WORD(S) OF THE YEAR..FOR NOW!!

As this year winds down yet has to be completely finished, there has been a number of notes that would sum of what 2022 was all about, either locally, nationally, or world-wide.

One of these note is a word or phrase of the year, based upon a so-called word or phrase that is in English, and used within a North American base. 

In this case, the folks who publish Oxford Dictionaries based in London, England, have summed up the word that could fall into the annals as the word of 2022.

What accounting to Oxford is that word? It’s “Goblin Mode”, as defined as “a type of behavior which is unapologetically self-indulgent, lazy, slovenly, or greedy, typically in a way that rejects social norms or expectations.”

That word, based upon a public vote of some 340,000 that picked that word as the word to ponder upon, winning 93% of the vote.

It supposedly first made its appearance through social media–Twitter in this case back in 2009. It gained popularity this year through a sense of uncertainty from recovering from the pandemic, among other reasons.

Then again, Oxford Dictionaries’ biggest competitor Merriam-Webster based in the USA, chose for their word of the year “gaslighting” as a “psychological manipulation intended to make a person question the validity of their own thoughts”.

That word “gaslighting” didn’t originate from a local utility such as People’s Gas (in Chicago at least), or SoCalGas that supplies natural gas in the Los Angeles region where this writer hangs his hat, but from a c.1938 stage play written by British playwright Patrick Hamilton about a dark tale of a marriage based on deceit and trickery, and a husband committed to driving his wife insane in order to steal from her. (Based upon a description found on Wikipedia) It was made into a feature film released in 1944 directed by George Cukor and starring Charles Boyer, Ingrid Bergman, Joseph Cotten, and Angela Lansbury in her film debut. MGM released this title, so that would mean that it’s a feature one would see on TCM. (Check your local listings on when this will be screened!) It’s also a period film, taking place in the latter years of the 19th century when gaslights were once used to light city streets before electricity came around to replace gas lamps. And the story on how electricity became the norm can be seen in Young Thomas Edison starring Mickey Rooney and released by MGM. It’s also part of TCM’s roster of feature films!

It appeared that both words were placed as words of the year based upon the state of how the public at large was feeling. Granted, there was a lot of anxiety going, ranging from the state of the economy, or mass shootings, the political landscape, the war in the Ukraine, to having one’s favorite media program series leave the video landscape. It was the year of mental health (good and bad), fear of the known and unknown, and not realizing what would happen next, if there was anything that should or should not happen!

Now this writer won’t go into pondering about all of the negative stuff that’s been floating around. What yours truly will do at this point is to write about all of the good that has taken place since January 1st, and will continue into the next year, long after this year of ’22 is set for the history books.

Although fear will always be around in one way or another, we are pleased to note that joy and happiness won’t go away either! That being said, we will end this article on a high note to note that we are glad that things will turn up brighter, and will wish everyone out there a great holiday season, and a toast to the new year of 2023. 

And speaking of gas, the prices for petroleum have been dropping over the last few weeks. And maybe soon, the price of an electric vehicle will become more reasonable. However, the cost for having a 2000 mile extension cord can run up a bit. But that’s a whole other topic as it stands! (Where are those “lol’s one is suppose to place here, hmmm…?)

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BABYLON (Paramount) is an ensemble piece that takes place in Hollywood, USA in the adolescent era of movie making and with those involved.

The movie opens in 1926. Jack Conrad (Brad Pitt) is a rising film star appearing in swashbuckling action films. He has it all from his good looks to his robust acting. Manny Torres plays Diego Calva as a behind the scene man that also is rising toward the top in being an executive at his studio, Kinoscope Pictures. Lukas Haas plays George Munn, a film director that sits behind the camera calling the shots for its cast of actors. Jovan Adepo plays Sidney Palmer, a “negro” trumpet player that starts out in performing the “mood music” on set in the making of silent films so the actors can flow with the scenes. Margot Robbie is Nellie LaRoy, a wannabe starlet that desires to become the next “It” girl. Li Jun Li plays Lady Fay Zhu, a Chinese “Dragon Lady”-type that is silky, sexy, and is ideal for roles that the studio gives her as long as her roles are silky and sexy. And Jean Smart portrays Elinor St. John, a journalist that writes for the movie fan magazines such as Photoplay, Modern Screen, and others that jots down notes reporting on how Hollywood is soaking itself in booze, drugs, and overall decadence.

In the middle 20’s, the movie industry was going through changes. Studio executives were starting to treat this business as a business while the roarin’ 20’s were indeed roarin’, especially with all of the running wild. The movie itself opens at a wild party at a Hollywood mansion located in the isolated area of Bel-Air. This is where the characters gather along with others engaging in wild drinking, doping, and free-for-all sex! These movie types are going through their professional ups and downs. But one major change takes place in the business: The idea that movies can have soundtracks to them, having the actors talk and recite lines with musical are now the next big hit! But as time goes on, Jack and company are entering a new era. They succeed in glory and they fail very hard, enough where’s there is scandal and even death added to the mix. It’s just another part of working hard and playing hard in Tinseltown.

This feature, written and directed by Damien Chazelle, is a tribute to the Old Hollywood that may have existed or not. It shows how the 1920’s were indeed the period where flappers flapped and the men called the shots. It portrays that era into a post-modern stance to it, such as rampant use of sex and drugs. Instead of “rock-n-roll”, the music was hot jazz, especially when performed by the negro bands. The above noted cast fit their bills as described to a “T”! They become absorbed into what they do and surrond themselves by. They exceed into excess, while attemping to figure what it’s all about!

There are a lot of visuals to look at in this feature thanks to Florencia Martin’s Production Design, Art Direction by Ace Eure, Anthony Parrillo, Jason Perrine, and Eric Sundahl, and Set Decoration by Anthony Carlino. And there’s Justin Hurwitz’s haunting music score that features slow balleds and jazzy numbers loaded with percussion. We also can’t forget Linus Sandgren’s cinematography and Mary Zophres’s costuming. Many of these same background people are part of Chazelle’s repertory company as they worked on his other features from Whiplash to La La Land, the latter title that’s a movie about movies that take place in the named city, but leans more toward a subdued level of mood.

Getting back to this feature, it again plays as a tribute to the Hollywood of old, even portraying scenes remenesent in other movies that hold the same stance,. One example of such is when Kinoscope Pictures were attempting to make a “soundie” with Nellie LaRoy, they had trouble with how the mic was placed in the movie scene, giving a nod to a scene in the MGM classic Singin’ In The Rain. In fact, not only that song appears on the soundtrack, so does the SITR movie itself! (Although this writer is trying to avoid “spoiler alerts”, the Diego Calva charactor takes in a screening of that feature as it appears in a movie theater in downtown Los Angeles, long after his career had ended while his own studio left him behind in the celluloid dust!)

Unlike the Hollywood films of yore, this title has a lot of graphic details depicted from sex to violence, including people getting shot and even barfing(!!) There is also a lot of post-modern cussing as well, where people say “What the F*ck?” than “What The Hell?” or something to that effect. Those audio and visuals are present for todays (early 2020’s) audience, rather than for those that churned out the pictures back in the day and the movie audiences that saw them for entertainment and escapism, long before that device called “television” changed all of that!

Oh yes! Also in the cast is Tobey Maguire as James McKay, a man of means what holds financial power, and lives the homosexual lifestyle through his rather alternative interests. His role is a minor one, but his appearance brings itself toward the attention that this film presents.

BABYLON is a big movie in its own way. It’s not an epic production in the Cicil B. DeMille form of making movies. But it shows that the movie industry is one that lots of folks take an interest in trhough its gramor and pain. And it’s moral shows that if one pulls open the streams of tinsel found draping good ol’ Tinseltown, one would only find more tinsel, just like it is in this present day and age. Perhaps the booze and drugs no longer flow freely as it used to, but using the “F” word is alive and kicking! We’re f-ing ready for our close up Mr. DeMille!

BABYLON is rated “R” by the MPA for the for noted scenes of graphic violence, sexual scenes, and cussing! Now playing in select theaters. 

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I WANNA DANCE WITH SOMEBODY (Sony/Tri-Star) is a biographal, or “bio” film of vocalist Whitney Houston, who led the charts in popular music from the 1990’s to her untimely death in 2012.

Naomi Ackie portrays the singer from her humble roots in Orange, New Jersey. She did come from a musical family as her mother Cissy Houston (Tamara Tunie) was a vocalist, performing at a local nightclub. She was also Whitney’s vocal teacher as they were both involved in the church choir. One evening, music producer Chive Davis (Stanley Tucci) comes in to catch a show that was to feature the mother and daughter as a duet. Sure enough, Cissy’s voice gives out, forcing Whitney to start the session as a solo. Clive becomes impressed with her voice and talent, and eventually signs her into a recording contract. Whitney’s father John (Clark Peters) becomes her manager and the one that handles all the finances. Whitney also wanted her close friend Robyn Crawford (Nafessa Williams) to become her companion. However, rumors existed that Robyn’s friendship may be more of an intimate nature as such relationships were rather taboo even in the 1980’s. As Whitney’s career takes off, she becomes close with fellow R&B performer Bobby Brown (Ashton Sanders), where they later marry and become parents with a girl. But with the success within her career, Whitney goes through a phase of substance abuse, leading toward her rise, fall, and possible comeback of this performer, leading toward her tragic demise.

This feature is yet another bio film of a musical talent that gives up toward their rise to fame, only to show that they do hold tragic episodes within their lives that will eventually kill them, though not necessarily directly by their vices. This feature with screenplay written by Anthony McCarten, holds a few cliches that are part of the movie tales based upon a life of an actual entertainer, but still holds to the drama that showcases their rise and fall. Of course, there are scenes with Whitney singing in some of her more profound concerts, most notabily her performance at the 1994 American Music Awards to her rendition of The Star Spangled Banner staring off the Super Bowl. Kasi Lemmons directs this film as one part drama, second part concert feature, and third part rags-to-riches tale.

Although what caused Whitney’s death isn’t depicted, it does suggest a hint toward its start, or its “beginning of the end”. (That last sentence isn’t a spoiler alert per se as Whitney fans already know how she ended her life!) And with that, the depictions of substance use are presented as illusions to her use of such substances. You won’t see her character snort coke or something like that, but one will see her setting up her paraphernalia getting ready for a toke or two (or three!)

For those that may not be familiar with the life and times of Whitney Houston, this feature may give a little insight on how popular and adored she was to her fans. Then again with bio films, there is a bit of creative license added to make this title more entertaining. (After all, it’s a piece of fiction based on fact, not a documentary!) What makes this movie just what it is is the presence of Naomi Ackie as Whitney and character actor Stanley Tucci as Clive Davis. Tucci is a screen player that tends to always play the second lead rather than a top bill. That element is just as well as Tucci is great as the “second banana”. 

This title will be one of many that will be part of the “Gimmie an Oscar” selections that tends to come around at the end of the calendar year. It not be another comic book superhero vehicle, or another sequel/remake/reboot/intellectual property (“IP”) movie that racks in the big bucks, or should rake in those big bucks. Nevertheless, this movie is somewhat original for what it is. It’s for the fans of this vocalist, as well as those that appreciate a movie that tells it how it was–to a point!

This movie is rated “PG-13” for minor cussing and suggestions of drug usage. Now playing in the usual slew of multiplexes nationwide.

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On December 14th, The Library of Congress’ National Film Preservation Board announced the twenty five film titles that will be entered as part of the LOC’s National Film Registry.

Under the guise of the National Film Preservation Act, the LOC chooses twenty five titles that are culturally, historically or aesthetically significant. The films must be at least ten years old at the time of creation or public release, and must be an American production or co-production. Any motion picture can be chosen as long as it meets those guidelines, and do not necessarily have to be a commercial production. (Amateur and home movies can also become selected.) 

Each year, the LOC selects the titles are suggested by the LOC’s film preservation staff, moving image scholars, as well as the general public.

Listed below are the twenty five titles along with its year of release/creation. A “#” in front of the title indicates that it is a non-feature length film. (Short subject, amateur film, etc.) “D” indicates it is a documentary/non-fiction title.

Films Selected for the 2022 National Film Registry
(Listed in its chronological order of creation and/or release)

(D) Mardi Gras Carnival (1898)

(#) Cab Calloway Home Movies (1948-1951)

Cyrano de Bergerac (1950)

Charade (1963)       

(#) Scorpio Rising (1963)

(#) Behind Every Good Man (1967)

(D) Titicut Follies (1967)

(D) Mingus (1968) 

(D) Manzanar (1971)

(D) Betty Tells Her Story (1972)

Super Fly (1972)

(D) Attica (1974)

Carrie (1976)

(D) Union Maids (1976)

(D) Word is Out: Stories of Our Lives (1977)

Bush Mama (1979)

The Ballad of Gregorio Cortez (1982)

(#) Itam Hakim, Hopiit (1984)

Hairspray (1988)

The Little Mermaid (1989)

(D) Tongues Untied (1989)

When Harry Met Sally (1989) 

House Party (1990)

Iron Man (2008)

Pariah (2011)     

For more details on the above titles including titles of other films on the registry as well as how to vote for the 2023 selection, visit the LOC’s National Film Preservation Board web site at http://www.loc.gov/film

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This will be the final edition of Accessibly Live Off-Line for the 2022 calendar year. We’ll be taking a week off, but will return the week of January 2nd, 2023 with Vol. 28-No. 1

On behalf of the staff and management of AccessiblyLiveOffLine.com, we wish everyone out there the best for the season and for the new year.

See you in ’23!!

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