Monday, March 31, 2014

Headwinds (Des vents contraires) 2011

Headwinds NEW Cult Blu-Ray Disc J. Lespert Benoît Magimel Isabelle Carré France     This film is based on a best-selling novel by Olivier Adam.  Sarah and Paul are having problems in their marriage.  They have two children, a young son and a younger daughter.  Sarah is a doctor and Paul is a writer.  Sarah would like Paul to watch the children and write but he would like the children to go to day care so he can write.  Sarah leaves for a night shift at the hospital and she doesn’t come home.  Paul calls asking about her but he can’t find out anything and Sarah doesn’t come home.  Time passes, Paul runs out of money since he wasn't the breadwinner and he gets a job with his brother.  The family moves to a new place to be near his job as a driving instructor.  Everyone is the family is having a difficult time without Sarah plus they don’t know what happened to her?
     This has a surprising ending and I didn’t see it coming?  It seems like the police are always investigating Paul but they never find new information about Sarah?  Being a single parent is tough and more so if you don’t know how to move forward.  3 ½* (I liked this movie)
91 min, Drama directed by Jalil Lespert with Audrey Tautou, Benoit Magimel, Isabelle Carre, Antoine Dulery, Ramzy Bedia, Bouli Lanners.
Note:  Imdb 6.5 out of 10, 66% audience on Rotten Tomatoes.
Special Note:  The title is taken from the headwinds that blow from the sea at the new home.  The actual translation is the winds contrary.


Sunday, March 30, 2014

Ain't Them Bodies Saints 2013

Ain't Them Bodies Saints

     This film is set in the 1970’s in Meridian, Texas.  Bob Muldoon has gone to prison for a robbery and shootout.  He promises his wife Ruth Guthrie that he will come back to her.  Patrick Wheeler, a local sheriff is shot in the shoulder during the gunfight.  He comes by Ruth’s home to tell her that Bob has escaped from prison and he would like to know if he comes by to see her.  She turns over her letters from Bob to the sheriff and says he never planned to come back to her.  They have a daughter that was born after Bob went to prison sentenced to 25 years.
     The story and the casting are good in this film.  You’re not sure how it’s going to turn out as it quietly goes along.  Very nice filming with sepia tones.  3 1/2* (I liked this movie) 

96 min, Crime directed by David Lowery with Rooney Mara, Casey Affleck, Ben Foster, Keith Carradine, Nate Parker, Robert Longstreet, Charles Baker, Sugustine Frizzell, Kentucker Audley.

Note:  Imdb 6.5 out of 10, 79% critic 64% audience on Rotten Romatoes, Roger Ebert 3 ½*.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

All is Bright 2013

All is Bright

     Dennis has just been released from a Canadian prison after four years and he’s on parole.  He’s determined to not be a thief or robber anymore.  His wife has tells him she wants to marry Rene and she told his daughter that he’s dead.  Dennis cannot find a job but agrees to sell Christmas trees with Rene.  Rene was supposed to show up on Dennis’ last job as a safe cracker but he didn’t and that's how he landed in prison.  They set up shop on a New York City street but sales are very slow.
     Giamatti is a sad sack but not as much as he usually can be in films. Hawkins has a different role as a Russian maid and house sitter for a pair of wealthy dentists.  Probably better seen at Christmas instead of March?  3* (This movie is OK)

107 min, Comedy directed by Phil Morrison with Paul Giamatti, Paul Rudd, Sally Hawkins, Amy Landecker, Tatyana Richaud, Adam Phillips.

Note: Imdb 5.6 of 10, 45% critic 25% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 2*.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Nebraska 2013


     Woody Grant receives a letter in the mail telling him that he has won a million dollars!!  His sons, David and Ross try to tell him that the letter is a scam and he really hasn’t won any money.  Woody starts heading down the road every chance he gets to walk from Billings Montana to Lincoln Nebraska to claim his money.  Finally, everyone decides they will need to make the trip so he will stop walking down the road.  They spend some time in the small town in central Nebraska where Woody grew up and he becomes a celebrity because of the money.  Several relatives and a friend hit Woody up for money despite his sons telling them there isn’t any money!
     This is filmed in black and white and it is the most non-adventure movie that I’ve ever seen?  There is a lot of family dysfunction and bickering.  The sons do find out a lot about their family history on the trip.  I know there was a lot of buzz about this film but it is very slow, drab and dreary but with good acting.  I’m glad I didn’t pay to see this in the theater.  3* (This movie is OK) 

115 min, Adventure directed by Alexander Payne with Bruce Dern, Will Forte, June Squibb, Bob Odenkirk, Stacy Keach, Mary Louise Wilson, Rance Howard, Tim Driscoll, Devin Ratray, Angela McEwan, Glendora Stitt, Elizabeth Moore.

Note:  Imdb 7.9 out of 10, 92% critic 85% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 3 ½*.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

The Angels' Share 2012

The Angels' Share

     Robbie has narrowly escaped prison and is sentenced to community service.  He’s determined to change his ways after his girlfriend Leonie gives birth to their son Luke.  Leonie’s family would like to see Robbie beat up and run out of town.  Robbie meets Rhino, Albert and Mo while doing his community service work.  None of them are able to find jobs because of their criminal records.  Harry is their supervisor and he introduces them to upper crust whiskey and takes them to tour a distillery.
     You almost need subtitles to understand their Scottish accents and you wonder if there is really any way Robbie will be able to change?  This film is like a rough and gritty fairy tale.  I think there is a lot more drama than comedy.  3* (This movie is OK)

101 min, Comedy directed by Ken Loach with Paul Brannigan, John Henshaw, Roger Allam, Siobhan Reilly, Gary Maitland, William Ruane, Jasmin Riggins, Scott Dymond, Scott Kyle, Neil Leiper, James Casey.

Note:  Imdb 7.1 out of 10, 88% critic 80% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 3 ½*.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

The Waiting Room 2012

The Waiting Room

     This film takes place in an emergency hospital over a 24 hour period in Oakland, California.  Most of the patients are uninsured, some have jobs and some are unemployed.  They come here because they don’t have insurance and can’t get appointments with doctors.  Everyone waiting is sorted into categories based on how urgently they need to be seen.  One patient waited seven hours to get 500mg of an over-the-counter pain medication.  When patients with bullet wounds arrive at the hospital by ambulance, all the waiting patients are bumped and those bleeding are seen right away.  The staff and the doctors do the best they can with the resources they have.
     I’m very GLAD I have health insurance and I can go to a different emergency room serving fewer people.  I’m also very GLAD I can make an appointment for routine care or urgent care during the day.  Fortunately, this hospital is there for people to go for help them without insurance.  It takes more time to get seen but the workers still care as much as they can about each person.  3* (This movie is OK) 

81 min, Doc directed by Peter Nicks with Deja Bruce, Davelo Lujuan, Barbara Johnson, Eric Morgan, Carl Connelly, Cynthia Y. Johnson.

Note:  Imdb 6.7 out of 10, 100% critic 75% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Film Crave 1.75/4.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Peter's Friends 1992

Peter's Friends

     This is a British treatment of the themes in the movie of 1983, The Big Chill.  Peter’s father has passed away and his family has a very large home.  He’s decided he will ask his friends to come for a party at Christmas.   They were involved ten years ago in a music and comedy group at Cambridge University.  They are a diverse blend now in their early thirties.  Andrew has married Carol and she is the star of an American situation comedy that he writes.  Maggie is hoping that she may be able to jump-start a romance with Peter.  Roger and Mary develop jingles for products as their profession and recently one of their baby boy twins died.  Sarah has brought her latest boyfriend Brian.  Vera, the housekeeper, is on hand to cook fabulous meals for the occasion.
     This is dated and I wish there was more happening.  It seems to skim along the surface and not delve deep enough for the complications involved.  There are highly talented actors in this film, give them something to work with!!  It is interesting to see these actors at a younger age.  2 ½* (This movie is so-so)

101 min, Comedy/Drama directed by Kenneth Branagh with Emma Thompson, Stephen Fry, Hugh Laurie, Phylida Law, Kenneth Branagh, Imelda Stauton.

Note:  Imdb 6.8, 76% critic 72% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 3 1/2*.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Measure of a Man 2011

Measure of a Man

     Donald Bailey was 15 years old when he left an Oklahoma orphanage bound for California during the depression.  He meets Emogene, she is the daughter of migrant farm workers.  They marry and set out to break the cycle in their family history of poverty and lack of education.  His daughter Elizabeth remembers her dad’s unique life, his charm, optimism and wonderful singing voice.  She is one of three girls in the family along with six boys for a total of nine children.
     Wow, is all I can say about a family of nine children!  I knew a family with eight children and they had unique experiences having this many children.  The baby was left in the crib while everyone else was on their way to see the grandparents.  A quick u-turn was required.  Another time, one child was left in the car when everyone else went into a Church service.  Someone coming in from the parking lot reported this to the parents.  There was a kitchen fire when the oldest daughter was cooking.  I don't know how many other adventures happened that I didn't know about?   The Bailey’s seem to have it all together and these mix-ups don’t seem to happen.  The parents really are calm and can usually handle everything.  Interesting!  3 ½* (I liked this movie)
88 min, Drama directed by Andrew and Elizabeth Waite with Jarin Stevens, Jennica Schwartzman, Jules Hartley, Charlie Waite, Gabriel Myers, Madeline Penn, Travis Cluff, Lynn-Marie Beard.

Note:  Blockbuster 3*, imdb 6.5 out of 10.  

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Passion 2012


     Christine is beautiful but very using and manipulative as the boss of an advertising agency.  She doesn’t think twice about taking the credit for a winning ad campaign originated by her assistant.  Christine is planning to move back to the New York office but an upstage by Isabelle as a pay-back changes this plan and Isabelle is going to New York instead.  Christine puts Isabelle on the spot and shows some embarrassing film clips at an office party.
      I didn’t care for this film, it tries to be so slick and polished but I feel it wasted the talents of McAdams and Rapace.  The plot is weak and it’s easy to forget everything that happened.  It is supposed to generate surprise with twists but I was not interested enough to be surprised.  2 ½* (This movie is so-so)
102 min, Crime directed by Brian De Palma with Rachel McAdams, Noomi Rapace, Karoline Herfurth, Paul Anderson, Dominic Raacke, Rainer Bock, Benjamin Sadler, Michael Rotschopf.
Note:  Imdb 5.3 of 10, 35% critic 25% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 4*.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Lay the Favorite 2012

Lay The Favorite

     Beth has been living in Florida but she’s having financial problems.  She heads out for Las Vegas hoping to be a cocktail waitress at one of the casinos.  She meets two women who introduce her to Dink, he’s a gambler with a system.  Beth is good at numbers and she’s honest.  Dink thinks she brings him luck until he starts to lose.  Beth meets Jeremy and goes to New York to change her luck. 
     I don’t like the stereotypical role assignments give to the women in the cast.  Beth is the classic dumb bimbo, Tulip is the trophy money-spending wife, Holly is the dumb blond who steals money.   The bookies don’t seem to mind when debts and losses aren’t paid back?  2* (I didn’t like this movie)

94 min, Comedy directed by Stephen Frears with Rebecca Hall, Bruce Willis, Vince Vaughn, Joel Murray, Corbin Bernsen, Rio Hackford, Jo Newman, Laura Prepon, Catherine Zeta Jones, Frank Grillo.

Note:  Imdb 4.8 out of 10, 19% critic 19% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Film Crave 2.23/4.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Sightseers 2012


     Chris has purchased an Abbey Oxford Caravan and he wants to take Tina, his girlfriend, on a journey through the British Isles.  Tina is worried about leaving her elderly mother behind but this is the chance of a lifetime.  Chris wants to show her the Crich Tramway Museum, the Ribblehead Viaduct, the Keswick Pencil Museum and the beautiful countryside.  There are some problems along the way, a littering man, noisy teenagers and pre-booked camping sites.
      I really didn’t know what I was getting into with this film and it’s a bit unusual.  Chris and Tina don’t take offenses lightly.  I’m very sure that I would not want to go camping with them or run across them anywhere!!  3* (This movie is OK)

88 min, Adventure directed by Ben Wheatley with Alice Lowe, Kenneth Hadley, Steve Oram, Eileen Davies, Roger Michael, Tony Way, Seamus O’Neill, Monica Dolan, Jonathan Aris, Aymen Hamdouchi.

Note:  Imdb 6.5 of 10, 85% critic 64% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 4*.
Special Note:  Alice Lowe and Steve Oram are both stand-up comedians and they developed these characters together as a series of sketches.  Ben Wheatley directed Down Terrace and Kill List.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Turbo 2013


     This is a 3D comedy from the makers of Madagascar and Kung Fu Panda.  Turbo is a garden snail who feels the need for speed.  Chet, his sad-sack brother, is always, making excuses, bailing out and saving Turbo.  A very strange accident changes Turbo from a slow garden snail to a super speeder.  His goal is to go to the Indianapolis 500 and beat the track favorite Guy Gagne.
     Hits all the notes of the little guy with a dream theme.  Interesting to figure out the voices of the characters, some are very obvious.  Seems somewhat like a mix-up of Cars and Ratatouille but enjoyable overall.   3* (This movie is OK) 

96 min, Aninated directed by David Soren with the voices of Ryan Reynolds, Paul Giamatti, Maya Rudolph, Michael Pena, Samuel L. Jackson, Luis Guzman, Bill Hader, Snoop Dogg, Ben Schwartz, Ken Jeong.

Note:  Imdb 6.5 out of 10, 67% critic 67% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 2 ½*.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

The Way Way Back 2013

The Way Way Back

     Duncan is 14 years old, he’s shy, his parents are divorced and he has a difficult time trying to fit in with other people.  He goes on a summer vacation with his mother, her boyfriend and his daughter.  Duncan doesn’t know how he will manage to get through this trip until he bikes to a Water Wizz theme park.  He meets Owen, Caitlin, Roddy and Lewis.  Suddenly he starts to fit in with this substitute family.  They accept him for who he and how he is.
     Carell plays an insensitive and overbearing butt in this film for a different style role.  Janney is the summer neighbor you wish would move away.  All the teens in his film have problems.  I like Toni Collette as an actress but this film just seems thin?  3* (This movie is OK)

103 min, Comedy directed by Nat Faxon and Jim Rash with Steve Carell, Toni Collette, Allison Janney, AnnaSophia Robb, Sam Rockwell, Maya Rudolph, Liam James, Rob Corddry, Amanda Peet, River Alexander.

Note:  Imdb 7.4 out of 10, 85% critic 85% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 3*.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Grace Unplugged 2013

Grace Unplugged

      Johnny Trey is a former rock star with a number one single 20 years ago.  Now he’s a music director at a local Church in a small Alabama town.  Mossy, his former manager comes to talk to him about making a new release of the hit single.  Johnny doesn’t want that kind of life anymore and he’s glad to have left it behind.  His daughter Grace doesn’t feel the same way.  She’s tired of her dad dogging her every move and dictating how to play music.  She sends a demo to Mossy and he’s excited about making her a pop superstar.  Her parents are very worried about her move to Los Angeles.
     This is very predictable and broadcasts what is going to happen right away.  Not many surprises, not a bad movie, there are enjoyable characters.  3* (This movie is OK)

102 min, Drama directed by Brad J. Silverman with AJ Michalka, Kelly Thiebaud, James Denton, Kevin Pollak, Shawnee Smith, Michael Welch, Jamie Grace.

Note:  Imdb 5.8 out of 10, 43% critic 84% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Film Crave 2.00/4.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Austenland 2013


     Based on a 2007 book by Shannon Hale.  Jane Hayes is a romantic 30-something with a secret.  She's obsessed with the 1995 BBC version of Pride and Prejudice and also Mr. Darcy played by Colin Firth.  It is ruining her current love life because no man is equal to Mr. Darcy.  She decides to spend a lot of money on a trip to an English resort based on the Jane Austen books.  Her friend advises against spending this amount of money on the trip but Jane cannot stop herself from going.
     This had the potential to be good but the plot is thin and it’s difficult to keep interested.  The trip is a REAL waste of money for Jane and a let down for viewers but there is a good unforeseen result at the end.  2* (This movie was just so-so)

97 min, Comedy directed by Jerusha Hess with Keri Russell, JJ Field, Jennifer Coolidge, Bret McKenzie, James Callis, Georgia King, Rupert Vansittart, Ricky Whittle.

Note:  Imdb 6.3 out of 10, 30% critic 59% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 2 ½*.
Special Note:  Stephanie Meyer, author of the Twilight books, produced this film.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

More than Honey 2012

More Than Honey

     This film shows both small family beekeepers and industrialized honey farms.  The relationship between mankind and the bees is also featured.  We rely on the bees to  pollinate many plants that are the basis of our food supply.  China has tried hand pollination after their bee population was decimated but we cannot do the job as well even with unlimited hands working.  Disasters and crises among the bee populations are causing colony collapse, disease and evolution.  African killer bees that escaped from a South American experimental lab are also explored.
     This is very fascinating and a lot of facts presented are very alarming.  The industrial bee farms show no compassion or respect for the lives of the bees.  Some practices by the small beekeepers are disturbing as well.  Information filled and interesting.  3 ½* (I liked this movie)

95 min, Doc directed by Markus Imhoof with Fred Jaggi, Randolf Menzel, John Miller, Liane and Heidrun Singer, Zhao Su Zhang, Fred Terry, Boris Baer, Andre Maritz.

Note: Imdb 7.5 out of 10, 100% critic 79% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Film Crave 2.50/4.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Smash and Grab: The Story of the Pink Panthers 2013

Smash & Grab: The Story of the Pink Panthers

     After the death of President Tito and the break of Yugoslavia, the black-market for goods flourished.  The Pink Panthers were formed to undertake rapid and brazen robberies across Europe.  High-end jewelry stores were targeted and they were very careful plotting their hits.  They don’t leave behind clues to their identities. There is immunity in Serbia and Montenegro for their crimes.  They’ve robbed 152 jewelry stores in Europe, Asia and the Middle East since 2002.  Their take has been worth a quarter-billion dollars.  Animated characters and disguised voices protect the identity of two of the people interviewed.
     This film seems a lot longer and because of directorial choices, you wonder about the factual evidence?  There is a Robin Hood element but where are the poor receiving alms?  Are difficult times a good enough reason to smash and grab?  2 ½* (This movie is so-so) 

89 min, Doc directed by Havana Marking with Tomislav Tom Benzon, Daniel Vivian.

Note:  Imdb 6.1 out of 10, 85% critic 48% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Metrocritic 66/100.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Arthur Newman 2012

Arthur Newman

     Wallace Avery can’t face the fact that he hates everything about his life.  He hates his job, his ex-wife and his son also hate him.  He fakes his own death by buying a new car and leaving his old car behind at a beach campsite.  He buys new identify papers saying he is Arthur Newman.  Along the way on his road trip as a new man, he meets Mike.  She’s also running away from her past.  Her twin sister is in a mental hospital and her mother also had mental problems.  She is afraid of going down the same path to mental illness.  Arthur is on his way to a golf club for a possible job as a pro instructor.
     This is a very thin road trip of self-discovery.  OK acting but nothing much to write home about.  Maybe this would have been better in Britain with Blunt and Firth using their normal accents?  At least another layer added.  2* (This movie is so-so)

101 min, Drama directed by Dante Ariola with Emily Blunt, Colin Firth, Anne Heche, Sterling Beaumon, Kristin Lehman, Nicole LaLiberte, M. Emmet Walsh, Autumn Dial.

Note:  Imdb 5.6 out of 10, 22% critic 28% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Film Crave 3.00/4.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Last Ounce of Courage 2012

Last Ounce of Courage

     Bob Revere is a small town war hero who encourages the people of his town to fight back as their rights are being stripped away.  Tom Revere, Bob’s son died defending America in the Army.  Fourteen years after Tom’s death, his wife Carrie and their son Christian move back to Mount Columbus in the Rocky Mountains to be with family.  Bob is now the mayor, he wants to teach Christian to battle for liberty and unite to make a difference.
     I think the only thing missing from this movie is apple pie!!  This could’ve been very good but it uses a sledgehammer to bring home its message of American freedoms.  The focus becomes too narrow and relates fighting in war as a way to save the meaning of Christmas?  2 ½* (This movie is so-so)

99 min, Drama directed by Kevin McAfee and Darrel Campbell with Marshall Teague, Jennifer O’Neill, Fred Williamson, Jenna Boyd, Rusty Joiner, Hunter Gomez, Darrel Campbell, Nikki Novak.

Note:  Imdb 4.2/10, 0% critic 70% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Film Crave 2.79/4.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Dark Horse 2011

Dark Horse

     Abe lives with his parents and he works for his father.  He’s always blaming everyone else and especially his parents for his failures.  He is a toy collector and he doesn’t like to work.  He meets Miranda at a wedding and asks for her phone number.   He gets up the courage to call and ask her for a date.  She doesn’t remember that he was coming over for the date when she gets home from the grocery store?  She’s depressed, on the rebound from a previous relationship and she lives with her parents too.
     Reality blurs with illusion but there is no guidebook for sorting them out?  Are the people talking to Abe really there or in the car with him?  I don’t think they are?  The ending is all mixed up?  First the real/not real people talking and then no clarity?  2 ½* (This movie is so-so)
88 min, Drama directed by Todd Solondz with Justin Bartha, Selma Blair, Melisa Young, Mia Farrow, Zachary Booth, Donna Murphy.
Note:  Imdb 5.9 out of 10, 72% critic 41% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 3 1/2*

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

After the Wizard 2011

After the Wizard

     A twelve-year old girl is an orphan in Kingman, Kansas.  She keeps telling everyone that her name is not Elizabeth but it’s Dorothy Gale and she’s been to see the Wizard of Oz.  Every day she hopes she will see her dog Toto and her friends who made the journey with her to Oz.  She doesn’t know that Scarecrow and the Tin Woodman are searching for her right now.  The Cowardly Lion felt he needed to stay behind in Oz.  They believe Dorothy is the only one who can save Oz from a threat sweeping their land.
    This a very nice movie for families and kids despite the discouraging reviews.  It isn’t and couldn’t be rocket science?  3 ½* (I liked this movie) 

80 min, Family & Kids directed by Hugh Gross with Jordan Van Vranken, Orien Richman, Jermel Nakia, Helen Richman, Loren Lester, Sue Glosa.

Note:  Imdb 3.1 out of 10, 39% audience on Rotten Tomatoes.
Special Note:  Nearly everyone is talking about violence in films and video games because of the continuing violence in our country.  Is there support for a movie without any of this?  Not judging by the above reviews!

Monday, March 10, 2014

Raspberry Magic 2010

Raspberry Magic     Monica Shah is 11 years old, she lives with her parents and younger sister, Gina.  She has the idea of growing raspberries as her school science project.  She wants to test nurture versus environment.  Her first idea is to grow them in a sealed environment and use mechanical fingers to nurture their growth.  This is not working and there may have been sabotage by another student.  She decides to grow them in the forest near her house since this is their natural environment.  She will nurture them with her physical touch and also her emotional feedback.  There are a lot of financial and emotional problems affecting her family during this time.
     This is a family drama more than a comedy and not very much is funny about what is happening.  The two girls are worried that their parents may get a divorce.  I thought it was an interesting experiment for a young girl.  3 ½* (I liked this movie)

82 min, Comedy directed by Leena Pendharkar with Lily Javaherpour, Meera Simhan, Ravi Kapoor, Keya Shah, Bella Thorne, Alison Brie.

Note:  Imdb 6.5 out of 10, 50% audience on Rotten Tomatoes. 

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Red Obsession 2013

Red Obsession

     The Bordeaux wines have been the leaders in fine wine, associated with wealth, power and influence.  Global economies play on a role in this too and they can shift quickly.  The traditional customers in the US and the UK are ebbing.  China is rising as the new rich push the prices higher.  A problem with China is they are planting as many acres as possible with their own grapes.
     I found this very dry!  There are a lot of interviews and pictures of the wine estates but this feels like 145 minutes instead of 75.  2 ½* (This movie is so-so)

75 min, Doc directed by David Roach, Warwick Ross with Sara Eisen, Debra Melburg, narrated by Russell Crowe.

Note:  Imdb 6.6 out of 10, 95% critic 72% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 3 ½*.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

The Geisha 1983

The Geisha     In 1933 Katsuzo was in love with a geisha and they had a daughter.  Their plan was to run away together but they were caught and the woman was killed.  Now he works as a zegen, a man who obtains women to be trained as new geishas.  He sells girls to the Yokioro, the biggest house in Southern Japan.  His daughter has become a great geisha using the name Momowaka. 
     There are many cultural differences between America and Japan.  We will probably never understand their culture.  This is interesting but so complex that I could not continue watching since this is also very lengthy.  It does bring out a lot of points that I did not know about the geisha women.  2 ½* (This movie is so-so) 
144 min, Drama directed by Hideo Gosha with Ken Ogata, Kimiko Ikegami, Atsuko Asano, Mitsuko Baisho, Morio Kazama, Akiko Kana.

Note:  Imdb 7.2 out of 10, 71% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Film Crave 2.00/4.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Under the Sand 2000

Under The Sand     Marie and Jean live in Paris and they have been happily married for 25 years.  They spend their summer vacations at their country home in the southwest of France.  For their first day after their arrival this summer, they go to the beach.  Marie would like to rest and Jean goes into the water.  Marie wakes up and she doesn’t see Jean anywhere. She drives to the part of the beach where there are lifeguards and asks for help.  They take her back and request a helicopter to search the area.  Marie doesn’t know what to think, has he left her, committed suicide, accidental drowning?  She acts like he is still alive and living with her.
     Even though this is somber material this movie is enjoyable.  Marie really believes Jean is still with her and she acts according.  She starts seeing another man but in her mind, she is having an affair.  The ending was unexpected?  3 ½* (I liked this movie)

92 min, Drama directed by Francois Ozon with Charlotte Rampling, Bruno Cremer, Jacques Nolot, Alexandra Stewart, Pierre Vernier, Andree Tainsy, Maya Gaugler, Damien Abbou, David Portugais, Pierre Soubestre.

Note:  Imdb 7.2 out of 10, 94% critic 83% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Film Crave 2.75/4.
Special Note:  The opening scene is of the river and a bridge in Paris.  I've been there,  walked along the water and crossed the bridge. 

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Terraferma 2011

Terraferma     Ernesto, Fillippo and Giulietta are a family living on the Sicilian island of Linosa.  Ernesto is the grandfather of Fillippo and Giulietta is Fillippo's mother.  This is a very beautiful place but it’s difficult to make a living.  Ernesto and Fillippo take their worn out boat to fish but there has been a slump in fishing.  Many on the island have tried other means to make a living.  Giulietta has the idea of boarding tourists until they can make enough money to move to the mainland.  Political unrest in North Africa is causing many people to try to sail to Linosa and freedom.
     Nothing seems to be working out for the family.  The boat is rotten, the propeller is bent by debris in the water and they are accused of assisting the North Africans. These people are routinely deported back to their county by the government.  The residents of Linosa have compassion for the immigrants and they don’t want them to be deported. 3 ½* (I liked this movie) 

88 min, Drama directed by Emanuele Crialese with Filippo Pucillo, Donatella Finocchiaro, Beppe Fiorello, Mimmo Cuticchio, Marina Codecasa, Tiziana Lodato, Claudio Santamaria, Flipo Scarafia.

Note:  Imdb 6.8 out of 10, 68% critic 55% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Film Crave 2.00/4.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Sweet and Lowdown 1999

Sweet and Lowdown

     This film is a fictional biopic of the life of Emmett Ray.  He was the number two of the two best guitarists in the world.  The only one better was Django Reinhardt from Belgium.  Emmett met Django twice and he fainted twice.  Otherwise, Emmett was irresponsible, free-spending, arrogant, obnoxious, miserable and an alcoholic.  He had a tough time keeping gigs because he was either drunk or he didn’t show at all.  His only hobbies were watching trains and shooting rats at the dump. 
     This is good, it seems like the bio of a real person and Penn does a good job in the role plus he is actually playing the guitar.  Morton is also good as Ray’s girlfriend who cannot speak.  I loved the cars and other props of the era.  3 ½* (I liked this movie) 
95 min, Comedy directed by Woody Allen with Sean Penn, Samantha Morton, Ben Duncan Daniel Okrent, Dan Moran, Tony Darrow, Chris Bauer, Uma Thurman.

Note:  Imdb 7.3 out of 10, 78% critic 82% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 3 ½*.
Special Note:  Django Reinhardt toured the US with Duke Ellington in 1946.  He adapted his technique because of the loss of the use of two fingers that were burned in a caravan fire in 1928.  He played with Stephane Grappelli in the Quintet of the Hot Club of France.  I saw Dorado Schmitt with his band in person, he is from France and played with Reinhardt.  The guitar music in this film is actually by Howard Alden and he taught Penn to play.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

And They Lived Happily Ever After 2004

 Happily Ever After

     This film takes a look at three relationships.  Georges and Natalie argue and fight constantly.  Fred is a bachelor playboy nearing 40 with many girlfriends.  Vincent and Gabrielle have a son, they are very playful and romantic but sometimes bored and detached.  Georges wonders if he can stay with Natalie under these conditions. Vincent’s life is the envy of Georges and Fred.  Gabrielle imagines being separated from Fred. 
     There are times in this movie when you don’t know what is really happening and what is imagination.  One couple from India with a happy marriage and no problems are barely seen or mentioned?  They live quietly next door to Georges and Natalie while listening to their daily fights.  2* (This movie is so-so)

100 min, Comedy directed by Yvan Attal with Johnny Depp, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Sebastien Vidal, Yvan Attal, Chloe Combret, Christiane Oui-Oui, Alain Cohen, Carlina Gynning.

Note:  Imdb 6.7 out of 10, 57% critic 71% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 2*.
Special Note:  Johnny Depp has first billing but a very small role?

Monday, March 3, 2014

Afternoon Delight 2013

Afternoon Delight

     Rachel and Jeff are a lucky couple.  They have a young son, a very nice house, she’s a stay-at-home mom and he’s got a good job.  What’s her complaint?  She’s tired of the preschool scene, having no career and they haven’t been close in their marriage for six months.  She talks to her friend, Stephanie.  She finds out they go as a couple to a strip club?  That night Stephanie are invited to go with them.  Rachel meets McKenna and seeks her out later at a coffee truck.  Rachel wants to help McKenna and invites her to live with them in their spare bedroom
     Most of the time you can’t save the world but sometimes you can’t even save one person.  You know this is not going to turn out well as soon as Rachel starts stalking McKenna.  There is comedy but a lot of seriousness too.   3* (This movie is OK)

95 min, Comedy directed by Jill Soloway with Kathryn Hahn, Juno Temple, Josh Radnor, Jane Lynch, Jessica St. Clair, Michaela Watkins, Josh Stamberg, John Kapelos, Keegan-Michael Key, Annie Mumolo.

Note:  Imdb 5.9 of 10, 63% critic 44% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 2*.