Detective Agencies, Film Noir and Society’s Relationship to the Elderly: Maite Alberdi on Her Doc, The Mole Agent | Filmmaker Magazine

ChileThe Mole Agent

Responding to a help-wanted ad, 85-year-old Sergio Chamy agrees to infiltrate a Santiago nursing home as a “mole agent” to find out if a client’s mother is being abused. As a “spy” he uncovers a hidden world of frustration and loneliness. 

Maite Alberdi’s documentary borrows from film noir before evolving into an unsettling look at the lives of the elderly. It was developed with the help of the Sundance Institute Documentary Film Program and the Tribeca Film Institute. The Mole Agent screened at Sundance, and is available on demand starting September 1.

Filmmaker spoke with Alberdi from her office in Santiago.

Filmmaker: How did you start on this project?

Maite Alberdi: I wanted to make a documentary about private detectives. I’m a super fan of film noir and pulp fiction, and I realized that I never saw a documentary that centered around a detective agency. That was my starting point. I researched agencies, which is how I met Romulo, a retired police officer who had his own shop. He handled several “mole” cases. I worked with him a couple of times, and one of the cases involved the retirement home. I realized I wanted to shoot there.

Filmmaker: What did you do for Romulo?

Alberdi: I followed people. I would meet with clients, interview them, take notes. Then I had cases where parents wanted to follow their children, or I followed couples. A lot of things.

Romulo usually worked with the same mole, but he broke his hip and had to be replaced when we were ready to start shooting. Romulo put an ad in the paper to find and train a new mole.

Filmmaker: So in effect Romulo cast Sergio.

Alberdi: No, he wasn’t going to pick Sergio. I had to convince him. Romulo wanted someone else, someone I didn’t think was empathetic. The one Romulo liked was accompanied by his wife during the interview. And Romulo being super-machismo, I could say, “Maybe the wife will be there all the time. She could be a problem. That won’t happen with Sergio.”

Filmmaker: You were like a private eye yourself, investigating the investigators.

Alberdi: Exactly. I feel Sergio’s job is super-similar to my job as documentary filmmaker. Because when I’m shooting, I spend a lot of time, waiting, waiting, until I have the scene. Documentary filmmaking requires a lot of patience. Some days I never press “rec” because nothing interesting is happening. For Sergio it’s the same, he’s waiting, following people, waiting, waiting until he takes the pictures or until he gets the proof that he needs. 

I’m always spying on people. They know I’m there, that’s the big difference. I observe people without participating.

Filmmaker: How did you persuade the nursing home to agree to filming?

Alberdi: We said that I want to make a film about old age. I had previously released a film in Chile about older people, so it wasn’t weird that I wanted to shoot there. We said we would shoot both the good things and the bad things that happen there. So if we see something bad, we will show it. They signed an agreement to that effect. Then we said, if someone new arrives we want to focus on their experiences. That they allowed too. We introduced ourselves to the staff, and we started to shoot inside the retirement home for three weeks before Sergio arrives. When he came, we acted as if we didn’t know each other.

There was a real client, a real case that Sergio was working on. It was a family problem, someone wanted to prove to her brothers and sisters that their mom wasn’t okay there. Of course I started to realize that the nursing home was a good place, and then I felt super-guilty about lying to them. 

When we finished the film, they were the first people we showed it to. I said, “I lied to you, it was a film about a mole.” When they saw it, they loved it. They cried a lot. Now they are the best promoters of the film.

Filmmaker: One of the saddest aspects of The Mole Agent is that it shows how even with a good environment and a caring staff, the elderly have trouble dealing with isolation.

Alberdi: We always put the blame on the institution. Like with school, and my kids, it’s always the teacher’s fault. But I’m the one who’s not building a community there.

With retirement homes it’s the same. We put our old people there and forget them. We don’t work to make it a good place, a community. You can correct the problem by connecting them with families, integrating them into society. In Latin America it’s really common to isolate older people. It was the same with my previous film [The Grown-Ups, 2016], which was about people with Down Syndrome. Their parents put them in a special needs school, and fifty years later they’re still there.

Filmmaker: Your visual style is arresting. The Mole Agent settles into the rhythms of the elderly, and the imagery that reflects their feelings.  Can you talk about collaborating with cinematographer Pablo Valdés?

Alberdi: I have been working with Pablo for 10 years, we’ve made, I think, five films together. Here I really wanted to make a film noir, I wanted to shoot angles like a fiction film. We had some style references, but we ended up using the same techniques we always use.

We spend a lot of time with people until they get used to the camera. I would try to figure out which ones didn’t, so we wouldn’t shoot them. The people in the home have a routine that doesn’t change very much. They have lunch at the same time, for example. It’s like my life, I don’t change that much, I know my routine. So if I know, I can predict how things are going to happen, and at what time and place.

We spend a lot of time planning the frame. And then it’s wait. For example, that’s why I don’t use a handheld camera. Because we can never wait that long holding a camera. I would love to make a film with a more mobile camera, but we can’t move. 

Filmmaker: You said in an interview that reality is cyclical, and that you discover patterns within it.

Alberdi: I don’t make films about the past. I am shooting in the present in all of my films. When I’m shooting, I trust that if I wait, the things that I saw before will happen again. I don’t know when, but they are going to happen. So as I saw the other mole cases, in my mind I knew what kind of things Romulo was going to ask Sergio. So I knew what I am going to shoot.

I’m going to give you an example from the first film where I learned that. It’s called  A Lifeguard (El salvavidas, 2011). The main character thinks that the best lifeguard is the one who never needs to go into the water — he prevents accidents from happening. But he works at the most dangerous beach in Chile, where every summer someone drowns. My concern was, okay, I have a film about the lifeguard. He has to face whether or not to go into the water. And I need that in my narrative. But how can I shoot that I’m shooting a second character, or I’m running around someplace else?

Okay, I have to study the behavior at this beach. I spent a summer trying to understand the routines there. I studied the marine statistics. I learned that all of the people drowned at the same place between five and six in the evening. I didn’t know which day it was going to happen, but I knew the time and the place. So we spent all the summer in the same place at the same time waiting. We were there when it happened, and we have it in the film.

Filmmaker: But you’re still selecting, choosing as you go along. There is a scene in The Mole Agent you couldn’t have predicted, when a frightened woman breaks down into tears in front of Sergio.

Alberdi: In some ways you can predict, because you learn the world there. There were 50 women in the home, and we choose six to follow because we knew something was going to happen to them. That woman, for example, she’s saying her son didn’t come to visit. That’s something she said to other people, something she said to me. So I knew when Sergio introduced himself, she would say something similar.

Filmmaker: That moment reaches a universal truth, the fear everyone faces about growing old. It stripped away the rest of the narrative framework for me.

Alberdi: I believe that documentary filmmaking is like being a sculptor. You have this big rock that is reality, and it is big, because that place has a lot of people. You have to chisel until a figure appears. The decision about what you are taking out is more important than what you are keeping.

Filmmaker: You had 300 hours of material. How difficult was the editing process?

Alberdi: We had a lot of versions. For example that scene you mentioned, at the time I shot it I was living with Sergio in the home. I was living the same feelings as he did. I had the same emotional commitments. And I have to deal in the editing with how to balance the original case, and my emotional experiences. 

We shot the case, the client, all the details about her. In the beginning I thought I had to explain everything, and until the end what I was shooting, the narrative plot, was the case itself. In the editing room I found my heart was not in the case. Yeah, it was rational, it advanced the story. But my emotions were what was driving me forward. It was super-difficult to realize that, to say for example, “Okay, the client is not going to appear after all.”

It took me a year to remove the client and make the movie Sergio’s journey. Or, for example, the decision to put myself in a shot. That was an editing decision. We edited in the Netherlands and showed it to a lot of Dutch people who kept asking, “Is this really a documentary?” I didn’t want people to get lost, I preferred to put that in the beginning to make it easier for you to enter into the story.

Filmmaker: What’s your next project?

Alberdi: We are very early in shooting about a young couple. The man is fifty years old, he has Alzheimer’s, and it’s a love story about how the couple deals with that. Covid has made it terrible for them, and for me too because I can no longer shoot them. But she’s started shooting, and has brought a new life to the project. 

It’s frustrating for everybody, not just me. It’s difficult after working on this for so many years to try to adapt to new forms of exhibition. My mind needs to be more open.

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Facebook wants to know how it’s shaping the 2020 elections — researchers say it’s looking too late and in the wrong places (FB)

Summary List Placement

Facebook was first warned in late 2015 that Cambridge Analytica was misusing data illicitly harvested from millions of Americans in an attempt to sway the 2016 US elections.

It didn’t pull the plug on the firm’s access to user data until March 2018 after reporting from The Guardian turned the breach into a global scandal.

More than two years later — and barely two months before the deadline for votes to cast their ballots in the 2020 elections — Facebook has decided it wants to know more about how it impacts democracy, announcing last week that it would partner with 17 researchers to study the impact of Facebook and Instagram on voters’ attitudes and actions.

But researchers outside of the project are conflicted. While they praised Facebook for promising to ensure more transparency and independence than it has before, they also questioned why the company waited so long and just how much this study will really bring to light.

“Isn’t this a little bit too late?” Fadi Quran, a campaign director with nonprofit research group Avaaz, told Business Insider.

“Facebook has known now for a long time that there’s election interference, that malicious actors are using the platform to influence voters,” he said. “Why is this only happening now at such a late stage?” 

Facebook said it doesn’t “expect to publish any findings until mid-2021 at the earliest.” The company did not reply to a request for comment on this story.

Since the company is leaving it to the research team to decide which questions to ask and draw their own conclusions — a good thing — we don’t yet know much about what they hope to learn. In its initial announcement, Facebook said it’s curious about: “whether social media makes us more polarized as a society, or if it largely reflects the divisions that already exist; if it helps people to become better informed about politics, or less; or if it affects people’s attitudes towards government and democracy, including whether and how they vote.”

Facebook executives have reportedly known the answer to that first question — that the company’s algorithms do help polarize and radicalize people — and that they knowingly shut down efforts to fix the issue or even research it more.

But even setting that aside, researchers say they’ve already identified some potential shortcomings in the study.

“A lot of the focus of this work is very much about how honest players are using these systems,” Laura Edelson, a researcher who studies political ads and misinformation at New York University, told Business Insider.

“Where I’m concerned is that they’re almost exclusively not looking at the ways that things are going wrong, and that’s where I wish this was going further,” she added.

Quran echoed that assessment, saying: “One big thing that they’re going to miss by not looking more deeply at these malicious actors, and just by the design, is the scale of content that’s been created by these actors and that’s influencing public opinion.”

A long list of research and media reports have documented Facebook’s struggles to effectively keep political misinformation off its platform — let alone misleading health claims, which despite Facebook’s more aggressive approach, still racked up four times as many views as posts from sites pushing accurate information, according to Avaaz. 

But political information is much more nuanced and constantly evolving, and even in what seem to be clear-cut cases, Facebook has, according to reports, at times incorrectly enforced its own policies or bent over backward to avoid possible political backlash.

Quran and Edelson both worried that Facebook’s election study may not capture the full impact of aspects of the platform like its algorithms, billions of fake accounts, or private groups.

“You find what you go and you look for,” Edelson said. “The great problem of elections on Facebook is not how the honest actors are working within the system.”

Quran also said, though it’s too early say this will happen for sure, that because it’s Facebook asking users directly within their apps to join the study, sometimes in exchange for payment, it risks inadvertently screening out people who are distrustful of the company to begin with.

“We’re already seeing posts on different groups that share disinformation telling people: ‘Don’t participate in the study, this is a Facebook conspiracy'” to spy on users or keep Republicans off the platform ahead of the election, he said. “What this could lead to, potentially, is that the people most impacted by disinformation are not even part of the study.”

In a best-case scenario, Edelson said the researchers could learn valuable information about how our existing understanding of elections maps onto the digital world. Quran said the study could even serve as an “information ecosystem impact assessment,” similar to environmental impact studies, that would help Facebook understand how changes it could make might impact the democratic process.

But both were skeptical that Facebook would make major changes based on this study or the 2020 elections more broadly. And Quran warned that, despite Facebook’s efforts to make the study independent, people shouldn’t take the study as definitive or allow it to become a “stamp of approval.”

It took Facebook nearly four years from when it learned about Cambridge Analytica to identify the tens of thousands of apps that were also misusing data. And though it just published the results of its first independent civil rights audit, the company has made few commitments to implement any of the auditors’ recommendations.

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Christopher Nolan’s new film ‘Tenet’: release date, plot details, cast and everything we know so far

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Christopher Nolan had described Tenet, the follow-up to his 2017 war epic Dunkirk, as an “event film” – which seems to be a fitting description for every one of his mind-bending sci-fi thrillers to date.

From Interstellar and Inception to the Dark Knight trilogy, bigger is always better and Nolan rarely fails to deliver unparalleled thrills. But he’s a cryptic filmmaker, keeping as many details as possible under wraps until the very last moment.

Ahead of the upcoming release, we’ve gathered all released information about what’s set to be the most gripping release of the summer.

Tenet release date: when is the film in cinemas?

Tenet will premiere in cinemas in over 70 countries across the world on August 26 after being pushed back multiple times from its initial release date of 17 July, due to the ongoing crisis.

A limited US release will then follow on September 2, expanding into more cinemas across the States as they reopen after the pandemic.

The film will reportedly be debuting in IMAX format. The prologue started playing ahead of selected The Rise of Skywalker screenings in December 2019.

This year’s biggest films were shot with #IMAX cameras. Which ones are you most excited to experience in IMAX theatres? pic.twitter.com/viLifgt5RP

— IMAX (@IMAX) February 5, 2020

The film has also been confirmed to be rated 12A in the UK by the BBFC (British Board of Film Classification). It was originally advised to be a 15, but the rating was lowered after “making small changes to one scene to remove shots of a man kicking a woman”.

Tenet trailer: is there a trailer yet?

There is! The second trailer for Nolan’s latest has arrived after premiering on Fortnite, and it confirms that we’re in for one hell of a trip.

Although remaining relatively vague, it confirms that John David Washington is a secret agent tasked with stopping World War Three. Still, it looks set to be Nolan’s most mysterious project since Inception – packed with twists and turns.

Check out the new trailer below.

It follows the first trailer which was released online in December 2019, after playing exclusively in cinemas ahead of Fast & Furious spin-off Hobbs & Shaw.

Tenet cast: who is in it?

Nolan reunites with a couple of longtime collaborators on Tenet, including Michael Caine (The Dark Knight) and Kenneth Branagh (Dunkirk).

Tenet
Robert Pattinson and John David Washington in Tenet. Credit: Warner Bros.

But it’s also a showcase of new faces for the director – John David Washington () leads the film, and is joined by Robert Pattinson (styled with Nolan’s very own signature haircut), Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Elizabeth Debicki, Clémence Poesy, Himesh Patel (Yesterday), and Dimple Kapadia.

Tenet plot: what is the new film about?

As ever, specifics are being withheld – but the film follows a secret agent (Washington’s character, still unnamed) tasked with preventing World War III. The extra twist, making it recognisably Nolan, is that it focuses on something called “time inversion”.

An official synopsis confirms: “John David Washington is the new protagonist in Christopher Nolan’s original sci-fi action spectacle Tenet. Armed with only one word – Tenet – and fighting for the survival of the entire world, the Protagonist journeys through a twilight world of international espionage on a mission that will unfold in something beyond real time. Not time travel. Inversion.”

Christopher Nolan Tenet John David Washington
John David Washington in ‘Tenet’. Credit: Warner Bros

A clue to the central narrative of the film may lie in history. The Sator Square (or Rotas Square) is a word square containing a five-word Latin palindrome. It contains five words (the central word being “Tenet”) made up of 25 letters and reads exactly the same forwards as it does backwards. It can be found across Europe, and has been located on different buildings, walls and urban dwellings as early as 79AD. The most famous version is in Oppede, France. One likely translation of the Square is “The farmer Arepo has [as] works wheels [a plough]”.

Sator Square
The Sator Square at Oppède, France. Credit Getty

No, you’re right, that doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. But the symmetrical nature of the square could hint at the time-travel structure of Nolan’s new movie. Could, perhaps, the film revolve around a single point in time, or even feature a narrative that repeats itself backwards in the second half of the story?

Washington teased new plot details in an interview with Total Film. “It’s obviously genre-bending,” the actor said. “It’s its own genre: it’s the Nolan genre.”

Pattinson added, “There’s a point where you’re like, it’s kind of cool, and it becomes so insane that it’s almost frightening.

“I sound like such a moron talking about this stuff. Because on top of the, uh – how would I even say this? Quite advanced theoretical physics; I think I’m allowed to say that – it’s just got a billion different ways to read it.”

He adds: “It’s so complicated; if it wasn’t Chris Nolan doing it, you’d be like, ‘This is an impossible movie.’”

, Washington revealed that Tenet and Inception are “related” in some way, confirming long-held rumours that the films are connected.

One thing’s for certain though, even if the plot remains somewhat under wraps – Tenet has a runtime of 149 minutes and 59 seconds. This makes the film one of Nolan’s shortest, 20 minutes shorter than Interstellar, and just one minute longer than Inception.

Where was Tenet filmed?

Rarely one for minimalism, Nolan took his team around the world to shoot the film in seven countries – Denmark, Estonia, India, Italy, Norway, the UK and the US. With a budget of $205 million, making this his second most expensive film after The Dark Knight Rises. No expenses were spared, it seems…

Christopher Nolan Tenet John David Washington Elizabeth Debicki
Elizabeth Debicki and John David Washington in Tenet. Credit: Warner Bros.

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The Best Celebrity Poker Players In Hollywood – Poker News

From all my years playing in high-stakes cash games and rounding several Hollywood home games I often get asked the question, “Who is the best celebrity poker player you’ve ever played with?” And although I almost always avoid answering this question with any real detail, today is the day that I’m finally gonna spill a big fat can of Hollywood beans!

Before I start naming names, we need to establish some rules. First off, how do we define a “Hollywood Celebrity” who I have played poker with? Well, there is the obvious record of A-listers who have played in the games from time to time, but in Hollywood, celebrity does not necessarily mean the person has to be an actor, rock star, or sporting idol. Tinseltown also celebrates the movie mogul producers, tabloid headline makers, run-amok trust fund types, billionaires, captains of industry, and frankly, anyone who can get seated on the patio at the Ivey in Beverly Hills when there are no reservations left, or be ushered past the lines and straight to the VIP bottle service at the hottest clubs in town.

There’s a ton of sucking up to be done in Hollywood and plenty of people are puckering up 24 hours a day, seven days a week with the intention of kissing the right person’s ass. If you really want to know who the hottest celebs are in Hollywood, just follow the paparazzi around… they know all the dirt. But as far as poker playing celebs, you’ve come to the right source.

I’ll be eliminating two celebs from the list due to what I would call “over qualification.” If you’ve read my book or my previous columns, you can probably guess one of the celebs being eliminated is my former partner in crime, Tobey Maguire. Why? I consider Tobey to be far beyond the level of a casual or even passionate Hollywood celeb poker player. I’ve played in many big cash games with some of the top pros in the world from the famous to the infamous, and Spider Man can hold his own with pretty much anyone.

Secondly, I am eliminating Jennifer Tilly, simply because I feel she has now officially become more of a “poker personality” than an actor. Her core business these days seems to be poker related, whereas none of the other celebs on my list can make such a bold claim.

My primary criteria for this list is that I have had to have played with these players multiple times in a serious cash game setting. While I’ve played in tournaments and/or enjoyed conversing about poker with players such as Jason Alexander, Ray Romano, or Don Cheadle, without tangling in a serious cash game I wouldn’t have enough information on their ability to make a fair assessment of overall skill.

I could have easily done a top 10, but for the sake of time and space, I kept it to five. Some honorable mentions would definitely include actor Hank Azaria, tennis legend Pete Sampras, and film director Steve Brill.

James WoodsNo. 5 James Woods

Coming in at no. five is Oscar-nominated thespian James Woods. Woods was nominated for two Academy Awards, one for Best Actor for his work in Oliver Stone’s Salvador and for Best Supporting Actor for Rob Reiner’s Ghosts of Mississippi. He is the recipient of two Primetime Emmy Awards for the television movies Promise and My Name Is Bill W. My two favorite Woods performances would be his role in Contact alongside Jody Foster as the skeptical Michael Kitz and of course his role as the scumbag hustler/pimp, Lester Diamond in Scorsese’s masterpiece, Casino opposite Sharon Stone, Robert De Niro, and Joe Pesci. I’ve spent an ample time at the table with Jimmy. He is a fun, super tight, yet very skilled player to play against.

Woods went to MIT, and is probably the most intelligent celebrity I’ve spent time with on the felt. The one thing about Woods that makes him tough to play with is his uncanny ability for table talk. Woods can talk your ear off when you are in the middle of a decision. I’ve seen him distract players through conversation causing them to make horrible plays. All the while, his own choices at the table are very always methodical and well-executed.

One thing that makes James Woods much like any other poker player is his passion for telling bad beat stories. One time I was walking through the Bellagio and he spotted me from the center of the poker room and flagged me down. After making his way through a sea of tables and fans who wanted his autograph, he proceeded to share about 30 minutes’ worth of bad beat stories from his last two hours at the table. But hearing James Woods share a bad beat story is decidedly much more entertaining than listening to your average rent-grinding pal who just lost his lunch money. The money means nothing to Jimmy, but winning means everything… and he’s a formidable opponent.

Todd PhillipsNo. 4 Todd Philips

My number no. 4 pick is acclaimed writer/director Todd Phillips. Todd is probably one of the hottest directors in Hollywood right now. We remember him for movies like Old School and Road Trip, but it was the incredible gamble he took when making The Hangover that really put him on the map. Todd gave up a $7 million dollar director’s fee in order to have casting control and the freedom to make a R-rated comedy. The result was the largest R-rated comedy in movie history and a more than $100 million dollar payout for Todd. If that wasn’t enough, he recently directed the no. one rated-R film of all time with The Joker starring Joaquin Phoenix, which has grossed over $1 billion.

I’ve played with Todd for years, starting back in my Hollywood Park days when he would drop by from time to time to play pot-limit. Much like the way Todd has taken strategic gambles in his career, he does the same at the poker table. He is not scared of a huge bluff or even slow playing a big hand if the circumstances are in line for a big payout. Todd was one of the founding members of our original game (that the film Molly’s Game was based on, and that my book Billion Dollar Hollywood Heist is about). It was during the run of our game that he also finished fifth in the 2005 WPT Legends of Poker championship event, bringing him a cool $250,000 cash along with some serious home game bragging rights. Todd’s biggest weapon at the table is his incredible sense of humor. He is so damn funny that he can make a player forget they are playing for tons of money.

Ben AffleckNo. 3 Ben Affleck

In terms of legitimate A-list movie stars, Affleck is definitely the best aside from Tobey Maguire. Affleck’s antics at the poker table have been widely reported. We know he has been banned from casinos for counting cards at the blackjack table, and he too has a legit tournament cash from winning $356,000 and the title for the 2004 California State Poker Championship held at the Commerce.

To those who feel that one or two cashes isn’t that much to write home about, consider this. Guys like Affleck and Phillips don’t play tournaments nearly as often as the average semi pro, so their cash percentage by comparison is impressive. I was there when Ben was learning the game and getting schooled by cash pros like Gabe Thaler, up to his first high-stakes private games in Beverly Hills with myself, Pete Sampras, Asher Dan, and Rick Fox. But it wasn’t until Ben became a regular in my game with Tobey that he became a serious threat at the table. I don’t think Ben picked up the game as quickly Tobey did, but over time he has steadily become one of the most feared actors to sit down at the table. He’s not afraid to make the big call or the big bluff and from what I’ve seen, he’s been more right than wrong when lots of money was on the line. Ben was definitely a winner in our game.

Nick CassavetesNo. 2 Nick Cassavetes

For those of you who don’t know who Nick Cassavetes is, let me start be explaining that this guy hails from pure Hollywood royalty. His mother was legendary actress Gena Rowlands and his father was actor and legendary film director John Cassavetes, the guy who basically invented the “independent” film genre by casting a rotating group of his close friends into personally financed films including his wife, Peter Falk, Ben Gazzara, and Seymour Cassel. Much like his father, Nick’s reputation as a director has garnered him much praise from the film community. He directed The Notebook which is probably one of the most famous romantic films of all time, but it was Nick’s grittier films that gave him a daring reputation as a film maker. This was personified in the TV series Entourage when Cassavetes played himself and pushed Vincent Chase to do his own dangerous life-threatening stunts. In the same series, there were scenes featuring Nick as well as Rick Salomon playing poker on set, which is pulled straight from real life.

Aside from what we know as “Molly’s Game,” the biggest game in town was always held at Nick’s house and is still going off every week to this day. While Nick’s game didn’t play quite as big as our main game, it was huge and always a good time. Nick has a very commanding presence, standing six-foot-six with a menacing giant skull and crossbones tattoo across his chest. Nick is not afraid to gamble and he absolutely hates to lose! He once won a big prop bet with Tobey who bet him he couldn’t get six-pack abs in a short amount of time. Nick pulled his shirt off right at the table in front of everyone and Tobey was forced to admit defeat.

Nick’s personality is such that many players don’t like to play big hands with him for fear of upsetting him. He’s not the kind of guy you want to see pissed. I never played soft against Nick but we always liked each other, even though my style of play put me on the second tier of his weekly invite list. One time, Nick and I chopped up Brandon Davis before the game started in a classic two on one hustle that I will never forget.

Rick SalomonNo. 1 Rick Salomon

Beyond the shadow of a doubt Rick Salomon takes the top spot on my list. He was responsible for putting the final nail in my coffin when I lost a million dollars in one night, a scene more-or-less recreated in the movie by Harland Eustice, the character based on me.

Rick is, of course, the guy who filmed the underground sex tape of himself and Paris Hilton titled One Night In Paris, but that’s not the half of it. He’s also been married to Shannon Doherty of Beverly Hills 90210 and Charmed fame, and was also famously married and divorced from Pam Anderson, not once, but twice! The guy is affectionately called “Scum” by his friends. He’s famous for being a bad boy, but known by the Hollywood A-listers and elites for being a man of his word. If you shake Rick’s hand over any amount of money, it’s just as good as signing a contract in blood. And that is something you rarely see in Tinseltown these days.

His wild drug antics are also the stuff of legend. Hell, the night he took me down he had done more cocaine in 10 minutes than I had ever seen in my life up to that point. But somewhere along the line, Rick said to himself, “If I ever smoke crack again, I’m checking myself into rehab for a year.” And that’s exactly what he did. If you’ve read my book and think I’ve lived a colorful life, I promise you… the book Rick Salomon could write would be like an action-packed roller coaster thrill ride into the world of Hollywood and high-stakes gambling. The dude has no fear, and when his discipline is on go mode, Rick is as skilled as any cash pro I’ve ever met.

Andy Beal, the billionaire banker who took on the Corporation for millions of dollars and was chronicled in the book The Professor, The Banker And The Suicide King by Michael Craig, reportedly lost $40 million to Rick, causing Pam to sue to him for her share. It’s all true, but it isn’t even half the story behind Salomon’s true tales at the table! Maybe one day he will let me share the rest of his mind-blowing exploits… but until then, you will have to trust me when I tell you, Rick Salomon is hands down the best Hollywood celeb I’ve ever played against.

In my next column, I’ll be spinning tales about the top 5 WORST celebrity poker players I’ve ever played with! You might be surprised and shocked to see the names on that list! Trust me, you won’t want to miss it. Be sure to check out all of my Card Player supplement videos at my KardSharp website.

And remember… stay sharp! Stay Kardsharp!

Houston Curtis Houston Curtis, founder of KardSharp.com and author of Billion Dollar Hollywood Heist has lived a successful double life as both a producer and card mechanic for nearly 30 years. His credits include executive producing gambling related TV shows such as The Ultimate Blackjack Tour on CBS, The Aruba Poker Classic on GSN and pioneering the poker instructional DVD genre with titles featuring poker champion Phil Hellmuth.

Barred for life from Las Vegas Golden Nugget for “excessive winning” at blackjack, Houston is one of the world’s most successful card mechanics and sleight-of-hand artists of the modern era. Curtis, who rarely plays in tournaments, won a 2004 Legends of Poker no-limit hold’em championship event besting Scotty Nguyen heads-up at the final table before going on to co-found the elite Hollywood poker ring that inspired Aaron Sorkin’s Academy Award-nominated film Molly’s Game.

Curtis resides in Phoenix, Arizona where in addition to running a production company and independent record label, he is also a private gaming/casino protection consultant to clients across the globe seeking insight into master level card cheating tactics via advanced sleight-of-hand technique. To reach Houston for a speaking engagement, consulting or production services send email to stacked@Kardsharp.com.

All views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Card Player.

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RevolutionNow: Nigerians protest in Abuja, ask for better governance | Legit TV

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RevolutionNow: Nigerians protest in Abuja, ask for better governance | Legit TV
Nigerians have taken to streets of Abuja to protest against current killings in the country and demand for better governance.

This is coming in continuation of the revolutionnow now protest started by Omoyele Sowore exactly one year ago.

Current affairs – Nigeria News | Legit TV
The latest Africa and Nigeria News on Legit TV!
Daily current affairs and crime news. Issues of public concern and statements of opinion leaders. Political news, comments, and scandals.
The views of experts and street interviews of ordinary citizens of Nigeria. Breaking news and updates.
What’s troubling people in Africa? And what news stories are the most discussed in Nigeria today?
Save this playlist to be the first who gets the answers!

Naija lifestyle | Legit TV
This playlist contains videos under the heading “Naija LifeStyle”.
Here you can find the latest Nigeria entertainment news.
Do you like watching people answering tricky questions in the street interviews?
Are you interested in gossip news? Do you want to know more about public and personal lives of Nigerian music artists, actors, and other famous people? Are you a music fan who wants to be the first to watch the newest music videos of Nigerian pop-stars and rock-bands?
If at least one of your answers is “yes”, save this playlist and have fun!

Special projects | Legit TV
This playlist contains videos under the heading “Special projects” on Legit TV
Hilarious comedy videos about life in Nigeria.
Nigerian opinions on politics. Overviews of big political conflicts and social problems that concern the society.
Success stories of self-made men and women. Exclusive interviews with public figures and your favorite stars. And amazing life stories of unusual and talented Nigerians which can inspire you.

Save this playlist to get interesting content every day!

Nigeria Top List | Legit TV
In this playlist, we’ve collected videos that can broaden your horizons.
The team of Legit TV regularly chooses top 5 interesting facts on different topics related to Africa.
What were the biggest Africa’s scandals of the year? Who are the best football players in Nigeria? What interesting facts should you know about the Igbo people?
Do you have the answers to these questions?
Watch our top lists to stay on top of Nigeria entertainment news and learn more about Africa and Africans!

Star Chat | Legit TV
Are you looking for the latest news about famous Nigerians? Do you want to become closer to your favorite Nigerian celebrities? Do you want to watch only the best interviews with your favorite stars?
Whatever your idols are doing, you will find it in this playlist.
Also, you can be the first to know hot gossips, always stay on top of the biggest celebrity scandals and details of their personal lives.
Save this playlist and get access to all Nigerian showbiz and entertainment news you are interested in.

Sports news | Legit TV
Do you want to enjoy updates on international sports events and the most important sports news of Nigeria? Watching this playlist, you can get the best sports coverage.
The Legit TV team is bringing you the latest Nigerian and international sports news, gossips, and interviews.
Watch football highlights and reviews of premier league football matches. Be the first to know boxing news and fights results. And, of course, enjoy vox-pop interviews of other passionate sports fans.
___
Do you want to know more about Nigeria breaking news?
Connect with Legit TV!
Visit Legit TV Site: https://www.legit.ng/
Follow Legit TV on Twitter: https://twitter.com/legitngnews
Follow Legit TV on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/naijcom/
Follow Legit TV on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/legit.ng/

#LegitTV #naijcomtv #Legit #nigerianews

This content was originally published here.

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My favourite film aged 12: Gold | Film | The Guardian

The quick answer is: “No.” The longer answer is that it depends on your expectations. If you feel certain you are about to watch an execrable film, you will be pleasantly surprised: Gold is a perfectly serviceable thriller, with some tense moments and a genuinely exciting climax in the flooded mine at Pinewood.

One of the reasons the film isn’t as shit as it should be is that it was made, in no small part, by members of the James Bond team. Peter Hunt directs – he was editor of the early Bonds and directed On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. John Glen, later to direct five Bonds, edits and directs the second unit. The production designer is Syd Cain, who did From Russia With Love, OHMSS and Live and Let Die. Those guys are responsible for making two men and a dinghy floating around at Pinewood seem an exciting climax.

Then there’s Roger’s character, Rod Slater, a maverick, woman-chasing commitment-phobe ultimately prepared to die to save the mine (and its miners), which he almost does. There’s a suggestion a genuine relationship may be on the cards with Terry Steyner (York), whose evil husband has conveniently died a few minutes earlier and who is on hand to look after Rod in an ambulance.

It’s definitely one of Roger’s best non-007 performances. This was 1974, so he hadn’t established his Bond persona. Hunt pushes him to be as serious as possible. I certainly believe he’s a miner. And that he’s younger than his 46 years – he’s in good shape, the hair’s more tousled than usual and there’s a bit more sweat than Bond. And he gets quite badly injured at the end. Or at least his arms do.

My sense is that York fought hard to be more than just another Bond girl, making her character as strong as possible. There’s a great scene where she flies Moore back to the stricken mine in her plane (she’s rich) and he accuses her of being involved in the conspiracy. She’s outraged: she won’t take any shit from Roger. As it happens, she is involved in the conspiracy, but she doesn’t know that yet.

And the villain? We’re very much in the “speak quickly with a slight smile” stage of Sir John Gielgud’s film career but there’s a wonderful moment where one of the sub-villains tells him they’ve commissioned a survey that shows just how close the mine is to water but have cleverly replaced every mention of the word “water” with the word “gold”.

“Ingenious”, says Gielgud, without the smile.

There’s also the brilliantly intrusive score by Elmer Bernstein, a crucial reason the action sequences are so tense and exciting. The song Jimmy Helms belts at the start and the end is magnificently absurd too.

I truly think this is Roger’s best non-Bond. Others tout The Man Who Haunted Himself (1971), in which Roger does actually have to do a fair bit of acting, playing a good guy and his evil doppelganger. That probably is his best performance. At the end of his life, knighted, Sir Roger certainly thought so. But I think Gold is the better film. The bar isn’t high, but Gold is a perfectly enjoyable romp one could happily sit through, some warm self-isolated evening.

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Nigeria Lieutenant in US Navy reveals how he kept $48million for the govt | Legit TV

News recently made the rounds about a Nigerian/American US Navy officer who was placed in charge of disbursing around $45 million at Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti. The man’s name is Lieutenant Victor Agunbiade. In this interview with Legit.ng’s Abisola Alawode, he discusses the reason why he left Nigeria, balancing family and work as well as how he did not give in to temptations at his job.

Current affairs – Nigeria News | Legit TV
The latest Africa and Nigeria News on Legit TV!
Daily current affairs and crime news. Issues of public concern and statements of opinion leaders. Political news, comments, and scandals.
The views of experts and street interviews of ordinary citizens of Nigeria. Breaking news and updates.
What’s troubling people in Africa? And what news stories are the most discussed in Nigeria today?
Save this playlist to be the first who gets the answers!

Naija lifestyle | Legit TV
This playlist contains videos under the heading “Naija LifeStyle”.
Here you can find the latest Nigeria entertainment news.
Do you like watching people answering tricky questions in the street interviews?
Are you interested in gossip news? Do you want to know more about public and personal lives of Nigerian music artists, actors, and other famous people? Are you a music fan who wants to be the first to watch the newest music videos of Nigerian pop-stars and rock-bands?
If at least one of your answers is “yes”, save this playlist and have fun!

Special projects | Legit TV
This playlist contains videos under the heading “Special projects” on Legit TV
Hilarious comedy videos about life in Nigeria.
Nigerian opinions on politics. Overviews of big political conflicts and social problems that concern the society.
Success stories of self-made men and women. Exclusive interviews with public figures and your favorite stars. And amazing life stories of unusual and talented Nigerians which can inspire you.

Save this playlist to get interesting content every day!

Nigeria Top List | Legit TV
In this playlist, we’ve collected videos that can broaden your horizons.
The team of Legit TV regularly chooses top 5 interesting facts on different topics related to Africa.
What were the biggest Africa’s scandals of the year? Who are the best football players in Nigeria? What interesting facts should you know about the Igbo people?
Do you have the answers to these questions?
Watch our top lists to stay on top of Nigeria entertainment news and learn more about Africa and Africans!

Star Chat | Legit TV
Are you looking for the latest news about famous Nigerians? Do you want to become closer to your favorite Nigerian celebrities? Do you want to watch only the best interviews with your favorite stars?
Whatever your idols are doing, you will find it in this playlist.
Also, you can be the first to know hot gossips, always stay on top of the biggest celebrity scandals and details of their personal lives.
Save this playlist and get access to all Nigerian showbiz and entertainment news you are interested in.

Sports news | Legit TV
Do you want to enjoy updates on international sports events and the most important sports news of Nigeria? Watching this playlist, you can get the best sports coverage.
The Legit TV team is bringing you the latest Nigerian and international sports news, gossips, and interviews.
Watch football highlights and reviews of premier league football matches. Be the first to know boxing news and fights results. And, of course, enjoy vox-pop interviews of other passionate sports fans.
___
Do you want to know more about Nigeria breaking news?
Connect with Legit TV!
Visit Legit TV Site: https://www.legit.ng/
Follow Legit TV on Twitter: https://twitter.com/legitngnews
Follow Legit TV on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/naijcom/
Follow Legit TV on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/legit.ng/

#LegitTV #naijcomtv #Legit #nigerianews

This content was originally published here.

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Perspective | It’s time we stopped with the phrase “gifted and talented”

By Stephanie Sprenger
@mommyforreal

Last week, I saw two toddlers wearing “Genius” T-shirts. When I saw the first one, I smiled, as I undeniably have a soft spot for ironic baby clothing. But when just hours later the second “genius” came waddling along, it gave me pause. I know these clever shirts proclaiming that our children are “brave like Daddy” or “sassy like Mommy” are just supposed to be funny and cute. Yet I feel slightly troubled by what lies under the surface of our attempts to label our children with myriad superlatives.

The “Genius” one left a distinctly bad taste in my mouth, and after a few days of pondering, I realized why. It was a tiny incarnation of the “gifted and talented” program, which is a concept I’ve been struggling with as a parent.

When I was in 5th grade, I was selected to participate in TAG (yes, talented and gifted), a program that took place during two hours of every Friday afternoon. I recall playing challenging brain games that required teamwork and higher-level questioning, completing independent study projects, on one occasion making a collage about photography (hmmm), and then trotting merrily back to class with my other above-average classmates.

I moved the following year, and was placed in a similar program with a different name: Alpha. Was it, shudder, because we were “alpha students?” It was my first and last meeting. Although I carried straight A’s—aside from my B in P.E.—after a snide comment from one of my fellow Alpha students, I chose never again to participate in a gifted and talented program.

Over the years, I’ve heard it referred to as ULE—Unique Learning Experience—and Exceptional Learners, but where I live now it’s straight up “GT—gifted and talented.” My experience with GT as a parent of non-GT students has been eye-opening.

When my oldest daughter, now 13, was in Montessori preschool, the staff provided a parent meeting where we could ask questions about kindergarten and elementary school options. Hands shot up all around the room: “Tell us more about the GT programs in the district.” “When can we test for GT?” Aside from the occasional inquiry about bilingual education programs, it was pretty much the same: How do we get into the GT program?

My husband and I raised our eyebrows at each other. Who knew that all this time our precocious little darling had been surrounded by entirely gifted students? Over the next few years, acquaintances would ask me when I was getting my daughter tested for GT. “I’m not,” I usually replied simply. The high-pressure program was not something I wanted for my child, who now is a 4.0 honor roll student in middle school. To be honest, I wasn’t really sure she qualified for GT; her grades have much more to do with her personality and determination. But the entire operation left a bad taste in my mouth.

Semantics matter to me, perhaps more than most people. Don’t even get me started on my hang-ups about the word “blessed.” To me, being “gifted and talented” sounds a whole lot like being bestowed with a well, gift, that others were not granted. It’s pretentious, and slightly obnoxious.

However, the value of these programs is undeniable. There are students whose needs are not being met in a one-size-fits-all curriculum: a multitude, and not just the above average variety. It is difficult to comprehend the challenge of teachers who must constantly adapt their learning experience to the diverse group of students they teach. These programs are absolutely essential and provide a much-needed, enriching, stimulating education for the kids who are becoming bored in their classrooms, who are potentially even causing problems because they aren’t being challenged.

The future of New York City’s public gifted and talented programming is now in the spotlight, thanks to the mayor-appointed School Diversity Advisory Group’s recommendation that the existing GT programs be replaced by magnet schools. A group of gifted education teachers have instead called for an overhaul and reform of the system instead of elimination, which they hope may affect other GT programs around the country. But perhaps there is more fundamental reform required than altering the selection process and addressing the issues of economic privilege and racial segregation.

Perhaps what we really need to address is what we call these programs and the way parents conceive of them. The pressure behind TAG, including the language we use to describe it, needs to change. So too the frenetic rush to test our kids, not necessarily because we want to accommodate their learning style, but because of the proclamation that they are gifted and talented and therefore destined for a higher purpose, will lead to a breeding ground of stress, anxiety, and self-esteem issues. And what does it do to the kids who are excluded from this elite group?

I often cringe when I hear someone counter the name of these kind of programs with the sentiment that “All kids are gifted and talented in their own way.” Because it sounds so trite—the equivalent of a participation award. And yet. At the risk of revealing myself as a special snowflake kind of person, I do believe all children are gifted and talented. Whether they are athletic, artistic, deeply empathetic, or bold leaders, or simply themselves. Platitudes be damned, they are all gifted and talented in their own way.

It’s time to change the labels of these advanced or specialized learning classrooms to reflect that. Our children are paying attention, and they can absolutely read between the lines. What kind of message do we want to send them?

Stephanie is a writer, mother of two girls, early childhood educator and music therapist, and Executive Producer of Listen To Your Mother Denver and Boulder.

Image: an actual shirt that was given to one of our editor’s children.

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‘Where to buy a good pork pie now?’ – What you had to say about closure of popular city centre butchers – CoventryLive

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A popular butchers in Coventry city centre has rolled down its shutters for the final time – and CoventryLive readers have been left heartbroken.

The news that Walter Smith butchers had closed broke this week, ending its 35-year plus presence in the city.

The butchers, located in the Bull Yard, closed on December 28, along with two others in the Midlands chain – Denby and West Bromwich.

A post on the Walter Smith Facebook page read: “We are very sad to announce the closure of our Denby, West Bromwich and Coventry shops.

“Thank you so much to all of our loyal customers for your support over the years.

“We look forward to seeing you in one of our remaining 11 shops and wish you all a very happy and healthy 2020.”

You can see what people had to say about the news below.

What you had to say…

Kelly Harding said: “A shame. Good service and great prices.”

Hardeep Sihota said: “Supermarkets have gradually killed the high street stores with cheaper prices and late night or 24 hour openings.”

Walter Smith butchers.

Mel Jones said: “Oh no I buy from here and I used to go here with my mum and my nan my nan is no longer with use and it always bringed back memories when I go in there so sad to see yet anther good shop going.”

David Price said: “Anyone know where to buy a good pork pie now?”

Lorraine Pritchard said: “Arh the lovely friendly staff had worked there years! All the best to them.”

Anna-kenine Adams said: “When my boys was younger and we would go town the boys always went there to get what they would call a big fat man sandwich always got a good deal there and lovely staff.”

Alison Broomfield said: “I’m sadly not surprised due to not many shoppers in the city centre & online shopping. could see this happening years ago.”

Karen Ward said: “What a shame lovely butchers.”

Amanpal Sangha said: “Sad times but all good and great things come to an end loved the meat.”

Amanda Lovett said: “Gutted. My favourite pork pies.”

Lee Brock said: “That’s what happens when not enough people use the shop. We can’t all moan about it closing when people didn’t shop there. And from what I’ve heard from someone who worked there, the whole business is becoming a bit short on profits.”

Janet Thompson said: “I wondered why it wasn’t open Saturday afternoon. Seemed strange.”

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Public Transportation Isn’t Always The Best Or The Cheapest Option – Your Mileage May Vary

Sharon and I are big fans of public transportation. For most large cities in the world, it’s one of the cheapest and quickest ways to get from an airport to the city center. Heck, when we were in Frankfurt, we got from our hotel to the subway to the airport in less than twenty minutes. When visiting London, we’ve learned that there are several options other than the “express train” to get from the airport to the city.

The last time we stayed in San Francisco, we were at the Palace Hotel and it was right across the street from a BART station. It was easy to get there from SFO and back to OAK for our departing flight. For this visit, I picked a hotel that was reasonably close to the Powell BART station, figuring that would be the cheapest and best way for us to get into the city. Turns out I was wrong.

When we arrived at the BART station at San Francisco Airport, we had to buy tickets to the city. The fare to the Powell St. Station was $9.65 if we had a Clipper card and $10.15 if we chose to get a paper ticket. The fee for a new Clipper card is $3. Since we were planning on using the BART to get around for most of our trip, we each purchased cards, so our OOP cost was $12.65.

Our flight home was leaving SFO at 9:40 on Sunday morning. One little problem. The BART trains don’t start running until 8AM on Sundays.

Oops!

We ended up having to take a Lyft to the airport. Since I had already registered my Sapphire Reserve with Lyft, we got a 15% discount on our ride with Lyft Pink. I also received 10x Ultimate Rewards, 2x Delta SkyMiles for a ride to the airport and 3x Hilton Honors points for our trip.

I paid $23.63 for our trip to the airport and it only took us 20 minutes to get there.  Our trip to our hotel had taken well over an hour. With Lyft, we were picked up at our hotel and dropped off at our terminal instead of having to walk to the BART station from the hotel and take the AirTrain from the BART station once arriving at SFO.

I paid $25 for our trip into town if you include the price of our Clipper cards. That’s more than I paid for a Lyft.

These calculations will change depending on how many people are in your group. For a solo traveler, the BART will still be a cheaper option, but if you’re a family, a Lyft or Uber will probably be a less expensive and more convenient alternative.

Final Thoughts

When planning trips to and from the airport in a major city, I usually default to look for public transportation. As it turns out, this might not always be the most convenient or cheapest option. Next time, I’ll check to see the price for Uber and Lyft before buying our train tickets.

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