‘Manuel’ of Fawlty Towers has died

The actor Andrew Sachs who played such a memorable role as the long-suffering Spanish waiter Manuel at the hands of the irascible Basil Fawlty (played by John Cleese) has died at the age of 86 after suffering from dementia for the last four years. As the foil for the more famous Cleese, he was a major factor in providing the humor in that series. He was by all accounts an extremely nice person who had a knack for farcical comedy.
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Francis Ford Coppola on making The Godfather

The Godfather (1972) is a film that one never forgets and spawned two sequels that, unlike in the case of so many sequels, managed to maintain the quality of the first. Director Francis Ford Coppola was only 29 when he was asked to direct the film version of Mario Puzo’s book. Coppola kept a notebook during the making of the film, with his ideas of what to do and what traps to avoid and those notes have now been published. In an interview today on Fresh Air, he talks about the making of the film and I found it fascinating. You can listen to it.
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TV review: Black Mirror

The British TV series available for streaming on Netflix is set in the near future and each episode features a new story with a different cast and deals with the impact of technology on people’s lives, especially miniaturized communication technology that does not yet exist but seems tantalizingly possible, such as tiny chips embedded in our brains that record every aspect of our lives and can be played back at will or software that, by accessing as much information that exists about a person, can re-create a replica that is indistinguishable from a person who died, or immersive virtual reality worlds that are indistinguishable from the physical one.
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Film review: Eye in the Sky (2015)

The 2015 film Eye in the Sky starring Helen Mirren and the late Alan Rickman is about a joint British-US operation using drones to spy on and kill suspected terrorists in Kenya. The central tension is created by a child who sets up a stand to sell home-made bread in the vicinity of the target and the film deals with the debate in London as to whether the possible death of the child is worth it to stop a pair of suicide bombers from carrying out attacks that will kill many more. It is the equivalent of the trolley problem commonly used in ethics discussions. It is the British who are in charge of the operation, though the drones are operated by the US.
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Film review: Dark Horse (2016)

This documentary is delightful even if you, like me, are not a horse enthusiast or know anything about horse racing. It tells the story of a group of people in a small Welsh coal mining town. The mines, like so many others, had closed and the town struggled economically. A woman who had a job cleaning a department store and also worked as a part-time barmaid had the bizarre idea of starting a small syndicate to buy a race horse and she managed to find 30 people willing to contribute £10 per week. With part of the money that was raised they bought a mare that turned out to be a rotten competitor. They bred that mare with a thoroughbred and named the foal Dream Alliance.
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Film review: Snowden (2016)

I saw this Oliver Stone film a couple of days ago that tells the story of Edward Snowden (played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt) over the period 2003 to 2013, ending with his trip to Moscow. The films starts on June 3, 2013 with Snowden holed up in a hotel in Hong Kong making contact with journalists Laura Poitras, Glenn Greenwald, and Ewan MacAskill for the first time and telling them his story, though he had already given them the encrypted documents that would explode into the world that week.
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What’s the point of such things?

The Cleveland Orchestra is considered one of the best in the world. Like all classical music ensembles, it faces the problem that the audience for it is aging. In order to attract a younger and more diverse group, it engages in various programs that have more contemporary and popular music. One of the things that it advertises are things called Movie Nights that say that a film will be shown on a big screen in the concert hall with the score preformed live by the Cleveland Orchestra. They have had films like Back to the Future and the next one will be Raiders of the Lost Ark.
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