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Found 4 results

  1. The promo for the series "Feud: Bette and Joan" caught my eye, having recently watched "Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?", and reading about the rivalry between its two stars, Joan Crawford and Bette Davis. Usually by the time I hear about a series it is several seasons in, requiring binge watching to catch up. Fortunately, this one just premiered last month, so I was able to catch the first episode the night it aired. As expected, the show is campy fun. There are some big names, too. Stanley Tucci, Jessica Lange and Susan Sarandon are a few of the stars. Lange is completely transformed into Crawford. I didn't have the same feeling with Sarandon. She does have Bette Davis eyes, but watching Sarandon portray Davis, I was constantly aware I was watching Sarandon. Perhaps it is because her looks weren't as dramatically transformed as her co-star's. In the fourth episode, a reference is made to "Kiss Me Deadly," another 1950s era film that I recently watched which is also reviewed on this site. It is still too early to tell if this show will be worth watching, but I am giving it a shot because who doesn't enjoy a little retro camp from time to time?
  2. I'm in the process of watching "Spotlight" - the Academy Award winner for Best Picture of 2015 - on Amazon.com, and am typing this as I go. A couple interesting things right off the bat: * "Spotlight" is the first picture since 1952 ("The Greatest Show On Earth") to win Best Picture, and only one other award (in this case, Best Original Screenplay). * There's a fascinating (some might say "annoying") feature on Amazon called "X-Ray," which is sort of a real-time CliffsNotes, listing who is in what scene, and occasional blurbs of trivia, as the film advances (the viewer can disable X-Ray, but I'm taking something of a studious approach to this film (surprise, surprise!), so I'm using it, despite it being a clear-and-present distraction). And yes, it *is* available on Amazon right now, but it will set you back $5.99 to watch. Okay, let me get this over with: Good picture, for sure, but not Best Picture material. I haven't seen the others in 2015, so I have nothing to compare it to, but this just isn't a Best Picture film. I can easily see how it didn't win anything else, other than Best Original Screenplay. However, I'm glad I saw it, as I was simply unaware of the magnitude of the Boston Priests cover-up. Never mind the other cities; I'm talking only about Boston, and (assuming the numbers they throw out at film's-end are true) the problem was of such enormous magnitude that I'm a better person for having seen the film - there's no way I could ever forget, now that I've seen it fully acted out. In fact, I'd say that it's miraculous that the Catholic Church survived to the extent that it did, although there's nobody to "destroy" it except its own parishioners, and they don't want that to happen, so I guess it's not all that miraculous. And quite frankly, I'm not sure the Catholic Church *is* going to survive this. The guy protesting every day on Massachusetts Avenue - I really feel sorry for him. And assuming the figures - and list of cities - at the end of the film are correct (and I'm sure they are), well, let's just say that if this was a publicly traded company, it would be shut down and disbanded. I'd love to know what others thought of the film - I can't think of a single performance that I would consider to be "outstanding" (although many were very good), and I don't understand how enough Academy members voted for this for it to win. Anybody?
  3. Feeling out of touch with the zeitgeist, I watched the first Hunger Games movie a couple of nights ago. Generally, I'm predisposed to like post-apocalyptic science fiction movies with attractive lead actresses. But I'm also predisposed to dislike movies based on teen novels. So how would these two sources of bias interact? (Plot Discussion and Minor Spoiler Alerts Follow) I guess my conclusion is that if you can convince yourself that the plot device the movie is based on is plausible, then it's a pretty enjoyable movie. The device, of course, is that this society keeps its proletariat in check by having each district submit two teenagers to a yearly battle royale in which only one survives ("The Hunger Games"). Donald Sutherland (the leader of this Nation) explains it as a way to remind the Nation of futility of previous uprisings, and provide hope, but not too much hope (hope for what, I couldn't say - perhaps hope that you or your child can be that one person who survives and lives on as some kind of pseudo-celebrity). I should also say that the Hunger Games are televised and treated like the most popular reality show of all time in this world. Sort of like the Truman Show. So as I'm sort of indicating, you really have to do some mental backflips to make this twisted prison logic make sense. My guess is the reason kids like it is the confluence of action, the there can only be one reality TV/Kardashian component, and the easy to draw social commentary (Obama is President Snow - OPEN YOUR EYES PEOPLE!). It's also not hard, knowing there are two other installments, to figure out where this is all going. But that said, it's a pretty well-executed action movie with a compelling performance by Jennifer Lawrence. It's hard to not make parallels to her coming out party in Winter's Bone, which I'm sure the Hunger Games producers were much influenced by. A lot of similar ground is covered. In both movies she hunts and cooks squirrels, is beat up, and takes care of a younger sister (and is indeed driven by her desire to protect her siblings). Of course, it was all done in a much more evocative way in Winter's Bone, making it even harder to take Hunger Games seriously. That said, Lawrence is a commanding presence, and there are times when she portrayed internal conflict in such a strong yet understated way that I had to pause to movie to try to figure out what I really thought she was feeling. My only other complaint is that, out of no where, we learn that the Hunger Game producers can manifest giant pumas at will and insert them anywhere in the tournament grounds. That was a shocker.
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