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From Bela Lugosi to Tina Fey

Blogger friend Birgit of BB Creations is a movie maven. (I don't know anyone else who has seen Start the Revolution Without Me.) Several days ago, she did a post around the concept of six degrees of separation. Within five moves, she connected Strangers on a Train to Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure in five moves.  Check out the post yourself.

After reading Birgit's post, I wondered if you could connect any two actors within six moves.  Bela Lugosi and Tina Fey, for instance.  Birgit made the connection, but she's giving me a chance to make my connection before unveiling hers. If she hadn't, I probably wouldn't.  Researching the question was fun and didn't take as long as I thought it would. 

So, here you go: How Bela Lugosi and Tina Fey are connected.

1. Bela Lugosi and Greta Garbo co-starred in Ninotchka.

2.  Greta Garbo was in Grand Hotel with Joan Crawford.

3. Joan Crawford starred in "Eyes", an episode on Night Gallery, which was directed by…

My Top 10 Movie Characters, Part 2

Last Tuesday, I wrote about the first five of my 10 favorite movie characters. Today, I give you the second half of my list. I presented my top characters in ABC order by their first names. If you missed the first half of the list, here's the link. Thanks, again, to Birgit of BB Creations for the suggestion. That woman loves her movies.

Lucy Kelson in Two Weeks Notice (2002)
Lucy (Sandra Bullock) is an activist and public-interest attorney who has agreed to work for corporate I-only-care-about-a-good-time George (Hugh Grant) in exchange for the company not demolishing the community center in her parents' neighborhood in New York. Nearly right away, Lucy is at George's beck and call to help him decide on such personal things as the color of his tie. Why doesn't the hardworking, competent Lucy draw the line between George's legal and personal needs? Simple. She cares too much for George, but she doesn't want to admit it.

This is one of my favorite girl meets bo…

My Top 10 Movie Characters

Birgit of BB Creations wrote a list of her 10 favorite film/TV characters and invited other bloggers to come up with their own list. Two things I like to do—making lists and watching movies.  It took me awhile, but I finally came up with 10 of my favorite movie characters. I didn't want to try ranking them, so I present them to you alphabetically. And, because I ramble, I give you my first fave five today. I'll post the second five this coming Saturday.

Bruce Garrett in Cuban Fury (2014)
Bruce Garrett (played by Nick Frost) is a teddy-bear English guy in his 40s who wants to win the heart of the new woman (Rashida Jones) in his office. Until she entered the scene, he had been going through the motions of living ever since he stopped dancing in salsa competitions as a young teen. When Bruce learns that she loves to salsa, he finds a reason to salsa again. That's the premise of this British romantic comedy movie.

Frost took salsa lessons everyday for several weeks before sh…

A Tuesday Ramble

In 1969  I saw a movie called If It's Tuesday, This Must be Belgium starring Suzanne Pleshette, who was a bus tour guide in Europe. I recall only two things about the movie. Pleshette's character fell in love with someone to whom she had an immediate disliking (of course) and one of the older American tourists took toilet fixtures from the hotels where they stayed as his souvenirs. I also remember wanting to become a tour guide after seeing the movie.

So, what got me thinking about that movie? Well, it's Tuesday. I'm not in Belgium, but the Husband and I are about to drive over to Freedom (yes, there's such a town in California) to purchase cat food for Molly the Cat. What we will do for that cat.

Big, BIG Waves
Have you ever dreamed of ocean waves higher than the tallest buildings in your town coming towards you? I had one of those dreams a couple nights ago. The waves came in two or three times. Each time, I was able to find shelter and hang on.  One of these day…

Salsa!

A few months ago, the Husband and I resubscribed to Netflix  which means were back to seeing movies and chomping on popcorn in the afternoons. So, now and then, I'll talk about a movie that I want to share with you, dear readers.

My first share is a comedy and love story called Cuban Fury. It's a British film starring Nick Frost, Rashida Jones, and Chris O'Dowd. You may not recognize their names, but I'm sure you know them when you see them on screen.

Bruce, played by Frost, was a child salsa prodigy. With his sister as his dancing partner, he won contest after contest. Then, on his way to a dance competition wearing sparkly clothes, a bunch of insane jealous boys from his school called Bruce names and beat him up. That was the end of dancing for Bruce.

Twenty-some years later, fat and out of shape, unhappy and lonely, Bruce meets the woman of his dreams (Rashida Jones) who loves to salsa. Yup, you got it. Bruce wants to get back into the salsa groove. But, can he? An…

Seeing "Hyde Park on Hudson"

Our local movie house offers a Wednesday series of independent films. They are the type of movies that if you live in a small city out in the boondocks you have to schlep over the hills or up the far-away freeway to a large nearby city. Yesterday was the first time the Husband and I took advantage of the series. Unfortunately, it was the theater's last offering. Who knows if, and when, it will offer another series.

The movie was Hyde Park on Hudson, which was about the relationship between President Franklin D. Roosevelt and Daisy Suckley, a distant cousin. It was a good-size audience for the late afternoon screening—about 24 and 30—especially when you consider where we live.  We were all  uhem in the grey-haired age group. The Husband and I were probably among the youngest there. I whispered my observation to the Husband.
 "I still think of myself as being in my 20s," he said.
"I do, too. But, we're not."
"I thought we were middle-age."
"We&…

Thinking Back: Shirley Temple

I grew up watching Shirley Temple movies on TV. The story lines were simple and basic. Little Shirley usually portrayed a child who lived with a loving father, grandfather, or another relative, or a waif who lived in an orphanage. She often played matchmaker to a wealthy man, woman, or couple who eventually adopted her. And, in most, if not all, of her movies Temple sang and tap danced her heart out. Perfect fare for a Sunday morning.

I was probably a teenager when I learned that Shirley made her movies in the 1930s, during the middle of the Great Depression. Much later, I learned that the movies were very popular and brought hope and cheer to many people. I wonder if they still would.

To learn more about the actress and person, who became a U.S. ambassador in her later years, check out these links:
Shirley Temple, Wikipedia The Official Shirley Temple Web siteShirley Temple Fans Stowaway is a movie that Shirley did in 1936 when she was 8 years old. She played an orphan in China called…

When a Writer Isn't Working

Here's what this week looked like for a professional writer who hasn't been doing much writing lately. Be forewarned: You may fall asleep. That's okay. I may already have.

Sunday
The husband and I bought a Dyson vacuum cleaner. Although several friends had recommended it, I did not put it on our list of choices because of the cost.  At the store, we got curious and looked at it. Then all of a sudden Jesus appeared. "Can I help you?" he asked politely. (Really, the sales guy's name was Jesus. Not Hay-soos, but Gee-sus.)

Very long story short, with Jesus' confidence about the machine and the store's return policy, we decided to invest in the machine.

Monday
I vacuumed part of the house. Result: Three containers full of dust.

The mama made a mistake on her absentee ballot, so I took her down to the courthouse for a replacement. As we headed up the stairs, she said, "I feel so ashamed for making a mistake." In all her 50 years of voting, this was he…

The Other Guys

For our last 23rd date, the husband and I decided to go see a movie.  For once, our local theater was showing several that we wanted to see: Inception, Deception, Nanny McPhee Returns, and The Other Guys. Ah, choices. We decided to go with something light, silly, and fun. So, off we went to see the The Other Guys.  All we knew was that it was a farce about cop movies. But we were assured (well maybe the husband was more than me) that anything with Will Ferrell ought to be decently hilarious. We weren't wrong. There were several scenes that had us laughing out loud and long. I ask you, have you ever seen a movie with cops driving a red Prius in a car chase?

Ferrell and Wahlberg play two NYPD detectives, who mostly do paperwork. Ferrell's character, Allen Gamble, is happy about it, while Wahlberg's character, Terry Hoitz is furiously not. They are made fun of by the other detectives for not having done any heavy-shooting, car chasing detective work. Terry wants to know why …

The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus

I had no idea what this movie was about. I didn't know it was directed by Terry Gilliam. Nor did I know this was the last movie in which the late great Heath Ledger acted and Johnny Depp, Jude Law, and Colin Farrell stepped in to play his role after he died.  Netflix categorized the film as fantasy/science fiction, so I  stuck it in the queue for the husband. I'm glad I did.

The movie is stunning. I can't think of any other word for it. The story, the acting, the direction, the scenery, the camera work, everything about it is incredible. The storyline is simple, yet intricate: Dr. Parnassus makes a deal with the devil for immortality. Flash forward a thousand or so years, the man falls in love. He makes another deal with the devil so that the woman will fall in love with him. The catch: Should Dr. Parnassus have a child, the child becomes the devil's when she turns 16. Just before her birthday, Dr. Parnassus tries to make deals with the devil to change his mind. How Gi…

Summertime

What do I like about this movie? Let me count the ways.

Summertime starred Katharine Hepburn. She played Jane, a middle-aged single lady from the United States. Shy and lonely, Jane decided to take a risk and vacation alone in Venice. She fell in love with Venice, as did I, when I saw this movie for the first time.

David Lean, the director of Summertime, seduces me each time with his slow panning of squares and canals, as well as lingering shots of statues and buildings. When I finally saw Venice in person, it was exactly as the director portrayed it. Sigh. I also like how Lean captured the nuances of rapture, seduction, love, fear, joy, and all the range of emotions of the main and minor characters.

What else do I like about Summertime? That Jane let herself go and fell in love with Renato, a local man, who is played by Rossano Brazzi. The scene in which Renato checked out Jane for the first time is so sexy. When I first saw the movie, as a teenager, I didn't get the attraction Ja…

Departures

Departures is a film directed by Yojiro Takita. It is a simple, but elegant, story that won the 2009 Oscar for best foreign language film. Be forewarned. There are no scenes of violence, crashes, bombs, car chases, or graphic sex, but there are scenes of death. Essentially, the movie is about people and their humanity.

The main character is Daigo Kobayashi. He is a cellist. When his orchestra is dissolved, he decides that he is not talented enough to continue his career as a professional musician. Because they cannot afford to live in Tokyo, he tells his wife Mika that they will move back to his hometown.  Mika supports Daigo wholeheartedly, but she is upset to learn that he had recently bought a high-priced cello without first talking with her.

Finding work is difficult for Daigo because he has no skills besides playing his cello. He reads a newspaper ad for an agent who assists with departures. No experience necessary. Daigo thinks that it may be a job with a travel agency so he appl…

Three Uplifting Movies I Like

The Academy Awards was on tonight. The only thing I wanted to see was the opening bit with the hosts Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin. But I missed it, so I didn't watch the show. Anyway, out of the 10 movies that were up for an Oscar, the husband and I saw one. Up. That's the animated movie about an old man and a Boy Scout who were swept away to South America in the old man's house that was tied to 100s of helium balloons. It was a wonderful heartwarming story told with humor and honesty. Just the kind of story I like to watch.

Up makes my list of favorite movies that are about people who rise out of their depressions, indignities, or other darknesses currently in their lives. Here are three other movies at the top of my list.

Danny Deckchair is a tale of another man who flies far away by helium balloons, but his balloons are attached to his deck chair. The story is set in Australia. Danny is unhappy. He and his girlfriend don't see eye-to-eye about life. Danny has…