TV & Film Review

Film Review: Beauty and the Beast (2017)

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4 out of 5 stars to the 2017 release of Beauty and the Beast. If you’re unfamiliar with the latest version, check it out at: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2771200/

I’m sure most people have heard this story before… either through the Disney versions or reading the original French fairy tale. In case you haven’t, the story goes essentially as follows:

  • Prince doesn’t realize how good he has it and fails to be kind to others.
  • A curse is placed upon him, where he will turn into a beast for a very long time.
  • Years later, he may or may not torture a village (different versions).
  • A beautiful maiden, Belle, meets the Beast.
  • He captures her and she’s forced to stay in his castle.
  • She stays there to protect her family and the village from him.
  • She falls for him, but he cannot allow himself to be with her.
  • He eventually lets her go, his way of showing his love.
  • Belle leaves, but something draws her back.
  • She kisses him and the curse is broken, now that’s he’s learned his lesson.

Disney tells the story one way. Literature another. The TV show Once Upon a Time yet even other way. But it always comes down to the simple saying:

“If you love someone, set them free. If it’s meant to be, they will come back to you.”

I never realized how much this story was similar to Phantom of the Opera. What’s with those French? That said, I’ve seen a few versions before this one. I wasn’t anxious to see it in the movie theatre, so I simply downloaded it On Demand this weekend and watched it with a lovely glass of champagne… or a bottle actually… somehow in the 2 hours the movie ran, I finished off the whole bottle. And no, I’m not saying the movie drives you to drink. It just happened.

I enjoyed the movie and the changes in the story. The graphics were amazing, especially with all the inanimate object characters that come to life. Wow! That was fantastic editing. The music was good. The acting was strong. All in all, a solid effort. It didn’t completely overwhelm me, so it earns a 4 out of 5 on my movie scale. Key players include:

Emma Watson Emma Watson
Dan Stevens Dan Stevens
Luke Evans Luke Evans
Josh Gad Josh Gad
Kevin Kline Kevin Kline
Hattie Morahan Hattie Morahan
Haydn Gwynne Haydn Gwynne
Clothilde
Gerard Horan Gerard Horan
Jean the Potter
Ray Fearon Ray Fearon
Ewan McGregor Ewan McGregor
Ian McKellen Ian McKellen
Emma Thompson Emma Thompson
Nathan Mack Nathan Mack
Audra McDonald Audra McDonald
Stanley Tucci Stanley Tucci
Gugu Mbatha-Raw Gugu Mbatha-Raw

What I found most interesting was all the hullabaloo over LeFou being gay in the movie. From everything I’d heard, I expected him to be flamboyant, out and a main part of the show. But it was such a small aspect… he flirted a tiny bit with Gaston. He danced with another guy at the end. And he had a bit of flair. But so did they all. Ugh, please. Not even worth mentioning anymore. Was totally fine for all viewers. And to think a movie theatre wouldn’t show the film. Yikes.

The setting and scenery between the abandoned castle and the woods were gorgeous, especially the aerial views, which seemed to capture everything. I thought the film was a bit short and could have told a few more stories between some of the other characters, as if you didn’t know who all the characters were from previous versions, you might have missed a few pieces of the beginning and how they connected to the rest of the movie.

beast

Anyone else see it? What’d ya think?

 

About Me & the “365 Daily Challenge”

I’m Jay and I live in NYC. By profession, I work in technology. By passion, I work in writing. I’ve always been a reader. And now I’m a daily blogger. I decided to start my own version of the “365 Daily Challenge” where since March 13, 2017, I’ve posted a characteristic either I currently embody or one I’d like to embody in the future. 365 days of reflection to discover who I am and what I want out of life.

The goal: Knowledge. Acceptance. Understanding. Optimization. Happiness. Help. For myself. For others. And if all else fails, humor. When I’m finished in one year, I hope to have more answers about the future and what I will do with the remainder of my life. All aspects to be considered. It’s not just about a career, hobbies, residence, activities, efforts, et al. It’s meant to be a comprehensive study and reflection from an ordinary man. Not a doctor. Not a therapist. Not a friend. Not an encyclopedia full of prior research. Just pure thought, a blogged journal with true honesty.

Join the fun and read a new post each day, or check out my book reviews, TV/Film reviews or favorite vacation spots. And feel free to like, rate, comment or take the poll for each post. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.

 

Film Review: Dirty Dancing (Re-Make)

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3- of 5 stars to the re-make of the film Dirty Dancing, just released on ABC TV in May, 2017. I had no clue they were doing a re-make of this movie until a few days before it aired, and I only knew because I happened to catch a quick promo in between watching on TV shows. I wonder why they didn’t advertise this one too much… wait… I know…

Was there any need to even do a re-make? Let’s dive in to the review… quick side note — I’m not going to do a typical review where I compare and contrast… I’m just throwing a few key thoughts out about the re-make and opening it up to questions and feedback!

 

dancing                       original

 

Overview

The original Dirty Dancing movie was a phenomenon when released in 1987. I was ten years old and not originally allowed to watch the movie, as it was considered too racy; however, my mom later caved when we were visiting with friends one weekend. I remember my mom and her friend Joyce discussing whether it was appropriate for me and for Joyce’s daughter, Robin, who was 2-years older than me. Ultimately, because the mothers wanted to watch it, they caved and let us watch it, too. But I also recall being asked to close our eyes at a few parts and even asked to leave the room for 5 minutes when the whole abortion discussion came up.

Anyways…trying to stay on track here… I really liked the movie, but I wasn’t a crazy fanatic who fell in love with Patrick Swayze or Jennifer Grey, nor felt the need to watch it every time it was on. I’ve seen it a few times, love many of the songs and I fully admit, when they do the lift, I am on a bit of a high. I have never practiced it tho… either the lifter or the liftee! Have you?????

If you’ve never seen it (what rock do you live under as I need to send you a VHS, as that’s probably the video equipment you’re still using… but then how are you reading this post? Oh @#$#$, now my brain hurts!)…. it’s about a family who vacations in the Catskills in upstate NY in the 1960s/1970s. The father’s a doctor, the mother’s a housewife. They have two girls, about 18 and 20. While on vacation, Baby, the younger daughter, decides to take some dancing lessons and essentially falls for the instructor, Johnny, who is trying to make a living and stay out of trouble. Johnny’s dance partner has a sort-of-botched abortion and can’t dance for a few weeks. Baby steps in, without her family knowing, and has the “time of her life.” Once her family learns about what she’s been up to, they try to stop it; however, it’s too late, as she’s fallen in love with Johnny.

There are tons of other side-stories, but this is the primary one…  somewhere between romance and family drama, it had women swooning over Patrick Swayze, people talking about Jennifer Grey’s funny-shaped nose and it created a whole new generation of people rooting for less “restrictions” in life. (That’s way over simplifying this movie… but if you haven’t seen it, there’s no point in reading my mini-review of the re-make version, right????)

But I’m not wrong, am I???

Focus Jay… so, someone decided to re-make this movie 30 years later… and thus, I have a few comments and questions.

Notable Points

  • Main Roles / Stars
    • Abigail Breslin plays Baby (Primary Character, AKA Frances)
    • Colt Prattes plays Johnny
    • Sarah Hyland plays Lisa (older sister)
    • Nicole Scherzinger plays Penny (Johnny’s dancing partner)
    • Bruce Greenwood plays Jake (father)
    • Debra Messing plays Marjorie (mother)
    • Katey Saga plays Vivian (older woman seducing Johnny)
    • Shane Harper plays Robbie (father of Penny’s baby)
    • At least other 10 characters / actors (some famous) but minor roles
  • Differences (don’t read if you don’t want spoilers)
    • Baby and Johnny don’t end up together — that’s just gonna piss off people
    • Vivian has a much larger role in trying to nail Johnny — love her, but why???
    • Marjorie wants to divorce Jake — eh, weak plot device
    • Lisa enters into an inter-racial romance, while her fling with Robbie is very short — kudos for the change
    • Baby wrote a book, and a Broadway play is made of her time doing “Dirty Dancing” — a bit odd

 

What did I think?

I would have given the original movie a 4+ out of 5 stars. I gave the re-make a 3- out of 5 stars. I wanted to give it a 2, but by my definition, that would have said it was pretty bad. If there weren’t ever an original Dirty Dancing, then I think I would have been fine with this new one, hence settling on a 3- for the re-made version.

A few things that irked me:

  • The things they chosen to do differently didn’t really add any value; they took away from the overall story. I’m sure they added some to give meatier roles to other actors and actress and hopefully bring in their fans to watch the re-make. And I love Katey Sagal, but we didn’t need the additional story points with Vivian. While I enjoyed the latter part of the romance between Jake and Marjorie, their relationship issues didn’t impact me in the first part.

  • I didn’t agree with most of the casting, which was my main problem. They went for the “ultra-hot guy” with 12 pack abs (Aside: I know that’s not possible, but coming from a 2-pack-maybe-4-pack-on-a-good-day-when-I-didn’t-eat-pizza-or-drink-the-night-before-guy… come on… not right… I mean who feels the need to focus on that when there’s so much more to discuss in this movie… oh wait, I just spoke about my own body, ugh… just like the movie – big mistake!… shut up now), but that wasn’t the normal body type in the 1960s/1970s (pointed out by my significant other)… So it did not feel authentic, especially when they did a lot to “cover up” Abigail Breslin who while quite beautiful, does not have your “typical” dancer-body as compared to every one else dancing in the movie. For many reasons, I thought she was a good “Baby,” but I couldn’t stop thinking about her from her role on Scream Queens to realistically look at her in a more serious and meaty role.
  • I’m off topic again… my point being… they went in opposite directions with casting the two leads, highlighting body shapes/types when that really has absolutely nothing to do with the romance, dancing or movie??? It shouldn’t have ever been something to pick up on, except for the fact that the camera folks seemed to purposely focus on it. Johnny should have been a more regular-looking guy in good shape [max 2-pack abs with just a few bulges in his arms — pick either triceps or biceps, right?] and not a focus on every single one of his muscles as the thing to admire. (As I did admire it… let’s be real!)

A few things I liked:

  • It felt like it was recorded in the proper time period, including the background setting, clothing and location shoots.
  • The new music, as I believe they couldn’t either get the rights to the original versions, or didn’t want to replicate those parts for fear of the ultimate in comparisons, worked well. I didn’t like them a much as the original, but they still had some light and fun moments, one or two sexy moments and they created a great compilation overall.

Why even do a re-make?

The ultimate question… when something is so good, why put effort into a re-make when you know it will never come close to the original. And even if they found the perfect actors and actresses, it will always be compared to something that some people feel is their favorite movie ever… If you’re going to re-make a movie like this one, the changes should be very clear and specific. This one felt like it had differences in all the wrong places… lost some of the original sultry aspects and awkward yet embracing charm… and the casting was too far off the original to bring about the right overall mood.

Should movies ever be re-made? What do you think?  What did you think of this one? Please share… would love to hear from those who loved the original and watched the re-make, as well as those who thought the re-make was a fantastic shout-out to the original!

 

About Me

I’m Jay and I live in NYC. By profession, I work in technology. By passion, I work in writing. Once you hit my site “ThisIsMyTruthNow” at https://thisismytruthnow.com, you can join the fun and see my blog and various site content. You’ll find book reviews, published and in-progress fiction, TV/Film reviews, favorite vacation spots and my own version of the “365 Daily Challenge.” Since March 13, 2017, I’ve posted a characteristic either I currently embody or one I’d like to embody in the future. 365 days of reflection to discover who I am and what I want out of life… see how you compare!

Feel free to like, rate, comment or take the poll for each post. Tell me what you think. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.

TV Show Review: Grace & Frankie

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4+ of 5 stars to Grace and Frankie, a Netflix original TV comedy series created in 2015 and currently in season 3. What an amazing show! Only a few things holding it back from being a 5 star rating for me (covered below). Let’s get into the fun!

grace

Why This Show?

  • Netflix has become a go-to for TV viewing. I don’t have to worry about recording a show. I always find something new and interesting. And the quality is always strong.
  • Lily Tomlin is hilarious. I’ve grown fond of Jane Fonda over the years. And the thought of a reunion since their movie “9 to 5” is enough to make anyone want to see this show. I just hope they get Dolly Parton to stop by for an episode or two.
  • What a great concept… and to show them living their lives separately, dealing with their husbands leaving them when in their 70s… I don’t think that’s been done before!

Show Overview

  • About thirteen (13) episodes in each of the three (3) seasons. Netflix releases them in May each year, so you can binge watch the whole season at once or keep it for longer by watching one every week or so like me!
  • Martin Sheen and Jane Fonda play Robert and Grace Hanson, married for about 40 years, with 2 daughters in their 30s, Brianna and Mallory. Martin’s an attorney and Grace ran her own consumer products business for women.
  • Sam Waterston and Lily Tomlin play Sol and Frankie Bergstein, also married for about 40 years with two adopted sons in their 30s, Bud and Coyote. Sol’s an attorney and Martin’s best friend. Frankie’s a free spirit who paints and invents things. She and Grace have never liked one another.
  • Robert and Sol fell in love over 30 years ago and have been engaged in a long-term affair, unable to tell their wives and children that they’re both gay. In the first episode, it’s finally revealed… and life is never the same again for the two couples.
  • Both divorce in the first season, and Sol and Robert finally move in together. Grace and Frankie realize they only have each other right now, as they don’t want anyone else to know… so they end up moving in together in the beach house the couples shared. And they become friends, learning how to deal with each other’s very different personas and styles.
  • Each episode is about the relationships they all share from dating, to parent/child to friendships. Grace and Frankie have to re-invent themselves in their 70s, trying to decide how to prove they are more than just jilted wives. Robert and Sol just want to move on and finally be happy together. When both families find out, everyone’s surprised but at the same time, sorta saw it coming.
  • The show also has several side stories concerning:
    • Brianna takes over her mother’s business when Grace retires.  She doesn’t ever want to get married or have children, preferring to live the single lady and professional business woman’s life.
    • Mallory is married with a lot of kids, living the family life. She’s often jealous of her sister, but also loves her children.
    • Bud is following in his father’s footsteps and about to take over the law firm. He was adopted at birth and is from Africa.
    • Coyote had a drug and drinking problem, recently released from a rehab facility. He used to be in love with Mallory, but has left her alone ever since she got married. He’s still trying to figure out his life and future.
    • Grace and Frankie open a business together with a focus on providing sexual products to women over 65. Both women have tried dating, finding some success but also lots of struggles.

The Good and The Bad

  • It’s a great slice of life for both gay men and straight women in their 70s. What happens when your relationship ends and you have to move on? Can you do it alone? Do you rely on friends? How do you re-invent yourself? What is important?  All good questions and the show tackles each one with careful aplomb.
  • I do not buy Martin Sheen or Sam Waterston as gay men. Both are playing a little lighter than their normal personalities in other roles; however, it can come across as a bit of a caricature or as a little too effeminate. It’s not bad, but enough that I sorta squint my eyes and glance sideways to accept it. I think there could have been better casting for them both; however, I do enjoy watching their performances. Grace and Frankie are the stars of the show tho.
  • The four kids all feel a little over the top, as they each have their own issues. It makes for good drama, but I feel like too much stress is put on those aspects and less about the positive side of the relationships between parents and children. Too much fighting, but then again, maybe my family just never outwardly fought.
  • I laugh every episode. I get a little emotional in many of them. It’s never boring. And often, you can relate to them, even though you might be 30 or 40 years younger.

Final Thoughts

  • So many great topics: assisted suicide, coming out, inter-racial dating, affairs, dementia, hip replacement, robbery, guns, business ownership… something different each time, guaranteed to leave you with interesting thoughts and reactions.
  • You should know there is a bit of risque language and topics, especially when it comes to the products that Grace and Frankie have invented, designed and produced for their business for the 65+ women with arthritic hands. By now, you’ve probably guessed what I’m referring to… but it keeps going from there. So if those things are out of your comfort zone, you may want to skip the show.

About Me

I’m Jay and I live in NYC. By profession, I work in technology. By passion, I work in writing. Each week, I will post a summary of a trip I’ve taken somewhere in the world. I’ll cover the transportation, hotel, restaurants, activities, who, what, when, where and why… and let you decide for yourself if it’s a trip worth taking.

Once you hit my site “ThisIsMyTruthNow” at https://thisismytruthnow.com, you can join the fun and see my blog and various site content. You’ll find book reviews, published and in-progress fiction, TV/Film reviews, favorite vacation spots and my own version of the “365 Daily Challenge.” Since March 13, 2017, I’ve posted a characteristic either I currently embody or one I’d like to embody in the future. 365 days of reflection to discover who I am and what I want out of life… see how you compare!

Feel free to like, rate, comment or take the poll for each post. Tell me what you think. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.

TV Show Review: Feud

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5 of 5 stars to the first season of Feud, a TV drama series produced by Ryan Murphy that began airing season one in 2017, focusing on the famous feud between Bette Davis and Joan Crawford from the 1950s thru the 1970s. Season 2 has already been approved for 2018, and it will focus on the feud between Prince Charles and Princess Diana in the 1980s and 1990s. How could you not want to watch this amazing show?

Why This Show?

  • I am a big fan of Ryan Murphy’s TV Shows. I first watched Nip/Tuck, then Glee, followed by The New Normal. He got a little quiet for a while, but then came back with a few amazing shows in a row: American Horror Story and Scream Queens. But then he produced Feud. I couldn’t say no!
  • I’ve seen a few Bette Davis and Joan Crawford movies, stimulating some interest in how Murphy would portray their feud. I wasn’t alive when they had their disagreements, nor had I seen too many older movies, but I thought this would be a great way to immerse myself in their culture.
  • I enjoy Susan Sarandon and Jessica Lange in almost anything they’ve previously been in. How could I not give it a chance?
  • The significant other really wanted to watch it… again, how could I say no?

Show Overview

  • Eight (8) episodes on the FX network in March and April, 2017. Each were about 1 hour long, starting with the pitch for “Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?” and ending with the death of both women.
  • Joan Crawford and Bette Davis are the primary focus of the show. You see Bette’s relationship with two of her daughters, and you see Joan’s relationship with two of her daughters. There is very little concerning the early years of Joan’s life, and Murphy avoided the entire story involving Christina, which was later a book and movie about Joan’s abilities as a mother.
  • The show also has several side stories concerning:
    • Aldrich’s wife, affairs and their divorce
    • The assistant’s drive to be her own director
    • Victor Buono’s “hidden” homosexuality
    • The Warner brothers fame and fortune
    • Hedda Hopper’s cancer
    • Mamacita’s nearly heroic efforts to support Joan

Notable Stars

  • MY FAVORITE (in this show)
    • This is so tough… Both Susan Sarandon and Jessica Lange were amazing. I think Sarandon has the slight edge, simply because she plays a bit of a different character for me, whereas Lange’s portrayal reminds me of a few other characters she’s brilliantly played before. That said, I am including both here.
    • Susan Sarandon had some moments worth of an Oscar. She nailed Bette in so many scenes. There were also a few with a bit too much of an edge in the performance, but still memorable. Always with a cigarette in her hand, the accent was critical to show us the Bette we all love. Sarandon held nothing back, always a spit fire — she lit every seen with her expressions, eyes and anger.
    • Jessica Lange’s bitter misery with Joan’s life was evident at every moment of her performance. When she cried, you almost wanted to laugh at her… not because it was poor acting, but because she truly made Crawford a flawed character who couldn’t ever see beyond her own opinions. With age, she mellowed a bit, but never could she see the error of her ways. She may have had a tough life, but she was way too pushy in some aspects. For Lange to get this across was amazing!

  • OTHERS
    • Judy Davis plays Hedda Hopper, a vicious columnist and reporter known to go after the stars with a vengeance. She had some really strong and tender scenes where I didn’t know if she was speaking a brilliant truth, or just being a bitch!
    • Jackie Hoffmann plays Mamacita, Joan’s maid and personal assistant. Her accent is hilarious,  but she’s got a very strong role as a supporting cast member in this one.
    • Alfred Molina plays Robert Aldrich, their director. He is married, but seems to forget it from time to time. His marriage is a key point during a few of the episodes, helping provide some much needed reality for life of the “middle-class” housewife during the 60s.
    • Stanley Tucci plays Jack Warner, the owner of Warner Brothers Studios, who bankrolls the pictures that the women star in. His character was such an ass!!! But the acting was great.
    • Alison Wright plays Pauline, a fictional character portraying the director’s assistant, but she wants to direct her own films. She’s a compilation of several people from real-life at the time. She has several great scenes, helping provide some depth and humor, outside the feud between the two other women.
    • Catherine Zeta-Jones plays Olivia de Havilland, an actress working in other films with both women. She’s closer to Bette Davis, and ultimately takes Joan’s place in “Hush, Hush… Sweet Charlotte.” She’s good, nothing too special tho.
    • Kathy Bates plays Joan Blondell, a similar-type actress during their generation. She provides commentary about Joan after she’s passed away. Fine performance, nothing special.
    • Kiernan Shipka plays Bette’s daughter, fighting with her mother the entire time. Typical character you’ve seen her play elsewhere… best known for her work as the daughter on MadMen.
    • Tons of other stars, but those are the major ones.

The Good and The Bad

  • The set re-creations were phenomenal. Winston had a book about Joan’s NYC apartment and looked it up… they nailed the interior.
  • They took a few liberties with the timing on events and some exaggeration in a few areas. Looked up a few of the realities and facts to compare. Nothing too jarring, but enough where you’d go, “huh?”
  • Both of those women were mad crazy during that time period. It’s like they want to love their children, but I did not see that… they certainly said they loved them and tried to show it, but wow… kids were never the top priority!
  • Old Hollywood was a beautiful thing sometimes. It was also very messed up. Feud clearly shows the highlights in each and every episode.
  • There is a nice dream sequence in the last episode where Murphy explores “what could have been” if the two women ever tried to become friends.
  • The re-creation of some of the real movies were so fun to watch, especially having seen both the movies that were the key focus: Baby Jane and Charlotte.
  • The 1963 Oscars… that episode was brilliant. To see how they stabbed one another in the back. How Joan won in the end even when she didn’t. And to think these ladies did stuff out and in the public, where everyone could see their behavior. Hilarious!

Final Thoughts

  • It’s a re-living of history with about 80% truth and 20% exaggeration or fiction. But what you get is a solid show, full of memories and nostalgia for the olden days… which weren’t all that long ago!
  • The concept of the show is great… and I really look forward to the next one with the prince and princess.
  • Too early to tell if the show will get any nominations at the Oscars, but we’ll see soon enough!
  • You’ll enjoy this no matter what age you are, whether you lived through it, watched some of the movies or think that’s so far in the past, everyone else is ancient. It’s got drama and comedy. It’s got fashion, style and charm. It’s got down and dirty politics and shenanigans. All with a classy production.

About Me

I’m Jay and I live in NYC. By profession, I work in technology. By passion, I work in writing. Each week, I will post a summary of a trip I’ve taken somewhere in the world. I’ll cover the transportation, hotel, restaurants, activities, who, what, when, where and why… and let you decide for yourself if it’s a trip worth taking.

Once you hit my site “ThisIsMyTruthNow” at https://thisismytruthnow.com, you can join the fun and see my blog and various site content. You’ll find book reviews, published and in-progress fiction, TV/Film reviews, favorite vacation spots and my own version of the “365 Daily Challenge.” Since March 13, 2017, I’ve posted a characteristic either I currently embody or one I’d like to embody in the future. 365 days of reflection to discover who I am and what I want out of life… see how you compare!

Feel free to like, rate, comment or take the poll for each post. Tell me what you think. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.

Film Review: Hush… Hush, Sweet Charlotte

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4 of 5 stars to Hush… Hush, Sweet Charlotte, a drama released in 1964 about the eccentricities of a southern woman who has lived in a house for over 50 years, afraid to ever leave the confines of home. Full of macabre, murder, intrigue, over-the-top drama and campy cult phenomena, this movie is a must see for anyone who loves older/classic movies with a bit of fun humor.

charlotte

Why This Movie?

I began watching “Feud,” the Ryan Murphy TV series depicting the famous rivalry between Bette Davis and Joan Crawford. In the second to last episode, Crawford and Davis agree to make a follow-up movie to “Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?,” but Crawford later drops out due to issues with other people on the set. Olivia de Havilland steps in, at Bette Davis’ request, thus fueling the feud of whether Joan quit or was pushed out due to her antics on the set while in Louisiana. I had to see the actual movie and watched it this last Saturday evening.

I’ve been to the plantation where it was filmed in Louisiana, and it’s a pip! There is a room dedicated to Bette Davis, as well as other famous things from the time period. Plus it’s a very dog-friendly place! Go check it out here.

Image result for houmas house

Overview

When the film begins, it’s the mid-1920s at a party in a southern plantation. The audience learns that Charlotte, a 20ish girl, has been having an affair with her neighbor, but he is married. Charlotte’s cousin, Miriam, tells Charlotte’s father about the affair, and he forces the neighbor to end it. As the party comes to an end, we see someone approach the neighbor with a hatchet. And then the neighbor’s hand and head are chopped off.  In the next scene, Charlotte enters the party, covered in blood, leaving the audience to assume she is the murderess.

The movie then jumps forward 50 years when Charlotte, now a recluse living in the same house, is being forced to move off the property when the government is trying to take her property to build a highway and a bridge. She asks Miriam, who’s moved away, to come home and help fight the town and sheriff. Charlotte is a bit off-her-rocker, shooting at the workers and cops to get them off her property. Dr. Drew, her friend from childhood, is trying to keep her calm until Miriam returns. Once Miriam does, a week passes by where the 3 of them, plus Velma, Charlotte’s friend and housekeeper, work together to try find a solution. But Charlotte begins to see her former lover’s dead body and head rolling around, thinking he might be alive sometimes, dead at others. She is eventually sedated by Drew, as she’s going quite loony. All the time, the audience questions whether her imagination is running wild or if someone is playing tricks on her. And if someone is, could it be Velma, Drew or Miriam…

Rather than spoil the ending, all I will say is: You find out who murdered the neighbor. You meet the neighbor’s wife, who is still alive. A newspaper man comes snooping around to see if he can figure out who the murderer is. And someone else is killed. It is really very clever and funny.

Notable Stars

  • MY FAVORITE
    • Bette Davis is absolutely the star with her over-the-top performance. You really can’t tell if she’s crazy or playing crazy most of the time. You feel bad for everyone taking advantage of her. You almost want her to shoot the sheriff or workers and get away with it. And when you see her in the ending, there is still a little bit of… “what’s going on here…” momentum. Though she plays a bit of a similar role to others she’s played before, it’s still a really good performance. Her eyes are magnificent.

  • OTHERS
    • Olivia de Havilland is a close runner up to my favorite. She is also adept at playing the fine line between caring cousin or possible snake in the grass. You can’t quite tell until about 2/3 of the way thru when you know who is really behind all the drama, but I don’t want to reveal any spoilers… Olivia was the second actress to play this role. Joan Crawford was originally cast and worked several weeks into the shooting before she left the set. I liked seeing the differences between Olivia in this role and in her role in Gone with the Wind, where she played another cousin, Melanie. And the actress is still alive (2017) living in France.
    • Joseph Cotton plays Dr. Drew. I’d never seen him before, but he did a fine job. He has an interesting speaking voice, and I couldn’t quite see a lot of range from him in this role. He seems to be most known for his role in Citizen Kane.
    • Agnes Moorehead plays Velma. She was a bit over-the-top, too, but quite amusing. I love her as Endora in Bewitched. She plays a little crazy in her role, but has a wonderful scene where she’s emotionally wrought and trying to get help for Charlotte.
    • Cecil Kellaway plays the interested reporter. I know I’ve seen him before, but I can’t be sure where it was. Looked it up, but nothing rings a specific bell. He’s most known for his role in “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner,” which I’ve also not seen.
    • Victor Buono plays Charlotte’s father. I saw him in “Baby Jane” and thought he was good. I was very amused at the actor portraying him in Feud. Buono’s role in this movie is relatively small, as he appears in the first 15 minutes in the early scenes before the film hops to what was then current times.
    • Mary Astor, of the famous Astor family, plays the neighbor’s wife. She was very good. I enjoyed her sarcasm, wit and portrayal of the disadvantaged wife. She has a great scene with Cecil Kellaway, when she asks him to deliver a letter to someone after her death. I knew there was more to that part of the story, and it comes back in the end when Cecil finally hands the letter to someone.

The Good or The Bad

  • Only Agnes Moorehead was nominated for an Oscar, but she didn’t win. No other awards, which is sad… but I haven’t see any of the films that were produced that year… so I can’t quite say if it was a good decision. Will get back to you!
  • Bette Davis calls someone a “bitch” in the movie. I didn’t think they said those things back in the ’60s in regular movies. Shocking! But great scene.
  • It borders on being campy, which was kinda fun. It was a little too silly with the rolling head, but I totally understand they had limits back then on what they could show and how good productions were. Today, it would be all gore… It was considered a “B” movie at the time.

  • Some of the gas-lighting scenes were so silly, I couldn’t hold the laughs in. That’s why I felt it bordered on camp. But it wasn’t as prevalent back then as it is now, so it probably added to the suspense more than looking at it 50 years later.
  • The fall down the stairs for the second murder victim was good camera work. But always leaves me wondering… would someone really die immediately from that? It didn’t look like the victim had a neck injury. But drama is drama…
  • I tried to picture Joan Crawford in Olivia’s role. I could see it for part of the time, but I’m not sure Joan could have played the full-on subtlety that was needed.
  • As far as it being 50+ years old… it kept my attention the entire time. Never any slow parts. Never any unwatchable parts. That makes it top notch in my book.
  • The only reason I didn’t give it a 5 was due to the slight campy nature and the over-played scenes when it came to deaths or murders. It’s more of a comedy than a drama to me, but I know Hollywood wouldn’t have called it that in the 1960s.
  • If you love old Hollywood or fun intrigue, give it a chance. If you pick things apart too much, avoid it.

What’s Next?

  • Olivia de Havilland was a surprise for me. I liked her in Gone With the Wind, but now that I’ve seen a second movie with her, with different range, I’m curious… so I plan to look up her filmography and pick something. Any suggestions?
  • I hadn’t realized Agnes Moorehead was in films as well as TV Shows. I might take a look at her credits, too.

  • It reminded me of Hitchcock… and someone I follow on here published her monthly biography which was focused on Hitchcock. Will probably pick one of them.
  • I need to write up a review of Ryan Murphy’s “Feud,” probably later this week.

About Me

I’m Jay. I am 40 and live in NYC. By profession, I work in technology. By passion, I work in writing. Each week, I will post a summary of a trip I’ve taken somewhere in the world. I’ll cover the transportation, hotel, restaurants, activities, who, what, when, where and why… and let you decide for yourself if it’s a trip worth taking.

Once you hit my site “ThisIsMyTruthNow” at https://thisismytruthnow.com, you can join the fun and see my blog and various site content. You’ll find book reviews, published and in-progress fiction, TV/Film reviews, favorite vacation spots and my own version of the “365 Daily Challenge.” Since March 13, 2017, I’ve posted a characteristic either I currently embody or one I’d like to embody in the future. 365 days of reflection to discover who I am and what I want out of life… see how you compare!

Feel free to like, rate, comment or take the poll for each post. Tell me what you think. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.

Film Review: Hidden Figures

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4 of 5 stars to Hidden Figures, a drama released in 2017 about three African-American women who fought for the ability to work in a NASA program during the 1960s on the team calculating important formulas and equations being used to help the US launch an astronaut into space. Originally a book by Margot Lee Shetterly, you can read more about it here.

Why This Movie?

The story is fascinating… not only are three women, but three African-American women, fighting for a fair chance to participate when (1) it should have always been an option [don’t get me started on my frustration with all people not having equal rights in the past] and (2) they were the smartest people in the country at the time.

It received several Oscar nominations, but unfortunately didn’t win any of the major ones. It won a few other award shows for acting, etc. And it’s based on reality… where all 3 women are real people, some still alive today.

I usually prefer to read the book before I watch the movie, but I’ve got a backlog of books on my TBR (To Be Read) shelf with some deadlines, and my other half wanted to see the movie. We don’t often go to the movies and it was released last week onto our cable providers “movies on demand.” It became last Saturday evening’s movie of choice.

It is often compared to “The Help,” particularly because of it being the same rough time period, having Octavia Spencer and it being about African-American women fighting for equal rights. But it’s really quite different. You don’t see a lot of victimization in this movie; it’s certainly there, but the overall theme and message is more about how smart they were and what successes they had.

Overview

Katherine, Dorothy and Mary live in Virginia and work at the NASA offices in the computer room, but they don’t work on computers: they are human computers who have vast mathematical skills beyond any reasonable norm. Katherine has a particular genius for being able to calculate extensive formulas using advanced geometry and other sorts of equations. Dorothy, hoping to get the supervisor role she’s acting in but without the title and pay, is very easily able to understand computer languages and engineering, and when the first IBM comes to town, she is the one who makes it work properly. Mary’s specific skills are never volunteered, but she wanted to be an engineer and needed to get advanced degrees at a local university when it was an all-white school. Each of the women struggle in their personal lives (widow, less than supportive family and single mother) as well as at work, but they band together to help fight for the right to be part of the team to help launch John Glenn into space, especially after the Russians beat the US. The movie follows about a 6-month arc of their lives when they are first told “no” all the way to when they get their “yes.”

Notable Stars

  • MY FAVORITE
    • It was a toss up… I love Octavia Spencer, but I think Taraji P. Henson beat her out in this one.
    • Taraji is probably best known currently for her role of Cookie on “Empire.”
    • Taraji plays Katherine, a single mother of three, who lives with her own mother, so someone is raising the girls. She is the smartest in the group and eventually gets a chance to prove it when she gets put on the team to launch John Glenn.
    • Taraji’s performance was very simple and understated for 90% of the film; she was very consistent and conveyed through body language every hurt and frustration over the lack of equal and civil rights, in particular around her scenes when needing to find a “colored bathroom.” When she’s finally pushed to the edge, she unleashes in a verbal storm for about two minutes and really showcases how awful it was for women and for African-Americans during this time period.

  • OTHERS
    • Octavia Spencer plays Dorothy, and has her normal comedic timing down to perfection. Her role is probably a bit more supporting, but she is very strong.
    • Janelle Monae plays Mary, who fights for her right, and all future African Americans and women, to attend an all-white university. She is best known as the singer of “We are young,” a song I think is absolutely beautiful.
    • Kirsten Dunst plays Vivian, a supervisor who stands the line on what the company will allow its “colored” employees to do or not do. She plays her typical character, but did it well.
    • Kevin Costner plays Al, head of the division working on the space launch. He’s very strong in this role. Um… I think everyone knows who Costner is, but he plays a similar role as he always does!
    • Jim Parsons plays Paul, Al’s right hand who struggles with partnering on or stealing Katherine’s work. He’s very different than his role on The Big Bang Theory.
    • Glen Powell plays John Glenn. Glen’s best known for his role on Scream Queens. But he is very different this time – not silly humor as in the past. I liked him a lot.
    • Lots of other strong supporting cast members… in all, a good group.

The Good or The Bad

  • It’s a great film. The story is strong. The acting is good. The setting and scenery is fantastic, especially given they were recreating something almost 60 years old.
  • It got a 4 instead of a 5 only because there weren’t any major stand-out components, where I thought “OMG, new star is born, this is amazing, everyone must see it…” It was a solid movie, depicting a very sad part of American history with great aplomb. A few more dramatic scenes may have pushed it up to a 5 for me. But still very much worth watching.
  • Never any slow scenes where it felt over-played.
  • Although the mathematical formulas were critical, they were downplayed. You could see the characters calculating, but you didn’t worry about it being too advanced. It was minimal screen time. The film was more about what was going on in people’s heads over everything.

What’s Next?

  • I don’t know if I’ll go back to read the book. As much as I loved the film, I get the gist. I’d rather read something else by this author.
  • I would be interested in seeing something else with Taraji P. Nelson in it. It was a very good performance and very different from her other roles from what I understand.
  • I might consider a biography about these women… if it exists. I need to look that up!
  • I don’t know a lot about the “underground railroad.” It might be time to get more educated on this even earlier historical fight for freedom.

About Me

I’m Jay. I am 40 and live in NYC. By profession, I work in technology. By passion, I work in writing. Each week, I will post a summary of a trip I’ve taken somewhere in the world. I’ll cover the transportation, hotel, restaurants, activities, who, what, when, where and why… and let you decide for yourself if it’s a trip worth taking.

Once you hit my site “ThisIsMyTruthNow” at https://thisismytruthnow.com, you can join the fun and see my blog and various site content. You’ll find book reviews, published and in-progress fiction, TV/Film reviews, favorite vacation spots and my own version of the “365 Daily Challenge.” Since March 13, 2017, I’ve posted a characteristic either I currently embody or one I’d like to embody in the future. 365 days of reflection to discover who I am and what I want out of life… see how you compare!

Feel free to like, rate, comment or take the poll for each post. Tell me what you think. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.

 

TV Show Review: Mom

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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.