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Posted by on Nov 2, 2012 in Blog, Movie Reviews | 2 comments

Movie Review: “Flight”

 

flight-movie

 

Imagine real-life hero pilot “Sulley” Sullenberger with a severe drug and alcohol problem and doing a few lines prior to taking controls in the cockpit, yet still managing to land his packed airplane with absolute precision on the Hudson River.  Would he still be a hero?  That’s the dilemma of the new film, “Flight,” which just hit theaters this week.

This is a difficult movie to sit through.  Yet it’s tough to decide which is more gut-wrenching — watching a doomed airliner packed full of passengers buckled down in a nosedive headed for near-certain death, or the central character played by Denzel Washington, whose personal life is just as out of control.

While Washington’s character nicknamed “Whip” manages to miraculously maneuver the aircraft towards a crash landing that undoubtedly saves lives, the captain comes under increasing scrutiny once the post-crash investigation begins.  Conducted by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), the investigation begins to reveal some troubling revelations about Whip and his conduct.  Every second of the pilot and crew’s lives are scrutinized, which uncovers some ugly secrets about how Whip spends most of his free time.  His best friends are bottles with names like Jim Beam and Jack Daniels, with a few lines of cocaine to add a little spice.

The hero-addict dichotomy is a marvelous dramatic device which helps to sustain a longer-than-average 2.5 hour movie.  The audience faces a real conflict here.  We don’t know whether to cheer for Whip to beat the rap and move on with his life (after all, he heroically saved lives), or be exposed as the fraud he is so the healing and recovery process can begin.

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Posted by on Nov 1, 2012 in Blog, Movie Reviews | 1 comment

Movie Review: “Argo”

argo-movie

 

 

To those of us who remember going to bed each night serenaded by Ted Koppel’s voice on ABC’s “Nightline,” the latest film by Ben Affleck will bring back vivid memories.

Yet remarkably, even though we remember how the Iranian Hostage Crisis turned out, the personal stories and occasional acts of heroism behind the daily headlines remain mostly untold and little known.

“Argo” tells the griping story of a secret CIA-led mission to rescue six American hostages who managed to escape the doomed American Embassy on the day it was swarmed by an Iranian mob, which eventually led to a 444-day stalemate for those left behind who remained trapped in captivity.  The six consular workers who managed to slip out a side door, just as the Embassy compound was being stormed, hid away for more than two months.  They were housed at great risk inside the Canadian Ambassador’s residence, in Tehran.

Unfortunately for the hostages, the time clock is ticking.  The Canadian Ambassador receives word that his mission is to close, leaving the hidden Americans in a proverbial lifeboat, now suddenly taking on water.

This sets into motion one of the oddest alliances ever for a clandestine operation, bringing together intelligence officials working alongside Hollywood insiders who must concoct a phony film as a cover story.  The wacky idea is to pretend to make a movie in Iran, and smuggle out the American diplomats.

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Posted by on Oct 24, 2012 in Blog, General Poker, Las Vegas, World Series of Poker | 1 comment

Players Television Network — The Business of Online Poker (2005)

The short-lived Players Television Network debuted at the 2005 World Series of Poker.

I was asked to moderate two panel discussions, which were later broadcast via “On Demand.”  The first show was on the late-great poker legend, Stu Ungar.

SEE STU UNGAR FEATURE HERE

The second show (featured here) was a panel discussion about the business of online poker.

I wasn’t at all prepared to assume the role of moderator.  I recall leaving the rigors of my job at the WSOP for an hour or so, getting abruptly fitted with a microphone, and then walking out and taking a seat in front of a live studio audience and rolling television cameras with no script.

The good thing about the unrehearsed format is that everything was spontaneous.  The bad thing is the show could have been much crisper had I been prepared.  Looking back now, I certainly would have asked more penetrating questions than what appears here.

Fortunately, the three guests who appeared on the online poker segment were outstanding.  Tony Cabot (one of the world’s top legal experts on online gambling), Mike Sexton (then a consultant to PartyPoker), and Dan Goldman (then a consultant to PokerStars) were all in top form.

Even though this discussion might seem dated now seven years later, it holds up remarkably well over time.  Many of the things discussed that day have happened, just as predicted.

Here’s that panel discussion from 2005 that runs about 40 minutes in length.

TAG: Nolan Dalla poker writings
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