Thursday, June 30, 2011

Be with Me 2005

Be With Me (2005)    Three separate stories about love and solitude.  An elderly shopkeeper is lonely after the loss of his wife and his son introduces him to an extraordinary blind and deaf woman.  A teenage girl struggles with the heartbreak of the loss of her love.  A security guard is infatuated with a professional woman but too intimidated to approach her. 
    This is a very quiet understated and moving film, especially the the story of the blind and deaf woman.  Another important element of human connection is also featured, the cooking and eating of food.  3 1/2* (I liked this movie)

93 min, Drama, directed by Eric Khoo with Theresa Poh Lin Chan, Chiew Sung Ching, Lawrence Young.  Filmed in Singapore.
Note:  Blockbuster 3*, imdb 7.2 out of 10, 90% critic 82% audience on Rotten Tomatoes.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

White Material 2009

White Material (2009)     Maria is a French woman who owns a coffee plantation in Cameroon, a country of western and central Africa.  The area falls into political chaos and she is warned to leave the area but she disregards the danger.  There are different factions roaming the area killing everyone. 
    This film is difficult to watch on all levels, it goes back and forth in time and you need to keep track of where you are chronologically.  Maria stands out as someone out of touch with reality, she walks down the dirt road in a perfectly clean and pressed light pink dress with leather sandals?  She works hard and the plantation is everything to her but what about her safety and that of her family and the workers?  3* (This movie is just OK)

105 min, Drama directed by Claire Denis with Isabelle Huppert, Christopher Lambert, Nicolas Duvauchelle.

Note:  Blockbuster 4*, imdb 7.0 out of 10, 87% critic 58% audience on Rotten Tomatoes.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The Rains Came 1939

The Rains Came (1939)    Filmed in black and white with special effects that aren't bad considering the time period.  Edwina falls in love for the first time in her life but it is with a future maharajah during a time of disaster in Ranchipur, India.  Tom has a bad reputation and is pursued by a star eyed young woman but he becomes a invaluable aid to the maharani.  The future maharajah is steeped in medicine and dedicated to helping the poor, does he even notice Edwina?
    I enjoyed this film and it has everything, I particularly like the era of Raj India.  Shouldn't the British wear more heavy clothing during the humid hot days before the rainy season?  Where is the special tea service and china, we cannot have tea without a proper tablecloth?  4* (I really liked this movie)
103 min, Romance, directed by Clarence Brown with Myrna Loy, Tyrone Power, George Brent, Brenda Joyce.

Note:  Blockbuster 4*, imdb 6.8 out of 10, 59% audience on Rotten Tomatoes.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Illegal 2010

Illegal (2010)

    A hardworking and contentious former French teacher from Russia has been living in Belgium for 8 years.  She earns her living as a cleaning woman and takes care of her 14 year old son.  Her worst fear is realized when she is stopped by the police and she is without the proper papers.
    This is a tough movie to watch, twice I looked to see how much longer the run time would be since I felt like I was incarcerated in a detention center with her.  For a long time she won't tell her name or country of origin and she had burned off her fingerprints on an iron.  Finally, fearing being sent to jail for 2 years for forged papers, she gives her friend's name but she didn't know her friend applied for asylum in Poland.  This means she must be sent back to Poland to process with that country. 

    The worst part of being sent back is the people taking you to the plane, if you make an uproar and they have to put you back in the transfer vehicle, the men cover you with a mattress and beat you.  Legal or illegal, people still have fundamental rights and do not deserve a severe beating from 5 men!  3 1/2* (I liked this movie)

90 min, Drama, directed by Olivier Masset-Depasse with Anne Coesens, Alexandre Gontcharov, Christelle Cornil.

Note:  not rated by Blockbuster, imdb 6.8 out of 10, 70% critic 41% audience on Rotten Tomatoes.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

The Murder Room 2004

The Murder Room (2004)     London's Dupayne Museum has a murder room and people start dying following the modis operandi of the crimes depicted in the display.  This film is directed by Diarmuid Lawrence and features a different actor in the role of the main character, Commander Dalgliesh.  The other P.D. James films I've
watched were made earlier than The Murder Room and were directed by John Davies. 
     Initially it was difficult for me to transition to the differences in directors and cast in the first episode.  Once the mystery details started to come into focus, it was easier to become involved.  The same theme is followed with a lot of clues, many characters, a leisurely pace and missing information that keeps discovering the murderer's identity until later in the episodes. 
    Another difference in this film is that Dalgliesh can picture in his mind what he thinks happened during the crime which is also shown to the viewer.  Let the action and clues play out slowly.  3 1/2*  (I liked this movie)

180 min, Mystery with Martin Shaw, Samantha Bond, Kerry Fox, Josh Cohen.

Note:  Blockbuster 3*, imdb 7.1 out of 10, 50% audience on Rotten Tomatoes.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Bhutto 2009

Bhutto (2009)    This is a moving documentary about Benazir Bhutto's political life and the sacrifices she made in public and in private.  Her father was hanged, her brother was poisoned, another brother shot, her husband was in jail for 11 years.  She took a huge risk returning to Pakistan but she didn't have a chance.  You come to admire her and her family for the sacrifices they made to their country.  4* (I really liked this movie)

111 min, Doc.

Note:  Blockbuster 3 1/2*, imdb 7.7 out of 10, 85% critic 85% audience on Rotten Tomatoes.

Friday, June 24, 2011

French Film 2007

French Film (2007)French Film 2007:
    I enjoyed this film, Jeb and Cheryl are going to counseling because he asked her to marry him and she said no.  Marcus was going to jump off a bridge but he was saved by Sophie, she is now his girlfriend.  This is not a French film it's British and it's about Jeb doing an interview of a French writer/director.  I like Duff as an actress and that was my original reason for watching the film.  3 1/2* (I liked this movie)

87 min, Comedy, Eric Cantona, Anne-Marie Duff, Victoria Hamilton, Hugh Bonneville.

Note:  Blockbuster 3*, imdb 6.3 out of 10, 53% critic 65% audience on Rotten Tomatoes.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Adrift 2009

Adrift (2009)A family goes on vacation to a beachfront house in Brazil, there are three children, 2 girls and a boy.  The parents are in crisis over their marriage, there is a lot of fighting, everything becomes magnified when it filters down to the children.  There is something off about this movie from the beginning, it's in Portuguese with English subtitles but as a viewer, you never connect to the people or events in this film.  It feels like there is plastic wrap between you and the characters, you can't warm up to them and it too superficial.  2 1/2* (Just so-so)
102 min, Drama, Vincent Cassel (Black Swan), Camilla Belle, Laura Neiva.
Note:  Blockbuster 3*, imdb 6.8 out of 10, 64% critic 43% audience on Rotten Tomatoes.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Another Year 2010

Another Year (2010)    A look into a year in the life of Tom and Gerri, happily married, established, both have rewarding jobs.  They are very nice people, they care about others and want to help those who are not as fortunate in their happiness.  Mary, Gerri's co-worker, drinks too much, a failed marriage, living alone, plans on buying a car for more independence.  Ken, Tom's friend, alone also, aging, doesn't like his job, drinks and eats too much.  They have an adult son, he's a solicitor and has his own life but checks in with his parents.
    I enjoyed this movie, you see how giving Tom and Gerri really are, they share the stability they have.  What does it take to give?   Not very much, a meal, pleasant company, being there to listen.  It gives hope when you're alone, there is someone out there not asking anything of you but there for you.  4* (I really liked this movie)

129 min, Comedy/Drama, directed by Mike Leigh with Jim Broadbent, Ruth Sheen, Oliver Maltman, Lesley Manville.

Note:  Blockbuster 3 1/2*, imdb 7.6 out of 10, 92% critic, 75% audience.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Milk 2008

Milk (2008)    I resisted seeing this movie for three years, I thought it might be off putting because of too much information.  I was surprised at all the history I didn't know about San Francisco and Harvey Milk.  I did enjoy this movie and I have a different view of Milk as a result, the film covers the last 8 years of his life.  Both Penn and Franco are good in their rolls and Penn received an Academy Award and Screen Actors Guild Award for Best Actor in 2009.
    Milk ran unsuccessfully for Supervisor several times but was finally elected when the districts were redrawn.  He fought hard for his community even before entering politics and there was severe opposition, beatings by the police, killings just for walking down the street.  I knew that Dan White used the "twinkie" defense after he killed Mayor Moscone and Milk but he was very mentally unbalanced and only served a five year sentence.  4* (I really liked this movie)

128 min, Bio, directed by Gus Van Sant with Sean Penn, James Franco, Josh Brolin.

Note:  Blockbuster 3 1/2*, imdb 7.8 out of 10, 94% critic 88% audience on Rotten Tomatoes.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Middle of Nowhere 2008

Middle of Nowhere (2008)   Grace is a 17-year old girl graduates from high school, she wants to go to college.  She can't get financial aide, her mother has spent $37,000 on credit cards in her name.  She needs to raise $12,000 in 12 weeks, how is she going to get $1000 a week?  She takes a summer job at a water theme park but minimum wage isn't going to pay for college.  She meets Dorian who is also working at the theme park, he's a marijuana supplier and he's not just making minimum wage.  She has a car, he needs transportation, they strike a deal. 
    Rhonda is Grace's Mom and Grace has a younger sister Taylor.  Rhonda is trying to get Taylor into the modeling business and it seems like Rhonda is trying harder for Taylor to make it than Grace.  Rhonda says no one in the family has gone to college before so what's the big deal.  It is a big deal if you want to be a doctor, shouldn't you start out in college? 
    Plans start to unravel, a lot of arguments between Grace and Rhonda.  Dorian has been living with his uncle, his parents were tired of bailing him out.  His uncle discovers the pot and phones Dorian's parents, Dorian is out the window.  Dorian, Grace, Taylor meet up to try to resolve all the issues. 
    You can tell right away that Grace (Eva Amurri) is Susan Sanandon's daughter, she has a lot of the same features.  This movie has a lot of "follow-the-pattern" themes usually presented in what will happen after high school graduation movies.  Money problems, issues with parents, issues with siblings, getting into trouble, desparation, liking the wrong guy, etc. The characters do draw you into their lives and you have concern about their choices and wrong decisions.  3 1/2* (I liked this movie)

95 min, Comedy, Anton Yelchin, Eva Amurri, Susan Sarandon.
Note:  Blockbuster 3*, imdb 6.7 out of 10, 55% audience Rotten Tomatoes

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Blue Valentine 2010

Blue Valentine (2010)    This is definitely a BLUE valentine, there is only some lightness in the flashback sections showing the beginning of the relationship between Gosling and Williams.  Like Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind where the key to knowing the time period is the color of Kate Winslet's hair, the receding hairline of Gosling tells you if it is right now or a flashback. 
    In the beginning, the couple had so much love and promise but the grind of everyday life and responsibilities has eroded this away.  It doesn't help that Gosling starts drinking beer at 8AM.  Their dreams for their lives are not happening, especially Williams' goal to be a doctor.  Gosling doesn't seem to have had a dream since he didn't graduate from high school but a job he can handle is OK.  Be prepared to think about what you've seen.  Tough to say I liked this movie but the acting needs 3 1/2*.

112 min, Drama, directed by Derek Cianfrance with Ryan Gosling, Michelle Williams, Mike Vogel, Faith Wladyka.

Note:  Blockbuster 3 1/2*, imdb 7.7 out of 10, 87% critic 77% audience on Rotten Tomatoes.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

The Other Woman 2011

The Other Woman (2011)    This movie has low reviews and it deserves them, Kudrow's jilted wife character is extremely harsh, always in the same bad mood and she could be a bar bouncer.  Portman deserves sympathy but her character is so shallow you just can't find the emotion.  This is a Lifetime movie dressed up with beautiful wealthy people.  It's just a same old story, you can only dredge up a little feeling for the fact that Portman lost a baby girl after just a few days and her father made a lot of mistakes. 
    Portman goes to work for Cohen, he leaves his marriage, they have a baby, they are trying to recover from their loss, deal with the ex-wife and attempt to do the right thing for Cohen's son, played by Tahan.  The step-son seems to be the only authentic person surrounded by paper doll cut-out people.  2* (I didn't like this movie)

102 min, Drama, directed by Don Roos with Natalie Portman, Scott Cohen, Lisa Kudrow, Charlie Tahan.

Note:  Blockbuster 2 1/2*, 6.3 out of 10 imdb, 37% critic 48% audience on Rotten Tomatoes.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Manito 2002

Manito (2002)

Manito 2002:
    This is a powerful film illustrating a Puerto Rican family in Washington Heights NY celebrating the high school graduation of a son.  The family throws a big party, one of Manny's classmates comes to the party and he makes sure she gets home safely but they run into trouble on the subway.  Two hoods take Manny's graduation money, chase them to Marisol's house and she gives him a gun to defend himself.  He needed to stay there but decides to go home instead, the hoods are still hanging around, they try to beat him up and he shoots one of them.  His brother Junior is always just on the verge of success or failure and he also makes a wrong choice trying to help Manny that changes his life too.

    Most of the actors are first-time actors but they draw you into their characters, it seems like a real family and you feel their struggles.  It's a strong story of people trying to make it, they get caught up in circumstances and make the wrong choices.  One wrong choice leads to another wrong choice but it's been happening in the family for a long time.  This film was shot on digital video with a tiny budget.  3 1/2* (I liked this movie)

77 min, Drama, directed and written by Eric Eason with Leo Minaya, Franky G., Jessica Morales.

Note:  Blockbuster 3*, imdb 6.7 out of 10, 95% critics 64% audience on Rotten Tomatoes

Thursday, June 16, 2011

The Assistants 2009

The Assistants (2009)

      How do you parody bad movies?  You make a really bad movie with bad acting, a bad screenplay and since it might not be bad enough, you add narration to make it even worse!!  Supposedly a "satirical showbiz comedy," everything is bad including the trailers before this bad movie.  Film school graduates start out reviewing a script that doesn't exist, interest is generated, they've got to come up with a script and make a movie.   
     They become the same people that they were working for as assistants.  If this is the best that can be done in a real movie about making a fake movie, how about opportunities as custodians, street sweepers, refuse consultants?  If anyone even mentions watching this, run or ask to watch one with several of the 30 actors voted by Rotten Tomatoes as bad actors.  1 1/2* (I really didn't like this movie)

89 min, Comedy, Chris Conner, Aaron Himelstein, Kathleen Early, Reiko Aylesworth, Tate Hanyok, Michael Grant Terry.

Note:  Blockbuster 2*, imdb 4.9 out of 10,  69% audience on Rotten Tomatoes.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Adrift in Manhattan 2007

Adrift in Manhattan (2007)    Three stores with vision as the underlying theme, three people with different areas of vision and different reactions.  An eye doctor grieving over the loss of her young son, an elderly man facing blindness and a young man interested in photography.  Each has two choices for the outcome of their vision, the doctor can let grief overtake, spending her life this way or try to move forward.  The elderly man can live only with his blindness or accept help from others.  The young man can remain behind the lens, keeping life at a distance or overcome his shyness and connect with people.  Three visions, three choices, retreat or move forward.
    The viewer can see that each person is in pain due to different circumstances.  I think the characters needs to be more developed for you to feel more empathy for them.  There are a lot of strangers in the background which is part of the big city of New York but they seem to take away from getting to know the central characters.  Without a true feeling for each one, the movie is only a halfway experience and lukewarm.  3* (This movie was OK)

91 min, Drama directed by Alfredo de Villa with Heather Graham, William Baldwin, Dominic Chianese, Victor Rasuk.

Note:  Blockbuster 2 1/2*, imdb 5.5 out of 10, 44% critic 39% audience on Rotten Tomatoes

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Black Swan 2010

Black Swan (2010)Black Swan 2010:
    I really liked this movie, I've seen it twice, once in the theater and once on DVD.  I'm glad I saw it on the big screen because of the scope of the cinematography and just the broadness of the screenplay.  Some images are difficult to watch and make you cringe even through they are small instances such as pulling back skin from a hangnail, cutting fingernails with scissors and cutting the finger too.  There are some portions where it is difficult to figure out what is real and what is psychological paranoia or fantasy.  I don't want to give a lot of it away but the times she sees herself in front of herself, you know she is not experiencing reality but in others you have to pay attention to what other people are seeing to know what is real.  I wondered about the "rash" or "scratching" on her back and I didn't understand that she pulls out a black feather from her back plus the dimpling is like bird skin.
    As a viewer you really have to appreciate all the work that went into preparing for and the execution of all the dance sequences by actors who are not ballet dancers.  Of course, there are professional dancers doing the intricate toe work but the transitions from the actors to the dancers is seamless and not noticed by viewers.  There was controversy after Natalie Portman won an Academy Award for Best Actress over how much she was in the scenes.  It is obvious when her face is included that she was in a major portion of the scenes and it was verified by an actual count of her scenes.  Both Portman and Kunis lost so much weight during filming that the Director became worried about their health.
    Nina is under tremendous stress to dance as the lead ballerina in the New York City Ballet's performance of Swan Lake as both the white Swan Queen and the black Swan Queen.  She can easily give perfect execution of the white role but the black role is much more difficult with the severe constraints she puts upon herself in her life.  Her mother was a ballerina who gave up her career to raise Nina, she is a tremendous help but she is also living vicariously through Nina.  The scenes where the ballet company have their opening performance in front of the audience are amazing, you are almost in the room as well.  Reality and fantasy blend seamlessly in the section with the black Swan Queen.  At the end of the movie, you think WOW!  4*  (I really liked this movie)

108 min, Mystery & Suspense, Drama, directed by Darren Aronofsky with Natalie Portman, Mila Kunis.

Note:  Blockbuster 3 1/2*, imdb 8.4 out of 10, critical 88% and audience 85% on Rotten Tomatoes

Monday, June 13, 2011

I Do & I Don't 2007

I Do & I Don't (2007)    A young engaged couple are planning their wedding, the groom was supposed to schedule three sessions of counseling with the Pastor of the Church where the ceremony will be held but he forgot.  It's too late, sessions with the Pastor are booked but the Pastor arranges counseling with a "happily" married couple. 
    Nora and Dick Stelmack have been together for 17 years and they have a teenage son.  The first step is a compatibility questionnaire which should be easy but Bob (the groom) hears Nora and Dick fighting.  Cheryl (the bride) can't hear the fighting so Bob goes into the kitchen to tell her about what he's heard.  Immediately, Dick thinks they are cheating?  Bob and Cheryl don't know what to think, how can you cheat on an agree, disagree, undecided format?  This is just the beginning of interesting events yet to come.
    The second session becomes even weirder when Nora starts to make advances toward Bob, she also does a lot of drinking.  They realize too that Dick is stranger than they thought.  It's time for the third session and the couple does not want to meet with Dick and Nora but they must finish the sessions.  Dick and Nora aren't speaking to each other, they do this once a month on a Saturday to commemorate a huge fight they had in the beginning of their marriage. 
    This movie has a few funny moments but there is too much information that you don't want to know and too much strangeness!!  Everything seems strained and forced, as a viewer you cannot seem to get interested enough in the characters to care what's going on with them either.  Bob and Cheryl are mad at each other after the counseling so you are left wondering if the wedding is even going to happen?  2* (I didn't like this movie)

83 min, Comedy, with Jane Lynch, Alexie Gilmore, Bryan Callen, Matt Servitto.

Note:  Blockbuster 2 1/2*, imdb 4.2 out of 10, 27% audience on Rotten Tomatoes

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Middlemen 2010

Middle Men (2010)    Jack Harris is a family man, he's made his living solving other people's problems.  Wayne and Buck are very smart with technology but not in business sense.  An attorney friend of Jack connects them together.  This takes place in the mid 90's and the business is pornography, selling online and collecting the money through "clean" business sites.  Jack needs to get out but the money, the perks and the money just keep getting bigger and rolling in, did I mention the money.  He's never home, his children are growing up without him, his wife likes to spend the money but she doesn't like his business, he's only home when he has to solve a problem.
    How can this last, it can't last, the Russians are in the business, they play hard ball, they send a money collector but he's accidentally killed, they dump his body in the ocean and claim they paid the money.  Other problems are coming down the pike also, Jack starts seeing a young star with her own web site, he's on the verge of a divorce, Wayne and Buck are making mistakes, the FBI is involved.  It's time to get out.  The subject matter is a problem for me and to glamorize is another problem.  1 1/2* (I really didn't like this movie)

112 min, Comedy, Luke Wilson, Giovanni Ribisi, Gabriel Macht.

Note:  Blockbuster 3*, imdb 6.6 out of 10, 39% critical 54% audience Rotten Tomatoes

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Little Fockers

Little <SPAN id=Little Fockers 2010:

    Jack Byrnes has just received crushing news, his son-in-law, Dr. Bob has cheated on his daughter and they have separated.  How could this have happened on his "watch."  This means he will have to put his other son-in-law under a more intense microscope to prevent a second family breakdown.  Gregg and Pam Focker have been married 10 years now and they have twins, a girl and a boy.  Gregg is still working as a nurse but in management, money is tight and he takes a second job as a drug spokesperson, the only downside is that he is working with beautiful former nurse, Andi Garcia.
    Jack and his wife Dina go to visit the Focker's to celebrate a birthday for the twins.  Now is the time to really investigate everything about Gregg, finances, marriage, parenting, co-workers, no stone will be left unturned.  This will take snooping, following, watching closely at all times.
    Pam's former flame Kevin is still in the picture, he shows up while they are having dinner at home with the bad news that his marriage proposal to his girlfriend has been turned down.  He is still the perfect shining star and the one that Pam should've married in Jack's eyes.
    Gregg plans to hold the birthday party in the backyard of their new house but construction isn't finished and a very large hole remains in the yard.  Kevin offers to hold the party at his place and it's an over-the-top, out-of-this world, nothing spared party!!  Jack and Gregg have become so touchy with each other that they start fist fighting, they continue until Jack has a heart attack.
    This movie has some very funny episodes, you really want Jack to get out the lie detector test again.  Gregg's parents also come to the party and they are still over-the-top.  The critics say this movie is lazy and the worst of the 3 installments?  3 1/2* (I liked this movie)
98 min, Comedy, directed by Paul Weitz with Robert De Niro, Ben Stiller, Teri Polo, Owen Wilson, Dusting Hoffman, Barbra Streisand, Blythe Danner, Laura Dern, Jessica Alba.

Note:  Blockbuster 3*, imdb 5.3 out of 10, 9% critic, 47% audience Rotten Tomatoes

Friday, June 10, 2011

The Black Tower

The Black Tower (1985)    This is good but be prepared for a long haul, there are 3 chapters with 6 episodes and you wonder after the 2nd chapter what could possibly happen after the events in chapters 1 and 2?  This is definitely British, American audiences would want this wrapped up in 2 hours!!  Commander Adam Dalgliesh has suffered a gunshot wound to his shoulder in a botched raid, he's not healing as well as he should, he's feeling very tired and is admitted to a hospital.  He needs further recuperation and has even contemplated a resignation from Scotland Yard?  He goes to Toynton Grange on the Dorset coast, a rest home for the young disabled.  He's gone to visit a friend who lives there, Father Baddeley.  When Dalgliesh arrives, he learns that there has been a suicide, a man in a wheelchair has gone off the cliff and into the sea.  There is more bad news, Father Baddeley has died from a heart attack.  Is any of this true or has there been foul play?
    So the unusual events begin, there are only about 14 people living and working at the Grange but by the end there will be 5 people dead!  That is an astonishing 36%!!  Not very good odds for anyone but even in poor health, Dalgliesh is on the job!  Follow it to the end, see if you can figure out "who done it!" 3 1/2* (I liked this)

287 min, Television, Mystery & Suspense, adapted from a P.D. James novel with Roy Marsden, Pauline Collins, Martin Jarvis.

Note:  Blockbuster 3 1/2*, imdb 7.6 out of 10, not listed on Rotten Tomatoes

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Alabama Moon 2009

Alabama Moon (2009)
    A family has been living deep in the woods, they hunt for food and live off the land but it's land they don't own.  The Wife/Mom has passed away and now it's just an 11 year old boy (Moon Blake) and his Dad.  The Dad doesn't trust anyone and he has taught his son everything he needs to know to be self-sufficient.  The Dad breaks his leg which could probably be treated by a doctor but that's not going to happen.  He tells his son that infection will set in he he'll be be dying soon, he wants the boy to head to Alaska.  Moon buries his Dad, gathers his belongings and sets out for Alaska but he's seen by a local policeman who takes him to a reform school. 
    Moon doesn't plan to stay at this school long but everything starts to change, suddenly he has friends, he's never had them before.  He talks two other boys into "breaking out" of the school and he's got it figured out how to get over the fence.  He feels bad about leaving the other boys behind so suddenly all the boys are breaking out and they include the daughter of the school director, just cause they kinda like her.  One of the boys knows how to drive so off they go in the school bus.  They head to a national park and they're going to all live in the woods like Moon except some of the boys and the girl decide just the adventure of getting there has been enough.  Just Moon and two other boys decide to stay, the others are going to wait for the policeman to come to take them back.
    This local policeman is not a very nice man to put it mildly.  He is paid by the school director to get the three boys back and he doesn't care what methods he needs to use to accomplish this job.  He sent out a bloodhound but the hound liked the boys and joined them.  Moon has seen the policeman in the woods and he sneaks up on him while he's drinking from the creek.  When the surprised policeman turns around, Moon takes his gun and throws it into the creek.  Later on, the policeman is going to tell everyone that Moon shot the gun at him four or five times.  More adventures are still to come.  3 1/2* (I liked this movie)

99 min, Family, based on a book by Watt Key, directed by Tim McCanlies with John Goodman, Clint Howard, Jimmy Bennett as Moon Blake.

Note:  Blockbuster 3, imbD 6.9 out of 10, 67% audience on Rotten Tomatoes

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Man on the Tracks 1956

Also known as Czlowiek na torze, this movie is tough to review, I could not get interested, it's black and white with subtitles which requires paying attention.  You have to be interested in Polish politics under Stalin and also interested in trains.  A man is found dead on the train tracks, it is a recently laid off train engine driver.  There is an investigation into the death to determine if he was killed or he committed suicide.  Men who knew the driver are interviewed to give their opinions about him.  Fitting into society is an important aspect.  2* (I did not like this movie)
86 min, Mystery & Suspense directed by Andrzej Munk with Zygmunt Zintel, Roman Klosowski, Janusz Bylczynski and Kazimierz Opalinski as Orechowski. 

Note: Blockbuster 4*, imdb 7.1 out of 10, 88% audience Rotten Tomatoes

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Redemption of the Ghost 2002

Redemption of the Ghost   A family is having a difficult time since the Dad has passed away.  Audrey, the Mom, is struggling to work, pay bill, take care of the house and her two young children, Jack and Cassie.  Aunt Helen has moved in with them to help out but the children easily get on her nerves.  Cassie has an imaginary friend who is a ghost and has appeared since she lost her Dad.  An escaped convict makes his way to their barn to rest and escape capture.  He listens to the children talk and finds out about Cassie's ghost friend, when the children surprise him in the barn, he explains that he is the ghost.  Jack isn't so sure but Cassie asks him why he has waited so long to appear in person to her.  They start off on a lot of adventures, he helps get an antique car stored in the barn running, takes them fishing and skipping stones.
    While the family is away from the house, Witt cleans up, changes out of the prison uniform into some of the Dad's clothing.  Because of the kindness of the children, he has had a change of heart about his life and plans.  He hops a train to get back the hidden bank money he's embezzled and he plans to turn himself in.  He returns the money to the bank, hops the train for the trip back and stops off at the General Store to trade in his watch for two new bikes that the children have been wanting but could not afford.  His plans to turn himself in become complicated due to an over zealous Sheriff.  This could be considered a "Hallmark Movie" but I thought it was enjoyable.  3 1/2* (I liked this movie)

110 min, Drama, directed by Richard Friedman with Diane Ladd as Aunt Helen, Alexandra Paul as Audrey, Scott Terra as Jack, Nicolette Little as Cassie and Gene Bicknell as Witt Hampton.

Note:  Blockbuster 3 1/2*, imdb 5.3 out of 10, 44% audience Rotten Tomatoes

Monday, June 6, 2011

White on Rice 2009

White on Rice (2009)
White on Rice 2009:  Jimmy, a divorced 40 year old man moves in with his sister and her family.  This is a comedy but it's not very funny and you are hoping it will be short and over soon!!  Jimmy can't do anything right, his brother-in-law can't wait for him to move out and he's just arrived.  His 10 year old nephew Bob is entirely the opposite of Jimmy, he has car washing and lawn mowing jobs, he even takes credit cards and gives receipts for the charge, he goes for piano lessons that his family doesn't know he's taking, he doesn't have homework, all his work gets done during school hours.  Jimmy's niece Ramona comes to stay with the family for a short time and instantly Jimmy is sure she will be his wife.  Watch this movie only if you intend to do 3 or 4 other tasks at the same time or take a nap.  2* (I didn't like this movie)

86 min, Comedy, directed by Dave Boyle with Hiroshi Watanabe as Jimmy, Yki Nae as his sister Aiko, Justin Kwong as his nephew Bob, Mio Takada as his brother-in-law Tak and Lynn Chen as his niece Ramona.

NOTE:  Blockbuster 2 1/2*, imdb 5.9 out of 10, Rotten Tomatoes 45% critical 55% audience

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Rabbit Hole 2010

Rabbit Hole (2010)
    This movie is good but the subject of the loss of a child is very down, the acting is also good.  Becca and Howie are struggling, they go to a support group but it doesn't work for Becca.  They are going their separate ways just trying to get through each day and coping with their grief differently.  Howie wants to hold onto everything that was Danny's, Becca doesn't want to see it every day.  Becca's Mom also lost a son and she tries to comfort Becca but there were a lot of differences in their loss, her son was an adult who died from a drug overdose.  It's taking time but they are inching forward with very small steps.
    The movie does do a good job showing the depth of grief in the loss of a child, it doesn't matter the circumstances or the age.  I have seen two women go through the loss of young adult children who were just starting out on their independent lives.  It is something that parents do not ever get over, they also just inch forward with very small steps.
    There are some gaps in information such as Danny was their 4 year old boy who was hit by a car when he ran into the street after his dog, the dog was given to Becca's Mother after the accident.  Jason, a high school senior, was driving the car, later Becca sees him riding a school bus and follows him home to see where he lives.  Becca goes to a police station to pick up a woman, she's Becca's sister.  Becca formerly worked at Sothebys in NY and she takes the train to meet with some of her former colleagues but several of them have moved on and don't work there anymore.
    I only have one small negative comment about the movie, why do Becca and Howie have a Mercedes and a Saab, they live in a very large house with a water view, is this the "normal" lifestyle of everyone in America?  Would it have been such a stretch for them to live in a small 3 bedroom ranch style home, drive a compact Ford and Dodge?  3 1/2* (I liked this movie)

92 min, Drama, based on a play by David Lindsay-Abaire, directed by John Cameron Mitchell with Nicole Kidman as Becca, Aaron Eckhart as Howie, Dianne Wiest as Becca's Mom, Tammy Blanchard as Becca's sister, Miles Teller as Jason.

Note:  Blockbuster 1/2*, imdb 7.3 out of 10, Rotten Tomatoes 86% critic 70% audience

Saturday, June 4, 2011

The Three Lives of Thomasina 1963

The Three Lives of Thomasina (1963)
    Is this really a children's movie from Disney?  The local vet doesn't care about pets but puts them to sleep, the local children drive away customers from the vet and slander his reputation, there is a kitty corpse and funeral including bagpipes, a witch lives in the woods, Thomasina goes to Cat Heaven and her case is heard by a Cat Goddess?
    Thomasina is Mary's cherished pet and when the cat becomes sick, Mary expects her Father to use his skills as a doctor to heal her.  Dr. MacDhui thinks Thomasina has tetanus and feels she cannot be healed but put to sleep.  Mary is grief stricken since her Mother has passed away, she just has Thomasina, her Father and a housekeeper.  Mary declares that she won't speak to her Father again, he's dead and they had a funeral for him.  Dr. MacDhui is beside himself and tries to give Mary a puppy but she's having none of it. 
    The witch in the wood isn't a witch at all but she treats hurt or sick animals with love and her commonsense skills.  She sees Thomasina's funeral and the children run away when they see her coming.  Thomasina isn't dead at all but deeply asleep from the medication Dr. MacDhui administered.  Lori nurses the cat back to health but Thomasina doesn't remember her life with Mary. 
    Thomasina feels driven to go to Mary's house in a rainstorm and climb up the tree outside to Mary's window.  Mary calls Thomasina and runs out in the rain to bring her back.  Mary becomes very ill, her Father and the local doctor are afraid she's going to die.  She needs Thomasina and the healing skills of Lori.  Dr. MacDhui has come to know Lori, he has helped her with her animals and she admires his medical knowledge and skills.  Lori comes to take care of Mary and Thomasina returns which both are healing to Mary.  3 1/2* (I liked this movie)

97 min, Family & Kids, Mystery & Suspense, Sci-Fi & Fantasy.  Karen Dotrice as Mary MacDhui, Patrick McGoohan as Veterinarian Andrew MacDhui, Susan Hampshire as Lori MacGregor.

Note:  Blockbuster 3 1/2*, 7.0 out of 10 imdb, 60% critics 70% audience Rotten Tomatoes

Friday, June 3, 2011

All the King's Men 2006

    Willie Stark wants to be Governor of Louisiana, he begins for the people and from the people and then begins the BUT.  He's just another candidate until he starts speaking for himself and the voters begin to take notice of his promises.  He does become Governor and then he changes to what's in this for me, how much power can I wrest from the people, how much can I get out of this for myself, who is standing in my way and how can I bring them down? 
    The "good old boys" take notice when they start to come up short on their own grab for themselves, the answer, they start impeachment procedures.  Buying, pushing and shoving, finding out what will make people change their minds, it's worked before, it works again and the vote keeps Willie in office.  One thing he hasn't counted on, people who are friends, in the background, they can start to make things happen to bring you down more than impeachment.
    This is the second film version of Robert Penn Warren's novel based somewhat on Louisiana Governor Huey Long, in office from 1928 to 1932.  I liked the period cars and clothing, there is a unique theme music in the background in the beginning of the film, lower tones that let you know things are moving, things are happening.
3 1/2* (I liked this movie)

128 min, Drama, directed by Steve Zaillian with Sean Penn, Jude Law, Kate Winslet, Patricia Clarkson, James Gandolfini, Mark Ruffalo, Anthony Hopkins.
Note:  3* Blockbuster, 6.0 out of 10 imdb, 43% audience Rotten Tomatoes

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Choking Man 2006 - Independent Drama

     Jorge is a young man from Ecuador suffering with extreme shyness, he washes dishes at a diner in Queens, NY and lives with a domineering roommate in Harlem.  The only bright spot in his life is new waitress, Amy.  Jorge becomes infatuated with her but he is also under the constant torment of a Rick, a fellow worker at the diner.  Everyone except Amy is absorbed in their own problems without compassion or room for the problems of the other workers.  In between sections of the movie are scenes of Jorge's pastel-colored escape reality with animated bunnies.
     Above Jorge's work station is a picture of how to help a person who is choking on food, it's just a part of the furnishings, the only person who sees and reads it is Jorge.  A regular customer eating the Wednesday special of fish soup begins choking and no one knows what to do about it except Jorge but he is paralyzed by his shyness and fear.  Amy and Jerry are trying to help but they don't know what to do, Amy calls for Jorge but he's struggling to get beyond his safety of the dishes.  Can he help the customer, can he save a life, can he overcome his isolation and daily struggle to connect with people? Or, will he stay hidden in the back thinking about the picture with the instructions?
     It's tough to connect with some of the characters, Amy is easy, Jerry is only interested in the business, Rick only thinks about himself, Jorge seems so lost.  Somewhat slow and only with hope as the ending.  3* (just OK)

85 min independent drama directed by Steve Barron with Octavio Gomez Berrios as Jorge, Eugenia Yuan as Amy, Aaron Paul as Jerry, Mandy Patinkin as Rick.
Note: 3* from Blockbuster, 6.1 out of 10 imdb,  47% critics 47% audience Rotten Tomatoes

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

A Certain Justice 1997 - Mystery

    Scotland Yard's Commander Adam Dalgliesh is on the job!  The inner workings and squabbles behind the scenes of the British legal community are portrayed in this mystery film.  Venetia Aldridge is a defense attorney, she doesn't question the guilt or innocence of the defendant but feels it's her job to expose irregularities the prosecution's case.
    She has a lot of enemies, victims or relatives caught up in crimes committed by the released defendants, her teenage daughter questions her Mother's love, there is a married lover, other attorneys and staff feel the sting of her wrath and she has the power to make or break careers.  Her most recent successful case really makes you wonder about the innocence of the supposed murderer and question why he set-up a "chance" encounter with Veneita's daughter, Octavia Aldridge.  They are now seeing each other which causes concern to Venetia and others.
    Venetia is found murdered in her court chambers and there are so many suspects it will take careful investigation to determine the one most driven to murder.  It is definitely not the butler, there isn't one, what about the cleaning lady, will she do instead?  The first 2 sections are very good and you are really wondering who is responsible but the 3rd section is not as good and there isn't a full resolution of the case.  3 1/2* is my rating.  (I liked this movie.)

160 min, 3 sections, intros by Diana Rigg, aired on PBS April 15-29, 1999. Directed by Ross Devenish with Roy Marsden as Dalgliesh, Penny Downie as Venetia Aldridge, Flora Montgomery as Octavia Aldridge.  Based upon a book by P.D. (Phyllis Dorothy) James.

NOTE:  2 1/2* rating from Blockbuster, 7.1 out of 10 imdb rating, 67% Rotten Tomatoes audience rating