‘Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl’ defied expectations by being great

Johnny Depp and Kiera Knightly in 'Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl'
Johnny Depp and Kiera Knightly in ‘Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl’

[rating=4]Starring: Johnny Depp, Geoffrey Rush, Orlando Bloom, Keira Knightly, Jack Davenport, Jonathan Pryce, Mackenzie Crook, Lee Arenberg, Zoe Saldana
Director(s): Gore Verbinski
Writer(s): Jay Wolpert, Stuart Beattie, Terry Rossio, Ted Elliott

It has been quite some years since a really good pirate movie was made. The last that I can remember was Cutthroat Island, the film that signaled the official end of Gena Davis’ career — and Matthew Modine, I think, although he was probably out of the picture before that.

Read more‘Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl’ defied expectations by being great

Disney finally embraces ethnicity with ‘Mulan’

'Mulan' finds love while disguising herself as a male soldier
‘Mulan’ finds love while disguising herself as a male soldier

[rating=2]Starring: the Voices of Ming Na, B.D. Wong, Eddie Murphy, George Takei, Harvey Fierstein, Melissa Alto
Director(s): Tony Bancroft & Barry Cook
Writer(s): Rita Hsiao, Chris Sanders, Philip Lazebnik, Raymond Singer, Dean DeBlois

Mulan was probably the first Disney animated film in years that I had not seen in the movies. In fact, I hadn’t seen it in its entirety until watching this DVD. And as much as I thought the animation was stunning, and the story entertaining, the film really falls short on the music front.

I was also surprised by how the film seemed to celebrate the ethnicity of the story.

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Strong and Sexy: A Comparison/Contrast of Barbara Stanwyck and Madonna

Barbara Stanwyck
Barbara Stanwyck

Barbara Stanwyck and Madonna get what they want. These stars outshine most of their famous contemporaries because they will themselves to be the most desirable, intelligent, and unruly women of their respective eras. They convince audiences with strong actions that their high self-confidences and healthy self-esteems are justified, and, as a result of their poise, we believe in them, identify with them, and admire their spunk.

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‘Ed Wood’ is Tim Burton best film

Never has a bad filmmaker been so celebrated than Edward D. Wood, Jr. And regardless of how fun his films may be to watch, Ed Wood was terrible at making movies. The stories are ridiculously bad, the acting is terrible, the dialogue is a joke. They’re just plain bad.

But, somehow, they are really, really fun to watch.

Ed Wood is probably as terrific a film about the man that could possibly be made. And finally, after so many false starts and promised release dates, this classic homage to the most popular bad filmmaker in history has arrived on DVD.

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‘I’m Not Scared’ is a dark, thrilling coming-of-age tale

Giuseppe Cristiano fights to escape killers in 'I'm Not Scared'
Giuseppe Cristiano fights to escape killers in ‘I’m Not Scared’

[rating=4]Starring: Giuseppe Cristiano, Mattia Di Pierro, Aitana Sánchez-Gijón, Dino Abbrescia, Diego Abatantuono, Giulia Matturo, Stefano Biase, Suzy Sanchez, Giorgio Careccia, Fabio Tetta, Riccardo Zinna
Director(s): Gabriele Salvatores
Writer(s): Screenplay by Niccolo Ammaniti & Francesca Marciano, based upon the novel by Niccolo Ammaniti

Childhood is simplicity. At least it should be. And for some the transition into adulthood can be confusing and exciting. In the case of Italian-made thriller, I’m Not Scared, that transition is sudden and dramatic.

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‘Star Wars’ finally arrives on DVD

Starring: Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill, Alec Guinnes, Billy D. Williams, James Earl Jones
Director(s): George Lucas, Irvin Kirshner, Richard Marquand
Writer(s): Stories by George Lucas, Empire Strikes Back screenplay by Leigh Brackett, Lawrence Kasdan, Return of the Jedi screenplay by Lawrence Kasdan

Go Force Yourself!

Not so long ago, at a Best Buy not so far away, the boxed set of the “first” trilogy of Star Wars movies finally arrived on DVD. Helping it surpass the first day total sales of Lord of the Rings by almost double, (87 million units vs. 50 million) fans of the George Lucas saga proved their loyalty once again by dressing up as their favorite action figures and waiting in line to be the “first” in the galaxy to own the films that are, by count, now in their 5th manifestation (theatrical release-video-laser disc-special edition-DVD).

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Debunking Hollywood’s ‘Funny Girl’: The real story of Fanny Brice

Fanny Brice, the real 'Funny Girl'
Fanny Brice, the real ‘Funny Girl’

“Being a funny person does an awful lot of things to you. You feel that you mustn’t get serious with people. They don’t expect it from you, and they don’t want to see it. You’re not entitled to be serious, you’re a clown, and they only want you to make them laugh.” — Fanny Brice

Hollywood filmmaking is an industry that subordinates truth to glamour. Director William Wyler’s 1968 success, Funny Girl, is a typical studio film in this respect. Although Barbra Streisand’s dazzling talent, Omar Sharif’s dashing good looks, and Isobel Lennart’s charming screenplay combine to make an entertaining story, Funny Girl hardly tells the complete tale of Fanny Brice. An equally riveting, factual account of this Jewish comedian’s life can be found in Herbert G. Goldman’s biography “Fanny Brice: The Original Funny Girl”. This paper examines the distinctions between Barbara Streisand’s Fanny Brice and the real Fanny Brice. In doing so, the freedoms and limitations of these two mediums, ‘loosely-biographical’ film and non-fiction writing, are made apparent.

Within the first few scenes of Wyler’s Funny Girl the audience is introduced to Fanny Brice’s low-income home on Henry Street. Fanny’s financial and social obstacles to fame instantly endear viewers to her character. Spectators sympathize with Fanny’s frustration and admire her determination to fulfill her goals, especially in light of her need to continually defend her dreams to her less ambitious, card addict mother and neighbors.

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The Moves of Gene Kelly

Gene Kelly in 'An American in Paris'
Gene Kelly in ‘An American in Paris’

Gene Kelly redefined the American film musical by creating male protagonists who epitomized masculinity while singing and dancing. Unlike his peer Fred Astaire, Kelly was disinterested in portraying upper-class, effeminate men and actually said that he “didn’t want to move or act like a rich man, [he] wanted to dance in a pair of jeans, [he] wanted to dance like the man in the streets” (PBS Special).

Kelly’s unique talent for making the most complex dance sequences appear effortless and commonplace is apparent in Vincente Minnelli’s 1951 musical hit, An American in Paris. Moreover, Kelly’s skill, ideas, and artistic judgement were crucial to the successful planning and production of this film.

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