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Friday, May 27, 2011

I'm Putting on my Top Hat

Dancing! A joyful way to spend time is with a dancing movie. What else can make you want to twirl, prance and leap but leave you riveted into a seat? While "Dancing with the Stars" might have folks delighted to take ballroom lessons, its those incredible athletic dancing actors that one could never never emulate that really get an audience's heart pounding to the rhythm.....

"Shall We Dance" (1937) - Full of everything we want Fred & Ginger to be. One of the best of their series of films. 

"White Nights" (1985) - In the genre of dance film the combination of Gregory Hines and Mikhail Baryshnikov is nothing short of phenomenal- thankfully the film is well written and directed- but with the focus on dance numbers, one truly doesn't care.. 

"Stormy Weather" (1943) - The dancing gets lost among the heights of incredible talent shoved into one film- but watch it again- focus on the Nicholas Brothers and be wowed. 

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Should this ever be a film?

Great books turn into amazing films or complete duds, there doesn't seem to be a middle ground. ....Its an awkward transformation, one that must not be taken lightly and so often doesn't  work as hoped. While I've enjoyed the Harry Potter films - the books are resoundingly better entertainment. Rebecca was a terrific adaptation as was Wuthering Heights (but perhaps that was the era of film making?)    Its a relationship between the fantasy visualization of hundreds, thousands or even hundreds of  thousands of people and a filmmakers interpretation, not possible to match.  Its a great (okay, HUMONGOUS) risk to attempt such a thing. 

So it must be asked, what of your favorite books should never be a film? What book are you sorry became one? We should include graphic novels, short stories as well as novels. 

Here are my three: 

"Confederacy of Dunces" (John Kennedy Toole, 1980) - Yes, fellow readers, a movie is once again being tossed around - This time its Will Farrell as Ignatius ...Too many lovable intricate characters, too much heart felt sadness - This just won't play as a film. Don't attempt it. 

"Hello Kitty Must Die" (Angela S. Choi, 2010) - Fabulous, sneering, sarcastic and witty - Until audiences will accept a truly amazing woman in complete rejection of her 'role' and like her, this film can't be made. To stay true to the characterization as written by Choi, our heroine must be left to our own inner world. Its the novel representation of things you think but never say out loud. 

"Geek Love" (Katherine Dunn, 1989) - Too many elements, characters and grossness, not easy translated to a visual medium. It might be impossible for film makers to leave the complete emotional bankruptcy intact. They might attempt to create a hero or cutesy development to this dark comedy and that would just not do. Leave this wonderful, enchanting Circus family to its twisted mind bending words across the page for readers to imagine for their own wicked selves. 

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Happy Birthday Bobby Zimmerman

Bob Dylan songs are like mini movies, they tell you a story - help flesh out pictures in your head and give you that emotional connection through senses that most music doesn't touch. Wishing the Happiest 70th Birthday to Mr. Dylan.......

"Masked and Anonymous" (2003) - Great music, terrific actors - much more of a  surreal cult indie film than a big motion picture. Dylan is not an actor, but allows the ones around him to do their thing. Not for your average movie goer, but music and film maven's need to see it. 

"I'm Not There" (2007) - You haven't seen anything until watching Cate Blanchett BE Bob Dylan - its eerie....Amazing and incredibly interesting- move this to the top of your list. 

"Don't Look Back" (1967)- What can be said? Iconic. 

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Man oh Man ......

Yep, its a theme week...Men. 

John Wayne: When you are named Marion in American culture you either quickly change it or become uber macho...Mr. Wayne did both. The epitome of a man's man John Wayne struts, spits, smokes, drinks and loves like a cowboy. If he were acting now, would he be the lovable Dad guest star on some hot TV show? 
"Stage Coach" (1939) - As an ensemble cast member John Wayne jumps out as the sweet faced edgy cowboy. He pulls the camera eye towards him and refuses to let it go. and is a pretty decent film too. 

Bruce Willis: When Bruce sang, "Here she comes just a walk'n down the street" in the TV series "Moonlighting" the TV audience swooned. He was sweet, snarky, cute and oh so badly good. Over the years he has used that smarky attitude to defeat some awesome bad guys. It just seems like he is having too too much fun being the action hero. 

"12 Monkeys" (1995) - Who cares if the set up is confusing and ultimately lost in the story? Terry Gilliam directs this sci-fi greasy action pic with BIG moments and little asides, creating a fun fast moving intricate picture. Its one of the only films to recommend with Brad Pitt, so enjoy!! 

Danny Trejo: Okay, I must confess- since "Desperado" I've had a mad crush on Danny Trejo and for some reason get such a kick out of his acting even in really super bad films. Plus he did a stint on "Y&R" and any macho dude doing a soap is just adorable right?
"The Replacement Killers" (1998) - What fun to be able to pick this one, because Chow Yun Fat was almost my third macho man to write about! A terrible, mindless film, with way to much movement attempting to compensate for the script. However, I've watched it more than once and enjoyed it. Like most action for action's sake pics its just fun and loud.

Monday, May 16, 2011

If its going to rain all day in the Midwest .....

we should be watching ..............

"Blade Runner"(1982)- It rains off and on the entire day/night in this film- but you don't care because its that good. The atmosphere collides with the action which overlaps the conversation and twists the quirky characters into people who are more interesting when they aren't really people. 

"Hard Rain" (1998) - More like a great TV mystery movie than a major motion picture- its fun, its action packed, its raining. 

"Rain Fall" (2009) - I haven't seen this, but will head to the video store later to find it......May showers bring June Flowers? 

Sunday, May 15, 2011

A Rant about Television or Where to find the hottest guys

Finally, (Finally) popped in a copy of the first season of The Tudor's (CBC, 2007 - 2010) - I know I'm way way behind on TV stuff- but it was just never the right time. Was prepared to spend part of a rainy Saturday afternoon catching the whole first season. Oh, forgive me Goddesses who made Jonathan Rhys Myers so awesomely gorgeous. What a horrid show. When did Henry the eight start channeling Elvis? And not to be overly picky, I like boobs just like anyone else, but seriously? So that was a dismal failure. 

Like any good American woman, I went directly to the internet for a few missed episodes of "Castle". Be still my heart, Nathan Fillion is adorable, the show is cute and mindless - just the ticket. Nathan first pushed on the small screen in "Two Guys, A girl and Pizza Place" which didn't survive that great name....then did a fab job on "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" as the evil priest...only to be starnapped by Joss Whedon for his pet project......."Firefly" which somehow turned into "Serenity" ....But, the super fun part (we are back to "Castle").......two very funny mentions of "Grey Gardens". Uh. Who knew television writers watched documentaries? 

"Match Point" (2005) - Jonathan Rhys Myers and Scarlett Johansson are an interesting couple in this twisty Woody Allen picture about desperately trying to be something you're not.

"Waitress" (2007) - Cute and sharply written - Keri Russell (again) surprises you with her down to earth slightly bland but actually really good acting skills. Very well cast with Jeremy Sisto and Nathan Fillion in fairly predictable roles. - Adrienne Shelly  wrote a nicely human film. 

Saturday, May 14, 2011


Grey and cloudy, raindrops fall slowly to the ground....the air is warm and still.....Why does this make it perfect for watching French Films? uh- it just does. Enjoy! 

"Breathless" (1960) - Beautifully filmed French drama about dating a mysterious man-boy. It might be fun to watch this one and then the Richard Gere remake, but they are definitely two very different films in every way. 

"La Femme Nakita" (1990) - ah, again, it would be fun to watch this and then the weak simpy version with Bridget Fonda but why bother? Just watch this one twice! 

"Delicatessen" (1991) - ooh, perhaps the French were feeling very cynical in the 90's - This one, like "Nakita", is full of harsh mocking sadness and looks at the world through tragic innocent eyes. Delightfully wicked black comedy.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

I think this is the beginning of a beautiful Friendship

There is something delightfully satisfying about the development of a bromance. From Rick and Louie, Laurel and Hardy, Jeeves and Wooster - audiences delight in the friendship bonding experiences. Otherwise, how do we explain the coming of "Hangover 2" ???? Perhaps it began with Sherlock and Watson, or as far back as Caesar and Anthony? Maybe to blame is Charles Dickens with Great Expectations -the friendship between Pip and his Uncle Joe or Pip and his benefactor...both prove to develop an unbreakable bond regardless of the affections and lure of the women in their lives.....or perhaps its one of those unexplainable as long as humans have walked the earth type of  things.....

"Butch Cassidy & The Sundance Kid" (1969)- Fight, rob, romance and die together..a perfect example of bromance. Seriously? how in the world could Kathrine Ross choose between them, she had to have both. 

"Gross Point Blank" (1997)- Yeah, picked because its set in, silly, pointless but so right on in the bromance department- John Cusak & Dan Aykrod always do better with buds than chicks. 

"The Hound of Baskervilles" (1939) - Superbly well done, with no doubt the best Sherlock to date (with no dismissal of Jeremy Brett who remains the sexiest of all Holmes portrayals) Basil Rathbone simply is, in deportment and physical representation the best turn of the century detective ever. And no best friend could ever top the faithful Dr. Watson. 

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

With Lyrics by Delores Fuller

Being in love with Ed Wood is a film buff's favorite thing about Delores Fuller, but we gossip hounds know that alone does not make a career. So for this writing, the fun Elvis Presley songs with lyrics written by Ms. Fuller for our movie enjoyment.....since its really the music that makes these films, its only fitting to honor Ms. Fuller in this way. 

"Kid Galahad" (1962) - The film with promise, a relaxed confident Elvis combines his talents in song, romance and athleticism creating a piece that should have been the jumping point for his acting career. He sings Fuller's 'I got Lucky' in his smooth southern way.   

"Girl Happy" (1965) - gotta love any song that gets Elvis to dance..'Do the Clam' doesn't have the basis to be a pop hit but fits perfectly in this com-rom that becomes  an Elvis standard film. 

"Roustabout" (1964) - My personal favorite, but that might be because of Barbara Stanwyck - she appears to pull a bit of acting chops out of Presley - the song 'Big Love Big Heartache' is a strong studio ballad perfect for Elvis fans. 


Monday, May 9, 2011

Monday, Monday

It is a beautiful day here in the Motor City, cool enough to drink that perfect cup of French Roast blend with a touch of hazelnut cream but warm enough to bask in the sunshine. This does make it difficult to think about being indoors watching films. However, with Chaz Bono giving the inside scoop on his experiences, it might just be the perfect time to dust off a couple favorite 'figuring out my life' stories- these are not films you revel in and want to re-watch every few years, but once you see them they are unforgettable. 

"Ma Vie en Rose" (My life in Pink, 1997) - Sweet, careful, and sensitive- the simplicity of life from the eyes of a child, just be who and what you are. 

"TransAmerica" (2005) - And here we are in complicated grown up land, where nothing is what it seems and the simplicity of living and feeling are torn and tossed about by secrets and fear.  

"Hedwig and the Angry Inch" (2001) - So tragic yet so completely funny - this is a character you know instinctively is based in real life. Not for the squeamish nor the homophobic (or maybe especially for them). You will fall madly in love with Hedwig and not want her for a neighbor. 

Sunday, May 8, 2011

My Mom's Favorite Movies

With an over abundance of Mother's day movie idea's the mind boggled. Then it became clear, the only movies that matter today are the ones my Mother loves. Five amazing movies, loved, adored and watched again an' again!

"Casablanca" (1942) - This is one that should be watched every few years, a classic perfect film.  There isn't an element of this work that bares critique, from the characterizations to the music it fits as well for its time period as it does today.

"Monty Python & The Holy Grail" (1975) - So perfectly suited to its time period, this 70's iconic piece stomps over historical beliefs and ridicules from a lofty cerebral place but its just darn funny...what is not to love about Giant evil bunnies and witches that might be ducks? Someone should rent out a theater and give this one a showing.

"My Fair Lady" (1964)- There is something awkward about Audrey Hepburn playing Eliza Doolittle but it is just a few momentary glitches hardly noticeable amongst the terrific costumes, songs and talented actors. A lovely Jeremy Brett swoons delightfully and the ultra talented Stanley Holloway reluctantly becomes respectable.

"Babette's Feast" (1987, Danish) - oh never a better combination than a lust for life and glorious food. Not just filling tummies but coaxed from deliberately chosen perfect ingredients into visual, olfactory, gustory sensations. Watch, then go out to dinner.

"The Night of the Hunter" (1955) - I'm pretty sure my mom will not watch this movie alone after dark. It is highly recommended that you don't either. Never has a sweet handsome man so convincingly turned into a horrid, unredeemable monster. If ever an actor proved his craft it is Robert Mitchum. The lovely Lillian Gish also provides proof that acting is sometimes an inborn talent gifted by a higher being.

Happy Mother's Day !

What are your Mom's Favorite Movies???

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Cinco De Mayo or a good excuse to eat homemade Tamales!!

Having spent some of my childhood in Southwest Detroit, I was lucky to experience Mexican food the way Mom makes it. There really is nothing like a tortilla pressed out by hand and tossed with care onto a hot griddle. It only takes moments from side to side and slathered with beans then into your mouth. Glorious.Thank you so much Mrs. de Santos for always making me feel like one of the family! 

Cinco de Mayo is a celebration of Mexican heritage and although it attributed to civil war history, its truly more an American opportunity to honor and celebrate the vast riches we have incorporated from Mexico.....such as film;

"Como agua para chocolate" (1992) - Having just fallen in love, gotten married and having a baby when reading the novel, Like water for Chocolate was just the over the top ultra dramatic love story to hit home. The film manages to capture the tone and structure of the novel, carrying the audience in sweeping abandoned from one gorgeous scene of passion, food and magic to another. A beautiful work both on paper and screen.  

"Y tu mama tambien" (2001) - While first watching yet another road trip coming of age discovery film, it was not all that impressive. Yet, thinking about it later and even repeating certain elements to others that turns out this is a pretty good film. It is obvious from the onset that Diego Luna would be heading for a fabulous career. 

"El Laberinto del Fauno" (2006)- Guillermo del Toro's "Pan's Labyrinth" is captivating and horrifying. A true nightmare style film, taking science fiction and fairy tale horror to a cerebral level. Much acknowlegdement must go to Guillermo Navarro, who won the Oscar for Cinematography on this film. Don't watch it alone! 

Get ready, start gathering the ingredients, get your films in order and don't forget your Skinny Girl Margarita's!! lol 

Feliz Cinco de Mayo!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Happy Happy Birthday Baby.....

A little mimosa, a tiny piece of cake and a whole lotta fun! Happiest of birthdays to these celebrities, who give inspiration to film ....Happy Birthday David Beckham, David Suchet and Fredrick Wray.

"Bend it Like Beckham" ( 2002) - So so many ways to  go here....Did anyone know who Beckham was before this film? Certainly the gorgeous Jonathan Rhys Myers was a mystery until this cute film popped up. More importantly however it gave us not only the stunning Parminder Nagra to come star in and flame new interest for the Doctor show "ER" but also brought forth the lovely Keira Knightley. All that aside, this wonderful simple coming of age film offers generational and gender dimensions that make it important as well as fun to watch.

"A Perfect Murder" (1998) - Its those small parts that sometimes are so intriguing a person can carry away a film....this would have been a decent film if it hadn't tried to be a remake of an already perfect movie.....Anyway- it does offer us a long haired bohemian artist lover in Viggo Mortensen and that is well worth watching.. However, David Suchet's few moments on screen are captivating and notable. Of course we all love him as the perfect Hercule Proirot but he does lend a mysterious and sophisticated addition to this un-perfect murder that again, make it worth watching. 

"Desperado" (1995) - This was a tough choice in film writing but it had to be done on the notable quality of the music if we are to celebrate Link Wray.....A sort of remake of "El Mariachi" Robert Rodriquez's first film (which is way better for lots of reasons) of the stand out qualities of "Desperado" is the plays a great role in most Rodriquez films, however, here with Wray there is a lonesome, sexy tone that changes the atmosphere and gives it an extra sumthin.