I Saw That!

One woman's opinions about popular entertainment.

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Location: Chicago, Illinois, United States

Amateur boxing coach, Christian (but not so heavenly-minded that I'm no earthly good) singer, writer, self-defense advocate, childfree. feminist www.smartwomenboxingtraining.org

Monday, February 26, 2007

"Saturday Night Live" Jinx?

I was hoping Eddie Murphy would win Best Supporting Actor at the Oscars last night, but alas, it was not to be. I'm wondering if the Academy has something against actors who appeared on NBC's "Saturday Night Live"

It started when Dan Ackroyd, who was a member of the very first cast of the show (1975-1980), was nominated for a Best Supporting Actor Oscar in 1989 for his work in Driving Miss Daisy. Ackroyd portrayed Daisy's son, a Southern businessman. Joan Cusack was nominated for a Best Supporting Actress Award twice -- once for Working Girl (1988) and In & Out (1997) -- for fine comedic performances. Bill Murray was nominated in 2003 for his great work in Lost In Translation. All of them, like Murphy, went home empty-handed.

So what's up? Because all of those actors are known for comedy, they're not to be taken seriously? Jamie Foxx played a lot of crazy characters on "In Living Color", but he won the Best Actor Oscar for the movie Ray, so that can't be it. They couldn't be ignored because they were on TV. Many Oscar winners appeared regularly on the small screen before they got on the big one. Look at Warren Beatty, who played a snotty teen on "The Loves of Dobie Gillis" or Tom Hanks, who was in drag most of the time on "Bosom Buddies", for example. I don't get it.

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Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Little Miss Sunshine (2006)

A family with problems -- a married couple (Greg Kinnear, Toni Colette) who bicker about the fact that the husband's failure to make motivational speaking career work, a teenage son (Paul Dano) who's taken a vow of silence and hates being around his family, a salty grandpa (Alan Arkin) who was kicked out of a retirement home, and the wife's brother (Steve Carell), a scholar who recently attempted suicide -- are given something to hope for when little Olive (Abigail Breslin) becomes a contestant in a California kids' beauty contest. They just have to get there from Arizona within a short time frame.

This Oscar nominated comedy-drama has a nice, slice-of-life feel to it. My boss remarked that it is a laugh-out-loud film, the kind that is seldom made anymore, and that's true. Breslin is adorable, and I liked the sweet relationship between her and her foul-mouthed grandfather. Kinnear's character, with his "winners and losers" mentality is grating on the nerves in the beginning, but eventually, I grew to like him. I love Toni Colette (The Sixth Sense, Muriel's Wedding) -- she is different in every movie she's in.

What tripped me out were the other little girls in the contest near the end of the movie. I swear if I had a daughter, I would NEVER put her in something like that. The girls were slathered with makeup, wearing wigs and weaves, and in clothing more appropriate for grown women. I couldn't help but think about Jon Benet Ramsey each time one of the girls paraded herself in front of the audience.

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Sunday, February 11, 2007

The Devil Wears Prada (2006)

Andi (Anne Hathaway) is a graduate of Northwestern University's journalism program. She takes a job as the assistant to Miranda Priestly (Meryl Streep), the editor-in-chief of Runway, a glamourous, glossy fashion magazine. Andi doesn't care about fashion, but if she keeps the job for a year, she can get the writing jobs she really wants. Many women would crawl over glass to be Miranda's assistant. The job will boost her resume.

Miranda is a bitch, unfortunately. She keeps everyone in the office in terror, cowering from her dry insults and withering stares. She has gone through several assistants, dismissing them as "disappointments", when in reality, Miranda's prickly personality and impossible demands have ran them off. Andi finds herself at Miranda's beck-and-call 24 hours a day, severely endangering her relationship with her friends and her boyfriend. She finds an ally of sorts in Nigel (Stanley Tucci), a cynical art director, and tries to fit in. The more Andi tries to please Miranda, the more she loses sight of her real goals.

Ms. Streep is great as the boss from hell. The audience doesn't learn a lot about her personal life until near the end, which is too bad. I would have liked to learn more about why her character came to be so difficult. The rest of the movie was the naive-girl-learns-how-the-world-really-works that I've seen too many times before. Ms. Hathaway was appealing, but her character's storyline wasn't that interesting.

I first remember watching Meryl Streep in a TV miniseries called "Holocaust", which was set in Europe during WWII. She is a fine award-winning actress who has appeared in many projects, and is known as a master of dialects; Sophie's Choice (1982) and The Bridges of Madison County (1998) are examples of her mastering accents for a role.

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Thursday, February 01, 2007

The Queen (2006)

Queen Elizabeth II (Helen Mirren) has always lived a life marked by decorum and discretion. It was how she was raised. She is not prone to changes. This is why she is annoyed at what she perceives as inappropriate behavior by her ex-daughter-in-law, Princess Diana. She is also not happy to welcome the newly elected Prime Minister, Tony Blair (Michael Sheen). He represents a political party that is in opposition to the things the monarchy has also held dear. He's also too informal for her taste. His wife, Cherie (Helen McClory), is not a fan of the monarchy, and can barely curtesy when she's in the Queen's presence.

Tragedy invades Her Majesty's world when Princess Diana is killed in an auto accident in France. The Queen wants everything handled quietly. She feels no big efforts should be made as Diana was divorced from Prince Charles (Alex Jennings); she was not a part of the Royal Family at the time of her death. It is no secret that her and her husband, Prince Phillip (James Cromwell) were not fond of Diana. After a speech where Blair describes Diana as "the people's Princess", public grief over her death swells in England. Blair and Her Majesty engage in a tug-of-war regarding her lack of response to the public regarding Diana's death.

Ms. Mirren does a fine job portraying a woman whose life is tightly controled by tradition in opposition to a world that is not impressed by pomp and circumstance as it used to be. Prince Phillip has been reported as being a difficult sort, and Mr. Cromwell captures the old man's pricky personality. The movie mixes in actual news reports and footage of Princess Diana.

Ms. Mirren is known to TV audiences from the TV series "Prime Suspect", but she had done much stellar work in films. James Cromwell was the farmer in the movie Babe (1995).

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