Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Zorro, Shoes and Corpses ... Oh My !!!

In DVD release this week are three films I've seen.
Corpse Bride is a Tim Burton interpretation of an old folk tale, joining the land of the living and the land of the dead. It is now an Oscar contender.

In Her Shoes
is a great story, of family relationships, very well done!! A good solid rental, especially for the ladies.
The Legend of Zorro met a need for me the day I saw it. I needed escape, I needed action, this film delivered!

Sunday, January 29, 2006

SAG Awards

The SAG Awards are, by my count, the most authentic of awards. Actors, voting for actors and ensemble awards, make it the most credible for me. This year I wholeheartedly support the winners. I was especially happy to see Paul Giamatti recognized for his role in Cinderella Man, and the ensemble of Crash was well deserving. On to the Oscar Noms Tuesday morning!

Ballets Russes

The documentary Ballets Russes is the history of that ballet company. I am a wanna-be ballerina. I have always loved everything about the art. The tutus, the grace and the music. Coppelia was the first live ballet I attended, I was captivated. When I was 10 we moved to the beach and sailing and swimming replaced dance lessons, but my fondest childhood memories involve a pink tutu I wore until it fell apart. To this day, ballet is my favorite dance form. In Ballets Russes, as the dancers are interviewed, we realize that the love of the art was more important than the paycheck. Most of the members interviewed are in their 80's and 90's and still run their own dance programs and studios ... impressive longevity. This was the earliest form of glamorous showbusiness. The stories are heartwarming and the endurance, both physical and emotional, are impressive.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

The Matador

Pierce Brosnan is Bond no more. In the Matador he exercises his acting chops and slips into a character that takes us on an unconventional ride. As a professional assassin, he runs into a serious man who lives a safe life. A friendship is forged, and the two men give each other support in surprising fashion. Greg Kinnear and Brosnan have great chemistry! A very funny scene in a cantina in Mexico City, had the whole theater laughing out loud! The story is interesting and the comedy is strong. The locations were fun for me, having just returned from Mexico, and speaking with a horse-racing friend in Tucson yesterday.
More cervezas, por favor!!

Match Point

Match Point is not your average Woody Allen film. First of all, he's not in it, (only the second time I've seen that), and no one acts like him, (first time I've seen that). A young tennis pro befriends a student, meets his sister and fiance, and falls in love with both. Complicated situations ensue, and we are taken on a tense ride. This film is a combination of love story, thriller and morality tale. I liked the plot twists at the end, well done!


Junebug is a wonderful analysis of relationships old and new. There are all kinds of connections, complex characters and human reactions. A young man brings his new wife to meet the family, and connections are created and renewed. The acting makes this film, and the direction pulled me from to tears one moment, to laughing out loud the next. I enjoyed this story of family, faith and what's important in relationships.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Aristocratic DVD

The Aristocrats is out in DVD. The oldest, dirtiest joke is told and talked about by 100 comedians. A great documentary, but not for the squeamish or prudish.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Golden Winners

In my mind, the Oscars and Grammys are the ultimate award shows. The Golden Globes has become the goofy cousin. The nominees are guests. They sit at round tables, eat drink and are merry. It usually starts out polite and coifed, but (hopefully) has potential for some forms of drunk and/or disorderly (this year, Harrison Ford was classic).

The winners are fine, but I don't really see this as a preview of Oscar. The voting pool is so small and subjective, but it is good televison. Dick Clark Productions knows how to wrap it up by 11!!

My faves this year were George Clooney, speaking off color, Rachel Weisz acknowledging awkward location shoots, Felicity Huffman ... just being Felicity, Philip Seymore Hoffman, in awe of his past year (though he's had many great years), Joaquin Phoenix, chuckling over Walk the Line's category (comedy or musical ... please), Reese Witherspoon showing she is Elle Woods no more, and finally, Ang Lee, class and humility, an interesting road ahead.

My Best Dressed list contains, Clooney, Jamie Foxx, Teri Hatcher, Diana Ossana, Reene Zellweger, Steve Carell, Nancy Walls (Carell's wife) and Hilary Swank.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Glory Road

Glory Road is the basketball equivalent of Friday Night Lights, Miracle and The Rookie. This is a good thing. Inspiring sport stories make good film, and this is no exception. This story throws in the ugly issue of racism. A tragic characteristic of human nature, racism in action is uncomfortable to watch, but important to acknowledge and overcome. This film addresses it well. Stay through the credits to see the actual people depicted, comment on the game and times.

Saturday, January 14, 2006


Red Riding Hood was a childhood hero of mine. I mean, bringing goodies to Granny and facing the wolf!?!??!! In the latest telling of this tale, the story is told from several perspectives, takes on a few modern twists and is entertaining animation. Red and Granny are hip, the wolf and his sidekick Twitchy (my fave) are funny and the investigators are the butt of many a gag. Cute viewing.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Pimps & Politics in DVD

Out in DVD today, are some great films from 2005, and a classic!

Hustle & Flow surprised me as a solid drama. Performances are excellent, the message gets through, but the content is pretty raw.

Red Eye is a basic thriller. Cillian Murphy and Rachel McAdams make the ride worthwhile.

The Constant Gardener is a powerful political thriller. An impressive drama.

Ferris Bueller is back in DVD. This hilarious teen comedy is a gem, just plain fun!!

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Film Favorites of 2005

I know that the traditional number for "Top" lists is 10, but when it comes to film, it doesn't seem to be enough for me! Last year there were almost 30 on my list! I can't call these the "best" of 2005, because that is subjective. One of my film magazines publishes 30 top 10 film lists from their editors, and they are very different. These are my Favorites of 2005 (got it down to 16), click the links to see my thoughts when I saw these films. Many of these are out in DVD now, check it out!!

1. Wedding Crashers
2. Crash
3. Cinderella Man
4. Murderball
5. Rent
6. Good Night, and Good Luck
7. Mad Hot Ballroom
8. Batman Begins
9. Elizabethtown
10. Howl's Moving Castle
11. Munich
12. Capote
13. Me and You and Everyone we Know
14. A History of Violence
15. The Upside of Anger
16. Hustle & Flow

Grizzly Man

Grizzly Man is a documentary by Werner Herzog, about Tim Treadwell, who lived among grizzly bears in Alaska for 13 seasons. Most of the footage is from Treadwell's cameras, film taken right up to the day before he was killed. There is audio from the actual attack that killed Treadwell and his companion Amy Hugenard, but Herzog thought it was too gruesome to put in the film. Treadwell was attacked by an old bear that had not gone into hibernation, and was desperate and hungry. More bodies were found in the bear. Wild animals act on instinct and survival. Though Treadwell could live among them in their season, when food was plentiful and the bears were happy, he ran across a hungry bear and therein lies the danger. This is an excellent documentary, Herzog tells the story through Treadwells films and interviews with friends and associates.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Brokeback Mountain

Throughout Brokeback Mountain, I was struck by the visual images. I think the reason this film resonates with audiences, is that every scene is an experience. Everything in the frame is deliberate, and prepares you for the next. In the first half hour there is little dialogue. Setting a tone, we are drawn into the feel of the story. This is a deep story, well told. A twenty year relationship of two men deals with love, infidelity, survival and family. The strong cast, Heath Ledger most notable for me, give this story life, and tackles some difficult topics.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Crashers and Flowers on DVD

One of my favorite movies of 2005 is out in DVD!!!!! Wedding Crashers is here!!!! I thought this movies was funny, clever, funny, goofy, funny, sexy (Vaughn) and oh yeah, did I mention funny!?!?!? Everything we have ever thought at a wedding, is thrown on screen for this film. Fun stuff!!!!

Broken Flowers is another melancholy performance from Bill Murray. I liked this film, but keep in mind, it is a drama, not a comedy. Happy renting!!

Monday, January 02, 2006

The Producers

I have always loved the original film version of The Producers, Mel Brooks is one of the great comic minds of our time. Two men set out to get rich quick by producing a Broadway flop. Irreverent, offensive, risque and off-color, PC goes out the window on this one!! The film bounced to the Broadway theater, and back to the screen. The new film version is two hours of laughter!! For the second time this year, a film treated me to the original Broadway cast of a Broadway musical (Rent was the first). No mystery why Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick were commanding up to $1000 for tickets to this show on the Great White Way, the performances are outstanding. The movie cast IS the Broadway cast, except for 2 members ... and the replacements are fabulous! Will Farrell and Umma Thurman hold their own. And I had no idea Matthew Broderick could tap dance!!!!! Everyone in the theater had fun!

The Family Stone

The ultimate Christmas nightmare is related in The Family Stone. A man brings his girlfriend home to meet the family for the holidays. This is a family of strong, some eccentric, characters that are interesting, and often entertaining to watch in action. This colorful family has it's vulnerabilities, and as they are exposed I was touched and amused. A great addition to the "classic Christmas Film" vault.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Memoirs of a Geisha

Memoirs of a Geisha reminds you of just that at the end of the film. It is not the memoirs of a princess or a queen, but a Geisha. Though a little slow in the beginning, this is the story of a girl in pre-war Japan, whose parents die, and she is sold to a Geisha house. She grows up there, and is ultimately trained to be a Geisha. The dynamic of the business has drama and politics. We learn of the culture and traditions, but in the end, the true themes are honor, loyalty, patience and love. Rob Marshall uses light, wind and water to it's full visual advantage. A strong holiday film.

The Squid and the Whale

No, The Squid and the Whale is not a Cousteau special, it is a wonderful drama that made me think. A family experiences a divorce and the kids act out. The strongest reality expressed is "joint custody blows". All kids want one home, one set of parents, under the same roof. The arrangements of joint custody take a toll on kids one way or another, and it is important to acknowledge those feelings. The young men in this film act out, cope and try to love their parents despite the distance. This film is real and addresses an issue too many households deal with. Well done!