Friday, December 30, 2011

The Artist 2011

The Artist
   Set in 1927 Hollywood, silent movie star George Valentin wonders if talking pictures will have an impact on his career.  He meets Peppy Miller who is a young dancer set for a big break in these new pictures.
    This is very different and good, almost entirely silent and filmed in black and white.  George has a little dog that is very cute and goes everywhere with him.  4* (I really liked this movie)

100 min, Romance directed by Michel Hazanavicius with Jean Dujardin, Berenice Bejo, John Goodman, James Cromwell, Penelope Ann Miller, Missi Pyle, Beth Grant, Ed Lauter.

Note:  Not listed on Blockbuster, imdb 8.4 out of 10, 97% critic 90% audience on Rotten Tomatoes.

Cropsy 2009

Cropsey    Documentary about an urban legend in Staten Island originally started to keep kids from exploring abandoned buildings.  It verges too close to reality when children do start missing.  A man is arrested, tried and convicted but is he really guilty?  Later he is tried again for an earlier abduction and convicted again but is he really guilty again?  
    Many local people are interviewed and the known facts are presented but cameras are not allowed into the courtroom.  The defendant does not testify in the second trial because his criminal record could influence the jury.  This movie seems weak since there is only a partial resolution plus the same scenes are shown multiple times.  3* (This movie is OK)

84 min, Doc directed by Josh Zeman, Barbara Brancacclo.

Note:  Blockbuster 3 1/2*, imdb 6.7 out of 10, 87% critic 65% audience on Rotten Tomatoes.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Grace Card 2011

The Grace Card (2011)   Police officer Mac McDonald has never recovered from losing his son in a tragic accident eighteen years ago.  He has spent these years in rage and hostility and his relationships both with his family and on the force are crumbling.  Mac is passed over for promotion because of his attitude and he begins to boil over when he is partnered with an officer who has been promoted.
    A little bit soap opera and predictable but this is still interesting.  Relationships are not easy at home or work but eighteen years of bitterness is a large obstacle to overcome.  3* (This movie is OK)

102 min, Drama dire3cted by David Evans with Louis Gossett, Jr., Michael Joiner, Michael Higgenbottom, Joy Moore, Dawntoya Thomason, Rob Erickson.

Note:  Blockbuster 3*, imdb 4.7 out of 10, 35% critic 84% audience on Rotten Tomatoes.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Hangover Part II 2011

The  Hangover Part II (2011)    A modest bachelor brunch turns into a wild weekend in Bangkok when the gang travels to Thailand to see Stu get married.  Stu has vowed to keep his  party very low key after their previous Las Vegas fiasco. 
    This doesn't seem to be as good as the first Hangover or maybe the concept has already been pushed to the limit? 3* (This movie is OK)

102 min, Comedy directed by Todd Phillips with Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, Zach Galifianakis, Justin Bartha, Ken Jeong, Paul Giamatti, Mike Tyson, Jeffrey Tambor.

Note:  Blockbuster 3 1/2*, imdb 6.7 out of 10, 35% critic 58% audience on Rotten Tomatoes.

Rise of the Planet of the Apes 2011

Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011)    Caesar is a genetically engineered chimp who was created in a San Francisco lab by an ambitious scientist.  Will rescues the baby chimp when the project is cancelled by the lab after an adult chimp escapes his enclosure.  Caesar's mother passed the gene alteration on to him and he has remarkable intelligence plus green eyes.  There is an altercation between Will's father who has dementia and a neighbor, Caesar attempts a rescue but he uses too much of his extra physical power.  He lands in an ape sanctuary until a hearing is held in three months.  Things are not what they seem at the sanctuary.
    This is supposed to be Sci-Fi & Fantasy but it is a comedy?  The location is San Francisco so it makes everything seem local and it is real acting that James Franco can keep a straight face during some of the action.  Are there that many apes in the City?  This does make you want to go back to the original movies.  3 1/2* (I liked this movie)

105 min, Sci-Fi directed by Rupert Wyatt with James Franco, Freida Pinto, John Lithgow, Andy Serkis, Brian Cox, Tom Felton, David Oyelowo, Karin Konoval.

Note:  Blockbuster 3 1/2*, imdb 7.7 out of 10, 82% critic 87% audience on Rotten Tomatoes.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo 2011

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (2011)   A discredited journalist and a computer hacker work to solve the mystery of a 40 year old murder, this is a remake of the 2009 Swedish movie with the same name.  The deeper they dig for the truth, the closer they come to a confrontation with the killer.
    Daniel Craig, Rooney Mara and the other actors are good in this movie but there are only a few differences from the 2009 release.  It does seem to be at a faster pace and easier to watch because there are no subtitles.  But, what is the point of making a second movie almost like the first?  I expected more people to be in the theater but word of mouth may be undermining interest.  3 1/2* (I liked this movie)

158 min, Crime directed by David Fincher with Daniel Craig, Rooney Mara, Christopher Plummer, Stellan Skarsgard, Steven Berkoff, Robin Wright, Yorick van Wageningen.

Note:  Blockbuster 3 1/2*, imdb, 8.3 out of 10, 85% critic 84% audience on Rotten Tomatoes.

Monday, December 26, 2011

A Film Unfinished

A Film Unfinished     In 1942, more than two years after Nazi troops herded Poland's Jews into a ghetto in Warsaw, a few cameramen were sent to shoot material that was intended for a German propaganda film.  They filmed scenes of daily life and horrific moments of death and despair.  The film was never completed and after the war the unedited footage was discovered in a German archive.  Five survivors of the ghetto are interviewed and they talk about the film and their lives in the ghetto. 
    This is a tough film because many of the Jews stave to death, some only have rags to wear and others are dressed up and wearing jewelry.  Sometimes the survivors have a difficult time viewing the scenes.  3 1/2* (I liked this movie)

90 min, Doc directed by Yael Hersonski with Hava Alberstein, Hanna Avrutzki, Alexander Beyer, Mendy Cahan, Luba Gewisser, Janusz Hamerszmit, Rona Kenan.

Note:  Blockbuster 4 1/2*, imdb 7.1 out of 10, 97% critic 84% audience on Rotten Tomatoes.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Nenette 2010

<SPAN id=    Nenette is an orangutan who is 40 years old and has been at the zoo in Paris for most of her life.  She is the mother of four and has survived three mates, she bonds only with a few of the zoo keepers.  We see all the orangutans from the other side of their thick glass but we only see some reflections of the visitors.  The comments from the visitors are featured along with interviews with the zoo keepers.
    This movie is interesting but a stretch at 70 minutes since orangutans are very slow in their movements except when they are swinging or climbing their ropes.  It's cute when they take blankets and cover themselves, Nenette can also open a bottle and drink from it just like a person.  3* (This movie is OK)

70 min, Doc directed by Nicolas Philibert.

Note:  Not listed on Blockbuster, imdb 7.3 out of 10, 84% critic 53% audience on Rotten Tomatoes.

Friday, December 23, 2011

My Run 2010

My Run (2010)    Terry Hitchcock is a 57 year old man coping with the death of his wife from breast cancer and single parenthood.  To bring attention to this disease and single parents, he ran 75 marathons in 75 consecutive days.  It was a tremendous challenge and a test of the limits of his endurance.  Supporting him in this was tough for his three children, especially his son who was along on the journey.
    This is good, it seems like Terry cannot finish this challenge due to the severe requirements physically and mentally but you are still rooting for him.  3 1/2* (I liked this movie)
85 min, Doc directed by Tim Vandesteeg and narrated by Billy Bob Thornton.

Note:  Blockbuster 2 1/2*, imdb 6.6, no critic reviews yet 73% audience on Rotten Tomatoes.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Dolphin Tail 2011

Dolphin Tale (2011)   Inspired by the true story of Winter, a dolphin who was rescued off the Florida coast after her tail became caught in a crab trap.  She is found by a fisherman and a Sawyer, a young boy that Winter bonds with immediately when she senses he is trying to help her.  She is taken to Clearwater Marine Hospital but part of her tail needs to be amputated because ropes cut off the circulation for too long a period. 
    This is enjoyable and you are really hoping that Winter will be able to live without part of her tail.  It is very unfortunate that sea animals are killed and injured by fishing practices. 

113 min, Family directed by Charles Martin Smith with Harry Connick, Jr., Ashley Judd, Nathan Gamble, Kris Kristofferson, Cozi Zuehisdorff, Morgan Freeman, Austin Stowell.

Note:  Blockbuster 3*, imdb 6.2 out of 10, 83% critic 81% audience on Rotten Tomatoes.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Margin Call 2011

Margin Call (2011)    An investment firm discovers the entire firm is in jeopardy due to an inaccuracy in a formula.  Several employees passed this information on to the bosses months ago but nothing was done.  In the next 24 hours decisions have to be made that affect the employees and the finances of everyday individuals.  This is set during the onset of the 2008 financial crisis.
    You see the inner workings of a company, some employees are fired before the formula conflict.  Given information about their settlement, escorted to their offices to pack personal belongings, escorted to the door and their cells phones terminated.  Now you want to ask one of the employees to return and help you after this kind of treatment?  Cutthroat through and through.  3 1/2* (I liked this movie)

109 min, Mys directed by J.C. Chandor with Kevin Spacey, Jeremy Irons, Paul Bettany, Penn Badgley, Simon Baker, Zachary Quinto, Stanley Tucci, Demi Moore.

Note:  Blockbuster 3 1/2*, imdb 7.2 out of 10, 86% critic 75% audience on Rotten Tomatoes.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Once Upon a Time in Rio 2008

Once Upon a Time in Rio (2008)    Rio de Janeiro has a two-tiered society, the upper level is the Ipanema Beach and the lower level is the Cantagalo slum.  The working class cleans apartments, staffs restaurants, food sellers.  De lives with his mother in a cramped apartment and he sells hot dogs on the beach.  Nina is the only child of a successful lawyer and he is not happy when he learns about Nina's new boyfriend.  De and Nina begin to learn that everything is against them and their romance.
    There is nothing new except the location in this Romeo and Juliet plot.  You do become connected to the characters but the end is inevitable.  3* (This movie is OK)

117, Drama directed by Breno Silveria with Thiago Martins, Cyria Coentro, Rocco Pitanga, Vitória Frate, Paulo César Grande.

Note:  Blockbuster 3 1/2*, imdb 7.3 out of 10, not listed on Rotten Tomatoes.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Forks over Knives 2011

Forks Over Knives Poster    The claim is presented and examined that most or all of the degenerative diseases afflicting us can be controlled or reversed by rejecting our present menu of animal based and processed foods.  In the 60's, Dr. T. Colin Campbell is a nutritional scientist working to find a way to feed impoverished Third World nations.  It changed his life when he went to the Philippines and discovered that affluent children with diets rich in animal based foods had high rates of liver cancer compared to children eating plant based diets.  At the same time, Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn was head of the Breast Cancer Task Force at the Cleveland Clinic, he saw that the diseases he was seeing in patients were almost nonexistent in areas of the world that consumed plant foods.
    Dr. Campbell and Dr. Esselstyn present a compelling argument and they both follow their diet practices in their lives and in advice to their patients.  Several patient histories are followed as they change their diets to help their physical health.  Food as a medicine is a different concept.  4* (I really liked this movie)

90 min, Doc directed by Lee Fulkerson with Joey Aucoin, Neal Barnard, Gene Baur, San'Dere Brantley-Nation, Junshi Chen, Mac Danzig, Connie Diekman, Caldwell Esselstyn Jr., Rip Esselstyn.

Note:  Blockbuster 4*, imdb 6.9 out of 10, 59% critic and 86% audience on Rotten Tomatoes.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

A Song for Martin 2001

A Song for Martin (2001)    Martin is a well known and highly respected classical composer and conductor in his early sixties.  Barbara is the first violinist and in her fifties.  There is a strong mutual attraction between them and they both divorce their mates and get married.  They settle in Sweden and work together on his composing.  Five years later Martin is diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease.
    This is good, Barbara really loves Martin, he can't help what his happening to his memory and personality.  It's a struggle for both of them.  3 1/2* (I liked this movie)

113 min, Drama directed by Bille August with Sven Wolter, Viveka Seldahl, Reine Brynolfsson, Peter Engman, Kristina Tornqvist, Lisa Werllinder.

Note:  Blockbuster 3 1/2*, imdb 6.8 out of 10, 85% critic 70% audience on Rotten Tomatoes.

The Ledge 2011

The Ledge (2011)    A man is on the ledge of a tall apartment building, the police are called to try to talk him off the ledge.  The man doesn't want to be there but he has until noon to jump or a woman will be shot by her husband.  Gavin has hired Shauna to work in the hotel where he works and they also live in the same apartment building.  This was a big mistake from the beginning but Gavin and Shauna have started a relationship.
    This movie is told in flashbacks and you know right away that Gavin needs to run, leave town, move away, get another job, do anything to get away from Shauna because her husband is more than unpleasant.  If she's the last woman in the world, run anyway.  3* (This movie is OK)

101 min, Mys directed by Matthew Chapman with Charlie Hunnam, Terrance Howard, Liv Tyler, Patrick Wilson, Jacqueline Fleming, Christopher Gorham.

Note:  Blockbuster 3*, imdb 6.5 out of 10, 11% critic 55% audience on Rotten Tomatoes.

Friday, December 16, 2011

The Housemaid 2010

The  Housemaid (2010)    This is a remake of a movie from 1960.  Eun-yi is hired by the housekeeper Byung-sik to work for a very wealthy family in this drama from Korea.  Hae-ra, the wife and mother, is pregnant with twins and they have a young daughter.  The family lives in an opulent home and no expense is spared for wine and food.  Both Byung-sik and Eun-yi are treated as servants and not as "real" people.  Hae-ra and her husband Hoon seem to be happy but he becomes attracted to Eun-yi.
    This movie really shows how in some instances the world of privilege and power completely separates people from kindness, caring, consideration or any other expression of feeling for others not in the same position.  I wanted to ending to be different but I see how it was used to fully illustrate the theme.  3 1/2* (I liked this movie)

107 min, Drama directed by Im Sang-soo with Jeon Do-yeon, Lee Jung-Jae, Youn Yuh-jung, Seo Woo, Park Ji-young, Ahn Seo-Hyun, Jeon Do-yeon, Youn Yuh-jung.

Note:  Blockbuster 3 1/2*, imdb 6.7 out of 10, 74% critic 52% audience on Rotten Tomatoes.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

The Phantom Carriage 1920

Körkarlen (1920)    Based on an ancient Scandanavian legend, each year on New Year's Eve a phantom chariot carries off the souls of those who have sinned.  David Holm is forced to recall his past misdeeds and his only hope lies in performing an act of selflessness.
    This is like A Christmas Carol but it is much more hardcore and is a silent movie in black and white.  No sugar coating here.  4* (I really liked this movie)

106 min, Drama directed by Victor Sjostrom with Hilda Borgstrom, Astrid Holm, Concordia Selander, Mona Geijer-Falkner, Nils Ahren, Anna-Lisa Baude.

Note:  Blockbuster 4*, imdb 7.9 out of 10, 100% critic and 89% audience on Rotten Tomatoes.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Marry Me 2010

Marry Me (2010)    A social worker who loves her job has always wanted the fairytale where she meets a prince, falls in love and gets married.  She's been dating Adam for two years and expects him to "pop the question" when he lets her know he has an important question to ask her.  It turns out he has received a grant to photograph frogs across the world?  She has a blind date with the nephew of their Pastor and that doesn't seem to be going very well but she doesn't want to give up.  Then she meets his handsome former college roommate and finds him very attractive.  Which one will be the prince?   
    I didn't know this was a Lifetime Min-Series, you can tell this was shown on TV because of the scene breaks for commercials.  I do not know why this is so long when it could have been resolved in half the time?  It does have funny moments but somewhat predictable.  3* (This movie is OK)

169 min, TV Comedy directed by James Hayman with Lucy Liu, Steven Pasqualae, Bobby Canavale, Enrique Murciano, Danielle Nicolet, Vanessa Marano, David Andrews, Elizabeth Bogush, Burgess Jenkins.

Note:  Blockbuster 3 1/2*, not listed on imdb or Rotten Tomatoes. 

Waiting for Forever 2010

Waiting for Forever (2010)    Emma's father is sick and she leaves Los Angeles for her hometown.  Will has loved Emma since they were kids and his parents were killed in a train accident.  He and his brother moved away to live with relatives but for the last few years Will has been where Emma has been, she just didn't know.  Will returns to their hometown and determines that he will speak to Emma and tell him how he feels.
    It seems like everyone is inside out in this movie, the father is dying but he hurts his wife with his words, Emma's boyfriend is a jerk and it rubs off on her, Will's brother is cruel when he doesn't need to be, Will is arrested for a crime he doesn't know anything about?  Maybe this was made for the other Earth?  2* (I didn't like this movie)

95 min, Drama directed by James Keach with Rachel Bilson, Tom Sturridge, Blythe Danner, Richard Jenkins, Scott Mechlowicz, Nikki Blonsky, Jamie King, Matthew Davis, Richard Gant, Roz Ryan.

Note:  Blockbuster 1 1/2*, imdb 6.1 out of 10, 6% critic 42% audience on Rotten Tomatoes.

Monday, December 12, 2011

The Help 2011

The Help Poster
    It's the 1960's in Jacksonville Mississippi, everything in the town is divided between black and white.  The black women are maids in the houses of the white women and it's been this way for a long time.  There a published laws regarding the interaction and separation of the two races.  Eugenia is a part of this white society but she sees things differently and she wants to be a writer.  She starts talking to Albileen about what it is really like to be a maid and they encourage the other maids to begin to tell their stories.
    This is very good, it's a story that most of us don't know anything about.  Raising white children but not raising their own children, not being able to use the same bathroom as their employer, cooking, cleaning doing everything but facing being fired for very little reason.  4 1/2* (I really liked this movie)
146 min, Drama directed by Tate Taylor with Emma Stone, Viola Davis, Bryce Dallas Howard, Octavia Spencer, Jessica Chastain, Ahna O'Reilly, Allison Janney, Anna Camp, Chris Lowell, Sissy Spacek.

Note:  Blockbuster 3 1/2*, imdb 8.1 out of 10, 75% critic 91% audience on Rotten Tomatoes.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Cave of Forgotten Dreams 2010

Cave of Forgotten Dreams (2010)    In 1994 a cave in Southern France known as the Chauvet-Pont-d'Arc was discovered which contains some of the oldest etchings made by man.  Few have obtained access to the cave because of fear of damage.  German filmmaker Werner Herzog obtained permission to film with non-heat emitting lights and a small crew.
    The etchings and the cave itself are very interesting.  The only problem I have with this film is there are a limited number of etchings featured so they are shown multiple times.  There are other areas of the cave that were not shown because the floor cannot be walked on.  3* This movie is OK)

90 min, Doc directed by Werner Herzog with Dominique Baffier, Jean Clottes.

Note:  Blockbuster 3 1/2*, 7.5 out of 10, 96% critic 76% audience on Rotten Tomatoes.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Everything Must Go 2010

Everything Must Go (2010)    Nick was once a successful salesman with a happy marriage but years of drinking have finally caught up with him.  He's fired from his job and all his possessions are on the front lawn of his house when he gets home.  The only way he can live in front of his house is to put up signs that he is having a yard sale and the law gives him five days.  He enlists the help of a neighborhood kid to help watch his things and help with the sale.
    There is potential here but there are details left out in the beginning that would diminish your sympathy for Nick.  The ending is just a fizzle that makes you wonder why you invested any time in the movie?  2 1/2* (This movie is so-so)

97 min, Drama directed by Dan Rush with Will Ferrell, Christopher Jordan Wallace, Rebecca Hall, Michael Pena, Rosalie Michaels, Stephen Root, Laura Dern, Glenn Howerton.

Note:  Blockbuster 3*, imdb 6.5 out of 10, 74% critic 53% audience on Rotten Tomatoes.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Henry's Crime 2010

Henry's Crime    Henry is set up to take the fall in a bank robbery and he goes to jail for a year.  Max is also in jail but he doesn't want to leave, every time he comes before the board, he makes sure he doesn't go free.  Henry decides he's done the time so he might as well do the crime.  He talks Max into finally getting out and they start working on the plan.  There are several complications, one is Julie, Henry might really like her?
    Can Reeves play anything other than zombie without emotion or movement?  Some of the swerves this movie takes seem impossible to believe.  How is this a comedy?  2 1/2* (This movie is so-so)

108 min, Com, directed by Malcolm Venville with Keanu Reeves, Vera Farmiga, James Caan, Peter Sormare, Bill Duke, Judy Greer, Fisher Stevens, Danny Hoch.

Note:  Blockbuster 2 1/2*, imdb 6.0 out of 10, 40% critic 25% audience on Rotten Tomatoes.

The Debt 2010

The Debt (2010)   A retired Mossad agent was part of a celebrated trio of secret agents who tracked down a Nazi war criminal in East Berlin in 1966.  This incident was so applauded in history that three decades later her daughter has published a book about the mission.
    This movie is told in back and forth sections, one section is the present and the other is 1966.  You don't have any difficulty telling the sections apart because of the ages of the people.  This movie had a lot of potential with a strong cast but it just feels weak and dreary with a few tense moments.  2 1/2* (This movie is so-so)

114 min, Mys directed by John Madden with Helen Mirren, Sam Worthington, Jessica Chastain, Jesper Christensen, Marton Csokas, Ciaran Hinds, Tom Wilkinson, Tomer Ben David. Romi Aboulafia.

Note:  Blockbuster 3 1/2*, imdb 7.0 out of 10, 76% critic 70% audience.

The Change-Up 2011

The Change-Up (2011)    A married father and a swinging single swap bodies after a wild night of drinking and do their best to turn their lives into chaos.  It all happens at a fountain and when they go back to the fountain to change back, it's been moved and the city doesn't know where it is?  Dave is a successful lawyer and with Mitch holding the reins it looks like a big business plan may go south.  Now that Dave is Mitch he's not sure how to handle all this freedom from any responsibility.  Dave's wife thinks they are joking and she doesn't believe they've switched bodies.
    This is better than I thought it would be because the ending turns out to be more than expected.  It seemed very predictable and already done with some funny moments but the men learn valuable lessons.  3 1/2* (I liked this movie)

118 min, Comedy directed by David Dobkin with Ryan Reynolds, Jason Bateman, Leslie Mann, Olivia Wilde, Alan Arkin, Mircea Monroe, Gregory Itzin, Ned Schmidtke.

Note:  Blockbuster 3 1/2*, imdb 6.4 out of 10, 24% critic 53% audience on Rotten Tomatoes.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The Six Wivs of Henry Lefay 2008

The Six Wives of Henry Lefay (2008)    A salesman has been married six times, twice to the same wife, many times his daughter needs to step in to patch, repair and pick up the pieces.  Henry is vacationing in Mexico with a woman who is not his wife even though he is currently married and he is killed in a para-sailing accident.  Once again, it's up to his daughter to step in and keep the funeral honorable and dignified.
    So many mix-ups, so much arguing, fighting, jealousy, crying, anxiety!!  There are parts that are funny but it seems weak and lukewarm.  3* (This movie is OK)

95 min,Comedy directed by Howard Michael Gould with Tim Allen Elisha Cuthbert, Paz Vega, Andie MacDowell, S. Epatha Merkerson, Jenna Elfman, Jenna Dwan, Barbara Barrie, Lindsay Sloane.

Note:  Blockbuster 3*, imdb 5.0, not rated by critic 25% audience on Rotten Tomatoes.

Marwencol 2010

Marwencol Poster    Mark Hogancamp suffers a vicious beating from five men outside of a bar.  A part of his therapy to help recover from brain damage he builds a 1/6th scale World War 2 era town he creates in his backyard.  He uses dolls representing his friends and family plus he takes life-like photographs detailing relationships and dramas.  A New York gallery sets up an art show to feature his work but Mark is very nervous about going to the city and showing his "private" creation.
    This documentary has won quite a few awards and is very different from other films of this type that I've seen.  It was a senseless beating, the world he has built is amazing, he also relies on it for safety because he fears a future attack.  He also benefited physically from the building process.  He did leave behind his insatiable desire for alcohol which contributed to being in the wrong place a the wrong time.  3 1/2* (I liked this movie)

83 min, Doc directed by Jeff Maimberg.

Note:  Not listed on Blockbuster, imdb 7.6 out of 10, 98% critic and 89% audience on Rotten Tomatoes.


Monday, December 5, 2011

Jolene 2008

Jolene (2008)    Jolene was raised in foster homes, she meets Mickey, she sees an opportunity for a different life.  Mickey promises they will look for a place of their own after just a couple of months of living with his aunt and uncle.  Uncle Phil really likes Jolene, it doesn't take long for this marriage to break up.  Jolene is sent to juvenile detention and she meets Cindy who helps her escape.  Next she's a roller skating waitress and she meets and marries tattoo artist Coco Leger, this only lasts until his still married to wife comes to see him with his son.  She becomes a dancer and meets mobster Sal, she's happy for a while.  She's finally on her own and has worked her way up from several jobs to receptionist.
    Chastain does a very good job in her role and she is Jolene.  I did not like the ending but it may explain everything that came before?  3* (This movie is OK)

108 min, Drama directed by Dan Ireland with Jessica Chastain, Dermot Mulroney, Chazz Palminteri, Michael Vartan, Zeb Newman, Rupert Friend, Theresa Russell, Frances Fisher, Stephanie Likes.

Note:  Blockbuster 3*, imdb 6.5 out of 10, 50% critic 45% audience on Rotten Tomatoes.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Cracks 2009

Cracks (2009)    Period drama set in 1934, Miss G is a teacher at a private school for girls near the eastern coastline of England.  She prides herself on being different and nonconformist.  Most of the other teachers are severe and straight-laced, they reinforce the school's reputation.  Everything changes when Fiamma enrolls, she is from Spain and has a strong independent streak, she doesn't look to the other students for approval, she does things her own way.  This makes her more exotic and appealing to the other students which changes the pecking order.
    This is interesting but it falls apart and loses itself near the end.  I didn't care for the conclusion, it could have been much better with more depth and investigation instead of a sweep under the rug style.  3* (This movie is OK)

104 min, Drama directed by Jordan Scott with Eva Green, Juno Temple, Maria Valverde, Imogen Poots, Clemmie Dugdale, Adele Mccann, Ellie Nunn, Zoe Carroll, Sinead Cusack.

Note:  Blockbuster 2 1/2*, imdb 6.7 out of 10, 43% critic 52% audience on Rotten Tomatoes.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Boy Wonder 2011

Boy Wonder (2010)    A nine year old Brooklyn boy witnesses his mother's murder in a violent carjacking.  He becomes a vigilante at age seventeen after vowing to track down her killer.  He visits the local police station frequently to look through mug shots searching for the face of his mother's killer.  He's a straight A student by day but by night he takes out a drug dealer intending to make him a victim.  Another man is beating and woman and he got away with beating a young boy but he doesn't get away from Sean.  He stops a homeless man from taunting an Asian family on public transit.
    It's obvious that Sean has a lot of mental problems from the trauma he suffered when his mother died and he didn't get the treatment that he needed at the time.  The film is vague on some of the facts and the ending but you want to think that he finally was able to set aside his Sean justice system?  3 1/2* (I liked this movie.

97 min, Drama directed by Michael Morrissey with Caleb Steinmeyer, Zulay Henao, Bill Sage, James Russo, Tracy Middendorf, Daniel Stewart Sherman, Chuck Cooper.

Note:  Blockbuster 3*, imdb 6.3 out of 10, 40% critic 88% audience on Rotten Tomatoes.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

That's What I Am 2011

That's What I Am (2011)   Andy is a 12 year old boy in a California middle school in the mid 1960's.  He intelligent but shy and awkward, socially unpopular and he will do anything to avoid ridicule and ostracism.  A popular teacher pairs him up on a school project with an even more unpopular student.  This will really seal his fate and make him more doomed.  There is an area on the school ground reserved only for the outcasts and once you set foot on this property, your fate is sealed.  The problem is they can only meet in this area to work on the project?
    This is very good, the teacher is trying to teach the students that tolerance leads to peace and he has won an essay contest on world peace with a new car as the prize.  His essay was only four words:  human dignity + compassion = peace.  4* (I really liked this movie)

101 min, Drama directed by Mike and Michael Pavone with Ed Harris, Chase Ellison, Molly Parker, Daniel Roebuck, Randy Orton, Daniel Yelsky, Alexander Walters, Mia Rose Frampton, Amy Madigan.

Note:  Blockbuster 3 1/2*, imdb 6.9 out of 10, 58% critic 70% audience on Rotten Tomatoes.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Hanna 2011

Hanna (2011)    A teenage girl has been raised in remote Finland as an assassin, she has the strength, the stamina and the training of a soldier.  She is dispatched on a dangerous mission by her father who is a former CIA operative.  She looks like a typical young girl but she has spent her entire life preparing for one mission which is to take out a nearly unstoppable and cunning intelligence operative.
    This is good, how many times do you see a girl take down trained men and women plus escape from a remote detention center?  She is unprepared for the real world and has an overload experience with electricity and technology.  4* (I really liked this movie)

111 min, Action directed by Joe Wright with Saoirse Ronan, Eric Bana, Tom Hollander, Olivia Williams, Jason Flemyng, Jessica Barden, Cate Blanchett, Jamie Beamish, Vicky Krieps, Paris Arrowsmith.

Note:  Blockbuster 3 1/2*, imdb 7.0 out of 10, 71% critic 67% audience on Rotten Tomatoes.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Something Borrowed 2011

Something Borrowed (2011)    Rachel is a 30 year old lawyer who always puts aside what she wants for the sake of her best friend since childhood, Darcy.  Darcy is marrying Dex but he was Rachel's study partner in law school and she has had a crush on him from the beginning of classes.  Dex discovers he may be marrying the wrong person and it should be Rachel but there is a lot of pressure for him to keep quiet and keep the wedding ball rolling.
    This is very predictable, Darcy never thinks about anyone but herself and she holds a higher standard for others than herself.  I can do to you but you better never do to me is her motto.  This is just not very good.  2 1/2* (This movie is so-so)

112 minutes, Romance directed by Luke Greenfield with Kate Hudson, Ginnifer Goodwin, John Krasinski, Colin Egglesfield, Steve Howey, Ashley Williams, Geoffrey Pierson, Jill Eikenberry.

Note:  Blockbuster 3 1/2*, imdb 5.6 out of 10, 14% critic 49% audience on Rotten Tomatoes.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Cold Weather 2010

Cold Weather (2010)    Doug was studying forensic science at a college in the Midwest but after a few months his ambition ran out of steam, he left to move back to his hometown of Portland.  He's living with his sister and gets a job at an ice making plant which requires just a few active brain waves.  He had originally planned to work with the police because of his passion for classic detective fiction such as Sherlock Holmes.  Suddenly a real life case appears when his former girlfriend disappears.
    This movie is good if you are washing dishes, reading the newspaper, combing your hair, considering which came first, the chicken or the egg.  The camera shots are 5 minutes long (it seems) of scenic vistas and the plot is very thin.  I also did not like the ending.  2 1/2* (This movie is so-so)

96 min, Drama directed by Aaron Katz with Cris Lankenau, Trieste Dunn, Raul Casatillo, Robyn  Rikoon, Jeb Pearson, Brendan McFadden, Ben Stambler, Katy Rothert.

Note:  Blockbuster 3 1/2*, imdb 6.2 out of 10, 74% critic 55% audience on Rotten Tomatoes.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Melancholia 2011

Melancholia (2011)    Justine is an emotionally troubled newlywed, she is given a lavish wedding party by her sister Claire.  A stretch limo taking the bride and groom to the party can't navigate the narrow road to Claire and her husband John's home and they are two hours late.  There are a lot of conflicts because of this lateness and the guests history with each other.  Another element is there will be a possible collision between Earth and another planet.
    In the beginning it is difficult to figure out what is going on but it becomes clear later on in the movie.  Performances by Kirsten Dunst and Charlotte Gainsbourg are excellent and they are not shy about showing their emotions on their faces.  This movie is very different from other films.  4* (I really liked this movie)

130 min, Drama directed by Lars von Trier with Kirsten Dunst, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Kiefer Sutherland, Alexander Skarsgard, John Hurt, Charlotte Rampling, Stellan Skarsgard, Jasper Christensen, Cameron Spurr.

Note:  Blockbuster 2 1/2*, imdb 7.5 out of 10, 79% critic 75% audience on Rotten Tomatoes.

Special Note:  The camera style is shaky and has quick movements to the sides.  The color tones have a lot of sepia and the music is very dramatic.  This caused me to have motion sickness and I had to go outside for a short period to recover.  I felt very warm and nauseous, popcorn and perfume became very strong smelling, I could not figure out what was wrong for a while.  The ticket seller told me that others have left because of this reaction.  I found that setting in the back alone was much better, it was cooler, I could close my eyes when needed. 

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Larry Crowne 2011

Larry Crowne (2011)    A Navy veteran loses his job after ten years at a big-box store because he doesn't have any college education.  He decides to take some classes at his local community college.  Things begin to change for him, he meets new friends, gets a part-time job, he's doing well in his classes and he begins to like his speech professor.
    This movie is like a TV movie and not up to the acting range of the lead actors.  It's predictable, sappy fluff and lightweight. 2 1/2* (This movie is so-so)   

99 min, Drama directed by Tom Hanks with Julie Roberts, Tom Hanks, Bryan Cranston, Cedric the Entertainer, Taraji P. Henson, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Wilmer Valderrama, Pam Grier, Rami Malek, George Takei.

Note:  Blockbuster 3*, imdb 6.0 out of 10, 34% critic 46% audience on Rotten Tomatoes.

Friday, November 25, 2011

An Invisible Sign 2010

An Invisible Sign (2010)    An adaptation of Aimee Bender's novel An Invisible Sign of My Own.  Mona Gray is a young girl who uses mathematics as a means of dealing with a her father's devastating mental illness.  She begins to eliminate everything in her life that she enjoys as a sacrifice to somehow make her father well again.  Later, she becomes a teacher and tries to help her students deal with their own personal issues.
    Appearance can convey a lot about a character but that can't convey everything and be the only method of expression.  No one seems to know what they are doing with this movie or what they are trying to show?  The viewer can relate more to the children in the class and they are are far more interesting than the adults.  2 1/2* (This movie is so-so)
96 min, Drama directed by Marilyn Agrelo with Jessica Alba, Chris Messina, J.K. Simmons, John Shea, Bailee Madison, Sonia Braga, Blythe Auffarth, Ashlie Atkinson, Ian Colletti, Sophie Nyweide.

Note:  Blockbuster 2 1/2*, imdb 4.8 out of 10, critic 0% audience 37% on Rotten Tomatoes.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Super 8 2011

Super 8 (2011)    In the summer of 1979 a group of young friends are filming a Super-8 movie when a pickup truck drives into a moving train.  The train cars detail one after the other resulting in a huge disaster.  The Air Force comes to clean up the site since all the cars on the train are their property.  The film team is worried that the Air Force will come looking for them since they took casts of their tire tracks at the scene.  Strange things start to happen in the nearby town, people start to disappear and all the dogs ran away to towns surrounding this town.
    This movie is a combination of Close Encounters of the Third Kind and Transformers.  I really wonder if one pickup truck could make all the cars derail on a train?  Some of the ideas are hard to grasp also since strange things have to be in dark areas so you can't see too many details.  The young actors are good, it's the adults that need work.  3* (This movie is OK)

111 min, Sci-Fi directed by J.J. Abrams with Kyle Chandler, Elle Fanning, Joel Courtney, Gabriel Basso, Noah Emmerich, Ron Eldard, Riley Griffiths, Ryan Lee, Zach Mills.

Note:  Blockbuster 3 1/2*, 7.3 out of 10, 82% critic 78% audience on Rotten Tomatoes.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Sarah's Key 2010

Sarah's Key (2010)    Adapted from a novel by Tatiana de Rosnay about the tragic and shameful moment in French history when Parisian Jews were rounded up in 1942.  Sarah Starzynski was ten years old when the Nazi-affilliated Vichy government came to arrest them, she tried to protect her brother by locking him in a bedroom closet.  Her parents were sent to Auschwitz but she escapes the holding camp with another girl to rescue her brother.  An American writer living in Paris discovers Sarah's story when her architect husband begins a remodel on the apartment originally owned by Sarah's family.
    This is very good and really pulls you into the story of Sarah and also of the American writer Julia.  Sarah and her family are representatives of so many other families killed during this time by the Nazi machine.  1942 carries over into our time period through the ownership of the apartment.  4* (I really liked this movie)

111 min, Drama directed by Gilles Paquet-Brenner with Kristin Scott Thomas, Melusine Mayance, Niels Arestrup, Frederic Pierrot, Michel Duchaussoy, Dominique Frot, Natasha Mashkevich, Gisele Casadesus.

Note:  Blockbuster 4*, imdb 7.3 out of 10, 75% critic 85% audience on Rotten Tomatoes.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Diary of a Whimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules 2011

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules (2011)    Second Wimpy Kid movie, Greg is in the 7th grade now and still facing school and home problems.  His parents want Greg to get along with his older brother Rodrick with mixed results.   
    This is funny, torment in school, liking the cute girl but they never like the social misfit boy.  Caught in the middle, older brother tormenting and younger brother always getting away with everything because he's "just 3 years old."  3 1/2* (I liked this movie)

99 min, Comedy directed by David Bowers with Zachary Gordon, Devon Bostick, Rachael Harris, Steve Zahn.

Note:  Blockbuster 3 1/2*, imdb 5.9 out of 10, 47% critic 64% audience on Rotten Tomatoes.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Battle: Los Angeles 2011

Battle:  <SPAN id=   Meteors hitting the water near large cities are found to be alien invaders, humans along the beaches are being killed.  A Marine platoon is dispatched to save Los Angeles.  Rescue civilians is their mission and they have only three hours to complete their task before the Air Force begins bombing the area.
  This is filmed like Marines in a combat zone at war with other people but these are aliens and their ships.  It just seems too unrealistic and doesn't capture your attention like it could or should.  Michelle Rodriquez, aren't there any other roles for her?  3* (This movie is OK) 

116 min, Sci-Fi directed by Johathan Liebesman with Aaron Eckhart, Ramon Rodriquez, Will Rothhaar, Cory,C. Hardrict, Jim Parrack.

Note:  Blockbuster 3 1/2*, imdb 5.9 out of 10, 34% critic 50% audience on Rotten Tomatoes.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

The Waiting City 2009

The Waiting City    A couple from Australia travel to India to adopt a child.  Once they arrive, they discover that processes move very slowly in India.  The stress of the waiting causes tension, anger, resentment, dissatisfaction in their relationship.
     This movie is a tough sell, the characters are not very likable and the circumstances so uncomfortable.  Definitely not a welcome tourist travel guide to India or how to adopt a child.  3* (This movie is OK)
107 min, Drama directed by Claire McCarthy with Radha Mitchell, Joel Edgerton, Samrat Chakrabarti, Isabel Lucas, Barum Chanda, Tanushree Shankar, Tillotama Shome.

Note:  Blockbuster 2 1/2*, imdb 5.6 out of 10, 73% critic 45% audience on Rotten Tomatoes.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Ceremony 2010

Ceremony    Zoe is engaged to marry a successful but colossally arrogant director.  Sam wants a second chance at love but Zoe isn't sure there was ever any love in the first place.  Sam persuades his best friend Marshall to join him for a trip to Long Island to crash Zoe's weekend long wedding festivities and to convince her that he's the right man for her.
    I don't know why Uma Thurman took this role but she's the only brightness in this movie.  The men seem like dolts and the plot is so weak and unfunny that I wonder why it's called a comedy?  2* (I didn't like this movie)

90 min, Comedy directed by Max Winkler with Michael Angarano, Uma Thurman, Reece Daniel Thompson, Lee Pace, Jake Johnson, Brooke Bloom, Harper Dill, Rebecca Mader, Natalie Love.

Note:  Blockbuster 3 1/2*, imdb 5.7 out of 10, 40% critic 31% audience on Rotten Tomatoes.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Bad Teacher 2011

Bad Teacher (2011)    She's a seventh grade teacher who drinks, smokes pot, swears and wants to get out of the classroom for good by marrying a rich substitute teacher.  She's not the only one looking at this prize, a cute perky fellow teacher is causing him to have a huge crush.
    This is funny, Elizabeth is a terrible teacher until she finds out she can get a large check if her class does the best on testing.  She goes from a movie every day teaching to all out teaching.  Amy is the "best" teacher but she becomes the biggest tattletale.  3 1/2* (I liked this movie)

92 min, Com directed by Jake Kasdan with Cameron Diaz, Justin Timerlaker, Jason Segel, Lucy Punch, Molly Shannon, John Michael Higgins, Erick Stonestreet, David Allen.

Note:  Blockbuster 3*, imdb 5.8 out of 10, 44% critic 39% audience on Rotten Tomatoes.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Beginners 2011

Beginners (2011)    Oliver has not had success in relationships, he meets Anna and things are going well until he starts to believe that it cannot last.  He has had sadness in his life recently, his mother passed away and then he took care of his father during his last days.  He has his father's Jack Russell dog Arthur living with him now.
    This is like a Woody Allen movie about relationships but not wonderful like his recent ones in Spain and France.  I expected this to be good with the reviews it has received but I just did not like it.  Everyone seems cut out with cookie cutters and living in a fog.  An example is how can Oliver make a living drawing when he can't relate to what a client would want and his idea is not practical for the application?  The best actor is Arthur the dog!!  3* (This movie is OK)
104 min, Drama directed by Mike Mills with Ewan McGregor, Christopher Plummer, Melanie Laurent, Goran Visnjic, Kai Lennox, Mary Page Keller, Keegan Boos, China Shavers, Melissa Tang, Amanda Payton.

Note:  Blockbuster 4 1/2*, imdb 7.4 out of 10, 84% critic 81% audience on Rotten Tomatoes.


Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Broken Hill 2009

Broken Hill (2009)    An Australian teen tries to leave behind his rural roots in the Outback to become a musician.  He gets distracted by a new American student at his school,  hey get arrested for a prank and assigned to community service as a team.  His father is not very supportive and doesn't believe his son has what it takes.
    This is good, both teens hear the music inside themselves but it's a tough sell to teach jail inmates to sing and play instruments.  3 1/2* (I liked this movie)

102 min, Drama directed by Dagen Merrill with Luke Arnold, Timothy Hutton, Alexa Vega, Peter Lamb, Andy McPhee, Che Timmins, Rhys Wakefield, John Clarke, Leo Taylor, George Kapiniaris, Ebony Ween, Luke O'Loughlin, Adam Grocke.

Note:  Blockbuster 3*, imdb 5.4 out of 10, 50% critic 67% audience on Rotten Tomatoes.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Win Win 2011

Win Win (2011)    Mike Flaherty is an attorney but he's struggling to keep his practice in business.  He thinks he's found a new money source by becoming the legal guardian of an elderly client until the man's grandson shows up looking for a place to stay.  Mike is also a part-time wrestling coach and he finds out Kyle was a wrestler and he's good.  Kyle's mother shows up and she wants to move her father to Ohio where she live and also take her son.  The big draw for her is her father's money.
    Of course Paul Giamatti is a sad sack but he's better this time, he makes a bad decision, thinks he will get away with it but does the right thing finally.  3* (This movie is OK)

106 min, Com/Drama directed by Tom McCarthy with Paul Giamatti, Amy Ryan, Bobby Cannavale, Jeffrey Tambor, Alex Shaffer, Melanie Lynskey, Burt Young, David Thompson, Margo Martindale.

Note:  Blockbuster 3 1/2*, imdb 7.4 out of 10, 94% critic 86% audience on Rotten Tomatoes.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Queen to Play 2009

Queen to Play (2009)    Helene is a middle-aged housekeeper at a posh Corsican hotel with few prospects.  She is a devoted and diligent wife and mother but she has nothing to call her own in her life except her family.  She watches a couple staying at the hotel playing chess on the deck and she is very interested.  She buys an electronic chessboard to give her husband for his birthday.  She tries to teach herself and tries to teach him but her husband doesn't like the game.  She cleans for an eccentric, reclusive American and she asks him to mentor her in the game.
    This is good, finding something she is very passionate about separates Helene from her family and they begin to resent the intrusion.  The townspeople begin to gossip about the time she spends with the American and this doesn't help her family feel better about her choices.  4* (I really liked this movie)

97 min, Drama directed by Caroline Bottaro with Sandrine Bonnaire, Francis Renaud, Jennifer Beals, Valerie Lagrange, Alexandra Gentil, Alice Pol, Elisabeth Vitali, Dominic Gould, Daniel Martin, Kevin Kline.

Note:  Blockbuster 4*, imdb 6.6 out of 10, not listed on Rotten Tomatoes.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Little Sparrows 2010

Little Sparrows (2010)    Three sisters, Christine a med student, Anna an actress, Nina a widow with two young children.  At the center is their mother Susan who has a return and spread of breast cancer.  Each sister is trying to resolve the problems in their lives but deal with the fact their mother is dying.
    This is not a light or uplifting movie but the characters do not draw you in so you care enough to be involved with their struggles.  I felt totally on the outside of this and barely able to identify who was on screen in each scene.  3* (This movie is OK) 

89 min, Drama directed by Yu-Hsiu Camille Chen with Nicola Bartlett, James Hagan, Nina Deasley, Melanie Lyons, Arielle Gray, Scott Jackson, Nick Candy.

Note:  Blockbuster 2 1/2*,  imdb 5.2 out of 10, not rated by critic yet, 50% audience on Rotten Tomatoes.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Horrible Bosses 2011

Horrible Bosses (2011)    A workplace comedy about three frustrated employees who hatch a plan to kill their micromanaging bosses.  Nick hates his boss because his hours are long, a minute late is a crime and he's blackmailed so he can't quit.  Dale hates his dentist boss because of her unwanted advances.  Dale likes his job but his boss dies and is replaced with his psycho son.
    There is a lot of gross-out humor, obscenities and coarseness.  Only funny at times.  A different role and look for Jennifer Aniston, I'm not a Kevin Spacy fan so I can see him as a horrible boss!  3* (This movie is OK)

98 min, Comedy directed Seth Gordon with Jason Bateman, Jason Sudeikis, Charlie Day, Jennifer Aniston, Kevin Spacy, Jamie Foxx, Colin Farrell, Donald Sutherland, Julie Bowen, Isaiah Mustafa.

Note:  Blockbuster 3 1/2*, imdb 7.1 out of 10, 69% critic 73% audience on Rotten Tomatoes.