Showing posts with label Actresses. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Actresses. Show all posts

Friday, September 12, 2014

Actors and Actresses from the Golden Age of Hollywood: A Quiz (1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die, Pt. 1) and The Week in Reviews

[I review the new movie "Let's Be Cops" and the DVDs "Only Lovers Left Alive," "Fading Gigolo" and "Cuban Fury" and highlight the book "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die.]

But First

Three different events inspired me to write this blog post.

First a Facebook argument, er...discussion about the relevance of actors and actresses from the 30's and 40's and 50's, what I like to call "The Golden Age of Hollywood."  Mike, a friend of mine and Hubby's, put up an homage to a movie from the 50's, and I stupidly remarked, "Who cares,?" a rather inflammatory thing to say to a classic movie enthusiast, to say the least. His classic movie enthusiast friends came at me like the bats in Dracula's cave.  But what I really meant to say was a lament.  I am also a classic movie enthusiast, and I care about all of those actors and actresses, but I don't think anyone else under the age of 50 does. Few remember who the greats of the past were, and the older we get, the more of us who DO remember, fall away.  How do we keep their memories alive in the younger generation?

(My friend Mike weighs in on that question and our earlier Facebook discussion in a great article "As Time Goes By, Why Don't the Fundamental Things Apply? on the Something Else! Reviews website.  Check it out).

The second event that inspired me to write this post was coming across the book "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die."  (see my review at the end of this blog post).

Guess how many of them date back to the mid-century and before?

And finally, I have to admit, I am a hopeless addict to the many quizzes that show up on Facebook such as "If you were a donut, what donut would you be?" (something with sprinkles) and "What Star Wars Character are You?" (I don't want to say).  

A recent one was "How Many Popular Actresses Can You Name?

You had to recognize the actress through a series of pictures with multiple choice answers. The movie enthusiast that I am, I know my Emma Stone from my Sharon Stone and my Julia Roberts from my Emma Roberts.

I got 10 out of 10. 

But then I thought, OK I love movies, and I am in touch with what's going on now, and I know all of the current popular actresses.  But what about the movies of the past, many of which are honored in the 1001 book? These are the movies that have stood the test of time.  And what about the actors and actresses who starred in those movies? Are they forgotten? Do you know your Audrey Hepburn from your Katharine Hepburn and your Robert Alda from your Alan Alda

Would you recognize their pictures?

Well, let's see, my fellow quiz takers. 

How well will you do on this one?

Actors and Actresses
of the Golden Age of Hollywood -

How Many Can You Name?
a.  Vivian Leigh
b.  Leslie Caron
c.  Hedy Lamarr

a. Barbara Stanwyck
b.  Claudette Colbert
c.  Carole Lombard

a.  Greer Garson
b.  Myrna Loy
c.  Maureen O'Sullivan

a.  Ava Gardner
b.  Linda Darnell
c.  Leslie Caron

a.  Joan Crawford
b.  Bette Davis
c.  Tallulah Bankhead

a.  Bette Davis
b.  Carole Lombard
c.  Joan Crawford

a.  Olivia De Havilland
b.  Deborah Kerr
c.  Debbie Reynolds
a.  Joan Bennett
b.  Rita Hayworth
c.  Lupe Velez

a.   Pat O'Brien
b.  Jimmy Cagney
c.  Edward G. Robinson

a.  Burt Lancaster
b.  Kirk Douglas
c.  Robert Taylor

a.  William Holden
b.  Robert Taylor
c.  Ray Milland

a.  Tyrone Power
b.  William Holden
c.   Robert Taylor
a.  Kirk Douglas
b.  Burt Lancaster
c.  Tyrone Power

a.  Jimmy Stewart
b.  Ray Milland
c.  Joel Macrea

a.  Laurence Olivier
b.  John Gielgud
c.  Clark Gable
Didn't know very many of these people,
did you? 
You can recognize Emma Stone, but you can't recognize Rita Hayworth? 

No offense to Emma Stone or any of the other young actresses and actors, but will they stand the test of time that these actors and actresses from the Golden Age have? 
Now here are the answers.



13-15  You know your classic movie stars.  Thanks for keeping their
            memories alive.

10-13  Looks like you keep up with your classic movies on TCM but keep
            watching.  You can do better.

7-10    No, you can't retake it

4-7      Shame

0-3      My little poodle, Tarquin, did better than that and he was drunk
           at the time (I know, I've used that before, but I think it's funny. I
           think that will always be my low scoring scolding response for my 

And here are the reasons why you should know who these people are. 

Remember those 1001 movies you need to see before you die? 

They were in them.

(some of which I have highlighted below with some classic moments and fun remembrances).

And if you consider yourself a movie buff, you should know their names.

How many of these movies have you seen?

Leslie Caron                         "Gigi"  (1958)

Classic:  The song "Thank Heaven for Little Girls."  I don't think that one would fly today.

Barbara Stanwyck           "The Lady Eve" (1941)

Classic:  Fred McMurray's pratfalls.  A classic in the screwball comedy genre.

Myrna Loy                               "The Thin Man" (1934)

Classic:  Asta the dog.

Ava Gardner                "The Barefoot Contessa" (1954)

Classic:  Ava's beauty.


Bette Davis                           "All About Eve" (1950)

Classic: Bette saying as only Bette can, "Fasten you seatbelts, it's going to be a bumpy night!"

Joan Crawford                  "Mildred Pierce" (1945)
                                                        (the movie, not the dog)

Classic: Long suffering mother with an evil daughter and those shoulder pads!

Deborah Kerr               "From Here to Eternity" (1953)

Classic:  Deborah Kerr and Burt Lancaster lying on the sand kissing as the surf rolls over them.  Made my young heart go pitter patter.  Still does.

Rita Hayworth                       "Gilda" (1946)

Classic: Rita singing "Put the Blame on Mame" while doing a sexy dance (tame by our current standards, hot for 1946).

Jimmy Cagney            "Yankee Doodle Dandy" (1942)

Classic:  Cagney tap dancing. Out of character for an ex-gangster type.

Burt Lancaster                       "Elmer Gantry" (1960)

Classic:  Shirley Jones as a prostitute (remember "The Partridge Family?"  Shocking!  Mrs. Partridge! How could you?  Well, she did and won an Academy Award.  And she still got to play Marian the Librarian!)

Ray Milland                            "The Lost Weekend" (1945)

Classic: The shadow of the bottle hidden in the light fixture.

William Holden                       "Sunset Blvd." (1950)

Classic:  Gloria Swanson uttering, "I'm ready for my close-up, Mr. Demille," as she sinks into madness.

Kirk Douglas                           "Spartacus" (1960)

Marcus Licinius Crassus (Olivier) attempting to seduce Antoninus (Tony Curtis). (This scene was considered too racy and cut in the original but restored to the 1991 re-release).

Joel Macrea                             "Sullivan's Travels" (1941)

Classic:  Veronica Lake's iconic hairdo - her bangs falling over one eye was considered very sexy and became a fad.

Laurence Olivier                      "Rebecca" (1940)

Classic:  Mrs. DanversCreepy, creepy, creepy.

Hitchcock's only Academy Award - for Best Picture - not Best Director.

These were just some of the actors and actresses of the Golden Age of Hollywood who starred in some of the greatest movies ever made.  These actors and actresses defined what was great movie-going for almost 40 years.

Quizzes aside, how do we keep their memories alive?

They deserve to be remembered.

Now on to The Week in Reviews

***In Theatres Now***
Two losers (Jake Johnson and Damon Wayons Jr.) dress up as cops for a costume party and soon find themselves pretending to be real cops.

Ryan (Johnson) is an ex-college football star who hasn't been able to make much of his life since then. Justin (Wayans, Jr.) is a video game designer who can't get his ideas heard and is too timid to ask out a waitress he is interested in (Nina Dobrev).  Ryan and Justin are invited to a costume party and go dressed as policemen.  Our "heroes" find wearing a police uniform has its perks, and suddenly they get the respect they have been craving.  They discover that when you are a cop, people do what you say.  Women are attracted to you.  So they decide to "be cops," responding to actual calls, only to find out that also has its drawbacks.  Policemen get themselves into dangerous situations and our guys are no exceptions.  They soon find themselves tangling with some very bad guys.

I know.  Don't ask.  Well, OK, we had free passes for a preview of the upcoming film "The Maze Runner," but got there too late to get in.  We were there anyway, so decided to see something else.  The timing was right for this one.

And you know what, it was funny. 

Johnson and Wayans star together on the TV show "New Girl" and their chemistry saves the film, which has a rather obvious plot and conclusion.  They play it all straight, which adds to the comedy. Despite the fact that these characters are idiots, they are endearing idiots and you root for them.  Think "Beverly Hills Cop" meets "Dumb and Dumber."

Wayans is Damon Wayons son and it is amazing how much he looks like his Dad and has his Dad's comic timing.  Johnson is hilarious and cringe-worthy as the guy who always makes the wrong decisions.  Keegan-Michael Key is hilarious who you may recognize from "Mad TV" is hilarious as the informant, Pupa. I almost didn't recognize him at first.

Rosy the Reviewer passed my test for a comedy, which is.. "Did I laugh?"  Yes.  However, it will be just as funny at home on DVD.

You Might Have Missed
(And Some You Will Be Glad You Did)

British vampires in Detroit.  Bloody delicious.

Tilda Swinton and Tom Hiddleston play long time lovers Eve and Adam.  What constitutes a long time?  Try eternity.  They are vampires.  He is a successful musician surrounded by his guitar collection, a bit of a luddite and seriously depressed living in Detroit (a dead city, get it?).  Eve is in Tangier hanging out with Christopher Marlowe (yes, that Christopher Marlowe).  Marlowe provides Eve with the best blood you can get.  But Adam's depression is worrying so Eve travels to Detroit (night flights, of course) to be with her lover. All is going along swimmingly for them until Eve's mischievous sister Ava (Mia Wasikowska) descends upon them and screws everything up.

We get to see how modern vampires might survive today, dealing with the 21st Century, of which Adam and Eve do not approve. Both have their blood supply situation figured out, blood that when taken puts them in a heroin-like trance.  They take night flights so they arrive at their destination before dawn and they enjoy blood popsicles

This is another witty and ingenious film by writer/director Jim Jarmusch.  I saw his first film "Stranger than Paradise" in 1984 and was hooked. I still have vivid memories of Eszter Balint (another Eve) walking around New York City deadpan with a huge boom box blasting out "I Put a Spell on You."  That film was followed by "Down by Law," (1986) "Mystery Train, (1989) "Night on Earth" (1991) and others and all had the same quirky, intelligent and humorous tone.  In this latest effort, lots of black humor.

After draining the blood of one of Adam's musician pals, Ava says she feels sick to which Eve replies, "What do you expect?  He's from the music industry."

Eve says to Adam, "How can you live for so long and still not get it?"

There is also a very funny scene as they try to dispose of a dead body.

There is much name-dropping as Jarmusch has some fun with inside jokes, such as Adam and Eve's visit to Jack White's home, mentioning having known Mary Wollstonecraft and Eve's passport using the name "Daisy Buchanan."

This almost felt like a satire on the Twilight series. It could be the Twilight characters all grown up. Vampires trying to exist side by side with the Zombies (their term for humans) without having to get their hands bloody, as it were.  All very civilized until driven by these modern times to act out.

The cinematography is moody and decadent, the music strange and atmospheric, all adding up to a fascinating glimpse into the lives of a couple of erudite, arty immortals.

Rosy the Reviewer says...a vampire movie like you've never seen and one of the best films I've seen all year.

Fading Gigolo (2013)

John Turturro writes, stars and directs in this Woody Allen style film about an aging Lothario who becomes a gigolo to make some cash.

Bookstore owner Murray Schwartz (Woody Allen) is selling his book store, and it just so happens that his doctor (Sharon Stone) had mentioned to him that she wanted to do a menage a trois with her friend (Sofia Vergara).  This somehow prompts Murray to think that pimping out his friend, broke florist Fioravante (Turturro), would be a great way for both of them to make a little money.  

It crosses your mind to ask what Stone and Vergara would see in Turturro, but somehow he is seen as a specimen of female understanding. It's a stretch.  However, his relationship with Avigal (Vanessa Paridis, longtime partner of Johnny Depp and now his ex), a Hasidic widow, is sweet.  Liev Schreiber as Dovi, a member of the Hasidic community's safety patrol and who loves Avigal from afar, rounds out the cast.

Woody Allen's influence on Turturro is evident from the jazz soundtrack to some very quirky "Allen-esque" elements, such as Murray unexplainably living with a much younger African American woman and her children, and of course, Woody himself with his usual quirkiness and funny way of throwing away his lines.

But despite all of that, the film doesn't come together, though it was an interesting idea and the acting was fine. There was promise here.  This was Turturro's fifth film as writer/director and was more mainstream and accessible  than his earlier works.  Maybe the next one will be a winner.

Rosy the Reviewer says...this film has a sweetness about it, but the best things are Woody and the music.

Cuban Fury  (2014)

Bruce Garrett (Nick Frost) is overweight, bored and unhappy, but once he was the reigning young salsa dancer in the UK.  That dream was cut short by some bullies. His love for his new boss (Rashida Jones) revives his love of dance as he sets out to win her.

Bruce and his sister took the UK salsa world by storm as kids, but an unfortunate encounter with some bullies who took issue with his sequined shirt while on his way to the National competition (they made him eat his sequins) led Bruce to give up dancing.  Now he is overweight and working at a lathe factory.  But when he meets, Julia, his new boss and discovers she loves salsa dancing, he decides to give it another go.  He meets up with his bitter old teacher, Ron, (Ian McShane ) to ask for help, all the while being tormented by his co-worker, Drew (Chris O'Dowd) another bully, who also is interested in Julia.  How does our hero overcome the bully?  Why, in a dance-off, of course!

Based on an idea by Frost, this is your typical story of am endearing schlub triumphing over the cool mean kid, but it's charming and funny, mostly because of Frost.
If you are a fan of British comedy, you will recognize Nick Frost as part of that whole hilarious Simon Pegg trilogy:  "Shaun of the Dead,"  "Hot Fuzz"  and "World's End."  Pegg even plays an uncredited role here as a driver in a car park (see if you can spot him).

More comedy is supplied by Bejan (Kayvan Novak), a fellow salsa dancer, who is supposedly Persian, maybe gay, maybe straight, we're not sure. Bejan schools Bruce in what to wear, shaved chest, fake tan and all.

O'Dowd is funny as the bullying co-worker and Rashida Jones is delightful as as the source of Bruce's and Drew's affections. Olivia Coleman, who I loved so much in the mini-series "Broadchurch," rounds out the cast as Bruce's sister and ex-dance partner.
Rosy the Reviewer says...a sweet, predictable film in the mode of "Rocky" and "The Karate Kid," but for dance that even guys will like.  It's not going to win any awards, but I smiled through the whole thing.

***Book of the Week***
1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die  by Steven Jay Schneider (2013)

A beautifully produced book featuring 1001 "classic" films.

This book is sure to spur debate among movie lovers. But as said in the preface, this "was never intended as a 'best of' collection," though many of the films were culled from "Sight and Sound's" Critics Top 250 and Directors Top 100 greatest films polls. Some films were excluded if they didn't pass "the test of time," or if one film was thought to be the best example of an artist's work.

I for one think that the early comedies of Peter Sellers are conspicuously missing - "The Party" and "I Love You, Alice B. Toklas" are particular favorites of mine and even "The Pink Panther," a more popular film, is also absent.  I think comedies often don't get their due respect. But that said, this is still a movie lover's dream. 

Which films do you think are missing? How many have you seen?

Rosy the Reviewer says... check in with me next Friday for Pt. 2 of "1001 Movies You Need to See Before You Die" for highlights and to find out how many I have and haven't seen.
That's it for this Week.

See you Tuesday


"What I Did on My Summer
My Summer in Concerts"

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Friday, March 7, 2014

15 Really, Really Good Actors You Have Never Heard Of: Names You Should Know and Some Films You Should See - and The Week in Reviews

[Where I review movies "Non-Stop," "The Family," "Paranoia" and "Oldboy" and recommend a really, really good book.]

But first
15 Really, Really Good Actors
You Have Never Heard Of

With the Oscars barely behind us, I am already gearing up for the next awards season.

Who will emerge as Best Actor and Actress for 2014?

As a once aspiring actress myself and someone who attends local stage productions and watches the "small films" regularly, I am struck by how much talent there is out there in the world, successful working actors who no one has heard of. 

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median income for an actor is $20.26 per hour and growth in jobs over the next year will be only 4%, the slowest growth of all occupations.  There are about 50,000 members of the Actors' Equity Association, membership in which is a requirement for most acting jobs and it's estimated that only 1% of working actors will hit it big.  So not every actor gets to be an in demand actor like Julia Roberts or Matthew McConaughey or to be deemed a "star." 

Many actors toil for years in regional theatre or indie films and never get the recognition they deserve.  They are faces you recognize but you don't know their names.

So here is a list of some actors and actresses
whose names you should know. 

Some are newbies, some have been around awhile. Hopefully, some or all will hit it big and become the Next Big Thing.  Who knows? Just remember, three years ago you probably didn't know who Jennifer Lawrence was.

I've also given you a list of "must see films" so you can see them in action (and remember their names)!

Who will be the next
household name?

Gael Garcia Bernal 

Gael has been around since 2000 when he starred in the Mexican film, "Amores Perros." He was a big star in Mexico, but mastered the English language and has since starred in more mainstream films such as "A Little Bit of Heaven" with Kate Hudson and "Casa de mi Padre (2012)" with Will Ferrell, but so far he hasn't caught on with American audiences. 

And if he doesn't stay away from films like "The Loneliest Planet (which was bloody awful)," he never will.  But he is an amazingly talented actor. He currently has three films in post-production, so maybe he will score it big in one of those.

See him in: "Y Tu Mama Tambien" (2001)" - this is the film where the critics took notice.

Lily Collins

Daughter of singer Phil Collins and his second wife, Lily moved to the U.S. from the U.K. when she was 5. Ranked #4 in People Magazine's list of "Most Beautiful People," she starred in "Mortal Instruments: the City of Bones" in 2013.

She has several high profile projects coming out in the next couple of years, so watch for her.

See her in "Stuck in Love (2012)"

Rebecca Hall

Rebecca is a British actress who is also a chameleon, which could be why she hasn't reached stardom yet. Perhaps she is too good.  

When I first saw her in Ben Affleck's "The Town," where she played an American, I thought she was one.  She often plays Americans.  Her breakout role was in "The Prestige" in 2006 and she was Vicky in Woody Allen's "Vicky Christina Barcelona."  Many roles have followed but she has yet to connect. She will have the leading female role in the next "Pirates of the Caribbean."  Maybe that will do it.

Which would be ironic because she is so much better than that!

See her in the 2012 TV series "Parade's End" and then compare that to "Closed Circuit (2013)" and you will see why I think she is amazing.

Amber Heard


Amber appeared in "Pineapple Express" and "Zombieland" and currently is in "3 Days to Kill" with Kevin Costner (in theatres now).

She is currently Johnny Depp's latest love.  Hopefully, she can move past that to have her own identity.
(2015 update:  They are married)

See her in "Paranoia (2013)" with hunky Liam Hemsworth.  Those Hemsworth boys...geez.
(SEE review of "Paranoia" below)

Michael B. Jordan

Better known for his roles in the TV series "The Wire," "Friday Night Lights," and "Parenthood," his turn as the ill-fated Oscar Grant in "Fruitvale Station" gave him acting props.  He will soon be starring in "The Fantastic Four (2015)." Maybe that will be his big break.

Isn't it amazing that you have to be a Super Hero for people to notice you?

See him in "Fruitvale Station (2013)"

Melissa Leo

Despite her Best Supporting Actress Oscar for "The Fighter" in 2011 and an Oscar nomination for Best Actress for "Frozen River" in 2008, Melissa is probably better known for dropping the F-bomb at the Academy Awards ceremony than for her body of work which includes many character roles in films and on television.

C'mon, be honest.  She is an Academy Award winner and nominee and you wouldn't have known her from Adam, would you?

See her in "Frozen River (2008)" and "Prisoners (2013)"

James McAvoy

Despite being an X-Man, James is still not a household name.  But he should be. 

He is a wonderful actor but HE-IS-ALSO-ADORB! 

See him in "Atonement (2007)"

David Morrissey

He is one of those faces you see everywhere, but probably don't know his name.  He is a British actor trained at RADA and has starred in many acclaimed British TV series such as "Blackpool" and "Red Riding Trilogy," but he is not as well known in the U.S.  He currently stars in the TV show "The Walking Dead," which could change all of that.

Not to be confused with the singer Morrissey.

See him in "State of Play (2003 TV mini series)."

Eddie Redmayne

He was Marius in "Les Miserables (2013)" and has appeared in many British films.  He has several projects in the works so we will be seeing more of him. 

Another ADORB British actor.  And he has freckles!  He's so cute I just want to...well..

See him in "Birdsong (2012)"

2015 Update:  I called it!  He won the Best Actor Oscar for 2014's "The Theory of Everything."  So see him in that too!

Margot Robbie

She won Leo Di Caprio's heart in "The Wolf of Wall Street" and came to our attention in the ill-fated U.S. TV show "Pan Am," which I actually liked.

I remember her from "Pan Am" - Yes, I watched (wouldn't you know, once I break my reality show addiction and watch a drama series, they yank it off the air midstream.  Hubby and I actually liked it).

She is a beautiful young woman who can act.  We will be seeing more of her.

See her in "About Time (2013)

Dan Stevens

I know you "Downton Abbey" fans recognize him as Matthew Crawley, but did you know his "real" name?  I would venture that you did not.

They had to kill him off of "Downton Abbey" so he could pursue other things so expect to see him again.

We miss you, Matthew!  Downton hasn't been the same since!  But we hope to see you make a splash as your career heats up.

See him in "The Fifth Estate (2013)

2015 Update:  You can also see him in "The Guest" (almost unrecognizable) and "Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb."  Better yet, skip that last one.  He was OK but the movie was terrible.

Juno Temple

Here is another British actress that speaks "American."  She has been appearing everywhere in the last couple of years from "The Dark Knight Rises" to "Lovelace."  She will soon be seen in "Maleficent" with Angelina Jolie.

She can do anything and WILL do anything, which makes her an exciting actress. 

See her in "The Brass Teapot (2012)" and "Little Birds (2011)"

Olivia Wilde

She played an uncredited part on "Saturday Night Live" in 2011 and since then has starred with Steve Carell and Jim Carrey in "The Incredible Burt Wonderstone" and "Her."

Olivia is a beautiful actress who made a splash at the Oscars by showing off her pregnancy in a gorgeous Valentino gown.
See her in "Rush (2013)" with Chris Hemsworth. 
(He would have been on this list if he hadn't already made his mark in "Thor" and for being so incredibly hunky).  

Patrick Wilson

With parts in "The Phantom of the Opera (2004)" and "Insidious (2010)" this guy has been around awhile and can't seem to get out of the horror genre.  But with nine films in post-production we will be seeing much more of him.

He has such a "boy next door" quality, I fear he will always play the put upon hero rather than the romantic leading man.  But he also projects a warmth and realness that is unique.

See him in "The Conjuring (2013)"

Shailene Woodley

She came to our attention in "The Descendants" with George Clooney (2011) and will be starring in the new "Divergent" series, which I predict will be the next big thing since "The Hunger Games."

Another Jennifer Lawrence, perhaps?

See her in "The Spectacular Now (2013)"

2015 Update:  She HAS hit it big!

What actress or actor
do you think we should know about?

Dvds available at your local library or Netflix 

***In Theatres Now***

Our Liam is an air marshal with problems and his problems get worse when someone on his plane threatens to kill a passenger every 20 minutes unless he gets $150 mil.

Liam Neeson planned to retire a few years back and devote more time to the thee-ah-ter and more highbrow enterprises, but even he will admit, money came calling and now he has found his niche in these kinds of thrillers.  And, I must say, he is one of my favorites - a nice big man.

Downton Abbey fans will enjoy seeing Lady Mary, er...Michelle Dockery  acquitting herself well as a flight attendant and Lupita Nuong'o (Best Supporting Actress for "12 Years a Slave") likewise, though Lupita doesn't get much screen time.  But she got her Academy Award!

Rosy the Reviewer says...there are some holes and the ultimate premise is a bit much, but this is a tense, taut thriller reminiscent of Hitchcock, where you don't know who to believe until the end.  It kept me on the edge of my seat.  If you like the "Taken" series, you will like this even more. An exciting couple of hours.

But if you have a fear of flying, this isn't for you.

You Might Have Missed
And Some You Should Be Glad You Did
(I see the bad ones so you don't have to)

The Family (2013)

The Manzoni's, a notorious Mafia family are relocated to Normandy, France under the Witness Protection Plan.  Your typical "fish out of water" plot.

One wonders why Robert DeNiro continues to pick the kinds of movies he does. He seems to be phoning it in these days.

Rosy the Reviewer says...There are laughs and excitement to be had, but this is certainly no "Goodfellas."

Paranoia (2013)

A low level employee in a tech company finds himself forced to spy on the competition.

The evils that our phones can do!

Gary Oldman and Harrison Ford face off as corporate giants and pick on another one of those amazingly beautiful Hemsworth boys, this time Liam. And it's good to see Richard Dreyfuss again.  If you thought you had any privacy whatsoever, think again.

Rosy the Reviewer says...a little muddled and over the top at times, but this is a good one. If you like corporate thrillers, you will like this.  And ladies, you have the added bonus of that nice, tall, Hemsworth boy.  Another nice big man.

Oldboy (2013)

A man is kept prisoner for 20 years and he doesn't know why.  When he is released, he sets out to seek revenge and discovers he must solve a riddle or lose everything he cares about.
Very Turandot, don't you think?
I  know, I know, this appeared in my blog "The Worst Movies of 2013," but I was merely reporting from other critics' lists and then adding a few of my own.  (You didn't think I was actually going to watch "Machete Kills," did you?) 
But this is Spike Lee (who gave us "Do the Right Thing" and "Malcolm X"), and I need to take my own advice, which is..."Think for yourself!"  I had to see it.
There are some instances where you have to go your own way.
Yes, read the critics, but if something still intrigues you, check it out.  And I am a huge Spike Lee fan, even if he can be a dick sometimes, and so I wanted to see why and how he failed.  And you know what?  He didn't. 
Yes, you wonder why he wanted to remake a perfectly good Korean film (you know how I feel about THAT - American remakes of perfectly good foreign films - why? Probably because of those "dreaded" subtitles -"Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" anyone - the ORIGINAL one!?), but I hadn't seen the original film. 
Obviously, Spike really liked that original film. Even so, I can see where Spike went wrong.  About halfway through the film, he goes from high drama to cartoon trying to emulate the martial arts theatrics in some Korean, Japanese and Chinese films and the plot becomes apparent. But you can't blame the actors or and you can't blame Spike for his direction and production values. 
If you hate the film, blame Spike for choosing to remake it. But don't put him on the same list as "Machete Kills" or "Grown Ups 2."  That's just wrong.

Rosy the Reviewer says...I liked it.  I found it gripping and glad I didn't listen to the critics. However, caveat, it is VERY violent and kinky.  But Josh Brolin puts in a bravura performance.  He really goes for it.  If for nothing else, see it for thatBut if you fancy yourself a movie critic, you have to see it to judge it.  It's Spike Lee.  So see it.

Note:  When I say don't listen to the critics, I don't mean me.  You are supposed to listen to me!

***Book of the Week***

The Little Girl Who Fought the Great Depression: Shirley Temple and the 1930's America by John F. Kasson (2014)

A cultural biography of Temple and her effect on a despairing nation during the Great Depression of the 1930's.
Shirley Temple, one of the most popular child stars of the 20th century died on Feburary 10 of this year at the age of 86, so this newly published biography is a timely addition to the film genre. This is not your typical juicy celebrity biography. 

Kasson is a cultural historian and professor of history and American Studies at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, so, though he gives the basics of Temple's and her parent's lives, he is more focused on Temple's smile and personality as a metaphor for the optimism that occurred when FDR took office and the racial boundaries that were broken by her performances with Bill "Bojangles" Robinson. 
Rosy the Reviewer says...this is a well-researched book on the era in which Temple charmed a nation. For more personal facts, read it in conjunction with Temple's own autobiography, "Child Star (1988)." 

That's it for this week.
See you Tuesday for
"What Makes a Great Dad?"

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