Clear and Present Danger, by Sarah Brinks

27 Aug

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Second Opinion is a little bit Law & Order, a little Frontline documentary, and a little bit Tom Clancy novel. Second Opinion is a documentary about Ralph W. Moss who in the mid-nineteen-seventies became a science writer for Sloane-Kettering’s public relations department. During his early days as a writer he had to answer people’s letters who wrote in with their thoughts on cancer cures. Many were “folk” cures he could easily ignore but he answered many letters asking about a drug called Laetrile, which is derived from apricot pits. He had an organization approved response to letters about Laetrile which fobbed it off as an ineffective treatment. Moss then met Doctor Kanematsu Sugiura, a pioneer in cancer research, who was in his eighties at the time. When Moss asked him what he was working on then he answered that he was testing Laetrile. Moss had been saying for years that it was a useless drug based on the company-wide policy so he was very surprised that one of the world’s top cancer researchers was spending any time on it. Dr. Sugiura found that Laetrile was actually an effective drug in about 80% of the mice he tested at reducing the lung metastases for a period of time and also served as a pain reducer in the mice. However Sloane Kettering had their own agenda and they continued to deny that Laetrile had any benefits for cancer patients. Moss had seen the results of Dr. Sugiura’s tests and knew that Sloane Kettering was lying. So he convinced Dr. Sugiura to give him a copy of the test results and Moss leaked the results in a number of forums including a monthly magazine he helped create called ‘Second Opinion’. The majority of the contributors to ‘Second Opinion’ were employees of Sloane Kettering, so they had to be very careful and stay anonymous. In the end Moss has no choice but to admit that he was the leak. He was fired and became a lifelong advocate for alternative medicines and Laetrile.

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Home Video Hovel: Quicksand, by Craig Schroeder

26 Aug

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I got in trouble as a young boy for coloring on my dad’s favorite shirt. When the fuzz (my parents) started to close in on me, I did the only thing a precocious child knows to do: put the marker in my sister’s room and cry ignorance. I was inevitably caught and punished; not just for coloring on the shirt, but for lying about it. Quicksand, the 1950 film from director Irving Pichel, is an extrapolation of this morality tale using a feature length film to show–with varying degrees of success–what happens when you commit a greater transgression to hide a lesser one.

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Home Video Hovel: Music From the Big House, by Sarah Brinks

26 Aug

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Music from the Big House is about a Canadian blue singer named Rita Chiarelli who finds herself putting on a concert with a group of inmates at Angola prison in Louisiana. Rita came across Angola prison while she was on a “pilgrimage” to learn about the origins of blues music, which is her passion. When she came to the prison, she thought she would put on a concert for the inmates, but as she started to spend time there, she realized there was some amazing music being created within Angola’s walls. She then decided to let the inmates in on the fun.

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EPISODE 388: with special guest SUZIEY BLOCK

25 Aug

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In this episode, Tyler and David are joined by actress Suziey Block to talk about her career.

Hey, Watch This! Happy Valley/Married

25 Aug

Happy Valley

In this episode, Paul and David discuss Happy Valley and Married.

CLICK HERE TO LISTEN

Broken, by Williamson Balliet

24 Aug

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As prisoner Eric Love is led to his new cell, he moves quickly and mechanically in order to ensure his safety. In his first action, aside from those ordered by guards during a search for contraband, he breaks open a disposable razor to remove its single blade. Lighting a toothbrush aflame, he binds the two together and cleverly conceals them inside of his cell’s overhead fluorescent light. It is a brilliant sequence that calmly illuminates his ingenuity, resourcefulness, and history of violence without him ever having to say a word. However, this is among the precious few times that Starred Up opts for subtlety, collapsing under its own weight despite glimmers of relevancy and visual complexity.

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Familiar Faces, by David Bax

22 Aug

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Ira Sachs’ transcendent new film, Love Is Strange, starts out with a scope as big as the personalities of its two main characters, Ben (John Lithgow) and George (Alfred Molina), but narrows as it goes on. That’s not at all to imply that it forgets its original theses but rather that it drills down to their essence, recognizing that at the core of any political or social agenda, there must first be basic humanity.

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May Cause Drowsiness, by David Bax

21 Aug

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It’s almost irresistibly tempting to describe Cherien Dabis’ May in the Summer as a female Garden State or a Jordanian Home for the Holidays and call it a day. Of course, being so reductive would be irresponsible and lazy. Yet it wouldn’t be that much less effort than Dabis appears to have put into crafting her story.

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Home Video Hovel: Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down!, by David Bax

21 Aug

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There’s an uneasy feeling that comes with watching many of the films of Pedro Almodóvar. His stories are often told with a devil-may-care exuberance despite being stuffed with unsavory and downright upsetting subjects and events. Think of All About My Mother’s pregnant nun with AIDS or Bad Education’s scarred survivors of childhood sexual abuse, all of it in a dreamy and garish presentation. Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down!, new on Blu-ray this week, not only fits right in; it may be the uneasiest of all because it trusts the viewer to understand the awfulness on parade even when it seems that none of the characters does.

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Docking Soon: I Do Movies Badly

19 Aug

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