Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Dear Jodie - The 2015 Oscars

Dear Jodie,

The 2015 Oscars have come and gone and have left me with a number of impressions.  First, Lady Gaga can sing! Truly sing! She even impressed the great Julie Andrews.

And what about Julie Andrews?  She still looks wonderful, and always full of class and grace.

On the other hand, John Travolta seems to be returning to his John Revolta phase of decades past. Has he stopped touching Idina Menzel's (aka Adele Dazeem's) face yet?  What about blind-side smooching Scarlett Johansson? I'd be saying yuck, yuck, double yuck.

Hell, I am saying it.

A great line from Neil Patrick Harris: "Benedict Cumberbatch is what you get when you ask John Travolta to pronounce Ben Affleck."

The winners won. The losers didn't.  My predictions weren't even in the ballpark.  But a couple of acceptance speeches stood out.

I liked J. K. Simmons thanking his wife and kids and encouraging folks to call their mom and dad.

I loved Common's and John Legend's acceptance speech for the Best Song Oscar.  Really moving!

I wasn't so thrilled with Patricia Arquette's acceptance speech. I happen to agree with her, women still aren't compensated as well as men, but feel that the Oscars … an award/entertainment show…isn't the right place to make that point, or any other point not directly related to the movie she won for. "Boyhood" was not about the inequality of the pay scale between men and women.

There's an old saying that you catch flies with sugar, not vinegar. I felt her rant sprayed too much vinegar over an unsuspecting audience.

"Still Alice" on the other hand was about dealing with Alzheimer's disease (please, my fellow Texans, can we not call it "Oldtimer's disease" anymore), and I loved Julianne Moore's acceptance speech.

She, very deftly and kindly, mentioned shining the light on Alzheimer's disease. Completely appropriate.  She brilliantly laced her observation with sugar and a touch of cinnamon.

I'm also glad that she won. Julianne Moore is hit or miss with me, but she hit big in "Still Alice."

Oh, and Eddie Redmayne. I rooted for him, not because any of the other nominees sucked, they didn't, but his, I felt, was the more difficult role to play. Physically demanding, and limited in the scope of his expression, Mr. Redmayne truly brought Stephen Hawking onto the screen.

This is just me, Jodie, but I only felt like three of the performances were worthy of the Oscar.  Eddie Redmayne, Benedict Cumberbatch, and Bradley Cooper.  The other two were good performances, but not particularly memorable to my mind.

Am I the only one who noticed that Joan Rivers was not in the "In Memorium" presentation? Was this an oversight? Or was Hollywood really sick of her acerbic jokes at their expense?  Either way, the Academy should address the omission, I think.

And then Sean Penn strikes again.  While presenting the Academy Award for Best Picture ("Birdman") to the Mexican-born Alejandro González Iñárritu, Penn said, “Who gave this son of a bitch his green card?”

Iñárritu later graciously said, "I thought it was hilarious," but … it sure didn't have the ring of hilarity.  Between really good friends in private, fine. But not in public. Not at the Oscars.  Not good, Sean!

Overall, I thought Neil Patrick Harris did an excellent job of hosting the Oscars. Ah, but Jodie, I have nothing to say about his appearing in his briefs onstage a la "Birdman." It reminded me of an old Eddie Murphy routine, "If I ain't got no bulge, I ain't modeling no underwear."

I rooted for people to win who didn't, like Kiera Knightley for Best Female Actress in a Supporting Role. Others I rooted for won, like Eddie Redmayne and Julianne Moore. I didn't particularly like Birdman winning. The movie, it seemed, was more about the camera technique than a story.

Oh, well.

Overall, I loved the 2015 Oscars, even with all of the hiccoughs.  It is my Super Bowl every year. It is an event.

I'm already looking forward to next year.

I can't wait to find out what you thought, Jodie!

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Dear Jodie - The Imitation Game

The Imitation Game poster.jpgDear Jodie,

I LOVE Sherlock Holmes, but not the series with Benedict Cumberbatch.  Basil Rathbone will always be Holmes for me.

That being said, I thought Cumberbatch was marvelous in "The Imitation Game."  Wow! What a performance!

Alan Turing didn't have a chance, really. My father once told me, "Son, it's hard as hell to like what you can't understand." People of Turing's day couldn't understand his genius or his sexuality so they took from him what they could and made him an outcast.  What a damn shame!

Mr. Cumberbatch brought this onto the screen beautifully, I think. The best part for me was bringing his youthful love to life again in the computer that essentially wins the war for the allies. In the end, he could love only Christopher of the past and present … the boy and the machine.

And, of course, I loved his confused tears when Joan Clarke explains the enormity of his contribution.

Keira Knightly as Joan Clarke shined as I have yet to see her. Just marvelous! I loved watching her, especially toward the end when she returns the words that Turing had once said to her.

"Sometimes it is the people no one imagines anything of who do the things that no one can imagine."

Many in my father's generation complained about "changing history" or "revising history."

When I studied World War II in history class up until I minored in history in college, I never heard of the Enigma code or Alan Turing.  Even then, it barely drew mention. It has only been in my lifetime that Turing's contribution to the war effort has become publicaly known, and then well known.

Not only were his accomplishments wartime secrets, but issues of homosexuality and chemical castration would have grown like weeds in the yard of a vacant house.

No, not changing history, or revising history, but shining lights onto the past to see those facts and events long lurking in the shadows and adding them into the canon or replacing inaccuracies.

Though I have never believed in watching movies to gain a history lesson, I think this one shined brightly and vividly.

8 out of 10

I'm curious to know what you think!