Thursday, March 30, 2017

Good Fences 2003


     This film is based on a novel by Erika Ellis published in 1998.  Tom Spader is an attorney during the 1970’s and he has worked hard in his profession.  He wins a high-profile case and he moves his wife Mable, his son Tommy-Two and his daughter Stormy to a much larger house.  They live in a very good neighborhood in Greenwich, Connecticut.  Mable begins entertaining the neighboring women to get to know them.  Tom and Mable are invited to a lot of parties because of his profession.  Tommy-Two and Stormy are doing well in school.  Tom thinks Ruth Crisp should not have moved onto their street after she wins big money in a lottery.  When she intends to buy another house on the street and keep her current house, Tom becomes slightly unhinged.
     This movie has a different focus, the Spader family is not like their neighbors but they do fit in until Ruth Crisp moves into her home.  Mable doesn’t have much to do at home since she has a housekeeper.  She begins taking pills that make the day go faster.  When Tom asks her to talk to Ruth about buying the second house, Mable cannot face this task.  3 ½* (I liked this movie)

119 min, TV movie, Drama directed by Ernest R. Dickerson with Danny Glover, Whoopi Goldberg, Zachary Simmons Glover, Mo’Nique, Ryan Michelle Bathe, Ashley Archer, Marie V. Cruz, Vincent McCurdy-Clark.

Note:  Imdb 5.6 out of 10, 54% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Amazon 4.2* out of 5* with 34 reviews.
Special Note:  This movie was filmed in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.  There is a mistake in this film, Stormy is reading a magazine and the covers show Claudia Schiffer.  She was featured from 1988 on and the scene with the family watching the TV Series Roots would have been 1977.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

The 100 Year Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeard 2013


     This film is based on a best-selling novel by Jonas Jonasson.  Allan Karlsson is 100 years old and living in a nursing home.  The staff is preparing for 100-year birthday but when they go into his room he’s gone.  He’s on the first floor and he just steps out the window.  He went to the bus station and got a ticket for as far has his limited funds would let him go.  Another man came into the station and asked Allan to look after his suitcase.  Allan decides he will take the suitcase on the bus with him.  There isn’t much in the town of his destination but he meets Julius Jonasson and their adventures begin.  The man from the bus station comes to retrieve his suitcase from Allan and Julius.  He’s not very nice about it and Julius puts him in the freezer.  He turns on the freeze and he forgets about it.  Later they don’t have to worry about the man anymore because he’s frozen.  They take him with them and begin their traveling adventures.
     I didn’t know this film would be so funny!!  Allan and Julius meet up with a lot of people and they add an elephant to their group.  More rough people show up to get the suitcase.  The police have been called by the retirement home and they are looking for Allan.  A lot of Allan’s previous life is shown in flashbacks plus Allan and Julius find out there is money in the suitcase.  That explains the interest in getting it returned.  4* (I really liked this movie)
104 min, Adventure directed by Felix Herngren with Robert Gustafsson, Iwar Wiklander, David Wiberg, Jens Hulten, David Shackleton, Ralph Carlsson, Georg Nikoloff, Alan Ford Simon Sappenen, Sven Lonn.
Note:  Imdb 7.1 out of 10, 68% critic 69% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 2 ½*, Amazon 4.3* out of 5* with 4162 reviews.
Special Note:  Filmed in Hungary, Croatia, Sweden and Bali, Indonesia.  Actor Robert Gustafsson is not 100 years old, he was 48 at the time of the movie release and he’s a popular comedian in Sweden.  Robert wore a lot of prosthetic pieces were used to age him and sometimes the application process started at 2AM.  This is the highest grossing Swedish movie!!

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Dogs on the Inside 2014


     This movie was filmed inside a Massachusetts prison.  Prison inmates train the dogs and get them ready for adoption by families.  This program has a huge benefit for the men and also for the dogs.  The dogs have had a tough life before they come to live in the prison and the inmates have had tough lives too.  The men can see they are making a difference and they receive updates after the dogs leave.  The dogs are usually afraid because everything is new and they have traveled from a southern state to the prison.  They need new skills and they need someone to love them.  The prisoners receive unconditional love back from the dogs. 
     The stories of the dogs and the prisoners are very good.  The men don’t reveal why they are in prison but the background stories of the dogs are shown.  The only negative comment I have is that the film is somewhat repetitive with same scenes and information.  3 ½* (I liked this movie)

67 min, Doc directed by Brean Cunningham, Douglas Seirup with Candido Santiago.

Note:  Imdb 7.8 out of 10, 87% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Amazon 4.6* out of 5* with 45 reviews.
Special Note:  A two-man team did most of the work to film this movie.  There is a website where you can learn more about Sadie and Candido at www.dogsontheinside.com 

Monday, March 27, 2017

Navy Blue and Gold 1937


     John (Truck) Cross has been working as an enlisted soldier and he receives a letter that he has been accepted into the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis, Maryland.  He meets up with Roger (Rog) Ash and Richard (Dickie) Gates Junior on their first day.  They decide to be roommates and they really get along.  The three men love the Navy and they love football.  They make it through their Plebe year and they find their sophomore year is just as difficult.  Truck has a secret about his father, Ash isn’t sure he should be in the Navy and Dickie is glad to have made it this far to get away from his mother.
     It’s amazing how different the football uniforms and helmets are in this time period!!  Nothing at all was known about concussions and other injuries.  There is hazing and Dickie is suckered into a mistake that really rattles him.  It’s also interesting to see the differences between 1937 and 2017!!  3 ½* (I liked this movie)
   
94 min, Drama directed by Sam Wood with Robert Young, James Stewart, Florence Rice, Billie Burke, Lionel Barrymore, Tom Brown, Samuel S. Hinds, Paul Kelly, Barnett Parker, Frank Albertson, Minor Watson.

Note:  Imdb 5.8 out of 10, 67% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Amazon 4.4* out of 5* with 38 reviews.
Special Note:  Filmed in Los Angeles and Culver City, California; Annapolis, Maryland.  Gil Kuhn the captain of the 1936 U.S.C. football team was the technical expert for the gridiron sequences.  Billie Burke as Dickie’s mother was Glenda the Good Witch in The Wizard of Oz.  She was also Mrs. Topper.  This film made $884,000 in the US and Canada and $284,000 in other countries, the profit was $297,000. 

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Southside with You 2016


     This film tells the story of the first date between Barack Obama and Michelle Robinson Obama.  It was in the summer of 1989 in the afternoon.  Michelle’s parents teased her when she was preparing for her ‘non-date!’  She was determined not to make a big deal of this event but Barack was expecting to sway her over to his side.  Barack gives a rough speech to community activists welcoming him back home.  They go to an art gallery with Ernie Barnes paintings.  
      We already know how this film turns out before the start. They are two ordinary people doing ordinary things but later they become larger-than-life public figures.  This film shows Chicago and it’s people, the beginnings of a romance and also comedy.  Michelle has concerns about dating a co-worker since she is his superior.  Office romances can be complicated and can also end very badly. This film needs more of a spark to remain interesting!!  3* (This movie is OK)

84 min, Bio directed by Richard Tanne with Tika Sumpter, Parker Sawyers, Vanessa Bell Calloway, Phillip Edward Van Lear, Taylar Fondren, Deanna Reed-Foster, Jerod Haynes, Barielle Lott-Rogers, Preston Tate Jr.

Note:  Imdb 6.5 out of 10, 91% critic 74% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 4*, Amazon 3.9* out of 5* with 248 reviews.
Special Note:  Filmed in Chicago and Waukegan, Illinois.  The director Richard Tanne said the main events of this film actually occurred on the first date except the community meeting.  This happened later.  John Legend wrote the song Start for this film after seeing an early cut.  Barack is shown smoking cigarettes but Michelle encouraged him to quit smoking before his campaign for the Democratic nomination.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Never Forever 2007


     Sophie is married to Andrew Lee, he is a successful businessman and they live in New York.  His family is very devout Korean Catholic, they regularly attend Church services and meet together to pray.  Andrew's father has recently passed away and the couple has been struggling to have a child.  Andrew feels extreme depression because medically he is the cause of their problem.  He tries to commit suicide but he recovers at least physically.  Sophie decides to take matters into her own hands.  She goes to the fertility clinic but they will not let her use a donor without permission from Andrew.  She meets a Korean man who has come to donate and she decides to contact him with an attractive financial arrangement. 
     This is the second time I've seen this film.  It is complicated and you wonder where this is going to go.  Will Andrew find out about Sophie's plans?  Will Jihah agree to help her?  How will this affect her marriage and her relationship with her husband if he does find out?  If Andrew does find out about her plan, what how will he react?  A lot of questions!!  I really like the clothing worn my Sophie and her manner of approaching and solving her problem.  3 1/2* (I liked this movie)

104 min, Drama directed by Gina Kim with Vera Farmiga, David Lee McInnis, Joseph Y. Kim, Shirley Roeca, Steve Greenstean, Marceline Hugot, Colleen Quinlan, Trisha LaFache, Jun-woo Ha, Kari Swenson Riely, Jackson Pace, Alex Manette. 

Note:  Imdb 6.5 out of 10, 80% critic 71% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Amazon 3.7* out of 5* with 272 reviews. 
Special Note:  Filmed in New York City and Queens, New York.  Jun-woo Ha has won many awards and he has been acting since 2002.  Vera Farmiga originally planned to become an ophthalmologist but she started acting in 1996.  She has also won many awards.  There was a gap of three years before this film was released on DVD in France?

Friday, March 24, 2017

Infiltrator 2016


     This film is based on the true story of an undercover operation by Robert Mazur.  He became a member of an organization responsible for laundering money from Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar.  In previous drug investigations, federal agents went after the drugs.  Mazur decided to tackle this assignment differently, he went after the money and that brought him to the drugs.  Agents had not been able to figure out how vast quantities of money could be successfully laundered?
     I could not get interested in this movie?  A lot of times movies with John Leguizamo turn out not to be a good movie?  I’m not sure if the movie itself is bad or he makes it bad?  It’s also possible expect or I just can’t get beyond the movie being bad if he is a character?  This film should have had a lot on tension and with the constant possibility of Mazur being discovered?  I didn’t find this to be true?  Cranston may have accepted this role because it is the opposite of Breaking Bad?  Or, maybe he had payments to make?  2* (I didn’t like this movie)

127 min, Bio directed by Brad Furman with Bryan Cranston, John Leguizamo, Diane Kruger, Daniel Mays, Benjamin Bratt, Yul Vazquez, Joe Gilgun.

Note:  Imdb 7.1 out of 10, 69% critic 72% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 2 ½*, Amazon 4.1* out of 5* with 4080 reviews.
Special Note:  Filmed in Tampa Bay and Palm Harbor Florida; San Diego, California; London, Buckinghamshire, White Chapel, Middlesex, England, UK.  Evelyn Mazur is Robert’s wife and she said the most challenging aspect of his alternate identity was that he had a fiancĂ© and they were planning a wedding.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Lila & Eve 2015


     Lila lives in Atlanta and she just lost her oldest son Stephon to a drive-by shooting.  He was in the wrong place at the wrong time.  Lila starts going to a mother’s support group and she meets Eve.  They form a bond to support each other since Eve has lost a daughter.  They decide they are not going to sit back and see the police do nothing about this drive-by crime.  Lila’s younger son brings home a gun and Lila gets together with Eve to find out who killed Stephon.  When the drug dealers draw their guns, Eve shoots them.  They take their cell phones so they can look up the names of their contacts.  A police detective starts to get suspicious when this incidence happens more than once.  Eve becomes even bolder but Lila starts to rethink their actions.
     This is a Lifetime movie so I needed to take that into consideration in my review.  I was not expecting rocket science and I did not get that.  It is nice to see some justice handed out when normally it would be business as usual with nothing changing.  There is a slight twist near the ending.  3 ½* (I liked this movie)

94 min, Drama directed by Charles Stone III with Jennifer Lopez, Viola Davis, Aml Ameen, Andre Royo, Shea Whigham, Chris Chalk, Will Brittain, Michole Briana White, Julius Tenon, Yolonda Ross, Rey Hernandez.

Note:  Imdb 5.8 out of 10, 33% critic 41% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 1*, Amazon 4.4* out of 5* with 299 reviews.
Special Note:  Filmed in Atlanta, Georgia.  Davis and Lopez also acted together in the 1998 Out of Sight.  Charlize Theron was originally cast as Eve but she was committed to the film Dark Places released in 2015.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Meant to Be 2012


     Nathan Burr is 20 years old and he’s currently having a tough time.  He was laid off from his job and his girlfriend didn’t see that they had a future together.  He decides to fly to the city where he was born.  He was raised in foster homes and he doesn’t have a birth certificate.  He’s hoping to track down his mother and get his birth information.  He visits the City Clerk to see about getting the birth certificate and the woman tells him it will take a little while but she thinks she can gather the information.  He checks into a nearby inexpensive hotel and he meet Mave.  She is the maid at the hotel and she always comes in his room to wake him up when he wants to sleep.  He also meets Shelly and she doesn’t know anything about her mother either.  She volunteers to go to the library with Nathan and see what kind of information they can gather about themselves.
     There is a twist in this film that I didn’t see coming but then I realized I was just missing it from the beginning.  Mave has a very positive attitude and she tries to pass that on to Nathan to keep him motivated to continue his search.  3 ½* (I liked this movie)

90 min, Drama directed by Bradley Dorsey with Erika Eleniak, Bradley, Dorsey, Erin Sossamon, Kristen Renton, Della Reese, Dean Cain, Michael Gross, Colleen Foy.

Note:  Imdb 6.1 out of 10, 57% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Amazon 4.3* out of 5* with 113 reviews.
Special Note:  Filmed in Los Angeles, California.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Touched with Fire 2015


     Carla and Marco have bipolar disorder.  Carla goes to the hospital where she had treatment to request her medical records.  The doctor on duty talks with her about her condition and her past medical treatment.  She recommends that Carla check herself into the hospital to get back on track with taking her medication.  She meets Marco and they start not sleeping and staying up at night to be with each other.  The doctor recommends that Carla and Marco be released to their parents for care at home.  They will both fall into deep depression after the manic episodes they have had with each other.  The hospital cannot afford to keep them during this time of depression as the result of being so manic.
     The doctor thinks and it is a reality that Carla and Marco are not good for each other.  They do get back together later after they recover from their depressions.  Their parents are trying hard to care for them and help them but it’s very difficult.  Bipolar people think they feel life and emotions more deeply when they don’t take their medication.  They think the medication is making everything without the edge.  In reality, they are doing unusual things and they are not safe or healthy in the manic condition.  3 1/2* (I liked this movie)

106 min, Drama directed by Paul Dalio with Katie Holmes, Luke Kirby, Christine Lahti, Griffin Dunne, Brucke Altman, Alex Manette, Edward Gelbinovich, Daniel Gerroll, Patrick Byas, Genevieve Adams, Erick Abbate.

Note:  Imdb 6.1 out of 10, 70% critic 91% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 2 ½*, Amazon 3.8* out of 5* with 87 reviews.
Special Note:  Filmed in New York City, New York and Utah.  This film is based on the real life of director Paul Dalio.  At the end of the film, there is a list of famous and talented people with bipolar disorder.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Harry 2013


     This series is set in different neighborhoods of Auckland, New Zealand.  Detective Harry Anglesea is struggling to raise his thirteen-year-old daughter after the death of his wife.  His job is working the Major Crimes Unit in Manukau.  This area has a lot of drugs and violence.  A gang with three men has committed several armed robberies with one resulting in the death of a bank teller.  Harry and his family are originally from Samoa and there are a lot of people in this area from this island. 
     There is a lot of violence in this film, especially involving the drug dealers and it's based on true events. There is one story covered in each episode and some of the violence stays with you in your mind after viewing.  In some ways, this is like the Prime Suspect TV Series with Helen Mirren.  3* (This series is OK)

60 min, 6 episodes, TV Series, Crime with Oscar Kightley, Sam Neill, Hunter Kamuhemu, Erroll Shand, Stephen Lovatt, Theresa Healey, Ana Tuigamala, Fraser Brown, Michael Koloi, Matthias Luafutu, Jarod Rawiri.

Note:  Imdb 7.1 out of 10, Amazon 3.8* out of 5* with 1 reviews.
Special Note:  Filmed in Auckland, New Zealand.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Indignation 2016


     The setting of this film is 1951 during the draft for the Korean War.  Marcus Messner receives a scholarship to be the first member of his family to attend college.  This will keep him from being called up for the war too.  He is the son of a butcher in Newark, NJ.  He leaves for Ohio to attend a small conservative college.  Since Marcus is Jewish, he is invited join the Jewish Fraternity.  He decides he wants to focus fully on his education and he doesn’t have time for outside interests.  He meets Olivia Hutton while studying at the library and he asks her out on a date.  Olivia’s father is a doctor and she has had a troubled childhood.
     Marcus is called in to see Dean Caldwell and the conversation does not go well.  The Dean wants to know if Marcus always solves his problems by running away?  The Dean can’t understand why Marcus doesn’t believe religion belongs in academic life.  There is a lot of underlying emotion in this film but I wasn’t drawn enough to the characters.  I understand them and I do feel sympathy for them.  The plot seems to operate too much in the mental and ambiguous gray area.  3* (This movie is OK)

110 min, Drama directed by James Schamus with Logan Lerman, Sarah Gadon, Tijuana Ricks, Sue Dahlman, Jason Jiang, Avy Eschenasy, Richard Topol, Danny Burstein, Walter Bernstein, Joanne Baron, Sarah Gadon.

Note:  Imdb 6.9 out of 10, 82% critic 77% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 4*, Amazon 3.4* out of 5* with 75 reviews.
Special Note:  Filmed at The College of New Rochelle, New, Rochelle, New York and 9-17 Clintonville St, Whitestone, New York.  The name of the college is a tribute to a collection of short stories titled Winesburg, Ohio by Sherwood Anderson.  Written, produced and directed as a first effort by James Schamus.  It seems to me that the more cerebral a film, the higher the rating on Roger Ebert?

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Life: Season Two 2009


     LAPD detective Charlie Crews is still working with his partner Dani Reese but there is a period where she is on another assignment.  She is working with the FBI since she’d like to be promoted to lieutenant.  Charlie works on some cases with Robert Stark and then a new partner, Jane Seever.  Formerly, Jane was an attorney and she can speed read through documents.  There are some new wrinkles in his quest for the person who set him up to go to prison.
     I liked this series, both Season 1 and Season 2.  Each episode is different with interesting events, cases and characters.  There is always something going on with each case that I didn’t catch that leads to the solution.  I didn’t want the episodes to end but continue on.  3 ½* (I liked this series)

45 min each episode, Crime, created by Rand Ravich with Damian Lewis, Sarah Shahi, Adam Arkin, Brent Sexton, Donal Logue, William Atherton, Jessy Schram, Shashawnee Hall, Helen McCrory, Christina Hendricks.

Note:  Imdb 8.3 out of 10, Amazon 4.7* out of 5* with 1660 reviews.
Episode titles in this Season are Find Your Happy Place, Everything… All the Time, The Business of Miracles, Not for Nothing, Crushed, Did You Fell That?, Jackpot, Badge Bunny, Evil… and His Brother Ziggy, Canyon Flowers, Trapdoor, Re-Entry, Mirror Ball, I Heart Mom, Hit Me Baby, Shelf Life, 3 Women, 5 Quarts, Initiative 38, One.
Special Note:  Filmed at Universal Studios, Universal City, California.  Damian Lewis is married to Helen McCrory and they have two children.  Sarah Shahi was pregnant during filming of this season.  That explains why she went to the FBI and she is usually sitting down in the scenes.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Speak 2004


     This film is based on a young adult novel by Laurie Halse Anderson.  Fifteen year-old Melinda Sordino is a freshman for the new school year.  She has a secret that she’s not able to tell anyone.  All her friends and classmates are shunning and bullying her because she called the police during a summer party.  They refer to her as the “squealer.”  They can’t understand why she called the police and she left because she was unable to talk to the officers.  She’s suffering from depression, she has no friends and she doesn’t talk to her parents.  Her only adult connection is with her art teacher Mr. Freeman.  She finds a secret room in the hallway of the school where she does her drawings and hides out.  Her parents become worried when her report card comes and her grades have slipped. 
     Kristen Steward does a good job of conveying her emotions without saying words. Very slowly Melinda starts to heal and her lab partner plus Mr. Freeman begin to pull her out of her depression.  Speaking may be the only way she can be free to be herself again?  3 ½* (I liked this movie)

89 min, Drama directed by Jessica Sharzer with Kristen Stewart, Elizabeth Perkins, Dick Hagerman, Allison Siko, Remy Brommer, Robert John Burke, Grace Ameter, Ryanna Rolley, Leslie Lyles, Hallee Hirsh, Michael Angarano.

Note:  Imdb 7.4 out of 10, 77% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Amazon 4.5* out of 5* with 208 reviews.
Special Note:  Filmed in Columbus, Ohio.  Director Jessica Scharzer is shown in an early scene spooning out mashed potatoes in the cafeteria on the first day of school.  Kristen Steward also starred in the Twilight Series first released in 2008.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Star Trek Beyond 2016


     The USS Enterprise has halfway competed their five-year mission.  They stop off at Starbase Yorktown and this is a remote outpost on the fringes of Federation space.  An unstoppable wave of unknown aliens destroys the Enterprise.  The crew is now stranded on an unknown planet.  The only known fact about this planet is that there is a well-earned hatred of the Federation.  Their only hope is a female alien warrior who can possibly help the crews reunite and leave the planet.  They also need to stop a possible galactic war.
     The plot of this film is very thin!!  It relies too much on CGI and the many battles one after the other.  The dialog is corny too!!  I did like the makeup, costume and character of the warrior woman Jaylah.  Supposedly, Jennifer Lawrence inspired this character and Algerian dancer and actor Sofia Boutella has this role.  3* (This movie is OK)

122 min, Action directed by Justin Lin with Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Karl Urban, Zoe Saldana, Simon Pegg, John Cho, Anton Yelchin, Idris Elba.

Note:  Imdb 7.1 out of 10, 84% critic 81% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 2 ½*, Amazon 4.5* out of 5* with 2894 reviews.
Special Note:  Filmed in Dubai, United Arab Emirates; Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada; Seoul, South Korea and Hollywood, Los Angeles California.  Star Trek and Stars Wars both released films in 2016.  This is the second time this has happened and the other time was 2002.  Yorktown was the original name of the starship in the early scripts for the 1966 Star Trek series.  Unfortunately, Anton Yelchin passed away due to an accident before the film’s release.  This film had a budget of $185 million and it grossed $343.5 million.  To break even, earnings needed to be $340-350 million worldwide.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

A Man Called Ove 2015


     This film is based on a best selling novel by Frederick Backman.  Ove is a 59-year-old Swedish man living in a condominium community.  He was formerly the president of the condominium association but he was removed from this position.  Despite his removal, very morning he makes his rounds around the property.  He doesn’t tolerate cars driving in through the gate and by the living areas.  He also oversees storage units, checking that they are locked and that things are put away properly.  Parvaneh is from Persia and she moves with her family into the house across from Ove.  Her husband accidentally backs into Ove’s mailbox but an unexpected friendship develops. 
     I had planned to read the book first but the DVD became available to me first.  Now I don’t have to read the book?  There are many funny scenes and a lot of dry humor due to Ove’s grumpiness and pushiness!!  I was surprised at the friendship developed between Ove and Parvaneh and her family.  I didn’t think anyone was going to like Ove?  I was also surprised he was able to hold back his temper and an inclination to physical violence against a man who wants to remove his friend Rune from his home.  3 ½* (I liked this movie)

116 min, Comedy directed by Hannes Holm with Rolf Lassgard, Bahar Pars, Filip Berg, Ida Engvoll, Tobias Almborg, Klas Wiljergard, Chatarina Larsson. Borje Lundberg, Stefan Godicke, Johan Widerberg.

Note:  Imdb 7.7 out of 10, 90% critic 88% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 3 ½*, Amazon 3.9* out of 5* with 741 reviews.  (The book on Amazon has 4.6* out of 5* with 10,896 reviews)
Special Note:  Filmed in Trollhattan, Vastr Gotalands Ian, Sweden; Valldemosa and Sa Calobra, Mallorca, Balearic Islands, Spain.  Submitted by Sweden for the Best Foreign Language Film for the 2017 Academy Awards.  The cat in this film is a ragdoll and two cats were used, Magic and Orlando and they were born in Poland.  Rolf Lassgard was 59 years old at filming, the same age as Ove.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

The Free State of Jones 2016


     The setting of this film is during the Civil War and it’s based on a book titled The Free State of Jones: Mississippi’s Longest Civil War by Victoria Bynum.  Newt Knight is serving as a battlefield medic in the Confederate Army 1862 at the Battle of Corinth.  A teenage relative is killed and Newt leaves the battlefield to take him home to his family.  He decides he’s not going back and he will be a deserter.  He gets help to go to a hiding place in the swamps.  There are other deserters and runaway slaves hiding.  Newt learns that Confederate troops are taking crops and livestock from families left behind for taxes.  After the Siege of Vicksburg, many Confederates abandoned the war and revolted against the Confederacy.  They captured a piece of southeast Mississippi.

139 min, Action directed by Gary Ross with Matthew McConaughey, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Mahershala Ali, Keri Russell, Christopher Berry, Sean Bridgers, Jacob Lofland, Thomas Francis Murphy, Bill Tangradi.

Note:  Imdb 6.9 out of 10, 47% critic 65% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 2 ½*, Amazon 4.4* out of 5* with 1417 reviews.
Special Note:  This film is fictional but based on history.  Filmed in Jones County, Mississippi; St. Bernard Parish, New Orleans, Buckner Mansion, Bush, St Bernard, Edgard, Paradis, Clinton, Greensburg, Braithwaite and Washington, Louisiana.  A document was discovered in the National Archives in 2016 that is a request by Newton Knight’s company to join the Union Army in 1864.  More than 7,000 people submitted head shots and resumes to be considered for a job as an extra on this film. 

Monday, March 13, 2017

Evita 1996


     This film is an adaptation of a hit Broadway musical showing the story of Eva Duarte de Peron.  She was the wife of President Juan Peron of Argentina.  She became the most famous Argentine woman in history despite being born into poverty.  She had a huge political influence and she did constant works of charity.  She was scorned and feared by the military and the upper classes.  She had adoration and love from the workers and common people.  She was the most hated and the most loved woman in Argentina.
     I didn't know this was a musical but I thought it was very good.  After viewing, I wanted to know more about the government and EvaThe government of Juan Peron was a fascist dictatorship.  Argentina and a lot of the other South American countries gave safe haven to the Nazi men who escaped there instead of facing punishment for their crimes after WWII.  Eva was considered illegitimate and she made "corrections" to her birth certificate.  In was common in this time period for wealthy men to have more than one family.  She also had a change made in the government to state that children born out of wedlock and to a different family were not considered illegitimate.
   
135 min, Bio directed by Alan Parker with Madonna, Jonathan Pryce, Antonio Banderas, Jonathan Pryce, Jimmy Nail, Victoria Sus, Julian Littman, Olga Merediz, Laura Pallas, Julia Worsley, Maria Lujan Hildago, Servando Villamil, Andrea Corr.

Note:  Imdb 6.3 out of 10, 62% critic 68% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 3 ½*, Amazon  4.4* out of 5* with 671 reviews.
Special Note:  Filmed in Budapest, Hungary; Argentina, Spain, England, UK.  Prior to filming, Jennifer Lopez, Mariah Carey, Gloria Estefan Zsa Zsa Gabor, Barbra Streisand, Patti LuPone, Derin Altay, Karla DeVito, Bette Midler, Michelle Pfeiffer and Sarah Brightman were in consideration for the role of Eva Peron.  The vocals for the scene where Peron tells Eva that she is dying had to be recorded live on the set.  Madonna and Jonathan Pryce kept breaking down in tears and couldn’t keep in sync with the prerecorded tracks.  Madonna changed costumes 85 times.  She wore 39 hats, 45 pair of shoes and 56 pairs of earrings.  She was an entry in Guinness World Record for 1996.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Captain Fantastic 2016


     Ben and Leslie Cash have six children and all the children have unusual names, Bodevan, Kielyr, Vespyr, Rellian, Zaja, Nai.  They live in a cabin in the mountains of Washington State.  The children are non-registered home schooled and their parents have passed down their ideals of socialism and survivalism.  They encourage extensive reading and individual thinking.  They also shun commercialism and corporate America.  Leslie is not with the family right now because is in a hospital for treatment of bipolar disorder.  This large family has a bus named Steve for traveling. 
     The scenery in this film is very beautiful.  Overall, the children are all well behaved and respectful.  They are all advanced in their education but they are at a disadvantage among their peers because of their isolation.  They are further set apart since all their names are not in common usage but have been made up by their parents.  Originally, this project started as an exaggeration of different choices in raising children in today’s society.  Along the way, the focus changed to how much should people let society influence their lives?  One element not discussed is how can freethinking children question everything except the person doing the teaching?  3 ½* (I liked this movie)

118 min, Comedy directed by Matt Ross with Viggo Mortensen George MacKay, Samantha Isler, Annalise Basso, Nicholas Hamilton, Shree Crooks, Charlie Shotwell, 
Trin Miller, Kathryn Hahn, Steve Zahn, Elijah Stevenson.

Note:  Imdb 7.9 out of 10, 83% critic 85% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 1 ½*, Amazon 4.2* out of 5* with 1269 reviews.
Special Note:  Filmed in Deception Pass State Park, Lake Stevens, Snohomish, Sultan, Gold Bar, Kirkland, Whatcom County, Othello, Index, Washington; Portland, Oregon; Las Cruces, Mesilla, Albuquerque, New Mexico.  The young actors started calling Viggo Mortensen “Summer Dad.”  Mortensen was nominated for Best Actor for the Academy Awards.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Reversal of Fortune 1990


     This film is based on a book by Alan J. Dershowitz and is based on a true story. Claus von Bulow has two convictions for the attempted murder of Sunny von Bulow.  He is believed to be guilty by his own lawyers.  His wife is extremely wealthy and she is now in a coma.  Alan Dershowitz is a law professor and he is hired to by Claus to overturn the convictions.  Alan assembles his law students and they go over every aspect of the trial plus they conduct many interviews with von Bulow.  The case presented by the prosecution is very solid but the Supreme Court of New Jersey will hear the case this time.
     I remember seeing the news reports of this case in the papers.  All sides of the case are presented clearly.  What is still not clear what really happened?  Did Sunny over indulge her own drugs and eating?  Did Claus delay in calling doctors?  Did he find her unresponsive and help her further along to a coma?  It’s clear he was tired of the marriage but not willing to say goodbye to the money.  Sunny was already once divorced and she didn't want to be twice divorced.  3 ½* (I liked this movie)
111 min, Bio directed by Barbet Schroeder with Jeremy Irons, Glenn Close, Ron Silver, Anabella Sciorra, Uta Hagen, Fisher Stevens, Jack Gilpin, Christine Baranski, Stephen Mailer, Christine Dunford, Felicity Huffman.

Note:  Imdb 7.3 out of 10, 94% critic 77% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 4*, Amazon 4.3* out of 5* with 112 reviews.
Special Note:  Filmed in Montclair, New Jersey; Lyndhurst Estate, Tarrytown, New York; Newport, Rhode Island.  Jeremy Irons met Claus von Bulow in person three years after the release of this film.  Glenn Close was paid a large salary for three weeks of work.  Jeremy Irons and Ron Silver were well paid but not as much as Glenn.  The supporting players were paid scale plus 10.  Eliot Spitzer was one of the law students in real life but not in the film.  He later became governor of New York and was involved in a scandal concerning an elite escort service.  He was forced to leave office.  Sunny von Bulow lived in a coma for 28 years.  She died December 6, 2008 at the age of 76.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Les Cowboys 2015


     The year is mid-1990, the Balland family lives in a prairie town east of France.  Alain and Nicole plus their daughter Kelly and son Georges have a happy life.  They like to wear cowboy clothing and enjoy going to listen to western music at a country western fair.  When the family is ready to leave for home, they can’t find Kelly.  They start talking to her friends and learn she has a Muslim boyfriend Ahmed.  Everyone seems to think Kelly has left with Ahmed and also changed her name along with her life.  Alain and Georges begin travelling to try to find Kelly.
     Alain becomes obsessed with finding Kelly.  He becomes cross with anyone trying to discourage his search.  He’s willing to give up their savings and all of his time until he finds Kelly.  I was tempted to turn this off several times.  It’s more difficult to keep going because for most of the film you have to pay attention because of the subtitles.  As a bit of a twist, James C. Reilly has a role in later scenes.  I didn’t find the ending to be satisfying or rewarding?  It’s very matter-of-fact?  2 ½* (This movie is OK)
104 min, Drama directed by Thomas Bidegain with Francois Damiens, Finnegan Oldfield, Agathe Dronne, Ellora Torchia, Antoine Chappey, Maxim Driesen, Jean-Louis Coulloc’h, Gilles Treton, Francis Leplay.

Note:  Imdb 6.8 out of 10, 82% critic 65% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 1 ½*, Amazon 3.6* out of 5* with 9 reviews.
Special Note:  Filmed in Udaipur, Rajasthan, India and Rhone-Alpes, France.  Thomas Bidegain wrote/co-wrote A Prophet, Rust and Bone and Dheepan.