Saturday, October 21, 2017

Miss Potter 2006


      The setting of this film is 1902 in London, England, UK.  Beatrix Potter has always loved to draw, paint and tell stories.  She is a spinster and she lives with her controlling parents.  They introduced her to several very eligible bachelors.  These men met their approval for her to consider for a marriage.  Not one of these men had any drive or imagination?  Beatrix decides to offer her stories and drawings to a print house.  The brothers who own the house don’t think anything will come of this book.  They decide to turn the job over to their youngest brother so they can see him fail.  They would like him to leave the business and go back home!! 
     I had a feeling where this was going and I didn’t want to go in that direction but it does.  I knew that Beatrix had her works published and they became very popular.  Her parents think she will always remain under their roof and they will be in control.  Beatrix begins to earn a large sum of money on her own and she believes she has the right to determine how her life will proceed.  The scenes of the countryside are very beautiful.  4* (I really liked this movie)

88 min, Bio directed by Chris Noonan with Renee Zellweger, Ewan McGregor, Emily Watson, Barbara Flynn, Bill Paterson, Matyelok Gibbs, Lloyd Owen, Anton Lesser, David Bamber, Phyllida Law, Lucy Boynton, Oliver Jenkins, Justin McDonald.

Note:  Imdb 7.0 out of 10, 66% critic 68% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Amazon 4.7* out of 5* with 3263 reviews, The Guardian 1* out of 5*, Metacritic 57 out of 100 with 29 critics 7.2 out of 10 with 48 reviews.
Special Note:  Filmed in Kingston-upon-Thames, Yew Tree Farm, Lake District, Bluebell Railway, Horsted Keynes Station Isle of Man, Whitehaven, Brentford, Hammersmith, Lincoln’s Inn Fields, Loughrigg Tarn, Loughrigg Terrace, Low Millgillhead Cottage, Osterley Park House, The Reform Club, London, England, UK; Crotamie, Stirling; Loch Lomond, Argyll and Bute, Scotland, UK.  McGregor was Zellweger’s first choice in the role as her publisher.  The cast wore original pieces of clothing and none were reproductions.  Hill Top house in the film is actually Yew Tree Farm and Beatrix owned it in the 1930’s.  Britain’s National Trust now owns the property.  In a railway scene with rain, the actors were heavily sprayed down with water for an authentic look.  The attorney Beatrix consulted about property was William Heelis and they became close friends.

Friday, October 20, 2017

The Ice House 1997


     Phoebe Maybury, Diana Goode and Anne Cattrell live together in Penny’s large manor home.  The estate is hidden away, it's peaceful and secluded.  They have a gardener and a cook/maid.  Phoebe’s husband disappeared about 10 years ago and there was a big investigation but the case was never solved.  The gardener has found a decomposed body in the ice house.  The ice house is over 50 years old and it hasn’t been used recently.  The police aren’t sure if the body is Phoebe’s husband?  The people in the local community were not very happy that nothing was solved about the husband’s disappearance.  Now they are up in arms again over the body on the property. 
      Daniel Craig is Detective Sergeant McLoughlin and he’s young at 30 years old.  There are a lot of plot leads going at once that keep you from knowing what really happened.  There is also a lot of probing of the dark sides of human nature.  The police department doesn’t seem to mind casting a wide net of blame.  The community doesn’t care who did the crime, they just want someone convicted this time around!!  Detective Chief Inspector Walsh feel the same way.  3 ½* (I liked this series)

172 min, 2 part TV mini-series with Frances Barber, Kitty Aldridge, Corin Redgrave, Penny Downie, Daniel Craig, Danny Midwinter, Dave Hill, Gerard Horan, Ann Bell, Luke Garrett, Niven Boyd, James D’Arcy, Jack Galloway, Belinda Sinclair.

Note:  Imdb 7.4 out of 10, 82% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Amazon 4.3* out of 5* with 150 reviews.
Special Note:  There are other films with the same title and also titled Ice House from 1969, 1987, 1989, 2010, 2017.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Rock Dog 2016


     Bodi is a Tibetan Mastiff dog and he is surprised to see a radio fall from a passing airplane in the sky.  His job has been to guard a peaceful village of self-shearing wool-making sheep.  They are in danger from Linnux the wolf and his pack.  Mastiff leader Khampa forbids all music from the mountain to avoid work distractions.  Bodi decides the radio is a sign to leave his home on Snow Mountain in Asia and pursue his dream to be a musician.  He heads for the city of Rock Park to locate legendary musician Angus Scattergood.  Bodi is hoping he can talk Angus into giving him music lessons on his koto/guitar. 

     This film is a Korean/Chinese co-production with American animation artists.  It’s based on a Chinese graphic novel titled Tibetan Rock Dog by Zhen Jun.  Jun is a Chinese rock musician.  I am usually not much into a lot of animated films and this one doesn’t change my mind.  2 ½* (This movie is so-so) 

90 min, Animation directed by Ash Brannon with the voices of Luke Wilson, Eddie Izzard, J.K. Simmons, Lewis Black, Kenan Thompson, Mae Whitman, Jorge Garcia, Matt Dillon, Sam Elliott, Will Finn, Ash Brannon, Liza Richardson, Julie Craig.
Note:  Imdb 5.8 out of 10, 46% critic 45% audience, Roger Ebert 2 ½*, Amazon 4.4* out of 5* with 42 reviews, pluggedin 3.5 out of 5*, 2* out of 5* The Guardian, Metacritic 48 out of 100 with 16 critics 6.4 out of 10 with 18 reviews.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

The Last Kiss 2006


     This film is a remake of Gabriele Muccino’s comedy drama L’Ultimo Bacio.  Michael and Jenna have been a couple for three years.  They have started talking about getting married and having a family.  Later, Jenna tells Michael she’s pregnant and they learn from an ultrasound that they are having a girl.  Michael starts to get worried about his life all planned out and this life as a young man is over.  He meets Kim at a friend’s wedding and he starts to feel alive again.  He looks at the people around him and none of their relationships are happy or stable.  Michael’s friend Chris is thinking about leaving his wife even thought they have an infant son.  Chris feels they are not getting along at all and he doesn’t see this changing.  Even Jenna’s parents are recently separated because of their marriage problems.
      Michael has a severe case of cold feet.  If he’s not careful he will leave behind Jenna and their baby before they have even started a life together?  Jenna’s dad is a psychologist or psychiatrist and he can’t keep his own marriage together?  What is that saying to Michael?  Chris has a baby and he’s leaving because he can’t do anything right?  3 ½* (I liked this movie)    

104 min, Drama directed by Tony Goldwyn with Zach Braff, Jacinda Barrett, Rachel Bilson, Casey Affleck, Michael Weston, Eric Christian Olsen, Marley Shelton, Lauren Lee Smith, Harold Ramis, Blythe Danner, Tom Wilkinson, David Haydn-Jones.

Note:  Imdb 6.5 out of 10, 45% critic 59% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Metacritic 57 out of 100 with 27 critics 5.2 out of 10 with 63 reviews, Amazon 3.8* out of 5* with 124 reviews.
Special Note:  Filmed in Saint-Lambert and Montreal, Quebec, Canada; Madison, Wisconsin.  Originally Rachel McAdams was cast as Jenna but she had other commitments.  This is the first film for Rachel Bilson.  This film was shipped to theaters under the code name French.  There is another film with the same title from 2002.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Secrets of the Manor House 2012


     This series is based on a book Hilary Brown.  Each episode concentrates on the history of two houses in Britain during the Edwardian age.  Maderson located in Berwickshire and Dunham located in Greater Manchester.  Aristocratic families owned them but the houses passed on during modern times need a current function.  They can be a tourist attraction or the setting for a movie or TV drama.  The impact of WWI on the British social-class system and the influence of American wealth changed the history of these manors.  Many of the officers in WWI came from the aristocrats but the military ranks were filled with the working class.  Fighting the enemy side by side changed this class system.  British landholders marrying wealthy American women brought changes as well.
     The popular long running series Downton Abbey from 2011-2016 and another earlier series Upstairs Downstairs from 1971-1977, 2010 and 2012 sparked renewed interest in the British class system, their homes and their way of life.  They are basically soap operas with a lot of gossip and many ups and downs.  The class system involved hereditary transferring of property, occupation, social status and influence.  Industrialization caused constant revision of the classes and the addition of new factors such as education as identity.  Until recently Parliament was the upper class and the House of Commons was everyone else.  The British monarch is viewed as the top of the social class structure.  WWII also changed the class system with education more available and more home ownership.  There are more service jobs, more immigration and a change in the status of women.  3 ½* (I liked this series)

55 min each episode, 5 episodes, Doc TV Series by PBS, narrated by Samuel West, directed by Susannah Ward with Elisabeth Kehoe, Geoffrey Dymond,Mary Gledhill, Julie Herbert, Matthew Hughes, Lawrence James, John Norman Ide Leslie, Tarka Leslie-King, Loraine McMurrey, Adrian Palmer, Lady Palmer, Sarah Richardson.

Note:  Imdb 8.0 out of 10, Amazon 4* out of 5* with 33 reviews, PBS
Special Note:  Also titled in Sweden as Slottens Hemligheter.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Priceless 2016


     James tragically loses his wife and he falls into depression.  He also lost custody of his daughter and James’ mother is caring for her.  He agrees to drive a small box truck across country.  He doesn’t care what he’s picking up, just that it’s not drugs.  He’s making this a quick run and he falls asleep at the wheel.  The truck runs off the road but there is just minor damage.  He hears crying when he goes to the back of the truck.  He uses a rock to remove the lock and he discovers two young sisters from Mexico are in the truck.  James knows he’s been conned into human trafficking.  He takes them to a rest stop to get cleaned up, buys them each dresses and they get burgers.  He asks them to ride in the cab with him.  They are being sent to New Mexico in payment for their father’s debt.
     Everything changes about this trip for James when finds Antonia and Maria.  He doesn’t know where they are going but he soon learns when the girls are picked up.  There is a large crime ring operating in this city and there are dirty cops in on the action.  James meets Dale and they start working together to get Antonia and Maria back.  3 ½* (I liked this movie)

97 min, Crime directed by Ben Smallbone with Joel Smallbone, Bianca A. Santos, David Koechner, Jim Parrack, Amber Midthunder, Travis Hammer, Luce Rains, Sarah Minnich, Sierra Rose Smith, Ines France Ware, Cru Ennis, Jodi Lynn Thomas.

Note:  Imdb 6.0 out of 10, 78% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 1 ½*, Amazon 4.6* out of 5* with 315 reviews, www.pluggedin.com 4* out of 5*, Metacritic 41 out of 100 with 4 critics.
Special Note:  Filmed in Albuquerque, New Mexico.  Ben and Joel Smallbone are brothers and they are from Australia.  Ben has previously filmed documentaries, ads, music videos and shorts.  Another brother Luke and their father David are producers.  Joel Smallbone is the co-lead singer of the band For King & Country.  The song Priceless by King & Country was the inspiration for the Priceless movement including a book and this film.  This movie was filmed in 17 days. 

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Swimming Pool 2003


     John Bosload is a London publisher and he has been working with British mystery writer Sarah Morton.  John suggests that Sarah spend some time at his villa in France.  She’s feeling burned out and tired of London plus she needs inspiration.  Sarah travels to the South of France and she really begins to write again.  John’s daughter shows up at the villa and they are like wine and water at first but then they start to get along. 
     There are some twists in this film.  Even at the end, you are not sure what was real in the scenes and what was from the new novel?  The scenery is beautiful in this part of France.    

102 min, Crime directed by Francois Ozon with Charlotte Rampling, Charles Dance, Ludivine Sagnier, Jean-Marie Lamour, Marc Fayolle, Mireille Mosse, Michel Fau, Jean-Claude Lecas, Emile Gavois-Kahn, Lauren Farrow, Sebastian Harcombe, Frances Cuka, Keith Yeates.

Note:  Imdb 6.8 out of 10, 84% critic 67% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 3*, Amazon 3.9* out of 5* with 379 reviews, slantmagazine 2.5* out of 4*, BBC 4* out of 5* reviewer's rating and 4* out of 5* user rating, Metacritic 70 out of 100 with 37 critics 6.1 out of 10 with 21 reviews.
Special Note:  Filmed in Luberon, Vaucluse, France and London, England, UK.  Charlotte Rampling had a sister named Sarah and she died at a young age.  There are some mistakes when Sarah is typing her novel.  She presses keys at random and sometimes several at once?  She also never presses the space bar while typing?  It must be that Charlotte doesn’t know how to type or she was not really trying to type?  There is another film with the same name from 1969.