Eyewitness To Insanity

A ‘lucky to be alive’ passenger’s story

By David Schilke

From CNN.com

[(CNN.com) Editor’s note: David Schilke and his family were passengers on Flight 253. He and his wife Iliana work for Ford Motor Co. The following is from an e-mail he plans to send his co-workers on January 4.]

(CNN) — As most of you already know my wife, my son and I were on “that plane” on Christmas Day. We had ringside seats. In order to keep myself from going crazy (repeating everything about everything over and over again) I am writing this e-mail. The therapeutic value of writing things down and staring at the words over and over again after such an event should also not be overlooked.

Please, that definitely does NOT mean that you can’t come by and say hi, ask how we are doing, ask other questions or just stare at one of the luckiest persons you’ll ever know. Stop by if you wish, any time. The only thing you are absolutely forbidden to ask me about is work.

So, here goes.

The most important thing:

My family and I are still here and so are 275 other people — so it didn’t turn out so badly after all.

The facts:

The guy was on the left side of the plane, window seat, aisle 19. We were two rows back and I was four seats, plus an aisle, sideways from the guy. My son was next to me (on the aisle) and my wife was across the aisle from him.

About 15 minutes before landing — tray tables up, chairs forward, strapped in — most everyone heard a pop, very much like a New Year’s Eve popper. I immediately poked my head up. I thought the sound had come from ahead of me but I saw a flight attendant standing in our aisle about four or five rows up looking straight across to the other side of the plane. Her eyes were wide open staring over in what proved to be the generally correct direction.

I watched her and looked around for people who might be looking back or over towards a particular location. But neither the flight attendant, presumably, nor I could locate the origin of the pop and a lot of people weren’t staring towards one particular area of the plane.

She gave up, presumably, and continued down the aisle. I slumped back into my chair. I then was thinking that it was a child with a balloon or some not-very-intelligent person popping a bag. It had been a good 10 or so seconds since the pop.

Some people over on the other side of the plane suddenly started yelling “fire” and “smoke.” My head popped up again. I could see smoke — not a lot — rising from a set of two window/aisle chairs on the opposite side of the plane a couple rows up. I could see an orange reflection — no flames — low on the cabin walls. People were yelling for water.

After a short time I unbuckled my belt, stood up and stared over at aisle 19, the left window seat. There was one person to stare at because his neighbor had fled. People continued yelling “fire” and “water.” People around the guy, and others who had water, started pouring water on his lap and the seat. The flight attendants started yelling for fire extinguishers. The fire continued but always was just a reflection off the cabin walls. Once or twice I looked up at the smoke — it was never more then a small smoke trail rising up from the area and spreading out over a few rows in each direction. I could just barely smell the smoke.

Before the fire extinguishers arrived, a fellow on our side of the plane, about three rows up in a window seat, jumped out of his seat and over the middle four seats towards the suspect. He grabbed at the suspect and after a very short period of time had dragged him out of his seat to the floor. Less than a minute after the initial pop, two flight attendants ran up the aisle with fire extinguishers and doused the seat and presumably the suspect. The fire and smoke were gone at this point.

The suspect was dragged up to the first-class section by the guy from our side of the plane. We did not see the suspect again until he was removed by police after landing. We clapped twice during the flight. Once when the guy from our side of the plane came back to sit down and again when we landed.

My recollections may not exactly correspond to others that you may have heard or read — a person can only watch and record so many things in a short period of time and different aspects of an event are more or less important to different people. I would say that my recollections are very accurate as far as the smoke, the fire and the suspect are concerned.
I may not be recollecting exactly who said what and when, exactly what people said (“water” or “we need water,” etc.), how many people poured water and from what direction, who moved from somewhere to assist (except for the fellow mentioned above), what happened to the suspect after he was pulled from his seat onto the floor, exactly how he was removed from his seat, etc.

My wife stated that she did hear people screaming. I was focused on one area of the plane and only heard things going on in that area (“water,” “bring fire extinguishers,” etc.). There may have been screaming going on (which would imply some measure of panic) but I didn’t realize it.
The suspect: I remember staring at him for “long” periods of time (many seconds). I could very clearly see his face. He never moved. He never turned his head. He never spoke a word or moved his lips. He never struggled. He never stopped anybody from pouring water on him. His expression was completely emotionless.

The aftermath: After the suspect was moved to the front of the plane we quickly landed and moved to a gate — about 15 minutes or so later. During this time my wife’s attention — and mine — were on our son. He is 5 years old, and the questions from him were non-stop. We answered his questions calmly and as accurately as necessary without lying. He was pretty good about things, maybe because a 3-foot-9-inch person strapped in his seat couldn’t possibly see anything of consequence in this case.

The flight attendants had to yell at a couple of passengers who felt that it was absolutely necessary to remove items from the overhead bins.
The police came aboard and quickly got the suspect off the plane. We waited another few minutes before we were allowed to depart. I did not get a good look at the remains of the fire (wrong side of the plane). We went into the international luggage pick-up area of the terminal and remained there for about five hours or so.

We heard that other people were forced to sit on planes on the runways for hours, so sitting in the luggage area was not so bad after all. For some reason we were moved to the hall between the gate and the luggage area for about 20 or 30 minutes and then back to the luggage area again. We had our carry-on belongings with us the whole time.

Dogs were brought in to sniff through the carry-on luggage. The conclusion of our stay in the luggage area was an interview with the FBI. (about a half hour for us). My wife was interviewed by a herd of reporters as we exited the international terminal. During the bus ride to our car, I kissed my wife and bid her a Merry Christmas.

Until we started viewing the events on TV, many of us thought that this was some amateur-hour idiot or some suicidal moron looking for a little publicity. We have since learned that we got lucky, very lucky. This person and his handlers wanted and expected chaos, panic and mayhem.
Two common questions that we were asked over the next few days from various reporters and commentators:

1) Were you scared? If you asked my wife, she would say “yes” because for awhile, during that minute or so after the pop, she thought that the explosion and fire might cause a hole in the side of the plane that would decompress it.

If you asked me, I would say “no.” I never saw any chaos or panic (perhaps controlled chaos, at worse). The flames were always very low, never rising high enough for me to actually see them even while standing (just that orange glow on the cabin walls). The smoke never got thick.
People cried out about the fire and smoke (as they should). They cried out for water and fire extinguishers. The water was poured on the fire. The fire extinguishers were brought over and the fire was extinguished. The suspect never moved or spoke. He didn’t try to scream at us. He didn’t try to run out of his seat to possibly spread the fire. He didn’t try to fight being removed from his seat. I watched and never got concerned to the point of being scared for me or for my son or wife.

Perhaps if I had actually seen flames that went higher and higher; perhaps if there had been more smoke; perhaps if other explosions had occurred; perhaps if the suspect had tried to move about while on fire, or had screamed at us, or had tried to fight back in any way; perhaps if people around me had been screaming — then I probably would have been scared.

2) Will you fly again? Soon: We have to fly again in January. There is absolutely nothing that will keep us from flying in January. Nothing.
Later: We have enjoyed traveling the world and I expect we will continue to do so in the future.

We were not supposed to be on the Christmas Day flight from Amsterdam to Detroit. Our original itinerary was: December 23 – Moscow to Amsterdam, staying overnight in Amsterdam and December 24 – Amsterdam to Detroit.

On December 23, we started out for the Moscow airport 4-1/2 hours before the flight, which is normally way more than enough time to go the required 25-30 miles.

Traffic was horrible that day (weather, accidents) and we made it to the airport about 1/2 hour after the flight left. We stayed at an airport hotel in Moscow on December 23, flew from Moscow to Amsterdam on the December 24 and took the fated flight from Amsterdam to Detroit on December 25, a day late.

Some other things I have thought of in the week since Christmas:
The suspect would have just sat in his seat and slowly, and quietly, gone up in flames if nobody had done anything.

He paid cash. How nice.

Maybe we, and others, will keep an eye on each other next time. Walk around and watch people. Look into the eyes of strangers and determine if we like what we see.

Between that Reid guy and this guy (and others?), “they” will keep trying until they “get it right.” When they do get it right, it won’t be pretty.

My quote of a lifetime:

“I would rather have days where I am happy to be alive as opposed to days where I am lucky to be alive.”

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of David Schilke. ~CNN.com

Today’s Workplace

Office Romances: Are They Working?

By Stevie Sobieski

We all gasped in horror when Phyllis walked in on Dwight and Angela in flagrante delicto during the season four finale of The Office.

But, are office romances really all that shocking? According to a 2003 survey by the American Management Association (AMA), the answer is no. Sixty-seven percent of respondents said they approved of interoffice dating.

It is easy to understand why office romances develop. Familiarity breeds attraction, be it romantic or otherwise. You have got similarity in at least one arena; you work at the same place. Physical propinquity is high. With all these factors at play, it is no surprise that thirty percent of respondents to the AMA survey said they had dated someone they worked with.

There are upsides to having a relationship with a co-worker. Having a fling with a colleague makes the office a happier place. Employees that are satisfied in their jobs are more productive and tend to have lower turnover rates. According to a CareerBuilder.com survey, roughly 12% of relationships that start at work end with a trip down the aisle.

When it comes to workplace romance, the old adage rings true: all that is done in darkness will come to light. Many companies do not have specific policies relating to the treatment of interoffice relationships; however, there may be some negative consequences.

The majority of office romances do not grow into long-term relationships. If breakups are less than friendly, this may lead to discomfort if both parties remain in their current positions. A less-than-amiable split could even lead one party to call sexual harassment on the other. If the boss is dating a subordinate or vice versa, other employees may call favoritism. At worst, you and/or your partner may face termination.

The prospect of a new relationship is always thrilling. If you’re thinking of pursuing a romantic entanglement with a co-worker, here are some tips:

· Keep it professional while at work. The only PDA in your office should be your Blackberry.
· Know the rules. If you could be fired for dating a colleague, you do not want to learn this one the hard way.
· Keep it quiet. Although the relationship will most likely become public knowledge at some point, it need not be the hot topic in office gossip.


2009 Is When The Fat Cats Got Fatter …

… And The Rest Of Us Got Scraps

2009: The Year Wall Street Bounced Back and Main Street Got Shafted

By Robert Reich

Reprinted from his blog at robertreich.blogspot.com

In September 2008, as the worst of the financial crisis engulfed Wall Street, George W. Bush issued a warning: “This sucker could go down.” Around the same time, as Congress hashed out a bailout bill, New Hampshire Sen. Judd Gregg, the leading Republican negotiator of the bill, warned that “if we do not do this, the trauma, the chaos and the disruption to everyday Americans’ lives will be overwhelming, and that’s a price we can’t afford to risk paying.”

In less than a year, Wall Street was back. The five largest remaining banks are today larger, their executives and traders richer, their strategies of placing large bets with other people’s money no less bold than before the meltdown. The possibility of new regulations emanating from Congress has barely inhibited the Street’s exuberance.

But if Wall Street is back on top, the everyday lives of large numbers of Americans continue to be subject to overwhelming trauma, chaos and disruption.

It is commonplace among policymakers to fervently and sincerely believe that Wall Street’s financial health is not only a precondition for a prosperous real economy but that when the former thrives, the latter will necessarily follow. Few fictions of modern economic life are more assiduously defended than the central importance of the Street to the well-being of the rest of us, as has been proved in 2009.

Inhabitants of the real economy are dependent on the financial economy to borrow money. But their overwhelming reliance on Wall Street is a relatively recent phenomenon. Back when middle-class Americans earned enough to be able to save more of their incomes, they borrowed from one another, largely through local and regional banks. Small businesses also did.

It’s easy to understand economic policymakers being seduced by the great flows of wealth created among Wall Streeters, from whom they invariably seek advice. One of the basic assumptions of capitalism is that anyone paid huge sums of money must be very smart.

But if 2009 has proved anything, it’s that the bailout of Wall Street didn’t trickle down to Main Street. Mortgage delinquencies continue to rise. Small businesses can’t get credit. And people everywhere, it seems, are worried about losing their jobs. Wall Street is the only place where money is flowing and pay is escalating. Top executives and traders on the Street will soon be splitting about $25 billion in bonuses (despite Goldman Sachs’ decision, made with an eye toward public relations, to defer bonuses for its 30 top players).

The real locus of the problem was never the financial economy to begin with, and the bailout of Wall Street was a sideshow. The real problem was on Main Street, in the real economy. Before the crash, much of America had fallen deeply into unsustainable debt because it had no other way to maintain its standard of living. That’s because for so many years almost all the gains of economic growth had been going to a relatively small number of people at the top.

President Obama and his economic team have been telling Americans we’ll have to save more in future years, spend less and borrow less from the rest of the world, especially from China. This is necessary and inevitable, they say, in order to “rebalance” global financial flows. China has saved too much and consumed too little, while we have done the reverse.

In truth, most Americans did not spend too much in recent years, relative to the increasing size of the overall American economy. They spent too much only in relation to their declining portion of its gains. Had their portion kept up — had the people at the top of corporate America, Wall Street banks and hedge funds not taken a disproportionate share — most Americans would not have felt the necessity to borrow so much.

The year 2009 will be remembered as the year when Main Street got hit hard. Don’t expect 2010 to be much better — that is, if you live in the real economy. The administration is telling Americans that jobs will return next year, and we’ll be in a recovery. I hope they’re right. But I doubt it. Too many Americans have lost their jobs, incomes, homes and savings. That means most of us won’t have the purchasing power to buy nearly all the goods and services the economy is capable of producing. And without enough demand, the economy can’t get out of the doldrums.

As long as income and wealth keep concentrating at the top, and the great divide between America’s have-mores and have-lesses continues to widen, the Great Recession won’t end — at least not in the real economy.

2009 Film Recap

Best & Worst Movies of 2009

by Scott Marks

Usually I scramble to put together an annual Top Ten, but for the first time in over a decade there is an overabundance of quality movies, enough to warrant a Top Twenty! There is one qualification for a film to appear on this list. It must have screened in a San Diego theater for at least one night. If next year’s crop of films is half as good as this year’s, I’ll be a happy critic!

Abbie Cornish in Jane Campion’s “Bright Star.”
1. Jane Campions’ BRIGHT STAR (KPBS-Radio Review)
Jane Campion once again entertaining a pet uncertainty: Is it possible for art and romantic love to peacefully coexist? Based on the last three years of the life of English romantic poet John Keats and set in a galaxy far, far away before humankind was safely ensconced in their abodes pretending that they are actually reaching out and touching someone via a computer screen. A stunning recreation of how people used to communicate and this year’s most unabashed romantic melodrama.
2. Paolo Sorrentino’s IL DIVO (KPBS-Radio Review)
A brilliantly structured 105 minute epic based on the life of Italian Prime Minister Giulio Andreotti (Tony Servillo), a nondescript hunchbacked dwarf who quietly ran roughshod over his country’s politics for almost fifty years. Not what most American viewers expect from an epic. The film’s high energy visual style seldom jibes with Servillo’s frozen performance or the action that’s going on around him. Needless to say, it died at the box office, but don’t let that stop you from tracking down the DVD.
3. Bong Joon-Ho’s MOTHER
A mother will go to great lengths to free her mentally challenged son from a murder rap. Bong Joon-Ho’s (“The Host”) complex psychological horror film that played one night at the San Diego Asian Film Festival. Hopefully Landmark or Reading will pick this up for a theatrical run.
4. Atom Egoyan’s ADORATION
A teenager named Simon tells both his class and an internet chat group that his father was involved in a terrorist plot. A terrific film about a catastrophe that never happened. Atom Egoyan once again uses a lie to get at the truth in the year’s most non judgmental picture.
5. Majid Majidi’s THE SONG OF SPARROWS
A simple story complexly told and a masterpiece of technological miscommunication. An ostrich farmer loses his job and while in the city to get his daughter a new hearing aid, discovers a new career as a motorcycle cabbie. A life-affirming character study told in moments of quiet dignity.
6. Martin Provost’s SERAPHINE
French painter Séraphine de Senlis was a hopelessly unworldly 40-year old devout Catholic cleaning woman who was discovered by tenant and art collecter Wilhelm Uhde. Filmed in a constant state of overcast, this slow descent into madness is the finest film of its kind since David Cronenberg’s “Spider.”
7. Hirokazu Koreeda’s STILL WALKING
Basically the same subject matter in “Everybody’s Fine” done right. This drama about a family getting together to commemorate the anniversary of a child’s death is the closest contemporary movies have come to capturing the beauty and heartbreak of the films of Yasujiro Ozu.
8. Quentin Tarantino’s INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS
The single greatest Jewish revenge fantasy ever filmed and the year’s funniest movie.
9. Pablo Larrain’s TONY MANERO
A John Travolta impersonator/serial killer quietly wreaks havoc over an impoverished section of Santiago in 1978, four years into Augusto Pinochet’s military dictatorship. No film this year appealed more to my dark side than “Tony Manero.” Who among us has never wanted to bash in the skulls of a theater owner and her projectionist for changing pictures before you’ve had enough chances to study it? Kudos to the Latino Film Festival’s Ethan Van Thillo for bringing this to town as part of the Cinema en tu Idioma series.
Frank Langella, Cameron Diaz and James Marsden in Richard Kelly’s “The Box.”
10. Richard Kelly’s THE BOX
Let the record show that “The Box” has officially been classified one of the five worst reviewed films of the decade. To be quite honest, I’ve seen it four times and I still don’t know what the hell it’s about. On the surface it’s a futuristic sci-fi drama set in the not so distant past about a couple given the chance to anonymously play God in exchange for $1 million. If I always complain about Hollywood films barely having one original thought to play off of, “The Box” has enough ideas to spawn dozens of features. Hopefully Richard Kelly’s eventual DVD audio commentary will help plaster a few black holes and if not, I’ll still be in love with this movie.
11. Jim Jarmusch’s THE LIMITS OF CONTROL
There’s one too many exchanges of match books and star cameos and when you start addressing the molecular structure of the universe, I need a ticket to get back in. But if Jarmusch’s goal was to spark dialog and make people think, this is 2009’s most successful film. I haven’t thought or talked more about a movie this year.
12. John Woo’s RED CLIFF PART 1 (John Woo Interview)
John Woo’s return to China turns out to be the best film he’s made since he came to America in 1993. The three major battle sequences are brilliantly staged and unlike anything you’ve seen come out of Hollywood in ages. WARNING: This is not the so-called International Cut which takes the five hour Parts I & II and condenses them into a 150 minute version.
13. Erick Zonca’s JULIA
Tilda Swinton, in another head turning performance, plays a career alcoholic who buys into a neighbor’s plan to kidnap her ten-year old son and extort money from the boy’s drug trafficking grandfather. Needless to say everything goes wrong in this dark comedic reworking of John Cassavetes’ “Gloria.”
14. Christophe Van Rompaey’s MOSCOW, BELGIUM
It starts with a meet cute – After her husband leaves her for a younger woman, an ornery housewife reluctantly begins an affair with a younger truck driver she accidentally backs into – and proceeds to go in every direction other than where you’d expect it. The best romantic comedy of the year never found an audience here due to a lack of Sandra Bullock and an overabundance of subtitles.
15. Avi Nescher’s THE SECRETS
Between this movie and “A Simple Man,” every horrific memory from my Hebrew school upbringing went flashing before my eyes. A young orthodox Jewish woman dreams of entering into one of the world’s oldest boy’s club and becoming a rabbi. This bold, sensual, fact-based film takes great delight in telling tales out of Hebrew school.
16. Oren Moverman’s THE MESSENGER (Woody Harrelson Interview)
Give the filmmakers an ‘A’ for originality. There have been thousands of war films produced since the dawn of cinema, but none ever told the story of the Army’s Casualty Notification service. Ben Foster, Woody Harrelson and Samantha Morton figure in the best ensemble cast of the year.
17. Tom Ford’s A SINGLE MAN
The bleakest of all this year’s holiday releases tells the tale of an English professor (Colin Firth) who spends his day working up the nerve to commit suicide after his lover is killed in a car crash. Impeccable 60s period recreation, stylish direction, a solid script based on Christopher Isherwood’s novel and one of the year’s best performances more than compensate for all the gloom.
18. Benoît Pilon’s THE NECESSITIES OF LIFE
A sick Inuit who can’t speak French leaves his igloo and family in order to recuperate at a Canadian sanitarium where he strikes up a friendship with a young orphan who acts as his translator. Here is concrete evidence that there is a great film to be made out of any story, even one concerning a tubercular Eskimo and a sick kid. Never maudlin or content to follow any televised “disease of the week” format, “The Necessities of Life” tells its story with grace, style and an exceptional use of expressionistic color. With all that going for it you’d hardly expect this to open wide on 3,500 screens. It played one night at the Cinema Society of San Diego where I was fortunate enough to have seen it.
19. Eran Riklis’ LEMON TREE
A field of lemon trees representing a battleground between Israel and Palestine sounds a bit facile, but Eran Riklis’ allegorical tale is anything but. As with most events between Palestinians and Israelis, nobody actually comes out a winner and the film concludes with the most devastating curtain shot of the year.
20. Robert Siegel’s BIG FAN
Still my favorite premise of the year: A sports ubergeek runs into “his” team’s quarterback in a strip club. After an innocent exchange of words, the coked-out hurler beats the guy within an inch of his life, yet the big fan refuses to press charges in fear that the star QB will be sidelined. Who can ask for better entertainment than this?
Runners Up: Sebastián Silva’s “The Maid,” Götz Spielmann’s “Revanche,” The Coen Brothers’ “A Serious Man,” So Yong Kim’s “Treeless Mountain,” Ramin Bahrani’s “Goodbye Solo,” Wes Anderson’s “Fantastic Mr. Fox,” Steven Soderbergh’s “The Girlfriend Experience,” Bent Hamer’s “O’Horten,” Park Chan Wook’s “Thirst,” Scott McGehee & David Siegel’s “Uncertainty,” John Woo’s “Red Cliff Part 2,” The Dardienne Brothers’ “Lorna’s Silence,” Pierre Morel’s “Taken,” Matt Aselton’s “Gigantic,” James Mottern’s “Trucker,” Kevin Macdonald’s “State of Play,” Bruce McDonald’s “Pontypool,” and Marc Webb’s “(500) Days of Summer.”

Tony Servillo in Paolo Sorrentino’s “Il Divo.”
Not Cattle: Tony Servillo in “Il Divo,” Yolande Moreau in “Seraphine,” Colin Firth in “The Single Man,” Christoph Waltz in “Inglourious Basterds,” Michelle Monaghan in “Trucker,” Kirin Kiki in “Still Walking,” Tilda Swinton in “Julia,” Evan Rachel Wood in “Whatever Works,” Ben Foster, Samantha Morton & Woody Harrelson in “The Messenger,” Christian McKay in “Me and Orson Welles,” Nicolas Cage in “Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans,” Jeff Bridges in “Crazy Heart,” Bill Murray in “The Limits of Control,” Barbara Sarafian in “Moscow, Belgium,” Baard Owe in “O’Horten,” John Goodman in “Gigantic,” Abbie Cornish in “Bright Star,” Hiam Abbas in “Lemon Tree,” Charlotte Gainsbourgh in “Antichrist,” Sam Rockwell in “Moon,” Melanie Laurent in “Inglourious Basterds,” Alfredo Castro is “Tony Manero,” Arsineee Khanjian in “Adoration,” Zooey Deschanel in “(500) Days of Summer,” Juliette Lewis & Alia Shawkat in “Whip It,” John Malkovich in “The Great Buck Howard,” Anna Kendrick in “Up in the Air,” Patton Oswalt in “Big Fan,” Mary Steenburgen in “Did You Hear About the Morgans?,” Seth Rogen in “Observe and Report,” Verne Troyer in “The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus” and Harrison Ford in “Bruno.”
Favorite Documentaries: Louie Psihoyos’ “The Cove,” Robert Stone’s “Earth Days,” Sacha Gervasi’s “Anvil: The Story of Anvil,” Aviva Kempner’s “Yoo Hoo! Mrs. Goldberg,” Matt Tyrnauer’s “Valentino: The Last Emperor,” and Kenny Ortega’s “This is It.”
Best Animated Features: Wes Anderson’s “The Fantastic Mr. Fox” and Aristomenis Tsirbas’ “Battle for Terra.” Sorry, “Up” started well and quickly drifted off into Spielbergia.
5 Guilty Pleasures: “I Hope they Serve Beer in Hell,” “Dead Snow,” “Fired Up,” “Last House on the Left” and “Antichrist.”
Films I’ve yet to see that could potentially alter this list: “The Last Station,” The White Ribbon,” “The Day the Clown Cried.”
Best Action Thrill Ride: “Taken.”
2009’s Two Walk-Outs: “Transformers II” and “The Blind Side” (They sent me a screener of “The Blind Side,” so I did eventually see how it ended. Hmm. What a surprise.)
5 Films That Are So Bad They’re Hilarious: “Emlio,” “Precious,” “Free Style,” “Adam” and “Two Lovers”
YEAHBUTHOWLONGDOIGOTTAWAIT?: Scorsese’s “Shutter Island,” originally scheduled to open on Oct. 2, was pushed back to Feb. 19 because Paramount claimed they didn’t have enough money to properly market it. Look how they make Him look. Like a bum. Like a Mama Luke!
Nazis left the White House and returned to the big screen where they belong: “Inglourious Basterds,” “Dead Snow,” “A Woman in Berlin,” “Adoration,” “Flame and Citron,” “Paris 36,” “9” and “Coco Before Chanel.”
5 Major Disappointments: “Bruno, “Invictus,” “Tetro,” “Whatever Works” and “Drag Me to Hell.”
Worst Musical Score: Marvin Hamlisch’s “Bananas” retread for “The Informant.”
Best Nude Scenes: Amber Heard in “The Informers,” Ania Bukstein and Michal Shtamler in “The Secrets,” Paz de la Huerta in “The Limits of Control” and Little Abdul putting on the feedbag in “Precious.”
The Longest 100 minutes of the Year: “Where the Wild Things Are.”
Worst Screening of the Year: I’m not going to narc anybody, but there was a certain screening of “A Single Man” that took the young projectionist ten minutes (and two critics walking out to complain) to figure out that the movie was in ‘Scope. First clue: If you can’t fit the name of the distribution company and their logo in the same frame something is wrong. They at least were able to re-start the film from the beginning.
Funny Curtain Shot: “The Girlfriend Experience.”
Devastating Curtain Shot: “Lemon Tree.”
Remind Me When The DVDs Come Out: To splice “Chaos Reigns!” somewhere into “Fantastic Mr. Fox.”
New Year’s Resolutions: Lay off the comic book adaptations and after this year’s most pestiferous hat trick, unless she signs on to do Marty’s next picture, avoid Sandra Bullock like the plague.
The 10 Worst Films of 2009:
“Gentlemen Broncos”
“Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire”
“Where the Wild Things Are”
“Outlander”
“Emilio”
“Easy Virtue”
“Free Style”
“The Stoning of Soraya M”
“Little Ashes”
“Gamer”

Winding down the year…

Photos from the end of 2009

It’s going to be a new decade, and here’s hoping that 2010 will be a lot better. Not that 2009 was all that bad, but let’s admit it, it could have been better. As the economy has had a year to recover from the global banking meltdown as they’ve called it, we can only assume we’ve got reason to be optimistic…

Here’s how Reviewer Rob spent this late afternoon/early evening on the 29th of December, 2009:

At left: Started out with a beer at The Wits End on 5th Avenue where they do a Tuesday night Open Mike night… Left before Sam showed up when she was to start the show, but made some calls as I finished my day’s business.

Then I went to OB to drop off some cash and settle up with my assistant because I owed him for some hours from working for me earlier in the week. Bought 4 slices of pizza and a pitcher of kraft beer at The Newport Ale House, for $28 total plus the tip…

After we finished I felt like staying out and local so I went to Winstons and caught the tail end of Trivia Night and had a beer with host Jose Sinatra, who also got busy doing an impromptu photoshoot, taking photos with a couple of clip-on flourescent desk lamps of the cute bartender who said she was leaving to go be in Maui…

In the Winston’s bathroom I noticed a Reviewer Magazine sticker circa 1999 still affixed over the urinal beer shelf. Looked like at one time there had been another sticker covering it but someone had pulled it off, so i thought that was pretty cool…

After trivia night was over I stuck around for a bit then headed back to my pad. SDPD is busy enforcing DUI patrol for the NYE holidays and I didn’t want to risk being out and get caught in any checkpoint action or whatever…

So, stay safe everyone and enjoy the holidays. Here’s to an excellent 2010. 🙂