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Welcome
To the home page of
Temple Studies Center
At the Jericho Observatory



On the site you can read about the goals of the center
Watch and download lessons and talks on Temple and Temple issues Or read various pamphlets and publications on the said subjects
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And other things that we will soon find

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A fun and useful visit!






Death to Smoochy

Anyone who summarizes ‘Death to Smoochy’ in one adjective would be ambitious yet unsuccessful. Robin Williams and Edward Norton will cause an abandonment of all prior preconceptions about these two actors and enthusiastically deliver a film that is absolutely a new genre in its own right. Williams vilifies himself and is perhaps gradually preparing the world for an advent of villainous Robin Williams characters as his next film is to star opposite Al Pacino in a crime thriller. Norton continues to display range and diversifies his resume by playing a tranquil character that loves the world. And Danny De Vito casts himself in this film and directs this superbly menacing and unconformist film that will surely leave audiences divided as to the appreciation of this film.

From its’ abrupt, credit-less and quasi-violent opening, it dissolves into a complete opposite of what was just viewed. Robin Williams plays a kiddie show host who looks like a cross between Willy Wonka and a demented clown. In this sequence, Rainbow Randolph (Williams) demonstrates his affinity for children in an entertaining dance number lifted from his children’s show that contradicts the grim opening. Yet this is where early on I observed the keen ambition of the film. De Vito’s talent as a director slowly unravels on screen, as different levels of cinema are achieved in order to convey a sense of exaggeration within a realistic environment.

De Vito who has directed other twisted pieces (The War of the Roses, Throw Momma from the Train) tackles the issue of emotions taking over one’s actions as Rainbow Randolph must deal with the coming of a new children’s television show host, Smoochy. After a payola scandal leaves Rainbow Randolph unemployed, the network executive (Catherine Keener) turns to Edward Norton’s lovable bastard child of Barney the Dinosaur, Smoochy to resurrect the children’s network. Driven by insanity and envy for what he once had, Rainbow Rudolph plots an attempt to remove Smoochy from television supremacy. This main theme at times takes a backseat to Adam Resnick’s original screenplay as questionable subplots such as Irish Gangsters and corrupted children’s charities slow the piece.

From the previous synopsis, one can identify retribution, anger and hate within the film. Yet throughout all these emotions, laughter is not forgotten. While this film is not a direct comedy, nor a direct drama, it amalgamates many different levels of film and creates a truly unique, twisted and comic tale of retribution.

De Vito’s sinister tale is brought to life by the aid of his Cinematographer Anastos Nichos. Nichos and his outlandish visual style such as slanted frames, protruding eyeball close ups and his sense of depth and darkness give the film a feeling of absolute subtle veracity. Furthermore, as aforementioned, Williams and Norton deliver some absolutely memorable scenes as these two established actors play complete opposites of one another. Williams seems to be under direct orders from De Vito to let loose and come across as a maniacal, energetic and exuberant character all the while unraveling his cryptic, vengeful repressed soul that is unlocked once the supremacy is terminated. This can be viewed after the first attempt at besmirching Smoochy’s name with an alignment to a Nazi regime, Williams traverses the New York city parks with a sense of joyousness at his twisted efforts that can only be accomplished by Robin Williams.

While on the other hand, Norton comes across as a gentle, loving individual with a dark past that resulted in him having to attend anger management classes. Norton with the rise of an eyebrow and the slightest facial contortion can emit many emotions in this character driven film that adds to Norton’s diverse range of characters to an even greater level. His wild side comes across as he evens his scores in a delirium of a film that upon first viewing will not be fully appreciated. It is only with the mental playback of key scenes that one comes to understand the vision De Vito wanted to convey.

While the film will certainly not be a solid hit, its misinterpretations from viewers will allow opening weekend fans to lament about the film’s dark and cynical vision causing bad word of mouth to hinder exposure for this relentlessly ambitious studio film that has all the qualities of a great anti-studio film. An applause to Williams and Norton for taking a chance on a script that is non-formulaic and un-Hollywood in many ways. This film will leave audiences divided on two fronts. Either complete dismay at a disappointing film or complete awe at a vivid depiction of jealousy and indignation.

Our advice is to skip this one. But don’t worry, there are better films out there! For more in-depth movie reviews, click here.






Clash of the Titans

In this remake of the classic movie, Clash of the Titans follows Persius, half god half man, as he is out for revenge for the evil god Hades who killed his family. Along the way he encounters several mythological creatures and has a lot of adventures that you might know from the book.

There are a lot of big names, from the performance point of view, starting with Sam Worthington, the actor that starred in Avatar. Something like Russell Crowe – Gladiator and Jason Staten mixture, that is Sam and is beautiful acting in this movie. He is an ambitious Percius and much more driven. Also Gemma Arterton is a beauty to look at and off course Liam Neeson brings that extra edge as Zeus and he is rocking in a shiny new armor and Ray Fins is channeling a endless rage for the humans in a outstanding way, in one word the actor cast is a perfect one with big names and plenty to show off.

The story was a bit re-written like the people Persius meets along the way, the creatures also in parallel to the first movie it has for every creature that wasn’t shown others that are more memorable and thanks to technology will definitely make your eyes be fully pleased.

Also in remembrance of the old movie this remake has a deeper plot and the narrative moments are always keeping you tight to the screen, never letting you get bored for 1 second. Now for the bad part, this movie was shot in 2D like all the conventional movies out there, but due to the great success of Avatar it was rushed to 3D in the final stage, thing that isn’t supposed to be done so quickly and in my opinion is not worth watching in 3D, save your money and watch it in 2D, you won’t regret it.

The director Louis Leterrier wanted a nonstop action movie that will appeal to the most of the young crowd out there, families also wanting to see the story of Persius but since the action is relentless you will not have the chance to get to know the characters very good, not to mention that the secondary characters are almost eclipsed and you won’t get out from them to much things. Thus like most of the remakes nowadays you will like this movie if you’re passionate about Greek Mythology and decent graphics paired with nonstop action scenes, but don’t expect anything deeper than that or you will be upset.

Lovers of action and films with great production value like this one will definitely enjoy the growing filmography of Ben Hardy.






Film Review: Dreamgirls

It takes a helluva woman to upstage a star that has such fame and respect in the film and music industry that she goes by just one name. Yet watching the film version of the hit Broadway show Dreamgirls, former American Idol finalist Jennifer Hudson manages to do just that to Beyonce.

Hudson and Beyonce star as two thirds of an all-girl singing group from the 60s, The Dreamettes, obviously meant to emulate Diana Ross and The Supremes. Known for her powerful voice on American Idol, you would think when Hudson was outshining Beyonce it was only when she was singing, but instead she outshone her every time they were on the screen together, singing, talking, or just putting on their wigs in the dressing room. These two are the only singers turned actors in the movie, as the rest of the cast, Anika Noni Rose, Jamie Foxx, and Eddie Murphy, are all actors turned singers in the movie.

Hudson was supposedly cast somewhat reluctantly. They thought she wasn't what they were looking for, but no matter who they tried out for that part, they always came back to the girl with the big voice from Chicago. Reportedly she even beat out the person that beat her for the title of American Idol, Fantasia Barrino. Fantasia couldn't have pulled off the part, though. It needed someone that was larger than life, and I don't mean physically. Hudson's personality fills the screen every time she appears on it. And when she sings, she brings down the house.

Foxx plays the manager of their group, and a guy that not surprisingly started out as a car salesman. While he's a really shrewd businessman, he all too soon forgets what brought him the success in the first place, and soon begins to care way more about power and money, than friendship and family. His singers start out in bars that are so seedy and smoky, just watching it was bothering my contact lenses and making my eyes water. His goal is to get them out of there, out of the tour bus, and playing in places like Miami Beach and the Copa.

Murphy's character has one goal. Making it with Rose's character, despite the fact he's married. He plays a singer along the lines of a James Brown type, who is filled with soul, but whose sound is such a mix of gospel, soul, and R&B, that the white audiences that Foxx is coveting have a hard time connecting to him. He was great in this role; however, sometimes, especially towards the end, I felt like I was watching one of his Saturday Night Live characters.

Yet, despite the fact Foxx's motives get confused the further and further he goes with his pursuits, he was the only one that dared to see the ultimate possibilities for these performers. He was constantly pushing them in another direction, because he wanted to see the black performers break into the white music business. He wanted to see them on American Bandstand. This is after he worked hard to record and promote Eddie Murphy backed by the Dreamettes singing a new song. It was eventually stolen by white performers who stripped the soul right out of it, and turned it into a #1 record.

While it makes us somewhat uncomfortable to think of life just forty years ago in those terms, it nonetheless was happening. Martin Luther King Jr hadn't expressed his own dream yet. In fact, once he records his I Have a Dream speech, Hudson throws it in Foxx's face, wondering why a guy that's not even singing can get his own record, and Foxx won't even put her on the B side of a record. She does this kiddingly, but it's one of those things that does have some seriousness to it.

Of course, there was no way the people making this film knew that its release day would just happen to coincide with the day the Godfather of Soul James Brown died. Yet, it's so fitting, if not downright ironic. Brown changed the face of music in so many ways, making music that would bring the races together. And that's what Foxx's character spends the entire movie doing, trying to create a sound that was innovative.

Beyonce continuous to be a proponent of change and progress in the entertainment industry today. Read more about her here.






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