Wednesday, June 22, 2022


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Elvis earned a fifteen-minute standing ovation at Cannes Film Festival.   Directed by Baz Luhrman, Elvis (Austin Butler) is about the murder of The King of Rock n’Roll’s spirit and soul by his manager Colonel Tom Parker (Tom Hanks) an addict.  Parker’s addiction to gambling fueled by his debts resulted in his hooking Elvis Presley to pills.  Parker needed Elvis to perform a grueling five-year contract in Las Vegas to pay for his debts. Elvis was physically destroyed by this cruel schedule due to Parker’s greed.   This tortuous performance schedule ended in Elvis’s death due to his addiction to pills that he felt he needed to take to perform resulting in an overdose. He died at age 42.
When Presley’s mother (HelenThomson) died of alcoholism, his father asked Colonel Tom Parker to step into the role of comforting guidance that Elvis’s mother filled.  In turn, Elvis’s manager Colonel Parker, who was not a colonel, not even a Parker, his name and identity had been manufactured, appointed Elvis’s father (Rufus Sewell) as the financial manager of Elvis’s career.  Parker had been a carnival barker. Manipulation was his true vocation.  He used to paint sparrows yellow and sell them as canaries and sell dancing chickens after he had forced them to dance on a hot plate.
 Parker as Elvis’s manager took 50% of his earnings and hooked Elvis so that Elvis came under his total control.  Elvis’s entourage called Parker the “Snowman”.  Elvis knew Parker was manipulating him, but he could not break away from him, though he repeatedly tried.
Each attempt Elvis made to free himself from the shackles of Tom Parker, Parker would come up with a new money-making scheme, but Parker always presented this new scheme as though it was in Elvis’s best interests.
For me, the movie Elvis begins when Elvis first sings. All of the audience was waiting on the edge of their seats for this moment and it was paydirt.   “You ain’t nothing but a Hound  Dog,”  Austin Butler belted as the audience cheered.
Austin Butler sang all of Elvis’s songs though, towards the end, Butler’s and Presley’s voices were blended.  Austin Butler will be a star because of his performance in Elvis.   From unknown to superstar.
Addiction aside, one of the main plot lines is the influence  black music of the fifties, especially Little Richard, had on Elvis. This was the height of racism. Elvis adopted the gyrations and pelvic moves from the blacks whom he worshiped. When Martin Luther King died, he was devastated, but rocked on. Colonel Parker wanted Elvis to stop his sexual physical moves as the police and political hierarchy wanted to jail Elvis if he continued to be so sexual.  Women took off their panties and threw them on stage.   A defiant Elvis would put these panties on his head and sing on while the police scowled.   
A young Elvis is shown singing gospel in black churches and being baptized.  His love of blacks helped heal racism in America that was ugly.  
I remember going to all-black gatherings outside of Atlantic City in the early 5o’s just to hear the Negroes sing.  These gatherings were near the swamplands of Ocean City, New Jersey.
Don’t miss this film. While addiction is the drum beat throughout the film, the singing, the editing, the acting, the make-up, the dialogue, and the split-screen images all make for a standing ovation.  Hanks's acting improves as does this movie’s spirit as it sprints along while the plot thickens and racism stirs the pot and almost kills Elvis as much as addiction.  See it. Enjoy. And listen a la Dolby sound to great music filling your ears while a top-rate cast and script burn into your hearts.

Friday, May 22, 2020

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

Well, I finally saw Once Upon a Time in Hollywood and thought it was a mess.
Glad they did not show Sharon Tate’s murder. The period look was off in beginning. Terrible I was there and know. He handled the Mansion family well, but the beginning was slow, choppy, scotch-taped together. Brad Pitt made it and Leonardo was a close second. But the portrayal of the Manson family was riveting.. Your scene should have been longer to have meaning. The good news was you were not there that night. And LIVED.
I thought Tarantino portrayed Sharon unkindly and like a bimbo. Was she really that dumb and self-involved? And Roman was dismissed and treated disparagingly. I had the privilege of knowing him and he has great charm and a very rich character who was abused by a faulty justice system.If I were Roman I would have blocked film. Public figure rights make it hard. Tell me Sharon was not that empty-headed and star struck. Al Pacino was excellent as usual in a small part as was Bruce Dern. It’s obvious Tarantino used his weight to get celebrities though he had an inferior production company and script. Editing was asleep at the wheel. Scenes went on so long that once they made their points it was as though a sledgehammer was the editor. This definitely was not Oscar material except for PItt. Booo to Tarantino.


Review:  Rocketman.
Heart, Elton John has heart. Always had it but didn't know it which is theme of Rocketman. Slow beginning. A set up to a brilliant journey of self-awareness. An old fashioned musical clothed in a tribute to the rock n roll legend. Oh my, what trip. I almost tuned out in beginning but so glad I stayed with it. The music is perfectly injected to tell Elton's story in lyrics written oddly enough by Bernie Taupin but the rhythm is pure Elton John. 1975 he began his drug and alcohol-fueled life and today is sober 28 years A miracle. His body and mind had had enough of bad values and hedonistic living. The lacing of the lyrics tells of Elton's pain and triumphs. His parents are minefields of abuse and handled with care by the screenwriter but it is clear that Elton was never given love by either one. Only a grandmother. And she did matter.
Elton got sober in 1990, I became sober in 1980. I remember when he entered the program and watched his growth with joy. I had dated rock n roll stars in my alcoholic bottom and like Elton had had enough meaningless sex. The kind devoid of love. His transforming is filled with a serenity one would never think a rock n roll star would value. Don't miss this one And do not walk out on a boring beginning. It's only a set up to a life led with pain, pathos, and understanding of the meaning of forgiveness.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

The Nutcracker at Philadelphia’s Academy of Music Meets Baryshnikov

01/06/2017 06:08 pm ET

Innocence, young love, pastels of youth, the magic of Nutcracker Suite under the artistic direction of Angel Corrella at the Philadelphia Academy of Music is masterful. The last time I had seen the Nutcracker was in the late nineties at New York City Ballet as a guest of Mikhail Baryshnikov who had performed to a standing ovation. Misha became a friend when I had the privilege of interviewing him for Parade.
Boy, I wanted to see what the Pennsylvania Ballet would do with Balanchine’s choreography of the Nutcracker and the lyrical music of Tchaikovsky’s and recall those days I would frequent the New York City Ballet. Once I was following Misha around when he was about to go on. “You are not allowed on stage, Carole,’ he said as he smiled his pixie grin and danced off to please an eagerly awaiting audience.
But today I was going to see Pennsylvania Ballet founder and Balanchine protégé Barbara Weisberger’s production of the Nutcracker with good friends, Diane and Tom Reed and my sister, Elmira Batson who had studied ballet as a child, Tom and Diane who own Tom’s Pet Outlet had sold me the love of my life, Herbert, my five lb. Maltese.. We were all excited and exchanged stories about when we had last seen this romantic vision where the balletomanes dance trippingly on their toes with children under their wings, in dresses, lying in beds, flying off over a crescent moon at the end and waving goodbye to an awestruck audience.
But would the tree rise from the floor suddenly in the middle of Act One as it had in New York some eighteen years earlier. Or was that just a big city bit. Would it rise and rise and dwarf the sleeping princess and all her friends. Would it? Probably not, I thought.
This was Philadelphia and while I had read excellent reviews, I needed to see if this tree would rise. The opening sparkled as the party the night before the dream was about to happen.
Teary-eyed,I listened to the overture and to the Philadelphia Boys Choir as I recalled my 95 -year -old mother by my side, wheel chair bound, and how cultured she was. Of German descent she taught me to value the arts. Piano lessons, classical music and while she had been a Pennsylvania Deutsch farmer, her appreciation of the fine arts was reminiscent of high German culture.
Misha was always kind to my mother, “How do you do, Mrs. Wagner,” he would say as he shook her hand and feigned a mock but polite curtsy. Misha adored his mother who had committed suicide. Mothers meant a great deal to him
But this was the past and the magic of the Nutcracker is how it evokes fond memories as everyone wonders, “When was the first time I saw the Nutcracker.
But would the tree rise? I still pondered.
The opening party in which Marie and her Prince share their magical gifts and then are transported into battles between soldiers and mice to a glistening snow covered forest and land of sweets was so delicate and empowering. Oh my, then the princess falls asleep and wakes up and as the tree does. And the tree rises. Yes it grows. Just like it had in New York, but better! Better because the lights on the tree had movement which gave depth to the tree. Dimension. A rhythmic quality. And it went up and up and the lights twinkled and went from blue to red to yellow back to blue and all in time with the music and it was, oh, so magical. I was thrilled to see the originality of the Pennsylvania Ballets sets and this vision of the stunning Nutcracker.
As to Tchaikovsky’s opinion of the Nutcracker, he was less satisfied with it than with Sleeping Beauty and was hesitant to write it. But eventually he wrote to a friend that he was becoming daily more attuned to his task. Written in 1892, it was not until 100 years later that the complete ballet achieved great popularity. And grateful fans witnessed in February 2016, the Pentatonix winning a Grammy for an acappella arrangement of “Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy.” And so Tchaikovsky lives on winning awards in our popular culture.
Outstanding performances were Amy Aldridge as the Sugarplum Fairy and her Cavalier, Ian Hussey. But it is the professionalism and joy of the many children that tears at your heart as performed by Claire Smith as the Little Princess and Aidan Duffy as the Little Prince.
While seeing the Nutcracker Suite recalls the innocence and naiveté of youth and all its charming trappings, storm clouds often loom on the horizon with age, but a visit to the Academy of Music and its fine production of Tchaikovsky’s score and Balanchine’s images performed through December 31, puts all that sadness to rest and replaces it with fond, joyful memories for celebration of a traditional Christmas Season with one’s remaining family and friends.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Wednesday, July 27, 2016



Heather Mac Rae Electrifies In Hair Revival at Feinstein’s 54 Below

07/27/2016 04:18 pm ET | Updated 5 hours ago
In the seventies the basement of Studio 54 was a rundown cavernous hiding place where I did coke with one of its owners. On a separate occasion in the above disco my hair caught fire while in the throes of being chic with the rich and famous.
Today this run down cavernous hiding place of yore has been converted to a glamorous Broadway Supper Club at 254 W. 54 called Feinstein’s 54 Below which BTW has delicious food. It was a shock to see this disco through sober eyes In 1980 I got the message.
2016-07-26-1469562975-104265-IMG_0574.JPG On July 24 along with friends I had the privilege of hearing 54 Sings Hair featuring Natalie Mosco, Marjorie Lipari, Dale Soules who is so magnificent in Orange is the New Black, Allan Nichols who wrote and starred in Robert Altman’s great films— the Wedding, A Perfect Couple, Nashville-- and Heather Mac Rae. And when Heather Mac Rae sang Sheila’s song Easy to Be Hard, during the second show the audience hooted and hollered and gave her a standing ovation for five minutes applauding “the voice.” Heather has her father’s voice. He was the musical superstar Gordon- OKLAHOMA! - Mac Rae.
2016-07-26-1469564183-6804146-HairPeformanceOriginalCast196854BelowbyBettinaCirone26.JPG Photo by: Bettina Cirone
Tears came to my eyes to see and to hear my dear friend sing a song that was catapulted to fame in 1968. Heather says, “I think the music of Hair is amazing and people never tire of listening to it. I never get tired of singing Easy to be Hard. It just gets better with age. Like us.”
James Rado, who wrote Hair with Jerome Ragni and who is pictured below, stood and applauded along with the audience. Rado, as you would expect, was down to earth and charming beyond belief and happy to see his creation revived. In the original Hair Diane Keaton was the understudy to Lynn Kellogg and Heather replaced Keaton.
The show, was sold out for two performances. Scott Coulter, a cabaret and concert artist, asked Heather, “Do you think you could get some of the original cast members to perform at Feinstein’s 54 Below“ And voila! Heather helped to round up the cast for the hour and a half show filled with the top tunes from Hair and some original cast members.
2016-07-26-1469564090-5483984-IMG_0628.JPG I drove from Philadelphia to New York just for this event. My good friend, Diane Reed was my companion. She owns Tom’s Pet Shop and sold me the love of my life, Herbert, a five lb. Maltese. We met celebrity attorney Robert Hantman, Esq, who has been honored by the Navy Seals.
The evening ended too soon as Robert walked Diane and me to my red VW EOS convertible where we put the top down and drove back to Philadelphia under the stars when I learned on Sirius’s Hits that Mike Posner’s I took a pill in Ibiza made it to number one on the charts which pleased me but not as much as the thought of greeting Herbert and his paws which I longed to embrace.

Friday, July 17, 2015


Carole Mallory Headshot

Movie Review: Ant Man... CGI Reigns, But Not Much Else

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Paul Rudd is charming as the Ant Man. He is not too broad which he has a tendency to be, but plays it just right. He is Scott Lang a master thief who has lost custody of his daughter due to his attraction to all things criminal while Michael Douglas plays the not so mad scientist, Dr. Hank Pym, who rescues Rudd from his wayward ways by turning him into the Ant Man. Marvel Studios' brings a founding member of the Avengers to IMAX 3D and the flying ants have never looked so good. Dr Pym who created the Avengers, guards the secret behind the Ant Man suit from Darren Cross (Corey Stoll) Mr. Evil, who is intent on destruction of most of the universe. Hope played by the perfectly beautiful Evangeline Lilly is effective as Dr. Pym's daughter who initially is ambivalent about Rudd's ability to don the spectacular ant suit invented by her father. This inventive suit of great retro design reduces ones size yet increases ones strength. But it is Rudd's final heist that must go smoothly to save the world.
Michael Douglas explained on a recent talk show that there were four set ups for each shot and the fourth was shooting from the perspective of the ant. He found working in the environment of CGI fascinating and went on to explain that while Marvel has gone big big big, it was time to go small as this was the only way left to go.
Michael Pena as one of Rudd's partners in crime plays a bumbling burglar with panache. Pena does not miss a beat with his lines and expressions. The dialogue written by Stan Lee, Paul Rudd, Joe Cornish, Edgar Wright, Adam Mackay is snappy but could have been a bit wittier. Buzz words with an over the top hipness were few. But who's kidding, the CGI made Ant Man. Douglas himself was in awe of the special effects team with whom he worked. But stunning special effects can not resolve the problems in this Marvel wonder. Peyton Reed directed at a fast pace and predictability was kept at a minimum but overall, the story lulled in parts and ultimately was a snore. Yawning was kept at a minimum, but the excitement that a Marvel creation normally creates was sadly missing. .

Wednesday, July 15, 2015


Magic Mike XXL... Movie Review.... Still Perspiring

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Hot, hot, hot! Stuff a $100 bill in the crotch of the producers of Magic Mike XXL and Steve Soderbergh, the behind the scenes maestro, for making sex on the screen something you can not write home about. My, this is a long time coming. Far superior to Magic Mike One. Great writing and pacing. Magic Mike XXL builds sexual heat like a great strip tease. Funny dialogue which just makes you want to shout, "Take It Off!" The dancing is over the top, but I longed for more of the gyrations from those 'male entertainers,' Magic Mike (Channing Tatum) and Joe Manganiello. Watching these gyrating specimens of male pulchritude made my night and day and then some.
The women were no dogs either as Jada Pinkett Smith and Andie MacDowell held their own against fierce flesh. I remember when MacDowell's voice was dubbed in Tarzan because the producers claimed she could not act. Well, she can act and held up the image of all those women who long for sex who do not care about public opinion. MacDowell nailed these feelings. Bless the writer Reid Carolin for showing the heat of frustrated women longing for firm male flesh. The sleeper 'male entertainer' was Michael Strahan who began the procession of sultry passionate stripping and was refreshingly devoid of his smaltzy TV personality. He was genuine in his display to please a woman and totally blushworthy-- the Rhett Butler of the brothel of sorts run by Jada Pinkett Smith. Well, it's really a dance hall for African American women who have been neglected by their males and need to be told they are beautiful, sexy, loving and also specimens of proud flesh too often beaten down by their guys.
Gregory Jacobs directs Magic Mike XXL knowing his audience waits with baited breath and torn pantyhose for the moment when they "Take It Off!" He cleverly builds the crescendo and heat so that it finally explodes in the finale mc'd by that terrific comedian Elizabeth Banks who is the mistress of ceremony when they all finally strip. Another sleeper is Matt Bomer who is also great with comedy and delivers some of the best lines with a straight face, yet when he dances, he shows no humor, but is pure sex appeal. Magic Mike XXL works because the comedy is placed in the right moments and when it is time to "Take It Off!", the comedy is dropped and sheer passion oozes from the screen. Seconds? Count me in!

Thursday, June 25, 2015


Carole Mallory Headshot

Movie Review: Inside Out...Convoluted

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After repressing several urges to walk out during the screening of Inside Out, I stayed until the conclusion. Alas, this is an overrated film directed by Pete Docter and Ronnie del Carmen that is confusing. It is also childish and, yet, too complex for children. For adults, it is a drag. Yes, it is a clever thought, but it is not executed with a matching expertise. We all know we have a range of emotions and they are at war each other daily. But the animation of these emotions is subpar for Pixar. Up created by Pixar had a spectacular story line and the animation of the characters was stellar. The animation of the parents of Inside Out's Riley, our star, is up to snuff, but the emotions of Joy, (Amy Poehler) Fear (Bill Hader), Anger (Lewis Black), Disgust (Mindy Kaling), Sadness (Phyllis Smith) are not clever to look at. They are not up to Pixar's ability to create inventive animated characters.
The story line is that these emotions live in Headquarters, the control center inside Riley's mind. The play on words as in "head" "quarters" is as silly as is this film. Throughout the day these emotions speak to Riley and interact. Riley is at a crisis in her young life as her father has uprooted her from her Midwest life to live in San Francisco where he has a new job. As Riley struggles to adjust to her new life, chaos ensues in Headquarters. Alas chaos ensues in the plot which becomes chaotic without much reason. Chaos is not plot as my former mentor Norman Mailer would preach, but Pixar seems to have created a movie that should be called Chaos, instead of Inside Out. Oh, it is charming how Riley faces the new activities at school, the trials of moving into a home before the furniture arrives, and trying to fit in with her new classmates. But the story line was not enough for me. And as I struggled inside my being with should I or shouldn't I leave the theatre, I identified with the turmoil Riley was experiencing in her head, her headquarters. And while Sadness ends up being the emotional star of this movie, I did experience this emotion because I stayed until the end of this film and sadly left the theatre.