Different Slants

Seeing the World from a New Angle

A Meek Liberal’s Debt to the 1960’s Civil Rights Movement…by Robert M. Katzman

Robert M. Katzman’s Amazing Story: www.differentslants.com/?p=355

© August 18, 2013

I have something to say about the new movie, “The Butler”.  I wonder sometimes why I write anything here, to a seemingly growing group of people I don’t really know and also the disturbingly fundamental fact that I’m not paid for it.

But the movie struck me so strongly and my impression was so different than the somewhat snotty and disdainful recent NPR review that I felt I wanted to cancel them out, in my own obscure microscopic voice.  What’s the point of Freedom of Speech if a person has something contradictory and worthwhile to say, but doesn’t bother because there’s no personal reward in it?

(Read on …)

Racial Prejudice and a Hyde Park Newsstand in Chicago…by Robert M. Katzman

Robert M. Katzman’s Amazing Story:  http://www.differentslants.com/?p=355

© May 1, 2013

I came to Hyde Park in April, ’64 from an odd ethnic bubble of only Irish and Jews, mixed together with periodic success on the South Side of Chicago, near 87th Street. Never had any relationships or encountered any black people anywhere.

There were two black girls in my last year at Caldwell School whom no one would talk to. It was stunning. I was both appalled by this situation and I was unpopular as well, so I got it immediately and befriended them. They were suspicious of me at first (and who wouldn’t be?), but then visibly relieved that the ice was broken for them. Except it wasn’t broken.

(Read on …)

Shredded Hearts/The Chick-Flick Poem…by Robert M. Katzman

Robert M. Katzman’s Amazing Story:  http://www.differentslants.com/?p=355

© March 2011   


There are

Moments in movies

Which is why

There are movies

That can crush your emotions

Like you are being



Love and Death

(Read on …)

Roger Ebert, Don’t Worry…by Robert M. Katzman

Filed under: Katzman's Cinema Komments — Bob at 7:26 pm on Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Between January 3rd,2008 and April 13th, 2008, after Rick Munden and I agreed to see if we could create a blog that people would actually read, I wrote thirteen off-the-wall movie reviews of favorite old movies plus much more that I felt would interest people.  Except for review # 12, in which I argued that Amy Adams wasn’t sexy enough to keep three men on a string in a British movie I otherwise liked very much, and in the process attempted to define screen sexiness and suggested it could be a good parlor game, most people didn’t read my reviews. I regret that.

However, hundreds read # 12, so I guess, as they say, sex sells.

I have since revised my opinion of Miss Adams and her charms.  Some women get much better as they mature, and she seems to be a good case for that.  But then, who am I to say?

If you are intrigued, go to the list on the right of this page and look at the list of categories, you can click on Katzman’s Cinema Komments.   I think you will find my eccentric take on the movies is well worth your time.

I quit writing reviews to concentrate on all the other true stories since posted.   They are worth your time too, as are Rick’s stories.

As far as Roger Ebert, in 1970 he ran a class at the University of Chicago Extension in Downtown Chicago called (cleverly) Film Criticism, which I took twice.   We got to know each other a little, especially when he found out I was selling thousands of Chicago Sun-Times with his column in it at my wooden newsstand in Hyde Park every week.   His class was wonderful and well attended.  I missed a couple of the classes when my newsstand burned down that winter, but that’s another story.

He was very generous with his time, was completely unpretentious despite his growing fame and remained friendly to me through the years.  When Bob’s Newsstand closed in 1985 after 20 years, when I was thirty-five and out of work, he offered to see if he could get me a job as a writer at the Sun-Times.  About a month later, I did get a call from someone at the Times offering me a chance to work for them.  I turned it down because I must have thought I had something better going, which it turns out, I didn’t.  I have often wondered which way my life might have gone if I had decided to say “yes” to the opportunity.  But the point is, Ebert kept his word.  Character, man.

Ebert and I share something else, unfortunately, besides a love of the movies.

(Read on …)

Katzman’s Cinema Komments # 13–4/13/08

Filed under: Humor,Jewish Themes,Katzman's 13 Vintage Movie Reviews,Katzman's Cinema Komments — Bob at 12:59 pm on Monday, April 14, 2008

April 13th is not just another day.

Not for me, and not for America, either

Thomas Jeffereson was born on this day, in 1742, and he went on to write the Declaration of Independence.  I’ve read that there were approximately 4,000 Americans killed in that conflict, or about 1.3 soldiers a day died to win almost an entire continent from the British.

The first battle of the Civil War began on this day, at Fort Sumter in South Carolina (Rebs won, no casualties) just 68 years after the end of the the American Revolution.  There would be over 600,000 Americans killed in that savage conflict, or about 411 men died a day, in a cataclysmic attempt to see if we could keep most of our portion of that continent.

One hundred and eight-five years later, after the end of the Civil War in April 1865, I arrived in Chicago (four days late, around noon) on April 30th, 1950.  This is not a historically significant date which I’m sure would be universally agreed upon by all concerned.  But thirteen years later, I was a Bat Mizvah boy on April 13th, now 45 years ago, and that still matters to me.

Which, in my typically convoluted fashion, brings me to today’s movie, since at least one major member of that film’s cast had a bar mitzvah, too.  But thirty-five years before mine, when that ancient coming-of-age ceremony was far more obscure in America than it is now, and Jews kept a much lower national profile.

The Magnificant Seven! (1960), one of the most revered Western-themed movies ever made, even though it was based on an equally revered Eastern film, The Seven Samurai (1954).  I saw it when it came out (the US film) when I was just ten and I haven’t ever recovered from that first fantastic experience of an avalanche of charisma pouring off the screen by already famous and soon-to-be-famous macho American and European actors.

Yul Brynner (Chris, the so-cool leader), Steve McQueen (Vin, deadly, casual and philosophic) lead the cast.  Without them, the movie would be one more so-so Western.  But their spontaneous compatible relationship and world-weary attitude gave the film a spin that put a romantic sheen on everyone associated with it. 

Horst Bucholz (Chico), a new and very young German actor, played the 7th man to join the ranks of the immortal Seven.  Oddly, he was selected by the director, John Sturges, to play a brash young Mexican who distained the very peasant farmers he signed on to protect from the hordes of Mexican bandits who ravaged there village repeatedly, even though he was one of them.  His view of life was that the intinerant and frequently impoverished western gunslingers were  muy magnifico!! and he could never be a “miserable cowardly farmer” until Killer Cowboy Philosophy Class 101 cured him of that notion. 

Plus one very hot (and extremely disrespectful to her justifiably concerned father) chick with a single long black braid and a “Do it to me NOW, baby!” attitude, who convinced him that grinding corn on your knees, under blazing sunshine, can be very sexy indeed.

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Katzman Cinema Komments # 12–3/29/08

Filed under: Humor,Katzman's 13 Vintage Movie Reviews,Katzman's Cinema Komments — Bob at 4:38 pm on Saturday, March 29, 2008

Miss Pettigrew Lives for a day (2008).  This movie is still playing, evidently an art house hit, meaning about 5,000 people have gone to see it in the few cities where it’s currently lighting up the screens.  And that’s a pity.

Lots of film reviewers have expressed their opinions about the virtues of this film, so why bother adding my obscure voice to theirs?  Well, I loved it, but not at first.  I responded to different aspects of the movie, and then to the wonderful cast.  It is truly a “Hollywood Movie” except they don’t make delicious kitsch like this anymore.

What struck me was the marvelous attention to detail that the set decorator, or art director, or whoever paid for everything devoted to this movie, to create a fantasy type of hyper-reality in (just barely) pre-war London.  

From the nightclub scenes to the lamps decorating an entranceway of an upper class house, to the great clothes everyone wore, this movie is a triple-scoop banana split for the eyes.  With syrup dripping everywhere.  Nothing in real life ever looked this good.

I went to art school for five years and am the son of an interior decorator who dragged me through the Chicago Merchandise Mart from the age of five to fourteen.  I must have absorbed something from the million hours I was involuntarily exposed to a myriad of color charts displaying thirty paint chips of very slightly different shades of red, or blue, or even blacks and whites. 

Color matters.  It affects mood and attitude.  People who appreciate the vast variations in colors are able to enjoy a significantly different, more vivid world than most people do.

In this so interesting recreation of another time and place that never really was, both the good guys and the bad guys are handsome, and perfectly integrated into their surroundings, like essential pieces of a mosaic. 

To me, a few of the players were like cartoons come to life, instead of flesh and blood actors, and that’s a compliment.  One in particular, in a supporting role is Shirley Henderson.  She is the cheating and especially petty and nasty grasping girlfriend of one of the romantic leads in the movie, the wealthy lingerie designer, Ciaran Hinds. 

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