A Weird Oscars

I don’t about you, but this year’s Oscars seemed weird to me. First I want to congratulate all the winners who I really like and respect, especially the actors;  Sam Rockwell, Frances McDormand, Allison Janney and Gary Oldman.

And there is an excellent reason it felt off, I lost my Mom and it is the first time I watched it with out my beloved Mom.  It was always traditional that we would watch it together, even when we were in different parts of the country we would be on the phone with each other discussing it.  I really miss her. As much as I miss her and that connection, that was not what was off. It was something else.

Usually there is a wave or sometimes two separate waves of wins that tells you who is the hot movie (or hot movies) that year. It starts with the technical awards, one or two show catch all the awards in those categories and you see that it the beginning of the wave. Then the supporting cast and writers win for a certain movie and by the end it is very clear who is the head of the pack when its time for the top award to come up, you know who is most likely to take the top prize.

In fact, last year there were two waves and they crashed into each other (confusing for those on stage, but I am sad to say, it really amused us,) and the wrong film was called out as the winner.  (I felt sorry for Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway.)  This year they allowed Warren and Faye to redeem themselves and give out the big award to the right movie.

It seemed to me, that it was a really stiff show this year, not just because of all the scandals but in every way you can think of it was uncomfortable to watch them this year. They were all trying so very hard to be honorable and respectable they kind of lost a bit of the fun for me. I much rather they be human than perfect.  There were cute exceptions Frances McDormand, she was just adorable and I love what she said.  I was a bit amused that there was top search for Inclusion Writer instead of Rider on Google. And Gary Oldman talking about his kids and wife not naming every producer and agent he ever worked with, he was lovely.

It was great as always to see wonderful classic actors like Rita Moreno and Eva Marie Saint who both looked beautiful and were charming.  It was exciting to see James Ivory finally win for writing at his age.  I grew up watching the wonderful  Merchant/Ivory movies. And I kind of hoped that the magnificent Christopher Plummer would have won,but it was lovely to see him, he’s so talented.

I was really disappointed in the, In Memoriam  they left so many people out. At least this year they didn’t move so far away from the screen that you could hardly see some of the people they were saluting like they did last year.  They left out at 10 wonderful creative artist that I could think of and my friends thought of more that they left out.  I forgive them for not having David Ogden Stiers because he just passed but why forget people like Adam West?  Sad for fans who love them.

Also I guess I was expecting it be like the 70’s with protests, streakers and people sending someone else to accept their award.  (I was young but I remember it very well, especially Marlon Brando sending that lovely Indian Woman up, I had no idea what she was talking about I was about 11 years old but I thought she was beautiful.) I was disappointed that there was nothing original or really interesting.  Even the clothes were disappointing. So very sad.

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Sometimes a movie can change your life.

As I look back there were many movies that influenced me but this one movie changed my life.  From the title and what the movie was about you wouldn’t think it could possibly do that.  It was “Julie and Julia” written and directed by Nora Ephron.  I always loved her movies, my favorite up to that point was “When Harry Met Sally”. The reason why you wouldn’t think Julie and Julia would change my life was I don’t cook.  I love to eat andI was brought up with great food both from my Mom and Grandma, I also went out to eat a lot. Our parents took us out to the best restaurants in the world so we were spoiled. Even so I would not call myself a foodie.  But I love good stories, I loved the all the actors in it and I love Nora’s sense of humor.  So I was flipping through cable and decided to watch, I was home sick from work and I wanted something that would take my mind off my stuffed head and fever.

When I was a little girl in the sixties maybe 5 or 6 an early memory was watching Julia Child on PBS with my family,  I didn’t really understand much about it except I thought she talked funny, and that she acted funny too, so I laughed. She made me smile.  (I was a child, so I was allowed to think that way, besides other than smiling and giggling, I don’t think anyone knew what was going through my little 5-year-old mind.) And though I found that part of the story fun and fascinating and even romantic, it was not the part that changed my life. No, the part that changed everything for me, what made a light bulb go on in my head was when Julie Powell’s husband Eric helped her to start her blog.  How easy it was.  Julie was a writer who had not been published.  Even if she was published she had no platform or followers, just like me.  Other than an occasional short story in an anthology, and an article in newsletters no one knew me at all.  I had written a poem that was published in a book of poems and I published my novel but after the initial flurry, mostly from my readers in fan fiction, my sales stopped dead in their tracks. And here in a movie was a women who had not even been published, who created a blog and became famous.  Wow!

Now, I didn’t become famous, not even a little bit, but it gave me a platform that changed my life.  My first blogs were about trying to get over the writer’s block from the loss of my beloved father. I wrote about movies and TV shows.  I wrote about fan fiction.  Pretty much what ever was happening to me and slowly, people started to respond.  But what I didn’t expect was that I would develop a platform that would let me explore things that I thought was dormant inside me. (Actually not dormant, dead really.)

I wrote a second book (finally, after my Mom and brother said my Dad would be pissed that I would stop just because he passed away,) and I did things I never even tried before.  I went after signings and panels and speaking engagements.  I mean, I am actually shy, but I did it.  It was from a spurt of confidence from my slowly building group of followers.  And that added more followers and more.  Then I tried to go on some radio shows to promote my second book, block, I tried to get on Blogtalk shows, no answers.  I sat there and thought why is this such a brick wall?  I kept doing it and I finally got an interview. The girl I was interviewed by, was actually not a great interviewer.  Then I was supposed to go on a web-interview, and she flaked.  And I thought, well this sucks I could do better than they do and at least I have a background from my days as an actress.

So I went to Blogtalk and started to interview people I knew from book groups and fandom.  And boom, I had an even bigger following.  Not just for my shows but for my writing and blogs and books…Wow!  Then I had entered a contest for a play I had written a long time ago and won, the prize was a bit of money (needed of course,) and professional actors reading my play in library. And I said to myself, “Self, I can do this for other people as well as my own work and I already have a platform, Blogtalk.”  And Sherri’s Playhouse was born. And from that, I have had opportunities to write plays and see them produced, Wow!

Why am I telling you all this now?  Well I guess because I was watching a documentary by Jacob Bernstein about his mom, Nora Ephron called;”Everything Is Copy” .  And as I watched it I realized that she was such an influence though I have never met her or was able to talk to her.  She inspired me to do what I am now doing.  I am so grateful.  Thank you Nora, and thank you Jacob for reminding me.

The true loss of a great talent, Alan Rickman.

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When I read of Alan Rickman’s passing my first feeling was shock.  No, he is too young.  He has too many parts still to play.  It’s not fair.  I always hoped I would get to see him on stage.  I would have loved to see him doing Shakespeare, from all that I know of him he would have been magnificent as King Lear.

The first time I saw him I really did not see his features under the make up or the horrid fright wig he wore in Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves, it was his voice that stayed with me.  It was such a unique voice and though he was a bad guy, it was a wonderful, sexy voice.  It stayed with me.

Then four years later, my Mother and I wanted to do something anti-Superbowl, and I had just become obsessed with Jane Austen.  I fell in love with her writing from the TV mini series of Pride and Prejudice so when I heard that Emma Thompson, (who I admire a lot) had written and starred in Sense and Sensibility. I thought it would be a perfect balance to my thDad and brother taking over living room with the Superbowl. All through the movie the voice of Colonel Brandon drove me mad, I knew it and I had no idea from where.  As we drove home I realized who he played and in the middle of conversation on the drive home said, Robin Hood,  The Sheriff Nottingham, that is where I know him from.  I think I shocked my Mom a bit, but I always remember a voice.  And his was special.  I tried to watch everything he was in that I could.

 

The next film I saw was Galaxy Quest, he was hilarious as the egotistical actor playing an Alien in a Sci Fi show.  Then Love Actually, again like Sense and Sensibility he played the leading man type, you could see what he looked like.  Though his character had some issues he seemed to turn it around in the end.

I came late to Harry Potter, I did not start watching it till the third movie came out.  I started to read the books that year and fell in love with them.  Alan was perfect as Professor alan rickmanSnape. I saw the first two movies on video tapes, so I didn’t get the full effect of the Professor till third movie.  He was amazing as old Snape,  you just loved to hate him.  It was nice that you saw why he did it in the end, again the bad guy was shown as a good guy and redeemed at the end.

 

 

Outside of Harry Potter the last show I saw him on was The Song Of Lunch on PBS with Emma Thompson. It was a lyrical show very much the cycle of love.

There were a lot more movies of course but those are the ones that stood out.  He was a talented man, who was very diverse and special.  He was very well-loved and he will be so very missed by all of his fans.

I raise my wand for you Professor…

A Sweet Goodbye To One Of My Favorite Actors

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Rod Taylor has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember.  From have watched and loved him. He was very talented and played every part with a deep commitment and true talent.

The first movie I think I can remember seeing him was The Time Machine.  A classic that I loved before I even knew what time travel or science fiction was.  Before I had read an H. G. Wells novel, I was in love George the time traveler.  He did something that just endeared me it was the sweet twinkle in his eye as he watched the mannequin change clothes and he went through the different time periods.  He was also so real in the midst of all the special effects and of course the romantic I am a mush so I loved the love story.

Of course I saw 101 Dalmatians but I didn’t it was him. So now that I do I may go back and watch it again just see if i can catch a phrasing that is pure Rod Taylor.

I loved him in Do Not Disturb  with Doris Day as the over worked and confused husband oblivious that his assistant had the hots for him.  In Sunday In New York as the adorable stranger who becomes both the hero and love Jane Fonda’s life, while being very, very funny.

I adored him in The Vips as the Aussie living in the UK with a great company who is fighting hard to keep it.  I had no idea he was an Aussie but I thought he was adorable and his relationship with his secretary, best friend and future love is one of my favorite parts of the movie.  I thought that he and Maggie Smith were just the cutest couple, I mean even a miserable Richard Burton could see she was in love Rod Taylor.

In Hotel as the manager he gets to show all the different sides.  He really plays the rock of the place who cares for the owner and employees and is trying his best to protect them all.  The scenes with Robert Webber as the Corp. Raider just made me sad because is that what really happened to all the beautiful hotels.

I recently saw The Catered Affair and though he had a tiny part I just thought he was adorable as the overwhelmed fiancee of Debbie Reynolds.

I also saw him in his TV guest shots, My favorites were in Murder She Wrote when he was older.  He still had it even though he was obviously not the sexy leading man anymore he was a sweet and caring friend and lover.

In other words I love Rod Taylor and I will miss him.  RIP Rod Taylor.

 

 

Love A Good Neil Simon Play

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Come Blow Your Horn is Neil Simon’s first play about when he finally left home and moved in with his older brother.  The play is very different from the movie.  I am not knocking the movie.  I really loved it.

I mean how can you go wrong with Frank Sinatra, Tony Bill,   Lee J. Cobb and Molly Picon.  It is a fun movie, a bit of a romp. I saw the movie before I saw the play.  My Grandma met Molly Picon, she was from the Yiddish Theater and my Grandmother and her family used to supply fabric for the costumes for the Yiddish Theater.  She had met Molly and her mother when they came in to buy material and my Grandma used to tell us great stories about it.  So i have soft spot for this wonderful and funny lady.

The movie also had Jill St James and Barbara Rush who I also admire, in fact there really isn’t anyone in the cast that I didn’t admire.  I also think that Norman Lear who wrote the screenplay is an amazing writer and producer, ( I grew up watching all his TV Shows and they were all the type of shows that pushed boundaries and taught while they made you laugh,)  but he is a different man with a different life from Neil Simon and he gave the movie his own take and it was very different then Neil Simon’s vision.

I saw the play in the 80’s and I was surprised by how different it is. It is a sweet charming and very Jewish Play.  It was what they did to his first baby that convinced Neil Simon that only one person could make his plays into screenplays from then on is Neil Simon.  So from then  on he always wrote the screenplays when his plays left the foot lights and went on to the big screens.

Come Blow Your Horn is all about growing up and finding your path to adulthood.  I guess it shouldn’t be a surprise that it led one of the best playwrights of our time to grow as an artist.  Actually I kind of love the idea of that, don’t you?

 

 

Garbo Talks Always Touches My Heart

Garbo_Talks-04_jpg_cflarge_h0iufWfZhSXK2QiKLKGQmMRZzYv_jpg_cfI just watched Garbo Talks and I remembered how much I enjoyed it.  It has a very sad premise but it is treated with a love of life and a wonderful sense of humor.

First it has an amazing cast. Lead by the amazing Anne Bancroft, she is sweet, funny and eccentric.  Ron Silver who was quirky, funny and such a sweet gentleman.  But my favorite is Catherine Hicks who is funny, sweet, gentle, quirky and nutty.  And she wanted to be an actress, I could relate to her on a real level even though she was a bit of nut, but then so am I.

 

It also has an amazing supporting cast of  Steven HillHoward Da SilvaHermione Gingold who gave sparkling performances that just touched my heart. Carrie Fisher is hilarious as the pain in the ass spoiled boring wife, she really pulls the charm from this unlikable character which just shows her talent.  And Harvey Fierstein in the first movie I had ever seen him, though he was funny he tore your heart as the lonely but sweet man on Fire Island. 

The mix of humor and pathos really pulls your heart out and then fills it up with sweet laughter.  I won’t give it away but the end is the best part of the movie. You have to stay for Anne Bancroft’s speech but you really have to stay for the very end, it is a gem.

There are few classics like Laura

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As a classic movie fan I am asked what my favorite movie is. I honestly don’t have a single favorite. I have one or two favorites in each genre’.

One film I consider a perfect film and I do not say that lightly is Laura. My other favorite from film noir mystery is The Big Sleep with Bogie and Bacall. There is something almost mystical about Laura.

The writing is first-rate, the acting is amazing and the production is beautiful. If you have never seen the movie I will not give it away because it is a murder mystery. The movie opens with that haunting music, if you have heard the theme from Laura you would not forget it. The focus is on a beautiful portrait of a beautiful woman. The voice over tells us that the woman in the portrait is dead and then goes on to tell us the back story.

We are introduced to all the suspects and the detective who is going try to solve the mystery. What is clear is that everyone loves Laura, so who killed her?

It might seem like a typical mystery and it has been copied quite often. I can guarantee if you love a good mystery with fascinating people you will fall in love this film too.

The cast is amazing Clifton Webb in his film debut as the columnist who helped Laura become the sophisticated woman and rise through the ranks. Vincent Price as her playboy boyfriend who is the most charming sleaze you had ever seen. It is one of his best performances. The great actress Judith Anderson as her only relative, she loved Laura but she was also jealous of her.

And as Laura the talented and amazing beautiful Gene Tierney. She gives a subtle, sweet yet a very strong characterization. As much as I loved Gene Tierney my favorite character in the movie was Dana Andrews. He was just amazing, he was smart, sarcastic, funny and tough. And through all that he showed his heart and that he cared. Loved him.

With page turning script by Jay Dratler, Samuel Hofenstein and Elizabeth Reinhardt and a secret writer Ring Lardner Jr. who was a black listed writer and one of the original Hollywood Ten. (If you don’t know what that is please look it up it was one of the scariest times in our history.) This film became one of the scripts of its era.

It was based on a book by Vera Caspary, a talented writer who wrote; The Murder in the Stork Club, Bachelor in Paradise and many other books. She was a highly successful author who also wrote screenplays for many of her books.

It was directed by the great and brilliant but rather scary director; Otto Preminger. He was a very talented director but he was demanding and could scare his actors out their wits. (Look him up, his life is really interesting and would make a great movie.)

What I am trying to say in my own way is that this movie was not a classic by mistake. It was created by talented people who made a beautiful film that is a mystery lovers classic. And for those who have never seen it, there are a lot of twists in it. So watch the whole movie.

Till next time…