The Five Stages of Grief, As Experienced During Liz & Dick

Lohan, I wish I knew how to quit you.

And now, a brief summary of the emotions I experienced during the last 24 hours as I watched the greatest movie event of our time, Liz & Dick. Perhaps you felt the same way.
Continue reading “The Five Stages of Grief, As Experienced During Liz & Dick”

What These Character Posters Tell Us About What To Expect When You’re Expecting

I have a theory about What To Expect When You’re Expecting, which hits theaters in May. It is just like New Year’s Eve or Valentine’s Day (hello, ensemble casts) except it is a far more humiliating movie for all of the actresses involved.

The character posters for What To Expect When You’re Expecting don’t do any of these theoretically talented women any favors. (Sorry. I won’t accept this idea that Brooklyn Decker is an actress.) The posters play into terrible stereotypes, recycle the bad jokes about pregnancy, and are just embarrassing for everyone involved. Especially us. We have to look at them.

Continue reading “What These Character Posters Tell Us About What To Expect When You’re Expecting”

Elizabeth Taylor: The Two Films That I Love

Seems like we always spend the best part of our time just saying goodbye.” – A Place in the Sun (1951)

This morning’s news of Elizabeth Taylor’s passing is not entirely surprising. Reports of her declining health have been frequent these past few months. None of that matters though. Everyone should pause for a second to reflect on Dame Elizabeth’s life, her career and her humanitarian work. She was the very definition of a Hollywood icon and one of the true greats.

I’ve written about Taylor’s performances before and I love so many of them. Suddenly Last SummerCat on a Hot Tin Roof. Butterfield 8. Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Even Cleopatra.

Like many people, I first encountered Elizabeth Taylor when I was very young. I was barely a teenager, probably younger, when I saw National Velvet.

National Velvet is one of my mom’s favorite movies from when she was a child. We watched it together. (My parents had this amazing way of casually forcing Hollywood classics on me when I was a child.)

I loved (love) the story of a 12-year-old girl and her beloved horse training for the Grand National steeplechase. When things don’t go exactly Velvet’s way, she disguises herself as boy to compete. (In retrospect my mom was probably also giving me some subtle hints about why feminism matters.)  It is Elizabeth Taylor’s natural screen charm, even as a child performer, that makes this movie so wonderfully memorable. I watch it whenever I stumble across it on television.

My absolute favorite Elizabeth Taylor film is the 1951 romantic tragedy A Place in the Sun. It is the only one of her more than 50 films that I have made a point of owning.

Montgomery Clift portrays  factory worker George Eastman, Shelley Winters is Alice, his pregnant girlfriend, and Taylor is Angela, the socialite that comes between them. So much of this George Stevens film belongs to Clift and Winters. Did George ever really love Alice or is does he only desire the money that comes with loving Angela? We never really know. We’re just left with the pain of the many failed romances.

Taylor’s performance in A Place in the Sun cemented her transition to adult roles. How could it not? Just watch:

Every time I watch A Place in the Sun, my jaw drops and I’m left devastated. It’s a heart-breaking, gut-wrenching, and everything I want from a movie of its caliber. Although it is a respected and much loved film, A Place in the Sun never gets the full recognition it deserves.

Then there is this clip of Taylor on “What’s My Line” that is making its way around the Internet.

I watch this clip and realize that what Vincent Canby once wrote about Taylor in the New York Times couldn’t be more true: “More than anyone else I can think of, Elizabeth Taylor represents the complete movie phenomenon — what movies are as an art and an industry and what they have meant to those of us who have grown up watching them in the dark.”

Elizabeth Taylor really was just one of the best actresses Hollywood ever gave us.

Elizabeth Taylor’s Best

I’ve been on a huge Elizabeth Taylor kick lately, mostly because she’s Turner Classic Movies Star of the Month for July.

I’ve always been a great admirer of her work so I’ve essentially been rewatching the movies I’ve already seen several times plus a few new ones (Butterfield 8; Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf).

I’m a firm believer that movies can be better the second time around and it doesn’t hurt when Elizabeth Taylor is there to make them great again.

My favorite Elizabeth Taylor movies are:

National Velvet (1944) – I first saw this when I was younger (8 or 9) and it has remained a favorite. Elizabeth Taylor plays Velvet Brown, a young girl who wins a horse in a lottery and trains him for the Grand National Steeplechase, with the help of Mi Taylor (Mickey Brown). This is no Dreamer; it’s much better.

A Place in the Sun (1951) – When she says “Seems like we’re always saying goodbye,” to Montgomery Clift at the end, I gasp and cry every time. By far one of the most romantic scenes (and a great tearjerker moment) to ever grace a movie screen.

Father of the Bride (1950) – And it’s sequel Father’s Little Dividend. This is more Spencer Tracy’s film , but Liz is great nonetheless.

Butterfield 8 (1960) – This movie won Elizabeth Taylor her first Oscar. She plays Gloria, a call girl with a painful past. When Gloria falls for a wealthy, philandering lawyer, her life changes direction. The final minutes are some of Elizabeth Taylor’s best screen moments.

Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf (1966) – 6 years later and another Oscar for the mantle. Based on the play by Edward Albee that shocked theater goers, the relationship between Martha and George makes them one of my favorite couples, despite how uncomfortable watching their marriage collapse is.

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958) – But my all-time favorite Elizabeth Taylor flick is without a doubt this Tennessee Williams play. Taylor plays southern belle Maggie who battles with her alcoholic husband (Paul Newman) and condescending in-laws. I love it when she coos to Paul Newman, “Lean on me, baby.”

Those are my picks. Of course, there are others I like (Giant, Suddenly, Last Summer), and I still need to see Raintree Country. And soon enough I will end up buying the Elizabeth Taylor: Signature Collection to add to my always growing DVD library.