What is Eurovision?

Posted on June 25, 2020 at 8:00 am

Copyright Eurovision 2020
This week’s new comedy release on Netflix: “Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga” faces a real challenge: it is near-impossible to be wilder, more improbable, or downright crazier than the real thing. Eurovision is like what we call soccer and the rest of the world calls football, Eurovision is a competition that Americans barely notice but is hugely popular in other countries. The real event is canceled this year due to COVID-19, but they’re already preparing for next year.

Eurovision is an annual international song competition, held every year by the European Broadcasting Union since 1956 with participants representing primarily European countries. Each participating country submits an original song to be performed on live television and radio, then casts votes to determine the winner. The costumes are often, to put it mildly, flamboyant.

The most famous winner went on to become one of the biggest recording artists of the 20th century.

And this Canadian singer won when she competed for Switzerland.

Most of the other winners did not go on to international fame but it is a lot of fun to see the range of countries and styles.

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MVP of the Month: Real-Life Heroic Lawyers

Posted on December 16, 2019 at 9:21 am

Copyright Warner Brothers 2019
At awards season, we often get uplifting real-life stories and this year we have three that are about heroic lawyers fighting for justice against almost insurmountable odds. Here they are, with a little background on the real stories.

Mark Ruffalo as Rob Bilott in “Dark Waters

Billot was profiled by the New York Times, which dubbed him DuPont’s Biggest Nightmare. “Rob Bilott was a corporate defense attorney for eight years. Then he took on an environmental suit that would upend his entire career — and expose a brazen, decades-long history of chemical pollution.”

Michael B. Jordan as Bryan Stevenson in “Just Mercy”

Stevenson is a Harvard Law graduate who has spent his career in the town where the man who inspired the most beloved lawyer in movie history, Atticus Finch, practiced law. And like Finch, he defends those who have been unfairly accused and not had adequate access to counsel. He is also the Founder of the stunning Legacy Museum and National Memorial to Peace and Justice, sometimes called the Lynching Museum because of its extraordinary challenge to communities to acknowledge their past.

HBO has a documentary about Stevenson and his Equal Justice Initiative.

Sam Rockwell as Watson Bryant in “Richard Jewell

Clint Eastwood’s “Richard Jewell” is based on the true story of the man who was initially hailed as a hero for discovering a bomb at a concert celebrating the Olympics in Atlanta, Georgia, and then accused of planting it to make himself famous. Watson Bryant was the lawyer who represented him, proving that the FBI and the local and national media were irresponsible to the point of negligence and abuse.

The movie was inspired by a Vanity Fair article called “American Nightmare” by Marie Brenner. Here is what she said about the lawyer who happened on to Jewell because they had briefly worked together:

The simple fact was that Bryant had no qualifications for the job. He had no legal staff except for his assistant, Nadya Light, no contacts in the press, and no history in Washington. He was the opposite of media-savvy; he rarely read the papers and never watched the nightly news, preferring the Discovery Channel’s shows on dog psychology. Now that Richard Jewell was his client, he had entered a zone of worldwide media hysteria fraught with potential peril. Jewell suspected that his pickup truck had been flown in a C-130 transport plane to the F.B.I. unit at Quantico in Virginia, and Bryant worried that his friend would be arrested any minute. Worse, Bryant knew that he had nothing going for him, no levers anywhere. His only asset was his personality; he had the bravado and profane hyperbole of a southern rich boy, but he was in way over his head.

You can see the real Bryant here:

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Hustlers — The Real Story

Posted on September 16, 2019 at 8:00 am

“Hustlers” is based on the real-life story of strippers who drugged men and then stole money by running up charges on their credit and debit cards, figuring (mostly correctly) that the men would be too embarrassed to do anything about it.

TIME Magazine wrote about the real story.  Many of the details of the story are accurately portrayed in the film, though names and some facts have been changed.  After business fell off at the strip clubs following the financial meltdown, the women did sprinkle a concoction of MDMA, ketamine, and cocaine into the men’s drinks. And the police had an informant,, a man who was willing to complain, and a sting operation, which  gave them what they needed to arrest the women.  And the woman who inspired the character played by Constance Wu is writing a book.

 

 

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Tag: The Real Story

Posted on June 11, 2018 at 9:55 am

This is how a lifelong game of tag helps the “tag brothers” literally stay in touch.

The taggers first got national attention in a Wall Street Journal story (though the reporter was a man, not a beautiful blonde as in the movie).

You can read the formal legal agreement signed by the real-life taggers.

The movie inspired by this story opens this Friday, starring Jeremy Renner, Ed Helms, Jake Johnson, Jon Hamm, and Hannibal Burgess.

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The Real Rainbow: “black-ish” Inspiration Dr. Rainbow Edwards Barris on Parenting, Marriage, and What You Don’t See on TV

Posted on May 22, 2018 at 8:00 am

Copyright Kingswell 2018

Last weekend at DC’s first-ever Momference, doctor, mother of six, and inspiration for her namesake character on the hit television series, “black-ish,” Rainbow Edwards-Barris described a conversation she had with one of her sons after he was less than polite to her friend. “I told him to treat a girl like she is treasured and honored and honorable,” she said. “It is important to instill in my boys especially.”  The Momference was a truly inspiring event “designed to Engage, Equip and Empower the melanated, millennial mom.”  I wrote about it for Medium.  Edwards-Barris was one of the highlights and I had a chance to talk to her one-on-one about her new book, written in the voice of the character she inspired, Dr. Rainbow Johnson, portrayed by Tracee Ellis Ross.

Dr. Barris told me that she recently discovered notes she had made nine years ago, long before “black-ish,” with some of her thoughts about parenting, and that helped her begin to think about what she wanted to cover in her wise, funny, and inspiring book. I asked if she ever found herself doing something her mother did that she swore she would never do, and she admitted she had finally resorted to a “Because I said so.” But “I corrected myself. I went back and told him I made a mistake. I said, ‘You’re teaching me as much as I hope I’m teaching you.’” She said that her husband, Kenya Barris, asked how she would feel about a storyline on “black-ish” about the Johnsons having marital problems. “I was very supportive that it show this side of the couple, so people know they’re not alone. No one’s life is perfect. Couples go through tough times but it is not not repairable, not something that can’t be overcome, not something that can’t be a lesson.” The book gives you “the episodes you don’t see on television, and it gives you Rainbow’s perspective.” Both Rainbows.

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