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.

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.

Movie Review ~ The Edge of Seventeen #moviereview #movie #review

Monday Movie Rundown BannerWouldn’t it help if I had the review posted? I think so. Chuckle. I’ve tried to catch a few of the newer movies lately and this week, I watched The Edge of Seventeen.

If you haven’t caught this flick, then you might want to. In the same vein as the John Hughes movies, this one is intelligent, while still being teenish.

Let’s face it. Growing up is hard. Puberty is harder. Some of us flow right through it and others…it’s like a series of potholes with bald tires.

Nadine feels invisible. Who hasn’t when they were in high school? Her older brother is the jock. Popular and handsome, he can do no wrong. Then there’s her best friend. Krista is the only one who understands Nadine. Then Brother and Best Friend merge.

I’ve been in Nadine’s situation. I wasn’t exactly popular during my teen years. I had a quirky sense of style and doing things. My friends seemed to keep pairing off with guys while I was the perpetual fifth wheel. In this respect, Nadine was very real to me.

There are twists and turns for Nadine which are great and believable. I won’t spoil it, but this is a movie worth sticking it out. Nadine’s growth is pretty cool.

The standout performance for me was Woody Harrelson. I’m used to him as Woody on Cheers, so to see him in this role…it wasn’t a stretch, but I like how he–like many of the other characters–prove they are more than anyone believes them to be.

If you’re looking for a movie with teen angst, laughs and a few tears, then this might be the movie for you. Recommended.

Book Review ~ The Star Machine by Jeanine Basinger #oldhollywood #review

STARFrom one of our leading film authorities, a rich, penetrating, amusing plum pudding of a book about the golden age of movies, full of Hollywood lore, anecdotes, and analysis.

Jeanine Basinger gives us an immensely entertaining look into the “star machine,” examining how, at the height of the studio system, from the 1930s to the 1950s, the studios worked to manufacture star actors and actresses. With revelatory insights and delightful asides, she shows us how the machine worked when it worked, how it failed when it didn’t, and how irrelevant it could sometimes be. She gives us the “human factor,” case studies focusing on big stars groomed into the system: the “awesomely beautiful” (and disillusioned) Tyrone Power; the seductive, disobedient Lana Turner; and a dazzling cast of others—Loretta Young, Errol Flynn, Irene Dunne, Deanna Durbin. She anatomizes their careers, showing how their fame happened, and what happened to them as a result. (Both Lana Turner and Errol Flynn, for instance, were involved in notorious court cases.) In her trenchantly observed conclusion, she explains what has become of the star machine and why the studios’ practice of “making” stars is no longer relevant.

Deeply engrossing, full of energy, wit, and wisdom, The Star Machine is destined to become an invaluable part of the film canon.

I’ve said before that I love old Hollywood stories. Love them. This one was no different. When I saw the title, The Star Machine, I knew I had to learn more. Why? I’ve always been fascinated with the means by which the studios created the stars. Why did some actresses make it and others withered? Why did some actors only get to play certain parts while others were allowed to branch out? This book answers those questions and more.

I particularly liked the parts on Norma Shearer, Tyrone Power and Jean Arthur. Since these are three of my favorite players in Hollywood, it was fitting. I also enjoyed the portion on Lana Turner.

Shearer was seen as only becoming popular because she played loose women, then because she married the head of the production department. But there was a lot more to her. The production code screwed her over. Irving Thalberg, her head honcho husband, was the love of her life. She did a lot for Hollywood and was willing to fade into private life, rather than to keep making pictures when she knew she was past her prime.

Jean Arthur has always fascinated me. She’s smart and not exactly the usual in Hollywood. From her husky, quirky voice to her no-nonsense attitude, she was an unintended star. She bucked the system often. I loved how the author focused not so much on her being difficult (read: she knew what she wanted and wasn’t afraid to take it), but her desire to do her own thing.

Power, the poor man, was blessed and cursed with beauty. Now, it might seem like that’s a silly thing to look at as a curse. He’s gorgeous and the author points out how he was lit in his pictures more than his female co-stars. More often than not, Power was seen as the star vehicle because the brass knew he could get people in seats at the theater. Make him handsome-r and the women will come. But he wasn’t allowed to branch out of the swashbuckling handsome star until after he came back from World War 2. When he was a tad more weathered, he was allowed to be more than arm candy. Unfortunately, he didn’t live long enough to enjoy his newfound gravitas.

If you want a book that’s got lots of information, but doesn’t seem like you’re just reading facts, then this is a book for you. If you want to learn a little more about old Hollywood and get to know the inside scoop on the stars, then this is the book you want. If you’re interested in how the studios built people up, only to tear them down…then what are you waiting for?

Monday Binge-Worthy TV ~ Soap! #television #billycrystal #soap #soapopera

Monday Movie Rundown BannerI thought this week instead of the movie rundown, I’d switch over to the small screen for a week. I’ve never been very good at binge watching, but there are some shows that have to be binged. I’ll pepper a few more in from time to time, but the first binge-worthy show is Soap!

I love soap operas. Even though they’re over the top and somewhat silly at times, that’s what makes them fun. How far out can the story line go? How far fetched? Then there’s the concept of going from the plausible to the completely impossible.

Soap! manages to encapsulate all the fun of the soap operas, while keeping the sheer impossibility and improbability. The characters are funny, have moments of intelligence and not so much, but they’ve always got heart.

I think my favorite characters are Mary and Jodie. For all of her insecurities and foibles, Mary Campbell never stops trying. She overcame alcoholism, had an alien baby…oh and has a step-son with a doll. She never loses her sense of humor or realism. Then there’s Jodie. I loved him, too. He’s trying to find his place. He’s gay, but his heart leads him in different directions. Oh, and he becomes a father.

For the late 1970s, this is pretty advanced stuff. Yes there are the quintessential horrible jokes and the comments that would never get past the censors these days, but if you take the show in the context of its time, it’s a riot. I loved every moment. The only thing I wish? There would’ve been more episodes!!