And the Oscar Goes To… Not a Clue

Currently browsing the "Audra McDonald" tag.

Review: RESPECT

You gotta respect the artist and the music, even if the movie itself feels a bit stale. Jennifer Hudson sings it out of the park as the legendary ‘Queen of Soul’ Aretha Franklin in the biopic RESPECT, which surely would have pleased Franklin who handpicked Hudson for the role. Yet the script does not compel Hudson to showcase the emotional range that earned her a Best Supporting Actress Academy Award for Dreamgirls in 2007. RESPECT is at its best when the music is playing, and when we see how “Re-Re” (as Aretha was known) can take a song, rearrange it, and make it her own. The film is at its worst when skimming through all the obstacles she had to overcome along the way, including physical, sexual and verbal abuse, the sudden death of her mother, a childhood pregnancy, a controlling father, a jealous hothead husband, alcoholism. However true, it’s presented as a mass of cliches familiar to a slew of biopics and documentaries, including recent explorations of the hard knocks endured by Tina Turner and Billie Holiday, and the role of faith and music in their respective journeys. 

Beauty and the Beast

Beauty and the Beast represented near-perfection for an animated musical when it competed for Best Picture honors in 1991. So it’s hard to imagine that any reimagining of the “tale as old as time” could possibly hold a candle – or a lumiere – to that instant classic. But Disney’s live-action Beauty and the Beast does what it set out to do, and that’s bring a strong cast, a contemporary vibe, and a few new songs to audiences old and new. And while it’s not perfect, it is quite enchanting.

Ricki and the Flash

I had to see this flick, cause you know — Meryl. And there was also Dr. Noah Drake, I mean Rick Springfield of “Jessie’s Girl” fame. How bad could it be? The good news is that it isn’t as bad as I’d heard. But it really isn’t what it could have been. Meryl plays the title character Ricki Rendazzo, formerly Linda Brummel of Indianapolis, now a long-in-the-tooth rock and roll singer with her own band called The Flash playing nightly at a locals bar in Tarzana, California. By day she is a cashier at a health food supermarket, and she can barely make ends meet, but she is content with her life. Then she gets a call from her ex. Her daughter is in trouble and she needs to come back to help. She hasn’t been there for her kids in years, so what could go wrong?