  http://le0pard13.wordpress.com

10. http://zuts.wordpress.com

11. http://theipc.wordpress.com 

The following are my eleven questions for all of the bloggers who I nominated.

1. Do you watch “Game of Thrones?” If so, who is your favorite character?

2. List three of your favorite authors?

3. What is the best place you have ever been to on vacation?

4. What is something that you are passionate about?

5. What is your favorite kind of food?

6. What was the last film you saw and loved?

7. What was the last film you saw and disliked?

8. Are you a coffee drinker, a tea drinker, both, neither?

9. What is a television show that is no longer on that you would like to see get a reboot?

10. What is your favorite color?

11. If you could switch places with someone for one day, who would it be?

Thank you again so very much to http://returntothe80s.wordpress.com and http://precinct1313.wordpress.com for giving me the respective Liebster Awards.

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“Life Itself – A Revealing Portrait of Roger Ebert”

“In the past 25 years I have probably seen 10,000 movies and reviewed 6,000 of them. I have forgotten most of them, I hope, but I remember those worth remembering, and they are all on the same shelf in my mind.”

Roger Ebert

The captivating documentary, “Life Itself,” profiling film critic, Roger Ebert’s triumphs and tribulations was directed by Emmy and Oscar nominated, Steve James (The Interrupters). James was someone who first garnered Ebert’s attention and praise at the 1994 Sundance Film Festival, after Ebert watched his documentary “Hoop Dreams.” The film went on to win the Audience Award and was also nominated for the Grand Jury Prize. First screened at several festivals, “Life Itself,” which has a runtime of 120 minutes, was released on July 4, 2014. Even though the narration for the film, based on Ebert’s memoir of the same name which was published on September 13, 2011, sounds as if it was provided by Ebert, in fact, was not. Voice actor, Stephen Stanton (Star Wars: The Clone Wars) does a competent job of imitating Ebert.

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Roger Ebert’s overall body of work encompasses his immensely successful career that lasted for the better part of four decades. Cinephiles who were not alive – or who were too young – when he was a syndicated columnist for The Chicago Sun- Times or was verbally sparing with Gene Siskel, the film critic for The Chicago Tribune, on their popular television show, which ran from 1986 through 1999, can go on-line and peruse the internet archives of Ebert’s website to read his critiques. In addition, Ebert was a prolific author, who had close to thirty books published during his lifetime, a few, however, do not deal with the subject of film. The Pulitzer Prize winner was never one to be condescending to his readers. Ebert looked at film through the lens of someone, who while enamored with the classics of yesteryear, was progressive enough to openly embrace the ever changing cinematic landscape, when many of his contemporaries did not. Not only did he welcome the advent of the modern day blockbuster, but in later years, he became the first film critic to begin posting his reviews on-line.

Advancing the narrative through commentary, which is interspersed throughout the film, are: Ebert’s wife Chaz, long time friends, Gene Siskel’s widow Marlene, fellow film critics, as well as a few very well known individuals. For example, multiple award winning director, Martin Scorsese (Goodfellas). The director expresses that he felt pride when Ebert was praiseworthy of his work, being one of the first film critics to champion his film “Who’s That Knocking at My Door,” when he was still an unknown. Scorsese, however, also took guidance, when a review from Ebert of one of his films was less than stellar, such as, “The Color of Money.” Commentary is also given by Oscar nominated German director Werner Herzog (Encounters at the End of the World), and Academy Award winner Errol Morris (The Fog of War). Morris states that without a positive endorsement from Ebert on his first movie “Gates of Heaven” that there is a good chance he wouldn’t have ever had a career as a filmmaker.

A good portion of the film deals with the last period of Ebert’s life, and can, at times, be difficult to watch. Diagnosed with thyroid cancer in 2002, and the following year with salivary gland cancer, the ailments caused the removal of most of Ebert’s jaw in 2006; debilitating him to the point where he could no longer drink, eat or speak. According to Siskel’s wife, it was Gene Siskel’s decision to hide his brain cancer, which led Roger to want to reveal his own health issues to the world at large. Ebert allowed James to film him while a nurse places a tube inside of his throat to suction it out. The filming of that particular medical procedure was done much to the disapproval of his wife. Ebert was wheelchair bound or in a hospital bed for almost all of the filming, and any communication he had with James and others was done through either hand written notes or a computerized voice synthesizer. There are, however, many still photographs, as well as video clips from Ebert’s life, that show a robust and happier Ebert: His wedding to Chaz, vacations with family, and socializing with friends and co-workers in his earlier days at O’Rourke’s bar in Chicago. Ebert an admitted alcoholic joined Alcoholics Anonymous in 1979, and from all accounts never drank again. (As an aside: Ebert’s decision to quit drinking is what led him to meeting his wife, when they met at an AA meeting. She is currently the president of Ebert Productions, as well as the publisher of Ebert Digital and the organizer of the annual Ebert Film Festival).

Even though the later years of his life were spent as a frail man whose physical condition was rapidly declining, he was still able to touch the lives of film fans. He did that through his written work; reviews which remained as accessible, and as sharp witted as ever. “Life Itself” is an interesting, informative, sometimes funny, other times poignant and sad documentary. For those who think of themselves as students of cinema history, considering the indelible mark Roger Ebert left when it comes to film criticism, this is a must see.

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