Wednesday, January 30, 2008

The Best New Musical Talent Of 2007

He looked like an unlikely star when he took to the stage in front of Simon Cowell, Amanda Holden and Piers Morgan. But as Paul Potts began Nessun Dorma for the judges of the Britain's Got Talent show the power of his astonishing performance left few in doubt that this was no ordinary singer. He received a standing ovation from the 2000 people in the audience and left Amanda Holden with tears of joy rolling down her face. Even Simon Coswell and Piers Morgan were pleasantly surprised. He had established himself as the best new music talent of 2007.

He went on to win the talent show and received the chance to perform in front of the Queen at the Royal Variety Performance 2007. Paul also received a record deal from Simon Coswell. His first C.D. is called "One Chance"

Paul was born in 1971 in Bristol from Port Talbot in south Whales. He had appeared in four amateur opera productions and in a concert for the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and had plans for a summer tour with the Orchestra.

Potts is said to have first sung Opera in 1999 in a karaoke competition,[when he was 28 years old] dressed as Pavarotti, although he had said during the show that his voice had always been a source of solace in the past when bullied, so he would have sung from a younger age. That same year he appeared in the Michael Barrymore talent show "My Kind of Music". Although he did not win the competition, he won £8,000, which helped to pay for singing lessons in Italy.

For the Bath UK based amateur company Bath Opera, he has performed on four occasions in the roles of Don Basilio {Marriage of Figaro), Don Ottavio (Don Giovanni) and the title role in Verdi's Don Carlos, and Turandot as Prince of Persia and Herald. He also sang for the Royal Philharmonic in front of an audience of 15,000 and toured Northern Italy as a soloist.

However, after spending £20,000 on his career hopes, including a masterclass in which he sang for Luciano Pavarotti, doctors discovered a benign tumor during treatment for appendicitis in 2003. Then, shortly after his recovery, he broke his collar bone in a bike accident
Instead of thinking about singing, he was lying on the sofa in agony. Now when he goes on stage his wife of 4 years Julie doesn't want people to say "break a leg" because Paul probably would. For a time he worked as a shelf-stacker in Tesco and ended up as the manager at Bridgend's Carphone Warehouse,

After winning Britain's Got Talent, Paul has been busy circling the globe on promotion tours. It is amazing how fast his life has changed since the show. He is one of those rare individuals that has found out what can only be described as an "Over Night Success" His videos on the Internet have already received over 10 million views. He is a person who has been blessed with a great talent and deserves as much recognition as he is receiving. I do believe that there is a little Paul Potts in every one of us.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

The Saddest Movie That I Ever Watched

Maybe it the sign of the times that I would pick Flight 93 as the saddest movie that I had ever seen.Usually I like movies were I do not know the ending but after reading about how the passengers on this ill-fated flight took such heroic actions I knew that I had to go see this movie.

Flight 93 was released in January of 2006 and it was directed by Peter Marbkle. It tellsus about how four terrorists wanted to turn flight 93 into a weapon of mass destructionbut forty brave and heroic passengers and crew stopped it from reaching its final target.Flight 93 was a scheduled flight from Newark International Airport (now Newark LibertyInternational Airport) in Newark, New Jersey, to San Francisco International Airport, then continuing on to Narita International Airport near Tokyo, Japan, on a different aircraft.It was one of four aircraft's that were hijacked that fateful day of September 11,2001. They crashed near Shanksville, Pennsylvania when passengers foiled the terrorist plot. It premiered January 30, 2006 on the A&E Network and was re-broadcast several timesthroughout 2006 and 2007.

It had 182 seats but was carrying only 37 passengers (including the four hijackers) andseven crew members: two pilots, the captain Jason M. Dahl and his first officer, LeRoyHomer Jr.; and five flight attendants. Because one passenger had booked two seats, some early accounts said there were 38 passengers on board. The four hijackers were seated in first class.
I thought that this film came off rather well despite the fact that it had a small budget.I remember thinking that these were only actors portraying real people but I lost that thought soon after this film started. It made me realize that this could probably happen again despite all of the security measures that have been put in place. It brings back that fateful day as if it were yesterday. Even though I knew the outcome I found myself glued to my seat and in my mind I kept on saying "Come on guys, keep on pushing"None of it is easy to watch. But flight 93 family members worked closely with thefilmmakers, while others who lost loved ones on 9/11 worry if it will be handled sensitively.

It had to be one of the most challenging movies that I had ever watched. That neverto be forgotten phrase "lets roll"later became a battle cry for those fighting Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan. Even President George Bush has been heard using it. Watching this filmmore than once still brings back emotions, and even though this film had to be the saddest movie that I ever watched, I believe that it is an important movie for it reminds us to never forget what happened on that fateful day not that long ago.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

A Most Delightful Classic Movie

Harvey is a 1950 film based on Mary Chase's Pulitzer Prize-winning play of the same name, directed by Henry Koster, and starring James Stewart and Josephine Hull. After watching it on Wednesday night, I must admit it was the most delightful classic movie that I had seen in a long time. It seems that all of us, at one time or another, just need a break from reality so that we can just relax and enjoy life. This excellent lighthearted film was adapted from the Pulitzer Prize winning hit play written by Mary Chase.
Elwood's attraction for us is perhaps what attracted him so much to James Stewart. Elwood is happy with himself and his life and even more importantly, he makes others happy with their lives. That is the great magic of Elwood and Harvey: they make others happy and they bring peace and a measure of contentment to almost everyone who know them.

Elwood P. Dowd tries, all through the movie,to introduce Harvey to everyone he meets but the only one who eventually sees him is Dr. Chumley,[Cecil Kellaway]the psychiatrist. Dowd's sister Veta[Josephine Hull] sometimes acknowledges the existence of Harvey but only when she's under extreme stress.

The story is about a man whose best friend is a "pooka" named Harvey—in the form of a six-foot, three and one half-inch-tall rabbit. Stewart plays Elwood P. Dowd, a middle-aged,individual whose best friend is an invisible six-foot, three-and-a-half-inch tall rabbit named Harvey. During the opening scenes Elwood has been driving his sister and niece Myrtle Mae Simmions [Victoria Horne]to distraction by introducing everyone he meets to his friend, Harvey. His sister, Veta tries to have Elwood committed to a Sanatorium. She admits to the attending psychiatristDr Lyman Sanderson [Charles Drake]that, after so many years of putting up with it, she sees Harvey every once in a while. This causes Dr. Sanderson to let Elwood out and lock Veta up. Dr.Chumley decides that he doesn't want to get sued, and to save the reputation of the Sanatorium, he must bring Elwood back. He then fires Dr. Sanderson.

After going through several ordeals Elwood is finally tracked down but he is unaware of his sisters plan to have him committed with the help of Judge Gaffney [William Lynn]and Dr. Chumley.Dr. Sanderson, nurse Miss Kelly [Peggy Dow] and assistant Duane Wilson [Jesse White] track downElwood in Charlie's Bar. Elwood tells the story of how he came to meet Harvey and then he is taken back to the Sanatorium where he explains his philosophy of life to Dr. Chumley, who by this time has admitted to Elwood that he has also met Harvey.He rehires Dr.Sanderson. Dr.Sanderson convinces Elwood to come into his office where he will give him a serum that will stop him from seeing Harvey.But in the meantime Elwood's sister is told by the cab driver about all of the other people he had driven home after they had been given the same serum. He tells her that they were transformed into "normal human being" and you know what stinkers they are. Veta then decides to stop the injection of the serum.The final scene involves Harvey remaining with Dr. Chumleyor continuing his life with Elwood. He gets to the gates and decides to stay with Elwood. This is such a delightful movie that at the very end of it, I was actually cheering for Harvey's decision to stay with Elwood.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Flags Of Our Fathers Movie Review

DreamWorks, Warner Bros. and Paramount present a film directed by Clint Eastwood and written by William Broyles Jr. and Paul Haggis, based on the book by James Bradley with Ron Powers.It's the life stories of the six men who raised the flag at the battle of Iwo Jima which was a turning point on World War Two.

The film opens with interlocking scenes from past and present, showing the battle under way and being remembered, with voice-overs from survivors. All the major themes are being introduced, although we will discover that only later. Then, after a tense prelude at sea,it focuses on the initial American landing, which was just too quiet; no Japanese fire was encountered and the troops advanced inland easily. Suddenly the troops were being ambushed by concealed enemy positions. There were over 2,000 dead on the first day and the majorityof them were Americans.

There were five Marines and one Navy Corpsman photographed raising the U.S. flag on Mt. Suribachi by Joe Rosenthal on February 23, 1945. "Flags of Our Fathers" is the story of three of the six surviving servicemen, John "Doc" Bradley (Ryan Phillippe), Pvt. ReneGagnon (Jesse Bradford), and Pvt. Ira Hayes (Adam Beach), who fought in the battle totake Iwo Jima. It was one of the most bloody battles of the war and the picture became one of the most famous pictures of the entire war . I[t took another month to take this island].Three of the marines were killed in action and the other three serviceman were taken out of the battle and flown home. These men were used to help sell war bonds. It also shows the effect that the memories of war would have on these veterans for the rest of their lives.

Most Americans thought that the flag raising tool place at the end of the battle when infact the picture was taken on the fifth day of a 35 day battle. Iwo Jima was one of the most strategic islands of the whole war. It was an airbase for the Japanese and it was also a radio station that served an an advanced warning station whenever American bombers from the south were approaching. The Americans needed this base so that they could use it as a staging area for their bombers whenever they could afford to invade the Japanese mainland. It was actually the first battle of World War Two that took place on Japanese soil.

With no chance for victory the Japanese just wanted to inflict the most amount of casualtiesthat they could.They were well dug in with a system of interlocking tunnels and their big gun positions were shielded by steel doors that swung shut after every firing.

The battle resulted in 29 Medals of Honor winners, but at what a terrible price. The marines lost one third of their of their whole WWII combat deaths during this battle and almost all of the 22,000 Japanese died, some by their own hands.The film depicts what the true motive wasi n bringing the three remaining servicemen home. The Government was in dire straits because they had run out of lenders for the war effort and their funds were drying up rather quickly.The Rosenthal picture that was taken on Iwo Jima sparked the public opinion of the war effort and the money that those men raised turned the financial tide.

Of the three servicemen who returned home to a hero's welcome only one,Doc, seemed to havea happy life and ended up being a successful undertaker. Gagnon ended up with a lot of deadend jobs and ended up being bitter for the rest of his life. And Haynes returned to his old reservation where he would end up literally drinking himself to death.

The film made the top ten list of the National Board of Review. Eastwood also earned a GoldenGlobe nomination for Directing. The film was nominated for two Academy Awards - for Best Soundand Sound Editing. I thought that it was a story that had to be told and Eastwood did a good job of putting this story on film. It seems to me that the older he gets, the better he gets.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

The Guns of Navarone

The guns of Navarone was a 1961 movie about a British Commando team that is sent on almost impossible mission of destroying a massive German gun emplacement after crossing occupied Greek territory. This film was directed by J. Lee Thompson and had some of the biggest stares of the day were in it. This movie was based on a well known 1957 novel about World War Twoby Scottish writer Alistair MacLean.The sweeping landscape photography and several cultural touches truly captured the beauty and flavor of Greece and its proud people. Even today, the people of Greece, hold this film in high praise.

It starred Gregory Peck, David Niven and Anthony Quinn. The plot tells of an Allied commando team to destroy a seemingly impregnable German fortress that threatens Allied naval ships in the Aegean Sea, and prevents 2,000 isolated British troops from being rescued.

The film opens with an aerial view of the Greek Islands, and a narrator setting the sceneThe year is 1943, and 2000 British soldiers are holed up on the island of Kheros in the Aegean near Turkey. Rescue by the Royal Navy is impossible because of massive guns on the nearby island of Navarone. Time is short, because the Germans are expected to launch an assault on the British forces, to draw Turkey into the war on the Axis' side.

Using airstrikes in trying to dislodge these guns prove fruitless, so a team of commandos has been assembled to try and go in and destroy these monster emplacements. Lead by Major RoyFranklin (Anthony Quayle), they are Capt. Keith Mallory (Gregory Peck), Andrea Stavros(Anthony Quinn), a Colonel in the defeated Greek army, Corporal Miller (David Niven),an explosives expert, Greek-American street tough Spyros Pappadimos (James Darren) and"Butcher" Brown (Stanley Baker), an engineer and expert knife fighter.

They sail across the Aegean Sea disguised as Greek fisherman. After blowing up a German patrol boat Malloy confides in Miller that Stavros blames Miller for the death of his wife and children and intends to kill him after the war. After the ship that they are on capsizes during a violent storm Franklin is badly injured and later the injuries lead to gangrene after they had to climb a steep cliff. One of the central points of this film is to carry Franklin to safety despite the apparent problem that

Franklin's injuries will slow them down. Malloy lies to Franklin about the mission. Soon afterwords they are attacked by German soldiers and Andrea is left behind with his snippier rifle to help in their escape. They then end up meeting with the local resistance fighters,Spyros's sister Mania [Irene Papas] and her fiend Anna [Gia Scala].

But throughout the next couple of days their mission is always delayed by the onslaught of German soldiers who always seem to know where they are at. They are finally capturedand escape, but it was necessary to leave Franklin behind so that he could get medical attention. They then discover that their explosives, that they had saved from the shipwreak, had been sabotaged. Miller figures out that Anna is the saboteur and Marie shoots her as a price that she has to pay for being disloyal. It's a touching scene that almost leaves you feeling sorry for Anna because of the reason that she betrayed them.

The final scenes have the team spilitting up to achieve their objective. All of them escape to a waiting boat except for Pappadimos and Brown who had given their lives creating adistraction.The guns and fortifications are destroyed in a spectacular explosion.Stavros,who has fallen in love with Maria, decides to return to Navarone with her and shakes hands with Mallory, seemingly having given up his plan to kill him.

The fans of Gregory Peck were not disappointed when this film was released. There is plenty of action and the ways that the characters, as diverse as they were, seemed to fit together made this one of the most enjoyable war films that were ever produced. Even most of the Germans portrayed were more realistic of everyday human being instead of the usual sub human beast that are often seen in other movies.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

The Maltese Falcon --One Of Humphrey Bogart's Greatest Films

Sam Spade, a private detective, gets involved in a murderous hunt for a valuable statuette. The release date for this film was October 18, 1941 just a few short weeks before the beginning of World War Two. It was directed by first timer John Houston and adapted from Dashiell Hammeff's novel of 1930. The Maltese Falcon is now known as one of the best classic's of all times.

Private eye Sam Spade [Humphrey Bogart] and his partner Miles Archer [Jerome Cowan] are hired by Bridget O'Shaughnessy [Mary Astor] to follow a man named Floyd Thursby, who supposedly ran off with her younger sister. After accepting the case Spade has a gut feeling that tells him that this women may end up getting him in trouble. Less than 24 hours later Spade is informed by the police that his partner, Miles Archer was killed tailing Thursby. Soon Spade is informed that he is the main suspect in the killing of Thursby who they assume killed Archer.
That following morning Spade is visited by Archer's widow with whom he had been having an affair. She thinks that Spade had killed her husband so that they could spend more time together. He tells her to leave and then informs his sectary to remove any trace of Archer belongings out of the office. Later that same day Spade is visited by a man named Joel Cairo[Peter Lorre] who offers him $5,000 if he could retrieve a figurine of a black bird. And he then is again contacted by O'Shaughnessy, but Spade senses somewhat of a connection between her and Cairo. After Spade drops a hint of his meeting with Cairo, she informs Spade that she must meet with Cairo and asks Spade for his assistance in arranging a meeting.

It seems that Spade's gut instinct is right because Cairo has offered O'Shaughnessy money for the black bird figurine, but O'Shaughnessy insists she does not have it at that moment.The subject of a mysterious man comes up and both Cairo and O'Shaughnessey seemed to be scared by him. After a verbal argument ensues the police show up at Spade's office and inform him that they knew about the affair that he had been having with Archer's wife. After they hear the screaming coming from his apartment the police intervene and take Cairo into custody for some questing.

The next day Spade meets Cairo but notices that some one is following him. He discovers that this man works for the mysterious mister "G" who turns out to be a man named Casper Gutman who tells Spade that he will pay very handsomely for the black bird. He tells Spade that the bird is very valuable and that he has been looking for it for the past seventeen years. Spade then appears to be getting dizzy, but he did not realize that Gutman had drugged him until it was too late.

When Spade awakens he returns to his office and tells his sectary Effie the story about the Maltese Falcon, the black bird. A little while later a person named Captain Jacobe shows up at his office injured. He is carrying a package that drops to the floor as he then dies of the gunshot wounds that he sustained earlier. Inside the package was the figurine falcon. Spade stores the item at the bus station lost luggage. He returns home and finds some guests waiting for him. One of them, Gutman, hands Spade $10,000 cash in exchange for the bird. It is in this final meeting that Spade learns the truth about who was behind some of the murders that had taken place. Spade finally gives the figurine to Gutman for the $10,000 but upon examination it turns out to be a fake.

Afterwords Spade calls the police and informs them of what has taken place and then he finds out who killed his partner and the reason why. He turns her over to the police and the movie ends when Archer's widow shows up again at his office.

Actually this was the third filming of the Maltese Falcon but it is the one that is best remembered and the only one that turned out to be a classic. This film is one of those "rare must see pictures" of all times. Writing about it does not do it justice.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

The Best Female Police Duo

One of the most compelling and convincing TV drama's ever to hit the airways was a sitcom about two New York City female detectives. The release date for this show was 25 March 1982.It's ironic that one of best shows on T.V. was actually canceled after the 82/83 season, but after viewers wrote into CBS protesting the cancellation, "Cagney and Lacey" was reborn again in March of 1984 and would run until 1988. Cagney and Lacey was directed by Ted Post with writers Barbara Avedon and Barbara Corday.

It is considered to be one of the first American television's serious
drama series with two female leads. The show starred Sharon Gless and veteran television actress Tyne Daly as N.Y.City police detectives who led very different lives. Gless played the part of Christine Cagney who was a single, career and goal seeking woman while Daly,who played Mary Beth Lacey, was a married women who was also a mother. Al Waxman starred as their supervisor, Lt.Bert Samuels. Dick O'Neilplayed the part of Cagney's alcoholic father and Dan Shor played the part of Detective Jonah Newman from 1985 to 1986.

During the years that Cagney and Lacey were on their would be some episodes that were considered groundbreaking by some and taboo by others. The bombing of an abortion clinic that some affiliate stations refused to air. The birth of Lacey's third child and probably the most controversial episode 'The City is Burning' that was based on the 1986 racial incident in Queens Howard Beach. The use of racial slurs such as the word "nigger" that are taboo in prime-time. Another episode that brought cries of indifference dealt with the subject of Aids in the school system which is still a touchy subject in some districts even today.

Before Cagney and Lacey there was a stereotyped conception of what a police woman was. She was often seen as a person who would only escort prisoners or who would be passing out some parking tickets. The idea that a woman could reach a high rank in the department was almost impossible. What is really extraordinary is the way their differences were so clearly established, and yet we know without question that they could rely on each other completely.

This show helped change the conception of what women could do in police work. Cagney and Lacey were two women who were treated as real people.They experienced most of the situations that only two people, who work so closely together day after day, would encounter. That is why Cagney And Lacey were the first and best female police duo on T.V.

Monday, January 14, 2008

One Of The Best Cop Based Films Ever

The American Gangster is a movie about how a detective,Richard Crowe staring as Det. Richie Roberts,works to bring down the drug empire of Frank Lucas, played by Denzel Washington, who was a heroin kingpin from Manhattan. Det. Richie has a bad reputation in the police department because he turns in $1 million dollars in drug money that he found. Any officer who would not share such a find with his fellow officers is considered not very trustworthy.

Frank Lucas' career would be an ideal case study for a business school. Inheriting a crime empire from his famous boss Bumpy Johnson, he cornered the New York drug trade with successful capitalist strategies. He personally flew to Southeast Asia to buy his product directly from the suppliers, used a clever importing scheme to get it into the United States, and sold it at higher purity and lower cost than anyone else was able to. He smuggled the drugs into the country in the coffins of dead Americans soldiers coming home from Viet-Nam. At one point he was making upwards of one million dollars a day.At the end, he was worth more than $150 million, and got a reduced sentence by cutting a deal to expose three-quarters of the NYPD narcotics officers as corrupt.

In this film Frank does not play the part of the typical stereotyped drug lord. He does not wear any fancy rings on his fingers or any gold around his neck. He is married to a loving wife and even takes his mother to church on Sunday. The authorities take almost forever to even identify him and even then they were still hesitant because they did not believe that the Mafia drug trade in Harlem could be taken over by such a person. But Frank did not only take over the drug trade, he actually lived to talk about it.

On the other hand, Detective Richie,is running into his own roadblocks by the police themselves. It seems that he is on a one man crusade and he will not bend. His own colleague [Josh Brolin] threatens him, but Det. Richie is determined to bring Lucas down.

Ridley Scott does a superb job as the director of this film which is in fact a true story.Both Denzel Washington and Russell Crowe are perfect in the criminal and cop relationship. This film is actually about a successful business enterprise that just happens to be illegal, not unlike some of the recent scandals involving some American corporations. I would classify this film as one of the best cop based films ever.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

No Country for Old Men Movie Review

Miramax Films presents a film written and directed by Ethan Coen and Joel Coen. It is a critically acclaimed 2007 film adaptation of the novel of the same name by Cormac McCarthy. The film features Tommy Lee Jones, Josh Brolin, and Javier Bardem.

If you like the kind of film that surprises you and takes away your breath at the same time,this is it. It tells the story of a drug deal gone very wrong and the ensuing cat-and-mouse drama as three men crisscross each others paths in the desert landscape of 1980 West Texas. Violence and mayhem ensue after a hunter stumbles upon some dead bodies, a stash of heroin and more than $2 million in cash near the Rio Grande.

The local sheriff, Ed Tom Bell (Tommy Lee Jones), tells of the changing times as the region becomes increasingly violent. The key character of Anton Chigurh (Javier Bardem) and his weapon of choice — cattle gun — are introduced as he escapes police custody and steals a car by using the cattle gun to kill the car's driver. But at the same time a hunter hunting pronghorn come across a collection of corpses and one Mexican near death which was the result of a drug deal gone bad. The hunter Llewwlyn Moss [Josh Brolin] also finds two million dollars in a suitcase and decides that he will keep the money and leave the Mexican to die, but has a change of heart and returns with some water for the man.

But this good deed sets off a cat and mouse game in which the hunter and the hunted switch roles as a gang of Mexicans,Chigurh,Moss and Bell chase each other and the two million dollars across the Texas and Mexican landscape. But unbeknown to Moss, Chigurh, who was hired to retrieve the money , has a transponder hidden in it. And Chigurh, who is a professional hit man, will kill anyone who gets in his way.

In the meantime Moss, not knowing anything about the transponder, sends his wife Carla Jean [Kelly MacDonald] out of town and jumps from motel to motel trying to elude not only Chigurh but also the Mexicans. While all of this is happening, Bell main concern is to try and protect Moss after he finds him. Chigurh is closing in on Moss because of the tracking device.

Chigurh ends up killing some of the Mexicans and a rival hit-man named Carson Wells who is played by Woody Harrelson. Moss arranges a meeting with Carla Jean in El Pasco to give her the money and tries to get her out of danger. All of the action now takes place at the motel when all of the main characters converge there, but not at the same time. Moss is killed by the Mexicans in a bloody shootout. Sheriff Bell shows up and enters a room to discover that the vent covers have been removed and knows that the money had been removed and then leaves, not knowing that Chigurh is hiding in that same motel.

Bell finally gets the opportunity to visit his uncle Ellis [Barry Corbin] and informs him that he is going to retire because he is getting leery of the changing times, but Ellis accuses him of just being vain.
Some time later Chiguth confronts the widowed Carla Jean and offers her the same "coin flip"opportunity that he had offered the gas station owner, Carla Jean refuses and in the next scene it shows Chigurh examining the soles of his boots, as if to indicate that he had committed another murder. He ends up in a car accident but he manages to elude the police and escapes again.
At the very end of this story Bell is reflecting on the many choices he had in his life. He tells his wife[Tess Harper] about the two dreams that he has had while he is experiencing an uneasy retirement at home.
Highly praised by critics, the film received several Golden Globe Award nominations. Roger Ebert called it "as good a film as the Coen brothers... have ever made and gave it a four star review and it appeared on many of critics top 10 list of 2007.It took Best Picture at 2008 Critics’ Choice Awards.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

The Ultimate Love Story

Away From Her is an English-Canadian film which debuted at the 2006 Toronto International Film Festival and also played in the Premier category at the 2007 Sundance Film Festival. The feature-length directorial debut of English-Canadian actress Sarah Polley, the film is based on Alice Munro's short story "The Bear Came Over the Mountain."

It was executive produced by Atom Egoyan and distributed by Lionsgate Films.The cast also includes Olympia Dukakis, Michael Murphy, Wendy Crewson, Alberta Watson, and Kristen Thomson.

The film stars Gordon Pinsent and Julie Christie as a couple whose marriage is tested when Christie's character begins to suffer from Alzheimer's and moves into a nursing home, where she transfers her affections,after loosing all memory of her husband, to another man, Aubrey, a wheel chair-bound mute who also is a patient at the nursing home.

This film starts out as we are observing Fiona [Julie Christie] and her retired husband Grant [Gorden Pinsent] have just returned home from a cross country skiing vacation and they are doing one of the many necessary everyday tasks of washing dishes. Grant hands his wife a frying pan and Fiona puts it away, right into the freezer. She is slowly slipping away into the beginning stages of Alzheimer's disease. After she gets lost near her own home she makes the decision that she will check herself into an institution.

To Grant's dismay Fiona is not allowed any visitors for the first 30 days. Unbearable as it is, Grant drops her off at the institution and then he returns 30 days later. At first everything seems to be okay with her until he discovers that his wife actually doesn't recognizes him.

This film is a generous and a deceptively simple portrait brought to life. During the first few months of her confinement she keeps on slipping further and further away, and you can see that distant look in her eyes. Then one day when Grant is visiting her he notices that she is wearing a garish sweater, something that he knew she would never wear. At that point, Grant knows that his wife is gone forever. Not physically but still gone.

This was Sarah Polley first directorial debut and she did a amazing job with such a delicate subject matter. And I say Bravo to the cast and crew for turning in such a superb performance. This film was a true ode to the realities of true love.

The film received vastly favorable reviews from critics and earned Julie Christie the 2007 Critics Choice Award as well and a best actress nomination for the 65th Golden Globe awards. This was in so many ways a true love story.

Friday, January 11, 2008

One Of The Best Sitcoms Ever Produced

Who could ever forget one of the best T.V. shows of all times. Taxi was a sitcom that dealt with the crew of a New York City taxicab company that go about there job while they dream of greater things in life. The show ran from 1978 until 1983. It was one of the best comedy series ever produced for television. The show was produced by the John Charles Walters Company and funded by Paramount.

Taxi Judd Hirsch's Alex Reiger was a main character, but his importance seemed secondary to the centrality of the ensemble and the Sunshine Cab Company itself. He was the one that everyone turned to for advice. The shows success was due to its excellent writing and award-winning directing using his innovative four-camera technique, and its largely unknown but talented cast Danny DeVito's Louie DePalma soon became one of the most despised men on T.V.,possibly the most unredeemable and worthless louse of a character ever to reside on the small screen. Nothing seems beneath him. He lives with his mother and TV guide ranked De Palma first on the list of the 50 greatest TV characters of all time.

The show launched successful careers for for Danny DeVito and Christopher Lloyd who played Reverand Jim Ignatowski, the zany and unpredictable 60's burned out character. He was once a hard-working, serious student at Harvard University, but one bite of a drug laden brownie was enough to get him hooked and send him into a downward spiral. He occasionally exhibits unexpected talents, such as the time he and Elaine were at a party and Jim sits down and plays the piano masterfully. As he stands up after his recital, and with the perplexed look on his face, he turns to Elaine and states "I must have taken music lesions someplace" The man is definitely in his own world and that's what makes his character so lovable.TV Guide placed the character of Ignatowski 32nd on its list of the 50 greatest TV characters of all times.

It also helped the careers of Tony Danza who played Tony Banta and Marilu Henneras the sexy Elaine O'Connor-Nardo. One character, Andy Kaufman who played Latka Graves died of cancer in 1984. Another character Bobby Wheeler, the conceited actor, played by Jeff Conway, has appeared in various shows throughout the years. He has had some problems with drug addition and we all wish him the best of luck in his personal and professional life.

Taxi is one of the most lauded television shows in American history. During its run, the sitcom was nominated for 31 Emmy Awards and won 18, including three for Outstanding Comedy Series. It was also nominated for 25 Golden Globes, with four wins (three for best TV Series -Musical/Comedy). In 1979, it received the Humanities Prize in the 30 minute category. Despite winning fourteen Emmy Awards in only five seasons on TV, the program's ratings were rock-bottom for its final seasons. It thrives in syndication and is still well loved by many viewers and I personally think that Taxi was one of the best sitcoms ever produced.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Who Is The Highest Paid Hollywood Actresses

Reese Witherspoon is actually a descendant of John Witherspoon who just happened to be one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence. Do you think that her somewhat of a free spirit attitude is inherited?

Laura Jeanne Reese Witherspoon was born on March 22, 1976 at Southern Baptist Hospital (now Memorial Medical Center) in New Orleans, Louisiana. She was the second child born to Dr. John Witherspoon and Betty Reese. Her father was a military surgeon specializing in the ear, nose and throat. Her mother was a Registered Nurse who later became a Ph.D in pediatric nursing. Reese spent the first four years of her life in
Wiesbaden, Germany where her father served as a lieutenant colonel in the US Army reserves. Shortly after, John moved the family back to the States, settling in Nashville, Tennessee.

Witherspoon broke into modeling and lands an acting gig at age 7, shooting a TV commercial for a florist. She continued doing local T.V.
commercials and takes first place in a Ten-State Talent Fair at age 11. Then at the tender age 14, Witherspoon debuts in the coming-of-age drama The Man in the Moon, giving her first onscreen kiss to costar Jason London. She makes her television premiere the same year in the Diane Keaton directed drama Wildflower. In 1996, Witherspoon's performance in Freeway established her as a up and coming rising star and led to roles in three major 1998 movies: Overnight Delivery, Pleasantville, and Twilight. In the following year Witherspoon appeared in the critically acclaimed Election, which garnered her a Golden Globe nomination and saw her breakout role as Elle Woods in the box office hit, that I thoroughly enjoyed, Legally Blonde. In 2002 she starred in Sweet Home Alabama, which became her biggest commercial film success to date. 2003 saw her
return as lead actress and executive producer of Legally Blonde 2. In 2005, Witherspoon received worldwide attention and praise for her portrayal of June Carter Cash in Walk the Line, a role that earned her an Academy Award, a Golden Globe Award and a Screen Actors Guild Award for Best Actress. And all of this just before her 30th birthday.

She married actor Ryan Phillippe in 1999 and they have two beautiful children Ava and Deacon. But after only a few years together they got divorced in 2007.[The couple first met at Witherspoon's 21st birthday party.]

In 2004, Witherspoon starred in Vanity Fair, adapted from the 19th-century classic novel Vanity Fair and directed by Mira Nair and early-2005,Shestarred alongside Mark Ruffalo in the romantic comedy Just Like Heaven where she played Elizabeth Masterson, a dedicated San Francisco doctor who is involved in a car accident and becomes a spirit, her spirit, returns to her old apartment and she later finds true love there. And in 2006 she stared in the political thriller Rendention and it was her first appearance in two years and in 2007 she started filming for the comedy Four Christmasses.

In 2007, she was selected by People and the entertainment news program Access Hollywood as one of the best dressed female stars of the year.[86][87] That same year, Witherspoon established herself as the highest-paid actress in the American film industry, earning US$15 to US$20 million per film. What an amazing feat to accomplish considering the fact that Witherspoon is still so very young.Of course the competetion for this covited award seems to changing every few months. What a great race to be in. Names like Julie Roberts, Nicole Kidman, Nicole Kidman, Drew Barrymore, Renee Zellweger, Angelina Jolie and Cameron Diaz, just to name a few.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

The Best Black And White Film Ever Made

When one thinks of black and white movies,they associate some of the films featured on Turner's Classic Movies but there was actually a film made on purpose in 1993 that showed that color is not always the best choice. Schindler's list was a film directed Steven Spielberg and stared Liam Neeson as Oskar Schindler ,who was a factory owner in Poland in World War 11. It was based on the book "Schindler's Ark" by Thomas Keneally, Schindler actually used Jews to start his own factory but once he witnesses the horror that was being bestowed upon the Jews by the Nazi's, hedecides to start saving them. There were also unforgettabel performances by Ralph Fiennes as the SS Officer and Ben Kingsley as Schindler's accountant Itshak Stern.

The film starts off to reveal a womanizing, Nazi business man who profited off of slave labor. The Nazi business man is of course Oskar Schindler. Oskar who was an unsuccessful businessman who arrived from Czechoslovakia to take advantage of cheap labor. He has a love for good wine, beautiful women, and pursues happiness through the success of his business. But while he is on his journey to a successful business, millions of Jews were being killed during a time which is labeled as one of the darkest periods of World War 11. As Oskar made money, untold numbers of people were being murdered. That's when the self-centered, often money hungry Oskar decides to step and gives up his goal of having a successful business to save the lives of over 1,000 Jews.

Schindler pleases the Nazis and enjoys his new-found wealth and status as "Herr Direktor," while Stern handles all administration. Stern even suggests that Schindler hire Jews instead of Poles because they cost less because the Jews themselves get nothing and their wages are paid to the Reich.In the meantime, Stern forges a number of documents that protect the Jews from being sent to the concentration camps.

When SS Officer Amon Goth arrives he is ordered to clear out the Krsakow ghetto by any means possible. Schindler befriends him [after watching a massacre] and convinces him, through bribery, to spare the lives of his workers so that they could move into a sub camp. But as fate would have it,Goth receives orders from Berlin to destroy every thing and ship the remaining Jews to Auschwitz. Schindler convinces Goth that he needs his workers in his old home of Zwittau-Brinnlitz. Goth sees an opportunity to make more money and agrees.

Schindler has to intervene once again at Auschwitz, because of a misdirected train, where the women are now being gassed. He bribes the camp commander to spare the women. Once they arrive in Zwittau-Brinnlitz Schindler takes firm control through the use of bribing even more Nazi officials.But the end of the war is coming and he must now flee the oncoming Soviet Red Army. He leaves in the middle of the night with his wife. We learn that the survivors and descendants of the 1,100 Jews saved by Schindler now number over 6,000.

This film has to be one of the most important films of the 20th century. It wasdone almost entirely in black and white with one of the few exceptions, a little girl wearing a red coat. This film won 7 Oscars and The American Film Institute voted it #9 on their AFI's 100 Years... 100 Movies series, and in 2007 was voted in at #8 for the tenth anniversary list. In addition, the American Film Institute voted Liam Neeson's Schindler as the 13th greatest movie hero of all time, while Ralph Fiennes' Göth was voted the 15th greatest villain in the AFI's 100 Years, 100 Heroes and Villains series. In 2006 it was selected as the 3rd most inspiring movie of all time by AFI's 100 Years.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

A Tribute To Eddie Murphy

Since I just read that Eddie Murphy was just married, I figured that it was about time that I paidtribute to one of the best and most talented comics that has entertained us throughout the years.

Eddie Murphy was born in Brooklyn,New York on the 3rd of April 1961 . His father died when Eddiewas quite young and he,his brother and step brother were raised by his mother who was a telephone company employee along with his stepfather who worked as a foreman at a Breyer's Ice cream plant. Even as a young person his comic talents were evident and by the ripe old age of 15 he was writingand performing at youth centers and local bars. When he made it to the Manhattan Comic Strip his talents were recognized by the club's co-owners [Robert Wachs and Richard Tienken] and they agreed to help Eddie and manage his career. The got Eddie an audition for Saturday Night Live in 1975. He was eventually cast as a featured member and became a full fledged star by the end of his first season.

His first big movie success came in 1982 when he, along with Nick Nolte, stared in 48 hours.Then in1984 he stared in Beverly Hills Cop, the movie that would put Eddie into the superstar status.This film would would earn him his third Golden Globe nomination and prove to be one of the biggest domestic money makers in motion picture history. His portrayal as a Detroit cop in pursuit of his friends murderers earned him his signature character that would stick with him for decades.And one of my favorite movies had him paired with John Landis in the 1988 film 'Coming To America"

But after a few major hits and a few lackluster films his career seemed to be at a standstill.Harlem Nights [1989] and Another 48 hrs [1990] and his almost forgotten performance in Boomerang[1992] did very little to resuscitate his career. But a man of such comic genus could not bekept down for long and his remake of Jerry Lewis's "The Nutty Professor" brought Eddie's drawing power back into swing. His performance in Doctor Dolittle [1998] Mulan and Bowfinger proved that he could also perform in family oriented humor. IN 2001 he stared in the animated smash Shrek.
In 2007, he won the Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actor for his portrayal of fictitious soul singer James "Thunder" Early in Dreamgirls[1], and received a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for the same role.Murphy's work as a voice actor includes Thurgood Stubbs in The PJs, Donkey in the Shrek series and the dragon Mushu in Disney's Mulan. In some of his films, he plays multiple roles in addition to his main character, including Coming to America, the Nutty Professor films.

Eddie Murphy had thrilled and entertained movie audiences for decades and will continue to contribute his many talents for years to come. This multi talented actor deserves as much recognition for his comic performances that he has supplied throughout the years. A tribute to Eddie Murphy!

Eddie Murphy celebrated New Year's Day [2008] by tying the knot with film producer Tracey Edmonds.The pair exchanged vows Tuesday on a private island off Bora Bora in French Polynesia in front of a small group of family and friends, their representatives told People magazine.

Murphy and Edmonds began dating last fall and were engaged in July.Murphy, 46, has five children from his marriage to Nicole Mitchell Murphy, who filed for divorce in 2005. He also has a daughter with Spice Girls singer Melanie Brown. Edmonds, 40, has two sons from her 13-year marriage to singer Kenneth "Baby face" Edmonds. As head of Edmonds Entertainment Group Inc., she has produced the film and television series "Soul Food."