CHICAGO – “Drinking Buddies” director Joe Swanberg’s latest release of the same star wattage is “Happy Christmas,” an even lower-fi story than the Olivia Wilde beer comedy, steered even more by the casting that it was able to assemble. However, with this movie Swanberg doesn’t so much worry about having a story that could be confused with a more mainstream romantic comedy if it were to have a bigger budget.
NEW YORK CITY – There are legends, and then there is Joan Rivers. The comedian and show business survivor had a life journey as an influential star from the 1960s all the way to the end of her life. Joan Rivers died on September 4th, 2014, in New York City after suffering respiratory failure last weekend.
CHICAGO – I’m a huge Mel Brooks fan, one of those critics who bows at the altar of arguably the two best comedies of all time, “Blazing Saddles” & “Young Frankenstein.” I’ve seen them both a dozen times and can’t wait to watch them again.
CHICAGO – Watch out folks, the one percenters are fighting back. After the rabble of the 99 forced their way into Occupy Wall Street territory, the true rulers of America are pushing back in the only way they know how…by shopping. “Scatter My Ashes at Bergdorf’s” is a gloriously vain documentary about a legendary shopping experience in Manhattan. What, The Gap wasn’t available?
CHICAGO – Say or sing “I’m so glad we had this time together…” and persons of a certain generation will immediately respond, “…just to have a laugh or sing a song.” The theme to the “The Carol Burnett Show” is indelibly etched in show business memory, and Time Life Video is taking advantage of those days with the DVD release of “The Carol Burnett Show: Carol’s Favorites.”
CHICAGO – Any list of the most influential and important people in the history of television that doesn’t include Johnny Carson is simply incomplete. He was SUCH a force in the medium, coming into the homes of millions every night. That’s why so many luminaries came out to speak about the man in the excellent “American Masters” documentary “Johnny Carson: King of Late Night,” recently released on Blu-ray and DVD.
CHICAGO – There is arguably no icon on a higher pedestal in the history of television than Johnny Carson, the man who didn’t just host “The Tonight Show” for three decades but became a cultural fixture. We let Johnny into our homes and trusted him in ways that I believe just can’t happen again in a more cynical TV age. He was a nightly visitor for millions and the new PBS documentary about him, “American Masters Johnny Carson: King of Late Night,” is one of the best TV history documentaries yet produced.
CHICAGO – Anyone who considers Joan Rivers to be little more than a plasticized sight gag is advised to check out Ricki Stern and Annie Sundberg’s wonderful documentary, a sorely deserving (and unfairly snubbed) contender in this year’s Oscar race. The film invites viewers to look under Rivers’ immobile Botox mask and observe the angry, brilliant, brutally honest and fiercely insecure woman hiding beneath.
CHICAGO – One of the most revealing insights to be gleaned from “Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work” is the lifelong desire of its titular comedienne to be a serious actress. The sad irony is that Rivers has rendered her most vital acting tool (her face) utterly immobile, thus making her ineligible for any dramatic screen role, save for the Elephant Man.