Friday, November 27, 2015

Black Friday Film Festival

Black Friday, for me, is a movie marathon day. I had no intention of putting myself into the throes of insanity swimming around the stores.

A day on the couch, I watched a range of movies, beginning with a classic, "All About Eve" (1951) with Bette Davis and Ann Baxter. 

The first movie to sweep the Oscars, it racked up a record 14 Oscar nominations. It took nearly 50 years before another movie--The Titanic--was able to replicate this feat. 

Awarded six Oscars, one for Best Picture, another for Best Director and another for George Saunder's noteworthy performance as Addison DeWitt. Ann Baxter, living up to her character, "Eve", lobbied for the Best Actress nomination over the Best Supporting Actress, and effectively caused a split in the votes between her and Bette Davis. Consequently, neither won the award, handing it to Judy Holliday for her role in "Born Yesterday" (a role later replicated by Melanie Griffith). The movie also included two scenes with the ingenue, Marilyn Monroe, who sparkles on screen. The remaining Oscars were for costume design, writing and sound.

And the story was sure to dazzle the Academy. With a story that gives an inside look at the machinations of making a Broadway star, it was sure to capture the Academy's attention. Add to the mix sharp and snappy dialogue, elegant costumes and the top actors of the day, the movie was sure to win. Notably, Bette Davis's performance as Margo Channing is ranked #5 on Premiere Magazine's 100 Greatest Performances of All Time.

Next up on my list was "Soapdish" (1991) with Sally Field, Kevin Kline, Robert Downey, Jr. and Whoopi Goldberg. Yet another movie that pays homage to acting, this time  the movie wittily does a soapy take on the making of a long-running day-time soap opera.


With over-the-top performances made with winks, nods and bows to the movies--even Mae West's "come up and see me some time" makes it into the movie--the movie lived up to its intent to replicate the look, feel and tone of a day-time soap.

Only Kevin Kline was nominated for a Golden Globe but I think all actors did a terrific job and continued to have lucrative careers in the business. Perhaps the Academy didn't want to award such a low genre of acting. But I couldn't help thinking how difficult it must have been for such good actors to play such bad actors.

Layer on top of this the just-outside-of-the-80s hairstyles and costumes and the garish, flat set designs of a soap opera, the film even captured that odd quality of cinematography that creates the milieu of soap operas. Funny, sharp dialogue layered three plays within this film, making this perhaps one of the funniest movies that I have seen in a while.

Next up: "Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason" with Renee Zeigweiller, Colin Firth and Hugh Grant. A sequel to "Bridge Jones's Diary", the movie picks up 6 weeks into Bridget's new relationship with Mark Darcy, the proper, admirable and Jane Austen's Darcy-like--the mini-series version--boyfriend (wink-wink).

Bridget is so taken with her good fortune of being in a romantic relationship the likes of Mark Darcy that she frequently name-drops the facts of his status, title and profession. But she cannot cast aside neither her clumsiness nor her insecurities, soon jeopardizing her new relationship with her antics.

Lurking around the edges is Hugh Grant's Daniel Cleaver, ever the playboy who is all too willing to  bed Bridget when her relationship goes awry. Sweeping her away to Thailand to act as a televised tour guide, Cleaver unceremoniously dumps Bridget leaving her behind when she is swept up into drug scandal.

Although the movie earned $8.7 million during its opening weekend, setting a record until broken by Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol. Obviously, audiences had high hopes for this sequel but were likely disappointed, as was I, by this silly farce. Not clever, not funny and full of pot shots, it was no fun watching the pudgy Renee attempt to stir up the likes of Hugh and Colin. 

And while multi-tasking on my second screen, I scored a few great deals online: