Saturday, April 30, 2016

Miles Ahead 2015

     On September 5, 1975 Miles Davis retired from music and retreated to his Upper West Side apartment.  He was able to live for six years because of a special financial retainer issued by Columbia Records.  He was supposed to working on music for them and he received $20,000 a month in the mail.  Dave Braden, a reporter came to see him from Rolling Stone hoping to get an interview.  The reporter took Miles to Columbia so he could complain about his check not coming that month.  There are flashbacks showing the career of Miles up to his retirement and his marriage to Frances Taylor.
     Miles is messed up, he doesn’t want to do anything about it and he doesn’t want to acknowledge it.  He had his glory days but now he’s just old.  No one knows if he still has what it takes to play the trumpet or write music?  Columbia is hoping that he can get himself back together but they may have to give up.  Nothing is sugarcoated about his life.  3 1/2* (I liked this movie)

100 Min, Bio directed by Don Cheadle with Emayatzy Corinealdi, Ewan McGregor, Don Cheadle, Michael Stuhlbarg, Austin Lyon, Nina Smilow, Christina Karis, Morgan Wolk, Chris Hahn, Theron Brown.

Note:  Imdb 7.2 out of 10, 72% critic 75% audience on Rotten Tomatoes,
Special Note:  Filmed in Cincinnati, Ohio.  Zoe Saldana was originally cast as Frances Taylor but she dropped out.  Dave Braden, the Rolling Stone reporter is a fictional character.

Friday, April 29, 2016

You're Not You 2014

     Kate and her husband Evan have a lot of friends, they are happy couple and they have a nice life.  Kate is a classical pianist and she has just received a diagnosis of ALS.  Within about 18 months, she needs someone to come to her house to help her with everyday tasks.  The woman she has hired makes her feel like a victim and she doesn’t like that feeling.  She interviews Bec but Evan doesn’t think she’s right for the job.  Kate thinks Bec will listen to her when she talks and not make her feel bad about what little she can do for herself.  They get off to a rocky start but then they have a wonderful and honest relationship.  Kate and Evan’s marriage hits a rocky patch and Kate really relies on Bec for everything.  When ALS starts in increase in Kate’s life, she wants Bec to decide what will happen to her and not her family.
     Both Swank and Rossum give very good performances in their roles.  It’s very difficult not to have a tear or two during the last quarter of the movie.  You want Kate to get better but ALS doesn’t work that way in most cases.  You want her to try every new treatment out there to extend her time here.  3 ½* (I liked this movie)
102 min, Drama directed by George C. Wolfe with Hilary Swank, Emmy Rossum, Josh Duhamel, Stephanie Beatriz, Jason Ritter, Julian McMahon, Ali Larter, Andrea Savage, Gerald Downey, Mike Doyle, Loretta Devine.
Note:  Imdb 7.4 out of 10, 44% critic 70% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Amazon 4.4* out of 5* with 216 reviews.
Special Note:  Filmed in Houston, Texas and Los Angeles, California.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Heartburn 1986

     Nora Ephron bases this film on her autobiographical novel and it’s about the breakup of her marriage to Carl Bernstein.  Rachel is a food writer living in New York and she writes for a magazine.  She meets Marks at a wedding and he is a Washington DC political columnist.  They start dating and they fall in love.  They have a small wedding at her father's apartment and Rachel is really worried about getting married.  She stays in the bedroom for a long time.  They buy a very rundown house in DC and they have trouble with the contractors.  Rachel and Mark have their daughter Annie and Rachel thinks their life is perfect.  Rachel is going to have their second baby and she finds out that Mark has been seeing another woman.
     You wonder all along Rachel how this marriage is going to turn out because she is marrying Jack Nicholson in the film.  Jack doesn’t have a very good track record in films or real life!!  I didn’t know this was autobiographical but I did know it was based on Ephron’s novel.  3 ½* (I liked this movie)

108 min, Comedy/Drama directed by Mike Nichols, written by Nora Ephron with Meryl Streep, Jack Nicholson, Jeff Daniels, Maureen Stapleton, Stockard Channing, Richard Masur, Catherine O-Hara, Steven Hill, Milos Forman, Mamie Gummer, Karen Akers, Aida Linares.

Note:  Imdb 6.0 out of 10, 47% critic 47% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 2*, Amazon 3.4* out of 5* with 494 reviews.
Special Note:  Filmed in New York City and Alexandria, Virginia.  Meryl Streep’s real daughter Mamie Gummer plays Rachel’s first child Annie.  Meryl had the credits list her as Natalie Stern because she didn’t want photographs of her child publicized and she was just 18 months old during filming.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Blues for Willadean 2012

     LaSonia and Willy live next door to each other in a Texas trailer park.  They are best friends and they get together in Willy’s trailer every day.  Willy is married to JD and he’s a blue-collar truck driver with an abusive nature.  He stops by the neighborhood bar every night after work to have 4-5 beers.  Then he goes home to Willy.  He expects fresh bread and dinner on the table as soon as he goes into the trailer.  Any little thing can set him off and everything that goes wrong is Willy’s fault.  JD is upset that they are not having steak, they are not having cherry dump cake and that is his favorite dessert.  He throws the tuna casserole dish across the kitchen.   When he finds out the TV is not working, this means he needs to hit Willy.  He tells her she needs to pay to get it fixed but she doesn’t work because he doesn’t want her to.  He doesn’t give her enough household money to cover the food costs, buy steak every night and a TV repair.
     There were so many times I wanted to beat up my TV because it would be like beating up JD!!  LaSonia can hear JD and Willy when they fight but she’s too scared of JD to go over to their trailer.  JD doesn’t even want LaSonia in his trailer at all and at any time!!  There aren't very many answers to Willy's problem!!  3* (This movie is OK)

113 min, Drama directed by Del Shores with Beth Grant, Octavia Spencer, Dale Dickey, David Steen, Debby Holiday.

Note:  Imdb 7.7 out of 10, 77% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Amazon 4.9* out of 5* with 40 reviews.
Special Note:  Filmed in Atlanta, Georgia.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Sunshine Superman 2014

     Carl Boenish started a company promoting the BASE-jumping movement.  He was passionate about skydiving and this interest leads him to even more dangerous foot-launched flights.  Originally he was an engineer at Hughes Aircraft with a regular job.  He started taking leaves of absences in order to film skydiving and cliff jumping.  His first film was his 1978 leap from Yosemite’s El Capitan.  He met Jean, they married and she also became a jumper.  They started wearing cameras on their helmets to film their actual jumps.  Carl and Jean made a record jump at Norway’s Troll Wall in 1984.  Now jumpers wear wing suits when they do their jumps.
     There is a mix of Carl’s 16mm archive footage, re-enactments and aerial photography to tell the story.  According to Carl and Jean, it’s frightening before the jump is made but exhilarating during the jump and a safe feeling when the parachute opens.  Even though every jump is planned and safety measures are taken there is still the possibility of human or mechanical failure.  3* (This movie is OK)

100 min, Doc/Bio directed by Marah Stauch with Cecilie Bull, Marah Strauch, John Long, Carl Boenisch, Jean Boenish, Rick Harrison, Jared Simmons.

Note:  Imdb 6.8 out of 10, 91% critic 72% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 2 ½*, Amazon 4.0* out of 5* with 16 reviews.
Special Note:  Filmed in Norway.  BASE-jumping stands for building, antenna, span or Earth (this means a cliff).  It denotes the starting place of the jump.  Carl broke his leg, he had a compound fracture and he didn’t’ have it set because he was a Christian Scientist.  The leg caused him to be much slower walking to jump sites.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Terminator 1984

     A nearly indestructible cyborg is sent back from the future on a mission to kill Sarah Connor.  She will be the mother of a man who will challenge the machines in a future war against humanity.  Kyle Reese is also sent back to protect Sarah Connor from the cyborg.  Sarah works as a waitress and she lives with her roommate Ginger.  The cyborg looks through the phone book and he starts killing every woman named Sarah Connor.  The police broadcast this in the news to protect the Sarah Connor’s that are still alive.  Sarah thinks someone is following her, she calls the police and they send officers to protect her.  Will they get there in time?
     I had been hesitant about watching this film because of excessive violence?  Since I thought Terminator Genisys was good, I decided to go back in time too.  Some information about this film is also give in the Genisys release.  Picture a Road Warrior movie but it's not all outside in dirt.  It's inside and the cars, clothing and hairstyles are from 1984.  The real 1984 and not the other film about George Orwell's novel of a totalitarian future society.  The future part is in the two men sent back plus another cyborg but not in the other characters.  Imagine the former governor in all black and armed with many high-powered weapons.  Shoot first and never offer any explanations.  A lot of foot chases and cars chases with plenty of action!!  4* (I really liked this movie)

107 min, Action directed by James Cameron also written by James Cameron, Gale Ann Hurd and William Wisher Jr. with Arnold Schwarzenegger, Michael Biehn, Linda Hamilton, Paul Winfield, Lance Henriksen, Rick Rossovich, Bess Motta, Earl Boen, Dick Miller.

Note:  Imdb 8.1 out of 10, 100% critic 88% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Amazon 4.5* out of 5* with 1416 reviews.
Special Note:  Filmed in Cudahy, Van Nuys, South Pasadena, Huntington Park, Little Rock, City of Industry, Los Angeles, California.  This film has been released four times, 2006, 2009, 2010, 2011. 

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Mansfield Park 2007

     Based on a novel by Jane Austen.  Fanny Price is ten years old and she lives with her penniless mother.  Her mother believes Fanny will be better off with her aunt and uncle Sir Thomas and Lady Bertram.  She will be with her cousins Maria, Julia, Tom and Edmund.  Fanny has a difficult time in the beginning without her mother but she comes to love the Bertram family.  She sometimes feels like the poor relation but at the age of eighteen her uncle leaves on an extended business trip.  Fanny begins to enjoy herself and finally feel at home at Mansfield Park.  The Bertram’s receive a visit from their new neighbors Henry Crawford and his sister Mary.  The Bertram’s don’t know that Henry and Mary are schemers!!
     This is not my favorite of the movies made from Jane Austen books.  Everyone is very stuffy and the whims of society are a heavy weight.  Nothing must be done that would bring any shame onto the family.  The young women must have successful marriages with status and wealth.  At least Fanny is different, she really cares for most of the people in her circle.  3* (This movie is OK)

120 min, TV Movie, Drama directed by Iain B. MacDonald with Julia Joyce, Douglas Hodge, Maggie O’Neil, Tara Berwin, Lucy Hurst, Zachary Elliott-Hatton, Greg Sheffield, Billie Piper, Blake Ritson, James D’Arcy, Michelle Ryan, Rory Kinnear, Catherine Steadman, Hayley Atwell.

Note:  Imdb 6.3 out of 10, 53% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Amazon 3.2* out of 5* with 188 reviews.
Special Note:  Filmed at Newby Hall, Skelton on Ure, North Yorkshire, England.

Captive 2015

     This film is based on a true story that began on March 11, 2005.  Ashley Smith has a young daughter Paige and she is living with Ashley’s aunt Kim..  Ashley’s husband was killed and she’s lost custody of her daughter for using crystal methamphetamine.  She is going to a support group but she can’t seem to stop using.  Brian Nichols was arrested and convicted of a crime.  When he is being taken to jail, he severely injures Deputy Cynthia Hall, he grabs her gun and heads for the courtroom.  He kills Judge Rowland Barnes, court reporter Julie Brandau and Sergeant Hoyt Teasley.  he escapes, steals a car and he’s on the run.  He sees Ashley outside her apartment, he follows her to her door and forces his way in.  Ashley is held captive for seven hours.
     There is a good message in this film but I didn’t know if I could keep watching to finish?  It seems so much like a Lifetime movie without very much emotion even with tense circumstances.  Nichols is in denial about the crime that brought him to the courtroom.  Also, he never addresses the fact that he murdered innocent people doing their jobs.  2 ½* (This movie is so-so)

97 min, Crime directed by Jerry Jameson with Kate Mara, David Oyelowo, Mimi Rogers, Jessica Oyelowo, Elle Graham, Michael Kenneth Williams.

Note:  Imdb 5.3 out of 10, 25% critic 47% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 2*, Amazon 4.2* out of 5* with 161 reviews.
Special Note:  Filmed in Charlotte, Wilmington, North Carolina; Atlanta Georgia.  The blue truck stolen by Brian Nichols was the actual truck that was stolen.  David Oyelowo was also acted in Selma, A Most Violent Year and Interstellar.  David and Jessica Oyelowo have been married since 1998 and they have four children.  Kate Mara was also in House of Cards, Moonbeam City and The Martian.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Kidnapping Mr. Heineken 2015

     This film is based on the actual events in 1983 of the real kidnapping in Holland of beer tycoon Freddy Heineken and his chauffeur Ab Doderer.  Five Dutch friends Willem Holleeder, Cor van Hout, Jan Boellard, Martin Erkamps and Frans Meijer first rob a bank and then they decide on this kidnapping.  They ask for 35 million Dutch guilders (about 16 million Euros) in ransom and they start to get very nervous when payment of the money is delayed.  Heineken makes a lot of demands as a victim and that gets on their nerves.
     The planning and plot for this film are a lot like the plans for the kidnapping.  Nothing thought through, the characters are not developed enough for you to care about them and even Heineken is not a sympathetic as a victim.   It seems the only normal person and a person needing rescue is the chauffeur!!  Not interesting, boring many times and even dull!!  1 ½* (I really didn’t like this movie)

95 min, Action directed by Daniel Alfredson with Jim Sturgess, Sam Worthington, Ryan Kwanten, Anthony Hopkins, Mark van Eeuwen, Thomas Cocquerel, Jemima West, David Dencik, Vera Van Dooren.

Note:  Imdb 6.1 out of 10, 20% critic 24% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 1*.
Special Note:  Filmed in Amsterdam, Noord-Holland, Netherlands.  The green Heineken bottles used are not correct for the period.  They should be brown bottles.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Happy Valley 2014

     This series takes place in a rural Yorkshire valley.  Catherine Cawood is a police sergeant, 47 years old, she is divorced, lives with her former heroin addict sister, has two daughters but one died and the other doesn’t speak to her.  She has a young grandson that lives with her and his mother was the daughter who died.  There is a lot going on in this valley and they have a real problem with drugs.   A young local woman is kidnapped and that spirals into a series of crimes.  Catherine often wonders why she doesn’t receive any information about what is going on locally from those above her rank?
     Happy Valley and it’s not very happy!!  Catherine doesn’t let things go and she gets involved in everything.  There is a lot of emotion between Catherine and her extended family too.  I wondered many times if she was going to be shot?  The police are not allowed to carry guns in Britain unless there are special circumstances.  The government believes that arming the police with guns engenders more gun violence than it prevents.  4* (I really liked this series)

6 episodes, 300 min total, TV Series, Crime directed by Sally Wainwright with Sarah Lancashire, Siobhan Finneran, Steve Pemberton, James Norton, Adam Long, Joe Armstrong, George Costigan, Charllie Murphy, Katherine Kelly, Julie Hessmondhalgh.

Note:  Imdb 8.5 out of 10, 100% critic 91% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Amazon 4.7* out of 5* with 90 reviews.
Special Note:  Filmed in Calder Valley, Yorkshire, North Light Film Studios, Brookes Mill, Berry Brow, Huddersfield, England, UK.  There are two seasons, one from 2015 on DVD and the other 2016 available now on Netfix.  Sally Wainwright is also in The Paradise and Last Tango in Halifax.  Siobhan Finneran was O’Brien, Lady Grantham’s personal maid on Downton Abbey for 25 episodes from 2010-2012.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

No Escape 2015

     A new water plant is going to be constructed in Southeast Asia.  Jack Dwyer was forced to close his company and he was offered a job with this larger company.  Jack, his wife Annie and their daughters Lucy and Breeze take a very long plane flight.  They are surprised there isn’t a car sent by the company to take them to their hotel?  They met Hammond on the plane and he offers to take them when his ride comes.  They were concerned they had too much luggage but Kenny Rogers is driving a small bus.  The family is very tired, jet lagged and ready for a long night of sleep.  The next morning, Jack heads out to get an American newspaper.  After he gets the paper, he sees local people heading toward a line of policemen to clash and fight with them.  Jack hurries back to the hotel, gathers his family and tries to find safety.
     This is a very tense film as soon as Jack gets his paper in the morning.  There is a lot of violence, gunfire, bombings, buildings burning and gangs roaming the streets.  The family has a tough time every minute.  3* (This movie is OK)

103 min, Action directed by John Erick Dowdle with Lake Bell, Pierce Brosnan, Owen Wilson, Sterling Jerins, Claire Gere, Sahajak Boonthanakit.

Note:  Imdb 6.8 out of 10, 45% critic 63% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert ½*, Amazon 4.2* out of 5* with 892 reviews.
Special Note:  Filmed in Chiang Mai, Lampang, Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia.  Michelle Monaghan was originally cast in the role of Annie but the movie was delayed and she was going to have a baby.  Trailers of this film were released in Cambodia and there was a social uproar because of the use of upside down Khmer lettering on the police shields.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

She's Funny That Way 2014

     Isabella (Izzy) Patterson is being interviewed by Hollywood reporter Judy.  She is an actress and she got her big break when she met theater director Arnold Albertson.  Her first part in a play is about a call girl who gets a big break when she meets a director, not unlike the way Izzy got her start.  Arnold’s wife and his friend Seth also have parts in A Grecian Evening.  Jane Claremont is a therapist and she finds out she is dealing with many of the people involved in this play and their friends.
     This film has the style of Woody Allen with the relationships back and forth and many complications.  There are a lot of misunderstandings, running around, jumping in cabs, breakups and attempted patching up the breakups.  2 1/2* (This movie is so-so)

93 min, Comedy directed by Peter Bogdanovich with Imogen Poots, Owen Wilson, Jennifer Aniston, Illeana Douglas, Kathryn Hahn, Rhys Ifans, Richard Lewis, Cybill Shepherd, Austin Pendleton, George Morfogen, Tovah Feldshuh.

Note:  Imdb 6.2 out of 10, 40% critic 36% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 2 ½*, Amazon 3.1* out of 5* with 184 reviews.
Special Note:  Filmed in New York City and Manhattan.  People Magazine reported this film was going into preproduction in the mid-1990’s with the title to be Soup to Nuts with Tatum O’Neal.

Monday, April 18, 2016

The Walk 2015

     This film is based on the book To Reach the Clouds written by Philippe Petit.  The year is 1973, he lives in Paris and he makes a living performing juggling acts.  His parents are not happy about his lack of income and his work as a street performer.  His father asks him to leave the family house.  Philippe returns to the circus were he practices for hours on his wire walking skills.  He starts to get training and help from his a friend he calls Papa Rudy.  Philippe’s first public appearance as a wirewalker ends with him falling in a lake.  He decides to try walking walking on Notre Dame Cathedral to redeem himself.  His next decision is that he will walk between the two uncompleted towers of the World Trade Center in New York.  This walk will be much more complicated because of guards and the construction crews.  He sets the walk date as August 6. 1974.
     I think this is a little too long with too much focus on talking about wire walking.  There isn’t any explanation for the integral parts of the rigging for the tower walk.  It must be done perfectly, able to withstand the wind and the changes in the weather at 140 feet.  3* (This movie is OK)

123 min, Adventure directed by Robert Zemeckis with Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Charlotte Le Bon, Ben Kingsley, Patrick Baby, Marie Turgeon.

Note:  Imdb 7.4 out of 10, 85% critic 78% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 2 ½*, Amazon 4.1* out of 5* with 377 reviews.
Special Note:  Filmed in Montreal Canada, Paris France, New York. The film Man on Wire features archival footage and interviews with the real Philippe Petit. 

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Clouds of Sils Maria 2014

      Sils Maria is a remote region of the Alps.  Maria Enders and her assistant Valentine go to this area for Maria to rehearse for a role in a play.  Maria has been selected because this is a revival of a play she was acted in when she was 18 years old.  Twenty years have passed since this role established her career.  This time around she would play the older woman and another actress will play the younger woman.  Maria is at the top of her career and she decides she wants to drop out of this commitment.  She decides she would rather play the younger woman again.  Her agent thinks she will be sued if she tries to back out.
      The problem I have with this film is the scenes with Binoche and Stewart in rehearsal.  Where do the lines of the play drop off and the conversation lines between the two women begin?  They seem to merge and blend together until I couldn’t tell the difference?  I couldn’t keep my interest going and kept delaying trying to figure it all out?  The scenes of this area are very beautiful.  3* (This movie is OK)

124 min, Drama directed by Olivier Assayas with Juliette Binoche, Kristen Stewart, Chloe Grace Moretz, Lars Eidinger, Johnny Flynn, Angela Winkler, Hanns Zischler, Nora von Waldstatten, Brady Corbet.

Note:  Imdb 6.8 out of 10, 89% critic 65% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 3 ½*, Amazon 3.4* out of 5* with 284 reviews.
Special Note:  This movie was filmed in Switzerland, Italy and Germany.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

San Andreas 2015

     Ray Gaines works for the Los Angeles Fire Department Air Rescue as a pilot.  He is getting a divorce from his wife Emma and they have a daughter Blake.  They had another daughter but she died.  Caltech seismologist Lawrence Hayes and his colleague Dr. Kim Park travel to the Hoover dam to do research for their earthquake-predicting model.  While they are on the dam, there is a 7.1 magnitude quake that collapses the dam.  Dr. Park is killed when he falls into the collapsing ground.  The earthquake at the dam triggers a 9.1 quake in Los Angeles.  Ray heads to a downtown LA hotel in a helicopter to rescue Emma from the rooftop of the building.  They need to get to San Francisco right away to rescue Blake from the quake that will happen there.
     There is a LOT of action and tension in this film.  It is very interesting to see the magnitude of the damage to Hoover Dam and the collapse of the buildings and landmarks in LA and SF.  I knew there were errors in this film as I watched but I didn’t realize there were so many!!  Surprisingly, this was the highest-grossing Warner Brothers film of 2015 and fourteenth worldwide.  3* (This movie is OK)

114 min, Action directed by Brad Peyton with Dwayne Johnson, Carla Gugino, Alexandra Daddario, Ioan Gruffudd, Archie Panjabi, Paul Giamatti, Hugo Johnstone-Burt, Art Parkinson, Will Yun Lee, Kylie Minogue.

Note:  Imdb 6.1 out of 10, 50% critic 53% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 3*, Amazon 4.0* out of 5* with 6290 reviews.
Special Note:  Filmed in San Francisco and Los Angeles, California; Hoover Dam on the Arizona-Nevada Border and Queensland, Australia.  On Imdb, there is a long list of character, continuity, geography and factual errors.  There are also revealing mistakes, plot holes and one error in the sound of an airplane.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Jurassic World 2015

     There have been three previous Jurassic films.  In this film, after 10 years of operations there is a renovated park open for the public called Jurassic World.  It is located on the same Isla Nublar off the Pacific coast of Central America.  Scientists have been studying the genetic makeup of dinosaurs and they have engineered a new breed of dinosaur.  Brothers Zach and Grady Mitchell visit the park to see what it has to offer and visit with their aunt Claire.  She is a busy park operations manager.  Owen Grady was formerly in the Navy and he has been training the park’s velociraptors.  The security chief, Vic Hoskins thinks the velociraptors should be trained for military use and not entertainment?  The park owner, Simon Masarani asks Owen to evaluate the new hybrid dinosaur, indominus rex.  Owen is worried about the park raising the rex apart from the other animals in isolation.
     It’s better to treat this film as a comedy and it is a lot easier viewing.  There is plenty of action and plenty of running away.  The velociraptors are much smaller than the rex and the rex is an immense animal much smarter than they expect.  It is interesting to see the different types of animals and their behavior.  I didn't recognize Bryce Dallas Howard with a short modern hairstyle.  3 ½* (I liked this movie)

124 min, Action directed by Colin Trevorrow with Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Ty Simpkins, Irrfan Khan, Vincent D’Onofrio, Ty Simpkins, Nick Robinson, Jake Johnson, Omar Sy, BD Wong, Judy Greer.

Note:  Imdb 7.1 out of 10, 71% critic 79% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 3*, Amazon 4.2* out of 5* with 7943 reviews.
Special Note:  Filmed in Kilauea, Kaua’i, Oahu, Honolulu, Hawaii; New Orleans, Louisiana; San Diego, San Rafael, Cazadero, California.  There are mistakes with Claire’s shoes and I wondered about her shoes?  They are shown in some scenes as light colored stiletto heels, not shown sometimes and they are the same color but lace-up flat shoes in other scenes?  Steven Spielberg returns as executive producer and the characters are based on those created by Michael Crichton.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

The Mystery of Lord Lucan 2013

     This film is based on a true story that happened between 1972 and 1974.  This DVD has two parts and two discs.  John Pearson interviews John Burke and Susie Maxwell-Scott in 2003 for a book he is writing titled The Gamblers.  The Clermont Club was a Mayfair casino run by John Aspinall who was also a zookeeper.  One of his regular clients was John Bingham also known as Lord Lucan who also has the nickname Lucky.  It is not because he has luck with the gambling, it’s the opposite, he is very unlucky and he loses a lot of money every week.  Lord Lucan is married to Veronica, they have three children, two girls and a boy.  When Veronica starts to complain about their outstanding debts and his gambling, he becomes violent and slaps her.  He begins to think he will try to have Veronica committed for insanity and he will obtain custody of the children.  He has moved out of the family home into a flat and this will cut his expenses back to one home if she dies. 
     The first disc is about the gambling and the family.  The second disc is nearly a decade later about a trial relating to the family.  I thought this was very interesting and different.  There were so many times I wanted to hit my TV because of Lord Lucan’s attitudes and behaviors!!  Lucan only cares about himself, what he wants to do and what he needs.  3 ½* (I liked this movie)

214 min, TV Movie, Crime directed by Adrian Shergold with Paul Freeman, Matthew Flynn, Rory Kinnear, Christopher Eccleston, Rufus Wright, Rupert Evans, James Bradshaw, Alan Cox, Ann Bell, Anna Walton.

Note:  Imdb 6.8 out of 10, 5*, Amazon 3.8* out of 5* with 18 reviews.
Special Note:  Filmed in London, England, UK.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Boulevard 2014

     Nolan and Joy Mack have been married for 30 years, they are in their 60's and they have always seemed to get along.  Nolan has worked at the same bank branch for 26 years.  His boss has recommended him for a promotion at another branch.  Nolan has been visiting his father at the hospital and he meets Leo when he turns down a different street than he usually uses.  He gives Leo a ride and they start staying in contact with each other.  Leo’s life is complicated and Eddie bullies him.  Nolan wants to help Leo but it’s making Nolan’s life more complicated.  This is threatening his marriage and his current job plus the possibility of a new job
     This is the last movie filmed by Robin Williams.  I really wish it had been a better movie.  There is only so much actors can do with a script and this is also a low budget film.  2 ½* (This movie is so-so)

88 min, Drama directed by Dito Montiel with Robin Williams, Roberto Aguire, Kathy Baker, Giles Matthey, Eleonore Hendricks, Bob Odenkirk, Henry Haggard, Gary Gardner, Crystal Gray, Joshua Decker.

Note:  Imdb 5.8 out of 10, 52% critic 29% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 3 ½*, Amazon 2.8* out of 5* with 288 reviews.
Special Note:  Filmed in Nashville, Tennessee.  The script was originally titled, Santa Monica Boulevard.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Eye in the Sky 2015

     Colonel Katherine Powell is a military officer based in the UK and working at a base in Sussex.  She has command of a top-secret drone operation and she has been following a group of terrorists for years.  She discovers several Al-Shabaab militants are planning a suicide bombing.  She has have surveillance follow them to their safe house in Nairobi, Kenya.  Kenya is politically considered a non-hostel country.  Originally, the mission was to capture the targets but now it has been switched a kill situation because of the suicide vests.  At a base in Las Vegas, pilot Steve Watts and his assistant will be in charge of preparing and shooting from a drone with two Hellfire missiles.  An international discussion between begins politicians at Whitehall in London and the U.S. Secretary of State now on a visit to China.  A percentage value must be determined for collateral damage outside of the strike zone.  Time is of the essence since the targets will stay in position for a limited time frame.
     This is a taunt film with a lot of tension.  The targets are very dangerous and could cause a high number of deaths in a suicide mission.  What about the value of innocent people within the kill or injure percentage zone?  I wonder how much back and forth really happens when contemplating a drone strike?  How much of this film is true and how much is drama?  4* (I really liked this movie)

102 min, Drama directed by Guy Hibbert with Helen Mirren, Aaron Paul, Alan Rickman, Carl Beukes, Babou Ceesay, Barkhad Abdi, Jeremy Northam, Iain Glen.

Note:  Imdb 7.8 out of 10, 92% critic 88% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 3*.
Special Note:  Filmed in South Africa.  There are two small drones in this film, one the size of a bird and another much smaller like a large insect.  Currently, these drones are in development but may not be in use yet because of battery life.  There is a note in the credits:  “Produced with the assistance of the Department of Trade and Industry in South Africa.”  Barkhad Abdi was the lead Somali pirate in the film Captain Phillips of 2013.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Never Forever 2007

     Sophie is married to Andrew Lee, he is a successful businessman and they live in New York.  His family is very devout Korean Catholic, they regularly attend Church services and meet together to pray.  His father has recently passed away and the couple has been struggling to have a child.  Andrew feels extreme depression because medically he is the reason they can't have a child.  He tries to commit suicide,he lives and he begins to recover.  Sophie decides to take matters into her own hands.  She goes to a fertility clinic but they will not let her use a donor without permission from Andrew.  She meets a Korean man at the clinic who has come to donate and she decides to contact him with a financial arrangement. 
     This is complicated and you wonder where this is going to go?  Will Andrew find out about her plan?  Will Jihah agree to help her?  How will this affect her marriage and her relationship with her husband?  If Andrew does find out about her plan, what will be his reaction?  A lot of questions!!  I know the answers but I can't tell you because it will spoil the movie for you!!  4* (I really liked this movie) 

104 min, Drama directed by Gina Kim with Vera Farmiga, David Lee McInnis, Joseph Y. Kim, Shirley Roeca, Steve Greenstean, Marceline Hugot, Colleen Quinlan, Trisha LaFache, Jun-woo Ha. 

Note:  Imdb 6.4 out of 10, 80% critic 71% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Amazon 3.7* out of 5* with 191 reviews. 
Special Note:  Jun-woo Ha has won many awards and he has been acting since 2002.  Vera Farmiga originally planned to become an ophthalmologist but she started acting in 1996 and she has also won many awards.  Filmed in New York City and Queens.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Marnie 1964

     Mark Rutland gives a nod when Marnie is interviewing for a job at a publishing firm that indicates she should be hired.  He has seen Marnie before and she worked at another company.  He knows she stole money and left that job.  Mark stops her when she steals from this publishing firm.  He forces her marry him instead of running away like she always does.  Mark has a private detective look into her past and report back.  He believes something that happened to her as a child has caused her to steal.  She is terrified of thunderstorms and the color red. 
     Marnie needs a lot of psychological help but she won’t go to a doctor.  I wasn’t sure that Mark’s love and working with her would be enough to help her.  She seems so cool, collected and sure of herself but inside she’s very troubled.  4* (I really liked this movie)

130 min, Drama directed by Alfred Hitchcock with Tippi Hedren, Sean Connery, Martin Gabel, Louise Latham, Diane Baker, Alan Napier, Bob Sweeney, Mariette Harley, Bruce Dern, S. John Launer, Meg Wyllie.

Note:  Imdb 7.2 out of 10, 82% critic 73% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Amazon 4.3* out of 5* with 361 reviews.
Special Note:  I saw while watching The Girl of 2012 that the last scene in this movie was the first scene filmed.  It is at a train station in San Jose, California.  Tippi Hedren knew when this film was completed that she would be free from the grip of Alfred Hitchcock on her life.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Ricki and the Flash 2015

     Linda had a husband and three children, two boys and a girl.  She had a dream of being a real rock star.  Years have gone by and Linda is now Ricki and she does have a band called The Flash.  She also works as a grocery store checker for a steady income.  Pete, her ex-husband calls from Indiana to tell her that their daughter Julie has had a breakdown because her husband left her for another woman.  Ricki has not been to see her children in a long time and they are all adults now.  She feels she really needs to be there for Julie so she takes the next flight out of Los Angeles.  Julie isn’t overjoyed to see Ricki and she doesn’t leave much doubt about her feelings.  Julie does start to perk up a little in a few days and Ricki also gets to see her boys.  Jack is getting married and Ricki doesn’t expect to get an invitation.  Ricki and Pete’s wife Maureen exchange words before Ricki flies back to LA.
     Director Jonathan Demme has made several Neil Young documentaries.  Diablo Cody wrote the script and she also wrote Juno and Young Adult.  There isn’t one single surprise in any scene of this film?  Everything goes by a standard check-off list?  I see how makeup can make Mamie Gummer look like she hasn’t slept for two weeks?  Streep did her own guitar and singing which isn’t bad.  Rick Springfield is her guitar player and her screen boyfriend, Joe Vitale is the drummer from the Michael Stanley Band.  On the organ is Bernie Worrell from Talking Heads and on bass is the late Rick Rosas who played with Neil Young on the album Heart of Gold from 2006.  2 ½* (This movie is so-so)

101 min, Comedy directed by Jonathan Demme with Meryl Streep, Kevin Kline, Mamie Gummer, Rick Springfield, Ric Rosas, Jow Vitale, Bernie Worrell, Ben Platt, Peter C. Demme.

Note:  Imdb 6.0 out of 10, 64% critic 45% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 2*, Amazon 3.2* out of 5* with 565 reviews.
Special Note:  Filmed in Piermont and Yonkers, New York.  Meryl Streep and Mamie Gummer who plays Julie are mother and daughter in real life.  Streep looks younger than her 66 years but the rocker hairstyle and heavy makeup age her in this film.

Friday, April 8, 2016

Max 2015

     Kyle Wincott and his dog Max are a team in Afghanistan.  Max uses both his nose and his training to help the soldiers in the company.  He tells the men where weapons are hidden and whether to move forward or remain stationary.  Unfortunately Kyle is killed and Max is unable to accept another handler.  Kyle’s family is notified about Max and they agree to take him into their home.  This is easier said than done but Max begins to accept Kyle’s brother Justin as his new handler.  Kyle’s father Ray wonders if Max had anything to do with Kyle’s death?  Tyler was in Kyle’s company and Ray gives him a job at the storage unit Ray owns.
     This film is very realistic and I had a cramp in my stomach when bad things were happening to Max.  There is probably the statement at the end of the film that “no animals were harmed in the making of this movie.”  Max’s real name is Carlos and he had various stunt doubles too.  There are other dogs in this film but Max is the real star and he does better in his acting than some of the people!!  3 ½* (I liked this movie)

111 min, Adventure directed by Boaz Yakin with Thomas Haden Church, Josh Wiggins, Luke Kleintank, Lauren Graham, Robbie Amell, Mia Xitlali, Dejon LaQuake, Jay Hernandez, Own Harn, Josephy Juilian Soria.

Note:  Imdb 6.8 out of 10, 35% critic 71% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 2*, Amazon 4.6* out of 5* with 1514 reviews.
Special Note:  Filmed in North Carolina.  This film is dedicated to 26 dogs and 25 handlers killed in military service.  Max was also in the film Project Almanac and he is a Belgian Malinois, a type of Belgian Shepherd.  The two main breeds of police dogs are Belgian Malinois and German Shepherd.  The cost can be about $8,000 for the dog and then training up to about $12,000.  Rin Tin Tin was disqualified from winning the first best-actor Oscar because of his non-human status but he earned the most votes!!

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries 2015

     This series is based on novels written by Kerry Greewood.  Any time Detective John ‘Jack’ Robinson learns about a murder, Phryne Fisher is right behind him looking for clues.  Jack has help from his partner Hugh Collins.  Phryne has help from Dorothy ‘Dot’ Williams, Mr. Butler, Bert, Cec and Dr. Mac.  An act at a magic show kills a woman.  A woman is killed outside an Air Force base.  An Italian grandmother is killed in her restaurant kitchen.  A boy living on the street goes missing and his brother needs help finding him.  Phryne’s Aunt Prudence opens her home to a psychiatrist and natural healer.  A hotel concierge falls to his death.  A woman is murdered at a tennis club.  A man who wants to kill Phryne’s father escapes from a hospital.
     All these events take place in the 20’s.  It’s the flapper age and Phryne doesn’t hesitate to dress in the latest fashions.  I liked the clothing, hairstyles and the cars.  The plots and the acting are good too.  Each episode is different and interesting.  4* (I really liked this series)

Each episode 60 min, TV Series, Crime with Essie Davis Nathan Page, Hugo Johnstone-Burt, Hugo Johnstone-Burt, Ashleigh Cummings, Richard Bligh, Travis McMahon, Anthony Sharpe, Tammy Macintosh.

Note:  Imdb 8.3 out of 10, Amazon 4.7* out of 5* with 75 reviews, 9.2 out of 10 with 58 votes.
Special Note: There are three episodes on each DVD for a total of nine different crime stories.  Episode Titles: Death Defying Feats, Murder and the Maiden, Murder and Mozzarella, Blood and Money, Death and Hysteria, Death at the Grand, Game, Set and Murder, Death do us Part.  This series was filmed in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

The Cat Returns 2002

     Haru is walking with her friend Yuki and she sees a cat crossing the street in front of a truck.  She races to scoop up the cat in her lacrosse stick and get him out of the street.  Unusual things start to happen with cats because the rescued cat is Prince Lune, the son of the King of Cats.  The cats want to repay her and she finds herself in a Cat Kingdom as the soon-to-be bride of Prince Lune.  She gets help from an elegant cat statuette that has come to life and his very fat cat friend. 
     This is very interesting and funny!!  Cats begin talking to Haru and she doesn’t know what to think.  Baron von Gikkingen from the movie Whisper of the Heart is a featured character.  The Cat’s Repayment is a more accurate translation of the original Japanese title, Neko no ongaeshi.  3 ½* (I liked this movie)

75 min, Animation directed by Hiroyuki Morita with the voices of Anne Hathaway, Cary Elwes, Judy Greer, Andrew Bevis, Kristen Bell, Rene Auberjonois, Andy Richter, Peter Boyle, Elliott Gould, Kristine Sutherland, Tim Curry, Katia Coe.

Note:  Imdb 7.3 out of 10, 89% critic 82% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Amazon 4.5* out of 5* with 298 reviews.
Special Note:  This film was originally going to be a straight-to-video project until the storyboard was reviewed.