Showing posts with label Golden Age of Hollywood. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Golden Age of Hollywood. Show all posts

Friday, January 6, 2017

"Lion" and The Week in Reviews

[I review the new movie "Lion" as well as DVDs "Meet the Patels" and "Suicide Squad."  The Book of the Week is Robert Wagner's appreciation of the actresses of the Golden Age of Hollywood "I Loved Her in the Movies." I also bring you up-to-date with "My 1001 Movies I Must See Before I Die Project" with "Apocalypse Now" (and I already hear you saying, "You haven't seen that movie?"  I know.]



 
Lion

 
A five-year-old boy living in a rural part of India is separated from his older brother and finds himself in Calcutta, thousands of miles from home, lost and alone.

Little Saroo (Sunny Pawar) lives in a rural town in Khandwa, India, with his mother, Kamla (Priyanka Bose) his older brother, Guddu (Abhishek Bharate) and his little sister, Shekela (Khushi Solanki).  They are a poor family so to help their mother, who labors carrying rocks, Guddu and Saroo jump on coal trains and steal the coal to sell.  It's a hard life, but the family is getting by and they are happy. The mother is loving and Guddu looks after little Saroo. 

Saroo wants to be like his big brother, so when Guddu goes off to get some night work in another town, Saroo begs to go along.  They take the train and when they arrive, Saroo is asleep and doesn't want to wake up.  Guddu tells Saroo to sleep on the bench in the train station and to stay there until he gets back.  When Saroo eventually wakes up, he is all alone at the train station and no Guddu in sight, so he starts to look for him. He gets on an empty train, and before he knows it, the train starts up and off it goes with Saroo in it.  All of the doors are locked and the train doesn't stop until it arrives in Calcutta, over 1000 miles away from his home. 

Saroo is finally able to get off and tries to find help, but he doesn't speak Bengali. He only speaks Hindi so he is not able to communicate with anyone. He lives on the streets for months, encountering some not very nice people, until he is befriended by a young man who speaks Hindi and who takes him to the police station.  Saroo tries to tell them where he is from, but no one has heard of it. 

"What's your mother's name?"  "Mum."  (Right there everyone, be sure your children know your full name). Saroo ends up in an abusive orphanage but is eventually adopted by John and Sue Brierley (David Wenham and Nicole Kidman), a couple living in Australia, well, Hobart, Tasmania, actually.

So that's the first half of the film, which is harrowing and thrilling, but if you are expecting to see Dev Patel, it doesn't happen until the second half, which is 25 years later (2012) and Saroo is all grown up and totally acclimated to life in Australia.  He is a typical Australian and seemingly uninterested in his heritage, until he takes a hotel administration course in Melbourne and attends a party with some other Indians. There he encounters an Indian confection and memories start flooding back.  He remembers the last time he was with his brother and this confection was one that his brother and he were going to buy when they had some money. 

The last half of the film is all about Saroo having more and more flashes of memory and trying to find a needle in a haystack.  He doesn't know the name of the town where he was from, and he doesn't know his mother's name.  He only remembers that the train station where his brother left him had a water tower.  But he starts a search using Google Earth (this movie is a huge advertisement for Google Earth), trying to determine how far he might have traveled on that train. He is haunted by the fact that his mother and brother must wonder and worry about what happened to him, so he becomes consumed with finding them, so much so that by the end, Saroo is a wreck, his hair is practically standing on end and his girlfriend (Rooney Mara, whose presence is actually not a necessary part of the movie) leaves him.

The second half of the film is less thrilling than the first, and even bogs the film down a bit, but the ending makes up for that.

Directed by Garth Davis, this is a true story based on the book, "A Long Way Home" by Saroo Brierley and adapted for the screen by Luke Davies.

I kept wondering where the title came from, but all is explained at the very end of the film in what has become a common ending for movies based on true stories: A postscript appears on the screen and we get to see the real people and find out what happened to them.

And get your hankies out, because if you aren't crying already before the credits roll, you will definitely shed some tears when you find out what happened.

Someone jokingly said this is a live action version of "Finding Dory."  It kind of is, but I cried in "Finding Dory" too!

I like Dev Patel, and remember his fine work in "Slumdog Millionaire," but here I felt at times that his performance was bit forced and overly dramatic.

Nicole Kidman was very believable as Sue Brierley, a woman who adopted two  supposed orphaned Indian boys because she wanted to do good.  She loved them both dearly, though one son, Mantosh, was very disturbed.  But she wears the most goddawful wigs. I know it was the 80's and she was trying to look like the real Sue Brierley, but sheesh.

However, the shining star is little Sunny.  You know how I feel about most child actors in films, but this kid is not your usual over-precocious smart aleck kid, but rather a young boy whose quiet face and huge eyes tell the story.

Rosy the Reviewer says...a harrowing but inspirational and heartwarming story that is a testament to the need to know where one has come from.




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

On DVD







Meet the Patels (2014)



Actor-comic Ravi Patel decides that now that he is 30, he needs to get married, so agrees to allow his parents and extended family to find him a wife in the traditional Indian way.

What are the odds that I would review two movies in one week that both have the name Patel playing a prominent role? It is a total coincidence that I am reviewing a movie about a family of Patels and "Lion," starring Dev Patel (see above).  But as Ravi Patel explains in this film, his name in India is the equivalent of the name John Smith in the United States.  So I guess it was bound to happen.

Ravi's family thinks that, not only is he not married, but that he has never even had a girlfriend, and in the Indian culture, if you are not married by the age of 30, that is something to be worried about.  But Ravi has had a girlfriend, albeit his first and only, but because Ravi's girlfriend, Audrey, was a redhead from Connecticut, he was afraid to introduce her to his family. Ravi was unable to commit to Audrey and has broken up with her and thinks...what the hell?  I haven't found the right girl to marry yet, why not try matchmaking?  My parents have an arranged marriage and they are happy, so?

Needless to say, his parents are thrilled because they want their son to be married. 

The family goes on an annual trip to India which is filmed by Ravi's sister and co-director and gives the filmmakers an opportunity to add a backstory, share their culture, their father's immigration to the U.S. and his arranged marriage to their mother. 

When they all return to the U.S. the film becomes all about Ravi and finding him a wife.  We get to see the world of Indian matchmaking with the "bio-data" that gets sent to the families involved in matchmaking (everyone who is looking for a spouse puts out their "biodata," a sort of marital resume). The search for a wife does not just include marrying an Indian girl but the girl needs to be a Patel from a particular part of India (Gujarat) and she must be well educated, her family must fit the criteria and she must be recommended by someone the family knows and respects. 

Ravi travels the country meeting prospective wives and going on dates and there is humor derived from these encounters.  But Ravi and his family and extended family comprise the heart of the film.  They are all amusing and engaging people.

Co-directed by Ravi and his sister, Geeta, the film uses some humorous animation to propel the story and the wobbly, hand-held camera gives the film a home movie feel. 

Ravi eventually realizes he doesn't need to marry an Indian girl and his parents realize that too.  They just want him to get married.  I think you will figure out how this will all end well before it does, but it is still a fun ride.

Rosy the Reviewer says...a fascinating and humorous look inside the world of Indian matchmaking, and if you like "Married at First Sight" or "Married by Mom and Dad," you will especially enjoy this.
(In Gujarati and English with English subtitles).

 
 
 



Suicide Squad (2016)


Some of the most nefarious imprisoned villains in the world are offered clemency if they will help save the world from the Apocalypse.

Another DC Comics offering that starts with an introduction of each character and what his or her thing, er, "special skill" is:

  • Floyd Lawton AKA Deadshot (Will Smith) is a skilled hit man.  His thing is that he never misses.  However, his weakness is his 11-year-old daughter.

  • Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) was a psychiatrist and The Joker (Jered Leto), yes, that Joker, Batman's arch-enemy, was her patient until she fell in love with him.  He manipulated her to the point of madness and the two became the King and Queen of Gotham.  She is a nutter of the highest order. Her thing is that she is so crazy she is fearless.

  • George "Digger" Harkness AKA Captain Boomerang (Jai Courtney) throws boomerangs.  His thing is that those darn boomerangs can cause considerable damage.

  • El Diablo's (Jay Hernandez) thing is that he can make fire with his hands and blow things up, but the problem is that he afraid of his own ability and doesn't want to use it.


  • Doctor June Moone (Cara Delevingne) was a buttoned-up woman until she became inhabited by a witch - The Enchantress.  Her thing is that she plans to destroy the world.

The first 20 minutes of this movie is all set up for the characters, which I have to warn you right now, is the best part

When we meet Amanda Waller (Viola Davis), from a secret agency attached to Homeland Security, and her second-in-command, Col. Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman), a sort-of good guy who just happens to be in love with June Moone (a conflict of interest, perhaps?), we find out that she wants to form a team of villainous meta-humans to keep the United States safe.  Waller has the Enchantress's heart and can control her as long as she has it, but, of course, the Enchantress gets her heart back and wreaks havoc on the world.  So our villains must not only save the world from the Enchantress, but they need to save Dr. Moone who is trapped inside her.

There are so many holes in this thing e.g. the Enchantress has this huge guy as her henchman. He was just your average businessman until she imbued him with power. How did she do that if she didn't really have much power without her heart?  And where did that Asian girl in the mask come from?  And those letters Flag had from Deadshot's daughter...

But I know, I know.  The point of this is not to make sense.  It's to enjoy the craziness, violence, characters and the comedy aspects. 

Written and directed by David Ayer (whose publicity photo on IMDB looks like he could be a member of the "Squad" himself), I feel kind of funny reviewing this film since I am decidedly NOT the demographic this was aimed at.  In fact, I read recently that most movie-goers are 18-24-year-old men, so most movies are not aimed at my demographic. I think I mentioned in my review of "Deadpool" what happened to me when I bought a ticket for that film.  I said, "One senior for 'Deadpool,' please" and the young man behind the ticket counter said, "I sure haven't heard that before."  So you see, that movie and this one were not meant for the likes of me, but here I am anyway.
 
Highlights of the film were Jared Leto, unrecognizable as The Joker and, as usual, embracing his character fully as in totally over-the-top nutty, Viola as a badass and Margot as a psycho.  Will Smith just looked confused, like he was wondering what he was doing there.

Rosy the Reviewer says...and since I am not the demographic that this movie was aimed at, that's about all I have to say about it. I will leave the rest to those 18-24-year-olds that made this movie a big box office hit.



 
***My 1001 Movies I Must See Before I Die Project***




220 to go!

Have YOU seen this classic film?
(apparently everyone has but ME)!




Apocalypse Now (1979)

During the Vietnam War, Captain Willard (Martin Sheen) is sent to Cambodia to assassinate a rogue army colonel who has set up camp among the locals.

OK, OK, I know. How is it possible for a movie lover like myself to have NOT seen this film?  Well, to be honest, I don't like war movies, excessive gore or movies without women in them, so I guess I wasn't interested at the time. 

However, I certainly knew about the Robert Duvall quote "I love the smell of napalm in the morning.  It smells like victory," "The Flight of the Valkyries" music playing while American helicopters flew over a Vietnamese village and soldiers wiped everyone out from above, and what director Francis Ford Coppola went through to make the film, so I am glad I have finally seen the whole movie.  It was quite an experience, and now I know what all of the fuss was about, though I will say that the first half of the film far outweighed Brando and how it all ended.

Captain Willard is a special ops guy who has his own issues.  When we first see him he is on R & R, running around his hotel room in his skivvies acting like a psycho, but that's what a war can do to you. He is ordered back to camp where he is given a mission: to make his way to Cambodia to find Colonel Kurtz (Marlon Brando) and to "terminate his command.  To us civvies, that is soldier-speak to basically assassinate him. It seems that Kurtz has gone mad, set himself up in a native village as a sort of god and has his own little army in place. 

Has Kurtz gone mad?  Or has he come to his senses about the horrors of war?  That is the question as the film becomes an allegory for the insanity of war.

Willard takes a swift boat to get to his destination and is joined by the usual motley crew of guys we see in most war movies - Chief Phillips (Albert Hall), the boat pilot, Lance (Sam Bottoms), a surfer who suns himself on the boat's deck when he isn't wielding his weapon; Tyrone "Mr. Clean" Miller (Laurence Fishburne), who likes the occasional toke of pot; and "Chef" Hicks (Frederic Forrest).  But the quirky assortment of soldiers is the only thing this movie has in common with a typical war movie.  Coppola used music and imagery (cinematography by the famed Vittorio Starraro) to create a surreal world that must have been what that war felt like to callow 18-year-olds who were drafted and sent there to fight a war they didn't understand.

The film opens with The Doors' "This is the End," a fitting opening considering the hell that was Vietnam.  "The Greatest Generation" had WWII, a war they could be proud of, if one can be proud of a war.  Us Baby Boomers had Vietnam, a horrible hell-hole of a war that was unwinnable, and this movie captures that ethos in all of its horror and outrageousness.  Colonel Kurtz  says, "The horror.  The horror."  That about sums it up. That war seemed to be heralding the Apocalypse, and Coppola shows the war as a chaotic free-for-all ,where no one really knew what was going on or who the enemy was.  Hell probably is just like that.

An incredibly memorable scene among many is Tyrone listening to a tape from his mother when he is shot by the enemy offshore.  As he lay bloody and dying on the boat, the tape continues with his mother telling him to take care and come home safely.

This film was a star-maker - you will recognize a very young Harrison Ford in the early scenes; Martin Sheen and Sam Bottoms had been mostly toiling in TV movies until this film; this was only Laurence Fishburne's third feature film, and this movie certainly helped the careers of Frederic Forrest and Robert Duvall, both of whom have had long careers since.  If you have an eagle eye, you will spot Bill Graham as the guy running the USO show, and Coppola himself appears briefly as a filmmaker documenting the war.

So the film boosted many careers, but making the film was not without its problems and took a toll on its participants. Brando had begun his descent into letting himself go and arrived on the set overweight and unprepared.  Martin Sheen, only 36, had a heart attack while filming.  Sets were destroyed by weather and what was to be a sixteen week shoot turned into 238 days.  In post-production, Coppola struggled to edit thousands of feet of footage, thus postponing release of the film.  The film was a combination of Conrad's novel "Heart of Darkness" and Homer's "Odyssey," which after all of the problems, Coppola dubbed it "The Idiocy."

Though Brando and Duvall got top billing, Duvall only had a small (but memorable) part and Brando was only on screen for about 30 minutes of this two hour and 30 minute movie, this is Sheen's movie.  He was mesmerizing. I was shocked at how young he looked, but then I am shocked that it's been 38 years since it was 1979, when this film was released and I was only 31.  I was also struck by how much Sheen looked like his son Emilio Estevez.

The film was nominated for eight Academy Awards and won five: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Cinematography, Best Sound and a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for Duvall.

Why it's a Must See: "Flawed but staggering cinema, the set pieces are unforgettable...[and] Coppola surrenders to an unnervingly ambiguous-end.  The ultimate horror of this hypnotic trip, though, is how closely it has been said to capture the reality of Nam."
---"1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die"

Rosy the Reviewer says...an unforgettable experience in more ways than one.

 
 
***Book of the Week***







I Loved Her in the Movies:  Memories of Hollywood's Legendary Actresses by Robert J. Wagner (2016)



Robert Wagner salutes the actresses of The Golden Age of Hollywood.

Yes, THAT Robert Wagner.  The handsome leading man who was married to Natalie Wood and had huge success on TV channeling Cary Grant on "Hart to Hart."

Several readers have asked why I don't review more novels and why I tend to lean so much toward biographies and nonfiction. I know that I am heavy on the nonfiction side, but when I think about it, I realize that it's only natural that I would gravitate toward biographies of actors.  I mean, I love movies and TV, I have all of my life, and I spend a great deal of time reviewing them so it's only natural I would gravitate toward that subject matter.  But I promise, more novels!

Wagner has been an actor for almost 70 years and since he started in 1949, he has seen it all and knew just about everyone.  And it says something about the guy that he not only has great admiration for the women in this book (he only says some not so nice things about a couple), but that he had so many friends and good relationships with his fellow actors and other industry types.  You can tell that would be the case from this book, because he comes off as a thoughtful man who has no problem being self-deprecatory and giving props to those who helped him in the business.

This book is a decade-by-decade compilation of anecdotes about the women who were the big Hollywood stars of the 30's through the 80's.  You will enjoy his stories, some I have never heard before (and I read a LOT of celebrity bios). 

But he also has insight into the movie business, so this is not just page after page of juicy gossip about the stars of yesteryear, but rather a thoughtful and insightful look inside the movie business and the making of movies.

"...the movie industry has always been resistant to any form of change...It's a mark of how psychologically conservative the movie business is that no major technological change has ever been developed in-house at a movie studio.  Not one.  Warners rented Western Electric's sound system; the Technicolor Corporation developed its own process and rented it out to the studios; Fox bought CinemaScope from a French inventor.  And so forth.  It's always the same: A tidal wave of change that begins outside the studio walls ultimately can't be resisted, and the studios finally capitulate.  And the tragic thing is the studios could have owned all of it.  They could have owned sound instead of renting it; they could have owned color instead of renting it; they could have owned NBC and CBS instead of gradually becoming subservient to them.  And 20th Century Fox could have built and owned Century City instead of selling off so much prime real estate to raise money for "Cleopatra."

He also not only loves women, he respects them and recognizes how difficult it is for women in the movie business when an actress's career is almost over at 40.

If you are a movie lover, especially of movies from the Golden Age of Hollywood, you will enjoy his anecdotes about Bette Davis, Marilyn Monroe, Barbara Stanwyk and Joan Crawford, and of course Wagner was married to Natalie Wood - all names you no doubt recognize.  But what about Ann Rutherford, Debra Paget, Jean Simmons, Kay Francis, Jean Arthur and Ina Claire?  I humbly brag that I knew every actress he talked about thanks to my Dad and his love of old movies.  I spent many a night staying up late watching the midnight movies with him on TV.

It was particularly poignant to read what Wagner had to say about Debbie Reynolds in light of her recent death.  This book was obviously written before she died, but I am so glad to see her included. It has been annoying to me to hear young people on the radio wondering why Debbie Reynolds' death was such a big deal.  They thought the only thing she had ever done was "Singing in the Rain," and few had even seen it - one of the great musicals of all time.  They didn't know that Debbie Reynolds was a big movie star.  But Wagner does her proud.

"Debbie could sing, and Debbie could dance, and Debbie could also act...I respect her talent, but what I particularly adore about Debbie is her gallantry.  Like everybody else, she can get depressed, but she never lets the audience see her that way.  When the light hits her, she's ON, and the audience is going to have a great time...She wants to make people happy, which is why she's one of the great show-business professionals."

Rest in peace, Debbie.

So if you are a movie lover, here is your chance to test your knowledge of the great actresses and, if need be, to bone up a bit.

(Extra points if you can identify the actress on the above cover of the book).

Rosy the Reviewer says...I am always lamenting that the great stars of the old movies have been forgotten by the younger generation, so you know that I enjoyed every juicy morsel of this book.  They are all here waiting to be remembered.  Thank you, Robert!

 

Thanks for reading!

 
See you next Friday 

 
for my review of

"Hidden Figures"

and


The Week in Reviews
(What to See or Read and What to Avoid)


 and the latest on



"My 1001 Movies I Must See Before 

 I Die Project." 


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Go to IMDB.com, find the movie you are interested in.  Once there, click on the link that says "Explore More" on the right side of the screen.  Scroll down to External Reviews and when you get to that page, you will find Rosy the Reviewer alphabetically on the list.

NOTE:  On some entries, this has changed.  If you don't see "Explore More" on the right side of the screen, scroll down just below the description of the film in the middle of the page. Click where it says "Critics." Look for "Rosy the Reviewer" on the list.

Or if you are using a mobile device, look for "Critics Reviews." Click on that and you will find me alphabetically under "Rosy the Reviewer."





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.


b,a,b,a,b,c,b,b,b,a,c,b,a,c,a


Scoring:

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 
           quizzes)



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


***DVDS***
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

for


"What I Did on My Summer
Stay-cation:
My Summer in Concerts"




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