Tuesday, July 28, 2015

J-Lo's had 'Enough' and she's not going to take it anymore!

Director: Michael Apted
Cast: Jennifer Lopez, Billy Campbell, Juliette Lewis, Dan Futterman, Fred Ward
Released: May 24, 2002
Viewed in theaters: June 2, 2002

This movie. OMG, this movie. It could have been so good if it had a better screenplay, if it weren't so damned rushed and made more sense! It was like this movie just couldn't wait to the part where J-Lo lays the smackdown on her husband (or was he her ex by this time? IDK...tells how much I was paying attention to it!) Yes, this is the movie where J-Lo beats up her abusive husband and you are rooting for her to do it because he just smacks her around (and even pushes their five year old daughter off of him when she jumps on him when he's beating up her mom and that really pisses off J-Lo). Apparently it's based on a book by Anna Quindlen called "Black and Blue. " (I can't remember if you italicize, underline, or put book titles in quotation marks, so I did all three!) I have a feeling it's very loosely based on that book.

The way Slim (Lopez - and who the hell is named "Slim"? Sounds like it should have been one of her aliases instead of her real name!) and Mitch, the abusive husband (Billy Campbell) meet doesn't make any sense. Slim is a waitress at a diner in L.A. along with her best friend, Ginny (Juliette Lewis) and one afternoon this guy, I don't know his name, but we'll just call him Carter since he's played by Noah Wyle, so Carter is sitting in a booth reading a book being waited on by Sim and he's flirting with her and Ginny tells Slim to ask him out so she goes back and starts flirting with him and they make plans for a date and as this is going on, I'm thinking, I don't remember Carter being the abusive husband in this, but then the camera pans farther back so we see a guy get up in the booth behind Carter and tell him he's a jerk because he overheard Carter making a bet with a friend that he could get Slim to sleep with him and this makes Slim angry and tells Carter to get out. The guy who had defended her is Mitch and she is very thankful for what he did and they end up dating and get married and have a daughter. And everything is fine as they are the picture of a happy family until one day, Slim finds out her husband is cheating on her. By now their daughter is about five, so everything has been going pretty smoothly for at least five years. When Slim confronts him about this, he smacks her and tells her some bs about he has needs that she can't fulfill.

We also later found out that he's friends with Carter (who didn't see that coming?) and they had planned this little trick along. I don't know why he ended up marrying Slim if she wasn't satisfying him and why he wanted to stay married to her, but he gets really possessive of her and it was really weird how they were happy for at least five years and then he snaps and starts acting like a total jerk to her. Oh, and the time it takes from when they meet to the first time he hits her? Seven minutes. I'm pretty sure that's what it was. It was really rushed! And remember, this is in a span of at least five years! WTF?

So Slim keeps getting smacked around and she tries everything she can to escape but this guy has thought of everything and she can't get past him. Even when she escapes with her daughter to stay with a friend, Joe (Dan Futterman) in Seattle, Mitch and his cronies suspect that she might be there and threaten Joe so Slim leaves because she doesn't want to put anyone she cares about in danger.

With the help of Ginny, Slim and her daughter do managed to escape for quite a while without being detected by Mitch. She has cut her hair really short and changed her name to Erin. She is able to get money from her rich estranged father, Jupiter (Fred Ward) so she doesn't have to worry about her finances. They're there for a few months before Carter finds them (I forget how he tracked them down) and he tries to run her car off the road which results in a long car chase until she drives under a structure which his huge SUV can't fit under and he gets stuck.

The time has finally come for the attack! Slim has had one training session with a buff black dude (okay, it was probably more than one session, but the way it was filmed, it looked like she learned all this stuff in one day) and she is ready to kick Mitch's ass. She sneaks into his house at night and while he goes to work the next day, she accesses the place and moves his guns so he won't be able to find them, learns how to cut off and turn back on the power, moves the furniture around so she won't get tripped up on it when she's fighting Mitch. He comes home later that night and we get the big show down between the two of them and I do love the scene where Slim smacks Mitch and he says he doesn't want to fight and she goes, "Oh, so now you can't hit back? You didn't have trouble hitting me when I was defenseless." It doesn't take long before he is pissed off and starts hitting back. There's a moment where she has an opportunity when he is (seemingly) conscious, but she can't  do it, so she calls her friend, but while on the phone, she gets attacked and knocked out by him. But she's not totally knocked out that she can't kick him in the groin and send him flying off the balcony to his death. Or something like that. I can't remember exactly how it went. She ends up reunited with her daughter (who she sent on a vacation with her friend and her children) and ends up with Joe. Yay.

I seriously felt like I was getting whiplash from this movie.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Dreaming Of You

Director: Gregory Nava
Cast: Jennifer Lopez, Edward James Olmos, Jon Seda, Jackie Guerra
Released: March 21, 1997

Late at night when all the world is sleeping...
I stay up and think of you...
and I still can't believe 
that you came up to me
and said, "I love you."
....I love you too!

That's my favorite line from my favorite Selena song. To be fair, I only know two of her songs: "Dreaming of You" and "I Could Fall in Love", both of which are featured in this movie, to nobody's surprise. This is a biopic about Selena Quintanilla (yes, she did have a last name!), a Mexican-American growing up in Texas who started singing with her brother and sister when she was around 12 in a band her father created, then started branching out as a solo singer when she became a teenager. Even though she knew English (I believe it was her first language), she sung in Spanish so she was very popular with the Spanish-speaking population of America, and Mexico, of course. In fact, I just checked Wiki and it said her father had to teach her how to say the words phonetically, so she did not know Spanish. I guess he thought it would be an easier market than the English-speaking one! She was nominated for Best Mexican/American album (I had no idea that was even a category!) at the Grammys in 1994 and won which propelled her status with the rest of the world and was invited to make her first English-speaking album which came out the next year.

Now none of this really warrants a movie about someone's life. It's great to see someone slowly become more successful, but there were really no struggles that she had to go through (well, that's not totally true...she did have a couple, but we'll get to those later). But it's not like she was Tina Turner who literally came from nothing to make something of herself, only to have to endure with an abusive spouse. The reason that there is a biopic about Selena is because she was murdered at the very young age of 23. We'll get to who murdered her, and why and how and all that later. She was murdered in 1995 and this movie came out two years later (in fact, almost to the date as she was killed on March 31). It does seem like they were trying to capitalize on her death by having the movie released only a couple years later...you know they probably made it only a year after she died. But if they got the family's permission (which I believe they did), then that's all that matters.

Before she was
Jennifer Lopez plays Selena. At the time, she wasn't J-Lo as we all know and love her. (Or not if you're not a J-Lo fan!) This was her first starring role. She was 28 and plays Selena from ages 17-23. She looks young enough that it's not an issue and when she plays teenaged Selena they do a good job with giving her a short haircut with bangs and dress her in denim shorts and clothes a teen would wear. Her hair was really dark...even more dark than when you see Lopez with dark hair, like it was almost black. When she had bangs, I could see "Selena" and forget that Jennifer Lopez was there...except when she talked because Jennifer Lopez always sounds like, well, Jennifer Lopez! But when she had her hair back and didn't have bangs, oh man, all I saw was Jennifer Lopez. Especially in this one scene where she's wearing a leather newsboy cap that totally screams J-Lo. All I could see was a young Jennifer Lopez. It was a little distracting. Of course, I'm seeing this movie all these years later after Jennifer Lopez has become a huge name in the business, so of course it's going to be distracting. At the time this movie was released, she had been in a few things, but hadn't become what she is now. But I think she did very well for her first starring role. When she sang, they used Selena's tracks over the song so you would hear her voice, which thank God, because Selena was a much better singer than J-Lo is! Plus it would be weird hearing J-Lo's voice singing Selena's songs!  Here is a photo of the real Selena next to Jennifer Lopez: 

The most interesting part of the movie and the thing she struggles with most is her relationship with her band's guitarist, Chris Perez (Jon Seda). Chris comes from a rough and tumble background that her father and manager (Edward James Olmos) does not approve of, but he plays one hell of a guitar which is why he got the gig. Her father is very strict with her. He does not like her wearing her studded brasiers, even though she would wear them with pants so it wasn't like she was showing that much skin! Actually, the worst outfit she wears in the entire movie is what (appeared to be) was her final performance. She was wearing this purple jumpsuit and it was open at the stomach so you could see skin there...which was just really weird. Plus J-Lo and her Kim Kardishan-sized butt looked ridiculous in it. Maybe the real Selena pulled it off better, although she would still have that weird stomach baring circle of non-fabric. Her best outfit was the dress she wore at the Grammys. But I'm getting off topic...after her father discovered they were in a relationship, he yelled at both of them, accused Chris of only wanting to be with his daughter for her money,
fired Chris, yelled at Selena some more, she cried, he held his ground. Selena and Chris secretly stayed together, she would find time to sneak out to be with him. They eloped in 1992 and by this time she was a well-known figure within the Mexican-American community and her wedding was leaked on the radio right away, forcing Selena to tell her father. She had planned to tell him anyway...but wanted to give it a day or two before she did. He told her that at first he was angry, but then understood why she did it and he was proud of her and welcomed Chris to the family. I don't know if it went that smoothly in real life! Probably not!

Sometimes this movie played like a really bad episode of Ugly Betty, you know the hijinks of a Mexican-American family. But even Ugly Betty was never as bad as this movie got sometimes. For instance, there's a scene when a young-and-upcoming Selena is driving somewhere in a van with her brother and sister and it breaks down so they have to pull over by the side of the road. The brother tries to wave some cars down, but they pass, and Selena says, "Let me show you how it's done" and of course she gets the first car to pull over because she's beautiful and wearing skimpy clothes and there are two young guys in the car who pull over to help them. They get really excited when they realize the hot chick they're going to help is Selena and say in these really thick accents, "Ooh, eeet's Seeeleeeenaaaaa!" But that wasn't the worst part. No, the worse part is when they're about to call their dad to let them know that the van broke down and Selena says, "I can just see it now" and then she mocks her dad saying, "You guys did what!?!?!?" Then cut to their father on the phone exclaiming, "You guys did what?!?!?" Oh my God, it was SO bad! So terrible! So cringeworthy. So awful. That was the worst example, but it was little things like that which didn't elevate the movie any higher.

There was another scene which I'm 150 percent sure never happened in real life and was only thrown in to the movie for comedic relief or the director was a huge fan of Pretty Woman. Selena has just been nominated for her first Grammy and takes her entourage to Los Angeles to go shopping.  When you think of Grammys and buying a dress for the event, where is the first place you would go? Probably NOT the mall....but that is where she and her sister (or a friend...I can't remember who was with her) go. What the hell? The freakin' mall? To buy a dress for the Grammys? Ridiculous. They do find a higher-end store because when Selena is looking at a dress, a saleswoman passes by and she says, "Excuse me, how much for this dress?" and the saleswoman sniffs and says, "More than you can afford. It's $700." Obviously she was being racist to this young Latina woman. Well, being that this is Los Angeles and Selena is popular with Mexican-Americans and L.A. is full of them (imagine that!), a Hispanic custodian sees Selena go into the dressing room and he starts passing the word on and soon all the Hispanic people who work at the mall are coming to that store and crowding around. The white, 40-ish saleswoman is really confused and has no idea what's going on. Selena has a very Vivian Ward moment where she tells the saleswoman, "I won't be needing that dress...but thanks." In the end, she chose a beautiful dress for the Grammys that did NOT look like it came from the damn mall!

For anyone watching this who wasn't familiar with Selena or her story, they would get very confused by her death scene. They don't actually show it, which I understand, probably out of respect for the family as it had only been two years since her death. But even I was like, "What the hell just happened?" even though I know that Selena was murdered by the woman who ran her fan club. She was appointed the job in 1994. In early 1995, Selena's father began receiving calls from people who never got their stuff. I would always see information about fan clubs in my CD booklets, but I never joined any so I have no idea what it all entailed. Do fan clubs still exist even? I honestly have no idea. He did an investigation and discovered that she had embezzled more than $60,000 from the money fans were sending in to join the fan club and from the fashion line Selena had. Holy crap. I forgot where Mr. Q found her, but didn't they do a background check on this woman? When Selena goes to confront her, this is when she was killed. I guess the woman was scared and she didn't want Selena to blab and go to the police....so shooting someone will make it all better. If you think you're going to get some time for embezzling, I'm pretty sure you're gonna get some hard time for murder! Idiot. Hope she's enjoying her time in prison! And it's just really sad being that Selena was only 23 and had a bright future ahead of her as a rising star with her first English-language album just being released a few months later after her death. I remember "Dreaming Of You" and "I Could Fall in Love" being played all over the radio during that time.

In the movie, they show a bunch of cop cars at the motel where Selena went to talk to her murderer. Then you see her death being announced on TV and her family at the hospital looking very crushed and devastated. She was still alive after she was shot and was rushed to the hospital, but they couldn't save her. The part that made me really tear up was the end when they played "Dreaming of You" (of course!) and showed images of the real Selena from her various moments in life and footage of people mourning her death and placing flowers and cards as memorials.

And because the text doesn't do it any justice, here's the audio form of my favorite line from my favorite Selena song. Beautiful!

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Maid to Order!

Maid in Manhattan
Director: Wayne Wang
Cast: Jennifer Lopez, Ralph Fiennes, Natasha Richardson, Stanley Tucci, Bob Hoskins
Released: December 13, 2002
Viewed in theaters: December 16, 2002

This movie is like a PG-rated version of Pretty Woman, only replace a prostitute with a hotel maid. As for as romantic comedies go, this one is meh. It's not great, but it's not horrible. Jennifer Lopez and Ralph Fiennes are fine in their roles, except they really don't have any chemistry with each other. Lopez is Marissa, a single mother of a ten year old boy, Ty. She works as a maid for a fancy New York Hotel where they receive many important guests. This includes Senator Chris (Fiennes) who is staying there with his assistant (Tucci) and dog. All I can tell you about Chris is that he's a Republican...I really don't remember anything else about his politics. Either because it was boring or because there really was nothing else.

The late, great Natasha Richardson plays socialite Caroline who is also staying at the hotel the same time as Chris. She is a bit demanding of Marisa, asking her to do this and do that. This includes taking back a designer outfit to the store that she doesn't want. In one of the stupidest scenes of the movie, while Marissa and a fellow maid friend are in the room with Marissa gathering the garment, her friend eggs her on to try on the outfit. It's white pants, a white sleeveless turtleneck, and a white coat. (Duh, it's the outfit in the above photo!) Marissa says no, she can't do that, but her friend says it's her size and it's going back to the store anyway so it doesn't belong to Caroline so what's the problem? Uh, because you shouldn't try on other people's clothes, you dolt!

Meanwhile, Ty is at the hotel because his dad couldn't pick him up for a trip they were suppose to take so Marissa has to watch him. I don't know why she didn't leave him with her mother, but instead brings him to work. He sneaks off from doing homework and runs into Chris and his assistant and dog in an elevator. Ty knows who he is and Chris is impressed with his knowledge of politics. We had already seen a scene earlier of Ty giving a speech on Richard Nixon, so you'd think the movie was establishing he was into politics, right? No, wrong! He did the speech on Nixon because he's obsessed with the '70s as J-Lo later tells Fiennes. WTF? What kind of kid from 2002 likes the '70s? Nobody likes the '70s! Horrible music, horrible fashion, horrible home furnishings! It's the decade that gave us The Brady Bunch for god's sake! I mean, c'mon!

So Chris tells Ty that he is taking his dog for a walk and Ty asks if he can come and Chris says sure why not. Okay, yeah, just go for a walk with Voldemort! But seriously, it's a little weird that Chris is letting a young boy take a walk with him. Like that's not going to be suspicious to people who see that in the paper. He tells Ty to get permission from his mom so he takes them all up to Caroline's suite (I guess she told him where she would be) and Marisa is wearing the all-white ensemble (and quickly hides the tag). She gives a "be quiet" motion to her son not to blow her cover and pretends to be the Caroline who is staying in the suite. She goes out for a walk with Chris in Central Park wearing that all white outfit. You think something is going to happen, like a rip or a stain, and while there is a moment of horror when a magazine gets stuck to her butt (don't ask), everything is fine and she is able to return the outfit to the closet (she never had time to return it to the store) safe and sound. And not only do they walk around Central Park, but they also go to the zoo. So you're outside for a couple hours and don't even get one little stain on all that white fabric? Uh huh.

Chris is very taken with "Caroline" and wants to meet her again. However, when he sends a note to the suite asking Caroline to meet him for lunch, the note gets to the real Caroline and she is giddy because she had met Chris before once and knew they had "shared a moment". Marisa and the head butler (Bob Hoskins) are there to help out (I don't know why they need two people to help serve two people eating lunch...) and Marissa has to hide herself so Chris doesn't see her. Remember, he doesn't know she's a maid and thinks she's a rich socialite! When Chris sees a white blond woman enter, he is very confused and asks where that hot Latina woman is. Okay, he didn't say that! He actually referred to her as "Mediterranean." Butler Hoskins realizes that it's Marissa he's referring to and lets her leave so she can quit hiding behind flower vases and tea pots.

While driving somewhere, Chris sees Marissa and Ty walking and pulls over to talk to them. He tells them he's going to the Bronx to...I don't remember....and Marissa says "Blah, blah, you can't learn everything from just visiting there once. You didn't grow up there like I did or live there like I do." You think that this is going to be a political movement that will bring them closer together. Maybe Marissa will point out some issues that need to be addressed within her home district and he will bring awareness to it, but no, it never goes there.

He invites her to some ball, and Marissa still keeping up the charade, gets all dolled up in her Cinderella moment. There she runs into Caroline who recognizes her and outs her in front of Chris and everybody and accuses her of wearing her clothes. Somehow she found out about that...I forgot how. Marissa is fired and Chris is angry she lied to her. Who really cares. They only spent a day walking in a park and then had a one night stand after the Cinderella dance. But then Ty brings them back together and they become one of New York's most high profiled couple! GROAN!

Oh, I forgot to mention another really stupid scene: Marissa needs something, so she goes down to the hotel's gift shop (I'm assuming) and the woman at the register is talking on the phone and it's obvious she's talking with a friend and not helping out a customer and she's just blowing off Marissa and the other people behind her until Marissa finally yells at her and tells her to do her damn job. This scene is only in here to establish that Marissa would make a fine good manager, a job that her friend has applied her for. I have never seen somebody in customer service blatantly ignoring a customer while talking to a friend on the phone. You would have to be PRETTY STUPID to do that!

The more I think about it, the more stupid this movie is!

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Simply the Best

What's Love Got To Do With It?
Director: Brian Gibson
Cast: Angela Bassett, Laurence Fishburne, Jennifer Lewis, Vanessa Bell Calloway, Khandi Alexander, Chi McBride
Released: June 25, 1993

Oscar nominations:
Best Actress - Angela Bassett (lost to Holly Hunter for The Piano)
Best Actor - Laurence Fishburne (lost to Tom Hanks for Philadelphia)

I was a big fan of Tina Turner's music before I saw this movie and knew about her past with the abusive Ike Turner, but after watching this, I had a whole new appreciation for the struggles she went through and how she became a superstar recording artist. This is probably one of the better music biopics I've seen. It's based on an autobiography Tina Turner wrote called I, Tina. The movie mainly focuses on her meeting Ike Turner and how she became a recording artist. We do get a few scenes of her as a little girl, then named Anna Mae Bullock (while I did know that Tina Turner wasn't her given name, I couldn't have told you her birth name prior to seeing this film) growing up in Nutbush, Tennessee. Now that song "Nutbush City Limits" makes a lot of sense! "They call it Nutbush! Oh, Nutbush! Nutbush city limits! Nutbush city!" On the Nutbush, TN Wiki page, it says that "Nutbush is best known as the home of Tina Turner." Who would have thought? That's probably the only thing they're known for (it's a town with a population of a little over a thousand people).  You have to admit that's a pretty impressive thing to be known for. What are the odds that a town with such a small population would have produced one of the world's most successful singers? And I'm sure you'll find many signs like this if you drive through it:

The movie establishes her love of singing as we see her as a young girl singing (very loudly) in the church choir. She is so disruptive and obnoxious that the choir director kicks her out! As a teenager, she relocates to St. Louis where she sees Ike Turner (Laurence Fishburne), the bandleader of a band called Kings of Rhythm, perform at a bar. The ladies think Ike is very smooth and charismatic and every time his band plays "Darlin', You Know I Love You" (a song I was not aware of prior to seeing this film), he lets one of his many admirers try her hand at singing, but will take the mic away if she gets booed for being awful. Anna Mae and her sister go back to the club and when the song is played, her sister convinces her to take the mic and sing. Anna Mae had been practicing the song and is embarrassed when her sister and mother catch her singing it into the bathroom mirror. This is the scene where Anna Mae catches Ike's eye (and ear!)

Obviously Angela Bassett is lip-synching with Tina Turner's voice dubbed in. I believe Tina provided all the vocal tracks for the film. Which you kind of need because she has such a distinctive singing voice. It's hard to imagine anyone else but Angela Bassett in the iconic role because she is so great in it, but there were other big names up for the part including Whitney Houston. That would have been really weird to see a really popular singer play a....really popular singer. I know they would have made her up to look like Tina and any signs of Whitney Houston would have vanished, but it still would be weird. Plus, let's be honest, while Whitney was a great singer, she really wasn't that great in the acting department. Okay, at best. Everyone knows that Angela Bassett can act circles around her. There's really no contest.

Anna Mae becomes ones of Ike's back up singers, known as the Ikettes. She is clearly the best singer and becomes Ike's favorite. This is where the movie starts to move fairly fast. Anna Mae moves in with Ike, gets pregnant, they get married in Mexico, they have a baby boy. We get a very quick scene where Ike tells Anna Mae that new name is Tina Turner. There's no explanation on why 'Tina" was chosen. Perhaps he likes alliteration?

Soon Ike and Tina Turner become a sensational duo and are writing and recording hits and making lots of money and are soon able to afford a nice house with a pool and furnished with nice stuff. Ike is angry at Tina for buying so much stuff and tells her she needs to sing the songs he's writing for her better and she offends him by saying all his songs are starting to sound the same. This results in the first time we see Ike get physically abusive towards her and it's pretty harrowing to watch. He is slapping her, dragging her, punching her, cussing at her in front of their children (their biological son and Ike's two sons from a previous marriage whose ex-wife (Khandi Alexander) had dropped off at their house one day and both adults are arguing RIGHT IN FRONT OF THE CHILDREN. Real nice!)

At one point, Tina tries to escape when she leaves the house in the middle of the night and takes the children with her to her mother's. They take a bus and while at a pit stop, she has her son, but is trying to find her step-sons and finds them by Ike's car. He had found them and threatens for Tina to get into the car with him and the children.

While performing some of their latest hits on an American Bandstand-type show (maybe that was the show), Tina and Ike are approached by Phil Spector who wants to record a song with Tina. Ike mistakes this and thinks this means BOTH of them, but no, he only wants Tina. The song is "River Deep, Mountain High" and this was the first song played in the movie that I was familiar with. This was around 1965 and this is where Tina starts becoming much more popular than Ike which makes him jealous and makes him more irate which only results in more beatings for Tina. He even rapes her in their home recording booth after beating her up and getting angry at her for the way she's singing a song.

Of course we get a scene of Ike and Tina singing what is their most well-known song, "Proud Mary". In fact, this song is so synonymous  with them, that I always thought they were the original writers/singers of the song and all the covers came after them, but it was first recorded by the band, Creedence Clearwater Revival. But ask anybody who sings that song and I'll guarantee you they'll say, "Tina Turner".

At one point, Ike beats Tina so bad that she ends up in the hospital and she is visited by one of the former, Ikettes, Jackie (Vanessa Bell Calloway), one of Tina's closest friends. She has always pleaded for Tina to leave Ike. She turns Tina onto Buddhism which helps her calm herself and gather her thoughts. It gives her confidence and it's the turning point for her when she and Ike are staying in a swanky hotel while on tour and Ike beats Tina so bad that she has blood all over her face. She runs out of the room and out of the hotel, crosses a busy street with cars honking everywhere and goes to a cheaper hotel where she asks to speak to the manager and says, "My name is Tina Turner and I need a room. I only have 32 cents in my pocket but I promise I will pay you back." Of course they accommodate her.

That incident was the final straw and soon Ike and Tina are in court. Tina says that Ike can have all the rights to their songs and keep all their material possessions and pretty much everything else. The only thing she wants to keep is her name. She is so confident in her ability to build herself up with her name and talent that she doesn't care if she looses everything she's earned along the way. This makes Ike angry (what else is new?) and says that was the name he gave her and that she should be stripped of it if she is leaving him, but the judge lets her keep her famous household name.

Obviously we know who the real winner is. Tina Turner went on to become one of the most famous recording artists in the world and is worth millions of dollars. After breaking up with Ike in 1978, she began working on her solo career and in 1984 released an album with all the songs I'm most familiar with like "What's Love Got To Do With It?" and "Private Dancer." Just as I did with Michael Jackson Madonna, and Whitney Houston, she is one of the artists I grew up with so of course I'm mostly familiar with her '80s music. (Although of course I knew "Proud Mary" as a child). She went on to record many popular hits. She's won eight Grammys. I know she now resides in Switzerland. I remember she was living in the south of France at one time (I think it was Nice?) and about ten years ago InStyle magazine did an article (complete with gorgeous photos) of her estate. Tina Turner's life is just fine. Ike, on the other hand, became known as being a wife abuser and never really elevated to any fame besides being the ex-husband (and abuser) of Tina Turner. He's only known for being a bad guy, really. He spent some time in jail for drug-related charges, continued his drug habit with cocaine and died in 2007. His life did not turn out so well.

The movie ends with Tina singing her new hit single (at the time), "What's Love Got To Do With It?" because you couldn't NOT have that song in this movie! It's kind of cool because you see Angela Bassett in the famous Tina Turner shag wig sing it and then it shows the real Tina Turner singing the song at a huge stadium. While Angela and Tina have completely different shaped faces and facial features, their bodies are very physically similar and Angela emulates Tina's stage mannerisms so well. You know that she did her homework with studying Tina during her performances.

Highly recommended; I might even go so far as to say that this is my favorite music movie biopic.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

What a Feeling

Inside Out
Directors: Pete Doctor and Ronald Del Carmen
Voice Talent: Amy Poehler, Mindy Kaling, Bill Hader, Phyllis Smith, Lewis Black, Richard Kind, Diane Lane, Kyle McLachlan, Kaitlyn Dias
Released: June 19, 2015
Viewed in theaters: June 22, 2015

Congratulations, Pixar, you've done it again! You've managed to make me cry like a baby while watching one of your films. This is the first Pixar movie I've seen in the theater since Toy Story 3 in 2010 and the first new Pixar movie I've watched since seeing Brave on DVD in early 2013, but the wait was worth it. I loved it. It's really hard for Pixar to do any wrong. And this one ranks on the higher end of their list. I made sure to attend the 9 pm show to make sure there weren't any kids around. I have had made the mistake of seeing Pixar movies in the middle of the afternoon with tons of screaming kids and no, I will not ever make that mistake again and I never did. Ironically, I saw Jurassic World at 9 pm and there were kids everywhere! Including a few younger than the age of five! WTF? The youngest people at my Inside Out viewing were teenagers. 

Spoilers ahoy! (See this movie!)

They take an interesting approach with this movie as the emotions in an eleven year old girl's heads are the characters and take the "controls" for whenever Riley (the young girl) is feeling a certain emotion. 

Anger, Disgust, Joy, Fear, and Sadness

The emotions are Joy (Amy Poehler), Sadness (Phyllis Smith), Anger (Lewis Black), Fear (Bill Hader), and Disgust (Mindy Kaling). There is a memory vault of the emotions that Riley acquires and each memory is represented by its emotion's corresponding color. Joy is represented by yellow and therefore most of Riley's emotions are yellow. (You can see in the above pictures the colored orbs behind the characters...those are the memories). Joy is very proud that the majority of Riley's memories have been happy and takes great pride in that. Riley loves her life in Minnesota. She has many friends, loves to play hockey, and joke around with her mom and dad (voiced by Diane Lane and Kyle McLachlan). Joy couldn't ask for anything better and thinks nothing will ever go wrong until the family moves to San Francisco causing all the emotions panic. 

Nothing goes right with the move. Riley doesn't like her new house and the moving van has gotten lost along the way. She has trouble making friends at her new school and misses Minnesota. (And I loved how it was always "Minnesota" - because nobody knows any cities in that state!) As Joy explains to us, part of Riley's mind is creating Personality Islands. These help define Riley and make her who she is. These include Friendship Island, Family Island, Hockey Island, etc. However, these start to crumble as Riley loses interest in hockey because it's not the same to her anymore or getting angry at her best friend back home.

Riley's mother tells her she knows that moving has been tough on her and that she wants her to stay strong and be her "happy girl" as Riley is known for being positive most of the time. Riley tries to do that for her parents, but it's gotten to be too much for her. This rings very true for me and I'm sure many others as sometimes you feel like you need to be happy/positive for the sake of others, but inside you are anything but.

Meanwhile, inside her head, Joy is trying to keep Riley happy while also making sure Sadness doesn't get anywhere near the controls or turn one of Riley's memories into a sad one. She draws a circle for Sadness to stand in and keep all the sadness in that small circle. Joy doesn't want Sadness to be an overwhelming emotion for Riley.

Somehow, Joy and Sadness get sucked out of "headquarters" and end up in Riley's subconscious where, in order to get back to the control room, they have to get through Long term Memory while hitching a ride on the Train of Thought and along the way they enter Imagination Land and Dream Productions. They even go through a section which was Abstract Thought. I'm pretty sure that one flew over all the kiddies' heads! 

Joy's and Sadness's trek to get back to Headquarters is a journey and meanwhile, Anger, Disgust, and Fear have become the main emotions for Riley which results in her back talking and yelling at her parents. There was one scene where we saw her parents' own emotions inside their heads and it made me cringe a little because it was very stereotypical: the wife's emotions are nagging at the husband because he isn't paying attention and doesn't notice that their daughter is unhappy and the husband's emotions aren't paying attention because they are thinking of the game and don't know why the wife is wanting his attention. It's the only part of the movie that's just really stupid and we've seen this joke a thousand times. 

Along the way, Joy and Sadness meet Bing Bong (Richard Kind), Riley's imaginary friend from her younger days who is part elephant, part cat, and part dolphin. He agrees to take the two of them back to HQ. I loved the scene where they see the  garbage-man type characters who are sucking up some of Riley's memories and protests this until one of them tells her that Riley doesn't need to know all the name of all the Pretty Princess Ponies (I forget exactly what it was...but it was something to that effect). I loved this because I actually do remember most of the names of my My Little Ponies. I actually have a lot of useless and stupid information stored in my brain! They also erase all her memories of the piano pieces she's learned except for "Heart and Soul" and "Chopsticks". But of course! 

All throughout the movie, Joy has been very dismissive of Sadness, not having any time for her depression. And I know this is going to sound weird, but Sadness made me laugh so much. Just her delivery and Debbie Downer-ness was great. "I'm too sad to walk." She was really kind of a pathetic little thing. But she has a very nice moment with Bing Bong when he cries about Riley forgetting about him and listens to him and lets him cry it out. When Joy and Sadness finally get back (and not without tears from me as their journey is not without trials and tribulations!), Joy pushes Sadness to the controls and Riley, who has decided to run away and has become emotion-less at this point (the other emotions have gotten the control boards jammed), just becomes overwhelmed with sadness and she returns homes to her parents who are relieved to see her and she is just crying and telling them all the feelings she's been holding in. Then her parents start crying, I start crying, I'm sure everyone else in my theater was crying! It was so sad!  All along you knew that Sadness was going to play a major role and she does. This movie points out that it's OKAY to be sad and it's a perfectly natural emotion. 

It's kind of hard to explain this movie, but once you see it, it makes a lot more sense. It's very clever filmmaking and the story is great and heartwarming. It made me laugh and cry so it definitely got all my emotions in overdrive!  Highly recommended.

I loved the end because they showed different minor characters and their emotions at work. We see Riley bump into a boy her age and all his emotions are freaking out and yelling, "GIRL, GIRL, GIRL!" We even see the emotions of a dog and a cat. The cat made me laugh so much because it's so true. Its emotions are just wandering around and not paying attention and doing whatever they want.

The emotions notice a new button has popped up among the controls and pronounce the word as "Pooo-bore-tee". Hehe. Is a sequel in the works?