The fee for screenwriter for The Revenant must be the highest ever paid if you count the actual number of words in the script - for the overlong mid-section, the film is virtually silent. Alejandro Inarritu, the recent Oscar winner for Birdman, has fashioned a tedious survival epic out of difficult circumstances, harsh injuries and heavy breathing. The plot can be summarized in two sentences: Mountain guide leading fur trappers is repeatedly mauled by a huge bear, is left to die, survives that, starvation, a tempestuous body skim down some rapids, along with a Thelma and Louise soar off a cliff on horseback, landing in a tree, then falling to the ground. Despite all of the above plus the trauma of seeing his only son killed, he lives to trek across the snowy wilderness, eat raw buffalo meat. carve a protective bed out of a horse carcass, listen to the spirit of his dead Indian wife, attack the man who murdered his son and ultimately recognize that only God can exact revenge. Most of this becomes predictable as soon as we see Leonardo de Caprio stir from his comatose state and realize that this movie is more superman cartoon than biography. Even though there was a man whose life provided the inspiration for this film, he’s less a realized individual than an avatar of legendary mountain men. We know he’s better than most because he married an Indian woman and loves his half-breed son; also, because he leaves the ultimate job of executioner to someone else in a burst of spiritual awareness.
Donald Trump recently received a clean bill of health from his doctor. The medical report may have lacked specifics, but the physician made up for it with typical Trumpian bombast when he tweeted, “If elected, Mr. Trump, I can state unequivocally, will be the healthiest individual ever elected to the presidency.”
There are strong parallels between “45 Years” and “Away From Her,” a movie starring Julie Christie, written and directed by Sarah Polley and based on a short story by Alice Munro (”The Bear Came Over the Mountain”). “45Years” stars two other well-known actors from the 60’s - Charlotte Rampling and Tom Courtenay, was written and directed by Andrew Haigh and adapted from a short story by David Constantine (”In Another Country”). Furthering the link, viewers of a certain age will remember an exuberant Tom Courtenay and an exhilarating Julie Christie in a breakout performance in “Billy Liar.” Both “45 Years” and “Away From Her” deal with the dissolving threads of a long marriage; one triggered by the unexpected imposition of a tragic past love and one by the torments of dementia as it robs its victim of her very identity.
Nothing says Merry Christmas like another Democratic debate buried on the Saturday night before the holiday. Few people are focused on the farcical Democratic race, but there is a very real drama enveloping the party’s front-runner, and I don’t mean the ongoing FBI investigation.
According to legend, Scrub Island, was a destination for pirates seeking some down time from pillaging and scraping barnacles from the bottom of their sailing ships. Today, the island, aptly named, was transformed to a tranquil private oasis five years ago. One of the 60 British Virgin Islands and cays (pronounce that “keys”) in the Caribbean-only ten inhabited-it’s an enchanting retreat from New York winter temperatures and the rat race.
With all the marching in cities and demonstrating on campus, it might be helpful to look at some actual statistics about Black Lives. According to the Bureau of Justice for the year 2009 (the last for which data is available), 218 Black men died during the course of arrest or while in the custody of the law. This does not distinguish between armed or unarmed men nor does it justify any wrongful death. In the same year, Blacks accounted for 56% of deaths due to HIV/AIDS, the vast majority being young gay black men. In 2012, there were 6,540 Black deaths from HIV/AIDS according to the CDC (Center for Disease Control); although Blacks are only 12% of the population, this represents 50% of the 13,712 people who died of this disease.