Movie Review: “Beyond the Sea”


Yes, Kevin Spacey (who plays Bobby Darin) sings ALL the songs in this movie.  (He’s a VERY good singer!)  He also wears several hairpieces (just as Darin did) and had his nose made bigger and broader (via clever makeup).  Spacey also directed, co-wrote, and produced this picture; he spent 5 years on the entire process.  Bobby Darin (real name: Walden Robert Cassuto) was one of Spacey’s fave singers growing up. 

Darin was a sickly boy from a working-class Bronx family who had a love for music and performing.  (There is an adorable child actor who plays the young Bobby!)  His mother Polly (Brenda Blethyn), a former performer herself, knew that he would someday be “bigger than Sinatra.”    It’s an unusual biography- not the typical format.


Above is a pic of Mary (tall and gorgeous Brit/Italian Greta Scacchi) with her daughter, Sandra Dee (young/up-and-coming Brit Kate Bosworth).  Sandy was an actress, and teen idol, who Bobby fell for while shooting a film in Italy.  They had a long, though sometimes dramatic, marriage. 

Darin’s brother-in-law (the great Brit character actor Bob Hoskins) and older sister also journey with the young man from “rags to riches.”  John Goodman plays the music producer who motivates and manages Darin’s career.


Here are the REAL Bobby and Sandy; they worked to overcome their “teen dream” public personas and be taken as serious performers. 


There are several song and dance numbers in Beyond the Sea, reminding you of ’40s musicals.   These will put a smile on your face!  Spacey, always an interesting actor to watch (Seven, A Time to Kill, American Beauty, etc.), seems to relate very well to his character.  Like Darin, he loves performing live and connecting with an audience.  Also, Spacey enjoys acting, and always looks like he’s thinking about his character. 

Below are the songs (available on iTunes) I especially liked from the movie soundtrack:

As Long As I’m Singing

Beyond the Sea

Dream Lover

That’s All

Movie Review: “An Officer and a Gentleman” (1981)



This is a GREAT growing-up movie, directed by Taylor Hackford (who recently made Ray) that young people (older teens/20s) will easily relate to.  It’s full of (real-life) drama and characters who remain in your mind after the film is over.  It was shot on-location in Washington state.       




You may know that Louis Gossett, Jr. won a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his role as Foley, the steel-tough drill instructor who serves as a father-figure to protagonist- young, undisciplined Zack Mayo (Richard Gere). 




Zack lost his mother before his teens, tragically.  He flew to the Phillipines to live with his sailor father Byron (Robert Loggia); he’s an alcoholic, womanizer, and disinterested parent.  But he’s all that Zac has…  


Byron: I’m out at sea three weeks out of every month, and when I’m back at port I don’t have time for this daddy stuff ’cause that’s not who I am.

Young Zack: That’s okay, sir.

Byron: Wait a second, kid, you don’t understand. I’m too old for this. I don’t care what the Navy says. This is no place to bring up a kid like I told you on the telephone. You’re better off at that state school back in Virginia. 

Warms the heart, doesn’t it?




Though discouraged by his not-so-dear dad, Zack decides to try out for the Navy’s officer school.  His secret dream has been to become a pilot.  At the school, on Port Rainier, Zack becomes part of a motley crue of recruits.  Foley will serve as “mom and dad for the next 13 weeks,” one recruit comments.  As well as leading his group in various exercises, Foley warns the men about the “Puget Debs”, the local single girls who take the ferry each weekend in hopes of landing themselves a pilot husband.  





Zack (nicknamed Mayonaisse) quickly distinguishes himself in various physical trials, but struggles with certain lecture classes.  He even makes friends, including Sid Worley (David Keith), a sweet/enthusiastic young man from an Oklahoma military family.  (Last season, you may’ve seen Keith on an ep of Law & Order: Criminal Intent.)       




I’ve never had a girl.


Zack meets Paula (Debra Winger), one of the local girls who works at a paper factory, at a dance.  Zack flatly states that he’s not looking for a relationship, just “some fun.”  Paula insists that she’s not a husband-hunter.  But over time, they grow closer and closer.  (The former loner even goes over to her house for Thanksgiving dinner!)       


Gere and Winger have GREAT chemistry!  They are comfortable getting physically close, discussing personal issues, but also laugh and joke around.  (But a producer felt she was not HOT enough for the part!)  Strong, positive emotions are new to Zack; he admits that Paula is his first girlfriend.  Paula, who is wise and hopeful, encourages him in his endeavors.       




Zack is pushed by the training, and by Paula’s need to get emotionally closer.  In the meantime, Sid struggles with his own insecurities and a relationship of his own.  


Several men drop out of the program, including a VERY young David Caruso.  (He has a couple of GREAT scenes!)  One weekend, Foley (nearly) pushes Zack to his breaking point.  But he won’t give up…     





Okay, so you may know the (fairy-tale-like) ending of the film!  Check out An Officer and a Gentleman– it has plenty of action and unexpected moments.  It’s not just a “chick-flick” as I read before.  (My mom, who got the DVD, really liked the story, too!)

Movie Review: “Pride & Prejudice” (1940)

Pride & Prejudice (1940)



No, these are not Regency-era dresses; they’d suit Scarlett and Melanie!  LOL…  Once you get past these poofy costumes, you’ll enjoy this quick, breezy take on Austen’s most famous novel.  Mrs. Bennett is funny and husband-crazy (for the sake of her girls).  Mr. Bennett is has a great dry wit.  Mr. Collins is silly, and looks it, too!      



Elizabeth (Greer Garson) is just as independent-minded as you’d expect.  Mr. Darcy (Laurence Olivier) is tall, stylish, BUT much more friendly/outgoing than in the book.  Olivier is JUST how one would picture Darcy, however, and he plays a posh Brit gent very easily (and well)! 



Jane (Maureen O’Sullivan) is pretty, but reserved and sensible. 



Lizzie reveals her REAL feelings to Darcy in her family’s large, lovely garden.  Both the leads stay w/in the bounds of propriety, but play the emotional scenes well.  There are no extremes of drama, however, so it feels true to the book.  Check this film out if you’re an Austen fan!




1st Snowfall of 2009 (NoVA)

Hey all,

The snow is (finally) here in the DC metro area/northern suburbs!  I’m currently in Alexandria, VA (close to Old Town).  My mom’s place (outside Indy) has had snow for the past few days.   

Good news: I’m starting my applications for 2009-2010 teaching jobs in SEVERAL states/cities: DC, VA, NC, and NY (1st choice, of course).   I’m also looking into NV, FL, and AZ (where I grew up).  I heard from an old family friend who’ll try help (in his state).  So, I’m not feeling TOO down today!


These pics are from just outside my Dad’s apt; we’re on the 5th fl.










Thanks for checking in w/ my blog,


Movie Review: Masterpiece Theater’s “Wuthering Heights”


This young lady (Emily Bronte) wrote one of the most scandalous books of her time!  (Some consider it a pretty outrageous book in our time, too.)  She was the daughter of a clergyman, rarely left home, never married, and died at age 30.


Here is a portrait of Emily painted by her older brother, Bramwell.  Many literary experts think that Bramwell was the inspiration for the charater of Heathcliff.  Bramwell was much more a person of the world than his sisters (Charlotte, Emily and Anne); he was said to have a hot temper, drink heavily, and gamble.


Emily’s Heathcliff, unlike Charlotte’s Mr. Rochester (Jane Eyre), is not merely a brooding romantic hero who can be turned around by a good woman.  Healthcliff is an anti-hero- more like a force of nature than a man.  When Cathy lies ill and pregnant in this latest ITV adaptation, she begs Nelly (the ever-loyal housekeeper) to throw open the windows.  She wants to feel the wind upon her- feel close to Heathcliff.

This adaptation is not very close to the book, but it has several strong points.  The music suits the mood of the story very well.  The use of unknown actors works well, as we have no preconceived notions of what we’ll see.  As characters changed over time, and the actors’ portrayals became more believable.


Heathcliff, in deed, stands unredeemed.  -Charlotte Bronte

Tom Hardy, though not conventionally handsome, makes an excellent Heathcliff.  This Healthcliff is “very changeable” (like Mr. Rochester), but filled to the brim w/ rage.  Hardy is somehow able to make the audience feel some empathy with him at crucial times in the story.  I especially enjoyed these scenes: Heathcliff coming to tea after Cathy and Edgar Linton’s marriage, confronting her on the moors after she’s been w/ Edgar, and holding/comforting the nearly-dead Cathy at the crag.


Tom Hardy does a lot of acting with his eyes and facial expressions, as Healthcliff is a mysterious man.  But he’s also able to say the dialogue with conviction.  The low/deep voice he uses makes you lean forward and pay attention.  He created good chemistry with Cathy (Charlotte Riley), but I felt he was a much stronger actor.  He’s older and has had much more experience.  (While I watched him, I thought of Gene Hackman, another actor who is very masculine, intense, and able to stay in the moment.)

Burn Gorman, an actor you may’ve seen in Bleak House, did a terrific job as the depressed, unstable, and alcoholic Hindley.  The young lady who played little Catherine (Cathy’s daughter) did very well also; she was full of her mother’s curiosity and energy.  Edgar was handsome, likeable, but weak (as in the book).

There were many things different from Bronte’s book, most notably Healthcliff shooting himself.  Also, no one mentions that Healthcilff might be Mr. Earnshaw’s son by a Liverpool whore.  There is no way to be certain that he and Cathy “hooked up” at the crag (as plainly shown/said in Part I).  Could it have happened?  As my mom said- yes, but people didn’t state these things explicitly then.   Heathcliff doesn’t physically abuse wife Isabella, though he says hurtful things and neglects her.

What didn’t work was the scene where Cathy confesses to Nelly her feelings for both Edgar and Heathcliff.  The actress didn’t put too much emphasis on these important lines.  Before he rode off, Healthcliff was supposed to hear part of her speech (Edgar wants to marry her, it would degrade her to marry a “servant”, and so on.)  But in this film, Healthcliff goes off while she starts talking about Edgar.  Too bad- missed opportunity for the director!

Ultimately, Heathcliff and Cathy’s love was obsessive and destructive.  Cathy was torn between Heathcliff (passion/uncertainty) and Edgar (wealth/respectability).  Because of his tortured past, Heathcliff was “more full of hate than love,” as Cathy says.  He wanted revenge so badly that he nearly destroyed the younger generation.  When he came back a rich gentleman, Healthcliff was unable to rid himself of his emotional baggage.  He was his own worst enemy!