Monday, December 31, 2012

Hitchcock

In the beginning, the film Hitchcock is about the making of Psycho. In the end, it is about Hitchcock's relationship with his wife. It's a sweet story. The performances are excellent. There are many references to The Birds, which was his next film. I think I'll go watch a few episodes of Alfred Hitchcock Presents. I liked this film.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Anna Karenina

I saw Anna Karenina presuming that it would get an Oscar nod for costumes. Joe Wright took theatrical liberties with the staging that was a bit distracting. That said, this is a gorgeous film, and the costumes are beautiful. In the end, I realized that it was not a very interesting story. Thankfully, Keira Knightley and Jude Law are interesting to watch.

Wreck-it Ralph

Wreck-it Ralph is a cute story of video game characters looking for happiness in their arcade games. I saw this on the chance that it would be an Oscar nominee and it was OK. There's an alien story line that felt out of place, but on the whole this was entertaining enough.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Django Unchained

In my opinion, Quentin Tarentino is a master storyteller. He mixes drama, humor and blood in a style I really enjoy. His latest film, Django Unchained, is set in the pre-civil war south. We watch a slave be freed by a charismatic bounty hunter to find and rescue his wife. The story is lush and the characters are interesting. Christoph Waltz and Leonardo DiCaprio give fantastic performances. The blood flows freely, but there is humor as well. There is also a lot of eye candy in this film. So many shots are just beautiful tableaus. Torch-wielding men on horseback coming over a hill was a thrilling sight.  This film has been controversial for its themes and violence, but sometimes you have to say, "it's only a movie." And a good one at that.

Monday, December 24, 2012

The Fitzgerald Family Christmas

For my Christmas Eve movie this year, I was happy to see The Fitzgerald Family Christmas playing at the Cable Car Cinema. I'm a big fan of Edward Burns films, and I did not expect to see this on in a theater. In the film, the Fitzgerald family was splintered by time and their father's absence. When he reappears at Christmas, with an unreasonable request, emotions run high. Bit by bit, we meet the characters and are drawn in to their relationships. This film is well written with an outstanding cast. Burns has a flair for dialog. The story hit very close to home for me, so I left the theater a bit teary. I like it when a  film gets to me. Well done Mr. Burns.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Arbitrage

By the end of the film Arbitrage, the only note I had written was, "this is some messed up shit". Richard Gere plays a successful man, who makes some poor decisions that could destroy his world. This is a cat and mouse thriller set in the world of the wealthy with a lot to lose. The cast is strong, especially Gere and Susan Sarandon. This is a decent thriller that is worth a rental.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Salmon Fishing in the Yemen

Another film that got my attention during this award season is Salmon Fishing on the Yemen. A charming story of idealism, this one is well written and acted. Who knew that salmon fishing could be the base of an interesting story. There is a dash of politics and the film has a sense of humor. I really liked this one.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Flight

It takes a lot to get me to see a film with Denzel Washington in it. I've never been a big fan. When the movie Flight started getting award buzz, I was intrigued. What I saw was the most vulnerable performance I've seen from Denzel. The story is a strong comment on alcoholism  There are two scenes that impressed me most. One is the opening flight sequence, the other takes place in a hotel room. Very different, but Washington and Zemecus really show their skills in both. A film worth seeing. Frequent flyers may be a bit unnerved by this one.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Magic Mike

I was not interested to see a movie about male strippers in the theater. As intrigued as I was by the Steven Soderberg film Magic Mike, the subject matter made me uncomfortable. This week I watched this film in the comfort of my living room, and I kind of wish I had seen it with an audience. This is a quality film with heart and outstanding performances. I really enjoyed this film. Yes, I watched it twice, the beefcake didn't hurt.

Friday, December 07, 2012

CortandFatboy is Dead

In 2009, a popular KUFO radio duo out of Portland OR were fired. Here is how I felt. A few months later, Cort Webber and Bobby Roberts picked the show up, dusted it off and CortandFatboy ended up on the Cascadia network. Ever since, they have delivered a quality 1 hour podcast, on a daily basis, talking pop-culture, movies, music, TV, politics, video games and comics. Though entertaining in their own right, their secret weapon was the cast of regular guests they invited to join them. Ryan Fleming, David Walker, Courtenay Hameister, Byron Beck, Jim Willig, Leia Weathington and Mike Russell brought it every week. There were occasional visits from Erik Henrikson and Ryan McCluskey. It was sad when Aaron Duran had to give up his spot for employment. Every show had its own personality, its own flavor. It was delicious listening. Once a month they would assemble an interesting cast of characters to deliver a movie commentary on a classic film. Why am I referring to the show in the past-tense.? They have decided to retire the show. Sad news, but if you love these guys, you understand. Podcasting is time consuming and these guys have jobs and families. They felt it was better to go out than burn out. I get it. Tonight they are presenting their final show, a live show, at the Bagdad Theater. The audio will be available online, but I really wish I was there.

I would like to thank them for many hours of entertainment and company. I listen to them at work, cleaning the house, in the car and on my walks. For over 6 years they have given me a daily dose of smart, funny, informative conversation, mixed with the occasional diversion to poop and dick jokes. I will miss them very much. Love you guys and thanks! xoxo

Sunday, December 02, 2012

Life of Pi

I'm not a big fan of 3D, but when a respected film friend recommended that I see Life of Pi in this forma,t I took his advice. I had read the book, so I was familiar with the story. A boy is trapped on a lifeboat with a tiger after a shipwreck. I was quite impressed by the quality of the visual. Ang Lee has mastered the 3D filming well and the CGI animals were outstanding. A film that is strong enough without the 3D, but I'm glad I saw it that way.

Saturday, December 01, 2012

The Zen of Bennett

I saw Tony Bennett live at the old Warwick Musical Theater in 1996. It was a date, it was romantic, it was memorable. The Zen of Bennett is a documentary that shows a peek behind the curtain of Bennett's process with a handful of talented artists. We get the sense of his love of music, art, family and women in this film. Well done.

Sparkle

Sparkle was recommended to me because of the musical performances. I was game. Not only was this accurate, but the acting was very good as well. Kind of a typical rise to success, fall to men and drugs, sing your heart out stories, but I was very surprised by how much I liked it.

Killing Them Softly

The words I wrote down after seeing Killing Them Softly are slow, pensive, talky, bloody. These elements all go together well in this crime story that bring a corporate structure to organized crime that is not very welcome. Dark and disturbing, I liked the way this was filmed.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Peace Love & Misunderstanding

I had reservations about a film where Jane Fonda plays an aged hippie grandmother, but Peace Love & Misunderstanding was surprisingly good. Fonda shows her style and grace eloquently in this film. The plot is a bit predictable, but I'll forgive that for a nice cast giving good performances. An unexpected pleasure.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Silver Linings Playbook

Crazy people make interesting subjects in film. In Silver Linings Playbook each character carries their share of crazy. There are many levels. When Pat gets out of the hospital, he runs into crazy on a search for sanity. In the end, we realize that crazy is just people who want to be listened to. The performances in this film are outstanding and the story is heartwarming.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Sound of My Voice

When a journalist and his girlfriend infiltrate a cult to make a film, they are pulled into a mystery they did not expect. Sound of My Voice is a good thriller with a mystery and  twist I enjoyed.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Abraham Lincoln:Vampire Hunter

If you see Lincoln first, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter is highly entertaining. With the history fresh in my mind, introducing vampires to Lincoln's life story was fun. Bloody, but fun. Do not mess with Mary Todd. I was surprised by how much I liked this one.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Lincoln

As a child, I was obsessed with the life story of Abraham Lincoln. I even dressed as him one Halloween. In the film Lincoln he is depicted exactly as I imagined him. The words he speaks in the film are written by one of my favorite writers, Tony Kushner. It is poetic and mesmerizing. The politics surrounding the 13th amendment are fascinating and at times disturbing. A star studded cast brings this time in history to the screen quite masterfully. Well done.

The Sessions

In the film The Sessions, Mark O'Brien relies on an iron lung due to a childhood bout with polio. He wants to experience sex, and goes about it with a sex surrogate. He not only gets help from the the surrogate, but also his care-givers and friends. Even his priest. This story is as much about the relationships Mark has as it is about sex. The dialogue is smart, funny and honest. Such a good story based on a real man.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Skyfall

Skyfall is a dynamic dance, masterfully choreographed to a dramatic soundtrack, punctuated by gunfire. Bond is back, and we learn more of his background as he and MI6 battle a sadistic villain. We get to know the characters better in this installation and the music carries us through the action sequences beautifully. There are many nostalgic nods to past Bond films, which had me grinning in the dark. The chase scenes and crazy final act make this a solid addition to the 007 film dynasty. Skyfall is a wonderful celebration of 50 years of Bond. Loved it!

Friday, November 16, 2012

2 Days in New York

Back in the spring, my daughter and I stood in a rush line for 2 hours to see 2 Days in New York. We did not get in to see the film. Out in DVD, I finally got to see this comedy. Adeptly written and directed by Julie Delpy, we see the chaos caused by a visit from Marion's family. It is delicious. Would have been worth the wait in NYC, but I was just as happy to see it at home. Well done.

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Prometheus

The story in the movie Prometheus is full of holes and there's a lot of hokey acting, but this film is so gorgeous it made it worth watching. Glad I did.

Sunday, November 04, 2012

Cloud Atlas

Brilliant editing, intricate makeup and stories that span centuries and generations make for an intriguing film in Cloud Atlas. The stories are easy to follow and the editing carries us along on this journey. Film as art can be very satisfying.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Strangers on a Train

In anticipation of Halloween, I thought I'd revisit a few Hitchcock films, and realized I have never seen Strangers on a Train. Taught and suspenseful, we watch a psychotic man haunt a man after an accidental connection. Murder is on the plate as we watch a well crafted cat and mouse game. There is a fantastic action sequence at the end that I did not expect. Well done.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Robot & Frank

A future story of dealing with ageing parents with technology is interesting. In Robot & Frank, Frank Langella is masterful as an ailing thief who has done is time and is living out his years in his own home. His son sends a robot to care for his father when his health begins to decline. Susan Sarandon is genuine as a local woman who is kind to Frank and accepts the progress and technology. There is a nice twist at the end. I liked this film.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

The Perks of Being a Wallflower

As a young adult drama The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a strong film. Well written, generous performances and a story with many facets and familiar emotions. I loved Ezra Miller in City Island, Beware the Gonzo and We Need to Talk about Kevin, and in this film he just shines. Music plays an important part in the story and the soundtrack is rich. I liked this film a lot.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Argo

Argo is one of the best films I've seen this year. The events surrounding the mission to free six American diplomats from Iran in 1980 is suspenseful, tense and scary as hell. Ben Affleck stars and directs. He builds the tension so well, combining news footage with strong character development. He constructs a chase scene in this film that had me holding my breath. So well done, excellent film.

Seven Psychopaths

The quest to write a film about Seven Psychopaths is a bloody journey. I saw Christopher Walken and Sam Rockwell on stage in  Martin McDonagh's Behanding in Spokane two years ago. They reunite with Martin here, with Woody Harrellson and Colin Farrell, to create a motley crew. They kidnaps dogs for cash as Farrell tries to write a screenplay. The crime caper vibe is strong. Rockwell gives one of his finest performances. Animated and obviously in love with the script, his screen time is magical. The third act is a little slow, but the rest of the film makes this forgivable. I'd like to see this film again. Very entertaining.

Monday, October 08, 2012

Frankenweekie

In Frankenweenie I did not expect a sweet story with a dash of creepy. Tim Burton combines the two well. There are many nods to classic horror films that are very well placed. Keep your eyes open in the pet cemetery for subtle chuckles. This film will find a place in my DVD collection.

The Master

Amazing performances and gorgeous, long close ups are the strengths of The Master. When a young man suffering from PTSD, finds a home in a cult, there is compassion, struggle and conflict. A complicated piece with beautiful images and a moving sound track.

Sunday, October 07, 2012

Tim Russert

Cleaning out a bunch of drafts, I came across this one from 2008. I still feel the same.

June 2008
It has taken me a while to digest the news of Tim Russert's sudden death for few reasons. He's one of those pleasant fixtures on television that has been so dependable, how could he suddenly be gone? Also, my father suffered a heart attack the week before (he's ok). It was all a bit surreal. I have been a fan of Russert's dedication to his family, his job, his audience and living life to the fullest. I am also grateful for the appearance of Mr. Russert in the, yet to be released, Mr. Rogers & Me. When I saw the first trailer for this film, I was struck by his enthusiasm, respect and appreciation of the work of Fred Rogers. I'm glad he gave the Wagners a bit of his time and insight. We are all better for the influence of Tim Russert, I hope I can keep his attitude in mind.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Looper

Looper is what a sci-fi film should be. Set in two futures, time travel has been outlawed, so the mob uses it to eliminate undesirables. The makeup used to make the young-old characters resemble each other is excellent, along with the performances. How the events in one time effect the other is fascinating and special effects are used well. I liked this film.

Monday, September 03, 2012

Lawless

The story of a family making a living from moonshine in depression era, rural Virginia is warm, violent, and driven. In Lawless we meet the Bondurant family who run a successful business running moonshine during prohibition. When greed and ambition kick in trouble follows. There are even a few love stories woven into the plot. The violence is incredibly bloody, but warranted. This film is well acted and shot. An interesting story. I liked this film.

Saturday, September 01, 2012

The Imposter

There are people who have no problem lying to get what they want. Money, fame and, yes, love. In the documentary The Imposter a young man assumes the identity of a missing boy to gain access to the US and a family that will love him. Crazy story, and it's true! I liked the structure and editing in this documentary as well. Nice job.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Sleepwalk with Me

A few weeks ago I received an e-mail from IFC Center inviting me to a screening of Sleepwalk With Me, with Q&As with Mike Birbiglia and Ira Glass at every screening. Every screening! Turned out I was going to be in NYC that weekend so I called the kids, bought tickets and jumped on the PR band wagon. Birbiglia and Glass were very generous with interviews. With a small advertising budget, they used social media and public radio to promote the film, along with the weekend event in NY. We arrived at the theater around 3 to retrieve tickets for the 4:00 show. They were already setting up the line. We went around the corner to a small pub for a drink and came back to the theater around 3:30 to join the line. The IFC staff sweetly offered my 8 month pregnant daughter a seat in the theater (which she declined) Thank you. We sat second row in the beautiful main theater and my son-in-law immediately said, "what is that pinned to the curtain?" The film was charming, funny and heartfelt. After the credits Ira Glass and Mike Birbiglia took the stage. Obviously stoked by two days of sold out shows, they were friendly, chatty and generous with their time. The 25 minute Q&A explained that the thing pinned to the curtain was the first dollar made by the film. In the end, we decided that the Q&A was as good as the movie. A wonderful film, a wonderful time. PS I saw the film again a few weeks later. Holds up to multiple viewings.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

ParaNorman

Going into ParaNorman I thought it was just another goofy kid's monster movie. But this wonderful film from the folks at Laika has heart, smarts and humor. Themes of belonging, family and bravery are handled well, and with a sense of humor.  I loved this film and can't wait until my grandchildren are old enough to share this film with me.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Ruby Sparks

What would happen if you could write your dream girl? This question is answered in the film Ruby Sparks. Imaginative story, beautifully shot, well acted. I liked the dark turn the story takes, and the ending is very satisfying for me. The music did its work, I liked the score. Well done

Sunday, August 12, 2012

The Intouchables

Watching the trailer, I had a feeling that The Intouchables would be one of my favorite films this year. Seeing the film today, I was right. The story of an invalid and his caretaker is a story of growth, love and living life despite your limitations. Based on a true story, this film is well written, acted and shot. Well done.

Beasts of the Southern Wild

Beasts of the Southern Wild is a poetic story of a young girl coping with a difficult life. The scenes move from fantasy to reality like a dance. Her reality is harsh, but she is strong for such a little girl. I really liked this film about survival.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Margaret

In Margaret I found a very unlikable female character. Lisa is an intelligent teenager with a very self righteous attitude. A brilliant performance by Anna Paquin is a character study of a girl whose careless actions have dire consequences. To make herself feel better, she lies, points fingers at others and acts drastically on issues that are none of her business. Her sexuality plays a part that shows how confused and self-involved teenagers are. This film is also an interesting study of NYC through visuals and the character's attitudes. The editing is a bit choppy and this film is long, but this is a fascinating piece.

Friday, August 03, 2012

Conan the Barbarian (1982)

I've always thought that my timeline for seeing Conan the Barbarian was never. Once again, the discussion of the film on Cort & Fatboy, sucked me in to a movie I've never had any interest in. With a plate of tots, a cold lager and a very funny commentary, I would declare The Summer of Schwarzenegger a success. Thanks guys.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

The Dark Knight Rises

What did I love about The Dark Knight Rises?

Christian Bale brought a heart to Bruce Wayne I had yet to see.
Anne Hathaway killed it and should get an award for best eye roll.
The Bat-cycle is sick, and gave me glee on every turn.
Michael Caine is an actor for all time.
Bane intimidated with every neck-crack.
Cameo from Scarecrow was fantastic.
Gary Oldman deserves every penny they paid him..
Joseph Gordan-Levitt has become a bonafide movie star.
Marion Coltiard melded class, strength and revenge so well.
Nolan wrote an intricate story and placed it in a dramatic setting.
Zimmer's score played every emotion to a tee.
This felt like a comic book movie.

Loved this film, loved the trilogy. Thanks to all for so much work and a lovely payoff!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Take This Waltz

Take This Waltz was a bit of an emotional gut-punch for me. I don't do well with the themes of unsatisfying marriage and infidelity. I did appreciate the adage of, "everything new becomes old." Well written, acted and filmed. Sarah Silverman turns in an especially poignant and powerful performance. I really liked her character. Worth a look.

Friday, July 06, 2012

The Terminator

The next installment in the Summer of Schwarzenegger Cort & Fatboy Midnight Movie series is The Terminator. A young, naked Schwarzenegger, all kinds of skull crushing robots and a little bit of 80s lovin', makes for and entertaining sci-fi ride. The commentary is a fun accompaniment.

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

The Amazing Spider-man

Spider-man's origin story is revisited with a new cast and crew in The Amazing Spider-man. I really liked the performances, and the story got a little tweak that I enjoyed. The chemistry between Emma Stone and Andrew Garfield was authentic and fun to watch. The web-slinging scenes gave me that roller coaster feeling in my stomach. Well done.

Sunday, July 01, 2012

Ted

Ted is funny, raunchy, funny, sweet, funny, smart, raunchy and funny. Not for the kids. Loved it.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Your Sister's Sister

A unique set of circumstances beCheck Spellingtween sisters and a friend create a love triangle like I've never seen before. Your Sister's Sister is a well written, beautifully acted drama. I liked this film.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Brave

In the latest Pixar offering, Brave, a young girl stands up for herself and is seen as difficult. When a wish goes bad there is drama and misunderstanding. An intense fight scene makes this one a no-go for little ones. The plot gets a bit complicated, but the animation and music are gorgeous.

Saturday, June 02, 2012

Bernie

Bernie is a golden-tonged opportunist. When it works for him all is well. When it doesn't, he snaps and his world unravels. Based on a true story, this was an interesting film.

Moonrise Kingdom

Moonrise Kingdom is the most charming film I've seen this year. In Wes Anderson's familiar pallet, we see two young people search for love, maturity and acceptance. An outstanding cast and familiar RI locations made this film a home run for me.

Friday, June 01, 2012

Total Recall (1990)

Starting out The Summer of Schwarzenegger in the Cort & Fatboy Midnight Movie series is Total Recall. I would never have watched this film on my own. With the guidance of a commentary and a few micro-brews I found this sci-fi ride to be a lot of fun.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Chico & Rita

In Chico & Rita, the animation is gorgeous, the music is fantastic. The story? That Rita is one crazy, opportunistic bitch. Could not warm up to her at all. Best animated cat fight though. Worth a look.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Men in Black 3

Nicole Scherzinger and a fabulous pair of Louboutins in the open scene of Men in Black 3, sets a fantastic tone for the film. The third in the Men in Black series is funny, poignant and action packed. The creature effects are entertaining and I really enjoyed the effects. I was surprised by a little emotional twist near the end. A nice addition to the series and a fun ride for the summer.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Newlyweds

Take a walk through Tribeca with the drama of Newlyweds, Ed Burns' latest love letter to New York. A newlywed couple has to deal with ex-spouses, siblings and the every day of their new life together. Well done.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Pariah

The film Pariah is a familiar story with amazing performances. When the woman who beat you says, "I hope you keep yourself safe", I just shake my head. I am not running, I am choosing. A powerful film I really liked.

Saturday, May 05, 2012

The Avengers

I love a good action film. I love a good super-hero film. With 5 previous films, Marvel has set up the assembly of The Avengers. Captain America, Iron Man, The Hulk, Thor, Hawkeye and Black Widow join forces with S.H.I.E.L.D. to save the world. This movie is full of eye candy. Every hero gets their moment to shine. And did I mention crazy, super-villains? The action is fantastic, and so is this movie. Stay after the credits to be reminded that super-hero movies have a sense of humor. Well done.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Tribeca Film Festival 2012

For the last 9 years I have used vacation time to attend the Tribeca Film Festival. NYC and time spent with film and film makers is a great use of time off. This year, other obligations have occupied my free days, so I could not swing week day attendance. Because this would be my 10th year attending, I decided to be happy with one day at the festival. Weekend tickets are the hardest to procure, and I failed to have tickets before I arrived in NY. I decided to take my chances on the Rush Line.
I arrived in Brooklyn on Friday night, as my daughter Liza agreed to accompany me on my Saturday adventure. We had a delicious dinner at Superfine and went to bed early. Saturday morning, the air was crisp, but the rain had stopped and we walked the dogs in DUMBO before taking the train into the east Village. Now the TFF website recommends you arrived 45 minutes before the film to line up for Rush Tickets. 15 minutes before the movie, they count the empty seats and sell the remaining tickets. In my experience, if you are within the first 30 people in line, you have a pretty good chance of getting in. We arrived at 10:50am for a 12:00 screening of 2 Days in NY and we were 22nd & 23rd in line. People who arrived 45 min ahead, looked bewildered at the almost 100 people in line at that point. The staff member organizing the line was continually warning us that the night before, there were 125 people in the Rush Line for 2 Days in Paris and not one person got in. Wow. We had a spot in the sun, the people around us in line were pleasant, we had a plan B and a positive attitude. As noon approached, a few people near the front of the line happily went into the theater, but when we were around #10 they told us there were no more seats, and the film would be in theaters in August.
Plan B went into motion as we made our way across the street for lunch at Smith. After lunch we got back in the subway and went cross-town to check out the Family Street Fair. Strollers, street performers, music, popcorn and cupcakes filled Greenwich St. The hour before we were to get in another line was spent at Church Bar, one of of my faves in the lobby of the Tribeca Grand. Arriving at Tribeca Cinema at 2:40 for a 4 pm film, we were still about 20th in line for Knuckleball! The best part was waiting with a Mets fan. Happily, we got into the film, sat front row for the first time in years. Small theater, small screen, it worked. Excellent documentary. After the film we had a little time to kill, so we went to Nancy Whiskey for a quick beverage before meeting my friend Randi for dinner at Bread Tribeca. Dinner was delicious.
On the cab ride back to Brooklyn, Liza and I declared the day a success, and another year at Tribeca Film Festival was in the books. A wonderful time.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

The Cabin in the Woods

Since January I have been reading accolades for The Cabin in the Woods. Early on I was warned to go in as fresh as possible. My most trusted film folks said that the less you know, the more you will enjoy the film. I went as far as sticking my fingers in my ears at the airport last week when the entertainment reporters came on the monitors to review the film. Today I finally saw it fresh, and it was glorious! A clever, gory, wonderful horror film. Read the reviews after you see the film. I loved it!

Sunday, April 08, 2012

The Best Man

Months ago I read about The Best Man being revived on Broadway. When i looked at the stellar cast, I figured I'd never get near that show. Fast forward to my last visit to Brooklyn, an easy wait in the TKTS line and voila, we were going to see the show. The theater was done up in campaign regalia, the highlight performances were James Earl Jones and Angela lands bury (the senior members of the cast) and we had a big night on Broadway. Pretty awesome.

Sunday, April 01, 2012

Being Flynn

Being Flynn is the poignant story of a young man trying to find his way without his father. On tht way, he runs into his father. This film is based on a memoir and is treated with honesty, dignity, humor and love.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

The Hunger Games

The plot synopsis of teens in a futuristic fight to the death does not make The Hunger Games sound very appealing. But the strength of the story and performances make this a futuristic adventure film worth seeing. Brutal and a bit bizarre, it is a solid start to this film series.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

We Need to Talk About Kevin

The disturbing events in We Need to Talk About Kevin are a parent's nightmare. Kevin is unruly from birth. We watch his Mother struggle to love him and deal with his outrageous behavior. This film is painful and disturbing, but a powerful drama.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Carnage

An altercation between two kids, brings their parents together in Carnage. What starts out as a civilized problem solving session, deteriorates to a volatile feud fueled by anger and alcohol. The dialogue and performances are enthralling. I really liked this film.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Jeff, Who Lives at Home

In one day, Jeff, Who Lives at Home follows the signs he needs to find his purpose. I thought this film was a poignant statement on being in the right place at the right time in so many ways. Well written with great performances. Worth a look.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Silent House

Inside a house, a young girl hears noises and is terrified. Silent House is a thriller that works with suspense and what you don't see. Where is the threat? What causes the fear? Learning where the monsters are is the most frightening. Good thriller.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

The Skin I Live In

Science fiction meets horror in The Skin I Live In. Modern technology mixed with old architecture creates a mood of elegance and peril. Revenge is creative if you are a plastic surgeon. This thriller/horror flick is a crazy ride I really liked.

Friday, March 09, 2012

The Lorax

The environmental message in Dr. Seuss' The Lorax gets a little extra zip in the big screen adaptation. An an expanded story line brings a bit of peril and adventure for older viewers. The animation and music will please the younger audience. I'm happy to have shared this one with my Grandson.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

A Dangerous Method

The early years of modern psychoanalysis are chronicled in A Dangerous Method. Carl Jung and Sigmund Freud work to treat a young woman, who's recovery is rather remarkable. All three characters have ugly sides, but it's and interesting, true story. Another film with excellent performances.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Shame

In the film Shame, I realized that sex addiction is a dangerous form of self-abuse. Not a happy drama about a man and his sister who struggle to find happiness and fail. Great performances, but it's a sad story.

Friday, February 17, 2012

How to Die in Oregon

When a well structured documentary takes on the subject of medically assisted suicide, it is a rough, emotional ride. How to Die in Oregon is heartfelt, yet frightening in our attitudes toward life and death. It's a tough issue, with some eye-opening stories.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Sunday, February 12, 2012

A Separation

In any altercation there is Story A, Story B and the truth. In A Separation we start with a family struggling with the realities of life. Add an unfortunate incident, desperate motivations and a struggle to find the truth and we've got a drama that is heartbreaking and compelling. The tone of the screenplay borders on a crime thriller. Incidents are exaggerated, information is left out, the facts come together a bit like a puzzle, but we never quite see the whole picture. Excellent film with a deep emotional core.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Chronicle

Chronicle delivers on drama and thrills. Three teens acquire super-human powers. They use them as any teenager would. Emotions run high and things get out of hand. Their adventures start out joyful, but end on a cataclysmic note. Great effects and cool story.

Thursday, February 09, 2012

Q&A Young Adult

A wonderful peek behind the curtain of her process. Diablo Cody in a Q&A for Young Adult.
(don't let the lighting distract you)

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Q&A Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

The folks over at the Arclight got a few principles from Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy to talk about the film. Interesting insights to an interesting film. Have a look.

Gary Oldman
Mark Strong
Thomas Alfredson

Sunday, February 05, 2012

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

I saw the film Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close because of its Oscar nominations. In the wake of 9/11 an unlikable kid deals with the death of his father with a strange quest for the origin of a mysterious key. His Mother is even less likable, and the story was unlikely. This is a frustrating movie that could have used some editing to make it easier to swallow. Best Picture? I think not.

Saturday, February 04, 2012

Albert Nobbs

The film Albert Nobbs is a story of identity, gender, survival and social mores. The wants and longings are heartbreaking. The outcomes are as well. Janet McTeer's performance grounded the film. The more I think about it, the more I like it.

Friday, February 03, 2012

Rio

I think that having small grandchildren has made me hyper-sensitive to stories told in animated films. I rented Rio because it is nominated for an Oscar for the song Real in Rio. The animation is beautiful and the music is lively and catchy. The story is scary, weird and in some ways, perverted. I think it is too intense for little ones, but that's just me.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Restless

Restless is a gentle story about death, illness, coping and love. There is a joy and optimism in a situation that is not very happy or optimistic. Well done.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Real Steel

The movie Real Steel is "dumb as a bag of hammers." I don't get the Oscar nom for visual effects. There was one scene that might qualify. That is all.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Pina

The documentary Pina is a loving tribute to the German choreographer Pina Bausch. The innovation, beauty and strength made this a wonderful visual experience. This is the second film I've seen in 3D this season, and it was definitely worth it. Lovely.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Haywire

Haywire is a stylistic look at espionage, black ops, betrayal and survival. The camera work is brilliant, fight scenes are brutal and the ending is very satisfying. Gina Carano makes one hell of a debut. Nice start for the films of 2012.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Downton Abbey

Trapped by a snow storm, here in New England, I was looking for entertainment. I've been reading and hearing so much about Downton Abbey, and found that the first season is on Netflix Instant. Done and done 7 episodes. This series is the best of melodrama, aristocracy, servants, rules, passion, anger and secrets. Delicious. Anyone following their emotions is squashed like a bug. Love the dialogue, costumes and pluck. Masterpiece and PBS deliver once again.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

The Artist

It's hard to believe that a silent, black and white film can be as joyful, dramatic and entertaining as The Artist. Skillfully acted, artfully staged and beautifully scored. Some of the music swells reminded me of Raiders of the Lost Ark and Beauty and the Beast. The use of stairs as a set piece adds to the the visual drama, along with Dujardin's smile. I was a skeptic going in and a fan coming out. See it!

The Iron Lady

Once again, Meryl Streep brings her acting skills to a real life biopic. This time as Margaret Thatcher in The Iron Lady. The central story shows Thatcher in the present, with declining health and mental faculties. This felt a bit invasive to me. The history is done in flashbacks, I like the way the time line is presented. Another OK film with great performances.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy is a slow, subtle spy thriller. A bit confusing, but this is another film where the performances forgive all the flaws of the structure.

War Horse

War Horse gives us a dramatic, visual war film. The World War I story is a bit hokey and melodramatic. Near the end, there was a comic scene that was a bit Monty Python. Very odd. I listened to an interview with Steven Spielberg about this scene, and was glad to know that the barbed wire they used was plastic. It's hard for me to watch horses in peril. Beautifully shot, but the story didn't do it for me.

Friday, January 06, 2012

Favorite Films of 2011

I've seen most of what I'm going to see of the films of 2011, so I'm ready to make my favorites list.

I have two honorable mentions.

Mister Rogers and Me is a documentary about Fred Rogers, and the message he was trying to spread. Benjamin and Christofer Wagner made a film that addresses treating people right and healthy media consumption. The New York Premiere was in October, and I was thrilled to have my daughter join me for this deep and simple film.

Also, Joni Derouchie made a documentary about Cort & Fatboy called Welcome to that Whole Thing. A little peek behind the curtain of my favorite podcast.

My original favorites list for 2011 was 40 films strong, but I whittled it down to 11. These are the films I enjoyed this year.

1. Midnight in Paris was such a breath of fresh air. A bit different, a bit the same. So charming I saw it twice.
2. Seeing The Muppets with my grandson and daughter meant that 3 generations enjoyed this nostalgia bath. The tone of the film stayed true to Muppet lore, yet gave a dash of new for a very fun film. My grandson is still listening to the sound track daily.
3. Attack the Block could be my favorite alien film in a long time. Well shot, cool effects, good story.
4. Drive is moody, menacing and violent.
5. The Artist combines joy with song with success with discouragement with joy with success.
6. Super is a creative turn on vigilante justice.
7. In Martha Marcy May Marlene we watch a girl sink into mental illness despite efforts not to.
8. Bill Cunningham New York chronicles a man's passion for photography, fashion and lifestyle.
9. Moneyball tells the story of a business model that took a lot of courage.
10. Hanna is a beautifully shot action thriller about survival.
11. Mission Impossible - Ghost Protocol is the best action movie of 2011. IMAX was the perfect outlet for this.

A dominant theme this year was OK movies with fantastic performances. Other films I liked this year? Rubber, Source Code, Rango, Super 8, Everything Must Go, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Harry Potter, Janie Jones, Sing Your Song, Rid of Me, Bellfower, Trollhunter, Jane Eyre, Contagion, Being Elmo, Hugo and Winnie the Pooh. On to the films of 2012!!


Monday, January 02, 2012

The Adventures of Tintin

There's good motion capture animation, and there's bad motion capture animation. Often the characters take on a creepy look. The Adventures of Tintin refines the technology to the point where the film looks great. Yes, it's good motion capture. Along with 3D, it really has an interesting depth, and everything looks very real. It's a fun story, and the characters are introduced well. There are many references to previous Spielberg films. Most noticeable, Raiders of the Lost Ark and Jaws. The chase scenes were thrilling and the pirate battles rocked. No lack of action here. A fun family film, but the children should probably be older, there is a lot of gun-play and perilous situations. I really liked this one.

Sherlock Holmes:A Game of Shadows

Sherlock Holmes:A Game of Shadows is very much the same as the first Sherlock Holmes movie. Likable characters, funny moments, action, creative action shots. Not bad, not great. It was a packed theater and people seemed to enjoy the film.

Sunday, January 01, 2012

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011)

I loved the Swedish version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. The American version is a close cousin, with an ending that did not carry the same emotion as the first. The performances and cinematography were very good. The score masterfully carries the viewer through the action. I liked this film, and I may have liked it more if I didn't have such a recent version in my head. Well done.