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Rob Edelman: More Bits And Pieces

One of the co-hosts of the recent Golden Globe awards was a now-familiar face. That would be Sandra Oh. She certainly has earned this distinction, as she has won numerous prizes for her screen and stage work. Briefly, Sandra Oh is Canadian-born to Korean parents, and her proud mom and dad, who were present during the Globes, clearly have savored her achievements. And this reminded me of one of her earliest successes. That would be DOUBLE HAPPINESS, an independent feature written and directed by Mina Shum and released in 1994.

DOUBLE HAPPINESS is the insightful, refreshingly uncliched tale of a freethinking young Chinese-Canadian woman, appealingly played by Sandra Oh: an aspiring actress whose Old World parents are pressuring her to find a boyfriend and marry. However, her mom and dad are not depicted as stereotypically stodgy villains. They just have their own way of living and thinking, and want what they feel is best for the daughter they love. Bright touches of humor also make this a most charming entertainment. I recently revisited DOUBLE HAPPINESS, and am pleased to report that it remains highly recommended.

Moving on to Melissa McCarthy, one popular actor whose career took off after being cast in what essentially is a stereotype: a loud-mouthed, overweight, very funny lady. Meanwhile, Mahershala Ali is another popular actor who rose above the crowd, earning a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for playing another stereotype: a drug dealer. One can spend hours citing examples of movie actors who become known for playing a certain type of role and finding it oh-so-difficult to bust out of that certain type of role. 

Happily, this is not the case with Melissa McCarthy and Mahershala Ali. There is nothing laugh-out-loud funny about McCarthy’s character in CAN YOU EVER FORGIVE ME?, a fact-based dramedy that came to theaters in late-2018. Here, the words “dramatic” and “pathetic” best-describe the character in which she is cast in CAN YOU EVER FORGIVE ME? And as for Ali, his role in GREEN BOOK also is fact-based, and is very unstereotypical. His character is a classical musician who prefers Chopin to Chuck Berry or Little Richard. Indeed, it is a pleasure to savor actors like Melissa McCarthy and Mahershala Ali as they transcend typecasting.

Finally, here is one more example of the manner in which the entertainment industry is fast-changing. For I-don’t-know-how-long, prizewinning films more than likely would have been released by a major studio: Paramount, for example, or Columbia, or Warner Bros. Plus, their TV series equivalents would have originated on CBS, ABC, or NBC. However, we live in a very different world-- and it is not at all surprising that a recent report on the Internet Movie Data Base was headlined: “Big Wins for Amazon Studios at the 2018 Golden Globes.”

Rob Edelman teaches film history courses at the University at Albany. He has contributed to many arts and baseball-related publications; his latest book, which he co-edited, is From Spring Training To Screen Test: Baseball Players Turned Actors. His frequent collaborator is his wife, fellow WAMC film commentator Audrey Kupferberg.

The views expressed by commentators are solely those of the authors. They do not necessarily reflect the views of this station or its management.

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