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!