Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Day of the Falcon 2011

Day of the Falcon     This film is set in the Arab states of the 1930’s.  Nesib, the emir of Hobeika and Amar, the sultan of Salmaah both claim ownership of the Yellow Belt.  This is a vast area of land separating land of the two men.  They strike an agreement, Nesib adopts the two sons of Salmaah and the Yellow Belt will remain a no-mans land.  Peace remains until a Texas oil prospector reveals to Nesib that there is black gold in the Yellow Belt.  This find will mean unlimited wealth and power for Nesib, if he claims the land.
     This is terrible!!  The casting is unbelievable!!  Banderas is from Spain, Pinto is from Bombay, Strong is from London, Rahim is from France, Ahmed is from London.  How did they suddenly get to be Arabs?  1 ½* (I really didn’t like this movie) 

130 min, Drama directed by Jean-Jacques Annaud with Antonio Banderas, Mark Strong, Tahar Rahim, Freida Pinto, Riz Ahmed, Akin Gazi, Liya Kebede, Lotfi Dziri.

Note:  Blockbuster 1 ½*, imdb 6.6 out of 10, 13% critic 49% audience on
Rotten Tomatoes.

The Mysterious Death on the Underground Railway 1973

The Mysterious Death on the Underground Railway (1973) Poster     A young woman hurriedly gets on a London subway train and hopes she will not be late upon arriving at her stop.  A gentleman reading a newspaper is already seated in this compartment.  Just before the train departs, another man joins them.  When the train arrives, the conductor finds the young woman is dead.  No one knows her identity and the police set up a room for people to sign in to see if they know her.  A young man and woman look at the woman and realize she is their missing wife/sister.  It’s very distressing for both of them to find she has not just disappeared but is dead. An inquest is held to determine how she died and if there is a need for a trial.
      This is very good, a young woman reporter is a friend of a policeman and they are determined to get to the bottom of this case.   The prosecutor is very funny, he seems to be constantly eating?  4* (I really liked this movie) 

50 min, Mystery directed by Graham Evans with Judy Geeson, John Savident, Richard Beckinsale, James Cairncross, Anthony Higgins, Cyd Hayman, Frank Wylie.

Note:  Imdb 7.3 out of 10.

The Blackheath Poisonings 1992

The Blackheath Poisonings (1992) Poster     This film is based on a 1978 novel by Julian Symons and set in the Victorian era of the 1890’s.  The head of a toy company dies suddenly and then his mother dies soon after.  Two families, the Collards and the Vandervents own the company.   They also live together in spacious Albert Villa near the London suburb of Blackheath.  To outsiders, it appears they have the perfect life but there are many secrets.
      I enjoyed watching this with it’s twists and turns.  I was not able to pick out who committed the murders because final clues are not revealed until the last segment.  3 ½* (I liked this movie)

180 min, Drama directed by Stuart Orme with Christine Kavanaugh, Ian McNeice, Zoe Wanamaker, Judy Parfitt, Patrick Malahide, James Faulkner, Christien Anholt, Julia St. John, Nicholas Woodeson, Ronald Fraser.

Note:  Blockbuster 2 ½*, imdb 6.9 out of 10.

A Cat in Paris 2010

A Cat in Paris (2010) Poster     Zoe is a seven-year old girl and she hasn’t spoken since the death of father.  He was a police detective and he was killed by a powerful underworld boss.  Zoe has a black cat that lives a double life.  By day, Dino is her precious pet and in the night the cat accompanies Nico.  He is a Paris cat burglar making his rounds along the rooftops.  Zoe’s mother, Jeanne is also a detective and she has been working hard to track down Victor Costa.  This is the man behind the killing of Zoe's father.
     This is very good, the animation, the characters and the background scenery of Paris.  The characters are hand drawn, not done by computer and with a different style.  4* (I really liked this movie.

62 min, Animation directed by Alain Gagnol and Jean-Loup Felicioli with the voices of Oriane Zani, Jean Benguigui, Dominique Blanc, Bruno Salomone, Bernadette Lafont, Bernard Bouillon, Jacques Ramade.

Note:  Blockbuster 4*, imdb 6.7 out of 10, 81% critic and 73% audience on Rotten Tomatoes.

Chasing Ice 2012

Chasing Ice (2012) Poster     James Balog is a photographer for National Geographic, he was once a skeptic about climate change and global warming.  Once he started on his Extreme Ice Survey, he discovered photographic proof through time-lapse cameras that glaciers are rapidly changing.  When ice falls off of a glacier it is called calving and this process is tracked through multi-year recording.
     The photographs provide undeniable proof that there is climate change and global warming.  It’s alarming to see the glaciers moving back to nearly nothing.  Glacier National Park will need a new name.  4* (I really liked this movie) 

74 min, Documentary by Jeff Orlowski with James Balog, Svavar Jonatansson, Adam LeWinter, Tad Pfeiffer, Jason Box, Louie Psihoyos, Kitty Boone, Jeff Orlowski, Sylvia Earle, Dennis Dimick, Suzanne Balog.

Note: Imdb 7.4 out of 10, 96% critic 83% audience on Rotten Tomatoes.

Left to Die: The Sandra and Tammi Chase Story 2012

Product Details     Based on a true story.  Sandra Chase is encouraged by her daughter Tammi to take a surprise birthday trip to Ecuador.  She goes with her boyfriend that she has recently started to date.  They have a wonderful time and Sandra is very glad she listened to her daughter about going on the trip.  Everything changes and becomes complicated at the airport when the couple is detained.  Sandra cannot understand what is going on when two packages of drugs were found in her luggage.  Of course, Sandra doesn’t know anything about the drugs or how they got there.  She is taken to an Ecuadorian prison where life is very different from anything she has known before.  In addition, she has medical problems that require treatment and medications.
     This is good even for a TV movie.  Barbara Hershey and Rachael Leigh Cook do a good job with a very believable portrayal of a mother and daughter.  Plus, Hershey is not afraid to show herself looking grim without makeup and hairstyling.  3 ½* (I liked this movie)

90 min, Drama directed by Leon Ichaso with Barbara Hershey, Rachael Leigh Cook, Vincent Irizarry, Nicholas Gonzalez, Michael Hayatt, Derek Ray, Emily Foxier.

Note:  Imdb 6.0 out of 10, 67% audience on Rotten Tomatoes.
Special Note:  This could be a tutorial on what not to do after a trip to South America!

The Numbers Station 2013:

The Numbers Station (2013) Poster     The numbers station broadcasts codes to CIA agents, there is a code book as the guideline and the codes change every day along with the changes of the broadcasts.  Emerson Kent is a black-ops agent and he is discredited when he doesn't make a necessary kill.  His partner hits him in the head in order to take out a witness himself.  He’s reassigned to protect one of the code broadcasters.  They arrive for work one day at the station and everything has gone wrong.
     This could have been good and different but many things are not explained clearly enough and they just become more espionage mumbo jumbo.  Cusack plays his character with the constant same grimness and he looks terrible with overly dyed black hair and eyebrows.  2* (I didn’t like this movie)
89 min, Mystery directed by Kasper Barfoed with John Cusack, Malin Akerman, Liam Cunningham, Richard Brake, Bryan Dick, Finbar Lynch, Lucy Griffiths, Joey Ansah.

Note:  Blockbuster 1 ½*, imdb 5.3 out of 10, 29% critic 28% audience on Rotten Tomatoes.

No 2012

No (2012) Poster     Rene Saavedra is an advertising executive in Chile.  He is called upon to head the campaign against military dictator Augusto Pinochet.  Their financial resources are limited and they are under constant surveillance by Pinochet’s people.  Rene needs to come up with a plan to free this country from oppression.  The military coup has been in power from 1973 for 15 years.  There has been intimidation, vote rigging, violence and murder.  Pressure is being applied on Pinochet by his international allies to have a referendum on his leadership.  Yes means 8 more years of the same, no will mean free elections.  Pinochet believes he can rally the people to support him and he does not have a chance of losing.  There will be a 27 day period until October 5, 1988 for this campaign.  Each side will get 15 minutes of television airtime each day.
     When this movie gets going, it’s just one television commercial after another!  Constantly showing the ads for the yes campaign and the no campaign.  It’s in Spanish with subtitles so you do have to pay attention to be involved but this is not worth the effort.  2* (I didn’t like this movie)

118 min, Drama directed by Pablo Larrain with Gael Garcia Bernal, Alfredo Castro. Antonia Zegers, Marcial Tagle, Pascal Montero, Jaime Vadell, Elsa Poblete.

Note:  Blockbuster 4*, imdb 7.4 out of 10, 93% critic 80% audience on Rotten Tomatoes.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Pitch Perfect 2012

Pitch Perfect     Beca arrives a her new college and she doesn’t expect to fit in.  She is interested in music and only what is coming out of her headphones.  She sings in the shower and is immediately recruited for a female acoustic singing group.  There are a lot of rules for being in this group and there is not much room for change.  This is what you are going to do and this is how you are going to do it!  The biggest problem with this method is they are not winning competitions.  The male group is beating them up using innovation.  Beca would like to provide input on changing everything about the group but she’s voted down constantly.
    OK, this must be a movie for tweens or teens who are interested in this type of music.  The first third of the movie made me want to gag and turn it off.  This is not very funny and some of the music is the only thing going for it.  3* (This movie is OK)

112 min, Comedy directed by Jason Moore with Anna Kendrick, Skylar Astin, Ben Platt, Brittany Snow, Anna Camp, Rebel Wilson, Alexis Knapp, Michael Dean Ester.

Note:  Blockbuster 3 ½*, imdb, 7.2 out of 10, 81% critic 83% audience on Rotten Tomatoes.

Starlet 2012

Starlet     Jane is 21 years old, she lives with her roommate, Melissa, in a San Fernando CA apartment.  Jane has a very cute Chihuahua boy named Starlet, she picked out the name before she adopted the dog and still used it even though he's a boy dog.  She wants to fix up her room and her roommate suggests she go to garage sales instead of buying new things.  Jane goes to Sadie’s house and buys a thermos from the 85 year old to use as a flower vase.  When she washes out the thermos, she finds rolls of 100-dollar bills inside!!  She tries to talk to Sadie about the purchase but she says, “I told you there were no refunds,” and slams the door. 
     The best actor in this film is Starlet, so cute and always taking a nap.  Sadie is a real curmudgeon and she does nothing to make herself at all sweet.  Jane has the roommate from hell!!  This is very slow paced and has very little action.  A lot of times you will want to turn this off and I cannot promise you will find this worth watching.  3* (This movie is OK)

103 min, Drama directed by Sean Baker with Dree Heminway, Boonee, Besedka Johnson, Stella Maeve, James Ransone, Karren Karagulian.

Note:  Blockbuster 3 ½*, imdb 6.4 out of 10, 88% critic 70% audience on Rotten Tomatoes.
Special Note:  This is the first film for Besedka Johnson and she was discovered at a West Hollywood YMCA.  Dree is the daughter of Mariel Hemingway.

The Stone Angel 2007

The Stone Angel     Based on a novel by Margaret Laurence.  Hagar Shipley is 90 years old but she’s not ready to go into a nursing home.  She lives in Manitoba with her oldest son, Marvin and his wife.  She has gaps in her memory but otherwise she is doing pretty well.  She has been to the doctor and he ran some tests, they need to wait a week for the results.  Hagar starts thinking about her past and this story is told in flashbacks.  What she really wants to do is get out of town before this nursing home idea gets out of hand.  She cashes her check that was supposed to go to her son by direct deposit and heads out for the seaside home where she used to live.
     It must have been a difficult job to write this screenplay based on a hefty Canadian novel that spans decades.  I was surprised that Christine Home looked so much like Ellen Burstyn would probably have looked in her younger years.  There is an emotional punch in looking back on her life.  3 ½* (I liked this movie)

115 min, Drama directed by Kari Skogland with Ellen Burstyn, Christine Home, Cole Hauser, Ellen Page, Sheila McCarthy, Kevin Zegers, Dylan Baker, Samantha Weinstein.

Note:  Blockbuster 3*, imdb 6.1 out of 10, 39% critic 58% audience on Rotten Tomatoes.

The Rector's Wife 1994

Rector's Wife

   Based on a novel by Joanna Trollope.  Anna Bouverie is married to Peter and he is the Rector of a small parish.  They have two children, Luke and Flora.  Luke is a teen who wants to take a trip to India.  Flora is having trouble in school because the other children bully her over her glasses and her second hand clothing.  As the Rector, Peter does not make a lot of money and he was not selected to move up to a better paying position.  Anna starts working in a supermarket to supplement their income.  She wants to help Luke travel to India and send Flora to a different school.  Some of the community scorns Anna for taking a job working with the public.  Previously, she worked at home translating English to German for extra income.
     Peter becomes more and more domineering and insensitive to any of Anna’s needs after he is turned down for the promotion.  Anna starts to think about leaving the marriage.  It’s difficult to be in an unpaid position but constantly called upon by the community.  This is good, character development, scenery and life’s complications.   
3 ½* (I liked this movie)

203 min, Drama directed by Giles Foster with Lindsay Duncan, Jonathan Coy, Simon Fenton, Lucy Dawson, Stephen Dillane, Ronald Pickup, Miles Anderson.

Note:  Blockbuster 2 ½*, imdb 7.5 out of 10.

The Heart of Me 2002

The Heart of Me     This film is based on Rosamond Lehmann’s 1953 novel, The Echoing Grove.  The setting is London in 1934.  The opening scene is of a funeral for the husband of Mrs. Burkett and the father of Madeleine and Dinah.  Rickie is married to Madeleine and they have a son, Anthony.  Dinah begins seeing her sister's husband, Rickie.  Madeleine has suspicions but she blocks these from her mind.  The story picks up 10 years later when Madeleine and Dinah have lunch together.  Then the story is told in flashbacks.
     This is so predictable and nothing happening is a surprise.  It follows the checklist of this type of melodramatic movie.  The going back and forth in the flashbacks makes this choppy.  3* (This movie is OK)

96 min, Drama directed by Thaddeus O’Sullivan with Helena Bonham Carter, Olivia Williams, Paul Bettany, Elearnor Bron, Luke Newberry, Rosie Ede, Gillian Hanna, Andrew Havill.

Note:  Blockbuster 3*, imdb 6.4 out of 10, 50% critic 60% audience on Rotten Tomatoes.

The Vanishing of the Bees 2009

The Vanishing of the Bees     An investigative look at what is happening to bee colonies around the world.  Colony Collapse Disorder is happening to many beekeepers, both commercial and private.  It is difficult to determine the exact cause of the disorder because only a few dead bees are found on the ground next to a colony.  It is believed that systemic pesticides are a big factor because they are present in all stages of the growth of a treated seed. 
     The alarm raised by this film is real but Queen of the Sun is a much better film.  Ellen Page is just OK as the narrator and not very dynamic.  This also needs better direction and editing.  3* (This movie is OK)

87 min, Doc directed by Maryam Henein and George Langworthy with Ellen Page, Bret Adee, Dennis Cardoza, Henri Clement, Jay Feldman, Emilia Fox, Maryann Frazier.

Note:  Imdb 7.0 out of 10, 59% critic 69% audience on Rotten Tomatoes.

Blue Jasmine 2013

Blue Jasmine     Ginger has a small apartment in San Francisco, she has two boys and a boyfriend, Chili.  She works as a checker and stocker in a small local market and Chili is a mechanic.  They were planning on Chili moving into the apartment.  Ginger is divorced from Augie and he will be leaving the area soon to work on a pipeline in Alaska.  Jasmine lives in New York with her husband Hal and they have a son, Danny.  Jasmine learns Hal has been cheating on her for a very long time and he tells her he is leaving her for one of the women.  Jasmine and Hal are very wealthy, they lose everything, Hal goes to jail and he commits suicide.  Jasmine had a mental breakdown and she comes to San Francisco to live with her sister Ginger until she gets on her feet.
     This is excellent, the casting, scenery of San Francisco and New York, acting and the storyline.  Cate Blanchett does a wonderful performance in the lead role.  She’s hanging onto everything just by a thread at all times.  Sally Hawkins is perfectly opposite from Cate in every way in her role.  There is every possible emotion in this film.  Also, a lot of humor even with the dark subject matter.  4 ½* (I loved this movie) 
98 min, Drama directed by Woody Allen with Cate Blanchett, Alec Baldwin, Peter Sarsgaard, Sally Hawkins, Andrew Dice Clay, Bobby Cannavale.

Note:  Imdb 7.9 out of 10, 90% critic 85% audience on Rotten Tomatoes.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Where do we go Now? 2011

Where Do We Go Now?     This movie was filmed in a remote village in Lebanon.  The women are tired of the men always going to war against each other because of religious differences.  The local cemetery is filled with their male relatives and they don’t want to see more added.  A bus of very different women is stranded in their area and they take them into their houses.  At least this is a distraction for the men, they cease their bickering and can’t take their eyes off the women.
     There are a lot of cultural differences that we do not understand between Lebanon and America.  I did not see any comedy in this film and it is not very interesting.  3* (This movie is OK)

110 min, Comedy directed by Nadine Labaki with Claude Baz Moussawbaa, Leyla Hakim, Nadine Labaki, Yvonne Maalouf, Antoinette Noufally, Julian Farhat.

Note:  Blockbuster 3*, imdb 7.1 out of 10, 51% critic 74% audience on Rotten Tomatoes.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

There Be Dragons 2011

There Be Dragons     Josemaria Escriva was the founder of Opus Dei in Spain.  Robert Torres travels from London to Spain to do research on Josemaria for a book he is writing.  Robert reaches a dead end when he interviews his own father.  Manolo has been secretive about this chapter of his life and refuses to speak as an official source.  Josemaria and Manolo grew up together and were friends for a long time.  Their paths in life took different courses when Manolo went to fight the Spanish Civil War and Josemaria embraced his faith as a priest.
     I had a difficult time with this film.  During the war scenes, it’s hard to tell the people apart.  Which one is Manolo, Oriol, Leila, Lldiko, the only one I was sure of was Josemaria?  It’s also long and didn’t keep my interest after the period of their younger years.  3* (This movie is OK)

122 min, Drama directed by Roland Joffe with Charlie Cox, Wes Bentley, Dougray Scott, Rodrigo Santoro, Jordi Molla, Derek Jacobi, Golshifteh Farahani, Geraldine Chaplin.

Note:  Blockbuster 3*, imdb 5.7 out of 10, 11% critic 58% audience on Rotten Tomatoes.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Identity Thief 2013

Identity Thief     Sandy Patterson has a very nice wife and two beautiful girls.  He works hard and earns $50,000 a year.  A group of employees get together and decide to strike out on their own forming a new company.  He can make $250,000 a year at this new job.  He receives a very sweet phone call informing him that his credit card has been compromised and he gives out his identifying information.  This sets Diana into action, she makes a credit card and driver’s license with Sandy’s information.  The next phone calls he gets are about overdrafts on his credit card.  The police arrest him for not appearing at his court date for public drunkenness and assault.  Sandy files to Florida from Colorado to meet up with the woman who is the new Sandy.
      I found this film extremely stressful to watch and totally predictable.  I had to stop watching, identity theft hits too close to home and is a fear of many people.  You do need to take steps to straighten out identity theft yourself.  The police have bigger fish to fry.  Bateman is wasted as the constant straight man, McCarthy is someone you don’t want to meet and this film is not funny.  1 ½* (I really didn’t like this movie)

111 min, Comedy directed by Seth Gordon with Jason Bateman, Melissa McCarthy, John Cho, Jon Favreau, Amanda Peet, T.I. Genesis Rodriguez, Morris Chestnut, Robert Patrick.

Note:  Blockbuster 3*, imdb 5.6 out of 10, 20% critic 55% audience on Rotten Tomatoes.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

56 Up 2012

56 Up    This series started in 1964 with the film Seven Up.   Interviews were conducted with fourteen children from diverse backgrounds all over England.  Every seven years, they have been interviewed again about their lives and their dreams for the future.  At the age of 56, there are a lot of life-changing decisions and surprising developments have happened.
    There seems to be not as much pressure to get a University education in Britian as in the States.  It is very interesting to peek into their lives and see what they hoped for and what actually happened.  Many are divorced and did have children even though they thought they would not.  You can see the same features in their faces as they have aged too.  3 1/2* (I liked this movie)

144 min, Doc directed by Michael Apted with Bruce Balden, Jacqueline Bassett, Symon Basterfield, Andrew Brackfield, John Brisby, Peter Davies, Suzanne Dewey, Charles Furneaux, Nicholas Hitchon, Neil Hughes, Lynn Johnson, Paul Kligerman, Susan Sullivan, Tony Walker.

Note:  Imdb 7.6 out of 10, 100% critic 74% audience on Rotten Tomatoes.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

On the Road 2012

On the Road     Based on a novel by Jack Kerouc.  New York writer Sal Paradise goes on a road trip for inspiration.  He’s been shaken by the death of his father and his writing career seems to be stalled.  He meets Dean Moriaty and they begin to travel across the American southwest together.  Dean is a charming ex-con, Marylou, his new wife is traveling with him.  They set out to break their molds and search for the different.  This begins to change their lives.
     Jack Kerouc’s novel is a classic and an exciting read, the Beat Generation bible.  This film seems to have nothing going on and it’s boring.  How can that be on a road adventure?  I don’t know but it is so?  3* (This movie is OK)

124 min, Adventure directed by Walter Salles with Sam Riley, Garrett Hedlund, Kristen Stewart, Amy Adams, Tom Sturridge, Alice Braga, Elisabeth Moss, Kirsten Dunst.

Note:  Imdb 6.1 out of 10, 44% critic 38% audience on Rotten Tomatoes.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Jeremy Fink and the Meaning of Life 2011

Jeremy Fink and the Meaning of Life

     Based on a book by Wendy Mass.  Jeremy’s dad went to a fortuneteller when he was 13 years old.  She told him he would die when he was forty years old.  The prophecy came true and his dad died in an accident at forty.  Jeremy receives a box in the mail held by a friend of his dad’s until a month before Jeremy's 13th birthday.  The box needs four keys to open it but the keys have been misplaced.  Jeremy sets out with his friend Lizzy to try to find keys that will fit the locks before his birthday.
     Jeremy and Lizzie learn a lot this summer before Jeremy’s birthday and they also grow up too.  Interesting and the young actors are good.  Somewhat like Extremely Loud and Extremely close except the boy was searching for a lock that fit his key.  3 ½* (I liked this movie)

91 min, Drama directed by Tamar Halpem with Maxwell Beer, Mira Sorvino, Joe Pantoliano, Ryan Simpkins, Michael Urie, Mimo Gandhi, Daniel Cosgrove, Heather Brave, Gary Allen, Betsy Brandt.

Note:  Blockbuster 2 ½*, imdb 7.1 out of 10, 57% audience on Rotten Tomatoes

Monday, August 19, 2013

Les Miserables 2012

Les Misérables     This film is an adaptation of the musical Les Miserables and without major changes to the original plot.  Jean Valjean was sent to prison for 19 years, his crime was to steal a loaf of bread for his sister’s staving daughter.  He’s a very strong man and he worked on a crew pulling a ship into a dry dock. As a former prisoner, is he under the watchful eye of police officer Javert.  Soon his release, he steels silver from a local church.  When he is caught and taken back to the church, the priest states that Jean was given the silver.  Jean has a change of heart after the actions of the priest, he becomes a mayor and local businessman.  He later adopts a young girl, Cossette, the daughter of Fantine.  She was a former employee forced to become a prostitute in order to earn money to live and send money for the care of her daughter.
     I only lasted about one hour with this film and I wanted to quit sooner.  I found it very boring, I kept yawning and thinking of other things more interesting I could be doing.  Watching grass grow, watching paint dry, placing photos in albums, pulling weeds and standing out in direct sun during an intensely hot day just to sweat!!  I didn’t like the style of constant singing.  Usually in musicals, there is some action in between the singing and the style is not constant dirt, hungry people and drabness without even a faint ray of sunshine.  This is probably a love or hate type of film separating viewers into two camps.  1* (I hated this movie)
158 min, Drama directed by Tom Hooper with Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, Anne Hathaway, Amanda Seyfried, Sacha Baron Cohen, Helena Bonham Carter, Eddie Redmayne, Aaron Tveit, Smantha Barks. 

Note:  Blockbuster 3 ½*, imdb 7.7 out of 10, 69% critic 80% audience on Rotten Tomatoes.
Special Note:  Some of the reviews of this film are so funny!!  I screamed a scream instead of I had a dream!!

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Smitty 2012

Product Details     Ben is thirteen years old and he’s a brat!  He lives with his hard-working single mother, Amanda.  He gets in real trouble when he tags along with a bad crowd as they damage a family owned restaurant.  Ben doesn’t give up the names of the other guys and he goes to court.  His choice is juvenile hall or spending the summer in Iowa on his grandfather’s farm.  After his first day, Ben is ready to leave the next day and he hits the road.  His grandfather comes after him, gets him a job for $5 an hour to earn money for a guitar he wants and a smart dog to keep track of him.
     Smitty deserves the title of this film.  He’s got it all, smart, obedient, cute, loveable, sticks to his job and he’s the best actor in this movie.  In one of the later scenes he’s supposed to create a real tear session for viewers but he’s so cute that you just have to laugh.  3 ½* (I liked this movie) (must love dogs!!)

94 min, Drama directed by David M. Evans with Brandon Tyler-Russell, Freddie James, Peter Fonda, Mira Sorvino, Louis Gossett Jr., Jason London.

Note:  Blockbuster 3 ½*, imdb 5.0 out of 10, 100% audience on Rotten Tomatoes.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Changing Times 2004

Changing Times (Les Temps Qui Changent)     Antoine is a construction supervisor who does a lot of traveling to different jobs.  He goes from France to Tangier to make sure a complicated job is completed by the due date.  It’s been 30 years since Antoine has seen Cecile and he has never married.  She was his first love and he’s still in love with her.  She is living in Tangier, married with a son and the host of an evening radio program.  Cecile likes her life the way it is and she is not interested in making changes.  Her son arrives for a visit and springs the surprise that he has brought his girlfriend and her son with him.  The addition of more people causes complications in the household routine.
     This film swings back and forth between the main characters with other people and situations thrown into the mix.  This style doesn’t add to the film but makes it seem very unfocused.  Perhaps this would be much better if the relationship of the main characters were central without the problems of the supporting characters.  I really wonder if the outcome of this film would be something that would happen in real life?  3* (This movie is OK)

100 min, Drama directed by Andre Techine with Catherine Deneuve, Gerard Depardieu, Gilbert Melki, Malik Zidi, Lubna Azabal, Tanya Lopert, Nabila Baraka, Jabir Elomri.

Note:  Blockbuster 2 ½*, imdb 6.1 out of 10, 63% critic 41% audience on Rotten Tomatoes.

Friday, August 16, 2013

In Our Nature 2012

In Our Nature     Seth and his girlfriend Andie decide to get out of Brooklyn and head to his family’s weekend home in upstate New York.  They are planning a romantic getaway but unexpectedly his father and his new girlfriend had the same idea.  Seth and his father Gil don't get along very well and his parents are divorced.  Vicky, Gil's girlfriend, hasn’t met Seth or Andie before and Gil hasn’t even heard about Andie.  Both couples decide right away they will leave but then they decide it’s a long drive back and they might as way stay for dinner. 
     There is a not of old family business brought up along with new business on all sides.  Seemingly every other minute there is constant tension, stress, arguments, blunt inquiries and complaints.  Certainly not a relaxing movie out in the country for the weekend.  3* (This movie is OK)

103 min, Drama directed by Brian Savelson with Zach Gilford, Jena Malone, John Slattery, Gabrielle Union, David IIku, Lisa Velten Smith, Lola Cook, Hudson Price.

Note:  Imdb 5.5 out of 10, 50% critic 48% audience on Rotten Tomatoes.

Any Day Now 2012

Any Day Now     This film was inspired by a true story.  Marco is a teen boy with Down syndrome who lives next door to Rudy in the 70’s.  His mother is a drug addict, the boy was left alone all night and she didn’t come home in the morning because she is in jail.  Rudy tries to take care of him but Protective Services steps in and takes the boy to a care facility.  Rudy meets Paul, he is a lawyer and district attorney.   They visit the jail to get Marco’s mom to release custody while she is away.  Marco is happy to live with Rudy and Paul plus he is doing very well in a new school.  Everything goes smoothly for a while but then Rudy and Paul find themselves in a long court battle to become the legal guardians of Marco.
     This is good, the system does not care about Marco, only what looks good and works on paper.  The fact that he is really wanted and loved doesn’t matter by Rudy and Paul.  3 ½* (I liked this movie)

97 min, Drama directed by Travis Fine with Alan Cumming, Garret Dillahunt, Isaac Leyva, Frances Fisher, Gregg Henry, Jamie Anne Allman, Chris Mulkey.

Note:  Blockbuster 3*, imdb 6.5 out of 10, 77% critic 75% audience on Rotten Tomatoes.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

ParaNorman 2012

      Developed by animation company LAIKA.  A small town comes under siege by zombies and Norman, local boy, is able to see people who are dead.  He can see his Grandma on the couch and talk to her.  He has only one friend, the other kids, people of the town and his parents think he is “odd.”  The zombies rise out of the graveyard one day a year because of a curse put on them by a little girl.
ParaNorman    This is easy to watch without being too scary with a lot of good animation.  You can indulge viewing all the paranormal threats without having to peer through an opening in your fingers.  3 ½* (I liked this movie)

93 min, Comedy directed by Chris Butler, Sam Fell with voices by Kodi Smit-McPhee, Tucker Albrizzi, John Goodman, Casey Affleck, Jeff Garlin, Bernard Hill, Anna Kendrick, Leslie Mann.

Note:  Blockbuster 3 ½*, imdb 7.1 out of 10, 86% critic 75% audience on Rotten Tomatoes.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

The Silence 2010

The Silence     Sinikka is 13 years old, she had a fight with her parents and bicycled away in July 2009.  Her bike is found in the same wheat field where another bike was found 23 years ago on the same date.  Pia was also riding her bicycle in July 1986, she was murdered and her body was later found in the lake.  The killer was never found and retired police detective Krischan believes the two crimes are connected.  This time he is determined to find the killer.  With the help of ambitious young officer David, he may solve both of these cases.
     This is a film with two facets, psychological character study and police procedures.  The story unfolding is one of obsession, the permanence of loss, and the haunting of our past deeds.  Very heavy material only lightened by the beautiful cinematography of the Bavarian countryside.  3 ½* (I liked this movie)

119 min, Mystery directed by Baran bo Odar with Ulrich Thomsen, Wotan Wilke Mohring, Katrin Sab, Sebastian Blomberg, Burghart Klaubner, Karoline Eichhorn.

Note:  Blockbuster 3 ½*, imdb 6.7 out of 10, 87% critic 78% audience on Rotten Tomatoes.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Loose Cannons 2010

Loose Cannons (Mine Vaganti)     Vincenzo has devoted most of his life to the family’s successful pasta company founded by his grandfather.  He plans to turn the business over to his sons, Antonio and Tommaso.  Antonio has been working beside his father for years but Tommaso has been living in Rome.  He is supposed to be attending business school but he has really been studying literature and he wants to be a writer.  They have a new business partner and plan to have a large family dinner to discuss business details. 
     In Italy family is everything and it’s expected you will work in the family business.  The sons don’t want this job but the daughter would love to work in the business.  There are a lot of surprises before, during and after the dinner.  This is supposed to be a comedy but it is not at all funny?  A slow pace and it's difficult to care about most of the characters.  They think only about themselves and their sheltered family life.  3* (This movie is OK)

110 min, Drama directed by Ferzan Ozpetek with Ennio Fantastichini, Alessandro Preziosi, Riccardo Scamarcio, Carmine Recano, Bianca Nappi, Lunetta Savino.

Note:  Blockbuster 3 ½*, imdb 6.9 out of 10, 71% critic 74% audience on Rotten Tomatoes.