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.