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A group of unique directors and the essential works that you've got to see.

||| Frank Capra |||
Frank Capra

It goes without saying that Capra is one of the greatest and most beloved directors of all time, especially renowned for his madcap romantic comedies. He is one of the few directors who ever managed to balance whimsy with meaningfulness without loosing the ability to entertain.

Only Frank Capra, with his light hand and good sense of allowing the actors to be their roles, could carry off this tale of a naive average American used by an unscrupulous politician through a nationwide goodwill drive. No one was ever better at having strong yet vulnerable women not only aid, but often come to the rescue, of the leading man.

Frank Capra's final film is a hilarious translation of a Damon Runyon tale set in 1930s New York, as gangster Glenn Ford repays street peddler Bette Davis for her "good luck" apples by passing her off as a well-to-do society lady for her visiting daughter (Ann-Margret in her film debut). This excellent and thoroughly enjoyable remake of his own 1933 "Lady for a Day" is a beautiful swan song to a master storyteller. Widescreen!

In this black comedy about two sweet old ladies whose basement holds a murderously funny secret, Capra utilizes star Cary Grant to his zany, patented “double take” best. Capra’s brilliance in comic casting is demonstrated with such reliable character actors as Raymond Massey, Peter Lorre and Jack Carson who manage to play their parts to the hilt without chewing up the scenery.

Recommended by CarrieSpecht


Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen

By BrianOrndorf

February 19th, 2004

I am continually impressed by young actress Lindsay Lohan’s ability to charm. But her latest effort, “Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen,” is strictly for the 16-year-old-girl demographic. Anybody outside of that audience will have a tough time swallowing the film’s liberal and careless chopping of its source material. and complete absence of logic.

Lola (another fine turn from Lindsay Lohan, “Freaky Friday”) and her family are giving up the big lights of New York City for the smaller pleasures to be found in New Jersey. Fearing a total cultural shutdown, Lola clings to her new friend Ella (Alison Pill, “Pieces of April“), and her lead role in the school musical, spinning lies and obsessions about her favorite rock band to anybody who will listen. When a chance encounter with the band’s lead singer (Adam Garcia, “Coyote Ugly“) sends Lola on a wild night of misadventures, she must keep her act together and try to shine brightly in the musical, which she views as her one shot at fame.

Based on the young adult novel by Dyan Sheldon, the movie adaptation of “Drama Queen” makes it feel like the filmmakers only captured half of the book. Targeted directly at 16 year-old girls, the picture evokes a feeling of being stuck in a small room with teenagers, which isn’t as insulting as it sounds. Director Sara Sugarman encapsulates the essence of popularity, style, and the frantic thought processes that fuel the youth of today. Sugarman also keeps the story flowing forward with flashes of animation, colorful (and plentiful) costumes, highly stylized depictions of New York (with rainbow colored garbage piles), and a goofy portrait of suburban New Jersey, which makes its introduction to the film with a cow’s moo on the soundtrack. Sure. Nothing says “farmland” like suburban New Jersey.

Like a tap dancer finishing off a case of Red Bull and thirsty for the spotlight, “Drama Queen” keeps flailing away in an effort to keep minds off the fact that no character or subplot in the finished film is coherent, or are even addressed more than passingly. For instance, take Lola’s father, who is the basis for Lola’s emotional arc in the film when she’s confronted over lying about his death to her classmates. Why Lola lies about her successful and beloved children’s book author father is never addressed, nor is this subplot seen to any type of rational conclusion. The same goes for Lola’s attraction to a requisite “cute boy” named Sam, who is ignored in the story, yet paid off at the end as a huge maturing step for Lola. And there are many more dropped ideas and characters littering the floor of the film. “Drama Queen” comes from a book, and feels just like it; corners were cut to keep the film moving as quickly as possible, and the narrative suffers in the end.

When a film like this doesn’t add up past any superficial stage, I find it hard to get excited. “Drama Queen” is another nice leading vehicle for Lindsay Lohan, but her charms can’t keep this misguided mess afloat long enough.

My rating: D+