Showing posts with label DVDs. Show all posts
Showing posts with label DVDs. Show all posts

Friday, March 28, 2014

Why Oprah Still Matters and The Week in Reviews

[I give you a sneak peek at Kevin Costner's upcoming new movie "Draft Day" - it opens April 11 - and review the movies "Kill Your Darlings," "Telstar: The Joe Meek Story" and "Spinning Plates."  I also recommend a great rock & roll memoir].

But first...

Why Oprah Still Matters

Since I have retired, I have started meditating.  I am om'ing and counting my breaths all over the place, and I really am the better for it.  There is something to being "still" with yourself, living in that quiet space between thoughts, communing with your consciousness, your real self, and being aware of your breath.

I have Oprah to thank for that. 

She and Deepak Chopra have teamed up to present free "Meditation Challenges," and that's what got me started (there is another one - "Finding Your Flow" - starting April 14.  Check it out.)

I miss Oprah.

She is not on TV every day anymore. 

I know we still see her on her OWN channel.  She has several shows she hosts such as her "Oprah Prime" series and "Oprah's Life Class." But since she left her daily afternoon show, it hasn't been the same.

I started watching Oprah's show from the very first episode.  In fact, I can remember seeing her ads for her first show, this overweight black woman who exuded something...what was it?  Realness?  All I knew was that I wanted to be her best friend.  And she was a kind of best friend for over 25 years.
For 25 years, Oprah came into our living rooms and kitchens, interviewing guests on the topics of the day, and sharing her views, but most importantly, sharing herself.

When Oprah first went into national syndication, her show wasn’t much different from Donahue’s or Geraldo’s. And Jerry Springer had not yet gone to the dark side. 

She had the usual shows like “Librarians Gone Wild” and “I’m in love with a librarian. Does that mean I have to read books?" or something like that. 

But it was during a program on skinheads that she had an epiphany. She didn’t want her show to be a vehicle for spreading hate, so she made a conscious decision to move away from the sensational and to use her show as a platform for good. And she has never looked back.

But now Oprah has retired from her daily presence on the small screen and in our homes to pursue her dreams.

Why does Oprah still matter?

  • She practically single-handedly revived the publishing industry with her Oprah’s Book Club where people reported not having read a book in years until she told them to and she is still promoting reading. Here is her list of books for 2013.

  • Her seal of approval was given to countless “favorite things,” thus assuring their success: from Spanx to Miraclebody jeans to Barack Obama’s bid for the Presidency to her current interest in meditation.

  • She launched the careers of Dr. Phil, Dr. Oz, Suze Orman, Rachael Ray and Nate Burkus and she is single-handedly trying to save Lindsay Lohan.

  • She made dreams come true with her Wildest Dreams tour, from helping  audience members figure out their true bra size to bestowing Pontiac G6s to all 276 of her audience members (I wish I had been there). 

  • She has teamed up with Deepak Chopra for Meditation Challenges (I have been doing these and just signed up for the next one.  They are free and wonderful. I highly recommend them.  Can't you tell how much more calm I am?) and one of her new shows on the OWN channel is Super Soul Sundays where she sits with top thinkers, writers and spiritual leaders like Eckhart Tolle or Toni Morrison to try to raise our consciousness.

  • Oprah was and still is a champion of reading and libraries, even if she never did fill her audience with librarians for one of her Favorite Things shows, despite my many emails to her producers. ( Didn't she realize that librarians needed new cars and washers and dryers too)? Oprah said that it is not enough to simply tell children to read, but there should be books in the house. She said, “You make a field trip of a day to the library and make a big deal out of getting your own library card."  Hallelujah!

Her shows made a difference.

Oprah tells the story of a woman who came up to her in a store and told her that she used to beat her kids. And then she watched an Oprah show about how you weren’t supposed to beat your kids. At first that didn’t make sense to her, because her mother had beaten her and her mother had been beaten. But she kept watching the show and she said that Oprah had been consistent about this issue. So she said she was going to try to not beat her kids for one week. She tried it for a week and then a second week. And then she said, “Now I can’t remember how long it’s been. I don’t beat my kids anymore---and I got different kids.”

As Oprah says, quoting her friend Maya Angelou, "When you know better, you do better."

For me personally, it was Oprah herself that I tuned in to see every day. 

Oprah was like a close girlfriend for 25 years, sharing her own story which included child abuse, issues with weight and her “aha moments.” Her sincerity urged me to make a difference and to be my best self. Her programs always seemed relevant to what was going on in my life at the time. When I would share some new idea with my family about family time or how we might want to change something, my son would yell, “Mom’s been watching Oprah again.” When the change was something he didn’t like, he would cry, “I hate Oprah!”

She is one of the most powerful women in the world, and she has chosen to use that power to help others. No matter what you think of her, I don't think you can say her heart is not in the right place.  She wanted to use TV to make the world better.  She has her own network and what she shows there is of a higher nature than most television. 

On her website she shares her vision:

"My life's work is about fulfilling my potential and leading other people to fulfill their own. It is my calling to help other people find their calling and summon the courage to live it."

So even though Oprah is not on television every day she is still a presence as she uses her fame and power for good.

And we should support her.  If you complain about television, then you should support people who are trying to elevate it and use it for higher goals.  Check it out.

Oprah deserves all of the accolades, and I am glad she is realizing her own dreams.

But I miss seeing her every day. 

I think she should run for President. 

Or at least become my best friend.

What do you think of Oprah?

Oh, on second thought, I don't really care. 
I don't want you to say anything bad about Oprah.

Check out her new website.

The Week in Reviews

***In Theatres April 11***

Sneak Preview
Kevin Costner plays the General Manager of the Cleveland Browns and his career is on the line if he doesn't put together a winning team on Draft Day.
This movie doesn't open in theatres until April 11, but my active theatre-going resulted in some free tickets to this sneak peek.
Hubby had to explain some of it to me (as in how the draft works) since I am not a big football fan, and I probably wouldn't have gone to this if my beloved Kevin wasn't in it.  But football fans will enjoy the real life football footage, the behind the scenes wheeling and dealing for draft picks and the appearances of famous football heroes.

I could have done without the romance side story, but didn't mind the big kiss at the end ('cuz I LOVE Kevin).
(Humorously, the Seattle Seahawks had the first pick here and were the "bad guys!" This must have been made before we won the Super Bowl).
Rosy the Reviewer fans will enjoy this despite some implausibilities.  And it's a nice lead-in to the actual NFL draft in May.

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


Recreation of a true life murder that brought Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac and William Burroughs together.

It's 1944 and all three meet while at Columbia University. It's early days for what will become the "Beat Generation." Ginsberg is just finding his writing chops. They fall under the thrall of charismatic Lucien Carr, who is supposedly being stalked by an older man.

"Kill your darlings" comes from a quote arguably attributed to William Faulkner.  It's a caution to writers that to reach their writing potential they must get rid of their literary self-indulgences and pretentions.

Rosy the Reviewer says...Brace yourselves, Harry Potter Fans. Daniel Radcliffe like you have never seen him. An interesting addition to the history of the Beat Poets.

This documentary shares the stories of three restaurants: Alinea, a Chicago restaurant with three Michelin starsBreitbach's Country Dining in Balltown, Iowa and La Cucina de Gaby in Tucson, Arizona.

There could not be three more different restaurants.  Alinea embraces molecular gastronomy and the concept of food as art; Breitbach's embraces home cooking and provides a place for locals to meet; and La Cucina de Gaby embraces Mexican comfort food. 

What links them together?  They all faced tragedy and heartbreak and triumphed.  And they all really cared about their customers' dining experience.
Rosy the Reviewer says...A foodie's delight.

Telstar: The Joe Meek Story (2008)

A biopic about the rise and tragic fall of British record producer Joe Meek, who had a huge hit in 1962 with "Telstar," the first record by a British group to make it to #1 in the U.S. He recorded many artists who went on to have big careers (Tom Jones, Gene Vincent...) and his influence on the music industry is still felt today.


 Recognize it?
Despite his genius and innovations in music production, Meek had issues.  He was the British equivalent of Phil Spector.

I love biopics, but this one doesn't know if it wants to be a comedy or a tragedy. It starts out with over the top comical characters and then morphs into tragedy. It's all over the place. Despite a good performance by Con O'Neill as Meek, there is a lot of scenery chewing (do you hear me, Kevin Spacey?). What could have been a compelling story fails to engage.
Rosy the Reviewer says...very atmospheric take on the British pop scene of the early 60's and a sad story, but it's a bit of a slog.  Depends on how dedicated you are to films, biopics and the music world of the 1960's.  I had trouble with this one.  But this guy is worth knowing about.
(For a better British biopic on a similar topic and of the same era, try "The Look of Love."  I reviewed it here). 

***Book of the Week***

Wild Tales: A Rock and Roll Life by Graham Nash (2013)

Musician Graham Nash candidly shares his life, his love affairs and his stints in The Hollies and with David Crosby, Stephen Stills and Neil Young.

I judge a memoir on how readable it is and how honest and this one meets both criteria.  It's a fast, fun read that you Baby Boomers will especially love.  All the shenanigans of the 1960's and 1970's are here.  Made me very nostalgic for the good old days of sex, drugs and rock and roll!

Rosy the Reviewer says...for rock & roll memoirs, they don't get any better than this.
That's it for this week.

See you Tuesday for

 "Why We Need Librarians."


Thanks for reading!

If you enjoyed this post, feel free to share it and/or email it to your friends.

Check your local library for DVDs and book mentioned.


Friday, March 14, 2014

My Top 10 Movie Musicals of All Time and The Week in Reviews

[I review "3 Days to Kill" and DVDs  "Jobs," " Hunger Games: Catching Fire," "Broken Circle Breakdown" and "Inside Llewyn Davis" and give you "The Book of the Week."]

But first

The American Musical is beyond compare.

The Musical is an art form that through music, song, dance and dialogue takes us away from ourselves.  It is ever changing with the times.  During the Great Depression musical comedy soothed the national soul and later, shows like "South Pacific" and "Showboat" took on social issues. But no matter what the purpose, if you leave the theater humming the tunes, it has been successful.

I know I am putting myself out on a limb here to only choose 10, because I love musicals, but if I had to choose, these are the very best.

Note that these are MOVIE musicals, not Broadway musicals. 

If I did a list of best or most important stage musicals it might be very different, e.g. "Oklahoma" would be on the list, not because I love the libretto, (also known as the "book" ), or even the music that much, but, because it was the first musical written by Rodgers and Hammerstein, and Agnes De Mille did the choreography.  Likewise, "Rent" and "A Chorus Line" would be on that list, because they were ground breakers, but not here -- those two were abominable movies.

Likewise, I am hard pressed to find new musicals that measure up to the ones produced during the "Golden Age."  With the exception of a couple such as "Les Miserables," "Phantom of the Opera" and "The Book of Mormon," recent musicals have been a disappointment.


Here are my Top Ten movie musicals
and why.

All that Jazz (1979)

What's it about?
Bob Fosse's dark autobiographical take on life and the musical.

Why it's in my top 10.
Bob Fosse and his dark take on life and the musical.

An American in Paris (1951)


What's it about?
An American in Paris, silly.

Why it's in my top ten.
Beautiful Gershwin music and the 18-minute ballet with Gene Kelly and Cyd Charisse.

Cabaret (1972)

What's it about?
The divine decadence of 1930's Berlin before the Nazis came to power.

Why it's in my top 10.
Under Bob Fosse's direction, it's truly an adult musical. Liza Minnelli aint bad either.

Funny Girl (1968)

What it's about.
The life of Fanny Brice.
Why it's in my top ten.
Barbara Streisand singing "Don't Rain on My Parade."  She's also really funny.
Gypsy (1962)
What's it about?
A domineering stage mother and her famous stripper daughter "Gypsy Rose Lee."

Why it's in my top 10? 
Rosalind Russell as Mama (and of course, the songs).

A Hard Day's Night (1964)

What it's about.
The Fab Four out on the town.

Why it's in my top ten.
It's the Beatles, Baby! 
And this film also changed a lot of young lives (see my blog "Why the Beatles Matter").

Les Miserables (2012)


What's it about?
A bunch of miserable people in a miserable time in French history.

Why it's in my top ten.
"One more day."

Singin' in the Rain (1952)

What's it about?
The difficult transition from silent films to talkies.

Why it's in my top 10.
Gene Kelly and his famous dance in the rain and Donald O'Connor giving him a run for his money with his back flips.  And who can forget, "Good morning, Good morning, rise up and greet the day, good morning, good morning, to you!"  I know my kids can't.  We sang that to them every morning when they were growing up.

West Side Story (1961)

What's it about?
A modern retelling of "Romeo and Juliet."

Why it's in my top ten.
The first of the really modern, realistic (except for the dancing in the street, of course) musicals thanks to the sophisticated, edgy and gorgeous Bernstein-Sondheim songs and score.

The Wizard of Oz (1939)

What's it about?
If you don't know, you have been living under a rock for the last 75 years.

Why it's in my top ten.
Judy Garland

What do you think?

If there are any of these you haven't seen, get thee to your local library (or Netflix)!

t will be a great way for you to spend your weekend instead of bingeing on past seasons of "Game of Thrones" or "Breaking Bad."


A dying, but still smart-ass, CIA assassin must complete one last assignment in exchange for a treatment that could save his life.
Not many movies at my local theatres that I want to see or haven't seen, so decided to try this one. 
After all, I like the occasional spy thriller, and Kevin Costner has been my secret crush ever since I saw him, dressed head to toe in Armani, playing in the
A T & T Golf Tournament at Pebble Beach (and he still looks damn good)!  

Most of the story takes place in Paris which is always a plus and there are some great action sequences (I only had my hands over my eyes a couple of times).  However, I could have done without the father-daughter subplot and even the squatters, and I never figured out why it was just "three days."  I must have let my mind wander a bit fantasizing about Kevin.

Amber Heard acquits herself well as a tough CIA agent, but I don't think this is the breakout role she needs for super stardom (see my blog "15 Really, Really Good Actors You Have Never Heard Of").
Rosy the Reviewer says...if you like action, this film has got it.  If you like smart-ass CIA agents, Costner makes a great grizzled action hero.  If you can overlook some of the plot devices, you will enjoy this. 
(Now I have to go tell Kevin he has been replaced with Chris Hemsworth as my secret crush.  I like them younger).

You Might Have Missed
And Some You Should Be Glad You Did
(I see the bad ones so you don't have to)
Jobs (2013)

The story of Steve Jobs' rise to power as one of the most innovative entrepreneurs of the 20th century.

Ashton Kutcher is surprising as the mercurial Jobs.

Rosy the Reviewer says...Not sure it sheds any new light on the man, but it's an enjoyable two hours.
 Katniss and Peeta are back for Round 2.

This just seems to be a rehash of the first movie in the series.  It must be the curse of the second installment of any trilogy.  It left you waiting for Round 3.
Rosy the Reviewer says...Hugely disappointed in this.  I hope the third one is better and wraps it all up. 

The Broken Circle Breakdown (2012)

Can a marriage withstand the death of a child? 
This Belgian film was nominated for a Best Foreign Film Academy Award this year and many critics thought it would win ("The Great Beauty" was the winner).  It's original in its theme of a Belgian couple entranced with America and American bluegrass music, and there is lots of banjo pickin' and old country music throughout.  Yes, there are European country music devotees.
However, the crux of the film is how these two deal with the death of their little girl, with the stem cell research controversy and the belief in an afterlife vs. atheism thrown in.  Will the circle be unbroken?
Rosy the Reviewer says...not sentimental, no cliches, this will tug at your heart strings.  Reminded me of "Once."  A must see.

Inside Llewyn Davis (2013)

The Coen brothers take on the New York City Village folk music scene of the early 1960's and those who struggled to make it there.
This is not the kind of story you would expect from the Coens, though their cinematic style is in evidence:  quirky characters, moody cinematography, claustrophobic interiors and dark storyline.
Supposedly based on the life of folkie Dave Van Ronk, the film is peopled with some real and some fictional characters from that period such as Jim and Jean (I was a HUGE fan of theirs and still have two of their albums) and Bob Dylan, and, in general, most of the characters are very unpleasant folks.  Newcomer Oscar Isaac sings well and does a good job with this character, a not very likable guy...unless you are a cat.  He has five projects in the works so you will be seeing more of him.
See it with "The Broken Circle Breakdown (see review above)" for an interesting counterpoint.
Rosy the Reviewer says...though an interesting film, I do not agree with some critics that it deserved to be nominated for an Academy Award for Best Picture.  In fact, some Coen brothers fans might be disappointed in this.  But see it for yourself.  After all, it's the Coen Brothers, two of the most innovative filmmakers we have these days.
***Book of the Week***
May the Road Rise Up To Meet You (2012) by Peter Troy


Four characters from vastly different backgrounds come together with the Civil War as a backdrop.

Four parallel stories, each beautifully told from a different perspective:  an Irish immigrant, a feisty young woman of Spanish descent and two slaves.

“May the road rise up to meet you
May the wind be always at your back
May the sun shine warm upon your face
And the rain fall soft upon your fields
And until we meet again
May God hold you in the palm of his hand”
― Irish Blessings
Rosy the Reviewer says...Riveting.  A must read!
That's it for this week.


See you Tuesday for

"My Guilty Pleasures"


Thanks for reading!

If you enjoyed this post, feel free to share it and/or email it to your friends.