Saturday, December 30, 2006

What They Did for Fame

DREAMGIRLS, a lavish film adaptation of the Broadway hit musical, comes across as a glitzy, glamorous singing extravaganza. But behind all the wigs, glitter and gowns, this movie deals fairly realistically with what was done to make black entertainers commercially successful amid the racial prejudice and discrimination of the 1960s and 70s.

Beyonce, Anika Noni Rose and Jennifer Hudson portray The Dreamettes, a trio reminiscent of the famous Supremes. Jamie Foxx plays the underhanded Curtis, who takes control of The Dreamettes in more ways than one. After engaging in an affair with Effie (Jennifer Hudson), probably because she is the leader of the group and the best singer, Curtis decides that Deena (Beyonce) should sing lead. Why? Her looks, of course. Naturally, that does not sit well with Effie, especially since she knows Curtis is now also sleeping with Deena. After Effie receives her walking papers, The Dreamettes become The Dreamers, who go on to achieve great fame. Meanwhile, Effie ekes out a meager existence until her songwriting brother (Keith Robinson ) helps her give Curtis his comeuppance.

Although DREAMGIRLS lacks enough dancing and humor to rank as one of my favorite film musicals, the performances here are superb. Beyonce never ceases to amaze me with her singing talent, and Jennifer Hudson, an American Idol reject, will surely become a big star after her sensational debut in this movie. However, the biggest surprise in DREAMGIRLS is Eddie Murphy and his explosive portrayal of a singer also managed by the unscrupulous Curtis.

Ironically, the most memorable song in this diva-oriented musical is WHEN I FIRST SAW YOU, a ballad performed by Jamie Foxx that expresses how Curtis feels about Deena. What an absolutely lovely number! DREAMGIRLS may have some minor flaws, but highpoints like this make up for them.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Book of the Month Review

I want to thank Denise Cassino for calling CONFESSIONS OF A MOVIE ADDICT, my amusing life-at-the-movies memoir, a great gift for any movie lover. And I also appreciate the many other positive things she said in her Book of the Month review for the December 2006 issue of the Long Story Short Ezine for Writers.

To read the full review, please go to

Sunday, December 03, 2006

A Beautiful and Hypnotic Film

THE FOUNTAIN is an artistic masterpiece. This stunning, elegant movie co-stars Hugh Jackman and Rachel Weisz as characters representing eternal love and the struggle between death and immortality. Because it highlights such esoteric elements as mysticism, spirituality and symbolism, this unique film may not resonate with some viewers. But I found it hypnotic and almost painfully beautiful.

Delivering the most memorable performance of his career, Jackman plays three different roles here, although these men have the same soul and are all tied to the character portrayed by Weisz. Tom, the main role played by Jackman, is a research scientist trying desperately to find a cure for his wife Izzi, a woman dying from cancer.

The film jumps back and forth among the 15th, 21st and 26th centuries, so it takes a bit of patience to figure out what is going on, which involves a book titled THE FOUNTAIN that Izzi is writing and wants Tom to finish for her. Fortunately, that posed no problem for me, mostly because I was completely amazed by the incredible visuals while trying to connect the storyline dots.

Should we fight death or calmly accept our mortality? Is it more important to spend time with our loved ones than working to save them? Can love conquer all? Heavy-duty questions, for sure, and not ones we expect to see explored all at once in a movie. But THE FOUNTAIN takes them on with artistry and grace.