Saturday, March 15, 2014



Hello everybody, this is Mrs. Norman Maine. Many of you are likely to be more familiar with me under my professional name of Miss Vicki Lester, star of stage and screen musicals. My story was told in that exceedingly inaccurate 1954 musical, A Star is Born with the great Judy Garland playing me and James Mason playing my darling husband Norman. Many of my fans think, as I have been less active in recent years, that I have retired, or even died.  My dears, nothing could be further from the truth!  As long as my little legs can keep my tap shoes going, I will continue to give my fans the wholesome family entertainments they so richly deserve. Why, only recently I completed filming a part in Powertool 3: Vicki Does Valdez.

Norman and I continue to live in our opulent Hollywood Hills home, Chateau Maine. His health has been failing a bit in recent years but he does take the occasional part in a prestige project. His ‘death’, as depicted in the biopic, was a bit of studio publicity fiction, concocted to cover up an extended stay at Betty Ford. He does have a bit of a drinking problem; just last week I found a five-gallon jug of Tanqueray hidden in the toilet tank. I, however, remain a vigorous and youthful thirty-nine, an age I have maintained for some decades. We share our home with Nurse Tameka, Norman’s caretaker and our cat, Patrick Flanagan – a pussy of discriminating tastes.

Recently, as I am one of the great icons of the silver screen, I have taken to sharing my knowledge of film with all of my fans out there in the dark and I am so pleased to have been asked to make contributions to this lovely publication and share my insights into the cinema with all of you.  I choose to view only the finest products of Hollywood, either through incognito visits to the local multiplex for a matinee,  or streaming, Blu-ray or DVD in our sumptuous home theater.

Norman is a great fan of Samuel L. Jackson, so much so that he constantly uses a vulgar catchphrase from his Snakes on the Plane with the cashiers at our local Target, and therefore he and I decided recently to watch the remake of Shaft in which in which Mr. Jackson stars as that lean mean sex machine. I have never been a particular fan of the blaxploitation genre so I expected to be bored witless. Instead, I was pleasantly surprised. Shaft delivers a fairly solid production. The film is well directed by John Singleton (who made such a splash with Boys in the Hood a few years back.) He has fun with the conventions and comes up with an occasional new twist. This Shaft, nephew to Richard Roundtree’s original (Roundtree turns up as his original character in a cameo), has been updated for the new millennium and now sports full length leather Armani trench coats (how he affords this on a cops salary is not explained). Sadly, the famous Shaft sex life, one of the raisons d’etre of the original films, is given no more than passing mention (this is also not explained).

The major problem with the film is the formulaic script, which is not only utterly predictable, but also defies logic. It somehow collapses New York City to about eight square blocks as people keep showing up at exactly the right time for a spectacular gun fight, even though moments ago they had no idea where their opponents might be. Maybe they all spend time calling Psychic Friends Network on their ubiquitous cell phones. Thanks to Singleton’s direction, things move fast enough to keep the audience from worrying too much about coherence.

The supporting cast is not particularly well served. The gorgeous Vanessa Williams is thoroughly wasted in her thankless role as a police partner of Shaft's. She’s given nothing to do and no reason to do it. I didn't even notice her on screen until about half way through the movie. As the villain, Christian Bale again proves he can play an amoral psychopath like no one else but his eye rolling and over emoting keep him from being as effective as he might have been had he been reined in a bit.

This is a reasonable divertissement for a rainy Sunday afternoon but not a must have for the collection.

Car crashes. Cops on the take. Gratuitous Toni Colette. Bikini clad dope refiners. Christian Bale with incredible hair goop. Shaved heads. Basic black costuming. Nighttime neon sheen.

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