Monday, July 31, 2017

All Nighter 2017

     Ginnie and Martin are dating.  Ginnie’s dad takes them to dinner and it’s very awkward because Martin is very nervous.  Mr. Gallo is a workaholic father and he travels a lot.  He’s divorced from Ginnie’s mother and she has remarried.  Six months later, Mr. Gallo is knocking on Martin’s door early in the morning?  He’s looking for Ginnie, he’s tried to contact Ginnie but her voicemail is full.  Martin tells Mr. Gallo that they broke up three months ago and Ginnie is living with friends.  They start asking Ginnie’s friends in West Hollywood if they know where she is.
     Martin is under pressure every minute from Mr. Gallo and nothing seems to be going well.  Martin and Mr. Gallo couldn’t be more opposite.  Mr. Gallo keeps asking Martin to call him by his first name but Martin cannot do even this simple thing.  I would call him Mr. Gallo, Sir!!  I was surprised by the very low reviews?  3* (This movie was OK)      

86 min, Comedy directed by Gavin Wiesen with Analeigh Tipton, Emile Hirsch, J.K. Simmons, Meta Golding, Jon Daly, Taran Killam, Kristen Schaal, Stephanie Allynne, Rebecca Drysdale, Connor Barrett, Blake Perlman.

Note:  Imdb 5.6 out of 10, 0% critic 34% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Amazon 3.4* out of 5* with 16 reviews, Metacritic 37 out of 100 with 4 critics 6.1 out of 10 with 7 reviews.
Special Note:  Filmed in Los Angeles, California.  There was limited release of this film on March 17, 2017 and then it was released through video on demand on March 24, 2017.    

The Age of Shadows 2016

     The setting of this film is the late 1920’s in Japan.  A group of resistance fighters are trying to bring in explosives from Shanghai to eliminate key Japanese facilities in Seoul, Korea.  The Japanese agents are trying to stop them.  A Korean-born Japanese police officer is leading the battle with the resistance fighters.  He tries to take the fighters in alive so they can be questioned.  Previously, this police officer was in the independence movement.
     Usually a film like this would have subtitles but it has been dubbed in English.  I think this one thing takes away a LOT from the movie.  I couldn’t keep interested and this would be required with subtitles to be able understand anything about the movie!!  It does make it easier to watch with English but it seems watered down and unimpressive.  I didn’t feel drawn by any of the characters and the run time is too long?  2* (I didn’t like this movie)

140 min, Action directed by Jee-woon Kim with Byung-hun Lee, Yoo gong, Kang-ho Song, Ji-min Han, Hee-soon Park, Seong-rok Sin, Shingo Tsurumi.
Note:  Imdb 7.2 out of 10, 100% critic 82% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 3*, Amazon 4.4* out of 5* with 14 reviews, Metacritic 78 out of 100 with 14 critics no user score as yet.
Special Note:  Filmed in Seoul, South Korea.  This film was the official submission of South Korea for Best Foreign Language film for the 2017 Academy Awards.  The winner was The Salesman submitted by Iran.  This is the first Korean production by Warner Bros.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Seeds of Yesterday 2015

     This film is based on a book series by V.C. Andrews and this is the 4th in a set of 5 novels.  The novels tell the saga of the Foxworth-Dollanganger-Sheffield-Winslow family.  Bart Foxworth is the middle child of the Sheffield family and he inherits the Foxworth mansion.  He has legally changed his name from Sheffield to Foxworth.  He rebuilds the manor and he plans to celebrate his 25 year birthday in the mansion.  He invites his parents Cathy and Christopher Sheffield plus his brother Jory and his wife Melodie Marquet.  An adopted teenage sister Cindy is also included.  Bart underwent psychiatric treatment in his teens because of his encounters with his deceased grandmother Corrine Foxworth.  Christopher Sheffield has been managing the estate until Bart reached his 25 year birthday.
     There are a LOT of tension among the family.  Bart’s parents are wondering if Bart is suffering relapse of his mental issues.  Jory and Melodie are expecting twin babies and Bart constantly belittles Cindy.  Bart seems to push his family and everyone else away with his caustic behavior.  This film is cheesy and it’s the expensive beautiful cheese!!  Everything is crazy, overdone, it's unbelievable and an attempt to get you to think any of this could be true!!   Is there anyone in this film that is not of model quality?  Do any of the characters have any issues with weight or looks ever entering their minds?  Everything seems unreal including their mental states!!  Maybe too much money makes you crazy??  2 ½* (This movie is just so-so)

86 min, Drama presented by Lifetime directed by Shawn Ku with Rachael Carpani, James Maslow, Jason Lewis, Anthony Konechny, Sammi Hanratty, Leah Gibson, Nikohl Boosheri, Andrew Herr, Aidan Kahn, Nancy Ebert, Peter J. Gray.

Note:  Imdb 6.2 out of 10, Amazon 4.6* out of 5* with 45 reviews
Special Note:  Filmed in British Columbia, Canada.  The other titles in the Dollanganger series are Flowers in the Attic, Petals on the Wind and If There be Thorns.  The last novel takes place before Flowers in the Attic but has not been made into a film as yet.

Everybody Loves Somebody 2017

     Clara Barron is an OB-GYN, she lives in a great house in LA and she has a loving family.  On the inside, she hasn’t figured things out yet.  She will be attending a family wedding in Mexico and it’s making her feel bad because she’s not married yet.  She asks a co-worker to pretend he is her boyfriend because she doesn’t have one.  Then, she learns her ex-boyfriend will be at the wedding.  He disappeared from her life completely and now he shows up?  What is Clara going to do?  Go back to the old or try someone new?
     I thought this film was in English but 75% is in Spanish.  This film is a light romantic comedy but you don’t know until the end what Clara is going to do about her love life?  Her biggest problem is she doesn’t know what she wants so how can she make the right choice?  She belittles her sister’s marriage but she doesn’t really understand that either.  She also chews on some of her patients that aren't getting along and now they are going to be parents.  3* (This movie is OK)    
102 min, Comedy directed by Catalina Aguilar Mastretta with Karla Souza, Jose Maria Yazpik, Ben O’Toole, Alejandro Camacho, Patricia Bernal, Tiare Scanda, Ximena Romo, K.C. Clyde.

Note:  Imdb 6.5 out of 10, 93% critic 71% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Metacritic 74 out of 100 with 5 critics, a clap San Francisco Chronicle, Amazon 3.1* out of 5* with 51 reviews.
Special Note:  The wedding is being held in Ensenada Mexico.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Why Him 2016

     Stephanie Fleming is attending college at Stanford University in California.  Her parents in Michigan are very proud that this prestigious college accepted her.  Her father Ned and mother Barb plus her younger brother Scotty plan to spend Christmas with her in California.  When they arrive, they learn they will not be staying at a hotel as they planned but Stephanie’s boyfriend has invited them to stay with him.  They have only heard about him recently and they don’t know anything about him?  It turns out that Laird is a Silicon Valley millionaire with a big estate.  He’s involved in the development of video games and his employees also work and live at his estate.  Ned feels they have made a big mistake and shouldn’t be staying with Laird.  He also thinks Stephanie has made a big mistake in her choice of a boyfriend.  The only family member that is happy is Scotty.
     Laird doesn’t have manners or social skills plus every other word he says is a swear word.  There are a lot of funny moments in this film but also a lot of awkward moments!!  I could see why Ned thinks his daughter has made a big mistake to be serious about Laird.  Ned wants her to concentrate on college and not a jerk boyfriend!!  Scotty fits right in because Laird seems to be a contemporary.  3* (This movie is OK)   
111 min, Comedy directed by John Hamburg with Zoey Deutch, James Franco, Tangie Ambrose, Cedric the Entertainer, Bob Stephenson, Bryan Cranston, Megan Mullally, Zack Pearlman, Griffin Gluck, Jee Young Han, Mary Pat Gleason, Juliette B. Reiss.

Note:  Imdb 6.3 out of 10, 40% critic 52% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 1 ½*, Amazon 3.6* out of 5* with 631 reviews, Metacritic 39 out of 100 with 30 critics 5.6 out of 10 with 91 reviews.
Special Note:  Filmed in Grand Rapids, Michigan; Los Angeles, California.  The cast was given free access to improvise and 240 hours were filmed.  The hours had to be trimmed to 90 minutes for the film.  The app developed by Laird is Ape Assassins and is available at the iPhone App Store.  James Franco painted many of the paintings in Laird’s house and he designed the tattoos for Laird.  Director John Hamburg was James Franco’s professor at New York University.  Originally Ben Stiller was set to play Ned and Jonah Hill as Laird.  James Franco is 17 years older than Zoey Deutch, his girlfriend in this film.  Elon Musk from Tesla Inc. has a cameo role.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

The Handmaids's Tale 1990

     This film is based on a novel by Margaret Atwood.  The setting is a future America (now called Gilead) where the religious right has taken over the country.  Many areas have had nuclear fallout and pollution, 99% of women are unable to have children.  Kate is a handmaid and she has been chosen for this because she is able to conceive a child.  She is assigned to the Commander’s home and since his name is Fred, her name is changed to Offred.  Serena Joy is married to Fred and she is unable to have children but she wants a baby very much.  There is a possibility that the Commander has become sterile because of the pollution but that idea is not considered.  It will be Offred’s fault if she is unable to have a baby.  There is also a resistance movement trying to move America back to center away from the right. 
     I watched the first season of the 2017 TV series The Handmaid’s Tale with Elizabeth Moss and I wanted to compare this film with the series. A second season of the series will be shown so I don’t know the ending yet.  There are a lot of similarities in this film to the series but there are differences too.  I thought both were good because the right in control of America is a speculation subject.  It was interesting to see how the story plays out with some good points but bad points as well.  3 ½* (I liked this movie) 

108 min, Drama directed by Volker Schlondorff with Natasha Richardson, Faye Dunaway, Aidan Quinn, Elizabeth McGovern, Victoria Tennant, Robert Duvall, Blanche Baker, Traci Lind, Zoey Wilson, Kathryn Doby.

Note:  Imdb 6.0 out of 10, 31% critic 44% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 2*, Amazon 3.8* out of 5* with 143 reviews, Rolling Stone 4* out of 4*. 
Special Note:  Filmed in Blue Ridge Mountains, Durham and Raleigh, North Carolina.  Originally, both Jodie Foster and Sigourney Weaver were offered the role of Offred.  Faye Dunaway quit the role of Serena Joy because she felt it was too weak.  Margaret Atwood personally called her and Faye changed her mind.  Robert Duvall was inspired by evangelism after this film and he wrote The Apostle of 1997.  There is a dress code with handmaids wearing red, wives blue and aunts (guardians of the handmaids) brown, police and government black.

Monday, July 24, 2017

A Tale of Love and Darkness 2015

     This film is based on an autobiographical novel by Amos Oz published in 2002.  It’s the story told in flashbacks of his youth in the late 1940’s and the setting is the last years of Mandatory Palestine and the first years of independent Israel.  United Nations General Assembly Resolution 181 partitioned Mandatory Palestine into an independent Arab and Jewish state.  A civil war begins in Palestine and Amos’ father fights in the 1948 Arab-Israeli War.  Amos looks back on his relationship with his parents and his beginnings as a writer.  He believes the stories we tell become the stories we live.
     The first book written by Amos’ father Arieh had five printed copies in the bookstore.  They stayed on the shelf for a long time until all copies were bought at the same time.  Amos’ mother is Fania and she becomes deeply depressed causing her to be unable to sleep or eat.  Amos and his father try to hide her illness from their friends and family.  Amos tries to remove himself from his past by living on a Kibbutz.  I didn’t like this film.  It’s deep and dark but it’s not really saying anything.  It’s not about their feelings about what is happening or why but just the events.  Since there are subtitles, I needed to pay attention but it was a struggle!!  I can see that Portman would have a passion for this subject but I didn’t feel drawn into this film? 1 ½* (I really didn’t like this movie)

95 min, Bio directed by Natalie Portman with Gilad Kahana, Amir Tessler, Natalie Portman, Moni Moshonov, Ohad Knoller, Makram Khoury, Alexander Peleg, Neta Riskin, Rotem Keinan, Tomer Kapon, Yonaton Shiray, Shira Haas, Asia Naifeld.

Note:  Imdb 6.1 out of 10, 65% critic 50% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 2 ½*, Amazon 4.1* out of 5* with 30 reviews, Rolling Stone 3* out of 4*.
Special Note:  Filmed in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Jordan River, Kibbutz Beit Nir, Kibbutz Hulda, Israel.  This is the first film directed by Natalie Portman.  The producers wanted the film to be in English but she fought to have it remain in Hebrew.  Portman optioned the rights to the book in 2007.  It took nearly 8 years to acquire funding and produce this film.

Friday, July 21, 2017

A Monster Calls 2016

     This film is based on an unfinished novel by Siobbhan Dowd and completed by Patrick Ness.  Conor lives in Britain and he has a lot of trouble with the same nightmare.  He lives with his mother and their home looks out onto a church and a graveyard guarded by a giant yew tree.  His parents are divorced and his father lives in Los Angeles.  His mother is struggling with treatments for cancer and he’s very worried about her.  He’s afraid he might have to move in with his Grandma.  Conor is shy, a daydreamer and artist.  He also has a lot of problems with bullying at school.
     The scenery is very beautiful and Conor’s mother was also an artist when was younger.  No wonder Conor has nightmares, a lot is going on in his life and he doesn’t have the maturity for processing these events.  He wishes he didn’t receive a lot of pity looks from others.  Can Conor find out what his nightmare really means?  Geraldine Chaplin as the Head Teacher was 72 at the time of filming.   
108 min, Drama directed by J.Z. Bayona with Lewis MacDougall, Sigourney Weaver, Felicity Jones, Toby Kebbell, Ben Moor, James Melville, Oliver Steer, Dominic Boyle, Jennifer Lim, Max Gabbay.

Note:  Imdb 7.5 out of 10, 87% critic 82% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 3*, Amazon 4.3* out of 5* with 243 reviews.

Special Note:  Filmed in Greater Manchester, Lancashire, West Yorkshire, Huddersfield, Derbyshire, England, UK; Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain.  Sigourney Weaver had an easy time with her English accent because her mother was British.  The church by Conor's house is St. Thomas’ at Heights, Delph, Oldham and it closed in 1963.  In Conor's house, one framed picture in a series of pictures of young Grandma is actually a publicity photo of Weaver from Ghostbusters of 1984.  A theme park in scenes with Conor and his dad is Blackpool Pleasure Beach in Blackpool, Lancashire, England.  The school scenes were shot at Colne Valley High School in Linthwaite, Huddersfield, England.

Nocturnal Animals 2016

     Susan Morrow is married to Ray Marcus and they are having trouble with communication in their relationship.  Susan was previously married to Edward Sheffield.   She wanted to leave the marriage because she thought they weren’t compatible.  Edward sends Susan a copy of his new manuscript.  She was surprised to read that the novel is dedicated to her.  Susan is very drawn into the novel and she wants to meet with Edward to talk about his latest work. 
     I didn’t care for the slow motion art presented in the opening scenes!!  Susan is reading the novel and scenes from the novel are portrayed as one story.  Susan and her relationship with her current husband and also Edward are in other scenes.  Basically, this film is two stories that overlap.  The novel is very powerful and also violent.  Michael Shannon has a role as one of the characters in the novel and what type does he usually play?  The ending leaves you with a question to think about??  Also, is it intended or a coincidence to cast Amy Adams and Isla Fisher since they are similar in appearance?  3 ½* (I liked this movie)

116 min, Drama directed by Tom Ford with Amy Adams, Jake Gyllenhaal, Michael Shannon, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Isla Fisher, Ellie Bamber, Armie Hammer, Karl Glusman, Robert Aramayo, Laura Linney, Michael Sheen.

Note:  Imdb 7.5 out of 10, 74% critic 73% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 3 ½*, Metacritic 67 out of 100 with 45 critics 7.8 out of 10 with 330 reviews.
Special Note:  Filmed in Lancaster, Mojave Desert, Los Angeles and Malibu, California.  There was heavy bidding and a battle for the right to distribute this film in Cannes.  Focus Features paid $20 million for global distribution.  Tom Ford is well known as a fashion designer but he left the wardrobe to the costume designer.  He felt to have his designs in the film would be like a commercial.  Laura Linney plays Amy Adams’ mother but she is only 10 years older than Amy.  Isla Fisher said that the night shoot in the Mojave lasted 10 days.  It was grueling and emotionally draining.

American Pastoral 2016

     This film is based on a novel by Philip Roth that won the 1998 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.  Seymour Levov had the nickname Swede in the Jewish community of Newark, New Jersey.  He was a star high school athlete and he married Dawn.  She was a beauty pageant winner and they have a daughter Merry.  Swede took over managing the glove factory his father founded.  Merry had problems with stuttering and the psychiatrist they consulted said she was doing this to make a place for herself  in the family.  Merry felt she couldn’t compete with her beautiful and talented parents.  Merry is a beautiful and smart daughter but she becomes involved in protesting the Vietnam War in 1968.  The war ran from 1 November 1955 to 30 April 1975.  There were riots in their area near the factory with people killed and property destroyed.  Swede and Dawn become very concerned about Merry, especially her language and rebelliousness.
     While watching this film, I thought about children and how their parents raise them?  How much difference does the style of parenting make in their lives and what elements should be stressed in children?  How much blame can be placed on parents for a child moving forward in the wrong direction?  How much is due to the free will of the child as they mature?  These are difficult questions with different answers and possibilities depending on the expert or the individual.  I really felt for Seymour and Dawn in this film.  I felt for the lives and families touched by Merry.  This time period was a very difficult one for the United States both politically and for people living in this country.  You can see there are many sides to the information presented in this film!!  3 ½* (I liked this movie)

108 min, Crime directed by Ewan McGregor with Jennifer Connelly, Dakoa Fanning, Ewan McGregor, Peter Riegert, Rupert Evans, Uzo Aduba, Molly Parker, Valorie Curry, Hannah Nordberg, Julia Silverman, Mark Hildreth.

Note:  Imdb 6.1 out of 10, 22% critic 29% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 1 ½*, Amazon 3.2* out of 5* with 165 reviews, ReelViews 2 ½* out of 4*.
Special Note:  Filmed in Pittsburgh, Harmony, Wilkinsburg, Lawrenceville, Pennsylvania.  Originally development began in 2004 with Phillip Noyce as director, Paul Bettany as Swede, Jennifer Connelly as Dawn and Evan Rachel Wood as Merry.  After ten years, all the actors moved on except Connelly.  McGregor didn’t have very much input into the script or the casting plus many of the preproduction details.  He stepped in at the last minute as director.

Fences 2016

     This film is based on a Broadway play by August Wilson that opened in 1987.  The setting of is Pittsburgh of the 1950’s.  Troy Maxson is a sanitation worker and he is able to advance to being a driver.  He’s married to Rose and they’ve been together for 18 years.  Cory is their teenage son and he’s interested in football.  Troy dreamed of becoming a professional baseball player.  He was thought to be too old when the leagues began accepting African-American athletes.  He’s bitter over what happened to him and he believes the same thing will happen to Cory.  He arranges for a football recruiter to skip a meeting with his Cory.
     I didn’t like the way Troy treated his son.  Cory asks Troy why he doesn’t like him and it seems this is the truth.  He removes Cory’s chance before it ever starts even though Troy has experienced how deeply painful this feels.  Later on, I didn’t like how Troy treated Rose.  I felt sympathy for Troy until he mistreated Cory and Rose.  I thought he did way too much talking too.  After a few minutes, I couldn’t pay attention to what he was saying because of the continuous talking!!  Some of his talking comes from a gin bottle, especially Friday after work!!  3* (This movie was OK)

139 min, Drama directed by Denzel Washington with Viola Davis, Stephen Henderson, Denzel Washington, Jovan Adepo, Russell Hornsby, Mykelti Williamson, Saniyya Sidney, Christopher Mele, Lesley Boone, Jason Silvis.

Note:  Imdb 7.3 out of 10, 93% critic 76% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 4*, Metacritic 79 out of 100 with 48 critics 7.3 out of 10 user reviews, Amazon 4.3* out of 5* with 469 reviews.
Special Note:  Filmed in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  Denzel Washington performed this play 114 times at the Cort Theatre in New York City in 2010.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Morgan 2016

     Lee Weathers is sent from the genetic-engineering company SynSect to evaluate the human hybrid Morgan.  She is smarter than humans, has advanced growth rate and seems to be 19 but she is really 5 years old.  There was an incident between Morgan and scientist Dr. Kathy Grieff.  Psychologist Dr. Alan Sharpio also arrives to evaluate Morgan.  There is another incident with Dr. Sharpio and Lee determines that Morgan needs to be terminated.  This comes as a shock and surprise to all the scientists who have been on this program since before Morgan was born.
     Morgan would’ve been a success if she had been able to tame her emotions but she is really only 5 years old.  It seems that Morgan has reverted to the weapon part of her system without any restraints.  I could see that all the scientists would be very committed to having Morgan be a success.  It was devastating for them to even think about the termination of Morgan.  Supposedly, this was filmed in New York but that is not the setting.  3* (This movie was OK)

92 min, Horror directed by Luke Scott with Kate Mara, Anya Taylor-Joy, Rose Leslie, Michael Yare, Toby Jones, Chris Sullivan, Boyd Holbrook, Vinette Robinson, Michelle Yeoh, Brian Cox, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Paul Giamatti, Crispian Belfrage, Amybeth McNulty, Jonathan Aris.

Note:  Imdb 5.8 out of 10, 40% critic 30% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 2*, Amazon 4.2* out of 5* with 69 reviews, Metacritic 48 out of 100 with 33 critics 5.6* out of 10* with 53 reviews.
Special Note:  Filmed in County Antrim, County Down, Northern Ireland, UK; North Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.  This film did not place in the weekend top ten and it was pulled after 2 ½ weeks in theaters.  It had one of the worst openings of the summer for a film shown in over 2,000 theaters.  Both Morgan and Lee have names that can be either male or female. 

The Whales of August 1987

     This film is based on a play by David Berry.  Libby Strong and Sarah Webber are sisters and they live in Philadelphia.  They are staying at the family’s summer cottage on an island off the coast of Maine.  The cottage belongs to Sarah and it’s been in their family most of their lives.  There are a few people who have been half-century friends or acquaintances on the island.  There is Tisha Doughty and she is like a bossy third sister.  Joshua Brackett has done a lot of the handyman work on the cottage.  Mr. Maranov, is a new person and he is a former Russian aristocrat.  Chivalry is a way of life for him and he was previously wealthy.  Unfortunately, his landlady has recently passed away and he will need to look for a new place to live.
     I thought it was interesting to see all the actors in their later years.  The scenery in this area is very beautiful.  Libby and Sarah are opposites in their personalities.  Libby is very formal and she believes they don’t need a new picture window in the cottage.  It's because they are too old to have something new?  Sarah says she doesn’t feel that old!!  Bette Davis is very recognizable by her manner of speech  3 ½* (I liked this movie)              

90 min, Drama directed by Lindsay Anderson with Bette Davis, Lillian, Gish, Vincent Price, Ann Sothern, Harry, Carey Jr., Frank Grimes, Margaret Ladd, Tisha Sterling, Mary Steenburgen, frank Pitkin, Mike Bush.

Note:  Imdb 7.6 out of 10, 63% critic 66% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 3*, Amazon 4.3* out of 5* with 130 reviews, TCM average 4.98 user review, Letterboxd 3.2* out of 5* with 376 reviews.
Special Note:  Filmed in Portland, Cliff Island, Cosco Bay, Cumberland County and Gulf of Maine, Maine.  This movie was filmed in the autumn of 1986, Lillian Gish was 93 during filming and Ann Sothern was 92.  Bette Davis was the youngest of the women at 78 but her character is blind and Vincent Price was 75.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

The Disappointments Room 2016

     David and Dana are a married couple with a young son Lucas.  They move from
New York to an isolated manor in the countryside.  Dana is an architect and the couple plan on making extensive renovations to the manor.  Dana hears noises in the attic and she finds a hidden locked room.  She wonders why the room is not shown on the plans of the house?  She finds the keys for the room and she learns the evil spirit of an old man haunts the room.  A local historian tells her that the room is probably a disappointments room.  When wealthy families had a child with birth defects, the child was locked away in a separate room not to be seen by others.
     Dana is suffering from extreme depression because of the accidental death of her infant daughter.  She is susceptible to nightmares, stress, strain and a reaction to the isolation.  Her husband thinks she is delusional.  Some of the things she sees come to her in her dreams.  There isn’t really anything scary in this film, it’s just the music that makes you think it’s scary!!  3* (This movie is OK)

85 min, Thriller directed by D. J. Caruso with Kate Beckinsale, Mel Raido, Duncan Joiner, Lucas Till, Michaela Conlin, Michael Landes, Marcia De Rousse.

Note:  Imdb 3.9 out of 10, 0% critic 18% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Metacritic 31 out of 100 with 7 critics 2.6 out of 10 user score with 21 reviews, Amazon 2.9* out of 5* with 102 reviews.
Special Note:  Filmed in Greensboro and Ramseur, North Carolina.  Two separate buildings in downtown Greensboro were refinished to look like New York during the filming.  This is the first release by Relativity Studios since filing for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Protection.  The company missed loan payments and received lawsuits.  Filming was completed in 2014 but not released until their legal problems were settled.  A lot of footage was cut during post-production. 

Monday, July 17, 2017

Prime Suspect 1972 of 2017

     This series was adapted from the novel Tennison written by Lynda La Plante and adapted for the screen by Glen Laker.  WPC Jane Tennison is 22-years-old and she has joined the Metropolitan Police Service Force in 1973.  Women were gradually being integrated into the UK police force.  There are still difficulties with sexism among the current officers.  Tennison begins working on the murder of Julie-Ann Collins and a possible bank robbery report.  Jane’s parents disapprove of her career choice and she is still living at home. 
     This is a tough series and the crimes being investigated are not easy cases.  There are a LOT of people who could have murdered Collins.  It isn’t easy to sort them out and there are many unsavory characters.  The bank robbery is a big deal and has ties to people still in prison for other crimes.  

60 min each episode, 6 episodes TV series created by Lynds La Plante with Stefanie Martini, Sam Reid, Blake Harrison, Alun Armstrong, Ruth Sheen Jessica Gunning, Andrew Brooke, Nick Sidi, Geraldine Somerville, Geoffrey Streatfeild, Nancy Carroll, Rosie Day, Clive De-Halton Gibson, Atilla G. Kerekes, Nick Nevern, Anthony Skordi.

Special Note:  This is a prequel to the TV series starring Helen Mirren that was shown from 1991-2006.  There was a failure to reach an agreement between ITV and Lynda La Plante the series will not be renewed for a second season in spite of high ratings (an average of 6 million viewers) for the first season. 
Note:  Imdb 7.5 out of 10, 50% critic 66% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Amazon 4.5* out of 5* with 2 reviews.
Special Note:  Filmed in England, UK.  The bank robbery may have been based on the Baker Street bank robbery of 1971.  Some of the actors have been on other BBC shows such as Call the Midwife and Father Brown.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Carrie 1976

     High school student Carrie White is nearing the end of her senior year.  She is a social outcast, doesn't have any friends and the other students constantly tease her.  Most of Carrie’s problems are due to her upbringing because her mother is unstable and she is a religious fanatic.  Margaret White had a failed marriage and her husband/Carrie's father left her for another woman.  PE Teacher Miss Collins is her only adult authority figure and she tries to help Carrie but she can’t go against Carrie’s mother's beliefs.  Because of an intense teasing session in gym class, the other students receive after school punishment from Miss Collins.  This event leads to several of the students setting up a situation that will happen at the senior prom.
     Even though this film is from 1976, I haven’t seen it before.  I thought it might be too scary since it’s based on a Stephen King novel.  It’s not scary at all after its years of mellowing.  It’s more hilarious and a comedy than scary.  Originally, I didn’t know that John Travolta was in this film.  3* (This movie is OK)

98 min, Horror directed by Brian De Palma with Sissy Spacek, Piper Laurie, Army Irving, William Katt, John Travolta, Nancy Allen, Betty Buckley, P.J. Soles, Priscilla Pointer, Sydney Lassick, Stefan Gierasch, Michael Talbott.

Note:  Imdb 7.4 out of 10, 93% critic 76% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, TCM user rating 5* out of 5*, Roger Ebert 3 ½*, Amazon 4.5* out of 5* with 810 reviews.
Special Note:  Filmed in Santa Paula, Vernon, Hermosa Beach, Culver City, Los Angeles, San Fernando, California.  This was the first book for Stephen King and he was paid $2500 for the movie rights to Carrie.  The name of the school is Bates High and a reference to Norman Bates in Psycho of 1960.  Piper Laurie thought her character was so over the top that this film must be a comedy.  She constantly burst into laughter between takes.  The scenes of the prom took over 2 weeks to film and 35 takes.  Spacek was 25 at the time of filming but Carrie is 17 in the novel.  Carrie grossed over $33 million in the US with a $1.8 million investment and the film ending is different from the book.  During the writing of the novel, King got some of his character and plot ideas while working in an industrial laundry for $1.60 an hour.  Also, some of the King’s experiences as a teacher are included in the book.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

In Plain Sight 2008-2012

     US Marshal Mary Shannon provides new identities and places to live for people under the witness protection program.  She is based in Albuquerque, New Mexico and she works with her partner Marshall Mann.  Mary has a dysfunctional family with an overly dependent mother.  She has a younger sister Brandi and both women live with Mary.  Raphael Ramirez is Mary’s boyfriend but she has little time for him and he plays minor league baseball.
     This series had potential but there is a lot of over acting.  Scenes in Mary’s home have the same weight as the scenes with criminals trying to avoid any punishment for their crimes?  2 ½* (This series is so-so)

60 min each TV episode, Crime created by David Maples with Marry McCormack, Frederick Weller, Paul Ben-Victor, Nichole Hiltz, Lesley Ann Warren, Cristian de la Fuente, Victoria Murphy, Joshua Malina.

Note:  Imdb 7.3 out of 10, 50% audience on Rotten Tomatoes,
Special Note:  Filmed in Albuquerque and Albuquerque Studios, New Mexico.  The police cars have the same color and graphics as the real police cars in Albuquerque but the seal on the rear fender is fictitious.  The building used for the US Marshal’s office is the historic Sunshine Building in downtown Albuquerque.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Silence 2016

     The novel source for this film was written by Shusaku Endo and published in 1966.  The setting is the 17th century in Japan.  Two Catholic missionaries, Father Sebastiao Rodrigues and Father Francisco Garupe, travel to Japan from Portugal to search for their missing mentor Father Ferreira.  They are not sure if he is still alive.  At this time in history, Catholicism was outlawed and the presence of missionaries forbidden.  Brutal feudal lords and the ruling samurai are fully committed to discover hidden Christians.   
     The story is based on historical facts but the nationality of Father Ferreira was changed to Portuguese from Italian.  There is a LOT of suffering in this film.  Japanese authorities torture the village people and the missionaries in many ways.  Father Rodrigues and Father Garupe are fully committed to their task but they realize they may not be able to complete it?  There were times I wondered how far the violence would escalate?  I think this needed more concise editing since there is some repetition in the scenes.  Martin Scorsese was raised in a devoutly Catholic environment and his family is of Sicilian-American descent.  3 ½* (I liked this movie)

161 min, Adventure directed by Martin Scorsese with Andrew Garfield, Adam Driver, Liam Neeson, Tadanobu Asano, Ciaran Hinds, Issei Ogata, Shin’yaTsukamoto, Yoshi Oida, Yosuke Kubozuka, Kaoru Endo.

Note:  Imdb 7.2 out of 10, 85% critic 69% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 4*, Amazon 3.9* out of 5* with 146 reviews, 3 ½* out of 4* Rolling Stone.
Special Note:  Taipei City, Hualien, Taichung, Taiwan; Macau, China.  Filming was completed in 73 days.  Liam Neeson said that Scorsese is intimidating on the set and he requires absolute silence.  Driver lost 50 pounds for the role, 30 before filming and 20 during filming.  Neeson lost 20 pounds for his role.  The film’s premiere was held at the Vatican.  There was a pre-screening for 400 Jesuit Priests in Rome.  There were repeated delays in the production department and Daniel Day-Lewis, Gael Garcia Bernal and Benicio Del Toro all dropped out.  Weather conditions were inhospitable and the production was daylight-dependent.  There were no luxuries with additional budgetary funding.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

A Face in the Crowd 1957

     The setting of this film is the late 1950’s in the United States.  Larry Rhodes is an itinerant Ozark guitar picker and he has been thrown in jail for drunkenness in Arkansas.  Marcia Jeffries is a radio broadcaster and she comes to the jail to interview some of the men on the air.  She interviews Rhodes and he is invited to sing on the radio show at station KGRK.  He strikes a chord with the audience and he begins to have a following.  He lands a spot on a television show in Memphis billed as Lonesome Rhodes.  This show brings an offer to star on his own show in New York City.  Rhodes begins to meet politicians and to influence the public.
      The people who really know Rhodes see him as raw, vulgar, rough and cornball.  When he begins to thirst for power, Marcia Jeffries wonders if she has unleashed a monster on the public?  He hypnotizes the people watching his show and in person until Marcia takes matters into her own hands.  3 ½* (I liked this movie)  
126 min, Drama directed by Elia Kazan with Any Griffith, Patricia Neal, Anthony Franciosa, Walter Matthau, Lee Remick, Percy Waram, Paul McGrath, Rod Brasfield, Marshall Neilan, Alexander Kirkland, Charles Irving.

Note:  Imdb 8.2 out of 10, 92% critic 94% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, TCM Leonard Maltin 3.5* out of 4* average user 4.09* out of 5*, Amazon 4.6* out of 5* with 373 reviews.
Special Note:  Filmed in Memphis, Tennessee; Paragould and Piggott, Arkansas; Los Angeles, California; New York City, New York.  This is the film debut of Andy Griffith and Lee Remick.  The character of Lonesome Rhodes was based on Arthur Godfrey, Huey Long, Will Rogers and Billy Graham.  Patricia Neal returned to the screen after a four-year absence after an affair with Gary Cooper and a nervous breakdown.  Marlon Brando was asked to play Rhodes but he refused the offer.  On-location shooting was used to lower the cost of shooting in Hollywood. 

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Rogue One 2016

    The setting of this film is the days before the events of Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope of 1977.  Imperial scientist Galen Erso has helped to build a new super weapon called the Death Star.  This weapon can travel through hyperspace and erase an entire planet.  Galen tells his daughter Jyn Erso that a weakness has been built into the weapon.  The Rebel Alliance sets out on a desperate mission to steal the plans for the Death Star.  They must find the area of weakness and disarm this weapon. 
     Everything about this film is dark and that usually indicates to me that darkness is used to cover up any details of the scenery?  I didn’t think there was much of a plot and nothing is said to place the time sequence.  I didn’t know if this was a prequel or a sequel?  The history of the characters isn’t explained and most have little background information?  Isn’t the Death Star an overused plot device?  How can viewers remember what happened in Episode IV?  2 1/2* (This movie is so-so)

133 min, Action directed by Gareth Edwards with Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, Alan Tudyk, Donnie Yen, Wen Jiang, Ben Mendelsohn, Guy Henry, Forest Whitaker, Riz Ahmed, Mads Mikkelsen, Jimmy Smits, Alistari Petrie.

Note:  7.9 out of 10, 85% critic 87% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 3 ½*, Amazon 4.4* out of 5* with 1021 reviews, Metacritic 65 out of 100 with 51 critics 7.6 out of 10 with 2313 reviews.
Special Note:  Filmed in Buckinghamshire, Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire, London, England; Reynisfjara, Iceland; Gan, Laamu Atoll, Maldives; Wadi Rum, Jordan.  Costume designer David Crossman used some of the original costumes in earlier Star Wars films.  James Earl Jones returned to voice Darth Vader but to me his voice sounded different especially in the beginning scenes?