Posts Tagged ‘Hollywood’

Random Friday Thoughts — January 27, 2017

It’s Friday again and the weekend is almost here.

I appreciate you checking out my Random Friday Thoughts.  As always, if we disagree and you want to tell me so, do it diplomatically and concisely.

LGBT RIGHTS & CLIMATE CHANGE, GONE!

Moments after #44 became history and America moved on to #45, searching the White House website yielded no results for “LGBT” and “Climate Change”.

white-house-lgbt

In my heart I know what this means and anyone with a functioning brain knows, as well.

At the time of this tweet, I laughed to myself as a man, an American, and one of those people he thanked!

donald-lgbt

I think now just as I thought then, it’s just another joke and a bad one played on me and my fellow Americans.

THE COUNTDOWN IS ON…

If you’ve never watched the U.S. version of the political drama, “House of Cards”, you’re missing one of the most intelligent television shows ever!

Robin Wright and Kevin Spacey are incredible in the lead roles.  Their characters’ determination, iciness, and conviction to get what they want in the political arena is mesmerizing.

The show gives us the backstory of what really goes on in Washington.  Things are not cut and dry.  While it’s a television show, you know that Beau Willimon, the man behind the American version, is serving you a slice of reality.

He also tweeted that slice of reality last Friday morning!

beau

We’re now at 1,454 days now!

Resist!

ONE LAST COMMENT

Facts:  “a thing that is indisputably the case.”

Synonyms of “facts”:  reality, actuality, certainty

kc

So, Kellyanne Conway, “Alternative facts” are LIES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

REBA HEADS INTO A NEW DIRECTION

Country music icon Reba McEntire is heading into a new musical direction with her latest release on February 3rd.

The deluxe version “Sing It Now: Songs of Faith & Hope” will feature 22 gospel hymns.

Ever since “Sky Full of Angels” from 2003’s “Room To Breathe” album, I was hoping that Reba would record a gospel album.  And, since country radio airplay for her last album, 2015’s “Love Somebody” was pretty much non-existent, this is the perfect time for a change of genres.

The first single is “Back to God”.

Reba, how about a dance-oriented album next since you hit #2 on the Billboard Dance Club Play chart in 1996 with “You Keep Me Hangin’ On”?

JIMMY CARTER

In September, when visiting the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library And Museum in Atlanta, Georgia, I left this message.

msg-jc-r

I’d love to visit the William J. Clinton Presidential Library and Museum in Little Rock, Arkansas and leave a similar message!

Hope

I hope I have those feelings again for a future president!

HAVEN’T TALKED GAGA IN FOREVER

If you regularly read my blog, you know I love Lady Gaga.  I’ve see her in concert several times and her shows are amazing!

Gaga Las Vegas

However, I wasn’t fond of the musical direction she took on “Joanne”, her latest album, and it’s the first Gaga album I didn’t buy. 😦  (I wasn’t alone.  Sales and radio airplay have paled in comparison with her previous releases!)

She’ll be playing the Super Bowl halftime show next weekend.  While I’m not a football fan, I’ll be watching her performance.

Sources close to Gaga told “Entertainment Tonight” last week that Gaga was informed that she couldn’t mention the 2016 presidential election or the current president.

The NFL says otherwise, “This is unsourced nonsense from people trying to stir up controversy where there is none. The Super Bowl is a time when people really come together. Lady Gaga is focused on putting together an amazing show for fans and we love working with her on it; we aren’t going to be distracted by this.”

Ironically, that nameless “source” is quoting another “unsourced” person.  Seriously, grow a pair, face up, and speak up or shut up.

Unless Gaga has gone soft, you know she’ll say and do whatever she wants.

Did Beyonce make a statement last year with “Formation”?  You’re damn right, she did.

Did her career suffer?  One word:  “Lemonade”!

“FLORENCE FOSTER JENKINS”

This comedy, based on a true story, was my #3 favorite movie of 2016.

It’s about a wealthy woman, Florence Foster Jenkins, who was determined to become a successful singer although she was horrible.

Meryl Streep, who some idiot called “overrated”, was amazing as Jenkins.

On Tuesday, she earned her 20th Oscar nomination in the “Best Actress” category.

GRADE:  A

“CAPTAIN FANTASTIC”

Also, on Tuesday, I was ecstatic Viggo Mortensen was nominated in the “Best Actor” category for my #2 movie of 2016.

Here’s what I had to say about the movie in December.

“I highly recommend “Captain Fantastic”, which just hit DVD.

This little-seen movie in theaters is about a family living in the forests of the Pacific Northwest away from the trappings of modern life.

Viggo Mortensen plays Ben Cash, the father of six children, who has to decide how to keep his family together after the death of his wife.

It’s a shame that this movie only made $9 million in theaters.  It’s incredible and now you have a chance to see it at home.

Spoiler Alert:  Seeing Mortensen’s penis should NOT be reason enough for a warning at the beginning of the movie with “Brief Graphic Nudity”.  As his character says, “it’s just a penis!”

Wouldn’t “Brief Nudity” suffice?

By the way, on Thursday, Mortensen was nominated for a “Critics’ Choice Award” for “Best Actor in a Comedy”.  While I’m happy for the nomination, I have to ask, “comedy”???  There are funny scenes in the movie, but this leans more toward a drama to me.

Another great performance in the movie was from George McKay, who played Mortensen’s son, Bodevan.

GRADE:  A

PICK HIT

Calum Scott is best known for appearing on “Britian’s Got Talent” in 2015.

One of the songs he performed on the reality series was “Dancing On My Own”, a remake of Robyn’s 2010 hit.

Scott’s version has already topped the chart in Scotland and reached #2 in Australia and the U.K.

It’s recently just debuted on the American’s Top 40 radio airplay charts.

Scott’s debut album is expected this year.

ORIGINAL VERSION BY ROBYN

Swedish singer Robyn dominate the worldwide charts with this incredible song in 2010.

In America, it was a bigger hit on the Dance Club songs chart.

It reached #3 on both the U.S. and the U.K. dance charts.  But, it hit #1 in Sweden and #2 in Denmark.

“THE SHALLOWS”

It’s winter now, so you don’t have to worry about going into the water and thinking about sharks.

The last two Blake Lively (the beautiful wife of the gorgeous Ryan Reynolds) movies I saw were also on my favorites’ list in the respective years.

She was great in “Savages” (my #7 movie of 2013) and she was incredible in “The Age of Adaline” (my #7 movie of 2015).

I see a trend there.  Will “The Shallows” be my #7 movie of 2017?  Probably not.

However, it was a very enjoyable and realistic movie.

I got a little scared 72 minutes into the 87-minute movie because the plausibility took a little hit.  You realized that while what happened could take place, the stars would really have to align perfectly.  But, hey, it’s Hollywood.  Just go with it.

“Jaws” this isn’t, but it’s worth an hour-and-a-half of your time.

GRADE:  B-

THAT’S IT

With all the craziness in the world, make it the best in your little part of it!

Anthony

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Movies For A Rainy Day

Unseasonably cool weather has taken over the Midwest the last few days and with rain Friday night and for much of Saturday, here are a few movies suggestions if you’re in the mood to rent movies and just listen to the falling rain.

“THE IMITATION GAME”

“The Imitation Game” was a fantastic lesson of one of the true heroes of World War 2 that few know.

It’s tragic how pathetic British laws were back in the 1950s persecuting people for just being themselves. Benedict Cumberbatch was very touching as a tormented genius that helped to bring the Germans down.

While definitely an Oscar worthy performance from Cumberbatch because I couldn’t take my eyes off him, I still think that Eddie Redmayne in “The Theory of Everything” deserved the Best Actor Oscar and I’ve seen 4-of-the-5 performances.

GRADE: A

“THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING”

Speaking of the Oscars and Eddie Redmayne, I’ve seen four of the five Best Actor nominees from last year.

Without seeing Bradley Cooper in “American Sniper” and as much as I love Cumberbatch, Eddie deserved his Oscars hands down playing ALS-stricken theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking.

Eddie was so believable as Hawking as he met the love of his life that would become his wife and then find out that the debilitating disease would, in just years, take his life.

The most heartbreaking scene in the movie for me was a dinner scene with Hawking, his wife, and close friends, but I won’t spoil it for you by describing it.

Redmayne succeeds and Hawking was a winner in real life.

GRADE:  A-

“BEYOND THE LIGHTS”

When this musical drama came out in theaters late last year, I didn’t have any desire to movie house prices to see it.  I guess America didn’t either.  The $7 million dollar movie earned only $14.6 million at the box office.

However, I definitely wanted to see it on DVD and what a pleasurable movie it is.

Gugu Mbatha-Raw, who earned rave reviews in the 2013 period piece, “Belle”, was excellent as pop star Noni Jean, who just won a Billboard Music Award and is getting ready to release her debut album.

But, an incident on a hotel balcony railroads her path to success.

“Beyond The Lights” has great music, a good storyline, a hot love interest played by hunky Nate Parker, and an incredible performance by Minnie Driver as an obsessive stage mom.

If you’re like me, it’ll be hard to watch some of the movie and not see Rihanna (and Chris Brown).

GRADE:  B

“MAPS TO THE STARS”

2014 was a great year for Julianne Moore.

She won rave reviews, her first Oscar, and a Golden Globes award for “Still Alice”.  She also won Best Actress at the Cannes Film Festival and was nominated for another Golden Globes award for “Maps To The Stars”.

In this satirical drama (although Moore was nominated in the “comedy” category for the Golden Globes) from acclaimed director David Cronenberg, Moore plays an aging actress, who’s trying to win the dream role of playing her late mother (a famous actress) in a movie remake.

Needless to say, Moore’s Havana Segrand is messed up and out of touch with real life.  I’m not saying all in Hollywood are. 🙂

But, she’s calm and collected compared to Agatha Weiss, played with perfection by Mia Wasikowska (who also played Moore’s daughter in 2010’s “The Kids Are All Right”).  She has many issues, as does most everyone in this movie.

“Maps To The Stars” is a very strange, but riveting movie.

GRADE:  B

“A MOST VIOLENT YEAR”

New Year’s Eve may not be the best time to release a movie if you want people to see it.

This drama takes place in early 1981 New York City during a very violent period when several oil trucks were being hijacked.

Oscar Isaac, who was amazing in the much better “Inside Llewyn Davis” that I wrote about earlier this year, is the owner of Standard Oil, an up and coming oil company.  Several of his trucks are taken and one of his drivers is almost beaten to death.

The movie follows his quest to find out who’s behind the violence.  At the same time, he’s being investigated for price-fixing, tax evasion, and other charges by the city’s assistant district attorney.

Academy Award nominee and Golden Globes winner Jessica Chastain, played his powerful, domineering, and heartless wife, Anna, the daughter of a mob boss.  She’s incredible and needed to be in the movie more.

GRADE:  B-

“INTO THE WOODS”

My 13-year-old daughter has seen this Disney musical, from the man who brought us the Oscar-winning 2002 musical, “Chicago”, several times and she loves it.

I, on the other hand, did not care for it.

It was too long and tried to serve too many children’s stories without much cohesiveness.

When Meryl Streep was on-screen as “The Witch”, the movie soared.

But, I don’t know everything.  The $50 million production has now grossed more than $204 million worldwide.

GRADE:  C

“NIGHTCRAWLER”

I was excited to see “Nightcrawler” with Jake Gyllenhaal, but I had to suspend belief while watching it since I’m in the news business.

A casual viewer would rate the movie higher.

However, I know it’s IMPOSSIBLE to just walk into the news studio of the #2 market in the country saying you have video and seeing the news director working with the editor on how to put a story together.

The movie paints the news business as very unscrupulous (and some stations and networks are, hi Fox News!).

Gyllenhaal is so creepy in the movie, it could have been called “NightCreeper” or “CreepyCrawler”.

GRADE: C- (to a non-news person: C+)

“RABBIT HOLE”

Here’s a fantastic flashback if you can find it.  It only took me more than four years to finally see it.

This little seen 2010 movie directed by the incredible John Cameron Mitchell (“Hedwig and the Angry Inch” and “Shortbus”) stars Nicole Kidman, Aaron Eckhart, and a younger Miles Teller (“Whiplash”).

The drama follows the lives of husband and wife, Howie and Becca (Eckhart and Kidman) after their 4-year-old son was struck and killed by a car when he ran out into the street chasing their dog.

Kidman earned an Oscar nomination for Best Actress for her sad and incredible performance.

Not a happy movie, but very powerful.

GRADE:  B+

Enjoy your weekend!

Anthony

Random Friday Thoughts — January 17, 2014

I definitely look forward to my weekends and I start counting down to them when I walk into the door at work at 2 a.m. on Mondays!

I hope you have a great weekend and that you have some fun or relaxing things to do.  My plans are to watch movies, go out to lunch Saturday, and attend the Red Ribbon Dinner, which is a local AIDS fundraiser, Saturday night.

Thank you for checking out my random thoughts this week.

THRILL KILL ON AUCTION

I know there are people who go into grocery stores or seafood restaurants and choose their lobster dinner from a tank of live crustaceans.

Lobster Tank

I would never do that since I don’t want to look at my dinner eye-to-eye.  However, I can understand that more (sorry, lobster) than going to a charity auction and bidding hundreds of thousands of dollars to stalk and kill an endangered animal for fun.

This past weekend, in Texas, at the Dallas Safari Club’s fundraiser, the winning bidder paid $350,000 to hunt down and execute an endangered African black rhino in the African nation of Namibia.

Black Rhino

The executive director of the club, Ben Carter, claims that the money from the auction will actually go toward protecting the species.

Carter adds that the doomed rhino “is old, male and non-breeding” and it would likely be targeted for execution because it’s “becoming aggressive and threatening other wildlife.”

rhino-hunt-auction

Protestors are not buying that and see the thrill kill as sadistic and I agree.

However, I disagree with “death threats” that are allegedly being made against Carter, his family, and the Safari Club.  One of them states, “For every rhino you kill, we will kill a member of the club.”

In the 1960s, there were about 70,000 black rhinos in the wild and now there about 5,000.

“BORN ROUND”

I just finished reading my second book of 2014 and well on my way of surpassing the four that I read last year.  I’ve been wanting to read “Born Round: The Secret History of a Full-Time Eater” by Frank Bruni for some time now.

Born Round

The book traces Bruni’s New York upbringing in a close-knit large Italian family where the women loved to cook and made it an art.

Describing all of the delicacies his mother, grandmother, and aunts created, it was like reading a “food porn” book.

The main focus of the book was that while Frank was a swimmer and athletic, he was compulsive when it came to food.

He was always fighting being overweight with one fad diet after another.  This lead to periods of fasting, binge eating and bulimia, and ballooning up to 268 pounds before he finally took charge of his life and took exercise seriously to responsibly lose the weight .

Frank Bruni Born Round

Once he slimmed down and became fit, Bruni became a restaurant critic for the New York Times.

For five years (2004-2009), he would eat out seven nights a week.  On some of those nights, he would have two or three dinners at some of the most talked about and higher class restaurants in New York.  Those meals consisted of multiple appetizers, entrees, and desserts, and some of the feasts would consists of 20 courses or more!

The book also covers his relationships and during the period of his heaviest weight, the lack of having a boyfriend.

These days, Bruni still works for the Times and he looks amazing.

GRADE:  A-

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

Sweet DreamsButt DialBakery

OSCAR NOMINATIONS ANNOUNCED

While the next few entries are Oscar-related, there are other topics in this blog, so keep reading.

“American Hustle” and “”Gravity” lead this year’s Oscar race with 10 nominations each.  “12 Years a Slave” picked up 9 nominations.

Oscar-Nominations-2014

I accurately predicted that all four main actors in “American Hustle” would get nominated.  I also picked Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts to get acting nominations.  I correctly thought that “Lee Daniels’ The Butler” and Oprah Winfrey would be snubbed, along with Robert Redford for “All Is Lost”.

“AUGUST:  OSAGE COUNTY”

My apologies go out to Amy Adams (five time Oscar nominee with no wins, so far) and Jennifer Lawrence (three Oscar nominations and one win, so far).  Both blew me away in “American Hustle”.

I was pledging my support for them to win until yesterday when I saw “August:  Osage County” with fellow Best Actress nominee Meryl Streep and Best Supporting Actress nominee Julia Roberts.

august_osage_county

Watching this downer of a movie, I can fully understand how Streep picked up her 18th nomination (three wins, so far) and Roberts got her fourth nomination (one win for “Erin Brockovich”).

The material in this movie adapted from the Tracy Letts’ play is heavy:  suicide, oral cancer, infidelity, incest, and inappropriate sexual misconduct with a minor.  However, the acting was incredible.  In addition to Oscar nominees Streep and Roberts, it also stars past Oscar nominees and winners, Sam Shepard, Chris Cooper, Juliette Lewis, and Abigail Breslin.

You have to see this movie!  You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, and most of all, you’ll want to scream, “Eat the fish, bitch”!  (If you haven’t seen the movie, that’s dialogue from a pivotal scene.)

GRADE:  A

CONGRATULATIONS MATTHEW & JARED

I’m happy that Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto were nominated for Oscars after both won much-deserved acting awards at last weekend’s Golden Globes for their incredible performances in the AIDS-themed, “Dallas Buyers Club”.

DALLAS-BUYERS-CLUB

I’ve blogged about the incredible movie many times and it was #3 favorite movie of 2013.  It’s also nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars.

Just in case you haven’t seen the trailer, here it is.

“LEE DANIELS’ THE BUTLER”

While I was hoping for Oprah Winfrey to get an Academy Award nomination for “Lee Daniels’ The Butler”, once I saw the movie a couple of days ago, she had only one scene that screamed Oscar.

When this $30 million movie came out late last summer (it grossed $167.5 million), I wanted to go see in the theaters.  But, I waited for it to arrive on DVD and I’m glad I did.

Lee-Daniels-The-Butler

The movie covers the life of Cecil Gaines, an African-American, who left the South as a cotton picker and then worked 34 years as a butler in the White House under eight presidents.

Oscar winner Forest Whitaker (“The Last King of Scotland”) gives an solid performance as Cecil and Academy Award-nominee Oprah Winfrey (“The Color Purple”) is amazing as Cecil’s boozy wife, Gloria.

While the movie is intense at the beginning on the cotton field where Cecil worked as a child with his parents, the rest of the movie over the next two hours moved along like a “best of” countdown of historical events and the presidents that handled them during Gaines’ year of working at the White House.

The most moving scenes were of disgusts at how white people treated black people and the whites that supported their fight for civil rights back in the 1960s.

And, as a final note, Jane Fonda was an incredible Nancy Reagan.

Jane Fonda Nancy Reagan

When the movie was in theaters, the controversies surrounded Fonda, a liberal playing one of the most beloved conservative first wives in history, and Fonda’s days that go back to the Vietnam when she was referred to as “Hanoi Jane”.  There was even a movie theater in Kentucky that refused to the play “The Butler” because of Fonda. (Go figure!  I can say that because I’m from there.)

GRADE:  B-

HOLY F*#K SCORSESE

Martin Scorsese’s latest, “The Wolf of Wall Street”, received major Oscar nominations for Best Picture, Director, Actor (Leonardo DiCaprio), and Supporting Actor (Jonah Hill).  While the movie isn’t exactly setting box office records, it does hold one motion picture record.

The Wolf of Wall Street

The $100 million dollar movie about excess is also excessive on the use of the f-word.

There are 506 uses of the f-word or variations of it.  That easily beats out Spike Lee’s 1999 thriller, “Summer of Sam” with 435 f-bombs.

Only a documentary called “F*ck”, which is about the f-word, is higher in count at 857 times.

F Documentary

Scorsese also has two other movies in the top twenty on the list:  “Casino” at 422 and “Goodfellas” with 300.

And, I thought I used the word a lot!  Either it’s a popular word (my theory) or Hollywood writers are not very creative.  No comment about the number of remakes and sequels when it comes to creativity!

SO FAR, SO GOOD

We’re now halfway through the month of January and I’m happy to report that Ray and I are doing well on our healthy eating and exercise regiment to shed those 15-20 unwanted pounds.

And, we’re treating ourselves one cheat brunch or buffet each week including this one last Sunday with unlimited mimosas and a piece of cheesecake that I decorated myself!

Cheesecake

During my first week of being healthy, I lost 3.2 pounds!  It’s taken a lot of self-control of cutting back on wine and vodka (and food), making fun, tempting salads and veggies, and walking a lot on the treadmill.  At least, I’m getting some reading done!

INTERESTING TIDBITS

Better Homes & Gardens (July 2013):  The average American will walk 35,000 miles in a lifetime and will watch nine years of television!

Watching TV

And, speaking of television, I only watch three network shows, “The Following”, “Hannibal”, and “Under The Dome”, and one of them returns this weekend.

“THE FOLLOWING” SEASON 2 PREMIERE

I guess I’ll be tired Monday morning at work because the second season of “The Following” kicks off this Sunday night (January 19) after the football game on Fox.

The Following S 2

“I’M A LITTLE BIT COUNTRY”

Growing up in Kentucky, I was raised on country music from our AM radio station, WNGO, 1320 AM in Mayfield.

One of my favorite songs as a kid was the first hit from the St. Louis, Missouri, father-daughter duo, The Kendalls, Royce and Jeannie.

“Heaven’s Just A Sin Away” not only became the Kendalls first hit in 1977, it also became the biggest hit of their career topping the country chart for four weeks and reaching #69 on the Billboard Hot 100.

TheKendalls

It also won the 1978 Grammy Award for Best Country Vocal by a Duo or Group.

From 1977 to 1985, the Kendalls scored 22 hits on the Billboard Country chart.  Of those, 11 reached the Top Ten, and three topped the charts:  “Heaven;s Just A Sin Away”, “Sweet Desire” in 1978, and “Thank God For the Radio” in 1984, which Alan Jackson also recorded for his 1994 album, “Who I Am”.

Royce Kendall died of stroke in 1998 at the age of 62.  Jeannie still occasionally records music and tours.

THAT’S IT FOR NOW

Have a great weekend and thank you for checking out my blog.  It was nice sleeping in.  I was just dreaming that we moved to a different house and that Gretel and I got to meet international superstar DJ, Avicii.

So, at the last minute, I’m including his current Top 40 American hit, “Hey Brother”, the follow-up to the top five smash, “Wake Me Up”.

Anthony