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Friday, February 29, 2008

Away

Hello everyone. I will be out of town for the next few days and won't be able to post. I will try my best to have new articles by the beginning of next week. In the meantime please look over the latest posts from this past week. Thanks!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Celebrity Birthdays

February 26th

Erykah Badu turns 37 years old today. Two of my favorite Badu movies include House of D and Brown Sugar.

Happy Birthday Ms. Badu!

Monday, February 25, 2008

Congratulations Oscar Winner Javier Bardem

I want to extend a big Congrats out to Javier Bardem! He took home the award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role for No Country For Old Men.

I recently reviewed one of his break-out roles in Before Night Falls. Great job, you deserve it.

Celebrity Birthdays

February 25th

Tea Leoni turns 42 years old today. My favorite Tea films include House of D, Spanglish, and Fun With Dick and Jane. She has a knack for playing eccentric women.

Sean Astin turns 37 years old today. My favorite Sean films include Rudy and The Lord of the Rings Trilogy. He can always play a nice guy.

Happy Birthday Lady and Gentleman!

Sunday, February 24, 2008

My Top Five Oscar Winners from the 30's-50's

My Top Five Oscar Winners from the 30's-50's, in no particular order.

1. Sunset Boulevard starring William Holden and Gloria Swanson won 3 Awards.
Best Art Direction-Set Decoration, Black-and-White
Best Music, Scoring of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture
Best Writing, Story and Screenplay

It should have won for Best Actor, Actress and Picture.

2. Mildred Pierce starring Joan Crawford won 1 Award.
Best Actress in a Leading Role

3. Laura starring Gene Tierney and Dana Andrews won 1 Award.
Best Cinematography, Black-and-White

It should have won for Best Screenplay.

4. Gone with the Wind starring Vivien Leigh and Clark Gable won 8 Awards.
Best Actress in a Leading Role
Best Actress in a Supporting Role
Best Art Direction
Best Cinematography, Color
Best Director
Best Picture
Best Film Editing
Best Writing, Screenplay

5. The Wizard of Oz starring Judy Garland, Ray Bolger, Bert Lahr, and Jack Haley won 2 Awards.
Best Music, Original Score
Best Music, Original Song

Celebrity Birthdays


February 24th

Actor Billy Zane turns 42 today. Some of my fav Billy flicks are Titantic (love the lugie on the face), Tales From the Crypt: Demon Knight (it's such a great B movie), and Only You (check out my review on this film). We still love you Billy!

Actor Edward James Olmos turns 61 today. My fav EJO roles include Mr. Escalante in Stand and Deliver (love my 80's movies) and Mr. Quintanilla in Selena.

Happy Birthday Boys!

Thanks to IMDB for the links.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Growing Up Is Hard To Do In The Adventures Of Sebastian Cole


Thinking back to 1996, I was confronted with the reality that it’s been 12 years since I was a high school freshman. No, I don’t wish to return. Instead I’d rather look back and move forward. I learned many lessons that year, because the differences between my elementary school and high school, were vast. During that era, I was introduced to sex, drugs, discrimination, and a novel which has been attributed to making people go mad!
The novel, Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger, is one of my favorite books of all time. It’s not the short length of the book that draws me in, but the honesty of the story.
We all know the protagonist, Holden Caulfield, who is retelling his adventurous Christmastime story, while convalescing at a rest home.
He begins the narration with limited details into his family history because it bores him. Throughout the course of the novel he describes with a bitter tone the characters within his circle.
Poor hygiene, acne layered skin, a dirty bathroom, selling out, and hiding your true personality are some of the unforgiving qualities Holden encounters.
By the end we learn that Holden’s the biggest “phony bastard.” Even though he shows remorse to his dead, younger-brother, Allie; Holden is so messed up that he can’t see his true self. His constant cycle of running, hiding and criticizing others, ultimately speeds up his mental breakdown.
The reader is left with the feeling that perhaps we’re all phony bastards trying to please society, but lacking the inner strength to please ourselves.
Now fast-forward to the year 1998. I’d nearly survived my 4 years of high school. By this time my life had picked up tremendously. I’d made many new friends and found my niche with the track team, school newspaper, and yearbook committee. However, the themes of Catcher in the Rye still resonated in my life.
I discovered one day while watching the previews of upcoming films, a trailer from the Indie film, the Adventures of Sebastian Cole, which starred the then-unknown actor Adrian Grenier.
It took me about a year or two to actually watch it, but the trailer had left its mark. I instantly related it to Catcher in the Rye.
In this twisted tale we find young Sebastian at a crossroads after his step-father, Hank, played naturally, by Clark Gregg, announces he wants a sex-change. As the story progresses, we experience the distance that Sebastian feels between the life he once knew and the uncertainty of his future.
Shortly after Hank’s announcement, Jessica, Sebastian’s sister, runs off to California with the annoyingly, likable, Troy. Sebastian and his mother run off to England, but he returns to his quiet town to live with Hank, now known as Henrietta.
The two form an interesting bond as Henrietta strives to get a sex change and Sebastian struggles to find emotional stability in an awkward situation.
Throughout the Adventures of Sebastian Cole, Adrian Grenier, performs so well that you begin to wonder how much was Sebastian or himself. His vulnerability never feels forced and allows the audience to sympathize with his occasional asshole tendencies, like dumping his girlfriend, Mary, after she says “I love you.” However, he redeems himself later when he risks his life to rescue two female strangers from a crazy man named Chinatown.
But the link between the Adventures of Sebastian Cole and Catcher in the Rye hides in the fact that Sebastian and Holden both think they are better than everyone else. They hide themselves behind their clothing, cynical words, and confusing actions. But they both crave spiritual tranquility. Neither of them has found what they are searching for by the end of their stories. However, the journey’s they lead are the first steps to their transformation.
Although, my years in high school didn’t include a cross-dressing step-dad, I’m thankful to have had the exposure to the faults of myself and my peers. Without the stress and struggle of adolescence, a person could miss out on adventures reserved for youth.

Celebrity Birthdays

February 23rd Birthdays


Patricia Richardson, star of Home Improvement, is turning 57 years old today.

Dakota Fanning, star of Man on Fire, Charlotte's Web and Uptown Girls is turning 14 years old today.

Happy Birthday Ladies!

Thanks again to the people at IMDB for these wonderful links.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Celebrity Birthdays

Since I've been slacking lately, due to personal issues, I've put together a short list of Celebrity Birthdays for February 22nd.

Rachel Dratch of Saturday Night Live Fame is turning 42 years old today. She is one of my favorite players on the long running sketch comedy series. But I really miss the sketch she used to do with Jimmy Fallon where they both had Boston accents and made out all the time. Oh well...

Drew Barrymore is turning 33 years old today. Three of my fav Drew movies include Never Been Kissed, The Wedding Singer, and Ever After.

Thanks to the wonderful people at IMDB for the links I am using.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Fight for What You Want, Before Night Falls

Imagine a country where homosexuality is punishable by imprisonment in a concentration camp. Imagine the ruler of your country banning books that spoke against him. Imagine a home with no laughter, smiles or joy.

Now imagine a young girl crying herself to sleep at night longing for her father. Imagine this girl as a woman, watching her beloved grandfather forget his loved ones. Imagine a country in which a person’s color determines the struggles they will endure and others will not.

Now realize that both of these situations are real.

The young girl is me and the citizen of the communist country was Reinaldo Arenas. He was born in the Province of Oriente, Cuba in 1943. His home life was plagued with miserable women and a gay-hating grandfather.


In the film, Before Night Falls, Javier Bardem, plays the gifted novelist and poet. His passion for this role drives the progression of this frown-on-your-forehead film.

Bardem’s ability to play a strong, sensitive, intellectual, homosexual kills the stereotype of the lisp talking, hips swaying, fag that most Hollywood films portray.

Even more amazing is the way this film transports the audience to the horror of the rebels taking over Cuba, the interrogation of men suspected of being queer, and the constant fear that plagued Reinaldo Arenas’ life and literary works.

During his adventures, Arenas encountered colorful characters including a wagon driver named Cuco Sanchez, played by Sean Penn. While his screen time is short, Cuco advises the pre-teen Reinaldo to go home and forget the rebels. But Arenas is an independent young man and goes after what he believes to be right.

His journey to join the rebels continues his foray to manhood that was initiated during his trips to the local prostitutes for oral sex.

The flaunting of his sexuality created danger in his life. His hatred of the Cuban government made him a wanted man. The publishing of his books internationally, without Castro’s consent, landed him in prison for two years.

However, while incarcerated he began a friendship with Bon-Bon and Lieutenant Victor, both played by Johnny Depp. As always, Depp, develops two unique characters and forces them to shock and titillate the audience.

Reinaldo is eventually released from prison, in 1976, after a violent punishment for an escape and renouncing his work. He applies for deportation from Cuba to America during the Mariel Boatlifts of 1980.

Once in America he was considered stateless and began a new life in New York City. His writing continued to gain him fame and accolades until his AIDS induced suicide in 1990.

His autobiography, Before Night Falls, was the inspiration for this film. The film inspired me to look deeply at the life of a man who fought for what he wanted and deserved. Writing gave him a voice in a world of hate and discrimination. Writing has been and will always be my expression of individuality. It saved me during the rough times and rewarded me during the happy times. Fortunately my victory is being won here on Earth. Reinaldo Arenas’ victory was celebrated in Heaven.



Sunday, February 10, 2008

The Men Are Coming!

Okay. In honor of Valentine's Day I've decided to share some love to inspirational or just funny films with men in them. Yes, men have been in the films that I've reviewed so far, but they weren't the main focus. This week I'll critique a couple films that show men have feelings too.

There’s Life After the Darkness, in the Color Purple

“You sho is ugly,” evokes laughter and the bitter sting of embarrassment.

Many people know what film this hilarious line originates from. But for those of you who don’t know, I’ll give you a hint. Think purple.

Ah yes, the Color Purple. This Academy Award Nominated, snubbed for Best Picture, film is based on the novel by Alice Walker. In the movie, director Steven Spielberg, brings to life the story of women living during the Jim Crow era of the south.

The misery of the main character, Celie, is beautifully shown through the dark, warmth of Whoopi Goldberg’s eyes. Celie learns to read from her spiritual, soul-mate sister, Nettie. Her children by her incestuous, step-father are stripped from her arms after birth. She lives in fear of Mister’s, her husband’s, cold remarks and bruising punches. Yet, her ability to read allows her to leave her mundane world, for the fantasy lives of those in books.

However, the pain and struggle of southern life is shared with Celie’s daughter-in-law, Sophia, played by the remarkable Oprah Winfrey.

Sophia is everything that Celie isn’t. She speaks her mind, does what she wants, and pays for it with a jail sentence. But the fact that Sophia spends time in jail and as a servant to the bitchy mayor’s wife doesn’t diminish her power. Sophia stood up for herself when pressed for submission by the racists in her town. By doing so, she helped make it clear that abuse should not be accepted, no matter what the circumstances.

Eventually, the tone of the film takes on a lighter note when Shug Avery comes to visit. She’s the ex-lover of Mister and the opposite of Celie. She’s sexy, assertive and calls Mister by his real name, Albert. Through the course of Shug’s visit, Celie begins to see that love between women can revitalize your spirit.

Once the awakening of Celie’s mind, body, and spirit are one, she begins to start a new life. She moves away from Albert, begins a business, and finds peace within herself. She reaches out to the women as a calming force in the group.

Sophia is released from servitude by the death of the mayor’s wife and reconciles with her husband Harpo. In turn, she finally gets the respect she deserves from him and society.

As for Shug Avery, her story ends on a positive note. She makes peace with her minister father, gets married, and continues to be a source of soulful, sangin to her friends and family.

However, the film will bring tears of happiness. Happiness for the lives they left behind and the new ones they created.

Yes, I can relate to this film. Not only because I am an African-American woman who has relatives from the south. But because I have endured hardship, like helping a mother with breast cancer, while still completing a Bachelor’s Degree and working. It wouldn’t have been my choice to experience this at the end of my college career, but I am stronger, knowing I survived right along with Celie, Shug, Sophia and my mother.



Sunday, February 3, 2008

Coyote Ugly is the Right Kind of Solution to Boredom

Surfing the TV channels this season feels like time traveling. I can’t turn to a channel without seeing something I’ve seen before. However, tonight was an exception.

Back in 2000 I was a senior in high school until May and then I was off to school in Philadelphia in August. I didn’t see many films that year. I guess that’s how I escaped seeing Coyote Ugly. Trust me that was not the film I had intended to review for the new topic of Women Rule. But damn it, it sucked me in!

As many of you know, the movie Coyote Ugly has four beautiful women working their night’s away bartending in a dive in New York City named Coyote Ugly. The film stars Piper Parebo, as a girl from South Amboy, New Jersey. She works in a pizzeria by day and dreams of a singing career by night. She lives at home with her father, played by John Goodman.

With the onset of her best friend’s engagement, Violet (Parebo) figures it’s now or never to go after her dream. She moves to the big city into a roach motelish apartment. Shortly after moving in she is robbed of her belongings and the money roll in her freezer. When she goes into a diner for some pie, she witnesses the talent of the Coyote Ugly women at work. The owner gives her a matchbook from the bar and the rest is history.

After a few bumpy mishaps, like hosing down the fire marshal with seltzer water, Violet takes over the place of Tyra Banks’ character, Zoe. In no time she’s shaken her money maker for nice tips.

Although, she’s working nights she rarely looks sleep deprived. She even finds time to play cat n mouse with a cutie named Kevin O’Donnell, played by Adam Garcia. But this guy is more than a pretty face. He becomes the missing link in Violet’s pursuit of happiness.

Like many women, young and old, Violet lacks confidence in her talent. Through the course of the film her sparring with Kevin leads her to the realization that fame won’t find her unless she looks for it. By the end of the film we finally get to hear the music that has been mentioned for the past hour and forty minutes.

I liked because it was on and I needed something to watch. But it goes a little deeper than that. The movie does have a positive message of going after what you want. The women are strong, independent, and sassy.

As for my personal interest in the movie, it touches close to home. I’m from Atlantic City, NJ and I know what it’s like to want to move to NYC. My first college choice was NYU, but that was way too expensive for me. So I put off moving to my mother’s home town. However, now that I’m grown, I often wonder what it would be like to move there. Then I think about how many people live there. Even though I love visiting, I’m not sure I could easily give up my suburban, ocean locale. But you know there’s always L.A.