Wednesday, December 10, 2014

'The Newsroom'

Aaron Sorkin's HBO series, 'The Newsroom' (2012–2014), had a pivotal and dramatic episode last Sunday... our beloved Charlie Skinner (Sam Waterston) suffered a fatal heart Will McAvoy (Jeff Daniels) finally gets released following 54 days of incarceration (if you don't know why skip this - not a show you watch) is greeted by his wife MacKenzie (Emily Mortimer) and told of his death. Amazing that in the last couple of Sundays important and founding members of this ensemble have met their demise.
I have read many negative reviews of late about Aaron Sorkin and his views of life in America. So I wish to show you what a keen mind and exquisite writer he is. Movie audiences get very little dialogue this snappy; they get very little dialogue at all. In movies we are starved for wit, for articulate anger, for extravagant hyperbole—all of which flows like pebbles in a stream...with turbulence of course. The ruling gods of movie screenwriting, at least in American movies, are terseness, elision, functional macho, and heartfelt, fumbled semi-articulateness.
Some of the very young micro-budget filmmakers, trying for that old Cassavetes magic achieve a sludgy moodiness with minimal dialogue, or with improvisation—scenes that can be evocative and touching. But the young filmmakers wouldn't dream of wit or rhetoric, especially at par with Mr. Sorkin. It would seem fake to them. Thank heavens the swelling, angry, sarcastic, one-upping talk in 'The Newsroom' is unafraid of embarrassing anyone.
Aaron Sorkin writes a highly stylized dialogue which depends on certain conventions that he has made his own. First, there is the convention of perfect articulacy: everyone says exactly what he means, and without hesitation. Second, Sorkin unabashedly reveres high intelligence. Sorkin celebrates the guy who cuts through the crap, gets to the point, sees the patterns and implications buried within some matter. A lot of his writing consists of people questioning each other—sifting, correcting, overturning—as part of a furious drive toward a conclusion. He writes interrogation scenes without pedantry, in a spirit of high gaiety—getting to the truth of something is an adventure.
He has also developed a dramatically entertaining idea of how dynamic groups work together. In 'The West Wing' (1999–2006) the product was policy; in 'The Social Network' (2010) it was an entrepreneurial idea. Here, it's a good news show. Life may not work this way in the real world, but Sorkin's complaint about America is that intelligence is in a semi-apologetic retreat, while emotionalism and stupidity are on the rise—in public policy and in the media. He's setting up an ideal. He is an ethical writer—a moralist, if you like. He's neither ironic nor self-deprecating; he dislikes that part of the derisive culture which undercuts, as a ritual form of defence, any kind of seriousness. He's a very witty entertainer who believes that there's a social value in truth. I don't think this belief should be confused, as it has been recently, with self-righteousness. Here is a dazzling panoply to celebrate that and the best of Charlie Skinner.

© Frank Borsellino™
* From Where I Sit!
December 10, 2014

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Fiorante's Feast @ Cavalli

'Take the time today to tell your friends the difference they have made
in your life.' ~ Catherine Pulsifer

Intended... unintended... whatever the intention, the result was a phenomenal
achievement in perseverance. Primarily, it had been 10 years to the month that
we had our 25th Reunion @ Le Challenger... and for the first time in a long
time, the group was made up solely of graduates, with the exception of one.

I'm here to laud the excellence that was 'Fiorante's Feast' @ Cavalli...
and as Mr. Cavalli (Gianni Caruso) himself proclaimed, of which I concur,
no one else but Patrick (Pat Fiorante) could have pulled that off in such
a spectacular fashion. The 'coup de grace' was seeing Betty Castiglione
walk through the door and greet the table. Bravo Patrick...Memorable!

First... A special mention to the guests of honor… Dina Merulla & Mary
Perrotta. We are all happy, overjoyed and elated that you were at the table
to talk, laugh, indulge in such a culinary extravaganza and enjoy the
rapport with us all. You both looked happy, healthy and in great humor.

Secondly... Gianni's generosity shows no bounds, and on this particular
occasion he surpassed any sense of normalcy ... I was floored! He really,
really, really likes us! He had as much fun exchanging, eating and drinking
as any of us, and most importantly, he was relaxed. There was definitely
a sense of deja-vu! All that was missing was Santo Ciavirella & Gino Famularo.

The food was remarkable and sublime, as it is always. Frank Gioffre is
an exceptional chef…I adore that man! Every dish was abundantly mouth-
watering and exquisitely prepared. They say the measure of a great restaurant
is the consistency of its dishes. Every dish was consistent... but better
because of the company.

There's a French terminology, 'radotte' meaning to tell a story repeatedly.
So at the risk of being 'radotté', on Thursday night, we surpassed every one's
expectations. I say 'we', because the success of these shindigs is a collective
endeavor of the whole and not of its parts. What started quietly enough, and
with little fanfare, in no time, spawned into quite an uproarious and a very
entertaining evening of 'Sex, drugs and rock-and-roll'. We are definitely
children of the seventies! Some of us louder than others! (I sit guilty as

'Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving
safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside
in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly
proclaiming 'Wow! What a Ride!' ~ Hunter S. Thompson

The following are observations I was able to retain in the onslaught of
tremendous boisterous exuberance... on my part as well, as the group as
a whole. We talked like it was routine as though no time had elapsed. It
had been a long time for me... and it felt comfortable seeing Jack Latino
ribbing Mamie aka Bubbles (Isabelle Mazzone). I had forgotten what that
camaraderie was like. We, eleven men and women, made the dinner in the
pantheon of life's journey one of those unforgettable moments. I observed
splinters of factions, huddled together, in delight of the evening, reminiscent
of school clicks. As is the case with 'group diners', the dynamics and
especially the landscape is different compared to a regular 'dinner party'.
I love change but sometimes I also enjoy continuity and familiarity... and
to feel a certain level of comfort. Add to that a sparkle of freshness in the
guise of a new Muse... Silvana Sanchez, and the ensemble is evolving. I'm a big
proponent of evolution. It's similar to an ever-changing, living organism,
that grows as it absorbs particles it picks up along its journey... such as
J.P. Giacomini e la Nonna (Lia Puma).

'I made up my mind not to care so much about the destination, and enjoy
the journey.' ~ David Archuleta

Later, Gianni and myself, over a final 'bicchiere di vino', compared notes
and both concluded that the original diners are a special breed of graduates...
it was also observed by my Muse, along with Patrick's wife at the next table.
Such a group, as we are, is a rarity, and should be nourished and preserved,
to the best of our ability. I have tried to be the enabler of such a noble task,
but it took Patrick to take us over that hilltop.

'Love is when you take away the feeling, the passion, the romance and you
find out you still care for that person.' ~ © Frank Borsellino™

* From Where I Sit!
November 27, 2014