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Amanda Glam
home : features : amanda glam
January 17, 2022


1/13/2022 5:01:00 PM
Amanda's Picks

Amanda Glam
Entertainment Writer


Being the Ricardos
If you have Amazon Prime, you don’t have to leave your house to see Nicole Kidman in Being the Ricardos (R for language). Kidman plays Lucille Ball and Javier Bardem is Desi Arnaz in Aaron Sorkin's retelling of a week in the lives of the then biggest TV stars in the country. While filming the iconic sitcom, I Love Lucy, the couple deal with Arnaz’s alleged infidelity and an investigation into Ball’s ties to the Communist Party. Oh, and the biggest star on TV is also, gasp, pregnant and nobody has any idea how to deal with that in 1950s television. Meanwhile, the show must go on.
Being the Ricardos is most entertaining when it takes us behind the scenes of the TV show. We meet the writers, played by Tony Hale, Jake Lacy and Alia Shawkat who engage in some very Sorkinian patter. We learn how Ball may have played a scatterbrained housewife, but she spent hours analyzing scenes and fixing them for the better. The movie also shows the delicate balance of power between Ball, Arnaz, the producers and the show’s sponsors.
There’s a lot going on in Being the Ricardos: flashbacks telling the history of the couple’s relationship, Ball’s struggle to be taken seriously as an actress, how Hollywood treats “older” women, a couple of recreated scenes from the sitcom and a history lesson on the Red scare of the 50s.
We also meet your favorite next-door neighbors Fred and Ethel Mertz. Vivian Vance (Nina Arianda) is not a happy camper. The actress is not cool with being the frumpy friend married to that old grouch Fred. That would be William Frawley (J.K. Simmons) who nearly steals the movie. Frawley isn’t very nice to Vance and he does like to drink, but Simmons gets a sweet scene with Kidman so we don’t want to smack him in the face.
But Amanda, you ask, what about Kidman and Bardem? Kidman easily sells the most dramatic scenes but does not have a handle on Ball’s physicality and natural humor. Bardem may not look like Arnaz, but he has his voice down pat and a bit more energy and natural charisma than Kidman.
Sorkin the writer, plays a bit fast and loose with some facts, but makes up for it with his trademark quick and clever dialogue. I wish Sorkin the director had trimmed some of the fat from Being the Ricardos. There’s a lot of story here and most of the plotlines don’t get the attention they deserve. Personally, I’m all for the Mertzes getting their own miniseries.
Being the Ricardos: 3 out of 5 stars
Nicole Kidman: 4.5 out of 5 stars


The Eyes of Tammy Faye
Where Kidman falls short in bringing Lucy to life, Jessica Chastain nails her subject, Tammy Fay Bakker, in The Eyes of Tammy Faye (PG-13) available on HBO Max. Chastain is brilliant in a demanding role that never becomes a caricature. You’ll recognize Chastain as the naive and pious college student and struggling newlywed performing Christian puppet shows on the road with her husband Reverend-to-be Jim Bakker (Andrew Garfield). Then the fake eyelashes, lip liner and wigs come out and Chastain becomes unrecognizable as the Tammy Faye we remember.
Chastain and Director Michael Showalter obviously like and respect Tammy Faye. They portray her as a kind-hearted, religious woman with a disapproving mom and a husband who neglects her. In the 1970s and 80s she and Jim became superstars of Christian broadcasting. Jim seems to know that Tammy with her enthusiastic singing and upbeat attitude is the star of the show. When Jim and Tammy Faye become fur coat in summer and gold sink wealthy, she doesn’t go all Housewives of Atlanta. Tammy Faye craves love more than material wealth and the best source of that love is her audience. When the Bakkers are caught in several scandals and lose everything, it’s the audience or “partners” that Tammy Faye misses the most.
While The Eyes of Tammy Faye does explore Tammy Faye’s addiction to pills, marriage problems and very briefly, Jim Bakker’s alleged homosexuality, it skimps on details of the couple’s off-camera relationship. Also oddly ignored are the Bakker’s kids who basically disappear after childbirth. Did Tammy like being a mother? Was Jim a good dad? Did they do anything as a family? The movie briefly looks at Tammy Faye’s post-divorce comeback as a reality show star, but smartly ends before Tammy Faye became ill and died from cancer in 2007. The Eyes of Tammy Faye isn’t perfect but it sheds light on a woman who many remember only for her mascara and boasts one of the strongest performances of the year.
The Eyes of Tammy Faye: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Jessica Chastain: 5 out of 5 stars
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