Monday, June 26, 2017

Franz 2016


     This film is based on the American anti-war drama Broken Lullaby of 1932 directed by Ernst Lubitsch.  Ernst based his film on a play by Maurice Rostand.  Ernst was a German filmmaker born in January 1892 and he died November 1947.  The setting is Quedlinburg, Germany of 1919.  Anna was engaged to Frantz Hoffmeister but he was killed in the Great War.  She is living with Frantz’s parents and they are all devastated by this loss.  A mysterious Frenchman is noticed paying his respects at the grave of Frantz.  Anna does some checking and she learns the man is Adrien Rivoire.  He begins a friendship with Anna and Frantz’s parents Magda and Doktor Hans.  Their hearts begin to heal by listening to the stories of the friendship in Paris between Adrien and Frantz. 
     There is tremendous animosity between the French and German people during this time because of the great losses of life on both sides in the war.  The wounds of the people are so deep that they want to lash out because of their intense pain.  Anna had hoped to visit Paris with Frantz for their honeymoon and she speaks both French and German.  Adrien speaks French but some German.  This film is in black and white except for some scenes in color.  There is a LOT of drama, emotion and melancholy in this film.  3 ½* (I liked this movie)

113 min, Drama directed by Francoiz Ozon with Pierre Niney, Paula Beer, Ernst Stotzner, Marie Bruber, Johann von Bulow, Anton von Lucke, Cyrielle Clair, Alice de Lencquesaing, Axel Wandtke, Rainer Egger, Merlin Rose.

Note:  Imdb 7.5 out of 10, 90% critic 85% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 2*, Amazon 4.7* out of 5* with 8 reviews.
Special Note:  Filmed in Saxony-Anhalt and Saxony, Germany; Essonne, Paris, Haute-Vienne and Oise, France.  Other films by Francois Ozon are See the Sea, Under the Sand, 8 Women, Swimming Pool, Young and Beautiful, The New Girlfriend, Angel, Ricky.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Passengers 2016


     Aurora Lane and Jim Preston are among the sleeping crew of the spaceship Starship Avalon.  The ship is sponsored by a huge corporation and is on a 120-year voyage to a distant colony planet called the Homestead II.  Earth has become very crowded and this is a profitable way to move a lot of people elsewhere.  There are 5,258 people in hibernation, 5,000 passengers and 258 crew members.  There is a malfunction in one of the hibernation pods and Jim Preston is awakened 90 years from their destination.  There is Arthur the bartender but he is an android and he is the only company Jim has for a year.  He decides he must awaken someone else from their hibernation.  He feels he can't possibly spend 89 years alone!!
     There is a lot of CGI in this film and the only characters are Jim, Aurora, Arthur and Gus Mancuso, a Chief Deck Officer awakened because his pod also malfunctioned.  The pods are supposed to be 100% foolproof so how did Jim and Gus awaken?  What is wrong with the ship that caused this malfunction?  I thought it was interesting that many options on the ship for food, clothing and quality of the room are based on the class of the guest!!  Like airline seating based on how much you are willing to pay??  3 1/2* (I liked this movie)

116 min, Adventure directed by Morten Tyldum with Jennifer Lawrence, Chris Pratt, Michael Sheen, Laurence Fishburne, Andy Garcia, Vince Foster, Kara Flowers, Conor Brophy, Julee Cerda, Aurora Perrineau, Lauren Farmer, Emerald Mayne, Kristin Brock, Tom Ferrari, Quansae Rutledge.

Note:  Imdb 7.0 out of 10, 31% critic 63% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 1 ½*, Amazon 4.1* out of 5* with 1800 reviews.
Special Note:  Filmed in Fayetteville and Atlanta, Georgia.  Some scenes were filmed at Pinewood Atlanta Studios, Fayetteville, Georgia.  The scenes at the ship’s bar have similarities to The Shining directed by Stanley Krubrick, 1980.  There is a poster with symbols under the title and they represent Morse code for S.O.S.  Jennifer Lawrence’s character is named after Disney’s Sleeping Beauty Aurora of 1959.  Chris Pratt was paid $12 million and Jennifer Lawrence was paid $20 million plus 30% of the profits.  Starship Avalon shares this name with the mythical location where King Arthur recovers from his wounds.  There is another film with the title Passengers from 2008 with Anne Hathaway and Patrick Wilson.  Hathaway is a therapist assigned to counsel surviving passengers after a plane crash

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Theeb 2014


     The setting of this film is 1916 during WWI and the Great Arab Revolt against the ruling Ottoman Empire in the province of Hijaz.  Recently orphaned, Hussein and his brother Theeb go with Edward and Marji into the desert.  Edward is a British Officer and Marji is an Arab.  Hussein and Theeb are the second and third sons of a Bedouin sheik of the Howeitat tribe.  The family has worked as pilgrim guides for many years.  The brothers originally intended to let the other two men go alone but Hussein believes he should go with them because knows where the wells are located.  Theeb gets into trouble several times concerning a wooden box rumored to contain gold.  Edward warns him to leave the box alone but Theeb is very curious.  The first well they reach has been contaminated and the men notice a group in the distance watching them.
     Theeb means wolf but also manhood in the Bedouin language.  The scenery of this area is very beautiful and also very desolate.  It’s not easy to stay alive in such a hostile environment.  I thought the behavior of the camels was unusual and amazing!  They have adapted fully to their location and are the fittest to survive.  I wondered what was in the wooden box and I was wrong about it’s contents?  I was surprised about the ending as well.  3 ½* (I liked this movie)

100 min, Adventure directed by Naji Abu Nowar with Jacir Eid Al-Hwietat, Hussein Salameh Al-Sweilhiyeen, Hassan Mutlag Al-Maraiyeh, Jack Fox, Marji Audeh, Hmood Ali, Abdul Aziz Mousa, Baha Othman, Ali Omayan.

Note:  Imdb 7.3 out of 10, 97% critic 76% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Amazon 4.2* out of 5* with 86 reviews, Metacritic 80 out of 100 with 18 critics 7.1 out of 10 with 17 reviews, The Guardian 3* out of 5*.
Special Note:  Filmed in Wadi Rum, Wadi Araba, Daba’a, Jordan.  This film is a Jordanian Arabic-language production and all the actors are non-professionals except for Jack Fox in the role of Edward, the British soldier.  The actors are from the Bedouin community in Southern Jordan.  The filming took place in the same area where Lawrence of Arabia was shot in the early 1960’s.  Scenes of The Martian were also filmed in this area.  There is heavy tourist activity in this location and that needed to be avoided.  It took five weeks to film and there were other difficulties.  The sand, heat, flash floods, storms, rain and the desert well sequence with Theeb needed to be filmed again at a later date.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Alias Betty 2001


     The title in French is Betty Fisher et autres histoires.  Betty Fisher’s mother Margot comes to stay with Betty in Paris.  Margot is having some medical tests that she can’t receive where she lives.  Betty is an author, she is divorced and she has a young son Joseph.  Betty puts Joseph in his room to take a nap and she talks to her mother.  Margot isn’t feeling well and she goes outside into the backyard for some fresh air.  She sees that Joseph has fallen out of his bedroom window.  He was interested in a bird he saw outside and he opened the window.  They immediately go to the hospital but Joseph dies from a brain hemorrhage.  Betty goes into a dark depression but her mother has a solution.  She kidnaps Jose, another child about the same age as Joseph.  Margot tells Betty that the child belongs to her friends and they have gone on vacation but their sitter fell through.
     I didn’t know how this movie was going to turn out??  Betty seems like she doesn’t want to accept Jose.  If she tries to take him back to his mother, Betty will probably be accused of the kidnapping?  Since she is ill, it will also be difficult for Margot if she is arrested for the kidnapping?  There is a lot of information in the newspapers and on the news about the kidnapping.  Jose’s mother seems more interested in being on television than in the loss of her son?  Realistically, how did Margot even come up this solution?  3 ½* (I liked this movie) 

103 min, Drama directed by Claude Miller with Sandrine Kiberlain, Nicole Garcia, Mathilde Seigner, Luck Mervil, Edouard Baer, Stephane Freiss, Yves Jacques, Roschdy Zem, Consuelo De Haviland, Yves Verhoeven.

Note:  Imdb 6.9 out of 10, 92% critic 62% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Amazon 4.4* out of 5* with 8 reviews, Metacritic 73 out of 100 with 20 critics.
Special Note:  There is a scene with books on a shelf, Ruth Rendell is the author of all the books.  She wrote the book that contains money on the shelf, the title is Jeux des Mains and this translates to Games of the Hands. 

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Manchester by the Sea 2016


     Lee Chandler is forced to return home when his brother Joe dies.  His nephew Patrick needs Lee to step in and be his guardian.  Lee didn’t know that he would be named as guardian and he struggles with the decision.  Lee has a lot of bad memories of the past that caused him to leave Manchester.  He felt he needed to distance himself from his history.  Lee lives in a basement apartment in Quincy away from his family and he works as a janitor.  This area of Massachusetts depends primarily on the fishing industry. 
     Flashbacks are used to tell Lee's history in Manchester.  He can barely carry on a civil conversation with another person?  If someone is looking at him too long, he’ll go over and give them a punch in the face.  He drinks too much and he doesn't want to move back to Manchester.  Patrick doesn't want to move to Quincy, leave his friends, school, sport programs and band.  I question the purpose of this film?  It's not entertaining, Lee is one of the sourest people to be in a film?  He doesn't learn from his mistakes, he doesn't ever let go of the past and he doesn't even learn from the past?  Is being sour enough to win an Academy Award?  3* (This movie is OK)

137 min, Drama directed by Kenneth Lonergan with Casey Affleck, Michelle Williams, Kyle Chandler, Richard Donelly, Virginia Loring Cooke, Quincy Tyler Bernstine, Missy Yager, Stephen Henderson.

Note:  Imdb 7.9 out of 10, 96% critic 78% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 4*, Amazon 2.8* out of 5* with 2907 reviews, ReelViews 3 1/2** out of 4*.
Special Note:  Filmed in Manchester-by-the-Sea, Beverly, Lynn, Essex, Gloucester, Rockport, Salem Quincy, Cape Ann, Massachusetts.  This is the first movie co-distributed by a streaming service, Amazon Video, to win an Oscar nomination for Best Picture.  Matt Damon was initially set to direct and star.  Kevin Grondin plays a funeral director and this is his job in real life.  Manchester-by-the-Sea is portrayed as working class and blue collar but it’s actually very upscale and affluent.  Michelle Williams is in this film for less than 12 minutes.  Filming was completed in 32 days.  In some cases, the deceased are not buried until spring and it depends on the cemetery.  A steam shovel can be used because of the frozen ground but some cemeteries won't permit the use of this equipment.  The real Manchester Fire Department and EMS personnel are used in the film. 

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Secrets of War 2004


     The setting of this film is the summer of 1943 and the title in Dutch is Oorlogsgeheimen.  The war is closing in on the people of a small town and the Mayor is siding with the German’s.  Turr and Lambert are best friends but their families are on opposite sides.  Turr isn’t certain but he thinks his parents are working for the resistance.  They tell Turr he needs to separate from Lambert but Turr refuses.  A new girl comes to town and she is living with relatives.  Tuur and Lambert both like her but Tuur learns she is using an assumed name and she is really Jewish. 
     This town is dangerous for everyone except those helping the Germans.  Jewish people can easily be sent without a second thought to concentration camps when they are discovered.  Other people can be sent to labor camps that are spoken of as not being so bad?  Anyone in the resistance will be immediately rounded up and shot.  The young actors are very good and natural in their roles.  3 ½* (I liked this movie)
 
95 min, Drama directed by Dennis Bots with Maas Bronkhuyzen, Joes Brauers, Michael Nierse, Tonko Bossen, Luck Feit, Juul Vrijdag, Ad van Kempen, Loek Peters, Nils Verkooijen, Pien Westendorp, Eva Duijvestein.

Note:  Imdb 7.1 out of 10, 92% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Amazon 4.5* out of 5* with 38 reviews, Letterboxd 3.4* out of 5* with 119 reviews.
Special Note:  Filmed in Maastricht, Limburg, Netherlands; Melin, Coolen-Riemst, Belgium; Mertert and Petange, Luxembourg.  The title song Onze Vriendschap at the end credits means Our Friendship and it signifies that the friendship between Turr and Lambert will continue.   

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Moonlight 2016


     This film is based on the unproduced play In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue by MacArthur Fellow Tarell Alvin McCraney.  The film is divided into three time periods in the life of Chiron, young adolescence, mid-teen and young adult.  As a child Chiron’s dad is gone, he lives with his single and crack addicted mother Paula.  They live in a crime-ridden neighborhood in Miami.  Chiron is small, shy and withdrawn.  Paula neglects him because she is busy getting her fixes.  He’s usually bullied, criticized and he doesn’t understand why this happens.  His only friend is Kevin who is the same age.  Chiron hangs out with drug dealer Juan and his girlfriend Teresa.  Their home is a sanctuary for him to escape his problems.
     During the mix-up with the Academy Awards of 2017, La La Land was announced as the winner for Best Picture but it was actually Moonlight.  The team for La La Land was on the stage but they had to walk off and let the Moonlight team take the stage.  This film is about characters and their identities.  Juan wants to help Chiron because he sees something in him but he’s also keeping his mother from him by selling her the drugs.  You see the growth and changes in Chiron as he ages but there is not as much focus on his friend Kevin.  3* (This movie was OK)

111 min, Drama directed by Barry Jenkins, Mahershala Ali, Shariff Earp, Duan Sanderson, Alex R. Hibbert, Janelle Monae, Naomie Harris, Jaden Piner.

Note:  Imdb 7.5 out of 10, 98% critic 80% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 4*, Amazon 3.8* out of 5* with 1028 reviews,
Special Note:  Filmed in Miramar, Miami, Liberty City and Virginia Key, Florida.  The three different actors who play Chiron and Kevin never met because the director wanted them to build their own characters.  Director Barry Jenkins and writer Tarell Alvin McCraney both grew up in the Liberty City neighborhood of Miami.  Brad Pitt helped the director get funds and the distribution deal he needed.  Filming was completed in 25 days between October and November 2015.  Naomie Harris spent a month researching the lives of drug addicts by watching videos of crack addicts on YouTube.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

The Pleasure Seekers 1964


     This film is a not as well done musical remake of the 1954 film Three Coins in the Fountain.  Maggie Williams and her roommate Fran Hobson are living in Madrid.  They welcome their third roommate Susie Higgins after she arrives from the US.  Maggie is a secretary and she’s in love with her married boss.  Fran is an aspiring actress, flamenco dancer and singer.  Susie meets a wealthy playboy and her roommates have warned her about his methods of wooing women.  Fran meets a doctor when he accidently hits her with his scooter.
     The plot is thin and used too many times before.  It seems more of a showcase vehicle for the talents of Ann-Margret.  The only good part is the beautiful scenery of Madrid.  I intended to watch another film instead of this one but I was mixed up on the titles?  2 ½* (This movie is just so-so)

107 min, Comedy directed by Jean Negulesco with Ann-Margret, Anthony Franciosa, Carol Lynley, Gardner McKay, Pamela Tiffin, Andre Lawrence, Gene Tierney, Vito Scotti, Isobel Elsom, Maurice Marsac, Shelby Grant.

Note:  Imdb 5.7 out of 10, 29% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Amazon 4.3* out of 5* with 27 reviews, TCM 3.68 out of 5*.
Special Note:  Filmed in Museo del Prado, Castilla-La Mancha, Andalucia and Madrid, Spain.  This the last film for Gene Tierney and a critical and financial disappointment at the box-office.

The Light Between Oceans 2016


     This film is an adaptation of a M.L. Stedman novel.  Tom Sherbourne was in France during WWI and he feels very weary from what he saw.  He also feels a LOT of guilt that he lived and many others died.  He takes a temporary job as a lighthouse keeper but is offered the job permanently when the original keeper can’t return.  The location is the remote and isolated Janus Rock Lighthouse at Cape Campbell in Marlborough, New Zealand.  From the lighthouse top, two oceans can be seen at once.  It takes a special person to live with the lonesomeness for long stretches.  When he takes the job, Tom meets Isabel Graysmark and he learns she lost two brothers in the war.  She is the daughter of his boss and later they get married.  They want to have children but Isabel has two miscarriages in a span of three years.  She becomes very depressed until one day something very unusual happens.  A rowboat washes ashore and there is a man in the boat but he is dead.  The amazing thing is that there is a baby girl in the boat too.  She is fine and just very hungry.
      Be prepared for a real tearjerker of a movie!!  I watched half of this film and then I needed to look up how it turned out so I could watch without feeling too much drama.  Tom actually has Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and this is before this condition had a name.  One personal item I learned from this film is that it’s more difficult to hold onto bitterness because you need to live with it and nurture it every day.  If you change your feelings into forgiveness, you can let it go and move forward with your life without looking back and remembering the bitterness.  When you hang on, the hurt and pain stay with you constantly without ever letting go.  There isn’t any way to change the past or other people and make it different.  4* (I really liked this movie)

133 min, Drama directed by Derek Cianfrance with Michael Fassbender, Alicia Vikander, Rachel Weisz, Florence Clery, Jack Thompson, Thomas Unger, Jane Menelaus, Garry MacDonald, Anthony Hayes, Emily Barclay.

Note:  Imdb 7.2 out of 10, 59% critic 61% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 2 1/2*, Amazon 4.1* out of 5* with 325 reviews, Rolling Stone 2* out of 4*.
Special Note:  Filmed in Stanley, Tasmania, Australia; Marlborough, Otago, New Zealand.  The lighthouse is at the southern approach to Cook Strait and only accessible at low tide.  There can be high seas whipped up by storm force winds.  The swells can be 4 meters and the winds up to or more than 100km/h.  Many of the men in Stanley adopted the look of the 1920’s and grew beards as extras in filming.  Five actresses played the baby as she grew up.  A set of twins as the baby, another child as a one-year-old, one more child as a four-year-old and the last as an adult.  Fassbender and Vikander have been in a relationship since 2014.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Paper Planes 2014


     This film is loosely based on a 2009 episode of Australian Story called Fly With Me.  Dylan is 12 years old and he lives with his dad Jack in Australia.  They recently lost their mother/wife in a car accident.  Dylan is trying hard to recover but Jack is having a more difficult time with depression.  He sleeps on the couch and he doesn’t go to work.  Dylan is very interested when Jethro comes to school to teach the students how to make paper planes.  Dylan’s plane flies the longest and he thinks he can make it to the Aussie Junior Championships in Sydney.  It’s even possible he could go to the World Junior Paper Plane Championship in Tokyo.  Will he be able to do any of this with is father in such bad shape every day and with little money?
     I didn’t know there were championships in paper airplanes?  The scenes of the Australian countryside are beautiful.  Dylan learns a lot more than just how to fold paper airplanes.  He learns about friendship, bullies, strength when facing adversity and pulling his family together.  3 ½* (I liked this movie)

96 min, Family directed by Robert Connolly with Sam Worthington, Ed Oxenbould, Deborah Mailman, Ena Imai, Nicholas Bakopoulos-Cooke, Julian Dennison, Terry Norris, Peter Rowsthorn, David Wenham.

Note:  Imdb 6.2 out of 10, 82% critic 63% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Amazon 4.3* out of 5* with 281 reviews.
Special Note:  Filmed in Perth, Floreat, Whiteman and Burswood, Western Australia, Australia; Bull Creek WA, Peppermint Grove WA, Australia; Tokyo, Japan. Julian Dennison is this film as classmate Kevin and he played Ricky Baker in Hunt for the Wilderpeople of 2016.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Francesco 1989


     This film is told in flashback, it is the story of St. Francis of Assisi who lived 1181-1226 and based on a novel by Hermann Hesse.  Francesco was a privileged youth, a prison of war and an heir who turned away from his life.  He became a beggar, gave all he had to the poor and he inspired others to accept the life of poverty.  He founded the Franciscan Order of Friars Minor and he sought the blessing of the Pope. One of his followers was the woman Chiara Offreduccio and she later became St. Clare.  Many of his followers began to despair and rebel at the expectations he established.  He goes alone to the mountains to ask Lord to speak to him.
     I felt this film would’ve been better if unknown actors played Francesco and Chiara?  I couldn’t get beyond who they were as actors?   There is a lot of arguing between the different groups, Francesco and his parents, his followers, those against him and his beliefs.  Seems like a different crowd is always in a confrontation with him?  He does have a loyal core group of support.  I think the ratings depend upon the  interest of the viewer in the historical presentation or the film itself?  2 ½* (This movie is so-so)  

119 min, Bio directed by Liliana Cavani with Mickey Rourke, Helena Bonham Carter, Andrea Ferreol, Nikolaus Dutsch, Peter Berling, Hanns Zischler, Mario Adorf, Paolo Bonacelli, Fabio Bussotti, Matteo Corsini.

Note:  Imdb 6.5 out of 10, 44% critic on Rotten Tomatoes, Amazon 3.6* out of 5* with 47 reviews, Letterboxd 3.1* out of 5* with 122 reviews, TVGuide 1* out of 4*.
Special Note:  Filmed in Abruzzo, Umbria, Lazio, Tuscany, Italy.  Supposedly, Mickey Rourke donated his salary of $1.5 million to the Provisional IRA.  Liliana Cavani also made a film in 1966 about Francis of Assissi.  There are four other films about St. Francis, 1950, 1961, 1972, 2002 (TV movie).  Selected by the Vatican in the religion category on its list of 45 great films.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

The Keeping Room 2014

     The time period of this film is the conclusion of the Civil War during the Carolinas Campaign in the spring of 1865.  Augusta and Louise are living on their farm with their slave Mad.  They need to be constantly alert for both Union and Rebel soldiers coming to their home.  Louise is Augusta’s younger sister and a raccoon by the creek bites her.  She starts to get very sick and there is a chance the raccoon has rabies.  Augusta rides to the local store to see if they have any medicine.  There isn’t much left at the store except liquor but Moll gives her a poultice that might help.  That’s all they have to give her.  Augusta sees there are two Union soldiers drinking liquor at the bar.
      I thought the plot for this film was very thin.  It just seems a conveyance for gratuitous violence?  Women of any race were not respected during this time period.  Nothing historical is given about the sisters, only one story told by Mad.  Augusta knows how to ride a horse and she can shoot a gun as well as any man.  2 ½* (This movie is so-so)

95min, Drama directed by Daniel Barber with Brit Marling, Hailee Steinfeld, Sam Worthington, Muna Otaru, Kyle Soller, Ned Dennehy, Amy Nuttall, Nicholas Pinnock, Anna-Maria Nabirye, Luminita Fillimon.

Note:  Imdb 6.0 out of 10, 73% critic 49% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 2 1/2*, Amazon 3.7* out of 5* with 80 reviews
Special Note:  Filmed in Poienari of Arges County, Bucharest, Carpathain Mountains, Wallachia, Muntenia, Romania.  A keeping room is an area beside the kitchen.  The name dates back to Colonial times and families would sleep in this area when the rest of the house was cold.  Usually, the kitchen stove provided the only heated place in the house.  The screenplay is by Julia Hart and it was featured on the 2012 Black List of most liked unmade scripts of that year.  There is a novel with the same title published in 1999 by Anna Myers but it’s about the Americans at war with the British.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

In Dubious Battle 2016


     This film is based on a novel of the same name by John Steinbeck published in 1936.  The setting is the labor movement for farm workers in California during the 1930’s.  Mac McLeod and Jim Nolan begin to rally workers at a fruit farm in California.  Mac is an old hand at this work but Jim hasn’t done this before.  It’s during the Depression and the workers are not getting paid what they were offered and the working conditions are poor.  The people were promised $3 an hour but they are getting $1 an hour.  An elderly man falls from a ladder and breaks his leg.  It looks as if the ladder rung had been cut to cause the fall?
     The workers promise one of the farmers that they will pick his apples without wages if he will let them stay on his property while they fight the owners of the other farms.  The other farmers come down strong and hard on the workers.  They don’t mind killing a few of them to set an example.  They also don’t mind other dirty tricks to get the workers to return.  The only thing they won’t do is pay them $3 and hour.  Mac and Jim are supposed to guide the workers.  There is a LOT more they should’ve done to protect the people and the owner of the farm where they are living.  They were too naïve and didn’t expect this kind of harshness.  3* (This movie is OK)

110 min, Drama directed by James Franco with Nat Wolff, Ed Harris, Vincent D’Onofrio, James Franco, Selena Gomez, Ahna O’Reilly, Analeigh Tipton, Jack Kehler, Scott Haze, Sam Shepard, Joel Marsh Garland, John Savage.

Note:  Imdb 6.2 out of 10, 29% critic 38% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 2*, Amazon 3.4* out of 5* with 43 reviews.
Special Note:  To keep the budget down Franco used extras in scenes that should have had stuntmen.  Parts of the movie were shot in Tieton, Washington. 

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Allied 2016


     The setting for this film is the middle of WWII in 1942.  Royal Canadian Air Force paratrooper Max Vatan is dropped into the desert of Morocco.  A car picks up Wing Commander Vatan and he is taken to meet Parisian Marianne Beausejour.  She is a member of the French Resistance.  Their mission is to assassinate the German Ambassador in Casablanca.  Max and Marianne need to convince everyone that they are a happily married couple.  Marianne helps Max with his French and his Paris accent.  After their mission, Max and Marianne leave for England, they plan to marry and have a family.  They have a baby girl during an air raid and they name her Ana.
     It’s a relief that this film is not full of intense battle scenes and many wounded soldiers!!  It’s more on a par with Casablanca of 1942.  Both films begin in Casablanca, Morocco and end at a plane.  The photography of the desert is very beautiful and I found it interesting for a German plane to be shot down in a backyard?  3 1/2* (I liked this movie)

124 min, Action directed by Robert Zemeckis with Brad Pitt, Marion Cotillard, Jared Harris, Xavier De Guillebon, Camille Cottin, Vincent Latorre, August Diehl, Anton Blake, Daniel Betts, Sally Messham.

Note:  Imdb 7.1 out of 10, 60% critic 65% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 4*, Metacritic 60 out of 100 with 44 critics 6.6 out of 10 with 167 reviews, Amazon 4.0 out of 5 with 237 reviews.
Special Note:  Filmed in Canary Islands, Spain; London, England, UK, Medicine Hat, Alberta, Canada.  Cotillard tutored Pitt for his French dialog.  Inspiration for the costumes came from Casablanca of 1942 and Now, Voyager of 1942.  This is Pitt’s fourth WWII movie, Inglourious Basterds 2009, Beyond All Boundaries 2009 and Fury 2014.  In a scene with Pitt reading a novel, the book is Brighton Rock by Graham Greene.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk 2016


     This film is based on a bestselling novel by Ben Fountain published in 2012.  Billy Lynn is a 19-year-old private in the US Army.  He’s in Bravo Squad and they just lost their squad leader in a battle in Iraq.  They are temporarily sent home and they are featured on a Dallas Cowboys Thanksgiving Day football game.  At times during the halftime show, Billy has flashbacks of what happened in Iraq. 
     The soldiers are just propaganda tools on display for viewing.  Everything about this film seems off kilter?  One thing I know for sure is soldiers don’t tell each other I love you??  I am surprised this film is directed by Ang Lee, it doesn’t have the substance of his other projects.  I didn’t know in the beginning that the time setting is 2004 so I couldn’t figure out why Beyonce is singing with Destiny’s Child?  I thought this would be good but it’s a waste and a disappointment!!  1 ½* (I really didn’t liked this movie)

113 min, Drama directed by Ang Lee with Joe Alwyn, Garrett Hedlund, Arturo Castro, Mason Lee, Astro, Beau Knapp, Ismael Cruz Cordova, Barney Harris, Vin Diesel, Steve Martin Chris Tucker, Kristen Stewart.

Note:  Imdb 6.3 out of 10, 46% critic 43% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 2*, Amazon 3.3* out of 5* with 116 reviews, Metacritic 53 out of 100 with 42 critics 6.0 out of 10 with 41 reviews.
Special Note:  Filmed in Locust Grove, Atlanta and Canton, Georgia; Erfoud, Morocco; Santa Clarita, California.  Real life NFL stars J.J. Watt and Richard Sherman make cameos as Dallas players.  There is a mistake with the Army uniforms.  They were dessert uniforms during the show but at the real 2004 NFL Halftime show, the soldiers wore woodland camouflage uniforms.  They didn't have a briefing about the setup before the show, that doesn't seem correct?

Sunday, June 11, 2017

The Girl on the Train 2016


     This film is based on a novel by Paula Hawkins, published in 2015 and the fastest-selling adult novel in history.  More than 3 million copies were sold in the United States as of July 2015.  Rachel Watson is divorced and she’s not dealing with it very well at all.  Every day she takes the train to and from New York and she watches the people in the homes along the tracks.  She especially watches the house she used to live in with her husband.  He is now married to Anna and they have a young daughter.  She also watches Megan and Scott Hipwell.  She thinks they are the perfect couple and she wishes she had a life like they have.  One of Rachel’s biggest problems is drinking and she drinks a LOT every day.  She prefers vodka and martinis are especially good!!
     The train is going along the Hudson River in Westchester County, New York.  Rachel suffers a lot of loneliness and isolation and she pines for her past.  She felt she had it all and she regrets that Anna is living among all the furnishings she selected.  She begins to become more of a stalker of the people she is watching.  Her ex-husband claims that Anna is afraid of Rachel and that she tried to kidnap their daughter.  I thought this was good and I thought about the film after viewing.  I didn’t know the good guys from the bad guys either?  It’s very common for people to want to live in the past because they hate their current lives so much.  Divorce is a major life event.    4* (I really liked this movie)
 
112 min, Crime directed by Tate Taylor with Emily Blunt, Haley Bennett, Rebecca Ferguson, Justin Theroux, Luke Evans, Edgar Ramirez, Laura Prepon, Allison Janey, Darren Goldstein, Lisa Kudrow, Lana Young.

Note: Imdb 6.5 out of 10, 44% critic 49% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 1 ½*, Amazon 3.7* out of 5* with 2068 reviews, Rolling Stone 3* out of 4*.
Special Note:  Filmed in Hastings-on-Hudson, Dobbs Ferry, Irvington, Ardsley, White Plains, Ardsley-on-Hudson, Irvington, Yonkers, Pleasantville, Bear Mountain, Brooklyn, New York.  Emily Blunt was pregnant at the start of filming and she kept this a secret from the cast and crew except for her friend Justin Theroux.  Production began November 2015 and she was in her fifth month when filming ended in February 2016.  Margot Robbie was considered for the role of Megan Hipwell and Kate Mara was also thinking about this role.  The setting of the novel was in England and the train was going to London.  There are similarities to the Alfred Hitchcock films The Lady Vanishes of 1938, Rear Window of 1954, Psycho of 1960 and Vertigo of 1958.  There is another film with the same title of 2014 but a different subject and a documentary.
Awards: People’s Choice Favorite Thriller Movie.
Nominations:  Emily Blunt Best Leading Actress, BAFTA, Screen Actors Guild, Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films, NTFCA.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Fog over Frisco 1934


     Arlene Bradford lives with her stepfather and her stepsister in San Francisco.  Arlene is a spoiled, bored, wealthy socialite.  She finances her lifestyle by using her fiancé Spencer Carlton’s access to her stepfather’s brokerage firm.  She also uses her connections to steal security bonds for a crime boss.  Arlene disappears and her stepsister Val tries to discover what happened to her.  Society reporter Tony Sterling and photojournalist Izzy Wright try to help her to solve the case.
     Arlene is a brat and she doesn’t care!!  Her stepfather pressures her to change her ways and he’s supported by her fiancé Spencer.  She may be too much for all of them?  Why should she change her ways when she’s using people and having a lot of fun doing this?  I thought it was interesting to see the city of San Francisco in this time period, the clothing, hairstyles and the cars.  A lot of modes of transportation are used including cars, seaplanes, motorcycles, cable cars, trains and several different types of boats.  Bette Davis has blond hair and I haven’t seen her in other films with light hair?  3 ½* (I liked this movie)

68 min, Crime directed by William Dieterie with Bette Davis, Donald Woods, Margaret Lindsay, Lyle Talbot, Hugh Herbert, Arthur Byron, Robert Barrat, Henry O-Neill, Irving Pichel, Douglass Dumbrille, Alan Hale.

Note:  Imdb 7.1 out of 10, 27% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Amazon 4.4* out of 5* with 9 reviews, TCM Leonard Maltin 2.5* out of 4*.
Special Note:  Comments about this film after release , "the fastest film ever made and ruddy thriller."

Friday, June 9, 2017

Brief Encounter 1945


      This film is an adaptation of a one-act play titled Still Life from 1936 by Noel Coward.  In the latter months of 1938 every Thursday Laura Jesson goes by train to a nearby town for stopping in at the library, shopping and attending the cinema for a matinee.  When she’s finished, she returns to Milford by another train.  She is married with a young son and daughter.  Laura often has lunch at the tea-shop by the railway.  Laura gets piece of coal in her eye when she steps out to watch the train.  A doctor quickly comes to her aid and she’s very grateful.  Even though Dr. Alec Harvey is also married, they agree to meet again on the next Thursday.  It happens quickly and takes them both by surprise when they fall in love. 
      This film is very good and you feel the dilemma of Laura and Alec.  Laura would never want to hurt her husband or children.  Alec’s life is based on healing and not causing pain.  They find themselves in an impossible situation but love is a powerful force.  4* (I really liked this movie)

86 min, Drama directed by David Lean with Celia Johnson, Trevor Howard, Stanley Holloway, Joyce Carey, Cyril Raymond, Everley Gregg, Majorie Mars, Margaret Barton.

Note:  Imdb 8.1 out of 10, 89% critic 91% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Amazon 4.6* out of 5* with 230 reviews, TCM Leonard Maltin 4* out of 4*.
Special Note:  Filmed in Cumbria, Buckinghamshire, Lancashire and London, England, UK.  A lot of scenes were shot at Carnforth Railway Station in Lancashire.  At that time, it was a junction on the London, Midland and Scottish Railway.  Local destinations included Leeds, Bradford, Morecambe and Lancaster.  Production began in early 1945 before WWII ended.  Carnforth Station still has many of the period features and it has become a place of pilgrimage for film fans.  Some scenes were done at Denham Studios.  Voted one of the 10 greatest films ever made in two separate critics’ polls of 1952.  Celia Johnson was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress.  David Lean was nominated for Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay along with writers Anthony Havelock-Allan and Ronald Neame.  There is remake from 1974 starring Richard Burton, Sophia Loren and Jack Hedley.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Castles in the Sky 2014


     The setting of this film is mid-1930 with changes beginning in Germany that will start WWII.  Robert Watson Watt is the pioneer of modern radar.  He has assembled a handpicked team of meteorologists and they are struggling to turn the idea of radar into a reality.  There are technical problems and their budget is too small.  They learn there is a spy among their group that is reporting their every success and failure.  The first working radar system is completed in 1940.  Along with code-breaking and spying, this was a big boost in the fight against Germany.
     Many historians believe that radar was the deciding factor in the Battle of Britain.  Radar made the invisible visible.  Working on this project was very top secret and the British did not want a leak of their efforts to get back to Germany.  Surprisingly, the original ideas were developed in Germany but not pursued.  The British coast was very vulnerable to attacks by the Luftwaffe.  The British flyers were understaffed, working long hours with fewer planes and many were being shot down.  The Luftwaffe outnumbered the RAF by three to one.  A lot of personal sacrifices were made by the team of scientists to continue on and on with this development.  3 1/2* (I liked this movie)

90 min, Bio directed by Gillies MacKinnon with Eddie Izzard, Laura Fraser, Arran Tulloch, Lesley Harcourt, Alex Jennings, David Hayman, Julian Rhind-Tutt, Karl Davies, Stephen Chance, Carl Heap Celyn Jones, Iain McKee.

Note:  Imdb 6.9 out of 10, 67% critic 55% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, The Telegraph 2 ½* out of 5*, Amazon 4.1* out of 5* with 94 reviews.
Special Note:  Filmed in Hedderwick, Dunbar, East Lothian, Scotland, UK.  There is mistake with the wiring colors.  In the scene of the first machine, the colors of the main cables are brown and blue.  At this time the colors should have been red for live and black for neutral.  A comment by Winston Churchill is used as the title of this film.  Churchill was initially skeptical about this project and he described it as castles in the sky.  He interviewed Watson-Watt and the radar system was explained as castles along the coast.  Churchill instructed Watson-Watt to build his castles in the sky.  There is a pre-WWII scene with a white van that is a Bedford KZ Spurling Ambulance but they were not manufactured until 1952.  The aircraft in the initial test is a de Havilland Rapide and it should be a Handley Page Heyford.  The film team had no choice, not a single Heyford survives.  There is another film with the title Castle in the Sky that is an animated film by Studio Ghibli.