“Argo” is a good flick. I hope it wins best picture!


“Argo” is an attention grabber. It keeps you engaged in the story  from beginning to end. . It’s a movie depicting the Iranian crises that took place in 1980. The Shah of Iran was deposed by the Ayatollah  Khomeini, an Islamic extremist. The Shah was accepted in America.

The Iranians were so angry, that they took over the American embassy and took hostages. Six Americans  managed to escape  the embassy and went to the home of the Canadian ambassador. They successfully hid out there for several months.

The CIA knew it was only a matter of time before the Iranians at the embassy would figure out that the six were missing.  The movie is based on an actual incident.

Affleck portrays a CIA agent, Tony Mendez,  who has to think up a way to spring the six Americans.   He decides the way to rescue the Americans is to pretend they are all making a movie together. Affleck plays the agent to perfection. He knows how to do his job.  Affleck

Ben Affleck speaking at a rally for Feed Ameri...

Ben Affleck speaking at a rally for Feed America in 2009. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

also directed this movie!

If you’re a baby boomer, and remember this time, the movie will bring the whole hostage crises back to life. There are clips of Walter Cronkite and Ted Koppel  Suddenly you remember how upset we were when our hostages were taken by the Iranians. It took 444 days to get them home. Luckily, nobody was physically harmed. Who knows what emotional consequences they suffered?

Standout actors are John Goodman and Alan Arkin who portray the Hollywood types who aid Affleck in his endeavor.

Today, on CNN, President Carter said that the movie “didn’t give the Canadians enough credit.”

Go see it! And Ben Affleck , you should have been nominated in the best director category at the Oscars. I hope the movie wins Best Picture. That would be sweet.

What do you think?

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Imitation of Life: We’ve come a long way: A movie about racial differences and independent women


Imitation of Life (1934 film)

Imitation of Life (1934 film) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If you want to see how far our society has advanced since 1934, watch “Imitation of Life.” The prejudice of the time is reflected in this movie.  It also tells a story about  women trying to make it on their own.

The story revolves around two women, Beatrice Pullman (Ms. B), a white woman,  portrayed by Claudette Colbert, and Delilah, a black woman,  portrayed by Louise Beavers.  They both have two daughters, the same age, but Delilah’s daughter is light-skinned and desperately wants to pass for white. She’s figured out that in 1934, life’s a lot easier in the white world. Fredi Washington, a black actress, gave the character believability.

Ms B is a widow with a young child Jessie, and Miss B. is trying to make a living selling maple syrup on the Boardwalk. She offers Delilah and her young child, Peola, a room in her house in exchange for Delilah’s  housekeeping. Although they have an almost equal friendship, Delilah’s total devotion to Ms. B might bother you. In one scene she is rubbing Miss B’s feet and telling her how important it is for her to find love. (Why doesn’t Miss B tell Delilah she should find love too?)

Miss B is delighted when she tastes Delilah’s secret family recipe for pancakes. She knows Delilah’s pancakes will sell better than maple syrup.   She decides to open a restaurant featuring Delilah’s pancakes,  then markets her mix and they both make a lot of money. Ms. B. offers Delilah 20% of the company. (This seems hardly an equal partnership.)

After they get rich off of Delilah’s recipe, Ms. B meets a potential husband, Steve Archer (Warren William) at a posh party she throws in her fancy New York apartment. Delilah and Peola have to sit outside the party dressed in their finery. You can feel Peola’s heartbreak.

The plot surrounds the girls upsetting their devoted mothers. Peola doesn’t want anyone to know she’s black, so she doesn’t want her mother hanging around. Jesse Pullman (Rochelle Hudson) plays your average sweet rich ingenue. Let’s just say that she takes a shine to her mother’s boyfriend. That’s all I’m going to reveal.

Although this movie will embarrass you at times,  it’s worth watching.

This movie was recommended for Best Picture in 1934. It didn’t win.  Why would it? It was about independent women and friendship between a black and white woman. Miss B eventually shows Delilah more concern and caring, but we know who is the most valuable person.

Although these actors are all long gone, their performances still hold up. It’s really amazing when you think about it.

I caught in on AMC, but it is sold on Amazon. I understand there is a version with narration, that explains what life was like in the good old bad days.

The Movie “Quartet” is a Winner: Dustin Hoffman’s Directorial Debut at 75 Grade: A


If you’re a baby boomer or above, you’re facing some realities. You aren’t going to look like your 25 no matter how much you try. You start noticing other changes too. You get tired faster.  Some people notice a little forgetfulness creeping in. Imagine how it’s going to be in your  70’s, 80’s and 90’s.

Acceptance of very old age is beautifully portrayed in the movie, “Quartet.” It is Dustin Hoffman’s directorial debut (at 75) and he does a sensitive job. He was wise enough to do his first production with the best actors. Try Maggie Smith, Tom Courtenay, Billy Connolly, and  Pauline Collins,   Even though they’re elderly, they’re effective.  Just like the characters they portray in the movie.

The movie is about people living in a retirement home for musicians,  Beecham, residents are notable instrumentalists and opera singers. They don’t sit around and play Bingo; they play and sing music. Most of it classical and operatic There is plenty of music interspersed throughout the movie. There’s some authentic singing done by some of these masterful actors, singers and instrumentalists.

One of the conflicts comes into play when a former diva Jean Horton, portrayed by Maggie Smith, has to make contact with her ex husband Reginald portrayed by Tom  Courtenay. You know it was a serious breakup by their reaction to each other.

The retirement home needs to put on a show to raise money so they can stay in business. Smith’s character doesn’t want to tarnish her reputation since she can’t hit the high notes she used to. Part of the movie deals with Jeans reluctance to perform again.

Although the movie drags a little in the beginning, it picks up speed and by middle, you’ll be completely captivated.

*If you live in Columbus, Ohio, it’s playing at The Drexel Theater in Bexley.

Stay for the credits. They have some before and after pictures of the actors.

( I attended this movie with people I’ve been singing in a choir with for over 20 years. By the end of the movie, we were joking about scoping out a retirement home now.  I couldn’t think of people I’d rather live with when  I’m really old! )

English: Dustin Hoffman at the Cannes Film Fes...

English: Dustin Hoffman at the Cannes Film Festival. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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Les Miserable


If you’ve never seen the Broadway play of Les Miserable, maybe you’ll appreciate this clip from a 10th anniversary special. These were all the professionals who played the main parts.

I did enjoy the movie, but I was a little haunted by all the big voices I was used to hearing when I saw it live. This play is a particular favorite of mine.    I’ve seen it several times. What do you think?

“Parental Guidance”: Movie Review” Nobody makes me laugh like Billy Crystal!


Do you think Billy Crystal is hilarious? Then, go see Parental Guidance. I both laughed and cried during this movie. But, nobody makes me laugh like Billy Crystal. He plays Arte Decker, an over-the-hill baseball announcer, who has been fired for being old and out of touch with the newest generation.  There were some poignant moments in this movie interspersed with all the laughs.

I laughed a lot more than I cried. Bette Midler plays Crystal’s adoring put-together wife (Diane) who sees the chance to babysit their three grandchildren as another opportunity to win their grandchildren’s love. Currently, their photo is pushed aside on the mantle because the “other grandparents” take center stage.

Alice Simmons (Marisa Tomei) is  their only daughter  who is married to Phil Simmons (Tom Everett Scott) he’s handsome, understanding and smart.  He’s a gadget computer guy who’s completely made their house user friendly.  Crystal’s awkwardness around all this stuff felt familiar to me.

Alice and Phil direct the parents on their modern child rearing methods. Use positive reinforcement and don’t ever say no. “We let them ‘use their words and make choices.” says Tomei.

The three kids are adorable, but they have their problems. The oldest girl, Harper, (Bailee Madison)  is too serious,  the middle child, Turner, (Joshua Rush)  has a stutter, and the littlest guy, Barker (Kyle Harrison Breikopf)   has an imaginary friend. They all play straight guys to Billy Crystal. He’s great with them, especially Barker, but there is a moment in the film when Turner steals the movie.
There are a few slap-stick gags that are old, familiar and predictable, but they still work.

Crystal does one scene by himself that I found particularly touching. You’ll have to see the movie because I don’t want to ruin it.

What I was glad to see were all the kids, mostly preteens or early teens,  in the movie theater. A clean-cut movie with no monsters, guns and violence. They seemed to be enjoying it too.

If you’re looking for depth, there isn’t a whole lot in this movie. But, if you’re looking for laughter, you’ll find it here.  And if you’re trying to reconcile your place in the universe, it’s reassuring to know you’re in the same age category as Midler and Crystal.

Do you agree with my review? Comments are welcomed.

 

Les Miserable : Review A+ The movie lives up to expectations


Sometimes, it’s really worth your time, money and energy to attend the movies. If you want to see something you’ll really enjoy, go see Les Miserable.

Although nothing can trump seeing the live musical, this comes close. Unlike the play, you can see some unbelievable  scenery and powerful  camera shots.   The costumes are realistic, and the makeup makes everyone look pretty miserable (the pathetic crowd).  Since the movie is so up close, you get a better idea of the characters and their relationships to each other. You get to see the nuances of expression, and  feel the characters emotions.  I could lose myself in this movie, and I was unaware of the time it took to watch. (It is over 2 hours).

There’s been much made out of the fact that the director made the actors actually sing their parts instead of using recorded soundtracks. He also uses a lot of closeups. . You can actually see every mark on their faces, and some of their neglected looking teeth. I liked the fact that they were really singing when it was filmed.

Anne Hathaway plays Fantine  to perfection, and her singing doesn’t disappoint. It doesn’t take her long to turn into a prostitute. It’s almost painful to watch her go through her misery. Although she isn’t on screen that long, her part leaves a lasting impression.

Hugh Jackman  makes a good  Jean Valjean, our hero and makes  a good transformation from a convict (stealing bread) to a moral person. He certainly looks pathetic in the beginning of the movie, and looks like a dashing hero for the rest of it.  His voice is fairly strong, and his acting is excellent.  If he doesn’t deserve an Oscar, I don’t know who does.

Russell Crowe has the least powerful voice in the production, but I think it’s adequate.( It seems hard to believe the director couldn’t find someone with a bigger voice to play the role.)  He plays the villain, Javert convincingly I had heard he was inadequate in the part, so I was pleasantly surprised. I managed to hate him during the movie.

I think Sasha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter as the slimy innkeepers steal the show when they’re on screen. They both have a lot of charisma that comes through even though their characters are unsympathetic.  All the children in the production also do a terrific job, especially the little boy who plays a rebel.

My favorite female in this production was Samantha Brooks as Eponine. When she sings “On My own” in the rain, I loved it. She’s beautiful and has the voice we’ve come to expect when we see a live production of this show.

Amanda Seyfried as the adult Cosette was very believable. She looks the part and her voice is sweet.

If you’re looking for the biggest voices you’ve  ever heard in this production, you might be disappointed, but the group choral numbers are quite strong, and Eddie Redmay as Marius lives up to expectations.   If you’re looking for a moving story, fantastic scenery, a great reprieve, and something that will bring a tear to your eye, go see this movie.

I would give this production an A!

Oprah Interviews Steven Spielberg, Daniel Day-Lewis, and Sally Field of “Lincoln”


[Abraham Lincoln, Congressman-elect from Illin...

[Abraham Lincoln, Congressman-elect from Illinois. Three-quarter length portrait, seated, facing front] (LOC) (Photo credit: The Library of Congress)

Background

Steven Spielberg has done it again. He’s assembled a cast that brings historical characters to life. If you haven’t seen the movie, Lincoln, put it on your priority list.

The movie is about Congress passing the 13th  amendment, abolishing slavery in 1865  Imagine people arguing about whether or not slavery should be abolished. The very idea should make you uncomfortable.

The other familiar actors in the cast include: Sally Field as Mary Todd Lincoln, Tommy Lee Jones, Hal Holbrook, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, James Spader, and Hal Holbrook.

Both Daniel Day-Lewis, and Sally Field are very convincing as Lincoln and Mary Todd Lincoln. Daniel Day-Lewis makes you feel like you’re finally getting a glimpse of the real Lincoln. We see the country lawyer, great story-teller, and determined leader. Field is the neurotic first-lady  who supports Lincoln and mourns the loss of their son, Willy.

Tommy Lee Jones is very effective as an abolitionist Senator.

Oprah’s Interview with Spielberg, Lewis and Field on the OWN network

Oprah first interviewed Spielberg who talked about how it’s important for him to try new approaches when he directs.” I have to  find an aspect I haven’t done before. …I need to wake up and get to the set, I need to feel shpilkes (a little bit of nervousness) I felt this every single day.”  Whatever he did to make this outstanding movie worked.

Daniel Day-Lewis, a fantastic actor, talked about how he studied everything he could about Lincoln. He took a year to do it. He really transforms  into a credible Lincoln.  This Irish actor said he hears the voice of his characters and then he applies it. “The voice I hear is like the “fingerprint of the soul.” How could anyone come close to what you imagine Lincoln’s voice to be like?

It was fun watching Oprah’s interview with Sally Field.  Many Baby-Boomers have grown up watching her on TV and movies.  It was interesting that Sally was at first rejected for the part, but then Spielberg changed his mind. Lewis helped convince him to hire her. You can never tell that Field is 10 years older than Lewis. We also learn that Sally, like Lewis, stays in character on the movie set.

Go see the movie
Even though you know Congress is going to abolish slavery, and Lincoln is going to come to a tragic end, you can still get lost in this movie.

Maybe it should be required viewing by members of Congress now. At least they might get something done.

Did you like the movie? Anything to add?

First Lady Mary Todd Lincoln

First Lady Mary Todd Lincoln (Photo credit: Wikipedia)