Thursday, July 31, 2014

Mary and Martha 2013

Mary and Martha

    When Mary learns that two other boys are bullying her son George in school, she heads right away to the school to call out the boys on their behavior.  She makes the decision to take George to South Africa for homeschooling and an adventure.  Her husband and George are not too sure about this trip but they begin to realize Mary is not changing her mind.  Sometimes George wonders about the food but they are having a very good time and he’s learning a lot.  Martha lives in England and her son Ben has decided he will accept an invitation to teach at a village school in South Africa.  His parents are not to sure about this but Ben is determined.  He finds out this is the best decision he’s ever made.  Mary and Martha meet when Mary returns to South Africa and they bond over the deaths of both of their sons from malaria.  Both Mary and Martha want to change their lives after their experience.  Mary wants to do something about malaria and Martha starts working at the school in Ben’s job. 
     Malaria is still claiming many lives in South Africa and other countries.  New mosquito netting is being made now with interceptor which stops mosquitoes, kills them and the nets can remain active for years.  There is still a lot of work that needs to be done to fight this disease.  This movie is good, interesting and does spark your interest in what is currently being done.  3 ½* (I liked this movie)

90 min, Drama directed by Phillip Noyce with Hilary Swank, Brenda Blethyn, Sam Claflin, Frank Grillo, Lux Haney-Jardine, Bongo Mbu
tuma, Ian Redford, James Woods, Nokuthula Ledwaba, Sifiso Sihlangu. 

Note:  Imdb 6.8 out of 10, 100% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Amazon 4.7 out of 5 with 12 reviews.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

The Legend of Hercules 2014

The Legend of Hercules

     This film takes place in Ancient Greece of 1200 B.C. and it’s the story of the origin of Hercules.  King Amphitryon discovers someone in the bedchambers of Queen Alcmene.  The only problem is that he cannot find anyone there.  What really happened was Zeus came to the Queen so she would bear his son, Hercules.  There is a promise that he will overthrow the tyrannical rule of King Amphitryon.  Everyone knows this Prince by another name and even he doesn’t know his true identity.  The King sends the Prince on a mission to Egypt because the Prince loves Hebe, Princess of Crete.  The King has proclaimed that Hebe will marry the King’s eldest son, Iphicles. 
     The story is complicated but the movie isn’t.  It’s one battle after another until you almost cannot watch another battle.   This is like 300 but not as good and it was shown in the theater in 3-D technology.  There are white pieces that fall from the sky and appear in front of the scene?  There is no explanation of what they are why this happens?  Only slightly distracting from the epic battle scenes!!  2* (I didn't like this movie) 

99 min, Action directed by Renny Harlin with Kellan Lutz, Gaia Weiss, Scott Adkins, Roxanne McKee, Liam Garrigan, Liam McIntyre, Rade Serbedzija, Johnathon Schaech, Luke Newberry, Kenneth Cranham.

Note: Imdb 4.2 out of 10, 3% critic 35% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 1 ½*.
Special Note:  There is a 2nd Hercules film due out this summer with Dwayne Johnson (The Rock).  We know that The Rock didn’t have to exercise very much more than his regular routine to fit into his Hercules role.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Listen to Your Heart 2010

LISTEN TO YOUR HEART ( DVD )-Listen To Your Heart ( Dvd ) (2013) (DVD) Special     Danny is a struggling musician working as a waiter in New York to pay the bills.  He has a positive attitude and believes “every day is a great day to be alive!”  He meets Ariana when she comes with her mother to eat at the restaurant.  She is a beautiful girl from Greenwich, Ct.  Her family is wealthy but Ariana is deaf and non-speaking.  Danny and Ariana start to see each other but Ariana is struggling with her controlling mother.  She’s torn between looking for love and the safety net her mother provides. 
      Warning this could be a Hallmark or Lifetime movie?  It plays it safe following the tried and true pattern of a love story.  They meet, there are difficulties, mother gets involved, forces daughter away from guy, she has to make a choice, etc.  I wanted to like this movie but it seems just too sticky sweet and perfect?  2 ½* (This movie is so-so)  

100 min, Drama directed by Matt Thompson with Alexia Rasmussen, Kent Moran, Cybill Shepherd, Shirley Knight, Frank Watson, Ernie Sabella, Lisa Benner.

Note:  Imdb 7.2 out of 10, 77% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Amazon 4* with 49 reviews.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Girl Rising 2013

Girl Rising

     Stories of nine girls from different countries of the world are told in this film.  They face arranged marriage, pregnancy at a very young age, child slavery and other injustices.  This is all because they were born as girls.  Education is one answer to their problems.  If they can learn to read, write and do math, they have a chance for a different future.  In some cases it takes a lot of determination and time to change ideas.  This film is supported by 10x10, a social action organization seeking educational equality for underprivileged girls.
     The stories of the girls are done with actors and also by the girls themselves. This style of filming makes the stores more interesting than just giving facts and figures.  In the United States education is compulsory between five and eight years old and ending between sixteen and eighteen depending on the state.  In other countries, a lot of times it is more important for males to go to school than females.  Poverty, customs and beliefs contribute to females not being educated.  In areas of conflict, the percentage of children going to school is less.  3 ½* (I liked this movie.

101 min, Doc directed by Richard Robbins with Amina, Marie Arana, Azmera, Doreen Baingana, Arindol Bagchi, Rekha Banerjee, Barsha Cahrttajee, Tripti Chaudhary, Priyanka Chopra, Edwidge Danticat.

Note:  Imdb 6.9 out of 10, 89% critic 85% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Metacritic 59 based on 5 critics and 8.8 average user score based on 4 ratings.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Lone Survivor 2013

Lone Survivor

     This film is based on a true story.  In late June 2005, a team of Navy Seals set out to kill or capture a Taliban leader.  Ahmad Shah is their target.  They meet up with goat herders in the mountains and they are faced with a dilemma.  Do they let the herders go or do they kill them?  They don’t want to kill them but they risk discovery and death if these men inform on them to the Taliban.  The team leader decides they must follow established rules of engagement and they let them go.  One of the herders swiftly runs to inform the Taliban about the Americans.  In a short time, they are attacked by an unknown number of men.
     In order to honor the men killed in his mission, couldn’t the script include more dialog instead of the constant swearing?  I know this is the type of language used but the viewer just doesn’t listen after a few minutes.  I also really question planning involved in this mission.  We have air power for cover and we needed to use them more.  This mission should have been cancelled as soon as the herders were let go.  Air rescue could have picked the men up ASAP and the mission rescheduled.

121 min, Action directed by Peter Berg with Mark Wahlberg, Taylor Kitsch, Emile Hirsch, Ben Foster, Yousuf Azami, Ali Suliman, Eric Bana, Alexander Ludwig, Rich Ting, Dan Bilzerian, Jerry Ferrara, Rick Vargas.

Note:  Imdb 7.7 out of 10, 75% critic 88% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 2*.
Special Note:  A different title may have been better for this film since it broadcasts the ending? 

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Let the Fire Burn 2013

Let the Fire Burn

      A group called MOVE established themselves in West Philadelphia.  They were led by John Africa and they wanted to live simply without technology.  As time went by they became more radical and the adults had confrontations with the police.  Many were arrested and processed through the courts.  The children were raised eating raw food and the adults ate cooked food.  Clothing was optional for the younger children.  They felt their lifestyle was to live in truth.  On May 13 1985, they were staying in a city row house and there were many complaints from the neighbors.  The MOVE group used a loud speaker to broadcast out into the neighborhood.  There were complaints about noise, sanitation, debris and child abuse.  The Philadelphia police confronted the group and asked them to leave the house.  The MOVE group had constructed a bunker on the roof from which they could shoot and be protected.  A water spray and tear gas were first used to get them out.  The decision was made to drop a device from a helicopter to destroy the bunker.  The resulting fire burned the MOVE house and 60 other homes.  Five children and six adults were killed in the fire because they did not exit.  Only a female adult and a male child came out of the fire.
     This film shows the public investigation of the fire five months later.  There is a lot of archive footage from television news programs in the 70’s and 80’s.  You can see how both sides felt at the time.  There had been a previous incident with a police officer killed.  The MOVE people wanted to live their own way but they chose not to avoid confrontations.  The officers felt they had no choice but to address the behavior of the MOVE group and the way they acted in the neighborhood.  One of the biggest questions is why 60 other homes were allowed to burn?  3* (This movie is OK)

88 min, Doc directed by Jason Osder with Birdie, Ramona and Delbert Africa, Wilson Goode, William Brown III, William B. Lytton, LaVerne Sims.

Note:  Imdb 7.8 out of 10, 98% critic 90% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Amazon 4.8* out of 5* with 18 reviews.
Special Note:  One of the police officers was diagnosed with PTSD and left the force after this happened. 

Friday, July 25, 2014

Snake and Moongoo$e 2013

Snake and Mongoose

     Don Prudomme and Tom McEwen were Southern California drag racers in the 1960’s.  At the beginning of their careers, they weren’t making enough to support themselves and their families on the racing circuit. They combined their talents, they were best friends and even though they opposed each other on the track, they worked together on a deal with Mattel.  Mattel had success with Hot Wheel toy cars made after the design of their sponsored funny cars.   Mattel gave them enough money for two cars, trailers with trucks, expense money and their image was sold all over the US.  It was the cartoon characters of the Snake and the Mongoo$e that opened the door with Matel.  They were the first racers to strike a big deal in advertising to pay their way.
     There is a lot of vintage footage featured in this film and it was interesting to see the story behind the men.  They were rivals on the track but tried not to let that get in the way personally but sometimes competition would cause a near fight to erupt.  3* (This movie is OK)

102 min, Sport directed by Wayne Holloway with Ian Ziering, Jesse Williams, Noah Wyle, Ashley Hinshaw, John Heard, Fred Dryer, Tim Blake Nelson.

Note:  Imdb 5.6 out of 10, 80% critic 74% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Amazon 4.4* out of 5* with 160 reviews.
Special Note:  I saw Don “Big Daddy” Gartlits and Shirley Muldowney, Top Fuel eliminators, go up against each other in a race.  It was very exciting and the noise of their engines went through your body.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Walking with Dinosaurs 2013

Walking With Dinosaurs

     This film is about dinosaurs in the Late Cretaceous period 70 million years ago.  Patchi is the runt in his litter of Pachyrinosaurus but he has a lot of spunk.  He’s the first to climb out of the nest and a Troodon immediately picks him up.  He is  marked by a hole made in the crown going over his head.  Patchi meets Juniper and he tries to impress her but he returns several times to see her and she’s gone.  When their herd starts their migration, they mix with another herd and he sees Juniper again.  Gordons attack them and Patchi, Juniper and Patchi’s brother Scowler are separated.  They go through the forest and are able to meet up with the herd again.  Years pass and the small dinosaurs are now adults.
     In the theater, this film was shown in 3D animation and is based on a BBC series.  The computer animation is placed over scenes of actual settings to make it look more realistic.  Since dinosaurs fascinate most kids, they will probably enjoy this and I found the characters interesting.  There also is information about the types of dinosaurs too.  This is not supposed to be a rocket science movie and it's for kids so I wonder about the low reviews?  3* (This movie is OK)

87 min, Animation directed by Barry Cook, Neil Nightingale with Charlie Rowe, Karl Urban, Angourie Rice and the voices of John Leguizamo, Justin Long, Skyler Stone, Tiya Sircar, Clay Savage, Jud Tinsely, Mary Mouser.

Note:  Imdb 5.2 out of 10, 24% critic 42% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 1 ½*.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Legal Eagles 1986

Legal Eagles

     Defense lawyer Laura Kelly has a new client, Chelsea Deardon.  The only problem with Chelsea is that she embellishes the truth if she thinks it’s not good enough.  This is not a good sign in a lawyer and client relationship.  District Attorney Tom Logan is in line to move up in office when there is a retirement.  The first charge against Chelsea is theft of a painting and when that charge is dismissed, she is charged with murder.
     There are a lot of things wrong with this film.  The plot has a lot of angles but all of them are not interesting enough to follow.  It seems like too many people involved and too many details to contend with.  The actors deserve something with more meat instead of splitting this into many film classifications.  Mixed together are comedy, optical illusion, suspense, mystery, emotion and legal drama.  There is not much comedy here to list it as the category of this film? 2 ½* (This movie is so-so)

116 min, Crime directed by Ivan Reitman with Robert Redford, Debra Winger, Daryl Hannah, Brian Dennehy, Terence Stamp, Steven Hill, David Clenon, John McMartin, Jennifer Dundas, Roscoe Lee Browne.

Note:  Imdb 5.8 out of 10, 47% critic 33% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 2 ½*.
Special Note:  Debra Winger left acting when she was 40 years old in 1995 despite receiving awards for her work.  She was also a popular actress.  She felt there were no good roles left for her and she concentrated on being a mother to her two sons.  She was away for 6 years and she returned for the film Big Bad Love 2001.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Le Week-End 2013

     Meg and Nick are a British couple returning to Paris to celebrate their anniversary where they had their honeymoon.  A lot has changed in the passing years and more than just they have grown older.  They are hoping this trip will rejuvenate their marriage.  Nick is shy, bashful modest and self-effacing.  Meg is demanding and take-charge.  Their trip seesaws from getting along to arguing and back again.  Meg immediately rejects the cheap and seedy accommodations he has booked and they find another place but it appears to be above their price range. They accidently run into an old friend that causes them to squabble more when they compare their modest life to his superstar life.
Le Week-End     This is funny and also sad but enjoyable but there is a little too much bickering and lamenting.  I think it needs closer editing since it seems overlong even though the film is just over 1-½ hours.  3* (This movie is OK)

93 min, Comedy directed by Roger Michell with Lindsay Duncan, Jim Broadbent, Jeff Goldblum.

Note:  Imdb 6.4 out of 10, 89% critic 55% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 3 ½*.
Special Note:  Director Roger Michell has also done Four Weddings and a Funeral 1994, Notting Hill 1999, Persuasion 1995, Changing Lanes 2002, Venus 2006, The King’s Speech 2010, Hyde Park on Hudson 2012.  Also, I think Duncan looks like an older Julie Delpy.

Monday, July 21, 2014

The Right Kind of Wrong 2013

The Right Kind of Wrong

     This movie is based on a novel by Tim Sandlin and filmed in Canada.  Leo Palamino is a dishwasher in a busy restaurant who can also juggle dishes, knives and other kitchen equipment.  He wrote a novel and accepted an advance but refused to make recommended changes.  He returned the advance and self published but his novel was a failure.  His wife Julie left him after achieving success as a writer with her blog about Leo and his failures plus turning the blog into a novel.  Leo meets Colette at her wedding and he believes she’s making a mistake.  Even though her new husband Danny seems perfect, Leo believes he’s the man for her. 
     This film is asking us to believe a lot that seems implausible?  How can Leo be the right one for Colette when he doesn’t have anything but ridicule going for him?  I don’t see a lot mutual attraction or a feeling that they must be right for each other and they don’t know each other at all?  What about breaking up a new marriage just because you don’t have anyone else but your cat?  2 ½* (This movie is so-so)

97 min, Comedy directed by Jeremiah Chechik with Ryan Kwanten, Sara Canning, Ryan McPartlin, Kristen Hager, James A. Woods, Raoul Bhaneja, Jennifer Baxter, Will Sasso, Catherine O’Hara, Maria Menounos.

Note:  Imdb 6.2 out of 10, 12% critic 40% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 1 ½*.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

The Cinncinnati Kid 1965

The Cincinnati Kid

      The setting is New Orleans in the 1930’s.  The Cincinnati Kid is a young poker player who goes from one big game to the next.  He also stops along the way to meet attractive women.  In New Orleans, he has a chance to play against the legendary champion cardsharp Lancey Howard known as The Man in a very high-stakes poker game.  The Shooter is another gambling pro, he arranges the game and he’s the main dealer.  They have Lady Fingers to fill in if The Shooter gets tired.  Slade is an old enemy of The Man and he tries to fix the game.
       I had forgotten that these games could go on all night and into the next day.  They only stop for a break if there is a request to do so.  I also found the roles of Ann-Margret and Tuesday Weld interesting.  Nothing related about them personally but only their behavior concerning the men is in their scenes.  There are a lot of review comparisons with The Hustler with Paul Newman shooting pool (1961) and the Thomas Crown Affair with Pierce Brosnan (1999).  3* (This movie is OK)

102 min, Drama directed by Norman Jewison with Steve McQueen, Ann-Margret, Edward G. Robinson, Karl Malden, Tuesday Weld, Joan Blondell, Rip Torn, Jack Weston, Cab Calloway, Jeff Corey, Theodore Marcuse.

Note:  Imdb 7.3 out of 10, 85% critic 79% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, TCM average 4.2 out of 5 user review, Amazon 7.3 out of 10 with 104 reviews.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Little Children

Little Children

     Sarah Pierce is married to an advertising executive in New England and they have a young daughter.  She feels her days are long, she can’t seem to connect with her daughter and she feels her marriage is lacking love.  Brad Adamson sometimes comes to the park with his young son and they also go to the pool.  He’s supposedly studying every night at the library to retake the bar exam but he hasn’t gone all summer and his wife makes documentaries.  Brad is a husband and dad but he can’t quite seem to grasp adulthood.  Sarah and Brad meet at the park and they start meeting at the pool with their children.  Sarah has a master’s degree in literature, she is just very happy to have adult conversation and to have someone listen to her.  Ronnie is a convicted child molester living in the neighborhood and everyone is afraid of him and talking about him.  Larry has retired from the police force because of PSTD, he’s been kicked out of his house by his wife and his only purpose in life at the moment is to torment Ronnie. 
     There are a lot of plots going here at once and they are sorted out by soothing voice-over narration to keep us straight.  Think James Earl Jones but not quite as deep voiced.  There are unexpected twists of resolution at the end.  3* (This movie is OK)

136 min Drama directed by Todd Field with Kate Winslet, Jennifer Connelly, Patrick Wilson, Jackie Earle Haley, Noah Emmerich, Gregg Edelman, Phyllis Somerville, Raymond J. Barry, Jane Adams.

Note:  Imdb 7.6 out of 10, 80% critic 82% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 2 ½*.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Rhapsody in Blue 1945

Rhapsody in Blue

     This film follows the Gershwin family from the boyhood of George and Ira to 1937 when George was 39 years old.  The Gershwin family has talent, composer George is driven by the need to compose and succeed.  Ira is good at writing lyrics but not as driven.  Julie Adams is in love with George but he’s too busy.  Ira has gotten married and he doesn’t push himself so hard.
     The music is good, there is a lot of it and it’s filmed in black and white.  There is a lot of information I didn't know about the Gershwin brothers.  3* (This movie is OK)

135 min, Bio directed by Irving Rapper with Robert Alda, Joan Leslie, Alexis Smith, Charles Coburn, Julie Bishop, Albert Bassermann, Morris Carnovsky, Rosemary DeCamp, Oscar Levant, Paul Whiteman, Al Jolson.

Note:  Imdb 7.0 out of 10, 20% critic 58% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Amazon 4.3* with 53 reviews.
Special Note:  The director wanted Tyrone Power to play Gershwin but Power was still serving in the Marines.  Rhapsody in Blue was composed in 1924.  Gershwin had been seeing composer Kay Swift for 10 years.  Julie and Christine in the film are fictional.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Dead Ringers 1988

Dead Ringers

     This film is loosely based on facts. The Mantle brothers are twins and they are both gynecologists in Toronto.  They look exactly alike but they are different in personality, temperament and medical expertise.  Elliot is the dominant twin, confident, good at public speaking and a ladies man.  Beverly is more reserved and better at working with the patients.  Elliot meets Claire Niveau, she is an actress and he thinks Beverly would like her more.  Beverly and Claire become very close but she likes to take drugs and Beverly begins to take them too.  Claire leaves for an acting role and Beverly starts to fall apart without her.  Elliot continues with his part of their exclusive practice and he doesn’t realize how disturbed Beverly has become.
     This is a very different and slightly eerie film with a cold, detached style and Irons playing both roles of the twins with differences in their hair to tell them apart.  Claire shakes everything up in their very well tailored life.  Since Beverly is the one who is repressed, changes affect him first and the worst.  Elliot wants everything to remain the same for their lives and their medical practice.  The music sets you up to thinks you will see something really terrible but the film is visually controlled without special effects.  3* (This movie is OK) 

116 min, Drama directed by David Cronenberg with Jeremy Irons, Genevieve Bujold, Heidi von Palleske, Barbara Gordon, Shirley Douglas, Stephen Lack, Nick Nichols, Lynne Cormack, Damir Andrei, Miriam Newhouse.

Note:  Imdb 7.4 out of 10, 83% critic 83% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 2 ½*.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Labor Day 2013

Labor Day

     This film is based on a novel by Joyce Maynard.  The year is 1987 on Labor Day weekend, Adele is a divorced single mom and she has a 13 year-old son, Henry.  They live in a house needing repair work and paint in a small New Hampshire town.  Adele is depressed and she can’t go into the bank but she can drive Henry there to go inside for her.  She pushes herself to take Henry to buy new clothes for going back to school.  They meet a man there and he manages to get them to offer him a ride because he’s injured and asks for their help.  Police are searching the town for him because he’s an escaped convict.  Frank begins to tell his story to Adele and Henry.  He also changes the oil in her car, cleans the gutters, mops and waxes the floor.  He teaches them how to make a peach pie from fruit brought over by a neighbor.
     What happened to Adele and her marriage is told in flashbacks.  There is a lot of tension when there are scenes where Frank could get caught and sent back to prison.  This film has low marks for sentiment but wasn’t 1987 a different time than 2013, especially small town America?  3 ½* (I liked this movie)

111 min, Drama directed by Jason Reitman with Kate Winslet, Josh Brolin, Gattlin Griffith, Tobey Maguire, Tom Lipinski, Maika Monroe, Clark Gregg, James Van Der Beek, J.K. Simmons, Brooke Smith.

Note:  Imdb 6.9 out of 10, 33% critic 55% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 1 ½*.
Special Note:  The author Joyce Maynard, came to the set of Labor Day in Shelburne Falls, Massachusetts to teach Winslet and Brolin how to make the peach pie.  They made three pies and ate them right away.  Josh told her later that he made a pie almost every day of that summer.  When Joyce’s mother was dying, Joyce also made a pie nearly every day during those months.  Friends came by to see her mother and she fed them pie.  Later she started teaching others to make pies using her mother’s method.  Joyce said she cries every time she watches them make the pie in this movie.