Sunday, December 10, 2017

Brigsby Bear

In the film Brigsby Bear we meet James. James is a young adult who has lived in a manufactured environment his whole life. When he is rescued from his abduction, he must learn socialization skills. He meets peers who help him along, and he brings the persona of Brigsby Bear. He is passionate, creative and innocent. This film is interesting, quirky and sweet. I liked this film.

Wednesday, December 06, 2017

Logan Lucky

The classic heist film takes a twist in Logan Lucky with a great cast. A family who is famous for having bad luck, develop an elaborate scheme to rob a race track. The characters are interesting, sometimes funny, and there is a heart at the center of it all. This was a decent rental. I found it entertaining.

Monday, December 04, 2017

Meghan Levy

Most war stories involve men. In Megan Levey we meet soldiers that are canine and female. Levey is the handler of a bomb sniffing dog. The young Marine takes her job seriously, but struggles to be take seriously by her coworkers and family. Rex has behavior issues, but becomes a hero. I liked this story. I liked this film.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Wizard of Lies

At the final line of Wizard of Lies I answered "yes." Bernie Madoff was a monster who belongs in jail, this film is his story. The largest Ponzi scheme in history unfolds in an alarming fashion. The performances are excellent, but what a sad story. Glad I saw it, but pretty depressing.

The Little Hours

The delight of an outrageous story set in 1347 in a convent is the ride I took with the film The Little Hours. When a man hides out with a group of young nuns, posing as a mute, there is plenty of room for dark comedy. The performances in this are outstanding, there are so many talented actors in this cast. I'd like to watch this one again.

Monday, November 27, 2017

The Hitman's Bodyguard

Chasing, shooting, revenge and crime are all on point in The Hitman's Bodyguard. That a hit-man needs a bodyguard sort of cracks me up. This is not high drama, but the action is worth watching. I was entertained by this film.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Lady Bird

The film Lady Bird left me with feelings of hope. Hope for growth, hope for acceptance, hope for assistance, hope for love. The relationships explored in this film are real, honest and heartfelt. Lady Bird finds her way through her senior year of high school with passion and determination. I heard this film described as a photo album and I couldn't agree more. The performances are outstanding. I wasn't the only one in the theater crying. One of the best films of the year.

Friday, November 24, 2017

Crown Heights

When a man is unjustly imprisoned, his friend works on his behalf to prove his innocence. The events and time frame of Crown Heights are compelling. The performances are strong. The story is frustrating and true.A good rental.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Lemon

At first I was charmed by the film Lemon. As the story unfolds an unlikable vibe grows. I like this cast, but what they had to play out was disappointing. I really did not like this film.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Wonderstruck

My daughter recommended the film Wonderstruck to me saying, "this is your kind of film." First of all I'm so pleased that I have a film "type", second, she was right. Two characters' stories are told in different time periods, and converge at the end. The look of each is different, and there is an audio element that figures in. The story takes place in and around New York City and where they meet is very nice. The less you know going in is helpful and I will be visiting the Queens Museum of Art in this coming year. Lovely film.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Murder on the Orient Express

My Dad wanted to see Murder on the Orient Express so we saw it in the theater. This probably would have been a rental for me. The Agatha Christie story is well told with a stellar cast. The story is a bit contrived and overly complicated, but an effort is made to make it understandable. This film is beautifully shot, artistically edited and a pleasure to look at. As my Dad said, "I loved that train!" I'm glad that I saw it on a big screen.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Girls Trip

I enjoyed the movie Girl's Trip but man is it long! This would have been a fun film at around an hour and a half, but it is over two hours long. The fun of a girls trip, with serious situations running underneath, spends a little too much time on the serious. The silly is fun and the cast is great. It's a decent rental, though I heard that seeing it in the theater was a lot of fun.

Wakefield

In Wakefield a man reaches his breaking point and hides out in the garage over his house. The film is his narration of the aftermath of his disappearance, as he watches his family and friends. In some situations he is pleased, in others not so much. Bryan Cranston is great. This is an interesting take on relationships and how the world and those in it are perceived. Well done.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri

Themes of grief, guilt and anger ring true in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri. The actions and reactions to blatant racism and domestic abuse are severe. The acting is excellent, but it is an often uncomfortable story with an ambiguous ending.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

The Lost City of Z

World exploration in the 1920s was arduous and difficult. The search for The Lost City of Z shows that struggle. The run time is much too long and the story is not that interesting. The locations are beautiful. It is a pretty film.

Thursday, November 09, 2017

The Glass Castle

An unconventional family is at the center of The Glass Castle.The eccentric parents want to pursue their creative dreams, while all the kids want is stability. There are many times that the children are at risk and their long game is a patient, practical plan. This is based on a true story, which makes it a bit disturbing. The film is a decent rental.

Tuesday, November 07, 2017

Mask

In preparation for listening to the new podcast Movie Crush, I re-watched Mask. I'm pretty sure I saw it in the theater in 1984, but it's been a long time since I've seen it. The story of Rocky and Rusty Dennis made me smile from beginning to end. The director's cut included the music Bogdonavich originally intended. This is a story of hope, resilience and family. I'm happy for the re-watch.

Sunday, November 05, 2017

Restless Creature: Wendy Whelan

The ballerina Wendy Whelan is naturally gifted, hard working and devoted to the art of ballet. In the documentary Restless Creature: Wendy Whelan we learn how she deals with an injury and aging in an art form that is so physically demanding. She is positive, tenacious and determined to continue dancing. It is inspiring to watch. I liked this documentary a lot.

Saturday, November 04, 2017

Thor: Ragnarok

There is a level of entertainment in Thor: Ragnarok that reminds me of why I love superhero movies. There is action, humor, story and a wink at past and future characters. There are also some very clever cameo appearances. I like what they did with this Avengers story. Lots of fun.

Thursday, November 02, 2017

Person to Person

The stories of people in Brooklyn plays out over the course of a day in Person to Person. Some of the people are cocky, some are tentative, some are innocent, some are guilty. Their stories are OK, but the pace of this film is a bit slow. Truthfully some of the people weren't' very interesting at all. A bit boring in spots. I liked the cast and I recognized a lot of the locations. This was an  OK rental.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales

All the fun, adventure, humor and style of this franchise has disappeared in Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales. The charm and chemistry of the characters in the past films is non-existent in this one. Even the effects are wooden and disappointing.I'm so glad that I did not see this movie in the theater.

Monday, October 30, 2017

The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson

The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson is a story of transgender history, cold-case mystery and advocacy. Stories like this need to be told.

Friday, October 27, 2017

My Cousin Rachel

Mystery and murder in My Cousin Rachel is masked by a quaint period setting. Knowing nothing going into the film is best. There is intrigue, mystery and revenge. Good film.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Personal Shopper

The title of Personal Shopper does the film no favors. Yes, the main character's profession is a personal shopper, but her relationships and experience are the heart of the film.She has lost her twin brother and she a medium. Mysterious things happen and there is a crime element. I think that grief underlies her experience. A complex, thoughtful film.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

GAGA: Five Foot Two

If you like behind the scenes music drama then Gaga: Five Foot Two is your documentary. Lady Gaga takes the camera backstage and we see her stress, her dealing with an injury, making an album and the support of the team she has around her. The culmination is her performance at The Superbowl. She allows herself to be seen as vulnerable, hard working and strong. A quiet, intimate documentary.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Quick Change

A bank robbery and a little romance fuel the action in Quick Change.It's the 90s in NYC and a ragtag crew pull off a clever bank robbery. Things go wrong and the chase is on. This performance driven heist comedy was very satisfying. Well done.

Monday, October 23, 2017

The Meyerowitz Stories

Three siblings share their point of view of their respective childhoods in The Meyerowitz Stories. Strong performances and poignant memories are shared and compared. When their father falls ill they are forced to cooperate and care for a man who was not very nice to them. This is a good family drama I really enjoyed.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Stronger

In the film Stronger we get the story of Jeff Bauer. When he went to the Boston Marathon in 2013 to cheer on his girlfriend at the finish line, he was in direct line of the bomber and lost his legs. He is an average guy working at Costco whose life is changed forever. He becomes a celebrity and he struggles to be comfortable with that. Gritty and realistic, this is quite a story and quite a film.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Professor Marston and the Wonder Women

If you are going to make a film about the origins of the origins of Wonder Woman you turn to the 20s. Professor Marston and the Wonder Women shows us that exploration of psychological theories can lead to love and lust. Professor Marston and his wife take on a young assistant and their relationship turns poly-amorous. This is a progressive lifestyle for the times. When the professor discovers super heroes he creates a female superhero to illustrate his theories. There are heavy themes of dominance and kink which are not received well by the general public and morality police. This is an interesting story based on true events and I learned that the professor's son had Wonder Woman Museum nearby in CT. Thoughtful film.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Victoria and Abdul

My father wanted to see Victoria and Abdul so we went on a rainy Sunday afternoon and it was sold out! In Rhode Island! Good news for the film, bad for us. The next week I bought tickets ahead of time and we made it in to the theater. We were treated to a lovely yet brutal depiction of aristocratic England in the late 1800s. Victoria was queen and it looked like a bore. When she meets Abdul she is taken with his friendly demeanor. To keep him around, she assigned him as her teacher (munshi) to teach her the language and ways of India. This did not go well with her staff and family and she often had to use "because I am the queen" to advocate for Abdul. The queen embraced the culture and she and Abdul were great friends. There is a lot of drama in this story. The performances in this film are great and it is beautifully filmed. There is a lot of emotion too. (My Dad cried.) Nice film

Friday, October 13, 2017

The Autopsy of Jane Doe

I'm not a huge fan of horror, but The Autopsy of Jane Doe has been on my list since Tribeca Film Festival. A father and son work in a mortuary and the arrival of Jane Doe brings unexpected problems as they try to solve the mystery behind her death. The performances and special effects are good. Smart and creepy. Graphic and gruesome. I liked this film.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

The Great Dictator

The movie podcast Movie BS with Bayer and Snider talks about a classic movie each month. For November, the film is The Great Dictator. I've only seen Charlie Chaplin's silent work, so this one was interesting. Amazing to think that this film was made in 1940 and had the latitude to satirize the Nazis. The parallels to today's situations are amazing. Poking fun at attitudes and politics works well. The storm trooper's actions often looked like scenes we see in the news today. I really liked the characters and the physical comedy. Chaplin's time in silent films is used well in this film.

Monday, October 09, 2017

Jerry Before Seinfeld

After seeing The Comedian, a documentary where Jerry Seinfeld agonizes over putting together an hour of material, I have always  marveled at the art of stand up comedy. 15 years later, it is refreshing to watch the ease Seinfeld shows in his new special, Jerry Before Seinfeld. If he still feels angst and stress, it is invisible in this show. An hour and 2 minutes of stories, reminiscence and observation are delivered with laughs earned from great material and impeccable timing. Comedy at it's best.

Saturday, October 07, 2017

Battle of the Sexes

I was 17 when Bobby Riggs challenged Billie Jean King to a tennis match. King had been advocating for equal pay for female tennis players on the pro circuit. For Riggs it was a publicity stunt and was about the money and attention. For King it was a platform to demonstrate strength and dignity for women in the sport. The film  Battle of the Sexes is a decent depiction of the event and those times. It delves into King and Riggs' relationships off the court as well. It did a good job stirring up the anger and frustration I feel when experiencing sexism. The film made me cry. Sexism makes me cry.I liked this film.

Wednesday, October 04, 2017

A Ghost Story

The film A Ghost Story can be frustrating to watch. The soundless chronicle of a spirit moving through life moving on with out him takes getting used to. If you rent the DVD, I would recommend watching the making-of feature to understand the film maker's intentions. A quiet, thoughtful film.

Sunday, October 01, 2017

The Room

For many years I have heard The Room referred to as the worst movie ever made. I don't know if that's true, but it's sure in the running. This is probably the worst acting I've ever seen, the story is lame and the sets look like a bad soap-opera. I'm glad that I saw this so that I will have a frame of reference when I see The Disaster Artist, but once was enough. I'm not sure how people can watch it over and over again, though it is easy to laugh at. Wow!

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Certain Women

A gentle pace takes us through the stories of four women in the film Certain Women. The stories have the similarities of inner struggles and personal coping. The performances are very good and what is communicated in quiet moments is impressive. I liked this film.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

The second volume of the Guardians of the Galaxy deals with feelings and relationships much more than I expected.  There is action, chases and battle scenes, but the emotional baggage of the characters is front and center. When the plot gets heavy, whimsy and humor slides in and the tone stays light. This is a fun ride, but some scenes could be too much for younger children.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

The Hero

In the film The Hero I've been thinking that there may have been more than one hero. An older actor faces his life decisions and career as he is given a fatal health diagnosis. Along the way we meet his daughter, ex-wife, drug dealer and younger girlfriend. Each plays a role in taking care of one or the other. There are successes, there are failures. A poignant story of life.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

The Trip to Spain

The Trip was a popular TV series with Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon driving. riffing, eating and drinking through Europe. The Trip to Italy is a feature film that continues the journey through Italy. We join the duo again in The Trip to Spain. Each has a writing assignment that takes them to beautiful locations in Spain. Each meal is a work of art that is filmed in a way that makes you feel like you are at the table. The two are very funny together as they try to out-clever each other. The locations are stunning and beautifully filmed. The story of their respective lives runs runs in the background with phone calls and Skype interactions. In general the film has a light tone, but the ending is heavier than I expected. Good film.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

mother!

In the thriller mother! we experience the allegory of the conflicts in the world in the story of a couple at a difficult time in their lives. The film is being interpreted in many ways. Some people love it, some hate it. I loved it. See it and decide for yourself.

Buster's Mal Heart

Buster suffers a terrible loss, and in flashbacks we learn the story in Buster's Mal Heart. Rami Malek gives a powerful performance as a man dealing with a tragedy. Good film, sad story.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Le Mans

I have always loved car racing, especially on a road track. The film Le Mans takes on a documentary-like treatment to the 24 hour road race. Le Mans is one of the oldest auto races and the gravity of history, technology and tradition are played well in this film. The plot is a bit thin and dialogue is minimal, but the visuals and sound design make up for it.The juxtaposition of cows and race cars in a scene in the French countryside is effective. The 70s vibe is also very nostalgic for me. Cool film.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Beatriz at Dinner

Themes of money, class and relationships ring strong in Beatriz at Dinner. A young masseuse is stranded at a client's house and is invited to dinner. Listening to an opportunist developer is tough for her and she suffers an emotional crisis of ethics. A good drama with excellent performances.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

It

In my younger days I read every Stephen King book as soon as it came out.The book It was long and a challenge, but I enjoyed it. This coming of age story is brought to the big screen in the film It. The "Losers" are well cast and well played. The plot makes sense and Pennywise is creepy as hell. I'm so glad I saw this in the theater because the audience I saw it with was verbal and reactive to all of the jump scares and drama. Fun, scary film experience.

Saturday, September 09, 2017

All Eyez on Me

The thug life and rise of the rap career of Tupac Shakur is depicted in the film All Eyez on Me. An urban tale of success, rivalry, violence and art. Shakur had a volatile life that was full of great highs and shattering lows. An interesting piece of music history.

Monday, September 04, 2017

Wind River

Wind River is a good crime thriller. The structure is solid, from where a tracker finds the body of someone he knows, to the resolution involving the tracker, FBI and local authorities. A tricky situation of politics and emotions. The cinematography is excellent and so are the performances. The fight scenes are especially well done. I liked this film a lot.

Friday, September 01, 2017

Operation Avalanche

There have always been theories that the moon landing was fake. In Operation Avalanche two CIA operatives pose as documentarians to catch a Russian mole in NASA. I am old enough to remember the space race so this film seemed very realistic. The excitement of film making along with the thrill of espionage is well done. The story adds enough humor to make it less threatening. I liked this film.

100 Favorite Films

In early 2017 I read a challenge to name your 100 favorite films of all time. I thought it would be easy, so I started my list. It was harder than I thought. I have been watching movies for over 50 years. That's a lot of titles, especially in the last 20 years. Over the last eight months, I have added to the list in fits and starts. I finally feel like I can push the publish button. Again, these are my personal favorites, not a "best" list. All of the films touched me in some way and hold up to multiple viewings. This list is in no particular order. Enjoy.

The Godfather
Little Miss Sunshine
Casablanca
Chinatown
Sing Street
Pieces of April
Don't Think Twice
Moon
Mary Poppins
The Iron Giant

The Incredibles
Wall-e
The Big Lebowski
In Her Shoes
Pulp Fiction
Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind
The Hateful Eight
Jaws
Die Hard
The Godfather II

The Shining
Being John Malcovich
Sing Street
The Dark Knight
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
Taxi Driver
The Last Waltz
Goodfellas
It Might Get Loud
West Side Story

The Sixth Sense
Sunset Boulevard
Swing Time
Baby Driver
The Big Sick
Get Out
In the Heat of the Night
Footlose
Six Degrees of Separation
Colossal

Paris Can Wait
I am Not Your Negro
Monsters Inc.
Hidden Figures
Fences
La La Land
The Magnificent Seven
Hunt for the Wilderpeople
Ironman
The Beatles: Eight Days a Week

Love and Basketball
Hell or Highwater
The First Monday in May
Swiss Army Man
Ghosts of Mississippi
The Family Fang
Cabin in the Woods
Green Room
Elvis & Nixon
Midnight Special

The French Connection
Shaun the Sheep
Mad Max: Fury Road
Ex Machina
Grandma
The Revenant
Mister Rogers & Me
Starwars
Krampus
Backdraft

He Named Me Malala
Man On Wire
The Intern
Dope
Duck Soup
It's a Wonderful Life
Young At Heart
The Red Balloon
A Few Good Men
The Wrecking Crew

Sound City
Rudderless
Boyhood
Whiplash
Attack the Block
Murderball
Argo
Dogma
Tape
The Host

Ratatouille
Once
The Hours
All That Jazz
From Dusk Till Dawn
District 9
Angels in America
Slingblade
My Cousin Vinny
Juno

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Dean

In the film Dean the themes of loss and recovery are handled with care and a little humor. A young man and his father are dealing with the death of their mother and wife and trying to move on. They express their pain and work through their grief in realistic ways. The tone of the film is light with out being frivolous. It takes on serious feelings without being a bummer. This film has a big heart, some excellent performances and is well written. I also liked the look of this film. I missed it at Tribeca Film Festival, so once again Netflix brings a lovely film to my door.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

One Crazy Summer

I enjoy light comedy, but do it well and do it smart. One Crazy Summer delivers just that. Saving the family home becomes the mission of a group of young people on Nantucket. There is a bad guy, there are pranks, there is heart, there are laughs. I liked this film a lot. Perfect for end of summer viewing.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Good Time

I have always enjoyed Robert Pattinson's work, though he has not always chosen the best projects. The film Good Time was an excellent choice. The story begins with an introduction to a mentally challenged young man with a therapist. His older, well meaning brother takes him out of the situation in a protective gesture and involves him in a crime. Things go wrong and the string of things that go wrong gets longer and longer. This is an intense, violent, desperate story. The film is shot and edited in a creative fashion. The film makers do a lot of interesting things with light. I liked this film a lot.

Tramps

The small film Tramps is a mistaken identity, crime story, love story, redemption story. The young actors do a nice job with the characters. The less you know about the plot going in, the better. This was a good rental.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Ingrid Goes West

I love Aubrey Plaza's style so Ingrid Goes West was an easy choice for me. She plays a deranged woman who is obsessed with Instagram and pushes her way into the life of an Instagram star. The acting is outstanding, but the story becomes very sad. This is a strong black comedy I liked.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Christine (1983)

I used to read every Stephen King book as soon as it came out. I like scary, weird stories and his suited my taste. It was interesting when they started making films based on them, some were good, some not so much. The classic film Christine is one of the better ones. John Carpenter was masterful bringing the story of an evil car to the screen. Well done. Glad I watched it again.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Last Exit to Brooklyn

After listening to an interview with Jennifer Jason Leigh I decided to rent Last Exit to Brooklyn. This film has an interesting look, but the story is disturbing. Fifties NYC, drugs, crime, prostitutes, unions and violence fuel the plot. There is a love story that is hopeful, but sad in the end. A gritty drama I liked.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Chuck

The boxer Chuck Wepner's story is told in the film Chuck.He is a struggling boxer who actually went 14 rounds with Mohamed Ali. When the movie Rocky came out, there were many similarities between the film and Wepner's life. Though his is a classic boxer's story, he did sue and there was an undisclosed settlement. The story is well told and the performances are very good, especially Elizabeth Moss. Good film.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Kill Switch

The movie Kill Switch is told from an interesting perspective. It's very much like a first person shooter video game. OK sci-fi film I rented because Dan Stevens was in it. He was just OK too.

Monday, August 21, 2017

The Incredible Jessica James

We meet a passionate playwright distracted by love in The Incredible Jessica James. Jessica Williams brings a lot of heart to the main character. She teaches a young writers program which gives her perspective. Her adult relationships past and present are interesting and grounded. This is a good drama with a dash of romance. I liked this film.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Practical Magic

In a discussion about Big Little Lies, the work of Nicole Kidman came up. The film Practical Magic was recommended so I rented it. A cheesy 90s movie with magic, love, loss, family and recovery. Kidman is outstanding, as is the whole cast. The story holds up. I liked this movie a lot more than expected.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

The Circle

I missed the premiere of The Circle at Tribeca Film Festival this year, so I was happy to be able to finally rent it. This is a story of a future where transparency is encouraged and promoted. The question of when is this an invasion of privacy looms large. It also gets dangerous. I liked the performances and concepts in this film. Well done.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Mother

Though this film is over 20 years old, Mother is very relatable and very funny. Albert Brooks' character is divorced and decides he'll live with his Mother until he figures out his life. The chemistry between Brooks and Debbie Reynolds is great. Her comic timing is perfect. The food conversations are very funny. I enjoyed this film quite a bit.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Snatched

The cast of Snatched makes this comedy very watchable. The story runs the damsel in distress formula, but Amy Schummer, Goldie Hawn, Wanda Sykes and Joan Cusak give this movie a little more weight than it would have ordinarily had. I liked this movie much more than expected.

Friday, August 11, 2017

The Dinner

In the film The Dinner we meet a group of very unlikable people who don't really like each other as they share a very fancy meal. We learn of their relationships and their problems. They bicker, they flat out fight. High drama with a first-class cast.

Saturday, August 05, 2017

Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812

Dog-sitting in Brooklyn this weekend, I was not inspired by the choices at the TKTS booth. Talking to my daughter on the ride into the city, she schooled me on the musical Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812. She told me about an actor I was dying to see, Okieriete Onaodowan, was playing Pierre and you can sit on the stage! When I went to buy a ticket the gentleman in the booth said, "do you want to sit at a table?" I said, "Why not?!" There were several orchestra pits and my seat was about 10 feet from one of them...on the stage. Before the show, cast members milled about explaining that we needed to remain seated and if a prop was put in front of us leave it. I was also offered a warm, yummy dumpling. So much positive energy, I could not wait for the show to begin. The cast moved through the entire audience throughout the show and watching from the perspective of the stage was new and thrilling. I was on a Broadway stage in the middle of a kick-ass musical! The story is a tragic love story adapted from a small part of War and Peace. There is love, angst, betrayal and camaraderie. Set in 1812 Russia, there is culture, there is history and boy, oh boy there is music. There were rollicking party songs and heartbreaking ballads. The song Dust and Ashes made me cry. There was audience participation throughout. I was given a folded piece of paper during Letters (it said "you are beautiful xoxo") and the entire audience was given egg shakers to join in during Balaga. A cast member even put his head in my lap! What a time. I love Broadway!

Friday, August 04, 2017

Gifted

A child custody story is enhanced by the performances in Gifted. A brother promises his sister that her gifted daughter will have a normal life. When his sister dies, and the grandmother and social services step in on behalf of the child, an interesting story unfolds. There is enough heart in this drama to keep it from being trite or cheesy. I liked this film.

Thursday, August 03, 2017

Big Little Lies

The HBO miniseries Big Little Lies plays out in seven episodes. The story of suburban families dealing with life, feelings and relationships is well written and acted. It is presented as a mystery, and the clues to who-done-it are parsed out bit by bit. The cast brings the drama home. I enjoyed this series very much.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Dunkirk

Following the Battle of Dunkirk there were the logistics of getting over 300,000 soldiers out of Dunkirk and back to the UK. No small feat, especially with the enemy shooting at you. In the film Dunkirk, Christopher Nolan takes on the depiction of this historic time from 3 perspectives. Air, land and sea. The scenes are harrowing and I was struck by how young the soldiers were. There is a focus on a few characters to connect the audience, but for the majority of the scenes were are in the midst of shooting and bombing. Well shot and structured, an intense film depicting a dramatic time in history.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Blade Runner (1982)

For all of the theatrics, I feel like nothing really happens in Blade Runner. I know this film has been highly acclaimed and is considered brilliant by many, but I was just plain bored.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Defending Your Life

Who sets a love story in the afterlife? Albert Brooks tells a sweet, creative tale in Defending Your Life. The story makes the rules of the great beyond very clear, and the performances are just great. The less you know going in the better. Fun fantasy ride. Well done.

Kong: Skull Island

Though the story sounds solid on paper, in execution, Kong: Skull Island comes off a bit silly. The actors give it their all, but I didn't buy it. The CGI was OK, but the monsters weren't much more than eating machines. This was an OK rental, but not as enthralling as past Kong movies for me.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Judd Apatow Live

Judd Apatow is doing stand up again after a 22 year break and he brought his act to Providence. I bought tickets, invited a friend and we went to the Columbus Theatre in Providence. The upstairs theater is a small space, 200 seats, and sitting in the back row-center we were only 20 feet from the stage. Wayne Federman opened. He was light, and used the piano on the stage. A talented player and very funny guy. Apatow took the stage carrying his notes and a beer. He was prepping to tape a special for Netflix on Friday. His material moved easily from politics to family to work to sex to food as his subjects.The bits were funny and the hour flew. In the end, my face hurt from laughing and I felt a little lighter. A very fun night.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

GLOW: The Story of the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling

After enjoying the Netflix series GLOW I took a look at a documentary that features the actual wrestlers. GLOW: The Story of the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling is an eye-opening look at this world. Physically demanding with the pressure of giving a good performance, these women have heart and a true love of the theater of professional wrestling. So many of the first-hand accounts come down to the expression of that love. Really interesting film.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Despicable Me 3

When asked if I would like to take my grandsons to see Despicable Me 3 I jumped at the chance. The series of Despicable films have amused me in the past. The villains are ridiculous but I like the kids, and the Minions crack me up. I was so happy to see this with the boys because we laughed a lot and their critical eye in their recaps are just as entertaining as the movie. The Minions really steal the show in this one. So funny.

McCabe & Mrs. Miller

In the early 70s my only knowledge of film was through the parodies in Mad Magazine. I'm pretty sure that  McCabe and Mrs. Miller were among those in 1971. Warren Beatty and Julie Christie were hot in Hollywood and this Western was hot stuff too. Beautifully shot, with a cast of characters that fit so many cliches of the genre, but Altman manages to put a little meat behind them. This is a good film. I'm glad I finally saw it.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Creepshow

When George Romero passed away I fondly remembered many Saturday nights in Pittsburgh watching Night of the Living Dead on Chiller Theater. I then remembered his brilliant anthology Creepshow and sent off to Netflix for the rental. Five stories of scary creatures and events were so much fun to revisit. It was also cool to see some talented actors in these outlandish roles. Well done Mr. Romero and thank you.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Alive and Kicking

The documentary Alive and Kicking is a testimonial to the sheer joy of swing dancing. The dance, the people and the community all have a positive vibe. The longevity of the dance form and the people who thrive in it is inspiring. This is a great rental.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

In the Heat of the Night

A murder mystery in a Mississippi town gets help from a visiting detective. In the Heat of the Night brings that help in the form of Virgil Tibbs. The dramatic angle? He is a black man in the south in the 60s. This does not bode well with the locals, but the way he holds his ground is impressive. Sidney Poitier is dynamic and strong in this performance. Not only is the story well done, but I liked the way this film was shot. It has an interesting look. Worthy of all the Oscars it won, this is a wonderful film.

The Phenom

Success in sports can mess with your head. Family can mess with your head. In The Phenom we see a star pitcher deal with his success as he comes out of high school. His father is abusive and his mother permissive. He is a head case and sees a therapist because his game is slipping. There's a lot of talking while we watch this young man struggle. The performances are good, but it's a sad story.

Get Me Roger Stone

I find Donald Trump to be a disturbing individual. In the documentary Get Me Roger Stone I learn about more vile people that support him. Money hungry. Power hungry. The long history of the ugly side of politics is interesting. No surprises, just sad.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Louder Than Bombs

Grief is interpreted differently by people. Memories of traumatic situations can be different. The film Louder Than Bombs explores the different memories and grief of a family who loses their mother. Complex feelings make a strong drama in a film with interesting structure. Serious film. Strong rental.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Their Finest

In WW II a source of news from the war were propaganda films in movie houses. In Their Finest, we meet the people who put together films to inform and keep morale up. They set out to tell a specific story and we get a good process story. The writers and actors are ambitious and serious. An interesting look at this piece of history. Good rental.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Norman: The Moderate Rise and Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer

Norman is an awkward man who thinks he is more important than he is. In his delusion he makes questionable decisions and approaches people who neither want nor need him around. The performances are excellent, but the story is not that interesting. An OK rental.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Table 19

We're all familiar with the Table 19 at a wedding. That awkward mix of people who they didn't think would come to the wedding but did. They don't know each other, nor do they have much in common. In this movie, one of the people seated at Table 19 was supposed to be the maid of honor. We learn why she is not as the relationships develop between the other members at the table. This film is marketed as a comedy, but it is more of a drama. Though there is plenty to work with here, it is not very well written and a lot of scenes fall flat. The cast is good, this is just an OK rental.

Saturday, July 08, 2017

The Big Sick

There can be romance in a couple. There can also be romance in a family. The love is different, but the love is intense in both relationships. In The Big Sick we see both forms of romance under the intense circumstance of a health crisis. This film is so well written, skillfully acted and structured effectively. What a breath of fresh air. Spend time with these characters, you won't be sorry.

Handsome: A Netflix Mystery Movie

Jeff Garlin presents a murder mystery a la Colombo style. It is quirky, funny and well done. The characters and motives are weird and uncomfortable in a funny way, all due to Garlin's easy style. I especially liked the structure as they move through the investigation. Fun film. "It is what it is."

Friday, July 07, 2017

A United Kingdom

Interracial marriage has always been a target of scorn. In A United Kingdom the story of the King of Botswana marries a white woman and is  literally banished. The politics play out in a interesting fashion. A true story of love, devotion and standards makes for an interesting film.

Thursday, July 06, 2017

The Zookeeper's Wife

The horrors of WW II Poland come to the screen in The Zookeeper's Wife. A couple who run a zoo in Warsaw hide Jewish families from the Nazis in the animal's cages. The peril to both the animals and humans was harrowing. There was a lot of hope and heart in this film. A good rental.

Monday, July 03, 2017

Okja

In the tone of The Host, the film Okja goes down a sci-fi rabbit hole. Genetic mutation has created super-pigs yet Okja is a pet. The purpose of the mutation is for food, so escape is in the works by animal advocates. There is conflict, corporate greed and love. This is a creative endeavor and an interesting film.

The Beguiled

The beginning of The Beguiled is slow and dreamy. So much so, I nodded off a few times. The story of a wounded Union soldier being cared for by a group of girls at a boarding school slowly becomes creepy and menacing. The acting is good, this film is beautifully shot. The story is super simple and brutal when all is said and done. Interesting film.

Saturday, July 01, 2017

Baby Driver

After seeing Baby Driver, I feel that I have seen a violent crime ballet. Beautiful, musical and perfectly choreographed. Who knew such a thing exists? The chases and gun fights are brutal, yet poetic. The pace is enthralling with a sense of humor. Baby is a talented driver who is working off a debt to a crime boss. Each character is developed in a skillful and delightful way. The performances are on point. The action is set to music which makes this such a delight. It also made me long for my old iPod. One of my favorite films so far this year.

Friday, June 30, 2017

Brooklyn Bridge

For years I have been intrigued with the Brooklyn Bridge. Its stature, its beauty and its connection of the islands of Manhattan and Brooklyn are impressive. In the documentary Ken Burns' Brooklyn Bridge the film maker chronicles the history of the 14 years it took to build the bridge. With little technology, the feat is pretty astounding. Burns does a great job weaving the politics, materials and ingenuity into a fascinating narrative. Worth a look.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

The Sense of an Ending

In The Sense of an Ending a man tries to collect a diary left to him by an old friend. In the course of his journey, he learns a lot about memories and deception. Some memories are faulty, some are accurate. The cast and performances are good. A decent rental.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Grey Lady

I rented Grey Lady because I thought I would like a crime drama set in Nantucket. The setting is one of the few appealing things in this film. This story goes down a seedy path. The plot is confusing, the story yet the performances were good. This was an OK rental.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Christine (2016)

Depression is a tough disease. In the film Christine, a woman is a reporter at a television station. She struggles with her superiors, her family and herself. She is frustrated and depressed, which has dire consequence. Rebecca Hall is excellent in this serious drama.

Oh Hello on Broadway

I have been fortunate enough to have seen my share of Broadway shows, especially in the last few years. This year the show Oh Hello was on my list, but I did not get a chance to see it before it closed. This week I learned that they filmed one of the performances and it showed up on Netflix Instant. What a treat to have this delightful show in my living room! Having been to the Lyceum Theater a few years ago I had a sense of familiarity that helped me feel closer to the show. John Mulaney and Nick Kroll should be proud of this piece. It is funny, warm, smart and did I mention funny? Need a smile? This is the show for you.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Off the Rails

A compulsion for order and structure attracts a young man to the NYC transit system in the documentary Off the Rails. He is obsessed with the trains and buses and finds a comfort in that world. Taking it to the level of hijacking the vehicles, he gets himself arrested time and time again. I was impressed with how hard the justice system worked to help this young man rehabilitate his compulsion instead of relying totally on incarceration. An interesting story well told.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Diner

Another classic rolled into my DVD player. It had been forever since I had seen Diner, so I put it on my list. As I get older, I find it interesting to revisit movies I've seen decades ago. With experience and time I find I see them a little differently. This is another film where women are not treated very well. The sophomoric attitude of the men towards the women is demeaning. As I've said, sadly for the 50s it was the norm. The acting in this film is excellent, Barry Levinson got the most out of this talented young cast. This was worth seeing again.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Guys and Dolls

So often you see the musical Guys and Dolls performed by local theaters and high school groups. Much of the music is legendary. The story is OK, but as was common in the 50s, the way women are treated is so sad. Manipulation of emotions and lack of respect are central. We've come a long way, but a 14 year engagement just isn't that funny. What impressed me most was the performance of a young Marlon Brando. Singing and dancing as well as a strong acting performance, I was mesmerized whenever he was on screen. And Frank Sinatra? His character was so obnoxious, it was hard for me to enjoy his performance. Another classic that I'm glad I rented.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Footloose

When Footloose came out in 1984 it looked so cheesy and I just couldn't watch it. After listening to several interviews with Kevin Bacon recently, I realized that the film is a bit of a cultural icon. Upon renting it I enjoyed the cinematography, the acting and the music. It was wild to watch the young actors who have aged 30 years perform in their youth. This is a film I'm glad that I watched as a classic. Good rental.

Thursday, June 08, 2017

Any Day Now

In the film Any Day Now, a mentally challenged young man is abandoned by his mother. A neighbor kindly steps in. When things turn serious enough to consider adoption the man's sexual orientation becomes a sticking point. Alan Cumming is great in this, but it has such a sad ending. A good rental.

Sunday, June 04, 2017

The Godfather

The Godfather arrived in theaters in 1972. I was 15 years old and had already read the book several times. I remember my parents seeing it when it first came to theaters and my father talked about it a lot. I must have eventually seen it with my friends, because I know I saw it in the theater. Back in the day it could almost take a year for a movie to get to our small town. When I learned that The Godfather would be shown on the big screen at my local theater, I invited Dad and he happily accepted. After seeing the film so many times over the years, it was interesting to watch a film in the theater when I knew exactly what was going to happen. Many of the scene's impacts are held in the element of surprise. I still marvel at the wonderful performances of the young actors and each shot is a work of art. I'm grateful to have been able to see this on the big screen again and especially to have shared it with my Dad.

Saturday, June 03, 2017

sex, lies and videotape

I thoroughly enjoy the podcast Movie BS with Bayer and Snyder on a weekly basis. When they chose sex, lies and videotape for their first Monthly Movie assignment, I was happy to find it in my personal library. Betrayal and revenge come in the forms of adultery, exhibitionism and voyeurism. A cool erotic drama I'm glad to revisit. I'll be interested to hear Eric and Jeff discuss it in July.

The Line King: The Al Hirschfeld Story

The work of Al Hirschfeld has been a visual history of theater for decades. In The Line King: The Al Hirschfeld Story we learn the history and road of his art and his life.The wealth of drawings and stories in this film makes for a fabulous documentary for any theater fan. Well done. If you rent the DVD watch the bonus features.

The Lovers

A couple dealing with unfulfilling jobs, empty nest syndrome and boredom are both carrying on affairs outside of their marriage In The Lovers, these two unlikable people lie to each other and then begin lying to their lovers. The pace is pensive and there is little dialog. An interesting film, but the characters have few redeeming qualities.

Friday, June 02, 2017

The Comedian

Playing an unlikable character, Robert Di Nero is effective as an insult comedian in his later years. In The Comedian, his character battles the popularity of an obnoxious character in almost every encounter with the public. He meets a woman with her own issues and they develop a relationship. Family and friends both play a part in the growth and demise of their relationship. I liked their chemistry and the ending was as it should be. A good rental.

Thursday, June 01, 2017

I Am Heath Ledger

A documentary of an actor's rise is always interesting, but never more-so than when the actor himself films and tells his own story. Nine years after his untimely death, I Am Heath Ledger does just that. Ledger's own footage and the words of friends, family and colleagues tell this talented man's much too short life story. Excellent film.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Six Degrees of Separation on Broadway

Many years ago I enjoyed the film Six Degrees of Separation. The thriller with a sense of humor is creative and well done with a great twist. Decades later, a revival of the play comes to Broadway with a stellar cast. I was lucky enough to be in NY during the run and got tickets from TKTS. We were treated to a creative presentation and outstanding performances, especially the leads, Allison Janney, Corey Hawkins and John Benjamin Hickey. I went back and watched the film later and the performances in the play were so much better. An interesting piece that I'm so glad I got to see live.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Cameraperson

Presented as a video memoir, Cameraperson is a tour around the world through clips from the works of Kirsten Johnson.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

My Life as a Zucchini

Stop action animation is the media for the film My Life as a Zucchini. As gorgeous as the animation is, the story is the real star of this film. The subject matter is for older children (PG-13 rating makes sense). There are references to sex, alcoholism, drugs and prison.

Friday, May 19, 2017

I Am Michael

The story of Michael Glatze is told in the film I Am Michael . A gay man finds religion and goes straight. There is drama, there is conflict, there is frustration. The most refreshing scenes are with Zachary Quinto, whose performance grounded the characters and story.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Split

A man with multiple personalities kidnaps three girls and menaces them in the film Split. When they figure out what is going on with this guy, they try to work with the personalities to escape. In the mean time the man is seeing is therapist, which gives more insight to the personalities. This thriller's strong point is the performances. This is the best performance I've seen from James MacAvoy and the supporting actors are excellent as well. This is a psychological thriller I liked.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

The Late Shift

I've been a fan of David Letterman's for a long time, so when I heard John Michael Higgins talk about the HBO film The Late Shift I immediately rented it. This film is a dramatization of the behind the scenes business surrounding late night television as Letterman and Jay Leno came on the scene. Most of the drama is between the agents and studio executives. This is an interesting film that made me wonder how accurate the details were. Well done.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Sing

A singing competition brings a bevy of animals to the auditions in the animated movie Sing. There are many stories, almost too many. It takes this movie over an hour to actually make a point and find its heart. When it does, it is sweet and entertaining. The music selections were well placed and fit the plot. I especially liked the finale. A decent rental.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Colossal

The less you know going into the film Colossal the better. I will say is that it is probably the most original film I've seen in both plot and structure. Also, see it.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Who Am I This Time?

In a discussion of the works of Johnathan Demme, the TV series American Playhouse came up, specifically the episode Who am I this Time? I was happy to find the DVD of this episode in the Netflix library. A woman finds her artistic voice in a community theaer group. There is a charm and honesty to the emotions of her journey. The young actor who inspires her is intense and focused. It is interesting to watch the people behind the scenes guide these two with a variety of techniques. A very young Christopher Walken and Susan Sarrandon are wonderful in this story. I'm glad I found this gem.

Tuesday, May 09, 2017

Swing Time

Listening to the podcast Pop Culture Happy Hour, one of the hosts declared Swing Time the best movie of all time. Upon renting it I can see why. Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers dancing together are a marvel to watch. Now I know where the song The Way You Look Tonight comes from. In the story Astaire's character is a cad and pursues Rogers' character while engaged to another woman. His roguish ways were a bit off-putting to me, but I can see how they were considered charming when this film was made. A must-see for the dancing.

Wednesday, May 03, 2017

Hitchcock / Truffaut

Alfred Hitchcock's work was explored in Francois Trffaut's book "Cinema According to Hitchcock". In the documentary Hitchcok/Truffaut we see how both men's work effected film makers through the years. An insightful film to style and influence. I liked this one.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them

The film Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them won the Oscar for costume design and was nominated for production design this year.This film is beautifully shot and meticulously staged. The fantasy story takes the beasts to NYC, so I enjoyed the setting. A good fantasy adventure film.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Tribeca Film Festival Day 5

With no Family Street Fair this year, my last day in Tribeca was devoid of festival activity. My early morning walk took me back to the Charging Bull and Defiant Girl, which was nice because I got there before the tourists. A walk through the 9/11 Memorial Park and back into Tribeca found me in a booth at Square Diner for my last meal in the hood. Though my cab ride back to Brooklyn was hampered by heavy traffic on the Brooklyn Bridge, it was good to have lunch with the kids at Fiorino in Brooklyn Bridge Park before collecting my car and heading home. Stopping for dinner at the Steak Loft in Mystic put a nice finish on another year at Tribeca Film Festival. Thanks to all friends and family who joined me and the characters I met along the way. See ya next year!

Friday, April 28, 2017

The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Season 3 Premire

Tribeca Film Festival offers a TV section as well as film, and they premiered several shows this year. With the discussion panel of Tina Fey, Robert Carlock, Ellie Kemper, Tituss Burgess, Carol Kane and Jane Krakowski, I chose the premiere of the 3rd Season  of The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmitt to end my 2017 TFF experience. The first announcement at the event was that we were going to see the first two episodes of the season instead of one. Both were delightful and I'm looking forward to seeing the rest. When the panel took the stage it was cool to see these creative people in person. The audience was half my age and the questions were fan-based or looking for career advice. All of the folks on stage were funny and candid. This was a nice way to finish at Tribeca Film Festival.

Tribeca Film Festival Day 4

As expected, my hangover was a doozy. I had plans for lunch on the upper west side and I needed every minute to sleep off as much wine as I could, and make my self presentable to be out in public. I met Mary Catherine at a nice lunch spot called Spice. The food was good and the conversation interesting. I was starting to feel more like myself after lunch and realized that I was not far from the 72nd Street entrance to Central Park, so I walked to Bethesda Terrace. Buskers and street vendors were everywhere and the nice weather made for no lack of tourists. Back on the train, I rode all the way to South Street Seaport. I tried to have a beer at Fraunces Tavern but it seemed like half of NYC had the same idea. Thwarted, I went across the street to Rout 66 Roadhouse to have a beer. Back in Tribeca, I made my way to BMCC to see the season premiere of The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmitt. While waiting in line I saw Carol Kane arrive and as I was walking into the theater I realized that I walking next to Daveed Diggs! After the premiere I grabbed wings, onion rings and coleslaw at Mudville 9 and went to bed early. Despite my poor decisions last night I had a great day.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Permission

When a couple doubts the validity of their feelings based on their lack of experience, they agree to broaden their experience. In the film Permission the intricacies and insecurity of relationships is explored. There is another couple we watch deal with other struggles and the two stories go hand in hand quite nicely. This film is well written, interestingly filmed with strong performances. It gives you a lot to think about. At the Q& A we earn that the director and one of the actors are married and that one member of each of the couples are as well. A good drama.

Tribeca Film Festival Day 3

This morning's walk took me to the Financial District. The Charging Bull and Defiant Girl have become quite a tourist attraction and were mobbed by tourists taking photo after photo. Quite a sight. I found the tranquility I was looking for at Trinity Church where I said hello to history and the 9/11 Memorial Park that was quiet as well. The art installation at Brookfield Place called "Roof" was not much to look at, but I got the concept. Roosevelt Park was full of joggers. A train ride north took me to Chelsea where I met Lucy at McManus Cafe for lunch. A landmark dive. The booths were green vinyl, the food was great and the service friendly. A few blocks away at Cineopolis we saw the film Permission.We both liked the film and the director and one of the actors conducted the Q&A. After we parted ways, I decided that I needed to spend some time in Tribeca so I went to what used to be one of my favorite bars in The Roxy Hotel. It was late afternoon and the maitre'd gave me one of those up and down looks that says he doesn't like the way you're dressed (jeans and cute top). I took a seat at the bar and the bartender proceeded to ignore me. It didn't take long for me to take my business elsewhere and I found a friendly stool at Edward's. A bowl of soup and a glass of wine tempered my mood. I noticed that Mike Birbiglia was in the line-up at the Comedy Cellar so I braved the rain and arrived a little before showtime. The stand-by line was down the block, so I decided just to go into the Olive Tree and have a drink. As I was leaving I almost walked into Colin Quinn who looked me right in the eye, smiled and said hello, so I left happy with my celebrity encounter. Back in Tribeca, I decided to have one last drink at Reade Street Pub. There was one seat at the bar so I took it and the guy next to me started to chat. The wine was flowing and when he asked me the same question 3 or 4 times I decided to leave. He had been trying to convince me that his "unconventional marriage" allowed him freedoms. The mistake he made was that he thought I was interested. The mistake I then made was going to The Patriot for "one more drink." There is a chandelier with bras hanging off it, there was a seat at the far end of the bar where a kind bartender named Patience was friendly and funny. Back at the hotel, I realized that tomorrow was going to be rough. A drunken night in Tribeca.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Sunset Boulevard on Broadway

Watching Glenn Close in a late night show interview, I knew that I wanted to see Sunset Boulevard on my next visit to NYC. That day arrived today when I found myself in the eighth row enjoying the performance of a lifetime. Close brings heart, light and drama to the character of Norma Desmond in this Andrew Lloyd Webber musical. Though the score is a bit cheesy, the performers are so earnest I did not mind. The staging was very interesting and dramatic. At the end the standing ovation was long and enthusiastic. Close returned to the stage many times, soaking in the applause. A woman behind me kept shouting "thank you" until she was hoarse. It was a fabulous show.

Tribeca Film Festival Day 2

I decided to take a day off from the film festival to give myself a day in NYC. I had obtained a ticket for Sunset Boulevard on Tuesday at TKTS in Brooklyn, so I knew what my afternoon would hold. I was up early enough to take a walk in lower Manhattan. 8 Spruce Street was the goal to get a close-up look at the Geary Building. I met my friend Cathy at Tiny's in Tribeca for lunch. Cute spot, good food. Cathy confessed that I had planted the idea of a Broadway matinee and she was joining me on the subway to see Groundhog Day. Work be damned. Sunset Boulevard was amazing. Glenn Close is amazing and the crowd went wild at the end. A very fun theater experience. With time to kill before dinner, I wandered a little looking for street vendors to buy souvenirs then realized that the rain had made them scarce. A glass of wine at BEA fit the bill before meeting Allison at 44 SW in Hell's Kitchen. A hearty Italian meal and lovely conversation made the gray day much sunnier. Taking the train back to Tribeca, I was happy to have had a day with live theater and good company.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Paris Can Wait

After running through the pouring rain, I was grateful to see that they were seating the film Paris Can Wait at the BMCC theater instead of making people wait outside. Awaiting us were ushers with boxes of snacks to take to our seats. I knew there would be a food tasting but wasn't' sure how they would manage the logistics. This was perfect. After saying hello to my favorite house manager, Charles, We settled in to enjoy this charming road-trip film. Early in the film I decided that Diane Lane has the most expressive eyebrows on film. The story is charming, the characters interesting. There is a lot of food and wine in the film, so the second round of snacks they passed out before the Q & A was welcome. Eleanor Coppola crafted a film I would be happy to see again. Well done.

9/7/17  **Watching this again in DVD I check out the extras which gave insight to Coppola and her process. I find her to be inspiring.

Tribeca Film Festival 2017 Day 1

Starting out in Brooklyn this morning, I have lunch with Liza and Mason at Westville in DUMBO. I collect my stuff and get in a cab to the Cosmopolitan in Tribeca. After I unpack, I meet Randi at Max for dinner. It's a stormy night so we take a quick walk to BMCC for a screening of Paris Can Wait. Snacks were served before and after the film. Eleanor Coppola, Diane Lane and Arnaud Viard gave an interesting Q & A. I made sure to say hello to my favorite house manager, Charles. He's worked for the festival for 16 years and I always enjoy chatting with him. When Randi and I part ways, I stop in to Reade Street Pub for a nightcap. A very inebriated guy hits on me. He is uninsultably drunk and disappears as quickly as he appears. Funny end to the evening. Great start to my little vacation.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Live for Night

The grim film Live by Night was a disappointment. What tries to be a crime film of threatening gangsters, comes off as a bunch of mumbling bumblers. The love story is OK, but the ending is so sad. A sloppy film I did not care for.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Miss Sloane

I was expecting a strong drama in the film Miss Sloane, but I was not expecting an intense, emotional thriller. The look at lobbyists, and what it takes to pass a bill is both interesting and terrifying. The bill at hand is about gun control. Emotions are hit hard in the negotiation of the bill. There are dramatic twists and turns, the performances are outstanding. I liked this film a lot.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

The Founder

As in many films based on true events, The Founder is a bit heartbreaking. The story of Ray Kroc discovering the McDonald brothers' system for fast food, and turning it into an empire starts out as a rags-to-riches story. In the process, we watch a man take advantage of kind people in the interest of the almighty dollar. Not much of an interest in their philosophy or goals, just how do I make a buck. Kind of a sad story. Good film though.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Girlfriend's Day

A man with excellent greeting card writing skills is challenged to save his job and relationships in Girlfriend's Day. An endearing sad-sack struggles with relationships. Sometimes he succeeds, sometimes he fails. Bob Odenkirk is excellent. I liked this film.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Bad Santa 2

I remember thinking Bad Santa was funny. Bad Santa 2...not so much. This is a poorly written, raunchy, vulgar and pointless heist film that was not funny and had no redeeming qualities at all. A talented cast was wasted on this awful film. Such a disappointment.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Collateral Beauty

Grief and coping are the focus in Collateral Beauty. When a man loses his young child to cancer he writes letters of desperation to Death, Time and Love. In an effort to get the man back to reality his friends employ actors to confront him as the receivers of the letters. Or so we think....who was helping who in this tale? This film challenges the heart and the mind. I liked it a lot. "Nothing's ever really dead if you look at it right."
"Be sure you notice the collateral beauty."

Sunday, April 09, 2017

The Discovery

Filmed in RI, The Discovery is an interesting exploration of death and the afterlife. A mixture of drama and sci-fi, a scientist has scientific proof of the afterlife. There are a lot of philosophical questions. The structure of the film is intriguing and the cast does a good job. I liked this film a lot.

Thursday, April 06, 2017

Paterson

A man with a simple life and deep thoughts comes to us in Paterson. His dreams are internal, while his wife's dreams are external. The art design in the scenes with her are stunning.The scenes when his dreams emerge are also stunning, but it is more cerebral than visual. This movie has a lot to say with nice touches of subtle humor. Worth a look.

Tuesday, April 04, 2017

The Book of Love

I like a well written, well cast film. The Book of Love is exactly that. There is loss, and each character copes with their loss in different ways. They ultimately help each other. There is a rich underlying thread that I won't spoil here, but it ties everyone together nicely. I really liked this film.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Rules Don't Apply

When an idealistic young actress goes to Hollywood to make it as an actress in the empire of Howard Hughes, we get the story of struggle dealing with the most eccentric, powerful man. In Rules Don't Apply the story plays out to show her strengths. Very sweet. I liked this film a lot.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Silence

Catholic priests in 17th century Japan have a difficult time spreading the word of God is depicted in the film Silence. In some cases they are embraced, in others brutalized. There are brutal torture scenes that are so cruel they are hard to watch. This is an intense, thoughtful film.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Life

Movies about space aren't new. Alien interpretations aren't new. In the movie Life both are thrown into a contained space and it becomes a creepy, fresh thriller. This film moves at a good pace, it is suspenseful, it has a very menacing alien and an unnerving ending. I liked this film.

Best Wort Thing That Ever Could Have Happened...

The documentary Best Worst Thing That Ever Could Have Happened... was recommended by Glen Weldon on Pop Culture Happy Hour. It chronicles the short lived Merrily We Roll Along on Broadway in the 80s. The final half hour catches up with the actors. It is touching and reflective. I got teary when they told their stories. A touching look at acting, youth, Broadway and life choices. Good doc.

Sunset Boulevard

Watching the classic film Sunset Boulveardfor the first time was such a pleasure. The story is engaging, the performances are outstanding and this film is beautifully shot. Well done.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Wilson

In the film Wilson a man is desperately looking for human connection. He's rough around the edges, impulsive, foul-mouthed and lovable. When he tracks down his ex-wife, she reveals a life event he did not know about and the adventure commences. Woody Harrelson plays Wilson in a performance I found very engaging. I'm glad that I saw this in the theater, but this would be a strong rental.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Tower

A documentary like Tower shows us what ordinary people can do in extraordinary situations. Presented in rotoscope animation, archive footage and present day interviews, the events of a sniper shooting on the campus of The University of Texas in 1966 from a tower are reenacted and remembered. This is an excellent documentary with a unique style and a lot of heart.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Masterminds

The movie Masterminds is another unbelievable true story brought to the screen. The film takes us inside one of the largest cash robberies in US history. This A-list cast truly delivers a crazy story in a heartfelt fashion. The performances are endearing and entertaining. The story is nuts. This was a fun rental.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Beauty and the Beast (2017)

I liked that the live-action version of Beauty and the Beast veers from the animated version. It is darker, it has new songs, it has a Beast I connected to better and there are good one-liners. They left out a song I really like, but there is more emphasis on the spoken scenes, which I did like. Technically, I have a lot of quibbles with the filming, but I think that's because it is designed for 3D and it's hard to recreate those magical sequences in live-action. I think some of the scenes are too intense for kids under 6. The little girl in front of me had her head buried in her Mom's shoulder for much of the movie. I'm guessing she was about 4. " I also heard a small voice during the end credits exclaim, "that was scary!" There will be an audience that will love this. The more I think about this movie, the more I like it. I cried at the end which really surprised me. I'd definitely see it again. Well done.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

The Edge of Seventeen

The teen angst movie genre generally does not appeal to me, but The Edge of Seventeen is a refreshing exception. The script and performances made this very watchable. This is a strong teen cast that delivers. Well done and worth a look.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Passengers

This year's hot sci-fi film Passengers has drama, humor and romance. The plot is a bit dry and klunky, but the visuals are stunning. This was an OK rental that kept me company during a snow storm.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Dancing in the Light: The Janet Collins Story

On Netflix Instant I discovered a lovely short film Dancing in the Light: The Janet Collins Story. From the classroom to the stage, the story of Janet Collins, the first African American ballerina to perform at the Metropolitan Opera House, is told in a charming animated form with narration in the style of a poem. Her hard work and talent are front and center as she persevered against racism in an art she loved. An inspirational film.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Killing Regan

Like Killing Kennedy, the drama of the attempted assassination of Ronald Regan is played out from both the victim and shooter's points of view in Killing Regan. The acting is OK, I much prefer the structure and editing of this film. The inadequacies of the Regan administration are touched on. The relationship between Ron and Nancy is front and center. An interesting film. I liked the extras on the DVD that gave more background and context.

Tuesday, March 07, 2017

Trolls

My granddaughter taught me all of the characters in the movie Trolls, so when I finally saw it I was up to speed. When the Trolls are threatened by the Bergens there is a rescue, several chases, a couple of love stories and a lot of music...and color! Themes of friendship, self-esteem and teamwork are explored. This is an animated feature with a few more dark scenes than I like in my kid-friendly entertainment, but the music lifts those scenes and and the target audience doesn't seem to mind. Cute stuff.

Sunday, March 05, 2017

I Don't Feel at Home in This World Anymore

With the awkward title of I Don't Feel at Home in This World Anymore I was treated to a cool revenge thriller fresh out of Sundance Film Festival. When a woman's house is broken into she gets little help from the police, so she takes matters into her own hands. Her investigation goes off the rails and the ride is a crazy one. Melanie Lynskey and Elija Wood are very good in this. The R rating is earned with language and violence. I was happy to see this on Netflix Instant. Quite a film.

Saturday, March 04, 2017

The Lego Batman Movie

I loved The Lego Movie, so seeing Lego Batman was a no-brainer. Lego Batman is a caricature of all versions of Batman. He is up against the villains of all time and it's pretty fun seeing the Lego versions of them all. There's plenty of action and laughs. This was a fun movie.

Friday, March 03, 2017

Allied

A boring story of spies in WWII unfolds in Allied. There is a potential for intrigue and action, but the performances are so wooden and the script so bland I had trouble staying interested. Even the love story was boring. It got a little better at the end, but not good enough to save the film. This one was disappointing.

Wednesday, March 01, 2017

Queen of Katwe

More of a survival story than a chess story, Queen of Katwe tells the story of Phiona, a girl whose family is struggling and she takes to the game of chess. In winning competitions she finds a way out of poverty. It is also the story of her family and how her success helps them as well. As in many films based on true events, shots of the real people with the actors who play them at the end is very sweet. I liked this film.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Get Out

Classic Horror tropes are the foundation for the creative film Get Out. When a woman brings her boyfriend to meet her parents, strange things begin to happen and we take a ride down a crazy rabbit-hole. The less you know going ito this one, the better. I'll just say see it and enjoy! I did.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

I am Not Your Negro

The words of James Baldwin come to the screen in I Am Not Your Negro. A beautiful, intelligent journey through racism, art and politics that makes you think. Using movie clips, interviews and narration, Baldwin's words come to life. There is a lot to digest. I think I'll see this a few more times. Excellent documentary.

The Light Between Oceans

Losing a child is devestating. In The Light Between Oceans a couple endures this burden more than once. The difficult dynamics of isolation, loss, conflict and doing the right thing are played out in this strong drama. The ending was sad, but satisfying.

Friday, February 24, 2017

The Dressmaker

In The Dressmaker wardrobe is a tool of revenge. When a young woman returns to her small home town as a successful designer, the truth behind a nagging event is revealed and avenged. Dark, funny, poignant. I really liked how events unfold in this quirky drama. Good rental.

Oscar Picks 2017

If I were asked to vote for the Academy Awards, this is what my ballot would look like. Tune in Sunday night to see if the Academy agrees with me....

Picture - Moonlight
Actress: Natalie Portman - Jackie
Actor: Denzel Washington - Fences
Supporting Actress: Viola Davis - Fences
Supporting Actor: Mahershala Ali - Moonlight
Director: Damien Chazelle - La La Land
Animated Feature: Kubo and the Two Strings
Documentary: I Am Not Your Negro
Original Screenplay: Manchester by the Sea
Adapted Screenplay: Fences
Original Song: How Far I'll Go
Musical Score: La La Land
Visual effects: Doctor Strange
Editing: Moonlight
Production Design: La La Land
Makeup and Hair-styling: Star Trek Beyond
Costumes: Jackie
Foreign: The Salesman
Sound Mixing: La La Land
Sound Editing: Hacksaw Ridge
Documentary Feature: O.J.: Made in America
Documentary Short: Joe's Violin
Animated Short: Piper
Live Action Short: Ennemis Interieurs

Hacksaw Ridge

I avoided seeing Hacksaw Ridge in the theater because I heard that the war scenes were pretty gruesome. Since it was nominated for several Oscars I was happy to see it released to DVD before the awards ceremony. It is the only nominee for Best Picture that I hadn't seen. The first half of the movie was all background and story. The second half was mostly battle scenes. It was kind of like 2 movies. I liked the set-up and story of the plucky young solider who was a conscientious objector, but if this had not been a true story, I would not have believed half of what went on in the battle scenes. The dramatization was gory, but then again, so is war. I liked this movie more than I expected to. A decent rental.

Friday, February 10, 2017

American Pastoral

A dysfunctional family is front and center in American Pastoral in a sad, desperate story. A disgruntled daughter runs away and crisis is achieved. Strange behavior on the home-front and pursuit of activism make for high drama. A decent rental.

The Accountant

A thriller with the title The Accountant doesn't sound quite right. How can an accountant have an edge? Make him a killer. Cooking the books and stronger tactics ensue in this film. OK rental.

Tuesday, February 07, 2017

Frank & Lola

The pressure and struggle in romantic relationships makes for good cinema. In Frank & Lola such struggles are presented with wonderful performances and a dark tone. The baggage that each character brings to the relationship is interesting and dramatic. A thoughtful film with an edge. Good rental.

Friday, February 03, 2017

Denial

Theories that the Holocaust did not happen blow my ind. In the film Denial an author is sued for libel when she challenges such an author in print. The case is tried in the UK which brings it's own eccentricities and drama to this legal battle. The emotion and examples are real. Based on a true story, I liked this film.

Thursday, February 02, 2017

13 Hours

The reality of struggle and violence in the Middle East is portrayed in 13 Hours. Libya is a volatile place and the courage of CIA agents to try to bring it under control is portrayed in this film. We see their personal lives alongside their professional lives. This provides a stark contrast. An intense film I liked a lot.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Bad Moms

When you are a Mom, the satisfaction and love outweighs the struggle and frustration of being a parent. In the movie Bad Moms both sides of motherhood are explored with humor and honesty. I was surprised by how much I liked this move that balanced silly with serious. Not just slapstick, there is a heart with the humor. I liked this movie.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

The Book of Mormon

My daughter Liza very generously gifted me with tickets to The Book of Mormon on Broadway for Christmas this year. On this Saturday afternoon we left behind the worries and struggle of our everyday lives and laughed and laughed and laughed. The irreverence and blasphemy in the story of Mormon missionaries taking their message to a village in Uganda tickled my funny-bone. My face hurt from laughing for 3 hours. After the show, we went to dinner and as we were leaving our waiter confided in us that he was auditioning for Book of Mormon on Monday. I hope he got it. Great show and a great time with my kids.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Star Trek Beyond

In my quest to see all of the Oscar nominated films this year, I caught up with Star Trek Beyond because it is nominated for makeup and hair-styling. For all of the action and battles it still has its sense of humor and nostalgia. Well written, well done. Good rental.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Can We Take a Joke?

For a long time I have been preaching tolerance, so the documentary Can We Take a Joke? was right up my alley. The history of being offensive in public, and more specifically, in comedy is explored. The talent and insight in this film is astounding. An important film about social consciousness, what is and isn't offensive and how we deal with it. I really liked this film.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Inferno

Another quest to save the world is the plot of Inferno. I did not feel the urgency that the characters did, but the production value is high and the acting is sincere. An OK rental.

Monday, January 23, 2017

The Handmaiden

For me, the central theme of The Handmaiden is control. Beautifully shot, this story is a struggle for dominence and a desperate longing for true love. Erotic, explicit and witty. Quite a film.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Jackie

After watching Killing Kennedy, following up with the film Jackie was a bit intense. The sadness of the assassination of John F. Kennedy Jr. is amplified through the eyes of his wife Jackie. Natalie Portman's performance is great. A very moving film.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

20th Century Women

Set in the late 70s, this story of a woman, her son and the people in her life is the journey we take in 20th Century Women. A practical, earthy, single mother enlists the help of her friends and boarders to guide her teenage son's life lessons. It is a story of relationships and decision-making. Performances are outstanding and the coming of age story gets a fresh look. I really liked this film.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Killing Kennedy

Bill O'Reilly's series of "Killing" books are being made into movies. Killing Lincoln was very good and Killing Regan is on the way. The film version of Killing Kennedy is a good recreation of the days before and of the Kennedy assassination. Interesting to see events from the shooters perspective. Sad to relive it as well. Good film.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Moonwalkers

A crew of misfits take on the challenge of faking a moon landing in Moonwalkers to stay alive and keep the cash. Funny film with a crime twist and a great cast. Good recommendation from Movie BS with Bayer and Snider. Fun rental.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Film Favorites 2016

As always, choosing a Top 10 list of films I've seen at the end of the year is a struggle for me. This year I've narrowed it down to 24 from the dozens of new releases I've seen this year. I'm sure I will add to this as the limited releases reach our small state, but this is where the list stands right now. Click on the title to see what I thought when I saw the film. Again, these are my "favorites", I'm not a fan of the descriptor "best", as appreciating all art is subjective. The list is in no particular order. Enjoy.

Don't Think Twice
Swiss Army Man
10 Cloverfield Lane
Midnight Special
The Meddler
Elvis & Nixon
Green Room
The Family Fang
Nice Guys
Maggie's Plan

Florence Foster Jenkins
Sully
Doctor Strange
Bleed for This
Moonlight
Moana
Captain Fantastic
Mr. Church
The Beatles: Eight Days a Week
Manchester by the Sea

La La Land
Fences
Hidden Figures
A Monster Calls

Miss Sharon Jones

There are a lot of dynamic performers in the history of music. In the documentary Miss Sharon Jones! we meet singer Sharon Jones during her battle with cancer. She's up, she's down and the last 10 minutes of the film are rather triumphant. Her approach to music is pure joy. A wonderful piece of music history available on Netflix Instant.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

A Monster Calls

The book A Monster Calls is interpreted in the film of the same name. This film deals with a boy's coping with grief in his dreams and waking life. He is visited by a monster who tells him three stories, and the fourth must be his. The monster's stories force him to face his feelings and grief as his Mother is dying of cancer. The story deals with many emotions in an honest way, using fantasy as a vehicle. I loved this film, Well done.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Deepwater Horizon

The explosion of the oil rig Deepwater Horizon is dramatized in a feature film. The disaster is huge and the lives lost are tragic. This film is tough to watch.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Gleason

Steve Gleason was a talented NFL player. In the film Gleason we see his decline into ALS through his video journals. A quickly debilitating disease, we see his support system form and grow to meet his needs. The amount of medical equipment and expertise is astounding. A story of family, legacy and the power of positive thinking. Excellent documentary.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Heart of a Dog

The documentary Heart of a Dog is a true painting on film. Pieces of archival footage a pieced together like a quilt with a loving narration. I found that I just needed to sit back and let the film wash over me. A beautiful, touching film.

Sunday, January 08, 2017

Hidden Figures

The story told in Hidden Figures should be taught in all classrooms. To learn of the individuals who worked so diligently at NASA to get a man in space is inspiring. Did I mention that most of them were women...of color? The essential portrayal of human rights at the time, reminds of us how far we've come and what still needs to be done. Equality in regards to race and gender is something we must always work on and be aware of. This film puts this in front of us in the historical context of the space race. I grew up in this era, and the emotion I experienced when that rocket blasts off took me by surprise. The road traveled to get there was emotional and intense. This film tells an important story well. See it.

Saturday, January 07, 2017

Blue Jay

The black & white film Blue Jay is a sweet reunion between high school sweethearts. The strength of this film are the performances, especially Sarah Paulson. Near the end there is a dramatic reveal that is tender and sad. Mark Duplass should be proud of this film. Well done.

By Sidney Lumet

I first learned of the documentary By Sidney Lumet at Tribeca Film Festival last year. His work sits on the top of my all-time favorites list. He also has been generous with his process in books and interviews. In this documentary, Lumet talks about his life and time with his family and film. He has led a fascinating life. I had the pleasure of meeting he and his wife years ago at Tribeca Film Festival. They were friendly and low key. This documentary is worth a look.

Monday, January 02, 2017

Fences

There is a power in words. In the film Fences those words are delivered with strength and passion. Denzel Washington directs this film version of August Wilson's work with a steady hand and powerful performances from the entire cast. The words are sharp and the story takes dramatic turns. This drama is full of style and depth. I liked this one.

Sunday, January 01, 2017

Lion

A lot of films based on true stories are unbelievable. In Lion the story of a 5 year old separated from his family in India is heart-wrenching. He spends the next 25 years living in Australia with his adoptive family. He has success and struggles. As the internet becomes more sophisticated he has tools that ultimately help him find his mother. Beautifully shot with strong performances, this is a touching film.

Rogue One

Air battles with X wings are thrilling in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story . In the air and on the ground, the death toll is a bit devastating. Prequels give us a base and motivations for events and beloved characters. This film gives us these and then takes them away...understandably. I loved the action and the cameos of familiar characters. As others have said, this is a good stand-alone Star Wars film. Lots of action and I learn about U wing fighters. Aside from the high body count, I really enjoyed this chapter in the Star Wars universe.

Yoga Hosers

In a light film like Yoga Hosers I did not expect performance, but the young leads did a good job with some weird material. The fact that their fathers are involved definitely showed a level of confidence. I'd like to see in their future work. A fun, silly film.