Movie Review: Some Like It Hot

Rating: 4 out of 5

If you guessed my birthday, you would be correct! I’m officially 24, transitioning from my “Screwing up is encouraged” early twenties to “Maybe we should get it together?” mid twenties.

And while I don’t always feel like a full-fledged adult–given that I ate pizza for breakfast today and am still on my family’s cell phone plan–I also don’t think that milking my metabolism and rollover minutes is the end of the world.

I mean, it’s days like my birthday where I’m actually proud of myself. I’ve got a Master’s degree and a great job, with enough money to save, invest, and pay my crazy expensive rent and student loan.

I’ve also got a loving family and fantastic friends who threw me an Old Hollywood-themed birthday party! We made martinis and margaritas, stuffed ourselves with Chinese food, and played fun games.

Did your bday party have a "Wuthering Heights" guestbook?

Did your bday party have a “Wuthering Heights” guestbook?

We also watched Billy Wilder’s “Some Like It Hot” (1959). This film is set in 1929 and stars Marilyn Monroe as Sugar “Kane” Kowalczyk, a young woman in a female band called “Sweet Sue and her Society Syncopators,” which is headed to Miami.

Actors Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon play Joe and Jerry respectively, two Chicago musicians on the run after they accidentally witness the Saint Valentine’s Day Massacre. To escape the mob, they dress up as Josephine and Daphne and board the Syncopators’ train.

Image via The Guardian

Of course, with Monroe being the blonde bombshell that she is, both men compete for her affections–which is difficult and hilarious while they’re dressed as women. I won’t give anything away, but it’s definitely a fun flick to watch with your girlfriends.

I must admit that I was pleasantly surprised with “Some Like It Hot.” I’ve never been one to glorify Monroe, but I had read and seen “My Week with Marilyn.” I’ve also decided to watch more classic films, but have been mostly disappointed so far. I guess I’ll just to have to accept that I don’t understand what all the fuss is about over Audrey Hepburn. So while I may not want my breakfast at Tiffany’s, “Some Like It Hot” was full of crazy antics and funny one-liners.

And if you’re wondering why a book blogger is writing a review of this film, then check out my last post where I reviewed “Nerds Like It Hot” by Vicki Lewis Thompson. In the book, Thompson alters the plot: Instead of the male leads running from the Mafia, it’s the female protagonist with the hit on her. And to further her disguise, she puts on a blonde wig and dresses up as Marilyn herself.

On its own, “Nerds Like It Hot” wasn’t the best read from Thompson, but I appreciated this movie even more because it was fun to compare the two stories. This was the first film I watched of Marilyn, not just about her, and I’m glad that I did. I’d love to hear what you think of the actress–and would appreciate more classic movie recommendations to add to my list!

Lastly, thanks to everyone who’s been following this blog. It’s been a blast being Book Club Babe, and I hope to continue doing so for many more birthdays!


Book Review: Nerds Like It Hot

Cover via Goodreads

Rating: 2 out of 5

Hey everybody! I’ve finally got a break from traveling for a few days–that is, before I head back to my hometown to spend my birthday with family and friends. But I might have to blow out my candles wishing for a better read, since this last book was a disappointment.

I’ve been a fan of romance novelist Vicki Lewis Thompson for years now, having read six of the eight stand-alone novels in her Nerd series (Check out my reviews of My Nerdy Valentine and Gone With the Nerd).

In Nerds Like It Hot, Hollywood makeup artist Gillian McCormick witnesses a murder, and to avoid being eliminated by the mob, she goes into hiding on a cruise for single geeks.

By her side is former actress Cora Bledsoe, who makes Gillian over to be the spitting image of her friend Marilyn Monroe. And guarding Gillian are two private investigators, Dante Fiorello and Lex Manchester.

Despite being hunted down by the Mafia, Gillian and Lex manage to grow fond of each other. Unlike in other Thompson novels, their sexual tension builds extremely quickly, which eliminates the anticipation that makes romance novels successful.

Not to mention, their first love scene ends just as rapidly as it began! I’ll just say that if there’s one thing required of a male lead, it’s stamina. Talk about frustrating!

What’s also frustrating is the forced emotional obstacles that Gillian places on her relationship with Lex. First, for some reason she believes that no man would love her plain Jane brunette exterior after disguising herself as a Marilyn Monroe, blonde bombshell. Someone needs to inform this makeup artist that true beauty lies on the inside.

Also, she frequently harps on the fact that she’s a Cancer and he’s an Aries, as if that means anything. Any woman who throws a hissy fit over astrological incompatibility doesn’t deserve the brain she was born with. Enough with the stupid pseudoscience!

Lastly, even though the dangerous criminal was unique and hilarious, the novel suffers from the too-easily-solved plot of the romance genre. I like knowing that there will always be a happy ending, but authors should try their best to make the suspense believable.

With the Nerd novels, I expect geeky, sexy fun. Unfortunately, the characters aren’t nearly geeky enough (good grades does not a nerd make), the sex was often awkward, and any fun that occurred was only thanks to the secondary characters with little screen time.

Perhaps I’ll appreciate this story more after watching the film, “Some Like It Hot” at my Old Hollywood-themed birthday party, as I’m sure Thompson threw more nods to Monroe than I was able to catch.

But for now, I just might be outgrowing the Nerd series. If anyone has better romance novel recommendations, let me know!

Book Review: My Week with Marilyn

Rating: 3 out of 5

It’s been much too long since I’ve last blogged, but after coming down with a cold, my latest review was delayed. Although my particular volume consisted of both My Week with Marilyn and The Prince, The Showgirl, and Me, I’ve chosen to read and review only the former, since it was the main basis for the film adaptation starring Michelle Williams (the review of which you can read here).

The memoir was written by Colin Clark, who in 1956 worked with Marilyn Monroe as an assistant director on the set of “The Prince and the Showgirl.” Clark became a renowned writer and filmmaker later in life, but during this time, he was merely a gofer for anyone else on set.

That’s not to say you should pity Clark. The man came from a very privileged, educated family, who treated celebrities like the Oliviers like a part of their own. So his lowly yes-man outlook is hard to believe, especially when Monroe starts to take a fancy to him.

Many are skeptical of their brief relationship, since Clark only wrote about it as a postscript to his memoir when people noticed that nine days were missing from his records. Given the fact that Monroe was married to playwright Arthur Miller at the time, Clark asserts that he never actually consorted in a sexual affair, but getting to kiss the most famous actress while she’s topless in the river is certainly not innocent behavior.

Neither is Monroe’s infamous downward spiral. While she struggled with abandonment issues, low self-esteem, and an addiction to prescription drugs, Clark experienced first-hand just how difficult falling in love with her can be. The juxtaposition between the Hollywood glamour that Monroe projected on the outside and the emotional trauma she suffered on the inside is easily the most intriguing aspect of this story.

However, I felt that the movie took Clark’s diary entries and gave them the entertainment value they were lacking. It followed his recollections closely, except his last thoughts after her death. The film ended with Clark reminiscing fondly on Monroe, slightly heartbroken but still soaking in her glory. The book, on the other hand, revealed an older, wiser man who was so frustrated and weary of her antics that he felt relieved when he escaped a phone call with her a year before she died.

I think what I enjoyed most about My Week with Marilyn is what Clark didn’t have to write down. Monroe never let anyone in, because she was too afraid of them leaving her forever. This lack of trust contributed to her destructive behavior, which ended up pushing everyone around her away–thus, creating a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Obviously, memoirs aren’t for everybody, and if you aren’t the slightest bit intrigued about Marilyn Monroe or her costars, you might as well pass on this book. It’s not the most exciting rendezvous, but for getting to spend even a week with such a legend, Clark will also go down in history.

Movie Reviews: “My Week with Marilyn” and “Midnight in Paris”

This month I’ve watched a couple films with literary themes, and I’m finally getting around to letting you know what I think of them. Don’t worry, I’ve got two books to review in the near future, but let’s just say life has been throwing me so many curve-balls at once that they got put on the back-burner temporarily.

Image via Wikipedia

“My Week with Marilyn” (2011)

Rating: 4 out of 5

This British drama directed by Simon Curtis stars Michelle Williams as Marilyn Monroe and Eddie Redmayne as Colin Clark, a young man yearning to become a filmmaker who has the chance to work with Monroe on her movie, “The Prince and the Showgirl” in 1956. This film was adapted from the real Clark’s tell-all book, titled The Prince, The Showgirl and Me.

The movie follows Clark’s infatuation with Monroe, as she struggles to make her mark in the acting world. She is portrayed as very capricious, reflective and insightful one moment, hysterical and popping pills the next. Williams does an excellent job depicting Monroe’s constant need for validation, and her inner turmoil which causes her to incite so many extramarital affairs (as she is married to third husband, playwright Arthur Miller, at the time).

Because of her fickle nature, Clark gets his heart broken and learns a valuable lesson about love. The movie’s production ends, and so does their short relationship. Actress Emma Watson is adorable playing a much more realistic love interest for Clark: It must have been hard watching men fall to the feet of Monroe on a daily basis!

And I think that’s the best part about this film. Even though I am not obsessed with Monroe like some young women, because I refuse to ignore her dark side, this movie highlights that juxtaposition between admired actress and disturbed young woman. She may have a screw loose at times, but you fall in love with her anyways, just like Clark.

Even if you’re not a Monroe fan, you’ll enjoy this film. (Rotten Tomatoes rating: 84%)

Image via Wikipedia

“Midnight in Paris” (2011)

Rating: 3 out of 5

I was more skeptical watching this film, because I don’t really like Woody Allen, but this romantic comedy directed by him wasn’t terrible. I liked the premise, which follows American Gil Pender (played by Owen Wilson) as he spends a vacation with his fiancee (Rachel McAdams) in Paris.

Pender’s a screenwriter who glorifies Paris in the 1920s, where literary expatriates reigned supreme. Then, after getting drunk one midnight, he finds himself actually in the ’20s meeting the same authors and artists he admires. It was fun watching Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Picasso, and others shown on screen, and all the actors did a great job with their characters.

I just wish that I could’ve liked Pender more. Most of the time he comes off obnoxious, and I feel his fiancee’s frustration. It’s clear from the beginning that they’re very incompatible. However, I enjoyed Allen’s message that we shouldn’t dream of a “Golden Age,” because living in the past takes away from the present moment. And the people and places you may consider perfect might actually yearn for an even earlier time.

Again, Woody Allen’s not my cup of tea, but the film got rave reviews, so if you can’t get enough of this literary era, check it out for yourself (Rotten Tomatoes rating: 93%)