3 posts categorized "Books"


The jalapeño jar is ajar once again

Jals275rIt was about this time two years ago that I put a lid on my jalapeño jar, meaning I took a break from reviewing current movies in favor of concentrating on the classics.

I found out, though, that Movie Memories, my presentation series that celebrates magic at the movies, need not be limited to just movies from the past.

That's a huge part of it, of course.  But members of audiences kind enough to listen to my celebration of the classics embellished with my war stories of spending over 30 years reviewing movies, going behind the scenes and interviewing every A-list movie star you can think of from Jack Lemmon to Lindsay Lohan (OK, not exactly A-list in some cases) often want to know what new films to go see.

And, there's another reason.  Hollywood filmmakers have finally taken notice of movie fans who skew a little older than teens desperately seeking only the latest comic book-inspired action flick or zombie rumble.  Filmmakers are actually lighting up screens with a scattering of movies that don't insult the intelligence of adults; films like Bernie and Quartet and Young at Heart

So that's why I'm dusting off the jalapeño rating system and settling back into cinematic aisle seats on a fairly regular basis.  I'll be primarily concentrating on movies that appeal to those of us 50 and over.  But don't be surprised to find a nod to some interesting films aimed at those a little younger that have crossover appeal.

It all begins today with my review of Lee Daniels' The Butler, the historical drama starring Forest Whitaker.  Click here to read the review.  I'd like to also urge you to once again visit my website's Movie Review page.  That's where you'll find my full-length movie reviews.  

And, if you sniff really deeply, you might just get a whiff of jalapeño juice.

September:  A month with class

Woody300If you enjoy movies and can spare an hour and a-half on Monday mornings (10-11:30 a.m.) from Sept. 9 through Sept. 30, join us for my "Big Screen Dysfunctional Families" non-credit Emeritus plus 50 movie class at Richland College in Dallas.

Only a few seats remain, so sign up ASAP (see below).

We'll get it rolling with "Talented Guys, Troubled Lives" on Sept. 9 by putting the spotlight on Woody Allen, the genius comedian, comedy writer, actor and director whose brilliance was tarnished in the eyes of many when he left girlfriend Mia Farrow for Soon-Yi, Farrow's adopted teenage daughter in 1992.

There's no denying Allen's cinematic genius, however.  Pick a clip -- any clip -- from Allen's early comedies, like "Take the Money and Run" (just below) and see if you disagree.



On Sept. 16 we'll take on "Movie Families on the Brink."  Expect for us to get into Kevin Spacey's character's mid-life crisis in "American Beauty" and Paul Newman -- in my favorite Newman performance -- driving his screen father (Melvyn Douglas) to the brink of physical breakdown as the ruthless skirt-chasing Hud in the classic Texas drama of the same name.

"Movie Families on the Brink, Take 2" takes center stage on Sept. 23.  We'll focus on Marlon Brando as the crime family patriarch in "The Godfather" and the tormented, but strong-willed young woman named "Precious."

We'll wrap this series up on Sept. 30 with "Dysfunction for Comic Fun," spotlighting the atrocious table manners of the Klumps (played by Eddie Murphy) in "The Nutty Professor" and those crazy Fockers of "Meet the Parents."

Seating is limited to an intimate 20 for "Big Screen Dysfunctional Families," so call Richland College at 972-238-6146 or 972-238-6147 to register for course number SRCZ 1000 81908 (registration number 854032) today.


Hip-hop in the Roaring Twenties?

Baz Luhrmann puts Carey Mulligan and Leonardo DiCaprio through their paces in "The Great Gatsby." (Photo courtesy: Warner Bros.)

From the Hey, Don't You Think It's A Little Late For That Department:

Now that Baz Luhrmann's "The Great Gatsby" is in theaters with a boffo $51 million and change opening weekend in the books, the Australian filmmaker with a flair for, shall we say, mass-appeal-of-the-day revisionist film-making, is feigning worry that "Gatsby" novelist F. Scott Fitzgerald might not approve of a flashy mix of hip hop and period music.

“I don’t know if he would say, ‘I was really upset you didn’t put the old-fashioned music in.’ He might have,” Luhrmann tells The Hollywood Reporter.  “He might have said, ‘Why did you put that immediate, now music? Why did you use this new thing called 3-D?’… I don’t really know what he would think,” an article posted on the Hollywood Reporter website said.

From this aisle seat, Luhrmann and (if you watch the video below) hip-hop artist Jay-Z, who draws an executive producer credit as Shawn "Jay Z" Carter, stars Leonardo DiCaprio (Gatsby), Carey Mulligan (Daisy) and former "Spider-Man" Tobey Maguire (Nick) all agree that fusing modern-day hip-hop into Roaring Twenties jazz is -- to split the difference decade-wise -- a groovy idea.

I'm not going to give a full explanation of how I think it worked today, since -- NEWSFLASH! -- Breaking News -- there's a good chance I may be reopening my Movie Review Jalapeño Jar soon.  That might just begin with my "Great Gatsby" review.

More to come on that news soon.  For now, check out the video below and see what those involved have to say about hip-hopping through F. Scott Fitzgerald territory.




Some like it auctioned

Curtis250rIt happens all the time, but it still makes one feel odd, sad and eerie, like something's just not right.

An actor struggles to launch a career -- John Wayne as the Ringo Kid in "Stagecoach" (1939), Elizabeth Taylor in "There's One Born Every Minute' (1942), Tony Curtis in "City Across the River" (1949), etc. -- they find fame and when they're gone their precious possessions are cashed in by those left behind.

The jewels Taylor loved so much.  The eye patch Wayne wore in "True Grit," and that's just the tip of the iceberg.

Now the not-so-wanted spotlight falls on the late Tony Curtis, the "Some Like It Hot" prolific actor/movie star who died Sept. 29 last year in Las Vegas.

Hollywood memorabilia, jewelry and art owned by Curtis went for over a million bucks Sept. 17 in L.A., including the yachtsman jacket Curtis wore to woo Marilyn Monroe in "Some Like It Hot"

 As is often the case, the heirs, or in this case the jilted heirs, air more than a little dirty laundry when it's time to divvy up the spoils of celebrity war.

The Hollywood Reporter website posted an item saying Curtis's children were even caught off guard that the actor's widow -- sixth and final wife Jill -- had put the items up for auction, according to daughter Allegra. 

"Jill Curtis is the only beneficiary of this auction. She did not consult us. This is not what my dad would have wanted. Jill's even selling off credit cards and driver licenses. She's also selling my dad's letters to Cary Grant, Jerry Lewis, Picasso -- these belong in a museum. It's the dissemination of the estate of Tony Curtis. He deserves better," Allegra said.

"Meanwhile, Julien's Auctions owner Darren Julien says: 'Tony came to many of our auctions with Jill and said he wanted Julien's to handle his auction after he died. I know this is exactly what he wanted,'" the Hollywood Reporter article stated.

Looking for something to read?

One of the reasons book lovers are often disappointed when one of their favorites is turned into a movie is that movies (like "The Help," for instance) have to condense plot-lines, dispense with some subplots and sometimes even combine characters.

So I'd like to recommend a couple of books by authors you'll no doubt recognize that have not, at this point anyway, made it to the big screen.

Steve Martin's "An Object of Beauty" (Grand Central Publishing, $14.20 in hardback on Amazon) is a clever, sexy novel set behind the scenes of New York art galleries.  It's an extremely entertaining read.

And so is "I Remember Nothing:  And Other Reflections" (Alfred A. Knopf, $13.49 in hardback on Amazon), Nora Ephron's funny, revealing insights into her life and her struggles to remember faces, places and things.

Recently added presentations

Those of you who visit this Web page regularly probably know that you can click on the list of Movie Memories presentations on the top left portion of the page for a description of each presentation.

There may be some new additions since you last perused them.  And recently, we added "Life Lessons I've Learned at the Movies" to the mix. 

If you have a club, group or gathering of weary senators and/or congresspersons looking for a little fun after debating the debt ceiling debacle for way too long, check out the description of "Life Lessons I've Learned at the Movies" and give us a call at 972-599-2150 to book your presentation

(Tony Curtis photo courtesy:  starpulse.com)