Orenthal James Simpson turns 70

I remember staring at that image in Canton.

In the summer of 2016, when the family went to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, OH, one of the first of the player busts I looked at closely was that of one Orenthal James Simpson. He was one of the greatest players in the game, the first to rush for over 2000 yards in a season while playing in upstate New York’s only NFL team. He was good-looking and affable. He was mediocre at best behind the mic on Monday Night Football, but he was entertaining enough in those Naked Gun movies.

How did THIS guy go so wrong?

This past Oscar season, when I noted that I had seen O.J.: Made in America, more than one person said that they weren’t going to watch it because, they surmised, it would glorify the athlete. It was quite clear that they hadn’t viewed the film at all.

As the Boston Globe noted: “The movie turned out a lot better than expected: Wider, deeper, more thoughtful, and more thought-provoking. Not just a nostalgic rehash of tabloid titillation but a work that viewed the Simpson case through a telephoto lens of race, class, sport, celebrity, and injustice.”

I found the film oddly compelling. There was about 30 minutes in the second segment that didn’t even mention O.J. but talked about the Korean woman who shot a black person. And Rodney King, who was a black man beaten by members of the Los Angeles Police Department, and who, in a foretelling of 21st century events, were caught on camera. And Reginald Denny, the equally unfortunate white truck driver, who was beaten by rioters after those LAPD officers were acquitted.

And I remember staring at that image in Canton, only a month after watching that movie, and I was literally shaking my head, less in disbelief than in sorrow.

Orenthal James Simpson is 70, and in jail, though, I understand, eligible for parole in October 2017 for his part in a robbery.

Academy Awards 2017

“The idea was to redefine a 467-minute documentary as a cinematic experience and to be eligible for the end-of-year awards circuit.”

When the Academy Awards nominations were announced on January 24, I noted what I’d seen, and what I liked the most, and also who/what I thought would win. Link (only the first time) to any movie I saw and reviewed.

Picture

*“Arrival” – I thought it was a nice meditation. It may have peaked too soon, and with no acting nominations, I don’t expect it to win.
*“Fences” – I liked it a lot, with bravado performances. But perhaps it was too stagy.
“Hacksaw Ridge” – I had no real interest in seeing this. It was, per the R rating, “for intense prolonged realistically graphic sequences of war violence including grisly bloody images.”
“Hell or High Water” – I had considered seeing it, but reviews such as “The violence has speed, impact and follow-through — it’s a magnificent rebuke to all the hundreds of cute killings on screen in summer movies” made me wary
*“Hidden Figures” -it is my favorite film of the ones nominated. Maybe not the best, but the one that made me the happiest when I left the theater
*“La La Land” – I do like this movie too, and have defended it
*“Lion” – great first part, OK second part
*“Manchester by the Sea” – fine film, depressing as hell
*“Moonlight” – the best picture nominated
All the Best Picture noms in the first half of the alphabet!
Continue reading “Academy Awards 2017”

TV review- O.J.: Made in America

O.J. Simpson – race be damned – was one of the most popular figures around.

OJ-Made-in-AmericaSeriously, I didn’t know it was going to be on, but came across it flipping through the channels. On the heels of the popular The People v. O.J. Simpson, part of the American Crime Story series on the FX network – which I did not see – comes O.J.: Made in America, a sprawling five-part documentary on the cable sports network ESPN.

Many people know about the bizarre low-speed chase of Simpson’s Ford Bronco, Most are aware of the “trial of the century,” an appellation that may very well be correct. At least in the United States, almost EVERYONE had an opinion about the former football player’s guilt or innocence in the murders of his estranged wife Nicole Brown, and her friend Ronald Goldman.

The most mild-mannered person I have ever known was incensed when Simpson was acquitted of the crimes, as was most of white America. Yet many black Americans literally cheered the verdict. This phenomenon is established fact. What the documentary explains Continue reading “TV review- O.J.: Made in America”