What I know about Haute Couture, I could fit in a shoebox. Maybe that is why I found this film SO fascinating. If I knew more about the lifestyle these people were talking about, maybe I would have been bored. Instead, I was riveted. Could people really be this focused on clothes and shoes and, most shocking of all, accessories? Well, this film and the real characters in it proves that yes, people can be this focused on all areas of fashion. Anna Wintour is the “star” of the film. A British ex-pat who came to New York and the world-renowned Vogue (American VOGUE, that is) from British Vogue and is now Vogue’s editor-in-chief. Wintour is a fierce woman…who can make or break a designer’s career with just the shake of her head. She’s the character the DEVIL in The Devil Wears Prada is based on. She pretty much is the face of the New York fashion scene – simply put…what she says or wants GOES and if she doesn’t want it, it’s gone. More interesting, I thought, was her creative director at Vogue, Grace Coddington, who clashes often with Wintour and always loses (since Anna always gets her way). How Grace copes with her losses and her set-backs at Vogue and still manages to come to work every morning is beyond me. The dynamic between these two independent, strong and very alike and different (at the same time) women is what made this film work for me.

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A fun, lighthearted film that really, really, really made me want to eat. Not cook, mind you. Some would want to copy the co-main character, Julie Powell, on her quest to cook all of Julia Child’s recipes from her Mastering the Art of French Cooking classic cookbook. I just wanted to eat my way through the movie. Aside from this film encouraging my foodie-ness, it is highly entertaining, though I must admit, I enjoyed Meryl Streep playing early Julia Child on an odyssey to to get a French cooking cookbook published in English MUCH more than the odyssey of Powell and her recipe crusade. Amy Adams as Powell is appealing, as Adams always is, but I had little interest in Powell’s saga. She cooks and blogs about cooking and talks about cooking and fights with her husband about cooking. It gets a little tiresome. The Julia Child parts, mostly set in Paris after WWII, are full of life and passion…just like Child herself. It is impossible to take your eyes off of Streep’s Child…not only is the characterization by Streep spot-on, but the storyline is also more vibrant and lively. We take a vested interest in Child and her cookbook quest, whereas with Powell, we honestly don’t care by the end. Fortunately, the Julia Child pieces of the film are so overwhelmingly funny and sweet, they make the film worth watching. And, it’s not that you will HATE the Powell storyline…you just won’t want to be best friends with her. With Child, you want to be her pal…to help her along with her cookbook…to talk with her…and especially, to EAT with her. And, I’m sure this has to do with both Child’s gregarious personality and also with Streep’s vivacious performance. All in all, an engaging, entertaining film that you most definitely should not watch on an empty stomach!

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Many people consider this one of the most frightening films they have ever seen. I wouldn’t exactly go that far…but for a suspense film, it’s top-notch. Maybe one of the reasons some folks see it as more of a horror movie than a thriller is that the main character is blind and it is a little more dastardly to taunt and threaten a person with a disability of some sort. The blind person, in this case, is Audrey Hepburn, who is quite convincing as a person without sight. You never really think…oh, well she’s just acting. You actually believe her blindness… forgetting that she’s Hepburn and, of course, not really blind. Hepburn’s boyfriend gets unintentionally tangled in a drug smuggling ring and through a series of events, the man looking for his drugs comes after Hepburn. Even though the entire films packs suspense, the finale is the part that really will have you jittering if your seat.

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The quintessential Cary Grant comedy pegs him with Myrna Loy and what a team they make. Grant plays a frustrated NYC husband who according to the opening narration by Melvin Douglas (who plays Grant’s best friend and lawyer), “makes $15,000 a year” as an advertising executive. For 1948, that puts this family in the upper-middle class range, which, I guess, is why Grant yearns for more space than he, his wife and their two daughters have in their cramped Manhattan apartment. So, he gets the idea to move. And that is where the fun begins. Not the film to see if you are moving soon or especially having a new home built, but one to watch when you need something for a few easy laughs.

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The film that forced married men to think twice before straying…as well as reviving Michael Douglas’ acting career…is a top-notch thriller. It got a lot of attention when it came out in 1987 because of its graphic violence and (especially) sexuality. Sometimes, when you strip the controversy from a film, what you’re left with is a movie that really was not worth all of the attention. I would say that is not true here…this is a great film that knows how to convey fear to the audience. Never would I say something is Hitchcockian (I believe that NOTHING will ever be worthy of that label since the Master of Suspense was, just that, a Master…the one and only), but I think that IF Hitchcock would have been working in 1987, he might have made a film in this same vein. The vein being a continual threat of menacing terror that keeps growing and growing until it just cannot do anything else other than explode! So, watch this one for the thrills…not for the attention it got when it came out. And, whatever you do, please do not call it Hitchcockian. If necessary…maybe pseudo-Hitchcockian, or semi-Hitchcockian? But, only if necessary!

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In the tradition of Once Upon a Time in America or even The Godfather, this film is one of the finest crime sagas I’ve ever seen. From start to finish, I was captivated by both the stories of the criminal and the cop. And, unlike some other crime films of yesterday that had “saga”-like feels to them, this one is based in reality. Yes, it’s violent, but I have a feeling that the violence here is grounded in truth. This very possibly might have been how Frank Lucas’ Harlem streets were back in the 1970s. Lucas is a black man in the white business of heroin… “white” meaning, at the time, only Italian…as in the Mob. Lucas becomes bigger than any mob figure…he owns the Harlem streets. He has Mafiosi begging to work with his organization. Enter cop and wanna-be lawyer Richie Roberts, who makes it his job bring down Lucas and his entire network. The acting really puts this movie over the top…the screenplay and direction are stellar, but the performances make it a classic!

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I haven’t laughed this hard in a long time. I mean…deep, hearty laughs. Maybe it’s Ricky Gervais…who I like a lot from The Office (The “Brit” version) and HBO’s Extras. Maybe it’s Greg Kinnear, who I also love and find very funny, though here he’s playing straight man to Gervais’ comic persona. The story, like most comedies, in simple…Gervais undergoes a near-death experience while under anesthesia, which in turn gives him the ability to see dead people…all of whom want him to help them with their problems. But, the core of the film provide the audience with original, witty dialogue, great humorous moments and strong comic performances by all…including Tea Leoni, who always has a good knack for sharp comic timing. Like I said, the ending is nothing special…so clichéd it’s lame. But, I think the beginning and middle of the film make up for its lackluster ending. Basically, this is an intelligent comedy I think you’ll enjoy.
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One of the most romantic films ever put on celluloid; this film has been copied, remade, emulated, talked about and cried over since its release. The story originated as Love Affair, a 1939 film directed by Leo McCarey and starring Irene Dunne and Charles Boyer. Then came this 1957 film, re-directed by McCarey. Then came Sleepless in Seattle, which was a pseudo-remake, followed by 1994’s Love Affair, which was back to being a traditional remake…just updated for the latter part of the 20th Century. Why all of these retellings? Well, it’s a good story and as close to a perfect romance as you can get. There’s everything here…comedy, tragedy, high drama, passion, sex appeal, tears, etc. Out of all of the versions, this one reigns supreme. Why? Two words: Cary Grant. Not to slight Deborah Kerr. She’s excellent here, but come on. It’s Cary Grant.

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