Reviews and Blog Posts: movies

Happy Birthday, Archie Leach!

Photograph of Cary Grant

January 18 was the day of Archibald Leach's birth, in 1904, in Bristol, England. Leach, a one-time stilt walker and vaudevillian, would become world famous in the 1930s under a different name... Cary Grant.

Grant originally came to the United States as part of a stage troupe and stayed when everyone else went home. After spending almost a decade in vaudeville and on stage, he went to Hollywood and his new bosses at Paramount pictures renamed him Cary Grant (the initials, C.G., were already popular with moviegoers--Clark Gable and Gary Cooper were two of the biggest movie stars in the world).

It's like Shakespeare... on a plane

A drawing of William Shakespeare

While Kenneth Branagh's 1989 Henry V itself was not a Hollywood production, its critical and commercial success led to a new wave of Shakespeare adaptations.

Franco Zeffirelli's 1990 Hamlet is something of an exception--it completed Zeffirelli's Shakespeare trilogy. He started it in the sixties with Taming of the Shrew and Romeo and Juliet.

For the early 1990s, Branagh was the popular face of Shakespeare--he adapted Much Ado About Nothing in 1993 and appeared (but did not direct) in 1995's Othello.

Happy Birthday, Amanda Peet!

a photograph of American actor Amanda Peet

Born on January 11, 1972, native New Yorker Amanda Peet turns 40 today.

Peet's career took time to build, with the actor spending a lot of her time on television and in ensemble pictures before The Whole Nine Yards brought her more prominent attention. She's now starred in over forty films.

Happy Birthday, Dame Maggie Smith!

The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie

Dame Margaret Natalie Smith, aka Maggie Smith, was born December 28, 1934 in Essex, England. She is a highly respected actress, winner of 2 Academy Awards, 2 Golden Globes, 2 Emmy Awards, 2 SAG Awards, and a Tony. Her films have ranged from the serious to the comedic. She currently stars in the television series Downton Abbey. Check out one of the titles from her vast filmography today!

Othello (1964)

The V.I.P.s (1963)

The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (1969)

Travels with My Aunt (1972)

Death on the Nile (1978)

Thanksgiving (Dysfunction Palooza) 2011

Norman Rockwell's Freedom From Want

Are Norman Rockwell's images portrayals of the world he lived in or are they wishful painting?

One year for Thanksgiving, I begged my mom to bring the roasted turkey to the table uncarved so that we might participate in a tableau vivant of Norman Rockwell's painting Freedom From Want. As a middle class kid interested in art, I was familiar with many of Rockwell's beloved illustrations and I was convinced that this Thanksgiving scene should be acted out. Here's how it went down:

What If Shakespeare Wasn't Really Shakespeare?

Possible portrait of William Shakespeare

What if William Shakespeare of Stratford-upon-Avon didn't actually write the plays and poems of "Shakespeare?" What if someone else secretly wrote them and Shakespeare was merely a front?

This is the plot of the new movie Anonymous, but the Shakespeare authorship question has been around for more than 200 years. The historical Shakespeare didn't leave much of a paper trail - and some people believe he lacked the education and experience to write such masterpieces of English literature as Hamlet and Macbeth.

Many different people have been proposed as the true author of his works - Christopher Marlowe, Francis Bacon, and even Queen Elizabeth herself!

From the File: Where Are They Now?

The children of the village of Midwich, England. Don't make them mad.

Just in time for the season of scares, I've researched the Village of the Damned kids. They are apparently all doing nicely on a Paris runway.

Enquiring minds want to know. So I tried to track down the actors who played the oddly empowered kiddies in the cult flick Village of the Damned. Where do you go, career-wise, after you've lit up the big screen with glowing eyes and mind powers that can enslave an entire English village?

According to this photo of a recent Paris fashion show, you go on to become an expressionless runway model. Same hair, but glowing headlights on dim.

Tina Darling, Mommie's Home!

 Faye Dunaway's portrayal of Joan Crawford in Mommie Dearest has become a cult classic. Fresh City Life presents this weird, absurd biopic as our KnitFlix movie for October.

 It was meant to be a faithful film rendition of Christina Crawford's book of the same title, but Mommie Dearest quickly became a midnight showing cult film. In fact, during its initial release, it developed a following as loyal as The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

I'm not a film academic, so I can't know with any certainty why Mommie Dearest moved into the realm of cult classic. But some of the reasons I love it might be contributing factors. In no particular order:

Three Film Fiestas left in July!

Film Fiesta image

Three free Film Fiestas remain in July at Su Teatro at the Denver Civic Theater! On the remaining Wednesdays in July--July 13, 20 and 27--see movies, performers and food related to various Latino cultures.

Plus, Byers Branch Library has related book displays and some children's activities during their regular hours.

All events are FREE and open to the public, except for parking in some cases. Free parking is available on the street for those that arrive early. Lots are available for $3.00 on the north and south sides of the theater.

Movies that Tell the Story of America

Fourth of July fireworks

The holiday weekend promises to be a hot one! Stay cool inside with a movie about American history and culture.

As a child, I looked forward to the Fourth like it was Christmas in July. I wasn't especially patriotic or anything, it was just that the Fourth of July was the one day in the whole year when all of the kids ruled the neighborhood. We had a bike parade, an ice cream social, a block party that took up the whole street, and we shot off fireworks from the time we woke up until midnight, starting with caps and snakes in the daylight and ending with the most dramatic, colorful, and highest-flying for a nighttime spectacle (I didn't grow up in Denver so I wasn't breaking any laws!)

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