Collateral Beauty: Time for Love & Death to Take a Holiday

 Mirren Kills'em.jpg Mirren Kills’em

DATELINE:  Bereavement Hallucinations

Every once in a while a movie comes along that invites insult and derision. This time it is  Will Smith’s dramedy called Collateral Beauty.

It has echoes of so many other, better stories, that we aren’t sure where to begin the diagnosis.

From the trailer you might believe this is a fantasy film on the lines of Love, Death, and Time, Meet in New York. You’d have been deceived, sort of.

A depressed man, dealing with the death of his child of six, has business associates that want to have evidence to commit him to a looney bin.

So, they arrange for actors to play Love, Death, and Time, to pay him a visit. It’s Gaslight—but as Helen Mirren, playing Death, discovers in the course of the movie, no one remembers that classic film, known for its good acting. No one will remember this one for that same reason.

When you start out with some of the most unlikable characters all woven into one plot, you are already behind the Oscar voting. Will Smith knows about being overlooked for a good performance—and lets his natural gray hairs show his love for acting this time as the movie lay dying.

We presume this is a cautionary tale—but we aren’t quite sure if we are being warned about sneaky business partners, cruel fate, or bloated self-pity. There is plenty of that stuff to go around in this movie. Just call it a sentimental journey.

Here’s the rub: you probably will watch it and hate yourself in the morning, which may be the opposite emotion the film wants you to have. It preaches at the audience enough to cause a backlash.

You may actually begin to think those “actors” playing at Death, Love, and Time, may be the real thing, like a coven of witches hanging out in the Big Apple for laughs.

At one point, Helen Mirren says, “This is not Noel Coward. It’s more like Chekhov.”  Yes, the movie never falls short on lofty pretensions. You could do worse.

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James Dean Died 60 Years Ago Today

DATELINE: A Small Tribute

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Would the ultimate Rebel Without A Cause actually be 84 today if he had lived? It is unlikely he would have survived the 1960s or the 1980s with his lifestyle.

Yet, we still think of his eternal adolescence, painful youth, and promise lost.

This week as a tribute to Dean we decided to give away copies of our caustic biography of the star, THE NEXT JAMES DEAN. The book featured some insider knowledge of Dean never published before—or since. One fan accused us of snapping a photo of his dead body for the cover image.

Then we took on all the imitators, clones, and clowns, who tried to emulate James Dean. Some were guiltless victims of studio publicity, but many went slightly bonkers trying to emulate him.

Dean made ten times the number of TV shows as his movies. And, most fans probably have not seen hours and hours of his live TV performances. Some are stunning, years ahead of their time.

Few fans know that ghoulish Alfred Hitchcock decided to film one of his seminal suspense scenes at the site of Dean’s deadly car crash. Yes, that desolate stretch of highway is where Cary Grant is chased by a crop duster in North by Northwest. Well, it’s actually a model, a drone by today’s standards.

Fans may not know that the same stretch of road is thought to be haunted by the ghost of Dean and his mysterious and missing death car. Each year on September 30th, around 6pm in the sunset, you can hear a sports car racing down the highway, but end up in a crashing sound. It is the ghost car of Dean.

Fox News is now reporting the car has been found, hidden away behind a false wall to prevent it from killing new victims.

We thought Dean was deader than a door-nail by now. One of his few surviving contemporaries thinks he won’t last. Yet, when we put our e-book up for free taking in honor of James Dean, about 300 fans downloaded our testimonial book. We were delighted.

There were no strings, catches, or tricks. We just gave the book away to dedicated fans. We think Jim Dean of Indiana would have approved.