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The movies selected for review are the choice of the reviewer. Suggestions for DVD titles are welcome. Enjoy the movies.
Watching "The Proposal" takes on an entirely different feel given the current events in the news. Well-known late night host David Letterman has been scrutinized, criticized and demonized for allegedly having consensual sexual trysts with several of his employees. Who knew this situation would be viewed as comic fodder for "The Proposal," a comedy filmed a year ago?
Margaret Tate (Sandra Bullock) is a high-powered publishing executive who is feared by subordinates even when she walks by their cubicles. Her administrative assistant (Ryan Reynolds) has managed a way to survive her tyranny, but just barely, and almost sacrifices his familial relationships to keep his job. Lucky (?) for him, a fluke in her status as a U.S. citizen puts her on the next plane to Canada unless ...
Without giving away too much of the scant plot, the couple flies to the Alaskan homestead paradise where Mom, Dad and Grandma (Mary Steenburgen, Craig T. Nelson and Betty White, respectively) are waiting with open arms to welcome the couple. The "news" of the wedding may be a shock, but timing is everything and the wedding planning begins.
Directed by Anne Fletcher, "The Proposal" moves along predictably. If only Bullock had employed some of the humor of Meryl Streep's character in "The Devil Wears Prada" or Glenn Close's dynamism in "Damages." As literary agent extraordinaire Bullock's Margaret Tate is as flat as old paper cutout dolls. Reynolds holds promise as he develops as an actor and Betty White is always fun.
A "proposal" should be answered with a resounding "Yes!" "The Proposal" is answered with "It'll do until something better comes along."
Cadillac Records [Rated: R]
Beyoncé Knowles added the role of producer to her multi-faceted resumé and even acted the role of Etta James in "Cadillac Records." Based loosely on the history of Chess Records and the Chicago music scene of the late 1940's,'50's and early '60's, the movie is filled with lots of recording sessions and backstreet drama.
Adrien Brody plays Leonard Chess, the streetwise entrepreneur with an ear for talent. His first signing is bluesman Muddy Waters and as the years pass and styles change he goes with the flow signing Chuck Berry to kick off the rock and roll era.
Chess always is ready with cash and cars; cash for DJs that readily accepted payola in the early days and cars - Cadillac cars - for his artists. Waters (Jeffrey Wright) goes willingly from the fields in the Deep South to the south side of Chicago, but hits lots of bumps and bruises along the way with the
women in his life and competition from newly signed artists.
"Cadillac Records" may or may not be an accurate depiction of those early days of the music biz, but the evolution of the Cadillac automobile, replete with infamous fins, is interesting to see and Beyoncé singing Etta James' hit "At Last" is exceptional.
Director Robert Mulligan had a way with child actors. He molded two unknowns into lasting theatrical memories as Jem and Scout in "To Kill a Mockingbird." He introduced Reese Witherspoon to the big screen in "The Man in the Moon." And Neil Patrick Harris, who has grown up on television in front of our eyes, first acted at age 15 in Mulligan's "Clara's Heart" with Whoopi Goldberg.
Goldberg is Clara, a Jamaican housekeeper and friend to young David whose parents are going through a divorce. She is wise and wonderful and more than a bit secretive about her past. David is a bright and intuitive young lad who, though unhappy with his lot in life, finds solace in Clara's kindness.
"Clara's Heart" is a touching story of loss (the movie opens with a funeral as David's baby sister has died in her crib), family unrest and adolescence - a lot for any young person to deal with.
Harris holds his own with the ever powerful Goldberg, but there are lots of loose ends in this overly long script. If you have the time (110 minutes) and want to remember the angst of puberty, "Clara's Heart" may just be the ticket.
Rebecca Redshaw can be reached at r2redshaw@