Monday Movie Review ~ A Move and a Review… plus News! @meganslayer

Monday Movie Rundown Banner It’s time for the Monday Movie Rundown. Stay tuned for news, but first, my review!

This past week, I caught yet another Tyrone Power movie. This time it was Day-Time Wife.

Initially, I thought this was a Hallmark channel fluff piece movie. It’s from 1939, well after the Hayes Code went into major enforcement. The man can cheat, but the wife can’t and as long as he’s sorry…it’s okay. Hmm… I realize it was part of the times, but I didn’t like him cheating.

At first, I thought there was a lot of schmaltz in this movie. Sweet, but not too offensive. Then came Jane’s, the wife, reason for getting a job with the business rival of her husband–because he was stepping out with his secretary. I get the idea of people getting married and sticking it out through thick and thin might be old-fashioned, but I wanted to see that.

I wasn’t fond of Jane’s attitude or the way she went about outting her husband. She seemed to think it was fine to cheat if he did and got almost a perverse thrill out of goading him. Hey, he deserved it, but I had hoped she’d have been a tad stronger of a woman. Rise above. I don’t know.

Still, there was fun and a cute dog. Can’t go wrong when there’s a dog in the family.

This was a good watch to represent the simpleness of the late 1930s and Power is shot well. He’s lit as if he were the leading lady. If you want a fluff story to pass an afternoon, this might be the movie for you.

NOW FOR THE NEWS!! Monday Movie Rundown is moving to Thursday. Why? It’s football season! Starting next Monday, the Monday Morning Armchair Quarterback is back! I can’t wait!!

Monday Movie Rundown ~ Inherit the Wind #moviereview @meganslayer

Monday Movie Rundown Banner This week I thought I’d talk about an oldie but goodie movie I’ve seen a couple of times, but haven’t watched recently until this past weekend. Inherit the Wind is a must-see movie.

In the movie, which takes place in the early part of the twentieth century, a teacher was taken to task for teaching evolution in school. Now today this would seem ridiculous. We’ve all learned about evolution. We learn science. But all those years ago, the church was the thing and the only way children were taught until secondary school. Science was considered…questionable. Can you imagine questioning science? But arguing that creationism was real…it happened. This movie tells a version (it’s a thinly veiled version of the debates between Clarence Darrow and William Jennings Bryan and the teacher is based on a real person, John Thomas Scopes – hence the references in the marketing material about the Scopes Monkey trial) of the trial involving that teacher and those who wanted to bring him down.

Besides seeing actors I know from other situations – Col Potter from MASH is there, Darren from Bewitched, Mr Roeper from Three’s Company as well as Gene Kelly – there is the fantastic speech given by Spencer Tracy most of the way through the film, was very taxing on Tracy and done in one take. When you consider it was done in one take and all at one time…it boggled my mind.

Although the players in the movie aren’t real, they are based on real people. This movie is one to watch more than once and to discuss. Why? The moral of the story is when we fear something and don’t take the time to try to understand, we just might be hosing ourselves over.

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 ~ Lily and the Octopus by Steven Rowley

LILYTed—a gay, single, struggling writer is stuck: unable to open himself up to intimacy except through the steadfast companionship of Lily, his elderly dachshund. When Lily’s health is compromised, Ted vows to save her by any means necessary. By turns hilarious and poignant, an adventure with spins into magic realism and beautifully evoked truths of loss and longing, Lily and the Octopus reminds us how it feels to love fiercely, how difficult it can be to let go, and how the fight for those we love is the greatest fight of all.

I have to be honest. I’m supposed to read this book for my book club. I’m not entirely sure how I feel about it. The premise snagged me. I won’t lie. A guy and his dog. Yep. I’m a dog person. Okay, I’m a critter person. I’m the one who swears at the movie when the people live but the dog/cat/ferret/etc dies. I knew what would happen. Spoiler alert…yeah, there’s a very tissue-worthy moment at the end. Like super tissue-worthy.

But to tell you how I feel about the book…it’s complicated. I liked it. Okay, I liked parts of it. The connection between Ted and Lily was a riot. How she talked… In! All! Exclamation! Points! is very much how Dachshunds bark, so effectively how they talk. I loved that part. How she was his support was good, too. If you’ve ever had a connection with a dog, you know they aren’t just pets. They’re family. So I got and loved that part.

But there were points I kinda wasn’t impressed. The whole portion with the octopus was a little hard to handle. Once I understood, then I understood, but it took a bit. Then there was his tendency to drown his sorrows in pills and booze. Hey. We’ve all been there. Done things we wouldn’t normally do. That made Ted real, but I guess I expected something different. Maybe more….arguing. More fighting. Maybe I lost it in the metaphor of the octopus.

Either way, the book was good, but I’m not sure I can read it again. The bit at the end where I mentioned the tissues was a tad too real for me. Having put an animal down not long ago, this made those memories rawer. So if that’s a trigger for you, then read the book, but be warned. If you’re looking for a sweet, sappy ending, you might be surprised.

I’d buy this one and keep it, but I’m not sure I can handle reading it again right now. See what you think. You might be pleasantly surprised…after tissues.

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?