Edina and Patsy, the two main characters of Ab Fab are two of the funniest, rudest, crudest, most vulgar ladies ever to hit the TV screen. And, I love every second of it. Somehow, they both convey a sweet, sensitive side…mostly because of their tight, though highly dysfunctional, friendship. They are former Hippies who never really “out grew” the 1960s…they still think they are flower children, yet somehow they woke up in 40-50-year-old bodies (in Patsy’s case, we don’t know how old she REALLY is). Ab Fab is a British institution. It has been trying to become an American one as well, almost since it started in 1992, but it has never gotten off the ground. And if you don’t mind my two cents on why… The British, though considered stuffy and aloof (wrongly, most times), have a sense of humor (or humour) that is unexcelled in its weirdness, raunchiness and general chaotic cleverness. When The Office show appeared here, I was nervous, because the British counterpart that was such a success was nasty…really, really nasty. It made me feel uncomfortable with its unabashed humor. But, the American version has changed into a lighter comic romp…more of a skit show than a dark, devilish one. Changing Ab Fab under those same guidelines would ruin it. No question about it. You soften the characters, take the edge away, not to mention the chain smoking, drinking and harsh dialogue, and what do you have left…Roseanne? Or some similar lame sitcom that has nothing to do with the British show? Americans are not ready for Edina and Patsy. We would want to tone it down…people would not allow the smoking…and the sex talk, well “let’s put it on cable.” Even on cable, shows with certain edges have hard times finding their audience. Basically, what you and I will have to keep doing is watch the DVDs or find it on BBC America. Trust me, it’s worth all of that work.

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When I first saw this one years ago, I thought it was too much of a farce…too over the top…too silly. But, re-watching it, I am able now to see it’s fine details as one of America’s great broad comedies. Cary Grant is at his wackiest here…as the nephew of two matronly ladies who have begun an unusual pastime…murdering lonely old men and having them buried in the basement. We’ve all seen (and loved) Grant do screwball…but this is pretty much as slapstick as comedy can get. He’s physical and very expressive…perfect for this role as the befuddled nephew of these two crazy killers. Directed by Frank Capra, I think one of the reasons this one took a while to sink in is because it’s almost TOO over the top. But, I guess as I’m getting older, I find the need for more and more comedy. And this one will sure satisfy that need!

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From the writer and director of The Closet, this film is another French comedy success…in the grand tradition of some of the classic French farces (i.e. La Cage aux Folles). The main character is a nerdy guy who’s unsuccessful in the love, looks, and job departments (he’s a valet). Coincidentally, he gets photographed next to a supermodel. Because of a series of comic circumstances, he and the model must “pose” to be lovers and even live together so it appears their proximity in the photograph is legit. Both actors, the valet (Gad Elmaleh) and the model’s real but married lover (Daniel Auteuil), are just perfect in their roles…especially Auteuil, who is one of France’s most talented actors, in both comedies and dramas. It’s a short movie that you want to go on and on since it’s almost too good to end. A must for all comedy lovers…whether you like foreign films or not! And, while you’re at it, check out The Closet too. That one is also a must see!

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A charming tale about legal issues in the Edwardian Era of London…but also a fascinating look at the social graces of the day. How prim and proper everyone is…and restrained — it’s almost sinful (in a VERY reserved say, of course). Based on a true early 20th Century case in London, a young man gets accused of a small crime and consequently expelled from his private school for the alleged deed. Director David Mamet (normally more known for American crime dramas) takes the story (which was first turned into a play by author Terence Rattigan) and brings it and early 1900s London to life. Mamet uses some real locations that the actual case might have taken place in (the Horse Guards, House of Lords, and in Inns of Court) and fills the story with true passion and sincerity. There is tension, humor and romance, but all done with the appropriate levels of Edwardian propriety. Nigel Hawthorne is never better as the family patriarch, who puts everything into his son’s legal batter…even his health. Mamet’s real-life wife Rebecca Pidgeon plays the Winslow sister and the always spot-on Jeremy Northam plays the lawyer who takes the case. Both of these performances are played on the right level…passionate about their causes but perfectly undemonstrative. Edwardians would be proud!

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A light, comical film that is like a breath of fresh air in the stuffy world of cinema. This one never, ever takes itself to seriously…even with a tremendous cast of some of the finest actresses ever. Yet, it’s not laugh-out-loud funny…it’s a quiet, subtle film that keeps the audience smiling and guessing. Joan Plowright stars as the matriarch of a section of a town in Ireland known as Widow’s Peak, since all of the residents of the “section” are widows. Mia Farrow plays a woman who’s a bit out of her league among the widows but they include her anyway (we later find out why) and Natasha Richardson plays a wealthy American from England whose husband died and left her with money and a streak of viciousness. Plowright plays her air of superiority perfectly…she’s not too over-the-top but she’s just daft enough to make it seem convincing. Richardson is perfect…I honestly did not expect it when she did mean-spirited things…though I bought it just enough as the plot wants us to (since the surprise ending fits all of the pieces together). Mia Farrow, at first, seemed a little out of place to me as an Irish widow, but after watch a bit I totally forgot I was watching an American actress putting on an accent. The entire film is just a pleasure to watch…it’s funny when it needs to be and exciting at times. A true treasure!

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Blake Edwards’ directs this comedy about a destitute singer (Julie Andrews) who meets up with a gay, out of work nightclub performer, Toddy. He comes up with a plan for them both to be successful involving her changing her image from a woman to a man to a woman. Complications set in when she falls in love with a mobster (James Garner) who is homophobic and convinced she is a woman. Alex Karris steals all of the scenes he is in as Garner’s bodyguard who is coming to terms with his own sexuality in the midst of this whole mess. Definitely the best film from the husband and wife team of Edwards/Andrews.

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The only way Dustin Hoffman can get work as an actor is to become a woman, which he does to get a role on a soap opera. At first, it is only temporary, but after his character improves the show greatly, they sign him on for a longer stint. When he falls for co-star Jessica Lange (who won a supporting Oscar for her role as a lonely single-mother and actress), he needs to stop the charade…but can he? Directed by Sidney Pollack, who has a small role in the film, as well as a young Bill Murray, who steals his scenes with his dry, deadpan humor.

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OK – I know. The setting for this film is a little bizarre. It’s a Jimmy Stewart film set in Budapest. Jimmy Stewart—the all-American boy living and working in Hungary? Strangely, neither Stewart nor Maureen Sullivan have Hungarian accents. Or dress Hungarian. Or act European in any way. Basically, this movie could have (and should have) been set in America, but since it’s based on a play by Hungarian playwright Miklos Laszlo, film director Ernst Lubitsch must have decided to leave the setting alone. Getting past that, this is a charming, endearing film that will surely become a favorite if you like romantic comedies. This is one of the best of the genre. Lubitsch is known for his stylized and sophisticated romantic comedies and even though this one lacks a little of the polish of some of his earlier works, it still satisfies. Stewart plays a head shop clerk and Sullivan plays his co-worker/nemesis/pen-pal. Even by today’s standards the dialogue is crisp and alive, with nothing to date it after all this time. And Stewart and Sullivan are a great pairing, seeming just as perfect together when they are bickering as when they are kissing. You’ve Got Mail was a re-make of this classic, but the 1998 film lacks the style and wit of the original.

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This is a film that honestly brings Shakespeare to life…literally and figuratively. A brilliant movie that utilizes many of the Bard’s plays for dialogue and antidotes, but most notably Romeo and Juliet, the ever-tragic saga of Italian star-crossed lovers. The tragic lover story is key to this film…the movie follow Romeo’s plot, in a lot of ways, and even takes quite a few scenes directly from the play. But, then again, that is the gimmick here. Will Shakespeare, in the film, is supposed to be suffering writer’s block…longing for a muse to get him back in the creative spirit. Just when all hope is lost, he meets Viola, the well-to-do daughter of a wealthy family. As she becomes his muse, their story, verse for verse, scene for scene, mimics what Shakespeare is writing. So, Viola’s and Will’s love is really Romeo’s and Juliet’s as well. So, when I say that this film TAKES scenes from Romeo, that is how it’s supposed to work…since the story of the film inspired the play. And, boy, does it all come together with passion. It might sound confusing, but worry not, it’s just a bit hard to explain. All will make sense. Even if you are not a fan of the Bard, or you are not familiar with Romeo (how could you not be?), the story still plays well and is ever-entertaining. Though, it does help some if you are able to catch the nuances between the film story and the play. How art not seen the play? For shame, for shame. A plague on your house.

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A modern day Cyrano de Bergerac story starring Steve Martin as large-nosed C.D. Bales, who falls for Daryl Hannah, who falls for Rick Rossovich, who does not know what to say to Hannah or how to say it. Enter Martin, who writes her beautiful letters, saying and meaning things she thinks are coming from Rossovich. This one shines because of the smart, snappy dialogue, written by Martin.

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