Thursday, April 19, 2018

Henry Jaglom: On the Right Track

Two strangers bond while on a train.
Will their love last or end in pain?
SHE hates the Jews, but HE is one.
Should he tell her and spoil their fun?

In Poland before World War two,
it’s not a good time for a Jew.
This fine Henry Jaglom movie
is heartbreaking but a must-see.

Filmed mostly in old black and white,
enchanting scenes evoke delight.
A journey back to days gone by --
but bigotry still makes us cry.

“Train to Zakopané” rings true.
It’s message will long stay with you.

(Written and directed by Henry Jaglom, Train to Zakopané stars Tanna Frederick and Mike Falkow. The Rainbow Film Company plans a May 2 release in Los Angeles for this unique film. TBA for other areas) 

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Sunday, April 01, 2018

Great Family Film

When an orphaned dog and a fatherless schoolboy make eye contact on a busy street, both realize they were meant for each other. This remarkable early scene sets the tone for Benji, Brandon Camp’s charming remake of his father’s (Joe Camp) popular 1974 film.

The casting of these two main characters, Benji and Carter, plays a key role in the success of this 2018 Netflix movie. Benji (the dog’s real name) is scraggly but adorable and boasts extremely expressive eyes. No wonder this cute canine captivates us right away!  And, as Carter, Gabriel Bateman almost matches Benji in the eyes department. Plus, Bateman makes Carter believable right from the beginning because of the clever way he tries to make Benji follow him home as well as the caring way he treats his darling little sister, Frankie (Darby Camp).

Of course, Benji wants to find where Carter and Frankie live! He follows Carter’s Hansel and Gretel strategy as closely as he can despite the many   obstacles in his way. Undaunted, Benji arrives at his destination. Yay!

But, not so fast, folks. The children live with their widowed mom (Kiele Sanchez), who works hard as an emergency medical worker. She refuses to let the children keep Benji. I know what you’re thinking. Poor kids – and poor Benji.               

What can he do? He’s just a dog.
But Benji’s smart – not in a fog.

He loves two kids and needs a home.
No longer will he have to roam.

So as we watch this fun movie,
we hope good things come to Benji.

We hate to see him come to harm,
for Benji’s filled with lots of charm.

The kids he loves are also great.
When villains come, we fear their fate.

How will Benji help save the day?
You know that’s something I can’t say.

But dogs and kids can’t be ignored.
See this film? Well, you won’t be bored.

The not-so-smart villains are played seriously by Angus Sampson (Winchester) and Will Rothhaar (Division 19). They come across just scary enough for youngsters but not frightening enough to give the kids bad dreams. However, these robbers have a ferocious Rottweiler that might be a problem for toddler viewers.        

I must conclude with congratulations to Benji. Too bad there’s no Oscar for Best Animal Performance. Benji would win hands – er paws – down. 

(Released by Neflix; not rated by MPAA.)

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Monday, March 19, 2018

A Birthday Poem

My birthday today was filled with surprises! Thanks to my family and friends who made this particular birthday quite memorable.

A special thanks to film critic and author Richard Jack Smith for the poem below.  

The Best of Us: A Birthday Poem
Looking for an Ice Road Trucker?
Sign up Betty Jo Tucker.
She's the critic who tells it straight
Where other opinions emerge too late.

A love of musicals she has.
Of Shirley Temple, Busby Berkeley and jazz.
From her I have learned a lot
About the movies and things to spot.

She has a mastery of the poetic phrase
Her observations simply amaze.
An original voice
Because that's her choice.

That poem means a lot to me because Richard and I both include film poems in some of our movie reviews. In fact, Richard’s latest book is titled A Poet Among Critics,  and here’s what I wrote about that terrific book:

Richard Jack Smith writes poems with ease
about movies designed to please.
Plus even some he thinks fall flat
and keep him from tipping his hat.

A fine poet among critics,
rhymes and images he does mix.
His reviews earn two thumbs up
and a poetry Loving Cup!


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Friday, March 09, 2018

Jane Bernard Loves March

I am very happy that Paperclips Magazine selected author Jane Bernard as their featured writer this month. Jane loves March! And she makes a great case for March in her wonderful article titled "Be Playful. It's March!" 

I love this month anyway (my birthday month and St. Pat's Day), but after reading Jane's article I feel even more fonder of March. Lots of good advice! Thanks, Jane.

Be sure to check out the article by clicking the link below.   

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Friday, March 02, 2018

Seven Years of Showbiz Fun!

Congratulations to George Bettinger, a recent Friars Club inductee, for making fans very happy during the past seven years with his wonderful Mom and Pop Shop radio show. As one of his many, many fans, I will miss listening to this fun show, which aired on Dream Stream Radio and on Tune In Radio in Miramar, Florida, and was heard all over the globe. I call George “Mr. Showbiz” because of his multiple talents, which I am sure will come in handy in his new ventures.

I felt honored when George read my poem below on his last Mom and Pop Shop Show that was broadcast on Friday, February 23.        

Number One on my Showbiz list,
The Mom and Pop Shop will be missed.
We’re lucky to have heard this show
as all its fans most surely know.

George Bettinger, the great EmCee,
gave us music and jollity.
Impressionist extraordinaire,
he made us forget each day’s care.

Bogart, Benny, Groucho and more
George summoned for us to adore.
Great guests joined in from everywhere
to laugh, to chat with lots to share.

When Mom Lizette came on the show
we cheered because we love her so.
Thanks, Pop George, for all you’ve done.
Our hearts and friendship you have won.

For what comes next, our wish for you
is that it makes your dreams come true

I am also thankful to George Bettinger for being one of our most entertaining guests on Movie Addict Headquarters, my own radio show, and for his enthusiastic support of that show. Of course, I never knew for sure who he planned to bring along with him: W.C. Fields, Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi, etc. And he gave a delightfully amusing performance in CAKE: A Love Story, a short film based on It Had To Be Us – the romantic memoir my husband and I co-wrote under the pen names of Harry and Elizabeth Lawrence. In fact, George and the lovely Lizette Amado-Bettinger assumed the roles of Harry and Elizabeth during one MAHQ episode where they read the first chapter of that book for our BlogTalkRadio listeners. Mom and Pop were both great!  

Please keep on being Mr. Showbiz, George Bettinger.

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Friday, February 23, 2018

Something's Afoot

Documentary, mockumentary -- and now socumentary!  Director Brian T Shirley has invented a new film genre with his amusing Two Go in One Comes Out: A Socumentary. It’s a short film starring Shirley as an investigative journalist trying to solve the missing socks mystery. Who hasn’t wondered what happens to all those socks that seem to disappear so frequently? And that’s probably why this little movie made me chuckle through every scene. Of course, Shirley’s ability as a talented entertainer helps considerably!

Watching this comic gem motivated me to write the following poem.

Two go in, only one comes out.

So what’s this film all about?

This socumentary presents

a mystery with fun nonsense.

Missing socks puzzle a worried guy.

to find the answer he must try.

He works hard to solve the case.

He questions subjects face to face.

Cleverly made and funny too,

this film is one that you should view!

(For more information about Two Go in One Comes Out: A Socumentary, go to the IMDb website at this link

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Thursday, February 01, 2018

Fun Tap Dancing Film

Everyone loves to cheer for the underdog. If that underdog happens to be a wannabe tap dancer, I’m the loudest cheerleader of all. No wonder I’m so excited about Dance Baby Dance, written and directed by Stephen Kogon, who also plays the leading role in this delightful independent film. Movies about tap dancers don’t come along too frequently nowadays -- so whenever one shows up, I’m a happy camper.

The plot is simple. Jimmy (Kogon) always wanted to be a successful tap dancer but an injury has confined him to an office occupation. He’s never lost his passion for tap dancing and now hopes to be chosen for a touring dance show. Kogon endows Jimmy with such likability that we can’t help wanting this guy to be successful. Do his dreams come true? It’s worth watching Dance Baby Dance to find out. 

Although a low-budget offering with less than perfect production values, this film makes up for that with its great heart and passion for dance.

As a former tap dancer myself, I felt compelled to write the poem below. 

Just tap tap tap that old time step.

Give it pizzazz and lots of pep!

Or shuffle off to Buffalo.

It feels so good if fast or slow.

Then shimmy with real style and grace.

Remember this is not a race.

Next do some wings like it’s a dare.

Feet a-flyin’, hands circling air.

Tap dancing chases blues away.

It helps you get through every day.

So tap tap tap as time goes by.

Dance Baby Dance” will make you try

(Released by Indie Rights/Winds of Hope. Not rated by MPAA.)

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