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Weekly Mishmash: July 6-12

Last Orders (2001). A recommendation from our dental hygienist. Michael Caine heads up a sturdy cast of old pros as a simple butcher who wants his ashes strewn at a favorite seaside resort after he dies. It’s up to his old buddies (Bob Hoskins, Tom Courtenay, David Hemmings), his son (Ray Winstone), and his wife (Helen Mirren) to carry out his wishes as they reflect bitterly over memories of the last fifty or so years. Great cast, nice concept, iffy execution. Confusing shifts in time and inscrutable British accents contribute to a film that’s not nearly as compelling as it could have been. On the upside, I did enjoy some of the flashback scenes with younger unknown actors playing the principals — and the gloomy score was pretty good.
No Time for Comedy (1940). Another Rosalind Russell vehicle finds her playing an actress married to playwright James Stewart, in their first and only teaming. I had high hopes for this one, but it was incredibly dull and Stewart’s character is a complete ass who never redeems himself at the end. The film was based on a stage hit, and one can detect glimpses of sophisticated humor in a few spots, but the end result is so turgid and heavy where it desperately needed a light touch. In exploring the plight of a comedic artist trying to make a serious statement about a world in peril, Sullivan’s Travels trod the same path with much better results.
Diana Ross - Everything Is EverythingDiana Ross — Everything Is Everything Expanded Edition. Yeah, hot and sizzling new CDs come out every week, but I was most excited about getting this reissued version of Diana’s second album from 1970 — got a problem with that? This funky little detour for the ex-Supreme is best known for “I’m Still Waiting,” a single which barely made a ripple in the U.S. but managed to become one of her biggest and most enduring hits in the U.K. Maybe American audiences weren’t used to hearing Miss “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” sounding like a vulnerable little girl, but it’s a beautiful song and Ross plays it to the hilt like the bravura actress she’d briefly become. The rest of the album is a glossy treat, albeit one padded with blah Beatles covers and the like. Seven bonus tracks include an odd and delightful 1990 remix of “I’m Still Waiting” which lays on the phat dance beats, a la Suzanne Vega’s “Tom’s Diner” from the same year.
Stormy Weather (1943). Never saw this pioneering all black musical until now. It’s a slight movie with a nothing plot somewhat redeemed by numbers performed with pizazz by an energetic cast (except for Lena Horne, who seems surprisingly dull here). My favorite parts were Horne’s performance of the title number, presented in imaginative multi-part fashion, and the Nicholas Brothers’ gravity defying tap dance. Personally I prefer Cabin in the Sky, but this one’s worth watching as well.

2 Thoughts on “Weekly Mishmash: July 6-12

  1. Wow… my interest in Miss Ross has just peaked again because I discovered a disco-era song of hers that I had never heard before called “Lovin’, Livin’, and Givin'”. Just when I thought I had heard “I’m Coming Out” and “Upside Down” for the trillionth time… it’s nice to know there are still overlooked songs by her that I’ve yet to unearth. That “Everything is Everything” album cover is amazing! I might have to pick up a copy.

  2. “Lovin'” is a good one. Have you heard the disco-era remix of various Supremes hits? It’s on the deluxe reissue of her diana (1981) LP. Sooo campy, but fun.

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