The Real Alternative


Pixels – DVD Review

Official poster for Columbia Pictures’ film “Pixels” – Wikipedia

Last night I returned some library material to a branch that I don’t visit too often. Browsing the DVD section I saw a fresh copy of Pixels. I’d been curious about it, so checked it out.

I was drawn into the film fairly quickly. Being about 20 yrs in 1982, where the movie begins, it brought back a host of memories. Some good, some not so good.

Adam Sandler plays Sam Brenner, a “loser” working as a tech installer. His orange outfit even has the word “nerd” in the corporate logo. Sort of a cliche these days, one which I doubt actual tech installers would appreciate.

On the other hand, Sam takes on an attractive “snob” (Michelle Monaghan) who wouldn’t kiss him because of his lowly status. And he does it well. So the film is a bit more complicated than merely perpetuating harmful stereotypes.

What really grabbed me in this movie was its integration of early video games, 80s pop culture, and the idea of an ET invasion. If you extend your imagination a bit, I think this movie is pretty good. I laughed here and there. Yes, drifted a few times… but one can always hit the pause button and get a coffee or snack when that happens.

On the whole, I felt that Sandler and the supportive cast did a good job. I wouldn’t say “great” but again, it was the synthesis of old, new and the beyond that made the difference.

More or less panned on other web sites. I think this film was just a bit too clever for some learned “critics” whose minds are too regimented to appreciate a flick that doesn’t fit into the current sci-fi box.  True, it appears stupid and silly. One reviewer just called it “tediously bad.”¹ But something higher was going on. At least, it was for me.

Final word – Pleasantly surprised.



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Does ‘translating’ Shakespeare into modern English diminish its greatness?

List of titles of works based on Shakespearean...

List of titles of works based on Shakespearean phrases (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Sheila T Cavanagh, Emory University

An uproar ensued after it was reported that the Oregon Shakespeare Festival (OSF) – southern Oregon’s 80-year-old annual theatrical extravaganza – would be commissioning playwrights to “translate” all of Shakespeare’s plays into modern English.

The project drew jeers from Shakespearean professors, arts practitioners and others who believe passionately in the power of Shakespeare’s original texts, who abhor any attempt to “dumb down” their language.

OSF Director of Literary Development and Dramaturgy Lue Douthit and OSF Artistic Director Bill Rauch maintain that OSF is undertaking a bold, not sacrilegious, experiment. Nevertheless, howls of outrage have followed what Douhit ruefully has deemed a “career-ending” announcement for those involved.

As an educator and lover of Shakespearean drama, I remain committed to the value of presenting Shakespeare’s plays in their original language. I require my students to read Shakespeare’s plays in their original form, and through my work on the World Shakespeare Project, I’ve witnessed undergraduates in places such as Uganda, rural India and Buenos Aires enthusiastically respond to the challenge.

Yet the outrage over the OSF’s new modernization project is misguided. The organization – which is known for experimentation – is simply participating in larger, centuries-long tradition of molding, melding and adapting Shakespeare’s original texts.

Stage of the OSF Elizabethan Theatre

Stage of the OSF Elizabethan Theatre (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Shakespeare for dummies?

Among those criticizing the new project is Columbia University Professor James Shapiro, a prominent Shakespearean scholar who maintains that “by changing the language in this modernizing way…it just doesn’t pack the punch and the excitement and the intoxicating quality of [the original] language.”

Earlier this month, before an audience at Shakespeare’s Globe, he added, “It’s a really bad idea.”

Notably, however, Shapiro (along with many others) responded quite differently to the translation of a different classic text. On Nobel Laureate Seamus Heaney’s oft-praised 1999 rewriting of Beowulf, Shapiro wrote in The New York Times:

Examples like this add up to a translation that manages to accomplish what before now had seemed impossible: a faithful rendering that is simultaneously an original and gripping poem in its own right.

In this instance, at least, Heaney’s talent apparently overcame Shapiro’s objections to the concept.

The playwrights the company has commissioned to “modernize” the language of Shakespeare’s works may or may not achieve the majesty attributed to Seamus Heaney’s Beowulf. But for whatever reason, changing the language of Shakespeare remains an anathema, while the setting, costuming and theoretical conceptualization of his plays are fair game for innovation.

The hottest theater ticket in Britain at the moment, for example, is Benedict Cumberbatch’s Hamlet, which caused similar outrage for opening with the famous “To Be or Not to Be” soliloquy, rather than the traditional “Who’s there?.” By the end of previews, the speech was moved back to (one of) the places it traditionally resides. Cumberbatch’s audiences have been comparatively silent, however, about the production’s addition of modern props, like a phonograph player.

London’s Young Vic Theatre, meanwhile, is currently presenting a strong version of Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure, with a set filled with dozens of naked, anatomically correct, inflatable dolls. Like the phonograph player on the set of Hamlet, it’s unlikely that theatergoers will object to the dolls, nor will they protest the video screens employed during the performance.

But when it comes to changing the language – well, the main objection, it appears, stems from concerns that it will encourage series such as Shakespeare for Dummies or No Fear Shakespeare, which presents original Shakespearean text adjacent to what its editors call “the kind of English people actually speak today.”

Such projects are understandable, if worrisome. Shakespeare does have a reputation for being too dense for ordinary people to easily comprehend.

At the same time, there are many remarkable projects that bring Shakespeare’s plays to even the most unconventional audiences. There’s Curt Tofteland’s Shakespeare Behind Bars, which offers prisoners the opportunities to present full-length Shakespeare plays, while former Royal Shakespeare Company artist Kelly Hunter’s project Shakespeare’s Heartbeat uses Shakespearean drama as the basis for games designed for children with autism.

Play on!

It’s worth noting the OSF is not planning to replace Shakespeare’s original texts during its current presentation of the complete Shakespearean canon, which will take place over the next decade.

While the company hopes that the newly commissioned versions of Shakespeare will be performed in Oregon and elsewhere, they also retain their commitment to presenting the conventional texts, albeit with regular tweaks and cuts.

As Shapiro and many others admit, Shakespearean drama has been altered, rewritten and reimagined repeatedly since the plays were first presented during the reigns of Elizabeth Tudor and James Stuart.

‘Is life even worth living? That’s what I keeping wondering…’
Dylan Martinez/Reuters

During the English Restoration, King Lear was given a happy ending. More recently, the 2001 film Scotland, Pa. offered a modern retelling of Macbeth, set at a fast food restaurant. Henry IV found itself placed among male prostitutes in Oregon in Gus Van Sant’s 1991 film My Own Private Idaho. Even Justin Kurzel’s acclaimed new film Macbeth opens with a twist: the funeral of Macbeth’s toddler.

The best adaptations – West Side Story, the musical Kiss Me, Kate and the Japanese film Throne of Blood – thrive. The bad, silly and unfortunate – Romeo and Juliet: Sealed with a Kiss and Animal Planet’s Romeo and Juliet: A Monkey’s Tale – fall by the wayside.

As poet Andrew Marvell might say, there is “world enough and time” for any number of Shakespearean adaptations and iterations.

While Shakespeare’s original language is remarkably rich and compelling, like Cleopatra, “age will not wither it.” Neither will OSF’s revisionary experimentation.

The Conversation

Sheila T Cavanagh, Professor of English, Emory University

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

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Her – Review by MC

Fair Use/Dealing rationale for image from Her - low res image for review and educational purposes

Fair Use/Dealing rationale for image from Her – low res image for review and educational purposes

I watched Spike Jonze’s film, Her, the other night. A few more points came to mind that weren’t covered here, mostly about different types of love (eros, agape, and so on). But this was my first shot at audio reviewing, so I was lucky to get as much in as I did. No notes or excessive thinking beforehand. Just first impressions…

I should add that I was somewhat inspired by the New York Times photographer Bill Cunningham, who takes fashion photos on the streets of New York and talks about them every week at The Times’ website. If the documentary about Cunningham is accurate, it seems that he takes a quick look at his pics on a storyboard before taping his weekly commentary. I like that spontaneity, and tried to emulate it here.

Maybe with practice I’ll be half as good at this as he is!

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Rose – Review



Title: Rose
Genre: Urban Drama
Producer/DirectorKemal Yildirim
Writer: Stephen Loveless (with Jack James)
Stars: Mike Mitchell, Helen Clifford, Patrick Regis

Back in 2008, UK director Kemal Yildirim released an impressive sleeper film called Rosereview). The film was based on a true story about a young woman tragically hooked on drugs. In 2012 Yildirim retold the story with a revised cast and storyline. The reimagined Rose review) was a giant leap forward from the original film’s promising beginnings.

Today, we have a third Rose. To be honest, having reviewed the story twice, when asked to review the third incarnation I wondered if the director could really make it any better. Hadn’t Yildirim already made a bold statement with his 2012 remake? The critics seemed to think so.

Well, a couple of years have passed and Yildirim clearly hasn’t stood still. His artistic sense is sharper than in earlier versions of this film. This new Rose is about 30 minutes shorter than its predecessor. But the edits are so seamless that it’s hard to tell exactly what was altered. Nothing seems missing and everything comes off fluid and coherent.

Indeed, this version of Rose is cinematic proof that less can be more.

Although the basic storyline remains unchanged, there is a subliminal shift in emphasis—slightly less sex and violence and a more nuanced treatment of the relationship between Rose and her daughter Ellie. At least, this is how I saw it. For those, like me, who’ve already watched the second Rose, this new take presents an opportunity to reflect on how we’ve grown as viewers. Is our new understanding of the story based on changes within the film or on changes within ourselves?

Rose and Ellie

Rose and Ellie

Not to say that Rose is an ink blot. It definitely has a focused message, that of redemption against all odds. And a lot happens. But the film maintains a kind of soulful detachment that keeps it from falling into the genre of “action flick.” Several techniques are used to achieve this effect. Glide shots, ceiling shots, and steady sequences reminiscent of Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, where dialogue is implied rather than heard.

No, Rose isn’t an action film. It’s arguably a meditation. And if viewed that way, we gain insight not only into another side of life, but maybe even into ourselves.

Strong leading performances and an enticing supportive cast ensure that this haunting film hits home. So if by chance you’ve seen earlier incarnations of Rose and think you’ve seen it all, think again. This rendering gets under our skin like no Rose before.


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Indo-Americans object to derogatory remarks in Jason Bateman movie

English: Jason Bateman at the 2007 Toronto Int...

Jason Bateman at the 2007 Toronto International Film Festival. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Special to

Indo-Americans are upset over stereotyping their community in upcoming Jason Bateman comedy “Bad Words”.

Referring to Red Band trailer of the movie, Indo-American Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada (USA) today, said that addressing an Indo-American kid as “Hey Slumdog” and using the words “curry hole” for him smelled of xenophobia and racism.

Zed, who is Chairperson of Indo-American Leadership Confederation, stressed that Indo-Americans were for free speech as much anybody else if not more. But unnecessarily belittling a community with stereotyped remarks, even in a comedy, hurt the community. Filmmakers should be more responsible while handling race and faith related subjects, as cinema was a very powerful medium.

Moreover, talking to a young child that way was really inappropriate and disappointing, Rajan Zed argued.

Zed has urged the filmmaker to remove the words derogatory to Indo-American community in the movie and trailer and offer a formal apology.

Directed and starred by Golden Globe winner Jason Bateman (Arrested Development)  and rated R (Restricted), “Bad Words” is scheduled for release in USA in March next.

As indicated at the beginning of the trailer, don’t watch this if you don’t want to hear crude and vulgar language… (ed.)

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Mistified – Upcoming indie film about the Maori, self and spirit



We now have Part 2 of an interview about the upcoming indie film called Mistified, a story about the Maori living in New Zealand (Here’s Part 1, if you missed it).

Kathy Wilson, producer of the film, has spent much time among the tribes and has dived full-heartedly into making this project a success, not just for them, but for what they stand for; their relations to the earth and spirituality.

Why do you see Mistified as a movie and not a book?

Why a film: because there is no other media that provides the opportunity to immerse a group people into an experience. Words, sounds, and visuals can create an inspiring and sometimes transformational experience that an individual may carry with them for the rest of their life. Films are the quintessence of “sound” and “light,” the transformative frequencies we humans resonate with.

I believe Mistified will trigger ancient memories that will encourage viewers to embark on their own epic, magical journeys. Hopefully, the heroine and her journey will trigger you down the “yellow brick road” of your own creation.  What the movie has done for me, I believe it will do for others.

How have you changed spiritually after your time in New Zealand?

It is hard for me to evaluate my spiritual progress into words. I can still get overwhelmed with all the things I think I need to be accomplished each day, however, I do have more of an awareness that things seem to happen in their own divine order when I stop trying to control everything.

Did you experience a phenomenon while spending time with the Maori? If so, was it life changing?

Yes. On my first trip when I journeyed with my friend, Barry. I went to explore some rock formations by his home. There are three distinct groupings of very large boulders. When you enter there is a rock that resembles the Mother Mary. The legion is that each area represents a different lineage of tribe: the water, stone and air peoples. When we hiked into the area I had no idea where we were. It was a beautiful, sunny day and I was enjoying the majesty of these huge boulders. I wondered off onto a ledge overlooking a valley. I sat on the edge totally engulfed in the beauty, the warmth of the sun and soft, gentle breeze were glorious. I’m not sure how long I stayed, as time seemed to stand still, but when I got up and turned to go back, all these beautiful giant boulders around me now looked very different. They appeared to be in the shapes of sea animals. Everyone I looked at resembled a different sea creature and the biggest shock was when I turned and looked at where I had been sitting. It was a huge whale and I had been sitting on the tail. I was then told I had been in the section of boulders that represented the water people. I don’t know what others see when they go there, but that was my experience and for me, a very awe-inspiring moment in my life.

How do you expect to be changed after working on this production?

I can’t say for now, however, I know it will be a grand adventure with possibilities beyond my wildest dreams.

Lastly, how can we follow the project?

There are five ways we would love you to connect with us:

  1. Join our mailing list at
  2. Like our Facebook Page
  3. Chat to us on Twitter (don’t have as yet)
  4. Donate at http://www.indigogo  (link coming soon)
  5. Read our blog at

Haere mai, welcome…..come on in and join us.


Mistified – Upcoming indie film about the Maori, self discovery and the beyond


Courtesy: is happy to post Part 1 of a recent interview about the upcoming indie film called Mistified, a story about the Maori living in New Zealand.

Kathy Wilson, producer of the film, has spent much time among the tribes and has dived full-heartedly into making this project a success, not just for them, but for what they stand for; their relations to the earth and spirituality.

Are you excited about getting this campaign off the ground?

I am very excited about getting our Indiegogo campaign off the ground. It is our opportunity to start creating our community, to let people know about our project, and to create the initial funding needed to move the project forward.

Is this film only for the spiritually educated?

Not at all; it is a universal story. I believe we are all spiritually educated, yet some of us might not have learned how to listen to the part of us, the inner guidance, that speaks to us, whether we listen or not.

You seem to be dedicated to this project. How is this different from your past endeavors?

I am a very persistent person when it comes to seeing something through. In my corporate and business life, I have accomplished things I would have never deemed possible.  Although I have questioned my sanity on many occasions in regards to this undertaking, there is something within me that just won’t let it go. At times it seems if I were to listen to the experts and statistics, common sense would say “turn and run.” Yet, for whatever reason, logic is not what is driving this project. I’m not quite sure what it is, but I do know one thing: I will see it through to the end.

What can we learn from watching the film?

How life takes us on unexpected journeys that we could never have predicted. Whether you believe there is a guiding force in your life or not, each road you take can have a purpose for preparing you for the next fork in the road. That sometimes embracing the unknown and having a willingness to go down the rabbit hole just might result an experience beyond your wildest dreams. Life sometimes takes great leaps of faith. Those that learn how to take those leaps, start to find their way through the maze. The trick is not to get stuck in always having to know. Sometimes the power is in not knowing and being open to all possibilities.

How can we be a part of the Mistified community?

We would love for you to go to our website at and join our community. Our blog will keep you updated on our progress. Please also check out our Indiegogo campaign which is running from Nov. 13th until the middle of Jan. 2014.  We have some amazing “Perks” and all donations are tax deductible.

» Go to Part 2 of the interview.


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