October 9, 2015

This week’s Popcorn “The Intern”

Works Well Enough

2 & ½ popcorns

By Michael S. Goldberger

Special to the Observer


Point of disclosure: Bobby De Niro and I go way back … two years before I began reviewing films. It was in “Mean Streets” (1973), when he played Johnny Boy, that I first noticed and commended his thespic talent. Since then, I’d like to think I’ve proved an encouraging factor. I don’t know…he’s never really said anything to me about it. I hope he’s not angry or something. Commenting on how he’s segued from strong dramatic leads to ever-available character actor, I’ve intended nothing but the highest respect. In “The Intern,” he personifies his staying power.


The truth is, without the storied resume that has made him a national treasure, he’d hardly be as effective as Ben Whittaker, a 70-year-old widower and former corporate wiz looking to launch a second career in the dot.com world of an online clothing company. Arriving at About The Fit just in time to help Anne Hathaway’s fashion wunderkind, Jules Ostin, navigate her stellar startup through its growing pains, he does avuncular and paternal like nobody’s business.


Now, I don’t want Mr. De Niro to take it the wrong way when I say he has gone from Godfather to Fairy Godfather. Quickly mollifying, it’s the sort of role Cary Grant might play, like in “The Bishop’s Wife” (1947), when his angelic presence opportunely descends to sort out the mortal problems of Bishop Henry Brougham (David Niven) and his pretty wife Julia (Loretta Young). Hey, Bob, Cary Grant. That’s good stuff. Hardly a day goes by that we don’t opine how nice it would be if we had someone, divine or otherwise, to help guide us through life’s uncertainties.


Of course it’s especially fortunate if said mentor also happens to be good company. With Bobby fitting that bill, it occurs that there is a whole category of film whereupon the drawing factor is our desire to spend a little time with a perceived personality whose company we’ve come to enjoy. Granted, I understand that few of us are lucky enough to actually have famous friends of such assured good nature. So, no harm in renting them for a couple of hours.

In that vein, to quote every other film critic from Kodiak, Alaska, to Key West, Florida, “The Intern” gets the job done…well enough, in fact, to almost forgive the movie’s shortcomings. This includes a predictability inherent to the plot, several hackneyed conventions and the typical gaggle of co-workers intrigued by the charismatic deus ex machina plopped down among them.

However, standing out among that typical cast of usual suspects, Anne Hathaway partially ameliorates the cliché in a role often overlooked in these silicon days. Whereas female entrepreneurs are routinely depicted as having made their fortunes as flapjack tycoons (“Imitation of Life”–1934), restaurateurs (“Mildred Pierce”–1945) and yes, fashion designers (“Mahogany”–1975), here Ms. gets credit for conquering the binary code world. And, adding a nuance to the role, she’s neither single nor divorced, but married, happily…or so we believe.


Coming into this seemingly perfect picture courtesy of a landmark intern program for golden agers, Ben soon discovers that, despite appearances, there is trouble in River City. First off, there are the standard, employee relationship problems, including an office romance or two, just begging for his counsel. More importantly, About The Fit has grown like Topsy, and a trusted adviser feels it’ll take an outsider with no sentimental subjectivity to bring the firm to the Fortune 500. Such a transition, from founder and CEO to second in command, won’t be easy for our super girl.


But alas, she may have another reason for abdicating the throne. Possessed of a sixth sense, Ben is hip to the jive. Unfortunately, initial shortsightedness on Jules’s part delays De Niro’s business godsend from tackling the really big issue. This is good. Thus prompted into a senior citizen version of Robert Morse’s rise to prominence in “How to Succeed in Business without Really Trying” (1967), old Ben is finally noticed for the resource that he is.


There are a couple turns, a few unsurprising twists and, as is perfunctorily inserted in dramedies of this sort, one too many subplots. But that’s OK. This is the filmic equivalent of the comfortable living room chair. We’d be upset if director Nancy Myers went artsy-craftsy by messing with the familiar moralisms and resolutions we expect.


This is sweet, but not too cloying, and pretty funny. Filled with bright and shiny faces and one engagingly craggy smile, it’s the ideal palate cleanser you view between headier and more challenging works. Still, the main reason for seeing “The Intern” is Bobby, a persona so ingrained in our culture that it causes some folks to actually believe he’s an old friend.

“The Intern,” rated PG-13, is a Warner Bros. release directed by Nancy Myers and stars Robert De Niro, Anne Hathaway and Rene Russo. Running time: 121 minutes




Boys and girls volleyball

CVU Girls VB_219vs Essx 30Sep15 CVU Girls VB_200vs Essx 30Sep15 CVU Girls VB_179vs Essx 30Sep15 CVU Girls VB_156vs Essx 30Sep15 CVU Girls VB_096vs Essx 30Sep15 CVU Girls VB_088vs Essx 30Sep15 CVU Girls VB_021vs Essx 30Sep15 CVU Boys VB_202vs Essx 30Sep15 CVU Boys VB_189vs Essx 30Sep15 CVU Boys VB_139vs Essx 30Sep15 CVU Boys VB_088vs Essx 30Sep15 CVU Boys VB_072vs Essx 30Sep15 CVU Boys VB_055vs Essx 30Sep15 CVU Boys VB_015vs Essx 30Sep15

Boy’s Soccer

CVU Boys Soccer_018 vs BFA 02Oct15 CVU Boys Soccer_238 vs BFA 02Oct15 CVU Boys Soccer_192 vs BFA 02Oct15 CVU Boys Soccer_178 vs BFA 02Oct15 CVU Boys Soccer_170 vs BFA 02Oct15 CVU Boys Soccer_154 vs BFA 02Oct15 CVU Boys Soccer_087 vs BFA 02Oct15 CVU Boys Soccer_072 vs BFA 02Oct15 CVU Boys Soccer_062 vs BFA 02Oct15

CVU Field Hockey

CVU Field Hockey_220 vs BHS 02Oct15 CVU Field Hockey_194 vs BHS 02Oct15 CVU Field Hockey_174 vs BHS 02Oct15 CVU Field Hockey_164 vs BHS 02Oct15 CVU Field Hockey_161 vs BHS 02Oct15 CVU Field Hockey_122 vs BHS 02Oct15 CVU Field Hockey_109 vs BHS 02Oct15 CVU Field Hockey_102 vs BHS 02Oct15 CVU Field Hockey_095 vs BHS 02Oct15 CVU Field Hockey_011 vs BHS 02Oct15

Apple Picking

Adams' Orchard_026  03Oct15 Adams' Orchard_020  03Oct15Adams'  Orchard_172  03Oct15 Adams'  Orchard_191  03Oct15

WFD Open House

WFD Open House_005  03Oct15 WFD Open House_015  03Oct15 WFD Open House_020  03Oct15 WFD Open House_024  03Oct15 WFD Open House_035  03Oct15 WFD Open House_059  03Oct15 WFD Open House_111  03Oct15 WFD Open House_130  03Oct15

Savvy Senior

By Jim Miller

How to find a better Medicare prescription drug plan

Dear Savvy Senior,

I recently received a letter from my Medicare drug plan provider notifying me that they are increasing my co-pays next year. I’d like to look for a better plan, but could use some guidance. What’s the easiest way to do this?

—Need a Change

Dear Need,

Cost increases and coverage changes are an annual event for many Medicare Part D prescription drug plans. Fortunately, during the open enrollment period (which is Oct. 15 – Dec. 7), you have the ability to shop and compare plans and choose one that better fits your needs and budget. Your new plan will go into effect Jan.1, 2016. Here are some tips that can help with this process.

Shop Online

If you have Internet access and are comfortable using a computer, you can easily shop for and compare all Medicare drug plans in your area and enroll in a new plan online.

Just go to Medicare’s Plan Finder Tool at medicare.gov/find-a-plan and type in your zip code or your personal information, enter in how you currently receive your Medicare coverage, select the drugs you take and their dosages and choose the pharmacies you use. You’ll get a cost comparison breakdown for every plan available in your area so you can compare it to your current plan.

This tool also provides a five-star rating system that evaluates each plan based on past customer service records and suggests generics or older brand name drugs that can reduce your costs.

It’s also important to keep in mind that when you’re comparing drug plans don’t judge a plan strictly by its monthly premium cost. Low-premium plans are often associated with higher prescription co-payments and may end up being more expensive. Look at the “estimated annual drug costs” that shows how much you can expect to pay over a year in total out-of-pocket costs—including premiums, deductibles and co-pays.

Also, be sure the plan you’re considering covers all of the drugs you take with no restrictions. Most drug plans today place the drugs they cover into price tiers. A drug placed in a higher tier may require you to get prior authorization or try another medication first before you can use it.

Need Help?

If you need some help choosing a new plan, contact your State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP), which provides free one-on-one Medicare counseling in person or over the phone. They also conduct seminars during the open enrollment period at various locations throughout each state. In Vermont, call 1-800-642-5119 or (802) 241-2401 or visit www.cvaa.org/ship.html

Shrinking Donut Hole

You also need to know that Medicare’s “donut-hole”—the coverage gap in which you must pay out-of-pocket for your drugs—continues to shrink. In 2016, you will get a 55 percent discount on brand-name drugs and the federal subsidy for generic medications will rise to 42 percent.

The 2016 coverage gap begins when your total drug cost exceeds $3,310 (that includes your share and the insurer’s share of the costs) and ends when your total out-of-pocket costs reach $4,850. After that, your Part D plan usually covers around 95 percent of your remaining drug costs for the year.

Low-Income Assistance

Also, be aware that if you’re income is under $17,655 or $23,895 for married couples living together and your assets are below $13,640 or $27,250 for married couples not counting your home, car or life insurance policy, you may be eligible for the federal Low Income Subsidy known as “Extra Help” that pays Part D premiums, deductibles and copayments. For more information or to apply, call Social Security at 800-772-1213 or visit socialsecurity.gov/extrahelp.

Jim Miller is a contributor to the NBC Today show and author of “The Savvy Senior” book.

What’s Cooking? Soups on!

By Lucy McCullough

Soup’s on!

Cool fall weather is now here, along with an appetite for hot soup or chowder. Corn chowder is great for lunch or the evening meal served with a salad.

In Grandma’s words, “This should hit the spot.”

Corn Chowder

(makes 4 servings)

2 slices of bacon, cut into small pieces

olive oil

1 small onion, diced

1 clove of garlic, minced

1 to 2 teaspoons thyme (fresh if possible)

2 tablespoons flour

3 cups chicken broth (or vegetable stock)

1 cup heavy cream (or ½ cup heavy cream and ½ cup half and half)

1 large potato, diced

small package frozen corn (or 3 ears fresh corn, removed from the cob)

salt and pepper to taste

chopped fresh parsley

Brown bacon bits in pot over medium heat. Add onion, garlic, thyme and cook until onions are soft (8-10 minutes) adding a little olive oil, if needed. Coat the veggies with flour and stir. Pour in the broth while stirring and bring to a boil. Add the cream and potatoes. Bring to a boil and boil hard for approximately 7 minutes, until the potatoes become soft. Add the corn, season with salt and pepper and simmer until the corn is tender (about 10 minutes). Stir in parsley and serve.

“Let’s eat!”

Lucy McCullough and her husband, Jim, started Catamount Outdoor Family Center on the family farm in 1978 and have been operating Catamount’s B&B since 1996.

Jack-o-lanterns patiently awaiting faces

PumpkinsObserver courtesy photo by Ania Johnson

Piles of pumpkins sit ready to be carved at Fontaine’s Farm on North Williston Road.

Armadillos fall just short of championship

Observer contributed photo The Armadillos team, including players, friends and family. The team finished the season in the top seed, but fell to Colchester in the championship game.

Observer contributed photo
The Armadillos team, including players, friends and family. The team finished the season in the top seed, but fell to Colchester in the championship game.

By Reid Crosby

Special to the Observer

In a competitive game, the Williston Armadillos lost to the Colchester Lakers in the Vermont Senior Baseball League championship game, held on Sunday, Sept. 27 at Maxfield Park in Hartford, Vt.

The ‘Dillos started strong, scoring two runs in the bottom of the first inning. The Lakers scored one in the top of the fourth, but the ‘Dillos answered right back in the bottom of the fourth with a run of their own to take a 3-1 lead. Unfortunately, that would be the last run they would plate. After the teams traded zeros for the next three innings, the Lakers rallied with two runs in the top of the eighth to tie the game. Neither team threatened for the rest of regulation, but in the top of the tenth, the Lakers scratched across the deciding run and held on to win 4-3 in ten innings.

The Armadillos entered the playoffs as the number one seed in the league for the second straight season. Despite the loss in the final, the team finished with the best overall record, regular season and playoffs combined, for the fourth straight season.

League information and detailed statistics can be found online at http://www.vermontseniorbaseball.com.