Archives January 2012

THE ARTIST Movie Review

     THE ARTIST   –  Rating:   9 ½ 

      Shhhh. No talking.

     If you like creativity, see this movie.

     If you like directors who think outside the box, see this movie.

     If you believe that dialogue is always needed in a picture, see this movie.

     “The Artist” personifies “Art” in movie making.

     I attended this picture thinking it would be novel and interesting, based on the reviews. But it was far more. The more this picture “moves” along, the more engrossed you get.

     While not a line is spoken, you never lack interest in the characters, the story line, the emotion, the drama, the sorrow, the glee, the depression, the magnificence, glamour, love, hate, ambition, fame and insignificance. It’s all there, and more.

     My own father was a victim of emerging talkie movies. A successful vaudeville hoofer with his name above all others on the Palace Theater marquis… including Milton Berle and Rudy Vallee, he could not accept the progress of technology, that talking movies would one day outdraw theater audiences and live shows. It drove him to the insane asylum.

     Thus, the scenario was all too personal in this incredible motion picture, where the characters are crisp, the camera never lies and no one has to guess the story line.

     Believe it or not, no sex, no violence, no drugs, no car chases, no fleeting aliens, no farts and no “F” words. It is definitely not a movie that features the backroom special effects nerds. But it is a masterpiece.

     The two main characters are played by French actors Jean Dujardin and his beautiful counterpart, Berenice Bejo, who is too easy to fall in love with. Neither speak a word, but you are never in the dark about how they feel. They are heartfelt and wonderful in their respective roles as a washed up silent movie star and a budding star of talkie movies.

     “The Artist” deserves the Best Picture Oscar. It’s one-of-a-kind         

     Click here: The Artist Trailer 2011 HD – YouTube

OBAMA BOWS TO SAUDIS AGAIN

 

 

The president has done it again, only this time in the form of quid pro quo.

     If anyone doesn’t get it, here’s what must be going on behind the scenes. This president is smart enough to know what people want to hear. Despite all the lip service which draws cheers from the minions at campaign speeches, this president has no intention on breaking partnerships with oil cartels that hold our nation economically hostage. When opportunities do arise to make a significant move in that direction, nothing happens.

     The Saudis are jumping with joy, as is Hugo Chavez, for they represent almost one-fourth of the foreign oil imports consumed by America.

    By nixing the Keystone Pipeline project, President Barack Obama took three steps backwards in the plight toward energy independence and job creation. Words mean nothing. Actions mean everything.

     Every president since Nixon has sworn to do everything possible to wean the United States from dependency on foreign oil. For every president, including this one, it has been empty campaign rhetoric and no substance.

     When Carter took office in 1977, he created the Department of Energy for this very purpose. Instead of diminishing foreign oil imports, our dependency has increased from 33 percent in Nixon’s era to roughly 50 percent today. While Canada is our largest import source,Saudi Arabia andVenezuela— two countries who would broker a change in our way of life — account for nearly one-fourth of all foreign imports.

     Not only is our economy beholden to the trends and whims of foreign decision-makers, our nation is constantly pitted into a crucial dilemma of national security risks. It is inconceivable that our elected officials do not see this as a simmering crisis. There are solutions, but our leadership team hasn’t got what it takes to do what’s necessary. We cannot, and should not, be beholden to countries that hate us.  

     Now comes an opportunity to see a light at the end of the proverbial tunnel in the proposed 1700-mile Keystone Pipeline from Canada through and into Texas. The project is estimated to produce 20,000 jobs, plus gazillions of barrels of crude oil from which we could break loose from the Saudi yoke and partner more with our friends to the north.Canada’s government has flatly said that if the United States does not deal, they might sell their product to China. What aer we waiting for?  

     He who hesitates…

     Even a Democratic-controlled Senate voted 89-10 in December to go forward with a proposal to consider the pipeline. Most of those senators are convinced it will be environmentally safe. North Dakota’s Kent Conrad, Democrat Chairman of the Senate Budget Committee said, “The pipeline is absolutely in the national interest.” Democratic Senator Jon Tester of Montana said he offered support for the pipeline and the jobs it would create. The White House Jobs council supports the project. Even the labor unions are supporting the pipeline.

     Blaming republicans, the president has rejected the proposal claiming they forced his hand by not allowing more time to study. That’s more lip service. The administration, including the leadership of the state department, said that no decision on the matter will be made until after the November elections. National security, job creation, economic factors and the American people are all trumped by politics as usual. And, they are trumped by suspicious loyalties to foreign entities, exactly what the constitution was designed to prevent.

     Where do the president’s interests lie? Besides the Saudis and Venezuela, they lie to his benefactors, American taxpayers be damned. Following the BP spill, a moratorium was declared to prevent U.S.off-shore drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. Yet, Brazil’s Petrobras Oil Company, owned in part by George Soros, was given the go-ahead to drill in the gulf in early 2011.

     The Anwar Oil Field is a huge natural reserve in the northern remote regions of Alaska, we’ve yet to tap into. Our resources are vast, but nothing happens.

     Solutions exist for weaning off foreign oil. Obama talks the talk, but doesn’t walk the walk.

     Time we stopped bowing to Saudi Arabia and take care of the homeland first.

     20,000 jobs. A giant step toward Oil independence. Answer: No

     Time for a new president … please. 

 

HAYWIRE – Movie Review

“HAYWIRE”  Rating: 2  (out of ten)

I think it’s time to start rating the raters of movies. Whoever wrote glowing reviews of “Haywire” should either be fired or evaluated for  competency.

This movie was probably made to upstart a new action hero in the form of actress, Gina Carano, from which the studios undoubtedly hope to create a Haywire I, II and III. Let’s hope not.

The movie would be better titled, “Whoop-ass Woman,” a testament to the scene upon scene where tough-as-nails Carano is beating the crap out of men, sometimes three at a time, with the usual menu of karate kicks, power punches and crotch kicks. Somewhere in the mix of this inane picture, is a plot…but you need a handy remote to reverse one scene after another to catch the drift of who is who, and what their objectives are.

It’s something about good agents and bad agents, but we don’t have the luxury of knowing why they’re killing each other, unless it’s just for the thrill of computer-game nerds who don’t need anything to think about.

The movie would be a total Zero if it were not for the appearances of Michael Douglas and Antonio Banderas, great actors each, who provide a small semblance of acting skills other than evil stare-downs and stupid lines taken from B-movies in the 1930’s. It’s a pity they sign to play in crapola movies like this, they are better than that and they don’t need the money. The studios undoubtedly reached out to them for star-power in the billing.

If you like mindless movies, see “Haywire.”

 

TEN GREATEST FEMALE COMICS IN HISTORY

I come from a family of Vaudevillians. My father, a comic dancer, was a headliner at the Palace Theater in NYC, as well as a hoofer on the Orpheum circuit. He was billed with and above greats like Rudy Vallee, Milton Berle, Burns and Allen, Ray Bolger, the Dorsey Brothers and many more. Thus, I have a great appreciation for comedy — real comedy by naturally talented entertainers who are truly funny in style, delivery and physicality.

When reminiscing great comedians, we old timers think of names like Berle, Red Skelton and Jerry Lewis, and in today’s world, Billy Crystal, Robin Williams and Jim Carrey. But we often forget about the funny ladies, some of whom were (and are) equally as gifted, or more so, than their comedic male counter parts. So, just for fun, I’ve created my own list of the funniest natural comediennes who have ever performed in movies, television and/or stand-up.

It’s tough to pick numbers one two and three, because they are as great as each other, but here goes. The ten greatest all-time female comics: (List of links below, to see samplings)

1. Carol Burnett

2. Gilda Radner

3. Madeline Kahn

4. Lucille Ball

5. JoAnne Worley

6. Kathy Griffin

7. Gracie Allen

8. Joan Rivers

9. Victoria Wood

10. Goldie Hawn

Yes, I know I left out Ellen Degeneres, Lily Tomlin, Roseann Barr and Phyllis Diller, but there was only room for ten at the top.

Here’s a few links to judge by:

Carol Burnett always used to spend a few minutes on her show engaging with the audience in ad lib mode. She didn’t use teleprompters, scripts and lines to show off her comic talent:

Click here: Carol Burnett – Q & A / “You Made Me Love You” (Maude?) – YouTube

Maybe the greatest natural talent in female comedy ever. Gilda Radner died in her prime. Here’s a sampling of her relationship with Barbara Walters:

Click here: Barbara Walters on Gilda Radner39s Baba Wawa Impre.wmv – YouTube

No woman was ever finnier in comic movies than Madeline Kahn in Blazing Saddles and Young Frankenstein.

Click here: I’m Tired – Madeline Kahn – Comic Relief 1986 – YouTube

Lucille Ball started as an actress and dancing showgirl before morphing into a comic genius. Here’s the famous Chocolate Factory scene from I Love Lucy:

Click here: Lucy and the Chocolate Factory – YouTube

JoAnne Worley. of Laugh-In fame, didn’t stay in the business long enough to leave a great legacy, but her gift for comedy could rival the best of them. This 22-second clip says it all:

Click here: Laugh-In Blooper Airport Skit – YouTube

Kathy Griffin is a modern-day comic giant, no need for scripts and teleprompters, she can ad lib with the best of them, plus she’s the best female stand-up comic today:

Click here: Kathy Griffin on Catholics – YouTube

Gracie Allen goes way back to early Vaudeville, teamed with her husband George Burns. She was the funniest “dumb” comic of all time. Here’s an example of her idiotic vaudeville-style dialogue as Burns and Allen:

Click here: Burns and Allen – Uncle Otis – YouTube

Joan Rivers might have succeeded Johnny Carson on the Late Show had she not blown her trust with him. Nobody doubts her genius comic abilities and her staying power in the business, now making people laugh over fifty years, and still going.

Click here: Joan Rivers Live At The Apollo Part 1 – YouTube

British comedienne, Victoria Wood should be better known in the U.S. in time because she is very funny and gifted. She is also an actress, singer, song-writer, screen-writer and director.

Click here: Victoria Wood – Pam Song LIVE – YouTube

Goldie Hawn made her mark on Laugh-In and then went on to many hilarious motion pictures. With Goldie, you can’t help but laugh, when she laughs. She is better known as an actress, producer, singer and dancer, but her natural wit has brought involuntary laughter to people throughout her career. Watch this 5-minute video from her appearance with Dean Martin, her delivery, her laughs, and dare tell me you did not smile broadly from beginning to end.

Click here: Dean Martin & Goldie Hawn – YouTube

And finally, here’s a clip with four of the great women comics all in one video; JoAnne Worley, Ruth Buzzi, Lily Tomlin and Goldie:

Click here: Rowan & Martin’s Laugh In – Goldie Hawn & Co. – YouTube

 

THE IRON LADY – Movie Review

THE IRON LADY”   –  Rating:  8 ½   

If this movie was rated solely on acting, it would be a solid 10.  Meryl Streep, not surprisingly, sets the bar for the finest of actors that would ever grace the silver screen. Her performance is flawless. She becomes Margaret Thatcher, personified, in her political years, and again, in her weak and feeble retirement, replete with forgetfulness, delusions and frustrations.

     The movie is very good, but it could have been improved upon with better direction. In my humble opinion, too much time is spent in the script showing Thatcher’s old-age confusion rather than highlighting her years as a stone-hearted leader during the cold war era.

     Yes, the picture portrays her staunch response to the Falkland Island invasion byArgentina, standing up to the male establishment, her rise to prominence (in which a younger actress portrays her early years) and her unwavering conservative values as a politician.

     In parts, Thatcher’s speeches ironically sound more like today’s Republican candidates talking about holding down spending, supporting a free market, fighting labor unions and the incessant demand by the public to tax the rich. Yet, during her reign as Prime Minister, she managed to glean the respect from all sides of parliament as the British economy survived the crises.

     But, too much of the movie was dedicated to delusional conversations with her dead husband, which distracted, rather than added to the depth of this woman’s character.

     We learn much more about the Thatcher bio in this film, how she came from humble beginnings, fought her way to prominence of the objections of male MPs, how she was the object of bombings and violent street demonstrations, and grew into a state of memory loss during old age, much like her American counterpart, Ronald Reagan.   

     Streep may not receive the Oscar this year, but she certainly deserves it. It is one of her premier performances and worth the price of a ticket.

     Click here: The Iron Lady Trailer (No. 2) – IMDb