Tag Archives: Renee Zellweger

My Favorite Movies of 2019

Going to the movies is sometimes akin to stepping onto a roller coaster. Sometimes you love the film your seeking. Sometimes you hate it.

My favorite movies of 2019 are as follows:

  1. The Farewell: The Farewell is my favorite movie of the year because it is heartfelt, genuine and thoroughly human. In the lead role, Awkwafina proves that she can play much more than the comic relief.
  2. Avengers: Endgame: If there was a perfect way to end a film series, this film is it. Balancing both action and narrative, this thrill ride is pure perfection.
  3. Judy: Renee Zellweger is an absolute shoe-in for the Oscars as the late film icon Judy Garland. Disappearing in the role, she tells the true story of the final years of Garland’s life.
  4. Downton Abbey: Transferring a popular television show to the big screen is often easier said than done. The Downton Abbey movie is the perfect film bookend to this beloved television program.
  5. Harriet: This biopic of Harriet Tubman is nothing short of tremendous. In the lead role, Cynthia Erivo is Harriet Tubman.
  6. Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker: This final entry in the Skywalker saga is not perfect, but it ends with both a nod to the past and an open door to the future.
  7. A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood: The late Fred Rogers was more than a milquetoast children’s TV host. He taught generations of children in ways that go beyond the classroom. Inhabiting the role of Mister Rogers is Tom Hanks, who reminds viewers why we loved him.
  8. Joker: In this re imagined world from that Batman universe, Joaquin Phoenix adds new layers to this iconic character while talking frankly about mental illness.
  9. The Song of Names: Based on the book of the same name, the film follows a man who is trying to discover the secrets of a missing childhood friend.
  10. Frozen II: This sequel to the mega-hit Frozen was well worth the six year wait. Instead of doing a slap-dash direct to video type sequel, the filmmakers expanded this world in new ways, making the story even more relevant.

This will be my last post for 2019. Wherever you are, thank you for reading this year. May 2020 be bright and hopeful.

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Filed under Books, Downton Abbey, Feminism, History, Mental Health, Movie Review, Movies, Star Wars, Television

Judy Movie Review

Judy Garland was a performer with a capital P. She is an icon above icons, a movie star in every sense of the word. She was a human being whose life off camera was far from perfect.

The new movie, Judy, tells the story of the last years of Judy Garland‘s (Renee Zellweger) life. She is no longer the young starlet (played by Darci Shaw) who was the apple of the movie-going audience’s eye. At the age of 47, she is battling addiction and facing major career and financial hurdles while trying to be a good mother.

The only gigs she can get are small clubs. Then she is offered a series of concerts at London’s Talk of the Town. Knowing that it is her only option, she takes it. While in London, she marries her fifth and final husband Mickey Deans (Fitt Wittrock) and is given to Rosalyn Wilder (Jessie Buckley), who acts as her assistant.

Judy has the reputation, but can she be the performer that she is known to be or will her personal demons get in the way?

This movie is awesome and without a doubt, is Oscar bait. Zellweger completely disappears into the role, making the audience forget that it is not the real Judy Garland that they are watching. Based on the stage play End of the Rainbow, by Peter Quilter, this film is many things. It is a tearjerker, a reminder of how destructive addiction can be and a story of fighting to survive when it feels like all is lost.

I absolutely recommend it.

Judy is presently playing in theaters.

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Bridget Jones’s Baby Movie Review

Bridget Jones is the iconic single woman. She first appeared in 1995 in a newspaper column and then a book written by Helen Fielding. In 2001, movie audiences were introduced to the film version of Bridget in Bridget Jones’s Diary (2001).

Fifteen years later, Bridget (Renee Zellweger) has returned to the screen in Bridget Jones’s Baby. The film starts on the eve of Bridget’s 43rd birthday. Her friends have all abandoned the single life for the traditional life of marriage and children. Encouraged by a colleague to spend the weekend at a music festival, Bridget has a one night stand Jack (Patrick Dempsey), an American whose dating website has become very successful. A week later, she hooks up with her ex, Mark (Colin Firth) at the christening of a child of a mutual friend. Bridget soon finds herself pregnant, but the question is, who is the father?

In setting the film years after the last film ended, the production team seamlessly found a way to create a new narrative while keeping the narrative and the characters that drew audiences in from the beginning. Bridget is an every-woman, her life reflects the lives of many of the women in the audience. While our careers and our social lives are successful, there is a small part of us that yearns for a partner to share it with.

I recommend it.

Bridget Jones’s Baby is currently in theaters.

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Filed under Books, Jane Austen, Movie Review, Movies, Pride and Prejudice

Flashback Friday-Down With Love (2003)

Every few years, Hollywood reaches into it’s vault and tries to reintroduce audiences to a story or genre that they may not be familiar with.

Down With Love (2003) is an homage to the early 1960’s sex comedies that starred Doris Day and Rock Hudson, the Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks of their day.

Barbara Novak (Renee Zellweger) is a feminist author whose book has hit the best seller list. Catcher Block (Ewan MacGregor) is playboy journalist who is convinced that underneath the feminist mask, Barbara wants what every woman wants: love and marriage.  But he knows that she would sniff him out in an instant if he was himself. Pretending to be a shy out of towner, Catcher attracts Barbara’s attention, but will he be able to find what he is looking for?

While this movie is not as funny or subversive as Pillow Talk, it’s a nice homage and a reminder of how far women have come.

Do I recommend it? Sure, it’s decent.

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Flashback Friday- From The Bright Lights Of Broadway To The Silver Screen-Chicago (2002) & Hairspray (2007)

Hollywood has a long tradition of making movies from Broadway musicals.  While movie musicals flourished during the golden age of movie making, the fervor for movie musicals has slowly dissipated over the past thirty years.  Hollywood has tried to resurrect the genre, but only a few of these movies have been successful.

In 2002, a movie was made based on the hit Broadway musical Chicago.

Velma Kelly (Catherine Zeta-Jones) and Roxie Hart (Renee Zellweger) are on death row, accused of murdering their significant others. Billy Flynn (Richard Gere) is the hot shot lawyer whose job it is to keep his clients famous and away from the  gallows.

I saw the musical on Broadway years ago. The movie is very true to the stage show. It is subversive, entertaining and a commentary on how fame and the justice system makes for strange bedfellows.

In 1988, indie filmmaker John Waters introduced the world to the movie Hairspray and a new leading lady: Tracy Turnblad.  Tracy is zaftig teenager in 1960’s Baltimore who just wants to dance on the local teenage dance show. But there are obstacles to her dream. In the early 2000’s, Hairspray was transferred to the Broadway stage and in 2007, it returned to silver screen, but as the musical.

Taking over from Ricki Lake in the original movie and Marissa Jaret Winokur on Broadway was Nikki Blonsky as Tracy. In the traditional John Waters style, John Travolta and Christopher Walken play Tracy’s parents, Edna and Wilbur.

While I did enjoy this movie, it is a very colorful, sort of family friendly version of the original movie. It looses some of the biting satire and subversive quality with the 2007 movie.  But, over all, it’s not bad.

I recommend Chicago, but maybe not Hairspray.

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Filed under Broadway Musical Review, Flashback Friday, Movie Review, Movies

Flashback Friday- Empire Records (1995)

There is something nostalgic about the pre-internet, pre-itunes, mom and pop independent record store era in music. Those were the days when one had to go to a record store to find the latest album of their favorite artist.

In 1995, the movie Empire Records, told the story of an independent music store trying to get by in an increasing corporate business world and the personal crisis of the store’s employees.  The owner of the store, Joe Reaves (Anthony LaPaglia) is trying to keep his door open and his staff employed. His staff includes Debra (Robin Tunney), Mark (Ethan Embry),  Corey (Liv Tyler) and Gina (Renee Zellweger).

Empire Records had a then up and coming cast with mid 1990’s music that such an integral part of the era. The story of the small business owner trying to keep their doors open in the face of continued pressure to become a part of the corporate machine also stands out.

And for your viewing pleasure, Renee Zellweger singing seven years before she played Roxie Hart in Chicago.

I recommend this movie.

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Bridget Jones Diary: Book And Movie Review

Helen Fielding’s heroine in Bridget Jones’s Diary, Bridget Jones is an every woman. Bridget is on the wrong side of 30, single, smokes and drinks too much, flirts with her boss and is far from modelesque.

Published in 1996 and made into a movie in 2001, Bridget makes the rest of us feel better about our lives.

I’ve seen the movie several times over the past 13 years. I just finished the book.

I enjoyed the book, but as often happens when books are made into movies, changes are made to either characters or plot.  Pulling from Jane Austen’s classic novel, Pride and Prejudice, Fielding has written a very funny and realistic picture of what it is to be a modern single female adult.

The movie is extremely funny. Surprisingly, Renee Zellweger, an American actress,  fits in brilliantly with the English cast.  Whomever the casting director was for this movie, they must have had the Janeite community in mind. Colin Firth (Fitzwilliam Darcy, Pride and Prejudice 1995), Hugh Grant (Edward Ferrars, Sense and Sensibility 1995), Gemma Jones (Mrs. Dashwood, Sense and Sensibility 1995), and Embeth Davidtz (Mary Crawford, Mansfield Park 1999) were all perfectly cast.

While I recommend the book, the movie is that much better.

P.S.  I’m adding the fight scene, well,  just because Darcy never had the chance to properly clock Wickham in the face in Pride and Prejudice doesn’t mean he can’t do it in Bridget Jones Diary.

 

 

 

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