When I saw Monster or The Queen, I felt like I had seen movies where the actors (in these cases, Charlize Theron and Helen Mirren respectively) embodied the persona of a real-life person. In La Vie en Rose Marion Cotillard takes it one step forward…she embodies the persona and the SOUL of the Edith Piaf. When I was watching this, I just became immersed with Piaf and this movie. I was in a trance…mesmerized in the performance. I had seen Cotillard in A Good Year, a romantic comedy in which she played the love interest to Russell Crowe. She was a striking, tall, stunningly beautiful woman with close-to-perfect features and almost an ethereal quality. In La Vie en Rose, she is truly Piaf…hunched over, small, course, and beautiful only the eyes of a few select people. What is beautiful, mostly, about Piaf, is her voice. Watching Cotillard, though, makes this short, awkward woman a striking person without an overabundance of physical beauty. Without adding any physical attributes to her, Cotillard brings out the inner beauty of Piaf…in both the depth of the fabulous performance and with the sparkle always shining through Piaf’s eye whenever Cotillard is shown. The movie, itself, is a good deal too long and would be quite tedious if I were not memorized with the performance. I’m sure it could have benefited with some serious time in the editing room…as long as no scenes featuring Piaf were cut out. She’s way too good to leave on the cutting room floor.

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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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A riotous, toe-tapping adaptation of the Kander-Ebb Broadway musical that will keep you dancing and singing along from start to finish. Told through the eyes of wannabe star Roxie Hart, the movie’s tone is much lighter and more fun than the Broadway musical, which spends more time on the dark side of Roxie. Great performances by Renee Zellweger as Roxie and Catherine Zeta-Jones as Roxie’s nemesis Velma Kelly but that stand-out performance is by Richard Gere, who is just phenomenal as the conniving lawyer Billy Flynn. If you’re not still humming the songs of this Best Picture winner a day later, there’s something wrong with you!

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Not knowing anything more about Maria Callas than that she was an internationally renowned opera sensation, I was particularly interested to see this one. Not really a biographical film, this movie, as it states in the blurb on the back of the DVD case, is director Franco Zeffirelli’s interpretation of what Callas’ last months might have been like if things had gone differently. But, I wondered differently how? After watching the film, I got the impression that even though Zeffirelli worked often with Callas, the film is more about what he personally would have liked Callas to do with her last days, instead of apparently what she did do…which was pretty much…well, nothing. The film is a glorious tribute to Callas as a singer and as a “diva.” French actress Fanny Ardent does a great job of capturing both Callas’ torment at the lost of her voice and the admiration she thrives off once she becomes “famous” again. This film is not especially for someone who does not like or have even a mild appreciate for opera since much of the movie revolves around Callas doing a film production of Bizet’s Carmen. Of course, since Zeffirelli has directed many, many opera productions, he knows how to stage, light and shoot the musical parts. But even if you think you don’t like opera, between Zeffirelli’s beautiful direction and the sound of Callas’ voice in its prime, you might just find that opera is one of your hidden loves. If any film can bring that passion out in you, this one can.

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