I love movies and television.  And I love the ins and the outs of Hollywood (OK – honestly I love it mostly so I can make fun of it, but still…).  And usually when the two come together (meaning movies or TV shows ABOUT Hollywood), it rarely works.  I mean there are hits…like The Player, Sunset Boulevard, or The Bad and the Beautiful.  But, mostly there are misses.  And then there are the movies that are set in the world of Hollywood but are more about other storylines and not really entirely focused on the movie business, such as Singin’ in the Rain, Hugo, Extras (well, that’s not HOLLYWOOD, per se, since it’s set in London, but it’s still a TV show about the movie/TV industry). 

Episodes, like Extras, is a joint television presentation between Showtime and the BBC (Extraswas between HBO and the BBC).  And the cast is British/American too.  The two main characters, TV screenwriters from London who move to Hollywood to “re-do” their hit UK show there, are British (Tamsin Greig as Beverly and Stephen Mangan as Sean).  But, the “actor” who gets the part in the American version of the show is played by VERY-American actor Matt LeBlanc, best known for the iconic Joey on the iconic sitcom Friends.  Because LeBlanc is the complete opposite of the character in the British version of the show, the entire show has to be re-worked to cater to LeBlanc’s younger, more attractive character.  This, naturally, causes tension between Beverly and Sean since they know they have “sold out” for success and money. 
The writing is rapier sharp…in all the right places.  The humor is dark and sarcastic but super witty.  The “Hollywood” characters have just the right tone of dishonesty/falseness.  And the relationship between Beverly and Sean has just the right amount of homesickness, selfishness and pride.  If you know anything at all about the goings-on of Hollywood, you will love this show.  Even if you do not know about or even enjoy the “Hollywood” scene, I’m still thinking you will love it. 
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Dustin Hoffman might like to “drive slow on the driveway,” but his brother prefers to take the classic 1957 Buick Roadmaster out on the highways for a spin. Since Hoffman’s character is autistic, this film often gets misjudged as a story about him and his illness. Where, at its heart, it is the tale of two brothers on the road together, getting to know each other for the first time. A little on the sappy side but not enough to keep you away from this film which won a well-deserved Best Picture Oscar.

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This is the one that started it all…we are introduced to John McClane, from the NYPD, for the first time. We like him, though we see he has an edge. And he’s troubled about his estranged relationship with his wife, who accepted a lucrative job in Los Angeles months ago and ended up moving up the corporate ladder quicker than expected. Even without seeing any back story, we know instantly that John is not an “L.A” kind of a guy. So, take this worried, disgruntled man and put him in a skyscraper where he is the only one who is not taken hostage when a gang of slick international terrorists come to rob the joint…to say that his adrenaline kicks in is a vast understatement. All John can think about his that his wife is in danger and he needs to save her. And that means he will go to any lengths, which he does with gusto, humor and incredible vigor. This film became the late 1980-1990s icon of the action film. Films, for years after this one, used the “man trapped someplace alone with baddies” formula. But, none of those imitators came close to the rush of the one and only (and the original) Die Hard.

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Based on a true story, The Soloist is a strong film about two heroic characters and their unlikely friendship.

Set in Los Angeles, Robert Downey Jr. plays a fledgling Los Angeles Times columnist, desperate for that ONE story that will revitalize his career. He meets Jamie Foxx’s character, who is a homeless man playing a two-stringed violin. When Downey does some research, he finds Foxx was a young cello genius before mental illness forced him into the depths of homelessness and playing music on street corners for change.

I’m not a big Downey fan, but he is good here. Very much akin to the Tom Cruise role in Rainman, Downey has the so-called “easier” job of playing a “normal” guy. But, that is where the misconception comes in…for sometimes normalcy can require more skills than behavior that is perceived as “abnormal.” And, Downey is great in that “normal” role…you can feel his pain as he travels the rocky road with Foxx.

But, Foxx really does deservedly steal the show here. Once again, Foxx proves he is a highly talented actor who is capable of playing pretty much any type of role. We buy completely into Foxx as a homeless cello prodigy. We feel for him, understand him, cry for him, and long for him to be mentally stable. This could not have been an easy role for Foxx…it is quite obvious he is actually playing the cello. It’s also the kind of role that can really flop quite spectacularly if done wrong. Thankfully, that is not the case here.

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A fabulously acted movie that holds your attention all the way through. Based on a true crime from the 1920s, director Clint Eastwood takes what could have been a simple movie and makes it into a psychological, intense drama. After a mother’s son goes missing, corruption in the Los Angeles Police Department takes over and forces the mother to accept a child that is not her own. When the mother protests, she is called crazy and put in an asylum. Apparently, this real-life case began the fall of the corruption among L.A.’s finest. Regardless of the truth of this story, it is an enthralling film. Angelina Jolie is superb as the wronged mother. And Eastwood’s knack for storytelling has never been better. The story lags a little near the end but all in all, a great film.
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