Tuesday, November 29, 2005

DVD Heats Up and Chills Out

First of all, The Muppet Movie is one of my all-time favorites! Kermit and the gang trek the US, adventure ensues!! What's better than muppets!?!?!?

Mr.&Mrs. Smith is a fun action romp. So much tongue in cheek humor, explosions and crazy chases, a good time!

March of the Penguins is the documentary darling so far this year. A wonderful insight to nature and it's endurance.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Pride and Prejudice

Through the film, Pride and Prejudice, all I could think was "beautiful". The cinematography, the prose, the delivery, all was so satisfying and so lovely. A stellar cast, and beautifully sarcastic script, make for entertaining film. A pleasure for anyone in search of a film with substance .. well done!!

Ice Harvest

The thriller Ice Harvest is a typical heist, double-triple cross film. Lots of blood and criminal angst. The reason to see it are the performances. The cast brings this story home. Oliver Platt is amazing, and John Cusack carries the film well.

Friday, November 25, 2005


My first thought leaving the movie Rent was ... "it was a pleasure". I became aware of the musical Rent through my daughter M. The soundtrack came into our home, our car and our lives. Jonathan Larson wrote a wonderful score, and a story of the lives of young bohemians, struggling to live in the East Village of NYC, circa late 80's. When M attended NYU, I walked the streets that embodied the musical. M's freshman year, she lived in the East Village. I probably would not qualify as a "Renthead", but I am a huge fan, have seen the musical twice (thanks L) and the CD gets a lot of play in the house and the car. This could be some of the best "sing in the car" music, ever.

The film is a true version of the stage show. There are a few subtle changes, that make the story easy to follow. A few songs are left out, but it does not compromise the story. All but two of the cast are original, and the replacements are wonderful. For this fan, it is amazing to watch the original cast perform on the big screen! I marveled at the consistency and quality of the performances. There was also an underlying joy that seemed to come from the piece and it's creator. I have read a lot about Jonathan Larson, and hope he looks down to see the joy and inspiration his work has brought his fans in the last 10 years. Chris Columbus and the cast bring us a wonderful adaptation of Rent, I can't wait to see it again, and own the DVD!! "Seasons of Love" is an understatement.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Pieces of Thanksgiving

One of my favorite holiday-themed movies is Pieces of April. On Thanksgiving Day, we watch April prepare dinner for her family, who is coming from suburbia to NYC for this dinner. When we meet the family, we find out that April is the blacksheep of the family, and they are less thatn thrilled to be leaving the 'burbs to spend the day at, what they are sure will be, a disaster meal. An interesting road trip begins, and we periodically check in to the problems April has with her holiday prep. Poingnant and real, this film touches me.

This Thanksgiving, I took my first road trip to a meal outside of my tradition. Unlike April's family, I was excited to spend the day with M and J and my new son-in-law's family. The travel was smooth, the company a delight and the food, delicious!! Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

DVD Bonanza

There are all kinds of great offerings released to DVD this week!

War of the Worlds is Steven Spielberg's summer blockbuster that offers thrills and special effects galore.

Polar Express is a great holiday offering. This version is a crazy animated ride that will get you in the Christmas spirit.

The original King Kong has a new release, riding the coattails of the Peter Jackson remake due out next month. The classic film holds it's own, and proudly sits on my list of all time favorites.

And finally, Five Children and It is out in DVD. This is a charming British fantasy film, that is a tale of "be careful what you wish for". One of my all time favorites, Eddie Izzard, supplies the voice of "It" (a Henson creation), a fun film.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Lights! Camera! Diner!

On my way home from work tonight, as I came up on the local diner, I saw police lights flashing, cones in the street, I thought there was a car accident. As I got closer, I saw the Beacon Diner lit up like day time, with movie cameras rolling!!! I slowed down to gawk, soaked in the moment. The RI film board has been courting Hollywood hard, and we have the film, Hard Luck, being made in the state for a few months. Mario Van Pebbles is directing, and Wesley Snipes and Cybill Shepherd are in the film. By the time I went home and got my camera and went back, the work was done and the lights turned off. It was very cool to have seen the bright lights of Hollywood, shining in Rhode Island!! PS (I went back the next night and got this shot, digital tecnology is amazing!)

Sunday, November 20, 2005


If you want a film with great acting and cinematography, check out Jarhead. The resume of Sam Mendes, Jake Gyllenhaal, Peter Sarsgaard and Jamie Foxx brings an interesting look at Operation Dessert Storm. I've pretty much had it with war films (Saving Private Ryan and When We Were Soldiers wore me out), but the buzz about Gyllenhaal's performance took me to the theater ... I was not disappointed. This story is not political, it is not judgmental, it is human and honest. This film is true drama, and a look inside the soldiers' heads. Beautifully filmed and well written, this was a film I really enjoyed.

Chicken Little

The sky is falling!!! Or is it an alien invasion!??! The animated version of Chicken Little is a crazy modern satire, that mixes pop psychology with Orson Wells ... Spielberg style. Sound zany? Sound interesting? Sound fun? It is!!!! Chicken Little and his pals have a close encounter, and his Dad learns to believe in him on a crazy, alien ride. Some of the alien scenes may be a little intense for little ones, the little girl in front of me climbed into Mom's lap. The aliens looked just like Doc Oc (Spiderman 2) and War of the Worlds!! Fun stuff, I loved the modern depictions of the characters. Morcubine Porcupine was ultra-cool, and the glue of the film is Fish Out of Water (my fave)!!!


A desperate guitar player, turned gun slinger, seeks vengeance against a drug ring for killing his girlfriend. That said, Desperado is a bloody, shoot-em-up action film by Robert Rodriguez, who delights in explosions and gun fights. Antonio Banderas, Steve Buscemi and Salma Hayek let the blood and the bodies fly, as they try to stay one step ahead of the "bad guys".

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Walk the Line

The story of Johnny Cash in his early life, is poignant and conflicted. From his disapproving father, to the loss of his brother, to an empty first marriage, Walk the Line takes us through those years. June Carter is the rock and the light in his life, and he pursues her for quite a while. Joaquin Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon depict the couple beautifully, and as Kevin Spacey and Jamie Foxx (instrumentally) did in musical biopics last year, play and sing all the music themselves. Witherspoon even learned to play the autoharp for the film. Phoenix is especially impressive in imitating Cash's body movements and facial expressions.

Friday, November 18, 2005


As a huge fan of the TV series Bewitched, I was skeptical of a movie of the same name. Nora Ephron took a fresh approach, with a movie about a TV remake of the series. It is clever, refreshing, and properly laced with mortals and surprise witches. Michael Caine, Shirley MacLaine and Nicole Kidman bring the credibility. Will Ferrel, Jason Schwartzman, Kristen Chenoweth and Kidman deliver laughs, but it is Ephron who supplies the master story to this film. Relax, pop the popcorn and enjoy!!

Wednesday, November 16, 2005


The documentary, Rize, goes inside the youth culture of South Central LA. There we find an alternative to gangs, in dance groups called Clowns. They work toward positive activities for kids, and have a form of dance called Krumping. Krumping is a high energy, aggressive form that is something to see. This is another documentary that has taken me to a world I would never know, otherwise. It's good to see young people, in a difficult, urban environment, try to overcome their surroundings with positive roll models and activities that keep them closer to school, church and family (what they have of it). An interesting film.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Skeleton Key and Madagascar on DVD

The animated film Madagascar comes out in DVD today. As I was strolling by the Central Park Zoo on Friday, I chuckled thinking of those crazy penguins!! This is a cute film for the kids.

For the grownups, Skeleton Key, is also out in DVD. This is a good thriller with an amazing ending!

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Charlie and Chocolate in DVD

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is released to DVD today. Tim Burton gives us a visual delight as he tells the story of Charlie and Willie Wonka. There are 5 "making of" featurettes, which I really enjoy. My personal behind the scene story, is overhearing film types talk about a half million dollar camera lens being dropped in the chocolate river during filming.... ouch!!

Sunday, November 06, 2005


Shopgirl is an interesting portrayal of modern romance. In one case, a young man falls for Mirabelle just on a chance meeting in a laundromat. In another, an older man takes a methodical, and effective approach to win her affections, but is not so ready to reciprocate. It is a bittersweet look at love and relationships. Claire Danes and Steve Martin give excellent performances.

Saturday, November 05, 2005


When I was in high school, I was obsessed with the book In Cold Blood. I read it over and over, carried it everywhere. I loved thrillers, and this was the first one I had read that was true. Capote's writing captured me, and set a standard for a lot of my reading. To this day, my favorite writers are journalists.

The film Capote is a riveting enactment of the years in Capote's life that were consumed by a murder in Kansas. Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Catherine Keener, Bruce Greenwood, Bob Baliban and Clifton Collins, transport us to the early 60's, and how these murders affected the writing of Capote's last full novel. This film was powerful for me, and portrayed one man's writing process and the effects on those close to him.

Hard Eight

I'm not sure how this film got on my DVD rental list, but I'm glad it did. Paul Thomas Anderson takes a protective old man, a hard luck guy and a desperate woman, and weaves them into a family. An old secret leads to violence and extortion. The script is sharp, and the cast works well. This is Anderson's first feature film, and a strong one at that.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Millions in DVD

Two films I really enjoyed are out in DVD this week.

Millions is a morality tale that is funny and thought provoking. An entertaining film!

Heights is a relationship story that intertwines the characters in a surprising way.