December 30th, 2006

Cinema Dave  Swashbuckling ournalist and

RIP Gerald Ford

When one thinks of Gerald Ford, one must think of the power of understatement. He was not a showman and he may have lost the Presidency in 1976 because of it. History has been kind to the 38th President and his legacy of positive actions may eclipse the negative actions of the 39th President, Jimmy Carter.

America's involvement in the Vietnam War ended under the Ford Administration, approximately six months after his pardon of the 37th President, Richard Nixon. Ford was also the political punching bag of Chevy Chase from the first season of "Saturday Night Live." A few years later, Chevy Chase spent time in the Betty Ford clinic for his drug addiction.

This understated man live a remarkable life.
Cinema Dave  Swashbuckling ournalist and

Don't rise, "Hannibal" and Harris should have laid low.

After a seven year wait, Thomas Harris has completed another Hannibal Lechter novel. Titled "Hannibal Rising," this book deals with Hannibal's early years and how he became a serial cannibal. At 300 some odd pages, one gets the feeling that "Hannibal Rising" was cultivated from unused notes from Thomas Harris' last book, "Hannibal," a 700 plus page epic.

While "Hannibal" shocked people with the cruel fates of major characters, there were some well written passages. In particular, the cat and mouse game Hannibal plays with Inspector Pazzi in Florence, Italy raises the literary merit of the Grand Guignol novel. "Hannibal Rising" does not claim such merit.

In another sign of the times, "Hannibal Rising" will appear at your local multiplex for Valentine's Day. It has not been confirmed if Anthony Hopkins will perform a narration of if he will have a cameo.
Cinema Dave  Swashbuckling ournalist and

"DreamGirls" offers a dream ensemble cast

Jennifer Hudson deserves her kudos for her work as Effie on "Dreamgirls."
Her rendition of "You're Gonna Love Me" midway through the film is a showstopper and people applaud with tears in their eyes. A Best Supporting Actress nomination should be in her future.

One good category that the Screen Actor's Guild created is the best "ensemble" award, for "Dreamgirls" is a triumph of ensemble. Eddie Murphy, Beyonce Knowles and Jamie Foxx get their moments to shine, but one gets the feeling these box office veterans knew that this former American Idol contestant would steal the show.

The role of Effie is the best written character from "Dreamgirls" and it is sad that most mainstream critics are comparing Beyonce Knowles in a negative light in contrast to Jennifer Hudson. Knowles nails the role that is based on the life of Diana Ross.

In fact, "Dreamgirls" is based on the history, gossip and rumors about the rise of Motown, the record industry that began with music entrepreneur Barry Gordy. After his Oscar winning performance as Ray Charles, Jaimie Foxx reveals a darker side of his personality in "Dreamgirls."

Clocking in at two and a half hours, "Dreamgirls" becomes a bit long in the tooth. Director Bill Condon's musical numbers lack any sense of variety as the movie goes from one talking head solo after another. Which is why Jennifer Hudson's solo rendition of "You're Gonna Love Me" is such a stand out song midway through "Dreamgirls."