Monday, December 31, 2007

Shooters in DVD

This week, the only release to DVD that I've seen is Shoot 'em Up. A literal blast-fest, chase film with Clive Owen as the gun slingin' hero. Ultra violent, irreverent and inappropriate. A crazy flick!

Sunday, December 30, 2007

The Great Debaters

I'm a sucker for young adult success stories. When it prevails under adversity, I basically melt. The film The Great Debaters is about the The Wiley College debate team, in the mid-thirties. They were so successful, they were invited to debate at Harvard. Racism is an ugly aspect of human nature that is addressed with intelligence and dignity in this film. This was an emotional film that gave me chills at many moments (yes, there were tissue moments too). I don't really understand the art of debate, but I understand the heart of human dignity, the sense of self and the ability to stand up for what you are and what you believe in. I think that is what this film is about. Worth a look.

Saturday, December 29, 2007


I left my house this morning with an ambitious schedule of films. The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, The Savages and Atonement. A theater near Boston was showing all three on a schedule that had me in by 11 AM, out by 5:30 PM. I was worried it was too ambitious, these are not frivolous films. I left the theater exhilarated after 6 hours of quality entertainment. This film fan is pretty happy tonight.

In the film Atonement my pals at Focus Features bring another intense drama to the screen. This time there is love, misunderstanding, wrongful accusation and punishment, war and regret. Is there a final atonement? See the film, read the book, I was surprised at the end. This film has an interesting structure, outstanding performances, beautiful sets, costumes, lighting and camera work. It's even a bit risque. For me, one of the best films of 2007.

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly

A story of a man paralyzed by a massive stroke uplifting? You bet! In the French film The Diving Bell and the Butterfly a man in his mid forties has a stroke and is paralysed, except for the use of one eyelid. He is sent to a hospital on the coast, and a dedicated staff of therapists come up with a system of blinking so he can communicate. This story is true, this story is fascinating, this film is beautiful. The diving bell is his body, the butterfly is his imagination and memory. Most of the visual perspective is that of the paralyzed Jean-Dom, and it pulls the viewer into his world. The technique is mesmerizing. A beautiful tribute to a man who was a writer and an editor at Elle magazine. I smiled when I got home and realized this month's issue was on the top of my magazine stack!

The Savages

For the second time this year, the issue of aging and what to do with a failing elder is addressed in film. In The Savages, Wendy and John Savage are called upon to deal with their estranged father who is succumbing to dementia. They are all flawed, they are all quirky, they are all doing the best they can. This film is sensitive, realistic and poignant. The performances from Laura Linney (Wendy), Philip Seymour Hoffman (John) and Philip Bosco (Dad) are outstanding. An excellent film on a delicate subject. Well worth seeing.

Friday, December 28, 2007


The most recent version of the film Interview, is a remake of the Dutch film, Interview. It is the first of a three part tribute to the slain filmmaker, Theo van Gogh. Steve Buscemi was chosen to direct and act, with Sienna Miller, in this story of a failing political journalist, who is relegated to the ranks of celebrity features. He's not happy and the actress he is trying to interview likes to mess with him. A compelling drama. The documentaries in the Special Features section of the DVD are worth watching.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

I Am Reed Fish

Clever story structure and solid performances make I Am Reed Fish a good film. Reed Fish inherits a radio program and persona from his father, in a very small town. He is young, he is getting married, the future is mapped out, everyone is happy .... except Reed Fish .... but he won't admit it. Then Jill comes back to town *duh*duh*duh*. Drama ensues with a sense of humor and a splash of reality. There's a great twist ending. So well done, so entertaining.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Screen Scenes:Landmark Embassy, Waltham, MA

My love of independent film, and my Oscar project often has me scouring out of state theaters for films that have not yet, or may not come to RI or DVD by February. Several years ago I discovered the Landmark Embassy Theater in Waltham, MA. An easy find off the highway, cheap (free on Sunday) parking behind the theater, amazing films all the time and a great brew pub for lunch a block away. Great combination for a good day with quality film.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Juno Comes to RI Theaters, Merry Christmas!

It can take a while for limited release films to make their way to RI theaters. Juno arrives in local theaters in our small state today, what a nice Christmas present for RI film fans! I had the pleasure of seeing this film a few weeks ago at a Fox Searchlight screening, and felt lucky to be there. I'll be seeing it again soon. This is easily my #1 film for 2007. Meanwhile, since it's Christmas Day, we'll begin with church, then move on to family, food and fun! Have a very, Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 24, 2007

Middle East and the Mob in DVD

Out in DVD this week is a film set in the Middle East, where terrorist attacks are the centerpiece. In The Kingdom an elite FBI team tries to uncover the terrorists. Scary stuff. In Eastern Promises we see the inner workings of the Russian mob in London. The story sort of lies there, this is a violent film with excellent performances.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Sweeney Todd:The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

If you can get beyond the blood and the gore, Sweeney Todd:The Demon Barber of Fleet Street is brilliant. From gorgeous set design, to amazing casting and performances, this film adaptation of Stephen Sondheim's Broadway hit, is dazzling. Dark and gory,the story of revenge unfolds in the streets of London. Many times I cringed at the bloody massacre on screen, but the story and performances overpowered my squeamishness. It may be a while before I order a Bloody Mary, but this musical masterpiece impressed me, well done Mr. Burton!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Charlie Wilson's War

In Charlie Wilson's War, sharp dialogue and beautiful people are a stark contrast to the plight in Afghanistan in the '80s. Millions in refugee camps, Soviet troops blasting the crap out of the Afghan countryside and it's people, it was a pretty desperate situation. Money and weapons were needed to keep a "situation" from becoming a war. Charlie Wilson, a Texas congressman, and CIA operative Gust Avrakatos, rose to the challenge and coordinated a covert war that brought the Soviets to their knees. Performances from Tom Hanks (who resembles the real Charlie Wilson), Philip Seymour Hoffman, Amy Adams and Julia Roberts are so effortless with the words of screenwriter Aaron Sorkin, under the masterful direction of Mike Nichols. A strong film about an important struggle in world history.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Black Book

Wartime sacrifice turns to unexpected feelings in Black Book. This German film follows a Jewish woman who is part of the resistance in World Ward II. She infiltrates the Nazi regime with sex and allure. She lies, schemes and seduces her way into the top ranks to help thwart their murderous efforts. Along the way, under all the politics and violence, a relationship develops that no one expected. Beautifully shot and well acted, a good entry to foreign film this year.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Screen Scenes:Showcase Cinemas, Warwick, RI

My hometown theater is the Showcase Cinema in Warwick, RI. A National Amusements multiplex that is only 4 miles from my house! I can leave the house 10 minutes before the film, and one highway exit, two traffic lights and I'm in my seat before the previews start! This theater was renovated to stadium seating in the late 90's. Shakespeare in Love was the first film I saw in the new setting, I still remember how awesome it looked. The seating is comfortable, candy is sold by the pound and every once in a while they host a Sneak Preview of an upcoming film. All major releases come here, and the staff is very patient with me when I ask if a film like Superman, Spiderman or Pirates will be on a big screen (they have large and small theaters and screens). I'm lucky to have such a nice theater so close to home!

Monday, December 17, 2007

Music, Magic and Mahem (doh!) in DVD

In DVD this week, we have three very different films. The gentle elegance of music, and bringing a song to life, is celebrated in Once. Everyone I know who saw this, went home and downloaded the soundtrack, a very cool film. Stardust is pure fantasy fun. Love, ego, a king, a pirate, witches, a star, a hero ... good stuff. Comedy was strong in film in 2007, and The Simpsons Movie was among the best. I was surprised by how much I enjoyed the gang from Springfield in this funny, irreverent film.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

I Am Legend

Will Smith blows my mind. In I Am Legend, his acting chops are on full display. Forget the smart-mouth, indestructible, action heroes he's played in Independence Day, Men in Black and I, Robot. In this film he shows his more serious skills, as he did in Six Degrees of Separation, Ali and The Pursuit of Happyness, the dude can act. Smith's character, Robert Neville, is the sole survivor in New York City after a virus obliterates the population. Seeing the streets of New York, completely abandoned, is haunting. Broadway, Times Square, The Brooklyn Bridge, Park Avenue, Greenwich Street, Washington Square Park, all familiar to me, all freaky looking in this film. Neville is flawed, he is fallible and he is "going to fix this". I wasn't crazy about the story line of the virus mutating people to zombies, but they make it work, and I will say, the CGI is impressive. An intense survival story with a futuristic, sci-fi twist.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

December Boys

December Boys is a beautifully shot film (Australia). Four orphans, all with birthdays in December, get to take a holiday away from the orphanage. The boys meet some interesting folks on their seaside getaway. A film that celebrates friendship and some unconventional family structures, all based on love. Daniel Radcliffe is refreshing outside of his Harry Potter skin, the kid has a screen presence that's hard to ignore. December Boys is a solid rental.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Friday Flick Picks 92ProFM : Holiday Edition

This post is for ProFM listeners that may need a reference for flicks we chatted about this morning in the holiday edition of Friday Flick Picks. Click on the name of the film for information ..... have a wonderful holiday season!
Juno (my favorite)
I Am Legend
Alvin and the Chipmunks
Charlie Wilson's War
Walk Hard:The Dewey Cox Story
Sweeney Todd:The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

I'll have more movies to talk about in 2008, Happy Holidays!!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

American Pie

Until this week, I had not seen the movie America Pie. I know, classic teen comedy with a heart, should have seen it long ago , I know. I went through a movie snob phase where I thought all teen comedies were crap. Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle turned me around (thanks M&J). Yes, there are bad teen comedies, but pay attention to the ones that are sensitive, topical and witty when they address the awkward, difficult, growing years fondly *argh* known as adolescence. American Pie is a smart, funny, risque look at sex, parents, friends, school and peer pressure. I'm glad I was encouraged to see this classic. Good stuff!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

My Kid Could Paint That

As part of the Second Monday film series, The Newport Film Festivall screened the documentary My Kid Could Paint That. This film looks at the crazy rise to fame of 4 year old Marla Olmstead, because paintings she made were selling for thousands of dollars. A surprising child prodigy story that goes sour when the media infiltrates and questions are not answered. Compelling stuff, which was evidenced by the fact that no one left the Q&A with director Amir Bar-Lev . He was engaging, honest and open about his experience with the film and the Olmstead family.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Screen Scenes:AMC Empire 25 NY, NY

The AMC Empire 25 theater is where I saw my first movie in New York City. The Man Who Wasn't There was the film of choice, and we were at the theater half an hour before the film. My suburban movie experience of arriving at the theater 2 minutes before the film, went out the window. By the time we stood in line for tickets, rode multiple escalators and hit the ladies room, it was time for the film to start. The plush, red, high backed seats make for comfy seating, (and the armrests lift so you can cuddle). The size of this theater alone is mind blowing to me (25 theaters). I think it is at least 5 stories high , the view of 42nd street out the front windows is pretty cool. Along with the theaters there are cafes and restaurants for a total entertainment experience. I also like the easy access to Grand Central Station for the occasional day trip to see a sought after film. Cool theater in the heart of the city!

Monday, December 10, 2007

Park, Potter and Perseverance in DVD

You Must Be This Tall:The Story of Rocky Point Park is out in DVD! A sentimental journey for anyone who grew up in Rhode Island, and a great historical documentary about a pretty cool amusement park. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix is out as well. A strong addition to the Potter franchise. Fun to watch the gang grow up. And finally, Jason Bourne brings us one of the most thrilling films of the year. Another strong franchise addition with The Bourne Ultimatum. Enjoy!

Sunday, December 09, 2007

The Golden Compass

If you're looking for fantasy adventure this holiday movie season, check out The Golden Compass! I have not read the book, I don't buy the religious controversy, I love amazing CGI, I love dramatic soundtracks done right. There is a lot of information to digest in this story, but the adventure, the rescues, the battles (one very intense, not for young ones), and the visuals made it all worthwhile for me.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

The Hottest State

Love stories are abundant in film. It's always interesting to see one that is not the classic formula, where the boy and girl are not Barbie and Ken, meant to live in happily ever after. The Hottest State is the story of William, a young man with a damaged heart from the divorce of his parents. He meets Sarah and falls hard. Sarah is the realistic one, William is the romantic. The combination makes an interesting story. It is a story of discovery, obsession, disappointment and growth. Shot well, with an eye for angle and color. A solid, thoughtful story of romance and growth.

Friday, December 07, 2007


I was asked about the movie Jaws recently, a classic thriller that is a favorite of mine. It brought back a memory. In the early 70's my family was on vacation in Martha's Vineyard. One day, my dad came back from town and said, "we were watching them make a movie, and boy was it boring! They kept doing the same thing over and over. That poor guy got slapped a million times!" Turns out my dad was watching Steven Spielberg direct Roy Scheider getting slapped in the face by Lee Fiero, in a scene from Jaws. For days, we watched them tow the Orca out of the harbor for filming, and hung out on the docks watching the workers weld barrels under the boat. They would sink the boat when the shark attacked, then pump air int o the barrels to raise the boat for another take. We took the bus ride out to Oak Bluffs to see the mechanical sharks (aka Bruce) stored in crates. We got a laugh out of the fact that they didn't work very well. Who knew Jaws would be such a phenomenon? Who knew that seeing a film about a shark that terrorized a beach community would end my love for evening swims? Who knew that my dad would forever think movie making was boring? Who knew, that on that vacation, I would experience movie magic? Lucky me!

Thursday, December 06, 2007


Juno is the happy surprise every movie fan longs for. I saw this last night at a Fox Searchlight screening (t-shirts as swag, thank you very much) and I am smitten. A smart, relevant script, solid acting and laughs (did I mention the laughs?) makes for a very solid movie. The writing on this one is amazing, the delivery as well (did I mention the laughs?). Juno is 16, a junior in high school, and after a casual encounter with sex, pregnant by her best friend. Her decision to carry the baby, with all it's consequences, is an educational, honest ride. Juno, her family and friends won me over. See it, enjoy it! I will do so, as well, again ......

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Surf's Up

When Surf's Up came to theaters, I had about had it with penguins on screen, so I passed. Now out in DVD, I took a look. It's the classic story of hero worship, competition and winning isn't everything. A young penguin, surfing and one pretty funny chicken kept me entertained. Clever writing, good running gags and a cool film technique makes this one's worth a look!

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Screen Scenes:Jane Pickens Theater, Newport, RI

Right before a film starts at the Jane Pickens Theater, a huge, lush curtain pulls back. You are in a real theater (check out the balcony). The Jane Pickens Theater has supported independent film in Rhode Island for many years. It was one of the few art houses in this state for a long time. When my daughter was a student at NYU, the only way I could keep up with her film consumption, was going to the Jane Pickens. I have fond memories of seeing Life is Beautiful with her there.
I'm showcasing this theater first in this series, because it is the centerpiece theater of the Newport International Film Festival. If you've read here, you know I'm a volunteer driver for the festival. More fond memories! NIFF is the sponsor of the Second Monday film series. What is Second Monday you ask? It is a new film series that showcases independent, film festival type films throughout the year (complete with Q&As from the film makers), here in lil' ol' RI. For a film fan, like me, this is film brilliance! Oh yeah, this Monday, December 10th, they are showing the documentary My Kid Could Paint That. Come on down, the film starts at 7 PM. I'll be taking tickets, so when you hand over your ticket, say "hi"!

Monday, December 03, 2007

Pirates, Preschoolers and Profanity in DVD

Pirates of the Caribbean:At World's End is out in DVD this week. Plenty of swashbuckling from Jack Sparrow and the gang. I thought this was a good addition to the franchise (saw it in the theater twice).
In The Nanny Diaries, a college graduate bides her time between college graduation and career commitment by becoming a nanny. A little sobering for her, as the folks she works for are not the nicest parents or employers (or people for that matter). A decent drama.
And finally, my guilty pleasure film of the year, Superbad! Amazing profanities tumble from the mouths of teens who think they have the world (and girls) all figured out. The beauty of this film is the writing and performances, funny, funny stuff. Oh Santa, I hope I've been a good enough girl this year to find Superbad in my stocking!

Sunday, December 02, 2007

You Kill Me

As an actor, Ben Kingsley is one of the smoothest in the biz. In You Kill Me, he plays a recovering alcoholic, assassin, wooing the lovely Tea Leoni. He is looking sharp and acting smooth. This film never came to theaters around here, so I was glad to find it in DVD this weekend. The hit man is trying to get sober, continue his work, and falls in love along the way. This quirky film has humorous moments, but it doesn't get light enough for me to put a comedy tag on it. Good crime drama with a bit if a twist.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

The Namesake

Mira Nair paints a tale of family, heritage and tradition in The Namesake. Not only a colorful story, but a visually colorful and rich film. This is the story of a young man who struggles with his American life and Indian roots. Love, loss and lifestyle are all explored. Touching and real, the power of family and heritage are elements in this modern family drama. A beautiful film I really enjoyed.

Six Degrees of Flick4Friday

The Flick4Friday challenge was a fun exercise. "Choose a movie you dislike. Connect the lead actor to Kevin Bacon in six movie degrees." The idea is to see if this brings up any good movie recommendations.

Because my least favorite movie is so old, I tried to keep the connections contemporary (thanks for the help IMDb). See if you see anything you like here.

My least favorite movie is Lawrence of Arabia, too much sand. The lead actor is Peter O'Toole, so here we go.
1. O'Toole is the king in Stardust, which features Robert De Niro as a pirate!
2. De Niro is a thief in The Score with Edward Norton.
3. Norton is a magician in The Illusionist with Paul Giamatti.
4. Giamatti is a writer in Sideways with Virginia Madsen.
5. Madsen is The Dangerous Woman in A Prairie Home Companion with Meryl Streep.
6. Streep is on vacation (of sorts) in The River Wild with Kevin Bacon. *Whew*

Of these, The Score, The Illusionist and Sideways are my favorites. Enjoy!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Love in the Time of Cholera

Disease and love are not always mentioned in the same breath, but Love in the Time of Cholera blends romance with struggle well. Will love win over society, family, politics, disease?? A fifty year struggle for love has heart and humor. A different slant on the classic love story, the acting and the ending made the film for me.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Screen Scenes : An Introduction

When I was a kid, the only movie theater I knew about was called The Majestic Theater. I thought it was called that because movies and their venues were just that, majestic! Imagine my surprise when I learned that different theaters had different names. I have had the pleasure of seeing films in many interesting theaters over the years, and for me, they all have something special. I revel in the experience of attending movies, whether it be a Saturday matinee or a world premiere. From the locations, to the parking, to the seats, to the events, to the concessions, to the screen, to where I sit, and maybe even who sits near me *whew*. Watch for Screen Scenes in coming posts ........

Monday, November 26, 2007

Sprinkle the Spices in DVD

In DVD this week, a few tasty treats. A pie waitress suffers and triumphs over life's dilemmas in Waitress. The mysteries of the mind are explored through fantasy dream analysis is the anime Paprika. Enjoy!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

I'm Not There

I'm Not There is not a biopic. It is a collage of performances, from six different actors, that capture the essence of Bob Dylan throughout his life and career. I've never been much of a Dylan fan, though I'm familiar with his music and respect his work and fans. As a film fan, this film was a real treat for me. The composition, the concept, the tone, all made the final shot of Dylan himself very powerful. Well done.

PS... I just watched the Dylan biography No Direction Home. I'm Not There is an amazing portrait of the man ... wow! 11/28

Saturday, November 24, 2007

The Mist

The Mist is the second film adapted from Stephen King material to come out this year. In this story, a group of people are trapped in a grocery store, by what is lurking in the strange mist outside. At first the tension comes from "what could it be?", which is a pretty scary thing. Then, we are shown what "it" is, which is also pretty scary. Then, the people turn on each other in fear, which is the most scary of all. Good monster movie that also shows how people can react to fear. Pretty scary.

August Rush

What could be better than Freddie Highmore, Keri Russell, Johnathan Rhys Meyers, Terrance Howard and Robin Williams on screen together? August Rush should be a slam dunk with these folks, but the plot of this film is so ridiculous and full of unbelievable situations, that I found this a very frustrating story. Two musicians have a child that is a musical prodigy, yet they know nothing of him for 12 years. The reunion of this family was mind boggling for me. The acting and music hold this film up, but not enough to make it make sense.

Friday, November 23, 2007


I love a healthy sense of humor, and it appears that Disney's is firmly intact. Enchanted is a tongue-in-cheek look at fairy tales, and the happily ever after. A fairy tale princess is exiled to real-life NYC to keep her away from her "one true love". Despite the evil queen who is behind this, the prince follows in rescue mode, there is singing, there is dancing. The entrances of the characters to Times Square and musical numbers in Central Park show the city in a light we don't normally see. Well presented, funny, great stunts and special effects, this film is a fun ride!

Starting Out in the Evening

Newport International Film Festival has a new executive director, welcome Louisa Percudani. She is establishing a new film series, once a month, to extend the film festival experience throughout the year. The first film of this series was Starting Out in the Evening. A thoughtful film about a writer who has had success and is struggling to finish his last novel. It explores relationships, growth and "the madness of art". The acting and writing are outstanding. Frank Langella and Lauren Ambrose master the primary characters beautifully. Lili Taylor peppers in a strong performance as well. After the film, we had the pleasure of a Q&A with the film's producer Nancy Israel. It was an interesting discussion. This film opens in limited release this weekend and should expand to more theaters over the next few weeks, catch it if you can.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Purple Violets on iTunes

I was lucky enough to be at the premiere of Purple Violets at Tribeca Film Festival this spring. The latest romantic drama from Ed Burns, is now available as a download on iTunes, an interesting distribution decision. I would hope to see this film in theaters, but worth a look in any format. Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Pieces of April

Certain holidays bring out seasonal film favorites. In the weeks leading up to Christmas you can watch It's a Wonderful Life almost any time, night or day. At Easter The Robe and Jesus of Nazareth tend to show up.

A few years ago I saw a wonderful film called Pieces of April , and have declared it to be my favorite Thanksgiving movie. This small, independent film stars Katie Holmes, Patricia Clarkson, OliverPlatt and Derek Luke. April is the family black sheep, living in a small apartment in NYC. Her mother is being treated for cancer, and not strong enough to handle the holiday preparations. The family is driving from suburban New Jersey, to the city for a Thanksgiving dinner that an inexperienced April is preparing. There are two story lines. The family's road trip and April's preparations. The film goes back and forth until two stories converge. This film is funny, poignant and a little edgy. For me it really captures the emotions of family, holidays, traditions and love. This film, from Peter Hedges, is a real gift. Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 19, 2007

Music and Macho in DVD

In this holiday week there are some great films out in DVD. One of the most fun movies of the summer, Hairspray is released to DVD. The story of a young girl and her dream to dance. John McLane returns to save the world from cyber criminals in Live Free or Die Hard. Rescue Dawn is the true story of soldiers escaping from a Laotian prisoner of war camp. Harrowing stuff! Happy viewing .......

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium

Certain stars lure me to films I might not normally see. My latest "movie crush" is Jason Bateman. He was the main reason I went to see Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium this afternoon. I'm glad I did. The fantastical story of a man 243 years old, with a magical toy store, Magorium decides his time on earth is over. The toy store has a life of it's own. When Magorium decides to call it quits, it throws a tantrum, his manager and heir goes into denial, his young pal Eric gets practical and his accountant (played by my man Bateman, affectionately referred to as "mutant") becomes the voice of reason. A gentle tale that deals with coping with death. A little deep, but one to keep on the DVD shelf to give a little comfort when a loved one passes away.

Saturday, November 17, 2007


Motion capture, digitally animated, Beowulf is a crazy ride. With kings and monsters, body parts fly, heroes are summoned and above it all the cry goes out "I AM BEOWULF!" My favorite exchange happens twice, it goes like this:
Wiglaf: "Do I go in with you?"
Beowulf: "No"
Wiglaf: "Good"
Spanning 50 years, the story has it's ups and downs, but generally entertains. This epic is available in 3D, and it's worth it.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Matt Damon *** He's Always Been Sexy

In honor of Matt Damon's hail from People Magazine as the Sexiest Man Alive 2007, I'd like to say, he's been sexy for me from day one. I'm not prone to op-ed in this space, but Matt Damon deserves a little gush. Most of us first became aware of this young man with an amazing film called Good Will Hunting. After an Oscar win, where does a young actor/writer go? Damon went to work. His filmography is impressive. I've seen a lot of his work, and just walking, he's damn sexy. I kind of like his more obscure films because you know he's just working his ass off, again, sexy (love hard working men). Do yourself a favor, see Bourne Ultimatum, enjoy! Congrats Matt, the kudos are well deserved!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Romance & Cigarettes

I love musicals. I love James Gandolfini. I never thought I would see the two together, until I saw Romance and Cigarettes. A creative film from John Turturro, it is the story of Nick Murder (Gandolfini), his indiscretions, his family, his life, his death. It is one wacky crew. Crazy to watch folks like Susan Sarandon, Steve Buscemi, Kate Winslet, Christopher Walken and Gandolfini himself burst into song and dance. This story is racy and raucous, I was highly entertained.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Thieves and Third in DVD

The Ocean's series continues with Ocean's Thirteen, out in DVD this week. Danny and the gang are robbing a casino and the schemes continue. I initially said wait to rent this one, so here you go! Shrek the Third is also out in DVD. Another summer threequel I found disappointing, but this is a rental the kids will probably like.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Lions for Lambs

The star power behind Lions for Lambs is impressive. Redford, Streep, Cruise, the ultimate Hollywood heavy hitters. Interesting to me that I was more affected by the words and actions of the lesser known actors' characters. Young people, either trying to make a difference, or cynical about trying. For me, this is a consciousness raising film that doesn't say anything new, but raises important issues. I think it's good to talk about and question government, war, authority, history. Get involved, try, look back, look forward, ask questions. Lots of questions, and there are no easy answers. I liked this film, it made me think.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

No Country for Old Men

Evil and greed do a stunning dance in No Country for Old Men. A man on a hunting outing stumbles on a drug deal gone bad. He finds bodies, busted up trucks, a pile of dope and a bigger pile of money. He takes the money and the chase begins. An impressive film from Joel and Ethan Coen that will be discussed at length. A crazy, violent story, artful cinematography, outstanding performances, a splash of humor, this is a morality tale that will go down in film history as one of the greats. Not for the squeamish or weak of heart.

The Devil Came on Horseback

I met Anne Sundberg at the Newport Film Festival this summer. A bright, successful film maker, most of my interaction was with her the on the phone, as she informed us of delays in her travel. The poor thing met canceled flights, late trains and traffic jams, but she persevered and made it to Newport with her film The Devil Came on Horseback. Out in DVD, I just finished watching this documentary about the genocide in Dafur. Seen through the eyes of Brian Steidle, a retired Marine who took a contract job in Dafur as an unarmed military observer and American representative for the African Union in that region. Stunned at what he saw there, he took photographs, spoke with officials, and when he couldn't take it any more, returned to the US and tried to help through channels here. An excellent depiction and explanation of what is going on in Dafur, politically and culturally. It is frightening and appalling. It is also frustrating to see how difficult it is to get anything done about it. Awareness is the first step, if you want more information visit the film's website here, or Save Dafur, here. I finally met Ms. Sundberg in person the last day of the film festival, I should have thanked her for making such an important film.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Fred Claus

It's rough to be the sibling of someone famous. In Fred Claus Vince Vaughn plays the older brother of Santa Claus. This is a cute film that is, at times funny, and sometimes preachy (drags in a few spots). An efficiency expert comes to the North Pole with threats of shutting Christmas down if things don't improve. Fred needs money, Santa needs help, I liked story. The special effects in this film are great, all the travel scenes are very cool, and the North Pole looks magical. A fun holiday film. (Thanks for the early screening ProFM!)

Monday, November 05, 2007

Cooking, Christmas and Crisis in DVD

There's a lot of variety in DVD this week. Ratatouille is one of my favorite films this year. A clever story and cool animation. In time for the holidays, Deck the Halls hits DVD. Two neighbors try to outdo each other with their holiday decorations. Very funny and, of course, a lesson. Speaking of lessons, Sicko is Michael Moore's latest documentary. The topic this time is health care. He travels the world comparing different systems, not all are good. Not exactly objective, but good to raise awareness.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Bee Movie

A few words about Jerry Seinfeld's Bee Movie:
with a touch of satire
did I mention funny?

The young crowd I saw this with, cheered at the end, I was with them! A fun ride!

American Gangster

Biopics about real life drug lords are nothing new. In American Gangster, the rise and fall of Frank Lucas is explored. Lucas approached the smuggling and dealing of heroin, in Harlem in the 70s, like a business. He went straight to the source overseas, only dealt with suppliers (no street dealers) and kept a low profile. This made him rich. A diligent and honest cop brought him down. Ridley Scott, Russell Crowe, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Cuba Gooding, Jr., Josh Brolin, Denzel Washington and a great supporting cast, do a good job bringing this story to life. It's an interesting story.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Before the Devil Knows You're Dead

"May you be in heaven a full half hour before the devil knows you're dead."

This Irish toast is the origin of the title for Before the Devil Knows You're Dead, and sets the moral tone. Sidney Lumet masterfully sculpts this film of two brothers involved in a crime gone awry. Bit, by bit, Lumet feeds us the story, with a time-fold technique that makes you think, and pay attention to details. The brothers are flawed and ugly. Prone to bad decisions, haunted by troubled pasts. They attempt a robbery out of desperation, and it has dire circumstances. Building high emotion with lighting, camera angles and slow build scenes, this film is one hell of a ride.

Show Business:The Road to Broadway

Show Business:The Road to Broadway is a documentary following the creation and openings of 4 Broadway shows in the 2003-04 season. Avenue Q, Wicked, Caroline or Change and Taboo, all Tony nominees that year. Theater gives me chills. I am the consummate audience, I think a theater ticket is well worth the dollars spent, especially on the Great White Way. This behind the scenes look at the writers, composers and actors was such a treat for me. The passion and talent of these people is overwhelming, I teared up more than once. The first show I ever saw on Broadway was The Wiz, in 1977. What an intro! First row, first balcony, I was in awe for three hours. Since then, this country girl has made it to the Big Apple to see A Chorus Line, Chicago, Rent, The Boy from Oz, Mary Poppins, 42nd Street, Sweet Charity, Avenue Q, Noises Off, Beauty and the Beast, Pacific Overtures, the King and I, Movin' Out and Hairspray. Every experience was amazing! By the way, the Tony for Best Musical that year went to Avenue Q and having seen it this summer, I concur!

Monday, October 29, 2007

Spidey and Petey In DVD this Week

Spiderman 3 is out in DVD this week. Peter Parker swings through NYC, as Spiderman, saving mankind and his friends. A strong addition to the franchise. Also out is Talk to Me, biopic of the original "shock jock" Petey Greene. An interesting man and a cool film.

And a little bird (thanks Liam) told me that You Must be This Tall : The Story of Rocky Point Park is available for pre-order for the DVD release December 11th. A special 2 disk set, check it out.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Elizabeth : The Golden Age

The joy of my Oscar project, is seeing so much great film. The curse of my Oscar project, is keeping an eye out for that not-so-great film that might get nominated for something like costumes, makeup, score, etc. This time of year, the film might not be out in DVD by February. This is part of the game for me. Thanks to sites like I have a lot of help. Thus, I went to see Elizabeth: The Golden Age for two reasons. One, it will probably be nominated for the costumes, and two, it won't be out in DVD till March.

Fortunately, this film was better than I expected. First of all, we have Clive Owen in the role of Sir Walter Raleigh. He's on my list of actors I'd watch read the phone book. And an impressive performance from Cate Blanchett, again, cast as the Virgin Queen (not sure why folks are so obsessed with this). For a period film it plays out well, and thankfully they kept it to 2 hours. An amazing cast made this worth seeing. Most notable Geoffrey Rush, Samantha Morton and Abbie Cornish. Will it get nominated for the costumes? I'd say yes, and possibly cinematography ... well done!

Pacino in my Living Room

Once again, Inside the Actors Studio on DVD, lent me a little insight to a great actor, Al Pacino. He was happy to talk about his acting education and experience. He can tell a pretty funny story. He also has a sense of humor about people talking about him. As one of the co-presidents of The Actors Studio, he truly believes in the institution as a tool and haven for actors. Very interesting to hear him talk about the writers and directors he has worked with. He was very open about the processes involved in creating the many characters he has portrayed.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Lust, Caution

I have been wracking my brain trying to remember the name of the Focus Features executive I drove this summer at the Newport Film Festival. Through all my Google searches, and photo exploration (it was dark and the guy was sitting behind me) I think it was James Shamus. He asked me a ton of questions, and in our 4 minute encounter, made me feel special.

Today I saw a film he worked on with Ang Lee, and I'm pretty impressed. Lust, Caution is a very cool spy thriller set in World War II China. A member of a resistance faction turns spy to try to bring down a political hotshot, using physical attraction as her weapon. Her role is to lure him into a position for assassination. Both get more emotionally involved than they should. Not a happy ending. Lee brings his beautiful film style to this story. Violent and erotic, an interesting war-time thriller.

Mr. Brooks

Mr. Brooks is an interesting thriller. A serial killer with a devil on his shoulder, just can't stop killing people. On the surface, he is a successful businessman, husband and father. Under it all, he gets a kick out of killing, and treats it like any other addiction. When he is found out by someone looking for the same thrill, things get complicated. Not great, but better than I expected. A decent rental.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Dan in Real Life

Simply put, Dan in Real Life is just a nice movie. This is the story of a man, Dan Burns, who has been widowed and has three daughters. On his way to a family reunion, he runs into a charming woman in a store. They have coffee, they talk, she reluctantly gives him her phone number when they part. On the arrival of his siblings at the reunion, his brother shows up with his new girlfriend. Yes, it's the woman Dan just met! The family dynamic is explored with humor and love. This is not a new story, but I loved the characters, the interactions and the setting. This film was made in Rhode Island last year. Fun to recognize the local setting. This romantic, family comedy is sweet, funny and real, just a nice movie, enjoy!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

De Niro in my Living Room

Thanks to DVD, and Inside the Actors Studio, Robert De Niro spent an hour in my living room last night. One of my favorite actors, the man spoke of his training and his films. Unlike media interviews, Inside the Actors Studio brings a more conversational atmosphere to the actor's interviews. Initially, it takes James Lipton a while to find the right questions to get De Niro to relax, but it happens and he opens up. I think the fact that the audience is filled with aspiring film students motivates the actors to be open and helpful. De Niro was that, and gave a fan like me some insight to the man and his art. I'm thrilled that Inside the Actors Studio has made these programs available on DVD, fun to have stars in my living room!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

The Darjeeling Limited

I must begin by saying that I'm pretty surprised by how much I enjoyed The Darjeeling Limited. I've always been a little underwhelmed by Wes Anderson's work, often a little too quirky for me. This road trip tale of three brothers (who really don't get along very well), on a train in India, charmed me. Their personalities cracked me up, the quest was interesting and evolved. There was drama, a touch of romance and several twists and reveals. Visually, this film is a treat. Color, detail, gags, scenery, I was impressed. If the rumors are true about the short film Hotel Chevalier being shown before this at screenings starting this week, I may go see it again!

Monday, October 22, 2007

Time Travel in DVD

The only thing I've seen that's out in DVD this week is Meet the Robinsons. An animated offering that has a boy searching for his family in the future. Funny, clever, great looking film!!

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Gone Baby Gone

Crime investigation stories make good cinema. Ben Affleck chose to adapt the novel Gone Baby Gone for his directorial debut. I think it was a good choice. Set in Boston, a 4 year old girl is missing, and a private investigator is approached to find her. Old contacts and new influence the investigation. Information and misinformation cause people to make important decisions and judgements. This is a good who done it, with just enough twists to keep it interesting. There is also an element of "what would you do?" that makes the viewer think. I enjoyed this film.

Children of Heaven

The Iranian film Children of Heaven is a story of family. A little boy loses his sister's only pair of shoes. The family cannot afford another pair, so they share a pair of sneakers. The little boy enters a footrace that has a prize of a new pair of sneakers. A wonderful story of responsibility, family and community. I get teased about noticing people's shoes, so shoes as a plot device works well for me. There are several sequences with just shoes, that communicates a search, achievement and even a tense chase scene. In the end, the shoes are a symbol of love and support. The children in this film are charming, it is beautifully filmed. I have no idea where I found this film, but it is well worth a look.

Saturday, October 20, 2007


Extraordinary rendition, the incarceration and interrogation of suspected terrorists, without representation, is legal. In the film Rendition, an innocent man, suspected of terrorist connections, is grabbed by the CIA. He is subjected to torture until he tells them what they want to hear. Those scenes are harrowing. The international politics are disturbing, this is a very dramatic story. Told from both sides, an all-star cast portray the tense emotion of the situation well.

Crazy Love

Real life can hold more drama than any story that is made up. I think that's why I like documentary film so much. In Crazy Love, the turbulent relationship of Linda and Burt Pugach comes to film. They fell in love, he assaulted her, disfigured her, he went to jail, they reunite, they marry, they live happily ever after. Crazy, but true. A wild story, an interesting film. This was screened at both Tribeca and Newport Film festivals this year.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

What the Havoc 2 ?!? ... in DVD

OK kids, the DVD release of a film I really enjoyed this year, slipped way under my radar because they changed the name. Just got an e-mail saying that Normal Adolescent Behavior is out in DVD under the title Havoc 2. I saw this film at Tribeca Film Festival this spring and really liked it. The angst of being a teenager is explored with creativity and heart. I thought it was well done, and it was filmed in RI! I'm a tad confused by the renaming. Yes, Normal Adolescent Behavior is a bit wordy for a film title, but so is The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford *ahem*. I'm sure you can tell, I'm not crazy about the new name. Anywayyyyyy, it's still a good film, and I think it's well worth a look.


I remember seeing Moonraker, at the drive-in, back in the day. I'm amused that whenever I think of this film, I think of space sex and lawn chairs. This Bond adventure goes very hokey very quickly. Stolen space shuttle?!? Saving the world?!? An OK story, but the characters seem a little too camp, with a strong dose of cheesy. The Bond shine is dimming for me.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Aliens, Allies, Alienation, Amo...a big week in DVD!

It's a big week for DVD releases, so here we go. All I can say about Transformers is WOO HOO!!! Such a fun film with great action and a sense of humor. In the middle east, Mariane Pearl tries to make sense of the senseless murder of her husband. A Mighty Heart is a melancholy story of love and politics. In The Hoax a desperate writer tells a story that never happened, way to lose your credibility! Finally, the first film in the Grindhouse double feature, Planet Terror, stands on its own. A super shoot 'em up, Rose McGowan plays one bad-ass-one-legged-chick (you can't say that about too many folks!) Something for everyone ... enjoy!

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Michael Clayton

The legal drama Michael Clayton is a smart thriller. A legal "fixer" has to sort out a mess left by one of his colleagues in a class action law suit against a large corporation. I liked that the characters are flawed, and the legal system and big business take a bit of a dressing down. Though George Clooney plays a strong, vulnerable, persistent Michael Clayton, Tom Wilkinson's performance as the whistle blower really gives the film it's tone and impact.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Lars and the Real Girl

The power of compassion and community is portrayed in the film Lars and the Real Girl. A young man suffers with delusion and makes up a girlfriend. Through the gentle actions and words of friends and family he works through his issues. The plot goes a little far at a few points, but the basic concept of love and diligence worked for me in this drama. I wouldn't call this a comedy, but there are some very funny moments. Well written and acted, Ryan Gosling gives another wonderful performance. The whole ensemble makes this film worth seeing.

Friday, October 12, 2007

200 Cigarettes

New Year's Eve can be rough. In 200 Cigarettes, we see the evening through the eyes of a random group of young folks in NYC, circa mid 80s. The clothes, the shoes and the earl careers of some pretty successful actors entertained me. The most notable cast member in this crew, in light of this year's releases, is Casey Affleck who shone even back in the day. I like the way all of the people are brought together in the end. Kinda chuckling over the fact that "Shake Your Groove Thing" is now stuck in my head!

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Into the Wild

The joy of life is celebrated in Into the Wild. Sean Penn's version of the adventures of Chris McCandless is joyful, intense and astounding. The story of a young man's trek from Georgia to Alaska is the story of goals and relationships. The film is made up of scenes of Chris' time in Alaska, interspersed with scenes of his journey. The people he meets along the way, and decisions he makes, show just what kind of person he is. The spirit of this young man is portrayed by Emile Hirsch, as much in his expressions and body language, as his words. A fantastic performance. The soundtrack features original songs from Eddie Vedder (Pearl Jam) that really capture the essence of the time and space. Penn's film style shows, not only the beauty of the wilderness, but the beauty of Chris McCandless.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Angst and the Almighty in DVD this week

In DVD this week, the film Reign Over Me hits the shelves. This drama looks at post traumatic stress syndrome in a man who lost his family in one of the plane crashes on 9/11/01. A worthwhile drama. In the comedy Evan Almighty, the subject of divine intervention gets a new twist with crazy special effects. Enjoy!

Saturday, October 06, 2007


In Jindabyne we meet a group of men who love to fish. We meet their families and friends, learn about their work. They go off on an annual fishing trip, and come across the dead body of a girl in the river. They have the appropriate reactions, right up to the point where they leave the body, even tie it down so it won't float away, to continue their trip. They may not have committed the murder, but the repercussions of this horrible decision make for an intense drama.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Friday Flick Picks with a Hallowen Twist

Every Friday, I am fortunate enough to share my thoughts on the latest movie releases, live ... on the air ... on Giovanni and Kim in the Morning on 92 ProFM. I've known Gio, Kim and their producer Will, since 2001. Last summer, they asked if I would share my thoughts on films in RI theaters on their Friday show. Me? Talk about movies? With an audience? Sign me up! Friday Flick Picks was born!! They know how much I love movies, so for 5-10 minutes a week I get to tell the ProFM listeners what I think of the latest releases. They always give this web address, and listeners comment here every once in a while. (Thanks guys!)

Last week, a listener asked me about Rob Zombie's remake of Halloween. That forced me to a confession. I don't watch horror films much. If you've read here for any amount of time, you know that film violence doesn't bother me. But as I have gotten older, I just don't have what it takes to sit through a true, gory, slasher, horror movie. Let me say, I respect the film makers and fans of the genre, it's just not for me. In this Halloween season of scary movies, I'm more likely to be found at Spookley the Square Pumpkin than Saw IV!

In the spirit of the season, today Kim shared the most popular movie themed Halloween costumes, posted by Fandango, for this year. Love this list ....

#1.) Captain Jack Sparrow (--Johnny Depp's character from the "Pirates of the Caribbean" movies.)
#2.) Spider-Man
#3.) Dracula
#4.) Batman
#5.) Harry Potter
#6.) Superman
#7.) Darth Vader
#8.) Indiana Jones
#9.) Wolverine
#10.) Borat

#1.) Catwoman
#2.) Tinkerbell
#3.) Cinderella
#4.) Lara Croft
#5.) Cleopatra
#6.) Dorothy from "The Wizard of Oz"
#7.) Princess Leia
#8.) MARILYN MONROE. . . (--In her white dress from "The Seven Year Itch".)
#9.) Edna Turnblad (--The WOMAN played by JOHN TRAVOLTA in "Hairspray".)
#10.) Elizabeth Swann (--KEIRA KNIGHTLEY'S character in the "Pirates of the Caribbean" movies.)

Halloween season is upon us, enjoy!

Monday, October 01, 2007

October Starts Scary in DVD

1408 is out in DVD this week. John Cusack is the anchor of this screen adaptation of Stephen King's short story. Being sceptical about the supernatural can be pretty risky. So starts the scares of October!

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Hotel Chevalier

I am not that gaga about Wes Anderson, but I will say that I'm impressed with his short film Hotel Chevalier. (It is available free on iTunes) In 13 minutes I was drawn to a man and his angst through intimate lighting, beautiful set design and damn near perfect camera-work. I've watched it a few times, and every time I see something new. For me, an intriguing piece.

Friday, September 28, 2007

The Kingdom

The Kingdom is an action film that really made me think. On one hand, it tells the story of an elite FBI investigation team sent to Saudi Arabia. Terrorists have taken American lives, and their job is to figure out how and who. On the other hand, this is a personal story of revenge, because the team members lost a friend in the attack. For me, this story was more personal than politics, but the story mixes the two in an interesting way. The acting is good, the action is like some war films. There is a very intense battle scene near the end that is pretty wild. In the end, there is a pretty rough message.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Tony Bennett : The Music Never Ends

Tony Bennett:The Music Never Ends is not a performance documentary. It is friends and collaborators talking about Bennett's career. Interesting comments on the man and the music are blended with performance clips. Watching the early clips, I think Bennett has improved with age. I had the privilege of seeing Bennett perform live, in a small theater in RI, in the mid-nineties. It was an overwhelming experience. When he sang "It Had to be You", my date had the presence of mind to put his arm around me. *sigh* A memorable night. One other encounter I had with Bennett was at the Tribeca Film Festival. He was in the auditorium when Martin Scorsese was set to talk about music in film. When recognized, he humbly stood up, waved, sat back down and was one of the audience with the rest of us. Clint Eastwood, Alec Baldwin, Johnny Carson, Harry Belafonte, Mel Brooks and more, pay tribute to the man. The joy that Tony Bennett has for his life, his art and success is truly conveyed. Bruce Ricker did a great job putting this together. I really liked the way this was edited. Well done .... check it out, it's in DVD now.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Across the Universe

From the names of the characters (Jude, Lucy, Max, Sadie, Prudence, Jojo, etc.), to the cameo appearances, I thought Across the Universe was a great ride. A love story that takes place in the 60's is the central focus. It is surrounded by self-searching, the Vietnam war and some crazy characters. All of this is done through the lyrics of Beatles' songs. Yes, this film is a musical. I thought it was put together in a very clever way. The lyrics of the songs are telling the story. So cool that when the characters randomly break into song, the words are perfect (thanks Lennon and McCartney). The combination of live action and animation brings just enough fantasy to soften the issues of the 60's. Cameo appearances by Bono, Joe Cocker, Eddie Izzard and Salma Hayek add to the mix. This film was so much fun for me!

Monday, September 24, 2007

Love Stories Abound in DVD

Two very different love stories are out in DVD this week. Evening is a story of memories, yearnings and choices. And parts of it were filmed right here in Rhode Island! The comedy Knocked Up shows how a one night stand can become so much more. VERY, very funny!

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Mary Poppins : Screen to Stage

My kids are very thoughtful. They know how much I love Broadway, they know how much I love Mary Poppins. For my birthday, they took me to see the new Disney production of Mary Poppins on Broadway. Very appropriate since the film Mary Poppins was released on my 8th birthday! Thankfully, it is not a remake of the film. I did not want to compare the two. They use a lot of the original score and story, but there is new music, choreography and characters. It was incredible! The audience, full of kids, parents and grandparents, was almost as entertaining as the show. We had a wonderful time, thanks guys!!

Friday, September 21, 2007

Brooklyn Rules in DVD

The film Brooklyn Rules is out in DVD this week. A group of young men, lifelong friends from Brooklyn, make life choices in a world of organized crime, family and love. This film is from director Michael Corrente, a native Rhode Islander. Worth a rental.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Snow Cake

Snow Cake is an interesting story about a man involved in an unfortunate accident. As a result, he meets people who acknowledge their shortcomings and live their lives accordingly. Well written and acted, this is a solid film. I learned what a snow cake was in the final scene.

Late? Yeah Right .....

This week's question truly boggled my mind. "What movie would you most not want to be late to?" At this point, anyone who knows me is laughing hysterically. I don't think I have ever arrived late to a movie. I cannot imagine walking into a movie in progress. I think every moment is important. I can't pick any one film for this, I can think of many films that have valuable opening scenes. Thrillers probably start out with the most important information in the early moments. I think filmmakers think long and hard about those scenes, and I make sure I'm in my seat to see them!

Monday, September 17, 2007

Sports and Speed on DVD

We are Marshall is a very cool film about the rebuilding of the Marshall University football team, after a tragic accident. Out in DVD this week, this film is well worth renting.

Half of the Grindhouse release is out in DVD this week. Death Proof is a story of a stunt driver and his collision with his match. Classic Tarantino!

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Eastern Promises

I traveled to Boston to see Eastern Promises. Glowing reviews, stars I adore, award winner, a no-brainer ..... right? I wish I could say I liked this film. The acting was outstanding, it was well shot, but what the heck with the story!?!? I'm with the bloody opening scenes, the parallel stories of good guys and bad guys. This film has one of the most dramatic, violent fight sequences on film. They lost me when the bad guys were just mob thugs. I really wasn't even that worried about the good guys .... almost boring. Even at the point of reveal, someone behind me said it out loud in relief. The ending was so flat, it made me sad. I've read a few reviews that said the reviewer wanted to see the film again to form a full opinion. C'mon, we should get it first time around.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

You Must Be This Tall:The Story of Rocky Point Park

Rocky Point Park was an amusement park in Warwick, Rhode Island that is a part of my past. As an adolescent, it was a meeting place, a safe place for young people to have fun. As a young adult, we went to the beer garden, the fireworks, the batting cages. As a parent, I took my kids. The park closed in 1996.

The film, You Must Be This Tall:The Story of Rocky Point Park, chronicles the history of the property on Narragansett Bay from the late 1800's to the present. The vitality and history of the waterfront property is interesting and impressive. Though it had many roles over the years, I remember it as an amusement park. The names of the rides and games came back in a rush. I sat smiling in the dark, many happy memories washed over me. The view from the top of the Ferris wheel, the crash doors on the Castle of Terror, the drenching you got when you rode the Flume, the thrill of the Music Express, Spider and Scrambler!! The most powerful scenes, for me, were the shots of the Kiddieland rides and the carousel. Back in the day, my kids rode them for hours. Some colorful characters are featured in the film. A local roller coaster enthusiast, past employees of the park and local politicians. I knew several of the people in the film, it's a small state. I also learned that a local legend about monkeys in the woods around the park was true, I always thought it was made up.

A wonderful film about a time gone by. Thanks to Dave Bettencourt and his crew for putting it all together. You even got a cool wristband like the ones that let you ride every ride in the park, all day! Well done!

Shoot 'Em Up

Like a crazy cartoon where the gun shots never stop, Shoot 'EmUp is constant action - violence. A baby is the bait in a bizarre chase scenario. Politics and power figure in .... and the bad guy's wife keeps calling him on his cell phone. Paul Giamatti, as the bad guy and Clive Owen, as the good guy, are fantastic. A silly, violent, inappropriate romp.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

3:10 to Yuma

In 3:10 to Yuma a group of law-men in the wild, wild west are escorting an outlaw to the 3:10 train to Yuma for incarceration. Problem is, he's the leader of an outlaw gang and he's not going without a fight .... oh yeah, his gang's lookin' to rescue him too. The bullets and blood fly. The outlaw is not only a quick draw brute, but he's a bible quoting, smooth talker. This is a pretty cool story. The good guy is played by Christian Bale, as a rancher who gets caught up in the journey. The bad guy is played by Russel Crowe. They play off each other well. Ben Foster is the bad ass of the gang. Not only does he look great, but he carries off the "I'm so bad you don't even want to look at me" attitude without a word. Though the ending left me a little flat, this was a decent gun totin' western ...... fun stuff.
P.S. Loved the music!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Lifetime Love in DVD

The film Away From Her is out in DVD this week. A touching look at love and the effects of aging. Time is not always kind, this film addresses Alzheimer's and it's affect on a couple. A film I enjoyed.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Summer Superlatives 2007

The question has been posed, what was the best movie of the summer, 2007? Of course I can't just pick one, I really enjoyed the summer releases. These are my superlatives for the season. Click on the name of the film to see what I thought when I saw it.

Best of the summer: Ratatouille
Most touching: Once
Most entertaining: Hairspray
Most heart: Waitress
Best action: Transformers and Bourne Ultimatum (sorry, I couldn't pick)
Local film maker makes good: Brooklyn Rules
For a good, R rated laugh, Knocked Up and Superbad (again, I couldn't pick)

Sunday, September 09, 2007

2 Days in Paris

I have tolerant friends. I visited my college room mate this weekend. She lives in London, and summers in nearby Connecticut. Amidst everything she had to do for her return to London this week, she joined me to see 2 Days in Paris last night. I know she had better things to do, but she indulged me.

Things heard on our way to the film:
Leaving a cookout: "2 Days in Paris? That can't be a movie, I'VE never heard of it." *ugh*
In line: "Two for 2 Weeks in Paris."
"Two for 2 Hours in Paris." *the poster was right in front of them!!! *

The film? I really enjoyed it. Julie Delpy wrote, directed and starred (though she gave Adam Goldberg top billing) in this romantic, comedic satire. A NY couple, (he's American, she's French) spends 2 days in Paris, after 2 weeks in Venice, to retrieve their cat and cell phone. Confusion and comedy ensue as they run into men from the French woman's past. There are misunderstandings, raunchy references (her father is indescribable) and awkward reunions. A fun, volatile, thought provoking film for me. Well done!

Friday, September 07, 2007

War and Women in DVD this week

Out in DVD this week, in The Wind that Shakes the Barley, Irish brothers in post WW I deal with rebel factions and the government. Cillian Murphy is outstanding in this Palm d'Or winner at the Caanes Film Festival in 2006.

In Stephanie Daley a young woman and her psychiatrist explore their inner struggles. An intense, personal film.

Georgia Rule is an uneven, disappointing mess. The acting is forced, the writing poor, editing clumsy. A real disappointment considering all the talent involved with this film.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Stephanie Daley

At the Tribeca Film Festival, during the Q&A for Normal Adolescent Behavior, director Beth Schacter told the room to see Stephanie Daley. She said it with such conviction, the title of the film stayed in my head. Out in DVD this week, I saw this film last night. An intense drama about a young girl in a troubled family situation, who finds herself pregnant and confused. Tilda Swinton plays the forensic psychologist who interviews the girl after an unfortunate turn of events. Amber Tamblin gives a masterful performance as Stephanie. This will strike a strong emotional chord with women who have experienced any kind of pregnancy. Intimately shot, well structured, a drama worth seeing.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

The Man with the Golden Gun

Continuing on my journey of Bond films, I've seen The Man with the Golden Gun. The last of Ian Fleming's books, published after he died, the story is about an assassin that wields a golden gun. Love the way it comes apart and goes together like a puzzle. There are beautiful women (one an agent), creepy henchmen and exotic locations. An environmental theme is attempted, but falls a bit flat. This film lacks the spark I've seen in past films. Quite honestly, the fight scenes were dull, and the one chase scene with potential, fizzled. A noble effort, but this one missed the mark with me. On to the next .......

Flick 4 Friday : Best Movie with a Sequel

This week's Flick 4 Friday question is "what is the best movie with a sequel"? This was tough for me with all the summer sequels fresh in my mind. So I went to my personal Top10 list and it became crystal clear. My unwavering favorite film of all time is The Godfather. Recently someone asked me my favorite movie of all time, and I think they were startled at how quickly I answered. Not only is The Godfather:Part II a great sequel, it is an excellent film. Every time I watch both of these films, I think it is near-perfect cinema.

For anyone out there reading, who wants to add a thought on these weekly movie questions, go to Flick 4 Friday, and either link your answer in a post on your blog, or just answer as a comment. Fun to read different thoughts on film there, join in!

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

The Lives of Others

When Pan's Labyrinth did not win the Oscar for Best Foreign film this year, I thought they were robbed. But I have just seen the winner, The Lives of Others, and I get it. This German film is beautifully shot, great story and amazing acting. Government surveillance of everyday life has consequences for people pursuing their loves and lifestyle. Not always a happy story.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Flick 4 Friday : Favorite Up and Coming Actor

The Flick 4 Friday question this week asks for an "up and coming" actor to watch. I immediately thought of the actor Jesse Garcia. This young man is outstanding in the role of Carlos, in the film Quinceanera. This film won both the Audience Award and Grand Jury Prize at Sundance in 2006. This film was the opening night film at the Newport Film Festival last year, where it was also an Audience Award winner. I am a volunteer driver for the festival. After the opening night party, in the midst of a downpour, a handsome young man jumped in the front seat of the car I was driving, his friends piled in the back. On the ride to the hotel, he introduced himself as Jesse, and asked me to thank one of the other drivers for waiting for him earlier in the evening. I recognized him from the PR information I had seen on the film and asked how the screening had gone. He was very friendly, enthusiastic and engaging. The film opened in RI a few months later, and I was very impressed with his performance. That year he won the ALMA Award for Best Actor and has completed at least a half dozen projects (film and TV) since then. I don't know what his future holds, but this is a young actor whose work I think will be worth watching.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Dogs and Double Axles in DVD This Week

The funny continues this summer as Blades of Glory comes to the small screen in DVD this week. A fun parody of competitive figure skating that cracked me up! In the drama category we have comedienne Molly Shannon in the drama The Year of the Dog. A solid film about a woman who finds herself and how to be content with her life and loves. Both good choices to rent.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Rocket Science

High school is awkward enough without having a stutter. In Rocket Science, a young man with this speech problem is invited to join the debate team. Oh dear. As the members talk circles around him, he becomes more determined to succeed. This is fueled by hormones and what he perceives to be love. The reveal is heartbreaking and revenge takes over the plot. A cello is compromised, so many funny moments. The characters are well developed, a good coming of age film.


I have always had very vivid dreams. I have always wished I could record them. The Japanese anime film, Paprika plays out that wish in sci-fi/fantasy fashion. In the opening scene a device is attached to the subject's head, and the dreams are recorded to be played back on a laptop .... MY wish on screen! Chaos ensues, the boundaries of dreams, reality and science are seriously compromised. Moral and ethical issues are explored. Cool film, if you like the surreal and animation, check it out!

Resurrecting the Champ

If you can't tell, I'm on a short break from the road trips. As much as I have enjoyed the travel and the company, I'm spending this 90+ degree weekend in my favorite place, the movie theater!

This morning I started out with Resurrecting the Champ . Initially, I thought I was seeing a sports film, but it turns out this story was much more. A sports writer happens on a homeless man who appears to be a washed up boxing legend. The real story is about journalism (get the facts), hero worship, family, love and responsibility. Another film with a lot of talent attached, Samuel L. Jackson and Josh Hartnett are outstanding.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Death at a Funeral

The intricacies of family dynamics and situations gone awry, are explored in the British film, Death at a Funeral. Funny, quirky, bold, this is a film that takes a funeral, and uses it as a setting to explore these relationships. Though the circumstances are over the top, the characters stay true to themselves. A dark, British comedy with a lot of heart.

The Nanny Diaries

As a mother, The Nanny Diaries just made me sad. I went to see this film primarily because of the talent. Scarlett Johanssen, Laura Linney and Paul Giamatti are all actors I like. Unfortunately, the story of parents who put their children's primary care in the hands of strangers bothered me. I was a little surprised at my reaction, because babysitting was a large part of my life for many years. I became a part of several families who valued me and my care giving skills. The urban nanny scene, as portrayed in this film, is nothing like my experience, and I guess that kind of bugged me. Fortunately, the end of this film has a touch of redemption. I was not disappointed in the acting, the performances were excellent. Chris Evans was a nice surprise. This drama left me in a bit of a funk, but I did like it.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007


A few words about Superbad :


Loved it, loved it, McLovedit!

Monday, August 20, 2007

Gifts in DVD

The Ultimate Gift is out in DVD this week. I saw this film with my mother in the doldrums of movie season in March. A good life lesson drama that lends a little thought to why we're here. I liked this one.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

The Simpsons Movie

Do yourself a favor, if you are going to see The Simpsons Movie, see it on the big screen. Adventures in the town of Springfield move from the TV set to cinema with a team of animators that deserve to have their work seen in the media it was created for. Loved the way this movie looked. It's a long Simpsons episode, which is exactly what I wanted. The jokes are inappropriate and irreverent to all. There is a lot more to the story than the trailers implied, I got a lot more than I expected.

Flick 4 Friday : Favorite Alien Movie

I never quite bought the concept of visitors from outer space. So when Flick 4 Friday posed the question "what is your favorite alien movie?", my mind went to the parody, Men in Black. Nothing is too sacred to poke fun at here, from childbirth to the FBI. Fantastic special effects, funny aliens, creepy aliens and the amazing (and hilarious) Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith to save the day!

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Starter for 10

"Knowledge is power" is the philosophy of Brian Jackson in the opening scene of Starter for 10. A sweet story of a young man going off to University, finding awkward relationships, adjustments to lifestyle and a stab at a competitive team. Brian lucks into a spot on the University team for the TV quiz show University Challenge. Misunderstanding and conflict abound as this bright young man tackles early adulthood in an entertaining fashion. The finale was a jaw-dropper for me. Making mistakes, making amends and forgiveness are all good life themes in this British piece. Well done!

Wild Hogs

Lines were long at the multiplex when Wild Hogs was in theaters. I just couldn't do it. The premise bothered me, and I really don't think middle age men on motorcycles is entertaining. If I had paid to see this in the theater I would have been upset. I really wanted to like it. I like all of the actors, and I like road trip movies. The story is ridiculous, the male characters pathetic and the only funny part is during the credits when they do a goof on Extreme Makeover. I'm glad I just rented it.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Flick 4 Friday : Favorite Movie Set at a School

For all the popular high school flicks made in the 80s, I have to say my favorite movie set at a school is School of Rock. My first teaching job was high school science and middle school science and math. I found the middle school kids to be much more honest, hard working and willing to try new things. Those aspects are fully explored in School of Rock. A fake teacher that only wants to enter a rock band contest, has heart and conviction. He recognizes the natural strengths in the kids and goes for it. I want a poster of the flow chart of rock history he uses in his lessons. I saw this for the first time at the Pavilion Theater in Brooklyn, with my kids at 10:30 AM. Most comfortable theater seats in the world, such a good time!!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007


The fantasy film Stardust is a fun ride. A quest story that has everyone chasing a star that has fallen to earth. Witches, lightning chasing pirates and a would-be king all have their reasons for wanting the star. The story lines are clear, and a small twist at the end made this a very satisfying film for me. There is a nice dose of comedy that keeps the tone light. The performances were great, Robert Dinero makes a great pirate, Michele Pfiefer a wicked witch and Claire Danes a charming star. Keep an eye out for the "ghost gallery", they were my favorite!

Monday, August 13, 2007

Stealth and Strange on DVD

In DVD this week we have The Lookout, which is one of the better films of 2007. To steal the contents of a bank vault, a group of thugs use a vulnerable young man, and things go awry. The psychological crime drama Fracture is also in DVD. A murder is committed, and the trial is a good who dunnit with a twist. Also in DVD is the David Lynch film Inland Empire. This is a strange ride that was so interesting to watch. At a 3 hour run time, DVD is a great way to see this piece of art. The strength of all these films are the performances. Enjoy!

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Merv Griffin 1925-2007

Entertainment giant Merv Griffin passed away today. His accomplishments are many, but to me he will always be the man who introduced me to the world of entertainment. The Merv Griffin Show fascinated me. Merv would sit, day after day, with the latest and greatest in movies, TV, comedy, music and literature. And I was a loyal viewer. Last spring, I purchased a compilation of Merv's interviews with 40 of the Most Interesting People of Our Time. From George Burns to Martin Luther King, for me, he was the king of the interview. A wonderful collection I will always cherish. He spoke of his mortality a few times, recently saying his tombstone reads "I will not be right back after this message". How appropriate ..... love ya Merv!

Friday, August 10, 2007


I was invited to attend a screening of Divergence at the RI Film Festival today (thanks ProFM!). It was a pleasure! I chatted with producer Meg Sudlik (and her Dad) and director, Patrick Donnelly, in the lobby of the theater before the film. This pensive drama is an excellent examination of a wounded soldier, home from Iraq to recover from injuries. The view is realistic and unglamorous. There is drama, there are women, there are friends, there is responsibility. Donnelly has a way with the camera. Many times I thought, "how'd he do that?", beautifully filmed. As I left the theater I said to Meg and Patrick "well done!"

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Linda Linda Linda

No, I'm not having an identity crisis. When I saw a review at Mad About Movies I had to rent this film. Linda Linda Linda is a Japanese film about a high school girl-band about to enter a rock music festival competition. Crisis strikes when their lead singer quits, and the replacement they find needs a lot of work. The teen angst is very realistic, this story has a lot of heart. The music is fun, and the title song is catchy!

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Bourne Ultimatum

The Bourne Ultimatum has some of the best movie chase scenes I've ever seen. A gritty film technique gives a very cool tone to the visual. In the last film of a trilogy by author Robert Ludlum, Jason Bourne learns the origins of his involvement as a government agent. He is one smart, tough dude. The crashes he walks away from are spectacular. I really enjoyed this fast paced adventure.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Flick 4 Friday : Favorite Secret Agent

No contest on this question. Bond ..... James Bond is my favorite secret agent. In February I started a project to see all the Bond films in the Eon series. I'm 8 films into the 23 film franchise. Sean Connery will always be my favorite Bond actor, but Daniel Craig gives the character a fresh spin in the latest Bond film, Casino Royale. For all his gadgets, women and assignments, I have always been impressed with the cars he gets to drive. Loved the Aston Martin that sent out an oil slick. The real beauty of Bond is that he always completes the assignment, saves the world, gets the girl and never looses that cheeky sense of humor and style. Best secret agent ever!

Monday, August 06, 2007

Fear and Fidelity in DVD

I'm still in summer travel mode. This weekend my road trip took me to visit friends in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. Beautiful and relaxing, the multiplex in town was not on the agenda. The local micro brew was delicious, we got to throw the peanut shells on the floor at the pub! My most daunting responsibility was to be sure the mountain across the valley did not move. If I do say so myself, I did an excellent job!

For DVD offerings this week, there is "hot property", Shia LeBeouf, in Disturbia. A good thriller I really enjoyed. Also, Chris Rock plays a man trying to stay faithful to his not-so-fresh (in his mind) marriage, in I Think I Love my Wife. This was an interesting film, a good examination of relationships.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Flick 4 Friday : Favorite Child Star

This week's Flick4Friday question is "who is your favorite child star?" After a few days of consideration, my mind always comes back to Freddie Highmore. It may be a bit of a stretch to call this young British actor a star, but watching him shine on screen with Johnny Depp, Kate Winslet, Eddie Izzard and Robin Williams, I'll take that risk. His credits include, Finding Neverland, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Five Children and It, A Good Year and August Rush. This young man captures the character, and hands it to his audience well. When I see talented kids in film, I always hope they will be nurtured on both a personal and professional level. I look forward to more from this young actor!