Mountain Views News     Logo: MVNews     Saturday, January 3, 2015

MVNews this week:  Page 11



Mountain Views-News Saturday, January 3, 2015 

Jeff’s Book Picks By Jeff Brown




by Candice Millard 

James Garfield was one of the most extraordinary 
men ever elected president. Born into abject 
poverty, he rose to become a wunderkind scholar, 
a Civil War hero, a renowned congressman, and a 
reluctant presidential candidate who took on the 
nation’s corrupt political establishment. But four 
months after Garfield’s inauguration in 1881, he 
was shot in the back by a deranged office-seeker 
named Charles Guiteau. Garfield survived the 
attack, but become the object of bitter, behind-
the-scenes struggles for power—over his 
administration, over the nation’s future, and, 
hauntingly, over his medical care. Meticulously 
researched, epic in scope, and pulsating with an 
intimate human focus and high-velocity narrative 
drive, The Destiny of the Republic brings alive a 
forgotten chapter of U.S. history.


by Tilar J. 

Set against the 
backdrop of the Nazi 
occupation of World 
War II, The book 
is the captivating 
history of Paris’s 
world-famous Hôtel 
Ritz—a breathtaking 
tale of glamour, 
opulence, and 
celebrity; dangerous 
liaisons, espionage, 
and resistance. 
When France fell to 
the Germans in June 
1940, the legendary 
Hôtel Ritz —an icon of Paris frequented by film 
stars and celebrity writers, American heiresses 
and risqué flappers, playboys, and princes, was 
the only luxury hotel of its kind allowed in the 
occupied city by order of Adolf Hitler.The book 
traces the history of this cultural landmark from 
its opening in fin de siècle Paris. The Hotel on 
Place Vendôme is an extraordinary chronicle of 
life at the Ritz during wartime, when the Hôtel 
was simultaneously headquarters to the highest-
ranking German officers, such as Reichsmarshal 
Göring, and home to exclusive patrons, including 
Coco Chanel. He takes us into the grand palace’s 
suites, bars, dining rooms, and wine cellars, 
revealing a hotbed of illicit affairs and deadly 
intrigue, as well as stunning acts of defiance and 
treachery. Rich in detail, and illustrated with 
black-and-white photos.

DAY by Miranda Esmonde-White 

Miranda offers an eye opening guide to anti-
aging that provides essential tools to help anyone 
turn back the clock and look and feel younger 
no matter what age.She trains everyone from 
prima ballerinas to professional hockey players to 
Cerebral palsy patients: what do they all have in 
common? All of these people are hoping to heal 
their bodies, prevent further injury, and move 
optimally and without pain. In fact, they have 
the same goals as any of us who are trying to stay 
young, fit, and reverse the hands of time.Because 
the aging of our bodies occurs in our cells, it must 
be repaired there too—that’s where her highly 
effective and sought-after techniques come in. The 
body is programmed to self-destruct as we age, 
but the speed at which it self-destructs is up to us. 
Recent scientific studies have proven this fact! In 
Aging Backwards, she offers a groundbreaking 
guide on how to maintain and repair our cells, 
through scientifically designed workouts. Healthy 
cells prevent joint pain, muscle loss and weak 
bones—helping to control weight, increase energy, 
and improve strength and mobility. Miranda 
offers readers of all ages the tools they need to look 
and feel young. Complete with tips, tools, and her 
Eight Basic Age-Reversing Workouts accompanied 
by instructional photos and web clips, Aging 
Backwards will help you grow younger, not older! 

By Sean Kayden

“The Gambler” isn’t a 
movie about gambling. 
In fact, I’m not sure what 
it even is. Mark Wahlberg 
tries to fill the shoes of 
James Caan in this reimagining “Hollywood” 
version of the original 1974 underrated classic. 
Director Rupert Wyatt (“Rise Of The Planet Of 
The Apes”, “The Escapist”) does a satisfactory 
job keeping this film remotely entertaining. His 
work behind the camera is slick and cuts through 
with impeccable precision. However, the script by 
William Monahan (“The Departed”) isn’t nearly 
as gripping or as convincing as the original film 
that was penned by James Toback. I perceive this 
to be the case because Toback wrote about his own 
real life experiences. Monahan’s script feels like 
the work of a person who doesn’t know the first 
thing about gambling. It appears to be just a falsely 
depicted account of what it means to him as a 
distant outsider. Fortunately, Monahan’s dialogue 
is often witty with sharp one-liners, but ultimately 
the story is flat with undeveloped secondary 
characters. Furthermore, Wahlberg’s hapless and 
self-destructive character was far from anyone 
you could truly root for. He made it vastly difficult 
to be even slightly likable. Rounding up the 
supporting cast is Brie Larson, John Goodman, 
Michael Kenneth Williams, and Jessica Lange as 
the mother of Wahlberg’s Jim Bennett character. 
“The Gambler” is lacking any sort of backbone or 
spiritual material to warrant the remake.

 Jim Bennett isn’t so much a gambler as he’s a guy 
who’s superbly depressed. Why? You really don’t 
know why. He comes from money, has a good 
job as a college literature professor and is very 
bright. The types of wagers he makes are ones no 
respectable gambler would even attempt. All he 
bets is double or nothing in blackjack. He has a 
streak of four or five winning hands and then loses 
it all in one play. Continuously throughout the 
movie it is the same scenario. He comes off utterly 
pretentious to his students, where he believes 
only one of them in the entire class is capable of 
being an actual writer (Brie Larson’s character, 
Amy). Amy knows about Bennett’s secret life as 
a “gambler,” but he tells her that’s not who he is. 
The strange romantic relationship between these 
two is completely unripe. It’s pretty unclear to 
why she has any ties to him whatsoever. Larson, 
who is great in everything I’ve ever seen her in, 
simply has nothing to work with here. In fact, it 
doesn’t have true logic why she would even be 
somewhat interested in Bennett. Then there’s 
Bennett’s relationship with his mother played by 
Jessica Lange. An odd dynamic fueled by loathing 
each have for one another, it doesn’t make too 
much sense either why Lange’s character would 
keep helping out her son fiscally. Lange, another 
star in her own right either wasn’t right for the 
role or clearly had nothing to grasp onto as far 
any sort of character development. On a brighter 
note, John Goodman in his four or so scenes 
unsurprisingly nails his role of a big time lone 
shark. He’s supplied with the best and most witty 
lines in the entire film. Michael Kenneth Williams 
(“The Wire,” “Boardwalk Empire”) is also great as 
Neville, another lone shark. Unfortunately, the 
reason he even comes into Wahlberg’s life felt 
unwarranted. There are two students in Bennett’s 
class he has a fuzzy relationship with. One is an all-
star basketball player and the other a top ranking 
tennis star. The basketball player tries to help 
Bennett’s character out in the third act of the film. 
Bennett’s life is at stake and Wahlberg’s character 
acts as if he rather die than pay any money back 
to the numerous characters he owes. The other 
relationship with the tennis star makes no sense 
at all. Something was either cut from the final film 
because his existence was far short of any sort of 
value to the film. 

 Speaking of any value, in the end, what is 
this movie even about? It’s obviously not about 
gambling because it’s demonstrated in such an 
amateur way. In the original, James Caan would 
be sweating over owing $44,000 to the bookies. 
You can see the fear and anxiety in his character. 
Wahlberg’s character couldn’t give two shits if 
he won or lost to pay back the $260,000+ debt he 
accumulated. If anything, Bennett was addicted to 
losing than winning. There’s no rhyme or reason 
to why he’s like this, at least it wasn’t accurately 
represented. As a whole the movie entertained 
in fragments as well as having a few players 
(Goodman, Williams) spark some interest for 
me. Other than that, this remake is yet another 
throwaway from Hollywood. Skip this dud and 
stream the much more superior original one on 
Netflix right now. 

 Grade: 2.5 out of 5

On the Marquee: Notes from the Sierra MadrePlayhouse



Arcadia Performing Arts Foundation presents Three Dog 
Night, for the first performance of its second season, on 
Saturday, January 10 at 8pm. For over four decades, Three 
Dog Night has propelled popular music with a long list of 
smash hits, many of which are staples of American rock 

 Tickets, available online by visiting www.Arcadiapaf.
org, are $39.50 to $109.50 with VIP Meet and Greet 
Packages available. The theatre is at 188 Campus Drive at 
North Santa Anita Avenue, Arcadia CA 91007. For more 
information please call 626-821-1781. 

 Legendary music icons, Three Dog Night, continue 
to perform to sell-out crowds, bringing along some of 
the most astonishing chart statistics in popular music 
including 21 consecutive Top 40 hits, including 3 #1 
singles, 11 Top 10’s, and 12 straight RIAA Certified Gold 

 Perfectly re-creating their larger than life songs 
with customary impeccable harmonies and exciting 
arrangements, Three Dog Night will perform their hits 
including “Mama Told Me (Not To Come)”, “Joy to The 
World”, “Black and White”, “Shambala”, “One”, “Liar”, 
“Celebrate” and many more songs that drive their chart 
and sales success. 

 Three Dog Night, which is made up of founding 
members Cory Wells and Danny Hutton on lead vocals, 
original band mates Jimmy Greenspoon (keyboards) and 
Michael Allsup (guitar) and completed by Paul Kingery 
(bass and vocals) and Pat Bautz (drums), now perform for 
audiences spanning several generations.

 Initially brought together in 1968 by Danny Hutton 
and Cory Wells, Three Dog Night recorded the music 
of the best (and mostly undiscovered) new songwriters 
of their time including Harry Nilsson, Randy Newman, 
Elton John, Laura Nyro, Paul Williams and Hoyt Axton 
among many others. The group’s eclectic taste, combined 
with their ability to recognize and record hits in a unique, 
distinctive and appealing style, resulted in Three Dog 
Night dominating the charts for years. The now-famous 
name came from a story about Australian hunters who, 
on cold nights in the outback, sleep with their dogs for 
warmth. The coldest evenings are known as a “three dog 

For tickets, visit

WHAT: “A Walk in the Woods.” A comedy-drama.

WHO: Written by Lee Blessing. Directed by Geoffrey Wade. Produced by Estelle Campbell 
and Christian Lebano for Sierra Madre Playhouse. Starring John Prosky and 

 Nancy Youngblut.

WHERE: Sierra Madre Playhouse, 87 W. Sierra Madre Blvd., Sierra Madre, CA 91024. 

 Ample free parking behind theatre.

WHEN: January 23- February 21, 2015. Fri. & Sat. at 8:00, Sun. at 2:30. 

 There is also a Saturday matinee at 2:30 on February 21.

ADMISSION: $25. Seniors (65+) $22. Students (age 13-21), $15. Children 12 and under, $12.


* * * * * *

 American diplomat Joan Honeyman and her opposite number from Russia, Andrey Botvinnik, meet for 
a series of meetings in a tranquil forest in Switzerland, as the two representatives of the last remaining Western 
superpowers engage in negotiations at a particularly tense moment in the annals of world history. The very fate of 
the human race may depend on the ultimate outcome of these talks. 

Can these two adversaries become friends? Can they prevent Armageddon?

Originally produced in 1987, the play is just as timely today, as the U.S. is once again confronted with a Russia with 
a belligerent head of state. “A Walk in the Woods” is described as “a seriously funny play about saving the world,” 
and it is, featuring the warmth, humor and wit characteristic of its playwright’s work.

 Lee Blessing is deservedly one of the most commercially successful living American playwrights, and Los 
Angeles in particular loves his body of work. Other plays by the prolific writer that have seen production locally 
within the last few years include “Cobb,” “Down the Road,” “Two Rooms,” “Independence,” “Fortinbras” and 

 Geoffrey Wade directs. His previous directing credits include “Ruffian on the Stair,” “Celebration,” and 
“The Crucible” (shared credit). Also an actor, he has numerous credits on episodic television, with the L.A.-based 
Antaeus Company, and in regional theatre. He appeared on Broadway in “Translations” and “An American 

 John Prosky portrays Botvinnik. He has appeared in 45 films, on episodic television (especially on “The 
Medium”), in regional theatre, and in multiple productions with Antaeus Company, among them, “The Crucible,” 
“Cousin Bette,” “Tonight at 8:30,” and most recently “The Wedding Band: a Love/Hate Story in Black and White.” 
The role of Botvinnik was performed in the original 1988 Broadway production by John’s own father, the late 
celebrated actor Robert Prosky in a Tony®-nominated performance.

 Nancy Youngblut plays Honeyman. She directed “God’s Man in Texas” last season at Sierra Madre Playhouse 
and also appeared here in “Our Town.” Other stage roles include turns in “Burn This,” “Fool for Love,” “The Heidi 
Chronicles,” “Dancing at Lughnasa,” “The Dinner Party,” and “A Life in the Trees.” On TV, she has appeared as 
recurring characters on “Dr, Quinn, Medicine Woman,” “Weeds,” “Perception,” and “Diagnosis: Murder.”

 Assistant director: Amelia White. Stage manager: Sarah Poor. Assistant stage manager: Wysper Erigio. 
Lighting designer: Pablo Santiago. Costume designer: Candice Cain. Sound design: Jeff Gardner. Set designer: Rei 
Yamamoto. Playhouse Artistic Director: Christian Lebano.

Mountain Views News 80 W Sierra Madre Blvd. No. 327 Sierra Madre, Ca. 91024 Office: 626.355.2737 Fax: 626.609.3285 Email: Website: