Posts Tagged ‘Oprah’


Screen Shot 2015-05-22 at 4.43.51 PMRichard CP24 reviews for “Tomorrowland,” “Poltergeist” and “Welcome to Me.”

Watch the whole thing HERE!

WELCOME TO ME: 4 STARS. “a nervy showcase for Wiig.”

Screen Shot 2015-05-20 at 8.58.00 PMIs Kristen Wiig the most daring actress in Hollywood? After having been an all-star utility player on “Saturday Night Live” for 9 years and the massive success of “Bridesmaids” she could have written her own ticket. She could have reteamed with Melissa McCarthy to make the expected follow-up to “Bridesmaids,” or even played a Marvel superhero. She could have paired off with Will Ferrell and made big budget big screen comedies or elbowed Sandra Bullock out of the way and starred in “The Heat.”

Instead she has kept a low profile, making challenging, quirky films that mix mirth with melancholy and are unlikely to gross even “Bridesmaids’s” catering cost.

She returns as Alice Klieg in “Welcome to Me,” a dark comedy about a woman with Borderline Personality Disorder and a dream of being on television. Divorced, she lives in a small apartment, sleeping in a sleeping bag on top of the bed, in front of a television that hasn’t been turned off in eleven years.

She mouths along with Oprah reruns and dreams, one day, of sharing herself and her ideas with the world. Her dream becomes a possibility when she wins an $87 million lottery. Using the facilities of a failing TV infomercial studio run by Gabe (Wes Bentley) and Rich (James Marsden), she buys herself a show unlike anything that has ever been seen on TV. Titled “Welcome to Me,” it’s a puzzling glimpse into her life. “Today I woke up and there was a public hair on my pillow shaped like a question mark,” she says introducing a segment called Unanswered Questions. For a week straight she neuters dogs live on air. The show, which airs so high on the dial it’s just above the Alien Channel, becomes a mini sensation with people tuning in to see the unusual mix of tortured revelations and performance art. One student credits her with the invention of “the narrative infomercial.”

As the show gains in popularity Alice’s ego bloats but success doesn’t make her happy, and eventually she is stripped bare, both emotionally and physically.

Brave, dynamic work like this separates Wiig from the pack. In a high wire performance she balances playing someone dealing with severe mental health issues while earning laughs along the way. It’s tough to do, but in what is her best work yet she rides the line, never backing off the tough stuff but also frequently taking a sideways step toward the laughs.

Other characters aren’t given as much of a chance to shine–Jennifer Jason Leigh as the show’s designer is cut adrift but Joan Cusack makes the best of an underwritten role as the show’s director—but as Alice’s best friend Linda Cardinelli is equal parts warmth and frustration, and perfect in the role.

“Welcome to Me” is a nervy and showcase for Wiig.


lee-daniels-butler“You hear nothing. You see nothing. You only serve.”

Those are the words of advice given to former planation worker Cecil Gaines (Forest Whitaker), on his first day as a butler at the White House. For the next three decades he was a witness to history, serving eight presidents from Truman to Reagan, during the stormiest days of America’s history.

His job is to be invisible and leave ideology at home—“We have no tolerance for politics at the White House,” he’s told—but in his subsequent years of service he became a quietly potent force within the halls of power, touching the hearts of the Kennedy’s and fighting for wage equality for African-American workers in the nation’s Executive Mansion.

Very loosely based on the life of Eugene Allen, the movie is an intergenerational story of big moments from a time filled with big moments.

The overall timeline will be familiar to anyone who’s ever watched the History Channel, but “The Butler” recounts the turbulent times through one man’s deeply divided family, bringing the story home with simple, first person storytelling.

Gaines sees nothing and hears nothing at work, but his son Louis (David Oyelowo) is a socially engaged student, who first becomes involved with the Freedom Riders and later with the Black Panthers. Father and son don’t see eye-to-eye despite mother Gloria’s (Oprah Winfrey) best efforts to unite them.

At the center of “the Butler” are two remarkable performances that temper the film’s tendency to veer into melodrama.

Forest Whitaker is a dignified presence throughout in a quiet performance that allows the character’s inner life to shine through. It’s all about the details. The way he strokes the tie Jackie Kennedy gave him after JFK’s assassination. The pained looked in his eye as he kicks his son out of the White House. They are small moments that cut through the movie’s sweeping story, keeping the whole thing grounded.

As Louis English actor David Oyelowo plays every scene with intensity, but never goes over the edge. His Louis is a committed man, a thinker who deeply believes in the Civil Rights movement, but refuses to blindly accept dogma.

Much of the casting of the presidents—Robin Williams as President Dwight D. Eisenhower, James Marsden as President John F. Kennedy, Liev Schreiber as President Lyndon B. Johnson, John Cusack as President Richard Nixon and Alan Rickman as President Ronald Reagan—feels like stunt casting, but the story isn’t their to tell. Director Lee “Precious” Daniels wisely keeps the focus on Gaines and family to tell the tale.

“Lee Daniels’ The Butler” (the name was changed from “The Butler” when Warner Bros. sued, claiming they already owned the name) is a handsome movie, the kind that gets the attention of the Academy, which serves as a poignant reminder of the difficult and rocky road so many walked in the search of racial equality.


precious2There is nothing precious about the movie “Precious”. Nothing twee or frivolous. If the word “heartbreaking” hadn’t already existed in the English language it might have been invented to describe the story of Clareece “Precious” Jones an inner city NYC kid with big problems.

“Precious” is about the power of the educational system to help lift a person up from adversity but it is much more than just an inspirational teacher movie. It’s a movie about victims—one who transcends and one who doesn’t. “To Sir with Love” this isn’t.

Set in 1987 Harlem it follows the progress of “Precious” Jones, a pregnant, overweight and illiterate sixteen year old. She lives with her welfare mother Mary (Mo’Nique) in a rundown apartment where she lives a life of constant mental, physical and sexual abuse. “I’ll be OK,” says Precious. “I’m always looking up… looking for a piano to fall. There’s always something in my way.”

The only thing that keeps her on an even keel is her rich inner life, but even that is filled with self hate. When she looks in the mirror she imagines a skinny, pretty blonde girl staring back at her. Despite her big dreams she feels people regard her and her family as “black grease that needs to be wiped away.” The one bright spot in her life is Ms. Rain (Paula Patton) a supportive alternative school teacher. With her encouragement Precious may find a way out of her hellish situation.

“Precious” is one of the most grueling movie experiences of the year. It transports the viewer to an uncomfortably down-and-dirty world were pain and anguish are the price of admission. Hope, for Precious, is a dim light at the end of a very long tunnel but director Lee Daniels keeps the movie from being an exercise in viewer self flagellation with pitch perfect (and unexpected) casting and a sure narrative hand.

Cast wise the most surprising element to “Precious” is a career making performance from comedian Mo’Nique in a decidedly non-comedic role. Best known for parts in low budget comedies like Soul Plane and Beerfest she shows a dramatic side here as Mary, a vicious mother and welfare scammer.

Who would have imagined her (potentially) Oscar worthy scene would be opposite Mariah Carey? Carey’s work as a tough-as-nails social worker should erase all the ill will her “performance” in “Glitter” earned, and who knows, maybe she’ll be able to add an acting prize to her Grammy shelf come awards time.

At the center of it all is first timer Gabourey “Gabby” Sidibe in the title role. She pulls off a difficult portrayal, making it believable; giving Precious the dignity she needs to survive and shows some real backbone in a character who could easily have been a cliché.

“Precious” is filled with disturbing imagery—incest and abuse—although when the going gets tough, mercifully, the screen often fades to black, but not always, and that is one of the strengths of the film. It doesn’t back away from the real life horror of Precious’s life. It’s bleak yes, but compelling.