Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Pretty Woman

Richard Gere is in Rhode Island filming a new movie. When Pretty Woman came on TV Saturday night, despite a stack of DVDs next to the set, I watched the film beginning to end. I'd forgotten what a magical story this is. Worth watching, even with commercials. Glad I did.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Screen Scenes:Landmark Sunshine, NY, NY

When my daughter was at NYU in the late 90s, I watched the progress of renovations to a building on east Houston Street. The Landmark chain had bought the Sunshine Theater, an old vaudeville house. Every time we'd drive by, I'd say, "I can't wait for that place to open." The Landmark's Sunshine Cinema finally opened, with cafes and comfortable theaters. An independent film venue that always shows the latest and greatest. In 2004 I finally saw a film there. I've been back a couple of times, and it's always a pleasure.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Puppy Love In DVD This Week

Rocket Science is a good coming of age story that addresses the awkward high school years and the power of a crush.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

U2 3D

I first noticed U2 when they opened the Grammys in 2001 (apparently my year of awakening). I was so taken with the energy of Bono, and raw sex appeal of this Irish rock band. Yes, I had heard their songs on the radio, yes, I had seen Bono on the entertainment news shows in his signature shades, I just didn't get it until I saw them in action on stage. I'll admit, although audio is great I'm a bit of a visual fan. That's why the film U2 3D was such treat for me. The sweeping style of the 3D film draws the viewer into the crowd, and alternately tosses them on stage. The show is staged so well, impressive how the band embraces its audience by extending its stages and reaches out. I can say, I have fallen hard for The Edge (yes, I have a thing for guitar players and, damn, he oozes cool). Bono's sincerity, voice and energy is infectious. A word about the film's audience. The folks behind me cheered after every song. I was surprised how many families were in attendance. A little girl named Autumn (I'm guessing 4 or 5 years old), was sitting in front of me, and in beautiful innocence said "what's the movie?", her mom said, "it's U2", Autumn said, "oh, I like U2!". Talk about spanning generations. A great concert film.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

On a Lighter Note, Oscar Noms

For years now I have pursued what I refer to as My Oscar Project, I explain here. I only have a few films to see to accomplish the goal before February 24th. Two surprises for me were, for all the foreign film I've seen this year, not one is nominated in that category (quite a few are nominated elsewhere). And Norbit ?!?! Oh my ~

A few thoughts on the Oscar nominations announced yesterday .......

The beloved Once garnered a nod for Best Original Song for "Falling Slowly". Not only a beautiful song, the scene we hear this song in is so touching. I cried both times it appeared in the film. (why did "Broken Hearted Hoover Fixer Sucker Guy" not get noticed?) hehe

Another cool nom is one that was maligned a bit at the Golden Globe announcements (note to Billy Bush, imitating someone else is often referred to as "acting"). Cate Blanchett is nominated for Best Supporting Actress in I'm Not There. She plays Jude Quinn, a rock star who's career mirrors Bob Dylan's. At first I thought, well she's OK. Then I rented a Bob Dylan documentary, and was stunned. She nailed his walk, his speech and his mannerisms so well that, having seen her performance first, it looked to me like Dylan was imitating Blanchette.

Big cheers from me for The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, four nominations! Such an original film that I saw in a very uncomfortable theater, and as the film unfolded, I really didn't care. Gorgeous!

And as my love for George Clooney has not waned, a little shout out. George, if your lovely girlfriend is washing her hair the evening of the Oscar ceremony, I can still jump into a gown and be in LA so you don't have to go it alone. Always willing to give : )

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Film News .... Oscar and Obits

In film news today, the joy of the Oscar nominations took a somber turn when the news of Heath Ledger's death hit the wires this afternoon. A talented young actor who won my heart years ago through his wonderful performances and shy, polite manner in interviews. Though he was amazing in dramatic roles in Brokeback Mountain and Candy, I have really enjoyed him in more cheeky roles in A Knight's Tale, Casanova and The Brothers Grimm. Truly sad news for the entertainment community, and obviously even more so, for his family and friends. Tough news.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Funny Games '98

When a film is already good, do you remake it? Michael Haneke made a thriller that looks at violence in film. Funny Games, a German thriller, came out in 1997 at the Toronto Film Festival. A brutal hostage situation, with an innocent family, makes for a tense situation and disturbing film. The twist, near the end, blew my mind. If you rent the DVD, watch the interview with Haneke in the Special Features. It lends a lot of insight. Haneke has remade the film with English speaking actors, and premiered it at Sundance Saturday night. Can't wait to see if I like the remake as much as the original ..... especially with the same director. Interesting stuff.

Sunday, January 20, 2008


What fun to be in New York City on the opening weekend of Cloverfield! This creative monster-disaster movie grabbed the top spot at the US box office this weekend. My host for the weekend, Randi, is more inclined to films like Away From Her, Juno and The Savages. She was a good sport, and we saw this thriller at the Clearview on 1st and 62nd St. last night. The film has a brilliant structure, making the viewer feel a part of a home video shoot, that starts at a party and ends in disaster. The style draws the viewer in, and drags you uptown on the horror ride of a lifetime.

Any Given Sunday ... a Jinx and NYC

I wish I could watch the Patriots' playoff game today. I rented Any Given Sunday so I won't. It's a long story, but if I watch the Patriots play, they start to lose. When I turn the game off or plain don't watch, they win. Thus, I am sitting here on NFL playoff Sunday watching a football movie instead of the real thing. I've had a blast on playoff weekends, but in support of the Pats I'm staying out of it this year. This has been discussed a lot in my social circles in the last few weeks, but the funniest reaction to my proclaimed "jinx" was a doorman in NYC this morning. A Giants fan, who when my superstition was explained, said "please watch the game". I laughed, but as I left the building thought "hell, no!" Two thoughts: Any Given Sunday is a kick-ass football flick and "GO PATS!!!" Just doing my part.

Mad Money

So I'm in New York City yesterday, with my daughter Liza and friend Randi. We ate, we shopped and after lunch, decided to see a movie. After perusing my Vindigo, we decided to take a chance and see Mad Money at the Regal in Union Square. My concern was that this light crime caper comedy would be too fluffy, but I was surprised. Katie Holmes and Diane Keaton give performances that make the film work. Fun, light, good story we enjoyed it.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

27 Dresses

Romantic comedy is not exactly my favorite genre. 27 Dresses won my heart for several reasons. Katherine Heigl sparkles in this film, as Jane. A good friend and perpetual bridesmaid, she is an efficient personal assistant, loves weddings and has been a bridesmaid in 27 of them. She has all the dresses in a closet, and they actually become a character. A love story develops. There is conflict, there is comedy, there is a crazy drunken bar scene, there is a dramatic, painful scene of honesty, there is a Spiderman reference, good stuff!

For me, it was the audience at the screening I attended, that ultimately made the film. Much of the film was shot here in RI, LDI Casting supplied the extras (thanks Anne!) . Many of them were sitting in the row in front of me, and they were positively giddy watching the film. Overheard: "did you see my elbow?" "that was the back of my head!" "was that your shoulder?" ..... ah the life of a movie extra. One extra, with a rather prominent role near the end of the film, stood up and took a bow when the film was over. It was awesome!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Screen Scenes:Showcase Rt. 6, Seekonk, MA

I've discussed my frustration with seeing limited release films, and traveling to see film. The Showcase Cinema on Route 6 in Seekonk, MA, is close to home for this elusive film form. A quick ride, one exit over the state line, and I'm in a comfy multiplex that offers a great selection of limited release film! When I saw The Queen there last year, it looked like there was a hole in the screen. Concerned, I e-mailed the management when I got home. In response I was told that someone had thrown candy at the screen, and it stuck! They cleaned the screen and thanked me by graciously inviting me back ... pretty funny. Nice theater!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

The Air I Breathe

The Second Monday series of the Newport Film Festival continues. This month's film was The Air I Breathe. A crime thriller based on the life elements of happiness, pleasure, love and sorrow. Though these conjure gentle thoughts, this film is dark and violent. Four stories are interwoven in a satisfying story. The writer and director entertained an interesting Q&A after the film. Good stuff! PS This film opens in NY and LA January 25th then expands to Austin, Portland, Chicago, Boston.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Globes in DVD

In an effort to glean something positive from the cancellation of the Golden Globes broadcast, I'm going to use the nominee list for DVD recommendations this week. All of these are worth a rental. Click on the title to see what I thought when I saw them. Enjoy!
Away From Her: Julie Christie won for best actress in a drama
La Vie en Rose: Marion Cotillard won for best actress in a comedy or musical. La Vie en Rose is not technically a musical, it is a biopic of singer Edith Piaf. Worth a look for Cotillards performance alone.
Ratatouille: won for best animated film.
A Mighty Heart: nominated for best actress in a drama.
Hairspray: nominated for best actress in a comedy or musical, best supporting actor, best picture comedy or musical.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Golden Globes 2008

A few thoughts on the Golden Globes this year:
1. Though they tried, the "live announcement" was painful to watch.
2. Woo hoo for The Diving Bell and the Butterfly! Best foreign language film and best director.
3. For the Hollywood Foreign Press, a press release would have been fine. We can read.......


French, black & white, animation. In conversation last night, my niece said to me "you just said 3 things in one sentence that just don't go together!" In the film Persepolis they sure do! This film adaptation of Marjane Satrapi's 2 graphic novels, is original, creative and heartfelt. It is a chronicle of Satrazpi's life from the late 70's in Iraq, to Vienna, back to Iraq, ending up in France by the 90's. The history of Tehran and her travels, are shown through her drawings and words (with the help of fellow artist Vincent Paronnaud). The animation is beautiful, it does not suffer from lack of color. An interesting film with a lot to watch.

Saturday, January 12, 2008


I'm not a good judge of sci-fi films, but when you throw Danny Boyle in the mix, I was on board for Sunshine. A futuristic mission to reignite the sun is appropriately called Icarus. Things go wrong, the characters get ugly, the situation gets ugly, but the visual is what I signed on for. I was not disappointed, this is one good looking film. The plot gets a bit mushy around the middle, but for the most part, a solid rental.

The Orphanage

The Orphanage is a Spanish film that explores the haunting of the mind. A woman returns to the house that was the home of the orphanage she grew up in. This is one of those modern ghost stories,that indulges our desire to believe in ghosts, and the reality of the tricks of the grieving psyche. Well done, made me jump more than once. The reveal was very satisfying. Cool film.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Adventure on Film

Youtube is a great place for amateur film makers to post their work. Recently, I found out my brother, Bob, has been dabbling at putting his adventures in films! An avid outdoors man, prone to fishing, skiing, hiking, biking (yes, we're related), he has embraced digital technology, and chronicles one of his trips to Mount Washington in New Hampshire. I call it crazy, he calls it fun. Check it out!

Thursday, January 10, 2008

The Bucket List

In The Bucket List, two men receive a cancer diagnosis. They set off on a world adventure to accomplish tasks on a "bucket list", things to do before you kick the bucket. More than once, one asks the other "how much money DO you have?" The reality of the disease, and their lives intervene from time to time. A bit predictable, the tone of this film is uneven. One moment light and cute, the next, dark and philosophical. Maybe that's the byproduct of examining life and death. I did like the way they accomplished most of the items on the list near the end of the film. The performances are outstanding. A poignant film on a difficult subject ... mortality.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Bloggers on Blogging .... About Film

I am a pretty active blog surfer. I'm usually looking for film information and film opinions. The Internet and blogs are so awesome, because of the shear volume and the access. I love the global aspect. I read blogs by people who live all over, Oregon, Utah, Texas, California, North Dakota, Georgia, Colorado, Washington, DC, New York City , Rhode Island *whew* all at a click of the mouse! I also like the interactive aspect. Most blogs invite comments, and most bloggers answer on their own sites and often visit each other's. Through my recent surfing, I found a blogger out of Colorado, who writes about film for publications, does radio commentary and has his own film blog. I've commented on his blog, and he on mine. To my surprise, he asked me if he could interview me for a feature he is posting on his blog about other film bloggers! I am proud to say, he wrote a very nice piece, and he even has one of the first photos of me that's ever been posted on the Internet! You can read it here, I really like it! Thanks Christian!

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Screen Scenes:West Newton Cinema, MA

This time of year, it's pretty tough to be a film fan in this small state. Limited release films that snag spots on the top of everyone's "best of lists" seem to take forever to get to this market. A few years ago, I found a cinematic gem in the West Newton Cinema, in the heart of West Newton, MA. Each January I find myself taking the 60 mile drive to this 6 screen cinema, to revel in some of the best film of the year. Six screens hold these gems, and most of the theaters have pretty comfy seating. There are two very small theaters that hold less than 100 seats, and the seats seem to be turn of the century. Kind of funny. The popcorn's fresh, and they have an e-mail subscription to let folks know the latest and greatest that's showing. I've been there the last two Saturdays, and if they show Persepolis this week I'll be back!

Monday, January 07, 2008

Wild West in DVD

In 3:10 to Yuma an unwitting volunteer tries to get a notorious gunman to his train. Out in DVD this week, there are fine performances in this western remake.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

The Kite Runner

The Kite Runner is a story of friendship, loyalty, change, tradition and danger. The life of a well to do boy in Afghanistan is chronicled from the late 70's to the year 2000. In Afghanistan, his father has servants, the son of one is his dear friend. There is a betrayal, guilt and because of political unrest, flight to the US. The final chapter of this film took a surprising turn. It is suspenseful, dramatic and heartwarming. A lovely film for me.

A New Shorty

Today there is a new reason to call me Shorty (aside from my stature). I cut my hair yesterday! I've been growing my hair, so I could send it to Beautiful Lengths, an organization that makes wigs for women who have lost their hair due to chemotherapy or disease. There was no Oprah, there was no Today Show, just me, my stylist Bob and a pair of scissors. Though celebrities have done the same thing to promote the cause, I know people who have donated their tresses to help women they don't know. So here's to Kolby, Allison, Elizabeth and all those I join ranks with, as I mail my ponytail, with love, and toss my sassy new do .... feeling lucky that I can!

Saturday, January 05, 2008

There Will Be Blood

Percussion and dissonant strings are the soundtrack of There Will Be Blood. It maintains the tone, tension and resolve in this period drama. A man who likes no one, becomes a successful oil man in the early 1900s. The characters are intense, the story one of success and vengeance (who knew what kind of violence could occur in a bowling alley?!?), the camera work is amazing. This film is highly creative on many levels.

Say Anything

In 2002 I saw Say Anything. I was not impressed. I have always been baffled by the fawning over this film. Recently, I saw John Cusack on Inside the Actor's Studio. Smitten by his calm demeanor, knowledge of his craft and dry wit, I decided to give the film another go. What was wrong with me six years ago? On this viewing I found a sweet, smart, well written, well acted film. After all this time, I finally get it. Here's to second chances .... and viewings!

Friday, January 04, 2008

National Treasure : Book of Secrets

National Treasure:Book of Secrets is the second installment of Disney's franchise of historical treasure hunters. I thought it was much more entertaining than the first, I love film characters that can poke fun at themselves. Clever, a bit of historical controversy, a quest for treasure (naturally) and crazy chase scenes. Riley could possibly be one of my favorite film characters (though I was sad for his Ferrari). An entertaining ride!

The Golden Shortman aka "The Shorty"

It's official, I awarded the first Golden Shortman this morning, and a bit was born! I have the privilege of sharing my thoughts on film, on Friday mornings on Giovanni & Kim in the Morning. They were kind enough to invite me to the premiere of Transformers in 2007, so I gave them my first award of the year! FYI, The Golden Shortman was coined, before the holidays, by the show's producer, in reference to my Best of 2007 list. Juno was the film being discussed. There was a bit of discussion establishing a moniker for my attention to anything I deem noteworthy in film. I think the final decision was that "The Golden Shortman" will be awarded as a "Shorty". What fun can I have with this ?!?!?!? Stay tuned ......

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Walk Hard:The Dewey Cox Story

Walk Hard:The Dewey Cox Story is an effective spoof of the predictable music success story movies. John C. Reilly throws in a great performance as Cox (dude can sing) and Jenna Fischer is very funny as one of his wives (she can sing as well). Worth a look if you like satire.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Screen Scenes: Avon Cinema, Providence, RI

On the east side of Providence, RI, nestled between the bookstores and restaurants of the oh-so-hip Thayer Street, sits the Avon Cinema. This theater is the mecca of independent and foreign film in RI. This is another theater with a curtain across the screen, and the refreshment promo is vintage. A beautiful old theater with a true dedication to quality film.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Film Favorites - 2007

Happy New Year to all! And with the start of a new year, I'm ready to post my favorite films from 2007. Because "best and worst" is so subjective, this is just a list of films from this year that I enjoyed. Right now my 2007 list numbers around 30 films (more on that later) and I still have a few to see. I haven't had access to films like There Will be Blood and Persepolis, but I can't see anything changing my top 5, so I'll start there for today.

Juno : Well written, well acted, funny, poignant, what more could I want? Every time I think about this film I smile. My overall favorite for the year.

Once : The story of a young Irish musician, working for his art and searching for love. A strong story with amazing music and performances.

Before the Devil Knows You're Dead : A beautifully crafted thriller that grabs you by the throat from the opening scene and never lets go. A robbery gone very wrong is explained and avenged in a film I will not soon forget.

The Host : Yes, there is a monster movie in my top 5! This Korean thriller is creative, clever, quirky and intense. The visual experience is amazing.

Atonement : The story of misunderstanding, a damaging lie and deep emotion lead to a film of high drama. Lighting, sound, acting, costumes, editing all great in this wonderful piece.

More on 2007 soon, stay tuned ......