Friday, June 30, 2017

The Left Handed Gun 1958

     Billy the Kid, also known as William Bonney, is walking across the land carrying his saddle and all his possessions.  A cattleman known as The Englishman meets up with Billy and he hires him as a ranch hand.  The Englishman is planning to supply the local Army fort with his beef.  The crooked sheriff and his men ambush The Englishman.  It’s known to everyone that The Englishman is a fair man and he never carries a gun.  Billy discovers his body and he takes the man’s death very hard.  They have only known each other for a short time but Billy has great admiration for him.  Billy determines he will gun down the men involved in the killing.
     I’ve seen other films about Billy the Kid, this one has a different story that is partially true and partially fiction.  The real name of Billy the Kid was Henry McCarty. He was born 1859 and died July 14, 1881 at the age of 22.  Billy doesn’t know how to read and The Englishman talks to him about reading plus he gives him his copy of the Bible.  Billy is pondering the meaning of life and death but he also wants revenge.  There are a LOT of bad decisions in this film that are not even partially thought through?  3* (This movie is OK) 

102 min, Western directed by Arthur Penn with Paul Newman, Lita Milan, John Dehner, Hurd Hatfield, James Congdon, James Best, Colin Keith-Johnston, John Dierkes, Robert Anderson, Wally Brown, Ainslie Pryor.

Note:  Imdb 6.5 out of 10, 100% critic 54% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Amazon 4.4* out of 5* with 108 reviews, TCM Leonard Maltin 2.5* out of 4*, Letterboxd 3.2* out of 5* with 495 ratings, MovieGeek 7* out of 10
Special Note:  Filmed at Columbia/Warner Bros. Ranch, Laramie Street Studio, Burbank Studio Stage 2, 27, 27A, 28, 28A, Burbank, California.  Paul Newman was considered miscast because he was 33 and the character is 18 at the beginning of the film.  Shot in 23 days and a flop at the US box office.  Originally, production was to be in 1956 with James Dean in the lead role.  All tintypes show a reverse image and there was a mix up with a tintype picture of Billy.  The actual picture when reversed shows Billy with a Winchester carbine in the left hand and a holstered Colt single-action on his right hip.  Reportedly Warner Bros. interfered with the production and Penn was not allowed to shoot the ending he wanted.  Also, the he was not involved in the editing process.  Arthur Penn also directed Bonnie and Clyde of 1967.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Westbound 1959

     The setting of this film is 1864 during the Civil War.  Union Army Officer Captain John Hayes doesn’t want to become the civilian boss of the Overland Stage Line but he has no choice.  This line keeps the flow of Western gold from California to the Union Army.  The headquarters is in a small Colorado town with Southern sympathizers.  They will do anything to sabotage this mission.  They don’t want to see the gold arrive to support the Union Army.  John’s former friend Clay Putnam is behind the men trying to stop the gold.
      I was surprised to see the length of this film is only 72 minutes.  It seemed like it was at least 90 minutes.  Putman and his men do a LOT to keep this Stage Line out of business.  There is a scene of a stagecoach tumbling down a mountain after the driver is killed.  I didn’t know gold was sent from California to finance the Union Army.  The California Gold Rush was from January 24, 1848 until 1855 when everything changed.  In the beginning, the miners were making the money but after 1855 the gold mining corporations made the money.  In the South, the war was financed by tariffs on imports and taxes on exports until a voluntary self-embargo in 1861 and a Union Navy blockade of the Southern ports.  Voluntary donations of coins and bouillon from private individuals were initially substantial amounts but subsided.  After 1861, a war-tax was enacted but difficult to collect.  Later efforts to raise funds were made by issuance of government debt and the printing of Confederate dollars that caused high inflation.  3* (This movie is OK)

72 min, Western directed by Budd Boetticher with Randolph Scott, Virginia Mayo, Karen Steele, Michael Dante, Andrew Duggan, Michael Pate, Wally Brown, John Daheim, Walter Barnes.

Note:  Imdb 6.7 out of 10, 73% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Amazon 4.4* out of 5* with 30 reviews, TCM Leonard Maltin 2 ½* out of 4*, Letterboxd 3.2* out of 5* with 32 ratings.
Special Note:  Filmed in Warnercolor at Warner Ranch, Calabasas and Laramie Street, Warner Brothers Burbank Studios, Burbank, California.  Production was only 20 days for $565,000.  Karen Steele and Budd Boetticher were in a relationship and she made several other films with Budd as the director.  Originally, Virginia Mayo was expected to play the lead role of Jeanie Miller but it was given to Karen Steele.  Boetticher made seven Westerns with Randolph Scott and critics believe this is the weakest film of the seven.  

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Edward, My Son 1949

     This film is based on a play by Robert Morely and Noel Langley.  Arnold and Evelyn Boult are very happy to have a son in their lives.  His name is Edward and they only want the best for him.  The Arnold’s live in London and they learn their son has a medical complication.  He has a problem with the nerves in his hip and he may always walk with a limp.  Arnold learns they can send Edward to Switzerland for an operation that will probably correct his problem.  Arnold doesn’t have the money but he talks to his business partner about burning down the building to get the money they both need.  His partner gets cold feet but Arnold has already the done the arson job on the building.  Unfortunately, Arnold’s partner goes to prison.  Arnold also thinks he's doing the right things for his son but he spoils Edward every day of his life.
     Edward is never shown in this film, he’s just discussed by Arnold and Evelyn plus by Dr. Larry Woodhope who delivered him.  Arnold thinks many of the problems Edward causes are funny and he bails him out when he gets into scrapes.  Evelyn is trying to get Edward to follow a budget but sends extra money and they don't tell Evelyn.  Arnold thinks everything he does for Edward is helping him but it’s doing just the opposite.  It’s keeping him from growing up, taking responsibility, treating others with respect and preventing him from making his own way through life.  Arnold is bland on the outside but he’s menacing when he doesn’t get his way.  I thought this was interesting and from a different viewpoint.  3 ½* (I liked this movie)  

112 min, Drama directed by George Cukor with Spencer Tracy, Deborah Kerr, Ian Hunter, Jamed Donald, Mervyn Johns, Leueen MacGrath, Felix Aylmer, Water Fitzgerald, Tilsa Page, Ernest Jay, Colin Gordon, Harriette Johns Julian D'Albie.

Note:  Imdb 6.6 out of 10, 47% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Amazon 3.9* out of 5* with 7 reviews, TCM Leonard Maltin 2.5* out of 4*.
Special Note:  Katharine Hepburn was considered for the role of Eileen but Hepburn and Tracy were careful about the number of movies they were in together.  Tracy was married but he was in a relationship with Hepburn.  MGM recorded a loss for this film of $1,159,000.  George Cukor directed many films including The Philadelphia Story, Born Yesterday, My Fair Lady, Gone with the Wind, Something’s Got to Give.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Shut In 2016

     Mary is a widow, she lives and works in isolated rural Maine.  She works as a child psychologist and she has an 18 year-old stepson.  Steven is paralyzed from the neck down and he doesn't speak due to a car accident that killed her husband.  Steven was going to be sent away to a boarding school because of his out-of-control behavior.  He didn't want to go, he wanted to stay with his stepmother instead.  It's six months later and Mary is also working with a young deaf boy Tom and he goes missing.  Everyone thinks the boy is dead because there is heavy snow, freezing temperatures and another severe storm is coming.  Tom came to Mary's house but he ran away.  She hopes the boy is rescued before he disappears forever.  Mary begins to hear sounds in the night and she has trouble sleeping.
     This movie isn’t really scary; it’s the music trying to make you think it’s scary!!  Mary doesn’t know if she’s really seeing things in the night or she is just dreaming them?  Maybe she’s dreaming about the noises too?  Her therapist wants to put her on medication to help with her sleeping problems.  Mary probably has depression because of what happened to her husband, her son and now Tom.  Watts does a lot of breathing and gasping in her role, it’s a wonder she didn’t hyperventilate?  Of course, she really didn't but I don't know how she would be able to swallow baby soap or shampoo?  2 1/2* (This movie so-so)

92 min, Drama directed by Farren Blackburn with Naomi Watts, Oliver Platt, Charlie Heaton, Jacob Temblay, Clementine Poidatz, Alex Braunstein, David Cubitt, Crystal Balint, Ellen David, Tim Post, Peter Outerbridge.

Note:  Imdb 4.6 out of 10, 6% critic 21% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 1 1/2*, Amazon 3.4* out of 5* with 57 reviews.
Special Note:  A French-Canadian production filmed in Sutton, Quebec, Canada.  The ending was revised and filmed a second time.  Featured in the 2013 Blacklist a one of the most liked unmade scripts of the year.  The actor in the role of the Tom was also in the film Room.  This film was expected to gross about $6 million in the opening weekend but grossed $3.7 million and finished seventh at the box office.  Watts was nominated for a Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Actress for Shut In and The Divergent Series: Allegiant.

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 na├»ve 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?