Sunday, December 30, 2012

New Year's Resolutions: Cinema Style

Once more unto the breach!

Yes, it's a new year, and with new beginnings come those resolutions. This time, I intend to use some cinematic inspiration.

1.Get Organized! 
Somewhere between this:
and this:
Must not go all crazy-eyed Sleeping with the Enemy

are my orderly closets and kitchen cabinets.

2. Loose Weight!
Somewhere between this:
The hilarious Rebel Wilson in "Bridesmaids"
and this:
Angie - please eat!
is a reasonably thinner and healthier me (just gotta get in there and drag her out).

3. Figure out a way to age gracefully
Ah, this is a hard one, but the clock keeps ticking. So, I would like to avoid this:

and shoot for this:
my hero
4. Get more sleep!
We all know how hard it is to get enough sleep and how very important it is. But too much is no good:

and not enough is even worse:

5. Watch more movies!
This one is easy.

I'll just do it! After all, I'll feel better, be more rested and be totally age-appropriate and organized.

Wishing you all the very best of everything in 2013. I have a feeling it's going to be spectacular!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

My Fantasy Christmas

I usually avoid writing about television, this being a movie blog and all that. However, television was the medium that introduced me to classic films, fed my dreams of Hollywood and remains, still, through DVDs and TCM, my main venue for viewing movies. It was also the first breeding ground of my fantasy life (you know, the one where I grow up and marry Cary Grant). So, this Christmas, instead of lovely starlets posing for Christmas publicity photos, I offer my fantasy Christmas family (1960s-style with a little give and take over the decades).

Make Room for Daddy was my favorite TV show as a kid. First of all, Danny Williams and his family lived in this very sophisticated New York apartment with 2 levels! It seemed very appropriate for a nightclub entertainer of Danny's caliber to be living in such a nice place. I never understood why Ricky Ricardo, who appeared to have a good thing going at the Tropicana, forced Lucy to live in that crummy apartment.
"Ricky, don't be so cheap!
Get outta that crummy apartment and live a little!
I related to this show because people were always yelling at one anther and wise cracking, which is kind of how my house was. The house that Dr. and Donna Stone lived in seemed as far removed from reality to me as the land of Oz.

Danny reminded me of my dad. He was not a nightclub entertainer, but he was beleaguered by a bunch of us whose mouths knew little restraint.

Marjorie Lord as Kathy was, to me, the perfect TV mom. She was loving and chic. Plus, my own mom was a redhead and I always thought they were the prettiest ladies. 
My brothers were considerable older, but they were wiseguys like Rusty. My resemblance to Linda was mentioned frequently.

I am swapping big sister Sherry Jackson's Terry for Sally Field's Gidget - just because it is my fantasy.

A special seat at the family table wound have to be  saved for Uncle Tonoose. He is by far my favorite uncle and I love him dearly.

My TV aunt that comes for Christmas is Samantha Stevens. That might mean that Endora is either Danny's or Kathy's mom, but I can't go there. Anyway, she is one of my favorite aunts because she is so beautiful and stylish and seems to have some special powers. I hope I grow up to inherit her nose (but if Danny is my dad, well.... I guess she is related to Kathy). Only Darrin #1 accompanies her in my fantasy.

My other favorite aunt is Susie MacNamara (of Private Secretary). Now, I only got to see this show on morning reruns, but I was always enamored of Ann Sothern's working girl. She was single, stylish and supporting herself. I want to sit right next to her. I realize that her boss, Mr. Sands, was Gidget's father, but that does not happen in my fantasy. Thought - get outta my head!!

And so, that is my happy Christmas family. Rusty, Gidget and I would get up early and unwrap our gifts (Rusty and I both get an a Viewmaster and an Etch a Sketch, Rusty also gets Rock 'em Sock 'em Robots and the Game of Mousetrap. I am so happy with my Easy Bake Oven and the dolls that looks just like me! Big sister Gidget is thrilled with her paisley skirt and go go boots).

It was a marvelous Christmas and many years later I return home. Danny and Kathy still live in the same apartment and I am now Ann Marie, aspiring actress, fashion plate and daddy's girl.

Hoping your holiday season is filled with love and peace and the warmth of family and good friends (real and imagined).

Thursday, December 6, 2012

A Sumptuous, Passionate and Utterly Cinematic Anna Karenina

If you are dazzled by beauty, daring, and creativity, I think you will like the new cinematic stab at “Anna Karenina.” While I looked forward to seeing this, the weight of the earlier performances of both Greta Garbo and Vivien Leigh seemed too much for the frail little shoulders of Keira Knightley. How could she compare?

First, let me say that reading this book in high school was NOT a happy experience. It was just so long, and all of the artifice of Imperial Russian society seemed so – well – artificial. Why couldn't the characters just say what they mean? Ah, youth…… And so Director Joe Wright’s challenge: not only to squeeze this hulking epic story of intertwined relationships into an approximate 2-hour story, but to make it look and feel fresh. I am happy to report that he has succeeded. Another straightforward retelling of Anna’s story would have been just so boring, no matter how gorgeously filmed. Instead Wright and screenwriter Tom Stoppard have elected to frame this story of the human heart so chained to the artifice and hypocrisy of society with the proscenium arch of the stage. It is bold, it is daring and it is gorgeous. And – it just feels right.

Well, we all know how it ends (Anna, the train and all that), but the characterizations offer some thrills:

Keira Knightley as Anna

Unlike the dignified beauties, Garbo and Leigh, Knightley is an artless, even coltish young woman playing the part of a respectable married lady. She seems content with her priggish husband and clearly adores her young son, but when the outlandish beauty of Count Vronsky is placed before her, she is consumed by an uncontrollable and feverish passion that ultimately wrecks her life. She tries so hard to live by the rules, but the rule of desire is just too much for her. She is, after all, so young.

Jude Law as Karenin

This is my favorite performance in the film. I hated this character in the book, and played by both Basil Rathbone and Ralph Richardson (in the Garbo and Leigh version), he is a cold-hearted prig. Jude Law (almost unrecognizable) plays the deceived husband with compassion. Yes, he's a bore, but he loves Anna and is heart-broken by her deceit. I felt sorry for him - something I never felt for this character when reading the book or watching the other film versions of the story.

Aaron Taylor-Johnson as Vroksky

Aaron Taylor-Johnson is so outlandishly pretty as Anna's lover, Count Vronsky, that I found myself chuckling in order to relive the discomfort of such beauty in a masculine form. He is discomforting, not to mention callow, thoughtless and selfish. He is disturbing. Based on her wardrobe and accessories, Anna loves beautiful things. How could she not want to possess this jewel?

The film also gives time to the Levin/Kitty romance, which balances the destructive love of Anna and Vronsky.

Was it perfect? Probably not. But, it dazzled my eyes and thrilled my imagination and that's why I love the movies.