Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Beowulf 2007

    This film is based on an English epic poem.  A monstrous troll wreaks the mead hall of the Danish King Hrothgar.  A reward is offered for the killing of the troll Grendel.  Beowulf is a great and boastful warrior and he arrives with his thanes.  He sets aside his amour and awaits Grendel.  There is a fierce battle and Beowulf enters the watery lair of Grendel’s mother.  Beowulf later returns to Herot and he becomes King.  Many years pass and Beowulf is forced to face weakness and be a hero again.
     A lot of items are thrown at the audience, spears, blood, arms, legs, bodies, tables, heads and mead.  Over time, you become used to these activities!!  According to the rating, sequences of violence including disturbing images!!  Yes, many scenes of disturbing images.  You would not want to meet a lot of the characters on any dark night!! 3 1/2* (I liked this movie)

115 min, animated action directed by Robert Zemeckis with Ray Winstone, Crispin Glover, Angelina Jolie, Robin Wright, Anthony Hopkins, Sonje Fortag, Charlotte Salt, Julene Renee, Jonny Rees, Rik Young, Sebastian Roche.

Note:  Imdb 6.2 out of 10, 71% critic 50% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 3*, Amazon 4.0* out of 5* with 609 reviews, Metacritic 59  out of 100 with 35 critic 6.3 out of 10 with 140 reviews.
Special Note:  Filmed in Culver City, California.  Winstone and the other cast members spent days filming in a blue skintight suits for motion capturing.  He complained that the suit shows all the lumps and bumps at the bad places of your body!!  This story is based on the oldest known written story in a language supposedly English.  When Grendel speaks, he is using Old English and it resembles modern Swedish.  Almost 300 cameras were used in filming.  Beowulf is an adaptation of the Anglo-Saxon word for Bear.  Model Rachel Bernstein was a body double for Jolie in some of her scenes.  Release theater prints in some areas were delivered with fake titles such as Epic or Sally to prevent copies?

Monday, May 29, 2017

Violette 2013

     The setting of this film is 1942 in France during WWII and at a time when the black market was very active.  Violette Leduc met Maurice Sachs and they make their living by selling provisions they obtain outside of the law.  Violette spent three days in jail because of this work.  Maurice was the writer of Le Sabbat and he encouraged Violette to write.  He died in Germany during the war.  Because of her first novel L’Asphyxie (In the Prison of Her Skin of 1946), she met Simone de Beauvoir and she also encouraged Violette’s writing.  She wrote 11 other novels and 2 were published after her death at the age of 65 in 1972.  She had a very intense and focused relationship with Simone de Beauvoir.
     Writing for women was very restricted in France during the period of Violette's publications.  Simone encouraged her and fought for her novels to be published uncensored and despite controversy over content.  This is the second time I’ve seen this film but my first viewing was only of the first quarter of the film.  I thought it was difficult and convoluted plus paying attention to the subtitles was a lot of work.  This time I made it through the film and found it very interesting.  It does pick up in the next three quarters of the film.  Violette struggled with publishers, loneliness, unrequited love, money issues, charity, self-esteem and self-worth.  Devos and Kiberlain are excellent in their roles.  3 ½* (I liked this movie)

139 min, Bio directed by Martin Provost with Emmanuelle Devos, Sandrine Kiberlain, Olivier Gourmet, Catherine Hiegel, Jacuqes Bonnaffe, Olivier Py.

Note:  Imdb 7.1 out of 10, 84% critic 68% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Amazon 4.2* with 25 reviews, The Guardian 4* out of 5*.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

The Mechanic: Resurrection 2016

     Arthur Bishop lives a quiet life in Rio under an assumed name.  He faked his death to put the life of a master assassin behind him.  A woman courier shows up at a restaurant and directs him to take the job of taking out three men.  He turns down the job but this means he’ll have to go into hiding under another name and in another place.  He goes to Thailand to see his friend Mae and ask her who is looking for him.  He saves Gina from another beating from the guy she’s living with.  Gina has a picture of Bishop on her phone and he believes she was also sent to get him to take the job.  He learns they are blackmailing her and she will be killed if he doesn’t work for them.  They will also harm the orphan children she shelters.
    You will need to watch this film for the action and the scenery alone.  There is a very high body count and not much dialog.  Tommy Lee Jones looks ridiculous in his role.  He must have needed the money to make some payments?  3* (This movie is OK)

98 min, Action directed by Dennis Gansel with Jason Starham, Jessica Alba, Tommy Lee Jones, Michelle Yeoh, Sam Hazeldine, John Cenatiempo, Toby Eddington, Femi Elufowoju Jr., Anteo Quintavalle, Yayaying R. Phonogam.

Note:  Imdb 5.6 out of 10, 29% critic 41% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 1 1/2*, Amazon 3.9* out of 5* with 900 reviews, Metacritic 38 out of 100 critics 5.4 out of 10.
Special Note:  Filmed in Phuket, Pattaya, Chathaburi, Phang Nga Bay and Bangkok, Thailand; Cambodia; Penang, Malaysia; Sofia, Balkan Mountains, Stara Zagora Province, Varna and Central, Bulgaria, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Sydney, New South Wales, Australia; Buckinghamshire, England, UK.  Because The Mechanic of 2011 was not a huge hit, the sequel was independently financed.  Statham has always done his own stunts and he started with The Transporter of 2002.  Alba and Hazeldine had extensive physical training for their fight scenes. 

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Summer of '42

     This film is based on a true story and Herman Raucher wrote a novel after this movie was released.  Hermie Raucher, Oscy Seltzer and Benjie are the best of friends and they spend summers on Nantucket Island.  WWII is in full force but the boys and their families are not affected by this immense event.  Hermie meets Dorothy Walker on the beach.  Later, he sees her saying goodbye to her army pilot husband Pete Walker at the dock.  He runs into her downtown and helps her with her grocery bags.  She asks him to come by one morning to put some boxes in the attic.  Hermie is drawn to her even though she is older than he is.  He has deep feelings that he doesn’t understand for her.  He will be a sophomore in high school when classes start again. 
     This is a coming of age story about three boys spending summer vacation on the island.  Their concentration is focused on girls and women and the age of the boys is about 15-16.  It’s a carefree time despite America being involved in a war.  It seems far away except for a Coast Guard Station nearby.  They spend a lot of time at the beach and at the local movie theater.  They can get ice cream at the drug store. 1942 was a totally different world during this time period than life is now.  Kids played outside all day and their parents didn’t worry about them or their safety.  Still, adolescence is usually difficult for anyone going through this life stage.  3 ½* (I liked this movie)

103 min, Drama directed by Robert Mulligan with Jennifer O’Neill, Gary Grimes, Jerry Houser, Oliver Conant, Katherine Allentuck, Christopher Norris, Lou Frizzell.
Note:  Imdb 7.3 out of 10, 77% critic 72% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 2 ½*, Amazon 4.6 out of 5* with 348 reviews, TV Guide 3* out of 5*.
Special Note:  Filmed in Montecito, Mendocino, Fort Bragg, California; Toronto, Ontario, Canada.  Herman Raucher was interviewed on The Mike Douglas Show in 1961.  After the show aired, several women wrote to Herman claiming to be Dorothy.  One of the letters was really from Dorothy and she wanted to know how their relationship affected him as a teen.  She was in her 20’s at the time of filming and she is now happily married and a grandmother.  Some of the actual dialogue has been changed and the order of some events has been moved.  Originally, he wrote the screenplay as a tribute to Oscy and he was killed in the Korean War.  During the writing, he changed his focus to make the story about Dorothy.  Herman was asked to write the book to publicize the film and he wrote the novel in about 3-4 weeks.  To continue the story after the film ending, Hermie was depressed because he didn’t hear anything from Dorothy.  He had sadness in his life too.  Hermie’s sister’s finance died in 1944.  Hermie’s Father passed away when Hermie was 20.  Oscy died on Hermie’s 24th birthday.  Hermie didn’t celebrate any other birthdays after Oscy’s death.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Corvette Summer 1978

     This film is based on a novel by Wayland Drew first published in 1978.  An added subtitle was Corvette Summer: A Fiberglass Romance.  Kenneth W. Dantley Jr. is a senior in high school and he lives for automotive shop class.  The class went to a junkyard to pick out a car to restore for their project and Ken spotted a Corvette Stingray that was ready to be crushed.  He stopped the machinery and the class begins work on the car right away.  Everyone really pitches in and the car is amazing when they finish.  The teens take turns driving the car along the Burbank strip.  One of the drivers stops in to get sodas for everyone and when he comes out, the car is gone.  He had the keys in his pocket but the car was gone in a just few minutes.  The police say certain cars are at the top of the list to be stolen and Corvette is one of them.  Ken decides to go to Las Vegas after he learns the car is on display in one of the casinos.
     Ken is lucky to graduate because he devotes all his time to the Corvette.  He really has the car bug and he takes it personally when the car is stolen.  He doesn’t own a car, he has to hitch hike to Vegas and he doesn’t have money.  I was surprised to learn that this film has been mocked in Mystery Science Theatre 3000?  I have watched a lot of the Mystery films.  Sometimes the jokes from the mad scientist and his two robot friends sitting in the theater seats at the bottom of the screen make the movie bearable!!  Two Corvettes were used for this film and both were 1973 models.  There was a main car and a backup model. Dick Korkes of Korky’s Kustom Studios built both cars for MGM.  The main car was used for publicity and both cars were later sold to private parties.  The main car was sold to an Australian collector and modified to look different from the film.  The backup car remained in the US and was owned for a while by Mike Yager of Mid America Motorworks in Effingham, Illinois.  It was on display at the Motorworks and taken to car shows.  It was sold to a collector in late 2009.  3 ½* (I liked this movie)

105 min, Adventure directed by Matthew Robbins with Mark Hamill, Annie Potts, Eugene Roche, William Bryant, Richard McKenzie, Kim Milford, Philip Bruns, Danny Bonaduce, Albert Insinnia, Jane A. Johnston.

Note:  Imdb 5.5 out of 10, 57% critic 42% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Amazon 4.6* out of 5* with 212 reviews, TV Guide 3* out of 5*.
Special Note:  Filmed in the Auto Shop, Burbank High School, La Crescenta, Los Angeles, Glendale, Norwalk, California; Las Vegas, Nevada.  The original mold for the car is part of the collection of America’s National Corvette Museum and displayed at the Corvette Americana Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York.  The museum screens this movie regularly.  Mark Hamill was badly injured and had a broken nose in a car accident in Malibu, California just prior to production of this film.  He still has the scars and they are visible in both Star Wars films.  Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back of 1980 and Episode VI –Return of the Jedi of 1983.  Annie Potts was also in a car accident at this time and she has pins in her legs.  This car was converted to right hand drive so Ken could hang out of the curbside window to look at girls, plus it made the car more unique.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

I'll Cry Tomorrow 1955

     This film is based on a true story.  Katie Roth has a beautiful young daughter and she wants Lillian to get into show business.  They go to auditions but Lillian doesn’t seem to be getting noticed.  She does get a big break and she becomes a star on Broadway and in Hollywood.  Lillian meets David Tredman and they want to get married.  Katie is against the relationship from the beginning.  She feels 'they' have worked too hard to get where they are now to give this up for Lillian to be a wife?  David dies and Lillian begins drinking to recover from her intense grief and loss.
     Lillian was never allowed to have a childhood and be able to do what other kids were doing.  She had to work because Katie’s husband and Lillian’s father left them.  They were poor and Katie needed to find a way to get out of their poverty.  Lillian was the answer.  Lillian really hits bottom with here drinking, it’s hard enough for her but the newspapers and the rumor mill follow her downward progress.  3 ½* (I liked this movie)

117 min, Bio directed by Daniel Mann with Susan Hayward, Richard Conte, Eddie Albert, Jo Van Fleet, Don Taylor, Ray Danton, Margo, Virginia Gregg, Don ‘Red’ Barry, David Kasday, Carole Ann Campbell, Peter Leeds.

Note:  Imdb 7.4 out of 10, 71% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Amazon 4.6* out of 5* with 94 reviews, TCM Leonard Maltin 3.5* out of 4*.
Special Note:  Filmed in Culver City and Los Angeles, California; New York City, New York.  Susan Hayward studied Lillian Roth’s vocal style, tone and delivery from her performance in Las Vegas.  The two women also became friends during production.  There is a mistake in this film.  Katie scolds Lillian in front of a Dad’s Root Beer sign.  This is supposed to be 1918 but Dad’s didn’t exist until 1937.  Other actresses considered for the role of Lillian Ross were June Allyson, Grace Kelly, Janet Leigh, Jane Wyman, Jean Simmons, Jane Russell and Piper Laurie.  This picture became the fourth highest moneymaker of 1956 earning nearly $8 million dollars with an estimated budget of $2,247,000.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Gilda 1946

     Johnny Farrell is a small-time crooked gambler and he’s just arrived in Argentina.  He wins some money with loaded dice and Ballin Mundson saves him from a gunman wanting to take the money back.  Ballin makes Johnny his right hand man at the casino he owns.  Ballin goes away for a while and when he comes back he’s married.  It’s a BIG surprise to Johnny that Ballin is married but the bigger surprise is that his wife is Gilda.  Johnny and Gilda were together in the States and they both hate each other.
     This movie is definitely film-noir and a thriller.  There is a lot going on at the casino in the background that isn’t spelled out until the end.  Supposedly, gambling was illegal in Argentina at this time.  Ballin manages to keep his doors open by giving to the right people.  I wasn’t sure how this film was going to end.  3 ½* (I liked this movie)

110 min, Drama directed by Charles Vidor with Rita Hayworth, Glenn Ford, George Macready, Joseph Calleia, Steven Geray, Joe Sawyer, Gerald Mohr, Mark Roberts, Ludwig Donath, Donald Douglas.

Note:  Imdb 7.8 out of 10, 97% critic 88% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Amazon 4.7* out of 5* with 238 reviews, The Guardian 4* out of 5*.
Special Note:  Filmed in Hollywood, California.  Initially this film was going to be done in Technicolor but too many of the color cameras were tied up with other projects.  Rita Hayworth wore a corset while singing “Put the Blame on Mame.”  She had just welcomed her first daughter Rebecca Wells.  Rita smacks Johnny hard on both sides of his face when she comes back to Argentina.  She broke two of Glenn Ford’s teeth but he ignored it until the take was finished.  Rita usually never sang her own songs even though she wanted to and she took voice lessons.  She always lip-synched the songs except for “Put the Blame on Mame” sung at the bar.  The character of Gilda was the inspiration for the character Jessica Rabbit.  There are resemblances to Casablanca in this film.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Marty 1955

     This is Marty’s life, he's unmarried, 34 years old, socially awkward and living at home with his overbearing Italian mother.  He works as a butcher and he never wanted this job but that’s how things worked out.  He’s the last of six children and all the others are married with families.  All the customers ask Marty why all the others in his family have gotten married and he hasn't?  Marty and his guy friend Angie talk about what they are going to do on Saturday night every Saturday night.  Marty calls up a girl that is an old friend but she turns him down for a date.  Angie and Marty decide to go to the Stardust Ballroom to see if they can dance and meet someone.  Marty meets Clara and she’s a lonely schoolteacher.  They start to have a good time and they leave the ballroom to get coffee and pie.  They agree that Marty will call Clara on Sunday afternoon after mass.  On Sunday the guys start giving Marty a hard time, his mother is giving him a hard time, what’s he going to do about Clara?
     This is a very heart warming film with real characters and real feelings.  Guys talk about women as being dogs if they are not very attractive!!  What about the men, how attractive are they?  Would a doll want to date or marry them?  I thought Marty might decide not to call Clara and that would really hurt her feelings?  I didn’t know how this was going to play out?  I thought there was the possibility that something would happen to Marty and he wouldn’t be able to call?  He could be in some kind of an accident like being hit by a car?  I was hoping he would call and the movie would not end this way!!  4* (I really liked this movie)

90 min, Drama directed by Delbert Mann with Ernest Borgnine, Betsy Blair, Esther Minciotti, Augusta Ciolli, Joe Mantell, Karen Steele, Jerry Paris.

Note:  Imdb 7.7 out of 10, 100% critic 87% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Amazon 4.6* out of 5* with 278 reviews, TCM Leonard Maltin 3.5* out of 4*.
Special Note:  Filmed in the Bronx, New York City, New York.  This is the first Best Picture Oscar winner to have been based on a TV program and the shortest of all films to win.  It was shown on The Philco-Goodyear Television Playhouse.  Ernest Borgnine also won Best Actor.  The film won the Palme d’or at the Cannes Film Festival.  The producers spent $400,000 on the award campaign and $343,000 on the filming.  Previously, Borgnine was only known for playing heavies.  Director Delbert Mann asked his friend Robert Aldrich and he suggested Borgnine for the role of Marty.  Delbert was skeptical in the beginning but he became convinced.  Screened in Moscow in 1959 and the first US feature to be seen there since WWII.  Betsy Blair played Clara and she was almost unable to take the role because of the 1950’s blacklist.  Her husband at the time was Gene Kelly and he threatened to withdraw from directing or starring in UA’s or Hecht Lancaster productions.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Easter Promises 2007

     The setting of this film is in London, England, UK.  Tatiana is a pregnant Russian teenager.  She arrives at a hospital and she is found to be bleeding.  The doctors are only able to save her baby and Tatiana dies.  Anna Khitrova is a Russian descendant midwife and she discovers a diary written in Russian by Tatiana.  She asks her uncle Stepan to translate the document.  He refuses to translate and she finds a restaurant card in the diary.  A Russian named Semyon owns the restaurant.  Anna visits Semyon and he offers to do the translation.  Anna learns that Semyon has a son that is sick and he had raped Tatiana when she was 14 years old.  She was forced to work as a prostitute in a Russian brothel owned by the Semyon family.  The safety of Anna and her family is now is jeopardy since Semyon is the very dangerous boss of the Russian mafia Vory v Zakone. 
     Viggo Mortensen as Nikolai is one scary character in this film plus is covered with prison tattoos.  He’s cold, calculating and menacing from the beginning.  He is filled with uncontrolled anger and you can feel it coming through the screen.  There are a LOT of other sketchy characters as well.  This is the underbelly of the criminal mafia world where life has no value.  Anna is naïve and she doesn’t have any idea what she is getting into when she investigates the diary.  3 1/2* (I liked this movie)

100 min, Crime directed by David Cronenberg with Naomi Watts, Viggo Mortensen, Armin Mueller-Stahl, Sinead Cusack, Vincent Cassel, Jerzy Skolimowski,

Note:  Imdb 7.7 out of 10, 89% cirtic 83% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Amazon 4.3* out of 5* with 480 reviews.
Special Note:  Filmed in Woolwich, Greenwich, Frizrovia, Clerkenwell, Hackney, West Brompton, Blackfriars, Chelsea, Bow, London, England, UK.  Viggo Mortensen drove around alone and without a translator to Moscow, St. Petersburg and the Ural Mountain region of Siberia for five days to prepare for his role.  He read books on the Russian prison culture and the importance of prison tattoos.  He perfected his Siberian accent and learned lines in Russian, Ukrainian and English.  During filming, he used worry beads made in prison from melted-down plastic cigarette lighters.  Naomi Watts found out she was pregnant at the start of filming and she was unsuccessful hiding it from costume designer Denise Cronenberg.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Snowdon 2016

     The script for this film is based on the books The Snowden Files: The Inside Story of the World’s Most Wanted Man by Luke Harding and Time of the Octopus by Anatoly Kucherena.  Snowdon began his career in Special Forces but he had weak leg bones and fractured both legs.  He moved to a job with the CIA in Virginia and his computer talents were discovered.  Snowdon starts to wonder about the ethics of spying on this country’s own citizens under the pretense of national security.  He feels burned out by his job and the extra burden of not being able to discuss anything about the work he does.
     It’s possible that if Edward Snowdon didn’t exist, director Oliver Stone could have invented him for this film?  The reason that Snowdon left his career behind is because he became so disillusioned with the depth of the deceit of this country in computer spying.  I found the story to be too long and how many scenes does there need to be of Snowden on a computer?  It is rather disconcerting that the government could be watching you through the camera on your own computer?  I wonder how many people have placed something over the lens opening after seeing this film?  Joseph Gordon-Levitt inhabits his character and he even resembles him.  I didn’t know that Snowdon had seizures from epilepsy and he was on medication for a while but found it overtaking him too much.  There is a plethora of information online with anything you ever wanted to know about Snowdon.

134 min, Bio directed by Oliver Stone with Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Shailene Woodley, Melissa Leo, Zachary Quinto, Jaymes Butler, Robert Firth, Rachel Handshaw, Christian Conteras, Parker Sawyers, Rhys Ifans, Nicholas Cage.

Note:  Imdb 7.3 out of 10, 61% critic 71% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 3*, Amazon 4.5* out of 5* with 1033 reviews, Rolling Stone 2* out of 5*.
Special Note:  Filmed in Bavaria, Germany; Moscow, Russia; Hong Kong, China; Tokyo, Japan; Oahu and Waipahu, Hawaii and Washington D.C.  The real Edward Snowden told Oliver Stone that the NSA’s command centers are on tight budgets and not as glamorous as shown in movies and on TV.  Joseph Gordon-Levitt pledged to donate his salary to facilitate the conversation between technology and democracy.  Snowdon’s parents said this portrayal of their son was the most meaningful encouragement he has ever received.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Denial 2016

     This film is based on the book History on Trial: My Day in Court with Holocaust Denier by Deborah E. Lipstadt.  Author and British historian David Irving has accused Lipstadt of libel because she declared him a Holocaust denier.  Even though he is a denier, he has sued in the English legal system.  The burden of proof is on the accused and Lipstadt’s legal team needs to walk a very fine line to prove that Irving is a denier.  Lipstadt wants to and she usually calls the shots but she can’t in this trial.  She’s out of her element in England.
     There is the idea that a lie repeated often enough and loud enough can become the truth?  Irving has written and lectured that Adolf Hitler never ordered the extermination of six million European Jews during WWII.  He states there were never gas chambers and the Holocaust did not happen.  There won’t be a jury because the legal team and Irving believe the common people could not decide on this case?  A single judge will take his time and issue a verdict.  There is a scene with Lipstadt, Barrister Richard Rampton and her team at the actual Auschwitz historical site.  The courtroom scenes are tense and moving because Lipstadt and her team are not allowed to speak.  Only David Irving, Barrister Richard Rampton and the judge can speak.  

109 min, Bio directed by Mick Jackson with Rachel Weisz, Tom Wilkinson, Timothy Spall, Andrew Scott, Jack Lowden, Caren Pistorius, Alex Jennings, Harriet Walter, Mark Gatiss, John Sessions, Nikki Amuka-Bird, Pip Carter.

Note:  Imdb 6.6 out of 10, 83% critic 71% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 2 ½*, Amazon 4.3* out of 5* with 288 reviews.
Special Note:  Filmed in Malopolskie, Poland and London, England, UK.  The dialogue used in the courtroom scenes is taken verbatim from the trial records.  The statue that Lipstadt sees on two of her jogging trips is the statue of Boadicea and Her Daughters on the Westminster Pier.  Boadicea was a famous warrior queen who led an unsuccessful uprising against the Romans.  The case was filed in 1996 but it did not go to trial until the early months of 2000.  The verdict was announced in April of 2000.  This is the first film directed by Mick Jackson in 14 years.  He last directed The First $20 Million is Always the Hardest in 2002.  He directed straight to TV movie Temple Grandin of 2010.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

The Cowboys 1972

     The setting of this film is in late 1876.  Wil and Kate Andersen are raising cattle on their ranch and they are expecting their regular cook and drivers to come to help Wil take the cattle to market.  There is a gold strike and all the men plus the cook have gone to try their hand at panning gold.  Wil really needs to sell these cattle to pay his bills for the year.  Wil doesn’t have any choice but to go to the local school and hire boys to help him with the cattle.  Since the cook didn’t show this time, there is a new man and Wil likes having the same crew every year.
     There was a lot of criticism for the last scenes in this movie.  The ending isn’t a typical John Wayne ending.  Wayne also played a father figure in the films Goodbye Mr. Chips and Sands of Iwo Jima.  He stated about this film that, “no actor in his right mind would try to match the antics of eleven kids on screen.”  He also said that it became, “the greatest experience of my life.”  The boys are trying hard to do this job like men and Wil is treating them like men.  3 ½* (I liked this movie)

134 min, Adventure directed by Mark Rydell with John Wayne, Roscoe Lee Brown, Bruce Dern, Colleen Dewhurst, Alfred Baker, Jr., Nicolas Beauvy, Steve Benedict, Robert Carradine, Norman Howell, Stephen R. Udis, Sean Kelly, A Martinez, Clay and Sam O’Brien, Mike Pyeatt, Slim Pickens.

Note:  Imdb 7.4 out of 10, 75% critic 88% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 2 ½*, Amazon 4.8* out of 5* with 765 reviews.
Special Note:  Filmed in Canon City, Durango, Castle Rock, Pagosa Springs, Colorado; Chama, Galisteo, Lamy and Santa Fe, New Mexico; Sonoita, Elgin and Hereford, Arizona; Burbank, California.  John Wayne and Roscoe Lee Browne had political and social differences of opinion but they shared a love of poetry.  The two refrained from any political discussions during filming.  Mark Rydell originally wanted George C. Scott for the role of Wil Anderson.  George C. Scott and Colleen Dewhurst were married.  Several of the boys’ parents are their real-life parents.  This is the first film for Robert Carradine.  Richard Farnsworth formerly was a stuntman and extra.  This is his first role to show his face.  There is another film with the same title released in 2015.  In 1974, Warner Bros. developed The Cowboys as a television series for ABC starring Jim David, Diana Douglas and Moses Gunn.  David Dortort produced this series and also Bonanza, The High Chaparral and The Restless Gun.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Bridget Jones's Baby 2016

     The single life and her career have been the focus for Bridget Jones.  She planned to continue on this path even though she is lonely.  She finds herself pregnant and she’s not sure if the father is previous boyfriend Mark Darcy or millionaire Jack Qwant.  She met Jack at a music festival and she hasn’t seen him since.  Mark is married but he says he is getting a divorce.
     It's been 20 years since the novel about Bridget Jones was released.  Then there were the films, Bridget Jones's Diary from 2001 and the 2004 sequel Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason.  Bridget started out at 30 something years old and now she is 43 years old.  Hugh Grant is absent from this new release and he is supposed to have died.  A not sympathetic Emma Thompson plays Jones's obstetrician.  This is the first film in six years for Renee Zellweger.  It's been speculated that she had a face-lift while she was away?  There are moments that seem impossible, some music scenes are just fillers but all in all this is a good film.  3 1/2* (I liked this movie)

118 min, Comedy directed by Sharon Maguie with Renee Zellweger, Colin Firth, Patrick Dempsey, Emma Thompson, Ed Sheeran, Gemma Jones, Jim Broadbent, Sally Phillips, Julian Rhind-Tutt, Shirley Henderson, Ben Willbond, Paul Bentall.

Note:  Imdb 6.7 out of 10, 76% critic 67% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 3*, Amazon 3.9* out of 5* with 1362 reviews.
Special Note:  Filmed in Buckinghamshire, Berkshire, and London, England, UK and County Dublin, Ireland.  This film’s opening day was the biggest ever for a comedy in the UK and Ireland.  Three different endings were filmed and none of the cast knew which was used until the opening day.  This is the first movie trilogy directed exclusively by female directors.  This is the first time Renee Zellweger didn’t gain weight for this role.  The director wanted to show that Bridget had finally reached her ideal weight but hadn’t solved her love and loneliness issues.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Stage Beauty 2004

     The setting of this film is between 1660 and 1662 but could be 1666.  In the theaters of London, women were not allowed to perform on the stage.  Men act all the theater roles for women and Ned Kynaston has been playing female roles for years.  Aspiring actress Maria is the dresser for Ned and she wants to play the role of Desdemona.  Ned has played this role for years by.  Maria borrows his costumes and plays Desdemona in a secret theater.  King Charles II decides put it into law that all female roles will be played only by women.  Maria becomes a star and Ned finds himself out of a job.  He’s very bitter but he decides to forgive Maria and it’s possible King Charles could change the rule so that women can be played by either gender?
     Even though Ned has played a woman on stage for years, he plays women like men would play women?  In the beginning, Maria doesn’t change the acting style she has copied from Ned even though she is a woman.  After she relaxes on stage, she plays the role as a woman would.  Maria has feelings for Ned and she rescues him after his downfall.  I thought the plot, the characters and the acting were good.  4* (I really liked this movie)

106 min, Drama directed by Richard Eyre with Billy Crudup, Claire Danes, Rupert Everett, Derek Hutchinson, Mark Letheren, Tom Wilkinson, Ben Chaplin, Hugh Bonneville, Jack Kempton, Alice Eve, Fenella Woolgar.

Note:  Imdb 7.2 out of 10, 64% critic 78% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 3*, Amazon 4.5* out of 5* with 189 reviews.
Special Note:  Filmed in Surrey, Hertfordshire, London, England, UK.  This film is based on the stage play Compleat Female Stage Beauty.  Ned used it as an advertising poster slogan for his female impersonations.  Kate Winslet was originally offered the role of Maria.  Crudup and Danes became a couple after filming.  Alice Eve made her debut in this film.  In the film Shakespeare in Love, Gweneth Paltrow is confident as a woman so she plays her roles in that manner from the beginning.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Inferno 2016

     This film is based on a novel by Dan Brown and he also wrote The DaVinci Code from 2003 and Angels and Demons from 2005.  Tom Hanks played Robert Langdon when these novels were made into films. There is also another novel titled The Lost Symbol published in 2009 but not yet made into a movie.  Robert wakes up in an Italian hospital with amnesia.  Sienna Brooks helps him recover his memory and to escape an assassination in the hospital.  Robert and Sienna cannot go to the police because it was a policewoman who tried to kill him.  They can’t go to the WHO because they are also trying to track them.  Billionaire Dante-obsessed madman Bertrand Zobrist is ready to unleash a global virus that could erase half of the world’s population.  Bertrand believes this is the solution to overpopulation and a way to save the earth.
     My problem with this film is that I am not at all interested in Dante or anything about him?  The one scene I liked the best was when a drone was following Robert and Sienna in a garden.  Tom Hanks is adopting the Leonardo Dicaprio style of acting.  The more your face frowns, the more you are acting?  If you also add sweating, you are really acting?  Also, why does Felicity Jones need to do all her running and walking on boards with heels?  She needs safer footwear!!  2 ½* (This movie is so-so)

121 min, Action Directed by Ron Howard with Tom Hanks, Felicity Jones, Irrfan Khan, Sidse Babett Knudsen, Ben Foster, Ana Ularu, Ida Darvish, Paolo Antonio Simioni, Allessandro Grimaldi, Fausto Maria Sciarappa.

Note:  Imdb 6.2 out of 10, 19% critic 37% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 2*, Amazon Video 3.1* out of 5* with 899 reviews, Amazon DVD 4.3* out of 5* with 371 reviews.
Special Note:  Filmed in Istanbul, Turkey; Budapest and Etyek, Hungary; Tuscany, Veneto and Tuscany, Italy.  In his lecture, Bertrand Zobrist states that the Earth will reach a population of 32 billion in 40 years.  Actually, at the current rate of growth it will take 112.7 years to reach 32 billion.  The rivers of blood in visions seen by Robert Langdon were not all digitally filmed, 9,000 liters of fake blood made were sugar was also used. A new novel by Dan Brown titled Origin will be released September 2017 with the Robert Langdon character.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

The Colony (Colonia) 2015

     The time period for this film is the Chilean military coup by Pinochet of 1973 and is based on true events.  Lena is a flight attendant for Lufthansa, she has been seeing Daniel and he’s an activist from Germany.  They are out on the streets at the time of protesting and arrests by the military.  Daniel has a camera and Lena tries to get him to stop taking pictures.  Daniel is detained by the military and Lena doesn’t know where they have taken him?  Daniel has been taken to an underground tunnel and he is tortured for information that he doesn’t know.  Lena joins a charitable mission run by German lay preacher Paul Schafer and she is hoping she will be able to learn what happened to Daniel.  The mission is called Colonia and no one has ever escaped alive from this compound.  The mission is based on some religious tenets, it supports a punitive agrarian lifestyle and is aggressively anti-Communism.
     There is a lot of persecution in this film and Colonia Dignidad was a real secret detention camp.  It was founded by German émigrés in the mid 1950’s.  Paul Schafer arrived in the colony in 1961.  Eventually, 300 German and Chilean people resided in the camp and it covered 53 square miles.  The main legal support of the colony was through agriculture.  At times there was a school, a hospital, two airstrips, a restaurant and a power station.  The compound also did money laundering and weapon sales to supplement their income.  Investigations uncovered child sexual abuse, confinement and torture of prisoners arrested by Pinochet.  Despite the tenseness and the terrible treatment of people, this film seems to be covered with gauze reflecting everything to be normal and the romance aspect seems to dilute what is happening?  3* This movie is OK)

106 min, Drama directed by Florian Gallenberger with Emma Watson, Daniel Bruhl, Michael Nyqvist, Richenda Carey, Vicky Krieps, Jeanne Werner, Julian Ovenden, August Zierner, Martin Wuttke, Nicolas Barsoff.

Note:  Imdb 7.1, 26% critic 61% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 2*, Amazon 4.1* out of 5* with 183 reviews,
Special Note:  Filmed in Luxembourg; Berlin and Bavaria, Germany; Buenos Aires, Federal District, Argentina; Chile.  Emma Watson also starred in Regression of 2015, a film about a dangerous cult.  The cult members are given blue pills composed of drugs to make them more calm and compliant.  They could have contained benzodiazepines used to treat anxiety and scopolamine to make people susceptible to suggestion.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Off the Rails 2016

     Darius McCollum has Asperger’s syndrome, he has an overwhelming love of trains and buses in the city of New York.  He has be arrested and taken to jail 32 times for criminal impersonation of NYC subway drivers, conductors, token booth clerks and track repairmen.  Even though he’s been in jail and prison, he can’t seem to stop working on the train or bus systems.  He tried to get a job with NYC but was not hired.  He has all the qualifications and a phenomenal memory for information about running this equipment. 
     In spite of all the times Darius has been in jail or prison, he has never had therapy for his Asperger’s syndrome and his compulsions about the NYC.  Why think about this as an option or consider it might help, just put him away?  His attorney says that if he was committed to a mental institution, he may never come out and he would be placed with very dangerous patients.  It’s obvious that jail or prison is only a band-aid for the problem and just takes time out of the life Darius has.  3 ½* (I liked this movie)

86 min, Doc directed by Adam Irving with Darius McCollum, Charles Bilal, Courtney Brown, Sally Butler, Jervis Cameron, Michael John Carley, Shaun Clarke, Evan Croft, Rey Cuscanqui, Shapour Daneshmand, Jude Domski.

Note:  Imdb 7.4 out of 10, 100% critic 75 audience % on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 3*, Amazon 5.0* out of 5* with 3 reviews.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Arrival 2016

     Twelve mysterious spacecrafts land in different areas of the globe.  Where did they come from, why are they here, what do they want and how can we communicate are some questions?  No one has any answers about this unique but frightening event.  The military in the United States assembles an elite team to investigate.  Louise Banks is a linguist and she is asked to find a way to understand the communication of the aliens.  This team is racing against time because some countries are ready to engage in all out war with the spacecrafts.  Many countries have shut down communication between each other and will not share anything they’ve learned about the aliens or the ships.  The team determines the aliens are heptapods and they designed their craft from the form of an asteroid called 15 Eunomia.
     Ted Chiang is the writer of this story and he struggled to figure out how to show a character gaining knowledge of what will happen in the future.  He thought about drugs or mediation but these choices didn’t seem interesting.  The shape of the spacecrafts is that of a strange egg, a pebble or oval shape with a feel of menace and mystery.  There is a complication within this film that is in the background from the beginning but you don’t find out what it is until the end.  I have a problem with the way this story hovers along with the hovering of the aliens.  It stretches my vision of time and space plus it doesn’t film events in chronological order but I don’t know that until the end.  There is a mystery that I’m not sure about and at times I don’t know there is a mystery?  3* (This movie is OK)

116 min, Drama directed by Denis Villeneuve with Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, Forest Whitaker, Michael Stuhlbarg, Mark O’Brien, Tzi Ma, Abigail Pniowsky, Julia Scarlett Dan, Jadyn Malone, Frank Schorpion.

Note:  Imdb 8.0 out of 10, 94% critic 82% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 3*, Amazon 3.7* out of 5* with 2875 reviews.
Special Note:  Filmed in Montreal and Bas-Saint-Laurent, Quebec, Canada.  The original title for this film was Story of Your Life from the title of the short story but test audiences didn’t like it.  There is another film with this title from 1957.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

11.22.63 2016

     This film is based on a book by Stephen King.  Al Templeton is the owner of a Texas diner and he’s become very sick from lung cancer.  One of his regular patrons is recently divorced Jake Epping.  Jake is a teacher at the local continuing education program for adults.  Jake is very surprised to learn that there is a time portal in a closet at the diner that will take you back to Dallas Texas of October 21, 1960.  Al has gone into the portal many times and he once spent two years there.  The time elapse in their time zone is only 2 minutes for two years time in 1960.  Al is hoping that Jake will take is place in the time portal and try to find out how to prevent the assassination of John F. Kennedy.  Al has tried to prove that it was Lee Harvey Oswald and to kill him prior to the assassination but he’s not sure Lee is the killer?
     I only watched the first episode of this drama because I found myself in my stairwell with my ears plugged and saying “nah nah nah” over and over!!  There was a scene that I didn’t want to know what happened!!  My viewing partner said it wasn’t as bad as I was thinking it would be??  My other problem is I wondered if there would be a satisfying conclusion since it was expected there would be a second season but that’s not going to happen?  2* (I didn’t like this movie)  

1 hour each episode, 8 episodes, TV Drama created by Bridget Carpenter with James Franco, Sarah Gadon, George MacKay, Chris Cooper, Cherry Jones, Daniel Webber, Kevin J. O’Connor, Lucy Fry, Jonny Coyne, Nick Searcy, T.R.Knight.

Note:  Imdb 8.3 out of 10, audience 100% on Rotten Tomatoes, Amazon 4.5* out of 5* with 199 reviews, Common Sense Media age 16+ 3* out of 5*, Metacritic 69 out of 100 with 35 critics 7.8 out of 10 with 207 ratings.
Special Note:  The premiere of this series on Hulu was February 15, 2016 and available on DVD.  Filmed in Dallas, Texas and Ontario, Canada.  One of the scenes of a speech made by JFK is at the location and actual audio from the event is used.  A lot of photographs were made in 1960 of this event.  There is a mistake with the highway markings and lines.  Before 1971 all US highway lines were white.  A red 1958 Plymouth Fury is used in this movie and the book Christine of 1983.  Plymouth did not make a red Fury in 1958.  A fake diner was constructed at the corner of Olliver and Huron Streets in Guelph, Ontario, Canada.  Redrum is painted on a wall inside a book depository and it’s a reference to the film The Shining.  The book used as the basis for this film takes Jake to 1958 instead of 1960.  One of the stores on Main Street in Lisbon, Maine is the Blue Ribbon Laundry and this is the business in the novel Carrie.