Sunday, December 31, 2017

Misery 1990

     This film is abased on a novel by Stephen King.  Paul Sheldon is a best-selling author.  He always books a hotel room in Colorado to work on his next novel.  He checks out of the room but there is a blizzard in the area soon after he leaves.  He always drives his 1966 Mustang and he knows this car very well but he runs off the road because of skidding.  The car turns completely over and Paul almost dies.  Annie Wilkes finds him and she brings him back to her remote home.  She’s Paul’s “number one fan” and she’s read all his books.  Annie is a nurse and she tends to Paul’s broken legs, injured shoulder and the cuts on his face.  She tells him she will take him to the hospital as soon as he can travel.  She also tells him that she has contacted his daughter and his publisher to let them know what happened, where he is and that he’s recovering. 
     Paul takes everything Annie says as the truth until he starts to see that Annie is slightly unhinged.  He finds a hairpin that he uses it to unlock the door of his room.  He reads her memory book and discovers that she is a nurse with a history.  The local sheriff comes to check the property and Paul tries to alert him from down in the basement.  This is very suspenseful and you don’t know what is going to happen to Paul from the beginning until the end.  You are hoping Buster, the Sheriff will discover Paul at the property before it’s too late!!  3 1/2* (I liked this movie)

107 min, Crime directed by Rob Reiner with James Caan, Kathy Bates, Richard Farnsworth, Frances Sternhagen, Lauren Bacall, Graham Jarvis, Jerry Potter, Thomas Brunelle, June Christopher, Julie Payne, Archie Hahn, Gregory Snegoff.

Note:  Imdb 7.8 out of 10, 89% critic 89% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 3*, Empire Online 4* out of 5* review by Philip Thomas, Amazon 4.7* with 1626.
Special Note:  Filmed in Genoa, Reno, Truckee, Nevada; Los Angeles and Hollywood, California; New York City.  Stephen King refused to speak about his motivations for the novel Misery for two decades.  He finally stated that it is about his battle with substance abuse.  Annie represents his dependency on drugs and what it did to his body and mind.  He felt alone and separated from everything.  The novel was almost made into a Broadway play with Julia Roberts as Annie.  King thought the casting was wrong because he pictured Annie as a brawny woman who could sling a guy around.  King wrote two more roles for Bates because of the impression she made on him in this role.  Dolores Claiborne and The Stand.  Jack Nicholson was offered the role of Paul but he didn’t want to do another King movie after doing the Shining of 1980 with Stanley Kubrick.  The role of Annie is loosely based on Genene Jones, a nurse who killed during a two-year period.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

A Far Off Place 1993

     Nonnie Parker lives on the savanna in Africa with her parents Paul and Elizabeth.  Harry Winslow is about her age and he comes to visit the Parkers with his father John.  Nonnie and her friend Xhabbo are very knowledgeable about the area but Harry is from New York.  He is almost blown up by dynamite when he doesn’t see a keep out sign.  Nonnie and her father are working on water piping for their property and using dynamite for clearing the area.  Noonie, Xhabbo and Harry go out in the bush together to explore.  Noonie goes back home and she discovers that poachers have killed her parents and Harry’s father.  The Parker’s have been against poaching of ivory from the elephants.  The only escape for Nonnie, Harry and Xhabbo is to walk 2000 kilometers through the Kalahari Desert to the coast.
      Xhabbo knows how to find water in the desert and he teaches Harry to hunt.  Harry doesn’t want to kill any of the African animals but they need water and food to survive their journey.  Several times a helicopter piloted by the poachers flies overhead to see if they are still alive.  The poachers don’t want risk leaving any witnesses to tell who committed the murderers.  It's a struggle against the elements in the Kalahari!!  3 ½* (I liked this movie)
108 min, Adventure directed by Mikael Salomon with Reese Witherspoon, Ethan Embry, Jack Thompson, Sarel Bok, Robert John Burke, Patricia Kalember, Daniel Gerroll, Maximilian Schell, Miles Anderson, Fidelis Cheza, Taffy Chihota.
Note:  Imdb 6.6 out of 10, 40% critic 69% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 2*, Amazon 4.7* out of 5* with 166 reviews.
Special Note:  Filmed in Zimbabwe and Namibia.  Originally Honeysuckle Weeks was cast in the role of Nonnie.  Witherspoon studied with the Matabele tribe to perfect the Bushman language.  She was almost 17 years old at the release date of 12 March 1993.  Ethan Embry was 14 years old. 

Friday, December 29, 2017

Kitty Foyle 1940

     Tom Foyle loves his daughter very much and they are a blue-collar family living in Philadelphia.  Kitty fell in love with Wyn Strafford VI but he’s a wealthy man with a long line of family in Philadelphia.  They marry but the marriage doesn’t work out.  Kitty moves to New York and she meets doctor Mark Eisen.  He has asked her to marry him and she’s getting ready to leave to meet him.  Just at this moment, Wyn comes back into her life.  He wants her to leave right now and go to South America with him.  He’s left his wife but he’s not getting a divorce.
     There is a lot of heartache for Kitty in this film.  Philadelphia was a very snobby town and the rich did not mix with the working people in marriage.  Kitty probably didn’t have a chance from the beginning for her marriage to work out?  I thought it was interesting that she is in a hospital bed but she is wearing all her eye makeup and lipstick?  It seems impossible but this film is 77 years old?  3 ½* (I liked this movie) 
108 min, Drama directed by Sam Wood with Ginger Rogers, Dennis Morgan, James Craig, Eduardo Ciannelli, Ernest Cossart, Gladys Cooper, Odette Myrtil, Mary Treen, K.T. Stevens, Walter Kingsford, Cecil Cunningham, Nella Walker, Kay Linaker.

Note:  Imdb 7.1 out of 10, 75% critic 73% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Amazon 4.3* out of 5* with 75 reviews, TCM Leonard Maltin 3.5* out of 4*, 4.52* out of 5* average user ratings.
Special Note:  Ginger Rogers won an Oscar for this film as Best Actress.  The film was nominated for best picture but the award went to The Philadelphia Story of 1940.  She listened to Tchaikovsky’s Romeo and Juliet in her dressing room to prepare for her sad scenes.  This film was RKO’s biggest hit of 1940 and earned $869,000 in profits.  Originally, Katharine Hepburn was offered the lead role but she turned it down.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Lowriders 2016

    Danny lives in East Los Angeles and he is into graffiti art.  He's been arrested and his father Miguel has had to bail him out.  His father is very much into the lowrider car culture.  In the beginning, Danny isn't interested but then he find out he's very good at portraits and detailing of the cars.  There will be a contest with a prize of $10,000 and they want to be the winner.  A complication is Danny's older brother Ghost has been released from prison and he will also enter a car.  There are a lot of problems between Ghost and Miguel.
     I do like the lowrider cars and I've seen them going down the street with their hydraulics.  I really like the older cars and the paint work.  Originally, the hydraulics were used to raise the cars to the legal limit when checked by authorities.  There was a backlash against lowriders on January 1, 1958 when Section 24008 of the California Vehicle Code made it illegal to operate any car modified so that any part was lower than the bottoms of its wheel rims.  Slow and low is their motto and this style began between the mid-to-late 1940's and during the post-war prosperity of the 1950's.  A statement was made by the painting and the style of the cars to reflect the Mexican culture and also send a political message.  3 1/2* (I liked this movie)

98 min, Adventure directed by Ricardo de Montreuil with Gabriel Chavarria, Demian Bichir, Theo Rossi, Tony Revolori, Melissa Benoist, Yvette Monreal Eva Longoria, Montse Hernandez.

Note:  Imdb 5.6 out of 10, 55% critic 63% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 3*, Amazon 4.4* out of 5* with 47 reviews, Metacritic 57 out of 100 with 9 critics.
Special Note:  Filmed in Los Angeles, California.  Originally, Lily Collins was scheduled to play a role but she had scheduling conflicts.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

A Christmas Story 1983

     The time period for this film is the post Depression-era of the 1940’s.  It’s based on the novel In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash by Jean Shepherd published in 1966.  One of the stories is about Ralphie Parker and he is nine years old.  He is attempting to convince his parents, teacher and Santa that a Red Ryder Range 200 Shot BB gun really is the perfect Christmas gift?   
     This film is presented as a series of stories about Ralphie and his family.  There are a set of stories about Ralphie and his brother Randy, the kids at school plus Ralphie’s father and mother.  Ralphie's father is referred to as “The Old Man.”  He wins a contest and the prize is a lamp in the shape of a woman’s leg.  Ralphie's mother hates this object!!  “The Old Man” fights a constant battle with the furnace in the Parker home.  “The Old Man” bickers about the possibly 785 smelly hound dogs belonging to the next-door neighbors, the Bumpuses.  These stories are so FUNNY and they take you back to this period in time.  3 ½* (I liked this movie)

94 min, Comedy directed by Bob Clark with Peter Billingsley, Melinda Dillon, Darren McGavin, Ian Petrella, Jean Shepher, Scott Schwartz, R.D. Robb, Tedde Moore, Yano Anaya, Zack Ward, Jeff Gillen, Colin Fox, Paul Hubbard, Leslie Carlson.

Note:  Imdb 8.0 out of 10, 89% critic 88% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 4*, Amazon 4.7* out of 5* with 4949 reviews, Metacritic 77 out of 100 with 8 critics 8.7 out of 10 with 166 reviews.
Special Note:  Filmed in Cleveland, Ohio and Ontario, Canada.  The release date was just before Thanksgiving 1984 and the film became a surprise hit.  Complaints were received about its removal from theaters after Christmas.  It played on select screens until after the first of the year in 1984.  There is a scene with Flick getting his tongue stuck to a flagpole in the snow.  A hidden suction tube was used to safely give the illusion that his tongue was frozen to the metal.  In 2005, the home used for the exterior shots was put up for auction on eBay.  A fan of the movie, Brian Jones, purchased it for $150,000.  He spent a year restoring the home and he spent nearly $500,000.  He also purchased the house next door for a gift shop and museum.  The home opened as a tourist attraction on November 25, 2006.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Fear 1996

     Nicole Walker is 16 years old and her best friend is Margot Masse.  They are both at the age where they dreaming of their Prince Charming.  Nicole and Margot go to a party and Nicole meets David.  They seem to hit it off and they become a couple.  This leads to David becoming possessive and jealous.  David beats up Gary, he is just Nicole's good friend but David sees red.  Nicole decides she never wants anything to do with David again.  David changes back to the nice David and they get back together again until another incident.  Nicole goes to meet David and she sees him with Margot.  Another complication between Nicole and David is that Nicole’s dad Steve doesn’t want Nicole to have a relationship with David.  Steve is accused of hitting David in the chest after a conversation but David gave himself the bruises?
     This film starts of very mildly and then it starts slowing moving into the fear area.  David was in a LOT of foster homes and then in detention but he escaped so many times the authorities stopped locking him up?  His experiences don't bode well for his behavior both emotionally and mentally.  He’s just an inch from going over the edge into darkness at all times.  It doesn’t help that he hangs with four other guys like him.  They are stump dumb and always doing something stupid!!  3 ½* (I liked this movie)

97 min, Thriller directed by James Foley with Mark Wahlberg, Reese Witherspoon, William Petersen, Amy Brenneman, Alyssa Milano, Christopher Gray, Tracy Fraim, Gary Riley, Jason Kristofer, Jed Rees, Todd Caldecott, Gerry Bean Rav Toor.

Note:  Imdb 6.2 out of 10, 39% critic 63% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Amazon 4.4* out of 5* with 402 reviews, Metacritic 51 out of 100 with 16 critics user score 1.5 out of 10 with 166 reviews.
Special Note:  Filmed on Mercer Island and Seattle, Washington; Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.  Originally, Liv Tyler was approached for the role of Nicole.  There is a roller coaster in one of the scenes and it’s called The Coaster.  It’s one of the biggest attractions at Playland, Vancouver, British Columbia.  The inspiration for this film was the Bollywood movie Darr.  Mark Wahlberg was originally the front man for a band called Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch and he was also known as Marky Mark.  He did three other films between 1993 and 1995 before this film and he is 24 during production.  Reese Witherspoon appeared in eight other films before this film.  She was almost 20 with a birthday in March and the release was in April. 

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Tulip Fever 2017

     The setting of this film is Amsterdam of the 17th Century.  Sophia has been living in an orphanage and she is forced to marry a rich and powerful merchant.  Cornelis Sandvoort is saving Sophia from poverty.  Cornelis commissions a portrait to be painted by Jan Van Loos.  Jan is a struggling artist and Sophia falls in love with him.  In order to make some get-away money, Sophia and Jan enter the highly competitive tulip market.  The right rare bulb will bring a fortune and their freedom. 
     I had a difficult time concentrating during viewing.  This should be an exciting introspect of the tulip market but it’s like watching the paint dry on the canvases?  All I could think about were the ridiculous white pleated collars of this time period.  How did they keep them white and weren’t their necks dirty?  Everyone is stiff and starched like the white collars may have been?  So much of this film has been done many times before and the only edge is the tulips!!  1 ½* (I really didn’t like this movie)    

105 min, Drama directed by Justin Chadwich with Alicia Vikander, Dane DeHaan, Jack O’Connell, Holliday Grainger, Tom Hollander, Matthew Morrison, Kevin McKidd, Douglas Hodge, Joanna Scanlan, Zach Galifianakis, Judi Dench.

Note:  Imdb 6.2 out of 10, 9% audience 45% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 1 ½*, Metacritic 38 out of 100 with 21 critics 4.6 out of 10 with 28 reviews, The Guardian 2* out of 5* review by Jordan Hoffman, Amazon 3.6* out of 5* with 25 reviews.
Special Note:  Filmed in London, Norfolk, Essex, Kent, Buckinghamshire, England, UK and Austria.  This film was originally scheduled for production in 2004 with Jude Law and Keira Knightley.  John Maddes was to be the director.  There were changes in the tax rules affecting film production in the UK and this cause filming to be delayed until 2014.  The release date was 1 September 2017 in the USA.  Portrait artist Jamie Routley painted the portraits

Megan Leavey 2017

      This film is based on the true story of a young woman Marine corporal and her military combat dog.  As a team, they worked together to save many lives during their deployments in Iraq.  Originally Rex was paired with a male handler but he bit this man.  Rex became the dog that everyone feared the most.  Megan and Rex had a bond, served two deployments in Iraq and they were both wounded.  Rex could not detect an IUD because it was buried too deeply in the ground.  The device detonated and they were both injured.  Leavey was awarded the Purple Heart and the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal with a V denoting heroism in combat. 
     Leavey wanted to adopt Rex when she did not reenlist but he was sent with another handler back to Iraq.  Leavey campaigned to adopt Rex when he was released from the Marine Corps because of facial palsy in 2012.  The adoption still required the intervention of Senator Chuck Schumer in April 2012.  Rex lived with Leavey until December 2012.  I thought this was very good, interesting and informative.  It shows the daily risks involved with serving in Iraq and how a dog nose can detect much more than a human nose.  4* (I really liked this movie)

116 min, Bio directed by Gabriela Cowperthwaite with Kate Mara, Ramon Rodriguez, Tom Felton, Bradley Whitford, Edie Falco, Common, Will Patton, Miguel Gomez, Geraldine James, Ramon Rodriguez, Catherine Dyer, Sam Keeley, Phil Dunster.
Note:  Imdb 7.1 out of 10, 84% critic 83% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 3 ½*, Metacritic 66 out of 100 with 25 critics 6.5 out of 10 with 26 reviews, Rollingstone 3* out of 4* review by Peter Travers, Amazon 4.7* out of 5* with 178 reviews.
Special Note:  Filmed in Rome, Georgia; Charleston, South Carolina; Cartagena, Mucia; Zaragoza, Aragon; Mazarron, Murcia, Spain.  Kate Mara and Megan Leavey were both born in 1983 and grew up in the suburbs of New York City.  Megan has a cameo role as a drill instructor.  There is a mistake when Megan returns to her home at Christmas.  There are patches of snow on the ground but the leaves are still on the trees?  This film was expected to gross about $3 million but actually grossed $13,406,304 in the USA.  Cowperthwaite also directed Blackfish of 2013. 

Saturday, December 23, 2017

All We Had 2016

     This film is based on a novel by Annie Weatherwax published in 2015.  Ruthie Carmichael is thirteen-years-old and she lives with her mother Rita.  They are always on the edge of poverty even thought Rita works multiple jobs.  Their landlord kicks them out and Rita lands a new boyfriend.  He lets Rita and Ruthie live with him.  It doesn’t take long before they leave and they are on the road again.  They hock a TV for travel money and then that runs out plus their old car breaks down.  They had planned to skip out on the meal they ate at a diner but Rita is offered a job there.  The town is Fat River and Ruthie begins school.  Rita is making enough money to buy a house and they have a credit card too.  How long with this streak of luck last??
     Katie Holmes looks rough to match her character’s life.  Ruthie starts to believe things have turned around and she hopes their luck holds.  The biggest problem is that Rita seems to always make the worst decisions.  3* (This movie is OK) 

105 min, Drama directed Katie Holmes with Eve Lindley, Richard Kind, Mark Consuelos, Luke Wilson, Katie Holmes, Judy Greer Katherine Reis, Odiseas Georgiadis, Tim Markham, Richard Petrocelli, Osh Ghanimah, Michael Cavadias.

Note:  Imdb 5.8 out of 10, 42% critic 43% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 2*, Amazon 3.5* out of 5* with 57 reviews, Metacritic 48 out of 100 with 13 critics.
Special Note:  Filmed in Staten Island, Brooklyn, Queens and Monsey, New York City.  Kathy is Katie Holmes’ mother and she has a cameo as a potential home buyer.  The novel has 4.2* out of 5* with 186 reviews.

Absolutely Anything 2015

     There is a group of aliens traveling from planet to planet.  They want to see what kind of species inhabits each of the different planets.  They examine Earth and they want to know if humans are decent.  If they are, this planet will be welcome to be their friend.  They choose one inhabitant and give that person the power to do whatever they want.  They choose Neil Clarke.  He is a teacher and the headmaster constantly berates him.  He’s attracted to his neighbor, Catherine and he doesn’t have the courage to approach her.
     In the beginning, Neil starts making unwise choices because he doesn’t know he has the power?  He gets better but the choices can turn out unexpectedly!!  The scenes with the group of aliens are not very funny?  3* (This movie is OK)

85 min, Comedy directed by Terry Jones with Simon Pegg, Kate Beckinsale, Sanjeev Bhaskar, Rob Riggle, Robert Bathurst, Eddie Izzard, Joanna Lumley, Marianne Oldham, Emma Pierson, Meera Syal, Mojo, Robin Williams, John Cleese, Eric Idle.

Note:  Imdb 6.0 out of 10, 19% critic 31% audience, Amazon 3.8* out of 5* with 126 reviews, Metacritic 31 out of 100 with 9 critics.
Special Note:  This was the final film for Robin Williams and it was released on the one-year anniversary of his death.  Since the film The Meaning of Life of 1983, this is the first film to feature all surviving members of Monty Python.  The character Neil has a dog named Dennis and in order to get the dog to look at him during filming, Neil wore a sausage on his head.  Originally, Benedict Cumberbatch and Gemma Arterton were cast as Neil and Catherine.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Until They Sail 1957

     This film is based on a story by James A. Michener from his anthology Return to Paradise.  Four sisters are living in Christchurch, New Zealand during WWII.  Most of the men in Christchurch have gone to fight in the war.  Many American soldiers arrived in this country to help with the fight.  Anne Leslie is not married, Barbara Leslie Forbes and Delia Leslie Friskett are married to New Zealand soldiers, Evelyn Leslie is a teenager.  Kit is their brother and they receive a notice that he has been killed.  Delia’s husband Shiner enlists soon after their marriage and Delia leaves her sisters and moves to Auckland.  It’s too lonely for her in their town, she wants to get a job with the New Zealand Navy and meet some of the American soldiers.
     Unfortunately, US solders often didn’t leave a very good impression with the people in New Zealand and other countries.  There was an officer assigned to the job of interviewing soldiers and the women they wanted to marry.  Military approval was needed for any soldier to get married.  There was also a training session for the bride-to-be.  You can see how difficult it is for the women when the men are in the war or they are leaving to join the fight.  Every day is the possibility they will be killed in action.  3 ½* (I liked this movie)  

94 min, Drama directed by Robert Wise with Jean Simmons, Paul Newman, Joan Fontaine, Piper Laurie, Charles Drake, Sandra Dee, Wally Casell, Alan Napier, Ralph Votrian, John Wilder, Tige Andrews, Adam Kennedy, Mickey Shaughnessy.

Note:  Imdb 6.5 out of 10, 60% critic 64% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Amazon 4.6* out of 5* with 62 reviews, TCM Leonard Maltin 3.5* out of 5* user reviews 4.5* out of 5*, Letterboxd 3.2* out of 5* with 146 reviews.
Special Note:  Filmed in Canterbury and Wellington, New Zealand; Culver City, California.  This is Sandra Dee’s first film and she was 15 years old at the time of the film release.  She started school early and she was just four years old when she started second grade.  She was a successful model at the age of 12 years old and then she did television commercials.  Mark Robson and Robert Wise owned two stories from the novel Return to Paradise.  The first story Return to Paradise was filmed with Gary Cooper.  Until They sail was sold because Robson and Wise ran out of money.  A few years later the story was given to Charles Schnee at MGM.  Wise now worked at MGM and he ask MGM to do the filming.  There is a mistake with the map that the sisters put up on the wall to keep track of the soldiers.  The map was printed in 1957 and shows nations that didn’t exist in 1939.  Also, the hairstyles and the clothing for the women are from the 1950’s and not the 1940’s.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Everything, Everything 2017

     This film is based on a young adult novel by Nicola Yoon published in 2015. Madeline Whittier is 17 years old and she has a rare disease called severe combined immunodeficiency.  This is a genetic disorder that causes the immune system to fail to develop.  She needs to stay inside 24/7 in filtered air and her days have a lot of sameness.  Her life is books, her mom and her nurse Carla.  One day, a moving truck pulls up next door.  Madeline doesn’t know this will change her life.  She sees Olly Bright from her window and he is her new neighbor.  They begin to get to know each other by emails, texts and cell phone calls.  Maddy starts to think that the life she has now is not really living?
     I thought this movie was interesting and I had not heard of the medical name for her condition.  I have read about young people with these diseases and in the film Bubble Boy of 2001 he is unable to leave his home because of immune system problems.  He has the same disease.  Madeline has been handling her isolation very well.  She previously interacted only with her mother and her nurse.  Others with this disease have died younger than Maddy but her mother is a doctor and this may have helped her live longer.  Maddy and Olly have good chemistry together.  I was surprised about the ending and I didn’t see it coming?  3 ½* (I liked this movie)

96 min, Drama directed by Stella Meghie with Amandla Stenberg, Nick Robinson, Anika Noni Rose, Ana de la Reguera, Taylor Hickson, Danube Hermosillo, Dan Payne, Fiona Loewi, Sage Brocklebank, Peter Benson, Robert Lawrenson.

Note:  Imdb 6.4 out of 10, 47% critic 62% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Amazon 4.1* out of 5* with 167 reviews, Roger Ebert 2*, Metacritic 52 out of 100 with 26 critics 4.8 out of 10 with 37 reviews, plugged’n 2 ½* out of 5*, The Guardian 2* out of 5* review by Cath Clarke.
Special Note:  Filmed in Jalisco and Nayarit, Mexico; Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.  There are some changes in this film from the book.  Maddy’s mother says Olly needs a haircut but in the book he has a shaved head.  Olly’s life at home has a larger role in the book.   Text messages are sent and calls made in the film but only IM and email in the book.  Olly has brown eyes and a light complexion but in the book he has ocean blue eyes and an olive complexion. 

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Before I Fall 2017

    This film is based on a young adult novel by Jessica Scott published in 2015.  Samantha Kingston is in high school and she’s one of the popular students.  She has the perfect boyfriend, perfect friends and probably a perfect future.  She wakes up on Cupid’s Day on February 12 and something happens that evening.  The next morning she wakes up and Cupid’s Day starts again.  She doesn’t know what she can do to change the day and make it stop happening over and over?
     Some scenes are boring when they a repeated continually?  Plus, this premise has been used many times before.  Sam begins to change everything about the day to find out what she’s supposed to accomplish to make the day stop happening.  I could see where this was going and I wanted it to change but maybe the conclusion is inevitable?  The scenery of the Pacific Northwest is very beautiful.  3* (This movie is OK) 

98 min., Drama directed by Ty Russo-Young with Zoey Deutch, Halston Sage, Cynthy Wu, Logan Miller Kian Lawley, Elena Kampouris, Medalion Rahimi, Erica Tremblay, Liv Hewson, Diego Boneta, Jennifer Beals, Nicholas Lea, Chelsea Gill, Roan Curtis.

Note:  Imdb 6.4 out of 10, 63% critic 57% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 3*, Metacritic 58 out of 100 with 31 critics 6.2 out of 10 with 60 reviews, Rolling Stone 2 ½* out of 4* review by Peter Travers.
Special Note:  Filmed in North Vancouver and Squamish, British Columbia, Canada.  This movie was filmed in 24 days.  Every day Sisyphus is written on the board at school.  This refers to a myth about Sisyphus being forced by a god to push a massive boulder up a hill endlessly for eternity.  Bella Thorne was originally cast as one of Samantha’s friends but she dropped out of production.  Other movies about living the same day over and over are Groundhog Day, Edge of Tomorrow, 12 Dates of Christmas, Pete’s Christmas, Source Code, 17 Again, 13 going to 30, Shrek Forever After, and Happy Death Day.  Also, an episode of the X Files was about a woman reliving the same day and unable to change the outcome.  This film made money, the budget was $5 million and the gross worldwide was $16.1 million.

Monday, December 18, 2017

Ship of Fools 1965

     This film is based on a novel by Katherine Anne Porter.  The setting is 1933 on a German ocean liner on a 26-day voyage from Veracruz, Mexico to Bremerhaven, Germany.  The ship stops in Cuba to pick up a large number of Spanish farm laborers being shipped home.  The guests will have staterooms but the laborers will be housed like cattle in steerage.  Also, La Condesa will be picked up in Cuba and she is a Spanish countess.  The laborers and La Condesa will be disembarking in Tenerife.  La Condesa will be sent to a German-run prison for her traitorous activities in Cuba. 
      The passengers know their lives and the choices they have made are not the best.  They resolve to change and they do for the time they are on the ship.  When they disembark, they don’t keep their resolutions but remain as they were in the beginning?  There are so many different people in the stories that sometimes it’s difficult to keep track of some of the characters?  Simone Signoret and Oskar Werner are very good in their roles.  The world will be changing soon when World War II begins!!  3 1/2* (I liked this movie)

149 min, Drama directed by Stanley Kramer with Vivien Leigh, Simone Signoret, Jose Ferrer, Lee Marvin, Oskar Werner, Elizabeth Ashley, George Segal, Jose Greco, Michael Dunn, Charles Korvin, Heinz Ruhmann, Lilia Skala, BarBara Luna.

Note:  Imdb 7.2 out of 10, 81% critic 78% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Amazon 4.4* out of 5* with 130 reviews, TCM average user review 3.75* out of 5*.
Special Note:  Vivien Leigh had bouts of depression, alcoholism and she was abrasive to other actors.  She also complained about Lee Marvin’s stale alcohol breath?  This was the final film for Vivien and she died July 8, 1967 at the age of 53.  Katharine Hepburn was cast in the role played by Vivien but Spencer Tracy was in bad health.  Tracy visited the set regularly and he was a friend of the director Stanley Kramer.

Awards in 1966:  Academy Award Simone Signoret Best Actress, Oskar Werner Best Actor, Stanley Kramer Best Picture, Michael Dunn Supporting, Abby Mann Adapted Screenplay, Jean Louis and Bill Thomas Best Costume Design; Golden Globe Stanley Kramer Best Picture, Oskar Werner Best Actor, Simone Signoret Best Actress; BAFTA Oskar Werner, Simone Signoret; Writers Guild Abby Mann Best Writing.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Dracula 1931

      Renfield is a solicitor traveling to Transylvania through the Carpathian Mountains in Eastern Europe.  He’s on a journey to transfer Carfax Abbey in London to Count Dracula.  Renfield thinks this is just a business arrangement but he doesn’t know Dracula is a vampire.  He is drugged and turned into a servant for Dracula.  They make a sea voyage together on the schooner Vesta to London.  During the voyage, Dracula feeds on the crew and Renfield is the only living person on the vessel.  Dracula has made the journey in his coffin.  Upon his arrival in London, Dracula is interested in turning both Lucy Weston and Mina Seward into vampires.  He succeeds with but Lucy but Mina’s father Dr. Seward calls in Dr. Van Helsing to diagnose Mina. 
     Bela Lugosi makes a statement just by his intimidating presence.  There is also a creepy silence throughout the film.  Renfield has gone crazy and Mina's fiancee John Harker doesn't understand how serious and dire Mina's condition is??  He wants to take her away but that won't reverse her being a vampire!!  It's surprising how creepy this can be considering it was made in 1934.  Dracula thought it was a gift to become a vampire but we consider it to be a heinous crime!!  3 1/2* (I liked this movie)
75 min, Horror directed by Tod Browning with Bela Lugosi, Helen Chandler, David Manners, Dwight Frye, Edward Van Sloan, Herbert Bunston, Frances Dade.

Note:  Imdb 7.6 out of 10, 91% critic 81% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 4*, Amazon 4.4* out of 5* with 502 reviews.
Special Note:  Filmed in Universal City and Agua Dulce, California; North Yorkshire and Kent, England, UK.  Shown on TCM during Halloween.  Originally, Lon Chaney was scheduled to play Dracula but he died as this film went into production.  Bela Lugosi starred in the 1927 Broadway production of Dracula.  The masterpiece silent production of Nosferatu of 1922 is the greatest of all the vampire movies.  Bela Lugosi died in 1956 and he was buried wearing one of his many black silk capes but not the one worn in this film.  The cape is this film was auctioned by his son Bela Lugosi Jr. in 2011.  The starting bid was set at $1,200,000 but it failed to sell.  Dracula’s castle was painted on glass in front of the camera.  The coach was real but the background was not.  A Spanish-language version was filmed at night on the same set.  Lugosi was eager to repeat his stage success on film.  He agreed to $500 per week for seven weeks of shooting.  This was a very small amount even during the days of the Depression.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

The Black Cat 1934

     Joan and Peter Allison are on their honeymoon in Hungary.  They are traveling on a train and a porter asks them to share their compartment with Dr. Vitus Verdegast.  He is returning to the remains of the town he defended before he became a prisoner of war for fifteen years.  They also share a bus going to their hotel but it crashes in a mountain storm.  Joan is slightly injured and the group seeks refuge in a fortress-like home built upon the site of a bloody battlefield.  Famed architect Hjalmar Poelzig designed the house and he is a friend of Dr. Verdegast.
     There is a LOT going on in the house after the Allison’s and Dr. Verdegast arrive.  Joan Allison is sent to bed to recover from her injury and regain her strength.  Dr. Verdegast is afraid of black cats and there is one living in the house.  He is also asking Hjalmar what happened to the wife and daughter he left behind before the war.  There is also LOT of creepiness in this film since Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi are usually creepy and in horror movies!!  3 ½* (I liked this movie)

65 min, Adventure directed by Edgar G. Ulmer with Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi, David Manners, Julie Bishop, Egon Brecher, Lucille Lund, Henry Armetta, Albert Conti.

Note:  Imdb 7.1 out of 10, 87% critic 70% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Amazon 4.5* out of 5* with 84 reviews, TCM Leonard Maltin 3.5* out of 4* user reviews 4.40
Special Note:  Filmed in Universal City, California.  There is a mistake when the organ is played because none of the notes played are correct.  The sounds of explosions don’t match the visual scenes of Hjalmar’s house.   Shown on TCM during Halloween.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

George Gently Series 1 2007

     Inspector George Gently works with his assistant DS John Bacchus to investigate crimes committed by the criminal underworld.  There are three cases in this series.  Gently Go Man:  A notorious gangster murders George’s wife in a hit-and-run car accident.  The Burning Man:  George is thinking about retirement but he attends the funeral of another murder victim and he delays retirement to take on the case.  George works with Special Branch officers to identify a badly burned body near an RAF base in 1964.  Bombers Moon:  The beaten body of a wealthy German businessman is discovered in the harbor.  
     The crimes in this series can be rough to view at times.  George needs to solve the crimes, keep Bacchus on the straight and narrow as they whittle down the suspects as quickly as possible.  Northumberland is the scene of the first case.  George knows who killed his wife but it may difficult to pin the crime on the right man?  This series has stood the test of time with 8 seasons from 2007 to 2017.  3* (This series is OK)
Three episodes, each episode 89 min, Crime created by Peter Flannery with Martin Shaw, Lee Inglebly, Simon Hubbard, Maria Tecce, Christian Cooke, Sean McGinley, Owen Roe, Claire Rushbrook, Amy Huberman, Neil Watkins, Simon Coury.

Note:  Imdb 7.9 out of 10, Amazon 4.7* out of 5* with 161 reviews.

Pride and Glory 2008

     Francis Tierney, Sr., his sons Francis Rierney, Jr., Ray Tierney and son-in-law Jimmy Egan are police officers in the Washington Heights neighborhood of New York.  A tragedy occurs when four officers die in an ambush at a drug dealer’s apartment.  Everyone on the force and their families are devastated by this event.  There are signs of police corruption and a tremendous amount of pressure is applied to quickly clean house.  Jimmy is a hothead one of the drug dealers visits him at his home while his family is in the house.  This sets Jimmy off, how will this change the focus of the investigation and will there be more trouble?
     I didn't like anything about this movie!!  I think it's too long, every other word is swearing so almost no dialog, a lot of violence and brutality.  I can clearly see why the other reviews are low!!  1 1/2* (I really didn't like this movie)     

130 min, Crime directed by Gavin O’Connor with Edward Norton, Colin Farrell, Noah Emmerich, Jon Voight, Jennifer Ehle, John Ortiz, Frank Grillo, Shea Whigham, Lake Bell, Carmen Ejogo, Manny Perez, Wayne Duvall, Ramon Rodriguez.

Note:  Imdb 6.7 out of 10, 35% critic 49% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 
2*, Metacritic 45 out of 100 with 29 critics 6.6 out of 10 with 41 reviews.
Special Note:  Filmed in Brooklyn, Queens, and New York City.  This movie was filmed in 2006 but left on the shelf at New Line until Warner Bros. picked up New Line’s content.  Originally, Mark Wahlberg and Hugh Jackman in talks as leads.  Nick Nolte was cast as Francis Tierney, Sr. but he was having problems with an old knee injury.   Production was scheduled to begin in February 2002 but after September 11, 2001 it was decided filming corrupt NYPD officers would be inappropriate.  There were many heroes among the city’s police.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Trading Places 1983

     Brothers Mortimer and Randolph Duke own the commodities brokerage firm of Duke and Duke.  They have become very wealthy through the years.  Louis Winthrope is a businessman working for the company.  Mortimer and Randolph sometimes get a little bored and they make a $1.00 bet with each other.  They have been bickering over the question of a person’s environment or heredity that determines how successful they will be in life?  They frame Louis, he loses his job, goes to jail, loses his home and his fiancé.  They give everything except his fiancé that belonged to Louis to Billy Ray Valentine.  Billy is a street hustler pretending to use a cart and not able to use his legs.  Everyone he knows including his fiancé shuns Louis.  He meets Ophelia, she’s hired to cause his fiancé to leave him but instead they become friends.  She’s the only one who will help him. 
     It’s real cruelty for the Duke brothers to place this mean bet for just $1.00!!!  I don’t know if the experiment gives an answer to the question of environment or heredity?  It does let Louis know who his friends really are.  It also shows Billy Ray what his friends are really like.  I was surprised about Jamie Lee Curtis in the role of Ophelia as a hooker!!  3* (This movie is OK) 
116 min, Comedy directed by John Landis with Jamie Lee Curtis, Eddie Murphy, Dan Aykroyd, Ralph Bellamy, Denholm Elliott, Don Ameche, Avon Long, Tom Mardirosian, Charles Brown, Robert Curtis Brown.

Note:  Imdb 7.5 out of 10, 86% critic 85% audience, Roger Ebert 3 ½*, Amazon 4.7* with 1830 reviews, Metacritic 69 out of 100 with 10 critics 8.5 out of 10 with 77 reviews.
Special Note:  Filmed in St. Croix, US Virgin Islands; New York, Long Island; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Newark, New Jersey.  Originally Gene Wilder and Richard Pryor were to be in the roles of Louis and Billy Ray.  When Murphy took the role of Billy Ray, he asked that Wilder be replaced.  He didn’t want people to think he was trying to be another Richard Pryor.  A new ruling was enacted on Wall Street in 2010 and inspired by this film.  It’s called the Wall Street Transparency and Accountability Act.  It’s used to bar anyone from using secret inside information to corner markets.  The premise of this film may have been inspired by an event on March 27, 1980 when the Hunt brothers of Texas tried to corner the silver market.  The Duke brothers wearing matching suits and ties but Randolph wears a bowtie and Mortimer wears a necktie.  Former Senator Al Franken still gets royalties for his appearance as a baggage handler.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Tommy's Honor 2016

     This film is based on the novel Tommy’s Honor: The Story of Old Tom Morris and Young Tom Morris by Pamela Marin and Kevin Cook.  The beginning of this film is set in the early days of golf in 1866.  Old Tom Morris works as a golf caddy in Scotland and he expects his son 15-year-old Young Tommy to also be a golf caddy.  A father and son in Scotland know their station and it won’t do in this society to rise above your station.  Your peers will not condone this and neither with those above and below you.  Young Tommy starts to challenge the situation.  He’s a very good golfer and he doesn’t want to remain a caddy for the rest of his life like his father.  The aristocracy gives Tommy the opportunity to play but only on their terms.
     I thought this was good, the story line is good and the golf history is interesting too.  It is a real picture of life in this time period with a wide gulf between the nobility and the regular people.  The biggest difference is status and wealth or poverty.  Of course, those who have want to hold down those who have not!!  Personally, I have to admit that I don’t know anything about golf and I really don’t want to play or know very much!!  All of this is not needed to enjoy this film and it reminds be of the film Dream Alliance also titled Dark Horse of 2015 about a race horse in Wales.  3 ½* (I liked this movie)

112 min, Bio directed by Jason Connery with Sam Neill, Ophelia Lovibond, Peter Mullan, Jack Lowden, Peter Ferdinando, Max Deacon, Paul Reid, Ian Pirie, Therese Bradley, Paul Tinto, James Smillie, Paul Tinto, Kylie Hart, Benjamin Wainwright.

Note:  Imdb 6.1 out of 10, 67% critic 71% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 2 ½*, Metacritic 56 out of 100 with 22 critics, Amazon 4.1 out of 5* with 80 reviews.
Special Note:  Filmed in Scotland, UK.  This film won Best Feature Film at the 2016 British Academy Scotland Awards.  Old Tommy is the two-time winner of the first major golf tournament, The Open Championship which he founded in 1860.  He also established golf’s standard round of 18 holes.  Young Tommy won The Open three times in a row while in his teens.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Norman 2016

      Included in the title are the words, The Moderate Rise and Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer.  Norman Oppenheimer is the President of New York based Oppenheimer Strategies.  He has a word-of-mouth business consulting with American-Israeli businessmen or women and political officials.  He primarily works as a fixer and he does jobs that others don’t want to do.  Really he is a shyster and he’s not very good.  His office is just his cell phone and he wanders the streets.  He promises to make connections and set up meetings.  He name drops but he doesn’t really know the people he’s talking about.  He usually says his deceased wife worked with this person.
     I have to say right away that I didn’t like anything about this film!!  It’s just a bunch of Norman meeting people and trying to con them.  There isn’t anything genuine about anything Norman does or says!!  It’s filmed with a four-act structure but the two middle acts seem to have very little substance??  Really, there isn't much substance to four acts!!  Norman reminds me of a wheeler-dealer car salesman??  He will tell you anything you want to hear to make the sale or the deal!!  Richard Gere does a good job in his role as Norman and he seems to be smaller in stature and thinner?  1 ½* (I really didn’t like this movie)

118 min, Drama directed and written by Joseph Cedar with Richard Gere, Lior Ashkenazi, Michael Sheen, Steve Buscemi, Yehuda Almagor, Neta Riskin, Josh Charles, Dan Stevens, Harris Yulin, Doveal’e Glickman, Tali Sharon, Miranda Bailey.

Note:  Imdb 6.3 out of 10, 88% critic 56% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 3*, Amazon 3.3* out of 5* with 19 reviews, Metacritic l75 out of 100 with 3 critics 6.3 out of 10 with 18 reviews, EmpireOnline 4* out of 5*, RollingStone 3.5* out of 4*.
Special Note:  This is the first English-speaking film for writer and director Joseph Cedar.  Half of the film was shot in New York City and the other half in Jerusalem, Israel. 

Sunday, December 10, 2017

How to be a Latin Lover 2017

    Maximo is a penniless gold-digger and he has lived as a boy-toy in a marriage with Peggy 25 years.  They go to purchase a new Lamborgini for Peggy’s birthday but it’s really for Maximo.  Unfortunately for Maximo, the young car salesman becomes Peggy’s new boy toy.  Maximo is tossed out on the street, there was a prenuptial agreement and Maximo gets nothing.  He goes to stay with his younger sister and her son but this is not a happy arrangement.  All Maximo can think about is connecting with another wealthy woman.
     Maximo is very shallow and he is very self-centered.  He even claims that he is younger than his sister but he is the older brother?  He needs to get a real job and turn his life around instead of being a sponge!!  There is a lot of humor in this film.  3* (This movie is OK)  

105 min, Comedy directed by Ken Marino with Eugenio Derbez, Salma Hayek, Raphael Alejandro, Rob Lowe, Kristen Bell, McKenna Grace, Raquel Welch, Linda Lavin, Renee Taylor, Rob Corddry, Rob Riggle, Rob Huebel, Michael Cera.

Note:  Imdb 5.9 out of 10, 38% critic 62% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 1 1/2*, Metacritic 54 out of 100 with 11 critics 5.4 out of 10 with 35 reviews.
Special Note:  Filmed in Santa Clarita and Pasadena, California.  Eugenio Derbez’s son in real life plays Maximo at 22 years old in the beginning of the film.  There is a mistake with the truck in the opening scene.  The truck is supposed to be driving down a road.  The instruments show no amps drawn from the battery and the coolant temperature is below the lowest end of the cold range?