Steven Bochco, Writer and Producer of Landmark TV Series Such as ‘Hill Street Blues,’ ‘L.A. Law’ and ‘NYPD Blue,’ Dies at 74

I just started watching Hill Street Blues. It was a groundbreaking police series because of its realism and the adult subject matter. The documentary aesthetic and morally complex themes made it more daring than many of the previous television series about the police and crime.

On this date- April 1

Today is the birthday of Jane Powell, David Oyelowo, Asa Butterfield, Method Man, Rachel Maddow, Mackenzie Davis, Taran Killam, Jane Adams, Ali MacGraw, Bijou Phillips, Barry Sonnenfeld, Tomas Alfredson, Albert and Allen Hughes, Chang-dong Lee, Annette O’Toole, Rob Bottin, Susan Boyle, Richard Christy, and the late Debbie Reynolds, Toshirô Mifune, Lon Chaney, Wallace Beery, Otto von Bismarck, Grace Lee Whitney, Gordon Jump, and Harry Lewis. Noah Beery died 72 years ago in 1946 at age 64 on the birthday his brother, Wallace Beery. Marvin Gaye was murdered 34 years ago in 1984 at age 44, one day before his birthday. Leslie Cheung committed suicide 15 years ago in 2003 at age 46.

On this date- March 31

Today Christopher Walken and Roy Andersson are 75, Rhea Perlman and Al Gore are 70, Tony Cox is 60, and Daniel Mays is 40. Today is also the birthday of Ewan McGregor, Richard Chamberlain, Deborah Kara Unger, Shirley Jones, Gabe Kaplan, William Daniels, Marc McClure, Volker Schlöndroff, Alejandro Amenábar, Kate Micucci, Jack Antonoff, Paul Mercurio, Angus Young, Barney Frank, and the late René Descartes, Nagisa Ôshima, Richard Kiley, Patrick Magee, Cesar Chavez, Eddie Quillan, Robert Stevenson, Dermot Morgan, Henry Morgan, and Ted Post, who would be 100. Brandon Lee died 25 years ago in 1993 at age 28.

On this date- March 30

Today Maurice LaMarche is 60, and Céline Dion is 50. Today is also the birthday of Warren Beatty, Eric Clapton, John Astin, Paul Reiser, Robbie Coltrane, Kenneth Welsh, Peter Marshall, Katy Mixon, Ian Ziering, Juliet Landau, M.C. Hammer, Norah Jones, Tracy Chapman, Michael Lehmann, Mark Consuelos, Bill Corbett, Piers Morgan, and the late Vincent van Gogh, Francisco Goya, Herbert Anderson, Richard Dysart, Anna Q. Nilsson, Anna Sewell, Sydney Chaplin, Jean-Claude Brialy, Shirley Stoler, and Ray McAnally. James Cagney died 32 years ago in 1986 at age 86. Michael Jeter died 15 years ago in 2003 at age 50.

Review- The Young Karl Marx (2017)

The Young Karl Marx (2017)
4/5 stars

Directed by Raoul Peck. Starring August Diehl, Stefan Konarske, Vicky Krieps, Olivier Gourmet, and Hannah Steele.

Raoul Peck, director of the 2016 documentary I Am Not Your Negro about James Baldwin, has made another film about a monumental political writer who altered the way people thought about their time and society, this new one in the form of a bio-pic, set a century earlier, and all across Europe. The Young Karl Marx is a richly crafted period piece about the revolutionary German economic and political thinker Karl Marx, which Peck wisely mounted as an intimate historical drama and character study about the man and his friends, family, and detractors and their radical ideas and convictions that have been debated ever since they were written.

The film begins in the 1840s with, as the film promises, the young Karl Marx (August Diehl), befriending a fellow writer, Friedrich Engels (Stefan Konarske), a man who was stuck between two opposing worlds that helped shape his worldview and politics. His father was a fierce factory owner and businessman who is shown early in the film worrying about what his young factory workers’ losing fingers will do to his bottom line. While Engels comes from a wealthy background, he writes about the plights and struggles of those very workers, especially the downtrodden foreigners like his Irish wife Mary Burns (Hannah Steele). He wants to understand the working and lower class citizens and how they live, or how they barely do. Although he dresses as dapper as a man of the time can and comes from upon high, he goes down the alleyways and into the backrooms of Germany to see what makes his father’s factory and society function. From the beginning of the film Marx is portrayed as a man of principle and strong political ideals, which puts him at odds with the bourgeois society surrounding him and makes him and Engels allies right away. Marx’s mind is over flowing with ideas, which also made it hard for him to finish a paper or book, putting emotional and financial stress on his family. His wife, Jenny, played by Vicky Krieps, who was so transcendent as Daniel Day-Lewis’s muse in Phantom Thread, is a loving and supportive wife but a strong woman who does not linger in the shadows of history.

The women and the relationship between the male leads are what make the film as compelling and human as it is. Peck makes the costumes and sets feel lived-in and real, not stuffy PBS recreations of history. The film certainly deals with the political turmoil of the time, but the human interactions are what sell the characters and situations. Because the famous people are indeed young, part of the charm of the film is seeing stuffy black-and-white historical figures dusted off and trotted across bustling mid-19th century Europe. Like most people throughout history and up to the modern day, they were thinner in their twenties. Karl does not have the massive grey bush of hair sprouting from his face and head. When Karl and Jenny make love, it is tactile and sensual and in the moment, but there is a childish desire to point out that this is Karl Marx boning. He runs away from the police (in a humorous chase that is oddly reminiscent of Raising Arizona). He even vomits! These characters are human beings, not wax figures barely animated. The film’s production design and costumes are exquisite, but the real test of the craft is that while watching the film it does not feel like a posh recreation. The sweat on the brow and the dirt on the roads are palpable. The actors add a great deal to that illusion. Like with the best Shakespeare adaptations or any literature from years ago, the actors have to make the setting and dialogue immediate and real. The funny beards and tall hats and antiquated buildings have to drift away enough for the drama to spark. Those period elements are vital, but they have to aid the performances, not entomb the actors in the past.

Besides making the well-known figures human, Peck makes the film work as entertainment by striking the right balance of making the politics and theories understandable for a receptive audience but not dumbing them down or lecturing. A dilemma in making films with complex historical facts or political content is to summarize and dramatize the information in a way that does not leave the audience confused while also not having the characters deliver pat and condescending dialogue that they would never say in reality. Because the film is focused on a few years early in their lives, the relationships and ideas are in their early stages. This is Muppet Babies for the fathers of Communism. Many scenes consist of men standing in a room debating the tenets of the movement, but it remains gripping because of the personal details and relationships built throughout the film. Peck also does something that absorbing art based on true events does: he takes issues or events that the viewer may have little or no interest in or knowledge of and makes it riveting. What they are talking about may be uninteresting to some, but their passion and dedication are so compelling that it engages the casual viewer. It does not matter if one cares about the subject; one cares because of how much the characters care.

A few times it feels like a “Big Important Moment” is happening in history rather than the real life delicately rendered throughout the film. Every time they discuss what the title of their new work should be, one almost mouths, “The Communist Manifesto” in anticipation. The film also opens with an attack on some poor people “stealing” wood in a forest, hitting the audience over the head, stating too emphatically that this is not just an intellectual debate…this is people’s lives. Peck should be applauded for maintaining a reasonable approach through most of the film. One does not have to agree with Karl Marx or his beliefs to find the film worthy, just like with Steven Soderbergh’s Che Guevara bio-pic Che. It is a political film that always remains human and intelligent without being ponderous or dull.

On this date- March 29

Today Eric Idle and Vangelis are 75, Bud Cort is 70, Victor Salva is 60, and Lucy Lawless is 50. Today is also the birthday of Brendan Gleeson, Amy Sedaris, Marina Sirtis, Michael Winterbottom, Michel Hazanavicius, Annabella Sciorra, Christopher Lambert, Scott Wilson, Godfrey Reggio, and the late Pearl Bailey and Sam Walton, who would both be 100, Arthur O’Connell, Jackie Vernon, Dennis O’Keefe, Warner Baxter, Bobby ‘Wheezer’ Hutchins, Onslow Stevens, John McLaughlin, and John Tyler. Harry Ritz from the Ritz Brothers died 31 years ago in 1986 at age 78. Paul Henreid died 26 years ago in 1992 at age 84. Mitch Hedberg died 13 years ago in 2005 at age 37. Patty Duke died two years ago in 2016 at age 69.

Living Directors Whose Films I Would Definitely See or Most Likely See in Theaters

Living directors whose new film I would see no matter what, even if they remade City Lights, my favorite film of all time, with Kanye West and Kim Kardashian.
Woody Allen
Pedro Almodóvar
Paul Thomas Anderson
Wes Anderson
Dario Argento
Darren Aronofsky
Noah Baumbach
Kathryn Bigelow
Joon-ho Bong
Albert Brooks
Mel Brooks
Charles Burnett
Tim Burton
Louis C.K.
Jane Campion
Leos Carax
John Carpenter
Nuri Bilge Ceylan
The Coen Brothers (Ethan and Joel)
Francis Ford Coppola
Sofia Coppola
David Cronenberg
Alfonso Cuarón
The Dardenne Brothers (Jean-Pierre and Luc)
Terence Davies
Brian De Palma
Guillermo del Toro
Claire Denis
Clint Eastwood
David Fincher
William Friedkin
Terry Gilliam
Jonathan Glazer
Jean-Luc Godard
Christopher Guest
Michael Haneke
Todd Haynes
Werner Herzog
Jim Jarmusch
Alejandro Jodorowsky
Charlie Kaufman
Harmony Korine
Yorgos Lanthimos
Chang-dong Lee
Spike Lee
Mike Leigh
Richard Linklater
David Lynch
Guy Maddin
Terrence Malick
Michael Mann
Elaine May
Bennett Miller
Hayao Miyazaki
Errol Morris
Jafar Panahi
Chan-wook Park
Alexander Payne
Roman Polanski
Sam Raimi
Nicolas Winding Refn
Kelly Reichardt
David O. Russell
Martin Scorsese
Ridley Scott
Ulrich Seidl
Steven Soderbergh
Todd Solondz
Steven Spielberg
Whit Stillman
Oliver Stone
Quentin Tarantino
Béla Tarr
Ming-liang Tsai
Gus Van Sant
Paul Verhoeven
Lars von Trier
John Waters
Apichatpong Weerasethakul
Wim Wenders
Frederick Wiseman
Kar Wai Wong
John Woo
Edgar Wright
Andrey Zvyagintsev

Living directors whose new film I would almost certainly see because I usually like their films and/or they almost always make good films, but if they made a film that got horrible reviews, I might not see it.
Ana Lily Amirpour
Roy Andersson
Judd Apatow
Andrea Arnold
Olivier Assayas
Sean Baker
Danny Boyle
Catherine Breillat
Xavier Dolan
Bruno Dumont
Asghar Farhadi
Ricky Gervais
Greta Gerwig
Michel Gondry
James Gray
Paul Greengrass
Luca Guadagnino
Walter Hill
Nicole Holofcener
Hsiao-hsien Hou
James Ivory
Spike Jonze
Aki Kaurismäki
Abdellatif Kechiche
Hirokazu Koreeda
Ang Lee
Ken Loach
David Lowery
David Mamet
Martin McDonagh
Steve McQueen
Michael Moore
Cristian Mungiu
Mira Nair
Jeff Nichols
Gaspar Noé
Christopher Nolan
François Ozon
Alex Ross Perry
Lynne Ramsay
Dee Rees
Benny and Josh Safdie
John Sayles
Paul Schrader
Denis Villeneuve
Lina Wertmüller
Ben Wheatley
S. Craig Zahler
Jia Zhangke
Terry Zwigoff

Every Film I Saw Released in the US in 2009

In theaters
(500) Days of Summer
Anvil! The Story of Anvil
Away We Go
The Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call- New Orleans
The Blind Side
The Brothers Bloom
Capitalism: A Love Story
Cold Souls
The Collector
The Damned United
District 9
Drag Me To Hell
An Education
Fantastic Mr. Fox
The Final Destination
Food, Inc.
Friday the 13th
Funny People
G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra
The Girlfriend Experience
Good Hair
The Hangover
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
The Hurt Locker
I Love You, Man
The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus
The Informant!
Inglourious Basterds
The International
The Invention of Lying
Julie & Julia
The Last House on the Left
Lorna’s Silence
The Men Who Stare at Goats
The Messenger
My Bloody Valentine 3D
Ninja Assassin
Observe and Report
Paranormal Activity
A Perfect Getaway
Pirate Radio
The Princess and the Frog
Public Enemies
Red Cliff
The Road
A Serious Man
Sherlock Holmes
Sin Nombre
A Single Man
Star Trek
State of Play
Summer Hours
Sunshine Cleaning
Two Lovers
Up in the Air
Whatever Works
Where the Wild Things Are
The Young Victoria

Every Film I Saw Released in the US in 2010

In theaters
127 Hours
Alice in Wonderland
The American
Another Year
Barney’s Version
Best Worst Movie
Blue Valentine
Casino Jack and the United States of Money
Countdown to Zero
Cop Out
The Crazies
Date Night
Despicable Me
Dinner for Schmucks
Easy A
Enter the Void
Exit Through the Gift Shop
The Expendables
Fair Game
The Fighter
A Film Unfinished
Four Lions
George A. Romero’s Survival of the Dead
Get Him to the Greek
Get Low
The Ghost Writer
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Green Zone
Harry Brown
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows- Part I
How to Train Your Dragon
The Human Centipede (First Sequence)
I Am Love
I Love You Phillip Morris
The Illusionist
Inside Job
Iron Man 2
Jackass 3D
Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work
The Kids Are All Right
The King’s Speech
The Last Exorcism
Let Me In
Made in Dagenham
Mother and Child
My Soul to Take
Nowhere Boy
The Other Guys
Piranha 3D
Please Give
A Prophet
Rabbit Hole
Ramona and Beezus
Robin Hood
The Runaways
Scott Pilgrim vs. the World
The Secret in Their Eyes
Shutter Island
The Social Network
Solitary Man
The Town
Toy Story 3
Trash Humpers
True Grit
Waiting for ‘Superman’
The Way Back
White Material
Winnebago Man
Winter’s Bone
The Wolfman
You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger
Youth in Revolt

Every Film I Saw Released in the US in 2011

In theaters
13 Assassins
Albert Nobbs
The Artist
Arthur Christmas
Attack the Block
Bill Cunningham New York
Cars 2
Cave of Forgotten Dreams
Certified Copy
City of Life and Death
Crazy, Stupid, Love.
A Dangerous Method
The Descendants
The Double Hour
Everything Must Go
Final Destination 5
The Guard
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part II
Higher Ground
Hobo with a Shotgun
The Human Centipede II (Full Sequence)
I Saw the Devil
The Ides of March
In a Better World
In the Family
Into the Abyss
J. Edgar
Jane Eyre
Like Crazy
Margin Call
Martha Marcy May Marlene
Meek’s Cutoff
Midnight in Paris
The Mill and the Cross
The Muppets
My Week with Marilyn
Of Gods and Men
The Princess of Montpensier
Project Nim
Red State
A Separation
Scream 4
Shut Up Little Man! An Audio Misadventure
The Skin I Live In
Source Code
Super 8
Take Shelter
The Tree of Life
Tucker and Dale vs. Evil
Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives
War Horse
Win Win
Winnie the Pooh
Winter in Wartime
X-Men: First Class

At home