Monday, March 31, 2008

Bloody Barber in DVD

The only movie I've seen from this week's DVD releases is Sweeney Todd:The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. Cool interpretation of the Broadway musical. Bloody and wicked. I may rent it to check out the extras.

Cure Kids Cancer:donate here.

Sunday, March 30, 2008


21 is an adaptation of the book Bringing Down the House, which is the story of a group of MIT students who won a ton of money playing blackjack in Las Vegas. I'm not that interested in gambling or the glamor of Las Vegas. I think the interesting part of this film lies in human nature. The pattern of desperation, turning productive, turning to greed, turning to betrayal, turning to revenge, is an intriguing story, and this one's true. The performances are top notch, the camera work is creative and the ending wraps things up nicely. Well done.

Cure Kids Cancer: donate here.

Southland Tales

Southland Tales is an odd, futuristic, political, social satire. It is wacky and star-studded, bizarre and nutty. A gangster mentality takes over with fluid karma as the prize, but the end of the world is at hand. Sound strange? It is. It's a bit messed up, but the creative effort is worth a look.

Saturday, March 29, 2008


There are so many things I like about Guy Ritchie's films, the most outstanding is his style. I like a good crime thriller, but Revolver is all looks and little content. The scenes are short and choppy. The story's dull and rambling. Once the con is revealed, I really didn't care. On the other hand, this film is gorgeous. The camera work, the lighting, the colors, Ritchie pulls out every technical trick in the book to make this film interesting visually. I thought the performances were good, but they didn't have much to work with. Too bad.

Cure Kids Cancer: donate here.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Friday Flick Picks 3/28/08

Finally, decent films opening in RI this weekend! I'm going to try to catch 21 , Run Fatboy Run and Stop-Loss. On Broadway, Flawless and The Counterfeiters arrive in art houses. It's still cool to take the kids to see Horton Hears a Who! and teens will go for Drillbit Taylor. Guess what? U2 3D is still at IMAX! Might get the boot from the Stones next week, get thee to the theater! And don't forget the Cure Kids Cancer Radiothon, thanks!

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Cure Kids Cancer Radiothon 2008

Let's take a moment away from movies, for a worthy cause. Today and tomorrow, local radio stations, here in RI, are conducting a Radiothon to raise money for Hasbro Children's Hospital. Every year, they share stories of the important work done at Hasbro, to both treat children with cancer, and for research to beat this nasty disease. You can listen at 92.3 on your FM dial, here in southern New England, and at you can listen online from anywhere. And while you're at the website, make a donation to help the kids. The good news is, the cure rate keeps going up, the bad news is, they still need our help. I'm starting my 3rd year as a pledge donor, and it is always heartening to hear the stories from the people these donations help. So call 877-719-5437 or click, and help the kids! Thanks!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Screen Scenes:Pavilion, Brooklyn, NY

Across the street from Prospect Park in Brooklyn, NY, is a movie theater called the Pavilion. My daughter Melanie first took me there when she lived in Brooklyn after college. One Sunday Melanie, Liza and I went to a morning showing of School of Rock. It was such fun! When we entered the theater, Melanie proclaimed "most comfy seats, ever". As we settled in I realized she was right. Pink velour, wide body movie seats with retracting arm rests .... so fantastic! They always have the latest and greatest, especially family fare. Love the Pavilion!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Mighty Aphrodite

I know, I'm late to the party on this one, but Mighty Aphrodite rocks! A hooker meets a man looking for the biological mother of his adopted son. Got that? The hooker is blunt, plainspoken and funny. The father is bumbling, sincere and funny. Very entertaining, well written and well acted....did I mention funny?!? Loved this one, check it out!

Monday, March 24, 2008

Loyalty and Loathing in DVD

Two very different films are out in DVD this week. The Kite Runner is a story of family, loyalty, politics and secrets. In The Mist, a monster traps a group of folks in a store. The mob mentality of the people is scarier than the monster. Enjoy!

Friday, March 21, 2008

Friday Flick Picks 3/21/08

It's slim pickin' in RI theaters this weekend. Drillbit Taylor may be OK for teens, but grownups should pass. The best family movie out right now is Horton Hears a Who! Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day and The Bank Job are worth a look. Oscar winning documentary, Taxi to the Dark Side is at the Cable Car, and Gus Van Sant's Paranoid Park is at the Avon. And finally, you guessed it, U2 3D is still at IMAX!
Happy Easter!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Happy Birthday Mr. Rogers

Mr.Rogers' Neighborhood came to PBS in 1968. I was working my first babysitting job, watching a toddler for an hour or so in the afternoon while her mom ran some errands. Right before dinner, a charming man came on TV and took us to the land of make believe. That is where I met Fred Rogers. Every day he would tell me I was special and he liked me the way I was. Simple and deep words that really hit the soul. Over the years, Fred Rogers advocated for children and family entertainment. I know several people who have met him, and they said he was as genuine in person as he was on TV, a really nice guy. One of these people was so affected by Fred Rogers, he and his brother, are making a documentary called "Mr. Rogers and Me". Benjamin and Christofer Wagner are exploring Fred Rogers' message of "deep and simple" on film. I first found Ben's blog a few years ago, and was moved by an essay he wrote, shortly after Fred Rogers' death. An interesting young man, who was deeply influenced by meeting Fred Rogers. He is making the film because of a few simple words Fred said to him, "spread the message". Can't wait for the finished film.

Today would have been Fred Rogers' 80th birthday. I saw a video a few weeks ago, and in it, Mr. McFeeley asked everyone to wear a sweater today, in memory of this lovely man. Mine's tan, and it does have a zipper. Happy Birthday Mr. Rogers!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Oh Mama Mia!

First, let me say that I have never been a huge fan of the music of the group ABBA. And though I am a huge fan of Broadway musicals, I could never muster enough enthusiasm to see the show Mama Mia!. Wedding angst for 3 hours .... no thanks. Then Monday, I heard one of my favorite morning radio show hosts, gush about a new trailer for Mama Mia!, the movie. My first reaction was a hard core eye roll, and *ugh* (out loud). So imagine my surprise, when I saw a promotional trailer for the film on TV last night, and was thoroughly enchanted! The movie looks like a lot of fun, with an interesting cast. My pal Meryl leading the charge! I just may give the Broadway version a look before this film opens in July. Something to look forward to!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Under the Same Moon

The story of a young boy separated from his mother, by life's circumstances, is a touching film with the English title Under the Same Moon. I was fortunate enough to see this film, with the writer Ligiah Vilalobos conducting a Q&A after the film. I also got to chat with her on the sidewalk when the event was over, interesting young film maker. This is the story of a young, Mexican woman, who leaves her son with her grandmother to go to the US to make enough money to support him, and eventual bring him to the states to be with her. After 4 years, the boy becomes impatient, the grandmother dies, and a road trip begins. The boy tries to find his mother. A border must be crossed, the mother must be found, friends and characters are encountered along the way. A bit predictable, but this is a well written, well acted film. Touching and charming, a true love story. Pay attention to the soundtrack, the music is almost a character itself. In limited release this week and wider April 4th, keep an eye out!

Monday, March 17, 2008

Fantasy, Future and Falsehoods in DVD

Another great week for DVD releases! The fantasy film Enchanted is fun, funny, smart and carries a message. Fun film. In futuristic fantasy, I Am Legend, sees a scientist try to survive and cure a mutant virus, intense stuff. And in the period film, Atonement, we have a lie that controls the fate of lovers and families in war-torn London. One of the best films I saw in 2007. All of these films are wonderful stories with strong performances. All worth a look, enjoy!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Ira & Abby

Ira & Abby is an interesting, contemporary love story. Set in NYC, it explores what makes a marriage, a relationship and ultimately, a life. The concepts of fidelity, expectations and therapy are key. A good modern romance with a sense of humor and practicality. I liked this one!

Martian Child

Martian Child is a film about being a kid. Feelings of insecurity, belonging and home are explored through a young orphan who tells people he's from Mars. A well done, sweet story based on a boy's true adoption story. I think a lot of people can relate to this story. At some point in our lives, we all seem to feel we don't belong. I highly recommend the "making of" segments, on the Special Features of the DVD. Interesting insight to making the film and the real story of the man who adopted the "Martian Child" and wrote about him in a short story.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Horton Hears a Who !

I started the day watching interviews with Jim Carrey and Jamie Pressly on Letterman from this past week (thanks Tivo). He was funny, she's smart and articulate (and gorgeous). They voice characters in the animated feature Horton Hears a Who! Going to see this movie has been in my Saturday plan for weeks, but I figured since it was showing every half hour at the local multiplex, I had all day. I made it to 12:30! Kids filed into the theater, some wearing Cat in the Hat hats. The excitement in the theater was obvious, with conversations around me buzzing. The little one behind me was excited to be at his first movie in a theater, he announced he was 4!

We are introduced to Horton, merrily wandering through the jungle, taking a swim, meeting up with friends, a likable, happy-go-lucky elephant. Then a speck floats by, he hears a cry, his whole world changes. In an effort to protect people he can't see, and battling a mob mentality of "if I can't see it or hear it, it can't exist", Horton hangs onto the notion of "a person's a person, no matter how small" with a stubborn conviction. The animation is charming and whimsical, with nods to other Dr. Seuss stories in the background of many scenes. The script injects the original story text through a narrator, and using cute contemporary references, Whospace, WhoU and a "pouch-schooled" kangaroo, to make this a solid interpretation of this Seuss classic. All in all, Horton helps the Whos save the day by standing up for themselves. The parents laughed out loud in appreciation of the song chosen for the final musical anthem (we're old enough to remember REO Speedwagon), and the kids cheered the victory of Horton. Well done!

Friday, March 14, 2008

Friday Flick Picks 3/14/08

It's a happy weekend for families at RI theaters, Horton Hears a Who opens today! With visual whimsy and an important message (a person's a person, no matter how small), this one is worth a look. Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day and Penelope are also good choices in the "feel good" category. For thrillers we've got Funny Games. A remake of a disturbing story of home invasion and senseless violence. More horror than thriller. The Bank Job offers a good crime thriller based on a true story of a bank robbery in London circa 1971. And if you haven't seen U2 3D yet, it's still hangin' in at IMAX. Rock on!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Screen Scenes: Film Forum, NY, NY

In New York City, on a very snowy day in 2005, my daughter and I wandered into Film Forum to see the documentary Born into Brothels. We discovered an intimate theater where they make sugar available to shake on your popcorn! Independent and foreign film is top of the bill at this lower Manhattan theater. Comfortable, welcoming and great film ... who could ask for more?!

Monday, March 10, 2008

Harmony, Honey, Homecoming and Hostility in DVD

Whew! Big week for DVD release. The Oscar winning, No Country for Old Men will fly off rental shelves this week. Bee Movie will probably have the same fate, I thought this was a crowd pleaser. August Rush was a dramatic disappointment, but the music makes this one worth a look. And for a little local flavor, see how many RI locations you recognize in Dan In Real Life. A romantic comedy that's worth a look! Enjoy ........

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day

Frances McDormand and I went to the same college, Bethany College, Bethany, WV. I was a year ahead of her, and though we did not travel in the same circles (we may have had a few classes together, it was a small school), I knew who she was. Smart, creative, funny, friendly, I think everyone knew who she was. She was in most theater productions, and by my memory (of 30 years ago), was a good actress well before her training at Yale drama. It's been fun to follow her career. I cheer from afar, and count myself as a big fan.

Her latest film, Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day, has drama, comedy and romance. The performances are top notch. Taking place in pre-WW II London, McDormand plays a desperate woman, just trying to work so she can eat. For a day, she fakes her way, as a social secretary, into the life of a young actress (played by an effervescent Amy Adams), who is working 3 men to her advantage. Love, integrity and morals tug the characters all over the place. This film comes to a neat conclusion that worked for me!

Saturday, March 08, 2008

The Bank Job

Now this is my kind of movie. Based on a true event, The Bank Job, is a nice tight British crime film. A bank is broken into, safe deposit boxes hold cash, jewels and secrets. There is a price on those secrets. Cool story, well told, I liked it.

Shine a Light: Joy in a trailer

I'm not a huge fan of the Rolling Stones, but Martin Scorsese knocks my socks off! After seeing the trailer for Shine a Light (twice) I am so psyched! Not only does Scorsese make amazing films, but he's such an advocate for film, music and the arts. Who better to make a concert documentary about a legendary band like the Rolling Stones? I've heard him speak about music in film, looks like he gets to put that passion on the screen once again ..... check out The Last Waltz. Can't wait for April 4th!

Friday, March 07, 2008

Friday Flick Picks 3/7/08

In RI theaters this week, we have a prehistoric movie in the disappointing 10,000 BC. Plodding and silly, if you go see this, go with low expectations and a lot of popcorn. I'm looking forward to the heist thriller The Bank Job and the comedy Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day. U2 and Hannah Montana concert films are still hanging in RI, wonder how long the "limited" run will last .... love it! The Romanian film 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days is at the Avon. It's a quality foreign film that's realistic, stark and a bit depressing (the subject is illegal abortion). In DVD this week, check out Into the Wild and Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium, and keep an eye out for No Country for Old Men out in DVD on Tuesday. Have a great weekend!

Thursday, March 06, 2008

The King of Kong:A Fistful of Quarters

In The King of Kong:A Fistful of Quarters the high score for playing the video game Donkey Kong is a hot and heavy competition. Documentation, credibility and a group of grown men vying for world record scores makes a compelling documentary. Another miss for me at the Newport Film Festival, gotta love DVD!

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Mr. Rogers Tribute

Mark your calendars, March 20th would have been Fred Roger's 80th birthday. There's a sweet tribute afoot, read about it here. More to come .....

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Screen Scenes: Cable Car Cinema, Providence, RI

The Cable Car Cinema & Cafe is famous around here, for being "the theater with the couches". This theater is an art house icon in RI, and offers great independent and foreign film. Though a little worn, the couches do a girl good when watching 3 hour films like Dogville and Inland Empire. The cafe boasts yummy baked goods, unlimited popcorn refills and tasty sandwiches! I've enjoyed many an afternoon on the couch at the Cable Car!

Monday, March 03, 2008

Wonder and Wilderness in DVD

Films I've seen out in DVD this week are Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium, My Kid Could Paint That and Into the Wild. Now that I think about it, they all embrace a similar theme. How do you live your life, and what do you leave behind? All worth a look.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

What I'm Watching on DVD

I try to see most highly anticipated films in the movie theater. But, the expense and the hype makes DVD rental a wonderful option for seeing films that I'm not sure are worth a $10 movie ticket. It is also a great way to see limited release and independent films that don't show in this state, or blow by me at film festivals. Some of them are worth seeing, some, not so much. Thankfully, with an online DVD rental service and coupons from the local video stores, it's worth the risk. Here's what I've seen in the last few weeks.

King of California with Michael Douglas and Evan Rachel Wood as father and daughter looking for buried treasure *under Costco*, pretty damned funny.

Goya's Ghosts with Natalie Portman and Javier Bardem as characters who fall victim to the Spanish Inquisition, good period piece.

In Smiley Face, Anna Faris is a hilarious stoner just trying to get through a day, and an audition.

In the sentimental column, my friend recommended A Walk on the Moon with a a young Diane Lane and Viggo Mortensen playing forbidden lovers, 60s style. Glad for the heads up, a strong romantic drama.

Margot at the Wedding portrays the disintegration of a relationship, and took a big hit critically for being depressing. Hey folks, it's a drama.

The Ten and Eagle vs Shark are off-beat, a tad strange, but worth a look.

If international intrigue, high risk and journalism are your cup of tea, The Hunting Party is worth a look. Tough to resist anything with Richard Gere, Terrence Howard and Jesse Eisenberg.

In the classic column, after an odd conversation about the film Porky's, yes Porky's, I took another look . I'm old enough to say, I saw this in the theater when it first came out. Still funny, still worth a look.

And finally, in preparation for the release of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, I went back and watched all three Indiana Jones films, what a treat! I think Raiders of the Lost Ark could be the most perfect adventure film ever made.

*Whew* With the sparse selection of films in theaters worth your movie dollar, I hope this gives folks a few worthwhile recommendations for home viewing ...... enjoy!

Saturday, March 01, 2008

The Other Boleyn Girl

The Other Boleyn Girl is a portrayal of the brutal inner workings of the British monarchy under King Henry VIII. Women are treated as property, penalties for a presumed indiscretion, death. A nasty time in history which makes me glad that those revolutionaries left England. Sisters, Mary and Anne Boleyn, are used by their Father and Uncle to please King Henry to secure the family's future. The whims of the King's affection, and the disinterest of the king in Mary, once she bears him a son, toy with the women's emotions, relationships and, ultimately, their lives.


A modern fairytale of "I like myself for what I am", Penelope is charming, smart, a bit edgy and honest. Penelope is NOT sugary, condescending or schmaltzy. The performances draw the viewer in, especially Christina Ricci as Penelope, Catherine O'Hara as her mother, James McAvoy (yum) as the man who loves Penelope for what she is, Reese Witherspoon as the first friend Penelope makes (and producer on the film) and Peter Dinklage (whom I adore) as the reporter with a heart. A nice film with a simple, poignant message. I was happy to see parents bring their daughters to a film that directly addresses the issue of self esteem. Well done.