Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Truth 2015

     CBS News head Mary Mapes and newscaster Dan Rather work together on a 60 Minutes news program prior to the 2004 presidential election.  Mary obtains documents stating that the then President and candidate George W. Bush did not serve in Vietnam or in the Texas Air National Guard but he skipped out on this duty.  He also received preferential treatment as the son of a former president to serve in the Guard.  His Guard service records were forged to indicate his dates of participation.  Mary and her team have the documents gone over by authenticity experts but they don’t have the originals.  They also contact sources by phone for their expert opinions on the reliability of the documents.  Everything starts to fall apart when questions about the documents come from every angle.
      CBS is a corporate-owned news media and they were not about to take any heat over a news program!!  It doesn’t matter what the truth really is, it only matters if there are complaints.  No one who later had challenges ever asked if the story was true but they only cared about the authenticity of the documents themselves.  The investigation started after a news piece about Abu Ghraib raised questions about the military record of Bush.  A team assembled by CBS grills Mapes but none of her ‘testimony’ is recorded and her political beliefs must be her reason for releasing this story?  3 ½* (I liked this movie)

125 min, Bio directed by James Vanderbilt with Cate Blanchett, Robert Redford, Dennis Quaid, Topher Grace, Elisabeth Moss, Bruce Greenwood, Stacy Keach, John Benjamin Hickey, David Lyons.

Note:  Imdb 6.8 out of 10, 62% critic 64% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 3*, Amazon 4.1* out of 5* with 308 reviews.
Special Note:  Currently National Amusements is the owner of Viacom and Sumner Redstone.  Sumner Redstone oversees the CSB News.  Filmed in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia; New York and Los Angeles, California.  Dennis Quaid and Topher Grace have been in two previous films together Traffic 2000, In Good Company 2004.  If you check online reports about the story of the Guard and President Bush it is true!!

Monday, May 30, 2016

Pawn Sacrifice 2014

     The time period is more than 40 years ago at the height of the Cold War.  Bobby Fischer was born on March 9, 1943 in Chicago, Illinois.  He taught himself to play chess as a young boy and later Carmine Nigro instructed him.  His first professional chess game was in 1956 and a win at the age of 13 against Donald Bryne.  His first game against Boris Spassky was in 1972.  They played the world championship in 1972 with a win for Fischer.
     There is a lot of background information about Bobby but not very much about Spassky.  Supposedly, the quirks exhibited by Bobby were not as pronounced in 1972 as portrayed in this film?  I think the chess scenes needed to be shorter because there are a lot of scenes of other players matching his moves to follow the game?  The press made the championship seem like it was the Soviet Union against the United States and not two players in a chess game.  This put extra pressure on Fischer and his vulnerable mental state.  3* (This movie is OK)

115 min, Bio directed by Edward Zwick with Tobey Maguire, Live Schreiber, Peter Sarsgaard, Edward Zinoviev, Alexandre Gorchkov, Lily Rabe, Robin Weigert.

Note:  Imdb 7.0 out of 10, 71% critic 67% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Evert 2*.
Special Note:  Filmed in Montreal, Quebec, Canada; Reykjavik, Iceland; Los Angeles, California.  Bobby Fischer is still considered to be one of the best chess players alive.  He was sidelined by his fears and phobias due to his condition as a paranoid schizophrenic.  Some reviewers have mentioned chess game errors in this film.  Bobby Fischer Against the World of 2011 contains the same material as this film. 

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Black Mass 2015

     This film is based on the true story of James “Whitey” Bulger.  He was an Irish mob godfather and an FBI informant with a secret information trading deal. He worked with his brother William “Billy” Bulger, a state senator from Boston and John Connolly an FBI agent.  They were planning to take down the Italian mob and the mafia in Boston.  Everything started to go south and turned very violent.  There was a lot of drug dealing, murder and extortion.  The FBI’s Boston office was forced to report that Whitey Bulger was one of the most notorious criminals in the history of the US.  He was placed on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted List of criminals.
     The style of this film is to tell details in a flashback structure with FBI interrogations of Bulger associates.  John Connolly worked with Bulger because they were childhood friends.  Characters seem to come and go, you wonder if they are still alive until they show up again?  Some of the events seem to be unbelievable but they are based on evidence.  Even those involved thought things were so outrageous that they couldn’t really be happening?  There is a lot of violence but I didn't think this was very interesting and Bulger must be the devil?  2 1/2* (This movie is so-so)

123 min, Bio directed by Scott Cooper with Johnny Depp, Benedict Cumberbatch, Dakota Johnson, Joel Edgerton, Kevin Bacon, Peter Sarsgaard, Jesse Plemons, Rory Cochrane, David Harbour, Adam Scott.

Note:  Imdb 7.0 out of 10, 75% critic 69% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 3*, Amazon 3.8* out of 5* with 1667 reviews.
Special Note:  Filmed in South Boston, Boston, Lynn, Chelsea, Quincy, Revere Beach, Methuen, Cambridge, Massachusetts.  Other actresses considered for the role of Lindsey Cyr were Margot Robbie, Jennifer Lawrence, Anna Kendrick, Felicity Jones, Blake Lively, Scarlett Johansson, Anne Hathaway.  Robbie and Lawrence had scheduling conflicts.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Mission Impossible - Ghost Protocol 2011

     This is the fourth Mission Impossible film.  Ethan Hunt has a new team and they must track down Hendricks.  He is a terrorist and he has the Russian nuclear launch codes.  He is planning to launch a strike against the United States.  The team tries to stop him at the Kremlin but an explosion causes severe damage to the building.  The IMF is blamed for the bombing and this forces the US President to invoke Ghost Protocol.  Under this ruling, the IMF is disavowed and no assistance or backup will be offered.  Ethan and the team follow Hendricks to Dubai and then to Mumbai. 
     Many of the action scenes are very intense.  I think only one person wears the mask that you can’t tell is a mask.  There is a LOT of chasing and running.  It seems the codes won’t be obtained quickly or possibly not at all?  Of course, it will take over 120 minutes to get the codes!!  3 ½* (I liked this movie)

133 min, Action directed by Brad Bird with Tom Cruise, Jeremy Renner, Simon Pegg, Paula Patton, Michael Nvqvist, Vladimir Mashkov, Samulie Edelmann, Ivan Shvedoff, Anitl Kapoor, Lea Sevdoux, Josh Holloway.

Note:  Imdb 7.4 out of 10, 93% critic 76% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 3 ½*, Amazon 4.1* out of 5* with 2491 reviews.
Special Note:  Filmed in India, United Arab Emirates, Hungary, Czech Republic, Canada, Russia, Santa Clarita, California.  This is the first MI film to be released in IMAX.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Strangers on a Train 1951

     This film is based on a novel by Patricia Highsmith (1921-1995).  Guy Haines is a tennis pro traveling on a train from Washington DC.  He meets Bruno Anthony and Bruno starts talking about a plan for the two of them.  Bruno will kill Guy’s wife who wants a divorce and is having a baby by someone else.  Guy would like to be free to marry the daughter of a US. Senator.  Bruno hates his father and he wants Guy to kill him.  If they swap the murders, they will be able to get away with them because they don’t have a motive and they will have an alibi?  Guy doesn’t think Bruno really is serious about this plan until his wife Miriam is found dead at an amusement park?  The police put a 24-hour guard on Guy and Bruno is expecting Guy to kill his father?
     I didn’t know this was a Hitchcock movie until I finished viewing and it is not widely known.  There is a lot of tension in the final scenes between Guy and Bruno.  Hitchcock usually uses blond actresses in leading roles but Ruth Roman was under contract to the studio.  Hitchcock had a fear that he would be accused of a crime he didn’t commit and this theme is in many of his films.  There were two versions of this film, an American version and another for the British.  I thought it was interesting, it has good character development and suspense.  3 ½* (I liked this movie)

101 min, Crime directed by Alfred Hitchcock with Farley Granger, Robert Walker, Ruth Roman, Leo G. Carroll, Patricia Hitchcock, Kasey Rogers, Marion Lorne, Jonathan Hale, Howard St. John, John Brown.

Note:  Imdb 8.1 out of 10, 98% critic 92% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 4*, Amazon 4.5* out of 5* with 335 reviews.
Special Note:  Filmed at the Jefferson Memorial, Union Station, Washington DC; Penn Station New York, West Side Tennis Club, New York; Danbury Railroad Station, Connecticut; Canoga Park, Rowland V. Lee Ranch, Los Angeles, Warner Brothers Burbank Studios, California.  Changes were made from the novel, Bruno Antony was named Charles Anthony Bruno, Guy Haines was an architect and not a tennis player, Anne Morton was named Anne Faulkner.  Granger was also in another Hitchcock film, Rope of 1948.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation 2015

     Alan Hunley is the Director of the CIA and he persuades a Senate committee to disband the IMF (Impossible Mission Force).  This is the group with Ethan Hunt, William Brandt, Benji Dunn and Luther Stickell as key team members.  Hunley believes the IMF is too reckless and they don’t have sufficient oversight on their operations.  The disbanding of the IMF leaves Hunt on his own and without backup to track down a rogue organization known as the Syndicate.  This group is killing heads of state, destroying major companies and setting off explosions.
     I like the scenes where a character is acting as a different person with a mask that you can’t tell they are wearing.  They’re a few of those scenes in this film (possibly only one).  I believe that Tom Cruise and Rebecca Ferguson are not riding the motorcycles in a chase scene.  I have only seen the first MI of 1996.  Rebecca Ferguson can do the fight scenes as well as Cruise.  He maintains the MI running style throughout the film.  3 ½* (I liked this movie)

131 min, Action directed by Christopher McQuarrie with Tom Cruise, Rebecca Ferguson, Jeremy Renner, Simon Pegg, Ving Rhames, Sean Harris, Simon McBurney, Jingchu Zhang, Tom Hollander, Jesn Hulten.

Note:  Imdb 7.5 out of 10, 93% critic 87% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 4*, Amazon 4.4* out of 5* 1952 reviews.
Special Note:  Filmed in Marrakech, Agadir, Casablanca, Rabat, Morocco; Vienna, Austria; Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; London, Southampton, Oxfordshire, England.  There is heavy product placement by BMW for the cars and motorcycles except for one Mercedes without the front insignia.  McQuarrie previously worked with Cruise on Edge of Tomorrow of 2014.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

The Prophet 2014

     This film is based on a book published in 1923 by Lebanese writer and philosopher Gibranin.  Mustafa is an exiled artist and poet.  He has been confined to a home for seven years with only contact with his housekeeper and her daughter.  Kamila is paid to keep the home clean and provide food for Mustafa.  Sometimes her mute daughter Almitra will visit him.  She has not spoken since the death of her father.  There aren’t very many jobs available in this Mediterranean seaside village and Kamila is very happy to have this job.  Almitra causes problems with the bakers, fruit and vegetable sellers in town.  Sometimes she helps herself to food without paying?  The authorities visit Mustafa to tell him he can go free if he will sign a paper denying all the statements he has made to the people and written.
     The book written by Gibran features twenty-six prose poems.  This film highlights eight of the most popular poems.  The poems cover heavy subjects such as eating and drinking, death, good and evil, love, work.  I’m not much of a fan of poetry?  I like sentences to say what they mean?  I had a difficult time paying attention when the film moves from the story about the people to the animation of the poetry?  3* (This movie is OK)

84 min, Animation directed by Roger Allers with the voices of Liam Neeson, Salma Hayek, Quvenzhane Wallis, John Kransinski, Frank Langella, Alfred Molina, Loreto Peralta, Assaf Cohen,Gunnar Sizemore.

Note:  Imdb 7.1 out of 10, 67% critic 81% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 3 ½*, Amazon 4.4* out of 5* with 67 reviews.
Special Note:  Salma Hayek promoted this film on her visit to Lebanon.  This is the birthplace of Gibran Kahlil Gibran and Hayek is also of Lebanese descent.

Grandma 2015

     Sage finds out she is pregnant, she’s not ready for a baby and she’s still in high school.  Her boyfriend was supposed to give her $630 so she can go to a clinic but he didn’t show up.  Sage goes to see her grandmother Elle Reid to see if she can give her the money.  Elle has just broken up with her girlfriend Olivia and she’s missing her long time former partner Violet who died.  Elle has cut up her credit cards, she paid off all of her bills and she doesn’t have the money.  She will be getting money soon but not in time.  Sage doesn’t want to talk to her mother about this and Elle doesn’t want to talk to her daughter either because they are both afraid.  Elle and Sage set out to try to come up with the money before Sage’s appointment for this same day.
     Grandma doesn’t take any sass or backtalk from anyone!!  The time span in the film is about eight hours and it covers a lot of ground and people.  Elle wants to help Sage but she realizes what they do today will follow Sage for the rest of her life.  3 ½* (I liked this movie)

79 min, Comedy directed by Paul Weitz with Lily Tomlin, Julia Garner, Marcia Gay Harden, Judy Greer, Nat Wolff, Laverne Cox, Elizabeth Pena.

Note:  Imdb 6.8 out of 10, 92% critic 68% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 3 ½*, Amazon 3.4* out of 5* with 333 reviews.
Special Note:  Filmed in North Hollywood and Los Angeles, California.  The car that Elle drives is actually owned by Lily Tomlin and it is a 955 Dodge Royal.  She bought it in 1975 for $1500.

Monday, May 23, 2016

The Godfather II 1974

     This film continues the saga of the Corelone crime family where the Godfather left off.   It goes back and forth from Vito Corelone growing up in Sicily in 1910 New York to Michael Corelone in the 1950’s.  Vito becomes the original Godfather and Michael takes his place after he dies.  Michael is expanding the family business into Las Vegas, Hollywood and Cuba.
     The total screen time for both Godfather films is nearly seven hours.  We could relate and sympathize with both Vito and Michael except their business is crime and murder.  Both figures command respect but they are selling their souls for this respect.  There is honor and dignity but death from a possible assassination lurking around the corner at every turn.  Michael’s family disintegrates around him and he’s a lonely man unable to trust anyone.  Both films are very involved but you are drawn into the stories and also glad you are not a part of any of this.  3 ½* (I liked this movie)

202 min, Crime directed by Francis Ford Coppola with Al Pacino, Robert De Niro, Robert Duvall, Diane Keaton, John Cazale, Talia Shire, Lee Strasberg, Michael V. Gazzo, G.D. Spradlin, Richard Bright.

Note:  Imdb 9.0 out of 10, 97% critic 97% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 3*, Amazon 4.7* out of 5* with 633 reviews.
Special Note:  Filmed in Dominican Republic and Italy; Lake Tahoe, Los Angeles, California; New York; Miami, Florida; Las Vegas, Nevada.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Little Boy 2015

     The setting of this film is about the time of the Pearl Harbor attack by Japan.  Pepper Flynt Busbee lives in O’Hare California, he was a small baby and now he is eight years old but he is a ‘little boy.’  For some medical reason he as not gained height as he ages?  He’s been to the local doctor but he doesn’t have much information about this condition.  James Busbee loves his son and they do everything together.  His dad asks Little Boy, are you willing to do whatever it takes?  Little Boy has an older brother Lincoln and he goes to enlist in the Army.  He is declared 4F and not allowed to enlist.  Instead of Lincoln, his father will need to enlist to take his place.  It’s devastating for Little Boy to see his beloved father leave for the war.
     I thought this was interesting and heartwarming.  We are not talking about rocket science here but a child bullied by his peers, without any friends and the father he loves could be killed in the war.  He doesn’t know how he’s going to live without his father or even manage while he is gone.  He can tell his mother and his brother are also very worried.  4* (I really liked this movie)

106 min, Drama directed by Alejandro Monteverde with Jakob Salvati, Emily Watson, David Henrie, Kevin James, Michael Rapaport, Ted Levine.

Note:  Imdb 7.4 out of 10, 22% critic 79% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 1 ½*, Amazon 4.8* out of 5* with 605 reviews.
Special Note:  Filmed in Los Cabos, Tijuana and Baja Film Studios, Rosarito Beach, Baja California, Mexico.  Kevin James liked this script so much he did the film without pay!  I can clearly tell the reviewer on Roger Ebert’s web site did not like this film!!  I’m also surprised about the low reviews on Rotten Tomatoes.  Little Boy may not have had enough growth hormone secreted by his pituitary gland?  There are several genetic reasons that could cause him to be short too?

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Trainwreck 2015

     Amy Townsend is a party girl, she drinks too much, smokes weed and she has dated a lot of men.  Her sister Kim is exactly the opposite, she is married, her husband has a son from a former marriage and she is expecting their baby.  Their father has multiple sclerosis and has been moved by Amy and Kim to an assisted living home.  He’s not there very long before they realize the home is too expensive.  They have no choice but to move him to a nursing home.  Amy works for a magazine and she has an assignment to interview a famous sports doctor, Aaron Conners.  They start a relationship but Amy is not used to dating someone as nice as Aaron.
     I didn’t know when I watched this film that Judd Apatow directed it.  Just this one sentence explains everything about the movie that I’ve left out in my summary!!  It’s a raunchy rom-com with famous professional athletes added to the mix.  I think the film is too long, some of the scenes just fall flat and others are OK.  3* (This movie is OK)

125 min, Comedy directed by Judd Apatow with Amy Schumer, Bill Hader, Brie Larson, John Cena, Tilda Swinton, Mike Birbiglia, Colin Quinn.

Note:  Imdb 6.3 out of 10, 85% critic 67% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 3*, Amazon 3.3* out of 5* with 4140 reviews.
Special Note:  Filmed in various New York locations.  I didn’t know Amy’s magazine boss Dianna was played by Tilda Swinton and she looks very different!  LeBron James wanted to know if his doctor validated parking?

Friday, May 20, 2016

Here Comes Mr. Jordan 1941

     Adapted from a stage play by Harry Segall titled Heaven Can Wait.  Joe Pendleton is a boxer and he’s been preparing for a big fight.  He is also a pilot and he’s playing his saxophone while he is flying a small plane to his next fight.  The rope holding the tail in position frays, it breaks and he is immediately in a nosedive to the ground.  A Heavenly Messenger prematurely takes Joe’s spirit from his body before he dies and Joe’s manager has his body cremated.  Joe talks to Mr. Jordan in heaven and he allows Joe to use the body of Bruce Farnsworth.  Farnsworth's wife and his private secretary have drowned him in the bathtub.  Joe starts doing things properly with Farnsworth's business affairs and his wife and secretary decide they need to kill him again.  Mr. Jordan transfers Joe into the body of the prizefighter Joe was going to fight against.
     This film starts out with saying the following events are true.  I’m not so sure about them being true?  There is a lot of running around and complaining because mistakes have been made with Joe Pendleton and his body.  His appearance doesn’t change but the people he interacts with see the image of the body he is using and they hear the voice of that person.  To Joe, he’s just the same even when he looks in the mirror.  He just has different jobs and people around him.  True or not, the movie is interesting and enjoyable.  3 ½* (I liked this movie)

94 min, Fantasy directed by Alexander Hall with Robert Montgomery, Claude Rains, Evelyn Keyes, Rita Johnson, Edward Everett Horton, James Gleason, John Emery, Donald MacBride, Don Costello, Halliwell Hobbes.

Note:  Imdb 7.7 out of 10, 100% critic 83% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, TCM 4* out of 4* user 4* out of 5*, Amazon 4.6* out of 5* with 104 reviews.
Special Note:  Filmed at Providencia Ranch, Hollywood Hills, Los Angeles, California.  Columbia Pictures planned to make a sequel to this film titled Hell Bent for Mr. Jordan.  The original cast couldn’t be re-assembled and it was never made.  There is a remake of this film with the title Heaven can Wait from 1978 with Warren Beatty and Julie Christie.  Another film from 1943 is titled Heaven Can Wait but with a different story.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

In a Lonely Place 1950

     This film is based on a noir novel by Dorothy Hughes.  Dixon Steele is a screenwriter but he hasn’t written anything in a long time.  He has been given the task of writing a script on a new bestseller novel.  He is not looking forward to even reading the novel.  He meets a hatcheck girl at his usual bar and he persuades her to come to his apartment to tell him about the book.  Mildred Atkinson doesn’t drink, she cancels a date to do this favor and she does a good job.  Dixon gives her $20 for cab fare and he finds out the next day from the police that she was murdered after she left.  He is a suspect but his neighbor Laurel Gray says she saw Mildred leave and Dixon didn’t leave his apartment later.  They begin a friendship and she inspires him to begin writing again.  They fall in love but Laurel witnesses Dixon beat up a young man because of road rage.  This leads her to believe Dixon is capable of murdering someone.
     Filmed in black and white, Steele is a constantly angry man, he’s an alcoholic who can explode at any moment and he has low self-esteem.  He also has a rap sheet listing a lot of assaults and fights.  Gray thinks she can handle him and she can even change him.  As the film proceeds they are happy but slowly the film and the people become more confined.  Steele starts setting a lot of boundaries for Gray and she goes along with it because she’s in love.  I liked the style of this film, also the cars, clothing and hairstyles of the period.  This is like a picture album of life in LA of 1950.  3 ½* (I liked this movie)
94 min, Drama directed by Nicholas Ray with Humphrey Bogart, Gloria Grahame, Frank Lovejoy, Carl Benton Reid, Art Smith, Jeff Donnell, Martha Stewart, Robert Warwick, Morris Ankrum, William Chang.

Note:  Imdb 8.0 out of 10, 97% critic 89% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 4*, Amazon 4.2* out of 5* with 153 reviews.

Special Note:  Filmed in Beverly Hills, Hollywood, West Hollywood and Los Angeles, California.  Both Lauren Bacall and Ginger Rogers were considered for the part of Laurel Gray.  Bogart wanted his wife Bacall to play opposite him but Warner Brothers would not release her from her contract.  The director, Nicolas Ray convinced them that his wife Gloria Grahame would be right for the role.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Love and Other Drugs 2005

     This film is based on Jamie Reidy’s memoir Hard Sell: The Evolution of a Viagra Salesman.  Jamie Randall started medical school in the 1990’s but he dropped out.  One story he tells is that it was because he didn’t want to do what his father wanted him to do.  Instead, he switches to a job as a pharmaceutical salesman in Ohio.  He takes this job because it pays a lot of money and he knows how to be a heel.  He likes to charm and play the cutthroat without a conscience game.  His goal is to earn his way to the highly coveted Chicago market.  He meets Maggie and he may have met his match.  She is a free spirit and she doesn’t want to be tied down by any man.
     Jamie is not a very likeable guy.  He uses the same line on every woman he meets or wants to meet.  He calls them Lisa and eventually he hopes they will correct him on their name and this will start a conversation.  He doesn’t care what he has to do to meet his selling quota and Chicago is the ultimate goal.  How can it hurt for a guy to sleep his way up the ladder?  There is a turn later on in the film.  3 ½* (I liked this movie)

112 min, Comedy directed by Edward Zwick with Jake Gyllenhaal, Anne Hathaway, Judy Greer, Oliver Platt, Hank Azaria, Josh Gad, Gabriel Macht, George Segal, Jill Glayburgh, Kate Jennings Grant, Katheryn Winnick.

Note:  Imdb 6.7 out of 10, 49% critic 53% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 2 ½*, Amazon 4.0* out of 5* with 506 reviews.
Special Note:  Filmed in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  Gyllenhaal and Hathaway watched Pillow Talk (1959), 9 Songs (2004), Last Tango in Paris (1972) and other films as preparation for their scenes together.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Infinitely Polar Bear 2014

     Maggie Stuart has left her husband Cam in the late 1970’s and taken their two daughters with her.  Cam is bipolar and he doesn’t take his medication.  He also drinks and he has recently had a breakdown.  Maggie is living in a small rent controlled apartment in with Amelia and Faith.  They are living at the poverty level and Maggie wants that to change.  She has signed up for an accelerated 18 month MBA program at Columbia University in New York.  She asks Cam to move into her apartment and take care of the girls during the week.  Maggie will come home every weekend to be with them.  There are a lot of ups and downs with this arrangement.
     I thought this was good but I wonder if in real life Cam was able to take care of the girls?  They get by but are they safe if something out of the ordinary happens?  What about his continual chain smoking?  At least times were different in this period as compared to today and that does give them some slack.  He offers stability with his presence in their home but it’s a ‘different’ kind of parenting and lifestyle. 3 1/2* (I liked this movie)

90 min, Comedy directed by Maya Forbes with Mark Ruffalo, Zoe Saldana, Imogene Wolodarsky, Ashley Aufderheide, Nekhebet Kum Juch, Manoah Angelo, Muriel Gould, Rod Randolph, Beth Dixon, Keir Dullea.

Note:  Imdb 7.0 out of 10, 79% critic 72% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roget Ebert 3 ½*, Amazon 4.2* out of 5* with 114 reviews.
Special Note:  Filmed in Providence, Rhode Island.  Both Saldana and Ruffalo have played Marvel Comics characters.  Ruffalo as the Hulk in The Avengers, Iron Man 3 and Avengers: Age of Ultron.  Saldana was in Guardians of the Galaxy.  Amelia Stuart is the fictionalized version of writer and director Maya Forbes.  This film is based on her childhood in Cambridge, Mass and Imogene Wolodarsky is Forbes’ daughter.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Our Brand is Crisis 2015

     During the 2002 Bolivian presidential election, Pedro Gallo hires James Carville’s American political consulting firm, Greenberg Carville Shrum.  He needs the firm to help him raise the numbers in his campaign.  GCS hires Jane Bodine to manage Gallo’s campaign.  Pat Candy is a rival of Jane and he will be managing the campaign of another candidate Victor Rivera. 
     This movie has a lot of ups and downs.  There are lulls in scenes and then a mad race between campaign busses on a narrow mountain road.  Jane Bodine starts out in a real lull with altitude sickness and is constantly eating some kind of potato chip type food.   She originally doesn’t even like her candidate.   Thornton seems an ominous presence but he’s not given much to work with.  He just stands around spouting sentences.  This film does show that we might have a ‘better’ election system here but I’m not too sure about that this year!!!  2* (I didn’t like this movie)

107 min, Comedy directed by David Gordon Green with Sandra Bullock, Billy Bob Thornton, Anthony Mackie, Joaquim de Almeida, Ann Down, Scoot McNairy, Zoe Kazan, Dominic Flores, Reynaldo Pacheco, Louis Arcella.

Note:  Imdb 6.1 out of 10, 34% critic 37% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 2 ½*, Amazon 3.4* out of 5* with 249 reviews.
Special Note:  Filmed in Puerto Rico, La Paz, Bolivia and New Orleans, Louisiana.  There is a 2005 documentary with the same title with James Carville and a team of U.S. political consultants traveling to Bolivia to help Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada in his campaign for presidency.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Remember 2015

     Max Rosenbaum is living in a New York nursing home with Zev Guttman.  They remember each other from the Auschwitz concentration camp during WWII and they both have tattoo numbers on their arms.  Max convinces Zev that he can leave the home and track down four people with the name Rudy Kurlander living in the United States and Canada.  Rudy was known as Blockfuhrer Otto Wallisch and he was one of the Nazi guards in Aschwitz.  He was responsible for killing their families.  Zev has dementia and his memory comes and goes.  Max writes down everything Zev needs to do including buying a gun.   
     Zev believes he will recognize and remember the correct Rudy.  He does need to question them for find out more information before he makes his decision, live or die.  Zev seems to be able to get away with a lot because he is an elderly man?  There is a twist in the final scene that I didn’t see coming!  3 ½* (I liked this movie)

94 min, Drama directed by Atom Egoyan with Christopher Plummer, Dean Norris, Martin Landau, Jurgen Prochnow, Bruno Ganz, Henry Czerny, T.J. McGibbon, Peter DaCunha, Sofia Wells.

Note:  Imdb 7.3 out of 10, 70% critic 76% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 2 ½*, Amazon 4.5* out of 5* with 13 reviews
Special Note:  Filmed in Toronto, Alberta and Ontario, Canada.
Awards:  Calgary International Film Festival, Best Original Screenplay, Best Motion Picture, Best Actor for Plummer, Best Visual Effects.  Vancouver Film Critics Circle Awards Best Director of a Canadian Film, Best Actor in a Canadian Film for Plummer, Best Screenplay for a Canadian Film.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

The Godfather 1972

     This film was adapted from a novel written by Mario Puzo.  The setting is between 1945 and 1955.  Vito Corelone is hearing requests in his role as the Godfather, the Don of a New York crime family.  The occasion is the wedding of Vito’s daughter.  Michael is his youngest son and he introduces his girlfriend Kay Adams to his family.  One request for the Godfather is a movie role for Johnny Fontane, the godson of Vito.  His consigliore Tom Hagen is dispatched to California to discuss the movie role.  The Tattaglia crime family asks Don Corelone for an investment and protection for his narcotic business.  A refusal by the Godfather sets off open warfare.  Vito’s three sons fear for their safety and Vito is sent to the hospital with many gunshot wounds.  Michael has stayed out of the family business but he realizes he needs to accept the position of the Godfather in the place of Vito.
     There is a lot going on in this film.  I liked the plot and the characters.  There are squabbles among the Corelone family and more difficult problems between the other crime families.  You don’t know who will be killed in the next scene.  I didn’t watch this film before because I didn’t want to see one of the scenes with the Hollywood director who refused to give Johnny Fontane the film role.  4* (I really liked this movie)

175 min, Crime directed by Francis Ford Coppola with Marlon Brando, Al Pacino, James Caan, Richard S. Castellano, Sterling Hayden, John Marley, Richard Conte, Al Lettieri, Diane Keaton, Abe Vigoda, Talia Shire, Gianni Russo, John Cazale, Rudy Bond.

Note:  Imdb 9.2 out of 10, 99% critic 98% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 4*, Amazon 4.7* out of 5* with 1272 reviews.
Special Note:  Filmed in Forza d’Agro, Messina, Catania and Savoca, Sicily, Italy; New York City, Long Island, Bronx, Manhattan, New York; Jersey City, New Jersey; Las Vegas, Nevada; Los Angeles, Beverly Hills,  Ross, California.  The film technicians told James Caan that they had never attached that many squibs to anyone before.  Squibs replicate gunshots and hits.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Blue is the Warmest Color 2013

     This film is adapted from a novel by Julie Maroh.  Adele is 15 years old and a junior in high school, she’s attractive and she has a lot of friends.  She’s gone out with guys but she doesn’t know if this is what she wants.  She sees Emma, she has blue in her hair and for some reason Adele is hoping to see her again.  She does meet Emma again and they start to see each other.  Adele tells her parents that Emma is helping her with her philosophy studies.
      This is a different film in many ways, including the awards won.  Three hours is a long time to focus on just the two lead actresses.  Also, at its center is Adele maturing from 15 to 18 years old.  Adele is trying to get though high school and move on to a teaching job.  Emma has finished her education and she is trying to earn a living with her art.  There are many ways that Adele and Emma are unequal in their relationship.  Most scenes have the color blue in the forefront or background.  3 ½* (I liked this movie)

180 min, Drama directed by Abdellatif Kechiche with Lea Seydoux, Adele Exarchopoulos, Salim Kerchiouche, Aurelien Recoing, Catherine Salee, Benjamin Siksou, Mona Walravens, Alma Jodorowsky.

Note:  Imdb 7.8 out of 10, 90% critic 85% critic on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 3*, Amazon 4.1* out of 5* with 554 reviews.
Special Note:  First shown at Cannes, winner of a Palme d’Or and the FIPRESCI Prize.  It is the first film to receive a Palme d’Or for the director and the lead actresses.  Lea and Adele are the first women to have won the Palme d’Or.  Nominated for a Golden Globe and the BAFTA Award for Best Foreign Language Film.  Filmed in Lile, Roubaix and Lievin, France.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

The Martian 2015

     This film is based on a novel by Andy Weir.  NASA has sent a manned mission to Mars and the crew quickly leaves during an intense storm.  They believe Mark Watney is dead after an antenna strikes him and there is a no response signal from his space suit.  A piece of the antenna pierced his suit and went into his abdomen but he wakes up alive.  He is stranded and alone with meager supplies.  He is a botanist and he challenges the hostile planet to prevent him from growing food.  He sets up an indoor farm to grow potatoes and he has a great crop.  He must find a way to signal Earth that he is alive.  NASA and Mark rig up a way for him to communicate and they begin to prepare a probe that will send supplies to him before a rescue can reach him.  It becomes a complicated back and forth discussion.  Can they get supplies to him in time, should the crew of the Hermes spaceship return to get him and extend their mission?  Time is of the essence, Mars is far away and it will take time for any plan to reach Mark.
     The scenery is very unusual and the equipment left on Mars is complex.  It seems as if this adventure is really happening to Mark and everything is very interesting.  His methods of making what he has work for him are very good.  He feels he can’t give up and he needs to extend everything he has and make more of anything he can.  I didn’t expect this film to draw me into the story so well.  I thought this was just Matt Damon sitting on Mars and waiting?  4* (I really liked this movie)

144 min, Adventure directed by Ridley Scott with Matt Damon, Jessica Chastain, Kristen Wiig, Jeff Daniels, Michael Pena, Sean Bean, Kate Mara, Sebastian Stan, Aksel Hennie, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Benedict Wong, Mackenzie Davis, Donald Glover, Nick Mohammed, Shu Chen.

Note:  Imdb 8.1 out of 10, 92% critic 92% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 3 ½*, Amazon 4.5* out of 5* with 11,814 reviews.
Special Note:  Filmed in Wadi Rum, Jordan; Etyek, Budapest, Hungary; Johnson Space Center, Houston, Texas; Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California.  The text on the computer screen when the Hermes crew and Mark have their first conversation has a display like Mother, the computer on Alien of 1979 also directed by Ridley Scott.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Learning to Drive 2014

     Wendy works in New York as a book critic.  She is shocked when her husband Ted asks her for a divorce.  He feels she never listens to him and she looks right through him.  He has already moved on to another relationship.  Wendy has relied on Ted for a lot of things and she doesn’t know how to drive.  Darwan returned an envelope to her that she left in his cab and he gives her his card for driving lessons.  Darwan gives driving lessons during the day and he drives a cab at night.  He is a Sikh Indian and he is thinking about an arranged marriage.  The woman will be from India and someone he has never met in person.  Darwan is very patient and he is a calming force for Wendy when she is falling apart at the seams.
     I really enjoyed this film.  The characters draw you in and you see the expansive difference in the lives of Wendy and Darwan.  They console and offer helpful advice to each other about relationships.  Learning to drive strengthens Wendy in other aspects of her now single life.  4* (I really liked this movie)

90 min, Comedy directed by Isabel Coixet with Patricia Clarkson, Ben Kingsley, Grace Gummer, Sarita Choudhury, Avi Nash, Samantha Bee, Matt Salinger, John Hodgman, Michael Mantell, Daniela Lavender.

Note:  Imdb 6.4 out of 10, 66% critic 61% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 3*, Amazon 4.1* out of 5* with 271 reviews.
Special Note:  Filmed in New York.  Clarkson, Kingsley and Coixet also worked together on the film Elegy.  Choudhury has played the wife of the director of the CIA on Homeland.  There is also a movie of 2006 with the same title with Laura Linney and Rupert Grint.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

A Walk in the Woods 2015

     This film is based on a novel written by the real Bill Bryson published in 1998.  Bill Bryson is a writer and he should be enjoying his retirement.  Instead, he would like to walk the Appalachian Trail.  This is 2200 miles of rugged countryside from Georgia to Maine.  A lot of his friends don’t think they would like to join him on this trek?  He finally gets a former friend, Katz to agree to the trip.  Katz is a serial philanderer who is down on his luck.  He has always relied on his charm and wits to maintain one step ahead of spending time in jail.  Katz thinks this will be a good time to get away to opt out on some debts and a stretch in jail. 
      Bryson thought he was in shape but he knew Katz was not in shape.  When they are passed and left behind by a woman, the realization starts to hit.  Two young guys offer to take their packs across a river but they decline.  They held onto their pride but that was a mistake!!  This is like a male version of Wild from 2014 but Imdb gives Wild 7.2 out of 10 and it was about the Pacific Crest Trail.  3* (This movie is OK)

104 min, Adventure directed by Ken Kwapis with Robert Redford, Nick Nolte, Emma Thompson, Mary Steenburgen, Nick Offerman, Kristen Schaal, R. Keith Harris, Randall Newsome, Hayley Lovitt, Linds Edwards.

Note:  Imdb 6.3 out of 10, 45% critic 50% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 2 ½*, Amazon 3.7* out of 5* with 1808 reviews.
Special Note:  Filmed in Fontana Dam, North Carolina; Sharon, Connecticut; Buford, Georgia; Fredericksburg, Pennsylvania and McAfee Knob, Virginia.  Redford and Nolte previously worked together on The Company You Keep of 2012.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Wolf Totem 2015

    This film is based on a semi-autobiographical novel published in 2004 and written by Beijing professor Lu Jiamin under the pseudonym Jiang Rong.  The setting of this film is China of 1967.  Mao Aedong has launched the Cultural Revolution and millions of urban Chinese students are sent from Beijing into the countryside to educate the rural people.  Chen Zhen is sent to live among the nomadic herdsmen of Inner Mongolia.  The advance of civilization is catching up to the nomads from the south.  Their traditional enemies the wolves are pushing toward them from the north.  The nomads can relate to the struggle of the wolves to sustain themselves.  They share food resources in order to keep the wolves from their attacking their sheep and horses.  The wolves fascinate Chen Zhen and he wants to raise a cub despite the objections of the people surrounding him.
      Both the nomads and the wolves have a difficult life of struggling for shelter, taking care of the themselves and obtaining basic necessities.  This film required a lot of background preparation and it took seven years to complete.  The scenery is very beautiful but there are difficult scenes with the animals.  3 ½* (I liked this movie)

121 min, Adventure directed by Jean-Jacques Annaud with Shofeng Feng, Shawn Dou, Ankhnyam Ragchaa, Yin Ahusheng, Ba Sen Zha Bu, Baoyingexige, Tumenbayaer, Xilindule, Hai-Long Bao.

Note:  Imdb 6.6 out of 10, 71% critic 51% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Amazon 3.8* out of 5* with 34 reviews, Washington Post 2 ½*.
Special Note:  Filmed in Inner Mongolia, China.  Shaofeng Feng had a fall from his horse on the first day of filming.  He also was bitten or scratched by the wolves.  Producer Alan Wang and the film crew spent three years raising three generations of 35 Mongolian wolves.  Sixteen of the wolves and a dog stunt-double moved to Canada to live with their trainer Andrew Simpson after filming concluded.  Jean-Jacques Annaud also made Seven Years in Tibet of 1997.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Mrs. Palfrey at the Claremont 2005

    This film is based on a novel by Elizabeth Taylor (not the actress).  Sarah Palfrey had a long and happy marriage but now she is a widow.  She moves into a London residential hotel.  It doesn’t live up to its online description as lively and elegant.  It’s not at all lively and it is an old worn elegance.  She is hoping her grandson that lives in London will come by for visits and dinners.  On a walking trip to post a letter and pick up a library book for another resident, she falls and a young man invites her into his flat.  Ludovic tends to her injured knee and she invites him to come to dinner.  There is confusion at the Claremont and everyone thinks this is her grandson. 
     This is a good story with good characters.  Mrs. Palfrey is not a ‘hip’ grandmother, she acts and is her real age.  Ludovic finds inspiration in her life and he is able to write his first novel.  Many times a ‘family’ that is chosen can outshine real family!!  3 ½* (I liked this movie)

108 min, Comedy directed by Dan Ireland with Joan Plowright, Rupert Friend, Zoe Tapper, Robert Lang, Marcia Warren, Anna Massey, Georgina Hale, Millicent Martin, Michael Culkin, Emma Pike.

Note:  Imdb 7.7 out of 10, 71% critic 82% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 3*, Amazon 4.5* out of 5* with 927 reviews.
Special Note:  Filmed in Hampshire, London, Middlesex, England, UK.  Eighty year-old Ruth Sacks wrote the screenplay.  Rupert Friend plays Peter Quinn on Homeland.