Saturday, November 30, 2013

As Cool As I Am 2013

As Cool as I Am     Lucy is a sixteen-year-old tomboy.  Her father is gone a lot at work in Canada but they get along well.  She enjoys doing a lot of the cooking and has an easy-going relationship with her mother.  She becomes more friendly with her best friend Kenny and she starts to notice that her parents’ marriage is not as good as she thought.  The time her father spends away from the family is not like in other marriages.  Also, her mother doesn’t miss her father as much as she does.
     I like Bolger, Danes and Marsden as actors but the plot in this film is very weak.  It seems too much like a TV movie and Bolger is more like a parent than her parents?  I almost stop watching but I wanted to like this and gets just a little better.  3* (This movie is OK)

92 min, Drama directed by Max Mayer with Sarah Bolger, Claire Danes, James Marsden, Thomas Mann, Jeremy Sisto, Rhys Coiro, Peter Fonda, Anika Noni Rose, Jon Tenney.

Note:  Blockbuster 1 ½*, imdb 5.5 out of 10, 17% critic 27% audience on Rotten Tomatoes.

Friday, November 29, 2013

The Fitzgerald Family Christmas 2012

The Fitzgerald Family Christmas     Jim Fitzgerald walked out on his family 20 years ago.  Now he wants to join them for Christmas dinner.  Their mother Jose is opposed to the idea and she has said she will never let him set foot in her house again.  Some of the children never really knew their father at all.  There are a lot of scars from abandonment for them.
     There is nothing here that hasn’t been done and said many times before and probably better.  This film is full of sibling discord, parental resentment and old wounds.  2 ½* (This movie is so-so)  

97 min, Drama directed by Edward Burns with Ed Lauter, Anita Gillette, Edward Burns, Connie Britton, Kerry Bishe, Heather Bruns, Dara Coleman, Brian d’Arcy James, Marsha Dietlein, Noah Emmerich, Caitlin FitzGerald, Tom Guiry, Michael McGlone, Daniella Pineda.

Note:  Blockbuster 3*, imdb 6.3 out of 10, 64% critic 49% audience on Rotten Tomatoes.
Special Note:  A much better film with a Christmas theme is Love Actually.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

The Sapphires 2012

The Sapphires     This film is inspired by a true story.  In 1968, four Aboriginal Australian girls would like to be discovered as singers.  They enter a local talent contest, even though they are the best, they are not selected as the winners.  They meet Dave, he is a talent scout and he wants to transform them into a Motown-inspired singing group.  He knows they have the talent and they just need polish.  Surprisingly, their first real job turns out to be singing for the US troops in Vietnam.  Their parents and other relatives are very worried about this venture but Dave assures them they will be well protected.
     The true story is that there was a singing group called The Sapphires but originally there were three singers.  They performed at hotels, pubs, cabarets, parties, army barracks and universities around Melbourne.  Beverly Briggs and Naomi Mayers declined the trip to Vietnam because they were against the war.  Laurel Robinson asked her sister Lois Peeler to join her.  They performed backup vocals for a New Zealand Maori band.  It was this band that introduced them to soul music.  The character of manager Dave was fiction.  This film follows the formula of this genre but slightly different and interesting.  3 ½* (I liked this movie)

99 min, Drama directed by Wayne Blair with Chris O’Dowd, Miranda Tapsell, Deborah Mailman, Jessica Mauboy, Shari Sebbens.

Note:  Blockbuster 2 ½*, imdb 6.9 out of 10, 92% critic 77% audience on Rotten Tomatoes.
Special Note:  I find it interesting that fictional manager Dave is featured on the DVD cover?

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Far Out Isn’t Far Enough: The Tomi Ungerer Story 2012

Far Out Isn't Far Enough: The Tomi Ungerer Story     This film tells Tomi’s story from his birth in Strasbourg, France in 1931 until the present day.  He was the youngest of four children and his father died in 1935.  The family was poor now and they moved to Logelbach, near Colmar.  He lived through the time of the occupation of Alsace and their lives were taken over by the Germans.  Tomi felt all his artistic talent as an illustrator and children’s book author was passed on to him the moment his father died.  He moved to New York with $60 in his pocket in 1956.  He became very successful through his illustrations in The New Yorker magazine and books published by Harper & Row.
     This is enjoyable and very informative.  Many examples of Tomi’s work are shown as well as other art pieces that influenced his work.  He also tells his story himself through interviews.  3 ½* (I liked this movie)

98 min, Doc directed by Brad Bernstein with Tomi Ungerer, Maurice Sendak, Jules Feiffer, Michael Patrick Hearn, Patrick Skene Catling, Steven Heller, Burton Pike.

Note:  Imdb 6.5 out of 10, 91% critic 92% audience on Rotten Tomatoes.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

41 2013

42 (2013) 
     This film is a historical sports drama and biopic about the 1947 baseball season when the first black Major League player was signed.  Jackie Robinson was number 42 and hired by the Brooklyn Dodgers general manager Branch Rickey.  Robinson faced ugly and vicious racism from the other clubs, fans and at times, his own players.  Rickey asks Robinson not to fight back and let his athletic talent speak for itself.  Soon, in his first year, he becomes one of the most popular players on the team.  Eventually, he became Rookie of the Year.
     This is a very good and enjoyable film.  Ford plays an entirely different character.  Everything seems real about what is happening.  I really thought this was good.  4* (I really liked this movie)

128 min, Drama directed by Brian Helgeland with Harrison Ford, Chadwick Boseman, Nicole Beharie, Christopher Meloni, Ryan Merriman, Lucas Black, Andre Holland, Alan Tudyk, Hamish Linklater,  T.R. Knight, John C. McGinley, Toby Huss, Max Gail, Brady Beyer, James Pickens Jr.

Note:  Blockbuster 3 ½*, imdb 7.5 out of 10, 79% critic 86% audience on Rotten Tomatoes.
Special Note:  There is a scene with the Philadelphia Phillies manager really spewing a tirade against Robinson.  Leo Durocher, the manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers was suspended for a year for an affair with a married actress.  Ben Chapman of the Phillies was just told to “knock it off?”  As an outfielder with the Yankees, Chapman taunted Jewish fans with anti-Semitic slurs and a Nazi salute.

Monday, November 25, 2013

As I Lay Dying 2013

As I Lay Dying     This film is an adaptation of a 1930 William Faulkner novel.  The story is told from the different perspectives of a poor rural Mississippi family.  They are determined to bury their mother Addie in her hometown of Jefferson.  The family plot is much closer but they have made a promise to Addie.  The journey is arduous and through difficult terrain made more so because of a recent rain storm.  The family now consists of the father Anse, sons Darl, Cash, Jewel, Vardaman and daughter Dewey. 
     There is nothing joyful about any scene in this film.  Split screens are also used to divide the narrations.  You just hope throughout the film that you never have to make any trip of this kind ever in your life!!  This is the first film adaptation of this novel and many have considered it unable to be filmed?  3* (This movie is OK)   
109 min, Drama directed by James Franco with Beth Grant, Tim Blake Nelson, Logan Marshall-Green, Danny McBride, Ahna O’Reilly, James Franco, Jim Parrack, Brady Permenter.
Note:  Blockbuster 3*, imdb 5.5 out of 10, 41% critic 44% audience on Rotten Tomatoes.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Pacific Rim 2013

Pacific Rim (2013)     Earth is invaded by a species of giant monsters from the deep called the Kaijus.  Humans build robots called Jaegers to fight the monsters.  At first, one operator was used inside the Jaeger but it was too difficult.  Two operators were then used but they needed to lock minds in a neural bridge before taking on a Kaijus.  There are a lot of failures with the Jaeger and they are going to be decommissioned after years of fighting.  One last onslaught is planned to finally finish the Kaijus.
     This is so ridiculous it’s hard to fathom how it could be so laughable.  The plots of many science fiction monster films are blended together to made an unsuccessful hodgepodge.  Very heavy reliance on special effects, a lot like Transformers, lengthy, dark and wet so you can’t see how silly this is, deafening, no plot and are all the other critics 10 - 12 years old?  I was surprised to see the reviews?  2 1/2* (This movie is so-so)

131 min, Sci-Fi Fantasy directed by Guillermo del Toro with Charlie Hunnam, Idris Elba, Charlie Day, Rob Kazinsky, Ron Perlman, Rinko Kikuchi, Diego Klattenhoff, Burn Gorman, Max Martini.

Note:  Blockbuster 4*, imdb 7.2 out of 10, 72% critic 79% audience on Rotten Tomatoes.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Dead Man Down 2013

     Victor is a rising player in the crime world of New York.  He works for Alphonse, the crime boss who controls underworld.  Alphonse has been receiving small squares cut from a photograph and one of his best men is found dead in a freezer.  What the boss doesn’t know is that Victor is not who they think he is.  He’s a supposed to be on their side but he's a dead man risen from the grave.  His mission is to avenge the death of his wife and daughter.   Beatrice lives with her mother in an apartment across from Victor.  She has a story of her own.  She was hurt in a car crash that left her mentally shattered and one side of her face scarred.
     Oplev directed The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, this film seems like a blend of that slick tough style and Marvel Comics?  The body count is high and starts to add up from the beginning.  Another problem with this film is that Victor and Beatrice are people you don’t care about.  They don’t seem real and what happens to them doesn’t matter?  I also think Howard is miscast, he doesn’t seem tough enough to be the boss?   3* (This movie is OK)

118 min, Mystery/Suspense directed by Niels Arden Oplev with Colin Farrell, Noomi Rapace, Dominic Cooper, Terrence Howard, Isabelle Huppert, Armand Assante.

Note:  Blockbuster 3 ½*, imdb 6.5 out of 10, 38% critic 48% audience on Rotten Tomatoes.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Molly 1999

Molly     Molly McKay has been autistic since early childhood.  She has been in an institution from the time her parents passed away until she is 28 years old.  The place where she has been living is closing and she is released into the custody of her brother.  She has only seen Buck once a year on Christmas when he would come by to give her a gift.  Buck has a lot of problems of his own and taking care of Molly is difficult.  He loves her but in many ways she’s a stranger.  Molly has experimental surgery to implant cells in the portions of her brain that show less development.
     Molly starts to come out of her autism and develop fully as a person.  Buck finally becomes the brother he wanted to be.  Very close to being a Hallmark movie but released by MGM.   The character development is good so you become involved with the people and want this to work for them.  3 ½* (I liked this movie)  

87 min, Drama directed by John Duigan with Elisabeth Shue, Aaron Eckhart, D.W. Moffett, Jill Hennessy, Thomas Jane, Dick Christie.

Note:  Blockbuster 2 ½*, imdb 5.6 out of 10, 14% critic 55% audience on Rotten Tomatoes.  

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days 2012

Diary of a Wimpy Kid 2: Rodrick Rules     This is the third in the series of Wimpy Kid films. Greg Heffley wants to spend the summer playing video games all day.  The only way he can accomplish this is to convince his dad that he’s NOT playing video games all day!  This doesn’t work and the family is banned from video games and TV all summer!  His next plan is to spend time with a girl he likes, Holly Hills.  He goes to the Country Club as a guest of his friend Rowley.  This might work out because Holly goes to the same Country Club.  Another snag arises when Greg’s older brother Rodrick decides he wants to go to the Country Club too.  He wants to hang out with Holly’s sister.  How can a guest invite a guest?  They’ve got to make it work.
     Nothing seems to go right but this is funny.  One of the funniest scenes is Rodrick getting mouth-to-mouth resuscitation from a man who thinks Rodrick was drowning.  3 ½* (I liked this movie)
94 min, Family directed by David Bowers with Zachary Gordon, Devon Bostick, Rachael Harris, Robert Capron, Steve Zahn.
Note:  Blockbuster 3*, imdb 6.1 out of 10, 50% critic 66% audience on Rotten Tomatoes.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The Blackwater Lightship 2004

Product Details     Based on a novel by Com Toibin.  Declan Kehoe is a 30 year-old Irishman suffering from a terminal illness.  He hasn’t let anyone in his family know he’s sick until he had to go to the hospital.  He has a friend contact his sister and she tells his mother and grandmother.  He wants to leave the hospital for as long as he can and stay by the shore at his granny’s house.  His granny, sister, mother and two friends help him settle in until he will need to return to the hospital.  There had been a fracture in his family between all the women but it begins to heal when they are all faced with this emergency.
     OK, this is a Hallmark movie, prepare to get out the tissues!!  I was able to get through this without a single tear by perseverance.   The story is told with a lot of flashbacks but is well done with beautiful photography of the Irish coastline.  3* (This movie is OK)

120 min, Drama directed by John Erman with Dianne Wiest, Gina McKee, Keith McErlean, Angela Lansbury, Frank MCusker, Brian F. O’Byrne.

Note:  Imdb 7.0 out of 10, 62% audience on Rotten Tomatoes.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

At Any Price 2012

At Any Price     Henry Whipple has worked hard to maintain the farm passed on to him from his father and grandfather.  His older son left home to explore the world and to get away from the business.  His younger son wants to be a professional race car driver to also get away from his father and the farm.  A GMO (genetically modified organism) seed supplier receives a tip that Henry has been cleaning and reselling their product.  They want to come to the farm to take samples to see if the allegations are true.  Henry has been seeing a younger woman who decides she likes the younger son better.
     Everything is not fine down on the farm!!  The huge agribusiness corporations have swallowed up the small family farms.  GMO seeds have completely changed the rules.  There are a lot of problems in this film and you want to seen how they resolve but the getting there takes some work.  This has beautiful scenery and in-depth characters but it seems to slowly meander along and take a lot longer than 104 minutes.  There are unexpected twists at the end.  3* (This movie is OK)  

104 min, Drama directed by Ramin Bahrani with Dennis Quaid, Zac Efron, Clancy Brown, Kim Dickens, Heather Graham, Maika Monroe, Patrick W. Stevens, Guy Massey, John Hoogenakker, Laura Atwood.

Note:  Blockbuster 4*, imdb 5.6 out of 10, 51% critic 36% audience on Rotten Tomatoes.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Admission 2013

Admission     Portia Nathan has worked for 16 years as a Princeton admissions officer.  She is hoping to take the helm of this department after the current boss retires.  She will be glad to let go of traveling to different schools promoting applications to Princeton.  John Pressman gives her a call, he's a former college classmate now running an alternative high school with several gifted students.  Portia stops by the school on her recruiting trip and it is a much different experience than her other stops.  John tries to persuade Portia that one of the students, Jeremiah, would be the perfect candidate for Princeton.  She will need to be very careful she doesn’t overstep her bounds in looking over Jeremiah’s application.
     I thought this was enjoyable, it’s not predictable and it is funny.  Lily Tomlin is Portia’s mother and she is a crazy feminist!!  I’m surprised the other reviews are so low for this film?  This is just a lightweight comedy with some romance and it’s not brain surgery?  3 ½* (I liked this movie)

107 min, Comedy directed by Paul Weitz with Tina Fey, Paul Rudd, Nat Wolff, Gloria Reuben, Wallace Shawn, Christopher Evan Welch, Sarita Choudhury.

Note:  Blockbuster 2 ½*, imdb 5.6 out of 10, 38% critic 35% audience on Rotten Tomatoes.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Shannon's Rainbow 2012

Shannon's Rainbow     This film is based on a true story.  Shannon’s father passes away suddenly and she becomes lost in grief with anger and sadness.  She learns her father kept a secret, he lied about her mother being dead.  He also lied to Shannon’s mother and told her that Shannon was dead.  She meets her mother and they agree that Shannon will stay with her for the summer.  She falls in love with a horse and begins working at the ranch.  Together they overcome injury and hurt with victories and setbacks along the way.
     I wanted to like this movie but it is so predictable, almost with a signpost at every turn telling you what will happen next.  I fast-forwarded through a section of horse abuse and I was glad about doing this.  2 1/2* (This movie is just so-so)

90 min, Family directed by Frank E. Johnson with Julianne Michelle, Claire Forlani, Jason Gedrick, Louis Gossett Jr., Eric Roberts, Stephen Colletti, Michael Madsen.

Note:  Blockbuster 3 ½*, imdb 4.7 out of 10, 29% audience on Rotten Tomatoes.  (Also titled Amazing Racer)

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Honor Flight 2012

Honor Flight

     Volunteers in Wisconsin raise money to fly every local WWII veteran to the Washington Memorials in D.C.  Every day, the veterans are dying from old age or illnesses and the money needed to be raised as soon as they could.  The trip is a profound event for both the veterans and the volunteers.  The vets are heroes again and everyone wants to hear their stories of what happened to them in the war.  It became one of the greatest days of their lives.
     This idea and effort changed the volunteers, the veterans and their families.  These men made sacrifices that stayed with them for the rest of their lives.  The memorials are for these men and without this effort many would not have seen them or felt the appreciation of all the people involved.   4* (I really liked this movie)

82 min, Doc directed by Dan Hayes with Bert Brach, Earl Bruss, Joe Dean, Joe Demler, Steve Deutsch, Donald Esselman, Lisa Goglio-Zarcynski, Harvey Kurz.

Note:  Imdb 8.2 out of 10, 91% audience on Rotten Tomatoes.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Phantom 2012

Phantom     A Russian Captain and crew are rushed from their previous assignment to a new mission on an older submarine.  This is a highly classified mission involving a rogue KGB group testing a new weapon to be used in the Cold War.  The Captain has been suffering from seizures that alter his perception of reality but only a few crewmembers know about this condition.  The KGB is secretly determined to gain control of the ship’s nuclear missile.  They plan to use their new equipment to disguise which ship launched the weapon and blame it on the Chinese to start a nuclear WWIII.
     OK, you spent the money on Harris and Duchovny and now you have $1.59 left for the military advisor on this film.  How can this be believable with American actors in the lead roles and speaking English too.  There are many factual mistakes and nothing is shown about what is going on with a nearby American submarine.  The ending is not very good either.  Now, the addition of a giant squid could have lifted this film out of the murky depths, NOT!!  This is based on true events but you cannot tell there is any truth going on here.   2* (I didn’t like this movie)

98 min, Thriller directed by Todd Robinson with Ed Harris, Julian Adams, David Duchovny, William Fichtner, Lance Hewnriksen, Johnathon Schaech, Jason Beghe, Dagmara Dominczyk, Derek Magyar.

Note:  Imdb 5.7 out of 10, 25% critic 38% audience on Rotten Tomatoes.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Therese 1986

Thérèse    At the age of fifteen in 1888, Therese pleads to enter the convent.  She went to the Mother Superior, the Priest and to the Pope to get permission because of her age.  She is hoping to become a Carmelite nun.  The Mother Superior asks her to keep a journal of her time at the convent.  Her compliance to all the rules and her devotion seems to sap all of her strength.  In 1897, she dies of tuberculosis and it’s a profound loss for the other sisters.  They have come to love her as much as she believes in her commitment.
    Therese and her three other sisters all lived in the cloistered community of Lisieux, Normandy.  She became quite well known and the pilgrimage to the Basilica of Lisieux is second only to Lourdes.  She was called The Little Flower.  A very quiet and slow moving film but not without joy and happiness.  3* (This movie is OK)

90 min, Drama directed by Alain Cavalier with Catherine Mouchet, Helene Alexandridis, Aurore Prieto, Sylvie Habault, Clemence Massart, Jean Pelegri, Nathalie Bernart.

Note:  Blockbuster 3*, imdb 7.1 out of 10, 83% critic 77% audience on Rotten Tomatoes.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Amour 2012

Amour     Georges and Anne are retired classical-music teachers now in their eighties.  They have a comfortable apartment and are enjoying their free time.  Anne experiences a stroke at breakfast that leaves her partially paralyzed.  She has surgery but it isn’t successful and Georges struggles with the task as her caretaker.  He hires nurses to help him several times a week as Anne continues to decline.  Eva, their daughter comes to visit but she is struggling with her mother’s condition.  Anne doesn’t want to keep living like this and she makes it more difficult for Georges.
     It’s really tough on both sides of this film, the patient and the caretaker.  Anne wants to give up but how can Georges let her?  They both know how this is going to end and there will not be a miracle turnaround.  It’s just the every day process of doing what needs to be done and keep doing it.  It’s easy for Eva to breeze in with solutions since she is not living this day-to-day but they won’t make the end different.  3* (This movie is OK)  

127 min, Drama directed by Michael Haneke with Jean-Louis Trintignant, Emmanuelle Riva, Isabelle Huppert, Alexandre Tharaud, William Shimell, Ramon Agirre, Rita Blanco, Carole Franck,  Dinara Drukarova.

Note:  Blockbuster 4*, imdb 7.8 out of 10, 93% critic 82% audience on Rotten Tomatoes.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

In the Fog 2012

In the Fog

     The year is 1942 on the western frontier of the USSR under German occupation.  Sushenya is wrongfully accused of collaboration with the Germans.  He was brought in along with other railroad workers because of a train derailment.  The others were hanged but he was set free.  Now everyone thinks there must be a reason he was let go?  Even his wife doesn’t understand what is happening.  Two men show up at his door to kill him because of their mistrust.
     Very slow moving and not one happy scene in the entire film.  Contentedness is being able to eat an onion or a potato.  The people are gray and the scenery is gray as well.  Everything is brutal from beginning to end.  3* (This movie is OK)

127 min, Drama directed by Sergei Loznitsa with Vladimir Svirskiy, Vladislav Abashin, Sergei Kolesov, Nikita Peremotovs, Yuliya Peresild, Kirill Petrov, Dmitrijs Kolosovs.

Note:  Imdb 6.6 out of 10, 89% critic 61% audience on Rotten Tomatoes.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Dirty Wars 2013

Dirty Wars     This film examines how the US is responding in a different way to international terrorist threats though the Joint Special Operations Command.  Jeremy Scahill is the author of an international bestseller, Blackwater and he is also an investigative reporter.  Many covert operations are unknown to the public and carried out by men that don’t exist on paper.  Their goal is to “find, fix and finish” their targets.  Drone strikes, home invasions, abductions and torture are used against their secretly selected targets.
     The story by this reporter seems solid enough and convincing but the flashy directing and editing make you think that this must really be unbelievable?  There is a mountain of facts and your mind doesn’t want to keep taking them in to reach the desired conclusion.  At the end of the film, you are still wondering true or false, real or fiction?  3* (This movie is OK)

86 min, Doc directed by Richard Rowley with Nasser and Saleha Al Aulaqi, Muqbal Al Kiazemi, Abdul Rahman Barman, Saleh Ben Fareed,  Andrew Exum, Abdul Ghafoor, Philip Giraldi, Matthey Hoh, Patrick Lang, William McRaven.

Note:  Blockbuster 3 ½*, imdb 6.9 out of 10, 82% critic 80% audience on Rotten Tomatoes.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Mud 2012

Mud     Ellis is 14 years old and he lives on a houseboat on the banks of a river in Arkansas with his parents, Mary Lee and Senior.  Neckbone is also 14 and he lives with his uncle, Galen.  The boys sneak away from home and they discover a small island on the Mississippi River where Mud lives.  He claims to be on the run from bounty hunters after he killed a man in Texas.  He also tells them that his true love, Juniper, is waiting for him in town. They have planned to make a daring escape together.  The boys believe everything he says and they decide to help Mud evade the hunters and reunite with Juniper.
     Ellis and Neckbone are very naïve at the beginning of this film but they learn a lot through their experiences with Mud, with their families and in town.  After viewing this film, I thought, what is the purpose?  The purpose was to show the experiences of and the growing up of the boys.  Since the director, Jeff Nichols is from Arkansas, I wonder if some of these events happened in his own life?  For once, Michael Shannon is not the craziest character!!  3 ½* (I liked this movie) 
130 min Drama directed by Jeff Nichols with Tye Sheridan, Jacob Lofland, Matthew McConaughey, Reese Witherspoon, Sam Shepard, Sarah Paulson, Michael Shannon, Joe Don Baker, Paul Sparks, Ray McKinnon, Bonnie Sturdivant, Johnny Cheek.

Note:  Blockbuster 3 ½*, imdb 7.5 out of 10, 98% critic 81% audience on Rotten Tomatoes.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

The English Teacher 2013

The English Teacher     Linda Sinclair is a 40-year-old high-school English teacher in Kingston PA.  She is single and she has a comfortable set routine for her life and she likes to read a good book in her apartment.  Jason Sherwood was her most promising pupil, she runs into him at an ATM machine and learns he’s written a play but his father wants him to go to law school.  She reads the play and is determined to have it performed under the guidance of the drama teacher at the school.  There are a lot of upsets, problems and surprises during the rehearsals.  It's not her normal comfortable life.
     I didn’t know if I would be able to finish this film but it does get better although still too much like a sitcom episode.  At least the eyebrows of Lily Collins don’t seem to have their usual starring role?  3* (This movie is OK)
93 min, comedy/drama directed by Craig Zisk with Julianne Moore, Michael Angarano, Greg Kinnear, Nathan Lane, Lily Collins, Fiona Shaw, Norbert Leo Butz, Jessica Hecht, Charlie Saxton, Nikki Blonsky, Sophie Curtis.
Note:  Blockbuster 2*, imdb 5.6 out of 10, 44% critic 35% audience on Rotten Tomatoes.

Friday, November 8, 2013

To the Wonder 2012

To The Wonder     Neil and Mariana fall in love in Paris.  Neil is an American traveling in Europe, Marina is a Ukrainian divorcee raising her 10-year-old daughter, Tatiana.  Neil invites Marina and Tatiana to relocate to his home in Oklahoma.  He takes a job as an environmental inspector around the oil drilling sites.  Their relationship begins to cool after the heady romance of a city like Paris.  Marina finds comfort in the company of a Catholic Priest, Father Quintana.  He is undergoing a crisis of faith with God seeming far away and distant.  Marina’s visa expires and Neil lets them go back to Paris.  He begins a new relationship with Jane, she is someone he dated previously in his past.  They fall in love but Neil learns that Marina has been having a difficult time since her return.  She has been unable to get a job, Tatiana has gone to live with her father and Marina has fallen into depression.  Neil feels a responsibility and he is having his own crisis of faith.  He returns to Marina, they marry and come back to the US.
     Everything about this film seems to be viewed through a veil.  There are no reasons given for anything that happens.  You don’t know why Neil and Marina fight, why he lets her go, why he leaves Jane, why he marries, why they again have difficulties.   We don’t know why Father Quintana is struggling.   It seems that a why is not important to Malick.  We are to just go with the flow and appreciate the scenery portrayed more than wonder about any reasons?  The feelings, emotions and relationships are intense but only the background with the scenery the real character?  3* (This movie is OK) 

113 min, Drama directed by Terrence Malick with Ben Affleck, Olga Kurylenko, Rachel McAdams, Javier Bardem, Tatiana Chiline, Romina Mondello, Tony O’Gans, Charles Baker, Marshall Bell.

Note:  Blockbuster 3 ½*, imdb 6.1 out of 10, 44% critic 41% audience on Rotten Tomatoes.
Special Note:  The lyrics from 1920's song, "How ya gonna keep 'em down on the farm?  After they've seen Paree?"  Oklahoma definitely cannot compete with Paris!!


Thursday, November 7, 2013

The Big Wedding 2013

The Big Wedding     Alejandro is the adopted son of Don and Ellie.  They are divorced and Don is with Bebe, Ellie’s best friend.  They find out they need to pretend to still be married when Alejandro’s ultra conservative mother comes for his wedding to Missy.  Bebe is very upset about this latest development and she moves out.  Lyla is Ellie and Don’s daughter, she hasn’t gotten over her parents divorce because of her dad’s cheating. 
     Supposedly an uproarious romantic comedy but this is so dumb and stupid I could not take more than about 20 minutes.  Every sexual innuendo, old stale joke and cliché is dragged out to prop this up.  I don’t know how they got the cast to sign contracts for this ridiculous effort.  1* (I hated this movie)

90 min, Comedy directed by Justin Zackham with Ben Barnes,  Robert De Niro, Diane Keaton, Susan Sarandon, Katherine Heigl, Topher Grace, Robin Williams.

Note:  Blockbuster 3*, imdb 5.4 out of 10, 7% critic 42% audience on Rotten Tomatoes.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Trance 2013

Trance     This film is adapted from a 2001 made-for-television feature.  Simon is a London art auctioneer working during the auction of a rare Goya painting.  The painting was up for bids when four men enter the auction hall to steal the painting.  Simon takes the painting back to a safe room but he doesn’t have time to place it in the safe box.  It turns out he was working with the thieves but he can’t remember where the painting is after being slugged by the leader of the robbery group.  He sees a hypnotherapist to help recover his memory.  The tables turn again when the therapist wants a cut in the sale of the painting.
     There are so twists and turns in this film that it’s hard to keep track of what is going on?  Added to the mix are implanted scenes placed by the therapist?  Is it really happening or just in the person’s mind?  All this mish mash makes this film not very good!!  3* (This movie is OK)

101 min, Drama directed by Danny Boyle with James McAvoy, Vincent Cassel, Rosario Dawson, Danny Spani, Matt Cross, Wahab Sheikh, Mark Poltimore.

Note:  Blockbuster 3 ½*, imdb 6.9 out of 10, 68% critic 65% audience on Rotten Tomatoes.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Kon-Tiki 2012

Kon Tiki     This film is a reenactment of Thor Heyerdahl’s 4300-mile attempt to prove early settlers from South American came to Polynesia by sailing across the Pacific on a simple balsa wood raft.  Heyerdahl tries to get his unusual thesis published but every publisher rejects him.  He decides the only way to prove his theory is to make this journey.  In 1947,  the trip took 101 days and was financed by loans and donations.  Five men also went on the trip and it was filmed Heyerdahl.  The film was made into a documentary in 1951 and won an Academy Award.  Heyerdah also wrote a book that sold 50 million copies and was translated into 70 languages.
     Most anthropologists now believe that South Americans did not settle in Polynesia in pre-Columbian times.  Current studies indicate the Lapita people are the cultural ancestors of modern Polynesians.  Pottery samples resemble materials from the Santa Cruz Islands in Melanesia.  Also, in 2011, Professor Erik Thorsby of the University of Oslo presented DNA evidence, which agreed with the west origin but also identified a distinctive but smaller genetic contribution from South America.  Regardless of the theories, still a good adventure movie!  3 ½* (I liked this movie)

96 min, Drama directed by Espen Sandberg, Joachim Ranning with Pal Sverre Hagen, Anders Baasmo Chruistiansen, Tobias Santelmann, Gustaf Skarsgard, Odd Mangus Williamson, Jakob Oftebro, Agnes Kittelsen, Peter Wight.

Note:  Blockbuster 3 1/2*, imdb 7.2 out of 10, 84% critic 78% audience on Rotten Tomatoes.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Gravity 2013

Gravity     Dr. Ryan Stone and Matt Kowalsky are working on a mission to repair the Hubble telescope.  Dr. Stone is installing a system she invented and she is a brilliant bio-engineer on her first trip.  Kowalsky is in command of his last flight before retiring.  Suddenly, they get a warning from Houston that a Russian satellite has blown up and a massive storm of space debris is heading their way.  They lose communication and are hurtled loose from their tethers.  Dr. Stone is rolling over and over in space and Kowalsky is headed out to retrieve her before she runs out of oxygen.
     This film is shown in either 2D or 3D, at first I wanted to see it in 3D but then I was worried about motion sickness.  There is a lot of spinning and the colors are very vivid.  A very different film with so much equipment reduced to nothingness and such vastness in the universe.  Interesting to see everyday objects floating in weightlessness.  4* (I really liked this movie)

91 min, Drama directed by Alfonso Cuaron with Sandra Bullock, George Clooney, Ed Harris, Orto Ignatiussen, Phaldut Sharma, Amy Warren, Basher Savage.

Note:  Blockbuster 4 ½*, imdb 8.5 out of 10, 97% critic 87% audience on Rotten Tomatoes.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

No Place on Earth 2012

No Place On Earth      Chris Nicola is an explorer and investigator.  He was mapping out the largest cave system in the Ukraine when he discovered evidence that five Jewish families lived in these caves.  Thirty-eight Ukrainian Jews survived the Holocaust by living underground for 18 months.  They were originally in a different cave system but the Germans came in and took five of the people away.  The others were able to escape and they knew they needed to be much smarter in order to survive.  They constructed a series of carefully hidden escape routes.  They were always hungry, constantly searching and in need of food and water.
       Esther Stermer wrote a memoir that was published in 1975 of their experiences in the caves.  There are interviews with the survivors and reenactments of the events.  This story could have been lost to history except for the discovery by American Chris Nicola.  He found cooking utensils, buttons, shoes and other items left behind.  Slightly confusing with the back and forth between the real survivors and the reenactments. 3 1/2* (I liked this movie)

83 min, Doc directed by Janet Tobias with Yetta, Cliff, Saul and Sam Stermer, Sonia and Sima Dodyk, Sol Wexler, Chris Nicola, Erin Grunstein Halpern, Katalin Laban, Peter Balazs Kiss, Daniel Hegedus, Fruzsina Pelikan.

Note:  Blockbuster 3*, imdb 6.1 out of 10, 77% critic 83% audience on Rotten Tomatoes.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Love and Honor 2012

Love And Honor     It’s July of 1969, Dalton Joiner and Mickey Wright decide to head back to the US from Vietnam.  Dalton has just received a Dear John letter from his hometown girlfriend and they have a week of leave.  They find themselves swept up in the anti-war movement at the University of Michigan.  The rest of the world is focused on mans first steps on the moon.  At the end of their week, the guys have a new perspective and are struggling to reconcile their inner conflict against the war with going back.
      How can you have a movie portraying Vietnam as just a sitcom?  Maybe this is the land of OZ and I was misinformed?  I wish everything and everyone involved in this film could have been more soapy clean!!  This film is so stupid I don’t know if I have enough space to list how bad this really is!!  Just to list a few points, half-hearted, dopey, unconvincing, formula script, predictable, saccharine sweet, ridiculous.   I originally thought Nicholas Sparks wrote this because it seems so like his genre?  1 ½* (I really didn’t like this movie)

96 min, Drama directed by Danny Mooney with Austin Stowell, Liam Hemsworth, Aimee Teegarden, Teresa Palmer, Chris Lowell, Wyatt Russell, Max Adler, Delvon Roe.

Note:  Blockbuster 1 ½*, imdb 5.4 out of 10, 13% critic 41% audience on Rotten Tomatoes.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Patagonia Rising 2011

Patagonia Rising     There is a possible construction project to build five large dams in Patagonia to generate electricity for Santiago.  The Baker River and the Pascua are two of the world’s purest free flowing rivers in Patagonia.  The frontier people are caught up in this project because it is their land that will be changed and flooded.  There are several sides to this issue.  The energy company, HidroAysen, the landowners and proponents of other sources of energy such as wind power and solar power.  The use of wind power and solar power is renewable and sustainable without any destruction of natural resourses.  The energy company has lied to the people on previous dam projects.  They say they pay the people for their land but is it a fair market value considering they will be moved to another property without access to water?  Their current lifestyles and livelihoods are based on being near the water.
     The latest information on this project is that it was approved on May 9, 2011 but the transmission line had not yet been approved.  The project is now on hold due to protests and a court case against the project.  The first appeal was denied but as of March 5, 2013, the rivers are still running free and the 79% of the people are against the dams.  A somewhat repetitive film but beautiful scenery of the area and important information from the residents.  3 ½* (I liked this movie)

85 min, Doc directed by Brian Lilla with Carla Wilkins, Herman Salazar, Bernardo Arratia, Lautaro Arratia, Mitzi Urtubia, Lalo Ojeda, Patrick McCully, Gino Gassasa. 

Note:  Imdb 6.9 out of 10, 50% critic 11% audience on Rotten Tomatoes.