Saturday, July 25, 2015

What Happened, Miss Simone?

Singer, activist, pianist, mother, wife, Nina Simone wore a lot of hats. In the documentary What Happened, Miss Simone? we get a look into all of these aspects of her tumultuous life with the soundtrack of her enormous talent running through. An exquisite pianist whose voice matched, she found a career in music and struggled with her art and those around her. Her contributions to the civil rights movement are explored as well. An interesting artist and woman. Cool film.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Yellow Submarine

If I ever saw it all, I don't remember, yet so many images in Yellow Submarine are familiar to me. This is a psychedelic ride in animation. Colorful, creative and trippy. So much fun to watch. The Beatles join Captain Fred to free Pepperland from the Blue Meanies and restore music there. A fun ride, and you'll be singing along to the music.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

The Kid

When The Kid was recommended as essential viewing for kids under 13, I would recommend it for the 11-13 range. This silent film is a bit bleak and would benefit from discussion of poverty in the 20s and child abandonment. The brilliance of Charlie Chaplin's acting is the heart of this tale, and the complex story told with very few words is genius. The technical aspects of a dream scene are to be admired as well. A classic that I'm glad I finally watched.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Inifintely Polar Bear

Families can have a lot of challenges to overcome. In the film Infinitely Polar Bear the focus is money and manic depression. The family is separated by the Mom's drive for a better life and the Dad's illness. The kids end up being cared for by the manic Dad who won't take his meds and struggles to keep order in their day to day lives. He does not always succeed, but there is always the undercurrent of love. The kids are wonderful and Mark Ruffalo plays manic well. Production note: this one was filmed in RI!

Duck Soup

I really enjoyed A Night at the Opera, so when Duck Soup showed up on the EW 55 list I immediately rented it. Masters of slapstick and geniuses of the running gag, the Marx Brothers are such a delight to watch. A very funny story pokes fun at politics and privilege with some awesome production numbers. You can see the inspiration of a lot of modern comedy in this work. Very funny film.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

A Trip to the Moon

An important part of film history is the hand colored film A Trip to the Moon. A brilliant early film that is mesmerizing and technically ahead of its time. With a futuristic story and satyric tone, this is a cinematic jem. Happy to see it on Netflix Instant.

Trainwreck

I've never been wowed by Amy Schumer, but the writing in Trainwreck impressed me. The story of a young lady with a give-a-fuck attitude about adult life is both compelling and entertaining. The dialogue and performances outshine the story, especially the weak third act. There's a lot of heart though and I liked his film a lot more than I expected to. Neither the poster nor the trailer do this film justice. I'd like to see this one again. Well done.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Babe

Another movie recommended by EW for kids under 13, Babe is an interesting one. OK, I thought it was weird. The special effects are impressive, the story is simple and the ending is very satisfying. Once I got used to the talking animals, I enjoyed this film. A cute one to watch with the kids.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Amy

Musicians can have inner struggles that their fans don't always see. Amy Winehouse had to deal with her demons in front of the world. In the documentary Amy, we are taken back to her roots and watch her rapid rise and fall. Her talent was enormous, but so was her addiction. The performance clips capture the brilliance of her voice and her lyrics become a character on the screen showing her pain and depth. An appropriate tribute to a young talent gone too soon.