Sunday, July 31, 2016

Star Wars: The Force Awakens 2015

     Thirty years have passed since the dark lord Darth Vader and the Empire were defeated by the Resistance.  Rey lives on the planet Jakku and she scavenges for parts she finds to trade for food portions.  Her family was taken away and she has been waiting for them to return for a long time.  Rey finds a BB-8 droid containing a map showing where to find Luke Skywalker.  The map is very valuable and the First Order sends storm troopers to Jakku to recover the droid.  Finn is a rogue storm trooper and he also lands on Jakku with pilot Poe Dameron.  Storm troopers capture Poe, Finn finds Rey and the droid, and they manage to escape in the Millennium Falcon.  Finn and Rey later meet up with Hans Solo and Chewbacca.  Hans and Chewbacca are surprised to see the Falcon again and operated by strangers.
     This is the second time I’ve seen this film, the first time was in the theater.  I could tell you can see a lot more details on the big screen.  I liked this film because it has scenes and characters that link it with the previous films.  Solo, Chewbacca, Leia, Skywalker and the Falcon return.  I was surprised about the casting of the successor to Darth Vader.  I thought the acting, the story, characters and special effects were good.   4* (I liked this movie)

136 min, Action directed by J.J. Abrams with Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Adam Driver, Lupta Nyong’o, Andy Serkis, Domhnall Gleeson, Anthon Daniels.

Note:  Imdb 8.2 out of 10, 92% critic 89% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Evert 3 ½*, 4.3* out of 5* with 8971 reviews.
Special Note:  Filmed in Skellig Michael, County Kerry, Ireland; Iceland; Greeham Common, Cumbria, Buckinghamshire, Gloucestershire, England, UK; Scotland; Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates; New Mexico, Santa Monica, California.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Battle of the Bulge 1965

     During the winter months of 1944, Allied Armies are preparing to invade Germany at the beginning of the New Year.  To deter this effort, Hitler orders an all out offensive to regain French territory and capture the major port city of Antwerp.  The conflict is shown from both sides of the war.  A German Panzer Commander and an American intelligence officer give their views.
     This film condenses a battle lasting nearly a month into 2 hours and 47 minutes.  The actual battle was the Ardennes Counteroffensive stretching across Germany, Belgium and Luxembourg.  A lot of the terrain for filming doesn’t resemble the actual locations and some events are re-organized in their date order.  There are a lot of historical inaccuracies so think of this as a Hollywood film.  The Allies were caught by surprise and that lead to many casualties.  I especially didn’t like the treatment of captured Allied troops by the Germans.  It was thought this would demoralize the troops but instead it gave them more drive and strength.  3* (This movie is OK)

167 min, Drama directed by Ken Annakin with Henry Fonda, Robert Shaw, Robert Ryan, Dana Andrews, George Montgomery, Ty Hardin, Pier Angeli, Barbara Werle, Charles Bronson, Hans Christian Blech, Werner Peters, James MacArthur, Karl-Otto Alberty, Telly Savalas, Steve Rowland.

Note:  Imdb 6.8 out of 10, 67% critic 68% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Amazon 4.1* out of 5* with 862 reviews.
Special Note:  Filmed in Sierra de Guardarrama mountain range, Madrid, Spain.  There are a lot of errors in saluting.  The enlisted are supposed to hold the salute until returned.  There is almost always a quick up/down in this film.  Former President Dwight D. Eisenhower came out of retirement and held a press conference to address the excessive inaccuracies.  There is an Overture and Intermission on the DVD.

Friday, July 29, 2016

Chisum 1970

     John Chisum is a rancher and one of the founders of the town of Lincoln County.  Lawrence Murphy moves to Lincoln and he starts taking over the local stores, the bank and land by questionable methods.  He raises the prices at the general store.  Chisum and his fellow rancher Henry Tunstall try to stay within the law and confront Murphy.  They learn quickly that Murphy also owns the law and makes the laws.  Pat Garret and Billy the Kid are living in Lincoln too.
     There was an actual Lincoln County War of 1878 in New Mexico Territory and it did involve Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid.  This film is loosely based on the actual events and characters but it has many historically inaccurate details.  I don’t know what the body count is but there are a lot of gun battles!!  In one standoff the Chisum side runs out of ammo and has to get more.  There is a battle over rustled horses and another over rustled cattle.  The brands are changed on the cattle to make it look like Murphy’s gang didn’t take the cattle.  They don’t mind a little murder too.  It takes a BIG horse to hold up John Wayne!!   3* (This movie is OK)

111 min, Western directed by Andrew V. McLaglen with John Wayne, Forrest Rucker, Christopher George, Ben Johnson, Glenn Corbett, Andrew Prine, Bruce Cabot, Patric Knowles, Richard Jaeckel, Lynda Day George, Geoffrey Deuel, Pamela McMyler, John Agar, Lloyd Battista.

Note:  Imdb 6.9 out of 10, 83% critic 74% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Amazon 4.6* out of 5* with 378 reviews.
Special Note:  Filmed in Durango, Mexico; Calabasas, California; Santa Fe, New Mexico, Sonoita and San Pedro River, Arizona.  The Chisum Ranch house is the same housed used in the popular John Wayne western, Big Jake of 1971.  Lynda Day met Christopher George during filming and they got married.  Wayne and Tucker used stunt doubles in a lengthy fistfight.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

The Stalking Moon 1968

     Sam Varner is a scout working for the U.S. Cavalry and he is retiring after his last trip.  He meets Sarah Carver and her son, Boy.  Sarah was kidnapped by Indians ten years ago and she wants to go back to the town were she lived before.  Sam decides to take them to a place where they can get a train ticket to go back to her home.  When they arrive at the station, there are a lot of connections and transfers to Topeka, Kansas and she still can’t get to where she really wants to go.  Sam knows she won’t be able to make this journey on her own and he invites her to come with him instead.  He has a ranch/farm in New Mexico and she can stay there with him until she decides what to do.  He has paid a man to live on the property and purchase cattle for a herd.
     Sam is taking on more than just the woman and her son.  He has a good heart but he could be killed?  The father of Boy is a much feared and murderous Apache named Salvaje.  He has already murdered everyone at a way station including Sam’s horse.  There are some very stressful scenes in this film with Salvaje.  There is special music in the background that makes the situation seem very tense.  3 ½* (I liked this movie)

109 min, Western directed by Robert Mulligan with Gregory Peck, Eva Marie Saint, Robert Forster, Noland Lay, Russell Thorson, Frank Silvera, Lonny Chapman, Lou Frizzell, Henry Beckman, Charles Tyner.

Note:  Imdb 6.8 out of 10, 59% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 2 ½*, Amazon 4.5* out of 5* with 187 reviews.
Special Note:  Filmed in Red Rock Canyon and Overton, Nevada; West Hollywood, California; Sonora, Mexico.  This film was released in 2010 as a collection of westerns with Ride the High Country, Pat Garrett and Billy the kid, Chisum.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Gunga Din 1939

    This film is loosely based on the poem by Rudyard Kipling.  The time period is during the Thuggee uprising in British India.  Three sergeants are very good together as a team until one of them decides to get married and leave the service.  The other two convince him into going on a final mission.  What they don’t know is that the British Army is entering a trap and they will need to confront an entire uprising by themselves.  Gunga Din was born in India but he works as a water carrier, he dreams of being a soldier and he fights along side the British.  The name Gunga is Hindu for the Ganges River and Din is Arabic for faith.
     The three lead characters are somewhat like the three musketeers but the setting is in India for the story.  Filmed by RKO Studio and this company was in the film business from 1929 until 1959.  Annie the elephant should be listed as one of the characters!!  She is a good actress!!  3* (This movie is OK)

117 min, Adventure directed by George Stevens with Cary Grant, Joan Fontaine, Victor McLaglen, Douglas Fairbanks Jr., Sam Jaffee, Eduardo Ciannelli, Montagu Love, Robert Coote, Abner Biberman, Lumsden Hare.

Note: Imdb 7.5 out of 10, 92% critic 74% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Amazon 4.7* out of 5* with 280 reviews, TCM Leonard Maltin 4* out of 4*, user ratings & review 4.66 out of 5.
Special Note:  Filmed in Lone Pine, Death Valley, Mt. Whitney, Los Angeles, California.  Why go on location when you can have a substitute for India in California?  This was one of the first movies to be given ‘colorization’ in the 1980’s. 

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Strike Back Season Two 2011

     British secret service MI6’s special operations Section 20 is sent to different countries in search of Latif, the Pakistani Al-Qaeda mastermind.  Latif is behind many crimes of terrorism and the originator of rogue threats to peace.  In episode 1, Sergeant Michael Stonebridge asks for help from former Delta Force operative Damien Scott.  Agent John Porter from Section 20 has been kidnapped.  Also, clues are uncovered about a possible terrorist attack on a New Delhi hotel.   Stonebridge has decided to take an assignment in Britain but he’s called in when Scott is taken prisoner because the operation failed.
     Okay, all you need to film a special ops operation for Cinemax are numerous nude scenes, burning cars, cover by darkness, many weapons and unlimited ammo!!  You don’t need a plot, that would be just extraneous and it requires extra work and thought.  It would just probably cost a lot more money and get in the way too?  I see by the reviews that a lot of people like this, it must be for the nonstop killing and action?  2 1/2* (This series is so-so)

45 min each episode, 450 min total, 5 discs, Action with Sullivan Stapleton, Philip Winchester, Michelle Lukes, Rhashan Stone.

Note:  Imdb 8.3 out of 10, 91% critic 89% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Amazon 4.6* out of 5* with 4393 reviews.
Special Note:  Titles for this season are Project Dawn #1 through 9.  Filmed in South Africa and Hungary.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Brooklyn 2015

     This film is based on a novel by Colm Toibin and the story takes place in 1951 and 1952.  Eilis Lacey is a young Irish girl of about 20 years old and she doesn’t see much promise for her life in Enniscorthy, County Wexford, Ireland.  She receives financial help, some from her sister, to immigrate to Brooklyn, New York.  Her days of passage on the ship are tough and filled with seasickness and doubts about her new life.  She is working as a salesgirl in a retail store and she lives in a boarding house.  The local priest Father Flood and the owner of the boarding school Mrs. Kehoe sponsor classes for her in bookkeeping at Brooklyn College.  Her sister Rose is a bookkeeper and Eilis knows she doesn’t want to spend her life in the store.  She meets Tony, he is an Italian-American plumber and he admires and respects her. 
     This is a very good movie, the story, the acting and the characters.  I liked the hairstyles, clothing and cars of the period plus the social customs.  The ideal life was marriage and children.  4 ½* (I really liked this movie)

111 min, Drama directed by John Crowley with Saoirse Ronan, Emory Cohen, Domhnall Gleeson, Eileen O’Higgins, Julie Walters, Jim Broadbent.

Note:  Imdb 7.5 out of 10, 97% critic 88% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Amazon 4.5* out of 5* with 1952 reviews, Metacritic 87 out of 100, 8.0 out of 10 user score.
Special Note:  Filmed in Brooklyn, Coney Island, New York; Dublin, County Wexford, Ireland; Montreal, Quebec, Canada.  Awards received are Academy Award Best Picture, Best Actress, Best Writing, BAFTA Best Actress, AACTA Best Actress, British Independent Best Supporting Actor, BAFTA Best Actress Supporting, BAFTA Best Adapted Screenplay, Golden Globe Best Actress, British Independent Best Screenplay.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

The Intern 2015

     Jules Ostin has created and she is running an e-commerce fashion site called About the Fit.  She hires 70-year-old Ben Whittacker as an intern for the Senior Program.  He has discovered that retirement is not all he thought it would be and he misses his wife who passed away.  Ben used to work in the same building that was renovated for About the Fit.  In his day, it was used for making phone books and most people don’t use them these days.  Ben wants to help and be of service to Jules but she is distrustful of anyone too observant of her business model.  Ben fills in for Jules’ driver and he does a good job.  She worries about the over observant business and has him transferred to another job.  When a woman driver on her first day almost gets into an accident, Jules is very ready for Ben to come back to drive. 
     A lot of times I didn’t think this was a comedy but more of a drama?  I thought this was interesting and good with a believable and smooth running storyline.  The characters draw you in and you want the best for them.  There are ups and downs just like in life!!  3 ½* (I liked this movie)

121 min, Comedy directed by Nancy Meyers with Robert De Niro, Anne Hathaway, Rene Russo, Anders Holm JoJo Kushner, Andrew Rannells, Adam DeVine, Zack Pearlman, Jason Orley, Christina Scherer, Nat Wolff.

Note:  Imdb 7.2 out of 10, 62% critic 74% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 3*, Amazon 4.5* out of 5* with 7345 reviews.
Special Note:  Adam DeVine and Anders Holm star together in the show Workaholics.  Filmed in Cheever Place, Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn, New York.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Murder in Suburbia

     Various murders occur in the fictional English suburb of Middleford, located outside of London.  Detective Inspector Kate Ashurst (Ash) and Detective Sergeant Emma Scribbins (Scribbs) are assigned to solving these crimes.  The team claims the cases are usually because of love or money. 
     Ash and Scribbs do well on their crime solving but both have been unlucky in love.  The men don’t want to date detectives or they get tired of their one-note conversations.  The cases are interesting and not that easy to solve by viewers.  There is more humor and less body count in this series than some of the other British crime shows.  They didn’t make me fell stressed and with situations still sticking in my mind!!  3 1/2* (I liked this series)

60 min each episode, Crime created by Nick Collins with Caroline Catz, Lisa Faulkner, Jeremy Sheffield, Glen Davies, Stuart Nurse.

Note:  Imdb 7.2 out of 10, Amazon 3.8* out of 5* with 177 reviews.
Special Note:  Filmed in Borehamwood and St Albans, Hertfordshire, England, UK.  Catz and Faulkner considered swapping their characters.  Compared to the US, the UK doesn’t have as many murders and the officers don't carry guns unless needed for a special operation.  Usually a large team is on the case and led by senior police officers.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Secret in Their Eyes 2015

     The story in this film takes place in 2002 and 2015.  Ray Kasten and Jess Cooper are members of a private police unit investigation lead by the District Attorney.  They have been using constant surveillance on a Mosque with suspected terriorists.  They receive a tip about a girl being killed near the Mosque.  Ray and Jess respond along with their team.  Ray is horrified to see that the victim is Carolyn Cobb and she is the daughter of Jess Cooper.  Both Ray and Jess fall apart when they see her body.  They try to track down the killer but there is a problem because of the surveillance on the Mosque and it could impact National Security.  Ray, Jess and Claire Sloan never recover from the crime.  Thirteen years later in 2015, Ray comes back to LA and he convinces the DA to reopen the case because he has found a new lead to the killer.
     It’s a little difficult to keep up with the back and forth between 2002 and 2015.  I had to look at Ray’s hair, it is dark in 2002 and it has gray in 2015.  There is a surprise in the ending that I didn’t see coming?  Sometimes star power doesn’t elevate a film but can bring more viewers.  Personally, I thought the film from Argentina, The Secret in Their Eyes 2009 was much better than this updated English version.  Reviews agree with me on the Argentina film, Imdb 8.2 out of 10, 91% critic 93% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 4*, Amazon 4.6* out of 5* with 393 reviews.  2* (This movie is so-so)

111 min, Crime directed by Billy Ray with Chiwetel Ejiofor, Nichole Kidman, Julia Roberts, Dean Norris, Alfred Molina, Joe Cole, Michael Kelly, Zoe Graham, Patrick Davis, Eileen Fogarty, Lyndon Smith.

Note:  Imdb 6.2 out of 10, 39% critic 42% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 1 ½*, Amazon 3.8* out of 5* with 159 reviews.
Special Note:  Filmed in Los Angeles, Pasadena and Arcadia, California.  In the movie Monte Carlo of 2011, Roberts and Kidman were scheduled to star together but the roles were recast with younger leads. 

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Trumbo 2015

     This story takes place in 1947, Dalton Trumbo was a Hollywood screenwriter and he was at the top of his career.  The House Un-American Activities panel questioned Tumbo and nine other artists about their membership in the Communist Party.  They were labeled the Hollywood Ten and a result of their testimony several were sent to Federal Prison for contempt of Congress.  Trumbo was sent to Ashland, Kentucky for ten months and he paid a $1000 fine.  Congress was not the creator of the blacklist, that was done by Hollywood studio chiefs.
      Other artists in Hollywood named others in the party and didn’t go to prison but some didn’t work for a year or more.  Trumbo went on to win two Academy Awards for best screenplay under assumed names because he was on the blacklist.  The problem with this movie is that nothing is addressed about why these people were members of the Communist Party and as a result what did they do for the Party?  3 1/2* (I liked this movie)

124 min, Bio directed by Jay Roach with Bryan Cranston, Diane Lane, Helen Mirren, Michael Stuhlbarg, David Maldonado, John Getz, David James Elliott, Madison Wolfe, Elle Fanning, Louis C.K.

Note:  Imdb 7.5 out of 10, 75% critic 80% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 2 1/2*, Amazon 4.5* out of 5* with 3198.
Special Note:  There is a mistake in the Roman numeral for 2015 in the opening credits.  MCMXI is shown and that is 1911.  The correct number is MMXV for 2015.  Edward G. Robinson is shown giving already known names but it real life he did not.  John Wayne claimed to be an American hero but he did not serve in the military during WWII and Korea.  Many on the blacklist had served.  Columnist Hedda Hopper turns out to have been a blackmailer.  Eventually 300 artists were boycotted by Hollywood.  Only about 10% were able to rebuild their careers.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Cedar Cove Season 2 2013

      This series is based on novels written by Debbie Macomber.  Judge Olivia Lockhart lives in the coastal town of Cedar Cove, Washington.  She is divorced and she has an adult daughter, Justine.  She does her best to balance her job and her home life.  She spends a lot of time helping her friends with their problems.
       It could be a full-time job for Olivia to help her friends!!  They have numerous, ongoing and new problems all the time!!  I’m not sure the people who live here can really afford the huge houses they are living in?  There are many complications in every episode.  There is always a cliffhanger waiting in the wings!!  Shall I say that is a real soap opera?  YES!!  3 1/2* (I liked this series) 
42 min, each episode, Drama with Andie MacDowell, Dylan Neal, Sarah Smyth, Teryl Rothery, Timothy Webber, Brennan Elliott, Bruce Boxleitner, Barbara Niven, Corey Sevier, Paula Shaw.

Note:  Imdb 6.8 out of 10, Amazon 4.8* out of 5* with 259 reviews.
Special Note:  This is the first series from the Hallmark Channel.  Season Two titles are Letting Go Parts One and Two, Relations and Relationships, Old Wounds, Starting Over, Trials and Tribulations, One Day at a Time, Something Wicked This Way Comes, Point of No Return, Secrets and Lies, Stand and Deliver, Resolutions and Revelations.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Hit Man 47 2015

     Agent 47 is an elite assassin genetically engineered from conception to be the perfect killing machine.  He has a barcode tattooed on the back of his head and the last two numbers identify him as 47.  Decades of research have gone into his creation and there are 46 other clones that were made before him.  He has strength, speed, stamina, intelligence and grit.  His current assignment is to locate the daughter of the man who initiated the clone program and he is not the only one looking for her.  Another corporation would like to restart this clone program to engineer even better clones than 47. 
     This film is based on a popular video game.  Supposedly there is a lot more discretion, finesse, elegance required to play the game?  If you do not blend in but you engage with other people except the target, you are not playing this game properly.  There is LOTS of engagement with targets in this film.  Maybe to say constantly would not be a stretch?  The only way to get anything from this film is to concentrate on the the central characters and make them into human people instead of machines?  How could consequences or events happening to machines engage interest?  2 ½* (This movie is so-so)

96 min, Action directed by Aleksander Bach with Rupert Friend, Hannah Ware, Zachary Quinto, Ciaran Hinds, Thomas Kretschmann, Emilio Rivera.

Note:  Imdb 5.7 out of 10, 8% critic 41% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 1*, Amazon 3.9* out of 5* with 923 reviews.
Special Note:  After a helicopter blows up the cars on the main road are shown driving on the right side.  The scene is supposed to be in Singapore and they drive on the left side?  Rupert Friend played Peter Quinn on Homeland. 

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Grace and Frankie: Season One 2015

     This series originally streamed on Netflix starting May 8, 2015.  Grace is married to Robert and Frankie is married to Sol.  Robert and Sol are partners as San Diego divorce lawyers.  The two couples have purchased a beach cottage together and they have their individual homes.  Grace had her own cosmetics company but she gave the business to her daughter Mallory.  She decided she wanted to spend more time at home.  Frankie is an art teacher to former convicts and she has a studio in the beach cottage.  In the first episode, their lives and marriages are torn apart when Robert and Sol announce they want divorces so they can marry each other!!
     There is a limited scope to the story and the eight main characters.  Only so much can be happening with the couples, families and problems?  What if the two lead female actresses played against type and Grace was the artist and Frankie the businesswoman.  It seems Fonda is usually refined and Tomlin is a hippie in the roles they normally play?  3 1/2* (I liked this series)

30 min, 377 min total, TV series, 13 episodes, created by Marta Kauffman and Howard J. Morris with Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin, Martin Sheen, Sam Waterston, Brooklyn Decker, Ethan Embry, June Diane Raphael, Baron Vaughn.
Special Note:  Episode titles are The End, The Credit Cards, The Dinner, The Funeral, The Fall, The Earthquake, The Spelling Bee, The Sex, The Invitation, The Elevator, The Secrets, The Bachelor Party, The Vows.

Note:  Imdb 8.2 out of 10, 72% critic 88% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Amazon 4.7* out of 5* with 113 reviews.
Special Note:  There was a bit of an upset when it was revealed that Sheen and Waterston were paid more money than Fonda and Tomlin!!  Fonda and Tomlin said they were OK with the salary figures but I wonder if they really were or they didn't want to cause upsets?

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Effie Gray 2014

     This screenplay is written by Emma Thompson and it’s based on a real-life scandal that shocked Victorian era England.  Euphemia Gray married art historian and critic John Ruskin on April 10, 1848.  She was 19 years old at the time of their marriage.  In the beginning, Effie is very happy and she has big plans for taking care of John.  They move into the family home at 31 Park Street, Mayfair, John’s parents and their housekeeper also live in the home.  Right away, Effie is informed that it is beneath her station to do any of the household jobs, even sewing or mending.  John’s mother seems to be constantly ready to belittle her son’s new wife.  Effie has no friends, no family and she begins to become weak, ill, losing her hair and listless in her loveless marriage.  She meets Lady Elizabeth Eastlake and she finally has someone to really talk with.  Lady Eastlake may also have a solution to Effie's problems?
     It must have only been because of the social mores of this period that John Ruskin married.  It seems it didn’t matter who the person was that he married, he could now say that he was married.  He didn’t want any children and he didn’t really need or want a wife.  He was perfectly content to continue his life in the same manner as before his marriage.  Effie was like an unread book or a lamp never turned on.  His parents didn’t have any relationship or feelings for Effie either, only for social decorum.  She meant nothing to them.  No wonder she started to have mental and physical difficulties in her constant isolation?  I had real sympathy for Effie because of her limited life and choices.  3* (This movie is OK)

104 min, Drama directed by Richard Laxton with Emma Thompson, Dakota Fanning, Greg Wise, Tom Sturridge, Polly Dartford, Tom Herriott, Sam Churchill, Martin Keatman, Chis Haggart, Alex Best.

Note:  Imdb 5.9 out of 10, 43% critic 38% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 2 ½*, Amazon 3.4* out of 5* with 80 reviews.
Special Note:  Filmed in Buckinghamshire, Middlesex, London, England, UK; Scotland and Venice, Italy.  The real Effie Gray was from Perth, Scotland.  The film Mr. Turner includes the nineteenth century art critic John Ruskin.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Victor Frankenstein 2015

     This film is a twist on the Frankenstein story adapted from Mary Shelley’s 1818 novel.  It features Victor and Igor working together to create a man with immortality.  They start out with a monkey type of creature but they need to dispatch this experiment because it turns out to be very ugly in it’s demeanor!!  Victor is expelled from college for his unorthodox methods but he obtains backing for his latest experiment from another classmate, Finnegan.  Victor’s lab is raided and his latest creation of a man is nearly destroyed.  Victor moves to Finnegan’s family estate in Scotland.  Igor tries to pursue Victor not to animate his man creation.
      There is a different perspective to this film in that it is told from the view of Igor.  I didn't know any of his background or life before meeting Victor.  McAvoy has really captured the crazed look in his eyes to this role!!  He also manages to get two large estates destroyed!!  I can only say that this is a CRAZY film and cannot be taken too seriously!!   
111 min, Drama directed by Paul McGuigan with Daniel Radcliffe, James McAvoy, Jessica Brown Findlay, Daniel Mays, Spencer Wilding, Robin Pearce, Andrew Scott, Callum Turner, Di Botcher.
Note:  Imdb 6.0 out of 10, 24% critic 36% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 1 1/2*, Amazon 3.6* out of 5* with 544 reviews.
Special Note:  Filmed in Greater Manchester, London, Hertfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Surrey, Middlesex, Kent, England, UK and Aberdeenshire, Scotland.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Bridal Wave 2015

     Dr. Phillip Hamilton is a plastic surgeon specializing in nose jobs, ear pinning and neck problems.  Technically this is rhinoplasty, otoplasty and a neck lift.  His nurse is Georgie Dwyer and they are getting married.  Georgie has started to get nervous and she has one cold foot.  Her mother-in-law to be doesn’t think very much of Georgie and she’s difficult to get along with.  Georgie stops into a convenience store to get some headache medication and there is only one bottle left.  Luke Griggs has just walked out on a job and he's in the store to buy the medication too.  They decide they will split the bottle and that will solve both of their problems.  Later, they seem to keep running into each other at the wedding location.
     This is a good movie to watch on a rainy day or a hot day, a day when you don’t want to be outside.  You can do other things while you watch because you don’t need to pay a lot of attention to get every detail.  Pleasant light comedy and it's a Hallmark Movie.  3* (This movie is OK) 

84 min, TV movie directed by Michael Scott with Arielle Kebbel, Andrew W. Walker, David Haydn-Jones, Colleen Wheeler, Anna Van Hooft, Daryl Shuttleworth, Jaclyn Smith.

Note:  Imdb 6.6 out of 10, 35% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, 1* out of 5* on Letterboxd. 
Special Note:  Filmed in British Columbia, Canada.  Kebbel and Walker were also together in the film A Bride for Christmas.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Coming Home 2014

     This film is adapted from The Criminal Lu Yanshi written by Geling Yan and the time period is the last days of the Cultural Revolution in China.  The Revolution lasted from 1966 until 1976.  Lu Yanshi and Feng Wanyu are a couple with a daughter Dandan.  Lu is arrested and sent to a reeducation labor camp.  He breaks out of the camp ten years later, Feng and Dandan are warned not to have any contact with him.  Dandan loses the lead-dancing role in a school program because of this incident even though she was the better performer.  Lu asks Feng to come to the train station to meet him.  She goes there but policemen begin chasing Lu and they only get to see each other briefly.  Lu is released but Feng doesn’t recognize him.  She suffered a fall at the train station and now she has amnesia.  She goes every day to the station to look for Lu.
     There is a lot going on in the background because of the political persecutions of this time period.  The reason Lu was arrested isn’t given but it could be a minor incident or nothing he actually did.  Every day Feng is waiting and looking for Lu but he is living right across the street and she thinks he is someone else.   She doesn’t remember a lot of things because there are notes telling her to turn off the lights and lock the door.  This has a slow pace but it is interesting.  3 ½* (I liked this movie)
109 min, Drama directed by Yimou Zhang with Li Gong, Daoming Chen, Huiwen Zhang, Tao Guo, Ni Yan, Chun Li, Jia-yi Zhang, Peiqi Liu, Jiali Ding, Bai Qing Xin, Fen Zu, Xiaoyi Chen.

Note:  Imdb 7.3 out of 10, 92% critic 86% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 3 ½*, Amazon 4.4* out of 5* with 16 reviews.
Special Note:  Filmed in Beijing China.  There is little information about the Cultural Revolution because a film including this will never be released from China.  Only books can portray what happened to the people and the country.  Mao Zedong, the Chairman of the Communist Party believed bourgeois elements had infiltrated the government and society to restore capitalism.  The movement involved the youth, military urban workers and the Party leadership.  Many senior officials were purged and there was a massive struggle between all classes of society.  This film won the Golden Lotus for best movie in 2014. 

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

The Big Short 2015

     This film is based on a book with the same title and it shows three stories of the U.S. mortgage-housing crisis of 2007-10.  Michael Burry is a genius at numbers but not at people pleasing.  He operates Scion Capital as a hedge fund manager.  He is sure the US housing market is built on a bubble that will burst within the next few years.  He does what he knows how to do, in 2005 he bets against the market with as much money as he has at his disposal.  All the banks are happy to do business with him and they think he is delusional.  Jared Vennett hears about Michael Burry and he decides to get into the game.  Mark Baum gets this information accidentally and he gets into the action.  Ben Rickert is also involved and he is a former master trader but he left trading because of disgust over ethics.
     Banking became the top industry in the United States and the banks turned more and more greedy.  Their entire aim was to make the rich richer and pull the wool over the eyes of the little guy.  Home ownership was the big carrot and how you got the house and what you could pay didn’t matter.  If you were breathing, you could get a loan.  I had a difficult time keeping interesting in all the fast-talking and numbers? 

130 min, Bio directed by Adam McKay with Christian Bale, Brad Pitt, Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling, Karen Gillan, Marisa Tomei, John Magaro, Finn Wittrock, Hamish Linklater, Rafe Spall, Jeremy Strong, Adepero Oduye.

Note:  Imdb 7.8 out of 10, 88% critic 88% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 3 ½*, Amazon 4.4* out of 5* with 2552 reviews.
Special Note:  In his role as Dr. Michael Burry, Christian Bale wore Burry’s cargo shorts and t-shirt. 

Monday, July 11, 2016

Carol 2015

     This film is an adaptation written by Phyllis Nagy based on Patricia Highsmith’s novel, The Price of Salt.  The setting is New York of the 1950’s.  Therese Belivet is in her 20’s and working Christmas of 1952 as a clerk in a Manhattan’s Frakenberg Department Store.  She helps Carol Aird order a train set for her daughter’s Christmas gift.  Carol is married to Harge Aird and she is trying to break from her marriage.  They are a wealthy couple and they have a young daughter Rindy.  Harge uses Rindy as a pawn to end the marriage and take Rindy from her mother. 
     Cate Blanchett is stunning in her role as Carol Aird.  She gleams, glows, shines and you can’t take your eyes off of her.  The acting by Cate and Roonie is very good and believable.  I liked the story, vintage cars, clothing, mannerisms and hairstyles.  4 ½* (I really liked this movie) 

118 min, Drama directed by Todd Haynes with Cate Blanchett, Rooney Mara, Sarah Paulson, Kyle Chandler, Jake Lacy, John Magaro, Cory Michael Smith, Kevin Crowley, Nik Pajic, Carrie Brownstein, Sadie Heim.

Note:  Imdb 7.3 out of 10, 94% critic 73% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 3 ½*, Amazon 4.3* out of 5* with 721 reviews.
Special Note:  This film won six Academy Awards, five Golden Globe Award nominations, nine BAFTA Award nominations, awards from the New York Film Critic Circle, Los Angeles Film Critic Association.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Come to the Stable 1949

     This film is based on a short story written by Clare Booth Luce, she was the wife of Henry Luce and he was the owner of Luce Publications.  Clare Booth Luce was also a playwright and Republican Congresswoman.  Sister Margaret and Sister Scholastica travel after WWII from a French convent to a small New England town.  Sister Margaret is American and Sister Scholastica is French.  They have a plan to build a children’s hospital.  They have limited funds and they don’t know anyone in this area.  They receive help on their project from a popular composer, Robert Masen, a struggling artist, Amelia Potts and Luigi Rossi, a well-known racketeer.
     The sisters made a solemn vow during the war when their hospital was spared destruction by advancing forces because of prayer to St. Jude.  They believe they can honor the answer to their prayer by establishing a hospital in Bethlehem, Connecticut.  They have chosen this location because of a woman in this town and her beautiful religious paintings.  She is Amelia Potts.  This endeavor is not an easy task because there is some opposition from a neighbor over the building project along with financing, obtaining land and the actual building project.  This was a different era in time with values, decency, kindness and respect for other people.  3 ½* (I liked this movie)

94 min, Drama directed by Henry Koster with Loretta young, Celeste Holm, Hugh Marlowe, Elsa Lanchester, Thomas Gomez, Dorothy Patrick.

Note:  Imdb 7.3 out of 10, 78% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Amazon 4.7* out of 5* with 211 reviews.
Special Note:  Filmed at Stage 14, 20th Century Fox Studios, Century City, Los Angeles, California.  The scenes look like they were filmed in New England and not in a film studio?  Irene Dunne and Rosalind Russell were also considered for a role of Sister Margaret in this film.  It was important to the filmmakers for the actresses for both of the roles of the Sisters be Catholic in real life.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Jackie & Ryan 2014

     Ryan has all his belongings except his guitar in his backpack.  He rides trains from place to place and he’s hoping to become a successful musician.  Jackie is not paying attention and crossing the street as she checks her cell phone.  A pickup almost hits her and Ryan comes to her aid.  She has a good scrape on her knee but otherwise she’s OK.  When Ryan turns around, all his things including his guitar are gone.  Jackie invites him over for dinner to thank him for his kindness.
     A lot of information is left out of this film.  Why is Jackie getting a divorce from her husband in New York?  Why is he fighting the divorce and threatening to ask for full custody of their daughter Lia.  If Jackie had a successful musical career, why is she living poor in Utah?  I can’t answer any of those questions from what I saw?  3* (This movie is OK)

90 min, Drama directed by Ami Canaan Mann with Katherine Heigl, Ben Barnes, Clea DuVall, Emily Alyn Lind, Sheryl Lee, Ryan Bingham, Jeffrey Hanson, Adam Dietlein, Terence Goodman, Duane Stephens.

Note:  Imdb 5.8 out of 10, 62% critic 41% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 2*, Amazon 3.9* out of 5* with 124 reviews.
Special Note:  Filmed in Ogden, Salt Lake City, Utah.  Director Ami Canaan Mann has worked previously with Sheryl Lee on Texas Killing Fields of 2011.

Friday, July 8, 2016

Son in Law 1993

     Rebecca Warner lives on a farm in South Dakota and she has decided she wants to go to college in California.  When she arrives, she meets Crawl and he a perpetual student.  Right away, Rebecca decides she’s made a mistake.  This is all to much for her and she wants to go back home but Crawl talks her out of going.  She learns he doesn’t have anywhere to go for Thanksgiving and she invites him to her family farm.
     A lot of complications arise when everyone at home meets Crawl!!  Rebecca doesn't look like the person they took to college too!!  Crawl is a nickname and he's not used to being on a farm.  He wants to help out but he doesn’t know how to do anything!!  There is a LOT going on in this film.  3* (This movie is OK)
95 min, Comedy directed by Steve Rash with Pauly Shore, Carla Gugino, Lane Smith, Cindy Pickett, Mason Adams, Patrick Renna, Dennis Burkley, Tiffani-Amber Thiessen, Dan Gauthier, Ria Pavia, Lisa Lawrence.

Note:  Imdb 5.6 out of 10, 22% critic 58% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 2*, Amazon 4.5* out of 5* with 346 reviews.

Special Note:  Filmed in Visalia, Wasco, Baldwin Park and California State University Northridge, California.  Ashley Judd auditioned for the role of Rebecca.  This film is called a FOW movie.  FOW means fish out of water for the plot.  Pauly Shore is a stand-up comic and in 1990 his MTV show Totally Pauly became a hit with a lot of fans.  He had a one-hour HBO special and he has been in films from 1987 through 2016.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

The Hateful Eight 2015

     After the Civil War, a stagecoach with six horses and two passengers travels through the snowy Wyoming countryside.  Bounty hunter John Ruth is taking Daisy Domergue to Red Rock where she will be hanged.  Along the road, they encounter Major Marquis Warren and he is stranded after his horse dies.  They give him a ride after much persuasion.  They also meet up with Chris Mannix and he claims to be the new sheriff of Red Rock.  The group stops at Minnie’s Haberdashery to get out of a snow blizzard right behind them.  Bob claims he’s taking care of the place in Minnie’s absence, Oswaldo Mobray says he’s the hangman of Red Rock, Joe Gage is a cowpuncher and elderly Sanford Smithers is a former Confederate General.
     This is a LONG movie and it’s filled with a lot of talking, killing, blood and nailing the door shut.  That sums up the action.  The scenery is nice with wide vistas.  There is a racial slur mentioned over and over.  Fifty theaters were retrofitted with projectors to display Ultra Panavision 70.  The film was released on 12/25/15 as a road show presentation in the analog film format theaters.  Later there was a wide release in digital theaters.  2 ½* (This movie is so-so)

3 hours 7 min, Crime directed by Quentin Tarantino with Samuel L. Jackson, Kurt Russell, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Walton Goggins, Demian Bichir, Tim Roth, Michael Madsen, Bruce Dern, James Parks.

Note:  Imdb 7.9 out of 10, 75% critic 76% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 2*, Amazon 3.3* out of 5* with 1902 reviews.
Special Note:  Filmed in Los Angeles, Telluride, California and San Miguel Mountains, Colorado.  The script was leaked online and Tarantino didn’t want to make the film.  There was a short reading of the script in LA and Jackson convinced him to make the picture.