Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Love Liza 2002

Love Liza         Wilson Joel’s wife committed suicide.  She left a letter for him but he hasn’t been able to open it.  Liza’s mother wants him to open it now so she can find out more information about why this happened but the letter doesn’t have her name on it.  Wilson starts to inhale fumes from gasoline and model airplane fuel to relieve his constant pain.  He buys a model airplane to explain the buying of the airplane fuel and it is stolen from his car.  He gets into a confrontation with the manager of a restaurant over tearing out a page from the desk copy of the yellow pages.  A policeman comes to talk to him about his actions and behavior.  Wilson’s employer wants to help him and a co-worker arranges a job interview for him for a different job.  He can’t get himself together for his current job or for the new job he’s accepted.  He learns about competitions between remote control model enthusiasts and attending these events saves him for a time.
        You can really feel Wilson’s pain and his mother-in-law usually is not helping him.  There are two teens in the movie that are also sniffing gasoline and model
airplane fuel.  Sniffing causes intoxication from the 25% level of aromatics.  Australia refines gasoline with 5% aromatics that weakens the effects.  Inhalation can cause headache, nausea, vomiting, slurred speech, loss of motor coordination, wheezing and a bloody nose.  Heart rhythms can be disrupted, oxygen levels lowered, damage to the brain, heart, kidneys and liver.  I’m not sure about the ending since it's ambiguous?  3 (This movie is OK)

90 min, Drama directed by Todd Louiso with Philip Seymour Hoffman, Annie Morgan, Kathy Bates, J.D. Walsh, Jimmy Raskin, Erika Alexander, Sarah Koskoff, Stephen Tobolowsky, Jack Kehler.

Note:  Imdb 7.0 out of 10, 53% critic 77% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 3*.
Special Note:  This movie was filmed in Louisiana and Alabama.  Philip Seymour Hoffman’s brother Gordy wrote the screenplay. Awarded the prize for best screenplay at Sundance Film Festival.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Survivor 2015

Survivor     Kate Abbott has been transferred to the American embassy in London as a Foreign Service Officer.  Her new job is working in the visa section to screen terrorists and prevent them from getting into the U.S.  Kate and the other employees working in this
section are going to lunch to celebrate their boss Bill Talbot.  A gift hasn’t been purchased for him and Kate goes across the street to get him something.  A bomb goes off in the restaurant and everyone attending except Kate and Bill are killed.  Kate meets Bill in the park as agreed as a safe location but Bill is killed there.  Kate goes on the run, everyone believes she is responsible for the bombing and Bill's death.
     There is a faint plot here but a lot of running,explosions, weapons and shootings.  Pierce Brosnan is the bad guy and he has gray hair which are both different aspects of his career.  He has a continuous sneer on his face as well.  3* (This movie is OK)

96 min, Action directed by James McTeigue with Milla Jovovich, Dylan McDermott, Pierce Brosnan, Angela Bassett, James D’Arcy, Antonia Thomas.

Note:  Imdb 5.6 out of 10, 8% critic 34% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 2*.
Special Note:  James McTeigue has also directed V for Vendetta and The Raven.  This movie was filmed in Sofia, Bulgaria and London, England, UK.

Monday, September 28, 2015

The Seagull's Laughter 2001

Seagull's Laughter     The setting is the post-war provincial Icelandic village of Hafnarfjordur of early 1950.  Freyja was a plump teen but she's not anymore when she returns from America.  She said her American serviceman husband died of a heart attack.  The townspeople are not sure if she was really married and moves into cramped quarters with her grandma.  There are already a lot of people living here and Agga who is 11 years old needs to sleep on a cot in her former room now that is now Freyja’s room. Agga adores and hates Freyja but she also believes Freyja killed her first husband?  The first item on Freyja’s agenda is to find a new husband.  There are only two eligible men in the village for her to concentrate on.  One is an engineer who lives with his mother but he is engaged to the mayor’s daughter.  The other is a young policeman.  The engineer has a better job and house so he will be the first target.
     People who live in cold climates do not think the same way as people living in warmer areas!!  The cold gets into their minds and also there is the extended time with less daylight.  Freya thinks about only one person and that is herself and her needs.  She must have a slim body, beautiful clothing, flowing long hair and all eyes upon her, especially the eyes of the men.  3 ½* (I liked this movie)

102 min, Drama directed by Agust Guomundsson with Margret Vilhajalmsdottir, Ugla Egilsdottir, Henio Ferch, Hilmir Snaer Guonason, Kristbjorg Kjeld, Edda Bjorg Eyjolfsdottir, Bara Lyngdal Magnusdottir.

Note:  Imdb 6.9 out of 10, 84% critic 69% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 3 ½*.
Special Note:  This movie is filled with Glenn Miller and other swing band songs from the war era.  It opens and closes with the song Sh-boom.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Black or White 2014

Black or White    Elliot Anderson and his wife are taking care of their biracial granddaughter after the death of their daughter.  She died giving birth to Eloise and her father isn’t able to take care of her.  Elliot suffers another loss when his wife Carol dies from injuries received in a car accident.  All these problems are almost too much for Elliot and then Eloise’s other grandmother, Rowena Jeffers petitions the court for full custody of Eloise.  When Rowena thinks this might not go through, she changes the petition for her son and the father of Eloise to have full custody.  Reggie is a drug addict, he’s been in prison and he’s never been in Eloise’s life but his mother is pushing him into court.
     The problem with this film is that it seems like a Lifetime movie, all men suck even if they are trying to do the right thing?  Elliot has a drinking problem but he is trying.  Reggie knows he can’t do the right thing so he doesn’t know what to do but he's trying.  I couldn't seem to relate to the characters so this film becomes just arguing back in forth in life and then in court.  3* (This movie is OK)

121 min, Drama directed by Mike Binder with Kevin Costner, Octavia Spencer, Gillian Jacobs, Bill Burr, Mpho Koaho, Anthony Mackie, Andre Holland, Jennifer Ehle, Paula Newsome.

Note:  Imdb 6.6 out of 10, 39% critic 68% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 2 ½*, Amazon 4.3* out of 5* with 1382 reviews.
Special Note:  The director, Mike Binder based this film on his nephew.  His father was out of the picture and his mother died at 33 years old. 

Saturday, September 26, 2015

My Worst Nightmare 2011

My Worst Nightmare     Patrick Demeuleu lives with his son in the back of his brother’s van in Paris. He owned a bar but it burned down, he gets social security and he works odd jobs.  He has spent almost 7 years behind bars and child protective services are after him
because he doesn’t have a home for his son.  Patrick hasn’t met an alcoholic beverage he doesn’t like, he likes large women with an IQ under 80.  Agathe Novic lives in a posh apartment with her son and Francois Dambreville.  She is the head of an important contemporary art foundation and she has spent 7 years on advanced education in her field.  She has a good relationship with the Minister of Culture and Arts, she loves intellectual discussions and she is severe with the people who work with her.  Their sons become best friends.
     This is funny and the mix of Patrick and Agathe doesn’t seem like it would ever work.  It’s like oil and water, fast and slow, busy and idle, etc.  Patrick is always shocking Agathe and he doesn’t do anything she asks.  He wants her to shop at IKEA for her closet and she has barely heard of this store.  I was very surprised she ate the meatballs!!  3 ½* (I liked this movie)

103 min, Comedy directed by Anne Fontaine with Isabelle Huppert, Benoit Poelvoorde, Andre Dussollier, Virginie Efira, Corentin Devroey, Donatien Suner, Aurelien Recoing, Eric Berger, Philippe Magnan.

Note:  Imdb 6.0 out of 10, 64% critic 26% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Amazon 3.8* out of 5* with 24 reviews.
Special Note:  This movie was filmed in Paris, France and Ninove, Belgium.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Imitation of Life 1959

Imitation of Life   This film is loosely based on a novel by Fannie Hurst.  Lora Meredith takes her young daughter to the beach in Los Angeles.  She meets Annie Johnson and her young daughter.  The girls start to play and Lora learns that Annie and her daughter don’t have a place to live.  Lora invites them to come to their apartment to spend the night.  Right away, Lora gets a call for a modeling job.  She has been filling envelopes to help get money for the rent.  Lora asks Annie if she would watch Susie until she gets back from the job.  Annie has a very positive attitude and Lora finally gets a big break in becoming the actress she has always wanted to be.  Annie and Sarah Jane are able to live permanently with Lora and Susie now that Lora has a steady income.  Annie is such an asset in taking care of the things Lora doesn’t have time for now.
     Even though the blended family isn’t worrying constantly about money and shelter, there are other problems.  Susie feels she doesn’t get enough time with her mother.  Sarah Jane doesn’t want to have an African American mother because she wants to be white like Susie.  I thought this was interesting and I especially liked the attitudes, clothing, hair and cars of the period.  It was the casting couch era with ‘certain’ requirements mentioned for stardom in entertainment!!  3 ½* (I liked this movie)

125 min, Drama directed by Douglas Sirk with Lana Turner, John Gavin, Sandra Dee, Susan Kohner, Robert Alda, Dan O’Herlihy, Juanita Moore.

Note:  Imdb 7.9 out of 10, 83% critic 92% audience on Rotten Tomatoes,  Amazon 4.7* out of 5* with 500 reviews.
Special Note:  This film is a remake of a 1934 film that featured Lora setting up a successful pancake business with Annie’s recipe while she waited for stardom.  This film starred Claudette Colbert and Louise Beavers, 111 min,  Imdb 7.6 out of 10.

Last Weekend 2014

Last Weekend     Celia and Malcom Green own a vacation home on the shore of Lake Tahoe in California.  It’s Labor Day Weekend and they have invited their son Theo and his friend Luke from New York.  Their other son Roger is coming with his girlfriend Vanessa.  Roger doesn’t want his parents to know that he was recently fired from his job because of a typo that cost the company 30 million dollars!!  Malcom Green owns fitness gyms and Vanessa would like to get her boutique-flavored waters placed in his gyms.  Theo has invited Nora Finley-Perkins and her husband Sean Oakes.  Theo writes for a television show, Nora is his boss and he has given her a screenplay to read.  He has also invited Blake Curtis, the female star of the television show.  Celia and Malcom feel this will be their last weekend in Tahoe because they are thinking of selling this home since they also have another vacation home.
     This is not a very pleasant movie.  Theo has only known Luke for three weeks.  Roger is on pins and needles about his parents finding out he is a loser because of his job error.  There is a lot of arguing between everyone.  Also, squabbles, spats, tiffs, 
misunderstandings, nitpicking and unnecessary revelations.  Both Theo and Roger seemed spoiled and not very appreciative of anything they receive.  The only positive about this movie is Patricia Clarkson.   2* (I didn’t like this movie)

94 min, Drama directed by Tom Dolby, Tom Williams with Patricia Clarkson, Zachary Booth, Joseph Cross, Julio Oscar Mechoso, Rutina Wesley, Fran Kranz, Devon Graye, Joseph Cross, Alexia Rasmussen, Sheila Kelley, Mary Kay Place, Judith Light, Chris Mulkey, Julie Carmen, Jayma Mays.

Note:  Imdb 5.2 out of 10, 33% critic 39% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 1*.
Special Note:  This home was previously featured in the film A Place in the Sun released in 1951.  Tom Dolby, the director, is the son of Dolby Laboratories founder Ray Dolby and Tom spent summer and winter holidays at this lake house.  In this film, it seems to be stuffed with every kind of clutter imaginable?  Maybe it's Patricia Clarkson's clutter?

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Princess Mononoke 1997

Princess Mononoke     Ashitaka is a young warrior protecting his village from a boar-god/demon.  He is attacked by the demon and suffers a wound to his right arm.  He has purple marks on his arm that will spread to his body and eventually kill him.  This incident forces him to leave the village and he is banished forever.  To try to save his life, he journeys to the forests of the west and he hopes the god of the forest will be able to help him.  He learns Lady Eboshi and her followers are planning to use their guns against the god of the forest and Princess Mononoke.  The Princess was raised by a wolf-god and she believes she is a wolf but she is human.  Ashitaka can see both sides of this fight and he tries to make peace to save the god of the forest. 

     This is an epic movie set in medieval Japan at the beginning of the Iron Age.  It is very good, interesting and full of myth and dreams.  Its not really a battle of good and evil but humans, the forest animals and nature gods all looking differently at life.  The characters and the forest are really brought to life with the wonderful animation.  4 1/2* (I really liked this movie)  

134 min, Animation directed by Hayao Miyazaki with the voices of Billy Crudup, Billy Bob Thornton, Minnie Driver, John DiMaggio, Claire Danes, John DeMita, Jada Pinkett Smith, Gillian Anderson, Keith David, Corey Burton.

Note:  Imdb 8.4 out of 10, 92% critic 94% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 4*.
Special Note:  This film has broken a number of box office records in its native Japan.  The Studio Ghibli is the originator of the work on this film and Disney has purchased the studio’s output for worldwide distribution.  The version released by Disney has the voices in English.  It's really funny to hear Billy Bob Thornton speaking for the animated character of an older short plump Japanese man.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Fateless 2005

Fateless     This movie is based on a semi-autobiographical novel by Nobel Prize winner Imre Kertesz.  Gyorgy Koves is fourteen years old when WWII comes to Hungary in 1944.  His father is sent to a work camp and Gyorgy is sent to a concentration camp.  He’s moved around a lot to different camps and his last stop is Buchenwald.  The men try to help him as much as they can with advice about his mental and physical health.  They also try to help him to keep his dignity and self-esteem.  Gyorgy follows what they s
ay until he becomes too week from overwork, exhaustion and hunger to think or care about anything.
     This film has almost colorless tones washed over with sepia and grey.  Hints of color occasionally appear and it’s very fitting for the grimness of the subject.  Gyorgy’s only goal and it kept him going was returning to Budapest.  When the Americans liberated the camp, he was discouraged from returning to Budapest but in his mind he had no choice.  3 ½* (I liked this movie)

140 min, Drama directed by Lajoes Koltai with Marcell Nagy, Bela Dora, Balint Pentek, Aron Dimeny, Peter Francsikai, Zsolt Der, Andras M. Kecskes, Dani Szabo, Tibor Mertz, Peter Vida, Endre Harkanyi, Marton Brezina.

Note:  Imdb 7.1 out of 10, 92% critic 83% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Amzaon 4.6* out of 5* with 38 reviews.
Special Note:  This movie was filmed in different locations in Hungary.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Iris 2014

Iris     Carl Apfel is 101 years old and his wife Iris is 94 years old.  Iris worked for Women’s Wear Daily and for interior designer Elinor Johnson.  She was also an assistant to illustrator Robert Goodman.  After she married, the couple opened a textile firm two years later.  They retired from this firm in 1992.  She is always impeccably dressed in creative clothing and she has been gathering her collection over many years.  She grew up in Queens during the Depression and she still feels lucky to be working.  She consults, lectures and appears on television discussing style and other fashion topics.  Her collections have been sold on the Home Shopping Network and she is currently donating sets of her clothing and jewelry every year to a New York Museum.
     Iris is very slim, always looks put together in her signature style and she likes to wear a lot of large jewelry.  She always wears large rimmed glasses and you recognize her right away.  She is tireless and she is working every day.  Her New York apartment is filled with racks of clothing and collections of objects she has gathered.  Her mother’s apartment is also filled and she has a storage loft.  I don’t know how often she shops but it could be daily?  This is interesting and there probably isn’t another person like her?  3* (This movie is OK)
80 min, Doc directed by Albert Maysles with Carl and Iris Apfel.
Note:  Imdb 6.6 out of 10, 97% critic 85% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 3*.
Special Note:  The director, Albert Maysles is 88 years old.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Wah-Wah 2005

     This film is based on true events from the childhood of actor and author Richard E. Grant.  The setting is Swaziland at the end of the 1960’s and the country is about to receive independence from Great Britain.  Ralph Compton is twelve years old and he has a difficult time accepting the separation and divorce of his parents.  His father works as the minister of education and he has a drinking habit.  He misses his mother very much and he decides he would rather go to boarding school than live with his father.  When he returns home at the age of fourteen, his father has remarried and his mother has come to visit him.
     Ralph went through a lot in his childhood.  He worked with puppets and he was able to express his emotions through them.  He gave shows with them and he also worked with them as a release for his tensions and emotions.  He seemed not to have many choices and going to boarding school was one choice he could make for himself.  There was some isolation also because the British people gathered together as a group and didn’t mingle with other people.  3 ½* (I liked this movie)
120 min, Drama directed by Richard E. Grant with Gabriel Byrne, Nicholas Hoult, Miranda Richardson, Emily Watson, Julie Walters, Celia Imrie, Charles Bingham, June Broughton, John Matshikiza, Sid Mitchell.

Note:  Imdb 6.9 out of 10, 53% critic 63% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 3*.
Special Note:  This movie was filmed in Swaziland and it was the first movie to be filmed in this country.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

'71 2014

     The setting of this film is the street riots in Belfast of 1971 during the 30-year conflict in Northern Ireland.  British soldiers try to hold back a mob of people throwing rocks at them.  A young boy steals one of the rifles and two soldiers chase him down the street to get the gun back.  One of the soldiers is beaten by part of the mob until a woman makes them back off.  Someone shoots the soldier and the second soldier, Gary Hook, gets away but he’s left behind by his fellow soldiers. 
Everyone working against the British is after this man and he needs to find a way to survive the night.
     The solders are lead by in inexperienced lieutenant.  They are heavily armed but they cannot use their guns against the mob.  Their job and mission is to hold the crowd back.  The Royal Ulster Constabulary is searching homes for firearms and roughing up the people.  The young boy shown in the beginning and later with Gary Hook is his younger brother.  3 ½* (I liked this movie)

99 min, Action directed by Yann Demange with Jack O’Connell, Jack Lowden, Paul Popplewell, Adam Nagaitis, Joshua Hill, Jonah Russell, Sam Reid, Sean Harris, Harry Verity, Peter McNeil O’Connor, Babou Ceesay, James McArdle, Sam Hazeldine, Paul Anderson.

Note:  Imdb 7.2 out of 10, 97% critic 82% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 3*.
Special Note:  Filming was in Blackburn, Lancashire, Sheffield and Liverpool.  Jack O'Connell is from England and he's recently been in Unbroken and 300: Rise of an Empire.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Beautiful Kate 2009

fpo     This film is loosely adapted from a novel by Newton Thornburg titled Cutter’s Way.  Sally Kendall has asked her older brother Ned Kendall to come back to the family home.  Their father is dying and Sally thought Ned should return to say goodbye before it’s too late.  Ned is a writer, in his 40’s, he hasn’t been home in 20 years and he brings his waitress girlfriend Toni with him.  Ned starts remembering his sister Kate and the time when they were children and then teenagers. 
     There is a lot going on in this film but it’s very slow paced.  The main subject is the breakdown of a family and the struggles of those remaining.  The countryside is very beautiful, rugged and barren.  It is a bit of a slog to complete and I’m not sure it’s worth the time?  2 ½* (This movie is so-so)

90 min, Drama directed by Rachel Ward with Ben Mendelsohn, Maeve Dermody, Rachel Griffiths, Sophie Lowe, Josh McFarlane, Bryan Brown, Suzie Bavaci, Daniel Binks, Heloise Baker, Eve Burner.

Note:  Imdb 6.7 out of 10, 83% critic 64% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Amazon 4.1* out of 5* with 16 reviews.
Special Note:  This movie was filmed in the Flinders ranges of South Australia.  The director, Rachel Ward was in The Thorn Birds and Against All Odds.  She also wrote the script for this movie.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

A Walk Among the Tombstones 2014

fpo     This film is an adaptation of a novel by Lawrence Block featuring the character Matt Scudder.  The setting is New York between 1991 and 1999.  Matt used to be a cop but now he works as a private eye.  A drug dealer hires him to find the men who kidnapped and killed his wife.  He paid the ransom but they still killed her.  At first, Matt refuses the case until he learns how Carrie was killed.  He begins to investigate and he believes this kind of crime as been done by the same men before.  The women being kidnapped are linked to drug dealers.  Matt is ready to give up until a fourteen year-old girl is taken from her home.
     This is a harsh film because of the behavior of the kidnappers.  They target the dealers because they know they have money on hand.  They have no qualms about not living up to any type of bargain they have made with the relatives.   3* (This movie is OK)

114 min, Crime directed by Scott Frank with Liam Neeson, Dan Stevens, David Harbour, Maurice Compte, Patrick McDade, Laura Birn, Adam David Thompson, Boyd Holbrook, Dan Stevens, Eric Nelsen, Razane Jammal,

Note:  Imdb 6.5 out of 10, 65% critic 54% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 3 ½*.
Special Note:  This movie was filmed at various locations in New York City.  This is the second film with the character Matt Scudder.  Jeff Bridges played this role in the 1986 film 8 Million Ways to Die.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Underdog 2007

fpo     An ordinary beagle is a bomb-sniffer dog but he makes a mistake at the mayor’s office and he’s fired.  That night a mad scientist injects him with a strengthening elixir.  He can do a lot more things now than a regular dog and he easily escapes.  A former cop but now security guard finds him and takes him home for his son Jason.  Dan Unger has lost his wife and Jason has become very moody.  Dan is hoping Jason will bond with Shoeshine.  At first Jason doesn’t want a dog until he finds out what Shoeshine can do.  He can wreck the house in 5 minutes, squirt chili out of a can all over the place, dig to China, he can talk and he can fly.  How is that for a pet!!
     This is good and it’s very funny.  Underdog flies straight through the partitions in an office and he takes a big hero sandwich right out of a woman’s hand!  He becomes very popular after he begins saving people in distress.  3 ½* (I liked this movie)

84 min, Action directed by Frederik Du Chau with Peter Dinklage, James Belushi, John Slattery, Samantha Bee, Timothy Crowe, Larry Vigus.  The voices of Jason Lee, Amy Adams, Brad Garrett.

Note:  Imdb 4.8 out of 10, 14% critic 42% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Amazon 4.4* out of 5* with 152 reviews.
Special Note:  This movie was filmed in Providence, Rhode Island.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Duchess of Idaho 1950

[ DUCHESS OF IDAHO POSTER ]     Ellen Hallit is a secretary for her playboy boss, Douglas Morrison.  She’s too shy and timid to say anything to him about having a relationship with him.  Douglas has Ellen pretend to be his fiancĂ©e when his dates get too attached.  Christine Duncan is a roommate and friend of Ellen and she cooks up a plan to get Douglas to notice Ellen.  Douglas is going to Sun Valley, Idaho and Christine decides she will also go on the train.  She manages to meet Douglas but she also meets Dick Layne.  He is a bandleader with singers and instrumentalists also traveling to Sun Valley.  Christine and Dick begin to like each other but Christine still needs to play up to Douglas for Ellen?  A lot of complications begin between Christine, Douglas and Dick.
     Esther Williams performs in water ballets, she can ski and she can dance!!  She has a sense of humor and she can handle difficulties.  Everything seems like it is following a formula check off list for the screenplay.  Nice woman loves boss but he doesn’t notice her.  Girlfriend comes up with a plan.  Things start to go correctly but the plan messes everything up.  All this is thrown in with swimming, skiing, music, singing, dancing and a contest.  2 ½* (This movie is so-so)

98 min, Musical directed by Robert Z. Leonard with Esther Williams, Van Johnson, John Lund, Paula Raymond, Clinton Sundbery, Connie Haines, Mel Torme, Amanda Blake, Tommy Farrell, Sig Arno, Dick Simmons, Lena Horne, Eleanor Powell.

Note:  Imdb 6.3 out of 10, 60% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Amazon 4.5* out of 5* with 37 reviews.
Special Note:  Three musical numbers were deleted.  Eleanor Powell had not been in a film for six years and this was her last film appearance.  Lena Horne’s contract with MGM ended but she made later made several more appearances.

Monday, September 14, 2015

The Amazing Mrs. Holliday 1943

     Ruth Kirke traveled with her missionary parents to China when she was a young girl.  She grew up at the children’s orphanage her parents started and now she is running the place after the death of her parents.  World War II makes Ruth leave the area with nine orphans.  They make their way to a boat and the First Mate smuggles them on board.  He also helps her when they are sunk by a Japanese torpedo.  The Captain had agreed to help them when they arrived in America but he goes down with the ship along with one of the boys.  They encounter a lot of problems when they reach America because of paperwork.
     I thought it was unusual to have someone with Deanna’s singing talent singing in a movie with war and orphans?  Her lullabies to the children sound like opera singing?  This film is predictable but entertaining.  3* (This movie is OK)

96 min, Drama directed by Bruce Manning, Jean Renoir with Deanna Durbin, Edmond O’Brien, Barry Fitzgerald, Arthur Treacher, Harry Davenport, Grant Mitchell, Frieda Inescort, Elisabeth Risdon, Jonathan Hale.

Note:  Imdb 6.6 out of 10, 50% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Amazon 4.4* out of 5* with 33 reviews.
Special Note:  This is in black and white and was filmed at Universal Studios in California.  I wonder about the scenes in Asia?  Originally, Jean Renoir was directing but Universal wanted retakes and additional songs.  Even thought almost all of Renoir’s footage was used, he was not credited as the director.  Deanna Durbin gave up Hollywood after her first two marriages failed.  When she married her third husband, she wanted the “life of nobody!” She spent her remaining years in France living in a farmhouse outside of Paris.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Mr. Selfridge Season 3 2015

fpo     This season begins in 1919 and it is a year after WWI has ended.  Rose, Harry’s beloved wife, has passed away.  Rosalie Selfridge has married Serge De Bolotoff and the marriage includes a mother-in-law, Princess Marie from Russia.   Violette Selfridge has been seeing Victor Colleano at his club.  Harry Selfridge is working with Nancy Webb to build affordable housing for the returning soldiers and their families.  Kitty Hawkins has married Frank Edwards.  One of the soldiers returned from the war hits her and knocks her down on the street.  Lord Loxley has returned as a thorn in Harry’s side.
     I really like this series, it reminds me of Downton Abbey.  The characters are very real and you miss them when they move on to other endeavors.  There is a lot going on in this season.  4* ( I really liked this series)

8 episodes, 450 total minutes, TV series with Jeremy Piven, Amy Beth Hayes, Tom Goodman-Hill, Amanda Abbington, Samuel West, Malcolm Rennie, Kika Markham, Greg Austin.

Note:  72% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Amazon 4.8* out of 5* with 570 reviews.
Special Note:  The Episode titles for this Season are:  Harry Grieves for Rose, The New Homes Project, Bidding Against Lord Loxley, Agnes and Henri Leave Selfridges, Choosing a New Store Deputy, Harry Sells Stock, Harry’s Relationship Deepens with Nancy, Treaty of Versailles, Profits Increase, Conclusion.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

About Alex 2014

     A group of seven college twenty-something friends get together after they receive a call about Alex attempting suicide.  They want to be there to support him and also to be with him to make sure he doesn’t do this again.  Being together for a three-day weekend under the same roof causes them to fall back on their college behavior and also to tackle resentments, bad decisions and friendships. 
     Right away I thought about The Big Chill released in 1983 with a group of seven thirty-something friends meeting after a funeral.  The plot of a group of friends reuniting because of an event is a very common movie theme.  This group has been separated by geography and life moving forward as it does.  Also, the funeral in The Big Chill is for the character named Alex?  Since this plot has been done so many times, it’s easy to fall into being predictable.  How many variations on the same story can there be and still keep the audience guessing?  Sometimes I get tired of the plot theme of partners withholding important information from the other person and the constant arguing that always ensues!!  3* (This movie is OK) 

99 min, Drama directed by Jesse Zwick with Nate Parker, Jason Ritter, Maggie Grace, Max Greenfield, Aubrey Plaza, Max Minghella, Jane Levy, Adam Saunders, Rey Lucas.

Note:  Imdb 6.3 out of 10, 49% critic 43% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 2 ½*.
Special Note:  The Big Chill has Tom Berenger, Glenn Close, Jeff Goldblum, William Hurt, Kevin Kline, Mary Kay Place, Meg Tilly, JoBeth Williams.  7.2 out of 10 on Imdb.

Friday, September 11, 2015

The Sea of Grass 1947

Sea Of Grass     This film is based on a novel by Conrad Richter.  The setting is the Great Plains in 1880 and it continues 20-25 years later.  Lutie Cameron travels from St. Louis to New Mexico to marry cattleman Col. James B. ‘Jim’ Brewton.  They have had a short courtship and she learns that Jim is considered to be a tyrant in his hometown of Salt Fork, New Mexico.  He is very protective of the Sea of Grass where he grazes his cattle.  He doesn’t mind using force to keep homesteaders off the government owned land.  After they marry, Lutie persuades Jim to encourage Sam and Selina Hall along with their young daughter to file for land homestead near their property. 
     The country is tough and Jim Brewton is even tougher!!  Lutie tries to embrace both the land and Jim.  A lot of times they don’t see eye-to-eye on their views especially concerning the sea of grass.  Lutie and Jim change over time and so does the land.  Elia Kazan, the director, didn't like the finished film and he advised his friend not to watch it.  3 ½* (I liked this movie)  

123 min, Drama directed by Elia Kazan with Katharine Hepburn, Spencer Tracy, Robert Walker, Melvyn Douglas, Phyllis Thaxter, Edgar Buchanan, Harry Carey, Ruth Nelson, William ‘Bill’ Phillips, Robert Armstrong, James Bell.

Note:  Imdb 6.5 out of 10, 17% critic 34% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, TCM 2.5* out of 4*, Amazon 4.3* out of 5* with 42 reviews.
Special Note:  This is the fourth movie Hepburn and Tracy made together, it was the most popular commercially of all their films.  It was filmed in New Mexico, Nebraska, Arizona and California.  The Sea of Grass refers to a vast grazing empire that once covered the western part of North America from the Great Plains to the Rocky Mountains and beyond.