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The Perfect Guy (2015)
The Perfect Guy threatened to be mostly predictable...until the fate of one character led to an exciting conclusion!
When I first saw TV commercials which revealed that the nice guy this woman was dating was a psycho, I wanted to avoid this like the plague. My mom, though, had an interest in seeing this so I ordered this from Netflix. So in watching this, I cringed at all the nice things this guy was doing knowing he would do something to make him opposite of that and, sure enough, 30 minutes in, he did. When the guy before him came back to this woman's life, I was relieved and hoped maybe he'd protect her. Well, that was blown to pieces when he ended up dead! Bottom line, part of me wasn't too enamored of the story but I kept watching to see what would happen, anyway. I guess the fact the woman took things into her own hands, with the advice of the cop who knows that guy had changed his name some 10 years before and been in and out of foster homes growing up, made it a bit exciting. So on that note, The Perfect Guy wasn't a complete waste of time...
Kung Fu Panda 3 (2016)
Kung Fu Panda 3 is another enjoyable outing from DreamWorks Animation
I hadn't seen the previous Kung Fu Panda movies for a while so watching this helped me get a little reacquainted with the story and characters. In this one Po's actual dad comes back. Things seem to go well for them but, as one would expect, there's some trouble ahead...There were both touching and funny moments throughout and it was quite fun seeing it all put together. Po's identity goes into play here and when we learn some of his family story, it's quite something to be inspired by. Kudos to DreamWorks Animation for the work they did and do in many of their films. And, as always, I like to recognize many of the famous voices that got involved. So on that note, I recommend Kung Fu Panda 3.
Grease: Live (2016)
Grease Live was as awesome a show on TV as one could get!
As someone who watched the 1978 movie version several times in his lifetime, here's what I thought of the recent live version on Fox-The Good: Expanding roles for Eugene and Patty (though I'm miffed at why Patty-the cheerleader-is wearing glasses. Popular girls didn't wear them, at least not that frequently!). And also making them a couple at the end. Eugene helping the T-Birds in the Thunder Road sequence. The cheerleading tryouts between Patty and Sandy. Julianne Hough playing the latter. Seeing Barry Pearl-movie Doody-playing the producer of "National Bandstand". Seeing Didi Conn-movie Frenchy-playing Vi the waitress especially when she councils current Frenchy-Carly Rae Jepsen-on her career choices. Also liked Carly's song added for the show. Also loved when Didi said, "I miss high school!" during the dance sequence. And, lastly, Rizzo's bonding with Sandy after Thunder Road. Most of the show overall. The Bad: What's with the audio going off during some of the "Born to Hand Jive" number? And didn't believe Sandy's reason for not continuing with the dance-being camera shy-until she mentioned later of not wanting known of her parents' being lied to. The not-so-bad: Mario Lopez accidentally ID'ing his show as "American Bandstand" instead of "National Bandstand" in one scene! This was a mostly awesome show and I wouldn't mind getting the DVD when it comes out. So on that note, Grease is still the word!
Carol was a fine exploration of what was considered socially acceptable at the time
Just saw this with my movie theatre-working friend. He thought the ending was weird but we were both quiet during the entire movie with him breathing during some of the emotional scenes. I'm thinking he might be having this one on his mind for a while. It's certainly worth doing so and it's such a compelling drama of the social and sexual mores of the time it's set in. Both Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara do fine in their roles and I really liked the way their characters interacted with each other. I also liked the performances of Kyle Chandler and Sarah Paulson in the roles they did, having been fans of their work for TV and other films. So on that note, I highly recommend Carol as the exploration of what it was like then compared to now.
Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence (1983)
Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence was a compelling drama with a fine performance by David Bowie
When David Bowie died earlier this month, I decided to immediately order this from Netflix. My mom ended up watching this with me though she missed some sequences as we were eating dinner during it. She found it depressing. Well, it is as it depicts a prisoner-of-war camp in Indonesia during World War II. Bowie plays a British soldier who gets sent there and he seems to have an effect on the commandant there. By the way, he's not the Mr. Lawrence of the title, that's Tom Conti as the British colonel who knows the language of the Japanese officers there. I'll admit right off the bat that some sequences confused me like the ones of a flashback of Bowie's life before the war concerning his little brother. Had I not read some of the synopsis on Wikipedia, I would have been completely in the dark about that one. Still, this was a mostly compelling drama of the brutality of that time and place. So on that note, I say give Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence a look.
Pretty Maids All in a Row (1971)
Pretty Maids All in a Row is worth a look for any curiosity seekers out there...
After years of only knowing about this movie, I finally saw it on the Dailymotion site. Since it's directed by Roger Vadim, I wasn't too surprised it showed many teen girls in sexually provocative poses. It's slightly a bit more surprising Gene Roddenberry-the creator of "Star Trek"-was the writer and producer, though the fact his series had plenty of pretty women might have been a sign. Rock Hudson is the school guidance counselor and coach who manages to get many of the female students in his office for recreation. Angie Dickinson is a substitute teacher who gets one unlucky boy-played by John David Carson-in a lucky mode, if you know what I mean. Their scenes are perhaps the funniest in the movie while much of the rest of it is only slightly amusing like principal Roddy McDowell describing one of the dead girls as a "terrific little cheerleader"! Keenan Wynn plays the not-very-bright sheriff and Telly Savalas is the detective who seems to get closer to nabbing the killer. Also of interest is one former "Star Trek" player-James Doohan-is also in this but not in his Scottish accent! I watched with bemusement throughout so on that note, I say Pretty Maids All in a Row is worth a look.
The 38th Annual Kennedy Center Honors was another excellent awards special
Just watched this, the Kennedy Center Honors from last December, with my mom on a recording machine. The honorees were: Rita Moreno, George Lucas, Cicely Tyson, Seiji Ozawa, and Carole King. Moreno's co-star from "Jane the Virgin"-Gina Rodriguez-introed her profile film. Of course, they showed her "America" scene from West Side Story. That was later reenacted on stage. Also, Rosie Perez reenacted Ms. Moreno's "Fever" number from "The Muppet Show" with Animal once again showboating on the drums to hilarious effect. C-3PO and R2D2 helped Carrie Fisher intro Lucas' bio film which was narrated by Darth Vader himself-James Earl Jones. Steven Spielberg and Martin Scorsese also offered tributes. Host Stephen Colbert reappeared at this point to mention that the Eagles decided to not accept the honor at that time in order for group member Glenn Frey to recover (He died a couple of days ago) but Miranda Lambert did go on to sing their "Desperado". Tyler Perry did an anecdote about working with Ms. Tyson on Alex Cross before her film of her life and work was shown before Viola Davis then offered her tribute to her "How to Get Away with Murder" co-star. Then Kerry Washington introed someone who was doing a tribute to Ms. Tyson's former and late hubby, Miles Davis, which led to a gospel-tinged finale. John Williams narrated the film on Ozawa as we see the Boston Pops conductor play with the Boston Symphony conductor. Yo-Yo Ma also performed in tribute. Finally, John Kerry introed the Carole King film which was mixed with the reenactment of the King musical "Beautiful" with the lady playing her narrating. Janelle Monae performed "Will You Love Me Tomorrow" and "One Fine Day", James Taylor performed "Up on the Roof" on the roof of a building set, and Aretha Franklin did "You Made Me Feel Like a Natural Woman" to excited reaction from Ms. King. The finale began with a '70s clip of Carole doing "I Feel the Earth Move" which segued to Aretha, Janelle, and James then singing the lines in front of the other guests honoring the other honorees. In summary, this was another highly enjoyable special of the Kennedy Center Honors.
Get Low (2009)
Get Low is quite an entertaining low-key drama
After years of only partially knowing about this film, I finally decided to order it from Netflix just recently. My mom ended up watching it with me. She thought it was a little depressing. Well, it sorta is, but it also was a little amusing in spots. I mean, Robert Duvall is fine as the leading character who normally just lives by himself and tries to not bother anyone but there are tales about him that he doesn't confirm or deny. Bill Murray is a funeral director who takes Duvall's request for a funeral party so he can be talked about while he's alive. Sissy Spacek is a woman Duvall once knew. There's also nice parts for Lucas Black and Bill Cobbs. In summary, Get Low is quite a worthy drama for those patient enough for a low-key, mostly non-confrontational film.
The Hateful Eight (2015)
The Hateful Eight was another entertaining Quentin Tarantino movie
I've yet to see Reservoir Dogs but I've seen just most every other Quentin Tarantino movie after that so I wasn't surprised by the kind of dialogue he wrote, nor the way he arranges some scenes out of sequence. I was surprised to hear mostly original music by Ennio Morricone (which just won him a Golden Globe which Tarantino accepted). Some familiar players-Kurt Russell, Michael Madsen, Tim Roth, and, of course, Samuel L. Jackson-abound. One not normally in a Tarantino flick-Jennifer Jason Leigh-really tears into her part here. The only other movie she was in I watched all the way through was Fast Times at Ridgemont High when I was a teen so this latest of hers really impressed me and I now wished she had won the Globe as well! The expected violence was pretty entertainingly weird which was how my movie theatre-working friend described it when it was nearly over, at least that's what I was thinking when he said weird during that and then told a fellow employee he enjoyed it when asked! Anyway, that's a high recommendation for The Hateful Eight. Note: This review is of the general release version which is not in 70mm and has no intermission, therefore some cuts. Oh, and there's a mention of my current hometown of Baton Rouge in this but not in a good way...
"Judy Garland: By Myself" is perhaps one of the best of the "American Masters" eps I've seen yet!
Just watched this on disc 2 of the Easter Parade DVD set. Judy Garland was always that something special-a singer who began in vaudeville as a young girl, grew up before our eyes on the M-G-M movies, then continued to triumph at concert tours. All while also suffering many off-screen troubles with her employers, husbands, and her own self-esteem which often went up and down and was related to her drug problems she went through most of her life. The failure of her TV show may have been the last straw for her but Ms. Garland was always a trouper as evidenced by all those clips of her performances. All I'll say now is this is perhaps the best documentary I've seen yet of Ms. Judy Garland. Highly recommended!