May your heart be a little lighter,
your smile a little brighter,
your wallet a little thicker,
and your world a little kinder,
today and every day in this New Year.
This HBO premiere, airing Dec. 26 at 8 pm, is the film version of the hit off-Broadway one-man show of the same name. British comedian Jonny Donahoe is outstanding in this show written by Duncan Macmillan, describing a man whose life has been lived in the shadow of his mother’s suicide. When he was seven, his mother first tried to take her life; the young boy’s reaction was to make a list pointing out all the wonderful things in life worth living for. Ice cream is one of the first entries, and they go on from there, the color yellow, a good book, chocolate, and so on. As the boy grows up, his mother again attempts suicide when he is a teenager, and his list continues, but changes with the wants and likes of a teenager. Again as an adult, the mother tries again. The son continues on with his list, and continues to deal with the myriad of emotions such a family dynamic brings.
One unusual aspect of this play turned film is the audience participation. Members are given items from the list to read out, and also act out key figures in the narrator’s life. The audience members do such a good job, you wonder if they are actually actors paid for the role!
At turns funny, sad, poignant, and utterly unique, this engaging film is the perfect antidote to the holiday blues many of us feel this time of year. With the challenges and pitfalls of family life and the holidays forefront on our minds, this film is perfect for the day after Christmas. With honesty, humor and insight, this film addresses depression, suicide, and the effects of them on family members for years to come. Skillfully directed by Emmy Award winning directors Randy Barbato and Fenton Bailey, this film is highly recommended.
As noted in the film, every 38 seconds someone in the United States attempts suicide. Anyone who is depressed or contemplating suicide needs to immediately reach out for help and support.
Thursday night I had one of the most enjoyable and exciting evenings I have ever covered. It was at the Sunset Marquis Hotel and Morrison Gallery Holiday Party in West Hollywood. The party was held on the grounds of the glamorous and exclusive Sunset Marquis Hotel. This holiday event was also to spotlight the photography of Timothy White. Mr. White is a well-known, successful photographer, and had his beautiful photographs of celebrities, musicians, actors, etc. artfully displayed and sold in the hotel gallery. The event was co-hosted by the actor and musician Billy Bob Thornton, a friend of Mr. White, who attended with his wife and some friends.
Unfortunately, it was raining quite steadily last night, so the lovely grounds of the hotel were somewhat damp and inaccessible. However, the party carried on gallantly despite the weather. The hotel had provided covered tents and umbrellas which helped, also much of the party was held indoors at the upscale bars, restaurants and lounges of the hotel.
The food was plentiful and absolutely delicious. There was an outstanding band composed of several top-notch musicians. The talented and entertaining singer Brenna Whitaker took the stage for most of the evening. There were probably over four hundred people in attendance, and while it was crowded, the staff kept everyone comfortable.
Most folks there were in a delightful holiday mood, and there were also some lovely ladies dressed up in colorful naughty Santa outfits to further lighten the spirits.
Although it was difficult to find him among the crowd, finally I spotted Billy Bob Thornton outside in the drizzle, talking with some friends. I went up and introduced myself and asked if he would kindly allow some photos. He could not have been more kind and accommodating, a true gentleman. We spoke easily about his musical endeavors, and he mentioned he has a new album coming out soon. I have downloaded some of his music, which is available on iTunes, etc. He is quite an accomplished musician, as well as the powerful and natural actor we all know and love. While I didn’t dare take up much of his time, the few minutes we spent together made a lasting impression.
For more photos visit my Flickr page here flickr.com/photos/joybennett/. For more information about the Sunset Marquis Hotel, visit sunsetmarquis.com. For more about Mr. White’s photography visit timothywhite.com, and for more information about Mr. Thornton and his music, visit billybobthornton.net.
Many thanks to the Sunset Marquis Hotel and Kiva at The Press House for this very memorable evening, and to Mr. Thornton for taking the time to make this humble blogger feel as important as Diane Sawyer herself.
Girls Lost is an unusual and fascinating film, another gem distributed by Wolfe Video. It tells the engaging story of three extremely close-knit high school girls. They are miserable in school though -- bullied and tormented by the punk high school boys. The three soon discover a magical flower that can transform them into boys, and, being adventurous high school kids, they decide to drink its nectar. Voila, the bullying stops, and the boys on the sports field not only stop tormenting them, but also befriend them as equals and friends.
Girls Lost is a unique tale told from the perspective of high schoolers, but will appeal to anyone who has ever wanted to fit in, wondered about their identity, or wished they could somehow even for a day be someone else. The acting is extremely good -- natural and unforced, despite how challenging it must have been. Surprisingly, for most of these young actors, it is their acting debut.
It’s a film that combines elements of sci fi, paranormal, drama and humor. You will be impressed with the movie’s originality and well-crafted filmmaking. The soundtrack is also quite good.
Writer/director Alexandra-Therese Keining (Director of the film Kiss Me) handles these diverse elements with skill and seamlessly blends them all together in an enjoyable and thought-provoking film. In Swedish with English subtitles. Released today 12/13/16 in the U.S. and Canada via Wolfe Video and available on DVD, Video on Demand and through iTunes, Vimeo on Demand, WolfeonDemand.com, and in many major retailers.