All posts by Paul Stroessner

The Karate Kid in Theaters Today

One of the most anticipate movies of the summer comes out today – The Karate Kid. It stars Ralph Macchio, who was last seen in the awesome movie The Outsiders. In this movie, Macchio plays Daniel LaRusso, an Italian boy who just moved from New Jersey to California with his mother (Randee Heller). He has a difficult time adjusting to California life. But things appear to get better when he meets a high chool cheerleader, Ali Mills (Elisabeth Shue in one of her first movie roles, may have a good career ahead of her). But as it turns out, her ex-boyfriend Johnny Lawrence (William Zabka), is the best karate student at the Cobra Kai training school. Daniel gets bullied by Johnny and his fellow hoodlum students. After one of his beatings, Daniel is rescued by Mr. Miyagi (Pat Morita – best know as Arnold from Happy Days), as Mr. Miyagi defeats all five Cobra Kai easily. Daniel asks Miyagi to be his teacher. Miyagi refuses, but agrees to go with Daniel to the Cobra Kai dojo in order to resolve the conflict. They confront the sensei, John Kreese (Martin Kove), an ex-Special Forces Vietnam Veteran who sneers at the concepts of mercy and restraint.
Kreese and Miyagi agree to a match between Johnny and Daniel in two months’ time at the All Valley Karate Tournament.

Mr. Miyagi becomes Daniel’s teacher and a father figure. He begins Daniel’s training by having him perform laborious chores such as waxing cars, sanding a wooden floor, painting a fence, and refinishing Miyagi’s house.

Daniel becomes frustrated because he wants to learn how to fight. After a while Daniel becomes angry with Mr. Miyagi, then Miyagi throws several punches at Daniel. But, much to his own surprise Daniel is able to block all of the moves without think about it. By doing such particular chores as painting a fence, sanding a floor, and waxing a car (“Wax on. Wax off.”), he was really learning defensive moves.

As their bond grows, Daniel learns that Mr. Miyagi’s wife had died giving childbirth. So the loss of Daniel’s father, and the loss of Mr. Miyagi’s family strengthened their father-son relationship.

Daniel does well in the tournament, and comes face-to-face in the finals with Johnny. I don’t want to spill any spoilers about who won the match. But, I will say that a “Crane Kick” stance plays a factor.
I give this movie an A.

Here is the movie trailer:

A-Team in Theaters Today

Here is the movie review from Entertainment Weekly:

Reviewed by Owen Gleiberman | Jun 10, 2010

The A-Team, a testosterone-on-steroids big-screen blow-up of the popular schlock commando TV series of the mid-1980s, was not — repeat, not — produced by Jerry Bruckheimer. Yet the picture might almost have been designed to make the Bruckheim-meister jealous. It’s arguable that he has never produced a movie that’s this jam-packed with bluster and noise, hurtling metal, preposterous hair-breadth escapes, eyeball-filling explosions, snark-under-pressure one-liners, and so-gung-ho-it’s-almost-nostalgic American ass-kickery.

The movie introduces its characters with witty comic-book touches, like slow-mo shots that reveal how the Mohawked B.A. Baracus (Quinton ”Rampage” Jackson) has ”Pity” and ”Fool” tattooed on his fists (he never actually says the words). For the next two hours, The A-Team rockets forward on little bits like that. The director, the cheerfully shameless and undeniably talented Joe Carnahan (Smokin’ Aces), works hard for the money. One of Carnahan’s favorite tricks is to stage an elaborate chain reaction of an action sequence, the sort of thing that would have been a major piece of overkill in a movie like Con Air, and treat it as just one more casual movie moment — another sandwiched-in, throwaway thrill in a film that’s addicted to them. When Col. Hannibal Smith (Liam Neeson), the jaunty, cigar-chomping leader of the A-Team, plots out an operation to recapture a collection of top-secret American-currency printing plates that have been smuggled out of Iraq, the movie cross-cuts between two things: his explanation of the plan, complete with little models on a game board, and the actual carrying out of it — a speeding-truck chase sequence full of perfectly timed wisecracks and firepower. That overlap between planning and execution lends the sequence a breathless, leaping-forward quality, and that’s what the whole movie has. That’s the fun of The A-Team, and its limitation, too. The movie is such a relentless action windup toy that it’s never about anything but its own high-megaton ingenuity.

On TV, The A-Team was like The Dirty Dozen made prime-time clean, and the movie preserves that basic hero/outlaw go-USA wholesomeness, but crazies it up a little. The team itself, a squad of U.S. Army special-ops soldiers who are found guilty of a crime they didn’t commit and carry on anyway as good-guy renegades, are entirely one-dimensional characters, but they still pop on screen. Liam Neeson has reinvented himself as an action star, and he’s a natural at it: loose, funny, and physically imperious, a middle-aged bruiser who always looks like he’s enjoying himself immensely. Bradley Cooper, as Face, the group’s hotshot and lothario, has some fast, funny lines (as when he impersonates a British reporter to filch a TV babe’s ID card), but he grins so smugly that he looks like he’s just seen the grosses of The Hangover. Quinton Jackson, as B.A., is stuck updating an iconic yet anachronistic character (Mr. T played him like an angry action figure), and he’s a little innocuous, if likably quick. Sharlto Copley, the star of District 9, completes the quartet as the manic, meshugana Murdock; he’s like the missing unhinged Wilson brother, and very amusing when he impersonates Mel Gibson in Braveheart or breaks into perfect Swahili to talk his way past a customs gate.

The team tangles with a whole welter of antagonists and authority figures: Patrick Wilson as a CIA stooge; Jessica Biel as a frowning Defense Department officer who’s still in love with Face, her former flame; the excellent Brian Bloom as a mercenary gone very, very bad. The movie itself just keeps whizzing by — it’s entertainment on hyperdrive. Carnahan is obsessed with action logistics: dogfights and fistfights, last-minute rescues by missile attack, bullets fired through skyscraper windows at the exact right moment, the insane image of a tank plummeting to earth while dangling from a parachute. At times, it can all grow wearying, but Carnahan works in a way that’s much lighter than, say, Tony Scott. He really does see blowing stuff up as the ultimate extension of playing with toys. After all its tossed-off climaxes, The A-Team finally finishes with a real climax in which piles of colorful train cars get blown up as a ”diversionary” activity. But who’s kidding whom? The whole movie is a diversionary activity. It’s trash so compacted it glows. B+

That is a really good rating. Click here to see the movie trailer.

Mr. T beats up on the new A-Team movie

After seeing a preview of the A-Team movie, Mr. T says that he’s shocked with how graphic it is. This may not be good news for the film, which opens this weekend.
Mr. T said, “People die in the film and there’s plenty of sex but when we did it, no one got hurt and it was all played for fun and family entertainment. These seem to be elements nobody is interested in anymore.”

“It was too graphic for me. I’ve no doubt it will do big business at the box office but it’s nothing like the show we turned out every week.”

Mr. T is a born-again Christian, and he represents good values, and has been a good influence on children. So, it’s not really surprising that he is bashing the movie. He did say that the movie will “do big business at the box office” but admitted that it was just too graphic for him.

The commercials that I have seen do seem more graphic than the television show. The movie just seems to be aiming to an older audience than the television show. This is not surprising either, since the people who watched the show when it aired are older.

The television show had a lot of action and explosions, but I don’t ever remember anybody being killed, or even hit by a bullet for that matter. So, it was unrealistic, but it was a lot of fun. It was one of my favorite shows growing up. I’ll hold my verdict on the movie until I see it, if I see it.

Belinda Carlisle interview on “The Joy Behar Show”

Last Thursday, June 3, Belinda Carlisle appeared on The Joy Behar Show, which is on CNN’s channel HLN. Belinda is out promoting her memoir “Lips Unsealed”. In her interview with Behar, Carlisle talks about being physically and mentally abused has a child by her stepfather. She also talks about her 30 year addiction to cocaine, and she talks about her husband, Morgan Mason.

Here is the interview:

Gary Coleman Update

Two days before Gary Coleman died, he suffered a head injury from a fall, and his “wife”, Shannon Price made a 911 call, which has been released. In the call Price said she’s not sure whether Coleman had a seizure or whether he hit his head and fell. She said he had just gotten home and was going downstairs to make some food for her and that she then heard a “big bang.”

“Send someone quick because I don’t know if he’s like gonna be alive cause there’s a lot of blood on the floor,” Price said “I don’t even know what happened. …I looked at the back of his head and it’s all bloody and gross,” Price said, later reporting to the dispatcher, “He’s conscious but he’s not, like, with it.”

Santaquin Police Chief Dennis Hammond has said Coleman had a dialysis treatment on the day of the 911 call. It’s unclear whether that may have been related to Coleman’s fall. The dispatcher asks Price to get a towel for Coleman to apply pressure to the back of his head.

“I’m just panicked I don’t know what to do,” Price said. “When are they (emergency services) going to be here, do you know?”

Coleman was conscious at the hospital that day but slipped into unconsciousness Thursday and was taken off life support Friday.

Then it was learned that Coleman and Price were actually divorced in 2008. So there was controversy as to the legality of Price’s decision to remove Coleman from life support. But the hospital said, “Mr. Coleman had completed an Advanced Health Care Directive that granted Shannon Price permission to make medical decisions on his behalf if he was unable to do so.”

However, controversy does not end! Now Gary Coleman’s parents, Sue and Willie Coleman, are saying that they are the legal custodians of his body because Coleman was divorced from his wife. His parents have said they learned about his hospitalization and death from media reports and that they had wanted to reconcile with their son before his death.

In 1989, when Gary Coleman was 21, his mother filed a court request trying to gain control of her son’s $6 million fortune, saying he was incapable of handling his affairs. The move “obviously stems from her frustration at not being able to control my life,” he said.

But former “Diff’rent Strokes” co-star, Todd Bridges is speaking out about a secret will that Coleman had. He told “Entertainment Tonight” that he is in possession of a document containing his old friend’s final wishes.

“[A friend of mine and I] have paperwork, and we’ll bring it out soon, that will show what his wishes were and what he wanted,” Bridges said. “There’s a big fight going on with his parents and some other people involved, and after we bring this paperwork out, everybody’s going to shut up.”

This is so sad, but it should not be surprising that there would be so much controversy after Gary Coleman’s death.

June 4, 1989: Tiananmen Square massacre takes place

The following article from the History Channel:

Chinese troops storm through Tiananmen Square in the center of Beijing, killing and arresting thousands of pro-democracy protesters. The brutal Chinese government assault on the protesters shocked the West and brought denunciations and sanctions from the United States.

In May 1989, nearly a million Chinese, mostly young students, crowded into central Beijing to protest for greater democracy and call for the resignations of Chinese Communist Party leaders deemed too repressive. For nearly three weeks, the protesters kept up daily vigils, and marched and chanted. Western reporters captured much of the drama for television and newspaper audiences in the United States and Europe. On June 4, 1989, however, Chinese troops and security police stormed through Tiananmen Square, firing indiscriminately into the crowds of protesters. Turmoil ensued, as tens of thousands of the young students tried to escape the rampaging Chinese forces. Other protesters fought back, stoning the attacking troops and overturning and setting fire to military vehicles. Reporters and Western diplomats on the scene estimated that at least 300, and perhaps thousands, of the protesters had been killed and as many as 10,000 were arrested.

The savagery of the Chinese government’s attack shocked both its allies and Cold War enemies. Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev declared that he was saddened by the events in China. He said he hoped that the government would adopt his own domestic reform program and begin to democratize the Chinese political system. In the United States, editorialists and members of Congress denounced the Tiananmen Square massacre and pressed for President George Bush to punish the Chinese government. A little more than three weeks later, the U.S. Congress voted to impose economic sanctions against the People’s Republic of China in response to the brutal violation of human rights.

R.I.P. Rue McClanahan: February 21, 1934 – June 3, 2010

This has been a horrible year for ’80s stars. Golden Girls star, Rue McClanahan has died at the age of 76. She passed away at 1 AM this morning from a massive stroke.

Rue McClanahan was born Eddi-Rue McClanahan in Healdton, Oklahoma. She began acting on Off-Broadway in New York City in 1957, and made it to Broadway in 1969.

She got her television break when she played Maude’s (Bea Arthur) best friend, Vivian Harmon in the show Maude, which aired from 1972-1978.
In 1983-1984 McClanahan played Fran Harper, who was Thelma’s (or Mama’s) younger uptight sister.
Then she played her most popular character, the man crazy Blanche Devereaux on The Golden Girls from 1985 until 1992 and in The Golden Palace for one year after. Devereaux was the owner of a house which was lived in by three other roommates: Dorothy Zbornak (Bea Arthur), Rose Nylund (Betty White), and Sophia Petrillo (Estelle Getty). She received an Emmy Award in 1987 for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series for her work on The Golden Girls. When speaking about her character, she said that Blanche, “is in love with life and she loves men. I think she has an attitude toward women that’s competitive. She is friends with Dorothy and Rose, but if she has enough provocation she becomes competitive with them. I think basically she’s insecure. It’s the other side of the Don Juan syndrome.”

McClanahan was diagnosed with breast cancer in June 1997, from which she completely recovered.

On November 14, 2009, she was to be honored for her lifetime achievements at an event “Golden: A Gala Tribute To Rue McClanahan” at the Castro Theatre in San Francisco, California. The event was postponed due to McClanahan’s hospitalization. She had triple bypass surgery on November 4. It was announced on January 14, 2010, by Entertainment Tonight that while recovering from surgery she had suffered a minor stroke. In March 2010, Betty White reported on The Ellen DeGeneres Show that McClanahan was doing well and that her speech had returned to normal.

McClanahan was married six times: Tom Bish, with whom she had a son, Mark Bish; actor Norman Hartweg; Peter D’Maio; Gus Fisher; and Tom Keel. She married husband Morrow Wilson on Christmas Day in 1997.

She called her 2007 memoir “My First Five Husbands … And the Ones Who Got Away.”

With Rue McClanahan’s death, Betty White is the last remaining “Golden Girl”

Here is a Blanche tribute video:

Ronald Reagan Quote of the Week – 5/31/10

Instead of a one or two line quote this week, I will show President Reagan’s “Prayer for Peace“, which was given on Memorial Day, May 30, 1988:

Once each May, amid the quiet hills and rolling lanes and breeze-brushed trees of Arlington National Cemetery, far above the majestic Potomac and the monuments and memorials of our Nation’s Capital just beyond, the graves of America’s military dead are decorated with the beautiful flag that in life these brave souls followed and loved. This scene is repeated across our land and around the world, wherever our defenders rest. Let us hold it our sacred duty and our inestimable privilege on this day to decorate these graves ourselves-with a fervent prayer and a pledge of true allegiance to the cause of liberty, peace, and country for which America’s own have ever served and sacrificed.

During our observance of Memorial Day this year we have fresh reason to call to mind the service and sacrifices of the members of our merchant marine during World War II—these gallant seafarers have now deservedly received veteran status. More than 6,000 of them gave their lives in the dangerous and vital duty of transporting materiel to our forces around the globe. We will never forget them as we honor our war dead.

Our pledge and our prayer this day are those of free men and free women who know that all we hold dear must constantly be built up, fostered, revered, and guarded vigilantly from those in every age who seek its destruction. We know, as have our Nation’s defenders down through the years, that there can never be peace without its essential elements of liberty, justice, and independence.

Those true and only building blocks of peace were the lone and lasting cause and hope and prayer that lighted the way of those whom we honor and remember this Memorial Day. To keep faith with our hallowed dead, let us be sure, and very sure, today and every day of our lives, that we keep their cause, their hope, their prayer, forever our country’s own.

In recognition of those brave Americans to whom we pay tribute today, the Congress, by joint resolution approved May 11, 1950 (64 Stat. 158), has requested the President to issue a proclamation calling upon the people of the United States to observe each Memorial Day as a day of prayer for permanent peace and designating a period when the people of the United States might unite in prayer.

Now, Therefore, I, Ronald Reagan, President of the United States of America, do hereby designate Memorial Day, Monday, May 30, 1988, as a day of prayer for permanent peace, and I designate the hour beginning in each locality at eleven o’clock in the morning of that day as a time to unite in prayer. I urge the press, radio, television, and all other information media to cooperate in this observance.

I also direct all appropriate Federal officials and request the Governors of the several States and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and the appropriate officials of all units of government, to direct that the flag be flown at half-staff until noon during this Memorial Day on all buildings, grounds, and naval vessels throughout the United States and in all areas under its jurisdiction and control, and I request the people of the United States to display the flag at half-staff from their homes on this day for the customary forenoon period.

In Witness Whereof, I have hereunto set my hand this twentieth day of May, in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and eighty-eight, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and twelfth.

R.I.P. Gary Coleman: February 8, 1968 – May 28, 2010

Gary Coleman died today of a brain hemorrhage at Utah Valley Regional Medical Center in Utah. He was 42.

The following was reported by CNN:

“We are very sad to have to report Mr. Gary Coleman has passed away,” his spokesman, John Alcantar, said in a statement Friday afternoon. “He was removed from life support; soon thereafter, he passed quickly and peacefully. By Gary’s bedside were his wife and other close family members.”

Coleman was born on February 8, 1968, and raised in Zion, Illinois, near Chicago. He was adopted as an infant by Willie Coleman, a representative for a pharmaceutical company, and Sue Coleman, a nurse. By age 5, Coleman was modeling for retailer Montgomery Ward, a job that was followed by appearances in commercials for McDonald’s and Hallmark, according to a 1979 profile in People magazine.

Coleman was cast in the role of Arnold Jackson on Diff’rent Strokes from 1978 to 1986, portraying a child adopted by a wealthy widower.

Coleman became the icon of the show, most known by his character’s catchphrase “What’choo talkin’ ’bout, Willis?” At the height of his fame on Diff’rent Strokes, he earned as much as $100,000 per episode. It is estimated he was left with a quarter of the original amount after paying his parents, advisers, lawyers, and taxes. He later successfully sued his parents and his ex-advisers for misappropriation of his finances and was awarded $1.3 million. But then he had to file for bankruptcy six years later.

Coleman lives 55 miles south of Salt Lake City in Santaquin, and has lived in Utah since 2005. He went there to star in the movie Church Ball. He met Shannon Price on the movie set and married her in 2007.

Coleman has had a lot of financial and legal issues, as well as ill health. Most of his health issues stem from a kidney disease he suffered as a child, and has had at least 2 kidney transplants and has ongoing dialysis. Last fall, Coleman had heart surgery that was complicated by pneumonia.

In February, Coleman pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor criminal mischief charge related to an April 2009 domestic violence incident at his home.

I will do a tribute for Gary within the next week. But in the meantime, this is how I prefer to remember him: