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Friday, July 25, 2014

Documentary Review: Dear Mom, Love Cher

Via Netflix, we watched the documentary "Dear Mom, Love Cher" (2013), which chronicles the life, career and loves of Cher's 88 year old mom, Georgia Holt.

Georgia, born in 1926 grew up extremely poor and was somewhat exploited by her father in order to make money from her singing ability.  Married 7 times (twice to the same man), this documentary shows you who she was and what influenced her life and in turn, that of her actress daughter Georgianne, and Cher.

I don't think it's rocket science where Cher gets her anti-aging genetics from.  Georgia appears somewhat frail in her movements, but that's about all that betrays her.  There's no way she looks like a woman approaching 90.

The documentary has a lot of photos and clips of the family, the men, the kids, the career.

I'm a big fan of Cher, always have been.  So this was just an extension of that...gaining a bit of understanding of where she came from.  I enjoyed it.

Watch this duet clip below, or via this link.  They don't sound much alike do they?  HA!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Movie Review: Alfred Hitchcock's Torn Curtain

Alfred Hitchcock's Torn Curtain (1966) is a story of the scientific race to nuclear power, government conspiracy and spies.

American physicist Michael Armstrong (played by Paul Newman) has funding cut to an important project of scientific research.  He has taken the formula as far as he could and is, in theory, stuck.  He pretends to defect to East Germany in order to trick a scientist there into giving up the part of the formula he needs.

His assistant and fiance Sarah Sherman (played by Julie Andrews) knows he's being dishonest and evasive but isn't sure why.  So she follows him and ends up in the middle of some very dangerous situations.

He gets into the country easily enough by feigning that he HAS the entire formula...but once he actually gets it, it's a little harder getting back OUT of the country.  A lot can happen...and does.

The film was made at the height of the popularity of both Paul Newman and Julie Andrews.  Andrews had recently finished both Mary Poppins and Sound of Music and both Newman and Andrews were big box office draws.  The extras on the DVD are interesting.  It was fun to watch Julie Andrews in such a serious and non musical, non-whimsical role.  Both Newman and Andrews are believable characters in their roles unlike many of the others in Hitchcock films.  This is yet another film I had never heard of.  We rented it from Netflix but you can, no doubt, watch all of it on YouTube.

"Torn Curtain" has to do with them going "behind the iron curtain" of East Germany and then getting back out again.  Hitchcock appears in the hotel lobby with a toddler on his lap in his cameo.

Watch the trailer below or via this link.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Movie Review: Alfred Hitchcock's Marnie

Alfred Hitchcock's "Marnie" (1964) is a disturbing psychological thriller starring Tippi Hedren and Sean Connery.

Marnie, played by Tippi Hedren is a compulsive thief and perhaps a bit of a sociopath.  Sean Connery is a business man who catches her in the act and then entraps her.

Mark Rutland (Connery) has a hobby interest in animal behavior and waffles between appearing to be helpful/genuine, and manipulative; as though Marnie is an animal for him to trap and study and modify.

Marnie has a traumatic childhood secret that has closed her off from others and Mark wants to "fix" her.  He goes about it in questionable ways...including forcing her to marry him or go to jail...and marital rape.

Sean Connery is his usual fantastic actor self.  Tippi Hedren (who also was the star of Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds) is over the top corn-ball acting.  But that was still an acceptable norm in that era.

I don't think I had even heard of this film and it's been interesting to work our way through as many Alfred Hitchcock movies as we can find.  Yes, you see Alfred's cameo appearance coming out of a hotel room.  I love watching for his "Where's Waldo" moments.

We rented the DVD from Netflix and I also enjoy watching the extras on the DVD where the process of filming, casting, etc is discussed.

Watch the clip below or via this link.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Documentary Review: 20 Feet From Stardom

20 Feet From Stardom (2014) is a documentary that follows some legendary (although often unknown) back-up singers.  We streamed it from Netflix but you can also watch the entire program on YouTube.

One of the things I found interesting about it, is that some of the back-up singers clearly aspired to become the headliner, but for reasons that appear to be a mystery, they were never able to break out to the "front line".  Others had little or no desire to be the famous one, and instead appreciated the magic of blended voices and the love of music.  For them, being unknown, but still employed and in the thick of the action was a good fit.  One of them commented that perhaps why some made it to the front and some didn't was the ability or lack of it to "self promote".

Another irony, is that many of these "back-up" singers clearly had voices that far surpass the headliners they work with/for.  Lots of interesting irony.  Some with obvious diva arrogance and some with utter humility and humbleness.

I found it quite interesting.  I like the glimpses into lesser known aspects of larger phenomenon.

Watch the trailer below or via this link.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Comedy Video Review: Josh Blue, Sticky Change

We streamed Josh Blue; Sticky Change (2012) from Netflix.  I think you can probably watch the whole thing on YouTube also.  It's a comedy stand-up routine.

Josh Blue won Last Comic Standing in 2006 and is one of the most endearing funny guys around.  Josh has Cerebral Palsy and makes those challenges part of his routine.  Because nothing is funnier than real life, and laughing at the ways in with "able bodied" people react to him.

The routine "Sticky Change" is no exception.  He talks about how others react to him, and the comedy in everyday life.  Married and father of two, he has plenty to say about parenting as well.

While not "vulgar" humor, he does swear quite a bit in this (including dropping of the f-bomb), so be forewarned if this is not something you can handle.  I think he would be just as funny without it, but then, it also doesn't offend me either.  Not for kids, but then, few stand-up comedy bits are.  I laughed a lot.  Thoroughly enjoy him.

Watch the trailer below or via this link.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Mail Order Clothing Company Review: Rose Wholesale

I almost never notice the advertising in the sidebar of Facebook, but one day I saw this beautiful dress at a very low price and thought I would look.  I also never click on the links in Facebook, but if I ever DO see something worth looking at, I manually type in the website address so as to not get tagged for junk mail.

That is how I ended up on the site of Rose Wholesale.  I'm telling you they have some BEAUTIFUL and UNIQUE clothing and accessories (for women) at extremely low prices.  Which always makes you wonder about sweat shops and slave labor.

Anyway, I spent some time on the site drooling...and then I Googled "customer reviews of Rose Wholesale".  Based on those comments and reviews, and what I could glean from the site (which appears to be based in China), this was the comment I posted to "Site Jabber" review website:

First disclosure...I've never ordered from here, so can't accurately rate it. I'm giving it this rating based on the totality of the other reviews I'm reading. Like everyone else, the prices and the variety of beautiful and unique items caught my eye.
What I would say for ME, that I would need to see before I would order from Rose Wholesale would be this:

1. Offer a flat rate price for shipping all items in the order, vs charging more than the

price of the item...the weight is not much on most items...with some research, they could come up with more economical shipping options. I'm no longer excited to see the low price once I see how much it costs to ship it (to the U.S.).
2. Do something about the sizing. It is confusing and makes you nervous that your item will not be something that fits. A centimeter conversion chart is not handy for customers. Design your website so that you can choose sizing for your country and then be DARN sure, it is accurate. Because it appears it takes a very long time to receive orders and to process returns, this is one of the most important things you could do.

3. Make your shopping experience CONSISTENT. Many customers are happy...but for many others, the shipping time, sizing, and quality of products, as well as turn around time on returns is INCONSISTENT. I want to read reviews that have far more positive reviews, with only the occasional dissatisfied customer...and of those that they were happy with prompt correction of an error.

As an aside, I originally went to the site based on an ad with pictures of a beautiful dress that appeared in the sidebar of Facebook...only to find that the beautiful dress was nowhere to be it isn't a current photo of an available item...and I went through all of the over 3,000 dresses!

You have a lot of work to do before I can feel comfortable ordering.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Movie Review: Alfred Hitchcock's "Topaz"

Alfred Hitchcock's "Topaz" (1969) is a spy thriller on the topic of the Cold War and the events leading up to the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis.  There are spies, and double agents, and defectors.

It is based on the 1967 book by the same title written by Leon Uris and follows closely the 1962 Sapphire Affair.

As Alfred Hitchcock movies go, I was a little bored with this and confused.  But then the Cuban Missile Crisis and the Cold War in general confuse me.

The movie is a bit James Bond-ish and stars prolific actor, John Forsythe (We did see a cameo by Alfred in this flick.  He is in the background, in a wheelchair when he gets up, shakes someone's hand and walks off screen.

The ending was disappointing, and anti-climactic.  It ends rather abruptly, with little fanfare, leaving you wanting just a little more resolution and explanation.

Watch the trailer below or via this link.