The Shawshank Redemption is widely regarded by many people, me including, to be one of the best movie ever made, the work of Franck Darabont (director) and Stephen King (author) was a truly powerful combination. 

Then came Michael Clark Duncan and the "Green Mile"

The term "GENTLE GIANT" is a cliché, but in the case of Michael Clarke Duncan, it was completely appropriate and so true.

In the Green Mile, Duncan was a marvellous revelation and his performance was just exceptional. When I saw him in this movie, I had no idea how good he was, and quite frankly, I couldn’t believe he didn’t win an Oscar for best supporting actor that year.

His play as “John Coffey” was special; he blew me away and broke my heart. A truly amazing and show-stopping performance...

In 1999, Tom Hanks was about as big a movie star as there was in the world at that particular moment, and while he may have been the face on the poster and the name that guaranteed the budget, Michael Clarke Duncan is the reason "The Green Mile" is "The Green Mile" 

With a casting as dense with talent as that one was, Duncan's performance as "John Coffey" was truly unique. When Stephen King himself visited the set, he was so pleased and so surprised to be dealing with this tangible near-perfect realization of the character he created.

In everyday life, Michael Clark Duncan was an incredibly easy person to be around, open and friendly and well aware of his own iconic visual impact.  He knew that he was a mountain of a man, and even if his presence, in the Green Mile, was exaggerated using forced perspective, old-fashioned fruits boxes and camera angles to make him bigger, he was huge in real life. 

He was the sort of person who filled a space with a great laugh, a great sense of humour and play, and a real love for life and the people around him.

Like many people, I didn't know he'd had a heart attack a few months ago, but certainly recovery from that is never easy, and it sounds like it was just a natural hiccup, the result of never quite catching his wind again after his last near-miss. 

I imagine there are people all through the movie industry and around the world, who probably felt a very deep and personal loss when they heard this news, and my condolences go out to all of those who were close to him, friends and family.

God Bless you, Michael Clark Duncan, God Bless “John Coffey”…

Lance still worth revering [Rick Reilly|ESPN]

I'm wearing something yellow Friday for Lance Armstrong. Not because I think he's innocent. He just gave up his chance to prove his innocence, so I suppose he isn't.
But I don't care. I'm wearing yellow just to say thank you. If he cheated in a sport where cheating is as common as eating, then I'm wearing yellow to thank him for everything he's done since he cheated.
I'm wearing something yellow for the way he changed cancer in this country from dread to hope. I'm wearing something yellow for everybody who got their chilling cancer diagnosis and said to themselves, "Lance did it. Why can't I?"
Want to join me?
Dig out your old Livestrong bracelet. Wear a yellow scarf, yellow socks, watch "Old Yeller." Just make yellow a part of your Friday.
Yes, the United States Anti-Doping Agency -- riding roughshod on slippery rules and sketchy standards -- declared Armstrong guilty of doping. Then last Friday, Armstrong stopped fighting them. "Enough is enough," he wrote. It might as well have been a firing squad. It was that one-sided.
When a man who never quits finally quits, you don't know how to feel.
"It was a somber moment," says his agent, Bill Stapleton. "He looked at his options and it was like, 'Which one is the best worst?' You can't go on with these kind of legal bills, with people tearing apart your work. It was just too hard on his family."
Sure, Armstrong could go to arbitration. But he's already spent over $5 million on his defense, according to friends. And would you go to arbitration, knowing that USADA sets up the rules of arbitration, sets up the rules of what can be admitted into arbitration and approves the arbitrators? Would you go, knowing it could take two or three more years? Knowing that even if you won, USADA could appeal?
So, yes, USADA has stripped him of his seven Tour de France titles even though nobody's still quite sure they can strip him. If Switzerland investigates Roger Federer and finds he doped, can it take away his U.S. Open trophies?
It's all ugly. The whole sport is ugly. If the Union Cycliste Internationale, cycling's governing body, upholds the penalty, do you realize that 14 of the last 17 TdF winners would be expunged? And what will they do with them? In five of Armstrong's seven wins, the second-place finishers were implicated in doping scandals of their own. One year -- 2003 -- you have to fish down to fifth place to find somebody clean.
Essentially, this is cycling: If you can get on your bike and make it around your local reservoir without doping, you might have just won next year's Tour de France.
So Lance Armstrong may have cheated, just like everybody else. Or maybe he gave up the fight because the whole thing was more crooked than San Francisco's Lombard Street. After all, USADA convicted him on hearsay, not proof. They don't have a single failed sample to hang their hats on -- Armstrong has never failed one -- so they took the word of riders like self-admitted liar Floyd Landis. The whole thing, all their evidence, is based on testimony, not tests.
Maybe these riders are lying, maybe they're not. I don't care. I'm wearing yellow Friday because I want Armstrong to know what he meant to me, my family and the dozens of people I know who took Armstrong with them into those chemotherapy rooms and radiation labs and the darkest corners of their fears.
When my sister was diagnosed with breast cancer, the first book she read was his "It's Not About the Bike." She was inspired. She lives. The man is a hope machine.
I'm wearing something yellow Friday because I know he never cheated the cancer patients who believe in him. I've sat with him as he spends his daily hour answering the emails of perfect strangers -- all suddenly cancer-stricken and panicked.
I've watched him pushing the Texas legislature, poking the California legislature, prodding the U.S. Congress to free up money for research. I know what he stands for -- $475 million raised to educate cancer patients so far -- and so do millions of others. That's why, the day after his decision to quit trying to prove his innocence, Livestrong took in 770 percent of what it had the day before. That's why every company he endorses has stuck with him.
Fine. If he cheated, wipe him out of the record book. Make him pay back the first-place money he won all those years. He gave it all away to his teammates anyway. There's some irony for you. Plenty of those guys -- George Hincapie, Landis, Tyler Hamilton -- were suspected of, or admitted, using banned substance too.
But wear something yellow Friday just to return the favor. Wear something yellow to tell Lance Armstrong that they might be able to ban him for life, but they can't ban him from life. Wear it to tell him to keep going, to keep fighting for cancer-research legislation, to keep showing people through his Livestrong foundation how to fight through the red tape and get to the treatment that can cure them.
In five years, nobody will want to check to see if Lance Armstrong's name is still attached to those trophies. But in five years, they'll still want him leading any peloton that's trying to chase down cancer.
In an email reply to me Monday, Armstrong said, "Sorry, but I'm done talking about this, forever. I'm focused on what's ahead of me -- not behind. Regardless of the injustice that has been done. Onward and upward."
Friday, it's our turn to talk.


It seems that just about everyone is talking about the KONY2012 video that's received more than 70 million views since it was posted last week on several social media networks, KONY, a former church altar boy, stands accused of overseeing the systematic kidnapping of countless African children, brainwashing young boys into fighting for him, turning girls into sex slaves and killing those who don't comply.

The popular video, which features Jason Russell, Invisible Children co-founder, is trying to find ways to explain KONY's atrocities in an appropriate way to his young son. It is compelling and quite moving. The film ends with a three point call to action:
  1. Sign the Pledge to Show Your Support
  2. Get the Bracelet and the Action Kit" ($30)
  3. Sign Up to Donate a Few Dollars a Month

My concern with this campaign is that the situation is probably more complex than what Invisible Children is painting in this film.

What we have with KONY2012 is, unfortunately, a call to action based on a simple way of bypassing the complexities on the ground in Uganda and in Africa in general. First, Joseph Kony isn’t in Uganda anymore, and hasn’t been for over 6 years and the LRA group (Lord’s Resistance Army) followers number at this point is in the low hundreds and while it is still causing immense suffering, it is unclear how millions of well-meaning but misinformed people, in America and Europe, are going to help deal with. a more complicated reality.
But let me be clear, Invisible Children deserved credit for raising awareness with their social media assault on Joseph Kony, no doubt about that but what Jason Russell seems to forget is that the area of Northern Uganda has been experiencing a time of relative peace and stability since the LRA’s exit six years ago and many over there fear that this campaign may increase conflict in the area. For some, who live there, this film is totally wrong and may bring more problem that help.

Suggesting that the answer, today, is more military action is definitely wrong, more US troops would not help at all and could make KONY scared or go on the offensive, something nobody Gulu and around want to see happen again.

Surprisingly, There have been a lot of criticisms about the film, especially that Jason Russell quoted only three Ugandans, two of them politicians, and that Invisible Children spent more time showing the filmmaker's son being told about Joseph Kony than explaining the root causes of the conflict. 
Curiously missing from the film too,has been voices of Ugandans (other than direct victims) and of experts on African conflict. Why?

I may be wrong or sound arrogant, but to me this look like another social media campaign or charity organisation project where you see an outsider trying to be a hero (the white saviour) rescuing African children ... and unfortunately, it does not end the problem.


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