Archive for November, 2015

Movies To Rent & Two To Avoid

As the days get shorter, the nights get longer, and we inch closer and closer to the winter season, more and more people will be renting movies becoming couch potatoes.

Here are the recent movies we rented that you may have thinking about checking out.  Some you’ll want to see and some are definitely not worth spending your money or wasting your time on.

LILA & EVE 

This drama stars Viola Davis (“How To Get Away With Murder”) and singer/actress Jennifer Lopez (“The Boy Next Door”) as grieving mothers who join a support group after their children are murdered .

Great performances from both actresses with several shocking twists.

If you love Davis as Annalise Keating on “Murder”, treat yourself to this one.

GRADE: B

“BOULEVARD”

Robin Williams stars in this drama, the late actor’s last on-screen movie role.  It’s new to DVD and it’s very touching.

You get heartbreaking performances from both Williams and Kathy Baker (“Picket Fences”).

Also, relative newcomer Roberto Aguire stands out as Leo, the man that helps Williams’ Nolan Mack to re-evaluate his life at 60.

Speaking of Aguire, I tweeted him recently about the movie and got this kind response.

Roberto

A must see!

GRADE:  A

“THE GIFT”

This psychological thriller stars Jason Bateman and Joel Edgerton, who also wrote, produced, and directed the movie.

Simon (Bateman) and his wife, Robyn, move from Chicago to California near when Simon grew up.  They run into a man, Gordo, who claims that he and Simon went to high school together.  Simon doesn’t seem to remember Gordo.

Gordo begins popping up at their house with gifts and you realize that Simon does know Gordo and it becomes very interesting.

The story line twist is original and downright creepy.

GRADE:  B

“SPY”

As I’ve blogged before, I’ve never been a big fan of Oscar-nominated comedian Melissa McCarthy.

I enjoyed her dramatic performance in “St. Vincent” and thought I’d give the comedy “Spy” a chance with low expectations.

I was pleasantly surprised at how much fun I had with the movie and I laughed a lot — once you suspend some belief.

McCarthy and Rose Byrne were hilarious in the movie.

The biggest scene stealer was English actress Miranda Hart, who played a CIA agent and friend of McCarthy’s Susan Cooper.  I definitely want to see more of her.

GRADE:  B

“SAN ANDREAS”

Dwayne Johnson (The Rock) stars in this disaster flick about a massive earthquake, one of the largest ever recorded on Earth, that devastated California from Los Angeles to San Francisco along the San Andreas Fault.

If you suspend ALL belief in science and take the movie at face value for the popcorn thriller it is, you’ll enjoy it.

And, any movie that featuresKylie Minogue in a bit part is all right with me.

The $110 million dollar budgets movie grossed $470.5 million!

GRADE:  C

NOW, LET’S TALK SEQUELS NEW TO DVD…

“THE SECOND BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL”

I loved the 2012 surprise hit, “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel”.  The $10 million movie ended up making almost $137 million.

Thus, the expectations were high for the follow-up, which cost about the same to make, but only brought in $86 million.

And, it’s fitting.  While the main original cast returned, the movie was enjoyable, but didn’t really add too much to the story and it really didn’t need to be two hours long.

The Bollywood musical number toward the end of the movie bumped it up from a “C”.

GRADE:  B-

“PITCH PERFECT 2”

The 2012 original about the a cappella group, the Barden Bellas was entertaining, it spawned a radio hit, “Cups”, by Anna Kendrick and jump-started the career of Rebel Wilson, who played Fat Amy.

The sequel fell flat!

The only bright spots in the movie were the clueless, politically incorrect commentators played by Elizabeth Banks and John Michael Higgins and the German powerhouse group “Das Sound Machine” (DSM).

If hearing Kendrick and Snoop Dog (Lion) or just Snoop perform “Winter Wonderland/Here Comes Santa Claus” wasn’t bad enough, by the time Fat Amy performed, “We Belong”, I felt sorry for Pat Benatar for allowing the movie to use the song!

Sadly, another sequel is coming in August 2017.

GRADE:  C-

“MAGIC MIKE XXL”

Here’s what I wrote and graded the summer 2012 original, “Magic Mike”:

“‘Magic Mike’ is definitely a fun, hot movie that also has a heart.  It’s not all about sweaty dollar bills, cheap sex, and chiseled bodies — although there’s nothing wrong with that.  Who am I to judge?”

GRADE:  A-

This sequel three years later was too talky and boring — flaccid!

“We didn’t want to show the best parts of the movie in this trailer, but it was very very hard to resist”.

That’s actually from the movie trailer.  Sure enough, my favorite scene in the whole movie is featured 23 seconds into the trailer — Joe Manganiello’s character doing a dance routine in a convenient store.

I think the “XXL” in the title means “extra extra lousy”.

Channing Tatum, Matt Bomer, and Jada Pinkett Smith could not even save this movie!

GRADE:  D

If you saw any of these movies, let me know what you think.  You might have liked them more than me or hated them more.

Anthony

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Mom — 27 Years & Half of My Lifetime Without You

If you’re married and you make it to your silver anniversary or if you work at your job for twenty-five years, you know that you’ll go through a lot of changes — some good and some bad.  But, you achieved that milestone.

Today, my sister, Tammy, and I are marking a more solemn, 25-year anniversary — the death of our wonderful mother, Dessie.  She died of a heart attack on the morning of November 7, 1990.

This picture was taken on Mother’s Day that year.

Dessie 1990

In the past 25 years, there have been so many changes in the world — we now have the internet, cell phones, and in the United States, marriage equality (actually, more general equality than ever before), our first African-American president, and next November, we could very well elect the first woman president.

I know there are people who lose their mother in childhood or during childbirth and grow up not knowing what it’s like to have a mother.  Because of that, I’ll always be grateful that I got to share 26 years in this world with Dessie.

Dessie

She was there to see me make my theatrical stage debut in “The Curious Savage” and saw me present weather at Murray State University’s television station that was only broadcast on cable systems in just two cities.

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My mother was there in the spring of 1989 when I became the first college graduate in our family.

Dessie Christmas 1989 Anthony Graduation Picture

I’ll never forget taking my mother to Sunday brunch at 101st Airborne in Nashville, Tennessee, in the spring of 1990.  She didn’t drink, but her champagne glass was empty every time the server came by and mine was always full since I kept switching glasses with her.  I’m sure the waitress thought Dessie was a lush and I was so innocent allowing my mother to drink so freely while I just sipped my champagne.

While there, I bought my mother the cassette single to Patty Loveless’ #1 hit, “Chains”.  At the time, I didn’t listen to country music.  But, when I started listening to the genre, Patty became one of my favorite singers and I can thank my mother for that.

As grateful as I am for the time we had together, I can’t help but think of the all of the things over the past 25 years that I never got to share with my mother.  There have been so many times in my life that I wanted to grab the phone and share something with her and then realize that I couldn’t do it.

My mother wasn’t here when I made the big decision, in the summer of 1994, to leave my small town Kentucky life and move to Chicago, the third largest city in America.

Chicago

She wasn’t here to see me start my paid, network-affiliated television weather career in Rhinelander, Wisconsin, and then move on to other jobs in Texas, Ohio, Maryland, and Illinois.  She didn’t witness me achieving my childhood dream of becoming a meteorologist and earning my “Seal of Approval” from the National Weather Association.

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My mother didn’t get to meet my best friend and the pride and joy of my life, Miss ABBA.

ABBA's First Christmas 2000

My mother was only 20-years-old when her mother, Reba, died of a heart attack.  Less than a year later, she was married and expecting her first child that came prematurely in October 1964.  (Yes, that would be me!)

Dessie-Hollie-Anthony -- Fall 1964

By 1966, she had two children and a stepdaughter and was in an unhappy (and seemingly loveless) marriage with an alcoholic womanizer.

She probably felt she had limited options because people stayed married.  Her paycheck from her minimum wage job provided me and my sister no frills, just the necessities — food and clothing.  But, she never complained about what she didn’t or would never have in life, including medication that may have kept her alive longer.

Dessie

While we didn’t sit around and talk about it, my mother always knew I was gay.  After all, she did buy me the “Colour By Numbers” album by Culture Club for my 19th birthday! 🙂

CultureClubColourByNumbersAlbumcover

Dessie was raised in a backwards, small town, Southern mentality and she was married to a sexist, racist, homophobic alcoholic.  When you add the conservatism of the Reagan era to her fire-and-brimstone-preaching church and the AIDS epidemic that exploded in the 1980s, you can fully understand why we never talked about my sexuality.

In the mid-1980s, when the story of actor Rock Hudson dying of AIDS broke and the disease continued to ravage the gay communtiy, she and most Americans probably thought that every gay person would contract HIV and AIDS and die.  Back then, it was pretty much a death sentence.

HIV AIDS

I became sexually active during that dark time and to this day, I’m still grateful to God that I remained HIV-negative when I knew many people that contracted HIV and AIDS — some are still living and some didn’t make it.

Dessie probably thought that the prospects of her openly gay, first-born son were bleak.  I wonder what she’d think today seeing me relatively successful and healthy at 51-years-old — something that wouldn’t have seemed very likely.

So much has changed on that front, too.  Today, with medication and a healthy lifestyle, people that are HIV-positive can live a normal life expectancy.

And, back then, a majority of people thought that gay people would have to live very secret and lonely lives without ever having the chance to find love and get married!

While it failed (in 2017), I got that chance and it was beautiful.  Thank you Iowa!

OurWeddingWedding Park Fountain

I did get married.  Thank you Iowa!

And, while this date is tough for me, it’s even rougher for my sister, Tammy.

TammyDessie

When my mother died, Tammy’s first son was just a toddler and her second son had just been born a couple of weeks earlier.  They never got to know what a great woman their grandmother was and would have been to them.

Dessie Birthday 1989

As I reflect back on my life with my mother, I was so fortunate to be loved.  She wasn’t just my mother.  She was my biggest supporter, she was my rock, and she was my friend.

When I think of all of the things I talked about today and not having a chance to talk to Dessie about them, I can still smile and feel warm inside.

I know that my mother was really with me all the time — in my heart and in my memories.

Anthony

Janet Jackson’s “Unbreakable World Tour” Dazzles

It’s great to have Janet Jackson back making new music and touring the world.

As soon as she announced her “Unbreakable World Tour” this summer, I bought tickets to her show in Omaha, Nebraska, the day before Halloween. It was a treat and definitely not a trick.

JanetJackson

After four postponed shows due to strain on her voice, Janet returned to the stage for her first show back in Omaha and fans, including myself, were definitely dazzled.

For Janet fans since her first Top 40 hit, “What Have You Done For Me Lately” in 1986, she packed so many chart smashes into her 90-minute set. Yes, many were included in medleys and you only heard bits and pieces of the song.

However, that worked for me. When you have artists like Janet (and Madonna) with 30 years of countless hits, you would miss so many of them if they performed the entire song. So, the medleys worked for me even if I would have loved to have heard some of the complete songs.

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The show was lively and fun. There was so much energy during the upbeat dance numbers and Janet and her dancers took advantage of the stage to keep the party going.

When she performed slower numbers, she was mesmerizing and captivating.

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Janet only performed five songs from her latest album, “Unbreakable”, but the song selections were amazing, especially “After You Fall”, “Shoulda Known Better”, which was accompanied by a very powerful, moving video, and “Burnitup!” with the legendary Missy Elliott, who’s ready to drop her own new single, “WTF (Where They From)”, soon!

I think my favorite part of the show (if I had to choose just one) was when she performed “If”.

At the end of the show, Janet thanked the fans for the continued support not only for herself, but for her family.

A couple of times during the show, Janet pointed a finger to heaven and smiled to her brother Michael — proof that family means everything to her.

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If you’re a Janet Jackson fan, this show is not to be missed. Janet will be playing in my city, Moline, Illinois, at the iWireless Center, next summer and I hope to see the show again.

And, Janet, from what I’ve seen, you wear black sometimes and white at other times.  If I get to see you in Moline, I hope you’re wearing white this time so I can get the best of both fashion worlds.

On the day I saw Janet in Omaha on Halloween Eve, I blogged my 20 favorite Janet Jackson songs and I’m sharing that link here, too.  Let me know which of your favorites didn’t make my list.

https://anthonypeoples.wordpress.com/2015/10/30/my-favorite-janet-jackson-songs/

“Gimme a beat! — Hey Mr. DJ, drop that track and won’t you turn it up — Imma dance all night and I don’t care who’s out there watching us — Just give me that fire and Imma show you how to burnitup!”

Anthony

P.S.  I just love “Burnitup!” so much I’m including the lyric video, too.