Category Archives: legend

She’s Funny That Way

She's Funny That WayShe’s Funny That Way is a good movie, coming across sometimes funny and sometimes serious, but has a great cast that keeps the show on the road. Directed by Peter Bogdanovich, who directed such winners as Paper Moon and The Last Picture Show, does a fine job on this movie as it tries to find an amicable ending.  Another favorite of mine, Wes Anderson, who directed such witty movies as The Grand Budapest Hotel and Fantastic Mr. Fox, is one of the many producers of this movie.

It starts off with a sit down interview with Izzy, played by Imogen Poots, who is a hooker-turned actress and now successful. She talks about her rise to stardom and her first role on Broadway.  She reflects on the people involved with her breakout role, and the movie cuts to that time on Broadway where they are thrown into a romantic state of uncertainty and confusion.

A salacious, but bleeding heart director, played convincingly by Owen Wilson, hires Izzy, a former hooker he solicited, now turned actress, to star alongside his wife, played humorously by Kathryn Hahn, and his wife’s ex-lover, played by Rhys Ifans. Playing on the outer edge of this confusion and adding a lot of hilarity are Jennifer Aniston, Cybil Sheppard and Will Forte. There are also numerous cameos such as Tatum O’Neal, Quentin Taranitino and Peter Bogdanovich himself.

The movie really gets fun when the director’s wife (Hahn) discovers his fetish for soliciting and then helping call girls. It comes to light when one of the more recent call girls he helped, Izzy, auditions for a role in the play he is directing. She does a fantastic reading because she is reading for a call girl, type casting. A hilarious scene follows where his wife, who wants to get back at her husband, rehearses with the lead actor (Ifans) in a passionate love scene, and she makes real sexually advances toward him. The director tries to stay professional, as her husband he is jealous. I was laughing at his reactions, so funny all the way through, and Wilson is hilarious.

Jennifer Aniston plays someone that I have never seen her play before, an unlikeable character, so I was uncomfortable with it at first. She does a great job of being the typical psychologist, who totally makes the patient feel inadequate and weak. Adding to that, in their face telling them what is wrong with them. Aniston is great and funny.

There are so many good qualities in this movie. The reason I really enjoyed it is because of the director, Peter Bogdanovich brought all these fine actors, some is has worked with before, together. He is such a wonderful director, and I am delighted to see him working again.

Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe

secretlifeMarilynSecret Life of Marilyn Monroe grazes the surface concerning the part of the entertainment industry where malicious people lurk. These life suckers are few in numbers, but the few that are there can wreak havoc because they are sly and go unnoticed. This movie answers the questions of what happened to the demise of Judy Garland, Brian Wilson, Elvis Presley, Robin Williams and so forth. Remember when Marilyn Monroe died she was under the unfaithful care of a psychiatrist, Ralph Greenson. This mini-series is not all that factual about her true demons, but it does show the demise of her life relating to the demise of her mother.

The mini-series frames Marilyn as a tragic figure, pouring her heart and life out to a psychologist, played by Jack Noseworthy. The director, Laurie Collyer, has Noseworthy play the doctor as one who listens as Monroe recalls her life. The story begins with Marilyn being taken away from her mother. Susan Sarandon’s daughter, Eva Amurri Martino, plays the younger version of her mother while Sarandon plays the older version.  We learn that Marilyn was raised by a guardian she named Aunt Grace, played convincingly by Emily Watson. She was also in an orphanage, but married at 16 just to find a place to live.

Within a few years, Norma Jean, now played honestly by Kelli Garner, launched her modeling career and slowly began to pursue her ambition to work in the movies.  Soon, she discovers that being beautiful isn’t the send all to success. She advances once she establishes relationships with powerful men, including Johnny Hyde, played by Tony Nardi, a studio executive and her agent. He points her career in the right direction and changes her name to Marilyn Monroe. She is on her path to stardom.

Marilyn’s success came with new pressures. As professed in the mini-series, the studio pushed pills to keep her functioning. In truth, the studio doctors pushed the pills. The studio just wanted her stable and working.  They didn’t have the solution to help her, so they counted on the resident psychiatrist to help her.

Despite all the pressures, Marilyn begins her sizzling romance with Joe DiMaggio, played by Jeffrey Dean Morgan.  Their relationship ends, and she falls in love with playwright Arthur Miller, played by Stephen Bogaert.

So far the series doesn’t shed light on anything new about Marilyn. Where are the secrets? We’ve all heard and seen this before. Still, the acting and directing keeps the interest high.

We also get a glimpse of John F. Kennedy.  Here we see the famous performance by Marilyn singing “Happy Birthday, Mr. President” to him. Garner not only looks the part, her voice matches Marilyn’s voice and mannerisms. It is an honest performance worth mentioning because of the nature of the material.

Yet, as the director Collyer takes the adapted screenplay and tries to explain away Marilyn’s troubles with mental illness. That is not her job as a director – just tell the story. Sure, being a successful artist in any field is stressful and should be addressed with honesty.  I am sure there is a side to Marilyn that is very positive and endearing. But, this series portrays her, like most interpretations, as pity. “Everyone uses everyone,” according to a line in the movie. I beg to differ because if she truly had help, she would still be alive today.

We need to help artists in any way that is non-destructive with drugs and confinement.  Do no harm but help with safe and sane methods.

Love & Mercy

L&M_bdskewLove & Mercy delves into the part of the entertainment industry where evil people lurk. Such people control and manipulate the artist while feeding off the artist’s life force, creativity, energy force or whatever you want to call it. There are not a lot of these life suckers, but the few that are there can wreak havoc. This movie answers the questions of what happened to Marilyn Monroe, Elvis Presley, Robin Williams and so forth. Luckily, Brian Wilson meets a woman who has the tenacity to help him and save his life.

The movie directed by Bill Pohlad, his second film as a director, takes a refreshing, and almost clandestine, approach to the story about Beach Boys co-founder and song writer, Brian Wilson. Two very talented actors play Wilson in different stages of his life. Paul Dano is the younger Brian. Here we see him with his cousin and a good friend, together; they launch the Beach Boys musical group in the early 1960’s. John Cusack is Brian in the 1980’s while under the control of his ingenious and vicious psychologist, Dr. Eugene Landy, played truthfully by Paul Giamatti.

The story flashes forward and back while twisting the lives of both the young Brian and the old Brian. Watching young Brian create memorable music, we see a whiz kid. He starts with “surfer” music and moves to more complicated music produced as studio sound. During this time we hear some great music by the young Brian Wilson. He is a unique soul, creating hit song after song.

He did have problems to face, such as not wanting to fly in an airplane or being on the road with the Beach Boys. So, he refused going on the road and worked in the studio instead. He also took popular recreational drugs at the time, which probably caused all his problems. Some may label him while others would say he did have demons, but psychiatric treatment is not the answer.

Dano is great as the young Wilson. His performance captures Wilson and his various mood swings and eccentricities. Here the viewer must not mistake this for mental illness. He is a genius while conversing about the mind and spirit. The older Wilson is constantly under the psychotherapy of Landy’s 24-hour surveillance and over-medication and misdiagnosis. He blatantly manipulates Wilson guising help with a colorized screen of undermining half-truths, invalidation and total lies.

The older Wilson decides he wants a new Cadillac and meets saleswoman, and his champion, Melinda Ledbetter, played brilliantly by Elizabeth Banks. They fall for each other and begin dating, supervised by Landy and his associates. History will prove that there were other interests that Landy had in Wilson other than his mental health, which Melinda touches on as she confronts the ill-intended psychologist.

At first, the flashbacks are a little annoying because the younger Wilson and the older Wilson are two very different people. After awhile it all makes sense. Both the young and old versions are hard to watch, yet Melinda proposes a breather of hope. And when she confronts Landy, I cheer her on. She does the right thing and doesn’t smack him in his demented face as he shrinks back from her absolutely determined smile. She saves Wilson and flourishes.

Gomer Pyle Entertains Even Today

gomerpyleGomer Pyle is a classic television series that meets the needs of good programming on television today. As a kid growing up, I savored the show while watching it with my family. The earlier seasons of all the episodes are so entertaining.

The first episode to watch, if I were you, is the series pilot that was spun from The Andy Griffith Show. In this episode we watch as Gomer (Jim Nabors) enlists in the U.S. Marine Corps. Andy is worried about Gomer because he doesn’t think he will fit in with the troop. He even hangs around waiting to give him a ride back home, which never happens and a great show is hatched.

The DVD set is almost perfect in picture quality and sound that is worth the price I paid for it. If you like great, wholesome stories, then you will enjoy watching each episode with people of all ages. I found these shows had great laughs and tons of humor. The huge DVD case contains all five seasons with Gomer Pyle (Nabors), a naive country boy who leaves his hometown of Mayberry to join the U.S. Marine Corps. Gomer is a perpetual wide-eyed innocence young man, who gets on the nerves of his tough, loudmouthed sergeant, Vince Carter (Frank Sutton). The complete series also comes with special features including commentary from Nabors.

All I can say is these kinds of television shows are obsolete. For people like me, who know about these shows, and understand the value they hold, can’t express enough how much they can be enjoyed. Yet, they may be dated and silly or just plan corny. Still, you should take the time and watch them. You will have great clean laughs.

Travolta in The Forger

forgeJohn Travolta is a fine actor. His repertoire includes musicals, drama, comedy, Broadway and even television.  He is a wonderful human being, who has help hundreds of people all over the world with successful and workable solutions.  His latest DVD/Blu-Ray release is The Forger. Travolta surrounds himself with a stellar cast, crew and storyline.

Directed modestly by Philip Martin and filmed in Boston, he sketches a heartfelt movie, unlike the usual tough-guy action smash hit.  Sure. The story has bad guys, who are gritty and creepy, but the three main characters face something even more vital. The real story is about relationships and family.  They come face to face with each other resolving issues that are hard to confront.  It is almost agonizing because they have their own grit and ugliness to conquer.

Travolta’s tour de force performance is like a rare painting that captures you like watching the layers of colors come to life. He plays a father named Raymond Cutter. His son, played honestly by Tye Sheridan, has an unsolvable situation, which carries the story to the end.  The ever so talented Christopher Plummer plays Will’s grandfather.

Like a tight spring, all three gradually come to terms as their relationships come undone and are redefined. They face the issues and decide the next best thing to do is a museum heist because it is an adventure where everybody wins. Sure. There are bad guys and cops, but if they pull it off – what a great prize. Not just because they might get caught. It’s because they want to be a team, a unit, a family.

Watching Plummer play the comic relief cannot go unwatched. His scenes alone are good reasons to see the movie.  Such talent as Plummer opens a bottle of beer, dupes a security guard, tricks a gangster and then dances on an exotic island.

Martin’s action scenes are so simple and unpretentious. What a joy to see a story unfold without a lot of violence and expletive words.  The most violent scene is when Travolta’s character uses a baseball bat and backlashes at three thugs. Martin filmed the entire scene as a master shot from start to finish without insert or harsh cutaways.  It is hilarious. Did I mention there is comedy in this drama?

I don’t want to give away too much of the storyline. The ending is a little empty, but it is truthful. I don’t think I could have thought of a better way to end a story about a family with a problem that is unsolvable.

Matlock Greatest Cases

I have always appreciated Andy Griffith with his wholesome choices in television shows like The Andy Griffitmatlockh Show. I am not an ardent fan of Matlock, his last series, though I found it attention-grabbing and a DVD worth its weight in gold.  Matlock Greatest Cases rests on my library shelf.

CBS promotes Greatest Cases as the best of Matlock. I am inclined to agree. The Marriage Counselor is a jovial episode with some funny tongue and cheek escapades. Viewing all the episodes left me interested in more Matlock cases, and I am sure they will come forth on DVDs.

I digress on the fact that before Andy Griffith headed over to television he riveted audiences with his performance as Larry ‘Lonesome’ Rhodes in A Face in the Crowd, also starring Patricia Neal, Anthony Franciosa, Lee Remick and Walter Matthau.

If you are not familiar with the TV Show, Andy Griffith stars as well-known criminal defense attorney Ben Matlock. He takes on some of the toughest cases with remarkable rivals.

The roster of guest stars alone will encourage you to view the DVD. The cast includes Don Knotts, Dick Van Dyke, Bryan Cranston and Scott Bakula.  I could joke around and say it would be a felony to miss these shows, but I was entertained watching shady siblings, an eccentric millionaire and a killer comic to name a few.

All in all, I’ve listed the episodes for your perusal.  Let me know if you recognize any of them, and enjoy the DVD.

Episodes:

The Judge

The Sisters

The Power Brokers: Part 1

The Power Brokers: Part 2

The Lemon

The Talk Show

The Brothers

The Marriage Counselor

The Big Payoff

The Debt

The Last Laugh

The Dare