Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Oscar Winning Matthew & Jared, Bertie & Jeeves & More!

Film: Dallas Buyers Club
Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto Get Roles of a Lifetime & Win Oscars for Them!

I think Matthew McConaughey has been doing stellar work ever since he got out of that rom-com nonsense he was making for a number of years. What a waste of his talent that was! In interviews he agrees that he was so glad to finally get roles which got him out of those films as well. Although I am losing count of the excellent jobs he has done in the last few years, this may be his finest achievement. This is because he does handsome and charming so easily in all of his films and for the first half hour of this he is an almost detestable human being. The descriptive phrase "sexist, redneck pig" might have been personally coined for him in that first half hour which is saying a lot for the former leading man of rom-coms!

This is based upon the true story of Ron Woodroof, a heterosexual in Dallas, who was an AIDS victim in the 1980s, when at best you might buy a few years of life if you had the disease. He manages to get quite a few more by grit and determination plus buying trips to places where he can get better drugs outside the USA.

I didn't recognize Jared Leto for the first twenty minutes he was onscreen. This was because he is in drag most of the time. He makes a very convincing woman. When he goes to visit his father in men's clothing, it is the most heartbreaking moment of the movie. He does his best work since his supporting role in REQUIEM FOR A DREAM.

Both actors look like complete and utter wrecks by the time we get to the end. They must have had to lose a lot of weight. They really go the distance with these roles. They both won Oscars.

I was in my 30s when the AIDS crisis broke and I remember it very well. This is a very accurate recreation of the dismal time anyone with that disease had in this country. It is better now, of course, but it was simply awful then.

This film is available at iTunes or Amazon Instant Video for immediate viewing. This is my review as an Amazon top reviewer. My other reviews are here.

Music: The Barbra Streisand Album
Knocked Out Anew by this Phenomenal Album

I just put this album on again yesterday and listened to it.  It had been awhile. However, I had the same reaction I did back in the 1960s when I first heard it. "Oh my God, this woman is an incredible talent." Decades later, I had the exact same reaction listening to it once again. One reason this first album is so incredible is that Streisand could not micromanage every aspect of the album.  She was 21, at the start of her career and was forced to follow the instructions of experienced professionals. Thus, this is not overblown. In later years she would tend to blow the roof off the studio with her ultra powerful voice.  It isn't necessary for her to do so. Subtler Streisand with tonal nuances is better than ultra powerhouse Streisand.

My favorite songs on this album are: Cry Me a River, A Sleepin Bee, Soon Its Gonna Rain, Happy Days Are Here Again and I'll Tell the Man in the Street. They are all ballads. The other songs create other moods to balance these heavyweights. Since she was also a huge Broadway star, she can deliver comedic songs as well as the weightier love songs. Thus, it is hard to think of another singer who could handle Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf. She performs it flawlessly.

If you have never heard beginning Streisand, you need to listen to this album and the two which followed it. You could spend your entire weekend with the first three albums, needing nothing else.

This album is available at iTunes or the Amazon MP3 Store for immediate listening. This is my review as an Amazon top reviewer. My other reviews are here.

Tv: Jeeves & Wooster
Finally Got Into Wodehouse with Hugh Laurie & Stephen Fry

I have tried a number of times to get into this author's work because my friends have recommended his work for years. Wit, hilarity, irony are frequent words tossed about in reference to his work. On every prior effort I've failed to "get it". I finally got it in two formats to break this impasse, if indeed it was breakable. First, I got the audio version of JEEVES & WOOSTER, narrated by Martin Jarvis. Then I watched the Video version with Hugh Laurie and Stephen Fry. I am happy to report that I finally "get" the humor and fun which readers of Wodehouse have long enjoyed. If you too have had trouble getting into the wit behind the work, I suggest you do the same.

The stories revolve around a well connected English gentleman, Bertie Wooster, who is as idle as can be. There are lords and ladies in his family. He did go to Eton and Oxford and now belongs to all the right clubs. However, the way he behaves, is the way most men of his class behaved in England back in his day, when automobiles were first coming out. You do see Bertie tooling about in his roadster. Bertie is played by Hugh Laurie. This character couldn't be any more different from Doctor Gregory House, especially since Bertie could not figure his way around his own breakfast, much less diagnose someone in dire distress. Bertie is funny but you are most definitely laughing at Bertie, not with him. Hugh Laurie is superb. His is the harder role as he has to come across as likable but not having much but air between his ears.

Jeeves is as opposite from Bertie as can be. Jeeves is of the working class, Bertie's valet. He is suave, intelligent, well read, shrewd and manipulative. Also, he is always calm and collected, never losing his cool. Stephen Fry plays him to perfection but it is a one note performance. In each and every episode, it is Jeeves who rescues Bertie, his friends or his family members after they have gotten themselves (always) into some ferocious mess of their own making. Just with picking out potential marital partners, they are all utter disasters.

A big part of my problem with Wodehouse and J&W was simply being American. In this same era in America, a well born, well educated man like Bertie would be considered a sluggard for accomplishing nothing. That he could go to (by comparison) Andover and Yale, after being born into a prominent American family, yet be such an idiot that his valet had to do his thinking for him, would not be the making of an American satire! That Bertie and all his friends regard any form of work as beyond the pale is also about as un American a concept as there could be. This classic of wit and satire could only come from England since it revolves around the concept and conceit of the idle English gentleman in that era.

This tv series is available at iTunes or Amazon Instant Video for immediate viewing. This is my review as an Amazon top reviewer. My other reviews are here.

Novel: The Husband's Secret by Liane Moriarty
thoughtful, insightful Australian novel

This story is told from more than one woman's perspective. It involves several women all linked together by their pasts in a Sydney Australia neighborhood. Things are set off by the most organized and successful of these women, Cecilia, by finding a letter in her attic from her husband instructing her to read it upon his death. Her husband is alive but on a business trip. The contents of this letter will show how interconnected all of these families' lives are, including Tess, who moves back from Melbourne when she splits from her husband, and Rachel, whose daughter was murdered when Tess and Celia were just girls themselves. 

All of these women have families and those families are the most important parts of their lives. Each of them will be facing what matters need to be spoken about and which are best left alone. Their consciences are all sorely tested. This book manages to make mundane things like a tupperware party and an Easter Hat parade be engaging parts of the book. This author has three other novels. One of them, The Hypnotist's Love Story, is just as good as this one. 

This novel has been on the American best sellers' lists for many months and deservedly so. I just did a search of this author on Clevnet, my public library consortium in northeastern Ohio. Every book this author has written is available for free from my library, ready to be downloaded to the Overdrive App onto a computer or mobile device.

This book is available at iTunes, Amazon's Kindle Store or Audible for immediate downloading, reading and listening. This is my review as an Amazon top reviewer. My other reviews are here.


  1. Another great weekend planned, thanks to you! It took me 3 years living in England to finally "get" the humor--and when I did, it was--and still is--immensely rewarding and superbly entertaining!

  2. Once I finally got it, I loved it. I have since watched every UK comedy I could get my mitts on!