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Herb and Dorothy 50x50

The feature-length film Herb and Dorothy 50x50 is about the passion and vision and benefactions of Herbert and Dorothy Vogel, who on the salary of a postal clerk built up a fabulous art collection during the Minimalist/Conceptualist/Abstraction years of the late 20th century, and ultimately donated it to art galleries across the country, 50 works each to 50 galleries, one in each state.

12 Years a Slave

There’s a brief scene very early in Steve McQueen’s 12 Years a Slave, a wordless series of shots serving as a little prologue to the film and a flash-forward to a much later sequence. A black man eating his supper pauses as he fixes on the berries on his tin plate. He’s next seen in darkness, sharpening the end of a short stick and dipping it into the berry juice to write something before he stops and a look of great frustration and despair appears on his face.

All is Lost

One man on a damaged boat for an hour and 45 minutes. Mostly; he spends some of those screen minutes in the water. Aside from a letter we hear him read in the opening scene, there’s less dialogue than you would find in a tweet, just enough to persuade you that this isn’t a silent film. And he has no one to communicate with, no ship’s log, not even a tiger or a soccer ball with a face painted on it.

When Comedy Went to School

Many years ago my parents took me on a summertime trip to Brown’s Hotel in New York’s Catskill mountains. I don’t remember the experience as very interesting. I did get to shake Jack Dempsey’s hand (“Put ’er there, pal” is what I remember him saying) and I got the Manassa Mauler’s autograph. I also saw comedian Alan King do his act in the lounge, and I don’t think I enjoyed it much. I really never did like King’s comedy act; I thought his movie acting was better.

About Time

Whenever I’m faced with a movie about time travel, I try to bear in mind the words of Basil Exposition in The Spy Who Shagged Me, as he answers Austin Powers’s questions about the logical implausibilities and inconsistencies of time travel with a soothing, “I suggest you don’t worry about those things and just enjoy yourself.” He then turns to face the camera and advises the viewers, “That goes for you all, too.”

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