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Jim S. ID

        Great  to receive another issue of Movie Views in these trying times. I fully agree with your favorable comments about The Queen's Gambit. But while it has been widely speculated that Tevis based his novel, Gambit...loosely...on the life of Bobby Fischer, that speculation stretches beyond the breaking point.

           The film resembles Fischer only in the sense that Fischer and the Beth Harmon characters both were prodigious chess players. Beyond that nearly all similarities end. Fischer was not an orphan. He was not known to have taken drugs in his early life (or later) whereas Harmon became addicted while confined in an orphanage. Fischer's main mentor was a noted local chess champion of near-master status who Bobby credited with instilling his love of chess. That is a far cry...creatively...from Harmon being mentored by the orphanage janitor depicted in Gambit.

          Of course, both Fischer and Harmon...brilliantly played by Anya Taylor-Joy...were emotionally troubled but that is commonplace in the rarefied atmosphere of world chess champions...a pursuit that absorbs nearly all of the player's waking and often sleeping time.

         Walter Tevis, who much earlier wrote the novel The Hustler, wrote the book which I have not read but which I hear was fairly closely followed by the film. Interestingly, Tevis spent his post-Hustler life denying that "Minnesota Fats" was inspired by the real life New York Fats (Rudolph Wonderone) and that "Fast Eddy" was based on any number of real hustlers who claimed to have inspired the Fast Eddy character.

            Of course, Tevis died long before the production of Gambit and may have denied the Bobby Fischer inspiration only from the grave. But as noted, certain critical aspects of Harmon's life...her orphaned upbringing and childhood exposure to drugs would have to be included in any screenplay that had any intention whatsoever of channeling Bobby Fischer.

          And Tevis' choice of a female as his lead character pretty much seals the deal. No woman...before or after Bobby has ever become the world Chess Champion. The brilliant Judith Polgar of Hungary became rated #8 in the world by FIDE and was the first woman to compete for the World Championship title. She also became a Grandmaster at the age of 15 years, 4 months making her the youngest person to become a Grandmaster...even younger than Bobby. And she is the only woman to have won even a single game against a reigning Number One World champion. Later she went on to defeat no less than 11 current or former World Champions including Karpov, Kasperov and Spassky!!! YOU GO GIRL! Notably, Polgar is married with 2 children and has lead a rather "normal" life...at least as chess champions go.

            We have not gone beyond Episode 4 so any other comments will have to wait a few days.


Pamela S. ID

GREAT, as always!!! Thanks so much Barb and Gary! Sending you both Love and Light and best wishes for a healthy, happy holiday season!


Daniel McN. MA

As always, thank you for sharing your movie views. I'm looking forward to watching a few movies, especially What the constitution means to me. I think it looks great!

Joanna C. AZ

Thank you so much for this.  I know it takes time and energy and Carl and I enjoy reading the reviews. We haven’t been out much due to COVID.  The last movie we saw in a theatre was Knives Out  which I thought was great.


Peg C. Chapala, Mexico

Great reviews!  Have daughter coming to visit sometime in the next 4 months and hopefully she can get me onto Netflix and U-tube.  Meanwhile ... I'll just stay un-entertained!


Russell W. CA

(Re: Gary’s review of Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom): Brilliant review with which I concur wholeheartedly. Thanks for sending it along. I keep thinking about the film... Viola Davis brought out so much grit and sadness and strength. Like Chadwick's their characters had a near impossible task of maintaining their pride in their inhumanly racist setting.


Denny G. FL

Almost time for a new issue?  Wow - this month has really flown by!  Wishing you the Happiest of Holidays, and I checked out a few movies:

          Happiest Season:  As the movie opened, I was afraid it might be corny like some of those "made for TV" movies, but it wasn't at all!  I enjoyed this very much - a feel good movie with a good cast.  That Dan Levy is terrific, isn't he?  I haven't watched his series, but understand he won an Emmy this year.  

         Marriage Story:  Very, very good, and a movie that made you connect with the characters and care what they were feeling/going through.  I'd say you summed this up very well.

        Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile:  So this comes up on the Netflix screen, and I was really curious.  It's another film about Ted Bundy (basically an account from an old girlfriend).  While I thought Zac Efron was very effective, the movie was kind of disappointing.  It's hard to explain, but I wasn't sure what or where the focus of the movie was, or what was trying to be accomplished.  It was OK, but that's about it.


Art S. IN--Reviews

Saw Hillbilly Elegy on Netflix recently.  It is based on J.D. Vance's best-selling memoir. Directed by Ron Howard, it has a large and very good diverse cast, including Glenn Close, Amy Adams, and then some actors I didn't recognize, such as Gabriel Basso, Owen Asztalos, and Freda Pinto.  All the actors took their roles well.  I thought maybe Amy Adams was miscast, though.  Close has some of the best lines and makes the most of them, and with her looks and padding and accent, she will be up for some awards.  I also noticed that there were a lot of women in technical roles, especially cinematography, casting, and then the usual costume and set design, etc., which is true in most of Howard's movies. The action takes place in Ohio and Kentucky, mainly, but it was filmed in Macon, GA.  I've been to Macon, GA and it couldn't have been a better site for the story.  I find this film difficult to review, maybe because I had such high expectations for the movie.  It was inspired by a true story--but it kept going back and forth from the present time to earlier times in three generations--not much dialogue in some of the flashback scenes, which were full of poverty and violence, with drug addiction also added in.  There was very close attention to details, especially one scene at a Yale Law School dinner that seemed a little too long and wasn't too believable (involving which silverware to use at a formal dinner.)  Maybe the scene would have worked much earlier in the life of the main character. It was two hours long as it was, so some explanation in earlier scenes would have added even more time.  Overall, it was very moving, especially in key scenes of confrontation with Close and the two actors who played the main character at different ages in his life.  I guess I thought it jumped around too much, from one time period to another.  The movie ended with not all the stories neatly tied up, but then when the credits rolled, it showed the actual people and told a little bit about their lives now.  It was worth watching but I wouldn't rank it as one of Howard's best movies; however, it was one of Close's best roles, and she made the most of it.