Saturday, June 30, 2007


The beauty of the animation, and a clever story with a big heart, makes Ratatouille one of the best films I've seen this year. Creative, funny, witty and goofy, this is the most original thing I've seen from Pixar since Monster's, Inc. Remy is a rat who yearns to cook, and finds a way with Linguini, a kitchen helper with no clue. A creative premise has Remy calling the shots, making Linguini look like a culinary genius. Though I saw this today with a group of kids who cheered at the end, I think adults may enjoy this film more than the kids. I thought it was charming, funny and a visual feast. *chuckle* A cute short called Lifted (Oscar nominated) was show before the film, very funny stuff!

Friday, June 29, 2007


Focus Features came to Rhode Island last year and made a little film called Evening. It was the closing film for the Newport Film Festival this year and opens in theaters this week. A woman lies on her deathbed, slipping in and out of consciousness. The flashbacks reveal her life. The scenes weave the story of friendships, choices, triumphs and mistakes. The film is beautiful, and this is some of the finest acting I've ever seen. Vanessa Redgrave, Claire Danes, Mamie Gummer, Toni Collette, Natasha Richardson, Patrick Wilson, Meryl Streep, Hugh Dancy and Glenn Close turn in outstanding performance as their character's lives unfold. The film transitions well, from the past to present day. A life story, beautifully told.

Thursday, June 28, 2007


My reaction to the opening sequence of the new action film Transformers, was me sitting in the dark theater with my mouth wide open! It happened more than once. The Hasbro toys come to live action cinema this summer. Stunning visuals, eye popping action, crazy transforming alien robots and laugh out loud funny moments, make this a home run summer film for me. The whole concept of the Transformers is explained (not sure I get it completely), there's a military element, politics, family, loyalty and legend. Quite a saga, such a fun film.

As tonight was a premiere for the film (it opens in theaters July 3rd) Tyrese (yum) and Rachel Taylor (gorgeous), came to lil' ol' RI for the charity premiere in Hasbro's home town. Both are great in the film. The beneficiaries were Hasbro Children's Hospital, The RI Community Food Bank, Adoption RI and The Autism Project of RI. It was a wonderful event, and Hasbro introduced (I'm not kidding) a Mr. Potato Head toy called "Optimash Prime" .... so awesome!!

I'd like to introduce ProFM - Picks, the latest and greatest of what's in local theaters. Watch the labels section. I was their guest tonight, and thank them for the experience. Stay tuned ....... Friday Flick Picks are live on the air after 8 AM (oh yeah, 92.3 on your FM dial).

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Live Free or Die Hard

In my eyes, Bruce Willis is hotter now than 20 years ago. In Live Free or Die Hard he reprises the role of John McClane, to save the world from cyber annihilation. He happens on the dude who wrote the key algorithm (yeah, I have no idea) and can help the tough cop beat the hi tech bad guys. This film has sinister villains, off the hook stunts (bordering on ridiculous, but who cares) and snappy dialogue. I was worried about the sappy touch of "saving the daughter", but Lucy McClane is played smart, tough and cheeky. Justin Long holds his own as Willis' unwitting sidekick, I really liked his character. A satisfying summer action film!

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Redeption and Revenge in DVD

In Black Snake Moan, a young girl is forced to redemption from her wicked ways. Christina Ricci and Samuel L. Jackson are an interesting pair, this film worked for me.

In Shooter, a man is out to avenge being wronged by the government, and he's pretty bitter. Explosions galore, this will be a strong rental.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Evan Almighty

I enjoyed Evan Almighty more than I expected to. A well structured comedy, with a great performance from Steve Carell. He won me over in Little Miss Sunshine, and did not disappoint here. He carries the film well. The whole cast is strong, and how can you not love Morgan Freeman as God? He still makes me think of The Electric Company! I enjoy random references, and really liked God crossing the street wearing a hat with the New Orleans Saint's logo (white on white), a movie marquee advertising "The Forty Year Old Virgin Mary" and God signing all his notes with a simple "G" (anyone every heard Eddie Izzard refer to Jesus as "baby G"? Didn't get that till today *yeesh*). I think this film will appeal to all ages, there were some very young children sitting behind me, and from their comments, they got it. Good summer family movie fare.

Vanishing Point ... PS to Grindhouse

The film Vanishing Point is referenced heavily in the Grindhouse film Death Proof. The white Challenger, the stunts, the characters, this is a pure 70's action film. Also a good chase film, so true to it's genre. Well done, enjoy the ride!

Saturday, June 23, 2007


I love films about music. Once is that, and more. A young Irish musician finds his way to a marketable demo, and a path for his life. His relationships are realistic and the music, quite stirring .... in a word, brilliant! See it!!


I haven't seen a good scary film in a long time. 1408 chronicles a haunted hotel room in the best Steven King style. A writer investigates a haunted hotel room. John Cusack IS the film, a dynamic performance. I got jolts and mystery right to the end. Good psychological thriller.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Chinese Coffee

"Chinese Coffee puts me at peace" says Harry Levine, in the film Chinese Coffee. This film was presented at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2003, followed by a Q&A with Al Pacino. It sold out in moments of the box office opening. I could not get a ticket. It has been in my Netflix queue ever since. It was finally released to DVD this week. This play by Ira Lewis, is brought to screen, directed by, and starring Pacino. Jerry Orbach and Pacino play struggling writer friends in an evening confrontation over Harry's (Pacino) latest book. Jake (Orbach) rails that this book is stolen from his life, and exploits it for profit. Harry needs the money. The writing and the acting is this film are outstanding. An hour and a half of amazing delivery of prose, is a pleasure to watch. Pacino and Orbach are true artists.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

A Mighty Heart

The film, A Mighty Heart, is a love letter to Daniel Pearl from his wife Mariane. Based on Mariane Pearl's memoir, Angelina Jolie and Dan Futterman play the couple in the weeks of Pearl's kidnapping and ultimate demise in Karachi, Pakistan in 2002. Pearl was a journalist for the Wall Street Journal, exploring a post-9/11 middle east. The environment is dangerous and portrayed well by the documentary-style camera work. The politics are complicated and volatile, an innocent man is an unfortunate victim. This is an interesting film, a melancholy drama, easily Jolie's best work to date.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Bunnies and Bridges in DVD

In the film Miss Potter we get a sweet rendition of the later life of Beatrix Potter. The author who brought us Benjamin Bunny and Peter Rabbit was an interesting, strong, creative woman. A nice film.

The popular book, Bridge to Terabithia, is brought to film. This version is well acted and heartfelt. If you rent this, have a box of tissues ready.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

The Sopranos Finale

I finally saw the last episode of The Sopranos when I visited my daughter and her husband this weekend. I don't subscribe to premium cable stations, so I usually get my exposure to shows like The Sopranos, Entourage, Six Feet Under and Sex in the City on DVD. Watching the episodes in this form makes it much like a movie, as I tend to watch multiple episodes at a time. When I visit the kids, they usually save a few episodes of Sopranos on their TIVO for me (thank you, thank you, thank you). The last 2 episodes of this last season were waiting for me this weekend. (yay!)

I will say, hearing all the talk this week, took away any suspense that final scene in the last episode, may have held. That's OK, I was distracted by the location (I've been to Holsten's) and what an obnoxious character AJ Soprano is. I'm satisfied with the way Chase left each character, the ending worked for me. I thought the episode before the last was much better as far as content and composition (Melanie gave me the heads up and she was right). I look forward to seeing the whole season when it comes out in DVD. And did anyone notice what movie was playing on the TV in Silvio's hospital room? Gotta love Chase's attention to detail! Well done.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007


In the film Breach we learn about an FBI agent who commits the worst security breach in history. True story. The acting is good, the story well told. Worth a rental.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Ocean's Thirteen

Reasons to see Ocean's Thirteen:
The way those men walk *sigh*
Those men, still gorgeous after all these years.
The way Steven Soderbergh shoots a film.
George Clooney and Brad Pitt's cool.
One of the special effects actually rocked my seat!

Reasons to wait to rent Ocean's Thirteen:
Zero character development, it is assumed we've seen the first two films.
No banter, pretty disappointing dialogue.
Overall I found the plot pretty dull.

This "threequel" was disappointing for me.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Exhilarated and Exhausted.... NIFF 2007

The common words heard on Sunday at the Newport Film festival were so tired, so much fun, thanks so much! My Saturday ended at 1:00 Sunday morning and my alarm went off at 4AM to drive Ellen Rain-Scott and John Pierson to the airport. NIFF departure day is a busy one. I usually forget there are films showing. The more disciplined people got up and out to their trains. Because the sun was shining and, well it's Newport, the phone was hopping with calls from people pushing back their departure times. We had to send 3 cars to the 7:40 PM train! By 5 PM I could no longer think, so I got myself home. Asleep before the sun set, I'm happy to have had this week with the film folks who bring so much entertainment to my life. Thanks NIFF!

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Getting in the car ... NIFF 2007

Closing night of the Newport Film Festival is always exciting. This year the closing night film was Evening . The film was shot in Rhode Island last year and this was a special screening for the home town. (The world premiere is this week in NYC). Two of the stars, Claire Danes and Mamie Gummer, were in attendance. The director, Lajos Koltai, joined us too. I am now personal friends with producer, Jeff Sharp. I drove him from the train station and then the party. I gave them the scoop on what folks were saying after the film. Executives from Focus Features and state dignitaries joined us for a Red Carpet event. There was a good size crowd in Washington Park as a little bit of Hollywood came to our small state.

I was asked to drive the VIP entourage to the party after the film. The top guns from Focus Features rode with me in the first group going to the party (they wanted my phone number, yeah, I know it was for a ride home). Steve Feinberg, director of the RI Film and Television Office got a ride from me. There was also a surprise appearance. A local actor from the film, Jason Anthony, rode with me. The funny part about Jason was, he recognized me! He's a ProFM listener who enjoys Friday Flick Picks every week! I was pretty stunned, such a cool surprise. Turns out I've seen three of his films! Carloads of film makers had a blast at the Oakwod Estate into the wee hours of the night.

You never know who you'll meet in a film festival car.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Everyone Loves A Story ...... NIFF 2007

I always say that volunteering at the Newport Film Festival is kind of like summer camp. You have a really intense, really fun week with a bunch of people you really don't know, and then you go away from it ... for a year. When you return the next year it is like old home week and we do it all over again.

In the six years I have been involved with this festival, I have met people from all different walks of life that have one thing in common, a love for film and the love of a good story. In the process we tell stories, we collect stories, we get to know people through stories. We socialize over stories we pass the time with stories. It's pretty interesting, and I have my share of stories.

I've met a lot of new people in the last few days at the film festival. Really interesting people. And I've come to realize that I am having a better time listening to stories, this year, than telling them. Don't get me wrong, anyone who knows me, knows I love to talk and love to have someone listen to my oh-so-interesting anecdote, but I have really enjoyed being on the receiving end of the tales this time around.

Because we are dealing with the entertainment industry a lot of the stories are about celebrity encounters. Those larger than life people, in situations with the rest of us. In just two days I have heard wonderful yarns about the likes of Audry Hepburn, Steven Spielberg, Sylvester Stalone, Sean Connery and others. Though I know I will tell my share of stories this week, I'm enjoying the listening too!

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

It Begins ... NIFF 2007

Newport International Film Festival had it's opening night last night. I'm volunteering at the transportation desk again this year. It is a fun way to be in the middle of all the activity. When I arrived at the office last night, people were hustling in from the train station and airport, calling from hotels to get over to the theater for the opening night film In the Shadow of the Moon. The director, Davd Sington, was there, and from all reports, conducted an interesting, informative Q&A after this fascinating documentary. Familiar faces in the halls of the festival offices, Rachel Dratch and David Wike, both jurors and past festival attendees. David is the director/writer of last year's closing film, Champions. Tonight there's an outdoor screening of E.T, under the stars at Fort Adams.

Fun to see all the staff and volunteers again, opening night is always a bit of a reunion. The film schedule is packed with good stuff, let the festival begin!!!!

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Knocked Up

Knocked Up is one of the most well structured comedies I've seen in a while. A smart, professional woman gives in to a drunken night of sex with a man who could not be less of a match for her. The surprise pregnancy could be tragic, but the tone of the characters and their willingness to change, for each other, and the baby, sets up an interesting situation. It doesn't come easy, it's pretty realistic. Events take a predictable course, but the dialogue and delivery held the key to comedy for me. In the tradition of Wedding Crashers and The 40 Year Old Virgin, the goofy friends and caring family are funny, off color, and endearing. This film exhibits a firm grasp of the use of the word f**k for comedic effect and realism, well done. And who would have thought a rant from Ryan Seacrest would be funny?

PS (Stay for the credits, they show baby pictures of the cast and crew .... very cute!)

Friday, June 01, 2007

NIFF Box Office

Newport Film Festival starts Tuesday, June 5th and the box office is open! You can buy tickets and look at the schedule online, or you can visit the box office at 42 Spring Street in Newport, starting June 1st. Great films and a great time, stay tuned ......