We’ll Always Have Paris

When movie critics and cinema aficionados talk about what they consider the top 100 best movies of all time – at least according to their individual standards – the 1942 film Casablanca usually scores high. Starring Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman as Rick Blaine and Ilsa Lund, the movie is set during World War II as the Nazis are tightening their grip on north Africa.casablanca

Filmed in black and white, readers of the LA Daily News voted in 1997 that Casablanca was the greatest. In Leonard Maltin’s Movie Guide, it’s deemed the “best Hollywood movie of all time.” It’s number two on the American Film Institute’s 100 Greatest Movies, number six on The Hollywood Reporter’s 100 Favorite Films, and number thirty on the IMDb Top 250 Movies of All Time list. Continue reading “We’ll Always Have Paris”

Manufactured Outrage

Over the course of many years, I’ve come to realize writers are a rather strange subgroup of the human race. I count myself in that number and readily admit my strangeness … uniqueness, that’s the term I prefer. Actually, I’ve heard it said all creative people are strange, slightly off-center. Maybe so. When I hear of the strange things other writers do, I tend to shake my head and roll my eyes. Then I go on with my life … and my writing.Place, Vanessa

Here’s one example of the strangeness I’ve observed. The Twitter profile (shown above) belongs to a woman named Vanessa Place. (Her name appears just underneath the left-side photo of actress Hattie McDaniel.) From what I’ve read, Place uses this Twitter account for the purpose of tweeting – 140 characters at a time, plus or minus – the entire text of Margaret Mitchell’s novel, Gone With the Wind. I suppose one might argue this is an artistic expression and benign protest by which she registers her disgust with the racial stereotypes portrayed in the 1936 novel. Continue reading “Manufactured Outrage”

Heroes Or Villains?

The trailer for the DC Comics superhero film, Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice is a hot item this weekend. Watch the trailer here. As a one-time fan of both Batman (the Christian Bale film series from 2005-forward) and Superman (the George Reeves television series of the 1950s), I’m not particularly enthusiastic about forthcoming productions. For me, I want my superheroes to remain the way I remember them.superman batmanThe upcoming film was originally set to release in 2014 and then was delayed to be released this year but was once again pushed back, this time until 2016. The delays are puzzling and the story line has been, so far as I can tell, kept under wraps but the title is intriguing. Are Batman and Superman going to participate in the ultimate challenge and meet face to face in the UFC Octagon? Continue reading “Heroes Or Villains?”

Fire in the Hole

Saying goodbye … it’s an inevitable part of life. When one says goodbye to fictional characters, it shouldn’t be a wrenching loss – unless the characters are so well-drawn and true to life, they’ve become embedded in your life. This kind of goodbye doesn’t just represent a closed book of characters but also the way in which these characters have colored one’s point of view.justified-season-2_shootThe FX Network show Justified aired its finale last night following a six-season run. Truthfully, I hated to have the show end, but its final episode hit every note with perfect pitch and stunning narrative grace notes. Without giving away any spoilers, I can’t imagine any show ending with better symmetry and poetic precision. Continue reading “Fire in the Hole”

What Does Cinderella Do?

Thanks to the recent release of Disney’s live-action movie, Cinderella, there’s been a resurgent popularity for the romantic fairy tale. In a February post, I mentioned my enthusiasm for the upcoming (at that time) movie and my eagerness to see it. (I’m hopeful to catch it this coming weekend.)
Unfortunately, from about the 1960s and forward, the Cinderella mythology fell out of favor because the feminist dogma unofficially rejected her as an undesirable sexist stereotype. Google “feminism and Cinderella” and numerous posts result, many of which attempt to provide a new take on this formerly discarded fairy tale heroine.
Continue reading “What Does Cinderella Do?”

A Tale of Elsa and Fred

In an earlier post, I referred to the film, The Sound of Music, which marks its fiftieth anniversary big screen release this month. Vanity Fair magazine‘s most recent issue notes the anniversary with an amusing interview of both Maria (Julie Andrews) and Captain Von Trapp (Christopher Plummer). Having enjoyed friendship for these fifty years, the aging pair (she’s 79, he’s 85) reflect a genuine affection, exchanging what VF describes as the “well-worn patter of an old married couple.chris-maria

As someone who has watched the film multiple times, I found the VF feature enlightening. Never having delved any deeper into details about the film, I didn’t know Plummer’s antipathy for the film was so ingrained. Watching him on the screen in that film, I always assumed his general aloofness was the result of a director’s instructions for him to play the part that way. Reading the VF piece, I see now it was actually a reflection of Plummer’s overall distaste for the project! Continue reading “A Tale of Elsa and Fred”

Home Before Midnight

In spite of the hype of the 2015 Oscars last evening, it wasn’t enough to lure me in. Don’t get me wrong. I love movies, especially the films with well-drawn characters and a sensitive story line. (I’m much less interested in films that go for cheap laughs and ugly or superficial relationships.) If I’m going to devote two hours to a film, I need to care about the characters on the screen.

The Oscars broadcast didn’t draw me in because, much as I love movies, I’m disinclined to care about and choose to watch the Hollywood glitterati preen and pose and suffer through the tedium of a inane questions asked and answered inanely.2015_1$largeimg215_Jan_2015_104948370

From some of the comments I heard today and the brief posts I read online, I think it was a blessing I didn’t watch … no need to witness the awkward moments – Neil Patrick Harris in a diaper or John Travolta imitating Joe Biden’s lecherous moves, nor to note the stunning absence of Joan Rivers’ mention during the In Memoriam tribute.

I did note the Best Supporting Actor award earned by J. K. Simmons, the recent face of Farmers Insurance commercials. (I suppose it goes without saying, his price per ad will be going up, right?) I also took a gander at the gowns this morning and watched Lady Gaga perform the Sound of Music medley, as well as the Vine video of Common appearing to ignore (diss, some suggested) Oprah. All in all, the twenty minutes I spent was preferable over the extended live production. Continue reading “Home Before Midnight”

Beauty and Deficiencies of Age

When the media were all abuzz earlier this month with the announcement of Harper Lee’s new novel, Go Set A Watchman (set for debut this July), I was intrigued. The first story I read was from The Guardian, explaining that this “new” novel was actually intended – alongside the earlier work To Kill A Mockingbird – to represent two-thirds of a trilogy, with a short connecting work between the two. Pictures posted with the article show a smiling but frail little woman, too small for the clothing she’s wearing.GuardianHarperLeeAnother article, this one from The Atlantic, sets a somewhat somber tone with the title Harper Lee: The Sadness of A Sequel. The Atlantic also goes with a more gritty picture of Lee (circa 1962) after Mockingbird had earned critical praise from multiple quarters, including the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1961.

FROM:  http://tiny.cc/uqndux
FROM: http://tiny.cc/uqndux

Both articles mention the author’s frailty. Lee suffered a stroke in 2007 and is now 88 years old, struggling with blindness (due to macular degeneration), profound deafness as well as the indignities of short-term memory loss. A close friend characterized her memory (three years ago) as “completely shot.” The author currently lives in an assisted living facility where she’s confined to a wheelchair. Continue reading “Beauty and Deficiencies of Age”

Walking Dead At Downton

On the surface, the two shows (The Walking Dead and Downton Abbey) could not be more different. What they do have in common is – at least here in the central time zone – both shows air at 8 p.m. on Sundays. That requires some juggling, yes, so maybe things are getting slightly muddled in my brain … did Lori have a baby or was that Edith? (Both.) Was Matthew Crawley killed by zombies or a car wreck? (The latter.)downton_abbey_simpsonized_by_adn_z-d6qw7zh

I know, I know! I’ve probably stepped on everyone’s toes by suggesting any of the above. But the huge casts involved in both productions make for some interesting contrasts, don’t you think?Walking-Dead_Simpsonized-by-ADN_hi-660x293Unfortunately, though the shows have been running about the same amount of time, the Simpsonized images (shown above) don’t offer a good comparison for the number of characters. Both shows have numerous recurring (or minor) characters, while Downton appears to have relied on special guest characters whereas Dead has not. Continue reading “Walking Dead At Downton”

Deconstructing Fifty Shades of de Sade

Here we are … celebrating Valentine’s Day 2015. It’s a long weekend due to the so-called Presidents’ Day holiday … which was initially a celebration for George Washington’s birthday (the 22nd) … but then was expanded to include Abraham Lincoln’s birthday (the 12th) as well … and when Congress suggested honoring all US presidents with a single holiday to be known as Presidents’ Day, they never actually approved the bill! Still, Presidents’ Day became the default – though unofficial – name anyway! So, Happy Presidents’ Day / Valentine’s Day or Happy Valentine’s Day / Presidents’ Day or if you prefer … Saturday!ValPresDayThis is also a highly-anticipated (by some) blockbuster movie weekend. According to BoxOfficeMojo’s forecast headline, “‘Fifty Shades” To Dominate Valentine’s Day Box Office, the film will “set a handful of box office records” this weekend. The same website’s Friday Report employs an apt headline:  “Moviegoers Submit to ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’.Continue reading “Deconstructing Fifty Shades of de Sade”