Saturday, December 13, 2014

Why Can't Everything Be My Fair Lady?

Rex Harrison and Julie Andrews in MY FAIR LADY
I've found four delightful romantic comedies that are free on Amazon Prime to recommend to all my loyal readers. Romantic comedy is where I live. It is ALL to me, beginning, middle and end. Romantic comedies are the ultimate explication of character in action in the most important battlefield of life, romance. Alright, perhaps I will concede that romance is only one of the most important battlefields of life. However, character is destiny.

Romantic comedy unites the quest for libidinal satisfaction. melding imagination and action, while necessarily also addressing how true love and a happy marriage requires the fulfillment of each of our unique personhoods, and the moral rightness of our ambition. In short, a metaphor to point the way to domestic happiness.

Also, romantic comedies have happy endings, which is, and always has been, de rigueur for me. A show biz acquaintance in defense of a gloomy piece of theater once admonished me that everything couldn't be like My Fair Lady. Why not? I thought. It was at that moment that I discovered my mission in life: to do my best to help the world attain a state of pure romantic comedy for everyone, complete with happy endings for all.

Now that we have that out of the way, here are the comedies. Two of them star Glynis Johns, who I love, but perhaps because she is a bit of a mannered actress, she may not be everybody's cup of tea. You may remember her from MARY POPPINS as the mother, Winifred Banks. She comes from a show biz family. Mervyn Johns her father created what I regard as the definitive Bob Cratchit in A CHRISTMAS CAROL, the version staring Alastair Sim, the best version by far. I am also a huge Alastair Sim fan, and he stars in one the four films.

Glynis Johns as Winifred Banks in MARY POPPINS
The movies are, LAUGHTER IN PARADISE, about four people who must earn their inheritance from a deceased uncle who is famous for his pranks, which don't stop after his passing. This is witty, ironic, full of romance with lots of twists and turns. Alastair Sim is one of the unworthy inheritors who must go to jail to get his money. You can imagine the fun that ensues.


The second is THE HAPPY THIEVES with Sexy Rexy, Rex Harrison and Rita Hayworth as a couple who want to pull off an art heist from the Prado Museum in Spain. Really, no kidding Rex and Rita. Does it get better? Bull fights, nail biting suspense, funny characters, it's got it all for a fun evening film.



The third has the promising title of JOSEPHINE AND MEN. This stars Glynis Johns and Trevor Howard in an early role. It is directed by Roy Boulting, who was married to Hayley Mills long enough to have a son. This is a true romantic comedy, where Josephine has to decide which is the man worth marrying.



The fourth LOSER TAKES ALL is also with Glynis Johns and co-starring Rossano Brazzi, who played the irresistible Emile De Becque in SOUTH PACIFIC, and who is one of those men who makes me remember how heavenly it is to be a woman. The story is based on a Graham Greene novel. This is also a true romantic comedy, where the couple have quite a lot of amusing difficulties working out their marriage. Oh, and I forgot, the inimitable Robert Morley, one of my favorite funny men, lends his talents as the comedic villain of sorts. I loved it.


You get the idea....


So if you're looking for something to watch while you sit down for a cup of coffee between shopping, cooking, decorating and getting ready for the holiday, these will set you up nicely.


Friday, November 14, 2014

FROZEN - Teens Getting Their Act Together



Loved this movie. I love good animated films, and this one is superb. It's a feast for the eyes. It's so gorgeous to watch that for that alone you shouldn't miss it. And the characters are the best puppet people you have ever seen. They seem alive in a new and wonderful way that is utterly charming.

The theme is that the over sensitive Princess Elsa with the Ice Curse, who freezes people when she feels too much, as in gets too emotional, (and haven't we all known people like that, male and female, who walk into a room and make everyone uncomfortable?) is saved by her sister, Anna, who is too free wheeling and easy. Anna's eager to please gullibility gets Princess Elsa and their kingdom into trouble when she decides to marry a man she's known only for an hour, causing her sister to be so upset she freezes the whole kingdom in permanent winter.

Elsa, The Snow Queen, hides herself away in an ice castle of her own making and suddenly is free to be herself, which is a lovely, Swedishy, emphasis on the dishy, type blonde who sings fabulously and has a smashing figure. But she can only be this free because she's alone and can't hurt anybody with her ice curse. And boy, if she ever got over the ice curse, this is a dame who could do a lot of damage to the male population, you know, have them tripping over their tongues etc. And I'm politically incorrect enough to think Va Va Va Voom is a sensational thing to have. Nice work if you can get it, as they say.

But her plucky and cute sister, Anna, has to get Elsa to stop the 'I want to be alone in my icy castle' kick, because the people in the kingdom are freezing in the permanent winter. The plot is a little foggy here for me. Anna, the plucky sister, gets helped by Kristoff, who is humble, a wonderful quality which she later learns to appreciate, then she is wounded by the Ice Monster, because Elsa doesn't know how to get rid of the ice curse. To be saved from the ice curse, Anna's true love must kiss her. Good, all good in my book. And it's not the one hour matrimony guy, but long suffering Kristoff who turns out to be the guy.

But Elsa has come back. The one hour matrimony guy is trying to kill Elsa, and Plucky Anna saves her dying sister, but is frozen herself. Then her sister's love brings her back to life. And Gorgeous Elsa stays pretty and Plucky Anna gets Kristoff, and everyone lives happily ever after, with winter presumably arriving only once a year.

So here's my takeaway: the two sides of the developing adolescent identity crisis are reconciled to each other; the outgoing, overly eager to please side, and the self absorbed, narcissistic side each become strong enough to listen to each other.The doors of love and acceptance open and promise a happy future of balanced response to the world. And all this good psychological stuff is satisfying good fun, too.Yeah!

It's a lotsa fun movie with heart, laughter and great artwork. And this wonderful movie has delightful singable music!!!

Now, this has been just an enormously popular movie worldwide. The grosses are the stuff of the wildest Hollywood fantasy. And it's really pro femininity and plucky girls and love. And guess what? Good old fashioned values have world wide bling appeal. I keep waiting for someone to trumpet the news that it's still true that A PRETTY GIRL IS LIKE A MELODY, just like in 1919, thank you Irving Berlin. Some things never change.

So why is everyone on the right and left getting all exercised over Lena Dunham? I'll tell you why, because she takes her clothes off. It's the soft core porn thing, you know, stripping, sexually molesting her sister, being aggressively repulsive. She's not an intellectual, she's an exhibitionist freak. And she can get away with it, because she's rich. The rich really are different from you and me, they can walk around naked and not get arrested. So get over the Lena deal, girls are doing fine. Pretty Elsa and Plucky Anna keep their clothes on and both know how to be real girls, unlike Lena. Actually, Lena should have a martini and watch this movie, it might just save her.




Wednesday, October 15, 2014

MALEFICENT - MOMMIE DEAREST



The effect of Lana Del Ray's torchy, slow ballad rendition of the traditional Sleeping Beauty love song I KNOW YOU over the end credits of this chilling revenge fantasy is nothing short of macabre. No happy lovers here, no young woman awakening to sexual maturity from the kiss of true love. The peaceful resolution promised in the trailer amounts to a girl-child's life sentence to a fairy land under the thumb of her terrifying, horror queen, quasi mother, Maleficent, whose rage conquers all. Even daddy is destroyed, while his baby, Aurora, smiles and proclaims her enduring love for his out of control murderer. Is it the Stockholm syndrome?

This version of Sleeping Beauty certainly is not appropriate for children, who will be frightened by the unrelenting fury of mother Maleficent and the violent destruction of all the men in the story. No forgiveness, even for the daddies, or perhaps especially for the daddies, who are portrayed as merciless predators of fairy girls.

The excuse for this murderous rage begins when, as children, Stefan, a human, and Maleficent, Queen of the Fairies, fall in love. But they reach adolescence, and Stefan prefers a human lover to his fairy girl, Maleficent, who chooses not to leave fairy land where she rules a host of strangely inhuman creatures in a distinctly unfeminine fairy land, mostly yellows and browns, carefully avoiding the pink and rainbow colors that human girls are so often fond of.

 Human land is basically endless CGI soldier men bent on destroying the fairy forest out of shear malice and greed. Only a raging Maleficent stops these evil men in an epic battle, with a special burst of spite for the aggressively icky, man king.

Stefan grows up and becomes part of this depraved human world, inhabited by violent, hard men with iron weapons. Iron is the one fairy weakness because it burns their tender skin. He tricks Maleficent into thinking he is different, and then amputates her wings of power, although she still has lots of magic left over to wreak havoc whenever she comes into the land of men. Wounded by the treachery of the man she loved and trusted, she vows vengeance.

When Stefan, now king, fathers a baby girl, Aurora, Maleficent's jealous rage knows no bounds. In cold fury, she hurls a curse upon Aurora that will last until the end of time.

In spite of her rage, Maleficent finds herself drawn to the child Aurora, a snub nosed, smiley faced Sleeping Beauty, who mistakes her worst enemy for her fairy godmother.

However, this time, the girl-child is hidden from the father to protect her from the curse. But even Maleficent cannot protect her from growing up. Puberty arrives when Sleeping Beauty pricks her finger on spindle, falls asleep and can only be awakened by true love's kiss.

There is a boy prince, and he is no more than a boy. Aurora and her Prince Philip have about as much maturity and sex appeal as Raggedy Ann and Andy. But this knight would be overwhelmed by shining armor and barely looks old enough drive a car, or have a drink, much less kiss a girl and awaken desire. And he fails, like all the men in this movie.

But wait for it! There is true love lurking in Aurora's bedroom in the surprising form of Maleficent, who is evidently overcome with tenderness for the vulnerable girl-child. Her kiss awakens Aurora to something, if not desire.

By this time King Stefan has marshaled his evil forces to fight for his daughter, although for what purpose is not made clear. At this point, for reasons that are equally puzzling, King Stefan develops a pronounced Scottish brogue which makes him very hard to understand especially in the heat of battle, and what a battle. Hidden in her father's castle, Aurora discovers and unleashes Maleficent's wings, causing daddy to lose the battle and his life, whereupon Maleficent spirits Aurora away to the Fairy Forest and makes her a little queen in their regression back to childhood.

Maleficent's beauty, a cold and heartless perfection, is the only kind of beauty permitted in this suffocating film. Maleficent flashes everything but fangs (but perhaps her kinky, razor sharp cheekbones serve the same purpose), as Mommie Dearest welcomes her little acolyte into the asexual, joyless world of permanent fairyhood. Big fun for Maleficent is throwing mud. All little girls like that, right?


The real Sleeping Beauty is freed by the kiss of true love to grow up to womanhood, a very happy ending, as all children long to grow up. Sadly, Maleficent's Sleeping Beauty is exiled forever from mature love and sexuality to the Fairy Forest; a true death in life. She is a Fairy Tale anti-heroine who will never have a Red Riding Hood or amble happily into the woods alone on her way to Grandma's house and dally with a wolf along the way, poor thing.