Friday, November 30, 2012

Take This Waltz 2011

     Margot is 28 years old and she lives in Toronto.  She has been married for five years to Lou; he’s a chicken cookbook author.  Margot wants to be a writer and she takes a trip to a re-enactment village to gather information to write their promotional brochure.  She meets Daniel and finds out he is their neighbor.  There is an attraction between Margot and Daniel.
     I wanted to like this film and I like Michelle Williams as an actress.  Give me something to like?  It’s just not there, Margot has a good marriage but good must not be good enough, right?  3* (This movie is OK)

116 min, Drama directed by Sarah Polley with Michelle Williams, Seth Rogen, Sarah Silverman, Luke Kirby, Jennifer Podemski, Diane D’Aquila.

Note:  Blockbuster 4*, imdb 6.5 out of 10, 78% critic 59% audience on Rotten Tomatoes.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Moonrise Kingdom 2012

     An eccentric period comedy drama set in the summer of 1965.  Walt and Laura live on New Penzance, an island off the coast of New England.  They have three young sons and a daughter 12 years old.  Suzy has a lot of problems; she’s prone to fits of aggression, very secretive and cannot be without her binoculars.  Troop 55 of the Khaki Scouts are spending their summer at Camp Ivanhoe, the most disliked scout is Sam.  He runs away from camp and is instantly smitten when he sees Suzy; she has the same reaction when their eyes meet.  They head for the hills and throw their small town upside down searching for them.
     This film reminds me of the Royal Tenenbaums, also by Wes Anderson from 2001.  Incomprehensibly, it also has aspects from Zulu of 1964.  This is very funny, it seems as if the aim of the movie is to make all the adults look and behave as old and ridiculous as possible.  It makes me laugh just to write about it, it’s a big change from all the so-called comedies I’ve seen that are not funny!!  4* (I really liked this movie)
94 min, Comedy directed by Wes Anderson with Jared Gilman, Kara Hayward, Bill Murray, Bruce Willis, Edward Norton, Frances McDormand, Jason Schwartzman, Tilda Swinton.

Note:  Blockbuster 3*, imdb 8.0 out of 10, 94% critic 88% audience on Rotten Tomatoes.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Jiro Dreams of Sushi 2011

     At the age of 85, Jiro Ono is one of the most-respected and acclaimed sushi chefs in Japan.  His tiny restaurant, Sukiyabashi Jiro, in the basement of a Tokyo office building seats only nine people.  You must make reservations a month in advance, they serve only sushi and it is about $300 to start for the meal per person.  Michelin has given the restaurant 3* in their review book.  The oldest son has been working for his father since he was 19 years old and he is 50 years old now.  He has been waiting 31 years to step into his father’s shoes.  The younger son was encouraged by his father to open his own successful sushi restaurant.
     Jiro and his family were very poor, his two sons wanted to try a can of Coca-Cola but they couldn’t afford to buy one until they saved for a long time.  Jiro spent long hours building up the restaurant and he feels he was not home enough to be a proper father to his sons.  Even in his ripe old age, Jiro still works tirelessly, he believes he can still learn and perfect his craft.  3 ½* (I liked this movie)

82 min, Doc directed by David Gelb with Jiro Ono, Yoshikazu Ono.

Note:  Blockbuster 4 ½*, imdb 7.8 out of 10, 99% critic 93% audience on Rotten Tomatoes.
Special Note:  If you are a fan of sushi, this will make you very hungry.  If you are not a fan, you will still appreciate the perfection in preparation and presentation.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

God Bless America 2011

     Frank is fired from his job of 11 years because of a harassment complaint from the receptionist.  She doesn’t feel safe in the workplace because he is nice to her, sent her flowers because she had a bad day and loaned her a book?  Soon after he learns from his doctor that he has an inoperable brain tumor.  What is left for him except suicide?  Before taking his life he decides to free the world from the loudmouthed teenage star of a reality television show.  Roxy goes to the same school, she watches this happen and teams up with Frank. 
     This could have been good but it slips into just being a shooting fest.  Supposed to also be a comedy but only rare bits of humor.  2 ½* (This movie is so-so)

105 min, Drama directed by Bobcat Goldthwait with Joel Murray, Tara Lynne Barr, Melinda Page Hamilton, Rich McDonald, Maddie Hasson, Larry Miller.

Note:  Blockbuster 3 ½*, imdb 7.3 out of 10, 66% critic 70% audience on Rotten Tomatoes.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Delicacy 2011

     Nathalie’s husband of three years dies unexpectedly after being hit by a car, he had been jogging.  She throws herself into her work for three more years.   One day she notices a co-worker, the unremarkable Markus, they begin a friendship.  Everyone in the office cannot figure out what she sees in him, especially her boss who has a crush on her.
     This film has a very narrow focus so there is not much room for the story?  What is left to do but just quietly move along.  Seems like many scenes of Nathalie walking?  3* (This movie is OK)
105 min, Drama directed by Stephane and David Foenkinos with Audrey Tautou, Francois Damiens, Bruno Todeschini, Melanie Bernier, Josephine de Meaux.

Note:  Blockbuster 2 ½*, imdb 6.3 out of 10, 59% critic 58% audience on Rotten Tomatoes.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

The Amazing Spiderman 2012

     Peter Parker’s parents leave suddenly and he grows up with his Aunt and Uncle.  As a teenager he wonders why his parents never came back and has problems at school with a bully.  He finds his Father’s briefcase in the basement and it has a folder inside.  Peter does some Internet research and discovers that his Father’s partner, Dr. Curt Connors, works at the Oscorp lab.  Peter goes to visit Dr. Connors and he’s surprised to find a girl in his class, Gwen Stacy, she is a research assistant.
     He has a choice of two paths to take after being bitten by a lab spider and given strength along with spider characteristics.  He can lay low and have fun with these powers or he can help people in the city with crime.  A lot of action along with some serious scenes.  This film establishes the groundwork for Spiderman 2014.  Interesting enough to keep your attention.  3 ½* (I liked this movie)

136 min, Action directed by Sam Raimi, Marc Webb with Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Rhys Ifans, Denis Leary, Campbell Scott, Irfan Khan, Martin Sheen, Sally Field.

Note:  Blockbuster 3 ½*, imdb 7.3 out of 10, 75% critic 81% audience on Rotten Tomatoes.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Battleship 2012

     Based on Milton Bradley’s popular strategic board game.  Scientists have discovered a planet in G Galaxy that may contain life.  An array of NASA transmitters are constructed in Hawaii to send a signal to a satellite far out in space and bounce it to this planet.  Unexpectedly, alien ships enter Earth’s atmosphere in response to the signal and a communications unit destroys part of Tokyo.  The remaining ships land in Pearl Harbor.  This has not gone at all as planned.  A US Naval operation being held in this area is divided into two sections by a force field and one side of our Navy goes to war against the alien ships.
     No acting awards here but explosions every other minute!!  I did like the alien wheel machines with red lights that are sent out to destroy everything in their path.  There are so many errors in this film listed on imdb for characters, continuity, geography and facts.  3* (This movie is OK)

132 min, Action directed by Peter Berg with Taylor Kitsch, Alexander Skarsgard, Liam Neeson, Rihanna, Brooklyn Decker, Tadanobu Asano.

Note:  Blockbuster 3 ½*, imdb 6.0, 33% critic 54% audience on Rotten Tomatoes.

Friday, November 23, 2012

The Lucky One 2012

The Lucky One Poster     Based on a novel by Nicholas Sparks.  Logan has served three tours of duty with the Marines in Iraq and he’s managed to survive.  Some men he knew and others he didn't know were in the same situation but did not make it home.  He found a picture of a young woman during an ambush fight and she had written “keep safe” on the back.  He tried to locate the man who lost the picture but without success.  A lighthouse in the background of the picture was gave him a clue to where she lives.  He resolved to find her and thank her for keeping him safe but he felt the owner of the picture had not been as lucky.
     There are no surprises in this film, it follows the Nicolas Sparks expected pattern.  3* (This movie is OK)

101 min, Drama directed by Scott Hicks with Zac Efron, Taylor Schilling, Blythe Danner, Riley Thomas Steward, Jay R. Ferguson, Adam LeFevre, Joe Chrest.

Note:  Blockbuster 3 ½*, imdb 6.2 out of 10, 20% critic 67% audience on Rotten Tomatoes.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Chaos Theory 2007

    Frank is an obsessively organized efficiency expert, he gives lectures on how to be efficient and he follows his advice to the letter in his own life.  He can’t be late, he has to make lists and lists of where is lists are located.  He makes notes on 3x5 cards and all this takes up a lot of time in his life.  He’s married to Susan and they have a daughter Jesse who is 7 years old.  Susan is a school teacher and she is not at all like Frank.  Jesse loves her dad and she doesn’t care about his lists. 
     This is an illustration of what can happen to a list maker when their entire life as they know it is shaken and stirred!  Frank decides that whim will guide his life from now on and he will write random single words on 3x5 cards, shuffle them and do what it says on the card he picks.  All over the place on the screen, crazy to somber and then back again.  3* (This movie is OK) 

87 min, Drama directed by Marcos Siega with Ryan Reynolds, Emily Mortimer, Stuart Townsend, Sarah Chalke, Mike Erwin, Constance Zimmer. 

Note:  Blockbuster 3*, 6.8 out of 10, 30% critic 59% audience on Rotten Tomatoes.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Coming Home 1998

     It’s the 1930’s in Cornwall, England, Judith Dunbar is attending a boarding school for girls while her parents and younger sister are living in Singapore.   For school holidays and breaks, Judith stays with her Aunt Louise until she is killed in a car accident.  The family of her best friend, Loveday Carey Lewis, rescue her and take her into their home.  At the start of this film they are in the calm before the storm of WWII which later causes the loss of family members and friends.
     I found this very enjoyable, the characters are relatable and you follow along with their lives from 1930 to 1945 in their happiness and in pain.  I didn't want this to end.  4* (I liked this movie)

199 min, Drama directed by Giles Foster with Peter O’Toole, Joanna Lumley, Penelope Keith, Anneliese Uhlig, David McCallum Emily Mortimer, Gruschenka Stevens, Paul Bettany, Katie Ryder Richardson.

Note:  Blockbuster 3*, imdb 6.6 out of 10, 47% audience on Rotten Tomatoes.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Footnote 2011

     A father and son (Eliezer and Uriel Shkolnik) are both professors involved their entire professional lives on work in Talmudic Studies.  Eliezer has been submitted as worthy for 20 years but ignored every year for the Israel Prize for his studies.  Since he has not been selected, he scoffs at the prize and he doesn’t trust the establishment.  Uriel is more mainstream and he has not yet been submitted for the prize.  There is still distance and competition between father and son.  There is also competition and rivalry between all the professors.
     This film is arguing between everyone from the beginning to the end.  It also illustrates the idea of passing on your pain to someone else.  Starts with the father to the son, then the son to his wife and son.  The dog would have been next in line but they don’t have one!!  3* (This movie is OK)

105 min, Drama directed by Joseph Cedar with Shlomo Bar-Abba, Lior Ashkenazi, Alisa Rosen, Alma Zak, Daniel Markovich, Yuval Scarf.

Note:  Blockbuster 3 ½*, imdb 6.9 out of 10, 91% critic 71% audience on Rotten Tomatoes.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Chernobyl Diaries 2012

     Americans Natalie and Chris are traveling with their friend Amanda across Europe.  They stop in Kiev, Ukraine to visit Paul, Chris’ brother.  At breakfast, Paul suggests they go with a guide to tour Chernobyl, the damaged Russian nuclear reactor.  They meet up with another couple, Zoe from Norway and Michael from Australia also booked the trip.
    This film has the typical horror movie pattern, the group is denied entrance to the reactor location but they find another entrance.  Shoulda and coulda backed out but didn’t!  The guide finds evidence of a campfire but he hides the ashes?  A large bear runs through one of the buildings?  Now we know there are people and animals.  When they race back to their vehicle, it won’t start.  Pattern established.  The first ones to leave the group are goners, or they will be injured.  If the group separates, more are goners.  Predictable and I didn’t like the ending.  2 ½* (Just so-so)

86 min, Horror directed by Brad Parker with Ingrid Bolso Berdal, Dimitri Diatchenko, Olivia Dudley, Devin Kelley, Jess McCartney, Nathan Phillips, Jonathan Sadowski.

Note:  Blockbuster 2 ½*, imdb 5.1 out of 10, 20% critic 30% audience on Rotten Tomatoes. 

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Skyfall 2012

     007 is reported dead after an attempt to get back a stolen hard drive list of NATO agents.  The British government grills and blames M for the loss of the list, it is suggested she retire in two months time.  Her answer is that she will solve this problem but soon after it is discovered the computers of MI6 have been hacked through M's computer.  On her way back to headquarters, there is a huge explosion at the building killing eight employees.  The next move is the names of five secret agents will be released each week until the thief is caught.
     This film starts right in with the action in Istanbul, wounded agents, a high- speed car chase, a motorcycle chase and then a struggle on top of a train.  Bardem makes a very creepy villain and adversary.  I think this latest Bond film is right up there with Goldfinger and From Russia with Love and I would see this again.  Adele sings the opening song.  4 ½* (I loved this movie)

143 min, Action directed by Sam Mendes with Daniel Craig, Javier Bardem, Judy Dench, Naomie Harris, Berenice Marlohe, Albert Finney,  Ben Whishaw.

Note:  Blockbuster 4 /12*, imdb 8.1 out of 10. 92% critic 89% audience on Rotten Tomatoes.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Safety Not Guaranteed 2011

    Darius is an intern at a Seattle based magazine, she does all the jobs other people don’t want to do.  There is a staff meeting to see who has any ideas or leads on stories that can be investigated for an article.  Jeff, one of the writers saw an ad looking for a partner for time travel.  He suggests going to check this out with Aubrey and Arnau, another intern.  Jeff thinks this will be a vacation plus an opportunity to look up an old high school girlfriend.  They stake out the post office box and learn that Kenneth placed the want ad, he’s a clerk at a small grocery store.
    This film leaves you up in the air from the beginning, you go back and forth in your mind, is Kenneth on the level or he’s batty?  There are also two government agents tailing Kenneth but that doesn’t help with the is he on the level or batty answer?  I didn’t think this was a comedy (?) but it is interesting.  3 ½* (I liked this movie)

86 min, Comedy directed by Colin Trevorrow with Aubrey Plaza,  Mark Duplass, Basil Harris, Mary Lynn Rajskub, Jake Johnson, Karan Soni, David Schultz. 

Note:  Blockbuster 3 ½*, imdb 7.2 out of 10, 94% critic 85% audience on Rotten Tomatoes.

Friday, November 16, 2012

The Raven 2012

     This is a period film about a psychotic serial killer using the writings of Edgar Allan Poe as the inspiration for his crimes.  Poe joins forces with a Baltimore detective to catch this criminal and end his crime spree.
     A lot of gruesome murder scenes but the rest of this film is very weak with no real attempt to portray the life of Poe.  Cusack is just going through the motions and the other actors fall into line behind him.  A film about such a famous author should have more dignity than being just another serial-killer project.   2 ½* (This movie is so-so) 

110 min, Mystery directed by James McTeigue with John Cusack, Luke Evans, Brendan Gleeson, Alice Eve, Oliver Jackson-Cohen, Kevin McNally.

Note:  Blockbuster 3*, imdb 6.4 out of 10, 22% critic 48% audience on Rotten Tomatoes. 

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Red Dog 2011

      Based on the true story of a dog who roamed the Australian outback and only took rides from people he liked.  Red Dog also brought together the community of Dampier in Western Australia through their shared love for him.  When Red Dog came to the town, he didn’t have an owner but he had many wannabes among the rough iron ore excavation workers.  This dog had his own mind and his own ways and he selected his owner himself.
     Some of the events in this movie are so funny!!  I particularly liked Josh Lucas telling Red Dog that dogs don’t belong on the bus he was driving and a sad look would not get him a ride.  There is also a Red Cat that so tough the people say he’s the Devil!!  I thought this was a children's movie from the cover picture but it's not.  4* (I really liked this movie)

92 min, Comedy directed by Kriv Stenders with Josh Lucas, Rachael Taylor, Noah Taylor, Keisha Castle-Hughes, Eamon Farren, Luke Ford, Bill Hunter, Tiffany Lyndall-Knight.

Note:  Blockbuster 3 ½*, imdb 7.3 out of 10, 81% critic 82% audience on Rotten Tomatoes. 

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Albatross 2010

     Jonathan, Joa, Beth and Posey are living in and managing a seaside resort hotel on the coast of England.  Emelia ducks into the hotel after getting a ride home because she doesn’t want the driver to know where she really lives.  Beth mistakes her for a new cleaning lady and Emelia starts to work.  Jonathan is an author with severe writer’s block and he offers to teach Emelia about writing.  Emelia and Beth are opposites but both 17 years old and they strike up a friendship.
     I liked this movie and thought it was better than 2*?  There are a lot of complications, Jonathan’s family is very different from Emelia’s family.  She’s had a lot of hard knocks and lives with her grandparents.  3 ½* (I liked this movie)

90 min, Drama directed by Niall MacCormick with Jessica Brown-Findlay, Sebastian Koch, Julia Ormond, Peter Vaughn, Felicity Jones, Hazel Douglas, Katie Overd.

Note:  Blockbuster 2*, imdb 6.0 out of 10, 45% critic 41% audience on Rotten Tomatoes.   

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The Ambassador 2011

    The filmmaker Mads Brugger establishes himself as a wealthy European-African consul.  His purpose is to expose corruption and profiteering in the Central African Republic of Liberia.  He has multiple hidden cameras and credentials purchased from back-market sources.  He becomes part of the underworld of unscrupulous bureaucrats, blood diamond smuggling, bribery and murder.
    This film is muckraking nonfiction, a performance piece and a nervy documentary somewhat in the style of Sacha Baron Cohen but this is reality.  I could not get into this movie and become interested.  I’m not sure if it’s the filming style, it is different but it all seems too unreal to be true plus it’s all talking and meetings?  2 ½* (I didn’t like this movie)

93 min, Doc directed by Mads Brugger with Colin Evans, Dalkia Gilbert, Eva Jakobsen, Varney Sherman, Albert.

Note:  Blockbuster 3 ½*, imdb 7.2 out of 10, 76% critic 75% audience on Rotten Tomatoes.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Margaret 2011

Margaret (2011)    Lisa is 17 years old and she lives with her younger brother and divorced mom in Manhattan.  Her father has been planning a horse back riding trip in Arizona and she sets out to buy a cowboy hat.  She’s unable to find one in the stores but she sees the bus driver is wearing a hat like she wants.  She tries to get on the bus but he doesn’t open the door.  She signals and yells that she likes his hat and she wants to know where she can get one like it.  She is distracting the driver and he doesn’t see the light has changed from green to red.  A woman with a small grocery cart steps in front of the bus.
    Margaret needs counseling but her family and teachers don’t seem to see this.  She feels the heavy weight of distracting the driver but she feels the driver is not suffering as much as she is.  Everything in her life becomes affected by her guilt, her relationship with her family, friends and her grades.  I think this film is narrow in focus and many characters were brought in to expand the scope but they just cause confusion and distraction.  3* (This movie is OK)

150 min, Drama directed by Kenneth Lonergan with Anna Paquin, Matt Damon, Mark Ruffalo, Jean Reno, Matthew Broderick, J. Smith Cameron, Allison Janney, Jeanne Berlin.

Note:  Blockbuster 2 ½*, imdb 6.6 out of 10, 72% critic 51% audience on Rotten Tomatoes.

Special Note:  This film was held up due to a lengthy post-production process, it had been scheduled for release in 2009.  Why is Anna Paquin playing someone who is 17 years old, in 2008 she was 27 years old?  Also, Jean Reno has a ridiculous accent that distracts you from everything he says?

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Rosetta 1999

Product Details    Rosetta is about 18 years old and she lives in France.  She is let go from her job and she fights to stay, she punches the man who has told her to leave.  She was a factory worker on a trial period and even though she has done a good job, she’s being let go.  This job was very important to her and the factory people don’t understand how important.  She lives in a trailer with her alcoholic mother and she does everything herself.  She must find another job, she goes looking for work like someone going to war. 
    Rosetta is very resourceful and mature in the difficulties of life but immature in other aspects.  She uses a broken bottle and a worm to catch fish from the river by their trailer.  She won’t take charity of any kind and she tries desperately to help her mother stay away from alcohol.  There is a lot going on in this film but it seems like the same thing all the time, either Rosetta is fighting or running, you can’t view that for 95 minutes and think this is a good film?  3* (This movie is OK)

95 min, Drama directed by Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne with Emilie Dequenne, Fabrizio Rongione, Anne Yernaux, Olivier Gourmet, Bernard Marbaix, Frederic Bodson.

Note:  Imdb 7.4 out of 10, 88% critic 81% audience on Rotten Tomatoes.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Headhunters 2011

    Roger is a businessman in Norway who lives lavishly and way above his income.  He steals and fences art to make ends meet (poor thing).  He is very insecure about his beautiful wife Diana and he showers her with expensive gifts to stay on her good side.   At Diana’s gallery opening, he meets Clas, a man who has just retired with a three million dollar buyout.  Clas has inherited his mother’s apartment, he intends to renovate and live there.  Diana tells Roger that Clas has an authentic Rubens in this apartment.
    Why do thieves always need one last job and one last payday?  Clas is a former mercenary and an expert in using undetectable micro-transmitters for tracking people.  I would think he would be an easy mark and the best target for an art theft?  NOT!!  A lot of twists and turns but don't inspect them too closely.   3* (This movie is OK)

100 min, Mystery directed by Morten Tyldum with Aksel Hennie, Synnove Macody Lund, Julie R. Olgaard, Elvind Sander,  Nikolaj Coster-Waldau.

Note:  Blockbuster 4*, imdb 7.5 out of 10, 92% critic 86% audience on Rotten Tomatoes.   
Headhunters (2011)