Wednesday, December 31, 2008

2008 My Year in Film

With about 260 films viewed this year, it was a good year in film for me. I'm not ready to share my Favorites of 2008 yet (still have a few films to see), but I had some notable film experiences this year.

About half my film consumption is in DVD. Notable this year were films I've either never seen, or haven't seen in a long time. Fun viewing with A Night at the Roxbury , Porky's, A Christmas Story, Soapdish and Adventures in Babysitting. In the classics category there was The Philadelphia Story, Captains Courageous and The Women.

I had my share of fun with film at the theater as well. Seeing Sex and the City on the night of the New York premiere, with my friends from 92 ProFM, gave me a chance to take my red high heels to the movies. Seeing Baby Mama (again, courtesy of ProFM, thanks Kim), BEFORE the New York premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival, was pretty cool. Seeing the Young @ Heart Chorus perform, after seeing the film, was exhilarating and inspiring. Hearing Philippe Petit speak, after the film Man on Wire, was a treat. Seeing my friend Heath's film, He's My Dad, at the Big Apple Film Festival was heartening. Seeing Cloverfield in NYC, the weekend it opened, was intense. Seeing U2 3D, in a theater full of enthusiastic U2 fans, just rocked. Seeing 27 Dresses, sitting behind all the extras, was a blast.

Thanks to all who join me in the theater or at film festival. To those who put up with that odd (or old) DVD I may bring to your house, and ask you to watch with me, thanks too.
Happy New Year and bring on the films of 2009!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

American Teen

Every disappointment, insecurity, accomplishment and joy of being a teenager, are exposed in the documentary American Teen. This film is about a group of high school students pondering the future, life, family and dreams. The film is well structured, honest and poignant. Watch the DVD extras to get extra insight to making the film and the students' lives after the film. Interesting stuff.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Holiday DVD Release

With the holidays, the DVD releases are all over the place. Here's a list of the holiday releases. Click on the titles for more:

The Duchess
Eagle Eye
Burn After Reading
Savage Grace
American Teen
Hamlet 2


Sunday, December 28, 2008


Valkyrie is a Hollywood version of one of the many assassination attempts on Adolf Hitler. Well acted, skilfully filmed, but since we know the outcome, they couldn't create any sense of urgency or suspense for me. Might be because I don't have a lot of sympathy for Nazis. I tried to like this film, but it was just mediocre for me.

Saturday, December 27, 2008


At the end of the film Milk, the audience applauded. Was it in appreciation of the fine style of film making? Was it for the outstanding acting? Was it for the bravery and passion of Harvey Milk for gay rights? (all human rights for that matter) I hope it was all of the above, it sure was for me.

PS (If you liked Milk, or as homework before you see Milk, see the documentary The Times of Harvey Milk. Such an interesting man.)

Friday, December 26, 2008


Powerhouse acting performances are the centerpiece of Doubt. A priest is suspected of inappropriate behavior toward one of the boys at a catholic school. The fierce principal and a meek, optimistic young teacher are the accusers. In the polite fashion of the early 60s, much is unsaid in conversations and confrontations. This film left me with a degree of doubt. A screenplay and performances that were so strong and intriguing, that I'll be thinking about this one for a while.

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

For as many wonderful things I was reading about The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, I was dreading the 2 hour 59 minute run time. I have a lot of movies to see this weekend! Because the strengths of the film are the cinematography, the story telling, the makeup and the acting, I will forgive this. The slow build in the first half of the film is necessary, but it dragged a bit for me. Then the pace picks up, the story becomes more interesting and I became very glad I was in the theater. The story of a man who ages backward comes from the imagination of F. Scott Fitzgerald, and adapts well to this film. A wonderful love story. I know folks who, sarcastically, call Brad Pitt "Mr. Perfect" so I had a good chuckle when his character enters a room, and his lady love says, "you're perfect". Well done.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas

Wishing everyone a very Merry Christmas! : ) That's all ......

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Friday Flick Picks - Christmas Edition 2008

The multiplex will be awash with new movies this weekend, and I am planning three days of movie bliss. Oscar contenders galore, here's what's landing in RI theaters on Christmas Day. Bedtime Stories, Valkyrie, Marley and Me, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Doubt, The Spirit and The Reader. Slumdog Millionaire moves to more theaters (see it) and Milk is on my list for the weekend as well. Yes Man, Seven Pounds and Bolt remain in theaters. It's a great weekend for movie lovers.

Have a happy Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and any other holiday you may observe. A wonderful time of the year for celebrations and film. Enjoy!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

The House Bunny

The House Bunny is a cute comedy about an orphan who is taken into the Playboy mansion - until she turns 27 (59 in Bunny years). She gets the heave-ho and needs to look for a place to live. She ends up at the local community college, and gets a job as house mother at a sorority house full of losers. They are about to lose their charter and she uses her "bunny knowledge" to save the day. Nice performances and a good redemption story. Light and well done, a fun rental.

Saturday, December 20, 2008


One of my favorite Christmas movies is Elf. It was on TV, and after a day of holiday parties it was a nice way to end the day. Unfortunately, the network cut some of the scenes for time, that was unfortunate. Still, the joy and creative humor of the story shone through. The story of a misplaced human baby, raised as an elf at the North Pole, is funny, sweet and heartwarming. I've heard that Elf was the reason Jon Favreau was asked to direct Iron Man, nice call! A nice holiday treat.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Friday Flick Picks 12/19/08

A foot of snow here in RI, and various Christmas activities will limit my cinema experience this weekend, but there are some nice additions to RI theaters this week. Slumdog Millionare is in art houses. I hope it moves to more theaters in the coming weeks, loved it. I'm looking forward to seeing Milk as well. At the multiplex we have Seven Pounds, Yes Man, Nothing Like the Holidays, Cadillac Records, Four Christmases, Australia, Quantum Solace and The Day the Earth Stood Still. For the kids there's Bolt, Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa and The Tale of Despereaux. The movies, a great place if you need a break from the holiday rush. Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Slumdog Millionaire ... again

I first saw Slumdog Millionaire back in November, at the Angelika Film Center in NYC, on a weekday afternoon. There were probably 20 people in the theater. I loved the film. Tonight I was invited to the Fox Searchlight Sneak Peak in RI. The small theater was packed. About 10 minutes in, I realized what was missing in my first viewing, audience reaction. The laughter, the gasps, the reactions were all great, and made the second viewing even better than the first. One of my favorites this year so far, thanks Fox Searchlight!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Bones and Babes In DVD This Week

I loved the first two Mummy movies. When the third installment came out, the reviews were so mixed I couldn't bring myself to shell out movie theater cash to see it. Today it arrives in DVD and my copy will be in my hands tonight. Mama Mia! has had a fantastic run in theaters and will be a fun rental for folks who like romance and musicals. A super chick flick, The Women, hits DVD today along with The Traitor. In an odd, end of the week release, The House Bunny is out in DVD on the 19th. Another one I couldn't get to in the theater, but am anxious to see. The documentary American Teen comes out on the 21st (huh?). A film festival darling, a look inside the lives of kids in high school. Lots to see this week, enjoy.

Great Holiday Film Scenes

Over at the LAMB, Fletch posted a blog-a-thon question "what is your favorite scene in a holiday film?" A fun challenge for me, as so many films take place during the holidays. I was stumped when I first read this, as so many great scenes flashed through my mind. This weekend I watched Gremlins and my decision was made. The scene when there gremlins are watching the film Snow White is absolutely hilarious. Raucous and obnoxious, violent and festive. It's a bit twisted, but I had a good laugh and felt like eating a candy cane when all was said and done. No it's not heart warming, but all the aspects of the holiday, joy, candy, song, tinsel, funny hats and unbridled celebration, burst through in this scene. Love it!

Saturday, December 13, 2008


To reward myself for a great morning of Christmas shopping, I treated myself to the enchanting film Happy-Go-Lucky. Poppy is an elementary school teacher with a vibrant spirit and a lovely life. It is not without flaws, it is real. She encounters a miserable soul, who is her driving instructor. In one of the most passionate scenes I've seen in a long time, he explodes in an articulate rant that encapsulates his feelings and the essence of Poppy. Poppy's response is appropriate and mature. A good film about life, love, friendship, family and living. I liked this one.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Friday Flick Picks 12/12/08

With the most highly anticipated films of the year in limited release, it's slim pickin's for new releases in RI theaters. I have high hope for Nothing Like the Holidays, but The Day the Earth Stood Still holds no allure for me, so I'll probably get my Christmas shopping done this weekend. Quantum of Solace, Australia, Four Christmases, Changeling, Twilight, Bolt and Role Models are all in local theaters. I'm going to try to catch Happy-Go-Lucky after I hit the mall. HoHoHo!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Man On Wire

The opening night film for the Newport Film Festival 2008 was Man On Wire. I was there, and could not bring myself to go into the theater. Even knowing the outcome, I could not sit in the dark and watch Philippe Petit balance across a high wire, strung between the twin towers of the World Trade Center in 1974. Scares the crap out of me. I'm happy to say that I did go into the theater for the final moments of the film and enjoyed a lively Q&A conducted by Petit. What a wonderful speaker.

I decided to see the film when it came to DVD, with the luxury of turning it off if I couldn't take it. My fears were unfounded, I was rewarded with a documentary with a dramatic structure, great archive footage and wonderful reconstruction interviews. This is a true story of passion, creativity, camaraderie, adventure, dreams, risk and determination. In the end, the crew was arrested, the details of the complaint .... "man on wire". See it!

Tuesday, December 09, 2008


I wish I could remember who recommended the film Crimewave. Whoever you are, THANK YOU! Written by the Coen brothers, directed by Sam Rami, this is a wacky whodunit, told in flashback style, from the electric chair. A fun ride if you like a creative crime flick.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Whos, Whats and Whys in DVD

This is a great week for DVD releases. Horton Hears a Who! is a wonderful adaptation of the Dr. Seuss tale of commitment and friendship, no matter how small. What drives a lot of us to watch a movie is heroes, and The Dark Knight delivers on that front. From Batman to Harvey Dent to Commissioner Gordon, this is a film that addresses what we all look for in a good hero. In my DVD que is the documentary Man on Wire. Why would anyone step out on a high wire suspended between the twin towers in NYC? The answer to this question may surprise you. Check out one of the best documentaries out this year. Enjoy!

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Synecdoche, New York

Synecdoche, New York is a creative, crazy ride through the story-telling mind of Charlie Kaufman. A creative, play write, hypochondriac deals with his work, wife, daughter and lovers. Performers in his current work deal with reality, reality deals with the performers. The plot is a work in progress, the work is the plot. The performances are outstanding, Phillip Seymour Hoffman and Samantha Morton are brilliant. Give yourself a few viewings of this one, I'd like to see it again.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Let the Right One In

The week the teen drama Twilight was released, I listened to a podcast (thanks Cort and Fatboy) in which Mike Russell recommended "the other vampire movie". When he started talking about a Swedish vampire movie, I was reminded of when he recommended a Korean monster movie. I snickered, I scoffed, but I followed his direction. I was not disappointed when I saw The Host, and I'm not disappointed after seeing Let the Right One In. Well structured, creepy, eerie and touching, this is one of the better films I've seen this year. Thanks Mike, Cort and Fatboy!

A Christmas Story

In an effort to shorten my "never saw that" movie list, I rented A Christmas Story. Fueled with a fascination for the fact that Peter Billingsley and Vince Vaughn are best friends, and a curiosity for the frequent reaction of, "oh I LOVE that movie", I popped the popcorn and settled in with this Christmas classic. I was rewarded with a refreshing, snarky take on an old theme, "what I want for Christmas". Portrayals of the family, teachers, bullies and an unflattering snapshot of Santa made for a satisfying holiday film. The acting is top notch, Billingsly gives a wonderful performance at such a young age. I can see how folks can watch this film time and again, glad I finally saw it.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Friday Flick Picks 12/5/08

It's a quiet weekend for new releases here in RI theaters. Cadillac Records is in one theater (?!?!) and Let the Right One In is here. Role Models, Quantum of Solace, Australia and Four Christmases are all worth a look. The National Board of Review has bestowed awards on Rachel Getting Married, and the Boy in the Stripped Pyjamas, also in RI theaters. The kids still have Madagascar 2, and for the tweens it's High School Musical 3 and Twilight. A special treat for anyone who missed out this summer, The Dark Knight is playing at the Patriot Cinemas ..... enjoy!

Thursday, December 04, 2008

To Die For

One of Gus Van Sant's early films is a black comedy called To Die For. The story of an ambitious woman who orchestrates her husband's death is dark, sarcastic and pretty damn clever.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

The Times of Harvey Milk

In anticipation of the film Milk, it was recommended to me to see the Oscar winning documentary The Times of Harvey Milk (1984). This documentary chronicles the life of Harvey Milk, through the eyes of his friends and colleagues. A man who not only stood up for his own rights, but others as well. He was the first openly gay man to be elected to public office. Milk helped many in his public and private life. A life well lived and much too short. Good film.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008


In Priceless, a woman who makes a living at cons, meets a poor man, falls in love, and brings him to her game. In the end, love wins. Audrey Tatou is sparkling and enchanting. A charming French film.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Magic, Morons and Murder in DVD

In DVD releases this week, I've seen The Chronicles of Narnia:Prince Caspian. A strong addition to the franchise of fantasy tales. In Wanted, a group of assassins recruit a new member to accomplish what they cannot. Very violent. On a lighter note, Step Brothers is a goofy comedy about blending families and the agony of men who won't grow up.