Documentary Review -Steve McQueen:American Icon (2017)

So, if you have hung around my blog for any length of time, you will know that I have been on a Steve McQueen kick this last year. I’ve slowly been working my way through his filmography. And although I have yet to read a full biography of his life, I have been reading up on him.

So, when I heard Fathom Events was hosting a special screening of a new documentary on McQueen I was thrilled. When I heard that it was produced by Pastor/Evangelist Greg Laurie and that the intention of the film was to share McQueen’s story of conversion to Christianity, I was intrigued. Continue reading “Documentary Review -Steve McQueen:American Icon (2017)”

Sylvia Scarlett (1935) -The Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy Blogathon

Ever since my introduction to classic film via the screwball comedy Bringing Up Baby, Katharine Hepburn has remained my favorite actress. Hepburn is famous not only for her unique personality but a long career, in which she appeared in many different roles and film genres. She is also well known for her love affair and eight film collaborations with Spencer Tracy. But perhaps because of Bringing Up Baby, I have always preferred her films with Cary Grant.  

FILM SUMMARY

Sylvia Scarlett is an unconventional film about a girl who passes herself off as a young man. When Sylvia’s father Henry Scarlett (Edmund Gwenn) gets into trouble with his illegal activities, the two of them flee France for England. Henry feels his daughter’s sex will be a hindrance to his getaway. So Sylvia (Katharine Hepburn) cuts her hair and becomes Sylvester. On their way to England they meet con man and trickster Jimmy Monkley (Cary Grant). Soon the three are running scams together. Sylvester is determined to turn their threesome honest and is eventually successful. Continue reading “Sylvia Scarlett (1935) -The Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy Blogathon”

Foreign Film Review -For a Woman (2013)

SUMMARY

For a Woman is a recent French film which explores the dynamics of marriage, family and even politics. It begins as two sisters, Tania and Anne, go through their mother’s effects after her passing. This leads Anne into a further search into her parent’s history. The film then moves into the past and the main story line surrounding their parents Michel and Léna.

Michel and Léna are Russian Jews. They have managed to survive WWII and escape from the horrors of the concentration camp. Michel falls in love with Léna at first sight. But their decision to marry is more one of gratitude and necessity for her. They migrate to the French city of Lyon where they apply for citizenship, start a family and open a men’s clothing shop.

Their life is a contented one with Léna absorbed in raising their daughter and Michel joining a small group of Communists. Everything changes with the arrival of Jean, the man who claims to be Michel’s younger brother. Because Jean is Michel’s only remaining family, he is welcomed into their home. Though Jean and Michel reminisce about their childhood, Jean is less forthcoming with his role in the war and his current secretive activities.

As Jean’s stay with them drags on tensions mount and rise to the surface. Michel begins to question his brother’s political beliefs and purpose in France. Léna wrestles with her growing attraction to her brother-in-law and her increasing discontent with her life. When Jean’s undercover life finally catches up with him, it puts the whole family in danger.

For the full review, please follow me over to The Silver Petticoat Review.

Classic Film Review -It Should Happen To You (1954)

SUMMARY

After two years living and working in New York City, Gladys Glover has almost given up on her dream of making a name for herself. A chance encounter and conversation with documentary film maker Pete Sheppard however lights a spark in her. When she happens to see a billboard for rent, that spark bursts into flame.

Gladys wastes no time spending her savings just to see her name featured in a larger than life size on that billboard. Before you know it, one billboard turns into six and then into television and radio spots. But Pete, who is now her neighbor, doesn’t understand her driving desire for a famous name, particularly when her name doesn’t stand for anything in particular. He believes that a life and name can be meaningful without it being famous.  He also sees Gladys’ newfound popularity as a stumbling block to his pursuit of a relationship with her. It doesn’t help that she is also being romanced by a wealthy playboy. But Gladys is having the time of her life, happy to be famous for no particular reason other than having her name plastered all over the city and unconcerned that others are profiting from her name or that they are laughing at her expense. Continue reading “Classic Film Review -It Should Happen To You (1954)”

Film Review -The Phantom of the Opera (2004)

I vividly remember my first exposure to The Phantom of the Opera. My family was in New York and my father took us all to see the show on Broadway. We also watched the equally famous Les Miserable that same trip. But as much as I loved the message, it was not Les Miserable which stuck with me. For weeks, I was haunted by the story of the Phantom. The music replayed continuously in my mind and I couldn’t let go of all the questions that the stage production left open ended. Most importantly, what happened to the Phantom?!

Based on the French novel by Gaston Leroux, The Phantom of the Opera has been adapted many times. But it is Andrew Lloyd Webber’s stage and film musical which is arguably the most familiar to audiences.

The Phantom of the Opera Summary

In Webber’s version, the orphaned Christine Daae has been raised in a Parisian opera house where she also works as a dancer. But she has secretly been taking voice lessons from a tutor she only knows as the Angel of Music. When an accident occurs during rehearsal Carlotta, the resident soprano, refuses to sing for opening night. This serves as Christine’s big break. She is a big success. This also brings her to the attention of the new patron of the opera house and her former childhood sweetheart, Raoul the Vicomte de Chagny.

Her public success and meeting with the Vicomte motivate her mysterious tutor to finally reveal himself to her as the Phantom of the Opera. He is not the ghost that the company thinks he is, but a highly disfigured man (both physically and emotionally) who lives beneath the opera house. But in spite of his kindness to Christine the Phantom is a man to be feared. He will stop at nothing both to dictate the management of the opera house itself and to possess the lovely and innocent Christine.

For my full summary and review, please head over to The Silver Petticoat Review.

Classic Film Review -The Philadelphia Story (1940)

I am delighted to be able to introduce you to one of my very favorite films, The Philadelphia Story.

The Philadelphia Story Summary

Tracy Samantha Lord (Katharine Hepburn) is a Philadelphia socialite who is preparing to wed for the second time. Unfortunately for her, the editor of a popular tabloid magazine has bribed his reporter and photographer as well as Tracy’s ex-husband into providing coverage of the wedding. His bargaining chip is incriminating evidence he holds against Tracy’s philandering father. So, in spite of her wish for a quiet, private wedding she agrees to this invasion of her special event.

Her path to matrimony is unexpectedly complicated by her attraction to the male reporter Macauley “Mike” Connor (James Stewart). The arrival of her ex doesn’t make things any easier. She and CK Dexter Haven (Cary Grant) had fallen deeply in love years ago, but were driven apart by her excessively high standards and his affinity for alcohol. But now Dexter has returned to a warm welcome from Tracy’s family.  He uses his relationship to her family to constantly remind her how unsuitable her new fiancé is for her.

To add to the confusion, Liz, the female photographer is in love with Mike. It’s a love quadrangle folks! Or is it a love pentagon, it’s hard to keep track of who wants who in the few crazy days leading up to the wedding.

To read my full summary and review, please head over to The Silver Petticoat Review.   

And please check out my character spotlight of Tracy Lord.

Foreign Film Friday -Ekaterina (2014-)

History is rich with people whose lives contain enough drama and significant events to still fascinate today. In recent years,  TV & Film focused particularly on female rulers who acted as heads of state in times where women were considered inferior and subservient to men. These women proved the lie of such notions by being crafty, intelligent and strong leaders. Catherine the Great of Russia is one such woman who stands out in history. Several films and television series featured her rise to power and her subsequent reign during a period when Russia was a powerful player in international affairs. However, Ekaterina is one of the few if not only onscreen productions which is not only filmed in Russia but produced exclusively by Russians for Russian television.

SUMMARY

Catherine is a German-born princess whose parents have little financial means but important connections. She is chosen as a potential bride for the Grand Duke of Russia as a pawn in a game of international intrigue. She is naïve enough to believe that she and Peter can develop a marriage based on love and respect. But Peter, whose life has been controlled by his aunt, the Empress Elizabeth, refuses her overtures as a means of rebellion against the arranged marriage.

From her arrival at the Russian court of St. Petersburg, Catherine’s life is manipulated and controlled by those with greater power and influence. She learns to keep her mouth shut and her ears open as she maneuvers through the treacherous waters of the royal court. Over the course of fifteen years, and through her many losses, Ekaterina has her innocence and illusion shattered while she learns the art of diplomacy and the cost of being the wife to the heir apparent of the Russian throne.

To read the rest of my review, please follow me over to The Silver Petticoat Review.

Film Review -Gifted (2017)


SUMMARY

Gifted is the story of Frank and his niece Mary. Mary is a math prodigy much like her deceased mother. Frank’s sister asked him to take care of Mary before she killed herself. Frank has done his best to raise Mary as his sister would have wanted and much differently than she herself was raised by their own mother. Instead of capitalizing on Mary’s genius, Frank has tried to provide Mary with a normal childhood. Well, as normal as possible with Frank’s sporadic employment. Mary’s best (and only) friend is their next door neighbor Roberta. Despite the fact that Roberta is old enough to be Mary’s mother, the two have a special connection.

When Frank decides to put Mary in public school, against Roberta’s advice, it is a surprisingly catalytic event. Though Mary has had no formal schooling it is clear she is more advanced than even her teacher. However, her social skills leave much to be desired. Against the recommendation of Mary’s principal and teacher, Frank declines to put her in a school for the gifted. He opts to leave her where he believes she will be allowed to have a normal childhood. However, this decision manages to reach the ears of his uptight, brilliant mother who wishes Mary to continue the work that her own daughter never completed. Thus a legal battle for custody of Mary ensues, with both Frank and his mother Evelyn believing they know what is best for Mary. But, who is right? And will anyone in this family come out a winner when Mary is the prize? Continue reading “Film Review -Gifted (2017)”

Television Mini-Series Review -Young Catherine (1991)

Young Catherine is an American/British/Canadian mini-series which portrays the early years of Russia’s Catherine the Great.

In 1744 Sophia Fredericke, a princess of a small German principality, is invited to the court of St. Petersburg as the potential bride for the next Russian heir. Sophia’s upbringing has been sheltered. She has a close relationship with her father, with whom she shares a devotion to their Lutheran faith. Her relationship with her mother is less warm. But it is with her mother that she travels to Russia.  Her mother is well prepared for the political and social intrigues of the Russian court, but Sophia is less so.

She arrives as a naive innocent, eager to believe in a love match between herself and Peter, the Grand Duke and future emperor. Thanks to some advice from the handsome Grigory Orlov, Sophia is smart enough to ingratiate herself with the Empress Elizabeth, Russia’s ruling sovereign. Sophia soon begins to experience the shattering of her illusions. It slowly becomes clear to her that her marriage and her role within the Russian monarchy is not made of fairy tales. Sophia must learn how to maneuver in an environment where she is viewed as at best, a pawn and at worst, a threat to others’ ambitions.  She must decide if she is willing and how much she will sacrifice for the sake of a crown.

To read my review of this series, please follow me over to The Silver Petticoat Review.

 

Duo Double Feature Blogathon -Meryl Streep & Stanley Tucci

Meryl Streep is not just one of the most celebrated actresses of our time but also in the history of film.  In my opinion, Stanley Tucci is one of the best actors of our generation. He is reminiscent of the character actors of the great golden age of classic cinema.

Though Streep is a leading lady and Tucci usually fills supporting roles, they both have the talent of utterly inhabiting the characters they play onscreen. Whether silly or serious, they don’t just act, but they become, creating a reality for the viewers which is rare in entertainment.

So, it is surprising that these two legends of the screen have only been paired together twice so far in their long careers. It is even more surprising when you watch them together in their two films, because their onscreen rapport is so natural and genuine.  Great talent is necessary to make the characters and the story come alive for an audience. But even the best of talent cannot fake the natural chemistry that must exist between actors to make the onscreen relationship between them credible. Either it is there or it is not. So let us take a look at the films of this power house duo. Continue reading “Duo Double Feature Blogathon -Meryl Streep & Stanley Tucci”