The legendary Cicely Tyson has passed away. She leaves behind a prolific award-winning career in film, TV, and the stage. She was a trailblazer who opened the door for other black actresses that followed. Moreover, she used her work to show how multidimensional black women are and their deserving of respect. I’ll remember her most for the dignity and poise she possessed. Like a regal queen. She always seemed sure of herself and what she wanted from the world. Recently, Miss Tyson completed her memoir, Just As I Am. I’m looking forward to reading it and learning more about this incredible woman.
Thirty years ago, my all-time favorite show, Beverly Hills 90210, premiered. This was the OG teen drama that opened the door for all the rest. It had soapy storylines, very pretty people, and a mythic zip code that everyone wanted to live in. The fish out of water premise focused on the Walsh family moving from their comfy normal Minneapolis home to the glitzy Beverly Hills. There was stern patriarch Jim (James Eckhouse), his loveable wife Cindy (Carol Potter), and their dynamic twins Brandon (Jason Priestly) and Brenda (Shannen Doherty). B&B enrolled in West Beverly Hills High School and met brooding bad boy Dylan McKay (Luke Perry), queen bee Kelly Taylor (Jennie Garth), clotheshorse Donna Martin (Tori Spelling), spoiled rich boy Steve Sanders (Ian Ziering), brainiac Andrea Zuckerman (Gabrielle Carteris), and dorky David Silver (Brian Austin Green). Immediately, I was drawn in and made Thursday nights at 9pm (and then Wednesdays at 8pm) appointment viewing. My walls were decorated with posters of the cast. I even had the dolls. Really wish I had held onto those. 90210 was my adolescence. I was 11 when the show began in 1990 and months way from turning 21 when it went off the air in 2000. It will always have a special place in my heart, so for its anniversary I thought I’d celebrate the best things about the show. And some of the worst.
Best Character – Brenda
You can’t get any better than Brenda. Beautiful, smart, and headstrong. Plus, she usually had the most compelling storylines. You wanted to watch every week as she navigated the rough terrain of Beverly Hills. Shannen’s performances were always on point, making her the best actor in the cast. When she left at the end of season 4, I stopped watching…for a few episodes. I may have come back, but the show was never quite the same without Brenda.
Most Boring Character – Andrea
Andrea wasn’t necessarily setting the screen on fire. Her trajectory was running the school newspaper while crushing on Brandon, getting knocked up and married her freshman year of college, and studying to be a doctor. Blah. Yeah, she cheated on her husband, but it was a tedious affair. Really, the most interesting thing to happen to her was getting run down by a car in season 3.
Best Couple – Brenda & Dylan
Brenda and Dylan were an intense couple. They loved hard, leading to several fights and breakups. But no matter what, they were always there for each other. Also, Shannen and Luke had amazing chemistry.
Worst Couple – Donna & Ray
Ray was an abusive cheating douchebag who threw Donna down a flight of stairs. Luckily, she gained the courage to end things with him before it was too late. On a positive note, he did write a catchy song, “How Do You Talk to an Angel”.
Best Rivalry – Brenda vs. Kelly
Brenda and Kelly started off as best friends before quickly becoming frenemies. The minute Brenda turned her back, Kelly was scamming on Dylan, leading to the final B&D breakup. Even though Brenda got over it, I couldn’t forgive Kelly. #NeverForget
Best Parent – Cindy Walsh
Cindy was always there to listen to her kids’ problems and offer good advice. It’s funny how Carol Potter quit acting to become a family therapist. Life kind of imitated art.
Worst Parent – Felice Martin
Donna’s mom (Katherine Cannon) never failed to be the worst. She was the typical Beverly Hills snob, looking down on everyone around her. Turns out she was a big hypocrite, preaching about abstinence while cheating on her husband.
Best Villain – Amanda
Amanda made a brief indelible villainous mark on the show in the “Slumber Party” episode. From the get go she thinks Brenda’s pajama party is beneath her and isn’t afraid to tell them all. Then she suggests they play “Skeletons in the Closet” where each girl has to confess secrets about themselves. This ends in tears and humiliation. Later, it’s revealed that Amanda has been taking diet pills that are killing her personality. She finally lets her guard down and eats something. Bitchiness cured.
Best Kelly Tragedy – Cocaine Kelly
Drama stuck to Kelly like white on rice. Speaking of white stuff, Kelly getting hooked on cocaine was her best tragic moment. She spiraled downward into the bottom of a coke vial, enabled by Colin (Jason Wiles), her boyfriend at the time. After hitting rock bottom, she checked into rehab. That led to her meeting fellow addict, Tara (Paige Moss), a complete psycho who went single white female on her. Never bring home friends from rehab.
Dumbest Tragedy to Befall Kelly – LAX Drive-by Shooting
The gang was coming back from a trip to Hawaii when they found themselves gunned down by a pair of car thieves in the parking lot. Kelly took a bullet and immediately went into a coma. Then she woke up with amnesia. Seriously.
Best Exit – Dylan takes off
Dylan’s arc for season 6 involved trying to find the man responsible for his father’s death. That turned out to be mobster Anthony Marchette. In a soapy twist, Dylan fell in love with Marchette’s daughter, Toni. They got married and planned to leave Beverly Hills. Unfortunately, Marchette put a hit on Dylan, but the assassin accidentally killed Toni. A grief-stricken Dylan left town, riding off into the sunset on his motorcycle.
Most Annoying Character – Clare
Clare (Kathleen Robertson) came in during season four as Brandon’s stalker, basically. When she got over him, she moved onto David and then Steve. None of the pairings were great, but Claire was consistently annoying. Judgy and always ready to blame someone else for her problems. It didn’t help that she had a bad case of resting bitch face.
Best New Character – Valerie Malone
After Brenda left BH, Valerie Malone (Tiffani Thiessen), a Walsh family friend, was added to the canvas. She was no Minnesota twin, but she did a fine job. In Valerie, the show finally got a straight up bitch (with a heart). She was sneaky, deceitful, and full of snark. Her main target was Kelly, so I took to Val pretty quickly.
Worst New Character – Gina
After Tiffani left the show in season 9, producers rushed to replace her with Vanessa Marcil, a popular daytime soap star. She played Gina, Donna’s cousin (but actually her half-sister, long story). Unlike, Val, Gina was one-dimensional and lacked chemistry with any member of the gang.
Funniest Character – Steve
Steve provided a lot of comic relief. Intentional or not. Those loud silk shirts he wore in the early seasons were quite laughable. Not to mention his curly mullet.
Biggest Waste of Talent – Hilary Swank
In year 8, Hilary Swank was cast as Steve’s girlfriend Carly. She was fired mid-season. The rest is two-time Academy Award winning history.
Best & Worst Fashion – Donna
Over the course of a decade, Donna followed every 90s fashion trend. She wore clothes well, like the red & black sweater and short-shorts set she had on when she found out her mom was a big cheater. Or her low cut, yet tasteful (thanks to a cross) sparkly black prom dress. Sometimes the clothes wore her and showcased her insane boobs too much. But she always made an effort, however misguided.
Sexiest Man – Dylan
The late Luke Perry was as hot as he was talented. You can’t resist a bad boy with a lot of forehead.
Best Track from the Soundtrack – “Love Is”
The show came out with a soundtrack in 1992 filled with a bunch of great songs. Vanessa Williams and Brian McKnight duetted on the beautiful ballad “Love Is”. It’s the track I like to play over and over again…and usually sing the Vanessa parts.
Best Musical Guest Stars – Color Me Badd
In “Things to Do on a Rainy Day”, Brenda, Kelly, Donna, and David run around the Bel Age Hotel trying to meet Color Me Badd, who are staying there. Hijinks ensue. At the end of the episode, the Badd guys serenade Donna with “I Adore”. It’s delightfully cheesy.
Best Musical Performance
In the “Wild Fire” episode, new girl Emily Valentine (Christine Elsie) sings “Breaking Up is Hard to Do” at the Hello Day talent show. Brenda, Kelly, and Donna assist with some mean lip synching and Robert Palmer backup dancer realness.
Dumbest Line – “I choose me”
Faced with a marriage proposal from Brandon and a trip around the world with Dylan, Kelly went with “I choose me”. Wrong choice, girl.
Most Character Growth – David
David started out as a skinny little geek in season 1 who was obsessed with girls and being popular. He grew up quickly (emotionally and physically) and became more secure with himself. Plus, he won over Donna and joined the group. There were dramatic lows, like his drug addiction and mental illness issues, but he overcame them. By the end of the show, David proved to be a good friend, brother, and partner.
Heart of the Show – Nat
Nat (Joe E. Tata), the owner of the Peach Pit, was like a second father to everyone in the group. He provided a shoulder to lean on and a delicious burger to eat.
Best Trip – Paris
In the summer episodes of season 3, Brenda and Donna traveled to Paris for a study abroad program. Brenda pretended to be French (complete with a bad accent) while being romanced by cute American tourist Rick (Dean Cain). Meanwhile, Donna tried her hand at modeling. That didn’t go far. The trip overall was a fun retreat from the usual Beverly Hills stories, plus the girls grew closer as friends.
Best Event – Spring Dance
At the end of season 1, the gang gathered together for West Beverly’s spring dance. Brenda and Kelly wore the same little black and white dress. Brenda did it better. Donna wore a ridiculous dress with a hoop skirt no less. Steve was a jerk because everyone forgot his birthday. Andrea nearly missed the whole thing. And Brenda and Dylan made love for the first time. It was a night to remember. Btw, the senior prom in season 3 is a very close second. Donna getting drunk and nearly getting tossed out of school will never get old. #DonnaMartinGraduates
Worst Event – Brandon & Kelly’s almost wedding
Viewers were prepared for longtime couple, Brandon and Kelly, to get married in the season 8 finale. They’d been through so many dramas and this was the natural next step. Instead, they both got cold feet and called it off. Wtf?? Not cool, show.
Best Season – Season 2
Fox was thinking out of the box when they started airing the second season in the summer. Kids at home had nothing else to watch and quickly latched onto the fledging show, making it a hit. Brenda and Dylan’s drama took center stage. She had a pregnancy scare and they broke up (in Dylan’s vintage Porsche while R.E.M.’s “Losing My Religion” played). Meanwhile, Brandon diched his job at the Peach Pit for a run as a cabana boy at the Beverly Hills Beach Club. To remind you, Beverly Hills is landlocked. How did we not question this alleged beach? When school started, we met wild girl Emily, who introduced us to U4EA. Scott (Douglas Emerson), David’s former best friend, accidentally killed himself. Everybody was talking about sex. David’s dad Mel (Matthew Laurence) and Kelly’s mom Jackie (Ann Gillespie) got together. Jim and Dylan waged WWIII with Brenda stuck in the middle. And Kelly had a brief romance with older man Jake Hanson (Grant Show). A handyman who lived over on Melrose Place.
Worst Season – Seasons 9 & 10
One thing is clear, 90210 stayed too late at the party. The show could have ended with the gang graduating from college in season 7. Or with Brandon and Kelly’s wedding in season 8 (if they hadn’t called it off). But instead they dragged it out for 9 and 10. Brandon left town, leaving no Walshes in Casa Walsh. There was too much focus on newer characters like Gina, Noah (Vincent Young) and Matt (Daniel Cosgrove). Eternal playboy Steve suddenly married his girlfriend Janet (Lindsay Price) and had a kid. Donna developed a pill addiction. Kelly was raped. Yes, Dylan came back, but he was on yet another booze spiral. Nothing was really clicking in those last two years. The show lost its spark.
Best Moment from the Series Finale – Donna & David’s Wedding
As mentioned above, by the time we got to season 10 it was REALLY time to end things. But it was still a sad moment. I was going to miss this show that I grew up with. In the final moments, soulmates David and Donna got married. Their friends and family gathered on the dance floor to dance to Kool and the Gang’s “Celebration”. It was a bittersweet moment.
In 1995, Mariah Carey released Daydream, one of the best albums of her career. It’s certainly in my top 3 for her. The record is a fantastic mix of pop, ballads, and midtempo r&b. She also creeped into the hip-hop world with a certain remix. Critics praised her new work and fans rushed to buy it. The album went platinum ten times over and spawned three #1 singles. Let’s take a look back.
12. When I Saw You
A simple ballad. But basic for Mariah is still infinitely better than most singers at their best.
11. Open Arms
Standard cover of Journey’s classic song. My arms are halfway open for it.
A throwback to a 50s or 60s sound, but with Mariah’s signature tone. I could almost hear this playing in the background of an old Sandra Dee movie.
9. Daydream Interlude (Sweet Fantasy Dub Mix)
She takes us to the club with this hypnotic interlude, giving us a brief moment to dance it out.
8. Long Ago
Midtempo 90s r&b in a nutshell. She flows easily over this bass line.
7. Melt Away
The ballad sister of Long Ago. She wrote it with Babyface, producing a smooth jam
6. One Sweet Day
The longest running consecutive #1 (16 weeks) up until 2019. Mariah partnered with Boys II Men on this track about losing a loved one. It’s equally sad and beautiful. My favorite part is the run-filled back and forth between Mariah and Wanya.
5. I Am Free
With a title like “I Am Free” you wouldn’t think this was a love song. Mariah writes about being a prisoner locked inside herself until someone came into her life and freed her with their love. It’s a hopeful message captured with soaring high notes.
4. Underneath the Stars
A pretty melody matched with some of the best layered vocals. It makes you imagine first-time love on a starry summer night.
3. Looking In
One of her most introspective songs where she lays out all of her raw emotions. “She smiles through a thousand tears and harbors adolescent fears. She dreams of all that she could never be She wades in insecurity.” It’s quietly powerful and heartbreaking.
2. Always Be My Baby
A fan favorite that never gets old. ABMB marked the beginning of a long history of collaborations between Mariah and producer Jermaine Dupri. They know how to make the hits that become the soundtrack to our lives.
The first track off the album, as well as the first single by a female artist to debut at #1 on the Billboard 100. Her ninth #1 overall. She’s backed by an infectious sample of the Tom Tom Club’s “Genius of Love”. Then she flipped it with the remix featuring Ol’ Dirty Bastard. At the time, putting a mainstream pop singer with a rapper seemed crazy. But Mariah grew up loving hip hop. These days every female pop star does a song featuring a rap artist. I’m not saying Mariah invented this “hip-pop” genre. But I’m not not saying it either. In any case, Fantasy gave us the iconic lyric “Me and Mariah go back like babies with pacifiers”. It doesn’t get any sweeter than that.
The other day I re-watched Single White Female & The Hand that Rocks the Cradle and realized they share many similarities. Both films came out in 1992 when sexy thrillers were very much in style (think Basic Instinct). So, you have a lot of the same themes and character traits reused between movies. Some hold up and others feel stuck in the 90s.
Single White Female focuses on Allie (Bridget Fonda), a pretty twenty-something software engineer living in New York City. When she discovers that her boyfriend, Sam (Steven Weber), has cheated on her, she tosses him out. Soon after she puts an ad in the newspaper looking for a new roommate. After meeting with a few duds, Hedy (Jennifer Jason Leigh) strolls in. Allie has been crying over Sam and she listens as she blabbers on. They instantly bond and Hedy moves-in. Allie is so taken with her new roomie that she doesn’t bother to check her references. Big mistake. It’s one of several dumb moves Allie makes. The script makes her out to be fairly dense and co-dependent. She actually doesn’t need a roommate because she can afford the rent-controlled apartment on her own, but she can’t bear to be alone. Once Hedy has moved in, she can’t see how crazy she is until it’s too late and she’s duct-taped to a chair. That will open your eyes.
The Hand that Rocks the Cradle has a different vibe, but a familiar story. Claire (Anabella Sciorra) is a wife and mother living in the suburbs of Seattle. During her second pregnancy, she is molested by her OBGYN, Dr. Mott. She tells the authorities, which causes other victims to come forward. The scandal devastates Mott and he commits suicide. His wife Peyton (Rebecca De Mornay) goes into premature labor because of all the stress and loses the baby. Months later when Claire needs help taking care of her daughter Emma (Madeline Zima) and baby Joe, Peyton arrives on the scene posing as a nanny. The doctor’s widow is set on revenge. Just like Allie, Claire is fairly gullible. She allows Peyton’s charm to win her over and doesn’t take the time to look into her references. How are these women allowing strangers to move into their homes without doing a simple background check first?! Also, Claire is extremely weak. There’s a recurring plot line where any stressor triggers her asthma and she has a massive attack. She could drop dead if someone says “boo” to her.
The villains in each movie are riding in first class on the crazy train. From the second she moves in, Hedy is obsessed with Allie. She wants to be the #1 person in her roommate’s life. She even buys a puppy so the two of them can take care of it. Poor Buddy gets tossed off the balcony when he seems to prefer Allie over Hedy. Only a true nutjob would kill a puppy! Later Allie discovers that Hedy has copies of all of her outfits. Then she takes it one step further when she gets Allie’s exact haircut and color. Ironically, this movie probably spawned a ton of mushroom copy-cuts in real life.
In Peyton’s mind, Claire destroyed her family, so she’s going to steal hers. She gets close to Emma, winning her over quickly. Then she begins to breastfeed Joe every night causing him to reject his own mother’s milk. She attempts to ruin Claire’s marriage by making her think that her husband is cheating on her. Peyton won’t rest until her enemy is down for good.
The men in these movies are basically props used to move the plot along. It’s actually refreshing since this typically happens to female characters. In both films, the villain wants to steal the heroine’s man. But it’s not really about the guys themselves. It’s more so about possessing everything the heroine has. In SWF, Hedy tries to dissuade Allie from forgiving Sam and getting back together with him. She doesn’t want to lose her position in Allie’s life. But she also wants to bang Sam herself. She succeeds in the latter point when she slithers into Sam’s bed. He thinks she’s Allie and goes along with the seduction. Once he realizes the truth, he doesn’t try too hard to push her off. But he instantly regrets cheating on Allie and hops out of bed. In this moment, we get some rare male nudity. There’s a flash of peen and a slightly longer butt shot with a peek at his low hangers. Both Fonda and Leigh have nude scenes, so it’s only fair that we get a gander at Webber too. Sam threatens to tell Allie about what happened and Hedy snaps (didn’t take much) and stabs him in the eye with her stiletto heel. Death by footwear.
Claire’s husband, Michael (Matt McCoy) fares better. He doesn’t succumb to Peyton’s “charms”, even after she flaunts them in a wet see-through nightgown. And he makes it out of the movie alive despite getting clocked with a baseball bat. But ultimately his character is a bland afterthought. If he had gotten naked, maybe he’d be more interesting.
The best friend always knows
Unlike the female leads, the best friends actually have a clue. Marlene (Julianne Moore) knows something isn’t right with Peyton. She warns Claire, “the hand that rocks the cradle is the hand that rules the world”. It’s like she wrote the movie. Marlene investigates the nanny and discovers that Peyton is Dr. Mott’s widow. This leads to a typical trope in thrillers: the best friend has to die because they know too much. In this case, Marlene gets a greenhouse dropped on her head. Meanwhile, Allie’s best friend and neighbor Graham (Peter Friedman) has Hedy’s number from the moment she moves into the building. Hedy comes after Graham, knocking him out. Luckily, he survives and will be able to give Allie a big “I told you so”.
One aspect of THTRTC that doesn’t age well and also proves to be very problematic is the character of Solomon (Ernie Hudson). Claire and Michael hire the mentally challenged handyman to build a white picket fence around their yard. He’s a large black man with the mental capability of a child. So, he’s imposing, yet harmless, and altogether awkward. He’s bright enough to be wary of Peyton though. When he catches her breastfeeding Joe, she plots to get rid of him before he can out her. She tells Claire that Solomon has been inappropriate with Emma. Claire doesn’t believe it, but the seed of doubt is planted. Later, Peyton makes sure she finds a pair of Emma’s underwear in Solomon’s work cart. Claire leaps to the conclusion that he has molested her daughter and fires him. Peyton is basically a 90s “Karen”, a white woman falsely accusing a black man of a crime and ruining his life. Another problem with this story is that Michael and Claire never ask Emma what happened. They just assume it’s true. You’d think they’d take her to therapy to deal with this supposed traumatic event, but they just move on with their lives. That’s some shitty parenting and a big plot hole.
The bad guy always has to go down in the end. We’ve watched these horrible people torture the protagonists for 90% of the film and we want some payoff. This is also when Allie and Claire grow a brain and a backbone. Allie manages to best Hedy in a tense cat and mouse game in their building’s basement then kills her with a screwdriver. It’s appropriate that she gets stabbed in the back. In Cradle, Claire finally figures everything out and confronts her tormentor. Cut to her punching Peyton across a dining room table. I remember when I saw this in a packed theater, back in 1992, and the audience erupted in applause. We were all tired of that bitch. Later, Claire gets the upper hand on Peyton and shoves her out a window. The psycho nanny lands on the white picket fence that Solomon built. Now that’s payback.
The other night I was watching Clueless and realized that I still remember so many of the lines. That’s a testament to the great movie that writer/director Amy Heckerling created. It holds up all these years later and stands out as one of the best comedies of the 90s. For its anniversary lets count down Clueless’ best quotes.
25. “Whatever!” – Amber
Short and to the point. You need to make the W hand gesture, like Amber (Elisa Donovan), to really sell it.
24. “Wasn’t my mom a total Betty? She died when I was a young. A freak accident during a routine liposuction.” – Cher
RIP, Cher’s mom.
23. “I believe that was your designer impostor perfume” – Cher
Is designer impostor perfume still a thing? It should be.
22. “No shit, you guys got coke here?” – Tai
21. “Yo, you’re getting on the freeway!” – Murray
When I lived in LA, the freeway scared the hell out of me too.
20. “He does dress better than I do. What would I bring to the relationship?” – Cher
It’s a valid question.
19. “Cher’s saving herself for Luke Perry.” – Dionne
Weren’t we all?
18. “I am totally, butt crazy in love with Josh.” – Cher
That’s the greatest love of all.
17. “You see how picky I am about my shoes and those only go on my feet.” – Cher
Cher (Alicia Silverstone) knew her worth.
16. “Do you prefer the term fashion victim or ensemble-y challenged?” – Cher
Ironically, when Amber gets slammed here, her outfit looks cute.
15. “Girlie, as far as you’re concerned, I’m the messiah of the DMV.” – Instructor
That driving instructor was drunk with power.
14. “Would you call me selfish?” “No, not to your face.” – Cher & Dionne
Dionne (Stacey Dash) was a true friend.
13. “I do not wear polyester hair, ok. Unlike some people I know, like Shawana.” – Dionne
We never did get to meet Shawana and her bad hair extensions.
12. “May I please remind you that it does not say RSVP on Statue of Liberty.” – Cher
This entire speech is amazing. Worthy of a least a B+.
11. “It’s a dress.” “Says who?” “Calvin Klein.” – Cher & Mel
That was a cute CK dress. The jacket gave it an extra, transparent, layer.
10. “Dionne and I were both named after great singers from the past who now do infomercials.” – Cher
The early 90s were a rough time for Cher and Dionne Warwick…and their psychic friends.
9. “So ok, I don’t want to be a traitor to my generation and all, but I don’t get how guys dress today. I mean, come on, it looks like they just fell out of bed and put on some baggy pants and take their greasy hair and cover it up with a backwards cap and like we’re expected to swoon? I don’t think so.” – Cher
This monologue describes 90% of the guys I went to high school with. Wash your hair and pull up your pants, dude.
8. “Rollin’ with the homies.” – Tai
Coolio was a wordsmith.
7. “Oh, no, you don’t understand. This is an Alaia.” “An Awhatta?” “It’s like a totally important designer.” “And I will totally shoot you in the head.” – Cher & the Mugger
I had never heard of Alaia until I saw this movie. It was educational.
6. “He’s a disco dancing, Oscar Wilde reading, Streisand ticket holding friend of Dorothy.” – Murray
I can relate.
5. “She’s a full-on Monet. It’s like a painting, see? From far away it’s ok, but up close, it’s a big old mess.” – Cher
The nastiest read in the movie. Very descriptive.
4. “My plastic surgeon doesn’t want me doing any activity where balls fly at my nose.” “There goes your social life.” – Amber & Dionne
Dionne served Amber with some wicked shade.
3. “You’re a virgin who can’t drive.” – Tai
Tai’s (Brittany Murphy) delivery and facial expression always kill me. She’s a savage.
2. “The was way harsh, Tai.” – Cher
The only appropriate response when someone calls out your hymenly-challenged-driver’s-license-less existence.
1. “As if!” – Cher
As if anything else could take the top spot. It’s the best line in the movie. Iconic as F.
Director Joel Schumacher passed away yesterday at the age of 80 after a battle with cancer. He started out as a costume designer (The Last of Sheila) in the 70s before transitioning to screenwriting (Sparkle, The Wiz). In 1981, he made his directorial debut with the comedy The Incredible Shrinking Woman. Looking at his IMBD page, you can see how eclectic his directing career was. There were big blockbusters (BatmanForever), dramas adapted from books (A Time to Kill, The Client), thrillers (Flatliners), and even a musical (The Phantom of the Opera). He didn’t allow himself to be pigeonholed as one type of director, but instead made the movies he enjoyed.
I’ll remember Schumacher best for The Lost Boys. It’s one that I have to stop and watch whenever I come across it on TV, which is often. He was able to put together the perfect mix of horror and comedy. It’s a very fun film.
I’m looking forward to re-watching my favorites from Schumacher and discovering his other films that I haven’t gotten around to seeing.
Back in 1990, Mariah Carey made her debut with her self-titled album. Up until then, she was a backup singer in NYC looking for a big break. That came when she met Tommy Mattola, the president of Sony, and signed to his record label. Contrary to the Svengali narrative, Mattola didn’t create Mariah. Most of the material for that first album came from a demo tape that she had made in high school, she wrote her own songs, and her incredible singing wasn’t taught. She was a powerhouse of her own making. Here are Mariah Carey’s 11 tracks.
11. You Need Me
You know what you don’t need on the album? This song. It’s overproduced and boring.
10. Sent from Up Above
Only slightly better than YNM, but still “eh”. It sounds very early 90s and not in a good way.
9. All in Your Mind
The best moment on this one is the whistle note staccato at the end.
8. All Alone in Love
AAIL is one of those songs you’d hear on a “quiet storm” radio night. Smooth and easy.
7. There’s Got to Be a Way
A song with a message that still needs to be heard today. Mariah sings about overcoming racial inequality and bigotry.
This is a fun dance/r&b track with some electric guitar thrown in. She even raps. You wouldn’t think it would work and yet somehow it does.
5. I Don’t Wanna Cry
The fourth single off the album and probably the most overlooked. It’s not as flashy as the others. However, it’s a beautiful heartbreaking song that deserved to go to the top of the charts.
4. Love Takes Time
The album was already finished and mastered when Mariah wrote LTT. She intended it for her next record, but the executives at Sony loved it and insisted she include it on MC instead. It’s another pretty breakup ballad. Her specialty.
For her third single, Mariah switched it up and put out an up-tempo new jack swing track. Over a very danceable beat she tells her ex that he’s going to regret letting her going and he’ll come crawling back someday. She knows her worth. Then she takes it home with an amazing high note. Where’s he going to find another girl that can do all that?
A very close 2nd to the top track here. Vanishing is the deep album cut that many fans point to as their favorite. It’s so simple yet so rich with the piano and her vocal runs that seem to go on forever.
1. Vison of Love
The song that introduced Mariah to the world quickly established her signature style. In 3 1/2 minutes she goes from incredible low notes to the highest of highs. It’s the definition of vocal gymnastics. Throw in a timeless melody and you have a hit. The fact that there was nothing like it out there at the time definitely contributed to its success. That uniqueness inspired Beyonce, Christina Aguilera, Kelly Clarkson, and countless other singers. Mariah’s vision completely changed the music scene.
Activist and writer Larry Kramer passed away yesterday at 84. Over the years, his writing was critically acclaimed and won many awards. But he’ll be remembered most for his unbridled activism. Kramer was on the frontlines when the AIDS epidemic began in the 1980s. He helped to form the Gay Men’s Health Crisis and later the more militant ACT UP. His approach was usually abrasive and confrontational. However, that anger was necessary in order to get people in power to implement changes. I enjoyed Kramer’s book Faggots and was moved by his play TheNormalHeart. I’m also very thankful for the battle he fought and the lives that it saved.
Naomi Campbell is beyond fierce. Since the 1990s, she has defined the term supermodel. She’s landed the best magazine covers, walked in every fashion show, and was featured in George Michael’s iconic “Freedom 90” video. Her face and walk are wondrous. Plus, she has that attitude that you want from a diva. In an industry that values youth, Naomi has defied expectations well after her supposed expiration date. Today, at 50, she’s still at the top of her game.
How to Build a Girl is a quirky endearing coming of age movie. Set in mid-90s England, it concentrates on sixteen-year-old outcast Johanna Morrigan (Beanie Feldstein), who is continually bullied at school. While her family is supportive, they are pretty unstable. Plus, the only “people” she can talk to are the pictures of famous figures on her wall that come to life in her fantasies. She’s desperately yearning for something to happen in her life and take her out of this mess. That something arrives in the form of a job at an indie rock magazine.
At first the douchey all-male staff dismisses Johanna, but she manages to win them over with her genuine writing talent. She takes it a step further by reinventing herself as Dolly Wilde, a brash, biting music critic. Armed with a new persona and look (shocking red hair and even louder outfits), Johanna’s star quickly rises. But she soon realizes that she doesn’t necessarily like the girl she has become.
The movie is adapted from Caitlin Moran’s memoir and her life makes for an unusual yet enjoyable story. You root for Johanna to succeed and cringe when she falls on her face. Feldstein is extremely charming in the role. She brings both heart and the humor to her character. I also thought it was great that director Coky Giedroyc wasn’t afraid to show Johanna as a sexual person. She hops from man to man, like a sexual anthropologist. Usually with plus-sized women in movies, their sexuality is downplayed or ignored. Giedroyc puts it all out there in a frank manner.
I liked the overall message of the film: being comfortable in your skin and owning who you are despite what others think. Johanna sees that she has built herself up into someone she doesn’t recognize, so she breaks it all down and rebuilds. She ultimately becomes the person she is most proud of. It’s something anyone can identify with, in your teen years and beyond.
It wasn’t until a few days after seeing Girl that I realized how much it reminded me of the 1994 comedy Muriel’s Wedding. They each feature outrageous young women that don’t fit in with the popular crowd and decide to make themselves over into someone new. Both protagonists have oddball families. Plus, music (ABBA, indie rock) is featured heavily. Feldstein’s Johanna also has a similar affable energy as Toni Collette’s Muriel. The two films would make a great double feature. Maybe at a drive-in.