Film Feed

Click image to watch the Mos Eisley cantina scene, in which these musicians provide the catchy background tune, from the 1977 Star Wars movie that launched the sci-fi film franchise. Merry May 4th. Yes, this is another goofy, made-up holiday, but one that's dear to sci-fi fans (and punsters), particularly those devoted to Star Wars. The film franchise's iconic "May the force be with you" greeting is celebrated each year on the similar sounding "May the Fourth be with you." As a long-time sci-fi fan and a college student who waited in a long line to see the 1977 debut... Read more →


It's been years since U.S. Post Office branches in Austin have stayed open for Tax Day. I suspect that's the case across much of the United States. Most of us e-file our 1040s. Through April 6, the Internal Revenue Service had received almost 96 million electronically filed returns. It's expecting millions more electronically delivered returns as we rush to make today's filing deadline. So the mail service isn't swamped like in olden days when some offices had special pre-midnight festivities for taxpayers to drop off their returns. This shift means that if you're still committed to mailing a paper Form... Read more →


Will you be watching the Academy Awards this Sunday, March 4? You might want to since, depending on where you live, you helped pay for some of the Oscar-nominated movies. New Yorkers have the most at stake, both financially and in connection with the gold statuettes. New York budgets $420 million for its film-tax-credit program. The Empire State's film production tax credit offers reimbursement of up to 40 percent on most production costs depending on what part of the state a movie is shot. It also reward TV programs, like the Big Apple-based "The Tonight Show" with Jimmy Fallon, that... Read more →


Most taxpayers now are focusing on completing their annual tax returns. But if we have to deal with the Internal Revenue Service to finish that Form 1040, or if the agency subsequently has some questions about it, Uncle Sam's tax collector wants us to know we have some inalienable tax rights. The 10 components of Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TBOR) are this week's By the Numbers figure. Here they are: 1. The Right to Be Informed: Taxpayers have the right to know what they need to do to comply with the tax laws. They are entitled to clear explanations of... Read more →


Elmer Irey headed the Internal Revenue Bureau's Intelligence Unit in the 1930s. It was under Irey's direction that evidence was gathered leading to the conviction of Al Capone for failure to pay his income tax. Read more about Irey and Capone at The Mob Museum. I'm a big sports fan. But sometimes I need a break. So in my channel flipping today to find something other than the Olympics, soccer/futbol, NHL hockey and part 1 of NASCAR's 83-step Daytona 500 qualifying process, I ran across one of my favorite movies, "The Untouchables." I'm talking the 2007 version, with Kevin Costner... Read more →


The Beverly Hilton ballroom was packed on the evening of Jan. 7 as the Hollywood Foreign Press Association handed out its annual Golden Globes statuettes for excellence in movies and television. (Photo courtesy Hollywood Foreign Press Association) I watched the Golden Globes. I am a big movie and television fan, so I wanted to see what one tiny subsection of awards voters, in this case the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, thought about recent entertainment offerings. Plus, I wanted to host Seth Meyers' take on Hollywood's harassment issue. I was thrilled to see his late-night show writers Amber Ruffin Jenny Hagel... Read more →


Happy Labor Day. While many Americans are working on this holiday, others are fortunate to have off this first Monday in September. Whether you're working or not most likely depends on the type of employee you are. The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) does not require employers to pay employees for time not worked, such as vacations or holidays, writes Susan Heathfield for The Balance. Different jobs, different days off: Salaried employees in exempt professional, technical or managerial positions expect paid holidays. Nonexempt, or hourly, employees are less likely to have paid holidays, or they receive fewer such days off... Read more →


Colorfully coiffed "Girls Trip" friends Jada Pinkett Smith, Tiffany Haddish, Regina Hall and Queen Latifah partying in New Orleans. I've been a film fanatic from an early age. It started when I was a back-seat viewer on the family's regular summer night trips to the drive-in. Movies were a much needed break from real life in terrible times, like when Mom took my little brother and me to see "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea" to get us away from the news of JFK's assassination. And the annual airing of "The Wizard of Oz" was must-see TV in our house, especially... Read more →


Tom Hiddleston as Loki, left, and Chris Hemsworth as Thor prepare to take down some bad guys in "Thor: Ragnarok." That movie, coming to a theater near you in November, was one of the many Marvel Studios productions that got the lion's share of attention at Comic-Con 2017. (Click image for full Marvel Studios trailer at YouTube) Comic-Con, the geek event of the year, just wrapped up in San Diego. Not surprisingly, Marvel Studios and its stars were the big draws at the 2017 event. I'm not a big fan of comic books and their spin-off products, but I did... Read more →


Happy Birthday, America! July 4 is special to all of us Americans, the day we declared our independence from Great Britain. Taxes, as everyone knows thanks to James Otis' famous announcement that "Taxation without representation is tyranny," were among the reasons we sought to govern ourselves. And taxes, even after we gained control, continue to play a key part in our lives, politics and popular culture. James Cagney, before he became the prototypical movie gangster, was as song-and-dance man. He showed off those talents in "Yankee Doodle Dandy," the biopic of a man who not only gave us great musicals,... Read more →


David Beckham made part of his estimated $450 million net worth as an underwear model. With big bucks like that, it's no wonder he went looking for ways to lower his Great Britain tax bill. But one attempt looks like it could cost him. (Billboard photo by torbakhopper via Flickr) Some major sports and entertainment stars face tax bills after United Kingdom tax officials rule a film venture they invested in was a tax avoidance scheme. David Beckham, whose international celebrity status continued beyond the football (soccer for my U.S. readers) pitch (field for my U.S. readers), and his wife... Read more →


Are you planning to catch up this weekend on some of this year's Academy Award winning movies you've yet to see? Me, too. But I'm also putting on my viewing list a newish flick, "Love & Taxes." Reel tax life: I'm not making this up. It's a real movie that, according to its website, is "a riveting comic tale of seven years of tax avoidance." OK. You probably want a less vested review. Here's what Ken Jaworowski had to say in Friday's New York Times: Likability goes a long way in "Love & Taxes," a comedy that relies on the... Read more →


When the Academy Awards are handed out Sunday, Feb. 26, it's a good bet that most of the films already were tax winners. They used special tax breaks to help offset their sometimes enormous production costs. As of Jan. 1, all those credits will come from states. End of the federal film tax break: The only federal tax incentive designed specifically to keep film and television production in the United States ended when 2017 arrived. It was part of a group of extenders — temporary tax breaks that must be periodically renewed by Congress — that lawmakers last year decided... Read more →


It's Groundhog Day and for many folks that brings to mind the Bill Murray movie of the same name more than the Pennsylvania rodent who purportedly can forecast weather. Bill Murray as weatherman Phil Connors in the 1993 film "Groundhog Day." (Photo courtesy Columbia Pictures) In case you haven't seen it, in the 1993 Harold Ramis movie Murray is a television weatherman who, after being dispatched to Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, on Feb. 2 to cover groundhog Punxsutawney Phil's emergence from his burrow, finds himself living the same day over and over and over again. Murray's character Phil (we see what you... Read more →


Personal note, Saturday, June 10, 2017: Batman has always been my favorite comic book superhero. While I love the Caped Crusader's dark history and how it is reflected in his crime-fighting style, when I was a kid Batman was pure fun thanks to the character's TV portrayal by actor Adam West. On this sad day that I learned of Mr. West's passing on June 9, I realize that Batman came with me from those joyful childhood "Bam" and "Ka-Pow" graphic days of diversion into my mostly more serious adult tax world. Thanks for always being there when I needed you,... Read more →


Attention Pennsylvania digital aficionados, your electronic addictions are about to cost you a bit more. Gov. Tom Wolf on July 13 signed into law his state's fiscal 2017 revenue package. Among its provisions is an extension of the Keystone State's 6 percent sales and use tax to digital downloads of books, music, satellite radio and video and audio streaming. The new tax collection will take effect Aug. 1. It's expected to bring in nearly $47 million in its first year. Those millions of dollars in extra revenue are tempting targets for this week's By the Numbers honor. So is the... Read more →


"Millions flee Georgia for the safety of North Carolina's bathrooms," quipped New Yorker columnist Andy Borowitz after the Tar Heel State's governor signed into a law a measure that, among other things, revokes local protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people. The part of the bill that's gotten most attention is, as Borowitz notes, the one that requires transgender people to use the bathroom corresponding with the gender they were born with rather than the one they identify with. North Carolina is the first state to require this. Last year, Houston, Texas, passed a similar law for facilities... Read more →


It's Oscar nomination day! Let the arguments begin over who was properly recognized (yay Bryan Cranston for "Trumbo"), who was snubbed (Idris Elba and Johnny Depp both ignored!) and who surprised (yay again, this time for great film composer Carter Burwell) film fans and the industry by getting Academy Award nods. I'm sure someone already is researching which of the Best Film nominees got film tax credits. I suspect they all did, just like last year's batch. And one thing is for sure when it comes to future award-worthy movies. If they're made in New Jersey, the film makers will... Read more →


The biggest hit on Broadway right now is an inventive musical about the United States' first Treasury Secretary. "Hamilton" actors, left to right, Daveed Diggs as Marquis de Lafayette, Okieriete Onaodowan as Hercules Mulligan, Anthony Ramos as John Laurens, and the musical's writer and composer Lin-Manuel Miranda as the titular Alexander Hamilton. (Photo via BroadwayBox.com) And on Friday, the tax extenders bill became law, including a new provision that gives a tax break to shows on the Great White Way. Coincidence? I think not. Tax help from "Hamilton?" Maybe: OK, I don't really think that Lin-Manuel Miranda's record-setting "Hamilton" is... Read more →


I'm a big movie fan. I also am a personal finance/tax nut. So it's a big day for me as those two worlds converge. The Hollywood Foreign Press Association today announced its nominees for its annual Golden Globe awards. Two financially-themed movies, "99 Homes" and "The Big Short," were tabbed. Christian Bale, nominated for a Golden Globe as best lead actor, rocking out in a scene from "The Big Short." Both films are based on the housing industry collapse that followed the reckless subprime mortgages banks handed out right and left during the 2000s. That led to the disastrous (and... Read more →