Sunday, January 24, 2016

Carol Burnett, Take a Bow

There is good news today for Carol Burnett and her many, many fans. On January 30, this talented entertainer will be honored with a well-deserved Lifetime Achievement Award from the Screen Actors Guild. Carol has been making us laugh for over half a century, and she’s one of my all-time favorite funny ladies. 

I became a fan back in the 1950s. That’s when she appeared on the Garry Moore Show. She soon had her own TV show, which had me rolling in the aisles each week. My favorite sketch? The Gone with the Wind parody. Watching Carol as Scarlet O’Hara in a dress with the curtain rods as giant shoulder pads made me laugh so hard my husband almost called for an ambulance. Her line, “I saw it in the window and couldn’t resist,” is a classic.

Several years later, I attended one of Carol’s Q&A shows in San Diego. Imagine my delight at being called on to ask a question! “Who do you think is the funniest person working in showbiz today?” I asked.

Carol replied, “Tom Hanks.”

Although Tom Hanks can be very funny indeed (remember the movie Big?), I think the correct answer to my question is “Carol Burnett.”

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Friday, January 01, 2016

My Top Ten Favorite Films of 2015

While watching a film, I usually look for cinematic artistry, a compelling story and inspiring performances. But my favorite movies of the year are simply the entertaining ones I want to watch over and over again! Below are my top ten favorites of 2015 (not in any particular order, except for the first on the list).    

BROOKLYN. A film of quiet beauty, Brooklyn reminds me of those classic movie gems from the past, the ones emphasizing character development and good storytelling. This one imparts a sense of place and loving hearts while telling a compelling story about the immigration experience of one young woman who came to Brooklyn from Ireland in the 1950s. Saoirse Ronan delivers a spellbinding performance in the lead role by making us feel we’re experiencing everything right along with the engaging character she plays here.  

MINIONS. I’ve been under a Minions spell ever since watching Despicable Me. This prequel did not disappoint me. Backing up all the funny antics by these adorable little creatures is one of the best soundtracks ever – and the musical numbers are as cute as can be! Some critics believe the soundtrack is even better than the movie, but I disagree. The movie and soundtrack go together like macaroni and cheese or mashed potatoes and gravy. And what a satisfying dish it is!

A LITTLE CHAOS. This special period movie treat boasts many lovely scenes and an outstanding performance by Kate Winslet as a landscape artist who faces almost insurmountable obstacles after being selected  to create a special garden for King Louis XIV, played by the always watchable Alan Rickman (who also directs).     

CINDERELLA. Kenneth Branagh directed this wonderful version of the popular fairy tale. Great special effects enhance the film’s quality, and a magnificent royal ball scene took my breath away!     

WHITE GOD. One of the best revenge movies ever made, this Swedish offering tells the story of what terrible things can happen when anyone interferes with the relationship between a girl and her dog.   

THE DANISH GIRL. Projecting so much love and pain, Eddie Redmayne and Alicia Vikander take us on a worthwhile journey toward better understanding of transgender transformation in this classy gender-bender filled with impressive performances and splendid production values.

SPY. Watch out, 007! Women take over the spy game in this hilarious spoof of James Bond movies. Very funny things happen in practically every scene, thanks to Melissa McCarthy, Rose Byrne, Jason Statham, Jude Law and writer/director Paul Feig.

STRANGE MAGIC. This is one of the most delightful animated musicals I’ve ever seen! Great songs, a fun story (inspired by Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream) and fascinating animation fill the screen while reminding us that everyone needs love no matter the size, shape or color of their skin.   

DANNY COLLINS. Al Pacino and Annette Bening create a fun chemistry together in this superb film about a man’s fearless search for redemption. I still smile whenever I think of how well Pacino pulled off playing a famous singer.  

THE MARTIAN. This wonderful survival adventure is definitely a film that matters. It deals with so many universal themes like compassion, the importance of intelligence, scientific/technological know-how, cooperation and hope. Plus the story, cast, and visual effects just couldn’t be better.



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