Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Help' ***stars



it is wonderful that 'the help' has become a grand slam winner at the box office. it's a mainstream film that touches the heart while it is at the same time disturbing. but wait...the disturbing parts are infact the most touching. i think this movie could have been second rate though were it not for the brilliant performances of the lead women in it. viola davis, emma stone, octavia spencer, allison janney, sissy spacek and bryce dallas howard all shine.

pampered white southern women and their 'help'. i have often seen this subject matter treated in more cliched films over the years. here it is not so cliched. i don't think it's the 'last word' on the subject. it should not be the 'last word' but for now it is the best word so far.

viola davis and octavia spencer should get academy consideration come oscar time in best actress and supporting categories respectively. they get a nom from me. there are not many really good parts for black actresses on screen. these two actresses nabbed two of the best to date.

i think just about everyone has seen this film judging from the boffo box office it has done. if you have not i say put it on your list of things to do and see it before the fall/winter oscar hopefuls take over our collective movie going.

********

*****

now why have i waited so long to see it? well i heard melissa harris-perry discuss it on 'the last word with lawrence o'donnell'. i so so respect ms harris-perry and hearing her 'review' i opted out of going to see it. but word of mouth spread and thus i had see it. also, good friends were urging me to see it. so using viola davis's probable oscar nom as an excuse i went.needless to say i am not sorry i did. but the words of ms harris-perry would not leave me throughout my viewing of it.

when i got home i had to re-watch her interview with mr o'donnell. now, i am not a black woman nor a black man. i'm a northern white gay man somehow transplanted to the south (what the hell was i thinking or smoking?). i do not stand in ms harris-perry's shoes nor the shoes of her ancestors. yet after seeing the film i have to ask: 'what am i missing here?'.

i have no answer to this.so in a way i bow to melissa's first hand knowledge. i am sharing her interview so you can hear her in her own words. you need to decide for yourself. in any case i continue to follow ms harris-perry and her thoughtfulness and hope msnbc graduates her from the 'best substitute teacher' around and gives her tenure as tulane university has done.

ms harris-perry in her own words:
video

i see strength in adversity in these women. and may i add that i also see the strength in emma stone's character as the white woman who dared to stand up and be counted as a woman of courage. i recommend this beautifully told story and it's wonderful performances.






trailer

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Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Oscarbation:: Contender 'The Artist'


the weinstein's have pulled off miracles before but can they sell a love letter to days gone by with a black and white silent film. the festival circuit is in love with it. critics are raving about it. but will an under 50 crowd buy tix for it. i too often hear people say they don't even like to watch the older black and white classics. so i wonder if only cinephiles will go see what looks to be a charming film. check out the trailer below. what do you think? will it be oscar bait. i think it possible.


video

opening november 23

Monday, August 29, 2011

'Chicago' Revival Becomes Broadway's Fourth Longest Running Show Tonight As It Passes 'Chorus Line'




i love this revival. it's kind od amazing that a revival has run so long. the movie version has come and gone. it was a fairly good version of the show but can't compare to this well conceived version that is still a broadway killer.

some memories with bebe neuwirth and ann reinking










bebe and karen ziemba: 'hot honey rag' and 'nowadays'

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bebe and 'all that jazz'

video


'Fireflies in the Garden'


this 1978 film (worldwide release) will get it's stateside opening oct.14. the trailer looks interesting so why was this julia roberts/ryan reynolds starer held up so long.



video

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Oscarbation: A Look Back at 1942 for Best Actress



it was a mixed crop in 1942. only two of the performances stand the test of time. the remaining three are either forgotten or should be. it was for the most part a mediocre year for actresses on film.



#5
teresa wright in 'pride of the yankees
this was gary cooper's film. ms wright always charmed on screen but never a great actress. ms wright would justifiably win this same year in the supporting category in 'mrs miniver'

#4
rosalind russell in 'my sister eileen'
ms russell charmed as usual but this film and her role in it were not award worthy in the least. the frothy tale of two sisters in greenwich village would be considered a just a piece of fluff and her performance just short of cotton candy.

#3
greer garson in 'mrs. miniver
a long drawn out bore of a film. it was a propaganda film for the allies in world war 2. it was highly popular at the time and it's very nature ms garson to the stage to receive her oscar. she then proceeded to give one of the most effusive acceptance speeces ever. they should have grapped it from her hands then and there and handed it to the rightful winner.

#2
katharine hepburn in 'woman of the year'
damn when she was with spencer tracy ms hepburn she shined. the film, mr tracy and the wonderful ms hepburn stands the test of time.

#1
bette davis in 'now voyager'

ms davis shines as the repressed, overweight charlotte vale dominated by an overbearing verbally abusive upper crust mother. the transformation of charlotte from ugly duckling to swan and from an abused 'nothing' to a woman of strength and courage lies in ms davis's performance. she is perfectly magnificent and she 'wuz' robbed.


Saturday, August 27, 2011

Oscarbation: A Look Back at 1928-1933 for Best Actress

i have not seen all the nominees so i will not rank them here. actually it is virtually impossible to see all the nominees in their respective films. for instance 'the letter' starring jeanne eagels (1929) is seemingly gone as in non existent.
the only way i can handle the first six years is to just name the winners so they can go into the ranking of all the winners eventually.
so moving on the winners between 1928 and 1933 are:


1987: janet gaynor for, well like, three films. yup 3 out of the 5 best actress nominations went to ms. gaynor. most cinema historians name 'seventh heaven' as the win although it seems the official academy records seem to name her for all of them. so what the hell i'll go with 'seventh heaven' as it's the only one i saw. as is obvious for it's time it was a silent film. the only silent actress performance to win.

1929: mary pickford in 'coquete'. this was ms pickford's first talkie. thus the first actress to win for a 'talkie'.

1930: 'norma shearer in 'the divorcee'. the director wanted joan crawford. he did not think ms shearer was sexy enough. she finally got the part and the oscar. hollywood lore says crawford never forgave her. who cares.

1931: marie dressler in 'min and bill'. i think ms dressler is a hoot on film. she certainly was in this film and received this early oscar before hollywood decided comedic roles not worthy of them

1932: helen hayes in 'the sins of madelon claudet'. good work here by ms hayes in her first talkie. along with ms dressler she is the best of this crop of early oscar winners.


1933: katharine hepburn in 'morning glory'. this was ms hepburn's first film role and she was quite lucky it was not her last. the film and her performance in it were absolutely awful. totally unwatchable. this i can say: may robson was robbed for 'lady for a day'.

Friday, August 26, 2011

This Should Scare the Bejesus Out of You


'Castle' Season 3 Promo Shots



damn is it september 19th yet! i love this show and it's entire cast. one of network's best. here's hoping it stays crisp and smart come september.






'Glee'

i find 'glee' a bit scitzoprenic week to week. it seems to lose it's way, find it's way and back and forth. as it heads into it's third season this is the promo they have released.

video

really this is supposed to make me want to tune in. really? i mean really???

Thursday, August 25, 2011

'Sarah's Key' ****stars


sometimes a film comes along that takes over your heart, mind, spirit and readjusts one's moral compass. . 'sarah's key' is one of those films. based on the novel of the same name it's the path of a journalist who uncovers a story that involves the french collabarators of the axix powers in ww2, the jews in the marais section of paris, and eventually her own family as she unlocks the story of sarah's key. sarah is remarkably played by young actress melusine mayance. she locks her brother in a closet during a jewish roundup hoping to release him in a few short days. this would not happen. as journalist julia jarmond investigates the story unfolds in past and present time.

although a work of fiction those of us who have studied the jewish situation during the nazi hell and the vichy collaboration know this story could have happened. i cannot recommend this smallish film enough. it will not get the 'talk' come oscar season but it damn well should. i think i will be hard pressed to find a more important film this season.

and now kristin scott thomas: ms thomas choses her roles wisely. she once again proves here that she is one of the best cinema has to offer. even in silence she explodes. some day, if there is any justice, she will win her oscar.

a surprise appearance by aidan quinn as william rainsford, sarah's son, in the present time of the film is exceptional. it is good to see him in a meaty role, no matter how brief, again. i would give him a supporting actor nod.

with all the fuss of 'schindler's list' and 'sophie's choice' this this the period film that 'moves' you. oddly i found spielberg's 'schindler's list' void of emotion. i found the 'present day' portion of 'sophie's choice' just plain awful. the key to 'sarah's key' is the unlocking of the truth between past and present seamlessly.

as of this day it is my favorite, best, film of 2011.


'sarah's key'
video

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Oscarbation: A Look Back at 1961 for Best Actress




1969 gave us the following: one brilliant performance, one wonderful performance, one breakthrough performance and two fairly good performances.


the nominees were:

#5
piper laurie
piper laurie in 'the hustler' was completely overshadowed by lead actor paul newman. she gave an 'okay' performance that would not have ruled any other year either.

#4
geraldine page
geraldine page in 'summer and smoke' gave a mighty good performance but i always tended to embrace her more on the stage than on the screen. she would go on to win the oscar for a far better role in a far better film.

#3
natalie wood
natalie wood gave a breakout performance in 'splendor in the grass'. she crossed the barrier that most child stars are not able to cross with great success. although many will disagree i believe ms wood was nominated for the wrong film in 1961. she should have been nominated for 'west side story'. she would not have won but at the very least
would have been nominated for her most memorable performance. and she made a lovely maria who made you feel first her joyous innocence and then her tragedy. let me say: i love natalie wood. she lights up the screen always no matter how good or bad the material she had to work with.

#2
audrey hepburn
audrey hepburn was and will always be holly golightly. she charmed her way through 'breakfast at tiffany's' and left an indelible mark on cinematic history. she won the oscar for a lesser role and lost the oscar for a superior role both of which i will address in the days and months to come. had it not been for the actress who holds my #1 spot, as well as the oscar, audrey may have won in 1961. those who know me know my love for audrey. i miss her to this day.

#1
sophia loren
sophia loren in 'two women' gave one of cinemas best performances of all time. actually her performance is a masterpiece. the first actress to win the oscar in a non english speaking role that would not be achieved again until 2007. i cannot find enough words to satisfy her brilliant performance as a mother in world war 2 italy and the abuse, rape, of both herself and her daughter. interesting note on her casting: ms loren was first picked to play the daughter with anna magnani in the role sophia eventually essayed. ms magnani refused to play her mother. ms magnani felt sophia was too old to play her daugter. so on recast ms loren went on to win the oscar as cesira.

brava ms loren.





Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Kate the Hero


yesterday kate was a hero...saving richard branson's mom when that fire struck his island home. here's to you kate.

from the ap

" Academy Award-winning actress Kate Winslet helped rescue Richard Branson's elderly mother from a fire that destroyed his Caribbean home.

The Virgin Group boss said in his blog that he wanted to offer "many thanks to Kate Winslet for helping to carry my 90 year (old) mum out of the main house to safety." He joked that Winslet "was wondering when a director was going to shout 'CUT!'

In a separate statement Tuesday, Branson praised Winslet's two children, 10-year-old Mia and 7-year-old Joe, who were also staying in the house when it caught fire. He called them "two of the bravest kids I've ever come across."


and here's a moment from 'romance and cigarettes'

"Do You Love Me Like You Kiss Me"

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Monday, August 22, 2011

From the AP: Kate Winslet Escapes Fire at Branson's Island Home



LONDON (AP) — Guests including Academy Award-winning actress Kate Winslet escaped uninjured when fire destroyed Richard Branson's Caribbean home during a tropical storm Monday, said the British businessman.
The Virgin Group boss said about 20 people, including Winslet and her children, were staying in the eight-bedroom Great House on Necker, his private isle in the British Virgin Islands.
Branson said he was staying in another property around 100 yards (meters) away with his wife, Joan and son Sam, 25.
He said the fire broke out around 4 a.m. during a tropical storm with lightning and high winds, and Sam managed to help evacuate Winslet and other guests from the house.
Tropical Storm Irene walloped the Virgin islands and headed towards Puerto Rico late Sunday and early Monday, strengthening into a hurricane Monday with winds of about 80mph (130 kph), according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center.
Branson said the guests, including his 90-year-old mother and his daughter Holly, 29, all managed to get out safely.
"Kate Winslet, her boyfriend and her family were there and Holly and some of her friends were also staying," Branson said. "My mother was there and they managed to get her out and she is fine."
Winslet's spokeswoman, Sara Keene, confirmed the actress was unharmed.
Branson said the house was "completely destroyed" and the fire was not entirely out Monday.
"My office was based in the house and I have lost thousands of photographs which is very sad," Branson said.
He said he planned to rebuild the house "as soon as we can."
"We'll all stay here for the time being," he said. "There's a lot of damage and we won't be able to stick it back together again right away."
Virgin said the cause of the fire was still being investigated but lightning was the likely culprit.
Branson, 60, bought the island in the early 1980s and began building the Great House in 1982. He also has developed an exclusive eco-resort on the island showcasing renewable energy technology.
Winslet, 35, shot to international stardom with her appearance opposite Leonardo DiCaprio in James Cameron's "Titanic," and sealed her reputation with a best actress Academy Award in 2009 for "The Reader."
She has two children, 10-year-old Mia and Joe, 7, from marriages to directors Jim Threapleton and Sam Mendes.

'Carnage': First Look








coming in december

3 oscar winners and an oscar nominee.
and kate winslet is one of those oscar winners. enough said.

and oscar winning director roman polanski.


Sunday, August 21, 2011

Oscarbation: A Look Back at 1970 for Best Actress


1970's best actress nominees was a strong crop.
#5
sarah miles
ms. miles got her nom for 'ryan's hope'. her performance got lost in david lean's over bloated film. i am surprised she got a nom. she never stood a chance at a win.
#4
ali macgraw
ali macgraw got a nom because of the popularity of 'love story'.otherwise she would have been overlooked. interestingly enough she was not nominated the year before for her wonderful debut in 'goodbye columbus'. however, when all is said and done
ms macgraw was glorious as the middle class heroine jenny. the nom was her win. she would not receive another.
#3
jane alexander
ms alexander repeated her stage role in this still important film 'the great white hope' but her performance as well as the film itself was too 'stagey' as happens with 90% of stage to film transfers. ms alexander is a wonderful actress whose film work never quite matched her stage work.
#2
carrie snodgress
ms snodgress was amazing in this one and only major film of her career, 'diary of a mad housewife'. a loveless marriage with an abusive husband and an affair lead her deeper and deeper into depression. there are moments of her performance that are almost to painful to watch.
#1
glenda jackson
the moment 'women in love' was released ms jackson won her first oscar. ms jackson tore the screen apart in a blazing performance as the strong willed, self confident, predatory gudrun brangwen. another actress would not have made this rather unlikable character an award winner. her performance remains one of the best on film and ranks in my top 10 deserved oscar wins.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

'War Horse'



as i review the past in film i always look to the future. one i'm looking forward to this year is the december release of spielberg's 'the war horse'.
this is an award winning play that i'm sure speilberg will do justice to.

video


Friday, August 19, 2011

When Are Your Favorite Shows Returning and the New Ones Premiering?

2011 Fall Premiere Schedule

Tuesday, September 13
Parenthood - NBC
90210 - The CW

Ringer - (new) The CW

Thursday, September 15
The Vampire Diaries - The CW
The Secret Circle - (new) The CW


Monday, September 19
Castle - ABC
Hawaii Five-O - CBS
The Playboy Club - (new) NBC

Tuesday, September 20
Body of Proof - ABC
NCIS - CBS
NCIS: Los Angeles - CBS
Unforgettable - (new) CBS
Glee - Fox

Wednesday, September 21
Revenge - (new) ABC
Criminal Minds - CBS
CSI - CBS
Harry's Law - NBC
Law & Order: SVU - NBC


Thursday, September 22
Charlie's Angels - (new) ABC
Grey's Anatomy - ABC
Person of Interest - (new) CBS
The Mentalist - CBS
Prime Suspect - (new) NBC

Friday, September 23
A Gifted Man - (new) CBS
CSI: NY - CBS
Blue Bloods - CBS
Fringe - Fox
Nikita - The CW
Supernatural - The CW

Sunday, September 25
Desperate Housewives - ABC
Pan Am - (new) ABC
The Good Wife - CBS
CSI: Miami - CBS
Boardwalk Empire - HBO


Monday, September 26
Terra Nova - (new) Fox
Gossip Girl - The CW
Hart of Dixie - (new) The CW


Thursday, September 29
Private Practice - ABC
Monday, October 3
House - Fox

Monday, October 21
Chuck - NBC
Grimm - (new) NBC

Sunday, October 23
Once Upon a Time - (new) ABC
Thursday, November 3
Bones - Fox

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Oscarbation: A Look Back at 1969 for Best Actress

I'VE BEEN WANTING TO REVIEW THE OSCAR WINNERS FOR AGES.

i hope you indulge me. the oscars are to gay men what the super bowl is too straight men. they don't always get their favorites in the game. we don't always get the performances in that we think should be there or the one that should have won out of the five choices given.

i hope to make this a sunday regular as we head toward oscar season. more during the week time permitting. but we start today.

for those of you who follow my blog you have probably guessed i love actresses. so that's where i'll begin with the best actress nominees of 1969. i'll endeavor to add supporting actresses from time to time.

1969 was a year that all the female nominees deserved to be nominated.

they were:

genevieve bujold in 'anne of a thousand days'
jane fonda in 'they shoot horses don't they'
liza minelli in ''the sterile cuckoo'
jean simmons in 'the happy ending'
maggie smith in 'the prime of miss jean brodie'


so in ascending order here goes:

#5
jean simmons
a wonderful performance in a small film. ms. simmons always lights up the screen large and small. in this film the light was not quite bright enough. her best film performance was in 'elmer gantry'. as a woman on the verge of a breakup in 'the happy ending' she gives a heartfelt performance but not an oscar winning performance.

#4
liza minnelli
as 'pookie' adams ms minnelli broke your heart. it was her first 'staring' role and she delievered the goods. she went on to win the oscar three years later. in 1969 she should be proud to have been an also-ran.

#3
genevive bujold
in her first major staring role ms bujold held her own opposite richard burton. no small feat. she has never been better than in this film. sadly she was never given a better role. again, she should feel proud she was nominated.

#2
maggie smith
ms smith won the oscar. it was a worthy win when you look at all best actress winners in the academy's history. it's just that her performance was a tad too theatrical. not her fault really. it was a theater piece first and was wonderfully translated to the screen. she gave a brilliant 'stage' performance where she was always more comfortable. she gave a really good film performance but she was not the best actress of 1969 yet remains one of the best actress winners.

#1
jane fonda
jane fonda would no longer be considered a pretty face, a sex symbol or henry fonda's daughter after her performance in 'they shoot horses don't they'. she proved her mettle in a heart wrenching performance in one of the best films in modern history. as a down and out of luck woman in the depression era she tried to make a buck in a dance marathon. she sold her soul, and body, to the slick emcee in an effort to win. but it was lost before it began. she took us on an emotional roller coaster and as much as we rooted for her we knew all was lost. her nomination and her performance stand the test of time.
ms fonda would go on to win two oscars in films that were far less than this one. this remains her best performance ever. her losing it one of oscar's bigger shames.

without reservations i say jane fonda is and was the best actress of 1969



who do you believe was the best actress of 1969 among the nominees. perhaps you believe it was an actress other than these. it can happen. i certainly have years like this.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Oscarbation! It Has to Begun

rumor has it billy crystal is waiting in the wings to host again. he was disgusted with last year's telecast. watch the opening below from one of his outings. it makes me think he is desperately needed as host.

video

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The Best of Summer TV

it has been a good summer for television. actually most of the 13 shows shown here are as good or better than most shows on the winter schedule. what is noteworthy is they are all on cable. over the past few years cable has indeed provided us with some of the best tv offers be it on basic or premium cable. if you are not watching these you are missing great performance on damn good shows. you should catch up either with netflix or on demand.
****************
'against the wall' is interesting in it's premise. the daughter in a family of cops joins internal affairs. the conflict is set up. we'll have to see how far they can take this and for how long. it works on hot summer nights when you just want to stay home. kathy baker plays mom and as always is a grand addition to any series. i still miss 'picket fences'.




the closer' is having it's best season yet as is star kyra sedgwick. it is drawing to a close (next summer) unfortunately but appears to be going out not so quietly into the night. brenda lee johnson you will be missed.




'covert affairs' is cotton candy. it's sweet and keeps you wanting more. it will be back next season.




'drop dead diva' is far from wearing thin. brooke elliot is still one of tv's best actresses although few seem to know. it is renewed and will be back in 2012.




'expedition impossible' has a crowded field of teams but as eliminations begin the competitors become better known. it's a summer ripoff of 'the amazing race' and fills that void although in no way comes close to it's winter competitor.




'in plain sight' remains one of cable's beat offerings. it will be back for one more season in 2012. unfortunately it will be a short 8 episode season. losing this and 'the closer' at the same time is a great loss for summer fare. mary mccormack is a treasure. i await her next outing.




'chloe' is different. super hero with a heart. the frosh season showed it has promise. here's hoping. amy peitz as mom has her best role to date.




'pretty little liars' remains summers best guilty pleasure. the liars keep on jugging the balls and spinning the plates. they seem far from dropping them. troian bellesario (spencer) is still the one to watch with the best acting chops and the best lines. but the other three liars are wonderful too. i just think troian has a bigger career ahead.




'rizzoli and isles' was even better in it's second season. and who knew sasha alexander (isles) is sophia loren's daughter- in -law.you go girl. edoardo ponte is a looker.




'suits' is the best new summer series. i repeat: 'suits' is the best new summer series.  it is smart. it fills in 'the good wife void. it has been renewed for a longer 2012 season as it should be.






'switched at birth' should be seen by everyone. it gives an insight to the non speaking world not seen much...anywhere.




'teen wolf' was the surprise. aimed at teens it works for adults. it is to werewolves what 'vampire diaries' is to vampires. it certainly does not have the same production values and belongs in the summer season. it's like a quick 'get away' vacation. sometimes you just need one.




'true blood' is having it's best season yet. i almost gave up on this one after a dismal season 2. i'm glad i stuck with it. vampires, werewolves and now witches...oh my!