That Was Who?

I’ve never been a bigTom Cruise fan. (okay, maybe that one scene in “Risky Business” when he pantomimes Bob Seeger) Until I saw his portrayal of the Coca-Cola-swilling, profanity master, and all around cra-cra mogul -Les Grossman in the hilarious Ben Stiller flick, “Tropic Thunder”.

In my previous post, “Favorite Actors Favorite Roles” I talked about being so immersed in an actor’s portrayal instead of thinking that’s so and so playing a fill in the blank role. In that vein, Tom Cruise blew my mind with his – take it to the max interpretation – of Les Grossman. I totally didn’t even recognize him with the makeup and his over the top performance. It was then and there I decided the only types of roles Cruise should accept are character roles. Whose with me?

Another impressive character role for Cruise was playing rock star Stacee Jaxx in the tribute film “Rock of Ages”. Again, an outstanding performance and parody of an 80’s rocker which included getting ripped and tattooed to complete the look.

The 2012 romantic musical comedy was directed by Adam Shankman and is an adaptation of the 2006 rock jukebox Broadway musical of the same name by Chris D’Arienzo.

Let’s hear it one more time for Stacee Jaxx!

Advertisements

Favorite Actors Favorite Roles

ohbrotherwhereartthoposter

I was thinking about actors who so embodied the role that you forgot the actual actor. The first that immediately came to mind was George Clooney in the Coen Brother’s Academy Award Nominated film –“Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?”

George Clooney

George Clooney

Normally my reaction to Clooney is, “wow, he’s so fine!” But, as Ulysses Everett McGill I didn’t ever think about the “fine” George Clooney but instead was mesmerized and cracking up with laughter at lines like “my hair”. Ulysses is a Dapper Dan hair pomade man. (totally obsessed with his hair)

I had no idea he was so freakin’ funny! Who knew? He usually plays fine, hot, strong characters but this time, he went all the way out the box with this incredible performance.

One of my favorite scenes is when he’s at a political benefit concert with his “band” the Soggy Bottom Boys and becomes engrossed in conversation trying to convince his ex-wife (Holly Hunter) to give him a second chance. Just when he is just about to reel her in, he hears the opening line to his (unbeknownst to him) hit song “Constant Sorrow”and without hesitation is back at the mike and crushing it. A man after my own heart. (I’m a community theater veteran:)

Produced, edited, and directed by Joel and Ethan Coen, and starring George Clooney, John Turturro, and Tim Blake Nelson, with John Goodman, Holly Hunter, and Charles Durning in supporting roles. Set in 1937 rural Mississippi during the Great Depression, the film’s story is a modern satire loosely based on Homer’s epic poem, Odyssey. The title of the film is a reference to the 1941 film Sullivan’s Travels, in which the protagonist (a director) wants to film a fictional book about the Great Depression called O Brother, Where Art Thou? (Wikipedia)

The film is brilliant and all the actor’s performances are remarkable! “Oh, Brother Where Art Thou” is a dark comedy whose themes touch on poverty, politics and racism. I give it – both thumbs way up.

OBrother

 

 

 

Louis “Thunder Thumbs” Johnson – R.I.P.

Just celebrated God’s favor of another birthday and the end of my chemotherapy treatments to the funky sounds of the Brothers Johnson’s bass thumping soundtracks. What very special memories of college they evoke.

I was truly blessed to be able to share this birthday with some of my very special friends from “back in the day” at the leader and the best – The University of Michigan!

This is a repost of the memorial of Louis Johnson from 1 year ago today. R.I.H.

I just celebrated a milestone birthday this past Thursday, May 21st but, while I was basking in my special day the news came out that renowned funk bassist and one of the grandfathers of slap bass playing Louis Johnson of The Brothers Johnson had passed that very day. We shared a common birth year and his death served as a stark reminder that tomorrow is not promised. An incredible talent gone way too soon.

 

louis johnson 2

Louis Johnson

 (April 13, 1955 – May 21, 2015)

When we think about birthdays it’s usually about the celebration of the years lived and those memories, moments and for me, in particular, special films and music. In the 70’s and 80’s Louis and his brother George played the soundtrack of my life. Songs like: “Get the Funk Out Ma Face”, and “Ain’t We Funkin Now” were always at the top of my playlist.

 

Louis Johnson

Louis’ innovative bass slapping technique

 

Louis and his George got their start playing for Quincy Jones who later went on to produce the brothers debut LP Look Out for #1 in 1976. Over the next five years, the Brothers Johnson racked up three Number One hits on the R&B charts: 1976’s “I’ll Be Good to You,” their 1977 cover of singer-songwriter and soul musician Shuggie Otis’ “Strawberry Letter 23,”(featured in Quentin Tarantino’s film Jackie Brown) and 1980’s smash “Stomp!”

Louis garnered the nickname “Thunder Thumbs” as a nod to his innovative bass slapping technique. His signature sound was from the Music Man StingRay bass which Leo Fender especially made for him to first use and promote, and form his slapping technique.

 

 

 

 

Louis Johnson brought the “funk” to Michael Jackson’s hits “Billie Jean” and “Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough”. He also appeared on “Off the Wall”,”Thriller and artists Paul McCartney, Stevie Wonder and Aretha Franklin tracks. The Brothers Johnson’s 1980 album Light Up the Night, featuring “This Had to Be” was co-written by Michael, featuring him on background vocals. The album rose to the top of the R&B charts.

Although the news of his passing saddens me, I’m grateful for the time we shared through his incredible musical performances. I honor his legacy and say – Thank you, Louis “Thunder Thumbs” Johnson for bringing the funk! You will be missed.

 

In Memorial

louis johnson 3

Thanks, Louis!

 

 

I Heart ❤ Tony Stark

robert downey and iron man

Robert Downey, Jr. aka Iron Man

I am all about the Marvel Universe and I love Tony Stark/Iron Man! I also love the actor Robert Downey, Jr. and see his life in parallel with that of Tony Stark’s.

Even director  Jon Favreau saw the parallels with the character as he explained his choice of Robert Downey, Jr. by stating: “Downey wasn’t the most obvious choice, but he understood what makes the character tick. He found a lot of his own life experience in ‘Tony Stark’.”

Iron man poster

In “Iron Man”,we meet the reckless, engineering genius, irreverent playboy, and heir to the Stark Industries fortune, Tony Stark. His engineering abilities eventually help him turn his life around and accept responsibility for the weapons of mass destruction he and his late father – Howard Stark have developed.

robert downey, jr.

Robert John Downey Jr. (born April 4, 1965)

Like Stark, Downey is brilliant! I’ve watched his career blossom from the silly bully in Weird Science (1985) to his seemingly real-life story in, Less Than Zero (1987) to his incredible performance in the 1992 film Chaplin, which earned him a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Actor and won him the BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role.

Robert Downey, Jr as Chaplin

About “Less Than Zero”, Downey has said that for him “the role was like the ghost of Christmas Future” since his drug habit resulted in his becoming an “exaggeration of the character.”

His devolution from a teenage star to his public humiliation as a drug addict brought loss of relationships with pain and heartache to his friends and family. I’ve prayed for him to get his life together and not squander the gift he was given.

Unfortunately, as a child, Downey was “surrounded by drugs”. His father, a drug addict, allowed Downey to use marijuana at age six, an incident which his father has said he now regrets. Downey later stated that drug use became an emotional bond between him and his father: “When my dad and I would do drugs together, it was like him trying to express his love for me in the only way he knew how.” (Wikipedia)

At the beginning of “Iron Man”, Tony is actually promoting Stark Industries and his new project the “Jericho” missile. (a rocket-propelled grenade) On a promotional tour in war-torn Afghanistan, Tony Stark is injured and kidnapped by a terrorist group, who want him to produce a copy of his weapon. Angered by the turn of events, he secretly develops the prototype that becomes “Iron Man.” This imposing figure reeks havoc on his captures as Stark/Iron Man escapes. Back home at his lab, we witness the evolution of the look and strength of Iron Man as Tony fashions him into a force for good against those who profit from Stark Industry’s weapons of war.

Robert Downey, Jr. like Tony Stark was forced to face his demons and (according to Downey) turned his life and career around with the help of his family, therapy, meditation, twelve-step recovery programs, yoga and the practice of Wing Chun kung fu. Downey has also credited his wife Susan Levin – Executive Vice President of Production at Joel Silver’s film company and production partner – with helping him overcome his drug and alcohol habits.

Downey and wife Susan

Downey and wife Susan

Today, Robert Downey, Jr. as Iron Man, and as an Avenger, is an integral player in the Marvel Studios Universe which is proving to be one of the most profitable franchises in the film industry.

downeymarvel-posters

I smile whenever I see Robert or Tony. It feels good watching a fellow spirit not only overcome his challenges but thrive in the arena where we can share and enjoy his talent.

robertdowneycutie

“A lot of people do get out but don’t change. So the thing is to get out and recognize the significance of that aggressive denial of your fate, come through the crucible forged into a stronger metal.” (Vanity Fair)

 

“Batman” 🎬 Small Screen to Big Screen

I’ve been a tv and movie junkie since I was a kid and the intersection of movies and television got me thinking about what tv shows successfully made the leap to the big screen. In my previous post, I celebrated the 50th Anniversary of “Batman”– the classic 60’s  tv series. The eventual Warner Bros movie franchise that resulted made “Batman” one of the most accomplished superhero series to make that leap.

In 1989, Tim Burton set about the challenge of  retooling the DC Comics superhero, “Batman” – this update veered away from the “campy” Adam West version and set in motion the money-making Warner Bros Batman films, most notably the “Dark Knight” trilogy.

Batman Keaton

I remember being in the grocery store when “Batman” (1989) premiered. Standing in line overhearing the chit chat, some people were truly upset that the Keaton movie was nothing like the tv series. They wanted the “pow” and “bam” of the William Dozier inception. I didn’t say anything but my husband is a comic book geek so I knew the real story and it was nothing like the “dynamic duo” of Adam West and Burt Ward. The 60’s classic was based on light-hearted portrayals and over the top villains. The real “Batman” is so far from campy it’s funny.

batman tv effects

The film, directed by Tim Burton and produced by Jon Peters was based on the DC Comics character of the same name. It is the first installment of Warner Bros.’ initial Batman film series. It stars Michael Keaton as Bruce Wayne/Batman, alongside Jack Nicholson, Kim Basinger, Robert Wuhl, Pat Hingle, Billy Dee Williams, Michael Gough, and Jack Palance. The plot is more closely aligned with the comic book as Batman, widely believed to be an urban legend goes to war with a rising criminal mastermind known as “the Joker” (Nicholson).

I felt Keaton brought a vulnerability to the role while focusing on the conflict within. I remember reading an article about Michael Keaton speaking to Jack Nicholson on how to approach the character. Jack being Jack told Keaton to let the mask do the work. Following Nicholson’s advice, Keaton played with his voice’s lower register so the character’s intensity was amplified.

batmankeaton2

Michael Keaton as Batman (1989)

Director Tim Burton did a tremendous job bringing the “Batman series” back to life. The atmospheric presence of Gotham City created the perfect backdrop for the conflict between “good” vs “evil”. Along with Nicholson providing the maniacal humor,”Batman” couldn’t help but be a hit!

batman gotham city

Gotham City

“Batman” was one of the first films to spawn two soundtracks. One of them featured songs written by Prince while the other showcased Danny Elfman’s score. Both were extremely successful. Prince’s soundtrack album was No. 1 on the Billboard albums chart for six consecutive weeks. It has sold over eleven million copies worldwide.

Prince

Prince

Burton explained the theme, “the whole film and mythology of the character is a complete duel of the freaks. It’s a fight between two disturbed people”, adding that “The Joker is such a great character because there’s a complete freedom to him. Any character who operates on the outside of society and is deemed a freak and an outcast then has the freedom to do what they want… They are the darker sides of freedom. Insanity is in some scary way the most freedom you can have because you’re not bound by the laws of society”. (Wikipedia)

batmannicholson

Jack Nicholson as the “Joker”

The tone and themes of the film were influenced in part by  Frank Miller‘s The Dark Knight ReturnsBatman was a critical and financial success, earning over $400 million in box office totals. It was the fifth-highest grossing film in history at the time of its release. The film received several Saturn Award nominations and a Golden Globe nomination and won an Academy Award.

The American Film Institute anointed Batman the 46th greatest movie hero and the Joker the 45th greatest movie villain on AFI’s 100 Years…100 Heroes and Villains. In 2008, Batman was selected by Empire magazine as number 458 of The 500 Greatest Movies of All Time.

batman1989press

“Batman” initiated the original Batman film series and spawned three sequels: Batman Returns (1992), Batman Forever (1995) and Batman & Robin (1997); the latter two of which were directed by Joel Schumacher instead of Burton, and replaced Keaton as Batman with Val Kilmer and George Clooney, respectively.

batmanall

Adam West, Michael Keaton, Val Killmer, George Clooney and Christian Bale

Personally, I feel the franchise wasn’t fully formed until “Batman Begins” (2005) with Christian Bale as the “dark knight”. This and the subsequent sequels delved even deeper into the dark and intense storyline of Bruce Wayne and his inner demons.

Batman Begins (2005)

Batman Begins was co-written and directed by Christopher Nolan and starred Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Liam Neeson, Katie Holmes, Gary Oldman, Cillian Murphy, and Morgan Freeman. The film reboots the Batman film series, telling the origin story of the title character (Bale), from his, alter ego Bruce Wayne’s initial fear of bats, the death of his parents, and his journey to become Batman. (Wikipedia)

The film was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Cinematography and three BAFTA awards. It is followed by The Dark Knight (2008) and The Dark Knight Rises (2012) in a continual story-arc, which has later been referred to as The Dark Knight Trilogy. Many consider “Batman Begins” to be one of the best superhero films of its decade.

The Dark Knight in 2008 and The Dark Knight Rises in 2012 (with Bale reprising his role in both films) earned over $1 billion worldwide, making “Batman” the second film franchise (and to date one of only five) to have two of its films earn more than $1 billion worldwide.

Well, I’m totally into this franchise and never miss a new installment in the series. Christian Bale is the man, he’s managed to capture Batman’s intensity with such vigor that the deeper he plunges, the deeper the journey we take with him.

Happy 50th Batman!

Holy Bat Years! I can’t believe Batman is celebrating its’ 50th Anniversary. Even though I’m a baby boomer it still blows my mind how long ago since my childhood. (some would say I’m still living it – including me) 😄

The campy series starred Adam West and Burt Ward as caped crusaders, Batman, and Robin. The television show was created by William Dozier and based on the DC comic book character of the same name. It took place in Gotham City and featured a plethora of villains including the Joker (Cesar Romero), the Penguin (Burgess Meredith), Riddler (Frank Gorshin) and my fave, Catwoman. (Eartha Kitt’s version – season 3) Catwoman was originally portrayed by Julie Newmar (seasons 1 &2) and Lee Meriwether (movie).  The series ran for one hundred and twenty episodes and aired on the ABC network for three seasons from January 12, 1966, to March 14, 1968, twice weekly for the first two and weekly for the third.

The “Dynamic Duo’s” alter-egos, Bruce Wayne (Adam West), and Dick Grayson (Burt Ward) usually only appeared to set up the caper for the episode. I always felt that Police Commissioner Gordon and Lieutenant O’Hara were worthless since they never solved a single crime, instead using the “caped crusaders” to do their jobs to defeat crime in Gotham City.

And let us not forget the keeper of the Batcave and ever faithful butler – Alfred. Where would the duo be without Alfred to answer the Batphone and cover for them with dear Aunt Harriet – who miraculously never caught on to the activities in her own home!

The other star of the show was the Batmobile!

batmobile

In late 1965 20th Century Fox Television and William Dozier‘s Greenway Productions contracted renowned Hollywood car customizer Dean Jeffries to design and build a “Batmobile” for their upcoming Batman TV series. He started customizing a 1959 Cadillac, but when the studio wanted the program on the air in January 1966, and therefore filming sooner than he could provide the car, Jeffries was paid off, and the project went to George Barris.

What became the iconic Batmobile used in the 1966–1968 live action television show and its film adaptation was a customized vehicle that originated as a one-off 1955 Lincoln Futura concept car, created by Ford Motor Company lead stylists Bill Schmidt, Doug Poole Sr., and John Najjar and their design team at the Lincoln Styling Department.

Batmobile_(FMC)

Batmobile

In November 2012 Barris Kustom and George Barris announced the sale of the Batmobile at the Barrett-Jackson car show and auction held in Scottsdale, Arizona. The vehicle fetched $4.2 million on January 19, 2013. (Wikipedia)

Where Are They Now?

Burt Ward by Gage Skidmore

Burt Ward (Robin)

In 1994, Ward and his wife, Tracy Posner Ward, founded a charitable organization called Gentle Giants Rescue and Adoptions, Inc., which rescues giant breed dogs such as Great Danes and some smaller breed dogs. Their work with the organization has been featured in such outlets as People magazine, ASPCA Animal Watch, Hard Copy, Inside Edition, and Entertainment Tonight. Burt Ward was also seen in an episode of Animal Planet’s Adoption Tales. (Wikipedia)

Adam West

Adam West

Having a distinctive voice, West has built a career doing voice-over work on a number of animated series (often as himself), including appearances on The Simpsons, and Futurama. Since 2000, West has made regular appearances on the animated series Family Guy, in which he plays Mayor Adam West, the lunatic mayor of Quahog, Rhode Island. His role has given him a new wave of popularity since Batman, and lead writer Seth MacFarlane claims to have gone out of his way to avoid typecasting West by deliberately not making any references to Batman. (Wikipedia)

So, let’s toast to the ’60’s, my childhood and tv classic  – Batman!

 

 

 

“Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” 30th Anniversary Event

fathomevents

turnerclassicmovieslogo

TCM Big Screen Classics
In Select Cinemas Nationwide

Take a day off with Ferris Bueller because you know “life can move pretty fast”. Celebrate the 30th Anniversary of the John Hughes cult hit with a special screening by Fathom Events in partnership with Turner Classic Movies as part of their TCM Big Screen Classics series.

“Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” (1986) will be accompanied by special commentary from TCM host Ben Mankiewicz, who will provide insight, background and more. The event also includes special interviews with the cast and director John Hughes about casting Matthew Broderick in the iconic role of Ferris Bueller.

“Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” 30th Anniversary

Sunday, May 15th & Wednesday, May 18th

Ferris

“Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” (1986)

Ferris is truly a “righteous dude”. I love his philosophy on life. It’s very simple – Live It! Treasure every moment and run like someone left the gate open.

I featured “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” in a previous post about gratitude. I took the position that it was actually Ferris Bueller’s Day On!

Ferris is the type of person who lives in the moment and shows gratitude every day for his life and the endless adventures that it holds. He squeezes every last drop out of living, is grateful for it and is always thirsty for more!

As part of the TCM Big Screen Classics series, the film will be presented on Sunday, May 15th and Wednesday, May 18th at 2:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. (local time) each day. Tickets are available by clicking on the orange “Buy Tickets” button on the website.

I’ll give you a heads up about the other upcoming movies in the series so you don’t miss your chance to catch a classic film on the big screen every month in 2016!

As Ferris always says –

 Ferris-Bueller-Quotes-3