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!