There is something about the power of music. A beloved song has a way of making it’s way into the listeners brain, conscious, and perhaps helping to change things for the better.
Billie Holiday is one of the most beloved singers of the 20th century. Though it has been six decades since her physical form left this Earth, her performances and songs continue to leave a mark on fans. The new biopic about her life, The United States vs. Billie Holiday dropped yesterday on Hulu.
The film stars singer/actress Andra Day as Holiday, Garrett Hedlund as Harry J. Anslinger, and Trevante Rhodes as Jimmy Fletcher. The audience follows Holiday as she battles drug addiction, racism, and gets involved with FBI agent Jimmy Fletcher. Woven into the narrative is the iconic and dark song Strange Fruit, which sadly is as potent today as it was during Holiday’s life time.
I really wanted to like this film. Day’s performance is worthy of the accolades she is receiving. Unfortunately, that is where I have to draw the line. Frankly, I was bored. I wanted to be hooked, but I was not. Whatever tension and drama I anticipated was sadly lacking. Especially with Anslinger’s obsession and persecution of Billie Holiday. That should have been more exciting that it was actually was.
Change does not happen from nothing. It requires the will to see it happen and the bravery to stand up against those who would prevent such change.
Radium Girls premiered in 2018. Based on a true story, it takes place in the 1920’s. Sisters Bessie (Joey King) and Josephine (Abby Quinn) are employed by American Radium (based on the real company U.S. Radium Corp). Their job is to paint watches and military dials with radium. In order to paint within the miniscule lines, they had to wet the brushes with their lips. When Josephine starts to get sick, Bessie starts to put two and two together. But when the company starts to push back, she realizes that getting justice is easier said than done.
The narrative is the classic underdog/working class vs. the big bad men who keep them down. Though the story is in the same genre as Iron Jawed Angels, Norma Rae, and Suffragette, I didn’t getting the same “yes I can” rush that I usually get with these kind of films.
Do I recommend it? Maybe.
Radium Girls is available for streaming on Netflix.
Twenty years ago, Britney Spears was one of the biggest acts not just in music, but in the entertainment industry as a whole. She was everywhere. These days, its a different story.
The new Hulu documentary, Framing Britney Spears, premiered on Friday. The movie follows her life, career, and the #FreeBritney movement. Their claim is that that Spears no longer needs to be under the control of the conservatorship, currently held by her father. After her mental health issues became public in 2008, it was enacted for her safety. The claim of those interviewed is that Spears is perfectly capable of making her own decisions, and that the conservatorship is no longer needed.
I loved this movie. It shines a new light on how disgustingly she was treated both by the press and those who benefited from her time at the top of the pop culture food chain. The issue at the heart of this film is mental health, and how those who suffer (women especially) usually get the short end of the stick. If there was one sticking point, it was that if Spears was male, none of this would have ever been considered. But because she is a woman, she must be taken care of because it would be impossible that she is capable of making her own decisions.
I suspect that if an actor was asked about their career, they would not want to talk about just one role. But that doesn’t mean that the audience feels the same way.
Canadian actor Christopher Plummerdied yesterday. He was one of those actors who could never be typecast, the number of characters he played over 70ish years is as long as my arm. For most of us, we know him for one film: The Sound of Music.
Playing opposite Julie Andrews, his Georg von Trapp was a man held back by grief, initially unable to open up to his children. At the time, he was in his mid 30’s, aged up to play a character a decade his senior. Though some might say the movie is sappy and sentimental (as Plummer himself put it), it is charming and thoroughly entertaining. It is no wonder that more than five decades later, it is a beloved classic that has been watched and memorized by generations of fans.
It was not that long ago that fringe groups with out there ideas were just that. They lived in the corners of the internet that most of us didn’t even know about or consider looking at. Then you know who was elected.
Though he is out of office (Thank G-d), his influence still persists and will do so for a long time. The most obvious sign of his still lingering sway is Marjorie Taylor Greene. Randy Rainbow released his latest video today with her as the subject.
The song Rainbow is using is Evergreen from the 1976 adaptation of A Star is Born. If there was a way to insert his picture next the word “genius” in the dictionary, I would happily add it. Taylor Greene is not just your average Republican, her views are dangerous. It says something when Karl Rove, one of the big wigs of the party, called out his colleagues to do the right thing.
The fact is that this woman has to go. If she doesn’t, it will tell me everything about the Republican party that I will ever need to know.
From the outside looking it, archeology may appear to be akin to an Indiana Jonesmovie. But anyone with any amount of knowledge of this subject will tell you otherwise.
The Dig premiered yesterday on Netflix. As World War II rumbles in the distance in 1939, Basil Brown (Ralph Fiennes) is a self trained and unorthodox archeologist. He has been hired by Edith Pretty (Carey Mulligan) to excavate her land and see if he can find buried historical treasure. What he discovers will be known as Sutton Hoo, an Anglo-Saxon burial ship rich in previously unknown artefacts. But with war on the horizon and Basil’s expertise questioned, it looks as if the ship and her objects will remain buried.
I wanted to like this movie. The premise seemed interesting and the cast is stellar. It is a BPD (British Period Drama) with a narrative that is unusual for the genre. The problem is that I was bored, whatever promises that were made in the trailer did not come to fruition.
It has been said that all that glitters is not gold. The same could be said about Hollywood.
The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, by Taylor Reid Jenkins, was published back in 2017. Back in the day, Evelyn Hugo was an A list movie star. But her time in the spotlight has long since passed. After years of living quietly in the background, Evelyn is ready to tell her story. She chooses Monique Grant, a young writer to be her scribe.
Monique has a lot on her plate at the moment. Her marriage is all but over and her career is stuck in the mud. Though she is not entirely sure why she has been chosen, Monique seizes upon the opportunity that has been handed to her. Evelyn’s life story is full of ambition, forbidden love, and friendships that were unexpected. Along the way, Monique discovers that she and Evelyn are connected in ways that surprise them both.
Sometimes, stories about old Hollywood, whether they be fiction or non fiction, can veer off into two different voices. They can either be a tabloid-y tell all, or sound like comes straight out of the studio PR department. I really loved this book. I loved the characters, I loved the narrative, and I loved the twist that was absolutely perfect.
Living with Alzheimer’s is not easy for both the person is who is suffering and their loved ones.
The TV movie, Elizabeth is Missing, premiered last night on PBS. Maude Horsham (Glenda Jackson) is a woman in her later years who has been diagnosed with with early onset Alzheimer’s. When her friend and neighbor, Elizabeth (Maggie Steed) disappears, Maud is convinced that something sinister has happened to her. While she doggedly tries to put the pieces together, everyone around her thinks that Maud has lost her marbles. There is also the question of what happened to Maude’s older sister, Sukey (Sophie Rundle), who went missing decades ago.
What I liked about this TV movie is that is that we see the world through Maud’s eyes. When it comes to narratives where one of the characters has Alzheimer’s, the perspective is usually on the family members, not the person who is living with the disease. As a viewer, it made me sympathetic to Maud because I saw and heard what she saw and heard.
The problem is, however, is that the drama is not as high stakes as it is made out to be. Granted, in terms of mystery dramas, it is low key. But I wish that there was just a little more meat on the narrative bones.
Do I recommend it? Maybe.
Elizabeth is Missing is available for streaming on the PBS website.
Bronte’s Mistress, by Finola Austin: Austin delves into the myth of the affair between Branwell Bronte and Lydia Robinson, his older and married employer. Giving voice to Branwell, his youngest sister Anne and Mrs. Robinson specifically, she introduces the reader to the woman behind the rumor.
Rage, by Bob Woodward: Legendary journalist Bob Woodward takes the reader into the current Presidential administration and the chaos created by you know who.
Soul: Though it is marketed as a kids movie, the subtext of appreciating life feels appropriate and potent this year.
Mulan: The live-action reboot of the 1998 animated film Mulan rises above its predecessor, making it fresh and relevant.
Emma.: Anya Taylor-Joy stars as Jane Austen‘s eponymous heroine, Emma Woodhouse, introduced as clever, rich, and handsome. Directed by Autumn de Wilde, this adaption is entertaining, funny, and a lovely addition to the list of Austen adaptations.
Portrait of a Lady on Fire: This LBGTQ historical romance between a young woman and the female artist hired to paint her portrait is sweet, romantic, and powerful. It proves once more that love is love is love.
Ordinary Love: Joan (Lesley Manville) and Tom (Liam Neeson) are your average middle-aged couple. When she is diagnosed with Breast Cancer, they both must deal with the rough road ahead.
The Assistant: Jane (Julia Garner) is an assistant to a Harvey Weinstein-esque powerful movie producer. She starts to notice things that don’t sit right with her.
I am Greta: This documentary follows teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg as she advocates for the world to pay serious attention to climate change.
#AnneFrank-Parallel Lives: Narrated by Helen Mirren, this documentary tells not just Anne’s story. It follows other young women who survived the Holocaust. Parallel to the stories of the past, the viewer is traveling with another young woman as she visits different countries in present-day Europe.
This hobby blog is dedicated to movie nerdom, nostalgia, and the occasional escape. In the late 90s, I worked at Blockbuster Video where they let me take home two free movies a day. I caught up on the classics and wrote movie reviews for Denver 'burbs newspapers and magazines. Today, I continue to revisit the old and discover the new on the screen. Comments and dialogue are highly encouraged. This year, I'm excited to collaborate with other writers via SLICETHELIFE, in which we will share our movie genre favorites in our 2021 Movie Draft!