Hollywood on the Potomac

President’s Day

February 16, 2016

President’s Day came early to Washington.  …  one week ago to the day, to be exact.  That’s when Italian President Sergio Mattarella lunched at Georgetown’s Cafe Milano with Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni and Italian Ambassador Claudio Bisogniero.  President Mattarella was in town for a brief meeting with President Obama as part of his week long tour of The United States that included New York and Houston and no stop in Washington escapes the allure of Franco Nuschese’s Cafe Milano.

“It is my pleasure to welcome President Mattarella and his delegation to the Oval Office,” said President Obama when welcoming him to the White House.  “The President has an extraordinarily distinguished career as an academic, as a jurist, as a public servant.  He has the honor of being the first Sicilian to become President of Italy.” This comment, of course, was no doubt the impetus for a Sicilian lunch created by Chef Franco Sangiacomo, not withstanding the fact that Nuschese is also Sicilian.

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Oscar Coundown: 'Spotlight'

February 11, 2016

In the Best Picture category for The 88th Academy Awards 2016 that will take place on Sunday, February 28, today we cover Spotlight. It tells the riveting true story behind the Pulitzer Prize-winning Boston Globe investigation.  “It would rock the city and cause a crisis in one of the world’s oldest and most trusted institutions. When the newspaper’s tenacious “Spotlight” team of reporters delves into allegations of abuse in the Catholic Church, their year-long investigation uncovers a decades-long cover-up at the highest levels of Boston’s religious, legal, and government establishment, touching off a wave of revelations around the world.” IMDb. The film stars Michael Keaton, Mark Ruffalo, Rachel McAdams, Liev Schreiber, John Slattery, Brian d’Arcy James, Billy Crudup and Stanley Tucci.

Here’s the take:  The true story of how the Boston Globe uncovered the massive scandal of child molestation and cover-up within the local Catholic Archdiocese, shaking the entire Catholic Church to its core is directed by Academy Award-nominee Tom McCarthy.  “SPOTLIGHT is a tense investigative dramatic-thriller, tracing the steps to one of the biggest cover-ups in modern times,” according to the filmmakers.  The problem is that the “tense” part doesn’t show up in the flick.  One would expect that a scandal of this magnitude combined with the power of the Catholic Church would have included more cloak and dagger.

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Oscar Countdown: 'Brooklyn'

February 8, 2016

In the Best Picture category for The 88th Academy Awards 2016 that will take place on Sunday, February 28, today we cover Brooklyn.“Based on a novel by Colm Tóibín, Eilis Lacey leaves small town Ireland for a better life in New York, arranged by an Irish priest in Brooklyn. Working in a shop she takes a bookkeeping course and participates in the Irish community. There she meets an Italian, and falls in love. They marry but she wants to see her mother after the death of her sister in Ireland. Returning home she falls into the life of the small town, meets a local guy, but also a nasty neighbour who knows she was married in the US. Written by Barry Mahon.”  IMDb.  The film stars Saoirse Ronan, Emory Cohen, Domhnall Gleeson, Jim Broadbent and Julie Walters.

Here’s the take: Hollywood on the Potomac loves a good love story and this one has all the elements of a good love story – attractive, sensitive actors in a period piece that tugs at the heartstrings.  It is also ripe with reminders for understanding what immigration was and is really like – important timing since immigration laws are under attack worldwide.  Riff with political implications, todays’ immigration problems oft forget the personal trauma of those who leave their families behind looking for a better life and integrating into a foreign culture that leaves them lonely, confused and sad as they try to make their way.

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