Wednesday, October 18, 2017

The Last Kiss 2006


     This film is a remake of Gabriele Muccino’s comedy drama L’Ultimo Bacio.  Michael and Jenna have been a couple for three years.  They have started talking about getting married and having a family.  Later, Jenna tells Michael she’s pregnant and they learn from an ultrasound that they are having a girl.  Michael starts to get worried about his life all planned out and this life as a young man is over.  He meets Kim at a friend’s wedding and he starts to feel alive again.  He looks at the people around him and none of their relationships are happy or stable.  Michael’s friend Chris is thinking about leaving his wife even thought they have an infant son.  Chris feels they are not getting along at all and he doesn’t see this changing.  Even Jenna’s parents are recently separated because of their marriage problems.
      Michael has a severe case of cold feet.  If he’s not careful he will leave behind Jenna and their baby before they have even started a life together?  Jenna’s dad is a psychologist or psychiatrist and he can’t keep his own marriage together?  What is that saying to Michael?  Chris has a baby and he’s leaving because he can’t do anything right?  3 ½* (I liked this movie)    

104 min, Drama directed by Tony Goldwyn with Zach Braff, Jacinda Barrett, Rachel Bilson, Casey Affleck, Michael Weston, Eric Christian Olsen, Marley Shelton, Lauren Lee Smith, Harold Ramis, Blythe Danner, Tom Wilkinson, David Haydn-Jones.

Note:  Imdb 6.5 out of 10, 45% critic 59% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Metacritic 57 out of 100 with 27 critics 5.2 out of 10 with 63 reviews, Amazon 3.8* out of 5* with 124 reviews.
Special Note:  Filmed in Saint-Lambert and Montreal, Quebec, Canada; Madison, Wisconsin.  Originally Rachel McAdams was cast as Jenna but she had other commitments.  This is the first film for Rachel Bilson.  This film was shipped to theaters under the code name French.  There is another film with the same title from 2002.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Secrets of the Manor House 2012


     This series is based on a book Hilary Brown.  Each episode concentrates on the history of two houses in Britain during the Edwardian age.  Maderson located in Berwickshire and Dunham located in Greater Manchester.  Aristocratic families owned them but the houses passed on during modern times need a current function.  They can be a tourist attraction or the setting for a movie or TV drama.  The impact of WWI on the British social-class system and the influence of American wealth changed the history of these manors.  Many of the officers in WWI came from the aristocrats but the military ranks were filled with the working class.  Fighting the enemy side by side changed this class system.  British landholders marrying wealthy American women brought changes as well.
     The popular long running series Downton Abbey from 2011-2016 and another earlier series Upstairs Downstairs from 1971-1977, 2010 and 2012 sparked renewed interest in the British class system, their homes and their way of life.  They are basically soap operas with a lot of gossip and many ups and downs.  The class system involved hereditary transferring of property, occupation, social status and influence.  Industrialization caused constant revision of the classes and the addition of new factors such as education as identity.  Until recently Parliament was the upper class and the House of Commons was everyone else.  The British monarch is viewed as the top of the social class structure.  WWII also changed the class system with education more available and more home ownership.  There are more service jobs, more immigration and a change in the status of women.  3 ½* (I liked this series)

55 min each episode, 5 episodes, Doc TV Series by PBS, narrated by Samuel West, directed by Susannah Ward with Elisabeth Kehoe, Geoffrey Dymond,Mary Gledhill, Julie Herbert, Matthew Hughes, Lawrence James, John Norman Ide Leslie, Tarka Leslie-King, Loraine McMurrey, Adrian Palmer, Lady Palmer, Sarah Richardson.

Note:  Imdb 8.0 out of 10, Amazon 4* out of 5* with 33 reviews, PBS
Special Note:  Also titled in Sweden as Slottens Hemligheter.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Priceless 2016


     James tragically loses his wife and he falls into depression.  He also lost custody of his daughter and James’ mother is caring for her.  He agrees to drive a small box truck across country.  He doesn’t care what he’s picking up, just that it’s not drugs.  He’s making this a quick run and he falls asleep at the wheel.  The truck runs off the road but there is just minor damage.  He hears crying when he goes to the back of the truck.  He uses a rock to remove the lock and he discovers two young sisters from Mexico are in the truck.  James knows he’s been conned into human trafficking.  He takes them to a rest stop to get cleaned up, buys them each dresses and they get burgers.  He asks them to ride in the cab with him.  They are being sent to New Mexico in payment for their father’s debt.
     Everything changes about this trip for James when finds Antonia and Maria.  He doesn’t know where they are going but he soon learns when the girls are picked up.  There is a large crime ring operating in this city and there are dirty cops in on the action.  James meets Dale and they start working together to get Antonia and Maria back.  3 ½* (I liked this movie)

97 min, Crime directed by Ben Smallbone with Joel Smallbone, Bianca A. Santos, David Koechner, Jim Parrack, Amber Midthunder, Travis Hammer, Luce Rains, Sarah Minnich, Sierra Rose Smith, Ines France Ware, Cru Ennis, Jodi Lynn Thomas.

Note:  Imdb 6.0 out of 10, 78% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 1 ½*, Amazon 4.6* out of 5* with 315 reviews, www.pluggedin.com 4* out of 5*, Metacritic 41 out of 100 with 4 critics.
Special Note:  Filmed in Albuquerque, New Mexico.  Ben and Joel Smallbone are brothers and they are from Australia.  Ben has previously filmed documentaries, ads, music videos and shorts.  Another brother Luke and their father David are producers.  Joel Smallbone is the co-lead singer of the band For King & Country.  The song Priceless by King & Country was the inspiration for the Priceless movement including a book and this film.  This movie was filmed in 17 days. 

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Swimming Pool 2003


     John Bosload is a London publisher and he has been working with British mystery writer Sarah Morton.  John suggests that Sarah spend some time at his villa in France.  She’s feeling burned out and tired of London plus she needs inspiration.  Sarah travels to the South of France and she really begins to write again.  John’s daughter shows up at the villa and they are like wine and water at first but then they start to get along. 
     There are some twists in this film.  Even at the end, you are not sure what was real in the scenes and what was from the new novel?  The scenery is beautiful in this part of France.    

102 min, Crime directed by Francois Ozon with Charlotte Rampling, Charles Dance, Ludivine Sagnier, Jean-Marie Lamour, Marc Fayolle, Mireille Mosse, Michel Fau, Jean-Claude Lecas, Emile Gavois-Kahn, Lauren Farrow, Sebastian Harcombe, Frances Cuka, Keith Yeates.

Note:  Imdb 6.8 out of 10, 84% critic 67% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 3*, Amazon 3.9* out of 5* with 379 reviews, slantmagazine 2.5* out of 4*, BBC 4* out of 5* reviewer's rating and 4* out of 5* user rating, Metacritic 70 out of 100 with 37 critics 6.1 out of 10 with 21 reviews.
Special Note:  Filmed in Luberon, Vaucluse, France and London, England, UK.  Charlotte Rampling had a sister named Sarah and she died at a young age.  There are some mistakes when Sarah is typing her novel.  She presses keys at random and sometimes several at once?  She also never presses the space bar while typing?  It must be that Charlotte doesn’t know how to type or she was not really trying to type?  There is another film with the same name from 1969.

The Great Gilly Hopkins


     This film is based on an award winning young adult novel by Katherine Paterson.  Katherine also wrote Bridge to Terabithia.  Gilly Hopkins is 12 years old and she’s moving to another foster home.  Right away, she wants to escape her new foster mother Maime Trotter by gathering enough money for a trip to San Francisco.  She saw her mother’s address in her caseworker’s file and she thinks she can go live with her.  Gilly also writes a letter about how terrible it is to live with Maime Trotter and another foster child, called W.E.  Gilly tries to belittle her math teacher Ms. Harris.  It’s a weak attempt and Ms. Harris has had a lot worse treatment in her years as a teacher.  Ms. Harris says she has not had such a laugh from a note in a long time!!
     Gilly is very tough to get along with for everyone at the foster home and everyone at school.  She has a very large chip on her shoulder and she thinks living with her mother would be a dream come true?  This is a good family movie.  3* (This movie is OK)    

99 min, Drama directed by Stephen Herek with Sophie Nelisse, Kathy Bates, Glenn Close, Octavia Spencer, Julia Stiles, Bill Cobbs, Billy Magnussen, Zachary Hernandez, Clare Foley, Sammy Pignalosa, Toby Turner, Richard Topol, Cara Cooper.

Note:  Imdb 6.5 out of 10, 65% critic 56% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 2 ½*, Amazon 4.7* out of 5* with 51 reviews, Metacritic 47 out of 100 with 9 critics 5.3 out of 10 with 6 reviews, Slant Magazine .5* out of 4*.
Special Note:  Filmed in New York City.  Katherine Paterson has a cameo as the shop clerk in the bus station scene.  Actress Sophie Nelisse in the role of Gilly is from Canada.

Friday, October 13, 2017

In the Line of Fire 1993


     Frank Horrigan is a secret service agent and he was on duty when President Kennedy was killed in Dallas.  Mitch Leary starts to call Frank and he says he’s going to kill the current president.  Mitch is a former CIA assassin and he’s spent a lot of time studying Frank.  Mitch is angry because he was removed from the CIA and they are trying to have him killed.  Frank feels a lot of guilt that he couldn’t save Kennedy and he doesn’t want another death he might have stopped. 
     The other agents know Frank is getting these calls from Mitch but they don’t want to take the threats seriously.  They think Frank is going over the edge in checking and rechecking everything.  Frank is sure that Mitch is going to try to kill the president.  Some of the clothing and hairstyles, especially on the women are dated.  Malkovich has a gift for playing the bad guy!!  He knows how to be creepy and pull their strings to get people mad.  He could make you very uncomfortable if he showed up at your front door!!  3 ½* (I liked this movie)
 
128 min, Action directed by Wolfgang Petersen with Clint Eastwood, John Malkovich, Rene Russo, Dylan McDermott, Gary Cole, Fred Dalton Thompson, John Mahoney, Gregory Alan Williams, Jim Curley, Sally Hughes, Clyde Kusatsu, Steve Hytner.

Note:  Imdb 7.2 out of 10, 95% critic 79% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 3 ½*, Amazon 4.5* out of 5* with 1632 reviews, Metacritic 74 out of 100 with 16 critics 8.8 out of 10 with 76 reviews.
Special Note:  Clint Eastwood was 62 years old at the time of filming and he hung six stories above the ground on a ledge with a safety belt.  Malkovich lived in almost total seclusion for a month prior to filming.  He wanted to connect with Mitch’s sense of isolation.  This is the first time the Secret Service cooperated on the making of a film.  The character Frank Horrigan was inspired by Secret Service Agent Clint Hill.  He was with JFK in Dallas and he felt responsible for the President’s death.  The scenes with digital effects showing a younger Eastwood’s face in real-life footage of the JFK, Bush and Clinton campaign rallies cost 4 million dollars.  Eastwood and McDermott use Sig Sauer 9mm pistols, the standard weapon of the Secret Service.  In the opening scenes, Eastwood uses a Smith Wesson .44 Magnum revolver like his character Inspector Harry Callaghan in Dirty Harry of 1971.  There is another film with the same title from 1989.  Wolfgang Petersen also directed Das Boot about German submarines of 1981.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Manhattan Night 2016


     This film is based on a novel by Colin Harrison titled Manhattan Nocturne.  Porter Wren is a New York City tabloid writer.  He’s always looking for a scoop and a scandal.  He's married to Lisa Wren, she is a surgeon and they have two children, a son and a daughter.  Caroline Crowley’s husband Simon died and she wants Porter to find out more information about the unsolved murder.  The case becomes more and more complex until it threatens Porter’s job, his marriage and his life.
     Adrien Brody has cornered the market on the hangdog look and manner.  He will really go out on a limb to get a story and he’s willing to sacrifice.  He’s afraid he won’t have a job every day so he’s very hungry for any story.  It’s a good thing that a lot of this film happens in the dark because that’s where it really belongs.  2 ½* (This movie is so-so)

113 min, Crime directed by Brian DeCubellis with Adrien Brody, Yvonne Strahovski, Campbell Scott, Jennifer Beals, Raul Aranas, Thomas Bair, Will Beinbrink, Steven Berkoff, Kevin Breznahan, Jahni Brown, Stan Carp.

Note:  Imdb 6.2 out of 10, 33% critic 54% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 2*, Amazon 3.5* out of 5* with 123 reviews, Metacritic 44 out of 100 with 14 critics 4.6 out of 10 with 14 reviews.
Special Note:  Filmed in New York City. Campbell Scott is the son of actors George C. Scott and Colleen Dewhurst.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Top of the Lake: China Girl 2017


     This is the second season of this TV series.  The first season was shown in 2013.  Detective Robin Griffin has been assigned to a police station in Australia.  There were a lot of complications with the case she previously worked in New Zealand.  She didn’t have counseling for some of the things that happened and she feels very fragile about her return.  Some of the new recruits openly mock her because of the other case.  Her new assignment involves a suitcase washing up on the New Zealand beach.  The suitcase as been in the water for a while and there is hair and blood coming from the light blue case.  There are additional story lines running along with this main story.  Robin and Miranda are assigned to work together probably because no one likes either of them.  They also have no friends.  Robin contacts the daughter she gave up for adoption when she was two days old.  Mary, her daughter is now 17 and Robin was 16 at the time of her birth.
     There is a LOT going on in this film and it’s interesting to see the beautiful scenery of Sydney, Australia.  Elizabeth Moss is a very good actress and she won a recent Emmy for The Handmaids Tale.  Nicole Kidman has an interesting role as the adoptive mother of Robin’s daughter.  She has different shades of gray for her curly hair and she has either freckles or some kind of spots on her face.  Her character is Julia Edmonds, she’s estranged from her husband and daughter because of her affair with another woman.  Mary hates her adoptive mother Julia.  There were some holes in the screenplay about some of the characters?  I don’t know if they will be further explored in another season?  Some information was continued in this series from the first series.  4* (I really liked this series)
TV Drama, 56 min each Chapter, 6 Chapters, directed by Jane Campion with Elisabeth Moss, Kathleen Haynes, Nicole Kidman, Ling Cooper Tank, Kim Gyngell, David Dencik, Angjee Douangphoumy, Michelle Ny, Linda Ngo, Merlynn Tong, Clayton Jacobson, Hoa Xuande. 
Note:  Imbd 7.4 out of 10, 70% critic 55% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Amazon Video 3.1* out of 5* with 36 reviews, Slant Magazine 1.5* out of 5*.
Special Note:  Filmed in Sydney, Australia.  This series screened in Cannes with one intermission and one lunch break.  This is the first time in the history of the festival a series of this length was screened in one session.  It was also released immediately after on BBC iPlayer.  Both seasons have Jane Campion as the director but the first season was co-directed by Garth Davis.  This new season is co-directed by Ariel Kleiman because of scheduling conflicts.  Nicole Kidman was not in the cast of the first season.  The titles for the chapters are China Girl, The Loved One, Surrogate, Birthday, Who’s Your Daddy, The Battle of the Mothers.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

The Russia House 1990


     This film is based on a novel by John Le Carre.  During a Russian book conference, three notebooks supposedly containing Russian military secrets are given to a British publisher.  The British secret service is keen to learn if these notebooks are real.  They ask Barley Blair to investigate the notebooks.  Blair has a lot of experience with Russia and the Russian people.  He doesn’t respond well to authority and he may be in over his head with this project. 
      I just couldn’t see Michelle Pfeiffer in her role as a Russian??  There isn’t a LOT going on in this film despite the subject?  A spy continually sits in a room for hours waiting for something to happen with people not doing very much?  Maybe grass growing and paint drying in Russia takes a lot longer because of the cold temperatures.  Maybe more patience is required to watch??  I read a very interesting novel while viewing and I don’t think I missed anything??  2* (I didn’t like this movie)

123 min, Drama directed by Fred Schepisi with Sean Connery, Michelle Pfeiffer, Roy Scheider, James Fox, John Mahoney, Michael Kitchen, J.T. Walsh, Ken Russell, David Threlfall, Klaus Maria Brandauer, Mac McDonald.

Note:  Imdb 6.1 out of 10, 75% critic 50% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 2*, Empire Online 2* out of 5* review by Angie Errigo, Amazon 4.1* out of 5* with 153 reviews.
Special Note:  Filmed in Lisbon, Portugal, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada; Moscow, St. Petersburg and Sergiyev Posad, Russia; London, England, UK.  This film is the first major production from the West to be filmed in the Soviet Union with full permission from the Russian Government.  The meaning of the title The Russia House is a reference to the nickname given to the section of the British Secret Service involved with investigating the Soviet Union.

Monday, October 9, 2017

The 40s House 2001


     A married couple, their daughter and her two boys agree to spend 9 weeks living under the conditions of WWII in Britain.  Michael and Lyn along with Kirstie, Ben and Thomas will be under the same roof in the 40s house.  They are moving into a home that has been renovated to be just like a home of this time period.  They will wear the clothing, have the hairstyles and live with rationing.  Tending a garden will be essential and they will need to build an Anderson air raid shelter.  Several historians and experts formed a War cabinet working behind the scenes to direct events.  The family will theoretically live through 6 years of war in the 9-week time period. 
     Everything the family is used is turned upside down.  Life was very difficult in the wartime period.  Rationing and the bombings were especially hard.  Shampoo, bath soap, cleaning powders and detergent were in short supply.  Later, there weren’t any cigarettes.  There could be monetary fines for not adhering to the blackout codes.  The use of energy resources and water was carefully monitored and excess use caused a fine.  There are no time saving devices and there was a time the family lived without water and heat.  Michael was sent away for a period to work in a factory.  Volunteering for Lyn and Kirstie was necessary and later Kirstie went to work in an airplane factory.  Lyn was left to do all the housework, shopping and taking care of the boys before and after school.  4* (I really liked this movie)  

225 min, Reality-TV with Geoffrey Palmer, Piers Brendon, Guy de la Bedoyere, Ben, Kirstie, Lyn, Michael, Thomas Hymers, Susan Jebb, Norman Longmate, Warren Rushton, Dennis Cornish, Lia Cramer.  I didn’t view this as a TV series but as a DVD with all the episodes.  

Note:  Imdb 8.3 out of 10, tv.com 5.9* out of 10* with 22 votes, Amazon 4.7* out of 5* with 44 reviews, the moviedb 60% out of 100 user score.
Special Note:  Filmed in West Wickham, Kent, England, UK.  There is another TV series liked this one titled The 1900 House of 1999.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Ladies of the House 2008


     A house has been donated to the church that Rose, Elizabeth and Birdie attend.  The house needs to be renovated and then sold to raise money for the church sponsored childcare program.  The women visit the house and they are appalled by it’s condition!!  Every part of the house needs a LOT of work.  If the women hire contractors to do the work, they probably won’t make the money they need to donate for the program.  They don’t know anything about home improvement but they decide they can learn.  Two of the husbands are not very happy about their wives spending so much time on this project.
     The women go to the local home improvement center, they take classes and they talk to the employees so they can learn how to do everything themselves.  They begin to bond closer together and they start to see what is lacking in their own lives.  The house becomes more important to them and not just a project.  I don’t really believe they did anything but small jobs for the camera but how could we watch paint drying??  3 1/2* (I liked this movie)

Note:  Imdb 6.0 out of 10, 44% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Amazon 4.5* out of 5* with 43 reviews, The Movie Scene 3* out of 5*.

96 min, TV Movie, Drama directed by James A. Contner with Florence Henderson, Donna Mills, Pam Grier, Lance Henriksen, Richard Roundtree, Gordon Thomson, Lobo Sebastian.
Special Note:  This film is a Hallmark Channel Movie.  It received a 1.9 household rating and had 2.9 million viewers on the day of the premier.  Ranked as the 2nd highest rated ad supported cable movie of the week and boosted the network to sixth in Prime Time for the day.  Also doubled their October to date Prime Time rating among women between the ages of 25-54.  There is another movie from 2015 with the same title but this is a horror movie. 

Saturday, October 7, 2017

A street Cat Named Bob 2016


     This film is based on an international best selling book written by James Bowen.  James was a heroin addict and he’s now on the methadone program.  He runs into a buddy still using heroin and he decides to take a hit.  This sends him to the hospital because this combination turns into an overdose.  He meets Val and she gets him an apartment so he won’t be sleeping on the street.  She counsels him on the importance of the methadone program and she really works to help him.  James has a stroke of good luck when Bob the Cat comes into his apartment.  James asks all the neighbors if anyone knows who owns the cat but that is a negative.  Bob the Cat rides on James’ shoulders and James makes a LOT more money playing his guitar and singing on the street than he did before.
     It’s called being a busker in England when a person performs to get money from strangers on the street.  If a problem arises, this person can be banned from performing.  Bob the Cat is a ginger colored tabby cat.  What Bob the Cat does to really help James is that he doesn’t judge.  He doesn’t nag except if he’s hungry but he’s not complaining about anything James does as a person or what he's done in his past.  Bob the Cat lets James know he has worth and he deserves to live even though he has made mistakes.  3 1/2* (I liked this movie)

103 min, Bio directed by Roger Spottiswoode with Luke Treadaway, Bob the Cat, Ruta Gedmintas, Joanne Froggatt, Anthony Head, Darren Evans, Tony Jayawardena, Adam Riches, Llewella Gideon, Ivana Basic.

Note:  Imdb 7.4 out of 10, 77% critic 77% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Metacritic 54 out of 100 with 12 critics 8.1 out of 10 with 23 reviews, The Guardian 3* out of 5* review by Wendy Ide, Amazon 4.7* out of 5* with 367 reviews.
Special Note:  Filmed in Vauxhall Bust Station, Covent Garden, London, England, UK.  Also, Twickenham Studios, Twickenham, Middlesex, England, UK.  Multiple cats were brought in as Bob but he played himself for most of the movie.  Treadaway and Gedmintas are dating have been for several years prior to this film.  Bob’s cat food of choice was Bob Dairy Lea Dunkers.  Roger Spottiswoode also directed Turner and Hooch with a dog and Midnight Sun with a polar bear.  The real James Bowen has a cameo getting his book signed near the ending scene. 

Friday, October 6, 2017

Alone in Berlin 2016


     This film is based on the novel Every Man Dies Alone by Hans Fallada.  The setting of this film is Berlin, Germany of 1940 during WWII.  Otto and Anna Quangel are devastated to receive a letter from German authorities that their only child Hans has been killed during the French campaign.  Anna is so distraught that she rips up the letter because of her intense grief.  Otto decides he must do something to alert the German people about what is really going on in Germany.  Hitler and other German officials are telling lies to the people and many are suffering abuse.  Otto buys small postcards and he writes the truth on the back in German.  He leaves the cards in public places for the people living in Berlin to read.  Otto doesn’t want Anna to become involved but she wants to leave the cards too.  Otto is afraid of what may happen to Anna if either one of them is caught.  Years pass and police detective Escherich is placing a flag at each location where a card is found.  He believes all the cards will be turned in.  Escherich is being pressured by an impatient SS superior to immediately arrest the person leaving the cards and charge them with for treason.
     I thought this film was very good.  Otto has a job as a machinist in a shop and Anna is a housewife.  They probably asked themselves, what can we do now that we’ve lost our son?  Is there a way to keep one other person from losing a friend or relative in this war?  Otto and Anna are risking torture and their lives with their project.  The ending is unexpected.  I was surprised by the low reviews??  4* (I loved this movie)  

103 min, Drama directed by Vincent Perez with Brendan Gleeson, Emma Thompson, Daniel Bruhl, Mikael Persbrandt, Louis Hofmann, Katarina Schuttler, Godehard Giese, Jacob Matschenz, Lars Rudolph, Uwe Preuss.

Note:  Imdb 6.4 out of 10, 59% critic 48% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Amazon 4.2* out of 5* with 97 reviews, Metacritic 52 out of 100 with 16 critics 6.8 out of 10 with 6 reviews.
Special Note:  Filmed in Saxony, Brandenburg, Germany.  Director Vincent Perez’s family lived through WWII.  Fascists in Spain shot his grandfather.  The Nazis murdered his great uncle in a gas chamber.  Another uncle died fighting on the Russian front lines.  Author Hans Fallada based his novel on actual Gestapo files that he was allowed to read.  

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Dark Horse 2015


     Jan Vokes works as a bar maid and supermarket cleaning woman in the small depressed valley town of Cefn Fforest located in South Wales.  She overhears Howard Davis talking about the business of raising racehorses.  He previously owned a racehorse and he lost a lot of money.  She decides she would like to breed a horse to race but not lose money.  She talks to her husband Brian and he agrees.  She begins talking to some of the people in town about forming an alliance to pool their money. Thirty people agree to pay a weekly amount of 10 pounds for a year to bankroll a horse fund of $15,600 pounds.  They purchase a mare for $600 pounds and they pay a stud with a refund if a foal isn't produced.  Since they didn’t pay high dollar for the mare and the stud, they have enough money to pay the most experienced horse trainer they can find.  They believe this is where the money will be well spent.  At first, they were going to put names in a hat for the horse but Jan decides he will be named Dream Alliance.
     This was a big gamble for all the people involved.  Everything requires a LOT of money and only a small percentage of horses make money.  There are expenses for food, training, medical care, entry fees, salary for the jockey and their transportation costs.  The Alliance attends all the races with Dream in the running.  They have badges for horse owners and they can go into the posh places where the other wealthy owners can go.  One of the men takes a sandwich wrapped in foil and cans of beer because he doesn’t want to pay the steep price for food and drink at the track.  I thought this was very interesting, sometimes funny and the races could be very tense.  Dream united all the people in the village and not just those involved in the Alliance.  It was their horse and he represented the town!!  4* (I really liked this movie)

85 min, Doc directed by Louise Osmond with Jan and Brian Vokes, Howard and Angela Davies, Tony Kerby, Maureen Jones, Eddie Thomas.

Note:  Imdb 7.3 out of 10, 96% critic 78% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 3 ½*, Amazon 4.4* out of 5* with 29 reviews, Metacritic 75 out of 100 with 29 critics 6.7 out of 10 with 7 reviews.
Special Note:  Filmed in Wales, UK.  All the people in this film are not actors but members of the community or people involved with Dream.  This film won the Audience Award at the 2015 at Sundance. 

Callaway Went Thataway 1951


      Mike Fry and Deborah Patterson are co-owners of an advertising firm.  They have been involved in reruns of the Smoky Callaway television series.  The show is very popular with children and there is a big demand for more episodes.  Unfortunately, the actor in the role of Smoky Callaway hasn’t been seen for about 10 years.  Mike and Deborah enlist the help of Smoky’s agent Georgie Markham to do whatever it takes to find the original actor.  A fan letter is received in the mail, a man named Stretch Barnes writes it and he looks just their like Callaway actor.  He writes about all the attention he’s been receiving because people think he’s Callaway.  Mike and Deborah travel to the ranch where Barnes works and lives.  They convince him to come back with them to be the new star of the series.
     There are a lot of complications when Callaway's agent Georgie locates the real actor and brings him back.  Mike and Deborah assemble a team to get Callaway in physical shape for filming.  The problem is that he’s a drunk and he can’t stay sober.  He’s the exact opposite of Stretch Barnes in every way.  He doesn’t care anything about the program or the fans because all he’s interested in is the money.  It’s interesting to see how greedy the advertising firm can be and the differences in Callaway and Barnes.  The filming crew wanted the original actor and they give Stretch Barnes a rough time as much as they can.  I didn’t know until later (I should've caught onto this?) that the same actor plays both roles.    2 ½* (This movie is just so-so)

81 min, Western directed by Melvin Frank, Norman Panama with Fred MacMurray, Dorothy McGuire, Howard Keel, Jesse White, Fay Roope, Natalie Schafer, Douglas Kennedy, Elisabeth Fraser, John Indrisano, Stan Freberg, Don Haggerty.

Note:  Imdb 6.7 out of 10, 17% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Amazon 4* out of 5* with 3 reviews.
Special Note:  Filmed in Beverly Hills, Iverson Ranch, Los Angeles and Culver City, California. This film was also titled The Star Said No and was filmed as a satire of the Hopalong Cassidy film of 1952.  MGM historical records show this film earned $1,071,000 in the US and Canada and $267,000 in other countries.  The result was a loss of $294,000.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

2 Guns 2013


     This film is based on a graphic novel with the same title by Steven Grant published by Boom! Comics.  Robert Trench (Bobby) is working as an undercover DEA agent and Michael (Stig) Stigman doesn’t know this information.  On the other hand, Bobby doesn’t know that Stig is working for the US Navy in intelligence.  Stig comes up with the idea to rob a bank and Bobby goes along with the idea so he can bust Stig for the robbery.  The plan is too successful and they take more money than they anticipated, $43.125 million instead of $3 million.  Now they aren’t sure about the owner of this extra money?  Stig shoots Bobby and he takes the money.  Soon after, they are hunted, blackmailed and isolated by corrupt rivals.  Both Bobby and Stig will need to set aside their differences, work together and find a way to get out of this situation alive.
     Both Washington and Wahlberg are good actors but they don’t have much plot to work with?  There is a very high body count and everyone is corrupted!!  There are plenty of organizations in the mix, DEA, CIA, Navy, the drug cartel and the police.  The theory must be that a humorous buddy/action movie must work on all levels if you just keep pushing forward??  2 ½* (This movie is OK)  

Note:  109 min, Action directed by Baltasar Kormakur with Denzel Washington, Mark Wahlberg, Paula Patton, Edward James Olmos, Bill Paxton, Robert John Burke, James Marsden, Greg Sproles, Fred Ward.

Note:  Imdb 6.7 out of 10, 64% critic 66% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 3*, Amazon 4.2* out of 5* with 1556 reviews, Metacritic 55 out of 100 with 43 critics 6.6 out of 10 with 214 reviews.
Special Note:  Filmed in Kenner, Louisiana; Rio Rancho, Albuquerque, Santa Fe and San Cristobal, New Mexico; New Orleans, Louisiana; Los Angeles, California.  The bank robbery takes place in Tangipahoa Parish, Amite, Louisiana.  Washington and Wahlberg improvised many of their lines.  Originally, Vince Vaughn was cast as Bobby and Owen Wilson as Stig.  Duel Action was the code name given to this film to prevent piracy. 

Monday, October 2, 2017

Things to Come (L'avenir) 2016


     Natalie is very busy and she is 50 something years old.  She teaches philosophy at a high school in Paris.  She is very passionate about her job and she devotes a lot of time with her students plus to her previous students.  She is married and she has two children.  She also takes care of her elderly mother and she calls Natalie several times a day.  Her mother is a model but she is depressed and she calls the fire department several times a week.  The department tells Natalie that they are going to stop coming to her mother’s apartment. 
     Philosophy is the study of the fundamental nature of knowledge, reality, existence considered as an academic discipline.  Since this is thinking, thought and reasoning, there are innumerable explanations of any subject.   This film reminds me of Woody Allen film because his films are always about relationships?  Also shown in this film is how the passage of time changes the now to something different.  I was surprised to see the quantity of books in Natalie’s home.  She reads many books and she is also a writer of published textbooks.  The scenes of France and the countryside are very beautiful.  3* (This movie is OK)   
    
102 min, Drama directed by Mia Hansen-Love with Isabelle Huppert, Andre Marcon, Roman Kolinka, Edith Scob, Sarah Le Picard, Solal Forte, Elise Lhomeau, Lionel Dray, Gregoire Montanan, Lina Benzerti, Yves Heck.

Note:  Imdb 7.0 out of 10, 100% critic 70% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 3 ½*, Amazon 3.8* out of 5* with 13 reviews, Metacritic 88 out of 100 with 28 critics 6.9 out of 10 with 33 reviews.
Special Note:  Filmed in Ile-de-France and Lyon, Rhone, Rone-Alpes, France.  The time of running listed on the back of the DVD is incorrect?  This film is actually longer than 102 min.  Director Mia Hansen-Love based the film on her mother Laurence Hansen-Love as the character Natalie.  Her mother reviewed the script and the only change she wanted was the name of the cat to respect the cat’s privacy!!  There is another film with the same title of 1936.

The Founder 2016


     The setting of this film is 1954.  Ray Kroc has been a salesman all his life.  His wife Ethel has stood by him during all his schemes to get rich.  He’s always looking for that next best thing that blows everyone out of the water.  Right now he’s peddling the five-spindle milkshake maker for the company Prince Castle.  He’s on the road a lot and it’s hard on both Ray and Ethel.  Ray complains a lot about the food on the road.  Bad food, bad service and messed up orders.  When Ray hears about a drive-in ordering 7 of the milkshake makers, he gives them a call to make sure it’s not a mistake?  The McDonald’s Restaurant in San Bernadino, California confirms it’s not a mistake and they want to up the order to 8 makers!!  Ray drives to San Bernardino to look at this place.  The MacDonald’s is doing a great business with a different concept.  They make everything in quantity and they only serve burgers, cheeseburgers, fries, soda and shakes.  Customers walk up to the counter, place their orders, the food is given to them right away.  Everything is packaged in throwaway materials.  Ray has to get involved with this miracle business!! 
     Ray is the ultimate salesman, it's all he thinks about and he will sell anything he can to make a profit!!  He will sell you the socks off of his feet including the holes.  He might not even give you the socks after he’s got your money?  He’ll just give you the holes and call it a deal at any price!!  The original founders of McDonalds, Richard and Maurice McDonald didn’t know what kind of man they were dealing with and what he was capable of doing.  They liked everything the way it was and didn’t see a reason to change until they were pushed into a deal with a LOT of convincing!!  3 ½* (I liked this movie)  

115 min, Bio directed by John Lee Hancock with Michael Keaton, Nick Offerman, John Carroll Lynch, Linda Cardellini, B.J. Novak, Laura Dern, Justin Randell Brooke, Kate Kneeland, Patrick Wilson, Griff Furst.

Note:  Imdb 7.2 out of 10, 83% critic 82% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 3*, Metacritic 66 out of 100 with 47 critics 7.4 out of 10 with 118 reviews.
Special Note:  Filmed in Newman, Atlanta, Douglasville and Canton, Georgia; Albuquerque and Belen, New Mexico.  Prince Castle still exists and supplies McDonalds with much of their equipment.  The McDonalds shown in the film were built from scratch in parking lots.  The flies attracted to the smell at McDonalds were actually Cocoa Krispies.  They were poured in front of a powerful fan to look like a swarm.  Most movie shoots are 12+ hours a day but this film was 8-10 hours a day and filmed in 22 days.  Tom Hanks was originally cast in the role of Ray Kroc.  Michael Keaton took piano lessons to prepare for his scenes because the real Ray Kroc liked to play piano.  Keaton rented 2 ice cream trucks for the film crew after he saw their exhaustion. 

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Penny Serenade 1941


     This film is told in flashbacks.  Julie Gardiner Adams is going to divorce her husband Roger Adams.  She thinks there is nothing holding them together anymore.  She begins to play the recordings that they purchased in their time together.  They met in the music store where Julie worked.  All the songs remind her of their lives and what was happening at that time period.  There is the first record for their meeting,  a record for their courtship, marriage, desire for a child and the everyday ups and downs of life.     
     There are many joys and sorrows in life and there have been many times of happiness but also deep pain for Julie and Roger.  They are in a period of deep pain at this point and they don’t see a future or recovery.  The reminders of right now are tearing them apart and they don’t have any answers or know how to move forward.  The music is very enjoyable and I liked the time period.  There are struggles with money and jobs but family life is very stabilizing.  Little events have importance and families did a lot together.  3 1/2* (I liked this movie)
     
119 min, Drama directed by George Stevens with Cary Grant, Irene Dunne, Beulah Bondi, Edgar Buchanan, Ann Doran, Eva Lee Kuney, Leonard Willey, Wallis Clark, Walter Soderling.

Note:  Imdb 7.2 out of 10, 93% critic 75% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Amazon 4.2* out of 5* with 327 reviews, TCM Leonard Maltin 3.5* out of 4* average user rating 4* out of 5*.
Special Note:  Beulah Bondi has been in many films.  She started acting in 1931 at the age of 50 and she passed away at the age of 91 in Woodland Hills, CA on January 11, 1981.  She was born May 3, 1889 in Chicago, Illinois.  Her last role was at the age of 87 as Aunt Martha in the TV series, The Waltons from 1974-1976.  Irene Dunne said this was her favorite film.  She also wrote to a fan that Love Affair of 1939 was also a favorite.  Grant and Dunne starred together in The Awful Truth of 1937 and My Favorite Wife of 1940.  They played a married couple in this film plus the other earlier films.  The original copyright holder didn’t renew and this film fell into public domain.  Many versions are second or third generation copies with bad editing or of extremely poor quality.  Cary Grant wasn’t a parent in real life until the age of 62 in 1966.  Grant was nominated twice for Academy Awards for Best Actor, this film plus None But the Lonely Heart of 1944.

Suzy 1936


     This film is based on a novel written by Herbert Gorman.  The setting is just prior to and during WWI in 1914.  Suzy Trent is from America and she meets Terry Moore in London.  She’s trying to be an actress but she’s not a name in London so she’s having a difficult time with jobs.  She doesn’t mind being a chorus girl but she doesn’t like the extra attention that sometimes comes with the job.  She is thinking about going back to American but Terry asks her to marry him.  He’s working on an airplane stabilizer and they go to the factory where he works.  There is something shady going on and the owner comes into the factory with two other people.  Suzy leaves for Paris, she finds a job and she meets Andre Charville.  He’s a famous French flying ace and they get married. 
     Suzy jokes that she needs a rich husband to support her but she really does.  After her marriage to Andre, Suzy lives in Paris with Andre’s elderly father.  She becomes protective of Andre's father and she takes care of him.  She makes up letters from Andre that he didn't write because he hasn't been writing.  There are plot twists up until the end.  I think it's interesting that the makeup of the women in this time period features very thin drawn on eyebrows?  I think they are unattractive?  3* (This movie is OK)

93 min, Drama directed by George Fitzmaurice with Jean Harlow, Franchot Tone, Cary Grant, Lewis Stone, Benita hume, Reginald Mason, Inez Courtney, Greta Meyer, David Clyde Christian Rub, George Spelvin.

Note:  Imdb 6.5 out of 10, 66% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Amazon 4.5* out of 5* with 6 reviews, Leonard Maltin 2* out of 4*, 4.56* out of 5* average user rating, Three Movie Buffs average 2* out of 4*.
Special Note:  Herbert Gorman was paid $15,000 for the rights to the novel.  In 2017 money, that would be $266,000.  The flying scenes were outtakes from Hell’s Angels of 1930 filmed by Howard Hughes.  Howard Hughes was injured when he crashed and three of the WWI ace pilots were killed.  Hughes leased the flying footage to other studios to offset the tremendous cost of filming.  The horserace is supposed to be the Epsom Derby of 1914 but the newsreel footage is of the Derby of 1934.  The clothing used for the women is not of 1910 but is from the mid-1930’s.