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I've never read any of the Eloise books. I can only say that "Eloise at
the Plaza" is unlikely to appeal to anyone over the age of thirteen.
What caught my attention was the brief appearance of Jason Jones, best
known as a correspondent on "The Daily Show".* His wife Samantha Bee
now hosts "Full Frontal" on TBS.
What I concluded from this movie is that there's no way to stop spoiled rich kids from doing out-of-control things. This is known as affluenza: someone with an overly coddled upbringing develops no sense of responsibility. A teenager in Texas was drinking and driving and killed some people in the process, but got a light sentence on an affluenza defense.
So, if you're interesting in seeing some of the cast members, you might be impressed. The cast includes Julie Andrews, Jeffrey Tambor and Christine Baranski (Leonard's mom on "The Big Bang Theory"). Otherwise only the tykes will enjoy it.
*Jason Jones was the one who interviewed Iranian journalist Maziar Bahari. As a joke, he called himself an American spy who wanted to know why Iran was so scary, and Bahari noted that Iran and the US had a lot in common, namely an enemy in al-Qaeda. Iran's government mistakenly thought that Jones was an actual spy and imprisoned Bahari. Jon Stewart's movie "Rosewater" was about this.
People in the 21st century might not be that familiar with the U-2
incident (a US spy plane got shot down over the Soviet Union and the
pilot got arrested). If Steven Spielberg's "Bridge of Spies" is a good
introduction. Indeed, one of the most important scenes is when Jim
Donovan (Tom Hanks) explains that he is defending Rudolf Abel (Mark
Rylance) because the Constitution says that even the people charged
with the most heinous crimes deserve equal protection under the law;
this scene is just as relevant during the so called War on Terrorism,
which is now likely to go supernova under a Trump presidency.
But there was another side to the U-2 incident. Eisenhower was planning a summit with the leaders of the UK, France and the USSR, in the hope of easing Cold War tensions. The U-2 spy plane got shot down right before the summit was to take place, and the summit got canceled. It looks as though the plane got sent over the USSR to deliberately sabotage the summit, as the US hardliners didn't want an easing of Cold War tensions. This makes clear why Ike warned about the military industrial complex.
A previous reviewer complained that the movie didn't emphasize things that were representative of the era, like cars or music. I interpreted the absence of these things to mean that this story is a timeless one, especially the matter of civil liberties in wartime.
I'd say that Rylance deserved his Oscar win.
Steven Antin's "Burlesque" has a routine plot - small town girl moves
to Hollywood, hoping to make it big - and some interesting musical
numbers, but overall the movie is hard to recommend. Probably because
it makes everything look too easy. I personally thought that Stanley
Tucci's character was the most interesting one in the movie, and I also
liked Alan Cumming's character. I found the rest of the characters
clichéd, and the movie generally seemed like something that I've seen
many times on the screen. Your time would be better spent watching
something else. Hell, if you're looking for a Cher movie, there's
always "Silkwood", "The Witches of Eastwick" and "Tea with Mussolini".
PS: Steven Antin played the jock in "The Goonies"
The first talkie to win Best Picture at the Academy Awards has an
oft-used plot - people try to become famous amid complications - but
it's not a bad movie. I'm not a fan of musicals, and many things about
"The Broadway Melody" come across as dated. I guess that one has to try
and imagine watching the movie when it first got released. It got
released before the Hays Code got established, so some of the scenes
look a bit risqué for the era (it even feels silly to write that
sentence in an era when one can simply look for porn on the internet).
The movie's a mildly fun look at 1920s music.* Most notably, the movie
ushered in decades of musicals. Some of the musicals are among the most
Anyway, this movie's okay just as long as you don't interpret it as the most serious type of movie. Accept it as plain old entertainment and you'll probably like it. As for me, my favorite movies from old Hollywood are gangster movies, horror movies, and slapstick comedies (especially the Looney Tunes cartoons).
*Nowadays, probably the most famous 1920s song is "Midnight, the Stars and You", which featured prominently in "The Shining".
Some years after writing for "The X Files", Vince Gilligan created a
show. I only saw scattered episodes of "Breaking Bad" during its run,
but I finally got around to binge-watching the first season. Bryan
Cranston puts on one of the most chilling performances in TV history as
a terminally ill teacher who turns to manufacturing crystallized
methamphetamine to support his family. Basically, the show is about
moral ambiguity and how actions have consequences. Indeed, each episode
adds a new complication.
When I first read about the show during its run, I saw a picture of Bryan Cranston with a beard, glasses, and a shaved head. Having known him as the dad on "Malcolm in the Middle", he looked unrecognizable in that photo. But he's proved himself to be a truly versatile actor in the past few years, with roles in "Contagion", "Argo", "Godzilla", and "All the Way" (as Lyndon Johnson).
In the meantime, this show will offer some of the most unusual chemistry lessons. Outstanding show. It deserved every award that it won.
I wonder if Vince Gilligan has ever gotten comments about "Gilligan's Island".
I understand that "Dolly Parton's Christmas of Many Colors: Circle of
Love" is based on something that happened early in Dolly Parton's life.
It tells the story of how little Dolly and her siblings, growing up
dirt-poor in rural Tennessee, made some extreme sacrifices to get their
mother a gift one Christmas. Parton herself co-stars as a sort of
guardian angel to the young Dolly. I was surprised to see that the
director is Stephen Herek, who has directed movies as different as
"Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure" and "Mr. Holland's Opus".
It's not any sort of masterpiece, but I liked how it affirmed that despite the numerous hardships, this was a close, loving family. Dolly Parton is one person who makes clear that not all rural people are ignorant yahoos. As she once said: "I may be a country bumpkin, but at least I'm a smart country bumpkin."
I had never heard of Tony Kushner's AIDS-themed play before Mike
Nichols's TV adaptation aired. I didn't manage to see it when it aired,
but I finally got around to seeing it. "Angels in America" is a
masterpiece. It's basically a hyperlink story about several individuals
who have connections to the spread of AIDS. I found the most
fascinating part of the story to be the focus on Roy Cohn (Al Pacino).
The erstwhile aide to Joe McCarthy lies dying and is haunted by the
ghost of Ethel Rosenberg (Meryl Streep), whom Cohn helped execute. One
can see a definitive link between the reactionary views of the
McCarthyites and those of the Reaganites, especially in their views of
This is a miniseries that everyone should see. The part about Cohn and Rosenberg, along with the relationship between a Jewish man and his AIDS-afflicted WASP partner, the angel, the closeted Mormon and his Valium-addicted wife (plus his mother), and the friend who links the different groups together amount to one of the most powerful stories ever put on stage and screen. It deserved every award that it won.
PS: As it turns out, Cohn also worked with a young Donald Trump. Trump's upcoming presidency means that we're likely to see more of the sorts of things that "Angels in America" depicts.
Ivan Reitman's "Kindergarten Cop" delivers what it promises. I had
actually seen the end of it on TV when I was little (starting where the
kids learn never to talk to strangers). Now that I've seen the whole
thing, I can affirm that it's an excuse for Arnold Schwarzenegger to be
a tough guy and for the kindergartners to be silly. If you don't expect
anything profound then you won't be disappointed.
The reason why I watched it was because I read that Carroll Baker co-starred in it. I wanted to see what it was like for the woman known as Baby Doll (from Elia Kazan's film adaptation of Tennessee Williams's play) to co-star with the man known as the Terminator. She played the last kind of role that I would've expected someone like her to play. The other main cast member is Penelope Ann Miller, who's appeared in assorted movies over the years (Other People's Money, Chaplin, Carlito's Way, The Artist).
Basically, the movie doesn't pretend to be anything that it isn't.
Despite the obvious mistakes, "The World, the Flesh and the Devil" is
still a movie that you should see. Unlike most of the post-apocalyptic
movies, this one features no supernatural threats. The only threats are
the three survivors. Coal mine inspector Ralph Burton (Harry
Belafonte), lone woman Sarah Crandall (Inger Stevens) and sailor Ben
Thacker (Mel Ferrer) converge and try to coexist, but tension is bound
to arise. Not surprisingly, Burton's skin color becomes an issue.
Many movies have dealt with the potential of a nuclear holocaust. Donald Trump's ascension to power makes it even more likely. In fact, the day before the election, Harry Belafonte wrote an article in The New York Times titled "What Do We Have to Lose? Everything". Now that looks likely. It's good to know that Belafonte will be one of the people fighting for justice every step of the way.
As for the other cast members, I know that Mel Ferrer was married to Audrey Hepburn at the time. Inger Stevens was one of the numerous blonde bombshells on the screen (unfortunately, she died of a drug overdose at 35). Meanwhile, producer George Englund was married to Cloris Leachman at the time and later directed the Marlon Brando movie "The Ugly American".
Anyway, I recommend the movie.
J. K. Rowling added a new dimension to the Harry Potter universe with a
story about the author of one of Harry's textbooks. "Fantastic Beasts
and Where to Find Them" depicts eccentric wizard Newt Scamander (Eddie
Redmayne) in New York City in 1926. A mishap gives Newt a few unplanned
adventures amid the supernatural occurrences plaguing the city. And
there are a few references that should catch people's attention.
Overall, from what I could tell, the movie makes a point about
discrimination and witch-hunting (and the laws against wizards marrying
non-wizards is probably an allusion to the infamous anti-miscegenation
But most importantly, it's a fun movie. As in the original series, each of the characters has something to contribute. David Yates, who directed a couple of the Harry Potter movies, does a good job here.
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