Archives February 2019

OH BEAUTIFUL FOR SPACIOUS SKIES

We’ve lived in the best of times. We should be thankful.

     This is about having a great day this past Sunday, when the patriotic aura among Americans got caught up in the moment, without prompts.

     Yes, gone are the days when we would see all Americans, of all colors, ages, ethnic background, religions and sexual orientations, stand to express their love of country. Yes, we are imperfect and mistakes are made, and individual prejudices exist to be sure, but when comparing the USA to the rest of the planet, I’ll take our freedoms and opportunities before any other nations in the world.

     Retired Medical Examiner, Dr. Jay Barnhart and myself have been entertaining and playing at private clubs, civic organizations, libraries, assisted living facilities and many other private stages for the last twelve years, a couple old-timers with long careers in public service who still like to play with their toys.

    His toy is a piano. Mine is a violin. Our mothers forced us to practice and take lessons when we were kids, and we are forever grateful. We came to call ourselves the Dick-Doc Duo, a former Homicide “Dick” and Medical “Doc.” People love us because they see how much we enjoy music and the smiles from people in the audience.

     The key is to have fun, not being so serious. We may include audiences in our repertoire, often playing requests from the old days, or presenting a myriad of genre, including love songs, Movie themes, Broadways hits, ethnic stuff like Gypsy, French, Spanish, Irish whatever, even a mix of George Gershwin or Stephen Foster. Yes, we can also do classical…in which we never make mistakes (ahem).

     One of our most memorable on-stage moments came last Sunday, February 17, 2019, at the Cocoa Beach Library which was filled to capacity, as it is every year when we’re invited to entertain. It was a particularly good day as this audience was truly engaged. “La Vie en Rose,” asked one lady, who then sobbed when we played that song. “Fiddler on the Roof,” was one request as was “Ashokan Farewell” from the Civil War television series. Many more.

     It was time to finish. We always wrap up with a tribute to our beloved country. After thanking everyone for being there, we embarked on a rendition of “America The Beautiful.” No sooner than the first line was played, and without prompts, every human being in the room rose to their feet and joined in singing the song of America. The moment was so genuine, my hair rose on my arms.

     Yes, we have lived in the best of times.

Here’s a brief cell phone video of that moment (URL):

https://www.facebook.com/marshall.frank.77/videos/10216311342910729/

A FRANK MOVIE REVIEW: "THE WIFE" – 9.0

THE WIFE  – 9.0

In a word:  Compelling

     If you prefer movies with a lot of action, sex, violence, Sci-Fi or political correctness, do not see this movie. This is pure drama with superb acting on the part of the prime stars, Jonathan Pryce and Glenn Close, who already has landed a Golden Globe for her masterful performance, not to mention a number of other awards. And, yes, she’s up for an Oscar as well.

     Set in 1992, Connecticut, the story begins where John Castleman, a famed literary giant, receives a call from Sweden telling him he is being awarded the Nobel Prize for literature. He and wife Joan (Close) are elated and make their way to Stockholm for the grand awards.

     Meanwhile, the director brings us into flashbacks when these two lovebirds first met, wedded and established a harmonious relationship in which the wife helps and guides him through everyday living, more so than we could have imagined. The story expands to the young adult son who has issues with his careless father, and a few dalliances which The Wife is expected to ignore.

     The main plot surrounds a surprising revelation which sends all the main parties into an uproar. While the audience will admire the achievements and skills of the main character (Pryce) we begin to admire his wife more, for reasons I won’t expose in this review. See the movie.

     As deep dramas often go, there are a few slowdowns that would prevent this story from being rated a full 10. But for drama lovers, that did not impede the interest of this story for myself or my wife. This is a first-class lesson for students in film acting school.

     We attended this film as a stand-alone feature in a city outside of Melbourne as it’s still yet to be fully released.

     I give it a 9 out of 10. 

The Wife (2017) – IMDb

A FRANK MOVIE REVIEW: “THE WIFE” – 9.0

THE WIFE  – 9.0

In a word:  Compelling

     If you prefer movies with a lot of action, sex, violence, Sci-Fi or political correctness, do not see this movie. This is pure drama with superb acting on the part of the prime stars, Jonathan Pryce and Glenn Close, who already has landed a Golden Globe for her masterful performance, not to mention a number of other awards. And, yes, she’s up for an Oscar as well.

     Set in 1992, Connecticut, the story begins where John Castleman, a famed literary giant, receives a call from Sweden telling him he is being awarded the Nobel Prize for literature. He and wife Joan (Close) are elated and make their way to Stockholm for the grand awards.

     Meanwhile, the director brings us into flashbacks when these two lovebirds first met, wedded and established a harmonious relationship in which the wife helps and guides him through everyday living, more so than we could have imagined. The story expands to the young adult son who has issues with his careless father, and a few dalliances which The Wife is expected to ignore.

     The main plot surrounds a surprising revelation which sends all the main parties into an uproar. While the audience will admire the achievements and skills of the main character (Pryce) we begin to admire his wife more, for reasons I won’t expose in this review. See the movie.

     As deep dramas often go, there are a few slowdowns that would prevent this story from being rated a full 10. But for drama lovers, that did not impede the interest of this story for myself or my wife. This is a first-class lesson for students in film acting school.

     We attended this film as a stand-alone feature in a city outside of Melbourne as it’s still yet to be fully released.

     I give it a 9 out of 10. 

The Wife (2017) – IMDb

MISSING FROM TRUMP SOTU SPEECH: MENTAL HEALTH. (Op-Ed)

This Op-Ed by yours truly appears in today’s issue of Florida Today.

President Trump’s recent State of the Union address covered a myriad of topics, all vital toward improving life, liberty and happiness in a world rife with poverty, violence, crime, terror and more. Absent from his to-do list was any mention about government’s role in dealing with the epidemic of serious mental illness.

     We blindly turn our backs to this tragic problem as though it doesn’t exist. It doesn’t make a lot of noise. It gets little attention. There are no protesters or demonstrations. The media doesn’t cover the problems nor do bleeding heart groups. Politicians skirt the topic with a minimum of attention because mental health is not a priority and garners no political steam, left or right. Besides, it’s difficult to quantify. It makes no difference to any political base.

     The medical field does their part in numbing psychotic people with prescription medicines, which only works if the patient 1) does not abuse the drugs, 2) does not sell the drugs or 3) fails to take the drugs. But it does not solve and/or cure the illness. It’s a means of getting by.

     But it does impact social, economic and criminal issues from sea to shining sea. Mental illness is not partial or ignorant to any race, creed, gender, or ethnic division. It is omnipresent, behind convenient stores, in the bushes, in emergency rooms and autopsy trays. We, the people, do nothing until a crime is committed and then we relegate sick people to a prison cell for years.

     I could cite statistics galore, but that doesn’t get the message across to where government leaders should prepare to do something about it. For politicians, there is no payoff, especially in votes and power, and certainly not money. For starters, consider these facts cited by The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI):

  1. An average of 20 veterans die by suicide daily, or 720 per year.
  2. Serious mental illness costs America $193.2 billion per year in lost earnings.
  3. Over 20 percent of state prison inmates suffer from serious mental illness.
  4. 3.7 percent of adults in America suffer from schizophrenia or serious bi-polar disorders. If true, that equates to over 10 million adults.
  5. Over half of the 20 million adults who suffer from substance abuse are also mentally ill.

     Florida’s Baker Act intervenes when police are confronted with someone who appears dangerous to himself or others. But that’s just an overnighter to let folks calm down. When people have serious mental issues, a response like that is tantamount to applying band-aids to cancer.

     In the mid-1950s, roughly 558,000 people were confined to psychiatric hospitals in America. That was when our population stood at 165 million. Today, our population has nearly doubled to 328 million but there are less than 40 thousand patients in psychiatric institutions. The numbers are mind-boggling.

    Between U.S. Supreme Court rulings, advances in mood-control drugs and sheer ignorance from national leaders to the obvious, the crisis will only lead to more suicides, homelessness, wrecked families, mass shootings and more, because we refuse to acknowledge the obvious. Never mind the costs to taxpayers in treatment, welfare and prison cells.

     Extremely sick people suffering from serious psychoses do not belong in prisons, the backs of convenience stores and nearby scrublands. They are people who need meaningful treatment, as we would treat someone with a serious physical disease. They need to be protected from themselves. Instead, we wait for crimes to happen, then use jails and prisons as a treatment center for illness.

     I have experience with such matters. I worked 30 years in the streets of Miami-Dade, sixteen of those dealing with major crimes and mental health deficiencies. My own father died in a New York mental hospital in 1941. My son died last month in the back seat of a derelict car from an overdose of two powerful narcotics which a doctor had just prescribed for him.

     He wasn’t just a junkie. He had been dysfunctional his entire life.

     It’s a long, sad story. 

A FRANK MOVIE REVIEW: "COLD PURSUIT" – 4 OUT OF 10

COLD PURSUIT  –  4   (Out of 10)

In a wordAmateurish

     This was supposed to be thriller/revenge story with Liam Neeson at the head of the cast, followed by nothing other than amateurs, poor writing and dumb directing. I’d like to have a dollar for every time I’d groan with a pair rolling eyes. Oh give me a break.

     The setting is in the areas around Denver during the cold winter. Neeson’s grown son, had been abducted and killed by drug cartel people. This incensed Neeson to the point of embarking on a retribution campaign, but not until he was caught trying to blow his own brains out with a shotgun…which was never explained. Never mind that his marriage was over, apparently because the obsessed Neeson could no long communicate on a normal level.

     The story brings in a myriad of characters, including tribal chieftains, organized crime tough guys, oriental women, and a pair of investigative cops that must have come from Keystone. Kidding aside, two local police officers working in a small town outside Denver become the top investigators of things they don’t know what they are investigating. For diversity, they include one young beautiful woman and another old timer who doesn’t want to be bothered. Some of the lines were simply terrible.

     In one out-of-whack scene amid all the criminal and chieftain shooting episodes, two of the bad guys, one young, one older, start swapping spit in order to bring the gay dimension into the story line. It simply did not fit the scene.

     Among the bad guys were three or four guys that almost looked like twins, it was difficult at first to discern one from the other. The top boss, looked like he was cast from a college prep book, because he seemed more like a college senior attending Yale and pretending to be an actor

     From a cop’s perspective and a movie buff perspective, this was a ridiculous effort in forming an action movie.  The only reason it didn’t get a zero is Liam Neeson who was true to himself as a good actor with a bad cast and a worse script.   

     Save your money unless you’re a diehard Liam fan.

     I give this a 4 out of 10.

Cold Pursuit (2019) – IMDb