TV & Film Review

TV Show Review: Mom

Posted on Updated on

4+ of 5 stars to Mom, a 30-minute TV comedy that began airing in 2013 and is currently in season 4. I couldn’t say enough good things about this show, something everyone should be watching if you like to laugh and enjoy a true slice of life. I want to give it a 5, but I rarely do that unless the show has been out and over for years, and holds up well to continue to watch years after it went off the air. But this one is still on the air, so it’s as close as I can get to giving a 5 for a fun viewing!

Why This Show?

  • I watched Allison Janney back when she was on Guiding Light almost twenty years ago as one half of a comedy maid team for the Spauldings. I thought she was hilarious back then and watched her in any movies or shows she starred in. Anna Faris has been my go-to female comedy girl for a long time… LOVE the spoof movies she does.
  • When they teamed up and were going to play recovering alcoholics, and separated mother and daughter, I thought it would be golden. And it is!
  • I watch about ten shows regularly, and this will always be one of them.

Show Overview

  • Christy (Faris) is a newly sober 35-40 year old woman living in Napa Valley, California. She’s been estranged from her alcoholic and pill-popping mother for years, but unfortunately inherited the same tendencies. She’s got an 18-year old daughter (not sure who the father is) who seems like she’ll follow in her mother’s and grandmother’s footsteps, and she’s got a 12-year old son (different father we see from time to time) who spends time with his dad more often than not. Christy’s a waitress and went back to law school to earn a law degree, struggling to survive as a parent, caretaker and recovering sober woman.
  • Bonnie (Janney) is Christy’s mother who raised Christy, but was often in jail or on a bender. She’s witty, sarcastic and hilarious. She’s had tons of jobs, was a lesbian for a few years so she had someone to pay for her habits and take care of Christy. Bonnie finds herself currently a building super, tho she has know skills in managing a building. She re-kindled her love with Christy’s father, but he eventually died of a heart attack in an earlier season.  She never knew her mother, and recently had a one-day introduction, but the woman later died where Bonnie learned she had a half-African-American brother. She’s currently dating a paraplegic man and trying to be more sensitive to everyone’s feelings around her.
  • Bonnie and Christy have spent the last few years re-building their relationship, living together, raising Christy’s kids together and figuring how how to be sober together. They even helped Christy’s then 16-year old daughter give up her new baby for adoption when Violet didn’t want to be a mother.
  • They have a group of friends through their AA meetings who have become an incredible support system and a sense of amazing comic relief.

Notable Stars

  • MY FAVORITE (in this show)
    • Allison Janney is the bomb! She’s been nominated for many awards, and even won an Emmy for Best Supporting Actress in the show. Her sarcasm and critical style are always on point and the biggest laughs on the show. But she also has a tender side and you will always root for her even when you want to smack her.

  • OTHERS
    • Anna Faris is a close #2 favorite. She plays a similar character as she has in many of her movies, but she’s got more substance in this show. She’s a good mom, but both her kids can be terrible. She tries to be nice to her mother, but she just can’t be — in a funny way. She has a good sense of comedy, a few dramatic scenes, but it’s her frequent snafus that keep us all entertained.
    • Mimi Kennedy plays Marjorie, the older and wiser sober friend who helps them all figure out how to keep moving forward each day. She’s best known for her role in Dharma and Greg.
    • Jaime Pressly plays Jill, the super-wealthy divorcee who wants a baby, but ends up adopting a teenager. She’s best known for her role in “My Name is Earl.”
    • Beth Hall plays nurse Wendy, a whiny friend who is always just one step away from the group. She’s best known for her role on Mad Men.
    • Many stars have joined from time to time, notably French Stewart and Octavia Spencer (who was fantastic).
    • Supporting players include Bonnie’s boyfriend Adam, Christy’s kids Violet and Roscoe, and her ex-husband Baxter.

The Good and The Bad

  • It is a true comedy. It covers so many different life experiences, and you have an amazing time watching them grow season by season.

  • It has a good amount of drama. There is excellent balance. We’ve watched death, break-ups, benders, marriages, births and a lot of heart-ache. Sometimes it’s shocking as you think it’s all comedy and boom, something bad happens.

  • Every episode is its own story. And sometimes, you don’t even realize you’ve been taught a lesson.
  • There’s been a few holes where characters should have stuck around longer. We want to know more about Bonnie’s half-brother. Baxter and the kids have been gone most of this season. Octavia Spencer’s role should be more frequent. Christy needs a good boyfriend for a few episodes.

Final Thoughts

  • You will always laugh, so give it a chance.
  • It’s got so much heart without being cheesy.
  • You root for everyone, even when they are doing stupid things.
  • I hope it lasts another 2 seasons and ends on a somewhat happy note.
  • If you’re going to watch it, you can pickup any episode and not worry about missing history. It’s good to watch in order, but not 100% necessary.  Find the one with Octavia Spencer’s debut… it’s probably the best one out there!

 

About Me

For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I watch TV A LOT. I read A LOT. I write A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. This site, https://thisismytruthnow.com, is where you’ll find TV & Film reviews, book reviews, the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge and lots of blogging about places I’ve visited all over the world. And you can find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Vote in the poll and ratings. Thanks for stopping by.

Film Review: All About Eve

Posted on Updated on

4+ of 5 stars to All About Eve, a drama about an aspiring actress and her obsession with a famous star set in NYC in the 1950s, starring many famous actors and actresses of the decade. The film is also highly praised and considered one of the best movies of the 20th century, which makes it a classic everyone must enjoy.

Why This Movie?

Several weeks ago, I began watching “Feud,” Ryan Murphy’s TV series about the famous feud between Bette Davis and Joan Crawford. I’m a big fan of Ryan’s shows, and I’d also seen “Whatever Happened to Baby Jane” many years ago, enjoying Bette Davis’ performance. And then there’s that time I took a a trip to visit Houmas House, the Louisiana plantation where “Hush, Hush, Sweet Charlotte,” the follow-up to “Baby Jane” also starring Bette Davis, was filmed.

It was Saturday night, last night, and we had plans for an old movie and some friends. And by friends, I mean drinks. Started with Jack Daniels and Ginger Ale. Later switched over to a nice Cabernet Sauvignon to go with the skirt steak chimichurri I made. I was searching for “Rebecca,” but couldn’t find it, so we settled on continuing the Bette Davis experience; hence, we chose “All About Eve.”

Film Overview

Margo Channing is a famous Broadway actress dating her director, Bill Simpson, and currently starring in “Aged in Wood.” Her playwright, Lloyd Richards, writes the parts for her, but most of the time, the main character is mid-20s, despite Margo recently turning 40. Margo’s best friend, Karen Richards, stumbles upon a beautiful young girl, Eve Harrington, standing outside the theatre, claiming she likes watching Margo leave each evening. Karen likes her and brings her inside to meet Margo, and they all quickly become friends. Eve moves in with Margo as her second personal assistant, as Margo already has right hand woman, Birdie.

Over a few months, Eve becomes an essential part of Margo’s life, handling everything from remembering Bill’s birthday to dealing with all Margo’s fans. Birdie suspects something is funny about Eve, but no one believes her. Soon after, Margo finds Eve starting to get too close to Margo’s life and tries to put up a few road blocks. Margo’s friends, Bill, Lloyd and Karen, start seeing the jealous side of Margo and set up a trap to teach her a lesson. Unfortunately, Eve ends up the winner as a result, suddenly finding herself as Margo’s understudy and starring for Margo one evening when Margo’s stuck in the country. Eve’s popularity quickly rises with the help of a critic, Addison DeWitt, and Addison later catches on to Eve’s tricks.

The movie closes with Eve winning an award for her performance in Lloyd’s newest play, finally starring an “age-appropriate actress” according to DeWitt’s newspaper column. But Eve realizes not everything she’s gone after is worth the trouble it’s caused her, leaving her open to another young ingenue who begins to play the same game with Eve — now in the role of woman blind to someone clearly ready to pounce.

Notable Stars

  • MY FAVORITE (in this movie)
    • Bette Davis plays Margo Channing. Bette was fantastic. Now seeing her in two movies, and Susan Sarandon’s performance of Bette in Feud, it seems like Bette always plays the same roles. She’s fantastic at them, but it makes me wonder if she was typecast. I remember Madonna’s song “Vogue” mentioning Bette Davis, and there was the song “Bette Davis Eyes,” which had a number of popular versions by various singers in the 60s, 70s and 80s. Unfortunately, Bette didn’t win the award for this role, but she was nominated for a Best Lead Actress Oscar. Rumor has it, the results were impacted because her co-star, Anne Baxter, was also in the category and split the votes. I’m gonna have to look that up…

  • OTHERS
    • Anne Baxter plays Eve Harrington. She’s really good and I could very easily see the line she toed playing obsessed but sane, loving but a charlatan, coy but venomous. Was nominated for the Lead Actress Oscar.
    • Celeste Holm plays Karen Richards. Good performance. First exposure to her. Was nominated for the Supporting Actress Oscar.
    • Gary Merrill plays Bill Simpson. Good performance. First exposure to him.
    • George Sanders plays Addison DeWitt. Good performance. First exposure to him. Won Best Supporting Acting Oscar.
    • Hugh Marlowe plays Lloyd Richards. Good performance. First exposure to him.
    • Thelma Ritter plays Birdie. She was funny. I liken her to Joan Crawford’s assistant, Mamacita. Was nominated for the Support Actress Oscar.
    • Marilyn Monroe has a small role — nothing to really comment about.

The Good and The Bad

  • All About Eve is based on a short story, ‘The Wisdom of Eve’, written by American author Mary Orr [1910-2006]. Thanks IMDB!
  • It’s in black and white, so you have a certain amount of charm and imagination.
  • For a film nearly 70 years old, it had tons of drama and caustic dialogue.

  • The plot was very strong, and it had a few side-stories which kept everything moving along. Never felt bored. Had a few moments of “are you serious,” but then I realized it was 70 years old… so it was a bit of a pioneer.
  • The whole “Eve wins an award” plot seemed a little far-fetched, as well as why Addison chose to support her, knowing she was playing a game the whole time. I thought he had more honesty about him.
  • I’d have liked to see what happens to Margo afterwards… did she have more plays? Did she move to a different playwright? Did she and Bill get married? Why was she OK with Bill working on the play with Eve?
  • I thought we should have seen a fight between Margo and Karen, especially since Karen’s the root of all the evil: Karen brought Eve to meet Margo, Karen told everyone to trust Eve and Karen setup the situation which led to Eve starring in Margo’s play.

What’s Next?

  • Since I’m on a Bette Davis kick, I think I’ll take a look at another film she starred in, “Dark Victory.” And of course, “Hush, Hush, Sweet Charlotte.”
  • Anne Baxter’s performance was also really strong. I will probably see what other movies she made…
  • This is a movie with powerful and strong women, especially for the 1950s. I think it’s got lots of chutzpah.
  • It’s not about crying when someone takes something that belongs to you. It’s about standing up and fight for yourself. I like it!

About Me

For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I watch TV A LOT. I read A LOT. I write A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. This site, https://thisismytruthnow.com, is where you’ll find TV & Film reviews, book reviews, the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge and lots of blogging about places I’ve visited all over the world. And you can find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Vote in the poll and ratings. Thanks for stopping by.

TV Show Review: Falcon Crest

Posted on

3+ stars to “Falcon Crest,” a 1980s drama about a family running a vineyard in California. What a hoot! With the normal television cycle winding down next month, I decided to look for a “classic” TV series to watch via Apple TV and stumbled across this one… I was too young to watch this when it first aired, but I thought I’d give it a chance.

My mom watched it and thought it was pretty good at the time. It hasn’t held up too well in my opinion, as many of the scenes are just so cheesy — no better word. It’s typical acting of the drama category and time period; nothing to dash in that capacity. But the ending camera scenes and the facial expressions… oh my! I’ve seen some bad ones on daytime soaps, but this took the prize.

That said, I’ve only watched 1/2 the first season – about 8 episodes. The story is good… a man dies under suspicious circumstances (but his sister makes it look like an accident) and his son, Chase, comes back to California to close on the estate. But Chase falls in love with the vineyard and moves his wife and two teenage children from NYC to claim his small stake in the family vineyard. His father’s sister, Aunt Angela, runs the entire vineyard and is anxious to get rid of Chase before he figures out that if his father died under suspicious circumstances, the whole vineyard goes to Chase. She’s got a kooky daughter, Emma, who is the one who accidentally pushed her uncle to his death. And another one, Julia, who seems smart but trapped. Meanwhile, Julia’s son, Lance, is the hot young stud who gets away with everything (or almost everything).

I’m excited to see where it will go, but not sure how much of the over-play I can take! Anyone out there watch it when it first aired and have thoughts?

TV Show Review: Sherlock

Posted on

4+ of 5 stars to the Netflix series “Sherlock.” I’ve only watched the first episode of the first season, but I’m already hooked. Let’s get to the details:

Story

 

Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson… classic detectives from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s literary mystery novels… but re-imagined in the 21st century with computers, cell phones and cars. Sherlock is a “consulting detective” on the police force. Watson is a war hero doctor looking for a job and a place to live. By the end of the first episode, they live together and fight crime side by side.

Sherlock Holmes is played by Benedict Cumberbatch. Who wouldn’t want their detective to be a such a handsome devil. He’s got the expected charming arrogance, but when you see it brought to life, you’ll easily fall for him.

Dr. John Watson is played by Martin Freeman. He’s quiet and shy, but has a certain hint of risk and danger about him. He’ll also send a few shivers in your direction.

Strengths

  1. The characters are well drawn and depicted. Sherlock’s mannerisms and style are evident and on target. The setting and plot are captivating. The dialogue is witty. You want to reach into the TV and smack them both on occasion, but then you just want to sit down for a cup of tea or brandy with them, too.
  2. There are many versions of the Sherlock Holmes stories that have been filmed, and I’ve only see a few; however, both the lead actors have fantastic methods for transforming characters from written words to the TV screen. You watch to see how they will handle each action or story; it’s as much as about the portrayal of classic heros as it is about the mystery.

Suggestions

Part of the charm of the stories written about 125 years ago is lost when re-appropriated to modern times. It’s still very strong, but I’d love to see a little bit of the past weaved in to ensure we feel transported into the intrigue and cleverness of the stories. Maybe we’ll find about some of their ancestors… and they investigate a century old crime!

Final Thoughts

I’m glad there are only 3 or 4 episodes per season, as you don’t want to sit and watch them all in one day… catch one every few weeks, in between reading some of the actual Sherlock stories. Get immersed.

TV Show Review: “Madam Secretary” – S3E6: “The Statement”

Posted on

4 stars to “Madam Secretary’s” Season 3, Episode 6 “The Statement.” This season started off a little shaky but has been growing much stronger. I look forward to each new episode unlike the prior season where it sat waiting in the DVR station.

Story

Henry’s former asset, Dmitri, has gone rogue. Henry flies to his new undercover location to try to save him, subsequently learning that Dmitri doesn’t want to live if he can’t be near his family or in a career protecting the country.  Henry acts fast to find a solution to try to meet one of the two requests.  And he succeeds…

The presidential election is heating up and it looks more and more like Dalton will lose. All their decisions about current politics and US relations with the world are based on this election.  Realistic much?

Poor Matt is tied to a radical Islamic terrorist bombing, or so it seems… perhaps it’s the Afghan government’s connections who are behind it all.  Matt made a donation to a mosque which is under scrutiny, but he refuses to speak to the press.  He’s branded a traitor by some American new groups and in the end, he’s proven innocent (of course). But it was a very clear picture of what it’s like in America these days…

Strengths

  1. Reality. It mirrors so much of what’s going on right now, it ain’t funny!
  2. Matt’s story was moving. You saw what it was like for someone being accused of a crime they didn’t commit purely because of religion. Awful.
  3. Tea Leoni’s angst and determination are unparalleled.  She was born to play this part. Maybe she should have a real role in government. 🙂

Suggestions

  1. Less about the Middle East in the future please.  Sometimes we need a different topic. I look forward to next week’s about Venezuela! Maybe we can find with Trudeau’s counterpart in Madam Secretary Canada?
  2. The family comes in and out too much. It feels disconnected.  As does the plight of the rest of the Secretary of State team. I understand giving each actor a chance to shine, but sometimes we lose traces of what’s going on in all of the character’s personal lives, e.g. what is up with Blake?  Can we please find out who the heck he is after 3 seasons?

Final Thoughts

It’s the best of the political dramas.  Scandal is good… and I can’t wait for that to come back in 2017, but it’s a little too drama-oriented.  Madam Secretary is all drama too, but it’s based in reality where people do things that make sense and that I can understand. I hope it’s renewed for season 4. Check out more at: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt6102296/?ref_=ttep_ep6.

TV Show Review: “The Crown” – S1E7: “Scientia Potentia Est”

Posted on

5 stars to Netflix’s original series “The Crown,” episode 7: “Scientia Potentia Est,” about Queen Elizabeth II’s reign of the United Kingdom — the early years. I may have found a temporary, suitable replacement for “Downton Abbey.”

Story

A chronicle of the last days of King George VI before his unprepared daughter became Queen Elizabeth II. In episode #7, Elizabeth faces 3 primary obstacles: (1) Her own lack of formal education, (2) An inability to choose her own new private secretary and (3) Her government’s leading two men’s failure to inform her of their crippling illnesses.

Strengths

  1. The tone of the acting, the drama, the setting and the direction is strikingly mid-century British. Now, of course you’re thinking… it’s supposed to be you fool… and you’re right; however, it’s brilliantly assembled such that I don’t even mind when a few parts may be an exaggeration of the reality that took place. After all, how would anyone alive today know exactly what happened in the privacy of some of these conversations? And so… that’s why I find it enlightening! It feels exactly like what would have happened.
  2. Costumes and scenery are wonderful. Props are used in all the key places. And the actors seem quite comfortable in their roles.
  3. Winston’s comeuppance was amazing. I waited all episode for it to happen, and when it did, it came just short of where I wanted it to go… I wanted him to apologize. I wanted her to browbeat him. I wanted to hear the faltering in their relationship. But alas, that is not the British way, and so… I did not see it. Brilliant. It was all done in the facial expressions, the silence and the imagination. Loved it!
  4. How could her parents not properly educate her. I agreed with Elizabeth for confronting her mother… and then her mother’s drunken response was classic… she stated the simple truth. She didn’t know better. No one told her. How can you blame her? It suddenly felt so clear, and so sad… not just because she was a women but because she was not the expected heir at the time. Karma’s a bitch, though… so it comes racing back!
  5. The fight over her selection of the secondary back-up secretary to replace the current secretary instead of the primary back-up secondary… excellent plot. I too would have told them where to shove it. But there’s that tradition that she is so stuck on following despite her own needs.  Tough predicament. I feel like she and I would be good friends.

Suggestions

  1. I’m fearful with only 3 episodes left, we may only get to Elizabeth’s second set of pregnancies and still have another 50 years of non-aired history. I can hope for a season 2!

Final Thoughts

Yes, it’s less drama than Downton Abbey. And it’s based on reality which means it can be a bit of a repeat. But with such a fresh set of eyes and a look into years before my time, I am happily hooked and enjoy my new Sunday evening calm. All 10 episodes are available on Netflix, but I carefully watch one per week so savor each moment.  Check it out at:  http://www.imdb.com/title/tt5254162/?ref_=ttep_ep7.

TV Show Review: “Scream Queens” – S2E9: “Lovin the D”

Posted on Updated on

4 stars to “Scream Queens” Season 2 – Episode 9 “Lovin the D.” The long-missed well-balanced camp in this week’s episode was on back with a vengeance. And I was thrilled. Where else can I laugh at the silliness of so many characters that actually remind me of some people I know!

Story

Season 2 picks up with several of Season 1’s survivors back in action, but at a new special hospital where they “cure the incurable.” The Green Meanie is exacting revenge for a wrongful death at the hospital over 25 years ago — and the sorority girls need to figure it out before they become its victim. If you don’t want to read any spoilers, skip this review!

In this episode, the fantastic Brooke Shields plays a daytime television talk show hostess who wants to be the first to have an on-the-air surgery to remove a 20 lb. tumor off of someone’s face. Yikes! The Chanel’s quickly jump into action to get a part of their favorite actor’s TV show and help perform the surgery. It’s a success and they get their own show out of it! Well, of course they do, they’re just perfect for this kind of drama.

Meanwhile, there are actually 3 Green Meanie’s all out to kill the hospital staff for different reasons.  Hester calls a summit to organize which one can kill which remaining victims. I do love a well-planned, well-organized murder where each of the killers tries to be fair in divvying up the remaining deaths! 🙂

A few more characters die, the hospital wins some awards and 1 of the Green Meanie killers is killed! Only 2 left to murder the final remaining cast: 4 Chanels, Hester, 2 doctors, 1 administrator, 1 mother, and 1 head nurse.  Who will survive!!! Oh yeah, the looney cop turned FBI agent (LOVE Niecy Nash) is still on ice being kept alive. Now you know she’s coming back to life!

Strengths

  1. The camp was fantastic this week, especially when it’s been way overdone or lacking the last few weeks.  From the last-minute requirement for the Chanel’s to take the MCATs, the medical board’s visit, the 3 killer summit and the mother gone crazy, it was totally ON-TARGET! Some weeks, the actors just miss the fine line between campy humor and silly parlor tricks. Not this week. I was glued to my TV.
  2. The ode to the death by grease fryer oil is back! And the one we thought was gonna burn to a crisp survives another week… but unfortunately, 1 of the Green Meanie’s doesn’t!

Suggestions

  1. I wish they would have held out the identify of all 3 killers until the last episode.  We learned one in episode 6, one in episode 7 and one in episode 8. It was still fun to figure out how everyone would die and in what order, but I wanted a big reveal. Maybe it will still happen.
  2. They better set the stage for a season 3. I was iffy along the way if I could take another season, but if it keeps the same level as it did in this episode… then it better be a rockin’ season finale next week.

Final Thoughts

I now have some new fun names to call my friends… you boozy old hag! To check more out about this series, go to http://www.imdb.com/title/tt4145384/?ref_=ttfc_fc_tt.