Sunday, December 31, 2006

Volver

Volver, translated, means "to return". And the characters in this film do just that. To tell too much plot would ruin a lot of the impact and humor that makes this film so charming. I will say that the plot is surprising, develops well and has many very poignant and funny moments. A refreshing film, that blends family themes with a thriller edge. Another gem from Almodovar.

Notes on a Scandal

In Notes on a Scandal, Cate Blanchette and Judi Densch deliver some of the most explosive performances I've seen in film this year. As two women who keep an awful secret, and deal with the consequences of exposure, we see the byproduct of loneliness and longing. A powerful film, with uncomfortable subjects.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Dreamgirls

Dreamgirls is a show business success story of struggle and ambition. A ruthless music promoter sucks the soul out of a 60's girl group and popular R&B singer, in the interest of popularity and money. Central are the emotional issues of loyalty, love and infidelity. This is a film full of wonderful musical performances. From Eddie Murphy, to Beyonce Knowles, to Jamie Foxx, to Keith Robinson, to the dynamic Jennifer Hudson. The best performances come from Jennifer Hudson, who had the audience cheering during the heartbreaking "And I'm Telling You I'm Not Going". I will say, Beyonce's shining moment is her rendition of "Listen". Well staged and beautifully shot, this is a wonderful film interpretation of this Broadway hit.

The Pursuit of Happyness

Will Smith takes a strong dramatic turn in The Pursuit of Happyness. No accent, no homeboy, no smart mouth, just pure drama. I fell in love with Smith as a dramatic actor in Six Degrees of Separation, this is a return to that form. He portrays Chris Gardner, a guy trying to make a living. He has a rough time in sales, but finds a talent as a broker with Dean Witter. He toughs out a six month, unpaid, internship while being soley responsible for his 5 year old son. It is a heart wrenching story, and Smith portrays the struggle well. His young son Jaden does a nice job as, yup, his son.

Friday, December 29, 2006

The Hurricane

When I started my Oscar project, one film that escaped me was The Hurricane. I didn't get the magic of Denzel Washington, so I didn't care much about missing the film. With the release of Rocky Balboa, lists of great boxing films have been popping up. The Hurricane is usually mentioned. As a result, I sat down with Denzel, and I finally get him as an actor. In this film he is powerful, understated and rocks the acting in the character of Rubin Carter. Good boxing sequences, but he is credible and intense in the prison scenes as well. A performance I really enjoyed.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Charlotte's Web

Charlotte's Web is my all-time favorite book. I read it many times as a child, and then again a few weeks ago. I was totally prepared to be disappointed by the film, and thankfully I was wrong. What a pleasure it was to see E.B. White's classic brought to the screen in live action. It was warm, funny and pretty. I was afraid the celebrity voices would be distracting, but they enriched the effect. The pace is perfect and the humor is smart, not cheesy. Bravo for this wonderful story of friendship and loyalty!

The Good Shepherd

The Good Shepherd is a historical drama depicting the origins of the CIA. The style is subtle and the story is told in several time periods. There is intelligence and counter intelligence, you never know who is telling the truth....they're all spies. The film is slow and about 30 minutes too long, but a quality drama.

Accepted

A young man doesn't get in to any of the colleges he applies to, so he creates his own. Accepted is a surprisingly good comedy that explores esteem, freedom, parental expectations and the realities of the world. It is funny and pretty clever. I was pleasantly surprised by this comedy.

Monday, December 18, 2006

The Best and the Worst of 2006 in DVD

I find it interesting that films I thought were the worst and the best this year, are released in DVD this week. Little Miss Sunshine and A Scanner Darkly are both on my Top 10 of 2006 list (coming mid-January). Little Miss Sunshine is at number one. I have been singing this film's praises since August. So much so, that I have been accused of being on the payroll at Fox Searchlight ... I wish! Invincible, another good football true story is out this week also.
The Lady in the Water and All the King's Men have got to be two of the most painful film experiences I have had this year.
An interesting collection of DVD releases this week.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

We Are Marshall

We Are Marshall is the true story of the loss of the Marshall University football team in a plane crash in 1970. We feel the heartache of a community that loses 75 beloved athletes, coaches and friends. Matthew McConaughey plays the coach that volunteers to bring the football program back to life. This is a good drama that pays respect to the memory of those lost, and celebrates the spirit of perseverance. I liked the portrayal of emotion that ranged from joy to horror to sadness to anger to determination to joy. It comes full circle. Nicely done, a good sports history film.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Rocky Balboa

As the theme from the original Rocky played, the words Rocky Balboa started to roll across the screen, and the audience went nuts!! I had forgotten how iconic the character has become. In Rocky Balboa, Sylvester Stalone plays the gentle, tough, well intended goof-ball the world fell in love with 30 years ago. In flash back, we revisit those early days, the early fights and the reason Rocky is a legend. Set in present day, Rocky now owns a successful restaurant called Adrian's, his son is trying to make his own way as a young adult and the current heavyweight champ is young and scrutinized. Rocky has something burning inside and feels the need to fight again. It's a good story and Stalone does a good job with interesting shots and creative editing. Yo, Rocky's back!!!

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Heroes, Hot Wheels and Haughty in DVD

Out in DVD today, is the Devil Wears Prada. A fashion magazine editor reigns her haughty power over assistants who actually achieve personal growth. Talledega Nights : The Ballad of Ricky Bobby is a funny spoof on NASCAR. On a more serious note, World Trade Center is a poignant look rescues at the World Trade Center on 9/11.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Apocalypto

Technically, Apocalypto is an excellent film. The visuals are stunning. It ended there for me. The story was just OK, the soulful stares bored me, the action was rehashed and the little bit of dialogue was ridiculous. This film was a huge disappointment for me. Gibson is a genius at marketing and he sure got me. Arrrggghhh!

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Dixie Chicks:Shut Up and Sing

In 2003, during a Dixie Chicks performance in London, Natalie Maines made a derogatory comment about George Bush. It changed the careers of those women forever. Shut Up and Sing is a documentary that follows the events in the 3 years since that fateful comment. The comment aroused accusations of communism, they were banned on radio, concert ticket sales suffered and death threats were launched. I think it shows just how volatile the political atmosphere in America has become. These women are strong, smart and stick to their guns. Right or wrong, this film looks at the right to free speech, and the backlash that can occur when it is exercised.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Blood Diamond

In Africa there is so much unrest. Blood Diamond depicts Sierra Leone in 1999. This area is rich in diamonds. There is a frightening rebel faction that rules the area with violence and terror, to maintain control of this industry. This is the story of an honest fisherman who values his family, and wants a better life for his children. His world is shattered when his village is stormed by rebels, his family taken to a refuge camp, and he is forced to work mining diamonds. He comes across a large, rare stone that he manages to hide. Though a variety of circumstances he comes in contact with a mercenary, who has the connections he needs to get back to the diamond's hiding place, and to then sell it. The man agrees to give up the stone, but his larger motivation is to find his family. This film is intense and violent. Leonardo DiCaprio and Djimon Hounsou are great. ** More information here on how to avoid purchasing conflict diamonds.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Here Come the Film Awards

With the announcement of the National Board of Review of Motion Pictures' annual awards, the film award season begins! I don't think awards are the ultimate goal, but they are a good review of the year in film. I work on my Oscar Project all year, so I get a little nervous this time of year, worried that I've missed something. It's been a good year in film, so stay tuned. Oh, and George, still here, and I like limoncello!

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Tough Guys in DVD

There are a variety of tough guys out in DVD today. The ultimate is Pirates of the Caribbean:Dead Man's Chest. Jack Sparrow and Davy Jones square off, and the lovely Elizabeth will not take a back seat. Jolly good fun!! A movie version of Miami Vice brings Crockett and Tubbs to the big screen. A gentler form of tough guy is found in The Architect . I saw this film at the Tribeca Film Festival, earlier this year. The architect of a public housing project must defend his design to the residents .... or make it right.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Joyeux Noel (Merry Christmas)

In keeping with my Christmas-themed movies, today I saw the French film Joyeux Noel (Merry Christmas). This story takes place in 1914, at the beginning of World War I. There was a cease fire on Christmas Eve that brought out the human being in the Scots, French and Germans who had been killing each other the day before. The scene that touched me the most was when the song Silent Night united the men. The fighting was undermined by that night, but souls survived. This film has such a gentle heart, yet acknowledges the ugly side of war. Well worth seeing!

Saturday, December 02, 2006

The Nativity Story

The Nativity Story follows the gospel stories depicting the time from when Mary becomes pregnant with Jesus, to his birth. The achievment in this film is portraying the emotion of the events. We feel Mary's shame, fear and faith. We feel the shame and confusion of Mary's parents. We feel the hate and greed of Herod. We feel the awe and peace of the shepherds in the countryside. And we feel the love, strength and devotion of Joseph. The portryal of Joseph is the real strenth of this film. I saw one of the most romantic scenes in film between Mary and Joseph. *sigh* The themes of love and faith are strong in this film. An authentic, basic telling of an age old story. Loved those wise men!

Deck the Halls

After he was interrupted in his description of Deck The Halls, on The View this week, I was compelled to see what Danny Devito was talking about. I thought this was an enjoyable family comedy. I always find Devito charming and funny. The story is basically a war of two neighbors for their version of the ideal Christmas. Their wives love and tolerate them, but take a stand when things go too far. The basic theme is community and family. Thank you George Clooney for taking Danny out on the town, so he would get a little extra attention for this film. I enjoyed it!

Sorry, Haters

Sorry, Haters is the story of a disturbed woman, who has focused her unhappiness on an old friend. She involves a young Muslim cab driver, in her desperation to deal with her jealousies, under the guise of helping him with an immigration problem. They embody the tone of a post 9/11 New York City. Robin Wright Penn is engrossing, as her deranged character plods forward to no good end. Abdel Kechiche and Sandra Oh are outstanding in this psychological drama. An emotional ride.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

John Tucker Must Die

For a high school teen flick John Tucker Must Die is not bad. The story is basic, girls seeking revenge on boys. Though the boy is not as easy to manipulate as they would like. A decent, light comedy.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Superman, Supergeeks and Superbugs in DVD

Superman Returns was a big hit this summer, and is now on DVD! The man of steel is back and better than ever. The visuals are great! Another visual treat is The Ant Bully. A young man is shrunk to ant size and all priorities change. Also out in DVD this week is Clerks II, a laugh out loud sequel, Kevin Smith is raunchy and racy as ever!

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Bobby

The film Bobby is a romantic look at a night that went from jubilant to horrific with a gunshot. The target was Bobby Kennedy, the year 1968. Many side stories show the lives and dreams of people that formed the US in the late 60's. The country was at war in Vietnam, and in a lot of ways, here at home. In this film, the depictions of drug use, celebrity worship, immigration, racism, feminism and war, all give the tone of the times. The celebrity parade is a little distracting, but the performances are outstanding. This is an interesting piece, though the editing could have been tighter, the film was about 15 minutes too long. Another historical depiction where people stayed in their seats during the credits to watch the accompanying photo montage.

Happy Feet

I usually like animated film, I usually like dance, I usually like penguins, why could I not like Happy Feet?!!? I feel bad. A little penguin finds he does not have a voice to find his "heart song", (which is implied, is essential to mating), but he can tap dance! Huh?!? On top of that, he searches for the "aliens" (humans), who are depleting the fish supply. The animation was fine, but the story and inuendo did not do it for me. I can even go with a conservationist theme, but the theater was full of screaming kids! That's who comes to see animated film, a lot of studios seem to forget this lately, this film is almost 2 hours long. Seemed the older kids (5-10) were happy with the animation, music and dancing, but the little ones (2-4, who were many) were literally screaming to leave (several did)! I can appreciate all the talent attached to this film, I just wish it were more fun and to the point.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

The Fountain

Not only is The Fountain a beautiful film, it also has emotional depth. Hugh Jackman gives a performance that touches the heart. This film challenges us to see what a visual of the emotional psyche might look like. I think this was a study of grief and love. A very brave film.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Casino Royale

Daniel Craig is very effective as the latest actor to play Ian Flemming's James Bond, in Casino Royale. This prequal, establishes the story behind his attaining 00 status. Terrorist financing is the target of Bond's first mission. The enemy needs to be thwarted, and the vehicle is high stakes poker at Casino Royale. The story is easy to follow, a straightforward script works well. The chase scenes are thrilling, people in the theater gasped more than once! Bond even becomes vulnerable at one point, only to come back more badass than ever when he is double-crossed.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

For Your Consideration

In the summer of 2005, I was promoted to celebrity driver at the Newport Film Festival. My assignment was to drive Christopher Guest and Harry Shearer to all of their commitments. Being a big fan of both men, I was thrilled! They were charming, polite and funny and I was in heaven in the presence of these talented gentlemen. In the course of the day, they discussed a film they were going to make in the fall. That film was For Your Consideration. I saw this film Saturday and loved it. Now remember, I'm very biased. The subject of the film is Hollywood and film making, and I have met 3 of the principles in the cast, the writer and the director. For me, there were many inside jokes that made me laugh. The film is a fun, silly romp through the nonsense that is Hollywood. Specifically, the emotional roller coaster of award buzz and actual results. No aspect of the industry is safe from the satire that has become an art form for these film makers. Guest has assembled a veteran cast from his past films, with some wonderful additions. A fun film for the holiday season!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Sloths, Sleuths and Slobs in DVD

All kinds of films in DVD this week! Ice Age:The Meltdown is the latest road trip adventure of prehistoric friends. Scoop has Scarlett Johansson playing straight man to Woody Allen, and pretty well too. You, Me and Dupree could have been so much more, a lame comedy that was OK. An Inconvenient Truth is a documentary from Al Gore about global warming.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Music, marriage and mystery in DVD

Out in DVD this week, we have The Groomsmen. I saw this film at the Tribeca Film Festival. In the latest from Edward Burns, we peek into the male psyche, days before his wedding. A macho look at relationships and love.

Leonard Cohen:I'm Your Man is a great documentary about the poetry of the man, and his life's work.

DVD could be the best way to watch The Da Vinci Code. Long and drawn out, the fast forward button will be your best friend!

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Hard Candy

Hard Candy is an intense thriller that takes on a difficult subject. A young girl engages an older man on line, they meet. The pedophile goes from predator to victim at the hands of a 14 year old. Ellen Paige and Patrick Wilson are outstanding in this very graphic psychological thriller.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Flags of Our Fathers

Although Flags of Our Fathers was released 3 weeks ago, I have not had a chance to see it. It seems appropriate, that the day I could get to the theater for this film is Veteran's Day. Told in flashback form, this is the story of the men who fought at Iwo Jima in WW II, and were immortalized in a photo that inspired a nation. The film is gritty, realistic, heartfelt and political. An interesting thing happened at the end of the film. Not only did the audience applaud, but everyone stayed to watch the photo montage of the actual soldiers that ran through the credits. Even people who had started to leave the theater, stopped when they realized what we were watching. It was a moving experience for me.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Stranger Than Fiction

A week ago I was invited, by my sister-in law J, to see Stranger Than Fiction. With my niece H and her friend K, we joined a packed theater for a wonderful film.

Will Ferrell plays Harold Crick, who starts hearing a voice that is narrating his life. Turns out, he is hearing a writer as she is working on her latest novel. Problem is, she alwayd kills off the main character. The fantasy takes over and we are carried into Harold's quest for survival. This is a smart film with interesting characters and a witty script. We all enjoyed the film, and I hope people will give Ferrell's second shot at a serious dramatic role a look. I really enjoyed this film.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Cars and Words in DVD

Out in DVD this week.....

The documentary Wordplay is an exciting ... yes, I said exciting ..... look at the New York Times crossword puzzle. There are celebrities, strategies and a competition. A wonderful film.

Cars is the latest animated film from Pixar. A cute ride (hehe) with an ambitious race car, who is humbled and learns a lesson. Lots of cute parallels with the real world through the cars. The tractors are my favorite.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Running With Scissors

Running With Scissors is based on the memoir of Augusten Burroughs. His mother suffered from mental illness, his father was an alcoholic. His mother left him in the care of her therapist, whose family had it's own struggles. Though the circumstances seem desperate, there is joy and optimism from Augusten. The sound track keeps us in the time period and the mood. This is a compelling story with colorful characters.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Babel

Four parallel stories come together in Babel. Each bad decision is made with the best of intentions, and the worst results. A woman is shot on vacation in Morocco and the incident is connected to families in Mexico and Japan as well. This story is multi-layered and the acting is superb. I thought about this film for a long time after I saw it.

Borat

Borat is laugh-for-84-minutes funny. Borat is a fictional TV reporter, from Kazakhstan, who comes the US and A to report on American culture. All of the people he meets believe he is the character. He starts out seeming innocent and naive, and then becomes totally inappropriate. This style is the brilliance of the comedy of Sasha Baron Cohen. Racist, sexist, anti-Semitic, some stuff just plain gross. We laugh when we know we shouldn't. Directed by Larry Charles (Curb your Enthusiasm), this film is well made, and a very creative comedy!

Friday, November 03, 2006

Why I Like High School Musical

The Disney offering of High School Musical is a solid film. It offers the classic story of teenagers striving to find themselves, despite peer pressure. It combines hi-tech (cell phones an laptops are characters) with lo-tech (notes in the locker). Catchy tunes and great dance numbers bring the musical home. The love story is a bit sappy, but aren't they all ....? A wholesome story with heart, that was fun to watch!

Monday, October 30, 2006

M:I:III and Mazel tov on DVD

Yes, Ethan Hunt is back for the third Mission Impossible installment. Tom Cruise teams up with J.J. Abrams for the latest mission that is action packed, and is a pretty good story.

Speaking of good stories, we also have Keeping Up With the Steins. A young man anticipates his bar mitzvah with a family that is not quite together. The family dynamics make this an interesting film.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

The Last King of Scotland

I've seen a lot of films based on historical characters and events lately. The Last King of Scotland is one of the best this year. The story is based on a novel, told from the point of view of the personal physician of Idi Amin. Amin starts out as engaging, and even likeable, then is revealed as a monster. An intense film with amazing acting, brilliant editing, cool music and graphic insight to the political climate in Uganda in the 70's.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

The Queen

The Queen is one of the best films I've seen this year. Stephen Frears takes a bold look at the days following the death of Princess Diana. It is a portrayal of the decisions and motivations of Queen Elizabeth during that week. It shows a very personal and human side to the Queen and her early relationship with Prime Minister Tony Blair. Helen Mirren gives a wonderful performance as the Queen. The politics of the monarchy and Britain are interesting.

Looking for Kitty

At the Tribeca Film Festival in 2005, I saw a hansom young man talking to media on the red carpet. It was Edward Burns, on his way to a screening of his film Looking for Kitty. Available in DVD, I enjoyed this film today. The story of a man who hires a private investigator to find his wife in New York City, is poignant and well made. Burns does a nice job with this film.

Catch a Fire

The political thriller, Catch a Fire, takes place in Apartheid-run South Africa in the 1980's. A man is unjustly arrested and accused of being a terrorist. His actions after this become the story. Based on a true story, this film raised my awareness to this disturbing time in history.

Friday, October 27, 2006

So, I Have These Friends .......

I love talking to people about movies. It is so fun to ask people what movies they've seen, what they like, what they're guilty pleasures are, etc..... My friends S and D came to visit. They are very knowledgeable on film, and we always have great conversations about what we've seen, and always end up offering each other recommendations of what to see. In this visit I added Dr. Zhivago and Iron Will to my DVD queue. And I let them borrow my copy of the lovely film Pieces of April. Good films to look forward to!

Monday, October 23, 2006

Monster House in DVD for Halloween

Just in time for Halloween, the animated feature, Monster House, is out in DVD this week. I thought some of the scenes were pretty intense, but the kids I saw the film with were braver than me! One of the best films of the summer.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Marie Antoinette

The film Marie Antoinette is a visual treat. Between the clothes, the food and the scenery, we are barraged with beautiful scenes frame after frame. This makes up for all the areas of not much. Plot? not much. Dialogue? not much. Sofia Coppola is masterful at conveying mood and emotion through visual images. In this period of French history, she helps us feel the boredom and frustration of the young, royal, idol rich. Kirsten Dunst is effervescent in her portrayal of the young queen. An interesting view of this part of French history.

Feast

Project Greenlight, a program for wannabe filmmakers, has produced a horror film as it's latest piece. The film Feast is a crazy night at a bar in the middle of nowhere that is under attack by a horrible monster that wants revenge for the accidental death of it's offspring. People are disemboweled, limbs fly and folks are swallowed whole. It is a bloody battle. There is a lot of screaming, swearing, gore and humor. Yes, humor. This is a clever horror film that is not for the weak of stomach.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

The Prestige

Revenge and deceit are the centerpieces of The Prestige. Two rival magicians, in turn of the century London, are out to destroy each other. They are trying to learn each other's secrets to have the ultimate illusion. This film is well cast, well acted, beautifully filmed and edited. The story itself weakens in the final act, when the secrets are unveiled. The reveal was disappointing for me, and the actual explanation is confusing. Worth seeing, but not as satisfying as I'd like.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

La Chiva - Vote for this Film

Parents can be the best cheerleaders for artists. I have seen many directors and actors supported and cheered on by their parents. I received an e-mail from the mother of a local girl, who is in a short film, that is in competition to be screened at Sundance 2007. The movie is called "La Chiva" it is a short film (5 mins) that Mercury/Ford is sponsoring with NALIP (National Association of Latino Independent Producers). You can go to www.mercuryfilm.com to vote for this film. The winners will be screened at The Sundance Film Festival in January. It's easy to register, log on and help this young actress realize her dream of going to Sundance with this wonderful little film. Thanks!

Monday, October 16, 2006

Critters, Couples and Dreamz in DVD

Out in DVD this week are a few films from this summer. The Breakup is an interesting relationship drama. Over the Hedge is a cute animated film about a crew of animals, that show us the nonsense of the human world, with laughs for young and old. American Dreamz is a satire of the pop music industry, with a little terrorist activity on the side.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Encore for Little Miss Sunshine

I saw Little Miss Sunshine back on August 9th, and declared it my favorite movie of the summer. Since then, I have taken a fair amount of ribbing from my favorite morning radio team at 92 ProFM on Friday Flick Picks. Teased about my enthusiasm over this film, I felt the need to revisit the film, and see if I still felt the same. This afternoon, I sat in a theater with people who laughed and cheered for young Olive and her family. This film is a winner on so many levels, people still applaud as the credits roll!

Man of the Year

In Man of the Year, Robin Williams' character, Tom Dobbs, is likeable as a candidate for president. As in the film Dave, we get the mental fantasy of a down to earth, practical person running this country. The first half of this film works, the second half is boring. The story is fine, things go wrong, things get screwy, it's actually interesting. The film gets way to dragged out, I just wanted them to get to the point. Another example of a film that could have been very entertaining, but gets in it's own way.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Infamous

As I have written before, I loved the book In Cold Blood. The film Infamous chronicles the years Truman Capote spent writing it. Sound familiar? It should. This was also the subject of the film Capote, released last year. The films are similar, in that they capture the events, people and period very well. Where they vary is emotion. Infamous gets inside the head and heart of Capote more, and, in some ways, is not very flattering. An all-star cast puts in solid performances, especially Toby Jones as Capote. Sandra Bullock gives a wonderful performance as Capote's dear friend, Nelle Harper Lee, and Jeff Daniels wins me over once again, as Alvin Dewey. Daniel Craig flexes his acting chops (and a few other muscles) as the murderer Perry Smith. An emotionally intense film I enjoyed.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Radio and TV on DVD

Next to film, live radio is one of my favorite forms of entertainment. A Prairie Home Companion is a great look at the last night of a live radio program. An amazing cast powers this story with humor and love. A TV remote becomes a character in the film Click. It powers the plot, and controls the characters' destiny. This is not a light comedy,it reveals dire consequences of careless desire. Both of these are solid rentals.

Monday, October 09, 2006

The Science of Sleep

The Science of Sleep makes so much sense to me. The latest offering from Michel Gondry is creative and innovative. I have very vivid dreams, I sometimes wish I could record them for others to see. This film fulfils that wish in the character of Stephan. He bounces back and forth from dreams to reality. This film can be confusing until you give in to Stephan's world. In dreams it moves toward whimsy, in reality he struggles. This film was a wonderful experience for me.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

The Departed

Martin Scorsese has created a masterpiece in The Departed. Fast-paced, gritty, twisting, this story takes us into the mob, and the police that are trying to bring them down. But there are moles, rats and liars at every turn. The chase is intense and the end startling. The performances are top notch, the dialogue sometimes funny. Nicholson, DiCaprio, Damen, Wahlberg, Farmiga, Sheen and Baldwin deliver rock solid performances. Though violent, the editing, music and script bring this film together as a work of art.

Classic Films Bring Comfort

I was away this weekend, traveled to Maine for a college parent's weekend. My friend S and I stayed in a hotel with cable TV. Classic films were prominent whenever we turned on the TV. When I arrived, A Few Good Men was on. The acting and script are amazing. Forgot what a good movie that is. The next day, Rain Man came on and I was once again reminded of a film with a great script and wonderful acting. Walk the Line kept us company as we enjoyed our morning coffee. Before we left, The Legend of Bagger Vance came on, love Matt Damen and Will Smith in that one. Fun to have a few great classic on TV in the background when you travel, kind of like comfort food!!

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Action and Spin on DVD

I have seen two of the films out in DVD this week. X-Men:The Last Stand is a good action finale (yeah right) to this series. Thank You For Smoking is a smart satire of how we communicate. The product is cigarettes, but the theme is presentation.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Fred Rogers:America's Favorite Neighbor

The documentary Fred Rogers:America's Favorite Neighbor, is an interesting history of the man. In my early years of babysitting, MisterRogers Neighborhood came to PBS in this area. I took great comfort in this gentle man's simple message of self-worth. To hear "you are special" every day, was powerful. I got as much out of his message as my small charges. Years later, I watched his show with my own children. With this film, a dear friend came back into my home. Especially impressive were the segments where he charmed both Joan Rivers and John Pastore (Senator from RI) with his demeanor, sensibility and sense of humor.

I know of two young men that are working on a film right now, called Mister Rogers & Me. This will be another documentary I hope to enjoy, embodying Fred Rogers' philosophy of "deep and simple" to people and the world.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

The Lake House in DVD

I like a good romance on film. The Lake House is the story of a couple who exchange messages through a magic mailbox, that instantly transports messages over the years (better than e-mail). A bit far fetched, but I gave in to it and enjoyed this film.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Flyboys

In my younger days I worked for a local airshow, and have often been accused of having a soft-spot for Flyboys. After seeing the latest Tony Bill film, reenacting the adventures of the Lafayette Escadrille, a squadron of Americans helping the French hold off the Germans in World War I, I can comfortably say "guilty". Biplane and jet aerobatics come from the dogfight maneuvers developed in the early 1900's. Snap-rolls, hammer heads and rapid climb and descent were all a product of the very rudimentary elements of air combat. Though all the dogfight scenes in Flyboys are CGI, they are impressive to watch, and had me on the edge of my seat. When they went after the zepplin in one of the final battles, I thought, something's gonna blow, and I was right! Though a little long, this is a good war film that has a very real feel, develops the characters well and throws in a love story. I enjoyed this look at some of my favorite heroes.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

School for Scoundrels

School for Scoundrels is a film about overcoming the loser syndrome. This is John Heder's film. Some very funny dialogue and a cameo appearance (I will not reveal who it is here) that surprises and delights. A decent comedy.

All the King's Men

All the King's Men is another film made this year that should have worked, and doesn't. An all star cast does their job, but the film is a mess. The best scenes are the subtle ones, when the film tries to be dramatic it falls flat. Performances are strong (Penn tends to overact) but none of it gels. An unfortunate film.

The Devil and Daniel Johnston

Daniel Johnston is a songwriter and artist. In the documentary The Devil and Daniel Johnston we see the story of this man's art in song and drawings. A manic depressive who has been in and out of mental hospitals, he has been a very productive song writer and artist. This film chronicles his life, the genius of his art and gets to the love and devotion of his family, friends and fans.

Loverboy

Kyra Sedgwick plays Emily,an overprotective mother, in Loverboy. Her character aggressively pursues having a child, and loves, nurtures and protects him for six years. When the boy wants to interact with the rest of the world, Emily can't deal. Well written and acted, the flashback style explains Emily's motivation in the events of her childhood.

The Wild

The Wild is an animated film about the rescue of a lion cub by his father. The animals have to leave the safety of the zoo to find the cub in "the wild". A lot of familiar themes, the animation style is cool looking.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Quinceanera

The Quinceanera is a coming of age party for 15 year old girls of Mexican heritage. This is the story of Magdalena who, weeks before her Quinceanera, discovers she's pregnant. Her family is disgraced, and she goes to live with her 84 year old great, great Uncle and outcast cousin. The relationships and situations are very real, and are treated with respect and love. This film is worthy of all the praise it has received since it's stellar opening at Sundance in January. This film was also screened at the Newport Film Festival this summer, and I met the very engaging, polite and hansom Jesse Garcia, who played Magdalena's cousin,Carlos. Keep an eye on this talented young actor.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Black Dahlia

I wish I could say that I liked Black Dahlia .... I really wanted to. A wonderful cast and an interesting Hollywood who dunnit, this should have been a no brainer. Aside from beautiful cinematography, and one scene that was so ridiculous it entertained me, I was flat out bored. A shame.

Hollywoodland

The outstanding element of the film Hollywoodland is the acting. Ben Affleck, Adrien Brody and Diane Lane give such solid performances. As a detective, Brody presents three possible scenarios that lead to the shooting death of George Reeves, the original TV Superman. Lane and Affleck are a Hollywood couple that use each other. Affleck has such a strong screen presence, and plays Reeves' personality beautifully. Lane plays Toni Mannix (MGM Studio boss' wife) as charming, vulnerable and gorgeous. Brody's story becomes tedious, and ends on a limp note, but the performances hold up.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Evening in RI

The latest in a growing list of films being made in the lovely little state of Rhode Island, is the film Evening. I have read that the cast is amazing, Toni Collette, Vanessa Redgrave, Natasha Richardson, Meryl Streep, Mamie Gummer, Claire Danes and Patrick Wilson. I have had the pleasure of meeting the casting director for this film, Kerry Barden and both Ms. Streep and Gummer (mother and daughter). Gonna keep my eyes open when I'm out and about, you never know when that brush with celebrity could happen again!

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Slevin on DVD

Lucky Number Slevin is out in DVD today. This film is a twisting turning who dunnit, punctuated with violence and deceit.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Half Nelson

A young teacher with a crack habit befriends a young girl in Half Nelson. Their relationship is the core of the film, and it is portrayed beautifully. Ryan Gosling and Shareeka Epps give heartfelt performances. I think this is an exploration of what relationships are made of. Well done and worth seeing.

Monday, September 04, 2006

In DVD This Week

The two films I've seen being released to DVD are VERY different.

Kinky Boots is a classic success story based on real events. Uplifting and entertaining.

United 93 is the story of the ill-fated flight that crashed in a field in Pennsylvania on September 11, 2001, after being hijacked by terrorists.

Both films are worth seeing.

Land of the Blind

We don't know what country it is, we don't know when this story takes place, but in Land of the Blind , corruption of power is the core theme. Ralph Finnes and Donald Sutherland give outstanding performances as two men who start out as allies, and end up enemies. A good political thriller, some vulgar elements give this film a gritty undertone.

Leonard Cohen:I'm Your Man

The haunting poetry and melodies of songwriter Leonard Cohen, are the subject of the documentary, Leonard Cohen:I'm Your Man. He tells stories from his life and gives insight to his songwriting process. I found the performances mesmerizing, and the man endearing.

Crank

In Crank, a hit man is injected with a synthetic poison that will kill him if his heart rate drops too low. He races around in a manic frenzy, trying to keep his adrenaline up until he can find an antidote. The visuals and film style give you his perspective. It is a crazy ride with an unexpected ending.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Invincible

I love listening to people's reactions after a movie. When the credits started to roll at Invincible, the story of Philadelphia Eagle's Vince Papale in the mid 70s, a young boy behind me said, "it's over?". The ultimate compliment. He went on to tell his Mother that he wanted to see more. Another family was behind me walking out, and the father was explaining the special teams dynamic to his young son, who had a game the next day. The latest of Disney's underdog-succeeds-defying-enormous-odds films, this time the sport is football, is well done. I liked how they depicted the overwhelming scope of professional sports to the average guy. The game scenes are well filmed and very intense. Mark Wahlberg and Greg Kinear give solid performances.

Sketches of Frank Gehry

The documentary, Sketches of Frank Gehry, is an interesting look at the work of this contemporary architect. The beauty of his work is explored through its origins and inspiration. Gehry's process is a good study of teamwork. Beautifully shot and directed by Sidney Pollack. A personal film.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

DVD Releases on my Birthday

On the occasion of my 50th birthday, there are several excellent films out in DVD! Click the titles to see what I thought when I saw them.

Akeelah and the Bee is the story of a young girl and her journey to the National Spelling Bee. Friends With Money is a character driven view of relationships. Take the Lead brings ballroom dancing to an inner city high school detention. All of these films are well worth seeing, enjoy!

Sunday, August 20, 2006

The Illusionist

True to it's title, The Illusionst is a story where nothing is as it appears. The reveal is the best scene in the film. Edward Norton, Paul Giamatti and Jessica Biel lead us on a story of intrigue and love, with a splash of politics (just enough to provide motivation) in the early 1900's in Vienna. Norton is the illusionist, and Giamatti is the investigator, in this excellent cat and mouse story. The acting, cinematography and editing are outstanding. I saw this in a sold out theater, and the audience applauded at the end! Well deserved.

Marx Brothers Rock !

I had never sat through a whole Marx Brother's film. A Night at the Opera is one very funny movie. The DVD version has a piece under Special Features that tells background stories of the boy's nicknames, their break into feature films from vaudeville, their training (yes, Harpo actually was a talented harpist)and much more. Such fun to watch!

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Snakes on a Plane

Action? Thriller? Horror? Comedy? I don't know which genre Snakes on a Plane belongs in, but I'm comfy saying "all of the above"! From the campy dialogue to the crazy places people get bit, this movie has a lot of funny moments. It also made me jump more than once, and what's creepier than snakes!?!? All I know is I enjoyed this movie, I think it lives up to the hype. Good for New Line for releasing it to the fans before the critics. This movie is a crowd pleaser!

Thursday, August 10, 2006

World Trade Center

On the morning of August 30, 2001, I enjoyed an iced cafe mocha in the plaza of the World Trade Center. I marveled at the sparkling buildings, the people hustling to work, the street vendors setting up for the day and the energy of the city in this gorgeous setting. The place was vital and alive. 12 days later, all that changed. My first reaction was disbelief. In the early scenes of the film World Trade Center, this is the core reaction of most people. When the towers came down, all I could think of was what was happening to all the people I knew were in those buildings and the surrounding area. I also had friends and family in lower Manhattan that day. Though I was 200 miles away, the impact was personal and frightening.

The film World Trade Center captures the fear and confusion of those hours from the perspective of those in the midst of the rubble, as well as those on the outside watching helplessly. The scenes of the trapped Port Authority policemen are claustrophobic and tense, the rescue scenes bring the lift we need. Is it too soon? Who knows if it will ever be a good time for films about 9/11. It was traumatic, and on many levels some people may never be ready for films like this.

This was an emotional film to watch, but I was grateful for the happy ending to this story of rescue and reunion.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Little Miss Sunshine

In Little Miss Sunshine we see love, dreams, loss and courage. Olive's family drives her 900 miles to compete in the Little Miss Sunshine beauty pageant. The trip is not exactly smooth, but they persevere, keeping an eye on the prize. The performances are excellent, this is a very strong cast. The story is engaging, poignant and oh so funny! For me, this is the "must see" movie of the summer.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Inside Man on DVD

Inside Man is an intricate heist film. An outstanding cast and creative editing makes this a strong rental.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Ant Bully

The animated film Ant Bully is a classic reform story in miniature. A young boy, who likes to pick on the ant colony in his yard, is brought down to ant size, and is taught a lesson. Simple and cool to look at, this is a satisfying summer offering.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Talladega Nights:The Ballad of Ricky Bobby

Talladega Nights:The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, is a satire of NASCAR, and is just plain silly funny. The duh factor entertains in so many ways. I love the roar of the engines and the speed that is NASCAR, but there is so much to poke fun at. From product placement, to the statement "Ricky, you're not a thinker, you're a driver!", there is full range of humor that always comes back to farce. A guilty pleasure of politically incorrect and great improv humor. Will Ferrell is at the top of his game, with the help of a stellar supporting cast (Molly Shannon is comic genius). Well done!

The Night Listener

The story of a broken hearted man falling for the ruse of a woman is the basis for The Night Listener. To say too much will ruin the story, the real suspense comes from Gabriel not knowing if he can believe what he hears, and even what he sees. Based on true events, this is an OK thriller. Performances are excellent.

North by Northwest

On a list of the 50 Films to See Before You Die I was pleased that I had seen 32. I like lists that give my movie viewing direction. I dutifully put the 18 remaining films on my rental list. Many of them are pretty old or foreign.

I rented Alfred Hitchcock's North by Northwest first in my new quest. The spy thriller stars Cary Grant and Eva Marie Saint and is a real gem! As Hitchcock says in the ads "I promise you nothing more than entertainment...." The story traverses the US in an intricate chase that ends up at Mt. Rushmore. Hitchcock's style of irony, twists and amazing location shots earns it a deserved spot on this "must see" list.

Monday, July 31, 2006

V for Vendetta out in DVD

V for Vendetta is out in DVD today. Graphic violence for past injustices, punctuate the actions of V. This is a film that makes a social statement.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Scoop

Scoop is a nice tight Woody Allen comedy. There's a bit of a mystery, and plenty of funny lines, most coming from Allen. Add the eye candy and consistent delivery from Scarlet Johanssen and Hugh Jackman, and we have a nice summer comedy!

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Miami Vice

More than one review I read about Michael Mann's latest feature film, Miami Vice, used the word sexy. I thought, how sexy can it be? Let me count the ways:
1. the sound of a Ferrari engine
2. shower scenes
3. Jamie Foxx
4. Colin Farrell salsa dancing .... yes, really dancing *sigh*
5. the strong silent look of a brooding man (many of them)

The story is no nonsense and moves right along, there is a lot of violence. The look of the film is dark, gritty and intense. Just about every shot is a study in angle, composition and lighting. I like this new look for a contemporary Crockett and Tubbs.

Casanova

In Casanova, Heath Ledger uses his natural charisma to make you believe that he is a man that every woman he meets, wants to sleep with. Though not a groundbreaking film, this one is a satisfying rental. I liked it's sense of humor, casting and resolution. A light period film that I enjoyed.

Friday, July 28, 2006

The Great New Wonderful

Five stories of five lives, that touch only briefly, make an interesting film. Taking place in September of 2002 in NYC, we watch these people deal with their everyday lives. Poignant and thought provoking, I liked this film.

Ask the Dust

The story of a struggling writer and a young woman looking for security, is a good love story. Colin Farrell and Salma Hayek make an interesting couple. There is more than a little chemistry between these two, who meet in Depression era LA. I liked the subtleties of this story, where the characters work for what they get, and take their lumps as they come. Idina Menzel, Donald Sutherland and Justin Kirk round out the supporting cast well. Satisfying drama.

Bryant Park Film Festival

In the summer, in New York's Bryant Park, they show films once a week, in the great outdoors. I had seen the setup for several years. A huge screen looms at the end of the lawn by day, by night the park becomes a movie theater, admission is free. You can bring a blanket and sit on the lawn. But this is New York City, so there are rules. The lawn is roped off in the afternoon, and people gather around the lawn. At 5:00 PM the rope is dropped, and people charge out on to the lawn with their blankets and picnic baskets, to claim a patch of grass. I was in Bryant Park on Monday afternoon, and witnessed this grand exodus, it was quite a sight!!

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Tsotsi

Outside Johannesburg, a hoodlum steals a car, shoots it's owner and finds an infant in the back seat upon his escape. The events and the evolution of Tsotsi makes a good story for this Academy Award winning (Best Foreign Feature) film. Beautifully filmed and soulfully acted, this is a foreign film worth seeing.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Clerks II

I wish I had been at the world premiere of Clerks II at the Cannes Film Festival, because I would have been standing along with the crowd that gave Kevin Smith an eight minute standing ovation! Clerks II picks up 10 years after Clerks, and the new job is at the fast food joint, Mooby's. The alumni cast is in place. For me, Randal is the star! Jennifer Schwalbach, Trevor Fehrman, Jason Lee and Rosario Dawson add wonderful dimension to the latest in Smith's brand of depraved, irreverent, brilliant humor. I was fortunate enough to see this film with an audience of fans that laughed loud and long, it was so much fun!!

The Laramie Project

I know I'm a little late to the party on this one, but in a discussion with my friend S about Brokeback Mountain, she said "you really should see The Laramie Project". What a wonderful film. Violence against gays is often justified. This film shows how this was not allowed in the case of the senseless beating death of Matthew Shepard in 1998. I'm glad to have seen this dramatic reenactment of the events and the people affected by this awful hate crime. A film well worth seeing.

My Super Ex-Girlfriend

My Super Ex-Girlfriend is every man's nightmare. The girl you break up with has super-powers, and knows how to use them. Umma Thurman is great as the neurotic G Girl and Josh Lucas is the clueless boyfriend that takes bad relationship advice from his best friend, played by Rainn Wilson. Eddie Izzard and Anna Faris play the romantic foils well. They all end up following their hearts. A cute summer film that will be a great rental.

The Lady In the Water

The film interpretation of a bedtime story,The Lady in The Water, is slow and frustrating. Putting this kind of fantasy, in a modern setting, with men in plastic monkey suits, appears to have been a mistake. I will say, the acting was excellent, this is a very talented cast. For me there was no suspense, nothing scary, no story. Not my cup of tea.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Monster House

Animation is one of my favorite film forms. From hand drawn, to computer generated, to stop action, I love the visual imagery. Monster House is done in motion capture animation, which we last saw in the Polar Express. Halloween is the setting for a group of kids dealing with the house across the street, that eats anyone that gets within its reach. The story was great, the characters entertaining and the visuals stunning!!! A very small person was asked, on the way out of the screening, "was it scary?". She said "Nahhhh", just as I was about to say "well yuhhhh". Does that make me a wimp?!?!!? Great film for brave 4 year olds and wide-eyed 50 year olds!!!

Sunday, July 16, 2006

You, Me and Dupree

I try to maintain the adage "if you can't say anything nice......" In You, Me and Dupree I can say that Kate Hudson and Matt Dillon look great, and try really hard to make this story work. I also got to spend time in the comfort of air conditioning on a 93 degree summer day. Nuff said. I think this movie just isn't my taste. I often don't get Owen Wilson's style. The story had potential, but just became annoying for me. The box office success may have been folks hopeful for a repeat of Wedding Crashers, but that never happened.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

A Scanner Darkly

The more I think about the film A Scanner Darkly, the more I find to like about it. The rotoscope animation is fascinating to watch, and I realize how tuned in to body language I am. The script is amazing, sometimes very funny and in the end very sobering. A futuristic slant on drug abuse, coupled with law enforcement tactics, linked with the consequences of addiction. *whew* The casting works, and the acting is spot on. Kudos to Linklater for having the vision to present this story in this form, it forces us to think on a creative and ethical level. This film is a cinematic and intellectual experience I really enjoyed. Well done in many ways.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Wordplay

Wordplay is a documentary about crossword puzzles .... yes, crossword puzzles, specifically, The New York Times crossword puzzle. The beauty of this film is not so much the subject, but the people. Puzzlers are passionate, and that is well represented in this film. Explanations of how a crossword puzzle is built, celebrities that do the puzzle and a tournament that has been held since 1978, make a subject that sounds mundane, pretty darn interesting and often funny. Who knew that John Stewart is an avid puzzler?!?!?

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Pirates of the Caribbean : Dead Man's Chest

Pirates of the Caribbean : Dead Man's Chest is, in a word, fun !! OK, you want more words?? Davy Jones and his crew are creepy, Will Turner is swashbuckling, Elizabeth Swann is courageous, Norrington returns and Jack Sparrow .... ahhhhh Jack Sparrow!! Jack Sparrow is a visual sensation, every motion comes from his toes, and ends in his hat. The words, the look, he's all Pirate .... such a pleasure to watch. The special effects impressed me, loved the look of the film. To refute the critics, I enjoy being set up for a sequel. As satisfying as this adventure is, I can't wait for the next! Pirates rule!!

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Anticipating Pirates of the Caribbean:Dead Man's Chest

I've been looking forward to the second installment of Pirates of the Caribbean, since the end of Curse of the Black Pearl. I was so enchanted with the characters, the action , the story, in short, the pirates won me over. I've been trying to be cool about the impending opening of Dead Man's Chest on Friday, but when the latest issue of Rolling Stone landed in my mailbox today, with Jack Sparrow on the cover, I said "oh baby" ... out loud ...to no one.... this concerns me. It's a movie, it's just a story, but what a movie, and what a story!! Pirates of the Caribbean:Dead Man's Chest is looking to be the movie to see this summer. I hope it lives up to the hype!!

Paper Clips

The documentary, Paper Clips, is a touching story of a middle school project that takes on the task of exposing a homogeneous group of kids to diversity. These white, Protestant 8th graders in TN know nothing different. Their teachers chose the holocaust as an exposure point. To emphasize the impact of how many people died in this horrific stage of history, they collect paper clips to understand the size of the number. The project escalates, relationships are forged and a heart warming film was made. This film is an interesting journey of human experience.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

The Libertine, The Matador and Find Me Guilty in DVD

Several films I really liked, are out in DVD. The Libertine is not for everyone. I had one guy tell me it was the worst movie he ever saw. I liked it. This is a period film about a vile man's life and death. Johnny Depp is great (as usual), but this movie is not for everyone.

The Matador is a different kind of comedy. A little dark, a little quirky, but Pierce Brosnan and Greg Kinnear pull off this story of an assassin and a man who becomes an unwitting associate, rather well. I really liked it!

Find Me Guilty brought me the surprise of a great performance from Vin Diesel! This courtroom drama, based on the longest mob trial in history, is well done and interesting.

Failure to Launch

Failure to Launch is a romantic comedy that was better than I expected. Not great, but good enough for a summer rental and an entertaining Saturday night. A man in his 30s won't move out of his parent's home and they hire a young woman to accomplish just that. Matthew McConaughey and Sarah Jessica Parker have enough on-screen chemistry, and their friends supply good enough humor and back story. Kathy Bates and Terry Bradshaw play the parents, and they're pretty funny too. A satisfying comedy as a rental.

Friday, June 30, 2006

The Devil Wears Prada

The story line of The Devil Wears Prada is your standard, "naive person jumps in over their head and makes good". What made this film shine for me, was the script and the performances. Well cast and well delivered, this is a good character study. Near the end, the plot loses momentum, but the audience has been well served to that point, so you really don't care. Meryl Streep is masterful as ever. As overbearing, fashion magazine editor, Miranda Priestly, her delivery and expressions form the character. Her final look, in the last scene, told more than any dialogue. Ann Hathaway, as the assistant, holds her own, and her character maintains her integrity. Stanley Tucci, as Miranda's associate, has some great lines, and he manages to avoid being a cliche. The supporting cast is strong, and form a nice backdrop. Those with a rudimentary knowledge of the fashion world and it's celebrities, will enjoy a few inside jokes (where does one seat Donatella??). That's all ~

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Superman Returns

In Superman Returns, Bryan Singer resurrects Superman with an unknown actor(brilliant) and gives him a softer, more human feel. The story is simple, it is the performances and effects that made this film for me. This will look awesome in 3D, the sets are so rich! Lex Luthor threatens the planet, as he does, but he's up against too many good guys. Lois Lane is strong, but not overbearing or screechy. Her beau, Richard, is one of the story's heroes. There is just enough humor and back reference, but it's not campy or stupid. Superman Returns is everything I hoped it would be. A fun, smart, cool looking summer movie, well done!

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Click

The comedy Click goes from funny, to serious, to funny, pretty quickly. The concept of a remote control that fast forwards life, starts out convenient and exciting, but turns scary and sad. Yikes!! Adam Sandler plays the family card again, he's strong as ever, but the story goes too dark for me in this genre. The casting and writing are great, a little too heavy on the fart jokes and sexual innuendo for me, but it will be a strong summer comedy,and an out of control rental.

An Inconvenient Truth

Al Gore and Global Warming may not be the most scintillating subjects, but An Inconvenient Truth is a documentary that is a wake up call to our environmental situation today. Stay through the credits to get some practical suggestions of what you can do about it today.

Regarding Henry

J.J. Abrams' first screenplay was Regarding Henry. After hearing him speak at the Tribeca Film Festival this spring, I was curious to see what kind of story a 23 year old guy could write. I was surprised to find this film in the bargain bin in Walmart, so I snapped it up. The story of an obnoxious lawyer suffering a traumatic head injury, rediscovering his family, and ultimately becoming a better human being, is well worth watching. Harrison Ford, Annette Bening, Bill Nunn, Mike Nichols and Mikki Allen are a great team to bring this film to life.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

16 Blocks

A flawed police detective is assigned to transport a witness 16 blocks to the courthouse. Along the way a cop is killed, a conspiracy revealed, and deep characters evolve. This is more a character driven drama than the action film I expected. Mos Def's performance is compelling, and Bruce Willis is a nice combination of action hero and dramatic good guy. This film was better than I expected.

Keeping Up With the Steins

Rites of passage in life make for great film. In Keeping Up With the Steins, we follow Benjamin Fiedler on the path to his bar mitvzah. The distance between his father and grandfather is very real, his mother is the pillar of reason and his grandmother is a class act. Funny and touching, I think everyone can find something to relate to with this family comedy.

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang

I get a kick out of films that recognize the fact that you're watching a film. In Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, Robert Downey Jr.'s character is constantly recognizing the audience. It is funny and draws you in. A mob-murder who dunnit, comedy that entertained me well! Downey is on top of his game, Val Kilmer is great, and Michelle Monaghan holds her own with a couple of screen vets. I've been waiting to see this film since Christmas, and it was worth the wait!!

Friday, June 23, 2006

The World's Fastest Indian

Men have always been obsessed by speed. The World's Fastest Indian is the story of a man, Burt Munro, trying to break the land speed record in Utah in 1967. This Kiwi, overcame adversity to travel from New Zealand to the US, with his modified Indian motorcycle, to chase a dream. His naivete in Los Angles, and ability to win people over, makes the man interesting to watch. Anthony Hopkins is wonderful, and Diane Ladd makes a cameo appearance. A story of speed and accomplishment.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Politics and Puppies on DVD

The political thriller, Syriana, is out in DVD today. A gloves-off look at the global energy climate, not a pretty picture. George Clooney won the Oscar for his performance.

Another DVD release I've seen is Eight Below. A heart-warming film based on a true story about sled dogs left to fend for themselves one winter in Antarctica.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

The Lake House

I got sucked into the The Lake House, by the trailer, and the powerful Keane song Somewhere Only We Know (the music in this film is well placed). This film is a refreshing departure from the classic love story. It is interesting, a little mind bending, and so damn romantic. The editing and performances made it for me. Two people exchange notes through a magic mailbox at the same house 2 years apart. If you let yourself give in to the fantasy and lack of logic, this is a very satisfying romance!

Saturday, June 17, 2006

A Prairie Home Companion

What a pleasure!!! A Prairie Home Companion is a sweet walk through the fictional last show of a real radio program. Robert Altman takes us on a gentle meander through the characters, their talents, their stories, and the sadness of this last night with the angel of death hovering in the background. The music was my favorite part, lively and often funny, this was a delightful film for me!

Cars

Pixar's summer offering, Cars, is a very pretty film. Colorful and creative, the visual is excellent. All of the characters are cars, there are some very cute human parallels and word play. Thing is, an animated film need be no more than 90 minutes. No matter how sophisticated the story, the audience will be young, and you just can't hold their attention much longer. This film is 1 hour 57 minutes long. There are a lot of slow spots where there were losing me, so I wonder about the younger set. The tow truck, Mater, and the tractors saved the film for me, funny stuff! If you can be patient and wait to the very end of the credits, there is one final gag worth seeing.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

My Men on DVD...and a Story

Neil Youg:Heart of Gold is out in DVD today. One of the best concert documentaries I've seen.

A special edition DVD of The Princess Bride also comes out in DVD today, which brings me to a story......

I was Christopher Guest's driver at the Newport Film Festival last year. On Sunday, he asked me to show him the town, and help him do a little shopping for gifts for his family. We were in a store, looking at animal hand puppets for his son. He picked up a lady bug and said "Look how clever this is, the legs are a glove, but what do you do with this?" He was holding out the 6th leg. I said "Oh, that's for your 6th finger". He answered with "I don't really have six fingers." I thought to myself, what an odd thing to say. I then held up the octopus I was playing with and said "and this is for people with eight fingers!" thinking I was oh-so-clever. I remember thinking the whole exchange was a little strange. He bought a penguin and we moved on. Let me say here, it has been many years since I had last seen The Princess Bride. Fast forward to the next morning, and I am telling my daughter M about my day with Christopher Guest and she says, "I think my favorite role he's played is the Six-Finger Man in The Princess Bride" My face went flush, and the whole finger conversation from the day before was not so odd anymore!! To this day I wonder what he thought about that conversation, I mean, how many opportunities do you have for acusing someone of have six fingers in casual conversation!?!?! Yeesh!!!!

Monday, June 12, 2006

NIFF Day Six *whew*

The last day of Film Festival is bittersweet. If it has gone well, you don't want it to end, but all the late nights and early mornings have you bleary-eyed and thinking of your pillow. Rides to the trains and airports are full of goodbyes and thank yous. The weather finally turned sunny, so we had to hunt a few people off of sailboats and beaches. I had the most amazing conversation with Xander Berkeley and Sarah Clarke on the ride to the airport, I feel so fortunate to have spent time with these people. Can't wait till next year!!!!

Sunday, June 11, 2006

NIFF Day Five

The day began with the Mayor of Newport declaring June 10, 2006 "Diane Ladd Day". I picked up Ms. Ladd, her husband Robert and the NIFF publiscist to go to a book signing at the Opera House, before her screening of Rambling Rose. This was followed by an awards luncheon, where she was given the Pell Award for contributions to the arts (the Senator and his family were there), then she had a magazine interview. When all of this was finished, she looked at me and said "now I can play, show me this lovely city"! The weather had finally cleared, and I took her on a ride around Ocean Drive, by the historical landmarks in town and she stepped into a local shop and picked up a new hat. She and Robert invited me and a young man, Billy Best, to join them for dinner at the Black Pearl and a screening of the closing night film, Champions. After the film she asked, "is there anywhere to get ice cream around here?" So off to Coldstone Creamery we went. At Coldstone, Ms. Ladd looked at me over her ice cream cone and said "I am having such a good time!" Back at the hotel, I received a very warm hug (heart to heart), a thank you, and a lovely gift as we said our goodbyes. Ms. Ladd was leaving for a flight to Chicago at 4 AM, so she was ready to turn in. It was a wonderful day, and though I'm pleased that she and Robert had a good time, I did as well!!!

Friday, June 09, 2006

NIFF Day Four

I was very nervous about picking up Diane Ladd at the airport today. I had been told not to be late, be sure to bring her here and here, I was given the impression she would be demanding. The woman that stepped off the airplane was lovely, friendly, charming and funny. Her husband, Robert, was kind to me from the minute we met, and has a wonderful sense of humor. The policy at the hotel is to greet the guests with a glass of champagne, and Ms. Ladd invited me to join her in a glass while we exchanged phone numbers and went over the schedule for Saturday. I'm looking forward to spending the day with her tomorrow!

After I left Ms. Ladd, I went over to the party to check in. Many people from past film festivals were there! It was a little NIFF reunion, so good to see everyone!

NIFF Day Three

Thursday night of the Newport Film Festival was testimony to the biggest reason I volunteer at this event .....the people I work with. I got out of the car and into the office last night, and got to work with all the great drivers, box office folks and festival staff. These people are fun, interesting and dedicated to this festival. There was one brush with celebrity when Elvis Mitchell (film critic and juror) asked me where the fax machine was! *sigh*

Thursday, June 08, 2006

NIFF Day Two

Richard Burgi (Desperate Housewives, Fun With Dick and Jane, Judging Amy) is friendly, smart, charming and talented. I had the pleasure of being his driver today. He was in RI for a discussion panel at the Newport Film Festival. I was to pick him up at the venue after the panel, and take him wherever he needed to go. He wanted to get something to eat with his young son, so I took them to my favorite spot, Yesterdays, 25 beers on tap and a great kid's menu. He asked me to join them, and we chatted, ate and colored. A quick trip to GAP Kids and Banana Republic, then we were off to The Improv Comedy show, where he again asked me to join them. I guess drivers don't always have to wait in the car! Thanks guys!!

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

NIFF Day One

The Newport International Film Festival held it's opening night last night, and I have the privilege of working as a volunteer with the transportation department. We help get the filmmakers and talent to their hotels, films, panels, performances and parties. It is an excellent way to be in the midst of all these creative folks. Last night, film critic Elvis Mitchell was in our office. I also gave rides to and from the opening night party and met Jesse Garcia, actor in the opening film Quinceanera, Henry Diltz, photographer of rock stars' album covers, and subject of the documentary Under the Covers and NIFF programmer, David Nugent!! This is only the first night of a very exciting week here in RI. Fun to have the film world around us for a little while. Stay tuned .........

Saturday, June 03, 2006

The Breakup

The photo montage of Brooke and Gary, during the opening credits of The Breakup, is how we like to see couples, and how we like to imagine Jennifer Aniston and Vince Vaughn in their personal life. When we meet Brooke and Gary, they are no longer that happy couple in the photos. Though The Breakup is promoted as a romantic comedy, I found it to be more of a drama with funny scenes. The demise of the relationship is evident in the first argument we witness, and it never gets better. The breakup is inevitable, and the film follows Brooke's attempts to fix it, but the relationship is beyond repair. I thought the issues in this breakup felt very real, which makes the story sad, but the supporting characters lend the levity you need to get through. I thought this was a good relationship drama, with well-placed comic relief.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

X-Men:The Last Stand

The latest installment in the X-Men franchise, X-Men:The Last Stand, is billed as the final film ...yeah right, is that why they left me hanging? I was feeling closure right up to the last scene, and if you stay through the credits, there's another teaser of a scene ..... yeesh!!! The story centers on the new-found cure for mutants and the political division of the population. The evil Mystique was my favorite, she is bad-ass!! The tongue-in-cheek comments are well sprinkled and not overly cheesy. Special effects abound, this is a fun summer action film!

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Winter Passing

Dysfunctional families supply great characters for film. In Winter Passing a young woman returns home to a father she doesn't know, looking for letters from her famous Mother, to sell. In the process she finds friendship and herself, and goes from cynical to grounded. Zooey Deschanel is the heart of this film, and Will Ferrell gives us his first dramatic performance. Well worth a look.

Transamerica in DVD

Transamerica is released to DVD this week. Felicity Huffman gives a amazing performance as a transsexual man awaiting surgery. When he finds out he has a son, an interesting road trip ensues.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Over the Hedge

Over the Hedge is a nice start to the summer movie lineup. Cool animation and a clever premis makes this fun for the kids, and will hold the interest of the grown-ups that take them. Funny stuff for the younger set!

Saturday, May 20, 2006

The Da Vinci Code

The Da Vinci Code has been heavily promoted over the past year. I was hoping for a good film....oh well. The beginning is slow and painful to watch, Ian McKellan's performance salvages the middle and the end lacks the drama that the final reveal deserves. I have always felt that it is very difficult to interpret a book to film, but the fantastical theories of Dan Brown, that made the book a popular page turner, sound ridiculous in this film. I will say that the cinematography and visual techniques used, as the characters explain theories, are excellent. Ron Howard knows how to craft a film, but the tempo, acting and writing are way off. Where there could have been suspense and wonder, we have predictability and tedium.

Kinky Boots

I love shoes, any movie that starts with the line "You can tell everything about a person by looking at their shoes" has my vote! To avoid financial ruin, a men's shoe factory, transforms to a boot factory for men that want to wear women's style boots. Belive it or not, this is based on a true story. This is a story of friendship, perseverance, acceptance and loyalty ..... kinky boots just happen to be the product. Chiwetel Ejiofor goes from playing the tough cop in The Inside Man, to drag queen in this film, I was enthralled with his performance.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Seeing Stars

It has been raining here in the northeast for over a week. Great weather for movie-going, but it starts to get claustrophobic. I looked outside last night and saw stars - it's been a while! I was in NYC for a week, where I saw stars in the streets, now I can see them in the sky again ... whew!

Monday, May 15, 2006

The Producers on DVD

The latest version of The Producers is out in DVD!! Mel Brooks remade his own movie, with most of the original Broadway cast in tact. Fun stuff!!

Sunday, May 14, 2006

RV

RV is a good old fashioned, family oriented comedy. Sight gags, slapstick and cute dialogue had a packed theater laughing out loud today. This was a fun film to watch!!

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Poseidon

The ill fate of a New Year's Eve cruise on the Poseidon is a decent remake. Though the 1972 version, The Poseidon Adventure, is more dramatic and has better acting, the special effects and suspense in the new Poseidon are very good. Cheesy dialogue and a few annoying characters, made me thankful that this film is only 1 hour and 40 minutes, just about right for this story. Visual effects are pretty good and Josh Lucas and Kurt Russell supply the eye candy for me *sigh*!

Art School Confidential

Art school becomes the setting of a murder mystery in Art School Confidential. What starts out as a coming of age story, turns dark midway as a serial murder ends up the vehicle for the hero's life goals. This dark comedy is an interesting comment on creativity and the frustrations of those trying to make a living with their art.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

M:I:III

Forget about Tom Cruise. See M:I:III for the rest of the cast, J.J. Abrams and the special effects. A cool story, awesome action sequences and great visuals kept this action film fan happy. I think this is the best installment in the MI franchise.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Tribeca Film Festival 2006

After an amazing week of film and film folks, I will say that the 5th Tribeca Film Festival was a great time for me. The best aspect of this event is the exposure to the amazing people who make the films. Not only do the Q&A sessions allow this film fan insight, but sitting in the audience is an experience also. From the music folks sitting behind us at The Night of the White Pants, to the guy who gave an animated blow by blow of the M:I:III premiere, to the kind gentleman who gave me a fancy cookie from a sponsor event, I love the exposure and the accessibility! A great vacation for me!!!!

The Groomsmen

The Groomsmen is a funny, touching story, told from the male perspective, of the days before a wedding. A young man and his friends explore their relationships and the meaning of life. Great performances from John Leguzamo and Jay Mohr really make this film. This is a strong cast and an interesting story. Ed Burns' Q&A explored his filmmaking experience and philosophy. Cool guy.

United 93

Everyone has their own 9/11 experience, United 93 will revive the emotions of them all. This film is an excellent treatment of the events, not only surrounding flight 93 and it's demise, but all of the elements surrounding that morning. The scenes are powerful and emotional. Too soon? I'm not sure that is the issue, so much as the fact that it was a disturbing event no matter how much time has gone by. Revisiting it is not easy.

The Architect

What do you do when your work becomes the home of gangs, hookers and drug dealers? This is the dilemma in The Architect. Adapted from a play, this story follows the parallel lives of a woman activist for the destruction and rebuild of the complex, and the architect, who acknowledges the problem but advocates that the buildings perform their function. An interesting look at the human element of urban living. Relationships are explored, and the young people trying to find their way provide high drama.

Tribeca Talks

In the midst of my film consumption at the Tribeca Film Festival I had the privilege of attending two discussion panels. One was about film distribution. The very talented Steven Soderbergh, along with producer Todd Wagner, and reps from Yahoo and MPAA conducted an interesting discussion on the future of how we will consume films. The discussion was smart, sometimes funny, and shed an optimistic light on the future of film.

On the eve of the M:I:III premiere, I had the pleasure of attending a quiet discussion with its director, J.J. Abrams. He discussed writing, creative process, life style, Tom Cruise, Alias, Lost and Felicity. He is a great story teller, and answered all questions at length. The only thing he would not discuss were plot details of Lost and the new Star Trek movie. He was polite and funny about it, and left us wanting more.

Brother's Shadow

In Brother's Shadow a man returns home to Brooklyn, as a condition of his parole, to find that his estranged family has changed dramatically. His twin brother is dead, his father hates him, his sister-in-law wants a new life and his nephew doesn't know he exists .... whew!!!! Talk about family drama!!! This is a good story of identity and redemption. The writers conducted the Q&A, giving insight to the plot and process.

Just Like the Son

Just Like the Son was a happy accident for me. I chose to see this film because the director was Morgan Freeman, and it sounded like a good story. When they introduced the director before the film, a young man took the microphone, and I realized I had suffered a case of mistaken identity, this filmmaker was Morgan J. Freeman!!! I then had the pleasure of watching his work unfold on the screen. A poignant road trip story, this film was well acted and written. I am glad that pseudo celebrity brought me to this film, and now I have met another talented Mr. Freeman!!

Lonely Hearts

The true story of two murdering con artists from the 40s, is the basis of Lonely Hearts. A dramatic story on its own, now add the star power of John Travolta, James Gandolfini, Salma Hayek, Jared Leto, Scott Caan and Laura Dern, and you've got one heck of a movie. The writer director, Todd Robinson, is the grandson of one of the detectives, played by Travolta, that chased and apprehended the pair. That personal note runs through the film. Violent and very graphic, this is a good piece of historical crime fiction. On my way home after the film, I stopped at a convenience store and happened on a man telling the story of the time Travolta gave him a ride in his plane....only in New York!!!

Night of the White Pants

How do you pick film for someone you've never met? For my first film of the Tribeca Film Festival, I was picking a film to see with my daughter L, her boyfriend and his mother, whom I had never met. With a list of 174 films I was a bit intimidated, but due to schedule and taste, I chose the Night of the White Pants. This story of a dysfunctional family gone amok, and events gone awry in one night, was funny and smart ... everyone enjoyed it! The Q&A involved the director, her producer and several members of the cast. The guy who did the music was sitting behind us, and was very entertaining to listen to. It was a great way to kick off my film festival week!

Monday, April 24, 2006

Matchpoint and Shopgirl in DVD

A film worth checking out is Matchpoint. A young man uses people to get what he wants, good twist at the end.

Steve Martin takes a dramatic turn with Claire Danes in Shopgirl. Two very different love stories take an emotional ride.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

The Sentinel

Michael Douglas is the ultimate movie star in my eyes. The Sentinel is an OK cop (Secret Service) drama about a mole in the Secret Service who is out to kill the president. Douglas commands this film and the screen. The voice, the profile, the presence. If you can't tell, I've been a huge fan for years. Kim Basinger, Kiefer Sutherland and Eva Longoria have their moments, but this film is all Douglas .... *sigh*

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Akeelah and the Bee

This film is the best example of what competition should be like, a spelling bee is the arena. Akeelah and the Bee, takes the classic underdog story to a new level, with the message of compassion, teamwork and love at the core, without being cheesy. It's hip, it's real, and the audience I saw this with, applauded as the credits rolled!

American Dreamz

The combination of politics, terrorists and American pop culture makes interesting bedfellows in American Dreamz. A sarcastic, no nonsense script, clever plot and surprise ending equals a very entertaining movie for me.

Friends With Money

Every once in a while, a great script captures the subtle basis of relationships. Friend With Money is one of those scripts. Both friendships and marriages are explored. A stellar cast navigates these relationships with interesting dialogue and masterful delivery.

My Neighbor Totoro

Japanese animator, Hayao Miyazaki, tells a charming story of a family dealing with a sick mother, and a country house filled with friendly spirits. Cute and clever, this is a wonderful film for children and adults.

Friday, April 21, 2006

TFF Buzz

As April 25th approaches I am reading more and more buzz about the Tribeca Film Festival. I am VERY excited, because I have purchased a ton of tickets, made plans with friends and family for lunches and diners and I'm going to Oasis Day Spa!!!!!! (thanks M&J) I have attended since 2003. On the 5th anniversary of this film festival, it is expanding from lower Manhattan, to theaters all over the city, and I'M GOING TO BE THERE!!!! I've got a sharpie for autographs, good walking shoes and a silly smile I can't wipe off my face in anticipation of the event! Stay tuned!!

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Celebrity Interviews a la Merv

Way before Entertainment Tonight, Extra and Access Hollywood, the king of the celebrity interview, for me, was Merv Griffin. When I was young, my mother always had a TV on while she prepared dinner, and The Merv Griffin Show was in that time slot. I would be helping my mother set the table with star after star being interviewed in the background. For a while, I aspired to appear on Merv's show (not sure what my claim to fame would have been). This was how I learned about Jack Benny, the Gabor sisters, Phyllis Diller, Charo, George Burns, and the hottest up and coming actors in Hollywood. Back then, I didn't go to the movies much, but I certainly knew the players. When Merv stopped doing the show, 20 years ago, I felt a loss.

Today I received a compilation of 40 of his interviews on DVD, and I feel like it's Christmas in April!! Looking at the list of interviews, I remember seeing many of them first hand. So nice to have Merv back with me, I've missed him!

Monday, April 17, 2006

Mrs. Henderson Presents

Out in DVD this week, Mrs. Henderson Presents, is a great rental. The story of a widow looking for purpose, buys a theater and navigates the business of entertainment in London. A nude tableau saves the show, and the theater prospers. This film is well written and the acting is topnotch.

Breakfast on Pluto

Breakfast on Pluto is a sweet story of self discovery. A baby is left on a church doorstep and is placed in foster care. As the boy grows, he longs for his parents, and spends a good amount of his energy trying to find his mother. Over the years he builds his own family in his friends, as a transvestite with a mission. Cillian Murphy, who has played bad guys in Batman and Red Eye, transforms to a character that pulls at your heartstrings. Set in London, this story also addresses the Irish conflict. This film is out in DVD this week.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Lucky Number Slevin

In the first 15 minutes of Lucky Number Slevin, 11 people are killed. The story moves forward for a while, but when we are finally taken back to the beginning, nothing is as it appears. Gambling, loan sharks, debt, revenge and murder all figure in. When all the details are revealed, it's one heck of a story!!

An Unfinished Life

An Unfinished Life is an interesting story. A young woman (played by Jennifer Lopez), and her daughter, seek refuge with the woman's late husband's father, after her boyfriend beats her up .... again. Grandpa (played by Robert Redford)does not know he has an 11 year old grandchild. He daily grieves his son, and his best friend was almost killed in a bear attack the year before. The drama ensues, and the story unfolds. Morgan Friedman, Camryn Manheim and Becca Gardner give wonderful performances.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Take the Lead

Antonio Banderas acts more than he dances in this film. As the idealistic Pierre Dulaine, he tries to make a difference, with ballroom dancing, in an urban high school. The film is about 15 minutes longer than need be, but drives home the old "take an interest in kids, and they will flourish" theme. Stylish editing, and Banderas carry this film.

Thank You for Smoking

More than a story about tobacco, this film is about the art of debate. How well can you argue? Clever and sarcastic, a comment on public image and spin.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Little Manhattan

One of those "damn kids" that fly down the sidewalks on razor scooters is the central character of Little Manhattan. He's 10 years old, has fallen in love and a 9 block radius of the Upper West Side is his world. This is a nice coming of age story that I found funny and relevant. Well done.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Ticket Buzz

I received confirmation on my tickets for the Tribeca Film Festival yesterday. Yes, I am a card carrying, hat and t-shirt wearing fan of this film festival! The accessibility, the films, the film folk .... and ,hey, it's New York !! I've taken my last few vacations at this film festival, and have never been disappointed .... did I mention it's New York!?!??! I have tickets to a couple of sold out films and discussion panels .... can't wait for May!!!!

Ice Age: The Meltdown

I think it's fun to see a kid's movie in a theater full of kids. When I took my nephews I&K to see Ice Age:The Meltdown, the theater was jammed. This is a cute animated story, the kids laughed out loud many times. Fun stuff for the younger set.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Brokeback and Narnia in DVD

Brokeback Mountain is out in DVD this week. This film was a sensation on the award circuit. I did not have the same enthusiasm for this film, but it was well acted and shot .... beautiful cinematography. Rent it and decide for yourself.

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe comes out in 2 forms of DVD also (one or two discs). This is a wonderful interpretation of the tale, great for all ages!

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Find Me Guilty

Sidney Lumet has made another wonderful film, with another real-life subject. Find Me Guilty is the story of the longest mob trial in history, where Jack DiNorscio chooses to defend himself. I can't believe I'm writing this, but Vin Diesel is excellent in this role. His chemistry with Ron Silver, as the judge, and Peter Dinklage as one of the lawyers, is compelling. Anabella Sciorra (Gloria from the Sopranos) is intense in a short scene, playing Jack's wife. The lighting and sets are rich, and help set the tone. If you like courtroom drama with a mob theme, check this one out.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Inside Man

Inside Man is an itellectual heist film, that had so many twists, I'd like to see the beginning again, to resolve some points in my mind. Snappy dialogue and great film style, gave this film an edgy tone. The racist and sexist undertones set a tough stage. There are tons of plot holes, but the good outweighs the bad, and this comes off as a pretty clever robbery.

PS Even though Clive Owen is hidden by a mask and jumpsuit, he's still looks hot!

Huff

Here I go again, quality series television is alive and well in Huff. I like to watch series television on DVD, because it feels like a movie when you can watch several episode without interruption. Sopranos, Six Feet Under, Sex in the City, Lost, 24, Angels in America, Empire Falls and now Huff, are all series I have enjoyed on DVD. This drama, with a splash of humor, deals with the family and friends of Huff. He is a psychiatrist, whose patient shoots himself, right in his office, in the pilot episode. Another series that is very well written, cast, acted and developed. I'm only 3 episodes deep and I'm hooked!!

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Sopranos

I don't comment on television often here, but after seeing the first couple of episodes of the Sopranos I need to say, WOW!! This series is rich in characters, emotion and events. The acting and writing are outstanding, I can't wait to see what happens next!!

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Derailed

Derailed is a decent thriller - con film. A man meets a young woman on a train and their trist turns ugly. Blackmail, murder and a good double cross make an interesting story. The acting is OK, I was disappointed considering the star power and talent. The film is sorely miscast, but still worth a look.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Geisha and Gorilla in DVD

First I need to say how much I enjoyed both King Kong and Memoirs of a Geisha. Then I need to say that the only negative I have about both, is that they were too long. When this happens to me in a film I start to edit in my head, and think of where to take things out without compromising the story. In this case, when you start to shave minutes, it does not hurt the film at all. I think if you fast-forward through all the scenes with chases, fights and snow you can cut at least 15-20 minutes (if not more), and still enjoy these films. Long live the fast forward button ... enjoy!!

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Solid DVD Releases

In the serious film department, there are two excellent DVD releases today. Capote, which chronicles the year Truman Capote spends writing In Cold Blood, is one. The other, is a story of family angst, The Squid and the Whale. Well written, well acted, well worth seeing.

On the lighter side, we have Chicken Little. A cute animated version of our buddy Chicken Little, with a modern twist! Then there's Dreamer, a family film of trial and perseverance that I really enjoyed.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Neil Young : Heart of Gold

Gee, who was that person grinning like a fool in the dark this afternoon? Oh, that was me, totally enjoying the concert documentary Neil Young : Heart of Gold! Thanks to an interview I read by Benjamin Wagner , I saw this film with my friend D this afternoon. What a pleasure! Jonathan Demme created a beautiful film that captured the work, music and friendships of Neil Young. I got goosebumps as the curtain went up at the Ryman Theater in Nashville for this special event. You can see and feel the camaraderie and love on the stage. The talent assembled there was impressive! The music Young wrote for Prairie Wind, touches on real life themes. Aging of parents, the empty nest and beautiful love songs, that I think must have been written to his wife. I got a little choked up during Here for You, the "empty nester" song. The cinematography, lighting and staging were great, and the way the songs flowed into each other, gave a very special sense of intimacy. This was a concert film I thoroughly enjoyed!!

Saturday, March 18, 2006

V for Vendetta

V for Vendetta is a story of revenge and social awareness that really got my attention. The film takes place in 2020 London, and the world has changed. V has been abused by the system, and has a plan for his revenge. To tell too much of the story would be unfair, this film needs to be experienced. The blood and words fly, as the plot unfolds. The writing is tight, and the performances make this film a strong statement about standing up for rights and beliefs, and that government is not always right. But is revenge the answer ...... ?

Monday, March 13, 2006

Good Night, and Good Film ... in DVD

Two wonderful films from 2005 arrive in DVD this week.

Good Night, and Good Luck is George Clooney's tribiute to Edward R. Murrow. Shot in black and white, this was one of my favorite films from 2005.

A History of Violence is a great thriller with a twist. Graphic and violent, another film on my favorites list.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

The Libertine

In The Libertine, Johnny Depp plays the Earl of Rochester in England in the late 1600's. An interesting period piece, Depp's character is a poet who is passionate and selfish, and meets an early end from venereal disease. The dirty, gritty, debauched side of England is portrayed well in this film. The story is OK, but the biggest reason to see this film is for the performances. Depp, Samantha Morton, John Malkovich, Richard Coyle and Rosamond Pike are outstanding.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Eight Below

Eight sled dogs touched my heart in the film Eight Below. A team of dogs must be left behind in Antarctica due to an accident and weather, they spend 175 days alone in the wilderness. This film is based on a true story, and bounces back and forth from the dogs' plight, to the humans trying to get back to them. I was fascinated with the dogs, a few of the scenes are very intense (little ones may need to be prepared). This film is a good adventure story and strong on themes of loyalty, friendship and survival.

Wizards, Wonder and War in DVD

Harry Potter and the kids are growing up in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Dark and scary, this will be a popular rental.

Howl's Moving Castle delivers another wizard's story, this one's animated.

One of the films released this week about humans is Prime. A romantic comedy that deals with a couple's romance, a patient /therapist relationship and a family relationship. I enjoyed this film.

Another VERY human story is Jarhead. Men are deployed to war, and boredom is the enemy.