Sunday, January 31, 2016

The Finest Hours 2016

     This film is based on a true story and a 2009 novel written by Casey Sherman and Michael J. Tougias of events that happened in February of 1952.  One of the worst storms to ever hit the East Coast in New England occurred on this date.  Two oil tankers off the East Coast were torn in half.  These ships were constructed during WWII and they were built quickly to get them into the war.  The winds and the waves were so strong that the welds gave way just forward of the engines.  Off the coast of Cape Cod, a small lifeboat was sent out with four members of the Coast Guard.  Another larger lifeboat was sent to rescue the crew on the second tanker.  There was a dangerous shoal the smaller boat had to cross before they could get to open water.  Thirty-two sailors were on the tanker they were trying to reach.  The temperatures were frigid with snow falling in the town and the waves were 70 feet high.
     This is a very tense movie with action every minute as soon as the lifeboat sets out to sea.  You don’t know if the tanker is going to stay afloat long enough for the rescue.  You also don’t now if the lifeboat is going to be able to cross the shoal.  Another problem is how will they bring 32 men back on the small lifeboat.  One good thing is the lifeboat is self-stabilizing and it will be able to right itself.  Everything seems to be happening in real time and a real situation.  4 ½* (I loved this movie:

117 min, Action directed by Craig Gillespie with Chris Pine, Casey Affleck, Ben Foster, Eric Bana, Holliday Grainger, John Ortiz, Kyle Gallner, John Magaro, Graham McTavish, Michael Raymond-James, Beau Knapp.

Note:  Imdb 7.1 out of 10, 59% critic 71% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Screen Rant 2.5* out of 5* (fairly good).
Special Note:  Filmed in the Boston area of Quincy, Chatham, Cohasset, Marshfield, Fore River Shipyard, and Norwell, Massachusetts.  The original lifeboat, the CG36500, Special Note:  Filmed in the Boston area of Quincy, Chatham, Cohasset, Marshfield, Fore River Shipyard, and Norwell, Massachusetts.  The original lifeboat, the CG36500, is maintained in perfect condition at Rock Harbor in Orleans, Massachusetts. 

Saturday, January 30, 2016

The Best and the Brightest 2010

     Sam and Jeff have moved from Delaware with their daughter Beatrice to New York.  Jeff has taken a job working with computers and Sam is working on enrolling five-year-old Beatrice in private school.  Sam learns many mothers register their children prior to being born!  There is a LOT of competition, Sam wants to give up until she meets Sue.  She is a woman who can help her enroll Beatrice in a private school for a price.  Sue tells the headmistress that Jeff is a renowned poet and his book is being published.  None of this true and they have to keep up this lie if they want to be one of the chosen!!
     This film has a good premise but it tries very hard to be in the rated R category.  I think the film would’ve done better in reviews with a more clean-cut story considering the subject of the story.  It becomes so muddied and off-track that you just want to turn it off rather than wait for the ending.  2 ½* (This movie is so-so)

93 min, Comedy directed by Josh Shelov with Neil Patrick Harris, Amelia Talbot, Bonnie Somerville, Nina Hodoruk, Michael Elian, Suzanne Savory, Jennie Grace, Cornelia, Brea Bee, Jenna Stern, Kelly Coffield Park.

Note:  Imdb 5.0 out of 10, 26% critic 31% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Amazon 4.3* out of 5* with 18 reviews.
Special Note:  Filmed in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Live and Let Die 1973

     Three British agents have been mysteriously killed, one in New York, one in New Orleans and another on a Caribbean island.  James Bond begins in New York to investigate and he starts to track Mr. Big.  He is a self-producing heroin supplier and he plans to flood the Western Hemisphere market with free heroin in order to attract more addicts for future business.  This venture will also put other heroin dealers out of the business.  Working for Mr. Big is Tee Hee with a metal claw for one hand, Baron Samedi is a voodoo master and Solitaire reads tarot cards. 
     This is the ninth Bond film and the first with Roger Moore in the lead.  It is also the second film to show where Bond lives.  Dr. No also had scenes of the Bond residence.  Roger Moore received this role because he used to gamble at least once a week with Cubby Broccoli and Harry Saltzman.  They invited him to see Dr. No starring Sean Connery.  Moore doesn’t like heights, guns or explosions but this is acting after all.  I thought this was interesting and good except for Tee Hee.  You can tell his arm with the metal claw is longer than his other arm.  It seems they could done a better job to make them the same length?  3 ½* (I liked this movie)

121 min, Action directed by Guy Hamilton with Roger Moore, Yaphet Kotto, Jane Seymour, Clifton James, Julius Harris, Geoffrey Holder, David Hedison, Gloria Hendry, Bernard Lee, Lois Maxwell, Tommy Lane.

Note:  Imdb 6.8 out of 10, 66% critic 65% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 2 ½*, Amazon 4* out of 5* with 402 reviews.
Special Note:  Paul, Linda McCartney and Wings sing the title song.  This movie was filmed in Jamaica, New York, Louisiana and England.  Jane Seymour was 22 at the time of filming.  Roger Moore was also in the TV series The Saint as Simon Templar.  His Bond films are The Man with the Golden Gun, The Spy Who Loved Me, Moonraker, For Your Eyes Only, Octopussy and A View to a Kill from 1973 to 1985.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Time Out of Mind 2014

     George was sleeping in the bathtub of a woman’s apartment but she’s been evicted and that means George can’t continue to be there.  For a few days he finds it difficult to find a place to sleep.  He tries a bench and he tries sleeping at a hospital but he can only stay there if the temperature is below 32 degrees.  He buys a metro ticket so he can ride all night but it’s too loud.  He learns about Bellevue Hospital and it’s in Manhattan.  There is an intake center for homeless men.  George almost loses a change to get a bed because he doesn’t want to answer the intake questions.  He will need to be seen by a psychiatrist later too.  George is an alcoholic and he can’t go very long without a drink.
     This film is very realistic and you feel like you are living the homeless life right along with George.  Someone on the street gave George some leftover pizza while they were filming because he really seemed like just another homeless person.  Personally, I really hope that I never need to live this life for myself.  Alcoholism has a grip on George and he will go without a coat in the winter to get beer.  3 1/2* (I liked this movie.

120 min, Drama directed by Oren Moverman with Richard Gere, Ben Vereen, Jena Malone, Steve Buscemi, Jeremy Strong, Kyra Sedgwick, Michael Buscemi, Aku Orraca-Tetteh, Anna Suzuki, Dov Tiefenbach, Danielle Brooks, Abigail Savage.

Note:  Imdb 5.7 out of 10, 74% critic 46% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 3 1/2*.
Special Note:  This movie was filmed in New York City, New York.  Twenty people walked out of the screening for this film at the Toronto International Film Festival.  Danielle Brooks and Abigail Savage are also in this film and they worked together on the series Orange is the New Black.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Bravetown 2015

     The original title of this film was Strings.  Josh is living with his mother in New York and he works at a dance club doing the deejay job.  One of his friends gives him a pill and it sends him to the emergency room for stomach pumping.  Josh has been in trouble before and the judge sentences him to mandatory counseling and he’s to live with his father.  Josh’s mother takes him to the bus depot and he’s off onto another life in North Dakota.  Josh is a total loner and he wants to stay that way until he sees how awful the school dance team can be.  He does some mixing for them and they have their first win in a competition. 
     When Josh was living in New York, I thought he was much older at the dance club.  I was surprised when he showed up at high school to register.  This town is different because a lot of the men have signed up to go to wars and they haven’t come back.  Most of their relatives don’t want to talk about it and no one goes to the cemetery except Josh on his way home.  I didn’t know this was a dance film with completions like Stomp the Yard and Step Up. 3* (This movie is OK)

112 min, Drama directed by Daniel Duran with Josh Duhamel, Kherington Payne, Maria Bello, Laura Dern, Lucas Till, Tom Everett Scott, Katrina Norman, Jae Head, Megan Trainer, Sharlene Taule, Ali Tataryn.

Note:  Imdb 6.1 out of 10, 20% critic 54% audience, Roger Ebert 2 ½*, Amazon 3.8* out of 5* with 87 reviews.
Special Note:  This movie was filmed in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

How About You 2007

     Kate Harris is running a rural residential home for elderly people.  Ellie, her sister gets a degree and she comes to work at the home.  Kate learns their mother is sick and she goes to stay with her.  That leaves Ellie in charge of Donald, Georgia and two sisters, Heather and Hazel.  The other residents have gone to be with their families for Christmas.  This group is called The Hard Core and they are impossible to live with.  They have discouraged new residents from coming to live here and the home faces closure.
     Donald calls early in the morning for his breakfast, Georgia demands martinis made a certain way and with olives, the two sisters are feuding and not speaking to each other.  Georgia disappears and is found singing in a local pub.  Ellie wants to run away to but she has to stay for her sister.  This is interesting and The Hard Core people are funny except for how they treat Kate.  They are determined to live to the hilt as long as they have left.  3* (This movie is OK)

87 min, Comedy directed by Anthony Byrne with Vanessa Redgrave, Joss Ackland, Hayley Atwell, Oria Brady. Kevin Flood, Brenda Fricker, Imelda Staunton, Paschal Friel, Darragh Kelly, Doreen Keogh.

Note:  Imdb 6.9 out of 10, 67% critic 53% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Amazon 4.1* out of 5* with 200 reviews.
Special Note:  This movie was filmed in Northern Ireland.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl 2015

     Greg is seventeen-years old and he doesn’t have any friends except Earl.  Greg doesn’t want to admit that Earl is a real friend that he’s had since childhood? They make unusual movies together and they wonder why they are still making them?  Greg’s mother tells him that Rachel from his school has leukemia.  She wants Greg to visit with Rachel and he doesn’t want to.  He forces himself to go but then he keeps going.  Greg and Earl make a movie for Rachel as a tribute.
     There were times I didn’t think there was enough to this film to keep watching?  I have a problem with the ending too because of a promise made much earlier in the film?  The reviews show that there is ambiguousness within critics too.  Like or hate?  2* (I didn’t like this movie)

105 min, Comedy directed by Alfonso Gomez-Rejon with Thomas Mann, RJ Byler, Olivia Cooke, Nick Offerman, Connie Britton, Molly Shannon.

Note:  Imdb 7.8 out of 10, 83% critic 87% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 1 ½*.  This film won the Audience Award and the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance.
Special Note:  This movie was filmed in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Paper Towns 2015

     This film is adapted from a novel by John Green.  Quentin lives next door to Margo in Orlando, Florida.  They were friends as they grew up but are not close now that they are in high school.  One night, Margo climbs through the window into Quentin’s room.  She suggests he come along for a night of adventure.  Margo has just found out her boyfriend has been cheating on her with her best friend.  Her other best friend has not told her this is going on.  They stop off at a hardware store to get some supplies.  Quentin makes an anonymous phone call to Becca’s house and a naked Jase runs out of the house.  He disappointed he won't be able to drive his car because someone has placed a lojack on his steering wheel.  Quentin and Becca go inside and leave a dead catfish in the basement.  They visit Lacey’s house and wrap her car with plastic wrap.  At Chuck Parson’s house they use hair removal cream to remove one of his eyebrows.
     Margo goes missing after their pranks but she’s done this before and her parents don’t want to contact the police because they think she’s just bored.  Quentin starts to follow clues she’s left behind and he enlists his pals to help him.  This is probably a lot better if you fit into the age category?  I just didn’t find this all that interesting and should teens be given a blueprint for harassment of their friends or classmates?  A lot of things happen that would cause parents to contact the police or at least stop their spree??  2 ½* (This movie is OK)

109 min, Drama directed by Jake Schreier with Nat Wolff, Cara Delevingne, Austin Abrams, Justice Smith, Halson Sage, Jaz Sinclair, Cara Buono, Josiah Cerio, Hannah Alligood, Meg Crosbie, Griffin Freeman, Caitlin Carver.

Note:  Imdb 6.5 out of 10, 56% critic 50% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Amazon 3.3* out of 5* with 260 reviews, Roger Ebert 3*.
Special Note:  This movie was filmed in Concord, Denver, Mooresville, North Carolina, Orlando, Florida and Los Angeles, California.  John Green also wrote The Fault in our Stars.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Call the Midwife: Season Four 2015

     This series is based on the memoirs of Jennifer Worth.  In this new season, Sister Evangelina has health problems and the vicar Tom proposes to Trixie.  A family is living in squalor with a ten-year-old in charge.  Sister Evangelina goes on sick leave and a new midwife arrives.  Dysentery spreads through the area and Trixie organizes the Rose of Poplar contest.  Sister Mary Cynthia returns to Nonnatus House.  Phyllis is helping a young pregnant diabetic woman. Two school friends surprisingly rediscover each other in the delivery room.  Trixie and Sister Mary Cynitha help a woman who uses sign language.  During the Christmas season, a measles outbreak occurs.
     I really like this series and especially because realistic actors are used in the roles.  This isn’t a group of models delivering babies in couture gowns.  The situations are interesting and a lot of times complicated.  This is not an easy life for the sisters or the midwives.  4* (I really liked this series)

60 min, TV Series, Drama created by Heidi Thomas with Vanessa Redgrave, Helen George, Jenny Agutter, Laura Main, Judy Parfitt, Cliff Parisi, Stephen McGann, Pam Ferris, Bryony Hannah, Ben Caplan, Victoria Yeates, Emeral Fennell, Miranda Hart, Max Macmillan.

Note:  Imdb 8.4 out of 10, 100% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Amazon 4.8* out of 5* with 508 reviews.
Special Note:  This series is filmed in Kent, Surrey and London, England, UK.  Nonnatus House is named after St. Raymond Nonnatus and Nonnatus is the Latin word for not born.  He was born by Cesarean section and is the patron saint of pregnant women and childbirth.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Diamonds are Forever 1971

     The mission for Bond is to find out who has been smuggling diamonds out of the mining countries.  The catch is that the miners are inspected for any stolen diamonds and the diamonds disappear after they are out of the country.  Bond takes on the identity of Peter Franks and he kills Franks in an elevator before Franks can expose the switch.  Bond as Franks joins up with Tiffany Case and pretends he is smuggling the diamonds.  There are also other forces out there interested in the diamonds.  An example is Mr. Wint and Mr. Kidd, they are extremely dangerous and they don’t hesitate to kill.  Bond's ultimate enemy Ernst Stavro Blofeld has changed his looks but he could be involved? 
     One of the interesting things about Sean Connery as the character Bond is that he never seems to be disturbed by what is happening to him?  In this film, he is inside a locked coffin and the coffin has been moved into the crematorium with the flames burning at their highest level?  Wouldn't that be slightly disconcerting and I wondered how he could possibly accomplish an escape?  He flips a Mustang onto two wheels to go through a narrow space while evading police cars?  The plot in this film is very complicated with a lot of characters, some of the plot lines and the individuals are difficult to keep in line?  Jill St. John is very beautiful and she is 31 years old at the time of filming.  3* (This movie is OK)

120 min, Action directed by Guy Hamilton with Sean Connery, Jill St. John, Charles Gray, Lana Wood, Jimmy Dean, Bruce Cabot, Putter Smith, Bruce Glover, Norman Burton, Joseph Furst, Bernard Lee, Desmond Llewelyn.

Note:  Imdb 6.7 out of 10, 67% critic 59% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 3*.
Special Note:  This movie was filmed in France, Germany, Netherlands, England, Nevada, California and Illinois.  Some of the scenes were shot at the Landmark casino and it has been demolished.  

Thursday, January 21, 2016

License to Kill 1989

     Felix Leiter is a good friend of James Bond.  Drug baron Franz Sanchez leaves Leiter in a near death state and Leiter's new bride is killed.  Bond sets off on a manhunt for Sanchez and not everyone in the British Secret Service is happy with this mission.  MI6 feels Sanchez is not their problem and they remove Bond’s license to kill.  The result is that Bond is even more dangerous without the constraints and oversight of MI6.  Bond persuades a friend of Sanchez, Pam Bouvier to help him sneak into the drug factories owned by Sanchez.  The question is, will Bond be able to keep his identity and intentions a secret from Sanchez.
     It was nice to have a different actor in the role of Bond for a fresh perspective.  There is a LOT of action in this film and some action in the final scenes is spectacular.  The plot doesn’t seem to have as many twists and turns with a straightforward approach instead.  Pam Bouvier has a lot of talents including either carrying a big gun or at least two on her person plus she can fly a plane.  3 ½* (I liked this movie)

133 min, Action directed by John Glen with Timothy Dalton, Robert Davi, Carey Lowell, Talisa Soto, Anthony Zerbe, Frank McRae, David Hedison, Wayne Newton, Benicio Del Toro, Anthony Starke, Everett McGill, Grand L. Bush.

Note:  Imdb 6.6 out of 10, 77% critic 60% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Amazon 4.2* out of 5* with 409 reviews, Roger Ebert 3 ½*.
Special Note:  This movie was filmed in England, Mexico and Florida.  Robert Davi and Grand L. Bush are reunited one year after they were FBI agents Big Johnson and Little Johnson in Die Hard of 1988.  The special edition provides widescreen picture, clearer sound and special features.  Carey Lowell was married to Richard Gere for ten years but they are now separated.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Dark Places 2015

     This movie is based on a novel by Gillian Flynn, the writer of Gone Girl.  Libby Day is eight years old and she lives with her family on a farm in rural Kansas.  The farm has been in her family for a long time and she lives there with her mother Patty, brother Ben and sisters Michelle, Debby and Magda.  Runner is their dad and he comes around when he needs money.  The family is struggling and Patty’s sister helps them out by bringing food.  Ben is starting to get into trouble with his girlfriend Diondra.  Diondra and her friend Trey are into drugs.  Ben is accused of a crime and Patty believes they will need to get a lawyer for him.  She doesn’t know where she will get the money and even without the expense of a lawyer she may lose the farm.
      Even though Gone Girl was very popular, I have to say that the novel and the movie were not my favorites?  There was potential to make this movie a good one but that didn’t happen.  I’m surprised that Theron, Hendricks and Moretz took roles and I see why Morton probably dropped out at the last minute.  Maybe they thought this film would be as successful as Gone Girl?  Theron is supposed to be a sympathetic character but she seems more like a loser?  The subject is very depressing and it doesn’t get better?  2* (I didn’t like this movie)

113 min, Drama directed by Gilles Paquet-Brenner with Charlize Theron, Nicholas Hoult, Christina Hendricks, Sterling Jerins, Corey Stoll, Tye Sheridan, Andrea Roth, Chole Grace Moretz, Sean Bridgers, J. LaRose.

Note:  Imdb 6.2 out of 10, 25% critic 35% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 1 ½*.
Special Note:  This movie was filmed in Shreveport, Louisiana.  Originally, Samantha Morton was cast as Patty Day but she dropped out just before the start of filming.  There is another movie with the same title but a different subject, it was released in 1977 and it has 0% on Rotten Tomatoes!

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Goldfinger 1964

     The mission for Bond is to become friends with Auric Goldfinger.  The purpose of the friendship is to learn what scheme Auric is working on.  Bond discovers the plan is to raid Fort Knox and devastate the world economy.  Goldfinger likes gold and he would like to have a LOT of it.  Bond will need to dodge Oddjob and his hat tricks, the many henchmen Auric has hired plus pilot Pussy Galore.
     This film is not as exciting and memorable as I thought it was on my first viewing ages ago.  I thought it was super fantastic about a woman being painted with gold paint but now not so much.   I thought Auric Goldfinger was frightening but he seems tamer now.  3* (This movie is OK)

110 min, Action directed by Guy Hamilton with Sean Connery, Gert Frobe, Honor Blackman, Shirley Eaton, Tania Mallet, Harold Dakata, Bernard Lee.
Note:  Imdb 7.8 out of 10, 96% critic 89% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Amazon 4.7* out of 5* with 651 reviews.

Special Note:  This movie was filmed in Florida, Kentucky, Washington DC, Switzerland and England.  The Goldfinger song by Shirley Bassey was the first Bond title song to rise to #8 on the Billboard Top 10 in 2/1965.  I really liked the Aston-Martin DB5 sports car and it’s destructive wheel pop outs like gladiator chariots.

Monday, January 18, 2016

The First Season 2012

     This film chronicles their first year dairy farming in upstate New York for Paul and Phyllis van Amburg.  The family has three children plus a baby on the way.  The farm they purchased is a no longer functioning dairy farm.  They will need to make some modifications before they can start their milk collection and sale.  Paul and Phyllis believe farm life is the best way to raise their children and also leave a lasting legacy for them.  This is not an easy life with always another job left to do.         
      Paul and Phyllis have a lot of debt and their only source of income is selling the milk at the current price.  A lot of variables affect the quantity of milk they can produce including heat and rainfall numbers.  There can be sickness among the cows or their offspring too.  There is a lot of hard work but it is a good life for families.  3 ½* ( I liked this movie)
83 min, Doc directed by Rudd Simmons with Paul and Phyllis van Amburg.
Note:  Imdb 7.4 out of 10, Amazon 3.7* out of 5* with 9 reviews.

Special Note:  Rudd Simmons produced High Fidelity, The Royal Tennenbaums and Boardwalk Empire.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

You Only Live Twice 1967

     This film is the fifth in the Bond series.  The Americans believe the Russians have taken an American space capsule aboard their own spaceship.  This action nearly causes the start of World War 3.  The British are mediating between America and Russia and they think SPECTRE is involved because the ship was lost over Japan.  Bond is sent to find out what happened to the ship and the motives of those involved.  Time is of the essence because of the current verbal hostilities between the America and the Russians.
     The scenes of the spaceship doing the capturing don't seem real?  The unknown spaceship seems more like a shark with unusual jaws?  The volcano set was a large expense but it’s not that great either.  I thought the disguise of the volcano where it’s located was interesting.  This film must have seemed to be cutting edge technology in 1967?  3* (This movie is OK) 

117 min, Action directed by Lewis Gilbert with Sean Connery, Akiko Wakabayashi, Mie Hama, Tetsuro Tanba, Teru Shimada, Karin Dor, Donald Pleasence, Bernard Lee, Lois Maxwell. Desmond Llewelyn, Charles Gray.

Note:  Imdb 6.9 out of 10, 72% critic 69% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Amazon 4.3* out of 5* with 416 reviews.
Special Note:  This movie was filmed in Japan, Spain, Bermuda, Gibraltar, China, Norway, England, Scotland and Florida.  As one of the screenwriters, Roald Dahl was able to do everything his own way except for the character of Bond and the Bond girl formula.  Nancy Sinatra sings the theme song.  Ken Adams created the volcano set and the cost was 1 million dollars.  Different versions were used in The Spy Who Loved Me and Moonraker.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Friends for Life

     Jim Crawford was an attorney with a busy practice in the city.  Pam, his wife became ill, they moved to the country and he quit his practice.  They hoped Pam would be able to heal but she passed away.  Jim doesn’t know what to do with this life now.  The house is big, empty and everything reminds him of her.  Pam had been feeding a wolf as one of her projects and he ignores her when she comes for food.  Then he finds blood in the backyard and he goes to search for her.  He finds she has been shot and she has four pups.  He doesn’t have a choice, he’s seen enough dying, he takes the pups home.  He has a barn where he can keep them contained inside and he puts up a wire fence outside of the barn.  When they have grown enough to want to be out on their own, he reluctantly releases them back to the forest.  Soon after, he learns his neighbors are having trouble with a company building a golf course nearby.  It’s time to be an attorney again but with an office in a downtown cafĂ©.
     The wolf cubs repay Jim later in a big way for his care and kindness.  He finds a purpose in life and learns he will always have Pam in his heart but just not here with him.  I thought this film was good and interesting.  3 ½* (I liked this movie)

92 min, Drama directed by Michael Spence with Michael Flynn, Jimmy Chunga, Tayva Patch, David Nibley, Tim Shoemaker, Emily Moffat, Bruce Akerman.

Note:  Imdb 6.6 out of 10, Amazon 4.3* out of 5*.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Saratoga Trunk 1945

     This movie is based on a novel published in 1941 by Edna Ferber and Stuart M. Rosen about the romantic era of 1875 New Orleans.  Clio Dulaine has been living in Paris until the death of her mother.  Clio travels to her mother’s hometown of New Orleans.  She plans to reopen her mother’s French Quarter house, clean and restore everything there.  She also plans to seek revenge for the humiliation her mother received from her father’s family.  She wants to marry a rich man because she wants the status and respectability never provided for her mother.  She has her maid/companion Angelique with her and Cupidon is her jack-of-all-trades.  She meets Colonel Clint Maroon and she starts to really like him but he doesn’t fit her qualifications.  He’s from Texas and he’s not wealthy.  She follows him to Saratoga Springs to seek her millionaire there.
     This is a different time period filled with traditions and social requirements.  Step out of the norm and you can become an outcast.  A woman on her own doesn’t have any status but she has a everything when she’s married to a wealthy man.  Clio needs to think about her mother, her father’s family, Angelique and Cupidon too.  What she does with her life matters to them.  3 ½* (I liked this movie)

135 min, Drama directed by Sam Wood with Gary Cooper, Ingrid Bergman, Flora Robson, Jerry Austin, John Warburton, Florence Bates, Curt Bois.

Note:  Imdb 6.6 out of 10, 58% critic on Rotten Tomatoes, Amazon 4.5* out of 5* with 58 reviews, TCM Leonard Maltin 1.5* out of 4*, average user rating 4.17* out of 5*.
Special Note:  Warner Bros. wanted Lena Horne from MGM for the role of Clio but the studio refused to loan her to them for the role. 

Thursday, January 14, 2016

When Marnie Was There 2014

     This film is based on a novel by Joan G. Robinson.  Anna is 12 years old, she has closed herself off from people and she hates herself.  She feels very bad because she is a foster child and her foster parents receive money to take care of her.  This makes her feel like they really don’t want her and only take care of her to receive the money.  Her foster parents decide to send her away from Sapporo to the country for the summer school break.  Anna has asthma and they feel the clean air will be good for her condition.  A change of scenery and change of people in her life might help her too.  She goes to live with a couple that are relatives of her foster mother and they live by the sea in the quiet town of Hokkaido.  A run-down mansion beside a salt marsh begins to fascinate Anna.  She gets to know the girl who lives there, Marnie and they become best friends.
     I really liked everything about this film, the animation, the story, the setting and the characters.  You can see that Anna is really struggling at home and at school.  Other teens sometimes tease her because she has blue eyes.  Anna doesn’t know anyone from her biological family.  The relatives, Setsu and Kiyomasa Oiwa don’t put any pressure on Anna and she is able to relax.  4 ½* (I really liked this movie)

103 min, Animation directed by Hiromasa Yonebayashi with the voices of Ava Acres, Kyle Arem, Laura Bailey, Kathy Bates, Erick Bauza, Bob Bergen, Taylor Autumn Bertman, Mila Brener, Ellen Burstyn Geena Davis.

Note:  Imdb 7.8 out of 10, 89% critic 88% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Amazon 4.7* out of 5* with 115 reviews.
Special Note:  This is the second film by Yonebayashi, he also made The Secret World of Arrietty.  After finishing this film, Studio Ghibli took their longest break from filmmaking.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

I'll See You in My Dreams 2015

     Carol has her best friends Georgina, Sally and Rona.  She also has a daughter Katherine.  Carol does a lot of activities with her friends and they would like her to move into the retirement home where they live.  She doesn’t want to move, she enjoys her home and she has a good life.  Her fourteen-year-old dog becomes ill and she feels numb after he passes.  She has trouble with a rat in the house, she sleeps outside on the patio and she meets her pool cleaner Lloyd.  They go to a bar for karaoke and he falls asleep on her couch.  Rona stops by in the morning and thinks there is a lot more going on?  Carol meets Bill, they go out on his boat, out to dinner and they start to like each other.
     This is a very pleasant movie and some of the scenes are very funny.  Carol goes to her first speed-dating event with interesting and quick conversations.  Her friends still know how to get into trouble too.  3 ½* (I liked this movie)

92 min, Drama directed by Brett Haley with Blythe Danner, Martin Starr, Sam Elliott, June Squibb, Rhea Perlman, Mary Kay Place, Martin Starr.

Note:  Imdb 6.7 out of 10, 92% critic 69% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 3 ½*. 
Special Note:  Brett Haley makes a cameo appearance as one of the first karaoke singers.  Blythe Danner is 71 years old and she has TV and film listings of over 100 titles.

The Bouquet 2013

     Bonnie and Cecil Benton own a flower shop.  Bonnie doesn’t know that the business is not making a profit because Cecil makes up fake orders for local nursing homes and other places.  He hopes the arrangements they send will generate real orders but that has not happed so far.  Bonnie is hoping her daughters Mandy and Terri will come home for Easter but both say they are too busy.  The Benton’s have invited the local Reverend to have dinner at their home for the holiday.  Suddenly, Cecil collapses and he passes away.  That event does get Mandy and Terri to come home.  Reverend John tells the family what Cecil has been doing.  Bonnie is devastated but Terri is a businesswoman and she has a plan.
     Mandy and Terri have been in competition with each other ever since they were small girls.  That doesn’t stop now with this business on the line.  Mandy feels pushed out of the way and Terri thinks all her ideas are the best.  I liked this movie and the story is good with Bonnie very depressed but Mandy, Terri and another local Sam are working hard.  3 ½* (I liked this movie)

99 min, Drama directed by Anne Wheeler with Kristy Swanson, Danny Glover, Alberta Mayne, Michael Shanks, Nicola Cavendish, Jeremy Guilbaut, Stepehn E. Miller, Daniel Bacon, Andrea Kelly Konno.

Note:  Imdb 5.9 out of 10, 46% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Amazon 4.4* out of 5* with 81 reviews.

From Russia with Love 1963

     This is the second James Bond film adapted from a novel by Ian Fleming.  The Russians have a decoding machine known as Lektor.  James Bond is sent to search for this machine to obtain it for Britain before SPECTRE is able to acquire it first.  Bond becomes romantically involved with a Russian woman, Tatiana Romanova.  SPECTRE has sent an agent to eliminate Bond before he can obtain Lektor.  Donald ‘Red’ Grand and an ex-KGB agent Rosa Klebb are determined to stop Bond from getting Lektor first.
     I thought Dr. No was better than this film.  Dr. No seems to have a steadier and more believable plot.  Ursula Andress as the Bond girl is more attractive than Daniela Bianchi as well, in my opinion.  A lot of new standards are set in this film that continue on in the future films.  This is the first appearance of Q as a character.  Q stands for Quatermaster in the same way that M is a job title rather than a name.  He is head of Q Branch or Q Divison in the research and development section of the British Secret Service.  Q briefs Bond on the latest gadgets engineered for his latest mission.  Q would like at least some of the devices returned in at least reusable condition but this does not always happen much to his distress!!

115 min, Action directed by Terence Young with Sean Connery, Robert Shaw, Lotte Lenya, Daniela Bianchi, Pedro Armendariz, Bernard Lee, Eunice Gayson, Walter Gotell, Francis De Wolff, George Pastell, Nadja Regin.

Note:  Imdb 7.5 out of 10, 96% critic 83% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Amazon 4.6* out of 5* with 465 reviews.
Special Note:  This movie was filmed in Turkey, Scotland, Wales, England, Italy and Spain.  Broccoli thought this was one of the best Ian Fleming stories.  This film also started the beginning array of gadgets used in the Bond films.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Woman in Gold 2015

     During WWII the Nazis went into Jewish homes and apartments to loot them of valuables.  It didn’t matter to the Germans that the people were still living there at the time.  Art pieces, jewelry, musical instruments and anything else of value were taken.  Maria Altman is encouraged by her friend’s attorney son Randy Schoenberg to try to get the valuable Mona Lisa of Austria returned to her.  It is a painting of her aunt Adele Bloch-Bauer by Gustav Klimt.  It has been sixty years since Maria and her husband barely escaped from Vienna.  There is a lot of opposition from Austria and the Belvedere Museum.  The Museum believes they have a right to the painting because they have it now in their gallery. 
     I didn’t know what this movie was about before I started to watch.  This has a similar theme to The Monuments Men but much more personalized.  Helen Mirren makes Maria come alive on the screen including her Austrian accent.  She also looks different with her dark hair.  3 ½* (I liked this movie)

109 min, Drama directed by Simon Curtis with Helen Mirren, Ryan Reynolds, Daniel Bruhl, Katie Holmes, Tatiana Maslany, Max Irons, Charles Dance, Antje Traue, Elizabeth McGovern, Johnathan Pryce.

Note:  Imdb 7.3 out of 10, 54% critic 80% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 2 ½*, Amazon 4.7* out of 5* with 3286 reviews.
Special Note:  Tatiana Maslany plays the role of Maria Altmann as a young woman.  She stars as the multiple clones on the series Orphan Black.  This movie was filmed in West Sussex and West Kensington England UK, Vienna Austria, Encino, Culver City, San Fernando Valley and Beverly Hills, California.