DGTWS- Weekly Instagram Favorites Nov 19

Gary : November 20, 2019 6:07 am : blog



Luxe Lady Shop


White Runway


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Want The Good Life? Embrace the bad too!

Gary : November 20, 2019 5:21 am : blog


There is an objective difference between (1) knowing something, (2) understanding something, and (3) being able to apply what you know in a real life situation.


I live in Sherman Oaks, California.
I am a tenant in a rented condominium.
I am currently living through a mitigation of water damage situation.
My bedroom carpet became soaked with water flowing in from my bathroom on Veteran’s Day, two walls in my bedroom became saturated with the water that flowed into my bedroom, the drywall on two of the walls in my bedroom became saturated with water and had a moisture content over 17%, and water seeped through the floor of my bathroom and through the floor of my bedroom to the room (a lobby) below.
A water damage company took charge of phase one of mitigation of the above described water damage situation.
My understanding of what the water damage specialist did is as follows: my bedroom carpet was pulled back, the wet carpet padding under the water soaked carpet was removed, portions of two walls in my bedroom were cut out and removed, blowers were turned on, the blowers blew air on the wet carpet and on the wet walls in my bedroom, and either before or after the blowers were turned on a disinfectant was applied to wood members of portions of the walls and to wall structural components.
My insurance carrier STATE FARM told me that my Renter’s Insurance Policy and my STATE FARM Umbrella Insurance policies:
  1. (1) covered the water damage claims made by the Home Owner’s Association and the other residents in the condominium complex,
  2. (2) but probably did not cover the cost to repair or to replace or to dry out the wet carpet owned by my landlord and rented to me and probably did not cover the cost to remove and replace water soaked carpet padding under the water soaked wet carpet,
  3. (3) and that my STATE FARM’s renter’s insurance policy did cover the additional living expense incurred when I relocated to another place to live during construction.


My insurance carrier hired a company to help me find a suitable hotel to relocate to until the rebuilding of my condominium is completed.
The hotel relocation company provided two hotel locations for my consideration:
Hampton Inn & Suites Los Angeles/Sherman Oaks, 5638 Sepulveda Blvd., Sherman Oaks, CA 91411
Best Western Plus Carriage Inn, 5525 Sepulveda Blvd., Sherman Oaks, CA 91411.


The photo above is posted on Instagram with the following copy:
“Immerse yourself in a world of wonderful Russian cuisine and learn more about  caviar the black gold with exclusive classes, led by undisputed caviar and vodka master Alexander Dmitriev.” 
I am informed that the restaurants in the Belmond Hotel in St. Petersburg serve caviar and oysters from the eastern part of Russia that are not available anywhere else.
The Belmond Hotel is very close to the Hermitage Museum – which I intend to visit some day.
MY QUESTION: If I can book a room in the Belmond Hotel in Saint Petersburg Russia at a rate comparable to or less than the charge to rent a decent hotel room/hotel suite at the nearby Hilton Hotel in Woodland Hills, California, would State Farm pay for it?
I am willing to pay the charge for the round trip flight to Saint Petersburg from Los Angeles.


Find the good life.
That is really all it is about.
Everything else is just dust blowing in the wind.
Gary Smolker, Social Commentator and Values Critic
Copyright © 2019 by Gary Smolker, All Rights Reserved
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Citizen K Review- On gangster capitalists and personal being

Gary : October 10, 2019 7:09 pm : blog
CITIZEN K is about the risk rise and fall of gangster capitalism and individual freedom after the collapse of the Soviet Union in Russia.
Mikhail Khodorkovsky was once, before being convicted of #tax #fraud and sent to prison for ten years – belied to be the #wealthiest man in Russia.
The movie presents the argument that Mr. K was tried for tax fraud and found guilty and sent to prison for the CRIME of criticizing Vladimir Putin.
The movie documents what Mr. K did to make money and the history of what Putin did to become the most powerful man in Russia.
Khodorkovsky could have fled and escaped Russia before being accused of committing tax fraud but chose to stay because he thought it would be undignified to leave Russia under such circumstances.
Mr K strongly believes what makes most in life is not a person’s possessions. What matters most in life is a person’s “being.”
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DGTWS Weekly Picks: Sept 28

Gary : September 28, 2019 10:43 pm : blog

Dear legions, your Dude’s Guide shoe guru is finally back with my weekly Instagram shoe picks and a bonus Japanese Proverb:

“The prettiest of shoes makes a sorry hat.”

With that said, here are our picks for Instagram Shoe pics This Week. Both are from Una Shoes Instagram page.


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Just Another Profound Film Review On “My Zoe”

Gary : September 28, 2019 10:33 pm : blog
The writer-director JULIE DELPY of this psycho-drama about a divorced mom is as exciting and unexpectedly fascinating and interesting as the movie she made, MY ZOE.
If you could tap into her energy you could light up a small city.
Before her movie screened at TIFF, she gave a small speech.
She told the audience she makes bold films that take risks, go in a direction that is not expected, that make the audience want to know what will happen next.
She said if you are a writer-Director who doesn’t do that, “You stay in a box and die.”
The movie begins with the main woman character married to an abusive husband. He always finds fault with whatever she does and puts her down.
They are in the process of getting a divorce and seeing a mediator to help them come to a custody agreement.
They both love their daughter ZOE, an adorable athletic healthy pleasant little girl.
There is no greater fear for a parent than losing a child and no greater pain for a parent than a parent losing a child.
As the movie progresses ZOE has an accident….the parents do not know this.
The mother finds ZOE has stopped breathing when she goes to wake ZOE up one morning.
ZOE is rushed by ambulance to the emergency room of a hospital, where it is discovered that she has a concussion putting pressure on her brain – an operation ensues.
After the operation the surgeon tells the parents that ZOE will lose motor function.
ZOE is in a coma. ZOE must stay in the hospital to recuperate.
While ZOE is recuperating something happens, ZOE becomes brain dead.
The husband apologizes to his wife for having been mean to her.
The surgeon asks the parents to donate brain dead ZOE’S organs to sick dying children who desperately need ZOE’S organs.
The mother, a highly skilled immunologist, can not stand the thought of losing ZOE.
She secretly draws fluid from ZOE to be used in a once in a lifetime first time set of surgical procedures to clone ZOE after ZOE dies.
It is illegal and a violation of medical ethics to clone a human being; it has never been done before.
The mother knows of a surgeon whom she thinks/believes could do it.
She goes to see him at his clinic in Russia.
She tried to talk him into doing it.
The audience doesn’t know what will happen next, never knows what will happen next.
The movie is a never ending suspense – audiences who see this movie will be glued to their seats throughout the movie – from the beginning to the end of the movie.
The writer-director doesn’t tell the audience what to think or how to think as the characters each face  one moral/ethical dilemma after another.
This movie is a gigantic criticism of joint child custody – the writer-director shows how joint custody is not in a child’s best interest or in either parent’s best interest even when both parents love the child and want what is best for the child.
I agree with all the choices made by the mother.
Gary Smolker, Movie Reviewer, Values Critic and Trial Lawyer
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Goldfinch And Why You Are Dumb Not To See It. Gary explains.

Gary : September 22, 2019 1:22 am : blog



I saw THE GOLDFINCH on Monday night, September 16, 2019.
Many reviewers think this movie is going to bomb.
One reviewer thinks this movie likely to become one of cinema history’s biggest flops after making only $2.6 million at the US box office on its opening weekend.
Another reviewer, the Wall Street Journal reviewer, thinks it’s the worse movie ever made, at least the part he didn’t sleep through.


While I was watching THE GOLDFINCH I didn’t know what it was about.
At the end of the movie, the person I saw the movie with said, “The characters were better than the story!”
I agreed because I still didn’t know what the story was about or even if there was a story.
After thinking about the movie intently on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday and discussing the movie for about two hours with a very intelligent couple, I concluded the movie does tell a story as it is sending a strong important message.
The important message THE GOLDFINCH sends is knowledge gives you an edge, lack of intellectual flexibility and doubt will get you into trouble because love and expectations of appropriate behavior trump everything.
Accurately and quickly communicating emotions to one another is of critical importance to the human species.
You never know what is going to decide your future.


In the opening scene the main character (a young well dressed man) is in a hotel room in Amsterdam about to commit suicide.
The next scenes are flash backs to a series of events that happened in his life – some just happened and some he caused.
These events lead to him being in that hotel room in the opening scene -ready to give up on life by committing suicide.


In the next scene the young man who was about to commit suicide in the first scene is a small young boy richly and stylishly attired holding his mother’s hand in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in Manhattan.
We can tell from the clothes he is wearing and from the clothes she is wearing that they are wealthy members of high society.
Such attire is expected in many places and situations in Manhattan and you will not be seated in some formal restaurants if you don’t comply.
After a brief dialog with her son, she leaves her son – near a gift shop – to look at a painting in a nearby gallery.
Immediately, or soon after she leaves her son, there is a loud explosion, a bomb explodes.
The screen is filled with bellowing smoke, dense clouds of smoke make the contents of room in which we are looking invisible.
Eventually the boy becomes visible in a thick smoke filled room.  The boy is surrounded by dead bodies.
The young boy begins to search in another smoke filled room for his mother.
He sees an old distinguished looking well dressed man sitting up.
He goes towards the old distinguished looking well dressed man.
The old man points to a painting on the floor in the rubble; he tells the boy to pick up the painting and keep it.
The boy picks the painting up and puts it in a bag.
The man takes a ring off one of his figures and gives his ring to the boy.
He tells the boy to bring the ring to an antique furniture dealer in Manhattan.
He tells the boy to ring a buzzer located in an alley behind the antique store to meet the man to whom he is to show the ring.
The boy is instructed the back door will be opened after the boy pushes a buzzer on a wall in the alley next to the door.
From the clothing the old man is wearing, the ring he gave the young boy, and from the both of them being in the Metropolitan Art Museum we know the old man is a very wealthy, knowledgeable, debonair art aficionado and the young well dressed boy is a member of a wealthy high society family.
The director has played to our expectations of what rich high society people look like.
We believe we know “what” and “who” the young well dressed boy and the old distinguished looking well dressed man are because of what they are wearing.


We learn that from a newspaper article that is shown on the screen that the masterpiece (THE GOLDFINCH) was destroyed in the explosion at the Metropolitan Museum and that the boy whose mother was killed by the bomb exploding in the Metropolitan Museum has been taken in by a high society family.
We see well and expensively-dressed Nicole Kidman talking to the young boy in her home.
We know from that scene that Nicole Kidman is the mother in the high society household who has given refuse to the young boy.
We see that the furniture, furnishings, wall paper, and carpets in that home are elegant.
The collection of furniture and furnishings meets our expectations of what a wealthy high society home will look like.
However, in real life, home-life is not wonderful in that home.
The man of the house, Nicole Kidman’s husband, is a sociopath.


In the next scenes, we are shown the young boy’s adaptive family eating dinner at a formal dinner table.
At the family dinner table the father creates arguments and disputes.
The father is aggressively dominating and verbally abusive.
We see: There was no pleasant conversation at the dinner table.
The dinner table was not a place where soft music was playing, pleasant conversations were taking place, or a place that had the emotionally soothing and pleasantly intoxicating glow of friendship in action.
The family dinner is chaotic experience, not a cozy restful interlude after a full day, not a place where one can find order, predictability and/or orderly pleasant rituals bring practiced.


In a series of succeeding scenes the young boy’s father appears.
He has an imperious manner.
He is wiry and energetic.
He is compelling, a likeable talker.
We have previously been told, the young boy’s father had walked out on his wife (the young boy’s mother) and had abandoned the young boy when the young boy was quite young.
The young boy’s father suddenly walks into Nicole Kidman’s house accompanied with a dazzlingly sexy girlfriend, announces that he is the boy’s father and that he has come to take the boy with him to his home in Las Vegas.
The father tells Nicole Kidman that he is a successful musician who lives and performs in Las Vegas.
I could tell from the clothes the father was wearing and the loudness of his voice that he was not a successful musician.
He is a breezy person who glad-hands people.
His clothes and demeanor are out of nowhere, so out of place, that the suspicious amongst us (myself for example) suspect the young boy’s father is up to no good.
However, in real life we tend to judge a person’s honesty based on their demeanor.
Well-spoken, confident people with a firm handshake who are friendly and engaging are seen as believable.
Some people believe over evolutionary time the face developed into a billboard for the heart. They believe a person’s demeanor is a window into their soul.
That is – to put it mildly – nonsense.
A liar can act like an honest person.
We later find out that the young boy’s father is an emotionally disturbed person.
Looking backward, as we learn more about the father we realize the clothes the young boy’s father wears as the movie progressed – from the moment he appears in the movie throughout the entire time he is on the screen – in hindsight match exactly how we think an emotionally disturbed person would dress.
The clothes the father wears as the movie progresses coherently carries the story forward.


After the young boy’s father appears in the movie, viewers struggle to assess the father’s honesty, his intent, his character.
Viewers ask themselves:
  • Why did the young boy’s father show up out of nowhere?
  • Why has the young boy’s father come out of nowhere to take his young son from a rich stable life in Manhattan to live with him in Las Vegas?
When viewers see where the father lives and how he lives in “his house” in Las Vega – viewers learn one alarming fact after another about the young boy’s father.
Viewers learn the father is a gambling addict who is perennially in debt.
The home the father lives in is located in a large failed housing tract development on the outskirts of Las Vegas —  almost all the the other houses in the failed housing tract are empty. They are boarded up. They have for sale signs posted on them.
They have been foreclosed on; they are boarded up; they are for sale.
Viewers wonder:
  • Is the father a squatter?
  • Does the father own the house he is living in?
  • Does the father, the father’s girlfriend, and the young boy have the right to be living in the house the father is living in?
After the young boy, and his father, and his father’s glitzy sexy girlfriend arrive at the father’s home, the father tells his young son he has made a lot of money and that he wants to put $10,000 in a bank account to be there for his son to use when his son graduates from high school and goes to college.
The young son believes his father.
Next the young boy’s father tells his young son that he [the father] needs his son’s social security number in order to open a savings account for his son
The young son believes his father.
The young boy’s father asks his young son to tell him his social security number.
The young boy gives his father his social security number.
As the story/film progresses, the young boy continues to believe his father, that his father has/had good intentions, until he couldn’t anymore.
When the young boy gave his father his social security number he didn’t suspect anything was amiss.
He had no doubt that everything was okay.
In real life accumulating evidence to overwhelm our doubts takes time.


While living in an almost deserted housing tract on the outskirts of Las Vegas, the young boy strikes up a friendship with another young boy.
The other young boy is a Russian, actually a Ukrainian.
One day the young boy asks his Russian friend where he is from.
The Russian boy gives the young boy the names of many countries, and explains that his father is a mining engineer and that they travel from country to country where his father works in mines.
The Russian also tells the young boy that his father killed a man in a mine recently, and that is why they left that country and came to the United States, where they are now.
As the young boy is leaving his friend’s house one evening, he looks back and sees the Russian father has come home and is vigorously beating his son with a stick.
If you know that many of the horribly violent men in history that were psychopathic murders (such as Adolph Hitler) had abusive fathers you have a foretaste of what is going to happen as the story progresses.
BACK TO THE MOVIE: These two boys appear to be the only two kids living in that huge housing tract.
They go to school together.
ASIDE: It was not clear to me whether they were going to middle school or to high school together.
The story/movie progresses.
One day, the Russian boy visits the young boy’s house.
In the young boy’s house the Russian sees the young boy’s father’s girl-friend very sexually sunning herself in a bikini in the backyard next to a backyard swimming pool.
The Russian boy opens a cabinet in the kitchen. In the cabinet, he finds a clear see through package full of pills with the marking V marked on the package.
The young boy tells his Russian friend that the pills are his father’s girlfriend’s vitamins.
The Russian replies: “No they are Vicodin, a powerful narcotic.”
From that point forward, the Russian friend supplies the young boy with drugs when they hang out together.
Many scenes follow.
In those scenes the two of them (the Russian friend and the young boy) are taking drugs together and getting high together.
One afternoon the boy’s father comes home.
He confronts his son in the kitchen of their home,
  1. “I need $65,000 to purchase a restaurant.”
  2. “Call your mother’s attorney. Tell him you want to go to a private school. You need $65,000 to pay tuition.”
  3. Then he slaps his son in the face.  Then he says, “Do it, now!”
The boy calls a law firm and asks to be talk to his deceased mother’s attorney.
The boy is put through to the attorney.
When his deceased mother’s attorney comes on the line, he tells him he needs $65,000 to pay  tuition to go to a private school.”
The attorney replies,
  1. “Glad you called.  I didn’t know how to get in touch with you.”
  2. “I am not allowed – by the terms of your mother’s trust fund set up for you – to send you money for school tuition directly.”
  3. “Give me contact information for the school, and I will send the money directly to the school.”
  4. “By the way, someone tried to use your social security number to get unauthorized access to your trust funds.”
  5. “Do you know anything about that.”
The boy hangs up the phone without answering.
The father is enraged, silent for a stunned moment.
The story told in the film continues.
An ominous looking man knocks on the door of the home while the father is gone.
The young boy opens the door.  The stranger asks if the boy’s father is home. The boy says, “No.”
The stranger gives the boy his name, then asks the boy to pass along to his father the message that the stranger came to visit him.
During a later scene in the movie, the young boy’s father’s girl friend and a bunch of her friends are shown in the living room crying.
The young boy asks, “What is going on?”
The girl-friend answers, “Your father drove into the desert.”
The young boy responds, “So?”
The girl-friend responds, “Your father will not be returning. He is dead.”
At that point in the movie, the young boy decides he must leave, he must go back to Manhattan to seek refuge with the antique’s dealer’s partner who he had met shortly after the bomb explosion that killed his mother and killed the distinguished gentleman – the distinguished gentleman who gave him a ring and told him to take a picture laying in the rubble to an antique furniture shop.
The young boy packs his things, including the bag that he thinks contains the picture he picked up in the rubble after the explosion in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in Manhattan.
The young boy has not touched the picture since he wrapped it in newspaper and packed it in his bag so long ago while looking for his dead mother in the rubble at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
The young boy tells his Russian friend they must go to Manhattan, they must escape right away.
In the next scene, the young boy is standing next to a taxi cab with his Russian friend, he tells his Russian friend, “Come with me. We must go now.”
His Russian friend replies, “I can’t go right now.  I’ll come join you tomorrow or the next day.”
In the next scenes we see the young boy in the cab, then in a bus, then on a train or a subway, traveling alone to Manhattan.


Earlier in the movie we were shown a series of scenes in which the young boy goes to the antique shop, meets the distinguished man’s partner and meets the young girl that was with the distinguished man in the gallery when the bomb explosion killed his mother.
The young boy is “taken in” by the distinguished gentleman’s partner when he shows up at the antique furniture store and shows the man the ring the distinguished gentleman had given him.
While the young boy is living with the high society family the distinguished gentleman’s partner becomes a “father figure” to the young boy.
The young boy visits the gentleman’s partner and the injured girl while he is living with the high society family and when he returns to Manhattan after his escape from his father’s home on the outskirts of Las Vegas.
The distinguished gentleman’s partner teaches the young boy critical skills for survival while he is becoming a “father figure.”
The young boy’s “father figure” teaches the young boy skills that will enable the young boy to be self-sustaining, self-sufficient.
He teaches the young boy about antique furniture, how to restore antique furniture, how to make antique furniture reproductions. how to tell the difference between an antique piece of furniture a restored piece of antique furniture and a reproduction of a piece of antique furniture, and how to talk about antique furniture.


The young boy lives with the nice man (father figure) in the Antique Furniture Store when returns to Manhattan.
The antique furniture shop succeeds wildly as a result of the young boy taking on the role of salesman in the antique furniture store.
One day, by chance, he meets Nicole Kidman’s eldest son on the street.
The eldest son tells the young boy (who is now a young man) that his (the elder son’s) brother and father are dead.
He is sure his mother and his sister would love to see the young man.
He invites the young man to come with him to his mother’s house.
He goes with the eldest son to their home – where with great surprise and warmth he is greeted by Nicole Kidman and her now beautiful daughter.
A warm relationship ensues, so warm that the daughter and the now young man decide to marry.


One night while the young man is out, he sees the woman he is about to marry with another man.
He steps into a flower shop so that the woman will not see him.
From the flower shop he sees her lovingly kissing another man.


A creepy customer comes into the antique furniture shop.
He tells the young man (the former young boy) that he bought an antique that really wasn’t an antique. It was a reproduction of an antique.
The young man tells the creepy customer there must have been a mistake, the antique furniture store will buy back that piece of furniture, give the man his money back.
The creepy customer tells the young man, “That is not what I want.”
The young man replies, “Of course, we will pay you a $10,000 premium.”
The creepy customer replies:
  1. “I know who you are.”
  2. “You are the boy whose mother died in the bomb explosion in the Metropolitan Museum of Art.”
  3. “I know you have the painting that went missing after the explosion, “THE GOLDFINCH.” “I want you to sell it to me.”  “I will pay you $500,000 for it.” “If you don’t sell it to me I will report you to the FBI.”
The young man replies: “You are crazy.” “I don’t have THE GOLDFINCH.” “Report me to the FBI.”
After the young man and the creepy customer part company, the young man calls his drug dealer.
He tells his drug dealer he needs to purchase drugs.
The drug dealer tells him to go to a specific bar, then meet and talk to so and so in the bar.


By chance the young man then runs into his boyhood friend, the Russian boy who supplied him with dope while he was living with his father in Nevada, on the outskirts of Las Vegas.
The Russian boy is now a young man, a very successful young man.
The Russian tells his boyhood friend, that he has been searching for him.
He tells him that he owes his success as a drug dealer to him.
He tells him that night when he didn’t get into the taxi cab with the young boy he had something important to say, but didn’t say it.
He wanted to tell his friend that he had taken his painting; he wanted to tell him he saw the painting in the bag when his young friend was high on drugs, decided it was valuable and took it.
The Russian now tells the young man he now wants to make amends.
The young man tells the successful Russian Drug Dealer Kingpin that he wants to return the painting to the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
The successful Russian Drug Dealer Kingpin tells him he no longer has the painting, but he will help the young man get it back.


What happened next in the movie was not only suspenseful and dramatic it was simultaneously unbelievable and believable.
I recommend that you see the movie to find out what happens next.


THE GOLDFINCH is a movie of interrelated tender sub-plots.
Each sub-plot [standing-alone] is a hip highly biased – full of editorial content – portrayal of the human condition.
Each story portrayed in each sub-plot presents a myth destroying message.
The idea that people’s behavior and demeanor – the way they present themselves on the outside – always presents an authentic and reliable window into the way they feel on the inside is debunked.
Dishonesty and stupidity are everywhere.


The acting and costuming in THE GOLDFINCH are extraordinary.
The cinematography is spectacular.


There are many value laden short stories – subplots – in this movie.
My favorite character is the Russian boy (masterly played by Aneurin Barnard) who becomes the young boy’s life long loyal friend.


This Russian boy risks his life and limb doing a “favor” for his best friend.
What the Russian boy does for his friend – the main character – and how he does it in this film is suspenseful and complicated.
What the Russian boy does for his friend is shown at the end of the film in a series of action scenes that kept me on the edge of my seat.


My favorite sub-plot in this movie takes place when the main character leaves his finance at a party they are at, they are ostensibly celebrating their upcoming marriage.
He tells his fiance  he is going away for a few days.
She knows he will never be coming back.
He walks out on her because while he was on a walk alone a few nights before the party he saw her kiss another man.
He knew then that she loved the other man.
When he confronts her, she admits she loves the other man but tries to convince him to marry her anyway.
She tells him that he and she are a good social match;  that he marrying her will make her mother (Nicole Kidman) happy and will make her happy also.


He refused to settle for a good social match.
He wanted his wife to love him with a full heart.
It wasn’t enough for him that they got along, that she was smart and pretty, or that she was a member of a big shot distinguished social family or that he likes her mother.


This movie is as polished as a movie can be.


THE GOLDFINCH is a 2-1/2 hour film about making sense of people.
Success is no accident.
It takes perseverance.
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Just Mercy Film Review: Gary’s Take

Gary : September 14, 2019 10:25 pm : blog


Some people believe all it takes to change the world is to have a good idea, to have a good plan, to have a skill, to be smart, and to work hard.
Those people are wrong.
It takes all of the above plus conviction and hope.
The film JUST MERCY teaches us that lesson.


JUST MERCY is a film based on a true story.
JUST MERCY is about an unjust legal system.
The film tells the story of a black man wrongfully convicted of murdering a white woman in Monroe County, Alabama.
An all white jury, the prosecutor, the chief of police, the entire white police force, white townspeople, and a trial judge did not care about truth or justice when that black man was on trial for murder.
A corrupt white judge did not care about truth or justice or that an innocent man had been wrongfully convicted of murder and was on death row waiting for his execution date to be set when he ruled on a motion to reopen the case, when he denied a motion to give the wrongfully convicted black man a new trial.


In the opening scene we see, Bryan Stevenson’s mother telling Bryan:
“If you don’t recognize the danger in what you are doing, you wasted your time going to Harvard Law School and you should ask for your money back.”
“Out there in Alabama they are going to chew you up and spit you out.”
Bryan replies:
“It isn’t my job to make people happy.  It is my job to see that justice is done.”
“I know what it is like to live in the shadows.”
“I want to fight for people who need help the most.”
“That is why I am doing this.”


Attorney Stevenson arrives in Monroe County Alabama at an office building where he is greeted by his assistant Eva Ansley and the landlord who are having a heated discussion.
The Landlord tells Bryan:
“I am sorry I can’t rent this space to you.”
“I didn’t know you were going to set up a law firm/legal clinic to represent convicted murders on death row.”
“I can’t have that kind of law firm in my building.”


Attorney Stevenson walks into the W.C. Holman Correctional Facility to have a meeting with Walter McMillian, his first prospective client.
The guard at the door entering into the hallway to the meeting room tells Attorney Stevenson:
“You can’t go in until I complete a complete body search.”
Stevenson replies:
“You can’t do that; I am his lawyer.”


Attorney Stevenson is taking off all his clothes in front of the guard.
After he has removed all his clothes, the guard tells him:
“I have to do a complete body search.”
“Spread them.”


There was no direct evidence that McMillian killed the white woman.
The prosecution was based on the testimony of one witness.
That witness testified that shorty after the murder of the white woman, he saw McMillian and the dead white woman in the Dry Cleaning establishment where the white woman had just been murdered.


Attorney Stevenson tirelessly conducted a through investigation.


While Stevenson was looking at records of the case in police department record archives, a black clerk asked Stevenson black secretary:
“Is he married?”
His secretary replied:
“But, he is married to his work.”


While looking through police records, Attorney Stevenson finds a taped interview.
In the interview the Chief of Police asked the key witness to testify that he saw McMillian at the scene of the murder.
The Key Witness replies: “I would never say that! I did not see him there!”


With much difficulty and after exerting much charm, Attorney Stevenson asks the key witness:
“Why did you change your mind?”
“Why did you tell the police chief that you would not testify that you saw McMillian at the dry cleaners and then testify at the trial that you saw McMillian there?
Leading up to those key questions, Stevenson asked the key witness:
“Do you have any children?
The key witness replied:
“Yes I do.”
“I have three children.”
“I thought having a child would be like having a dog.”
I was wrong.”
“I wish someone would have told me having a child is not like having a dog.”
Attorney Stevenson then told the key witness that:
McMillian has children and a wife.”
“He loves his children and his wife and his wife and his children love him.”


The key witness was an orphan.
He had been raised by abusive foster care parents.
On time he was in bed and his pajamas caught on fire.
His skin burned.
He has never forgot the smell of his burning flesh.
Every since then he has been deadly afraid of fire.
He was in jail for robbery at the time the police chief asked him to lie about seeing McMillian at the scene of the crime.
After he refused to lie, the Police Chief had him transferred to a cell on death row.
Shortly after he got to his cell one of the inmates was electrocuted – the smell of burning flesh attacked him in his cell.
The Police Chief then talked to him again.
He then agreed to give false testimony at the upcoming murder trial.


Attorney Stevenson prepared and submitted a motion for new trial.
The key witness testified at the hearing on the motion.
During his testimony he recanted his prior testimony.  He testified that he had lied.
He testified that he had not scene McMillian at the scene of the crime.
Another witness testified that the key witness could not have seen McMillian at the scene of the crime because he was working with him in a garage fixing a transmission.
The judge denied the motion for new trial.


Ask yourself: Why did the police arrest McMillian in the first place.
You should see the movie if you want to know what happened next.
Gary Smolker, Movie Reviewer, Values Critic, and Trial Attorney
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JoJo Rabbit Unfurls At The Toronto Film Fest. (And Gary Passes Judgement)

Gary : September 10, 2019 10:34 am : blog
JoJoRabbit is a complex movie about Nazi Germany, strong women, love, Hope, desperation, making the best of a horrible situation.
JoJoRabbit follows in the footsteps of LIFE IS BEAUTIFUL but instead of the hero being a father protecting his clueless son in a nazi Death Camp, the main character is a mother protecting her fragile fractured fatherless so. and a young teenage strong beautiful Jewish Woman being hidden from the Nazis in her home.
The movie revolves around many thoughts, many situations, the boy’s interaction with many characters and mainly his interaction with the Jewess hiding in his home.
The movie is about how hate is taught, how young people are indoctrinated and shaped by the people around them.
The movie is UGLY. Some people will not stay to the end of the movie because they will become they will not be able to watch the way Nazis treat people and become so offended by the way the Nazis treat people that they can not bear to see anymore of the movie.
But the movie is about life under desperate circumstances and how a brave mother rises to the occasion.
The movie is also about a strong brave Jewish girl and how she rises to the occasion.
The TAKEAWAY MESSAGE of the movie is HATE IS THE EMPEROR OF ALL MALADIES.  HATE cannot be ignored. Hate is more insufferable and more deadly than cancer.
Gary Smolker, Movie Reviewer, Values Critic, and Trial Attorney
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TIFF Review: On The Memorable Visuals of “The Traitor”

Gary : September 8, 2019 9:21 pm : blog, Uncategorized

THE TRAITOR has the most memorable visual I am likely to see in my life.

It is a scene in the life of the main character. #Magia # Boss#Tommaso #Buscetta is in #prison.

In this scene, everyone is sent out of the prison infirmary so that Buscetta can FUCK a beautiful woman in private.

After everyone, but Buscetta, exits the infirmary, a beautiful woman enters the infirmary, lays down on a bed, and Buscetta fucks her.

By the way, Buscetta believed he was a man of honor who abided by all the strict rules of the Costa Nostra – and was not violating the #code of #silence by testifying against his former associates during the most infamous and most significant trial in the Italian history of prosecution of the #Sicilian Mafia history.

You must see this movie in order to understand why he felt that way.

Gary Smolker, Movie Reviewer, Values Critic, Fashion Blogger, and Trial Lawyer

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Gary’s Declaration: Toronto Film Fest, 2019

Gary : September 5, 2019 9:08 am : blog
People turn to Hollywood for cues on how to dress, act, and even think.
inventiveness, and survivorship are qualities often associated with greatness. Right up there with those qualities – in great people – is aggressive optimism. Gary Smolker – Trial Lawyer, Movie Reviewer and Values Critic – I am an aggressively optimistic individual, an indefatigable against the odds optimist in the right and righteous situations I care about.
The motion picture is the school, the diversion, perhaps even the church of the future.
I am taking a break to rejuvenate – I will be attending the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) from Sept 5 – Sept 10. I love watching inspiring movies. I love reading inspiring stories in books. I love fast cars. I love being with lovely people.
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THE ART OF BUILDING A GOOD LIFE WELL LIVED-Review of “The Art of Driving in the Rain

Gary : August 24, 2019 4:25 am : blog

– A Book Report and Movie ” – by Gary Smolker, book reviewer, movie critic and values critic

The Movie “THE ART OF DRIVING IN THE RAIN” Is A Censored Version of the Book

Both the book and the movie are about a young man Denny who is a hero, his heroic selfless loving dying wife EVE, his loving young daughter ZOE, the family dog ENZO, and the EVIL COUPLE.

The EVIL COUPLE are EVE’S extremely wealthy complain about everything”, “know it all”,  manipulative parents.

The EVIL COUPLE constantly complain about everything and everyone.

They are self-absorbed parents.

They are self-absorbed grandparents.

Their conduct is manipulative, deceitful and out-of-bounds.

Death by Brain Cancer

EVE has brain cancer and is dying.

EVE and ZOE temporarily stay with EVE’S grandparents, the EVIL COUPLE, the moment EVE comes back from the hospital to recover from her brain surgery operation to remove the cancer tumor growing in her brain.

Building Dramatic Tension

There are many major differences between the book and the movie.

Dramatic Tension

The tension in the book is very high, a very dramatic fight for custody of ZOE initiated by the EVIL COUPLE after EVE dies.

EVE dies after a heart wrenching fight against brain cancer.

All during her battle with brain cancer, EVE unselfishly and lovingly attends to Denny’s emotional needs.

After Eve dies, the self-absorbed nothing is good enough for them EVIL COUPLE sue to get sole custody of ZOE.

The EVIL COUPLE believe they can provide a better life for ZOE with their money than can hard working decent young Denny who is starting out and just beginning his career as a race car driver.


In the book a 15 year old promiscuous sexy young woman wrongfully accused Denny of raping her.

Criminal charges are filed against Denny.

As a result of that accusation, the EVIL COUPLE GRANDPARENTS are awarded temporary custody of ZOE during the custody battle for sole custody of ZOE launched by the EVIL COUPLE.  Denny is not allowed to have custody of ZOE pending the outcome of a criminal trial.

That doesn’t happen in the movie.


In the movie, Denny is accused of thoughtlessly, in an angry rage, pushing ZOE’s grandfather down which resulted in the grandfather breaking a rib.

Criminal charges are filed against Denny for his alleged violet attack on EVE’S overbearing grandfather.

As a result of that accusation, the EVIL COUPLE GRANDPARENTS get to have sole temporary custody of ZOE. Denny is not allowed to have custody of ZOE but is eventually allowed visitation pending the outcome of the criminal trial.

That doesn’t happen in the book.


In the book, Denny runs out of money.

Denny sells his home to obtain necessary funds owing to his lawyer and so he will be able to continue to pay his lawyer to continue to represent him in his custody fight to regain custody of ZOE, and to continue to defend him in the criminal proceeding initiated by the EVIL COUPLE, ZOE’S manipulative grandparents.

That doesn’t happen in the movie.


In the book, Denny is kicked out of the cemetery during the burial of his wife by the EVIL COUPLE’S two sons.

That doesn’t happen in the movie.

Philosopher Dog

ENZO is a philosopher dog.

ENZO narrates the story in both the book and in the movie.

While narrating the story, ENZO comments on many contemporary social issues including the husband and wife couple who sold ENZO when he was a very young puppy to Denny.

In both the book and in the movie, the following exchange occurs after Denny tells the couple that he has chosen to purchase ENZO:

The puppy’s owner tells Denny, “That puppy is the pick of the litter. We were thinking of keeping him.”

ENZO comments after the man says that – in both the book and in the movie, “He says that to every purchaser about each and every puppy chosen to be purchased when the prospective purchaser asks,How much for that one?’”

I wrote nine pages of things said by ENZO while ENZO was narrating the story “The Art of Racing in the Rain.”


“The Art of Racing in the Rain” is a philosophical discourse on the topic: How to live a well lived good life!


Copyright © 2019 by Gary Smolker, All Rights Reserved

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Gary : August 14, 2019 11:19 pm : blog

by Gary Smolker, movie and values critic


I have always been drawn to gangster movies.

In gangster movies people take charge.  They solve their own problems.

I like cleverness and ingenuity.

I like winners.

I like to see something done spectacularly well.

In gangster movies there is always cleverness, ingenuity, something done spectacularly well and winners.

THE KITCHEN is a gangster movie.


THE KITCHEN is about how the wives of New York gangsters (Cathy, Ruby, and Claire) continue to operate their husbands’ rackets after their husbands are locked up in prison.

The wives manage their husbands’ rackets better than their husbands had.

They improve the operation and profits of their husbands rackets.

There is enormous tension when the husbands come home and find that their wives have been very successfully operating their rackets and have profitably expanded.


While watching that movie, I thought it was a lousy movie – because while watching it, I thought was a boring senseless diatribe against the stupidity of men who sincerely believe it is a man’s world.
The first half of the movie is extremely slow.
I felt lI was trapped in my seat, forced to see the main characters – all women, wives of mobsters – being mistreated by their husbands and the man their husbands worked for.
Little did I suspect at the time that the first half of the movie was an awkward setup for what turned out to be an awkward story told with a sense of frustration, a sense of hope and with high praise for scheming intelligence, planning and virtue.
This is a very clever, though slow moving movie.
At the end, I decided the movie is so slow moving because it is building up to a surprise ending.
I am glad that I sat through the entire movie so that I can report to you that this is a new kind of movie, a feminist movie, a woman power movie.
It is a very clever movie.
It is a film that is a work of the art of film making whose artistic redeeming value is it’s surprise ending.
It is difficult to have a surprise ending.
This movie has a surprise ending.


One best part of the movie to me was a dramatic display of good old fashion virtue by the Italian Mafia Boss of Brooklyn in his handling of a creepy husband who tried to sell-out his wife.
Another best part of the movie to me was the reaction of the female Irish Mafia Mob Boss (Kathy, played by Melissa McCarthy) to being told that a contract had been put out on her and her two co-Irish Mafia Mob Bosses (Ruby, played by Tiffany Haddish, and Claire, played by Elisabeth Moss).


THE KITCHEN is a violent movie that has one scene that for most people will be an educational scene.

In this scene, Claire is taught how to dismember a man (her husband who she has just shot) so that his body will sink and not float when placed in the East River.


Everything Has A Cost – For Example, You Must Lose A Fly to Catch A Trout

If you want to see movies made by major film studios about how stupid men are, movies about the daily frustration of being a female, if you want movies that strongly and dramatically portray a feminist point of view, you should go see this movie.

Unless you buy a ticket to see this movie, movie studies like Warner Bros. will stop making this kind of movie.


Although I originally thought this movie has no redeeming value because it is about how stupid men are and about how brutish and awful men can be, after thinking about this movie for 24 hours I came to realize if we want to have movies that express the frustration of being a woman today, we must pay to see movies like this one.

This movie is a one of a kind movie, a new kind of movie, a woman power movie.

The end of the movie is an intriguing revelation, a surprise ending that makes you realize you did not understand why what happened throughout the movie happened.



The women in this movie had all the spark and life beaten out of them, until their husbands were sent to prison.


In this movie we see one of the mobster husbands frequently beating his wife Claire before he was sent to prison.

Things are different after their husbands get out of prison.

In one scene, she Claire (played convincingly by Elisabeth Moss) shoots and kills her husband when he tries to beat her up after he gets out of prison, then Claire cuts him up, breaks his bones and punctures his lungs so he will fit in the truck of her car and sink when Claire dumps him in the East River.

We later learn Claire’s husband beat Claire while she was pregnant causing a miscarriage.


In one after their husbands get out of prison, we see Ruby (a powerful brilliantly scheming intelligent black woman, played by Tiffany Haddish) while having an argument with her white Irish Mobster Husband, tell her husband that during their entire long marriage she only had three orgasms, the rest of the time she had sex with him she faked having an orgasm.

In a later scene, after she has been informed that her husband has been killed by a gang of Italian mobsters she (Ruby) and Claire and Kathy paid to kill Ruby’s husband and Claire’s husband, we see Ruby tenderly kissing her dead husband’s forehead while inspecting his dead body lying on their bed.


In my opinion, the first good scene in this movie happens more than half way through the movie, when the Italian Mafia Boss in control of Brooklyn tells Kathy, Ruby and Claire that a $75,000 contract has been offered by the Irish Mob Boss of Hell’s Kitchen to kill them.

Kathy replies: We will pay you $100,000 to kill the Irish Mob Boss and his underlings – including Ruby’s and Claire’s husbands.



This is a woman power movie and a black woman power movie.

The most intelligent person in this movie is the Black Woman Ruby.

There is a surprise ending that reveals the power the black woman Ruby had over the fate of everybody.


This movie is a about women who take charge.

They solve their own problems through their cleverness, ingenuity and hard work.

These women are a salty crew.

They are not flat boring cardboard characters.


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Politicially Incorrect Film Reviews: THE ART OF SELF-DEFENSE

Gary : August 5, 2019 5:36 am : blog

(a movie review by Gary Smolker, movie and values critic)


“The Art of Self-Defense” is being hailed as an offbeat sinister dark comedy classic.

Many of the scenes in this movie are gruesome.

As I watched this movie, on the big screen in a movie theater, I became more and more repulsed and kept asking myself: “What is this movie about?”

This movie is a criticism of the power structure in our society.


“The Art of Self-Defense” is a feminist movie.

This movie is a criticism of masculinity.

The story told in “The Art of Self-Defense” is a very strong a criticism of our male dominated hierarchical society, of our society in which symbols – such as what you wear – denote who and what your are.

“The Art of Self-Defense” is a cry of protest in the fictionalized world of male hereditary privilege and power shown on the screen, a dramatically cruel and unfair world where a woman can not earn a black belt in Karate because she is a woman.


“The Art of Self-Defense” takes toxic male masculinity to absurd extremes with no discussion of the rising power of women in contemporary society; makes no reference to the political battles women have won that give them preferential treatment under the law, lower standards for hiring, and control of what men may legally say.


I know a woman who has a black belt in Karate.


This movie is a wake-up call for men who are not aware that women are winning the battle of the sexes for privileges and power because they are fighting hard and men act as if they don’t know there is a public relations battle for political power going on.


The movie begins with a scene of the main character being mugged at night by a motorcycle gang while on his way home from shopping for dog food for his pet, a small cute Dachshund.

The main character (played by Jesse Eisenberg) is a timid bookkeeper whose name is Casey.

To protect himself, after being mugged, Casey attempts to purchase a pistol.

He goes to a store that sells guns.

When he attempts to purchase a pistol, Casey is told that he has to apply for permission to purchase a gun, fill out forms, and wait for his application to be approved.

Frustrated by his inability to purchase a pistol, Casey joins a neighborhood karate studio to learn how to protect himself.

As the story progresses, we learn that the head karate instructor Sensei is a sick sadistic person.

Sensei ran the motorcycle gang that attacked Casey.

We also learn that one of Casey’s fellow karate students – a woman – brown belt Anna (played by Imogen Poots) saved Casey’s life.

Anna was on the scene as a member of the motorcycle gang that mugged Case.

Anna saved Casey’s life by pretending to hear police sirens.

She told the other gang members to stop beating up Casey and to flee because the police were coming, she heard police sirens.

After Casey joins the karate studio, movie focuses on the tortuous activities of the head karate instructor Sensei who on the side leads a motorcycle gang that mugs people who are walking alone at night.

A hierarchical fraternity – lead by Sensei – consisting of karate students both practices karate, take karate lessons in the karate studio, and at night as a member of a motorcycle gang attacks people walking alone.

The movie is about the interactions between members of that fraternity.

In those interactions toxic masculinity is taken to absurd extremes.

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Film Review: Stuber and the lessons for men and women

Gary : July 17, 2019 7:14 am : blog, Uncategorized

The movie STUBER poses as a madcap comedy about a relentless cop tracking down a drug dealer with the help of an UBER driver who the policeman kidnapped.

    STUBER is really a tender love story about the fragile relationship the policeman has with his daughter.
    STUBER fantastically presents human dynamics.
    The daughter feels her father doesn’t care about her because he constantly ignores her while relentlessly pursuing criminals.
  There are two lessons here.
    LESSON FOR WOMEN: The fact your father or boyfriend or spouse ignores you doesn’t mean he doesn’t love you deeply.
       LESSON FOR MEN:   Men: Make the important woman in your life feel your are exclusive and she is extremely important to you. Women desperately need emotion security.  Women don’t have emotional security unless the man in her life makes her feel she is important to him.
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Love And Fulfillment In Love: Just a thought

Gary : April 3, 2019 10:32 am : Afterglow, blog

Dear ReaderThere are two reasons people “love” their boyfriend girlfriend spouse:

*They find out who they are while “loving” the other person.

*Loving the other person fulfills them.

WOMAN: When a man is with the right woman they are caught together in the net of life and time, fellow prisoners of the splendor and travail of the earth.

They are gifted with an extension of senses everyone else has lost or never attained; they begin living by voices we shall never hear. \

They fill up each other’s senses. They entice each other to #explore in a way they never have before.



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