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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Detective Chief Inspector Jane Tennison is one tough lady. She does not give up…no matter what the odds. She stands by her convictions and her beliefs no matter who tells her she is wrong or that she “can’t” do something. Basically, police do not come any stronger than she. In Prime Suspect 1, Tennison has been passed over several times for big cases, something she believes has to do with her being a woman. So, after a male counterpart dies at the beginning of a big murder investigation, Tennison insists on taking over the case. Once she gets what she wants, most of the men under her are quite a bit upset. But, she does not in anyway let that discourage the ferocity at which she handles the case. I mean, she gets discourage and even loses a live-in relationship because of her long hours and stress level. But, for the most part, she is able to keep it together enough to get her suspect, so to speak. If you like British detective shows, this one is a must.

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For a British detective show, this one is fun. Having LOVED Patricia Routledge in her acclaimed British comedy Keeping Up Appearances, I was at first hesitant to try this show. I mean, Routledge will always be Appearances’ Hyacinth Bucket to me and watching her play anything else would be silly and pointless, right? Well, Routledge’s acting skills are such that, shortly after I began the first season of Hetty, I soon forgot about Hyacinth and Appearances (at least for the time being). Routledge’s Hetty is a spunky, determined woman who is desperate to fight off senior citizenship for as long as she can. Her husband recently retires and he figures they will live a life of quiet, peaceful rest but Hetty is cagy and unfulfilled by the thought of lazing around in her Golden Years. Instead, she takes a job at a post office branch and while working, she begins to investigate some potential frauds. One thing leads to another and she is well on her way to solving crimes. She enlists the help of a young, wandering teenaged boy who becomes her “assistant” and eventually moves in with her and her husband. Unlike some detective shows where there is a strong “gimmick” factor…the gimmick here being a senior, former housewife detective…the crimes and plots are pretty strong and convincing. The cases she takes on are not fluff, but also in the same token, they are not so unbelievable that no one would ever be able to solve them…not to mention an inexperienced P.I.

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For a British police show with a female main character, comparisons will always be made to Prime Suspect, the Helen Mirren series that has won over audiences all over the world, in addition to accolade after accolade for Ms. Mirren. In Blue Murder, DCI (Detective Chief Inspector) Janine Lewis is tough (like Mirren), has problems with her supervisors because she’s a woman (like Mirren), and also has issues controlling and getting respect from her staff because she’s a woman (like Mirren). What makes Lewis stand out above the other detective shows, including Mirren, is that this female detective is a single mother, which gives her even more complications and more of an edge than Mirren’s character. A great series that is for anyone who likes cop shows…with either male or female leads.

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Basically, Laura is a murder mystery, complete with a series of suspects and a hard-edged police detective, with a little love story tossed in to make things interesting. The thing that makes this film stand out above all of the thousands of other murder mystery films is the direction. Laura is a first-rate example of Film Noir, a type of film in the 1940s and 1950s that grew to represent the dark, threatening era of World War II, the Blacklist, and the Cold War. Laura is one of the first film noir films and possibly one of the best. Director Otto Preminger masterly increases suspense and romance with the right combination of lighting and the camera angles. Preminger didn’t direct many Film Noir films after this one, but he should of since he was so superb at it.

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A fun, entertaining holiday movie with star of stars, Barbara Stanwyck. The premise seems a bit silly, but trust me, it works. Stanwyck plays a food/homemaking columnist (remember — this is the 1940s) who cannot do anything domestic herself…just write about it. But, low and behold, she is forced to become the domestic goddess when her editor makes her practice what she preaches. Stanwyck excelled in comedies like this…low key and very smart. She’s always excellent but in scatterbrained roles like this one, she’s priceless. Not just a holiday movie either — good all year around!

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Paul Newman stars in this journalism tangle that keeps you guessing the entire time. Akin to films like All the President’s Men, this one wraps you up in secrets so tight, you won’t be able to breath. Also starring Sally Field, who is good here as a naive reporter. Not one of my favorite actresses, Field’s homey qualities lend the right light on her earthy journalist character. The audience really can sympathize with her, which they might not be able to do if a more glamorous actress took this role. Newman does what he does best here — play the underdog who really no one should like but who sways us to like him with his charm and rugged demeanor. Trust me, you will want to go to journalism school after watching this one…especially if Mr. Newman can be your first big story!

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No, not FAT…this phat means “pretty, hot and thick.” Thick, meaning large, which goes back to the original term of fat. Confused? Well, that aside, this film IS about a woman of size who is discouraged with her life…professional but mostly personal. As a woman of size myself, I found this film very positive in its depiction of the struggles a larger woman faces in the world. The main character here, Jazmin, is an aspiring plus-size fashion designer who designs her own clothes because she is fed up with the lack of colorful and vibrant options for women of size. Jazmin is a sexy, vivacious lady who, when she’s down and out, we really sympathize for. The movie, though, doesn’t seem to be milking the story for more pity…the trials Jazmin goes through all seem realistic for someone in her dilemma. I identified with her, as I’m sure much of the overweight female population will. Jazmin is Black, but she could be any color…her plight is the same. A fun, wild movie that actually has a decent, non-preachy message…something rarely done in Hollywood these days.

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The post Pillow Talk 1960s romantic comedies could be summed up in two words: Doris Day. The country was heading into a total transformation but good old Doris was trying her best to keep the American public firmly planted in the 1940s and 1950s, which is when romantic comedies like this shined and didn’t seem as tarnished. Don’t get me wrong…I love Doris Day. I can belt out “Que Sera Sera” in the shower with the best of ‘um (you’re going to have to take my word for it). But, by the mid-1960s, her clean image as the “good” girl was wearing a little thin. This film (one of her two pairings with co-star James Garner) is no exception. Garner (as Day’s husband) seems like a caveman in this film, always barking that his wife is not home since she’s out working! The horror!!!! But, all kidding aside, this would have to be one of my most guilty pleasures. I used to say that about Pillow Talk, but at least that film won an Oscar! This one didn’t come close but it’s just as much fun and just as sweet. The plot is silly and the dialogue is very outdated by today’s standards (or even by the mid-1960s standards) but it’s just a fun film to watch. Any film that has a pool explode into a yard-full of suds can’t be half bad, right?

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Out of all of the Spencer Tracy/Katharine Hepburn comedies, this one might be the least known but happens to be my favorite. Hepburn plays a corporate librarian and Tracy comes into the company with his new “computer” to try and replace Hepburn and her research staff. Aside from the always-wonderful comic/sexual tension between Tracy and Hepburn, one of the charming things about this film is the way the technology of the day was portrayed, since Tracy’s computer takes up an entire room. Aside from the out-datedness of that, this film stands the test of time because of the two phenomenal actors in the kind of movie they both seem to shine in.

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