Movies

Moves Like Jagger

twirlingIt’s no secret that I have a fondness for dance movies. I own a good number of them and have been known to watch the best dance scenes from each movie, one after the other. So when I stumbled across the book Mambo in Chinatown, the newest novel by author Jean Kwok, I knew it was meant to be. Mambo in Chinatown is about Charlie Wong, a Chinese American girl in her twenties who is struggling between respecting her family and her heritage, and following her dream to become a ballroom dancer. It’s a beautifully written novel that has quite a bit in common with some of my favorite dance movies.

A Musician's Life

street musicianWhether it’s a beautifully composed score supporting the emotionally tenor of a movie, or a carefully selected song overlaying the action, music has always been an important component in movies. It is not surprising that many filmmakers have chosen to bring that music to the forefront with biopics on famous musicians and composers and stories about fictional musicians. Unlike musicals, which tell stories through music and dancing, these movies focus on the lives and passions of the people who create the music.

This season alone, three different films focusing on musicians have opened in theaters, adding variety to the typical summer movie fare. One, Begin Again, is the fictional story of a producer and a musician as they make their own album in the streets of New York City. The other two are more traditional biopics. Jersey Boys, based on the hit Broadway musical, tells the tumultuous history of Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons, while Get On Up follows the life of the Godfather of Soul, James Brown. All three movies aim to seamlessly blend movies and music and uncover what it is that drives musicians to perform.

James Garner (1928-2014)

James Garner’s passing was very sad to hear about.  He was always a welcome presence in movies and TV series.  An actor who could handle any genre, from comedy to action-adventure, from romance to western.  I grew up watching his TV shows and fil

Dear Sir or Madam.....

It’s an idea that dates back centuries.  A character in a play – comedy or drama – will dress as a member of the opposite sex.  Sometimes it’s for money.  Sometimes to trick another person for a noble cause.  Sometimes just to hide out for a while.  Shakespeare was fond of having a strong female character disguise herself as a

The Great American Road Trip

It’s summer!  Vacation time!  And what’s more American than traveling this beautiful country and seeing what’s beyond the horizon.  And what better time than the Fourth of July to contemplate the great American road trip.

A Different Kind of Fairy Tale

wizard of ozIn a blog post a few weeks ago, I waxed eloquent (I might actually have rambled) about my intense love for live-action fairy tales, Disney’s Sleeping Beauty, and Maleficent, the greatest of the fairy tale villains. There are so many fairy tales brought to screen every year, both through animation and live-action filmmaking, and each takes a unique approach to retelling the classic story.

As I was putting that list together, I noticed another trend: movies with fairy tale qualities based on stand-alone or series novels. These novels aren’t generally considered fairy tales, and they certainly don’t appear in any Grimm’s collection, but they do have many similar qualities. While some of these books, like The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and Peter Pan, are considered classics, many, like Ella Enchanted, are modern reinventions of the fairy tale genre. The movies based on these books generally rely on a sense of whimsy and a bit of magic to enchant viewers and move the plot forward. And, although it is almost never stated, there is always the all-important “happily ever after.”

Eli Wallach (1915-2014)

I can’t remember the first time I saw Eli Wallach on TV or in a movie.  He just always seemed to

Ruby Dee (1922-2014)

It was very sad to read about the passing of one of America’s great actresses: <

Once Upon a Time…

maleficent dragonWhen I saw Disney’s Sleeping Beauty for the first time as a little girl, I was completely captivated. I loved watching the fairies muddle through baking a cake and sewing a dress, Briar Rose and Prince Phillip’s first encounter in the forest, and the epic fight at the end of the film. But, most of all, I loved Maleficent. She could curse a person sixteen years in advance and turn into a dragon! In my mind, that made her the best fairy tale villain.

I was obviously not alone in that way of thinking, because 55 years later, Disney released a live action retelling of the fairy tale. But this time, they focused on Maleficent, one of the most beloved fairy tale villains. Maleficent strives to do what Wicked, the best-selling novel and the hit Broadway musical, did for the Wicked Witch of the West in The Wizard of Oz: tell the villain’s story, shed light on their motivations, and bring compassion to an otherwise evil character. Critical reviews so far have been mixed, but audiences seem united in finding Maleficent’s story, and Angelina Jolie’s performance as her, mesmerizing.

D-Day

The planning took months, coordinating armed forces of several countries – primarily the United States, Great Britain, and Canada -- and underground forces of others, especially the occupied country of France.  The timing had to be as precise as possible, taking into consideration communication, weather, the phases of the moon, and the tides.  And though we recall the date of June 6, 1944, as key to the success of the Allied Force

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