Monday Movie Rundown – X-Men – Days of Future Past – the Rogue Edition

Monday Movie Rundown Banner I didn’t join the X-Men fandom until later in the game. I didn’t rush to see the first three movies. In fact, I saw them completely out of order. But this post isn’t about which of those movies was better or what order to watch them in. This one is about X-Men – Days of Future Past, primarily the Rogue Edition. 

I loved X-Men First Class. I thought the writing was snappy and it had a very James Bond flair to it. That was the point, but unlike some, I got it right away. I saw it because I have a thing for James McAvoy. Hey, at least I’m honest. I loved it and devoured the rest of his films.

So when I found out about Future Past, I had to see it. I did. In the theatre, all by myself. It was a great time. But there were moments in the movie that didn’t quite make sense. I kept thinking, why did that cut happen? They were going some where…why didn’t they finish?

It took me a while to hunt down the Rogue Edition of the movie. When I did, all of those pieces I thought made no sense did. The extended pieces with Quicksilver and the better explanation between Kitty and Bobby were great. I recommend viewing both versions of the film, but this one IMHO was better.

Wednesday Book Review ~ The Films of Tyrone Power by Dennis Belafonte, Alvin H. Marill, Henry King (Introduction)

POWER

Tyrone Power – dashing, ingratiating, urbane – became 20th Century-Fox’s foremost leading man

 

almost from the first days that Darryl F. Zanuck became head of the company. The Tyron

 

e Power image was that of the clean-cut, honest and aspiring young American. In the light comedies in which he starred during the early years of his career he generally “got the girl.” As Power matured, however, he became an actor of force and strength. His performances in Nightmare Alley, Witness for the Prosecution and Abandon Ship met with enthusiastic approval from critics and audiences alike. In the summer of 1958 Tyrone Power was appearing in what proved to be his final role, the character of King Solomon, playing opposite Gina Lollobrigida in Solomon and Sheba. Power collapsed after swordplay with George Sanders. He was rushed to a Madrid hospital, but

 

died within an hour. His death, at forty-four, made headline news around the world. The Films of Tyrone Power represents five years of research by the authors and presents many aspects of the actor’s life. Every film in which he acted is recaptured meticulously, along with casts, credits, reviews and production notes. The warm and detailed biographical portrait of the star, his three wives and his many loves, bring him alive, helped by more than four hundred photographs which illustrate the text. The introduction is by Henry King, who directed many of Tyrone Power’s greatest hits.

 

If you’re a fan of Tyrone Power, then this book is a must. The authors list each of Power’s films, including shorts and war time films. Anything you want to know about the movies, it’s there. There are film stills and promotional photos from many of the films as well. It’s thorough and informative.

I’ve always loved Power and this book puts a new spin on the actor. I never realized how well lit he was during his films–meaning the directors tended to work with the lighting for him that’s up to par, if not better than with his leading ladies. The guy wasn’t just an actor, he was an icon, but he was also seen as a pretty boy.  I never looked at him that way, but I’ve come to since reading this book. I don’t discount Power as an actor, though. He still did his job and it shows in this collection of writings about his films.

If you’ve ever wanted to know a little more about Tyrone Power’s body of work, then this book is for you.

Monday Movie Rundown ~ The Lego Batman Movie

Monday Movie Rundown Banner I watched quite a few movies this weekend, but the one that stuck with me for this post was the Lego Batman movie.

I wanted fun and this movie was that. Yes, it’s one gigantic product push, but I didn’t care. I liked the lesson in the movie–you have to allow people to help you from time to time and family comes in all different forms.

It was funny, silly and not at all a normal dour Batman movie. I’m glad I saw it. Will Arnett makes a great Batman and Michael Cera made a good Robin. They played off each other well and like I said, it was fun. If you want a movie that will whisk you away for a couple of hours and will entertain the whole family, then this might be the movie for you.

Monday Morning Movie Rundown ~ The Conspirator

Monday Movie Rundown Banner I like my share of older movies and the one I’m talking about today isn’t new. But it’s not old. It’s new-ish. At least it is compared to some of the movies I tend to watch.

This week I watched The Conspirator. First, I’m a history buff, so the movies that have a true story running through them (notice I didn’t say are the true story because this is Hollywood and they never get it 100% right) are interesting to me. I know this isn’t completely factual, but I like how movies like this inspire me to go to the library to learn more–which I did.

Second, I could listen to James McAvoy read the phone book and I’d be perfectly happy. Yes, he’s one of my favorite actors. That said, I didn’t realize he was in this film until I got the copy from the library. As Frederick Aiken, he’s quite good. I appreciated him having a Northern accent–hey, he could still read the phone book and I’d be happy, no matter what accent.

I also liked Robin Wright. Most people see her and think of Jenny from Forrest Gump, but I can say for me she became Mary Surratt. I wasn’t watching actors, but it felt like I was there.

Now this is a depressing movie. Truly. You know the president dies. That’s in all of the history books, but when the people behind the scenes are presented, it puts a different spin on what happened. It’s awful no matter what, but these people were people, too. I liked how the director, Robert Redford, ensured each character was human, rather than demonized.

If you want a movie that will make you think and possibly want to learn more about the Lincoln assassination, then The Conspirator might be the film for you.

 

Monday Movie Rundown ~ Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Monday Movie Rundown Banner I’m a tad late on the post today, but here’s my thoughts on Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.

I’ve watched all of the Harry Potter movies and I’ve loved them. This movie is in the quirky vein of those movies, but it’s not quite the same. I like how the other films tackled awkward characters and misfits. This movie does, too. The beasts are upon first viewing, misfits and dangerous. Once they’re true abilities are seen, they’re seen in a different light. Isn’t that how humans should be seen, too? Despite what we believe on the outside, we’re unique on the inside.

I had one quibble with the movie, though. One of the characters was, in my humble opinion, treated rather unfairly. I wished for a different ending with him, but it didn’t happen. Did this take away from the ultimate enjoyment of the movie for me? Yeah, a little. But the swirling colors, the imaginative characters and creatures as well as the plot made up for that quibble.

If you’re looking for an offbeat, quirky movie that’s equal parts intriguing and fantastic, then this is the movie for you.

Wednesday Book Review ~ Dorothy Dandridge by Donald Bogle

DOROTHYDorothy Dandridge — like Marilyn and Liz–was a dream goddess of the fifties. All audiences ever had to do was take one look at her — in a nightclub, on television, or in the movies — and they were hooked. She was unforgettable, Hollywood’s first full-fledged African American movie star.

This definitive biography — exhaustively researched — presents the panoramic dimensions of this extraordinary and ultimately tragic life. Talented from the start, Dorothy Dandridge began her career as a little girt in Cleveland in an act that her mother Ruby, an actress and comedienne, created for her and her sister Vivian. By the time she reached her teens, she was working in such Hollywood movies as Going Places with Louis Armstrong and A Day at the Races with the Marx Brothers. She also appeared at New York’s Cotton Club in a trio called The Dandridge Sisters, but soon went solo, determined to make a name for herself. She became one of the most dazzling and sensational nightclub performers around, all the white breaking down racial barriers by integrating some of America’s hottest venues.

But she wanted more. Movie stardom was her dream. And she got it. Dandridge broke through the glass ceiling of Tinseltown to win an Academy Award nomination as Best Actress for her lead role in Otto Preminger’s Carmen Jones. Other films such as Porgy and Bess, Island in the Sun, and Tamango would follow and the media would take notice. In an industry that was content to use Black women as comic mammy figures, Dorothy Dandridge emerged as a leading lady, a cultural icon, and a sizzling sex symbol.

She seemed to have everything: glamour, wealth, romance and success. But the reality was fraught with contradiction and illusion. She became a dramatic actress unable to secure dramatic roles. While she had many gifts to offer, Hollywood would not be the taker.

As her professional frustrations grew, so did her personal demons. After two unhappy marriages — her first to the great dancer Harold Nicholas — a string of unfulfilling, love affairs, and the haunting tragedy of her daughter Lynn, she found herself emotionally and financially — bankrupt. She ultimately lost all hope and was found dead from an overdose of antidepressant pills at the age of 42.

Drawing on extensive research and unique interviews with Dorothy Dandridge’s friends and associates, her directors and confidantes, film historian Donald Bogle captures the real-life drama of Dandridge’s turbulent life; but he does so much more.This biography documents the story of a troubled but strong family of women and vividly recreates Dandridge’s relationships with an array of personalities such as Otto Preminger, Sammy Davis Jr., Pearl Bailey, Harry Belafonte, Diahann Carroll, Peter Lawford, Ava Gardner, and many more. Always at the center though is Dorothy Dandridge, magnetic and compelling.

Donald Bogle — better than anyone else — goes beyond the surface of one woman’s seemingly charmed life to reveal the many textured layers of her strength and vulnerability, her joy and her pain, her trials and her triumphs.

I’ve heard the name Dorothy Dandridge many times. I’m from northern Ohio and she’s a cult figure there because she, like Halle Berry, made it big. But I didn’t know much about Dandridge. I’d seen pictures of her and knew she was a star, but who was this woman?

That’s where this book comes into play. I’d watched the documentary, Jazz, by Ken Burns and in the course of the episodes, Dandridge’s name was mentioned. I’m the kind of person that when I hear the name, I want to know more. But not just a simple internet search. I love my library and went there.

Bogle covers all of her life. There aren’t any glossed over portions and he’s candid about who this woman was. She wanted a happy life. She wanted to be happy and to have the love of her life. Bogle touches on her marriages, her struggle with her daughter–who was special needs before special needs was a thing–and her problems with drugs.

Dandridge is fascinating in her drive. She let very few things hold her back. When she wanted something, she went for it. Of course she dealt with racial discrimination, but the way she did, with grace and aplomb, was interesting. She held her head high when others might have cowered.

This isn’t a short read. It’s long and detailed, but it’s so fascinating. I didn’t breeze through it, but once I dove in, I had the book devoured in a matter of days. Check it out for yourself.

Monday Movie Rundown ~ Doctor Strange

Monday Movie Rundown BannerI’m all about the Marvel Universe. There isn’t a movie, short feature and bonus clip. When I saw there would be a movie about Doctor Strange, I had to see it. Now, I have to admit, I’m not up on the comic books. Never claimed to be. I like the comics, but I was never a comic book reader. So when I watch the movies, I go by what the studio gives me for a story line.

So onto the movie. Talk about color and texture! The whole movie is a kaleidoscope of color and it works. I didn’t like Steven Strange to begin with. The guy is a jerk. But as a character should, he grows. I liked seeing the change from being a brilliant neurosurgeon to not being able to use his hands. No, I didn’t want him to get hurt, but I liked how it forced him to be more. I enjoyed the way the filmmaker showed his neurotic desire to fix himself. Tilda Swinton is just about the only actress I can think of who can be female, yet asexual at the same time. She was fantastic.

I also liked Rachel McAdams’ character. How she kept up with Strange and even when she had to move on, she still believed in him. What I liked best was her ability to stand on her own–she didn’t need him. She was a brilliant doctor in her own right. Kudos.

If you want the next piece in the Marvel universe and a fascinating story (No, I’m not giving too many spoilers), then this is the movie for you.