‘Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris’: A Commentary

What happens when an English maid saves her money to buy a Christian Dior dress in 1957? “Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris” is a heart-warming tale full of coincidence, good people, the joy of chasing dreams and heartbreak. While it has all the appeal of your favorite bubble gum, with glorious effects, beautiful dresses, and a story that skirts the traditional Hollywood cliches, it adds just enough salt in heartache, mistakes and reality, to give it a bit of bite. “Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris” can be seen as so much more than it is and, maybe, isn’t.

If you just want to enjoy a simple film that’ll help you feel better about people and life, this offering from Director and Co-writer Anthony Fabian fits the bill. It doesn’t ask you to dig deeper, but it does tell you the water is warm if you choose to explore. Spoilers follow after the trailer, so bookmark this page, watch “Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris,” and come back when you’re done.

For 13 years, Mrs. Harris has been cleaning houses and holding onto hope that here husband will return from World War II. When she gets his ring in the mail, she has to come to terms with her loss. She knew it was coming, but the confirmation still hurts.

While cleaning for one of her rich clients, who refuses to settle the bill and complains about having to tighten her belt, Mrs. Harris sees a Christian Dior dress on the chair. It’s beautiful, and she’s instantly in love with the dress. The client tells her the dress is 500 British Pounds, and she needs to hide it from her husband. Mrs. Harris does so, and later, with a friend, she laughs at the idea of such an expensive dress.

To Be Seen

The dress is gorgeous, and it awakens Mrs. Harris’ joie de vivre. In it, she could find joy, happiness, and her sense of self. It’s only a dream without wings, so she laughs it off. However, this scene opens the eyes of the audience: “Something beautiful” or great clothes can change a person’s day and demeanor for the better. Clothes may not make the woman, but they can help her feel more positive about who she is, an idea that is explored in “My Fair Lady,” where Eliza Dolittle is dressed up like a doll and paraded around as possible royalty.

Here though, Mrs. Harris isn’t forced to wear the dress to help her appear as more than she is, societally speaking. She wants to wear it because it represents an inner need, an aspiration, a desire to be seen as a person, a vibrant woman, a human being, who is more than a cleaning woman. She doesn’t want to be invisible to those around her. This dress would, at the very least, allow her to see herself as a more fully formed woman.

Pursue Your Dreams

When Mrs. Harris wins a sports lotto, she decides she’s going to Paris to buy a Dior dress. The winnings from the lotto aren’t enough to get the dress, but they are enough to spur her into action. She tracks her income, saves her pennies, and gets invited to a dog race.

But this dream isn’t fulfilled on hard work or good luck. Instead, it’s built on a past tragedy, an honest action, and a good friend’s gift. Mrs. Harris goes to Paris – it’s the title of the film, so I guess it’s not really a spoiler. How she gets there is best left for you to see yourself.

Mrs. Harris’ pursuit of her dreams opens others up to pursuing their own dreams and passions. It’s as if the light she generates shows others the path forward. The lives she touches are better for her mere presence. When she actively engages, she gives people the opportunity to show their best selves and that allows them to follow their hearts’ desires.

Be Nice

Mrs. Harris is nice – too nice. She’s the kind of nice that people take advantage of without realizing they are doing so. Her trip changes her (a theme explored in the book “Bravely”). She’s still nice, and she still falls back into her old ways, but that’s a part of who she is. It’s what makes her likable, honest, and good. Paris teaches her to become assertive. Embracing her dream and being nice about it allow her to meet the boorish, rude snobs of the Dior world. Her cash on hand allows her to stay there. However, it’s her British sense of right, wrong, and order that helps her shake things up, creating a force of nature that may fail her but lifts up others before her.

Existential Crisis

Who is Mrs. Harris? Is she the cleaning lady or is there something more behind that mask? Ultimately that question – asked within the film – is something we will all have to face. Moreover, we will have to face it again and again in our lives, and every time the question is asked, we will have the opportunity to affirm the parts of us that are good and reject the parts that don’t serve us. We just have to seize the opportunity to find the better version of ourselves, regardless of our age, occupation, or others’ perceptions of who we might be.

“Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris” is perfectly enjoyable without thinking about any of it. The audience can find a good time and good film simply by feeling it. The layers are there though, if you care to look. I suggest doing both for this wonderful, heart- and eye-opening film.

This article uses affiliate links. If a link takes you to Amazon and you make a purchase, it won’t cost you any more. We get a small portion of the sale to help keep our writing and other web activities going. If you prefer to help in a more direct way, join our Patreon.

“Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris” has two other versions. One done in 1958 and the other done as a TV movie with Angela Lansbury.

Stay the F— Home: Activity #1 Videos Killed the Radio Star

If you are in self-isolation or quarantine, now’s the time to catch up on all those YouTube videos (I have a channel; you can subscribe.) you’ve wanted to see, and several you didn’t. Turn off your ad blocker, and find all of the creators who have been lucky enough to monetize their videos, and watch like crazy! (Or find those that have fewer than 1,000 subscribers, subscribe to them, and then watch all of their videos, so that they will be able to monetize their videos at some point in the future.) By starting with those who have monetized their YouTube, you’re doing two things at once:

Continue reading

Movie Buffs Rejoice! Russian Lobby Cards Coming to Lilac City Comicon 2019

If you love movies and movie memorabilia or you love a certain movie from the last couple of years, we’ll have something for you at the Penguinate table (A1). Our Russian lobby cards are double-sided advertisements for films given away at the Russian cinemas.

Lobby cards used to be a staple of the American cinema, but now, they are collectible and rarely seen at movie theaters in the United States. However, in Russia, movie cards are put out every week, and they are an exact replica of the Russian movie poster. We have brought a limited number of these cards from Russia to the U.S. for you to enjoy. These cards range in size from approximately 3×5 to 4×6 with some being more unique than others.

We have done our best to get the lobby cards from every film in the last year, and many of the cards are from foreign films. We have Marvel, Disney and DC lobby cards, as well as other top-rated films, including Godzilla 2.

Here is a complete list of the lobby cards we will be bringing to our table (A1) at Lilac City Comicon 2019. Come by and find your favorite movie (while supplies last).

24 Hours to Live
A Dog’s Way Home
A Quiet Place
A Star Is Born
Adrift
Alita Battle Angel
American Assassin
American Made
Animation Film Ad
Aritmia (Russia)
Asterix and the Secret Mission
Atterados (Argentina)
Baby Driver
Bad Mamas 2
Bad Samaritan
Bad Times at the El Royale
Bahubali: Birth of a Legend
Bicycles
Big Road (Russia)
Blade Runner 2049
Bohemian Rhapsody
Brothers (Russian)
Byez Mnya
Charming
Chernovik
Chudo-Yudo (Russia)
Coco
Cold Pursuit
Cold Skin (Atlantida; Spain)
Cold War
Corridor of Immortality (Russia)
Crimea (Russia)
Daddy’s Home 2
Dark Mirror (Russia)
Darkest Minds
Day of the Dead: Bloodline
Death Wish
Dessert Ad
Disney Aladdin
Disney Christopher Robin
Disney Dumbo
Disney Incredibles 2
Disney Mary Poppins Returns
Disney Ralph Breaks the Internet
Disney The Jungle Book
Disney The Last Warrior
Disney The Nutcracker and the Four Realms
Disney Wrinkle in Time
Disney Zoopolis
Disney: Beauty and the Beast
Dva Khvosta
Early Man
Equalizer 2
Escape Plan 2
Fantastic Beasts The Crimes of Grindewald
Ferdinand
First Man
Fixiki: The Big Secret
Foto na pamyat
Future World
Gangsterdam (France)
Geostorm
Ghostbusters
Giant Pear
Glass
Godzilla 2
Gogol Beginning (Russia)
Gogol Vii (Russia)
Gogol: Scary Place
Going Vertical (Russia)
Golem
Goosebumps 2
Green Book
Gringo
Halloween
Happiness! Health!
Happy Death Day
Hard Times (Russia)
Holmes and Watson
Hotel Transylvania 3
How to Train Your Dragon 3
I Feel Pretty
Island of Dogs
It
Jim Pykovka and Machinist Lucas
John Wick 3
Jonathan
Jumanji
Jungle
Jurassic World 2
Just Getting Started
Just not them (Russia)
Klubara (Russia)
Kong: Skull Island
Ladybug 2
Lego Film 2
Lego Ninjago
Life
Logan
London Fields
Lucky Logan
Magnificent 7
Mama
Marrowbone (Spain)
Marvel Ant-Man and Wasp
Marvel Avengers: Endgame
Marvel Captain Marvel
Marvel Kingsman: Golden Circle
Marvel Thor: Ragnorok
Marvel Venom
Marvel/ DC: Defenders (Russia)
Marvel/DC Hellboy
Marvel/DC Shazam
Marvel/DC: Justice League
Marvel/DC: Suicide Squad
Marvel: Avengers: Infinity War
Marvel: Black Panther
Marvel: Captain America: Civil War
Marvel: Deadpool 2
Marvel: Once Upon a Deadpool
Mary and the Witch’s Flower
Mary Queen of Scots
Mathilda (Russia)
May Bee
Maze Runner: The Death Cure
Meg
Midnight Sun
Millions (Russia)
Mission Impossible Fallout
Monster Family
Monster Island
Mortal Engines
Mowgli Decoy Planets
Murder on the Orient Express
My Favorite Dinosaur
My Little Pony
Nevedimka
Night Games
Niproshchenyi (Russian)
Niscrushimi (Russian)
Ocean’s 8
Overboard
Pacific Rim 2
Paddington 2
Peppermint
Pet Semetary
Piligrim (Russia)
Play or Die
Power Rangers
Prishelits (Russia)
Proza Brodyach Psob Anime
Rampage
Ready Player 1
Red Sparrow
Renegades
Ribbit
Robin Hood 2018
Robot Park Ad
Rossvet (Russia)
Santa and Company (France)
Saw 8
Searching
Second Act
Selfie from Hell
Serenity 2019
Shape of Water
Sicario 2
Skyline 2
Skyscraper
Smallfoot
Smurfs: The Lost Village
Snow Queen
Snowman
Spascti Leningrad
Star Wars: Solo
Star Wars: The Last Jedi
Suburbicon
Super Bobrovyi (Russia)
Tad and the Secret of King Midas
Tag
Tanks (Russia)
The Boy and the Beast
The Cured
The Curse of Llorna
The Dark Tower
The Foreigner
The Girl in the Spider’s Web
The Greatest Showman
The Hitman’s Bodyguard
The Hustle
The Kid Who Would Be King
The Legend of Kolovrat (Russia)
The Little Vampire
The Mercy
The Mountains Between Us
The New Year (Russia)
The Nun
The Predator 2018
The Professor and the Madman
The School (2018)
The Upside
Three Warriors and the nasledushi prestola
Three Warriors and the Princess of Egypt
Time of Monsters
Titan
Tobol (Russia)
Tomb Raider
Truth or Dare
Unsane
What Happened to Monday
Who Is Who
Widows
Wildling
Winchester: The house that Ghosts Built
Wish Upon
Wolf Obtsi
Wonder
Wonder Park
You Were Never Really Here
Your Name
Zapovednik (Russia)

How ‘Avengers: Endgame’ is helping Netflix

“Avengers: Endgame” is smashing records like Hulk smashed everything in his many movie and TV appearances. Above all, it’s performing well in China where it’s close enough to all-time records to be mentioned in the same breath as homegrown favorites like “The Wandering Earth.”

The fact that “The Wandering Earth debuted in February and had the highest IMAX gross, which was then beaten by Avengers, creates an interest in seeing the movie. Endgame could gross more in China than “The Wandering Earth” and creating an even greater interest in seeing the Chinese film. If it was that good, it must be worth seeing, and for those who want to be able to say anything intelligent about the heavyweight duel overseas, they’ll have to find a way to see ‘The Wandering Earth” and find out what made it such a huge hit in China. In steps Netflix to fill the gap.

By promoting it as something people can see, Netflix is effectively able to use the free advertising generated by the comparison between “The Wandering Earth” and Endgame to get views of a Chinese film most wouldn’t ordinarily even find to watch much less consider. If Netflix or other streaming services begin to capitalize on the comparisons that go on with box office incomes, we could see a slew of international films gaining steam first through streaming. Once Americans get used to seeing foreign films with subtitles, there’ll be no stopping the influx of new and better films.

Even if those foreign film studios are as mired in sequel-itis as U.S. studios are, the stories and concepts will be new and more original to U.S. audiences. That’s good for storytelling and creativity because foreign films can introduce different ideas and viewpoints into American culture. For now, Netflix gains with having “The Wandering Earth” available to stream, and having one more way to create buzz through using another studios success.

Wicked Comics Goes to the Movies and Every Comic Store Should Follow Suit

I have been to enough comic conventions to know that people who love comic books complain about the people who love the movies but don’t buy comic books. There’s a whole faction of geeks who love every issue of their favorite comic and consider someone who only knows the character from the movies and abomination.

Comic stores say they haven’t noticed an uptick in individuals coming into their store because of the film. For them, there just is no crossover. Perhaps, that’s because the comic stores need to take more initiative. Call it “The Avengers Initiative.”

A majority of movie-goers don’t go to comic stores. They probably don’t even know where the comic stores are. The simplest way for a comic store to attempt to harness the movie-goers who love the movies is to pay for an ad before the movie. Most movie theaters offer the opportunity to be in a slide show before the trailers. This offers an easy and less expensive way to get the word out about the shop, and placed before a “comic book” movie, it hits the target audience right where they live.

If the comic store can afford it, a comic store trailer, shot in high-def, should be appropriate for the movie screen. A trailer will even reach more people in their seats. Still, this isn’t the most effective way to reach people because most movie goers probably don’t have a reason to go to the store.

Setting up a booth with items themed to the film is the single best way to provide movie-goers an opportunity to find out about the comics. Any comic store that has also participated in a comic convention should already have the tools available to create a booth. By targeting the movie(s) in the theater at the time, a comic store can create an impulse buy and point of contact for new fans. Include a business card with every purchase, and you’re all set for getting new people involved in comics fandom.

It won’t be that easy. “Avengers: Endgame” openings promise to be chaotic. Imagine Free Comic Book Day without the giveaways. That also means more opportunities to generate revenue from the event.

National chain theaters may be less willing to give up lobby space for a booth. Of course, DC and Marvel could step in because it would be good for their comic sales and their movies. The theaters could see a rise in movie goers if the comic store is able to bring their patrons to the movie. Theaters also get the good will of comics fans and the advertisement that comes with the promotion of the event. A local theater may be more willing to partner with a local comic shop, and both could benefit from the exposure.

Most shops are run by one or two dedicated people. Having to give up a weekend, move everything, set up and take down is already a lot of stress. The change in routine, in addition to the increase in dealing with people who may not know what they want, can also be daunting, especially when there may not be any return. The keys to a successful theater run for a comic store setup is a willingness to get out of the comfort zone and a desire to improve sales at the store. Even if there aren’t any sales at the theater, the chance to meet people who love films can be worthwhile in and of itself.

Wicked Comics in Malta has partnered with Eden Cinemas for the opening weekend of “Avengers: Endgame” for Comic Fest. They will have booths, cosplayers, retro-gaming, performances, local artists’ booths and comics. It looks like they’ve organized a mini-comic convention to celebrate “Avengers: Endgame.” Wicked Comics organizes the annual Malta Comic Con, so they have a head start on any comic store that may not have organized events outside the store before.

Private showings are already sponsored by larger comic conventions like Salt Lake’s Fan X’ “Avengers: Endgame” screening. They could add a comic store component to the screening, giving people more opportunity to purchase from local businesses.

It may be too late for comic stores to partner with movie theaters for “Avengers: Endgame,” but it can be something to keep in mind for the next big movie. Of course, it doesn’t have to be applied to just Marvel movies. Disney’s “Frozen 2” and DC’s next film could also make for good opportunities to partner with a local movie theater.

Take a break with quirky ‘Aloha’

Aloha” (2015) brings broken Brian Gilchrist (Bradley Cooper) back to his Hawaiian military roots as a contractor designated to get the blessing of the king of Hawaii for a military base’s pedestrian gate, which would allow private contractors access to the launch area of the military base. Gilchrist is assigned Fighter Pilot Allison Ng (Emma Stone) as his military watchdog for his time in Hawaii. There is a love triangle involving quiet man Woody (John Krasinski) and his wife Tracy (Rachel McAdams), who also happens to be Gilchrist’s ex from 13 years ago.

The real problems arise when Ng discovers that billionaire Carson Welch (Bill Murray) has put a nuke in the payload of the rocket being sent into space. Weapons aren’t allowed in the sky, and this would violate treaties. However, because Welch is a private citizen, it falls in a gray area; he never signed a treaty. Gilchrist is faced with the choice of further disgrace and saving the sky or keeping his lucrative job and losing Ng.

Stone chews the scenery as the intense, socially awkward, quarter Hawaiian, who loves the sky and Hawaiian mythology. Krasinski provides an amazing performance as the man who doesn’t talk much. Cooper and McAdams are good in their roles as is the rest of the cast, which includes Murray, Alec Baldwin, and Danny McBride.

“Aloha” is a surprisingly good film. It’s low key nature and quirky characters provide an interesting family/friend drama. If you need to find your way back to yourself, there are worse places to do it than Hawaii. Welcome to a pleasant diversion, or as they say on the islands – Aloha!

Read more about the islands with these links on Hawaii.

Roger Ebert and What I Learned from the Nostalgia Critic about Living a Better Life

In the Nostalgia Critic’s tribute video to Roger Ebert, the Nostalgia Critic unpacks a lot of wisdom and lays it out for the viewer. What he sees in Roger Ebert is amazing, and what the Nostalgia Critic sees should be what we all strive to be.

Continue reading

The Problem with ‘the Single’ in Disney’s Movie Business

In his examination of Disney’s “Dumbo,” “Forbes” writer Scott Mendelson laments the Disney Company’s penchant for releasing big budget films that have already been made, including the live-action remakes of animated classics and the multiple sequels that Disney has released over the course of roughly the last decade, and while he acknowledges that the studios are in part to blame, he also lays the blame on movie goers. “The studios can’t responsibly green-light what they know audiences will not go to see in theaters.”

The Dollars and Sense of It All

In 1984, when Michael Eisner became CEO of the Disney Company, the top grossing movie was “Beverly Hills Cop” with almost $235 million and $316 million worldwide. Disney’s movie releases were in the tank and not making what they should be with a few exceptions. In 1984, Touchstone’s “Splash” opened at No. 1 on the chart and grossed over $69 million (Box Office Mojo) by the time it finished its run; it cost $8 million to make. The film was a huge success at the time, and it brought in about $62 million profit.

Eisner looked at the situation and decided that Disney and its movie making companies would make smaller budget films that would make money rather than hope for a summer blockbuster that could fail. They were going to hit singles rather than try for homeruns. In 1986, “Ruthless People,” “Down and Out in Beverly Hills” and “The Color of Money” were released with grosses of $71, $62 and $52 million making them the 9th, 11th and 12th highest grossing movies of the year. Eisner’s strategy was successful, and Disney carved out a niche with these low budget, over-performing types of films.

Flash forward to 2018 and the surprise hit (not Disney) “A Quiet Place.” With a budget of $17 million dollars, this is the type of film Disney would’ve happily made in the 1980s. The movie made $340 million dollars worldwide ($323 million profit). Marvel’s “Black Panther” cost about $200 million to make and brought in over $1.3 billion; domestically, it was the top grossing film of the year. It would take about three “A Quiet Place” size releases to make the same amount of profit as “Black Panther.” However, “Black Panther” was a surprise in its own way.

Marvel’s sure thing for the year was “The Avengers: Infinity War” – a sequel, which according to the just over $2 billion box office gross, you’re probably familiar with. The estimates for the cost of the film run between $300 million and $400 million. Even on the high side of the estimate, the film brought in $1.6 billion, or the rough equivalent of five “A Quiet Places.”

I understand these numbers aren’t exact. There are marketing costs to consider as well as what the actual theaters make, which is different depending on the country. However, the point is it doesn’t make any sense for a company that brings in $12.6 billion (2018 net income) to worry about $10 or $20 million, the budget of “A Quiet Place” for a return of only $323 million. As Mendelson pointed out, Disney had taken risks with “Tomorrowland” (profit at a scant $20 million), “The Finest Hours” (losses estimated at $20 million), and “The Queen of Katwe” (estimated loss of $5 million). These movies didn’t return enough profit to justify their existence.

Other Sources of Income

When “Star Trek” dolls were released and the series ended, the sales of the toys dried up as well. There wasn’t anyway to remind people about the purpose of the toys without the show. When “Star Trek: The Next Generation” returned the Star Trek universe to television, toy sales skyrocketed.

In 1983, Funimation released “He-Man and the Masters of the Universe” after Reagan deregulated children’s programming. The show was designed to sell He-Man action figures. Once it made it on the air and He-Man sales sky-rocketed every toy company got involved in Saturday Morning Cartoons: “Transformers,” “Go-Bots,” “M.A.S.K.,” “Jem and the Holograms,” and “G.I. Joe” to name a few. Whether the show or the action figures came first is of little consequence, what mattered was that some of the cartoons were pulled from the air not because of the cartoons’ popularity, but because the toys lacked sales.

Disney’s synergistic approach to marketing means the media giant isn’t looking just at the movies. It’s also looking at what it can make from tie-ins. Dumbo’s new movie release, regardless of how it’s received, sells more stuffed Dumbos. Marvel’s movies sell more superhero action figures, Lego sets, and whatever else they put their characters on. These things all bring in more money. Disney princesses outsell Barbie now are a multi-billion-dollar market segment. Their inclusion in “Ralph Breaks the Internet” keeps them fresh, updates them for this generation and keeps the product moving. The Disney company not only needs to create movie sequels and remakes because they are smaller financial risks, but also because they sell more toys, products and Disney park experiences.

What’s It All Mean?

There’s no incentive for Disney to green-light smaller film projects, even if they become the next “A Quiet Place.” The movie industry can only stand so many new films before there aren’t enough movie-goers to see them all. Worse, people say they want new stories, but they only think they want new stories. Audiences still flock to their favorite characters and movie franchises because its an acceptable risk. To spend $10 to $15 on a movie that you may not like or know nothing about doesn’t make much sense when you know that Marvel (or DC or Pixar) has a release right around the corner.

Moreover, Disney can make more money from product friendly franchises that it can tie into its theme parks than it ever could from a movie that has to stand on its own two legs. This all becomes more problematic with Disney’s recent acquisition of 20th Century Fox, and it’s looming control of 40 to 50 percent of the box office. The studios will have to schedule movies so they don’t cut into each other’s profits, which will mean fewer movies and fewer opportunities for a smaller film to get made.

For more on the Disney Company, preorder “Penguinate! The Disney Company.

‘Dumbo’ Takes Flight in Dark Fantasy

Tim Burton’s “Dumbo” is a cavalcade of stars with visually stunning environments that pays homage to the original while remaining wholly its own thing. With a visionary like Burton at the helm, it should come as nor surprise what direction the film takes. It is surprisingly dark, surprisingly, adult, surprisingly terrifying, and perhaps most surprising of all, endearing.

Michael Keaton, Eva Green, Alan Arkin, Danny Devito, and Colin Ferrell are great. I particularly enjoyed seeing Joe Gatt (whom I met at Malta Comics and Pop Culture Expo in Malta); he’s the man.

Dumbo pokes fun at Disneyland and provides a look at animal cruelty. It’s “pink elephant” segment is amazing to behold, especially considering the cinematic origin of the scene.

Burton’s “Dumbo” won’t provide a template for “the Lion King,” “Aladdin” or any of Disney’s other creativity lacking tentpoles, but it should. Bringing something new to the story is what keeps it fresh. Bravo to Burton and his beautiful pachyderm portrait.

For more on the Disney Company, preorder “Penguinate! The Disney Company,” which includes “Frozen 2” plots Disney probably never considered. “Disneyland Is Creativity” is available today! You can also preorder “The Haunted Mansion Is Creativity.