Monday, May 21, 2018

Victoria & Abdul 2017


     This film is based on a book by Shrabani Basu.  Abdul Karim and Mohammed arrive in the United Kingdom of 1887 from India.  They have sailed across the ocean to honor Queen Victoria with a mohur.  It is a special coin minted for her golden jubilee and a token of appreciation from British-ruled India.  Victoria is in her 80’s and she has a feeling of being constricted by her role as the Queen.  She has had a reign of over 63 years and she mourns for her husband Albert and also for John Brown.  He was a Scottish personal attendant and a favorite of the Queen for many years.  Abdul is like a breath of fresh air to her soul.  He isn’t jockeying for position and stature in the household like all the other men and women including her son Bertie.  Victoria and Abdul form an alliance and a true friendship.  The members of the household become green with jealousy and envy.  They are constantly on the lookout for a way to find out shameful information about Abdul in order to smear his reputation or background with the Queen.  They are hoping this information or some other reason can be used to put Abdul back on any boat to India!!
     This is good and interesting.  I was surprised about the loneliness and lack of friendship suffered by Victoria.  The Queen may be the monarch of the United Kingdom but she is still thinking of how many years she may have left on earth.  She is not in the best of health with a variety of ailments due to old age.  She was also stout, dowdy, only about five feet tall but she projected a grand image and she could be very stern when challenged.  Victoria called Abdul “the Munshi” which means clerk or teacher and he was with her during the final fifteen years of her reign.  I thought it was wonderful that he became a bright spot in her days.  3 ½* (I liked this movie) 

111 min, Bio directed by Stephen Frears with Judi Dench, Ali Fazal, Tim Pigott-Smith, Eddie Izzard, Adeel Akhtar, Michael Gambon, Paul Higgins, Olivia Williams, Fenella Woolgar, Julian Wadham, Robin Soans, Ruth McCabe, Simon Callow.

Note:  Imdb 6.8 out of 10, 66% critic 68% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 3*, Amazon 4.3* out of 5* with 736 reviews, Metacritic 58 out of 100 with 34 critics 5.8 out of 10 with 53 reviews.
Special Note:  Filmed in Highland, Scotland; Isle of Wight, Leicestershire, Hertforshire, Surrey, North Yorkshire, Buckinghamshire, Kent, London, England, UK; Uttar Pradesh and Delhi, India.  At the beginning of filming, Judi Dench was one month older than the age of Queen Victoria when she died in 1901.  Jane Spencer, the Baroness Churchill died one month prior to Queen Victoria.  She served as Lady of the Bedchamber from 1854 until her death and was the longest serving member of the queen’s personal household.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Something Wild 1961


     Mary Ann Robinson is an attractive young woman living in The Bronx, New York.  She’s attending City College and she lives with her parents.  Her mother is neurotic and overbearing.  Her stepfather goes to work and comes home.  Mary is walking home and she is attacked when a man drags her into the woods.  She stays there in the woods for a time and then she goes home.  She lets herself into the house very quietly and she takes a bath.  She uses scissors to cut every piece of clothing she was wearing into small bits and she flushes them down the toilet.  She doesn’t tell anyone what happened.  She takes the subway to college the next day but there are too many people pressing against her.  She faints and a police car takes her home.  Her mother finds this to be very embarrassing and mortifying!!
     Mary changes everything about her life and her parents don’t know where she is or what she’s doing.  Mary is going through a lot of psychological changes without any support system.  Actually, she is suffering from post-traumatic shock disorder but no one knows anything about this problem in this time period.  She can’t tell her parents, they will never think of her in the same way again?  She can’t continue going to college like she had been doing either?  She wants to curl up into a ball and never have contact or be with people again if there is a way to do this?   3 ½* (I liked this movie)

113 min, Drama directed by Jack Garfein with Carroll Baker, Ralph Meeker Mildred Dunnock, Jean Stapleton, Martin Kosleck, Charles Watts, Cliton James, George L. Smith, Doris Roberts, Ken Chapin, Anita Cooper, Ginny Baker.

Note:  Imdb 6.9 out of 10, 43% critic 45% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, TCM average user rating 3.3* out of 5*, Amazon 3.9* out of 5* with 67 reviews, Slant Magazine 5* out of 5*, Blu-ray HighDef Digest 4* out of 5*.
Special Note:  Filmed in New York City, New York.  Carroll Baker was married to director Jack Garfein at the time of filming but they divorced in 1969.  Baker said that the production company wouldn’t pay Aaron Copland’s fee for the score.  Baker and Garfein paid him instead.  Baker appeared in How the West Was Won of 1962 and Station Six-Sahara of 1963 afterwards to make up the money they spent.  Copeland used re-arranged music from one of his concert performances as the score for this film.  Later, it was published in 1964 as Music for a Great City.  This is the first film for Doris Roberts and she and a long career.  There is another film with the same title from 1986. 

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Anatahan 1953


     The setting of this film is June of 1944.  This story also inspired the 1998 novel Cage on the Sea.  Twelve Japanese seamen are stranded on an abandoned island called Anatahan.  There are already two inhabitants on the island, a man and an attractive young Japanese woman.  They didn’t leave with the island’s former inhabitants.  The man was the overseer of a now abandoned plantation and the seamen believe they are married.  A former warrant officer is keeping the men in line until he suffers a loss of face.   A power struggle occurs between the men and the one woman.  Later, a crashed airplane is found in the nearby area.  Two pistols and some ammunition are discovered in the wreckage.  Now, the balance of power between the men shifts to the two men with the pistols.  
     Also known as The Saga of Anatahan and this film is based on the true story of Japanese soldiers shipwrecked during WWII.  They refused to believe that the war ended and they also refuse to believe that Japan would surrender.  You can see how the clothing of everyone is becoming more and more worn out over time.  A parachute is found with the plane and many garments were made from this material.  Over time, this material becomes worn out too.  Some clothing and boots are made from palm tree fibers.  I would call this a ‘strange’ movie!!  Instead of having cabin fever, the men have island fever!!  An addition to the fever is the fact that there is only one woman among all the men on the island!!  The story would've been completely different with all men on the island.  3* (This movie is OK)    

92 min, Drama directed by Josef von Sternberg with Akemi Negishi, Tadashi, Suganuma, Kisaburo Sawamura, Shoji Nakayama, Jun Fujikawa, Hiroshi Kondo, Shozo Miyashita, Tsuruemon Bando, Kikuji Onoe, Rokuriro Kineya.

Note:  Imdb 7.5 out of 10, 100% critic 72% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Amazon 2.9* out of 5* with 6 reviews, Slant Magazine 3.5* out of 4*.
Special Note:  Filmed in Kyoto, Japan.  Some of the footage in this film is from  newsreel scenes showing the return of the Japanese troops after Japan surrendered in 1945.  Von Sternberg made this film outside the studio system.  This gave him control of the film and he did the writing, photography and narration.  There was a modest opening in Japan but it did poorly in the United States.  Von Sternberg continued to edit the film for four more years.  Finally, he abandoned the project and started teaching film at UCLA.

Friday, May 18, 2018

Christine 2016


     This film is based on actual events that happened in 1974.  Christine Chubbuck is 29 years old and she is working for a local news station in Sarasota, Florida.  She lives with her mother and Christine pays the rent.  She is frequently butting heads with the station manager Michael.  She wants to focus on human-interest pieces and he wants to report on crime.  He feels crime ups the ratings.  Christine begins to experience pains in her stomach, she struggles with depression, professional and personal frustrations.  When Christine finds out that the owner of the station has come to poach some of the Sarasota team for the Baltimore news, she purchases as police scanner to report on grittier stories.
     I didn’t know anything about Christine or what happens in this film before viewing.  There is a lot of competition at the station and this is increased by the announcement that the station owner is coming for a visit.  It's possible that one or more of the reporters could be moved to a higher level station area.  Christine had previously worked in Cleveland for a year in 1966-1967.  She moved to Canton, Ohio in 1967 for three months and then moved to Pittsbugh, Pennsylvania and left in 1968.  She started working as a hospital computer operator in 1968 and she spent two years with a cable television station in Sarasota, Florida.  She worked in the traffic department in St. Petersburg, Florida and then she joined ABC affiliate WXLT-TV in Sarasota, Florida.  It seems highly possible that this added pressure on Christine could cause a breakdown and she had a breakdown once before at another station?  You can see that Christine is very tense and she's not very flexible.  3* (This movie is OK)

119 min, Bio directed by Antonio Campos with Rebecca Hall, Michael C. Hall, Tracy Letts, Maria Dizzia J. Smith-Cameron, Timothy Simons, Kim Shaw, John Cullum, Morgan Spector, Jayson Warner Smith, Kimberly Drummond, Lindsay Ayliffe.

Note:  Imdb 6.9 out of 10, 87% critic 70% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 2 ½*, Amazon 3.6* out of 5* with 99 reviews, Metacritic 72 out of 100 with 34 critics 7.4 out of 10 with 35 reviews.
Special Note:  Craig Shilowich wrote the screenplay and he struggled with depression while attending New York University after 9/11.  He eventually dropped out and he withdrew from contact with people.  He would spend days walking in his room and peeking out the window.  This was to keep from dealing with people.  After about seven years, he started to get better and the depression went away.   His fascination with Christine’s story leads him to write about her struggles.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Viceroy's House 2017


     The setting of this film is in New Dehli of March 1947 and some later events take place from 1948 to 1950.  Lord Louis Mountbatten, his wife Edwina and his eighteen-year-old daughter Pamela will be coming to the huge and stately Viceroy’s Palace.  Five hundred employees are preparing for the arrival of the last British Viceroy in India.  It will be a difficult task for Mountbatten to transition British India to independence.  An added element is the possibility of creating Pakistan, a new state formed from India.  The Muslims and the Hindus want to separate themselves from each other both geographically and politically.  Mountbatten and Jawaharlal Nehru want India to be a single nation of two faiths.  Muhammad Ali Jinnah prefers the option of Partition, the creation of the new Muslim nation of Pakistan.  There are riots erupting across India with intensifying violence between Muslims and Hindus.
     This is a very difficult time for Lord Mountbatten and his family plus all of the people living in India.  I know the romance between Mountbatten’s valet Jeet and Alia is included to humanize this film and feature a couple that audiences can relate to.  Mountbatten is very angry when he learns the boundaries of Pakistan have been created as a buffer state between the Indian subcontinent and the Soviet Union.  As a result, millions of people will be displaced.  The Mountbatten’s decide to stay on in India to assist with an overwhelming number of refugees in Delhi.  3 ½* (I liked this movie)

106 min, Bio directed by Gurinder Chadha with Hugh Bonneville, Gillian Anderson, Manish Dayal, Huma Qureshi, Michael Gambon, Om Puri, David Hayman, Simon Callow, Denzil Smith, Neeraj Kabi, Tanveer Ghani, Lily Travers.

Note:  Imdb 6.6 out of 10, 71% critic 66% audience on Rotten Tomatoes,
Special Note:  Filmed in Rajasthan and Delhi, India.  This is the first film to be released in English and Hindi in British cinemas.  Originally, Gillian Anderson was offered the role of Cora, Countess of Grantham in Downton Abbey in 2010 but she turned it down.  The role was given to Elizabeth McGovern and there were six seasons.  This film is broadly based on actual historical events but personal and romantic dramatic elements are added. 

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

So B. It 2018


     This film is based on a children’s book written by Sarah Weeks.  It was the winner of the Rebecca Caudill Young Reader’s Book Award in 2007.  Heidi is a twelve-year-old girl, her mother has autism and they live in Reno, Nevada.  Bernadette lives in the apartment next door and she has taken care of Heidi and her mother since Heidi was born.  Heidi doesn’t know anything about her mother’s background and they go by the last name of It but this could be wrong?  Bernadette is happy to take care of Heidi and her mother because she has agoraphobia.  This means Bernadette can’t leave her apartment.  She discovered a way into Heidi’s apartment through the closet and that is how she was able to start caring for them.
     Heidi discovers a roll of undeveloped film and she sends it in the mail to be processed.  She learns that her mother once lived at a school in New York State to help her with learning before Heidi was born.  Heidi knows she must visit this school and find out more about her mother!!  I can see that it was cause a lot of uncertainty not to know what your mother's real name is and what your real last name is??  Heidi only knows what Bernadette can tell her and nothing about any of her relatives?  A lot of emotions!!  3* (This movie is OK)

98 min, Drama directed by Stephen Gyllenhaal with Cloris Leachman, Jacinda Barrett, Alfre Woodard, Talitha Eliana Bateman, John Heard, Dash Mihok, Jessica Collins, Luis Moncada, Michael Arden, Mataeo Mingo, Van Epperson, Sherry Mandujano.

Note:  Imdb 6.8 out of 10, 40% critic 96% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Amazon 4.8* out of 5* with 62 reviews, Metacritic 46 out of 100 with 4 critics. 
Special Note:  Director Stephen Gyllenhaal is the father of actors Jake and Maggie.  He also directed A Dangerous Woman and Losing Isaiah.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Aple of My Eye 2017


     Bailey is 16 years old and she is training for the Nationals equestrian competition but she has a fall while riding.  She’s had falls before but this time it seems to be different for her?  She starts having blurry vision and her parents take her to have her eyes checked.  The doctor determines that it’s a problem with the optic nerve and Bailey will gradually loose all of her vision.  Her parents enroll Bailey in a program for seeing-eye dogs.  She tries out a lot of the dogs but they don’t seem to connect?  Charles is the head trainer of Southeastern Guide Dogs and he decides to go in a different direction for Bailey.  He obtains a miniature horse named Apple!!  He starts training Apple and Bailey knows that Apple is just right!!  She just needs to convince her parents to allow a small horse in the house!!
     Apple is very cute and she sleeps in Bailey’s bed.  I think she may snore slightly too!!  She’s very clean because Bailey shampoos her fur and her mane.  She gets a blow dry and then her hooves painted with nail polish!!  Bailey meets Jason at the Guide Dog center and they talk about their differences.  Bailey was able to see but Jason has always been blind.  Bailey knows what everything looks like and Jason can only imagine.  Burt Reynolds was almost 80 at the time of filming.  3 ½* (I liked this movie)

84 min, Family directed by Castille Landon with Amy Smart, Burt Reynolds, AJ Michalka, Liam McIntyre, Jack Griffo, Nick Bateman, Charlie Barnett, Castille Landon, Avery Arendes, Lindsay Lamb, Thaddeus Ygnacio.

Note:  Imdb 5.6 out of 10, Amazon 4.5* out of 5* with 67 reviews, Common Sense Media 3* out of 5*.
Special Note:  This film is a Direct-to-DVD film.  Filmed in Bradenton Area and Manatee County, Florida.  I wanted a pony of my own!!  But, I do know that I would not like to clean up after a pony!!