Cat On A Hot Tin Roof-Elizabeth Taylor`s Life Stormy in 1958!

March 29, 2011 by  
Filed under Celebrity, Movies/TV, Top Story

A cool piano strain slips around a ravishing Maggie lounging in a white slip, as she battles with Brick over Big Daddy`s mega-bucks. I had an uncontrollable urge to see any old Liz Taylor Classic, and I found one on Netflix Instant Watch, Cat On A Hot Tin Roof. Production commenced in the spring of 1958, during which Liz got sick with a stomach virus, then to top that off, experienced the trauma of her husband, Mike Todd dying in a plane wreck.

When Liz returned to the shoot in April of 1958, she had lost weight because of her ordeal. I`m looking for a thinner Liz and I believe I notice her change, in the scene with the usual boozing Brick, where she has on that gorgeous white gown. I`m about 40 minutes into the film. This is just the kind of thing I`m looking for, surfing for details of Liz`s personal life against what she was doing on the Silver Screen. The personal vs. public conundrum, fodder for tabloids!

I`ve heard Tennessee Williams hated the film; don`t know just why, but maybe since Brick`s role is watered down, in terms of his sexuality. Maggie is the sexually-animated one (She`s the Cat). This reversal of roles is the key to what drives the audience`s curiosity. The theme, in my eyes, is the deteriorating status of the Old South. A dying Big Daddy is a symbol for Dixieland Going South! While flawed, I love this film and could study Liz and Paul (and Burl Ives) all day long. Even better, I need to pick up a Tennessee Williams reader.

*(A nice side issue is alcoholism, that Brick is severely afflicted with.)

The Most Glamorous Movie Star Ever, Elizabeth Taylor, Has Left Us!

March 24, 2011 by  
Filed under Celebrity, Movies/TV, Top Story

I watched Cleopatra recently, and experienced it for all of its majesty; it`s better than ever really. I just did an internet search on Elizabeth Taylor, and found more than 7,000 articles you may access online. I don`t have enough time to read all 7,000 pieces, but I did find a few that are noteworthy. First of all, I`ll link you to the Daily Mirror Coverage. Of the thousands of pics I`ve ogled over, it has my favorite, Liz near the beach in a bathing suit (From the movie Suddenly Last Summer).

My favorite film of hers is Who`s Afraid of Virginia Wolf? Liz plays a great hag of a drunk! But I love just about anything from the 1960s, and what about the zany Crack`d Mirror from 1980? I actually went to the Big Screen for that one. Cat On A Hot Tin Roof is another great one. Oddly enough, the first thing that came to mind when I heard she died, was the robust tabloid coverage that I experienced (all my life). I will say it lasted all the way through the `60s, `70s, and `80s.

It would be interesting just to look at all that trash again, in terms of reflecting on how the media has functioned, or reacted to a real movie star, over the past 40 or 50 years. I`ll give you a few more links (before I bore you to death). The Wikipedia entry (it will take you about two weeks to read it, though) is good for a biographical summary. You might prefer to break down her life and career in segments, and systematically watch all her films, over the weeks that come. The New York Daily News has 36 glamorous Liz pics here. My pic is of daisies at Whole Foods, but I lay it as a wreath at the foot of the future grave of the last true movie star!

No Thrills or Surprises for the 83rd Annual Academy Awards!

February 28, 2011 by  
Filed under Celebrity, Movies/TV, Top Story

The buzz on the internet this morning with regards to last night`s 83rd Academy Awards is that the youthful hosts, Anne Hathaway and James Franco, weren`t able to fill the shoes of old timers like Billy Crystal or the late, great Bob Hope. They showed a clip of Bob and he was much better with the one liners. The problem here is that the writers didn`t give these two greenhorns any good lines to work with. Lots of cool costume changes for Anne though!

The Oscars themselves were exactly on script in terms who won, so there wasn`t much magic or spontaneity involved. When Randy Newman won for best song, he didn`t seem to much care, since he`s won so many times before (20 previous nominations). His song We Belong Together was practically a re-write of things he`s done before. If I Rise by Dido and A.R. Rahman was the most original and inspirational song for me.

The only time the icy mediocrity was broken was when Melissa Leo accepted the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for the film The Fighter. She was actually nervous and charged-up and accidentally let the F word slip out. Don`t worry, the censor button was on. Luke Metheny was good too, with a very wild Afro-hairdo. But poor James Franco phoned it in. This type of gig is not his forte. “Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to the Academy Awards, or as it is known in my house, Passover.” Bob Hope had the best sound bite for 83rd!

Unknown (Take Back Your Life) a Surprising Smash Hit!

February 24, 2011 by  
Filed under Movies/TV, Top Story

On Saturday I attended a matinee showing of Unknown-(Take Back Your Life), starring Liam Neeson, and was surprised on several levels. One level was that I usually have the theater to myself, but this time the showing was completely sold out (The young man in the seat next to me fidgetted somewhat, but was mostly well behaved). I saw it at a Cinemark Multi-Cinema, that is located in a new shopping center, Southpark Meadows in South Austin. I wondered what all the brouhaha was about?

Lots of older people there, such as myself. I realized it was Liam Neeson, who still is a magnet with BIG TIME box office draw. The other level of surprise (that I was mentioning above) was how good the movie was. With each frame the plot twists and turns, keeps you on the edge of your seat, and is a nail biter of the highest order. I would compare it to an Ian Fleming Cold War thriller along the lines of Goldfinger or Doctor No.

My favorite character was Ernst Jurgen (Bruno Ganz) who plays a private investigator who tries to help Dr. Martin Harris (Liam Neeson) reclaim his identity. Ernst was a former Stasi agent for East Germany. We don`t see too many of these types of thrillers coming out of Hollywood these days. This is the reason, I believe, why this film is resonating with so many people. Domestic sales through February 22nd were $27,420,283 and foreign sales were $5,500,000. Still sorting out the plot – who knows, maybe I`ll go again next weekend!

Tura Satana Dead at 72-An Exotic Life and Career in Cult-Films!

February 13, 2011 by  
Filed under Movies/TV, Top Story

`60s cult film star Tura Satana has died at 72 in her home in Reno, Nevada. Tura had a very interesting life and leaves behind some cult films that will never be jettisoned to the side of the road (Route 66). The story of her gang rape at the age of nine may be the source for Quentin Tarantino`s film Kill Bill. Tura learned the martial arts of aikido and karate and exacted revenge on each and everyone of her attackers. Because of this, and since her judge was bribed by these Bad Boys, she had to go to reform school and turned herself into a tough girl.

Tura made her way into show business by way of modeling for cheesecake photography sessions. Then, because of a problem with wearing makeup, she became a stripper in Chicago, and made her way as an exotic dancer, hitting the Go Go Girl Circuit with the likes of `60s Superstar Vixens, such as Rose Le Rose, The Skyscraper Girl, or Candy Barr. Tura made some guest appearances on television shows, such as Burke`s Law, Hawaiian Eye, and The Man From U.N.C.L.E.

Satana`s role as Varla in Russ Meyers` 1965 cult film Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! Is what put her on the map. You can`t get it right now on Netflix, (new prints are frantically being made) so I settled for an Instant Watch of The Astro-Zombies (1968) yesterday, and was not disappointed. I believe I saw this one (memories of Drive-In sessions are a little blurry) before at the Drive-In back in the `70s, which is the right venue for it, but unfortunately this ancient venue is dead now. Tura`s life and career is as interesting as any could be, and worth a second, third, or even a fourth gander! Did you know she once dated Elvis Presley and he even asked her to marry him? I didn`t either. She kept a King Ring as a relic. *Read more about her fascinating life and career on her official web site.

Great Film Composer John Barry Dies at 77-Did He Write The James Bond Theme?

February 7, 2011 by  
Filed under Movies/TV, Music, Top Story

I was sorry to hear of the passing of John Barry, the great film composer. Barry is best known for the James Bond scores, but there`s so much more. The best tribute piece I could find on the internet, was John Barry: An Appreciation by Jon Burlingame, written for The Film Music Society web page. The New York Times obituary was good also (John Barry Dies at 77; Composed for Bond Films). This morning more of my curiosity is focused on his early days with the swinging sounds of the John Barry Seven. This is also where a giant black hole exists in my education (of John Barry).

I want to see the film Beat Girl and hear the score by John Barry. I wonder if there are any John Barry Seven collections (or compilations) around? I will have to do some digging. I was running some errands on Saturday morning, when I heard the news of John Barry`s death. Was listening to the radio, The Lounge Show (Koop 91.7 here in Austin) and I noticed lots of James Bond tunes were being played. John co-wrote Diamonds Are Forever, my personal favorite of the Bond theme songs.

So much to explore that I know little about. One thing is true (I think?), apparently he did write the James Bond Theme *(covered by every garage band that ever formed in our great country) for Dr. No, but was ghost written for Monty Norman. My personal favorite is the score for Midnight Cowboy, with the twangy harmonica capturing the down and out life of Ratso Russo ever so perfectly. This will take me years (years I may not have) to sort through all of this marvelous music. Better get started!

Farrah Fawcett`s Swimsuit Poster-A PinUp of Immortality Preserved at Smithsonian!

February 3, 2011 by  
Filed under Celebrity, Movies/TV, Top Story

I never owned the Farrah Fawcett swimsuit pinup poster, but feel as if I did, in a different life! I may just get one for myself, finally, as a way of paying tribute to the past in terms of popular culture. Ryan O`Neil has donated the red swimsuit to the Smithsonian Institution`s popular culture history collections. I conjecture here, but I bet her exhibit will get a record volume of visits at the museum! (Source-The Envelope)

Other items from Farrah`s estate donated include: an original copy of the iconic poster, a leather bound book of Fawcett`s personal copies of the scripts for her featured first season of Charlie`s Angels, magazines with her on the cover, a Farrah doll and some other stuff. *(Note: Today is my birthday, so I`m waxing `70s nostalgic the whole day through!)

The poster sold 12 million copies in 1976; I remember seeing it everywhere I went (in my yellow 1966 Mustang); at shopping malls, in Dude`s gym lockers, on the walls of local Cat`s flats. UBIQUITOUS! I`m a very big fan of Farrah Fawcett (Majors) and was most sad when she died a couple of years ago. Charlie`s Angels slipped downhill after she left. My favorite role of hers is as a bad girl, Diane Downs in the 1980s miniseries Small Sacrifices. Check out those hotpants in the final scene!

Okay, so the screen is a little crowded with Farrah pics! What do you want, more of my words, or more pretty Fawcett pics? That`s what I thought. Let`s stay in FF moment the entire day through, why not? Pin that poster up, boy!

“You Always Hurt the One You Love”-A ‘Blue Valentine’ Moment

January 18, 2011 by  
Filed under Movies/TV, Top Story

On Sunday I saw Blue Valentine, and was really getting into it. Didn`t read any reviews beforehand, and that was a smart move. It`s been very cold and rainy, really miserable here in Austin, so I was getting chronic cabin fever. Blue Valentine helped fill the void, once I got the projectionist to adjust the sound, which was so loud, it was distorting on the previews. *(This is too bad, since I love to view the previews for a good catch, film wise, down the road).

Yesterday I got down to the gritty business of reading some reviews, to see whether I was on the same page as the Big Boys. Some of them were ripping this film apart to shreds, but I don`t know why actually? Rotten Tomatoes gives it an 88 for critics and an 83 for the audience. I would fall somewhere in this rage, I should think. Let me back up a little, and say many of these critics were writing a positive review, but it was somewhat hard to tell, since they qualified it so much.

My favorite attribute of Blue Valentine is the flashbacks, which come frequently and unexpectedly, filling in tiny details about how and why this misbegotten couple got where they did (a sour place) in their relationship. The Future Room scene defines what that is. My defense of the organic nature of the flashbacks is: does your reverie come about for particularly logical reasons? My doesn`t. Michelle Williams and Ryan Gosling nailed these roles of an ill-fitting couple who had a few bright moments.

The center of the film is the romantic scene where Dean plays his ukulele to the tune You Always Hurt the One You Love, while Cindy soft-shoes a rare moment of bliss. The remainder of scenes are built around this one, the Blue Valentine moment! For a moment there, I fancied Dean breaking into Tiptoe Through the Tulips….

The Magic Christian-A Reminder To Forget, But Lots Of Fun! Huh?

January 7, 2011 by  
Filed under Movies/TV, Top Story

Today is Friday. I need to keep it light and happy or I fear my stress level will overwhelm me. The light British comedy The Magic Christian is just the medicine for what ails (corrected Ringo malpropism, ills) me. (What that is exactly eludes me?) A few weeks ago I was studying up on Apple Records, and this film made in 1969, starring Peter Sellers and Ringo Starr, kept popping up in the linernotes I was reading. I saw it when it originally came out but could only remember the theme song, Come And Get It, along with the final scene where Greedies go for the money in a fountain filled with urine and feces. Who could forget that?

What can you say about this film? Not much. The plot is nothing, just Peter and Ringo knocking around London playing pranks on the pillars of society. Peter just cut up a Rembrandt with John Cleese looking on as a Sotheby`s auctioneer aghast. I`ll just be half-way through the MC when I post this, so will have to get back with you for a sounder assessment. Not too impressed so far, but at least you don`t have to think! Succinctly, it`s a sneak peak at what Monty Python would become.

Shake Hands with the Devil: The Journey of Romeo Dallaire

January 3, 2011 by  
Filed under Movies/TV

Hotel Rwanda is one of my favorite films of all time. However, after viewing the film several times, I realized I didn`t really have command of the history of Rwanda, and specifically, what happened there in 1994, the time setting for the film. With regards to Rwanda`s history, Wikipedia is good, so I advise you to take a look at this page (Rwadan Civil War)  in an attempt to get a grip on this complex and troubling situation.

Another good resource is a video Shake Hands with the Devil: The Journey of Romeo Dallaire. Canadian Lt. General Romeo Dallaire oversaw a U.N. peacekeeping mission in Rwanda just as a bloody civil war was breaking out. April of 1994 is when the Rwandan genocide begins, and nearly one million people were slaughtered, mostly Tutsis. I`m still sorting out how all this came about, but the video helps a lot, and you may want to pick up Dallaire`s book Shake Hands with the Devil.

Once again, you may want to take a look at the Wikipedia page with the topic title Rwandan Genocide. I printed out a paper copy so that I could go through this subject matter carefully. The question remains, how could these Hutu militias get ordinary citizens to go out and kill their Tutsi neighbors? And why did the Western powers sit back and do nothing as the slaughter continued day after day? The killing happened over 100 days-into the early summer of 1994. Please join me in studying this period, it`s a little lonely without others around to face up to these atrocities. *(Another good source to look at: the Human Rights Watch paper).

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