Friday, November 20, 2020

Relic

Generations are haunted in the film Relic. Is it a specter? Is it the house? Is it reality? Getting to the bottom of strange goings on is a good horror ride. Sometimes reality is more frightening than the supernatural.

Friday, October 30, 2020

DVD.com in Lock-Down

 When I first experienced the Empty Nest in the late 90s I had more time to watch movies. My older daughter was a bit of a cinephile, and I was fascinated when she and her friends would see a film on it's opening weekend. I liked movies, but did not consume them as voraciously as she. As my idle hours increased this changed. I got used to going to the cinema by myself and trips to the video store were frequent. In 2002 my daughter started talking about something called Netflix. I was skeptical of getting DVDs in the mail, but she signed me up as a birthday gift. And what a gift it was! As I merrily scrolled through the library, adding films to my queue, I realized that many titles I tried to find at the video store or the library were now at my fingertips from the comfort of my home. In no time I eased into a routine of renting 3 movies a week. Quite a value and great entertainment.

 My other form of movie consumption was the cinema. Every weekend I would follow my daughter's lead and head to that room in the dark to see the latest releases. From big studio blockbusters to art house gems, I was a consumer. If the reviews on a film were so-so I would put the title in my Netflix queue for a low risk, high value viewing at home. Over time, I learned how to get the latest releases and classic gems delivered to my door. 

A few years ago, I was approached to be part of a group to promote the newly branded Netflix service dvd.com. Swag arrived at my door and reward points could be earned by posting on social media and participating in activities.#DVDNation #ad I was even fortunate enough to meet the people in this Directors group on a visit to one of the Netflix distribution hubs. Seeing the process of how they turned around thousands of DVDs a day was fascinating. We joked about who had the most movies in their queue and reveled in the joy of our mutual love of film and physical media.

When we went into lock-down in March, the closing of theaters made sense. Though I understood, it left a void in my film world. The comfort that I took in my Netflix subscription was valuable. Movies delivered to my house? Sweet! Since I had been to the hub and knew that they sanitized the discs, I was not worried about exposure. The USPS handled the deliveries like a champ. At first, I leaned toward light fare and comedies, but I was feeling and unsettled restlessness. Renting the 1927 film Wings taught me a lesson. I found comfort in a film made over 90 years ago. The themes of comradery and loyalty, along with some amazing cinematography was very comforting. Then the movie Auntie Mame (1958) was recommended as a movie to watch with the family. Once again I was comforted by a film of a certain age. The movies kept coming and I kept finding satisfaction in films from the 30s, 40s, 50s and 60s. The best part was never leaving the house to get them. The service from the dvd.com hubs and the USPS has been flawless. I have never appreciated their services more. Since March, I have made sure to write my thanks to both the USPS and Netflix on the return envelopes. I hope they know how sincere those messages are. If you love movies DVD.com is the way to go with the best DVD library around and unbeatable service. Thanks so much to Netflix!

Sunday, October 18, 2020

The Trial of the Chicago 7

If you like historical drama, The Trial of the Chicago 7 portrays an important time in American history. Excellent film. Outstanding performances. Disturbing look at our justice system. "The whole world is watching." Well done.

Saturday, October 17, 2020

The Hospital

In The Hospital things just keep going wrong. The distortion of power and bureaucracy is depicted well. I saw this in the theater back in the day and it still holds up. Outstanding performances.

Inheritance

Not every Inheritance is about money. A mystery man surfaces after a wealthy man dies. Who he is and why he's there makes for a mystery that takes some startling turns. I liked this movie a lot, but it's pretty bizarre.I liked it.

Friday, October 16, 2020

Exeter

A supernatural horror film, Exeter, was made in RI at an alleged haunted site. Teenagers awaken the supernatural to a creepy effect. There are plenty of jump scares. This is a decent scary movie.

Thursday, October 15, 2020

Making The Boys

Making the Boys is an excellent documentary about making The Boys in the Band, both the play and the film. Mart Crowley tells the story along with the cast and collaborators. The film is personal and powerful. Great rental.

Monday, October 12, 2020

No Time for Sergeants

 The classic No Time for Sergeants is a military themed comedy. The interactions between all of the different personalities makes for very funny scenes. This is a great cast. Very entertaining.

Saturday, October 10, 2020

Charlie's Angels (2019)

The 2019 version of Charlie's Angels is a cool action film that stays true to the source material...and then some. The story is interesting and the chase and fight scenes rock. Well done. Good rental.

Friday, October 09, 2020

Winter Kills

I got classic 70s vibes from the drama Winter Kills. Wardrobe and cars are spot on. Basically, this is a murder mystery that goes many different ways. I won't spoil it, but there is a yellow Pinto in a chase scene. The last half hour is the best part of the film. Wonderful performances.

Monday, October 05, 2020

Dirty Grandpa

In Dirty Grandpa a hijacked road trip is played for laughs. A raunchy ride with a sweet spot. I liked this one more than I expected to.

Sunday, October 04, 2020

Dick Johnson is Dead

A unique look at end of life, Dick Johnson is Dead is a sweet tribute to the film maker's father. Lots of heart. Lots of humor. Lots of love. Long live Dick Johnson.

Saturday, October 03, 2020

Driveways

In Driveways, while trying to settle her deceased sister's estate, a woman's young son befriends the elderly next door neighbor. This story about generational relationships packs an emotional punch. Many feels.

Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Songs My Brothers Taught Me

Songs My Brothers Taught me is a poignant story of life decisions, consequences, love and family. Beautifully shot. "And when the wind is too strong we all know to lean into it so it don't blow us away."

Sunday, September 27, 2020

Never Rarely Sometimes Always

 The portrayal of young relationships in Never Rarely Sometimes Always is very poignant. From romantic, to friendships, to authorities the perceptions run the gamut. The performances given by the young actors in this difficult story are excellent.

Friday, September 25, 2020

I Love You to Death

 As dark comedies go, I Love You to Death is a good one. When a womanizer's wife gets fed up, things don't quite go according to plan. The humor lies in the failures. Great performances.

Saturday, September 19, 2020

The High Note

 In The High Note we get a story of music, determination and principles set in the music industry. The star is played by Tracee Ellis Ross, daughter of Diana Ross, who is a wonderful singer in her own right. I was happy to see in promotional interviews, that her Mom liked the film.

Friday, September 18, 2020

Barbarella

 Barbarella is considered a cult classic. It is a sci-fi ride with strong sexual content. The absurd elements made me laugh, though I'm not sure that was the intent. The special effects are impressive for the time. I saw the original costumes that Jane Fonda wore at an art exhibit a few years ago. Still sexy today.

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Ready or Not

I wasn't sure what to expect going into the film Ready or Not. I got a wild horror-thriller with great performances and a warped sense of family. Violent and dark with a bizarre ending. If you like horror this is a good rental.

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Charade

You need to pay attention to follow the aliases in Charade, a classic thriller. This is a murder mystery that twists and turns. The theme is iconic, the romance is relentless.

Sunday, September 13, 2020

Anatamy of a Murder

 The film Anatomy of a Murder is an All-star courtroom drama with a bit of a twist. Victim shaming is in high gear, so are the lies. Excellent film, a classic drama.

I'm Thinking of Ending Things

The less you know going into I'm Thinking of Ending Things, the better. It is as trippy as you would expect a Kaufman film to be. So strange. The script and performances are outstanding, but the interpretation is up to the viewer. I loved the ballet. This film benefits on multiple viewings.

The Adventures of Robin Hood

 I have always heard a lot of references to Errol Flynn, but I had never sat down with one of his films. Watching The Adventures of Robin Hood, I now understand what all the fuss was about. His charm, charisma and physical prowess are dynamic on the screen. He lights up the screen in every scene he's in. The swashbuckling is no joke. I really enjoyed this film and his performance.

Saturday, September 12, 2020

First Cow

First Cow is a story of survival and friendship. A cow is central to a simple economy and two men work toward capitalizing on that. A bit slow, but intriguing and thoughtful. Beautifully shot in the woods of Oregon. There is corny humor as well.

"What do a beggar and a baker have in common?  They both need bread."

"Which side of the tree is best for branches?   The outside."

 I liked this film.

Friday, September 11, 2020

Bad Education

 Based on a true story, Bad Education is a tale of secrets, deception and a lot of money. Excellent performances. Good rental.

Thursday, September 10, 2020

Once Were Brothers: Robbie Robertson and The Band

The documentary Once Were Brothers follows The Band in Robbie Robertson's words. Lots of photos, archival footage and interviews. Cool music history. Good rental. 

"The creative process is trying to catch yourself off guard...just see what happens." ~ Robbie Robertson

Wednesday, September 09, 2020

The Birdman of Alcatraz

 Based on an interesting true story, in Birdman of Alcatraz a convicted murderer becomes an expert on birds while in prison. This film has very cool cinematography and great performances.  This is a classic worth seeing.

Monday, September 07, 2020

Dial M for Murder

In Dial M for Murder a man decides that the revenge for his wife's indiscretion is murder. This film is highly stylized and well written. The intrigue makes this a satisfying mystery. I especially loved the costumes. This is one of Hitchcock's best thrillers.

Alice At the Palace

Alice at the Palace is a delightful adaptation of Alice in Wonderland from the New York Shakespeare Theater circa 1982. It is dynamic and creative with wonderful songs.There are also familiar faces that made this fun to watch.

Corvette Summer

 The search for a stolen car sets up the events in the film Corvette Summer. The steps and mis-steps are entertaining. This is worth a watch just to see a very young Mark Hamil and Annie Potts.

Divine Madness

The concert movie Divine Madness brings us Bette Midler at her finest. The staging of this is divine, the performance is divine, the artist is divine. The film is well named. I especially liked the the last half hour. What a performance.

Sunday, September 06, 2020

Falsettos

Oh the talent in the 2016 revival of Falsettos. Thanks to a subscription to Broadway HD that I was gifted, I was able to enjoy this gem at home. The unique staging, the wonderful music, a heartfelt story of love and life and performances that knock it out of the park made this a true joy. What a musical!

All That Jazz

Every once in a while you need a little Fosse. All That Jazz delivers in the story of his life through the character Joe Gideon. Based on Bob Fosse's life and persona, we follow his struggles and his triumphs. In his personal and professional endeavors there is plenty of drama, humor and dance. Awesome performances make this classic easy to enjoy.

Saturday, September 05, 2020

The Art of the Steal

Politics, art and money makes the documentary The Art of the Steal a compelling story. Real-life drama and scheming around a valuable art collection has intriguing ins and outs. This is a very interesting film.

Friday, September 04, 2020

Bring it On

For the first hour of Bring It On I figured that I'm just too old to appreciate it. As the story of competition and fair-play unfolded, my interest grew. The last half hour the story really brings it. Very satisfying.

Thursday, September 03, 2020

The Outpost

 War stories are rough. The Outpost is a story of soldiers fighting in Afghanistan under less than optimal conditions. Poor equipment, missed communications and longing for home, these soldiers brave a lot. Impressive and intense story.

Monday, August 24, 2020

Arsenic and Old Lace

The philosophy in Arsenic and Old Lace is, "What we've been doing is a mercy." This film was probably the first dark comedy I saw. Well worth a re-watch. So funny. So weird. So clever. A true classic.

Sunday, August 23, 2020

Quintet

Quintet is a dystopian story told around a game where survival is the prize. There is so much snow. A dreary tale, but the performances and music are excellent. This is an OK rental.

American Son

The story told in the film American Son is disturbing. This is an important film regarding race and justice. The situation is compounded by a broken relationship. This must have been so powerful live on Broadway. I am grateful that this film is available on Netflix, I hope a lot of people see it.

Thursday, August 20, 2020

Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Verdon

 Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Verdon is a crazy horror mockumentary with a classic cameo. Every trope is explored. Decent rental.

Sunday, August 16, 2020

Tap

I saw Tap when it came out in theaters. I love to watch tap dancing, especially when it's Gregory Hines, Sammy Davis Jr. and Savion Glover. Three of the best. Suzzanne Douglas has chops too, and Joe Morton brings it as the heavy. Really like this film.

The Old Guard

I usually don't like battle scenes with immortals, but the fight choreography in The Old Guard is outstanding. Theron and Layne are great as the heroes protecting the world as they know it. This movie is worth a watch.

Saturday, August 15, 2020

Guns Akimbo

 A violent video game turns real life in Guns Akimbo. The story moves fast and the stakes are high. Violent and bloody, this is a crazy ride. 

Fear City: New York vs The Mafia

 Fear City: New York vs The Mafia is a docu-series chronicling the history of mafia activity in NYC in the 70s and 80s. The structure of the organization and how the feds went after them is intriguing. This is a little drawn out but interesting.

Friday, August 14, 2020

Downhill

When 2 high profile comedic actors are cast as a couple in Downhill, a light comedy is expected. Not here. These comedic actors handle serious roles well in a story of a relationship on the rocks. This is a heavy drama that's uncomfortable to watch. One of the final scenes is a good example of use your words. This is a powerful drama.

"If you don't like the way that I look at you, then show me something different."

Thursday, August 13, 2020

Trolls World Tour

 Music with a message delivers in Trolls World Tour. The messages? Tolerance, diversity, kindness, friendship, creativity and unity. It feels like a lot at some points, but the heart of the Trolls are in the right place. This is a cute movie.

Sunday, August 09, 2020

John and Yoko: Above Us Only Sky

 The documentary John and Yoko: Above Us Only Sky is the gentle story of the making of the album Imagine. The story of the collaboration between John Lennon and Yoko Ono is interesting and creative. The archival footage is fascinating and comforting. A lovely piece of music history.

Planet of the Apes (1968)

The film Planet of the Apes ventures into so many genres. Drama. Sci-fi. Adventure. Politics. Justice. Social Commentary. This futuristic society with apes as the dominant race and humans as the underlings is very well formed. The script is profound and dramatic. It's impressive how quoted it is. A true classic. Well worth watching.

The Birds

I re-watched The Birds and was impressed with how this film holds up. The story is rather strange, but the quirky factors give a very disturbing situation a touch of charm. The production value is excellent. This film is dramatically shot. There is suspense and drama galore.I liked this film when I first saw it decades ago and I'm even more impressed with it now.

Saturday, August 08, 2020

Wah - Wah

The family drama Wah-Wah deals with themes of abandonment, addiction, coming of age and accomplishment. Well done. Good rental.

Thursday, August 06, 2020

The Underneath

 In The Underneath this story goes from family drama to heist thriller. A gambling addict returns to his hometown and tries to make up to family and friends. This is an interesting film telling an interesting story with a few twists. Decent rental.

Tuesday, August 04, 2020

Making Mr. Right

 A scientist creates an android in his image for space exploration in Making Mr. Right. In the process, social situations are explored and relationships develop. Fun, sweet, funny, sweet, thoughtful, sweet, clever and did I mention sweet? John Malkovich gives a brilliant dual performance.This is a very entertaining film.

Sunday, August 02, 2020

Basquiat

 The biopic Basquiat follows the rise and fall of the young street artist Jean Michel Basquiat. He was a popular artist in the Andy Warhol circles in the 80s and enjoyed success as well as disappointments. This is an interesting story with a great cast.

Oh God!

 A good man brings God's word to the modern world in the movie Oh God! This is an interesting, sweet and sometimes funny look at faith, decency and communication. "You talk, I'll listen." A lovely film. Love that Pacer.

Saturday, August 01, 2020

The Great Race

 The Great Race is an adventure in competition, mayhem, romance and some of the funniest fight scenes on screen. This film is a classic and a very fun ride!

Friday, July 31, 2020

To Die For

The film To Die For takes the viewer on a wild, wicked ride that is fueled by passion and ambition. The whole thing is a bit twisted. The ending is stunning, I really enjoyed this film.

Monday, July 27, 2020

Marty

 I saw the film Marty decades ago. I remember that I liked it, and I have a soft spot for Ernest Borgnine. On this watch, I was reminded of what a sad character Marty is. In the 50s a man in his mid-thirties was regarded as a problem. Marty is sincere and caring. This a story worth watching.

Sunday, July 26, 2020

Zandalee

The crazy love story of Zandalee is a wild ride. Infidelity and uncertainty drive the plot. There is a very aggressive dance sequence that is impressive.

Saturday, July 25, 2020

Ball of Fire

When a sincere group of professors encounter a brassy nightclub singer, they have truly met a Ball of Fire. They encounter the mob and mischief while exploring the world of language through slang. Very funny story of intellect meets the street. What a classic.

The Best Years of Our Lives

In The Best Years of Our Lives military men return to their civilian lives after surviving the horror of war. Their relationships are challenged and they persevere. This drama is heartfelt and honest. I liked this classic a lot more than I expected.

Thursday, July 23, 2020

Pecker

 A young man finds fame in the film Pecker and it is quite a lesson for all involved. His passion and talent for photography brings a notoriety that all involved must figure out how to deal with in the art world. Themes of creativity, family, friendship, fame, exploitation, community, kindness and loyalty are woven well in this entertaining, risque story. Thank you John Waters.

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Spaceballs

 The sci-fi parody Spaceballs is a fun ride. The galaxy is so funny and the characters are so goofy. I watched this movie when I needed a good laugh, and boy did it deliver! So silly. So good.

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Inside Daisy Clover

The making of a star is told in Inside Daisy Clover. Daisy has high aspirations and she achieves many of them. The Hollywood star-system is her nemesis, but she deals with it as best she can. "I'll bet my simple healthy instincts against your any day." Natalie Wood is elegant, even as a feisty tomboy, and there is a haircut that comes full circle. There is no lack of drama and the performances are excellent. I liked this film a lot.

Monday, July 20, 2020

Teddy Bear

 You would not expect the story of a young bodybuilder to be told in a film titled Teddy Bear, but it turns out to be very fitting. The bodybuilder is socially awkward, but longs for connection. He is fine in the comfort of the gym, but struggles in day to day encounters. His Mother holds him back from getting out in the world unless it is for a competition. When he ventures outside of his comfort zone, he ultimately finds what he is looking for. This story is very sweet and well told. I liked this film a lot.

Sunday, July 19, 2020

The Trapeze

 The ambition of a performer leads to some harrowing situations in The Trapeze. The result is a love triangle with lots of drama. The story is simple, emotional and predictable. The aerial work is astounding. This was a fun film.

Harvey

 The classic film Harvey is about a lot of things. Control, societal norms and keeping up appearances make people think that Elwood P. Dowd is crazy, when what really motivates him is kindness. People judging things they don't understand get a good hard look. This film is a good lesson in compassion.

Saturday, July 18, 2020

What's Up Doc?

 Movies like What's Up Doc? remind me of what a good comedic actress Barbra Streisand is. The mayhem caused by a robbery, identical overnight bags and some snappy dialog make this a delight to watch. The sincerity of Streisand's character, and the way she delivers her lines moves the madcap story along at a good clip, and never misses a laugh. I thought this was a very funny film.

Thursday, July 16, 2020

Mame

The musical version of Mame showcases Lucile Ball's gorgeous physicality. The way she walks, the way she dances, the way she gestures, all look dynamic and effortless. She is as much fun to watch as she is to listen to. The life of the outspoken Mame is portrayed with heart and humor in this film. Mame's declaration of , "open a new window every day" is a declaration of optimism and hope that we all can use.

Saturday, July 11, 2020

Mucho Mucho Amour: The Legend of Walter Mercado

 The story of Walter Mercado in Mucho Mucho Amour: The Legend of Walter Mercado is a love letter to passion. This creative, enthusiastic, upbeat person had a very popular TV show where he would work his magic. He had flair, a distinctive style and was beloved. This is an uplifting documentary.

Ride with the Devil

The brutality of the Civil War is brought to the screen in vivid detail in Ride with the Devil. There are lots of guns, lots of hatred. This film is beautifully shot, with excellent performances, but this is tough one.

Friday, July 10, 2020

Jackie Brown

The film Jackie Brown gives us a strong, no-nonsense woman. This is a story of cons conning the cons in a brilliant web of dialogue, performance, music and violence. Pam Greer shines in this crime film. Well done.

Sunday, July 05, 2020

Dangerous When Wet

 In the film Dangerous When Wet I learned of the talents of Ester Williams. Not only was she a phenomenal swimmer, but a talented actress. Her natural charm plays well on the screen in the story of a young woman attempting to swim the English Channel. It is a family venture and we are treated to a story of ambition, hard work, romance, adventure and accomplishment. This is a very entertaining film with a fun animated sequence. I liked this film a lot.

The Private Files of J. Edgar Hoover

 For more history, The Private Files of J. Edgar Hoover takes us to all of the messy situations in government under 8 administrations. The FBI was Hoover's world and he ran it his way. A lot of these situations don't seem much different from present day politics. This is a film full of real life drama. Well done.

Saturday, July 04, 2020

The Great Escape

The classic film The Great Escape is a harrowing prison story. Hearing prison called "the cooler" sets you in World War II, the language of the prisoners is key. The actual escape is the classic, tunneling-out method, but once they are out the real adventure begins. This is based on a true story and takes place on the 4th of July. I'm glad that this was my Independence Day film. Appropriate

Friday, July 03, 2020

Father of the Bride (1950)

 Spencer Tracy shines in Father of the Bride (1950). The dated view of women and relationships is a little hard to take, but if viewed in the setting of the times it feels historic. Elizabeth Taylor shows why she was a big star. The tropes of wedding angst are played for entertainment. I liked this film.

Hamilton

 In 2016 I fell in love with the cast recording of the Broadway musical Hamilton. The compelling story of Alexander Hamilton and the birth of a nation is full of drama, battles, love and scandal. These elements make for perfect theater. The team that put the musical together filmed one of the last performances of the original cast. In 2019 I was treated to a performance of Hamilton on Broadway in NYC, and later that year, saw a road production with the Angelica Company. Such a delight. The film was sold to Disney and the original plan for releasing the film was a theatrical release in the fall of 2020.  When Broadway shut down in March of 2020 and we were trapped in lock-down by a pandemic, they decided to release the film to Disney + on July 3rd. That morning I woke at 6am and watched the film. What a pleasure to watch the original cast work inside a piece they had been performing for over a year. I'm glad that I saw this in the theater, because the sets and movement around the set is hard to capture in a film. They concentrated on the story and the performances. It is such a joy to be able to watch this whenever I want. Thanks to the creators and Disney +.

Thursday, July 02, 2020

Blazing Saddles

 One of the first risque movies that I saw in the theater was Blazing Saddles. So edgy, so inappropriate, so funny. Watching it now, much of the humor is cringe-worthy, but somehow, still very finny. Not your typical western. The finale is off the rails. This movie still makes me laugh.

Wednesday, July 01, 2020

A New Leaf

 In A New Leaf we have a scoundrel, a wealthy man who as lost everything. His solution? Marry a rich woman. The premise is unseemly, but is carried off by the performance and writing of Elaine May. This is a very dark comedy that is well crafted.

Sunday, June 28, 2020

The Watermelon Woman

 A creative deep dive into film history is the base of The Watermelon Woman. Researching an actress from the 30s, sheds an unexpected light for an industrious film maker. The detailed fictional creation of what-if is very satisfying. I especially liked the surprise revelations. Good film.

Word is Out

The stories of a group of gay and lesbian people in the documentary Word Is Out are powerful and important. Made in 1977, one of the subjects referred to "faggotry in the late '50s" as sissy, lilies, pansies, limp wrist, faggoty. This terminology was jarring to me, and drove home one of the levels of disrespect that is experienced. There are also stories of human rights issues that are just as problematic and need to be addressed. Over the years, some have, but there is still work to be done. This is an important documentary for awareness and activism. wordisoutmovie.com

Thursday, June 25, 2020

Brockmire

The public meltdown of a popular sports announcer is our introduction to Brockmire in this series. Describing situations with statements like, "A doozie of a pickle of a shitstorm.," the colorful character of Jim Brockmire barrels through his personal and professional life. For as brash and inappropriate as he can be, he is also likeable and as a big heart. I really liked this series. Very funny with an edge and just the right amount of drama...and that jacket!

Sunday, June 21, 2020

Les Girls

 In Les Girls we see the same situation told from several points of view. The costumes and dance numbers are outstanding. Wonderful film.

Topper

 There is a charm to Topper that is extraordinary. The story of a charismatic couple meeting their demise and then roaming the earth as spirits, has the perfect level of whimsy and humor. Their banter as they move from situation to situation shows their devotion to each other and their love of the life they have left. I saw this film as a kid and I think it was the first time I heard the word ectoplasm. This film has a lot of creativity and joy. Fun film.

Summer Stock

 On an invitation by her sister, in Summer Stock a young woman lets a group of performers use their farm to stage their performances. The line between the survival of the farm and putting on a musical becomes blurred by best of intentions. Two different goals must be met and the conflicts supply the drama and comedy. The music, dance and performances of both are great.

Friday, June 19, 2020

Saint Frances

 A ways into the film Saint Frances I thought to myself, "Frances is no saint." A relationship develops and evolves. Things don't always go right and consequences are real. For all of the uncomfortable moments, there is satisfaction. Good rental.

Thursday, June 18, 2020

Love Jones

 In Love Jones the exploration of love and sex are given a lot of thought and discussion. Are they in love? Is it just chemistry? This is a very thoughtful, honest love story. Well done.

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Victim

The fear of discrimination lies in the motivations of the characters in the film Victim. Blackmail and injustice make for high drama. The performances in this film are great. Lifestyle and morals play a big part in 60s London. My favorite line? "If you're old enough to vote, you're old enough to choose your own way of life." Good film.

Sunday, June 14, 2020

Da 5 Bloods

The post-Vietnam war story Da 5 Bloods starts as a reunion and turns into a treasure hunt. There is high drama when the soldiers return to Vietnam to find a treasure. There is camaraderie and betrayal, violence and compassion. This was an adventure I did not expect. The writing, directing, music and performances are outstanding. Worth a look.

Our Betters

 In a story of class and infidelity Our Betters looks at whether the upper class is really better. In what way? The characters are awful, yet make excuses. The subject matter is disturbing, but the performances and costumes are great.

Friday, June 12, 2020

The Shawshank Redemption

 I saw The Shawshank Redemption many years ago, I knew I liked it, but had forgotten many of the details. On a re-watch, this film really holds up. The story of friendship, rehabilitation, perseverance and escape is compelling. The performances are great. I can see why people watch this film over and over. It's that good.

Thursday, June 11, 2020

The Addams Family

 After listening to interviews with both Angelika Houston and Barry Levinson, I realized that I had never seen The Addams Family. The lives of the Addams' is funny and also rather sweet for a family of horror figures. When con-artists try to get at the family fortune, hilarity ensues. This film is very clever and very entertaining.

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Love Story

 Love Story was a book I read over and over when I was in middle school. It was made into the film Love Story in 1970. The brash characters' story of falling in love, captures a clash of class and culture. It takes a tragic turn, but love is always the centerpiece. This film still holds up.


Tuesday, June 09, 2020

13th

Discussing the injustices of racial inequality, 13th is an important film. It focuses on the prison system and the blatant racism in those systems. It is necessary to raise awareness of this history and the times we are living in.

Sunday, June 07, 2020

The Lovebirds

When a couple finds themselves accidentally on the run, The Lovebirds becomes a caper movie very quickly. Trapped is a series of bad decisions, after a disastrous accident, they plunge deeper into trouble as the story develops. This is an entertaining film with charming performances. A decent rental. 

Cleopatra (1963)

The epic story of Cleopatra is told in grand style with an all-star cast. Elizabeth Taylor breathes life into the Egyptian queen in a passionate performance as she deals with the Romans and her love-life. The sets are elaborate and stunning, the story is high drama.  From the battlefield to the bedroom, this epic has it all. This is not just a film, it is an experience.

Friday, June 05, 2020

Clueless (1995)

In Clueless the story of Jane Austin's Emma is set in the 90s. The central character is in high school, and she rules the roost. Privileged and popular, at first, she comes off as vacuous, but it becomes apparent that she has ingenuity and a good heart. The ups and downs of high school are present no matter your class. The performances are great and the fashion of the day is a character itself. This movie holds up.

Thursday, June 04, 2020

Mata Hari (1931)

The story of Mata Hari is a thriller. The movie, based on an exotic dancer who was a spy in WW I, is intriguing. Though this film is a fictional account, it claims it's drama in the reality of history. The costumes and performances are outstanding. I really liked this film.

Wednesday, June 03, 2020

Last Christmas

I was not prepared for the fantasy element in Last Christmas, but it worked. A young girl makes the most of the few associations she has to find direction in her life. The less you know going into this film the better. I really liked the twist. Well done.

Sunday, May 31, 2020

Funny Girl

When you sing like an angel, but can't dance a lick, it helps to be a Funny Girl as Fanny Brice learns. This charming woman rises to stardom and falls in love. There are bumps in the road, but she handles them with humor and love. I really liked these performances. I really liked this movie.

Saturday, May 30, 2020

Boy

Poor parenting lies at the heart of Boy where a young family lacks a father. When he shows up, his effect is not good. He is using his son to find ill-gotten treasure. Though the father is presented in a whimsical light, the darkness of his motives are quite clear. The boy is so desperate for his Father's approval, he'll do anything. Sad story. Wonderful performances. There is a dance number at the end that is worth watching.

The Last Word

What would it be like to choose the person who writes your obituary? In The Last Word we find out when a wealthy woman, who is not very well liked, starts to worry about what her legacy will be. She approaches a writer at her local paper to write her obituary and goes down a road of self-examination that leads to showing her true heart. There was a lot more to this story than I expected. A solid rental.

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Hannah Gadsby: Douglas

Hannah Gadsby took the world by storm with her first stand up special. In her new special titled Douglas we go for a comedy ride that is no nonsense, smart and brave. She has a wry way of responding to the world that I really enjoy. Loved this special and look forward to more from this thoughtful person.

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

The Half of It

 In a present-day version of Cyrano, The Half of It has a young girl helping a fellow student woo a girl that she has a crush on. The character of Ellie is so charming and endearing and she really carries the story and the film. This is a wonderful film.

Monday, May 25, 2020

Lost Girls

A family's anguish in Lost Girls is raw and heartbreaking. A mother searches for her daughter, who she is sure has met and unfortunate demise. The police are little help and the victim shaming gets in the way of progress. All of the characters are flawed, but the Mother persists no matter what. This is based on a true story and the outcome is not a happy one. Somber film with excellent performances. 

The Red Shoes (1948)

The drama of the world of ballet is at the center of The Red Shoes. A young ballerina rises to stardom and falls in love. The complexities of mixing her personal life with her professional ambitions is a classic tale. This is a very pretty film. The performance at the center is dreamy and elegant. I liked this film a lot.

Sunday, May 24, 2020

Million Dollar Mermaid

The film Million Dollar Mermaid is the biopic of Annette Kellerman. A passionate swimmer, she found a way to monetize her talent in the entertainment world. This film is beautifully shot, the costumes are great and the performances are top-notch. Interesting to see the evolution of entertainment. Good film.

Saturday, May 23, 2020

The Third Man

I have had The Third Man recommended to me many times. This masterful mystery is full of drama, door work, log shots and intrigue. The cinematography is intricate, working shadows for every ounce of drama. I'm glad I finally saw this film and look forward to watching it again.

Janie Jones

I first saw Janie Jones at Tribeca Film Festival. On a rewatch I am reminded of the dramatic family circumstances with an underlying sweetness. There is trauma, struggle, rejection, growth, maturity and music. This film holds up. 

Friday, May 22, 2020

Mikey and Nicky

In a disturbing way, Mikey and Nicky is a buddy film where the buddies are at odds. They are childhood friends, but staying one step ahead of a hit-man adds stress to an already tense relationship. This crime thriller is well written with excellent performances. Lots of drama. Good rental.

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Sullivan's Travels

A Hollywood director has an idea for a research project and Sullivan's Travels begin. The film has some great Hollywood scenes. They depict the nightmare movie theater experience and the ideal movie theater experience. It's a great contrast. When Sullivan gets where he wants, things turn ugly and the drama turns dark. This is an excellent film I really enjoyed.

Sunday, May 17, 2020

The Photograph

Romance is alive and well in The Photograph, when 2 people meet because of a photograph and a reporter's story. Sexual chemistry and investigating the photograph become an equation for love. Life decisions come down to a realization that, "we need to make our own things without asking permission." There is substance to all of their actions. I liked this film a lot.

Strangers on the Train

Two Strangers on the Train meet and a thriller quickly develops.The two men share relationship details and one takes things a bit too far. Bourbon fuels his actions, I have never heard the euphemism, "boiled" for inebriation. Hitchcock guides the twists and turns in this excellent thriller. Glad that I finally saw this classic.

Saturday, May 16, 2020

Top Hat

The theme of mistaken identity is played for comedy in Top Hat when a dancer notices a woman and observes, that "her niceties are very nice." The observations and relationships in the film would not fly today so it is a bit of a time capsule. Rogers & Astaire are magical when they dance together. The grace combined with athleticism is a joy. Now I know where the song Cheek to Cheek is from. Astaire's tap dancing is mind boggling. what a talent! I liked this classic.

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

The Night of the Hunter

Beautifully shot, The Night of the Hunter is a solid thriller. Set in the depression, an evil preacher chases two children for money their Daddy stole and hid, swearing them to secrecy. The preacher is vile, the children are clever, and the cinematography is stunning. The writing has it's own lilt, and words are used in a poetic fashion. Children singing "Hing, Hang, Hung" is a bit jarring, but the pronouncement that "children are man at their strongest. They abide and they endure" is powerful. I really enjoyed this film, it was a solid rental and I'll bet it would be impressive on the big screen.

Sunday, May 10, 2020

Becoming

The documentary Becoming follows Michelle Obama on the book tour for her memoir, Becoming. The doc also tells of her life story and time in the White House. At this time, watching the large events for her tour, the phrase "the power of gathering" was rather poignant.

Saturday, May 09, 2020

Jerry Seinfeld: 23 Hours to Kill

Jerry Seinfeld's latest standup Jerry Seinfeld: 23 Hours to Kill is the legendary comedian more comfortable on stage than I've ever seen him. The material follows his traditional style, but his performance is relaxed, and makes a lot of sense when he does a bit about how he feels about his age. His ease and manner onstage come across well, and The Beacon Theater looks great. I liked this special a lot.

Heathers

Almost every talk around high school movies references Heathers. The story of clicks and bullying is not new, but where they take it is rather shocking. The dark tone is an interesting take, and I can see why this film is held in such high regard. As disturbing as the story is, the writing and performances make this more watchable than I would expect. What a rental.

Gypsy (1962)

My new love for Rosalind Russell had me renting the 1962 version of Gypsy.I have seen this story in several community theater versions and the 1993 version played over and over in our house back in the day. This version has the pizazz of old vaudeville, along with performances that flesh out the characters well. Russell plays the brash, lovable personality of Rose with a flair, while Natalie Wood's subtle vulnerability as Louise is masterful. I liked this version a lot.

Friday, May 08, 2020

M*A*S*H

The film M*A*S*H was a cultural phenomenon when I was a teenager. On the news, we were watching scenes from the conflict in Vietnam, and to see this story set in Korea hit pretty close to home. That it was dealt with with humor and irreverence struck a nerve with some, but for most it was much needed. The writing, performances and direction are outstanding. The Last Supper tableau for Walt is visually effective. Altman is a master. This is an excellent rental, the film really holds up.

Thursday, May 07, 2020

Drop Dead Gorgeous (2010)

I was a bit taken aback by the premise of Drop Dead Gorgeous. This mockumentary within the world of high fashion takes a very dark turn early on and I'll say that I found it more disturbing than funny.This film was recommended to me because I like mockumentaries, but this was not for me.

Saturday, May 02, 2020

Sweet Charity

The first time I can remember my parents going to the movies was when they went to see Sweet Charity with their friends in the theater. They talked about it for weeks after. I was 12. They bought the soundtrack album and I knew all the songs, and I have seen clips of the dance number over the years, but had never seen the film in its entirety. Today I fixed that. The story, the music, the choreography, such a fun film. I really liked the Laugh-In references, Fickle Finger of Fate and Sock it to me. The sign of the time Rythm of Life Church played well portraying the era, Big Daddy is the jam. His take on the Ten Commandments are so great. Church of the Month Club served Oscar well. The sass and determination in Charity and her friends is admirable, and lyrics like "get up get out and do it" are empowering. Smatter in a few declarations of  "up yours" and we know exactly how they feel. I'm glad I saw this on DVD because there is an alternate ending in the extras, which I preferred.This is a wonderful movie, and I did go back and watch all of the dance numbers before I returned the disc. Great rental.

A Star Is Born (1937)

The original version of A Star Is Born is interesting to watch after seeing the other 3 versions. Again, the story of a young actress' rise to stardom and her successful actor husband self-destructing, is a dramatic story. This version features performances that paint the characters a little more sympathetic. Janet Gaynor's performance takes her character from wide-eyed innocence, pronouncing "I'm gonna be somebody," to down to earth practicality in the wake of stardom. I liked it when Norman says to her, "a star is born," at the premiere of The Enchanted Hour. And when he asks her to marry him the first time she says "No thank-you." An interesting visual is the hand-prints on Hollywood Boulevard bookend the film. This was a fun journey, all 4 versions are worth watching.

Thursday, April 30, 2020

His Girl Friday

The film His Girl Friday has been on my must-see list for a while. After seeing Rosalind Russell in Auntie Mame, I moved this one to the top of my queue. What a film! The rapid-fire dialogue keeps up through the whole story. The scenes with telephone dialogue are especially impressive. It stars out as a bit of a love story and turns into a crime thriller. The pace of this film is quick, but not so much that you get lost. This is a great rental.

Sunday, April 26, 2020

Star Wars: Return of the Jedi

I have been listening to a podcast where 2 people who have never seen the Star Wars movies watch them in chronological order and discus each one with a guest who is a fan. I saw all of these films in the theater and have had a 43 year relationship with these movies, so listening to people who have not lived with these stories forever was highly entertaining. They actually became quite knowledgeable very quickly. This inspired me to really think about what movie in the saga was my favorite. I had recently watched A New Hope and being the first I saw will probably have a special place in my heart. But listening to them talk about Return of the Jedi, I was reminded of how entertaining it was, so I gave it a re-watch. It did not disappoint. There is nostalgia, action, battles and heart. Those crazy ewoks get me every time. This movie is worth watching just for the chase scenes. Great rental.

A Star Is Born (1954)

The movie A Star Is Born was remade 4 times to date. In the second version, the actress' success puts her husband in the shadows. He does not deal with it well. The musical numbers are show-stopping as Judy Garland just shines. A classic worth seeing.

Saturday, April 25, 2020

Prizzi's Honor

When two assassins fall in love the work gets tricky. In Prizzi's Honor it is all about the money, the mob, the job and love. Unconventional turns are many and near the end you realize that not all things are as they seem. John Huston shoots a heck of a film, This one's a classic.

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Arthur

The story of a spoiled rich man is entertaining and heartwarming. Arthur shines a light on the absurd excess of wealth, yet ultimately finds his heart. He does frivolous things with money, but very thoughtful things with his actions. It is lovely to watch a young Liza Minelli and Dudley Moore, they have great chemistry. The dialogue John Gielgud delivers is delicious. It is also fun to watch these characters figuring things out on the streets of NYC. This is a movie that really holds up.

Saturday, April 18, 2020

Crip Camp

The history of activism for the handicapped has a long history. In the documentary Crip Camp a wealth of archival film takes us through that history and the connection to Camp Jened, a camp for handicapped teens. The emotional aspects of the campers' disabilities, combined with their age is addressed respectfully and honestly with love and humor. We then watch these teens grow into adults who take their rights and advocacy to a very impressive place. This is an excellent film about an important topic.

Friday, April 17, 2020

The Devil Wears Prada

I met Meryl Streep in the summer of 2000. It had been a while since I had seen her in anything in the theater and, until she introduced herself I was not 100% sure it was her. I always say it was her pre-Devil Wears Prada years. After Adaptation and The Hours, this film seemed to propel her into the pop-culture lexicon. Playing the head of a fashion magazine in New York City, her interpretation of Miranda Priestly is brutal, yet ultimately vulnerable. Her relationships with her staff, her competitors and herself are complicated. As her assistant, I especially liked Stanley Tucci's character describing himself as, "a young boy growing up in Rhode Island with six brothers." As a Rhode Islander myself, I got it. I was happy to revisit this movie and yes, I cried in the same place I did when I first saw it. Good rental.

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Linda Ronstadt: The Sound of My Voice

The music in Linda Ronstadt: The Sound of My Voice was on constant play on the radio and on my stereo in my high school and college years. Going behind the scenes in this documentary with archival footage and interviews gives wonderful insight to her art and career. What a voice. What a heart. This is a great rental.

Sunday, April 12, 2020

Horse Girl

In Horse Girl a young woman with mental challenges struggles with reality. In a nuanced performance, Alison Bree takes us in and out of her world. This is a quiet psychological drama with a sad undertone. A decent rental.

Friday, April 10, 2020

Heaven Can Wait

A young quarterback for the LA Rams is working hard to stay fit and be the best professional athlete he can be. In Heaven Can Wait, things do not go quite as he planned. An unfortunate accident starts a string of events that take us to the afterlife...sort of. There are rules that must be followed, and negotiations take place. The bridge between earth and heaven can be a tricky one. The plot is very clever and leans heavily on the themes of loyalty and fairness. A tenor sax even has a key role. I originally saw this film over 40 years ago and it still holds up. Excellent rental.

Desperately Seeking Susan

In Desperately Seeking Susan we meet a married woman who reads the personals in the newspaper like you would follow a soap opera. This was the original social media, and she wonders about the people looking for love, or just a specific person...like Susan. When she actually inserts herself into one of the stories things go off the rails. The movie turns into a crime mystery - buddy story. There is stolen property, there is mistaken identity, there is love. There are a lot of pop-culture references. Cheez Doodles, Wonder Woman, a specific jacket, vanity plates and a cameo of a famous set of triplets set the time firmly in the 80s. This is a fun film that was much more than I expected. Well done.

Thursday, April 09, 2020

Sweet Smell of Success

The power of the press is a weapon in the film Sweet Smell of Success. The gossip papers could make or break a career and the power of the PR machine is used like a choke-hold. The dialog is very sassy and brash. A wife calls her husband Hitler when he tries to tell her what to do. In another scene a man tells his female assistant to "start thinking with your head instead of your hips." Yikes. As the story progresses and pot-shots are taken the most striking line is, "You have the scruples of a guinea pig and the morals of a gangster." What?!? This is a film about control and getting ahead. Writing and performances are top notch. Great rental.

Sunday, April 05, 2020

Wings (1927)

The film Wings from 1927 has the distinction of being the first film to win the Oscar for Best Picture.The story of WWI fighter pilots as heroes and humans is so well done. Stunning camerawork and a gorgeous soundtrack support the drama well. I realized that silent films do a great job of conveying the story with the performances. There are not a lot of dialogue cards in this film. The technical achievements are impressive. The human stories are also well told and quite sweet. The Shooting Star becomes Grandeur in the Sky...as it should. I really liked this film.

Friday, April 03, 2020

Thief

I saw the film Thief in the theater when it came out and was reminded of how good it was in an interview with James Caan. On a re-watch I was treated to a gangster story that was dark, gritty and dramatic. Caan's character is a safe-cracker trying to quit the game and the Mafia is not going to make it easy for him. There's a line where a guy calls Caan's character sonny, which struck me funny because that was the name of his character in The Godfather films. I wondered if it was intentional or just a turn of phrase. I liked the way this film was shot. This is a good rental.

Thursday, April 02, 2020

Auntie Mame

There is a joy in a film like Auntie Mame that exudes from the actor. I had the feeling that everyone in this cast was happy to be on that set and was having a great time. A young man goes to live with his flamboyant Auntie Mame and we go for the ride of his life. We understand her on their first meeting when she says, "Let's sit down for one minute and really get to know each other." She wears beautiful clothes and always a lovely bracelet. At the end of each scene there is an interesting thing they do with the lighting on Mame before the camera cuts. It gives her a very dramatic air. The dialogue is clever and words like twaddle and nincompoopery find their way into the conversations to great effect. The sets really work as well. The furniture in the NYC apartment portray the style of the time perfectly. Mame has a real zest for life, in her words, "Life is a banquet and most poor suckers are starving to death." This film is a delight.

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Wait Until Dark

I remember seeing Wait Until Dark on the midnight movies on TV back in my teen babysitting days. Sitting alone in a dark house, with sleeping children, I found this story of home invasion to be pretty scary. Watching this film as an adult, I appreciate the story of crime, manipulation, strength and cunning. There is a lot going on and the fact that the perceived victim is blind makes for great drama. I'm glad I re-visited this classic.

Friday, March 27, 2020

Fresh Dressed

I love documentaries about fashion. In the film Fresh Dressed I got a wonderful education on the history of hip-hop fashion. I had no idea that the looks and the style was such a big part of the culture.This is a fun, well done doc I appreciaated. My favorite quotes?
"Fashion is about authentic expression."  ~ Damon Dash
"To be fresh is to be recognized." ~ Pusha T

Thursday, March 26, 2020

The Birdcage

My affection for Robin Williams' film work is well known. In The Birdcage he portrays a nightclub owner whose son wants his fiance to meet his family. There are things about his family the young man would like to keep under wraps. His fiance's family has their own issues and it lends itself to a series of funny circumstances. There is a man on the run and mistaken identity are both played well for comedy. There is also a very sweet emotional underlying tone. It's a crazy ride with outstanding performances all around. This film really holds up.

Saturday, March 21, 2020

A Quiet Passion

The life and works of Emily Dickinson are explored in A Quiet Passion. Her life, work and tenacity are portrayed nicely. My favorite quote in the film is, "I hope you live for 100 years." with a response of, "What a repellent idea." I agree. If you like literary history this is a good rental.

National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation

I don't know why I had never seen the movie National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation. I was certainly aware of it, and had seen bits and pieces of it on TV, but never sat down to watch the whole thing. When I learned that Diane Ladd was in this my curiosity was peaked enough to rent it. What a gem! This movie moves along a a good clip, the story is everyone's worst nightmare and Chevy Chase delivers a complicated line like no other. The Star Spangled Banner and Pledge of Allegiance have all new meaning for me, I may giggle the next time someone says grace before dinner. I have never seen a swat team in a Christmas movie. This iconic cast pulls off every scene like a master class in comedy. This movie was such a pleasure.

Friday, March 20, 2020

Black Christmas (2019)

When Black Christmas came out in theaters I did not have time to get to the theater. Sadly it didn't play long enough for me to catch it on a big screen. The benefit here, is that by renting, I could watch the film a few times...and I did. This stalker / slasher horror story is well told. The intricacies of the story were all made clear. I liked the performances and the way it was shot. Lindsey as a snow angel a pretty cool visual. This was a good rental for me.

Saturday, March 14, 2020

Gimme Danger

I am familiar with The Stooges nd their music through pop culture references, but I'm not that familiar with their music. In an interview with Jim Jarmusch, the documentary Gimme Danger was recommended. The story of the band is interesting and has all the drama and joy you would expect from this popular band.  It is told with great photos and archival footage. A lot of time is spent with Iggy Pop as well. I found it interesting that Ron Asheton actually called Moe Howard to get the OK to use the name The Stooges. This is a documentary I really enjoyed.

Friday, March 13, 2020

Girl Interrupted

The question of who belongs in a mental institution is explored in Girl Interrupted. This is so well written, with wonderful performances from excellent young actors. My favorite line is when Valerie says, "Do not drop your anchor here." Good rental.

Thursday, March 12, 2020

Very Bad Things

In the course of a bachelor party weekend Very Bad Things tells the story of  one awful event after another. The trail of terrible events leads right up to the wedding. Though this could be viewed as a comedy, the events are so horrible, after a while you don't feel like laughing. This is an outrageous story. A decent rental.

Sunday, March 08, 2020

Portrait of a Lady on Fire

A romance builds in Portrait of a Lady on Fire with a quiet intensity. A painter is commissioned to paint the portrait of a woman with the intention of her family sending the painting to a potential husband. The woman being painted is resistant to the whole project, so the artist must use subtle techniques to produce an accurate likeness without having her sit. A relationship develops and it shows in the art. This is a layered story with genuine, intense emotions. This film is beautifully shot. I really liked this film.

Saturday, March 07, 2020

The Invisible Man (2020)

A new take on domestic abuse is explored in The Invisible Man. I liked the use of technology in unraveling the mystery. The struggle for survival provides some great fight scenes. This is a solid thriller with some strong performances. I really liked this film.

Queen & Slim

Two young people on the run after an unwitting crime makes Queen & Slim a tense watch. The writing, performances and direction in the film is outstanding. It is tough to watch because of the subject matter. Good rental.

Friday, March 06, 2020

A Wake in Providence

The awkward premise of meeting your boyfriend's family is exacerbated in A Wake in Providence by race and culture. This film was originally recommended to me because it was shot in RI. It is fun to watch a film with local familiarity. The story is an interesting examination of a relationship that is challenged by this trip home. This is a decent film with a satisfying resolution. On a set design note, the cars are great! An OK rental.

Wednesday, March 04, 2020

Mean Girls

After seeing Mean Girls the musical on Broadway, it only made sense to re-watch Mean Girls the movie. I really enjoyed this the first time around and was impressed with how it holds up. The high school drama of clicks, crushes, classes, status and growth are all well represented in this story. It is well written and the performances are very genuine. An excellent movie.

Monday, March 02, 2020

The Circus

The brilliance of Charlie Chaplin's films is on full blast in the film The Circus. The Little Tramp tries to get a job with the circus and helps out in more ways than one. This is a very entertaining film with a sweet heart. Great rental.

Thursday, February 27, 2020

The Wedding Guest

The title of the film The Wedding Guest is a bit misleading. Under the guise of attending a wedding a young man travels through India and Pakistan. He is a mysterious man on a mysterious mission. This is an intense thriller that is a good rental.

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum

The 3rd installment in the John Wick franchise, John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum, is a bang-bang shoot-em-up ride you won't soon forget. The plot is pretty lame, but the action makes up for it. There are also scenes on a rooftop in a neighborhood I am familiar with that makes me smile. This is a decent rental.

Sunday, February 23, 2020

It Happened on Fifth Avenue

In 1940s NYC, a wealthy family's home becomes a refuge for a homeless man when they are away for the winter. Where? It Happened on Fifth Avenue. Things get out of hand and therein lies the humor and the heart. Though much lighter, this was recommended to me as a companion piece to Parasite. It works. Excellent film.

Saturday, February 22, 2020

Beetlejuice

I felt the need to re-watch the movie Beetlejuice after seeing the Broadway musical version. The film really holds up with great performances and production value. Burton's imagination and Elfman's music propel this crazy story of the dead in the land of the living. Lots of rules. A fun rental with so much heart and so much fun.

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

A Million Little Pieces

The film A Million Little Pieces is based on the controversial novel of the same name. It was alleged that some of the more dramatic anecdotes never happened, yet the book was first portrayed as a memoir. Regardless of the true-life events, this film about recovery is touching, edgy and has a great cast. Watching the extras on the DVD was very interesting. Good rental.

Sunday, February 16, 2020

Ace in the Hole

In the film Ace in the Hole a big-city journalist adjusts to a more rural beat. This film was recommended after Kirk Douglas passed. He plays both the hero and the antagonist in an interesting story involving crisis, drama and media. Good rental. Classic.

Friday, February 14, 2020

The Last Movie Star

In The Last Movie Star we explore fandom, lifetime "so far" achievement, Hollywood, aging, love and sincerity. I liked the editing and performances. In the end they say "the best is yet to come." This is a good rental.

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Wild Nights with Emily

Relationships in the life of Emily Dickinson are central to the film Wild Nights with Emily. Her family, her neighbors, her friends, her words. Good rental.

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Miss Americana

I enjoy documentaries about musicians and the film Taylor Swift: Miss Americana delivered for me. This is a very personal look at her process and her struggles in the industry. She is very open about her feelings of fairness of how she has been treated both personally and professionally. I liked this inside look at a very layered artist. Good doc.

Sunday, February 09, 2020

Birds of Prey: The Fantabulous Emancipation of Harley Quinn

After watching quite a few serious films in preparation for the 2020 Academy Awards I happily sat down to Birds of Prey: and the Fantabulous Emancipation of Harley Quinn for a bit of relief. Harley Quinn has broken up with The Joker and she's a mess. A mess with a charming grin and a mischievous tilt toward revenge. The characters in this film are badass, the action is amazing and the humor downright clever. The fight scenes are beautiful, powerful and skillfully executed. This movie was just what I needed. Well done.

Friday, February 07, 2020

The Cave

The documentary about an underground hospital in Syria is rightful titled The Cave. Heartbreaking accounts of injuries from bombings and chemical attacks are graphic and brutal. The dedication the doctors and health care professionals show is astounding and inspiring.

Monday, February 03, 2020

For Sama

The documentary For Sama was made from of footage shot by her mother for posterity. When she collaborates with a documentarian to put the story together, we get an intimate, passionate story of a family in Aleppo. There is destruction everywhere and the footage is truly shocking. This film was put together with brutal honesty and a lot of love. Quite eye-opening.

Saturday, February 01, 2020

The Edge of Democracy

The trials and tribulation of the difficult politics in Brazil are spotlighted in the documentary The Edge of Democracy. Corruption and tension abound as the presidents move in and out of the office. There is chaos, demonstrations and tension throughout. An unsettling documentary.

Honeyland

Honeyland is a vivid documentary about life, survival, nature, kindness and beekeeping. The results of care are rewarded, the results of neglect gets its due. This documentary is beautifully filmed and almost hypnotic, as we follow the beekeeper through her days. What a wonderful film.

Friday, January 31, 2020

Top 2019

This is a list of my favorite films from 2019

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood
Apollo 11
Avengers: Endgame
Blinded by the Light
Booksmart
Captain Marvel
The Dead Don't Die
The Farewell
Fighting with My Family
Ford v Ferrari
Frozen II
Hustlers
The Irishman
The Kitchen
Knives Out
The Last Black Man in San Fransisco
Little Women
Maiden
Marriage Story
Midsommer
Neureyev
Once Upon a Time...In America
Pain & Glory
Parasite
The Peanut Butter Falcon
The Pieces I Am: Toni Morrison
Spiderman: Far From Home
Toy Story 4
Uncut Gems
Us
Vault
Western Stars

Miller's Crossing

As old fashioned crime stories go, Miller's Crossing is one of the best. A clash between mobsters brings betrayal and violence. The action is played out with a lot of style and great hats. This is a classic gangster movie that I like.

Thursday, January 30, 2020

Crawl

In the midst of a category 5 hurricane, in the movie Crawl, a young girl tries to find her father. As the water rises, it becomes apparent that the real threat are giant alligators. This story is so cheesy and far fetched, but interestingly works on a certain level. This is an OK monster / disaster movie.

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Pain and Glory

The film Pain and Glory explores relationships, career, aging, art and love. When an older actor contemplates his life and accomplishments we experience a very personal film. Gently moving back and forth from the past to the present, we come to understand his head, his heart and his body. The structure works well. This film is beautifully shot with some very creative choices. The performances are excellent. I really liked this film.

Sunday, January 26, 2020

Maleficent: Mistress of Evil

The story of Maleficent: Mistress of Evil is dark and intense. Themes of family, betrayal, hope and love make this a wild ride. There are battle sequences that are not for the kiddos. They are very violent and scary. In the midst of it all, the makeup and hair is off the rails. This movie was better than I expected, but not great and very menacing for a Disney story.

American Factory

A clash of cultures is examined in the documentary American Factory. A Chinese glass company buys a shut-down American auto factory and deals with their past workforce as their US staff. The differences in work ethic and labor structure is interesting.This is an interesting documentary.

Saturday, January 25, 2020

They Shall Not Grow Old

Footage from World War I is restored for They Shall Not Grow Old to tell the stories of the brave soldiers in that war. Peter Jackson implements some awesome technology and research to bring this film to life. The "making of" extras on the DVD are well worth watching. Most poignant quote? "Everything should be done to avoid war." Excellent documentary.

Les Miserables

In Les Miserables, the unrest in an urban neighborhood in France pits the police against the residents. It is intense, thrilling and thoughtful. Police and punks clash in dramatic ways. Good film.

Yesterday

In a cataclysmic event the work of The Beatles is erased from the world. Only one man knows of these works. In the movie Yesterday, this young musician plays Beatles music and people think he is a genius. He struggles with taking credit or telling the truth. The story is a bit unsettling, but I liked the resolution and it was wonderful to sit with Beatles music for 2 hours. Beautifully filmed. 

Friday, January 24, 2020

Breakthrough

The elements of heroism, faith and dedication lead to the miraculous story told in Breakthrough. A boy survives falling through the ice and is brought back from being unresponsive. If this story were not true I don't know if I would have believed it. His Mother is an especially strong influence in his recovery. Crissy Metz plays the Mother and is the heart of the film. This is a good rental.

I Lost My Body

The creativity and heart of I Lost My Body is at a high level in this animated film. The story is harrowing, sweet and a little creepy. I really like this Oscar nominated film. Well done.

Sunday, January 19, 2020

Joker

The latest version of the Joker story left me with a lot of questions. Though Joaquin Phoenix's performance and the music are dramatic and committed, I felt that the scenes were disjointed and made little sense. This was a miss for me.

Saturday, January 18, 2020

Richard Jewell

The story of the bombing at the Atlanta Olympics is told from an interesting perpective in Richard Jewell. This story is very unsettling in so many ways. Dramatic representation of a man wrongly accused. I found it very disturbing.

Friday, January 17, 2020

Missing Link

In my quest to see all of the Oscar nominated films this year, I watched the animated film Missing Link. Acceptance and adventure are central in this delightful film. Laika does some of its finest work here. Worth a watch with or without kids.

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Blue Hawaii

Elvis Presley enjoyed success in film in his early career. The film Blue Hawaii is entertaining, Presley plays a soldier returning home to Hawaii and trying to find work in the civilian world.When he finds his niche good things happen. The film looks good and has a sincere tone. I also learned that my favorite Elvis song, Can't Help Falling in Love, is from this film. I liked this movie a lot.

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Butterfield 8

A young Elizabeth Taylor won the Oscar for her performance in Butterfield 8 in 1961. She plays a single woman dealing with limited options for employment. She struggles with making tough decisions. This film is well written, performed and filmed. The costumes are great too. The ending was surprising to me. A classic.

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Klaus

Klaus is a delightful animated story about a postman who needs letters. His determination changes his world, creates friendships and changes attitudes of  the people. He is especially influential with a cranky old toy-maker who finds a new path. I really enjoyed this holiday movie.

Sunday, January 12, 2020

The Two Popes

In The Two Popes we experience a meeting between Pope Benedict XVI and Pope Francis. The two men spent time together before Benedict retired and the story is an interesting walk-and-talk. This film portrays their personalities on a very human, down to earth level. It is especially fun to watch Francis' love of soccer. Nice film.

Saturday, January 11, 2020

1917

World War I is the setting for the movie 1917 which is a very simple story. Get the information to the front lines in time to save the troops. Two soldiers set off on this quest and experience the many horrors of war in a very short span of time. The one-take in the filming of this story got a lot of attention in their marketing, but I thought the story and the action were compelling as well. This is a graphic war story well told.

The Fisher King

In a quest to ease his guilt, in The Fisher King a popular radio DJ leaves his job to help a man he feels he influenced badly. A deep dive into relationships and decision-making are the basics of a beautiful story. The performances from Jeff Bridges and Robin Williams are outstanding. This is a wonderful film.

Friday, January 10, 2020

Black Christmas (1974)

Waiting for the latest interpretation of Black Christmas, I decided to watch the original from 1974. This college girl stalker film is a horror classic set during the Christmas holiday break at a small college. Very well done for one of the earliest of the slasher film genre. The most impressive part of this film to me was the point of view. The performances from some very young actresses who would go on the big careers are excellent. This film is worth a look.

Wednesday, January 08, 2020

Aladdin (1992)

After seeing the live action version of Disney's Aladdin I had to go back to the animated Aladdin to get my joy back. I remember seeing this movie for the first time in a packed theater from the second row. Along with many other families, we reveled in the animation, the music, the story and the laughs. 28 years later it still holds up, and I was able to enjoy this experience from my couch. This is such a fun film.

Sunday, January 05, 2020

Bombshell

Sexual harassment in the world of television news is specifically explored at Fox News in the movie Bombshell. Though I am not up for glamorizing any aspect of Fox News, it was worth watching for the performances. This is such a disturbing story about disturbing people.

American Woman

In American Women we go inside a family crisis in a tough world. A woman disappears and her family must step up to take care of her child. They have limited resources, but a strong, surprising love fuels their actions. This is a heavy drama with good performances and a big heart. Not all rainbows and sunshine, but realistic to the situations. This is an interesting film.

Saturday, January 04, 2020

Ford v Ferrari

I love the world of race cars, and the film Ford v Ferrari takes us inside that world. Specifically, Le Mans in 1966, when the Ford Motor Company challenged the ever-dominant Ferrari. They hired engineer/designer Carroll Shelby to topple the champion. As interesting as I found the story, the sound design is the true shining star of this film. All of the driving sequences are thrilling. The relationships are also portrayed very well, not only between the characters, but also with the joy of driving and corporate meddling. With outstanding performances and an excellent portrayal of the period, I enjoyed this film a lot.

Thursday, January 02, 2020

David Crosby: Remember My Name

In the documentary David Crosby: Remember My Name David Crosby tries to come across as a musical genius, and he is, but there is such arrogance in his delivery. In the skillful hands of Cameron Crowe, this film chronicles the rise of Crosby's creative career and his personal relationships along the way. Some more successful than others. I've always loved this music, but I don't need to know any more about him personally. Crosby is not a person I would enjoy spending time with. This is an interesting film about an important part of music history.

Wednesday, January 01, 2020

Little Women (2019)

The structure of the film Little Women gives new life to a classic story. I read and re-read the book Little Woman as a child, but it has been a long time since then. This film was like a reunion with old friends. This interpretation is skillful and beautiful, full of excellent performances and some creative editing, that made the story feel new.This is a lovely film. Well done.

Frozen II

Following the phenomenon of Frozen, Frozen II is a worthy sequel. Though it is not enjoying the epic popularity of the original, I liked the adventure we went on with the beloved characters, and a few new ones. The animation is gorgeous. I was happy to see this in a theater with some very enthusiastic, vocal young film lovers. Good movie.