Thursday, March 31, 2016

Lila & Eve 2015

     Lila lives in Atlanta and she lost her oldest son Stephon to a drive-by shooting.  Unfortunately, he was in the wrong place at the wrong time.  Lila starts going to a mother’s support group and she meets Eve.  They form a bond and support each other because Eve has lost a daughter.  They decide they are not going to sit back and see the police do nothing.  Lila’s younger son brings home a gun and Lila gets together with Eve to find out who killed Sephon.  When the drug dealers draw their guns, Eve shoots them.  They take their cell phones so they can look up names of their clients in the contacts.  A police detective on the case starts to get suspicious when this type of shooting happens more than once.  Eve becomes even bolder but Lila starts to rethink their actions.
     This is a Lifetime movie so I need to take that into consideration in my review.  I’m not expecting rocket science and I’m not getting it.  It is nice to see some justice handed out.  Normally it would be business as usual with nothing changing.  There is a slight twist near the ending.  3 ½* (I liked this movie)

94 min, Drama directed by Charles Stone III with Jennifer Lopez, Viola Davis, Aml Ameen, Andre Royo, Shea Whigham, Chris Chalk, Will Brittain, Michole Briana White, Julius Tenon, Yolonda Ross, Rey Hernandez.

Note:  Imdb 5.7 out of 10, 34% critic 41% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 1*.
Special Note:  Davis and Lopez also acted together in the 1998 Out of Sight.  Filmed in Atlanta, Georgia.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Life Inside Out 2013

     Laura and her sister Lydia took over their mother’s ice cream shop when she passed away.  It wasn’t what they wanted for their lives but they needed to do this for their father until the shop could be sold.  Laura starts playing the guitar she used to love but hadn’t thought of in years.  Lydia starts selling scrap booking supplies at home parties.  Laura’s teenage son Shane, starts getting interested in the guitar, writing songs and singing too.  Lydia and Shane go to the city together for open mike nights. Laura starts putting pressure on Lydia because she's not involved enough with the home parties.  Lydia doesn't like scrap booking or the home parties.
     This film is a combination of searching in life both in middle age and as a teenager.  Looking for what you really want to do with your life as you are getting older and as you are on your way to becoming an adult.  Laura has pressure from her husband and her sister.  Shane has peer pressure too from his two brothers.  3 ½* (I liked this movie)  

102 min, Drama directed by Jill D’Agenica with Maggie Baird, Finneas O’Connell, Lori Nasso, David Cowgill, William Dennis Hunt, Roscoe Brandon, Orson Ossman, Patrick O’Connell, Joe Hart Goh Nakamura.

Note:  Imdb 6.2 out of 10, 63% critic 88% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Amazon 4.6* out of 5* with 58 reviews.
Special Note:  Filmed in Los Angeles, California.  Maggie Baird's real life son is Finneas O'Connell.  They actually wrote the songs their characters sing for this film.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

The Longest Ride 2015

    This film is based on a novel by Nicholas Sparks.  Luke is a champion bull rider and he’s been hurt before so he really shouldn’t be riding bulls.  Sophia is a college student coaxed by her friends to go to a riding completion.  She picks up Luke’s hat in the bullring and returns it to him but he says she can keep it.  They go on a date and they both have a very good time.  They see a car is on fire and has hit a road barrier.  They save an elderly man and a box of his letters from the car.  They take him to the nearest hospital and Sophia continues to visit him at his home after he is released.  Sophia and Luke try to make their relationship work but she doesn’t want him to be hurt again in the ring.  He can’t see any other life other than riding the bulls?
     Of course there is a lot of angst in this film because it’s by Nicholas Sparks!!  All the men are very handsome and all the women are very beautiful.  They all have perfect faces and hair plus there cannot one hair out of place.  Even the landscape needs to be very beautiful too!!  There cannot be any run down shacks or cars.  This film is just slightly entertaining but very predictable.  2 ½* (This movie is so-so)

128 min, Drama directed by George Tillman Jr. with Scott Eastwood, Britt Robertson, Alan Alda, Jack Huston, Oona Chaplin, Melissa Benoist, Lolita Davidovich, Elea Oberon, Kate Forbes, Tiago Riana, Danny Vinson.

Note:  Imdb 7.1 out of 10, 30% critic 71% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 1 ½*, Amazon 4.5* out of 5* with 2541 reviews.
Special Note:  Filmed in Winston-Salem, Wilmington, Jacksonville and Caswell Beach, North Carolina.  Scott Eastwood is the son of Clint Eastwood, Jack Huston is the grandson of John Huston and Oona Chaplin is the granddaughter of Charlie Chaplin.

Monday, March 28, 2016

My Blueberry Nights 2007

     Jeremy is running a diner in New York.  A lot of people come and go, relationships work and they don’t.  Many of the customers leave keys behind in a jar because they want to move on from their boyfriend or girlfriend.  They don’t know what else to do with the keys and there is a chance they might change their minds?  Elizabeth’s heart is broken and she leaves her keys.  She needs someone to talk to so she talks to Jeremy.  She picks blueberry pie and ice cream as a heart soother because it is the one entire pie left behind at the end of the night.  People make choices and a lot of times they don't choose the blueberry as a choice.  Elizabeth leaves New York and starts working two jobs in Memphis because she has trouble sleeping plus she is trying to save for a car.  She leaves Memphis after one of the regulars dies because he was trying to get over his broken heart.  She takes a job at a casino in Nevada.  She stakes Leslie in a poker game for a chance to take over Leslie’s Jaguar if she loses the money in the game.
     This is the first film role for Norah Jones.  There is really not very much going on in this movie.  There are relationships working or not working and people going through the motions of life.  A woman afraid to move on, a man unable to move on, a con artist working her the people she cons.  I liked the desserts the best of all!!  3* (This movie is OK)

95 min, Drama directed by Kar Wai Wong with Norah Jones, Jude Law, Natalie Portman, Rachel Weisz, Frankie Faison, David Strathairn, Adriane Lenox. Benjamin Kanes.

Note:  Imdb 6.7 out of 10, 47% critic 61% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 2 ½*, Amazon 3.6* out of 5* with 66 reviews.
Special Note:  This movie was filmed in New York City, Memphis Tennessee, McGill, Caliente and Ely Nevada, Las Vegas Nevada and Los Angeles, California.  The name of the café in New York is Kyuch which is key in Russian. 

Sunday, March 27, 2016

My Brilliant Career 1979

     This movie is based on a novel by Miles Franklin based on the time she was a teenage girl and first published in 1901.  The setting is the Australian outback just before the turn of the 20th century.  Sybylla Melvyn is the daughter of a poor farmer but she wants something more for her life.  Her mother tells her they can’t afford to provide for her and she’s found a position for Sybylla as a home servant.  Sybylla wants nothing to do with type of a life!!  The plans change and she is sent to live with her grandmother instead.  This household gets a surprise when she arrives since Sybylla has a difficult time being conventional.  She is worried about being shackled in marriage but cautioned that to be a free spirit is to be lonely.  She falls in love with wealthy landowner Harry Beecham but she asks him to wait on marriage for two years.  She wants to discover what more is out there for her life.
     I thought this film was interesting both because of the personality of Sybylla and also because of living during this period in the countryside of New South Wales.  I also liked the clothing, hairstyles and rules of society during this time.  I like Davis and Neill as actors and films from Australia.  3 ½* (I liked this movie)

100 min, Drama directed by Gillian Armstrong with Judy Davis, Sam Neill, Wendy Hughes, Robert Grubb, Max Cullen, Aileen Britton, Peter Whitford, Patricia Kennedy, Alan Hopgood, Julia Blake, David Franklin, Marion Shad.

Note:  Imdb 7.4 out of 10, 81% critic 67% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Amazon 4.3* out of 5* with 47 reviews.
Special Note:  Filmed in Camden Park House, Menangle and Monaro region, New South Wales, Australia.  The director, producers, scriptwriter, first billed actor, production designer, costume designer, production supervisor, bookkeeper and accountant were all women.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Slow West 2015

     The setting of this film is the American frontier of the 19th Century.  Jay Cavendish sets out on a solo trip across the Great Plains to find Rose Ross, she is the love of his life.  He’s just sixteen years old but he’s risking death to find her.  Along the way he encounters a mysterious traveler.  Silas Selleck offers to guide him for $50 now and $50 when they arrive at the location where Rose is now.  What Jay doesn’t know is that Silas is a bounty hunter and he’s on the trail of Rose and her father for the reward money.
     There are a lot of details that stretch reality but I didn’t seem to be paying attention to any of them during watching this movie?  Jay is Scottish, pale as a sheet and he doesn’t have a hat?  The names listed on the wanted posters?  Robert E. Lee is included, why would he be wanted?  Right away, Silas kills a man, does that mean he could be a good guy that will help you?  Why does Silas give Jay a shave with a Bowie knife?  Wouldn’t Jay be a little nervous about getting his throat cut?  Does he even have any whiskers that would need a shave?  Rose is 27 years old, does it matter that she is 11 years older than Jay?  Wouldn’t 27 versus 16 make a difference in a relationship?  A lot of questions without answers!!   3* (This movie is OK)

84 min, Action directed by John Maclean with Kodi Smit-McPhee, Michael Fassbender, Ben Mendelsohn, Caren Pistoriius, Edwin Wright, Andrew Robertt, Brian Sergent, Karl Willetts.

Note:  Imdb 7.0 out of 10, 92% critic 75% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 1 ½*.
Special Note:  John Maclean, the director is a Scottish musician.  I wondered about the meaning of the title?  Is it a take on ‘go west?’  This movie was filmed in New Zealand. 

Friday, March 25, 2016

The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel 2015

     In the first Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, Sonny realizes his dream of a hotel in India.  Now he is trying to expand to a second hotel with the help of an American investor.  These hotels are for the elderly and beautiful people but he has only one room left at the current hotel.  All the regular residents are full time guests and some have local jobs.  Muriel, one of the residents, accompanied Sonny to America to meet with the investors and she is also the new co-manager of the hotel.
     I thought the first film was better than this sequel.  It has many of the original characters and begins eight to nine months after where the first film ended.  There are a lot of misunderstandings, lack of communication and hurt feelings.  I didn’t feel this way about the first film but this one seems to have too much Bollywood and gives an unreal image of India?  3* (This movie is OK) 

122 min, Comedy directed by John Madden with Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, Bill Nighy, Celia Imrie, Ronald Pickup, Diana Hardcastle, Dev Patel, Tina Desai, Richard Gere, Fiona Mollison, Shazad Latif, Subhrajyoti Barat.

Note:  Imdb 6.6 out of 10, 63% critic 60% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 1 ½*, Amazon 4.0* out of 5* with 2481 reviews.
Special Note:  Filmed at the Pearl Palace Heritage Guesthouse, Jaipur India, Almeria Spain and London England UK.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

After Words 2015

    Jane is a librarian in Los Angeles and she is having a mid-life crisis.  The library where she works is being closed due to budget cuts.  She decides she will escape to Costa Rica for a vacation.  She is really planning on taking a lot of pills while she is there and never returning to LA.  She meets Juan, he is a younger man, he likes to entertain women and that is how he makes a living.  Anna is his daughter and he is sending her to a private school.  He’s behind in his tuition payments and the administrator reminds him that this cannot continue.  He gives Jane a tour of the park and he visits her later at her hotel.  He explains he needs $500 and she decides to give him the money.  He says cannot accept her gift and he only agrees to take the money after giving her tours worth that amount.  She can afford to give him the money because she is planning on not needing money anymore.
     Marcia Gay Harden brings her introverted and shy character to life.  She has depression and loneliness.  She lives an isolated life surrounded by a huge city of people.  Juan is definitely not a person she would normally feel comfortable around.  He gets in her space and pushes her to try and do things out of her boxed in comfort zone.  He starts to bring her out of her very small constricted shell.  4* (I really liked this movie)

91 min, Drama directed by Juan Feldman with Marcia Gay Harden, Oscar Jaenada, Jenna Ortega, Ron Canada, Jackie Torres, Mauricio Astorga.

Note:  Imdb 6.3 out of 10, 38% critic 57% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Amazon 4.1* out of 5* with 93 reviews.
Special Note:  Oscar Jaenada was also in Pirates of the Caribbean: On Strange Tides.  The scenery, animals and plants of the area are beautiful.  This film was in the theater on 8/21/15 and released on DVD 10/13/15, I didn’t see any advertising about it?

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Cinderella 2015

     Ella is very happy in her childhood with her parents.  She see everything more clearly and better than in reality.  Unfortunately, her mother dies but her father is very good to her and she misses him during his travels for work.  Things change when her father marries a widow with two daughters.  It’s OK while her father is alive but he becomes sick on one of his trips and he dies too.  Her stepmother begins to change and Ella starts living in the attic so the stepsisters can have her bigger room to share.  All the household help is let go to save on money and the tasks are left to Ella.  There is an announcement that a fabulous ball will be held at the castle for the Prince to choose a bride.  Everyone is excited and getting ready but Ella is forbidden to go by her stepmother.
     I liked the characters with animation, the mice, lizards and a goose changed into people for the pumpkin coach.  The mice are cute and they live in the attic with Cinderella.  She tries to follow the advice her mother told her before she died, “Have courage and be kind.”  I also liked the over-the-top dresses and hairstyles.  The glass slippers are beautiful too.  3 ½* (I liked this movie)

105 min, Drama directed by Kenneth Branagh with Lily James, Cate Blanchett, Richard Madden, Helena Bonham Carter, Nonso Anozie, Stellan Skarsgard, Sophie McShera, Holiday Grainger, Derek Jacobi, Ben Chaplin.

Note:  Imdb 7.1 out of 10, 84% critic 78% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 3*.
Special Note:  This is Disney’s first live-action version of its 1950 animated classic.  This movie was filmed in London, Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire, England, UK.  Lily James was in Downton Abbey as Lady Rose MacClare and she lived at Downton after her parents divorced until she married.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Two Days, One Night 2014

     Manu and Sandra Bya are married and they have two children.  Manu has a job in a restaurant kitchen.  Sandra works at a solar panel factory but she has been hospitalized and on medical leave from her job for depression.  Her supervisor, M. Dumont decides that her section can get along without her.  The work can support sixteen people with a little overtime instead of seventeen people and no overtime.  The company can also save money by paying annual bonuses of 1000 Euros to sixteen people and not seventeen.  Sandra finds out the news from Juliette, her friend and also her co-worker.  There was a show of hands vote on Friday with the result 13-3 for the bonus option and elimination of Sandra’s job.  Juliette knows the section supervisor Jean-Marc is in favor of letting Sandra go and he put pressure on the employees to choose the bonus plan.
     The news about her job problems does not help Sandra with her depression and she starts back on her medication.  She can’t stop crying all the time and this was her original problem.  He husband encourages her to personally visit all the workers and ask them to forgo the bonus so she can keep her job.  It seems like this would be boring with Sandra asking all the workers the same question but she gets different attitudes and responses from each one.  3 ½* (I liked this movie)

95 min, Drama directed by Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne with Marion Cotillard, Fabrizio Rongione, Catherine Salee, Batiste Sornin, Pili Groyne, Simon Caudry, Lara Persain, Alain Eloy, Myriem Akeddiou.

Note:  Imdb 7.4 out of 10, 97% critic 77% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 2 ½*.
Special Note:  This movie was filmed in Seraing and Liege, Wallonia, Belgium.  Marion Cotillard was nominated for an Oscar for Best Actress and she received a 15-minute standing ovation at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival.  Marion has little or no makeup, she wears her hair in a ponytail and has only casual clothing.

Monday, March 21, 2016

My Neighbors the Yamadas 1999

     The Yamadas are a middle class Japanese family living in urban Tokyo.  There are nine animated episodes about their lives.  This film is based on a popular comic strip in Japan.  The stories are about their daily lives including Takashi and Matsuko, the parents.  Shige, Matsuko’s mother and grandmother to Noboru, a son aged 13 and Nonoko, a daughter aged 5.  They also have the family dog, Pochi and he has his own doghouse in the yard.  Nonoko is accidently left behind at the mall and the family races back to get her.  There are stories about the relationships between the parents, the children and the addition of a grandmother.  There are arguments over control of the television and the remote. 
     This family is relatable because they seem like any family with the same joy, problems, misunderstandings and circumstances.  They love each other and care about each other too.  The parents want to do the best they can for the children.  The parents and grandmother worry about aging also.  3 ½* (I liked this movie)

104 min, Animation directed by Isao Takahata with the voices of James Belushi, Molly Shannon, Daryl Sabara, Liliana Mumy, Tress MacNeille, David Ogden Stiers.

Note:  Imdb 7.3 out of 10, 75% critic 76% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Amazon 4.3* out of 5* with 76 reviews.
Special Note:  This is the first film from Studio Ghibli to be 100% digital.  It is also different because there is not a continuing storyline but short vignettes.  The comic strips are by written Hisaichi Ishii and are published with four panels. 

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Love Field 1992

     Lurene Hallett is a housewife living in Dallas.  She goes to Love Field on November 22, 1963 and this is the airport where President and Mrs. Kennedy arrive to drive through Dallas in an open convertible.  Lurene has been living vicariously through Mrs. Kennedy and this has helped her to recover from the loss of her daughter.  Ray is her husband and he doesn’t understand any of this and he’s not going to the airport.  After the death of President Kennedy, Lurene leaves a note for Ray and she takes a Greyhound bus to go to the funeral in Washington DC.  She meets Paul Cater and his five-year-old daughter Jonell.  In the beginning, she is friendly to Paul and Jonell.  She finds out later that Paul has taken his daughter from an orphanage because she was not being treated well and he wants to have custody of her.  Jonell's mother has passed away and that is why Jonell was in the orphanage.  The dull housewife days of Lurene are left behind on this bus trip.  
     Lurene deals with her own reality by changing her viewpoint to that of John and Jackie Kennedy.  She doesn’t realize how much this bus trip is going to change her life.  She just wants to be there for this historic event and emotionally support Jackie, even if it is from a distance.  3 ½* (I liked this movie)

102 min, Drama directed by Jonathan Kaplan with Michelle Pfeiffer, Dennis Haysbert, Stehpanie McFadden, Brian Kerwin, Lousie Latham, Peggy Rea, Beth Grant, Johnny Ray McGhee, Cooper Huckabee, Troy Evans.

Note:  Imdb 6.7 out of 10, 36% critic 57% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Amazon 4.5* out of 5* with 22 reviews.
Special Note:  This movie was filmed in Wilson and Rocky Mount, North Carolina, Richmond, Virginia and California.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Life as a House 2001

     George Monroe has lived alone for ten years in a run down shack on the Southern California coast.  All the other homes in this area could be called estates but not the one George and his dog live in.  His dog has a ‘bad’ habit of peeing on the car, newspaper and yard of one of the neighbors.  The plumbing is out and George uses the ocean.  George has worked building scale models of architectural projects for the same firm for twenty-five years.  Everything is moving to computers and George is let go.  He learns he has advanced cancer and he decides he will finally build the house he has always wanted to live in.  He wants his rebellious sixteen-year-old son Sam to help him and he wants to try to change Sam’s life.
     Building the house changes more than Sam’s life, it changes George, Sam’s mother, her husband, her younger children, the neighbors and other people in Sam’s life.  I thought it was interesting and good how the project expands and it rises into a new house from a shack.  3 ½* (I liked this movie) 

125 min, Drama directed by Irwin Winkler with Kevin Kline, Kristin Scott Thomas, Hayden Christensen, Jena Malone, Mary Steenburgen, Ian Somerhalder, Jamey Sheridan, Scott Bakula.

Note:  Imdb 7.5 out of 10, 47% critic 88% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 2 ½*, Amazon 4.6* out of 5* with 484 reviews.
Special Note:  Filmed in Long Beach, Los Angeles, Malibu, Palos Verdes, Santa Catalina Island, California and Bermuda.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Man Hunt 1941

     Captain Alan Thorndike is a big game hunter vacationing in Bavaria.  He goes out into the woods and he has Adolf Hitler in his gun sight.  He plans to see if it would be possible to shoot him but he intends not to pull the trigger.  He is captured by Nazi troops, beaten and left for dead in the woods.  He escapes and goes back to London as a stowaway on a Danish steamer.  In London, German agents hound him but a woman,  Jerry Stokes tries to help him.  Alan wants his attorney to arrange for Jerry to receive money after he leaves London but she refuses.
     I wondered how Thorndike could think he could get this close to Hitler without being discovered and captured?  He endangers himself and also those he meets after he escapes.  I wonder if the outcome was worth this adventure?  3* (This movie is OK)

105 min, Drama directed by Fritz Lang with Walter Pidgeon, Joan Bennett, George Sanders, John Carradine, Roddy McDowall, Ludwig Stossel, Heather Thatcher.

Note:  Imdb 7.4 out of 10, 90% critic 75% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Amazon 3.9* out of 5* with 77 reviews.
Special Note:  The director, Fritz Lang fled Germany to Paris in 1933 rather than accept an offer from Joseph Goebbels to make Nazi propaganda films.  The next year he came to America.  This is the first film out of four that Joan Bennett made with Lang.  She also made The Woman in the Window and Scarlet Street.  She partnered with Lang in company Diana Productions for those films.

A Brilliant Young Mind 2014

     Nathan Ellis has difficulty connecting with other people and any changes in his life.  His father was killed in a car accident when he was nine years old and this has left a large gap in his life.  His mother, Julie Ellis tries very hard but she doesn’t understand the math that comes easy to him.  He is more comfortable with numbers and a teacher Mr. Humphreys agrees to take Nathan on as a math pupil.  Nathan wins a place on the UK team to attend the International Mathematics Olympiad.  He goes with a group of sixteen other math whizzes from England to Taipei for a summer camp.  In Taipei, he will work with Chinese math students so both groups can hone their skills.  Only six students will be selected from each country to attend the Olympiad so the stakes are high.  Nathan has trouble interacting with the other students and Taipei is sensory overload for his system.
     When Nathan goes to the summer camp, you really wonder how he is going to set aside his food needing to be prime numbers and at certain meal times.  He starts studying the language on the plane and he’s as good at this as he is at math.  Nathan finds it hard to believe that other students do not bully the math teens in Taipei because they are ‘different?’  This film is an interesting study in material that has been covered in other films about excelling in one field but dealing with problematic social maturity issues.  3 ½* (I liked this movie)

111 min, Drama directed by Morgan Matthews with Asa Butterfield, Rafe Spall, Sally Hawkins, Eddie Marsan, Jo Yang, Martin McCann, Jake Davies, Alex Lawther, Alexa Davies, Orion Lee.

Note:  Imdb 7.2 out of 10, 86% critic 80% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 1 ½*, Amazon 4.0* out of 5* with 39 reviews.
Special Note:  Filmed in Sheffield, South Yorkshire, England; Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, England and Taiwan.  This film is based on Daniel Lightwing and his story as a mathematician.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

The 39 Steps 2008

     The setting of this film is 1914 just prior to World War I and it is based on a 1915 novel by John Buchan.  Richard Hannay is a mining engineer on a holiday from his work in the African colonies.  Richard finds London to be terribly dull and he spends a lot of evenings out all night.  After one of his nights out, he returns home to his flat and immediately there is a knock on the door from his upstairs neighbor Scudder.  Richard complains that he is tired but Scudder tells him he is a British spy and there are three German spies in the building who want to kill him.  Scudder entrusts Richard with his notebook written in a Roman numeral code.  The Germans thrust themselves into the flat and Scudder is immediately shot to death.  Richard is believed to be the murder and he leaves London right away by train.  Richard starts trying to solve the complicated code in the notebook.
     The scenery in Scotland is very beautiful.  I liked the clothing, hairstyles, cars and manners of this period.  There is a biplane and a submarine included in the action.  It’s difficult to tell with the plot 
twists and turns who are the British spies and who are the German spies. 3 1/2* (I liked this movie)

90 min, Crime directed by James Hawes with Rupert Penry-Jones, Lydia Leonard, David Haig, Patrick Malahide, Patrick Kennedy, Eddie Marsan, Alex Jennings, Steven Elder, Werner Daehn, Peter Stark, Del Synnott, Roger De Courcey, David Gallacher.

Note:  Imdb 6.4 out of 10, Rotten Tomatoes 42% audience, Amazon 4.1* out of 5* with 565 reviews.
Special Note:  Filmed in various locations in Scotland.  There are six other versions of this film released in 1935, 1959, 1978, 2003, 2010 and one in development.  Some story elements were added not included in the original novel.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Focus 2015

     Nicky Spurgeon is a liar and a cheater for a living.  He meets Jess, she is amateur con artist and he starts to train her to do a much better job as a pickpocket.  Nicky allows Jess to join the large team he has put together in New Orleans for a football championship game.  The team makes 1.2 million from wallets, credit cards, watches and jewelry.  Nicky has tickets at the Superdome and he gets into a gambling contest using the 1.2 million that belongs to all the team.  Jess is shocked and devastated that Nicky seems to be on his way to losing it all to a high roller.  Nicky and Jess go their separate ways and they don’t see each other until three years later in Buenos Aires.
     There are many times in this film you don’t know if Nicky if lying or is it Jess who is lying?  How is this going to play out and who is going to come out on top is the question?  Has Nicky changed his ways and has Jess left crime behind too but in a different way?  A take of 1.2 million is nothing to sneeze at!!  3 ½* (I liked this movie)

105 min, Crime directed by Glenn Ficarra, John Requa with Will Smith, Margot Robbie, Adrian Martinez, Gerald McRaney, Rodrigo Santoro, B.D. Wong, Brennan Brown, Robert Taylor, Dotan Bonen, Griff Furst.

Note:  Imdb 6.6 out of 10, 56% critic 53% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 3*.
Special Note:  This movie was filmed in Buenos Aires, Argentina, New Orleans, Louisiana, Las Vegas, Nevada and New York City.  The directors also worked on Crazy Stupid Love.  Another plot element is this film is based on the true story of the McLaren F1 team fined $100,000,000 for possession of the Ferrari team software and design documents.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Jack Strong 2014

     This film is based on the true story of a man spying for the United States in the Soviet Union between 1972 and 1981.  Polish army colonel Ryszard Kuklinski is involved in planning the maneuvers of the Warsaw Pact military forces.  He has access to top-secret information and documents.  The Americans are planning a nuclear counterattack in Poland and he works with the CIA to prevent this attack on his home country.  As soon as he begins down this path he and his family members are in constant danger of torture and death.
     When the Soviets realize there is a mole at the top of their organization, there is a big push to find out who is informing.  It becomes very intense when Ryszard sends an urgent message to the CIA that he and his family must be removed from danger.  His wife and two sons have no idea he is a spy.  3 ½* (I liked this movie)

128 min, Action directed by Wladlyslaw Pasikowski with Marcin Dorocinski, Maja Ostaszewska, Patrick Wilson, Dimitri Bilov, Dagmara Dominczyk, Oleg Maslennikov, Krzysztof Pieczynski, Miroslaw Baka.

Note:  Imdb 7.2 out of 10, 77% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Amazon 4.3* out of 5* with 54 reviews.
Special Note:  This movie was filmed in Warsaw, Legnica, Gdanski, Poland, Moscow, Russia and Washington DC.  Patrick Wilson is married to Dagmara Dominczyk, she plays the role of CIA Operative Sue in this film and they have two children.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

The Last Picture Show 1971

     This film takes place in the tiny town of Anarene, Texas during the 1950’s.  It’s the lull period between WWI and the Korean Conflict.  Sonny and Duane are best friends and they pass their time with movies, football and girls.  Sonny has been seeing Charlene for a year but they break up on their anniversary.  The breakup is probably just due to boredom with each other.  Duane is seeing Jacey, she’s the most popular and richest girl in town.  All the guys think the one who marries her will be set for life.  The town is slowly changing and so are the people.  Some head for the larger cities and some just want to graduate from high school.
     This time period is when it was inexpensive to go see a movie and before television brought in-the-home entertainment.  There isn’t much to do in Anarene, there is the theater, the pool hall and the all-night café.  This film feels like it was actually shot in 1951 instead of 1971.  All the actors are young and it’s interesting to see them at this stage of their lives.  3 ½* (I liked this movie)

118 min, Drama directed by Peter Bogdanovich with Timothy Bottoms, Jeff Bridges, Cybill Shepherd, Ben Johnson, Cloris Leachman, Ellen Burstyn, Eileen Brennan, Clu Gulager, Sam Bottoms, Sharon Ullrick, Randy Quaid, Joe Heathcock, Bill Thurman, Barc Doyle, Jessie Lee Fulton.

Note:  Imdb 8.1 out of 10, 100% critic 90% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 4*, Amazon 4.5* out of 5* with 258 reviews.
Special Note:  Filmed in Archer City, Olney and Wichita Falls, Texas.  This film is ranked as #95 on the listing of Greatest Movie of All Time.  Ben Johnson won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor and his role is 9 minutes and 54 seconds.  It's the shortest performance to ever win an Academy Award.  There is a goof too when Lois Farrow makes a telephone call, she dials a 7 digit number but in 1951 it would've been a 5 digit number.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Fire From Below 2009

     A mining company owned by Andrew Stevens has a dig operation going in a cave.  They discover a vein of pure base lithium and an explosion brings it to the surface.  All the men working the dig are killed and the Lithium becomes combustible whenever it comes into contact with water.  Jake Denning and his fiancé Toni Nelson are both seismologists traveling through the area and they discover a body at the lake.  The military is called in and about 200 bodies are found at a town near the lake.  Two of Jake’s team members and a military sergeant are pulled into a part of the mine when the ground collapses under them.  Jake needs to blow up the source of the lithium and also find the three missing people underground.
     Usually movies with Kevin Sorbo are much better than this one?  A lot of the special effects are good but the dialogue is terrible!  This must be a TV movie with very low budget and there is a constant and ever-present false sense of extreme urgency at all times.  Of course, there is the potential for the lithium to form a nuclear bomb!!  If this is viewed more as a comedy, it’s easier to watch!!  2* (I didn’t like this movie)

89 min, Adventure directed by Andrew Stevens, Jim Wynorski with Kevin Sorbo, GiGi Erneta, Maeghan Albach, Alex Meneses, Glen Morshower, James Hampton, Alex Cord.

Note:  Imdb 2.6 out of 10, 19% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Amazon 2.9* out of 5* with 90 reviews.
Special Note:  Filmed in Eustace and Dallas Texas and Marengo, Indiana.  There are goofs in this film too.  The equipment used by the US Army is obsolete or no longer used.  A piece of wood was supposedly charred on the underside by flames in the lake water but the nearby posts don't show any damage?

Friday, March 11, 2016

Sally Lockhart Mystery: The Shadow in the North 2008

     This movie is based on a novel by Philip Pullman and it is a sequel to The Ruby in the Smoke taking place six years later.  It’s unusual for a woman to be working as a financial consultant in Victorian England of 1878 but Sally Lockhart has her own business.  One of her clients lost money in a company called the Anglo-Baltic and Sally had advised her this was a good investment.  Sally stands behind her advice and this case calls for an investigation.  Sally joins forces with her detective friends Fred and Jim to solve the mystery of why this company had two ships sink and one impounded. 
     Sally Lockhart doesn’t buckle under intimidation.  When she asks for the money to pay back her client, she doesn’t take no for an answer and she preservers.  This is like a modern mystery with the Victorian setting.  3 ½* (I liked this movie)
94 min, Adventure directed by John Alexander with Billie Piper, JJ Field, Julian Rhind-Tutt, John Standing, Lyndsey Marshal, Dona Croll, Matt Smith, Jared Harris, David Harewood, Hayley Atwell.

Note:  Imdb 6.5 out of 10, 50% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Amazon 4.0* out of 5* with 20 reviews.

Special Note:  Filmed in Kent and London, England, UK.  Jared Harris had the role of Lane Pryce in the Mad Men TV Series from 2009-2012.  His job at the advertising agency was to manage company revenues and control costs.  In this film, his character is the former owner of the Anglo-Baltic Company.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

What If..... 2010

     Ben Walker has just received a bonus in his career as a financial expert.  He’s asked Cynthia to marry him and they are leaving for Paris in the evening.  He buys a new expensive Mercedes and it breaks down on the road?  A tow truck comes by and picks up his car.  Instead of waiting to have his car repaired, he’s taken to an alternate reality.  This is the life he would’ve had if he had not left his college sweetheart fifteen years ago.  Now his life is being married to Wendy and they have two daughters.
     This film has plot lines similar to It’s a Wonderful Life and The Family Man.  Ben is mystified and he doesn’t know how to fit in as a father instead of a business whiz.  He makes a lot of mistakes but Wendy doesn’t give up on him.  I thought this was interesting with relatable characters and story.  3 ½* (I liked this movie)   

111 min, Drama directed by Dallas Jenkins with Kevin Sorbo, Kristy Swanson, John Ratzenberger, Debby Ryan, Kristin Minter, Toni Trucks, Taylor Groothuis, Stelio Savante, Kevin Yon, Tom McElroy, Grant James.

Note:  Imdb 6.6 out of 10, 40% critic 66% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Amazon 4.7* out of 5* with 454 reviews.
Special Note:  Filmed in Grand Rapids, Manistee and Ludington, Michigan.  The story is supposed to take place over 23 years but some of the characters don't seem to age at all?  I would like to be one of those characters!!

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Switch 1991

     Steve Brooks works at a New York advertising agency.  He is a man’s man and he’s macho.  He has three ex-girlfriends that are very unhappy about the way Steve treated them.  The three women invite him to a party and what he doesn’t know is that they plan to kill him.  He’s having a good time until they hold him underwater in the hot tub.  They think he’s dead but he comes up out of the water.  One of the women shoots him three times in the chest.  When he goes to the pearly gates, he is given a choice between heaven and hell.  If he wants to go to heaven, he will have to convince one woman to love him.  But, he will be sent back as a woman!!
     Steve has a hard time figuring out women’s clothing and he can’t walk very well in high heels.  He claims to be Steve’s sister Amanda.  She gets hired at his agency and she’s doing a better job than Steve ever did.  He’s having a rough time finding any female on earth that even likes him?  This film is interesting, different and in the style of Victor/Victoria, a woman playing a man playing a woman also directed by Blake Edwards.  3* (This movie is OK)

103 min, Comedy directed by Blake Edwards with Ellen Barkin, Jimmy Smits, JoBeth Williams, Lorraine Bracco, Tony Roberts, Perry King, Bruce Payne, Lysette Anthony, Victoria Mahoney, Basil Hoffman, Catherine Keener, Tia Leoni.

Note:  Imdb 5.7 out of 10, 33% critic 45% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 2 ½*.
Special Note:  Filmed in Santa Clarita, California and New York City, New York. This the first film role for Tia Leoni and she plays Dream Girl.